This morning I talked with a friend who said he had a "bone to pick" with "massage therapists".
He had a $25, "chop chop" foot massage that included a back massage. Apparently, whoever worked on him "pummeled" him and "worked him over pretty good" to the point that his back was "thrown out" and he ended up at the doctor's office.
There's a few lessons in this story.
1) You get what you pay for.
2) Make sure whoever is working on you is a licensed massage therapist.
3) Deep tissue is not for every body.
I'm not a fan of deep tissue massage. It is a myth that the massage must be deep and painful to do any good. There are clients who have had better results simply by my laying a hand on their back rather than grinding an elbow into their tissue bone deep.
What I've found over the years is that much of the result is up to the client/patient.
What do you believe? Do you believe that you have to be hurt to heal? Do you believe that the only good massage is a deep massage? Do you want to give up your pain?
Do you have a pain in the butt? It could be piriformis syndrome.
The piriformis muscle is a flat, band-like muscle located in the buttock near the top of the hip. It's involved in almost every motion of the leg and hip. Although Web MD says it's uncommon, I see it frequently. When the piriformis muscle gets tight it presses against the sciatic nerve and can cause pain in the buttocks and down into the leg. I've had piriformis syndrome. I was in pain for about two years while sitting whether in a chair or driving in a car. Driving was the worst. It was so painful that I would sit on something to numb the nerve and make it bearable.
Massage does help by releasing trigger points in the area of the piriformis. My technique involves massaging the hamstrings and glutes and then applying pressure to the piriformis and moving the leg to ask the muscle to release. One of my clients laughs and says, "My physical therapist charges extra for this and you do it for free!" I also discuss some self-help techniques such as rotating the foot and upper leg inward, sitting up straight with tightened abs . . .
As for the mind/body reason for piriformis, I knew that I developed it because I hated the driving. I would make a 2 hour round-trip drive 1-3 times a day. I had to give up that resistance. At other times, it's that old cliche - someone is a "pain in the butt". You'd be surprised how many times I've asked a client, "Is something or somebody a 'pain in the butt'?" And the client immediately responds with a resounding "yes!" which opens the door to new perceptions of that relationship and freedom from pain.
It was only by chance that I learned the benefits of Brewer's Yeast for my dog, Dharma, and myself. Dharma recently had her tail and a patch of hair shaved because she chewed it raw. The vet suggested a series of allergy tests, flea products, antibiotics, steroids . . . Dharma received everything except the allergy testing. And still she was chewing on her tail.
As I was getting my teeth cleaned, the dental hygienist suggested giving her a teaspon of Brewer's Yeast with apple cider vinegar and honey. I'm not sure what it does for Dharma but she has stopped chewing on her tail and rump; not to mention that she loves having honey on her dog food.
A little googling showed me that Brewer's Yeast is also beneficial for humans. Yes, it is used to brew beer. No, you can't drink beer and get the same effects. I've been eating it sprinkled on toasted sprounted bread with two poached eggs. In the evening I'll eat it on popcorn. The dosage is about 3 tablespoons. Sprinkle it on whatever you want.
I'm not stressed or nervous. I don't have eczema, carpal tunnel, anemia, fleas nor am I fatigued. I do get hypoglycemic and have digestive problems. Taking Brewer's Yeast has been more effective than taking other forms of probiotics like Straight Shot.
Pixie Stevenson does not dispense medical advice or prescribe the use of any technique as a form of treatment for medical problems without the advice of a physician, either directly or indirectly. In the event you use any of the information in this column for yourself, neither Pixie Stevenson, contributors to this website, nor the publisher accepts responsibility for your actions.
It's hard to believe but I've done the math, and I've touched about a thousand bodies a year for the past three and half years that I've been in Seattle, Washington. Every body has a story; not necessarily the story its owner is telling! What I've come to know is that your body doesn't lie.
Hundreds of Stories
There's the body telling me that the spirit in it is unhappy and doesn't believe it deserves to feel good or to be healthy while its owner is telling me how solid her self-esteem is yet she gets injured every time she exercises.
Another person whose body relaxes with the slightest encouragement and assistance yet she insists on focusing her mind on telling the story of how someone in her life isn't behaving. As she tells the story, her body becomes more and more tense and within minutes she is lying on the table with both hands clasped to her forehead. Gently I ask her to notice that one minute she is just fine and the next minute she talked herself into a red hot mess just by focusing on something in her life that she can't control or accept.
With many new clients, the first thing we do is breathe. The breath pattern is always, "Slowely, deeply in through the nose. Slowly exhaling from the back of the throat." If a person is really stressed, they cannot take a deep slow breath. They cannot breath slowly or deeply. It's as if they're holding their breath, waiting for the other shoe to fall.
Then there are the clients with a mouth set in stone. The lips are almost invisible and the lines have hardened her mouth into the permanent pursed lips of disapproval and anger. With those clients, I save my own breath because I sense the courage it would take to let go of the judgement and criticism it takes to form that mouth is too great.
Your body tells the truth. What is your body telling you?
Defending Your Life is a 1991 movie starring Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep and Riptorn. Albert Brooks is a coward who falls in love with Meryl Streep who has lived a life of courage. Rip Torn is the facilitator in this judgement day comedy. What does all this have to do with vegetables?
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Albert Brooks is eating a meal with Rip Torn. Torn is obviously enjoying his meal. Albert is curious about trying Torn's dish but becomes totally discouraged when Torn tells Brooks he hasn't evolved enough to like it - its poo.
On to vegetables.
To my friends, family and clients who claim not to like this or that, especially vegetables - you can like whatever you like if you make up your mind to like it. You can evolve into liking something. You can convince yourself that you don't like something and you won't. And, you can convince yourself that you will like something and eventually you will.
I've done this with a few things. Natto, fermented soy beans, for one. Natto smells like old wet socks and has a stringy consistency. I WANTED to like it though because it's horribly nutritious. I just kept eating natto until I found a way that I liked it and now I eat every morning for breakfast. The same thing goes for a "greens" drink I've recently started using.
I had to chug the first glassful and truthfully, the second glass. Then I decided to dilute it by using more water. Now I drink it easily. I mean really I learned to like the taste of beer and wine. Why not something that's good for me.
Keep saying you don't like vegetables and you never will. Make up your mind to find a way to like vegetables and you will.
It's easier to stay in shape than get in shape. When I tell people I decided to lose 10 lbs, they look at me like I'm crazy. But I got on the scales that I bought to weight my weight loss and body contouring clients. It wasn't good. I weighed in at 130 lbs, just 5 lbs under my full term pregnancy weight.
Now I know that's not a big deal and that they say at mid-life you gain weight. Since when did I listen to what "they say?" So I made up my mind to lose weight. For met hat meant stop eating out and eating big meals at 8 or 9 o'clock at night; not only will I lose weight but I'll also save some money.
Off to Whole Foods I went to buy a week's worth of low sodium organic soup - lentil, minestrone, split pea, black bean . . . After just a few days I lost almost 4 lbs and was down to 126.5 lbs. Little did I know that Catherine at Spa Chi was planning an employee appreciation dinner.
When Catherine cooks, it's pretty amazing. There was pasta with meat and red sauce; thick New York steaks, baked salmon, salad, sushi, bread, corn on the cob, dessert - eclectic I know but totally delicious. My appetite was already primed for spaghetti from watching the Korean series, Pasta, on Netflix. I tried a little bit of everything but it was the spaghetti that killed me. I ate two helpings of it that evening. Not only did it make me have some pretty bizarre dreams but it also gave me back almost all the weight I lost!
Then the next night, I ate more noodles with black sauce & pickled cucumbers after work. After two nights of noodles, I was back up to 129.5 lbs. Damn!
Over the past few years my diet has changed. It wasn't about losing weight or being healthy, it was about energy. I chose to eat food that provided me the highest energy value which seemed to always be a meat, lots of fruits & vegetables and some carbs.
Spaghetti with meat sauce eventually left my diet even though it was a staple while I was raising my children. What happened?
My approach to food has been the same for over decade now. Eat it then pay attention to how my body feels. As I've grown older and continued to abuse my body in various sundry ways, including playing soccer, I've had to pay attention to what makes my joints aches. It soon became apparent that sugar and large amounts of gluten would make my hands and feet swell and make my joints feel like I had arthritis. Ergo, spaghetti & meat sauce left my diet.
But sometimes pasta is worth the pain. Sometimes it's worth feeling achy to eat a wonderfully rich dish of sweet pea ravioli in cream sauce. Paying the price always seems like a good idea while I'm doing it. When it's time to pay, I sometimes have regrets.
Like this morning. Last night I ate two big servings of spaghetti with meat sauce. I ate too much and felt too full. My feet didn't swell. I don't feel achy and I didn't get indigestion. I just had weird, crazy dreams all through the night and woke up at least twice.
So yes, I'm paying the price for the pasta, probably for over-eating pasta more than the pasta itself. And, I'd like to tell you that I'll never do it again but I know it would just be a lie. Somewhere down the road in a few months or maybe a year, something else will come along when I'm willing to pay the price!
Joe Dispenza is one of the stars of the movie, What the Bleep Do We Know. When I first watched it in 2006, it was life changing. It was only after I moved to Seattle that I realized that I had moved to the same location where the movie was filmed. Later in 2011 after I ended up in the hospital for 2 days with what is now termed "broken heart syndrome", I decided it was time to make even more changes.
After meditating for years, I joined a Buddhist meditation group along with attending sweat lodges once a week. I don't know what led me to Dr. Joe's first book, Evolve Your Brain. It was a hard read that took me over two weeks to get through it but it led me to attending Dr. Joe's Level I workshop in Portland, Oregon.
After that workshop, I knew my heart was healed. The following day I stopped taking the medication. A month later when I returned to my cardiologist for a check-up, she confirmed that indeed my heart was fine.
Dr. Joe's second book, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, is easier to read and probably more practical. I recommend it to anyone who seriously wants to change.
A few Words about Natto (fermented soy beans) - I first heard of natto at the Supreme Science Qigong workshop at the end of July. Jeff Primack, found of Supreme Science, also does a food healing. He mentioned natto.
NATTO - GOOGLE SEARCH
Do a quick Google search and you'll find that it is claimed to have high amount of both Vit Ks, reduce immune reaction and contain phytoestrogen just to name a few of the health benefits.
What's the catch? It tastes like old dirty socks (not that I've eaten any but . . . )
NATTO - AN ACQUIRED TASTE
The articles say that it is an "acquired taste". That would be an understatement. It smells like a stale, wet towel or maybe old wet socks. It tastes the same way. In fact, Danny, who usually has the courage to try anything, refused to taste natto based on smell alone.
Try it or not. I'm sure you could hide it in something. I ate it all and could probably acquire a taste for it but we'll see . . . . :)
After a massage session today, my client commented that she had never had a therapist help her become aware of the tension in her body or how to use her breathing to relax.
My response was, "really?"
Maybe a session with me is not your typical massage therapy session. I start out by gently running my hand up your arm to get you comfortable with my touch. From there we chat a little bit while I begin the massage. Sometimes we chat a lot if that's what you need.
Usually at some point during the session - it might be right away; it might be later - I suggest a breathing pattern that will take you into deeper relaxation. If I can still feel your mind racing, I will have you silently recite a mantra while you breathe.
Almost every client with whom I work cannot tell the difference between relaxation and tension. I begin teaching you what it feels like to have a relaxed arm, shoulder, leg . . . In today's session, my client had no idea her arm was tense and her shoulder was up by her ear! She was used to it!
Probably the most useful thing I teach during a session is to have an awareness of the tension in your jaw and TMJ area. It is the first place in your body where mental stress will appear. If you jawline is tense, your thoughts are tense. Tension then runs down into your neck, across your shoulders and down into the middle of your back.
The homework after a massage therapy session with me is usually the same: 1) make big arm movements frequently to get oxygen rich blood pumping through your shoulder girdle to relieve and prevent tension; and 2) B-R-E-A-T-H-E.