The Electricity of Touch


I’ve long been fascinated with science fiction.  I grew up watching Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star  Trek, Misfits of Science.  I loved Madelaine L’Engle’s books, as well as The Girl With Silver Eyes, Dune, anything by Ursula K Le Guin, Lord of the Rings.  I was so hopeful that there was magic in the world, that we are not just flesh, bone, and blood.  I wanted powers.

And as I get older and find some moments of quiet and observation, I realize that I DO have powers.  The world really does not operate in a linear, A+B = C function.  It’s wiley and impressionable and moldable and multifaceted.  With every interaction, there are innumerable forces at play, most of which cannot be seen, felt, or heard.  Or maybe they can be, but we’ve lost the art of reliably, consciously doing so.

And what is truly fascinating, is that now there are studies that prove that that as humans, we are energetically entangled with each other.  You can read one of the studies here.  The gist of it is, there is an exchange of electromagnetic energy when people touch (especially with the right hand) or are close together (within 18 inches).  If a person consciously adopts a “sincere caring attitude,” it could positively affect the heart rhythm of people within their proximity!!

Here is a quote from the study that I find really intriguing, “…when individuals focus their attention in the area of the heart and consciously generate a positive emotion, the heart rate variability patterns become more orderly and coherent,” and “…individuals who intentionally increase their cardiac coherence by maintaining a focused state of sincere love or appreciation can induce changes in the structure of water and the conformational state of DNA.”  The study goes on to imply that a therapeutic technique could become more effective by the practitioner adopting a “sincere caring attitude.”

This gives me so much hope!  I have learned so much in the past 14 months, but I know I still know NOTHING!  But at least, now I know, if I really care about my patients, my touch will be beneficial to them – even if I’m not treating the exact muscle that needs to be treated.  My touch, generated from a place of compassion and positive intent, can be a “magic” power that helps my patients feel better!

What do you think of this article?  Do you notice effects in your body when you are around a positive person versus a negative person?  Do you think you can affect people solely with your positive atttidue?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. ❤

 

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Adding Adductors to your Body Body of Knowledge


Yes.  I purposefully tried to make the title of this blog as confusing as possible.  Why?  Does it mean I’m not a good writer?  Does it mean I don’t care about the edification of my readers?  Does it mean my brain finds pleasure in confusing word play that takes a couple of moments to figure out?  Because, No, No, and Yes. 🙂

So, Adductors.  If you are like me, you probably have only ever heard of adductors as a glump of muscles that get “stretched” in wide-legged yoga poses like prasarita padattonasana (wide-legged forward fold). Before starting school at the Center for Neurosomatic Studies (CNS), I had only a vague notion of some muscles in my inner thigh that were super tight, and which did not allow me to do wide-legged poses without getting a cramp in my butt.  Thank you, CNS, for helping me understand with specificity what these muscles are.

Your adductors are made up of several different muscles that connect from the lower portion of your pelvis to the back side of the long bone of your thigh (the femur).  I realize the pelvis can be a bit of mystery as well, so here is brief overview of the points we need to know about.  The pubis is the bone on the front of your pelvis.  If you are like me, you often accidentally ram this into countertops/tables, and it hurts like a mother.

Directly underneath the pubis is the ischium.  Sit on your hands.  Go ahead – it’s okay.  Sit on your hands.  You feel those bones pressing into your hands?  Those are your ischiums (commonly called “sit bones”).  The pubis and the ischium are the superior (aka “upper” or “northern”) attachment points for the adductors, as you can see in the drawing below (which is a view of the pelvis from the front).  Disclaimer:  these are drawings I did quickly for my own personal study aids, so they are not 100% accurate.  They’ll give you a gist of the anatomy, however. You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

The adductors are made up of the Pectineus, Adductor Longus, Gracilis, Adductor Brevis, and Adductor Magnus muscles.  You can see the specific attachment points in the illustration below. (Please note that my anatomy text led me astray in regards to the attachments of Gracilis and Adductor Longus.  They should actually be flipped).


From the pelvis, the adductors travel at an angle to connect to the back of the femur, as you can see in the illustration below.  I used to think that the back of the thigh was made up of just the hamstrings.  But there is a lot going on back there! All the adductors connect there, as well as many of the quadriceps.


Why are the adductors important?  For SO many reasons!  They have trigger points that can present as pain in the front and inside of the thigh and in the genitals and rectum.  They can cause the sacrum to tilt, which forms an uneven base for the spine, resulting in a functional scoliosis.  Also, the adductor magnus can pinch the greater saphenous nerve, causing the knee to collapse while walking.

At CNS we learn how to treat the adductors, which can relieve the symptoms described above.  But sometimes releasing a muscle is not what it needs. Sometimes it needs to be stronger.  Weak muscles can contribute to pain, just like over-active muscles can.  I love the Adductor Slides Yoga Tune Up® pose; it helps you tune in to your adductors and strengthen them in a fun and slightly excruciating way.  Here is a demo from Trina Altman.

Well, I hope you learned a little something about your body today. If you try the adductors slides, let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading today!

 

 

 

 

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Butt Stuff


Yep.  Are you like Troy Barnes?  Do you love Butt Stuff?   Well then you’re in luck!  We covered Butt Stuff this week.  And by “Butt Stuff” I mean all that meat that covers your backside.  Did you know that there are actually 3 different gluteal muscles that make up “the glutes”?  Yes! It’s true.

The gluteus maximus is the big boy, as the name implies.  It runs from the lateral edge of your sacrum all the way out to your femur (the long bone in the top of your leg).  The top part of the muscle merges into the IT band on the outside of the leg, and the lower portion attaches to the back of your femur.  But underneath that are two more glute muscles!  The gluteus medius lies underneath the maximus, and underneath THAT lies yet another muscle – the gluteus minimus.  Please see my quick sketch below to get an idea of how these muscles lie in relation to each other.  And yes, I forgot the “l” in gluteus minimus and had to go back in and squeeze it in later. Thank you, Tim, for the .388mm pens. 🙂

Underneath all of these layers are the deep rotators of the hip, but I’ll have to save those for another blog post, or this will get too massively long, and I have a test to study for!  And a bike ride and brunch to do!

So, your glutes.  Why are they important?  Well, glute max is the largest muscle in the body and can be up to 2 to 3 inches thick! Consequently, it can have a huge impact on postural distortions.  The glute group can cause pelvic extension (a “tucked” tail), pelvic projection (where the hips are thrust forward of the feet and knees), a pelvic tilt (where one side of the pelvis is higher than the other), external rotation of the femur (“duck feet”), and low back pain.  These muscles can also mimic sciatic pain – sending trigger point referrals into the buttocks and down the back and side of the leg.

Issues with the glutes are quite common, considering we are supposed to use them to MOVE all day long, but we generally just use them to SIT all day long instead. As a result, many people have difficulties activating their “sleepy” glutes.  This became really evident to me when I took a Yoga Tune Up® workshop where we went through the following guided practice:

  1. Lay on the floor, legs straight out (aka savasana).
  2. Try to squeeze your right butt check.  Try the left. Do you know notice any difference in power/contraction?  How far did your hips lift off the floor with each squeeze?
  3. Take a massage therapy ball (a Yoga Tune Up ball, a tennis ball, etc.) and place it under the thickest part of just the right butt cheek.
  4. Contract the right butt cheek for 20 seconds, as you release the contraction, the ball will sink deeper into the glutes.  Repeat 2-3 times, sinking deeper each time.
  5. You can rock your body slowly side to side over the ball.
  6. Without sitting up, reach under your glute and remove the ball.
  7. Let your awareness settle back into the glutes.  Does the right side feel any different than the left?  Any changes in temperature?  sensation?
  8. Contract the right butt cheek. Then the left.
  9. Do you notice any difference in power/activation/sensation in the right side?

If you were like me, you were like, “OMG.  My right side has so much more power now!!!”  You just woke up your butt!!

The YTU balls are great for increasing proprioception and awareness of these muscles, and with regular use, you can keep these muscles active and reduce the chronic tension that is held there.  At the Center for Neurosomatic Studies, we are trained to treat this group of muscles VERY specifically.  In addition to treating the muscle belly (which is what you contact with the balls), we get into the attachments and different layers of tissue, and we can even get into that trough on the medial aspect of the greater trochanter.  The combination of self-massage and bodywork is super helpful for this powerhouse.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.  If you try the exercise described above, let me know how it feels for you.  I personally store a lot of tension in my glutes, so when I get them treated or I roll them out, I feel super relaxed and down-regulated afterwards.  Good luck waking up your butt!

 

 

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The Delightful, Dynamic, totally Dope Diaphragm


In last week’s post, I mentioned that the psoas shares attachments to the diaphragm, so I figured we might as well delve into the diaphragm next.  Please note my extensive use of alliteration within this post, as alliteration is amazingly awesome.

I should start by saying, in this post I will be discussing the RESPIRATORY diaphragm, as there are a few different diaphragms in the body.  The respiratory diaphragm, as the name implies, is related to respiration (aka breathing). It is your primary breathing muscle. Or at  least it should be.  For a variety of reasons we can end up constantly using accessory muscles like the neck and shoulder muscles for breathing. This can lead to chronic neck/shoulder tension, head-forward posture, and an amped up nervous system.  But I digress.  Man, this topic is hard to write about without octopusing off into a tangent!!

The diaphragm is a large, domed-shaped muscle that sits inside your ribcage – think of a parachute tucked up under your ribcage.  This muscle separates your heart/lungs from the rest of viscera (liver, stomach, intestines, etc.).  It forms a seal around your ribcage that enables the pressure changes that inflate and deflate the lungs with each breath.  At rest (meaning the muscle is not contracted), the diaphragm is in parachute mode – domed up inside the chest.  When you inhale, it actually flattens and moves DOWN, pulling air into the lungs, and pushing down on the viscera below.  If you want to understand this concept better, you can watch this video (and learn how to make a working lung/diaphragm model yourself!).

We take about 23,000 breaths a day.  With each breath, the diaphragm (which shares connections to the pericardium which contains the heart), massages the heart above it and the organs below it, keeping everything nice and mobile and moving stuff like blood and lymph through the body.  So you can see why I say the diaphragm is delightful, dynamic, and dope!  Such a helpful muscle!

But like any muscle, it can become dysfunctional due to misuse, disuse, overuse, and abuse (to borrow some language from Jill Miller). When this happens, your posture can be affected, breathing issues can arise (asthma, COPD), and your sympathetic nervous system (flight/flight/freeze) can become ramped up, causing anxiety and panic attacks.

But there is good news!!  Even though this muscle seems inaccessible, all tucked up under the bony cage of our ribs, it can actually be treated with manual therapy.  At the Center for Neurosomatic therapy, we learn how to work with the patient’s breath to get our thumbs up under the rib cage and treat this muscle.  And, yes, that is as uncomfortable as it sounds.  BUT, it is SUPER effective.  Each time I’ve done this treatment, the patient notices IMMEDIATE improvements in his/her breath.

If you don’t have access to a neurosomatic therapist’s thumbs, you can do some self care on your own diaphragm.  As with anything, Awareness is Step #1:

Take a moment, close your eyes, and see if you can tell where you feel your breath happening in your body……………………………………..

Done?  Ok.  Where did you feel it?  Did you feel it up in your neck?  Your shoulders?  Did you feel your ribs expand?  Did you feel your belly move at all?

If you feel all your breath up in your shoulders and neck, try focusing on pulling that breath down lower in the body.  You can use the Yoga Tune Up® Coregeous ball to help.  Check out the video here from one my Instagram Idols – the Movement Maestro.

I hope this helped you understand the darling, dependable, damn-brilliancy of the respiratory diaphragm.  Give it some love today – we think we have it rough if we have to work 50 hours a week. It works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

Have a fabulous Sunday, and let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

Hlo Out!

 

 

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Psoas – The “Hidden Prankster”


My final term at the Center for Neurosomatic Studies began week before last.  We’ve only had 2 weeks of school and already we’ve covered tons of interesting stuff in Advanced Technique class.  I finally know the official protocols for the diaphragm, illiacus, superficial paraspinals, quadratus lumborum, deep spinal rotators, deep costal muscles, and, wait for it….THE PSOAS, aka, the “Hidden Prankster” according to Janet Travell who literally wrote the book on trigger points.

All of these muscles can be implicated in the number one reason people miss work – BACK PAIN.  But the psoas is in a world of its own.  Because of its placement in the the body, it can contribute to almost every distortion imaginable.

The psoas lies on the anterior surface  (the front) of the transverse processes (the horizontal parts of the vertebrae) and bodies of lumbar vertebrae and attaches to the lesser trochanter of the femur (a little bump of bone on the inside of your thigh).  It’s basically this huge strap of muscle that runs deep along your lumbar spine, behind all your guts (aka viscera) that connects your torso to your legs.  When you sit all day, it gets shorter, and shorter and shorter and ramps up its pranksteriness to a 10.

Because of its length, placement, and connections in the body, it can contribute to spinal flexion, extension, and rotation; hip flexion, extension and tilt; torso tilt, and pain in the abdomen and back.  It also shares attachments with the diaphragm, so it can contribute to breathing dysfunctions, which can lead to to a whole host of other ailments like anxiety, depression, head forward posture, neck pain, etc.

It’s a tricky muscle to treat effectively, however, because it is deeeeeep within the body.  We learned a technique to kind of swim down through the viscera to the back of the abdomen.  As you can imagine, this is not a FUN muscle to have treated.  But it can make a world of difference!!

If you can’t find a neurosomatic therapist, or if you don’t want to fly to Florida and visit me, there are lots of exercises you can do to help stretch out the psoas.  Katy Bowman, my favorite biomechanist, describes an easy psoas stretch here, and Jill Miller shares a creative way to use Yoga Tune Up® balls to get into this area here.

All this is to say, I’m so glad I finally learned the official protocol for this little prankster!

 

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On being overwhelmed by free-time


Yep.  I’m on a break from school.  So that means I have no homework to do today.  I have a day off.  No work.  No homework.  Just a day to do what I want.  Oh my God, that is so much pressure!!!

I have this big, long list of things I would do, if I ever had free time.  For example – paint, draw, write, learn to play the ukulele, go to a group exercise class, re-read ALL the things I have already read because I would understand them so much better now, finish one (or many) of the on-line classes I purchased, watch one of the youtube videos open in one of my 10 browser tabs, book a Disney trip for our anniversary, etc.  But, when I get a free day like this, I get a bit overwhelmed by all the options, and it’s also difficult to figure out what I “FEEL” like doing.

So what do I usually end up doing?  Looking at Facebook, shopping on Amazon, going out for lunch, having a drink, watching TV.  Well, at least that is pretty much what I did Saturday and Sunday.  But today.  Today will be different.  Today I meditated. I went for a walk and listened to Katy Bowman.  I am making a slow-roasted garlic pork roast.  And I’m writing a blog post.  It’s a whole new Hlo today.  It’s a breezy day – I can feel a hint of autumn in the air, even down here in Florida.  I think it’s blowing in a good change.

I really do feel a change occurring lately, despite my weekend of semi-non-productiveness.  I have been meditating every day since mid-June.  While I often feel as if I am not really FOCUSED on my primordial sound mantra while I am meditating, as my teacher promised, I think that the daily practice works magic, even if I get lost in thought while doing the practice.

My teacher told me that “every meditation is perfect,” which has really helped me be OK with the rampaging monkey mind that I experience every day while trying to focus on my mantra.  I will realize that I am miles away from my mantra and pull myself back to it, but instead of getting super annoyed and frustrated, I tell myself, “This is perfect” and feel gratitude that I recognized that my mind took off and that I could bring it back to what I WANT to focus on.

Between the meditation and reading “Everything is here to help you” by Matthew Kahn, my perspective on life outside of meditation has changed as well.  While I still feel annoyance, anger, frustration when things don’t go the way that is convenient and comfortable to me, these entrees of emotions are experienced with a  complementary side of observation.  I can watch the emotion bubble up and pair it with the thought, “Everything is perfect.  Everything happens the way it’s supposed to happen.  This is all happening because it’s supposed to happen. What is this teaching me?”  Sometimes I ignore the voice (and get annoyed with it!! ha!!!) and let myself revel in the energy of the emotion, and sometimes I can detach a bit and watch and choose.

This is the path I am traveling down right now.  It’s a practice and a process.  Hopefully as I keep putting energy into approaching life this way, I will get better at it and will have more clarity, confidence, and focus and will be less distracted by the easy path of numbing and procrastinating.

 

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Jamaica Trip – Final Post


This is the final post in a 4 part series about my mission trip to Jamaica.  With this post I pick up with a discussion of the observations/lessons learned from the trip.

  • Patient stories
    • One patient was suffering from hip and leg pain, going down into her feet. I treated her glutes and calves, but it didn’t seem to help her pain much.  Randy was occupied, so I figured I would just rub her feet, as that was her main complaint.  When she got up from the table, she felt much better and gave me a big hug.  Randy and I looked at her chart after she left, and he noted that she was diabetic. He said that rubbing her feet was probably the best thing I could have done for her.  It made me feel really good that my instincts were right!  This patient came back on Thursday and waited for over an hour for another treatment.  Unfortunately, she was still 7thon the list by the time she had to leave.  She lobbied hard to get moved up the list, but we were worried about a revolt, so instead of a treatment, I took a few minutes and showed her how to roll out her feet and lower back using a Yoga Tune Up ball.  She left happy and satisfied, with some solid self-care tools.
    • I had one patient with pain radiating down his leg. I treated his glutes, and the DO student working with me performed OMM on his piriformis, but our treatment did not help and actually seemed to exacerbate his issue. We deduced that his pain must originate higher up in the body – possibly a result of a herniated disc.  Randy took the patient back down to the DOs, who agreed that a disc could be a culprit. The DO was able to help with the pain and also provided a referral for an MRI.  It was a good lesson for me to see that while we can do A LOT to help patients with pain, somethings cannot be fixed with structural therapy.  It’s so important to be part of a medical team, so that patients can get the help they need.
    • I had one patient with pain around the sacrum and the xyphoid process.Randy had never encountered that combination of pain before, so he started running through the list of muscles that connect the hips to the chest.  Psoas!! I worked her psoas and almost immediately she felt a referral up to the exact area of her anterior chest pain.  That was a lesson to me that, if the book doesn’t have the answer, use your common sense!
    • I saw several people literally start DANCING when they got off other therapist’s treatment tables! There was a really amazing energy and joy permeating our beautiful open-air treatment space.

On Friday, we got to relax.  We took a boat trip along the coast, up Black River, and out to a bar built on stilts in the middle of the ocean. I got to see a real, live crocodile.  It was like seeing a living dinosaur.  It could have been the coolest thing I have ever seen. The wind was powerful that day, and it was having fun pulling up bits of the ocean and tossing it in my face while we were in the boat.  I was obliterated by the wind and sea, and I couldn’t be happier.

In a nutshell, this week showed me the importance of being present with the patient, listening to his or her full story and absorbing all the facts, and taking things slow – no need to rush.  I also learned you can’t learn how to do massage therapy by reading about it. You have to DO IT – that is where things start to make sense and you can start to tie the book learnin’ to a body.  It is one thing to be told that someone with a lower limb length inequality will have medial leg pain on the short leg and lateral leg pain on the long leg.  But when you SEE that on a patient, you remember and integrate it. It becomes part of your muscle memory.

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go on this trip. I spent the week in a paradise, surrounded by people I love, admire, and respect, eating amazing food, having real conversations, and learning my brains out.

It has forever changed me. ❤

 

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Jamaica Trip – Part 3


Welcome to Part 3 of the Jamaica series!  With this post I continue the review of my observations/lessons learned from the trip.

  • I definitely experienced many highs and lows over the course of the week. After some treatments I was in the depths of despair, feeling 100% inadequate and overwhelmed.  And then the next patient would respond really well to the treatment and to me, and I was back on cloud 9.  It was a complete yo-yo of emotions, both exhausting and exhilarating.  On the bus back to the hotel each night, I would reflect on the day, on how hard it was, on how I didn’t feel as if I knew what I was doing, on how uncomfortable I was, being in a position of uncertainty and doubt. Net, even with all the discomfort, I was so much happier after a day working on and with my fellow humans than working in an office on a computer all day.
  • I need to study more! We learn so much so fast in this program.  I need to find a way to remember what we have been taught because in the thick of things, my brain really struggled to retrieve all those trigger points, muscle attachments, and protocols.  I could feel the solution to the puzzle just outside of my consciousness, but I could not quite grasp it.
  • If/when I do this again, I need to learn Patwa! While most of the patients spoke English, with the accent and with being slightly hard of hearing, I had SUCH a difficult time understanding exactly what was being said.  Thank goodness for gestures!!
  • I need alone time!! Seven days surrounded by 30+ people was a bit overwhelming.  I meditated almost every morning for 30 minutes, sitting within ear shot of the ocean.  I think that contributed so much to my sanity.
  • My preconceived notions about who we would be treating were completely misinformed. My first patient had been a stockbroker in NYC for several years!  Many of patients had lived in England for years and retired back home to Treasure Beach. One of my patients had actually been to Iowa State University to learn about agriculture!  These brilliant, sophisticated, kind people had moved back to their roots and were busy improving their community.  Very inspirational.
  • Hugs and blessings are a very fulfilling form of payment, especially when your food and housing needs are met.
  • I want to learn more OMM (osteopathic manipulative treatment) from the doctor of osteopathy students. From the glimpse I received, it really piqued my interest.  It seems as if they use longer holds (moving patients into areas of the “barrier”) to effect changes in the tissues.  I want to learn more about this, as I have a few patients who are very pain-sensitive, and I think this might be a gentler approach for them.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the 4th and last installment. 🙂

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Jamaica Trip – Part 2


Welcome to Part 2 of the Jamaica Trip series. 🙂

On our way back from the Falls, we stopped at the Sports Clinic that would be our base of operations for Monday – Thursday.  A few members of our group had been working ALL day to organize the rooms, equipment, and pharmaceuticals that would be used by the osteopathic doctors and students. They were set up on the first floor of the facility.  Our neurosomatic therapy group (4 students and two teachers) would be set up on the second floor of the building, which was an open-air area overlooking the sports fields and a big hill.  The view was awesome, and more importantly, the area was super breezy and open.

Monday started our first day at the clinic.  We didn’t know what to expect – would the Jamaicans be interested in neurosomatic therapy?  Would we be sitting on our tables, staring off into the hills for 8 hours?  The answer was a resounding NOPE!  Starting with the very first day, we were BUSY, seeing patient after patient after patient, breaking briefly for lunch and water and bathroom breaks.  Word had gotten out that muscle and joint pain treatment specialists were in the house, and we were booked solid, with patients waiting all day long to be treated.

I wish I had taken better notes over the course of the clinic days. I fully intended to, but with my day starting at 5:30AM and ending around 10:30PM, I just couldn’t find the time to write!  But here are some general impressions, memories and observations about the experience.

  • A patient, calm teacher with a good sense of humor is invaluable.
    • I have not yet learned how to treat the lower body. However, each day of treatment presented a consistent theme of pain focused on the lower body.  On Day 1, everyone presented with knee pain. Day 2 was sciatica, and Day 3 was lower back.  Day 4 was a blur.  When in doubt, all I had to do was catch Randy’s eye, and he was there in a flash to give me guidance and insight on what to do.  I worked on so many glutes, TFLs, psoas, and upper traps!
    • In some instances, Randy palpated with his hand on top of mine, helping me understand where to go, what I should look for, and what I was feeling.This was SO HELPFUL!!  It put my sensations into a context that immensely increased my awareness and understanding.
  • Growth/challenges.
    • As I mentioned at the outset, I really struggle with self-confidence.This has especially been an issue for me as I’ve started massage school.  For the past 20+ years I have worked in business and banking, so the majority of my time is spent in my head and not in my body.  I only used my fingers to type on a computer.  While I can learn things cerebrally quite well, embodying the knowledge into a felt sense is extremely challenging. I often find myself just going through the motions (e.g. Step 1, compress.  Step 2, compress with opposition. Step 3, glide).   I have bouts where I seriously doubt my ability to be a successful therapist.
      • Working on over 25 people over the course of 4 days helped me see that, while I still have SO MUCH more to learn, I already have the ability to help people feel waaaaay better over the span of just 45 minutes.  By Day 4, I had found my flow. I was comfortable with the patients, could chat and treat, and I was having FUN.  I was finally RELAXED.  I no longer had to hold my breath while I was treating. J.  The bonds with the patients were becoming more synergistic – I was able to solicit better feedback from them, and by working together and communicating constantly, I was able to sink into the tissue and effect change.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 3!

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Jamaica Trip – Part 1


Well, I’m back from Jamaica.  It seems very surreal that I was there. I still can’t quite believe it.  To be honest, before I left a big part of me was kind of hoping that something would come up that would prevent me from going – I would get a debilitating case of diarrhea, my boss would forbid me to go because I am SO vital to the ongoing operations of the bank, my passport would get revoked by the US Government – SOMETHING.  I knew this trip was going to force me out of my comfort zone, make me grow as a therapist and as a human being, and put me in situations where I did not automatically know the A+ answer.  It’s SO much more comfortable to avoid growth, you know! Fortunately, the Universe did not comply with this latent desire.  My karma in this life is to become more self-confident, and the Universe was happy to oblige to make sure this happened.

The trip started off with an easy plane ride from Orlando to Montego Bay.  And then I hit the first snag.  My school, The Center for Neurosomatic Studies, was donating 3 massage tables to The Treasure Beach Women’s Group for use during this and successive clinics.  Shipping the tables proved to be prohibitively expensive, so 3 of us therapists brought tables along with us.  I dragged my 30 lb., unwieldy table through the airport to the “Nothing to Declare” Customs lane.  I assumed that since the school was DONATING the table, it did not need to be declared. The Customs clerk quickly disabused me of this notion and sent me over the much longer “Declare” line, full of people with 10-foot high stacks of luggage.

When it was finally my turn, I explained the situation to the clerk.  After lots of questions about the table, where I was going, what I was doing, who I was doing it with and for, the clerk seemed very confused about what to do and consulted with several other clerks in the areas. Eventually it was decided that I would have to pay some fee in order to bring the table to the clinic. Argh.  They assessed the fee, plus several different taxes, and then sent me back into the airport to get some Jamaican dollars so that I could pay the fee. I paid the fee, showed the proof to the clerk, hoisted the table onto my shoulder and escaped into the heat, where the rest of the group was waiting for me so we could start the 3 hours mountainous trek to Treasure Beach.

If you are at all faint of heart, or if you do not enjoy bumps, sudden, unexpected increases and decreases in speed, barreling around blind corners, sharing very narrow roads with cows and speedy on-coming traffic, I highly suggest doping yourself with Dramamine or some other sedative for bus trips into the heart of Jamaica. That being said, it was actually a really fun ride, especially since we stopped for some amazingly delicious Jamaican food on the way.  Jamaican food is the best food.  ‘Nuff said. We arrived at our hotel late Saturday night, found the treasured remote controls for the in-room AC units, and crashed into bed.

On Sunday, after a stop for snacks at a supermarket (which was made up of 95% carb snacks and Coco Mania rum), we headed out to YS Falls, a gorgeous natural waterfall that offers zip-lining and rope swings into mint blue-green water.  It was stunningly beautiful.  Like most of the jungle and coastline I saw in Jamaica, it was so beautiful that it looked almost unreal.  Such a beautiful country!

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2!

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