My bodywork and changework practice

I do bodywork at my downtown Austin, Texas, USA, studio (and occasional outcalls if you have a massage table at home), specializing in both integrative Swedish-based massage, including back/shoulders/neck/head sessions, foot massage, Ashiatsu barefoot massage and Ashi-Thai (in studio only), and craniosacral therapy, including clinical treatment for TMJ (jaw) issues.

To read about my offerings or to make an appointment, please click the Schedule Now menu to access my online booking site.

If you’d like to receive my occasional newsletter (no more than once a month) which sometimes has giveaways and special offers, please email me at thewellashiatsu @ gmail dot com with your request.

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How to cure anxiety

Loved this blog post so much, I’m linking to it here! It’s on Tim Ferriss’s blog, and was written by his former assistant Charlie Hoehn.

Note that it mentions the Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) among other behaviors to release tension and calm the body.

http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/02/19/anxiety-attacks-2/

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Riding the energy of the New Year into life skills

Happy New Year from wellbodymindheartspirit!

It seems natural to me that after the indulgences of the holiday season — after all the parties, feasts, special foods, and alcohol consumption lasting from Thanksgiving through New Year are over — I want to simplify, clean up my habits, rebalance.

This is the energy begetting New Year’s resolutions. January is the soberest month, after all!

But how best to work with that energy? I’ve learned from personal experience that most of the time, those good intentions don’t last a whole year. (One exception: I did meditate nearly every day for a year, back in 2010, when I launched this blog. The following year, I was so sick of the daily discipline, I became quite irregular at it. Back on track now, figuring 5 out of 7 days is just fine, and 7 out of 7 is awesome!) So it’s good to think about how you know when you are done. How can you be successful actualizing your intention? Is it related to a specific time period, mindfully learning a new habit that you then do mindlessly, achieving a particular goal, or something else?

I’m riding that energy to use the first two weeks of January to clean up my diet. I’ve resolved to go dairy-free through January 15th. Then I plan to do challenge testing of dairy products, partaking of them again and noticing how they affect my body. My nutritionist, Olivia Honeycutt, will help me through this, building on the food records I’ve been keeping for the past several months.

I’ll probably start with the fermented stuff, yogurt and kefir, which may be easier to digest, and then go on to test cheeses, also fermented, and finally the hard-core dairy products I like, cream and butter. (I haven’t drunk milk in many years, so that won’t be an issue.)

After those two weeks, I’ll have a better idea of which kinds of dairy and how much (if any) my body can handle well.

It’s not that I’m sick (I was, before going gluten-free 7 years ago). Now I’m experimenting with which tweaks to my diet make me feel even better.

I’m also using this period to cut grains out of my diet. I’ll be experimenting after that with ways to prepare grains in ways that don’t rob my body of minerals from phytates and that maximize digestibility (soaking and sprouting first). I miss the texture of grains sometimes, like rice and quinoa. The cookbook Nourishing Traditions has tips on how to prepare grains (and everything else) in healthful ways.

Sugar and honey and other sweeteners are also going by the wayside during this period, except for that daily small piece of 85%-cacao dark chocolate. When it comes to chocolate, I know well how little resistance I have when there’s more sugar in the chocolate. I wanna eat the whole damn bar! 85% is barely sweet and thus non-addictive. I can eat a small piece daily and make a bar last two weeks, getting the benefits of the cacao (antioxidants, magnesium, endorphins) without overindulging in sugar.

I decided I might as well go alcohol-free too. What the heck, right? I have become fond of some red wines and could (and did) drink a glass almost daily. After that, I may cut back to drinking wine only when dining out. Alcohol can be addictive, and apparently it’s never too late to develop a drinking problem, which I definitely don’t want.

Another good resolution is to get the first hour of my day in good order. For me, it’s brushing and flossing first thing, followed by drinking a glass of water with gelatin and apple cider vinegar, doing 10-15 minutes of yoga (vinyasa, easing into each stretch for at least 15 seconds), then meditating for 15-60 minutes, and making myself a morning cup of healthful tea, mixing matcha, puerrh, yerba mate, ginger, turmeric, nettle, reishi, etc., as needed for energy and healing. (I learned the value of this from Tim Ferriss, the supreme life hacker who wrote The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef.)

After doing those things, I go about my day. Every day can be different in my line of work (massage therapy), depending on the number of clients and their needs, working in different locations. It’s nice to have a routine (that I hope will become mindless, like autopilot when I wake up) of healthy habits to start each day.

I am also interested in lowering my stress levels. As a massage therapist, relieving others’ stress and tension is my job. What about my own? Meditation helps, but it’s time deliberately set aside from the daily grind, sitting on a cushion and meditating. What about during the day, when I’m running errands, stuck in Austin’s notorious traffic, running late for a meeting, returning stuff, standing in line, experiencing inner and outer conflicts, hearing terrible news about what’s happening in the world that I can’t do anything about?

I decided late in 2014 to investigate the HeartMath program. I bought a device that attaches to my iPhone (the Inner Balance for iOS pulse sensor) and downloaded a free app (Inner Balance). I plug the device into my phone, attach the clip to my earlobe, and watch an expanding/contracting mandala on the screen to pace my breath. Auditory cues let me know if my heart rate variability is in the low, medium, or high range. (HRV is an indicator of coherence in the autonomic nervous system that correlates with entrainment/harmony of physiological systems. Coherence correlates to feeling positive emotions, so you could call this an attitude adjustment device. Here’s more information if you want it.)

The goal is to be in the high range of coherence as much as possible. As with games, you can set the pace, move up to higher levels, change images, get scores, and more. There are also computer-based devices available.

I quickly noticed how my thoughts affect my coherence level. If my mind wanders to news of a plane crash or nasty politics or war or a crime (I’m sure you’ve experienced this too), I move into the low range. If I bring my attention back to my heart center, I move into the high range.

I plan to do at least one session every day until I can, at will, without the device, reliably switch from stress to a positive emotion and maintain it for as long as needed.

(Not that negative emotions are totally bad. Of course when someone I love is suffering or dies, I will feel grief, anger, etc., and I have memories of difficult times in my own life. That’s life. But when it’s about something distant from me that I cannot personally do anything about, who does it serve for me to feel bad? Not me, not those I most care about. One thing I can do is to support effective organizations that are making the world a better place.)

And there you have it. These are my intentions for 2015, my expression of the “new beginnings” energy that accompanies the turn of the year. First, a two week diet clean-up. Next, an intention to create a new habit for how I spend the first hour of every day — and I’ll be done once I’m doing it regularly. Thirdly, I will use a device to increase my experience of positive emotions —and stop when I can reliably do that at will, without the device.

I will check back in later this year, and again at the end of 2015, to let you know how these intentions and practices have panned out in actuality.

Hope you have a wonderful year and that 2015 showers you with love and abundance and worthy challenges!

Posted in articles, body, books, breathing, food, gratitude, heart, inspiration, science, sitting, yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 27,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

My posting has fallen off this year as I’ve focused more on building my bodywork practice. I continue to be interested in and practice “life hacks” — self-care practices that pay off. Some current ones:

  • Drinking 8 ounces of water every morning (after brushing and flossing my teeth), and stirring 1 tablespoon of organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of gelatin.
  • Doing yoga each morning in the form of slow sun salutations — slow as in about 2-3 minutes of standing forward bend to allow my hamstrings to gently lengthen. I also hold downward facing dog for a few minutes to feel the stretch in the entire back body. I add warrior, triangle, and reverse triangle for strength, hip mobility, and spinal twist.
  • I bought a device from HeartMath that allows me to check on my stress level (measured as heart rate variability) and take steps (heart-centered slow breathing) to de-stress. It works with my iPhone and clips to my earlobe. My goal is to use it three times a day for 5 minutes each time, and for a longer period (15-30 minutes) at least once a week. The beauty is that I can measure stress when I’ve been driving, shopping, and working — just doing daily tasks. It doesn’t replace seated meditation, just adds more body awareness throughout my day.

~~~

The stats that are most amazing to me are those showing where readers came from. By far the most come from the U.S., followed by Canada and the UK, and other countries with a lot of English speakers (Australia, Brazil, India, Germany, and South Africa).

But there are a lot of surprising places that had just one reader, including Uzbekistan, Mauritius, Albania, Grenada, Yemen, Guadaloupe, Reunion, Jordan, and Moldova. And Bosnia and Herzegovina, Aruba, American Samoa, Kyrgyzstan, Malta, Guernsey, St. Kitts and Nevis, Papua New Guinea (!), and Zambia. And Nicaragua, Northern Mariana Islands, Isle of Man, Paraguay, Mozambique, Cameroon, Luxembourg, and Haiti.

The nationality of readers (based on IP address?) has been noted since February 2012. I am still hoping to get readers from Cuba, Greenland, Suriname, and French Guiana in the western hemisphere, several Central and West African nations as well as Lesotho in southern Africa, Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and North Korea in Asia. And there are also probably still some small island nations who have yet to discover this blog.

A girl can dream of collecting readers from all the planet’s nations. Regardless, it is inspiring and humbling to realize the reach of the internet. I hope my posts have been of some small value.

Thank you, dear readers!

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Moving toward a more traditional diet

I’ve been working with a local clinical nutritionist/acupuncturist, Olivia Honeycutt, for a couple of months, tweaking my diet so I can be healthier and have more energy. She gave me some forms for noting what I eat for meals and snacks, when I eat, how much water I drink, how many hours of sleep I get and the quality of my sleep, bowel movements, etc. We get together every couple of weeks so I can share my forms. She looks them over and makes recommendations of little changes I can make to better my health through diet.

Although I was already eating very little grains and legume and no gluten before I started working with Olivia, I’m eating more of a traditional diet now. It was a bit difficult to move past the belief that more fat is good, because for most of my adult life, fat has been considered the cause of heart disease and obesity. Especially animal fat. Fat = bad for a long time, and now fat = good (especially animal fat, coconut oil, and olive oil).

Yet here I am, eating butter, ghee, and/or bacon grease daily. I did not want to gain weight, but I have. It’s actually fat turned to muscle, because my clothes still fit. To lose weight eating like this, you eat more fat earlier in the day.

Epic barsThe great thing about fat is that it satisfies. If I’m working for hours doing massage, and I don’t have time to eat, consuming fat will stave off my hunger for longer than anything else I could eat. It’s fuel. I’ve tried eating various fat-laden foods such as almond butter, coconut butter, Epic bison/lamb/turkey/beef bars, avocados, and some organic extra-virgin coconut oil when my hunger is getting the better of me. It works.

One of the biggest adjustments is that from tracking my water intake, I learned I wasn’t drinking enough water. Now I drink 16 ounces upon arising (with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar). My water bottle holds 27 ounces, and I empty it daily. Another 16 ounces in the evening brings my total to 59 ounces, close enough to my goal of 60 ounces a day, or about half my body weight in ounces. I don’t count the caffeinated tea I drink because it is a bit of a diuretic. I like to drink a glass of water about 10 minutes before eating. I usually eat less. It’s easy to confuse hunger and thirst. When my thirst is sated, I’m not as hungry.

Because I work out 3-5 times per week with kettle bells and do physical work as a massage therapist, Olivia has me eating a palm-sized amount of protein at each meal. I am not an athlete, but I get to eat like one! I’ve been making chicken liver paté from different recipes for the past few weeks to get some beneficial fat-soluble vitamins found in liver.

I don’t eat much canned or processed foods. I eat raw honey, raw fish in sushi, rare beef, and fermented food and drink such as sauerkraut, refrigerator pickles, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, Kevita, wine, cider, or cheese nearly every day.

I’m looking forward to obtaining some natto, having become aware of the vast benefits of consuming adequate vitamin K2 for appropriate calcium utilization (i.e., in the bones and teeth and not in the arteries and brain).

I’m learning to soak and dehydrate nuts. (Well, just walnuts, so far.) The cookbook Nourishing Traditions has been helpful. This diet is similar to the Paleo diet, is influenced by the Weston A. Price Foundation‘s dietary principles, and also by Olivia’s understanding of diet and health from her acupuncture training (having to do with heat, cold, dampness, herbs, seasons, etc.).

I try to eat half a beet and drink a cup of dandelion tea each day for better liver function. I eat dark green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and tropical fruits. And high-cacao chocolate (over 80 percent).

I also make bone broths, especially in the winter, for the calcium. I save chicken, beef, and lamb bones and veggie scraps in my freezer. Sometimes I just buy bones. I have a big plastic container to store them in, and I also add the water from steaming veggies to this frozen stockpile of nutrients.

When I’ve got enough, I thaw it, put the contents into a stockpot, add water to cover, some apple cider vinegar, and salt, and cook it on low for a day or two, skimming foam off the top when it first rises. The resulting broth is flavorful and extremely nourishing. I drink a cup per day when I have it and also use it as a basis for soups and stews.

In summer, and when I’ve run out of bone broth, I try to consume a tablespoon of gelatin every day for the protein. It thickens smoothies, makes my hair and nails grow thicker and faster, and is good for joints and reducing cellulite. I get the Great Lakes brand sold on Amazon.

My gut seems to be working better despite recent stressful difficulties. I take L-glutamine supplements, which help with gut issues and have many other benefits.

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Two remedies for muscle pain that everyone should know about: arnica and epsom salt

MaryAnn Reynolds:

So good, I’m reposting!

Originally posted on The Well: bodymindheartspirit:

A marathon took place this past Sunday in Austin, Texas, and I’ve seen a few runners who came in for massages. (Runners: Ask for Ashiatsu barefoot massage. Every runner I’ve ever worked on loves the deep pressure on the hamstrings and calves.)

It surprises me that so many runners, triathletes, bicyclists, and people who work out are unaware of two over-the-counter remedies that are very effective at relieving muscle pain. Hence this blog post!

It’s not that I don’t want to see you on the massage table. I do. Massage has great benefits, including pain relief. But it’s like this: Very few people can afford to get massage every time they work their muscles so hard they feel pain afterwards. Wouldn’t that be nice, though?

In between massages, here’s how you can find relief from muscle pain. These are remedies professional athletes, dancers, and others who work their bodies hard…

View original 744 more words

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First day it feels like fall

Right now in Austin, Texas, it’s 61 degrees F. The expected high today is 75. This after weeks and weeks of highs in the upper 90s.

Sometimes we don’t get our first cool front until after the middle of October, so this respite is very welcome.

And this early cool front has brought RAIN. Although this past summer was thankfully not nearly as hot as the one 3 years ago that brought devastating fires, still, this August was so hot and dry, big cracks appeared in the ground around my trailer. It was a task to keep the trees planted last year watered.

gingko leaf

Gingko leaf

I’ve got a massage client at my downtown Austin studio this morning, and then I’m heading back home to honor the change in seasons by planting things: a Canby oak, a gingko tree (so excited to have this prehistoric the that turns yellow in fall!), a mountain laurel shrub, a loquat tree, and several yellow bells and Pride of Barbados flowering shrubs for lasting color and hummingbirds.

Then, I’ll be making my first bone broth of the season, from bones saved over the summer when it was just too hot to simmer anything on the stove for hours.

The change in seasons always brings a change in my energy. I need more sleep. My eating habits change. I feel so energized.

So grateful for change after so much sameness!

 

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Pay what you wish: how it works

I’ve been offering pay-what-you-wish massage and bodywork off and on since 2011 for modalities I was getting certified in. This summer of 2014, I offered pay-what-you-wish for all my services at The Well during July and August.

It worked out well. I have had more people coming in to be worked on, new people (often via word of mouth) are coming in, and I am making ends meet, thanks to the generosity of my clients. It’s satisfying.

I am going to continue to offer it indefinitely. I like this way of working. It’s part of the gift economy. (If you’d like to learn more about it, read Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein, visit the website http://sacred-economics.com/, or watch the video below.)

The way I see it, bodywork and healing are what I do, and I’d like to stay busy doing it. I encourage you, if you’d like to receive regular or even occasional bodywork that you can afford to move your life to a higher level of well-being, to connect with me so we can talk about how we can work together, or just make an appointment.

Sometimes people are uncomfortable with this unorthodox concept of pay-what-you-wish, so here’s some thinking behind it, and I hope it will help you feel more comfortable deciding how much to pay for my services.

First of all, by offering pay-what-you-wish massage, it is not my intent to offer “cheap massage”. I work hard to improve my skills. I seek a lot of training, taking classes and workshops, reading, watching videos, and practicing with/on other massage therapists — way, way beyond what Texas law requires to maintain a license. Who knows? At some point in the future, I may be only offering some elite modality and charging top dollar. I’m not there now. I’m having a good time practicing and improving my skills.

Secondly, I want my practice to be full and thriving. If I hold out for top dollar, I will not be working as much. Since I learn so much from doing, making massage affordable gets people on my table more often, and the more I work, the better I get.

Thirdly, making a lot of money is not my top priority. I like money for what it can do for me, and my expenses and obligations are modest. I’m sharing this here because some readers may not be aware that there are real, regular people whose lives and decisions are not driven by the need to make as much money as possible by working at a job that is stressful. I too have had a mortgage, a child at home, a lot of debt, and stressful jobs. Not any more. My work now is driven by my desire to be of service and to take excellent care of myself while doing so.

Fourthly, in the so-called olden days, healers of all kinds – herbalists, hands-on healers, shamans – received support from their communities in many forms in exchange for their services. Entire villages could exist without money being exchanged because people traded and bartered for goods and services, and everyone did what they could to help the whole village thrive. If someone was poor and needed healing, the healers didn’t turn them away. If they could only pay with food or labor or kind deeds that benefited others in the community, that was acceptable.

Importantly, there would always be an exchange (because everyone has something to offer, and it’s crucial to recognize that), and if times were hard for the community, times were hard for the healers too.

Now we live in bigger communities in a society that uses money for most of its trade, but the good life is still about being connected and reciprocity.

Fifthly, if it’s not sustainable, it ends. I’ll change the way I do business or find another livelihood. This is what I wish to offer now, and so far I feel great about every single one of my pay-what-you-wish sessions and what I was offered in payment.

Here are some guidelines about how much to pay:

  • If you can afford full price, I gratefully accept. My full-price rate is $75 for an hour. For ninety minutes, full price is $105. (With the customary 20% gratuities, those amounts rise to $90 and $129 if you can afford it. Another great thing about pay-what-you-wish is that tipping is not accepted. Oh, I guess you could give me a tip about a good movie or restaurant, if you wish!)
  • If you are totally flush with money, and you totally loved your session, you can pay  more if you like!
  • If these are beyond your means at this time, here’s something to consider. As of late August 2014, two major “discount” massage chains in Austin offer a 50-60 minute massage for $44-60. Adding the gratuity expected at these establishments puts these massages in the range of $54-70. Scale up or down for 90 or 30 minute sessions. If these prices are what you can afford, please consider booking an appointment with me.
  • Here’s how I differ from a chain: I’m interested in getting to know your body, your tension patterns, your habitual postures, your tender points, so I can deliver relief and healing, so I take good notes and refer to them before your next visit. I want to work with you to reduce your overall stress and pain levels over time. I can advise you on how to prevent/relieve tension from working at a desk job. I can offer to teach you stretches, exercises, and self-care techniques you can do to enhance your quality of life. I can refer you to other good alternative health care practitioners and trainers. I give you the full time you pay for, if you are not running late. I offer better music, nature sounds, or silence if you prefer. I offer a variety of essential oil aromatherapy choices if you want it. I keep arnica on hand for your bruises and muscle pain. I’m more personal, less corporate.
  • If this is still beyond your means and you need bodywork, talk to me. I know incomes can fluctuate. Maybe you’re pursuing work you love, but the income isn’t there yet. Maybe you’re just not driven to earn a lot. Maybe you’ve had some misfortune. Maybe you feel stuck in a low-paying job. Maybe you’ve had some unexpectedly high expenses. You may even be stressed out about your situation, imagine that. I want to help you out, get you back on your feet, relieve your stress, change your energy for the better. Just ask what’s acceptable.
  • I am willing to trade or barter for services I need. Electrical work? Sign painting? Car detailing? Housekeeping? Gardening? Hauling? Delicious meals? Ask.
  • Also, if you would like to offer me a delightful non-monetary token of your esteem (some green or herbal tea, flowers or plants, a nice bottle of red wine, art, music, poetry, books, tickets, pickings from your garden, bone broth or other Paleo/WAPF diet food), please, just go right ahead and enchant me!
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