Sacroiliac joint healed!

Back in late June 2015, I wrote about using a sacroiliac belt for pain in that joint. (See When the healer needs healing: chronic pain in a sacroiliac joint).

I posted a few updates. (See Update on using the sacroiliac beltA cheaper sacroiliac belt, working toward “the new normal”, and SI belt update, plus insoles for Morton’s foot.)

It’s now January 2017, and I’m here to give you an update, prompted by a couple of comments I’ve received recently from readers who are suffering from SI joint pain.

I finally stopped wearing the belt last month, in December 2016. That’s right, I wore it most of the time for 18 months, a year and a half. My pelvis feels pretty aligned now. It’s not perfect but it is strong and tight enough that it stays in place . Since I started wearing it, I haven’t had that unstable, painful feeling of my SI joint going out of place. Continue reading

When the healer needs healing: chronic pain in a sacroiliac joint

There’s an old saying that people go into healing professions to heal themselves.

I believe it’s true. I went to many healers seeking healing of my own body, mind, heart, and spirit. All of those healers helped me, and none hurt me.

Could I have saved myself pain, time, and money by knowing which kind of healer I needed most for what issue? Yes. I didn’t have a guide, just my own knowledge and intuition and willingness to see what worked.

For the longest time it never occurred to me that I could become a healer. I liked the people who worked on healing me. Their work seemed more interesting than my jobs in government and technology. They were obviously caring people who had honed various kinds of healing skills, and the healing work seemed to be an extension of who they were, not just a job they did.

When I finally began to think about what I wanted to do in “retirement,” healing came to mind…and here I am, in a new profession, offering massage therapy, bodywork, and changework.

For 19 years, since a car wreck on April 24, 1996, I have had semi-chronic pain in one of my sacroiliac joints. In the accident, my lap belt held, my shoulder belt didn’t, the air bag didn’t deploy, there were two head-banging impacts (I was knocked unconscious), and my sacroiliac joints took the brunt of the trauma when my upper body tried to separate from my lower body.

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Last week I got the help I needed to know how to fix it.  Continue reading

Tracking your daily food choices: the Standard Process Daily Record of Food Intake

I’ve been working with nutritionist/acupuncturist Olivia Honeycutt at Merritt Wellness for a while now. One of the tools Olivia gives her clients is the Standard Process Daily Record of Food Intake form.

Standard Process Daily Record of Food Intake

You don’t have to be going to a nutritionist to use this tool, although you may want to if you are having issues you suspect are diet-related. So many health issues are now considered to be diet-related, including auto-immune diseases formerly believed to be purely genetic, that this tool could be a useful ally on your path to better health. Continue reading

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!

Boundaries checklist for healthy relationships

Relationships : A Checklist on Boundaries in a Relationship.

I believe I have posted this before, but if I haven’t, here it is now. It contrasts relationships where you give up your boundaries and when your boundaries are intact. I’ve found it helpful and bookmarked it.

It includes skills like being clear about your preferences and acting on them (I heard Byron Katie say she’s constantly asking herself what she wants), doing more when it gets results, trusting your own intuition, and only being satisfied when you are thriving (rather than coping and surviving).

Some items that I’m resonating with now:

  • Having a personal standard, albeit flexible, that applies to everyone and asks for accountability.
  • Are strongly affected by your partner’s behavior and take it as information.
  • Let yourself feel anger, say “ouch” and embark upon a program of change.
  • Honor intuitions and distinguish them from wishes.
  • Mostly feel secure and clear.
  • Are living a life that mostly approximates what you always wanted for yourself.
  • Decide how, to what extent, and how long you will be committed.

About the last one, I’m liking the new law in Mexico City that allows time-limited marriages. The couple agrees how long they want to be married. The minimum is two years. When the time is up, they either go their separate ways without divorcing or remarry for another period of time.

Love that idea. Wouldn’t it be great to have no more expensive, difficult, embittered divorces? To have a built-in time to reassess how well a relationship is going and together decide whether and for how long to continue it without getting involved with lawyers and courts?

That’s civilized, in my opinion.

~~~

Aug. 20, 2013

I’m adding another resource to this post, which continues to get views long after its original posting. It’s an article about toxic relationship habits that most people think are normal.

The article points out:

…part of the problem is that many unhealthy relationship habits are baked into our culture. We worship romantic love — you know, that dizzying and irrational romantic love that somehow finds breaking china plates on the wall in a fit of tears somewhat endearing — and scoff at practicality or unconventional sexualities. Men and women are raised to objectify each other and to objectify the relationships they’re in. Thus our partners are often seen as assets rather than someone to share mutual emotional support.

A lot of the self help literature out there isn’t helpful either (no, men and women are notfrom different planets, you over-generalizing prick.) And for most of us, mom and dad surely weren’t the best examples either.

Fortunately, there’s been a lot of psychological research into healthy and happy relationships the past few decades and there are some general principles that keep popping up consistently that most people are unaware of or don’t follow.

Here’s the link: 6 Toxic Relationship Habits that Most People Think Are Normal. 

 

Practicing wellness of body, mind, heart, and spirit: James Altucher’s Daily Practice

One of my favorite discoveries in the blogging world is James Altucher. He’s a good prolific writer, inventive, irreverent, smart, down-to-earth, no-nonsense, and he comes across as a regular person who has learned from his mistakes.

I get the impression that he’s done really, really well in business, lost it all, started over, more than once. HBO, hedge funds, start-ups, investments, Wall Street, whatever. I don’t really know that world, but I imagine his blog reaches a lot of people in the financial world.

He’s also experienced some relationship ups and downs and a marriage that didn’t work out, and now he is married to Claudia Altucher, a yoga teacher. He practices yoga.

What impresses me most in his writing is that he combines his financial background with amazingly sensible wisdom about how to live life well. I follow him on Twitter and Facebook and look forward to reading his blog posts.

You can check out his blog here: The Altucher Confidential: Ideas for a World Out of Balance.

The reason I’m writing about him here on my blog is because he advocates doing something he calls The Daily Practice, which he calls

a simple tool to improve, inspire, and unlock greatness.

It’s pure genius and truly simple. He has three big goals in life:

  • He wants to be happy.
  • He wants to eradicate unhappiness in his life.
  • He wants every day to be as smooth as possible. No hassles.

If you’d like to achieve those goals in your life, read on.

James discovered that every time he hit a low point in life, after a major failure, feeling unhappy and hassled, he did something every day for himself in four areas that helped move him closer to the three big goals. You can do this too:

  1. Do something physical for yourself to get and keep yourself in good shape. He mentions doing yoga every day and exercising vigorously enough to break a sweat for 10 minutes. Being healthy is a prerequisite for being happy, and exercise also helps calm your mind. You get to choose how you want to do this.
  2. Do something emotionally good for yourself. He mentions that if someone is a drag on you, cut them out or minimize your time with them, and if they lift you up, spend more time with them. He mentions being honest without being hurtful and never doing anything you don’t want to do—he doesn’t go to weddings.
  3. Do something to stimulate yourself mentally. He suggests thinking of 10 businesses you can start from home or listing every productive thing you did yesterday. You could learn a foreign language in daily sessions, memorize a song, or do a crossword puzzle, whatever works for you. Altucher carries around waiter pads to write down his ideas.
  4. Practice something spiritual, which can include praying, meditating, being grateful, forgiving, or studying a spiritually uplifting text. I like this suggestion: You can also meditate for 15 seconds by really visualizing what it would be like meditate for 60 minutes. 

Altucher says every time he has hit a low point and then started doing things in these four areas every day, his life would improve. He’d begin to feel lucky. Ideas would flow, he’d start executing them, and people would help him. People would smile at him.

He calls this improving the internal fire. I think that concept is from yoga, but you get the picture. Living fully, in joy, lit from within.

I get that this is a great practice! And I want to think that I already do this, but you know what? I don’t keep track of what I do every day, and I haven’t tied my behavioral choices to three big goals. I have not made a commitment to work on myself daily in specific ways in these four areas.

Well, James has thought of that, and he has set up a website called The Daily Practice where you can set up your own activities in the four categories (plus a new fifth one, Fun) as well as how often you want to do them, and track your actual behavior.

It’s in beta right now, but I’m trying it out, and so far everything seems to work.

Also, your big three goals might be a little different. Who doesn’t want happiness? But I actually don’t mind a few occasional not-too-major hassles because they challenge me to grow, and that gives me something to write about. So my third goal is to spread the wellness and joy to others.

If you’d like to set up physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and fun challenges for yourself and track your activity using The Daily Practice, go to tdp.me and set yourself up! It’s also a Facebook app, but you don’t have to share your postings. In fact, if you’re my friend, please don’t. TMI. Tell me your results, instead.

Today I have done a tarot reading and watched a fun movie (fun), meditated for 15 minutes and forgave someone I had problems with (spiritual), connected with two people who lift me up (emotional), read something stimulating (mental), and did sun salutations and slept well (physical).

Thanks, James!