Two years of blogging, and happy first birthday, wellbodymindheartspirit!

Two years ago today, I posted my first blog post on this blog. Back then, this blog was called The Zafu Report. After the first year, I expanded its mission and changed the name to The Well: bodymindheartspirit. The blog has evolved as I have evolved, and it’s been a great journey of learning by doing.

I am grateful to WordPress for providing templates and widgets that make it look good and take the skill and decision-making that goes with that out of my hands, freeing me up to write.

I thought I’d celebrate by listing the most viewed posts and thanking all of you who have connected. This, by the way, is the 503rd post I’ve published, and the blog has now received 26,847 views with 156 followers. My biggest lesson: persistence pays off.

  1. Home Page has gotten 4,493 views. Of course, the home page changes with each new post, so if you click a link that takes you to the blog, Home Page is where you land.
  2. Update on my Spartan trailer has received 1,844 views and the second most comments. A lot of people using search engines to find information about Spartan trailers end up here. (“spartan trailer,” “spartan trailer for sale,” “spartan carousel,” and “spartan trailers” are among the top 10 search engine terms to steer viewers to this blog.) I feel kind of badly for them because this is not a blog about Spartans. I happen to have purchased, transported, remodeled, and moved into a Spartan Carousel in the past year, and it’s definitely part of my lifestyle redesign to a more sustainable, less stressful way of life. In that way, it fits into my main topic of wellness, and after some internal debate, I decided to post about it here. Some Spartan-appreciating readers have lingered, commented, and/or checked out vintage or, and I’ve made a few new friends whose interests jive with mine in a broader way. This particular post was added in April 2011 when I had purchased the trailer but was still awaiting title and delivery.
  3. Trauma releasing exercises has gotten 1,132 views. This post in May 2010 was written when I first revealed that I’d been experimenting with them. I’ve written a lot of posts since then about both trauma releasing exercises and shaking medicine, but this one has gotten the most views, mostly via search engines, because of the simple title.
  4. More yoga tattoos! has been viewed 566 times. That post actually links to Alison Hinks’ blog post of yoga tattoos. She’s awesome with the visuals! The internet must have many users who are hungry for tattoos relating to Asian spirituality, since “yoga tattoos,” “yoga tattoo,” and “buddha tattoo” are also among the top 10 search terms that landed viewers here. I have a yoga tattoo myself, a small OM.
  5. About me is actually a page, not a post. It’s received 500 views. I actually revise that page every so often because how I describe myself changes and will continue to change. Good for you for coming back. This page has gotten a few comments, too.
  6. Comparing trauma release and shaking medicine videos has gotten 336 views, and I’m pleased to have posted it. My exploration of these healing modalities included locating videos of each online and sharing. Curious viewers can see each modality in action.
  7. Book review: Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson is the next most viewed blog post, at 326 views. I enjoyed reading this book and writing this review. I especially liked the appendix to the book that lists supplements for optimal brain health, written by Rick Hanson’s wife, an acupuncturist. I wrote about that in Buddha’s Brain: Supplements for brain health (236 views). I take them.
  8. The left brain right brain crossover has received 322 views. That seems surprising for an anatomy topic, but I guess a lot of curious brain geeks out there are wondering about this too. I got a few comments, and it was reassuring that one reader told me, “just to let you know that you could study this for years and it would still remain an enigma. such is the complexity of the human brain – even at a macroscopic level!”
  9. Spartan Carousel has arrived! got 319 views. That was posted in late June of 2011, the day after it arrived from southeast Washington.  It has some photos, and it’s received more comments than any other post. Thank you for sharing my joyous relief at its arrival!
  10. The tenth most viewed post is Fantastic prehistoric cave art movie, posted May 17, 2011, with 307 views. I loved that film by Werner Erhardt. This post was written before I saw the movie. It included online research I did in advance of seeing it. Okay, I know I’m geeky like that! My actual review, Movie review: The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, was the 20th most viewed blog post.

So there you have it, the most viewed posts in two years of blogging. Thank you for reading.

10 things I love about massage

  1. Almost everyone loves massage and bodywork. It feels good and is nourishing to the body, mind, heart, and spirit.
  2. Caring touch, the basis of massage therapy, is probably the most ancient method of promoting well-being that human beings have used on each other.
  3. It’s the front line of health care. Massage therapists spend more time with their clients than most other health care providers.
  4. Your massage therapist gets to know you well. He or she may help you with alignment, posture, pain, emotional, breathing, self-worth, self-knowledge, and many more issues.
  5. If 90 percent of doctor visits are stress-related, why not just skip the doctor and get a massage? It is one of the healthiest ways to reduce stress that exists.
  6. There is no end to the methods of massage: Swedish, sports, deep, shiatsu, and more. Then there are branches: Rolfing, Trager, cranio-sacral, and more. A massage therapist can focus on mastering one method or practice several. Adventurous recipients can have a field day trying them all!
  7. Massage marries art and skill. Massage therapists have learned skills using specific methods and can also artfully mix and match techniques to meet your body’s needs.
  8. Studying massage includes studies in geeky subject matter, like anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology. Massage therapists use both their right and left brains when learning and giving massage.
  9. It’s one of the top 50 careers of 2011, according to US News and World Report. It’s expected to keep growing over the next decade.
  10. Massage by itself is great, and it partners well with changework. Say you’ve been struggling with an issue and have a breakthrough of some sort. You feel it in your body, right? Massage helps you integrate it more deeply, literally embodying the change.

Poetry, reciprocity, feeling absolutely useless and enjoying it

I used to post poems I liked to this blog, but I stopped a while back and removed them (well, all except for Shoveling Snow with Buddha by Billy Collins, widely available online).

By the way, Shoveling Snow with Buddha is a wonderful poem to read in August when it’s over 100 degrees. Just saying.

The major reason is that poets are often impoverished and yet the best ones give us the beautiful gifts of lifting spirits and expanding worldviews, maybe shifting our  identities for the better, touching our hearts and souls.

Somehow they manage to use words, which are a left-brain tool, to convey right-brain experiences of intuition, wonder, and new associations.

Every poem available online is also available in a book, and when you buy a book of poems, the poet makes money. They don’t make money from having their poems published online.

Buying a book of poems reciprocates the poet for his or her talent, sweat, and generosity. They need to eat too. (I think Billy Collins is doing pretty well, though, and I have bought a handful of his books. Billy, if you disagree, please let me know.)

I still subscribe to Panhala, which sends me a daily email with a poem in it. Each poem includes the poet’s name and the printed source — so you can buy the book or find it in a library, if you choose.

I have a hunch that Panhala, even though it posts poems for free, probably steers more people to poetry in general, to particular poets, and to buying poetry books than anything else online. Joe Riley does it as a labor of love. No advertising, just poems, photos, and music.

Today’s Panhala poem makes me want to make an exception to my rule. It’s by David Ignatow, is titled For Yaedi, and is from New and Collected Poems, 1970-1985.

It’s a short poem, and I’m going to only quote part of it.

…When I die
I want it to be said that I wasted
hours in feeling absolutely useless
and enjoyed it, sensing my life
more strongly than when I worked at it.

Thank you, David Ignatow. Thank you for that poem. I love that sentiment. I find myself longing for some hours to waste. I’m so used to being productive, to forging ahead, to getting things done.

My shoulders tight, especially my right shoulder, which seems to be where that forging ahead energy resides in my body. 

I got my grades in massage school, and I’m doing so ridiculously well that I realized I could afford to slack off a little. I stayed home half a day, turned in an assignment a day late, and made 80 on a quiz. So there.

Thoughts have been swirling about finishing the work on the trailer, big expenses coming up (tuition, car repairs or replacement, finishing the next four months of massage school), dwindling savings, finding work, and this intensely hot drought that seems to be unending.

I am going to set aside several hours tomorrow to waste while I sense my life strongly. Maybe a little shaking medicine, sitting, breathing, yoga, toning, journaling, walking — no, wait, that’s useful. I’m going for useless.


I think tomorrow is the day to let my feet lead me. They’re already telling me they plan to take me to Barton Springs.

My hunch is that I will probably have more resources to draw on to solve my problems after taking a useless day than I would have if I had a useful day.

I’ll post the outcome on Monday.

The left brain right brain crossover

A question arose the other day that I’m researching. We’ve all heard that the left hemisphere of the brain controls the right side of the body, and the right brain controls the left side of the body.

Somewhere there is a crossover mechanism.

Assuming the crossover is located somewhere in the brain, where in the brain does this crossover take place?

I wondered if it specifically affected our eyes and ears. Is the left eye connected to the right hemisphere or the left hemisphere? Eyes and ears are so close to the brain and intimately connected to brain centers for processing images and sounds, I wondered if they were affected. Perhaps the crossover occurred beneath these brain centers…

So I googled left brain right brain crossover.

I found a site that explains how the eyes cross over. James Crook points out that when looking straight ahead, light from the right side of the visual field hits the left side of the retina in both eyes.

So it’s not like each eye corresponds to one hemisphere, either left or right. Both eyes feed visual information to both hemispheres. Our eyes are on the front of our heads, and we see stereoscopically.

The information from each eye comes together in the optic chiasma a few centimeters behind the eyes, where nerve bundles from each eye converge and then separate, going to the occipital lobe, so named because it’s near the occiput, the plate in the skull with a large hole through which the brain narrows into the spinal cord.

That bone at the back of your head that sticks out the most? That’s your occiput, and your occipital lobe is just inside.

In the optic chiasma, 45 percent of the nerve fibers from each eye cross over to the other side.

Crook states:

The two nerve trunks which leave the optic chiasma carry respectively signals from the left of each eye to the left, and from the right of each eye to the right. Because the image on the retina was left-right reversed, the nerve trunk traveling to the left side of the brain carries information about the right field of view, and the nerve trunk to the right carries information about the left field of view.

Click the link above to view the image, and all will be clear!

Elsewhere I read that the crossover from the body to the brain occurs where the nerves enter the brain. In other words, at or near the occiput.

So there’s a crossover for the eyes (the optic chiasma) and a crossover for the body (somewhere near the occiput). I hadn’t suspected there were multiple crossovers!

Now my left brain is tired! To be continued…

Reading What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America

I do not know how it happened that I missed this book! Published in 1995, it is the story of a successful journalist’s (as it says) search for wisdom in America. Tony Schwartz helped Donald Trump write a little book called The Art of the Deal, which made him rich but unsatisfied. He went on a quest that he shares in this book.

It’s Tony’s personal search, and he documents it as if writing in a journal (but with plenty of background info), rather than the “impersonal, keep your personal experience out of it” style of journalism.

He begins with Ram Dass and the influence of Eastern religions on America in the 1960s, covers the early days of Esalen, and moves on to brainwaves and biofeedback in Part I, The Pioneers.

I’m currently in the second part, Mind-Body Potentials, reading about Betty Edwards and drawing on the right side of the brain.

This quote got my attention:

As she stood by my side on that final afternoon [of a 5 day “drawing on the right side of the brain” workshop at Harvard], I suddenly understood the powerful impact of Edwards’s continuing encouragement. She creates a nurturing, nonjudgmental environment in which the expectation of success is high and the possibility of failure never enters the picture…. Put another way, the right hemisphere mode is a fragile and elusive state that can easily be overridden by the left hemisphere’s rush to judgment. At the same time, when the left hemisphere faces a challenge that it is ill equipped to meet, Edwards believes that it often simply gives up instead of turning the job over to the right hemisphere.

“We work very hard to thwart that inclination to quit,” Edward told me…. “I think of the left brain as the gatekeeper of the ego. One of its functions is to protect us from being made a fool of. In order to let the right hemisphere come forward and take over, the left hemisphere needs to be reassured that things will turn out okay. That’s what we try to do with our cheerleading. We’re creating a safe environment in which to let go of conscious control.”

One of the biggest changes I notice in myself that I believe comes from meditation is that my right brain is becoming more active. As I’ve mentioned before, whole body awareness is in the domain of the right brain. And it seems true, that the left verbal brain has to be able to let down its guard to experience wholeness. Even if just for brief periods of time at first, to know that it’s actually safe! And not just safe, but a wonderful, unnameable experience!

This is a rich book for seekers of wisdom. I am looking forward to reading about flow, learned optimism, dreams, Ken Wilber, the Enneagram, and his conclusion, entitled The Point Is to Be Real.

I wonder if he’s written anything that updates this book, which is now 15 years old. It seems like he might have something on American teachers like Byron Katie and Gangaji, who use satsang or inquiry to help people grow.

What else? Oh, I imagine he might add something about deeksha. And perhaps something about the recently discovered neuroplasticity of the brain.

What’s cutting edge in the search for wisdom?