Heart Power – Transforming Stress and Anxiety

Heart Power – Transforming Stress and Anxiety

 

Stress and Anxiety – Synonymous with life in the current culture.  Sometimes we are oblivious to its impact on our very lives.  At other times we minimize or rationalize it, “normal” for  living in today’s world.  As a therapist for many years, I have a unique perspective of how this all works – on our beliefs, attitudes and relationships.  Emotions, real and perceived have a powerful effect on our lives and lifestyle we choose to follow.  One way humans are unique in the mammal world is that we can create stress with a thought.  Compare that with a deer.  When they perceive a threat, they go into high alert with all the stress hormones working together to assess and deal with the threat.  When the threat passes, they quickly return to their regular routine, all body systems operating at the parasympathetic level – meaning relaxed and ok.  We have an 18 yr.  old cat that reminds us daily of these differences.  For many years, I lived the life of worker bee with the passion to help others and a desire to be seen in a positive light from others around me and in the community.  When I did take time for myself, I tried to manage a marriage, exercised, went to church and tried to create the best home life for my children.  In other words, time was at a premium and stress levels were high.  As life would have it , there were more bumps in my life than I had anticapated.

Get ready.  I hadn’t intended to get divorced or co-parent and found myself coping with the stigmas of relationship failures and parenting challenges.   In my 20’s I went through 2 divorces and had one child.  In my 30’s I had another marriage and another child and later in my 40’s I had another divorce.  I couldn’t figure out why my life wasn’t going according to this grand plan that I had dreamed up.   I was filled with anxieties that I had no vocabulary for.  I was educated in the realm of social work, had spent many years in service to helping others have a better life, yet didn’t have the answers or understanding to tune into what I needed to change.    From a young age I was passionate about helping and relationships. Unfortunately, the road to understanding was long.  Despite theses  failures life did take some wonderful turns after the decision was made to find the way in to understand myself and tap into the wisdoms of my heart.  My son introduced me to this quote from Samuel Beckett that is now a tatoo of character:  Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. 

I walked the walk and tried to fit the mold and still wonder why I missed the many flags along the way.   I sometimes ponder the life that would have been if I had really understood the ways of anxiety, mood and thought.  I walked around with chronic anxiety and didn’t even know it. Now, I am realizing new perspectives of hardships and challenges that all humans have in one way or another.  Joe Dispenza refers to genetic destiny as the path that many will follow based on the learnings and conditionings of their earlier life, sometimes way earlier life.  We bring into this life emotional DNA which is related to the physical DNA characteristics we are born with.  Some refer to these energies as karma or perhaps past lives and there are many theories about this phenomenon.  My focus keys into the choices we have at various times throughout our lives.  These choices involve questioning ourselves and learning lessons we need to learn given our soul essences.  We can make changes and are not locked into our genetic destinies if we make the choice to do so.   “Be all you can be” or “Live up to your potential” or “You have to go through the fire to get to the gold” are some of the phrases that come to mind related to these critical times in our life.  Failures can turn into successes beyond our knowledge at the given time.  The key here is intention.  What do you really, really want.  I really wanted healthy love relationships.  Later on in my life path I met my husband; the one I had envisioned in my heart but not been able to realize until I had made significant changes and learned the lessons life was giving me.  Other positive and supportive  relationships have evolved and hopefully will continue.  Learning is a life long pursuit as they say…and very good for brain health…challenging the status quo and stepping into the unknown.

I recently returned from a conference in Sedona, AZ where the energies of the earth are particularly strong.  I was reminded again of the importance of stepping out of the comfort zone to “Embracing Bliss” (the name of the conference) where many new and creative ideas were shared and experienced.  Prior to this conference, I had decided to read and implement some of the practices of one of the presenters.  Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza was the book that tapped into my mind.  Learning ways to quiet the mind and be in the zone of No-thing the goal.  To design the life you desire and taking the steps on this path to see it manifest are highlighted in the book.  Mind blowing, yet I was open to experiment and work the steps so to speak.  Sometimes we are drawn to things – books, experiences, opportunities etc. that make us Feel.  This is the time for questioning yourself and following up on the draw of emotion in the response to whatever grabbed you.  I learned that about 60% of us humans have addictive behaviors that cause us suffering and that the keys include knowledge about ourselves and practices to tap into this self…and the better we know ourselves the less we fear change.

A primary job of a therapist is to help others tap into that inner self that really does know what to do and release those negative beliefs/emotions that have caused untold havoc.  We all have the secret knowledge and keys to a good life underneath all the stress layers formed over time.  The puzzle is how to tap into it without having to retreat from life and meditate/pray for long hours.  Greg Braden, researcher, scientist and spiritual teacher spoke about the heart brain – that our hearts contain 40,000 sensory neurons that are active in affecting our behaviors.  It’s where the wisdom lies in a sense.  You may have heard the phrase, “Listen to your heart”; now there is science to back this up.  Heartmath’s website indicates that “the heart’s input to the brain during stressful or negative emotions also has a profound effect on the brain’s emotional processes—actually serving to reinforce the emotional experience of stress. In contrast, the more ordered and stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect – it facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive feelings and emotional stability. This means that learning to generate increased heart rhythm coherence, by sustaining positive emotions, not only benefits the entire body, but also profoundly affects how we perceive, think, feel, and perform.”  I purchased a bio-feedback tool that connects with your heartrate, measures the variability of the beats and lets you know when you are “out of coherence”.  It works with a smartphone and an app.  Finally, a gadget I could figure out!

When you learn how to tap into this inner wisdom, there is the potential to access deep intuition on demand.

Heart/brain coherence practice: 

The best part is the ease of this practice.  There are 3 steps.

  1. Touch your heart with your hand of fingers, whatever feels comfortable.
  2. Breath into your heart and slow down your breath just a little.  Maybe count to 5 on the inhale and the exhale.
  3. Think/experience gratitude, thoughts of appreciation, compassion or love for at least 3 minutes.
  4. Notice how you feel.

This has been powerful as I have worked with this practice and have seen the benefits in with those I teach it to.  I encourage you to research this and practice yourself.  It does involve closing your eyes from the environment that is so seductive with all its constant distractions.  We can easily succumb to the addictions of stress hormones of the daily grind but the power of really getting our heart’s desires is to create this quiet state; to really listen to what it is your heart – true self really needs to create happiness.  Couples that can enter this practice together have the potential to bypass trouble and create the life best for each other.  I am excited to experiment and see the results.    Let’s get to work!

 

 

 

Emotions/ Lifestyle and Upcoming Classes

 

Summer in Fargo, ND is embraced by most of us who live here as a gift that is time limited. Trees and vegetation are lush and happy; the gardens are growing and the markets are outdoors….like the farmers markets of the city.  The topic today is related to nature, balance and some of the bumps in the road.    I continue to be amazed at the workings of the relationships in the  body.  In my own healing journey I am realizing more and more the power of knowledge and discernment.  Scents that hit our noses are packed full of knowledge in the chemical molecules.  In recent studies from Science AAAS, humans can distinguish up to 1 trillion scents vs the 10,000 that had previously been thought to be our human capacity.  Even those with rather poor sense of smell had the ability to distinguish 80 million.  Our immune network is a vast combination of interactive cellular communities, chemical potions of molecules, and the individual’s daily experience: attitudes, emotions, stresses, and happiness.  The immune organization is truly a body-mind experience.  In one of my classes with Alexandria Brighton, the aromatherapy formulator, we explored the system of the white blood cells defense/types of immune cells and was in awe of the different classes of cells and how they can learn to detect and protect.

 

NK “Natural Killer” cells are the earliest defenders against viral infections, killing virus-infected cells directly within hours of attack, even before the rest of the immune collaboration takes place.  These cells are sensitive to lifestyle and emotions.  This has been measured in the labs: If you are feeling lonely or depressed, your NK cells may become sluggish.  Meditate, find something funny to watch and you pep up these cells. (This validates laughter Yoga and comedy) Previously, I have referred to Candace Pert’s research in emotions and health.  A series of experiments performed in the 1970’s isolated minute chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are used by the nervous system to transmit information, including thought processes, throughout the body.  Scientists were excited to find that these neurotransmitters existed well beyond the physical boundaries of the brain.  They have been found in the adrenal glands of those with anxiety and in their blood as well.  We now know that our immune system does not exist in isolation from our emotions.

 

Alexandria Brighton has developed a line of essential oil blends that target the imbalances of life.  It is called the Release and Restore or Dispel and Restore – they are referred to in both those ways. There are 20 blends targeting fear, victimization, anger, unhealthy relationships, fear, judgement and self-sabotage.  Each negative emotion connects with its positive emotion such as courage, independent self, unconditional love, empathy, prosperity and reality check.  Changes have been observed.  They are a great tool.  I encourage you to research them.  goDesana.com/newpath

 

Google has been in the news lately with the controversial memo about how men and women perform in the workplace: that men may perform better and could handle more work stress.  Women tended to less driven to work insanely long hours and live the good life in corporate America so to speak.  The ability to power work is still glorified.  The series of Mad Men is recalled and the image of those skyscrapers, bars in the offices, and chain smoking and sex on the couches with the secretaries.  Science has not transmuted to our everyday culture yet.  Living a healthy lifestyle is still not the norm but is becoming more popular.  One of the positives of this memo was the response by so many.  People are standing up and noticing.  We are evolving despite what the news, governments and others may say: and this evolution is positive.  Let’s get to work then.  There is a man employed by Google called the Happiness officer.  His job is to teach others the practice of mindfulness and balance. I hope the author of that memo finds his way there.

 

Developing healthy lifestyles is a choice.  The question:  “What is best for me?  What is best for me?  What is really, really best for me?”  These are the questions I pose to those I work with to help the wheels start turning in a creative way.  When there is high stress, there is usually rigid or polarized thinking. (It’s either this way or that) It’s often hard to get out of our usual ruts of thinking and making up things.  Our brains make up solutions if we don’t have them, and sometimes these “solutions” are negative and not in the best interests of our whole self.  Anyone that is challenged with depression or anxiety knows the power of negative and critical self-talk.  These are some of the made-up solutions that I’m referring to.  I created my own business some years ago, It started as a leap out of the employee status motivated by a businessman who frankly told me I shouldn’t do it…that I didn’t have the skill set.  I was after all rather sensitive and with that some of the side effects of focus, anxiety and insecurities.  Still, in my 40’s I ventured out of my own box into the world of creativity and shades of color.  There have been many twists and turns but long story short, it was one of the best decision I ever made.  One common “solution” that my brain came up with was “I won’t have enough money” when my business would slow for some reason and “You must not be a good enough therapist.” When we hear things like this our bodies take it seriously and react in some way.  You may not notice it but it is recorded.   As time passes the jug fills up so to speak and the body has symptoms…all sorts of emotional or physical problems you have heard about or may have experienced.   This is a similar process in relationships.  You can run but cannot hide from your emotions.  The best way is to decide to be open to whatever they are and do something about them.

 

5 Steps to Transformation  (insights of the day)

  1. Decide to live more authentically and set that as your intention.
  2. Hydrate – drink lots of fresh, filtered water and use 1/2 of an organic lemon/lime in the mornings.  You can also add a drop of lemon essential oil and a drop of peppermint to cleanse the liver during high stress times.  Do this for a week and see how you feel.  It can be energizing.  My husband does this periodically and has noticed significant decrease in allergy/asthma symptoms.
  3. Wellness plan – Develop one…find good support from trusted friends/mentors/professionals.   Striving for your own excellence is a not done in a vacuum.
  4. Nutrition/complementary/medical care – Seek to understand your own body, use the best essential oils/herbs for healing and be check in on your medical Dr. to get the numbers so to speak on your internal health.  Medical school doesn’t educate doctors to understand personalized nutrition.  There is a product out called Gene SNP that is used by mental health professionals to assess DNA and best lifestyle practices.  It’s the science that we have available now although it is still in the early stages of being utilized.
  5. Think in abundant terms…You are loved on this earth.  Even though all these things may happen remind yourself in front of the mirror each day that You are Loved.  Google mirror work and see some of the results.

 

 

Classes:  I have 2 classes coming up on Friday, August 25th  that I am doing with Veronica Ortega.   Emotions and essential oils is from 11 AM-12 PM.  Healing with whole foods and introduction to Mind, Body Soul anti-inflammatory nutritional products is from 12 PM-1 PM.  For details about Veronica or the classes,  please refer to my facebook page – Tina M Johnson, MSW 

Location:  1321 23rd St So.  Ste H  Fargo, ND    Cost:  Free!  

 

As always, please contact me if you have questions or need additional information.

 

 

Scammed – the Trauma, Tragedy and Repair

Being scammed is more and more the norm of this technologically based culture.  I hear about it all the time, have seen its effects with others, myself in a few situations and clients who have shared their stories.  I do not consider myself scam naive and have done my best at keeping up with security issues.  The rug was jerked out from underneath my feet recently when I found myself the victim of one of the “old” scams.  The computer freezes, commands you not to shut it down and puts on a reputable Microsoft logo underneath the pop-up urgent request to call the Microsoft helpline which I did. I was simply buying movie tickets for that evening, looking forward to some leisure with my husband and within moments was hearing all about how my network wasn’t protected by the appropriate security.  I let this unknown person take control of my computer to “fix” the problem which led into the cost of the security products I was buying.  I kept going!  My intuition was sending me warning signals but the panic which I was not fully aware of was running the show.  It gets worse.  The fees for all these fixes were $375 with all the “fees” and “taxes’ that were applied in the end – even with the “senior discount.”  He wanted my checkbook account/routing numbers and I had it out before I stopped yet quickly he said, “No problem, we can go through your Amazon account.”  Sounded somewhat legit (not really) so I did it.  Amazon sent back an email questioning this purchase on Gold Coins, which is apparently a way to send money to a third party.  He then told me to go back and change my password on Amazon to validate the charge.

I finally felt the sinking nausea of what was really happening.  I put myself on hold and called the “real” Microsoft company which confirmed my body’s reactions.  They told me to turn off my computer immediately and that I could be helped by them if I paid the fee of $149 for a year contract of service.  It seemed I had no options and I paid it.  I was referred to the New Delhi computer techs to trouble shoot my problem and hopefully fix it.   Unfortunately, the language and background noise of his co-workers and the slowness of the process, it took me another 2 hours to hear that I needed to take it “into the store.”  I assumed this meant the computer repair shop.  I didn’t think there was a Microsoft store in Fargo, ND.  He couldn’t clarify this when I asked him.  By this time, it was 7 PM.  I had started my movie ticket purchase at 2:30 that afternoon and was mentally exhausted not to mentioned full of muscle tension.

As the evening progressed, I became more aware of what happened on another level.  I had let myself be victimized and was self-critical; chastising myself for being so stupid.  Then I felt the anger – what right do people have to hurt others all in the name of control and money? Then, the awareness of past traumas experienced in my life…. When I was a teenager, when I was hurt and taken advantage of in my life.  Slices of childhood memories before I had to grow up meander through with the mixed feelings of longing, joy and sadness.  The real world keeps you on guard.  Watch, always watch.  I have the scenario of what I would have said to this perpetrator when I saw that his call was coming in after I shut down the computer and his cold reactions of ruining my system.  Of course, I thought of his mother and what she would think of him doing this to someone.  I wish I could have grabbed the call and give him a piece of my mind so to speak.  I don’t think I’ve ever really done that.  Mid-westerners act with the most reserve…. that’s the world I grew up in that anyway.  As a therapist and one trained in critical incident debriefings, I knew the material.  Living life assertively and with maturity is a life worth striving for. Faking that is difficult.

Recovering from this trauma began almost immediately. Knowledge helps for sure but it didn’t save me.  I went to my stress tool bag and reached out to a few support people via text.  Just knowing that they knew and were sending love made a difference.  Next came my thoughts and focus on the bigger picture….my responsibility for panic and forgiving myself for not being perfectly composed/logical.  Positive, positive and even more positive thinking about any good that could possibly be gained from this ordeal. In this phase I would suggest thinking before speaking to loved ones…. emotions can be easily projected. I tried to keep the excess negativity away from my spouse.  He didn’t do anything.  Venting is great, dumping all your complaints isn’t.  I practiced one of the most powerful self-healing techniques that I use myself and teach to many of my clients and friends.  It is called Ho’oponopono which is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness.  It consists of four statements:  I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, Thank you.  These energetic words, when said from the heart can be healing if not transforming.  There is some quality You Tube videos that take you through the practice to use whenever you create stress for yourself.  I do this practice along with EFT, a tapping strategy to use to help calm the body.  There are certain points on the body that when stimulated help the body calm, when you combine tapping with emotion awareness and positive affirmations one can significantly lower stress levels in the body.  These are practices that are easy to learn and have a long track record of benefit.  I use one of high frequency essential oils while I’m doing the tapping which only makes the practice better.  Transform is one such oil blend.

I got a call from Microsoft the next morning and they went through the process of refunding my $149 given the circumstances.  They were proactive on this and I am grateful…haven’t seen the refund on my card yet but I felt good about the effort.  I also attended my church, shared my experiences and did some singing…these activities were good for my soul and a great positive distraction which is another tool in the bag.  I also reached for my healing essential oils such as Lavender Vera and others supportive for the nervous system.  It’s always good to have some basic essential oil knowledge when you can really use it!  This afternoon I got a good walk in and went to the movie I had hoped to go to yesterday. Therapy for the mind.  My computer is non-functional and I assume it will be a rather big fix not to mention any other fall out from being hacked.   Even though things aren’t back to normal, I feel hopeful that they will be soon.  The computer repair man reiterated how easy it is to fall victim and how clever they can be to dupe the public.  “They keep doing it because people pay them money.”  He said if there are no global regulations of the internet these kinds of activities will continue.  Bottom line – Be aware, do your best to keep up be logical and Be Kind to yourself if it happens to you.  Still, I wonder about the hackers and how they reconcile their behaviors.  I’ll send them the Ho’oponopono message energetically.  That, I can do.

Six months later – I have retained the awareness of my experience and been able to assist others caught in the same computer trap.  I’ve worked on the emotion of frustration and learned that this emotion connects with many other negative feelings.  How have I worked on this emotion?  I regularly visit my own stress tool bag and look around for any new ones that might be effective.  The one I found for this emotion was a book called Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza.  He highlights specific steps one can take to be who you were born to be, not taught to be.  Powerful and transforming if that’s the tool you choose.  I challenge readers to create their own stress tool kit.  Let me know if I can be of assistance.

 

 

 

How To Stay Sane On Election Day and Beyond

 

November 2016

stress-2-people-imageOK, It’s coming and I have some “Inspirdrive”, to coin a phrase, of how I feel at this moment in this country’s history.  Being in the mental health field for 30+ years I am bamboozled by this election season’s long and snarly road.  I’ve heard more frustrations, rage, confusion, depressive and anxiety symptoms that I can remember in the past.   Our mental health is stressed!  (As if you didn’t know) The impact of stress is well documented in research.  More than a little stress in our lives impacts our bodies and health and most of us have been told that at one point or another.  We are designed to deal with stress on a short term basis.  Our bodies are marvelous machines made to solve problems and get our needs met and once that’s done, calm down.  Our animals have this figured out.  I talk to my cat about all that is going on here, the political media blitzes, the polarizing of social media, the Protest in western ND, you name it.  He lifts his head up while I get activated, assesses that it’s not going to hurt him and sinks his head back down on the rug…. although when the vacuum cleaner is brought out, he freaks out and disappears until its quiet again.  This political season has brought out the low drone of a constant vacuum cleaner that follows us around and as much as we may want to avoid any fallout it is almost impossible.

Many of the clients I see have reported significant impact in their lives, whether it be work, social or family relationships.  It brings out the Stress in them, meaning that when we are triggered by anything either in our external or internal environment that creates a negative emotion, a resulting reaction occurs.  Research suggests 4 Stress Styles that are most common.  The first one is Placator/Peace at any price style.   If we are unaware, this can be rather automatic such as “I think Clinton should win” comment to a Trump supporter.  “What, are you crazy?  Can’t you see she’s a crook?”  The response here may be related to what style of stress that is carried.  Let’s just say the Clinton supporter was brought up to be agreeable and not to rock the boat.  Her response may be…”Well maybe you’re right, I’ll have to check it out or Yes, she did do lots of things.”  The second one is the Blamer/I’m right, You’re wrong  style which would trigger a different reaction.  “What? You’re the one who’s crazy.  Have you seen that video?”  The third approach is called Super Reasonable/Computer style which downplays any emotion.  “Well, it says in the polls that there is a slight lead for Clinton.  Let’s look at the statistics.”   The fourth style is called the Distractor/Ignore and the problem vanishes.   Responses may be completely unrelated to the issues at hand.  “Hey, let’s just forget all this and go out and play cards/shop/clean the house/work/drink…you name it.”    These reactions to stress triggers are usually tied back into our childhoods and that software is pretty tightly woven.  In order to bypass these automatic reactions, we need to first be aware and understand the power that they have on our everyday behaviors.  Once you do this then comes the good part.  You can take parts of each of the styles and integrate them into your own style for a positive outcome.  For example, the positive aspect of the Placator is being sensitive and compassionate to another’s emotions; the good part of the Blamer is the assertiveness it brings to the table; the ability to speak our truth without blaming.  The Super Reasonable/Computer can remind us to use logic and reason when managing a situation and with the Distractor, comes the reminder to play and take breaks…. but we will get back to the problem.

stress-imageEven though we can’t eliminate our negative tendencies to react in these certain ways, we can transcend them with practice.  After the election will come all the waves of uncertainty of “what’s going to happen” until the dust settles in January.   Then, it’s likely to resurface again given the roller coaster media ride we’ve all been on.  What I’d really like is to feel a sense of stability and trust.  One way to keep sane is to focus on things we can control.  Look at your hands and for most of us we can move them.  Let that be a reminder for the moment that what may be most important is self-management or as I like to call it Mindfulness.  How am I going to cultivate stability and trust in myself given that I’ve just heard or seen someone make a triggering comment?  The goal here is to catch your style going into action and allow yourself the chance to create the mindset that is best for you.  Is this easy?  It gets easier with practice but the rewards are great; one being the expression of your authentic truth rather than the automatic stress style dribble.  The more you practice the more dribble you can experience which leads to a stronger sense of self and a better outlook which of course is a stress reliever.  Although this is not the immediate “keep yourself sane” technique but it is one to work on daily.

Some of the best strategies for this season relate to catching yourself, breathing deeply and evenly and repeat to yourself 10 times “All is well”.   There is a great mirror exercise written about by Louise Hay that confirms the power of positive affirmations to yourself daily.  Check out the mirror exercise on You tube if you are interested.  Even though you think all may not be well on the outside, this exercise calms the mind. If you want excitement and drama go for it.  Media will be hyping it all up but keep in mind the balance of nature and the power of small practices to keep yourself sane.   Don’t forget to add the water, herbal teas and lemons/limes.  These are detoxing for any type of stress you are facing.   One of my favorite essential oils to calm anxiety is Frankincense or Lavender Frankincense which combines two calming essential oils.  Just make sure they are of therapeutic grade and organic.  For more information on that check out  http://goDesana.com/newpath   In the short term, do-nuts, diet coke, a good stiff drink or any number of mind medicating substances may be calling your name   What your brain really needs is care!   Finally, on Tuesday let’s not forget that we are all in this together.  Let’s do what we can – in our own ways – one task or practice at a time.   Good luck!

 

Tina M Johnson, MSW, BCD

1321 23rd St So, Ste H

Fargo, ND  58103

https://www.relatecommunicate.com

tmjohnsonmsw@gmail.com

 

 

 

The Body and Love Relationships

 

hug imageCan the type and quality of your intimate relationships affect your health?  You are probably wondering, “What doesn’t affect your health?”  There are many studies that indicate stress as a trigger for most of today’s ailments and problems.  Emotions and the stress we feel are intimately connected.  We can’t control our emotions but we can learn to be aware of them and  the good news about managing these emotions is  that love is the big winner here.  So, how does love affect our health? It has a lot to do with it!  I’ve really only been tracking this with intention over the past 5-10 years  after I met and married the most authentic love of my love and, might I add the best teacher of myself.  The other factor was turning 50.  Nothing like a little age factor to wake up to the physical body.  Glasses and menopause came on the scene and life changed again.

Menopause in most women enters their lives in the 50’s….give or take a few years.  I entered this decade relatively naive – despite “education” I had little experience in the process of menopause in the women of my family history.  I grew up in the era of “grin and bear it” or “It’s not a subject worth mentioning” or “It’s not that big of a deal”.  Each woman has her own set of beliefs for this life stage too, and hand them down to our family, we do.  I often encourage women to examine the women in their lives for information to unearth their own guiding rules.  What does menopause have to do with love and health?  For me, these transitions melded together.  Other transitions include the birth of a child,  moving, caring for parents, or others that require major shifts.  I won’t speak to men’s mid life transition to this decade here.  That will be another piece to work on with my husband.  It’s a big deal too!

I have  worked with many couples in my psychotherapy practice over the years and noticed patterns of stress management depending on the stage of life, stressors experienced, and family history – meaning here the  family dynamics and biologic/personality traits inherited.  Humans generally have a huge capacity for doing what they believe they want.  We’re designed that way. We have strong defense systems.  Denial, minimizing, avoiding and blaming/projecting are examples of how we deflect our stressors.    How else are we going to survive?  I remember the drive I had earlier in my career to make a living and do something good for the world.  I choose a traditional path of social work and walked the way I was taught at home, school and at work.  I got married when I thought I was supposed to and ….well that’s when life’s twists and turns really started showing up.  Negative emotions fuels stress and if you don’t have the emotional skills, they will erupt into depressive or anxious periods, self- medication with any number of addictive substances or things and physical illnesses.   I’ve experienced divorce in all its complexities and traumas, been a single parent twice and all the while still believing that I would someday find the trail of happiness.  I eventually realized that it is usually not the most trodden one.  I had to find my own path outside that “box” of what I thought life was supposed to look like.  When I realized that it was OK to go outside the box, life changed dramatically.   It lined up with finding a healthy love relationship.   Interestingly, I needed to learn that before I was ready to begin that relationship which reflects one of those wise truths about tending to yourself first.

baby imageThe body is your first intimate relationship.  I was spending time with a baby this weekend:  Lucy, her 7 month old body in hand, reacted to impulses and stimuli with her whole body.  Her ear hurts, her fists try to go in, her curiosity aroused, she observes intently, tired, she reacts with fussiness.   She responds in relationship to how she is treated when she reacts to her body.  Much is written about child development and there are various theories of why we learn to behave in the ways that we do.  The point here is that our body is our best guide…always.  We just have to evolve back and integrate our first true and authentic relationship.  How does that relate to love relationships?   When you give your partner a hug next time, just notice what happens to your body.  Notice what happens in your mind.  That’s all you need to do to get started on a new path.  Your body won’t lie.  Notice if you are feeling any tensions, sensations, especially in your stomach. (the second brain)  If you can communicate what you are observing and your partner understands what you say then you have practiced a core communications strategy called Confiding.  Confiding is the ability to communicate what you think and feel and feel safe with your partner. Confiding is not complaining.  It is stating your reality of the moment.  If you find yourself rehearsing what you should say, then you are filtering and feeding your stress.  For more information on this skill I will refer you to www.pairs.com.

Another way into your body is a technique called muscle testing.  There are simple strategies to access your own body’s wisdom.  One easy one is called the sway test.  Stand with balance and a calm mind.  Make a statement that you know the answer is Yes.   For example:  I like chocolate.  Then, watch the way your body moves without intentionally moving it.  Make a statement with a No response and observe your reaction carefully.  Practice for awhile and soon you will notice a pattern.  When the answer is Yes, your body will sway one way and when the answer is no, it will sway another.  Once you have it mastered, you can use this technique whenever you want.   Anyone can learn it if they want to.  I suggest you don’t use it when you are emotional – wait until you are calm and able to focus in on yourself.  website couple image

My husband and I recently organized a workshop called Re-Awakening Love Relationships.  One of the main experiences of the day was learning to do just that –  are at any given time.  If you can master that one, you will never be one of those couples that sit in a restaurant with nothing to talk about.  You can always go back to your body and ask it what it is noticing and share these observations with your partner. It can be very sensual!  See where the conversation goes and you will be surprised.  Our bodies can talk and we can listen!  Loving our own selves is the best investment for a long and lasting love relationship.

If you are interested we will be doing the workshop in the near future.  Info on my website at https://www.relatecommunicate.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Releasing the Raging Bull – Transforming Trauma

angry bull  It’s time for me to let the bull out of it’s congested cage.  That cage is, of course, a metaphor for my thoughts and the sometimes overwhelming control of this bull despite being in that rather small brain space of mine – the approximately 3.5 lbs of matter that is the governing force of my life.  The question is “Am I the chairman of this operation?”  Or am I being overwhelmed and controlled by the many forces that be – external or internal as the case may be.  What have I been paying the most attention to?  I remember high school biology class and the image of Mr. Olson informing us of how to complete the “leaf project” and the importance of the project in passing the class.  I wasn’t incredibly ambitious during my sophomore year and remember the resistance my mind put up to this project and the difficulty in completing it.  As I look outside today, I see the brilliant fall colors and autumn leaves everywhere, the result of a bountiful summer coming to an end and the likelihood of similar images that fall many years ago. horse vault
fall leaf project
 I actually liked  nature; what  I disliked was the categorizing and organizing  of each leaf and the  overwhelm felt within.  Consequently, this   created a negative set of thoughts and beliefs about myself.   “I can’t do this”  “Something must be wrong with me”   “I’m not smart enough,”  Gym class creates a whole other set of memories and beliefs.  The one that comes to mind is the one in 7th grade when the students all lined up to jump over the horse which is a gymnastics feat that was introduced in the class.  I stood there, with my snap up royal blue cotton gym suit, probably a little tight on my overweight body, and tried to muster up courage to get over that hurdle.  I ran, slowed and stopped just before I leaped, the motion pushing me into the horse. This resulted in  a clumsy fall over is what I would call it.  I remember the frustration that my body just didn’t do what I wished it would and I didn’t understand why.  I always liked the beauty of the gymnasts bodies artfully moving through their routines and the same is true for the colors of nature but what do you think has more sticking power?  The velcro of traumatic experiences cannot be understated.  Granted, there are temperaments that can predispose one to being more vulnerable to emotion but for the most part just being human creates the scene for drama and the importance of awareness of these created patterns.   My raging bull has taken various forms throughout my life and career and like for everyone, my life has internal drama.  It is time for this one to come out of it’s closet.  It’s been pounding around controlling my vary existence for too long.  I experienced an injury in the mid 2000’s – fell over the foot stool and landed on my sacrum fall which weakened my lower back.  Over the years it has gradually worsened and eventually  began to really cause problems in the last couple of years.  I’ve had to give up some things I liked to do, adjust my life and do my best to maintain a busy work and home life.  I want my body to work the way it used to and then….wait, when I thought about how it used to be I became aware of the tendency I always had to feel that I was rather weak – not like everybody else.  And when you’re not like everybody else as viewed by a child, especially a girl child. bad things can be felt.  More old negative beliefs.  The accident and injury only drew more attention to the underlying and most unacknowledged themes of my life.

This raging bull is the symbol for my steady stream of negative thinking about my condition, its limitations and possible consequences for the future.  I’m identifying the main ones as an exercise to exorcise and transform negativity to divine creativity….and one antidote to stress is creativity.  “How will I work?  Will I have enough energy?  What if I can’t work? What if pain overtakes me and I can’t do what I want to do?  Things in life I like are being taken away.  I don’t have control.  What should I do?”  Even as I write these statements by body is reacting – it feels like it is squirming as I reveal my inner ruminations.  One of the symptoms of my injury is nerve sensations at different areas of the body – like the nervous system has its own language when it comes to these things.  Each sensation has the potential to arouse my brain and be alert to it.   In psychological terms this reflects problems in the orienting response in my brain.  Instead of processing smoothly between the stages, I  remain stuck  and fail to effectively  evaluate and integrate what is actually being experienced.  Rather, old schemas patterning the trauma/old beliefs take over.  For example, I may feel a tingling in my foot, pain in my lower back, uncomfortable sensations in my body and immediately be on guard and negative thoughts which often ends perpetuating more self doubt and fear.

It’s a spinning machine, one that has remnants of past behaviors and habits.  Can I just say I hate this spinning machine?  That I wish it would just go away and then get mad at myself when it doesn’t.  All this internal spinning can be exhausting because in the meantime my life goes on in clock time and the emotions are kept within.   Writing is one of my creative outlets and  I enjoy spinning words so when I decided to tackle this subject, my heart stirred dare I say  with joy?   Strange but true.  I also came out and told my pilates/yoga teacher that I couldn’t maintain in the “easy” class and had no idea what my options could be.  Logical processing of the situation was laced with old trauma schemas and I stumbled over my words, worrying that she would say there were no more options for me.  “I’m hopeless” with remnants of my fall over on the horse.  A smile came to my lips as I imagined the incident in comedic form and I now take some liberties to alter the story just a little as they say.  I imagine the teacher giving me a great big smile for trying and reassuring me there is a way to accomplish this goal “if I wanted it”.  She would point out things like activities I may like such as dancing or power walking or better yet a class to help understand my body.  She would highlight differences and give me hope.  I love the image where I walk away with lots of options vs the sense of embarrassment and failure.  One add on – I altered my gym suit and found a very cool outfit.  I am curious about this new outlet for the spinning and may just have to write another update blog.  Transforming my  raging bull may be a long process…maybe not.  One of those noble truths comes to mind.  Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.  It’s one day at a time.    And about that pilates class…my teacher said there is hope for me and that we’d work together to come up with solutions.  cat in a basket

Who Am I Trying to Fool? The Jester Pain Body Strikes Again

fire image sillouetteWhen you least expect it, the pain body can jump right in the midst of your day…the moment  you were just minding your business.  The phone call may come in, the comment at the other end of the line, a person cuts in front of you on the street, the interaction with a loved one  sparks the fire.  I tried not to pay attention to the my reaction…”no big deal” I told myself.  “I’m beyond these kind of things.”  I’ve read numerous articles, even books on the subject of cognitive restructuring.  This is the fancy term for reorganizing your negative thoughts into ones that are more realistic to the situation and applying them to replace the negative thoughts you have identified.   “Who am I trying to fool?  I’ll never be a success.  I’m just not wired up the right way.  What’s wrong with me anyway?  Why can’t I be like ….? ”  I felt the fire start to go from a spark to the kindling stage each time I noticed another negative thought – one just slipped in after the other; some slipping in between the ones I could catch.  It wasn’t long before I felt the  waves of emotion begin to impact my body.

Life as a therapist has allowed me many opportunities to practice what I preach so to speak…but this one was a big one.  It involved one of my core issues…being good enough.  This, of course is what the researchers call shame.  Again, there are volumes out there; a recent body of research by Brene’  Brown,  a social worker and  researcher  is making all the media headlines with her emphasis on vulnerability and shame and strategies to re-think and re-shape our attitudes and perceptions of these emotions within all of us humans.   She slogged through many challenging times, learned some hard lessons and persevered all the way to the Super Soul Sunday with Oprah.  She is all about realizing our inner gifts and being who we were meant to be.  Sometimes just Being is plenty.

sloth imageThis is all well and good but today I slogged  – The good news about slogging is that it does end.  Once the pain body fire gets ignited and goes through it’s fire dance it gets played out and like a fire burns itself out where, according to Eckhart Tolle, the author of A New Earth,  it goes into it’s quiet place until it’s re-ignited again. He states that an emotion can be a response to an actual situation or event, bit it does so through the filter of a mental interpretation, through mental concepts of good and bad, like and dislike, me and mine.    For example, Tolle points out that you most likely will not feel emotion when you are told that someone’s car has been stolen, but if it is your car, the emotional impact will be felt. “It’s amazing how much emotion a little mental concept like “my” can generate.   Our body’s intelligence is amazing in its ability to function but it has trouble discerning worrisome, fearful thoughts as just thoughts.  It treats them as if they were reality.  If we have past conditioning that have created unconscious belief such as “people cannot be trusted” or “There is never enough money” or ” I don’t deserve love”  then these unconscious assumptions create emotions in the body which in turn generate  mind activity and /or instant reactions.  These negative emotions are connected to our egos and again cause all kinds of chaos and conflicts.  The good news here is that with each new breath one takes there is another opportunity to move forward.    Through practice I have learned to be more aware of my own pain bodies and can sometimes trace them back to their origins, whether that be in childhood or beyond.  Sometimes we can inherit these pain bodies from our families where they take up residence on the emotional level and cause havoc when triggered.

What does a wave of emotion feel like?  Pay attention to your reactions sometime and you will begin to experience your own unique expression although it usually involves the brain and the stomach, the 1st and 2nd brains according to the literature.  I feel heaviness, mood changes, irritability, some back/neck aches and pains as well as anxiety symptoms; not the ideal way to spend a beautiful fall day in ND.  There is much to learn about the power of these emotional pain bodies and no matter what stage of life we are in there is hope.  I need to hear this again and again when my mind/body is in this state of agitation.  So what did I do yesterday?  I lived through it.  I began to write which is a creative activity to counter negativity.  Painting, singing, music  and any number of mindful movements can help tame this lion. I would avoid any compulsive exercises where it is easy to numb out.  There is a place pushing and working hard but this is not the time.    I used my centering prayer ideas – to the best of my abilities and tried to be compassionate with myself.  I’ve been following Pope Francis as he has traveled among the people in this country.  I noticed the feeling of warmth and love whenever I would see him move throughout the different environments.  I became curious about the lives of others, the role of the Jesuit, the special roles of each and every one of us.  Everyone matters.  The truth of this is overwhelming yet it connects with each and every pain body reaction that occurs.  Pain gives us an opportunity to dive deep and look for what needs to change and  accepted with that same base of Love and Truth.   Here’s to encouragement and perseverance.  Taming the pain body lion is an act of your own truth and a connection to the Universal one.  I wish myself and the reader the tools of a compassionate Lion Tamer.fire lion

Spider Sense – Weaving through the Wheel of Life

Spider entered my path this weekend; not in the usual “see on the wall” kind of way.  Instead, it was the result of a bad fall on the sidewalk of life – only this time it was of the concrete type.  I fell directly on both knees and face which I quickly realized was one of those “bad falls”.

A woman pulled into the driveway near where I was sitting/laying and got out of her car. She was older, dressed in one of those brightly colored tunic tops; her reddish short hair possibly with a scarf in it as I recall.  Actually, I remember wondering if she lived in the house and was just returning home. Stopping for me was not in my radar.   She walked over and said, “This happened to me two years ago and no one stopped for a long time.  I remember just laying there and no one came.”

I thanked her angel presence and assured her that I could make the short walk home.  The last few days have been spent figuring out how to walk up steps and get on and off chairs as my knees were quite painful.  Just on the verge of  Memorial Day weekend, I’d planned many activities/tasks that “really needed to get done” and looked forward to time with my family.

Things were now different and I sat there in frustration and tension created from the negative emotions.   One of the healing tools that I frequently use with clients is  what I call “my animal cards”.  These cards were created within a mystical and historical context and have been “right on” for many in challenging situations.  Now, I was the one who needed guidance.  Spider was chosen – the keynote: Creativity and the Weaving of Fate.

I did some research about Spider medicine and found deep secrets embedded.  That’s the magic in these cards – it’s all about what is awakened or related to by the individual.    According to Ted Andrews in Animal Speaks, in India, it was associated with Maya, the weaver of illusion.  It has connections to the Fates in Greek mythology and the Norns in Scandinavian lore – women who would weave, measure and cut the threads of life.  To the Native Americans, spider is grandmother, the link to the past and the future.

The body of the spider has 2 sections which gives the appearance of an eight when on it’s side.  This is the symbol of infinity.  It is the wheel of life, flowing from one circle to the next.  It isn’t always easy navigating those circles or balance between past and future, male and female, physical and spiritual.

Spider is the symbol of infinite possibilities of creation.  Do I want to caught up into the web and become dinner, succumbing to the illusion of just one perspective or be open to other dimensions to the situation?  Why did this happen to me now?  Now what am I going to do?  Of course, I did that for awhile and noticed the impact of that negative thinking pattern.

This is an all too familiar road for most of us humans – probably since the first stories of spider appeared.  This web of fate also represents a wheel of life, the tendency to polarize (good or bad, all or nothing approach) With this line of thinking we forget that we can change things at any time rather than being consumed by our fears and limitations.

Spider symbolizes creativity.  Creativity is the antidote to stress is the phrase I often repeat to others.   Suddenly the idea to CREATE  takes on a new perspective for me.  Funny how that happens when we are busy making other plans.  Andrews states that spider, because of its characteristics is associated with three expressions of magic: the energy of creation, creative power, reflected in its ability to spin a silken web,and assertiveness of that creative force: keeping the creative energies of creation alive and strong.  The third expression involves the spiders spiral energies.

“Are you moving towards a central goal or are you scattered and going in different directions?”  This may involve looking at ourselves with reflection and asking ourselves some questions.  Are you over focused on others or too self absorbed in your own matters?  Do you notice the emotion of resentment in your life?  Balance and creativity are key concepts to learn about spider totems.  Totems are another term for spirit animal to help us in our life journeys.  We have close connections to nature in all aspects of our lives, what we eat, wear, love and nurture.  Respecting what animals symbolize is powerful, positive and fun!  When things aren’t going as we want, seek out ways to connect with your animal totem.  In my case, I am stepping up my creativity by spending time thinking about my creative abilities and asking the question “Are there new ways to be creative at this moment?”  Thinking positively can be very creative when it is not your norm.

Earlier this week, I was drawn to review a book by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, The Wheel of Life.   She is known for her groundbreaking work on death and dying and teaching others about the stages of grief and loss.  Her work with terminally ill  adults and children helped “humanize” medical settings in how they approached the dying process.

In this book she writes about her own dying process, the suffering she experienced over a long period of time and how she applied her own principles to herself.  She felt  a purpose for what she was experiencing despite the angst.  She summarizes her life truths very succinctly:  “The sole purpose of life is to grow – the ultimate lesson is learning how to love and be loved unconditionally. ”  All the hardships that come to your life, all the tribulations, and nightmares, all the things you see as punishments from God are in reality like gifts – they are an opportunity to grow – which is the sole purpose of life.” Taking steps to love self and others…basically the base of therapy and recovery from stress and trauma.

I remember being on the same elevator as Elisabeth during a conference she was speaking at in Winnipeg in the early 1980’s.  She was a very small woman with a German accent whom I knew little about; but this moment was one of those unforgettable memories of life to appreciate now.  Sometimes the rug is pulled out from under you; whether the size is big or small, these rug moments make you pay attention.

When we pay attention, life speaks.   spider image 2

 

Emotional First Aid Kit for Mind/Body

2015  has just begun.  New beginnings are in the air, media, social networks and the history of our lives.  I notice cravings for what is new and am aware of that familiar yearning for what is old and familiar.  Advertisers may be all too familiar with these psychological “truisms”,  perhaps more than any of us want them to yet they are the engine of our lifestyle machine here in the US.

  • New – the emotion of excitement
  • Comfort – the feeling of security and times gone by
  • Hope – the anticipation of getting what you want

This year I decided to create my own first aid kit for emotional management and healing.  Based in part on the emotions listed above – the New-Comfort-Hope concept. My advertising logo might be the eagle/dove image.  Over the years in my private therapy practice I have explored many healing modalities for psychological healing. I believe in the explore, experiment and educate philosophy…the emotional scientist so to speak.   The following is a list  of my own tips for managing the truisms of our ourselves, how our beliefs about ourselves derive from our emotions, those we came into the world with at birth or the ones that were created throughout our lives.  The encouraging news is that we can heal from both psychological and physical conditions and ailments.  The reality is that it takes an investment of commitment and time.  Let’s begin:

  • Today is the first day of the rest of your life.  Every moment of every day is a new opportunity to start again.  Take on the beginners mind when you want to change anything.  Discouragement and doubt are powerful emotions.  I have seen many couples in my therapy practice make comments on the how hard it is to carve new paths together.  It is only possible if both have some interest and if the interest isn’t there then the “fun” can begin.  Get out the emotional excavation tools.  As Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  I believe every life is worth living to each person’s capacity.  Finding that capacity is sometimes tricky.
  • Take an emotional inventory meaning “Who do you love?”  and “Who loves you?”  The belief that we all deserve to love and be loved is also powerful.  Stress and emotional disorders such as mood and anxiety can impact the brain and cause negative thinking and depressive symptoms.  If the answer to the love question is no one and not me then that is the time to call in resources and realize the brain in stress can create problems.
  • Intentional Movement – we hear it all the time that we need to exercise, get fit and toned.  Emotional heath does better with movement in harmony with body and mind.  That would include any type of mindful exercises such as Tai Chi, Yoga, Balance and dance or moving meditations.  Many activities can be adapted to be intentional by slowing them down.  Fast paced, competitive sports all have their place but for the purpose of  emotional health these are better. Essential Somatics by Martha Peterson is one such program that combines these elements to manage/eliminate pain.  I have been experimenting with this one.  The author is a former dancer who experienced pain related to injuries and inflammation.  By “tuning in” to your body regularly, you create a relationship with your own body that can work with you over time.
  • Nutrition and Intuition for the brain.  I have written several blogs regarding the importance of brain health and  the role of nutrition.  Listening to your body and what it does and doesn’t need  is the goal.  In this culture we are not taught to look within for answers, not taught to listen.  Our consumer driven society teaches us to look outside of ourselves; how to fix what is wrong with us with every product under the sun.  Developing a way to access your inner guidance system or intuition will empower and help navigate the current landscape of food choices and beliefs we carry.   Loving Yourself to Great Health by Louise Hay,Ahlea Khadro and Heather Dane is one book to explore this subject.  Question what the beliefs are that you carry around.  Be like Michelangelo and question your life.  Every day create some questions for yourself.
  • Explore emotional healing strategies such as  The Healing Code and The Emotion Code.  The Healing Code, by Alex Lloyd  states that there is a physical mechanism in the body that would heal physical and emotional issues (wrong beliefs) and counteract the source of all these issues which is hidden stress and bring them to light by a practice he has developed using the hands.   The Emotion Code by Bradley Nelson  focuses on the role that emotions play in ones life.  ” Where would you be without emotions?  If the sum total of all your experiences makes up the tapestry of your life, it the emotions that give that tapestry its color.”  He states that unresolved emotions that are stored in the body are the source of many types of pain and suffering.  The treatment is about finding these old emotions and releasing them forever.  This relatively simple tool involves finding a way to access your body/mind using muscle testing or as I have seen, learning how to use the pendulum as a way into yourself. ”  I have been trained in the trauma treatment EMDR which uses eye movement and stimulation to calm the brain as it introduced to new and positive beliefs about oneself and relationship to past stress and trauma.  This is a treatment that needs some guidance, yet once it is experienced, there are many strategies to help yourself when negative symptoms arise.
  • Be Open to Resources.  We all have unique pasts, experiences and personalities.  Whenever you find yourself thinking  “I am right and You are wrong” or “I don’t know what to do” seek out a resource.  This can come in the form of mentor, education(ie.books, computer research, a class) therapist,medical professional, spiritual guide, trusted friend or in a practice such as meditation, centering prayer, art, writing or just being in nature.  Health is all about balance Too much stress can create instability and consequently physical or emotional pain.  I once read the quote “Pain is inevitable, suffering is not.”   I often suggest specific essential oils as resources to help access the parts of us that need attention and healing.  Lavender Vera, Frankincense, Sweet Orange and Peppermint  are a few that come to mind now.  There are oil blends that are created for each energy center of the body (chakra system) and are often used to energize and move what needs to move.
  • Language matters – speak words that have forward motion.  Avoid words such as “No” or “can’t”.  Re-phrase what you want to say with words that are more positive in tone. Yes, you will be amazed at this practice. Research has shown energy patterns to words said both verbally and to yourself.  Positive language carries a higher frequency while negative words are measured at a lower frequency level.  For me, making changes in my own internal dialogue has been most challenging.  I am constantly being shown all the old, habitual forms of negativity that have made their home in my brain.  Genetics, lifestyle, culture and spiritual history all have influence here.  Change has been harder than I first thought.  The good news is Perseverance does pay off.  Keep after it… like training a puppy.
  • Love and Affirm yourself daily  –   This may seem foreign to some.  This  mirror exercise is amazing.    With your hand circling your heart say out loud:  “I love and accept myself completely; with all my faults and limitations and all my wonderful gifts and talents, I love and accept myself completely.  Try it for a week and notice.
  • Last but not least – BREATHE and BREATHE some more.  Explore learning breath strategies.   The audio called  “Breathe to Beat the Blues” by Amy Weintraub is an excellent resource to download.  There are many apps for that as they say.  The 4-4-4 is a basic yet effective breath.  Inhale for the count of 4, hold for 4 and exhale through pursed lips (like blowing air out a straw) for 4.

My intention on this mid-winter day  is to create some excitement for exploration and strategies to use when experiencing the pains of life.  Just like a medicine cabinet holds medicine for your body, the emotions need their own first aid kit…and that can be exciting and comfortable at the same time.

Balneotherapy -Mineralizing for Mind and Body


What is the connection between mental health and the ocean?  I recently embarked on a new path of study; that of aromatherapy and the use of essential oils to help support positive mental states.  I quickly learned that there are  many uses of aromatherapy to help support physical health.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve been able to integrate some of this knowledge and  help others learn and benefit from using these essential oils for health and wellness.  Recently, I embarked on a professional aromatherapy  certification class that will require  extensive study and travel.  New endeavors require courage and energy which is one of the reasons I am seeking ways to strengthen mind/body.   I will need it all.  The good news is that it is available to us.  Balneotherapy refers to the art and science of bathing for the treatment of various disease/disorders.  The aim of these treatments may be to enhance the immune system and stimulate lymph and blood circulation.


Many people feel drawn to the ocean, plan vacations there, dream about beaches and imagine warm salty breezes while out on a sailboat.  Negative ions abound in the ocean.  When water and salt connect, the negative ions in the water molecules surround the positive ions in the salt, and the negative ions in the salt are surrounded by the positive polarized particles of the water molecules.  This changes the geometric structure of the water and the salt, and creates something entirely new, a third dimension.  The water is no longer water and the salt is no longer salt.  The elements have liberated themselves from their restrictions, given up their polarities and become a third substance, a whole new synergy.  These last statements are gleaned from my recent Aromatherapy training in El Paso, TX.  Alexandria Brighton, a noted herbalist, aromatherapist and educator at this conference highlighted this new synergy.

himalyan salt image

What is this new synergy?  When you combine Himalayan crystal salt and natural spring water Sole is created.  After 24 hours, the water has reached a 26% salt saturation level and is ready to use.  A teaspoon or perhaps a little less when you are beginning, is all you need to start the day.  This is best used on an empty stomach .  Bio-chemically, the stomach and intestinal activity (peristalsis) is stimualted and within minutes, which in return stimulates your metabolism and digestion.  Electrolytes are created which improve the body’s conductivity and stimulates the circulation.   Salt allows the current to flow.  Every single element within the salt has its own vibration pattern that resonates with the vibrational  patterns in our body.  People of any age can benefit from Sole; a drop for a baby and gradually increase as children grow up to the suggested serving of one teaspoon.

Dead Sea Salts were used therapeutically in ancient times.  King Solomon presented the Queen of Sheba with Dead Sea Salts upon her visit to the Holy Land.  Numerous medical studies have documented the efficacy of the minerals in these salts in treating and preventing various diseases such as psoriasis, acne and rheumatism.  The skin, being the largest organ of the human body absorbs the minerals, vitamins and other substances into the body and is known to help circulation and metabolism.  The regulation of sodium and potassium in the fluids of the body is essential for healthy body and mind.  This balance is regulated by the Adrenal gland, which in turn affect healthy function of the kidneys.  I didn’t know that the kidneys are responsible for controlling 28 chemicals in the body.   Visually, I imagine what that must look like in the body.  The dance of the fluids.

kidney balance image My background is in helping people understand their behaviors and in a sense help balance and regulate their emotions.  Intimate relationships all have their own dance made up of  attraction, experience, history and emotion; love being the heart of the matter so to speak.   In researching  the Dead Sea and the Himalayan Salts, I began to realize the vital role of our own body’s relationship with nature and creation.  We are energy, have long experience and history with the earth and filled with the influences of our emotions and behaviors.  Love still lights our hearts with meaning and has amazing energy.  Our brains continue to evolve – the pace is breath-taking.  Balance is a huge challenge for us today and often overlooked.  That is one reason adrenal fatigue and burnout is more prevalent today than the past.   My interest in balance connects now with the kidneys.  How amazing.  Just as we need the healthy balance of  feeling  loved and being able to love others.

Dead Sea Salt contains 10 times more minerals than ordinary sea salt.  They absorb essential oils with ease and can be used in the bath or a foot soak at home.  Many essential oils work well this way.  There are a few that are not recommended for the bath so check the information before using them.  For example Lavender and Marjoram would be effective bath oils to help ease hypertension.  Pamerossa, Geranium, Ylang Ylang, Bergamont and Roman Chamomile are oils to help with stress and anxiety.    For travel and jet lag the recipe for a foot soak is 1/4 cup Dead Sea Salt, 4 drops Basil, 8 drops Lemon and 2 drops of Pepperment.  Use warm water 100-104 degrees F and soak 8-15 minutes.  the recipe for Depression and/or Anxiety foot soak is 1/4 cup Dead Sea Salt, 15 drops Bergamot, 5 drops Neroli, and 1 drop Sandelwood.   Using a mister spray with Neroli during the day can help keep your mood positive.

If you can take a trip to the Dead Sea or go to one of those fancy European Spas that utilize balneo-therapy treatments, I would invite comment!  For those of us living in the Midwest, October reminds us of  what is to come and ponder ways to endure through the winter.  Consider a trip to your personal spa room in your home and try one of these foot soaks or bath experiences.  It is important to note that doing these soaks regularly is the key(2-3 times per week); just as a balanced diet is to our digestive system.  Enjoy the ions!

Website to learn more on the goDesana website:  www.goDesana.com/tinajohnson