Friday, December 30, 2011

Primer on Happiness

This photo came to me in a Facebook feed and I thought it would help set the appropriate tone as we reflect back on 2011 and create our mindset for 2012. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Quick Coherence for Holiday Peace

We have been using a lot of Biofeedback for soldiers with PTSD to decrease anxiety and increase mindfulness. I am currently in the process of reviewing the emWave by HeartMath to determine if it is a good fit to use and recommend at Jing, and one of the initial practices suggested is a short heart meditation that does not require the aid of a device. Detailed information is available on their website along with a number of free tools and research. Try out this quick, proactive practice for your own centered presence before taking on holiday traffic or that pesky family drama!

Step 1: Focus
Bring awareness to the area around your heart in the center of your chest.  Place your hand over your sternum to help maintain this focus.

Step 2: Breath
Begin by taking your normal breaths gradually deepening each inhale and elongating each exhale. Imagine each inhale and exhale originates and flows freely from your heart center. Continue this practice until the breath feels natural and relaxed.

Step 3: Feeling
As you maintain your heart focus and breath, recall a positive memory or pleasurable feeling. Try to re-experience that moment, taking in all of the enjoyable sensory and interpersonal aspects that bring joy and peace. Linger here, allowing yourself to rebalance and recharge before moving forward.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Top 5 Self-Care Experiences of 2011

Many patients ask me what I do for my own self-care regimen - after all, if you are going to preach it, you need to practice it. One of my main sources of R&R are spa adventures both for my own personal enjoyment, but also as a way to research a variety of therapies to recommend as part of a total individual treatment plan for my patients. This year I had the opportunity to try several modalities in various locations  across the country, and the following are my reflections on those experiences.

Maya Abdominal Massage - I have only had one "full body" massage in my life where abdominal work was part of the treatment.  I have asked a number of massage therapists why, and answers range from "nobody likes it" to "we didn't learn that in school."  I agree, it feels a little weird partially because it is natural to guard the area, but also because most of us are not used to being so aware of our liver, stomach, or ileocecal valve.  Maya abdominal massage requires additional training and involves the entire core. This therapy addresses issues including pelvic discomfort (including hips and low back), sexual function, and gastrointestinal irregularity. My favorite place in Louisville is Balance in Motion.

Ashiatsu - I had this done while at a conference in Orlando at Rosen Shingle Creek Spa. This is an intense deep tissue massage where the therapist stands over holding parallel bars for balance and uses feet instead of finger pressure to target common trigger or acupuncture points.  This is sometimes called Oriental Bar Therapy and has become more popular in recent years. Deeper does not mean better or more effective and is not an appropriate therapy for everyone. Folks who have a lot of scar tissue or adhesions may like this therapy, however those with fibromyalgia or myofacial syndrome may find it makes their condition worse.

Reflexology - Perhaps my favorite treatment when done by someone formally trained, I have yet to get through one of these without falling asleep! More than a foot, hand, or ear massage, this modality uses sustained finger-pressure techniques to find areas of the body in need of attention without having to touch them directly. This is a great alternative to full-body massage for those who have discomfort but prefer to remain clothed. Those who tend to do well with this therapy can often tell when the therapist is touching the neck area of the hands or sinus area of the foot.  I have had this done at Mandara spas in Orlando and Anaheim, Rachel's Salon in Memphis, Gould's Salon at the Peabody Memphis, and locally at my favorite place, J.R.s Salon.

Hot Stone - This is the number-one patient favorite, even in the summer and for those experiencing hot flashes! It is fantastic for people who like light-medium pressure with the goal of increasing circulation and relaxation. The stones are usually warm but some therapists will incorporate cold stones if appropriate.  The stones warm and relax the muscles to allow deeper but less intense work with hands with less post-treatment soreness than with other types of massage. I am lucky enough to have a very talented therapist at Jing who also brings aromatherapy and a foot scrub into the session. Genevieve's Healing Arts

Body Wraps - I get questions about these from folks who want to "detox" after surgery, as a seasonal cleanse, or to remove excess water weight. Those who like it enjoy the warm, cocoon feeling, improved circulation, and skin softening or tightening effects. Again, this is a good therapy for people who like to spa, but may be touch-sensative.  To be honest though,  I do not like the feeling of being swaddled in plastic wrap and wet towels saturated by algae powder and my own sweat. I have had about three of these in my whole life and all were a bit different, but nonetheless, not for me.

***Disclaimer: None of these companies listed provided compensation for reviewing their services