reflectionsmassage

Reflections Massage Therapy

Where the Revolution Begins. July 25, 2013

Filed under: Balance,CranioSacral,Massage Therapy — Reflections Integrative Therapy @ 4:02 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Slowly, slowly, since returning home from India, I have stepped into a new role: facilitating and teaching yoga classes with a primary focus on nervous system engagement and regulation – cultivating a practice of meeting yourself exactly where you are. And what has unfolded in these few months since stepping back onto American soil has been profoundly reinforcing of the teachings that India offered to me, in all of her struggle and beauty.

Now teaching, I watch people move in their bodies, watch them feel what feels right, what their version of what I have just demonstrated and I know I am witnessing the experience of exploration. Self-exploration. Learning one’s capacity. And learning what it looks like to stretch that, to move that, to trust in the resilience that is inherent in our beings and to really begin to understand our capacity.

Not a capacity based on conditioning. Not one based on what someone else has told us about ourselves. Not a capacity that we understand based on comparing ourselves to others. No, this, this is deeper. This is quieter. This is subtler. And it’s one that I’ve been exploring in myself and feeling grateful to watch others explore in themselves.

I have spent the better part of the past 4 years taking care of myself – healing from a traumatic relationship, tending to some very old wounds and learning who I am underneath all of these layers of projected identities that I have taken on. And in that care-taking, I have come to be very gentle with myself – most of the time. I have developed the ability to listen to myself on a subtle level and as such, I am finely tuned to imbalances and am quick to try to re-balance.

I believe that when we learn to explore our capacity, to explore it for ourselves, to gain an embodied sense of it, that – that is when it all begins to shift. By our very nature, we humans are incredibly resilient. Organs can be removed, hearts can be stopped, bones can be broken, hearts can be broken – and all of this can heal. We can continue on in the face of all of this, and so much more. The challenge, then, is trusting that. Trusting our resiliency. Trusting in our capacity to move and bend and flex and heal and grow and love. Trusting in our ability to come back over and over, to wake up over and over – no matter how challenging it may feel.

I equate it to lung capacity. Hiking up a mountain, going for a long bike ride, running the trails near my home – all of these force my lungs to expand and contract, most often pushing the expansion beyond what I know to be my limit. And then I rest, my lungs take a break (kind of). Then I’m back at it again, the next day or the next week, and this time I know how far I can go and I get there, I get to that place where a day or week ago I felt resistance and this time I can go a little further.

It’s not about pushing, it’s about staying current. It’s about letting your body be exactly where it is in that moment. Holding it with radical acceptance – feeling and trusting both its capacity and resilience.

And this isn’t just about lung capacity, or bodies in general. This is about who we are as human beings and what we are truly capable of. It’s about trusting that capacity, living our lives from that place of deep knowing. That. That is where the revolution begins.

 

Travelling Inward January 13, 2013

Filed under: Balance,Gratitude — Reflections Integrative Therapy @ 6:40 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The last three years have been full of travel for me. Not the travel that involves backpacks and trains and someone noisily rummaging through their luggage in a shared room at 3 in the morning. No, this travel has been internal. I have been journeying to wounds and scars and memories and strength and health and all the while learning that growth comes whether you are moving or not.

The first few years after I moved to this town, I remember being afraid that my growth would stagnate. Someone asked me years ago what my biggest fear was and at the time, without even a forethought, I said simply, “stagnation.” I was afraid to stop moving. Because in my mind, to stop moving meant to stop growing. At that point my most profound experiences of growth and transformation had come only with a backpack upon my back and foreign tongues swirling in my head. Pushing myself outside my physical comfort zone was the only way that I knew how to really grow. It was in that space that I shed the stories, shed the performance of myself and got to the essence of me. And then I’d come home again and cling desperately to that essence, vowing to not lose what I’d learned about myself and the places I’d come to discover – vowing to not go back to the old way of being.

But after about 6 months of moving to Boulder, with no big travel plans in sight, and the novelty of moving to a new place wearing off, I began to fear that staying in one place meant that those periods of profound transformation would come to an end. Or at least a temporary end until I packed up and took off again for someplace new that pushed me outside my comfort zone and reminded me of the essence of myself.

But, instead, something else happened. Something that has only become really clear to me in this time when I am in fact packing up my backpack and preparing for another journey. 7 years after moving to this town, 7 years filled with struggling to really unpack and settle in, I find that the growth that has happened while staying in the same place is profound on a level that I’d never known possible.

What happens when our internal environment becomes where we are out of our comfort zone, not our external? What happens when the places that push us and challenge us are not a foreign language or the uncertainty of ones location, but the foreignness of our own internal landscape.

Because it’s not about place, at least this time around. It’s not about something outside myself illuminating my essence. This has been an internal process and as such, I carry it with me. It is no longer about being afraid that when the external environment changes I will lose contact with this way that I know myself. And there is something so profoundly liberating about that. There is freedom in knowing myself in this way, and knowing that this self will continue to grow and change and evolve. And with that evolution I have learned to check in and to witness and to see the ways that things shift, and to trust in the unfolding.

I am comfortable now, in this once foreign landscape. I can speak the language, I know the gestures, and I have found some sacred hidden places that are full of joy. This land that was once unfamiliar to me, has become my home. And that comfort might be temporary, as all resting places really are. Inevitably, deeper travel will be spurred and more growth and learning this internal space will occur. The comfortableness arises not necessarily from knowing myself (because that which I know now is bound to change, thank you evolution). No, the comfortableness comes from trusting, trusting my inner explorer and trusting this self that I have come to discover and indeed, love. Trusting the growth and change and trusting the courage to continue exploring, to continue venturing beyond the reaches of what I know and being curious about what else is there.

This internal journey, in the way that I have known it for the past 4 years, is coming to a shift. An end of sorts, a transition into something else. It’s time for this self that I have discovered to go back out into the world. To learn what its external comfort zones are now, and to push it right out of them. It feels bittersweet, as transitions often are – full of sadness at the ending and a readiness for what is to come. And in this transition between coming and going I find myself feeling grateful for the events that set me on this journey and grateful for the beings that have walked with me through some dark and scary places – reminding me of the ground beneath my feet when it felt as if there was none. And surprisingly enough, I am grateful for the constancy of my external environment (in whatever ways anything is really constant) holding this space for me to delve into my own foreign depths.

This internal landscape is not all known to me, there is so much more territory yet to be discovered, more wounds to be healed and more tenderness to be found. And so I continue on, with this dance between internal and external. Inhabiting this body in a way that I only could through my internal explorations and carrying it out into the world to now allow my external environment to be the unknown, and to discover new landscapes with these new eyes. All the while knowing that I have found a home in myself, a land that still contains so much un-navigated ground but that now has some familiar resting places to come to when I need to catch my breath and recharge. This travelling is exhilarating and exhausting work. Thank god I get to do it.

 

 

On being between trapezes September 4, 2012

Filed under: Balance — Reflections Integrative Therapy @ 11:23 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I was out walking Lucy this evening, strolling the dirt alleyways in my neighborhood and I started thinking about transitions. While pretty much every parched cell in my body is excited that summer is beginning it’s ending march, still…I see the water levels dropping in the creek beds, the dying off of summer wildflowers, the fact that when I was finishing work yesterday around 8 I needed to turn another light on in my office, and a part of me feels a twinge of sadness at the passing of summer. Don’t get me wrong, this one was particularly brutal and about 2 months ago I found myself longing for the crispness of fall. And while that’s not yet upon us (it was 90 degrees at its hottest today, definitely not fall yet), public schools have been back in session for a few weeks (whatever happened to starting after labor day?!), CU started up last week (this is the month that anyone in their right mind avoids Target like the plague), the regular summer events have wrapped up and while the Wednesday evening farmer’s market is in full effect still, it’s getting dark by the time the tents are brought down and the veggies packed up.

And maybe the sense of transition is so strong for me right now because I’m moving again and I’m looking at the face of transition of home and what that means for me and how I’ve worked with that in the past. In many ways it feels a little like I just got here, but in reality it’s been about 9 months and truth be told, I’m not sure where I’m going to be landing in a week. There’s so much uncertainty in this transition and I find that I’m grateful for the environmental transitions right now because it reminds me of the natural course of all of this.

I do not do transitions well. Maybe my lack of anxiety around this move and the uncertainty is stemming from denial rather than a surrender and trust in the universe. Who knows? What I do know is that being in between trapezes is scary. Not having something familiar to hold on to, not really knowing what the next thing is going to look like.

So what do we do in the in-between? How do we find grace in transitions and gentleness with ourselves as we move into uncharted territory? Here, I take a lesson from my nephew. He doesn’t do transitions well, either, and he’s not ashamed to demonstrate that. I sometimes wonder if we ever really get better at transitions or we just learn how to cope in different ways than when we’re 2. But he seems to move through them easier if there is something familiar, no matter how small.

And so, let’s call this: A Transition Object and go find one. Maybe it’ll be a crab apple from the tree that hangs over my porch, or maybe a stone from the trail near my house that I’ve wandered up countless afternoons in the past 9 months, or maybe something that I don’t even know yet but it’ll jump out at me and let me know that it’ll be my familiar as I move into the unfamiliar. It will help remind me that while everything around me is shifting into something new, there is something solid that I can hold on to. For as long as I need to.

Because that’s the other piece. Inevitably the unfamiliar becomes familiar, we recognize faces, remember names, establish routines, find the best parking spot, recognize where we are when we wake up in the morning. It’s the beauty of transition, it’s not permanent. Not that anything is, but really the nature of transition is that you move from one place (mental/emotional/physical, etc.) to another and the movement is transition, but then you arrive and you move out of transition.

So, wherever you are, you may be noticing the hints of transition coming up on you, or you may be in the throes of it at the moment, or you may be moving out of it already. Whatever the case may be, can you find a sense of mindfulness with the temporary nature of transitions? Feel the strength that is required to remain airborne between trapezes and the courage it takes to trust that another trapeze will swing your way – and before you know it, you’ll be in flight with something to hold on to. At least for a little while.

 

Taking it to the next level* February 6, 2012

Filed under: Balance,CranioSacral,Massage Therapy — Reflections Integrative Therapy @ 10:03 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

*The title of this also happens to be my self-designated theme for 2012

I’m learning to stay put these days. You could call it a practice. A practice of allowing a subtle and slow network of tendrils to root down into this soil that my feet have trodden these 6 years. A practice of allowing the familiar to be home. A practice of unpacking with no intention of repacking at some arbitrarily designated time in the future.

It might seem strange that I have to practice staying in one place, but let me tell you, even though my address has been within the confines of this one state for the past 6 years, my eyes and heart have been elsewhere. And within me there has been a part that never really unpacked, never really settled in, never really let this feel like home. I’ve always thought that I’m supposed to wander. I’m supposed to explore and discover and create and re-create home over and over again until I decide to stop. Boulder was the first stop on what was going to be a multi-year journey exploring what it means to create a home. Ironic, really, that I thought bouncing from place to place would be how I learned about creating home. But it also meant a safety in always being able to leave – never being tied too strongly to a place that I could just up and leave whenever I wanted. Self-preservation at its finest.

But instead, for various reasons, I came to Boulder and stayed. I stayed for a relationship. And then I stayed to finish massage school. And then I stayed to give myself a little time to figure out what to do next, where to go. And then I stayed to study CranioSacral. And that is coming to an end shortly. This spring I will be free from my tie to Boulder, free to head on to the next destination, free to go out in search of home. Free to find…what I have here.

But time is starting to do funny things as I inch into my next decade. Suddenly the feeling of having known a person or a place for multiple years feels…rich. I have friends getting married soon and I have been witness to their relationships from the beginning. And the idea of getting to watching those relationships make the transition into marriage and then possibly the creation of families, I want to see that. I want to get to be a witness to the unfolding lives of those I love. And by not saying, “Where to next?” I am allowing that time to play out as it will.

In that expanse of time, there is space for depth. There is room for me to allow these relationships that I’ve cultivated, be they clients or friends, to go deeper. Because there’s time, there’s time to allow for the organic process of depth, there’s time to get to know people on a new level. To encounter a depth that comes, not from a shared intense experience, but rather from sharing in the small victories and little deaths that we encounter on a daily basis.

So, I am here now, I have unpacked my bags and let myself be held by a space that is familiar yet constantly changing.

For so long (perhaps since I moved here) I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Boulder. I wanted Boulder to be something else. I wanted it to be somewhere else. But, ultimately, what it really came down to was that I wanted me to be something else. So perhaps this finding home in a place that I’ve actually called home for years now, really speaks more to finding home in my own skin. It is less about what an external place is, or could be, and more about where I am internally.

It means letting myself rest into the familiarity of my external environment while also trusting my own evolutionary process. For years, the most transformational times that I had were when I was traveling, moving, pushing myself to the edge of my comfort zone, and then jumping out of it.  And so I was convinced that to keep growing, I had to keep going.

I talk a lot about processes. Processes and practices and how there’s really no end point to anything (expecting of course for the ultimate end point) when it comes to our personal evolution and consciousness. I asked a Cranio mentor recently if you can ever not go deeper. She just looked at me and smiled and asked what I thought. Of course not. There’s always a new layer to uncover, explore, rest into.

So, these days, I’m learning how to go down instead of forward, in instead of out. It’s hard. It’s harder than packing a bag and leaving; harder in some ways than being in a foreign country and not speaking the language. It’s harder because there’s nowhere to run when it’s hard, no next town to explore and get lost in, and no train to physically move me into a new place. There’s no avoiding the monsters that take this opportunity of stillness to make an appearance. It’s hard because the foreign country is my own self and I am exploring this territory in a way that I never have before. But, I’m exploring it in this way, in part, because the space that I am in these days in familiar. I am not learning a new grocery store, or the fastest back-roads route across town. I’ve done that. I’ve spent 6 years doing that. I have built the foundation in a lot of ways that allows me to deepen in to this place and explore its depths, and my own in the process.

So often we come to a point, a divide, and we can either chose to move forward or deepen in. I ask you to think, which do you most often choose? Do you go to the depths when there is a pause in movement? Or do you say, “Ok, what’s next?” I think that both modes hold a purpose and there’s a need for both, certainly. But, if you’re like me and your tendency is to say, “Ok, here I am at a resting point. What comes next? Where am I going now?” I invite you to deepen into that pause. And you just might find that even in depths there is movement. In stillness there is change and potency. Staying put and going in doesn’t mean inviting stagnancy. In fact, quite the opposite. By staying put just a little bit longer an entirely new world may unfold before you. And if not, you can always pack your bag and go looking for one elsewhere.

 

Letting go…or how I ended my summer vacation. September 20, 2011

“To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”  –  Mary Oliver

This oft-quoted passage from Mary Oliver has been in my head a lot lately as the practice of loving and letting go has been a constant work these days. I’ve been finding myself saying good-bye an awful lot lately. But, loving and letting go shows up in so many different forms that it felt appropriate, on the eve of the end of summer, to ruminate for a while on holding on and letting go.

Summer is waning, the days are growing shorter and the morning chill lasts a little longer than in weeks past. Stock is taken of the summer’s activities, what goals were accomplished, what projects completed, what trips taken and adventures had. And with one eye on that, I turn the other to the coming months of vibrant colors, cooler days and more of an inward twist.

How do you face the change of seasons? Is there a grieving process, do you mourn the days no longer? Is there excitement about the newness that the upcoming season will hold? Do you have a ritual to say good-bye and welcome in the new?

And, because this is where I’ve been these days, I can’t help but turn those three tasks inward. I think this applies both to our interactions with others and our surrounding environment, and also to how we interact with ourselves. There are parts of myself that I have loved. Held against my bones as if my very life depended on them. And yet. And yet. Something about this time is calling to me to let them go. Let go of these parts of myself that I know and love and understand and find as comforting as an old flannel shirt. Because that shirt has a lot of holes in it these days and frankly, it doesn’t really fit anymore, one too many dryer cycles. So the time has come to let go. Easier said than done, believe you me. But life has a funny way of helping you along in doing hard things that need to be done. And by “help” I mean, it will find a way of forcing you to do it, even if you don’t want to.

I look at this, too, with bodywork, and the difficulty in changing a holding pattern. The ways that patterns that we’ve adopted are familiar and comforting because they were what we did to manage our experience, they were how we coped. In some way, our life depended on those patterns. And yet. And yet. Now, the experience that we were managing has passed (and if it hasn’t, you have full permission to hang out in your pattern!) and so perhaps it’s time to let it go.

And the inevitable, and perhaps more straight forward realm that Mary Oliver was speaking to (listen, I like to read into things, ok?), letting go of those we love. But to start with, loving those we love. Loving others, holding them close, sharing hearts and lives and adventures. And then, when the time comes to let them go, to let them go.

For me, there is a fear of the void. The space after letting go, before the newness has moved in. And perhaps this is where the seasons can help. The transitional time means some days of shorts and sweatshirts and others pants and flip-flops. Brilliant late afternoon sunshine and warmth, and chilly mornings. In essence transition, neither here nor there, you get to enjoy a little bit of both on any given day. And there is play in that space in between, movement even. A fluidity that allows for deliberate behavior; a consciousness about the coming days. In this time we can give ourselves permission to grieve, to mourn the loss of what is no longer, see the ways in which it impacted our lives and offer it gratitude.

Perhaps it seems so easy to do because I’m just really excited about fall. It’s my favorite season, in part because here in Colorado you get all the beauty and sunshine of summer, without the stifling, soul-sucking heat. August nearly fried me. And fall signals my birthday and I get 5-year-old excited about that. So, while I was a little saddened that it was dusk when I left my office at 7 tonight, I’m delighted to feel a crispness in the air when I open my door to take Lucy for a walk in the morning. And my home is certainly quieter without the constant hum of ceiling fans.

So, yes, there is a lot in this transitory time about letting go. But what about the joy of experience? The ways we celebrated summer? The brilliance of our body’s coping strategies? The beauty in how we’ve known ourselves and the experience of self-discovery? And the wonder in loving others, opening our hearts to friends and lovers and family and giving love wholeheartedly? What an amazing thing to be capable of!

So, as a more specific directive to tag onto Mary Oliver’s, I suggest that in the letting go we also offer gratitude to those parts of ourselves that nurtured us at some point in our lives, to the ways the season held us, to the gifts and lessons and love another brought into our lives, and let them go, knowing that we are forever changed because of them.

 

Be here…here…here…here now. May 23, 2011

Filed under: Balance,CranioSacral,Massage Therapy — Reflections Integrative Therapy @ 11:25 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

When I was 17 I sat at the base of Mt. Kenya and listened as my NOLS instructor, Mo, pointed at the mountain and said, “Be here now.” Be present. Be mindful. Don’t be anywhere else but exactly where you are. So, I adopted that as a mantra, returned to it over and over again in my months in East Africa – being “here” with moments both enlightening and terrifying. Practicing presence in the midst of astounding beauty and painfully blistered feet and an aching back.

My “here” has shifted recently. I moved to Denver a few weeks ago, after more than 5 years of calling Boulder home, I chose to move into transition. I chose to become a commuter. I chose to uproot my somewhat fragile root system and truck on down the road a little ways, with the intention of spreading out – expanding my community and finding new places to reach my branches out to.

So, for the past few weeks I’ve been riding the waves of transition and trying to do that with a lot of mindfulness. I’m watching my transition patterns and can recognize and say to myself “oh, right. This is the time in transition when I desperately want to just run away.” Or “This is the stage where I need to be quiet and reflective and deliberate. And careful with myself.” And instead of trying to rush through this time, I’ve been moving slowly and sitting with all the uncomfortable parts, knowing that they’ll shift and that they’re part of this process. I’m honoring the wholeness if I can honor the light and the dark of challenges.

And while the dark has been destabilizing, the light has been bold. This place that 3 weeks ago held no significance for me, now feels like home. It is a comfort to return to at the end of the day, it’s a space that I look forward to being in when I have the time to stay home, it’s infused with me and those I love – photographs of people and places that have touched my life, and in true me fashion, the living room walls are orange (w/ a turquoise accent wall). It is home.

So, I’m here now. And here is Denver. Here is this little house in five points. Here is still Colorado. Here is still full of community and support and love. And here is different than it was a month ago. Here has shifted.

So, how does “be here now” fit into this? I learned something new, or gained a new perspective. “Be here now” is not asking that you cling desperately to each moment, but rather that you lean into the constant shift and transformation is that occurring moment to moment. That you stay present with impermanence. That you stay present with the shift. That you allow yourself to move with that presence. Because trying to “be here now,” doesn’t really work if “here” is not fixed. Because by the time you remember to “be here now” “here” has already shifted, “here” has become somewhere else and so in essence you’re trying to be somewhere that is no longer.

In presence there is endless movement. And if we can cultivate presence, we get to experience that movement and the limitless possibilities that are contained in that movement.

This is part of why, in bodywork, I focus so much on felt sense in the moment. Asking someone what they’re noticing in their bodies just then – not what’s chronic or familiar – but what is happening in that singular moment, helps to call in presence. It’s so easy to get lost in the stories our bodies contain, and those stories certainly serve a purpose, but sometimes we hold on to them longer than we need to, and mindfulness in the body allow us to see what is, in this particular moment, and then watch what shifts with our awareness.

So, I offer Mo my gratitude, wherever he is. But, I’d like to make an addendum to his directive. Be here now, but remember that here is always shifting.

 

Root down April 3, 2011

Filed under: Massage Therapy — Reflections Integrative Therapy @ 10:05 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Moving into Spring (despite a snowy April day today) I thought I’d share this beautiful song by the wonderful trio Coyote Grace from Seattle. It seems quite fitting…

In yoga last Monday, my amazing instructor said “you cannot be flexible unless you are grounded” and that has stuck with me for the past week particularly as we move into spring and there’s that sweet soft green fuzz to a stand of trees, the first blossoming buds greeting the sun. One of my favorite things about trees is that they must send their roots down equidistant into the ground as branches into the sky. This rooting allows them to seek nutrients and water, as well as to stabilize so they can bend and flex as needed – allowing them to not break in the wind and also to not topple over.

The concept of grounding to find flexibility is interesting to e. It seems contradictory at times, I think, the idea that you can find more movement if you plant your feet more firmly. So I started exploring what that means, what it looks like in my body, in my relationships, in my work, in my interactions with people. And I think I get it, or I’m beginning to. Grounding means to stand in yourself. To feel the ground firmly beneath your feet and to know that, trust that and allow that to be your marker to know where you are, to know that you are. And then you move from there. Sometimes this means slowing down enough to check in with myself before I make a decision and sometimes it means finding ground under my feet after I’ve jumped into something new; finding this new footing beneath me and moving forward from there.

I believe that it’s possible to find movement from grounding. And for this again I turn to my trusty trees. Because in essence that’s what they’re doing. They’re rooting further down day by day in order to grow taller and broader and more expansive. Finding your ground allows you to expand and move and flex and reach beyond yourself.

I had a Philosophy professor when I was in college who asked us all on the first day of class what our biggest fear was. Stagnancy was mine so this idea of movement and rooting coexisting is fun to play with, to explore the ways I can experiment with it in my life – and to see that just because this is the sixth Spring that I find unfolding before me in Boulder, that does not mean there is not movement in my life.

So, I leave you with the question to entertain for yourself: how do you find movement while you’re rooted?

 

 
%d bloggers like this: