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By Heidi Aschenbrenner,BCTMB CCT, LMBT and Member AOBTA

Our bodies are wonderfully complicated entities, which makes the field of bodywork so exciting.  Any kind of bodywork that delves into the fascia prompts change in those tissues, on a level that can’t be accessed with other methods of healing.  (Fascia is a blanket term for all connective tissue in the body.)  Our soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin – all the softer fascia of the body) can be stretched, strengthened, injured, or torn.  Thankfully, our bodies adapt and compensate for an immense variety of potential mishaps that we encounter as we go about our lives with both our work and our play.  Also thankfully, our bodies do heal, and they can also be retrained out of any bad habits we’ve had – all we need to do is prompt our muscles to do different things to learn new behaviors.  What a wonderful fascial system we have!

Many of us have had some type of injury.  We may have gone through physical therapy, we may have just put some ice on it and taken anti-inflammatories until our acute pain went away, or we may have ignored the pain until we no longer noticed it anymore, pushing through the daily “have to’s.”  The fascia does eventually heal, sometimes in spite of ourselves.  But… if there was any emotional trauma connected to that injury, the emotional aspect of the injury does not simply go away as we ignore it.  Ah, the complication now arises. 

therapeutic-massage-bodyworkOur fascia retains those emotional memories.  If this is a new concept to you, then pause and think on that for a moment:  our fascia retains those emotional memories until we release them.  Unless you have experienced this phenomenon, it may be difficult to grasp.  I had grasped the concept mentally years ago, yet I still was not fully prepared for the first time I experienced this type of healing.  Many of us have learned to push down our emotions, pressing on and not stopping to feel or to grieve.  There may be fear, sadness, or anger associated with any traumatic event that results in physical injury.  How often do you think we allow ourselves the time and space to process those feelings at the time they occur? 

Many of our chronic pain issues are simply our bodies crying out, begging us to pay attention to what still needs healing, and it may need to be on an emotional level.  Our bodies can wait a very, very long time for this, but eventually push comes to shove and then someone’s back goes out simply from picking up some laundry.  Chronic pain plagues so many of us, and so often the medical community doesn’t understand exactly what is causing that pain.  Pain is the body’s method of communicating to us that we need to stop what we are doing and change something.  Discovering what needs to change is not always a simple task.

How do we experience this healing?  It requires trust in your therapist.  It requires slowing down and allowing your mind, body and spirit to express what needs expressing.  It requires not forcing your fascia to do what you think it “should” but rather just letting go.  It requires not having an agenda for your bodywork session, which comes back to trusting your therapist.  Letting go with your mind is imperative so that your fascia can then let go of whatever it still needs to; you need to be in a parasympathetic state for this type of healing to occur, and for any real changes in your fascia to occur.  If you are one who likes to chat during massage, you will never get to this level of healing.

Not everyone needs this deep emotional release during bodywork, but many of us certainly do.  If you ever feel the need to weep during a bodywork session, please remember that it is good and healthy to let that happen.  Don’t stifle the healing process with any “should’s.”  You are safe with your therapist, and all licensed therapists receive training on this very topic.  I recommend that you talk to your therapist if you’d like to know more. 

massage therapist certified cupping therapist

Heidi Aschenbrenner, BCTMB CCT, LMBT and Member AOBTA, is the owner of Renu Massage, Energy & Bodywork. Heidi’s team of therapists all strive to achieve balance in each session through the use of energy work incorporated into their bodywork therapies.

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By Heidi Aschenbrenner, BCTMB CCT, LMBT and Member AOBTA

We’ve all heard the term “aromatherapy,” which utilizes essential oils during massage, sauna use, or as an addition to a bath or lotion, but many of us aren’t exactly certain what those terms actually mean.  What exactly are essential oils?  How are they helpful?  Essential oils are extracted from a given plant (using all of its parts from root to flower).  The extraction is generally done using a steam distillation process to release the oils, and then the oil is extracted from the steam as the mixture cools.  With distillation, any pesticides or other chemicals that may have been in the plant should be removed.  Cold pressing may also be utilized for certain citrus oils. The health benefits from the original plant are then concentrated in the oil extraction.  Essential oils can be used to remedy a wide range of ailments, just as plants have been used to heal for centuries. 

Massage oil and hot stones for therapeutic massageQuality does matter – it does seem to be true that you get what you pay for with essential oils.  It usually takes thousands of a particular plant to produce just a few milliliters of essential oil!  The term “therapeutic grade” is used by several companies, and though that term is not a regulated one, it is generally the industry standard that signifies that the oils are pure and contain no fillers or artificial ingredients.  But as with any unregulated term, ask questions!  Find out what the extraction process is – there should never be oily feel to a pure essential oil (which you can test on a sheet of white paper).  Some sources of good quality oils include doTERRA, Young Living, Swiss Aromatics, and Native American Nutritionals.

There are several essential oils I can’t live without anymore:  lavender, peppermint, lemon, and frankincense.  Lavender is simply the most versatile oil out there; it can be used to relax muscles, to soothe irritated skin (and is disinfecting), and is very calming and great for a bath or a massage.  It can spruce up a stagnant closet, freshen up a room, linens, really anything!  It can help keep winter dryness away when added to your moisturizer (fractionated coconut oil is best to mix it with). 

lavender-massage-oilPeppermint is wonderful for both digestive troubles and also for any sinus congestion or headaches.  It helps relax muscles too, so it’s a great blend with lavender if you’ve got a knot in your back.  Peppermint has soothed my tummy many a time after eating something that didn’t agree with me. You can double bag your peppermint tea or add a few drops of the essential oil to receive its soothing effects on your digestive system or to eliminate headaches without taking a pill.  Rubbing it directly on your belly works for digestive troubles too.  When diffused in a room, not only do you get its great benefits for your sinuses, you’ll also be encouraging your 6 and 8 legged uninvited guests to vacate the premises – insects and arachnids don’t like peppermint, an added bonus!

Lemon is such a wonderful immune-boosting oil.  Just a few drops to your favorite herbal tea will help detoxify your liver and give you an energy boost.  Mixing lemon and peppermint in your morning glass of water will give you a refreshing, energy boosting treat.  Lemon can also get the stink out of forgotten wet laundry and help with hard water deposits when cleaning. 

Ah, frankincense… My new favorite oil.  It’s calming to both your physical and emotional states.  Just taking a few deep breathes of frankincense can change your whole perspective and turn your day around.  It’s also good for skin conditions and is a diuretic, and it works very well with peppermint to relieve headaches.  Frankincense boosts your immune system and supports your body’s healthy production of white blood cells, and it makes you feel great while it’s doing all that. 

Who can benefit from essential oils?  Everyone!  They are particularly great for pregnant women who want more natural remedies for headaches, nausea, morning sickness, congestion, swollen ankles, or low-back pain.  Essential oils are a wonderful complement to any massage, and can be a great addition to any home. 

Heidi Board Certified Licensed Massage Bodywork Therapist and Certified Cupping TherapistBio:

Heidi Aschenbrenner, BCTMB CCT, LMBT and Member AOBTA, is the owner of Renu Massage, Energy & Bodywork. Heidi and her team of therapists all strive to achieve balance in each session through the use of energy work incorporated into their bodywork therapies. 

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That’s right – seven to ten days! How? Some pretty intense cupping therapy with Jeff at Renu. Intrigued? Here’s the story:

It was one of those things after getting back to life after flu + pneumonia… I tweaked my shoulder, the one which likes

kangzhu-cupping-therapy-vacuum-close-up-renu-madison

Darker colors may appear from cupping therapy

to pop out of its socket anyway, and it felt weird for awhile. Then the pain started.  The pain seemed to be on my deltoid and triceps, and even in my lower arm, so I began cupping myself in those areas that evening and went to bed. I was awakened by intense pain long before my alarm was set to go off — the very same pain I experienced when I had injured the rotator cuff in the same arm 20ish years ago. That pain when the force of gravity pulls your shoulder as you’re lying down and creates agony when you desperately want sleep… those who have injured their rotator cuffs know exactly what I’m talking about… ugh.

I couldn’t believe this was happening. Again. After what seemed a very minor tweaking. I was very worried about how it would affect my ability to work my various jobs of Cupping Therapist, Fitness Instructor, and Accounting Instructor.

glass-cups-fire-cupping-therapy-renu-madisonI could barely move my arm that day; the slightest rotation or abduction was excruciating. I did some Googling and found that common areas of referral pain for three of the four rotator cuff muscles were exactly where I was experiencing pain down my arm. Even though I had already figured out it was my rotator cuff as the pain progressed… confirmation is always nice. I knew my shoulder needed some good bodywork – massage is great, but cupping is much, much more effective as it promotes healing in ways that just aren’t possible with compression. Cupping is great for reducing inflammation and swelling, drawing up the non-circulating stagnant blood and sticky proteins found in edema, bringing them up to the surface so that healthy circulation of blood and lymph can be restored to the injured area.

I was so very pleased that the one cupping client I’d had scheduled for that day had cancelled, and there was a bonus! Jeffsilicone-cupping-therapy-renu-madison had an opening so I could get some proper cupping and massage on all those rotator cuff muscles plus some great myofascial release work. It was intense. It felt different than the regular discomfort of really deep work; it felt like there were injured tissues. But we improved range of motion during that session on my first day of pain. The next day I visited my chiropractor and found that my clavicle, humerus, and scapula were all misaligned as well, and those all got fixed right up. Having the cupping done before the chiropractic adjustment was helpful to allow the muscles and tendons to move more easily during adjustment and accept the corrected state more readily. I began to use a scarf as a sling to keep my arm both pain-free and to minimize the possibility of further misalignment. Then the magic began to happen.

cupping-marks-renu-madison

Cupping therapy – Chinese traditional medical method often leaves marks on the skin

After two to three days, I had noticeably improved range of motion. That was encouraging! By day five, I was probably 70% back to full range of motion. After one week, I was 95% there. I had one more cupping session one week after the first – it was much less painful, and resulted in much less discoloration. And that was all I needed – I was back to 100% in the next couple days.

It felt like magic – not quite as instantaneous as its usage in the 2010 version of The Karate Kid… but I was amazed! I had seen cupping therapy work this quickly on clients of mine, but I thought with the intensity of the pain, it would have taken longer. My chiropractor said recovery time is usually around six weeks for this type of injury. Six weeks! Seven to ten days is so much better than that. From just two cupping therapy sessions at Renu. 

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Sounds crazy, right?  First I thought getting the flu in the middle of summer was weird.  Then… pneumonia? Wildly outrageous.  But there I was, not moving much more than from bed to couch and back again for nearly three weeks in August.  I had hoped to take a little time off before my part-time teaching job resumed, but this was really not what I had in mind!  But the complete break from pretty much all of my activities did have its benefits, not the least of which was avoiding the newspaper and all the disconcerting things contained therein.

couples massage package with towels and hot stonesAs my cough got worse, I began to slather on the essential oils that are soothing and promote healing:  tea tree oil (sometimes sold as melaleuca, its Latin name), peppermint, and eucalyptus were the main three.  Eucalyptus was great in the bath, so soothing.  Side note:  I don’t recommend putting peppermint oil in your bath – that was by far the weirdest bath experience I have had to date!  The water is warm yet I was cold from the peppermint so I had to keep adding more hot water. In August. So odd!

And two to three times per day – I’d mix those oils up with some jojoba oil and rub it all over my chest and neck, and put a little under my nose to inhale into my lungs. 

As I started to feel better and climb out of illness, I noticed something: the age spots on my chest that I’d been bemoaning looked visibly lighter.  I had noticed earlier this year that they seemed to have taken a turn for the worse, and I was not at all happy about that.  And there was no doubt about it – my chest looked much, much better.  How had I not heard of this particular benefit of essential oils? 

Massage oil and hot stones

I began to Google.  And sure enough – there are several oils that have this wonderful benefit, and among them… tea tree oil!  I had stumbled upon this quite accidentally and was thrilled.

I found LOTS of recipes using lots of different oils, but I don’t believe you need a magic combination or proportion.  It’s always best to mix essential oils with a carrier oil like jojoba, and I discovered that fractionated coconut oil also helps with age spots.  I already had some of this for the facial rejuvenation cupping service that I do at Renu…  So now I’m using that at home as well.

Other oils great for reducing age spots include frankincense, myrrh, and rose.  Frankincense is quite expensive but wonderful on so many levels, so I already had some of that.  But the best low cost trial would be just tea tree oil mixed with your carrier oil of choice.  Therapeutic grade oils are best for any medicinal purpose such as this.

Now I use the oils twice daily – morning and night.  I’ll keep going with this and am excited to see the results over time!

Here’s a site with a great list of oils:  http://essentialoilbenefits.com/21-best-essential-oils-for-age-spots-on-face-and-hands/

 

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Is massage or other kinds of bodywork part of your regular wellness habits?

Massage bodyworkOr do you just come in for special occasions when you believe you deserve a treat? Massage is considered part of health care in other countries and has been an ancient form of healing. It’s no surprise that most chiropractors have an onsite massage therapist as part of their practices.  Massage has benefits for the physical body, the mind, and your energetic life force.

 

9 Great Benefits of Massage

1. Do you see a chiropractor? Every time you get adjusted, your muscles will want to pull your spine or pelvis back to to where it was before, since those muscles had adjusted themselves to that position. Massage helps train them to go back to how they should be in relation to the newly adjusted bones. 

2. Do you exercise? Massage therapy has many great benefits when combined with exercise. Even if you don’t consider yourself an athlete, all adults should be getting regular exercise, and massage will help to:

  • reduce muscle soreness
  • improve your range of motion
  • balance your muscle tone (to prevent it from being too highly toned)
  • improve exercise performance
  • decrease muscle stiffness after exercise
  • promote relaxation

massage therapy myofascial release3. Massage relieves pain. Most people either already have or will experience back pain at some point, and massage enables
those people to feel better and be able to function instead of remaining debilitated. Same goes for headaches and migraines.

4. Say hello to endorphins during every massage session. You know that great feeling you get after you’ve peaked in your exercise session? Get more of that natural goodness with massage. 
Endorphins are our natural pain killers and stress fighters. Who doesn’t want more natural stress fighters?

5. You will sleep better! Most of us could use a little extra rest, so why not promote healthy sleep with regular massage? Your brain will thank you. You will also feel more alert, one 1996 study found.

6. Your immune system will be boosted according to a Cedars-Sinai study from 2010. “This research indicates that massage doesn’t only feel good, it also may be good for you,” said the principal investigator of the study. ”More research is ahead of us but it appears that a single massage may deliver a measurable benefit.”

7. You’ll even look better! Massage increases blood flow and stimulates lymphatic drainage, making your largest organ (skin) look healthier and younger. Cupping therapy on the face greatly multiplies this particular benefit!  We call this Facial Rejuvenation Cupping at Renu.

8. Soothe anxiety and depression without medication. Massage reduces cortisol, that pesky stress hormone. We all know cortisol much too well, and massage directly reduces cortisol levels, multiple studies have shown. 

9. Massage soothes the mind and spirit, not just the body. During massage or bodywork sessions, you will enter a parasympathetic state (like a meditative state), allowing mindfulness to occur naturally. This helps balance you emotionally and spiritually, in addition to all the great physical benefits mentioned above.

hand massage

Massage is important for your health. It’s documented. It’s something that many people with debilitating pain have discovered has helped the regain their lives. But regular massage should not be enjoyed only by those in chronic pain; each of us will benefit by incorporating a monthly massage into our lifestyle. We really can’t afford not to!

 

Online scheduling

References:

AMTA article

Science Daily article

Huffington Post article

Prevention.com article

MassageTherapy.com article

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Olga licensed massage cupping therapistExcellent and Affordable Massage and Bodywork

 

There are lots of massage and bodywork choices in Madison.  Why choose Renu?  I’d love to tell you all of the reasons that I think each massage and bodywork therapist at Renu is excellent, but I will let other clients do the talking:

  1. A recent client wrote on Google that the Couples Massage Package is an “absolutely wonderful experience!” We regularly get lots of positive feedback from couples about this package, such a treat and hard to find at other places. Three years ago, another Google user wrote that the Couples Massage Package “was truly amazing! So relaxing, and the massage therapists were exceptional. Would definitely recommend!” Keeping clients happy year after year is what we love to do.
  2. Affordable, consistent massagebodywork “the costs and knowledge of different techniques are what keeps me coming back,” Jeff licensed massage therapistsaid another satisfied client, who prefers Renu under its current ownership and management which has been in place since 2011. Renu strives to provide excellent, affordable massage bodywork.
  3. Pain Relief – a recurring theme is how many people are shocked that there is a path to healing from all kinds of conditions and previous injuries, and that this path was unknown by the medical community:
    • “After 4 years of daily pain, including sciatica, which resulted from a leg injury — not from my back, as I was told by medical professionals — she is helping me heal.”
    • “Great place! Highly recommend the cupping therapy if you have never tried it! I had a knee injury and Heidi got me back and moving pain-free very quickly.”
    • “I first visited Renu after dealing with some upper back pain for several weeks. Heidi suggested cupping therapy, which was exactly what I needed. My pain was completely gone after ONE session! It just doesn’t get much better than that, folks.”
    • “I’ve been working with Heidi, the owner, who does incredible work and has helped me cope when my doctors Magdalena neck massagecouldn’t.”
    • “I found the massage so helpful that I am going again this weekend to help with some of the pain I have left over in my left arm. I will continue to go in the future just for other future health benefits and to relax.”
    • “I have had chronic back pain and very stiff muscles since high school (more than 10 years ago) and I have heard about the cupping therapy. It is very different, but does it make a difference!

Each member of our team has excellent therapeutic skills and is a joy to work with. We invite you to find out who’s your favorite!

Katie licensed massage therapist facial massage

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What is a salt glow treatment?spa salts

At Renu, Mediterranean sea salts are blended with jojoba oil and your essential oil of choice. It’s specially mixed just for you and your appointment; there are no additives or anything artificial. This mixture is applied by hand to your arms, legs and back, with special care on any rough areas to thoroughly cleanse the skin of its dead cells.  The therapist will rub the salt mixture on your skin to break up the top surface and remove the outer layer of skin that is ready to go. The salt scrub is removed with warm wet towels, leaving your skin feeling soft and refreshed after shedding its dead layer.

Sea salts have many health benefits and work well with the skin in ways that table salts cannot. Exfoliation with sea salts helps to remove dead skin particles, tones up the skin tissues, encourages peripheral blood circulation, and helps in skin renewal. Sea salts have an anti-inflammatory effect and also aids in detoxification, while at the same time improving blood circulation during the salt glow treatment. Sea salt works especially well at revealing your soft and smooth skin. 

mineral salts bamboo massageJust like getting a facial periodically is so good for your skin, doing a full body salt glow treatment is wonderfully healthy for your skin and your body – you’d be amazed how much dead skin accumulates over winter! Plus it feels so good and leaves you with beautifully soft and rejuvenated skin. Combine it with a massage in any of our salt glow packages, and you will feel like a new you. This is healthful indulgence – you feel like you are splurging, but you are in fact taking care of both your outside as well as your inside self.

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lotus zen spiritual healingA friend of mine and I met the other day at an EVP Coffee®. We were joking about similar circumstances we are both facing in our lives while her 18 month-old played with his food. I’ve always admired her for her sense of humor, unique insight and strength, all of which make her not only a great friend but, an excellent mom. While commenting on our frustrations, at one point she turned the conversation and asked, “So, tell me about CranioSacral. What is it exactly?”

I had just finished a 4-day course through the Upledger Institute®.  “I push your bones around and make you feel better,” I say with a smile. “Seriously, it’s using cranio-fluid within your body – the stuff that lubes your spine, for instance – to help release places where your joints or bones are ‘stuck.’” I emphasis it is a simple, gentle movement that is almost imperceptible.

Osteopathic Physician, John E. Upledger, pioneered CranioSacral therapy (cranial osteopathy, cranial therapy). Upledger served as Professor of Biomechanics at Michigan State University where he tested and researched what the cranio-fluid does within the body. Through his evaluation he developed this gentle-touch therapy, which releases tension and relieves pain through the process. “The pressure,” I add, “is about ‘this much.’” To demonstrate I lightly touch the top of her hand with the “weight of a nickel.” Clients go through a range of sensations from not feeling anything (which usually means they are not in tune with their body yet) to actually feeling the bones move as they release.   

“What does it help with?,” she prompts. Here is where my memory freezes and I trip over trying to remember all the incredible things it helps with. “Memory. It could help with my memory if I got a treatment…” We start laughing. “Oh!” I say. “Now I remember: It can help with a range of symptoms from chronic neck pain, brain or spinal cord injuries, ADD, Learning Disorders…” and several other physical or mental issues. Almost anyone can be treated from babies to the elderly, minus those with contraindicated symptoms. 

I describe the student in our class who had a shoulder injury from, which she was not able to lift her arm up above shouldersacral chakra height. The teacher, Michael Morgan, CST-D, asked her to come to the front of the class to demonstrate. She told him it had been that way for several years. Morgan worked on her for about 5-8 minutes then asked her to sit down after, which we broke for lunch. Upon returning Morgan invited the student back up to the front of the class and asked her to raise both arms. When she did she was able to raise her bad arm above her head to almost full height.

Dr. Andrew Weil, a well-known physician and author, supports the work of cranio therapy as well. “Dr. Weil… recommend[s] cranial osteopathy therapy for many conditions including colic in babies, earaches and hyperactivity in children, for infants who are not sucking well during breast feeding, … [and] migraine headaches, disturbed sleep cycles, asthma, neck pain, sinus infections, TMJ syndrome, Ménière’s disease and ear problems in adults.”2 

CranioSacral Therapy, though around since the late 70’s to early 80’s, is just now beginning to come into mainstream society. Medical Doctors, Pediatricians, Physical Therapists and Chiropractors are a just a few of those learning this valuable healing modality. If you haven’t tried it, take the advice of another friend who said, “What have I got to lose but some aches and pains?” ‘Zactly.

Kathy Reiki Master crystal bowl therapy SedonaKathy Bryant contracts with Renu Massage, Energy and Body Work. She helps clients develop the best healing “prescription” through the use of CranioSacral Therapy, Reiki, Acupressure and Crystal Therapy. For more information go to http://www.renumadison.com or call (608) 438-5342 .

References.

  1. Upledger Institute International: CST FAQ’s.     http://www.upledger.com/therapies/faq.php
  2. WEIL™, Wellness Therapies:Cranial Osteopathy http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03223/Cranial-Osteopathy-Craniosacral-Therapy.html 
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Smile Your Way to a Healthier Heartheart chakra reiki energy healing

In the center of our own body, there is a small shrine in the form of a lotus flower

And within it can be found a small space.

The heavens and the earth are there: the sun, the moon, and the stars, fire and lightning and winds    the whole universe dwells within our heart.

~ Adapted from the Upanishads, M. Shimoff

What does it take to have a healthy heart? Exercise? Friends? A loving partner?
Loving our self.
A healthy anything starts with a desire to take care of our self and, most importantly, our heart. For eons people all over the world have known that the heart is the seat of our emotions. We recognize this when we suffer “heartbreak.”
Healing from such pain can take days, months or ever years. How do we do it? Marcia Shimoff, author of Happy For No Reason, writes, “Happy people let love lead in their lives.” Just as much as we feel the pain of heartache, we can feel the joy of happiness in its place. I know, I suffered from a heartbreak for years until I learned her secret.

chakras meditation reiki balance“All of our emotions can be divided into two basic categories: Love and Fear,”(2). When we love with an open heart, we are literally, opening up the energy field for love to flow out and to come into our hearts. When we reside in fear our hearts “contract” and close off to any heart-healthy emotion: gratitiude, forgiveness, lovingkindness, etc.

Of course we know this but, do we know this? When we are angry or sad we give in to the emotion – which is healthy initially (as long as we don’t harm ourselves or another). It’s when we stay stuck that it becomes unhealthy and can be debilitating. One way to get out of this is to “force” your self to think about the positive. Our brains are not “cemented” to a certain way of thinking. We train our brains to think certain things by ignoring the subtle signs we are headed down that path. But, we can retrain them to go down the path of uplifting and loving thoughts as well.

Daniel G. Amen, of Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, offers similar advice, “Focus on what you love about your life and those around you, and your heart will be healthier and happier.” It will also help you live longer.

I can tell you from experience this sometimes seems impossible but, just try these few steps listed below the next time you find yourself “stuck in a rut” over something and see if it helps – even a tiny bit. After all, you didn’t get in that habit overnight. Doesn’t it make sense to try to change it back to “Happy” one thought at a time?

  1. Laughter – Laughter can influence our whole bodies, uplift our moods, reduce levels of stress hormones (i.e., cortisol, dopamine and epinephrine) and increase the love-your-body hormones, endorphins.
  2. Gratitude – You don’t need more of anything in your life to be happy – just simply be grateful for what you do have. Look around you. Think of ten things right now that you can be grateful for: a wonderful spouse/significant other, kids who laugh (they’re a natural at this!) for silly reasons, cool socks with funky designs – make a list! 

Having a hard time with that? Commit yourself to this then: Every time you think a negative thought, force yourself to come up with 5 positive things about that one negative situation. However, remotely connected push through the negative to think positive thoughts. It may truly be a struggle sometimes but, you CAN do it!

  1. Meditation and Yoga – Both are proven stress reducers, which leads to opening our hearts.
  2. Warm hands – Yes, I said, warm your hands. Not just blowing your breath on your hands but, using biofeedback techniques to increase the blood flow from your brain to your hands will help your body relax (think of placing your hands in warm mittens or, “seeing” the blood flow from your brain to your hands, etc.). Or, grab the hand of your partner. A study done at the University of Colorado at Boulder, “…found that holding warm things may actually make people view others more favorably and may also make people more generous.” (1)
  3. Get some body work done: soothe your heart with some Reiki energy, an acupressure treatment, an overall body massage – anything to help relax you and aid in releasing the stress and emotions you’ve been carrying around.

There are lots more ways to take care of our hearts and lead happier lives. Start with these simple steps and you’re on your way to more “healthy and happy” overall.

  1. Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, Amen, Daniel G. 2010, Harmony Books, New York, NY.
  2. Happy For No Reason, Shimoff, Marci 2008 Free Press, New York, NY. 

Kathy reiki master teacher

Kathy Bryant contracts with Renu Massage, Energy & Bodywork, is a Reiki Master Teacher, a Certified Crystal Therapist, trained in acupressure and is currently working towards certification in Cranio Sacral Therapy. She is a native Madisonian and enjoys helping people achieve overall body wellness.
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Several months ago, I shared with readers how Reiki is helping my chronic pain – it was the beginning of my journey with chakra stones energy servicesthat particular method of emotional and spiritual healing.  I recapped my history with lingering chronic pain and shared how Reiki was helping to release another layer, and how wonderful it felt!  I promised an update when I felt my journey was complete, and though I can’t know with certainty if completeness has occurred, I do feel enough changes have occurred to provide that update.

What exactly is Reiki?  I find a whole lot of people have no idea.  It is spiritual; it works with the energetic forces in our bodies similar to acupressure and acupuncture, and it helps release and resolve areas that get “stuck” with various baggage we’ve been carrying around from old injuries, traumas, and stressors.  Stuckness creates an environment for pain to thrive, and it literally keeps us from moving forward when it is time to let go.  A gifted Reiki practitioner can assist us in letting go on levels we are not aware of, like a therapy for your subconscious and spiritual self.  A am so thankful for the very gifted therapist at my place of business who has done wonderful work with me!

I do have to be honest – I slacked a bit on consistency with Reiki after giving it a solid go in the Spring.  But over those slacking months, my emotions were also in a stuck place and weren’t yet ready to move.  That’s the thing with Reiki – as with most any type of therapy, you have to be ready for it and be willing to partner with your therapist to see results.  I began regular Reiki treatments in March for my chronic pain, then in April a bunch of things got shaken up in my world, and it took several months for my attitude to be okay with the changes.  Coincidence?  I’m thinking not.  It seems when we open ourselves up to a treatment to help us change, move on, or move through any type of stuck pattern, we should not be surprised when our world gets shaken up a bit.  I took a break from Reiki while my attitude decided it wanted to stay in an unhappy place for awhile. 

As I started to accept and embrace the changes, I saw that these changes really were good for me, and it seemed to be confirmation that the Universe was giving me wonderful gifts despite my begrudging attitude at my inconvenience and things not happening the way I had planned or envisioned.  Then I noticed something else… I had not felt my back pain in quite some time!  It had been getting pretty bad there for awhile, and though the Reiki did provide some relief, it wasn’t going away entirely.  Somewhere in that span of time when I decided to catch the wave of change and ride it instead of fighting it, I also let go of my pain. 

reiki energy bodywork sessionWhen I went back to Reiki, I felt some amazing sensations during the session, which seemed to be getting deeper into areas I have felt were holding onto past pain.  I was told my energy is much smoother than it had been several months prior.  It was such a beautiful experience!  And as before, it seemed to stir things up again for awhile as things shift within me (this time internal, not with my external surroundings as had happened before).  And now I feel more in tune with what I’m feeling and experiencing, like I can tell we’re getting to some really good things. 

I know I’m not complete and done with Reiki, but as I was feeling some deeply held sadness over the holidays (that I still marvel can hide out within me for so long), it actually felt like I was reaching the bottom of it.  I was letting it out, letting it go, and replacing it with wonderful love and security now that I now feel so strongly. 

Reference:  http://www.renumadison.com/how-reiki-is-helping-my-chronic-pain/

massage therapist certified cupping therapistHeidi Aschenbrenner, LMBT, CCT, BCTMB, and Member AOBTA, is the owner of Renu Massage, Energy & Bodywork specializing in Eastern bodywork therapies and the healing arts. Heidi and her team of bodywork therapists, a Reiki master, and a Certified Personal Trainer, all strive to achieve balance in each session through the use of energy work incorporated into their bodywork therapies and have all been trained in Eastern healing techniques and cupping therapy.  Renu also offers an infrared sauna from Sunlighten Saunas for deeper healing and detoxification after your session. For more information or to contact Heidi, please visit renumadison.com.

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