Spring Is a Good Time for Mindfulness

by Ann Brand

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is present-moment awareness. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the researcher responsible for bringing mindfulness practice into Western medicine, defines mindfulness as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Mindfulness practice is now part of many disciplines including health care, education, mental health, and business.

Mindfulness practice is a mental training. Using the power of our brain’s plasticity, we can shape our brains in positive ways. The more frequently we practice, the stronger the attention muscles in our brain become. The more we practice paying attention in this particular way, both through formal practice and mindfulness in everyday life, the better able we are to be present.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Mindfulness practice has many benefits. Because of advances in neuroscience, scientists are able to see how mindfulness practices work to change our brain and lead to benefits in physical health, stress reduction, attention, learning and memory, positive emotions, empathy, emotion regulation, and interpersonal relationships. Mindfulness practice can help us manage our stress and bring calm, clarity, and peace into our daily lives.

Why is the changing of seasons a good time to focus on mindfulness?
Any time of year is a wonderful time to cultivate our capacity to be mindful. That said, spring offers us the waking up of nature from the quiet sleep of winter. Nature is always in the present moment, and we can use the warm air on our skin, the singing of the birds, and the budding of the trees as anchors to the present moment. This supports us in the practice of being present and showing up to our life as it unfolds instead of the story in our head we are telling about our life.

Nature can be a helpful support to our mindfulness practice in the spring. Here are five things we can use to help us rest in the present moment:

  1. Feel the warm spring sun on your skin.
  2. Savor the taste of spring harvest from the garden.
  3. Breathe in the smells of spring—snow melting, damp earth, spring flowers.
  4. Listen to the sounds of spring-migrating birds, water flowing, kids playing outside.
  5. Open up our awareness as we walk outside, noticing when we get caught up in our thoughts and bringing our attention back to the sensations in our body as we walk.

Mindfulness practice helps us see that no matter how many times we are distracted from the present moment, we can begin again, just like nature starts over each spring in Wisconsin.

 

Ann Brand, PhD, is a mindfulness meditation teacher and lecturer at UW–Stout in the School of Education. She teaches mindfulness classes in Eau Claire at The Center and can be reached at annbrand365@gmail.com.

Massage for Special Needs: Communication Is Key

By Katie Meyer, LMT, CFT, Sans Souci Massage

Techniques the massage therapist might use with neurological impairments, geriatric and palliative care, and oncology massage include the following:

► Manual lymph drainage (MLD) indirectly stimulates circulation in the body, stimulates immune system, and stimulates parasympathetic system (relaxation, reducing pain, and muscles spasms). The lymphatic system basically acts as a waste drainage system with nodes that are filters for the body. The lymphatic system is not self-propelled; it relies on muscular contraction in order to keep it flowing.When muscles are inactive, this creates stagnation and therefore weakens the immune system. When the lymphatic system is not working correctly edema (swelling) can occur.

► Non-circulatory massage is to provide a massage that does not promote circulation of blood or lymph flow. This will be the choice if the individual is on strong medications (chemotherapy, cancer treatments, steroids), if there is a disruption in their fluid balance due to medication, or when an organ such as the spleen, liver, kidney, or heart are compromised. This can be a full-body massage with holding, light pressure massage (slight movement of the skin and superficial adipose tissue), limited compressions, passive movement of joints may be done gently, and hand/foot massage.

► Low-impact massage is usually a shorter session (thirty minutes maximum) with the client in a side-lying and/or supine (face up) position. Use bolsters helps make the client comfortable.  Light to gentle pressure is used for the strokes. Full hand contact is maintained with slow even rhythms.

► Oncology massage is safe if performed by a skilled therapist. Benefits include: decreased anxiety before surgery or chemotherapy treatment, and help with relaxation, which in turn promotes better sleep, decrease in pain, etc. Your therapist will develop a care plan that is designed specifically for you after learning what type of cancer you have or have had, the treatment you have received, and the state of health you are in that day. Things the therapist will take into consideration are: the tumor site, bone metastasis, risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis), risk of lymphedema, if vital organs are involved, if the individual has any restrictions on activity, and how the individual feels typically and on the day of the session. Therapists trained in oncology massage will use precautions so they do no harm.  I recently attended a thirty-two-hour continuing education course on oncology massage. I was so surprised how therapeutic this massage was. I typically like deep tissue massage, and I was astonished at my enjoyment and the deep connection that was made between therapist and client during this training. I am grateful for learning these new techniques and look forward to helping special needs clients soon.

► Neurological Impairments such as spinal cord injuries require the client to communicate to the therapist about their impairment and if they have any complications due to the paralysis. Clients who are bedridden or wheelchair bound can still benefit from massage. Because of the loss of sensation, a therapist has to be very careful about using the right techniques with these individuals.

► Cerebral palsy (CP) describes an injury to the brain that occurred prenatally or in early infancy. Individuals with CP benefit most from indirectly affecting the muscle through low-impact massage, non-circulatory massage, gentle rocking, or energy or craniosacral work.  Massage will help this individual with better sleep, unbinding of postural distortions, ease with breathing, and increase of relaxation. Communication is key in finding the correct technique that will work with each case.  It is good to talk with the caregiver and the individual client to find out what the client is specifically looking for.

► Geriatric and palliative care clients might have different medical devices that the therapist must work around (feeding tubes, ventilators, tracheostomies, catheter bags, colostomy bags, etc.) Benefits include: increased circulation,stimulation of their parasympathetic system (rest and digest), decreased joint stiffness, decreased pain, decreased anxiety and depression, and more restful sleep. The techniques used can be performed in the side-lying or in the supine position to make it easier for them. The massage can be provided on a massage table or hospital bed, or they can sit in a recliner and still enjoy a full massage without the stress of trying to get on and off the table. I have worked on clients in homes, assisted living facilities, memory care facilities, and hospitals.

There are many reasons a therapist must change the normal massage routine for individuals. Everyone has special circumstances that require adjustments; so open communication between the client and the therapist is a must. However, each individual is different, and the stage of the condition they are in will dramatically change the care they receive at that particular time.

Katie is a co-owner of Sans Souci Massage. Visit Sans Souci Massage to set up an appointment. If you are interested in an out-call, then you will need to call 715-830-9890 to discuss this with Katie or email sanssoucimassage@yahoo.com the details of the appointment you are searching for.

Prenatal Yoga: Filling Your Toolbox with Mind-Body Connection

By Amy Erickson, Latitude 44 Yoga Studio 4

Before you start: It is always advised to check with your care provider before participating in physical activity during pregnancy. Your care provider is most informed on your and your baby’s current state of health and is able to make the educated decision on what is best for you at this time. Generally speaking, though, prenatal yoga is encouraged by care givers during pregnancy due to its immense benefits. Prenatal yoga is gentle in nature and easy to welcome into your transitioning body.

Looking for an instructor: Prenatal yoga is a specialty and requires additional training to not only keep momma and baby safe, but to also structure an effective class. A 200-hour yoga teacher training (for general yoga practice) is required plus 90 additional hours for the prenatal yoga specialty. I have completed extensive training.

How is prenatal yoga different from regular yoga? There are many variations. The movements are tailored to meet the needs of the changing body and prepare momma for the labor and delivery process. There are also movements that need to be avoided (select forms of twisting for example) to keep momma and baby safe. An experienced practitioner/yogi is generally okay taking a regular yoga class after discussing modifications with a trained professional in regard to poses and sensations to avoid. Mom would need to be extra mindful of her movements if taking a regular class. If opting for regular yoga classes, you still get the great benefits of yoga but are excluding the great benefits that are specific to prenatal yoga.

The poses themselves can change slightly or more dramatically over the course of the pregnancy depending on the woman and the pregnancy. Various poses are more beneficial in specific trimesters, and various poses are to be avoided.

What are the benefits? In class, we focus intently on breathing, including its effect on feelings of stress and tension, ways to use breath to calm the mind and body in intense situations (labor!), bringing awareness and a sense of connection to the pelvic floor, strengthening and preparing parts of the body that are most affected by the beautiful changes caused by pregnancy, and learning ways to be mindful of your needs. We assist in filling your toolbox with the mind-body connection and strength that is helpful both on and off your mat, during your pregnancy, labor, and post-delivery.

Our classes range in size and ebb and flow as our mommas welcome their little ones. We then “meet them on the other side,” as we like to say, as we also offer postnatal yoga! Babies are welcome to postnatal yoga, so it’s nice to see the ladies and babies come full circle. Partners are welcome to participate in both prenatal and postnatal yoga!

Amy Erickson is certified through the Yandara Yoga Institute in Baja California Sur, Mexico (RYT200, in process of RYT500), 8 Limbs Yoga Centers in Seattle, Washington (Prenatal Yoga – RPYT), and Barre Bliss in Minneapolis.

The Power of Water

By Jackie Shoebridge

If someone would have asked me years ago what I wanted to do as a career, colon hydrotherapy would not have crossed my mind. In fact as a nurse for twenty years, I had never heard of colon hydrotherapy. When I became sick with Lyme disease and was undergoing treatment for it, I was told I needed to have a colonic to clean out the toxins that my body had to filter from the die-off Lyme. Since Lyme had ravaged my body, I was willing to try anything to improve my health. After a series of colonics, I realized that I had spent most of my adult life constipated and never realized it. I realized what it felt like to feel empty, without bloating and straining to have a bowel movement. Colon hydrotherapy changed my life, and it was then that I decided this is what I wanted to do.

So What Exactly Is Colon Hydrotherapy?
Colon hydrotherapy, or colonics, is a safe, effective method of removing waste from the large intestine. It consists of a controlled flow of filtered, temperature controlled water gently circulating throughout the large intestine, coaxing your body to release stool that may build up over time. The colon is an important organ that not only stores our waste, but it also produces vitamins B and K, which are nutrients necessary for survival. The colon also helps keep the body hydrated by absorbing water from bodily waste and sending it back into the bloodstream. A healthy colon will help the immune system function properly and keep us healthy. But when waste sits in the colon for too long, it will start to ferment. This leads to intestinal problems like bloating, gas, irritable bowel, and leaky gut syndrome. Colon hydrotherapy helps prevent these conditions by gently cleansing the large intestine, while simultaneously exercising the muscles of the colon, helping to prevent constipation.

What Are the Signs of an Inefficient Colon?
People may experience symptoms such as coated tongue, 
bad breath, acne, abnormal body odor, dark circles under the eyes, cold hands and feet, brittle hair and nails, fatigue, allergies, indigestion, chronic headaches, irritability, nervousness, nausea, depression, asthma, backaches, and frequent urination. Besides the fact that I felt empty for the first time after my colonic, I noticed my skin cleared up almost overnight. It was amazing! The heartburn I had suffered also disappeared after a series of colonics.

What Happens During a Colon Hydrotherapy Session?
During a session, the colon is filled and emptied several times throughout the session by the hydrotherapist, while the client relaxes on the treatment table. The water then softens the stool and stimulates the colon’s natural peristaltic action to release the stool. Water and waste then exit through the waste tube, and the client can observe what is eliminated through a clear viewing tube, if so desired. Colon hydrotherapy is also used as an alternative to the harsh stimulants given for colonoscopy preparation. Colon hydrotherapy done the day before and day of your procedure has been shown to be just as effective as the laxatives and without all the side effects laxatives can have. Colon hydrotherapy is not a cure for disease, but by cleansing the colon without harmful medications, it may increase a healthy digestive tract, which in turn may support a healthy immune system, resulting in improved health and vitality. Please visit Gentle Waters website to view a colonic in progress. Jackie Shoebridge is a registered nurse, colon hydrotherapist, and reflexologist who has a passion for seeing people come to health through natural means.

To learn more about colon hydrotherapy visit www.gentlewaters.info. To schedule an appointment or talk with Jackie she can be reached at 715-933-1482.

Ease Holiday Stress with Essential Oils

Is the issue lack of information, lack of motivation, or just not sure where to start? We know education is power. Not just in flexing yourbrain but also in the knowledge of the basics to care for yourself and your family. How do we deal with the emotions of the holidays? Too many health issues that were reserved for the “older” citizens are now trickling down to our children and grandchildren. Arthritis, diabetes, obesity, increases in allergies to everyday foods like peanut butter, nuts, breads, and so much more. What were once considered rare diseases are now becoming common place like autism, ADD/ADHD, or even juvenile auto-immune diseases. There is so much information available, but you have a difficulttime in deciphering what is true and what is in error, what is pertinent and what is hype. Does anyone have any reasonable answers? All you would like is to feel better and take care of your family. Not too much to ask…right? What if I told you that there are answers, and you can take back your control and responsibility for you and your family’s health in a logical, science-based manner without breaking the bank and without needing  a doctorate?

Please join us on Tuesday evenings at Unity Christ Center for FREE educational classes. Please  contact me if you would like further information. Drlynnthompson1@gmail.com