Emotional Freedom Technique

By Lynn Buske: dedicated mother, sustainability enthusiast, avid writer, and body/mind/spirit wellness educator through BaredFeet – a longterm project, now turning non-profit, through which she offers yoga classes, dance and movement education, arts as wellness, and information on pure eating, mental health, and spiritual wholeness.

You slip and fall on the ice . . . and break your arm. Walking on the ice is never the same again. Each winter you approach the outdoors with apprehension and a sincere dislike for icy weather.  You previously never noticed how much there was and how slippery it was. Perhaps even seasonal depression touches you each winter. And your arm? Well you are cautious with it, it never seemed to return to the way it was, even though x-rays showed that it healed, and that leaves you frustrated and in pain. This is an example of how one traumatic negative experience impacts your emotions and belief system, which impacts your future everyday life in unpleasant ways.

Enter Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).  Combining tapping on acupressure points, meditation, and cognitive awareness, EFT is an approach to healing that gently considers the physical, emotional, mental,  and spiritual impacts of negative experiences. The basis of it:

  • Positive healthy energy in the body flows freely. Every cell of our body functions optimally when blood, oxygen, and neurons move fluidly.
  • Negative emotions are emotions we try to protect ourselves from: pain, anger, grief, resentment, etc. “The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system,” explains founder Gary Craig. When traumatic things happen, from an argument to a loss of a child, the flow of our body’s energy is disrupted. Those disruptions remain—the imbalance and lack of flow causing the symptoms we have.  At this point new, negative beliefs have been formed that impact our view of the world.
  • EFT gently brings your conscious awareness to the blockage—tapping proper flow into the negative memories and symptoms. When all positivity has been restored, the issue dissolves.

This is similar to meditation. The practice of meditation tells us that being present, aware, and unreactive to a negative experience or memory can release it. However, EFT has been found to be more potent and successful than meditation, and the reason for this lies in how it connects the energy pathways of our body to our brain’s conscious thought.  All energy flow is information: “I lift my arm,” “I see ice,” “I am falling,” and “Ouch.” In a traumatic event our information system is overloaded with all of our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual responses—past and present. We cannot process the entire event, nor do we want to. EFT brings awareness to those channels where we have the time, security, and distance to process them. That distance and gentleness makes it more accessible and easier for the non-Buddhist monk to open up to.

EFT was developed by Gary Craig in response to more complicated meridian tapping research.  He first started working with clients on it in 1995. The majority of his first successes came from working with war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2000, he released a manual for anyone to access, learn, and use. This release has generated endless success in many different applications.

People have used it on: broken limbs, cancer, Alzheimer’s, depression, autoimmune disease, anxiety, headaches, anger, grief, belief patterns, as well as “surrogate” tapping on children, animals, loved ones, and even cars that won’t start.

It is 100 percent safe. Applying EFT to extremely painful, complicated diseases and memories should be done with an experienced practitioner (to prevent “re-living” the experience, to provide support, and to assist in unraveling all the layers), but when done on simple daily negative experiences, it can be preventative and bring about a general state of positivity and flow.

Stay tuned for an upcoming article teaching you how to use EFT for yourself and your family, and where you can find local practitioners.

For more information, email baredfeet@gmail.com, call 715-514-4648, or visit www.baredfeet.wordpress.com.

The Art and Necessity of Doing Nothing

By Anna Martinson 

The busy-ness of the holidays is over. It’s time to settle into a winter routine and plan for what you’d like to accomplish this season. Whatever your to-do list is for the coming year, here is another task to add to your list: do nothing.

Doing nothing will promote a quieting of the body and mind, stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, promote better digestion, and improve over-all mood. Doing nothing gives the body a chance to replenish glucose and oxygen levels. Doing nothing can help you to feel more rested, clear-headed, and calm. All of this is key to healing the body, mind, and spirit. Doing nothing calms the soul and helps to create peace, balancing us in an otherwise, overly busy, over-stimulated world.

Think of a time when you have hit a dead-end while working on a project or felt stumped while seeking a solution to a problem. Do you remember how leaving the task and coming back to it after a mental break produced new and fresh ideas, or even a solution to your problem? Like-wise, intentional quiet time improves concentration, boosts problem-solving capability, and enhances creativity.

Humans are the only creatures in nature that resist the pattern of ebb and flow. What if instead of Facebook, texting, emailing, TV viewing, and gaming you did nothing? What if, instead of saving up vacation time to finally rest and enjoy life, you spread those moments throughout each day of the year? What if you penciled yourself into your busy calendar by putting yourself first with a plan to do nothing? What if…

Doing nothing can be challenging at first! It can be difficult to get out of your head and into your body. Our minds will conjure up numerous reasons why doing nothing:

• I don’t have enough time!
• I have too much to do!
• Sitting still is just being lazy.

Trust your body. The messages of your body will guide you if you listen. Instead of pushing through exhaustion, for example, check in with your body to know what it needs. Also, self pressure to DO and take care of others before yourself can lead to chronic pain. Eventually your body says STOP! There is a difference between truly quieting the mind by doing nothing and being involved in a leisure-time activity (watching TV, taking a trip, dinner out with friends). Leisure activities engage your brain; that is, your brain is still busy. Sitting in front of the TV or computer for an hour feels very different than an hour sitting in the park.

The following are some simple strategies to help you learn how to do nothing:

• Turn off or separate yourself form all electronic devices. Yes, ALL of them! Disconnect to replenish your soul.
• Ground. Bring your attention inside your body. Notice any body sensations. Feel the chair supporting you with your feet flat on the floor.
• Breathe. Gently pay attention to your breathing, just noticing. There is nothing you have to do. Your body breathes itself. Paying attention to your breathing naturally slows your heart rate and brings you into the present moment.
• Be Still. Stare out the window or sit in nature. You might want to pay attention to something beautiful in your space or meditate, or listen to the sounds around you, or shut your eyes and just BE.
• Let your body relax and your feelings unfold. Just a few minutes of doing nothing is enough. What matters is that you’re still.

Give yourself permission to care for yourself. Take in the sweetness of doing nothing. You’ll be glad you did!

Happy New Year! Anna Martinson, B.S., LMT, is a Certified Life Coach, Mind-Body Coach, (715-834-3959) and Licensed Massage Therapist (715-456-2544).

A Post-Christmas Plan to Get Organized

By Ellen Anderson
Another holiday season is wrapping up, and this is the time our thoughts turn to the New Year. While probably the most popular New Year’s resolution is to exercise more and lose weight, another popular resolution is to get organized. As someone who is in the business of helping people get organized, that of course is my favorite New Year’s resolution, and I encourage everyone to get on board.

It’s very easy to decide to have the resolution of getting organized, but what does that really mean, and how on earth does one go about it? Weight loss experts say you shouldn’t have your stated goal to be to “lose weight.” It’s not specific enough, thus making it easy to not get engaged in the specifics of the process. The same applies to “getting organized.” One needs to zero in and make some specific goals and plans. One area of focus that fits well at this time of the year is purging and organizing your holiday decorations.

Following is my handy “Get Your Holiday Decorations under Control Guide.”

1. Designate some time slots when you are going to take down your holiday decorations: give yourself at least two 2 to 3 hour time slots. Depending on how many decorations you have, you may end up needing more time or you might get done sooner. But start by putting two 2 to 3 hour time slots on your calendar. If you typically have other family members help you take things down, let them know your plans.

2. Be well rested and fed, and put yourself on “Do Not Disturb” with regard to your devices. This is important because once you start, you will get done so much faster if you are not starting and stopping to take care of texts, phone calls, and other interruptions.

3. Establish a staging area where you place all your decor that you put out this year AND any decor you didn’t put out and is still in storage. Save taking down the Christmas tree for a later step. Don’t forget to include holiday table linens, candles, and dishes.

4. Once you’ve got everything out in front of you, now comes the hard part, but the most important part of this process: pick up each object and assess if you still want to keep it in your holiday collection. Do you still love the piece? Did you ever love the piece?Was it a gift or a hand-me-down that just doesn’t spark a thrill or joy when you hold it and look at it? Is it getting worn out?Do you put out things that were hand-made by a loved one and you feel obligated to put them on display every year? Do you love the object, but it’s a part of a village theme or collection that you’re burned out on putting together every year? I hope you see my point with all these sometimes uncomfortable questions.

There is NOTHING WRONG with parting with decorations that for whatever reason just don’t do it for you anymore. Remember, surround yourself with things you love and that bring you joy. If those two things aren’t met, get rid of it. Even the gifts, even the family heirlooms, even the stuff your twenty-six-year-old son made when he was in preschool, even the stuff that is “worth money” or deemed valuable.

5. Set aside the items you are getting rid of for further sorting later. Now you are ready to assess the storage containers you already have and determine if you need to replace old boxes, etc. Wrap everything up and pack in boxes or bins and label them. A masking tape label done with a Sharpie is just fine.

6. Now repeat the above steps with your Christmas tree (if artificial), ornaments, garlands, and lights.

7. Now repeat the above steps with your outdoor decorations and lights. Get rid of the stuff you never put up anymore or that just doesn’t look that great to you anymore.

8. Time to address your pile of stuff you are parting with. Round up some boxes and trash bags. If you want to make this as simple and painless as possible, I recommend sorting the items into only two categories: 1, Stuff to be donated to a thrift store like Goodwill, and 2, Trash. Other possibilities are designating a box of things you would like to try to sell or for a future garage sale, or in the case of family heirlooms, put those items in a box to see if other relatives would like any of the items.

The cool thing about this guide is that you can apply this same process for other household items, such as your clothing, kids’ toys, books, etc. Trust me, you will love the results of your efforts. Next year when you get out your holiday decorations, you will put out the stuff you truly love, and/or perhaps enjoy shopping for some new holiday decorations.

Happy New Year!

Ellen Anderson helps people declutter and get organized through her business Moving Forward Organizing, serving the Chippewa Valley and Wausau areas. Visit MFOrganizing.com

Transform Stress and Fatigue Naturally

By Beth Martin

Summer Support

While we all like to slow down and spend our summers relaxing, the reality is the majority of our lives stay just as busy during the warm months; they may even ramp up with increased travel, entertaining, and fun plans that can lead to overscheduling and stress.

Summer is an important time to support our bodies and build resilience for the cold months ahead. Many of us are accustomed to ignoring our body’s cries for nutritional support, rest and re-laxation by downing another cup of coffee (or soda!), grabbing a quick muffin, or living on energy bars. Our culture is over caffeinated, over sugared and undernourished.  Sugar and caffeine offer a quick lift, but the crash is never far behind.

Adaptogens to the Rescue

Fortunately, nature has provided us with effective resources to support our stressed bodies.  Meet the adaptogenic herbs. An adaptogenic herb is one that acts to normalize and regulate the systems of the body. By optimizing adrenal gland function (home of the fight or flight response) they support the body so it can adapt to stress in a healthy way.  There are a number of adaptogenic herbs for adrenal support; Holy Basil, Eleuthero, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola and Asian Ginseng, to name a few.

Chris Hayden, MMFC’s resident herbalist and Wellness Buyer says “adaptogens are a great part of returning your body to a healthy stress response, restoring your energy levels without put-ting additional stimulants into your system.  They help get you out of the “wired but tired” cycle by basically keeping your adrenals in idle, so your body isn’t as shocked by stressors.”

Our knowledgeable staff at Menomonie Market are on hand to help you find what you need, answer your questions.  We welcome every-one, regardless of where you are on your path to wellness.

Holistic Treatment for PTSD

By Abbie Burgess

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? An estimated 8 percent of Americans have the condition —that’s the size of the population of Texas! According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, the demand for treatment continues to grow. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect survivors not only of combat experience, but also other traumatic events such as natural disasters or assault. It has been recognized as a psychobiological mental disorder since 1980, though symptoms often go untreated or undetected. Some sufferers are now finding help through complementary medicine. Holistic practitioners experienced in working with PTSD abound in Eau Claire—and with treatments including massage, therapy animals, and yoga, their methods might pleasantly surprise you.

Treating PTSD with Bodywork Therapy Chris Hayden of Driftless Bodywork in Eau Claire and Menomonie treats patients with therapeutic massage, acupressure, Rolfing Structural Integration, AMMA Therapy, and Tai Chi. “Body therapists have long been aware that emotions play out in the body as well as the mind,” Hayden explains. “This is never more obvious than in the case of trauma, which can create such overwhelm that one’s body becomes locked into a pattern of tension and guarding…it is as if part of the person was frozen in time at the moment of trauma, unable to process the experience and move on.”  By engaging the body’s tissues in a mindful way, Hayden says bodywork can help these patterns to release, allowing the body and mind to be whole in the present moment.

Equine Assisted Therapy They may be too big to fit in a lap, but horses make ideal therapy animals. According to Trinity Equestrian Center, horses have an innate ability to read a person’s body language. The Eau Claire organization offers free veteran horse therapy to qualified military individuals and their families, no prior riding experience required. The program helps veterans struggling with PTSD identify their triggers and create tools to manage reactions, behavior, and choices. “Through experiential work with horses, we help veterans rediscover their identity and re-establish their purpose,” says Trinity Equestrian Center Therapist Sylvia Piekarz. “It is a meaningful experience that will change their heart and therefore, change their life. Working with our horses creates a connection of their hearts that is indescribable and so very effective.”

Healing Emotional Trauma with Yoga Yoga is becoming increasingly recognized as an effective  treatment for reducing symptoms of PTSD. It can also help with prevention—a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy found that sensory-enhanced hatha yoga shows potential to effectively address symptoms of combat stress before they develop into full-blown PTSD. Sandra Helpsmeet, a registered yoga instructor and psychotherapist at Vantage Point Clinic, teaches Yoga for Anxiety and PTSD class and Yoga for Pain and Depression. Both classes are offered in partnership with her clinic, specialized to address the needs of patients within an environment where they can be comfortable going at their own pace. Helpsmeet says yoga is a beneficial auxiliary treatment to therapy and believes the two complement each other well. “People think yoga is yoga. They don’t realize the broad spectrum of applications it has.” Its emphasis on breathing makes it ideally suited for treating trauma conditions. “Yoga is inherently calming and grounding,” she explains. Helpsmeet says any yoga class could be potentially beneficial, especially if the instructor has a high level of certification, but an instructor with experience working with veterans is ideal. This is just a sampling of what holistic practitioners can offer to help patients cope with PTSD. Whether you or someone you love is interested in holistic therapies, the important thing is there are options available. The best way to find out if a method is effective for an individual is to give it a try.