Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lighter is better, in spring

In a minute I'm going to say I think it's ok to diet in spring, but before I do, I'm compelled to say I'm against most diets. Even when people say they're changing the way they eat for health reasons, there is more often than not an underlying hope that they will drop a few pounds at least. This phenomena takes place no matter the size of the dieter. We are obsessed with diminishing ourselves. This obsession is way out of balance. Also, if diets really worked the way we're promised, wouldn't everyone be their ideal size?

Of course there are people who are too big for their own good - lots of them. I see them all the time, struggling to walk a block, red faced and panting. And I see people who are grotesquely huge, who have given up even trying to walk - also people who are grotesquely skinny. There are extremes, of course. Most of the urban people I see every day are normal in size whether they're bigger or smaller than the narrow cultural norm.

The idea that all humans should be the same size is ridiculous. If you look at pictures of humans from around the world, it's easy to see we are diverse in terms of everything - height, hair color, skin color, proportion - and also weight. Some people are naturally skinny, some are hearty in size. We are a very diverse species in terms of structure and appearance.

I swear if we could gather the energy people invest in worrying about their weight, if we could channel that energy into generators, there would be no need for foreign oil.

OK - enough ranting. Here's the part where I say it's OK to diet in spring.

Depending on how harsh winter is where you live, chances are you've been doing a bit more sitting around than during other seasons. Chances are you've eaten rather heavy foods through the winter. Maybe you put on a couple of pounds. This is normal, appropriate winter behavior.

When spring has sprung, it's time to shift gears. Eating lighter foods, introducing cool foods like fresh fruit and salads, and eating less of everything will help your body adjust to the new season. Likewise, in spring it's time to get off the sofa and outside, to begin to move around more.

I'm not suggesting that you focus on losing weight, but rather on an approach that suits the season and furthers your wellbeing. This is not about looking good in a bikini, it's about feeling great.

As always, including throughout winter, please eat real food. In general, if what you're eating comes from a box, that is not real food. Exceptions include rice and dried beans, that sort of thing.

Eat what appeals to you, eat foods you're able to digest. If what you eat is energizing and satisfying, great! If what you eat makes you feel queasy or groggy, you should think about changing your diet. The digestive system is a big part of the immune system. Everything is better when you're able to metabolize what you eat.

Here's a post I wrote last year about diets and choosing foods that are right for you.

Fasts and hard core cleanses (in which you take a boatload of supplements and drink only specific, processed liquids) that last more than 3 days are extremely hard on your liver, kidneys and heart. They put the body in a mild state of shock which I know to be intoxicating. If you must get high at the expense of your liver, well, OK ... but remember what you're doing is no better than going on a bender for a few days.

Be gentle and kind to your body, please? It's doing the best it can.

Happy Spring. Shalom.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

By any other name?

There are still plenty of people who use the term masseuse. To me, a masseuse is either a a busty gal dressed as a French maid who shows up at a man's house to have sex, or a broad shouldered Scandinavian bruiser who is going to grind your bones to a pulp whether you want that or not.

I like the term massage therapist. That is what I do: therapeutic massage. Most of us, at least where I live, prefer to be called massage therapists.

There are many folks in my profession who work in spas or at massage places where they pay a lot of rent or are, for other reasons, required to crank through many sessions in a work day. These people race to keep up with what's expected of them, which means they're left without a lot of time before and after sessions. They have to work so fast, it's not possible to complete a thorough intake interview with clients before a session. They barely have time to change the sheets on the table, let alone tune in to the person they are about to treat, nor even a minute to ask the client, after the session, how well the work addressed what was going on. They definitely don't have time to design a session specifically for each client, hence they develop a one-hour protocol they use on everyone, no matter what.

Let me say clearly that I have nothing against that kind of bodywork. I enjoy spa massage tremendously. But it isn't therapeutic.

Sometimes a massage technician will take a minute to ask if there's somewhere in particular I'm especially stiff or stuck. I might say my neck and shoulders are tight. But then they then go ahead and do the exact same session for me they do for everyone, one in which they pay no special attention at all to my neck and shoulders. It's kind of funny. They know they're supposed to ask, but they don't make use of the information. I guess they're just curious, or trying to sound interested.

I'm not saying the work I do varies radically from person to person, but each session is tailored to what's going on with the client on the table. This not only benefits my clients, but makes the work a lot more interesting for me. What I do is personal, while what massage technicians do is more of a spa treatment for the masses.

Do I sound judgmental? I'm not. In my society we are so touch deprived, I think there's room for many different kinds of massage. The more, the merrier!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Comings and Goings

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People say prostitution is the oldest profession. I disagree. Shamanism is the oldest profession. Want to bet? Within shamanism, I would further bet that soul retrieval is the oldest healing technique. (The laying on of hands is definitely as old or older, but not specifically shamanic.)

According to my cosmology, the soul is multi-faceted. Bits of soul regularly travel away from the body, to explore, wander, learn, also in circumstances that render the body an uncomfortable home for said soul bit. Accidents, injuries, disease and other traumas can be discouraging to the soul which, according to everything I've ever read, will vamoose the body promptly in these kinds of situations. What we call shock is a perfect example of a moment of soul loss. When the danger has passed and the person's injuries have been attended to, the soul is likely to come back on its own.

Sometimes a part of the soul wanders too far afield, or gets stuck in some other realm. Those who suffer from a prolonged bout of soullessness are just as you would expect: vacant, blank, depressed or spaced out, or all of the above. Likewise people in comas as well as those with dementias are missing large pieces of their souls.

For perhaps 100,000 years, when that happens, a shaman is called in to find the missing bit, bring it back to what we call reality, and help it settle back into the correct body.

If you're making a face, please remember that our society is an anomaly in terms of human history. From the north pole to the south pole, throughout our history, there have always been shamans among us, retrieving our souls. For those who would dismiss even the idea of soul retrieval, may I say: you're the exception, not the rule. No offense.

Soul retrieval does not necessarily involve a shaman banging on a drum, dancing around all night. Even in my uber-rational society, we go about the business of soul retrieval every day. We just don't call it that. We call it psychotherapy or acupuncture. We come across an old picture, or listen to a piece of music that triggers a flood of memories from a former era in life. That flood of memories is a soul bit returning to the fold. It is, believe me. A weekend at the beach, a meeting with an old friend you haven't seen in awhile, or an encounter with beauty can function as a soul retrieval.

A part of soul retrieval involves making the body a calm, peaceful place in which to reside, hence meditation, yoga, t'ai chi, a session of Reiki, a rhythmic therapeutic massage or a nice long walk on a beautiful day, can lay the foundation for return.

I used to wonder why bits of soul take off so often, and so universally.

Why is not that important, and in many cases beyond our comprehension anyway. What's important about soul retrieval is this: when parts of us are missing, we are not whole. Wholeness allows us to fully experience the precious existence of life lived in a human body. I'm good with my souls traveling around a bit, bringing back inspiration, ideas and challenges, but at the end of the day, I want to return to wholeness. I wish to be, as often as possible, whole hearted, whole souled. Don't you?

Life is good and I am grateful. Shalom.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Read all about it!

My first Reiki teacher encouraged us not to read about Reiki. He told us the story of Dr. Usui and those who followed him, but during most of the Level I weekend what we did was practice on ourselves and each other. He told us to practice every day, to feel the Reiki flowing, and to resist trying to understand or intellectualize that for which there really is no suitable descriptive language. Always a Very Good Student, I followed his advice.

Later, after my Level II attunement, I began looking at books about Reiki. Good lord there are some horrible Reiki books out there. Wow.

But at last I've found a book I think is top notch. It's "Reiki, A Comprehensive Guide," by Pamela Miles. It's available through Amazon and well worth a read if you're interested.

I have some quarrels with Pamela's point of view. She is an ultra-traditional practitioner, a devotee of Mrs. Takata (the person who is responsible for bringing Reiki to the U.S.). Pamela is ultra orthodox, something I always have a problem with, no matter the discipline. Ultra orthodox Jews, Muslims, Christians, Vegans and Reiki masters scare me, they are so rigid. They are right and everyone else is wrong. And, too, she insulted me when I mentioned that I give Reiki to the Washington Monument. She called me "capricious." She said I discredited Reiki with this practice. That wasn't nice, was it? She questioned whether what I was doing with the monument was "real" Reiki. She was very dismissive.

Her life goal is to bring Reiki into modern medicine which means we are not supposed to come off like (as someone on her FB page said) "crystal waving, sage burning crazies." OK, I guess.

But her book is very good. Nobody's perfect.

She says vibration is the substrata of what we call reality. That resonates not only with me, but with modern physicists. (Even resonance is vibration!) She says vibration is the intersection of spirituality and reality.

She describes Reiki as a vibrational adaptogen. According to Pamela, Reiki addresses the substrata of reality, adjusting the rhythm of vibration underlying pain, disease or discomfort to bring balance and a sense of peace.

That is interesting! And, may I add that the Washington Monument is basically a gigantic crystal. Is there some reason that addressing the substrata of vibration there is capricious? You tell me.

As you can see, I'm a bit miffed. I'll get over it. In the meantime, may you find yourself in sync with your body's many rhythms and with the vibrational substrata of life. May it be so! Shalom.