This past week I spent several hours with my mother (who turns 98 in 2 weeks) in less than optimal circumstances: waiting, interminably, in a doctor’s office.
Even in a pleasant location, our visits can be trying. Mom sees only from the periphery of her eyes; straight on, everything is a black blur. And lately she hears nothing at all. Conversation quickly degenerates into futile shouting on my part, sulking and withdrawal on hers.
I often feel that we’re both just waiting for her to die.
I end up just holding her hand until she takes a nap, or cutting the visit short and waving in her face so she’ll know I’m leaving. She used to follow me to the door of her assisted living home, as if I’d take her away with me. These days it’s hard for her to get out of the chair without falling. Hence, the visit to the doctor.
But as we sat in the virtually empty waiting room for three hours, there was no escaping. I watched various staff members leave for lunch, and asked the desk if I could take her to get something to eat and come right back. “Oh, no,” I was told. “The doctor will be right with her.”
Mom, in her silent world, went through many moods, over and over. She slumped despondently in a chair. Then she’d get a determined look on her face and would climb upright using her cane. The first time she headed for the door, she happened to push the side that was locked. She gave a huge sigh and said, “So I’m trapped in here.”
She walked to various windows and looked out, touching the panes as if they would dissolve. She came back to different chairs to sit. Once she even turned the chair around to face the window.
I do Qigong when I have to wait for any length of time. It calms me down and helps me draw on reserves of patience. It also embarrasses my mother. Usually she makes some sarcastic remark. This time she was so lost and dispirited, she just ignored me.
I think that, more than anything, cracked my heart open and flooded it with compassion — where I had felt only resentment and anger and “duty” for so long. I began to feel what it must be like to be her: still somewhat cognitive, but unable to communicate. Still able to get around, but with no idea where she is or where she’s going. Still very, very angry, but unwilling to let go.
It was a very different feeling, looking at her as a lovable being rather than a burden.
I can’t say this feeling will last, but now I know how to reach down into myself and find it again.
One bit of good news: the doctor — when we finally saw him — noticed that her ears are impacted with wax. So we have an appointment with an ear doctor to clean them out. (I hope we don’t have to wait too long!) Maybe she’ll get some hearing back and can come back to the world.
For this moment I will shed my anger …
With all the demands of modern life and the tug between work and home life, it’s no wonder many of us get to the point where we feel like we can’t do it anymore. Burnout is not just psychologically debilitating; if it isn’t addressed, it can lead to serious physical complaints.
But what if — like most of us — you can’t just drop everything and take a vacation when the stress load gets too high?
Here’s what an increasing number of healthcare professionals are doing to keep themselves healthy. They call for a “Code Lavender.”
As related in the Huffington Post, Code Lavender is a “holistic care rapid response” for doctors, nurses and hospital staff. A team of Reiki practitioners, massage therapists and other holistic practitioners is dispatched to help soothe, support and restore them when they’ve been facing exhausting or daunting circumstances.
For doctors, that may be when they’ve had a particularly grueling stint in the ER. Your causes for stress burnout may seem less dramatic, but the impact on your body, mind and spirit is just as serious. Here’s just a partial list of burnout symptoms:
As one Code Lavender practitioner explained it, “You have to take care of your own physical and emotional needs so when you arrive at work, you have something to give. And when you come home, you have something left to give your loved ones.”
Left unaddressed, your stress level builds, and you risk serious physical complications. Your body will find a way to make you stop and pay attention.
Before you get to that point, initiate your own Code Lavender program. Make time for de-stressing, and make it a part of your regular schedule — daily, weekly, monthly, however it works best for you. Here are some tried-and-true holistic methods to relax deeply, lower your cortisol levels and restore your spirit:
I can help you with the first three methods, and refer you to highly recommended practitioners for the rest. Please get in touch with me at 404-406-5204 or by email to begin your own customized Code Lavender program.
Ever since the Wall Street Journal article came out late last year about “secondhand stress,” the concept has been showing up all over the media.
In case you missed it: business people everywhere are coping—or not—with the stressful effects of being around that one person (you know who it is) who is always rushing, demanding, frantic—making life miserable for everyone in his or her wake.
If it’s your boss, it can be overwhelming—enough to make you want to change jobs.
If it’s a colleague, you could be sinking into a morass of self-criticism and competitive envy.
If it’s your competitor, your self-esteem could feel like it’s in the sub-basement.
(And what if it’s you? Surely you’re under an enormous amount of pressure to be able to cause such chaos around you?)
The WSJ article had a list of 5 common responses to secondhand stress: anxiety, inferiority, avoidance, desperation, resentment. Not healthy workplace attitudes!
Several counselors and coaches were quoted on how to better manage time and set priorities. But I think its even more important to start from a place of relaxation: stress is so much more manageable when you can confront it feeling centered and well-rested.
Reflexology is a powerful tool to help you get into that place of “relaxed but aware.” During a foot reflexology session, your mind typically slips into slower brainwave rhythms—such deep, restorative rest that even 20 minutes can help rejuvenate you more than several hours of shuteye. You arise refreshed, perhaps with a more positive outlook on life.
Then, as you move back into your day, you may find that you are able to concentrate better on the work at hand. Coming from a place of relaxation and focus, you are able to choose how to respond to workplace demands. When you feel calm and engaged, you can begin to make those changes the experts recommend to help you manage your stress:
- Set limits on your to-do list: be more realistic about what you can get done in a day.
- Turn off the email—if you can, turn off the phone!—for a designated time period so you can fully concentrate on getting work done.
- Negotiate your deadlines: don’t let those stress-makers push you around!
Now, not all those steps may be doable right away, especially if you work in an environment where the manager enjoys power struggles.
But when you look at your workplace objectively, from a grounded place of relaxation and calm focus, you will see what you can do to lighten your stress load. Even if it’s baby steps at first, you will begin to shape your workplace as a place where you feel empowered, not overstressed.
Can reflexology help you manage your workplace stress? Call 404-406-5204 or email for an appointment to find out!
A day full of turkey and remembrance is over. I hope you had a lovely gathering and a delicious meal, and that the table conversation turned to thoughts of gratitude.
What would it feel like to feel as much gratitude every day as we feel on Thanksgiving?
Well, until recently, that’s what I thought I was doing.
A while ago, a young student wrote to ask me about my healing practice. She was very concerned about competition. Here’s what I told her:
I find Competition an interesting concept, because, as a Reiki practitioner, my "mission" is to bring Reiki energy to as many people as I can. If I can teach them how to use Reiki to bring themselves back into balance, I am delighted — even if I lose them as a regular client. There is enough abundance to go around, just as there is enough Reiki energy available to serve every living thing. I’m not making a killing with that philosophy, but I sleep well, have abundant energy, find kindness and synchronicity in most of my interactions, and somehow the bills get paid.
Thing is, last month, for the first time, the bills almost didn’t get paid. I felt myself nearly paralyzed by fear, and I wasn’t sleeping well — waking at 4 am with dire worries about losing my home and having nowhere to go. I even began thinking about who would take care of my pets if I jumped off a bridge.
In the end, however, everything got paid; I didn’t even incur any late fees.
So I was just beginning to feel calm and secure again when my car died — gave up the ghost right in downtown traffic. I had it towed to the repair shop, and got a short-term rental so I could complete all my appointments. At first I didn’t think of this calamity as an opportunity, but it has become one.
The next day the garage called to say the car needed a completely new engine. I realized it was time for a different car — at 308,500 miles, that one had served me long enough.
I knew I couldn’t afford much, but I started looking — and there were actually working vehicles in my price range! Friends were emailing me suggestions, and it was getting exciting. And scary — how quickly could I find a car before the rental fees became exorbitant?
Then, a huge gift: a friend offered me use of her spare car for as long as I needed it. Suddenly I could breathe again! And I realized yet again how blessed I am to be surrounded by kind people with generous hearts.
So what can I do to open up my own heart and give back — or pay forward — what my friends have done for me?
In one respect, I’m already doing it: I’m offering free sessions using the new healing modality I’m learning, Jin Shin Jyutsu. [If you’re interested in taking part, please email me for an appointment.]
But beyond that, how can I translate my gratitude into acts of kindness each day?
On Friday, November 29, the 5th annual National Day of Listening, we are encouraged to record stories for posterity. Even simpler than that is just listening to our loved ones. How often do we do that? I, for one, am grateful for the opportunity to keep my mouth shut and my ears open.
And the rest of the week, and next? I intend to begin each day with gratitude, and trust that I will find a way to share kindness before the day is over. What will you do? I welcome your comments.
It has been conventional wisdom among scientists and philosophers that kindness, compassion and empathy are learned behaviors, taught by elders, society and religious leaders. Now more research is coming to light that shows how empathy is actually embedded as a basic instinct -- an instinct we share with other mammals, not a “humane” exclusive. According to Frans de Waal, in his book The Bonobo and the Atheist,
“We started out with moral sentiments and intuitions, which is also where we find the greatest continuity in primates. Rather than having developed morality from scratch through rational reflection, we received a huge push in the rear from our background as social animals.” (p. 17)
We can trace the connection between kinship and kindness linguistically. Follow the etymology of “kind” back to the Old English gecynde meaning “natural” and “genial.” In other words, it is natural to be nice. Gecynde itself is a cognate of cyn, “family.” Our modern word “kin” stems from this, and is related to Old Norse kyn, Latin gens, Greek genos, Sanskrit jánas … you get the idea.
Our innate sense of kindness is not always indiscriminate, however. As de Waal states,
“All of nature is build around the distinction between in-group and out-group, kin and non-kin, friend and foe. Even plants recognize genetic kinship, growing a more competitive root system if potted together with a stranger rather than a sibling. There is absolutely no precedent in nature of individuals that indiscriminatingly strive for overall well-being.” (p. 183)
Just because there is no historic precedent for unbiased altruism, it doesn’t mean it is impossible. Consider Neuro-Linguisting Programming (NLP): “the use of word-meanings, which describes how the language of our mind produces the qualities of our behavior.” Although Wikipedia, having defined the concept, offers lukewarm support at best, I believe it makes sense. As we learn through our five senses and an increasing command of language, we develop identifiable patterns of behavior. We can also use the senses — and language — to modify these patterns of behavior.
We already have a limbic-brain predisposition toward kindness and compassion -- at least toward those we recognize as “kin.” Our challenge, indeed our hope of survival, lies in expanding that recognition to the whole global community.
Again, de Waal’s research with primates shines hope on extending kindness to all our “kin” on the planet:
“But even if there can be little doubt that morality evolved for within-group reasons, without much consideration for humanity at large, this is not necessarily how it needs to be. … The more we expand morality’s reach, the more we need to rely on our intellect, because even though I believe that morality is firmly rooted in the emotions, biology has barely prepared us for rights and obligations on the scale of the modern world. We evolved as group animals, not global citizens. Nevertheless, we are well underway to reflect on these issues, such as universal human rights … [W]e humans have a long history of building new structures on top of old foundations.” (p. 235)
There are examples everywhere you look of improbable acts of kindness between very different species, as between age-old human foes. The opportunities for altruism are as boundless as our imaginations.
What can you do today to contribute to universal kindness through global kinship? I welcome your comments.
Reflexology for Couples - Friendly Foot Care for the Holidays
Get ready for the holidays by learning how to take care of the feet of your footsore friend, spouse, or significant other. And they’ll learn how to care for yours!
Workshop at Decatur Healing Arts
Saturday, November 16, 6:00 - 7:30 pm
In this workshop, you’ll learn where to press to relieve stress on the digestive system and other key organs. It’s a skill that will last a lifetime!
Reflexology is much more than a foot rub. Its tangible health benefits include:
- Relieves stress
- Improves circulation
- Relieves pain
- Aids digestion
- Helps move toxins out of your system
- Releases “stuck” energy
- Helps reduce blood pressure
- Enhances medical care for neuropathy, hemodialysis, UTIs, and more
- Helps reduce depression and anxiety
- Complements cancer care
- Helps in post-operative recovery
- Revitalizes your energy
- Helps alleviate insomnia and sleep disorders
Reflexology is a healthcare treatment that uses manual compression to stimulate reflex areas in the feet -- areas that correspond to organs, glands and tissues throughout the body. It helps improve blood flow and lymph movement (your body’s natural detoxifier). And it feels great!
You and your partner will each take turns giving and receiving some basic foot reflexology. I will demonstrate each reflex point covered and give pointers on technique. The classroom will have blankets and pillows, towels and massage oil to enhance your hands-on experience.
Location: Decatur Healing Arts
619B E. College Ave · Decatur, GA 30030 · 404-378-6288
Cost: $25 per couple (this can be a friend, family member or spouse)
NOTE: Attendees MUST pre-register by Friday, November 15
Register and prepay* at www.decaturhealingarts.com/workshops.html or call 404-378-6288 to register and pay on the day of the event with cash or check.
*Paypal pricing adds a $2 service charge. If you pay in person on the day of the workshop, they request cash or check only. Thank you.
Some new clients have asked for shorter sessions -- and though I still feel a one-hour session offers the most stress relief, I'm happy to oblige. Here are the revised session lengths and rates:
A 30-minute session of Reiki OR Reflexology is $35.
A 45-minute session (doable within a lunch hour) is $50.
The standard 60-minute session remains $65.
And the popular 90-minute Reflexology + Reiki is $95.
Sessions are available at the St. Michael's Center and at Decatur Healing Arts. Call 404-406-5204 or email for an appointment.
It’s not autumn yet, but the signs are approaching: some leaves are beginning to turn, the days are getting noticeably shorter, and for some of us, the sheer joy of aimless hot summer days is cloying. Last week marked one of the cross-quarter days on the Celtic calendar—Lammas or Lughnasa, the feast of the wheat harvest. It seems to me that as our climate is changing, these cross-quarter days may be a more certain demarcation of the change in seasons than the “official” solstices and equinoxes.
So, as the unofficial harbinger of fall, Lughnasa (named for the Celtic god Lugh) marks a time to begin reflecting on what is important in life. As we head toward winter, what do we want to keep, and what can we safely give away? This can be anything from goods to commitments to friends.
Another thing to look at: what have we accomplished so far this year, and what do we most want to accomplish in the time that’s left before the year turns?
Right now I’m reading a book a friend recommended to me a couple of years ago, but the time wasn’t right until now. Soulcraft by Bill Plotkin, PhD., is about the personal journey to connect with our true nature, in all its messy humanness. Virtually every page has food for thought, but this passage (pp. 40-41) really struck me. He begins with a quote that has been attributed to many people including Anonymous:
A task without a vision is just a job.
“It is this sacred work, this ‘vision with a task,’ that we seek, individually and collectively. The rarity of finding sacred work is at the root of our Western [culture’s] despair and sorrow. When not acknowledged and embraced, our grief is acted out through violence against ourselves (e.g., addictions, suicide, masochism), each other (e.g., sadism, racism, sexism, war, child abuse, ethnic cleansing), and the environment (e.g., toxic waste, resource depletion, species extinction, forest destruction, environmental degradation). Unacknowledged grief also manifests as depression, anxiety, and a growing sense of meaninglessness.
“By consciously honoring our grief—the absence of vision and sacred work—we take our first steps toward soul discovery and personal fulfillment. We begin the return to our true nature.”
I encourage you to take time to honor your own sense of grief. Go alone for a walk in the country or in the woods, breathe deeply, and listen—really listen—to the sounds of nature all around you. If it’s possible, don’t think. Let thoughts come to you, and let them go. Cry if you can, shout if you want to, sing if you feel like it.
If you’re so moved, come home from your walk and write down your impressions. This is when Spirit begins to talk to you.
One of the best ways to tap into the unexpressed grief we all hold inside is through energy work. Qi Gong, Yoga and the like help move the stuck energy inside while calming the mind. Alternative therapies like chiropractic, massage, reiki and reflexology also move energy and help restore balance to body, mind and spirit. I encourage you to take care of yourself regularly. There is so much around us (and within us) to keep us out of balance.
On Monday, July 22, from 6-8 PM, Decatur Recreation Center is hosting a Health and Fitness Expo, with information on getting fit, keeping fit and eating healthy. I'll be part of the Decatur Healing Arts table, demonstrating the benefits of Reflexology to all comers. Stop by for a 10-minute foot rub!
It's all part of the Kaiser Permanente Get Active! Atlanta and Team Decatur Kickoff at the newly renovated Decatur Recreation Center. Decatur Mayor Baskett and Race Director and Olympian Jeff Galloway will be on hand for this event, which kicks off a free eight-week training program offered through September 11.
There will also be prize drawings, and information on Team Decatur, the group formed to participate in the Kaiser Permanente Run/Walk 5K, now in its fourth year.
Wear fitness clothes to take part in fun activities including Jazzercise, Zumba, NIA Dance and more.
And I have it on good authority that Doc Broc will make a special appearance!
I'm excited to join the staff at Decatur Healing Arts, where I've been teaching Reflexology for Couples workshops for the past 2 years. Beginning July 1, I will be available for Reflexology appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 6. To make an appointment, please call DHA at 404-378-6288.
And to learn more about the wide variety of classes, workshops and services -- including but not limited to Tai Chi • Qi Gong • Yoga • Nia • Meditation • Massage • Sound Healing • Energy Healing • Alexander Technique • Polarity Therapy • Reiki • CranioSacral Therapy • Qi Healing -- please visit Decatur Healing Arts.
New Service Rates Effective July 1
Well, that's a headline I have resisted for the past 2 years. However, to keep up with those incremental supply increases that have been creeping up for a while now, I have to raise my prices. To make this as painless as possible, I am adding just $5 to my current rates, starting July 1.
The new rates for services are:
Reiki: 1 hour for $65.
Reflexology: 1 hour for $65.
Combo Reflexology + Reiki: 1-1/2 hour at $95.
R&R Sampler (just a taste!): Reflexology + Reiki - 30 minutes for $35.
To find out more about any of these services, please get in touch with me at 404-406-5204 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christin Whittington is a practitioner of energy medicine – helping people restore balance in their bodies, their health and their lives using a combination of Reiki, Reflexology, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Qi Gong and herbal medicine.