The journey and process of healing will be empowering for you in the long run. You will begin to trust yourself more and more. Listening to and trusting your body will become second nature. Be patient and kind with yourself.
During our sessions, I will inquire about how you are doing, implementing the changes I have suggested. Journeying through the healing process will build your resilience, body and soul. It will teach you what you are capable of when you set your mind and heart to it.
That said, I can facilitate your healing, but I can't heal you. The therapies and education I will share with you, in partnership with your efforts, will heal you. This takes conscious, focused intention.
Healing is a process. Most dis-eases have taken years to develop. It takes time to heal from the challenges you are experiencing, but you can heal. One session with me, while necessary to the process, will not heal you completely. For some, this may happen. But usually, the people I work with, need more tending.
This tending, in part, will come from our work together. But, the most important tending will come from you. You are the one who must make healing your priority. You are the one who will choose to take the time, invest money, purchase products, implement therapies at home, make time for appointments, and integrate all this into your lifestyle. I will guide and mentor you with all of this.
Here are some of the requirements that healing requires:
I can support you in various ways when you come for sessions, but your daily choices are yours. A lot must be done at home, and made a priority. By doing the practical, day to day actions requried, you will begin to heal.
Damsel: Oh dear! I don’t know how to turn this room full of straw into gold!
What ever shall I do???
Rumplestiltskin: Never fear! I know how to help you!
But, I’ll need you to provide me something of value for my help.
Damsel: Of course! Here is my necklace in return for your help!
Damsel: Oh no! I have to turn a bigger room full of straw into gold! Will you help me????
Rumplestiltskin: Of course. But again, I will need you to provide me with something you value in exchange for my help.
Damsel: Yes, of course. Here is my ring.
Damsel: I’m so distraught! I have to turn an even bigger room full of straw into gold. Alas, I have nothing to give you in return for your help.
The little imp gets to work on the huge room of straw turning it into gold. When finished he notifies our heroine that he requires her first born child in payment. Horrors!
Our damsel is beside herself, learning of the horrible bargain. Rumplestiltskin offers: If you can guess my name, you will be released from the bargain. Our damsel employs the help of her community to learn the name of the strange little man. One of her allies hears Rumplestiltskin, as he dances around his fire, singing out his own name! Her ally returns with the news, and shares his name with the damsel.
When the little man returns for his due, after the birth of the damsel’s child, he is furious when she guesses his name. For in doing so, she breaks the horrible spell. At that moment Rumplestiltskin stomps his foot, and instantly splits in two.
Unfortunately, the process of restoring health can feel as impossible as turning straw into gold, and as harrowing as this story. And as in any house, all rooms need to be tended to.
The price to be paid here, to have assistance with transforming our relationships, again may be paying a professional for their guidance/talents. On a deeper level, it is the payment of relinquishing a way of being with others and ourselves that was uncomfortable at best, and dysfunctional to varying degrees. The former way of being is traded for new awareness and new behavior that can generate “golden” relationships and emotional health, which also contributes to improved physical health.
The “spell” of the bargain is broken. Rumplestiltskin, the mysterious little imp, stomps his foot in anger and is split in two. The illusion of power over our damsel is broken. The veil of illusion split in two. You have earned the right to keep your own new life: no one else ultimately has authority over you.
After you’ve taken a few deep breaths, close your eyes and gently revisit a time of moderate challenge for you. What feelings do you remember? Sadness? Fear? Loneliness? What ever those feelings were, notice what happens in your body, being with the memory.
What happens? Does your breath become more shallow? Do your chest and shoulders constrict? Whatever it is just notice what affects it has on your body...your breathing. Now gently let that memory go.
What do you notice in your body? Does your spine begin to straighten? Do you feel your heart in your chest expanding? Do you feel your energy rising? Does a smile come to your face? Enjoy the memory, then gently let this one fade too.
Example: Not too long ago, one of my clients was lying on the table telling me how afraid she was of injuring herself again. Yet, she didn’t want to give up on the activities she loves. Who could blame her? In that moment I was reminded of the teachers who encouraged me to listen to my intuition...”it’s going to rain, bring your umbrella” ......”slow down, you don’t know what’s around that corner”...You know, that still, small voice within that is constantly looking out for you?
I wondered if my client was consciously aware of the value of listening for that inner knowing? We explored this during her time on the table, and I could sense she hadn’t really tuned in this way previously, even though she is quite a conscious person. She later reported that the shift in her attention toward listening to that still, small voice is helping her honor her limits. It’s keeping her safe.
My client had come to resolve the effects of a previous injury to her body, which was being tended to, during our session. During the treatment, fear arose, which she gave voice to...there was a lack of trust in herself, physically and relationally, because of the accident she had experienced. Through my sharing of the importance in bringing more attention to the “still, small voice” as trusted inner guidance, she later saw that was able to trust that she knew how to keep herself safe. She became more empowered.
Healing is a multidimensional process. The process of restoring health naturally takes committed tending to body, emotions, relationships and spirit. Through the process you are likely to become adept at transforming any “straw” in your life into a golden opportunity!
At last! Winter has softened into Spring! Persephone, the Goddess who spends half the year in darkness with Hades, God of the underworld, has returned to us. Spring Beauties, Violets, Bluets and and Toothwort are blossoming on the forest floor, Welcome dear friends, our plant allies! You have been missed! What I have learned this Winter, and what I will share in this newsletter, affects the reproductive system, energy levels, weight concerns, menopause, aging, and more.
The winter months have been a time of deep realizations and processing, rather than outward expression. I became aware of being hypothyroid, and the knowledge of this has helped me tailor the ways I care for myself. I’d been witnessing thyroid challenges my sister has been facing these past months, and through our conversations became aware that I have been managing symptoms of being hypothyroid for quite some time, using herbs, diet and supplements.
Because diabetes runs in both sides of my lineage, I thought I was staving off that disease. I have been successful in that. However I had been frustrated with lingering symptoms such as weight gain, dry skin, fluctuating energy levels and brittle hair. In my research I have found that hypothyroidism is epidemic, particularly among women. Symptoms include fertility issues, menstrual challenges, overweight or weight gain, menopause challenges, fatigue, brittle hair, dry skin and moodiness, exhaustion, brain fog, and so many more.
Many of the symptoms I have mentioned above often show up in my clients, as they are mostly women coming to me for therapeutic massage, herbal consultations, Maya Abdominal Therapy, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and/or Pre and Perinatal Trauma Resolution. While hypothyroidism is a challenge for me, I am happy to now, through this experience, to have a much deeper understanding of the issues facing my clients, and many more tools to support them, not only in achieving relief from these challenging symptoms, but in gaining optimal health at any age!
You may see yourself, or someone you love, in the abbreviated symptom picture I have described. My intention in this newsletter, is to empower you to regain vibrant health by helping you discover likely, greatly variable causes for the disease; share information essential to your getting an accurate diagnosis; and offer resources for resolving symptoms.
The causes of hypothyroidism, and other thyroid diseases, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are many, and often genetic predisposition is present, but can
also be caused by other factors. Genetic expression may be turned on through prolonged periods of intense stress, pregnancy, menopause, aging, and head and neck injuries. Other contributing factors include over-treatment for Graves disease, or Hashimoto’s; bromide (in seafood and some baked goods) and/or fluoride (an added chemical to our drinking water) toxicity; iodine insufficiency, selenium and/or iron deficiency; B12 utilization; thyroidectomy; pituitary gland failure and more.
For a more complete list and explanation you might be interested in purchasing the book Stop the Thyroid Madness, by Janie Bowthorpe, M.Ed. It is a compilation of the experiences of thousand of thyroid patients. Though I find that writing and editing are not top notch, the information is incredibly useful. And to be fair, I’m sure expediency of delivery was the objective, in order to help as many as possible.
As mentioned above, the symptoms of hypothyroidism are many and varied, including fertility and/or menstrual challenges, overweight or weight gain, menopause challenges, fatigue, brittle hair, dry skin and moodiness, heart palpitations, exhaustion, brain fog, psychiatric diagnoses, and so many more. Symptoms can begin slowly. A person may go from being hyperthyroid when younger to hypothyroid over time, with fluctuations along the way. And for some, hypothyroidism may turn into an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
I have been focusing on supporting my thyroid, based on the research I, and so many others have done, again, through herbs, supplements and diet. And I am very happy with the results so far. My feeling, is that this autoimmune disease, like type II diabetes, may be cured and at the very least managed. Success is possible through developing a supportive community for managing stress that includes family, friends and professionals, through dietary choices, and by using supportive supplements.
UNDERLYING ADRENAL FACTORS
It is essential not to ignore the adrenal glands when determining the causes of symptoms. The adrenal glands are walnut sized glands that sit above and adjacent to the kidneys. Like the thyroid, they are cued by the pituitary, the master gland of the body. The adrenal glands play a powerful role in managing stress, whether physical, emotional or mental. They are the glands that produce aldosterone and cortisol.
Cortisol stimulates blood sugar levels. You can see that if under chronic stress, blood sugar levels remain high, causing chronic inflammation, which in turn causes weight gain and oxidative stress on all systems of the body. The adrenals also produce aldosterone which regulates internal fluid balance and blood pressure, as well as sex hormones testosterone and estrogen, among others. When seeking treatment for thyroid issues, it is essential to test for adrenal function, as adrenal fatigue may be the underlying cause a cascade of symptoms, resulting in thyroid dysfunction.
BLOOD and SALIVA TESTING
The place to begin is to have relevant blood tests and a saliva test done to determine where your body needs support. Thyroid issues do not respond to a one-size-fits-all approach. Relevant blood tests are Iron and TIBC panel (Total Iron Binding Capacity), Thyroid antibody panel, anemia panel (including B12 levels), and a Weight Loss Panel which includes TSH, free T3 + Free T4, hormone levels, cholesterol and more. Adrenal testing is done through a saliva test, resources for this can be found on http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/ site. The book, by the same name, provides detailed information on why these tests are needed for proper diagnosis and treatment.
HERBS, SUPPLEMENTS AND DIET
There are many plant allies that support adrenal and thyroid health. In the case of thyroid issues, it is helpful to consult a practitioner to find which herbs are right for your situation. Herbs supportive of adrenal health are schizandra, ashwagandha, licorice and ginseng (panax). Herbs that are supportive of the thyroid include bladderwrack, hops, passionflower and sage.
It is also useful to know that thyroid imbalances have been found to be aggravated by gluten. So, step one might be just to remove gluten (wheat, rye, barley) from your diet. It’s much easier to do than you think. I did, and my I soon had no discomfort in my abdomen, and I dropped about seven pounds!
Supplements that are supportive of thyroid health specifically include iodine and l-tyrosine. Patients have found that raw dessicated porcine thyroid works much better than Synthroid, and even the newly reformulated Armour. I offer this information as a beginning point, and recommend seeking supportive health care providers to assist you on your journey.
It is important to work with a doctor, or other health care provider who understands and supports thyroid and adrenal health. Again, the website http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/ is a valuable resource in helping you find a suitable doctor. Another resource is http://www.brodabarnes.org/, though you may need to pay to receive a listing of doctor’s in your area. I am an advocate for health professionals that will support your return to optimal health.
Remember, our genetics are a factor: Experiences that have been passed down to us through our lineage, such as famine, war, surviving holocaust and more, influence genetic expression. There are countless people who would benefit from this knowledge, yet they are unable to use it, as they have no support from family, friends, nor the society around them. I welcome the opportunity to support you in finding your way on your journey, through the challenges discussed here, or another.
It is through educating ourselves, and making empowered choices, that we will change our own lives to reflect our true values. By living these values we shape our communities, influencing the directions of institutions designed to support us. If established institutions will not support our values, our empowerment will be the catalyst in creating structures that do.
May we all flourish in the gentle sunlight and warmth she brings!
Yours in health,
Body and Soul Healing Arts
The latest in neuroscience and the new field of epigenetics have shown researchers that there is so much more to this. As I am in a Pre and Perinatal Trauma Resolution training I'll be able to explain it all better soon. But for now, since it is transforming the way I language things. And is permeating all aspects of my practice. In the paragraphs that follow, I'll share resources I believe will support any child at any stage of life, whether in utero, childhood or adulthood.
Some of you may already know that we are present in our mothers, when our mothers are in our grandmothers womb. Yes, a four month old fetus already contains all the eggs she will carry forth into her maturity. Epigenetics tells us that the emotions, thoughts and experiences of our grandparents effect the expression of genes (which genes are turned on or off) in their grandchildren. Consequently, the greater the endorphin enriched environment a little one is exposed to, the more resiliency the child will express, as will their children!
Science finally supports the instinctual bonds that exist between generations. It it no longer a question of nature vs. nurture: it is nature AND nurture. If your are interested in learning more about this refer to the research eloquently and exuberantly demonstrated in the youtube lecture, The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton, PhD; The Neurobiology of We by Daniel Seigel, MD; and The Neurobiology of Secure Attachment a youtube interview with Allan Schore, MD. Enjoy!
Loving prenatal care in all forms will positively affect mother, father, family system, newborn, and their little ones; rippling out into the future. Prenatal massage and bodywork is certainly supportive of resiliency. Prenatal care that supports the empowerment of the family is essential. As is the environment surrounding birth and infant development, as mentioned earlier. One of many wonderful resources supportive of empowered birth is Spiritual Midwifery, a very readable classic by Ina May Gaskin. I highly recommend it to anyone planning on parenthood.
So, this wasn't exactly an article on the benefits of prenatal massage. But I hope it offers compelling resources that are empowering to mothers and families for generations!. With love.....Angela
Through the Biodynamic Craniosacral Training I completed last June, I was exposed to pre and peri natal psychology and health. This sounds like it relates solely to infant health. Not so. This work supports healing for anyone, at anytime, who has undergone challenges in utero, through the process of birthing and post partum as a wee one, prior to the age of three. I offer a quote from the Association for Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health website:
"We find that prenatal and perinatal experiences have a profound impact on the subsequent quality of health and human behavior; we see that life is a continuum which starts before conception, not after birth. During this formative period, parents and babies are not isolated from each other but fundamentally interconnected. A loving prenatal and perinatal experience inspires such things as bonding and sensitivity to others which have long-term consequences for both individual relationships and for society. Ultimately, womb ecology reveals itself in world ecology as the seeds of peace or violence are sown by parents, their models, teachers, and caregivers during pregnancy and birth."
This month I began a two-year training with Myrna, with the intent of bringing this work to my clients, and making it available to more communities. I am so looking forward to being able to offer this work in the future! Stay tuned!
This article is republished with permission from the author.
As a nation we are horrified by an epidemic of mass shootings at the hands of young killers, and an escalation of bullying in our schools. Though many constructive solutions have been offered, something is being left out of our national dialogue. This something is what science has to say.
Findings from decades of child development research have given us a new lens with which to understand children’s needs, and may shed some light on the escalation of violence at the hands of young people. The field is exploding with new information, yet pediatricians, educators, and mental health therapists are often unaware of this science, or the breadth of the research and its implications.
I was heartened to see that, recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics incorporated some of this information into a policy statement warning that toxic stress early in life, or even before birth, can harm children for life. (Pediatrics 2012; 129:e224-e231)
Research results tell us that babies and young children are much more sensitive to stress and to nonverbal communication from adults than we ever knew. Scientists are also telling us that mutual interactions of joy and delight between parents and children, especially in the early years, are crucial to healthy brain development and to their ability to manage strong positive and negative emotions throughout life. This ability to regulate the highs and lows of emotional life is the key to stable mental health as an adult. Difficulties with emotional regulation are at the core of most mental health disorders.
For children, a “felt sense” (different from an intellectual knowing) of being valued and understood on the inside is essential to the regulation of their nervous system, and their ability to have full access to their neocortex. When there is something stressful in the child’s environment— everything from mom and dad being stressed about everyday life, to a divorce, to someone died, to moving, to a medical procedure—children need to have someone they can trust to help them understand how it makes them feel.
We now know that children can be easily traumatized by everyday events without adults realizing it. There are specific tools that can be taught to parents, to educators, and to every adult who relates to children, to help them help children manage these stressful events. This would include right brain to right brain communication which soothes the limbic system and develops autonomous emotional regulation—for example, paying attention to eye contact, tone of voice, and timing and intensity of communication; offering validating comments such as “That must have been scary!; or “So, that’s how it was for you!”; or enjoying sensory rich activities together such as kneading dough, drawing, music, playing sports, or dancing. Also, children can be taught to identify stress in their bodies, techniques to reduce their stress, and what to do if they are about to “flip their lid”. When this type of relationship connection does not happen for a child, we often see an escalation in difficult behaviors, from obstinacy to extreme violence.
Attachment Theory scientists talk about “attunement.” This is a special kind of connection with the child where the adult is completely undistracted, and can relate to the child almost as if the adult were in the mind of the child. Attunement fosters spontaneous sharing, a feeling of being understood, and allows the adult to gently explore what is on the child’s mind. Attuned communication has a huge impact on a child’s overall behavior, and builds their mirror neurons. Strong mirror neurons are what gives children the ability to have empathy for others—not moral teachings or zero tolerance policies. Empathy in turn prevents aggression and violence.
Doctors Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate, in their book Hold on to Your Kids, explain “counterwill” (disobedience) and the “the making of bullies”. They convey that, though counterwill (“I want my own way.”; “You can’t tell me what to do.” etc.) is normal in children, it can be tamed through, and only through, a strong attachment relationship, not methods to control and punish. That means that if children feel truly connected to their parents or to the adults in charge, and feel safe to lean on them emotionally, they are more likely to listen and to drop their counterwill impulses. In other words, if I, as a child, feel safe to tell you how I really feel inside about stuff, and trust that you are not going to judge my feelings or dismiss them, I am going to feel close to you and want to listen to your rules even if I do not want to. I am also going to absorb your core values. You do not have to drill them into me.
Neufield and Mate go on to describe bullying as a lack of emotional vulnerability stemming from weak attachment connections. If a child does not feel emotionally safe to lean on an adult attachment figure, then they harden their tender feelings, such as fear, anxiety, love, caring, etc., and defend them by lashing out. Or, they may turn against themselves and harm themselves. They may also try to find an attachment substitute by becoming obsessively attached to their peers and push away their parents. But this doesn’t feel safe either, because another child cannot protect them.
Mate and Neufield explain how a strong peer orientation culture is harmful to children and that; in fact, there is much about our modern life which interferes with the type of attachment relationships children need for healthy mental development.
So, yes, we need to get assault weapons off our streets. And, as a society, we need to stop producing bullies and mass murderers. Children are not born that way. Society creates them. No, it is not a specific gene. The science of epigenetics tells us that the caretaking environment helps to determine which genes are expressed.
I hope that we can bring this vast amount of empirical science into our local, state, and national dialogue. We have the scientific evidence to prevent violence, but will our culture and our politics allow it?
CHRISTINE A. WALKER, LCSW
408 EAST MARKET STREET SUITE 204
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA 22902
A Center for Integrative Psychotherapy and Psychoeducation