Posts tagged ‘spirit’

February 3, 2014

Life Is a Feast

Do you need a little happy in your life? If you do, you can borrow some of mine for a bit—but only until you find your own. I found this talisman of my joy (at least the beginnings of it) at Office Max—who knew?!? Check out my Happy Kitchen Board below:

Just makes me smile!

Just makes me smile!

My Happy Kitchen Board makes me grin whenever I see it. It’s a bright, beautiful representation of my spirit settled happily in my kitchen, the center of our home. It also serves as a visual shortcut to my own brand of happiness, reminding me to stop and savor when I run too ragged and forget. Now I want you to zero in on that rabbit near the flower pot: “Life is a feast.”

323

Love this little guy.

There’s so much power packed into that tiny phrase!  Life should be savored, shouldn’t it? With joyful abundance and possibilities unbounded, conjuring up gifts freely shared. Recently, I was blessed with an actual feast for both the body and the spirit–double win! In case you don’t know, I work at a magnificent retirement community, Juliette Fowler Communities, and one of the sweetest parts of my day is Morning Devotions.

Dear friends: Amp and Ruth, and their helper, Tracy

Now, how many people can say that they begin their workday in a place overflowing with love and respect, spending time with treasured friends, sharing coffee and treats, and exchanging stories of how God moves in their lives? Not many! The group of residents and staff members that gather for this morning time together are very dear to me. I swear I’m doused in love and happiness by the time we say goodbye.

Sweet ladies: Hazel, Wanda, and Carolyn

Last Thursday, however, was extra special. My sweet friend and Director of Life Enrichment (the most perfectly named department I know) Marti Miller planned a bountiful, healthy spread for our residents. A quick trip to Whole Foods later, and we were set. Here’s what we enjoyed:

211

  • Fresh mandarin oranges
  • Iced mocha (made with almond milk, coffee, and natural cocoa)
  • Activia yogurt
  • Fresh papaya and mango
  • Fresh green juice
  • Cranberry juice with natural ginger ale
  • Hail Merry macaroons
Two of my very favorite people: Marti Miller and Deborah Armstrong

Two of my very favorite people: Marti Miller and Deborah Armstrong

The food was excellent, and the company even better. That delicious morning meal with my friends was a perfect reminder for all of us to keep enjoying this glorious feast of life. Have a super week!

Bon appétit, and God bless!

Brooke

October 16, 2013

Yoga and God?

Image

Is it ok for Christians to practice yoga?

I’m not sure where these misunderstandings start. Did someone want out of a yoga class? Did someone vocalize a fear and falsely accuse? Too often I am asked why I practice yoga if I am a Christian. Huh?

yoga-picture-6Yoga is therapeutic. Yoga is challenging. Yoga is beneficial to the body. It is not a religion. Yoga is a spiritual discipline, much like fasting, meditation and prayer. You will find these practices in many religions, yet none of them make a religion.

Yoga does have the ability to enhance our personal beliefs and faith in the religion of our choice. I do start and end my practice with prayer, and God is a part of my practice. How about you? What personal touches do you put on your yoga practice? Yoga’s powerful ability to blend and strengthen the body, mind, and spirit can contribute to a person’s overall well being. So, Yogis everywhere, unite despite your religious preference, and open your mind and spirit to whatever is awaiting you at the mat.

yoga-inspire

Feel free to explore yoga and other energy work as part of your quest for healthier living. It’s amazing how possible it is for us to heal ourselves, if we just put our mind to it.  –Lacey

 

October 9, 2013

I Need A Goal!

On a recent flight, I sat next to a guy on an apparent business trip. I surmise he will be working on “work stuff” during the flight only from mere assumption over his attire (suit and tie), laptop, and briefcase ensemble.  Perfect, since I needed to clear my mind, listen to my music, and rest a bit.

“Are you headed home?” Yes. “Me, too. I have a race tomorrow.” Oh?  Do you run? “Yes, I do. Do you?” Yep!

No music. No rest.

 Image

We chatted running history, various training perspectives, clubs in Dallas, paces, next-step goals. I recalled my last half and full marathon times—to the second, and so did he. A co-worker of his chimed in with various races he did, too. We talked NYC, Chicago, and Boston. He doesn’t need a pending goal, and is starting to just “run for fun,” but the conversation leads me directly toward goal setting.  

For all my fellow runners, check out these links and choose the destination for your next accomplishment.

www.marathonguide.com

www.active.com

 

For everyone else, print out this sheet, fill it out, and stick it on your bathroom mirror as a reminder.

Image

It’s important to dream, but once you write it down, it’s a goal. So, what will it be?

For me, I’ll book a 2014 race—I just need to select a destination, and I’m attacking Yoga. It’s time. As an avid runner, my legs, hips, and back need Yoga.  So does my mind and spirit!  –Lacey Pruett

ImageImageImage

 

 

September 9, 2013

Find Your Happy Place

both joy

Hello, Friends! It’s Brooke, here. Where’s your happy place? You do have one, don’t you? If not, you are missing out. As far as these lovely places go, they can be locations you can actually visit, or they can be exotic locales conjured up in your mind’s eye. While both types have their uses, today we are concerning ourselves with the places that you can access easily at almost any moment.  Why? Because sometimes life just calls for a quick and powerful reset, and your brain is just too overrun to get away on its own. In these instances, it’s best to simply transport yourself to the place where you can relax and let your mind catch up later.

Follow the Clues

clue

But how can you find these places of solace and escape? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • When was the last time I was really happy? Where was I?
  • What activities make me lose track of time?
  • If I could go anywhere in my entire city, where would I go and what would I do?
  • What makes my heart happy?
  • When I’ve reached the end of my tether, what would make me feel cared for?

Scour your memories for all the times and places when you were alone and content. Part of caring for your spirit is finding ways to be joyful and complete without needing others to fill a void for you. Also, your loved ones’ version of happy may be entirely different from yours. Your job is to find your glow first and share with those in your life after.

glow

You’re on the Right Track!

Remember, everyone has a different set of hallmarks they use to identify their happy places. Maybe a little boutique smells just like your favorite friend’s house growing up; maybe a painting studio lets you be wildly creative and unbound, unlike your day job. In case you’re stuck, take a peek at my top 3 places currently:

1. Barnes & Noble: smells like coffee, cinnamon scones, and new books—also, I love hanging out with my dad there, and I adore getting lost (and not being missed) exploring whatever my heart desires . . . today

2. Cosmic Café: vegetarian/vegan Indian restaurant: the food is delicious, the vibe is very spiritual and peaceful, and no beloved animals were sacrificed in the making of this nourishment

3. Exall Lake: lovely and peaceful neighborhood lake, surrounded by trees, beautiful homes, and away from the hustle and bustle of Dallas traffic; inspires me and allows me to think and ponder

You Will Know It When You Feel It

heart flutter

Here are some markers that will help you recognize you have found some happy places:

  • It makes your heart flutter happily.
  • Being there is supremely relaxing.
  • Your true self can roam unfettered by expectations of normal life.
  • Your brain can finally shut off the cacophony of b.s. it spouts incessantly as you are lost in the moment.
  • You are thinking about or focusing on only 1 thing—and it feels great!
  • You feel calm because you are in the present moment, not hampered by the past or fretting about the future.

Come to think of it, these markers are some of the very same ones you can use to identify your true calling and find your bliss. No wonder they make you feel happy!

Go to Your Happy Places as Often as Possible

beach heart

Self-explanatory, really! Keep these places tucked away in your subconscious and pull them out regularly, especially when you are feeling stressed, fried, heartbroken, or just plain out of joie de vive. As long as they make your soul sing, you’ve found your little corner of bliss!

Happy hunting, Brooke

April 10, 2013

MANicures and Mistakes

french_manicure
            A small disclaimer before diving into this week’s topic: men don’t need to be cured, fixed, or polished. It is my opinion that men need to be allowed to be men. Some of my girlfriends are rolling their eyes at me as they read this. The second part of my belief is that if they are allowed to be men, they are happier, better partners in life, and that benefits us (ladies!) Whether you’re dating, married, or have male friends, I’m sure everyone agrees that it’s nice when the men in our lives are happy.

 

            I mentioned aloud that I needed to get a manicure (and pedicure) for an upcoming beach trip. To which, my husband admitted that he needed to drop some “winter weight” for the trip. When he asked what he should do, I recalled in my head the last time I tried to manage his nutrition and plan his meals. Epic fail. I pushed too hard, and I didn’t work with his personal boundaries. (e.g.; full-bodied, quality beer is a must, not light beer; eating meat isn’t a negotiable topic; and he’s not a runner, but he is a fast walker and a weight lifter.) I pushed my ideals on him and didn’t leave room for negotiation. We both were left frustrated, uninspired, and frankly… needing a stiff drink.

 

            In response to his comment this time about losing some weight before our beach vacation, I said, “what does that look like to you?” He explained his goal in specific detail. My second question was, “How committed are you?” To which he replied, “I’m not giving up pasta, and I’ll never eat kale… I want to have two beers three times a week… and I’ll work out five times a week for at least 30 minutes.” Since we had three weeks, this will work. Plus, I was more encouraged about his interest in healthier living, not just in the weight loss, so I got to work. The 80/20 rule fit in nicely with my husband’s nutritional criteria; Advocare’s multi-vitamins and Spark drink would ensure he received the minerals and vitamins he needed daily; and I made the commitment to do exercise time with him as often as possible for motivation, but also for accountability. I pulled out the most exciting and fun workouts I had, so he enjoyed the sweat time. When I would go for a run, he fast-walked with the pups, then we’d do weights together. Working our goals into our lifestyle is the ticket!

 

            Fast forward to three weeks later, my husband met his goal and felt a difference. The plan actually stuck around after the vacation too, which was an added bonus for both of us. Some other benefits were the struggling together during a set of jump-squats or bench presses; the singing out loud to workout music; the looks our pups gave us as we growled through the workout; the post-exercise glow we had when we met friends for a night out. When you look, feel, and perform your best, you do all of life better. Also, when couples sweat together, they stay together. We celebrated little triumphs like when we managed to make broccoli and other greens taste yummy, or when we added to our reps during a workout. We didn’t beat ourselves up when we missed a beat with our diet or exercise routine. And when he looked up at me from a bowl of his favorite pasta creation and said, “It’s my 20% babe…” I just had to smile.

 

     

Working out with a spouse (or friend, or child) is fantastic mutli-tasking! Quality time and a workout!

Working out with a spouse (or friend, or child) is fantastic mutli-tasking! Quality time and a workout!

My husband and I at a messy 5k showing it doesn't always matter who wins. If you're getting healthy together--everyone wins!

My husband and I at a messy 5k showing it doesn’t always matter who wins. If you’re getting healthy together–everyone wins!

Men and women have varying goals, motivations, and commitment levels. We’re each willing to give up different things. Conversely, we have those things we refuse to give up. My toes will always be ready for flip flop season, and my husband will always have his morning cup of coffee. The key is to find ways to implement healthier habits into your life together and to always keep first things first… like family, friends, and laughter.

 

 

 

 

Some FUN Q&A from Our Home to Yours

 

“Does golfing with the guys count as my activity?” Only if you do squats before you swing at each hole.

 

“Do the beers I have on our date nights count?” Not if we are both smiling and enjoying the time together. 

 

“Is all sugar bad?” Not if it’s in a dessert I want, and we share.

 

“The kids want to order pizza and stay in with us Friday night, can we eat that?” Yes we can and with gratitude over the fact they want to stay in and eat pizza with us. (This is a 20% situation.)

 

“What do you want to bet?” Loser has to do 25 pushups (especially funny if we are out in public.)

 

Keeping healthy is a family affair... sometimes it's messy, but we are committed!

Keeping healthy is a family affair… sometimes it’s messy, but we are committed!

January 11, 2013

So Many Books, So Little Space. . .

Love books part 2

Hi, there. It’s Brooke here. How many of you like to read? No, not just the latest Twitter feed or Yahoo entertainment news (don’t get me wrong—I like to know how fast Anne Hathaway’s pixie cut is growing out just as much as the next person), but really read? I’ve always adored reading, from my earliest memories of my dad reading to me at bedtime to present day, when I have at least 3 audio books in my car at all times. You know how naked you feel when you go somewhere without your purse or phone? I feel agitated and anxious unless I have reading material stashed close by, wherever I go. This would explain the many piles of books and magazines that follow in my wake. I know this book clutter is a problem, and I’m confident a psychologist would be able to dig out some juicy analysis of my inner failings from observing my daily interactions with these piles, but I do not care. Actually I do care, but that’s between the psychologist and me. Having my beloved books nearby comforts me and makes me feel secure that if the moment arrives in which an answer is needed, I can go directly to the most helpful resource and resolve the crisis—I mean, question.

Book room quote

I’ve tried to figure out why I have such trouble with accumulating and holding on to things. You may be like this too, but for me to do something uncomfortable, possibly painful, definitely not creative or fun, I have to know the reason why I should. I found this to be true even when dieting down for a fitness competition. Maybe it’s so I can Jedi mind-trick myself into accomplishing the troublesome task, but regardless, it’s how I’m wired. Several clues to why are as follows:

I crave Input, which is apparently a natural-born strength according to Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton, authors of Now, Discover Your Strengths. This is a fascinating book popular in corporate management circles and among people seeking to understand themselves and others. I highly recommend it if you’re the sort who wants to maximize your potential and understand what makes people tick (http://www.amazon.com/Discover-Your-Strengths-Marcus-Buckingham/dp/0743201140/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_y). To crave input means that you are intellectually curious and tend to collect things—not necessarily physical objects, but information such as found in books, quotes, random ideas, and lots of facts. You gather this information, stimulating your mind and storing it away, never knowing when it might be important at a later date. As you can imagine, this could swiftly lead to logistical problems for you and the people in your life if any of these “treasures” take up physical space. My husband has told me on several occasions that I have too many books and that I need to get rid of some of them. While I do consider this an offensive statement and an affront to me personally, I kinda agree. I once read an article about organizing the house—wait, I’m sure it’s around here somewhere—and it gave me the following advice: Freeing up your physical space from its clutter (books and other things) creates “psychic” space, or room for your spirit to expand and for new opportunities to come into your life. This sentence sounds just fantastical enough (and not too pragmatic, a.k.a. boring) for me to get my head around.

psychology

Also, as an INFP according to the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, I’ve learned that I am a strong “P,” which stands for “Perceiving.” In the context of the Myers-Briggs test, Judging and Perceiving are the two ways people deal with their external world. When one is a “Judging” type, one tends to be gifted at closure, organization, and planning. This also means that these folks tend to make a decision and then move forward effectively. These are skills that I’m working on improving—they don’t come as naturally to me. When you are primarily a Perceiving type, you tend to be flexible, open, and relaxed with the world. You like to observe the world rather than order it and prefer to take in lots of information. A lack of closure is easily tolerated because with new information coming in all the time, one never knows when an important piece will come along and a decision will need to be changed and improved. I can’t explain why this is, but it seems to put words to the reasoning in my head. If you want to really get under your own skin and have a few hours to spare (once you start, you’ll find it hard to stop), go online to any number of sites to take the Myers-Briggs Personality Test or assessments very similar to it. Here’s a nice little intro into the science of Typing and you’ll find some links to free testing and great info as well (http://www.developandgrow.com/lifecoach/blog/free-on-line-myers-briggs-personality-tests/).

I hope you enjoy digging into your psyche and discovering some helpful things. You may just be amazed! Wish me luck as I clear up my psychic space and continue to self-diagnose my neuroses. Have a wonderful weekend!

~Brooke

January 8, 2013

Say Goodbye to Your Black Stretchy Pants

My journey from a pregnant 200 lbs. to now

My journey from a pregnant 200 lbs. to now

I have had so many new moms reach out to me since reading my HH story wanting to know what my post baby weight loss secret is. How did I leave the hospital weighing nearly 200 lbs. and then go on to win a fitness competition? And more importantly, how did I then get back to feeling fit and healthy?

When Landry was 3 1/2 months old, the truth was that despite my decent effort, I was still wearing my pregnancy wardrobe staple; a pair of black stretch pants that were literally coming apart at the seams. On top of my clothes not fitting, I had postpartum depression and was edgy, irritable and lethargic.  While I commend the moms who could annoyingly wear their pre-pregnancy jeans one week after giving birth, I obviously was not one of them. These were also the moms who seemed to adjust to motherhood with ease and confidence.  I; however, was not one of them and my story was very different!  So at 3 1/2 months, when I got sick of living and feeling this way, I looked at myself in the mirror and made the choice to love myself enough to make a lifestyle change.  I was going to finally let go of the unrealistic expectation that my body was just going to go back to itself overnight. I decided then that it was going to take maximum effort and I needed to get 100% committed or stop complaining. It was time to take my life back over and make my health and fitness a priority for my child and myself.  It worked and I encourage all of you whose story is similar to mine to begin this New Year letting go of the excuses, the fears, and your own black stretchy “comfort pants” and to begin the process of embracing yourself and commit to a new healthy lifestyle. Whether your children are five months old, fifteen years old or out of the nest, the time is now!  Conquer one meal, one workout, and one day at a time.

1. Make up your mind to love yourself and to 100% commit to your new healthy lifestyle. Find a goal: whether it’s a fitness competition, road race, cross fit challenge etc.

2. Do not set unrealistic expectations that it will happen overnight.

3. Get a family plan! If you have a significant other, sit down with them at the beginning of the week and map out workout times that you both think is fair and stick to them. Even if it’s 5:30 am!

4. Stick to a consistent workout plan that will shock and challenge your body.

5. Most importantly throw out your old eating habits and crash diets out of the window! It is time for a new super clean, 100% committed lifestyle change. Plan each meal, eat 4-5 small meals and mindfully fuel your body with the nutrients it needs.

Love yourself to a healthy lifestyle.

Loren Silas

December 15, 2012

Happy and Safe Howlidays!

sweet doxy

Hi, there! This is Brooke, your pet-loving gal here. The holidays are in full swing, and you are probably up to your eyebrows in things to do, cookies to bake, and cards to send—I know I am! Here are some tips on keeping your cherished pets safe and happy during this festive season.

Christmas Trees

This is an example of a bad kitty!

This is an example of a bad kitty!

  1. Make sure to anchor your trees from adventurous kitties that climb and dogs with crazily wagging tails—you don’t want all your hard work “decking” the tree to come crashing down in the middle of your eggnog!
  2. If you have a live tree, keep your animals from drinking the tree water, which may be full of pesticides as well as bacteria from the stagnant water. Ingestion of these nasty things can cause diarrhea, nausea, and upset stomach.
  3. Regardless of whether your tree is real or artificial, be sure to clean up the dropped needles often. Curious pets will eat those needles faster than you can say “No, don’t—!“ They are toxic and will cause vomiting, even if fake (trust me on this).
  4. Do not leave pets unattended with the Christmas tree, if possible. A fully decorated tree comes stocked with all kinds of dangerous “toys”:
    • Hot light strands can burn or electrocute dogs or cats, which have a tendency to chew on things. Keep light strands secured and covered or away from the lower levels of the tree.
    • Be sure to put glass or metal ornaments higher up on the tree, and watch for broken ornaments with sharp hooks or attachments—little paws can easily step on these items.
    • Tinsel may be beautiful, but it’s a big no-no, especially for cat households. Cats will ALWAYS find stringy, dangly items, and tinsel (along with other strings or wires) can be ingested and can get tangled in the stomach or intestines, leading to scary emergency surgery or even death if not caught in time. No thank you!!

Holiday Plants

Many plants that make our houses cherry and bright this time of year are bad news for our furry family members. For a more extensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants, check out this link from the ASPCA: http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/poison-control/Plants. If you suspect your pet has gotten into anything suspicious, whether plant, food, or otherwise, be sure to call your veterinarian or emergency vet clinic IMMEDIATELY. You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year: (888) 426-4435.

Common Holiday Plants Your Pets Should Avoid

  1. Lilies: deadly to cats, can cause kidney failure
  2. Mistletoe (especially the berries): highly toxic, causes upset stomach and potentially fatal heart problems
  3. Holly: causes nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy
  4. Poinsettias: not as toxic as often thought, these should still be avoided as they can upset pets’ digestive system
  5. Amaryllis: causes diarrhea and vomiting
  6. Certain species of ivy, namely English ivy: can be extremely harmful if ingested

Forbidden Food and Drinks

fridge danger

We all know that your animal friends are very skilled at watching you pitifully as you shove another yummy treat in your mouth. Their doleful eyes entreat you to share a bit of delicious food with them. Don’t do it!! You can show your pets that you love them in so many healthier ways.

  1. Be sure and feed your pets before dinner or party guests arrive—that way, Spot will have a full tummy and be less likely to beg for scraps from your guests. Also, give your animals some special treats made just for them when they have been good (or just because), and politely ask your guests to avoid passing along tasty morsels to your pets.
  2. This shouldn’t even need to be mentioned, but be sure to keep the dogs and cats (and any other small creatures) in your house out of the booze and smokes. Even accidental ingestion of alcohol or nicotine by a curious pet can be deadly, so if your party is getting very merry—be careful!!
  3. Some foods that can be harmful to your furry friends are:
    • Turkey skin and gravy: can cause pancreatitis
    • Onions and onion powder: can destroy red blood cells, causing anemia
    • Chocolate: can damage the nervous system and urinary tract as well as the heart muscle; can be deadly
    • Grapes and raisins: grapes, especially, can cause kidney failure (who knew?)
    • Cooked bones, especially poultry bones: can tear or block the intestinal tract; these injuries can be fatal
    • Not a food but food items: strings that are used in turkeys or roast, as well as the little  “pop-up” thermometers; discarded aluminum foil; food and fixings garbage—make sure to keep these items picked up and thrown away, with garbage sealed tightly

Joy to the Animals

Christmas rat

We can absolutely include our furry or feathered family members in the holiday festivities—we just have to be smart pet parents. Stuff your pets’ stockings with worry-free toys, like rubber dog toys, indestructible Kongs filled with special treats, durable rope “bones”, size-appropriate balls, catnip mice, interactive krinkle mats, and even nesting boxes and soft hammocks for your favorite little rat!

Ok, you guys. Get to jingling those bells, and stay warm!

Blessings,

Brooke

November 20, 2012

Giving thanks!

My daughter came home from school on Friday with a turkey place mat and some things she was thankful for on each of the feathers of the turkey. They read a story in class about the Pilgrims and Native Americans and the Thanksgiving feast. But…I got to thinking….do most kids really know what it means to be “thankful”? Do they get that they should be thankful for the blessings everyday, not just one day of the year? Do they understand that Thanksgiving goes beyond just a week off from school and eating a ton of food? If you were to ask your kids a simple question of,”what do you want to give thanks for?”…could they answer that with a little more meaning then their Xbox and Ipod?

 

In a world where so much is handed to our children, its hard for them to really grasp the meaning of being thankful for all they have. If you were to ask my 11 year old daughter, she would tell you she is so unlucky because I won’t allow her to have a cell phone yet. “But all the other kids have one mommy. This is so unfair.” In my personal opinion, she does not need, nor will she get a phone until she goes to middle school, and even then it will be for contacting me purposes only. My child is sweet and loving, don’t get me wrong…but I think its become a hard concept for the children of today to realize that there are people out there less fortunate then them and that we should really give thanks for all that we have in our life, not be sad for things we are missing.

 

Sit down with your children this Thanksgiving season and really have a conversation. Talk about all the wonderful things in your family life that they should be thankful for. Take the opportunity to really express gratitude for one another and the love and warmth your family possesses. Then, moving into the holiday season, choose something charitable that you can do together as a family. Go volunteer in a food kitchen, get an angel off a tree, buy the extra grocery bag at the grocery store that feeds a family, do a charitable fun run together,  go to a clothing drive, toy drive, etc. Take the time to teach your children the meaning of giving…its a lesson that will last them a lifetime and will trickle forward through further generations.

November 16, 2012

Personal Musings of a Massage Therapist

Hello, Family and Friends! This is Brooke. For the last 4 years, I’ve been blessed to be a licensed massage therapist at a beautiful retirement community. Massage therapy itself is truly a special occupation, one that allows you to help people in so many ways. I love being able to take my fascination with science and anatomy and use it to solve problems that people have with their bodies—maybe an injury here or there, a little tweak in the back, a stiff neck and shoulders, a tension headache that needs soothing. I also confess that I like to be needed and I adore making people happy. So, therapeutic massage is a gift I can share with people.

Some people may find the practice of therapeutic touch mysterious or unfamiliar, but really, it is very simple. The manual manipulation of soft tissue not only loosens tight muscles, but also reduces pain, warms tissues, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, improves immune function, reduces blood pressure, increases respiratory capacity, calms the nervous system, and influences hormone levels (among various other things). These effects are physical, and so can be observed and measured. However, the emotional components of massage are just as powerful. Recipients of therapeutic massage report feelings of well-being and happiness, of acceptance of their body, of connection and being cared for.  Actually, some psychological benefits of massage stem from physiological means—massage can reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, and can increase serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone.  Also, massage can increase oxytocin, the bonding hormone that helps you feel nurturing connection with others. Now, I’m certainly not saying all good feelings and happiness can be explained by scientific rationalization, but in case you are the pragmatic sort, actual clinical evidence supports the benefit of therapeutic touch. There you go. Now for the more touchy-feely stuff . . .

Everyone has personal space, the invisible but palpable field of energy around them that is closely, often subconsciously regulated. One allows others into that personal space according to the social relationships he or she maintains with the others. For example, you allow your friends and loved ones close to you, but door-to-door solicitors you probably keep at a distance. When clients come to me for an appointment, they are allowing me to be in that personal space with them and share my therapeutic touch—this is a great honor. They trust that I will be professional and respectful while helping them to relax or relieve a painful knot or move more easily, and I convey my care for them through my hands and how I communicate with them. My hope for my clients by the time they leave my spa room is that we have accomplished what they asked for help with, and that they are calmer and happier than when they arrived, with looser muscles and softer spirits.

But what’s on the other side of this interaction? Most of us know what it feels like to receive a massage, but what’s your therapist thinking? I can speak only for myself, but while I try to convey a calm, peaceful, positive vibe to people I interact with, my mind is often filled with thoughts of the day feverishly pinging around like an out-of-control pinball machine.

Once a session begins, however, my monkey mind is forced to be present and connected with my client. I wrangle my thoughts and tuck them quietly away as the music provides a soundtrack to the action of my hands, and I am lulled once again into peaceful contemplation. Massage becomes a moving meditation and calms my anxious spirit, in spite of myself. Often I feel the same peace and expansiveness my client feels as we work together—we are sharing the same air and energy in the dim room after all.  As I ponder this interchange of energy, I think of this quote by Ofer Zur and Nola Nordmarken, which feels true to me: “Touch is our first language. Long before we can see an image, smell an odor, taste a flavor, or hear a sound, we experience others and ourselves through touch, our only reciprocal sense. We cannot touch another without being touched ourselves. . .”

Blessings and happy Friday!

~Brooke