Wishing You a Very Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays from snowy Massachusetts!

I’ve moved my life and practice from the west coast to the east coast. It took a while to cross the country and find my bearings, but I’m finally settling in.

Along the way, I stayed in an historic mission home through a California heat wave, crossed the Mojave Desert in 112-degree heat, slept in 6 motels with my cat, decompressed at a New England horse farm, and landed (finally!) in a snug house near Northampton, Massachusetts, home to Smith and neighboring Amherst colleges.

And now it’s a winter wonderland outside!

As someone who’s spent the last two decades in San Diego, I’d forgotten how breathtaking snow is. I’d worried about the ice and slush and cold, but overlooked the stillness and beauty. The other day, wind gusted snow powder off rooftops into a bright blue sky, where it billowed and sparkled like diamonds. It was stunning.

So, from this season of quietude, when the earth’s energy pulls deep underground, I hope you find stillness and beauty as well. And whatever your holiday traditions, I wish you warmth and joy!

Perceiving from a Distance

My first distance sessions were a revelation. Not only could I perceive at a distance, but I could actually perceive much more. It was eye-opening. Profound. So today, I’d like to try to convey what those perceptions are like for me—and how exquisite it is to sense the health in a body.

Sensing with my hands

You’d think that without being able to physically touch, I wouldn’t be able to feel with my hands. But actually, it’s the opposite.

During distance work, my hands act like antennas. I intend to touch a part of the body, let my hands tune in, and then sit back while information and sensations flow in. I can feel the shape of bones and where they’re stuck. I can feel tight tissues release. I can feel fluids pulse and flow. I can feel so much.

Of course, these are just my perceptions from the outside. I always check in to verify whether they match your perceptions from the inside.  

Then there’s remote viewing

One of my instructors once likened craniosacral therapy to remote viewing. So, I figured I’d be seeing clear images of the inside of the body. I wish! For me, it’s more like a cross between seeing and feeling.

For instance, let’s say I’m “holding” the head and feel a tethered pull down the spine. If I wait, an image will often come into my mind of the exact vertebra that’s stuck. But that image is nothing like a photograph. It’s more like a blurry X-ray seen from the corner of my eye while simultaneously feeling the bone. Yet it informs me clearly.

Resonance in the body

And finally, there’s the sensing that comes through my whole body. It’s like turning into a radar dish. And through resonance, I can sense full-body states like agitation or harmony. Or, occasionally, a switch flips inside me and I feel what’s happening for the client inside my own body. 

The beauty of it all

But none of that conveys the immense beauty I perceive. Clients often ask me what I’m sensing, and by that they almost invariably mean what’s “wrong.”

But imagine watching water bubble up in the desert, creating green fields and rivers. Or witnessing some deep intelligence beyond your comprehension release and realign tissues in just the right order, healing what was hurting. Or watching every cell breathe in a slow-motion expansion and contraction, while liquid light flows up the spine.

These are the kinds of wonders that happen when the body’s healing mechanism turns on. These are the wonders I’m privileged to perceive.

Letting Your Emotions Move

If you were to grade your ability to process emotions, would you pass? Fail? Not be sure? Let me give you some context.

The word emotion comes from the Latin emovere, meaning “to move.” So at their most basic, emotions are something that want to move.

More specifically, emotions are an energy that wants to move. And the way that energy wants to move is as a wave that crests and passes after a couple minutes.

These waves of emotion can feel big, sometimes overwhelming. But they’re here to help us survive, function, and connect. Without emotions, we’d all have been saber-toothed tiger snacks long ago.

Learning the wrong lessons

The problem is that, for all but a few, no one ever taught us how to manage our emotions in a healthy way.  

Maybe you learned to ignore and stuff down your feelings. You feel angry about something, but then tell yourself you don’t or shouldn’t feel angry because…reasons.

Or you learned to avoid your feelings. You drink, smoke, watch TV, exercise, socialize, have sex…anything to avoid feeling that.

Others learned to ruminate on the emotion, feeding it with negative thoughts until it festers. Or they learned to blindly act on feelings, letting them explode or take over.

Getting all plugged up

But tamping down the energy of our emotions—not giving them healthy channels to flow through—can have serious consequences. It can cause:

  • Dulled vitality and depression
  • Broken or unfulfilling relationships
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Higher risk of illness

So, get them flowing

The basic steps for processing emotions are simple:

Step 1: Identify the feeling.
When you feel an emotion surfacing, the first step is to name it. What are you feeling? Is it one emotion or several?

Step 2: Feel the feeling.
Sit with the emotion, without judgment, and let yourself feel it. Try to:

  • Distinguish the felt-sense of the emotion from the cause. Thinking about the cause can re-trigger the feeling, making emotions churn, not process.
  • Track the wave of emotional energy. If we don’t re-trigger emotions with our thoughts, the wave will crest and pass within minutes.
  • Give it a channel to move. Sometimes emotions need expression. Try moving your body, journaling, drawing, singing or any form of creative expression.

Step 3: Take action if needed or let it go.
Once the wave has passed ask: Is there any action I need to take?

Sounds simple, right? In practice, processing emotions can get complex, especially with trauma. If you try these steps and feel numb, overwhelmed, or confused, you’re not doing it wrong. You’ve just got extra challenges to navigate. The help of a skilled guide can make all the difference.

Try this Adrenal Reset

Ah, the hard-working adrenal glands. They sit like mushroom caps atop our kidneys and pump out stress hormones when we need them. And if we’re stressed all the time? They just keep pumping them out….

Even when we’re deeply exhausted but so tired-wired we can’t sleep.

Even when every little sound makes us jump.

Even when the anxiety won’t quit…or we’re having panic attacks.

The good news is we can connect to our adrenal glands—and through them our body’s entire stress response system—to interrupt this stress cycle. I learned this simple adrenal reset in a recent training with Kathy Kain, who specializes in bodywork for trauma recovery. You can do this technique on yourself.  

Here’s how it works:

Get comfortable and sense or imagine your adrenals. Hold on, you say…you don’t where those are? No problem.

Your adrenals sit on top of your kidneys, which are near the bottom of your ribcage, next to the spine. The kidneys themselves are red and fist-sized. The adrenals are their lumpy, cream-colored caps.

So, sense or imagine your adrenals…in whatever way comes naturally. You might visualize the actual organs—or see imagery, colors, or energies. You might get more of a feeling-sense…like pulses, temperatures, tightness, or softening. You might even want to hold the area with your hands to get a better feel.

Next, pick one adrenal to start with. I usually start with the one that’s changing in some way. If you’re not sure, dealer’s choice. You’re going to work with both anyways.  

Now, simply be curious. You’re not trying to change anything. What you are doing is being extra attentive to any signs of slowing and settling—here and in your whole body.

Your attention is the powerful tool here. So notice changes like:

  • Softening, widening, or expansion
  • Temperature changes (like cool becomes warm…or…overheated cools down)
  • Soothing color changes
  • Energies slowing down
  • Taking a deep breath or breathing easier
  • Slowing heart rate
  • Feeling more relaxed overall

You may notice that these changes come in cycles. So you settle a bit, and then a new layer of activation shows up and slowly dissipates. Then you settle slightly deeper.  

Continue until you feel slower and calmer. Then do the other adrenal. You’ll likely find it goes faster than the first one. Keep going and enjoy the settling.

Congrats! You’ve interrupted your stress cycle.

This can be a great way to short-circuit a stress response in the moment…like during a panic attack. But it’s even more effective when practiced regularly over time. In this age of frazzled nerves, we’ve often got to retrain our bodies to relax.

Quiet Healing Miracles We Overlook

Today I want to take some time to acknowledge the quiet healing miracles that take place inside us, mostly unseen and unsung. All of the times that our health wins out, sometimes against great odds…while we barely notice.

Most people think of health as something static, as a state of being, a noun. We think we are in a state of good health—or not. But health isn’t static, it’s active. It’s an action hero, a verb. Health is a living, breathing process, guided by innate intelligence. And that process is constantly in flux, monitoring all of our bits and pieces that go out of whack and bringing them back into balance.  

This constant, gentle return to homeostasis is an ongoing miracle.

Day in, day out, your health is there, repelling invaders, repairing cuts, rebuilding tissues, rebalancing hormones and emotions. It’s all of the times we didn’t get cancer, or fought off the latest virus, because our immune system roared to our defense. It’s all of the times we took an emotional gut punch and then felt better the next morning because our dreams did emotion repair. 

Does our health get overwhelmed at times? Of course it does. We’re mortal. We have limits. And our health needs sustenance and support. But it’s always there, trying to return us to balance. As a craniosacral therapist, my job is to support and stimulate your body’s own self-healing ability—its health. And I’ve felt that health do wonders. 

There’s the quiet miracle of the client who comes in stressed out and frazzled. They may not know it, but their brain and nerves are literally buzzing and sparking with heat. And for them, the session may just be deeply relaxing. But I know the health has managed to cool all that heat and do a huge nervous system and hormonal reset.

Or there’s the client whose arthritic neck is killing them. They may feel immediate relief after the session or that may take a couple days. But I feel joints that start out hot, dry, and irritated. And then the health manages to pump in fluids, discharge the heat, and realign the bones to relieve pressure. All while the client dreams.

We so often want healing to be instant and dramatic. And sometimes it is. But more often, healing is so gentle and organic over time that you hardly notice it’s happening, like a paper cut healing. It just feels like things have always been that way.

So, if you’re looking for healing, give more attention to the things that are slowly and gently—without any fanfare—going right. And remember, your health is always there.

Some Favorite Relaxation Techniques

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You reach the end of a long, stressful day and finally get to relax in front of the TV. But when you go to bed, your mind’s still racing and your body’s keyed up. That blue light from the screen—and most shows—is stimulating. So your body never actually gets to relax.

To reduce the toxic effects of chronic stress, and actually relax, you’ve got to elicit your body’s relaxation response. This restful state slows your breathing and heart rate, relaxes muscles, and lowers blood pressure.

But what relaxes you may differ from what relaxes somebody else, so it pays to try different techniques. Here are some of my favorites.

World’s Most Relaxing Song

Dubbed the “world’s most relaxing song,” Weightless by Marconi Union was engineered to be relaxing. Collaborating with sound therapists, the musicians chose non-repeating melodies that let the brain switch off and an underlying beat that slows from 60 beats per minute to 50 over eight minutes, letting your heart entrain and slow down.

Learn more and listen here.

Relaxing Acupressure Points

Acupressure involves massaging specific points along energy meridians. Several of these can relieve stress. I rub central points on the soles of my feet whenever I need to draw energy out of my head and calm down. And the point between my eyebrows really helps with anxiety (and draining my sinuses!).

For simple guidance with diagrams, see this post.

Restorative Yoga: Legs-up-the-Wall

Yoga offers several wonderful poses for relaxing and restoring mind and body. One of my favorites is legs-up-the-wall pose. I often do this to relax and relieve back tension. It’s also great to do right before bed, as it can leave you feeling deeply still and sleepy.

To learn this and other restorative poses, see this article.

Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)

Long revered by yoga practitioners, alternate nostril breathing is a great way to relax and reduce stress. This simple breathing technique helps calm the nervous system and balance the mind and emotions. I use it to settle my mind before morning meditation. But it’s also a good sleep aid, helping ease stress and anxiety.

See this article to learn it.

And if you missed them, here’s a look back at some of my past articles offering more techniques:

When a technique’s working, your body will slowly shift into rest-and-digest. So, if you feel relaxed or your tummy starts gurgling…you’ve got a winner.