Recent Articles

Recent Articles

Embracing your silver, part 2, or What if you're covering up your best thing?

 

Copyright 2017, Mindy Totten, all rights reserved. Please feel free to reprint these articles with copyright attribution and a web link back to www.MindyTotten.com

Pushing the Off Button

Copyright 2016, Mindy Totten, all rights reserved. Please feel free to reprint these articles with copyright attribution and a web link back to www.MindyTotten.com

Perfection is Overrated, Laughter Heals, and Love Always Wins!

Copyright 2016, Mindy Totten, all rights reserved. Please feel free to reprint these articles with copyright attribution and a web link back to www.MindyTotten.com

How to Start Moving and Shaking, Doing and Grooving

Copyright 2016, Mindy Totten, all rights reserved. Please feel free to reprint these articles with copyright attribution and a web link back to www.MindyTotten.com

Embracing What Makes You Unique

Copyright 2016, Mindy Totten, all rights reserved. Please feel free to reprint these articles with copyright attribution and a web link back to www.MindyTotten.com

Bliss or a Straight Jacket? 5 Days of Silence

When I learned that my husband's four brothers were coming into town for a reunion, I was thrilled for them to be able to spend some time together.

I also knew I wanted to be away from that action, somewhere on my own, so I decided I would do a silent retreat.

When I told people about my retreat, they responded either by saying, "It sounds like bliss!" Or with, "I would end up in a straight jacket."

I thought I did silent retreats "all the time," but it turns out the last time I did one was four years ago.

It was time.

My first thought was that I would go to Mepkin Abbey, a Trappist monastery in South Carolina that offers retreats. When I contacted them 6 months in advance, I learned that the weekend I wanted to attend was already booked by a group.

This wasn't in my plans at all! Now what was I to do? Everything was a mess!

I was complaining to a friend about the awfulness of it all when she kindly suggested I stay in her beach house for the retreat.

Wait, what? Whoa. Well, OK then.

This is just the latest example in my life of me thinking I have all the answers and the perfect plan, only to have things sort of fall apart so that an even more perfect plan can unfold.

And after I enthusiastically accepted my friend's offer, the details fell into place effortlessly, and the next thing I knew, I was on my own for 5 days with no phone, no computer, no TV, and no music.

I did bring a journal and a couple of books, but other than that, it was just me with my thoughts. And boy, oh boy, that can be a scary, unkind place.

I had many epiphanies and insights, which I will share in upcoming articles, but what I kept coming back to was just how perfect being at the beach was.

It was even better than going to the monastery, and it never would have happened if I had gotten "my way."

Is there a place in your life that you're trying to make something happen in "your way" and it's not going so smoothly?

I invite you to consider the idea that maybe there is a better plan in store for you. Maybe you need to be still and listen to guidance.

Often, clients will tell me that when they come in for CranioSacral Therapy, it is the only time they are silent and still enough to hear the deep insights and and voice of their heart.

If you can't get away for 5 days, perhaps just an hour of silence will help your body and your spirit regain some balance.

For me, the first day and a half of the retreat was like being in a straight jacket, but then I moved on into bliss.

May you take the time you need for yourself so that you can always have those moments of bliss.

Copyright Mindy Totten, all rights reserved. Please feel free to reprint this article with copyright attribution and a web link back to www.MindyTotten.com

Saying Goodbye

by Mindy Totten

Recently, a friend I've known for more than seven years moved to another state.

It was very difficult to say goodbye, even though I knew that she was going to be happy in her new home.

She's the kind of person who made me a better person just by knowing her, and I knew I would miss her terribly.

In the couple of weeks before she left, we talked at length about the different ways that people have of coping with goodbyes.

Because my husband and I moved around so often when I was teaching overseas, I thought I had the goodbye thing down to a science.

Basically, I just ignored the fact that I was leaving. I would specifically ask that there be no going away party for me, and when the day came, I just sort of slipped out the back, Jack.

This worked well for me, except when it didn't. Inevitably, after I left a place, I would cry and cry - the unshed tears that I wouldn't allow myself to shed in front of others.

My friend handled her goodbyes quite differently. She told me that letting friends honor her with their farewells and kind words filled her heart and buoyed her for the future.

That really made me think.

The fact is that goodbyes involve grief - for something that was, or something that could have been.

Grieving after a goodbye is natural and healthy, and it allows a person to process the emotions of loss.

Whether that loss is a friend's departure, the loss of a beloved pet, leaving behind an old way of life, or a public loss like the tragedy in Newtown, it's important that we acknowledge our grief so that we can begin to process and heal.

Getting stuck in the unprocessed emotions of loss can sometimes lead to physical pain and dysfunction. That's why bodywork can be so powerful in helping people with Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder and other conditions involving unprocessed emotions.

The next time you feel a loss in your life, try allowing yourself to feel it, if only for a bit at a time, so that your grieving can help you to heal.

When the time finally came for my friend to leave, I shed some tears with her, but then felt lighter and more positive about her departure.

As painful as goodbyes can be, they do indeed pave the way for future hellos.

Copyright Mindy Totten, all rights reserved. Please feel free to reprint this article with copyright attribution and a web link back to www.MindyTotten.com

What Type of Bodywork is Best?

by Mindy Totten

I find it curious when people ask me what the best type of bodywork is.

After the recent article on bodywork in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, several of the online commenters were arguing that one type of massage was better or worse than another.

A couple people even posted that any kind of bodywork was a waste of time because "science" hadn't "proven" that it was effective.

It seems to me there are a couple of things to consider here.
 
First, there is no best kind of bodywork. The "best" is whatever works best for you.
 
If you have pain in your shoulder, then trigger point therapy, ultrasound therapy, or Rolfing may hit the mark for you if your body tolerates movement and deep pressure well.
 
On the other hand, if you prefer a gentler, more subtle releasing of pain and tension, that same shoulder pain may respond better to ultrasound therapy, gentle myofascial release, or CranioSacral Therapy. 
 
The same condition can respond differently to different therapies in different patients at different times.
 
The key is to develop your body awareness so that you know when something is "off" in your body, and you can "listen" to your body to understand what it needs.
 
The second important consideration is that all bodywork modalities have wonderful practitioners who can facilitate fantastic results with their clients.
 
It's imperative to find a practitioner who is not only skillful and experienced, but also with whom you feel a connection. Ideally, you'll find someone who not only listens to you, but who really hears you.
 
An exceptional bodywork therapist will not let his or her ego get in the way of the client's healing experience.
 
Let's face it. If you don't feel comfortable with someone, it's going to be more difficult to relax and rest into healing. 
 
Finally, a word about science. If a bodywork modality works for you, then it works for you, science or no.
 
There are thousands of research studies that try to prove or disprove the effectiveness of not only bodywork, but of pharmaceuticals and surgical interventions, as well.
 
And there are thousands of responses to those studies trying to prove or disprove the studies' results by finding fault with the research.
 
At the end of the day, go with what resonates with you. Find a skilled, experienced therapist who is willing and able to answer your questions, and then use your personal experience to discover what types of bodywork are best for you.
 
Get input and advice from those you trust in the medical community and outside the medical community, but then listen to your body awareness.
 
It's your body. You're the expert.
 

©Mindy Totten, all rights reserved. Please feel free to reprint this article with copyright attribution and a web link back to www.MindyTotten.com

Will CranioSacral Therapy Work For Me?

by Mindy Totten

As a CranioSacral Therapist, the two most commonly asked questions I get are, "What is that?" and, "Can it help my (fill in the blank)?"

The answer to that second question is, "Most likely."

CranioSacral Therapy (or CST), like any modality, can't "fix" everything, but by helping to release restrictions in the central nervous system, CST helps the body to function at its best.

But how, exactly, does this work? One way is through the fascial system in the body.

Fascia is connective tissue that is present everywhere in our bodies. It surrounds and supports our bones, muscles, organs, and other structures, allowing us to move and flow.

When the fascia in a certain area of the body becomes restricted, that area can no longer function at its best.

For example, if someone twists a knee while exercising, the fascia in the area may respond by "tightening up" or "toughening up" to support the injury to the knee.

Without bodywork, that tight fascia loses its flexibility, and the knee is unable to work smoothly. That restriction, even though it is at the knee, can cause the central nervous system to work at a sub-optimal level, which can in turn, keep the body from functioning at its best.

The intention of CST is to release the restriction at the knee, using a variety of techniques, so that both the knee and the central nervous system are working at their best.

One of the techniques used in CST is called fascial release. In a nutshell, the CranioSacral Therapist will help to soften and lengthen the connective tissue around the injury so that the body can return to a place of balance and health called homeostasis.

The patient will often feel a sense of softening in the area, sometimes accompanied by a feeling of heat or energy releasing. 

At times, a patient will also be aware of other parts of the body responding to the treatment, for a global sense of pain relief and calmness. 

So, in this example, while the goal of a CST session may be to help the central nervous system to be free of restrictions, another outcome is that the pain from the knee injury is abated. The whole body works better, and the knee feels better, too.

Through a variety of techniques, CranioSacral Therapy helps the body release restrictions and work at its best. And in the process, your body feels better, with less pain and more mobility.

 

©Mindy Totten, all rights reserved. Please feel free to reprint this article with copyright attribution and a web link back to www.MindyTotten.com

Why You Sometimes Feel Worse Before You Feel Better

by Mindy Totten

A couple of weeks ago, I had a client referred to me who had been suffering from vertigo, off and on, for months. When she came in, we went over her medical history and her background. She had been through the tests, tried some medications, but nothing seemed to help for long.

She had never heard of CranioSacral Therapy, but when her massage therapist told her it might help, she made an appointment.

When I explained a little about the principles behind CranioSacral Therapy, including the light touch, she told me, "I've tried everything else. As long as it works, any touch is fine with me."

During the session she relaxed and her body responded well to the therapy, releasing restrictions, and opening to healing.

When we finished, she told me she didn't feel much different: "Maybe a little lighter. Lots more relaxed. But I'm not sure it had any effect on me. It didn't really feel like anything."

I told her that every person is unique and the response to each session is unique. As she left, I explained that she may continue to feel some shifts and changes in the next day or two, and that if she had any questions to contact me.

Bright and early the next morning, there was an email from her in my inbox. She wrote that during the evening after our session, she had a terrible headache, and that she usually didn't get headaches. She said that she felt so badly that she went to sleep early and slept "like a rock."

The email message went on to say that she awoke the next morning and her vertigo and the headache were gone. She was thrilled that she felt so well, relieved of the anxiety that had gone along with the vertigo, and she expressed gratitude for CranioSacral Therapy 

What happened here? What gives? Why do we sometimes feel worse before we feel better when we're healing?

There are several factors that may be in play.

First, no matter what type of bodywork therapy is used, when tissues "release," or shift, or change, that can cause other structures to shift and change, too. Remember, everything is interrelated, in the body (and outside the body, too, but that's a different article...).

So, when one part shifts, and other parts shift in response, some of that shifting can cause temporary pain or a feeling of general yuck (that's one of my technical terms) until all the parts have adjusted to a new place of wellness.

Another reason that we sometimes feel worse before we feel better (which is sometimes referred to as a 'healing crisis') is that our bodies are waking up again. When we are in chronic pain, the body's natural reflex is to guard against that pain. And sometimes that guarding is in the guise of numbness or not feeling at all.

When our bodies are healing, it's possible for that numbness to give way to sensation that can be a little unpleasant at first. Kind of like when your leg tingles uncomfortably after it's been "asleep" for awhile. Usually, after things readust, there is space for wellness and a sense of balance in the body.

So that's the skinny. I always tell clients to let me know if they have any questions about anything relating to their sessions, and we should all feel comfortable letting anyone who is working with us know about any responses we may have to bodywork.

In CranioSacral Therapy, the process that begins during the session can sometimes continue for a day or two after your appointment. Know that subtle shifts and changes can be breakthroughs to healing and well-being. 

©Mindy Totten, all rights reserved. Please feel free to reprint this article with copyright attribution and a web link to www.MindyTotten.com