Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Listening to the Light

Autumn is a time to reflect on the phenom of “shedding”. Leaves are being shed in the blowing winds. Animals are shedding their fur. We are shedding our skin. As we peel back the layers of old protective coverings and surrender them to decay or compost them into the nutrients of our next phase of growth, we realize that the season has come to let go of the old and allow the fresh new layer or lack there of to take it's place.

I have been fortunate to have a fresh new perspective on this old lesson from nature as the surgeon reaches for his instruments to remove the diseased tissue from my body. A malignant melanoma has been discovered and determined to be manageable. The management of such a threat however requires due diligence to remove the threat in a timely and effective manner. I am surrendered to the process of diligence. What seemed like an annual chore of visiting the Dermatologist has now become a stroke of good luck and fortune to discover the threat lurking in my skin.

How can we use a mundane chore or perennial tasks to learn valuable lessons and gain a new perspective? I learn every day while delving into the muscle and sinew of athletes the value of body awareness. Every little nagging ache and pain that signals a problem arising can and should be addressed if only by acknowledging that it exist. I have renewed my commitment to listening carefully and deeply to the presentations as each athlete enters a dialogue with me. This is accomplished though writing, speaking, signaling in reflexes or perhaps a simple gut instinct. However we communicate our needs, the number one issue remains: have we been heard?

Listening is a skill that is honed over time and refined daily. When we listen with our ears we hear words and put together phrases that convey meaning. Listening with our hearts can tell us so much more. It is more than reading between the lines. It is feeling the vibrations on a soul level. Sometimes I come in contact with that subtle energy in a space so sacred I scarcely feel worthy of residing there. The Heart energy is palpable beyond the physical rhythm of the contracting muscle and electrical pulses that govern a steady beat. The streams of “light” that are emitted from the soul are not visible to most on a conscious level, yet our language lends itself to speak of this reality. “She was beaming with Pride” or “He was glowing with adoration”.

As we enter into the season of Christmastide and shed our old attitudes and platitudes let us seek to sharpen our understanding of one another. Speak of the joy lying deep with in our hearts. Enter into the bold space of caring and sharing. Giving Thanks is not reserved for Thanksgiving. Bring into to focus the light streaming from the souls around us. Feel the Love growing in your heart for others. Commit to sharing the Joy you find in the simplest expressions. Sing, play an instrument or find a warm place to just cuddle with a cat, a child or your best friend. Count your Blessings.

Settle in for the Winter, like a flower bulb. Gather your energy to burst forth in the newness of spring and show your true colors. Hibernation can be a big “reset” button as it affords us an opportunity to reflect and assess how we will project our lives in the new year. May we seek to Bless others as much as we seek to be blessed by those around us. I am blessed to be held dearly by so many. I too am blessed to have so many whose voices I can hear and whose Hearts I can feel. I look forward to seeing each in the New Year as Spring is waiting in each seed, bulb and bud that will open in due time.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Habit of Excellence

Rinse, Repeat.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle
Thanks to Coach Bungard for posting this quote on his Facebook wall today. A perfect inspiration of wisdom from a wise Coach, past and present.

Speaking of Present.... many say 90% of success is showing up. Being present in body is only a part of the equation. Presence of mind and soul are essential to the balance of success. Putting your heart in something is great! Your mind has to be there as well. The vacation you are planning is only going to be a true time of renewal if you participate in your own escape!
The body may be on the beach, but if the mind is back in the office, at the club, or practice, you loose the benefit of your physical location. Let yourself surrender to the present moment. Become aware of the space you are in. Be intentional. Be authentic. Allow your real present moment to be experienced fully.

How does this lead a champion to the podium? It removes the obstacles that distract from success. Even if your real present moment is a place you are not comfortable with. That which you resist will persist. The nagging unresolved issue(s) will be there to greet you and insist on your attention if you continue to ignore them. Awareness is the first step. Admitting there is an issue. Action will come as you sort through your options and consult your advisers.

Case in Point. This year's winner of the Tour De France was faulted for "attacking" his rival in a moment when it seemed un-sportsmanlike. He took responsibility for his actions and when he had the opportunity to "make it up" he allowed his rival to take the podium for the day at some great expense to himself. In the end they each where held in high esteem by the the sport and remained close friends. Meanwhile Lance Armstrong was able to rally his team to keep their heads and hearts in the moment and abide by some seemingly unfair rules about uniforms and bring some attention to their cause as well as win the team standing for the 2010 Tour.

If you are not a cycling fan and do not get my analogy to being in the moment, please just trust that the moments life presents you are just that.... Presents. An opportunity, a gift. A chance to act in a way that may reflect wisdom, but more.... shows soul.

How does all this gibberish relate to massage therapy for the sporting athlete? I believe when the body is nagging you to pay attention to small aches or pain it is your opportunity to repond with wisdom and soul. "Take the bull by the horns" and get that issue resolved so nothing can stand in your way. Perhaps there are other issues not related to the tissues and the help of a sports psychologist may be in order. Do what ever it takes to reach the podium if that is where you truly belong. When your heart, mind and soul is in the right place, the body will follow.

And remember: the podium upon which you stand may not have a number 1,2 or 3.
It may be just with in reach of someone who loves you and holds you in highest esteem in their heart.After all, isn't Love and respect greater gifts than thunderous applause and trophies?

Monday, July 5, 2010

How did I decide to focus on Sports Massage?

Many clients have asked that question over the years: So, how did you decide to become a Sports Massage Therapist? My first impressions of massage as therapy came while watching Mohamed Ali being attended to by trainers between bouts. That was in the 70's. Then in the 80's Greg Lamond was winning the Tour De France and getting massages between every race. When I saw Great Athletes surrounded by loyal support crew that included massage therapists, I knew I could join the crew. I could add an integral component to their training and performance. I could share in the Victory Dance when they won since it really was a team effort.

I have always tried to "Champion" my clients, family and friends to achieve their dreams. I have often noted that Champions tell the interviewer: "It all just came together and I was so relaxed and in the moment". Focus began for them in their mind and was transferred to their body and experienced in competition. They believed they would win. We define winning as the most desirable outcome. Competitors often race the clock as much as they do their opponents. First place is sweet, but a personal best time is the sweetest victory for many. In a marathon you may have your personal best time and yet be an hour behind the overall winner. You are still a Champion. You put in the training, ate right, rested, got massage and tended to the little nagging injuries. You sacrificed hours of family time and leisure to make your new goal your highest priority. When you hit your mark and reveled in the glory of your accomplishment life became a little sweeter. Every goal you accomplished before just seems like a stepping stone to the current pinnacle.

I will borrow the Proactive behavior Theory from my psychologist who helped me focus on a career track. Small goals are set and achieved to lead to medium goals which are more difficult, but with careful planning can be accomplished as well. Ludicrous goals are those lifetime achievements that take incredible focus and a team of dedicated professionals to support your efforts in accomplishing them. Lance Armstrong is definitely a ludicrous goal setter. As I write this entry he is eying his 8th Overall Winning Podium of the Tour De France. It will take a village to propel him to that position. Good Luck Lance! Even if he retires short of 8 Tour victories he will be in the record books for several years to come and has overcome incredible odds to do it.

Now is the time for you to join me in focusing on a goal. Weight Management of ten pounds or one hundred and ten pounds can be achieved. Perhaps you are simply looking for an edge to improve your training and maximize your performance. Massage Therapy can benefit your body in ways you have not imagined possible. Have you ever taken a long walk in the woods to clear your head? Sometimes massage can be like that. You are paying no particular attention to anything and suddenly your thinking processes become clearer and you choose a course or direction. The fog lifts in your brain as the fresh air benefits every cell in your body. Massage Therapy is literally a fresh air moment on a cellular level for your body. As you relax and breath deeper without using your muscles actively, your circulatory system carries more restorative nutrients and oxygen to every organ and enlivens your entire nervous system to function at its highest natural potential with out foreign stimulants. The brain releases chemistry like an on call pharmacy to "medicate" you with your own prescriptions.

Nature's best keep secrets are unlocked through touch, diet and exercise. Babies come into this world needing love, food and movement. We never outgrow these basics. Even the disabled person needs external stimulation to keep tissues viable. Nutrition in the form of naturally sourced foods coupled with activity that increases the circulation of blood and lymph creates healthier bodies. Massage Therapy allows the body to rest and recover while continuing to benefit from movement. Tissue is manipulated, stretched, kneaded and addressed in such a fashion that the nervous system allows the pharmacy of you body to dispense the correct dose of anti anxiety chemistry. Lymphatic fluids increase in circulation and bolster the immune systems response to fight off stress hormones as well as bacterial infections. (not to be confused with the need for an anti-biotic, consult a physician if you believe you have a treatable infection)

Exercise induces the necessary increased oxygen intake. Just add water! Often after receiving a massage session clients are advised to drink more water. Good Idea! Your body has just had a work out. The muscles had the passive activity that flushed fluids and stimulated nerves. Depending on the vigor of that stimulation you may feel euphoric or energized. Water will assist your body in flushing the metabolic wastes that arise during activity, passive or active and through natural elimination (urination) relieve the body of those toxic wastes. I try to keep a case of water at the office to offer clients a "take along" flush!