Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Deleting the Need to Understand

   Healing Touch has taught me many valuable lessons. One of the most important lessons comes from Dr. Brugh Joy, a contributor to the Healing Touch curriculum. His words of wisdom that I feel is a valuable lesson is to delete the need to understand.

   After taking a Level 1 Healing Touch class, I had a LOT of questions. How does Healing Touch really work on the cellular level? Why do I feel so good after I get a treatment? How have I never heard of this in Nursing School? How can other energy healers see energy and I can't yet?

   Our instructor promptly taught us this valuble lesson. Delete the need to understand. She was completely right. I needed to stop asking questions and trust that what I was doing was helping others. I needed to trust that energy goes where it needs to go and with a strong intention, a treatment will be for the patient's highest good.

   With a technique such as Healing Touch, you can't see energy transferring from the practitioner to a patient. Sometimes it is hard to believe what you can't see. But what I can see is a person's face relax and become peaceful when their face previously showed tension and pain. I can see their breathing slow down and become shallow, where previously they may have been breathing short, ineffective, fast breaths.
    In the ICU setting where I work, I can see their vital signs change. Their heart rate slows down. Their blood pressure decreases. Their oxygen levels increase. On the monitor, I can see the changes I was hoping for.

    Deleting the need to understand the "how's" and the "why's" has helped me to be a better practitioner by learning to trust and believe. I've had many scientific minds ask question after question trying to dissect the technique to figure it all out. But the truth is, a scientific mind is not going to understand that which they cannot see.

   I can show that person the relaxation response from the parasympathetic nervous system as an explanation of how Healing Touch works, but there will be another question behind it about energy. I've gotten used to this type of questioning and usually have some great answers in response.

   The people who choose to experience Healing Touch usually don't care how it works. They know it feels amazing, they feel better afterwards, and usually don't need to know exactly how it works, just that it does work! When their curiousity gets the best of them, they take a Level 1 class to learn for themselves. They too will learn to delete the need to understand and will reap all the benefits of learning a relaxing, nurturing energy treatment.

   To learn more about what Healing Touch is, click here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why its ok to let some friends go

  For as long as I can remember, I maintained friendships far longer than I should have. I believed that once you had been friends with someone for more than a couple of years, spent a vacation or two together, and shared all of your personal intimate secrets with them, you were meant to be friends for life. Friends for life, despite the occasional disagreement or fight. Had I known what I know now, I would have saved myself a few years of betrayal and empty, shallow friendships.

   The truth is: Friendships have expiration dates. Some friendships have a long shelf life and can last as long as you live. Others go sour after a year or so. Each person that comes into our life is there for a reason. That reason may be a lesson to teach us. Perhaps they are meant to be a support system for you in your time of troubles. Sometimes they are an unwavering supply of love when we need it most. A wise friend once told me that our friends can be silver or golden. A silver friend is one you have had in your life as long as you can remember and will always be your friend. Although, your friendship is not as vibrant as you would like. A Golden friend is the one friend who is like a soul sister, shining bright, always there when you need them, and always present in your current life.

    I carried friendships way past their expiration date for many, many years. I had a hard time letting go of what once was. When I realized that I was changing, growing, and evolving, it suddenly dawned on me that my life was taking a turn in the opposite direction of a lot of my friends. It was hard accepting that truth. Opening both eyes and my heart, I really examined the quality of my friendships. It made me think twice about who I let into my life. I realized I had a lot of "party friends". I held on to my "treated me badly on multiple occasions, but we are still friends, friends". Why was I putting my energy into relationships that were past their prime and ready to expire?

    When I started to put all of my energy into discovering my true self, a shift occurred. I realized that I was this amazing, uniquely talented, compassionate, and loving woman and the people I wanted in my life needed to accept, embrace, and honor that. I was finding new spiritual truths and exploring transformational topics. Many of the people in my life didn't understand or accept the path I began to take. For all of those friends who didn't accept me, it was time to let those relationships go. I needed people in my life who wanted my highest good. Friends who loved me for exactly who I am. Once I set my intention to have only true friends in my life, the ones that were not so true easily fell to the wayside.

    Every soul has its own path and purpose. I also had to honor the place those people were at on their own journey even if it didn't align directly with my own. It's ok that those people I once called friends were on a different path. We bumped into each other and became part of each other's lives briefly to help the other learn a lesson and continue on with our journey. It may not be clear at first what that lesson or reason is, but as you grow old, you may discover the answer.

    We are all on our individual journey with people constantly weaving in and out of our lives. There are friendships that belong at different stages of our lives with different versions of who we are for a multitude of reasons. There is no need to harbor ill-will or resentments toward a friendship that has run its course. We can hold that person in our heart and send them love without maintaining a friendship. Many of our friendships will pass, but it's important to honor and find gratitude in the place they held in your life. For the friendships that survive, always show love and gratitude for those souls who walk by your side on this incredible journey we call life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why Having a Mentor is Good for You

  In my life, I have had many mentors in different areas of my life.  Their contribution to who I am today cannot be measured.  The significance of our interactions, lessons learned, and wisdom they have imparted on me have helped in my development as a nurse and a healer.

   I can remember my first mentor in high school.  Mrs. Kelly was an older woman who taught a nursing class in our school as well as the drama club coordinator.  She was in one of the first graduating classes from Boston College School of Nursing.  Her quick wit, passion for nursing, and her friendly nature drew me to her.   I took her classes all 4 years of high school.  In my senior year of high school, I was her "Nursing Extern" where my role was to help teach the previous years classes and to act as a mentor to the younger aspiring nurses in the class.   She trusted and believed in me.  I knew from her guidance that I would become an excellent nurse one day.   Her influence was so great, that I chose to attend the same nursing school that she attended.

    As a new graduate ICU nurse, I had older nurses that I looked up to for guidance.  It was important to me to have easy-going experienced nurses I could ask questions to and not feel threatened or god-forbid, stupid.  Even after being a nurse for 11 years, I still feel the need to have a nurse mentor.  The world of medicine is always changing so no matter how much I think I know, there is always more to learn.
   As I began taking courses in Healing Touch, I easily identified two amazing nurses and Certified Healing Touch Practitioners that I looked up to as mentors.  When my apprenticeship began after taking Level 4, I chose the first person I thought of who had helped in my development as a healer for the previous 6 months.  Donna is a beautiful soul whose smile radiates love and kindness.  She led a monthly support group where those who have taken Healing Touch classes can come to practice the techniques they've learned, discuss our experiences, and be around like-minded individuals.  It was at these groups that I developed a close friendship with Donna.  When Donna pinned me at my pinning ceremony, I knew that I had chosen a mentor who I not only looked up to, but also loved dearly.  Although I am now myself a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner, I still consider Donna my mentor as someone I can go to with concerns, questions, or to share my experiences.

   My second lovely honorary Healing Touch mentor is my compassionate friend Trish.  I was blessed with working with Trish for a year in the same hospital during my apprenticeship year.  We would frequently discuss Healing Touch, my struggles with working in a stressful work environment, and how to keep doing the work by staying centered and grounded.  I began helping in her Level 1 Healing Touch classes so that I could learn from one of the best.  Each time I am in her class, I learn more about Healing Touch, myself, and how to be a more compassionate ICU nurse.  Our friendship has grown over the past few years that I even consider her a surrogate mother for me.

   I've also found mentors in practitioners that I see to maintain my own health and wellness.   My acupuncturist Justin has become a mentor in so many different ways.  Although we do not practice the same technique, both are energy therapies and complement each other
well.  I look up to him in how he interacts with his clients, how he manages a patient case-load, and how he runs his practice.  I strive in many ways to have a practice just like him where the patient feels comfortable, well-cared for, and in a partnership with their practitioner.  I look forward to our conversations that center around how to better take care of ourselves first so that we can then be there for our patients.  I also learn an incredible amount about Chinese medicine, Qi movement, and nutrition.

   Having mentors in your life is so important to help in your development.  This is true for everyone.  For new mothers, they tend to look toward their mothers, grandmothers, and friends who have already had a baby to guide a young mother on raising a child.  In the business world, a higher up in the company might mentor a young executive on how to achieve success in business.

  When choosing someone as a mentor, it's important to find someone who you trust, feel comfortable going to with questions, and have a strong rapport.   They should be someone you admire.  Their contributions to your personal and professional life will last a lifetime, so make sure their values match closely with your own.

   We are always growing and evolving.  Often times, we need the guidance of those who have been where we are to help us continue to grow in our chosen paths or professions.   By having mentors in our life, we benefit from their support, wisdom, and experiences.  The most surprising benefit from the relationship will most likely be what your mentor receives from you.  As a mentorship is a two-way street, the mentor is blessed with learning from you.  We are all unique with beautiful talents and ideas to share.    I have been asked by a dear friend to be her mentor in Healing Touch.  I am so blessed to be able to share my knowledge and guidance with her as she embarks on her own journey.  I believe with all of the amazing mentors in my life, they have molded me to be exactly who she will need as a mentor.

Have you thought about the inspirational people in your life who have mentored you?  Share your stories below.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The first time I saw Healing Touch used on my patient

   In 2011, I was working a typical night shift in the ICU where your patient rolls in the door from a procedure right at change of shift. My patient just had an arterial clot removed from his right lower leg during an Interventional Radiology procedure. He was a big guy, weighing close to 300 pounds.

   His right foot was reacting to the sudden rush of new blood returning to his foot and began to spasm uncontrollably.  This condition is called a reperfusion spasm.  He was screaming at the top of his lungs and his foot was starting to turn blue. I rushed back and forth to our Pyxis (medication administration unit) multiple times for pain medications. I had given him 10mg of morphine and 10mg of dilaudid. It was as if I had never even given them to him. 

   After informing the doctor of his condition, we tried ativan for his anxiety and valium for his spasms. Again, no relief. At this point, I had no idea what to do. His wife and sister watched as he writhed in agony and I stood there helpless with no idea how to help him. I decided to go for reinforcements and grab my charge nurse for her opinion.

   Sierra Baker was the charge nurse that night and was always quick to help in any situation. When I told her how much medication I had given him, we both knew that no matter how much we gave, he would not respond. Suddenly she placed her hands over his right lower leg and started to brush her hands around his leg, without actually touching it. My first reaction was "What the hell are you doing??" Within a minute or so of her brushing the air above his leg, his foot started to slowly relax and the spasm disappeared. His coloring returned to his foot! He let out a huge sigh of relief and blurted out "Ahhhh, thank you!"

   His wife, sister, and I looked at each other wild-eyed and shocked. None of us could believe what we just saw. My patient was finally resting comfortably and pain free. Sierra and I left the room to allow him time to spend with his family. I asked her "What on earth were you doing". She told me she had just taken a Level 1 Healing Touch Class a few weeks ago and this technique helps to take away pain. 

   We went back in the room to ask him what he had experienced. He told us that he knew she was moving his energy and could feel the pain releasing. He had received Reiki in the past and knew she was doing energy work similar to Reiki. It dawned on me that I had seen my grandmother do this on many occasions whenever someone had a headache. She would lovingly brush her hands around someone's head and the headache would magically disappear. I had no idea she was doing Energy work.

   Listening to his experience, watching his pain disappear, and realizing I could use this technique in an instant intrigued me. I wanted to learn more. I knew I would take this class. It took another 7 months and a Traumatic Brain Injury to get me there, but I finally took my first Level 1 Healing Touch class. This time, it was my own pain that was floating away.  Read about my dramatic transformation of How a Traumatic Brain Injury turned me into an Energy Healer.

To learn more about Healing Touch, click here

Monday, March 3, 2014

Yoga Love

   For over 2 years now, I have been head-over-barefeet in love with yoga!  I'm sure by now you have heard that a yoga practice is good for your health.  Yoga has countless benefits that includes increased flexibility and strength, relaxation, improves your heart health, decreases stress, and so much more.

   When I first started yoga, I found that I felt more at peace after each class.  I left each class with a "yoga glow".  I was addicted to the feel good state that yoga produced.  I had no idea that by practicing yoga, I was improving my physical body, my emotional state, and deepening my spiritual connection.

   Yoga is based on postures or "asanas" that are either held for many breaths or flowed through with breath to movement.  Each posture assists in opening chakras (energy centers) that are aligned along your spinal column.   The opening of these chakras is what produces the balancing of your mind, body, and spirit.  With your breath, you are moving the flow of energy (also known as Prana or Qi) throughout your body.

   When you are holding different postures, different muscle groups are activated.  This produces an increase in strength, muscle tone, and a lengthening of the muscle fibers.  Many of the postures require you to hold your own body weight in new ways which helps to develop muscle memory.   My balance significantly improved with yoga.  I suddenly could balance my entire body on just my hands in Crow Pose, or balance on one leg while pulling the other one behind me towards my head in Dancers Pose.  I even discovered how to balance on my forearms and head to do a Headstand!

   I use to find that after working out at the gym I would have stiffness in my joints.  Once I began a yoga practice, I stopped experiencing this joint pain.  I improved my joint mobility along with my flexibility.  I used to gauge my flexibility on being able to touch my toes.  I now know that I can touch my toes, wrap my arms behind my legs and bring my entire torso against my legs in a Forward Fold all thanks to yoga.  Back pain that once plagued me on a daily basis, evaporated into thin air as I practiced back strengthening postures.

   Yoga focuses most importantly on the breath.  When you are focusing deeply on your inhale and exhale, your mind is calm and clear.  You are mindfully practicing yoga breath to breath.  You are living in the moment, in the now.   Ugayi breath (yogic breath) has helped to increase my lung capacity.  I found that when I did other forms of aerobic activity, the evolution of my Ugayi breath helped me to get through more strenuous activities without feeling shortness of breath.  Ugayi breath also helped me to be a better Healing Touch Practitioner as I was better able to cultivate universal energy to use during treatments.

   The stress reduction and relaxation that yoga produces is truly an amazing benefit.  Focusing on the here and now during a yoga class, stops you from thinking about all the troubles you have in your life.  Even if the stress relief is for just one hour, thats an hour of well-being your body needs and deserves.  At the end of each yoga class, your body rests flat on the floor in Savasana.  You have 2-5 minutes of quiet, blissful, serenity where your mind can go blank and retreat to a meditative state.  My spiritual connection to something greater than myself has deepened to a level I never knew was possible.

   At the beginning of each yoga class, the instructor will usually ask that you to set an intention.  An intention is a goal, dedication, or purpose that you aim to achieve from your yoga practice.  This can be an intention you set for yourself or for someone else you know.  Depending on how I feel each day, my intentions can differ greatly.  Somedays my intention is to maintain balance.  Balance in my personal life, in my day to day activities, and in my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual state.  Other times, my intention is to spread love, peace, and happiness to those around me and in the world.  Setting an intention for my yoga practice helps me to focus and dedicate my moving meditation to something important in my life.

   I've learned countless lessons during my yoga classes.  The most important is that this is my yoga PRACTICE, not yoga perfect.   It's ok if I can't figure out that arm-balance or inversion.  I can always try again later.  I may fall out of a balancing posture, but that just means I need to honor my body where it is that day.  Non-judgment and acceptance are common themes in a yoga room.   When I am on my mat, I am improving my mind, body and spirit and that's all that matters.  By showing up, I have already accomplished so much that day.

   Yoga has given me so many beautiful benefits, I can't help but dedicate my love to my yoga practice.  Yoga has helped me to become a better person, connect with a community of like-minded, peaceful yogis, and given me the tools to live a healthy, happy life full of gratitude.

  Are you ready to start your yoga practice?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Your Past Does NOT Define You

   Whenever I tell people the story of how I grew up, their response is always, "How are you so normal??"  I grew up in a dysfunctional home.  I was raised primarily by my father while my mother spent the majority of my life in a mental hospital.  She suffered from bipolar disorder with psychotic episodes, alcoholism, and drug addiction.  She was also incredibly violent, which required numerous restraining orders. Visits from the police and frequent suicide attempts became familiar scenes for our family.  Up until the age of 18 however, she was still part of our family, wreaking havoc and tormenting our family under our roof.

   My mother enjoyed her attempts at sabotaging my schooling, repeatedly telling me I "was going to be nothing and be fat and ugly just like her", and attacking me while I slept.  The teenage years that were already difficult enough with getting bullied in high school were ten times more challenging when your home life was chaotic and downright scary.

   As I watched her failures in life, my aspirations to succeed only grew stronger.  When she told me I was going to be "fat and ugly", I joined a gym and learned how to care for my physical body.  When she told me I wouldn't amount to anything, I strived harder in school to get great grades and was granted multiple scholarships to attend Boston College.  I focused so much on my education, I became the Valedictorian of Boston College's School of Nursing.    I never believed the lies that she told me.  I knew I was a smart, beautiful, talented woman who was destined for great things.  Thank god, many wonderful people were in my life to tell me those positive things.

   I never looked at the circumstances of my childhood as a crutch or an excuse as to why I couldn't accomplish my dreams, live a healthy, happy life,  or love another unconditionally.  I don't feel tainted or gipped of a childhood.  Despite the dysfunction, I still felt I had a great childhood with lots of wonderful memories with my 3 siblings.  I refused to let my life be defined by my mothers mental illness and the adversity I faced.

   Often times, young people in this type of situation create dysfunction in their own lives because that is all they know.  They don't know another way to live.  They succumb to drugs, alcohol, depression, criminal activity, and a lack of motivation to succeed in life.    

   So how am I normal?  Easy.  I never let my past define me.  I believed enough in myself to know that I could be and do whatever it was my beautiful heart desired.  I am my own person, creating my own future.  Most importantly, I have the capacity to forgive.  I forgive my mother for being who she was, as I'm sure her behavior and disease stemmed from her own childhood traumas.  She did only what she knew, how to live a dysfunctional life.  The cycle of dysfunction stops here with me.  I strive to be the best person I can be.

   My mother will always be my mother, but I choose not to have her in my life because it is not what is healthiest for me.  As an adult, I can make that decision without guilt or regret.  I choose to have happy, healthy, positive people in my life that help me to be a better person.  I wish her happiness in wherever her life takes her.

   Everyone has a past.  Many people deal with trauma, tragedy, and adversity.  It's how you grow from these events, learn from them, and move forward in your life with a healthy attitude, perspective, and determination.  There is strength in acknowledging the past, and especially acknowledging the lessons learned from your past.  But never let the events of your past hinder your future or prevent you from your dreams.  Your past does not define who you are today.  YOU define who you are today by being the best version of yourself right NOW.

Friday, February 21, 2014

10 Steps to Better Self-Care

   Today's world is fast paced, on the go, and more, more, more. We are contantly lighting the candle at both ends, exhausting ourselves with work, social outings, and family obligations. Too often we forget to take good care of ourselves. The words "Self-Care" are foreign to many busy people out there. Self-Care are the things you do for yourself to help your mind, body, and spirit work harmoniously. Taking care of yourself should always be your priority. Once you burn yourself out, you are no good to the rest of the people in your life. Here are 10 steps to better Self-Care.

1. Listen to Your Body

   This is the number one problem I see with a lot of my clients. Your body is giving you clues on a daily basis and it is up to you to listen to it. If you are tired, then you need to get more sleep. If your bowel movements are erratic, then you need to pay better attention to your nutrition. Have you ever ignored your body for the entire stressful, overwheling week and by the weekend you are sick and can barely get out of bed? Burning yourself out will certainly lead to a weakened immune system and set yourself up for illness and injury. By listening to your body, you can give your body the proper nutrients, relaxation, and rest it needs.

2. Get Adequate Sleep

   This is referring to number 1. If you are yawning all day long and lacking energy to go about your day, your sleep habits may very well be the culprit. You may think that 6 hours of sleep is enough to get you through your day, but on average you should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep. Your work and productivity will flourish during the day if you are well rested and clear headed.
    If your loved one says that you snore or stop breathing when you are sleeping, then you may have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where you periodically stop breathing during the night. Your body does not get adequate oxygenation. When your oxygen levels drop, your body will wake up in order to take a deep breath to correct itself. This will cause frequent periods of waking up during the night and a very poor night of sleep. This condition can lead to heart and lung disease and requires a visit to your doctor ASAP!

3. Physical Activity
   Sitting all day can cause you to gain weight, become depressed, and increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes. When you exercise, your body releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins and serotonin. These chemicals will help you to feel happier, balanced, and less anxious. Exercise can consist of weight lifting, cardio, yoga, hiking, walking, running, or even sex. You also will get stronger muscle tone, a cardiovascular workout, and a decrease chance of heart disease. So get your body moving, it will thank you!

4. Alone time

   We are so used to having every minute of our day planned out, that we rarely take the time to just be alone. Taking time away from friends and family for a night is completely ok and in no way selfish. It's important that you find time to just be you. No one to please, no one to answer to, and no one to entertain. In this alone time, do something that nourishes you. Whether that is taking a long bath, listening to music, or reading a book, do something that is purely just for you. Your significant other and children will appreciate the calm and relaxed version of you in place of the stressed out workaholic.

5. Stop trying to please

   People pleasing can become a huge burden. With your constant drive to make everyone happy, you forget to make yourself happy. It takes you away from what is best for you. Plus, realistically, you can't please everyone, so stop trying to please people at all. Focus on what makes you happy.

6. Be Kind to Yourself

   We are all so hard on ourselves for each mistake we make or forgetful moment. None of us are perfect. So be kind to yourself when you veer off your path. Pick yourself up and do better tomorrow. Forgive yourself for whatever you feel you did wrong. Stressing and worrying constantly about the past is only going to bring more stress and more worry. Be kind to yourself on a daily basis and remember you are human, just like the rest of us.

7. Laugh

   Laughter really is the best medicine. Many times, people get stuck in their uber professional, serious mode. They forget how to have fun and laugh. Even if nothing is funny, just start laughing. It shockingly increases your mood and releases feel-good chemicals. Laugh at yourself once in awhile, it can be very humbling.

8. Pamper Yourself

   This can be getting a massage, a Healing Touch treatment, a facial, or pedicure. Do something that requires someone else to service you. When you feel relaxed, your body has time to reset, rejuvenate, and heal. When you are so used to doing everything for your loved ones, it's nice when someone else is doing something for you. Schedule these sessions at least once a month.

9. Meditate 

   Meditation can be extremely beneficial if done for just 5 minutes a day. Shutting your mind off from outside distraction, noise, and ruminating thoughts will help to calm, relax, and center you. Focus on your breathing. Try and take slow, deliberate inhalations and exhalations. Relax all of the muscles in your body. If you find that you can't stop your mind from wandering, say a simple mantra of 3 words to keep you focused. I like to use, Healing, Happiness, and Love. Meditation is essential for a healthy mind, body, and spirit.

10. Love

   Love yourself and everyone around you unconditionally. The more you love, the more love comes back to you. Love is the core of our existence. So go ahead and spread the love. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you.