For February's newsletter, I wanted to share a meditation for working with the energetic heart. This meditation is commonly taught, so you may have heard of it before. It's called the loving-kindness mediation aka metta meditation. It's relatively simple and doesn't need to be a large time commitment, but can be a profound tool for growing compassion for yourself and others. This article by Thich Nhat Hahn on Cultivating Compassion is a wonderful resource to learn more about the practice.
I have found the transformative nature of this meditation to be cumulative over time. I would suggest trying to commit to a daily practice for at least 40 days. One thing that I have found exciting in my own practice is how much I look forward to picking people to send extra love nuggets to each day.
Here is a link to a video I made with my favorite variation of it. There are a lot of resources and scripts that can be found online. I have found it helpful to try out different variations before settling on what feels most meaningful for me.
Happy meditating and sending you so much love,
I hope you are enjoying the additional daylight each day and that your holiday season went well. I’m a little late on the “Happy New Year” train, but I wanted to say it anyway. Happy New Year! Wishing you all the best in this next year and beyond.
I'm continuing to feel super grateful to be practicing, to be busy, and be able to provide some much needed support to clients during this time. I deeply believe that massage + bodywork can be a potent therapy for navigating tough times. Over the past year, I've been incorporating more Craniosacral and Myofascial work into my practice. I’m looking forward to deepening my understanding of these modalities and hopefully doing some more training in 2022. As always, I’m continuing to learn more about Chinese Medicine and herbalism and am stoked to read a couple books on these subjects that I got for Christmas.
I'm starting to plan the newsletters for this next year. Is there anything that you have been wanting to know more about in terms of pain and stress management, benefits of massage + bodywork, at-home treatment/self-massage, and/or Chinese Medicine? I’d love to hear what you are interested in learning more about. Please reply to this email and let me know!
I'm continuing to mask and have clients remain masked during sessions. Their is an air purifier in the room and the table + room are being sanitized between clients. There is also extra time between clients to allow the air in the room to circulate.
I do have a 24 hour cancellation policy, but do not charge anyone that has to cancel within 24 hours due to illness (including COVID symptoms or exposure).
Please don't come to your appointment if you are: experiencing COVID symptoms, know that you have been exposed, or if you or someone you share a dwelling with is waiting for test results after a potential exposure. Also please don't come in if you are feeling sick, in general. It's not great to get bodywork when you are unwell. Your body needs time to focus on healing from what is making you feel unwell.
I am always happy to discuss the situation before your appointment if you are unsure about whether you should come in. Feel free to email me at email@example.com
Read about what to expect when you come in and COVID 19 procedures here.
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexel
Gift certificates are available if you are interested in gifting a massage + bodywork session to a friend or family member for the holidays. Gift certificates can also be a great way to show appreciation for coworkers, childcare workers, teachers and/or anyone that's been helping you out. Please email me directly to purchase. I will send you an invoice to be paid online and can mail the gift certificate to your or the recipient.
A couple homemade gift ideas
Here are my favorite scented epsom salt and sugar scrub recipes. They are super easy to mix up and are such a treat. Great for anyone that doesn't need a lot of "things."
Relaxing Epsom Salts
2 cups epsom salt
1 teaspoon carrier oil (almond, olive, grapeseed or jojoba)
15 drops of lavender essential oil
Mix the ingredients in a large bowl until oils are evenly dispersed. Transfer to glass pint jar. Label and decorate jar.
Instructions for use: add 1/2 cup to hot bath, swirl to dissolve.
*lavender essential oil can be swapped out for other essential oils. Check out this article on which essential oils are safe for the bathtub and which aren't.
Peppermint Body Scrub
3/4 cup sugar
6 Tablespoons carrier oil (almond, olive, grapeseed or jojoba)
10-14 drops of peppermint essential oil
Mix ingredients until evenly dispersed. Transfer to 8 oz jar. Label and decorate jar.
Instructions for use: scrub a small amount over skin in the shower. Rinse off. Be sure to wash hands well before touching face or eyes.
I also wanted to shout out a couple local makers and service providers if you are looking for more ideas.
Locally owned gift shops that feature handmade gifts and local artists:
Rock Paper Scissors Goods
I Like You and I Like You Too
Deb at Lustre Skin Care
Moon Palace Books
Cabinet of Curious Clay
Please support local small businesses this year (and every year)!
Happy Holidays from me to you!
It feels like the transition into autumn happened overnight. Welcome, Autumn!
Summer is fun AND I often appreciate getting back to a more routine and calm pace in the autumn. A couple other things I love about autumn: Halloween, my partner’s delicious butternut squash soup, seeing the leaves change into vibrant yellows, reds, and oranges, putting on sweaters, and getting to celebrate my anniversary at Wellness Minneapolis!
Since it will be my 5 year anniversary this year, I’d like to take you for a little walk down memory lane. In 2016, I set up shop at Wellness Minneapolis when they moved into the current location at 4450 Nicollet Ave. Halloween was my first day and I remember being really nervous and excited.
During school, I had pegged Wellness Minneapolis as a place I wanted to work at after I had practiced for awhile and honed my skills. This was my 5 year plan, but then an opportunity to join the team came approximately 6 months after I graduated and I had to take it! I had been practicing shiatsu (and some massage) while I finished the massage portion of my school. I have some real world experience under my belt, but not much. Starting a private practice felt daunting and super exciting. With the help of the Wellness Minneapolis team and the support of you as clients, I've developed into a much more confident and grounded practitioner over the last 5 years.
One of the things that I have always appreciated about Wellness Minneapolis is the fact that it’s a team of practitioners. That means a team to bounce ideas off of, refer to, plus share marketing and resources with. Dr. Barrett and Jesse Haas have built a wonderful community. I feel honored to have worked with so many amazing practitioners and staff over the last 5 years.
I also appreciate you!! Over the last 5 years, I have worked with 600+ clients. That’s 600+ different people. I feel super grateful to all of you that have come in as clients and worked with me. I’ve learned something from each and every one of you and especially appreciate those that I have gotten to work with over long periods of time. There is something magical about bodywork and I’m so fortunate to be a part of your healing journey. Thank you for supporting me and my business. Looking forward to more bodywork magic in the next year(s).
As we move into the transition between the outward (yang) energy of summer and inward (yin) energy of fall we find ourselves in the sweet balance of the Earth element. This is a great time to reconnect with a feeling of balance, grounding and nourishment.
The organ systems that are associated with the Earth element, the Spleen and Stomach, are responsible for gathering in the food and drink that we consume and transforming it into energy to be dispersed throughout the body. This function connects these organs deeply with the digestive system and our sense of nourishment. Proper functioning of these organ systems means that we have abundant energy to sustain our activities, digestion is smooth, and our bodies are supple and strong. If there is imbalance in the Earth element, digestive dysfunctions such as bloating, gas, IBS, GERD, Acid reflux, diarrhea and constipation can occur.
A great way to support your Spleen and Stomach organ systems is to focus on what and how you are eating. Here are some general tips for supporting the Earth element in this role:
The Earth element is connected to the overall energy of a person. Chronic low energy could be attributed to weak Spleen Qi (energy) due to it's inability to efficiently transform food and drink to energy for the body. Weak Spleen Qi can also show up as weakness in the muscles and limbs. Supporting your Spleen Qi through the tips above can help. Additionally, adding strength training to your exercise routine can be a great way to support the Spleen organ system. In general, light/moderate exercise each day is optimum. Over exercising can be depleting for some people.
The Spirit of the Spleen organ system is the Yi or the Intellect. It is connected to our ability to focus, concentrate and memorize. Supporting your Spleen organ system and the Earth element as a whole can be a great way to bolster these abilities, especially if you are in school or a job that demands a lot of mental engagement. Consider limiting social media/news and establishing boundaries around screen time.
When in balance, the Earth element is connected to the feelings of openness and fairness. When imbalanced, the Spleen is prone to worry and anxiety. Excessive worry and anxiety can also deplete the Spleen over time. Learning healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with these emotions if they become excessive can be beneficial. Therapy can be a great tool for this as well as journaling. I sometimes like to do a simple breathing exercise where I focus on breathing in for a count of 4 and breathing out for a count of 4. Once I have evened out my breath, I focus on breathing out any worry and anxiety and breathing in openness and fairness. I also enjoy the Transforming Anxiety podcast by Kelly Hanlin McCormick that focuses on looking at the way we think about anxiety.
I hope this info and tips are helpful as we move into the late summer season! Please reach out if you have any questions or feedback.
Earth Element Associations
Season: Late Summer
Sense Organ: Mouth
Balanced emotions: Openness and Fairness
Imbalanced emotions: Worry and Anixety
Photo credit: Dustin Humes on Unsplash
With the heat wave a couple weeks ago, the summer solstice and today's steaminess, I'm feeling the effects of the Fire element hard and fast this summer. That means that my Heart organ system is feeling it too. I'm thinking that you might be feeling this as well. In this month's newsletter, I'm going to take the opportunity to talk a little bit about the Fire Element, the Heart organ system and share with you some of my favorite Heart love tools.
In Chinese Medicine, summer is associated with the Fire Element. This means that the qualities of the Fire Element are most pronounced. It is also the time of year to spend extra attention tending to the ways that this element presents itself in your own body. In general, imbalances in an element or the organ systems associated with it tend to be more pronounced in the season of that element.
Other associations with the Fire Element:
With COVID19 restrictions loosening and the case numbers going down, the opportunity to make up for lost connecting time is here. That coupled with the usual Minnesota summer energy, there is a lot of outward movement happening. This can feel really good and also intense for some of us. This is where tending to our Hearts comes in. For me, there is a delicate balance between connecting and taking breaks. Finding this balance can be a great self-care tool. Some other ways that you can connect with and support your Heart this summer (and always) are:
I hope you found this helpful and enjoy trying out some of these Heart love tools. If you already have a Heart love toolbox I'd love to hear what is in it.
In the midst of the pandemic, I have been taking some private lessons to learn more about Craniosacral Therapy (CST). I was drawn to this modality because it is very gentle and can be helpful for creating shifts in chronically tight areas of the body around the head, spine and sacrum. I've been integrating CST techniques into sessions with clients who are experiencing headaches, neck/shoulder tension, digestive concerns and low back/hip pain. The feedback has been very positive! Clients seem to find these techniques as an invitation for deep rest and have experienced less pain/tension after the session. I'd love to explore these techniques with you in your next massage, shiatsu or Chi Nei Tsang (abdominal massage) session, if you are interested. Craniosacral Therapy is now also being offered as a stand alone appointment type where we can spend a full 60 minutes working in this gentle and profound way.
What is Craniosacral Therapy (CST)?
Craniosacral therapy is a gentle bodywork therapy that focuses on releasing restrictions in the soft tissue around the central nervous system. The techniques center around the head, spine, sacrum and the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds these structures. By tuning into the craniosacral rhythm, the therapist can assess where restrictions may be occurring and use gentle manipulation to ease restrictions and allow for an optimum craniosacral rhythm which supports overall vitality.
Craniosacral Therapy can address many complex nervous system dysfunctions including concussions, traumatic brain injuries, scoliosis, PTSD, etc. As a new therapist to this modality, I feel comfortable addressing these complaints/disorders:
What is a CST session like?
During a Craniosacral Therapy session, you will be laying face up on the massage table fully clothed. I will first assess your craniosacral rhythm by lightly placing my hands on certain areas of the body to “listen” to the rhythm. This gives me an idea of the quality of your rhythm as well as where any restrictions in the soft tissue might be. I will then use gentle techniques on the head, sacrum, or along the spine to release areas of restriction as well as increase movement and ease of flow of the cerebrospinal fluid. The amount of pressure is usually no more than the weight of a nickel. You may feel physical or energetic shifts as we work. You may also experience an increased sense of wellbeing and vitality. Many of my clients have stated that they feel a deep sense of calm, relaxation and balance after CST sessions.
***I recommend scheduling a 60 minute session if you would like to do a full CST session. Techniques can also be incorporated into a longer session 75 + minute massage, shiatsu or Chi Nei Tsang (abdominal massage) session if you are interested in getting a taste of what CST feels like and how it can help you with your session goals.
Photo credit: Emma Freeman
The daffodils are blooming, which means it's time for my yearly PSA on supporting the Wood element through spring. I like to highlight this each year, because spring is a season that can be especially challenging for folks. There is a lot of upward and outward energy. This can feel great after the quiet of winter, but also pretty intense. For me, focusing on harnessing and moving my Wood energy helps me to enjoy the beauty of the season.
What is the Wood element?
According to Chinese Medicine, springtime is associated with the Wood element and the Liver and Gallbladder organ systems. The Liver organ system is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi in the body and connected to the sinews and tendons, the menstrual cycle, and digestion. The balanced emotions associated with it are generosity and kindness. The unbalanced emotions are frustration and anger. The Liver also plays a big role in creativity, developing new ideas, and planning. The Gallbladder organ system stores and secretes bile and controls the sinews. It is key in decision making, moving the creative energy of the Liver into fruition and affects the dreams.
Why are the Liver and Gallbladder organ systems so important?
Disharmony in the Liver and Gallbladder organ systems are very common in our culture and tend to become more pronounced in the spring. One of the most common Liver disharmonies is Liver Qi stagnation. This means that the Qi (energy) of the Liver organ system is stuck and not moving smoothly. If the Liver Qi is not moving smoothly the Qi of the whole body is affected along with other major functions in the body like digestion and menstruation.
Stress, anxiety, and feelings of not living out your life's purpose can all play a role in the Qi of the Liver becoming stagnant over time. Symptoms of Liver Qi stagnation include neck and shoulder pain, eye problems (floaters, bloodshot eyes, blurry vision), headaches, feelings of anger, frustration and irritability, fullness in the upper abdomen, pain along the ribs, depressions, signing, PMS, breast distention and tenderness, and other menstrual irregularities. If you are prone to these symptoms it would be beneficial to focus on keeping your Liver Qi energy flowing smoothly throughout the whole year, but especially during the spring.
What are my favorite ways to support the Wood element and the Liver and Gallbadder organ systems?
I hope these ideas help you feel more supported this spring.
As we round the one year mark of pandemic life, I find myself reflecting on my dedication to promoting relaxation for my clients. For me, relaxation is the key to an effective treatment no matter what the primary goal of the session. In this blog, I'll give a brief overview of how bodywork promotes relaxation through the nervous system and why that is important for your overall health.
During a bodywork session, therapeutic touch directly on your skin or through clothing is used to send signals to your autonomic nervous system through the peripheral nerves. Your autonomic nervous system then communicates with it's two branches, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, to calm the former and activate the latter.
This is important because many of us live in bodies where the sympathetic nervous system is on overdrive. This system is designed to be activated during emergent situations, but not everyday. When it is overactivated, you may find yourself in a constant state of fight, flight or freeze. This can lead to increased levels of cortisol and other stress hormones which can cause inflammation and pain. Other symptoms of an overactive sympathetic nervous system may include high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, weight gain and decreased memory and concentration.
By activating the parasympathetic nervous system through touch, these affects of chronic stress are decreased. Your body can focus on conserving and storing resources for everyday processes such as digestion, elimination, restful sleep, and maintaining an even heart and breath rate. Decreased stress hormones such as cortisol can lower inflammation and pain in the body. In this way, bodywork can have a profound effect on your whole body.
Being relaxed during a session also allows for deeper work to be received and assimilated into the body so that you have less pain and feel more energetically balanced. After your bodywork session, the benefits can be perpetuated by giving yourself some time after your appointment to take a walk, do some light stretch and rest before you move back into work or a stressful home environment.
I bought these tulips on Tuesday as a pick me up during this cold spell and a reminder that winter is not forever. I wanted to share them with you in case you are in need of the same reminder. Winter is not forever. In fact, spring is on the way and I have been noticing the shift of seasons in my body despite this week being really cold here in Minnesota. To me, it feels like something is slowly growing and expanding inside of me. Do you feel that too?
In case you need more evidence that spring is on the way, today marks the first day of the Lunar New Year, a 15 day festival celebrated by Chinese and many other Asian cultures as the beginning of spring and the new year. The festival starts on the first new moon and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar. In Chinese Medicine, this is the time of year when the winter Water element energy starts to move into spring Wood element energy. That means that right now is a great time to start harnessing that Wood element energy through your practices.
Wood element energy is expansiveness and creative. This makes the spring season a great time to start new projects, develop new habits and get creative. The Wood element is also associated with the color green, sour tasting foods and the Liver and Gallbladder organ systems. Because Wood element energy can be strong and expansive it can also cause discomfort in the body. This usually manifests as headaches, neck and shoulder pain, feelings of stuckness and depression.
A simple way to work with Wood energy is to get your body moving. Shaking, bouncing and tapping are all great ways to move stuck energy in a short amount of time. Here is a short video on shaking and bouncing that I made. I would also highly recommend dancing for moving stuck energy. All dancing will work, but I really enjoyed the class I took at Pony Sweat recently per a friend's recommendation. It moved the funk right out of me and moved the joy in. The classes are self-described as a "fiercely noncompetitive dance aerobics celebration" and can be done live or you can rent a recorded class to do on your own time. I really appreciated that the instructor encouraged the participants to listen to their bodies and only do what felt good. Also the music was great! Just thought I would share in case you were looking for some new ways to move your body.
Amy Daws is a trained Therapeutic Massage, Shiatsu, and Chi Nei Tsang therapist. She is interested in the way that these modalities can bring healing and joy to people's lives.