Archive | July, 2014

The New Health Insurance: Heading Off A Crisis

25 Jul

As I mentioned in my last post, health insurance is gambling: I’ll pay this insurance company to save me from a health crisis, hoping I’ll never have to use their services! Nobody wants to get sick; we would like to envision ourselves as oldsters, still healthy in mind and body, playing golf or swimming at the rec center, taking classes in ancient Greek, etc.

There’s another way to insure your health, and like health insurance from an insurance company, it requires a monthly (or more frequent) investment. As it turns out, in order to maximize the possibility of that beautiful picture of old age, we need to start when we’re young.  By the time we’re old, we’ve already made those bad decisions, had those accidents, experienced all that stress…it’s harder to turn our bodies around at that time.  However as younger people, we have a choice to help ourselves attain the best health possible.

There are many, many ways to take care of yourself and increase your chance of aging gracefully. The following are the practices that help me the most, and why I value them.

Visceral Manipulation: VM as taught at the Barral Institute is a hands-on modality that entails sensing restrictions in the web of connective tissue within the body. Also known as fascia, connective tissue surrounds and supports our organs, arteries and veins, muscles, bones, nerves…everything! Physical trauma and emotional upheaval can cause the connective fibers to draw up into “knots”.  These restrictions can keep our bodies from functioning well, and often cause secondary problems. For example, a car accident causes a head injury, which causes a restriction in the connective tissue, which travels down to the bladder, causing a secondary problem of incontinence. I love Visceral Manipulation; it’s very gentle and non-invasive, and not only helps existing and obvious problems, but also can prevent problems from occurring. I also receive VM to help me process emotional issues- don’t forget that when we don’t express our strong emotions, we often store them in our bodies, where they can start that process of restricting the connective tissue and turning into physical ailments.  Don’t go there, address your emotions sooner rather than later!

Massage: Because we store both physical and emotional stress in our bodies, it’s a great idea to let off that steam so it doesn’t accumulate, wouldn’t you agree? Massage feels good, helps get rid of mental and physical knots, and boosts your immune system. I get massage or another form of bodywork once every two weeks, or more often when I’m under a lot of stress. It helps immensely!

Meditation: Ever hear of your “small, still voice”? Mine often beckons me to sit and meditate, or do a walking meditation. “Slow down! Breathe…” , it says. Meditation helps us to observe our thoughts; when you can do that, you stop becoming a slave to them. You can say, “Oh, that’s a thought about fear…let me sit with that a little. Ah, I’m fearful because what he said reminded me of that thing that happened 20 years ago…I guess I don’t have to react this way…I guess I’ll breathe first.” Breathing leads me to another wonderful practice…

Yoga: It’s important to both stretch and strengthen your body; yoga does both! If your muscles are warmed up and stretched out, they’ll react better to falls and other accidents than tight muscles would. Yoga also encourages you to breathe, which according to Andrew Weil, M.D. and health guru, is the single most important thing you can do to improve your health. Expand your belly, then your middle, then the top of your lungs on your inhale; reverse that order on your exhale. Try it, you’ll oxygenate your cells and feel and think better!

Chi Gung: There are subtle, vibrational aspects of the human body and mind that should not be ignored- they make up who we are, just as our “grosser” body parts do.  Chi gung (or qi gong) is an easy way to channel and improve the flow of energy in our bodies, through slow and graceful movements. These movements have cool names, like “Bamboo Waves on Mountain”, so that in itself should encourage you to try Chi Gung!

Journaling, dancing: …and other expressive arts. When we express ourselves fully, we live fully. That doesn’t mean say whatever you want and have no filters in place!  It means, live your life beautifully, let your thoughts and movement flow. Someone once said to me, “Don’t be a God dam”, meaning don’t dam up the energy that wants to flow through my life. Flow and movement are essential to good health.

EMDR: or other subconscious healing of thought patterns. When we experience difficulty or trauma, our minds sometimes store the event as a pattern in our subconscious, where it can drive our actions and reactions without us knowing it. EMDR brings subconsciously-stored trauma to the conscious mind (without making us live through it again), allowing us to discharge the “juice” associated with it, and letting us be in charge of how we react to events in our lives.

What all these practices have in common: love yourself enough to take care of yourself; know yourself well enough to know what you need; do the necessary work on a subtle level;  let the energy flow!

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A GOOD DEATH?

10 Jul

This blog post about our mother’s journey is so wonderful, I’m sharing it on my site. I’m trying to learn from Cathy as she travels with Mom and my family in this process…

Pre-Existing Condition

I recently heard an NPR show about “a good death”. The author said he chose not to use that term, but rather to talk about the transition, and that there is a better view upon death that is uncommon in this society – the view of death as a part of life.

This is similar to the conversation we had today around the dining room table. My dad, my sister, myself, a doctor, nurse, and an intern were there. And of course, my mother. The subject of the meeting. My mother, hooked up to oxygen, an errant tear in her eye now and then, as we talked, took notes, and tried to stay on track, to be practical and not emotional. The doctor, an earnest nerdy Opie type, and one the most beautiful men I have ever encountered, said that the journey to death can be transformational, a blessed experience…

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