Monday, November 9, 2009

Exploring Integrative Medicine - Reiki And Meditation

A few weeks ago I had the privilege to attend a session on integrative medicine specifically looking at Reiki and meditation and I just thought I could share the information with everyone. Diane Hecht has been a Reiki master for fourteen years. Currently she teaches at both Tompkins County Community College and Cornell University. Diane started by informing us of the importance of realizing the fundamental connection between the mind and body. Wholistic wellbeing deals with being aware of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. During the session we discussed the benefits of Reiki and Meditation as a form of healing. Reiki is also known as ‘chi’ in Chinese, ‘Ti’ in Hawaiian and ‘Ki’ in Japanese. According to Hecht, Reiki is “an ancient holistic energy method of deeply relaxing and restoring the body, mind and spirit to its natural state of wellbeing.” Reiki can also be understood as “universal energy, light force or light energy, spiritual wisdom or universal light. One of the basic concepts of Reiki as a healing modality is the understanding of how much energy we have and how free flowing this energy is. She also informed us of the three levels of Reiki:
·         (Level 1) Use Reiki energy for helping to heal yourself and others, including pets.
·         (Level 2 Learn the Reiki symbols and offer long distance healing
·         (Level 3) Reiki Master/teacher attunement where you learn to teach and attune others reiki.
Over the past few years Reiki as a healing modality has grown tremendously with over three thousand practitioners worldwide. A typical Reiki session lasts for approximately one hour. During this period, the practitioner may use touch or not and this is done while you are fully clothed. If the practitioner does not use touch then the patient tends to feel the warmth of the energy being transferred from practitioner. 
There are three basic principles of Reiki:
·         Reiki can never do harm
·         Always ASK PERMISSION – by asking permission the practitioner makes sure that the patient understands that “We are our own healers.”
·         Adjust a channel for this energy.
Hecht defines meditation as being “simply calming the body and quieting the mind for a few minutes.” It is easy and can be done at any time and any place you find comfortable. Some of the benefits of meditation are as follows:
·         Lower blood pressure
·         Lower blood cholesterol levels
·         Improve immune system
·         Relieves anxiety
·         Helps you focus
There are two types of meditation, one pointed and mindfulness. In one pointed meditation we focus only on one thing while in mindfulness meditation you are aware of your surroundings and basically you are not thinking of just one thing. I really appreciate how Diane Hecht made us experience different kinds of meditation. I was able to relax and even feel the energy building up inside of me. I also loved that she kept the class actual throughout the presentation. This was very informative and I now have a better understanding of how energy is used as a means of healing and the importance of meditation in our daily lives.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Massage Therapy In The 21st Century

Massage therapy has been around for many years. It dates back to the Egyptian times according to ancient hieroglyphics. There are various types of massage therapy techniques, all mainly involve the manipulation of muscles and soft tissues of the body. It can be used to relieve stress, increase circulation, enhance energy flow and relieve tension. Unfortunately, it is rare that people use massage therapy proactively for these benefit. Prior to the 1950’s, some individuals even today do not view Massage therapy as a method of healing in the health care delivery system. However, there are some countries across the world such as Indonesia and England, where massage therapy is a part of their culture. The citizens of these countries are even given health care coverage for weekly massages sessions. In the United States, many people still refer to massage therapy in a sexual connotation instead of as an appropriate recommended modality of health care. A few weeks ago I went to a presentation by Rachel HoganCamp, the co-founder of Rasa Spa at the Island Health Center Ithaca New York. Rachel says people still ask her if the spa is a massage parlor. She then continued to explain the different types of massages, for example, Shiatsu, Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue or Connective Tissue, Neuromuscular Therapy or Trigger Point and Energy Work.

Swedish massage is the most common it is primarily done on a table and works to increase circulation to the heart using seven or eight unique strokes. Deep Tissue or Connective Tissue massage is also known as Rolfing or Unwinding, crafted from a 1950’s practitioner with a 'no pain, no gain mentality'. These sessions are very intense but help improve posture and balance. Another form is Shiatsu, which is unique from common massages since it can be done on the floor and the client can be completely clothed. Shiatsu has more of a holistic approach and is often referred to as acupressure. The massage therapist works to stretch your body sometimes it may even look as if the therapist is crawling on top of the client.

 Some of the health benefits of Massage Therapy includes  relieving pain.  It can be used as a method for relieving stress and encouraging relaxation. It may also improve sleep patterns, decrease one's dependence on medication,  strengthen the immune system by stimulating lymph flow. Massage therapy may also be of great importance for athletes as it may help them to prepare for, and even recover from strenuous workout routines. Based on the health benefits discussed above, I believe that Massage therapy as a healing modality can have adverse effects on  individuals health for less. So I am off to to Rasa Spa for my first massage therapy for lower back pains.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stress and You

The idea of being stressed is not new or foreign to many of us. Often times in our lives we get a sense of being overwhelmed by the things we have to do whether its home assignments, midterms or finals.  According to the Home Health Handbook, stress is defined as the body’s response to external conditions, also known as stressors, that upset our equilibrium. Any event or circumstance that arouses emotion can cause stress. Even changes for the better can cause stress, such as if you are getting married or having a child or even for the worst such as losing a job or dealing with the death of a spouse, can cause stress. It is funny that not only the major occurrences in your life may cause stress but also minor ones such as waiting in line or even bus delays. What we should note; however, is that what is stressful to one individual may not be stressful for another individual. 

After knowing this, you must be wondering, well what can I do if I am feeling stressed? If you are suffering from stress of a single event such as job loss your best bet is to try to find ways of coping with this change more effectively. Try talking to your friends about the situation and about your feelings. One of the most important things you should also remember to do is to try to take life a little easier until you adjust to the new situation. If you are suffering from persistent stress due to daily irritations, then you may actually need a major change in your lifestyle. You may need to change to a less stressful pattern or through psychotherapy which will aid in handling such stressors more calmly. However, you must know that if stress symptoms persist for more than a few weeks it is imperative that you get a medical evaluation and psychological care to help you deal with the stress.

As best as possible I try to avoid feeling stressed by having outlets for reducing stress, such as regular exercise, recreational activities, or hobbies. I try to cultivate friends with whom I can share both the good and the bad. Personally, I have also realized that relaxation techniques such as mediation and yoga help tremendously to reduce or even avoid feeling stressed. You can try any of these and see which works best for you. Although you should strongly consider avoiding stressful situations as best as possible as this might be harmful to your health and well being.