Finding Space – Wednesday Wellness Reflection

Sometimes in the sleepless nights seeds are planted.   These days sleep is definitely a rare commodity,  however I’m finding if I can stop tossing and turning and resisting the consistent wake ups, I notice ideas start to flow in, priorities become obvious and greater clarity around where there needs to be space in my own life is put on centre stage in the meandering of my thoughts.

It’s really easy to hold off on all the uncomfortable things and to keep spinning our wheels, during those windows of our lives we often hold the shields a little closer to our bodies.  There comes a point when it’s imperative to create some space between your body and the protection so you can breathe and truly discover who you even are and what you need – independent of everyone else’s ideas.  I love the image of a bed of moss surrounding my own body, moving with my breath – rather than preventing it,  and being permeable to a healthy flow of what is needed both within and without.

As I write this, the birds are just waking up and the early hours of dawn are approaching.  I feel sleepy, but alive and grateful for the magic of our natural world as I gaze out my window.  I am a part of it all, and I realize that a little bit more every day.  The treasures we find outside in our natural world are also found within, but again we need the space to discover, and remember, what those are.

I just finished reading the book Big Magic (Thank you Sarah and Nicki), by Elizabeth Gilbert.  There is a quote that really resonated with me, and I’ve posted it up in my office as a daily reminder.

“…because your life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous, and you want to do really interesting things and make really interesting things while you’re still here…….

It’s what we all want.

And you have treasures hidden within you – extraordinary treasures – and so do I, and so does everyone around us.  And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small”

Ahhhh I get goosebumps when I read this.  And those treasures – they may be the simplest offerings; your nourishing and simple vegetable garden, your rose bush, or your incredible cookies that you bake, the way you listen, or the one poem that needed to be written in your lifetime, the care of your children (human and nonhuman), or perhaps the strumming of your guitar played quietly for your soul and your soul alone. The simple treasures are often the most miraculous, remember that.

Elizabeth’s words remind me to stay connected with the moss, making space for my personal practice, reminding me of the magic inside of me –  and you.  It reminds me to listen with all that I am when the birds sing, to breathe fully and completely with every cycle of breath, and to open my eyes with the wonder of a child as the daffodils emerge from their winter slumber – before they fade away.

As my mom fades away, I am reminded of my brief visit here on this earth – in this body, with these unique gifts, for this cycle of my life.  It’s my choice how I show up, and the space I let myself inhabit.

I ask you to find some space to breathe between the shields life hands you, maybe imagine them as a bed of moss wrapping you in love, and offering you protection in a way that doesn’t force you to stop breathing – but rather to start being. 

Taking time to honour the earth as we celebrate Earth Day tomorrow , giving gratitude for the trees who support us to breathe.  David Attenborough reminds us the Earth will continue long after we’re gone, so let’s recommit to our care and stewardship of our home  while we’re here, as we discover our magic during our time here.

Much love. always

Amber

If you’d like to practice with me I teach weekly live online zoom classes , and as an additional support for you to practice on your own schedule I’ve created a video library and a monthly video subscription

Don’t ever hesitate to reach out, my support is here holding you in my heart.

Photo by Jasmin Mori

30 Days Of Yoga – Wednesday Wellness Reflection

Sat Naam and Namaste, welcome to the beginning of a 30 day yoga challenge – Revisited

Today we embark on 30 days of yoga together.  A year ago I put together a 30 day yoga challenge which started April 1st, 2020, I thought it was important to repost that challenge,  today April 14th and running through the next 30 days.   I first posted this offering at the beginning of COVID, and now we find ourselves in yet another 4 week stay at home order, with so much uncertain.  I am hopeful this somehow helps you through this time.  I invite you to rejoin me for the full 30 days, as a commitment to your own self care – or pop in for a day here or there.

I love looking back at our old studio, and my families old home when we lived in town, precious memories of a chapter in my own life.  Also the first videos I ever made, yes, it’s important to laugh with ourselves, and to find the sweetness in just showing up because you know it’s important, regardless of what IT looks like.

The intention for these mini yoga videos is to help support you.  We find ourselves in the midst of a  confusing time (still a year later), and I think I can safely say, from day to day, our emotions are all over the place – this is normal and understandable given our current situation, please be gentle with yourself.  Globally, we are all affected and I think there are times we feel the collective levels of anxiety, fear, hurt, grief and sadness. We are living in a world, and a time, of so many unknowns where each of us have been affected in our day to day rhythms.

Embrace the moments where you do feel peace, where you experience the joy and miracle of life, the moments when you feel inspired at next steps in your own life, where you feel steady and filled with hope for what is on the other side.

Yoga may not be something you are leaning into right now, and if this period in the history of your life is calling for a break from your practice than you need to honour that.  You also need to honour whatever it is that is helping to hold you and bring you back to your center.

A year ago I decided to commit to 30 days of providing you with little 5 – 20 minute practices, my personal commitment is what’s kept me okay during this time.  The practices I offer you here area all accessible yoga, movement, focused postures, pranayama and meditations – each chosen to help to build your resilience, to help ground you, bring you back to your center, nurture your nervous system, and to support you to invite daily movement into your body, and to remind you you’re not alone.  This yoga challenge is my way of extending my support out to you in your homes during this time of social distancing and self isolation.

Please join me for the next 30 days (or every couple of days), I’m going to be practicing right alongside you, revisiting this support, made a year ago.

These videos were created April – 2020: (Please be kind, this were my FIRST ever yoga videos, all these videos were recorded at our old place in Almonte, in the forest and in the old studio space.  As I too dive into this 30 day commitment, I am in awe as my sons look so young – amazing so much change in a year and all the places those changes are reflected)

View Day One Here

View Day Two Here

View Day Three Here

View Day Four Here

View Day Five Here

View Day Six Here

View Day Seven Here

View Day Eight Here

View Day Nine Here

View Day Ten Here

View Day Eleven Here

View Day Twelve Here

View Day Thirteen Here

View Day Fourteen Here

View Day Fifteen Here

View Day Sixteen Here

View Day Seventeen Here

View Day Eighteen Here

View Day Nineteen Here

View Day Twenty Here

View Day Twenty One Here

View Day Twenty Two Here

View Day Twenty Three Here

View Day Twenty Four Here

View Day Twenty Five Here

View Day Twenty Six Here

View Day Twenty Seven Here

View Day Twenty Eight Here

View Day Twenty Nine Here

View Day Thirty Here

There are many health and wellness guardians here in Almonte (and all over the globe for that matter), I am so grateful for the work everyone is doing to help support one another.  Taking this time to really accept all the changes and Keep moving forward.

As a result of all the changes this pandemic has brought, including our Heritage Court doors closing and our collective of teachers doing what they needed to personally to do move through this time, Surya Daya  has definitely seen some transitions.  I’m now offering an online yoga studio, video subscriptions, a hub for my upcoming breast health offerings, a supportive blog, personal one – on – one yoga therapy sessions, outdoor and nature based yoga,  work with hospice and Carebridge, I’ve recommitted to my massage practice, and working on a few projects – all around having my boys home.  Thank you for being on this journey with me, I am excited to see how we continue to evolve over time, and grow together as a community.

One day I dream of us finding a community space again, a healing safe hub, I keep that vision alive in my heart.

Yours in health and happiness, with so much love and gratitude,

Amber

If you’d like to practice with me I teach weekly live online zoom classes , and as an additional support for you to practice on your own schedule I’ve created a video library and a monthly video subscription

Don’t ever hesitate to reach out, my support is here holding you in my heart.

Our Guest House – Wednesday Wellness Reflection

“This being human is a guest house

Every morning a new arrival

A joy, a depression, a meanness, 

Some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all……

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, 

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes, 

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.”

              Rumi

Not always so easy to simply welcome whatever arises with an open non judgmental heart, this is part of the practice for sure.  One of the hardest and often the most potent in our healing.

We often feel it’s easier to hide parts of ourselves, all the complex intricacies of this being human with all of our emotions, but remember, at the core, we’re not so different from one another.

Honouring your life experiences, honouring your relationships, honouring what needs to be accepted in order to be able to let go – or to move into a new chapter, honouring the joyful happy moments as equally as the not so joyful moments.

Take a bit of time to simply sit with this piece, sending yourself an invitation to welcome in all aspects of yourself, allow this to be your reflection this week.

Can you accept and honour the whole, remember the puzzle isn’t complete if we only put the light pieces in.

There is no need to shift, hold your breath or bend for anyone.

It’s okay to feel exactly what you’re feeling. 

The more we can practice self-acceptance the easier it is to exhale, the deeper we can breathe and  grow into the person we’re here to be.  The more we can enjoy the life in front of us.

Take some time with your journal, have a conversation with someone who sees you, move your body, or go for a walk in nature. It’s important to give yourself time to process wherever you are, that’s when the acceptance happens.

I want to see YOU, the world needs the real you, often hiding underneath all the layers life has thrown on you.

With so much love,

Amber

Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR on Pexels.com

Spring Renewal – Wednesday Wellness Reflection

It’s hard to believe it was a year ago everything changed, I remember thinking about closing the studio for a week or two, trusting we’d be back in our little sacred space in no time.   A huge learning for me, and a process that continues.

Spring is a powerful time to honour the introspective winter months we’ve just moved through, as we begin to awaken like our natural world around us.   This is a time of renewal and a time to set clear intentions as we plant new seeds in the fertile ground, awakening.

Over the next 6 months we’ll be experiencing a slow increase in the abundance of sunlight, we’ll be witnessing new growth all around us,  and we’ll be feeling into an expansion in yang energy (a more outward and active energy).

Allow this to be a slow emergence if you can, I’m here to remind you there is no urgency, this is especially important this year as we have experienced and continue to navigate so much change on a micro and macro level.

Spring is a time we consider new beginnings, the birth of ideas, we cultivate hope, embrace joy, honour the space we need to thrive, and it’s also a good time to lay the groundwork for things you’d like to grow and create.

Sometimes, however,  spring is also filled with anxiety over percieved expectations, or an urgency to get moving.  Sometimes we can feel agitated inside, without understanding the why.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, turn to the practices you know nourish you – let them be your anchor, and be gentle with yourself – especially this year.

When we consider our spring cleaning; we need to spend time with our homes, our gardens and yards, our bodies, and it’s important to remember to also consider the clearing, cleansing and expression of your emotional truths.  This  is often the hardest part of our spring cleaning regime – but critical to your continued growth and expansion as a human.

As winters ice breaks up and the snow melts,  we are offered an invitation to honour the flow of the currents moving at their own pace.  Sitting with the waters of spring we can witness the nourishment of new growth, in ourselves and in the land, or perhaps reflecting on the growth and impact of this past year.

As we tend to and consider our responsibility in the care of the earth,  I wonder if in that process you can also surrender to earths fertile energy and allow it to also support you –  the planting of seeds within and around us, that may one day, with care and commitment,  come to fruition.

Hold those seeds in your heart and breathe fresh energy into them.

Wishing you a beautiful spring,

Much love

Amber

xo

If you’d like to practice with me I teach weekly online zoom classes , as well, as a response to COVID, I have created, and continue to create, a video library and a weekly video subscription.

Don’t ever hesitate to reach out, my support is here holding you in my heart.

 

Diving Deeper Into Reciprocity – Wednesday Wellness Reflection

By definition reciprocity is a process of exchange in order to gain a mutual benefit.   This action oriented energy plays an important role in the development and continuation of relationships, and it ensures that; people, other animals, the land, our environment, recieve help when they need it and that we too recieve help when we need it.

When I think about reciprocity on a personal level, I find motivation from an innate place of compassion and kindness, knowing that we’re all part of the whole.  When we take care of our neigbours and the land we call home we can also acknowledge that we are offering care to ourselves,  when our motivation rests in the betterment of the greater good, reciprocity naturally happens.

It’s easy to lose ourselves in the I, sometimes forgeting about our responsiblity to the we.

Have you ever considered gratitude as an offering of reciprocity?  Waking up and acknowledging what you’re grateful for in your life, you’re offering the energy of your heart as an exchange, a form of reciprocity, and the wheel continues to spin. The more we acknowledge and give our thanks, the more we also start to care and take action to make sure we continue to have forests we can walk  through, oxygen to breathe, soil that nourishes our vegetables, a community to call on when we too need help.

We are all interdependent and I think during this global pandemic we have been given the opportunity to become acutely aware of how interdependent we truly are.

I have a sweet little reflection to share with you, when I think about reciprocity. When we moved out to the country, I started feeding the deers that we share this forest with. Why some of you may ask, becauase I wanted to see the deers, I wanted my children to see the deers.  They never came, but I kept feeding them.  As I started to develop a relationship with my surroundings, I started to also develop a deeper sense of gratitude for the wonders of the forest, this land, and a relationship with the creatures I share this home with.

Slowly, without even knowing it was happening, things started to change on the inside for me.

One day in my meditation, I looked deeper, considering my intention behind offering food to these four legged creatures.  I realized I actually feed the deers because I am grateful they share their home with me.  I know they often have a short life, and I want it to be a good life, because all of life is sacred.  I want them to know they can seek refuge here, in their home.  I still feed the deer, and from time to time they offer me a glimpse and sometimes even peer into our window – as curious about us, as we are about them.  When I leave the food now, I give thanks without any expectations, it is my way of saying thank you to the land and all of the creatures for letting me rest here during my brief window of time upon this earth.  Reciprocity.

I will nourish the soil so the earth continues to thrive and in exchange that same soil, from the earth, will nourish the seeds I plant for my family to thrive.  Reciprocity.

Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass goes with me everywhere I go at the moment.  Elizabeth Gilbert was spot on when she described this book as a love hymn for the earth. It is a lullabye of reciprocity for all the wonders around us.  I strongly recommend you get your hands on a copy and read it, and then read it again.

I commit to nurturing the land, to supporting all of life, to help it to thrive – I know in my heart, it’s my responsibility while I’m here.

The moral covenant of reciprocity calls us to honor our responsibilitys for all we have been given, for all that we have taken.   It’s our turn now, long overdue.  Let us hold a giveaway for Mother Earth, spread our blankets out for her and pile them high with gifts of our own making.  Imagine the books, the paintings, the poems, the clever machines, the compassionate acts, the transcendent ideas, the perfect tools.  The fierce defense of all that has been given.  Gifts of mind, hands, heart, voice, and vision all offered up on behalf of the earth.  Whatever our gift, we are called to give it and to dance for the renewal of the world. 

In return for the privilege of breath. 

– Robin Wall Kimmerer (Braiding Sweetgrass)

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Much love

Amber

xo

If you’d like to practice with me I teach weekly online zoom classes , as well, as a response to COVID, I have been working on creating a video library and a weekly video subscription.

Don’t ever hesitate to reach out, my support is here holding you in my heart.

 

Wednesday Wellness Reflection – Nurturing Our Own Foundation

As I look outside my window, and unroll my practice blanket, I can’t help but feel immense gratitude for our natural world.  The sun streaming through my window as I plant my feet solidly on the ground.  I notice through the familiarity of my personal practice, a natural ease occurs in my breath, I just need to be willing to take these few moments.

I wonder where we’re going to go today.

If you work with a journal for your practice,  I encourage you to grab it before you settle in for your practice today, and take a bit of time to reconnect with your breath, breathing into sensations and connecting a little deeper with whatever arises inside of you – in this moment.

Today feels like a good day to take a brief exploration of the landscape of our hips and our pelvic girdle.  Did you know that sometimes restrictions through our pelvic girdle can create a distraction for the whole body and mind, which prevents us from recognizing the gifts in our lives – or the places we experience ease.

We have so many intricate structures that cross over the pelvic girdle, which have a ripple effect.  As we release these restrictions through our breath, through movement, or with the help of a trained therapist, we can actually begin to feel more easeful through our whole body, and as a positive consequence, more aware of the beauty that exists around us and often right in front of us. We also often begin to experience a greater sensitivity to the lived experience of gratitude.

Our pelvic girdle, not only encompasses some pretty important and critical anatomical considerations (This whole post could be a dissection of the anatomy of the pelvis – but that is not my intention for today – so to simply name a few of our internal ihabitants; like our organs of elimination, our sexual organs, various nerves, the cross junction for our hip flexors, posterior musculature and our abdominal muscles, as well as a multitude of ligaments and joints), but it also emcompasses alot of our emotional holding patterns related to; our foundation, our sense of security in the world, our fears, our internal bridges in relationship to our external relationships, and our ability to express our creativity and authentic selves in the world.

Phew, that’s a lot to consider.

If you feel inspired to explore some physical movements, a few super simple movements I recommend for beginning are:

Pelvic tilts, while resting on your back with your knees bent and keeping your hips in contact with the ground – slowly allow a rocking movement through your pelvis – inhaling tipping the pelvis forward and exhaling tipping it back.

Still resting on your back, you may want to keep one leg bent and explore movement while raising the opposite leg up towards the sky and making circles through the hip.

Or perhaps from this position, with your knees bent, (feet together and/or apart) simply allowing your knees to fall from side to side like windshield wipers – moving slowly and listening to the guidance in your breath and through sensations.

Another wonderful posture to explore our pelvic girdle and to support us to release postureal patterns in the front of the body is half bridge.  To view a bonus practice video click here. I created this mini video last fall, when I did my last 30 day challenge, so you’ll understand why I say welcome to day 18!  The wind was also blowing that day, so when it blows a little harder, allow that wind to take with it any stress or tension you may be feeling today.  Just a light little practice to hopefully inspire a smile, and offer you some seeds in your own exploration.

Reflect on the bridges in your own life; through your body, in how you spend your time, and in your relationships.

When you express yourself, are you able to bridge your own inner wisdom and truth – with what you share with the world around you?

Are you taking time to nuture your own soil as we start to contemplate our gardens?

There are so many different ways of exploring through the hips and pelvic girdle, hmmm perhaps some shapes we’ll explore a little deeper over the next few weeks in our classes.

Whichever iterations of movement you explore (and this may be simply free dancing movement), again, allow your breath and your body sensations to be your guide.  Give yourself this simple gift – listen to what you need, from the wisdom that bubbles up from inside of YOU, not always that easy.  As we begin to listen and respond to ourselves with kindness and compassion, we also begin to experience a greater sensitivity to what we truly need to thrive, and gratitude starts to flow through us a little more easefully.

Gratitude shifts our focus from what  life lacks to the abundance that is already present.  Allowing gratitude to flow through your thoughts, also gives your brain something else to focus on – rather than the stream of worries that many of us find as constant companions.

Make sure you take some time to integrate your practice, sometimes as we explore our bodies through compassionate movement, we wake sleeping parts of us up.  Take some time to sit and breath, talk about your experience with a trusted friend, and be gentle with yourself as you integrate your practice.

What do you feel most grateful for today?  

I am grateful for the trees, and their incredible wisdom, such an inspiration for me on this journey – the Spruce, the Cedars, the Maples, the Poplars and the White Pines, just to acknowledge a few.

I am grateful for all the leaves and needles on the trees, offering us a gift for our senses in the beautiful canvas of colour and the sensory exploration as they consider the slow unfurling of warmer weather.  Are you feeling ready to begin your own spring unfurling?

and I am grateful for YOU!

‘Till next time,

With love, Amber

If you’d like to recieve exlusive weekly practice videos with me delivered right to your inbox, you can learn more here

Photo by Flora Westbrook on Pexels.com

The Kindness Of Strangers – Wednesday Wellness Reflection

My first Ontario winter living out in the country, and some days the snow doesn’t stop falling.

We make decisions sometimes; stop at the corner store, run that extra errand, or perhaps to stop and check the mail on the way home.  I decided to stop and check the mail a few short days ago.  Driving on our country roads you need to pull over to hug the edge as another car comes to pass, and sometimes that hug can pull us right in.

Within seconds, me alongside my two little companions, found ourselves in the ditch.  Over the years, and especially over the past year as we’ve navigated the pandemic, I have come to  realize how much we need eachother.  How much all of life, needs eachother.

Reciprocity.

The kindness of everyone who passed, offering their help.  A beautiful young soul drove the 15 minutes away to borrow his grandmothers tractor.  I didn’t know if he was going to come back, trusting……surrendering into the ditch, breathing with my companions………….and trusting.  When did we stop dropping everything to help one another, especially when we need it the most.  Or when did that become a rare occurence.  I have shared this story with a few friends and I am surprised at how shocked they are by the kindness of strangers.   Once upon a time, there was no question, we helped without hesitation.

Suddenly, we saw the tractor meandering along the snow covered country roads, and this incredible experience of joy bubbled up from inside of me.  Who knew a tractor could bring so much relief and so much happiness (I guess it depends on who you ask).  I turned to my 11 year old son and asked him what he thought I should do to thank this caring young man, in his wise 11 years of life he asked me

Why would you need to do anything? 

If you gave him something in return for his offer of help, he would feel obligated to do the same if he ever needed help, can’t you just say thank you and accept the help?  If you gave him money, he would feel bad asking for help if he didn’t have money.  You would want the same if the situation were reversed. 

Mom, just promise to pay it forward. 

Ahhh my eyes filled with tears, and it made me sad that in our society there are often strings attached, the simple kindness of strangers – helping eachother because it’s why we’re here – at the base of it all, how can we be of service to the greater whole, for no other reason than our innate nature to care.

I am so grateful, and will never walk away when someone has fallen.  This doesn’t have to look big, and there needn’t ever be an expectation of anything in return.  It’s why we’re here.  In community we all do our part, we bring our strengths to the table and we offer our gifts.  Those gifts are anything from knowing how to drive a tractor and having an open heart to help the lady and her 2 children as  they find themselves stuck in a ditch with no way out, to offering a love filled soup to nourish your family or your neighbour, fixing a pipe, finding a book off a shelf for someone, or writing a masterpiece as a creative expression of your soul and balm for the soul of others…….

Reciprocity; nurturing the circle of helping hands, we offer from a place of compassion and gratitude, and we learn to accept, and the circle continues.

This week I ask you to take a bit of time to ponder a few thoughts

  • How would you respond if someone needed help, a stranger?  In small and big ways?
  • How have you recieved the support of someone else’s kindness, often in unexpected ways?
  • What does community mean to you, and what do you think your offering to your community is?
  • What does reciprocity mean to you? What might that look like in your own life?
  • Consider deep gratitude and appreciation as a form of reciprocity.
  • What are you grateful for today?

I’m grateful for tractors, for a lovely young man who offered help, for the snow and the ditch that offered me this learning, and I’m grateful I live in such a special community.

Thank you for taking the time to share my thoughts today, as I watch the snow continue to fall outside my window.

Much love

Amber

xo

COVID, Kids and all the feelings

Written by Nicki Gallo (as published in the June edition of the HUMM)

There’s this exercise that I like do when I work with kids. It helps us to explore how our feelings are something that we experience in our bodies as well as our minds. First, I give the child a piece of paper with the outline of a person. I ask them to colour the location on the body where they feel certain emotions and match it with a colour. For example, they may feel red – anger in their hands “I’m so mad I could punch someone!” Or feel yellow – nervousness in their bellies “I have butterflies in my tummy!” 

Nicki_June_Humm_PictureSometimes, a child may fill the outline of the person with one colour, but this may not match what behaviour is happening on the outside. For example, the child could be acting out with angry temper tantrums or be completely withdrawn, however their outline is covered in just one emotion: fear.  

Anger and disengagement can mask more vulnerable and raw emotions like sadness or fear. 

When I personally take the time to shave down the layers of an emotional outburst, it usually comes down to “I’m scared.” 

This may not be the reality in every case; however, it can give us insight into what may be happening under the surface. 

This is an unfamiliar and uncertain time. Children are extremely empathic and can pick up on the stress that this virus is having on our daily lives. It’s often scarier when things aren’t being said as they can tell that the energy has shifted, but they don’t know why. With the recent news of schools in Ontario not returning this year, despite initial excitement, this can be scary and a big loss for kids. Loss of routine can mean a loss of control. 

We may all be feeling a lot of big complicated emotions right now and not know how to express them. What we are feeling on the inside may not be what we are expressing on the outside. 

How can we help our children increase their emotional vocabulary and express feelings in a positive way?  How can we do the same as adults? 

Here are a few ideas that may work with kids and kids at heart:

Name it to Tame it

The idea “name it to tame it” is a strategy to help make sense of our experience and feel more in control. When big emotions are out of control (right-brain) telling the story of what’s upsetting us (logical left-brain), integrates the brain, names the fears and helps to tame them. 

Rose, Bud, Thorn

Many of our routines have disappeared. Having a simple daily check-in with each other is a great way to put words to emotions. A popular check-in tool is “Rose, Bud, Thorn.” This is good to do at dinner time or at the end of the day.  

Rose: share your favourite part of the day

Bud: share something you are looking forward to doing tomorrow

Thorn: share your least favourite part of the day

Play!

Some of the best conversations take place while doing something else. Play is a child’s language and sometimes, to talk about big feelings, it’s easier to play while doing it. We can gain insight into their inner worlds or it may just be a great way to distract ourselves. Doing activities your kids like to do makes them feel connected and more secure. This goes for adults too. 

Providing space for kids to express themselves and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel a lot of feelings right now is a wonderful way to support them in this bizarre time we’re in. 

Nicki2Nicki Gallo is a Certified Play Therapist. She runs play and creativity workshops and is not afraid to use glitter. She is a retired Toronto SickKids Hospital therapeutic clown and is currently creating online content to help children recognize and express emotions with her new clown, Emerald. You can check out the videos here.

We are super excited to have Nicki joining our collective.  She’ll be helping to support and assist in making sure we can continue to offer you inspiring and educational events and community initiatives (as soon as we’re able to).  Nicki is excited to be offering amazing workshops and one on one sessions to support families and individuals in our community.  She is magic and reminds us to stay connected to our inner spark of joy and play, she looks forward getting to know you better!

 

Resources: Anxiety Canada, About Kids Health/Covid19, Child Mind Institute

Contemplating Our Gifts – Wednesday Wellness Reflection

Sending you a big hug today, I feel like we all could use an extra hug these days.

A few weeks ago I was blessed to be a case study for a dear friend (who happens to be my husband) who recently completed the Core Gift Discovery Workshop, to help support people to dive deeper into themselves and explore the unique gifts we all come here to share.   What I found most impactful, was that some of the more traumatic events of my life were what came through as I discovered my own core gift.  Often its these pivotal moments that don’t always make sense that inform what we commmit our lives to, where we find passion and deep inspiration.

I invite you to take some time over the next little while and contemplate a few ideas.

When do you feel at home in yourself? Or is this a foreign concept?

Contemplate the idea of purpose and gifts.  What do they mean to you personally?   This may be woven into the fabric of your working life, or it may be an area of your life where you recharge or you seem to keep going back to – fueled by passion, emotion, and a deep genuine concern.   Your working life may help to support your purpose, it’s not always that clear.

Perhaps pull out your journal and  write or sit in silent contemplation, writing and expressing without editing.  It amazes me how often we edit or script our responses – even in our personal journals.  It’s time to drop the scripting and show up – exactly as you are – life is to short to be any other way.  At this juncture in our lives, it’s also a good time to reflect on what you truly care about; what do you think deserves more of your time and energy, and does it also support the whole?

The seeds start within us and the way they are expressed are uniquely ours – but there is a reciprocity that’s necessary, like the seeds in our gardens.   It’s not always easy to recognize that those seeds are waiting for nourishment, deep inside of us, or what that nourishment needs to look like.  When we’re able to move from a place which honours what we contribute to the greater collective (no matter how small or large),  feeling deep gratitude for the seeds we contain, and then we step forward in our lives in a purposeful way – this is when magic happens.

As you ponder the presence of the seeds inside of  you, I wonder what arises?

Is there an area of your life that ignites passion inside of you or fill you with strong emotions that urge you forward?  OR is there something that keeps coming up for you, maybe like a soft whisper, wrapped in curiousity?  Hmmm if you listened to that whisper and offered that curiousity some attention, I wonder what that would look like for you?

What did those hard lessons in your life teach you?? Often the difficult lessons are when we’re shown a glimpse of what our core gifts may be, or they may evoke something so strongly inside of us, that they show us where our voice is needed.  This is not always easy, this I do understand.

I believe we all have the potential to tap into something greater than us, and our seeds which hold are gifts as sacred, are a larger and a necessary part of the whole.  As Elizabeth Gilbert reminds us (thank you Sarah), can you acknowledge any fears that hold you back, invite them along for the ride (suppressing them only gives them more power), tap in, explore, nurture what is stirring softly or loudly making itself known from within you, fear and all.

If you want to move through the core gifts discovery process, there are many amazing humans who can support you, you can go to The Core Gift Institute to find out more.

Sending you so much love, and reverence for your core gifts – whether they are shining brightly or hidden, awaiting the perfect moment to be discovered and nurtured into life.

Love Amber

xo

“Every human being is born with some sort of gift, and inclination or an instinct that can become a full-blown mastery.  We may not see our gift for what it is.  Having seen it we may choose not to accept the gift and its consequences for our life.  Or, having claimed our gift, we may not be willing to do the hard work necessry to nurture it.  But none of these evasions can alter the fact that the gift is ours.  Each of us is a master at something, and part of becoming fully alive is to discover and develop our birthright competence.” 

Parker Palmer

The Healing Power Of Touch

You Are Beautiful, and I am so grateful you exist!!

Welcome to your Wednesday Wellness Reflection,

A little exploration on the importance of healing touch during a time much of our world is deprived of positive physical contact.

Compassionate touch is one of the most sacred ways we can connect as beings; it allows us to move beyond the physical barriers we create and respond to each other in a deeply nourishing and healing way.

As the number of cases of illness in all of its forms increases in our world, there also exists an increased need to connect in this heartfelt healing and loving way, especially as we navigate a world where physical contact has been greatly withdrawn over the past year.  We are coming through a very fear infused and touch deprived chapter in many of our lives.

Touch given with a therapeutic and compassionate  intention has the potential to affect an individual physically, emotionally, and spiritually; it can soothe physical pain; and also create space for the mind to come to a place of stillness and acceptance.  Through simply being present with an individual and offering comfort, not ignoring their pain or even necessarily trying to fix their condition, an environment for a deeper level of healing is fostered.

When I began giving massage therapy to individuals with cancer, through complex care and at end of life; it increased my understanding of human suffering and the ways in which it is a shared suffering.  I have also witnessed the incredible impact touch can have on an individual when one meets them in this place.

My hands have made contact with a person and the separation between us seems to dissolve. I have physically felt and seen peoples bodies soften and rest into the support of the therapeutic massage, the healing intention and my hands.  I have watched their breath become deeper and more restful as they respond while the treatment helps to soothe their pain – on a physical and an emotional level.  It is in these moments that I truly understand the phenomenal power of touch.

Massage is a safe therapy to receive with many conditions, however this does not negate that there are important considerations when receiving treatment.  It is important to ensure you work with someone who understands pathology and the changing needs of the body.  With careful modifications, a well-trained and educated therapist can provide massage during diagnosis, during medical treatment, when in remission, through palliative care with a terminal diagnosis and through survivorship.

The benefits, which I have witnessed first hand, are invaluable. Reflecting on my clinical experience over the past 20 years, as well as reference to the reputable studies that have successfully been done, massage has helped people with; pain management, anxiety, depression, disconnection from the body and/or from people, self esteem, body image, muscular tension, stiffness and pain, nausea, fatigue and feelings of isolation or loneliness. It can also help with the emotional impact of the awareness of a problem that needs care, and a diagnosis of any type.

When I enter a therapeutic relationship I also often find that a primary goal of our time together, is to support the reintegration of a person, reminding them that they are so much more than a diagnosis, so much more.  Often what is needed most is a safe place to rest, to offer comfort, to offer positive and very human care, and to help with symptom relief specific to the individual

Massage  and therapeutic touch have the potential to be such a healing and supportive addition to a persons circle of care.  Every person is unique, and every person’s story is unique, which needs to be deeply honoured regardless of what a person is going through.  The experiences and the stories I have been privileged to share with people through my hands and my heart have shaped me as a massage therapist, as a yoga teacher and how I experience life as a whole.

General guidelines of important medical areas to discuss with your therapist would look something like this:

(adapted from Tracy Walton’s “Massage therapy for people with cancer:  Fear and Healing”)

  • Whether/how/where issue is currently manifesting
  • Current or past  treatments (surgery/radiation/chemo/bone marrow transplant/etc.), side effects, complications, and discuss how this will be considered in the massage treatment
  • Discuss lymph node involvement and risk of lymphodema
  • Discuss medications and their effects
  • Discuss if dialogue with your medical doctor would be appropriate and necessary, based on your health history, status, and stage of progression.
  • A continued update to any changes in your health is essential, and it is also necessary to check your response to every massage treatment to ensure you are always getting the best possible care.
  • Most importantly, how YOU are

This is definitly a simplification and a general look at some key specific medical areas that need to be covered when you have a more complex condition and you’re seeing a massage therapist for the first time. Not all areas noted above will be relevant to everyone, and in other people there will be a need to expand on the complexity of the above information.  When these concerns are discussed openly and honestly between you and your therapist, there will be a greater sense of trust and the treatment can proceed with more confidence for everyone involved.

The gift of touch is shared, as is the suffering, and connecting in this way can pave the path for true compassion and healing.  It is my hope that we as a society will not continue to embrace the fear of the unknown or the fear of illness, but rather embrace the mystery and humanness of life.  There is a sacred element in sharing this journey with others through touch.  The people that I have worked with have allowed me to integrate the beauty and the intuition of massage, but also to deeply respect the science behind massage, the body and disease and to see how massage can positively affect a person when the bridge between the science and the art are joined in a mindful way.

With a deep respect for the human body, and the safe spaces where we can put ourselves back together again,

Much love, Amber

(This is a modified piece I wrote –  honouring where we find ourselves in the present,  previously published with the Victoria Cancer Resource Center newsletter, and the East Coast massage network conference publication on cancer and massage)