Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Managing Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia

"Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain." 
~Robert Gary Lee

Several years ago, I received a letter from a reader asking for Self-Help recommendations to manage a label of Fibromyalgia. At that point I didn't know much about Fibromyalgia, so I did a search and learned what I could about this mysterious label. 

Affects 3 to 5 percent of the general population
Occurs in people of all ages, even children
Men develop fibromyalgia too, although more women are diagnosed with it
Symptoms are chronic but may fluctuate throughout the day
Roughly one-quarter of people with fibromyalgia are work-disabled
Three drugs are FDA-approved for fibromyalgia treatment

What I found most interesting is that one of the criteria for diagnosing Fibromyalgia is tenderness or pain in at least 11 of the 18 specified tender points when pressure is applied. The 18 tender points associated with fibromyalgia are found in symmetrical pairs on the body. When I looked at the Tender Points Chart, I immediately thought of our Jin Shin Jyutsu Safety Energy Lock Chart! The "tender points" used to diagnose Fibromyalgia are all located on or near safety energy locks! 

Here is a tender-points chart side by side with a Safety Energy Lock Chart!

In Jin Shin Jyutsu we work with 26 pairs of energy centers in our bodies, referred to as Safety Energy Locks. These areas are much more than fixed points and encompass and area approximately the size of our hand. Each one of them has a specific meaning that is expressed through its number and is closely related to its placement on the body. They act like the circuit breakers on the electrical system in our homes and lock when the flow of energy in a pathway is too much, too little or stagnant-to warn and protect us from further disharmony.  

When one or more of these safety energy locks become blocked, a local disruption can occur, eventually resulting in disharmony of the energetic pathway completely. Just like in your home electrical system, if an outlet is overloaded, it blows the breaker that feeds that outlet, but does not shut down the whole electrical system. If the breaker is not reset, you can just shift the plugs to another outlet. This outlet will also break as it becomes overloaded and the process will continue until the entire system shuts down. A single breaker switch shutting down is a warning that you have overloaded the circuitry and attention must be paid to what you are doing. It is just the same thing with the energy system of our bodies. 

These twenty-six Energy Locks serve as breaker switches. If enough are blown over a period of time, disharmonies will occur in your physical, emotional, or mental well-being. The openness and flow of energy through our safety energy locks determine our health, balance and well-BE-ing.

It was easy for me to see that the relationship of these Fibromyalgia TenderPoints and Safety Energy Locks indicates a stagnation of the flow of life energy. 

Jin Shin Jyutsu teaches us to heed the warning of pain-which is our indicator that something is out of order and energy locks are shutting down. By simply holding the stuck energy center we can unlock the flow of energy and return ourselves to harmony. It really is that simple: Hold the pain and clear the stagnation!

I now see a number of clients in my practice who have the label of Fibromyalgia. Regular Jin Shin Jyutsu Sessions with a practitioner can be really helpful. One of my clients with this label usually comes weekly for a maintenance session. She finds the weekly sessions very helpful in managing her pain. This Summer she missed several weeks of sessions due to family vacations and house guests, etc... she said that she continued to do all of the other things that she knows helps her to keep the Fibro pain at bay (healthy eating, regular exercise including swimming, supplements and fibro meds) but she skipped her Jin Shin Jyutsu sessions with me. She said that leaving out the Jin Shin Jyutsu sessions was the only thing that she changed in her care plan and she was surprised to discover just how much the regular Jin Shin Jyutsu sessions made a difference in her pain level.

A common question people have when they first set off on the healing path is, "How many sessions will this take?" Well, it varies depending on the nature of the your project and what you want to achieve. Each of us is unique, so consequently, there is no set number of required sessions that works for everyone.

Know that the body wants to heal itself. The amount of time it takes to heal depends on how long and how elaborately your energy system has been adjusting to the disharmonies in the energetic pathways of the body and how out of balance you are - body, mind and spirit.  

It takes awhile for us to get out of harmony. The goal of each healing session is to focus on the harmony and to return the body, mind, and spirit to a place of balance. By releasing the blockages of your flow of energy, the life-force energy in your body is increased. Each healing session allows us to find and release energies that you may have tied up in a specific project, such as health issues, relationships, emotions and attitudes or anything else you wish to work on to bring more joy and harmony into your life.  It is in this place of balance and free flowing energy that healing occurs.

The process of change and transformation can happen quickly but it does not run on a fixed schedule. The rate of improvement is specific to you and may include a reduction in pain, deep relaxation, an increase in energy, or an improvement in overall health. If the condition is acute, it will usually resolve in fewer treatments, while chronic conditions may take longer. Your rate of healing is also dependent on how much energy or change that your body/being can withstand at any given time. Each session builds on the last since the healing process works in layers. As some parts of your body begin to heal, new underlying patterns become exposed and can also be addressed. Over a period of time, we clear more and more issues and learn how to operate in a new and healthy way.

When more time is spent receiving healing, the healing patterns are set more strongly, so your body begins to heal faster. The effects of regularly returning your body to balance are cumulative and lead to deep and sustained changes in the your life. These effects can become long lasting with a maintenance program of regular Jin Shin Jyutsu sessions paired with daily self-help.
“Pain is such an uncomfortable feeling 
that even a tiny amount of it 
is enough to ruin every enjoyment.” 
~Will Rogers

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Inhaling the Purified Breath of Life

"Breath is the bridge which 
connects life to consciousness,
which unites your body to your thoughts." 
~Thich Nhat Hanh

     I love exploring the 8 Mudras of the Jin Shin Jyutsu Tradition. They are an important and easily accessible tool for balance and well-BEing. Mudras are the birthplace of what we now call Jin Shin Jyutsu. One hundred years ago, when Master Jiro Murai was diagnosed with an incurable illness, he asked to brought to the family cabin in the mountains of Japan. His family was instructed to come back in 7 days to see the outcome. It is said that the intense use of mudras while sitting in meditation and fasting turned his life energy around. He passed through fevers and chills during those days before losing consciousness and subsequently coming back to himself, feeling that he was free of whatever had caused him to be so ill. Murai believed that the simple act of joining right hand with left hand brings about a unity between body and mind.
     Unlike animals who primarily use their noses and mouths to experience their environment, we explore our world with our hands. Touch is important to our human experience thanks to 17,000 tactile receptors on the hand. We have about 4000 nerve endings at the tips of our fingers, giving our fingertips one of the densest collections of nerve endings in the body. The nerve endings connect with the energetic pathways of our organs and can influence them, relax, stimulate or balance them. Our hands are therefore an energy map of our consciousness and health with areas of the hand corresponding to different systems of the body as well as our various attitudes. By curling, crossing, stretching, and touching the fingers and palms, we can effectively talk to the body and mind. All of this is what makes mudras effective tools for balance and well-being.
     Anywhere you are, while on a break, sitting at a red light while in your car, waiting at the checkout, at your office or home, stillness can be yours. Mudras are easily learned and with a little practice you can do them at any time and place. A knowledge of these mudras allows us to send energy to any part of our being.
     The mudra pictured above is one of the 8 mudras that are part of the Practice of Jin Shin Jyutsu. It is known in our tradition as "Inhaling the Purified Breath of Life." This finger pose relieves asthma, back tension/stress and brings general well-being to the whole body. It aids in easier breathing allowing us to receive the purified Breath of Life. This pose helps us to bring harmony to our total being.
     Cynthia Broshi, International Jin Shin Jyutsu teacher, says, "Through their relationships the Mudras excavate, untangle and dissolve tensions. Singly and as a group they work with the relationship of Exhale and Inhale, building and breaking down. Some poses emphasize one or the other aspect of Breath, and utilizing each pose with the left and the right hand amplifies and blends these actions of Generation and Regeneration."
     Our power to harmonize, balance, and heal is literally in our own hands. Learn more about this practice and awareness in MUDRAS and MINDFULNESS, an ongoing weekly class held at the Sunshine Institute.  Join me for this study of harmonizing our energy channels through fingers and toes and the 8 Mudras of Jin Shin Jyutsu.

"Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary
to which you can retreat at any time 
and be yourself."
~Hermann Hesse 

Empowered Health and Well-BEing

"Begin doing what you want to do now.
We are not living in eternity.
We have only this moment,
sparkling like a star in our hand 
and melting like a snowflake."
~Marie Beynon Ray

Empowering people through self-help is one of my missions as a holistic practitioner. Each of my clients receive self-help routines to do on their own, tailored to their particular needs and abilities. This enables them to extend the benefits of the work that we do together by developing a personal daily practice. It is the time one puts into self-help/self-reflection that strengthens the pathway for healing.

I find that the most effective self-help is self-help that is done with the least amount of effort. It can be as easy as holding a finger or doing a one-step "quickie". You can do an entire flow or just the steps that feel good to you. Whatever you do for yourself will be beneficial. The results are not always immediate, nor do they always come in the form that you are looking for, but on some causal level they are working for you, peeling the deep layers and clearing the way for balance and healing.

Here are some tips to help you in your personal self-help practice:
  • Relax- just be as you are.
  • Use whatever position is most convenient, practical or comfortable for you.
  • Ideally, apply each step or connection until a rhythmic pulsation can be felt. But if time is limited, hold for as much time as you have available.
  • All sequences can be adjusted to suit you.
  • Be comfortable. If you can not reach a step, you can skip it and go on to the next step that you can reach without straining.
  • Jin Shin Jyutsu works effectively over clothing, bandage, brace or cast.
  • Use your entire hand, one finger, or several fingers, your  palm or back of the hand whatever is easy, comfortable and convenient at the time.
  • No strength is required. It is not necessary to apply pressure, to rub or massage.
Mary Burmeister encourages us to "...Simply adjust the sequence to your own convenience and comfort. If for instance, a "step" feels most revitalizing to you, just get into the habit, in your art of LIVING, of utilizing that step as your own 'special' quickie revitalizing exercise. The art of LIVING is simple. You are the artist."

The only time Jin Shin Jyutsu is not effective is when you are not using it. So pick something simple and do it every day. Make a daily goal of 20 minutes to start with and build up to more time eventually. The time spent with self-help need not be continuous, but can be 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there. Make it work for you however you can. Do not be discouraged. Remember that the results are not always immediate, nor do they always come in the form that you are looking for, but on some causal level they are working for you, peeling the deep layers and clearing the way for balance and healing.

To help you on your healing path, consider taking a self-help class. The guidance and confidence that you gain by taking a class will help you to establish your personal habit of self-care.

"Your body is precious.
It is our vehicle for awakening.
Treat it with care."