Monday, December 31, 2007


Ah, praise. Perhaps some of you find yourself frequently encountering it; maybe it curls up with you on a cold evening or takes you out for fancy dinners on school nights. Or perhaps it even leaves little gold stars on your pillow in the morning just so your day will start with a nice spot of sparkle. I hope this is the case for you.

I hope that you are given praise at every turn with thank-yous galore. I also hope that you hear things like, "you are talented," "you are smart," "you are beautiful," "you are gifted" and "you are valuable." And I not only hope that you hear these praises, but that you feel them as well. I hope you feel them in the actions of others. I hope that in whatever job you hold, you know (and are told frequently) that your work and presence are valuable (and I hope you get regular raises). Why should we find out that we are valuable to the organizations we work for just as we leave our jobs? I hope that your friends, family, and significant other remind you that you are loved. Why does it sometimes take a crisis for us to tell each other how much we care for each other?

While I hope you are receiving buckets full of praise in your life, my guess is that you could receive much, much more of it. Sadly, praise seems to be an elusive little thing these days, hiding in the shadows, burying itself with the eight track tapes in the attic. I believe that we don't give each other enough praise -- even on a daily basis. Even the very straight-forward "good job" and "thank you" are simple, yet affecting ways to show appreciation. Oh, how many of us don't know how our actions or mere presence affect others!

So, starting today, I am on a praise campaign. I will try to remember to give warm fuzzies, kudos, and positive acknowledgment to those in my life and to those who I encounter. When I notice something beautiful, well done, or kind, I will say so. If you see a flash of light across the sky, it is me in my superhero costume (I'm "Praise Girl," of course) spreading positive feedback throughout the land.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Abundance Box Workshop: January 2008!

I'm delighted to be offering "Intentional Desires: An Abundance Box Workshop" once again! Click on the flyer above for a larger view.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Yoga & Ayurveda Workshop

My friend and bodywork colleague Bethanie Sand is offering a great workshop I want to share with you:

Yoga and Ayurveda:

Yoga and Ayurveda are considered “sister sciences”, both coming from the wisdom of the Vedas. Once we have determined our Ayurvedic constitution (our Dosha) we can use this knowledge to tailor a yoga practice that is most compatible with our needs. We will determine our Ayurvedic constitution and from there learn about yoga poses, breathing practices and meditation techniques that are best suited for each Dosha.

Please join us Saturday, Jan.12, 2008 from 2-4:30pm; $40
NW Community Yoga Studio: 701 NW 70th St. in Ballard

Contact Bethanie at: (206) 949-8442 for more information or to register.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Abundance Abounds!

This afternoon, seven creative women gathered at my home for "Intentional Desires: An Abundance Box Workshop." What abundance right from the start!

With dreams, visions, and positive intentions in our hearts and minds, we explored the abundance we wish to receive in our lives through the process of creating abundance boxes. My lovely participants ruffled through images and decorative papers; sifted through bowls of Chinese fortunes, colored feathers, and semi-precious stones; and painted, glued, and glittered their way into understanding the intention of their boxes.

Many remarked how the process of creating took them to deeper (and surprising) levels. I often find this is true for me whenever I create art; even when I hold a specific theme in mind, I find that the images and colors I am drawn to end up transforming my art -- and I find myself transforming in the process.

To my dear participants: thank you for your openness, creative energy, and willingness to dream thoughtful dreams.

Note #1: I may offer this workshop again in January. If you are interested in attending, please send me an email.

Note #2: The photographs in this post are a few of my abundance boxes. From top to bottom: Creativity (Writer) Box, Contemplation and Spiritual Clarity Box, Rising Bird Healing Arts Prosperity Box, and Health and Wellness Box.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Body's Memory

“To embrace our body’s truth is to embrace our past. There is no other way. The body is home to all that has happened to us, and it remembers."

“We must go to the cells for our truth."

--John Lee, Writing from the Body

If our body does indeed remember all that has happened to us in our lives, imagine how much it knows about us. Imagine how much we can learn about ourselves when we listen deeply to what our body has to tell us. We know that the body responds to daily stimuli -- temperature, light, sound, vibration, etc.--but I believe it also responds to inner rhythms or memories within us. Have you ever involuntarily responded to something and later realized with your conscious mind why you had such a reaction? Or think of a time during a massage when you've suddenly felt an emotion unexpectedly surface without your knowing exactly why.

It is so moving and powerful for me to witness, time and time again, how conscious touch can reveal a person's history within their own skin. In massage school, I had a practice client who had some old scars on her body related to abdominal surgery when she was a child. When I massaged the scar tissue on her abdomen, childhood memories emerged and she was able to release an emotional holding related to fear and pain that she had been holding in that area of her body. And in a most beautiful way, both her physical and emotional tension related to her surgery came to the surface and then slowly melted away.

I need to take a deep breath now as I write this, for I remember that moment in my body, too. Sigh.

What does your body remember?

Try this: The History of a Scar

We all have scars. Well, I think most of us do anyhow. Choose one of the scars on your body, whether this mark on your skin is wide and deep or microscopic in size, and write its history. Start with how the scar came to be. Recall the moment when you received this mark on your body. Record not only how you physically felt, but also what emotions or thoughts came with the experience. Remember to write down your sensory experience, too -- sight, sound, smell, taste, touch.

Now, document the life of this scar. How has it changed over time? Has it faded? Stayed the same? Are there emotions still hiding in the creases of your skin or in the depths of your heart?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Living With (and Without) Grace

“Grace: The exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor; disposition to benefit or serve another; favor bestowed or privilege conferred.”

Today would have been my grandmother’s 92nd birthday. Grace died last December, just shy of the new year. All day I have been thinking about what is has been like to live with grace after the loss of Grace.

My grandmother taught me the art of listening deeply, with pure openness and compassion. She always seemed to live very much in the present moment, and she met me wherever I was in my life without judgment. She saw the present me, not some shadow of my former self.

This capacity for listening, true and genuine listening, without judgment, is a powerful gift she gave to me. And, this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye reminds me of this gift—and of Grace.

You Have to Be Careful

You have to be careful telling things.
Some ears are tunnels.
Your words will go and get lost in the dark.
Some ears are flat pans like the miners uses
looking for gold.
What you say will be washed out with the stones.

You look a long time till you find the right ears.
Till then, there are birds and lamps to be spoken to,
a patient cloth rubbing shine in circles,
and the slow, gradually growing posibility
that when you find such ears,
they already know.

May we all become the open and accepting ears for each other, listening deeply with compassion and grace.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Self-Focus Day

Today is my birthday. [Insert high-pitched "Yay me!" voice here]. For me, birthdays are about self-care, self-love, and self-celebration. So today, I am embracing this self-focused energy with full force.

My day began with a wonderful massage with Tom Gowian, my trusted massage practitioner and certified herbalist. I resonate with Tom's approach so much that I drive all the way to Kenmore for treatments from him each month. I left Tom's space warm, calm, and with a greater sense of connectivity in my body. Lovely how massage does that! (BTW, Tom has a great online "health analyzer"; to take the quiz, click here.)

Next up: a day at the spa. Olympus Spa has become so popular that I venture to guess many of you know of it--and perhaps many of you have already experienced it! This Korean Day Spa has two locations (Lynnwood and Tacoma) and is for women only. And the amazing deal is that on your birthday, the entrance fee ($35) is waived. The Lynnwood location has warm whirlpools, a steam room, a dry sauna, and heated earth rooms. Today I took advantage of the heated earth rooms, which served to warm me to the core. The healing power of these hot rooms (ranging from 75-degrees to 170-degrees) is in their ability to help expel toxins from the body, increase circulation, reduce stress and fatigue, and help ease sore muscles.

This visit, my favorite room was the Salt Room. The walls are lined with salt rocks and the floor is a bed of salt covered by canvas. This room was a sweat-producing 140-degrees; I felt my back muscles soften as my body absorbed the healing power of the salt beneath me. I also visited the Sand Room, the Charcoal Room (also one of my favorites), the Meditation Room, and the Elvan Stone Room. Healing. Cleansing. Heavenly. I highly recommend this spa on your birthday or any day.

And speaking of any day, it's clear to me that I need not wait for my birthday to give myself a day (or fifteen minutes or an hour) of self-care. Today was a special treat, but I can find that inner calm and peace with a bit of time, some healing intention, and some inner focus. Even a fifteen-minute meditation can help restore me. What about you? What do you do to care for yourself on a daily basis?

Friday, November 30, 2007

What’s Not Wrong

It seems I am in need of a lesson in “what’s not wrong.” You see, I’ve been struggling with a bad cold since Thanksgiving. I’m much, much better this week, with just a bit of laryngitis lingering in my voice. But boy has it been rough. During the unpleasant depths of my cold I recall telling myself something like this: “I will be so thankful when I am better.”

Then, last night, while having a hard time falling asleep, I picked up my tried and true copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace is Every Step. I opened to his section called “What’s Not Wrong.” I knew this chapter would have something important to tell me. And it did. Hanh writes, “I enjoy breathing every day. But many people appreciate the joy of breathing only when they have asthma or a stuffed-up nose. We don’t need to wait until we have asthma to enjoy our breathing….Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other, the wonder of our breathing. We don’t have to travel anywhere else to do so. We can be in touch with these things right now.”

Sometimes I find it so challenging to be thankful when I am struggling. I tend to be future-oriented, hoping for the passing of whatever it is that is ailing me. What if, instead of berating my sore throat, congested sinuses, and croaky voice, I had said, “Thank you, dear body, for fighting this cold for me. You are powerful indeed”? What if I had felt thankful for my body’s ability to know when to rest (and boy did I rest over the past week!)? Or what if I had said (and this feels quite radical and strange to me), “I am thankful for my health”? How can I tell my sick body that I am thankful for its health? I guess in the same way I can tell myself I am beautiful, smart, or successful during moments when I don’t feel quite so.

So, I ask myself now: what’s not wrong? And I can honestly answer: a lot. There is much I enjoy and am thankful for, including my hands typing this blog entry, my warm cup of tea, and the soothing blaze of the fireplace at this cafĂ© where I am writing to you now. And yes, I am even thankful for this croaky voice. There is depth to it and I feel a bit mysterious with the accent of huskiness on my breath. I didn’t think I’d find a reason to be thankful for this, but here I am doing it. What do you have to be thankful for right this moment?

Try this:

It's list time. Write down everything that is not wrong in your life. What is right, good, positive, or enjoyable? That’s the easy part. Now, focus on some struggles you are having. See if you can find a way to be thankful for these things, too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ends and Odds

This December seems to be shaping up to be quite an event-filled month for me. Not only is it my birth month, but it's turning out to be a month for creativity and abundance!

My Abundance Box Workshop is on December 22 (see previous post), and there are just two spots left! If you have an interest in focusing on your hopes and dreams for the new year, consider signing up!

* * *

I'm also hosting a Holiday Art Show at Rising Bird Healing Arts on Thursday, December 13, from 6-9pm. This season, I will be joined by the talented Kristin Stubbs, whose art takes the form of unique and exquisite jewelry pieces.
  • Jewelry and original art for sale!
  • Art cards and prints for sale!
  • Enter to win a free massage!
  • Enjoy some delectable refreshments!
For more information about the show and the artists, click here.

* * *

Speaking of creative endeavors, I am accepting submissions for my upcoming Winter 2008 "Healing Nest" Newsletter. The writing/art prompts are as follows:

Art Prompt:
When was the last time you fingerpainted? I will guess that for many of you, it has been many years—too many years! This art exercise is all about expression and tapping into your kinesthetic self. Color, gesture, motion. Try fingerpainting any pain you are experiencing in your body. What color is your pain? Feel free to be messy and express whatever it is you need to express. Now, paint your good health. What shapes and colors represent your optimal health? And how are these paintings different from one another? Are there any similarities? Non-toxic children’s paints are the best to use, for they are better for your skin and easier to clean up.

Writing Prompt:
Did you know that the strongest muscle in the human body (for its size) is the masseter? The masseter is located in the jaw and it is our major chewing muscle. When I massage this area on my clients, very often I find the masseter to be quite tight and tense. I consider the jaw a Fifth (Throat) Chakra element, which has to do with communication, creativity, and expression. For this writing exercise, write in the voice of your jaw. Is your jaw cranky or bubbly? Does it complain of aches and pains or is it pleased with the way you treat it? See what emerges when you let the strongest muscle in your body speak. What does it have to tell you?

Submit your creations via email ( by December 15, 2007.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Abundance Box Workshop!

Intentional Desires: An Abundance Box Workshop
Facilitated by Courtney Putnam, MFA, LMP, CRP

Date: Winter Solstice 2007 (Saturday, December 22)
Time: 3:00-6:00pm
Location: Rising Bird Healing Arts
To Register: Email Courtney Putnam at
Cost: $30 (checks and cash accepted); space is limited to eight people

Abundance [n]: great amount or supply; bounty, fortune, plentitude, prosperity, thriving

What do you want in your life? Better health? A terrific job? Creative energy? Strong relationships? Financial security?

Join me for an afternoon of envisioning your own abundance. In this hands-on workshop, you will explore your dreams and goals and create an abundance box as a visual representation of what you wish to manifest in your life. This is a time for thinking big, pulling your ingenious ideas out of the cobwebs of your mind, and giving life to your desires!

The purpose of an abundance box is to channel your intentions, goals, and visions into a symbolic artifact. Inside this box you will place small objects that characterize the things you wish to actualize. Think about what aspect of your life you would like to give a little positive intention. Are there goals and dreams you are ready to make real?

In this workshop you will create your very own abundance box and fill it with objects that represent what you hope to bring to life. We will also explore some principles of Feng Shui, which may enhance or inform the intention and placement of your box. Using a Feng Shui bagua (map) as your guide, you will determine where your box is best placed in your own home.

You bring (if you wish): Any significant images, symbols, or objects with which to 1) decorate your box, and to 2) place inside your box. I provide: Boxes of varying shapes and sizes, art supplies, collage supplies and decorative papers. Tea and light snacks will be provided.

About Courtney:
Courtney Putnam is a licensed massage practitioner and certified Reiki practitioner who offers a holistic approach to wellness. She is a poet and visual artist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. With a strong belief in the mind-body connection, Courtney encourages creative expression as a vehicle for healing on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. To learn more about her practice, visit

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Crazy, Sexy Life!

In 2003, Kris Carr, a young woman from New York, was diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer. Have you heard of her? She is the subject of the TLC documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer (which I have yet to see, but want to see), and is the author of Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips.

What I find so compelling about Kris' story is that even with cancer, she feels she is living the most amazing, juicy, healthy life.
And she poses such an important question: "Why, when we are challenged to survive, do we give ourselves permission to truly live?" When I visited her website and read that question, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Why, when we are confronted with illness (or our own mortality), do we then start thinking about making healthy and positive changes in our lives?

Kris truly believes that cancer has given her a gift of a new life. She feels like she is more healthy
with cancer than she was before cancer due to many changes she has made in her diet and lifestyle. And she feels more passionate about life and more emotionally well than she has ever been.

What can you do now, with or without illness, to make your experience of your life more meaningful, pleasurable, and, well, sexy? Do you have dreams that have been dormant that could now see the light of day? Are there changes you want to make related to your physical health that you've been putting off for another day, or month, or year?
We hear the phrase, "live each moment like it were your last" and yet how many of us actually do this? Kris is an example of a woman who embodies that phrase with balance, courage, and gusto.

To visit Kris' lively and informative blog, click here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Music for the Body and Soul

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting the talented composer Mike Wall, who had just released his first CD called "Passage."

Mike "tested" this CD on me prior to its release, for he hoped that massage therapists and other wellness practitioners would find his tracks a therapeutic complement to their work. I was taken with his music right away and I found the "Passage" tracks to be soothing and full of healing intention.

In the most recent issue of the Massage Therapy Journal, music reviewer Clare Laplante described Wall's CD as "a skillful mix of acoustic and electronic instruments" combined with "ocean, wind, and bird songs recorded in a state park near Monterey, California." The seamless combination of human-made and nature-made sounds lulls my clients to a deeply relaxed state and allows me to be slow, methodical, and intuitive in my work.

This one-hour musical experience is included in the standard CD rotation of my business. I also listen to this CD on my own when I want to drop to a deep state of calm in my body while at the same time rise to a more mindful, self-aware place in my mind and heart.

To learn more about "Passage" and to listen to samples of the CD, feel free to visit CD

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Simple Kindness

Several years ago I received a surprise phone call from my past. It was late in the evening when the phone rang. The young man on the other end of the line seemed excited that he had found me-- that indeed I was the "right" Courtney who shared seventh grade English with him at Kellogg Middle School.

To my embarrassment, I had no idea at the time who this eager young man was. As he updated me on his life, I scanned my mind furiously, searching for a clue. A flash of his face suddenly came to me, and then I remembered his voice--now deeper, of course, but his speech patterns were the same.

After catching up with one another (and my catching up with my own memory), there was a long pause. But this person from my past soon filled it with a surprising message. "I called to say thank you, " he said, "for being nice to me in English class." As he took a deep breath, my body remembered how he was taunted in school, how he so clearly struggled to find acceptance from others. My stomach and chest began to feel tight, constricted. He continued, "It meant a lot to me that you were so kind."

Again, I scoured my mind for details. Did I stop a bully from hitting him? Did I stand up for him when people called him names? I don't remember doing any of these things. The only thing I remember doing was treating him like a human being.

I am reminded of this story today because I've been reflecting quite a lot about the significance of the work that I do. I find myself wondering if, massage not withstanding, my listening and my holding a safe place for others makes an impact. After all, I am not "curing" someone's ailments or "fixing" their problems. I am just being with them. How powerful, it suddenly occurs to me, that we are human beings. We have the potential to make a great impact on another's life with our mere presence and attention.

Our kindness can come from our ability to slow down our own lives enough to listen to one another. It's now becoming clearer to me that simple, authentic listening may well be one of the most powerful tools
that we have for healing.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Tummy Love

This may sound a bit odd, but I've been thinking quite a bit about my stomach lately. And more specifically, I've been reflecting on how little attention it gets.

The lack of attention to my stomach became very clear to me when, two weeks ago, I received a wonderful Ayurvedic massage from my friend and massage colleague, Bethanie Sand. In her Ayurvedic massage sequence, Bethanie uses a lot of oil (a quality of this ancient Indian form of bodywork) and makes therapeutic contact with each area of the body, including the abdomen. Now, I've given and received abdominal massage many, many times, mostly in massage school, but it had been quite a long time since I'd experienced the calming, soothing, and therapeutic benefits of attention to this area of my body.

I had forgotten how abdominal massage relaxes my diaphragm and allows me to breathe big, full breaths; how I feel a 3-D awareness of my whole body when my stomach is touched; how my organs feel soothed and attended to; how any release of tension in my stomach muscles also releases tension in my back and other areas of my body; and how massage reflexively facilitates peristalsis, helping my body in its process of digestion and elimination.

Most importantly, though, this attention to my tummy enabled me to love it just a bit more. We live in a culture which teaches us to hold in our breath and stomachs tightly, to sculpt flat, hard muscles, and to cinch in our waists. It is relatively impossible to do any of those things during an abdominal massage. Instead, the stomach is praised for it's curves and bulges and expansiveness.

I have given perhaps two to three abdominal massages in the last year-and-a-half of my practice. So, why don't more clients ask for abdominal massage? For one thing, it can feel a wee bit vulnerable. We're not used to baring our tummies to one another. And, we're not used to touching our stomachs ourselves, let alone having someone else knead our tummies like dough. The therapeutic effects of tummy attention, however, seem, at least to me, to override any self-consciousness I initially feel.

So take a deep breath into your belly and give it some love and thanks. You may even surprise yourself and consider asking for abdominal massage at your next appointment. Until then, here's an exercise you can do yourself:

"Sun and Moon" Self-Massage

Imagine that your left hand is the sun and your right is the moon. Place your left "sun hand" on your belly and circle your belly button in a clockwise direction. Place your right "moon" hand on your belly and follow the sun in the circle, moving over it when the hands cross. Move slowly and with light to medium pressure, depending on your comfort level. This stroke reflexively reinforces peristalsis and aids in the sensory and energetic awareness of your body.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Our Choices

This week I attended the Western Literature Conference in Tacoma, WA. I had the pleasure of spending some quality time with the poignant and powerful poet Tess Gallagher.

I want to share one of her short poems with you, as I just cannot stop thinking about it:


I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to the snow
on the mountain. But when I look up,
saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don't cut that one.
I don't cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,
an unseen nest
where a mountain
would be.

-Tess Gallagher, Dear Ghosts,

I think of the choices we have in this life. We can choose to treat ourselves well or poorly; we can choose to see what is in front of us this very moment or ignore it; we can see people and ideas through one narrow lens or through a kaleidoscope of different angles and perspectives. How many nests (literal or figurative) have been removed for the sake of a better view?

Try this:
Write about what choices you have made in your life that you feel have been mindful, thoughtful, and filled with integrity. What event or moment allowed you to see something clearly for the first time? What happens when you feel you have no choice, when you feel stuck or trapped?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Autumn Newsletter

I am pleased to share another "Healing Nest" newsletter with you.

This issue goes especially well with a cup of tea or cocoa and a fuzzy blanket.

In this issue:
  • New to my practice: Hot Stone Massage!
  • S.A.D.: ways to find the sunshine within
  • Autumn Special: "Inner Stream"
  • Client artistic contributions & new creative prompts
  • Updated sessions and rates
Click on the following link to view/download the .PDF newsletter:



Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Rock Love

I will admit it: I have a deep and insatiable love for rocks. My favorite place to commune with rocks is in the Naches River, which runs through the Wenatchee National Forest here in Washington State. My family has a cabin near the Naches and my favorite time to visit is in the summer when I can immerse my sun-heated body into the glacial-cold waters of the river. I spend hours (yes, literally hours) making rock pools in the river. My arms and legs become numb from the cold, but I don’t mind this. (This is great for shin splints and tendinitis, by the way!)

A friend once remarked to me as I was building, “I’ve never seen anyone take so much pleasure in stacking rocks.” It’s true! The rocks feel smooth and supple in my hands and I feel so strong lifting them in order to build the walls of my pool--even as the current threatens to knock my creation over. That’s the beauty of it, though: my pools are not stagnant entities, but rather art pieces for nature to do with as she pleases.

So, why all of this talk of rock love? Well, as it so happens, I have added rocks to my practice, but this time they are not as cold as glacial waters or as heavy as those from the Naches. These rocks are basalt stones, heated to about 120 degrees and used in massage. This healing modality is most often called Hot Stone Massage, but is sometimes also called Healing Stone Massage. In either case, the purpose is the same: to warm the body, to soothe the nervous system, and to aid in relaxation and healing.

Basalt is a “fine-grained rock of volcanic origin, dark gray, dark green, brown, reddish, or black in color. Basalt is an igneous rock, i.e., one that has congealed from a molten state.” Due to their high iron content, basalt stones retain heat for long periods of time, penetrating your muscles deeply and evenly, and helping to soften your tissues and to calm your nervous system. These stones have been smoothed naturally by the waters from which they came, so the shape, consistency, and texture of each stone is unique. I have small, thin stones to place in between your toes, as well larger stones for your back, which can retain their heat for the length of a massage. And I have many more sizes in between for the legs, arms, chest, stomach, shoulders and face.

Hot stones may be used to provide deep, soothing heat to your tired or tense muscles. The treatment is a combination of using stones stationary on the body to promote relaxation and to soften muscle tissue as well as used as part of the massage itself, providing warmth and aiding in the release of tight muscles by using the contours of the stones for some deeper work. Heated stones may also be used for energetic healing by placing hot stones on the seven major chakras.

When my own massage practitioner uses hot stones during my massage treatments, I always seem to go to a deeper level in my relaxation. The penetrating heat softens my muscles, and I am able to let my guard down. The weight of the stones is comforting to me, rather like the nurturing feeling I get when my cat sleeps on my belly or chest.

So, it pleases me to be able to “stack rocks” in my practice now, even if I am not immersed in 40-degree water, listening to that soothing rush of the river. My nature CD with the sound of rushing water will have to do until next summer when I can start building my rock pools all over again.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rain Medicine

The rain is full force today, and I am resisting the temptation to call this rain “awful” and “terrible.” I am trying to embrace autumn after all, not be cruel and call it names.

This morning I drove my partner to Granite Falls, WA to the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America where he received a Shingan Joju Kigan ceremony (a Shinto ceremony for “realization of heartfelt wishes”). This was a birthday gift and a surprise, and it was during our time that I actually felt the pleasure and cleansing power of rain—a sensation I have not felt in a very long time.

The grounds around the Shinto temple are landscaped with bamboo, stone structures, fountains, and other beautiful adornments from Japan. As we walked in the rain toward the temple, I noticed how quiet it was. I heard our steps crunching on the rocks so clearly, and I heard the rain’s sweet patter on the autumn-hued trees and plants around us. I looked up at the sky, gray as it was, and said aloud, “This rain feels cleansing.” I said it almost as a question, as if I couldn’t quite believe my own words. I closed my eyes and surrendered to the sky, letting the water hit my skin, causing little streaks, almost like tears. But these clearly weren’t my tears and this rain was not melancholy: it was gentle and comforting somehow. And refreshing.

After the powerful and centering ceremony, my partner and I walked the grounds just a bit more. Near the path to the river was a stone statue of a frog. As soon as I saw him, his placement made sense to me, for Frog is often associated with water and cleansing energy. In David Carson’s Medicine Cards, he writes, “Frog medicine is akin to water energy, and the East on the medicine wheel. Frog teaches us to honor our tears, for they cleanse the soul.”

This passage made me wonder about the purity we must attain each year here in the northwest after months of fall and winter rain. It also made me recall moments of my own tears and how they have seemed to purify me by my release of built up pain. And I think of the tears that flow for some of my clients during our massage or Reiki sessions; I welcome these tears with open arms and some of my clients are surprised by this reception. I tell them, “This session is about you, not just your muscles, not just your sore back; it’s about the whole you, so if tears must come, we will let them flow. And we will attend to all of you.”

Carson also writes, “Like Frog, we are asked to know when it is time to refresh, purify, and refill the coffers of the soul.” It occurs to me that autumn and winter may be just that for me – a time to refill the coffers of my soul. And perhaps like frog, I can learn to appreciate these drippy, soggy days because they remind me to honor the deep waters within me.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Inner Wisdom

Even though it may not feel like it sometimes, I believe that you know you the best.

This thought came to me the other week when a woman I'd just met asked me about my astrological sign. When I told her I was a Sagittarius, she said excitedly, "You must be a people person! I can tell you are!" A feeling of confusion washed over me. And an image from my childhood flashed through my mind:

My parents are expecting company. We've spent the whole day cleaning; it was my job to straighten the living room. I hear an unfamiliar car roll into the driveway. My heart starts to pound. I hear two sets of footsteps climb the steps to the front porch and then I jump at the sound of the door bell's ring. I rush to the big brown chair and squeeze my body under it, roll into a ball.

A "people person" I said to myself over and over, trying to make it stick. I love people, particularly one-on-one; I love connecting to others; and I love helping people. This was all true. But, a "people person"? I take a deep breath, take in those words and they just don't seem to fit. I tell my partner this story when I get home. He laughs out loud and says, "I think you're more of an animal person." I chuckle. There's some truth in that.

This encounter (and my explorations about it) made me realize that there may be a lot that gets in the way of our full understanding of ourselves at any given time. But I feel that we each know our body and mind the best, for we are the ones who live in our own skin. Others can help us see things we've been ignoring, guide us to explore an issue more deeply, and point to other ways or modes we might consider. But I believe that when we really listen to ourselves,
really listen, we know ourselves to the very core.

Your sense of intuition and inner knowing is part of what the Sixth (or Third Eye) Chakra* is all about. This chakra is about seeing and processing the world around you and your own own internal world. It is about trusting what you feel and know. And this trust is hard to come by sometimes; self-doubt is a persistent visitor to many of us.

As a way to listen deeply to the wisdom of your Third Eye,
try this:

Make a list of attributes that other people commonly associate with you (feel free to call up a friend for some ideas). Write this list without censor or judgment. Now, light a candle, focus on the candle's flickering light, and sit with this list. When you're ready, take some deep breaths, focus some energy in your third eye area (feel free to touch this area if you feel you need a stronger connection), and begin to circle the attributes that you truly feel represent aspects of yourself. Now notice what's missing. What words or phrases uniquely represent you? Now add these words to your list and circle them. Do you feel this list now truly represents you?

Sometimes I do this same exercise with a difficult decision I need to make. I write a list of "shoulds" -- all the possible actions I could take, including ones that make me cringe. I sit with the list and start my candle meditation. Then, I focus on my Third Eye, letting my inner wisdom guide me, and I begin to circle the actions that I feel most resonate with me. Sometimes I have to re-visit this list for a couple of days before I trust that I know the best course of action.

How do you feel you are guided by your inner wisdom? What does the wisdom of your Third Eye have to tell you?

*Some more details about the Sixth Chakra:
The Third Eye is located in the center of your head, just above eye level. The color associated with this chakra is indigo. When this chakra is blocked or out of balance, we may experience headaches, nightmares, eye strain, blurred vision, and a sense of feeling mentally "foggy." Gemstones thought to aid in opening this chakra: amethyst, moonstone, sugalite.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Reasons to Love Your Body

"She Learns to Love Her Body," mixed media collage painting with wax.

Try this:

List 20 reasons why you love your body. Think of all the ways your body supports you, gives you feelings of delight, and adapts to so many situations and circumstances. After listing at least 20 reasons (I know you can do it!), choose three to focus on more closely. Now draw a picture of each of these three reasons. What colors, textures, or symbols represent the appreciation you feel? Feel free to post these art pieces around your home, particularly in places where you may need a little reminder to love your body a bit more (i.e. the bathroom mirror). Your body is amazing; remember to give thanks regularly.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Turning Inward

I have been noticing the subtle change of seasons--particularly the lower angle of the sunlight--and this has made me turn inward a bit more as I anticipate the arrival of fall. I do have to admit: the transition from summer to fall is one of the most difficult transitions for me each year. I try to tell myself that fall is "cozy," and it isn't until the heart of fall that I admit to myself that yes, curling up with a book in front of the fire is indeed cozy. Who cares if it's pouring rain outside. I usually mourn summer for about two months before I can enter autumn with positive intention.

Even though I covet spring and summer, what's interesting is that fall and winter really do reflect very prominent aspects of myself: introversion and reflection. So, this year, I am going to attempt to embrace (and dare I say celebrate?) the upcoming days of autumn with an open heart. And part of this process of acceptance means that I must embrace all aspects of myself -- including my dark, dank, and soggy autumnal sides. I almost think of my fall self as a "secret self," the part of me I tend to bury.

So in honor of embracing this seasonal transition and turning inward, I recommend trying Julia Cameron's "Secret Selves" exercise.
In Cameron's book The Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart, she writes, "Each of our Secret Selves has a particular timbre that enriches the song of our life." By reflecting on aspects of yourself that are a bit hidden, you may find that these selves may benefit from reaching the light of day. Perhaps your secret tough side could surface a bit more at work when you need to create clear boundaries. Or maybe you tend to bury your soft and cuddly side, and a friend in need could use a bit of this teddy bear energy.

So, strike up your internal symphony and name at least five of your Secret Selves. The second part of the exercise is to pretend to open the closet of each of your Secret Selves. What do you find?

Here are my five "Secret Selves" I came up with for the first part of this exercise:

1. Edgy Grrl
2. Competition Jackie
3. Tough Nelly
4. Perfection Priscilla
5. Silly Sister

Whitman writes that we "contain multitudes." This autumn, who will you find inside you waiting to be listened to, nurtured, called out, or given a chance to transform and change?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tricks of the Trade

After my long walk around Greenlake this morning, my quads felt tight and my knees sore. I did a little self-massage on my quads and I found that these muscles did feel quite tight, contracted, and ropey. The massage helped for sure, but I decided to pull another bodywork trick from my toolbox: muscle energy techniques. The two techniques that I employ the most (for myself as well as for my clients) are reciprocal inhibition and contract-relax. These two techniques help soften and lengthen tight, contracted muscles. And you can experiment with these two methods in the comfort of your own home or even at work.

So, today I started with a contract-relax exercise, which is basically the process of contracting the muscle that is already tight, holding the tension for about five slow breaths, and then releasing the tension. Whenever I do this exercise, I imagine that I am giving my muscles a little lesson on relaxation. It's as if I am saying to my quads, "This is what tense is. Feel it?" as I tense my muscles even more. When I relax, it's as if I am saying to my muscles, "See, this is what relaxed feels like." I do this exercise at least three times and then do a quad stretch to add more length to the muscle.

Reciprocal inhibition is the process of relaxing muscles on one side of a joint by contracting the muscles on the other side of the joint. So, for example, if I want to relax my quads, I need to tighten my hamstrings. If I want to relax my hamstrings, I must tighten my quads. I use the same technique of holding the contraction on the opposing muscle group for a good five breaths before stretching.

Try experimenting with this yourself to see which method your body seems to respond to the best. You can do either of these techniques with any muscle group. Here are some examples of common reciprocal inhibition exercises to give you an idea: contract your abdominals to relax your back muscles; flex your head to one side with resistance to soften the opposite side of your neck; for tight calves, hook your toe under a chair or couch to tighten your shin muscles, consequently loosening your calves.

Always remember to follow these techniques with gentle stretching. And remember to breathe. Breath is very important in sending the message to your body to let its guard down and relax.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Learning from Animals

I find animals' deep sensitivity and relatively straight forward approach to life to be refreshingly uncomplicated.

As a human being, I can complicate something as simple as a stomach ache. In a very human moment, a bit of indigestion means I have an ulcer and the thought of an ulcer reminds me that last week was stressful, which reminds me that I haven't been doing yoga in the mornings and this makes me worry that my lack of commitment to a healthy activity such as yoga means that I am undisciplined and I might as well just stop trying to do anything worthwhile because I'll just quit it anyway. How did I go from a stomach ache to feeling a lack of worth? We humans are complicated creatures!

Animals, on the other hand, so often reveal a different approach to life. Last week I learned a great deal about sensitivity and directness from my cat Mountie.

One day, I noticed that Mountie was looking a little tired and aggravated. After walking restlessly and meowing grumpily for a while, he jumped on the couch, sat my lap and looked up at me. If Mountie could speak human language, I imagine he would have said something like, "I don't feel so good. Can you do something?" I scanned Mountie with my hands and noticed that his abdomen was warm and "buzzing." All Reiki practitioners have different sensory experiences when it comes to knowing when and where to give Reiki, but this "buzzing" was my signal that Mountie could benefit from Reiki energy in his second and third chakras.

I placed both of my hands on Mountie's back and belly and let the Reiki energy flow. At first he fidgeted a bit, for I think he was wondering why I wasn't petting him like I usually do. But very quickly he rested his head on my lap, gave a big sigh, and closed his eyes. He settled into a comfortable sleep as I held him. After about 15 minutes, I felt the buzzing dissipate and he slept for another hour. When he awoke, he got up swiftly and happily, and asked for his dinner.

Both of my cats are aware on some level that when I touch them in a certain way, they feel calm, relaxed, and soothed. My other cat Selkie used to curl up on my massage table and meow until I touched him with Reiki energy. I worked with Alex the dog -- a beautiful Alaskan Malamute -- who didn't like to be cuddled or pet for very long, but allowed me to give her Reiki for over thirty minutes at a time. I believe that animals understand a simple intention for healing and they can feel healing energy without any interference -- the kind of mental gymnastics that we humans sometimes bring to the healing process.

I think animals know what they need. They try to tell us, and if we are listening we hear them and know what to do, too. I wonder if we can dig down inside ourselves and find the animal within us. I wonder if we can find that simple, sensitive creature who can simply ask for and receive comfort without strings or worries, who can trust that if we ask for healing, it will come to us.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sussing Out “Suchness”

Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh writes that in the Buddhist tradition, “’suchness’ is used to mean ‘the essence or particular characteristics of a thing or a person, its true nature.’” So, I might say that one’s essence is distinct from one’s personality, which is more like a coat we wear in order to deal with the world. I might also say that we have a personality; it is something that grows out of our essence, our true self.

Today I am meditating on this concept of suchness, trying to feel or recall when I’ve felt my own essence without the distraction of labels. It’s easy to describe aspects of my personality, but when it comes to my suchness I get stuck. Words don’t seem to come easily. Instead, I see colors, feel my stomach settling comfortably, my eyes feel clear and soft, a
nd a few images wander into my head. So, I try a different tactic; I draw a picture. After all, images can “say” much more than words can sometimes. Here is my drawing from

If you'd like to see the creation of this piece, click here.

Seeing someone else’s suchness is also quite powerful. I think that conflict between people often occurs because we don’t like aspects of another’s personality, not necessarily their essence. Someone’s gift for argument and rhetorical analysis may bump up against another’s peacemaking abilities and conflict avoidance. When we see someone’s essence, we understand what makes the other person tick. We understand how that person’s history and experiences affect how they interact in the world.

Try this:
When in an argument with another person, take a moment to squint at the other. Physically squint. Use this simple technique to remind yourself of the other’s suchness; see the other as a blur of colors, shapes, and energy. Remember that the other is not his or her personality but owns it, claims it, and wears it; the true person lies underneath like human bedrock waiting to be uncovered.

p.s. If you'd like to share your "essence drawing," please do! Feel free to post a link to your Artpad drawing in the comments box!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Art of Transformation

I just purchased Thich Nhat Hanh's book Peace is Every Step: The Path to Mindfulness in Everyday Life, and I want to share an excerpt about the power of transforming both physical and emotional issues that reside inside us.

In his section called "Non-Surgery, " Thich Nhat Hanh writes:

"Western medicine emphasizes surgery too much. Doctors want to take out the things that are not wanted. When we have something irregular in our body, too often they advise us to have an operation. The same seems to be true in psychotherapy. Therapists want to help us throw out what is not wanted and keep only what is wanted. But what is left may not be very much. If we try to throw away what we don't want, we may throw away most of ourselves.

Instead of acting as if we can dispose of parts of ourselves, we should learn the art of transformation. We can transform our anger, for example, into something more wholesome, like understanding. We do not need surgery to remove our anger. If we become angry at our anger, we will have two angers at the same time. We only have to observe it with love and attention. If we take care of our anger in this way, without trying to run away from it, it will transform itself. This is peacemaking. If we are peaceful in ourselves, we can make peace with our anger. We can deal with depression, anxiety, fear, or any unpleasant feeling in the same way."

I love his line, "If we become angry at our anger, we will have two angers at the same time." I call this the "double-whammy," and this is so easy to do to ourselves. During a particularly difficult time in my life, I was sad about my sadness, angry about my anger, and depressed about my depression. After duking it out with my melancholy too many times -- and feeling exhausted from the process -- I decided to try and sit with it. What did I have to lose? It took a lot of sitting and listening and being with myself to see that melancholy was not the enemy; in fact, it was trying to tell me something important about my beliefs and perceptions, the true causes of my feelings.

Hanh's idea of "non-surgery" for our emotions can also apply to our bodies. We can transform our feelings about our physical discomfort in a similar manner. When in pain, it is hard to just be with the pain and see what it has to tell us. This is particularly difficult when the pain is chronic and we are so tired of it. It's easy to feel pained by our pain. Again, the "double-whammy" shows its teeth. Below is a method I have used to deal with both physical and emotional discomfort.

Try this:

Feel what you feel. If your neck tension has been bothering you, feel this pain from the inside, as if you could travel inside your body and actually see and touch this place of pain. If you feel sad, feel the sadness wash over you; if tears come, let them flow freely. Imagine that your pain is another person who has come to you for comfort. Listen to her. Ask her why she feels this pain; ask her if she understands the root of her sadness. Remember to tell her to breathe. Remember to tell her that she is safe.

See if it makes a difference to view your pain in this manner -- as if it is a close friend or loved one who needs your support and guidance. See if your body's tension transforms into something softer, lighter. See if your sadness becomes something powerful and poignant.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Egoscue: Health Through Motion

Over the past several months, a massage colleague and friend of mine has been introducing me to Egoscue, a form of stretching and movement based in postural therapy, which allows the body to become stronger, to be more flexible, and to be free of pain. In exchange for massage or Reiki sessions, my colleague gives me sets of exercises which address the concerns of my body. I find these exercises tremendously helpful, and the task of completing my exercises every day -- yes, every day -- is no small feat! But, I've noticed, among many wonderful changes, decreased pain and increased range of motion and strength in my shoulders, chest, and upper back.

I thought I'd share an egoscue stretch that I find particularly helpful to open up the chest and give a good stretch to the spine. It's called the Upper Spinal Floor Twist. Sometimes I do this stretch two to three times a day.

Click here for a video demonstration of the stretch. Enjoy!

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Present Moment: An Exercise

When feeling "flighty," ungrounded, and disconnected from your body, try this*:

Write down the answers to these questions right now:
What do I hear?
What do I smell?
What do I taste, or remember tasting right now?
What are the sensations on my skin?
What do I see?

What does all of this make you remember? think about? wish for?

Write two pages (at least) based on being in the moment are in in
right now. What do you discover?

*This exercise is taken from Beth Baruch Joselow's book Writing Without the Muse.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Gender and Multi-Tasking

It has come to my attention lately that while I often juggle several tasks at one time, my partner is often deeply focused on one task.

Case in point: Yesterday my partner was engrossed in reading a comic book in the living room. He wasn't aware of the music I turned on the stereo or the cats that skittered past his feet. He was in his own comic-book universe. I, on the other hand, found myself boiling some water for tea, chasing the cats, thinking about an email I had to send, adding a massage appointment in my calendar and dancing a little jig to the music I had just turned on. I was a whirling dervish of multiple tasks and he was a laser beam of focus.

Now personality could account for this difference for sure. I know men who mutli-task and women who are mono-taskers, but I do wonder how much gender plays a role in our ability to multi-task. Do women multi-task more than men? I've read many articles highlighting such differences. Is this difference a product of evolutionary biology? Are women still gathering those various nuts and berries while attending to their children and men are still hunting that one antelope with the hope of producing the evening meal?

And more importantly, does women's ability to multi-task negatively affect our stress levels, or does this octopus-arm life make us more resilient and better able to deal with the stressors in our lives?

What do you think? What is your experience?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Some Thoughts About Touch

I'm coming up on my one-year anniversary of being a massage therapist (and fifth year of practicing Reiki). I've been reflecting quite a bit about how I made this journey to the healing arts and I've been thinking about the simple yet deep power of touch.

In Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of the Senses, she explores the scientific, cultural, artistic, and philosophical aspects of the human senses. In her chapter "Touch," Ackerman describes the skin as having eyes, as if it were its own being encountering the world. She also writes about the nature of "subliminal touch," or touch that may be "so subtle as to be overlooked," but "doesn't go unnoticed by the subterranean mind." She sites several "touch studies," and I found this one particularly interesting:

"At Purdue University Library, a woman librarian goes about her business, checking out people's books. She is part of an experiment in subliminal touch, and knows that half the time s
he is to do nothing special, the other half to touch people as insignificantly as possible. She brushes a student's hand lightly as she returns a library card. Then the student is followed outside and asked to fill out a questionnaire about the library that day. Among other questions, the student is asked if the librarian smiled, and if she touched him. In fact, the librarian had not smiled, but the student reports that she did, although he says she did not touch him. This experiment lasts all day, and soon a pattern becomes clear: those students who have been subconsciously touched report much more satisfaction with the library and life in general."

This power of touch also touches us emotionally in ways mysterious, yet deep. Here is one of my favorite poems by Naomi Shihab Nye:


A teacher asked Paul

what he would remember

from third grade, and he sat

a long time before writing

"this year sumbody tutched me

on the sholder"

and turned his paper in.
Later she showed it to me

as an example of a wasted life.

The words he wrote were large
as houses in a landscape.

He wanted to go inside them

and live, he could fill in
the windows of "o" and "d"
and be safe while outside
birds building nests in drainpipes
knew nothing of the coming rain.

--Naomi Shihab Nye,
Words Under the Words

We remember how we've been touched in life, and sometimes being touched positively impacts us more than others realize. I feel blessed to be able to provide touch as part of my life work. Thank you to my clients who have touched me in countless ways: thank you for your openness to healing, for your willingness to let your stress and worry leave your body and mind, and for your encouragement and support for my work.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Learning to Let Go

How many of you find that it takes a long time to relax and let go during a massage session?

For some, the first massage stroke makes them melt into a soft mass of muscle, the massage table bearing the weight of their relaxed frame. And for others, my partner included, not only does relaxation seem to come instantaneously, but sleep also comes full force.

For many, however, relaxation does not come easily, especially after an accumulation of stressors throughout the day.

In our culture, we learn how to juggle many tasks at once, pick up the pace, and become more efficient, but we don't learn the art of slowing down and letting go. How many office managers are told: "Don't worry about the budget deadline; instead, focus on your breathing and turn in the documents when you feel aligned with the budget in your body and when you mentally resonate with doing so"?

No wonder it takes some conscious attention and a bit of effort to allow our bodies and minds to relax. And there's no sense in yelling at ourselves: "Relax!" I went to a massage therapist once who, when noticing my arms were holding, reprimanded me by saying, "Can't you just relax?" Not helpful. And as you can imagine, my arms and shoulders tensed up even more.

It's a delicate process to let go, and it takes a sensitive massage ther
apist to encourage this process without pressuring the client. Relaxation should be a gentle process, somewhat like letting go of a an object you've been holding onto tightly without knowing it. Gradually, you allow yourself to loosen your grip.

There are many reasons relaxation may take its sweet time. Here are a few ways to gently calm your system during a massage session:

Mental Chatter.
I think it's important to honor our mental chatter. It's there for a reason: we're problem solving, processing, and recounting as a way to better understand ourselves and our experiences. But I also believe that we can honor the voice inside us by letting it take a rest. We can tell this voice, "Yes, I hear you and you are important, but I need you to whisper now, and perhaps even p
ause once and again so I can focus on the needs of my body." I've had clients feel frustrated for "thinking too much" during a session, which has a tendency to increase tension. When I have this experience, I try to treat my chatter as gently as I would an eager child: I encourage a quiet voice and perhaps even nap time, but I honor this need for expression.

Try this:
Breath work is one of the most powerful ways I have found for quieting the mind. And focusing your breath down into your body is especially helpful. Instead of keeping your breath up in your chest and throat, try bringing it down into your belly and hips, and then see if you can send your breath all the way down to your toes. By focusing your energy away from your head during deep breathing, you may find that a new voice emerges-- the voice of your body.

Emotional Holding.
I believe that emotional pain and stress accumulate in our bodies. Sometimes our tight shoulders or neck pain, for example, are holding our grief or worry or anxiety. I often ask my c
lients where they experience stress or anxiety in their bodies. The process of listening to the body is the first step in healing this area. In a sense, by identifying where we hold our stress, we are in effect telling this area, "I hear you. I feel you." This acknowledgement may be key in releasing tension and emotional pain.

Try this:
Identify what emotions are surfacing for you, whether they be sadness or frustration. Scan your body and notice where you are holding this emotion. Often times we feel tight or constricted in this area. Now, just notice what this emotion feels like from the inside of your body. Does it have a color or texture? Is it hot or cold? Is it stagnant or does it move? If specific stressful thoughts emerge in your mind, acknowledge them but set them aside, like you are stacking books. You know you can read them later. But for now, you are just noticing. Allow yourself to follow the discomfort as it fades with each breath, as it begins to move out of your body.

Muscle Guarding.
When we hold our muscles in the same position over time, they get accustomed to this position. For example, if I work at a computer regularly, my muscles begin to follow the pattern I am providing for them. My pec muscles may get tight and my back and neck feel tight and overstretched. It's no wonder that it may take my muscles a while to adjust to a new way of being. And if we add a layer of past trauma to the mix, such as an injury, our muscles hold tight even more as a way to protect against pain. During a massage session, it can feel physically difficult to let go, which is why I often gently jostle my clients arms, for example, to stop the cycle of predictability. It's rather like tricking the muscles into a new paradigm.

Try this:
Do a full body shake-out when you get home after work. Shake out your arms and legs thoroughly, and rotate your pelvis, hips, and neck. Next, give your body a new position. So, for example, if you were typing at a computer all day, you might lie on your back on the floor or on a balance ball and stretch your arms back and above your head. This shouldn't be a strenuous stretch, but a gentle positioning that re-educates your body.