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.