My Gratitude Journal

My new year’s resolution this year was to start a gratitude journal. It consists in writing down all the things I feel appreciation for. From the start I knew that for this practice to work I had to focus on what feels good. I began by paying attention to events, accomplishments and even compliments that added a little sparkle to my day.

yoga scrapbookThe mere fact of putting all this in writing opened my eyes to some precious jewels: a fresh breeze in summer, warm sun in winter, my cat purring, a good laugh with my friends…  I started to notice all the valuable moments in my day to day that I would normally take for granted. 

This is how I discovered that my life is made up of countless miracles that are continuously unfolding. If I pause and take notice I can see how things are ok just the way they are; in fact they are perfect. I am living a life that is quite full without hardly being aware of it. My gratitude practice helps me to see and appreciate all this abundance.

gratitude journal scrapbookAnother thing I had to face was my natural proclivity towards complaining. It is a terrible habit and it reinforces discontentment. When I fixate my attention on what I don’t like I lose sight of what’s actually good. It’s interesting to observe. I’ve noticed that griping is accompanied by a sense of powerlessness and frustration. It also gives me permission to fault others for my own problems. Not good!

Because of this, I try to complain less and appreciate more. My gratitude practice helps me see that the most simple little things, those I can access in this very moment are the most valuable to me. I’m learning that life itself is inherently wise and that I can trust it! 

scrapbook yoga journal

How to make you own gratitude journal

It’s easy. In my journal I write, draw and do collage. I’m a visual person and I like using my hands to make thing. It makes me feel good. Maybe you have your own favorite medium, one that reflects your sensibility. For example, you could be  more auditory that visual, in that case you could record an audio diary. What’s important is to notice those things you sincerely appreciate. 

What makes you feel good? It could be a friend, your pet or something you just ate… Once you’ve got it, write it down! Try this for a week and let me know how it went.

How to overcome fear

When I was first married, my husband said I was one of the bravest people he knew. When I asked him why, he said because I was a complete coward but went ahead and did things anyhow.

~ Pema Chödron

girl sitting on a park bench

Fear is a tricky thing. It has many faces and it shows up when you least expect it to. It can look like indecision, insecurity, doubt or what my family calls analysis paralysis, overthinking something to the point of becoming completely stuck.

Last year, when I got the news that Dena Kingsberg had accepted me into her three year yoga training in Australia, I was terrified! I could not begin to imagine what it would be like to go as far as Australia to practice ashtanga yoga every day. Was I strong enough? Committed enough? What if Dena and I didn’t get along? What if, once there, I’d realize I had made a huge mistake? The stakes were high!

Mainly, I felt undeserving of this opportunity. I felt I might prove to be a total disappointment to her and to myself. I felt I was depriving anaother, more deserving, practitioner of a great opportunity and that there was something fundamentally wrong with me for even wanting to go. Why this obsession with ashtanga yoga? Why couldn’t I content myself with practicing yoga here at home? Why did I have to travel to the end of the world? Was I being fickle? Deluded? I felt small and vulnerable to people’s opinions, so I chose to only share my big news with a small circle of friends, those I knew would support me.

flowersLucky for me, my friends are awesome! They patiently talked me off the ledge many times. They reminded me of my priorities and of the personal journey that had brought me to this place. They reminded me that I really wanted this opportunity and that I was free to turn around and come home if it didn’t work out. No biggie! Then they reminded me of the most obvious: this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I shouldn’t pass it up.

It seems that the closer I come to something I truly want, the bigger and louder my fears get. When it came to accepting Dena’s invitation, saying yes was the hardest decision of all. I had to accept that there was no way of knowing in advance what my experience would be like. I had to make peace with the fact that I could be making a terrible and costly mistake. I had to forgive myself in advance. I had to accept that this is what I wanted and it didn’t make me a bad person. Once I said yes, there was no turning back:
I learned to live with my fear and move forward despite it.

When I arrived in Byron Bay, I couldn’t stop telling myself: “Thank God I came!” I couldn’t believe I’d almost missed out on this amazing adventure. The last shadow of doubt vanished completely on the first day of class. Dena’s presence, her reassuring tone and her graceful, uncontrived elegance immediately reminded me of why I was there, of what had drawn me to her. My fear was now replaced by tremendous, heart-breaking gratitude.

Thank God I went!

It was the experience of a lifetime. It was really, really hard and really, really rewarding. I sweated more during those three months than I have in my entire life and it was worth it. I learned a lot about myself and about yoga and I met many amazing people from all over the world. Still, looking back, the hardest part of the whole trip was showing up.

What about you? What is the texture of your fear? When does it crop up and how do you overcome it?

Rolfing from a Practitioner’s Perspective: an interview with my teacher

portrait of Liz Stewart, structural integration practitioner

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my clients’ Rolfing experience over the last few weeks and that their stories have given you some insights on this style of bodywork. 

This week I’m presenting Rolfing / Structural Integration from a practitioner’s perspective. For that purpose I’ve interviewed one of my very first teachers, Liz Stewart. Liz is amazing! She is authentic, creative, down to earth and has a great sense of humor. We first met in 2006 when I was training to be a practitioner and have since stayed in touch. Over the years, she has been very supportive of my work and I consider her my mentor.

Liz teaches and practices in Boulder, Colorado. She also conducts and online tutorial for Rolfers / Structral Integration practitioners which I’m enjoying very much. 

Liz, Can you give us a little background about yourself and how you came to Rolfing / Structural Integration?

I was working at IBM before I discovered Structural Integration. I had just moved to Boulder, CO and was extremely stressed in my job. I was struggling with chronic neck and shoulder pain and cluster headaches. One of my neighbors suggested I try Rolfing to see if that might help me. I was pretty fortunate to be in Boulder where the work was so well known, in fact, my health insurance covered the cost of my 10 series. I knew after three sessions that I wanted to switch careers and within six months I was in Basic Training at the Guild for Structural Integration. I graduated in March of 1992.

How would you define Structural Integration in terms of benefits?

I have found that this work is terrific for chronic problems as well as acute ones. The obvious benefits are improvement in posture, balance, pain, stress, and basic adaptability to one’s environment. The less talked about changes are fascinating and really interesting. When a client has less pain, or is less focused on physical ailments, then they relate better, they feel more confident, they experience their world from a more open place and they begin to interact differently in their environment.

I’ve heard you define your approach to SI as an art form rather than a set of techniques. Can you explain?

Techniques can be learned, practiced and duplicated. It’s a great place to start. What happened to me was that over time I began realizing that I was responding to what I touched. There was something key to listening with all of me and letting myself relate to the form, uncovering versus fixing and allowing the wholeness of the client to emerge. This was the beginning of understanding that there are layers upon layers in the body and if I can listen, see, feel, touch, and just allow my senses to connect to these layers then the work takes on a form of it’s own.

What do you like the most about this work?

There is a great book written by Dr. Ida Rolf called Rolfing an Physical Reality. At a certain point she talks about the wisdom of insecurity and that we work on unstable ground. The one constant we have as practitioners is that we don’t have the answers, but we have many questions. For me this has provided great freedom in working with others, so that I have an ongoing inquiry as I look for what is needed for each person at that particular moment in time. This is very exciting because it takes me into a very creative place to work from.

You were a long time student and friend of Peter Melchior, a legend within the SI community. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from him in regards to Rolfing?

Peter was a man that expressed this work through his touch and his gentle way of relating to others. He mainly was a minimalist and I learned to get out of the way, out of my way! I learned to trust myself and this work. 

I read this Ida Rolf quote recently: “Healing is the intuitive art of wooing nature.” What do these words mean to you?

My initial take when I read this quote is that we are calling out what is already present. Someone has been impacted from their life experience and their life habit. Can we see the beauty in this person’s structure by accepting what is there and building from it, rather than tearing it down to rebuild from an ideal? I think about a tree that has lived a life up in the mountains and is affected by strong weather, it twists and gets shaped by its environment. Is it my place to change it? Can I  relate to it in a way that it can stand freely in its environment? What is healing but beauty unfolding? It exists in relationship with others.

Jaume’s Rolfing Testimonial

Jaume_29-Nov-2012Jaume was one of my first clients here in Barcelona: he went through the ten series in 2009. We met in yoga class and we are still connected through the yoga community. We share the same passion for discovering the potential of our bodies. Besides receiving Rolfing. Jaume has also investigated the role of fascias in different styles of yoga as well as by training in ayuryoga massage. 

Why did you seek out Rolfing?

There wasn’t one specific reason. At first I was looking to better my posture, but right fron the start I notices there was much more to this work.

What changes did you notice?

At first, Rolfing works at the physical level, which is great; afterwards it realigns you in a global sense. It also helps you to notice the totality of the connections between body and mind. 

How would you describre Rolfing?

It’s a technique that works the fascia in depth, separating, repositioning and giving space. It is a very special type of massage becasue it repositions the entire bony structure and you’re body’s posture. 

Who would you recommend Rolfing to?

I think it’s useful for everyone. Rolfing will give you what you need, what you ask of it, from freeing deep held tension, to rehabbing injuries, to increasing your bodily awareness.

Why do you like working with me?

From the beginning, Julia’s way of working will surprise you. She is attentive to you, she follows your pace without compromizing your progress and meeting your goals. She leaves nothing to chance.

Joan-Artur’s Rolfing Experience

Rolfing client Joan-Artur

 

Meet Joan-Artur. You can tell by his photo that he recently celebrated his birthday. Joan-Artur and I both practice yoga in the same shala. I find Joan’s consistency and commitment to the practice admirable: he shows up on his mat every day, rain or shine!

Why did you seek out Rolfing?

I discovered Rolfing by chance. A yoga classmate invited me to the open house at Centre Cos and I went. Of all the wonderful activities taking place there I was particularly drawn to Rolfing; I thought it may help me and I decided to give it a try.

I tend to walk hunched over with my gaze towards the ground and one foot turned out to the side. It was hard for me to stand upright for a long time and in the afternoons I would experience discomfort in my upper back. I was stiff like a board.

Yoga, physiotherapy, pilates, acupuncture and osteopathy have all helped me a great deal; my flexibility, resistance, concentration and body awareness have increased tremendously. Still, I kept noticing the tendency to round my shoulders accompanied by occasional pain which hindered my ability to perform everyday tasks. I thought Rolfing could help me with all of this and it has.

What changes have you noticed?

I’ve experienced a variety of sensations that are hard to explain. The most surprising of them all is that Rolfing has already improved my confidence and self-esteem. I had practically abandoned the hope of walking upright, of having a stable posture and to be able to walk for a long time without discomfort in my body. Now, I know it is possible and that there are techniques to help me achieve and maintain this feeling.

After a Rolfing session I feel completely well in a natural way. I walk effortlessly and the contact of my feel on the ground is soft, full and agile. I do not feel weighted down in any part of my body and I am more attuned to my surroundings and to other people. I experience a sense of overall wellbeing and I walk as if I were floating.

Though after a few days these feelings fade, I notice they gradually last longer. It’s also easy to reawaken these sensation by taking a moment to repeat some of the exercises Julia has taught me. I suppose that when I finish all 10 sessions these changes will have become integrated and will hold. Still, even if they don’t, I’m encouraged my my experience to put effort towards getting them back.

How would you describe Rolfing?

As a technique that corrects and re-aligns the body with a particular effect on ligaments and connective tissues that have become deformed though poor postural and movement habits.

It also makes you more aware of your body and re-establishes the sensation of a correct body schema.

Lastly, it provides a series of exercises to help you maintain your body in balance.

Who would you recommend Rolfing to?

I would recommend it to everyone, especially to those who have any kind of physical problem or injury.

Why do you like working with me?

Because you’re a well-rounded professional, serious and responsible. You enjoy this work and you have a good clinical eye. Also, you adapt skillfully to the needs of your patients, at least in my experience.

You are pleasant, empathic, attentive and it is easy to communicate with you. You are very respectful and I have always felt well accepted. You transmit confidence and besides tending to muscles and tendons, you care about people which is not always the case with therapists.

Aurora’s Rolfing Testimonial

rolfing client Aurora

Why did you seek out Rolfing?

I started Rolfing due to general discomfort – especially low back pain and sciatica – caused by a skiing accident back in February of 2000 in which I injured my left knee. Beacause my recovery was poor I had to undergo three consecutive surgeries. The surgeries caused me to develop osteoarthritis much earlier than I should have. Also, I carry my weight on my right side to protect my injured left knee. The body is very wise. I am flexible and I adapt easily, but not in a good way!  Rolfing corrects my posture and brings an overall balance to my body; this contributes to my well-being and it is why I receive ​​several sessions a year. Now, I’m continuing Rolfing for my overall well-being.

What changes have you noticed?

My posture is better, my body is looser, I am more aware and I can correct my posture. This makes me feel good and keeps me out of pain.

How would you describe Rolfing?

It awakens parts of your body so that everything works better.

Who would you recommend Rolfing to?

Anyone who wants to feel good, wether or not they suffer from an injury.

Why do you like working with me?

You are very straightforward, you’re knowledgeable and you know what you’re doing.

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