mental health, reiki, sound therapy, wellness

My Experience with Reiki and Sound Therapy

Not sure how I have not written about reiki yet, but I’m going to rectify that right now! Last year my daughters and I started attending reiki sessions at the Minnesota Reiki Center. http://mnreikicenter.com/ We weren’t at all sure what to expect, only that it dealt with energy healing.

Our reiki practitioner, Jill Thiel, runs the center out of her home in Minneapolis. We were each captivated by the experience… From the beautiful gardens that make up her front yard to the inviting environment she has created in her artful reiki space, to Jill herself–she looks like a mermaid and is easy to talk to.

Jill explained reiki is different for everyone. And having had multiple sessions now I can say it varies from experience to experience. For me, it is deeply restful and rejuvenating. My daughter, Lara, looks more serene and peaceful after a reiki session than at any other time. Lara loves to ride her horse after a session because she feels they have a synergy they don’t have at other times.

Sage, my other daughter, is quite curious and talkative during her reiki sessions. At first this alarmed me, as I thought she was to be silent like in a massage or a prayer. Jill assured us everything was fine, “The reiki flows either way”. I certainly believe her. With sixteen years experience and tremendous insights she has shared with the girls and I, Jill knows reiki.

Not only that, but Jill also incorporates sound therapy into her sessions. Oh. my. goodness. When I am laying on the table and Jill plays her crystal bowls, I feel as though the sound is circling my whole body on a cellular level. It is intense. I have had tears streaming down my face for reasons I don’t fully comprehend. I do know when I am done I feel balanced, restored, and grateful.


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aromatherapy, mental health, parenting, wellness

The Good, the Bad, and the Brave

I have not blogged in a long, long time. I understand this to be a no-no in the world of blogging; but life does not follow such constructs.

The Brave: One of my daughters has been undergoing treatment for severe mental health issues. Hers is not my story to tell. I will say, as the mom, this has been an exhausting and scary experience. I often got asked if I was “taking care of myself”. The honest answer was no, which brings us to…

The Bad: While I knew I would be in a better position to support my daughter and family if I was at my strongest; frankly, it was all I could do to keep up with managing her treatment and staying afloat… Fortunately I seem to be exiting that basic survival stage and moving back to…

The Good: My several month hiatus was not completely devoid of self-care. My beautiful mama gifted me a Raindrop Technique massage for my birthday. In November, I finally got over to The Tree of Life in Plymouth and blissed out to this wonderful experience.

If you are unfamiliar with Raindrop Technique, it is a gentle massage using a layering process of nine different Young Living therapeutic essential oils. The application begins on the reflex points of the feet, and then is applied to the spine. It is designed to bring balance to the body’s energy centers using a combination of reflexology, aromatherapy, and massage techniques. If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend it.

At the end of my session I received an iTOVi scan. A small, handheld scanner, the iTOVi uses galvanic skin response to measure changes in the electrical conductivity of the skin. It generates a signal that represents the vitamin, supplement, or essential oil you are scanning for. Then your body responds by changes in resistance measurement of the skin. The iTOVi ranks the products by how much change occurs and a report is generated to show you which products bring your galvanic skin response to its most optimal. I find it to be a magical device that my mom and I then went on to co-purchase. I’ve used it on friends, family, babies, even animals!

Happy (belated) New Year


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mental health, parenting, wellness

All the Feelings

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I haven’t posted in a while. I had a draft started about turning fifty, which happened earlier this month. But since then one of my daughters has gone to the hospital, and it just doesn’t seem important or relevant anymore. The gist of it was “I don’t feel fifty” and “I’m grateful for the opportunity to be getting older”.

Instead, my days are spent glued to my phone, in case my daughter or someone from the hospital calls. Researching the internet for resources and answers of how to best support my child. Mental illness is a horrible thing. I wish it did not exist. It very much does. The adolescent programs we have been using are bursting at the seams. Anxiety. Depression. Eating disorders. Addictions. Self harm. Trauma. The list goes on.

It is hard to be a teen, period. Coupled with these illnesses it is down-right scary. I know parenting teens is difficult. Parenting a teen with a mental illness is terrifying. I so want to do the right thing. In all honesty, I want to take it away, fix it. But I can’t do that, and according to my favorite author, Glennon Doyle, trying to fix other people’s pain is like stealing their happiness; both are sacred. All I can do is hold space for my daughter and her beautiful, strong spirit.

That and try to take care of myself, so I’m not a train-wreck next to her. I have been doing an abysmal job of this, which is another reason I haven’t written. Didn’t seem appropriate to get on my “nurturing self and others” blog and talk about how I don’t have the energy/desire to even get out of bed, let alone do one of the many self-care practices I know would help.

I did meditate once yesterday. I also scheduled a therapy appointment for myself. I have amazing supportive family and friends, whom I’m eternally grateful for. So yeah. That’s where things stand. Not a glowing, rosy picture, but one filled with infinite love and a sliver of hope for brighter days ahead.

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aromatherapy, ayurveda, nutrition, transcendental meditation, wellness

Re-Entry

Native plants

I wrote about my idyllic time at the Raj at the beginning of last month, for which I am extremely grateful. Now it is time for my blog to catch up to real life… I learned all of these great techniques and now I am trying to implement them in my own crazy, hectic life. No one is cooking for me, making my bed, massaging oils on me, checking on my meditations. (Well, Amy kindly calls to check on me, and it is great having my mom to check-in with regarding all of this too.) But you get my point–life post-Raj is much more scattered, frenzied, and un-Zen.

In the end, I decided I was trying to implement too many life-changes at once. Yes, ideally, I would be waking at 6am for tongue scraping, oil pulling, nasya, garshan, abhyanga, shower, sun salutations, pranayam, and meditation. All before I prepare and eat my barley flakes with fresh fruit and tea. But somehow, this was not happening… So I modified it to garshan/abhyanga/shower every other day with salutations… Which has somehow turned into hey-I-brushed-my-teeth and have-taken-a-shower-in-the-last-three-days I’m good to go!

I want to get back on track though. I need to get “back on track”. Each of the self-care steps I outlined (along with daily NingXia Red, essential oils, a second meditation, and clean eating) make me feel better. Who doesn’t want to feel better?! So the battle of the old, entrenched habits against the new, healthier habits wages on. Sugar & Screen Time are currently in the lead; but I have hope that Meditation, Ayurveda, & Essential Oils will still come out triumphant in the end.

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ayurveda, Learning, nutrition, wellness

My Stay at the Raj (Part 4): Food/Yoga/Lectures

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If you know me in the real world, you know I don’t enjoy cooking. That statement is actually an oversimplification. I do enjoy cooking, sometimes. I think part of the turn-off for me is that it needs to happen so frequently and consistently. I prefer my creative outlets to be more spontaneous-as-the-mood-hits-me, than this-is-required-for-your-and-your-family’s-survival. So another thing I was greatly looking forward to with this trip was not having to meal-plan, shop, prepare, or clean-up for five days!

The food at the Raj is amazing. It’s aryuvedic and vegetarian. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, as that is when your agni (digestive fire) is at it’s peak. Meals begin with a shot of ginger or fennel juice as dictated by your aryuvedic consultation. Followed by chutney–often a pairing of a cilantro and an apple–and tea, again according to your dosha. Next we are served a cup of dahl (soup) often prepared with mung beans or lentils, always yummy. The main dish varied, but included: dark green leafy vegetables, other types of vegetables, rice or quinoa, crepe or chapata all seasoned with Indian spices. For dessert there were puddings, crisps, and even pie–made with fruit and coconut sugar. At the end of the meal we were given lassi (a yogurt drink) to aid in digestion. Lunch and dinner are served in a room with a long group table that all of the guests at the Raj are welcome at. There is also private seating around the perimeter, if you prefer to eat alone or in a smaller group. There were so many interesting, friendly guests we mostly chose to eat with the group. Breakfast was served in a different area, buffet style with hot drinks, hot cereal, and stewed fruit. We also were able to attend two cooking classes with the head chef. The first was a discussion format about the importance of food. The second was a demo of a chutney and a crepe. Both were extremely helpful in showing me some ways to implement ayurvedic cooking at home.

Yoga is offered twice a day, making it possible for us to find a class that was outside of our treatment and meditation times each day. The class was quite gentle as the instructor understood we were detoxing and didn’t want to tax our systems. It consisted of sun salutations, self-massage, and asanas. I enjoyed them very much.

In the evening different lecturers come in to talk about a variety of topics. Our first night the topic was “Panchakarma”. This is the name of the detox we were undergoing. (Well, my mom and I opted for the PK Lite, but very similar.) The second night the topic was “The Importance of Silence in Sports”, though we opted out. The third night the topic was “Your Physical and Emotional Heart”. A compelling lecture by Helen Toomey. And the fourth night the topic was “Vedic Architecture”. Like our bodies, Maharishi felt it was important for buildings to be designed in harmony with nature.

The flow of our days felt very balanced, and I greatly appreciated the attention to detail from the fresh flowers and Indian music radio station in our suite, to the opportunities for physical/mental and social/solitary outlets outside of treatment times. The Raj staff were warm and accommodating throughout our stay. It was the perfect setting to learn transcendental meditation and aryuvedic practices.

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aromatherapy, ayurveda, wellness

My Stay at The Raj (Part 3): Ayurvedic Spa Treatments

Spring Break 2018

Yes, I selected The Raj because I was excited to learn Transcendental Meditation. Let’s be honest though, once I saw the spa treatment list, this is what I was gleefully anticipating in the months between our reservation and our trip! At my pulse assessment it was determined I would benefit from: two Abhyangas, two Shirodharas, an Udvartana, and a Pizzichilli! Wait until you hear what these exotic-sounding treatments are…

Abhyanga is a soothing oil massage done by two technicians performing the same movements on both sides of your body simultaneously. It is detoxifying and relaxing.

During Shirodhara a continuous flow of oil is poured slowly across your forehead to settle and balance the nervous system. The effect was sublime.

Udvartana is an energizing herbal paste massage also performed by two technicians in unison. The benefits are revitalized skin and improved circulation. It was my first treatment; I found it messy and I felt a bit like a piece of meat being prepared for dinner!

In Pizzichilli two technicians pour a constant flow of warm herbal oil in tandem over your entire body. This was the ultimate experience of luxury and relaxation! I am told it is very detoxifying as well.

The men’s and women’s treatment wings were separated. Male clients have male technicians, and female clients have female technicians. This helped me with some of my self-consciousness about being undressed in front of strangers. Other than occasionally fretting about my body or how similar some aspects were to preparing food; for the majority of the time I was able to give myself over to the magical sensations.

I wish everyone could experience these at least once. We all have toxins and stress to shed and everyone benefits from pampering and nurturing. The staff at the Raj does an excellent job of making you feel comfortable, and the treatments themselves are unlike any I’ve had elsewhere.

Being the aromatic-loving lady I am, I opted for an Aromatherapy session as well. The consultant had a lovely collection of essential oils and I was able to smell scents I don’t own in my ever-growing collection. I’m afraid she was a bit alarmed at my over-zealous approach to huffing oils. However, she identified some essences that would be good to support my wellness after I returned home from the Raj.

Also, due to an unfortunate accident involving hot barley water, I got a painful burn during our stay. The Raj graciously provided me with 100x wash ghee, which helped tremendously. (Along with the lavender, frankincense, and tea tree Young Living oils I had just happened to bring with me!) I also received a Maharishi Light Therapy with Gems session. Thirteen specialized light beamers shine thru different precious gemstones to balance and nourish the physiology.

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Learning, transcendental meditation, wellness

My Stay at the Raj (Part 2): Transcendental Meditation

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Lawrence Sheaff painting at The Raj

The impetus for finding the Raj was a google search of “transcendental meditation retreats”. I have not meditated regularly in the past; however I have felt a strong pull towards it. Last spring I read The Self-Driven Child by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson. This was an excellent parenting book, and in it they talked about transcendental meditation (TM) and how beneficial and life changing it was for them. Google search (yep, I’m a google girl!) led to all kinds of amazing information about this well-researched form of meditation.

During our time at the Raj, my mom and I worked with dear TM instructor, Amy Ruff. She carefully selected our mantras, helped us learn to use them, explained the process the brain undergoes during TM, explained the role thoughts play in meditation, uplifted, encouraged, and laughed with us. My main goal in learning meditation was to relieve anxiety. My first day home, one daughter commented I looked thinner, the other said I had a much calmer energy. I replied “Thank you” to the first, and “Oh my gosh, really?!” to the second.

I am still at the very beginning of my journey, but I am anticipating my practice becoming richer and more positive as I proceed. I highly recommend TM for everyone! To find out more information and find a meditation center near you, go to: https://www.tm-women.org

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