This week, I had an opportunity to teach a class to students in the McLean Meditation Institute’s Meditation Teacher Training program about the interface of brain science and meditation. This topic is near and dear to my heart, due to my earlier studies in the evolution of human consciousness. Meditation is one of the three pillars of support for a healthy brain, along with structural bodywork such as CranioSacral Therapy and Neurochemical factors like nutrition, exercise, and sleep. Recent studies using functional MRI imaging techniques have shown in minute detail that meditation changes the actual physical structure of the brain, increasing thickness and brain volume in areas of executive control. This means that a regular meditation practice teaches us how to focus on what we want to see in our lives and to execute plans to achieve it. We learn to focus on the good, loving, and positive and consequently we develop those qualities in ourselves and attract them in others.
I recommend that all my clients develop a daily meditation practice, and that my meditation students receive CranioSacral Therapy. The combination of attention training through meditation and releasing old stress and trauma from the nervous system and the tissues surrounding it can give us a whole new perspective on life and improve health almost miraculously. This was certainly true in my case. Stay tuned as I develop this topic into a book manuscript and further classes. I am very excited to be able to share this information with you.
In the meantime, if you have friends or family in the Boston area (or will be there yourself on August 17th) check out the Community Wellness talk I’ll be giving at Sohum in Westborough, MA.
Some of you may have heard that I was part of Danette Wolpert’s “Dream Team” of volunteers putting on the ILLUMINATE Film Festival in Sedona last weekend. This was quite a commitment of time and energy, as I ended up coordinating the ticketing process for this first-time event. Ticketing is where the “rubber meets the road” at a Festival. Anyone who has ever run a “spiritual” or “conscious” business knows how delicate the balance is between “we are all one” and the boundaries necessary to maintain a viable business structure. Danette told me she thought I had the “right kind of brain” for this undertaking, which I took as a qualified compliment. It’s pretty much a left brain, masculine energy kind of job, and I have tended to alternate between these intellectual projects and more right-brain, feminine energy things like CranioSacral Therapy, yoga, meditation and dance.
Over the years I’ve realized that we all need a balance between the left and right cerebral hemispheres. As my meditation practice has progressed, I find that I step back fully into the intellectual mind only for very worthy projects such as this one (twenty years in academics was long enough in that mode for this lifetime!) The mission statement of ILLUMINATE is to “introduce film as a modality for healing.” The Festival included 20+ films that fall into the mind-body-spirit genre of conscious cinema, and it is the very first of its kind in the world. Many of the films were paired in a “view-and-do” combo with interactive, experiential workshops. I could not resist contributing my brainpower (such as it is) to this fantastic enterprise!
As the smoke was practically coming out of my ears (there were so many different levels of participants, all with different “VIP” or “Industry”-type badges and ticketing options), I saw my dear friend and Art of Feminine Presence teacher, Sally Reeves Conway, who was there to present a workshop on “Conscious and Passionate Presence in Relationships.” I couldn’t resist the opportunity to pose with her on the ILLUMINATE red carpet (and the “step-and-repeat” background behind it – oh, the new terms I learned behind the scenes!) for a glam photo-op.
Not too many of the people I know out here in Arizona are aware of my story before I made the move from Ohio nine years ago. The first week of May has been a time when I look back with sadness and regret to a very difficult period in my life. Six days after our 12th wedding anniversary, on May 7, 2005, my husband ended his life, and I felt my own life basically come to a screeching halt. Everyone tries to tell you it’s not your fault when something like this happens, but in fact we humans are hard-wired to search and search for what we could have done differently, if only we’d known. Especially if you consider yourself to be a healer who can help people with their problems.
I have been moving slowly through my own recovery process over the years, but I would say things accelerated greatly in the healing department in the last year or two, thanks in large part to my wonderful meditation teacher, Sarah McLean. She helped me establish a solid daily meditation practice, and last year I completed her first professional training for meditation teachers, right here in Sedona.
Sarah is one of those teachers who keeps on giving, way beyond any tuition you might have paid. A couple of weeks ago, she invited me to her program, Woman Arising, and I knew I had to go. What an amazing event, and such a rewarding way to let go of this old grief that comes up every May. Each speaker was completely, perfectly radiant in her own way, and I so enjoyed being in the loving support of the mother. Sarah really knows how to connect women who can help, support and empower one another.
At the end of the last day, I was standing in the product check-out line waiting with my friend (and virtual assistant) Laura Schappert while she bought a box of Colette Baron-Reid’s Oracle Cards and had a short reading with Colette. I had no intention of buying anything myself, but while I was standing there, I hear a loud “clunk” behind me and turned around to find I had knocked over a copy of Colette’s book “Message from Spirit: The Extraordinary Power of Oracles, Omens, and Signs” and the metal rack that was holding it up. “Just a coincidence,” I thought to myself. However the day of inspirational sharing, meditation, mudras and intuitive readings had opened something up in me, and I picked up the book, bought it, and did the whole book signing/photo with the author thing. “Cool!” I thought as we shook hands and I thanked her for a great afternoon. As I was about to walk away, she looked me in the eyes and softly but firmly said, “You are not going to cry any more.”
Thank you, Colette for your amazing gift, and Sarah for bringing us together. And thank you Laura for coming with me and taking this photo. I feel it commemorates the closing of one chapter of my life and beginning of another.
A torn rotator cuff occurs when the small muscles that hold the shoulder joint together tear. Traditional medical treatment starts with putting the arm in a sling and taking painkiller or muscle relaxer drugs. This “conservative” treatment often fails, leading to trials of corticosteroid injections and finally, surgery. It can take a year or more to fully recover from rotator cuff surgery and resume normal activities. In my practice, I have worked with people years after rotator cuff surgery who do not have full and complete range of motion in the affected should joint.
It is difficult to let the shoulder joint rest completely. In addition to the many activities we use our arms for, the weight of the arm is constantly pulling on the shoulder joint when standing or sitting, and we put weight on our shoulders when sleeping on our sides. It’s a very busy joint!
I was very interested to learn about a very effective exercise program put together by doctors at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Called the “MOON” program (Multicenter Orthopedic Outcome Network), it combines range of motion, flexibility, and strengthening exercise. When performed properly and regularly, this program is 85% effective at avoiding surgery, based on a trial of 452 patients with rotator cuff tears. Although recommended for use with supervision by a physical therapist, you can download the entire program (booklet and video) at moonshoulder.com.
Most of my clients are very hesitant to seek surgical solutions for injuries or problems. If you have been diagnosed with a rotator cuff injury, I recommend looking in to this exercise program, and at the same time, getting some good bodywork or yoga therapy to examine the holding patterns in your body-mind that have lead to this particular area of the body being vulnerable. The two together make a very strong non-surgical alternative that is worth investigating.
Clients often ask me if I am “doing Reiki” during a session. A large part of what we do as CranioSacral Therapists is what Dr. Upledger called “Direction of Energy,” so I knew there were some commonalities with Reiki Therapy, but I wanted a closer look so that I could answer this question more accurately. So when my friend and Reiki Master Carla Trujillo offered me a spot in her Reiki 1 and 2 classes last weekend, I jumped on it! What a wonderful experience, and now I can answer with confidence that my work does, indeed, have an element of Reiki in it. What the Reiki classes provide is a beautiful and loving frame for the energy work, from a Japanese perspective. By incorporating Reiki principles in to my daily meditation practice, I will enhance the energy work that I do in every CranioSacral session, and the results will be that much better.
Here is our Reiki 2 class on a field trip in Sedona. Who can name the location? Too easy for locals, maybe, but if you came to Sedona on a visit, you may not have seen this wonderful local resource.
If you have experienced both CranioSacral Therapy and Reiki, how similar do they feel to you? Leave a comment below.
Today, I want to talk to you about SEED meditation, because I have just completed a wonderful meditation teacher training with Sarah McLean of the Mclean Meditation Institute right here in Sedona. I am now certified to teach Sarah’s SEED meditation method, which stands for “Simple, Easy, Every Day.” SEED is a symbol for the seed we plant when we begin to meditate. It doesn’t start out as a big, green tree, but just a tiny seed that we care for and nurture every day until it sprouts, and continues to grow throughout life.
What I learned from Sarah is that meditation practice is similar to brushing your teeth. It is not a big, mystical experience in real time, but if we do it consistently, twice a day, we’ll have healthy teeth and gums for the rest of our lives.
One of the biggest misconceptions that I know I had about meditation was that each experience of it would feel deep and blissful. I’ve been practicing meditation off and on for years, but kept thinking I wasn’t doing it right, because my experiences were more along the lines of “oh, wow, my back really hurts,” or “how much longer do I have to sit here?” So I’d “forget” to do it for a while or think maybe it just wasn’t for me.
Learning the SEED method has really opened my eyes up in terms of what to expect from my meditation practice: a slow, steady improvement in my ability to
- release stress,
- be in the present moment,
- be kind to myself and others
all of which allow me to make better choices, and ultimately to live a better life.
So, thank you for that Sarah!
I’m very excited to begin sharing this meditation practice with others in my own “Introduction to Meditation” class on May 18th. If you’d like to learn more about the class, please check out this post, or give me a call and I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Learn to Meditate – August 24 or September 28, 2013
Presented by Pamela Joy, PhD, LMT, CST
The SEED (Simple, Easy, Every Day) Meditation Method training is a 3-hour program designed to give beginners all they need to practice meditation at home. It’s also great for anyone who used to meditate and wants to get back on track with their practice.
In this class, you’ll learn how meditation works and explore a variety of meditation techniques, including a silent mantra and breath meditation practice so effective that you can use it for the rest of your life. You will also understand the types of experiences to expect in and out of meditation.
You don’t need any prerequisites to join this class. All your questions about meditation will be answered, and you’ll leave with your own personal practice.
This class takes place at 35 View Drive in West Sedona. See “contact” page for a map. Registration/check-in begins at 9:30am.