self-care | self-shiatsu | inspiration
for uncertain times
We are in lockdown. In these challenging times to keep the body healthy, the immune system strong and the mind balanced is key. As all in person treatments and workshops are cancelled, I would like to share some practices to support self care, self regulation and healing for clients, friends and everyone. To give ourselves the time to pause, heal, reflect, connect, reset is more relevant than ever. I hope this resources page can be a sanctuary with practical holistic tools to navigate the pandemic through heartfelt connection, compassion, resilience, creativity and human kindness. In times of physical isolation and social distancing, it is vital to bring touch and embodied practices into our daily life.
This page is a work in progress, to share short videos with practices of self shiatsu and other healing arts, mindfulness, suggestions, inspiration, plus occasional links to my teachers work / relevant information. Themes I will address are anxiety, uncertainty, isolation, trauma, care for the Lung meridian and Immune System, Nature etc. Some of these practices may be applied as prevention or to support healing of mild symptoms. Due to the global trauma and overwhelm, I will keep these practices very short and easy. Also find some suggestions for wellbeing and domestic practices for the art of being Home.
- practice 1-
ONE STEP AT THE TIME
This short video is an invitation to Walking Meditation. Inspired by the teachings of Zen Master and poet Thich Nhat Hanh. A practice of walking very slowly, one step at the time. You migh do one step as you breath in, and another step as you breath out, focusing on the weight shifting from one foot to the other. I have been practicing this each morning just outside my house or inside when is cold. I also take this as inspiration to do everything slowly, through the day, and also as a reminder in moments of overwhelm: one step at the time.
You may say in your mind with each step: Breathing in, I relax, breathing out, I smile. Or, breathing in, I am here, breathing out, I arrived Home. In Zen to arrive Home means to be present to ourselves in the here and now. Maybe the staying home is an invitation to come back to our hearts.
- practice 2 -
This is a practice to help find safety in the body and to ground, to deal with the deep fear, anxiety and trauma of this crisis. It includes:
- Root breathing
- Simple self massage of face, head, shoulders, arms, and the soles of the feet
- 2 practices: Harmonizing Chaos and Quiet Regeneration (Jin Shin Jyutsu)
These are very very calming and help regeneration of nervous system. The effect is almost immediate and can be done for long, several times a day as needed, either seating on the floor, on a chair or laying down. In the video I do all the steps to follow.
I am offering distant reiki and energy clearing for people in need of support during the lockdown, on donation. For physical issues, and/or anxiety, trauma, overwhelm, depression. You can be anywhere in the world, you don't need to do anything to prepare, except to make the time to receive the treatment. You just need to lay down or sit comfortably, in a quiet space, at the agreed time.
WEDNESDAY, FRIDAY and SATURDAY 2:30pm and 4:30pm.
UK / GMT time zone. treatments are about 1 hour.
If interested in receiving a treatment or have questions:
- practice 3 -
These are 3 Chi Gong exercises for balance, energy and stability. I added some voice guidance so you can easily follow while doing it. This is a short 3 mins excerpt of my own longer practice, you can do it for longer.
- practice 4 -
This is a self shiatsu exercise for the Lung Meridian. As we know the virus attacks the lungs, so this can be used to ease mild symptoms and as prevention. In Chinese Medicine the lungs are related with Grief, Sadness and Loss, so to do these exercise will also support the release of these emotions we all hold and are now manifesting not only personally but also in the collective in deep ways now. There is a chart on the video with the pressure points but you can also simply do the meridian line.
- practice 5 -
Mantras are sacred healing sounds. OM MANI PADME HUM is the Compassion mantra, that 'transforms negative emotions into their wisdom nature, and grants protection from illness'. Also used to support people who are ill, dying or died. I focus in everyone suffering at the moment, in particular the ones who are sick and dying, and everyone helping, doctors, nurses, carers, key workers - I send out healing and peace. Since the corona virus crisis started, I have been chanting this mantra, every day from 6 to 7pm, in meditation. I start chanting along with a recording of Tibetan Monks and continue alone after the recording finishes. Find the Monks recording here. You can chant or simply listen.
I also say a tibetan compassion prayer which I learned from the book 'The Tibetan book of Living and Dying' (listen in the video) If you like, join me at 6pm (UK time), we can chant alone together. We are in mind and energetic connection.
"Uncertainty gives us the present moment"
As we are globally thrown into uncertainty, this week I invite you to consider the uncertainty in your life right now. If you would like, take it as an assignment (do it as a meditation, a mind map, or write it down)
contemplate your circunstances and how that makes you feel, don't get caught in it, simply observe and try to name the feelings that come up
then bring to mind other past moments of difficulty or unknown in your life and observe how it was then, how did you respond, what did you learn?
what gifts and skills you received after the experience?
be kind to yourself, do this with self-compassion.
THE SOUL JOURNEY
This week I am sharing the trailer of my film The Soul Journey - the journey started as a real life experience of uncertainty. It is a very personal film-meditation, a reflection on our world and transitions, a visual poem on Nature, a contemplation on grief, loss and the impermanence of (my) Life. I hope it is inspiring. I started this in 2016, however only now, during the lockdown, I could complete the film. Actually, when I started the soul journey I did not know I was going to make a film or write a book called Travelling like clouds (some excerpts bellow) or that I would be working with women with Alzheimer's and help people crossing the bridge to death or that I would live where I live now.
Indeed 'uncertainty gives us the present moment'. What unfolds is often surprising. One thing I learned was that uncertainty and crisis, however challenging and very uncomfortable, can open powerful roads for growth and teach us to be present, open the imagination to new possibilities and practice resilience.
- practice 6 -
excerpts of TRAVELLING LIKE CLOUDS
"I travelled without a plan or destination like the wandering Taoist monks did in ancient times; they called it 'travelling like clouds'. Many ancient cultures have some form of this conscious wandering as a way of expanding limits, of un-learning, of walking into unknown roads as a practice of self-discovery; as a rite of passage or initiation.
This was indeed an essential part of my journey. To live this truth in my daily life, in my relationships, in my actions. Like a seeker, a wanderer, a cloud, I travelled as a means to meditate, embracing impermanence and change. Embodying the space in between, I stayed in the liminal zone.
As my meditation teacher, Thomas Hübl, says, 'when you are really here, you take a step, and then... the ground appears.' Sometimes there was no ground, and I would have to trust that it would appear. And it always did. This way I walked off the beaten track. Step by step. I stayed in the space in between. It is not a comfortable place to be, but it is fundamental for real change. My journey became my way to dwell with change, it became my meditation in action."
TRAVELLING LIKE CLOUDS is a self-published book, available as eBook or to Print on demand
THE ART OF WELLBEING
- nourishing body and mind -
'The present moment is the substance with which the future is made. Therefore, the best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment. What else can you do?'
THICH NHAT HANH
"When we create a listening and sharing space for each other, we can stay human. Staying in the heart synchronization, being open on the heart level is really what we need right now, also in order to make the best decisions. This crisis is also a chance to practice this.
Physical contact with many people who are normally close to us is now very limited. It is therefore all the more important to maintain and nurture our relationships in other ways, especially with people who are at risk of health problems.
Let's find new ways for community building! Heartfelt connection, compassion and human kindness is very important right now. This also strengthens the immune system and keeps us healthy - just like letting the sun in and enjoying the nature!"
Resources for challenging times
GROUPS ON ZOOM / FREE
Guided Group Spaces
for integrating fear, stress and important questions in a crisis time
Schedule of Public Group Calls here
Support for health care professionals only here
COLLECTIVE TRAUMA PREVENTION SUPPORT GROUPS
"The world is facing a global crisis that brings about a re-awakening of individual and collective trauma layers in the form of higher stress levels, fear, panic, detachment, numbness and isolation. We want to help prevent a dangerous downward spiral of rising collective fear and panic in society. Trauma often creates new trauma.
The Pocket Project is committed to the integration and healing of collective trauma as well as its prevention. Its founders Thomas Hübl and Yehudit Sasportas started the initiative based on voluntary engagement to support the society.
This is a space for free group support for anybody who wants to participate in a facilitated group to look at, presence, share and potentially integrate stress, fear and strong inner processes triggered by the current global crisis."
Scroll down for more information and resources
THE ART OF BEING HOME
- sugestions -
"This is a time of mystery and uncertainty. Take a breath. The veils of separation are parting and the reality of interconnection is apparent to everyone on earth. We have needed this pause, perhaps even needed our isolation to see how much we need one another.
Now it is time to add our part.
The Bodhisattva deliberately turns toward suffering to serve and help those around in whatever way they can.
This is the test we have been waiting for.
We know how to do this.
Time to renew your vow.
Sit quietly again and ask your heart: what is my best intention, my most noble aspiration for this difficult time?
Your heart will answer."
- Master, how can I face isolation?
- Clean your house. Deep down. In every corner. Even the ones you never felt like, the courage and patience to touch. Make your house bright and cared for. Dust, cobwebs, impurities. Even the most hidden ones. Your house represents yourself: if you take care of it, you take care of yourself too.
- Master but time is long. After taking care of me through my house how can I live isolation?
- Fix what can be fixed and remove what you no longer need. Dedicate yourself to remending, embroidered the rips of your pants, sew well the frayed edges of your dresses, restore a furniture, repair everything worth repairing. The rest, throw it away. With gratitude. And with awareness that their cycle is over. Fixing and remove outside of you allows you to fix or remove what's inside you.
- Master and then what? What can I do all the time alone?
- Sow. Even a seed in a vase. Take care of a plant, water it every day, talk to them, give it a name, remove dry leaves and weeds that can suffocate it and steal precious vital energy. It's a way to take care of your inner seeds, your desires, your intentions, your ideals.
- Master what if the emptiness comes to visit me?... If fear of sickness and death come?
- Talk to them. Prepare the table for them too, reserve a place for each of your fears. Invite them to dinner with you. And ask them why they came from so far to your home. What message they want to bring you. What do they want to communicate.
- Master, I don't think I can do this...
- Your problem is not isolation, but the fear of facing your inner dragons, those you always wanted to take away from you. Now you can't run away. Look them in the eye, listen to them and you'll find out they put you against the wall. They isolated you so they can talk to you. Like seeds that can only sprout if they are alone.
Postcard from the land
This week I continued to put more seeds in pots, I call it Seeds for Hope. I did some transplanting to bigger pots as everything is growing so fast by the window with the warmth of Spring. This connection with the plants and the land has been really grounding and helping me center in the middle of the pandemia's emotions. I did some weeding, preparing the allotment and planted potatoes. Been fascinated with the structure of the roots of the different weeds and also how each seed has such a distinctive shape, same when they start to sprout. The yellow tulip outside my door opened this week and the cats have been visiting, bringing beauty and laugh.
The silence and quiet of the world is making me go deeper within and without, developing my intuition. On the full moon I was called to make a Flower essence remedy of gorse and dandelion, which are both growing around the house. The gorse is a very resilient plant that blooms all the way through the winter until June; it went through storms, extreme wind and long nights. Well rooted, its leaves are like needles, and the flowers are bright yellow like the sun, almost the same yellow as the dandelions, who bloom spontaneously wherever the wind takes the seeds; sometimes a dandelion flower lasts only a day or two, reminding us of the impermanence and fragility of life. So associating the 2 flowers brings balance between the spontaneity / being in the flow of life of the dandelion, with the endurance and strength of the gorse, helping opening to new perspectives beyond the uncertainty.
Making this through the moon light, the essence brings acceptance to darkness and the dark times we are facing, as a fertile ground does for new seeds to grow, a release of old patterns, fear, worry and uncertainty, opening to new perspectives, in a gradual discovery of a gentle power, grounding, calming, bringer of Harmony, fairness and healing of the injustices of the power of domination - from the silence of the night, to the dawn of the new era. Acceptance after shock. Resilience after uncertainty. Re-arrangement of the subtle body. Finding new solutions through peace, finding inner strength through solidarity and support. The pale light of the moon brings a liquid sensitivity, to the sun accumulated in the flower through the day. The clouds filter the moon light, giving access to the soft stillness of the inner truth.
Be well, x
- two mixes I made for Shiatsu treatments which are deeply relaxing -
"Without opening your door,
you can open your heart to the world.
Without looking out your window,
you can see the essence of the Tao.
The more you know,
the less you understand.
The Master arrives without leaving,
sees the light without looking,
achieves without doing a thing.
In pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao,
every day something is dropped.
Less and less
do you need to force things,
until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,
nothing is left undone.
True mastery can be gained
by letting things go their own way.
TAO TE KING
a Native Shamanic perspective on corona
Message from White Eagle, on 03/16/2020, Kogi tribe, Colombia
“This moment humanity is going through can now be seen as a portal and as a hole. The decision to fall into the hole or go through the portal is up to you. If they repent of the problem, and consume the news 24 hours a day, with little energy, nervous all the time, with pessimism, they will fall into the hole.
But if you take this opportunity to look at yourself, rethink life and death, take care of yourself and others, you will cross the portal. Take care of your home, take care of your body. Connect with the middle body of your spiritual House. Connect to the egregor of your spiritual home.
Body, house, medium body, spiritual house, all this is synonymous, that is to say the same.
Do not lose the spiritual dimension of this crisis, have the aspect of the eagle, which from above, sees the whole, sees more widely. There is a social demand in this crisis, but there is also a spiritual demand. The two go hand in hand.
It helps if good things emanate from the Universe now. It is through joy that one resists. Also, when the storm passes, you will be very important in the reconstruction of this new world. You need to be well and strong. And, for that, there is no other way than to maintain a beautiful, happy and bright vibration. This has nothing to do with alienation. This is a resistance strategy.
In shamanism, there is a rite of passage called the Vision quest. You spend a few days alone in the forest, without water, without food, without protection. When you go through this portal, you get a new vision of the world, because you have faced your fears, your difficulties... This is what is asked of you now.
What world do you want to build for yourself?
For now, this is what you can do:
Serenity in the storm.
Calm down and pray.
Establish a routine to meet the sacred every day. Good things emanate, what you emanate now is the most important thing. And sing, dance, resist through art, joy, faith and love."
In this section I am sharing a few excerpts of a chapter called Patience and trauma from my book Travelling like clouds, as I did a lot of research. Being a huge field, I hope I could make it succint enough for anyone to understand it.
I am also sharing some podcasts and videos of some of my teachers and experts in trauma that I very much respect, such as Michael Stone, Thomas Hübl, Gabor Maté. The corona crisis is triggering huge levels of trauma, personally and collectively, some of it relates with the present situation, some might be triggered by past events of our personal, ancestral and historic past. This process is mainly unconscious and has the function to protect us. However to understand it is key for how we will respond to this moment and create a new future. Some of you might be feeling tearful, in panic, or numb, not able to concentrate, overwhelmed, dissociating... please read on.
"It was in the podcast ‘Awake in the world’, in a series of talks by Michael Stone and Molly Boeder Harris, that I learned important information about trauma; how the brain and nervous system react, its key symptoms, and the concept that trauma is imprinted in the body-memory and the nervous system.
I had read about trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but this seemed to speak directly to me and brought an entirely new perspective to my own experiences.
I listened to these talks, only a few weeks after I left the caravan, while still healing my wrist, still a girl without hands, trusting the help of kind strangers, feeling at lost on my journey. It was almost shocking to listen to it, a profound Aha! moment, full of insights, and also some confusion. However, finally, there was language and words to frame and explain certain feelings and emotions that have been very challenging over the years.
I learned that trauma is not the story of what happened, not the shocking event but an automatic function of the nervous system, an unprocessed energy residue that stays in the system, that is living in your body, that is living inside of you right now, creating a split, a fracture, a fragmentation. And most often we are not even aware that is happening because it falls below the zone of consciousness. The body feels unsafe, in its own skin and in the world. Panic reactions, anxiety, fear, shame, lack of confidence, are trauma symptoms; Dissociation keeps us separated.
I felt I needed to dive deeper to understand trauma, and signed up for an online course, a few months later, with the same teacher, Michael Stone, called ‘Healing trauma through the body’.
The course coincided with a care placement. I didn't have much time for myself, and in many ways it was not the ideal way to take such a profound course, as it was triggering a lot of stuff. Or perhaps because of it, it was indeed the right thing to do and the right moment.
The new insights about trauma, and all that I was learning in the course, were bringing shadows into the light. I could see not only my own trauma but I could also unveil the traumas of my clients. I started to see the gifts hidden below the shadows, and with that, a new confidence started to appear. I realized that by holding space for vulnerability, I offered my clients, and myself, a safe space to simply be ourselves, with our circumstances, traumas, limitations, gifts, kindness and all. By seeing trauma and respecting what was hidden, I could be more present, and I noticed how my attention and soft presence, would relax them as well, as they felt seen.
So, what is trauma?
Most people confuse trauma with a shock or an extreme event - such as a car crash, a shipwreck, a war - but trauma is not the painful experiences we have had, it is the impact that those experiences have had on us.
“Trauma can be defined as a breach of one’s protective barrier. It can be physical, mental, energetic, or spiritual. The event that caused the trauma passes, but the body still believes it’s under threat. This taxes all of its systems and we begin to experience wide-ranging symptoms and imbalances that can become chronic. Because trauma increases stress and decreases trust, it not only takes a huge physical and emotional toll, it also deeply affects how we relate to each other.” (Michael Stone)
Thomas Hübl describes it as a frozen energy that becomes undigested. 'We might organize our life around the trauma, the same way a tree grows around an obstacle, distorting its branches'. Often we are unaware of this.
In trauma, much of what the brain does is unconscious. Its function is actually to protect us in a situation of danger. The trauma reaction of our nervous system was designed when men were wild creatures and there were real life threats, such as a bear attack. In our modern world we rarely have that sort of life-threatening experience, but our nervous system has not evolved into something more adequate. So fight, flight and freeze is the programmed human response to danger. The main goal is survival. Dissociation follows as a protective mechanism.
If the trauma is not released, it just works behind the scenes, responding automatically, encoding protective memories and responses to danger, even when there is no danger. The brain behaves in the future the way it behaved in the past, like a loop that you cannot control, it highjacks your life. Any similar situation, or even a sight, smell, sound, or fragment of the original scene can trigger the trauma response and get you into a fight or flight or freeze mode without warning. Our logic brains can not control that reaction. It Is not a choice. In trauma, the brain is constantly scanning for danger, not allowing true rest, bringing our nervous system and adrenals, into a state of constant vigilance, stress and fatigue. We enter the surviving mode, we feel we don’t belong to this world, we feel isolated, displaced, ashamed, we want to go back to ourselves, but there is no way home. Trauma disconnects us from our roots; we become a stranger in our own body, a homeless to our own soul.
If the individual that experiences trauma is not given the time and resources to work through it adequately and to integrate the experience in a healthy way, that unprocessed unconscious energy will remain in the body, in the nervous system, and it will affect not only their life, but the lives of everyone around, it will remain in the collective field. It will impact our relations, it will be passed on through generations.
Thomas Hübl has been working in intergenerational trauma, and explains that second and third generations of survivors from the Holocaust carry the burden of the trauma from their ancestors. Personal and collective trauma leave an imprint in the body and in the energetic field. Each human being carries a piece of this, in different scales and depths, that contributes to unresolved and un-integrated unconscious energies that lay beneath our ‘social architecture’ and our relationships with each other, and with Nature and other species. If we feel threatened, isolated, and fragmented, we might not feel in harmony with the world. The refugee crisis, wars and climate change are part of this collective trauma, they result from this fundamental separation.
I also found that all these women carried the trauma of care giving and the loss of their husbands. Dr Gabor Maté points out that continuous low impact stress, such as care giving, dysfunctional living situations, sleep deprivation and uncertainty, create the same trauma impact and symptoms, as more violent or shocking experiences.
Trauma is not our fault, but we do have a responsibility to heal it. However being an unconscious process for most of us and so widely spread across society, institutions, and every aspect of life, this is not an easy task. The first step is to become aware of it. Dr Bessel van der Kolk, author of ‘The body keeps the score’, explains: ‘the only way to resolve trauma is to get to know yourself and cherish yourself. That is very hard to do as long as your body feels unsafe. Most traumatized people try to get away from their bodies as fast as they can (through addictions, sex, food, internet, etc) because their bodies stir them up. The body is where the panic is – the fear and the rage. But you need to get to know your rage and your fear and to learn to take care of it.’
Did you know that to put your fit up on the trunk of a tree is a great self-care exercise for calming and grounding?