The Power of your Heart

Posted September 27, 2014 by Rick
Categories: General

I’ve passed along the newsletters from Learning Strategies Corporation from time to time. I’m a fan of their work. This showed up in my inbox this morning from their “Health Sparks” newsletter and the message really resonated with me to the point I wanted to share it with you all.

One advantage I have over the average person is sample size. Because I work with people in pain for a living, I see patterns that an individual dealing with their own issues might not see. And here’s one pattern I see repeated in our clinic every week: someone is in severe, chronic pain but at the core of their issue is an emotional wound they will not allow to heal. That emotional wound then bleeds into their physical reality and creates wounds at that level. They can do all the Egoscue routines they want, but until they heal at an emotional/spiritual level, their pain will persist.

I want to be clear, that’s NOT everybody. For a lot of people, that knee pain is simply the product of a mispositioned knee and once we apply the right corrective exercises, things immediately get better. But I see a number of clients where their posture and function is improving but their symptom persists. And I’ve seen such cases where the person had a breakthrough of some kind, where they realized they were holding a grudge or harboring a resentment that had festered over the years, and when they laid it down they were amazed at how quickly they felt better, physically.

So, here you go. I’d encourage you to ask yourself, are you holding any resentments? Is there someone in your life you need to forgive? If so, follow the advice below and see what happens. I’ll bet life gets a lot better on a number of levels.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Welcome to Health Sparks
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Every day your heart, a muscle roughly the size of a fist, pumps about 2,000 gallons of oxygen-rich blood to cells throughout your body to keep you alive. As amazing as the physiology of it is, this primary organ of the circulatory system does so much more.
“The heart is the miracle maker,” says teacher, healer, and Qigong master Chunyi Lin. “The heart accounts for 90 percent of our body’s energy, the mind only 10 percent.”
In fact, research at the Institute of HeartMath has revealed:
  • The heart generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body, as measured in an electrocardiogram, and it’s about 100 times greater in amplitude than the brain waves recorded in an electroencephalogram.
  • The heart’s electromagnetic energy can be detected and measured several feet away from a person’s body, and between two people in close proximity.
  • Information transferred from the heart’s electromagnetic field changes based on the emotions experienced.
HeartMath studies “heart coherence,” a state in which the heart, mind, and emotions are in harmonious alignment, and the impact of this state on health and human performance.
“The heart connects us to the infinite and universal source of energy and serves as a keen advisor,” says Chunyi, creator of Spring Forest Qigong. “When we surrender to its advice, it is very powerful.”
Chunyi’s own experience is a clear example. During the Cultural Revolution in China, his childhood turned terrifying when his parents were arrested and he and his siblings were driven from their home in wintertime.
They were forced to live in the streets with no food, as bullets and bombs exploded near their hiding places. Family members even suffered torture. Chunyi lived in fear and was full of anger, which he carried for many years.
As a young man, Chunyi was depressed and suicidal. Injuries left him with severe arthritis in his knees and bone spurs in his back and neck. He could barely walk.
Chunyi had practiced Qigong, and he wanted to heal. One day he joined 15,000 people who gathered in a soccer stadium with a powerful Qigong master for a day of meditation and healing.
“He told us if you want to heal faster and more completely, open your heart. Forgive in your heart those people who hurt you,” Chunyi recalled. “And I said, ‘No way! Those people with a gun to our heads wanted to kill us. How could I ever forgive them?'”
If forgiveness seemed impossible, the Qigong master instructed, “Then just pretend to forgive them.” So Chunyi did.
“I imagined inviting each person to stand before me and telling them, ‘At this moment, I just pretend I love and forgive you.’ I repeated it over and over. ‘I pretend I love and forgive you.’ Later on there was a gigantic opening in my heart. The long forgotten love, kindness, and forgiveness came flooding back to me. It was a great warmth, like a current of energy, starting from my heart and washing like a river down my back and over my knees.”
When the workshop ended that evening, Chunyi stood up with a sudden realization. “A miracle had happened! My knee pain was almost gone. I ran and jumped about the soccer field like a kid — I was so happy. My arthritis was healed, my bone spurs in my back and neck were gone, and my suicidal depression went away. All the people I had hated before, I now loved from my heart. Now I live in peace and joy every day, every minute.”
Forgiveness is love in action. Forgiveness allows you to release anger, the number one cause of serious energy blockages that can lead to all sorts of illness and disease. “Just from a selfish perspective, you are the one to benefit,” Chunyi says.
And when you forgive someone, you give that person a chance to become a better person. “Your blessing is powerful. At the universal level, it is not between you and another person; it is between you and your god. At the universal level, everything is energy. We are all equal. That is why forgiveness is so powerful.”
On a larger scale, forgiveness brings more joy to your community. As Chunyi likes to say, “You become a ‘love radiator.’ You carry this healing love energy in your heart wherever you go, and because of you, other people feel better.”
When you assess your own life, do you find anger or resentment within? Are you willing and able to open your heart and extend forgiveness to others? If not now, then follow the master’s advice — just pretend — and experience how the warmth of love fills your being!
 

Stand up for mental health!

Posted August 4, 2014 by Rick
Categories: Egoscue, General, Nutrition and Health

i subscribe to an email newsletter from The Learning Strategies Corporation and i thought i’d share something they sent me a few weeks ago. Here’s their newsletter, then i’ll conclude with a comment below it:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Welcome to Health Sparks
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
How many hours did you spend sitting yesterday? Consider your drive to work, time spent at your desk, an afternoon meeting, gathering around the dinner table, and catching the nightly news.
For many, it adds up quickly. And it could be taking a toll on your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Your brain’s functioning depends on blood flow, which is decreased by prolonged sitting, says Linda Wasmer Andrews, author of the Encyclopedia of Depression, in an article published in Psychology Today. Andrews sites three recent studies that have assessed the psychological effects of sitting:
  1. In a study of over 3,000 government employees in Tasmania, Australia, those who sat over six hours each workday scored higher on the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, which measures anxiety and depression experienced in the past four weeks, than those who sat less than six hours per day. The results were consistent, regardless of the participants’ activity levels outside of work.
  2. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine studied 9,000 women in their fifties and found those who sat seven hours or more per day and were otherwise physically inactive were three times more likely to suffer from depression than those who sat fewer than four hours per day. “The relationship between sitting and depression may be a two-way street,” says Andrews. Depression decreases a person’s energy and motivation, and prolonged sitting is likely to make it worse.
  3. Researchers from the Society of Behavior Medicine studied men and women to determine if time spent sitting outside of work—watching TV, using a computer, riding in a vehicle, and socializing—impacted mental wellbeing. For women, non-work hours spent sitting, regardless of which activity, had a negative effect. For men, only non-work hours spent on a computer had significant negative impact.
“Consider how you spend your free time: It’s important to make time for the gym or a regular run. But don’t count on even a daily half-hour of exercise to completely cancel out the unhealthy, unhappy effects of 11 hours in a chair,” says Andrews. “If you have a desk job, seek opportunities to add more activity breaks to your day.”
Even breaks as short as a minute can help.

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The more we learn about sitting, folks, the more we find how damaging it is to our health, and this study talks about its impact on our spirits. One thing i love about this is where it says “even breaks as short as a minute can help.  If you’re a client of an Egoscue clinic and you sit a lot for whatever reason, ask your therapist to give you a short menu to help counteract your sitting time. if i have a client, for example, who has a deskjob i’ll give them an “office menu” where i give them very short things they can do during their day to break up and counteract the limited motion patterns of extended sitting. Your therapist will be happy to give you one if they haven’t already.

 

So now that you’ve read this blog post, get up and move!

An easy, powerful way to be happier

Posted January 30, 2014 by Rick
Categories: Egoscue, General

Tags: , , ,

I read an interesting book a month or two ago, The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. He dives into the concepts and research findings from the field of positive psychology. The data is fascinating as it strongly suggests that we can systematically engage in certain behaviors that increase our inner well being, as well as behaviors that tear it down. I think most of us would intuitively understand this to be true, but now we have research that not only confirms it, but gives guidance as to what some of those behaviors actually are!

So let me ask you a few questions. Would you like to be happier? Would you like to feel a deeper sense of inner well being? Would you like to experience less stress? And what if I told you that you could accomplish ALL those things in 5 minutes a day, and not even spending 5 consecutive minutes at one time? 2-3 minutes in the morning, 2-3 minutes in the evening before bed. Interested?  I was.

One of the things the research shows is that maintaining a gratitude journal and writing some very specific things in it every day can lead to profoundly positive internal shifts. In my life I’ve made various attempts at maintaining a gratitude journal, but they all petered out for one reason or another. And then I heard a podcast from one of the creators of The Five Minute Journal. It sounded intriguing so I checked it out. I was so impressed that I purchased it and I will tell you flat out, I think this thing is REALLY powerful.

I could take the time to go into why, but I’d rather let you just discover it for yourself.  Go to www.fiveminutejournal.com and check it out. This is a POWERFUL tool I recommend to everyone. If you decide to purchase it, use the coupon code “bulletproof” (I’ll explain more in a subsequent post where that comes from) to get a modest discount. It’s not an expensive item by any stretch. With the coupon code I think I paid about $26 including shipping.

We know very clearly that our inner emotional state has a profound impact on how our bodies feel and function. In fact if you ask Pete Egoscue for his definition of health, one answer I’ve heard him give of late is “Health is peace of mind”. This journal is a fantastic tool to help you cultivate such peace.  

And a request: if you get one, share comments below about what you’ve experienced as you began using it.

Why are American health care costs so high?

Posted January 23, 2014 by Rick
Categories: Uncategorized

This video does a great job of explaining why American health care costs are SO much higher than other countries. It’s incredibly informative, entertaining, and somewhat infuriating.

 

Are “minimalist” shoes good or bad?

Posted January 20, 2014 by Rick
Categories: Egoscue, General

I’ve seen a lot of articles about this topic over the last year and it’s been fairly predictable. Let’s get some clarity on this.

 

First, what is a “minimalist” shoe? It’s a shoe that doesn’t have much (if any) intrinsic support. Such shoes are typically very light weight and very flexible.  At Egoscue we’ve recommended such shoes for years. In Pete’s books he has consistently written (for decades) to wear as little shoe as possible. Spend as much time barefoot as you can, and when you need to wear shoes, spend as much time in shoes that are as close to barefoot as possible.  Examples of such shoes would be the Merrell Barefoot line (what I’m wearing right now), New Balance Minimus, Nike Free, Vibram FiveFingers, and now a whole host of other options. This category of shoe is “trending” (to borrow a term from the TwitterVerse). 

Here’s a pic of the exact model of shoe I’m wearing as I type this. I love these things:

NewImage

What is the advantage to such a shoe? Simple: it allows your foot to do the things a foot is supposed to do. Most athletic shoes are so rigid that they don’t work with the foot, they encase it and physically restrict it from doing what it is designed to do. Essentially, they crutch the foot. And does a crutched body part get stronger or weaker? Yeah, weaker. Is it in your best interests to have a foot that is stronger or weaker? Get the picture?

If a client properly transitions to this style of shoe, they invariably have a great experience. But the key word there is “properly”. If you walk for 30 minutes a day and you’ve been using traditional walking shoes, don’t get a pair of these and then go for a 30 minute walk in them. Same thing if you’re a runner, or just wear such shoes bopping around town. Let your body adapt to this new stimulus, because it IS new stimulus. These shoes will absolutely make your feet do work that your current shoes don’t. That’s the point, but you don’t’ want to overload the foot. Let the foot gradually adapt to this new demand.

The other thing is, if you have significant postural or functional issues, shoes like these will highlight them. I see articles saying that some people get injured switching to these shoes. I’ll bet they do. If you take the general population not working with us, people with hips and knees and ankles out of position, compromised foot strikes when they walk and run, and then without working on addressing these postural and functional faults you just put them into a minimalist shoe and think that’s going to solve all problems, you’re going to be disappointed, and you will likely hurt.

So am I fan of these kinds of shoes? Absolutely. But I would STRONGLY suggest that if you want to make this transition, work on your basic postural and functional issues and then give your body time to adapt to this new stimulus. The results will be WELL worth it.

 

The Power of Forgiveness

Posted December 21, 2013 by Rick
Categories: Uncategorized

I was going to write this post about something else entirely, and then I read this article:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/20/us/libya-widow-teacher-forgives-attackers/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Wow!

This is the story of a couple who traveled to Libya with their young son so the husband could teach English at The International School. He went out fo a jog one morning about a month ago and was gunned down by a 4 masked men in a jeep. The story has provoked outrage and anger around the world. The wife, however, has a message for everyone: love and forgiveness. What did she want to tell the people who murdered her husband?

 

“I just envision the black Jeep driving up to him and I don’t know their faces. I just want them to know that God loves them and can forgive them for this,” Anita Smith tells CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview.

Emotion broke her voice as she spoke.

“I don’t know them. That’s how I honestly feel. It may sound crazy. It’s God’s spirit that’s putting this inside me,” she added.

Smith said she didn’t feel any anger or want any revenge against the killers of her husband.

“I just really want them to know that I do love them and I forgive them, and Ronnie would want this, and I hope and pray that our son, Hosea, would believe this,” she said.

 

That is just incredible, moving and powerful. Now, why do I share this with you?

Forgiveness is a very, very powerful emotion, and so is guilt, and so is anger. We all know that the mind and the body are not really separate things but are different aspects and reflections of our being. I will go so far as to say this: the state of our spirit will absolutely mirror itself in the state of our physical body. You guys see this all the time. How do you physically feel when you’re completely stressed out? Does that feel “good”? If you deal with a chronic pain issue, how does your pain respond to stress? Probably hurts more, right?  

One of the benefits I have of being the longest-tenured clinic director in the Egoscue clinic system is I have a good sample size from which to draw conclusions. And I see over and over and over again that where a person is at emotionally and spiritually ABSOLUTELY impacts their pain.  And the most damaging emotions I see people hold on to, the ones that wreak the most physical havoc, are anger, guilt and shame.  Those emotions are incredibly destructive not just to your spirit, but to your body as well. They are absolutely inflammatory.

I see a lot of people walking into our clinic looking for help who are laboring under the tremendous burden of these emotions. And their physical progress will be necessarily limited to the degree these folks continue go hold onto these things. Some of the time, these emotions are directed outward at others. The client perceives someone “did them wrong” and they cannot let it go.  These people are stuck in victim-ness. More often, though, these emotions are directed inward, at themselves. They thought or felt or did something in their past they literally cannot stand. Think about that phrase, “I can’t stand the fact that…..” And then they come literally limping into my clinic having trouble standing!  

Holding on to these emotions is like grabbing a hot, burning coal from a fire and refusing to let it go. They keep grasping it, and it keeps burning them.  They cannot – and will not – begin to heal until they let that coal go. And likewise, many of the folks who walk into our clinic will not experience full healing and restoration in their bodies until they let go whatever that toxic emotion is they continue to carry with them, like a burning coal.

Is this post speaking to you? If so, good. Are you holding on to a burning coal at this very moment? Do you know what it is? Is holding on to it serving you or hurting you? Could you have the courage to lay it down and forgive and love yourself?  

Or are you reading this and nodding and saying “that was me, I spent years holding that coal, thank God I laid it down some years ago”? If that’s you, I’d love for you to share your story in the comments below.

If you need to forgive someone else, or if you need to forgive yourself, go read or re-read that story above. Then I’d strongly suggest you go watch this 18 minute video from the TED conferences, Brene Brown talking about shame. It is incredibly powerful.

If you’re reading this, if you are a client at an Egoscue clinic or are thinking of becoming one, the odds are good you are experiencing some kind of pain. A great place to start in the healing process is to do the inner work first of ensuring you can say yes to the questions “Am I ok? Do I approve of myself? Do I love myself in a healthy, nurturing way?” Be brutally honest with yourself and if the answer is yes, terrific! If the answer is no, I’m proud of you for asking the question and having the courage to answer it honestly.  Figure out what you need to do to be able to let go of the toxic emotions that are oxidizing and inflamming both your spirit and your body. Perhaps that is having a very frank, honest talk with a certain person in your life. Or setting up an appointment to speak to a counselor at your church, temple, synagogue or mosque. Or having a visit with a mental health professional. Or maybe it’s just realizing that, finally, enough is enough. In this moment, right now, you have the power to let this go, whatever it is, however big it seems. My prayer for you is that you’ll have the courage to do this and can then step into a new era of your life, free of these weights you’ve been carrying for so long. 

 

I’m back. Again.

Posted December 20, 2013 by Rick
Categories: General

Hey guys, my last post was apologizing for the extended delay, and now here I am doing the exact same thing. A number of reasons why, but it doesn’t really matter.

So, I want to fire this back up and share some things I find exciting in the world of Egoscue, share some information, and share some things I’m doing outside of Egoscue that I think are having a powerful influence on my health.

But I have a question: what kind of stuff would YOU like to read here? Posts about different health and pain issues? Egoscue testimonials? Cutting edge info about overall health and wellness? If there’s something you’d like to see here, comment below and tell me about it and I’ll do my best to address it.

I’ll be back shortly (I promise) with more.


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