…I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug…
– taken from Hippocratic oath
I will say in advance that this article is charged with some emotion and “judgment” towards our men. As most of you know I write many articles around support of our men and how the landscape of the healing arts world leaves them behind. However, in the fields of fertility they do not play fair. I write this after another interaction with one of my female clients recently that echoed the story I have heard way too often…
“I am still not pregnant, I am now on Letrozole (or insert one of many ovulation stimulating drugs), I feel awful and all of my tests say that I am hormonally healthy. My husband finally got checked out and it appears his sperm is weak. “Is he taking any action to improve his sexual health”. NO, he supports me and Maya massage and herbs and doctors but there is no way he will do any of this….”
Common Letrozole side effects may include:
- dizziness, drowsiness, weakness, tired feeling
- hot flashes, warmth in your face or chest
- bone pain, muscle or joint pain
- flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling)
- increased sweating
- swelling, weight gain
It is at this point that I have to swallow my anger. I have to allow judgment to roll off my back as my client sits in front of me feeling defeated. Feeling like she has failed- like her body has failed and that she still has to carry the entire burden of the infertility diagnosis herself. It further astonishes me how many couples in this scenario- or should I say how many women- are willing to undergo expensive and invasive IVF treatments before the male partner tries to improve his fertile health. Again, I always hear- “he is so supportive of all the things I do”. Umm- of course he is- he doesn’t have to do anything inconvenient or invasive to his body. I am fully aware that this is not all men. But I write from first hand experience and my experience is that this is the common story.
Emotions aside, I can come into a place where there is compassion for a man who receives a diagnosis of poor sperm and reproductive health. Those words pierce straight to the heart of ego. And, in a society where men already feel isolated from emotional expression it can be an uphill climb to face the reality that they are not the warrior-creator-provider that the stories of conquer and kings make us all believe they should be.
Times are different, our bodies are different and face different challenges with stress and toxicity on many levels. This is not exclusive to the sensitive female system. Stress typically effects our hormone health first as the brilliance of life will not allow creation to continue if the landscape is barren and void of nourishment. This effects men equally to women. Women just speak of it more often as we have a moon cycle that alerts us to imbalance every month.
(I do want to insert here that many of my beloved friends, clients and colleagues identify as female with male type bodies. When I speak of women and females here I speak of those with female parts regardless of gender identity- and vice versa- as stress and fertility affect us all :)… However, this issue lends itself more to the straight, heterosexual population.)
Details of the infertility epidemic and what resources can be helpful for our men….
A diagnosis of infertility comes after a couple is unable to conceive after one year of trying. According to statistics from the CDC 35-40% of issues come from female imbalance, 35-40% come from male imbalance and the rest is of equal imbalance in both partners. This information alone should hopefully spark awareness to the importance of shared responsibility in this delicate, important and miraculous process.
Common causes of infertility for both men and women are:
- Stress and trauma
- Hormone imbalance
- Poor diet and lifestyle- including being overweight
- History of chronic disease
- Medication use
- Recreational drug use including tobacco and marijuana
- Past or recent sexual infections
- Abdominal surgeries
Causes of infertility in men:
- Low sperm count and motility of sperm
- Erectile dysfunction
- Ejaculation issues and obstruction
- had one or two undescended testicles when you were a baby or child
- have a hernia in your groin- very common in men
- Hormone replacements and steroid use- testosterone.
- All of the above- stress, trauma, diet, lifestyle, smoking, drug use etc.
When my clients (mostly women) come in to see me around their reproductive health we start by looking holistically at all of the above factors. When it comes to baby making we must all remember that just because the fetus grows within the mother and is mostly nourished by her, the health of that initial beautiful organism is affected by the health of both cells from sperm and egg. What that sperm carries (stress, toxins, trauma) can greatly influence if and how that fetus develops. Both parts must be healthy and vital for life to respond optimally. When wanting to create a family- the vitality of the whole family organism should be addressed- mom, dad, baby/ mom, mom, baby/ dad, dad, baby- or whatever lovely structure your family takes.
So, how do we approach the male bodied partners out there who need some guidance around this joint effort plan in parenting? First, we acknowledge how the male dynamic is mostly NOT wired to self nurture. We meet them where they are and give them information in a way that supports and doesn’t diminish them. (And, yes, maybe a few harsh words of reality) There is NO shame in needing a little assistance in our reproductive health. MEN- of course you need assistance. Modern stressors affect us all-like I said. They affect all and affect us first in our endocrine balance which affects our sexual vitality. You are not less of a man because you battle and experience the same stress triggers as most every other man- and woman- walking. We all just need to talk about it more.
Next, we provide resources and solutions that are simple. My recent client knows that there is no way her husband will come to see me so we created a plan where she would teach him the abdominal massage for her and she would also do the massage for him. This creates intimacy that is also nourishing the tissues and organs of the reproductive systems- win win. We also talked about herbs and foods for him that he could easily incorporate.
For the man who is more willing to be an active participant- I strongly suggest that everything the woman does- the man also does. If she is going to alter her diet and lifestyle to more balance and health- so should he. If she is going to take nourishing herbs for her reproductive system- so should he. I will also insert here that regardless of fertility challenges, we want healthy babies and these steps should be taken by ALL couples looking to conceive.
Support for the male body
Herbs– when deciding to take herbs please work with someone experienced in the field of health. Also, diet and lifestyle must be addressed for any plant’s healing properties to have full positive affect on the body.
- Saw Palmetto berry ~Saw Palmetto is nourishing to the entire endocrine system, which may help improve overall reproductive function in men
- American Ginseng Rt. ~This hearty root is considered to be one of the best male sexual tonics. Clinical observation has shown American ginseng to to support healthy libido, erectile dysfunction and enhance male sexual performance.
- Maca~ In a human study of 9 men who were given gelatinized maca for 4 months at 1,500 – 3,000 mg a day experienced an increase in libido, sperm count, motility of sperm, increased DHEA levels, decreased anxiety and stress, lowered blood pressure, balanced iron levels and an increase in adrenal androgens.
- Yohimbe Bark ~Yohimbe has been found to increase circulation to the erectile tissues; aiding in physiological and psychogenic (mental) impotence. Impotence; the inability to sustain erection, is the most common sexual disorder among men.
Diet and Lifestyle- all things worth doing take time. Allow your body to be nourished before you try to conceive.
- Foods high in Zinc~ Zinc has been widely researched in relation to the reproductive health in men. You can easily supplement with zinc and I recommend zinc rich foods as the body more readily uses foods for our nourishment (as long as gut health is in check). Foods high in zinc are: Oysters, spinach and greens, organic lamb and beef, pumpkin seeds, cashews.
- Organic foods~ organic does matter when we talk fertility. Some of the most potent endocrine disruptors come on our foods in the form of pesticides and antibiotics. Fresh, clean and organic foods nourish the body and help keep digestion moving and the liver in optimal filtering health.
- Removing toxins~ Environmental toxins are harsh enough but add tobacco and other drugs to our liver, lungs and body and we have a cocktail of major hormone disruption. Habits are not easy to break and I do not take lightly the journey of quitting tobacco, alcohol, recreational drugs etc. I will propose these questions however: Is the health of the fetus important? Are you willing to adjust your lifestyle to make space for a healthy new baby?- There is no judgment here at all. Just necessary questions as life is not a game to play with.
- Stress management~ Emotional and physical stressors are- in my opinion- the most damaging to our entire system and reproductive health. Find ways to balance your work and your play. Have a creative outlet. Exercise. Take up some mindfulness practices such as meditation and breath. Massage and self- care are very important. (The Maya abdominal massage is excellent for reproductive health in both women and men). Spend more time in nature- alone and with your partner. Have loving, playful and pleasurable sexual connection :).
This journey through the infertility diagnosis is emotional and taxing. Sharing equally in the responsibility can help ease the levels of stress assumed mostly by the female. Less stress on one partner= more love between both partners= better baby making.
If you are finding that there is an imbalance in the desire for shared responsibility please reach out. Men- do not feel ashamed to talk about how to nourish your sexual health. Women- do not feel alone in the journey. We can find balance and solutions for the health of our children who in turn will bring hopeful, healthful love to this Earth.
Other articles you may find helpful:
P is for Prostates..
I have contemplated writing about SIBO for a couple of years but hesitated for many reasons. Mostly because there are a vast number of rabbit holes one can Google down when you search for SIBO information. And because I really wanted to work with more SIBO clients and relate my personal experience rather than completely regurgitate information I read. I have/have had SIBO. And, typically when I have experienced something myself I can access my inner guru and relay some clear answers.
With SIBO I don’t have many answers, and frankly no one really does as it is a relatively new pathology of the gut. However, I feel called to speak on some of the common veins that run through every single one of my clients, and myself, with regards to etiology and recovery. What I will discuss is in relation to the work I do in supporting the human body through trauma and stress through abdominal massage, breath and body awareness. And how unreleased stress and tension in the body- specifically the abdomen- will lend itself to SIBO through rapid decrease in motility function (I will explain this later).
Why I say I have/ have had SIBO is that I don’t really know if it every completely goes away. My recent test of last year was negative but then some minor symptoms crop up and I simply wonder. I talk about this with my clients who come in with desperate eyes looking for answers to alleviate some of their feelings of failure in healing SIBO. I talk about this because it opens the door to working with the body where it is at- learning to really tune in and make lasting life changes rather than thinking that there is a start and finish.
True, many do completely live symptom free and I find those are the ones who have embraced the many changes that are necessary to ensuring that SIBO doesn’t return. This is not what most want to hear because it requires deep work on the emotional level to have that self care mastery and sense of your body. And, this is where finding someone to guide you into your body to address the stress triggers can really help you walk that path. AND- it doesn’t have to look perfect which is why I also say that you may just have to deal with SIBO, on minor levels, for some time. Because stress does exist and you have to exist so there’s that dance.
Ok- so for those of you who have NO idea what SIBO is lets dive in:
SIBO is short for small intestinal bacteria overgrowth. It is a condition where large amounts of bacteria populate the small intestine causing a variety of health symptoms not only in the gut but in the entire body- because as we know, the gut is like grand central station for the majority of our bodily functions. In fact, the symptoms of SIBO are so closely related to IBS (which is only a list of symptoms and not something I consider a real diagnosis) that many doctors are calling SIBO the new IBS. A study published in the Townsend Letter found that 84% of IBS patients presented with SIBO when tested.
- Gas and bloating after almost anything you eat, especially carbohydrates.
- You take probiotics and feel worse
- Abdominal pain, discomfort, cramps
- Mood disorders
- Constipation, diarrhea, or a combination
- Nausea and heart burn
- Fatigue and brain fog
- Malabsorption of nutrients
- Systemic pain
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Hormone imbalances
There are also many diseases now being linked to SIBO like fibromyalgia, thyroid disorders, Crohn’s disease, cystitis, colitis, skin disorders and many more. If you have any of the above symptoms and have been diagnosed with IBS with no success in eradicating your symptoms, I highly recommend getting tested for SIBO.
Testing and Treatment
There are a couple different testing methods but the preferred is the hydrogen/methane breath test. The unwanted bacteria that populate the small intestine get really cozy and wait for you to eat anything that turns to sugar. When they feed on your pasta and wine they then produce the gasses hydrogen and methane. These gasses are not naturally produced by human cells making them distinguishable in the breath test. (the breath test is a slightly long, annoying but mostly accurate test). These gasses are what give you the uncomfortable digestive symptoms and prevent your food from being properly absorbed and passed into your colon properly. The key in treating SIBO is then to eradicate these bacteria, and this is where incredible confusion and frustration sets in for most people.
There are two main treatment options for killing the bacteria: antibiotics and a more natural approach using antibacterial herbs and supplements. I am not going to go into what works and what doesn’t because it really depends on you, how well you address the underlying causes associated with SIBO and how diligent you are with diet. Also, what I have found, as with most imbalances in the body, is that there is not a one size fits all protocol with these things. However, you must kill the buggers so choose a course that suits you. And studies have shown a 75% reduction rate in symptoms once the bacteria has been addressed. Unfortunately, many think that like other bacterial infections in the body, if you take the prescribed course of antibacterials then you are done. This just is NOT the case- sorry to say- and is how many clients end up finding me, or others who can help, to guide them in the other intricacies of SIBO that allopathic medicine falls short to address.
Alongside antibacterials, most all natural and allopathic doctors will also prescribe some sort of supplementation or prescription medication to address motility of the gut. They are now also aware that these bacteria love to make little nests in biofilm so biofilm disruptors are recommended. All of this in combination with a very rigid diet that omits most all carbohydrate intake.
In brief the standard protocol is:
- Take antibacterials
- Follow one of the many recommended diets (Gaps, FODMAPS, SCD, Elemental)
- Take prokinetics for motility
- Biofilm disruption (I won’t go into this but is necessary)
Looking at this seems pretty straightforward, unless you have SIBO and know the path is not that linear. What the above protocol fails to recognize is what impairs gut motility in turn impairs digestive enzyme production, transit of food, absorption of nutrients and so on.
How did this happen?! And the one common denominator- STRESS
SIBO isn’t something you just wake up with. It creeps in over time unfolding symptom after symptom which makes it difficult to really pinpoint when the story began. I have found that for most with SIBO they already had a compromised digestive system for some time. I hear from a lot of my clients that they have lived with minor digestive issues for so long that it became a normal state. This alone triggers a constant stress response in the body which over time impairs motility. The main causes of SIBO are also some of the main causes of many other intestinal disorders.
- Improper diet and lifestyle
- Parasitic infections
- Food poisoning
- Antibiotic use
- Long term medication use- including birth control pills
- Abdominal surgeries
- Excessive stress leading to reduction in digestive enzymes and gut motility
If current stress levels are not addressed then motility and in turn digestive enzyme production, nutrient absorption and so on have a very difficult time in being restored. Even if we start to heal the lining of the gut through supplementation and diet, there is still no guarantee that SIBO stays at bay until the motility function of the digestive system is restored. And, gut motility functions properly in your parasympathetic “rest and digest” state. It relies on your parasympathetic and enteric nervous system to fire the communication signals to the body that it is safe and to unwind the contracted intestinal tract.
An important protective mechanism against SIBO is proper small intestine motility via the migrating motor complex because stasis promotes bacterial overgrowth. – Allison Siebecker, MD ‘Townsend Letter’
If your abdomen and intestinal motor function stay in contraction then you will continually perpetuate the pile up of bacteria in your small intestine rather than it travelling to your colon where it belongs or can be dealt with. If your body stays in your stressed flight or fight mode then your system signals digestion to slow and reduces enzyme production. Digestive enzymes and healthy levels of stomach acid are necessary not only for breaking down our food for absorption, but stomach acid is a first line of defense against more incoming bacteria on our food. But, coming back to the point of stress, even if you supplement with digestive enzymes, which I encourage in the beginning, if the motor function does not move your food through properly then you will still fight the SIBO back up. Ok, I think you get the point.
When we think of stress we think of the daily grind of work, family, finances etc. We often overlook that the body registers improper diet, toxic environments, toxic thoughts and an unbalanced lifestyle as stress. If we truly want to understand how to heal and what our body needs we have to listen to it. Unwelcome bodily symptoms and disease are literally signals from our beloved bodies that it needs help. But rather than slow down and listen and tune in, we create more chaos by constantly seeking “the little blue miracle pill” and we never actually heal.
Deep down we ALL know what is needed to create balance in our lives. Deep down we KNOW that most of our stress is self created. Deep down we all FEAR what it takes to really face our reality and take care of ourselves. But, I will tell you from experience, and from witnessing my clients’ recoveries, the more we come back to the our bodies and listen, the more we allow our fears to surface and address the stress trapped in our bodies, the easier actually taking care of ourselves is. It is really a big ol’ prescription of self-love and it is very human to fear that path- you are not alone.
Ok- mini tangent. What were we talking about? Oh, yes, SIBO…
As I said, the SIBO world is tricky to navigate and there is no miracle cure. But I can guarantee that the more you return to your body and reduce the stressors that keep the SIBO cycle going, the more you are going to be able to hear your own cues to heal and awaken your own inner gut guru. How do we return? We seek guidance and support that can help the body remember how to go with the flow. I have personally found abdominal massage and breathwork to be the most profound in assisting the enteric and parasympathetic nervous systems as both healing modalities address the abdomen directly. Reach out to practitioners who can hold witness to your stress and help you release it in a way that serves your body. Get some coaching. I have also found that most of my clients need someone to help them navigate the protocol their doctors have prescribed. But most of all, trust your body, trust yourself that you are strong enough to balance your own system and… trust your gut.
Are you curious about how abdominal massage and breath can help? Do you need help finding someone to support your journey? Want to know more about SIBO and my personal protocol? I am here…
Schedule a Coaching Session Now where you will get my insights. Additional sessions will include at home abdominal care and guided healing breathwork to help you release the stress in your belly.
In the Seattle area? Schedule an in person Healing Session Now.
All new clients- $10 off your first session. Existing clients- refer 1 person and receive $10 off your next session
I realize I just barely touched on all the mechanisms of SIBO as that was not the intent of the article. I have included links below to some highly intelligent doctors and specialists in this area that can elaborate.
www.chriskresser.com | www.siboinfo.com
For the past few years I have been weaving breath awareness into my sessions; many of you have experienced this. With some of you, we have gone into some deeper, more intentional breath patterns to help open up the body, unravel the thoughts of the overworked mind and release trapped and stagnant emotion. If you have experienced these deeper levels of release I am grateful for your trust of self and your trust in the space I hold for your healing.
In seeing these deeper releases I heard a call to better understand breath work in my own personal healing journey. I recently returned from a 10 day immersion into studying the effects of breath on the pain body and negative thought forms that are associated with our pain. Each day I dove into the most dark and uncomfortable corners in my body and mind. And each day I opened up to the trust of my breath and watched my body reveal some very old patterns that were holding my vitality hostage. I witnessed the same in those around me as I have in one on one client care.
The breath became a crystalline lens that allowed my intuition to “see” where stagnation, contraction and trauma was in the body of the person I was in healing relationship with. The hands on belly, womb and body work was then so much more profound as layers of guarding and disassociation had loosened.
Intentional/active breath work techniques are so healing because they are a catalyst to trust; trust of self and trust of the Universal flow and one-ness that we are all a part of. Breath awakens the body back to awareness of itself and helps connect the dots of unserving thought forms in relationship to contraction and dis-ease in the body. When this healing begins to wind in and we feel ourselves- our true selves- again, it is inevitable that we meet our heart; love always wins.
Your breath is yours and also the molecules that touch every other energy on this planet and beyond. How you breath and allow the trust in Universal life to flow is how your entire life flows. It is the most telling and intimate relationship you will ever have. Its gift is life and life wants nothing more than balance, healing and love. You have all of this already inside of you- you are your own healing force.
As we unlock our own ability to heal we need witness, we need teachers, we need support. We are meant to be in one-ness. We are a part of whole and to have someone stand by our side as we uncover our heart and soul strengthens our ability to trust and let go. I am here to be witness. I am here to teach you how to carry this into your own life. I am also here if you are ever interested in my story as I believe that when we can tell our stories from a place of healing we can uplift others to shine light on theirs and let go.
This work is not easy as true healing will bring our fears to the surface. Your body may release in ways you have not experienced before and you may have emotions you have buried rise up. But, on the other side is a life of more freedom and insight as you unlock your original medicine and allow your true light to shine. PLEASE REACH OUT WITH QUESTIONS. 🙂
SESSIONS CAN BE DONE VIA SKYPE AND ARE VERY POWERFUL IN THE SPACE OF YOUR OWN HOME
For most of my 30s I would wake in the morning with this underlying anxiety that would hit me with a subtle waive of nausea. The thoughts that accompanied this feeling would all be centered around this theme of “running out of time to prove my feminine worthiness”. In my mind I was racing against time, I was racing against myself and I also felt as though as I was racing against other women- which is a perpetuating factor, I believe, in our current imbalances. Above all, I felt alone. When we don’t connect and learn from one another we also perpetuate a shame around our bodies not working, not being loved, not loving ourselves and so on. This separation just compounds the feelings of unworthiness and embarrassment at being (insert age here) without a man and a baby- a perfect picture of balanced family-career-love.
The article below I wrote about 4 years ago for a class I was taking. It is NOT about what you think it is but I am sure I will generate extra curiosity and traffic from the title. And, I am open to discussing what you think it is about as I do hold space for sexual and sensual healing, but that is for another time…
It was a vulnerable moment a few years back as I started to share with others about my story. So vulnerable that it never made it to my blog page at the time. I am quite open now about my journey through trauma and the manifestation of my eating disorder but am also cautious that I do not share from a desperate emotional place (which my mind can slip into- I am sure I am alone in this ;)). I hold this belief that I can only really share my healing gifts and my journey once I am “healed” and see the other side of this affliction- addiction. This belief is damaging and dimming of my light. This belief tells me that I am “not worthy or good enough” now. This belief prevents me from putting my original medicine and service into the world and from sharing a lot of my story. And I know first hand that stories when shared in the right context do heal.
Maybe another one of the main reasons I did not publish the brief article is that I was unsure I wanted to directly work with others who suffer with ED. I already naturally attract many women AND men who struggle with this anyhow but I did not want to open the gates. I wanted to really understand my own process in healing and give myself enough space to see it for what it is before inviting it into my life through my work. The article is very “uncharged” emotionally and not even that personal- which is quite unlike me. It is informative and true and brief. But to claim that the Maya Abdominal and Clinical Visceral work I do could help someone’s recovery process from an eating disorder felt forced and unstable until I knew, I felt and lived the truth of the work I put into the world. Someone the other day quoted “there is no complete psychology without body work”. The body is a record keeper of our lives and therefore an amazing ally in recovery from trauma and addictions when it is approached in a therapeutic way.
My truth is the same as when I wrote the article about the healing effects of touch on eating disorders, but I know it on a cellular level now. I am full of gratitude that the Maya Abdominal work called me into service. And the more I dive under my own stories the more I realize why I am called to the many facets of work I do with others. I know that I will always be diving deeper into myself but I don’t have to reach some mountain peak of light and perfect love in order to heal others. In fact, the compassion, intuition and healing gifts I carry come from walking through the fire and the storms.
I practice the return to my body each day. This is not easy as I have spent most of my life outside of my body. I place my hands on my womb and my belly and thank the guides that led me down this path. I come home to myself and I still have to give “ED a rubdown” from time to time to bring myself back into a relationship based in compassion instead of trauma.
Giving ED a Rubdown (written in 2012)
Everything we believe about ourselves, our emotions and the majority of our physiological functions comes from our core center. This is why maintaining healthy belly (gut) function is critical to overall wellbeing. Unfortunately, the belly is susceptible to so much damage from physical and emotional trauma. Some of these traumas have an obvious cause and effect relationship while others are so intertwined in the mind-body-spirit connection that most allopathic doctors unfortunately misguide, or simply miss, as they are not trained to address the body as a whole. This holds especially true with the damage that is caused from Eating Disorders (ED), of any type, especially Bulimia Nervosa (BN) and Binge Eating (BE).
Briefly, both BN and BE are characterized by dissociative episodes of excessive (binge) eating to the point of stomach dissention, dizziness and illness. BN is different in that the binge is followed by a purge of induced vomiting, laxative abuse and excessive exercise which put an enormous amount of stress and pressure on various parts of the belly. The side effects of both, and all forms of ED, are numerous and life threatening:
- Digestive impairment
- Esophageal tearing, burning and impairment
- Peristalsis impairment
- Autoimmune disorders due to leaky gut
- Severe hormone and chemical imbalances
- Malabsorption of nutrients
- Intestinal blockages
- Chronic constipation
- Emotional blockages
- SIBO- this is a new discovery for me and a journey I have much knowledge around (new addition to article)
- Chronic Pain (new addition)
The abdomen holds most of our vital organs and, according to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), each organ corresponds to a different emotion and energy channel. When we are shut down or damaged in one area the other organs can become stagnant and blocked.
Intervention and therapy are critical but unfortunately the integrative function of the body and the modalities that can begin to repair the deep physical and emotional trauma on a physiological level are missed. This is where the application of the healing effects of Maya Abdominal Massage, and other abdominal massage techniques, can begin to repair the body from the inside out.
~Maya abdominal massage techniques have been used for centuries to address dysfunction and imbalance in the pelvic bowl and belly. Maya abdominal massage therapies are founded on ancient Mayan healing techniques using external, noninvasive manipulation that repositions internal organs that have shifted, thereby restricting the flow of blood, lymph, nerve and chi. These techniques address position and health of the pelvic and abdominal organs. The work is best known for the correction of the prolapsed, fallen, or tilted uterus and for the prevention and treatment of benign prostate enlargement in men, and for relief of many common digestive disorders.~
This modality is incredible, intuitive, spiritual and nurturing. And, even more it addresses and heals a whole resume of symptoms that can correct some very emotional and debilitating conditions in women and men. Traditionally the issues targeted have been around fertility and digestive function with emotional clearing being a positive byproduct of this work. Now, however, a few Maya abdominal practitioners are working in the realm of eating disorder treatment and the positive outcomes have had a dramatically positive impact on the recovery process of the individual. The most interesting to me is the re-establishment of the natural serotonin process.
Serotonin is mainly produced in our gut. When our gut is damaged, or leaky, we are not able to produce the serotonin we need for proper mood support and digestion. Then, doctors prescribe serotonin reuptake drugs that pull any serotonin from the gut into the brain to stay there. Now, we have a condition where the body’s natural negative feedback process, or homeostasis, is broken and the gut is further impaired because it needs all that serotonin to function and on and on…
Individuals with eating disorders typically all have digestive dysfunction and depressed serotonin levels (notice I did not say depression). As the whole gut is slowly restored through gentle manipulation techniques like Maya abdominal massage, blockages and adhesions will release and the body will kick start itself back into a regular negative feedback cycle. Of course there are many layers and factors involved in this process. But as the energy flow between all of the organs is repaired and emotions are released, the individual will, hopefully, start to feel whole enough to tackle some of the deeper layers of recovery.
In my many years of research and self-discovery with such a debilitating and misunderstood disease I know that repair of the physiological body is a major catalyst to recovery. And, being able to bring somebody back to their internal light through hands on care is beautiful, emotionally healing and synergistic with our body’s natural state of balance.
“Learn to Listen to Your Gut”
Let me begin with a story…
I met my client Susie (fake name) a few months ago to address her fibroids. She is a grounded woman who does her inner work and has a rich relationship with spirit. She had thrown almost every natural intervention she knew of at her condition but was still feeling like she was missing a connection in how to address her healing. Her symptoms were not as severe as some but energetically she felt blocked and distracted by the presence of these benign growths. And, yes, there was some pain and discomfort. Above all, she did not want surgery.
We are all guided every moment of every day-
Whispers from spirit that contain the answers to our prayers….
… but we cannot hear
as fear has bound our programmed ear.
Then one day your angels look down and say- “we need her gifts, her light and her love”
but she moves too fast to even notice her guiding star trailing above
Well, we will do what must be done and we will break her leg so she can no longer run
Stay in your sweet body dear one
as your magic and your work that is needed in this world has just begun.
I just came through a major surgery. A left hip replacement to be exact. Many of you reading this who know me may be shocked. But those of you who know me on deeper levels also know that this surgery is about more than just an OA (Osteo Arthritis) diagnosis. This surgery is a milestone in my interpersonal healing journey. It represents thought forms, beliefs and ways of living that do not serve my path in this life any longer. I knew this day was coming. Well, I did not foresee the hip deterioration but deep down I knew that the next layer of letting go of my demons, of facing my fears around love and stepping into my gifts was going to be through some physical manifestation in my body.
To be honest, I feel very blessed to be given this lesson in healing. To be given this gift at a new way to walk, to dance, to honor and love my sweet self and the miracles this amazing body I was given can perform. It loves, it creates, it follows the moon, it sings… But, the single most miraculous thing I have found the human body to do is to be a guide pointing us in the direction of optimal vitality physically, emotionally and spiritually.
We are all blessed with pure guidance each and every moment of each and every day, but do we have the strength of will to listen to the guidance- to call our spirit back when it bolts due to fear’s many frightening faces? I talk often about the miraculous mechanism of the body’s ability to self-regulate, adapt to our constant demands and to protect itself. Everything the body does is truly out of love if we can begin to see the signals as such and decipher them in a way that promotes healing.
What do I mean by guidance?
In her book Spiritual Madness, Carolyn Myss talks about the guidance we receive every moment of every day as the subtle voices that help us guide our will and maintain our center. But the majority of us want guidance as something that comes through sea splitting, lightning bolt visions. The simple guidance is “too hard”. You know, the inner voice that knows exactly how to nourish, rest and take care of your body. The voice that says “you know if you did xyz you would feel, live, love in a way that aligns with your highest self.” But doing xyz requires us to dive into our hearts. It requires that we look deep into how we may have caused some of the damage done. It requires that we may have to forgive people that have harmed us AND that we have to forgive ourselves. It is NOT the easy way. The easy way is living in a delusion that if you pad your life with spiritual self-help books and “play the role” that God/Goddess is just going to blast you with miracle juice one day and you will then be “one of the chosen and special”- because dammit your life has been so hard and you deserve it!!!!
I have a spiritual library and I sit in ceremonies and I light the candles and I pray my beautiful heart out. But, I have learned that until you are willing to hear the daily guidance- really the answers to those prayers you cast out- and act on them, then all the woolandia (it’s a place I promise) magic in the world is in vain. Now, I say that the path of avoidance is the easy way, and it is because it keeps you safe and numb and in a box where nothing can get in. It is easy until your guides and angels that you cast your prayers to give up and leave you fishing your way out of a situation that may possibly cost you parts of your life- or your body…
…“Rest your sweet body, let go, slow down, love yourself, you know you don’t have to eat that, you can stop anytime, trust your body, you know how to do this”. These were the messages from my angels and from my own inner wisdom self that have played in the background of fear’s louder, stronger chorus of self- defeating chatter. The chatter born out of abuse from parents and peers and the voices you create yourself to shut down your light and your love so that it can no longer be attacked.
But the thing about light and love is that they want to manifest and multiply and self-actualize in every living organism on Earth- it is the essence of creation. (hang with me here) The more you shut down your/this divine essence and the more you let fear do the driving, the more difficult it is for the creationary forces of divine love to get in and help you. But, they will find a way even if they have to break you open with disease and dysfunction so that you can slow down enough to pay attention. Unfortunately, our society does not look at spiritual/emotional imbalance as a root cause of most disease and dysfunction- but that is a discussion for another day.
I have always heard my angels but the destructive thought forms that drove me deep into self-abuse and addictions controlled my daily life. I was buried in a battle with food and self-love for more than 2 decades that almost took my physical life. I lost jobs, friends, opportunities and time kept slipping by.
The most despairing part of the darkest moments is that I could sense my divine essence crying out trying to save me. I knew that the Universe needed my light, love and unique gift (that we all have) but I still could not find the strength to call my will back and shine through. Instead I buried myself in exercise despite my exhausted and depleted body. I spent my every day managing my thought forms so I would not spiral into sabotage and end up with my head in a toilet bowl even though I most always would. And then…
…It was 2011. I lost my job of 14 years 3 months after moving to NYC for my company. Shocked and stripped bare of the only stability I had known I felt a great force rise up in me- my angel screaming in my ear “if you don’t pull yourself out of this darkness you will die”. I made a commitment then- no matter how much money or time it took I was going to get help and find my way back to LOVE.
Immediately it seemed I just stopped the addictive and abusive behaviors with food. But, I knew that was just the surface projection of the deeper issues. I knew that the real work was in allowing my body, my spirit and my heart to dance together in trust. I still had HA, I was still exhausted and I was still exercising to quiet the dark thought forms that still were ruling my days. I knew that it would be my actual body that would be taken through some transformation if I didn’t listen and address this next layer of healing.
So here I currently sit one week out of a major hip surgery. As I said, I knew this day was coming. I sit here in complete awe at how guided I am and a heart bursting with gratitude. I know to my bones- especially my sweet left femur- that there is no accident in how I arrived at a hip replacement at 38 years old. I know that my angels needed to slow me down so that my light could shine, so that my gifts could unfurl into the Universe and so that I could truly learn self-love and patience. I know that this part of me sacrificed itself so that all of those thought forms and ways of being that were killing my spirit could be taken with it as it was removed from my body. I know that this is a gift- maybe even a sea splitting miracle. But it came from some deep inner work and listening to the faint song of my angels over the chatter of fear- as true miracles only can.
The inner work of self-love is not for the faint of heart but it is the only work worth doing- I truly believe this is the ultimate human test and why we are here- to unravel the programmed voices of trauma and society and find our way back into ourselves and our divine light. My only words of wisdom are that if your perfectly constructed and brilliant body cries out in pain, dis-ease and dysfunction do not fight yourself. Listen close because I know you know what it is trying to say. Don’t follow the voice of fear too long or your angels just might break your leg so that you have to walk a new way.
Thank you for reading and letting me share a personal journey. Please reach out if you have a story to share or just want to connect. I am here.
Learn to Listen to Your Gut
What just happened? Where did my summer go? My body and my emotions are scrambling to catch up to the shift with a bit more challenge this year. I find this to be so with most of my peers and my clients.
Autumn is a time of returning back to the elements of the body and our emotions as we literally fall back into ourselves. The fall season embodies the element of water. With it’s fluid grace water gently starts to soften the soil of our body so that come winter we can dive into the depths of our internal Earth/body journey. Water washes away what no longer serves and we are left feeling a little bare- a little cold and a little exposed after the warm celebrations of summer’s bounties. Water reflects our light but only if we can slow down the emotional ripples within to really see their and our true image. It can soften the rough edges of our soul and carry us out into the great Universal tides of TRUST.
But therein lies the secret to the process of change and transition. The trees don’t question why they are being stripped of their leaves, they know they must let go of the old and allow it to compost into the cycle of life in order to grow again. Letting go means standing bare and exposed and vulnerable to change and embracing the storms. Letting go is very very emotional. Letting go means you have to be able to discern your emotions and trust their guidance. This can be quite a challenge in a society that discourages being “too emotional”. This can be difficult in a culture that is built on treating your emotions as some sort of dis-ease to be quickly cured and covered. When we block the flow of our emotions, when the tears back up into our eyes and disappear, the cleansing watery ways of our inner life stand stagnant and we can no longer see our reflection- or any reflection.
Like nature, we are cyclic. Our bodies obey the same rules of balance that Mother Nature governs. Nature out of balance will do everything in her power to restore balance and self actualize. A soul out of balance will do the same and the vehicle for that transformation and law is our body. Our emotions are our first sweet signal that this dynamic is in need of reflection. When we trust our emotional body, when we can walk with our every part and piece and spastic thought forms we can maintain a certain level of balance, grace and fluidity. I say a certain level as we don’t really have control of the outcome- sorry to say, yes, you have to let go of that too.
If we ignore this process and allow this stagnant emotional well to build and fester without flow, eventually cracks will form and flood our bodies with poison. I feel deeply and I see in myself and others every day that most of our modern diseases are the by-product of a life in opposition to its natural process of balance, of letting go and trusting Mother Nature herself. The seasonal transitions are by design supportive of our highest self-actualization. Water (fall) washes away what doesn’t serve any longer so we can carry the gifts and bounties that burst in summer’s (fire) flame. Our emotional bodies are softened so that the journey further into our flesh, the dirt of our body (Earth/winter) can show us truly what gifts must be brought to light again so that new parts of us can grow come Spring (air). The new spring breezes carry those seeds into the places of light to grow so our creative spark of summer can again be seen and celebrated…. Cyclic, beautiful, Universal and inside of you.
I write these words sounding as though I flow right through my life with ease and learning and great revelation. I am here to say that I write these words from a place of personal struggle with letting go and seeing my beauty and rhythmic connection to all of life. I write from a place where I know how difficult trust is especially when your emotions are dark and your body disobeys your every command- which isn’t possible but tell that to your ego. I write to say that just taking one step into the direction of self- reflection will bring fluidity and grace back- even if it is just a trickle. And, I write, as always to help guide you in simple ways to “learn to listen to your gut” your heart, your soul and your- YOU.
Falling With Grace…
Slow down: Yes, only for 5 minutes. You can do 5 minutes. I know your feet hit the floor and you’re off. But take just 5 minutes in the morning to sit without distraction and observe your thoughts, your emotions and your breath. Yes, some may call this meditation, and- yes I suppose that it is. But meditation brings up too many conditions for people so let’s just call it slowing down.
Cleanse: Getting in touch with our true emotions can be difficult when our physical body is sluggish and imbalanced. Doing a 1-2 week cleanse can really connect you back to this watery emotional side- you may even find creative inspiration- watch out. You don’t have to become a slave to starvation. Simply eat lighter, eat in accordance with the season, drink more water and cut out those things you “know don’t make you feel good”. A little guidance around what type of cleanse is good for you is very helpful- email me.
Eat Seasonal: Eating seasonally will quickly align you with the rhythms of nature and the season. Root vegetables are energetically grounding for you. More cooked foods warm and soothe our bellies. When we feel grounded, comforted and nourished in our bodies we can listen to the emotions and messages that flow through.
Write a story: Stories are meant to flow from beginning to end- maybe with a heroin, some great drama and love. Unfortunately, our real life stories of pain, fear, imbalance and suffering often stay stagnant. This is mostly due to the fact that we are not asking what is below the surface? If you are jealous- what is below the jealousy? If you hold anger- what flows below it? Write a story about it- maybe you tell the real story or maybe you allow your imagination to drift. Looking below these surface emotions can unblock them. Acknowledging them and letting them move through with our words can give them and you a new perspective on your life.
GET SUPPORT: Body work is one of the most beautiful journeys into yourself. You physically feel your body- you allow someone to care for you and you are in a space to let go. Especially abdominal massage therapies which very specifically address the emotional body as your belly houses the gateways of emotional balance. If you don’t know where to begin to look for a practitioner of abdominal massage I can help guide you.
For further support please reach out with questions. Emotional imbalance can feel very lonely and be debilitating. Life- threatening emotions are real and if you EVER feel unsafe please reach out to a professional who can assist you.
As always, in a beauty way… Learn to listen to your gut
Happy Fall Equinox- here is a little poem about letting go…
She falls in trust through the darkest night towards dawn-
Landing cradled in a silver crescent to lay her dreamy head upon-
Shedding the layers of dreams past-lovers-lessons and strife-
She is born once again- swelling with light and new life-
(A new moon is here dancing again with the sun. What a day, what a time to reflect on what the dance within you expresses…)
I have not had regular menses since menarche. From heavy and painful periods, a journey through birth control pills -that wreaked havoc to my system for years- into hypothalamic amenorrhea, my path to connecting with the sacred moon rhythms has unearthed the most ancient beauty within me as well as some very dark nights. I have had to face some truths about my health, my beliefs around my body and relationship to the world around me.
My own personal journey into the magic moon time took me through a month long “womb blood awakening” course with the Fountain of Life Foundation (FOL). Through meditations, devotional womb practices and shamanic menstruation my dream world began to open in vivid color and landscapes full of messages. This altered state began to flow into my waking life and my relationship with myself and the world around me shifted. It wasn’t until I really studied the sacredness of my own flow that I was able to not only balance my cycle and live without pain, but also heal a deeply wounded sense of self love and of not belonging to divine creation herself. I have a richer relationship with my emotions and can navigate my dreams in dark and day and discern what they are trying to say.
Each month women are blessed with a time of shedding, renewal, reflection and emotional cues that can guide our lives. A woman’s moon time is the most distinctive and inescapable physical difference from her male counterpart. We as women are blessed with an internal compass that can guide our fertile life, our creative life and our dream world. The relationship with your moon is, in my opinion a direct reflection of your relationship with self, your personal relationships and loverships. Your moon can tell you stories about your health and sing songs of your journey in love. As a woman you embody the grand Universal cycle of life- death and rebirth each month. Tapping into the ancient part of you that holds ceremonial truth about your magic moon can invoke great insight into your life in the waking and dream states.
“Her capacity to mate and bare children is a potential which the individual may or may not fulfil, but lover or virgin, mother or nun, from puberty to menopause she menstruates. And the point to realize is that she menstruates on all her levels- physical, etheric, astral, mental and spiritual. It is the ultimate expression of her (Goddess- like) cyclical nature.”- Janet and Stewart Farrar
These insights and dreams hold stories about your deepest truths and you start to see your life, and in some cases the lives of those you love, more clearly. In fact ancient civilizations all over the world honored this sacred time in women and would seek the guidance from the visions that came to them in their dreams during menstruation. Women were given respite from the daily duties and, in many cases, were physically relocated into what was known as the “red tent” so that they could connect to their process and deepest womb wisdom. In many ancient texts and myths it was written that womb blood was considered an elixir of life full of healing and consciousness altering properties. Womb blood carries all of the elements of life and properties unique only to divine creation.
“…over the last few years… what science now shows is that menstrual fluid contains over 1000 proteins that are biologically active, and 385 are unique proteins found only in menstrual fluid. The proteins and peptides found in menstrual blood and yoni fluids include many growth factors and cell stimulators, as well as a portion that are neurologically active or alter sensory perception” -FOL
Stories of the red tent have trickled down through the generations and we are now seeing a revival in “womb blood magic” and ceremonies that teach women how to connect to their ancient rhythms and change how they view this sacred monthly passage. And it couldn’t come sooner- the voice of divine creation (the Goddess) has fallen deaf on our modern ears and her song that lives in every woman is craving to be heard. I see this craving in the female clients I work with- in my sisters- in the men who are awakening to their own emotional lives and I feel it deep in myself. It is expressed through suppressed grief around self-love in the form of pelvic pain, fibroids, cysts, PMS, miscarriages and disconnected partnerships… I see it in sisters all around who cannot connect to one another and long for deep feminine relationships. I see it in anger, erratic emotions and confusion around operating in a way that has shut down their sacred connection to creative flow.
Shifting the current paradigm of shame around menstruation will take lots of healing circles, time, and a Universal shift in both men and women in how we treat this sacred cycle of life. It is quite daunting to most women to even consider not using tampons during their bleed. So, how do we begin? We start slow. We evoke the beauty of the subconscious to train the conscious mind. We look to the sky and begin to observe the bigger picture. We begin to dream again and simply ask our dreams to show us what we need to know to connect, to heal and to love deeply this sacred flow of life through our wombs.
Dark Moon Dream Time Tools
BE emotional: We as women have been conditioned to suppress our emotions so we can hang with the boys. Emotions are of the water element- they need to flow in order to carve new paths, soften rough edges and nurture all life. Trusting your emotions during menstruation may seem counterintuitive to current practices but your moon time emotions contain your MOST true insights. It takes practice and vulnerability to allow your rawness to reveal truths you may not want to address. You may be afraid of losing control. So, again, start slow. Feel and breath into it. Be curious rather than casting judgement. Just observe them. It is very helpful to journal and name them as naming a thing will disarm the charge around it and bring insight. As you become more aware you will begin to see patterns in your emotions and find your voice to express them clearly. But above all- BE emotional.
Make a dream pillow: This is magic at its most whimsical when we can whisper to our angels again like we did as children. A dream pillow simply holds the intention of opening you up to allow your subconscious dream state to guide you. Plants, herbs, flowers, crystals and stones have been used in dream pillows through many ancient cultures to evoke lucid dream states. My favorite plant to work with is Mugwort. Simply find a little pouch- I prefer leather or black to deflect any unwanted incoming energy- and fill it with Mugwort and a little crystal. You will want to whisper your intentions and prayers during your menses each night and slip it under your pillow or hang it over your bed. I have known some to actually fill a whole pillow- it’s your journey.
Follow the moon: Simply beginning to tune into the actual phases and cycles of the moon will create a deeper connection to your own divine cycles. You can simply honor her every night with a short prayer of gratitude. I personally build a devotional altar at each new and full moon phase while taking extra time to honor the quarter moon times in meditation. But, awareness of her and asking for her guidance is a simple and beautiful step in your path.
Have a lunar water prayer vessel: Ok, so this is by far one of my most favorite rituals, and one that I learned in the FOL course that I took. For one entire lunar cycle (new moon through new moon) you fill a clear chalice, cup or vessel of your choosing with water. You whisper prayers of gratitude into the water and ask the moon to fill the water with her healing properties. You leave the water outside to collect moonbeams overnight. When you wake in the morning you drink the water. I swear the water will wash over your womb and you will be filled with a deep ancient feeling of connection- I did anyway. This is also a beautiful ritual to do with little ones who may be afraid to sleep. They can feel like they whispered prayers to the moon to protect them in the night- again, magic in its whimsy.
I love you to the moon… thanks for reading.
I am here for guidance and questions.
Learn to Listen to Your Gut