Why Am I a Massage Therapist?

NW Calgary Massage Therapy with Teresa Graham, RMT
A question I’m asked by clients often is why did I choose to become a Massage Therapist?

One thing that I can say for sure is that it’s a choice I have never regretted, I love what I do as not only a Massage Therapist, but also sharing all of the other Holistic modalities I’ve trained in.

My second career, after office administration, was as an Interior Designer, a job that really nurtured my creative, artistic side. While on site during a design project I fell from a ladder and because of that fall I booked in for my first Massage session. There was no turning back.

Massage Therapy brings well-being to body and mind

That first Massage left me in awe of how it eased the pain, helped me to heal and moreso feeling just how connected the parts of my body were. I had to learn more!

I signed up for a weekend course “An Introduction to Massage”. I was fascinated with

Holistic Massage Therapy with Teresa Graham, RMT Calgary

Massage brings well-being to mind and body

how it felt to work with another’s muscles and feel them release, to see the glow of wellbeing and peace that crossed their face as they completely relaxed. The course wasn’t my first steps in incorporating holistic health practices into my lifeAs a young, single mother I was interested in organic, holistic nutrition and participated in meditation daily. Yoga had been an interest since my teen years.

While on the waiting list to get into Massage Therapy school, I studied ReflexologyReiki, Fitness instruction, Aromatherapy and Colour Therapy. Loving how each of these could complement each other and the holistic wellbeing for myself, my family and others. Did I mention that I love to learn?
My journey into studying Massage Therapy seemed the next logical step on this path I was traveling and I have loved every aspect of practicing it through the past 23 years. Honestly I can’t see myself ever fully retiring because of the joy I experience doing work that I love, with incredible clients.

Calgary Massage Therapist Teresa Graham, RMT

Teresa Graham, RMT

Massage and other Holistic therapies are a continual opportunity to learn and expand my skills. Through the past 18 years my practice has turned to specializing in treating women through all the differing phases of their life journey…but that’s another story for another blog, someday.

It’s weird but I have a sense of gratitude for that fall from the ladder, because it led me to this amazing career!

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Planting the Seeds of Understanding Holistic Health

A holistic health colleague and I were discussing ways to promote our businesses last week and how to get our messages of wellbeing out to the general public.

What we couldn’t decide was whether approaching potential clients from the viewpoint of emotional wellbeing was the best way to share, or if physical wellbeing was better. Why was this a dilemma for us? I think it lies in the fact that we, as therapists, look at wellbeing from a holistic point of view, while mainstream media presents to the public a very “physical symptoms and dis-ease picture” viewpoint.

From a Holistic Health viewpoint one strives to have a balance of wellness in the body, the mind and the spirit.

holistichealth

Some believe that a disease or a physical symptom actually begins in Spirit. That Spirit is attempting to give us a message to make a change or eat differently or take steps toward wellness. It is when we don’t listen and engage with that message that a symptom will move to the mind and then the body, showing up as disease, pain, skin irritation,

When one takes the time to pray or meditate regularly or communicate with Spirit in a way best for them, and take action, it is thought that the mind and body then stay in a space of health and wellness.

In researching what the public is searching the internet for, the focus is very much on disease and symptoms labels such as Fibromyalgia, Plantar Faciitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, PTSD, Stress, Back Pain, Menopause symptoms, Cancer, Anxiety Disorder….

While there is no disagreement with the labels, a holistic therapist looks at each client as an individual and how those symptoms are specifically affecting them. How they are feeling, that day, on an emotional and physical level.

massage therapy in calgary with teresa grahamWhen a client comes to see me for a Massage Therapy session and lists their problem as Back pain. I’m  assessing, as they move, how the pain is affecting their movement, is their spine appearing to be out of alignment, any signs of swelling or inflammation in the muscles, are they in emotional distress from the pain, what is it keeping them from doing, is it affecting their sleep, are they clenching their jaw or sweating from pain, how are they describing it, what words are they using…

Why so much in the way of assessment? I’ve probably already seen 3 other clients that day with Back pain and I guess I could treat them each the same way BUT is that really going to be beneficial for each? It might be but likely not. I assess because I want to know how this is affecting their overall holistic wellness and I want to treat them in such a way that all levels of wellbeing are addressed.

I may find as I’m working with them that the pain began after an emotionally upsetting day. As they talk about this during their session the muscles will often open up and let my hands work out the pain and tension of the emotion. They may cry, laugh, get angry as the loosening muscles allow the emotion to be released…which is wonderful.

While they are likely of the mind that it was the massage that loosened the muscle, I’m more likely to believe that releasing the emotion was much more beneficial.

dsc_0061That was only one of the 3 clients that day with Back pain. What about the other two coming in with completely different circumstances but the same symptoms. Perhaps baby gaining weight is putting excess strain on the pregnant woman’s back muscles, or they slept in an awkward position, or the busy teacher is stressed out and clenching their muscles.
​That is why so much assessment happens.

plantaseedSo in getting back to the original dilemma around promotion, we wondered how to best get that message across as holistic therapists. I think what we decided was to go for the symptoms and use the language that potential clients understand, and then begin to plant seeds, educate and present the ideas that encompass holistic health and wellness.

That isn’t to say we would try to change people. Each person has their own beliefs around health and wellness and what is best for them in the way of therapies. Each individual knows their body far better than I, and their beliefs bring them the holistic wellness they feel comfortable with.

As a therapist, it is up to me to honour and understand, learn from each client and adapt my therapy session to best meet their needs, and at the same time share knowledge about how the body works and it’s amazing abilities to heal through holistic wellness.

 

When You Let Yourself Down…Then What?

The ever typical peace keeper, despite best efforts not to be, I find myself slipping into that role time and again. Boundaries were never something I learned. Growing up in an alcoholic home they just didn’t exist. I earned my gold medal in peacekeeping just to try to maintain some space between myself and the chaos that surrounded me. Unfortunately it’s a tough role to break…but I will continue to make it a work in progress.

With a lot of self work and reflection, boundaries have become something more familiar and I’ve identified a number of them that work for me. The difficult thing about having boundaries is knowing when to set them. For myself, it’s usually after I’ve allowed them to be pushed, a number of times, in my efforts to keep the peace and oh yes, did I mention I’m also working towards becoming a reformed people pleaser as well? 

Calgary Reiki Treatments with Teresa Graham, RMTI usually will get to the point of being in exhausted tears before I realize I haven’t held my boundaries and have overextended myself to please. The stress of people pleasing is finally outweighing everything. Once again, I’ve let myself down. Any of this sounding familiar? I suspect it does because I meet a number of others in this life who will tell me of similar circumstances. So what do I tell them and what do I tell myself? 

1. FORGIVE  YOURSELF

First and foremost cut yourself some slack. After I’ve kicked myself a couple of times and wiped the tears away I remember to tell myself that yes, I caught myself again, I messed up, but I did catch myself and perhaps next time I will catch myself sooner.  That does happen.

2. STOP IT!

As soon as you realize the boundaries have been breached put them back in place. Take a few moments to recognize where you’ve been lax in holding your own space and gift yourself by putting those boundaries up. Then take a breath.

I use to feel that I couldn’t, that it was too late, that people wouldn’t like it…yeah, the people pleaser raises it’s loud and ugly voice to say “What will others think of me?”. But the more important question is how will you feel about yourself if you don’t? I thought so…nail those things up if have to, but put them up.

3. Say NO

Say no and don’t justify it. You really don’t owe anyone a reason or justification for putting your boundaries up and beginning to say no. Yes, it means you have switched gears, people may not like it, but is it worth the stress to not do it? Certainly if people ask and you feel as though you want to explain, you can, however at times that can be exhausting. Right now you’re doing the work of holding the boundaries in place and rebuilding yourself, and that needs to come first.

4. Celebrate you

Be You

Celebrate your Amazingness!

Hey, you were successful, you figured it out, you caught up with your boundaries, set them, took a breath and now it’s time to celebrate that amazingness that is your achievement. Yes, there will likely be more occurrences of boundary violation and people pleasing mishaps, but not today.

​Your only human and that is something to celebrate. Give yourself the pat on the back, the toast with champagne or whatever way you celebrate you!

Healing Anxiety Holistically (Part 3) -The Therapies

In the third and final segment of Healing Anxiety Holistically I will share information about the Holistic Therapies I offer and how they specifically help clients to ease anxiety.

My main focus in offering holistic therapies is to not only address body, mind and spirit (the whole person), but to also encourage the body to kick in with its own natural and innate healing abilities. When feeling physically and emotionally overwhelmed that task can seem insurmountable.Teresa Graham, Holistic Health Practitioner

However with a focus on bringing body and mind to a relaxed state, holistic therapies encourage the body to shift into its optimal healing state. When we breath deeply, we heal. When we relax, we heal. When we take steps to stop the mind chatter and focus turns to our body, we heal.

Sessions I offer and how they address the symptoms of Anxiety.

Teresa Graham, Holistic Health PractitionerSPINAL TOUCH encourages the body to relax into its correct posture. When properly aligned (like our cars wheel alignment) the spine and body are able to better cope  with the day to day stresses placed upon them. We move more freely and without pain, our digestion improves, pressure is taken off of our lungs and respiration moves oxygen through our body with renewed vigour.

 

Teresa Graham, Holistic Health PractitionerWith REIKI clients will often feel such a deep sense of peace that they fall asleep or slip into a deep meditative state. In that perfectly relaxed state the body and mind can easily draw energy into those areas where it is most needed. As within, so without … drawing upon the healing energy around us (that which makes the plants grow) helps to bring balance within. This balance of energy results in a sense of harmony in our daily actions. Stress and tension move aside to be replaced with a deep sense of peace.

 

Teresa Graham, Holistic Health PractitionerTo begin your REFLEXOLOGY session you sit in a reclined and comfortable position. The brain recognizes the signs of relaxation and begins to encourage the body to wind down. As nerve endings are stimulated in feet and/or hands it triggers the release of tension throughout all parts, glands and organs of the body. Respiration and circulation throughout the body improves.

 

Teresa Graham, Holistic Health Practitioner

CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY is another deeply relaxing holistic practise. Unwinding the Fascia (a thin sheath of fibrous tissue that wraps around and encloses a muscle, organ, joint and the entire body) that wraps us up tighter than it should be, often occurring when we’re anxious, stressed or injured. Craniosacral also encourages the unimpeded flow of Cerebral Spinal Fluid (colourless liquid that bathes the brain and spinal cord). As the CSF flows it nourishes the brain and the nerves,  impacting the entire body.

 

Teresa Graham, Holistic Health PractitionerMASSAGE loosens tight restrictions in muscles and ligaments while helping to ease the pain caused. Often there is an area of the body that we hold our stress and tension; the neck and shoulders tighten, the jaw clenches, the legs are restless… Knots, kinks and spasms are eased with massage and the body begins to feel stretched, longer and very much more relaxed. As muscles open up and release tension there is often an equal release of emotional stress that has been trapped in the tightness.

 

Abbotsford Belly DanceDANCE is a total “in the body” experience. During classes I encourage students to breath deeply and dance their body. I’ll share some moves, but you’ll experience them as only your body can. Your age, fitness level or ability to dance don’t matter at all. What you’ll find is your mind becomes so focused on what your body is doing, that anxiety and upsetting thoughts drift away (even if just for a short time). At the same time the physical activity is encouraging your body to release the “feel good” chemicals and endorphins into the bloodstream.

 

In its relaxed state the body turns the tables on anxiety. A different group of chemicals and hormones are released … the ones that make us feel good. In that state both mind and body are empowered. The more often we can reach this state the more we begin to see long term benefits. Anxiety may still be present, but it is often to a lesser degree. and we are able to reclaim a calmer state with a little more ease.

Related Articles
Healing Anxiety Holistically (part one)
Healing Anxiety Holistically (part two) Anxiety and taking care of you in the moment.

What is Spinal Touch?

What is Reiki?

What is Massage?

What is Reflexology?

What is Craniosacral Therapy?

About Belly Dance

 

 

Reiki Classes in Abbotsford

The last classes for 2015 at Hand to Health, join Reiki Master Teresa Graham for Reiki Level 1 and Reiki Level 2 classes!

Fall Reiki

For more information click here

Healing Anxiety Holistically (part 1)

Over coffee with colleagues a few weeks ago in which we share holistic health ideas, our conversation turned to our clients and how many of them are feeling a lot of anxiety lately. Anxiety about finances, relationships, health issues, family, etc. But what seems most prevalent is a deep anxiety about feeling a lack of power in their lives to deal with the issues that are making them anxious, that they feel out of control.

Hand To Health AbbotsfordAnxiety can impact upon many aspects of our physical and emotional self; digestive problems, trouble sleeping or waking up tired, lack of energy and drive, mental confusion, body aches and pains, headaches, muscle tension, depression, sadness, anger …  When we ignore or don’t acknowledge that we’re anxious it takes its toll.


I’ve had a number of clients dismiss their anxieties as something they “just have to get over”, “others have worse things happening so my anxiety is stupid”, “there is nothing I can do about it so just have to live with the problems”. Yes, some pretty self defeating words whether spoken out loud or as self-talk.
During the month of October  the at Hand to Health, in Abbotsford, the discussion is going to be around Anxiety. The power gained in acknowledging its existence and some holistically healthy ways to ease or resolve anxiety.
I was absolutely thrilled when I saw Cindy Bernicot’s next EFT Tapping & Meditation topic for her October workshop at Hand To Health because through tapping we open up to firstly Hand To Health Abbotsfordacknowledge that the issue is there and how we honestly feel about it. Then we move on to taking back our own power to deal with the issue. Anxiety, like any other energy, needs to be moved in order to let it go, rather than resisting or denying its existence. I can’t think of a better stepping off point than with Cindy’s amazing guided workshops.

For more information about Cindy’s workshop and how to register click here

Join in on Wednesday, October 14 th to experience
Tap Away Anxiety – Using EFT Tapping & Meditation to Deal with Anxiety & Panic Attacks