The Center for Mind-Body Medicine

Ordinary people making extraordinary differences in Southeastern Louisiana

by Linda Sechrist

“After Katrina, I received mops and buckets from disaster relief. From the Mind-Body Center for Medicine, I got my life back.” Mindy Milam, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

 

Jim in the 9th wardIn the midst of the chaos experienced during post-Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Haiti’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake, the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, and the Gaza, Syrian and Kosovo wars, who among us could believe that it is possible for people traumatized and beleaguered by such dire circumstances to find comfort, calm and hope? It’s even more challenging to envision that it could be found in something as simple as a deep breathing exercise or a guided imagery meditation. However, Dr. James Gordon, founder and director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington DC, never doubts that such practical and scientifically grounded mind-body techniques can do just that.

 

The Mind-Body Medicine Center of Louisiana

Gordon, a world-renowned expert in the use of mind-body medicine to heal depression, anxiety and psychological trauma, along with his team of health and mental health professionals arrived in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina and Rita. With compassionate hearts, they taught Gordon’s model of proven skills for self-care and wellness to 80 health and mental health professionals in the Gulf Coast Region. This evidence-based, culturally sensitive model is still in use at the Mind-Body Center of Louisiana (MBCLA), located in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The non-profit educational organization formed in 2009 and is dedicated to addressing the health and mental health needs of Louisiana residents. MBCLA’s faculty of 10 experienced, licensed health care and mental health providers, case managers and nursing professionals are certified as mind-body medicine practitioners through CMBM.

 

“MBCLA is the only non-profit organization in this area systematically and consistently applying, teaching, studying, and integrating a mind-body approach that complements traditional biomedical and psychological models of care,” says Toni Bankston, MBCLA Director. Additionally, it is deeply committed and has a proven track record of making the services available and accessible to people who ordinarily have challenges with access due to economic disadvantage or living in remote areas of the state,” says Bankston, who has also served as a member of Gordon’s international team.

 

By 2005, Bankston was a veteran psychotherapist of 25 years, who had already been significantly involved in working with trauma and disadvantaged populations. However, nothing prepared her for the personal mind-body trauma she experienced or what she witnessed post-Katrina. When Gordon and his team arrived Bankston was more than ready to leap into the opportunity to learn the CMBM model that includes Gordon’s “soft belly” breathing meditation.

 

Self-empowering “Soft Belly”

“Anyone can close their eyes and breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth,” says Gordon, whose soothing voice makes it easy to follow his slowly delivered instructions to let the belly be soft and take oxygen into the lungs. In “soft belly,” breathing deepens and the muscles relax naturally without effort. Thoughts are allowed to come and go without intellectual pursuit. When the eyes are opened and the individual’s attention returns to the outer environment there are noticeable differences. Sometimes the shoulders are lowered, the heart is beating a little slower, and there is a lessening of tension in the body. “Soft belly shows people that they have the capacity to do something to help themselves—to create a state of relaxation that slows their breath, relieves their tension, changes their mind’s focus, slows their mental chatter and produces a more relaxed state within. Just one experience can produce a very self-empowering insight—they are capable and can learn things that help them reduce and control their stress levels,” advises Gordon, who notes that many of the simple techniques he teaches are in his Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression. “I use dozens of them. One is not better than the other.”

 

The Rippling Effect of Self-Empowering Education

To make clear the rippling effect that these techniques have, Gordon describes a recent experience in Gaza. “The worst badly behaved 5-year olds sat enthralled like angels, did soft belly, noticed the changes, and then went home to teach their parents. Kids love to experiment because they haven’t been told that they aren’t capable of doing it, programming that is too frequently part of an adult’s belief system,” he says.

 

Self-Care is at the Heart of Health Care

According to Bankston, CMBM team members were entrenched in New Orleans’ communities off and on for two years and offered approximately 10 weeks of training as well as ongoing supervision, whereas other organizations came for a weekend and left.  “It was obvious to me that CMBM’s work and actions were totally aligned with their motto—“Self care is the heart of health care”,” notes Bankston. While her impetus for attending the trainings, was the universal appeal to her clients, she quickly understood that practicing self-care came first. “You can’t teach people what you are not doing yourself and in this case, I had to live the practice from the inside out,” remarks Bankston, who along with several other individuals identified as leaders by CMBM received ongoing phone supervision. “While implementing what I learned within the community, I didn’t just have a how-to manual collecting dust on my shelf. I had an expert on the phone helping me troubleshoot while I was sitting in a FEMA village trying to apply what I learned and discern what came next. That’s priceless,” she enthuses.

 

CMBM’s Holistic Model

CMBM’s holistic model, developed over a period of 20 years, is unique for several reasons. It emphasizes small groups in which people can learn, share their stories without analysis or interpretation, and bond in close relationships. A primary focus of “we’re here to work on ourselves and not fix others” is supported by the introduction of many traditions and numerous techniques that work with cognition, the body, and the social environment, as well as spiritual dimensions that add meaning and purpose. The model is playful, fun, and provides ongoing supervision for leaders and teachers. “While there is tragedy, and at times people are sad and serious, when they are willing to be present without judgment and interpretation, it opens the door to the surprise of the joy and celebration beneath the sorrow,” says Gordon, who notes that another primary focus of the model is creating an ongoing community of support. “Toni is doing this in numerous Louisiana parishes because a sense of community is profoundly healing for whatever we suffer from—a chronic physical illness, a psychological trauma, or the sense of loneliness and isolation that is endemic in our society. By our very nature, we are communal animals created to be in relationship,” emphasizes Gordon

 

CMBM Training is Open to Everyone

While CMBM’s model is documented with scientific evidence, taught and practiced largely by health care professionals, training sessions, such as the upcoming October 5- 9 training in Redwood City, California, are open to anyone interested in sharing it within their community. “Community organizers, administrators, and church members are often at training sessions,” says Gordon, who expresses concern for the lost arts of medicine, intuition and human connection. “We are so impressed by technology that we have lost the art of trusting a sense of connection to something powerful within ourselves. The perennial journey to this invisible part of us, that allows us to call out the most appropriate response, is one we read about in spiritual traditions. It’s a sense of connection to our own wisdom and something greater than ourselves. Relearning this is critical to our survival,” he advises.

 

Positive Outcomes

Bankston is in agreement with Gordon because she knows how her life has been impacted. “Practicing what I learned helped me overcome burnout, gave me staying power and helped me fall in love with my work again. I felt empowered and fearless as opposed to helpless in the face of so much trauma and massive destruction,” says the self-admitted traditional “Louisiana Girl”, who became emboldened enough to take her knowledge and experience of what was working in her own backyard to Haiti and Gaza. “The beauty of seeing people in remote places with scarce resources find joy and ways to make life worth living was not only inspirational and put everything else in perspective, it also taught me how to work in my own Louisiana community.  Fortunately, I think my four children have vicariously learned these lessons through me and are now feeling more self-empowered. The other exciting rippling effect is that our mind-body medicine model is now used local universities, primary care clinics and schools in Southeastern Louisiana.

 

Dr. James Gordon is the keynote speaker for the NOLA Healthy Living & Sustainability Expo on October 12 at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner. For info on the expo call 504-330-2157 or email expo@nolahealthyliving.com. For more information on The Mind Body Center of Louisiana, call 225-678-9950 or visit MindBodyLA.org.

Grow, Pick, Grill

Making the Most of Summer’s Bounty

Kale, Potato and Chorizo Pizza. photo by Steve Legato

grillIn outdoor spaces from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to Arch Cape, Oregon, produce is growing and grill embers are glowing. Growing a garden and grilling its bounty have never been more popular.

For the first time since 1944, when 20 million “Victory” gardeners produced 44 percent of the fresh vegetables in the United States, food gardening is outdistancing flower gardening. In its latest survey of garden retailers, the National Gardening Association found that consumers’ spending for growing their own food hit $2.7 billion, versus $2.1 billion for flowers.

Barbecuing grill chefs are expanding their repertoire beyond grass-fed burgers and steaks. More vegetables and fruit are being grilled now than in the past, according to the latest annual survey by leading grill manufacturer Weber.

This all makes sense to Karen Adler and Judith Fertig, co-authors of The Gardener & the Grill. They’ve observed that when the bounty of the garden meets the sizzle of the grill, delicious things happen. “Natural sugars in vegetables and fruits caramelize,” says Adler. “Essential oils in fresh herbs become more aromatic. The colors of fruits and vegetables stay more vivid when grilled, rather than when cooked any other way.”

“Grilling gives even familiar foods an exciting new makeover,” notes Fertig. For example, by cutting a head of cabbage into quarters, brushing each cut side with olive oil and then grilling and chopping, the backyard chef infuses a grill flavor into a favorite coleslaw. Flatbreads, patted out from prepared whole-grain or gluten-free pizza dough, can be brushed with olive oil, grilled on both sides and then topped with flavorful garden goodies. Simple fruits like peaches and plums—simply sliced in half, pitted and grilled—yield fresh taste sensations, especially cradling a scoop of frozen yogurt.

A quick foray to the garden or farmers’ market can provide just the right colorful, flavorful edge to any summer barbecue.
Claire O’Neil is a freelance writer in Kansas City, MO.

Fresh on the Grill

Kale, Potato and Chorizo Pizza

Hearty but not heavy, this pizza takes kale (or alternatively, Swiss chard or collard greens) and onions from the garden, and then adds vegetarian chorizo to accent.

Yields 4 servings

1 pound fresh whole grain or gluten-free pizza dough
¼ cup whole grain or gluten-free flour for sprinkling
4 new potatoes, cooked and thinly sliced
8 kale leaves
Olive oil, for brushing and drizzling Grapeseed oil for brushing the grill rack 8 oz cooked and crumbled vegetarian
chorizo (Portuguese or other spicy sausage optional)
½ cup chopped green onion (white and light green parts)
Coarse freshly ground black pepper

Garden to Grill ToolsPrepare a hot fire on one side of the grill for indirect cooking. Oil a perforated grill rack with grapeseed oil and place over direct heat.

Divide the dough into four equal parts. Sprinkle with whole grain or glutenfree flour and press or roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Sprinkle flour of choice on two large baking sheets and place two rounds of dough on each sheet. Brush the potatoes with olive oil, place on the perforated grill rack and grill for 15 minutes, turning often, or until tender before topping the pizza.

Brush the kale with olive oil. Grill leaves for 1 minute on each side or until slightly charred and softened. Quickly trim off the bottom of the stalk and strip the leaves from the stems. Finely chop the leaves and set aside.

Brush one side of each pizza with olive oil and place, oiled side down, on the direct heat side of the grill grate. Grill for 1 to 2 minutes or until the dough starts to bubble. Brush the top side with olive oil and flip each pizza round, using tongs, onto a baking sheet.

Quickly brush pizza rounds with additional olive oil, and then spoon on one-fourth of the sliced potato and grilled kale.

Sprinkle toppings of sausage and green onion. Drizzle a bit more overall olive oil and season with pepper.

Using a grill spatula, place each pizza on the indirect side of the fire. Cover and grill for 4 to 5 minutes or until the kale has slightly wilted and the topping is hot. Serve hot.

Baja Fish Tacos

Fresh fish tacos with a twist are a healthy treat. Tip: Assemble the raw slaw ingredients before grilling the cabbage, which cooks simultaneously with the fish.

Yields 4 servings

Grilled Napa Cabbage Slaw Taco Topping
1 large head Napa cabbage, cut in half lengthwise
Grapeseed oil, for brushing
1 cup assorted baby greens, such as spinach, oak leaf lettuce or Boston lettuce
8 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
¼ cup tarragon vinegar
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp fine kosher or sea salt

Baja Fish
1½ lbs mahi mahi, catfish, halibut or other mild, non-farmed, white fish (about ¾-inch thick)
¼ cup blackened seasoning or other barbecue spice mixture
8 whole-wheat flour tortillas, for serving 8 lemon wedges, for serving
1½ cups of a favorite salsa, for serving

 

Baja-Fish-Tacos

Prepare a hot fire in the grill.

Brush the cut sides of the Napa cabbage halves with oil. Coat the fish fillets with the blackened seasoning or other selected spice mix.

Grill the cabbage, cut-side down, directly over the fire for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cabbage shows good grill marks, then remove from heat.

Grill the “flesh”, or cut side, of fish fillets first (not the skin side, which is darker because it is more delicate) directly over the fire for 3 to 4 minutes.

Turn the fish only once, and finish cooking with the skin side against the grate another 3 to 4 minutes, for 10 total minutes per inch of thickness (most fish fillets are about ¾-inch thick). Note: The skin side is last because it has more connective tissue and holds together better on the grill.

Finish assembling the slaw. Thinly slice the grilled cabbage and place in a large bowl. Stir in the greens and green onions. Having earlier combined and mixed the vinegar, sour cream, lemon juice and salt for the slaw dressing in a small bowl, now pour it over the greens mixture. Toss to blend.

Assemble the tacos by placing some of the grilled fish on each tortilla. Top each with about one-third cup of the slaw and roll up, soft taco-style. Serve with a lemon wedge and a small ramekin of salsa.

Grilled Peaches with Lemon Balm Gremolata

Grilled-Peaches

photo by Steve Legato

This recipe is simple, yet full of flavor. A traditional gremolata condiment includes parsley, lemon zest and garlic, but this sweeter version finds deliciousness in fruit. Using a microplane grater culls the flavorful yellow part of the lemon rind without the bitter white pith. Chopping the herbs with the lemon zest make the flavors blend together better.

Yields 4 servings

¼ cup packed lemon balm leaves or 1 Tbsp packed mint leaves
½ tsp lemon zest
Pinch kosher or sea salt
4 peaches, halved and pitted

Prepare a medium-hot fire in the grill.

Chop the lemon balm or mint and lemon zest together until very fine. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the leaves and chop again. Set aside in a small bowl.

Place the peach halves cut-side down on the grill. Grill 4 to 6 minutes, turning once, until they are tender and slightly blistered.

To serve, place two peach halves in each guest’s bowl and sprinkle the lemon balm gremolata over all of them.
Source: Recipes adapted from The Gardener & the Grill.

Pet Food Perils

Lurking GMOs May Hurt Our Pets

Like a canary in a coal mine, dogs serve as sentinels, drawing our attention to health hazards in our shared home environment and in the products and byproducts of the food industry.

Multiple Health Issues

In the mid-1990s, as genetically engineered or modified (GE, GM or GMO), corn and soy were becoming increasingly prominent ingredients in both pet food products and feed for farm animals, the number of dogs reported suffering from a specific cluster of health problems increased. It also became evident from discussion among veterinarians and dog owners that such health problems occurred more often among dogs eating pet food that included GM crops than those consuming food produced from conventional crops.

The conditions most cited included allergies, asthma, atopic (severe) dermatitis and other skin problems, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, recurrent diarrhea, vomiting and indigestion, plus abnormalities in liver, pancreas and immune system functions. People often reported failed treatments and harmful side effects to prescribed remedies (e.g. steroids), as well as problems with various manufactured prescription diets after their attending veterinarians diagnosed their animals with these conditions.

According to a 2011 study in the journal Cell Research, in engineering crops like corn and soybean, novel proteins are created that can assault the immune system and cause allergies and illnesses, especially in the offspring of mothers fed GMO foods. Diminished nutrient content is a concurrent issue.

“The results of most of the few independent studies conducted with GM foods indicate that they may cause hepatic, pancreatic, renal and reproductive effects and may alter hematological, biochemical and immunologic parameters,”concluded Artemis Dona and Ioannis S. Arvanitoyannis, of the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at the University of Athens Medical School, in their 2009 study on the effect of GM foods on animals.

“Look first for the USDA Certified Organic label. Next, look for other words and terms on the package indicating it comprises natural, humane, free-range, grass-fed and GM- or GE-free ingredients. Watch out for chemical preservatives, artificial coloring, byproducts, GMOs, irradiation/radioisotope treatment, hormones and antibiotics. In short, seek out whole organic foods appropriate to the species.”
~ Dr. Michael Fox

Such problems are caused partly by the inherent genetic instability of GM plants, which can result in spontaneous and unpredictable mutations (Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews). DNA in GM foods is altered by the genetic engineering process; it can be incorporated by gut bacteria and may alter their behavior and ecology in the digestive tract. Likewise, when digestive bacteria incorporate material from antibioticresistant genes, engineered into patented GM foods crops to identify them, it could have serious health implications, according to Jeffrey M. Smith in his book, Genetic Roulette, and Terje Traavik and Jack Heinemann, co-authors of Genetic Engineering and Omitted Health Research.GMO-Free Pet Food

What Pet Owners Can Do

Look for pet foods that are free of GM corn and soy, and/or organically certified. Pet food manufacturers that use U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified organic ingredients—and especially those that don’t use corn, soy, canola, cotton byproducts (oil and cake) or sugar beet, which are more commonly genetically engineered, or imported rice, which can have GM strains—can legitimately claim “No GMO Ingredients” on their packaging.

Information, plus tips on avoiding hidden GMO ingredients are available at NonGMOShoppingGuide.com. Many websites also provide recipes for home-prepared diets for companion animals, including DogCatHomePreparedDiet.com.

Let responsible pet food manufacturers know of consumers’ concerns and heed Hippocrates’ advice to let our food be our medicine and our medicine be our food. Enlightened citizen action is an integral part of the necessary revolution in natural agriculture aimed at promoting more ecologically sound, sustainable and humane farming practices, a healthier environment and more healthful, wholesome and affordable food for us and our canine companions.
Michael Fox, author of Healing Animals & the Vision of One Health, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior. Find GMOfree pet food brands and learn more at DrFoxVet.com.

Fair Trade Chocolate

The Sweetest Treat

S. Alison Chabonais

Valentine’s Day almost qualifies as a national holiday. Love’s in the air and more than $1 billion in candy is flying off U.S. shelves, most of it women’s number one favorite–chocolate. But how much do we know about this sweet we treat ourselves to on a near-daily basis?

For instance, few may know that cocoa contains nearly twice the disease-fighting antioxidant value of red wine, and three times that of green tea. Chocolate improves blood flow and calms stress. No wonder it makes us feel good!

Yet there’s a dark side to this seductively rich indulgence. And we’re not talking calories, or the flavor of the bar.

Chocolate Farms

Sixty countries supply cocoa beans for the $60 billion annual retail chocolate business. But six, Africa’s Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil and Cameroon, account for more than 80 percent of production. And the Ivory Coast, where 43 percent of beans originate, relies on the servitude of more than 200,000 children, all of whom should be in school instead of pressed to labor under dangerous conditions. Making matters worse, impoverished farmers and environmental degradation are common occurrences.

Test of a Good Chocolate Bar
■ Eat chocolate at room temperature. Don’t refrigerate.
■ Snap in half and watch for a clean break.
■ Inhale the aroma along the break. Fine chocolate smells like cocoa.
■ Taste a small piece at a time. Placed on the tongue, pressed against the roof of the mouth, it should begin to dissolve.
■ Chew and swallow. Enjoy the smooth feel. Good chocolate leaves no wax behind.
■ Appreciate the slightly fruity aftertaste.
■ Repeat to heart’s content.

As with other industries, politics and economics stack against the small farmers responsible for 90 percent of the world’s cocoa crop. Many times illiterate, without a truck, scale or phone of their own, they must depend on middlemen to determine price, weight, and how their crop gets to market. With traders and manufacturers typically claiming 92 to 94 percent of profits, Transfair USA estimates that most farmers earn just 1 cent for every candy bar we buy for 60 cents. Their annual income of $30 to $110 is insufficient to support a family. Pushing to maximize production, they struggle to survive by clearing forest and liberally using pesticides at great personal and planetary cost.

Thank goodness we’ve a solution at hand for this far-from-sweet situation. We can simply buy only chocolate that carries both “Fair Trade” and “Certified Organic” logos.

How Fair Trade Works

Since 2000, fair trade groups like TransFair USA have been working directly with cocoa farmers and local chocolate cooperatives, educating communities on sustainable agricultural practices, prohibiting child labor and paying growers a fair-market guaranteed price. They track each unit of product from local producers through importers, manufacturers and distributors.

For example, the Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative in Ghana owns 33 percent of the Day Chocolate company, which produces Fair Trade Certified Divine Chocolate. These 35,000 farmers now earn at least 80 cents per pound of beans plus a share of retail sales profits. “Where other farmers get about $160 per metric ton of beans, fair-trade farmers selling through cooperatives typically are paid $225 to $300 per ton,” reports J. Ganes Consulting. The Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative has plowed profits back into the local community, supplying potable water, sanitation facilities and a new school.

Favorite Gourmet Chocolate Brands
Art Bars
IthacaFineChocolates.com
Dagoba Organic Chocolates
DagobaChocolate.com
Divine Bars
DivineChocolate.com
Ecco Bella
EccoBella.com
Equal Exchange
EqualExchange.com
Green & Black’s
GreenAndBlacks.com
Omanhene Cocoa Bean Co.
Omanhene.com
Rapunzel
Rapunzel.com
Shaman Chocolates
ShamanChocolates.comFor more, see FairTradeFederation.com

One source estimates that 50 people buying one bar of Fair Trade chocolate a week will help maintain an acre of lush native forest or jungle habitat. Such socially conscious consumers, though representing only one percent of sales, are applying their purchasing power to wake up giants like Nestle, Hershey Foods, Mars, Ghirardelli and Godiva, who are now aware of the need to curb industry abuses. “The bigger companies, such as Starbucks and Proctor & Gamble, feel obligated to make at least a token effort, which we regard as a huge success,” says Rodney North of Equal Exchange, the first firm to sponsor Fair Trade chocolate.

Best fair trade chocolate

A Fair Trade 70+ percent cocoa product costs about the same as designer chocolates, at $3 to $3.75 a bar. But oh, the rewards. A healthful one-inch square satisfies so completely that a single bar can last a week. That’s because its primary ingredient is cocoa, not refined sugar. Imagine the sales a high school band or charity candy drive could muster by sponsoring such a product.
Sources: www.CoopAmerica.org, www.Grist.org, www.USAToday.com, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, www.VegetarianTimes.com.

This article appears in the February 2007 issue of Natural Awakenings

Celebrate The 7 Days of Valentine’s

Fun Ways to Enjoy the Holiday

Start a week before Valentine’s Day:

Day 1 – Light a candle at dinner

Day 2 – Gift a pair of tickets to a movie, show or game

Day 3 – Write three short love poems to say how you feel

Day 4 – Fly four balloons, proclaiming “I love you”

Day 5 – Give five favorite flowers or recorded songs

Day 6 – Sweeten Valentine’s with six chocolate hearts

Day 7 – Enjoy a celebration you both will remember

CrossFit Workouts

Expect Whole-Body Functional Fitness

Michael R. Esco

CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program used by the military over the past decade, is growing in popularity with recreational athletes.

While most traditional exercise plans target a specific area of fitness—like jogging for cardiovascular health or weightlifting for strength—CrossFit focuses on all of them by combining many types of exercise. A typical mixture might include weightlifting, gymnastics, aerobics and explosive plyometrics, energetic and fast-acting movements that improve strength and speed. The goal is to enable the body to respond to many different and sometimes competing stimuli. “CrossFit training prepares the body not only for the unknown, but for the unknowable, as well,” explains Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit.

Due to its nonspecific nature, this approach may not be best for an athlete focusing exclusively on one sport. “While it may not help you become an elite marathoner, this can be an effective training regimen for those interested in broad-based, functional fitness,” advises Bob LeFavi, Ph.D., a certified strength and conditioning specialist, senior coach for USA Weightlifting and professor of sports medicine at Armstrong Atlantic State University, in Savannah, Georgia.

The program requires disciplined workouts three to five days a week in an intense circuit format with little rest. This allows the practitioner to finish in five to 30 minutes, depending upon his or her current fitness level and the day’s plan.

Nuts and Bolts

A free Workout of the Day (WOD) is posted daily on CrossFit. com. WODs generally involve exercises using combinations of Olympic weights, dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, gymnastic rings, climbing ropes, jump ropes and rowing machines. Bodyweight-only exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups are commonly included.

Most WODs are named for women or fallen military heroes. Here are a few examples.

Cindy – as many rounds as possible of five pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 bodyweight squats within 20 minutes

Angie – 100 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups and 100 bodyweight-only squats with in-between breaks

Murph – a one-mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 bodyweight squats and another one-mile run; advanced athletes do it all wearing a 20-pound vest

The objective is to beat one’s own overall best time with each workout.

“CrossFit training is unique in that it rarely schedules rest periods, unless specified as part of the WOD,” says Brian Kliszczewicz, a CrossFit researcher and Ph.D. student of exercise physiology at Auburn University, in Alabama. “Your fitness level will determine the length, intensity and duration of each WOD.” Kliszczewicz’ recent research found that CrossFit subjects expended more than 250 calories on average during 20 minutes of the Cindy workout.

Any WOD can be done at home with the proper equipment, a base level of physical fitness and knowing how to properly execute each exercise. Consulting with a coach can help; be sure to ask for credentials and references, including education and experience in sports science and conditioning.

Glassman also suggests visiting one of 5,000 CrossFit affiliates worldwide; warehouse-like facilities that are unlike traditional fitness centers in that they don’t have lots of machines. Instead, the only equipment available is what’s necessary for conducting WODs. Workouts are completed in groups, with participants usually performing the same exercises, directed by a CrossFit coach trained to observe individual technique.

Because athletes like to compete with themselves and others, they can post their personal bests for each WOD on the CrossFit website.

Injury Risk

Professor Henry N. Williford, EdD, a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and department head of Physical Education and Exercise Science at Auburn University at Montgomery, cautions, “Make sure the staff at a CrossFit affiliate is appropriately trained to deal with emergencies; at a minimum, they should be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid.” Let the coach know of any discomfort or pain during a workout.

As an intense workout progresses, many CrossFit exercises can be performed as one is becoming increasingly tired, increasing the risk of injury to a joint or muscle. Beginners, seniors and anyone out of shape or with a previous injury or health condition needs to take additional precautions; basic guidelines for physical activity are published by the American College of Sports Medicine at Tinyurl.com/BasicExerciseGuidelines.

It’s important to start slow and gradually increase the intensity of workouts. “Personal safety is always a major factor that must to be considered when selecting any exercise regimen,” remarks Williford.

Requirements for starting to practice CrossFit exercises include a base level of sufficient physical strength to handle the demands, which may be achieved by first following a less intense plan. Always check with a physician before starting any exercise program.
Michael R. Esco, Ph.D., is an associate professor of exercise science versed in sports medicine and director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Auburn University at Montgomery, AL.

This article appears in the February 2013 issue of Natural Awakenings

The Gift of Empathy How to Be a Healing Presence

How to Be a Healing Presence

Margret Aldrich

When someone is suffering, it can be agonizing just to listen—we feel compelled to jump in with advice or stories of our own trials, filling any awkward space or moments of silent air with word upon word. The first rule of empathy, however, is listening in silence.

Miki Kashtan, writing for the Tikkun Daily interfaith blog, points out that giving our full presence is the most important step in practicing true empathy, and it doesn’t require us to utter a thing: “There is a high correlation between one person’s listening presence and the other person’s sense of not being alone, and this is communicated without words. We can be present with someone whose language we don’t understand, who speaks about circumstances we have never experienced or whose reactions are baffling to us. It’s a soul orientation and intentionality to simply be with another.”

When we achieve full presence, empathic understanding follows, Kashtan continues. “Full empathic presence includes the breaking open of our heart to take in another’s humanity. We listen to their words and their story, and allow ourselves to be affected by the experience of what it would be like.

“Then we understand. Empathic understanding is different from empathic presence. We can have presence across any barrier, and it’s still a gift. If we also understand, even without saying anything, I believe the other person’s sense of being heard increases, and they are even less alone with the weight of their experience.”

There are signs that empathy might be on the decline, with narcissism elbowing it out of our modern lives. As reported in the Utne Reader, University of Michigan Psychologist Sara Konrath, Ph.D., found that empathy levels among college students measured on the Interpersonal Reactivity Index plummeted between 1979 and 2009. The greatest drops were in empathic concern and perspective-taking—the ability to imagine another person’s point of view.

But don’t yet lament the death of human compassion. According to scientific studies, empathy is built into us. In recent research at the University of Southern California, Professor Lisa Aziz-Zadeh, Ph.D., pinpointed where and how the brain generates empathy, regarding it as a naturally occurring emotion. “It appears that both the intuitive and rationalizing parts of the brain work in tandem to create the sensation of empathy,” Aziz-Zadeh told The Times of India. “People do it automatically.”

However we get to that utterly tuned-in, selfless state of empathy, providing a listening ear, giving our full presence and being moved by another can be gifts not only to the others, but to ourselves, as well. Concludes Kashtan, “Allowing into our heart the other person’s suffering doesn’t mean we suffer with them, because that means shifting the focus of our attention to our own experience. Rather, it means that we recognize the experience as fully human, and behold the beauty of it in all its aspects, even when difficult.”
Margret Aldrich is a former associate editor of Utne Reader.

This article appears in the February 2013 issue of Natural Awakenings

Natural Awakenings’ Bodywork Guide

In 2010, the nonprofit Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles, published the results of research done by its department of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences that confirmed centuries of anecdotal evidence: People that undergo massage experience measureable changes in the responses of their immune and endocrine systems.

For millennia, therapeutic touch has been used to heal the body and reduce tension. Today, more than 100 types of bodywork techniques are available, with modalities ranging from massage and deep tissue manipulation to movement awareness and bio-energetic therapies. All are designed to improve the body’s structure and functioning. Bodywork may be used to help reduce pain, relieve stress, improve blood and lymphatic circulation and promote deep relaxation; some therapies simultaneously focus on emotional release.

The following list includes many of the better-known bodywork systems. Finding an approach that improves one’s mental and physical health is a highly individual process; with professional guidance, several modalities may be combined for the greatest personal benefit.

Acupressure: Based on the same system as acupuncture, acupressure stimulates body pressure points using fingers and hands instead of needles, in order to restore a balanced flow of life energy (qi or chi, pronounced “chee”). This force moves through the body along 12 energy pathways, or meridians, which practitioners “unblock and strengthen.” Common styles include jin shin, which gently holds at least two points at once for a minute or more; and shiatsu, which applies firm pressure to each point for three to five seconds. (Also see Shiatsu.) Tui na and Thai massage stimulate qi through acupressure hand movements, full-body stretches and Chinese massage techniques. (Also see Tui na.) Other forms of acupressure include jin shin do, jin shin jyutsu and acu-yoga. Learn more at Acupressure.com.

Alchemical Bodywork: Synthesizes bodywork techniques and hypnosis to address emotional sources of chronic tension and pain held in the body and facilitate their release. Practitioners are typically certified in massage, often in conjunction with hypnotherapy certification. Learn more at AlchemyInstitute.com.

Alexander Technique: This awareness practice helps identify and change unconscious, negative physical habits related to posture and movement, breathing and tension. While observing the way an individual walks, stands, sits or performs other basic movements, the practitioner keeps their hands in easy contact with the body and gently guides it to encourage a release of restrictive muscular tension. The technique is frequently used to treat repetitive strain injuries or carpal tunnel syndrome, backaches, plus stiff necks and shoulders. Learn more at AlexanderTechnique.com.

Amma Therapy: A specialized form of bodywork therapy, amma (which means “pushpull” in Chinese) combines energetic, rhythmic massage techniques on specific acupressure points to facilitate blood circulation, lymphatic drainage and muscular relaxation. Suitable for individuals in varying degrees of physical condition, amma addresses challenges related to stress and anxiety; neck, shoulder and low back pain; and digestive health.

Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy: Developed by American Ruthie Hardee, it combines elements of traditional Thai massage, barefoot shiatsu and Keralite foot massage (chavutti thirummal) for the treatment of chronic low-back and hip pain. Using overhead wooden bar supports, the therapist employs body weight and gliding foot strokes to apply compression massage along strategic points in the back muscles to relieve irritations on the spinal nerve caused by inflammation and swelling. Learn more at DeepFeet.com.

Aston Kinetics (or Aston Patterning): Created by bodywork visionary Judith Aston in 1977, this integrated system of movement education recognizes the influence of the body-mind relationship on well-being. It incorporates bodywork, massage, ergonomic adjustments and fitness training in order to ease acute or chronic pain. Learn more at AstonKinetics.com.

Ayurvedic Massage: It’s one part of panchakarma, a traditional East Indian detoxification and rejuvenation program, in which the entire body is vigorously massaged with large amounts of warm oil and herbs to remove toxins. With the client’s permission, oil is also poured into the ears, between the eyebrows and applied to specific chakras, or body energy centers, in techniques known respectively as karna purana, shirodhara and marma chikitsa. These treatments, modified to meet the needs of the West, powerfully affect the mind and nervous system—calming, balancing and bringing a heightened sense of awareness and deep inner peace.

Ayurvedic massage techniques are grounded in an understanding of the primordial energies of the five elements—ether, air, fire, water and earth—and of the three basic types of energies, or constitutions, that are present in everyone and everything—vata, pitta and kapha. A knowledgeable therapist selects and customizes various ayurvedic massage techniques by selecting the rate and pressure of massage strokes and the proper oils and herbs. Learn more at AyurvedicMassage.com.

Bioenergetics plus Core Energetics: A combination of physical and psychological techniques that identifies and frees areas of repressed physical and emotional trauma in the body. Deep breathing, various forms of massage and physical exercises release layers of chronic muscular tension and defensiveness, termed “body armor”. The unlocking of feelings creates the opportunity to better understand and integrate them with other aspects of oneself. Core Energetics is based on the principles of bioenergetics, but acknowledges spirituality as a key dimension of healing. Learn more at usabp.org.Man with backache

BodyTalk: Developed by chiropractor and acupuncturist Dr. John Veltheim, BodyTalk is based upon bioenergetic psychology, dynamic systems theory, Chinese medicine and applied kinesiology. By integrating tapping, breathing and focusing techniques, BodyTalk helps the body synchronize and balance its systems and strengthens its capability of selfrepair. BodyTalk is used to address a range of health challenges, ranging from chronic fatigue and allergies to addictions and cellular damage. Practitioners are usually licensed massage therapists (LMT) or bodyworkers. Learn more at BodyTalkSystem.com.

Bowen Technique (also called Bowtech and Bowenwork): This muscle and connective tissue therapy employs gentle, purposeful moves, through light clothing, to help rebalance the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The practitioner’s subtle inputs deliver signals to the ANS at specific locations—muscles, tendons, ligaments or nerves—and the body responds in its own time, within its vital capacity. The technique is named after its originator, Australian Tom Bowen, who also introduced the concept of inserting periods of rest between a series of movements within a treatment session. Sometimes called the homeopathy of bodywork, Bowtech addresses imbalances and both acute and chronic pain. Learn more at Bowtech.com.

Breema Bodywork: Often described as a cross between partner yoga and Thai massage, Breema is a movement technique designed to restore vitality at an energetic level. It employs standardized sets of movements, based upon more than 300 sequences, none of which require strong exertions or muscular contortions. Breema techniques, which identify and emphasize nine principles of harmony, can be administered by a practitioner or by the individual as Self-Breema. The therapy originated in the Kurdish village of Breemava, in Western Asia. Learn more at Breema.com.

Chi Nei Tsang (CNT): Principles of kung fu and Tai chi chuan, known as chi-kung (or qigong), support this holistic approach to massage therapy. CNT literally means, “energy transformation of the internal organs,” and practitioners focus mainly on the abdomen, with deep, soft and gentle touches, to train the organs to work more efficiently. It addresses the acupuncture meridian system (chi) and all other bodily systems—digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, endocrine, urinary, reproductive and musculoskeletal—along with unprocessed emotional charges. Learn more at ChiNeiTsang.com.

Craniosacral Therapy (CST): The practitioner applies manual therapeutic procedures to remedy distortions in the structure and function of the craniosacral mechanism—the brain and spinal cord, the bones of the skull, the sacrum and interconnected membranes. Craniosacral work is based upon two major premises: the bones of the skull can be manipulated because they never completely fuse; and the pulse of the cerebrospinal fluid can be balanced by a practitioner trained to detect pulse variations. CST, also referred to as cranial osteopathy, is used to treat learning difficulties, dyslexia, hyperactivity, migraine headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, chronic pain and ear, eye and balance problems.

Deep Tissue Bodywork: In this method, stretching and moving the connective tissue that envelops the muscles (fascia) works to lengthen and balance the body along its natural, vertical axis. Distortions of the connective tissue may be caused by internal reactions and complications due to accidents, emotional tensions or past unreleased traumas. The practitioner uses slow strokes, direct pressure or friction across the muscles via fingers, thumbs or elbows. Deep tissue massage works to detoxify tissue by helping to remove accumulated lactic acid and other waste products from the muscles. The therapy is used to ease or eliminate chronic muscular pain or inflammatory pain from arthritis, tendonitis and other ailments, and help with injury rehabilitation. Learn more at DeepBodywork.com.

Feldenkrais Method: This distinctive approach combines movement training, gentle touch and verbal dialogue to help students straighten out what founder Moshé Pinhas Feldenkrais calls, “kinks in the brain.” Kinks are learned movement patterns that no longer serve a constructive purpose. They may have been adopted to compensate for a physical injury or to accommodate individuality in the social world. Students of the Feldenkrais Method unlearn unworkable movements and discover better, personalized ways to move, using mind-body principles of slowed action, conscious breathing, body awareness and thinking about their feelings.

Feldenkrais takes two forms: In individual hands-on sessions (Functional Integration), the practitioner’s touch is used to address the student’s breathing and body alignment. In a series of classes of slow, non-aerobic motion (Awareness Through Movement), students “relearn” better ways for their bodies to move. Feldenkrais therapy is useful in the treatment of muscle injuries, back pain, arthritis, stress and tension. Learn more at Feldenkrais.com.

Hakomi: A Hopi Indian word that translates as, “Who are you?” Hakomi is a bodycentered psychotherapy that relies upon touch, massage, movement and structural and energy work to help enable individuals change their “core” material—memories, images, beliefs, neural patterns and deeply held emotional dispositions. Originally created by Ron Kurtz in the mid-1970s and later refined, the technique views the body as an interactive source of information about the unconscious mind. Learn more at HakomiInstitute.com.

Hellerwork: Expanding upon the principals of Rolfing, Hellerwork combines deep tissue bodywork with movement education and the dialogue of the mind-body connection. Joseph Heller, the first president of the Rolf Institute, believed that specific movement exercises could help individuals move more efficiently, maintain alignment and mobility and enjoy fuller and easier breathing, as well as increased energy. Although primarily a preventive therapy, Hellerwork also helps alleviate stress-related disorders and musculoskeletal aches and pains. Learn more at Hellerwork.com.

HEMME Approach: Derived from elements of physical medicine, chiropractic, osteopathy and physical therapy, HEMME (history, evaluation, modalities, manipulation and exercise) was developed in 1986 by Licensed Massage Therapist Dave Leflet to treat soft tissue injuries and impairments. Pain relief results from restoring alignment and improving myofascial dysfunction. Learn more at HemmeApproach.com.

Hoshino Therapy: Professor Tomezo Hoshino’s technique integrates the principles of acupuncture with the art of hand therapy. Accredited as a doctor of acupuncture, he found that in cases of arthrosis (osteoarthritis) and other painful ailments associated with soft tissue aging, acupuncture afforded only temporary relief. Hoshino Therapy is often used to ease soft tissue disorders such as bursitis, tendonitis, muscular tension and back pain.

Hot Stone Therapy: (See LaStone Therapy Stone Massage)

Integrative Therapeutic Massage: (See Neuromuscular Therapy)

Jin Shin Jyutsu: A form of acupressure refined from ancient Japanese traditions, jin shin jyutsu acts to harmonize the life force within. Practitioners evaluate pulses, body Hot Stone Massageconformation and symptoms to customize sessions designed to alleviate discomfort while addressing its cause(s).

Utilizing the hands as jumper cables to reawaken bodily energy, sequences of vital energy-points are held to guide, redirect and reestablish harmony in spirit, mind and body. Learn more at jsjinc.net.

LaStone Therapy Stone Massage: This soothing form of massage employs smooth heated or cooled stones to elicit physical healing, mental relaxation and a spiritual connection with Earth’s energy. Stones are placed at different spots on the body for energy balancing or may be used by the therapist on specific trigger points. Warm stones encourage the exchange of blood and lymph and provide relaxing heat for deep-tissue work. Cold stones aid with inflammation, moving blood out of the affected area and balancing male/female energies. The alternating heat and cold of thermotherapy helps activate all of the body’s healing processes with a rapid exchange of blood and oxygen and an alternating rise and fall of respiration rate as the body seeks homeostasis. Learn more at LaStoneTherapy.com.

LooyenWork: This painless, deep-tissue approach works with the connective tissue and fascial components by combining the techniques of Rolfing, postural integration and Aston patterning to free tension, remove adhesions and improve freedom of movement. It was introduced in 1985 by Dutch-born bodyworker and counselor Ted Looyen after he received treatment for a serious back injury and decided to develop a massage therapy that would promote recovery from injuries without aggravating the initial trauma. LooyenWork can also address the release and processing of intense emotions.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage: This gentle, non-invasive, rhythmical, whole-body massage aims to stimulate the lymphatic system to release excess fluid from loose connective tissues, thus helping to remove toxins. Lymph glands are part of the body’s defense against infection; blockage or damage within the system may lead to conditions such as edema, acne, inflammation, arthritis and sinusitis. By stimulating one of the body’s natural cleansing systems, it supports tissue health. It’s also been effective in assuaging lymphedema following mastectomy surgery. Learn more at VodderSchool.com and LymphNet.org.

Massage: At its most basic, this ancient hands-on therapy involves rubbing or kneading the body to encourage relaxation, healing and well-being. Today, more than 100 different methods of massage are available, most of them in five categories: traditional; Oriental or energetic; European; contemporary Western; and integrative, encompassing structure, function and movement. Massage offers proven benefits to meet a variety of physical challenges and may also be a useful preventive therapy. Learn more at amtaMassage.org.

Metamorphic Technique: This noninvasive practice can help individuals overcome limiting beliefs that may keep them stuck in particular patterns manifested in physical, mental or emotional problems. During a “Meta” session, the practitioner uses a light touch along spinal reflex points on the feet, head and hands of the individual. Some people prefer to lie down and may fall asleep during a session, while others prefer to sit up and chat. The practitioner does not attempt to direct energy or outcomes, and sessions do not address specific symptoms or problems. Rather, they help individuals connect with their own life force. Learn more at MetamorphicTechnique.org.

Myofascial Release: This whole-body, hands-on technique seeks to free the body from the grip of tight fascia, or connective tissue, thus restoring normal alignment and function and reducing pain. Therapists use their hands to apply mild, sustained pressure in order to gently stretch and soften fascia. Developed in the late 1960s by Physical Therapist John Barnes, myofascial release is used to treat neck and back pain, headaches, recurring sports injuries and scoliosis. Learn more at MyofascialRelease.com.

Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET): This mind-body therapy seeks to restore well-being by removing certain biochemical and bioelectrical charges stored in the brain and manifested as illness or imbalances in the body. NET combines techniques and principles from Traditional Chinese Medicine, chiropractic and applied kinesiology to remove blocks to the body’s natural vitality, allowing it to repair itself naturally. Chiropractor Scott Walker formulated NET in the late 1980s. Learn more at NetMindBody.com.

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT): Specific massage therapy and flexibility stretching help balance the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, emphasizing the interwoven roles of the brain, spine and nerves in causing muscular pain. Its goal is to relieve tender, congested spots in muscle tissue and compressed nerves that may radiate pain to other areas of the body. (Also see Trigger Point Therapy.) Learn more at MyofascialTherapy.org.

Ortho-Bionomy: A gentle, non-invasive system of healing, ortho-bionomy reminds the body of its natural ability to restore balance. British Osteopath Arthur Lincoln Pauls developed the technique to stimulate the body by using gentle movement, comfortable positioning, brief compression and subtle contact to relieve joint and muscle pain and reduce stress. Physical Therapy Woman PatientLearn more at Ortho-Bionomy.org.

Osho Rebalancing (or Rebalancing): This offshoot of Rolfing focuses on compassionate, gentle touch, combining deep tissue massage, joint tension release, energy balancing and verbal dialogue to relieve tension and physical pain, enhance relaxation and facilitate emotional healing. Rebalancing is usually done in a series of 10 to 12 sessions that work synergistically, although each session is complete in itself. Learn more at Osho.com.

Pfrimmer Deep Muscle Therapy: A highly refined system of corrective treatment, Pfrimmer is designed to aid restoration of damaged muscles and soft tissues throughout the body. Fully trained practitioners use specified movements to stimulate circulation and help regenerate lymphatic flow, promoting detoxification and oxygenation of stagnant tissues. Registered Massage Therapist Therese C. Pfrimmer developed this therapy in the mid-20th century and applied it to recover from her own partial paralysis. Learn more at Pfrimmer.org.

Physical Therapy: Traditional physical therapy evaluates difficulties with mobility or function to focus on rehabilitation that entails restorative treatment and instruction on how to make efficient use of the body in daily activities. Physical therapists use massage, exercise, electrical stimulation, ultrasound and other means to help the patient regain functional movement. Learn more at apta.org.

Point Holding (Body Electronics): This variation of acupressure requires multiple practitioners to hold acupressure points, sometimes up to two hours, to remove energy blockages, balance the flow of energy within the body’s meridians and help the client achieve associated emotional release.

Polarity Therapy: Combinations of therapeutic bodywork, nutritional guidance, yogastyle exercises and counseling aim at heightening body awareness. Polarity therapy asserts that energy fields exist everywhere in nature and their free flow and balance in the human body is the underlying foundation of good health. Practitioners use gentle touch and guidance to help clients balance their energy flow, thus supporting a return to health. The practitioner’s hands do not impart energy, but redirect the flow of the receiver’s own energy. The receiver then recharges himself with his own freed energy. Learn more at PolarityTherapy.org.

Postural Integration (PI): This psychotherapy method simultaneously integrates deep tissue and breathwork, body movement and awareness with emotional expression. Practitioners use gentle manipulation, bioenergetics, acupressure and Gestalt dialogue to help individuals increase their sense of emotional and physical well-being. Learn more at icpit.info.

Raindrop Therapy: Based on a healing ritual of Lakota Native Americans, in which warm fluid substances are dropped onto the spine, the intention is to relax and open the body’s energy centers. Modern raindrop therapy also blends aromatherapy, soothing heat and gentle massage. Essential aromatic oils are allowed to methodically drip onto the spine from a height of five or six inches. The oils are then gently brushed up the spine and lightly massaged over the rest of the back, followed by application of a hot compress to facilitate oil absorption and muscle relaxation.

Reflexology (Zone Therapy): Reflexology is based on the idea that specific reflex points on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands correspond with every major organ, gland and area (zone) of the body. Using fingers and thumbs, the practitioner applies pressure to these points to treat a wide range of health problems. Zone therapy, an earlier name for this natural healing art, sometimes refers to a specific form of reflexology. Learn more at Reflexology-USA.net.

Reiki: A healing practice originated in Japan as a way of activating and balancing the life-force present in all living things, Reiki literally means “universal life-force energy”. Light hand placements channel healing energies to organs and glands and work to align the body’s energy centers, or chakras. Various techniques address emotional and mental distress, chronic and acute physical problems or pursuit of spiritual focus and clarity. Today Reiki is a valuable addition to the work of chiropractors, massage therapists, nurses and others in the West. Learn more at Reiki.org.

Rolfing Structural Integration (Rolfing): Deep tissue manipulation of the myofascial system, which is composed of the muscles and the connective tissue, or fascia, by the practitioners’ hands helps restore the body’s natural alignment and sense of integration. As the body is released from old patterns and postures, its range and freedom of physical and emotional expression increases. Rolfing can help ease pain and chronic stress, enhance neurological functioning, improve posture and restore flexibility. Learn more at Rolfing.org.

Rosen Method: It’s named for Marion Rosen, a physiotherapist who discovered that when clients verbalized their emotions and sensations during treatment sessions, their conditions would more quickly improve. The non-invasive method uses gentle, direct touch; practitioners, taught to use hands that “listen” rather than manipulate, focus on chronic muscle tension and call attention to shifts in the breath to help individuals achieve greater self-awareness and relaxation. The technique is often effectively used to treat chronic health conditions. Learn more at RosenMethod.com.

Rubenfeld Synergy Method: This dynamic system for integrating the body, mind, emotions and spirit combines touch, talk and compassionate listening. Practitioners, called synergists, use gentle touch and verbal sharing to access each of these four levels simultaneously, releasing pain and fears held in the body/mind. The modality, created by Ilana Rubenfeld, who received a lifetime achievement award from the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy in 2002, facilitates pain management, ease of movement, positive body image and self-esteem, as well as recovery from physical and emotional trauma. Learn more at RubenfeldSynergy.com.

Shiatsu: The most widely known form of acupressure, shiatsu is Japanese for “finger pressure”. The technique applies varying degrees of pressure to balance the life energy that flows through specific pathways, or meridians, in the body. Shiatsu is used to release tension and strengthen weak areas in order to facilitate even circulation, cleanse cells and improve the function of vital organs; it also may help to diagnose, prevent and relieve many chronic and acute conditions that manifest on both physical and emotional levels. A branch of shiatsu that originated in the United States, called ohashiatsu, includes meditation and exercise. Learn more at ShiatsuSociety.org and Ohashiatsu.org.

Soma Neuromuscular Integration (also called Soma): Rooted in structural integration, soma was developed by Bill M. Williams, Ph.D., an early student of Ida Rolf. Through a 10-session format, the modality manipulates the fascia and muscles to release chronic, stored structural aberrations, realign the body and integrate the nervous system. This allows the individual to process experiences more effectively and with greater awareness, which can lead to enhanced learning and perceptual abilities. Learn more at Soma-Institute.org.

Sports Massage: The specialized field of sports massage employs a variety of massage techniques and stretching exercises designed to minimize the risk of injury, tend to sports Shiatsu Massage Patientinjuries and support optimum performance.

Structural Integration: (see Rolfing Structural Integration)

Swedish Massage: This is the most commonly practiced form of massage in Western countries. Swedish massage integrates ancient Oriental techniques with contemporary principles of anatomy and physiology. Practitioners rub, knead, pummel, brush and tap the client’s muscles, topped with long, gliding strokes. Swedish massage is especially effective for improving circulation; relieving muscle tension and back and neck pain; promoting relaxation; and decreasing stress. Practitioners vary in training, techniques and session lengths.

Tantsu: This land-based version of watsu was developed by Harold Dull as an alternative way to experience watsu’s free-flow and interplay of breath, movement and stillness. Practitioner and client experience breathing, listening and moving as part of a partnered “dance”, without any specific intent to heal or fix something. Learn more at Watsu.com.

Thai Massage: A form of body therapy, also called nuad bo-ram, Thai massage incorporates gentle rocking motions, rhythmic compression along the body’s energy lines and passive stretching to stimulate the free flow of energy, break up blockages and help restore general well-being. One of the branches of Traditional Thai Medicine (TTM), it is performed on a floor mat, with the client dressed in lightweight, comfortable clothing. No oils are used. Thai massage aids flexibility, inner organ massage, and in oxygenation of the blood and quieting of the mind. Learn more at Thai-Institute.com.

Therapeutic Touch (TT): This contemporary healing modality was developed by natural healer Dora Kunz and nursing professor Dolores Krieger, Ph.D., in the 1970s. Therapeutic Touch is drawn from ancient practices and used to balance and promote energy flow. The practitioner “accesses” the area where the body’s energy field is weak or congested, and then uses his or her hands to direct energy into the field to balance it. Nurses and other healthcare practitioners apply TT to relieve pain, stress and anxiety, and to promote wound healing. Learn more at TherapeuticTouch.org.

Touch for Health (TFH): Created by Chiropractor John F. Thie in the 1970s, Touch for Health is a widely used kinesiology system aimed at restoring the body’s natural energies through acupressure, touch and massage. Muscle-testing biofeedback first identifies imbalances in the body’s energy flow to organs and glands; it is designed to then help rebalance that energy to improve overall health, while strengthening a person’s resistance to common ailments and physical complaints. Many TFH techniques can be successfully practiced by clients at home. Learn more at TouchForHealth.us.

Trager Approach (also known as Psychophysical Integration): This system of movement reeducation addresses the mental roots of muscle tension. By gently rocking, cradling and moving the client’s fully clothed body, the practitioner encourages him or her to believe that physically restrictive patterns can be changed. The Trager Approach includes “mentastics”, simple, active, self-induced movements a client can incorporate into regular daily activities. Trager work has been successfully applied to a variety of neuromuscular disorders and mobility problems, as well as everyday stresses and discomforts. Learn more at Trager.com.

Trauma Touch Therapy (TTT): An innovative, somatic approach, TTT addresses the needs of those that have suffered trauma and abuse, including sexual or emotional, witnessing or being victimized by violent crime, battery, war or surgical trauma. The intent is to create a safe, nurturing environment in which the individual can slowly explore healthy touch and investigate sensation and feeling in their body. Certified therapists encourage empowerment and choice; individualized sessions support the psychotherapeutic process.

Trigger Point Therapy (Myotherapy): This massage technique is used to relieve pain, similar to Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT). Practitioners apply pressure to specific “trigger points” on the body—tender, congested spots of muscle tissue that may radiate pain to other areas—in order to release tension and spasms. Treatment decreases the swelling and stiffness associated with muscular pain and increases range of motion. Learn more at MyofascialTherapy.org.

Tui Na: A manipulative therapy integral to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), tui na (“tui” means to push and “na” is a squeezing, lifting technique) that employs Taoist and martial arts principles to rebalance the body. Practitioners possess more than 365 hand techniques; most are variations of pressing, rubbing, waving, shaking, percussing or manipulating movements. Tui na is used to relieve arthritic joint pain, sciatica, muscle spasms and other pains in the back, neck and shoulders. It may also help ease chronic conditions such as insomnia, constipation, headaches and stress associated with tension. Learn more at Tui-Na.com.

Watsu (Water Shiatsu): This uniquely nurturing therapy combines the acupressure and meridian stretches of Zen shiatsu with yoga-like postures, all performed in water; this takes weight off the vertebrae and allows for movements not possible on land. In the most basic move, the Water Breath Dance, the practitioner gently floats an individual in their arms, letting the person sink a little as they both breathe out, then allowing the water to lift them as they both breathe in. This connection is maintained in all the stretches and moves and returned to throughout the session. Pioneered by multilingual author Harold Dull in 1980, watsu’s goal is to free the spine and increase the flow of energy along the body’s meridians; Zen Shiatsu Patienthe also developed tantsu, which replicates watsu’s nurturing stretches on land. Learn more at Watsu.com.

Zen Shiatsu: Founded by writer Shizuto Masunaga, this method of acupressure includes the practice of Buddhist meditation and integrates elements of shiatsu with the goal of rebalancing and revitalizing chi, or life-force energy. A client lies on a mat or sits in a chair, fully clothed, while the practitioner uses one hand to “listen” and the other to provide the appropriate pressure. Full-body stretches and pressures may be used to release areas of chronic stagnation and blockage; clients are encouraged to breathe deeply into their lines of tension. Zen shiatsu can be effective in conditions where emotional disturbance or stress is an underlying factor.

Zen-Touch Shiatsu: This hybrid of shiatsu, acupressure and Asian/Eastern bodywork was created by American Seymour Koblin in 1984. It differs from other forms of shiatsu, including Zen shiatsu, by its combined use of light, or “hands off the body”, energy work and extensive, passive stretching methods. Practitioners apply gentle pressure while stretching the client’s limbs gradually, maintaining an attitude of compassion, respect and energetic empathy that serves to stimulate the flow of chi, aiding circulation and vitality. Learn more at SeymourKoblin.com.

Zero Balancing: Developed by Fritz Smith, a doctor, osteopath and acupuncturist, zero balancing addresses the relationship between energy and structures of the body. Practitioners use moderate finger pressure and gentle traction on areas of tension in the bones, joints and soft tissue to create fulcrums, or points of balance, around which the body can relax and reorganize. The goal is to clear blocks in the body’s energy flow, amplify vitality and contribute to better postural alignment. Learn more at ZeroBalancing.com.

Please note: The contents of this Bodywork Guide are for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be used in place of a visit or consultation with a healthcare professional. Always seek out a practitioner that is licensed, certified or otherwise professionally qualified to conduct a selected treatment, as appropriate.