Essential Oils and Chinese Medicine

Your meridians are the channels through which your life energy (Chi) flows, including your emotions. The natural and free flow of Chchi-balance-essential-oilsi and balanced emotions moving throughout your meridians ensures your good health.

While blocked or suppressed emotions result in imbalances and clogged meridian channels, we can restore the five element balance. The harmonious flow of Chi is the heart of the purpose of Chinese medicine. The five elements are the five categories of Chi related to the various organs, body systems, emotions and psychological states of a human being.

Essential oils can be used to safely and effectively balance and restore health to the five element system through the meridians. Using the direct application and inhalation of your essential oils is especially effective for restoring the flow of chi.

Also, diluting your favorite essential oil, or blend of oils, with a vegetable carrier oil for skin application is advised. Applying a blend along a blocked meridian channel or acupuncture point before needling is effective for stimulating the flow of chi.

Universal essential oils to consider using are lavender and frankincense. They can be used alone or blended with other oils. I have a selection of natural blend formulas that can help bring the meridian channels and five elements into balance. Some conditions that can be treated are: headaches, insomnia, stress, hormonal, and stomach imbalance too. By applying these oils on the temples and on the affected area, essential oils can help bring greater grounding too.

Spiritual But Not Religious – What Next?

We received quite a lot of response to the previous article about SBNR, for which we are grateful, especially to those who sent comments or spiritual-but-not-religiousspoke to us about it in some way. Thank you.

Now what? It’s one thing to challenge one another to Grow-Up, Wake-Up, Show-Up, and Clean-Up. It’s quite another to answer the question of “How?” or even, “What does that mean?” I will address the second question first.

By grow-up I mean adding breadth to our depth and depth to our breadth. One of the marks of personal maturity is the ability to take multiple perspectives. I know someone whom I greatly admire because she has the capacity to listen and learn from those who hold opposing understandings of almost any issue. Rather than try to convince them her view is correct, she experiences these interactions as learning opportunities. That does not mean she is swayed by their comments, but she learns. We know that an individual’s behavior makes perfect sense in their model of the world. She wants to know about their model. The great peace makers of the world do not try to win compromises. They try to reconcile differing models of the world. They try for win-win-win solutions (each of the parties involved win and the overall well-being of the “world” wins.) To do that one must expand their breadth of knowledge and deepen their understanding of motivations.

Let me begin the “wake-up” explanation by recalling a story I once read (I think it is from the Talmud): The Rabbi was riding his donkey through the village shouting, “Has anyone seen my donkey? I can’t find my donkey!” Someone finally said, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you looking for your donkey? It’s right here with you.” To which the Rabbi responded, “So why are some of you trying to find God?” It’s not that the God/Spirit is absent, it is that our experience of and with God/Spirit is absent. To wake-up is to engage in practices that do more than give us information and understanding of Deity, God or Spirit, but those practices that give us direct experiences of and with God/Spirit.

We begin to show-up when we quit focusing on what or whom we should be and just be whom we’ve been created to be. We all fulfill roles, but we also live roles. We find it difficult to just be whom we are. In fact, I suspect most of us don’t even know how to just be whom we are. Most religions have done a super good job of letting us know we do not and cannot measure up. They have been wrong. I am what and where I am because I must be here to get where I’m going. We’re still growing-up and waking-up and it’s about time we showed up. We can’t get where we’re going while pretending to be what we’re not. As one child put it, “I know I’m good because God don’t make no junk!”

Finally, let’s talk about cleaning-up. I’m a peace maker. On the Enneagram, I’m a Nine; a person who easily sees both sides of an argument and wants to reconcile and make room for everyone. Every person is worthy of being treated with dignity and respect. But, I still have my prejudices (mostly about those that don’t want to include everyone!) We need a practice that will help us to love even our enemies, and to forgive those who offend us. We do not do this for their sake. We do it for our own sake. Anger, hatred, and resentment are heavy burdens to carry around. They wear us out and keep us awake at night. We give away too much power to those people. They can push our buttons in a heartbeat. The fewer buttons we have, the more peace and harmony we experience.

So, now to the first question: “How?” Perhaps it was 15 years or so ago Future Life Now initiated an Integral Practice Group. This group met for two and a half hours, three Saturdays a month and planned on meeting for a year. It turned out to be longer than that because of scheduling issues.  Today, we still hear from members of that group about the profound impact it had on their lives.

I will be starting a similar Integral Practice group although on a smaller scale. What I envision at this point is a twice-a-month meeting for six months with the option to extend, if the group desire is there. As before, this will not be a come-and-go group or a show-up-when-you-want group. Those who choose to participate will commit to attending. There could be some wiggle room in scheduling if group needs are sufficient. As before, there would be an application and interview process. The group may choose to meet on some day other than Saturday. Besides myself as faciliator, there will be periodic guest speakers.

Each meeting would address each of the areas discussed above and would also include some form of movement designed to promote better body health. It would be exercise but not aerobics or strenuous strength exercises. No running or jumping.

Here’s my call to action: If you might be interested in participating in such a group, please contact Future Life Now, or email me at larrywells@futurelifenow.com. I am not currently asking for a commitment. This is a request for a show of interest only. We need a minimum of 10 to commit, and could not accommodate more than 18 (maybe 15). My expectation is that we would begin shortly after the first of the year. The fee for the program has not yet been finalized but we will do our best to keep it affordable.

 

Feldenkrais Method and Chronic Pain – New York Times

It's not often that my field makes national headlines. We take notice when it does. This week Jane Brody, a conservative long-time writer, published an article in the New York Times. If you haven't yet read that article Trying the Feldenkrais Method for Chronic Pain, it is worth a read. Brody discusses how she had heard of the method long ago, but pushed it to the side thinking it was some kind of "New Age gobbledygook with no scientific basis."

Based on the recommendation of Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, author of Crooked, she decided to give the Feldenkrais® approach a try, and she feels enlightened to say the least. So what is the scientific basis for how the Feldenkrais Method works to reverse chronic pain?

From my view centers around several well-studied fields: Learning theory, Neuroplasticity, and Human Development. These three fields are so intertwined that I think it is quite difficult to truly separate them. I want to see if I can make key findings from these fields easier here, not in an attempt to over simplify, but as a way of helping you gain some knowledge around how your body-mind works.

Your nervous system, which includes your brain, spinal cord, nerves, and sense organs, is all the time trying to do right by you. When you were born, it spent most of its time learning (notice the word learn) how to regulate basic functions like respiration and body temperatures.

It had to "sense" a myriad of sensations for the first time and started doing its best to decide which of these required what kind of response. Its interest, above all else, is your ability to survive. So it tends to err on the side of caution. And in that quest, sometimes inaccurately, defines something as potentially dangerous that turns out to be quite okay. As more internal and external experiences occur, it becomes better and better at categorizing, responding, and growing into the next phase of life. This is neuroplasticity: the ability of your nervous system to change in form and function. This is also learning. This is also living. That children did this is nothing new. But fairly recent on the scientific scene is the discovery that adults, even adults in old age, are capable of neuroplasticity. Not as much is fixed as we thought it to be.

Chronic Pain and Neuroplasticity

A feature of the plastic brain or nervous system is that it gets better at doing what it does a lot of. The more times it is called to do that item, whatever it might be, the better it gets at it. It can be really good at producing back pain for example. This isn't the same thing as "it is all in your head" thinking. But at the crux of it, all experiences are interpretation made by the nervous system. Joy, sadness, anger, comfort, and pain are felt because the nervous system says X sensation equals Y.

Pain and fear are survival necessities. Joy isn't. Pain keeps us from putting our hand on a hot burner. Pain teaches us to avoid stubbing our toe and potentially breaking it. Fear tells us to avoid walking off of a cliff, stepping out into traffic, or dark alleys. Because they are necessary for survival, the animal brain in us will sometimes interpret something as pain or fear, when really it was just sour or bitter, or reminded of a time when something was dangerous.

Most chronic pain situations begin with some kind of trauma such as an auto accident, a lifting injury, stepping off the curb wrong, or even assault. Perhaps the injury felt big. Maybe it didn't. But then something else happens, and something else, and somehow it has been several months and the person is still in pain. When the stimulus that results in pain is repeated enough or is scary enough, it begins to need less and less information to decide to feel pain. It begins to jump to conclusions. The brain's pain map has become faulty.

Neuroplasticity and Brain Maps

Different areas of the brain provide different functions. Researchers have studied what parts of the brain does what kinds of functions. Based on these studies, they have created pain maps, sensory maps, and motor maps to name a few. As a person becomes more specialized in an area, these maps are changed. For example in your sensory-motor maps you will assign more territory to your hands and hearing if you are a musician than if you are an olympic runner.

If you experience chronic pain, we know it isn't just the pain map which is changed but also the sensory-motor maps. People with chronic back pain have been studied and found that they do not have an accurate idea of where their spine is located in their body. If you want to move your hand, but you perpetually perceive it to 2 inches to the left of where it really is, this is going to cause a lot of disappointing outcomes. The same is true with your back. You need to accurately sense your body parts and their relationships to their partner parts to use them well.

The Feldenkrais Method® and Chronic Pain

With that rudimentary background laid out, we are ready to respond to how the Feldenkrais Method helps with chronic pain.

#1 If you have been using yourself in a way that leads to wear and tear, instead of wear and repair, the Feldenkrais Method guides you to learn about your parts of yourself and how they can function together. It turns out we know way less about how to use these bodies than one might imagine. Yes, we need to move, and your system craves motion, but there are more efficient and less efficient ways to move. The less efficient leads to gradual wear and tear. As your efficiency improves, the system moves increasingly towards wear and repair. This means the nervous system doesn't need to stay on high alert so much.

#2 Sensory-motor maps can become faulty through trauma, chronic pain or misuse. Neuroplasticity says they absolutely can be improved regardless of age. Anyone who has experienced the Feldenkrais Method can attest to how brilliantly it helps you discover and sense in more ways that are truly novel. Because the brain is preoccupied with survival, anything novel really catches its attention. It wants to examine new experiences thoroughly so it can decide, “Is this safe, and if yes, what is it?” The Feldenkrais Method coaches small, gentle movements while breathing easily. Creating safe explorations frees up the nervous system from staying stuck on "Unsafe" or "Pain" and allows it to assign new sensations such as ease, comfort, and fun. We know from research that the sensory-motor maps are heavily impacted by how you use yourself. We also know that people with chronic back pain do not have an accurate perception of where their spine is located in their body. If you want to use your parts harmoniously, you need to know about where they are and how they function.

#3 By staying within the safe, comfortable range of movement, the overactive aspects of the brain that sense pain can begin to come off of alert and return to their natural function. This results in actually informing you when something is truly risky. The Feldenkrais Method lowers the background noise caused by a disordered or fearful nervous system. That lowering of that noise, gives you an opportunity to listen to other “voices” that before just couldn’t be heard above the din.

#4 By becoming aware of how you move, you gain choices. And not just choices in the way you stand up or reach for a glass, but choices about how you function in the world. Along with this comes opportunities to be curious, experimental and to choose painless, perhaps even pleasurable interactions and ways of moving.

In my own personal journey, the Feldenkrais Method marked a change from living a live centered around chronic pain to one centered around possibilities. It was so impactful that I became a practitioner in the work. And over the past 15 years have helped thousands of people come out of chronic pain. The options today for finding a practitioner on-line or in person are the best they have ever been. Classes to private sessions, online to live all give a wide range of financial entry points. There isn’t a better time to give it a whirl and see if you too can release the burden of chronic pain.

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Schedule with Cynthia on-line for a live, in person session in Cincinnati or a video session. Or you can call us at 513-541-5720.

You can find other North American practitioners at feldenkrais.com. Or ask us. We will help connect you to someone near you.

Feldenkrais Method Chronic Pain

Art Opening: Ali-ce in Winterland: Prints & Quilts by Ali Hansen

Join us on Friday, October 6th at 6:00 pm

at Future Life Now and meet the artist, Ali Hansen.

Several of her artworks will be on display. Light refreshment will be served. We hope to see you!

Future Life Now is located at 4138 Hamilton Ave, Suite B, Northside, 45223. Free parking will be available in the lot behind our building and on the street. The entrance is on the Knowlton St. side of our building. Come up to the second floor for our suite.

A note from Ali Hansen

“Shadows snapped from leafless branches onto the snow. The Stranger in a hooded cloak shuddered against the wind…”

I moved to Michigan eleven years ago, and discovered a wonderland of real and imaginary characters in my own backyard. Ali-ce in Winterland is the garden’s story from the first fallen leaf in August to the first snowfall in December.

The work in this show was completed in the last two years. I have enjoyed reconnecting with printmaking and love working with fabric and collage. I completed this work at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center where I have learned to set type and print on the letterset press.

I would like to thank Cynthia and Larry, and the rest of the team at Future Life Now for the opportunity to share my story with you.
Ali Hansen

Ali’s Bio

After thirty years in Cincinnati, Ali Hansen moved to southwest Michigan to “retire” and enjoy sunsets on Lake Michigan, pursue her artwork, and as a surprise, begin writing stories. This work is the first combination—writing, illustrating, and publishing—her own words.

Ali lives in Benton Harbor with her life partner, Marilee Panna, their dog, Wyeth Blue and Keillor the cat.

Spiritual But Not Religious

spiritual-but-not-religious

When I was a very young boy, there were two deities that watched over me. Both were gray bearded old men. One was Santa Claus. He watched to find out if I was naughty or nice. If I were nice, I’d get really good presents on Christmas day. If I were naughty, I’d probably still get presents, but not the presents I wanted. The other was God, whom my grandmother new personally. If I were good and believed in God’s son Jesus, I could go to heaven when I died. If I were bad, God would send me to burn in hell forever when I died. That meant you had to wait until you died to find out how you were with God. Santa paid off every year. If those were my choices, I’d take Santa any day!

One day, when I was a college student, a friend talked to me about a Jesus who would walk with me and help make life easier and more joy filled. He didn’t tell me anything I hadn’t heard before, but the meaning was different and my life was changed. Since then, my understanding of God has changed several times. With each change God became bigger, more loving and more inclusive. At age 6 years old, I could not conceive of God in any other way. I had not developed enough emotionally to understand God or Santa differently. By the time I was in college, I could understand God in a different way. The content was the same, but the context and meaning had changed. So it is with all of us.

Spiritual Update Needed

We find ourselves in a time of great transition and potential peril. For many years philosopher and teacher Ken Wilber has made the argument that traditional religions hold the spiritual truths that can and should transform the world. Unfortunately, those truths are still couched in a world view of two or more millennia ago – the world was flat, the sun was born each morning and traveled across a dome, died each night, and the stars and clouds were a part of the dome that existed just outside our reach. Maybe no one still believes that. Humanity has grown, developed, evolved intellectually and emotionally. The context has changed.

It is estimated that 20 % or more of Americans claim to be “Spiritual but Not Religious”. They’re not wanting some watered down and impotent version of religion. What is needed is not a religion that is pre-rational, but one that is transrational.

Four Things For Religion

Wilber says the religions have to do four things: they have to GROW UP, WAKE UP, SHOW UP and CLEAN UP.

Grow up: don’t check your brains at the door when you enter to pray or worship.

Wake up: wake up to the true nature of Spirit and the relation Spirit has with us.

Show up: you can’t sit and be holy. Spirit lives, moves and acts in and through us.

Clean up: recognize and transform the shadow side of ourselves.

Though what I have to say applies to all of the major and traditional religions, since I am Christian and want to say a little about each of these four on-going tasks from that perspective

To grow up means to hear the words of Jesus: “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” The word “perfect” means “mature”. Act your age. Hear the texts with intelligence. Question them. You’ve been taught or have learned what they mean, but ask, “What else can they mean in today’s world?” Maybe when you were a child, God was the big guy in the sky who punished those who were bad and rewarded those who were good. Hopefully as an adult that has changed. James Fowler wrote a book called Stages of Faith in which he described six stages through which people grow as they mature. The sacred texts hold different meaning and power as individuals make their way through those stages. Can you recognize your own path of faith development?

The Bible says that humanity was created in God’s image. For the Christian, God exists as one in three forms: Creator (Father), Incarnation (Body – the Son) and Sustainer – Holy Spirit. We need to wake up to whom we really are. We, too, are triune – made in God’s image:

We are Soul/Psyche. It is psyche that co-creates the world in which we live. We participate in creating reality by our spiritual nature.

We are incarnate in that Christ is in us. The Apostle Paul uses the phrase “Christ in me” and other such phrases to emphasize that Christ is in us and that we have the mind of Christ.

We should use it. We absolutely are Spirit. It is Spirit that sustains us, that keeps us going. An infant doesn’t know living from dying but we all know of infants who fought with all that was in them to stay alive. And it is Spirit that sustains us as we transition from one form of life to another. That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “Before Moses was, I am.”

Finally, we have to clean up. What needs to be cleansed from us? What are the parts of ourselves that need to be embraced rather than hidden? What are our prejudices and against whom do we discriminate? Whom would we curse rather than bless? How burdensome are the grudges and angers we carry? They are a weight and detriment to our own development. Others may not need or even want our forgiveness, but we need (not should) to forgive for our sakes. What’s more, we need to forgive and embrace ourselves, those parts of ourselves that we’ve tried to hide from ourselves but may be apparent to others.

It is my firm belief that our country and our world will survive in the long term only if we grow up, wake up, show up and clean up. The Incas predicted the end of the world. Actually, what they predicted was the end of the world as it has been known. They predicted the transition from homo sapiens to homo luminous – from the knowing or wise ones to the enlightened ones. If enough people practice these four tasks, humanity and world will continue to mature and perhaps even make the leap to homo luminous.

England Slide Show 2017

We had a grand time in England. First there was the Movement 2017: Body, Brain Cognition conference at Oxford University in Oxford, England where a research project Cynthia was instrumental in was presented. Alternative movement program in geriatric rehabilitation: Bones for Life®.

This was our first trip to England so we headed over to London and the sounding areas for a busy few days. Our take: multi-cultural, friendly, helpful and very royal.

Click the icon circled on top left hand side for the England Slide Show.

 

Learn How to Get Well ~ Part 2

Last time I shared that we can participate in and lead the healing of our bodies. We have the ability to influence the course of physical illness. In particular, the point of the previous article was that we should learn not about the course of disease, but that we would be better served by learning from those who got well with little or no medical intervention. We’re not opposed to medical interventions but we can benefit in knowing how we can contribute to our own healing. The same is true when it comes to mental health.

We know that some people who were abused physically, emotionally or sexually as children have significant emotional/mental problems as adults. But it is just as true that there are many people who had similar experiences but do not have mental health problems as adults. How is that true? So far as I can find, there are no studies that explain how others who had similar childhood experiences avoid having problems. Psychologists and psychiatrists have conducted major studies on people with phobias and how they got them. Richard Bandler and John Grinder (developers of Neuro-Linguistic Programming) studied people who got over phobias and how they did it. They developed a process for eliminating phobias in just a few minutes without putting the client though any further trauma. The process has been effective in treating PTSD as well. The process does not fit in any psychological model and therefore it remains unrecognized in the mental health fields.

NLP practitioners are not therapists, though many therapists use NLP in their practices. NLP practitioners are not particularly interested in how dis-ease was caused. We’re more interested in knowing how it’s maintained. Healing does not begin at the “cause” stage. It starts with where the client is and moves to where the client wants to be. The practitioner does not need to know what happened to make you phobic, depressed, anxious or whatever. Instead he needs to know what are the internal mental processes that maintain the current problems state. As an example, consider this: We all have internal dialogues and mental pictures. Everyone can day dream and have wonderful or horrifying day dream experiences. The first is called fantasy. The second is called worrying. Those who have no strategy for distinguishing between imaginary and real, between day dreaming and real life, experience life as being very confusing. Those who experience internal voices or internal pictures as being outside themselves often get labeled as schizophrenic. If they had a strategy for consistently distinguish between real and imaginary, the problems would disappear. Those who are labeled as being depressed, would benefit by being taught how to brighten up the day and future. Wouldn’t it be great if you could learn how to take all those terrible things that have happened to you, bundle them up and put them behind you so they were over and done with? This is possible. This has been done successfully many, many times.

I am not making light of life struggles. We may and often do need help to deal with troubled times. But it is just as true that we play a major role in our successfully navigating our way through those troubled times. We are just beginning to understand how to use our mental capacities to create the kind of life we want. We will always benefit from and need physical and mental health professionals. But each of us has within us the ability to participate in our own healing. We are available to partner with you, that’s what we at Future Life Now do: We teach people how to use their mind and body to achieve the kind of life they want.