Motivation for Change
By: Debra Myers, Stress Management Consultant
The body is a miracle?
Sitting slumped against the wall in my Health Practitioner's office, my head throbbing and because of fatigue, I remember these words from him that were able to penetrate through my foggy mind; "The body is a miracle!"
"Are you kidding me?" I thought, "Maybe someone else's body is a miracle, but it certainly wasn't mine!" Since there was no one else in the room, I guess he was referring to me.
This unhealthy lifestyle culminated in...
For most of my life, I endured many sinus infections, viruses, and extended periods of fatigue. At that time, my career in the airline industry only compromised my immune system even further. Adjusting to different time zones; working for years on the night shift; using caffeine to stay awake, and gravitating towards a sugar/salt loaded diet made me even more susceptible to the public's colds and viruses.
This unhealthy lifestyle culminated in running out of sick time, being very weakened and stressed; both physically and emotionally.
I had figuratively "hit a wall". Even though I barely had the strength, I knew I was at a crossroad, and my only option was to make a change.
...opening to view my body as healing.
As a result, I ran through the gamut of Specialists and medications without finding an answer, or relief. Only as a last resort, I sought the advice of an Alternative Health Practitioner.
Dr. Len Brancewicz, an enthusiastic and well-educated Dr. of Naturopathy was accustomed to being the last resort for clients like me, with weakened immune systems. His approach of looking at the cause of my compromised health and supporting it allows the body's "miraculous" but natural ability to readjust and heal. For most of my life I regarded my health as weak, but now I was opening to view my body as healing. Practicing this new perspective, in addition to making better choices in diet and lifestyle, I slowly started to feel improvement. If someone would've told me that one day I would feel strong, energetic and healthy; even around others that have health issues,
I would've said, "Are you kidding me?!!"
Gratefully and much to my amazement, it has!
I was unaware that I was tense.
Whenever I had brief periods without illness during the time I was with the airlines, I enjoyed dancing and teaching children to dance.
My mentor, a former prima ballerina from Italy, Amelia Wanderlingh noticed and informed me about the tension I was holding when I danced.
She suggested that I should do yoga to release my muscles. Even though I was relatively flexible, I was unaware that I was tense, or that my movements reflected tension.
Postures were secondary to yoga edu.
My natural inclination at the time was to do a vigorous form of yoga so that I could eventually do some of those incredible poses/asanas shown in magazines. However a fortunate turn of events occurred, when only a more gentle form of yoga was available to fit into my schedule. For many years, I was privileged to take private yoga classes from a remarkable yoga teacher and gifted intuitive, Renee Takacs.
Her calm and gentle approach to yoga was what my mind and body needed. As I practiced, it became apparent that the postures/asanas were only secondary to my yoga education.
...most difficult pose for me, relaxation.
Discovering throughout my exploration of the relationship between my health and yoga was retraining myself how to breathe. Consequently, I not only held tension, but I also held my breath! Ironically, one of the most difficult poses for me was the relaxation pose; lying on the floor at the end of class. Relaxation felt so strange and at times even fearful. My nervous system had a challenging time processing what it was like to settle down and let go.
...using exercises to help health crisis.
As my airline career progressed through either financial uncertainty, accidents, turbulent flights and finally 9/11; my mind reacted with either frustration, fear and dread, while my body reacted with tension, spasms and panic. There were times when traveling that I ran out of my supplements that supported me; which led me back to panic. Wanting to stop feeling this way and realizing this reaction only fueled my discomfort, I relied on using Breathing, Tense & Release, and Imagery exercises to help me through my health crisis.
...relieved spasms and calmed mind.
Without compromising on effectiveness, I became creative on how to do these exercises with minimal detection; especially when in public. Thankfully these exercises relieved my spasms and calmed my mind.
...success in turning my health around.
Relief and relaxation were unusual but welcomed experiences I encountered when practicing Yoga and Stress Management Techniques; through my varying levels of health. I enjoyed teaching; however, my love of dance transferred to my love of yoga. Not only was the feeling of release in the muscles during yoga movement pleasurable, but the influence of peace on the mind was so contrary to my experience with dance. Because of my success in turning my health around, plus feeling gratitude from these benefits; I needed completion in the form of sharing these techniques with others. As a result, I became certified in Stress Management and a gentle form of yoga, called Integral Yoga.
...perception fuels stress.
As I furthered my teaching and exploration into my own health issues, it became apparent how much perception fuels stress and is responsible for tension. I read many informative and inspirational teachings addressing this issue; however after acquiring my certifications, I became drawn to a prominent book at that time; "The Power of Now" written by, Eckhart Tolle.
He explained how the "Now" was more important than the past or the future; and that most of our thoughts are either about the past or the future. This premise made me observe my thinking. Just like relaxation felt foreign to me, the "Now" or the "Present Moment" had a similar effect. I was resistant to this new way of thinking at first until I started to make the connection. Whenever I noticed tension, I would observe that my thinking was either in the past or the future; regardless if it was a happy or unhappy thought. On the contrary, when I became focused in the "Present" moment, my body and mind relaxed.
Eckhart's book was not only pivotal in making me aware of my perceptions, but enlightened me on how thoughts can influence my body and my health.
...not a straight line towards success!
Feeling more energetic but relaxed became the "new normal" for me. Improvements in my health and attitude were due to observing my thoughts and practicing my yoga.
On the other hand, my process was not just a one time, straight line towards success!
I recall one particular day (in the earlier years of teaching) when I had a meltdown before my yoga class. At first, I chided myself for reacting this way; then my feelings morphed into feeling unqualified to be a "teacher of relaxation". However, that moment became a teachable moment for me.
The meltdown highlighted empathy and respect for others and myself, when in the midst of sorting through painful emotions.
The impetus behind my over 13 years of teaching comes from being able to guide others as they navigate through tension and stress for a more easeful way, and maintaining assistance for them when they choose an un-easeful way.
the mind could mentally reset to recover
The kind and accomplished Psychologists:
Elaine Malec, Jacqueline Herring, and Elizabeth Krause generously afforded me the opportunity to instruct their clients that suffered from anxiety related disorders; Stress Management techniques. Many of the clients have remarked, and I have also found the following to be true.
"It's amazing when you peel off one layer of tension, that there's still another layer to take off; bringing you even deeper into relaxation."
Throughout my health journey, I've learned to release (step by step) the layers of bad habits of food choices and lifestyle; that weakened my immune system. For my health condition, when I started to take some ownership of making better choices to assist my immune system rather than strain it; I discovered and learned to appreciate that the body is a miracle!
Mentally and emotionally, I started to see and feel the correlation between tension in the body, and tension in my thoughts.
Using the Stress Management and Yoga techniques to release physical and mental tension (a little bit at a time, layer after layer, not having to be perfect) was the way I unwrapped my stress. I found that this was the way that the mind could mentally reset to recover and relax.
It is has been my honor and pleasure to share these techniques with many clients. Through my Unwrapping Stress™ program; it is my hope and intention that you too can begin to unwrap your stress, and reveal the "gift" of feeling peace, and being in the present moment.