Winter weather

I’d just like to remind everyone that not only is it cold out there (and colder than usual inside here!) but it is also very, very dry. The humidity indicator in my hall is reading 30% which is very low indeed. At this level a lot of moisture is going to be lost from the skin – and when outside the effects of those biting winds are going to dry it out even more.

So – firstly don’t forget to drink a LOT. Water, not too cold, warm and hot drinks. Try not to increase your daily intake of caffeine as you increase your drinking, make those extra drinks fruit and herbal teas, fruit juice diluted with water or that good old British favourite, squash. A slice of lemon or other citrus in a mug of hot water is refreshing and cheery in the dull weather – all citrus essential oils are cheering and may even help combat viruses and other bugs. Avoid alcohol too as this dries out the body and skin.

Secondly, moisturise your skin to help prevent further water loss. You can’t really add water back in from the outside but you can help keep it in. Moisturising also softens the skin and prevents painful cracking and peeling. I like to use a simple oil based balm with essential oils of course – many essential oil molecules are so small that they can be absorbed through the skin. I choose those which are believed to be moisturising, calming to stressed skin and cheering to the emotions.

Thirdly, eat well. You are probably using more calories to keep warm and walking through wind and snow, and on ice is more tiring and will burn more energy. If you feel hungry between meals, listen to your body and have a healthy snack such as a piece of wholemeal toast or a banana. You need energy to stay alert and happy.
Lastly, at the end of the day you are probably going to feel tireder and more stressed. Your muscles are going to ache from the unaccustomed strains put on them just from simply trying not to fall over on slippery ice or battle against the wind. Have a hot bath or shower – with some muscle relaxing essential oils if you can*. Wear lots of layers of loose warm clothing, have lots of layers on the bed and get a good night’s sleep. It will be spring soon, honest.

* as ever don’t put essential oils directly into bath water. Dilute them in a bath oil or cup of (preferably) full fat milk first.

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The sixth flow – taking your place in the world

As the life force energy spirals out from your core, feel it reach your skin. Feel your skin become like bark, containing the life energy within you as it grows. Feel your skin become a strong barrier between what is you and what is not you, containing and strengthening your life force energy.

Take your rightful place on the world, safe and protected by this skin.

Blessings.

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The fifth flow – creation of life energy

As the energies from the earth beneath you and the sun above continue to flow into you, envisage them meeting in the middle of your body.  The combination of these energies is the total of yin and yang, the two aspects of life force.  As the energies meet and combine, experience how they energise your solar plexus chakra and perhaps your heart chakra.  Welcome them as they spread up and down your body, fortifying and filling you with life.

Blessings.

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The fourth flow – taking in the sun’s energy

As you’re sitting or standing tall, still rooted in the earth, still reaching up to the sun, begin to feel the heat of the sun on the top of your head.  Feel the warmth from above on your shoulders.  Welcome in that warmth, that energy from Father Sun through your head, through your skin, and feel it passing into your body, moving down through your neck, shoulders and chest at the same time that the energy and love from the earth is still rising up through your roots and feet.  Feel the difference and the sameness in the energies from the two directions and welcome them both.  You are balanced between the two and for now, this is enough.

Blessings.

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The third flow – reaching up to the sun

While keeping contact with the earth and feeling her energy flowing into you, now take your focus into your spine and upper body.  Elongate your spine, allow yourself to grow tall and feel your body reaching upwards towards Father Sun.  Even if you’re indoors, even if it’s cloudy or night, picture the sun above and grow towards the immense radiant energy while still rooted into the ground.

Blessings.

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The second flow – drawing on the love and energy of Mother Earth

After connecting to the earth (the first flow) and letting your unwanted energy drain away, begin to feel the love and energy of Mother Earth rising up towards you.  Feel it connect with the roots growing down into her and flow upwards through your foot chakras.  As it rises up your legs, tingling as it goes, create a bowl of your pelvis.  Allow the energy to flow up and into the bowl, filling it full and overflowing into your body with love.  For you there is infinite nourishment from the earth, always there to be called on, always there to fill you up and create this reservoir within you.  This is ancient and you can carry it with you wherever you go.

For now, this is enough.

Blessings.

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The first flow – connecting to Mother Earth

Sit or stand comfortably with your feet flat on the floor.  It doesn’t matter if you’re outside or indoors, barefoot or shod, just feel the pressure of the sole of your foot against the ground as gravity makes the connection for you.

Relax your body.  Drop your shoulders, unclench your jaw, soften your knee joints.  Tilt your pelvis slightly backwards and forwards to find the sweet relaxed curve of your back and feel the tension in your abdominal muscles, adjusting until you’re comfortably supported.  Breathe gently in and out.  Calm your mind and let go of thoughts.

Bring your awareness back to the soles of your feet.  Feel the contact with the ground, reassuring and comforting.  Now envisage the chakras in the balls or the centres of your feet opening like lenses, focussed on the ground.  When you are ready, allow tiny, delicate root tips to grow out of your feet towards and into the ground, feeling their way into the earth.  As they grow downwards through the earth, creating a fine network that holds you supported by the ground, begin to feel the solidity of the deeper layers below, the stones and bedrock beneath.  Feel the enormity of Mother Earth who is always there to greet and support you.  Hold yourself relaxed and connected, supported and one with the earth.

After a while, if it hasn’t happened already, feel any unwanted tension in your body flow down through your roots into the earth.  Any feelings, energy, thoughts that you don’t need or want, let them go.  Imagine these draining away, taken into the earth and the bedrock down below to dissipate and be received.  The earth can take these back and transform them into timeless energy to be renewed and used again in a positive way.  There is, for you, infinite capacity to be greeted and supported in this way.

For now this is all, this is enough.  When you are feeling calm and refreshed, and ready to move on, say thank you to Mother Earth and gather back your awareness into your everyday self.  Ease up your feet from the floor knowing that even as you do this your feet will know and remember the connection for when you need it.

Blessings.

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Reflexology for women

The subtle therapy of reflexology is particularly useful in supporting the body’s endocrine system.  This is possibly because hormones themselves work on the principle that a tiny change – the presence or absence of a chemical in minute dilution – can effect a very large change in the physical body.  And of course we women are particularly vulnerable to hormone changes and imbalances at all stages of our lives.

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Month after month the levels of different hormones in our bodies rise and fall in the oestrous cycle.  Common difficulties can include pms, irregular periods, painful periods, bloating and mood changes.

Year by year the levels of hormones our bodies produce rise and fall, from childhood to the menarche through the fertile years and then to later years when female hormones decline. Understanding how these changes affect day to day life is important as areas such as confidence and wellbeing are affected, outward signs like skin tone and body shape, child bearing and challenges including the onset of menopause and beyond.

For women who want to have children your endocrine system has a great deal to accomplish.  Hormones ready your body for pregnancy, sustain the growing child within you and finally prepare you for birth.  Reflexology during this time can help you to relax and support your body to cope with these challenges.  And for those experiencing difficulty in becoming pregnant, reflexology can help you cope with this very stressful time.

Conceiving, experiencing a trouble free pregnancy and giving birth safely ought to be possible for most healthy couples and reflexology can help optimise health and well being at this time, ideally beginning treatments at three months before trying to conceive.

However, for more and more couples, fertility is an issue as modern lifestyles become more stressful and we move further away from the world our bodies originally evolved to thrive in.  At this time a natural therapy like reflexology can work with your body to try and combat imbalances that might be due to hormone levels, lifestyle or stress.

Reflexology and other holistic therapies are not a “magic bullet” – while they can and do provide very real support and help to couples trying to conceive, reflexology treatments should be seen as part of a serious commitment to healthy pre-conception and pregnancy care.  This could involve treatments over several months and the participation of both partners.

For couples who are undergoing treatment for assisted conception, reflexology can also provide support to help your body to cope with these demands.

In pregnancy reflexology can be a valuable tool to help tackle symptoms such as nausea, constipation, backache and fatigue amongst others, particularly at a time when you might wish to avoid medication.  Treatments can also help your body to prepare for labour but should never be thought of as “induction” of labour.  This helpful article by a leading maternity reflexology specialists explains why.  However reflexology is extremely useful for aiding relaxation and allowing your body to follow its own path into giving birth – particularly recommended for women who choose hypnobirthing.

“Lisa was recommended to me through a mutual acquaintance and I was a case study following her training, using a variety of methods. I immediately found her to be a very calm, professional and kind person who explains everything very clearly. I found the sessions very relaxing and beneficial for my energy levels, having previously been diagnosed with ME. I decided to continue treatments after the case study sessions.

After a short break, I continued sessions during the third trimester of my pregnancy. I feel that they have helped me to relax and be positive.
Lisa is knowledgable and passionate about reflexology and uses the perfect amount of pressure, for me, at least. I’d recommend giving reflexology a go for relaxation or specific health reasons.” Karen

 

If you would like to talk to me about how reflexology might be able to help you with any of these areas please contact me.

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Reflexology Lymph Drainage

Pioneered at Cardiff Metropolitan University by Sally Kay, Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD) is a technique used by specially trained reflexologists to target symptoms of secondary lymphoedema.  Lymphoedema in the hand, arm or around the shoulder can follow treatment for breast cancer which has damaged the lymph vessels or lymph nodes.  Up to 20% of breast cancer patients develop lymphoedema symptoms such as painful swelling, stiffness or difficulties with body image.

RLD mimics the effects of simple manual lymph drainage techniques which alleviate the swelling, pain and stiffness associated with lymphoedema.  Reflexology is a complementary therapy which uses the stimulation of areas (reflexes) on the feet or hands which it is believed are related to different parts of the body.  RLD is given via the feet reflex points and targets the body’s lymphatic system to promote correct drainage of lymphatic fluid.  View Sally’s video:

Early indications are that RLD can result in:

  • significant reduction of swelling
  • reduction in pain and discomfort
  • increase in arm mobility and strength
  • improvement of wellbeing and body image

These pictures taken before and after a treatment as part of the most recent research trial illustrate reduction in swelling.

Can having a treatment on the feet really help the swelling in an arm or hand?

The RLD technique has been developed in outpatient clinics.  Following an initial study, Sally Kay and a team from Cardiff Metropolitan University carried out a research study on 26 women with lymphoedema funded by Tenovus Cancer Care.  This indicated that 4 sessions of RLD significantly reduced arm swelling and reduced patients’ concerns about pain and mobility and improved their wellbeing.  These improvements appeared to last for at least six months.  Because the treatment is given on the feet rather than via direct MLD over the affected areas, it can avoid discomfort that may be experienced during the MLD treatment.  Cancer Research UK has summarised the results of this research on their website.

What happens in a RLD reflexology treatment?

I will take a medical and personal history.  You will be asked to remove any compression garments so that the size of both your arms can be measured.  The reflexology treatment will then be given with you resting comfortably in a recliner.  Your feet will be massaged and precise pressure techniques used on specific areas.  These techniques should not be painful but you may feel tender points indicating imbalance in the relevant reflexes.  At the end of the treatment your arms will be measured again in order to assess the effects of the treatment on the swelling.  The treatment will usually take from 30 to 60 minutes.

How many treatments should you have?

In the initial study, the first treatment gave the biggest reduction in swelling with following treatments helping to further reduce the swelling and improve other symptoms.  It is usually recommended to have 4 to 6 weekly treatments initially with a regular (less frequent) maintenance plan thereafter.  The recent research study indicated that effects can last for up to six months.  Please contact me if you would like to discuss this further.

RLD flyer

Other Applications of RLD

RLD trained reflexologists have also been working with clients with other conditions such as lower limb lymphoedema, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, ME, migraines and headaches, PMS and hayfever.  As always I am happy to discuss your particular needs without obligation.RLD reflexology

lisa.hardi@gmail.com
07791 521310

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The holistic approach to health

Recently someone who asked me what I did as work said he had no idea what a holistic therapist was.  What exactly is a holistic approach to health?  In my book it’s looking at the whole picture when you become unwell, not just a simple case of diagnosis and treatment but how the illness, or dis-ease, has come into your life and affected it.

For example, if I catch a cold or similar virus, this is what I do.

  • Rest.  There is a reason I have become unwell – yes, I have a virus, an external agent has attacked me, but if we were all to react to every virus we are exposed to we would be ill all the time. So I first need to accept that my body needs time to fight the infection, that I need to slow down and check my mental and emotional health for stressors that might have lead me to become vulnerable on this occasion and ask myself why have I become unwell just at this time.  There may be obvious things that I can do to better protect my health in the future.
  • Support my body. As a healthy adult I already have all I need to overcome the illness – a well evolved immune system. I need to make sure that everything I do works with my immune system rather than against it. In practical terms this means:
    1. Drinking plenty, lots of water and warm drinks. The lymphatic system can’t work properly if your body is dehydrated and this is a vital part of the immune system.
    2. Take a herbal remedy that supports the immune system – in my case I find a tincture of echinacea works wonders. Take advice from a qualified herbalist or go online to one of the better websites, I find A Vogel has excellent advice and their products are very good quality.
    3. Avoid medications that work against the immune system. For example, paracetamol is often recommended to reduce the symptoms of colds and flu because is eases aches and pains and reduces fever. Fever is one of your body’s ways of fighting infection because invading bacteria and viruses thrive at normal body temperature. So as a normally healthy adult, fever should help me get over my illness more quickly. It is, of course, even more vital to drink plenty of liquids if your body temperature is raised.
    4. Bring in the cavalry – essential oils. As an aromatherapist I know that many essential oils have antibacterial and antiviral properties and support the immune system. By diffusing and breathing in a blend of these, the oils pass into my body and help to fight the intruders as well as helping others around me to avoid becoming ill. To help with aches and pains I may make a different blend to soak in in the bath, and a gel mixed with a third blend of analgesic oils helps to soothe and clear headaches.  If I am experiencing a stuffy nose or sore throat, sinus pain or anything else I will make another appropriate blend.
    5. Use reflexology. By working the reflexes on my feet and hands I can hope to support my immune system further in doing the good work it’s already engaged in and also relax my body and mind so that I can get plenty of restorative sleep.
  • Pay attention to my diet once I am feeling better. As a well nourished healthy adult in the first world I usually have no nutritional deficiencies but while unwell I will probably not have been eating a balanced diet. Now is the time to bring in plenty of varied fruit, vegetables, good fats and high quality protein to make sure that I get back to full health.
  • Ask myself what I’ve learned from this experience. One of the most useful things included in my training as a holistic therapist is reflective practice and I do this for all of the treatments that I give, including those on myself.

And finally – celebrate and enjoy life to the full when I am well again.

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