5 Ideas for Self-Care

Self-care is more important than ever right now, but some of us are finding it harder than usual to make sure we’re practicing self-care. Depression, whether as a diagnosed mental illness or just a feeling, leads to less motivation in general. If we’re struggling with losing a job, we might feel less worthy, which means we aren’t taking care of ourselves because we, consciously or not, believe we aren’t “worth it.”

Here are a few things you can do to take care of yourself without spending money (something many of us are afraid to do right now) and without taking a lot of time:

  1. Take a quick shower. Even just turning on the water and standing under it for a minute or two can wash away some of the energetic sludge, and for some of us, water feels refreshing and rejuvenating. (Baths work too for some, but those take longer; I did say “without taking a lot of time.)
  2. Practice deep breathing if you’re able. Take 10-20 long, slow, deep breaths in and out. You can even do this while doing something else, but I recommend focusing on your breathing while doing it. This can lead to you feeling calmer, and also helps keep your lungs in good shape.
  3. Step outside. Just taking a few steps outside of the building you live in and getting some fresh air can help short-circuit feelings of being trapped or isolated. If it’s sunny, that can help your mood. And bonus points if you’re able to touch a tree, grass, or anything natural.
  4. Hug something. Some of us don’t live with people we can hug, and obviously we’re trying to socially distance ourselves from the people we don’t live with. At the same time, hugs can be comforting and mood-boosting. If you don’t have a person–or pet–you can hug, the physical act of hugging a stuffed animal or even a pillow can give you similar sensory input.
  5. Practice self-compassion. You’re feeling angry? Cool. Feel it! You’re scared? That’s okay! Allow yourself to feel the emotions you’re feeling. Allow yourself to rant at the wall about the activities you’re missing, or the places you aren’t able to go. Most importantly, honor the fact that you are a human being in a really difficult time, and it is OKAY to struggle right now. It doesn’t mean you’re “doing it wrong” or that you aren’t spiritually enlightened, or anything like that… it just means you’re human, like the rest of us.

I hope some or all of that is helpful for you. And I would love to hear from you: What are you doing to practice self-care right now?

Breathe

A few months back, I bought a copy of an Astanga Yoga book written by my former mentor. When we were friends, I took Astanga classes from him, and he taught me a lot about the philosophies and the eight limbs that make up the practice. (Tip: The poses, or asana, are only one of the limbs…and not even the first one.)

To be clear, even though back in the day I studied to be an Astanga instructor and had, in fact, passed my final practical exam, I’m *not* an instructor, and not claiming to be. But since breathing is something many of us are thinking about right now, I wanted to talk about this a little.

One of the pieces of yoga that is sometimes overlooked is pranayama, or breathing exercises. When I was working with my mentor, he taught me some pranayama…which, being me, I promptly forgot about when I stopped practicing yoga. But now that I’ve resumed studying, I’m finding the pranayama, particularly one that involves very deep, even breathing, to be vital.

I have a tendency toward shallow breathing. Every once in a while, I take a deep breath that concerns whoever I’m with, or annoys them because they think I’m sighing. The actual issue is that I take such shallow breaths much of the time that I’m not getting enough oxygen, so then my body decides I’m going to take a really, really deep breath to correct that.

But for the past several weeks, every morning (okay, almost every), I do breathing called Sutri Pranayama, in which I breathe so deeply I can literally feel it all the way down through my torso. I take 20 breaths, which takes me over five minutes because I’m inhaling long and slowly, and exhaling equally long and slowly.

And after I do it, I feel better. I feel more focused. Calmer. (Deep breathing is one of the things recommended for people who experience anxiety, which for me is a frequent experience.) I’m in a more positive frame of mind, and my normal breathing has become less shallow.

Especially now, when our world is dealing with a virus that can heavily impact the lungs, I think breathing exercises can be beneficial. (I’m not a doctor, this isn’t medical advice.)

I’m not qualified (anymore) to teach Astanga or any form of yoga, so I’m not going to try to instruct you how to do Sutri Pranayama in case I get it wrong. But if you are looking for a way to help yourself feel calmer and less stressed, and to help your lungs function well, I would definitely recommend looking up how to do it and making it part of your daily routine. Not only for now, but ongoing.

What To Say?

In the past week, our world has changed drastically. I’m not going to enumerate the changes, because if you have access to any news source at all, you already know.

I’ve had trouble focusing on accomplishing tasks for the past week and a half, since I started seeing news about colleges sending students home. One of those colleges was my daughter’s, and helping her navigate that massive change and the effects it might have on her graduation this May and her continuing to graduate school in the fall took a lot of my emotional bandwidth. Don’t get me wrong; I was grateful that she came to me for support and that I was able to help in some way.

According to what a friend of mine posted on Facebook, some are talking about the current crisis being part of a “great awakening.” Maybe so. I do believe our world and our Universe are shifting and changing… but then, I believe that is ALWAYS the case. I don’t believe it’s my place, or the place of any other human, to tell everyone what the Universe or any Creator power has in mind. I think it’s completely fine to share your own beliefs with others, but not to force those beliefs. Not to look at someone who’s lost a loved one to this illness and say, “It’ll be all right, this is just a great awakening,” or look at a parent struggling to feed and care for their children with schools, day cares, and workplaces closed and say, “Don’t worry, just think abundant thoughts and you’ll have everything you need.” (I have not seen the first one personally; I have seen the second.)

I believe this is a time that humanity might learn a few things about ourselves. I believe this is a time that might lead to greater understanding, tolerance, and kindness. But it starts with us *being* understanding, tolerant, and kind. It starts with supporting one another, not telling others they’re wrong for not believing the way you do. It starts with saying, “I believe” instead of stating your beliefs as facts. It starts with recognizing that not everyone believes what you do…and the acceptance of the possibility that you’re wrong. You might be right, but you might not be.

It starts with knowing that this crisis will pass, as crises have a tendency to do. Eventually, this illness will fade out. Schools, daycares, and workplaces will reopen. We’ll be able to get together with friends again, go out to eat, go to a movie. We’ll be able to walk into a grocery store and find what we need, instead of seeing aisles of empty shelves.

And maybe, when that time comes, we’ll all be a little less set in our ways, a little less “you’re wrong, I’m right,” and a little more open to the reality that we don’t know everything, we can’t say what the creative power in our Universe is thinking, and sometimes we just have to accept what happens and learn from it.

My Body’s Telling Me Something…

I posted this on my Facebook profile a few days ago, but wanted to share it here as well.

Friday night, I realized that every time I turned over in bed, I felt like I was on a sped-up carnival ride. The room spun, my stomach churned, and it was scary as hell.

Saturday morning, I got up…same thing, only worse. I could barely stay on my feet, had to hold onto the wall as I walked the few steps from my bed to the bathroom, and then almost fell over getting out of the shower. My husband ended up taking me to urgent care, where they said, “It’s vertigo,” gave me meds, and sent me home with instructions to follow up with my primary care doctor and ask for a neurology referral. (I get migraine headaches; those have become more frequent, longer-lasting, and worse in general over the past couple of months… but the vertigo is new. So I need to be checked out on all of it.)

The thing is, last week, I was pushing myself HARD. Needed to do this. Had to do that. Had to get my ass in my car and drive Lyft to make more money. I wasn’t resting, I was stressing.

While there is an underlying physical cause for the vertigo and migraines (I don’t know what it is yet, but I know my body), there’s also an energetic cause. My body, my energy, and the Universe were–and are–all telling me to chill the hell out, focus on *me* and not my bank account, and take care of myself.

Illnesses have multiple causes. It isn’t *only* about the physical or physiological. It isn’t *only* about the mind. And it isn’t *only* about the energy. It’s a combination. What affects one affects all; what treats one treats all. Which is why I recommend energy healing to people who talk to me about their health…but I also recommend they don’t treat their health issues *only* with energy healing. It’s called “holistic” for a reason.

Healing Is a Process

In the past, I’ve done Chios Energy Healing sessions with people who, at the end of the session, have said, “I don’t feel any different. I don’t think this works.” And then they’ve walked away, and I’ve never seen or heard from them again.

Based on the results (or lack of) from 30-60 minutes of energy work, these people have decided Chios doesn’t work and they don’t want or need another session.

Healing, like most things that lead to growth, change, and wellness, is not a one-and-done thing. You wouldn’t go to a gym, do a 60-minute workout, and expect to walk out 30 pounds lighter and muscled, would you? Or take a prescribed medication once and expect it to cure whatever you’re taking it for? Would you see a mental health professional to address trauma from your past, and expect one appointment to make all the crap go away so you can instantly handle your life better and shake the aftereffects of the trauma?

Probably not, right? We accept that we see a doctor more than once in our lives, and if that doctor prescribes medication, we accept that we’ll have to take it more than once. We know exercise takes time to show results. We know mental health treatment is ongoing.

So why expect a single energy healing session to be able to address all the energetic damage that’s been caused in your life? To bring to light all the things holding you back? To bring immediate, lasting change?

Energy healing, like other forms of healing, takes time and repetition to show true results. I generally recommend clients who are just beginning this type of work have at least one session a month. Those who have been working on their healing on an ongoing basis for a while will benefit from sessions at least 3-4 times a year, though I believe more often is still preferable. It’s important to remember that in addition to more than one session being necessary to address issues, the energy system experiences wear and tear through daily life, just as our physical bodies do, and so “maintenance” is needed.

For the past year or so, I’ve been offering Chios sessions on an one-by-one basis. I’ve realized that doesn’t serve my clients well, especially when I’m a firm believer in the need for repeated, ongoing energy work. So I’ve put together a program, currently called the Best Life Jumpstart. (The name may change. I’m not great at naming things.)
The Best Life Jumpstart is a 12-week program that includes 6 biweekly Chios sessions along with 12 mindset coaching sessions, six included in the Chios sessions and six occurring on the non-Chios weeks. The intention is to guide my clients to identifying the thoughts and patterns holding them back, along with the roots of those patterns, and help them find ways to change, release, or reset the way they look at themselves and approach their healing journey. People who enroll in the program will have email access to me between sessions, and there will be a Facebook group where clients can interact with each other for additional support.

I plan to launch the first round of the program February 24, and I’ll be opening enrollment for it on January 27. This first round will be sort of a beta test, to help me improve my skills and make sure the program is the best benefit for my clients, and so will be offered at a much lower investment than future rounds.

I’ll be sharing more information about it over the next couple of weeks, but if this sounds like something you’d like to learn more about or be part of, just reach out to me at kim @ riverflowhealing.com (no spaces) and we’ll talk!

Darkness Equals Rest

In the pagan Wheel of the Year (or at least the one with which I’m familiar), we’ve just passed Samhain, the end of the old year and beginning of the new. But we’ve also entered a time of year when, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, daylight is short and harder to come by, and it’s only going to grow shorter until Yule, a/k/a the Winter Solstice.

This is a hard time of year for me every year. The lessening of daylight impacts my mental health, and the holidays I grew up celebrating at this time of year (primarily Thanksgiving and Christmas) were sources of trauma and pain for me. Things will start getting better for me after the Solstice and Christmas have passed, though the cold New England winter that will prevent me from being outside as much as I would like will continue to have an impact.

These are things of which I’m always aware, and I do know how to manage myself and keep myself as focused and positive as possible through this time. But in the past years, I’ve also often put self-care behind trying to push through doing things. Running RiverEvolutions, working other jobs, keeping my house (mostly) clean, doing things that other people ask me to do…

This is the time of year when, thanks to having to interact more with blood-and-marriage family, I’ve most often heard that yet another year had gone by without my doing anything that mattered or anything that anyone could be proud of. And so even though most of those people are no longer in my life, and I know I’ve accomplished things people told me I couldn’t, and have accomplishments I can be proud of, it’s the time of year when I get the hardest on myself for not doing “enough,” whatever “enough” is. And so I push too hard, and try to do too much, and don’t honor my own needs.

This year, I’m trying to be different about that. I mean, seriously, who am I trying to impress by pushing through the darkness to do things that sometimes I’m not even sure have a purpose? It’s a time of year when some forms of life enter hibernation, and some just settle in to keep warm until spring, and I think I–at least the business “I”–am going to follow their lead.

I’m not shutting down RiverEvolutions. I believe strongly in this business. I believe people need balance, relaxation, and clarity, and I have seen through working with clients that I can help them achieve those things. I know where I was fourteen years ago before I learned Chios Energy Healing, and I know how far I’ve come–even when voices from the past pop into my brain to tell me I haven’t come any distance at all. They’re wrong.

But I do believe there are times to work and push, and there are times to rest and recharge. There are times to plant seeds, and to harvest them, and to cover the garden with warmth and let the snow fall.

I’m still open to clients on a very limited basis for both Chios Energy Healing and channeling; very limited meaning a maximum of 2 clients per week. I’m still working with my students, and I’m really pleased to watch their progress, and honored they chose me to work with. I’m still poking at tentative plans and ideas for RiverEvolutions for the future.

For the next couple of months, though, I’m turning inward. Looking at my own healing, and seeing where the weak spots are. Relearning what I learned from my mentor 14 years ago that put me on this path in the first place. Relearning what I learned 3 years ago when I was charged with creating this practice and guiding people on their journeys.

Relearning the “me” that exists under the years of sludge and other people’s voices. Because I will be far more effective guiding others to learning who they are when I’m doing a more effective job of remembering who I am, and taking care of myself.

Honoring a Need

Today is the third day I sat down to try to write this blog post. And it’s the third day that I looked at my planned topic and my brain said, “Nope, not doing it. Too tired.”

It wasn’t a hugely involved topic. It was more that I wasn’t as clear as I would have liked on what I wanted to say about it, and trying to put words together was resulting in a lot of mental twisting and turning. I’ve also been fighting off a cold (thanks to working in two elementary schools a couple days a week) and, as often happens at a season change, haven’t been sleeping well, so my creativity is not at its peak.

So instead of sitting here forcing the post I’d intended to write, which would have resulted in some half-assing and inaccurate phrasing, and probably in the energetic vibration of “I don’t wanna do this” coming through, at least to those who are sensitive to energy, I chose to write a post about how I’m not writing the post I’d planned. Because I think sometimes we all need the reminder that it’s okay to give our brains a break. It’s okay to say, “I can’t think about this right now,” or “I can’t complete this project this week,” or whatever.

Obviously if it affects your job or interferes with someone else’s needs, you might need to think about it more and maybe do some negotiation or compromise. But the world isn’t going to end because I wrote this blog post instead of the one I’d planned. It won’t end if my post is under 400 words instead of close to 1000.

It won’t end if I take the time to honor what I need.

Sometimes, I think that especially those of us who were brought up to believe we were responsible for everyone else forget that our needs matter too, and that the world doesn’t actually end if we say no to some things. So this is just a reminder for all of us.

And now I’m going to go honor my need for coffee. Because coffee.

I Have a Confession…

I’m human.

You might be thinking, “Well, duh, everyone is human. How is that a confession?”

It’s a confession because sometimes people fall into the trap of believing they have to have all their shit together, or at least had damn well better act like they do. They hide how they’re really feeling. They present a fully-healed, perfect-ish face to the outside. This seems especially true in the coaching and healing industries, where it’s not uncommon to hear “You can’t help others until you’re healed.” So those who want to help others and haven’t finished their own healing *pretend* they have so people will believe they can help.

It doesn’t work that way. Not always. Maybe not even usually. Healing isn’t a thing you reach and that’s the end of it. You make progress. You might be able to shake some of the things that have held you back, and some of the habits and defense mechanisms you’ve developed, but life is an ongoing process, and so is healing.

I grew up with a constant barrage of “What will other people think,” coupled with constant judgment, bullying, and emotional abuse. I tried my hardest to hide all the things that were “wrong” with me so people would like me and wouldn’t treat me like crap. I hid who I truly was because the alternative was to let people actually know me–which would mean they wouldn’t like me, which would mean they might hurt me.

I’ve done a lot of work on myself over the decades. I’ve learned that other people’s opinions of me don’t define me and in the long run don’t matter…but sometimes, I forget that. Sometimes, especially as a healer and coach, I start thinking I have to at least present a fully-healed facade to the world or no one will want to work with me. I bury my struggles so no one will see them and think less of me. Instead of leaning on the people who care about me, I decide I shouldn’t bother them, and just hold everything in until I can’t hold it anymore.

I have depression, anxiety, and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. These are illnesses, and they aren’t going anywhere. There’s no cure. There’s treatment, which is varying levels of effective, and there are management strategies, some of which I’ve learned and some I’ve developed myself, because I know what works for me.

But despite best efforts, sometimes those illnesses flare up, and those are the times I’m most likely to bury things and try to convince myself I can handle everything without help. The demons of screwed-up brain chemistry and brain alterations caused by trauma start whispering to me that I can’t count on anyone else, shouldn’t count on anyone else, and if anyone finds out I’m struggling, they’ll think I’m a whineass. I don’t deserve to be helped, according to those demons. I deserve to feel like crap, and that’s what anyone else would tell me.

Obviously, that isn’t true, but those demons can be pretty damn persuasive.

I have come a very long way in my life. I have done a lot of healing and a lot of work. It isn’t always steady forward progress; most healing isn’t. There will be setbacks and backtracks, and that’s okay. The point is to keep moving as forward as possible, and accept that when the setbacks happen, they don’t equal failure. They equal being human.

Over the past few months, the demons have been especially loud as I’ve tried to get River Flow Healing fully off the ground. This has been due to a combination of the stress of trying to start and run a business, some personal life stressors, and the medication I’m on becoming ineffective, which is a problem because there is a very limited number of medications I can take without adverse reactions. (If you’re someone who doesn’t believe in medication for mental illness, more power to you, but please post on your own venue about your opinion instead of starting an argument here. For me, and for many other people I know, medication is not only beneficial but vital. Nothing works for everyone, everything works for someone. And I have tried treating my illnesses both without and with medications.)

For the past few months, I’ve forgotten to let myself be human. I’ve become convinced that I can’t let anyone see that I’m not fully, perfectly healed, or I’ll never have clients. I’ve shut down and operated on autopilot, compartmentalizing the negative thoughts and emotions instead of managing them.

But I am human. I’m not some magical being who doesn’t experience pain or fear or flashbacks. I’m not here to show others how to become perfect. I started my healing journey at a much lower point and I’ve progressed to where I am now, and I’m continuing to progress, and I’m here to tell and show others how I’ve done it and how they can too. To be a healer, you don’t have to be fully healed. You just have to be more healed than you were, and continuing to work on it.

So yeah. That’s my confession. I’m human. But I’m a human who’s been where you might be, and if you think I can help you, I would love to try.

Much-Needed Respite

Every year for the past few years, in May, I’ve gone to a spiritual event/retreat. Sometimes it’s relaxing. Sometimes, depending on what’s going on in my life, it isn’t.

This year, I wasn’t really looking forward to going because of some issues in my personal life that were taking most of my emotional bandwidth. I almost backed out of going at all, but I’d made some commitments I needed to fulfill during the event, and I don’t break commitments if I can help it. So I went.

One of my commitments was teaching a Chios Energy Healing Level 1 workshop. I’d done the workshop at this event before, a couple of years ago, and was looking forward to sharing Chios with more people. Although fewer people came than I’d hoped, the important thing was people came! And learned, and seemed interested. A few people later mentioned having wanted to go, but they weren’t able to because of scheduling conflicts. So hopefully I’ll be able to offer the workshop again next year.

Aside from that, I wasn’t able to put as much energy into the event as I usually do. My body decided to rebel against me, leading to my needing shuttle rides around the campground where the retreat is held and to my going to bed before 10 every night. (Usually more like 8. Which is earlier than I ever go to bed at home.) During whole-group activities, I had to sit down and observe for the most part, though I was able to take an active role in one.

I wasn’t happy about it. I seriously dislike not being in control of my body, and the pain and exhaustion were beyond my control. But at the same time, at least I was at the retreat. I was able to participate to some extent, and I had plenty of time to reset and relax. Maybe that’s *why* I was exhausted and in pain. Maybe it was the Universe’s way of telling me to use the retreat to slow down and rest for a while.

Sometimes that’s the way things go. If you don’t take the gentle nudges toward the best course for you, the Universe steps in and gives you a not-so-gentle shove.

I came home from the retreat feeling more positive than I had beforehand, and feeling more rested as well. And I’m looking forward to being there again next year.

The Vibrational Cycle

Last week, I talked about energetic vibration and how raising it can help you create a more positive reality for yourself. Energetic vibration doesn’t change on its own. A lot of factors contribute to the health of your energy system, and to your physical and mental health. And they’re all intertwined.

One of the biggest things that can contribute to having a lower vibration is having a depleted or imbalanced energy system. If your chakras are blocked or energy isn’t flowing through them properly, your vibration will be lower. If there are holes in your energy field through which energy is leaking out, you’ll feel run-down, which might lead to you feeling cranky and snapping at people, which will lower your vibration.

Everything works together. You don’t exist in a vacuum, and neither do your energy system, physical and physiological systems, and your mind and emotions. As you go through your day, you’ll encounter and be affected by other humans.

For example, you’re driving to work. Other drivers are on the road. One of those drivers changes lanes suddenly, cutting you off, so you have to slam on your brakes.

If you’re already operating with a depleted or damaged energy system, you’re likely feeling tired and unwell. You’re putting your reserves into getting through the day, so you don’t have anything left over to keep you from losing your temper with the guy who just cut you off.

Adrenaline courses through you, likely along with stress hormones like cortisol, due to the sudden danger of a potential collision. You start yelling and pounding the steering wheel with your fist. Your chest hurts from the sudden tightening of the seat belt when you hit your brakes. People behind you are honking, which just raises your temper even further. How dare they be pissed off at you, when the dipstick in front of you was the one who caused the problem?

On an energetic level, small holes start forming in the energy field around your fist and chest. Your third chakra, which governs emotions, was probably already out of balance, and it goes even further out of balance as you yell and swear. With the rush of adrenaline, your sacral chakra also has gone out of balance. Your head starts aching, with additional damage and effects on your third eye chakra and the energy field around it.

The immediate situation calms down. The dipstick driver has already gone on their merry way, unaware of the issues they caused. This causes you to feel angrier, but you accept you can’t do anything about it. The rush of hormones settles. You take a few deep breaths, stop yelling, and continue on your drive to work.

But all day, you keep thinking about the driver who cut you off, and each time you think about them, your anger rises again. Your headache doesn’t let up, which leads to you feeling more frustrated and impatient than usual with your job or coworkers. By the end of the day, you’re exhausted, you’re pissed off, and all you want to do is go home and hide, except that you have to get through the traffic first, and then you have to deal with whomever you share your home with before you can actually relax.

Quite likely, meanwhile, things have continued going wrong with your day, and each additional piece of stress leaves you feeling angrier, which leaves you feeling more physically run down, which leads to difficulty focusing or handling situations in your job, which leads to even more things going wrong.

Your vibration was already low because general day-to-day stress, lack of attention to your own well-being, forgoing self-care and rest, and other things depleted and unbalanced your energy system. In turn, this affected your physical health and well-being, which affected your ability to manage your emotions effectively. Losing your temper affected you physically and energetically, which impacts your health, which impacts your ability to manage emotions effectively, and round and round it goes. And the lower your vibration goes, the more things that further lower your vibration occur.

To raise your vibration, you need to break the cycle. In the moment, immediately after the driver cuts you off in traffic, it isn’t easy to do this, but you can start by trying to take the deep breaths instead of yelling and swearing. Pull to the side of the road, if you can, and close your eyes for a moment. Say, out loud if you can, “I intend to raise my vibration to higher and higher levels”; it might feel odd, but just stating the intention starts the process.

In the longer term, you can raise your vibration on a more permanent level by having regular energy healing sessions. Just as you need to see your doctor regularly to keep your body functioning at optimal levels, seeing an energy healing practitioner regularly keeps your energy system in balance, and can repair energetic damage and wear and tear before it leads to depletion.

Just as a lower vibration can lead to more things going wrong, a higher vibration can lead to more things going right. You’re putting out positive, healthy energy, which brings positive things to you. Your healthier energy system leads to a healthier mind and body, each of which leads to further health overall.
Find ways to raise your vibration, whether through meditating, spending time in activities that bring you joy, or even daily stating of “I intend to raise my vibration to higher and higher levels. Keep your physical and mental health in good shape through self-care, attention to your basic needs, and regular medical and, if needed, psychological care. And keep your energetic health in good shape through regular energy healing sessions.

I offer Chios Energy Healing sessions in person or by distance, and would love to work with you on raising your vibration and maintaining your energetic health. Visit the Chios Energy Healing page for more information.