Summer Solstice Blessings

Happy Summer Solstice Blessings To YOU!!

A time we celebrate the light, our inner fire, the obstacles we’ve overcome, our community, our power, our gardens as they grow, (maybe some compassion towards the groundhogs that – yes – they live here to, deep breaths), and we commit to taking steps to nourish ourselves and one another!  

Summer Solstice is a time we also honour the tilting of the earth wrapping us in the longest day of sunlight of our calendar year.  We move through the cycles of seasons and witness our own rhythms as they ebb and flow. 

With every sunrise we’re actually offered a new beginning.

I feel like over the past year, we’ve been reminded in numerous ways, to not live with regrets, because wow, the unexpected can occur at any moment.  If you moved through our circle of balance last week, perhaps take that learning and actually make those shifts – or at least baby steps towards them. Regardless of all the confusion around us, you know you can find clarity within. Clarity of YOUR next steps in your life, but first we need to commit to our self care to have the space to hear that guidance. 

I invite you to light a candle today, and honour your connection to the light.  Get your hands and feet in the dirt, and honour your connection to the earth. Honour the goodness inside of you, and the impact you bring forth with your actions. 

Before I close today, I want to remind you of a powerful practice Sat Dharam Kaur shared with me last year at this time. Carve out a little window to consciously reflect and write out 27 visions for the life ahead of you.  Not with the intention of wanting to be somewhere you’re not, but rather as a way of celebrating all the seeds inside of you. Try to nourish them if you can, rather than pushing them deeper into the darkness.  The simpler the seeds the more profound they can actually be. Feel it in your breath and in your bones, see yourself in those moments of your life, remind yourself why life is worth living. 

Happy Solstice, from my heart to yours,

With love

Amber

xo

If you’d like to practice together, I offer weekly live online zoom classes, and as an additional support for you to practice on your own schedule, but together, I’ve created a video library and a monthly video subscription

Click here to find out more details about our Soul Wisdom Cards, including where to purchase your own deck.

Circle Of Balance

As a response to the past few weeks,  I find myself thinking alot about how and where I spend my time and focus my energy.

When I teach breast health and relaxation workshops, this is often something we move through together, or people take home to work with. An important support to revisit on a regular basis in considering your overall health and wellbeing.

What about YOU?  How do YOU spend your time?

As we begin to consider the ways we want to step forward in our lives, perhaps in a new way, it feels like a good time to move through this exercise.

Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them.  In fact I’d try to have nothing else.  Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day

– N. Stair, 85-year-old woman from Kentucky

Before you approach this practice I encourage you to take some time to move your body, in whatever way best supports you.  Turning to your yoga mat, putting on some music that makes your soul happy, going for a walk in the forest, or inviting another form of movement into your body.  Sometimes the safety of your practice gives you the opportunity to release and process wherever you are right now – you have to start where you are.

Once you’ve cleared a bit of space inside of yourself, grab a piece of paper and let’s do some self reflection.

I invite you to draw 2 big circles – one is for your reality now, and one is for your ideal.

Take a bit of time to silently reflect and explore the different roles you play in your life, and the ways you divide your time. Be honest here, remember this is just for you.

You might want to make a list of the things you engage in on a daily or weekly basis,  maybe including things such as;

Play  / Family / Work / Exercise / Relaxation / Time alone / Creativity / Spirituality / School + Study/ Time with friends / Sleep / Prayer / Travel / Chores / Rest / etc….

Now we’re going to divide our circle into a visual reflection of how we spend our time.

Focus on your first circle, drawing pie pieces representing the amount of time you engage in different activities throughout your day.  The size of each piece should be representative of how much time you spend in each activity.  You can either base it on a 24 hour period, or a weekly snapshot.

First I encourage you to write out your actual life experience, then take a few minutes and just sit with that circle of balance.

How do you feel?

Now, I invite you to fill in the second circle with your ideal – how could your pie look different to better support your ability to feel more rested, happier, and more whole.  What can you do to make your actual your ideal?  Set some goals of what you can change to make that happen.

How could you manifest more balance?

In what ways, if at all, are you taking time out for you?

How can you honour all “those roles” into an integrated whole?

Remember this is it, this is the only time you get to experience this life in this particular body, what do you need to do different to honour YOUR needs, YOUR life – this is not being selfish, this is being self respectful.  

I honestly believe we are all meant to be happy.

It’s a good idea to post your ideal circle somewhere to keep you on track with your priorities, this will help you to stay inspired and as a reminder to carve out windows for the things that feed your soul.  Maybe check in next month and see how things in your circle of balance have shifted – or not.

Remember your life is how you perceive it and how you experience it, and the way you spend your time is ultimately always up to you.

I wish you for so much health and happiness

I wish for you to be filled with loving kindness

I wish for you to be peaceful and at ease, I know it’s not always easy, but I wish this for you

And I wish for you to be happy, from deep inside.

With so much love

Amber

xo

Wishing you wellness in body, mind and spirit on your own unique journey, emerging in your own time and honouring the narrative of your life.

If you’d like to practice together, I offer weekly live online zoom classes, and as an additional support for you to practice on your own schedule, but together, I’ve created a video library and a monthly video subscription

The Butterfly And The Cocoon – A Retelling

This morning I find myself reflecting on a story that has been shared with me countless times.  I first read this gem as it was shared by Gurmukh in her book, The 8 Human Talents, and most recently it showed up in my inbox from H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, whose Ashram (Parmarth Niketan) I spent time at on the banks of the Ganges, over a decade ago when I traveled in India and Nepal.

This story reminds me of that journey and the cocoon I traveled through to a deeper place of personal understanding and growth.  It was definitely not a journey of complete ease and comfort  – but incredibly important.  It also reminds me of all the pivotal phases and cocoons of my life – including the one we are currently collectively moving through, in our present life experience.

It is an honour to pass this story on to you now for our wellness reflection this week, perhaps familiar to you, and like me, maybe arriving at a time when a retelling would be helpful.

Stories contain medicine, and it is the passing of stories from generation to generation, where so many gems that help us make sense of our own lives, are found.  I hope you will always share your stories, and listen to those that come to you – those born from your own life and those shared with you through time.

“There was once a man who noticed an intricately woven cocoon on a tree outside his home. He carefully watched the cocoon every day in order to catch the first glimpse of the precious butterfly he knew would one day emerge.  With excitement, the day had arrived, he saw a tiny hole in the cocoon which grew quickly as the hours passed. He sat watching the butterfly navigate its way out of the cocoon. Suddenly he noticed that it seemed the butterfly had stopped making progress. The hole did not get any larger and the butterfly seemed to be stuck. The cocoon was bouncing up and down on the branch as the butterfly tried to squeeze itself unsuccessfully, through the hole that it had created.

The man watched in dismay as it seemed the butterfly would not be able to emerge. Not knowing what to do, but feeling like he needed to step in, he took a small pair of scissors and carefully cut the cocoon, allowing the butterfly to emerge easily.

However, instead of soaring gracefully into the sky, the butterfly immediately dropped to the ground.

He noticed that the butterfly’s stomach was swollen and distended but its wings were small and shriveled, unable to fly. He assumed that after some time, the stomach would shrink and the wings would expand, and this precious being would fly in its fullest glory.

However, this was never to be.

The man didn’t know that it was the very act of forcing one’s body through the tiny hole in the cocoon which would push all the fluid from the stomach into the wings. Without that external pressure, the stomach would always be swollen and the wings would always be shriveled.”

In life we often avoid challenges, sometimes consciously – and sometimes unconsciously, looking for the easy way out.  We look for people who will ‘cut our cocoons,’ so that we maybe don’t have to work quite as hard and push our way through.

However, little do we realize that it is going through those times of difficulty which prepare us for what lays ahead.  As we overcome the obstacles that present themselves on our path and grow through their lessons, with our own internal resources, they enable us to fly and sometimes offer us opportunities to expand our wings to great unimaginable lengths.

I think perhaps this story also offers a gentle reminder that you need time for self-nurturance and to consider your own needs for care, this is how you build your resources, so you can squeeze through those small holes.  It’s important to acknowledge your vulnerabilities and accept the strength and support of your community, your heart tribe;  and from that supported place, we rise from the strength that lives deep inside of us.

I don’t think the man in this story realized how powerful and supportive his simple presence was, that was all that was needed.  I think often that’s all any of us truly need, safe space to process whatever it is we’ve been handed on our life’s journey.

My soul support is here holding you, honouring your deep internal strength –  trust in who you are at your core, I’m just offering you a gentle reminder.

Much love

Amber

xo

If you’d like to practice together, I offer weekly live online zoom classes, and as an additional support for you to practice on your own schedule, but together, I’ve created a video library and a monthly video subscription

Wishing you wellness in body, mind and spirit on your own unique journey, emerging in your own time.

Photo by EDD Sylvia Nenntwich on Pexels.com

 

After A While

After a while you will learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and changing a soul

You will learn that love doesn’t mean leaning and company doesn’t mean security

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises

And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open, with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child

And you build all your roads on today, because tomorrows ground is uncertain for plans

After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get to much

So plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers

And learn that you really can endure, that you really are strong

And you really do have worth

– Anonymous

This piece was given to me when I was 19, and leaving the house I grew up in, almost 30 years ago.   I think I’m starting to finally understand.

Take a bit of time to simply sit with this piece, a little time for self reflection.  Notice whatever arises.

The more we can practice self acceptance and understanding, the easier it is to breathe, and  in time grow a little more fully into the person we’re here to be.

The world needs YOU, underneath all the layers life has thrown on you.

Thank you for sharing this little window with me

Much love

Amber

xo

If you’d like to practice together, I offer weekly live online zoom classes, and as an additional support for you to practice on your own schedule, but together,  I’ve created a video library and a monthly video subscription

Wishing you wellness in body, mind and spirit on your own unique journey.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

 

 

Finding Space – Wednesday Wellness Reflection

Sometimes in the sleepless nights seeds are planted.   These days sleep is definitely a rare commodity,  however I’m finding if I can stop tossing and turning and resisting the consistent wake ups, I notice ideas start to flow in, priorities become obvious and greater clarity around where there needs to be space in my own life is put on centre stage in the meandering of my thoughts.

It’s really easy to hold off on all the uncomfortable things and to keep spinning our wheels, during those windows of our lives we often hold the shields a little closer to our bodies.  There comes a point when it’s imperative to create some space between your body and the protection so you can breathe and truly discover who you even are and what you need – independent of everyone else’s ideas.  I love the image of a bed of moss surrounding my own body, moving with my breath – rather than preventing it,  and being permeable to a healthy flow of what is needed both within and without.

As I write this, the birds are just waking up and the early hours of dawn are approaching.  I feel sleepy, but alive and grateful for the magic of our natural world as I gaze out my window.  I am a part of it all, and I realize that a little bit more every day.  The treasures we find outside in our natural world are also found within, but again we need the space to discover, and remember, what those are.

I just finished reading the book Big Magic (Thank you Sarah and Nicki), by Elizabeth Gilbert.  There is a quote that really resonated with me, and I’ve posted it up in my office as a daily reminder.

“…because your life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous, and you want to do really interesting things and make really interesting things while you’re still here…….

It’s what we all want.

And you have treasures hidden within you – extraordinary treasures – and so do I, and so does everyone around us.  And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small”

Ahhhh I get goosebumps when I read this.  And those treasures – they may be the simplest offerings; your nourishing and simple vegetable garden, your rose bush, or your incredible cookies that you bake, the way you listen, or the one poem that needed to be written in your lifetime, the care of your children (human and nonhuman), or perhaps the strumming of your guitar played quietly for your soul and your soul alone. The simple treasures are often the most miraculous, remember that.

Elizabeth’s words remind me to stay connected with the moss, making space for my personal practice, reminding me of the magic inside of me –  and you.  It reminds me to listen with all that I am when the birds sing, to breathe fully and completely with every cycle of breath, and to open my eyes with the wonder of a child as the daffodils emerge from their winter slumber – before they fade away.

As my mom fades away, I am reminded of my brief visit here on this earth – in this body, with these unique gifts, for this cycle of my life.  It’s my choice how I show up, and the space I let myself inhabit.

I ask you to find some space to breathe between the shields life hands you, maybe imagine them as a bed of moss wrapping you in love, and offering you protection in a way that doesn’t force you to stop breathing – but rather to start being. 

Taking time to honour the earth as we celebrate Earth Day tomorrow , giving gratitude for the trees who support us to breathe.  David Attenborough reminds us the Earth will continue long after we’re gone, so let’s recommit to our care and stewardship of our home  while we’re here, as we discover our magic during our time here.

Much love. always

Amber

If you’d like to practice with me I teach weekly live online zoom classes , and as an additional support for you to practice on your own schedule I’ve created a video library and a monthly video subscription

Don’t ever hesitate to reach out, my support is here holding you in my heart.

Photo by Jasmin Mori

Diving Deeper Into Reciprocity – Wednesday Wellness Reflection

By definition reciprocity is a process of exchange in order to gain a mutual benefit.   This action oriented energy plays an important role in the development and continuation of relationships, and it ensures that; people, other animals, the land, our environment, recieve help when they need it and that we too recieve help when we need it.

When I think about reciprocity on a personal level, I find motivation from an innate place of compassion and kindness, knowing that we’re all part of the whole.  When we take care of our neigbours and the land we call home we can also acknowledge that we are offering care to ourselves,  when our motivation rests in the betterment of the greater good, reciprocity naturally happens.

It’s easy to lose ourselves in the I, sometimes forgeting about our responsiblity to the we.

Have you ever considered gratitude as an offering of reciprocity?  Waking up and acknowledging what you’re grateful for in your life, you’re offering the energy of your heart as an exchange, a form of reciprocity, and the wheel continues to spin. The more we acknowledge and give our thanks, the more we also start to care and take action to make sure we continue to have forests we can walk  through, oxygen to breathe, soil that nourishes our vegetables, a community to call on when we too need help.

We are all interdependent and I think during this global pandemic we have been given the opportunity to become acutely aware of how interdependent we truly are.

I have a sweet little reflection to share with you, when I think about reciprocity. When we moved out to the country, I started feeding the deers that we share this forest with. Why some of you may ask, because I wanted to see the deers, I wanted my children to see the deers.  They never came, but I kept feeding them.  As I started to develop a relationship with my surroundings, I started to also develop a deeper sense of gratitude for the wonders of the forest, this land, and a relationship with the creatures I share this home with.

Slowly, without even knowing it was happening, things started to change on the inside for me.

One day in my meditation, I looked deeper, considering my intention behind offering food to these four legged creatures.  I realized I actually feed the deers because I am grateful they share their home with me.  I know they often have a short life, and I want it to be a good life, because all of life is sacred.  I want them to know they can seek refuge here, in their home.  I still feed the deer, and from time to time they offer me a glimpse and sometimes even peer into our window – as curious about us, as we are about them.  When I leave the food now, I give thanks without any expectations, it is my way of saying thank you to the land and all of the creatures for letting me rest here during my brief window of time upon this earth.  Reciprocity.

I will nourish the soil so the earth continues to thrive and in exchange that same soil, from the earth, will nourish the seeds I plant for my family to thrive.  Reciprocity.

Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass goes with me everywhere I go at the moment.  Elizabeth Gilbert was spot on when she described this book as a love hymn for the earth. It is a lullaby of reciprocity for all the wonders around us.  I strongly recommend you get your hands on a copy and read it, and then read it again.

I commit to nurturing the land, to supporting all of life, to help it to thrive – I know in my heart, it’s my responsibility while I’m here.

The moral covenant of reciprocity calls us to honor our responsibilitys for all we have been given, for all that we have taken.   It’s our turn now, long overdue.  Let us hold a giveaway for Mother Earth, spread our blankets out for her and pile them high with gifts of our own making.  Imagine the books, the paintings, the poems, the clever machines, the compassionate acts, the transcendent ideas, the perfect tools.  The fierce defense of all that has been given.  Gifts of mind, hands, heart, voice, and vision all offered up on behalf of the earth.  Whatever our gift, we are called to give it and to dance for the renewal of the world. 

In return for the privilege of breath. 

– Robin Wall Kimmerer (Braiding Sweetgrass)

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Much love

Amber

xo

If you’d like to practice with me I teach weekly online zoom classes , as well, as a response to COVID, I have been working on creating a video library and a weekly video subscription.

Don’t ever hesitate to reach out, my support is here holding you in my heart.

The Kindness Of Strangers – Wednesday Wellness Reflection

My first Ontario winter living out in the country, and some days the snow doesn’t stop falling.

We make decisions sometimes; stop at the corner store, run that extra errand, or perhaps to stop and check the mail on the way home.  I decided to stop and check the mail a few short days ago.  Driving on our country roads you need to pull over to hug the edge as another car comes to pass, and sometimes that hug can pull us right in.

Within seconds, me alongside my two little companions, found ourselves in the ditch.  Over the years, and especially over the past year as we’ve navigated the pandemic, I have come to  realize how much we need eachother.  How much all of life, needs eachother.

Reciprocity.

The kindness of everyone who passed, offering their help.  A beautiful young soul drove the 15 minutes away to borrow his grandmothers tractor.  I didn’t know if he was going to come back, trusting……surrendering into the ditch, breathing with my companions………….and trusting.  When did we stop dropping everything to help one another, especially when we need it the most.  Or when did that become a rare occurence.  I have shared this story with a few friends and I am surprised at how shocked they are by the kindness of strangers.   Once upon a time, there was no question, we helped without hesitation.

Suddenly, we saw the tractor meandering along the snow covered country roads, and this incredible experience of joy bubbled up from inside of me.  Who knew a tractor could bring so much relief and so much happiness (I guess it depends on who you ask).  I turned to my 11 year old son and asked him what he thought I should do to thank this caring young man, in his wise 11 years of life he asked me

Why would you need to do anything? 

If you gave him something in return for his offer of help, he would feel obligated to do the same if he ever needed help, can’t you just say thank you and accept the help?  If you gave him money, he would feel bad asking for help if he didn’t have money.  You would want the same if the situation were reversed. 

Mom, just promise to pay it forward. 

Ahhh my eyes filled with tears, and it made me sad that in our society there are often strings attached, the simple kindness of strangers – helping eachother because it’s why we’re here – at the base of it all, how can we be of service to the greater whole, for no other reason than our innate nature to care.

I am so grateful, and will never walk away when someone has fallen.  This doesn’t have to look big, and there needn’t ever be an expectation of anything in return.  It’s why we’re here.  In community we all do our part, we bring our strengths to the table and we offer our gifts.  Those gifts are anything from knowing how to drive a tractor and having an open heart to help the lady and her 2 children as  they find themselves stuck in a ditch with no way out, to offering a love filled soup to nourish your family or your neighbour, fixing a pipe, finding a book off a shelf for someone, or writing a masterpiece as a creative expression of your soul and balm for the soul of others…….

Reciprocity; nurturing the circle of helping hands, we offer from a place of compassion and gratitude, and we learn to accept, and the circle continues.

This week I ask you to take a bit of time to ponder a few thoughts

  • How would you respond if someone needed help, a stranger?  In small and big ways?
  • How have you recieved the support of someone else’s kindness, often in unexpected ways?
  • What does community mean to you, and what do you think your offering to your community is?
  • What does reciprocity mean to you? What might that look like in your own life?
  • Consider deep gratitude and appreciation as a form of reciprocity.
  • What are you grateful for today?

I’m grateful for tractors, for a lovely young man who offered help, for the snow and the ditch that offered me this learning, and I’m grateful I live in such a special community.

Thank you for taking the time to share my thoughts today, as I watch the snow continue to fall outside my window.

Much love

Amber

xo

COVID, Kids and all the feelings

Written by Nicki Gallo (as published in the June edition of the HUMM)

There’s this exercise that I like do when I work with kids. It helps us to explore how our feelings are something that we experience in our bodies as well as our minds. First, I give the child a piece of paper with the outline of a person. I ask them to colour the location on the body where they feel certain emotions and match it with a colour. For example, they may feel red – anger in their hands “I’m so mad I could punch someone!” Or feel yellow – nervousness in their bellies “I have butterflies in my tummy!” 

Nicki_June_Humm_PictureSometimes, a child may fill the outline of the person with one colour, but this may not match what behaviour is happening on the outside. For example, the child could be acting out with angry temper tantrums or be completely withdrawn, however their outline is covered in just one emotion: fear.  

Anger and disengagement can mask more vulnerable and raw emotions like sadness or fear. 

When I personally take the time to shave down the layers of an emotional outburst, it usually comes down to “I’m scared.” 

This may not be the reality in every case; however, it can give us insight into what may be happening under the surface. 

This is an unfamiliar and uncertain time. Children are extremely empathic and can pick up on the stress that this virus is having on our daily lives. It’s often scarier when things aren’t being said as they can tell that the energy has shifted, but they don’t know why. With the recent news of schools in Ontario not returning this year, despite initial excitement, this can be scary and a big loss for kids. Loss of routine can mean a loss of control. 

We may all be feeling a lot of big complicated emotions right now and not know how to express them. What we are feeling on the inside may not be what we are expressing on the outside. 

How can we help our children increase their emotional vocabulary and express feelings in a positive way?  How can we do the same as adults? 

Here are a few ideas that may work with kids and kids at heart:

Name it to Tame it

The idea “name it to tame it” is a strategy to help make sense of our experience and feel more in control. When big emotions are out of control (right-brain) telling the story of what’s upsetting us (logical left-brain), integrates the brain, names the fears and helps to tame them. 

Rose, Bud, Thorn

Many of our routines have disappeared. Having a simple daily check-in with each other is a great way to put words to emotions. A popular check-in tool is “Rose, Bud, Thorn.” This is good to do at dinner time or at the end of the day.  

Rose: share your favourite part of the day

Bud: share something you are looking forward to doing tomorrow

Thorn: share your least favourite part of the day

Play!

Some of the best conversations take place while doing something else. Play is a child’s language and sometimes, to talk about big feelings, it’s easier to play while doing it. We can gain insight into their inner worlds or it may just be a great way to distract ourselves. Doing activities your kids like to do makes them feel connected and more secure. This goes for adults too. 

Providing space for kids to express themselves and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel a lot of feelings right now is a wonderful way to support them in this bizarre time we’re in. 

Nicki2Nicki Gallo is a Certified Play Therapist. She runs play and creativity workshops and is not afraid to use glitter. She is a retired Toronto SickKids Hospital therapeutic clown and is currently creating online content to help children recognize and express emotions with her new clown, Emerald. You can check out the videos here.

We are super excited to have Nicki joining our collective.  She’ll be helping to support and assist in making sure we can continue to offer you inspiring and educational events and community initiatives (as soon as we’re able to).  Nicki is excited to be offering amazing workshops and one on one sessions to support families and individuals in our community.  She is magic and reminds us to stay connected to our inner spark of joy and play, she looks forward getting to know you better!

 

Resources: Anxiety Canada, About Kids Health/Covid19, Child Mind Institute

The Healing Power Of Touch

You Are Beautiful, and I am so grateful you exist!!

Welcome to your Wednesday Wellness Reflection,

A little exploration on the importance of healing touch during a time much of our world is deprived of positive physical contact.

Compassionate touch is one of the most sacred ways we can connect as beings; it allows us to move beyond the physical barriers we create and respond to each other in a deeply nourishing and healing way.

As the number of cases of illness in all of its forms increases in our world, there also exists an increased need to connect in this heartfelt healing and loving way, especially as we navigate a world where physical contact has been greatly withdrawn over the past year.  We are coming through a very fear infused and touch deprived chapter in many of our lives.

Touch given with a therapeutic and compassionate  intention has the potential to affect an individual physically, emotionally, and spiritually; it can soothe physical pain; and also create space for the mind to come to a place of stillness and acceptance.  Through simply being present with an individual and offering comfort, not ignoring their pain or even necessarily trying to fix their condition, an environment for a deeper level of healing is fostered.

When I began giving massage therapy to individuals with cancer, through complex care and at end of life; it increased my understanding of human suffering and the ways in which it is a shared suffering.  I have also witnessed the incredible impact touch can have on an individual when one meets them in this place.

My hands have made contact with a person and the separation between us seems to dissolve. I have physically felt and seen peoples bodies soften and rest into the support of the therapeutic massage, the healing intention and my hands.  I have watched their breath become deeper and more restful as they respond while the treatment helps to soothe their pain – on a physical and an emotional level.  It is in these moments that I truly understand the phenomenal power of touch.

Massage is a safe therapy to receive with many conditions, however this does not negate that there are important considerations when receiving treatment.  It is important to ensure you work with someone who understands pathology and the changing needs of the body.  With careful modifications, a well-trained and educated therapist can provide massage during diagnosis, during medical treatment, when in remission, through palliative care with a terminal diagnosis and through survivorship.

The benefits, which I have witnessed first hand, are invaluable. Reflecting on my clinical experience over the past 20 years, as well as reference to the reputable studies that have successfully been done, massage has helped people with; pain management, anxiety, depression, disconnection from the body and/or from people, self esteem, body image, muscular tension, stiffness and pain, nausea, fatigue and feelings of isolation or loneliness. It can also help with the emotional impact of the awareness of a problem that needs care, and a diagnosis of any type.

When I enter a therapeutic relationship I also often find that a primary goal of our time together, is to support the reintegration of a person, reminding them that they are so much more than a diagnosis, so much more.  Often what is needed most is a safe place to rest, to offer comfort, to offer positive and very human care, and to help with symptom relief specific to the individual

Massage  and therapeutic touch have the potential to be such a healing and supportive addition to a persons circle of care.  Every person is unique, and every person’s story is unique, which needs to be deeply honoured regardless of what a person is going through.  The experiences and the stories I have been privileged to share with people through my hands and my heart have shaped me as a massage therapist, as a yoga teacher and how I experience life as a whole.

General guidelines of important medical areas to discuss with your therapist would look something like this:

(adapted from Tracy Walton’s “Massage therapy for people with cancer:  Fear and Healing”)

  • Whether/how/where issue is currently manifesting
  • Current or past  treatments (surgery/radiation/chemo/bone marrow transplant/etc.), side effects, complications, and discuss how this will be considered in the massage treatment
  • Discuss lymph node involvement and risk of lymphodema
  • Discuss medications and their effects
  • Discuss if dialogue with your medical doctor would be appropriate and necessary, based on your health history, status, and stage of progression.
  • A continued update to any changes in your health is essential, and it is also necessary to check your response to every massage treatment to ensure you are always getting the best possible care.
  • Most importantly, how YOU are

This is definitly a simplification and a general look at some key specific medical areas that need to be covered when you have a more complex condition and you’re seeing a massage therapist for the first time. Not all areas noted above will be relevant to everyone, and in other people there will be a need to expand on the complexity of the above information.  When these concerns are discussed openly and honestly between you and your therapist, there will be a greater sense of trust and the treatment can proceed with more confidence for everyone involved.

The gift of touch is shared, as is the suffering, and connecting in this way can pave the path for true compassion and healing.  It is my hope that we as a society will not continue to embrace the fear of the unknown or the fear of illness, but rather embrace the mystery and humanness of life.  There is a sacred element in sharing this journey with others through touch.  The people that I have worked with have allowed me to integrate the beauty and the intuition of massage, but also to deeply respect the science behind massage, the body and disease and to see how massage can positively affect a person when the bridge between the science and the art are joined in a mindful way.

With a deep respect for the human body, and the safe spaces where we can put ourselves back together again,

Much love, Amber

(This is a modified piece I wrote –  honouring where we find ourselves in the present,  previously published with the Victoria Cancer Resource Center newsletter, and the East Coast massage network conference publication on cancer and massage)

Wednesday Wellness Reflections

Wow, 2020,  this has been a year a year of passionate reflection, understanding my own guiding principles and a continuous recommitment to being and doing my best.  This has been a year of accepting, doing what can be done out of service to one another and our community, as well as a year of learning, definitely unlearning and relearning in an effort to try and make sense of it all.  I know this continues.

Like many of you, I am exhausted and tired, looking forward to the pause between 2020 and 2021.  I am grateful to my family, my friends, my inspirations and strong anchors who have encouraged me to keep going with courage, and to all of the people who helped us get through this year – from health professionals and essential workers to anti-racism organizers, and the pillars in our community that kept showing up because they knew it was important.

I’m grateful to our community, deep in my heart, I am grateful.

I sincerely hope you’re doing well.

Taking lots of time for introspection these days, reflecting on all that has happened and allowing time for healthy integration.

A few things to ponder:

What was your biggest learning from 2020?

What is important for you to repattern in your own life as we enter this next chapter in our lives?

What brings you joy, and how can you cultivate more of that in 2021?

Surya Daya was definitely not immune to the effects of Covid – 19.  Looking back at this past year, I can’t help but take a big deep breath as I too process all the change.

Many of our teachers stepped away from teaching to focus on their families and personal lives, after paying overhead for 3 months with the initial forced closure the reality of our lived experience amidst the pandemic hit and I realized we needed to vacate our sacred little studio space with rising costs and an uncertain future – creating an online yoga hub in this little pocket of the internet.

A few of us shifted gears to offer some zoom classes, which a few classes continue as an anchor for students.  I am surprised how comforting it is to be able to come together and practice in this way.

A collective of us came together during the summer and offered a special outdoor series called Under The Oak Yoga, at a dear friends sacred outdoor space.  Ahhh still breathing in the medicine from that wise old Oak.

I was able to offer some free community outdoor summer classes in partnership with Carebridge, The Mississippi Mills Youth Centre, and Ocean Bridge, as well as some small forest classes.  We offered a few karma classes; supporting local families, our local Food Bank and most recently, holding an online restorative yoga class on Christmas eve for Interval House (where we were able to raise $350 for this very needed resource).  Thank YOU, beyond words, thank YOU.

I am grateful for all of these opportunities to come together in community, through outdoor classes, online offerings, videos, and back doing my massage work.   I am repeatedly reminded that we live in such a special town.

As I think back over the past year, I am also reminded of the quote by Theodore Roosevelt, which Brene Brown often refers to

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…..”

Perhaps we could all bring this appreciation into 2021.  We’re all just doing our best, remember that, be gentle with yourself and those around you, we’re all just doing our best in new territory and during  this confusing chapter in our lives.

The future is so uncertain but I know in my heart that something beautiful and strong will be born from all of this.

Life has changed for each of us, please know I hold that in my heart for each of you.

Due to the impact of COVID 19 all passes can be used towards our online zoom classes, or email me and  I can send you links in lieu of classes for access to recorded yoga sessions.  I think the need for creativity is definitely needed here.

We’re unable to carry passes forward from Rising Sun as that was a very different chapter in the history of yoga in Almonte, one we’re unable to carry forward.

We’re also unable to offer refunds for passes, due to the financial impact of COVID on our studio.  For this we are grateful for your understanding.  Your passes will remain in our system and our support continues to be here for you,  and we encourage you to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.  Things are continually changing, for us too.

I too am learning to truly live and focus on the now of my life.

We hope you can find it in your hearts to understand our situation amongst this global crises, 11 months later.

I wish for each of you a peaceful winter, and a new year filled with ease, health, vitality and prosperity. 

I miss our in studio class sessions, so much, and look forward to holding that space again one day.

With so much love, and respect for each of you,

Amber

If you want to practice with Amber on your own schedule, in the comfort of your own home, consider subscribing to her exlusive weekly wellness capsules and practice videos.  To find out more click here

Photo credits to Jasmin Mori