How to get the most our of your massage…

How to get the most out of your massage

There are many different opinions and thought processes around receiving massage. Most clients know the general protocol for getting a massage. However, there are things that may never cross a client/patient’s mind that allow them to get the absolute most out of their massage. There are things that massage therapists wish the client knew or would take into consideration. Sometimes we just don’t have the courage to communicate with our patients. This is a short article with a few pointers and wishes from your therapist to assist you in getting everything you can out of your 60 minutes of happiness. These are things gathered from therapists around lower Michigan, this doesn’t mean YOUR massage therapist believes in all of these but it may open a conversation and help you become aware of the things they might. 

Your therapist wishes you knew…

-That removing all jewelry is very helpful. Even the necklace you haven’t taken off in 10 years. If you are open to removing all jewelry it can really assist and improve your massage session. When a massage stroke hits a piece of jewelry it can be awkward and the pressure of the stroke is broken up. This also affects the muscle as we could not work the muscle through its entirety in our stroke. If you are not removing jewelry because it is hard to put back on, ask us for help! We would love to assist you. 

-That putting your hair up is a lifesaver. Real truth here, some therapists say they are indifferent, but deep down it can be very challenging. The hair constantly gets caught up in our fingers as we try to work the neck, making it awkward as we try not to pull your hair, finish the massage stroke and detangle our fingers at the same time. Neck pain is so common and we want to work that area well, so put your hair up if you can and let us work some magic. 

-We don’t mind talking and sometimes you need to vent, but your body can soften, release tension and relax better if the mind is involved in what’s happening in the body and not the head while talking. Staying quiet and concentrating on relaxing your muscles and mind during massage is a game changer. Contracting or hardening the muscles during the massage can be counterproductive. If you are tightening because pressure is too much let your therapist know, this is your time. If it is hard for you to stay quiet in general and your mind races, one way to be more body-centered is to tune into the hands that are working on you and focus on how the touch feels and how it is affecting the muscle. Breath awareness and listening into the music can help to. This is a team effort, your therapist can only do so much if you’re not participating in the massage as well. Which brings me to the next wish.

-This is a team effort. Your massage therapist is one person on a team of two. The client has a role and expectation and so does the therapist. Massage is great for a lot of things and sometimes it can be so helpful. However, there are many different systems of the body that can be triggering your pain and it may not be a muscle issue. So check in with your expectations, communicate them with your therapist and work together to make the dream work. So you have expectations for your massage and so does your therapist. We want you to take care of yourself outside of just getting a massage. That includes the stretches, the homework, and the professional referrals. Coming back month after month and not changing anything besides getting a massage will only help so much. Pain free life comes from many different factors and massage is just one of them. So put in as much or more effort than your therapist. We are just one of the many puzzle pieces to the issue.

-Okay, here comes a big one. Let’s talk about DEEP TISSUE. What I have found is when a client says I like deep tissue work a lot of them actually don’t. What they want and like is someone to be intentional with them, they want someone who is working with their muscles intentionally AND someone who is present during the massage. Now some people do love an intentional deep tissue massage and that is fine. However, make sure you communicate with your therapist what you really want. Present, intentional work from a therapist CAN feel like deep tissue because you sense the effort that is occurring from your therapist. You really FEEL the tender areas because the therapist is present and in-tune with your body, and they are hitting all the right areas. What I have found is that deep tissue can be translated to “I want to feel like you’re putting effort into this time and into my body”. So yes maybe you do love deep tissue or maybe you just want an intentional and present therapist. The reason why this is so important is because we can push and push and push but if the therapist isn’t present AND if the client isn’t present or if they are contracting because it’s too much then no good is going to come from the pushing. The therapist may be pushing and pushing because that’s what you asked for but that doesn’t mean the right work is getting done.

-More Deep Tissue talk. Most muscles are like silly putty, if you go in hard the muscle becomes rigid and then we are locked out from making any change in the tension of the tissue. So if your therapist starts off softer, know that we are trying to soften the muscle so we can apply more pressure when needed and make the changes we would like to!

Okay! I hope that brought you a different perspective on being a client and I really hope it assists you in getting the most out of your therapeutic massage. Remember not all therapists hold these beliefs and others may have different perspectives. This is just a list gathered from the experience of massage therapists from southern Michigan. Until next time!

Austeen

15 Minutes or Less

I used to work on an ambulance. Today, my mind slipped into memories of fear and anxiety. Each memory, each person, each experience stamped into my nervous system like a never-ending dream. I had run through maybe 5 different traumatizing experiences before I realized I had gone down the rabbit hole. I blinked, shook my head a few times trying to focus on something in front of me to stop the replaying of sirens in my ears. I could feel my body responding as if I was back in those past memories were happening now, in the present moment. My heartbeat had quickened from its steady 60 beats per minute, my eyes dilated, my breath quickened, my entire body was hypersensitive ready to react. I took a few deep belly breaths to bring me back from the past. Man, I was swept underneath again. When these moments happen, it can be really hard to break free from the grasp of the nervous system. These moments happen less and less frequently, but each time one memory stands out, it comes to life even after I’ve pulled myself from its depths.  

It was a sunny morning, another 5:30am start time, I clocked in as normal, we powered up the bus (ambulance) and rolled out to our usual spot. We sat for a few hours, shooting the shit and eating our breakfast. A call comes over the radio. It’s a transport from Bixby to Ann Arbor. We both let out a sigh, we always get stuck with the transfers. I start the engine and start to follow the GPS system on the ambulance. I had always had trouble following along with the blue line on the dashboard that took us to our destination, it lagged and the spacing wasn’t always right between roads. We made it anyhow, it was a basic transfer so I stayed in the back, took vitals and made the patient as comfortable as I could. We pulled into Ann Arbor, completed the transfer and away we went. We headed back out to the ambulance; it was my turn to drive. My partner looked at me and said, “okay, we need to get out of here as fast as possible, we don’t want to get caught running calls in Ann Arbor all day”. I threw the beast in drive and looked at my GPS screen and made a bee line for Lenawee County.  No sooner than 5 minutes down the road we got a 911 call for a male patient with seizure-like symptoms. My partner gives me a look, like “I told you so”. I flip on the lights and sirens and make way towards the address. He pulls us both out a pair of black gloves and throws them on the dash. We pull into an apartment complex; I turn off the sirens and see PD (police department) waving me to a door. I pull the bus up, grab my radio, grab my gloves and head out towards the back of the ambulance. We were then greeted by a frantic mother and a seizing infant. My heart dropped to my gut, it didn’t say the age on the call but my partner and I both assumed we were walking into an adult patient not a pediatric. It didn’t matter, we had to move. The paramedic grabbed the mom and baby, hopped into the back of the ambulance and started his assessment. I followed. Not 1 minute into the assessment the paramedic turns to me and grabs me by the shirt, I can see the panic in his eyes. No one wants to lose someone but especially not a pediatric patient. He tells me, “Drive, follow the GPS as best as you can. Get us to the hospital, if you don’t make it there in 15 minutes we will lose this one.” You can probably imagine what I felt like, except I just went numb. I didn’t say a thing, just turned around, got into the ambulance and started driving. I must have looked like I had it together, but on the inside I felt a heaviness unlike anything I had felt before. I started to drive, the GPS said I would arrive in 18 minutes. That wasn’t fast enough, I knew I would have to make up time and drive fast without throwing the back of the ambulance around so he could still tend to the patient. Those first few minutes of driving are black, I don’t remember anything, but when the memory comes rushing back, I remember coming to with the feeling of my hand slamming on the horn trying to get cars out of the way as I rushed onto the highway. From there my vision starts to sharpen, I feel like a crazy maniac, my senses on overload, making adjustments on the road every second that would hopefully give us more time. A stroke of luck, time travel, God, whatever you want to call it, we had more time. I was ahead of schedule. I pulled off the highway, cars frantically making their way to the sides of the road as we came wailing behind them. Then I look at the GPS, that fucking GPS, the one that I had trouble reading, the one that lagged. I had never taken this way to the hospital and had no idea where I was, and the GPS WAS LAGGING. I had no idea what my next move was and I was almost in tears thinking we could lose precious time turning around if I missed a turn. All of a sudden I see the blue arrow pop up on my screen, it’s a slight turn right, a slight turn right IMMEDIATELY. My gut drops, if I miss this slight right we lose time, and if I look to my right and the lane next to me isn’t clear I’ll miss the turn. I was going too fast to jam the brakes and still make the turn. I didn’t have my blinker on because I didn’t know I had to turn until the GPS caught up with me and maybe the cars to my right didn’t think they needed to get over because my blinker wasn’t on. It all happened so fast, praying there were no cars next to me I looked in my mirror. My stomach fell to the floor, there were cars in the lane to my right, but thankfully they were all pulling off to the side. I took my chance, a slight right turn of the wheel and I didn’t miss it. 

I can’t even tell you how many times that slight right has played back in my head, if I had waited ONE SECOND longer we would have missed it, missed the turn, missed the chance to save this life. I keep telling myself, but you didn’t miss it. You didn’t miss it, you pulled up to the hospital, the infant was rushed in and a flood of doctors took over. I never heard whether or not he made it. I share this because sharing is healing and this has obviously had a big impact. Actually emergency medicine has in many ways with many different experiences made an impact on my life. I think I would be a very different person if I stayed in the field, I appreciate all of you out there risking your mental health to serve this world. There have been times in the emergency medical world where my own colleagues have put me down, told me I was dirt and to not get in their way. I have been verbally sexually harassed and scared shitless when my patient is a 6’4” muscular male strapped to the cot with severe mental health issues and is constantly trying to break free and wreak havoc to anyone close to him. I am still processing my many experiences, even in the short time I had made emergency medicine my career. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for listening and allowing me to be heard. I needed it. I need to voice this out loud but I’m not quite ready yet, so here it is in writing. I don’t know what would have happened if I had missed that slight right or if the GPS wouldn’t have caught up to itself or if the cars to my right hadn’t gotten over. But they did and that’s all I keep telling myself, but even then, even though it’s in the past that sinking, devastating feeling I had during the 1 to 2 seconds still stays with me…. I still ask what if…

Developing a Morning Form

Tools to develop a morning yoga practice

Let me start this by saying I hated doing yoga in the morning, I would run away from morning yoga schedules whenever I could. I was so stiff and could barely access some of the poses I could do in the afternoon. I always thought my morning practice should look like my afternoon practice. Since the quarantine, I’ve been showing up twice a day on my yoga mat for the last three weeks, and I am discovering myself in an incredibly new way. What I want to share with you is my morning form. It’s crazy to me that I have a morning practice, I never thought I would, I always said, “morning yoga isn’t for me”. The morning has become this place where I do my self-care, some days it’s foot massages, some days it’s planks, some days it’s long stretches and holds, some days it’s writing, some days it’s anger, and some days I don’t even know what it is. I can tell you the difference that I have felt in my body and the clarity in my mind for showing up for my morning form practices. This practice lasts between 5 and 30 minutes each morning. My second practice is usually in the afternoon and lasts between 30-45 minutes. It’s so freeing to just show up to your mat and then just decide what your practice is going to look like based on your internal landscape that day. I have released the idea that it needs to be a certain thing or look a certain way. Ah! I’m so happy that I have truly let the idea of what it “should be” drop away. I have rekindled my relationship with my mat. I know all things have cycles, and the last 4 months have been what feels like to me, a “winter” with my own practice, only showing up a few times a week, lacking creativity, doing the same poses and shapes. It feels good to breathe a breath of fresh air into spring and step directly into my Tapas. I’m so thankful for the creation of this routine. Each morning I feel out the tensions that came from the dream world, I take some deep rooting breaths before I begin building my day, and then move through intuitive motion. 


If you are wanting to build a more consistent morning practice or would like to dedicate more time to YOU… Here are the tools I used…


*Make your mat REALLY accessible, place it by a your designated ‘time for you’ space


*Designate a space for yourself (mine is the kitchen/dining room for my morning form)


*Create a playlist of songs for your practice (I have many, depending on my mood)


*Create a ritual of how you would like to open your practice space (light a candle, mantra work, prayer, or gratitude)


*Create a ritual of how you want to symbolize the of end your practice (stillness, breath work, mantra, writing, reflection, or dance)


To me it’s so important to symbolize the beginning and end of my practice. It helps me fully arrive to my mat. Instead of rushing into movement, I take a pause to mindfully enter my morning form time and exit out of it, to continue on with my day. Your practice doesn’t have to look like anything other than what you need it to.


Take what you need and leave the rest!
Much Love,

Austeen

Storm Medicine

There was a dark comfort in the air as I lifted my blankets and snuggled into bed. I was ready for darkness you see, ready to hide from the emotional unrest and ready for some deep respite that only sleep can bring. A soft night time breeze filtered through my half open window, it’s cool temperature refreshing on my tired face. I pause, my whole body still, the only signs of life were the rise and fall of my chest. I lay there, just breathing, just being, there was something so perfect about that space. Something so comforting and settling, I don’t think I had ever felt such stillness in my life. A low rumble was heard in the black skies around me, a soft pelting rain started against the house, and I felt this storm coming as if mother nature had looked within me and sought to release what I could not.  As if what wanted to escape through my lips, my fists and my body for the last week had come birthing through the sky. So connected to this time and space I was, I let the thunder be my rage, the rain be my tears and the wind be my screams. I lay there, the physical body not moving but the emotional body tearing through the atmosphere outside of me. No mercy, no cautiousness, just pure passionate deliverance through the storm swirling around me. She had no judgement about my rage, my frustrations, and my anxiety. She wanted it all, all of the deep, hidden parts that we weren’t supposed to share, it was a space holding I had never experienced. I connected with this storm so heartily, there was no separation between it and me. I let every possible, deeply buried emotion run through my skin, the storm expressing it with ferocity and force.  She was joyous in her ability to hold and channel these emotions for me and I was grateful for her ability to do so.

Then time went on.

Emotions softened.

The storm passed.

And I slowly drifted into slumber…

The Long Line of Wild

A poetic verse to our Ancestors…

I come from a long line of flame tenders, and they remind me now of a time of great connection and reward. Times where our heart beated along side of the earths. I can feel that it has been a long while since my line of ancestry has been able to connect, it has been a long while since we knew what space holding was, a long while indeed. Slowly we are moving back to selfishness, back to the wild and back to soul, to wisdom, to love. No longer do we shy away from the chrone, hag, and shadows parts of ourselves. We are learning to embrace the fearsome, deeply buried fragments of each other, not aiming to make them more acceptable but only witnessing them beautifully. I can see it in my mother’s eye, and feel it in her soul, she is also remembering the feeling of a cocooned circle of women, hands caked in dirt, and the harsh wind of comfort. Growth is needed and now instead of fighting it, we are wanting it, we are calling it forth. May we keep remembering, may we keep pulling the sagacity of our ancient ancestors to this present moment and may it not ever again be a long while that we have forgotten.  

May we dream wild visions, and in those wild dream visions, may all our kindreds stand encircling a tree, pressing forehead to bark and praying for liberation, praying for resolve. Standing amongst the strands of grass, toes gripping mud, they just want to be free, to live in their own wild way, and to watch their loved ones do the same, just as we do. A grand connection they have created, intertwining their own energy with the web of earth’s consciousness. Praying for us, asking for our wildness to no longer be hunted, trashed or rejected. To let us howl, to be fierce, to be soft, to be whatever we want. They ask it and it is so. May we all release the things that bind us and may we remember the beginning, the very first great grandmother that still holds us today.

We are all living bloom sprouted from seeds planted by our great-great-grandmothers, in a lush land of greed and battle, and these resilient roots of ours will never be pulled from our wild foundation. Things may tread and pound but we can never be uprooted, as our roots have been long-standing, tended by generations before us. Dug deep into the earth, these roots twist and turn, created by the many experiences harbored in our double helix, for they are you and you are them. Thankful, for we could not be who we are today if they were not who they were then. May these roots stay strong and juicy for many generations to come, even against all odds, even when the above ground becomes brittle and dead, may our roots stay anchored. 

Here is to our most heathen year,

Austeen

*This blog post contains one sentence journal prompts form Danielle Dulsky

I want to remember

I want to remember.

I want to remember a time. A time where humans weren’t against humans. Maybe this time has never existed. A time where each person was loved for who they are, where there were no strings attached. I am sad tonight as I look upon the flickering light of my candle. I wish we didn’t pull each other down, that we worked to build each other up instead of being at each other’s throats. I wish more people were self-analyzers and worked at understanding what was happening in their head. I want to scream sometimes, pull people by the collar and say… “I AM NOT YOUR ENEMY”. You can’t possibly have what I need, I don’t want anything from you. Everything that I truly need resides within this skin of mine. So, stop treating me like an adversary. We only win if we do this all together. I feel so defeated as I look around my small town, so much good, but so much bad. So much unnecessary hurt and gossip. My neighbor makes the same mistakes every week. Same decisions, same people in and out, same 2am and 4am screaming match day in and day out. Tomorrow I may feel different about all of this, but today it hurts.

Random Ramblings from tonight.

To the Children

Poetic Versus of the Wisdom Keeper

Children that come after me, this wisdom keeper has knowledge to share and I would tell you that you can make money in a thousand different ways, that there are a million different ways to live your life. I would tell you that it will take years to uncover what society has told you to be. That it will take years to discover, uncover and dive into your depths to find your true self. That there is no quick fix, that there is no surface level, read a book and magically you will find yourself truer. That it will take time sitting with yourself, feeling unproductive, feeling like you don’t know where to start, like you’re wasting time and that that is where the work is. I would tell you that the best thing you can do for this society is to make it better by challenging it by asking more or asking less of it. By changing our ways for the better and to not just settle. I would tell you dear ones, that we have fucked up. We have been dominated by one aspect of ourselves for the longest time and everyone has suffered because of it. I would tell you that the best thing you can do for yourself is to feel and to sit with yourself, to journal, to write, to dissect and to think about what is you and what is not. And again, to feel like you are going nowhere when you do this work, but there will be these moments when everything comes together. This work I ask of you is hard. To sit and ponder and rewrite a sentence or think a thought over and over again. It’s truly difficult to dive into parts of yourself that you have buried and kept hidden because you didn’t want to see them. I would tell you that it’s hard to even know how to begin, but begin we must because this my friend, is one of the best things you could do.

Closing It All Up

This morning I woke up, the last day of 2019, I didn’t want it to end. I wasn’t ready, I hadn’t prepared for 2020. I hadn’t sorted through all the things on my list, I hand’t sat with my intentions, I WAS NOT READY. I wanted to hit the pause button, there were so many things unanswered, so many seeds still needed planting, I didn’t know what 2020 was going to look like. AND I still don’t. But after having Ghidrah’s year end meeting with my partners, something shifted, the future was still unsure, there were still questions that weren’t answered, but we were in it together and that made me feel less alone, less inadequate as I/we moved forward. I sit here looking forward to the last few hours of 2019, savoring this time of rest and not rushing into the future but sitting, resting and waiting patiently to close it all up into a tightly wrapped present never to be opened again. Reflecting on how the woman that started 2019 is not the same woman that sits here now. SO many things have shifted and I had so many opportunities for growth.

In 2019, I finally graduated from Adrian College with my Master’s degree. I taught at a yoga retreat in New York. I started working for myself full time. I used my new athletic training degree and had a special experience at Dundee High School. I decided on a wedding venue! I dove into self growth through shadow work. I started to try to figure out my relationship with food. I FINISHED MY ORACLE CARD DECK (soon to be published and available worldwide). I launched a podcast. I became an instructor at a yoga teacher training (Mystic Ways School Of Yoga). I became an adjunct professor at Adrian College. I became apart of a belly dancing troop.

These are just some of the highlights, the things that were once just a dream. But now I am ready to close it all up. To live and let go. Take what I need with me and leave the rest behind.

Here is to writing more, here is to more yoga, here is to more love, here is to more success. 2019 closed.

The Burning Of Masks

Burning of Masks-a poetic verse of dismantling and reclaiming

The Burning of Masks-a poetic verse of dismantling and reclaiming

In hindsight, she can see herself lying on the ground, surrounded by long-winged angels and begging to be soaked with water from the clouds to dim her searing skin. She screamed in and writhed after being burned with fire from the pits, stripped from the identities she held dear. The wild heathen she named herself, the strong fierce daughter and the kind, beautiful soul that resided within were speared, gathered and taken during the long night of day by the ones who would never except her, this was the day where she bled into the earth and she finally saw the masks she showed the world weren’t of her own self. They were blended, painted and created in societies image, not her own. Clinging to those parts of herself was futile, so she lit it all on fire. Deconstructed her entire life and purged the restraints that were keeping her docile. Long needed and gracious space had finally been taken, she knew that fire was the ultimate space maker, so she burned it all down. Including the many skins she would slide in and out of day after day, but no more. No more will she play the part they had cast her, no more will she be their picture perfect girl, and no more will their words break through the homemade skin of uniqueness that is her, but she will wear it proudly upon her bones from now on. She will claim the wild women heathen she so lovingly embodies, she will claim the strong fierce, fiery daughter, and she will claim the beautiful daring soul that is her from now on.

The angels turned their hands to the luminous skies and called down sweet soothing, succulent rain. Bathed in holy water form hers truly, her charred, burned skin turned to a soft moon bathed glow and her eyes were a little brighter. As she drew herself up from the ground on to knee, she glanced at the angels around her, both light and dark stood, casting their beams like black and white shadows around her. Blessed by the holy water, witnessed by light and dark angels and forever changed, she now walked with a particular grace and ease she had not known in this life, and her body, her mind, her bones, her blood, and her soul was hers.

Love,

Austeen Freeman

Thriving During the Holidays

Christmas/Holidays

Thriving during the holidays

ITS THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN. The holidays are fast approaching, and I can already hear the steam rolling out of people’s ears as the pressures and stresses of traveling, of family, of making everything perfect starts to pile on. Now don’t get me wrong, holidays should, and I hope they do bring tons of laughter, smiles and merriment. But before you tackle all of that baking and planning and wrapping make sure you consider your own needs this holiday.

               I know we all know how stressful the holidays can be, and I know we all know that they can be a great time to see family, but they can also be draining. Let’s be real honest here. Dealing with people in everyday life can be a rollercoaster but dealing with family is a whole other thing. Not every family is perfect and not every family sees eye to eye. But even then, we can come out of this feeling better and whole.

               I want you to come out of this holiday season feeling refreshed, feeling filled and loved. AND to get to that place I believe we all need to take a pause before the festivities begin to ask ourselves WHAT DO WE NEED to make that happen? What small things and what time do we need to take to make sure we are in a good place coming into the holidays? Do we need to take an extra long bath the day before a Christmas party? Do we need to still continue our yoga practice or gym routine? My observation with the holidays is I see people drop their usual schedule that has built in self-care time and they negate it all together until the new year, but I am challenging you to keep those small patches of self-worship in your day to day life even through the holidays. The cooking, the planning, the wrapping, the space holding for parties, the decorating, and so many other fine details all pile up and end up draining us when really the holidays should be filling us. I think a reason why they can be so draining is because we lose the times that we usually take for ourselves.

               So, prep yourself for this holiday! No matter what your role is in the holidays, take some time to find boundaries that you need or even drop some boundaries that you need too, most likely you need something that I can’t think of, something that is exactly what YOU need. I truly hope these holiday leave you filled to the brim with love, rejoice and happiness. But discover what YOU need this holiday.

        These were my thoughts today. Take what you need, leave the rest behind!