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Living Well - Inspire Your Spirit

OM for your mental home

Continuously repeating words or phrases has long been a practice for religious and spiritual devotees. Studies show that repeating a mantram (or mantra) pushes the mental reset button, enabling you to see the world anew. Whether recited in Sanskrit, English or Swahili, researchers say that repeating mantras is useful for a variety reasons.

In 2006, researchers from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs saw positive results after a five-week mantra course. “Veterans are well known to have many chronic physical and mental health symptoms that interfere with their quality of life and their ability to live normal everyday lives. Similarly, hospital employees have high levels of job stress, leading to decreased job satisfaction and subsequent increases

in health care costs” explains Jill E. Borman, PhD, lead researcher for the study. About half of the participants said the mantra habit eased emotional difficulties and about quarter reported it was useful in reducing traffic and job-related stress. A primary resource used in the study was the Mantram Handbook by Eknath Easwaran.

As a massage therapist, no doubt you feel the pressures of time and physical stress. Next time you feel the tension rise, try repeating a few simple words. In less than five minutes, you’re likely to find your stress a thing of the past.

Working Your Mantra
Choose a word or phrase and stick with it. It can be a Christian prayer, Sanskrit mantra or simply words like “peace” or “let go.” Breathe as calmly as possible as you slowly and continuously repeat your mantra. A daily practice of 15 minutes will make your mantra more effective. Then when you need it most, your mantra will be there to quickly restore your equilibrium again. Try it in traffic, while waiting in line or in between clients for a quick pick-me-up.

Additional Resources
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health examined 52 people with heart disease who practiced transcendental meditation for four months. Another 51 participants didn’t meditate, but took classes on controlling heart disease. Those in the meditation group showed greater improvements in blood pressure and blood sugar control, and had less activation of the body’s stress system. The results were published in the June 12, 2006 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.



Bone builders

While people age 50 and older get osteoporosis most often, it can show up at any age. In the United States, 10 million individuals are estimated to already have the disease and almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), one out of two women over 50 will develop osteoporosis. Men over 50 have a greater chance of suffering from an osteoporosis-related fracture than developing prostate cancer.

But whether you’re 5 or 55, a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D will help shore up your bones. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements say adults need at least 1,000 mg of calcium each day. The reality, according to government research, is that 75 percent of Americans do not get enough calcium. To give your bones the edge, you’ll need to eat more calcium-rich foods and those high in vitamin D.

“Calcium and vitamin D work together for strong bones and teeth,” explains Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “Vitamin D helps absorb calcium and deposit calcium in bones and teeth.” Blatner says an easy way to combine the two is to have three 8-oz. servings of milk and/or fortified soymilk every day. She recommends pouring the fortified beverage of your choice on cereal in the morning, blending it with frozen fruit for a delicious smoothie, drinking a glass with lunch or having hot chocolate for dessert. It’s best to choose low or nonfat milk.

Any bone can break or fracture as a result of osteoporosis, but the most common breaks occur to the hips, spine and wrists. Mindful eating can help strengthen your bones; however, it’s not a cure-all. “Nutrition alone is unlikely to reverse the condition that’s already there,” says Felicia Cosman, MD, the clinical director of NOF. “But it certainly can help prevent deterioration.”

5 steps to bone health & osteoporosis prevention

  1. Get your daily recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

  2. Engage in regular weight-bearing exercise.

  3. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol.

  4. Talk to your doctor about bone health.

  5. Have a bone density test and take medication when appropriate.

    Source: National Osteoporosis Foundation




    In touch with intuition

    It’s a quiet voice, a gut feeling or a sudden inkling—intuition is our wise inner guide. It’s a powerful sense, sometimes called the sixth sense, which can lead us toward more meaningful work and personal lives. As massage therapists, chances are you’re already tuned in to your intuition, letting it guide your hands while you work with clients. Here are three ways to strengthen your intuition and use this innate life force to guide you inside and outside the treatment room.

    1.Inkling Notebook

    Keep a notebook handy for whenever you get an inkling about someone or something. For example, you might read an article about a massage modality that piques your curiosity. Write down what you feel and what about the modality inspires you. On a more abstract level, you might just get insights or images that suddenly pop into your head. Even if they seem unrelated, write them down. Intuition works on a subconscious level and flows to the surface. Practice allowing these inklings to become conscious.

    2.Listen to Your Body

    As a massage therapist, you know the intelligence of the human body well. Use this intelligence to help you make decisions. Try this experiment: Notice how your body feels when you are around people who push your buttons. Where in your body do you feel it? Greater awareness of what your body is telling you can be    put into play in many situations. For example, you might feel stuck about accepting a new job or adding more clients to your practice. When this happens, get quiet and breathe to clear your mind. Then notice how your body feels when you pose the question.

    3.Plant a Dream Seed

    Intuition lives in the subconscious, and dreams are among the most interesting ways our intuition can guide us. Before falling asleep, plant a dream seed by asking your subconscious to help you solve a problem. Upon waking, immediately check in with yourself and again, take note of any images or feelings in your body. Trust them to guide you.

    Books on exercising your intuitive abilities

    Sonia Choquette
    Trust Your Vibes at Work, and Let Them Work for You!

    Shakti Gawain
    Developing Intuition: Practical Guidance for Daily Life

    Belleruth Naparstek
    Your Sixth Sense: Unlocking the Power of Your Intuition

    Lynn Robinsonn
    Trust Your Gut and Grow Your Business




    As the president of the Massage Therapy Foundation, 46-year-old Diana Thompson will support the organization’s mission of advancing massage therapy through supporting scientific research, education and community service. Chief among her goals is fund raising, through which the foundation grants scientific research.


    It’s the ability to find research, read it, understand it and apply it. It’s important because in massage therapy, we often operate on assumptions. For example, in the late 1980s, people thought massage was contraindicated for cancer patients because massage would spread cancer through the lymphatic system. Researchers put it to the test and proved that assumption false. Today, massage therapists work with cancer patients to provide relief for issues such as anxiety, nausea and depression.


    I played sports and started working with athletes at Grinnell College in Iowa—taping and icing was always needed in sports like rugby. But it was after my car accident in 1983 when I discovered that massage could be beneficial for all people, not just athletes. I personally got better quicker with massage.


    In 1985 I opened my first office, which turned into a clinic with 15 massage therapists. We were known as the injury clinic. We primarily saw people by referral from physical therapists and physicians. I sold my  clinic in 1991 to write a book and teach more. I still practice and have about 12 clients a week. My book, Hands Heal: Communication, Documentation, and Insurance Billing for Manual Therapists, is in its third edition.


    Be curious. Test your theories and beliefs and don’t hold too tightly to what you learned in school. The world is constantly changing and our body of knowledge is continuing to be defined.To learn more about research literacy, check out www.massagetherapyfoundation.org. The practitioner case study contest is a great way to learn useful documentation skills and become eligible for cash prizes.

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Jenn S., AMTA member since 1994

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