Monday, 30 March 2015

Your Daily Balance, By Theresa.

In the true spirit of our Massage Co-Op, I’m going to pick up where last month Suzy Blue left off. One of the joys of this (ad)venture, is that we each get to take on a new role per month, this brings us to try out new things, with the added comfort of our combined wisdom and support.
I must admit that I haven’t done a lot of the writing yet, so this will be an interesting part of the journey for me.
Perhaps this is another reason why I have found myself drawn to study massage. There I’ve experienced our body has another language, and indeed its own wisdom, which I’ve truly come to respect. And it is the things that we come to respect that we tend to listen to. So how could we listen to it?
One way is a quite simple method which everyone can do. It’s the practice of Self Abhyanga, or Warm Oil Massage, as recommended in the Ayurvedic texts of India. Ayurveda, which means Knowledge of Life, is about 5000 years old, but it is still in practice in India today. Its scripts contain a very in-depth and holistic approach to a healthier lifestyle. Its aim is to help restore balance, on the physical, emotional and mental level. It states that “Daily Abhyanga pacifies our temperaments; relieves internal fatigue; provides better stamina as well as sleep; enhances the complexion and luster of the skin; and indeed it nourishes all parts of the body, promoting its longevity”.
Whenever I find myself feeling out of balance or out of sorts; this practice becomes a part of my life. The recommended time is in the morning before your shower. What’s’ really lovely about this practice, is that it doesn’t need to take long; indeed, even 15 minutes every morning can be enough to help restore yourself. In the crazy kind of way that we use coffee to get us going at the start of our day; this approach seems to offer us the opposite! It pacifies and calms the nervous system, and it sets a quieter and more internal tone for ourselves. I advise you to keep things simple, using only natural oils, such as Jojoba, Coconut or Almond. My personal favourite is Jojoba Oil, which is a similar to that of the skin, for it absorbs straight away, and leaves hardly any residue.
Start first by warming your bottle of oil in a cup of warm water for a few minutes. This is in keeping with the Ayurvedic tradition, where the oils are always warmed. In the meantime, if you don’t want to use the oil in your hair, and it’s not necessary, start with your scalp, using the pads of your fingertips, and massage it in smooth circular motions. Pay close attention to the areas of your temples where you might experience some tenderness; this is very beneficial to help relieve any migraines or headaches. Using the fingertips of both hands to smooth your forehead from the center outwards towards your temples, do this 2-3 times. Then starting from the midline of your face again, gently pinch your eyebrows between the thumbs and forefingers and repeat it. Work along the areas of the jaw, the chin and your cheekbones.
Now using your warmed oil, continue your massage throughout your body. Do the hands, the arms, and shoulders and your torso using long strokes. Then go to your feet and work your way up.
Apply light pressure on sensitive areas such as the abdomen or the heart. Use more oil and spend more time where nerve endings are concentrated, such as the soles of the feet, palms of the hands and along the base of the fingernails. Circular motions over rounded areas such as your head or joints, and straight strokes on straight areas such as your arms and legs, work best.
After you're done, relax for 10-15 minutes, letting the oil and the massage do their magic. The longer the oil is on, the deeper it penetrates. During this time you could read something relaxing or uplifting; maybe sip one of your favourite herbal teas and listen to some soothing music. If your schedule doesn't allow for a daily massage, try to squeeze it in at least three or four times a week. You'll find it's worth it!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Gratitude for Co-operation By Suzy Blue

I was very lucky to have been brought up in a family who were very aware of natural healing methods and one of my earliest memories was of my mother massaging my stomach when I had a tummy ache.I am eternally grateful to my parents for the love they instilled in me for the arts of natural healing . My interest in the human body and health care grew as I did and I started my first formal education into this field aged 20, nearly ten years ago. Since then I have gone on a journey that has taken me across the world and back. This journey has been spiritually enlightening, wondrous, maddening and sometimes terrifying in its intensity. I have been blessed to have met incredible teachers along the way from the monk in Thailand who taught me about meditation and Thai massage on a dirt floor to the wealthy spa owner in Queensland who taught me the art of facials and body scrubs in the most heavenly spa you can imagine to the countless clients who have allowed me to work on them, they have certainly been the best teachers of all.
I had spent many years in employment and although this has been an important part of my career path I felt a couple of years ago that I could serve my clients best from a place of self employment. The transition to self employment can be very challenging and isolating and there have been times throughout the process that I have wanted to give up. How ever I truly believed that self employment is in the best interest of my clients and I. It creates more room for creative expression, It allows a closer bond between therapist and client and it eradicates the risk of exploitation.
I had never heard of a massage co-op until I moved to Cork at the end of last summer. As I was starting to set up my new practice here my good friend and now colleague Gillian asked me if I would be interested in joining a co-op that she and five other women had recently set up. Of course I jumped at the chance, having moved to a new city meant that I was starting from scratch so this seemed a good opportunity to meet people in my field and have a beautiful treatment room to work out of in the inspirational and well know Dervish. Little did I know then exactly how lucky I had been to have found this incredible group of women. They welcomed me into their therapeutic community with lovingly open arms. I have been able to add them to my increasingly long list of teachers and I hope for my contributions they have added me to theirs.
Working as part of a Co-op means that instead of one mind we have six, We have six times the amount of enthusiasm, Six times the amount of knowledge , inspiration and creativity. We are able to skill share and we all make an effort to have regular treatments from each other, these treatments not only provide us with much needed mind and body work but also gives us an opportunity to learn from each others treatments which adds to the communal well of knowledge.
We all meet up for regular meetings, these usually start with friendly banter and chit chat until we eventually put our six minds together to discuss our new ideas and inspirations for the co-op . These can be from the mundane to the wonderful, from how best to bring in new clients to the co-op to what artwork to decorate the room with to what charity events we next want to support.
Even though I have spent a lot of time working and traveling on my own and would consider myself as very independent, since joining the co-operative I have come to see the benefits of working as part of a team. I have even begun to see it as a metaphor for how I would like to live my life in general. I have started to accept help and support and offer mine more freely, this has made my life richer and more enjoyable in every way.
So from us here at Dervish Massage Co-op we wish blessings and encouragement to strengthen the community that surrounds you in what ever form that takes.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Meadowsweet the mother herb of asprin but a much better nurse.

Meadowsweet flowers  (Filipendula ulmaria) are blooming nicely alongside a river near you, there are lots of things you can  do with them: make cordial, batter and deep-fry the flowers, add to jams, sauces, make hot or iced tea from the fresh or dried flowers or if you can't make up your mind what to do with it, let its sweet smell fill your house with summer.

Many of its therapeutic properties come from its high content of salicylic acid, a potent anti-inflammatory and the active ingredient of aspirin.  However while aspirin can wreck havoc on the stomach, kidneys and liver, meadow sweet is soothing and restorative to these organs and has traditionally been used to treat conditions such as heartburn, ulcers, upset stomach reflux and diarrhea.

This is a clear illustration of how with the best intention we often extract from a plant something that we understand to be helpful, and process it into something for we deem suitable for mass consumption without fully understanding the complexities of the healing the herb might give us.  Some of the simplest aspects of nature are still far more complex than our most accomplished scientists are yet able to explain.  So while I revere the researchers who are on the front edge of our understanding,  I'll be heading down to the river to pick some meadowsweet before the summer is over. 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The simple cure for Insomnia

I see a lot of people in the massage clinic who have varying degrees of  trouble sleeping, it is a common problem that has a profound effect on a persons well-being and the bodies ability to heal itself.  For years I battled with insomnia gradually learning the best ways to make sleeping easier, now i can usually sleep through pretty much everything (including an earthquake once).   This blog is aimed at getting right past insomnia to being able to fall imediately into a deep natural sleep. 

The way to cure insomnia once and for all is...drum roll.... to relax into sleep.  Now before you give up on me entirely for stating the obvious let me ask you if you have ever said "I cant sleep"?  What I think it helps to understand is that that is not strictly true,  sleep is possible, the problem is that with insomnia we are in a state where we are too alert to sleep, indeed you may find if you do  begin to doze off, your mind jerks you back to full waking awareness, sometimes with an urgent thought, sometimes with a heartbeat.  You may feel you have tried everything and nothing works, but let me share with you my approach, which uses everything, effectively.

So the aim is to relax into sleep, but, its not happening, no matter how hard you try.  Many things have been suggested to you and you have tried them yet still you are blinking at the ceiling.  My approach is to use them all, as much as possible and then to try to stay awake.  Bare with me.

Ok before I go on heres a little check list of insomniacs aids to ensure you have a full tool kit:
  • Lavender oil -rub a few drops into souls of feet or drop on pillow to automatically lower blood pressure and help induce sleep state.
  • No Caffeine - caffeine is a stimulant, if you have trouble sleeping you need to eliminate stimulants from your life until your sleeping habits are effortless and well established and even then you may find caffine only messes with your new found sanity. Sources of caffeine and similar stimulants include: Coffee, energy drinks, black tea, green tea, yes green tea, guarana coffee, maté, chocolate. Good substitutes include red bush tea or rooibos, dandelion or chicory coffee, or decaf (although this is even more acidic than normal coffee) 
  •  Sleepy time teas- most herbal tea companies produce a sleep inducing tea, if it contains Valerian your onto a winner I'd say.
  • Darkness- if your curtains are feeble get an eye-mask.
  • Yoga- very beneficial to sleep my Mother taught me to do three slow cobras before going to bed and it was one of the first things that helped.
  • Exercise- it is important to get an enjoyable amount of exercise into each daybut other than yoga they sure all be finished a few hours before bed.
  • The same goes for food.
  • Be aware that alcohol plays havoc with your ability to sleep naturally and reach deep sleep states and withdrawal from alcohol causes excessive stimulation.
  • Massage- can be very helpful in helping your body remember how to relax. As the therapists works through the body you become aware of releasing tension from areas you had no idea were you were holding, some people drift in and out of consciousness as their nervous system is soothed.
  • guided meditations/hypnosis- there are countless numbers of these available on YouTube and the like, sift through till you've found one whose voice doesn't annoy you and listen to it every time you have trouble sleeping.  The more you listen to it the more it will work.
  • Eliminate as much stress from your life as possible- talk to a friend about the things on your mind then simplify your life as only you can.
  • Eliminate  stress cues from your bedroom- no work papers, bills, computers, TVs, switch off phones, make your bedroom a safe place to sleep.
  • Do things that soothe you before bed- a warm bath/shower, reading something that's not disturbing, having a cuddle etc with someone you love, giving yourself a foot massage.
So now you have given yourself the best chance to get off to that much needed sleep, you are tucked up in your comfy stay awake.  That's right now you are relaxed why would you want to waste all night sleeping when you could be meditating?  The health benefits of meditation are miriad, research at both Harvard and Emory has found that deep relaxation such as through meditation or self hypnosis can turn on or off genes in a way that has measurable health benefits. The Buddha recommended loving kindness meditations which have the added benefit of healing your feelings towards other people and yourself, and modern researchers often suggest body-scan type mindfulness meditations.  You could do this type of meditation all night and if you are perfectly relaxed you would greet the morning with peace and energy, however you may just find you are better at sleeping than meditating!  This is a cognitive reframing technique called paradoxical intention that helps by removing the anxiety to sleep, but whether it works or not it is win win as as I say it would be good to be able to meditate all night.
The more you use good sleep practices in combination with deep relaxation or meditation techniques the more you will learn how to trigger the chain reaction in your body that switches it back to the parasympathetic nervous system and lets you be at peace, able to sleep as required.   Work on becoming aware of little things you can do to help, like letting your eyeballs rest heavy at the back of your head or feeling the whole silhouette of your body pressing into the bed, or observing your breathing.  Each little thing that helps, contributes to your confidence in being able to sleep, and takes away from the stress of not feeling able to, and that is how you eventually end the battle, night by night.  Good night.

Gillian Mcilroy BSc Psych.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

5 natural ways to relieve hay fever.

If I feel the symptoms of hay fever- sore head, dryness in the throat, sneezing or streaming eyes and nose but do not want to subject myself to antihistamine drugs there are some effective things I use to feel better. Give them a try yourself and fall back in love with nature again.

1: Eat local honey
manuka may have powerful antiseptic properties, but there's no beating honey from the local bees to tell give your body a heads up about the pollen around you.

2: Drink herbal teas that reduce inflamation 
peppermint tea and chamomile tea are good examples of teas that work as antiinflammatorys in the body reducing the symptoms of allergy.

3: Go to the beach
there's no pollen in the sea so pay it a visit and let the sea breeze blow the pollen and your cares away.

4: Eucalyptus oil
Put a few drops in an oil burner or a nice bath, or come into dervish for a massage and ask for eucalyptus oil

5:  Alternate nostril breathing.
after clearing your airways with eucalyptus, practice this technique to get rid or headaches and heavy feelings around the sinuses and lift the mind.

Friday, 6 June 2014


Welcome to our new healthful well-being blog.

We will have a different therapist from our Co-operative posting each day of the week.  From health tips to healthy recipes, meditations and inspirations this blog will keep you shining between treatments!