Knowing the “tells” that signal when a dog is comfortable or uncomfortable goes a long way to a harmonious experience. Allison Culver, assistant director of The Lightfoot Way holistic animal learning center, in Houston, remarks, “Knowing how to communicate with your animal can save a lot of heartache.” With a bit of applied attention, we can readily learn to understand the changes in canine body posture and behavior that communicate their emotional state.
To this day, my spiritual life is found inside the heart of the wild. I do not fear it, I court it. When I am away, I anticipate my return, needing to touch stone, rock, water, the trunks of trees, the sway of grasses, the barbs of a feather, the fur left behind by a shedding bison.
Hospitals in 35 states and Washington, D.C., now offer massage therapy to individuals during cancer treatment. MK Brennan, president of the Society for Oncology Massage, created in 2007, in Toledo, Ohio, is a registered nurse with a longtime practice in Charlotte, North Carolina. Brennan observes, “In nursing school, I was taught how to give a back rub, an aspect of patient care once provided by all nurses, but no longer part of a nurse’s education. It now appears that there could be a resurgence of interest in offering massage therapy in hospitals that would encompass more medical aspects and require modified techniques for different patient populations.”
Creating a personal myth is a fundamental way we find meaning. We are always the protagonist, with supporting characters providing love and assistance and antagonists posing challenges that push us beyond our comfort zones. Rather than narcissism or navel-gazing, the more intimate we become with our own story, the more we realize that everyone has an equally valid and vital narrative in which they are the central character. Understanding that everyone is on their own story journey can help us establish connection and empathy.
Peer pressure and body consciousness are universal challenges facing teens and their parents. Experts find that by modeling healthy habits and maintaining open lines of communication, adults can help foster healthy independent thinking and responses to inevitable situations.
Eat less, move more. These words have been the cornerstone of diet advice for decades, leading millions of Americans to greet the new year with vows to cut calories and hit the gym. In all, one in five U.S. adults are dieting at any given time, according to the international market research firm The NPD Group, and 57 percent would like to lose 20 pounds or more. Yet few will reach that goal.
Fatigue due to physical or mental exertion is common in those beleaguered by stress, poor eating habits and insomnia, struggling to balance the needs of family and career and too often using caffeine and other stimulants to artificially rebound energy. James L. Wilson, Ph.D., a doctor of chiropractic and naturopathy, educates medical professionals about an even more serious health issue he identifies as “adrenal fatigue”; it’s characterized by below-optimal adrenal function induced by an overload of such stressors.
“Walking a labyrinth is useful for those that sometimes have a hard time being outwardly still and drawing themselves inward. You must move your body, and because you’re focused on the path while you’re walking it, it’s easier to drop wholly into the journey and let go of all else,” says Anne Bull, of Veriditas, a Petaluma, California, nonprofit that supports new labyrinth designs to suit the spiritual needs of hospitals, schools and retreat centers. The group also sponsors a worldwide directory at LabyrinthLocator.com.
In restorative yoga, the peak pose is savasana—in which the practitioner fully relaxes while resting flat on their back. Leeann Carey, author of Restorative Yoga Therapy: The Yapana Way to Self-Care and Well-Being, explains, “This passive asana practice turns down the branch of the nervous system that keeps us in fight-or-flight mode and turns up the system allowing us to rest and digest. It feels like a massage for the nervous system and encourages self-inquiry, reflection and change, rather than perfection.”