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Using Your Body for Relapse Prevention

People are often feeling tense and stressed out, but something as simple as breathing in a certain way or sleeping in a new position can reduce the strain.

Using Your Body for Relapse Prevention

Estimated watch time: 51 mins 

Available credits: none

Presentation Materials:

Jacki Gethner, bodywork and massage therapist with over 30 years of experience, is a professional trainer and educator dedicated to sharing practical skills. She has shared collaborations with nonprofits, government agencies, and other health educators as a certified alcohol and drug counselor (CADC1) from 1998-2019. In 2009, Jacki Gethner was awarded the National Kaiser Permanente Diversity Award for her work in the HIV/AIDS arena, with which she began her nonprofit, Women of a Certain Age (WOACA).

Welcome to the Community Education Series, hosted by The Recovery Village and Advanced Recovery Systems. I’d like to introduce our speaker today, Jacki Gethner. Jacki is a bodywork and massage therapist with over 30 years of experience as a professional trainer and educator dedicated to sharing practical skills. She shared collaborations with nonprofits, government agencies and other health educators as a certified alcohol and drug counselor from 1998 to 2019. In 2009, Jacki was awarded the National Kaiser Permanente Diversity Award for her work in the HIV/AIDS arena, with which she began her nonprofit, Women of a Certain Age. But without further ado, I’d love to introduce our speaker today: Jacki Gethner. 

Jacki:

Thank you very much. So, I will be very honest with this and say this is the first presentation that I have done on Zoom. And whereas I teach exercise classes for people with arthritis on Zoom, this is a very different kind of presentation. I’m hoping that we can have a lot of conversation about what’s going on for folks, because this whole bodywork thing and how we’re responding to relapse prevention, I believe, is the much bigger picture of how we’re dealing with stress. And we couldn’t be having this on a better day than after our election, which still isn’t over. So, whereas I don’t talk about politics, I will talk about the fact that as I’ve been watching people in the last day or so. People have been relating to each other around how they’re dealing with the stress of both COVID and the election. The implications of the election, certainly here in Oregon and in Washington — we’re looking at repercussions from that, and all of those kinds of things are increasing our stress.

If you look at people who are in recovery, they have all of those kinds of issues that we were just talking about as well. “Wow. Things are just so messed up. Maybe it’d be better to just go get high or go have a drink.” One of the things that I was seeing was that people were definitely indulging in things they might not be doing except on an occasional basis, out of a lack of powerlessness of being able to change very much of what’s going on. One of the things that I know is that your skin is the largest organ in your body, and so most of the time, for many, many reasons, we neglect how we’re really feeling and we push on and we make a bad decision or any number of kinds of things. And I do believe that one of the things that are missing in the recovery picture is looking at how the body plays a big part in that, in terms of the body was where the behavior occurred — the drugs or the alcohol, or however you’re going to discuss that. 

But it’s also the fact that when you look at some of the issues of addiction, you’re looking at trauma and you’re looking at body memory kinds of things. And so not only was the behavior to get the drugs possibly involved in a body experience but certainly, the response to the drugs or the alcohol was body-related, I believe. And I see as people are getting older that we, again, are focusing on those outside surface things and that people — I see long-term people in recovery who have a really good program, but they’re not necessarily moving forward in some of the things around. They’re aging, and I’ve seen where that’s put people a little bit more at risk. Does that make sense to the people who are out there? I really don’t have an idea of who’s out there at this point.

Thank you, thank you very much. So, what I’d like to do is just talk about our experiences with our bodies, because the program that I’ve just started has come as a result of a three-year program with OHSU and Harvard around probation officers and their clients and why clients do not connect up so well. So, I came along, and myself and Dr. Mark Loveless created more of a physical approach to why that doesn’t work and how probation officers and I believe drug and alcohol counselors are in a position to use your skills, and what works and doesn’t work for you in terms of how you look at your own stress and self-care as how it then will be implemented or could be implemented by your clients.

So, what we did just basically in the study is we had five people from different departments of community justice, and their only prerequisite was to have at least one client that they felt would be open to doing this work. We did a three-and-a-half-hour workshop, and folks got a little basket with things in it, which I will speak with you about in a little bit. A month later, all the responses from before and after the workshop had changed pretty drastically in terms of not only the people that we were working with, but their clients — in terms of their clients’ abilities to want to learn more about self-care to see the beginnings. Of course, it was just the beginnings, but the beginnings of how those kinds of behaviors in their body can help them with some of the anxiety or some of those out-of-their-body feelings that they might have post-drug recovery.

So, one of the most important things that I believe happens there is the whole concept of breathing, which is one of the most benign things that I can teach you about because everybody says, “Oh, well, I breathe all the time.” If you pay attention to folks that are in your groups or that you see as clients, or even it’s a great skill if you are a parent too — look at your kids. Whenever something’s definitely going on, whether it is a pain issue, it’s a fear issue or it’s just being pretty disconnected, we tend to hold it up to our breath when we’re in trauma that way. When you just do very simple things, like work with breathing, people can feel a huge difference. And the way I can explain that to you is this is how most people breathe, and then maybe you can kind of keep an eye on your clients and people at work, and I’ll show you how to kind of remedy that without saying “breathe.” ‘Cause people don’t breathe when you tell them to; it’s kind of like telling people to relax and then they go into a totally different thing.

So, this is how most people tend to breathe — like this. I’m sure you’ve probably observed people in your groups or individual clients that you see that do the same thing. So, what I’d like you to do is I’d like you to just experience this with me and see what a difference you feel. In fact, in some ways, which I think is a great group experience, is that you just ask people to raise their hands when they think a minute has gone by. Most people are barely into 25 seconds and think a minute’s really up, so they don’t think they can get a lot done because it’s only a minute, but breathing is one of the things that has some of the greatest benefits.

So, unless people have asthma, emphysema or anything like that, this works really well. I would just ask you to just sit up in your chair if you would, please. Just kind of bring your shoulders down and just take some really slow, deep breaths in through your nose and slowly out your mouth. So again, I’m not sure who all is in the house, but how does that feel to you? Different from how you might’ve been breathing before I started this? If anybody has any feedback — again, I’m not sure how many people are out there. It wakes you up, right? So obviously, the oxygen is going through your whole body versus just staying in the core of your body. So, that’s one of the things. 

Thank you very much; now I know people are there. So, what I would share with you as we talk about — people have cold hands, cold feet, and in some cases, cold butts. And the reason that that happens is because our oxygen goes to the core of our body first, which are all of our organs, and then it kind of trickles out to our extremities. If you’re not taking good slow, deep breaths — and you can’t do that when you’re talking or it’ll be more, “Yeah. Hi, my name is Jacki,” and that’s definitely not where we were going. But most of the time, most people aren’t talking when they’re in a group. They’re not talking — they’re listening. And sometimes, because of what’s being said or it’s triggering something for them, they just automatically just kind of hold their breath.

So, I’m just going to have you guys experience a little bit, and I’m going to take you through a little something and see if we can even get you to breathe a little bit better. So, sit up nice and tall again, please, and just take some slow, deep breaths, and just generally soften your eyes. For a lot of people, closing their eyes is pretty traumatic, so I go “looking with soft eyes,” which means you’re looking down at the carpet. You’re not staring right at somebody. You’re kind of looking down and you’re looking softly, and just go ahead and breathe. I’m going to just start making some different sounds, and I’d like you to just pay attention to your body. If you’re starting to feel lightheaded, it’s because your body is like, “Oh my gosh, I’m not used to all this oxygen.” So, you can either put your hands over your mouth or just breathe a little slower and that should go away for you. But I’m just going to do some sound, and I’d like you to pay attention to your body and how it changes.

Take a nice, big breath. How was that? Did you notice any changes in your breathing? Did you notice a change in your awareness or vigilance? Absolutely, breathing gets much more shallow in the loud sounds much more — much more, right? Even though ideally, I would be using music for this kind of situation, I work with people who are very low income. A lot of the time, I work with people who are houseless. They don’t have Amazon Prime to be able to turn onto music, which is why I did some of the others. So, then it would give you still that same experience and it might give you opportunities to do them also with your clients. 

The sharp noise startled me into the shorter breath, obviously, and it does help connect you to that outside environment. So, one of the things that I find to be really helpful is, if you practice in an office or you practice in a facility where you have group rooms, that you always have some kind of background sound going on. They did a study with dentists, and not many people I know enjoy going to the dentist, but they did this incredible study where they took people’s blood pressure before they went into the dentist. Before they went into the office, people’s blood pressure was really high. And the dentists that had aquariums in their offices were able to see that people’s blood pressure was lower just from listening to the bubbling of the aquarium and that their stress was much less when they went into the dentist. 

And then they, as you probably are well aware, started giving people headsets so you can listen to music, which will also help break up that hypervigilance of all those drills and the things that they use in the dentist. This is also very helpful for when people are sleeping and the hypervigilance that people feel, especially when they’re used to being up in their drugging days at two and three in the morning, and they might wake up and they’re not able to sleep. I suggest, for people that have that kind of hypervigilance at night, one of the things that I suggest is that they — if they have an interest in getting a small aquarium, that they do that just because the bubbler is that constant noise or they can use a fan and get the same kind of thing. There are also people that — if there’s any sound, they can’t sleep, so one size does not fit all in terms of people’s experiences with bodywork. 

So, I would really like everybody to take a slow, deep breath. The other time people don’t breathe is when they’re concentrating on things, and even when they think they’re being really attuned to it. I do this myself too; I catch myself and go, “I didn’t breathe again.” So, that’s a very constant thing. One of the things that I give to my clients — and again, I was going to make a sheet — I have a sheet that has “breathe” written on it, and you just cut it up and post it places where you spend time. It takes three weeks to make or break a habit that’s not an addiction. But I was thinking it might be — for those of you who work with groups or with clients, you could do it in terms of just giving them paper and having them write “breathe” on it and look at the colors they choose for an awareness of what colors make them feel more relaxed. Or, if you do it as a collage and have them put it where they spend time, like in front of the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink. I have people put them in their cars, but not over their speedometers so that they don’t get pulled over cause they’re breathing instead of watching their speed. But there are all kinds of situations where people can use that help. A lot of times, when a client quits breathing like I said before, I won’t say to them, “Well, just breathe. You’re not breathing.” What I find is that if I just make my breath a little bit louder, their body just kind of kicks in and starts breathing with that also. 

So far, questions or does this make sense? Okay, I’m going to go forward with it, hold on. So, that kind of takes care of just general anxiety. I’m going to be really honest — I have to go to traffic court on Monday in McMinnville. I got a ticket coming back from my trip to California driving late at night, not knowing where I was going, and I will be anxious going to court. So, I will sit out in my car for probably a good 10 or 15 minutes and just do this breathing so that I can feel grounded into my body. Another thing that this would be helpful for is headaches. One of the leading causes of stress for people or the symptoms of stress is headaches. As we detox, that’s certainly a huge part of that. What I’d like you to do — and this might sound a little bit silly, but there really is a good reason for it — I’d like you to take your hand and just scratch against the side of your head here and then stop. And what I would be talking to you about is: The best part of the whole experience of going to the beauty shop or the barbershop is getting your hair washed. The reason that that is the case is because you have a very thin muscle that covers your head. That’s called the upper cranium muscle. 

It’s like that old song — the neck bone’s connected to the shoulder bone. Well, all your muscles are really connected, and when they start to tighten up, they start to tighten up other ones. Probably, your experience of scratching on this side made it go, “Oh, this feels really different than this side,” and that’s what I was hoping for. So, you can go ahead and do this side too. One of the things that I do to try to make this not this big move — “You got to meditate in the morning” experience — but make it very practical with people’s lives. I find that when people take showers, they’re washing their hair, going, “Oh my God, I’m going to be late for work. I have this meeting today at 10 o’clock and I have a little bit.” And they come out and maybe their hair is clean, but they’ve not done anything to help ground their body and help be intentional for the day. So, I encourage people that when they do this, all they do is breathe. They don’t think about anything for the day; they just massage their skull and then they get out, do whatever they’re going to do. My experience is pretty positive around just even taking that little step and working on the breathing thing. I even had somebody put “breathe” in Saran wrap so they could put it in their shower, but it’s a great way to work on that neck and shoulders kind of area. 

Again, headaches are very intrusive in our lives, and they cause a lot of stress. One of the main reasons for headaches has to do with vasoconstriction and not being hydrated enough. And when I talk about being hydrated, I’m not talking about energy drinks or Starbucks or anything like that. I’m just talking about basic water. In Chinese medicine, in the winter, Asian people have a lot of hot water. I drink a lot of hot water in the wintertime, but the hydration is also what’s going to keep your body flowing in a more relaxed mode, especially as you get older. One of the greatest problems with people as they get older is not having enough hydration. It seems much easier to do in the summertime. We don’t think about it as much — work in the wintertime — and you want something that’s not going to make your body have to work to digest it, which is why you would go to water or tea or even coffee or chai. Even if it doesn’t have a lot of sweeteners and flavors and stuff like that in it, it would be good for you also.

So, one of the things that I feel is really important when people are in treatment is posture, and the reason for that is that, I think, people have so many postures ingrained from their addiction and their home situations that contribute to that. And all of that contributes to a lot of neck and shoulder tension. When I meet people, they either say their tension is in their neck and their shoulders, or it’s generally in their low back. We could talk about a lot of other situations, but these are the two. So, what I try to encourage people to do is when I watch people in groups where I’m in groups, people are leaned over like this. You might guess that this isn’t good posture for any of us, though we all get into it from time to time. What I hope people will understand is that we are one whole system, so when you have one thing off, it continues to work through the rest of your body. You have six layers of muscles in your back, and most of them — not all of them, but most of them — attach at the base of your skull and the top of your pelvis, right? So, what you have in your neck, if you’ve ever seen pictures of this. And if this was a full workshop, you would be seeing all this anatomy, but you have all these muscles that run down your neck and they all attach back here at the base of your skull, which is your occiput. Lemme turn it around so you can see just a little bit.

So, this is the base of your skull here. If you take your finger and you tack it under that base of your skull and you lean into it, it really hurts, and it probably sends sensations around the whole top of your head. So, what I want you to do is I want you to lean in till it hurts just a little bit, and I want you to breathe, and then I’m going to turn around, but don’t stop. You just stay here and breathe, and in about maybe three to five breathes, that pressure should start to go away. If it doesn’t, lessen your pressure a little bit and see if you can make it work. Now, as you’re doing that, I would like you to do it. And when you’re done, we’ll see how it works. If you could just send me a note and let me know if it worked for you.

So, a lot of people have arthritis in their hands. They have other things going on in their hands. Certainly aren’t as strong as mine are from doing massage for over 30 years. So, one of the things that I give to people in my workshops — and I’m sure that people have their own, they probably have the erasers chewed on them — is a brand new pencil. Because that allows you to put the eraser in here and move your head around. So, you feel that right area because it can be an eighth of an inch. It really is amazing, but then you will feel that tightness and you should be able to feel it release. 

So, was that anything successful for anybody that is responding here? Make sure you still breathe. That’s fabulous, Katrina. That’s great. So, I don’t know if you guys are seeing this, but she’s saying, “My body went into spontaneous, deep breathing without any effort when I pressed in that area.” Now, the thing about it is, ideally, if that works so well, we should just walk around breathing and touching ourselves. Probably wouldn’t go over really big, but please know that whenever I do things for agencies or staffs of agencies, I talk about using these techniques for your own wellness. When you’re in a meeting where you can’t really contribute, all you can do is listen. So you don’t feel like you’ve really wasted your time, you can work on your own self-care that most people don’t have enough room for. Probably that area that you touched initially, you can still feel, and that’s a new body memory is what that is for you. So, what you would do is you would start behind the ear and you’d work your way, slowly, all the way across. And again, if you can’t get it to release within three or four breaths, you loosen it up a little bit and you’ll see it’ll go faster and faster. And you come over to the other side and you work from right there at the spine, all the way across, under the base of your occiput, which is the base of your skull.

So, the other way you can work with headaches is — and I won’t have a lot of time to talk about this today — but reflexology and the benefits of reflexology. So, you have 7,000 nerve endings in your body and they all end in your hands and your feet. That’s why the shoes you pick and wear are so very important for you, but they also are a trigger for people because when you don’t have shoes that work well for you, which a lot of people that are houseless, that are low income, don’t get to go buy Adidas or KEEN shoes or those kinds of things, but they can work on their feet and that will help them deal with anxiety. It’ll help them deal with depression. I’m not feeling that’s a skill that you guys can really utilize in this presentation, but I want to share it because there’s all kinds of things that you can do with reflexology, in terms of menstrual cramps, in terms of constipation, in terms of some of the issues that come with recovery that, again, get people being more connected to their own bodies because they’re working on themselves. The part I’m going to share with you today, though, is in hand reflexology.

In hand reflexology, this part here is called the anatomical snuff box ‘cause the old colonial guys used to sniff snuff in that little pocket there. If you put your hand into this crevice here — and I don’t mean in the skin part, I’m hoping you can see me here, but I’m talking back up in here — you should get a pretty good sensation of discomfort right up in here. Now, if you have a headache on the left side of your head, if you massage this area and just slowly breathe the way I’ve been teaching you, your headache’s going to go away. Excuse me, if it’s a general headache. If it’s a migraine, this won’t work for that. But if it’s a general stress headache, this will work for you. Now, you might have to go back and teach your clients to do it again in 15 or 20 minutes, but they can do that. The headache’s on the right side, you do the right side. If it’s a broad-based headache, you don’t have to — you know, we’ll do both hands really quickly. You just do one breathe; they can continue to talk or pay attention to the class and go back with the other side, and that’ll generally make their headaches go away.

So, those are two more hints about headaches, but I’m going to now bring it back into sleep because I think sleep is really important, and I want to make sure we have a few minutes for that. Again, people do not have the money to buy new mattresses, new pillows; people in treatment don’t necessarily have the best equipment in terms of being able to sleep. What I suggest for people is — any kind of pillow you have, take a towel and roll it up with rubber bands on it, slip it in the pillowcase and support your neck better, so that if you sleep on your back, your neck is very supported. When people sleep on their stomach, that’s pretty much — in my 32 years’ experience — a sign that they’ve had trauma in their body, because this is what’s protected.

If they sleep on their side, that’s still a good thing, but people have issues with their arms and are numbing in their arms from breaking, leaning on the nerve pathways so that the circulation stops. 

I just want to make it really simple. When you sleep, you can use a fan or you can use your radio or whatever to help you sleep and be able to not have that hypervigilance to make your back more comfortable. Sleeping on your back is the best thing for your back. I have people roll up a blanket, put in a pillowcase and put it under their knees because that stretches your back out. These are all things you can do with very little money. When you sleep on your stomach, you’re really compressing your vertebra, but it’s an understandable response to trauma. When you sleep on your side, try not to sleep with your hip all hiked up above your waist, because that kind of torques your hips, and most of us aren’t getting enough exercise for the hips to be put through that. But all of that is helpful in terms of sleep.

I do want to just say a couple of minutes about the essential oils that I gave you a list of. So, I have to tell you that a lot of complementary medicine is pretty bogus. People are coming out here like everything else and trying to get you to sign up for these big things that cost a lot of money that you will be certified in, in terms of your practice. You need to be very careful with essential oils. They are medicine; they are like medicine. Some of them, like bergamot that you see up here in the “counter depression” — bergamot is what’s used in suntan lotion. If you put bergamot oil directly onto your skin and walk outside, you’re going to get a third-degree burn. There are certain oils that cannot be used together or used with people who are pregnant. There are certain oils that are not helpful for a lot of things, but I did want to give you some opportunity to look at some oils that you can start looking up and start with one. If you were to start with one oil at all that you wanted to use, it would be lavender. And some of the other presentations I’ve done, lavender is really helpful for headaches.

You put a little bit on the base of your skull and it just relaxes your body. It’s good for insomnia. When I worked in the world of HIV and AIDS and people’s bodies were deteriorating, we put some of the lavender water in their sheets. I’d always leave a bottle because when we feel bad about how we feel, and then when people are going through withdrawal, they’re not feeling really great about their bodies. So, having that lavender will at least keep them calm and maybe diminish some of the personal feelings that they’re going through so that they can just kind of focus on where they need to go to.

Basil is a great oil for remembering things. When you have people in recovery, a lot of times, their memory issues aren’t great; basil is really good for that. Clary sage is good for that to raise your spirits. I will share with you that rose, sandalwood, jasmine, neroli are very expensive oils. You’re not going to want to use them. The chamomile for the immune system — we grow chamomile here. You can buy bulk chamomile, just drink the tea. That’ll be very good for you, but all of these are way more than I can explain to you today, but I hate people going out and spending, again, a lot of money on things. As much as I don’t like supporting Amazon, they have a very cheap oil diffuser. When you have a group room or you have an office, if people don’t have allergies, it’s really interesting. I’ve set up two aromatherapy projects for Alzheimer’s facilities, and there’s oils that you can use that you get people to engage more and there’s oils that cause them to relax more.

If you were going to use these in your practice at all, I would encourage you to use them in a diffuser, again, making sure no one has an allergy. But more is not better with essential oils, and some of these essential oils — if you use more, then you should have a different effect than the one you originally started. So, I really want to offer some caution there because people think that anything that’s natural is good. It’s not; we also don’t want to get people into a position where they can’t do anything unless they have essential oils. That’s the same kind of dependency. So, questions so far? Anything — could you share with me what’s helpful that you’re getting out of this presentation so far? Okay, I’m going to just keep talking then. 

Also, one of the things that’s very — oh, thank you very much. I’m glad you like it all. Okay, now I’m seeing questions. This is great. Is there a trusted site where we can learn what is safe and isn’t safe in pregnancy? Yes, you could even just go so far as to — first of all, through the NIH, which is the national institute, they have what’s called NCCAM. I would encourage you to get on their list, and they can answer any questions about essential oils and herbs in terms of pregnancy. That’s a very important thing to know about. So, it seems like these practices would be helpful to set a nice, relaxing, healing atmosphere — yes, absolutely. When I go in to do workshop places, I usually try to be there at least half an hour before just to be able to set up kind of both an energy thing and an environment that people can feel safe in. Because, as I tell my clients, the most important thing is for them to feel safe in my office, and whatever they come or their expectations are, I have none. I’m just there to help support and guide their way. 

Pressure points, invasive skull and on the hands. Yes, those are extremely helpful. And I also want to share, for people who live in Washington and Oregon — I’m not sure where other people live — but I already told you about the pencil. We have what are called — and if you’re in Ohio — they’re called buckeyes, right? But these are horse chestnuts; these are not the ones that you eat. These are the round, shiny ones you find on the ground this time of the year. They generally look like this and they’re pretty rounded, but as they dry, you can see they get this flat part. So, I collect a bunch of these for my year, and what I do is I show people that come to my workshops — again, if you don’t have a strong hand, you can use this to work on your neck. When I do stuff with carpal tunnel, I have people do this on their interosseous membrane, and it doesn’t put that pressure on your thumb. So, that is really good; that’s what these little horse chestnuts are, but you really need to caution people these are not the ones you eat. These are poisonous, and so there is some concern there. 

Which one did you say that it’s good to provide to clients to use? If they suffer from insomnia, lavender is the best one, and I usually tell people to put it here. What I also experienced when people are trying to go to sleep is they’re laying there holding their breath, going, “Oh my God, it’s 3:30, 3:35, I’ve got to get up.” So, what I ask people to do is I ask people to just give this a try — if your back is uncomfortable laying on your back. put a blanket rolled up on a pillowcase underneath you. And what I suggest to people — I’m just going to adjust this here — is you lay on your back with your hands up here. I didn’t do this with me. Don’t worry, I won’t let you fall asleep, but you will slow down a bunch. And you just slowly take a couple of breaths, put a little lavender on your pillow. You can put it on your nightgown, on your pajamas, on your skin. Lavender is the one oil that is called the mother of all the oils that you can use directly. And you just keep moving your hands down and down and down and down. And usually, by the time people get to their bellies, they’re asleep.

One other thing that I’ll share with people, if people want to work through and not sleep on their chest anymore. It’s a bit harsh for everybody, but it does work and it goes back to the three-week rule, generally speaking. What you do is you take a t-shirt and you duct tape a tennis ball there. If you kind of poke right here, this is cartilage, so it’s why it doesn’t feel really good when somebody does this to you. If you duct tape a tennis ball here, every time you go to turn onto your stomach, it’s going to wake you up and you’ll probably yell my name and that’s okay, but it’ll get you. In three weeks, you won’t be doing that anymore. Then you can start building a pattern of sleeping on your back. Now, one other thing just very quickly. I believe that they are going to send out a copy of the list of the essential oils also for you. If not, my information is on there and I will be glad to send it to you.

The other thing I wanted to say about beds is mattresses. It’s really important that you, for all of us, to flip our mattress on a quarterly basis. If you have a pillow top, you can’t do that, but most of us have regular mattresses. So, you flip it up and down and you do it side to side. When people — again, I work with people who are low income. What I suggest to them, because good mattresses are extremely expensive, is to get a piece of plywood and just put it between your mattress and your box spring. Or, you can go to a foam store and just get some really dense foam — not the egg crate foam they used to give everybody all the time in the hospital, but that more dense foam. And that will also give you a more complete, resting sleep because when you don’t sleep well, it’s really hard to do your day. 

So, are there questions? What else can I share with you? I have so much more I can share, but I’d rather — you know, few things, a bunch of things —and I can follow up if you have any specific questions about yourself or your clients that you can think of that I might be able to help with. Are these oils good for children? Essential oils are not good for children under the age of five — not even in a diffuser, to be very honest with you. 

Feet rubs, where to touch. So, your spine is the dividing line; with some exceptions, everything on the left side of your body is on your left foot, and the right side, the right foot. Exceptions: You have one uterus, but it’s on both of your feet on the inside, down by your ankle bone. Same thing with prostate glands for men; they only have one, but it’s represented in two places on the foot. There are many reflexology books, and it really is a class. The only contraindication for reflexology is diabetes because people that have had diabetes tend to lose the sensation in their hands and their feet, and you can do some damage. I’ve done programs for parents with kids, and this would be perfect for parents of kids that have fetal alcohol or post-drug experiences, but they will go right to sleep. When I teach single parents, they are like, “Oh my God, my kid wants to go to bed at eight o’clock, as long as I rubbed their feet.” 

Is reflexology the same thing as acupressure? No, it is not. Good question. Reflexology is specifically about the nerve endings on the hands and the feet; acupressure has to do more with meridians, Chinese medicine and techniques that are used for that. Hopefully, that answers your question. Do you know of specific practices that work well for traumatized bodies? So, I’m going to be very blunt here. When I work with someone who’s had trauma, generally, I’m working with them in therapy. They’re already in therapy because bodywork tends to accelerate the therapeutic process, and it’s more important — the practices, I mean. There are many kinds of practices that are good. Craniosacral work, integrative work is good. Energy work is good. It’s hard to answer that question — not because I’m trying to be evasive, but because I’m more concerned about the person who’s doing the work than I am about the work. 

I must say that massage — if I were to have to go into massage therapy today, I would not do this. It’s become more about certification than it has been about skill, and so I believe it’s super important for you to find someone that you really feel comfortable working with. That you can have conversations with, that then you can work with as a team with a client so that there are no surprises. I supervise some other massage therapists, and I don’t believe that massage therapists are doing their own work — enough of their own work — to be able to always do this work. They come out of massage school and think they’re like healers of the world, and that’s not the case. So, I would really advise you to be a little more careful here. 

I’m looking at this other question. I was thinking about ciliary treatments, to recommend not replacing the — oh yeah, absolutely. I will say to you, and I’m not trying to be discriminatory here — in Portland, at least, there are a lot of Asian spas that do foot reflexology for $30 an hour that people are really attracted to. They do not do a medical intake first. They don’t speak English, so you cannot communicate very well with them. That would not be the kind of reflexology that I would suggest. I would suggest that you go, you can — some people in salons are credentialed for reflexology, but in Oregon, at least, people who do pedicures and stuff do not have to be credentialed in massage. So again, I would just ask you to be careful, but reflexology is wonderful. It’s certainly one of the choices that I try to pick for people in terms of getting them to then work on themselves.

 Anybody else? I’d like to know, is there anything that isn’t helpful for you to have in this short presentation that I can know from to use another time? It is hard to use this much time, you know, to have this little amount of time. But for me, again, the most important thing is for you to learn a couple of things that when you’re successful in, you can share them with your clients. Believe me, the change that goes on in the trust that’s made is really significant. And also, people don’t have money necessarily to go get a massage, but just using some of the hypervigilant stuff that I’m talking about and allowing people to kind of pick what works for them. 

The last thing I’m just going to say really fast is in this study, I gave everybody a basket. It was, you know, when you go to the dollar store, they have those black rocks that you can put at the bottom of a container. So, I bought a bag of those. I’ve put about five of those in this little container. I had a little bottle of lavender oil. I had a horse chestnut and I had a little, tiny rose quartz stone. I work a lot with rocks, and I put it in there. And again, it was a small sample group, but everyone said that people really liked having something to hold on to. So, when you go to the beach and you pick up some beach rocks and you’ve got buckets of them at your house from the last 20 years, I would encourage you to take them into your facility, your office, and see what people pick up. And realize that’s giving them a tactile thing that’ll help them when they’re looking at whatever’s going on in their recovery. So, if this is working for everyone, and I think that I’ve answered everybody’s question, here’s my information. Please reach out. I’m more than willing to answer questions that you guys have after this. And, nice, deep breath.

Thank you for watching this video. We hope you enjoyed the presentation.

Objectives and Summary:

Whether or not they’re in recovery, most people feel physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, muscle tension and general discomfort. Jack Gethner, an experienced bodywork and massage therapist, shares some tips, exercises and low-cost tools that mental health professionals can use to help their clients relax.

After watching this presentation, the viewer will:

  • Be aware of relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, self-massage and effective forms of sleep
  • Know how to make clients feel more at ease and open to practicing relaxation techniques
  • Understand the basics of reflexology, as well as both the benefits and dangers of essential oils

Presentation Materials:

Jacki Gethner, bodywork and massage therapist with over 30 years of experience, is a professional trainer and educator dedicated to sharing practical skills. She has shared collaborations with nonprofits, government agencies, and other health educators as a certified alcohol and drug counselor (CADC1) from 1998-2019. In 2009, Jacki Gethner was awarded the National Kaiser Permanente Diversity Award for her work in the HIV/AIDS arena, with which she began her nonprofit, Women of a Certain Age (WOACA).

Welcome to the Community Education Series, hosted by The Recovery Village and Advanced Recovery Systems. I’d like to introduce our speaker today, Jacki Gethner. Jacki is a bodywork and massage therapist with over 30 years of experience as a professional trainer and educator dedicated to sharing practical skills. She shared collaborations with nonprofits, government agencies and other health educators as a certified alcohol and drug counselor from 1998 to 2019. In 2009, Jacki was awarded the National Kaiser Permanente Diversity Award for her work in the HIV/AIDS arena, with which she began her nonprofit, Women of a Certain Age. But without further ado, I’d love to introduce our speaker today: Jacki Gethner. 

Jacki:

Thank you very much. So, I will be very honest with this and say this is the first presentation that I have done on Zoom. And whereas I teach exercise classes for people with arthritis on Zoom, this is a very different kind of presentation. I’m hoping that we can have a lot of conversation about what’s going on for folks, because this whole bodywork thing and how we’re responding to relapse prevention, I believe, is the much bigger picture of how we’re dealing with stress. And we couldn’t be having this on a better day than after our election, which still isn’t over. So, whereas I don’t talk about politics, I will talk about the fact that as I’ve been watching people in the last day or so. People have been relating to each other around how they’re dealing with the stress of both COVID and the election. The implications of the election, certainly here in Oregon and in Washington — we’re looking at repercussions from that, and all of those kinds of things are increasing our stress.

If you look at people who are in recovery, they have all of those kinds of issues that we were just talking about as well. “Wow. Things are just so messed up. Maybe it’d be better to just go get high or go have a drink.” One of the things that I was seeing was that people were definitely indulging in things they might not be doing except on an occasional basis, out of a lack of powerlessness of being able to change very much of what’s going on. One of the things that I know is that your skin is the largest organ in your body, and so most of the time, for many, many reasons, we neglect how we’re really feeling and we push on and we make a bad decision or any number of kinds of things. And I do believe that one of the things that are missing in the recovery picture is looking at how the body plays a big part in that, in terms of the body was where the behavior occurred — the drugs or the alcohol, or however you’re going to discuss that. 

But it’s also the fact that when you look at some of the issues of addiction, you’re looking at trauma and you’re looking at body memory kinds of things. And so not only was the behavior to get the drugs possibly involved in a body experience but certainly, the response to the drugs or the alcohol was body-related, I believe. And I see as people are getting older that we, again, are focusing on those outside surface things and that people — I see long-term people in recovery who have a really good program, but they’re not necessarily moving forward in some of the things around. They’re aging, and I’ve seen where that’s put people a little bit more at risk. Does that make sense to the people who are out there? I really don’t have an idea of who’s out there at this point.

Thank you, thank you very much. So, what I’d like to do is just talk about our experiences with our bodies, because the program that I’ve just started has come as a result of a three-year program with OHSU and Harvard around probation officers and their clients and why clients do not connect up so well. So, I came along, and myself and Dr. Mark Loveless created more of a physical approach to why that doesn’t work and how probation officers and I believe drug and alcohol counselors are in a position to use your skills, and what works and doesn’t work for you in terms of how you look at your own stress and self-care as how it then will be implemented or could be implemented by your clients.

So, what we did just basically in the study is we had five people from different departments of community justice, and their only prerequisite was to have at least one client that they felt would be open to doing this work. We did a three-and-a-half-hour workshop, and folks got a little basket with things in it, which I will speak with you about in a little bit. A month later, all the responses from before and after the workshop had changed pretty drastically in terms of not only the people that we were working with, but their clients — in terms of their clients’ abilities to want to learn more about self-care to see the beginnings. Of course, it was just the beginnings, but the beginnings of how those kinds of behaviors in their body can help them with some of the anxiety or some of those out-of-their-body feelings that they might have post-drug recovery.

So, one of the most important things that I believe happens there is the whole concept of breathing, which is one of the most benign things that I can teach you about because everybody says, “Oh, well, I breathe all the time.” If you pay attention to folks that are in your groups or that you see as clients, or even it’s a great skill if you are a parent too — look at your kids. Whenever something’s definitely going on, whether it is a pain issue, it’s a fear issue or it’s just being pretty disconnected, we tend to hold it up to our breath when we’re in trauma that way. When you just do very simple things, like work with breathing, people can feel a huge difference. And the way I can explain that to you is this is how most people breathe, and then maybe you can kind of keep an eye on your clients and people at work, and I’ll show you how to kind of remedy that without saying “breathe.” ‘Cause people don’t breathe when you tell them to; it’s kind of like telling people to relax and then they go into a totally different thing.

So, this is how most people tend to breathe — like this. I’m sure you’ve probably observed people in your groups or individual clients that you see that do the same thing. So, what I’d like you to do is I’d like you to just experience this with me and see what a difference you feel. In fact, in some ways, which I think is a great group experience, is that you just ask people to raise their hands when they think a minute has gone by. Most people are barely into 25 seconds and think a minute’s really up, so they don’t think they can get a lot done because it’s only a minute, but breathing is one of the things that has some of the greatest benefits.

So, unless people have asthma, emphysema or anything like that, this works really well. I would just ask you to just sit up in your chair if you would, please. Just kind of bring your shoulders down and just take some really slow, deep breaths in through your nose and slowly out your mouth. So again, I’m not sure who all is in the house, but how does that feel to you? Different from how you might’ve been breathing before I started this? If anybody has any feedback — again, I’m not sure how many people are out there. It wakes you up, right? So obviously, the oxygen is going through your whole body versus just staying in the core of your body. So, that’s one of the things. 

Thank you very much; now I know people are there. So, what I would share with you as we talk about — people have cold hands, cold feet, and in some cases, cold butts. And the reason that that happens is because our oxygen goes to the core of our body first, which are all of our organs, and then it kind of trickles out to our extremities. If you’re not taking good slow, deep breaths — and you can’t do that when you’re talking or it’ll be more, “Yeah. Hi, my name is Jacki,” and that’s definitely not where we were going. But most of the time, most people aren’t talking when they’re in a group. They’re not talking — they’re listening. And sometimes, because of what’s being said or it’s triggering something for them, they just automatically just kind of hold their breath.

So, I’m just going to have you guys experience a little bit, and I’m going to take you through a little something and see if we can even get you to breathe a little bit better. So, sit up nice and tall again, please, and just take some slow, deep breaths, and just generally soften your eyes. For a lot of people, closing their eyes is pretty traumatic, so I go “looking with soft eyes,” which means you’re looking down at the carpet. You’re not staring right at somebody. You’re kind of looking down and you’re looking softly, and just go ahead and breathe. I’m going to just start making some different sounds, and I’d like you to just pay attention to your body. If you’re starting to feel lightheaded, it’s because your body is like, “Oh my gosh, I’m not used to all this oxygen.” So, you can either put your hands over your mouth or just breathe a little slower and that should go away for you. But I’m just going to do some sound, and I’d like you to pay attention to your body and how it changes.

Take a nice, big breath. How was that? Did you notice any changes in your breathing? Did you notice a change in your awareness or vigilance? Absolutely, breathing gets much more shallow in the loud sounds much more — much more, right? Even though ideally, I would be using music for this kind of situation, I work with people who are very low income. A lot of the time, I work with people who are houseless. They don’t have Amazon Prime to be able to turn onto music, which is why I did some of the others. So, then it would give you still that same experience and it might give you opportunities to do them also with your clients. 

The sharp noise startled me into the shorter breath, obviously, and it does help connect you to that outside environment. So, one of the things that I find to be really helpful is, if you practice in an office or you practice in a facility where you have group rooms, that you always have some kind of background sound going on. They did a study with dentists, and not many people I know enjoy going to the dentist, but they did this incredible study where they took people’s blood pressure before they went into the dentist. Before they went into the office, people’s blood pressure was really high. And the dentists that had aquariums in their offices were able to see that people’s blood pressure was lower just from listening to the bubbling of the aquarium and that their stress was much less when they went into the dentist. 

And then they, as you probably are well aware, started giving people headsets so you can listen to music, which will also help break up that hypervigilance of all those drills and the things that they use in the dentist. This is also very helpful for when people are sleeping and the hypervigilance that people feel, especially when they’re used to being up in their drugging days at two and three in the morning, and they might wake up and they’re not able to sleep. I suggest, for people that have that kind of hypervigilance at night, one of the things that I suggest is that they — if they have an interest in getting a small aquarium, that they do that just because the bubbler is that constant noise or they can use a fan and get the same kind of thing. There are also people that — if there’s any sound, they can’t sleep, so one size does not fit all in terms of people’s experiences with bodywork. 

So, I would really like everybody to take a slow, deep breath. The other time people don’t breathe is when they’re concentrating on things, and even when they think they’re being really attuned to it. I do this myself too; I catch myself and go, “I didn’t breathe again.” So, that’s a very constant thing. One of the things that I give to my clients — and again, I was going to make a sheet — I have a sheet that has “breathe” written on it, and you just cut it up and post it places where you spend time. It takes three weeks to make or break a habit that’s not an addiction. But I was thinking it might be — for those of you who work with groups or with clients, you could do it in terms of just giving them paper and having them write “breathe” on it and look at the colors they choose for an awareness of what colors make them feel more relaxed. Or, if you do it as a collage and have them put it where they spend time, like in front of the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink. I have people put them in their cars, but not over their speedometers so that they don’t get pulled over cause they’re breathing instead of watching their speed. But there are all kinds of situations where people can use that help. A lot of times, when a client quits breathing like I said before, I won’t say to them, “Well, just breathe. You’re not breathing.” What I find is that if I just make my breath a little bit louder, their body just kind of kicks in and starts breathing with that also. 

So far, questions or does this make sense? Okay, I’m going to go forward with it, hold on. So, that kind of takes care of just general anxiety. I’m going to be really honest — I have to go to traffic court on Monday in McMinnville. I got a ticket coming back from my trip to California driving late at night, not knowing where I was going, and I will be anxious going to court. So, I will sit out in my car for probably a good 10 or 15 minutes and just do this breathing so that I can feel grounded into my body. Another thing that this would be helpful for is headaches. One of the leading causes of stress for people or the symptoms of stress is headaches. As we detox, that’s certainly a huge part of that. What I’d like you to do — and this might sound a little bit silly, but there really is a good reason for it — I’d like you to take your hand and just scratch against the side of your head here and then stop. And what I would be talking to you about is: The best part of the whole experience of going to the beauty shop or the barbershop is getting your hair washed. The reason that that is the case is because you have a very thin muscle that covers your head. That’s called the upper cranium muscle. 

It’s like that old song — the neck bone’s connected to the shoulder bone. Well, all your muscles are really connected, and when they start to tighten up, they start to tighten up other ones. Probably, your experience of scratching on this side made it go, “Oh, this feels really different than this side,” and that’s what I was hoping for. So, you can go ahead and do this side too. One of the things that I do to try to make this not this big move — “You got to meditate in the morning” experience — but make it very practical with people’s lives. I find that when people take showers, they’re washing their hair, going, “Oh my God, I’m going to be late for work. I have this meeting today at 10 o’clock and I have a little bit.” And they come out and maybe their hair is clean, but they’ve not done anything to help ground their body and help be intentional for the day. So, I encourage people that when they do this, all they do is breathe. They don’t think about anything for the day; they just massage their skull and then they get out, do whatever they’re going to do. My experience is pretty positive around just even taking that little step and working on the breathing thing. I even had somebody put “breathe” in Saran wrap so they could put it in their shower, but it’s a great way to work on that neck and shoulders kind of area. 

Again, headaches are very intrusive in our lives, and they cause a lot of stress. One of the main reasons for headaches has to do with vasoconstriction and not being hydrated enough. And when I talk about being hydrated, I’m not talking about energy drinks or Starbucks or anything like that. I’m just talking about basic water. In Chinese medicine, in the winter, Asian people have a lot of hot water. I drink a lot of hot water in the wintertime, but the hydration is also what’s going to keep your body flowing in a more relaxed mode, especially as you get older. One of the greatest problems with people as they get older is not having enough hydration. It seems much easier to do in the summertime. We don’t think about it as much — work in the wintertime — and you want something that’s not going to make your body have to work to digest it, which is why you would go to water or tea or even coffee or chai. Even if it doesn’t have a lot of sweeteners and flavors and stuff like that in it, it would be good for you also.

So, one of the things that I feel is really important when people are in treatment is posture, and the reason for that is that, I think, people have so many postures ingrained from their addiction and their home situations that contribute to that. And all of that contributes to a lot of neck and shoulder tension. When I meet people, they either say their tension is in their neck and their shoulders, or it’s generally in their low back. We could talk about a lot of other situations, but these are the two. So, what I try to encourage people to do is when I watch people in groups where I’m in groups, people are leaned over like this. You might guess that this isn’t good posture for any of us, though we all get into it from time to time. What I hope people will understand is that we are one whole system, so when you have one thing off, it continues to work through the rest of your body. You have six layers of muscles in your back, and most of them — not all of them, but most of them — attach at the base of your skull and the top of your pelvis, right? So, what you have in your neck, if you’ve ever seen pictures of this. And if this was a full workshop, you would be seeing all this anatomy, but you have all these muscles that run down your neck and they all attach back here at the base of your skull, which is your occiput. Lemme turn it around so you can see just a little bit.

So, this is the base of your skull here. If you take your finger and you tack it under that base of your skull and you lean into it, it really hurts, and it probably sends sensations around the whole top of your head. So, what I want you to do is I want you to lean in till it hurts just a little bit, and I want you to breathe, and then I’m going to turn around, but don’t stop. You just stay here and breathe, and in about maybe three to five breathes, that pressure should start to go away. If it doesn’t, lessen your pressure a little bit and see if you can make it work. Now, as you’re doing that, I would like you to do it. And when you’re done, we’ll see how it works. If you could just send me a note and let me know if it worked for you.

So, a lot of people have arthritis in their hands. They have other things going on in their hands. Certainly aren’t as strong as mine are from doing massage for over 30 years. So, one of the things that I give to people in my workshops — and I’m sure that people have their own, they probably have the erasers chewed on them — is a brand new pencil. Because that allows you to put the eraser in here and move your head around. So, you feel that right area because it can be an eighth of an inch. It really is amazing, but then you will feel that tightness and you should be able to feel it release. 

So, was that anything successful for anybody that is responding here? Make sure you still breathe. That’s fabulous, Katrina. That’s great. So, I don’t know if you guys are seeing this, but she’s saying, “My body went into spontaneous, deep breathing without any effort when I pressed in that area.” Now, the thing about it is, ideally, if that works so well, we should just walk around breathing and touching ourselves. Probably wouldn’t go over really big, but please know that whenever I do things for agencies or staffs of agencies, I talk about using these techniques for your own wellness. When you’re in a meeting where you can’t really contribute, all you can do is listen. So you don’t feel like you’ve really wasted your time, you can work on your own self-care that most people don’t have enough room for. Probably that area that you touched initially, you can still feel, and that’s a new body memory is what that is for you. So, what you would do is you would start behind the ear and you’d work your way, slowly, all the way across. And again, if you can’t get it to release within three or four breaths, you loosen it up a little bit and you’ll see it’ll go faster and faster. And you come over to the other side and you work from right there at the spine, all the way across, under the base of your occiput, which is the base of your skull.

So, the other way you can work with headaches is — and I won’t have a lot of time to talk about this today — but reflexology and the benefits of reflexology. So, you have 7,000 nerve endings in your body and they all end in your hands and your feet. That’s why the shoes you pick and wear are so very important for you, but they also are a trigger for people because when you don’t have shoes that work well for you, which a lot of people that are houseless, that are low income, don’t get to go buy Adidas or KEEN shoes or those kinds of things, but they can work on their feet and that will help them deal with anxiety. It’ll help them deal with depression. I’m not feeling that’s a skill that you guys can really utilize in this presentation, but I want to share it because there’s all kinds of things that you can do with reflexology, in terms of menstrual cramps, in terms of constipation, in terms of some of the issues that come with recovery that, again, get people being more connected to their own bodies because they’re working on themselves. The part I’m going to share with you today, though, is in hand reflexology.

In hand reflexology, this part here is called the anatomical snuff box ‘cause the old colonial guys used to sniff snuff in that little pocket there. If you put your hand into this crevice here — and I don’t mean in the skin part, I’m hoping you can see me here, but I’m talking back up in here — you should get a pretty good sensation of discomfort right up in here. Now, if you have a headache on the left side of your head, if you massage this area and just slowly breathe the way I’ve been teaching you, your headache’s going to go away. Excuse me, if it’s a general headache. If it’s a migraine, this won’t work for that. But if it’s a general stress headache, this will work for you. Now, you might have to go back and teach your clients to do it again in 15 or 20 minutes, but they can do that. The headache’s on the right side, you do the right side. If it’s a broad-based headache, you don’t have to — you know, we’ll do both hands really quickly. You just do one breathe; they can continue to talk or pay attention to the class and go back with the other side, and that’ll generally make their headaches go away.

So, those are two more hints about headaches, but I’m going to now bring it back into sleep because I think sleep is really important, and I want to make sure we have a few minutes for that. Again, people do not have the money to buy new mattresses, new pillows; people in treatment don’t necessarily have the best equipment in terms of being able to sleep. What I suggest for people is — any kind of pillow you have, take a towel and roll it up with rubber bands on it, slip it in the pillowcase and support your neck better, so that if you sleep on your back, your neck is very supported. When people sleep on their stomach, that’s pretty much — in my 32 years’ experience — a sign that they’ve had trauma in their body, because this is what’s protected.

If they sleep on their side, that’s still a good thing, but people have issues with their arms and are numbing in their arms from breaking, leaning on the nerve pathways so that the circulation stops. 

I just want to make it really simple. When you sleep, you can use a fan or you can use your radio or whatever to help you sleep and be able to not have that hypervigilance to make your back more comfortable. Sleeping on your back is the best thing for your back. I have people roll up a blanket, put in a pillowcase and put it under their knees because that stretches your back out. These are all things you can do with very little money. When you sleep on your stomach, you’re really compressing your vertebra, but it’s an understandable response to trauma. When you sleep on your side, try not to sleep with your hip all hiked up above your waist, because that kind of torques your hips, and most of us aren’t getting enough exercise for the hips to be put through that. But all of that is helpful in terms of sleep.

I do want to just say a couple of minutes about the essential oils that I gave you a list of. So, I have to tell you that a lot of complementary medicine is pretty bogus. People are coming out here like everything else and trying to get you to sign up for these big things that cost a lot of money that you will be certified in, in terms of your practice. You need to be very careful with essential oils. They are medicine; they are like medicine. Some of them, like bergamot that you see up here in the “counter depression” — bergamot is what’s used in suntan lotion. If you put bergamot oil directly onto your skin and walk outside, you’re going to get a third-degree burn. There are certain oils that cannot be used together or used with people who are pregnant. There are certain oils that are not helpful for a lot of things, but I did want to give you some opportunity to look at some oils that you can start looking up and start with one. If you were to start with one oil at all that you wanted to use, it would be lavender. And some of the other presentations I’ve done, lavender is really helpful for headaches.

You put a little bit on the base of your skull and it just relaxes your body. It’s good for insomnia. When I worked in the world of HIV and AIDS and people’s bodies were deteriorating, we put some of the lavender water in their sheets. I’d always leave a bottle because when we feel bad about how we feel, and then when people are going through withdrawal, they’re not feeling really great about their bodies. So, having that lavender will at least keep them calm and maybe diminish some of the personal feelings that they’re going through so that they can just kind of focus on where they need to go to.

Basil is a great oil for remembering things. When you have people in recovery, a lot of times, their memory issues aren’t great; basil is really good for that. Clary sage is good for that to raise your spirits. I will share with you that rose, sandalwood, jasmine, neroli are very expensive oils. You’re not going to want to use them. The chamomile for the immune system — we grow chamomile here. You can buy bulk chamomile, just drink the tea. That’ll be very good for you, but all of these are way more than I can explain to you today, but I hate people going out and spending, again, a lot of money on things. As much as I don’t like supporting Amazon, they have a very cheap oil diffuser. When you have a group room or you have an office, if people don’t have allergies, it’s really interesting. I’ve set up two aromatherapy projects for Alzheimer’s facilities, and there’s oils that you can use that you get people to engage more and there’s oils that cause them to relax more.

If you were going to use these in your practice at all, I would encourage you to use them in a diffuser, again, making sure no one has an allergy. But more is not better with essential oils, and some of these essential oils — if you use more, then you should have a different effect than the one you originally started. So, I really want to offer some caution there because people think that anything that’s natural is good. It’s not; we also don’t want to get people into a position where they can’t do anything unless they have essential oils. That’s the same kind of dependency. So, questions so far? Anything — could you share with me what’s helpful that you’re getting out of this presentation so far? Okay, I’m going to just keep talking then. 

Also, one of the things that’s very — oh, thank you very much. I’m glad you like it all. Okay, now I’m seeing questions. This is great. Is there a trusted site where we can learn what is safe and isn’t safe in pregnancy? Yes, you could even just go so far as to — first of all, through the NIH, which is the national institute, they have what’s called NCCAM. I would encourage you to get on their list, and they can answer any questions about essential oils and herbs in terms of pregnancy. That’s a very important thing to know about. So, it seems like these practices would be helpful to set a nice, relaxing, healing atmosphere — yes, absolutely. When I go in to do workshop places, I usually try to be there at least half an hour before just to be able to set up kind of both an energy thing and an environment that people can feel safe in. Because, as I tell my clients, the most important thing is for them to feel safe in my office, and whatever they come or their expectations are, I have none. I’m just there to help support and guide their way. 

Pressure points, invasive skull and on the hands. Yes, those are extremely helpful. And I also want to share, for people who live in Washington and Oregon — I’m not sure where other people live — but I already told you about the pencil. We have what are called — and if you’re in Ohio — they’re called buckeyes, right? But these are horse chestnuts; these are not the ones that you eat. These are the round, shiny ones you find on the ground this time of the year. They generally look like this and they’re pretty rounded, but as they dry, you can see they get this flat part. So, I collect a bunch of these for my year, and what I do is I show people that come to my workshops — again, if you don’t have a strong hand, you can use this to work on your neck. When I do stuff with carpal tunnel, I have people do this on their interosseous membrane, and it doesn’t put that pressure on your thumb. So, that is really good; that’s what these little horse chestnuts are, but you really need to caution people these are not the ones you eat. These are poisonous, and so there is some concern there. 

Which one did you say that it’s good to provide to clients to use? If they suffer from insomnia, lavender is the best one, and I usually tell people to put it here. What I also experienced when people are trying to go to sleep is they’re laying there holding their breath, going, “Oh my God, it’s 3:30, 3:35, I’ve got to get up.” So, what I ask people to do is I ask people to just give this a try — if your back is uncomfortable laying on your back. put a blanket rolled up on a pillowcase underneath you. And what I suggest to people — I’m just going to adjust this here — is you lay on your back with your hands up here. I didn’t do this with me. Don’t worry, I won’t let you fall asleep, but you will slow down a bunch. And you just slowly take a couple of breaths, put a little lavender on your pillow. You can put it on your nightgown, on your pajamas, on your skin. Lavender is the one oil that is called the mother of all the oils that you can use directly. And you just keep moving your hands down and down and down and down. And usually, by the time people get to their bellies, they’re asleep.

One other thing that I’ll share with people, if people want to work through and not sleep on their chest anymore. It’s a bit harsh for everybody, but it does work and it goes back to the three-week rule, generally speaking. What you do is you take a t-shirt and you duct tape a tennis ball there. If you kind of poke right here, this is cartilage, so it’s why it doesn’t feel really good when somebody does this to you. If you duct tape a tennis ball here, every time you go to turn onto your stomach, it’s going to wake you up and you’ll probably yell my name and that’s okay, but it’ll get you. In three weeks, you won’t be doing that anymore. Then you can start building a pattern of sleeping on your back. Now, one other thing just very quickly. I believe that they are going to send out a copy of the list of the essential oils also for you. If not, my information is on there and I will be glad to send it to you.

The other thing I wanted to say about beds is mattresses. It’s really important that you, for all of us, to flip our mattress on a quarterly basis. If you have a pillow top, you can’t do that, but most of us have regular mattresses. So, you flip it up and down and you do it side to side. When people — again, I work with people who are low income. What I suggest to them, because good mattresses are extremely expensive, is to get a piece of plywood and just put it between your mattress and your box spring. Or, you can go to a foam store and just get some really dense foam — not the egg crate foam they used to give everybody all the time in the hospital, but that more dense foam. And that will also give you a more complete, resting sleep because when you don’t sleep well, it’s really hard to do your day. 

So, are there questions? What else can I share with you? I have so much more I can share, but I’d rather — you know, few things, a bunch of things —and I can follow up if you have any specific questions about yourself or your clients that you can think of that I might be able to help with. Are these oils good for children? Essential oils are not good for children under the age of five — not even in a diffuser, to be very honest with you. 

Feet rubs, where to touch. So, your spine is the dividing line; with some exceptions, everything on the left side of your body is on your left foot, and the right side, the right foot. Exceptions: You have one uterus, but it’s on both of your feet on the inside, down by your ankle bone. Same thing with prostate glands for men; they only have one, but it’s represented in two places on the foot. There are many reflexology books, and it really is a class. The only contraindication for reflexology is diabetes because people that have had diabetes tend to lose the sensation in their hands and their feet, and you can do some damage. I’ve done programs for parents with kids, and this would be perfect for parents of kids that have fetal alcohol or post-drug experiences, but they will go right to sleep. When I teach single parents, they are like, “Oh my God, my kid wants to go to bed at eight o’clock, as long as I rubbed their feet.” 

Is reflexology the same thing as acupressure? No, it is not. Good question. Reflexology is specifically about the nerve endings on the hands and the feet; acupressure has to do more with meridians, Chinese medicine and techniques that are used for that. Hopefully, that answers your question. Do you know of specific practices that work well for traumatized bodies? So, I’m going to be very blunt here. When I work with someone who’s had trauma, generally, I’m working with them in therapy. They’re already in therapy because bodywork tends to accelerate the therapeutic process, and it’s more important — the practices, I mean. There are many kinds of practices that are good. Craniosacral work, integrative work is good. Energy work is good. It’s hard to answer that question — not because I’m trying to be evasive, but because I’m more concerned about the person who’s doing the work than I am about the work. 

I must say that massage — if I were to have to go into massage therapy today, I would not do this. It’s become more about certification than it has been about skill, and so I believe it’s super important for you to find someone that you really feel comfortable working with. That you can have conversations with, that then you can work with as a team with a client so that there are no surprises. I supervise some other massage therapists, and I don’t believe that massage therapists are doing their own work — enough of their own work — to be able to always do this work. They come out of massage school and think they’re like healers of the world, and that’s not the case. So, I would really advise you to be a little more careful here. 

I’m looking at this other question. I was thinking about ciliary treatments, to recommend not replacing the — oh yeah, absolutely. I will say to you, and I’m not trying to be discriminatory here — in Portland, at least, there are a lot of Asian spas that do foot reflexology for $30 an hour that people are really attracted to. They do not do a medical intake first. They don’t speak English, so you cannot communicate very well with them. That would not be the kind of reflexology that I would suggest. I would suggest that you go, you can — some people in salons are credentialed for reflexology, but in Oregon, at least, people who do pedicures and stuff do not have to be credentialed in massage. So again, I would just ask you to be careful, but reflexology is wonderful. It’s certainly one of the choices that I try to pick for people in terms of getting them to then work on themselves.

 Anybody else? I’d like to know, is there anything that isn’t helpful for you to have in this short presentation that I can know from to use another time? It is hard to use this much time, you know, to have this little amount of time. But for me, again, the most important thing is for you to learn a couple of things that when you’re successful in, you can share them with your clients. Believe me, the change that goes on in the trust that’s made is really significant. And also, people don’t have money necessarily to go get a massage, but just using some of the hypervigilant stuff that I’m talking about and allowing people to kind of pick what works for them. 

The last thing I’m just going to say really fast is in this study, I gave everybody a basket. It was, you know, when you go to the dollar store, they have those black rocks that you can put at the bottom of a container. So, I bought a bag of those. I’ve put about five of those in this little container. I had a little bottle of lavender oil. I had a horse chestnut and I had a little, tiny rose quartz stone. I work a lot with rocks, and I put it in there. And again, it was a small sample group, but everyone said that people really liked having something to hold on to. So, when you go to the beach and you pick up some beach rocks and you’ve got buckets of them at your house from the last 20 years, I would encourage you to take them into your facility, your office, and see what people pick up. And realize that’s giving them a tactile thing that’ll help them when they’re looking at whatever’s going on in their recovery. So, if this is working for everyone, and I think that I’ve answered everybody’s question, here’s my information. Please reach out. I’m more than willing to answer questions that you guys have after this. And, nice, deep breath.

Thank you for watching this video. We hope you enjoyed the presentation.

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