I have a confession, I am closet Cupper!

I think this seems weird to say this, but I love getting cupped. What is cupping you ask, and why do I love it so much? Cupping is a treatment that creates a partial vacuum on the skin using glass or plastic suction cups. You usually will feel a tight sensation in the area of the cup. Depending on your comfort the cups may be moved around or left in place. They may remain on your body briefly or for longer amounts of time. Each treatment is unique depending upon what is going on with you that day. The most common area that is cupped is the back, but the cups work well on other areas.

The suction that is created by the cups increases blood and energy flow to the area, and relieves tension and tightness. The increase of circulation facilitates localized healing. Cupping relieves pain by opening up the meridians, or energy channels, of the body and improving energy flow to every organ and tissue of the body.

For me personally, when life gets stressful and intense (which is often), my whole body tightens, especially my shoulders and neck. Even my head feels tight, almost like I am on the verge of getting a headache. Cupping seems to provide instant relief and similar to a therapeutic massage I feel my whole body release and the tightness melts away. I find getting cupping on a regular basis, especially if I have a lot on my plate, releases my tension and allows me to continue to keep living life at a high level.

Cupping has numerous benefits — it can help remove toxins from the body and stimulate the flow of fresh blood, lymph, and stagnant energy throughout the body. It often works wonders for patients with the flu, colds, coughs, back and muscle pain, poor circulation, anxiety, allergies, fevers, aches and myriad other pains.
I will warn you that cupping will leave bruises, but they are temporary. The bruising typically goes away within 3-5 days. In addition, the session can be relaxing, but at times the cups can feel uncomfortable as they are moved around the skin. BUT, that means the cups are doing their job, the more tense you are, the more intense the cupping can be, if you are new to cupping the therapist with typically ease you in. Some of our massage therapists can add cupping to your massage session. I personally, love seeing our Acupuncturists. They incorporate cupping, acupuncture and bodywork all in one session, but I am also a huge fan of Acupuncture, I find it to be extremely effective for me on many levels.

In addition to regular cupping, there is also fire cupping and blood cupping. I have not tried either of these, so I cannot personally speak to their benefits. If you are like me, and feel like your body gets tight during times of stress, I would high recommend you give cupping a try.

To cupping and your health,

The Art of Surrender

I was having lunch with a friend and we got on the topic of times in our lives where we have to let go and surrender to what is. Trying to control something out of our control only stresses ourselves out and doesn’t help the situation or our stress levels.

There are many times in my life that I have surrendered, now don’t get me wrong surrendering is an art form and must be used at the right time. Some people can use it as an excuse for giving up on something. I don’t want surrender to be misconstrued with giving up.

There are certain things that we can control in our lives. We can try to make good choices, with what we eat, how we treat our bodies, how we spend our free time, which people we choose to spend our time with, and lifestyle choices that support us or sabotage us in our daily lives. Life is certainly tricky and unique to each and every one of us.

There are many things in our lives that are out of our control; how we grew up, our parents and family we were born into, and hard times that we face in our lives, racism, sexism and classism. Deciding when to surrender can be a powerful tool to use in your life, to help get you through the really tough times.

I made the very difficult decision to file personal bankruptcy back in 2008, once I made the decision, I surrendered the decision to the Trustee who oversaw my case. I could have lost The Wellness Center and my home, but amazingly I walked away with both intact, and created a payment plan for my debt and paid it off within a few years.
When I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal, after a year into my service I went into a deep depression. I was crying every day, I couldn’t get out of bed and was obsessed with food and calories. I was sent to the Capital of Nepal, Kathmandu for a psychological evaluation. After seeing a few counselors, the medical nurse, Debbie that was in charge of my case, with certainly said, “pack your bags you are going to be transferred to Washington D.C. for evaluation.” In peace corps terms I was going to be “Pysch Vaced” Yes, it is as bad as it sounds a psychiatric evacuation, for a Peace Corps volunteer it is equivalent to getting discharged from the military service. It feels like you are a failure and it is something to be ashamed about. This was another time I had to surrender. To make matters worse, my whole family was planning on visiting me in just 10 days and I would be in Washington D.C., instead of Nepal! The timing couldn’t have been worse.

I surrendered and accepted that I was going to be sent home, and most likely would never be back to Nepal. The amazing thing that happened, was the Medical Nurse’s request for a medical evaluation was denied! She said in the 10 plus years she had worked with the Peace Corps she had never been denied a medical evacuation request. It was very humbling. While I am not religious, I do believe there are angels that are above looking over me.

I suppose part of surrendering, is surrendering to things that are beyond our human control, and instead surrendering to a higher spirit or power.
All we can do is our best in our day to day lives. To show up for ourselves and for those we care about and love. We will make mistakes (lots of mistakes), take time to reflect on those mistakes and in turn make better decisions for the future. Without reflection, we continue to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. This truly is the definition of insanity.

Work hard, be thoughtful and conscious in your decisions, be disciplined (there are too many temptations in our society, learn to say no and your life will transform) and at the right times… surrender. When you make mistakes, don’t berate yourself, give yourself limitless self-love and compassion, recognize you are human and move forward.

 

Onwards and Upwards,

Last Minute Massage Text Club Update!

We wanted to let you know that effective August 15th, 2018 our regular rates for a hour massage will move from $99 to $109.

As a participant in our “Last Minute Text program”, you will still receive $30 off of our regular massage rates. Reminder that this program cannot be combined with any other discounts.

For massage members on this program, you will still get an additional $5 off member rates, which August 15th, 2018 will move from $69 to $79.

If anyone you know is interested in joining the last minute massage have them TEXT: WELL to 77948

Your cell number will not be sold or used for any marketing practices and you may cancel anytime by texting STOP to 77948.

If you would like to read more on The Wellness Center price increase please click here.

New Pricing Changes, Effective August 15th, 2018

Since our inception, the massage industry has changed tremendously!  A decade ago when we posted an opening for a massage therapist, we would receive over 20 resumes from strong candidates.  Unfortunately, today, we generally get a handful of resumes and many do not have the experience or quality of touch necessary to work at The Wellness Center.  This is certainly a big indicator of how the industry has changed over the years and how important it is for us to retain our highly skilled therapists and ensure their longevity in the industry.

I am proud that we have created a safe, thriving and desirable place for therapists to practice.  Over half of our therapists have been with us for 3 or more years and about a quarter of them have been with us 6+ years!  This is a huge feat in the massage industry, where typically the burnout rate is high and the average massage therapist only lasts a couple of years in the business.  The physical and emotional demands on a therapist are strenuous, therefore, the proper equipment, training and down-time is a must! We understand this and have created an environment that honors these needs.

Where does this all lead?   We know that you value high-quality massages and your patronage demonstrates your awareness that a great therapist in a great setting means all the difference to your health and healing journey.  This focus, coupled with the increasing costs of doing business, means our massage prices need to change.

Effective, August 15th, 2018 prices will be increasing.

Our regular rate for a 60 minute massage (which has always and will always be a full 60 minutes of hands on bodywork) will become $109. 

Our One Hour Monthly Massage Membership Plan will be $84 per month benefits below:

  • Receive one pre-paid massage with your monthly membership fee
  • Additional 1.0 hr member massages will be $79; 1.5 hr member massages will be $118
  • One hour massage gift cards for friends and family: $99

Pricing changes are never fun, but I can confidently say that we are still the “best” deal in town for the caliber of therapeutic massage we offer and for the amount hands-on time during each session.

If you have any questions or concerns about this change, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our management team:  myself, Kris Wood, Director or Yosevine Heintz, Assistant Director.

Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you soon!

In Health,

The Myth of Consumer Self-Care

Today I was in yoga class and my teacher brought up living a life without excess, without extremes. To bask and embrace the mundane, steadiness of everyday life.  As humans we sometimes feel like we have to always be moving and always striving. There is a lot to just “being” in the world, there is profound healing in being “seen” in the world by someone else.

I talk about self-care often, and recently I read this post from Brianna Wiest in Thought Catalog. Where she discusses how self-care can often be a very unbeautiful thing. That many times people mis-interperet self-care as a way to “escape” your life and indulge by spending money, buying more things and living a life of excess. Advertisers have used manipulative advertising campaigns to try to convince you that self-care is all about spending money and extreme luxury. In Wiest words, this is “consumer self-care.”

True self-care is the exact opposite. Self-care is about creating a life that nurtures and feeds your soul. To love and accept exactly who you are in the moment, and in many ways to enjoy being normal and ordinary. Self-care is not about “fixing” yourself it is about supporting your life and living with intention.
If you are up to your ears in credit card debt, getting massages, going to expensive yoga classes, and eating out might seem like the right thing to do for yourself… but if you can’t afford it, then you are actually self-sabotaging yourself.
Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive, it can be…
• picking up a good book
• taking a bath
• going out for a walk and enjoying nature
• having tea with a good friend
• turning off your electronic devices at 9pm and getting a good night sleep
• cooking healthy meals at home, packing your lunch for work
• having time in your day, what I call “time margin” to talk to your neighbors or help a friend in need, to not feel rushed

The biggest gift we can give ourselves in this fast paced world, is time!  One of the best self-care gifts you can give yourself is the gift of time.  How can you create more downtime and margin in your life?  Rather than watch TV, can you choose to go for a walk instead? Rather than be on social media, can you call a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile?  Rather than go on a shopping spree, take a nice hot bath and read a good book.  Making wise choices is at the root of true self-care and it requires intentional effort and discipline, but the benefits are infinite.

Here’s to being “true” to your self-care journey.

In Health,

Be kind and gentle with yourself…

Owning a business is like birthing and raising a child.  It needs A LOT of energy, care and attention at the beginning years of its life.  As the years pass, it gets easier.  Businesses are all about people, especially in service businesses, the people create the “culture.”

I have owned The Wellness Center for over 17 years, I will say that the day to day running of the business is 10 times easier today than it was 10 years ago.  I work less hours, I have more confidence in my management/leadership abilities, and I have amazing team of employees and practitioners that have been with me through thick and thin.  Longevity and trust are paramount to any successful endeavor, because they contribute to the cultural fabric of the organization.

The greatest lesson I have learned over the years, is that even though the “bottom” line is important in any business, being compassionate and kind is even more important.  This can be difficult for service businesses.  When a practitioner is sick or injured, it affects the “bottom” line, but at the end of the day if you show that practitioner compassion and kindness, especially when they are at their weakest, they generally will be loyal to you over the long haul.

Putting human needs over business needs is not intuitive to American capitalism and corporate ideology, where money and materialism rule.   I have personally found that being kind and compassionate is one of the best ways to run a business and a good way to “be” in the world.  To see everyone’s humanness, helps me to have even more empathy not only in those around me, but also in myself.

What is the message here?  Be kind, gentle and loving to yourself.  We are human, and imperfect beings.    When you are kind and gentle with yourself, you have more compassion towards others and you lead in a very different way.  Don’t get me wrong every business, family and organization has to set clear, reasonable boundaries and rules, but we make exceptions to the rules when “life happens.”

Happy Summer!

 

Get a massage on Friday, May 18th, 2018 and 25% of your massage will go to Lyme Warrior!

Join us in supporting Lyme Warrior a Non-Profit dedicated towards funding and finding solutions for those suffering from chronic Lyme Disease.  Come in for a massage on Friday, May 18th, 2018 and 25% of the massage proceeds will go to Lyme Warrior.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease is caused by a bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, that is transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected insect. This can include all ticks, mosquitoes, spiders, lice, etc.  Symptoms can occur anywhere from days to years after the bite and can be wide-ranging.

It is estimated that approximately 300,000 people in the US alone are infected with the disease each year, but the actual number is probably significantly higher.

Lyme Warrior

Lyme Warrior is a team of individuals fighting Lyme Disease who all have fallen into different levels of disability by this condition and want to prevent as many others from being affected as possible. All funds raised by Massage Away Lyme and other programs go to research for a cure for chronic Lyme Disease and awareness programs.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease include but are not limited to:

fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain and swollen lymph nodes. In some cases, a Bull’s Eye rash appears.**Less than 50% of people with Lyme disease recall a Bull’s Eye rash**As the disease progresses, symptoms can include:

  • Severe headache or neck stiffness
  • Various rashes
  • Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly with the knees Loss of muscle ton or “drooping” of the face (Bells Palsy) Heart palpitation or an irregular heartbeat Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet And many other symptoms

Testing for Lyme Disease

Standard testing for Lyme Disease is 20-30% accurate, meaning most cases of Lyme are missed. Standard testing is highly inaccurate for chronic cases. Igenex is the most accurate testing currently available. However, chronic Lyme Disease is a clinical diagnosis. If you suspect chronic Lyme Disease, seek a Lyme Literate Doctor.

For more info, visit www.lymewarrior.us

Being at Peace with Your Choices and Your Life…

Manis/Pedis, Massages, Yoga, Gym Membership, Nice Dinners, Vacations… what do you choose?  Do you choose it all?   

When I was writing, “do you choose it all?” it brought back memories of the rah rah Tony Robbins or the Millionaire Mind motivational seminars, that I would go

to 10 plus years ago, where they teach you, “you can HAVE IT ALL!”  This thinking is very emotional and intoxicating, through experience, I know better.  Don’t get me wrong, I do think people can “have it all”, but not in the way the media portrays, where having it all means buying whatever your heart desires.   This may be attainable for Hollywood movie stars and rock stars, and hedge fund managers, but for the rest of us, our abundance is found in our choices.  When you know what your core values are, your spending habits will reflect them.  The need to “HAVE IT ALL” falls by the way side, because you make the choice to have exactly what you want. 

Life for me has been a string of choices… if I truly embodied the philosophy, “I should or deserve to have it all”… I would probably have nothing in savings and still be in debt.  Because that is truly what this type of, “you can have it all,” thinking teaches us, to continually spend on whatever we desire, because we deserve it or “have to have it.”

There are some expenses that are non-negotiable, food, health insurance, retirement and rent/mortgage, Welcome to adulthood!   I know, it can be hard to grow up!  Then there is the “extra” $ that we have a little more flexibility in how we choose to spend it, but we still have to choose, and choosing can sometimes feel like a sacrifice.   I still pout when I “choose” not to buy something, instead I opt to wait until I have the money saved.  Even though I know it is the right choice for me in the moment, the little 5 year old in me still wants it NOW.   I know what my priorities are, I generally choose to buy organic, fresh food and I have a yoga  membership, I like to travel and I get monthly massages.  BUT I have chosen not to get monthly pedicures (I do my own nails), we occasionally eat out, we never go to sporting events or concerts, when we go on vacation we rent our home out on Airbnb to offset our travel expenses, and I enjoy buying clothes and furniture second hand.

These conscious choices, have given me a “rich” life.  I still want to put a new deck in our backyard, eventually finish our basement and redo our kitchen.  I certainly understand that these things take time and money.  While my 5 year old brain wants to do all of these home improvements NOW, my adult self feels grateful to just be in a home in a neighborhood we love, the improvements can wait….  there are other things that come first. 

What choices are you making today?  Are they helping or hindering you towards living your best life?

 

Learning and accepting Chronic Illness…

Learning to Be Sick  {plus a prayer about able-ism}

by Rabbi Elliot Kukla

I became disabled overnight in a car accident. The car accident was a dream, but the disability was real.

I dreamed I was driving through the ravaged streets of Oakland at the end of the world. I turned the corner and careened inescapably into a white chemical blaze. I woke with a start, the white flash still burning behind my eyes, the worst headache of my life piercing my left temporal lobe.  I remembered my mother having a brain aneurysm years before, and knew the “worst headache of my life” was not to be ignored. My wife and I hurried to the hospital, expecting life to change forever. Once at the ER, things moved quickly: CT scans were ordered, crystal clear spinal fluid was drawn from my back. Eight hours later, I was told I was perfectly healthy.

What they meant, but wouldn’t say, was that they didn’t know what was wrong. Over the next weeks and months, it became obvious that I was far from well. The terrible headaches continued, I developed burning nerve pain all over my torso that couldn’t be relieved by any nerve pain remedies, I was wrapped in a thick brain fog, I sprouted constant mouth ulcers, I was crushed with exhaustion. I would open my mouth and be unable to speak. I could get lost in my own house between bedroom and bathroom, and forget my wife’s name.  I started having seizures.

By then, I had discovered that I was no longer trusted by my doctors about my own body or experiences.  I reported odd, terrifying, and sudden physical changes; they recommended Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Weight Watchers.  I felt exiled from the world of the well, isolated by thick walls of suspicion.  I’m used to feeling like an outsider; I’m the first openly transgender rabbi ordained by a mainstream movement (Reform Judaism). I am used to being rejected and told I should not exist. But nothing prepared me for the outsider status of being chronically ill. Think about that for a moment: approximately 0.6% of US adults identify as transgender, just under 0.2% of the world population is Jewish, and 100% of us will get sick, but it is being chronically sick that makes me feel like an outsider. That’s how much our society fears and rejects the core human experience of being ill, of having a body that gets sick, that ages, that is not controllable.

I went from doctor to doctor looking for answers, but overnight, I had gone from being a trusted rabbi and chaplain (who myself works with seriously ill and dying people on hospital medical teams) to a “hysterical” chronically ill person.  Though I had seen it happen to my clients, I now understood firsthand that being disbelieved is nearly universal for people with chronic illnesses, especially ones that are largely invisible and/or hard to diagnose. I had believed that as a healthcare professional, equipped with skills and advocates to navigate the system, I would be treated differently. I soon learned how hubristic that was.

Eventually, due to the tireless advocacy of my wife, I was diagnosed with Central Nervous System Lupus (an autoimmune disease which attacks the brain and central nervous system), as well as fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and complex migraines. My Lupus diagnosis would later be taken away and then given back countless times as suited the needs of health insurance and disability insurance companies in order to sort and manage me and decide how much care I was entitled to. The needs  of my body were virtually irrelevant in this process as my diagnosis become a monetized affair where I had to jump through increasingly difficult hoops to “prove” it.

Like most of us, I had been raised to see Illness as something temporary:  a stopover on the way to recovery or to death, not a place to live. But weeks, months, and then years passed, and I did not get better. My doctors, and even some friends and family, suggested that I could get better if only I tried harder, relaxed more deeply, thought more positively. I became a lightning rod for others’ fears of disability, dependence, and fragility. In a political moment where healthcare is treated as a luxury, and hurricane victims are blamed for their own disasters, an ethic of personal responsibility reigns. But sometimes, sick people just stay sick.  And there’s no meditation, medication, positive outlook, exercise, or smoothie that can magically fix it.

Eventually, I stopped hoping to be well, or even pretending that I lived in that future-heavy land of hope anymore. I stopped trying to “overcome” my body, and started living a present tense life in chronic illness. As the pace of my life slowed, I could appreciate sensual pleasures in a new and heightened way: sunlight out my bedroom window, my dog’s velvety fur, a cool breeze in my garden, richly colored flowers. On days when my brain was too fogged to do anything, I let myself float in and out of a rich, infinitely layered dream world.

With great difficulty, I learned how to accept care.  A child of neglectful and absent parents, I had been fiercely independent for most of my life; now, as fatigue gripped my body, I needed help preparing food, showering, doing laundry, managing my medications. This demanded a difficult, profoundly spiritual vulnerability.  I realized that if I were truly to see myself as equal to my seriously ill clients, and not performing a kind of “charity” in my work, I had to come to terms with the necessity of interdependence.

We are born needing care and die needing care, and I am no exception.  At brief moments in the middle of life, we hold the illusion of independence, but we are always driving on roads we did not build, eating foods we did not pick or raise. Allowing the illusion of my own independence to drop away unmasked a fundamental truth of being human.

Like many people, I had once measured my worth by my capacity to produce things and experiences: to be productive at work, share responsibilities at home, “show up” equally in my friendships, and rack up achievements. Being sick has been a long, slow detox from capitalist culture and its mandate that we never rest. Slowly, I found a deeper value in relationship beyond reciprocity: an unconditional love and care based in justice, and a belief that all humans deserve relationship, regardless of whether we can offer anything measurable back. In these discoveries, I’ve been led by other sick and disabled people, whose value had always been apparent to me.  Amidst the brilliant diversity of power wheelchairs, service dogs, canes, and ice packs it’s easy to see that we matter just as we are.

Eventually, my body did change. I am now able to stay awake longer, and my pain has receded to a dull throb. I can leave the house more; I can visit my clients and mentor my hospice volunteers, for which I am grateful. But I don’t see myself as cured, nor do I imagine a cure will come. This is merely another chapter in the life of my body. If I’m lucky enough to get old, my body will change again. Due to my illnesses and family history, I’m more likely to develop dementia. As I age, my body and mind will surely become more disabled. I will lose cognitive and sensory capacities. My skin and muscles will sag and disintegrate. I will depend more and more on other people. I will not be able to control my bowels or my surroundings as tightly. I will lose teeth, hair, and precious memories. This is not a tragedy. This is what it means to be human. 

Mi Sh’berach for Ableism

Rabbi Elliot Kukla

Creative Valentine’s Day Gifts Denver

March 1, 2018 will mark The Wellness Center’s 17th birthday!  It is hard to believe how far alternative health and massage has come.  17 years ago, massage was relatively new and considered a luxury treatment only for the wealthy, or a massage “parlor” that um…maybe wasn’t the most professional place to get a massage.  Today, there is a massage center or spa on almost every corner, much like coffee shops. Previous to 2008, anyone could hang a shingle out and call themselves a massage therapist, now massage therapists are now required to get a license in the State of Colorado before they can practice.

The industry has come a LONG way and it much more affordable to the average American. Massage is really a perfect gift this Valentine’s Day, or any special occasion.  Here is why:

Massage relieves stress and boosts your mood: 

Massage calms the nervous system and assists the release of feel-good chemicals and hormones. A Valentine’s Day session might include energy work such as reiki or polarity therapy, which will add a level of deep relaxation to your time on the table.   Massage has been shown to aid the release of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone, which leads to feelings of social bonding. It also increases production of serotonin and dopamine.

Massage Reduces Pain and Induces Relaxation:

Massage alleviates pain. Massage makes a body feel better by increasing circulation, improving flexibility and releasing those knots and crinkles that can seem rooted in muscles. Massage has been shown to reduce low- and upper-back pain, neck pain and headache, and to be effective for chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis. When combined with aromatherapy, the pain-relieving effects of massage can be even more profound and long-lasting.  Massage therapy is a gift to the emotional heart, as it has been shown to reduce anxiety and increase feelings of well-being. According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, the relaxation response is “a physical state of deep rest that changes a person’s physical and emotional responses to stress”—and massage therapy is one practice that induces this response.

Massage increases connection: 

Massage fosters self-connection. Even those that are single, should treat themselves on Valentine’s Day. Booking a massage session reinforces that you love yourself and allows you to become fully present and blissed-out while receiving care and nurturance. A massage session offers a deep respite from everyday stress, and sends the body the message, “I am taking care of you.”

This year give the gift of massage to yourself or the one you love! You are worth it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

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