resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
September, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 09
Compassion Really Is Good Medicine
By Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR
Some think compassion is an attribute reserved for spiritual leaders. But compassionate presence isn't just reserved for people who travel a moral high ground. It's something we all can cultivate and draw upon when life calls us to the bedside to care for someone in need.For massage therapists, compassionate presence is both a personal quality and a professional skill that has an increasing relevance in today's health care.
There are various definitions of compassion. Benevolence and loving-kindness are other words that describe this heart-centered human experience. All the definitions have, at their core, this commonality: compassion is heartfelt concern for the suffering of another, or one's self, coupled with feeling moved to do something to bring about increased wellbeing for the one who is distressed. I'm sure we can all think of times when we experienced compassion: with a client, with a loved one, with a pet, with the homeless old man on the sidewalk. We would likely all agree that it's good to feel compassion. Scientists are interested in the impact of compassion and they're finding that it's, well, good medicine!
Interestingly, the study of compassion is thriving. The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education within Stanford University's School of Medicine conducts scientific studies of compassion and altruistic behavior. Researchers here are finding that compassion lends itself to being measured. Scientists are looking beyond Western "hard science" — traditional, biological science — to see what they might learn about human behavior and emotions from other paradigms, especially heart-centered ones such as Eastern philosophies. Neuroscientists are using brain studies to look at how compassion affects us biologically.
Antonio Damasio, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, reports that emotional states are created by brain activity in the hypothalamus, basal forebrain and brain stem primarily, plus they rely on the release of neural chemicals. For example oxytocin, a peptide, known as the "care and connection" hormone, which is stimulated by touch and physical contact. Evidence also suggests that brain measurements don't show much difference between a person suffering extreme pain and the person who witnesses such an experience in another.
Research conducted by Richie Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin reveals that when people experienced in mediation witness people suffering, MRI scans show increased brain activity in areas related to nurturing and social connection. When people who do not meditate observed the same suffering, their brain activity increased in areas related to more negative emotion such as sadness or aversion, resulting in their wanting to leave the situation. When this second group was taught and practiced loving kindness meditation, their brain scans revealed changes similar to the first group.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that 40 seconds of compassionate communication from a physician could reduce anxiety among breast cancer patients, as well as increase the patient's confidence in the doctor and positively impacted the doctor-patient relationship. If you've been to a doctor's appointment recently, you've likely noticed the ever-present computer screen in the room and the doctor's attention is focused on the screen for, at least, part of the visit. While I understand the efficiency of electronic documentation in health care, I fear that this procedure is one more insult on an already fragile doctor-patient relationship in modern health care. I appreciate the work of Paul Tournier, a Swiss physician and proponent of "medicine of the person," an attitude emphasizing that attention be given to the holistic nature of health problems. This approach places the person on the same level as technique or theory. It embraces dignity, suffering, intact abilities, acceptance, validation, intuition and purpose. Dr. Tournier encouraged authentic communication with patients and recognized how it could improve the experience for healthcare professionals helping them to find greater satisfaction in their work.
Cultivating Compassionate Presence
For years, I've made the point that compassion is a natural human quality that is omnipresent and that we can bring it forth with intention. Because I'm in the process of cultivating my own awareness, I enjoy finding guidance from the masters. In a conversation between The Dalai Lama and Paul Ekman, a prominent American psychologist and researcher, they agree that compassion is cultivated through training rather than it being a spontaneous emotion. Ekman believes that compassion is different from emotion. He explains that emotions arise spontaneously and that we are born with the capacity to experience a range of emotions. But compassion, he claims, needs to be cultivated if we are to extend it in the world. Once we have integrated compassion into our world view, we are more likely to automatically respond compassionately, even to strangers. With practice, as in meditation, compassion becomes a part of our permanent nature and then arises more spontaneously. There is a myriad of heart-centered mediations. I've modified this one that's taught by Jack Kornfield, a leader in bringing Eastern meditation practices to Western culture. The intention is to bring the mind and heart together.
Practicing Compassion Meditation
Sit comfortably. Be in your body and focus your attention upon your breath. If you wish, place one or both hands upon your heart center. First, you will direct loving kindness to yourself.
Picture two or three people who care about you. Imagine them looking lovingly at you. These might be people in your life now or in the past or even spiritual figures. What would they wish for you? Repeat these simple phrases imagining they were saying them to you.
How does that feel? Notice what arises and remain centered. Try not to judge any thoughts, but simply let them pass through your mind. Most loving kindness meditations use the word "I" where I've used "you." The reason I've suggested it this way is that I've found in my own practice that it's powerful to accept loving attention from others. You can substitute the words so that they resonate for you.
Now picture someone you would like to send compassion to. It might be someone you are close to, a client or a stranger. It might even be someone you are having a challenge with. Repeat the same phrases, directing them to this person. You might even hold a photo of the person in your hands.
Again, sit for a few minutes simply noticing anything that arises. To end, take in a deep, cleansing breath and bring your awareness back into your body. Offer thanks for the experience in whatever way you wish.
Touch is Person-Centered Care
I believe massage therapists have the power to offset the impersonal nature of healthcare today. We carry the torch of Tournier's vision of person centered medical care! Our service is sorely needed in hospitals, eldercare, homecare and hospice where so many people feel lonely, helpless and broken. We can do a lot to offset these feelings and offer a sense of well-being in their place. There are times we can draw upon simple techniques combining compassionate presence with touch. The following focused touch technique can be used anytime you are called to the bedside. Let's say a 72-year-old woman has been coming to you for three years for massage. You get a call from her daughter telling you that your client has had a serious stroke and now she's in the hospital. Could you please visit her there? As you walk through the hospital, you feel nervous and many thoughts are running through your mind. What will she be like? I know I can't massage her like before, so what can I do? Will she be in pain? Will I be sad to see her this way? I feel so bad for her. What should I say?
First, it's important to center yourself before you enter the room. This helps to focus your attention and calm you. You are touching her with your presence and energy just entering the room. So take a deep breath and ground yourself.
As you walk into the room your client (friend) appears to be sleeping. There are monitors attached to her and an oxygen tube at her nose. You might feel a little stunned to take in the scene. It's a normal reaction to be a little shocked. You decide not to wake her but rather sit quietly in the chair across the room and while sitting there you feel sad and a little afraid. This is exactly the kind of situation where the compassion meditation can serve you well. Compassionate presence informs you and leads to the next right action. Now you are ready to offer the gift of your touch.
This simple technique is especially useful when you are with someone who is seriously ill. Focused touch is a powerful expression of compassion when words are lost, creating a sense of well-being and decreasing feelings of loneliness.
Stand at the bedside. Gently place one hand either under her hand or upon the forearm. Then cradle the shoulder with your other hand. Simply hold her while silently saying the compassion meditation, directing the words to your friend. Presence will inform the quality of your touch. To close, slowly release the touch, keeping your attention on your friend. Offer thanks for the experience.
In closing I send these thought to you: May you be well and live your life with ease. Thank you for the opportunity to assist you on your path of service. Pass it forward!
Click here for more information about Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR.
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