The Upside to Not Having a F#&*ing Clue

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Dervish and the Mermaid, and Pace Smith, the show’s co-host, was recounting her and her wife’s six-month adventure of living in an RV, and specifically, what came up when they changed their minds and decided they were done living on the road. Pace struggled with a fear of looking flaky and inconsistent simply because life had changed and their minds had changed with it.

I’ve written in the past about the power of changing your mind (and the difference between that and being a flake), but here I want to focus on another aspect of mind changing: When we embark on a path, we don’t know where it will lead. We might think we know, but really, anything beyond the present is pure conjecture.

Hands down, the most common reason I hear when someone (myself included) is hesitant to take action is that they don’t know where it’ll lead. Yet, if we acknowledge that, in reality, we never know the future, this reason doesn’t hold much water. Not knowing how things will turn out is not a convincing reason for staying put.

Pace says:

If we had all the information up front we might not have made the same decision, but I think that would have been a shame because it was such an enriching experience. We might not have been bold enough to face up to the known dangers, but we were bold enough to face up to the unknown dangers. And I’m glad that we experienced them, and it was definitely the right choice.

This brings to mind the tarot’s Fool card, that necessary energy of curiosity and naïveté that allows us to take healthy risks and go with the flow rather than holing up in our house because we can’t anticipate and control every conceivable step.

This also ties into guidance. I have found that when we receive guidance from our Wise Self, spirit guides, etc. rarely are we given more than the next one, maybe two steps…and this can feel frustrating, to put it mildly. But while we might think we want the entire map, if we had it spread out in front of us it might be so daunting that we’d choose to stay in and watch Netflix instead.

When we’re only given the next step or two, we can take life in more manageable, bite-sized chunks, and this process is wildly effective if we take action on the one or two steps we’re privy to right now. But if we’re holding out, waiting for the entire map to appear before we take a single step, we’re likely to stay stuck and unsure.

Being okay with changing our minds is our secret weapon in this process. It helps ease some of the ego’s rising panic that every misstep will spell permanent doom and destruction. In reality, if something doesn’t work out we can pause, reevaluate, change our minds, and try something else.

And beyond the ability to change our mind, we will also benefit from the ability to not judge ourselves when we do. If we accept that the future is unknown, that we can only get information by interacting with life (and not by staying home thinking about what might happen if we were to interact with life), then there’s no getting around it: We will make choices, some of those will turn out differently than we thought, and we’ll change our minds.

It really doesn’t have to be any more epic than that, folks. We’re not expected to know the future. We’re not expected to stay and think and be the same from now until the day we die.

We’re here to learn, to grow, to experiment, to adapt, to change course, and to change course again.

While our culture might prize being consistent cogs delivering predictable, day-in-and-day-out performance, life has other plans, and we will be far happier, healthier, wiser, more creative, and more fulfilled if we give ourselves the freedom to evolve.

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Hot Stone and LaStone Massage

urban-oasis-massage

One of my favorite aspects of massage school is getting to try different massage modalities—and there are so many of them to choose from! Of course, the “downside” is that there are now roughly 15,000 modalities in which I want to pursue further training once I graduate. Too many modalities, too little time.

In recent weeks, we had the opportunity to test drive hot stone massage techniques, which employ smooth basalt stones warmed in a hot water bath (we used 130º water warmed in a roaster oven). The stones are placed on or under the body and are also held in the therapist’s hand(s) as tools to smooth over the client’s tissue.

As a total nature junkie, there was something immediately appealing to me about the stones–their smoothness, their varied colors (some of them looked like beautifully speckled dinosaur eggs), their heft. And I love the idea of integrating natural materials into bodywork; they’re such a nice antidote to all of the plastic-y tools and other synthetic junk everywhere.

Our instructor showed us how to choose appropriately sized stones for different applications: the back “layout” (i.e. the stones placed on either side of the spine while the client is lying on their back), the chakra layout, smaller stones to slip between the toes, pointier stones for more detailed trigger-point work, and “working stones,” which were more all-purpose stones used to glide over the body during the moving strokes.

Both giving and receiving hot stone massage is fantastic. On the giving end, it’s amazing to feel the client’s tissue melt as you slide the hot stones over their body, and I was amazed at how quickly they dropped into a deeper relaxed state. With regular Swedish massage, it sometimes takes people awhile to settle in, stop talking, and “get in the zone,” but not so with hot stone massage.

And on the receiving end, what can I say–it’s heavenly. I carry a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders, and the hot stones delivered an amazing icy-hot sensation to my aching muscles, which soon melted into relaxation. After only a thirty-minute practice massage during class, I felt like I was floating.

So, what’s the difference between hot stone massage and LaStone massage? The primary difference is that LaStone uses both hot and cold stones as part of the treatment. LaStone Therapy was created by Mary Nelson, who practices and teaches in Arizona, and she has said that the inspiration for the therapy came to her from spirit guides, an idea that might sound impossibly woo-woo to some, but having experienced my own spirit guide contact (and, indeed, this is how I conduct my tarot readings), this is right in my wheelhouse. 😉

As the story goes, Nelson was sitting in a sauna with her niece, voicing her concerns over how she was going to continue practicing as a massage therapist after injuring her shoulder. Spirit responded with, “Pick up the stones,” a suggestion she didn’t understand at first. The message was repeated, and it dawned on her to pick up one of the stones from the broken wall of the sauna, and she rubbed it on her niece’s shoulder. The rest, as they say, is history.

If you’re interested in learning how to do LaStone Therapy, you can study through in-person classes or through a more limited selection of online courses. One online course in particular seems particularly useful for both LaStone and general hot stone massage therapists: the Health and Safety Course. This outlines how to handle different pathologies, how to sanitize the stones in between clients, and more.