by Cailin O'Hara, MAcOM, LAc, Dipl OM
My health was in a downward spiral. No doctors had answers for me. I felt lost at sea, searching for light.
Some part of me felt terrified and hopeless, while some higher aspect of me knew I could heal and was on a mission to get me safely to land. So, learning about how my intention could influence my reality, including my health, was exhilarating.
It was the most empowering concept I had come across on my healing journey. In 2011, I was reading Deepak Chopra’s “The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire” at the time. I then dove into every book and resource I could find about how we create our own reality.
I spent years trying to understand it- the cause and effect of how our thoughts and feelings create our personal reality. As I worked with it, my health began improving. Everything did, actually. It may seem esoteric, but it’s actually quite simple....
1) The thoughts you think directly influence your health.
Think of something scary, and you’ll feel how your body responds. Think about something peaceful, and you’ll feel your body relax. This is SUCH a complex relationship of so many physiological processes occurring, but all you need to do is feel it happen. You influence how you feel, emotionally and physically, (aka your HEALTH) by what you think (and intend).
The more I focused my intention on how I wanted to feel, how I wanted my health to improve, the more it started to actually happen.
2) The way you feel directs your decisions and, ultimately, your actions.
We use logic and emotion to make our decisions, which are generally informed by past experience and what we believe to be true. So, if a) we believe something to be true, b) we feel it to be true and c) our past tells us it’s true, then to us, it’s true. (This is where subconscious beliefs can wreak havoc.) What this means is that we can change the direction of our lives (and health) by tapping into feelings and beliefs that better serve our intentions.
When I began changing the way I thought about things toward a more positive note, guided by my intention to really heal, then my feelings about things shifted, too. I began making different decisions for myself and my healing. I began having different, and better, outcomes. I was gradually led down a very different and far more healing path… right to Chinese medicine and acupuncture, actually, which had the exact medicine I needed to heal for REAL.
3) The decisions you make and the actions you take, which are informed by how you think and feel, create your entire life.
Years ago, this was hard for me to wrap my mind around. It felt like A LOT of pressure to do everything just right so I could heal and have the life I wanted. But it’s not that complicated, actually. What is your intention, right now? What do you want for yourself?
As I got really clear about what I wanted for myself and intended for those things to become true for me, they did. I was able to take my health into my own hands, so to speak, and feel my way toward what I needed. I learned self-trust. I learned body-trust. I learned how profoundly connected the mind is with the body and how they are continuously influencing one another every second of every day.
We are not in a perfect-feeling world. We can’t live unaffected by the pain and suffering here. But we CAN reclaim our personal power. We CAN heal. We CAN create a healthier mind, body and life. Your intention is the starting point of everything. Once you get clear on that, the doorway to what your heart seeks will open.
(hint: we all have)
It is the realization of all realizations that I think is key in healing from past trauma. But you have to REALLY feel it. Doing so can immediately shift you out of anxiety-mode (flight or fight) and into a feeling of deep self-compassion (aka reconnecting with YOU).
It just spirals out of control.
Anxiety can feel like a foreign entity that lives within us, making us feel unsafe, like we aren’t even safe in our own being. So what do we do? We run away. Sometimes literally, but generally, figuratively. We numb out, we distract ourselves, and we turn away from the feelings.
But it’s the belief that our anxiety is scary, it’s the very act of running away from it, that actually prevents us from really healing and regaining our sense of peace.
It’s just you now.
All of this running, this fighting against ourselves, the squashing of our feelings, the turning away from our own pain… it’s self-abandonment.
But what caused it- those past experiences- are over.
So what does that mean?
It means what you are feeling now is just YOU.
You're feeling how what happened to you affected you, how it hurt you, how it wounded you... THAT is what you’re feeling now: your feelings. This also means that there isn’t anything to be afraid of in the here and now, if you think about it. You are fearing yourself. You are fearing your own broken heart, your own traumatized body.
And the more you push it all away, the worse it can feel.
Trauma can fragment you.
It can scatter you into pieces. And when it’s over, you are the one that can put you back together. You are the one that can compassionately hold space for yourself, comfort yourself, give yourself the unconditional love you need and deserve. And in no way does it mean that you’re “broken." In fact, I see it as a tremendous source of power.
What if you had a compassionate conversation with them?
What if you imaged yourself holding them, telling them it’s ok, that you love them?
Trauma is not something you ask for, but it can teach you how to love yourself in a way that maybe nothing else can… and that kind of love can make you unstoppable.
That’s what it has given me.
That’s what I hope it gives you.
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The #1 thing draining your energy may be you.
Let's talk about how...
There's a part of us that is a bully, a tyrant, a critic and even a monster.
It makes us feel like we're never doing enough, that we aren't enough. It coaxes us into over-compromising ourselves, our time and our energy. It convinces us of the worst and sends our emotions (and energy) plummeting. It tells us we're limited and can't have what we want. It scares us into believing our fears.
AKA: We live in chronic states of stress, fear and frustration, which is exhausting, inflammatory and toxic.
We don't cut ourselves a break.
We don't give ourselves time to rest. We don't bask in the feelings of stillness and recharging. We're afraid we're going to miss something if we don't keep going. We're hard on ourselves if we don't do "enough." We act as if we're machines instead of organisms that need to follow the natural rise and fall of the day, the seasons and the tides of life.
AKA: We suppress our ability to thrive and be happy by resisting rest and denying our natural and innate needs.
Self-compassion is nowhere to be found.
We don't act with compassion toward our personal needs. We don't give ourselves permission to BE ourselves. We don't hold ourselves in unconditional love and support. We put ourselves in uncomfortable positions; we breach our own boundaries. At every turn, we may be compromising ourselves in some way, and thus syphoning our natural energy reserves on a daily basis.
AKA: A lack of self-compassion translates as self-neglect, which takes a toll on our natural energy and vitality.
The thing is, WE have to provide it for ourselves. WE have to make the decisions that benefit us the most, which can mean slowing down, cutting ties that weigh us down, disconnecting for a bit and trusting in our body's and being's miraculous ability to heal. We have to ask ourselves what we need. We have to trust ourselves. We have to put a hard stop to the endless draining of our natural energy reserves on a daily basis and start fueling ourselves with something better.
Only you can make these choices.
In the final article in this series, I give my best tips for improving your energy and maintaining your natural energy reserves. Check it out.
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It's such a common complaint.
Waking up tired after sleeping through the night
Energy crashing throughout the day
Feeling heavy and exhausted
A mental fog that makes it hard to think coherently
An emotional fatigue, like you just can't deal with anything else
Sleep doesn't fill your tank. Food doesn't seem to help. You're too tired to work out or take great care of yourself. You don't feel inspired. Your body aches.
Obviously, there is no single cure for everyone's exhaustion. We're all different.
But for many of us, there's generally one cause, and it may surprise you.
A bout of mononucleosis landed me in the hospital for a week when I was 16. I was incredibly ill, and the exhaustion lingered for years. Then, the summer I turned 23, I was diagnosed with lyme disease. For months prior, I was so easily fatigued and in pain that I remember crawling up the stairs at night when I'd get home from work because walking was too hard.
I'm now in my mid-30s and those days are far behind me.
What being exhausted taught me is a) how to naturally improve my energy levels, b) how to continuously manage my energy levels and c) how to become aware of what is sucking my energy dry.
No, it's not a diagnosis or a life circumstance or an outside force.
Actually, it's you.
I know, that feels like shit to read. And it's easily arguable.
But it's actually really good news.
What I've learned through healing layers of myself and helping my patients as they heal is this: what drains us most is ourselves... and more specifically, our thoughts.
Don't balk. :)
Our thoughts govern everything we choose and do. They are our motivating and driving force, which directly translates as our energy expenditure. It's literally cause and effect: align with a thought, make a decision, expend energy. The problem is, we generally aren't aware of the subconscious thoughts and behaviors that are dictating how we use our energy. We also struggle to understand what we can do about it.
So, I've compiled the top 3 ways you may be draining your own energy AND my 5 best tips for restoring your natural energy levels. Keep reading!
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You’ve been sinking, emotionally, and you’re less and less able to surface.
You feel a heaviness, like you’re living in a fog.
You keep crying or you can’t seem to cry at all.
No amount of talking about it makes you feel better.
You don’t know what to do, and maybe you can’t even find the energy to try.
It’s oppressive. It’s overwhelming. It haunts you. You can’t shake it.
The thoughts swarm, and they’re all defeating you; they’re negative; a barrage of “what’s the point?” or “I can’t take this anymore” or “no one understands.”
Depression doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.
It doesn’t mean you’re any less worthy or capable than anyone else.
It’s not necessarily a disease plaguing your brain, either.
YOU ARE HAVING FEELINGS. YOU ARE REACTING TO LIFE.
STEP ONE: ACCEPT THAT.
Whew. Now that the truth has been dropped, let’s keep going…
There is this stigma against being sad, angry or in despair. It’s as if it’s not ok to feel awful. That’s the first problem. Judging these valid emotions as wrong or bad is the starting point to a downward spiral.
Here’s the thing. You’re entitled to feel HOWEVER you feel. Don’t shame yourself. And don’t take it personally if other people shame you, either. They’re just doing the best they can from their frame of mind. And people can be judge-y as F, you know.
Forgive them, keep going.
Depression gets tricky. It’s very convincing, not to mention dreadfully heavy. It pulls you down. It changes how you see everything. The negative thoughts go on and on, one cascade after another, feeding off of each other, until you feel so awful, so wholly inconsolable, that you feel utterly lost.
How can you climb out of this?
First of all, YOU CAN. I promise you that. I have. You can. You may have to more than once, and that’s ok. Keep going. We are SUCH a resilient species! We have no concept of the massive power we possess. Even if you tap into 5% of that power, it’s enough to get you out of the darkness. How? Because each move you make, each negative thought you challenge, each step you take toward feeling better gets you closer and closer to the relief and true peace you seek.
I can only share with you what has helped me and my patients. But remember, we are all different. We all need an approach that fits us uniquely. SO, start by feeling for what it is that YOU need. There are so many people out here, including me, waiting for you to show up seeking help. But you have come find us.
When I was 13, I was in a downward spiral no one could stop. Really. Thankfully, when it was just about too late, I found the help I needed (let's call it divine intervention), and it woke me up to that 5% of my power. I never felt that low again. I saved myself, and it was just the beginning of my journey to feeling whole and happy. I can report to you that decades later, I continue to discover greater happiness and wholeness.
No one will advocate for you like you can. No one knows what you need. Only you do. Somewhere inside, you intuitively know what you need. You HAVE to follow that. Sometimes it means you need to make a HUGE change, like move to a new state, get a new job, leave a relationship, travel. Sometimes it means you make a lot of little changes until your life totally transforms, like taking up meditation, weekly therapy sessions, joining a group, etc. Maybe you need to do both of those things.
You must change that negative spiral frame of mind that seeps in like poison, though. The best way to do that is to GET a different perspective. Literally. GO get it. The best way to do that is to ASK for it. Meditation can help you find it. Prayer can. Going for a drive can. Reading a book on the topic can (books have changed my life, my health and my mind for the better pretty epically). The way you are currently seeing things is just ONE way. You can see them differently.
As the brilliant late Dr. Wayne Dyer said:
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
So, climb out of the hole. Look for any glimmer of light and follow it. You may feel like a speck in this world, but we are ALL connected, we are ALL powerful, and we ALL have INCREDIBLE gifts to offer one another. We need yours.
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Can you feel it? That fervent pace of spring is here. Now's a good time to talk about anxiety and how we overwhelm ourselves.
Let me tell you, I GET IT. Anxiety was once my enemy. I was the teenager on Zoloft, Paxil, Buspar, Xanax. I had no idea what my anxiety was or what to do with it. In my mid-twenties, I began learning meditation. Everything changed. I found ways to understand myself and what I needed. I made friends with my feelings. I felt better. And it was just the beginning!
Anxiety is a big red flag saying HELP!
It's a part of you that needs your help.
So, check out this video where I talk about how I treat anxiety, panic and stress. Share it with someone you know if they're struggling. Let's spread the word about the power of Chinese medicine and acupuncture for the treatment of anxiety, stress and mental health.
(And also check out the little clip from February where I explain why depression can rise in the spring.)
| || |
So if you watched the video, you heard me explain that anxiety is completely normal. It is! But it can become an overwhelming spiral. Here's how you can stop it in its tracks.
Close your eyes and try this breathing exercise.
If you've been in recently, I may have taught this to you. If not, here's how it goes:
(count in your mind, not aloud)
- Breathe in as you count to 4
- Hold your breath and count to 4
- Breathe out as you count to 4
- Hold your breath and count to 4
As you are doing this breathing technique, you can also draw an imaginary box in your mind. Here's a video to help with that or ask me at your next session.
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Sometimes we just don't get a happy ending to a chapter of our lives.
This is an aspect of life... the loss, regret and even tragedy. It’s real. It really happens. It's what I help so many of you through at Sun Tree.
But here’s the thing- we keep going. Everyone is truly doing the best they can. I never cease to be in awe of the resilience we all possess.
It has become my mission to help you cultivate that resilience, to remember who you are... not only DESPITE what has happened, but BECAUSE of it.
Resilience isn't about denying your pain or your life circumstances; it’s not about forgetting or avoiding. It’s also not about being happy all the time. It's more about transforming your pain into power, compassion and wisdom. It's about continuing to strive to live your best life because you know that there is more good to come and you want it.
We're all in this together. We can all be here for one another as support and love. Let the difficult things you go through soften you so you can be a source of light for others.
Your resilience is that light.
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Sounds like BS, maybe? All of that self-help, New Age mumbo jumbo, blah blah blah.
Actually, it's true. Let me tell you why.
The way you feel about yourself affects everything you do, say and create.
You are limitless. It is your beliefs that tell you otherwise.
As you expand past old limitations and useless beliefs, you tap into what you can really do. You discover the inspiration to make significant changes not only in your own life but in the life of others. You can create a positive momentum forward for all of us by a) letting go of what whatever has been holding you back unnecessarily and b) doing whatever it is that you do best.
What you focus on will grow. What are you paying attention to?
Focusing solely on the negative aspects of something will limit you from seeing the good, the potential, the myriad ways to make things better.
If we can all do this, one by one, we have the power to heal ourselves, our lineage and ultimately, the world.
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You will find it necessary to let things go
simply for the reason that they are heavy.
-C Joybell C
"Shed the old layers of yourself."
"Let go of what doesn't serve you."
It has become a cliché.
It did look easy... and abrupt. Shocking, actually.
Here's the thing... all of that stuff that you're trying to let go of is part of your story. It's woven into your history, your body, your mind. It's created new emotional landscapes within you, new beliefs, new understanding.
Everything that has brought you to this exact moment might not still be here in its obvious form, but aspects of it resonate within you always... aspects that you have chosen to keep.
Actually, it's about embrace.
Embrace every detail, all the minutia, that has brought you to this exact moment. Some of it will be miraculous, some disastrous, some heart-warming and some unbearably painful. And you know what? THAT'S OK.
All of it, everything that came before this very moment, is over now. It's only your attention to it, your memory, the reminders, the persistent trains of thought, that keep it "alive" in the here and now, and THAT'S ALSO OK.
My suggestion: look at it.
Let it come. See whatever details come into view. Allow yourself to really feel whatever reveals itself; look curiously and openly at all of these experiences and relationships and feelings you've lived. And ask yourself one question.
Choose whatever feels lighter, whatever feels like relief, whatever helps some of the weight fall away like the ease of opening your hands and letting it go.
It doesn't mean it's gone.
It will likely come up again in your mind or your life in some new but familiar way. And again, take the time to really look at it. Consider what it has to offer this time around. Ask what you can learn from it to help you be a better you. And then, when you're ready, release it once more with genuine gratitude and let yourself move on.
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The effects of picking yourself apart
"Disease" refers to a harmful condition or process that interferes with normal functioning- physically, emotionally, mentally.
Over the past decade or more, I have worked diligently to reverse that pattern.
And I have.
How do you feel about yourself?
What are the stories you’re telling about yourself, your value, your abilities?
Who do you believe yourself to be?
What do you believe you can and cannot do?
I think we all have an aspect of our minds that is callous, cruel or unsympathetic. It argues for our limitations, our weaknesses, our failures. It affirms our fears and picks us apart until we’re nothing but a pile of rejected fragments, totally severed from the truth of who we are and our innate worth.
We often aren't aware of how cruel our beliefs about ourselves are... nor how much they are limiting us or creating misery in our lives. If you're stuck in negative self-talk, you certainly won't be guiding your life in the best direction. You won't feel your best, either.
In order to dismantle negative self-talk, you need to dig up and throw out the inherent, underlying beliefs you hold about yourself that are generating your negative thinking.
Furthermore, your body is listening to your thoughts. So, what beliefs do you hold about yourself and how is this impacting your health? I can assure you that if you don't give a shit about yourself, your body will suffer.
Earlier in life, before I knew better, I believed this voice. It sent me down some dark roads.
Here's one example:
Before I was even 10 years old, I was critiquing my body constantly. I’d stare in the mirror and pick myself apart. In a few years, I was virtually devoid of love or concern for myself. Self-disgust and feelings of unworthiness fueled an eating disorder that nearly killed me. I survived quite triumphantly, finding a spark of love for myself that was there all along. The first thing I said while recovering in my early teens was this:
I knew the way out of that hell… and I wanted to show people that were suffering the way.
This was decades ago. I absolutely love my body now. My belly is happy, not flat. My thighs are strong, not disgusting. My stature is petite, not insignificant. And nothing about my worth stems from my body. In fact, my body has become my best friend because it always lets me know how I’m feeling and what I need. I treasure it and give thanks to it every single day.
Talk to the sad and rejected aspects of yourself. Treat your suffering like you would if you were tending to someone you deeply love. Until you start forging that kind of relationship with yourself, your suffering will continue. Why?
Because it will only be you who saves you.
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“Sometimes the hardest part of the journey is believing you're worthy of the trip.”
Do you give up? Do you allow a set back or someone else’s opinions to hold you apart from what you want? Do you lose faith in yourself or give up on your dreams if things aren’t going the way you wanted them to?
Do you know what this stems from?
A lack of self-worth.
It’s been stewing in my mind for a while; now it’s a full-blow epiphany.
(You see, I'm an entrepreneur, and running a business is an unending process of self-evaluation. You need to check your limiting, negative beliefs and constructs so you can actually achieve what you’re aiming for… and that goes for everything, business-related or not. However, because the success of your business is mandatory in order to live a good life, you will care BIG TIME about how you influence it. And, because your business is impacted by your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and lifestyle, you learn to be seriously accountable for all of those elements. If you’re in a funk or self-sabotage mode, your business will let you know because it will likely suffer.)
You can want something. You can dream. You can plan. You can take action. You can get up over and over again in the face of failure. But if you aren’t really committed to what you’re striving for, if you don’t deeply believe in yourself, if you feel easily defeated… then it’s possible that you don’t value yourself, your talent, your time or your needs. At least, not fully, not wholly, not in the ways that will keep you on the path to joy and satisfaction and success.
This is not to say that you just charge ahead, ignoring boundaries or red flags, and become egotistical and defiant. In fact, it actually means that you become more allowing, more trusting, more perceptive, more patient.
How? You know what you want.
And you believe in yourself.
Signs that you believe in yourself...
What kind of improvements are you seeking in your life?
Do you let others or your own past experience dictate how/when/if you will have what you want?
One quote from the book still repeats in my mind often:
"If you don't value your own worth, no one else ever will."
Whatever you’re working toward- relationships, goals, career, health, emotional balance, etc.- think about why you want it, what it means to you and how it aligns with your values. Really reflect on that. And know that you’re more than worthy of all of the good that will come to you. If someone doesn’t like you, oh well. If someone tells you you’re not good enough, that’s their issue. Be your own best friend, trust your process, and don’t lose sight of what you want to create in your life.
It’s what you’re here to do.
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Does it ever end?
How do we keep going?
Personal Grief Stories
I’ll save the story for another time, but I uncovered past trauma while in medical school. It was absolute hell. It was a dissociating kind of grief that would pull me to the ground in a sobbing heaviness I couldn’t stop. I felt like I was dying of grief. I could feel it in my skin, my bones, my blood. So much of my life started making sense as I felt this upwelling of unbearable pain. I had been carrying it for decades, unknowingly, but it was actually the root of so many physical and emotional symptoms I had experienced up until then.
WHAT I LEARNED
It taught me quite personally how the body stores trauma. If you touched me in a certain way or if I heard certain words or sounds, I’d be transported back in time and frozen in an emotional hell. Thankfully, Chinese medicine can explain these phenomena and body memories in empowering and clarifying ways. Better yet, it can treat the very roots of it. What I’ve gone through and since healed now helps me to hold compassionate space for traumatized patients in a way I never would have understood otherwise. And through my practice of Chinese medicine, I can work with you to safely unlock the frozen patterns and memories caused by trauma.
(Book: Treating Emotional Trauma with Chinese Medicine)
My second story is one of tragic loss. You know, those shocking tragedies that have no good ending... it’s that kind of story. I won’t tell the tale in detail, but I’ll tell you what it has created: a legacy of light, particularly for your benefit.
I became intimately familiar with tragic loss after working for a few years at an emergency veterinary clinic in Portland, Oregon. Horrible things would happen to beloved pets; pet owners would come in frantically with said beloved pets- and sometimes, there was nothing we could do. Then it was my job to walk our clients through the euthanasia, death, and after-care process. It taught me a tremendous amount about navigating tragic times, but not until it happened to me did I understand how it felt.
In 2017, after a year of massive change and loss, my partner's beloved cat, Daphne, died in a tragic event the day that I moved into his home. Earlier that same day, we had to euthanize his dog who was failing from cancer. Six months prior, I had to urgently euthanize my sweet dog on Christmas morning. It was too much for me and my partner to process and became the foundation for which our relationship would end.
WHAT I LEARNED
Grief is not one single feeling. It's an overwhelming array of emotions we experience as we process loss. When the loss is tragic or shocking, it can be even harder to console ourselves or make sense of what has happened. This kind of experience taught me a whole new level of acceptance. It wasn't until I was able to accept what happened that I could truly reconnect with myself and heal. Now, it seems that the loss of Daphne lives on in me as a legacy of healing for others. Working closely with grieving patients has become one of my specialties.
Here’s what you can try for yourself if you’re facing dark times...
Distracting yourself, keeping busy, avoiding your feelings, numbing yourself, etc., are behaviors that only prolong your suffering and prevent true healing in the long run.
2) Listen to yourself.
What are you feeling? What do you need? Cultivating a compassionate and nurturing relationship with yourself is mandatory for true healing, but too often it’s avoided. To get your feelings to quiet down, you actually have to look at them and develop a compassionate relationship with them. It’s only you; don’t be scared.
3) Seek help.
We can’t heal alone. We aren’t solitary beings. We need support. Therapy, books, bodywork, herbs -and of course Chinese medicine!- are all wonderful options. If you ask for help, it will show up. Keep an open mind.
4) Permission to feel like shit.
Only you can give yourself permission to feel your feelings. Let yourself feel the pain- this will allow it to move through you and eventually out of you. Resisting your feelings forces them to grow. We aren’t machines. We’re living beings with ebbs and flows, and we absolutely must honor that in order to heal.
Take care of yourself.
How I Treat Pain
1) We start with an in-depth consultation and evaluation.
2) I utilize tongue and pulse diagnosis.
3) I evaluate your posture and musculature.
4) I devise your treatment.
5) Home recommendations and treatment plans.
In general in my practice:
- Severe pain, acute: 1 treatment every 3-5 days for 3-5 treatments and then reassess.
- Long-term pain, chronic: 1 treatment weekly for 6-8 total treatments and then reassess.
6) What you can expect.
Releasing Held Traumas
You’re going to be surprised how obvious this is after I explain.
Some of the darkest, most intense cup marks I have seen were not on patients with pain but patients with significant past emotional trauma.
But you may wonder how emotions are related to your body.
Allow me to explain.
Something happens to you that is jolting, shocking, upsetting, painful, etc.
(physically or emotionally)
It then creates an imprint in your physiology… a true shock to the system, if you will.
Your systems become blocked, impaired, sluggish.
(We refer to this as “stagnation” in Chinese medicine.)
If nothing is done to move this stagnation, it continues to accumulate.
You experience worsening physical and emotional symptoms.
You’re fed up and ready for legit healing.
You come to see me, and we opt for cupping.
I use a gentle, sliding method and we analyze the color and severity of the markings.
(the marks are not painful, FYI)
In a few days, you report feeling “brand new,” like a weight has been lifted off of you.
So, what does cupping do?
It moves stagnation.
Past Hurt, Be Gone!
You’re no longer carrying those remnants of whatever was causing the stagnation.
Whatever has happened to you emotionally may be significantly impacting your physical health. It may show up as physical pain, fatigue, digestive issues, headaches, PMS… you name it. We carry past pain with us, often unknowingly, and it colors our health, relationships, decisions and the way we see the world. Sometimes you don’t have to psychoanalyze your past trauma to death… you just have allow yourself to let it go.
An exorcism simply implies that we’re calling something up and out of your being that doesn’t serve you. Be gone, stagnant energy, past hurts and aching pain!
So, if you want to try something new, something profoundly effective and surprisingly gentle, you know where to find me.
“Why do you so earnestly seek
the truth in distant places?
Look for delusion and truth in the
bottom of your own heart.”
(Fact: Instagram accounts dressed up in fancy branding do not equate to truth or to your healing.)
You see, I’ve got a thing for truth.
I have the feels, big time, for authenticity.
Total Bullshit, except...
(aka, I moved in with my mom in my 20s because my healthcare was more expensive than rent)
I used to look for someone or something to take away my symptoms.
I used to follow certain diets, demonize foods, seek perfection.
I used to think there was one answer that would solve my problems.
I used to think I was lost and that someone else needed to find me.
I have since learned that was all total BS... except the lost part.
I was definitely lost.
Lost in negative belief systems, lost in fear, lost in giving away my power, lost in other people’s opinions, lost in a web of a lack of self-compassion, lost in past trauma, lost in physical pain, lost in exhaustion. It wasn’t that I needed anyone else to find me. What I needed were legitimate healers and inspirers to help me WAKE UP, reconnect with myself and set out on the true path back home to me, my power, my light.
No One Saves You
1) Healing doesn’t have to be complicated or precise
...although, that doesn’t mean it isn’t sometimes total hell and other times complete bliss. It does mean, however, that you don’t need to drop all of your money on fancy contraptions, supplements, claims, etc.
2) No one ever saves you
...you are your own healer. All of your power to heal is actually WITHIN you; it’s most likely just dormant. Find inspiring people that light you up and help you activate the epic-ness that you are. Before you know it, no matter what your symptoms or struggles, healing begins.
3) Everything you seek is already within you
...this is actually the quest you’re on. You’re searching for your way back home to yourself, your health, your truth, your inherent worthiness, your love. Everything you’re looking for- the relationships, the feelings, the experiences, the well-being- is actually the act of you discovering and reclaiming parts of yourself. You are looking for familiarity in your outside world because that is how you find yourself. Why? Because the truest resonance that you seek, that feeling of total alignment and joy- that is who you are.
Let’s keep things simple.
Let’s keep things true.
Let’s look for what feels good to us.
Let’s resist the urge to categorize things as the “perfect” diet/method/trend/supplement/etc.
Don’t give your power away.
Don’t believe in things outside of yourself over the truth that’s within you.
I promise you, from one soul to another, it is YOU that is the perfect body/being/image.
The thing is, it’s up to you to believe it.
“It is always the false that makes you suffer, the false desires and fears, the false values and ideas, the false relationships between people. Abandon the false and you are free of pain; truth makes happy, truth liberates.”
- Nisargadatta Maharaj
Investigating your truth connects you with who you really are, which then starts flipping on the switches of your innate ability to heal.
Uncovering your truth is your greatest medicine. It is alignment in the most perfect sense of the word… alignment with yourself at the soul level.
Truth as Medicine
And… how does this relate to your truth?
No one will honor your truth or your worth if you don’t.
Truth as Home
Truth-telling unlocked me in many ways, dove me deep into my vulnerability and helped me to start moving out all of the internal clutter and baggage I’d been carrying.
When you turn your attention to those things, miracles happen.
They say home is where the heart is… and your home, truly, exists within in you in your deepest truths.
Moving Past Fear and Into Your Own Power
"Feel the fear and do it anyway."
You certainly aren't who you were before it happened.
Who are you now?
What do you do with the fear, the pain and the grief?
It would be a relief if something could just take away how terrible you feel after a traumatic experience, but life doesn't work that way. And I would argue that going through the healing process can be one of the best and most empowering things you'll ever do for yourself.
Going Through It...
Here are the 4 essential steps you can take to help you move past fear and into your own power.
Find someone that you enjoy talking to because if you don't have a good connection, it's a waste of your time. You won't feel safe and comfortable opening up to someone you don't particularly like. A counselor who is a good fit for you can make your journey "through it" a much easier and enlightening one.
If you're experiencing difficult emotions or haunting memories, it can be very overwhelming. Generally people disconnect (often unintentionally) from themselves, their bodies, their environments and/or their relationships as a way to cope with these overwhelming feelings. You may get stuck in a flight-or-fight response, feeling perpetually on edge that something horrible is about to happen. You may also experience flashbacks that cause you to lose touch with where you are and what's happening around you.
Wash the dishes :)
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment by Babette Rothschild
Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul by Deepak Chopra
Minding the Body, Mending the Mind by Joan Borysenko
The Places that Scare You by Pema Chodron
Developing a deep sense of compassion for yourself will take practice, but I promise you it is mandatory if you truly want to heal. Compassion means you learn how to soothe yourself. It means you're kind to yourself above all else. It means you don't make life worse for yourself by telling yourself negative things, stressing yourself out or putting yourself in unhealthy situations.
Resting when you're tired
Soothing yourself with a bath when you're overwhelmed
Cancelling plans you aren't interested in
Listening to your needs
Most of us have this awful tendency to downplay our needs and our worth. If you have past trauma, this may be your tendency most of the time. You need you, above all else, in order to heal. So step up, be your own hero, and take the best damn care of yourself that you can. You will be amazed at how comforting it will feel when you finally treat yourself with the respect and love that you always deserve.
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Pillars of My Practice
"The body keeps the score. If the memory of trauma is encoded in the viscera, in heartbreaking and gut-wrenching emotions, in autoimmune disorders and skeletal/muscular problems...this demands a radical shift in our therapeutic assumptions."
-Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD
There are many methods, which generally involve counseling. Finding the right counselor for you can be invaluable when you're navigating PTSD, trauma and anxiety.
However, sometimes it's not enough.
Sometimes we need a more integrative approach to healing.
A patient is attempting to process a traumatic experience from years before. They feel like after that traumatic experience, they haven’t been the same. They don’t sleep well. They feel on edge. They experience a sensation of anxiety in their body that feels like they're shaking from the inside out. Sometimes their heart races, and they can’t feel their legs. These experiences impact their life every single day. They’ve been working with their therapist, and it helps quite a bit, but they aren’t making the progress they want to make. And sometimes, talking about their experience worsens their anxieties.
The traumatic experience could have been emotional, physical, environmental, sexual… the effects are similar in all cases. Fear, hypervigilance, sleep disturbance and feeling disconnected from yourself, your body or your life are some examples of the effects of trauma.
Pillars of My Practice
Healing at the Root
I practice a fusion of medicine rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
According to TCM, everything is connected: mind, body and spirit. In fact, working with the emotions and our “spirit” is considered an essential aspect of treatment for any symptom or disease in TCM. Your spirit is the essence of who you are and what makes you uniquely you. This aspect of Chinese medicine is the foundation of my practice of medicine.
I see everything as interconnected.
Another core aspect of my approach is what I refer to as “body-centered medicine,” which means I treat the body in order to affect the whole being.
This method is based on the fact that our body holds our history. It is also rooted in the idea that we all possess the innate ability to heal. Working with the body creates a powerful healing effect across all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
In order to access our own healing potential, we must restore harmony to imbalanced systems in the body and mind.
Why is working with the body so powerful when it comes to balancing emotions and healing past trauma? It treats the roots of emotional experience.
A primary condition we treat through the lens of TCM is called stagnation. Stagnation implies there is some sort of holding pattern that is creating a lack of movement, which then creates an array of symptoms (from pain to anxiety to fatigue and so on). Without healthy movement and flow in our bodies or minds, disease and bothersome symptoms arise.
In the case of trauma, an experience or event sends a shockwave through our entire system that has lasting effects of stagnation. We can become "stuck" or stagnated in the experience- physically, mentally and emotionally. But here's the amazing part... we can treat the roots of trauma and anxiety by unlocking these stuck places in the body.
This means that the effects of traumatic experiences that have become stuck in a holding pattern in our body and minds finally have the opportunity to be set free.
We let it move through us, and then we let it go.
Interested in working with Cailin?
Schedule a complimentary consultation.
The Body is Our Story-Teller
“…our bodies are the agents by which we exist in the world. They are also the receptacles of memories that, often vanished from our conscious awareness, are still deeply etched within our being. When those memories are triggered, we experience suffering at a highly existential level that transcends consciousness.”
"Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies."
-Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD
On every level, our body tells our story.
When you don’t honor the power and innate intelligence of the body, you’re missing the point in providing medicine.
The Only Place You Can Heal
Connecting with the body in order to heal the whole person has proven in my practice to be a deeply transformative way of healing.
Interested in working with Cailin?
Your first consultation is free.
Embracing the Dark
We all have seasons of our lives. We all experience ups and downs.
What does it mean to be in your winter?
It’s normal to experience ups and downs, highs and lows. Our resistance to the changing tides of our lives or feelings can create more problems for us and keep us stuck in the dark.
How to Embrace Your Winter
When You Willingly Enter the Dark
As you allow yourself to enter your winters, you will come to find that they will eventually lead you into the light, beauty and rebirth of a new season of spring.
Interested in working with Cailin?
The Journey of Becoming
“Not a perfect soul, I am perfecting. Not a human being, I am a human becoming.”
When you’re feeling well, you can participate in life, follow your ambitions, you name it. When you’re not feeling well, it can become a struggle to live the life you want to live. And if you're not feeling well, you probably have some kind of diagnosis that is to blame... anxiety, depression, fatigue, hypothyroidism, IBS, heart disease, fibromyalgia, degenerative disk disease, arthritis... the list goes on and on and on.
I believe this is a very important concept to consider when you’re on any kind of healing journey. As the quote above describes, we are in a process of becoming. You weren’t who you were last year. You aren’t who you will become. And this, of course, also pertains to your health.
So why can a diagnosis become a problem?
Let's look at how the journey from well to unwell often unfolds:
Each of these diagnoses has a certain set of symptoms and diagnostic criteria; each has a specified treatment protocol; and each has a projected treatment outcome. Some diagnoses are relatively easy to treat, but many are not with conventional medicine. Why? Because everyone is different! The cause and effect process that creates disease and symptoms is an intricate web, and it can be challenging to sort out specifics and find answers.
What are your diagnoses? How do they make you feel about yourself?
1) Diagnoses can feel depressing. Your life has become limited in some way. Your relationships may be impacted. Your future may begin to look different. The treatments available may be limited or risky.
2) Diagnoses can feel overwhelming. You develop countless questions and some will never have answers. You undergo extensive tests and/or have to take a number of pharmaceuticals. It is hard to understand what is happening and how to “fix” it.
3) Diagnoses can feel disempowering. “How did this happen? How can I help myself?” We can wind up feeling like a victim of our physiology or life experiences that co-created our disease/illness/symptomatology.
And this is just to name a few.
But I approach any diagnosis in a different way...
Why You Are Not Your Diagnosis
Principle #2: There is no singular pathway to healing. The road is up and down and winding, full of unexpected turns. As you embark on a healing journey, you learn that there is much more to you than your diagnosis and that there are many avenues to explore to help you heal.
Principle #3: Healing is not one-size-fits-all. We all have differences in our physiology and psychology that influence how we respond physically, mentally and emotionally. (Standard treatments for diagnoses generally don't take these differences into account, and thus, you may not feel better.) If you learn what makes you unique, you will discover that you are much more complex than any diagnosis... and that within those complexities lies your innate ability to heal.
Your being is constantly adapting and evolving. Whatever your diagnosis may be, it is what is happening at this current moment in time. And if you are in a constant state of change, a state that is influenced by just about everything, then the argument is that you are not your diagnosis. Who you are now is not who you were a year ago, and thus, it is not who you will be in a year.
Be your own source of hope on your healing journey.
You are not a victim of your physiology.
You are not your diagnosis.
You are an ever-changing being on an ever-changing path of becoming.
Keep going. Keep searching for answers.
In time you will find that hidden within your symptoms and struggles are the very answers you seek.
Interested in working with Cailin?
Your first consultation is free.
Cailin O'Hara, MAcOM, LAc, Dipl OM, is nationally board certified in Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine and Chinese Herbal Medicine. She is based in Phoenix, AZ.
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
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