your power to heal arthritis

Your Power to Heal Arthritis

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a painful, often debilitating condition affecting millions worldwide. Some call it degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. Rates of joint replacements continue to rise—even in younger people ages 45–54. Perhaps you or someone close to you suffers from this condition. But here’s the good news: osteoarthritis is often preventable and manageable with the proper lifestyle habits. This gives us an enormous opportunity to take control of our health and reduce chronic pain and healthcare costs. I am on a mission to educate and empower people and change mindsets so we may continue growing and thriving. Remember, with the right knowledge and lifestyle changes, you have the power to prevent, manage, and heal osteoarthritis.

In the following post, I will provide you with a concise understanding of osteoarthritis, its symptoms, and risk factors. I will delve into the controllable lifestyle causes, the cartilage repair process, and, most importantly, how you can play a crucial role in your own health management by adopting the best practices for joint health. Your proactive approach to health management is key in preventing and managing osteoarthritis.

Signs, symptoms, risk factors

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage, which serves as a protective layer for the bones, deteriorates. It affects weight-bearing and frequently used body parts like hands, spine, hips, and knees, but it can impact any joint. This leads to stiff and painful joints, and bone-on-bone contact can cause deformities. X-rays or MRIs may reveal loss of cartilage, bone spurs, cysts, or thickening of the bone. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional.

While scientists are making great strides in discovering how to repair and grow cartilage to reduce the need for replacements, this will not address the underlying causes of osteoarthritis. It also fuels a mentality that our bodies will inevitably break down—but we can get our joints replaced! The truth is, we should not be pushing our bodies until they break.

Whether or not you’ve received a formal diagnosis of osteoporosis from your doctor, you may be experiencing one or more of these symptoms.

  • Joint pain, swelling, tenderness or achiness
  • Joint stiffness, especially when waking up or after sitting for a long time
  • Crunching or crackling sound or grating sensation in a joint(s) when moving
  • Loss of flexibility and range of motion
  • Bony outgrowths in fingers or toes

Has a doctor told you your arthritis (or any health malady for that matter) is due to “old age”? Have you heard you can’t control your biological age? As a female, maybe you think you are at higher risk of osteoarthritis than males. These things don’t have to be true. Some factors CAN be controlled. We can address excess body weight, recovery from joint injury, and repetitive activities that can wear away the joint cartilage over time. Muscle weakness and laxity can make joints unstable and misaligned, putting strain on joints, and chronic systemic inflammation can destroy joint cartilage. These are all risk factors we can control at some level.

Three risk factors you can control

1. Posture and movement patterns

your power to heal arthritisAs a Hanna Somatic Movement Educator, I’ve learned that maintaining a healthy posture and maintaining movement patterns are key to preventing joint degeneration. Yet, modern sedentary lifestyles don’t support this. Sitting for long periods and leaning toward screens lead to chronic muscle tension. Our nervous system learns, remembers, and maintains these tense muscular patterns as we adopt dysfunctional posture and movement patterns. This tension causes joints to misalign, increasing pressure on cartilage and leading to its breakdown.

Overusing joints, as in sports or repetitive work, strains cartilage and triggers inflammation. Without cartilage protection, bones thicken and develop spurs and cysts, causing pain and limited movement. These changes can be prevented and reversed by releasing muscle tension, retraining posture, and avoiding joint overuse.

2. Chronic inflammation

Understanding the impact of systemic inflammation is crucial as it’s linked to chronic diseases like osteoarthritis. Chronic inflammation occurs with constant joint misuse. Diet also plays a significant role, with research highlighting that nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids can alleviate symptoms. Supplements can’t counteract a diet rich in inflammatory foods. A 2021 study showed knee osteoarthritis patients on a Western diet had worse symptoms than those on Mediterranean or vegetable-based diets. These high-fiber diets helped reduce joint damage and pain.

Other lifestyle factors also increase inflammation and osteoarthritis risk. Chronic stress, exposure to toxins like heavy metals and pesticides, and imbalances in the body’s electrical energy are linked to inflammatory conditions.

3. Excess Body Weight

Excess body weight is a major controllable risk factor for osteoarthritis because it increases pressure on joints.  Studies show that each pound of weight loss reduces knee pressure by four pounds. Inflammation from excess weight contributes to osteoarthritis. Obesity can raise the risk of osteoarthritis in joints throughout the body. Therefore, weight loss lowers osteoarthritis’s risk and severity by reducing mechanical load and inflammatory substances that damage cartilage.

Give cartilage a chance to heal

Cartilage continuously grows and maintains itself throughout life. It was once believed that chondrocytes, the cells responsible for cartilage, couldn’t migrate. However, recent research shows chondrocytes can migrate depending on the situation. A 2019 Duke and Lund Universities study found that human cartilage can regenerate more than previously thought, suggesting potential for enhanced joint repair and limb regeneration.

Despite its repair abilities, cartilage healing is hindered by two factors. First, cartilage lacks its own blood supply and relies on joint movement to receive nutrients. It requires moderate movement to stay healthy and promote the healing process. Second, rest alone isn’t enough to aid cartilage repair effectively. Addressing underlying issues like body use patterns, chronic inflammation, and excess weight is crucial.

Steps to prevent, manage and heal arthritic joints

An important first step is to stop or reduce activities that cause or worsen joint damage to allow cartilage to heal. As a Hanna Somatics Educator, I can help you determine the cause and teach you simple, gentle somatic exercises to release muscle tension and correct imbalanced posture and movement patterns. Training in this field for several years has greatly benefited my body. Additionally:

  1. Gradually start a gentle strengthening routine, loading and unloading joints under the supervision of a qualified professional.
  2. Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet, like the Whole30 program, to reduce inflammation and lose weight if needed.
  3. Reduce systemic inflammation by reducing stress and eliminating toxins. Meditation, red light therapy, and sauna sessions may also be helpful.
  4. Incorporate movement and physical exercise, but stay within your comfort zone. Try low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, gentle forms of yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong that do not stress joints.
  5. For joint replacement and cartilage transplant recovery: Hanna Somatics exercises can speed healing, release tension, and restore natural movement patterns.

I encourage you to address early warning signs of osteoarthritis, such as joint pain and crunching sounds, to make healing easier. Proper self-care can reduce pain, suffering, and healthcare costs, making osteoarthritis not inevitable.

Check out my free Tuesday Hanna Somatics classes.
Contact me for a complimentary private session.

Jacqui@Hamoniouspathways.com

 

Life balance as harmony

“Embracing Harmony: A Guide to Balance and Fulfillment in Life”

A formula for turning disharmony into harmony and life balance

Our life pathways are many, filled with twists and turns, paved and treacherous. While our formative years are fairly set, successive life chapters require choices that can set the tone for how harmonious our life journey unfolds.

Imagine if you could integrate a process  into your life Continue reading

questions to ponder for a meaningful life

Questions for Unveiling the Essence of a Meaningful Life

In the labyrinth of life, there are questions that summon us to dive deep into the core of our being, illuminating the profound and transformative aspects that shape our existence. These questions not only prompt introspection but also guide us towards a richer, more purposeful journey. I invite you to take some time as you start the New Year to ponder your own thoughts around these questions to help you begin to unveil the essence of a meaningful life.

What Makes You Come Alive?

Unraveling the mysteries of our passions is an exploration of the self. What activities, endeavors, or pursuits breathe life into your spirit? Recognizing and nurturing these sources of vitality connects us with our authentic selves, unveiling the vibrant threads that weave the tapestry of our true essence. For me it’s the harmony and interconnectedness of being of service to others and in sync with nature. And also unexpected experiences that turn out to be magical!

Pivotal Turning Point in Your Life?

Life is a series of junctures that redefine our path. Reflecting on the pivotal moments that steered you in a new direction provides insight into your resilience and adaptability. This might be a career shift, a relationship milestone, personal revelation, or a dark period of your life. These turning points contribute to the intricate mosaic of your life story. Some of my pivotal moments have been marked by a loss or ending that caused me to rethink the path I was on—thus opening me up to new possibilities.

Acts of kindnessAn Act of Kindness You’ll Never Forget?

Kindness, a beacon of light in the human experience, leaves an indelible imprint on our hearts. Contemplate the acts of kindness that have touched your life—moments when compassion transcended barriers. These memories serve as a testament to the profound impact small gestures can have, fostering empathy and a sense of interconnectedness. There have been so very many in my life. One that comes to mind was when we had a celebration of my mother’s life after she had passed—and seeing all the people sharing memories of her as we sat in a circle.

One Thing On Your Bucket List?

A bucket list is a manifestation of our dreams and aspirations. What is that one thing you long to experience or achieve? Whether it’s an adventurous escapade, a skill to master, or a connection to forge, contemplating your bucket list instigates a sense of purpose, pushing you to embrace life’s possibilities. I consider myself a lifelong learner. At present I continue to learn and grow in my somatic and meditation teaching skills

One-line Message for the World?

If you had the chance to distill your wisdom into a single line for the world, what would it be? Crafting a concise message requires introspection into your values and beliefs. This exercise prompts a commitment to leaving a positive mark on the world, fostering a collective consciousness of empathy, understanding, and unity. My message is best captured in words I live by–Peace and Harmony.

Essence of a Meaningful Life

As we grapple with these questions, we embark on a journey of self-discovery, weaving together the threads of our passions, resilience, and kindness. In contemplating the essence of a meaningful life, we uncover the profound beauty that lies in the thoughtful exploration of our own existence.

Enjoy the journey!

Following is a recent guided meditation I recorded that may help you get started.

iRest Courses

 

New Study: Unique Way to Relieve Chronic Pain

New Study: Unique Way to Relieve Chronic Pain

Many people experience chronic back and neck pain at some point in their lives and it can be debilitating.  If you aren’t one of these people, I’m sure you know people who are. A new study published in September 2022 demonstrates the efficacy of using pandiculation with Hanna Somatic Education (HSE) to relieve chronic back and neck pain. This unique self-care method releases chronic muscle tension by retraining the nervous system. I personally am a testament to HSE for relieving my own chronic muscle pain since I’ve been training and teaching this powerful practice.Continue reading

Keeping Love alive in the darkness

Questions to Consider in a New Year

Beginning a new year, it’s customary to reflect on our desires and create intentions and resolutions we wish to fulfill in the coming year. For some of us a new chapter of our life is eager to unfold and goals are being called for to charter the course. I rather believe this process can be likened to waking up out of a deep sleep as we do each morning. For each day offers us new possibilities, hew horizons and opportunities to restart anew.

Whatever deep desires we may hold for our lives, we are not alone in this world. Everything we do affects the world around us, as it does us. We are not separate from one another, but interdependent. This interdependent nature calls for cooperation with one another. As you form your intentions, I invite you to consider your impact on the world around you. The following poem may offer some guidance in the process.

At the top of this post, you are welcome to be guided into a live recorded meditation to help you with this process.
Continue reading

Winter--A time for dreaming a more conscious life

Dreaming a More Conscious Life in Winter

Now that holiday celebrations are over, it’s time to put those New Year’s resolutions to work. Start the new diet, exercise regime, marketing tactics, job search, new business or work strategies, find a mate. There is no time like the present! Well—maybe not. And, maybe the Omicron virus is telling us to take a break, stay safe and take time for dreaming a more conscious life.


Turning Inward

What does nature do during winter? With the sparseness of the nurturing sun’s energy, nature turns inward and retreats. It becomes cold and dark. Creatures hibernate, plants submerge their energy into their roots and ponds harden into ice. Nature doesn’t go to the Bahamas for fun in the sun! Nature doesn’t push its high-energy button, because there is little energy to spare. If nature closes down its work during winter, why don’t human beings do the same? For most of us, work and economics runs our lives, and a hot sunny island may seem like the only way to retreat.

turning inward for Self-reflectionWith the increasing disharmonies we now face in the world, isn’t it time to rethink what governs our lives? Isn’t it time to learn how to live our lives with less effort and more ease, rather than with great effort and dis-ease? Isn’t it time to reflect on what is really important in our lives, contemplate our spiritual nature and how we fit into the bigger scheme of things? The work of winter is to store away and shut itself inside. It conserves until spring when the energy rises again. When nature retreats, an ideal time for self-reflection emerges.

 

Connection with our journey

Chinese medicine associates this time of year with the element of water. Water is essential to life. We are born in water and it comprises 78% of our bodies. Water can be forceful or serene, refreshing or murky, fluid or stagnant. Water connects us with our journey—our past, our ancestry and our destiny. It seeks truth, virtue and honesty, and reveals the hidden mysteries of our unconscious. Our thoughts and feelings are filled with secrets about our life, often deeply negative and self-destructive.

The emotion associated with water is fear. We fear change, failure, hurt, the unknown, loss, and abandonment. At the deepest level, we fear our very own death. In many ways, winter is a time of death, as parts of nature wither away. Water imbalance in the body may cause us to identify more deeply with our fears, outwardly expressed in un-ease, worry, tension, and phobias.

 

Surrendering to life

Surrender and releaseThe kidney is associated with the water element. Its function is to extract from fluid waste what is pure for recycling and send the impure to the bladder, its mate, for elimination. The bladder receives, holds and releases. Its true nature is adaptability, going with the flow. When we urinate, we surrender and release, yielding to the flow of life.

The kidney is considered the storehouse for the vital life essence—the very root of life. It regulates the amount of water in our body and all the organs depend on it. It does the work of warming, moistening and regenerating—lest we become cold, rigid, degenerate, or fearful.

 

Acceptance

Fear is governed by our ego, which holds onto patterns from earlier life. When we resist letting go of the toxic waste of our past, those dark secrets rule our lives. But these patterns are not part of our authentic self. When we learn to accept the past, release its power, dis-identify with the ego and live more fully in the present, we surrender to the freedom of being in the flow of life. When our life path is flowing well, it is like the flow of a river that adapts to the changing course. When it is not, it may feel like a quagmire in which we feel overwhelmed or in despair.

“When you surrender to what is
and become fully present,
the past ceases to have any power.”

 –Eckhart Tolle

Authentic conscious self

The surface of a lake may appear still as though nothing is happening. Yet, submerged is an incredible depth of conscious aliveness. This conscious aliveness takes place when we are dreaming during sleep.  When our true source or identity is never truly grasped, we experience doubt and insecurity, which stimulates fear. But truth is the absence of fear. When we go beneath the surface to the depths of our being where truth resides, we connect with our authentic conscious self, our gateway to the Divine.

Dreaming a more conscious life

dreaming of rebirthDeath is not the opposite of life, but of birth. The true work of winter is to go within, to gestate, germinate, and conserve essence. It is preparing for rebirth in the spring. Surprisingly, when we conserve our energy resources in winter, shed toxic patterns that no longer serve us, we are refreshed, renewed and ready to implement a better life plan when the elevated spring energies return to support us.

So, allow yourself to slow down and examine your life path. Use water for purification with baths or long showers. Contemplate your essence, life’s meaning and purpose. Dream, meditate, journal, brainstorm, visualize, create affirmations and goals. Engage your body minimally, such as with walks or gentle movement. Economize your energy essence. Preserve and regenerate your resources. Retire early and rise later, when you can. Spend more time in the warmth of friends and snuggle with loved ones. Live in sync with nature and surrender to the flow of the precious aliveness of life in the midst of dreaming a more conscious life.

Check my free classes of iRest Meditation and Hanna Somatic Movement, a gentle movement practice.

Keeping Love alive in the darkness

Keeping Love Alive in the Darkness

Most holiday greetings include words like “joy,” “merry” and “happy” in their text. Yet, consider that we are called tokeeping love alive in the darkness celebrate cultural and religious traditions with family and friends – during the darkest time of the year. This darkness manifests in our lives in many ways that can not only make it a challenge for us to be happy and joyful, but also cause us to forget the essential teaching of this season--keeping love alive.

“Ancient traditions remind us that we have come to this world for one reason….to love and to find a love even greater than any known by the angels of the heavens.”
–Gregg Braden, The Isaiah Effect: Decoding the Lost Science of Prayer and Prophecy”

Legacy of love

Trees and plants go dormant or die in winter. Their essence is preserved in their seeds and roots for rebirth and rejuvenation in the spring. Whether nature or humans, we all have an essence that lives on after death in the energy of the cosmos, in nature and in the legacy we leave behind and pass onto others. This essence is love. Divine love permeates the Universe. It is the core energy that connects and holds everything together—the stars, galaxies, planets, moons, everything on Earth.

Keeping the charge of love alive
is an essential teaching of the holiday season.

Darkness and Diminished energy 

At this time of year the sun, our natural energy charger, is busy sending its rays to other parts of the planet, leaving us with short, dark dreary days. We in the North are supposed to be hibernating like the rest of nature. Instead, we’re typically out and about trying to be merry, stressing our bodies–and often our relationships. It’s not uncommon for heated arguments to ensue at family gatherings. Now with our current political climate and the continuing stress ensued from the Covid-19 pandemic, the charge of love has seemingly diminished.

keeping love alive in the darkness

Perhaps we can learn something from our earliest ancestors. They feared that the life-giving sun would disappear at this time of year. So they performed rituals they believed would prevent this from happening. Eventually, they came to embrace this season as a womb or seedbed of life to come. They saw the Winter Solstice as a time of death, a passing away of the old pattern of the year—the old sun, old habits, beliefs and structures—and birth of a new sun, new patterns and possibilities. It was a time of healing and transformation.

Changing traditions

Our traditions are filled with memories of the past and the love we’ve shared with others. But traditions change when people’s lives change. Children grow up and move away, relationships end and loved ones pass on–and even pandemics emerge. We keep love alive when we adapt to change, like nature, even creating new traditions and bringing new people into the fold. This helps heal losses and create new possibilities.

Keeping love alive: Winter Solstice ceremony at Jacqui'sEach year on the solstice, I host a gathering of special people. We sit in sacred darkness as I lead a special ceremonial ritual drawn from ancient native traditions. A friend plays the Native American flute which is accompanied by the soft beating of a drum resembling the heartbeat. Candles are lit and the flame is passed to another as we each share a story of how we moved from darkness into the light during the past or recent years, or something that lit us with joy. We end with a hearty laugh and a wish for new possibilities in the coming year!

Keeping love alive

The holiday season typically ends with an appeal to make New Year’s resolutions to help us call in the light and create those transformational possibilities. Perhaps it’s to take better care of body, mind or spirit. But resolutions can be empty words unless we imbibe them with energy, passion – and love. As the sun shifts into a new pattern it invites us to do the same. I invite you to take a moment to light a candle before the New Year. Feel Divine love energy alive within helping you to create resolutions that you can implement with joy and ease in the coming year–even in dark times. You might ask yourself:

  1. What am I willing to release–habits, patterns, beliefs, or something else?
  2. How do I want to show up in the coming year? 
  3. How will I keep love alive this year? Keeping love alive imbibes you with the courage to stretch to new possibilities.

Check out my classes of Hanna Somatic Movement and iRest Meditation.

 

peace in themidst at Crab Tree Nature Perserve

Peace in the Midst

How can we find peace in the midst of difficult times? It’s been 20 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, yet we continue to live through turbulent times. American poet, environmental activist, and farmer, Wendell Berry wrote a poem in 1968 during another turbulent time in American history.Continue reading

Stress response to Covid-19

Under Stress? Why Not Tend and Befriend?

It’s all too frighteningly familiar: A man walks into a workplace and starts shooting, leaving many people dead and others injured. News reports later reveal that he was angry for being fired from his job or under great personal stress. In one scenario some six years ago, the owner of a sausage factory in California, who had complained about being harassed by the government over health violations at his plant, shot and killed three meat inspectors who showed up to examine the facility. A friend of the assailant commented, “He was a good man, but pressure, pressure—everybody blows up under pressure.”

But does this tendency to blow up with anger and aggression truly lurk in everyone?Continue reading

Earthrise

Earthrise

Earthrise

Dedicated to Al Gore and The Climate Reality Project

On Christmas Eve, 1964, astronaut Bill Anders
Snapped a photo of the earth
As Apollo 8 orbited the moon
Those three guys were surprised
To see from their eyes
Our planet looked like an earth-rise
A blue orb hovering over the moon’s gray horizon
with deep oceans and silver skies
It was our world’s first glance at itself
Our first chance to see a shared reality
A declared stance and a commonality
A glimpse into our planet’s mirror
And as threats drew nearer
Our own urgency became clearer
As we realize that we hold nothing dearer
than this floating body we all call home

We’ve known That we’re caught in the throes
Of climactic changes some say
Will just go away, While some simply pray
To survive another day
For it is the obscure, the oppressed, the poor
Who when the disaster is declared done
still suffer more than anyone
Climate change is the single greatest challenge of our time
Of this, you’re certainly aware
It’s saddening, but I cannot spare you
From knowing an inconvenient fact, because
It’s getting the facts straight that gets us to act and not to wait
So I tell you this not to scare you
But to prepare you, to dare you
To dream a different reality
Where despite disparities
We all care to protect this world
This riddled blue marble, this little true marvel
To muster the verve and the nerve

To see how we can serve
Our planet. You don’t need to be a politician
To make it your mission to conserve, to protect
To preserve that one and only home
That is ours, To use your unique power
To give next generations the planet they deserve
We are demonstrating, creating, advocating
We heed this inconvenient truth, because we need to be anything
but lenient With the future of our youth
And while this is a training
in sustaining the future of our planet
There is no rehearsal. The time is
Now Now Now
Because the reversal of harm
And protection of a future so universal
Should be anything but controversial
So, earth, pale blue dot
We will fail you not
Just as we chose to go to the moon
We know it’s never too soon
To choose hope. We choose to do more than cope
With climate change We choose to end it—
We refuse to lose
Together we do this and more
Not because it’s very easy or nice
But because it is necessary
Because with every dawn we carry
the weight of the fate of this celestial body orbiting a star

And as heavy as that weight sounded, it doesn’t hold us down
But it keeps us grounded, steady, ready
Because an environmental movement of this size
Is simply another form of an earth-rise
To see it, close your eyes
Visualize that all of us leaders in this room
and outside of these walls or in the halls, all
of us change-makers are in a spacecraft
Floating like a silver raft
in space, and we see the face of our planet anew
We relish the view
We witness its round green and brilliant blue
Which inspires us to ask deeply, wholly:
What can we do?
Open your eyes.
Know that the future of this wise planet
Lies right in sight:
Right in all of us. Trust this earth uprising.
All of us bring light to exciting solutions never tried before
For it is our hope that implores us, at our uncompromising core
To keep rising up for an earth more than worth fighting for.

– Amanda Gorman, Youth Poet Laureate