Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

I just wanted to take a moment to address the sexual misconduct involving one of the giant massage therapy chains that has been in the news recently.  I am horrified and disgusted that someone in my profession has violated the sanctity of our collective healing space.

People come to massage to find a safe place in which to let their mind and body relax and begin the healing process. Obviously, it’s not to be assaulted. While it is impossible for an employer to control individual employees’ actions, it is deplorable that virtually nothing has been done to address the now hundreds of complaints that have been filed against these employees. The company owes their clientele better and I will be surprised if there’s not repercussions for not removing predators from their employ in a timely manner. I am saddened that so many people are now having to deal with the trauma of being assaulted when they rightly believed they were safe.

All that being said, I just wanted to make sure that you, as a consumer of massage, know exactly what to expect when you schedule a massage. And I want to give you some straight talk about what to do if ANYONE or ANYTHING ever makes you feel uncomfortable while receiving massage with any bodyworker, anywhere.

As a massage therapist and bodyworker, my main goal is to help you feel better. I strive to create a safe, comfortable space for you. You will find this is a common thread among people who practice a healing art. We know receiving massage can be an incredibly vulnerable experience. Most of the time you will be unclothed to some degree, possibly lying face down, and someone you may not know yet will be touching you. I never want you to feel unsafe or uncomfortable so read on and know that you are always in charge when you are receiving a massage.

A Bodywork Client’s Bill of Rights

  1. If you’re uncomfortable for any reason, tell us. It’s not going to hurt my feelings if you don’t like my music, if you feel cold, if the sheet feels scratchy or if I’m actually hurting you.
  2. If you feel unsafe for any reason, tell us. It’s not going to hurt my feelings and I need to figure out what’s wrong so you can feel safe again.
  3. If you feel like you want to stop the session and leave for any reason, tell us. It’s not going to hurt my feelings and I don’t want to subject you to an experience you don’t want.
  4. If you feel like you need to cry, let it out. You might startle me, but I’m not going to run away.
  5. Your massage is your time. It may be the only hour you get this week, month, or year to be perfectly yourself and let your mind and body enter into a healing state so please tell me if there’s something I need to do to help you have the best massage experience possible.

What To Do If You’re Assaulted During a Massage

  1. If you’re able, stop the session and leave the establishment immediately.
  2. Once you are safe, go directly to the police department or the emergency department (depending on the severity of the assault).
  3. Expect to make a police report on the incident.
  4. After making a police report ask the police if it is okay for you to call the business and make a formal complaint against the therapist. This is assuming this happened in a multi-therapist office.
  5. Make a formal complaint against the therapist with the state Board of Massage Therapy.

I hope this never happens to you. I hope it never happens to anyone and I am horrified that it has happened at all.

How To Prevent Assault During a Massage

Unfortunately, in our world as it currently stands it is impossible to prevent someone from doing harm if they are intent on committing assault. Even if you’re willing to use deadly force to protect yourself there’s no guarantee you won’t still be hurt in the process. Such a sad and frightening prospect, but there are a few things you can do to try to protect yourself.

As a massage therapist in the State of Alabama, I am required to maintain a massage therapy license with the state. In order to do that I have to agree to and abide by a whole host of laws that deal with the ethical treatment of my clients. Many of those laws specifically outline boundaries and forbid me from assaulting a client. Not that I need a law to know that it’s just wrong to assault a client… So when considering going to a new massage therapist make sure they are licensed. And there are a few other things you can do, here’s how to tell if they’re legit and agree to ethical boundaries.

I hope you have found some helpful information here. And while I would have preferred to never have to address this situation, please know that Harvest Moon Massage Therapy will always be a safe space where you don’t have to worry about your personal safety.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Exclusive Provider of Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage!

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It’s no secret that sounds and music can have profound effects on mood. I think we’ve all experienced sentimentality while attending a wedding, the elation and hyperactivity after a rock concert, and irritation at an alarm that just will not stop. I’ve always been especially tuned in to noise and music which probably explains why I spent so much time in band and orchestra as a younger person. Thus I found it very interesting when I started seeing articles a few years ago about a new kind of music.

This “new” music was called binaural beats music. And essentially it is a type of music written such that each ear hears a different frequency or note. Sounds weird, right? Just weird enough that I had to try it!

So after a bit of research and reading I found some samples of binaural beats music. I have to admit I was skeptical. It flew in the face of all my musical education. And not wanting to spend a lot of money on something that I thought was perhaps just another gimmick, I settled down with the samples to listen and I was stunned at my body’s reaction.

After my first binaural beats music listen, I was drunk. Not the tipsy, let’s party kind of drunk; I was drowsy, time to go to bed drunk. And I went to bed and slept hard. Obviously more research was in order because one can’t just go around being drunk all day. Well, I guess one can, but it might really impact one’s ability to function productively in society.

So upon even more reading I discovered that binaural beats music has an interesting effect on the brain. Used mindfully, it can take one from a state of high functioning brain activity to a more relaxed state of brain activity. In lay terms, it can turn the monkey brain off and promote a more relaxed state of mind.

What would you do with a more relaxed state of mind?

Even more interesting, binaural beats music can be customized to take the brain into a state suitable for sleep (which is what I listened to that first time) or to an alert state great for getting all the things done or to enter that meditative state that is so healing and relaxing. If you’re still reading I know you’re now wondering how that works. Well, it’s got to do with sound frequency and how the brain responds to different frequencies and all of a sudden things get very sciency. If you’re really, really interested in the science behind it I recommend starting here to read about what’s happening in the brain when listening to this kind of music.

If you don’t really care about the science, that’s okay and you don’t have to know it to use binaural beats music. And even better the creators of binaural beats music (even some of the free stuff) label each “song” according to its purpose. So it’s really easy to find something that suits the kind of relaxing you need to do whether it be getting to sleep or getting into a creative groove.

So let’s get down to some details about how you listen to binaural beats music to get this relaxation effect. First you need to find some binaural beats music. Here is a website that let’s you download sample binaural beats music for free. You’ll need a set of earbuds or headphones and they need to be able to handle stereo sound. Get comfortable, take inventory and see how you feel, put on your headphones, and start the music. Plan to spend at least 15 minutes listening. When you’re finished take inventory again and see how you feel.

It might take a few tries to find something you like. Big surprise I’m sure, but I’m partial to nature sounds. It may also take a couple of tries to really start feeling the relaxation effect. It’s sort of like meditation or other relaxation methods in that you have to give your brain and body a chance to figure out what you’re trying to accomplish. Also, you must use earbuds or headphones. The technology simply doesn’t work without them. And some of this music you can’t hear at all without earbuds or headphones.

I hope this gives you one more self-care, stress-relieving technique in your arsenal. If you try it I’d love to hear about your experience. Happy Listening!

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Exclusive Provider of Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage!

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Dementia - The size of the challenge

Dementia – The size of the challenge (Photo credit: The Prime Minister’s Office)

I’ll be attending the Alzheimer’s Support Group at the Morgan County (Alabama) Mental Health Association this next Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 7 pm.

Ms. Lynn Easterwood of Hospice of North Alabama will be demonstrating techniques to relax and assist in reducing the pain of elderly or ill persons.

The flier I received in the mail says she’ll be presenting the Comfort Touch system. I don’t know much about it, but it’s supposed to be a massage modality suited for people with dementia, pain, illness or simply the elder folk.

Anyway, come join us if you are local and interested. It’s free and nurses and social workers get CE hours. I’m working on finding out whether Massage Therapists can also get credit. Regardless I think it’s something good to know as we all have elders in our families.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Exclusive Provider of Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy Massage



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Recently I started attending an Alzheimer’s/Dementia Caregiver Support group. Many of you already know that I help to care for an elder who has severe dementia. We spent several years struggling along by ourselves trying our best to provide the support she needs as her dementia continues to escalate.

Then last year a friend turned me on to these meetings at the Morgan County Mental Health Association. They are for caregivers and family members of people who suffer with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and I can’t say enough about how helpful this program and the people who run it have been. Whether you need advice on services available in the community to help you and your loved one cope with the frightening changes they’re experiencing or you just need a break and to sit and talk with someone who understands they seem to know and be available for you.

I didn’t get to attend the last meeting which is a shame because they hosted a local specialist on Elder Law. That would have been helpful. Maybe next month I can get a synopsis of what we should be doing and looking at.

Anyway, if you’re local to Morgan County, Alabama and struggling with Alzheimer’s and/or dementias in your family, this meeting is free and open to the community.

When: 3rd Tuesday of the month, 7 – 8:30 pm

Where: 207 Commerce Circle SW, Decatur, AL

More info: Morgan County Mental Health Association

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Exclusive Provider of Ashi-Thai Massage

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Wide Open Spaces

Friday, as I was desperately trying to pack a suitcase and figure out if I had everything I needed for the weekend Rossiter training in Atlanta, a large truck rumbled up the driveway. It was Habitat for Humanity. They had come to pick up the vestiges of my 20’s.

For a while we’d been discussing getting rid of some of the old furniture that I had been hoarding in the rec room upstairs. And after tentative agreement last week a pick up was scheduled. Their arrival was somewhat of a surprise and I don’t think I was supposed to be there when they came because I received the stink eye and was told to go get everything ready to move. A few minutes later and the big truck was loaded with my old couch and the dining room table that had become so loaded with scrapbook accessories I had forgotten what it actually looked like.

The guys were nice and said thank you for the donation. I said a quiet goodbye as the truck lumbered down the driveway and wished it all a nice home somewhere it’s used and appreciated. Now all that remains of that period of my life are mementos scattered around in random boxes, pictures and memories.

And though sentimental about the stuff that represented that period of my life, I can see the open places the stuff used to occupy. And there’s a lot of happiness in that. More room, more space, more possibilities.

I have finally learned that more things do not mean more happiness. In fact there is liberty in open space and not having so many things. Being happy with less is very freeing. Being okay with not having the latest, greatest whatever generates less stress. And having the space to consciously make decisions on what I really want, that’s the reward, I think.

Also, the extra money in my pocket doesn’t hurt either. The goal of paying that mortgage off early is actually seeing some action now that I’ve quit “needing” so much.

So for a while I’m going to enjoy less clutter in my home and the corresponding openness in my mind. Who knows what will come to fill it, but whatever it may be this time I’ll be consciously choosing to fill that space, physical or otherwise. I can’t wait to see what happens.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Newest Provider of Rossiter Pain Relief Techniques

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Shortly after Mardi Gras and the big parade I was talking with a friend of mine who came to last year’s parade and hung around for the after-party. Last year there was no formal Krewe Party so we made it up as we went along and ended up in the bar side of a local Italian restaurant.

In the conversation he mentioned that he had a lot of fun, “Raiding a bar with a band of pirates,” and that night had fulfilled something that he didn’t even know was on his bucket list.

I started laughing because I had never actually considered one, that we were a “band of pirates” and two, that we “raided” places. But that’s exactly what happened that night. A gnarly-looking band of foul-mouthed pirates took over a bar and spent the evening drinking and carousing. Just what you would expect them to do.

Which is so far from what I do in my real life that it is shocking that I was even a part of it. But they say that clothes really do make the man and apparently putting on the coat and hat and sword really do make the pirate.

Since the conversation I have thought back to him saying that it fulfilled something he didn’t even know was on his bucket list. And after processing the superficial meaning of the conversation and continuing to come back to it, it has occurred to me that this is what life is about.

Being open to the things that you don’t even know are on your bucket list. Living life wide open and experiencing it as it happens and loving it. Good, bad, and ugly, just take it, live it, and love it.

I’ve been talking about fun stuff, but as I’m aging I’m also learning an appreciation for the tougher things, the painful things and learning to be thankful for all the times I’ve come through, good and bad. Because it gives me experience to draw from and confidence that next time perhaps it won’t be so hard or painful. And thankful for the practice of living life now so next time it gets bad I won’t despair.

I guess what I’m ultimately trying to say is that along with enjoying the journey, just be open to what life brings you. Or as those gnarly pirates might say, “Storm and plunder, baby!”

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Exclusive Provider of Ashi-Thai Massage

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KreweOYeCrookedGoat-MardiGras2013All I have to say about this year’s Mardi Gras parade is, Wow!

Okay, you knew I couldn’t just say, wow, and leave it at that. Wow! OMG! I still can’t believe how much fun that was! {Doing the funky chicken dance…} Okay, whew, calming down a little bit now.

We had a good time. Check that, we had a great time!

There’s nothing like spending time with your friends working toward a common goal. Even if the goal is something really weird like building a pirate ship on a trailer then dressing up in thrift store finds and running around clashing plastic swords with each other.

Until Sunday I didn’t realize how crappy the start of this year has been for me. Issues with my other job, a couple of unexpected deaths and some niggling family issues that just won’t go away have combined to bring me down in these dreary, rainy days that are typical for southeastern U.S. winter weather. And as usual I smile and soldier on employing the ‘fake it til you make it’ mentality until I’m so far into a trench I can’t see the sun anymore.

Mardi Gras was a good excuse to kick my hermitey self in the butt and get around friends. And no matter how sad or crappy I was feeling when I got to a work session, by the time I left, I was glad I went. My friends (new and old) always have a way of lifting my spirits just enough. Whether they’re feeding me tasks to do and leaving me alone or we’re all hauling on a rope to pull a mast upright, it helps.

And then seeing the finished product and getting to take our awesome, hard, and creative work and put it out on the street to entertain the masses. Seeing those little kids’ face’s light up at real, live pirates, it did something for me. Watching the delight wash over the adults when they realized we were for real and that ship wasn’t just cardboard and spit, but actual wood and nails and canvas. It cracked something open in my heart just a little bit.

And I think that’s what I’m trying to write about today. How getting out of my head and doing something with others and for others and just being open to letting life in instead of shutting everything out helps to start healing something I didn’t consciously realize was broken. Perhaps my instinct to shut down, hunker down and feed my turtle should be an indicator in the future that I need some time with friends. Perhaps…

Thank goodness for my crazy, artistic friends who envision these nutty things for us to do. I’m not sure what I would do without them. For sure this life would be a lot less fun.

P.S. – We won the trophy for 1st place for our float. Pictures over here, if you’re interested.

P.S.S. – Only two of my clients made a spectacle of themselves. Lucky them! I hope they’re not giving up massage for Lent…

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Exclusive Provider of Fijian Barefoot Massage Massage

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