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Finding our calling through our greatest challenges and greatest joys

SHANNON & NICOLE’S STORIES

Sometimes we are intrinsically called to a certain life path through the joy and elation sparked from an experience with travel, with the pleasure of being of service, or through a deep bond with a loved one.  Sometimes, great challenge and suffering can propel us to our unique and unexpected calling in life.  The sheer rawness and difficulty of an experience can move us in our core and magnetized us in such a powerful way that it easily leads us to our life’s work.

We have both asked ourselves and each other why we do the work we do, as we are passionately called to work with women struggling with infertility, pregnancy related problems, labor, postpartum and adjusting to life as a parent.  It is in our life experiences and story of becoming parents where the answer lies.

 

SHANNON’S STORY

I can’t say I have personally been through fertility challenges of my own, but have known countless women both professionally and personally who have endured this deep longing for a child and struggled to achieve pregnancy for different various reasons.   I do think there is universal commonality in surrendering within the experiences of trying to achieve pregnancy, going through labor, healing from some of the physical and emotional trauma from labor, recovering postpartum, and transitioning into being a parent.

For some time I was unconsciously compelled to work with women though all the joy and deep pain these life transitions can bring.  I found myself wondering why at certain junctures.  I know through and through that this work brings complete joy and fulfillment to my life, but the question I have asked is why has it been so fulfilling for me?

I have one beautiful child that I love with all my heart and soul.  But my experience with labor was quite long and difficult, and painful in such a way that I literally thought my body would rip into pieces. I experienced back labor for up to 16 hours and had a long pushing phase of 3 hours.  I am in no way complaining about my wonderful home birth I got to have, but am stating both sides of the coin.  It was beautiful, powerful, encouraging, exhausting, terrifying at moments, and honestly the hardest thing I have ever done.  With that said, I wouldn’t of have wanted my birth experience to be any different.  It was the most amazing and difficult thing I have ever gone through.

I then had a beautiful, yet colicky, baby for a good long while with serious 2 year lap of sleep deprivation.  It was the kind of sleep deprivation where I would forget what I was saying midsentence and at times had emotional break downs due to lack of sleep.  Having a child has deepened and enriched my life in such inexplicable and life altering ways, I am so grateful for to be a mother.  And yet with this spectrum of feelings and dedicating my life’s work to empowering and be part of the healing process for women, I have little desire to be pregnant or go through labor again.  Instead, I am called at my core to spend this energy help make this process easier for women, babies, and families.

At the very root of all of these life experiences is a deep surrender and a deep letting go of control.  Touching in on and experiencing something so innately primal ranging from desiring a baby, to enduring a long difficult labor, to healing from the trauma of our labor, to loving another being in such an incredible and profound way allows for a deep selflessness and compassion for ourselves and others.

In this deep surrender, love, compassion, and strength I see and know from my collective experience in going through this process that I find myself compelled to make this process easier for women.  Whether it’s lending a hand to the mom in the store with her screaming toddler, helping women initiate labor so that they can potentially have the labor and birth they desire, helping a women achieve pregnancy, and or supporting women through miscarriages, I am compassionately driven, present, and am living my life with purpose.

I continue to work with women in this sacred space of supporting them with acupuncture, herbs, intuitive work, listening, or providing compassion and understanding.  My experience has really triggered a deep innate desire to be present and committed to this process for other women. This is where our difficult experience can be so completely transformative in the way we engage and support others in the world.  Had it not been for the collective experience I had I would not be here today writing this.   So grateful for ALL of it!

 

NICOLE’S STORY

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a huge heart for people.  I am passionate about making a difference in others’ lives and I have spent my whole life in this pursuit.  I planned to become a counselor as I grew up.  With this in mind, I created peer counseling and survivor programs in my middle and high schools.  During high school and college years, I began fundraising for Greenpeace, Muscular Dystrophy, and Universal Health Care reform.

I moved to Chicago to model while continuing college and found that I enjoyed promoting the struggling fashion designers and photographers rather than modeling myself.  Then I was offered the opportunity to scout and place models with agencies around the world, hoping to help make their dreams a reality.  There came a turning point when I felt I needed to pursue other avenues besides the modeling industry to improve the lives of people. I tried Corporate America, building a start-up business into a billion dollar company, establishing internal communications while developing guiding principles and overall vision during their expansion.

What I didn’t know at the time was that one of my greatest opportunities in fulfilling my purpose was just an early birth away.  Everything changed when I went into labor at six months (25 weeks) and gave birth to twins weighing 1 lb. 10 oz. and 1 lb. 11 oz.  That event truly changed the course of my life!  It was there in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) when I spent five months holding my babies’ skin to my skin that I learned what a healing difference touch provides!  As I watched them flourish, growing and getting stronger each and every day I held them, I was in the presence of miracles.  I knew that this ability was a gift and an honor.  Shortly after the boys came home from the NICU, I was inspired by an infant massage therapist who taught me to massage my boys.

I moved my family back to Madison, Wisconsin, to learn massage therapy, another lifelong passion.  I studied under a renowned Chinese doctor and acupuncturist and became certified in Chinese and Western massage.  I learned even more about the miraculous power of touch and the healing available through Chinese medicine and acupressure.  I knew that I wanted to work with pregnant women, so I studied under an amazing RN, midwife and therapist, and became certified in prenatal and postpartum massage.

After my training, I went on to work in an acupuncture fertility center for several years providing fertility, pregnancy and postpartum massage.  During that time, I also worked in a chronic pain center working to improve the lives of those struggling with extreme pain. Before opening my own business, I worked in a spa and had the opportunity as a therapist to introduce many to their first massage, also through a public relations and marketing position I worked to build Corporate America’s understanding of the benefits of employee wellness. Many companies learned they could increase retention and productivity by utilizing holistic and preventive care therapies such as chair massage, acupuncture, nutrition, yoga, and Chinese Medicine.

One of my greatest joys (outside of my twin boys) has been teaching prenatal massage to massage students and prenatal and labor support massage to pregnant couples.  I also have the honor of providing acupressure and labor support massage in the delivery room.  I take advantage of every opportunity to provide seminars educating others on the benefits of massage, pre-term labor symptoms, and showing how a pain-free pregnancy is absolutely possible!

I have had the great privilege of living out my dream and have owned my own massage therapy business, A Healer’s Hand since 2007 till now. In 2013 I had the profound opportunity to partner with Shannon Gyles of Madison Acupuncture and Holistic Health. By combining our expertise and businesses we were able to create Sacred Healing Center.  To better serve our greater passion and vision of providing comprehensive therapies to women and their families throughout fertility, pregnancy, delivery and postpartum care.

Our center now offers not only massage and acupuncture, but chiropractic, nutrition, doula and infant massage therapies.  I could not be more proud and humbled to work with such extraordinary professionals and clients! I am grateful that I am able to fulfill my life’s pursuit and know this is just the beginning.

5 Tips for a Healthier and More Vibrant New Year

With the New Year here, many people are resolving to lose weight and get healthy in 2014. I think this is really wonderful and I love my work as a Nutritionist because I get to help support those goals. While every health condition that is treated with nutrition and supplements is different – whether you are trying to lose weight, get pregnant, lower your cholesterol, or manage your blood sugar levels, there are some universal truths. Here are my top 5 universal tips for getting healthy in the New Year:

1. Eat whole and real food. Focus on protein sources like fish, eggs, beans, (organic when possible) meat, and nuts and seeds. Pair these with plenty of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit daily. Even if you are trying to use lose weight, eating heavily processed “diet” and “lite” foods is counterproductive as these foods bombard your body with additives and/or excessive sugar or artificial sweeteners. These additives often only make weight loss more difficult.

2. Eat leafy green vegetables every day. Leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, chard, and broccoli are loaded with beneficial nutrients like vitamin C (a potent antioxidant and important for the immune system), folate (especially important during pregnancy and while trying to conceive), calcium (for bone health), and vitamin E. Leafy greens are also alkalizing for the body.

3. Cut your sugar intake as much as possible. Sugar promotes weight gain and may encourage the development of numerous health issues including high cholesterol, diabetes, and even cancer. The first step is to eliminate all sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas, sports drinks, and sweetened teas. After that, set limits on desserts such as 2-3 times/week or less. As you eat less sugar, you will crave it less.

4. Take probiotics and eat probiotic foods. Probiotics are a popular area of research these days as it turns out that the bacteria in our intestines can play a powerful role in our health. Gut bacteria may play a role not only in digestion, but also body weight, the immune system, and even mood. Try a probiotic supplement, but also include probiotic foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, or kefir.

5.  Eat healthy fats. The common fear is that eating fat puts fat on your body, but our bodies don’t operate so simply. Your body needs fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins D and E. Don’t forget the heart healthy and anti-inflammatory and fertility supportive omega-3 fatty acids found in (low mercury) fish, walnuts, and leafy greens. Other healthy fats include those found in nuts and seeds, avocados, coconut oil, and olive oil.

Looking to change your diet to lose weight, get healthier, or support your fertility or a healthy pregnancy? Make an appointment with Margaret today or contact her with questions at margaret@thrivenutritionmadison.com.

Pregnancy and Acupuncture

preg belly and blue sky

Acupuncture and pregnancy:  Providing safe, gentle, and profound relief during pregnancy

Acupuncture is thousands of years old and uses complex and detailed diagnostic standards to effectively treat many different conditions and complications associated with pregnancy, labor, and post-partum.  Some women are hesitant to try acupuncture during pregnancy, specifically the early stages of pregnancy.   The first trimester is a dichotomy: as it is filled with elation and joy and is also an unnerving and fragile time for expecting moms.

Regular acupuncture during pregnancy sets the foundation for a healthy mother and baby. In addition, women who receive acupuncture during pregnancy often have a shorter and easier birth experience than women who don’t receive acupuncture. Several European studies concluded that women who received acupuncture once a week during the last month of pregnancy had significantly shorter labors than women who did not receive any acupuncture.

Choosing an acupuncturist

When choosing an acupuncturist during pregnancy, find an acupuncturist that has specificDollarphotoclub_74872523 expertise in pregnancy care.  Fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum care require unique TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) knowledge and or education.  There are many acupuncture points/Chinese herbs that are to be avoided during pregnancy and it is wise to choose a practitioner that is well versed in this type of care.

What acupuncture can do for you during pregnancy

Acupuncture has the most optimal results when the patient receives treatments on a regular basis throughout pregnancy.  Acupuncture works very effectively on acute conditions, but is most effective when it has the opportunity to prevent illness, pain or discomfort.  This is especially true during pregnancy.  Regular maintenance through acupuncture can help alleviate problems as women go through the various stages of pregnancy.

 

Acupuncture can be very effective at treating and managing conditions such as:

  • nausea, vomiting, and hyperemesis gravidarum
  • insomnia
  • low energyLotus Pose
  • anemia
  • anxiety/depression
  • constipation
  • heartburn
  • back pain and sciatica
  • symphysis pubis pain
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • gestational diabetes
  • high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia)
  • PUPPs & other pregnancy-related skin conditions
  • certain types of threatened miscarriage
  • breech presentation
  • posterior presentation
  • pre-term labor
  • delayed labor
  • labor pain
  • lactation problems
  • postpartum depression

 

General Treatment Plan for Pregnancy

古代蓮Acupuncture and TCM provide specific treatments for each of the three trimesters of pregnancy: The first trimester sets the foundation for a healthy pregnancy, reduces nausea and assists with prevention of miscarriage.  The second trimester tends to be the easiest for most women, but acupuncture can help to maintain balance in the body and offer relief from common complaints such as pain, heartburn, and constipation etc.  The last trimester is a time when acupuncturists work to prepare the body for labor and delivery, reduce stress and anxiety, increase good quality sleep and help prevent preeclampsia and other conditions associated with the end of pregnancy.

Why Chose Acupuncture as a Conjunctive Therapy during Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a sacred and reflective time, as women are striving to be their absolute healthiest for the wellbeing of their baby and to allow for the most blissful prenatal experience.  If we are able be care for and nurture ourselves as mothers to be, we will be increasing able to be present to the needs of our babies and families at large.

Pregnancy is a time when women deserve to feel jubilant and literally full of life!  Acupuncture works effectively on the mind body connection, providing mental and physical relief for the mother and baby.  It can provide a time of solitude, expression, deep relaxation, understanding, comfort, and vibrant health.

Article Written By:

Shannon Gyles MSOM

(Featured in Natures Pathways)

 

 

 

www.acupuncturetoday.com
Acupuncture & Fertility pamphlet from Acupuncture Media Works, LLC, (2005).
Acupuncture: Review and analysis of reports on controlled clinical trials. World Health Organization, Geneva, 2002. www.who.int/medicines

 

 

Anxiety and TCM

White dahlia close-upHow to live with an open heart: Treating anxiety and stress through acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine

As a society we have so many demands on our energy, time, resources, body, emotions, and general well-being.  What we all truly desire is finding a peaceful, calm, centered place from which to live our lives authentically.  Most of us strive to be present and truly connected to our own personal power; living our lives as free as possible from fear, stress, anxiety and or depression.  When we are able to resolve some of these feelings, we are able to tap into boundless possibilities and resources for personal growth and well-being.

From a Western perspective, acupuncture has been shown through clinic research, to gently and effectively positively interact with your endocrine and nervous system.  Acupuncture calms and resets the “fight or flight” response which helps to prevent the production of cortisol and norepinephrine (stress hormones).  Excessive cortisol levels in the body due to chronic stress and or anxiety can lead to chronic health conditions such as heart disease, weight gain, inflammatory conditions, and much more.  In conjunction, acupuncture is also thought to positively affect the HPA axis (the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands) response to stress through potentially lowering and blocking stress induced hormone elevations that the HPA axis produces.

Dollarphotoclub_74872523Acupuncture and TCM is an amazing tool to help us achieve a more peaceful state of being, thus helping us to live the life we are meant to live!  It has been used for thousands of years, catapulting true healing by getting to the root of the “dis-ease”.  From a Chinese medical perspective, acupuncture works predominantly on three main meridians (channels or energy) and helps to restore the following three organs: the liver, heart, and spleen.  Because Chinese Medicine is thousands of years old, the organs have a different function than they do from a Western medical viewpoint.

The Heart Meridian & Organ
The Heart houses our emotional being.   When the heart isn’t properly nourished with blood and or stress becomes chronic, the heart energy becomes stagnant and or deficient.  This results in feelings of anxiety, insomnia, obsessive thinking, chronic stress, depression, among many other things.  When the heart meridian is balanced and full of healthy qi (energy), we will feel open, inspired, calm, compassionate, centered, and full of life.

The Liver Meridian & Organ
The liver has a diverse and powerful effect on our body’s ability to cope and deal with stress.  The liver meridian controls the free flow of all of our qi in the body.  When the liver meridian is stuck due to stress, we literally feel “stuck” in life.  This leads to frustration, lack of motivation, and a general feeling of depression or hopelessness.   A thriving liver meridian and organ helps propel our personal growth, gives us a sense of direction, and contributes to our ability to live a life that’s filled with purpose and depth.

The Spleen Meridian & Organ
One of the many varied functions of the Spleen meridian is to house our thoughts.  When the spleen qi is deficient we tend to over think, ruminate, and worry obsessively.   As these thought patterns become chronic, the spleen qi becomes increasingly deficient.  Unexplained anxiety, OCD, insomnia, stomach upset, poor nutrient absorption, fatigue, and sugar addictions are all tied to deficient spleen qi.   When the spleen is functioning optimally we feel full of energy, choose wholesome and nourishing foods, are fairly stress free, calm, and happy.

Acupuncturists work by choosing specific therapeutic acupuncture points on these meridians to bring a harmonious balance to these organs/meridians.  There is a diverse range and response to acupuncture, people often notice a difference in a short amount of time with a consistent course of treatments.  Let acupuncture help transform your life!

Written by,

Shannon Gyles MSOM CA

Featured in Natures Pathways


How to cultivate self love and deep health through honoring your bodies need for rest and rejuvenation

As a culture we are so incredibly busy with our to do lists, tasks, raising children, school, work, managing relationships, the list could go on and on.  Being a society of “doers” has permeated us collectively with health epidemics left and right.  It affects all people across the board, it doesn’t matter what your gender, race, or personal roles and or obligations are in life.  We go at a speed that our bodies can’t assimilate and therefore do not have the opportunity to rest and repair.   Through all this DOING we can become depleted, fatigued, irritable, anxious, depressed and much more.

Our body is its own organism with its own intelligence and life force.  It has such profound ways of communicating with us, if we choose to hear its messages we can achieve optimal health, greater peace, live the life of our dreams, and cultivate deeper relationships in our lives.   Through developing inner stillness and truly hearing our body’s wisdom, we are able get to the heart of what we want for ourselves and our bodies.

Here are some easy steps to help you on your path to tapping in to the endless resources and insight that our body’s wisdom provides.

Health and wellness is a journey not a destination:

Regardless of our present state of health, making a conscious choice to look at our own personal health as an ever unfolding experience and process.   This allows us to be in the present and provides acceptance.  This helps propel us to strive daily to listen to what our body needs, as our needs are always changing and evolving moment to moment.

Tap into your TRUE desires:

Sometimes we think our desires are so out of reach or that we know what our true desires are.  But, it isn’t until you dedicate spending a few moments each day getting crystal clear about what you choose to have in your life that you are able to manifest the life of your dreams.  Grab of cup of tea, get comfy, clear your mind of any chatter, and see what comes up, and visualize yourself doing those things.  Notice how happy, inspired, light up and motivated you feel in that sacred space of envisioning the life of your dreams.  Do not let any logical or rational thinking obstruct this process, as it hinders our ability to make these things happen.  Through time you will see the results and you will truly know this is the vision of your future.

Say yes to yourself:

Setting boundaries and being clear about how many obligations and activities you can handle is essential to your own personal well being.  In doing this, you are actually doing what is best for everyone involved.  By choosing your own personal desires you will have more energy and time for your loved ones.

Create success daily through choosing a path that provides transcendence, inspiration, and ease for your future decisions:

Create choices consciously and daily that provide success for you in the future.  Every decision you make will impact your next decision. Choosing to eat healthy foods, take your supplements, speak your truth, rest, or saying no to someone will create an up word spiral that will make each and every future decision easier.  One bad choice can easily lead to a downwards spiral for a day, months, or years.  This is no way is about creating judgment when you make a decision that is not ideal.   Just watch your decisions and see how they impact your upcoming decisions.  This watchful approach will help you to keep on the path of authenticity and will help halt self sabotaging patterns.

Written by Shannon Gyles

Acupuncturist & Chinese Herabalist

Tips for Healthy Skin

“If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” – Roald Dahl

Skin is so much more than just a pretty face.  It is your body’s largest organ and it works very hard to help us with temperature regulation, toxin elimination and many other functions for living.  Here are a few tips to help keep it healthy.

Start with a healthy diet.  Eat organic whenever possible and always include fruits and vegetables with every meal.  Foods such as nuts, berries, seeds, citrus foods, dark leafy greens, fish, red wine and green tea all contain antioxidants which will help reduce harmful inflammation. A high sugar diet can also age cells dramatically.

Avoid processed foods and artificial anything! Another major culprit for skin irritation is synthetic fragrances in laundry soaps and fabric softeners and personal care products.  Use products that are unscented or scented only with essential oils whenever possible.

Be sure to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water each day.  For example, if you weigh 150 lbs. you should aim for 75 ounces of water daily.  Herbal teas can also count towards your daily goals of hydration.  Omega 3s boost your anti-inflammatory efforts whether taken in supplement form or just increasing your intake of foods high in them.  They also help reduce the symptoms of eczema and severely dry skin. Stress is a huge contributor to aging of the skin and the whole body.  Take a time out from electronics daily and be sure to get enjoyable exercise whenever you can.  Massages and facials are great stress relieving tools also! For skin care products use organic ingredients as much as possible and don’t forget to exfoliate.  It’s always a good idea to cleanse your face in the evening to remove the day’s sweat and pollution accumulation.  Plain sugar can be used in the shower once or twice a week to exfoliate your whole body.  The easiest way to use it is to lather up and then grab handfuls of sugar and apply to your skin in a circular motion. Then just rinse it away and be sure to moisturize when you are finished.  Exfoliating not only helps remove dull, flaky skin it also helps your moisturizer penetrate better and work more effectively. There are so many different opinions regarding sun screen.  Vitamin D we synthesize from sunlight is absolutely necessary for whole body health but please protect your skin during the peak hours of exposure between 10 am and 2 pm. Mineral powder sunscreens are a nice option as they reflect the sun’s rays off the skin and are available chemical free. There are also many newer zinc oxide options which are not as obviously white as the ones from the 80’s, A.K.A the white stripe down the nose.  Be sure to protect those out of the way body parts such as the ears, part in the hair, and back of the neck.

For more recommendations on skin care for your specific skin type, please see your esthetician, dermatologist, or other skincare professional. Hopefully these tips will get you started on your path to healthy glowing skin!

The Chemical Skin

It’s no surprise that our society has its share of obstacles. One of them is the deregulation (or never having any) of skin care and cosmetic products. Here is a wonderful video that will help you be more aware about what is absorbed into the largest organ in the body, the skin. Take some time and enjoy!

Fairly Foul