This past weekend, from Saturday to Sunday, I attended a self-care escape hosted by Graceful Healing Retreat. The term “self-care” is ubiquitous! It is mostly used to describe a number of band-aid remedies for stressful lifestyles including: applying face masks, drinking wine, and binge watching Netflix. I’m guilty of succumbing to this reductionist approach and proclaiming that anything that comes in a pretty package is self-care.
However, true self-care is about taking proactive measures towards protecting one’s well-being. For me it requires taking the pulse of my mental, emotional, and physical health and making the necessary adjustments. The Graceful Healing Retreat, hosted by Marlana White and Camille Davis from Montage PR, provided the prime opportunity to do just that!
I indulged in a number of unique healing experiences including: an iridology screening, Ayurvedic assessment, emotional freedom technique, and a tarot card reading. A bonus feature included glamping and the option of sleeping in the most posh tent. I really tried it for a bit, but your girl was too cold and I ran inside.
Most of these treatments were new to me, but they each helped me discover more about myself. Plus, I am open to trying anything at least once as evidenced below regardless of how “alternative” it sounds. Keep reading to learn about my experiences!
What is it?
Iridology is the science of studying the human body through the iris. Specifically, the patterns, colors, and other properties of the iris contain information about an individuals general health. Practitioners believe that each organ in the body has a corresponding region in the iris. Following this line of reasoning, if there is a change to the functioning of these organs, the deviation will be reflected in the iris.
Tools of the trade include cameras and flashlights to examine the iris for the purpose of noting changes. The results are then compared with an iris chart, which creates zones within the iris to correlate with different regions in the body.
Dr. Alison Parker was my iridologist, and she is also a medical practitioner, chiropractor, physical therapist, and community healer. She also holds certifications in reflexology, reiki, massage, and acupressure.
During the assessment Dr. Parker took a picture of my left and right eyes. The images were scanned by an application and she proceeded to read the image like an x-ray. Below is a picture of my left eye!
Based on this image (and my right eye, not pictured) she was able to tell me all about my health. For example, she knew that I spent long hours on the computer, was gluten sensitive, and that I suffered from constant fatigue. It is important to note, that prior to revealing this information, she did not ask about any of my past medical history. She also told me about some of my prior medical issues and advised me on potential health risks. The amount of information that she was able to asses based on these images alone was astounding.
Lastly, she told me that I likely have a seafood and dairy sensitivity and suggested that I modify my diet accordingly. I have noticed that my mouth itches sometimes when I eat seafood, but I love it so much that I ignore the warnings. Since I am already gluten-free and my diet is already restrictive, it was hard to hear that I should eliminate additional items. Overall, this was an informative experience and I recommend it! It is not evasive and the more information I have about the state of my health, the better!
Tarot Card Reading
What is it?
Based on my research, there is no uniform consensus on what tarot cards are or the meanings attributed to them. In fact, the answer changes depending on who you ask. Generally, though, tarot cards are used to gain insight about an individuals past, present or future. More information can be found here. One concept that resonated with me is that the cards drawn during a reading can help individuals make positive changes and manifest goals for the future.
The retreat host, Marlana White, read my cards. Marlana is a fifth generation healer, with over 15 years of experience in holistic healing.
She began the tarot session by noting that the death card is not bad! It means the end of something, which put me at ease because that is exactly the card I feared.
Generally, the cards she pulled for me centered on new beginnings, ending an era, and stepping into my power. The reading was surprisingly emotional because many of the cards corroborated internal struggles. Those brightly colored cards revealed so much about me and a stranger (although friendly) was now cognizant of these issues. It was a surprising position to be in.
In hindsight, I likely was not emotionally prepared for the reading. Thus, my recommendation for anyone contemplating a reading is to be mentally and emotionally prepared for a rollercoaster of emotions.
What is it?
The origins of Ayurveda can be traced back to the Vedic culture in India and may be over 5,000 years old! Ayurvedic medicine is centered on the premise that health and wellness are achieved when the mind, body and spirit are balanced. The end goal is to promote healthy habits and not to fight disease. As such, it is considered a preventative approach.
The science of Ayurveda is based on doshas, colloquially referred to as body types. Practitioners consider how to balance the energy of the doshas for each person. In the presence of imbalances, a build-up of toxins occurs, triggering a litany of diseases. In order to prevent diseases, adjustments to an individual’s diet, foods, and lifestyle choices are suggested.
During this session I consulted with Helena Wise, an Ayurveda herbalist and nutritional therapist. We chatted about a number of topics, including:
- Digestive wellness
- Food allergies and intolerance
- Healthy cooking / meal planning
- Diet and detoxification
This session served as a primer on nutrition and I couldn’t get enough! In order to conquer stress and anxiety she suggested I continue to use adaptogens such as ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is favorite of mine because I’ve benefited from its healing properties. Benefits include a boost in brain function and eases symptoms of anxiety.
She also introduced me to Fo-Ti for hair. Specifically, Fo-Ti works to nourish the liver and kidneys in order to create better blood flow to the scalp, and as a result increasing hair growth and color vibrancy.
Lastly, to soothe my way to sleep she suggested I drink a cup of lemon verbena tea with nutmeg. I have already incorporated this little ritual into my routine!
Emotional Freedom Technique
What is it?
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a form of acupuncture, sans needles, that uses fingertips to stimulate energy points on the body. The belief that negative emotions are disruptions in the body’s energy system is a central tenant of the technique.
Sessions begin by tapping on acupressure meridians to release blockages as well as repeating a series of phrases. Once these blockages are released, the problematic issues dissipate.
For example, a set up phrase includes:
“Even though I have this fear to _________ (e.g. failure) . ..” “I love and accept myself deeply.”
The phrase would be repeated for at least three rounds accompanied by a series of taps along the different meridian points.
EFT is exalted as a effective way of clearing out fears, anxieties, and generally feelings of uneasiness. Once these negative feelings are released the limiting beliefs associated with them also disappear.
Acupuncture without the needles?! Sign me up. My session was led by Dr. Grace McCall (Dr. G), she is a naturopath and trained in EFT. I felt an instant connection with Dr. G and she made me feel at ease immediately. Our conversation went beyond EFT and she asked me about life, career, and goals.
As ridiculous as EFT sounds, I felt deeply connected to this exercise. Repeating the negative thoughts I had about myself and tapping along the different meridian points was cathartic. As I kept repeating the positive phrases I actually believed them and I felt calmer. I went from skeptic to believer. I am already planning on doing another session with Dr. G in the new year!
Overall this past weekend was rejuvenating. Forced to step outside my comfort zone, I ended with a deeper sense of my life and how to improve it.
What do you all think about my 24 hours of self-care?! What practices have you adopted over the years to handle stress?