Things I Learned From a Brain Tumor

In April of 2013 it was discovered that I had a benign brain tumor which was affecting my vision, and if left alone, would continue to grow, affecting other brain function as well.  I had surgery that June to remove the safely operable portion.  I was given time to recover, then received the news that I would have to undergo 28 radiation treatments in September and October of that year to inactivate the remaining tumor.
 
In the early days of recovery after surgery, all light was too bright, sounds were too loud. I couldn’t focus my vision to read, and could only watch TV through one eye, slightly open. I was extremely exhausted, and the pain medication to control the intense headaches was causing very uncomfortable constipation. My amazing parents stayed with our family, as I needed help with everything, including bathing myself.  
 
During that hard time, I wasn’t sure there would be better days. I wondered if I would ever be able to see, to drive a car, to be the wife and mother that I had been, to do the work that I loved so much. I had defined myself by what I did. I felt good when I could serve and help other people. I loved helping others heal themselves. What if I could no longer do that? I felt so helpless. I asked God: “What is my purpose? I loved what I was doing. What if I can’t do that? What if this is all I can ever do?”
 
When I became too tired to ask questions, an answer came back to me: LOVE.
I heard it and felt it in my bones. A sense of total peace filled my being.  I was no longer afraid. I was able to let go. No matter what happened to me, I could still love. I could pray for people. I could listen to people. I could smile and let God’s love and light flow through me. I could gratefully accept others’ love and care for me.  That’s all that mattered.

Letting go of the feeling that we are (or need to be) independent and in control is very freeing.  It is already okay, just Being.  If we live our lives in the moment, even if things aren’t “perfect” or how we think they should be; if we choose to let go and be still, we can find a space filled with peace, connection, and clarity. 

I am grateful that I am doing very well 7 years later, but I hope I never forget the many lessons from that experience. Even though part of my brain was removed, I came out much wiser. We are currently going through a challenge together and yet apart. It’s good to remember that we are never truly alone. My Christian faith, the teachings of all of the healing traditions I have studied, and my own experiences have taught me that we are all connected by love. I am so grateful for that.

I am grateful to know you and have you in my life.
Blessings, love and light,
Shelley

June 2020 Shelley Carpenter, Physical Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher is a practitioner at Ommani. During the COViD pandemic she is offering online yoga classes (https://www.pureenergyyoga.com/monthly-subscription-channel) and in-person Reiki and physical therapy care for persons who are symptom free.  Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

Tap Into Your Sacral Chakra, the Home of Your Unique Creativity-PLAY!

It is a happy talent to know how to play.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct~ Carl Jung

 

This month at home has been a challenging one. We feel the uncertainty of the future.  We may have financial concerns, feel overwhelmed by either being with our family members 24/7 or being alone. As a society, we have been trained to work as much as possible, then to drive our children to countless activities before collapsing at the end of the day. Now the whirlwind of activity has stopped. We are home, with nowhere to go.

We can choose to use this time for our highest good and greatest joy. We still do have things that we need to do. But when we have down time, instead of zoning out, binge-watching TV, worrying or wishing for what we don’t have or what we can’t do, we could PLAY, right here and now.

Play looks different for each of us, but play involves using the imagination. whether it’s creating a comedy routine, singing, dancing, playing an instrument, creating a piece of art, building an object, rearranging the furniture, writing, sewing, knitting…The possibilities are endless!

Play helps us tap into our inner knowing, our intuition, and connects with our sacral chakra.  The Sanskrit name for the sacral chakra is svadhisthana, meaning “dwelling place of the self” or “sweetness”.  This is the place where we experience feelings/emotions, sensation, creativity, movement, pleasure, nurturance of self and others, boundaries, sexuality, fertility, ability to change, passion, excitement.  It is physically located just below the navel.

Water is the element associated with svadhistana chakra. Think about the properties of water: flowing, able to change form, able to create and destroy.  When the sacral center is energetically balanced one is better able to “go with the flow” and to think and act creatively.  Gentle, flowing yoga poses can be helpful in allowing you to tap into the energy of your sacral chakra.  Poses that specifically create comfortable motion in the pelvis are particularly beneficial. 

 

Here’s a short sequence that can be done in your chair or sitting cross-legged on the floor to help you tap into the energy of the sacral chakra:

Seated pelvic rock: Scoot forward on your chair. Feet should remain flat on the floor. This is a small, comfortable motion guided by the breath. Think of the pelvis as a bowl, and you will tilt the bowl forward and back, with the spine coming along for the ride. 

    • Exhale as you shift your weight back toward the tailbone and allow your spine to gently round.

 

  • Inhale as you shift your weight forward toward the front of the pelvis, opening your heart. Repeat several breaths (4-5) within your comfort zone.
  • End in neutral alignment (not slumped, not overarched, just centered over the pelvis).

 

Seated twists with breath: Start in neutral alignment as above. 

  • Inhale and sweep arms overhead
  • Exhale and rotate your spine, lowering arms. 
  • Inhale, arms overhead back to center. 
  • Exhale and twist to the other side as you lower your arms. 

Repeat 2-4 times, keeping spine lifted and heart open 

 Seated arm reach with side bend:  Start in neutral alignment. Place your left hand under the seat of the chair or on the chair leg. Reach right arm up. If comfortable, add a gentle, side-bend toward the left. Breathe gently into the right side of your body for a few breaths.  Release and repeat on the other side. 

I invite you to practice these simple techniques to connect with the beautiful flowing energy of the sacral chakra.  Enjoy!   

Blessings, love and light, 

Shelley

May 2020 Shelley Carpenter, Physical Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher is a practitioner at Ommani who offers group (Tuesday and Wednesdays) and individual therapeutic yoga sessions, physical therapy, and Reiki care. During the COVID stay-at-home period, she is offering online yoga classes (https://www.pureenergyyoga.com/monthly-subscription-channel) and in-person or remote Reiki and in-person physical therapy for persons who are symptom-free.   Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

The Gifts of Thin Places and Times

As I often say in our yoga classes: Nothing is static. Just as our minds and bodies are constantly changing with each breath, so are our lives. When we drop the illusion of being in control and surrender to what is, we open ourselves up to a deeper connection to the Divine and to each other. 

The Irish have a term, thin place, which describes a place where the space between heaven and earth grows thin–where we can feel connected deeply to both. This experience may happen in a sacred site such as a church or labyrinth, or sacred place in nature such as the edge of the ocean or on a mountaintop. I also find that we have thin times, those times in life when we feel more fragile. We feel more connected to the Divine and each other in tragedies, illnesses, deep joys, as well as during major life changes. 

These places and times open us up to our true nature. They offer opportunities to tune in to the whispers of our souls. 

By getting quiet, being present in each moment and kind to yourself during this time of change, you may have more meaningful dreams, feel a stronger flow of energy and intuition, drop into a deeper level of calm and tap into Divine wisdom. You may also feel more creative and open to learning and growth in your daily life. You will become more recepti

As I often say in our yoga classes: Nothing is static. Just as our minds and bodies are constantly changing with each breath, so are our lives. When we drop the illusion of being in control and surrender to what is, we open ourselves up to deeper connection to the Divine and to each other. 

I feel that all of us on earth are experiencing a thin time right now. My prayer is that we will use this time to care for ourselves, to each hear our individual soul whispers and to then use our unique gifts and callings to care for each other and our world. 

I feel honored to be on this journey with you. 

Blessings, love and light, 

Shelley

April 2020 Shelley Carpenter, Physical Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher is a practitioner at Ommani who offers group (Tuesday and Wednesdays) and individual therapeutic yoga sessions, physical therapy, and Reiki care. During the COVID Pandemic she is offering online yoga classes (https://www.pureenergyyoga.com/monthly-subscription-channel) and in-person or remote Reiki and in-person physical therapy for persons who are symptom-free.  Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

 

Feeling Great this Spring!

After a long Wisconsin winter, it’s exciting to feel the warmth of the sun and see new life again!  You probably have many plans for activities this spring. Maybe you enjoy gardening, hiking, bicycling, golfing, water sports, or traveling.  There are things you can do now to make those dreams a reality. 

In my 28 years of practice as a physical therapist, I have found spring to be the most challenging time for people physically.  After many months of increased sitting and decreased activity, joints become stiff, and muscles become tight and weak. When we get our first day of warm weather, our spirits soar, and we spend hours outside doing what we love.  Usually, we don’t realize until it’s too late that we are going to pay for it with pain or injury. This does not have to be the case for you this year.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to allow you to enjoy those activities without pain or strain.  By starting out consciously and wisely, you can continue to enjoy yourself this spring and summer, injury-free.

Warm-up before the activity: 

Gentle, repetitive movements performed before more vigorous activity allow joints to be lubricated and muscles to be more flexible. This allows greater ease during and after activity.

You may want to try this warm-up sequence. If kneeling is uncomfortable, try kneeling on a blanket.

Cat/cow in a comfortable range of motion:

Start on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows, and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor.  Keep motion gentle and comfortable.

  • As you exhale, using your abdominals to assist, curl your tailbone under and round your spine, releasing your neck and head, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position.
  • As you inhale, lift your tailbone, allow your low back to sink, keep energy in your arms and your heart open. Your head is the last thing to follow (gently- no pinching in the neck).  Repeat, linking your movement with breath. (5-8 slow, gentle repetitions)

Alternating arm and leg lifts: Starting in the tabletop position (as above), engage your abdominals, drawing in your belly button toward your spine. Keep your spine neutral, maintaining length in the back of your neck, with eyes looking at the floor/mat. Lift right arm as you slide your left leg back, then lift from the hip while maintaining a neutral spine and pelvis.  Hold and breathe for several seconds. Lower with control and repeat on the other side.

Puppy or Child’s pose (Balasana): Keep knees and hips where they are (puppy), or rock back toward your heels (child).

Rest your forehead on the floor/stacked fists/block to release tension in your neck and back. Breathe gently into the back of your ribs. Feel the back body expanding with each gentle inhale. Feel your body melting and softening with each gentle exhale. Hold for several breaths.

Separating your knees often makes this more comfortable.

Hip extension to open hip: Come back up to hands and knees.  Stretch one leg back and tuck toes under, toes resting on the floor.  You will feel the front of the hip and back of the knee releasing as quadriceps engage for support.  Breathe there for 2-3 breaths, then repeat on the other side. 

Stretch after activity:  These stretches help prevent plantar fasciitis, hip and back pain. 

Wall calf stretch– Place hands on a wall, counter or chair for support.  Legs remain hip-width apart.  

  • Stand with neutral alignment, abdominals engaged to support your spine.
  • Keep one leg close to the wall or chair, and bend the front knee (keeping knee over ankle, not beyond).  
  • Step the other leg straight back, keeping back foot straight ahead. Ground through back heel, keeping back knee straight. You should feel a very gentle stretch in the back calf and most likely in the anterior thigh and hip.  If the stretch is painful or extreme, move the back foot closer to the wall.
  • Keep weight shifted toward the pinkie toe side of the back foot to maintain the arch of the foot.

Hold 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Repeat on each side.

Hamstring stretch at step: Stand at the base of your stairs. Hold rail for balance.  Use good standing alignment with abdominals supporting your spine. Place your heel on either the first or second step.  You should feel a gentle stretch in the hamstrings (back of the leg). If not, move your foot to the next step. Hold and breathe for about 5 slow breaths.

Gradually increase activity and balance activity with rest: 

When increasing activity in the spring, it’s best to vary your position frequently. If you are bending over gardening or biking, frequently stand up straight and gently lean back. The calf stretch is another great way to gently open the hip and relieve back discomfort. Start with short periods of activity with rest periods. Gradually increase as tolerated. Overdoing and then having to recover for several days does not save you time. 

Beginning a yoga practice now will get you ready for this increased activity.  Yoga improves joint mobility and muscle strength and flexibility, as well as posture and body mechanics.  It also is a wonderful stress-reliever and mood-lifter. I would love to assist your smooth transition to an enjoyable spring by having you in one of our group classes (Tuesdays at 9 am or Wednesdays at 6 pm) or through an individual therapeutic yoga session or PT session (by appointment). 

Shelley Carpenter, PT, e-RYT, Reiki Master/Teacher

Mar2020 Shelley Carpenter, Physical Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher is a practitioner at Ommani who offers group (Tuesday and Wednesdays) and individual therapeutic yoga sessions, physical therapy, and Reiki care.  Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

 

Interconnection

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

-Mother Teresa

One of the biggest errors in judgment that we make is that we think we are alone, isolated. In truth we are all connected. Quantum physics has proven that everything that exists is connected by infinite, eternal, unbounded quantum fields, a kind of invisible quilt of energy.

We are all connected because we are all energy. Our interconnection to each other can be thought of as an ocean of energy. If you throw a stone into the ocean, the impact of the stone affects every molecule in that ocean, as one molecule is connected to and influences all others.

People from all cultures and faiths share the understanding that there is a divine presence that lives within each of us and connects us to each other, our creator, and all of creation. As we become silent through meditation, prayer, spending time in nature, practices such as yoga and Reiki, we become blissfully aware of this connection to the Universal energy that creates and sustains life.

As we allow that divine presence within to work through us in each moment, each task, and each encounter, our efforts create ripples of positive change that expand outward in all directions.

I feel very blessed to offer Reiki energy healing sessions, therapeutic yoga sessions and group yoga classes at the Ommani Center.  These practices can help you release physical and emotional stress and reconnect you to your inner light and bliss.  I invite you to schedule a session with me or to join one of our yoga classes.

Blessings, love and light,

Shelley

Dec 2019 Shelley Carpenter, Physical Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher is a practitioner at Ommani who offers group (Tuesday and Wednesdays) and individual therapeutic yoga sessions, physical therapy, and Reiki care.  Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

Practicing Gratitude (with guided meditation)

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity… It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”   ~ Melody Beattie

In November, we talk about gratitude – but so often, we are rushing around, worrying about the details.  We know in our minds that we have much for which to be thankful.  But to be honest, we frequently just feel tired and stressed. 

Gratitude is a practice.  A way of being and experiencing Life.  Gratitude is felt at the heart level, the soul level.  It is powerful and transformative.  And it can change everything in an instant.

It requires us to slow down and really experience our lives.  That may mean intentionally setting down the cell phone or turning off the TV and experiencing the ever-changing beauty of nature.  It might mean taking time to fully connect with a friend or family member and allowing yourself to feel how blessed you are to have someone to love.  It may mean sitting in the doctor’s office or hospital waiting room and being grateful for the gift of life and the abilities you have today.  Even in the midst of life’s toughest challenges, there is opportunity to find gratitude in the lessons we are given.

A great way to start this practice is with a gratitude meditation.  

  • Begin by focusing on your breath, gradually slowing it down.  
  • After a few minutes, bring to mind one thing that you are grateful for in this moment.  This might be a small thing or something huge. You may also think “thank you” and/or lift the gratitude up in prayer. 
  • Give yourself time to feel this gratitude settling into your heart chakra in the center of your chest. Imagine the heart chakra as a sphere of beautiful green light. 
  • The gratitude rests within this sphere of light which radiates in all directions. As you slowly breathe, allow this feeling in your heart to gently expand until it fills your heart space.  
  • Take your time and continue until your heart space overflows with this feeling of gratitude, filling your entire body with light. 
  • Now feel and visualize the light and feeling of gratitude radiating out in all directions.  
  • Gently inhale and exhale gratitude. When your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath, the heart and the feeling of gratitude here and now.  
  • Stay as long as you like. When you are ready, bring awareness back to rest in your heart center. 
  • Carry this feeling in your heart space with you as you move through your day. 

 

Here’s a You Tube link to a brief guided Gratitude Meditation to help you with your practice.
Blessings, love and light,
Shelley

 

Nov2019 Shelley Carpenter, Physical Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher is a practitioner at Ommani who offers group (Tuesday and Wednesdays) and individual therapeutic yoga sessions, physical therapy, and Reiki care.  Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

Get Energized this Spring!

Magic Things

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.   W.B. Yeats

Perception is everything.  A shift of thought, seeing something as if for the first time, becoming still, and paying attention; these are a few ways to change how we experience life.

We sometimes go through life on autopilot, running from one place to another, going along with what “everybody else” is doing or believing, or zoning out to avoid what feels overwhelming to us. We can feel we are on a hamster wheel, getting further behind.  But in reality, there is nowhere to go. You are already here. Right now. In yoga, we use our senses to bring awareness to the present moment. We start by feeling the gift of one breath at a time. We pay attention to the life-giving breath that flows in and out, whether we think about it or not. And, like magic, we can also participate in this breathing process:

Just pause.

Feel your physical body, supported by mother earth.

Feel the natural flow of your breath, just as it is.

Notice the rhythm of the breath.

Feel where each phase of breath begins and ends.

Notice the pause between each phase of breath.

Now, gently lengthen the end of the next inhale.

Gently lengthen the end of the next exhale.

Feel yourself getting into the rhythm of the breath and participating in it.

As the breath slows, appreciate the miracle of each breath.

Appreciate the miracle of life, given one breath at a time.

Life is like the breath. We can just let it happen, or we can treasure it.  We can tune in right where we are to our gut feelings and to the whispers of the soul. As we begin to pay attention, we begin to understand who we are. We begin to notice and use our own unique gifts, talents, and interests that can contribute to the beauty of this world.  This life is a magical opportunity.

We can pay attention to the magic of nature, including the miracle of having this human body.  Begin by appreciating what your physical body can do, even with its limitations.  Feel how it allows you to experience everything in life. It allows you to give a hug, to move, to create, to experience.  

Use your senses today to fully experience everything right where you are.  See the beauty of a flower. Hear the sound of birds chirping. Feel a cool breeze.  Smell your herbal tea. Taste a crisp ripe apple. Really see the people in your life. Listen intently without planning what you will say. These simple shifts are magical.  They make us aware and able to participate in our connection with each other and with all of life.

What magic will you find and create in the world today?

 

Blessings, love and light,

Shelley

 

Oct2018 Shelley Carpenter, Physical Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher is a practitioner at Ommani who offers group (Tuesday and Wednesdays) and individual therapeutic yoga sessions, physical therapy, and Reiki care.  Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

 

Reiki I – November 10th

Reiki (pronounced “ray-key”) is a hands-on energy healing technique for stress-reduction and relaxation.   It promotes the body’s self-healing ability and provides a sense of peace and well-being in mind, body and spirit.  

At the end of this one-day class, you will have the ability to perform Reiki healing for yourself and others.  

You will learn about the history of Reiki, how it works, current research, and gain a basic understanding of the chakras and how they correspond to your health.

You will receive an attunement that allows Reiki energy to flow through you freely, and have the opportunity to practice a self-treatment and a full Reiki session on a partner in class.  

For more information and testimonials, please see PureEnergyYoga.com

Cost: $160.  Call or email Shelley with questions or to register.

The Nature Effect: Mindfulness and Connection

I have found that nothing unites people like being out in nature.

Two years ago, our family took a trip to Olympic National Park, Crater Lake National Park, the Redwoods and many amazing points in between. The breathtaking beauty at each of these locations seemed to soak into our pores. It made us slow down and filled us with awe and reverence.  While we were hiking through the silent redwood forests amidst the giant trees, we encountered other families on the trail. They said “hello” to us with hushed voices as if we were all in a sacred cathedral, which of course, we were.

This summer we took a whirlwind road trip to Niagara Falls.  The city of Niagara, Ontario has casinos interspersed with loud arcades, a wax museum, an amusement park, shops of all kinds, restaurants, and bars. The weather was hot and the streets were packed.  

But when we walked down the hill to see Niagara Falls, we forgot about all of that.

This incredible, powerful and beautiful force of nature made the crowd pause. We all slowed down and were united by our joy and wonder. We were smiling both at our families and each other. There were people of all ages, shapes, colors, and countries.  And we were kind to each other as we shared this beautiful place. 

We gave each other space to enjoy the view at the ledge.  Those enjoying the view spent some time and then politely moved on to another area in order to let the next group have a turn. The mist from the falls cooled our bodies and frazzled psyches and soothed our spirits.

One could gaze at the view and listen to the rush of the falls for hours.  And we did, from every angle: above, below, beside, from the Canadian side and the US side, daytime and the nighttime. It was humbling, exciting and fun.  When encountering the power of the waterfalls I had the similar feeling that I get at the edge of the ocean or in the mountains: feeling small, and at the same time, feeling the oneness and connection with nature, God, and the entire planet.

No matter where we are, we are surrounded by the incredible beauty of nature. In order to cultivate awe, peace, and connection all that is needed is to shift into a state of awareness in the here and now.  Letting go of the remembering, planning, worrying mind and connecting to our senses allows us to be present to what is here, right now. To experience this connection to nature, you don’t have to go further than out your door.

Give these mindful nature experiences a try: Stand outside, look up at the white clouds, blue sky or bright moon and stars; feel the grass or sand beneath your feet; reach out and touch the bark of a tree or a leaf or petal; listen to the wind, moving water, birds, squirrels, frogs. Smell a flower or herb growing in the garden; bite into a just-picked fresh fruit or veggie and truly taste what you are eating.

Enjoy the beauty!

Namaste,

Shelley

If you’d like to schedule a Reiki energy healing session or guidance in an individualized therapeutic home yoga practice, please call The Ommani Center.  If interested in attending a group yoga class, I invite you to drop-in on Tuesdays at 9 am or Wednesdays at 6 pm.

 

August 2018 Shelley Carpenter, Physical Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher is a practitioner at Ommani who offers group (Tuesday and Wednesdays) and individual therapeutic yoga sessions, physical therapy, and Reiki care.  Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.