October 31, 2013 § Leave a Comment
More and more studies about manual therapies are being published however not so many scientific studies have been performed on spa treatments. Spa is often considered more luxury and less therapeutic by the mainstream medical community. However spa treatments can also have therapeutic effects, which a study published this year in the renowned paper, Rheumatology International show. Rheumatology International is an independent journal reflecting worldwide progress in the research, diagnosis and treatment of the various rheumatic diseases.
The researchers studied the effect of spa treatments on ankylosing spondylitis, previously known as Bechterew’s disease. Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the axial skeleton with variable involvement of peripheral joints as well. Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of chronic, inflammatory arthritis and immune mechanisms are probably involved. It mainly affects the spine and the sacroiliac joint in the pelvis. There is no cure for Ankylosing spondylitis as far as the medical establishment know.
Thirty Ankylosing spondylitis patients attending the Rheumatology Unit of the University of Padova in Italy being treated with TNF inhibitors for at least 3 months were randomized: 15 were prescribed 10 sessions of spa therapy (mud packs and thermal baths) and rehabilitation (exercises in a thermal pool) and the other 15 were considered controls so they did not receive any spa therapy or exercise in a thermal pool. The patients in both groups had been receiving anti-TNF agents for at least three months.
The outcome measures utilized several index for Ankylosing spondylitis and the evaluations were performed in all patients at the entry to the study, at the end of the spa treatment, and after 3 and 6 months. Most of the evaluation indices were significantly improved at the end of the spa treatment, as well as at the 3 and 6 months follow-up assessments. No significant alterations in the evaluation indices were found in the control group, that is, they did not get better scores in the Ankylosing spondylitis index.
The result: “Combined spa therapy and rehabilitation caused a clear, long-term clinical improvement in Ankylosing spondylitis patients being treated with TNF inhibitors. Thermal treatment was found to be well tolerated and none of the patients had disease relapse.”
So next time you go to the spa for a luxury treatment you will probably get some therapeutic medicinal positive side effects as a bonus.
Axial skeleton: the bones along the central axis of an organism: the skull bones, the ossicles of the middle ear, the hyoid bone of the throat, the rib cage, sternum and the vertebral column.)
Sacroiliac joint: Joint between the sacrum and the ileum in the pelvis.
TNF inhibitors: Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) promotes an inflammatory response in the body, associated with autoimmune disorders. TNF inhibitors blocks this response but these drugs have severe side effect.
October 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Talking about trends, we have seen many healthy and sustainable trends during the past years that have gone from “trends” to “lifestyle choices”, and we often refer to the generation called “G”.
Generation G consists of people who are environmentally conscious, love Mother Earth, want to stay “clean” inside and outside, and chose to live more consciously due to the many problems that the materialistic lifestyle has been bringing. Gen G is all about generosity, giving, compassion and sharing. A person who has made a decision in life – to make a difference! A person who makes active choices.
This has influenced many of us to search for ways to contribute and help and we really need to “do something” to compensate for the life we are living, through volunteering work or donating blood etc. A few years ago, the buzzword “Random Act of Kindness” (R.A.K) got a lot of attention and was a huge trend for global marketers and brand consultants. Focusing a lot in digital marketing and social media this act of kindness have been integrated in many organizations and strategies, even if it has not the same attention today as back in 2011. Even though this way of taking action has a kind and great intention, it is also as a business strategy (which means earn more money.)
But as we live in an unsteady world, it often brings forward the true and instinctively good in people. A great example of this is Hannah Brencher (24) from New York that one day just decided to write a letter to a stranger on the train that looked miserable. She continued to leave letters like that on the bus, the library, the café and so on all over New York City. One year and 400 letters later she started the organization “Write more love letters” that today have 20,000 individuals across 49 different countries leaving letters and writing emails to strangers in need.
The interesting part of this trend that starts to bloom again in 2013 is that it is spread in younger ages and at a personal stage in social media, which is in great need in the digital world that often is quite rough, honest and mean. It is again trendy to be kind, both to your friends, but also strangers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
All these ideas, actions and efforts (like R.A.K) are truly lovely but sometimes they make me a bit confused. I believe kindness is a natural possession for all of us, a part of us as human beings. To be exact, when someone does something kind towards another, the brain produces dopamine and endorphins, which make you happy. Face-to-face kindness also produces oxytocin, which may lower the blood pressure ad stimulates the nervous system. This is natural. We live for love and happiness. Our vision at Raison d’Etre is to “Light lights” in everyone we meet or touch, and that is a great daily reminder for me to continue to spread love and kindness.
But, are we really so busy in our lives that we only have enough kindness to share with our chosen people? Either what we answer that question with; if kindness really needs systems and this kind of trendy actions and attention, so be it. If this is what it takes, so be it.
Ps. Have you ever written a love letter? It is absolutely magical.
September 30, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Silat is a powerful synthesis of martial art movements and graceful ritual dance, widely practiced in Malaysia. It is an extremely elegant and restrained style of atrial art, putting a premium on self-control and discipline before violence. Combining breath, movement and energy techniques with self-awareness and empowerment.
According to Silat culture, the energetic body consists of connecting circles called chakra (in Malay spelled cakra or cakera). The chakra’s energy rotates outwards along diagonal lines. Energy that emits outwards from the center line is defensive while offensive energy moves inwards from the sides of the body. The Silat practioner is aware of this and can harmonize their movements with the chakra, thereby increasing the power and effectiveness of attacks and movements.
I am currently in Malaysia (training therapists) and had the opportunity to visit a Silat master. He had 7 children hat demonstrated the ancient martial art form to us. It was like a clan of children in all sizes and ages standing in front of us. With utter seriousness and pride they demonstrated the “Katas” synchronized with breath. It was a true joy to see.
The Silat master is also a snake master, he had a cobra curled up at the back of the room, we were happy to see that it was encaged and at sleep when visiting. The master showed us three scars where he had been bitten, as when one time, the snake curled up behind his back, probably to get some warmth from the sleeping man. A sudden move in the sleep made the snake bite him and he claimed that he didn’t take any serum to survive the bite; he used Silat breathing techniques, lymphatic kind of massage to get the venom out. I believe him. After that scary story he demonstrated his own snake dance, movements he created after watching how the cobras move before catching their prey.
Eyes focus, spine moving in waves, slowly until reaching out to strike his meal. Very fascinating!
August 28, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The Swedish gymnast Per Henrik Ling is called the “father of Swedish Classic Massage” from when he opened the Royal Gymnasium Institute in Stockholm – 1813, 200 years ago. He developed his own comprehensive system of athleticism and treatments – Swedish gymnastics and massage, to stimulate blood circulation, strengthen the muscles and create a better balance between bones and muscle tissue.
Ling’s system was fast spread over Europe and the popular treatment method was one of the greatest exports from Sweden under the nineteenth century. Students arrived to Sweden from different parts of the world to learn and then started their own practice in their home countries and both the methods and literature was spread early and translated into several languages. Many of the international expressions within manual therapy and massage came from Ling’s followers, such as “medicina gymnastica”, “therapeutic manipulation” and “kinesitherapie”. Note that these were published in the beginning of the nineteenth century, long before the establishment of other western manual therapies (such as osteopathy, chiropractic and orthopedic manual therapy.)
At our LivNordic Spa in Stockholm, this treatment is of course the most popular one and our Swedish Training Director, Isabella dos Santos, has developed the basic techniques further, to create an exceptional massage – unique for Raison d’Etre and LivNordic.
Swedish Classic Massage (or actually just ‘Classic Massage’ as we say in Sweden) has definitely been a source of inspiration for most of the western massage techniques and is still one of the most popular treatments booked in the world. So, why do not do as we do, go ahead and find a place near to enjoy a Swedish Classic Massage and celebrate the 200 years anniversary with us!
August 8, 2013 § 2 Comments
We can’t deny that religious and spiritual beliefs are the foundation of, if not all then most cultures on this planet. There is something about religion or spirituality that resonates with us at a level that goes beyond concept, to how we experience this world – consciously or unconsciously.
Why do they have such a hold over us? In times of stress or danger we are inadvertently drawn to seek some higher power to help us out – be it God or Mummy. And when we do feel those moments of spontaneous gratitude, we still need something to focus it on.
Next time you are at a friend’s home, take a look around to see if you can’t find something that smacks of an altar – even if they don’t think it is. A photo frame positioned in a place of honour, a small group of items, lovingly placed in a special space, a funky pink plastic Buddha statue sitting on a window still.
So, what is the one thing that all religions, spiritual and philosophical, even some psychological, theories and beliefs have in common?
All are founded on a trinity. Buddha, Dharma & Sangha; God, Son and Holy Spirit; Mind, Body, Spirit; Osiris, Isis, Horus; Light, Truth, Path…… in fact we would probably find that most things that have some kind of power over us, or the power to influence us, will at their heart, be based on a trinity. Because all true trinities express the formula of creation. Being the created and part of creation, it is this formula that is at the centre of who we are. And this formula, when perceived consciously or unconsciously, has the power to touch us deeply, no matter which culture, religious background or belief system we subscribe to. And no matter whether it is presented to us in the context or religion or spirituality or from a cultural or even materialistic point of view. We are creators in our own right and we know it deep down. We are happiest when we are creative. And I’m not only talking about music, painting, arts, but everything that allows us to express ourselves. Think too, that all true creativity is of benefit to others in some way. We can be creative listeners, creative when creating spread-sheets, in the kitchen, the garden …. Everything.
Buddhists believe that all phenomena are an assembly of three dimensions. The outer, the inner and the hidden. Part of the hidden dimension of humankind is the ability to create. And the formula of creation is simple: You have a source (represented by God, Buddha, Spirit, Soul, Light), you have a dynamic (Truth, Holy Spirit, Mind, Dharma) and you have the manifestation (Christ, Body, Sangha, the Path). Source, Dynamic, Manifestation. Mind, Body, Spirit should really by Spirit, Mind, Body by the way. But then, ego will always put itself first when it can.
So, now we come to mission statements. Aren’t we in effect creating a belief system when we create a mission statement for a spa or a business? We move into the hidden dimension and with that the source of everything that is created or made manifest after. Amanresorts, whom so many have tried to copy, have at its heart a very powerful mission statement based on three simple values. Unfortunately it’s a secret, which makes it all the more powerful. But it works. However, most people attempt to copy the manifestation, rather then understand the source and so any attempt to copy becomes just that, a copy.
But when you truly understand the hidden aspect of a thing, the essence, the source, in that moment you make it your own. And in that moment it becomes unique.
I was recently working on a spa, which had as its root the value: ‘to nourish’. It works on so many different levels. The design should nourish the guest through the spa journey. We will nourish our staff, to ensure they can preform to the best of their abilities. The spa structure should nourish its environment, rather than being in resistance to it. Add the other two values – ‘to sustain’ and ‘to connect’ and you have a beautiful trinity. One that everybody was able to understand and able to connect to. Whether it was the architects or designers, management, staff, shareholders everybody was able to understand – or was guided to understand – what their role was in the fulfilment of this mission statement for this particular spa.
To nourish, to sustain and to connect become the spa’s mantra, it’s unique aspect as each part of the puzzle fell into place around it. It become a guide and if up-held, will give a simple elegance to the spa as a whole. Everything on some level will be an expression of this trinity and so, everything not only has a place, but harmonizes with everything else, complements it, supports it.
To create a truly an exceptional mission statement is to quite simply find the essence of what is being created. And once you have that, miracles will happen. When you find the essence, you find the flow. The deeper you move into it, the more powerful it becomes. It will influence the kind of people you hire to take care of the spa. It will help you to decide which products to use, which colours to choose, where to place something in the room. And once it is done, people will walk through the spa, feeling that you have created something truly miraculous. Even it if is just a hut on a beach.
Lastly, how do we find our essence, our trinity? It’s actually quite simple. We naturally tend to express it – usually unconsciously. We might pick an image, a logo, to represent the spa, which when contemplated reveals the trinity to us. We might, when reading everything we have written about the spa, keep seeing certain values popping up again and again. Or the name that was chosen, might actually represent the hidden aspect of what we are trying to create. Often it is the most obvious, which suddenly becomes the deepest.
And if it is not obvious because you have been looking at it for too long, then ask. Throw the question out into the universe, sit back, allow yourself to become still and receptive, add a little patience, and I promise you – the answer will come. It always does.
July 22, 2013 § 3 Comments
Just visited Thailand and had the good fortune to meet and have several treatments sessions with Mr Jaruun – as it says on his uniform Number 1 Thai Massage therapist.
The 74 year old man have been giving Thai-massage for 40 years and have developed his own style of practice
His session can very well turn into 3 hours sessions, because that is how long it takes to really work in detail on the whole body.
First time meeting him he instructs me proudly that his massages are long and very different from the common Thai massage you can find at the beach or at the massage parlors along then main streets of every tourist city in Thailand.
And….he was very right, he works soft with his palms along the Sen lines, like he is opening the pathways and also preparing my body softly for the soft stretches that will follow.
Mr Jaruun always take 3 clients a day, not more, not less and when I ask him if he gets tired he says: “ it is important to breath out giving a stroke or when giving pressure.
He also very much uses his own body weight, rocking his body from side to side, distributing his weight gradually and gently into my body.
He take his time working up and down my spine using palms, elbows, feet and knees and then with a gentle stretch – like a slow Yoga posture he stretches my back and I can feel all my cervical vertebrae silent, smoothly realigning and the stiffness that had kept my head from turning without hesitation is gone.
Ending the session Mr Jaruun invites me to sit opposite to him and he recites a prayer in Thai and then spontaneously from his heart a translation in English where he simply and lovingly asks for health, balance and that harmony will be present in my life.
Rooted in the Indian Ayurvedic medical practice, Thai Massage is one of many forms of Oriental bodywork based on energy balance theory of health and healing.
The Chinese system of acupressure is an obvious influence. Thai massage focuses on the ten major sen lines by palming and thumbing along these energy pathways.
According to this theory, the human body contains a field of energy within it composed of 72,000 sen lines, ten of which hold top priority.
The Chinese meridian theory calls this energy “Qi” and the Indian Ayurvedic system of nadis refers to it as “prana”. It is believed that blockages in the flow of this energy manifest in discomfort, disease and pain.
Most ailments then are the result of an imbalance in these meridians, whereas free flow along the sen lines leads one to feel energetic, relaxed and free from stiffness and pain. Working pressure points along the sen lines releases blockages of energy and increases energy flow, thereby helping to restore balance, the key to good health. Well-being can be restored and maintained by rhythmically working along the ten sen or vital energy conduits.
This sacred philosophy was taken directly from the teachings of Yoga. Thai Massage is very rhythmic and meditative, enabling both the client and the practitioner to reach a deeper level of consciousness.
June 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Today the market has a wide selection of services and products since and many companies sales strategy is: pick yourself. Your daily routines includes a never ending amount of choices, everything from choosing what kind of coffee to buy; to what kind of milk to what kind of cup.
Even if almost all people find the wide selection as something positive this is becoming a stress factor in the modern society. Instead of freedom of choice it becomes a loss of time. Even if you save 20 Euros when selecting mobile operator you feel the loss of the several hours you spent on making your decision. And when your choice is made, you still compare with your neighbor to find out if you made the right one and often you get disappointed anyway.
Many people find it time-consuming and tiresome to collect all info needed to make a wise decision. What happens is that we just pick something and not really base our choice on anything particular other than our guts. Daniel Kahneman describes this in “Thinking, fast and slow” as your automatic thinking (System 1) that makes you act fast but sometimes foolish. He describes our intelligence as not suited for the modern life full of selection and this unfortunately leads to many mistakes and unwise decisions based on intuition.
But something is happening! The “non-selection” is starting to becom e a trend and since a couple of years ago services have shown up that helps you with your decision. Personal shoppers (not only for fashion, now also for food), all-inclusive hotels, sites such as Price runner is a respond to this phenomena. People want someone else to make their choices. But if the services offering “non-selection” just increases then the questions remains: who do we pick to choose for us? When do we still value the freedom of choice?