When Back Pain Strikes

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Our personal amazonite, my go to when I’m in pain!

Mary and I work with clients with back pain on a daily basis, but it really hit home when Mary  “threw her back out”  about month ago.  If you have experienced this, my condolences, it’s a miserable experience that can take a lot of time and patience to recover from. According to some studies it is estimated a whopping 80% of Americans will experience low back pain. (UNC study 2009) And while this ensures job security for Mary and I as massage therapists. It’s miserable for all those who suffer.

There are both physical and emotional (energetic) reasons for back pain.  Pain in general can be highly emotional.  Have you ever broken out in tears over a minor pain and wondered what was wrong with you?  That pain is emotional, and is usually highly irrational!  Pain and depression can also go hand in hand, especially chronic pain. If pain is interfering with your daily life, and your ability to work or have an active life, depression is understandable. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to improve your back health without surgery.

So let’s just handle the physical back pain for the moment, since that one quite relevant at the moment.  Why do so many people suffer from back pain? The major one is our lifestyle.  From improper diet, to lack of exercise, and increasingly, poor posture.

Staying properly hydrated is important as the discs between your spine are comprised mainly of water. And if you are dehydrated, your body will take water from where ever it can, and the spine is a high candidate for fluid loss.  With the loss of fluids you start to see disc compression as well as other signs of wear and tear on the spine.

Posture! This is where we feel like a broken record, it so extremely important! So many 2146of us sit, whether at a desk or in a vehicle, we sit a lot.  That’s why there is such a huge movement to standing desks, or desks with a slow moving treadmill.  Sitting is bad for us!  Sitting improperly can put a huge strain on our low back.  Slouching while sitting can weaken the core muscles and put excessive strain on the lumbar spine. When sitting, you should always remember to put your behind, behind you.  You should be sitting more on your pelvic bones, you know you are sitting correctly when your back is curved inward not rounded out like the picture.

If you need to, a sitting aid like the backjoy can improve your posture. (this is not a paid endorsement in any way) I also found that moving the seat in my car slightly forward and more upright has made a vast improvement for my back and shoulder pain (We’ll explore shoulders another time!)

Exercise is equally important for back health.  Sitting weakens our core strength and activities like Belly Dancing, Yoga, Pilates and strength training all can improve core health.  If you have had a recent back injury or relapse, please consult with a Doctor before starting any exercise program.  Physical therapy or private sessions with a trainer/instructor might be the best path for you. Here are some exercises to get you started. Even if all you can manage is a 15-20 minute walk, it will get you moving in the right direction.

Of course we use crystals to to help aid through pain.  Citrine, rutilated quartz,

Blue Amazonite Crystal Duo
Rough Amazonite

amazonite, malachite can all aid with pain relief. Amazonite aids with muscle cramps and spasms.  It also helps to balance the emotions and reduce the feeling of fatigue, aiding with the emotional components of pain.

Rutilated Quartz works directly with the body’s nervous system.

Glistening Rutilated Quartz Point
Rutilated Quartz

Rutilated quartz has a strong electromagnetic energy and stimulates flow through your spinal cord and balances your electromagnetic system. This helps to alleviate pain and numbness while aiding cellular regeneration.

Earlier I mentioned the emotional component of back pain which can directly tie into insecurities, either professionally or personally.    Traditionally back pain is associated with Root Chakra and and to some extent sacral chakras.  These are the core of the energy systems that make us who we are.  For now, we are going to focus on the root chakra.

Root Chakra – This chakras mantra is All is one. It is the Tribal Chakra. Here we must honor our physical and familial bonds. More importantly this is also where we develop a personal code of honor. “Thich Nhat Hanh” = we “inter-are”. Violating these bonds (like considering being different = being less) creates conflict in our spirit & body. Issues in the root chakra can lead to dysfunctions such as:

  • Chronic lower back pain
  • Sciatica
  • Ability to stand up for ones self
  • Not Feeling at home
  • Depression

Crystals and minerals that aid working through root chakra issues are typically red or black.  Some of our favorite are Smoky Quartz, Obsidian, Jasper, and Hematite. Here’s some more information on Smoky Quartz and Hematite

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Smoky Quartz

Smoky Quartz is one of my favorite crystals for the root chakra.  Its energy is gentle yet comforting.  I frequently sleep with smoky quartz, it helps me sleep better.  Smoky quartz can be found in crystals or clusters, but are often found in beautiful complex elestial formation.  These are amazing to use during meditations or journaling helping you to explore the root cause of your issues.

Obsidian comes in many different patterns, from black,

Silver Sheen Obsidian Sphere
Silver Sheen Obsidian

silver sheen like the one pictured, snowflakes, rainbow and mahogany.  Each one has its own unique way of working with the root chakra.  However, obsidian in general is very protective and can help shield you from negative energies.

Please do not use any information in this post as substitute for professional care. If pain persists more than a week or is radiating down your legs possibly including numbness and tingling please see a professional right away.

Please feel free to contact us if you’d like assistance in choosing the right stone or help creating a custom pouch of stones to carry.

Mary and Jennifer co-own The Other Side of the Sun (TOSOTScrystals) an online crystal and mineral store.  We are also Licensed Massage Therapists and Estheticians.  We have been working with the crystal world since 2001.

Working with Depression and Anxiety

The past few months have been quite intense for Mary and I,  and I’m sure for countless others.  The energy has been all over the place, and I think everyone is feeling it more than usual.

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Lepidolite Point

And if you suffer from depression and/or anxiety even the small things can be more challenging. This is something Mary and I battle with on a daily basis.  Finding motivation to keep going can be difficult and there are days where getting out of bed is challenging. I’m sure many of you can relate. Living with High Functioning mental illness is more challenging because people around you often don’t even realize it.  Often they just have a hard time understanding this truth, because on the surface, you have it all together.  It’s hidden, and those of us able to function have developed coping mechanisms so others can’t see it.   But let’s back track for a moment and define depression and anxiety.

Depression:

feelings of severe despondency and dejection.
“self-doubt creeps in and that swiftly turns to depression”
 WebMD says “It’s natural to feel down sometimes, but if that low mood lingers day after day, it could signal depression. Major depression is an episode of sadness or apathy along with other symptoms that lasts at least two consecutive weeks and is severe enough to interrupt daily activities. Depression is not a sign of weakness or a negative personality. It is a major public health problem and a treatable medical condition.”
It’s estimated that over 19 Million people in the US suffer from depression.  The actual numbers could be higher.
Anxiety:
A mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities.
Examples of anxiety disorders include panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Symptoms include stress that’s out of proportion to the impact of the event, inability to set aside a worry, and restlessness.

Here’s an article on The Mighty that outlines how anxiety feels.

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Labradorite freeform

My personal history of anxiety really kicked into high gear when I started college.  If it wasn’t for a long range walkie-talkie and following my dad for most of my commute, I don’t know how I would have made it to class every day. On days I didn’t follow him, Mary and I traveled together.  Staying accountable to someone else helped to get me out of the house.  It wasn’t a perfect system, but it worked most of the time.

These days my anxiety often appears in the form of procrastination, and lack of time keeping.  Denial that I need to leave the house leaves getting ready to the last moment.  There have been periods that I have to have alarms for everything, reminding me to get dressed, it’s almost time to leave, time to leave, and crap you are going to be late if you don’t leave RIGHT NOW!  However, I have problems in crowds and social settings also. I try to go to stores during slow times, if it’s too crowded I get overwhelmed and can’t focus.

An inability to function can often lead right to depression, of feeling like I’m not enough, I’m not good enough. I’m not adult enough.  There are times I feel like there is no hope and no point.  Why, I ask all the time. Does it matter?  I don’t make a difference.   The reality is none of those are true, but in the dark times there is hardly rationalizing these feelings.  Battling these emotions on a daily basis, I’m frequently exhausted.

I know I’m not alone. Here’s an article from Huffington Post:

So, what do we do about it?  First, be gentle with yourself.  Remind yourself often that you are worthy, lovable, and capable.  Set reminders on your phone, do daily affirmations, stick post it notes in places.  Reach out to your friends. Take time for yourself.  The pace of our society is quite insane.  We get less time off than others around the world, with many of us accruing vacation we feel we don’t have time (or deserve) to take. We feel that there is so much we have to pack into a day, its just not possible.  So the laundry doesn’t get folded, dusting wait another week.  Is it really important?  It’s okay to let some things slide.

Mary and I use crystals as a part of our way of dealing with anxiety and depression. In fact these anxiety was a a huge reason why we started TOSOTS.  When Mary was at her worst with severe agoraphobia (basically fear of going outside), selling crystals was her primary job as something positive should could do working mainly from home.

 

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Stunning natural color citrine point.

There are a dizzying array of crystals and minerals. Many work towards lots of different goals.  But here’s our go to “Support Stones” and a brief description on why we use them. This by no means a complete list, but a good start. (Please do not stop any medications without consulting your medical professional.  Crystal therapy is not meant to replace any current treatment plans.)

Citrine

Labradorite

Lepidolite or Lithium in Quartz

Tourmaline

Jade

Smoky Quartz

Those of you who know us, labradorite and citrine is one of our favorite combinations. These are our go to anxiety combination.  Labradorite brings balance and helps to reduce negative thought patterns.  It is emotionally soothing. Rolling the stone around while focusing on the flash and patterns of colors helps to still the mind. Citrine boost self confidence and balances the mind-body connection as it works solar plexus and crown.  Hold citrine to your solar plexus, located at the base of the stern where the rib meet, breathe in while visualizing white light energy infusing your body.  Breathe out negativity.

Lepidolite and Lithium in quartz play a dual role with the lithium content in the stones helps to counter depression and anxiety.  Lithium in quartz  also a strong heart stone that brings emotional peace.  Lepidolite works more on the physical aspects of the body, while the lithium in quartz works more with the emotional side.

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Smoky Quartz

When working with stones for depression, it is necessary to feel grounded, protected and have stones that feed your energy.  Smoky quartz fits the bill on all levels, its energy is rich and warm.  Smoky quartz brings joy, it grounds but doesn’t make you feel heavy, it lifts the spirit.  Its energy gives you a sense of safety and comfort.  Really everyone can benefit from Smoky Quartz! I often sleep with smoky quartz under my pillow or grasped in my hand.  It is always on my nightstand.

 

Tourmaline is another of our favorites, it comes in a huge array of colors.  But pink, green, black, and blue are most common. Black tourmaline is very protective, helping to ward of negativity and to some degree negative people.  Tourmaline feeds your energy. And for this the heart chakra colors of pink and green work best.  They help to bring joy and foster self-worth.  Their energy is very easy to work with.

Jade also comes in several colors, but for this, green is the go to color.  I prefer the darker shades of green jade. Jade is often associated with abundance and prosperity.  However, Jade is also good for connecting you to the earth energies.  It helps to instill hope and bring greater harmony into your life.

There are many ways to incorporate crystal energies into your life.  Mediation and breathing practices are just one way.  As I mentioned earlier, we often sleep with them, or at least have them at our beside. Carry them in your pockets, wear them as jewelry, tuck them into a sock (smaller the better here, really) or for us ladies, tuck them in your bra. We call it the over the shoulder boulder holder. 😉

Please feel free to contact us if you’d like assistance in choosing the right stone or help creating a custom pouch of stones to carry.

Mary and Jennifer co-own The Other Side of the Sun (TOSOTScrystals) an online crystal and mineral store.  We are also Licensed Massage Therapists and Estheticians.  We have been working with the crystal world since 2001.