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Welcome to the Aura Holistic Therapies Blog.

 

A sharing of the feminine through  awarenessness and wellness.

 

 

By Leora Leboff, Oct 10 2016 12:11AM


Ooh, so far, this has been a defining year.


Once I was accepted on to Alexandra Pope's Women's Quest Apprenticeship, it was clear that, life would never quite be the same.


The training, (although seriously, "training" doesn't even begin to describe the experience!) was a series of beautifully crafted processes, transformations and wisdom sharing, such is the like I've never encountered.


Essentially over two separate residential weeks we were invited to truly meet ourselves.


And not just a polite shaking of hands kind of meeting. No, this was getting down and sometimes oh so messy with our psyches. Delving in to the different stages of our lives, from menarche (first period) to menopause and beyond.


All under the immensely skilful and watchful eyes and guidance of Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo-Wurlitzer, who run Red School Online, with the huge hearted Laura Tonello and Laila Torsheim to support. I must acknowledge how the teaching team of women working together was so inspirational; the celebration of each others skills, only lifting each other. All utterly powerful to witness. And how each of our teachers shared their authenticity was deeply moving.


By the end of the two residentials, each of us had relived our experience of menarche, traversed our menstrual cycles in several different forms, gone toe to toe with our inner critic, dreamt in to how we can serve the world, met the future wise woman within us, culminating in a pure celebration of ourselves.


And how we celebrated!


Every exercise was searching and challenging, as was the immensely courageous opening of hearts within the circle of sisters I'm sharing the apprenticeship journey with. We listened to one another's moments of self-awareness, witnessed each others pain, celebrated the emerging joy coming from the healing wisdom, all with such love and compassion. We sang, we danced, we lovingly held space for each other.


My own journey was often painful, but deeply transformational, and allowed me to ease out of the comfiest of comfortable life sofas. In fact, not long after the first residential, with some acknowledgment to where I was standing in my menstrual cycle (my inner summer of ovulation), I found myself calling in to a national radio station to voice my feelings on medication to reverse the menopause. Never done that before! You'll see why this was such a big deal...


...All my life I've had issue with my voice, with projection, with allowing myself to be heard. But even more transformation was to occur. Nearly two years after being gifted a recording studio session by my children, I broke through a whole heap of resistance, started seeing a vocal coach and stepped with confidence in to that recording studio and rocked my way to recording the perfect song choice. It was dedicated to my husband for his daily acceptance of every part of me. I also realised that it was unknowingly a 90s head tip to menstruality!


Please do enjoy the recording of "Bitch", which would not have materialised were it not for sitting in circle with my Women's Quest sisters and teachers.


Well, some real gifts have been borne out of the apprenticeship, so grab these while you're hanging out in this blog post:


1) First is the ever so simple act of introducing cycle awareness in to your life. That's menstrual cycle awareneness in your menstruating years, or with the lunar cycle, if you're post menopause, breast feeding, not having menstrual cycles, or post hysterectomy.

Keeping a track of your feelings along with your cycle can be a treasure trove. To help you get started, download your chart here.


2) If you are following a menstrual cycle, really listen to what your body, emotions and psyche are telling you in the different inner seasons (more info on these in number 5). And for women journeying the menopause, the listening is paramount. What is your body asking you to do in this moment? What are your emotions saying to you? What is your intuition nudging you to do (listen ever so carefully to your intuition in your inner winter, especially when you are bleeding, the potential for insight can be staggering).


3) Once you've listened, then HEAR, I mean really hear what your needs are, this is as a means to truly support yourself. How can those needs be met? What do you need to do or perhaps more importantly, NOT do.


4) Self-care is key. Establish practices that feed you. This could be: self-care massage, yoga, meditation, your favourite exercise class, receiving a massage, meeting friends, spending time in mama nature, bringing health giving foods in to your life...the list is personal and endless. And if these practices are moved through with awareness as to how they nourish you, your self-care box is firmly ticked.


5) Intertwined with 2-4 is introducing the concept of the 1% in to your life. As Alexandra Pope also calls it, the homeopathic dose. Devoting time to self-care is deeply important, but when the time and frankly the inclination is just not there, what to do then? The 1% is a balm to your needs. What little kindnesses can you show yourself?


Here are a few ideas, working around the inner seasons of the menstrual cycle:


*That moment of slowing your step, if you can't fully stop, while you're bleeding in your inner winter.

*That moment of taking a breath when your inner critic speaks up in your inner autumnal pre-menstruum; maybe texting a friend who always lifts you when you're down.

*That social event you duck out of at the last minute while you're in your super sexy, inner summer, ovulation phase. Because actually its the 4th night on the trot you've gone out and suddenly you no longer feel super sexy and if you go there's the very real chance of an energy slump that might really floor you - and...take a breath!

*That moment you bite your tongue, even though you want to tell everyone about your latest, greatest innovative idea in exciting, but still quite vulnerable, pre-ovulatory, inner spring. Knowing actually, its too early to share and any criticism might squash your precious idea shoots.


Find your own 1%s, your own small kindnesses that will ease unease.


I adore the simplicity, that the answers lie within you. All in your cycle guiding you to when and how to engage in the self-care, when to reach for a choco endorphin release, shift your exercise from Insanity to pleasurable yoga, make that presentation, write that blog post...yes my loves, it's all there in cycle awareness.


If you would like to explore these gifts and possibilities of your menstrual cycle or menopause journey, you have options:


*There are workshops to sign up for, check out our latest Love Your Belly offering here

*Opportunities for embodying these gifts with Abdominal and Fertility Massage,

*Simply having a consultation to explore how you can introduce menstrual cycle or menopause awareness as a support to your life. You can reach me at Leora@auraholistictherapies.com

*The Red School Online programme, which I can't recommend enough, leads you on your own menstruality journey with Alexandra and Sjanie.


With heartfelt thanks and love to Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo-Wurlitzer and fellow sisters who sat in circle at the Apprenticeship.


Blessings x





By Leora Leboff, Jun 20 2016 07:16PM





Today we are in for a celestial treat.


At summer solstice we are also being treated to a Strawberry Moon, a full moon given it’s name by Native American tribes to mark the beginning of the gathering of ripe strawberries (our local Pick Your Own would also agree it’s time!). Despite being rained on as though it was the coming of Armageddon this morning; I can now look out of my office window - the birds are singing, the trees are abundant with lush green leaves and the blue sky is radiant.


We enter summer here in the northern hemisphere, when Mama Earth is at her most fertile. As you read this, be aware of where you are in your menstrual cycle. Are you in your ovulatory or your internal summer season? How does it feel to be in synch with the great Mama? Or are you menstruating, your internal winter, perhaps feeling at odds with the expansiveness of summer?


If you are trying to conceive, it’s a beautiful night to make love, under the full Strawberry Moon.


To support this celestial coupling and this most fertile of seasons, here are three summery and sensual essential oils you might enjoy:


If you’re looking for an aphrodisiac, Jasmine (Jasminum officinalis, Jasmine grandiflorum) may be your first choice. Deeply sensual, warm, rich, sweet and floral in aroma. It’s the oil of seduction, but as Gabriel Mojay (Gabrial Mojay, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit) writes, it’s more than simply a sexual stimulant: “Whenever fear and vulnerability, or anxiety and depression cuts us off from our ability to share physical pleasure and affection, jasmine oil can support, reassure, and delight. Its voluptuously warm, joyous fragrance allows the heart to flow again through the river of senses”.



Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata), another aphrodisiac which “…shields and guides the passion of love and true emotion, whilst allowing a tender awakening of that sensual part of our being and spirit which can embrace all things.” Valerie Worwood’s words in The Fragrant Heavens reflect the sweet fervour Ylang Ylang can elicit. There’s a playfulness about this floral, softly balsamic and slightly heady oil. Where there is a lack of ardour, Ylang Ylang will ease the fear and anxiety and allow sexuality and sensuality to flourish with just a touch of euphoria.


If the rose is “the queen of flowers” (Greek poet Sappho), the damask rose of Bulgaria, must be the empress of roses. The damask rose distilled to produce Rose Otto (Rosa damascena), has an exquisiteness that is only matched by it’s value. For the 50 rose heads required to produce just one drop of oil; that it requires harvesting early in the morning and that there are only 20-40 days of the year when the rose heads can be picked, the result is a highly expensive essential oil. If you are out-priced by the oil, buying it in a dilution of jojoba oil allows affordability.


The aroma oil of rose otto is deeply feminine, softly sweet, slightly spicy and gently floral. It is the aromatic epitome of love. It is an oil that supports the heart, whether in grief or in the throws of emotion, being holding and comforting. It’s also a tonic for the womb and sacral chakra. Descibed as “a gentle aphrodisiac which helps to spiritualise sexual relationships” (P Davis, Subtle Aromatherapy).


Yes, we’re being gifted a strawberry moon at summer solstice, so make love tonight in it’s superlunary glory, and remember to leave the curtains open, letting mama moon’s light in.


Enjoy the oils I’ve described above, maybe tonight, maybe for the next full moon! Consider asking an aromatherapist to make up a blend for you to use, as there’s nothing more sensual than giving and receiving a massage. Think of the magic that could be created?


Blessings.

x









By Leora Leboff, Mar 11 2016 10:26PM



Coping mechanisms at times of personal tragedy or trauma are truly fascinating.


Some of us need to share our thoughts and thought processes; some of us need to remain private; some of us need to internalise; some of us need to create a safe space for others who have undergone similar experiences, maybe by running a support group; some of us go on to educate and work to support others who have experienced similar trauma; some raise money for charity, or even set up their own charity.


Each and every intention that is born out of a trauma or tragedy will come from a place of authenticity and a drive to cope. And each will also play a role in the healing journey of the person involved.


Losing a baby or child is a trauma that illicits many diverse and individual responses.


Support groups are available, some in person, many online and thankfully with the space created by social media there is more and more opportunity for offering or receiving assistance. Within this network sometimes what emerges is a name that unifies those that are coping with the same situation.





Rainbow Babies are those precious souls carried and born following a pregancy or baby loss.


It's utterly beautiful to connect your next precious pregnancy or baby you can actually hold, feed, take home and nurture, to a phenomenon that occurs after a storm has broken and the sunlight that has been allowed in to break the darkness.


And there is such darkness to weather when you've been left with empty arms and a broken heart.


When I googled Rainbow Baby, endless search results came up; there is clearly a huge amount of support that comes with the term - many pages, images and services are on offer to bring comfort to parents.


But what of those who grow up being Rainbow Babies?


They are the much longed-for child, who has grown, has filled their parents lives, has been able to offer cuddles, giggles and hopefully joy.


But, what other weight is being held with this name?


The constant reminder of loss; I am here because my sibling or siblings died. Could this name carry guilt? I live, but my baby brother or sister didn't. Do I want to be recognised by this label that will always refer to the baby before me? Can I not be my own person?


I wasn't aware of the term when I was pregnant with my daughter after losing Baby Harry. I decided to ask her what she thought of the name Rainbow Baby/Child (she's 10 years old) and shared with her its meaning. Her reaction was that it was a lovely name. After this conversation, we had a busy afternoon, a period of time passed, so I tested the water and referred to her again later as my Rainbow Child. This time she began to get upset, and made it clear that she didn't want me to use the term again. It was hard for her to verbalise why her reaction was so strong, but she did ask me to use pet names I've had for her in the past instead. I'm assuming they felt safer.


There is certainly no right and no wrong in using the term Rainbow Baby. The comfort for parents is palpable, but so was the strength of rejection of it by my daughter.


Our methods of coping when faced with recovering from trauma will always remain highly individual.


EFT and Abdominal Massage are therapies that can play a part in helping to ease such trauma and finding peace.


To all who are on their healing journey following baby loss, I wish you peace in your heart.



Blessings

x






By Leora Leboff, Apr 26 2015 09:02PM


“A rebozo is a long flat garment used by women mostly in Mexico” This is part of a description that comes from Wikipedia. It is a sentence holding such simplicity.


I thank Wikipedia for this, as I am always in awe of the rebozo’s simplicity when I use them in treatments. In reality they are beautiful, intricately woven shawls, steeped in mystery yet imbued with Mexican history; a garment which allows for release and effortless give, but is also a vessel for a deep sense of containment and security.


It's history? “There is evidence that the rebozo was worn in Mexico in the early years of the Spanish colony, but its mysterious origin is unknown as well as how it became part of Mexican identity.” - Frida Kahlo: Beyond the Magenta Rebozo by Simon Grimberg


Despite its mysterious conception, it is filled with Mexican tradition; the weave, the order in which the rebozo is created, the pattern, even the honour of being the empuntadora who makes and attaches the fringe at the end.


It is a garment which is integrated in to so many areas of life, “Women wear it casually or formally as an accessory, and use it in practical ways: to cover their heads when entering church, as a shield from the sun, to keep warm, to carry a bundle, to hold a suckling infant, or in any number of creative ways.” - Frida Kahlo: Beyond the Magenta Rebozo by Simon Grimberg



Image: From Made in Mexico: Rebozo in Art, Culture and Fashion


Conversely, the rebozo was used as a scented death shroud, “Aroma se luto…has a particular herbal and floral infusion that is prepared over a length of time in the dry season. The infusion consists of dried tarragon, sage, cloves, rosemary, Spanish moss, apple mint, star anise, cinnamon, rose petals and calla lillies. Traditionally, this very special rebozo was used to wrap the deceased for their journey to the after life.” – El Viaje/ The Journey – Birth to Death (Information from the Made in Mexico: Rebozo in Art, Culture and Fashion Exhibition held at The Fashion & Textile Museum 2014)


It was revolutionary artist Frida Kahlo who made the rebozo most visible to the world, rarely being pictured not wearing one.



Image: From Made in Mexico: The Rebozo in Art, Culture and Fashion, Toni Frissell 1937


Having chosen to work with these exquisite vessels of love in my massage practice, I asked a client how she felt after experiencing an abdominal massage, followed by being wrapped in the rebozos. Her response was:


“I have always felt supported and empowered…as well as humbled, it makes you feel ok in your own body…it makes you feel you own your body, it makes you feel you have no body, you just are, you’re pure love, all that’s necessary, nothing else needed”


Oh, the beautiful power held within the Mexican shawl.


Fertility Massage Therapy Teacher and expert, Clare Blake runs Rebozo Workshops for birth workers and body workers. I was lucky enough to help out at one she held recently. Being witness and part of what unfolded, will be a day in my professional life I will never forget.


We were in a room of women and one beautiful-hearted Dad, who spent the day there with his 6 week old son, so that Mum could learn how to use the Rebozo and breastfeed when necessary.


For the birth workers they were eager to learn the techniques to help ease mamas in labour, help encourage a baby who is not lying in the optimum position for birth to turn, and give a different kind of support to their birthing women. For the body workers they were there to learn techniques that would leave their clients with a sense of weightless freedom; loosening stiff arms, legs and necks, so that they could now be swung, shimmied and unconsciously released. It’s hard to keep up resistance once the rebozo flow.





The learning had been fun in the workshop and there was a buzz in the room, then something extraordinary happened.


The atmosphere shifted from practice to sacred ceremony.


We were going to experience part of the Closing the Bones ceremony, which has Latin American and Asian origins. Traditionally it is a postnatal ceremony for bringing a woman back together after the physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual displacement of childbirth. But, for anyone who has been involved in a shattering experience; a break up, a loss, or even simply at the end of a massage when you want to feel your whole body come back together and reconnect, being wrapped in the rebozo is beautifully containing.


Back in the workshop, the women divided in to small groups. Time and respect was given to each woman, as the others slowly and consciously performed the wrapping and unwrapping. It was highly emotional for some, releasing for others, but the majority felt a deep peace in the experience.





Most beautiful was Closing the Bones with Mum and her baby who had just reached 6 weeks. I was moved to tears as baby peacefully fed, had a little cough, an extra cuddle from Mum and then snoozed peacefully on her breast. We wrapped them, with care, all gazing lovingly at baby Solomon, held safely in his mother’s arms. Once the wrapping was complete, we stepped away so that the two of them could just be together; be contained and held by the rebozos. Mum and baby lay together peacefully connected.


We invited Dad to step in and help with the unwrapping, which he did with such nurture and respect. After he unwrapped her head, and she opened her eyes, he placed a tender kiss on the forehead of his wife as she realised that her man had been part of what had just passed.


It was mesmeric, so moving, and it consolidated how this simple but intricate garment coupled with the act of ceremony, could have such a profound effect on the recipient.


When I ask a client at the end of her treatment, “are you OK for me to unwrap you?” The answer is always a sleepy “Nooo”!


If you would like to experience the exquisite rebozo as part of a massage treatment have a look here.


And if you are a birth worker or body worker who might want to add this nurturing and unique twist to your skills, keep in touch with Clare Blake for her next workshop.


You can find more information on the rebozo here


Blessings


Special thanks to the ladies who kindly allowed the photographs of the Rebozo workshop to included.













By Leora Leboff, Mar 23 2015 09:35PM


My friend Trauma? Really?


It's an incredibly hard concept to fathom that companionship can develop with trauma. How can you possibly build a deep and comforting relationship with an event, a feeling, a pain, even a thought that has had such destructive consequences on your whole being?


Trauma is one very powerful force.


You experience the cause, you move through the shock, you may be left with the physical scars, but you're also left with the memory, often developing into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (in this piece, however, I wont be discussing PTSD). You try everything your conscious self allows to "deal" with it. This could be counselling, psychotherapy, medication, natural remedies, homeopathy, meditiation, healing, whatever you chose as your methods of care. But something remains, you just can't seem to extricate yourself from the repetitive thoughts, the replaying of the experience in your memory, over and over again, until it becomes a narrative.


It becomes your story.


At this point the relationship may shift, it feels as though your story has entered every cell of your body and becomes such an intrinsic part of you that an uneasy friendship starts to form.


It might be a deeply uncomfortable bedfellow, but you begin to find that you can't be without it. It gradually takes on a persona of its own and eventually you find yourself having the urge to say to people "Come and meet my good friend Trauma..."


This friendship has power.


Maybe it gives you an identity, a purpose; you actually feel safe with the discomfort as it shows you're alive.


Beware though, trauma isn't exclusive - trauma hooks up with a bad crowd - the leader being your inner

critic - you know the one who shouts, sometimes far too loud at you, and for women, mostly when you're premenstrual, but she can pop up at any time! Trauma hangs out with her.


Sometimes it consciously doesn't feel right to give up the trauma.


It's too hard to step away from the friendship. How will I be able to feel after breaking up? What's there to replace the strength of the attachment? Maybe I'll actually feel lonely without this companionship. You may even feel an intangible connection that is almost imperceptible but far reaching, perhaps there's a generational or even ancestral link that binds you to your friend?


This relationship can keep you in a cocooned world.


In a world where you don't have to expose your true inner self. I don't mean that self who is holding hands with the trauma, but the one who can fly, who can create, who truly feels life, sees colours in their full brightness, see beauty around them, the one who allows the world to be seen in HD, rather than through a slightly fuzzy-screened 1970s cumbersome tv. That self is kept hidden away.


But what happens when you want the friendship to end...?


I had my story, my own relationship that developed when I lost both parents and my baby all within six months of each other. I recall times, months after, when I had to just cry and cry and cry. I'd momentarily check in with myself - which loss was I crying for? The wrenching sadness of not having Mum? The deep emptiness of losing my baby? The sometimes debilitating disbelief of Dad passing so unexpectedly and suddenly? All traumatic events individually, but squeeze them in to a six month period and you have yourself there some deep dark trauma!


Sometimes I would just be sobbing from the overwhelm of all three. But with each sob, I knew I was where I had to be. Comforted by the trauma; my new friend sat with me as a cried those tears - not just for the losses, but for almost every sadness I had felt throughout my life.


The friendship deepened and sadly pervaded so many areas of my life that it almost stopped me growing. As my personal work on healing the trauma developed, the realisation came, that what had become integral to my being, actually no longer served me.


I spent years trying to free myself from the now unwanted friendship, but the companionship persisted.


We will each have our own methods of breaking off the friendship with trauma.


For me counselling and psychotherapy, and many other forms of treatment each eased feelings and emotions, but the friendship persisted. As my journey continued, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or tapping and Abdominal Massage come in to my life. Both of these therapies finally facilitated the much longed-for break up with the wholly unhealthy friendship I had with trauma.





The dichotomy of trauma being an uncomfortable yet deeply reassuring companion is breakable. It is possible to see the beauty again and to fly.


I understand that this will not be everyone's experience and I wish those who do and those who do not identify with this premise, a peaceful journey in your healing.


As I work with these therapies alongside my Aromatherapy practice, I continue to be moved and in awe of how beautifuly they allow someone to be held in their experience. Witnessing shifts, whatever the source, is so incredibly heart-singing. If you would like to get in touch and see how these nurturing and healing therapies can support you please do contact me


For a list of Abdominal-Sacral Massage Therapists click here


For a list of therapists trained in Fertility Massage click here


Blessings


Top artwork: "Moonlight Walk" by Lucy Calhoun

Lower artwork: Lisa Rough




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