“Alternative” Therapy as a Way of Life

It was one of the last nights in August. My boyfriend and I were driving home. The air was different – it had that cool, crisp edge to it that it hadn’t had before. Summer was fading, and my favorite season was fast approaching.
Dunkin Donuts (of which there is one every 10 feet here in New England) had just started serving hot apple cider a few days prior, so my boyfriend decided he wanted to grab one on our way. We were almost home when we finally felt it was safe enough to take the first sip – they always serve it dangerously hot.
Up until that point, I had felt fine, but generally stressed. We had been having a nice conversation, talking about all the ups and downs of our day and all the things we needed to do tomorrow. We were, and still are, extremely busy, with lots of big changes happening at once in our lives. So, while I was feeling both “good” stress and “bad” stress, it was stress nonetheless.
Yet when I took a sip of that hot apple cider, any and all stress that I had been feeling entirely vanished. The smell, the warmth, the flavor, and all the wonderful associations I make with them, were the only thing I could focus on. My senses were flooded with everything they love most, and everything they needed in that moment – comfort, peace, pleasure, and simplicity. I was free of my pain in an instant, all because of a sip of cider. This was indeed a therapeutic experience.
Color therapy, aromatherapy, sound therapy, music therapy, nature therapy, crystal therapy, etc… All of these so called “alternative”, sensory-based therapies have been used with great success for thousands of years (probably tens of thousands of years, in my opinion). In fact, there is no one on this planet who has not experienced the power of alternative therapy; who has never found relief in listening to a favorite song, joy in eating their favorite food, comfort in a familiar scent, or excitement in new surroundings?
Never underestimate the power of affecting your senses. This is why I tell clients to start actively creating environments that feel good to them, based on their intuition and their growing understanding of themselves. Every little detail in your life can make a difference, from the color of your walls to what you have for lunch to the air freshener in your car. Why look at, smell, taste, hear or touch anything that you don’t like if you don’t have to? Obviously you cannot control outside environments, but your home, your car, and your work space (to some degree if not entirely) are YOURS! So make them YOURS! It absolutely does make a difference to your mood and to your health. It’s not just some nice fluffy thing to do for yourself; we have an intrinsic need to experience environments that reflect our unique inner world back to us. We have a need for sanctuary.
You can start by “detoxing” if you need to. Clean out your closets, your drawers, your files, your refrigerator, your car, your purse, anything! Rearrange your furniture if you like as well. That alone can lift you mood and have serious, measurable health benefits. And then get to work, little by little if necessary, creating spaces and daily routines that you truly love.
Reflect upon and analyze every aspect of your life that you can. How would it feel if you woke up 20 minutes earlier and enjoyed a cup of coffee or tea in the mornings? How would it feel if you incorporated more plants in your house decor? How would it feel if you listened to a playlist of your favorite songs on the way to work? How would it feel if you lit some incense or candles each night before bed? How would it feel if you used that unique silverware set that you love? Do you really like that screensaver on your computer? Or that calendar on your desk? Or that necklace you’re wearing? Or the way your sheets feel against your skin? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, and the most exciting part is that there are infinite questions to be asked.
There is no virtue in settling for a life that feels less than great, but you and only you can know what brings you joy and what doesn’t. You have so much more creative control over your life than you think you do, and living authentically in all these small ways will set you up for easily living authentically in all big ways. You may even find that some detrimental habits (like overeating, for example) simply dissolve away on their own, as you consistently meet your need for comfort, joy and peace in other ways.
As always, start by tuning into your intuition, your emotions, and your authenticity. Get to know who you truly are (behind all the fear) and the joyous motivation to act on your findings will not be far behind. Soon enough, your external world will start to reflect your internal world, and that is pure magic.

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