October is Breast Cancer Awarness Month!
Have you ever noticed the ad of a young girl, naked from the waist up, with a little pink ribbon of remembrance glued next to her nipple? I cannot remember anymore just when or where I saw it, but the feelings it brought up in me then which were strong to begin with, have only deepened over the course of time. Her body vulnerable, her eyes looking longingly, innocent yet tainted with fear and sadness haunt me.
Why, I ask myself, is this image so cleverly memorable? Is it because, like almost every person in North America, I have known, loved, and seen the passing of friends and relatives from breast cancer? Is it because my own Aunt had breast surgery three years ago and is still fighting the fear of recurrence and realizing her own mortality? Obviously, these impressions have affected me. But, the passion that has fueled my interest in breast care comes not entirely from looking at the past. Rather, it comes from the future. I plan to have children, daughters, and when I saw that picture, every cell in my body shouted that they will not be raised in the same ignorance and fear that has characterized the last twenty years of the so-say breast cancer epidemic. They also should not have to suffer monthly tenderness or mental contortions over breast size and shape that is also still very much with us. They have a right to feel fit, free, and fearless in their bodies especially in the parts that make them female.
Since seeing that picture and more particularly since my Aunt’s diagnosis and double masectomy my in the fall of 1996, I’ve studied as much as I could find about breast care. I have listened to and read the powerfully female views of Dr. Christine Northrup, read Michio Kushi’s macrobiotic opinions, and looked at the breast massage recommendations from a western perspective based on the work of Dr. Pelton and lymph drainage expert Dana Wyrich from San Diego. I have read with interest the current debate going on in the professional massage community about whether or not massage therapists should offer breast massage. There seems to be unanimous agreement that massage is especially useful both as a preventive measure, but also as an aid in treating general tenderness and even more serious conditions.
The information and opinions of all these experts creates a body of knowledge that is useful for all women, whether they want to maintain healthy breasts or want to help with their own healing process. As beauty and body care professionals, you touch and talk about breasts with your clients. In the spa industry we have an incredible, predominantly female network that I’ve found always hungry for information to help others. Whilst most massage therapists will touch breast tissue and very few of their schools will even include it in the curriculum, aestheticians are in unique position to offer this wonderful service. Here we are presenting a treatment protocol for use in the spa setting , but please use it for yourself, share it with your clients for their own home care, even make it the basis for an educational evening. To integrate all the information I gathered and for the main part of the hands on technique I turned to Ayurveda, the healing system of Ancient India. For in Ayurveda, I find a system that integrates all the dimensions of breast care I have studied into a simple, easy to use, and nurturing approach to positive breast care.
In terms of how to interest your clients in this service, I would suggest the same approach that has been proved effective with any new service.
• Educate your treatment staff thoroughly. Choose staff that feel totally comfortable with the service and believe in its benefits to give it.
• Have staff members receive the treatment — especially front desk staff because they are the ones recommending services and whose opinion is of the service is very often heard first
• Offer it as a special of the month, either in very high stress months or Breast Health awareness month
• Avoid Valentines time of year or any overly sexual connection in your publicity • Offer an education evening using handouts of information available in this article and do a demonstration so people can see exactly what they would be getting
• Always stress the benefits when ever and where ever the treatment is discussed — if possible tell of your personal experience or that of coworkers or friends
• Create a description of the service and a list a three benefits that is kept at the front desk to help with telephone inquiries
• Do not even think of offering the service if you have reservations about talking about it or feel it is not a good fit for current clients.
SUGGESTED DESCRIPTIONHelp yourself feel more comfortable and happy with your breasts. This traditional technique uses gentle strokes on the neck, subtle energy points on the chest and arm and finally a mindful anointing of the breast tissue with rich aromatic natural oils.
• dramatic easing of tenderness associated with monthly cycle
• more self confidence about the health of breast tissue
• feeling better about being female
• softening of scar tissues from implants
• improvement in shape and tone of the breasts
• feeling deeply and intimately nurtured
1. No breasts are perfectly symmetrical. Each pair will vary in shape and size in relation to each other.
2. Fibrous and fatty tissue in the breast is normal, even if it feels uneven as we say good-bye to child bearing years. Fibrocystic disease is a misnomer. Changes in breast texture are a part of growing older.
3. Eighty (80) percent of breast cancer patients have no family history of breast cancer.
4. Ninety (90) percent of breast lumps are not malignant nor cancerous. They should always be checked, of course.
5. Mammograms are tools for early detection, not prevention.
6. Most massage therapists are not trained in breast massage and/or will not do it because of the fear of sexual harassment suits. Most agree, however, that it is therapeutic and beneficial.
7. Breast cancer incidence leaped 50% when hydrogenated oils (i.e. margarine) became common in post World War II diets.
8. Renown naturopath Hazel Parcells observed that there was a strong correlation between the use of underarm deodorant sprays with aluminum-based compounds and breast cancer in the women she treated.
20 GOOD THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR BREASTS
1. Practice breast self massage as well as using the spa service. Touch your breasts gently and often using warmed oil, whilst in the shower or with your partner. The best choice in oil to use is Pomegranate Oil. If you cannot find a supplier for this, choose unrefined sesame oil.
2. Exercise regularly using movements that involve the shoulders and build torso and upper arm strength.
3. Wear comfortable, natural fiber (i.e. cotton) underwear. Bras that have under wires or that are strapless push the breast up and/or make red marks weaken supporting muscles and constrict lymph tissue and if worn regularly or for long periods will make the breasts sag and allow toxins to accumulate in your breast tissue.
4. Use underarm deodorant that is free of aluminum salts or other compounds. Aluminum is a heavy metal that can enter the blood and lymph systems through the skin and severely challenge the immune system.
5. Avoid hydrogenated fats like margarine and vegetable shortening. (Be aware that these products are in many store-bought crackers, cakes, and cookies – even health-store brands.) Use olive, peanut, sunflower, or sesame oils in cooking and butter or – better still – clarified butter (ghee) on bread.
6. Eat a vegetaroan diet with little or no saturated or mono-saturated fats, refined sugars, dairy products, meats, and caffeine and HIGH in whole grains (i.e. brown rice, oats, barley) , green and orange vegetables (i.e. carrots, squashes, kale, broccoli, cabbage, etc.).
7. Eat soy-based products, such as soy milk, tofu, and tempeh. Just a little regularly helps block the tendency for breast tissues to bond with extra estrogens that can cause disruptions in healthy functioning of breast tissue.
8. Choose to eat organically raised foods and use environmentally friendly cleaning products. Many synthetic chemicals (including what is found in fertilizers, pesticides. germicides) mimic hormones and cause physical and emotional havoc in body and mind.
9. Use supplements such as vitamins E, C, and B-complex as well as minerals. Eat mineral-rich sea vegetables or take mineral supplements particularly when your stress level is high.
10. Use hormone-free contraception. Avoid long-term use of the pill and synthetic hormone therapies when possible. A number of natural alternatives to hormone therapies are emerging on the market.
11. Expose your breasts to sun and moon light. Remember how good it feels to experience the sun, sea, and air on the rest of your body. Find topless beaches or in the privacy of your back yard! Women go topless in the parks of Copenhagen. Could this ever happen in Central Park?
12. Sleep in complete darkness. Your body gets deeper, more healing sleep in the dark of night. 13. Color TVs, microwave ovens, and computer screens emit radiation that can damage tissue. How long are your breasts in front of our close to a computer or TV screen daily? Use shielded computer display terminals and try to keep a good distance between you and your TV. And, don’t stand right next to your microwave. (As regards cooking, you get more usable nutrition from using your oven or stove compared to a microwave.)
14. Enjoy nurturing yourself. It is not self-indulgent or kinky to massage your breasts and/or pamper yourself with a massage or your favorite spa treatment. It is a needed survival skill.
15. Have a good cry when you need one. Feelings of grief and loneliness, if unacknowledged and/or allowed to linger, are just as toxic as DDT.
16. Send positive messages to your breasts. One patient of Dr. Christine Northrup who was recovering from breast cancer says before she leaves for work daily, “Come on girls. You’re safe with me.” Banish the view that are breasts are time bombs. Stride out in confidence.
17. Adopt positive female role models. Have beautiful female images to look upon at home and at work.
18. Be complimentary to yourself about what you like about your body and compliment others as well. Overcome the cultural stereotypes that imprison us and our view of others. According to Ayurveda, each body type has its own, unique beauty. Seek that out in yourself and become it.
19. A noted spiritual teacher and friend of mine. Lama Ole Nydahl says that “Every atom vibrates with joy and is held together by love.” Love most of what you do in the day and see the humor in what you don’t. Put your heart into work and relationships.
20. Sensuality and sexuality are not opposed to or the enemy of spirituality. Celebrate the sensuality of your body!
GOALS FOR BREAST MASSAGE
1. Mobilize the lymphatic system
2. Prevent or reduce adhesions and/or scar tissue
3. Reduce pain and tenderness
4. Relieve breast discomfort, both physical and emotional, that is associated with the monthly cycle
5. Reduce the risk of stretch marks during pregnancy, breast feeding, or weight gain
6.To build a positive, loving, and sensual relationship with the female qualities of our bodies
(Please note: Women who discover breast lumps, experience a lot of tenderness, have a lot of fibrocystic tissue or have had breast surgery for any reason should consult with their health care provider before receiving this technique regularly, or using for self care on a daily basis.)
AYURVEDIC BREAST MASSAGE
Ayurvedic massage for women has always included extensive work on the breast area. This is done not only as a means to beautify the breast, encourage a delightful shape and for greater comfort but also for deeper therapeutic reasons. Ayurveda like a number of oriental healing traditions teaches that massage over and around breast tissue improves or helps maintain health in all parts of female reproductive tissue as well as assisting in hormonal balancing.
Like many Ayurvedic massage techniques, this breast-touching technique relies on a combination of modalities; the use of herbal oil, stimulation of marma points, and gentle strokes. The traditional oils are most beneficial for the breasts are either Pomegranate Oil or Shatavari Ghee. Most women I have worked with prefer the Pomegranate Oil with its thick, slightly stimulating warmth and light sensuous aroma of amber — an Indian essential oil blend traditionally used on breast tissue. Marma points are traditional vital energy points that act as switches between our conscious intention and the innate healing capabilities of our body. They are used to stimulate both the nourishment and cleansing of any tissue. The massage strokes one uses are applied as strongly as one would pet a cat and are intended to activate the lymphatic system. Together, the points and strokes on the breast tissue itself help mobilize toxins, fats, and the collection of excess subtle energies and hormones, which are then carried away via the lymph system, allowing for increased blood flow with fresh nutrients to revitalize the breast tissue. Strokes around the tissues, on the neck and above, below and to the sides of the breasts further support this action. My own experience (and corroborated by friends and clients) tells me that this technique helps my breasts feel more comfortable, look more beautiful, and gives me a calm confidence and a feeling of liking myself as a woman. Before you begin tell the client exactly where and how they are going to be touched. This should be reassuring so you can both relax. An eye pillow can help the client to let go and focus within.
STEP ONE — Turn the clients head slightly to the left, place the right hand over the region behind the right earlobe. Touch the marma called karna just behind the ear lobe, moving in little clockwise circles five times. Then stroke down the right side of the neck down to point (arshak) on the top surface of the right collarbone where it joins the breast bone, applying light rotational pressure to this ending point. Repeat four more times. Now turn the head to the right and repeat the same procedure on the left side using the left hand.
STEP TWO — Turn the clients head slightly to the left, use the right thumb to press down toward the clients toes working long the top surface of the right collar bone from the breast bone out to the tip of the right shoulder. Repeat twice more then turn the head to the right and repeat the same touch technique on the left side. If your client is pregnant, apply this technique using very gentle touch especially at the shoulder tips.
STEP THREE — Again working on first the right side then the left use the flat of your thumb using clockwise rotational pressure to touch in the hollow space behind the collar bone, starting again from the breast bone and moving up along the tops of the shoulders. This helps the body relax and combats fatigue. The looser we keep our shoulders the less likely we are to pick up any “problems” physically or mentally.
STEP FOUR— Starting under the right arm, press gently into the deep hollow of the armpit and apply clockwise rotational pressure into apalapa marma. For greater client comfort support the arm at the elbow. Do this 3, 5, or 7 times. Repeat on the left side. This point activates the lymph system in the upper torso and releases tension around the shoulders and arms. In our photos we have undraped the client so you can see the points more clearly. You can touch each of these points over the sheets normally.
STEP FIVE — Touch the point four finger widths below the top of the breast bone, approximately a half-inch below the sternal angle. Press and release this point (hridayam marma) in a gentle, pumping action 3, 5, or 7 times. Using your index or middle finger. This point allows us to more joyfully connect with our body and the world around us.
STEP SIX — In the same way you touched Hridayam in STEP FIVE, find the point that is approximately one and a half inches below and to the right of hridayam. This point, known as adasthambha marma, balances energy in the lungs and helps the body let go of grief and sadness. Emotions which often dominant in clients that have issues concerning breast tissue.
STEP SEVEN — Locate a point that is midway on the sternum, roughly at the level of the nipples. Apply gentle clockwise rotational pressure to this marma, also known as hridayam, and then proceed down the remainder of the sternum with circular massage strokes. This helps to alleviate depression.The picture shows the third of these three points being touched.
STEP EIGHT — Using ½ teaspoon of Pomegranite Oil or Shatavari Ghee per breast, use your right hand to apply the oil on the right then the left breast.
STEP NINE — Stroke over the topside of the breast with flat of your hand, moving from the breastbone towards the armpit, using the pressure you would use to pet a cat. Repeat four more strokes. Next stroke similarly this time under the breast ending as before ending the stroke in the deepest part of the arm pit, again five strokes total. Be sure to touch every part of the breast. Pay particular attention to the outer upper quadrant of each breast as this is the most common area for problems to arise. Remember to end each stroke at the armpit. Stroke five times over then five times under the breast then repeat on the left side using your left hand. Arrange the sheets to expose one breast at a time. Stand at the corner of the table and support the arm at the elbow to avoid discomfort in the shoulder.
STEP TEN — Do twenty one strokes in a figure eight pattern over the breast tissue itself following the pattern of the infinity symbol — this is done by starting in the middle of the chest, moving up and over the right breast, down and around and under the right breast then up and over the left breast, down and around and under the left breast coming back to the middle of the chest. Keep your own shoulders relaxed and project positive thoughts towards your client. The movement should cover the outer portion of the breast and the tissues just slightly above, below, and to the sides of each breast, allow the movement to get gradually smaller, working towards the nipples so the whole surface of the breast is touched. Massage to the area directly below the breasts stimulates blood circulation. Massage to the portion of the breasts below the nipple increases sensuousness and a sense of self-confidence. All in all, this step helps maintain a pleasant shape to the breasts.
STEP ELEVEN — Pull the nipples, using gentle pressure between the thumb and index fingers. Nipple stimulation excites the finest capillaries and lymph tissue in this area of the breasts. If you don’t feel comfortable with this step tell the client this is something they should do for themselves at home. This is optional, but is useful as a recommendation to clients for self care.
STEP TWELVE — Repeat the massage of apalapa marmas as in STEP FOUR to work gently into the deepest part of the armpit.
TO CLOSE— Rest your left hand on the top of the client’s head and the finger tips of the right hand in the middle of the chest. Let your hands and mind rest there for a minute to end the treatment.