Cultivating Calmness and Health

WITH LISA LEVITT GAINSLEY

Lisa is a longtime friend of mine and is a foremost expert on the hidden benefits of Lymphatic health. A certified Lymphedema Therapist and lymphatic health activist for over 20 years, she also is about to publish her first book on the subject, The Book of Lymph, Self-care practices to Enhance Immunity, Health and Beauty

The within-wisdom and the techniques that Lisa shares are really life-changing (and the practice can take as little as 5 minutes a day!). Follow her @thelymphaticmessage for more tips and video tutorials and enjoy, indulge, and be well.

In self-kindness, and Love - Patti

PP: My beautiful friend, we have known each other a long time (since the 90’s)!

LLG: My dear friend! I can’t believe how long we’ve known each other! We have had some wonderful times together and you are always such a gracious hostess with the best food, wine, music and laughter. I’ve loved watching you bring the community together with your store The Shopkeepers in the Funk Zone of Santa Barbara- it’s exactly what the town needed! I’ll never forget hearing Kenny Loggins perform live at your shop and meeting Jeff Bridges at your store- they are both so lovely!

The shut down of Covid has really changed the landscape of people coming together to create such memorable moments like that and I really miss it.

“My hope is for everyone everywhere to live well and freely in their body and to treat each other with kindness, compassion and respect.”

 

Loss, Discovery and Purpose

PP: Back when we first met, I learned about your journey into lymphatic self care. But I know your interest in women’s health started at a very young age. Can you tell us how you discovered your calling?

LLG: My path to becoming a lymphatic drainage massage practitioner was born out of the loss of my mother- to a battle with Cancer when I was just 13 years old. When my mom got sick my family explored complementary medicine to help with some of the painful side effects of her cancer treatments. This included guided imagery, a macrobiotic diet and touch therapy. The profound loss of her death catapulted me into searching for ways to live a healthy life of purpose and meaning. I spent my teenage years reading books on Hinduism, Buddhism and Reincarnation. I turned to the holistic ways other cultures view medicine and how they take a preventative approach to healing. I've since applied many of those principles in my own life and career to honor the roles that diet, meditation, emotions and stress play on the human body.

 

“I'd never experienced anything as healing as a lymphatic massage. The easiest way I can describe how it felt was like the way seaweed undulates in the ocean. I was floating.

The Lymphatic Message

PP: You started your lymph practice long before many of us even knew how important the lymphatic system was to our overall health and well being. How did you come to choose studying the lymph system?

LLG: When I was in massage school in the redwoods in Marin County in early 90’s I fell in love with my lymphatic massage classes. I’d never experienced anything like it. The easiest way I can describe how it felt was like the way seaweed undulates in the ocean. I was floating. It felt like I was coming home to myself in my body- free of trauma and tension. Once I discovered that the science of lymphatic massage can benefit Cancer patients I knew I found my life’s work.

I’ve spent the last couple of decades working with and educating people everywhere on the hidden benefits of their lymphatic system- and the results have been nothing short of astonishing. Lymphatic massage has helped both me and my clients recover from ailments ranging from earaches to headaches, surgeries to athletic injuries, from acne to digestive issues, from PMS symptoms to cellulite! And what I love most about it is that it’s a gentle and nurturing massage. I love when people realize they don’t have to have a painful massage in order to reap benefits of touch therapy.

“When we can cultivate self-love we create a world of hope and possibility.”

The Flow of Health

PP: Integrated health is so important – treating the whole being. You heal on such a practical yet interconnected and spiritual level. How is the lymph system important to the overall connected picture of good health?

LLG: The lymphatic system is connected to every system in the body. It’s pathways run through the entire body and are important highways of the immune system. When your lymphatic system isn’t functioning properly it can impede the ability to filter out toxins and bacteria that accumulate in the connective tissue. Most people don’t know that their cancer fighting immune cells like T-cells and B-cells develop, mature and are stored in lymphoid organs like the bone marrow, thymus, spleen and tonsils. The lymphatic vessels in the gut are the first line of defense against food borne illness and help absorb excess fat and return it to the bloodstream to be used as fuel.

But one of the most amazing discoveries is that the lymphatic vessels in the brain work with the cerebral-spinal fluid to clean out plaque in the brain when we sleep, which has been linked to neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, MS and Parkinson’s. Last year the Directors of the National Institute for Health said studying the lymphatic system will lead to breakthroughs for many conditions. We know that stress and emotions also play a role in our well-being.

When we tend to the garden of lymph it has a profound effect on our health and healing.

  I always say, when lymph flows, everything else flows too.

PP: What are the reasons a woman might come to you for lymph drainage?

LLG: Women and men come to see many for many reasons. Some have uncomfortable symptoms from cancer treatments that lymphatic drainage helps alleviate, others have acne, digestive trouble, menstrual complaints, sleep issues and swelling after surgeries or are healing from athletic injuries. I have a lot of young people who come seeking preventative health because they want to avoid the chronic diseases their parents face.

Daily Routine

PP: I know first hand how powerful your lymph massage is. And I love the self-massage videos and tips you share on your Instagram account @thelymphaticmessage. If there was one practice we could all work into our daily routine, what would you suggest?

LLG: Massage yourself and breathe deeply. It’s really very easy and quite profound. Deep breathing helps propel the lymph fluid from the lower half of your body back up towards your heart. And the simple light touch of your own hands where your lymph nodes are located- your neck, armpits, abdomen and thigh creases- can increase lymph circulation which can alleviate headaches, earaches, tummy aches and melt tension from your body. 

“When we tend to the garden of lymph it has a profound effect on our health and healing. I always say, when lymph flows, everything else flows too.”

Taking Health (literally) Into Your Own Hands

PP: You have been working on a book. When will that be available, and can you tell us what to expect?

LLG: Yes, it’s true! I’m so excited to share that I’ve been working on a book about lymph- It’s called The Book of Lymph, Self-care practices to Enhance Immunity, Health and Beauty, published by Harper Wave. It’s coming out in early 2021 and is available for pre-sale now! It’s a first-of-its-kind guide, that explains how to maintain lymphatic health. In it I share the science behind the lymphatic system and offer five-minute self-massage techniques that I originally developed for my clientele. The simple sequences are tailored to address a number of common issues like bloating, headaches, digestive problems, immune health, anxiety, weight loss, acne, inflammation, and more. You can sign up for my newsletter on my website for a chance to win a signed copy. I’ll be doing some giveaways with some exciting brands I’m collaborating with around the launch of the book to promote the many ways people can take their health and healing into their own hands.

What are you Reading Now?

PP: I'll never forget when you turned me on to the poetry of Mary Oliver when we lived in Venice Beach – it was such a beautiful discovery for me. I love how books and people and inspiration come into our lives via our friends. What have you been reading and sharing while distancing at home?

LLG: I’ve been reading several books during Covid- Michael Pollan’s book How to Change Your Mind; What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Drying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence is a fascinating look at the scientific research on the topic. He does a thorough job de-mystifying the subject for the average person. 

Middle School Matters by Phyllis L. Fagell - a great Parenting book on the key skills kids needed to thrive in middle school and how parents can help. My oldest is now in middle school, and since he’s in remote learning I’ve been turning to that book often because puberty is enveloping our home on a 24 hour basis and I can use all the tools I can get to support my family! HA!

Caste, The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, which is a must read. It addresses the history of America and the hidden caste system in our country and how we can move beyond the divisions towards hope and common humanity. Isabel is a stunning writer and shapes the conversation in the most powerful way.

I’ve read Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls which was such a beautiful escape during Covid - her writing is captivating and the characters of that time are so alive- Gilbert’s voice is magnetic- I didn’t want that book to end! I’ve also been pulling a lot of Tarot cards from both the Motherpeace Deck and The Animal Spirit Cards by The Wild Unknown- it really helps ground me to my emotions and the socio-economic climate that has been such a roller-coaster this year. I find solace and creative insight in both those decks.

Free Tutorials for Self Care

PP: Since we are socially distancing, and many women are unable to visit their therapists for massages and treatments, is there anything else you’d recommend?

LLG: I have a bunch of free Lymphatic self-massage tutorials on my Instagram @thelymphaticmessage and I have a free guide on my website people can download that includes my favorite lymphatic tips. In it I show you how to properly dry-brush and why certain types of exercises are more beneficial to move lymph and how you can incorporate easy self-care rituals in your life to keep lymph flowing.

Follow Lisa @thelymphaticmessage and www.thelymphaticmessage.com

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