Do you ever feel like you’re walking a tightrope with your health? Doing airway clearance, exercising and cooking healthy meals to keep your body strong and at the same time trying to balance all this effort with restorative rest? Sometimes it’s a challenge for me to find a happy medium. What about you? Do you feel the same way?
To help myself feel centered, every day I spend 20 minutes or so practicing a self-care therapy called Jin Shin Jyutsu (Jin Shin for short). Jin Shin is an ancient Japanese healing method that was passed down from generation to generation until it was lost to obscurity. In the early 1900’s, Juro Murai, a Japanese man with a life-threatening illness, in his quest to heal himself, rediscovered Jin Shin in the sacred Kojiki texts, the oldest books of Japanese history and culture. This practice was then brought to the United States in the 1950’s.
Similar to reflexology, Jin Shin is about using one’s hands to open up energy pathways. I have come to rely on it as an important part of my daily self-care practice. Especially now with the pandemic, it is helpful to be able to do my own energy work and not be dependent on visits to a practitioner to feel my best.
In Alexis Brink’s latest book, Healing At Your Fingertips, she says, “Though the Art of Jin Shin bears some similarities to acupuncture, the practice achieves its transformative results without needles, using only a gentle touch—a methodology that translates very nicely to self-care. All you need to get started are your hands and a little bit of time and patience." She goes on to say, "to some degree you will succeed in moving stagnant energy and restoring harmony right from the get-go, and that’s part of the beauty of the Art of Jin Shin.”
Now that I have been practicing Jin Shin for a couple of years, I couldn’t imagine my life without it. If you are interested in learning more about Jin Shin, visit the Jin Shin Institute website and check out Brink’s books The Art of Jin Shin and Healing At Your Fingertips.
Once you are practicing, especially the holds relating to chest congestion, chronic cough and breathing, I know that you will also find Jin Shin essential to your well-being.
#bronchiectasis #jinshinjyutsu @jinshininstitute #lunghealth
Exercise, whenever possible, needs to be done every day as part of our airway clearance regimen. If we were exercising strictly for strength or cardiovascular improvement, then a three-or-four-times a week schedule would be adequate. But we have the urgency of clearing our lungs to prevent further inflammation.
Whether you exercise before or after using an airway clearance device is your decision. Test out what works best for you. Before you exercise, try using your Aerobika or a similar airway clearance device to remove irritating mucus and reduce coughing. Or, start your day with a morning workout to bring mucus up higher in your lungs and then use your clearance device.
I will let you in on a little secret… sometimes I exercise while using my Aerobika! Back in the 80s there was a curly-haired art instructor on American television by the name of Bob Ross. He taught the ABCs of painting and would say things like, “go ahead, add a little tree to your landscape, it’s your world.” How you choose to combine exercise with using a clearance device is the same--it’s your world. Just know that doing them every day will make your world a better place.
Begin Where You Are, It’s Your World
For some, time constraints centering around family and work will make daily exercise challenging. For others, physical and medical considerations such as joint pain, heart issues and fatigue, might prevent you from feeling comfortable with exercise. And frankly, for many, it is not something you ever wanted to do and now with your bronchiectasis symptoms of coughing, mucus production, exhaustion and, in some cases, urinary incontinence, it is like asking you to climb Mount Everest.
In her book, “Start Where You Are”, Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun, discusses the importance of starting any personal journey from where you are at the present point in time. This concept can also be applied to how we think about exercise. Regardless of where we stand on the continuum, whether we are experienced or new to exercise, we can move forward slowly and carefully from our own unique place.
Being closely monitored and individually instructed in a pulmonary rehabilitation center is a great place to start if you are not already a regular exerciser. Then, on days when you are not in rehab, you can follow an at-home program provided by the rehab center. An online pulmonary wellness program is also an option.
If you occasionally work out and are looking to increase the frequency and intensity of your exercise, then one-on-one sessions with a Personal Trainer, either at home or in a gym, can put you on the right path. Even doing a couple of supervised workouts with a trainer and getting a tailor-made program that you can do on your own is a great idea. Let your trainer know about your health conditions and check to see if the trainer is certified and experienced. As previously mentioned, many of us have other health and physical issues that may necessitate exercise adjustments. Whether you are exercising with a Personal Trainer or on your own, know what exercises to avoid or to modify — this guidance can only come from your health care team.
#bronchiectasis #airwayclearance #Aerobika #exercise
Linda Cooper Esposito, MPH is a health educator with bronchiectasis. She developed the BE CLEAR Method to Living with Bronchiectasis and writes with compassion and humor about this chronic lung disease.