Holistic Practitioner Spotlight with Felicia Greenfield-Blau, a Physical Therapist Who Uses Mindfulness Techniques to Achieve Wellness
We are speaking with Felicia Greenfield-Blau, LPT, CCE, whose interest in mindfulness meditation was incorporated as a way for patients to manage pain, stress, and anxiety and deepen the mind-body connections.
Tell Us a Story About a Patient with Pain and Emotional Fatigue and How Mindfulness Helped Along with Physical Therapy Treatment
I believe mindfulness is a way of life, a curiosity into our minds and an option to be more present to ourselves and the world around us. One-on-one mindfulness meditation with patients is a service I provide, yet secretly it is a gift to myself. Guiding others in the art of mindfulness, especially while providing physical therapy, manual therapy and somato-emotional release allows for a deeper connection between myself and my patients.
Mary had been following me via on social media and reached out to me. She had been suffering physically from chronic pain in her low back and hips. In her initial evaluation with me, I relied on diagnostic tools to assess her symptoms. This included pain scales (Mary had a daily pain level of 7 out of 10); manual muscle testing and range of motion assessments. Mary exhibited limited hip and torso mobility, altered gait, and decreased flexibility. She also had a low energy level. When asking Mary subjective questions, she admitted that she was also experiencing anxiety, depression and emotional fatigue.
In the past, Mary was an avid meditator, but for the past few years she just couldn’t motivate herself to meditate. Still, she was proactive in seeking relief for her physical pain. She tried exercise-focused options and other therapy models which were rigorous and left her with more pain post treatment than she had prior to her visits. My online-message resonated with Mary and she opened up to a new possibility.
In her treatment plan, we addressed both physical and emotional components to her pain. The modalities included electrical stimulation, infrared heat, manual therapy including myofascial release, somato-emotional release and passive stretching. She was given a full therapeutic exercise program of core strengthening and flexibility.
To create a calming energy during passive modality sessions, I incorporated aromatherapy and soft lighting. I chose relaxing playlists which included mantras, kundalini songs and nature sounds. In a setting free from distractions for an hour and a half, we practiced varying mindfulness techniques and ethos. These included:
- Breath work: alternating rhythms and breath counts.
- Visualizations through body scans of tightness and pain locations in her body
- Guided imagery of beaches, walking, traveling to other locations and the forest Treatment sessions lasted about 1.25-1.5 hours in duration.
During the last 10 minutes of our sessions, we recap feelings, visuals or thoughts which emerged during her guided meditations. During this time, Mary felt safe enough to share about challenges in her marriage, difficulty finding her voice to say no to friends and family, as well as childhood traumas. The somato-emotional releases experienced during the manual therapy with the guided meditation have expanded Mary’s ideas of herself and areas of her life which were being compromised. But our sessions were just igniters for healing. Mary needed to practice in between our visits; to take the tidbits of knowledge and incorporate them into her daily life. She was given instructions for a personalized home exercise program which included various mindful techniques and ideas.
The outcome has been noteworthy and remarkable for both Mary and myself. In one short month, approximately 6 visits, there was noticeable improvement in all areas. Physically, she increased her available range of motion and her strength. Most days her pain levels have reduced to 4 out of 10. But so important to her healing, Mary has gained insights to continue her meditation practice with more self love and self compassion. And in so doing, Mary has felt the veil of depression lift and can enjoy the blessing of more ease in her daily life.
Why and When Did You Choose the Holistic Path?
My inspiration for becoming a physical therapist began when I was 8 years old. My grandfather had a stroke. His Physical Therapist helped him move from a wheelchair to functionally walking. It blew me away that someone could help another person heal in that way. I went to the high school of Creative and Performing Arts. As a student of dance, I melded discipline, function and flow of the body. My background as a dancer allowed me first hand knowledge of how the body moves when healthy and when compromised.
Personally, I thrive with the ecstatic feelings movement has on the brain chemistry. Over the years, I’ve incorporated movement therapies like QiGong and Yoga into my exercise programs. As a young therapist, manual therapy became a passion of mine. My hands could diagnose patients physical and emotional pain with unique accuracy. I took classes in various manual therapy techniques which have expanded my holistic treatment experience.
Specializing in women’s health including breast cancer and uterine cancer has opened my eyes to the fragility of life. My patients are incredibly strong people who deal with pain and potential life-threatening illnesses. They are amazing teachers for living in the present.
Mindfulness was a natural addition to my manual skill set. Practicing mindfulness, Yoga and Pilates for therapists became an important differentiation from a more traditional model of therapy.
In 2018, I became a cannabis educator where I supported hundreds of patients to lower their opioid use and transition to medical cannabis and mindfulness meditation. My recent partnership and co-ownership with Reboot Integrative Wellness Center has been a dream come true. Combining Eastern and Western medicine – ambient lighting, aromatherapy, Chinese medicine, cannabis education, CBD and binaural beats (sound frequencies) – has integrated a lifetime of holistic skills.
What Lessons Have Your Work and Personal Experiences Taught You?
Lessons learned include letting go of my ego. I listen to what my patients are saying with their words and observe their body language. I have learned to have patience, humbleness, compassion and respect for everyone. I’ve learned that good health is not a given, nor an entitlement. And money can’t buy it. I believe trauma and hurt lives in our cells and finding ways to move the negative/painful energy out is key.
I have been enlightened by patients with addictions. Understanding more about body chemistry, the causes of addiction and options for incorporating more peacefulness gives my patient population hope for a new way of life.
What Would You Like Your Patients to Know About Your Services that They May Not be Aware of?
My version of integrative wellness is unique and allows for personal and physical transformation and renewal. I genuinely care about how my patients got to the place they are in and that I have a toolbox of skills to support their physical, emotional and functional challenges. I also continue my own learning process about myself which gives me a deeper capacity to hold their needs and fears about pain, recovery, functional limitations and living life to their fullest ability.
Felicia Greenfield-Blau started her career as a physical therapist in 1991 at Beaver College. She has specialized in outpatient orthopedics, breast cancer, post-surgical rehabilitation, balance disorders, and more. Her interest in mindfulness meditation was incorporated as a way for patients to manage pain, stress, and anxiety and deepen the mind-body connections.
Since 2018, Felicia has helped patients, physicians and the community as a cannabis educator. Felicia has helped register hundreds of patients in the PA and NJ state medical cannabis programs. In 2019, Felicia became Co-Owner and Managing Partner of Reboot Integrative Wellness Center, an organization with integrative therapies, including PT, acupuncture, chiropractic care and herbal medicine. Under Felicia’s guidance, the center employs a unique opioid reduction cannabis-friendly physical therapy model, utilizing honest conversation about opioid use and supporting patients’ interest in medical cannabis.
Felicia Greenfield-Blau, LPT, CCE
Physical Therapist/ Cannabis Educator
Reboot Integrative Wellness Center
8080 Old York Rd. Suite 210
Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 19027
Visit Reboot Integrative Wellness Center Website
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