I invite you to consider that the very fabric of life itself IS possibility. A blank canvas upon which, and against which, we get to express and create, and perhaps most importantly, reveal what holds us back in life. As you know my work is about inspiring freedom from the mental-prison we all live in … mostly obliviously.
I’ve often been called a spiritual teacher, which for sure is accurate, but my work is also based in the principles of physics. As some of you might know, there’s something called the observer effect in quantum physics. Whilst the basic assumption behind science is that there’s an “objective world out there” irrespective of us, the observer effect implies otherwise. The famous double-slit experiment reveals that each particle appears to pass simultaneously through both slits and interferes with itself. This combination of both paths at the same time is known as superposition. Here’s the powerful part about this … simply by observing a particle's path, even if that observation does not disturb the particle's motion, we change the outcome. Boom!!! So, if the way the world appears, and even behaves, is dependent on how, (and even IF), we look at it, what does that mean about "reality"? In my world … it means perception is reality!! Meaning the world is the way WE see it.
Physicist Pascual Jordan, who worked with quantum guru Niels Bohr, put it like this: "observations not only disturb what is measured, they produce it." In other words, Jordan said, "we ourselves produce the results of measurements." When you REALLY get this it’s so profound. Whether consciously or not, WE are all creating our reality.
Life IS pure possibility, so the question is what patterns and beliefs do you have that currently create the world you see? And how empowering to realize that by shifting our mind and perception we shift our world?!
Subconscious Reprogramming is about removing all perceived “limitations” in order to gain behavioural options, mental flexibility & internal power, to unleash your potential in any area of your life.
Your subconscious influences your attitude & actions, & gives you insights & solutions. To understand how yours influences you, become more conscious of your subconscious.
Now that the kids are back at school, take a few moments for yourself to ground & breathe.
Benefits of Balancing Asanas are many:
Helps induce physical balance
Develops a balanced mind
Balances the nervous system
Relieves anxiety & stress
Brings your focus back to the breath & present moment
Opens up the front flexor line of fascia to help create alignment
Activates your psoas muscles with the rest of your abdominal core muscles for a strong, stable core
Helps with natural spinal alignment
Helps to release unnecessary tension you have invited in
Yoga is not how high you can hold up your leg or deep you can get your squat. It is about connection with the breath & staying true to you own practice, what ever that is today.
Set yourself achievable goals that don’t overwhelm you ie two minutes twice daily, because you deserve it!
An Ayurvedic approach to depression takes into account mental, spiritual, and physical aspects of health and well-being. Within Ayurveda, there are three subsets of depression corresponding to the three doshas.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses worldwide, affecting approximately 300 million people (4.4 percent of the world’s population) and 17.3 million US adults (approximately 1 in 12). Women are nearly twice as likely as men (8.7 percent vs. 5.3 percent) to suffer from depression, with adolescence, postpartum, and perimenopause being especially risky times. Depression has a significant economic impact. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It is also one of the most common reasons people seek out integrative or complementary therapies and providers.
Healing depression is something that requires time, focus, and effort on multiple levels. Here are five key psychological steps that can provide a useful foundation for the endeavor.
Viewed through an Ayurvedic lens, depression is usually thought of as a Kapha imbalance—heaviness, sadness, and general stagnation. Apathy, low energy, poor mood, and reduced movement are part of the official criteria psychiatrists use to diagnose depression. These symptoms are all Kapha problems, which suggests that the Kapha element is indeed out of balance in most cases of clinical depression.
From a more comprehensive Ayurvedic standpoint, there are three subtly different types of depression corresponding to the three doshas. These unique types of depression may preferentially affect people of that same primary dosha. They can also affect people of a different primary dosha who have the affected dosha(s) out of balance.
Associated with lethargy, increased sleep, poor motivation, despondency, and ama(toxicity), lies Kapha depression. It is the most common and longest-lasting type--due to the inherently slow-moving nature of Kapha. The treatment approach varies but includes the general principles of increasing movement, reducing toxicity, and enhancing ojas(vitality). Some science-backed recommendations are:
Like Pitta imbalance, Pitta depression is a more agitated state. It is highlighted by frustration, anger, irritability, and impulsivity. There is a higher risk of suicide with this type of depression due to the impulsivity and agitation. In traditional psychiatry, this might be thought of as a “mixed depression” (depression blended with manic or bipolar symptoms) or an “agitated depression.” This condition may be more common in a person who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or has some tendencies along the bipolar spectrum.
Pitta depression can be improved by general principles of cooling and soothing. Research-based remedies include the following:
Characterized by worry, restlessness, insomnia, and “ungroundedness,” a person with Vatadepression often will have an overload of the stress hormone cortisol. They generally have pushed themselves (or felt pushed) beyond their capabilities and become overwhelmed. This is a bit like the classic “nervous breakdown,” which is not an official medical diagnosis. In psychiatry, Vata depression is usually thought of as a combined anxiety-depressive disorder. There is a strong ruminative component to this state—an inability to shut off the mind.
Key principles for healing Vata depression are grounding, warming, and calming. A few specific recommendations for Vata-type depression are:
Depression is an opportunity—a chance to face your darkest thoughts and feelings with understanding and openness. It is a chance to nurture and heal yourself. Spiritually, transforming depression involves facing one’s own depths and coming to terms with choices, disappointments, fears, traumas, and more. Each case of depression is unique, but the common answer to all of them is your own love. If you are willing to open your heart to your own pain and make compassionate space for it, you are on your way to healing.
If you suffer from depression, take the wildest self-affirming action possible and fully commit to being here—on the planet and in your body. Wishing to leave is distracting and essentially delays healing. Have compassion for your soul for choosing a challenging life. Honor your soul’s wisdom by vowing to walk your unique path, even if it’s hard—even with depression.
Depression is your teacher. Trying to understand it will teach you about yourself and the world. Cultivating happiness is a practice. Every day requires maintenance. Try not to doubt your journey. Integrate your prior choices and values into your current sense of self. This will help you feel cohesive and strong. Feeling empowered now makes it easier to create a future that includes a heart at peace. The road is inward and may be long, but a heart at peace in a balanced body will surely find its way.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; it is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.
How fitting that the anniversary of the acceptance of my depression would fall around Mental Health Awareness Month. Last year, I had paid no attention to it; this year, I am excited to pay homage to it. However, like most celebrations over the past couple of months, this will be spent with the looming effects of the global pandemic COVID-19. It’s hard to believe that it has almost been a year since I’ve had one of the most pivotal conversations of my young adult life—and it started with one simple question from a coworker:
“How are you really doing?”
This led me to admit to something I had been resisting for almost 10 years: I have depression and I need professional help in order to overcome it. I had mastered the art of masking my mental distress, but I eventually learned that masking is not a cure. It was a painful combination of fear, shame, and resistance.
As a health fitness specialist in the San Francisco/Bay Area, I am supposed to be the hype (wo)man. The one who motivates others to want to make changes to increase their quality of life, but that goes far beyond a number on a scale. It also entails the social, emotional, and spiritual aspects of life. I realized that if I wanted to be authentic in my career, it was going to require me to step outside of myself and seek help. In order to celebrate change, and to encourage it in others, I needed to embrace it wholeheartedly in my own life first.
I remember sitting in the waiting room of my therapist’s office and filling out the initial assessment forms.
Circle what applies to you.
Circling depression is what made it all real.
Depression is something that I’ve known has always lived inside of me, but I was too afraid to say it out loud. I was afraid of the stigma that comes with the words: depression, anxiety, and therapy.
After a handful of sessions, my therapist helped me realize that those stigmas would only become a reality if I chose to breathe life into them. I have to constantly remind myself that I am on a journey of self-discovery, understanding, and self-compassion.
As a “recovering perfectionist and an aspiring ‘good-enoughist’” (thank you, Brené Brown), this has been an incredibly difficult year for me. Taking the time to chip away these walls I have built and become comfortable with openness and transparency is one of the scariest things I have ever done, but knowing that I have been able to overcome each fall by embracing and learning from each situation were signs of growth.
That growth has been tested daily since the start of this pandemic. Not only have I had to call on existing tools to preserve the progress that I’ve made, but I have also been pushed to develop new tools to help overcome the challenges that have risen over the past seven weeks. The biggest question that needed to be addressed: What if I can’t handle this anymore? Will that mean that all the progress I’ve made over the past year will have been for nothing?
In an attempt to calm my anxious mind, I have been able to uncover one of the most important tools: reflection. Now is the time to reflect on just how far I’ve come and to start actively developing a routine that utilizes each of the tools I have learned over the past year. While everyone is different and deals with their journeys of self-discovery and mental health differently, these are some tools that have helped me when I’ve recognized it’s time for action.
By reading an hour before bed, I am able to give my mind an opportunity to escape our crazy pandemic reality and to start exploring new techniques to facilitate growth. These are some books that have helped to provide that for me:
I found a journal that has “BLOOM” written across the cover. For me, this serves as a reminder that the “blooming” process takes time, and that the environment I create will determine whether I will wilt or bloom. I don’t journal every day because a strict regimen in regard to self-expression creates a toxic perfectionist monster in my mind. Instead, I use this tool when I need a place to vent, to remind myself that I am strong, but that I don’t need to have everything figured out right now.
Today, not only is fitness my career, but it has also become a physical representation of growth and success. I have a personal trainer. He and the rest of the Red Dot Fitness community have helped me uncover strength that I didn’t realize I had. By having a place where I can be surrounded by inspiring and passionate individuals, I always walked out of there feeling renewed.
During these weeks of quarantine, they have still been able to provide this sense of revival for me through live workouts and personal training sessions. They have been able to provide a sense of community even during this time of social distancing.
In the past, I had tried to implement meditation into my routine, but it never worked because my approach to meditation was all wrong. The idea of being and remaining present is difficult for a naturally anxious perfectionist like me, but the guided meditations from Headspace have taught me that it is natural for the mind to go off track. Actively navigating my thoughts and emotions, when times get hard, is something I never thought I had the strength to do.
Every tool in my toolbox may seem quite simple, but what makes them highly effective is that I’ve discovered how and why they give me strength. I’ve allowed myself to gain a better sense of self-compassion, a working understanding of the importance of communication, and the power that arises when you take the time to slow down and breathe—and it’s hard to believe that it all started with one simple question of how am I really doing?
Recognizing your mental state, and then healing, doesn’t happen overnight; it is an ever-growing process. I hope that by sharing in my story you might allow others some room to breathe and practice being kind to yourself--especially during these trying times. While I may be celebrating one year of healing this month, practicing and respecting your mental health is a lifelong commitment, and I will forever be walking that journey alongside you.
Witnessing this beauty generates love
Be pure love
If you need some guidance in managing your stress levels during this time of transition, I am seeing clients in my studio for private consultations, now we are in level two.
Message, phone or email if you would like to know more.
In love & light Leonie
When we think about health, we usually think about diet and exercise. We think about the things we are doing for our physical body to promote wellness. But what about the things we can’t see?
Relationships are a big one. And we now know that loneliness and social isolation are as dangerous for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day! That’s an incredible comparison; one that hopefully puts into perspective how vital healthy relationships and human connection are to our wellbeing and longevity.
Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I talk with Dr. Vivek Murthy about nurturing greater connection and what it means for our health.
Dr. Murthy served as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States between 2014-2017. As the Vice Admiral of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, he commanded a uniformed service of 6,600 public health officers globally. During his tenure, Dr. Murthy launched the TurnTheTide campaign, catalyzing a movement among health professionals to address the nation’s opioid crisis. He also issued the first Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, calling for expanded access to prevention and treatment and for recognizing addiction as a chronic illness, not a character flaw.
In 2017, Dr. Murthy focused his attention on chronic stress and loneliness as prevalent problems that have profound implications for health, productivity, and happiness. His book Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World was just published on April 28th.
Some of us might wonder how we break out of a rut of loneliness—as busy adults this can sometimes feel especially difficult. Dr. Murthy walks us through some really simple ways to get more connected. Service is one way, which actually stimulates the reward center of the brain and promotes feel-good chemicals. That means devoting some time to helping others in one way or another is actually beneficial to our own personal wellness goals.
Another step we can take is committing just ten to fifteen minutes a day to talking to someone we love, which is a powerful way to keep ourselves happy and connected during this time of coronavirus quarantine. Pick up the phone, schedule a video call, or sit down with someone in your family and have a real conversation (without the distraction of screens) about what’s going on with you. Chances are if you open up, they will too, and you’ll both be healthier for it.
Instead of thinking of just the right inputs for health, I invite you to think about what you can give back and how you can reach out to others.
I hope you’ll tune in to this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy to think more deeply about your relationships and how to prevent loneliness, even if you’re currently alone at home.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
What can I do to support & love my body?
Breathe work - breathe is key & free! A negative thought or belief will have an effect on your physical body. With this awareness, focus on the following.
Place your hands on your heart and take 3 deep breathes, this will help calm your sympathetic nervous system & bring you into the present moment.
Count to 4 while you inhale through your nose
Hold your breath while counting to 7
Count to 8 as you slowly exhale through your mouth
This helps you to release any fear, anxiety, tension, or energy that’s not serving you.
Repeat at least 2 more rounds, tuning into your body.
Carry on, for a few more deep breathes, if you feel you need too, your body will thank you for it.
Be gentle on yourself. If breathe work is new to you, start off slowly.
Try doing this once a day either first thing when you rise or before you to to bed.
It's the little daily gifts to yourself, that create big shifts in your wellness.
It is our innate nature to want to survive, alleviate the stress & thrive. We need to honor our bodies through our everyday, healthy choices, and find some deeper sense of peace.
We need to find acceptance of our current situation rather than resist it.
Over the last several days I have been feeling rather distracted and scattered with my hyperactive mind. I have tried to collate information from my own experiences, and so many others, to share, and to help empower you to take an active role in your wellness. This way you are able to take some practical steps to give yourself a greater sense of ease.
This list of symptoms is taken from Gregg Braden’s You Tube video Truth and Fiction Coronavirus, which I would highly recommend, to give you some clarity around the global pandemic and what actions to take.
I would also like to express thanks to all those who have imparted science, ancient wisdom and generous support and love, of whom there are many.
“The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well.” Hippocrates
Some tips to help you support & maintain your optimal wellness
Set your intention to gain & maintain your optimal wellness.
. wash and dry your hands after touching surfaces
. cover for a cough or sneeze
. if you are sick stay at home
. social distancing NOT social isolation – call people especially the elderly
Your Natural Defenses
Your body knows what to do! When we support our body for what it is designed to do. Honor your body.
. strengthen your immune system
. relieve stress
. good sleep habits
. movement and exercise
. nutrition & supplements
. communication, collaboration & community
Tools – What can I do to support & love my body?
Breathe work - breathe is key & free! A negative thought or belief will have an effect on your physical body. With this awareness try the following: (there are many more examples of breathe work):
To help calm the sympathetic nervous system place your hands on your heart and take 3 deep breathes:
Count to 4 while you inhale
Hold your breathe while counting to 7
Count to 8 as you slowly exhale, helping to release any fear & anxiety, or energy that’s not serving you.
Repeat at least 2 more rounds, tuning into your body, and carry on for as long as you feel you need to.
Movement, exercise, dance, sing, play – do what ever brings you joy! Crank up the music.
Nature Heals – get into the outdoors as often as you are able.
Nutrition – stay hydrated & eat as many wholefoods as you can – local, seasonal, unprocessed, living, nutrient dense, high fibre, organic/spray free/GM free when possible. Stimulate your sense of smell & taste, & support your well-being with herbs and spices. Plant a garden, even if you only have room for a few pots.
Ask your health practitioner regarding health supplements to support your optimal wellness & boost your immunity ie vitamin C, Zinc, anti-viral preparations.
“If there is only one thing you can do to have a healthier body is to have a healthier gut. There is nothing more powerful to protect you than to have a healthy micro biome, or there is nothing more powerful than to have a healthier micro biome, to have a healthier brain function.” Dr Mark Hyman
“We are the health of all our cells. “ Dr Libby Weaver
Surrender & self-love practices like yoga, meditation, try to be patient and present (being mindful), express gratitude for what you do have. Listen to your intuition, your innate self, where the true wisdom lies. Emotional Freedom Technique – tapping on meridian points on the body, derived from acupuncture, can release energy blockages that can cause negative emotions. There are lots of great sites and videos offering you various yoga, breathing, tapping & meditation practices.
Social connection – have clear boundaries, beware of the conversations you have, choose carefully who you spend your free time with, & avoid too much media. Show compassion and kindness to yourself, family, friends and the wider community. “Community builds Immunity” Dr LeRoy. Connect with people and share.
Be gentle on yourself – it’s OK to feel anxious, angry, afraid or unsafe. Allow yourself to express your feelings, and then practice some self-love. Try to minimize or remove triggers that stress you. Take control of your mind, adjust your thoughts & perspective of your experiences – what’s the benefits in this I’m not seeing? Ensure you have daily expressions of gratitude.
Create a bedtime ritual – try to clear your mind prior to going to bed ie turn off IT by 7pm – phone, computer, TV. Try journaling, reading, a bath in Epsom salts & essential oils, a foot soak in a bucket if you don’t have a bath, self massage or offer to give a massage, listen to your circadian rhythm, eat at regular times, & rise with the sun, & sleep as soon after sunset as your routine allows. These sorts of practices will help you slip into the parasympathetic nervous system with more ease, enabling your body to rest, digest, reproduce & rejuvenate.
Tweak you personal hygiene habits including cleaning – door handles, key boards, phones, steering wheels, kitchen benches, bathrooms, etc. Wash hand towels, tea towels, towels, clothes, etc, regularly. Use antiseptic solutions – you can make your own with essential oils – recipes on the internet.
More words from Gregg Braden
What can we expect? It depends on our response – individually & collectively. We are now beyond the containment window.
Mitigation phase – defined: The action of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something.
When we are self-isolating ourselves we are giving a gift to ourselves and others, to reflect, find peace, heal and express gratitude.
A New Normal:
. shifts in society
. shifts in economies (sharing of vital resources)
. shifts in lifestyle – more localized.
An awakening of Consciousness – supported by so many beautiful beings.
This is an opportunity to love more, serve, and support.
Keep shining your own unique and bright light.
In health & happiness Leonie Main
For more powerful & illuminating insights from Dr Christiane Northrup, check out her interview with Jessica Ortner on "Dodging energy vampires: An empath's guide to evading relationships that drain you & restoring your health & power". This interview is through facebook, tap on the link below to listen to the interview or google if this doesn't work for you :)
To celebrate fashion icon Coco Chanel we take a look at some lesser known facts about the legendary designer.
Chanel’s sewing trade was taught to her by none other than the nuns who ran the Aubazine Abbey, an orphanage where she grew up. Both she and her sister Julia were sent there after their mother died.
at age 18, Chanel was too old to remain at the Abbey and faced the choice of becoming a nun or heading out in to the world. In these early years she would sing at a Moulin-rouge style cabaret frequented by officers.
It was in these formative years that Chanel, born Gabrielle, would acquire her nickname Coco from her male admirers who possibly chose the name based on the two popular songs with which they remembered her performances by, “Ko Ko Ri Ko”, and “Qui qu’a vu Coco”,
For years Chanel claimed to be born in 1893 instead of 1883 – making her 10 years younger. Before you laugh, it may not have been for the reason you are thinking. It was apparently done to diminish the stigma that her humbler beginnings of poverty, illegitimacy and orphanhood bestowed upon her in 19th century France.
After meeting a rich ex-military officer and textile heir Etienne Balsan, Chanel became his mistress and moved in to his chateau in 1908, aged 23. It was their she began her interest in fashion designing and creating hats for rich acquaintances as a diversion, which eventually led to her commercial venture – a millinery shop in Paris (financed by her lover of nine years a wealthy English Industrialist called Arthur Edward ‘Boy’ Capel – a friend of Balsan, who sadly died in 1919)
If it wasn’t for her looser designs and relaxed style – achieved through the use of jersey that up until then had been used for men’s underwear – women might still be wearing restricting and uncomfortable corseted clothing. thankfully the generation of women loved her for it and so Maison Chanel was established at 31, Rue Cambon in Paris (which remains its headquarters even today). Becoming a fashion force to be reckoned with in Paris, thanks to her striking bob haircut and tan, the mother of modern style launched her own fragrance in 1922 – which remains popular the world over.
World War II was a turbulent time for the designer. In 1939 she closed the doors to her shop in Paris and became a war-time nurse but after the war fled controversy surrounding her affair with a German officer and headed to Switzerland. In 1954 she would end this self-imposed exile and return to Paris to take on the men dominating the fashion industry – introducing pea jackets and bell bottoms.
A broadway musical of Chanel’s life opened in 1969 with Hepburn taking on the role of the designer – we’re sure that she had Coco’s renowned unabashed confidence down pat.
In October 1926 Chanel unveils the Little Black Dress. Done in the ‘flapper’ style that marked the design of this era, Vogue anoints the LBD design “the frock that all the world will wear” – how right they were!
Having worked furiously to finish her latest couture collection, Chanel dies in 1971 aged 88. Two weeks after her death the ivory tweed suits and white evening dresses are sent to the runway and met with a standing ovation.
Thanks MiNDFOOD for article.
"My life didn't please me, so I created my life." Coco Chanel
|Have you ever met someone who seems perfect – polished, attractive, kind, generous, maybe even successful – yet the more you get to know them, the more you realize that they’re actually self-centered, manipulative and deceitful? Their perfection is simply a façade put on so the world holds them in high esteem.
If you or someone you know is an empath or highly sensitive person, you may easily be pulled in by people like this. I call them energy vampires. They appeal to your generosity, your compassion and your innate problem-solving nature. But, as psychologist Sandra L. Brown, M.A. says, these are “relationships of inevitable harm.”
In my second free video, I delve deeply into the mechanics of energy vampires – how they can zero in on you in a crowd based on your empathic traits and get their hooks in you if you aren’t careful. I will also give you some pointers on how you can protect yourself, and skillfully tiptoe out of their clutches before you fall prey.
|Watch Wellness Video 2:
Protect Yourself from Energy Predators with These Techniques
|After you watch my video, I am confident you will have a clearer idea of who and what an energy vampire is, as well as what you can do to avoid them for good. If you missed my first video, which will help you know if you’re an empath, you can still catch it here for a little while longer:|
|Watch Wellness Video 1:
How Empathy Can Protect You
|Once you watch these videos, head to the comment section and share your thoughts about these first two lessons so far on this journey. I’d love to hear about your experiences with energy vampires and as an empath.
I have two more free videos coming your way over the next few days. In the next one, I will show you exactly how you can begin to protect yourself and recover your life force after interacting with an energy vampire.
And, if you know an empath who may be vulnerable to the energy vampires in their midst, make sure to share this video with them so that they, too, can get some benefit from this invaluable series.
Christiane Northrup, M.D.
|If you’ve ever been told you’re “too sensitive” it’s likely you are part of a group of highly sensitive people called empaths.
Empaths interact with the world differently than even an extremely compassionate person. We can sense the true energy of a person, seeing their deep, frequently unseen pain often before they do. We sense it because it shifts our own energy, affecting us on multiple levels.
There’s also another group of people that I call energy vampires. Energy vampires can be exquisitely appealing to everyone. They’re charming, fun, successful, and yet their impact is insidious for those who get caught in their grip. More often than not, those getting caught are empaths who are not in touch with their own light and intuition.
If you are an empath in a relationship with an energy vampire, you may not feel it now, but eventually you will be worn down—both physically and emotionally. As someone who’s been on the frontlines of women’s healthcare for decades, I believe this is actually one of the most under-identified causes of ill health. And that’s why I’ve put together this free wellness workshop.
By signing up to receive my four free videos, you’ll learn simple ways to identify, cast out, and heal from energy vampires. In my first video, I share personal stories and stories of others to help explain what it’s like to be an empath—and then help you understand what an energy vampire is and what happens when you get entangled with them.
|Watch Wellness Video 1:
How Empathy Can Protect You
|If you don’t know you’re an empath and you don’t know how energy vampires work, you are apt to be preyed upon.
Please be sure to leave me a comment on the video page to share your own experience as an empath or with energy vampires. Also, if you think anyone else would benefit from this video, please share it with them. And stay tuned for my next three videos in this wellness workshop.
Christiane Northrup, M.D.
Would you take a daily pill if it was scientifically proven to benefit your brain by increasing focus; reducing stress, anxiety, and depression; and improving memory, emotional awareness, and overall happiness? What if it wasn’t through taking a pill, but simply the act of sitting still, for even just one minute a day?
This week’s guest on The Doctor’s Farmacy is here to share that it is, in fact, possible to reap huge benefits in a short amount of time. Journalist and ABC news anchor Dan Harris turned his life around using the power of mindfulness and meditation; he was able to stop self-medicating with drugs, end his struggle with panic attacks, and focus on building a successful, balanced life instead.
Initially, Dan was a skeptic of the power of meditation. He didn't think science could back up the benefits… until he saw the research for himself.
Studies show that meditation works, in part due to its role in growing the beneficial grey matter in the brain, and Dan witnessed the effects himself once he gave it an honest try. His experience led him to write two New York Times best-selling books on the topic in an effort to help other fidgety skeptics embrace the medicinal properties of meditation.
Throughout our talk, Dan explains the proven impacts of meditation with a down-to-earth perspective and provides realistic steps for how to incorporate it into your own life, one minute at a time.
Dan shares his personal journey, from experiencing a panic attack on-air in front of millions to becoming a calmer, more mindful person, on this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’ve ever wondered if meditation really works and just what the science says, this episode is for you.
I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
In Part 1, we looked at how a consistent sleep routine enhances the quality of rest and rejuvenation. In Part 2, we focused on synchronising our sleep routine with nature’s doshic rhythm and in Part 3, we looked at practices that help you relax in the evening. Now we look at some more evening routines for better sleep.
Avoid backlit screens
Turn of all electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. Backlit screens interfere with your biological clock and fool your body into thinking its daytime, straining your eyes and stimulating your mind. Spend this time with yourself. Indulge in soothing meditation or self-reflection, listen to relaxing music, or read an uplifting book (although not in bed!).
Avoid reading in bed
Reading in the bed can confuse the body by signalling for sleep and alertness at the same time. Designate a place to sit down and read. Avoid reading excessively emotional or distressing content. If you struggle with sleeping, try giving up bedtime reading.
Keep a journal
Spend a few minutes writing about your day to clear your mind and remove any residual emotions associated with the day’s events.
A soothing glass of milk
If your system allows it, drink a glass of warm milk, with a pinch of cardamom and honey, to promote deep sleep.
Relax your body
Once in bed, consciously relax your entire body. Bring your awareness to each part of the body and will it to relax itself. Then focus on your breathing and gently drift into sleep.
Sleep according to your dosha
Vata types may suffer from irregular sleep routines and have to take extra effort to establish a daily sleep routine. Go to bed at the same time every day, even if you don’t feel sleepy. Sleep on your left side to encourage breathing through your right nostril, to promote heat.
Pitta types tend to easily get disturbed from their sleep. Keep your bedroom quiet and fragrant. Sleep on your right side to encourage breathing through your left nostril, for cooling.
Kapha types have a tendency to oversleep and this causes imbalance. Ensure you wake up before 6 am. Sleep on your left side to promote heating.
Incorporating all these practices into your daily life may sound daunting. Choose a few of these that appeal to you most and commit to doing them every day. As you become comfortable, you can gradually add more practices into your routine. Observe how your body feels and celebrate the small improvements—these are your body’s way of thanking you.
EVENING DINACHARYA, PART 3: RELAXING ROUTINES
By Shyam Kumar for Yogibeings
In Part 1, we looked at how Ayurveda considers sleep to be essential for good health and how establishing a consistent sleep routine goes a long way in enhancing the quality of rest and rejuvenation. Part 2 explained how the night is governed by different doshas at different times and how to synchronise your sleep routine with nature’s rhythm. Now, let’s look at establishing a soothing evening routine to help you wind down and prepare for a night of restful sleep.
Following a regular routine reassures your body that everything is well, providing a tremendous sense of comfort. Establishing a daily evening routine ensures that, with time, the body learns that these are signals that the day is ending and to prepare for a good night’s rest. It’s important to be consistent with the routine. Here are some things that you can incorporate into your evening routine:
Avoid that evening cup of coffee
Drinking coffee or any other stimulant prevents your brain from responding to fatigue, instead making you feel fresh and energetic. This causes problems in trying to sleep early. If you are suffering from sleep-related problems, cutting down on caffeine may go a long way in helping you sleep better.
Turn down the lights
Our biological clocks are highly sensitive to light. For most living beings, sunset is a signal that the day is winding down and it’s time to rest. In today’s modern life, there is so much artificial lighting that it severely interferes with the natural biological response to sleep. One of the best things you can do is to dim the lights at home as the sun goes down. This sends the signal to your body that the day is ending.
It’s best to reduce strenuous physical and mental activity at least two hours before bedtime.
Have an early dinner
Have an early dinner to ensure that the food is completely digested before you sleep. This prevents the accumulation of toxic waste (ama) in your body, which could make you feel dull and lethargic. It’s ideal to leave a gap of three hours between dinner and sleep time. To get used to eating early, you can begin by eating a lighter dinner than usual.
Wash your face
Wash your face with lukewarm water, preferably using an Ayurvedic cleanser. This cleanses the dirt accumulated through the day, removes oil from the pores and helps your skin breathe at night.
Massage your feet and scalp
Take a few drops of oil and do a slow, relaxing massage of your scalp. Wash and dry your feet and apply a few drops of oil slowly from heel to toe in slow, circular movements of your palm. This removes excess heat and relaxes the entire body.
In Part 4, we shall look at a few more things you can do before bedtime and how to incorporate these into our daily lives.
In Part 1, we looked the vital role of sleep in maintaining overall health, improving immunity and enhancing cognitive function. Establishing a consistent sleep and wake time goes a long way in enhancing the quality of rest and rejuvenation. Now, let’s see how different parts of the night are governed by different doshas, and how to synchronise our sleep routine with nature’s rhythm.
Ayurveda divides each day into two cycles:
1) The solar cycle which begins at 6 am and ends at 6 pm.
2) The lunar cycle which begins at 6 pm and ends at 6 am.
The lunar cycle plays an important role in establishing sleep rhythm. This twelve-hour period is divided into three intervals of four hours each. The first interval from 6 pm to 10 pm is dominated by Kapha, the second interval from 10 pm to 2 am is dominated by Pitta, and the third interval from 2 am to 6 am is dominated by Vata. This fundamental understanding, along with knowledge of the current season and your doshic constitution helps establish a proper evening routine that is in harmony with the doshic influences.
Ayurveda recommends going to sleep before 10 pm. During this time our bodies are dominated by Kapha’s earthy, stable and grounding properties—ideal for a deep, soothing sleep. The period from 10 pm to 2 am is dominated by Pitta, whose qualities are intense, hot, sharp and acidic. This might make you feel energetic, impatient to be active, and prevent you from falling asleep. Staying awake at this time causes a phenomenon called second wind, where you stop feeling drowsy even when you are exhausted. Moreover, Pitta increases the digestive fire and leaves you craving that midnight snack!
The time dominated by Pitta is used by the body to repair its tissues, clean out toxins, enhance your immune system and perform daily maintenance tasks. This is also when the mind processes the undigested thoughts and emotions caused during the day and comes to terms with them.
Pitta gives way to Vata dominance at around 2 am and the atmosphere is dominated by qualities of lightness, mobility and coolness. The body begins the process of waking up around this time. Ayurveda advises getting up an hour and a half before sunrise when Vata dominates, so you can begin the day feeling light and refreshed.
Sleeping fewer hours in harmony with these cycles can leave you feeling more relaxed and energetic than sleeping longer hours going to bed late. However, falling asleep early is not easy for many of us. In Part 3, we look at establishing a simple evening routine that helps us to wind down and get ready for a night of soothing sleep.
Do you wake up in the middle of the night, fully awake and unable to go back to sleep? Do you start your mornings in a state of exhaustion? Do you find yourself unable to fall asleep at night even though you are tired? Most of these stem from our irregular work schedules which have made food and sleep patterns and our lifestyle in general increasingly erratic. These irregularities affect our metabolic rhythm and lead to tiredness, heartburn, loss of appetite and other health complications.
Ayurveda highly recommends establishing a daily rhythm, “Dinacharya", taking into account your constitution and the cycles of nature. Adhering to Dinacharya ensures tri-doshic balance and provides a deep sense of relaxation, enhancing overall wellness. In this series, we will be looking at establishing a daily evening rhythm that leads to restful sleep.
Sleep is of fundamental importance in Ayurveda. It allows the body and mind to relax deeply, detoxify and rejuvenate. This is the time the body needs for tissue repair, muscle growth, removal of metabolic wastes, and enhancing immune function. Quality of sleep has a direct impact on our cognitive functions including level of attention and our ability to learn. Therefore it’s vital to get a good night of sleep.
Ayurveda gives no universal recommendation for the ideal duration of sleep. Based on your constitution, this may vary between 6-8 hours. Kapha predominant body types need little sleep and Vata types need the most. Too much sleep can imbalance doshas and causes dullness and lethargy. More than eight hours of sleep are recommended only for pregnant women, the aged and the sick.
Merely sleeping the right number of hours isn’t enough to ensure good sleep quality. It’s important to establish a consistent sleep routine with predictable sleep and wake times. This helps the body settle into a daily rhythm. Once you have understood the duration of sleep required for you, fix a wake up time, preferably early in the morning. Then work backwards to decide on your sleep time. Regularly adhering to these times creates a deep rhythm in the body and leads to a night of relaxing and refreshing sleep.
In Part 2, we shall explore the doshic nature of each part of the night and how it affects our sleep rhythm. Adjusting our sleep routine according to these greatly enhances the quality of rest.
Clemens Arvay, MSc
19 February 2018
New research, like the Journal of Adolescent Health study that found that teens who have more access to green space tend to be happier, continues to reinforce the idea that humans are intricately connected to the natural environment. Our entire body is constantly communicating and acting in tandem with our surroundings. But how can something as simple as spending time outside possibly make us healthier? Let's dive into the science.
The real reason being outside is so healing.
The Japanese tradition of Shinrin-yoku, "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing," is proof of concept. In this case, the term "bathing" does not mean swimming in some sort of wooded lake. Instead, it's about diving into a forest with all of our senses. In 1982, the National Forest Authorities of Japan suggested advertising Shinrin-yoku to the public and promoting its immune-boosting powers. And today, taking in the forest atmosphere is officially a recognized method of preventing disease and supplementing treatment in the country. The National Institute of Public Health of Japan promotes Shinrin-yoku, universities study it, and hospitals use it as an Rx.
When you breathe in the woods, you are inhaling a cocktail of bioactive substances released by plants. One of these groups of substances is called terpenes. They're usually emitted from leaves, pine needles, tree trunks, and the thick bark of some trees. We absorb these gaseous terpenes partially through our skin, but especially through the lungs. Terpenes also flow out of bushes, herbs, and shrubs among the understory, along with mushrooms, mosses, and ferns, too. Even thin layers of foliage on the forest floor emit them. So, safe to say, if you're outside and can see any sort of tree material, you're getting a dose of terpenes.
While forest medicine is under no circumstances a replacement for conventional medical check-ups, scientific studies have discovered the forest air is like an old friend to our bodies. Some of these terpenes have been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, and neuroprotective activities, making forest air like a healing elixir we inhale. Even though terpenes come from trees, mushrooms, and herbs that are communicating with one another, our immune system can also decode them. Like other plants, we respond to terpenes by strengthening our body's defenses. Doctors of forest medicine know that anti-cancer terpenes have a direct impact on the immune system as well as an indirect impact on the endocrine system. For example, they help us deal with stress by lowering our cortisol levels.
Forest bathing has also been found to enhance something called natural killer cells, another defense against diseases like cancer. Those who spend merely one day in the forest will have more natural killer cells in their blood for seven days thereafter. Those who are in the woods for two or three days have elevated levels for another 30 days. It's incredible to think that we get these long-lasting health benefits simply by existing in the woods. We don't have to go on a trail run or rigorous hike (though those things are great too); just breathing and being in communion with trees is enough.
This knowledge totally changed the way I look at nature. Now, when I walk through the woods, I feel like I’m diving into an enormous living organism. I'm becoming a part of it, and we're breathing and communicating together.
Practical ways to make your next trip into the forest even more fulfilling:
1. The content of the anti-cancer terpenes in the forest air changes over the seasons. The highest concentration is in summer, and the lowest is in winter. They increase rapidly in April and May and reach their peak in June and August. Try to go out during these months if you can!
2. You can find the highest concentration of terpenes in the middle of the forest since tree population is the densest there. This dense canopy prevents gaseous terpenes from escaping too. Try to go farther into the woods instead of lingering on the edges when you can.
3. When the air is moist—after rain or during fog, for example—a particularly large amount of healthy terpenes will be swirling around the atmosphere. So if you've ever felt especially great during a walk in the woods after a rain shower, you're not alone!
Breathing is an extraordinary event. Not only does it bring oxygen to your cells, but also gives your organs, endocrine system & inner connective tissue a massage from the inside out with every breath.
YogaAlign's breathing exercises are designed to help you fully awaken, supercharge & recode your breath & posture at the nervous system level.
When you breathe in, try moving the ribs out in all directions as though you are inflating a balloon. As you inhale your outer rib muscles pull the ribs apart as your diaphragm contracts downwards, creating more space in the chest area & allowing the lungs to expand & fill with air.
As you exhale, notice the internal intercostal muscles pulling the ribs back together, while the outer muscles of the abdomen & waist area contract & press the air out.
Take a few moments each day to ground yourself with a few deep breaths, toning, lengthening & strengthening.
"The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow & gain wisdom, first you must have the mud - the obstacles of life & its suffering. The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying & death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness & more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus & open each petal one by one."
Meditation was a gift I gave myself for my birthday four months ago. I started with a simple 10-minute, guided meditation in the mornings, and some days felt so rejuvenated that I finished the day with another, longer meditation.
I found beautiful places in my neighborhood where I could sit comfortably by the water and stare out at nature, completely unburdened by the confines of my home.
I meditated every single day, and my life was changing rapidly for the better. My relationship with myself was easier, my anxiety was more manageable, and my relationships with others were improving every day. My professional life was taking off so rapidly that I really believed I was manifesting abundance and creativity through my daily meditations.
And then I went on vacation and didn't meditate because I didn't need it because my day-to-day anxiety didn't follow me on vacation. So, I took a break.
And then I came home from vacation, and there was laundry to do and bills to pay and work to catch up on, and I convinced myself
I would meditate tomorrow. At the end of two weeks of ignoring my daily meditation practice, I felt terrible inside and out.
My body and mind were craving something as simple as the routine of sitting alone for a few minutes each day, clearing my mind, and meditating. I never would have anticipated how rapidly I would feel the absence of meditation in my life, but after two weeks, here's what happened:
1. I was exhausted.
I wasn't sleeping, and my bedtime routine fell to the wayside. Even if I managed to stay in my bed for eight hours, I was having restless sleep with anxiety dreams that would keep me up. Some nights I would be too tired to even make it to my bed and opt instead to fall asleep on the couch. I started the day tired and ended the day exhausted.
2. My creativity tanked.
I had hoped that a week in the Rocky Mountains would lead to creative breakthroughs in my writing, but returning home only returned
me to the minutiae of everyday life, leaving no room for the creative rebirth I had been anticipating.
3. I said yes too often.
Too often, I made plans on top of plans when I should have been carving out time to meditate and to reengage my self-care routine. Instead, I made plans when I was exhausted and came home only more exhausted and unable to carve out the 10 minutes
I desperately needed to meditate to reset.
4. I stopped eating well.
Takeout and delivery became the norm while I ran around in a constant state of busy. I started using "busy" as an excuse for why I wasn't meditating and watched it morph into an excuse for eating junk.
5. Everything hurt.
My head, my back, and my stomach were all in a knot after two weeks of forgoing meditation. A combination of anxiety, lack of sleep, and a poor diet contributed to the complete dismantling of my physical health in real time.
The next time I catch myself thinking meditation can wait until tomorrow, I'll try to recall how quickly I felt the effects of slipping out of the routine. The good news is, meditation is always waiting right where you left it, allowing you to hit the reset button on the damage done.