Begin your meditation practice with grounding

I recently learned something new about meditation that has enhanced my practice immensely! It is the incorporation of the simple idea of grounding.

When I “ground” myself, I find that I can expand my consciousness more. And I can sit cross-legged on the cushion for the full 10 or 20 minute session. (before I tried this, I really couldn’t)

I had done meditations with the chakra system many times before. And I liked it, but I never was compelled to do it over and over. As with any meditation, sometimes it feels absolutely orgasmic! And sometimes it is just okay. I am finding that if I ground myself at the beginning, more often, I have an experience that will make sure I choose to take this time for myself to meditate everyday.

The root chakra is the scarlet colored one at the very base of the body. To ground myself at the beginning of my meditation, I imagine that I am lighting it up brightly with my breath! I see the red blood flow behind my eyes. I remember how embers glow when they have air blown on them in a hot fire. I squeeze my perineum and I see red!

Once I can feel my root chakra radiating, I remember that the center of the earth is molten lava, burning red! I imagine my root chakra reaching down to merge with this red center. It hears me beckoning and sends it’s lava flow up to touch me, to serve me. We are connected. I am one with the earth and I am one with all beings whose blood is red. I assimilate!

Now I am free to let go of anything that I do not need or want in my life. There is comfort in knowing we, red-blooded humans are all alike in this need to release. I allow those ideas, things, ways of thinking, whatever I choose here to drop away into the molten lava. The ashes will be deposited onto the earth somewhere to enrich it. And the smoke carries away my guilt.

Rhythmic breathing makes room in my body, and in my mind for the best part! This is the whole reason I have lit that candle, closed my thumbs and forefingers together and put my buns on that cushion. Expansion! And with my vessel stretched wide open, I can fill it with all the ideas, things, people, situations, and ways of thinking that I want.

Sometimes I am very glad I set the timer, because I feel like otherwise, I would never come down. Other days, well, when I am done, I am done. All is well here and there is always tomorrow!

No Junk Food!

My teen aged daughter told me that she had eaten “Tuna Helper” at her friends house. “Oh my gosh Joanna! Don’t eat Tuna helper! That is old food!!”  I blurted my surprisingly strong reaction.  I was shocked.  I am the no junk food preacher. Both my daughters regularly confess to me what no no’s they eat.  They love that raised eyebrows look of horror on my face. They know that I want to know and they oblige me.  It is a game to them.  It is not a game to me.

“What’s wrong with Tuna Helper?” Joanna asked. I warn against eating things like the french fries at school lunch, or the Doritos at Britt’s house, gummy bears from the kid on the bus.  I plead with them to go easy on this kind of stuff.  But Tuna Helper?  My girl was taken aback with my agitation.

Packaged and prepared food is old!  That is why manufacturers put in preservatives and artificial color!  I found an article that rather supports this claim.  Here is an exerpt:

By Martha Filipic (614) 292-9833 filipic.3@cfaes.osu.edu

Editor: This column was reviewed by Lydia Medeiros, food safety specialist with Ohio State University Extension, researcher with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and professor in the Department of Human Nutrition in the College of Education and Human Ecology.

Just how old are those packaged foods? It could be hard to tell. The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require an expiration date for shelf-stable foods, since the storage time for these foods is a quality issue and not a food safety concern. But if you’re curious, you may be able to find out if those foods are older than Methuselah by looking for clues on the packages and contacting the manufacturer.

I say rather because food safety is not what I was so alarmed about.  No. Eating Tuna Helper, even if it has been in the pantry for a couple of years won’t kill you, right away!  No. But, all the stuff that is in there to keep it “shelf-stable” is not usable by the body.  Once ingested it becomes lodged in the liver, or the kidneys or it is deposited into our fat cells.  Over time this spells toxicity.

That is what I am talking about.  Real food is not toxic.  The body digests real food completely and is nourished, and energized as a result.

My daughter is reading Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser for school.   During the class discussion, my daughter spoke up and said that she has no junk food in her house.  The teacher, yes, the teacher, looked at her and said, “I feel sorry for you.”   My daughter does realize that our no junk food status at home is not the norm.  We fight about it because of people like her teacher and her friend’s dad who regularly serves Tuna Helper think it really is okay to eat stuff that is not nutritionally sound.  I don’t think it is okay.

There are many many absolutely amazing tasting foods that not only serve, and support  our bodies, but delight us!  Google up a recipe!  Crack a cookbook!  Make something out of fresh ingredients.  Enjoy a fresh food restaurant.  It is worth the time, effort (and expense) and your liver will thank you. However, your teenagers will eat what everybody else is eating.

A Pod of Whales

Imagine what it would be like to swim in a pod of whales!  Feel the beautiful water gliding over my skin. Hear the breathing of my “family” so near me.  All of us together with a similar intent and destination.

As we began in yoga class, I set my intention with the first utterance in my head,  “Enjoy your body Shayla.“

I was fortunate to be situated in between 2 audible breathers! Hearing their breath, moving in and out helped me get to a place in my practice, deep and tender.  The belonging I felt is so sacred, is so sacred. I felt invincible, like my body was made for what I was doing.

The ujjayi breath I heard from my fellow yoga students is the transformative part of a great yoga experience that you just don’t get from practicing alone. The back of the throat heats the incoming air.  The lungs more easily utilize the oxygen there in.  And the body better responds to commands from the nervous system.  There is that feeling of ease.

Many yoga instructors do prompt their students to breath in and out when appropriate throughout the class.  I am used to that.  But as much as I reach to make my ujjayi breath audible, mostly I cannot hear it, not even from my own throat.

Hearing that breath and feeling the accompanying stimulation from the heightened energy made me feel vastly human and supremely divine at the same time.  (which is what we are! another blog, perhaps) I was sure I could hear my own breath too!

As we exited the yoga class, my boyfriend exclaimed, “Wow! you look amazing!”  I felt amazing!  I had been completely immersed in my yoga class environment.  With the audible uji breath and the elevated energy, the ease of movement, I felt like I had swum in a pod of whales!


I read about 10 easy ways to health in the newspaper

My local newspaper  recdently printed a big article on health.  Thank you Julie Deardorff!  And thank you Orlando Sentinel (orlandosentinel.com/health) for including this comprehensive piece, right now, during the holidays.  All ready I am skipping yoga to go shopping and I am eating a lot of pumpkin bread with loads of cranberries ( giggle, it is the holidays!) instead of my usual sprouted whole wheat.  You too?

Ms. Deardorff begins with the obligatory and very neccessary reminder about hand washing.  I am so appreciative!  No mention of hand sanitizer, just wash your hands and sing Happy Birthday!  Then her article rolls out simply.  Her title: 10 ways to take control of your health.

1. Take a walk I preach this too.  We humans are absolutely built to move.  Find something, or a couple of things you like to do.  Everybody you know needs to move everyday too.  Find a walking, or workout, or sports buddy.

2. Keep a food journal My teenager has this assignment from her personal fitness class.  She finds it to be difficult to write down everything she eats.  She wants to look good on paper!  Over several weeks, our discussion about her foods list has revealed this: if you look good on paper, eventually you’ll feel better about what you are eating and about what you are not eating.

3. Strengthen your muscles If your body is not stimulated, it atrophies.  Pretty simple.

4. Stop drinking soda My mantra!  Soda, sweetened iced tea and Gatorade, (sorry Michael Jordan) even orange juice do not quench thirsts.  Drinking water does. How many teaspoons of sugar are in a can of soda?  find out, watch this video:  http://youtube.com/watch?v=F10EyGwd57M This a tough habit to kick, because the more sweet drinks you drink the more you want them.  ___ teaspoons of sugar in one can of soda!  Get real!  Drink water.  Be happy about it. Watch this video.

5. Chill out Thank you for including this this vial factor in our health consciousness Ms. Deardorff!  We can’t avoid stress.  However, we can learn skills to help us curb our reactions to stressors.  Exercise, deep-breathing, tai chi, yoga, these help you relax more so your immune system can do what it is meant to do, keep us healthy.  Rest and relax in between push ups and sips of water!  Kidding!  Regularly, look out the window or sit on the porch and breathe.  The Beatles were right, Let It Be

6. Eat out less Eating out is a treat for my family and me, but for many people it is a staple activity.   The choices that are affordable many times, have way too much fat, white flour and sugar to be healthy.  Eating at home is labor intensive.  I think it is worth it.

7. Be a social butterfly What an awesome idea to include in a health article!  She quotes the MacArthur Foundation Study of Aging in America “We do not outgrow our need for others.  Loneliness breeds illness and early death”  Find your own birds of a feather and enjoy the flapping!  Yes, it is an effort sometimes.  But we need the stimulation and new ideas that friendships can bring us. Yes, it is good for our health!

8. Get your zzzzz Sleeping well strengthens our immunity and studies show it helps with weigh loss!  If you have trouble sleeping, there are a myriad of ways to solve this problem.  Read up, get help.  Make your bed and bedroom a sanctuary.  Remind yourself it is a privelidge to go into a beautiful bed.  And go!

9. Eat whole foods I grocery shop from the perimeter of the store as much as I can.  That is primarily where the good foods are.  How long has all that stuff in boxes and cans or in the freezer been in there?  I can’t bear to think.  My poor kids are served beautiful baked potatoes with real butter and never happy fries from a bag.  They grunt about it too, that is, until they are eating, and absolutely reveling in the yummy whole foods I make for them.

10. Find your passion Everyday do something that adds meaning to your life.  This is good for your whole self.  I have an organic garden.  Yes, me with my busy life, 2 kids and a big house to take care of, I am doing it.  Slicing a homegrown green pepper into my salad or presenting my neighbor with another tomato makes me feel great!  You hear me bragging?  Yep, that’s living!   Why do you get up in the morning?  Figure it out and do more of that!

10 easy ways, Julie Deardorff says.  Let’s get started!

A holistic health professional surprised me

I take a prescription for synthroid.  My refill calls for a doctor visit.  This week, I had the priviledge of sitting with a holistic health care professional.  www.sajune.com is the website for the fine facility I visited.  During this 45 minute, $150 session I learned a lot about hormones, nutrition and bathroom habits!  It’s not that I didn’t think I would learn a lot.  I knew I would, but it was what this professional emphasised that surprised me.

She explained that our hormone levels control our ability to utilize the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals we have in our bodies. I had always thought nutrition was the basis of great health first.  She later explained what many of us already know, the mind and spirit are what really are foundational to great health.  More on that in future blogs.

The symptoms listed on the medical form I filled out are, among others, sleep problems, irritability, depression, hair loss, dry skin, lethargy.  Having any of these could point toward a hormone imbalance.  This day I learned that because I did not have any of the symptoms on their list, that hormones are not my specific problem.  And even though my synthroid dosage must be alright,  I’ll still have to visit the lab.

For most people, men and women, who come to them not feeling quite right, a battery of blood tests are suggested that include a measure of every vitamin and mineral level including iodine, and, of course the hormone levels.  It is very comprehensive and of course, the cost for it reflects this.  You pay for another half and hour consultation to review the results and to form a plan to correct any imbalances.  The supplements they would recommend might not be in a pill form.  She said there may be other, much more effective ways to achieve desired results!

WOW!  I am thankful that I am well.  I need only to heed a couple of the strong suggestions she made for me and take my synthroid and …. and….  I am not getting the battery of tests.

This is what she recommended for me.  Eat more, more, more  leafy greens!   I already eat really well, but she said that we can always utilize more B vitamins and calcium.  It’s true.  Such a toxic and stress filled world we live in.  These vital nutrients help us with those immensely.  Chinese medicine, (this I learned from my acupuncturist) tells us that green foods help us deal with grief and disappointment.  Greens are life giving, life affirming, gosh, downright hope filled!

This health care professional told me that I must, no matter how good I eat, take a multi-vitamin that is in capsule form.  A tablet might just be too hard to digest completely.  She saw from my medical form that I already exercise regularly and take enzymes.  She asked me to answer honestly when she asked me about bathroom habits.  She said most people don’t sit long enough or often enough.  Thanking Dr. Oz, because he speaks of this on Oprah, she told me that we all should sit at least twice daily producing an S shaped, well you know what I mean.  Anything less, she said is not optimal health.

I have never been told to sit longer and more often in the bathroom!  Luckily I would like to read more of the books I love so here is my excuse!   As instructed, I cooked up some beautiful greens.  You could, dear reader, buy a bag of collard greens and look up a recipe.  Spice ‘em up.  Yum! Yum!  Optimal health!

Kegels? whispered

Kegels?  Yes, whispered.  And guys!  Don’t tune out so fast.  These are for you to do too.

Google kegel exercises, the benefits listed are mega many!  Too many to blog about here.  So, suffice it to say that:  I have had 3 kids, and  I am at what many would consider to be an advanced age.  (some would, some would not) Everyday gravity attempts to have its way with my lower body.  I counter with kegels!

100 kegels everyday.  At least.  I do 10 sets of 10, holding each kegel for 5 seconds or longer.  Smile as you squeeze.  Sing!  Maybe silently if you are out and about, but do it.  My body loves it when I sing.  The 5 seconds feels shorter too!

You could do 100 kegels a day too.  Do them no matter how young you are and whether you’ve given birth or not.  Guys too!  They are completely unobtrusive.  Lying down, sitting up, standing in line at the grocery store, find your opportunities.  Not necessarily all 100 at once, but do them everyday, even on Christmas!  Your (lower) body, and quite possibly, your lover, will thank you.  Mine do.  (guys?)  Yes, kegels, whispered are that powerful.

I am doing them right now!

Footsies

Guys?  Gals?  Do you ped-dy?

Do you?  Our lives are fraught with hurrying, and scurrying and who is it that gets us where we are going?  Those pups you push into shoes everyday. They deserve to be appreciated!   And you deserve to have some hands on fun!

For poignant pampering I slip into my own sumptuous bathroom to spend a half an hour with the two who carry me through.

Run an inch or two of very hot water in the bathtub or into a, ready for your feet, pan.

Sit. Dip.  And then splash!  Feel the steamy water reach between every bone and tendon as they drink the heat in. Aahh there is that sep-ar-a-tion, and expansion. Your whole body relaxes.  Breathe.  Grasp one foot and rub vigorously with an exfoliating sponge or wash cloth.  Use the beauty soap right here, right now.   Guys too, it smells yummy!   Do the other foot.  By now the hot water has cooled. Drain it and fill it again, hot!  Immerse your feet again.  Say aahhh!  Rub one then the other.   Roll the ankle around.  Squeeze, manipulate and twist the fleshy parts.  Poke between the toes!  Rub!  Feel that tingle?  It is life giving circulation refreshing, and feeding the hungry two who do so much for you.   Mile after mile, day after day, year in and year out they are there to hold you up and to make your best shoes look great!  Thank you feet for all you do for me!

Now, pat dry with a fluffy towel.  How good does that feel?  But that’s nothin’!  Wait till we get to the last step (hahhahha last step!) Push the cuticles back with the towel and I use a callous remover to get rid of the dead skin on the heels and around the balls of the foot.

Emblazoned with love and attention, your feet are ready for the finale!  Dot your palms with tea tree oil.  Rub together and then envelope one foot then the other with your hands.  Amazing!   Pause, ABSORB!  Be grateful.  Our feet do so much for us.

 

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