It's been awhile since I've just shared what's been present with me! I know that this is some of my favorite content to consume with others and I also know that I learn so much more about myself by sharing with others, so here we go!
This last year has felt BIG for me. How about for you??
I thought I was on a straight and narrow path, and then last July, I was smacked over the head with a vestibular condition called MdDS (Mal de Debarquement Syndrome). It is a rare condition (around 1% of the population, predominantly women) that causes a constant rocking sensation, like being on a rocking boat, and can cause difficulty in concentration, balance, and often can be breeding grounds for anxiety and depression... I felt an increase in both.
One year later, I can see it as a full on reset for me.
It changed how I think. How I ask for help. How I pray. How I view mental illness.
It was a catalyst for me to acknowledge remnants of disordered eating, body dysmorphia, anxiety and depression that had been hanging out in the outskirts of my experience for YEARS. It was the catalyst for asking for help.
In spiritual circles, we sometimes hear about reincarnations and rebirths, and we think of them in terms of full human lifetimes, but I think, when we start paying attention to our experience, we can rebirth and renew in any moment. Each day can be a new incarnation. Our experience can totally shift. Sometimes (OFTEN) this shift doesn't happen as quickly as we would like, but like Trevor Hall says in his song, "you can't rush the healing; darkness has its teaching".
I'm not sure if you follow astrology yet, but we've been in a MAJOR cycle since July 2018 that we are now just coming out of following our last Lunar Eclipse on July 5th, 2020. You may find it helpful (as I have) to reflect on the MAJOR LIFE THEMES of this period and what lessons were presenting for your SOUL GROWTH?
Also, today is our first full day out of MECURY RETROGRADE (Yaaaayy!) in awhile; how has your mode of communicating shifted? Have you acknowledged the power in your words? Are you willing to?
Ok, that's all for now! Thank you for listening!
Looking foward to sharing more with you, when the time comes.
Days 1-7. New Moon. Inner Winter.
The menstrual phase of the cycle is what we most commonly refer to as our “period” or even our “cycle” although our cycle is ACTUALLY comprised of four distinct but overlapping phases (see E-Book). From the end of the last cycle’s luteal phase and into this new cycle’s menstruation, our hormones (progesterone and estrogen) both hit a low; our body sheds our progesterone producer (the corpus luteum) which triggers bleeding to start (P.S. DAY 1 of our cycle is the first day of FULL RED BLOOD BLEEDING; the brownish/red blood/discharge mix that many experience before full bleeding is actually the end of the last cycle).
Physically, many women experience...
cramping, low back pain, fatigue, and perhaps cravings (e.g., chocolate, as it is magnesium-rich).
Mentally, despite pop culture’s opinions...
the right and left hemispheres are actually at their greatest level of coherence; this gives us the special superpower to be able to review, release what no longer serves us, and create a vision (BUT DON’T TAKE ACTION YET!) for how we can proceed forward in the most aligned way, in each aspect of our lives. This of course presupposes that you are creating time for rest and reflection. If we don’t honor the space that is required for rest and reflection, it can be challenging to access our innate wisdom, and the body might speak up more loudly (e.g., painful, heavy menstruation, mood swings, anxiety, headaches) to get your attention.
Emotionally, this can be...
a time of heaviness, especially at the beginning of our cycle. Energetically, this phase of the cycle is linked to death; we are literally shedding a piece of ourselves. As we face this, we turn to face some of our deepest fears and can clearly see where our misalignments are. This isn’t always easy to face. Menstrual Cycle Awareness Practitioners and authors of “Wild Power” Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer actually break our bleed down into 5 additional phases or “chambers”. The first two are separation (the pull we feel to isolate ourselves and to be internal) and surrender (the opportunity to release our heavy burdens to the Universe, a higher power, or perhaps into the Earth; it can feel like being in the void and can feel very uncomfortable if your MO is “DOING”).
IF we can honor this initial discomfort of resting, doing “nothing”, and letting go, the final three phases can usher in a clear vision of how to proceed forward, a sense of renewal (yes, our menstruation can actually feel renewing!), and a deeper connection to our purpose.
Beyond practicing Menstrual Cycle Awareness...
(charting your cycle; getting to know your phases intimately; honoring where your energy is at and living accordingly), some of my favorite tools to support each phase of the cycle are the Plant Wisdom of Mother Nature and Embodied Movement in the form of Women’s Yoga.
Plant Wisdom: Clary Sage + Deep Blue Rub + Peppermint
When I say “plant wisdom”, I am referring to 100% pure, therapeutic grade, indigenously sourced, and rigorously tested essential oils. In my own research, I have only found a select few companies that adhere to these standards. I am also a strong proponent of trusting your DIRECT EXPERIENCE. For me, the only oils that I have used and noticed a significant difference were DoTERRA essential oils, so I work with these oils exclusively.
Addressing all things feminine health, clary sage is steam distilled from the salvia sclarea flower. Clary sage has a vast array of applications including: stimulating menstruation and lactation, soothing the nervous system, cutting mucous and relieving muscle spasms. It can be used aromatically, topically, and internally.
Aromatically: inhale straight from the bottle or diffuse 3 drops with wild orange for mood and hormonal support during menstruation.
Topically: (my favorite use) place 1-2 drops diluted into palm of hand and rub over lower abdomen and lower back to support cramp relief.
Internally: put 1 drop in a capsule to support estrogen regulation, uterine health, or for insomnia relief.
DEEP BLUE RUB:
This is the lotion version of DoTERRA’s deep blue soothing blend oil. Comprised of wintergreen, camphor, peppermint, blue tansy, blue chamomile, helichrysum, and osmanthus, this blend is an incredible anti-inflammatory and provides cooling and calming to areas of application.
A dime-sized amount is more than enough to rub over areas of muscle tension. My FAVORITE way to use it is: to put a small dot in my hand and place 1-2 drops of clary sage in it, then rub over lower abdomen and low back for cramp relief and to reduce bloating/swelling. I apply 2-3x throughout the day, but you can use it as often as needed. It is better to use small amounts more frequently.
Adaptive and cooling, 1 drop of peppermint (steam distilled from the leaves of the plant) is the equivalent of 28 CUPS of herbal peppermint tea! So it is very potent and concentrated. My FAVORITE use of peppermint is to put 1 drop in a hot mug of water and drink as a tea for relief from bloating and cramping. BONUS: it is an incredible digestive aid and can relieve any nausea experienced during this time.
EMBODIED MOVEMENT: Women’s Yoga
This is a time to connect with the EARTH: ground, center, turn inward, and rest. Treat these days of your cycle (1-7 or New Moon + 7 days) like the dead of winter or a winter holiday: warm, nourishing foods, blankets, and all things comforting. Watch uplifting films, journal, and savor BEING.
This is first and foremost a time of REST; so if your body is saying “don’t move!”, listen. If you do feel to move a bit, it can be good to encourage blood circulation through the pelvis and lower body to relieve cramping and stagnation. (GUIDED YOGA FOR MENSTRUATION)
RESTORATIVE SUPINE POSES...
like reclined cobbler’s pose (see E-Book) can feel really good at this time as they encourage the downward flow of energy.
SUPPORTED FORWARD FOLDS...
like paschimottanasana (see E-Book) can be calming for the nervous system.
SEATED GENTLE TWISTS...
(see E-Book) can provide relief from menstrual cramping, low back pain, and headaches/migraines.
Above All Else,
DO WHAT FEELS GOOD IN YOUR BODY! It may change/shift from each day of your cycle and as you move through different seasons of life. Remember, our bodies are not static; they are dynamic, alive, interacting, ecosystems! Perhaps the most powerful tool we have when it comes to understanding our bodies, is to develop a listening, so we can begin to decode its language and live in tune, inspired, and EMPOWERED.
All Love To You,
Ready to Get Started with Oils?
EMAIL ME at email@example.com if you have any questions!
Want more Women's Yoga?
Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the everyday things nearest to us rather than the things that are remote and uncommon. - Booker T. Washington
How do you feel about this quote?
I agree and I don't. While I absolutely believe that our (seemingly) small daily actions have tremendous potential to create change, if they aren't aligned with the BIG THINGS (aka, a clear articulation of our deepest values), they can feel empty, heavy, and we may lose sight of and motivation for why we are doing them!
Can you relate? Think about the last time you said "yes" to a change of some sort, simply because someone told you to, or out of fear of a future negative consequence. How did it feel? Maybe immediately relieving; but a few days in, how did it feel? Now think about a time you made a conscious choice to do something because it deeply aligned with what matters most to you; what was the energy behind THAT choice like? How did it feel down the road?
So while it is the small, daily actions that we have the most tangible control over changing, it can be incredibly powerful to first explore and articulate the big things, so that our energy is being channeled into bringing life to what matters most to us.
While we can apply this to ANY area of life, today, I'd love to focus on how our values are the key to making changes in those far off areas that we care about, but don't feel like we have the energy to engage in, for example, the health of our planet. Before I go further, I should ask, does the wellbeing of the planet matter to you?
If I had to guess, I'd say "yes", you probably do care about the health and wellbeing of the planet, as it IS our home, and you want it and its creatures to be generally well. However, it may not be in your top 5 or 10 list as far as what's getting your energy. Maybe your OWN health, the wellbeing of your family, work, other communities you're involved in are both more tangible (i.e. you SEE their importance and the impact of your relationship with them DAILY or often) AND deemed as more important to you, so your time, energy, and intention goes in these directions first, in order of priority (P.S. our CONSCIOUS and SUBCONSCIOUS priorities can be different; we can begin to explore this by looking at where we are spending most of our time and energy and asking ourselves what we are hoping to get out of that).
If you've had an experience at all similar to my own, I'd also say that you feel like you "should" be doing something, but you're not really sure what would be most helpful, IF it would even make a difference, and honestly, you're already exhausted so maybe you should just let this one go and focus on what's right in front of you.
If you're here, I HEAR you. I SEE you. I FEEL you. We live in high attention and energy demanding times. There is always someone or something that is asking for our attention and resources. And now you want me to become a climate change warrior, too!? It's too much!
While I am not asking you to become a climate change warrior, I am asking you to ENGAGE; to become an informed consumer. Start by creating 30 minutes of space for yourself to explore this question: who/what matters most to me? Who/what is getting most of my time and energy? Start there. Get clear on the BIG THINGS. Then begin to align the small daily actions with them.
Great- does this relate to the health of the planet? As you begin to clear out the choices that aren't in alignment with your values, you will begin to TAKE BACK your energy, which can then be channeled into what DOES matter to you; this is when your "small daily choices" begin to come alive.
That's all for today! Hoping this serves you in realigning with your unstoppable flow!
Feeling inspired to learn more?
Click here to learn how the 3 R's of Recycling have expanded!
Click here for low-waste, toxin-free household cleaner recipes that can be made with whatcha got!
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For me personally, aside from switching (gradually) to an eating style that incorporates mainly whole, unprocessed foods, switching out conventional cleaning supplies for non-toxic cleaners has made the most immediately noticeable impact on my health!
I don’t know about you, but when I used to use popular brands of all-purpose cleaners, glass, and toilet bowl cleaners, my eyes would water, my throat and lungs would burn, and the vast majority of the time I’d have a pounding headache by the time I was finished! “Good!” I thought; “that means things are really getting clean!” But how much more “clean”, really? Yes, I was living in a college apartment at the time, but what mega-mess monsters was I trying to obliterate!? And is it worth sacrificing my own health for the extreme sparkle? I decided not; I’ll let you decide for yourself!
What I will express, and this goes beyond household cleaners, is the importance as a consumer to day to educate ourselves; skip the front-of-package marketing and claims, and get straight to the back-of-the-bottle ingredient list. What you find may surprise you, or leave you asking questions…
As they are not a specific food or beverage, cleaning products are not regulated by the FDA (much like supplements and essential oils), and their regulating body, the EPA, only requires that they list chemicals that are “active disinfectants” or “known to be potentially harmful” (1). The trouble with that is, there is no required testing or safety standard that must be met before products are brought to market (2)! According to the EWG, some 2,000 American household cleaning products contain chemicals that pose harm to our health, and increase the risk for asthma, cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity, and a myriad of allergies, on top of the usual concern with burns or poisoning (3).
The average home contains roughly 62 toxic chemicals in household cleaners alone (2); here are the biggies to look out for: phthalates, PERC, triclosan, “QUATS”, 2-Butoxyethanol, ammonia, chlorine, sodium hydroxide (2), along with phosphates, pesticides, and synthetic fragrances (4). Much like the SkinDeep database the EWG provides for examining your cosmetics for known health risks, you can go to: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/cleaners_and_health and type in your household cleaners to examine each ingredient and its known risks to health.
There are many greener, plant-derived cleaners available on the market today as well, many of which are sold widely in big box stores; it’s good to be aware of “greenwashing”marketing claims and images on the front of the package that might lead you to believe it is a better option for you when in fact it contains many of the same harmful chemicals.
Another option is to go the DIY route; that way you have complete control over what goes into your cleaners, and the majority of the chemical, allergy, and poison risks are eliminated. While it may take a couple of minutes of your time, it can be extremely cost effective, and also allows you to reduce your use of plastics: win-win!
I honestly prefer to keep things very simple; therefore, the two cleaners pictured are truly the only cleaners I use (and am slowly getting my husband on board!). I use the all-purpose cleaner on our marble countertops, stovetop, wood table, tub and tiles, sinks and toilets, and have even used it as a stain remover on cotton clothing and our couch! The other bottle is a glass/window cleaner. That’s it. For carpet stains, I make up a cleaner in the moment; but you could keep the recipe below handy.
Pictured Recipe (5):
1C. Distilled Water (I just use filtered)
1C. White Vinegar
1TBSP doTERRA cleaning concentrate (can LITERALLY be used as dish soap, a base for all forms of cleaners, laundry detergent)
10 drops doTERRA Lemon
10 drops doTERRA Melaleuca (Tea Tree)
Basic DIY All-Purpose Cleaner:
1C. Distilled Water
½ Lemon, juiced
Pictured Recipe (5):
2TBSP White Vinegar
2TBSP Rubbing Alcohol
5-10 drops doTERRA Peppermint
While you can absolutely purchase lemon, tea tree, and peppermint essential oil elsewhere, I would encourage you to be informed about their sources as well; please make sure they are pure and no synthetics are being added to them (the point of going through the trouble of creating DIY cleaners!). I purchased two amber colored glass bottles to make the sprays, but you can absolutely reuse bottles you have available. I don’t recommend reusing plastic bottles; the vinegar, alcohol, and essential oils will break it down, leaving behind micro-plastics and harmful chemicals.
I hope you find these recipes and the consideration of links between household cleaners' chemical profiles and health-related symptoms (headaches, respiratory issues, allergies) helpful!
Do you DIY? What are your favorite recipes? Please share below!
I LOVE hearing your insights, revelations, and a-has as well as your questions! Have a specific topic you'd like to see covered on the blog or in the podcast (Empowered Practice)? Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get on it!
Wishing you the greater ease and flow that can come from simplifying,
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little. - Edmund Burke
I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember sitting in school, and learning about the “3 R’s of Recycling”: reduce, reuse, and recycle. I remember wanting to follow the rules and to “be a good girl” (that’s a whole separate blog post!), and that meant recycling, which to me meant putting plastic bottles in recycling bins when I saw them. And that pretty much sums up my relationship with it minus the last few years.
But with the #climatestrike last Friday, and the IPCC’s special report (https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/) explaining that we likely have less than a decade to get our s**t together before reaching a critical (and irreversible) tipping point in heating our Earth’s atmosphere and setting off a whole cascade of (even more intense) climate change, I have been motivated to do all that I can. I am sharing what I learn with you, not only because I love to, but because I recognize that it is a privilege I have that not everyone does. I HAVE the time, education, and resources, and so I am intentioning to use them in a way that supports all of us.
So back to the 3 R’s; there are now 5, and they are: REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE (repair), ROT, and RECYCLE.
Allow me to explain.
First of all, Americans are on average, producing about 4.5 POUNDS of trash per day, adding up very quickly to a whopping 262 million TONS of trash produced in the U.S. per year (https://berecycled.org/how-to-recycle/). And where is all of this trash going? Into the landfill (and filling up fast). Or worse, into the incinerator, leaching toxic chemicals into the air, and then into the landfill. Currently, most of us are fully (and perhaps unknowingly) participating in our Linear Economy- meaning, we take (and take and take and take) raw materials from our planet (at an unsustainable rate), turn them into products (often via the use of factories utilizing fossil fuels, toxic chemicals, and unfair wage and labor practices), buy the products at a “steal” (due to the aforementioned practices), and then shortly thereafter, throw them out. There’s so much more to say here, and if you are interested, here’s a video that draws it out (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GorqroigqM ). It’s a problem of massive caliber; a few people participating won’t be enough; but please, don’t adopt a defeatist attitude, throw your hands up, and do nothing. If nothing changes, nothing changes! Do what you can. Learn what you can. Take action. Make mistakes. Learn from them. And act again. Please keep showing up. We all need one another, perhaps now more than ever.
Have trouble with this word? Me too; especially if it involves the potential to make someone else uncomfortable. But the status quo doesn’t change without our willingness to get a little uncomfortable. That means saying “no” sometimes. Basically, don’t take what you don’t need or KNOW you won’t use (aka what will end up in the trash in less than a week!).
Here are a few tips:
By being intentional about what we say “yes” and “no” to in consuming goods, we will likely already begin to reduce the amount of trash we take on! Win win! Reducing takes it a step further by asking us to reflect on what we actually need, and our beliefs surrounding our things and happiness. From Marie Kondo to the Minimalist movement to modern design, we are beginning to see glimpses of what “less is more” can look like. Yet, as mentioned above, we still live in a consumerist, linear economy, and are constantly bombarded by advertisements saying “you need this! You need more! It won’t last forever! Hurry up and get yours today!”. Biologically, we still tend to orient ourselves in the world by comparing with others as markers of our own success or shortcomings, and as neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris explains, this is a natural tendency, but one that can create a great deal of suffering. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-about-trauma/201902/what-can-minimalism-do-mental-health
Keep in mind there is no end goal or “finished” with this, it is an ongoing process that you get to curate!
3. REUSE (Repair)
So not only can we become even more intentional about how much we are consuming, but we can also consider the shelf life of that item. In the past few decades we’ve seen a ton of innovation (awesome!) aimed at making our lives more convenient (great!). The problem is that many of these convenience items are also major contributors to ghg emissions, and landfill pile up; what I am speaking of mostly are the disposables: plastic and paper water bottles, coffee cups, plates, utensils, ziplocks, cling wrap, paper towels, razors, Q-tips, feminine hygiene products, makeup remover pads, kleenex, diapers, and yes, even toilet paper (still working on this one!). Before these inventions, existed solutions for storage, wipes, spills, and shaves. I’m not saying we should revert back to old ways in ALL ways, but also pay attention to the continual stream of innovative solutions in this realm as well! From beeswax paper, to silicon mats, menstrual cups, and storage bags, to bamboo toothbrushes and straws, there are rainbow variety of ways to incorporate reusable items into our lives (and p.s.,you more than likely already have many lying around the house or can make due without buying all new). Wasteland Rebel’s list is epic so I am sharing it with you here! https://wastelandrebel.com/en/the-5-rs-of-zero-waste/
4. ROT (Compost)
I know what you’re thinking, “ew, Jadi; rot!?” I know it sounds unappealing but it’s a pretty natural fact of life; one that most of us (myself included) are far removed from. Natural, organic materials tend to decompose; but in the magical (and also extremely purposeful and efficient) life cycle, are often absorbed by the soil and utilized as fertilizer for new growth and life! Pretty amazing, and coupled with the fact that compostable items make up the BULK (roughly 650 pounds/year: http://www.sodgod.com/composting/ ) of what goes in the trash, this one is a heavy hitter for planetary health. It’s also maybe the most clunky or uncomfortable for many of us (me!). If you have a yard or a garden, maybe you’re already utilizing you and your living mates’ food scraps as compost; awesome! And if you are in an apartment or dorm, there are also lots of options, including putting items in a sealed bucket and having someone else come pick them up!
Here’s a list of items you can (usually) add to compost:
That adds up to quite a few items! Now, how to compost them?
Here’s a simple guide to cultivating your own compost: http://www.sodgod.com/composting/
Here is a thorough article on 8 different methods for composting, including yard composting (if you have a yard) and tumbler composting (if you don’t have a yard): https://www.directcompostsolutions.com/8-methods-composting/
Additionally, I would encourage you to google “composting near me”; many cities have compost co-ops now that you can join, and even compost companies that will pick up your compost bin and dispose of its contents in nearby farms and gardens for you!
And last but not least (actually, according to some, it is last on the list of creating a circular economy, because recycling is energy intensive and it’s just not a perfect system; a good deal of our “recyclables” get shipped overseas to be dealt with (exasperated sigh)), recycling! Not just throwing plastic bottles in the trash (although that is still important; but please invest in a stainless steel bottle; but also keep recycling!).
The good news is, that by following the steps above, we’ve likely already cut down on our plastic consumption, the biggie of recycling problems (numbers 1and 2 are easiest to recycle; here is a plastics recycling guide: https://www.ecocycle.org/plastics-recycling, by a great deal. Other materials, like glass and aluminum, are often more readily recyclable! But, unfortunately, there are no national or global recycling standards; it can change from state to state and even county to county!
Here is a solid recycling guide broken down by type of material (e.g., plastic, aluminum, glass, plastic bags, foil, foam, etc.), that includes a “finder” option; just type in your zip code and you’ll find recycling centers near you: https://berecycled.org/how-to-recycle/
Ok! I know that is A LOT of information and believe me, I am with you in feeling the overwhelm. I truly feel like we live in an ever increasing fast-paced world, and we often feel the pressure to be everywhere, to respond immediately to everything, and to be doing MORE. I can absolutely see how this could feel like “one more thing” we are being asked to do, and to feel like we simply don’t have the space for it. I feel that. And to that I would say, first, before making any changes, take some time for YOU. Five minutes, even! Breathe, take a bath, listen to some calming music, diffuse some lavender, BE. Allow your nervous system to calm down, and to realize it’s not being chased by a lion! Then make a list of what matters most to you. Looking at that list- can you pick out the values that matter most to you? Top 3 is great! How does reducing waste fit into these values? Health? Integrity? Efficiency? Calm? When we can link an action to our values, it is MUCH more likely to stick, and sometimes we find dormant reserves of energy we didn’t know we had to rise up to the occasion!
Make a plan. Move slow and steady. Or, if you’re feelin’ it, go all in! Just remember that you are not expected to know it all or to “do it” perfectly. Keep showing up for your beautiful life. Let this practice support you in doing just that
With so much love,
Happy Monday! ☀️ .
I write this with the intention that your week is off to a fresh start and if not, maybe this practice will help you get there 😉! .
If you didn’t catch last weeks post- check it out for part 1 of this #empowered #practice ❣️
If you did complete part 1, grab your 📒 because today we’re diving in to each of the instances in which you noticed strong emotions arising (ANY emotion is great grounds for practice). .
As you review the first experience you’ve written down, ask yourself the question: why did this experience cause me to feel ____ ? And give yourself some time and space to dig- it may not be the first response that arises. In fact, what you may find is that the first response is a defense mechanism- a rationalization or justification for WHY you responded in a particular way (e.g., “I was only trying to help; I wanted him/her to have the best experience possible”). As you sit with the first response- get really honest with yourself- is that actually true? Perhaps you notice there are other intentions/desires beneath the surface (e.g., I don’t trust x to make his/her own decisions; I feel really uncomfortable when I’m not in control of the situation; I want to be seen as kind/perfect/selfless”).
Unearthing our subconscious motivations isn’t always fun; it can kind of feel like 😣🤢! But this isn’t an exercise in self criticism or judgement, simply AWARENESS ♥️. “When we know better we can do better”- right? So be gentle and compassionate with yourself as you explore these, trying to remain a curious observer- notice the themes and patterns and if/how they are serving you.
As you dive into this practice, I’d love to hear any aha’s you experience so please share below if you feel too!! 🤗 And thank you for doing the work!
Until next week... sending you tremendous love and light (and happy New Moon!)
I am currently working my way through a translation of one of the classic texts of yoga: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. This book is not just for those on a traditionally “yogic” path, but for those who are interested in becoming aware of the contents running through ALL levels of their mind, and incorporating practices that help sort through it all: keeping what is serving your highest understanding and relationship to life and releasing what no longer is, making space for progressively greater peace in your life. Any text that is translated from Sanskrit can be challenging to read and perhaps more importantly, to integrate into daily life and practice, but I have found this version (Inside the Yoga Sutras by Reverend Jaganath Carrera) to be extremely readable and applicable! Thank you for the suggestion @larugayoga
One of the exercises he included to really ground the understanding of how our subconcious attachments can rule our minds and influence our lived experience is an awareness journaling practice, that includes three parts. As he recommends dedicating one week of attention to each, I plan to share the other two parts over the course of the next couple of weeks.
The preliminary part of any practice is to set an intention (in yogic practice we call this a Sankapla) and consider why you might participate: is it to gain greater Self understanding? To become aware of a particular pattern in your life? To get to the root of a particular trigger or tendency? Once you’ve considered this, I encourage you to write it or speak it out loud to solidify it within yourself. Then, you’re ready to start!
Part one of Awareness Journaling is comprised of simply PAYING ATTENTION to when you feel triggered or noticing when strong emotions bubble up (positive or negative). When do you notice yourself feeling anxious? Angry? Irritable? Judgemental? Upset? Hurt? Excited? In anticipation?
For this week, I recommend keeping a notepad/journal specifically for this purpose and writing down every instance in which you notice an emotional charge arise. Make a note of what is present at that time, internally and externally (e.g., I am irritable, I am stuck in traffic, and I am worried I am going to be late for my first meeting of the day, and my team is going to judge me as not committed; what if I get demoted or fired!?).
Keep a running tab of these in one place, and next week we’ll dive into Part 2 to see what’s underneath these triggers and if there is a theme/pattern to the seemingly many separate events ;).
With deep appreciation for the power in these every day practices, and how they catalyze our highest potential,
It's early November, and yet, as I type this I'm listening to "Christmas Piano" on Google Play :). As we exit out of October and into November, many are looking forward to the holidays- some with excited anticipation to visit loved ones, or to have some time/space away from work and our normal daily activities- some with hesitation and anxiety over hosting a holiday and all that that may entail!
Many of you have been asking for holiday recipes, new takes on old classics, different ways to prepare staples, or perhaps ways to ninja more veggies onto the table in a yummy way! While I'm not much of a "recipe Bryan" (inside joke with husband over a goofy youtube show we watch! Bonus points if you know the reference ;)!)- many of my meals are pretty simple, and I mostly enjoy them without fancy seasonings or sauces. However, having experienced some food sensitivities, and having had many a family member and client who've chosen to adapt their eating style in a way that supports their healing, one of the ways I LOVE to support people is by finding alternative recipes to foods/flavors that they love! And lucky for us, there are some RECIPE GENIUSES (hello @unboundwellness @fedandfit @megtherhn )out there, who've created beautiful and DELICIOUS alternatives, some of which I enjoy MORE than the OG versions (stuffing- I'm looking at you!).
So without further delay, I give you a THANKSGIVING RECIPE ROUNDUP! From classic staples like turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberries, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, to perhaps new side dishes like vegetable hashes, stuffing meatballs, and brussels sprout chips, there's sure to be at least one recipe that intrigues you, and I encourage you to add at least one new thing to your table this year, even if it's a new take on an old classic! Traditions are sacred, for sure, but perhaps we can be the bearers of traditions that honor the best health and thriving of our future generations- food and otherwise ;).
Let's start with the main course...
Turkey & OTher Proteins
1. Rosemary Apple Turkey from Amazing Paleo : This version looks DELICIOUS! Turkey is pretty nutrient-dense food as is, so much of where the alternatives come in is as marinades, sauces, and oils. Although this recipe uses olive oil, which is a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids, it doesn't stand up well to heat; I recommend swapping with Avocado oil, which you can find HERE . If you are adjusting your own recipe, see if you can swap canola, sunflower/safflower oils out for avocado oil, white sugar out for maple sugar, honey, or coconut sugar, and check any pre-made marinades for these as well!
2. Turkey with Sage Butter from I Breathe I'm Hungry: this preparation also looks DELICIOUS and provides more of a savory option if you don't usually like sweeter accents like apple.
3. Thanksgiving Stuffing Meatballs from Balanced Bites : If you are serving an alternate meat dish, such as ham, perhaps adding this turkey stuffing meatball might be a fun way to add some of the traditional flavors in a new way! Alternatively, maybe you make these babies with turkey/stuff leftovers ;).
4. Paleo Deviled Eggs by Delicious Paleo : deviled eggs are a common side dish served on the holiday table. As with turkey, eggs in and of themselves are a pretty nutrient-dense food! Things can go south with deviled eggs if we are using mayo which has hydrogenated oils and refined sugar added. Sure, it's not much, but when there are so many alternatives, why not skip it? This is just ONE preparation method of many out there! If you simply need a mayo alternative for your recipe, I suggest Primal Kitchen Mayo - I bet your guests won't even notice the difference!
1. Paleo Turkey Gravy by Epicurious : again, if you are preparing your own homemade gravy from the turkey you've cooked, you've likely got a super yummy and nutrient-dense topping! Just watch for the hydrogenated oils, sugars, and use high quality salt, like Himalayan or Celtic sea salt ;). If you are using the canned versions and looking for a simple but delicious upgrade, here you go!
2. Paleo Herb Gravy by NomNom Paleo : Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo is a recipe genius, and here she offers a simple, flavorful option that can be made vegan for those who don't tolerate butter, milk, or cream!
1. Thanksgiving Caramelized Onion Sausage Stuffing by Paleomg: honestly, these stuffing alternatives are the recipes I'm most excited to incorporate. I never was much of a StoveTop fan (sorry!), so I've been making variations for my family for a few years, many of which they've liked and asked me to bring back! Win!
2. Paleo Thanksgiving Stuffing by A Girl Worth Saving
3. Grain Free Thanksgiving Stuffing by Against All Grain: in this recipe, Danielle offers a recipe for almond flour breadcrumbs to give a texture like the old fashioned way; this is the one I'm excited to try this year!
4. Paleo Thanksgiving Cornbread Stuffing by Unbound Wellness: while I haven't tried this recipe yet, every recipe I've made from Unbound Wellness has been AMAZING! This recipe is also autoimmune paleo friendly :).
1. Rosemary Sweet Potato & Onions by Garnish With Lemon: sweet potatoes are another 'easy' swap, in that they are already nutrient-dense and yummy on their own! It's all the sugar and marshmallows that we add to them that add to post-meal bloat and exhaustion ;). But if the gooey caramel-ly sweet potatoes are your favorite dish, give the next recipe a look! This one is savory and actually my preferred way to eat 'em!
2. Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole by Cupcakesomg: sweet potato casserole lovers rejoice! I have to admit, even as a "savory" sweet potato lover, this sweet version DOES look DELISH!
1. Cranberry Sauce by Amazing Paleo: another simple swap and I promise, so much better than the canned version! I used to think I didn't like this dish until I had them prepared from scratch!
2. Cranberry Cherry Relish by Elana's Pantry: I use quite a few of Elana's recipes and really love them! Being a cherry lover, this one sounds super intriguing to me but AJ (husband) is the cranberry sauce maker, so we'll see if he's willing to add some cherries into the mix this year!
Green Veggie Dishes
1. French Green Bean Casserole by Urban Poser: this is another recipe I'm adding to my list (yum!) I think diet culture has thrown major shade on green veggies but I think they are actually very tasty when prepared with the flavors that you like (I personally love em in butter and salt!).This one is vegan, paleo, and GAPS friendly.
2. Vegan Green Bean Casserole by Detoxinista: I haven't tried this recipe yet, but we've made many of her desserts and they've become repeats!
3. Brussels Sprout Chips by NomNom Paleo: I haven't tried this exact recipe, but we've made brussels sprout chips a few times and LOVVVEE them! The only caveat: much like kale chips, it does take a bit of tediousness (in my opinion) slicing off the brussels pieces and in just a few bites they're gobbled up! So if you're serving a large party, maybe save these for another time!
4. Thanksgiving Slaw by Unbound Wellness: here's a super easy and tasty way to insert some greens onto the table in fun, flavorful way!
5. Harvest Vegetable Hash by Unbound Wellness: another way to prepare and serve root veggies; or maybe a fun way to use leftovers!
1. Grain Free Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie by Against All Grain: while it's not going to taste exactly the same as the OG, I highly recommend giving these recipes a try sometime, and noticing how you feel AFTER. Less tired? Satiated after one slice? Less bloated? Keep in mind that "paleo" treats are still TREATS- not meant to be a replacement/substitute for a meal/snack! So have your cake (or in this case, pie) and eat your meal, too! :)
2. Pecan Pie by The Healthy Foodie: another contender for top thanksgiving dessert! As more and more individuals are finding that they cannot tolerate the massively hybridized wheat in the US, alternatives are becoming increasingly sought after. Homemade is almost always higher quality than store-bought (because you get to decide what oils, sugars, and flours to use!). And if you're like my family, pecan pie isn't complete without...
3. Vanilla Bean Ice Cream!! by Jays Baking Me Crazy: this is a DIY ice cream recipe that looks so, so good! It does have egg yolks in it, which may not be an option for all. If you'd rather save making homemade ice cream for a more leisurely time, a couple dairy free and yummy ice cream recommendations include Coconut Bliss brand and Nada Moo brand!
4. Apple Pie by Zen Belly: Last but not least, a classic! Less common on the thanksgiving table, but this recipe looks delicious and what a great way to incorporate this seasonal super-fruit (apple!) which can support digestion and assist with liver function (and who couldn't use the boost with a little holiday indulging? ;) ).
So there you have it folks! The 2018 Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup! I hope you find at least ONE of these recipes exciting, and if you are going to try one, please share which one and how it goes in the comments! Additionally, if you have a favorite upgraded recipe or would LIKE to upgrade a current favorite recipe, please share in the comments below!
Sending lots of holiday spirit your way,
As many of you may have seen, last Wednesday was World Mental Health Day. And if you did see the myriad of social media posts, perhaps you, like me, fully experienced just how common mental health struggles are. Here are a few stats from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (1) just to show how many people in the U.S. alone are experiencing mental health challenges:
And I don’t know about you, but sometimes, maybe because they are so commonly reported this way, or I am distractedly reading them, these stats roll by me without my really realizing their full impact or how they might relate to my own experience. So just take a moment to let that fully sink in. And in case you still feel a disconnect, allow me to share an abbreviated criteria from the DSM 5 for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) (2), which reportedly affects 6.8 million U.S. adults each year (1):
As you read these, can you relate to any of them? I am willing to bet that for many if not most of us, there are heads nodding and a resounding “Yes!”. Perhaps some of you are thinking, “Oh my gosh, do I have anxiety!? Is there something wrong with me!?” And that’s what I want to address. Because it is so very COMMON, NORMAL, and HUMAN to experience mental and emotional discomfort. And I am willing to bet that these statistics, though higher than I’d like, are HEAVILY underestimated due to under-reporting. Why? Because none of us wants to feel like there is something “wrong” with us; none of us wants a label that means “bad, wrong, different, faulty, or other”. And, historically the way that we have addressed mental health makes suggestion that we shouldn’t be feeling this way, that it’s not "normal” and if we are, then we are “under-functioning” in some way that needs to be “fixed”. Let’s look at movies alone; how has mental illness and the support available been portrayed? It plays like a horror movie! And I’m not even going to address the health insurance aspect of this conversation! Thankfully, it has become part of pop culture to speak up about mental health awareness; but sometimes hearing it from a celebrity can still feel far removed from our own experience.
So, I felt like it was about time that I share my own experience with it. Because despite being a strong advocate for mental and holistic health, and have two degrees in psychology, I realized I haven’t openly shared about my personal experience with anxiety, panic, and depression. And despite being a strong believer in the field of psychology, in therapy, and receiving mental health support, something that I prioritize in my life to this day, I still very much felt the stigma and the discomfort of reaching out, asking for help, and talking about it openly for a long time. I wasn't aware of it, but subconsciously I held the belief that this meant there was something “wrong” with me. That I was “different” than others and “inadequate” in some way. That because I had studied it, I should somehow be “immune” to experiencing it. But I wasn’t and I am not. None of us are- AND THAT IS OK!!!
I experienced my first panic attack midway through my first semester of college. It was significant and severe. I couldn’t breathe. My heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. I had tunnel vision. My ears were ringing. My whole body was cold, tense, and trembling. My mind felt like it was splitting into a million pieces. I thought that I was simultaneously having a heart attack and “going crazy”. Although I had the personality of a planner and a perfectionist, and college was a big lifestyle adjustment for me, it felt like the attacks came out of nowhere. As a result, I became hypervigilant; tensely anticipating when it would happen again. I felt completely out of control. Being out in public felt excruciating as I didn’t know if I would be able to run and hide if a panic attack hit. I began to get to class earlier just so I could pick a desk near the exit, if I needed to run. I stopped wanting to socialize. At at a low point, I experienced intermittent panic that left me sleepless for three days. I couldn’t eat. I was losing weight. I was exhausted. And I remember feeling like a total failure when my mom asked, “do you need to take a break from college?”.
The fear of “being” seen as inadequate and not able to handle college actually motivated me to take action. I saw a GP on a trip home and within about 10 minutes I was diagnosed with GAD with Panic and Depression and prescribed three different pharmaceuticals: an antidepressant, and two anxiolytics, one for general anxiety and one to take as needed when I felt panic coming on. Due to the potential side effects of the antidepressant, I was required to see an on-campus counselor as well. I actually don’t remember any of my counseling sessions, not uncommon for the level of stress my system was under. I do remember crying a lot. Sharing a lot. And very gradually, beginning to feel a bit lighter as the semester went on. The anxiolytics, especially the one that I took as needed for panic, did give me at least a semblance of control. However, I also felt mostly numb. I felt like a walking zombie. It took every ounce of clinging to my “good student, good girl” identity to show up for classes. I remember lying in bed next to my boyfriend at the time and feeling nothing- not my body, not the bed beneath me, nothing. And I thought, “THIS is not normal. Feeling nothing, is not normal.” In that moment, I resolved to do the work to wean off of the medications and to find ways to be with and feel my feelings. And I did. (Personal choice and I completely respect those who choose to thrive with medication)
After therapy, exercise was my first coping mechanism. It was actually my counselor who recommended that when I felt a panic attack coming on, to find the nearest stairs and to run up and down them, to show my mind that I wasn’t having a heart attack. And it worked! So exercise took on a whole new meaning and significance in my life.
A couple of years later, when I began to experience severe anxiety (the symptoms of which were completely different than my first go around) in grad school, I began to practice yoga. At first, slowing down that much felt terribly uncomfortable. My whole system wanted to scream and run away from the thoughts and feelings I’d shoved down for so long. Thankfully, I had an amazing teacher and I stuck with it. And my whole demeanor and life began to transform. Truly! How I ate, moved, breathed, and interacted with others changed. When I went home for visits, people noticed that I was “different” and “calmer”. I was!
And years after a dedicated physical practice, I began to focus more on breath and meditation. I’ll never forget sitting in the yoga room at a yoga and meditation retreat in India, when our teacher said, “you are not your thoughts”. Perhaps I had heard it before, but in that moment it REALLY sunk in! The thoughts running through my mind, are not me. I choose whether to believe them and if I want to respond to them. And when I witness them with that awareness, their impact COMPLETELY changes. It’s not as strong. I don’t feel as reactive. How could I have gone through most of my life without knowing this? Why are we not taught this amazingly accessible, free, and potent coping mechanism early on in life!?
And that is why I am so passionate about awareness practices, including meditation, as a coping mechanism, and a part of everyday thriving. The tendency to distract and numb out in our society is ultra high and readily accessible. But until we look at the uncomfortable thoughts, beliefs, and patterning square in the eye, I believe they will continue to show up as discomfort and dis-ease in our systems. Additionally, creating the capacity to BE with whatever arises reconnects us with this amazingly powerful source of inner strength, that is inherent but often underutilized.
I won’t say that I never experience anxiety or even panic anymore. Anxiety is 1) a NORMAL and informative feeling, and 2) complex and multi-faceted- it can occur due to thoughts, life events, our diet, external toxin exposure, co-occurring physical states in the body such as hypothyroidism (1). And as I have learned to be with it, I have learned more about how each of these pieces played into and influenced my own experience- hello blood sugar regulation!! Yet now, my relationship with anxiety and uncomfortable states in general- sadness, anger, guilt, shame- is completely different. Rather than moving faster, distracting, and numbing with food, exercise, social activity, or social media, I slow down and let it take center stage. I ask it what it has to show me. I listen, gently, and compassionately. And as the waves of the discomfort wash over, I am simply a WITNESS to it. I keep in mind that I am NOT THIS, I am an OBSERVER of this. I remember the TRUTH of who I am. And I feel simultaneously empty and full. Peaceful and strong. (Afterward! I doesn't ever stop being uncomfortable, at least not for me)
I hope that my sharing this serves you, and if you have any questions or would like support, please, please reach out! We are all in this together. As I like to say, “no one goes unscathed by life”. Mental and emotional discomfort are a NORMAL and I'd say healthy part of that. They are simply part of our warning system that something feels misaligned. It is our job to listen and respond.
With big love,
P.S. If this message resonates with you, and you'd like my support on your health journey, please schedule a FREE discovery call HERE to so we can connect and see if now is a good time for us to partner together!
***ALL INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THIS BLOG IS INTENDED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY; PLEASE CONSULT WITH YOUR HEALTH PRACTITIONER BEFORE MAKING ANY CHANGES***
“Meditation? Oh, I’ve tried that. I don’t think it’s for me!”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received this response from clients, friends, and family, when asked what to do to relieve stress.
The truth is, there are MANY ways to approach stress reduction in daily life, but for me, meditation has made such a difference that it is THE ONE PRACTICE I return to, again and again. Waking up to my morning sitting practice is something I look forward to NOW… but it definitely wasn’t always that way and it DEFINITELY doesn’t feel peaceful, deep, or profound each time I sit down.
The biggest misconception about meditation that I hear is that “to do meditation ‘right’ you must completely empty your mind and be silent and still the whole time”. SO not true, and for most of us (if we’re not living alone in a cave dedicating our whole lives to the practice), near IMPOSSIBLE! So take some pressure off of yourself right now if you’ve tried meditating and this was not even close to your experience!
Meditation is often described as a PROCESS of stilling the mind-meaning it happens little by little over time; but in our achievement-driven society, we often feel like we should “get it on the first try”. The truth is, there's really nothing to "get". We may or may not ever experience a meditation of complete silence, but consistent practice with intentional focus WILL help us calm our systems, deepen our breath, and at least become aware of the thoughts and beliefs that are driving us, perhaps to places we'd rather not continue to go. From there, it is up to us whether we question and release some of these patterns or not.
In using meditation with my clients here’s the approach that I take:
Meditation is the process of completely being with yourself and all that is going on around and within you, and slowly but surely, increasing the space and capacity to be with it, without distracting, numbing or running away from it. We first learn to be with it, whatever ‘it’ is in that practice. We begin to notice the thoughts and beliefs that often circulate in our minds, our habitual patterns of responding. We allow them to arise WITHOUT reacting to them as we usually would. We simply breathe, and let be.
In this way, meditation is more of a practice of becoming AWARE. Becoming aware of our default responses of the mind and body to situations. That’s the first and perhaps the BIGGEST step. Simply becoming aware, conscious of the way in which we are responding to life. Because the pace of our lives tend to be rapid, and the tendency to multitask and to distract is ultra high and accessible, it can be HELPFUL to begin a practice in a dedicated space free of external distractions- it’s not required- it just offers you the gift of removing a couple of external obstacles, so we can better be with the internal ones ;).
With this reframe of meditation being a practice of increasing awareness, rather than complete silence and emptiness, there are, again, many approaches! The one that I practice myself and often utilize with clients is one of being with the self, in a relatively quiet and peaceful place, focusing on the breath.
I suggest starting with the breath awareness for many reasons, including:
This practice is enough. I cannot say that enough! You can simply sit, and continually bring your attention back to your breath. This is the practice I return to daily, especially when feeling challenged. Depending on what I or a client is working on, I may also incorporate some stress reduction techniques like ambient sound, guided visualization, positive affirmation, and progressive neuromuscular relaxation (PNMR).
You’ve likely heard of many of these; but maybe not the last one! It’s actually just a fancy word for the process of becoming aware of tension in the body, and giving it permission to release. Often, chronic pain and headaches can be a result of a holding pattern in our bodies. Just pause for a minute right now- notice how you are sitting- are you holding tension anywhere? Jaw clenched? Shoulders lifted? Glutes clenched? Thighs crossed and squeezing? Abdominal muscles drawn in?
You’re not alone! These are common areas of holding for many of us, and what PNMR gives us the opportunity to do is become aware of these holding patterns and to release them, either actively or passively. If someone doesn’t feel much sensation in their body, and has a history of ignoring the body’s signals and forcing through, I might suggest active PNMR. In this practice, you actively tense and squeeze certain muscle groups, hold, and release as much tension as possible on the exhale. This offers training in becoming aware of what tension/holding feels like in the body and what relaxation feels like.
If I am in a session with a client, and they are already experiencing or are sensitive to pain or discomfort in their body, I often opt for passive PNMR, in which we still scan through the body, muscle group by muscle group, and become aware of the tension; but rather than actively tensing and releasing, we practice bringing awareness to that particular place, breathing into it, and give it permission to release when it’s ready.
So if this reframe of meditation has you curious and you’d like to give it a try, let’s craft a practice:
I hope that you found this topic helpful; it truly is one of the most simple and profound practices for healing the patterns that create chronic stress in our body/minds.
If you are interested in PNMR, I’ve recorded a guided body scan and golden light visualization meditation and I would LOVE to share it with you! Simply email me : email@example.com with the subject “I AM CALM” and I will add you to my email list to send it your way!
Additionally, if you are really focused on reducing stress in your life to heal from chronic or autoimmune illnesses, and you’d like to receive support through your journey, I would LOVE to support you! I currently have 1 spot open in my private coaching practice, so if this is coming at the right time for you, please schedule a FREE 30 minute discovery call with me here, so we can chat, learn more about one another, and see if we are a good fit for partnering on your current health focus!
Until next time, deep, deep breaths.