Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Three Keys to Lowering Cholesterol without Statins

Conscious diet, regular exercise, and stress reduction are the essential keys to lowering cholesterol without drugs. Although statins are sometimes necessary to produce a 'quick fix' and may even have ancillary protective effects besides lowering cholesterol – it's still a 'western' approach, in that it alleviates symptoms, without addressing the real causes. Taking statins doesn't prompt the evolution of consciousness and transformation of mind and body needed for true healing.
Adopting a healing diet means taking a conscious approach to nourishment – considering what's best for mother earth and also developing more 'compassion in the kitchen.' For example, when peoples like the native Americans feasted upon animal flesh, at least they remembered to give thanks to their prey for 'giving their life' – hardening of the arteries was largely unknown to these primitive, but more spiritually connected people.
Notably, among the titans of history there are many vegetarains including Leonardo da Vinci, Plato, Pythagoras, Albert Einstein, Albert Schweitzer, Percy Bysse Shelley, George Bernard Shaw... the list goes on and on.
There are also world-champion athletes, runners, triathletes, body-builders, and power lifters who insist on a vegetarian diet. There's a wonderful lightness of being that accompanies judicious vegetarianism, resulting in not just healthy cholesterol levela – but general improvement in bodily functions.
Aside from making better choices than animal flesh - and eating local, in-season produce – including soluble fiber – especially oats – is key to lowering cholesterol. Beta glucans, which concentrate the most powerful part of the oat bran, bind to fat in your stomach, and carry out some of the bile acids in your stomach associated with cholesterol production.. Soluble fiber, like oats keep fat from reaching your liver. By lowering the amount of cholesterol your liver produces, artery-clogging “bad” cholesterol never reaches your blood stream.
Sources of soluble fiber include: Oat and oat bran, legumes (dried beans and peas), nuts, barley, rye, flaxseed,,fruits (i.e. oranges, apples, prunes, plums, berries),vegetables (i.e. carrots, broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions) and psyllium husk. bitter herbs such as dandelion, turmeric, and goldenseal also help by promoting the regular flow of bile
Energetically, the liver benefits from expressions of Joy; and is weakened by anger, especially if pent-up. (See Live in Harmony with Nature for a Healthy Heart for ways to transmute negative emotion.). One big fight with your spouse equals consuming a large steak!
Research also points to the importance of stress reduction. African Masai of the former Tanganyika and Jewish sects in Yemen, thrived on fat-laden, high-cholesterol diets, but never got heart disease until they emigrated from their native countries and adopted a Western lifestyle.
When researchers from San Antonio's School of Aerospace Medicine in San Antonio, Texas conducted studies to determine whether stress might be a factor in elevating cholesterol, their research conclusively confirmed it: They found that cholesterol increases after only one hour of either emotional or physical stress, such as overexposure to cold. Worse, they found that if you stay stressed for a few hours, your cholesterol can remain high for more than a week. When people were sent to Hawaii and fed two eggs a day, their high cholesterol levels dropped and remained low until they returned home and resumed their normal lifestyles. Studies conducted at Stanford Research Center and Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco also showed that cholesterol levels increase in medical students before exams and in accountants before tax time every year.
How does exercise help improve cholesterol levels? High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) are considered to be beneficial since they sweep the blood of excess fat and cholesterol. The biggest effect of exercise on improving cholesterol levels is boosting HDLs (and lowering triglycerides). But to give HDL levels a good boost above the baseline, exercise must be regular and expend enough energy to burn at least 800 to 1,200 calories per week. Any aerobic exercise—from walking and running to swimming and cycling—counts. Walking at three miles in an hour burns about 300 calories, on average. To meet the threshold then, a person needs to walk around eight to 12 miles a week, or do some other aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes on six or more days per week

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Weight Loss Tools That Really Work

Pounds inevitably creep up on us with Holiday Celebrations. Here are some tried and true tools to hold them back:

Miracle Noodles РTruly a delight. As seen on 'Oprah,' Miracle Noodles have zero calories and are as satisfying as a bowl of pasta. Go ahead -- drench them in your favorite sauce. It will still only add up to a few hundred calories, at most. My favorite is simply: lots of chopped garlic, saut̩ed in olive oil, a little ghee and organic tomato sauce. Have Miracle Noodles for dinner a few times a week and watch the pounds disappear.

Lavender Oil – One inhale of fine essential lavender oil is both calming and a great substitute for mindless eating; often indulged in to help offset stress. If lavender is not your thing, try 'Rose.' (I like it because it also has anti-bacterial qualities...the people who survived the plague in Nostradamus' day worked in a perfume factory where lavender oil was attributed to their survival).

Fucothin – a derivative of sea vegetables, helps to pull toxins from your body, while stimulating your metabolism. Works particularly well if you have Type 'O' Blood, which is most receptive to Bladderwack.

Green Tea Gum – Another 'mindless eating' substitute. Chew green tea instead of reaching for those carbs. You'll also benefit from the anti-oxidants.

Agave Syrup – Use Agave as the sweetener of choice in Holiday Recipes. It's sweeter than honey and metabolized much more slowly than sugar. Add stevia if you like it still sweeter.

Last but not least: Walk, exercise, and/or do yoga as much as you can; Sleep 7- 8 hrs., arising as early as possible; drink plenty of water; and never sit when you can stand.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Transition Diet: Nourish Earth

"In fact, the essential flavor of the food comes from one's heart, from cooking
with one's whole soul, and from respecting the spirit of the kitchen."
--Zen monk

Change of season means adjusting dietary choices to stay in tune with what's most plentiful and nourishing. A good transition diet is grounding and prepares us for winter ahead by building immunity and increasing vitality: Heavy protein and processed foods plug the vital channels and lower pranic energy, while fruits and vegetables are both energizing and cleansing.

In five element theory (the basis for Feng Shui and acupuncture) the earth element corresponds to the stomach and spleen, both of which are nourished by 'earthy' and sweet root vegetables, certain grains, and herbs. The stomach rules transformation by receiving nourishment and preparing food for digestion. The spleen rules transportation, distributing extracted nutritive essences throughout the lymphatic system, building immunity, and protecting against infection.

When our earth 'chi' is harmonious and healthy, we feel supported and generally confident – solidly anchored in pragmatic reality. Earth energy can be adversely affected by unconscious diet, low self esteem, lack of true purpose, comfort, or missing support at home or work. Feelings like 'butterflies in the stomach' are symptomatic of upset earth. Even worse – the emotion of 'worry' wrecks our stomach and imbalances digestion.

Earth energy can be cultivated by centering activities like gardening, knitting, cooking, architecture, carpentry, – even housekeeping. Meditation and visualizations upon personal places of power; favorite places you have visited – also builds good earth. In many traditions, devotees regularly connect to representations of Earth 'Spirit' usually a feminine figure set in 'Our Lady of Lourdes, where many spontaneous healings have been reported

On a more mundane level earth vegetables include: Carrots, pumpkin, sweet corn, onion,
mushrooms, green peas, beans, zucchini, sweet potato, cauliflower, leeks and celery and all the
summer vegetables.
Also, apples, grapes and vine fruits, small berries, peas, fennel, potatoes, soy beans,
Grains: buckwheat, oats, millet, amaranth, quinoa, sweet rice, jobs tears.
Herbs: astragalus root, ginger root, ginseng, horseradish, dandelion, dongquai, fennel, beet root

Also: Honey, miso, barley malt, pumpkin seeds, aduki, kidney and pinto beans.

The spleen is weakened by damp food energetics.
Arame drains 'damp – also umebeshoi plum is curative.

Avoid: excess cold drinks, ice cream, soda drinks, sugar, white flour, coffee, processed meats, preserved and frozen foods, excess raw foods and cold foods, excess fruit, salad, citrus fruit, heavy foods, pasta too often, cold meats, fatty foods, leftover foods, excess dairy foods, overly sweet foods.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Barefoot Meditation for the Mind and Body

“Meditation helps you do less and accomplish more.”
– Deepok Chopra

As summer folds its fiery wings, nature contracts and the fruits of the harvest grow dense with stored sunlight. It feels good to stay home now. In cooler climes, there's still time to bank some first-hand sunlight and take advantage of the opportunity to exercise in the fresh air...even go for barefoot walks.

The following barefoot meditation provides grounding energy through direct connection to the earth. Ideally it should be performed while in a seated position, barefoot, with soles planted – and toes connected firmly to the ground.

Barefoot Meditation
First, find a bench or chair on a grassy spot. You can begin with just five minutes; but aim for twenty. Morning sun (before 11am) is ideal. But sunset also works.
Plant toes firmly on earth, focusing intention on the big toe(s). According to reflexology the big toe is connected to the pineal gland. Said to be linked to the third eye, the pineal is largely responsible for the health of circadian rhythms and prevents against SAD (seasonal affective disorder). In addition to producing melatonin, the pineal gland also controls the release of serotonin, “the mood hormone.' Stimulation through direct contact with geomagnetic energy helps control aging, calms the nervous system, and lays the groundwork for building and opening to higher, more refined energies. Tobacco, drugs, stress, and lack of Vit. A depletes the pineal.
To begin, take deep belly breaths. The abdomen should expand on the inhale, and contract on the exhale. Once a comfortable rhythm is established - visualize a circuit of energy orbiting from the top of your head, (crown chakra), to your big toe(s). Continue for 5- 20 minutes.
For more advanced, coordinate with alternate nostril breathing, and add silent mantra.

If outdoor meditation isn't possible, yogic postures which help preserve and strengthen the pineal gland include yoga mudra, child's pose -- with the forehead to the floor.
Sun salutations (Surya namaskar) also flush and nourish the gland with oxygenated blood.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ten Foods to Optimize Immunity

“A man may esteem himself as happy when that which is his food is also his medicine.”
­--Henry David Thoreau

Awareness about the need for much higher levels of Vitamin D than the routinely 'prescribed' 400 IUs has been simmering for a few years. Now, faced with one of the most challenging flu seasons ever – realization of what the endemic shortages of Vit. D really means is boiling over. In 2007 an article appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition calling for the “urgent need” to increase the requirements for Vit. D. “The range we are talking about – 1,000 IU a day – is still a small dose,” said Walter Willet, MD. Chairman of the Harvard School of Public Health's department of nutrition. Some suggest as much as 10,000 IU as the tolerable upper intake daily limit; a fair-skinned person can manufacture 15,000 IUs or more, of vitamin D in as little as 30 minutes of optimal sun exposure. Consider the obvious link between Vit. D, a fat soluble vitamin, which is sequestered in fat tissue, and the fact that 'chubby children' are most at risk for the current flu threat. Also at risk are those with otherwise healthy immune systems who routinely subsist on processed, refined carbohydrates, replete with sugar and white flour. These pro-inflammatory foods set the stage for the deadly 'cytokine storm' that characterizes the lethal, over-reactive immune response to the H1N1 viral onslaught.
These nutrient-dense, inflammatory-calming foods, oils, and herbs top the charts:
Cold-water, Wild-Caught Fish - Alaskan Salmon, and olive-oil packed Sardines are highest in Vit. D and rich in omega-3 fats, which are the most powerful anti-inflammatory substances available without a prescription. Also eastern oysters. Atlantic, farm-raised salmon is devoid of calming, anti-inflammatory Omega 3's.
Walnuts – Walnuts are rich in Omega-6 fats that help to produce anti-inflammatory hormones. Runners-up are almonds, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and all-natural (unprocessed, nut butters). Popular supermarket peanut butter contains hydrogenated oils which are pro-inflammatory.
Flax Seed Oil – Rich in Omega 3's and highest in alpha linolenic oil, both are highly anti-inflammatory. Flax goes rancid quickly. Combine with olive oil, lemon, and drizzle over greens. Sprinkle crushed flax seeds over salads and into morning oatmeal. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Wherever flaxseeds become a regular food item among the people, there will be better health.”
Tumeric - Dr. Art Ayer says that cucumin, the active ingredient in turmericc, “cures cytokine storms.” ( Curcumin was found to be pharmacologically safe in human clinical trials with doses up to 10 g/day. A phase 1 human trial with 25 subjects using up to 8000 mg of Curcumin per day for 3 months found no toxicity from curcumin. Five other human trials using 1125-2500 mg of Curcumin per day have also found it to be safe. Runners-up are Tulsi tea, and neem.
In the words of Dr. David Frawley: “If I had only a single herb to depend upon for all possible health and dietary needs, I would without much hesitation choose the Indian spice turmeric.”
Turmeric Tea (Best ½ hr. before sleep)
2 cups water (or milk)1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger1/2 teaspoon powdered turmeric1 tablespoon maple syrupJuice of 1/2 lemon (or, ½ teaspoon ghee).Bring water to a boil, then add powdered herbs. If preparing with milk, gently heat but do not boil or scald milk. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain tea into a mug, add maple syrup and lemon (or ghee), stirring to combine. Drink warm.
Enjoy 2-3 cups of turmeric tea per day, but best 1/2 hr. before sleep. Women who are pregnant or nursing and sufferers of congestive heart failure, gallstones, or obstruction of the bile ducts should not take turmeric tea.
Berries - The darker the better. Try for fresh and local but blueberries and cherries freeze well. Elderberry extract can act as a preventative; known for it's powerful anti-viral and anti-inflammatory effects. Also, black currant juice (Currant C is especially delicious) is very high in protective anthrocyanidins (
Dark Green Vegetables – are rich in Vitamin C that dampens inflammation. (Cooking destroys Vitamin C; but releases Vit A. and lycopene in tomatoes). Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, kale, and brussel sprouts replenish nutrients responsible for strengthening the cell membranes of the mouth, nose, and gut; the first line of defense against invading microorganisms.
Sweet Potato – A healthy complex carbohydrate, contains powerful anti-oxidants that help to heal inflammation. (Don't confuse with yams) . Delicious cut as 'fries' and roasted with olive oil, cumin and salt.
Olive Oil – important source of oleic acid, another anti-inflammatory. Helps absorb nutrients in raw vegetables. Extra Virgin, or cold-pressed are less processed than other types.
Quinoa – A gluten free 'grain,' is abundant in protein, with a delicate, nutty flavor that takes well to spices and welcomes vegetables. It's actually the seed of a green leafy plant. Preparation is as simple as quick-cooking rice.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Upgrade Your Immune System: Individualize your Diet

“What extracts from the 'Vedas' I have read fall on me like the
light of a higher and purer luminary,...It rises on me like the
full moon after the stars have come out, wading through some for summer
stratification of the sky.”
---- Henry David Thoreau
the Journal of 1850

Take your health into your own hands instead of relying on toxic medications or vaccines to safeguard your health. However much you may like your Doctor – you'll be able to impress him/her with the strides you can make by incorporating practical stress-reducing techniques into your lifestyle, avoiding processed foods whenever you can, and individualizing your diet for maximum nutrition.

Kick your dietary status up a few notches to boost your immune system:

. Know Yourself: First, find out what your blood type is, and use it as a guideline to the best foods for your individual metabolic type. For example, Type 'O's are statistically blessed with the hardiest constitution, but are most likely to be gluten sensitive, and lactose intolerant: goat, farmer cheese, and almond, or soy milk are best.. Type 'B's can eat more widely, including most grains (but quinoa is a wise choice) and can include dairy, but need to be especially wary of poultry, especially chicken. They do very well on deep water, oily fish. Type 'A' s can thrive on a largely vegetarian diet, but should follow a similar dietary template to 'B's.

Ayurveda is a profound spiritual science concerned largely with the energetics of food as a means of balancing constitutional humors, which are termed doshas. Knowing your 'Dosha' helps to optimize your diet through harmonizing it with your individual type. Thus there is no standard diet for everyone. The concern is that the energy of the food we take in, and the manner in which we take it, is in harmony with our own nature. Ayurvedic dietary philosophy is based upon the ancient knowledge of the Veda's, which sheds light on the elemental forces, air, fire, and water – contained in all life. It emphasizes specific elements, and when these are out of balance, the causative forces behind disease are set in motion. Ayurveda seeks to balance the doshas through specific foods, spices, herbs, and even remedies including gems, mantra and yoga. A very simplistic overview of the three doshas correlates the Vata Dosha to air, or wind. Vata people are typically the lightest among the three, usually more ectomorphic and 'dry.' Their eliminatory system can be weak. Pitta's are associated with the fire element. They are well proportioned and don't lack for muscle; their digestive 'fire' is strong, but they can most easily erupt into inflammatory conditions. Kapha, are the large-eyed, heaviest, and most languid of the three. A combination of earth and water, they are prone to building excess 'tissue.' and need to overcome the inertia inherent in their psychological and physical constitution. Treatment of dosha imbalances, or excess, is accomplished primarily through the six tastes – sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent, which are also classified as heating or cooling in nature. For example, pungent spices like cayenne or ginger are therapeutic for kapha in helping to spark their metabolism, but inadvisable for pita's who need to be calmed, or pacified with cooling energies like those found in bitter herbs like cilantro, turmeric, dandelion ,and saffron.
Alkalize your System: Fruits and Vegetables are alkaline -- while animal protein, processed starches and sugar, alcohol and coffee, acidify your blood. An alkaline system is strong and inhospitable to bugs and viral attacks. Umeboshi plums are an excellent remedy for acidic conditions and also have antibiotic properties. Take one umbeboshi per day dissolved in tea , or consumed in salad or sushi to strengthen and alkalize.

Meditate and Exercise Everyday: Mild exercise stimulates your immune system. Walks in the early morning sun, before 10 -11am, are most beneficial. Meditation and breath awareness especially help to relieve stress, (see Gaia's July article, 'Managing Stress with Desk Pranyama..' ) If you're sitting at a computer for long periods of time, avoid EMF stressors: Stretch and change your focus at least once or twice an hour. Placing plants and crystals near to your computer also helps to counter negative EMF energy. Wear natural fibers whenever possible. Enjoy a lunch break outdoors and ground yourself as often as you can; hug a tree, garden, take a walk in the woods or park.

More Guidelines for Optimal Nutrition
Dine when you are conscious of your food; not stressed or preoccupied with reading or TV.

Begin each meal by giving thanks and maintaining a peaceful attitude. E.g. Arguing while eating turns your food to 'poison.'

Include at least one raw dish in each meal to keep your blood alkaline.

Get in touch with your hunger. Don't overload your stomach.

Avoid foods that are too hot or too cold.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vegetarian Alert: Heal your Diet with this Ayurvedic Superfood

Your own Self-Realization is the greatest
service you can render the world
--Sri Ramna Maharshi

Grass-fed organic ghee is as delicious as it is healing. Among its chief nutritional benefits; it calms inflammatory conditions associated with the pitta dosha, like acne...and it's high in CLA, an important nutrient abundant in red meat and dairy, often lacking in vegetarian diets.

CLA, (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) increases satiety, promotes weight loss, and lowers insulin resistance. Why grass fed? Grass-fed cows have 500% more CLA in their milk than do grain-fed. If you do nothing else but include adequate amounts of CLA in your diet ( 2 - 4 grams a day), you'll lighten up by 2 - 4 lb in a year.

Ghee, which is actually clarified butter, maximizes absorption by carrying nutrients and protective spices deep into the tissues. Its ability to penetrate rapidly into the blood stream earns it a starring position in ayrurvedic medicine; it's been used as a 'carrier' for over a thousand years – essential to allowing nourishing formulas to strengthen the body (like chyrandush) and delivering potent formulas that target the blood brain barrier.
Heated ghee is slightly alkalizing, unlike cooking with butter and traditional cooking oils, which when heated, acidify the system. (An alkaline system is stronger and more inhospitable to 'foreign invaders', like bacteria, virus', etc...whereas acidity breeds toxicity, weaker immune function, vulnerability to infection, etc.) Ghee also has a higher smoking point than butter and most oils. Since casein and lactose are removed from ghee during the clarification process, even those allergic to dairy, casein, or lactose can benefit it.

3. CLA's benefits have shown to include lowering insulin resistance and “if there is inadequate intake of CLA, dietary fat cannot be moved into cells or stored as energy. The end result is that the body stores this fat” according to James Howenstein, MD in 'A Physicians Guide to Natural Health Products that work.'
In 1945 Dr. Weston Price identified what he called “Activator X” as a critical nutrient to optimal health. The vitamin, since identifed as Vit K2 is naturally occurring in the fat of ruminants that graze upon growing, green grass.

Delicious, Nourishing Ways to use Ghee:

Add a teaspoon of ghee to chai recipes to deliver healing spices deep into tissues.

Chyrandush – ghee and honey-based ,with ayurvedic herbs; nourishing, delicious, and child-friendly. A tablespoon a day keeps the Doctor way. (great for back-to-school).

Drizzle melted ghee over popcorn.

Prepare omlettes with ghee.

Add ghee to oatmeal.

Saute veggies in ghee.

Drizzle over favorite bread.

Saute garlic in ghee, spread on naan,or brushcetta.

Add ghee to hot spiced rice.

Guilt-free dessert: Mix 2tsp. Ghee with 1tsp carob powder add agave nectar to taste. Spread on rice cake for a satisfying, gluten-free treat.

Guilty Desserts – substitute grass-fed ghee for butter or shortening in cookies, cakes, etc. The taste will be enriched and bakery will stay fresh longer.
Spiced Chai with Ghee

(Serves 4)
4 whole cloves*
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
3 cups water
1/4 inch fresh ginger*
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups grass fed milk
Sugar to taste
2 tablespoons black tea
2 teaspoons organic grass fed ghee

*Pitta should avoid pungent herbs; go lightly on these. If you are Pita, also avoid salt, cheese, yogurt, and alcohol; all too acidic.

Slow Food Method: Add spices, water, ginger and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer on low for 5 minutes. Add the milk and sugar to the pan and bring to a boil again. Add tea and bring to a boil again. Strain. Add 2 teaspoons ghee and cool slightly before serving.
Quicker Method: Bring water and spices to a boil. Add tea and milk and bring to a boil once more. Strain. Add 2 teaspoons ghee before serving.

Benefits of Chai Spices:

Cardamom: Supports digestion without increasing heat. Mucus forming properties of milk neutralized when cardamom is added. Promotes expectorant, digestive actions.

Ginger: Has heating, cleansing, toning and stimulating properties. Promotes digestion, and helps resolve respiratory issues due to phlegm; arthritic conditions due to coldness.

Cinnamon: Warming spice used in cold formulas; aids digestion.

Clove: Energizing herb, aromatic, benefits lungs and stomach.
Fragrant Naan with Ghee(Makes 8 – 16 naan)
1 1/2 active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup warm water (105F-110F)
1 tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
5 tbsp ghee
3 tbsp plain yogurt
additional ghee for brushing
additional salt, for sprinkling

Mix yeast and water, let sit for 10 minutes. Add salt and flour, then ghee and yogurt. If necessary to bind the dough, add additional flour or another tablespoon of ghee. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes in bread mixer). Cover in an oiled bowl and let rise for about 90 minutes in a warm place, until doubled. Punch down dough and knead for 10 minutes more on a floured, clean surface. Divide the dough into 8 or more balls, then roll out; try for teardrop shape. (Roll thicker for frying; if broiling about 1/4” is good.)

To pan-fry:Brush one side of a rolled out naan with ghee and sprinkle lightly with salt. In a hot skillet or griddle, place ghee-side down. Brush the other side with ghee. Flip after about 2 – 3 minutes. It should be turning slightly brown, with darker spots (similar to tortillas). Remove.

To stone-broil:Preheat oven to broil, place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven (about 20 minutes). Once the stone is sizzling, naan can be placed onto stone. After 90 seconds, check for bronw spots; depending on oven temperature, it may take up to 2 -3 minutes per naan. Carefully remove naans with tongs. Drizzle ghee over naan and a pinch of kosher salt.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cuddle Therapy: The Healing Power of Touch Can Help Protect Against Flu

There is natural power, and there is spiritual power. In the old
days, my people did not separate daily life in the world from spiritual
life. Everything was spiritual, our attitude was spiritual and Wakan Tanka was involved in everything we said and did.
– Fools Crow, Teton Sioux, 1975

Touch therapy boosts the immune system with no side effects (except love) -- and looks to be even more important than diet, exercise and vitamin therapies when it comes to protecting against 'bugs' and helping to overcome chronic health challenges. ‘Inoculate’ loved ones now against the flu, by incorporating healing touch into your daily routine.

Liberally indulge in massage, cuddling, hand-holding, and good-old hugs. College students and singles can book themselves into a massage school to receive full body massages at a fraction of the cost of a professional one. Visits to the chiropractor also help to strengthen immune response and are often covered by health insurance.

Try incorporating healing touch 'games' into your next party: Host a 'pot luck' healing circle and have everyone bring their favorite therapy, back rub technique, or ginger compress. Play 'musical massage' or spin the bottle (using mini-neck and shoulder massage as the prize).
Remember the elderly. Seniors are actually the least-touched group in our culture. When visiting nursing homes, hold hands with residents while chatting and sharing stories. Bestow generous 'hello' and 'good-bye' hugs.

Young people under the age of 24 may be especially vulnerable to this latest 'bug.' Spend extra time with children now to protect against the flu once school starts. Incorporate serious cuddling into their TV-time routines. If younger family members are resistant to formal massage, offer foot rubs, pedicures and manicures and massage their limbs. Trimming hair can also lead to head-stroking, which releases beneficial hormones.

In his book ‘ Quantum Healing,' Dr. Deepok Chopra, M.D., cited a study where rabbits were fed extremely toxic, high-cholesterol diets. Consistent results emerged confirming the damaging effects of the high fat diet, except for one group – which strangely displayed 60% fewer symptoms. Nothing in the rabbits' physiology could account for their high tolerance to the diet, until it was discovered that the student who fed this group of rabbits enjoyed fondling and petting them. He would hold each rabbit lovingly for a few minutes before feeding it the poisonous diet. Repeat experiments displayed results confirming that holding rabbits lovingly even for a few minutes before feeding, enabled the animals to overcome the toxic diet.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Aquarius Lunar Eclipse

Lunar eclipses are like super full moons -- all emotional energy is magnified and supercharged. This full moon in Aquarius sets the perfect stage for group meditation; a time when reflecting with an open mind brings the gifts of understanding, peace, and of truth uncovered by the moon's full light. Eclipses offer a magical doorway to new understandings through which our hopes and dreams can be evolved and realized.

On a collective level for the USA, the August 5th lunar eclipse falls a few days after Obama's birthday and so opposes his sun-sign. Since it belongs to Saros Series 11S, which according to Bernadette Brady is a family having to do with 'humanitarian reform' – some blocks may be removed that were preventing health care reform from coming to fruition....or more likely, Obama (and many of us) may have to accept the fact that the American public still isn't ready for it; really doesn't want it. The Light of this Aquarius moon falls in Obama's house of 'hidden enemies' – so some previously submerged complaints and people opposing health reform are now surfacing.

Lunar eclipse energies usually manifest for us personally as internalized events – as in the realization, or culmination of particular emotionally-charged eras in our life, which now are clearly outmoded and worn – nonetheless, sometimes painful to relinquish. Today's eclipse carries a clear message for achieving higher consciousness through group effort, but not without a few bumps in the having to sit down and make peace with 'foes'. Presidents Clinton and Obama, both Leos, are setting the example.

Personally, the eclipse will affect you only if you have planets within orb of 13 degrees Aquarius, (or, as Obama does in opposing Leo), by shining the light of truth on previously clouded issues or relationship and bringing an internalized sense of closure to that area of your life where the eclipse falls in your natal chart. You'll feel it only if you live on the East Coast, India, or parts of China where it's visible.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Managing Stress with Desk Pranayama

Try this for a mental boost -- instead of another cup of coffee.

The close relationship between respiration and changing emotional states works two ways, allowing us to relax through mindful breathing: With deep inhales, long exhales, and alternate nostril breathing, we can alter our state of mind, improve brainpower, - and banish emotional stress.

In The Yogic Tradition, 'Breath is the Foundation of All Life...'

Begin by relaxing and opening your body.
. Reverse Venus Lock: Rub you hands together until you feel some heat. Place your right palm over your heart center and cover it with your left hand. Close your eyes. Take a few deep abdominal breathes, until you feel centered.
Fold your hands together and interlace your fingers. Stretch your arms out, as you turn your interlaced fingers away from you. Now raise your interlaced fingers toward the ceiling – take a deep breath to the count of four (more if you can) – and drop your shoulders.
Exhale and release, relax your arms by your side.
Practice this several time to open your chest.
Desk Pranayama
Through pranayama, or breath control, you can calm emotions, and sharpen your mind. Your breath is a metaphor for your life. Are you drinking deeply? Or just taking little sips.
Remember to ‘check in’ with your breath frequently.
Place your relaxed palms just above your knees (assuming you're at your desk)
Focus your awareness at a point between your eyebrows, or at your heart center. Breathe in slowly through your nostrils, moving your awareness from your rising belly to the top of your head. Once you feel 'full', release slowly by exhaling deeply. Practice this, at least 10 times, until you feel calm.
Use 'So-Ham'
Once you're relaxed, turn your palms up and add the Hamsa meditation to your breath, saying silently 'so' on the inhale – and 'ham' as you exhale.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Yogis consider this the ultimate method for calming the mind and nervous system. It also works to balance both sides of the brain, unleashing optimum creative thought and logical reasoning. Last, but not least-- alternate nostril breathing cleanses the vital channels, freeing more energy and reducing fatigue.
Start with three up to 20 per day.
1. Seal off the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril to the count of four seconds.
2. Immediately close off the left nostril with your right ring finger and little finger; Hold your breath to the count of sixteen.
3. Release your right thumb and exhale to the count of eight.
This completes one half round.

Quick Tips
  • Avoid sugar, it dulls your ability to concentrate and, along with refined carbohydrates causes sharp drops in blood sugar that make you feel more tired.

  • Connect with Nature.

  • Take a brief walk in the morning sun, and/or meditate outside, as the sun sets.
  • Try gazing into the sun for just a few seconds shortly before sunset... inhale its energy deeply.

  • Take your shoes off. Find a place where you can walk barefoot on the grass.

  • Take time to connect with friends and family.
  • Trust in the Divine Plan. You are where you are supposed to be.