Breathe

In today’s world we are bombarded with distractions that alter our innate and intimate relationship with the universe. There is constant noise – a cacophony of sound that drowns out the soft whispers of nature. Sounds of engines from vehicles on the ground, in the air, and at sea. Sirens and alarms that are redundant and dismissible, and all manner of beeps, whirrs, buzzes, tinkles, and rings from our omnipresent devices. The odors of automobile exhaust, factory fumes, and greenhouse gases encourage us to keep all the windows and doors closed. City streets are clogged with all modes of transportation because no one walks anymore. Buildings block the sky, the sun, and the wind. Constant artificial lights disrupt our circadian rhythms and keep us from ever knowing the calming and restorative darkness. Concrete obstructs the flow of earth’s terrestrial energy. And let’s not forget the constant onslaught of media information from negative vitriol to fake news, needless and superficial advertisements, celebrity gossip, disturbing news clips, and a plethora of articles to help you improve your physical, mental, and emotional health. All of these constant disturbances are only obstructions that block our flow of energy, stifle our communication with others, and block our connection with mother earth.

When do we sit quietly to listen to the sounds of birds? Or for that matter, how often are we somewhere that we can even hear a bird? When are we still enough to feel the air on our skin, hear the soft rustle of the wind in the trees, experience the stillness within us, just be in the present moment? We are constantly focusing on the demanding diversions of our whirlwind existence, full of regret for the past and fear for the future. There is no time left to even be aware of the present moment – to just BE. When all is quiet, we can concentrate on the natural rhythm of the breath and return to our inherent wholeness. Focusing on the breath of life is to experience the divine source, the divinity within. Realizing the full potential of this essential life affirming energy sustains us, calms us, and inspires us.

My introduction to breathwork was through Sudarshan Kriya, and it was life-changing. The course is called the Happiness Program, and I was definitely happier upon completing the 3-day course. I was also more energetic and focused, and at the same time calmer, less anxious, and ready to deal with whatever obstacles life might throw in my path. The class helped me realize that my thoughts create my reality, and I began to work on keeping those negative thoughts at bay, which is not an easy task for me. Performing SKY daily is the secret, because consistency is the key to radical results.

How does Sudarshan Kriya, more commonly referred to as SKY, work? It is a simple rhythmic breathing technique that harnesses the energy within the breath. SKY practice helps to harmonize body, mind, and spirit, and acts as a bridge for effortless meditation.  Breathwork is one of the best and least expensive forms of self-care. Scientific studies have demonstrated that SKY breath and meditation lower levels of stress, anxiety, and anger, while increasing mental alertness. Participants have also reported better sleep habits, improved relationships, more energy, and increased confidence. Overall, everyone is happier!

SKY breath programs are offered through the Art of Living, which is a global humanitarian organization founded by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. It operates in over 150 countries bringing education, empowerment, and hope to countless individuals and communities through trauma relief, prisoner rehabilitation, rural development, medical camps, and schools. Sri Sri’s goal is to bring peace to a chaotic and violent world, one person at a time and one healing breath at a time.

Please contact me if you would like more information about Art of Living and check out the website, https://www.artofliving.org/us-en. It truly is life-changing.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573542/

Cerebral Calisthenics

Would you like to decrease depression and anxiety, boost your self-confidence, sharpen your memory, AND sleep better? All this can be accomplished in about 3 – 5 hours per week. What is this magic treatment? Exercise. That’s right. That thing your mom used to tell you to go outside and get when you were a child just to get you out of the house. Now you are older, and you still need to go outside and get some exercise.

It is a well-known fact that exercise lowers our risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. That alone is enough reason to get up and move, but the emotional benefits are just as valuable and amazing, if not more so. After only one exercise session, you release mood enhancing hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, which act as messengers to the brain to create a sense of well-being and satisfaction. This is probably why people who exercise report higher energy levels and less anxiety and depression than their sedentary counterparts. Why does exercise improve our health in such significant ways? One reason is neurogenesis, which is the growth of new cells. Exercise creates new nerve cells, which generate new connections in your brain. Also, exercise stimulates the production of human growth hormone (HGH), otherwise known as youth serum, which tells your body to make new cells. This is a hormone that declines as we age so exercise is important to keep this hormone flowing and creating new stem cells, which act as a repair system for the body.

Exercise has been demonstrated to improve brain function and reduce the risk for dementia. A study written in the scientific journal, Gerontology, found that leg muscle strength correlated with cognition. Increased leg power was associated with improved cognitive ageing over a 10-year period. In other words, the people with stronger leg muscles had sharper brains.

To reap all these wonderful benefits do you need to run the Boston Marathon, or qualify for the Olympics in swimming, or train to be a challenger in the Iron Man competition? No, you can do something as simple and cost free as walking in the neighborhood. Or you can lift weights, dance, swim, play tennis or golf. In fact, a study of elderly participants in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that dance was the exercise that had the best chance of decreasing dementia. Nevertheless, any exercise that you enjoy will do the trick.

Guess what else? A gym is great if that’s what you prefer, but studies show that levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, are lower in people who engage in outdoor exercise as opposed to those who exercise indoors. Also, people who prefer outdoor activities have less anxiety, depression and stress than those that prefer to workout indoors. Could it be the bright healing solar rays that boost our mood? Or the warm Vitamin D that we absorb to build strong bones and boost our immune system? Or maybe it is the ancient spiritual connection with nature? There is actually a new field of psychology, ecotherapy, that examines our relationship with the environment, and studies our interaction with nature to promote physical and mental healing. Nature is a powerful healer and it is free to enjoy, regardless of whether you are playing, relaxing, or listening to the calming sounds of divine creation.

You don’t have to join an expensive gym or a yoga studio if that is not your thing. Movement is all that is needed. Get creative! Most of all, have a good time!

  • Plan a scavenger hunt with friends
  • Throw a Frisbee
  • Play catch with the dog
  • Throw a football with the kids
  • Take a dance class
  • Go hiking
  • Join a team sport
  • Go bowling
  • Clean the house
  • Play laser tag
  • Mow the grass
  • Jump on a trampoline
  • Kayak or paddleboard
  • Bike ride

https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/econature-therapy

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12815136/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4789972/

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-34764693

Plentiful Produce

Signs of spring are everywhere! April showers. May flowers. Sparkling sunshine. Blossoming flowers and flourishing gardens. Colorful fresh produce. Farmer’s Markets.

I love the Marietta Farmer’s Market. There are over 50 vendors with a variety of edibles ranging from cucumbers to watermelons, home-made breads to sweet desserts, and healthy teas to infused oils. So many wonderful delights! My favorite is the produce. All those wonderful fruits and vegetables are perfect for creating fresh summer recipes.  Of course, most of the farmers at our market offer organic, non-GMO produce, or do not use pesticides. That’s the other reason I love the Farmer’s Market. I get healthy organic produce without pesticides while supporting local farmers. It’s a great win for everyone. Except, of course, the pesticide companies.

Should we be concerned about those chemicals spliced into and sprayed on our plants? We already know that pesticides are not good for us. The question is how much is too much? Research studies have linked pesticide exposure to certain cancers such as colorectal and breast cancer. It is also associated with a higher risk of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, studies have indicated a negative effect on children in particular because their bodies are still developing. Preliminary research has identified a possible link between environmental chemical exposure and autism. Obviously, more research is necessary before a causative answer can be confirmed, but the prognosis does not look good.

Are pesticides necessary? Agribusiness corporations are certainly proponents. Commercially grown produce uses pesticides to cultivate a greater yield, a more perfect product that is pleasing to the eye, and a longer shelf life. Maximum residue levels (MRL) are set by national and international regulatory bodies, including the USDA.  After the plant is harvested, if pesticide levels exceed the MRL, the product is not allowed to be sold.

There is another organization that takes this process one step further. Environmental Working Group is a non-profit organization that protects public health by monitoring legislative proposals and industry standards and educating people so they can make healthy choices.  One of their projects involves a produce list called the Dirty Dozen – Clean Fifteen. The Dirty Dozen is a list of produce with the highest levels of pesticide (all within the legal limit, of course), and the Clean Fifteen is a list of plants with the lowest levels of pesticide. If 100% organic is not a possibility, which it isn’t for most of us, then at the very least, try to buy organic if it is on the Dirty Dozen list. Another thing to look for is the Non-GMO label, which means it has no pesticides inside the plant genes.

The following are some tips to decrease the amount of pesticide residue before eating:

  • Rinse in cold water while scrubbing with a soft brush.
  • Peel fruits and veggies on the Dirty Dozen list when applicable.
  • Use a mixture of 1% baking soda and water to soak apples for 12 – 15 minutes.
  • Rinse produce with ozonated water. This is water mixed with a specific type of oxygen.

Now is the time to buy fresh locally grown produce from your local farmer’s market.  Be sure and ask the farmer about pesticide use before you buy. If you are buying in store, be sure to keep the Dirty Dozen – Clean Fifteen list on your phone for reference.

Best advice? Grow your own garden!

Dirty Dozen

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale/Collard/Mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Bell and hot peppers
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes

 Clean Fifteen

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Onions
  5. Papayas
  6. Frozen sweet peas
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Broccoli
  10. Cabbage
  11. Kiwifruit
  12. Cauliflower
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Honeydew
  15. Cantaloupe

https://www.ewg.org/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dirty-dozen-foods#reducing-pesticides

Silent Sustainable Slumber

Sleep, a five letter word meaning a condition of the body in which the muscles are relaxed, the eyes are closed, and consciousness is suspended. For most of us, the word sleep conjures up relaxing thoughts and images such as fluffy sheep leaping over fences, raindrops showering metal roofs, meditating beside a waterfall, watching babies sleep to the soft sounds of lullabies, snuggling with a warm, fluffy kitten, hugging our favorite pillow while visions of sugarplums dance in our heads. Everyone loves to sleep. Who wants to get out of bed when the alarm goes off? Not me. So why are we all sleep deprived and not sleeping the requisite 7 – 9 hours nightly? Could it be the 60-hour work week in the corporate world? Maybe the stress of working two jobs just to make ends meet? Maybe it is our addiction to our electronic devices? Could it be the baby who doesn’t sleep through the night or just the stress of raising children on a daily basis? It could most certainly be the fear of the next pandemic! There is another potential culprit to add to the list. Lack of sleep is influenced by your microbiome. OMG! Does every medical condition relate to our gut bugs? Apparently, yes.

It is an established fact that the microbiome interacts with every other organ in our body. Microbes are essential to the production of neurotransmitters which are messengers that communicate with the brain, the intestines, and every other organ system in the body. These messengers regulate multiple processes in addition to the obvious one of digestion. They control muscle movement, heart rate, breathing, mood, and guess what? They even coordinate our sleep cycles.

These messengers also assist with the production of serotonin.  If our gut bugs are not blossoming with robust, healthy, good bacteria, our serotonin levels are low. If serotonin levels are low, anxiety and depression and sadness dominate our emotions. They also impact our sleep cycles. Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or having deep restorative sleep depends on our serotonin levels. Flourishing gut bugs are essential for adequate serotonin production which helps with maintaining a healthy sleep cycle, but a satisfactory amount of sleep is necessary to maintain a healthy microbiome. It’s a potential catch 22 situation.

So here is the good news. You can eat your way to health, relaxation, and somnolent slumber. No drugs or procedures involved. Obviously, there are other distractions, obstacles, and conditions that affect sleep, but remedying the external issues will not work unless the internal issues are resolved. Just another reason to eat those fruits and vegetables. So go ahead and prepare for your journey to the Land of Nod. Fix a green smoothie, have a salad for lunch, eat an apple for a snack, and keep nuts on hand for those between meal munchies. If you are already doing that and still battle with the sandman nightly, make sure you are not sabotaging your sleep by following these guidelines:

  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Have a cup of chamomile or herbal tea.
  • Read a book before bedtime.
  • Avoid using electronic devices with a screen such as phones and laptops.                     
  • Keep light and noise levels to a minimum in the bedroom.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon and limit alcohol late in the evening.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Wake up at the same time every day and avoid daytime naps.
  • Quit smoking.

“Also, I could finally sleep. And this was the real gift, because when you cannot sleep, you cannot get yourself out of the ditch—there’s not a chance.” — Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6779243/

Insomnia: How do I stay asleep? Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/insomnia/faq-20057824

How gut microbiomes contribute to good sleep. Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-gut-microbes-contribute-to-good-sleep

Healthy Holidays!

Fall is here, bringing with it that special time of year from October through December, that we associate with the holidays, Pumpkin Season! Here’s the best news! The great orange pumpkin is not just for family gatherings anymore. We can enjoy it on a daily basis with friends and family or completely alone. Everything from pumpkin lattes, pumpkin butter, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin hummus, pumpkin pies, and pumpkin quiche are available with just a swipe of your credit card. While browsing through Pinterest the other day, I even found a recipe for pumpkin lasagna. Nourishment does not get any better than the lovely orange gourd.

As a pumpkin lover myself, I never complain about the abundance of pumpkin treats, but it’s also a time to enjoy many other taste sensations that are quintessential culinary celebrations during this magical time of year. Cornbread stuffing with the wonderful aromas of rosemary, thyme, and sage, green beans almondine, citrusy cranberry relish, sweet potatoes rich with the warm woodsy fragrant aroma of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg are not only traditional but essential. Who doesn’t love the scents of Christmas? While we are all looking forward to the scrumptious tastes of this savory season, we should also be aware of the fantastic nutritional benefits in so many of the foods we indulge in at this time of year.

Let’s start with the green beans. They are full of Vitamin A and folic acid which decreases inflammation and supports our nervous and immune system. Cornmeal, used for the cornbread in our classic Southern stuffing is also a great source of folate which enhances red blood cell growth and function. Sweet potatoes have lots of Vitamin A for healthy teeth, eyes and skin, as well as Vitamin C for a healthy immune system. They are loaded with fiber and antioxidants, both of which boost gut health by promoting the growth of good gut bacteria and maintaining a leak-proof intestinal lining. Research studies in animals have indicated that the nutrients in sweet potatoes have cancer fighting properties and they enhance brain function. Pumpkin is loaded with the same wonderful nutrients as sweet potato, yet pumpkin is only 49 calories per cup versus 188 calories per cup of sweet potato. It contains lots of potassium for heart health as well. Here’s a fun fact – pumpkin seeds have plenty of the amino acid tryptophan, the same ingredient in turkey that makes you want to take a nap. Try a handful before bedtime and prevent that 3 am insomniac attack. 

What about the herbs and spices that we use in abundance to create the delicious culinary delights for friends and family throughout the holiday season? These flavorful ingredients derived from dried plants, contain antioxidants which means they prevent cell damage and decrease inflammation. That’s reason enough to use lots of fresh herbs in all your recipes, but each of these spices also have unique medicinal properties that have been recognized for centuries. All of these spices and herbs are used in Ayurvedic medicine, the ancient Indian holistic treatment for maintaining wellness. Rosemary can improve digestion and enhance focus and performance. Sage improves oral health and may prevent dental plaque. Cloves are good for oral health, toothache pain and respiratory ailments. Additionally, cloves contain manganese which is important for good brain function and strong bones. Sage and cinnamon decrease blood sugar by improving insulin sensitivity and decreasing insulin resistance.  Cinnamon is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can potentially decrease risk for many common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Nutmeg has also been shown to stabilize blood sugar and increase heart health.

Who knew the Holidays could be so healthy, right? So, whether you are gathering for Thanksgiving, planning a happy Hanukkah, hosting a convivial Kwanzaa, or celebrating a candlelight Christmas, indulge, imbibe, and enjoy!

Letting Go

For four amazingly wonderful days in October, I enjoyed a relaxing respite at the Art of Living Ayurveda spa in Boone, NC. The retreat sits atop a mountain surrounded by rolling green hills that are just beginning to reveal the beautiful colors of fall, soothing saffron, ardent amber, and colorful crimson. My days there were ideal with a clear blue sky, a perfect 72 degrees in the sunshine, and a soft autumn breeze sending whispers through the chameleon leaves. It was a time to enjoy the majesty and wonder of creation, reflect on my past experiences and the prospect of things to come, and the relationships that have impacted my life in very meaningful ways. A time to be still, enter the silence, listen for the quiet, calming voice of God, and let go. Let go of desires and expectations, absolve anger, surrender shame, forgive mistakes, and most importantly, set fear free.

Fear holds us back and stifles creativity. Fear keeps us from exploring, from seeking answers to questions because the response may be unacceptable. Fear oppresses, controls, and isolates.  Fear is a weight dragging you down a desolate path. Fear keeps us from loving. Fear keeps us from living.  

If you release all fear, only love remains. Love for the earth and sky and everything in between. Love for the people in your life and even those outside the immediate circle, love of the struggle, success, and surrender that is life’s journey, but mostly love for yourself.

We currently live in an epidemic of fear. Fear of disease, which is certainly relevant today. Fear of exposure and vulnerability. Fear of betrayal and brutality, just to name a few. Fear breeds distrust, causing us to doubt our neighbors, friends, workplace environments, and government.  Distrust abounds not just in our nation, but in our world, and the result is tangible and physical. Many nations are struggling with chronic illnesses which are perplexing and difficult to treat. Depression and suicide are global issues. Even before the pandemic hit, we felt unhappy and isolated. COVID only accentuated the situation. Fear cannot be eliminated, but as the song says, “Never let your fear decide your fate”.

There are many things in life which we cannot control. It is in recognizing this one truth that we become free. Acceptance follows. Accept the laws of nature, accept others as they are, accept yourself. Affirmation of your strengths and weaknesses and all the parts in between allow you to relinquish control, liberating you to be the person you are meant to be. You become happy being you. You can follow your passion regardless of monetary rewards or accolades. You can live inside your own skin and be happy.

Others approval is not necessary. Living for other people only brings confusion, distrust, feelings of inadequacy and ultimately, failure. You can never be what others require of you because then you are nothing more than a counterfeit. You are hollow and empty on the inside.  The only person you are capable of being is you. 

The essence of you, the core of you is your shining light where love resides. In love lies approval, kindness, strength, resilience, faith, hope, and creativity. Love will never fail you.

Gut Health Equals Brain Health

I recently watched Ocean Robbins interview Team Sherzai in relation to their research on preventing Alzheimer’s disease and maintaining optimal brain health. Their years of research have identified the most critical components of having a well-functioning brain for a lifetime. Guess what they are? Diet, exercise, stress reduction. Sounds easy, but most of us fall short of making these simple lifestyle changes. And it’s not all our fault. We live in a very complex, fast paced, stressful society that has high expectations and demands our attention 24/7. At some point, all of us reach that point where the only thing left to say is, “Enough!” Maybe that day is today.

Team Sherzai recommended the following ten things to Incorporate into your lifestyle to maintain a healthy brain for a lifetime:

  1. Follow the MIND diet. This is a Mediterranean style diet that is a whole plant diet. Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits, but decrease the amount of meat and dairy. Preliminary studies with the MIND diet have shown a decrease risk for Alzheimer’s.
  2. Build cross brain connections. Meditation or grounding techniques, such as recitation or abdominal breathing, will help to redirect the brain and focus the mind on pleasant memories or sensations.
  3. Switch up your routine. Don’t follow the same route to work every day. Learn something new, maybe a new hobby or exercise routine.
  4. Take brisk walks. This decreases the inflammatory hormone, cortisol, and it encourages the growth of new blood vessels.
  5. Use these three exercise strategies: Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise, include some strength training for your muscles, and do this consistently for 5 days a week. Random acts of exercise don’t count.
  6. Replace bad stress with good stress. Seriously and with intention, look at your life and release those things that are no longer needed or not relevant to the life you want to live.
  7. Eat foods your brain loves. Leafy greens, blueberries, turmeric, and coffee are great starters.
  8. SLEEP! Lack of sleep is destructive to your brain. Aim for 7-9 hours per night.
  9. Establish healthy routines. Arbitrary healthy acts are not beneficial. Once your healthy routines are hard wired, they will occur naturally.
  10. Use SMART goals. The acronym stands for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Sensitive.

Gut health equals brain health. The science of the microbiome is life changing for everyone, not just those of us with gastrointestinal disorders. Gut health can determine whether or not we will have a life of good health, well-being, emotional stability, and productivity well into our golden years or a life of sickness, disease, fatigue and emotional unhappiness. Good gut health can potentially prevent a diagnosis of heart disease, autoimmune diseases such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Grave’s disease, and even Alzheimer’s.

The notion that good nutrition equals good health is a concept that has been accepted for years. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Thanks to current research, it is now an established fact. Eating a healthy diet has never been more important than now that we have experienced the results of a pandemic. We must boost our immunity in order to save not only our lives, but those we love as well. Good nutrition is essential for holistic health.

https://www.kathleenchoe.com/post/2017/09/01/cross-brain-connections-what-are-they-good-for-anyway

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mind-diet#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

https://teamsherzai.com/

Veggilicious

Green Smoothie

The best way to heal your gut is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of them. They boost your immunity, strengthen the gut lining, enhance your beneficial gut bacteria, and produce more serotonin, which makes you happier. What’s an easy way to get your minimum daily requirement of these nutritional rock stars? Drink a green smoothie! It’s full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The following green smoothie recipe, compliments of Dr. Robynne Chutkan, is healthy, delicious, and provides three servings of fruits and veggies. That’s half of your daily serving in one drink!

Here is a breakdown of the nutritional goodness in this powerhouse drink.

Greens

 Any of the following are appropriate for this smoothie:

Kale is loaded with Vitamin K which helps with blood clotting, bone metabolism, and regulation of calcium levels. It also has Vitamin A and C which have antioxidant properties. That means they help prevent cell damage and certain diseases.

Collards are extremely high in calcium, which is necessary for bone health.  They also have Vitamin A, B9, and C and K.

Spinach is loaded with Vitamin K and A, and it also has high levels of folate. Folate can help prevent anemia, but it is especially important during pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence. Manganese, an important mineral for building bones and connective tissue, is found in spinach.

Swiss Chard, comparable to the first three, has significant amounts of Vitamin A, C, and K. Like spinach, it also has manganese and it also has another important mineral, potassium. Potassium is important for regulating heart rhythm, blood pressure, and nerve function.

Celery and Parsley

Like the greens, celery and parsley are loaded with Vitamins A, K, and C, and they are both rich in potassium and folate.

Fruits 

All fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fiber is essential for feeding gut bacteria.

Any fruit of choice is good, but avoid bananas because they have no liquid. The smoothie will be too thick. The fruits I prefer are apple (with cinnamon and nutmeg added), pineapple, orange, or blueberries (with cacao added).

Lemons

They are full of Vitamin C and they help decrease the bitterness of the greens.

Ginger

This wonderful and versatile herb has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has also been shown to speed up stomach emptying which helps prevent reflux. It is great for nausea, too.

Green Smoothie

2 Handfuls of Greens (spinach, collards, kale, swiss chard) Preferably use two different varieties for more nutritional benefit.

1 stalk of celery

½ handful of parsley

Juice of ½ to 1 lemon

1 inch section of fresh ginger, adjust to taste

1 Fruit of choice – apple, orange, pineapple, berries (Don’t use bananas, they will make it too thick.

Water or coconut water for desired consistency.

Add ice and blend in a Nutribullet or high speed mixer. Drink daily.

Stillness

Meditative Musings

I meditate to listen to the silence, to absorb the stillness. I meditate to recharge, energize and focus. I meditate to align my chakras and to integrate mind, body, and soul – the Holy Trinity within. I meditate to find purpose, direction and fulfillment. Lastly, I meditate to find enlightenment and to understand Truth. The Truth of not knowing, not understanding, and not visualizing the inherent Truth in being human. Acceptance of this “not knowing” is the true spiritual path. Life’s mysteries will always remain inexplicable.

My body is a holy gift from God, a complex physical manifestation of my spiritual essence, designed for sacred purpose and boundless creativity.

Ready yourself for a spiritual connection.

Be still and know that you and God are one.

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I feel the ground beneath me – firm, unyielding, and strong – my lineage. It is the dust from which I came and to which I will return.

I bring my attention to my feet, essential for walking upon holy ground that leads me down my journey’s path.

I am mindful of my knees that allow me to reverently kneel in the presence of the Divine Creator.

I bring my awareness to my hips that allow me to stand tall and steady when the tenacious winds of life are raging around me.

I contemplate my hands which are the hands of God, designed for reaching out to others in their time of need, and realizing that I am allowed to receive in my own time of need.

I bring my attention to my elbows which allow me to hold close the people that I love.

My shoulders allow me to lift up my brothers and sisters from the depths of despair and raise my clasped hand skyward to demand justice and equality for all.

My mouth speaks only Truth, the timeless knowledge of faith, hope, and love.

I am the embodiment of God, made in the image of my Divine Creator, commissioned to create a heavenly kingdom here on earth.

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Contemplate the softness, the stillness, the silence, the shelter of sable shadows within the mind’s eye. Allow yourself to experience the lightness of release and the fullness of connection with universal oneness.

Namaste

Spirit

There are many words for spirit – essence, soul, energy, phantom. For some, it is a soul that lives beyond time. For others, it is the essence of a person, a characterization of our individuality.  Many believe it is the creative energy that gives life and purpose to our human existence. I choose all of the above. It is the spirit where beliefs and passions are created. It is within our spirit that we find meaning and purpose in life. It is the force that guides us through our daily tasks, rejuvenates us when we are weary and disillusioned, and sustains us when we are broken and desperate. And it is this intangible, indestructible, infinite, and enigmatic power that is the eternal consciousness of existence.

Interestingly, spirit comes from the Latin word for breath. The Hebrew word ruach means both spirit and breath. A spiritual person would define this energy as the Breath of Life. Genesis tells us that God breathed life into Adam. It is the essential element that sustains us from our first inhalation until we take our last exhalation. It is the life force that monitors our thoughts and emotions and guides our decisions. These thoughts and beliefs power our actions. Therefore, we become what we believe. Consequently, all three – body, mind, and spirit – must be integrated in order to lead an authentic life. This interconnectedness means that if there is a problem in one of these areas, it will be experienced in all three.

The word spirit comes from the Latin word for breath.

Body, mind, spirit. It is the foundation of yoga. The literal translation of yoga is unity. It is a physical practice intended to strengthen the body, calm the mind, and strive for oneness with the Divine. The philosophy of yoga believes there are energy centers within the body. These are called chakras and they are aligned vertically from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. All seven of these main chakras must be in alignment for our energy, or prana, to flow freely and keep us mentally and physically healthy.

From a practical standpoint, what is the connection between mind, body, and spirit? It’s a timeless concept, but a trendy term for today. It’s discussed in churches, yoga studios, college campuses, to name a few. And it is a spiritual concept with very tangible physical implications. American medicine is beginning to understand that the connection is not just important, but essential to healing. We must develop good lifestyle habits to maintain physical health, empower our minds to believe we are in control of our health, and listen to the still small voice within that brings insight and compassion. We would do well to heed the words of the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu:

Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

Achieving a destiny of physical health, emotional stability, mental clarity, and spiritual enlightenment begins with only one thought – an empowering and inspirational thought to bring balance and brightness.

Therefore, it’s not enough to eat a healthy diet, you must be aware of your emotions and feelings that you experience throughout the day. It’s not enough to maintain a regular workout routine, you must take time to feel the rhythmic beat of your heart and the essential breath of life. Inhale and exhale with intention. It’s not enough to learn new skills and search for new experiences to keep your mind alert and focused, you must take time to go within and examine your desires and your reason for living.

Explore your passions! Find that creative, uninhibited energy that allows you to live an authentic life of enthusiastic spontaneity. Unite with the Divine that lives within. Your life will be full and abundant. Gurudev Sri Sri defines it this way:

Health is not a mere absence of disease. It is a dynamic expression of life – in terms of how joyful, loving, and enthusiastic you are.