Meditation

Meditation blog

Most of us have heard the expression, (also the title of a 1962 musical and song), “Stop the World, I want to get off!” During 2020 and into 2021, the world did stop but our minds did not. Our thoughts took us to some very scary places and created a different type of stress – one that filled us with anxiety, depression, fear, grief, and sadness. So, stopping the world, for many, was not the answer to helping us slow down and calming our minds.

 

How do we quiet our monkey minds, cut out the chatter, and become still? My favourite tool is Meditation. It is a way of focusing our attention inwards. Meditation can help us gain a greater self-knowledge; get in touch with our emotions; reduce chronic pain levels; live a fuller, richer life. As our awareness increases, we may become more compassionate and more open to each moment of our lives. For moments in time, we forget about our past regrets and our future fears and focus only on the here and now.

 

According to Edgar Cayce, “Prayer is like talking to God. Meditation is a way of listening to God.”

 

By connecting to the stillness within, we may truly discover our place and purpose in this vast Universe. We cease responding to “situations” or reacting to the words of others, we are simply being. We are no longer connecting to Ego, filled with anger and fear. Instead, we communicate with Spirit, taking an important step towards forgiveness, gratitude, and love. Our hearts open.

 

We become aware and are no longer anxious or worried. During these precious moments, we feel safe with no need to make decisions or plans. We are calm and at peace and, sometimes, we even feel a bubbling of joy. This joy comes from nowhere, connected to nothing, just emanating deeply from within.

 

This stillness even transcends our moments of meditation. Our lives change. We become more conscious and less reactive. We learn to ask for help to see things differently. We may even learn to stop and take a breath before responding to harsh words or uncomfortable situations.

 

Meditation can take many forms. It can vary from Transcendental Meditation, where you repeat an Ayurvedic mantra, to Mindful Meditation, which involves in being in the moment, aware of every sound or thought without reacting, to a basic meditation involving  repeating a word of your choice or simply watching the breath. Most forms of meditation are seated but there are also walking meditations, standing meditations, and eating meditations.

 

Meditation can be guided or silent or accompanied by soft music. It may be done in a group or by oneself. It is performed sitting in a comfortable position, on the floor or in a chair, usually with backs straight and knees bent. Lying down is not recommended because this often ends with falling asleep in the middle of the session. Eyes are usually shut but may remain open. It can be done anywhere and anytime as long as you are not driving a vehicle or using heavy machinery.

 

Meditation is an excellent way to begin and end each day, even if just for 15-20 minutes per session. For many, it changes how their day goes and deepens and improves their sleep.

 

How do you figure out which type of meditation to choose? Just choose a simple method and begin. One of the easiest methods is simply to focus on the breath. Breathing in on the count of four, holding the breath on the count of four, and breathing out on the count of four. Repeat. Or you can simply breath in for four and out for four.

 

Heart Math involves breathing directly into your heart for a count of 4 or 5 and out from your heart for the same number of counts. Feel the relaxation that follows. Feel the stress relief. Is your body sending you messages or guidance? Listen. Your Ego speaks very loudly but your Spirit and intuition speak softly. Feel the gratitude.

 

By meditating at the same time each day, you will develop this new habit. Find a time that works best for you and easiest to maintain. If not, you will probably forget to meditate for days, or even weeks, and eventually stop the practice completely.

 

Meditation is indeed a practice and the more we practise the better we become. The easier it is to go within. The deeper we go. The more benefits we discover. And yes, eventually, no matter what is happening around us, our bodies slow down and our mind is calmed.

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Pain

Pain blog image

Do you suffer from debilitating pain? Pain can sometimes be a gift, a message sent from the Central Nervous System to the Brain. It is the body’s way of letting us know that something is wrong, of protecting us from continuing to injure ourselves, making things worse, and, sometimes, telling us that it is time to see a health care professional. There is a TV commercial for a pain drug that says, “When the body says no, ‘……’ says yes.” But, in order to be safe, when the body’s wisdom tells us “no”, we should respond accordingly.

 

Pain after a cut, bite, fall, injury, or a medical procedure is short term and is referred to as acute. In these cases, inflammation is the body’s way of healing and repairing the injured tissue. But, if it continues longterm, even permanently, it is labeled as chronic. Chronic pain is often described as lasting many months after the injury or medical procedure has healed. In most of these cases, the primary origin is excess inflammation. The names given to many painful conditions end in “itis”, denoting inflammation. In the case of arthritis, it involves inflammation of the joints. Inflammation also increases when under stress.

 

Pain may be mild, moderate, severe, constant, occasional, sore, dull, throbbing, sharp, aching, pulsing, stabbing, annoying, uncomfortable, debilitating, or even unbearable. When seeing a doctor or a therapist, being able to identify the type and location of pain can help with the diagnosis and sometimes indicate a particular condition. Some people can point directly to the tiny spot where the pain is felt. Yet, for others, it is in the left shoulder, or in the head, or in the right knee. It may even be referred pain felt, for example, in the right hip and originating from the left side of the neck. Pain can impact our daily activities, work, emotional and psychological well-being, and social activities. 

 

For many, it is worse in the morning and is accompanied by stiffness. Lack of movement during the night can increase morning inflammation. A gentle morning exercise routine may help minimize this discomfort. Doctors used to recommend complete bedrest during painful periods, but this is no longer the case. For most types of chronic conditions, movement and increased blood flow has been seen to promote healing and reduce pain.

 

Waking with a sore neck may be due to poor a sleeping position or to the type of pillow being used. Also, sore backs, are often the result of poor posture. Try standing with your feet pointing straight ahead with a slight pelvic tilt, tummy tucked in, head comfortably forward, shoulders back. This is how to align the spinal chain properly with the joints stacked evenly, one above the other. Your weight will be evenly placed and you will no longer be compensating for a weak area by putting extra pressure on the healthy side. Use your muscles rather than your joints wherever possible.

 

Running shoes may be the best type of footwear, offering additional support, and resulting in a reduction in back pain. When bending, hinge at the hips instead of at the waist. Lift with your knees, never your back, and do not twist your body to reach for something that is off to the right or left. If sitting for hours at a desk or computer, ensure that you have a proper chair, that your arms are at a height that doesn’t put strain on your shoulders, and that you get up every half hour to move.

 

To minimize pain, naturally, deep breathing exercises, meditation, or relaxation techniques can be extremely helpful. One breathing exercise that can be done in bed each morning before rising involves lying down, eyes closed, one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Focus on the breath moving slowly, in through the nose and out through the nose. The count of four for each is comfortable for most. Feel the breath move in, through, and out of your body for even 10-15 minutes. This can be followed by gentle exercises, like bending your knees and moving your legs from one side to the other. Gently and comfortably, move and bend your arms and your legs.

 

There are also many safe physical exercises that result in increased blood flow which will help minimize pain. Some of these include Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Feldenkrais. Stress reduction, 7-8 hours of sleep, and therapies such as massage, acupuncture, osteopathy, and myofascial release can also help tremendously in minimizing pain. Exercise programs that strengthen your abs and glutes, in a safe manner, are extremely helpful.

 

Magnesium is an important supplement that will relax the muscles and improve sleep. A daily vitamin D supplement will improve immunity and strengthen bones and muscles. Also, Boswelia, SAMe, MSM, and fish oil may help reduce chronic pain. Both turmeric, added to food or taken as a supplement, and tart cherry juice, combined with water as a drink one hour before bed, have anti-inflammatory properties.There are also homeopathic remedies that may reduce pain and inflammation including Arnica, Belladonna, Bryonia, Rhus tox, and Ruta. For these, the symptoms must match the remedy. Like cures like. So, please read about the remedy first.  And, also, there are essential oils like Lavender, Peppermint, Copaiba, and Pan Away applied to the body and/or diffused through the room which may promote muscle relaxation, restful sleep, and reduce pain. As CBD becomes legal, there will also be many ointments, creams, and oils on the market that can offer relief.

 

It is important to stay well hydrated, and to eliminate, or at least, reduce the consumption of coffee, alcohol, and tobacco. Remember to eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet, low in sugar, processed foods, hydrogenated fats, and carbonated drinks. All food that increase inflammation, like nightshades, will increase pain.

 

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Digestion, Immune System, & The Microbiome

Digestion Immune System and the MicrobiomeIn North America, many of us are obsessed with cleanliness. Actually, we need to be exposed to bacteria, fungi, and viruses in order to have a healthy, strong immune system. By killing off our good bacteria with antibiotics, stress, cortisone, and chlorinated drinking water, we leave the field wide open to pathogenic, dangerous bacteria. Too many hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial soaps can change our PH and, in turn, mess with our immunological balance. Also, chemicals in plastics, cosmetics and clothing may negatively affect our microbiome which in turn affects the integrity of the small and large intestines.

 

The Human Microbiome consists of a collection of trillions of tiny microorganisms that make up who we are. They are part of us, not an addition to us. They help the body digest food and nutrients that the stomach is unable to digest. They also help in the production of some vitamins, like B and K. They program our immune system which needs their bacteria to teach it to function properly – to identify which should be there and which should not and then capture and destroy the bad guys. Even viruses living in our microbiome help to establish immunity against new and more dangerous viruses belonging to the same family. Our immune system takes care of most of our colds and flues in a way that actually causes the symptoms that we experience. The more diverse our immune system is, the smarter will be its reaction. When our microbiome is in balance, all is well. If disrupted, the lining of the gut becomes more porous allowing absorption of poisons, bacteria and viruses.

 

The majority of our microbiome is found in the digestive system; in particular, in the intestines. Our intestines include tight junctions that prevent the harmful bacteria from entering the body’s cells. When these junctions are weakened, as in the case of leaky gut, autoimmune diseases and allergies may arise. Stress, antibiotics, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, processed and fried foods, and hydrogenated and trans fats weaken these barriers. Probiotics, particularly acidophilus, good, clean water, foods high in fibre, and also sauerkraut, pineapple, bone broth, onion, garlic and kimchi strengthens these junctions by restoring the normal flora. New research is telling us that gut microbiome may also affect our central nervous system and brain health. The gut and its organisms have even been referred to as our “second brain” having the same grey matter as found in the brain.

 

The Immune System and the Microbiome go hand in hand. Dysbiosis, ie pathogenic bacteria that are out of control, create a persistent imbalance in this microbial community, and are implicated in IBS, Crohn’s, Colitis, skin issues like rosacea, eczema, and acne, and in most, if not all, autoimmune diseases. Dysbiosis is also involved in gut issues like bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and/or heartburn. Once we clean up the terrain, the bugs will begin to live in harmony.

 

Change the terrain that supports and feeds the bugs. Don’t focus on the bugs! In order to enhance the immune system, change the environment that supports the growth of these pathogenic organisms. Sugar and a diet high in carbohydrates create a welcoming home for them. Sugar also lowers immunity by 80% for 2-5 hours after it is consumed. If the terrain is filled with toxic material and undigested food, that is where you will find the bugs.

 

Begin to make the changes that will bring the body back into balance. Drink abundant quantities of clean water, eat organic fruits and vegetables, fibre, fermented foods, and good quality protein. Eliminate all GMO foods. Stop consuming foods that you are allergic to, lower your stress levels, and get adequate sleep. Take good care of your microbiome and it will take care of you for many years to come.

 
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Sleep Issues

Sleep Issues Blog

The first sign of a problem with the brain is shortened sleep, in particular, napping during the day and not sleeping through the night. With even one hour loss of sleep per night, the brain slows down, we become more emotional and our thinking slows down. What is the major cause of sleeplessness? For most, it is chronic stress and anxiety, resulting in elevated cortisol levels, particularly in the evening, keeping us from enjoying a proper night’s sleep.

 

Sleep affects every organ system. The body does not do well without an optimal 7 to 8 hours per night. The more sleep deprived we are, the less effective our immune function, the more prone we become to injury and accidents and, even, to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

 

27% of sleep deprived people are more likely to become overweight. Sleep is vital for learning and memory so is necessary for education and maximum productivity in the workplace. Sleep allows for the body to balance itself.

 

There are four major sleep cycles. In general, we go from falling asleep, to light sleep, to deep sleep, to REM sleep. These cycles are repeated many times throughout the night. Earlier cycles have longer periods of deep sleep and later cycles, more REM sleep. Deep sleep makes us feel refreshed and keeps us healthy. During REM sleep, the brain becomes more active, the body more relaxed, and most of our dreams occur. “REM sleep is important to your sleep cycle because it stimulates the areas of your brain that are essential in learning and making or retaining memories.” Longer periods of REM sleep occur in the morning hours.

 

Suggestions for improved sleep include going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, even on the weekends; sleeping in a totally dark, quiet, and comfortable space; removing all electronic devices, particularly computers, tablets, and cell phones from the room where you sleep; avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco for at least 3 to 4 hours before bedtime; keeping all daytime napping short and before 4 or 5 pm. Try not to go to sleep hungry or stuffed. If you do wake up during the night, avoid checking the clock or looking to see if you have any new texts or emails. In a study of 20 volunteers, after 8 weeks of meditation and yoga, novices in meditation expressed 2209 new genes, most improving health and the body’s response to psychological stress.

 

Magnesium before bed is a great, safe source of calming and relaxation. Bananas are loaded with magnesium. You can enjoy a banana tea by washing a banana, removing the tips, cut it in half and boil it, with the peel on, in 3-5 cups of water for 4-5 minutes. Pour the liquid into a tea cup, add cinnamon and a little honey and enjoy! You may find that you sleep like a newborn baby.

 

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Magnesium

Magnesium blog

 

 

BENEFITS:

Relaxes every muscle in your body – including the heart

Relief from Insomnia

Reduces anxiety, depression, stress, sadness

Necessary to get calcium into the bones

Regulates blood pressure

Supports Insulin metabolism

Blood vessel constriction – may prevent migraine headaches

Improves PMS symptoms

 

 

Magnesium, as a macromineral, is essential for the bones, muscles, heart, brain, the immune system and the nervous system.

 

Foods rich in magnesium include dark chocolate (64 mg/oz), avocado (58 mg), nuts (82 mg/oz), legumes, tofu, whole grains, fatty fish, leafy greens, bananas, and seeds. 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds offer 307 mg and sunflower seeds, 129 mg.

 

As a supplement, in a capsule, Magnesium is taken to bowel tolerance. If you experience diarrhea, nausea, or cramping, back off by one. With calcium, the recommended dose is a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium but for women, a 1:1 ratio or even a 1:2 ratio is often more beneficial, particularly for those experiencing PMS.

 

Magnesium can also be taken as a Tissue Cell Salt, small tablets that are dissolved in the mouth. Mag Phos 6X is excellent for muscle pain, restless leg, and, for some, as a sleep aid. The body uses what it needs and expels the rest without causing bowel disturbances.

 

Women have often been referred to as “mag wasters” meaning that they lose an unusual amount of magnesium throughout the day.  Magnesium loss is also experienced by Massage Therapists, both men and women, who often experience muscle cramps in their hands and fingers.

 

In our “Heart & Stroke – Women vs Men” webinar, we focus on how a woman’s heart differs in size, heart rate, and also the contrast in structure of the arteries and valves resulting in a substantial difference between the two sexes in terms of risks, symptoms, care, diagnosis, and treatment. We discuss how Magnesium helps to keep calcium in solution preventing it from precipitating out into artery walls which would result in the building of plaque. Also, how magnesium prevents Aluminum buildup in the body. Magnesium is essential for a healthy heart, maintaining a steady heartbeat and a normal blood pressure.

 

In our “Adrenal Fatigue” webinar, we discuss Adrenal burnout and exhaustion due primarily to stress, emotional, physical, and environmental. We discuss the importance of Magnesium, the inhibitory mineral for the Sympathetic Nervous System. Magnesium activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is instrumental in keeping you calm and relaxed.

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