Friday, December 4, 2015

The Process

Grieving is a process that is ever evolving and never truly finished.  Ten years ago I lost my mother to cancer after a pretty horrible six month battle with the usual treatments of chemo and radiation therapy.  I think of her more often on her birthday than the day of her passing because by the time she left us it was a relief to be done with her suffering.  

My father was killed in a motorcycle accident two years later.  The shock of the situation combined with the fact that I hadn't seen him much in the years prior made it extremely difficult to process in a healthy way.  I think by that time I felt like I was an expert on grief and so it would be easier or faster to process the loss.  I moved on quickly at the time, mostly out of necessity as I was already a busy single mom by then, but now these many years later I am finding that there is so much more grieving to do for both of my parents in order to find the peace and well being that I need and deserve in this life.  

Cherish your loved ones every moment.  And when you lose them, cherish the moments you had.  Take the time you need to experience your emotions in whatever way you feel is most healing.  And never forget that love is forever and so there is no limit on the amount of time needed to grieve. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

New Moon, New Intention

Today the new moon rose in Libra as my mind wandered through the cosmos in my dreams.  Upon waking I sat for meditation, a few minutes of quiet breathing and mantra, as I usually do first thing in the morning.  I visualized every inhaled breath coming through my crown chakra, the most perfect white light flowing into me from that point, as though I was breathing in the beauty of the universe and filling my entire body with blissful energy.  With each exhalation I projected that light out through my heart center, feeling it burst forth like a beacon of light from my chest and expanding to fill all the space around me as though I was lighting the room with my own radiance, and beyond that, the rest of the earth was bathed in this light, and beyond that - the whole universe.  I noticed the light projected from my heart was not the same light I was breathing in through my crown.  Rather than the perfect white light I was breathing in from the cosmos, my heart center gave off a golden light, somehow thicker, more tangible and warm.  The golden light was somehow changed within my body, as though the best parts of me were infused with the cosmic grace and when I sent this light out into the world I was sharing not just the beauty of the universe but also the beauty of my own soul, the infinite love in my heart and the grace and wisdom that I am slowly learning in my years of life on Earth.  My beacon of golden light energy seemed to warm the room and although the sun was not yet risen, I felt more than saw the light create a golden glow in the room, perhaps the whole house, or maybe I was lighting up the whole world with this golden grace.

I practiced Sun Salutations while the sun gently rose and I felt my body renewed by the experience of filtering the light and projecting it outward.  I wasn't depleted, but rather I had more energy, more peace, despite all I had given away.  As I lay in Shavasana, I again visualized the light entering my crown in its blazing white glory and propelled it upward and outward with my exhaled breath, sending a ray of golden light up and out into the heavens.  Perhaps you felt it, as the sun was rising, a sense of peace, a golden grace, a renewal of consciousness and beauty in being alive. 

I sure hope you did.  And I hope that you feel my love now, for all life and consciousness, for all beauty and grace, flowing out from my heart and surrounding you in the golden glow of life and love.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer!

Many people carry hand sanitizer around with them, but the widely used varieties have some startlingly harmful ingredients.  If you want to use something that kills microbes without the nasty chemicals, give my recipe a try!

Tea Tree (Melaleuca) Oil is one of the most widely used and proven effective essential oils.  It is highly antimicrobial, killing bacteria (including anti-biotic resistant strains like MRSA,) yeast, fungus and even viruses!  Can your hand sanitizer do that??!

Here's what you need:

a 10-15mL amber glass bottle with inset dropper top (I reuse an empty essential oil bottle)
Clear Vodka 80 proof
40-50 drops of Tea Tree Oil

That's it!  And you guessed it, making this sanitizer is as simple as pouring the vodka in the bottle (be sure to leave room for the oil, you can always top it off with more vodka if necessary) and then dropping in the tea tree oil one drop at a time.  Put the dropper top and cap back on, then shake gently to mix.  Done.

To use the sanitizer, shake before each use, then simply allow about 5 drops to fall into your palm and rub it all over your hands.  This sanitizer is very safe and effective for adults and adolescents, but I would take care using it around small children.  Tea Tree Oil is not safe to ingest, so young children who put their hands in their mouths a lot probably shouldn't use it. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Yoga saved my life

Those of you who know me well, know that nutrition and holistic living are what I am most passionate about.  You also know that going to the gym is not my cup of tea and that I prefer a quiet conversation over a cardio butt kicking.  Keeping up with my 7 year old son keeps me moving, but it is just not enough to maintain health with the level of stress that I encounter as a single mother with a professional career. 

I'd always enjoyed doing a yoga class here and there, and loved the times that I was able to make time and money available to learn more Tai Chi, but it wasn't until I found myself suffering daily with pain and overwhelmed with my life that I turned to a daily yoga practice.  You can read more about the struggle I went through over the last few years here, if you are interested. 

I began hesitantly, not sure that I was going to be doing the postures correctly (a common concern among people interested in Yoga) and used a beginners guide with lots of pictures to get me started.  I work with Solar Salutations mostly, but also learned the Warrior pose, Tall Warrior, Tree, Crocodile and Boat poses. 

You can watch a brief video on how to do a Solar Salutation here.

Doing the postures themselves turned out to be less of a challenge than working time into my routine for doing yoga.  I decided to wake up 20-30 minutes earlier than usual, and was surprised to find that most days this wasn't a burden and I actually felt better upon rising earlier than I had when I would sleep until the last possible second. 

My routine goes something like this most days:
I take 5 minutes as soon as I rise to sit for a brief mediation.  I find that the first moments of waking offer a unique opportunity to have a quiet mind without struggling to manage the thoughts of the day.  It is naturally a time of reflection and inward focus, so I take advantage of that time by breathing deeply and allowing myself to feel quiet and serene.  Once I get out of bed, I do 2-4 Solar Salutations (which in reality is doing the series of postures 4-8 times, as a traditional Solar Salutation is moving through the postures twice) during which I breathe in each pose for 4 breaths the first round, and then reduce the number of breaths in half to 2 breaths per pose in the second round, and if I have time to do more I move to one breath for each pose, offering an invigorating way to get started in the morning.  After my Solar Salutations, I take between 5-10 minutes to do the "corpse pose" otherwise known as Savasana.  This is the pose I consider the most important, so I always make sure to make time for this even if it means only doing one Solar Salutation, or sometimes none at all if I sleep late or have an unexpectedly rushed morning.  Traditional yoga practice recommends 20-30 minutes in Savasana, but I've honestly never had the time to do that intense of a practice and do find relief from my pain and tension in less time.  Ideally, when I feel inclined and have a couple of extra minutes, I will sit for another brief meditation and breath awareness practice, sometimes as little as 2 minutes, just to really set my mind in focus for the day ahead. 

I've found that by adding these practices to my daily routine I have improved so many things about my life and health, in just 20-30 extra minutes.  I no longer suffer from daily pain, I feel more grounded and balanced, and my body has maintained its feminine shape and strong muscles, despite not ever doing a rigorous "workout" program.  I seriously can't say enough about how much Yoga has improved my life.  The pain and stress I felt daily before I added this practice were debilitating and made me depressed and overwhelmed, which affected my performance at work, at home and as a mother.  Now that I am free from pain, my mind is more clear and I feel like I am back on top of my game.  I've begun to pursue my interests and passions again, which is something that I haven't done in years and thought at one point I may never have time or energy for again.  Even my parenting has improved since I began doing Yoga daily, as I am now spending more quality time with my son and have been able to teach him some basic principles of breath awareness and yoga that he can use if he feels overexcited or upset. 

It may sound a bit over the top, but I truly feel that yoga has saved my life.  It has brought me closer to myself and my path than any other single change that I have made in my life.  I highly recommend that anyone who feels they could use more balance, peace and vitality in their life to explore yoga and meditation, whether it is in the home or under the supervision of a knowledgeable teacher. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Spring Cleaning! Lift your Spirit Edition

I imagine everyone feels uplifted on the first warm and sunny day of spring.  If you want to keep the feeling going though, try some of these simply ways to rejuvenate and lift your spirit everyday.


Walking is one of the most beneficial exercises that can maintain and improve health.  Try walking mindfully, taking care to focus on your breath and let go of thoughts and chatter in your mind. Observe your environment and perhaps more importantly, observe your own body and breath.  Notice how the sidewalk feels under your feet or the temperature of the air as it enters and leaves your nostrils.  Taking a reflective walk each day is one of the best things you could do for your overall wellbeing, as it tones and strengthens your mind, body and spirit!

Find Joy in Essential Oils

Aromatherapy is used extensively to improve mood, reduce anxiety and enhance spiritual awareness.  Diffusing an essential oil into the air or applying a blend of carrier and essential oils to your skin are both great ways to enjoy the uplifting effects of aromatherapy. 

My first essential oil blend is still my go to for feeling good every day.  Try Joy! Essential Oil Roll On from Dantian Products by clicking here. 

Essential oils that can help you beat depression include lemongrass, bergamot, ylang ylang and lemon.

Essential oils that diminish anxiety are lavender, rosemary, basil and vetiver.


Want to know one of my favorite things about Yoga?  The most beneficial and healing pose is also the most simple and relaxing!  Doesn't matter if you are a Yoga guru or you have never set foot on a mat, doing Savasana (Corpse Pose) everyday is going to enhance your awareness, detoxify your body and lift your spirit in noticeable ways. 

Take 10 minutes to lie on your back, breathing deeply with your legs relaxed apart and your arms at your sides about 45 degrees from your body.  Starting with your forehead, slowly relax all the muscles in your body all the way down to your toes.  If you have trouble letting go of tension in an area, pulse (or tense) the muscles until you are able to completely relax.  Try to keep your mind clear and simply observe any thoughts that do come up but don't focus on them.  Allow yourself to completely relax your mind and body, and feel the release of simply being.

Find out how to do the pose here:

A daily practice of Yoga, Tai Chi, martial arts or even a long mindful walk each day will bring you more peace of mind and strength of spirit than you have ever known. 

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Check out my other Spring Cleaning posts here:
Spring Cleaning! Clear Your Mind
Spring Cleaning! Home Edition

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring Cleaning! Clear your Mind Edition

Just about everyone feels really stressed out from time to time, and for many people stress, anxiety and tension are a constant burden to overcome.  Wouldn't it be nice to release some of that tension and do more than just reduce stress, but actually help make your mind and body stress-proof?  Here are some simple ways that you can help clear your mind and find more balance in your daily life.

Cleansing Breathing

Breath is life.  The way that you breathe holds more impact on your health than you might think.  Take a moment to notice how you are breathing right now.  Are you hunched over your desk or device, taking shallow and short breaths?  Or are you relaxed, drawing each breath in and allowing it to flow out naturally and evenly?  Breathing into your diaphragm slowly and deeply brings the most vital nutrient that your body needs into all your systems and organs.  Oxygen is one of only 6 elements that comprise about 99% of your body, and breathing could be considered the most important function your body can perform to sustain life.  Why then, is so little ever mentioned about the correlation between our breathing and our health? 

Focusing more on our breath, what some might call breath awareness, is one great way to release stress and clear the mind. 

This practice is so simple, there is only 1 step: Breathe. 

If you wanted to take it a step further, you could focus on keeping your breath deep and even, feeling the inhalation fill your diaphragm and then feeling the cool breeze of the exhalation as it leaves your nostrils.  By being more present with your breath, your body is revitalizing itself and actually counteracting the effects of stress on your body.  If you take 5 minutes to simply breath every evening before you go to bed and/or first thing when you wake up, you create a new pattern of awareness and balance in your life and can see results almost instantly when you are able to truly relax. 

Crocodile Pose

What if you are having trouble relaxing, or worse yet, are in the midst of a full on panic attack or emotional overflow?  You can induce diaphragmatic breathing simply by lying on your stomach in this soothing hatha yoga pose that is often referred to as the crocodile pose.

This link will show you how to do the pose:

Crocodile Pose is one of the simplest poses, and for me it is one that has the most potent impact on the way I am feeling.  No matter which direction my emotions and moods are swinging, this pose will chill me out within minutes. 

Simply lie on your stomach and put your arms out in front of you with your fingers gently resting along the other elbow so that your arms are forming a triangle shape.  Rest your forehead on top of your arms comfortably so that you are able to relax and breath deeply in the pose.  Focus on your breathing for at least 5 minutes in this pose, and you will feel deeply calm and more balanced.

Essential Oils for Clearing the Mind

Vetiver - Vetiver essential oil is known as the Oil of Tranquility in India and has been used all over the world for healing since the 12th century.  It is particularly soothing in the bath, and is used in Ayurveda to heal and balance the body and mind.

Frankincense and Myrrh - These oils are among the most commonly referred to as "meditative" but in addition to quieting your mind and relieving your stress, these oils also kill germs and other microbes and are excellent for your skin. 
To experience the amazing relaxation power of this superhero duo, check out the newest product from Dantian Essential Oils - Chocolate Bath Salts!

Rosemary and Basil - These herbs aren't just for making your food taste delicious!  Rosemary essential oil is known to release stress symptoms in the mind and body.  It is cooling and refreshing and can help make your skin look and feel amazing as well.  Basil Linalool essential oil has been used extensively for it's pain relieving and calming properties. 
Check out our Tension Release Roll On to reduce muscular tension and relieve tension headaches and migraines.

Lemon - Lemon essential oil is one of the most versatile oils in my collection.  Amazing for cleaning your home and body, lemon oil has also been shown to clear the mind, uplift mood and increase concentration.  And who doesn't love the smell of lemon?!

Hope you've enjoyed this week's Spring Cleaning series post!  If you missed last week, check it out by clicking HERE and stay tuned for more great tips from our Spring Cleaning series throughout the month of April! 

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