Gut Reactions: How to Heal the Self

The gut plays a major role in our health and happiness, however, due to the cultural habits of today’s world, many people experience imbalances in the gut that show up as allergies or disease. In this talk we will learn what the gut microbiome is, what it used to look like in the recent past versus today, and how we can move forward in order to heal ourselves by using food as medicine.

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A Raw Account of Starting Over and Beginning to Trust

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth” ~Pema Chödrön

What does it take to rebuild trust?

Ideally one does not break it in the first place. But what if it is inevitable? What if in one way or another you let someone down? Then what? Is your foundation ruined? Your sheets soiled? Your garden dismantled?

No.

Do you know what really happens when trust is broken? It provides a creative opportunity for new life, for new growth, and new beginnings. It is a strange concept, but true none the less, that only when trust has been broken can authentic trust begin. Authentic trust is dynamic, deep, and pliable. It creates a foundation made not of rock, stone, concrete, or shoddy plumbing, but that of which holds the ocean, the mountains, volcanoes, and the sky; something that shifts, adapts, and changes. Something designed to meet the other exactly where they are, exactly as they are.

What does it take to rebuild trust once it has been broken?

My honest opinion:

Sweet relentlessness and devotion.
What does it take to trust someone who has betrayed you?

Forgiveness and the willingness to let go of all that you have known for the possibility that something could be new.

Moving forward into authentic trust does not mean that the other person is not responsible for their actions, but that there is a willingness from both parties to relay the foundation and take the time necessary to mend together with honesty and vulnerability. When we shed our labels, identities, and ideologies of who or what the other should be, we see there are no others, for the other is ourself. The people who have wounded us, betrayed us, and abandoned us are merely an aspect of our own shadow self. We spend our time delineating, dwelling, repeating, and fantasizing about the future or reminiscing about the past. Real love however, and real forgiveness, is here and now. All that we can remember or anticipate is merely a shadow of love. When we give into our true nature, we relinquish our need to be separate, to isolate, to judge, to be right or wrong. Let go today. Judge not today. For when we judge, we make another person wrong for thinking a certain way or acting a certain way.

The interesting part of this journey is that we are all God playing hide and seek with ourself, and when we find ourself, we realize there is no amount of abandonment or betrayal that could harm us.

So how do we begin again?

Trust, the absence of fear, and the willingness to let reality be new. 

“People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished. That’s not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.” ~ Pema Chödrön

3 Tips to have Healthy, Glowing Skin from Within

We all want beautiful, glowing skin. It carries a lot of weight in a first impression and it also seems to be one of the first things we criticize about ourselves if it isn’t flawless. If you are one of those people who seem to have tried everything on the market to get rid of acne, age-spots, dark circles, and redness, but nothing seems to work, try some of these methods bellow. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and many of the external impurities or “imperfections” are related to internal imbalances.

TIP #1 Hydrate

IMG_4483.JPG  Hydration may seem like one of the most obvious things we can do for our skin and our entire body, but it is one of the most commonly over-looked steps when it comes to healthy, glowing skin. The key here is that when you keep your body well hydrated through out the day, your body can more efficiently flush out toxins through your kidney’s and liver. The best way to do this is to start your morning off with one of the following:

Can of Coconut Water

Fruit-Infused Water (Strawberries, lemon, and mint in the picture)

Warm water with lemon and/or ginger

Be sure to drink one of these thirst quenching options at least 15 minutes before you eat anything. Then, be sure to drink water through out the day. There is no real recommended amount of water, despite false-scientific studies; just drink when you feel thirsty and remember to hydrate often.

TIP #2 Superfood Vitamin C Smoothie Bowl

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Seriously, this is one of the most delicious ways to support your body. Vitamin C increases your body’s collagen production which will reduce darkness, age spots, increase elasticity, and heal your skin from within! Not to mention the long list of benefits of the superfoods, which load up the body with much-needed nutrients.

Here is the ingredient list:  Blend 1 mango, 1 orange, almond milk, 1 banana. Top with: goji berries, hemp hearts, strawberries, flax seeds, and chia seeds.

TIP #3 Eat Your Greens!

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The best thing you can do for your entire body, not just your skin, is to eat your greens. Eating 3-4 servings of greens daily is known to improve your immune system, increase your life span, reduce disease and inflammation, and make your body feel good! It’s best to eat your greens raw as much as possible, so that the heat sensitive nutrients stay in-tact. My personal favorite way to do this is to add greens to my smoothies, add a salad to my dinner, or add greens to my carrot juice (side note: carrot juice is packed with carotenoids which have anti-inflammatory properties that tighten skin, even skin tones, reduce scarring, prevent wrinkles, naturally moisturize, and improves digestion). Keeping a regular routine of eating your greens will serve you and your body for the rest of your life!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post! If you are curious about what your body might be telling you based on where your impurities is on your face, click here to learn more about what you can do to support your body.

As always, feel free to leave questions and comments bellow!

 

3 Ways to Improve Mental Hygiene

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It feels like the thoughts in my brain become extraordinarily more vicious as soon as I become conscious of them.

Several days ago, someone told me how in Toltec philosophy, they believe that there are etherial beings that act as parasites to our beings. Similar to the story of the two wolves, the parasite feeds on certain negative emotions that are particular to each individual, and thus puts us in situations that will create more of this emotion on which it can feed.

Truthfully, if I had to guess what mine was feeding off of? It would be sadness. Now, regardless of whether or not the Toltec philosophy plays to your world views on this point doesn’t matter. This conversation of habitual patterns and self-talk comes up time and time again in pop psychology.

We, as humans, have a tendency to have extremely negative self-talk. Things we would never say to any one else, especially someone we care about. What causes this type of behavior? Perhaps it is the “parasite” or the ego or our culture or perhaps that is just how the mind works.

Interestingly enough, I have been playing with the idea that my negative emotions are parasitic. That they do, in fact, harm and degrade my mental hygiene and feelings of self worth. By choosing to actively listen to my thoughts, I have seen that it is practically second nature for my mind to start thinking about negative things. Or, in other words, my mind continuously vacillates between the judge and the victim. So I have begun an experiment: Every time I start to think negatively, I actively replace those thoughts with something positive, with something that I am truly in love with, happy with, or excited for.

The effects have been extraordinary. I feel as though I am witnessing myself choosing to place the bowl of food in front of the good and kind wolf, watching the negative and sad wolf angrily fight me for its regain of strength. Another way to look at it, is that I have changed brands: At first, I was feeding myself with thoughts that engendered more negativity and now I have replaced those thoughts (or, at least, I am trying to) with thoughts that engender positivity. ❤

So what are ways that we can all do this? To keep our mental hygiene in check so that our thoughts don’t go running with the wolves, so to speak.

3 Ways to Improve Hygiene:

Floss Your Thoughts:

Become aware of what you are saying to yourself, especially when you are experiencing a trying situation and especially when you are not “listeninyou are enoughg”. What I mean by this is that our minds seem to be chatting to us constantly. Try to observe what you are thinking when you are not thinking of anything in particular. Soon you may see that there are lies you have taken for granted as truth, simply because there wasn’t active focus on your thoughts.

Brush Up On Your Positive Affirmation:

Run of the mill hippy-chick tip? Yes. Very powerful? Yes. I have watched my life turn around, just by having nice things I routinely said to myself. I like to pick one or two phrases that are my go-to positive thoughts. Keep them in your back pocket to say to yourself whenever you need. This will take your mind away from the negative thinking and give you the keys to positivity. Similarly to when people say “fake it till you make it”, telling your mind positive thoughts, sends chemical signals and responses that can actually make you a happier person over time.

Wash your Thoughts of Negativity:

One step beyond the affirmations is actually getting into your brain and consciously replacing a negative thoughts with positive ones. An example of this would be: “Wow, I didn’t do as well as I wanted to on that report, even though I prepared for it. I’m an idiot. I hate myself.” Catch yourself. Take a breath, rewind, cut, replace, repeat: “Wow, I didn’t do as well as I wanted to on that report, even though I prepared for it. I bet there are ways I could improve next time. I know that I did my very best.”

 

So there you have it folks. Please feel free to comment or share bellow ❤ I would love to hear your thoughts, insights, and opinions on the matter.

Banana Bread: Sweetened by Nature

Here is a Banana bread we can get really excited about, it’s moist, delicious and sweetened with honey! ❤ Check it out!

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Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Vegan Butter

1/2 Cup Honey

3 Eggs

4 ripened banana’s

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Cups gluten free flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/4 Cup Coconut or Flax milk

1/4-1/2 Cup Lily’s Chocolate chips sweetened with stevia

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Begin by taking out a large bowl, mixing butter, honey, eggs, bananas, and vanilla. Mix till smooth. Then add flour, baking soda, salt, milk, and the chocolate chips. Stir until dough is slightly soupy. Add more milk if needed.

Vegan butter an 8×9 pan. Pour in batter and place it in the oven. Allow the bread to cook for 40-45 minutes or until golden. To check and see if it is done, stick a toothpick or a fork in the center of the bread, if it’s doughy, let it cook longer.

Once finished, take out of the oven and let it cool. Serve with butter and honey, or eat as is!

❤ Enjoy

Meditation for Changing Your Thought Patterns

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Our minds are constantly going — the chatting never seems to take a breath. Often, this continuous garble will say things to ourselves that we aren’t even consciously recognizing. A thought comes in, it gets stored, and we never have time to consider if that was something we truly meant or wanted to be thinking. This pattern of the subconscious mind leaves us high and dry in a moment of crisis because now our unwarranted thoughts have free range to say things like: “You’re not good enough.”, “You are not worthy.”, “You deserve what is happening to you.”, and so on. We all have this pattern due to a lack of mental hygiene. So for today, I offer you a way to sift through your mind and give it a little pre-spring cleaning.

If you’re anything like me, you may find when you come to sit in meditation, your mind immediately wants to speak louder. This is why many yogis practice asana first — to tire out the mind. So this meditation can be approach in a variety of ways: 1) perform an asana practice, the physical meditation I am about to describe, and then sit quietly for silent meditation, 2) skip the asana, dive straight into the physical meditation, and then go into quiet mediation, 3) dive right into quiet mediation, mentally going through the physical mediation.

PHYSICAL MEDITATION 

What you need:

  • A piece of paper
  • Colored pens or pencils (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Lighter

Begin by taking your piece of paper and writing down the negative thoughts you find yourself thinking when you come to sit an meditate or feel in your day to day life. Begin to cut them into long strips. Take a moment to sit with what you have written. Perhaps examine how truly and deeply you feel that way about yourself and a moment that made you feel that way.

Now, take those same strips and on the other end of the paper, write the inverse of your statement. An example would be that if you wrote, I am not good enough, change it to I am good enough. Beautiful. Take a moment for that to sink in. Ponder the possibly that this is very true and what is on the other side of the paper is false. Take a moment to think of times where you felt this way. Notice the shift in your brain and body. How do you feel?

The purpose of this meditation is to consciously sift through your thoughts. Now, look at these pieces of paper and actively choose which ones you want to be thinking, what you want to take as true. Cut the paper in half, dividing the two thoughts. Take the thoughts you choose to discard and place them in a container or outside where it is safe to burn. Symbolically, you are consciously making a choice of what you wish to think and what you choose to let go. LET GO. Take those negative thoughts and release them, with love and kindness, for they are teachers, too.

With the remaining strips, the ones you are CHOOSING to think, sit with them in a comfortable, cross-legged position. Close your eyes and hold these affirmations as truth. Begin to place these truths in your heart. Sit here for at least 5-10 minutes. And just feel what it is like to know you are these things, you are worth these things, and the only one who can choose to make you feel this way is you.

❤ Namaste

Please feel free to leave a comment bellow, leave feedback, and tell me what you think!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Awareness & Labeling Emotions

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It is hot topic in biology that the bacteria in our gut has a huge impact on our mood, personality, emotions, and even thoughts. The bacteria living there, however, are not permanent. They change in quantity and type depending on our environment, what we ingest via breathe, food, and beverage.

Over the past few years I have begun to place a large amount of awareness towards how certain foods affect me. I know that if I eat certain things my gut flora will get out of balance and change my mood and therefore how I interact with those around me. All too often I have said something that I regret and realize that I ate something recently that probably made me that way.

I know it sounds like a bunch of science fiction, but it is the truth. The bacteria in our gut neurons-582054_640has a direct link to our brain and thus to our actions and reactions. This is why eating well is of the utmost importance.

So how do I deal with it? Personally, when I realize I have an intense emotion towards someone that may not be exactly justified I think, What did I eat in the last 24-48 hours? More often than not, I can identify the exact meal or food item that upset me. In efforts to bring humor to the irritation, sadness, or anger, I have started labeling my emotion as the food I ate that made me upset.

When I check in with myself and ask, How are you feeling? The answer becomes something like carrot cake, ice cream, pizza, or corn.

Saying I feel like carrot cake, for me, is a much more accurate description of how I am really feeling because I am really feeling the chemistry of that particular food interacting with my biology. What I have noticed from my personal experience is that when the food passes through me so does that emotion. The same is true on the other end. When I eat right for my body, I am balanced, clear, happy, and light. The emotion then changes to feeling like carrots, quinoa, smoothie, or kale.

So today’s post offers a suggestion in how we approach our meals and how we approach our emotions. When eating a meal, notice how you feel before eating it and how you feel after. Generally, you will feel better, worse or the same. Ideally, you want to feel better, so if you noticed that what you ate made you feel worse, shift your next meal choice and ask yourself what are you feeling and why. Often, I find, I can identify the feeling but not why. If that’s the case, observe the emotional for it will pass once the food has been digested. In this case you will know how you’re feeling because if very well may be that you just feel like carrot cake.

The Potential “Cure-All” Diet

rose-1082542_640I would like to introduce a diet that has changed my life and is beginning to change the lives of many others.

MY STORY

In October of 2015 I entered the hardest month of my life….I was experiencing gut/intestinal pain, severe acne, adrenal depletion, an overloaded liver, depression, warts, fatigue and an inability to sleep.

To sum it all up, everything hurt physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was distraught that my body was preventing me from showing up in the world the way that I truly wanted to. I didn’t want to eat, cook, be productive, blog, go out, go to school, any of it!

Two months went by like this until I went to see a local naturopathic doctor. It was suggested that I go on what is called an elimination diet for 3 weeks.

This diet was probably the most amazing thing I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. For three weeks I challenged myself to get completely off of:

Dairy   Gluten   Sugar  Soy   Nuts   Caffeine  Alcohol  Corn   Legumes     Nightshades   White Potatoes

So what does that leave me with? Basically milk substitutes like coconut or rice milk, fruits, gluten free grains, meat and vegetables. I’ll admit that it was tricky. I began by taking out the things that I was already impartial to and didn’t mind taking out such as caffeine, alcohol, white potatoes, nuts, corn, legumes, and gluten. For me, all of those things were easily substituted. A couple of days went by like this and then I began to take out nightshades. Then the hardest part came: Dairy and sugar. I am completed addicted to both of theses things so it was incredibly tricky to get off of them. I gave myself the space to have my cravings and just started by decreasing my intake. Another week or two went by like this until I was able to finally get off of both of them.

Five days went by with out eating any dairy for the first time in 4 years and  I could hardly believe what I saw:

  • my acne was gone (for the first time in 4 years)
  • my energy was back
  • my gut didn’t hurt
  • nausea, diarrhea, gas — gone!
  • depression subsided
  • warts disappeared

I had my life back and it felt so good to know that the power was in my hands and it was something as simple as a shift in diet. So here I am at the end of my 3 weeks and I have amazing skin, energy, and vitality to show for it.

UNDERSTANDING THE DIET

The Elimination Diet is great for anyone with any kind of food sensitivity or GI disturbances as well as arthritis, ADD/ADHD, narcolepsy, migraines, issues with the kidneys, cardiovascular disease, allergies, asthma, and others. It’s best if the diet is adhered to for a minimum of 2 weeks. Big dogs like gluten and dairy should be eliminated for 28 days.

It should also be understood that these dietary changes are not permanent and that these foods can be reintroduced. It is recommended that you begin to introduce one of the eliminated food groups for one day and then notice your symptoms for the two following days. If you show no symptoms or reactions you can introduce another food group. This process can take up to 5-6 weeks.  At the end of the process you will know a great deal about your body and your allergies. I learned that I was allergic to dairy and nuts, I could tolerate gluten and sugar, and appear to have no symptoms concerning soy, beans, nightshades or caffeine.

Consult your physician or registered dietitian if you find that there is a certain food group you’d like to introduce, but have an allergic reaction to.

 

Here’s my advice for trying it yourself:

  • Give yourself space to do it at your own pace and don’t beat yourself up when you “relapse”
  • Understand that you WILL go through withdrawals and that they WILL pass and you WILL make it
  • Consult your doctor or physician if you have any questions or concerns
  • Find a community or a friend to support you in your process
  • Switch to organic foods
  • Get on a Probiotic, Multivitamin and/or a B Vitamin complex
  • Supplement with essential fatty acids (i.e. EPA or Fish) and CoQ10
  • Remove other toxins that your not digesting such as perfumes, chemical fragrances, artificially scented lotions, cremes, shampoos and conditioners.

Tips and Tricks for getting through the withdrawal symptoms:

  • Epsom salt and lavender essential oil bath
  • Charcoal (to bind toxins being produced in the body during detox)
  • Broccoli Sprouts
  • Getting body work at least once a week (ex: yoga, massage, chiropractor, acupuncture, etc.).
  • Don’t keep what you crave in the house and resist the urge to buy them when you shop.
  • When a craving appears, drink a large glass of water and wait 30 minutes. Often, the craving will go away.
  • Don’t let yourself get too hungry. When you get hungry you’ll want to eat what you crave, so try to keep an emergency snack or meal prepared.

Check out this link for more information about the Elimination Diet, what to eat, how to reintroduce, recipes, and for more general information:

https://wholelifenutrition.net/articles

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/elimination-diet

For literature on the Diet I suggest exploring:

https://wholelifenutrition.net/books

 

 

 

The Silver Lining in Darkness

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I have to apologize for being absent the past few weeks. It seems that life has taken a turn into a mode of crisis. Many people take winter in as a time reserved for deep reflection and introspection; a time of hibernation; to rejuvenate so we may plant new seeds in the spring. The parts of us that no longer serve us have reached into the earth causing us to draw inward.

As I have begun to dig deep into my roots during this winter season, I see that I have delved deep into the shadow self. The solstice seems to mark a time of completion. I look upon my year knowing I have spent many of my days wrestling with the shattered parts of me I would rather not address. Like a steady stream under the darkened sky, I reflect a water that is blackened, but I am not black. The sutras ask us to be like a diamond: reflecting the colors of that which is around us, without attaching or defining ourselves as that color because as soon as the color is taken away, we will find we remain a diamond; pure, clear, and brightly shining.

As the days get shorter, colder, and the sky begins to fill with snow, I find myself in a place of reflection for this past year. In honor of the solstice, I took the opportunity to set my intentions for what I would like to cultivate in the coming year, 2016. After writing all of my thoughts down on paper, I found what I need the most is forgiveness.

As we all delve into our shadow self, the need to judge, the deflect, and project our problems elsewhere arises. I encourage you to find what needs healing in your life during this time and take an action step to heal it. If you need to forgive someone, do it. If you need to let go of something/someone, do it. If you need to stand up for yourself, to hold your ground, do it. Whatever medicine of the spirit you find yourself looking for, don’t withhold it from yourself any longer.

Know that there is a silver lining in the darkness. What you are searching for in the new year can be created.

Thoughts on Meditation For Beginners

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Meditation can be incredibly intimidating for the ruminating or monkey-mind, as I call it. For me, I often find a lot of self-judgement around meditation: “Am I doing it right? When was the last time I had a thought? Am I still thinking? Om Namah Shivaya… why can’t I stop thinking?”

And that, right there, is the ultimate fallacy. The goal of meditation is not to “stop thinking”. It is about awareness. Taking time to truly notice the breath, to feel the weight of your clothes, and the sensation of them touching your skin. To become aware, but not attached, to the mind as it wanders through the vast hallways of your life.

This is easier said than done, but that is why we call it a practice. I can guarantee that every great yogi has had to work towards gaining peace in their mind, that the constant chattering did not merely stop because they decided to sit crosslegged, in silence, for an extended period of time. It stopped because they chose to make a habit of meditation.

What is truly phenomenal is that just the action of becoming still, of listening to the mind chatter, of noticing the emotions, as well as physical distresses of the body, actually has striking effects on your overall health and wellbeing.

In fact, the University of Wisconsin, among many others have proven that meditation alters gene expression. Changing the bodies response to fight or flight by giving an additional reaction: action. The Yoga Sutras discuss this. They say that eventually the dedicated yogi will reach a point where they no longer react to situations, but rather respond situations with clarity and diligence. With consistent practice, it also begins to turn off genes related to cancer, alzheimer, and obesity as it begins to turn on genes that promote mental clarity, longevity, and overall wellbeing.

So here are some tricks you can bring into your meditation practice to get the ball rolling. Remember, you are just noticing what is happening around you. Resist the need to judge or label the mind as it being to string thoughts along throughout your practice.

Breathing — Using Uijayi breathe (the breath of victory) begin to place your awareness solely on the breath. Listen to breath as it moves in and out of the body. As the mind wavers, take it back to it’s basic.

Chanting — Often finding a chant can be very helpful. Whether it is an intention, a prayer, spoken out loud, in silence, in your native tongue, or in sanskrit; it doesn’t matter. Having a chant can be very powerful because it allows the mind to focus on a simple phrase. This can help to bring about joy in the heart and turn the volume down on the monkey-mind.

Listening to a tape — Sometimes it can be helpful to listen to a meditation tape. This way you have something to listen to when the mind starts to wander. This will also help you focus on intention and can bring new elements into awareness.

Set a timer — Another huge fallacy around meditation is that is has to be for a long period of time. Even though meditation is most beneficial when practiced on average for 27 minutes a day, that’s not realistic for some people. So you do what you can. Sitting for even 5 or 10 minutes can make a world of a difference. So set a timer, let go of the need to look at a clock, and take a moment to be still.

Find ways to bring it into daily life — The truest and most evident benefit of meditation is finding ways to take in off the mat and into daily life. As you delve into your mediation practice, notice how your tolerance or patience begins to change. Or choose to actively incorporate the meditative mind into simple tasks such as getting cut off in traffic, waiting in a long line in a grocery store, or having that uncomfortable conversation. That state of being is what will serve you the most. It can be a compass in your life to point you in the direction of where you need to be and the path of least resistance to get there.

You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should mediate for an hour.” ~ Old Zen Saying