aromatherapy, ayurveda, nutrition, transcendental meditation, wellness

Re-Entry

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I wrote about my idyllic time at the Raj at the beginning of last month, for which I am extremely grateful. Now it is time for my blog to catch up to real life… I learned all of these great techniques and now I am trying to implement them in my own crazy, hectic life. No one is cooking for me, making my bed, massaging oils on me, checking on my meditations. (Well, Amy kindly calls to check on me, and it is great having my mom to check-in with regarding all of this too.) But you get my point–life post-Raj is much more scattered, frenzied, and un-Zen.

In the end, I decided I was trying to implement too many life-changes at once. Yes, ideally, I would be waking at 6am for tongue scraping, oil pulling, nasya, garshan, abhyanga, shower, sun salutations, pranayam, and meditation. All before I prepare and eat my barley flakes with fresh fruit and tea. But somehow, this was not happening… So I modified it to garshan/abhyanga/shower every other day with salutations… Which has somehow turned into hey-I-brushed-my-teeth and have-taken-a-shower-in-the-last-three-days I’m good to go!

I want to get back on track though. I need to get “back on track”. Each of the self-care steps I outlined (along with daily NingXia Red, essential oils, a second meditation, and clean eating) make me feel better. Who doesn’t want to feel better?! So the battle of the old, entrenched habits against the new, healthier habits wages on. Sugar & Screen Time are currently in the lead; but I have hope that Meditation, Ayurveda, & Essential Oils will still come out triumphant in the end.

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ayurveda, Learning, nutrition, wellness

My Stay at the Raj (Part 4): Food/Yoga/Lectures

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If you know me in the real world, you know I don’t enjoy cooking. That statement is actually an oversimplification. I do enjoy cooking, sometimes. I think part of the turn-off for me is that it needs to happen so frequently and consistently. I prefer my creative outlets to be more spontaneous-as-the-mood-hits-me, than this-is-required-for-your-and-your-family’s-survival. So another thing I was greatly looking forward to with this trip was not having to meal-plan, shop, prepare, or clean-up for five days!

The food at the Raj is amazing. It’s aryuvedic and vegetarian. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, as that is when your agni (digestive fire) is at it’s peak. Meals begin with a shot of ginger or fennel juice as dictated by your aryuvedic consultation. Followed by chutney–often a pairing of a cilantro and an apple–and tea, again according to your dosha. Next we are served a cup of dahl (soup) often prepared with mung beans or lentils, always yummy. The main dish varied, but included: dark green leafy vegetables, other types of vegetables, rice or quinoa, crepe or chapata all seasoned with Indian spices. For dessert there were puddings, crisps, and even pie–made with fruit and coconut sugar. At the end of the meal we were given lassi (a yogurt drink) to aid in digestion. Lunch and dinner are served in a room with a long group table that all of the guests at the Raj are welcome at. There is also private seating around the perimeter, if you prefer to eat alone or in a smaller group. There were so many interesting, friendly guests we mostly chose to eat with the group. Breakfast was served in a different area, buffet style with hot drinks, hot cereal, and stewed fruit. We also were able to attend two cooking classes with the head chef. The first was a discussion format about the importance of food. The second was a demo of a chutney and a crepe. Both were extremely helpful in showing me some ways to implement ayurvedic cooking at home.

Yoga is offered twice a day, making it possible for us to find a class that was outside of our treatment and meditation times each day. The class was quite gentle as the instructor understood we were detoxing and didn’t want to tax our systems. It consisted of sun salutations, self-massage, and asanas. I enjoyed them very much.

In the evening different lecturers come in to talk about a variety of topics. Our first night the topic was “Panchakarma”. This is the name of the detox we were undergoing. (Well, my mom and I opted for the PK Lite, but very similar.) The second night the topic was “The Importance of Silence in Sports”, though we opted out. The third night the topic was “Your Physical and Emotional Heart”. A compelling lecture by Helen Toomey. And the fourth night the topic was “Vedic Architecture”. Like our bodies, Maharishi felt it was important for buildings to be designed in harmony with nature.

The flow of our days felt very balanced, and I greatly appreciated the attention to detail from the fresh flowers and Indian music radio station in our suite, to the opportunities for physical/mental and social/solitary outlets outside of treatment times. The Raj staff were warm and accommodating throughout our stay. It was the perfect setting to learn transcendental meditation and aryuvedic practices.

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Learning, transcendental meditation, wellness

My Stay at the Raj (Part 2): Transcendental Meditation

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Lawrence Sheaff painting at The Raj

The impetus for finding the Raj was a google search of “transcendental meditation retreats”. I have not meditated regularly in the past; however I have felt a strong pull towards it. Last spring I read The Self-Driven Child by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson. This was an excellent parenting book, and in it they talked about transcendental meditation (TM) and how beneficial and life changing it was for them. Google search (yep, I’m a google girl!) led to all kinds of amazing information about this well-researched form of meditation.

During our time at the Raj, my mom and I worked with dear TM instructor, Amy Ruff. She carefully selected our mantras, helped us learn to use them, explained the process the brain undergoes during TM, explained the role thoughts play in meditation, uplifted, encouraged, and laughed with us. My main goal in learning meditation was to relieve anxiety. My first day home, one daughter commented I looked thinner, the other said I had a much calmer energy. I replied “Thank you” to the first, and “Oh my gosh, really?!” to the second.

I am still at the very beginning of my journey, but I am anticipating my practice becoming richer and more positive as I proceed. I highly recommend TM for everyone! To find out more information and find a meditation center near you, go to: https://www.tm-women.org

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Learning, magic, nature, wellness

Awakened, Playful, Kind Woman

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Just listened to one of my favorite podcasts (www.awakenedwomanselfcare.com ) as I weeded my garden. Their guest, Asia Suler (www.onewillowapothecaries.com ), was talking about the capability we all have of connecting to plants on a healing level. I have not explored this intimate level of relationship with my plants, but I am open to the idea.  They are, after all, living things. And I certainly feel a consistent sense of calm and peace when I am among them that is hard to replicate in less natural settings.

Asia also highlighted the importance of playfulness. A sense of fun, doing silly things, thinking funny thoughts, smiling, laughing all are an important part of who I am, and how I need to relate with the world to feel happy and balanced. I live with two teenage daughters. If you don’t have teen girls, they’re a pretty serious group, at least ours are. My epic jokes and clever witticisms are usually met with groans and eye rolls. I remember being their age. I was not very playful (at least with adults), but I am grateful I am now.

Another important idea Asia discussed was the concept of “nice girl” vs. “kind woman”. This was intriguing to me. A perennial “nice girl” myself, I know the trap of people-pleasing and dis-empowerment enveloped in that characterization. Asia offered an alternative of being a “kind woman”. It’s a subtle shift, maintaining the integrity of the essence of “niceness” (kindness) without allowing others to take advantage of you. And of course, the acknowledgement that a person is an adult is respectful and empowering.

Thank you Christine, Emma, & Asia for sharing your conversation with us. If you have not checked out this podcast yet… I invite you to do so. No need to listen in chronological order. They vary greatly, so if one guest is not holding your attention, I urge you to try another. Here is a list of my favorite episodes to date:

Living in Alignment With the Magic of Earth

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Creative Boundaries and Balance

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Nurturing Kindred Spirits as Self Care

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The Magic in Creative Self Care

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Mastering the Art of Dreamboarding

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How Pain and Grief are a Portal to Purpose

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How to Work in a Holistic Vibration

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Sacred Exploration of Female Sexuality

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Tapping into Self Care
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aromatherapy, wellness

NingXia, Lavender, and Cypress Oh My!

June 2018 Essential Rewards Order

Two months ago I renewed my passion for essential oils. I love aromas. Herbaceous. Floral. Spicy. Citrus. I love them all. Give me essential oils and I’m like a kid in a candy shop–eyes wide, big smile!

Not only do they smell great, they have amazing therapeutic properties. I have so enjoyed learning more about what they can do. It’s empowering to be able to look up something I need support with and to find the oils that will help. Not only that, they’re so individualized, I can look up ways they can support my girls’ health, and even our dog, cat, and horse!

Pictured above is our June Young Living order. Most exciting is the NingXia Red. This stuff is amazing! As someone who used to hide the daily vitamins and supplements her well-meaning mom used to dole out. (Sorry, Mom!) It is amazing to find a supplement so rich in vitamins and minerals that tastes great.

You can see I purchased some bottle labels to help identify our growing oil collection. Veggie capsules are for taking oils internally. (See how grown up I am now?) The Carrotseed, Copaiba, Field, Fitness, and Jade Lemon on the left were my purchases. On the right the Citronella, Cypress, Lavender, Lemongrass, M-Grain, and Orange we received for FREE with our order!

I’m really trying to get more green at our house too. Recent changes: wool dryer balls (that I can put lovely smelling oils on!), stainless steel straws, and reusable sandwich bags. I am open to suggestion of other ways our family can be more earth-friendly. Please share your ideas in the comments!

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mental health, wellness

Zero or Ten

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My mental health has been (and still is!) an arduous process. Anxiety, depression, and addiction are deeply seeded in my family’s DNA. I know these disorders are prevalent in our society as a whole. I am using this entry as a means of making this issue clearer in my own mind. If feelings or problems are not your cup of tea, you may want to pass this one by. I will get back to posting about gardening and parenting soon.

Anxiety has been my primary disability for years. I operate at a heightened state of alert that does not allow me to inhale or exhale fully. A lot of my self-care continues to go into attempting to let go of this ever-present tension, and remembering to breathe to get oxygen to my brain. (I wish I was jesting.)

I tend to be less self-aware when depression is creeping back. For me, it often surfaces as trying not to feel. I will sleep a lot or numb-out on social media. I am an optimistic and busy person by nature, so anxiety is easier for me to accept than despondency.

Self-awareness of my addictive tendencies has allowed me to side-step the chemical dependency many grapple with. However, I am a compulsive person. As a compulsive eater, I have found sugar to be a very effective mode of numbing feelings. I made a vow to adopt a clean-eating life-style a couple months ago; so that is no longer an option when I am feeling the need for escape. My latest compulsions are essential oils and podcasts… not all compulsions are negative!

So I am coming full-circle back to self-care. It is interesting, self-care is easier for me when I am already feeling good. When I am most down, most in need, it is the most difficult for me to implement. Case in point, last night I was at the center our family frequents for therapy. My daughter had an appointment, and I was considering taking a bio mat session. My thinking went, “I don’t want to waste a bio mat session when I have such a severe headache.” My daughter pointed to the bio mat poster in the office that listed “alleviates headaches” as one of its uses. I had the session and felt better. My point being, it is so easy to snowball in the downward spiral. When I am low, I don’t want to do anything, however that is exactly the time I need to take steps to help myself.

I feel I vacillate between attempting CONTROL (anxiety) and attempting ESCAPE (depression). There is certainly much I have little control over and escaping feelings is a loosing battle. Yesterday the words that kept swirling in my head were surrender and release. I often joke that I am a zero or ten girl–all in or all out. It is very difficult for me to “just be”. My current goal for myself is to surrender. It is a work in process, but awareness is a good starting point.

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Learning, parenting, wellness

Motherhood

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Mother’s Day and my youngest daughter, Lara, turning thirTEEN this month have me reflecting on my parenting journey.

I am lucky enough to have an extraordinary woman as my own mother. Like all of us, her mothering story has not been without turbulence (some created by her, some by me and my sister). I think what smooths out all the bumps in the road is I always knew she loved me.

Like her, I am fiercely devoted to my daughters. They honor, humble, teach, delight, and (I won’t lie) horrify me daily. During a study of world religions in elementary school, my oldest daughter, Sage, came home and said, “I know what religion you are, Mom.” (Though a spiritual person, we do not attend church, so I was curious to hear her thoughts on the matter.) “You believe in love and mothering,” she decreed. I was grateful she knew that truth.

If you know me in person, you know I am a very involved parent. I fear the girls’ teachers groan inwardly when they see me approaching. I know the girls groan when I ask my tenth question of the day! And recently my sweet Lara, gently suggested I stop being quite so hovering in my parenting. I asked her what I was to do with all my extra love and energy. “Love yourself,” she wisely advised.

Was she the first person to ever tell me this? Of course not. Is it super powerful to have your child, whom you’ve been pouring your love and attention on tell you this? It was for me.

I am thoroughly enjoying the taking-care-of-myself phase I am entering. After decades of nurturing others, I must say, I am quite the accomplished nurturer. And after decades of ignoring my own wants/needs it feels quenching to have those depleted parts of me tended to.

Reminding myself there is value in pointing out my inevitable mistakes and the steps I am taking to remedy them; I apologized to the girls for setting such a poor example of self-care. I urged them not to follow in my footsteps, but to maintain their own well-being even when there are important people in their lives that they want to show care to.

Like me and my lovely mother before me, my kind-hearted girls are not going to be the mythical “perfect mother”. They might not even chose to be mothers. However, I think that if love flows through their intentions in their relationships with others, I will have imparted the philosophy of love that is so important to me.

Happy Mother’s Day and LOVE

to all the mamas and care-givers

past, present, and future!

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