Ayurveda Classes This Fall

Turn Around

Western medicine dissects, differentiates, and separates illness into more and more finite detail. While there is amazing good that comes from this, it forces us to specialize and master all those details in order to be helpful. Ayurveda seeks to find the same answers to health via the core vibrational essences. This perspective is completely opposite in that it looks for primary or foundational unbalances that are the root causes instead of focusing on all the branching details at the leaf. This opposing perspective does many good things, but for our purposes the most important is that it makes health accessible to our understanding. By understanding primary root energies and focusing on ways to keep those few things in balance we can take back control of our health.

Join Us

We are offering day long immersion classes in ayurveda as well as an Advanced Topics single night class this fall at both the CBY (Colby) and WAU (Wausau) locations. If the idea of learning a completely different health philosophy or more about the mind/body/spirit connection then make some time to join us. This class is very informative and packed full with ideas that will change the way you think and live.

You can call our reception desk to schedule at 715.316.0040

Day Long Immersion

 

 

Ayurveda & The Gut

 

 

This Ayurvedic Life: Fear – Where it resides and how to manage it.

This Ayurvedic Life: Fear

Fear is associated with constricting energy and also with the primal vibrational essence that is called Vata. Read along or watch the video for more insight into what this means as well as for some tips on how to cope and mitigate these emotions that close us off and cause so much suffering for us.

In Ayurveda there are three primary body type’s: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We will discuss what these are and go into more detail in future blog posts. However I will give you a crash course of what Vata is: AIR (Wind) + ETHER (Space), Qualities that reflect Wind and Space. They are generally very creative, imagination runs wild, very energetic, and have many projects going on at once.

Transcription With Details

If we use what we know about Vata, where the energies of Vata are associated with the body (every bodily movement), and where the physical manifestation of fear is at the given time, then we can follow the trail backwards to find the root cause. Using manipulations, i.e. Massage Therapy, Yoga, Stretching, Meditation, and other opposing fear activities, we can open up body parts that are constricted physically and emotionally. This will help minimize our body’s susceptibility to fear and our body’s concentration of primal fear energy association. So, with all of that said we can now discuss the three things that one can work on specifically to help with fear.

Three Specific Actions that Calm Fear

The first one, the easiest one, is the Hamstrings. Who knew right?! The hamstrings are associated with energy and fear. Very often we are told that tension is everywhere in our body. When we get afraid we curl up, we turtle up, but we don’t think about our leg muscles. So, how would we help the hamstrings? Stretching, forward bending would be a go to; it will cool any aggravated energy but will also open up the hamstrings, which is a concentrated area for fear energy. If you can get rid of the fear energy by stretching you can reduce your impulse to be afraid.

Next, is the idea of ‘turtling up.’ If someone shouted out, “There’s a ball coming, duck!” What would you do? Most would recede their head downwards and hunch their shoulders up, while covering their head. That causes a restriction and a constriction through the pectorals, multiple neck muscles, and holding of the breath. These constrictions that are taking place are associated with fear. The way to break that after the ball fell safely, not hitting anyone, is to sit like a Captain in a Captain’s chair, if you will; or when standing, your shoulders are back and not up by your ears, chest out, head up, not slouching, be confident. All of these things are associated with the opposite of a fearful personality, a fearful posture. While sitting, use the Captain analogy with your arms extended outwards from your body for five minutes and that will help reduce the fear. Doing this expands opens the chest, the heart, and the lungs.

The third area of constriction and of fear is a little more esoteric and may not be for everybody. The area of the body that holds Vata energy strongly, maybe the most strongly of all, is the colon. Our colon does many jobs for our body, one of which is drying out stools. Dryness is one of the primary qualities of Vata, and an area that focuses on creating dryness in our body is an area that is always susceptible to having too much Vata energy. Too much dryness magnifies Vata, and with that comes too much energy that correlates with fear.  We can remove the emotion of fear by removing the associated energetic principles in the colon that are excessive and unnecessary. By countering too much dryness with proper lubrication we can remove our susceptibility to fear. Anything that we end up doing to allow the colon to be more effective in its healthy function will probably help with fear as well.

You are probably wondering how to do this. Well, in Ayurveda they do a small oil retention enema called a basti. Its a simple 2 oz enema held for 20 minutes, so its not too intense, and it powerfully lubricates and promotes healthy colon function. For the less adventurous, they also recommend certain herbs to lubricate the colon, such as licorice root. Licorice tea is made from licorice root that would be a helpful thing to have in your cabinet if you find yourself fearful a lot and having issues with dryness in your GI tract and colon.

There are always so much more that we can discuss and can always go into more detail about our topics but it is nice that you know have some understanding, if you didn’t before, on the three parts of the body that are more subjected to fear energy and where it resides. Also, you now have some tips on how you can take specific action to open those places up and create a lack, or removal of the vibration that causes fear energy. If you are interested more in learning about different techniques of the Ayurvedic Life check out our Ayurvedic classes at Back To Bliss.

Impatient? Bach Flower Remedies can help

Welcome To A New Modality

Congratulations on taking an interest in emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness. Bach Flower Remedies are an amazing therapy type, or modality, that works on this level our being to profound effect. There is a lot to talk about and be interested in with these great remedies. They are gentle without typical drug interactions or side effects. They work well for a large demographic of ages and emotional needs, and most of all, they are greatly effective.

A Little Bach-Ground

Dr. Edward Bach (1886 – 1936) was very instrumental in educating the public in the remedies that reach the vibrational level of yourself to help in the healing process of emotions. In other words, think of a piece of music or art that really moves you from the core. Your reaction has deep emotional and subconscious tones that resonate through you. These ‘vibrations’ are the level on which Bach Flower Remedies work within your system. “They do not work because of the chemical composition of the liquid, but because of the life forces derived from the plant and contained in the water-based mixture…” Bach (p. 7).

A Deeper Look

Very often when things are new, it’s hard to truly understand them without experiencing them. So here are the details on Impatiens, which was the first flower that Dr. Bach produced in remedy form.

Who should consider Impatiens? Dr. Bach says that:

“Ones who are impatient, irritable, nervous and quick to judge on a subject matter with negative appeal.” Impatiens helps with frustration towards others who are not ‘being fast enough’ for our liking.

Josiah talks a little bit about this remedy below. Details on how these remedies are made and used can be found in our upcoming class.

Learn More

Join us for a detailed examination of all the original Remedies developed by Dr. Bach. We will discuss how the remedies are used, mixed, and made in detail. By the end of this class series, you should understand how to create your own mixes and evaluate flowers for friends, family, and yourself.

References:

Kaminski, P. & Katz, R. (2000). Flower Essence Repertory: A Comprehensive Guide to North American and English Flower Essences for Emotional and Spiritual Well-Being. Nevada City, CA: The Flower Essence Society.

 

 

 

Bach Flowers: Remedies for Emotional Balance

Anxiety, depression, judgment, impatience.  These are just a few of the unbalanced emotional spaces we can fall into. Bach Flowers give us a holistic and gentle way to resolve these negative emotions at a deep soul level. And not just deep clinical emotional unbalances. Bach Flower Remedies are great for us to use just to keep tendencies of unbalance from becoming problematic at larger levels.

Bach Flowers work at a vibrational level, which is an excellent method for transmitting deep emotional and subtle information. They work without drug interactions and are completely safe for children. In fact, since they work on a very subtle level, they are great for helping children process emotions which they don’t have words to process intellectually.

Learn about the original flowers developed by Dr. Bach as well as the seven major veins of mental anguish he categorized.  Flowers such as Holly which helps people process jealousy will be discussed so you can learn how to help the emotional balance of your family. We will discuss all of the original Bach flower remedies along with how to use them. 

4 weekly classes will run Sundays from 3:30-5pm beginning on Feb 26th. Fee is $20 without book and $40 with book. Class will be casual with tea and discussion.

 

Gems Of Ayurveda: Everyone Isn’t The Same

Everyone Isn’t The Same

Ever get sick of ‘blanket advice?’ Sick of that commercial which is certain that the one point they are making is THE ANSWER to your health problems? One of the fundamental tenants of Ayurveda is a concept that allows for an individual body type. All of us have had the experience where we find sage advice to be horrible for us. Maybe that sage advice is good advice, just not for your body type.

The idea that you are not the same as everyone else makes finding healthy options a bit more complex. But the results, once you learn some basics about what your body type is, are much more reliable. The pearl of wisdom we are looking at today says, “Hey, I am unique. I respond to the world in my own way. I need unique advice about my health.” Pretty decent idea, wouldn’t you say?

What Are Body Types

Understanding body types isn’t all that hard. Basically, there are three primary types. There is a windy type, a fiery type, and a muddy type. These elemental types are metaphors that describe how we react in fundamental ways at all three levels of our being; body, emotion, and mind. The key is to understand that each of us is some combination of these three body types. Each body type has its own set of balancing and healing therapies. For instance, we have all heard advice about putting ice or heat on sore muscles. What’s up with that? They are complete opposites. Why would both completely opposite therapies be good? The concept of body types gives us some insight as to why the advice of both hot and cold packs can be the right advice. Both windy and muddy body types are more often cold and would like heat for balancing while fiery types are already inflamed and cold packs are more balancing to them in general. We just need to find out what your body type is to see how your unique nature needs to be balanced.

 

An Example of How It Works

We will use the example of music, which is not commonly thought of as medicine. Because, once you understand how the types work, you can turn everything in your life into something that balances you or unbalances you.

EXAMPLE:

You are tired and out of sorts from a long week of work. As you sit in your car to head home you go to turn on the radio:

Windy people love motion. They crave and live on the stimulation of new things and bouncy active events. However, that Pop 40 Station, filled with excitement, fast tones and your favorite jams that make you want to sing along and dance is depleting to you. Windy people often are imbalanced because they have spent all their energy. Now is not the time to get your groove on and burn the remainder of your vitality away. Silence would be the best answer, but maybe a channel without so much excitement would be best at the moment. Try some classical or something smooth and slow to help you wind down.

Fiery people are intense. They love lists, order, and can see what needs to be done. This ‘burning through’ decisiveness leads to a Friday drive home that probably has you tense and focused. Very often anger and control emotions are popping up because of all the obstacles keeping you from getting your list finished. The goal of balancing you now is to cool your fire from a raging inferno to a warming glow. Silence is too much of a change for you, so music that isn’t angry or intense is best. No feisty and rough lyrics for you today. How about turning off the rap and adding some country? Maybe some classics from the 50’s and 60’s instead of that 80’s rock. Even your Christian station may not be best today. It is filled with themes that inspire intense feelings within you. Now is not the time to light your fires, but to cool them.

Muddy people are steady. They endure and have consistency. Very likely they are not overburdened by the work week and are ready to roll. These people are typically in a rut and when unbalanced. That rut tends to lead them to complacency and sluggishness. So crank up the tunes. It’s time for the weekend! Muddy personalities can use a good shake up and shake down to get them moving and throw off their sluggishness. Activity and exuberance are what they need. So find your favorite jam and be that crazy person singing out loud and grooving to the beat. If your car isn’t bouncing at the stop lights, then you aren’t dancing hard enough!

To Learn More

Ayurveda takes a little bit of effort to learn. Mostly because our minds are not used to thinking in metaphors, but also because we need to learn how activities can be adjusted to make them less wind, fire, or mud unbalancing. That’s a good deal of detail. Basically, it’s a new way of thinking about our lives and how we do things. We can get very serious about it, and change a lot of things in our lifestyle, or we can take our time and focus on adjusting one activity at a time. As we grow in our knowledge, we make more and more small adjustments to our lifestyle that add up to keep us on track and balanced in a big way.

Back To Bliss offers an introductory Ayurveda class to get you started and often teaches classes on holistic health that utilize Ayurvedic wisdom.  Check our class schedule to see what’s coming up soon!

Walking Meditation – Classes and Group Activities

Walking Meditation @ Bliss Garden

Walking meditation is an age old practice that combines slow walking with mental focus and intentionality. There are various types of walking meditation that range from very prescribed practices filled with details about how to walk and what to think about, to simply being observant and mindful of the moment as you walk. These practices are found in many spiritual and religious traditions around the globe. The benefits of meditation are numerous, as is being out in nature. Taking time to engage in walking meditation combines mental focus, intentionality, stress free movement, and being out in nature. This combination makes for a truly blissful experience that is fun, healthy, and nourishing to heart and soul.

We will be offering monthly classes throughout the warm months of 2016. Each class will cover a specific topic or style associated with walking meditation. After class we will enjoy a formal group practice of walking meditation in the garden at our McMillian Retreat Center (weather permitting.) The garden will be open for walking meditation and socialization for the entire afternoon of class and past students of any class are welcome to walk the garden paths.

Group Structure

Each meeting will follow the same format. To begin, we will be indoors to talk about a specific aspect or practice of walking meditation. This group discussion will be followed by Q & A and will take roughly 45 mins to 1 hr. Following this the entire group will go outside to practice the specific techniques in that day’s focus. Practice can range from 20 mins to 45 mins depending on each person’s inclinations. And after the focused group practice, the garden is open for individuals to gather and socialize or perform their personal practice. Anyone is welcome to participate in either or both the group discussion and the group walk.

Bliss Garden’s will be open for the afternoon of the group meeting for all participants of past classes to enjoy personal meditation walks as well.

Dates, Times & Topics

This series is Free with donations accepted to help grow Bliss Garden. The classes are not sequential, but will have a decent amount of material that will build from previous sessions. Anyone of any age can attend class provided they can maintain the focus and quiet needed for a discussion group as well as a focused walking meditation. Registration is encouraged, but not required.

  • April 24th, Sunday from 1-3pm – Mindfulness
  • May 29th, Sunday from 1-3pm – Contemplation In Nature
  • June 14th, Tuesday from 3-5pm – Object Based Meditation – Japa / Rosary
  • July 12th, Tuesday from 3-5pm – Rhythm walking
  • August 9th, Tuesday from 3-5pm – Breathing Meditation
  • September 18th, Sunday from 1-3pm – Intentionality & Practice Building
  • October 23rd, Sunday from 1-3pm -Potential Year End Date

Bliss Garden

Back To Bliss’ community garden project is located on the property of our McMillan Retreat Center. Everything about the layout and design of the garden is meant to help inspire us to spiritual study and to help us enjoy the beauty of nature. Several activity areas are planned including a labryinth, havan, outdoor class courtyard, and communal food and fire area. Many more practices from different spiritual traditions will be built into the garden as well.

This year, the main pathways are available for walking meditation. Our paths are grass covered. They are not perfectly even, and not suitable for those challenged by uneven ground. Bring weather appropriate clothing and footwear if you plan on participating in group walks.

Goals

It is our hope that after a summer examining the different styles and philosophies of walking meditation you will have a solid grounding for making it a lifelong tool for wellness. By gathering in a group setting we build momentum and inspiration from each other to undertake these practices. Walking meditation has many styles and some are very different. By taking a look through a broad assortment of them we will find the style and philosophy that best suits your personality and needs.

If we build a strong group with energy and momentum this summer we can continue through the winter with different forms of indoor meditation practices.

For questions, call our group facilitator, Josiah @ 715.897.6825 or comment on our facebook event pages.

Class Topic Descriptions

Mindfulness

Mindfulness has gotten a lot of attention lately so we will begin from here. Walking meditation from the buddhist mindfulness school involves very structured movement at a slow pace. You repeat thoughts based on the actions you are performing. The focus and repetition develop a space where you become very present with the motion of thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations within you.

Contemplation In Nature

Contrasting the high structure and tight mental focus on our mindfulness practice, contemplation in nature is very unstructured. We attempt to use the energy from the natural setting to calm, replenish, and open us to a mental space where we can be free of our standard thought patterns. How we choose the topic of our contemplation and the way we set up a regular practice of such contemplations is dependant on our goals.

Object Based Meditation – Japa / Rosary

Object based meditation involves repeating a sound, phrase, or sight. Walking with a counting bead such as a mala or rosary, (finger counting works fine as well if you don’t have one) is a very calming experience. We will discuss the types of object for focusing upon that work best for walking meditation for any religious or spiritual tradition. This type of walking meditation has a moderate amount of structure and a slower walk.

Rhythm walking

Here we develop a type of focus that has more physical elements in it. These techniques can be applied to someone’s typical exercise walking practices to make your exercise more holistic. The mental focuses and awareness practices we implement are all based on the rhythm and pulse of the walk you choose. This practice can be applied to a vigorous paced walk, but any pace will work.

Breathing Meditation

With a specific focus on control and awareness of breath, these practices allow you to delve more powerfully into moving prana and balancing emotion. The topic of the day will be applying breath counting to the pace of your walk and breathing in the vitality from nature. These practices can be combined with previously discussed techniques to moderate them towards emotion and energy balancing.

Intentionality & Practice Building

By the end of the series we will have discussed techniques from many different traditions with subtle variations that help them focus on different parts of our being. These slight changes in focus allow us to gain deeper benefits in particular parts of our being. Today we will discus how to take the techniques and build  them into individual practices for personal benefit. Ideas such as: how long to walk, how many days in a row, what techniques help specifically with anxiety or anger will be discussed. You will build a personal practice and then as a group we will all walk our individual practices together.

Cilantro: An Amazing plant

Cilantro is an plant that grows worldwide and has some amazing health benefits.  Cilantro, or Coriandrum sativum, goes by many interchangeable names.  It is a member of the parsley family, Apiaceae, which gives us a hint as to why it is often called Mexican Parsley and Chinese Parsley. The parsley-like leaves are the main part we like to eat, but the seeds of the cilantro plant are a spice called coriander; hence the Latin name Coriandrum.  Coriander is a major spice in India where it makes up one of the three base spices for creating balanced and healthy curry: 3 parts coriander, 2 parts cumin, 1 part turmeric. I like to think that the confusion in naming this wonderful plant can be seen as a tribute to its wellness benefits.  If varied cultures across the globe have all found it useful for thousands of years, I feel like its worth taking some time to learn more about it myself.

Health benefits: Ancient and modern research both seem to point to several positive benefits of cilantro. Many of those benefits have to do with improving digestion, detoxification, and helping to process carbs and sugars throughout the body. In addition to aiding in these important functions, cilantro provides many valuable vitamins, antioxidants and essential oils.

For general use at home, it is most helpful as a nutrient filled cooling summer herb. Have you ever noticed that cilantro is very often included in salsas? The leaves aid digestion and increase pungency without increasing the acid levels of the salsa. They bring cooling energetic tones and flush out the taste profile of the salsa making it healthier and tastier.

Growing and Harvesting: Here are just a few tips to get you started with growing your own. We can grow it here in central Wisconsin easily, but if that’s not of interest to you, you can always pick it up at the local supermarket. Growing cilantro yourself keeps a steady and cheap supply available all summer long.

1: Scar the seeds a bit to improve the rate of germination; their husks are quite tough.

2: Plant it in cooler areas with semi shade to slow down the speed of bolting. Hot temperatures trigger it to change its growth pattern to making seeds instead of more delicious leaves.

3: A simple plan that includes multiple sowings and regular harvest can keep your cilantro habit going all summer. Try planting cilantro every 4-6 weeks. It only takes about 2 weeks after planting before you can harvest the leaves, so trim the plant heavily every 14-10 days to keep it providing lots of fresh leaves.

4: Most common pests will leave it alone, so the leaves are often very healthy and easy to prep for eating. The only issue is that they are often dusty and collect dirt, but that is easily remedied with washing.

Ten Minute Cool Down

Many of us like to push ourselves in the garden and during weekend outdoor projects. When we do, it is important to balance those stresses effectively to maintain our long term vitality. The following three practices, when combined, I like to call the 10 Minute Cool Down. They will synergistically work to physically balance your temperature, rehydrate you, calm your mind and refresh your body.

1: A proper drink. I suggest room temperature cucumber infused water. It’s easy to make, just put two or three slices of fresh cut cucumber into your water glass, wait 3 minutes and enjoy. Cucumbers provide some vitamins and electrolytes, but the main reason I choose to use them is because of their energetic cooling properties.  If you are looking for electrolyte replenishment as well, such as while you are in the middle of a very physical afternoon’s work, then squeeze a quarter of a lemon into your cucumber water and add a small pinch of salt.

2: Clothing and Shade Matter: Both the head and the feet are two fantastic places of releasing heat. While we are working, hats protect us from the sun’s rays and help us sweat and shoes protect our feet.  But, when resting, they only help to trap heat inside your body. So get those shoes, socks, and hats off while you rest.  This means finding a shady spot, or going indoors for a bit. What you are looking for is a relatively quiet space where you can rest, sip some cucumber water and indulge in a breathing practice.

3: Breathing: Shitali Kriya is a cooling and cleansing breath practice that any child can do, provided they can roll their tongue. By taking advantage of the cooling effects of evaporation, you can create a breath pattern that allows heat to escape from the body via the tongue on our exhalation. Begin by focusing your mind on creating an even breath pattern. By this I mean your inhalation and exhalation have the same length.  Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth.  As you breathe out, curl your tongue into a long tube to maximize the amount of air flow over the tongue and thus maximize the amount of evaporation. Take five full minutes to practice shitali kriya. Sip water if your mouth gets too dry.  Keep your mind focused on the breath throughout both the inhale and exhale.

Shitali Kriya is the icing on the cake of our cooling practice. It focuses your mind and quiets any stressful thoughts that would otherwise keep your body tense while you are resting. This little extra bit of mental focus on a breathing practice really provides serious dividends for those wanting a ‘power rest.’

Three Remedies For the Dying

No matter how good our doctors, our diet or our wellness plans are, our bodies will fail us and will one day expire.  As our bodies fail, there can be much pain and discomfort. There can be a dulling of the mind as well as deep emotional strain. Here are three lesser known holistic remedies for the dying that work with us at all three levels: mind, body, and spirit.  Each of these creates connection between the physical process of dying and the deeper mental/ emotional parts of us; allowing greater peace throughout the entire process.

1: Angel’s Trumpet Bach Flower Remedy – Back Flower Remedies are oral remedies that carry emotional intelligence via vibration. They are given in water and taken orally to help all manner of emotional and mental issues. This remedy has the key word of surrender.  This Remedy is good for the entire family whenever there is resistance and denial of the impending transition. It allows the experience of ‘surrendering to death’ to flow more smoothly by helping us to see death as a more spiritual process.  By expanding our perspective we see death as a part of the full process of life and thereby accept the need to surrender to it.   A great deal of emotional distress can be alleviated with this remedy.

2: Homeopathic Arsenicum Album – Arsenicum is indicated when symptoms are ‘worse at night’ and whenever the thought, ‘I’m going to die,’ is present.  It is indicated when there is both vomiting and diarrhea concurrently and the mucus membranes are inflamed. In hospice settings, all of these symptoms are common and this remedy can be considered whenever any of them are present. The more of these symptoms that are present, the more strongly arsenicum can be helpful.

However, arsenicum has a more profound and important use. When given in very high potency, 1-10M, during the last few hours of life, it offers tremendous peace to the person as they pass. One of its key notes is the ability to help us process fearful thoughts about dying. Its helpfulness holds true even with the intense fears that can be present when death is truly near.

Caution: Working with any homeopathic remedy of high potency should be done with supervision by a professional.

3: Massage For Hospice – Gentle touch can be very palliative; easing stress, anxiety, and pain.  Patients report better sleep, clearer minds, and are more capable of processing their stresses after even the gentlest of massage.  While all of these things are a normal part of the massage experience, they are incredibly valuable for hospice patients and their families. Massage releases the distractions of pain and stress from body and conveys compassion in a profound way. These benefits are received even by those who have an impaired ability to communicate.

Remember: Death is a part of life that you will eventually face.  Processing the stresses, emotions, and changes that it brings is vital to staying well.

 

Cold Maceration Of Peppercorns and Almonds

A traditional way to prepare several herbs and spices is by soaking them in a small glass of water overnight. This method of preparation is called a cold maceration. When we do this, we are either looking to soften some of the harder to digest spices and nuts or we are looking to pull some of the plant compounds into the water like a tea, but without using heat. Typically the process is very quick. Place your herbs or spices into a cup and pour tap or bottled water over it. Cover with a small plate to keep airborne particles from falling into your cup while it sits on the counter overnight.

There are many ways to prepare herbs and spices. Many herbs have compounds that are harder to extract and thus require more intense processes than just a cold soak. Various levels of heat are often used, but crushing, pressing, oils, and alcohol extractions are sometimes needed to get at the plant compounds we seek. Cold macerations work simply, gently, and require little in the way of tools or preparation time.

1: Peppercorn Maceration – Pepper is a pungent spice that warms, dries, and stimulates digestion. By soaking five whole peppercorns overnight in water you make them easier to digest. Drink the liquid and swallow the peppercorns whole like a vitamin. Use them to help burn up mucus or to awaken a sluggish digestive system. Sometimes I will do this when I know I am going out for pizza. All that cheesy goodness is a bit hard to process. I will prepare my peppercorns in the morning and drink them before going out that night. This is great for reducing mucus caused by colds as well. It is also wonderful for stimulating digestion if you are overeating. A few peppercorns help to diminish some of the negative effects of overindulgence by enhancing our body’s ability to process all that excess food.

2: Almond Maceration – Almonds help to nourish, replenish, and ground us. Almonds are high in protein, zinc, and good fats and if you’re interested in learning more about their benefits they are often recommended for calming the nervous system, sexual depletion, smooth muscle health, and as a healthy snack option for weight loss. They are excellent for building up fluids in the body, including male sexual fluids. In that vein they are often recommended for men that are trying to conceive.  The practice would be to soak three to five almonds overnight and then eat them as a daily supplement to replenish sexual fluids specifically, but also to nourish and restore the body in general.

Both of these examples are very forgiving to beginners. Give them a try just for fun!

Medical Theories Of The World

There are many healing systems used throughout the world.  Medicine as we typically know it here in the west is called Allopathic Medicine.  It has its own assumptions, theories, and modes of practice.  But, it isn’t the only system of medicine out there. It’s good to know that medicine is a universal human need and that we have successfully created many different systems and theories to help restore health and wellness.

Medical systems tend to develop within cultural frameworks. Every tribe and culture throughout history had its own wise women, shamans, and the like.  Today, three of the most widely practiced medical systems are from three great cultures: Ayurveda from India, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM,) and Allopathic Medicine from the west. Even within our western culture, we have sprouted homeopathic medicine, naturopathic medicine, chiropractic medicine and several others.

All of these types of medicine stand apart from each other in some of their major premises.  Ayurveda and TCM both believe that disease is a result of imbalances within the individual.  They have very different language and practices, but they share the assumption that health can be restored by bringing the body back into balance energetically.  Allopathic medicine uses germ theory, genetic theory, and deficiency theories to halt disease and its symptoms.

Let’s take insomnia for example. One of homeopathy’s primary theories states that ‘like energy cures like symptom.’  So a homeopathic cure for insomnia where your mind, ‘just won’t shut off,’ would be a very dilute dose of something that stimulates your mind, like coffee. This is very different from a chiropractic theory of spinal alignment, which would work to adjust subluxations in your spine in order to calm the nervous system and reduce insomnia.  TCM might look to balance your gall bladder or spleen meridians with acupuncture using meridian theory.

While we can’t define all the differences here, we can get a sense that there are very real and substantial differences between medical systems.  Those differences can result in very different prescriptions from your doctor for the same health problem. Many times I have seen someone switch systems, from allopathic to alternative or vice versa, to great personal benefit. Their new doctor had different foundational assumptions that created a different framework of medicine, different diagnosis and different prescriptions for cure.

Caution: We often get into the ‘Ford vs. Chevy’ argument in regards to medical systems. While we may be firmly entrenched in our own beliefs, we must recognize that all of these different viewpoints on health and disease are being used in the real world.  They have all been around for hundreds if not thousands of years.

Caution:  Finding great practitioners who practice all these different medical theories… that’s another issue altogether.

Juicing and Smoothies

There are lots of food fads that come and go. The juicing fad has recently been overtaken by the smoothie fad, which will move over to the next.  While I enjoy and recommend both smoothies and juicing, I wanted to dig a little deeper into a couple of the reasons that these are beneficial practices. I find that both juices and smoothies work with your digestive system to increase the nutrient density of a meal and to decrease the barriers to bringing those nutrients into your body.

Juicing is a great way to increase nutrient density in particular. By extracting all of the juices and leaving the heavy pulp, you create a situation where you can get much of the nutrients from a piece of fruit, while taking up only a fraction of the space in your stomach.  In this way you can juice many times the amount of fruit and veggies that you could eat in a day.  One juicing program I know recommeds each person juice 22 lbs. of fruit and veggies a day! Juice also takes very little energy to digest keeping all your energy available for detoxification.

Cons of juicing are that you leave behind a couple important dietary items in the discarded shavings, you need to purchase a juicing machine, and it takes a bit of time to clean up.

Smoothies take a slightly different approach.  They don’t focus on providing such intense nutrient density, but they make fruits and vegetables much easier to digest because a blender has already chewed up the food.  Smoothies give you all the fiber and nutrients that you would be dumping out in the pulp after juicing.  It doesn’t let you get the number of vegetable servings that juicing does, because you are eating the whole vegetable, but it does a great job of delivering nutrients that are digestable.

Caution: The new smoothie fad is all about prepackaged smoothie mixes.  The tradeoff you get with these easy to make powdered products is that you lose the vitality and active enzymes that you get with real foods.

Many healing diets and cleanses are built around the two core concepts of getting high nutrient density into the body and decreasing the energy we spend digesting our food.  Both smoothies and juicing deliver on both of these key points and should be considered parts of a healthy diet or for special cleanses.  Plus they taste delicious!

Looking for a simple juice recipe to start?  Try 3 carrots, 2 apples, and 1 stalk of celery.   Add a pinch of ginger for some spice!

A nice place to start with smoothies is: 1/2 cup Apple Juice, 1/2 cup yogurt, and 1 cup of your favorite frozen berrys.  Optionally, you can add 2 Tbs. protein powder and honey to taste.