Crimes Against Wisdom

There is a pearl of wisdom that says, “Well over 90% of all our dis-ease comes from performing crimes against wisdom.”  What could a crime against wisdom be?  The answer is quite simple.  A crime against wisdom happens when you know you should not do something, but you do it anyway.  In other words it is not heeding our inner voice of wisdom, also called heart knowing or our gut reaction.

We say, “Gosh, I’m tired.  I should go to bed.”  We stay up anyway.

We say, “I’m full.  I should stop eating.”  We clean our plate anyway.

All of us fail to listen to our inner voice of wisdom at times.  Often, this is because our mind and our gut have different opinions about what to do.  Our mind wants to get its own way, so it argues like crazy.  Our mind creates excuses, talks us in circles, and often manipulates us with our own desires.  It does this in order to convince you to go ahead with what it, the mind, wants.  Our gut comes to conclusions a different way.  Our gut can’t argue the way our minds can.  Our gut’s voice doesn’t explain itself with rational thought or wordy explanations.  Our gut just knows.

The difference between the voice of the gut and the voice of the mind can be explained in short by saying that knowledge isn’t wisdom.  Our mind is a complicated thing.  It has great power, but its knowledge is limited.  Wisdom is deeper.  It is intuited.  Wisdom from the gut isn’t clouded by the opinions of the mind and is therefore very honest.  This is important when it comes to wellness.  Your gut says, “I’m full.”  Your mind says, “I must keep eating until everyone else is done, too.  I don’t want them to think I don’t like the food.”

Wellness Practice:  By making a conscious effort to listen to what your gut is saying, you will strengthen your connection to that level of internal wisdom.  Start simply with two food based practices.  The first opportunity to connect occurs when you choose to make a meal.  Stop, close your eyes and ask yourself what you want to eat.  Start listening to your responses and try to make the meal your gut is telling you it wants to eat.  The second opportunity happens as you end your meal.  Listen and watch.  When your body tells you it is full, do you stop eating?  What stories do you tell yourself that complicate the simple impulse of, “I’m full?”  What are the parts of the conversation that conflict with the voice telling you to stop?  Are you conscious about your end of meal habits?  Do you nibble and don’t know it?  Is the fork back in your hand?  Stay with these two awareness building practices.  Eventually you will learn more about yourself and hopefully be able to perform a few less crimes against wisdom each week.

Caution:  By continuously suppressing our internal voice of wisdom we end up constantly pushing the boundaries of our health.  By eating too much, we stress our system.  By neglecting rest and sleep, we stress our system.  We stress ourselves by little bits again, and again, and again.  What happens to a body after 30 years of extra little stresses again, and again, and again?

Remember:  All stress caused by crimes against wisdom is avoidable.   Train yourself to heed your internal voice of wisdom.

The Power Of Scent

Scents are used as wellness therapy all over the world.  Why is it that they are so universally acknowledged to have healing properties?  One of the answers lies in our anatomy.

First, we need to know that a synapse, or a juncture between two nerve cells, is where information can be exchanged.  In simple terms, the more synapses you have, the larger the opportunity for assessment, analysis, adjustments, and change.  There is a synapse between every nerve cell in the chain of nerves that takes input from our nose to our brain.  Normally we think of this opportunity for analysis as being a good thing; we are the mighty champions of the cerebral cortex, you know.  The reason that scent is so powerful is because there are very few synapses between the smell receptors in our nose and the end point in our brain.  Scent doesn’t have as many opportunities to get diluted, adjusted, and changed.  Thus, we can’t diminish its strength or dilute the associations the scent makes with excuses or rationality.  Scent goes straight in like a laser.

The second reason why our anatomy helps us understand the power of scent comes from understanding what part of the brain the signals are sent to.  This area is called the Limbic System.  And while it is quite complex, we often think about this area as our emotional brain.  Further, the neighborhood where scent signals are processed is also  responsible for memory.  This physical neighborhood matters because proximity makes opportunity for connections to be made.  Our anatomy sets up the opportunity for scent, emotion, and memory to all become closely associated.

Everyone has had the experience where they smell something and go, “Wow, that takes me back.  Reminds me of…”  Those memories and their emotional tones are all tied to the scent.  Science is even suggesting that our very ability to smell requires those associative memories.  That’s how profound the connections are.  We can use scents to trigger specific emotions and to balance them.  But, because of scent’s association to specific memories, we can also bring out happy associations to brighten our day or pull up negative memories for processing.

The science of using scent for wellness is called Aromatherapy.  There are a tremendous number of different Aromatherapy Essential Oils to choose from.  The individual scents each have different balancing effects on our emotions.  I highly recommend doing a little research on this wonderful healing modality.  Hopefully this article helps you appreciate why scent can be so helpful. Next week we will give examples of specific Essential Oils and their healing properties.

Caution: Aromatherapy Essential Oils are not just used for their scent.  This can be confusing when looking at the uses of essential oils.  The extractions pull more than just the aromatic plant compounds out.  This gives the entire modality of Aromatherapy a broader spectrum of use than just smelling them.

Remember: Scents go straight into the brain and thus we can’t dilute their effects before they trigger emotional responses.  This, combined with the memories associated with them, make them wonderful tools for attaining emotional wellness.


Growing More Grass

Our language is telling.  It creates fundamental associations that underlie what assumptions we make and how we will tend to act/react.  I’m writing today about non-violence, but grass is more commonly used in another context today.  When you read the title of this column, did you think about marijuana?  Maybe you associated the title with current politics?

Poets and songwriters use words to great effect.  However, we are affected by our internal conversation and daily conversations with others the most strongly.   How much thought have you given to the words you use; to their associations with violence, dominance, and the way they affect the people closest to you?

We can take some time to first examine the way we speak and the words we choose.  Once we find an unwanted tendency we can then make a conscious effort to change the way we use that word.  Let’s use humor as an example.  I used to be a very sarcastic person.  I enjoyed the burn; the sharp wordplay that put a good dig into my friends.  Then it was pointed out to me that sarcasm is a very angry form of humor that belittles someone else by pointing out their faults.  I noticed the feeling of power it gave me to feel better than someone, to be the witty master of words.  I loved the laughter as everyone applauded my efforts and poked fun at my victim.  It was great until I really paid attention to the way that my humor impacted my way of thinking and those around me.  I finally made a choice that it wasn’t worth putting people down to bring myself up.  It wasn’t funny anymore.

The solution is a gentle refocusing of our attention.  It follows an old adage: instead of pulling the weeds, just grow more grass.  Eventually the weeds will get choked out because the grass is so strong and healthy.  The application of this principle can be used universally.   It took a couple years for me to get rid of sarcasm, but the sharp come backs have slowly stopped jumping up in my mind.  Now my impulse to cut, burn and dig my friends isn’t my first or even second reaction.

Does violence really have any place in our hearts and minds?  We have been highly desensitized to the common use of violent language through media and culture.  It is only because we haven’t taken a deep look at it that we allow it in our lives.  Instead of focusing on our adversaries, perhaps we should focus on our friends?  Instead of creating division and stress, we can bring about connections and friendships that nurture us.  In terms of humor, now I find ways to gently poke fun of situations instead of digging into a person.  There are many ways to still have fun.

Mother Theresa was asked if she hated anyone.  She responded with another version of our adage which I have paraphrased here. “If I take the time to hate, that is time I cannot spend loving and caring for someone.  It’s not worth it to hate.”  In the end, it is your life and your experience.  How you spend it and how you interact with the people around you is your choice alone.

Longevity To What Purpose

Our culture today is obsessed with the length of our lives.  We pat ourselves on the back about it all the time.  Statistically I can expect to make it 74 years!  Sounds pretty great, but is longevity alone deserving of all the accolades?  As soon as we add quality of life and quality of mind to the discussion, it immediately gets muddy.  Do you want to live in pain?  If your mind deteriorates long before your body, what then?  The discussion gets further muddied if we talk about happiness and regret.  Does adding 10 extra years of unhappiness sound appealing?

While a deep and lengthy discussion is worth having on this issue, ancient wisdom gives a practical way to respond to this question.  Their answer was that we should conduct ourselves in such a way that our vitality and health last long enough for us to accomplish our life’s purpose before we die.  With this frame of reference, we no longer focus so much on length of life, but on staying healthy enough to take care of business.  I love using this frame of reference because it changes the whole conversation.

I brush my teeth so they don’t rot becomes I love to perform and communicate my ideas to groups of people.  So I brush my teeth to keep them looking great.

I exercise because my family has bad hearts becomes I want to see my granddaughter graduate college.  I need to pay extra attention to strengthening my heart because several members of my family have died young of heart disease.

All of the sudden we have some passion and direction to this discussion of longevity.  It helps us frame what we need to focus on.   Depending on our goals, it shows us how intense we need to work to stay fit, healthy, or mentally sharp.  It also forces us to ask some new questions.  Three of my favorites are:

1: Do you know what you want out of life?

2: Are you building the skills and maintaining your focus enough to get to the goals that truly matter?

3: Am a pushing too hard where it doesn’t matter?

We all want to live healthy, happy, fruitful lives that mean something.  I hope this little bit of wisdom from the past can help you define exactly what that means for you.  Setting the proper attitudes for why we do what we do is just the first step.  While it is indeed a critical step, proper attitude is still just the first in the long journey of wellness.

Caution:  Life is messy and time marches on regardless.  It’s the same for everyone.  Only you can set the priorities that will result in your contentment or regret.

Remember:  Big goals are accomplished in little steps.

Momentum Of Disease

Did you know that disease has momentum?  The process of us moving from vibrancy and health to fatigue and depletion, then sickness, and finally disease and death can be seen as a process of momentum.  Taking a look at the momentum of a disease can be enlightening and very helpful as you plan for wellness.

Imagine a snowy scene.  You have walked to the top of a steep snowy hill.  Looking back down the hillside you view your house at the bottom.  Playfully, you decide to make a small snowball.   You set it on the ground and give it a push.  You watch the snowball as it rolls.  With every rotation it grows, it gets heavier and faster.  It starts to rumble and roar as it tumbles and flips down the hillside.  You stare, a little shocked and awed, as it continues.  The snowball grows from a ball to the size of a tire, then in to a boulder.  Now it’s the size of a car and will soon be the size of a dump truck.  Your awe turns to fear as you realize it is heading straight for your house.  You scramble, but it’s too late to do anything.  Crash!

Now imagine that the snowball is a disease.  Our allegorical scene illustrates several wisdoms.  Today, I will point out two of them.   First, we seldom realize the implications of our actions as they affect us way down the road.  Even when we feel the effects of fatigue and depletion, we don’t quite know what is coming.  It isn’t until the disease is dump truck sized and has terrifying momentum that we see the upcoming tragedy and know that we need to stop that snowball.

Secondly, our story shows a relationship between the momentum of the disease and the difficulty or ease in stopping that momentum.  Our tiny snowball sized stressor has many options that are often cheap and easy for you to balance all by yourself.  That dump truck sized disease gives you fewer options, less time, and much less control.

Caution: Trying to stop a disease with the momentum of a dump truck using just a multivitamin or a bag of tea will not work.  You may need to seriously spend some resources and change some deep habits to match the power of a diseases momentum and thus halt it.

Remember: It is far cheaper, in dollars and in drama, to pick up the snowball at the top of the hill while it’s small than when it looms disastrously large at the bottom.

Putting Intention Into Tradition

As it turned out, we ended up with a monochromatic tree this year.  It is filled with beautiful silver-blue  ribbons, bulbs, and lights.  There was one single exception; a blast of color that was easy to see.   At first glance the color seemed out of place.  It didn’t come from a specific ornament; it came from a specific intention.  There were several ornaments all in varied colors and styles spaced evenly around the tree making a stark contrast to the monochrome tone of everything else.

You see we don’t have a lot of ornaments that actually mean anything to us anymore.  We have a few that have survived our many moves across the country.  A few that were saved from childhood by our parents, and a few that our children have recently made.  Rummaging through our Christmas tote, there are mostly three big piles of ornaments: generic, left-over bits, and purchased on sale.  They may be pretty, but they have no meaning to us other than the fact that they are the decorations we put on the tree.  We stuff them back into the box and forget all about them for the rest of the year.

The stark contrast between our colorful personalized ornaments and the generic silver ones served to illuminate the emotions attached to the ornaments of color.  It showcased the varied family ornaments.  The tree suddenly became a space that pulled us into the intention of family.  Our tree now reminds us of our history, our family traditions, and our rites of passage.  It is not just a pretty decoration this year.  It has become a tool to lead us into positive space.  And it was all brought about by my wife’s intention to put a little more family meaning into the process of decorating for Christmas.

Our personal example showcases an important idea.  We have the power to intentionally create space.  The activities we undertake and the spaces that we create can be uninspired and generic ones.  They can drain us; becoming energy depleting work that we go through the motions to complete.  However, if we place our intentions into them they can renew us and inspire us.   If we layer our personal desires into the completion of activities it gives them and us new vitality.

Practice:  If you like the idea of creating a more intentional Christmas decorating tradition.  Try including a Christmas ornament exchange for your family.  Every year you will get a few more ornaments that were given to you for a reason by someone you love.  By making it a yearly tradition you will have memories attached to all of your decorations in no time.  They will help create positive emotions in your space for years to come.

Remember: We need meaning in our lives.  It keeps us healthy and inspired.  You can be the force in your family that creates and maintains the meaning within your family traditions.  All it takes is a little planning and a little bit of work to set it up.

Opening The Heart Center

There are several ways to skin a cat, or so I hear.  There are also several ways to go about releasing the tension stored at the heart center.  Last week we proposed that our ability to process our emotions may play a part in keeping breast tissue healthy.  Whether or not you buy into my theory or not, releasing the tension around the heart center is a good thing to learn how to do.  Here are several tips for releasing your heart at both the physical level and at the emotional level.

1: Try speaking your mind a little more often.  Get if off your chest.  Allowing our heart to speak its voice and be witnessed by others is very validating.  Finding ways to let your voice be heard without anger, blame, or intensity is the goal.  If speaking is too much, then journaling is still an effective option.

2: Take a deep breath in and release it fully.  Every breath is a stretch.  Every breath cleanses the blood.  In addition, the deep breath pauses us.  It pauses our mind.  It pauses our forward intensity.  Very often when we are stressed and ‘in the zone,’ there is a tension we hold in our chest muscles.  Practice and see if you can feel how taking a deep breath helps to release this clenched area of the body.  Build a habit of breathing deeply and letting it go.

Remembering to change your breath is tricky.  I suggest picking three triggers that remind you to take that deep breath.  Try breathing deeply at every stop sign, before opening any door, and before answering any phone call.

3: Regular massage for the heart has tremendous benefits in releasing stored emotion and increasing self esteem.  In addition to moving lymph and relaxing muscle tension throughout the chest and breast, taking time out for a 10 minute massage relaxes our entire nervous system.  Touching this area of your body increases your awareness of both the tissues and the emotions stored here.  And last, becoming aware of your “normal” breast hardness, skin feel, and other details makes it much easier to zero in on any changes that may be taking place, aka early detection.

The techniques are pretty simple.  Start with feather-light “U” shaped strokes.  Lymph vessels are very delicate and deeper pressure will not help lymph flow.  Gently move from the center of the chest to the armpit.  Make several passes that include the entire chest, all pulling fluid gently towards the lymph nodes in the armpit.  Next, go over the entire area again with more depth and pressure.  Allow the massage to dig deeper into the breast without causing discomfort.  Press into the muscles under the breast, into the spaces between the ribs, into the arm pit area, and all the way up to the collar bone.  This deeper massage will help soften muscles and help to normalize breast tissue.  The entire massage should take from 6-12 minutes.

4: Build Compassion.  Read Compassion Is Learned to continue this series and learn practices to build compassion in your life.

Pink Thoughts

Throughout all of the media coverage on Breast Cancer Awareness, there is one aspect that gets little to no attention.  The chest lies squarely over the heart chakra, the center of emotion.  Can it be possible that emotional health can be tied to the physical health of this body area?

Let me set the stage with two concepts:  First, turn to the person next to you.  Ask them to close their eyes and then point at themselves.  More often than not, they will point at their chest.  That’s because this is our center of self identity and self esteem.

Second, I just want to bring up the phrase, “Bare your breast to the world.”  The old phrase shows that at some level we recognize the connection between this area of our body, vulnerability and strong emotion.  We recognize that there is internal drama in the act of exposing our ‘breast,’ of exposing our heart-felt opinions.

Experiment:  Take a moment to act out several emotions.  Actually create the emotion within yourself.  Witness what you have to do to create the following emotions within yourself:  anger, happiness, fear, sadness and resentment.  Pay particular attention to how you change the depth and rhythm of your breath.  Feel what tightens and where it tightens in the effort to create each different emotion.

How does this relate to breast cancer?  Failure to express your deep emotional self and failure to honestly process our emotion affects the fluid flow, nutrient exchange, and detoxification ability of the breast.  Clenching the muscles of the chest and ribs from intense emotion tightens the muscles affecting the lymph nodes and blood flow throughout the breast.  This tightness comes from current stress and unprocessed emotional drama.

Is it possible that years and years of reduced blood flow in the chest helps to build up a toxic or unhealthy cellular environment?  Is it possible that the energetic vibration from negative emotion such as resentment or negative self talk recurring over and over again makes us more susceptible to illness at the center of our self esteem?  My humble opinion is yes.  As a massage therapist working with thousands of people, this connection between the muscles of the ribs and chest, emotions and the breath has become easy to see in my clients.

Caution:  Cancer of any type is complicated; complicated to understand, to manifest and to cure.  Get a team of experts AND do everything you can on your own to stay healthy and hopefully avoid the significant disruption that cancer can cause in your life.

Next week we will cover natural ways to increase your awareness of the emotion/ breath connection.  We’ll also cover tips to help remove the physical tension at the heart.  Having more tools in your basket is always a good thing.

Compassion Is Learned

The heart is a unique vessel.  It can never be filled to overflowing; it expands to hold as much love as you can grow.  By consciously increasing the amount of compassion in your heart, negative emotions get crowded out.  Compassion can becomes such a strong force within you that you begin to react with compassion instead of with negative emotions such as anger, resentment and frustration.

So how do we go about it?  How do we quiet and slow those negative emotional reactions that spring out of us when the rubber meets the road?  The answer may just surprise you; for many it may even be unpalatable.  Basically, you need to learn to love yourself first before you can love others.  Once you can show yourself compassion, then you can forgive and love others much more easily.

Begin with these basic practices and see what happens.

1: Pay extra attention to your self-talk.  We participate in a horrible amount of demeaning and negative talk towards ourselves.  Every time you catch yourself engaging in any sort of negative self talk, even gentle put downs.   Immediately say two nice things about yourself.

This practice is simple.  It does, however take time to sink in, so have patience and keep it up.  Eventually the affirmations will overpower the negatives.

2: Pamper yourself a little.  Allowing yourself a few comforts is very affirming.  Many of us habitually deny ourselves even the simplest of pleasures.  We put everyone else ahead of ourselves as we serve our families, our bosses and our fears.  While you may not need a monthly pedicure, you are worth it.  And when it comes down to it, you do need to value, love and respect yourself.  Show that you do with action.  The actions will speak louder than any words.  That includes any negative talk lingering in your head.  Keep proving it with action and it will sink in.

Pampering yourself doesn’t need to be a huge or expensive thing.  While I firmly believe every mom should get a massage every month, the pampering can be shown in small and simple ways and be just as effective.

3: When someone annoys you, look at yourself first.  Look back to a time when you acted the same way.  Look back to a time when you showed the same behaviors.  We are all capable of being the bad guy.  By looking at ourselves we gain access to commonality.  We have this capacity to be the bad guy in common with that other person, thus we can relate. The more commonality we have with people, the easier it is to find compassion towards them.

Caution:  The level to which these practices strike you as unappealing and difficult is the same level to which you need them.

Remember:  Using compassion to help release drama at the heart center can only be a good thing.  If it helps reduce our susceptibility to breast cancer as well as filling our lives with more positive emotion, so be it.

A Silken Thread

There once was a maiden trapped in a tower.  There were no stairs, and there was no ladder.  To jump was certain death.  In short, the maiden was indeed trapped.  She had no recourse but to look out the single window day after day in misery.

A saint happened by one day and the maiden began calling for help.  The saint’s heart opened to her plight and he set out to help her from her confinement and miserable circumstance.  The maiden was overjoyed when the saint stopped from his journey and said simply, “I will help you.”

Watching from above, the maiden saw him searching through the bushes and rummaging around.  Could he help her?  Would he?

As the saint came up to the tower he held a caterpillar close, and appeared to be speaking to it.  With the caterpillars aid assured, he proceeded.  The saint grasped onto the thin thread of silk the caterpillar was spinning, the caterpillar began to climb.  For hours, the caterpillar climbed.  The thread of silk got longer.  The maiden got angrier!

What trick was this old fool playing?  Couldn’t he see she was truly trapped?  What good was a caterpillar, the devious old villain!

As the caterpillar approached the window the saint opened his traveling bag and pulled out a linen shirt.  Clipping the end, he pulled loose a thread, which he then gently tied to the thin piece of silk.  The saint called out. “Grab hold of the silken thread our friend has delivered to you.  Gently pull it up until you hold the linen thread.”

The maiden made a choice.  Mostly because she was so lonely and had nothing else to do, she humored the old fool.  Frustrated and annoyed, she began to pull.  She pulled and pulled until she held the linen thread in hand.  It blew in the wind, strung between the saint and the maiden like a thin piece of hope; easily dashed and severed.

The saint worked again.  He unwove a second shirt, this time tying three linen threads to the first.  His instructions were the same.  Again the maiden, angry and confused, humored the old fool.  She pulled the linen thread with diligence until she held the three threads in hand.

In just this way, the saint and the maiden worked throughout the night.  The thin piece of silk grew from three linen threads to a small braid.  Then, a thick braid was pulled to the top.  Afterwards it was a thin rope.  Each step along the way the thread became thicker and stronger.  It wasn’t until the next morning, after long hours or work, that the silken thread had grown into a rope strong enough to support the maiden.  In the fresh sunlight of dawn, she descended to freedom on the sturdy rope they had built from a caterpillar’s thin silken thread.

Remember:  There is much wisdom in creating smaller goals that run underneath and alongside our main goal.

Caution:  We have all turned our back on helping hands because our limited perspective doesn’t see the opportunity presented.  We all would pull on the thin rope to get the sturdy rope; it’s easy to see the result.   But, would you have pulled the caterpillar’s thread?

A Smokey Flame

The ancients considered undigested matter to be the basic material that, after it builds up in the body, disrupts normal processes and accelerates the disease process.  The ancients used fire as a metaphor to encapsulate lots of healthy eating wisdom.  As we move into the holiday season, try using the metaphor of fire to aid you in making food choices.  A few gentle adjustments to our eating habits over the next two months can lead to fewer bouts of indigestion.

To keep our fire healthy, we should eat in such a way that we burn (digest) all our food with as minimal ash (bathroom waste) left over as possible.  Then, we want to dispose of the ash as fast as possible so it doesn’t accelerate the disease process.  We do this by keeping our fire pit (stomach) clean, choosing cleaner wood (food) to burn, and tending to the flame (acids and enzymes) so that it stays at a consistent burn.  This last bit happens in the short term, meal per meal, and over the long term as we nurture digestive system function and vitality.

While the advice encapsulated in the metaphor of fire can fill a whole weekend seminar, here are two gems to think about that help us avoid creating a smokey digestive fire this holiday season.

1: The stomach is a single pot.  – Think of cooking rice.  What would happen if you added a second serving of rice to the pot about half way through cooking?  If you were to serve the rice when the first half finished cooking, you would have a whole bunch of crunchy rice ruining the meal.  If you were to keep cooking until everything finished cooking, half of the pot would be pure mush.  It means we should fully digest each meal before we eat again.

The stomach empties fully in four hours, so hold off on snacks for a while after your meals to decrease indigestion.

2:  Water puts out fire.  –  Water douses a flame, and the same is true for your digestive fire.  Stomach acids and digestive enzymes work better in stronger concentration and with elevated temperature.  By diluting your digestive chemicals you slow down the speed and effectiveness of your digestive fire.  The result is a poorer performing digestive process that results in increased indigestion.  Basically the advice is to drink fewer liquids with meals, and when possible switch the liquids you drink closest to meals from cold to hot beverages.

Remember:  Eating poorly over the holidays is a tradition!  Enjoy the special moments and times with loved ones fully.  Do what you can to keep your digestion happy and your heart.

Caution:  Feast day meals are not the real problem, no matter how bloated and rough you may feel from your indulgences.  The long term habits that dim our digestive flame are the ones that lead to the deepest problems down the road.

Washing Your Nose With Neti Pot

Over the last several years the neti pot has gotten a lot of media attention.  For three years I had the great pleasure of working with and living next door to the man who designed and developed the most popular neti pot on the market.  As such, I have a few insights on the matter. The neti pot saline rinse is classified as one of the primary Karma Kriyas, or cleansing actions, in India’s medical system.  Saline rinse has been a part of many cultures throughout history, but our current neti pot health trend stems from the growing popularity of yoga. For yogi’s, neti kriya is an important preparatory practice that leads to pranayama, or breath control practice.  While most of us won’t be doing pranayama, the health benefits that the
neti pot offers make it worth having.

There is one key word that you need to think about with neti pot: mucus.  Basically, by using the neti pot regularly, you support a healthy mucus layer in your nose.  This nose mucus is part of our immune system.  One of its functions is to capture and hold large debris and other icky things that enter our nose as we inhale.  This sticky fly-paper property keeps pathogens and debris from getting deeper into our sinuses and lungs.  Our body naturally restores and cleanses this mucus by pushing the old debris filled mucus down into our stomach to be burned. Problems arise when our nose mucus becomes dry and thick.  This causes the mucus to lose its stickiness, and thus decreases its effectiveness.  Once the mucus thickens and dries, our bodies have a harder time moving it down into our stomach, which leads to further build-up.  Consider any pathogens trapped in your mucus as time bombs.  Do you want them lingering? So how does the neti pot work?  The answer is very simple.  By running salt water over the mucus membranes, you keep them healthier and your mucus thinner.  Thin mucus flows more easily to the stomach.  The immune system components at the nose work at peak performance.  You stay healthier.  End of story. We buy a “neti pot” mostly so that we don’t make a HUGE mess while trying to get the salt water rinse up into our nose.  Trust me, it’s worth it.  Neti kriya practice is not for everyone.  However, it is a viable wellness option. Many people report that it increases their immunity and mental focus, minimizes sinus irritations, eliminates some of their headaches, and creates a deeper energetic balance throughout their whole being.

REMEMBER:  Several food categories cause the body to create excessive mucus.  Unfortunately dairy is one of the worst for this.  Mucus also dries out when we breathe lots of dry air.  Like, when our home heating systems are turned on all winter long.  Basically, we live in a climate and are part of a culture that makes us susceptible to those exact nose mucus problems that the neti pot helps regulate.

CAUTION:  Neti has very few side effects.  However, it can create too much dryness in the nose and sinuses from its frequent use.  If that happens, talk to an expert about nasya practice.  In my many years of using it, the most common issues people have with neti pot practice are simple mental obstacles and aversions.