Turn off and Tune In

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    is it me or what?  The times they be a changing.  In the last month we all have been over exposed to death, sadness, unrest and at times anarchy, via the internet, FB and various media oulets.  It is time to turn off and tune in!  Turn off the television set, go off-line, get away from the mindless chatter that keeps us away from being centred and positive.
All of this negativity is not good for one’s soul and as much as we want to watch this and stay current our bodies and minds need rest, rejuvenation and self- care.

The atrocities of the world will always be there the next day and the day after, we will not miss much.  Let’s get off the train of doom and into the light of some positive activities, maybe get up and move, do some stretching, read an uplifting book, walk the dog, take a nap, whatever your body and mind are desiring from us.  Hug someone you love, play in the snow, go to a yoga class, paint, write, sing, take a mental health day, sculpt, plan a day with family and friends but do something that takes you away from all the pain in the world.

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Spiritual Awakenings/ Enlightenments

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By request from my dear friend Elaine R.

 

From  Alchemy of the Goddess by Jeanette Amlie

Signs of Spiritual Awakening?

Midlife Crisis or Transformation? It is also amazing how many of the people I work with are women in their middle years. So often the instability of hormonal imbalance is a direct catalyst for the “pressure cooker” of repressed energy to begin to crack the vessel. Although this can certainly be a painful & scary time, that view can be transformed when one begins to see that there is meaning & potential benefit in the experience.
The list below is by no means comprehensive or definitive. Yet the reports of people who have been through this kind of experience share so many of these “symptoms” that it is difficult not to take notice.

  • Feeling as if you are in a pressure cooker or in intense energy.
  • Depression – or feeling like things are never going to get better.
  • Anxiety, panic and feelings of hysteria – often related to the ego sensing it’s imminent demise.
  • Diarrhea, constipation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome – The digestive system is directly linked to the autonomic nervous system and responds to fight, flight and freeze responses.
  • Heart pain and palpitations – the heart is literally “opening” through calcified layers of conditioning and repression. But get it checked if symptoms resemble a heart attack. Most often they will say you have a healthy heart, but it’s good to be reassured & take no chances!
  • Emotional ups and downs, weeping and sensitivity – emotions are the key to the heart which often expands significantly during conscious awakening.
  • Heightened sensitivity to surroundings including noise, electricity, food and other stimulus.
  • Hot or cold flashes – many symptoms can mock menopause.
  • Unusual aches and pains throughout different parts of your body.
  • Energy & sensations in lower back, sacrum & spine. Sexual energy & spiritual awakening often intermingle as the Kundalini energy may begin to move up the spine from the base of the nervous system in the perineum.
  • Migraines can sometimes be linked to old held trauma patterns as well as shifting or conflicting beliefs.
  • Temporary recurrence of old conditions from earlier in life as the body works to clear them.
  • Skin eruptions, acne, rashes, hives & boils – the skin is a major organ for eliminating toxins.
  • Blurred vision and eye irritation – related to “3rd Eye” 6th Chakra activity as well as the fire of kundalini.
  • Waking at night between 2 and 4 am – various theories for this common symptom, including our unconscious connection with greater knowing during these nocturnal hours than our conscious state often allows.
  • Night sweats and hot flashes – body literally burning off denser energies and toxins.
  • Extreme cold with inability to get warm – Often can follow a time of intense shifting & be a sign of possible dissociation when we are confronting old trauma patterns in order to release them.
  • Struggle to follow usual routines and activities – old coping skills & discipline not working.
  • Extreme fatigue and lethargy – possibly related to the body re-creating itself through tissue die-off and regeneration. Parasympathetic dominant activity of “rest and repair”.

 

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Upon reading this piece by Jeanette Amlie, I realized that some of these signs she refers to as a spiritual awakening can be also deemed as characteristics of Fibromyalgia.  One cannot limit what is referred to as a spiritual awakening as strictly menopausal in nature as there are just as many men that are attaining a level of spiritual awakening in the world as I type this.

  In my own personal experience I would describe ” a spiritual awakening” as a deeper awareness of myself and the world.  A time in which one sees things with more clarity and with a sense of inner peace.  One does not need to be experiencing menopausal type symptoms to be in this state.  I attribute much of my spiritual awakening to reaching a certain stage in my life in which I am seeking more personal fulfillment.  I am not one to find material possessions fulfilling nor do I seek affirmation from the outside world.  I am exploring more of myself regarding wants and needs.  Most of us will go through this stage at some point.  I prefer the term enlightenment as I have experienced many of those and enlightenment is an on-going process it does not manifest itself completely overnight.

 

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Some of the symptoms that Jeanette details I have questioned at times.  The waking at 2 am, the weeping ( which may be grief or loss of dreams, & failed expectations), the heightened sensitivity to surroundings including noise, and other stimuli along with feeling extremely cold and being unable to get warm.

Enlightenment can be more then what Amlie describes, an awareness of a situation, letting go of something that is no longer beneficial to our well – being, perhaps a trauma or bad memory.  It might be choosing to live in peace and walking away from adversity, choosing your battles more wisely.  Whatever you see it as being as it is a truly personal experience.

I challenge you the reader, to share your experiences with us so we can all attain a greater understanding of this period of change.

  

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PHOTOS: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Blessings

The Strait of Georgia encompassed me as I stood at the top of the freshly rain laden mound.  I took in a long breath in awe of it’s enormity.   As I walked further down, the water became closer and more expansive.    I felt like a mere speck in the universe only having experienced this once before in Oahu as night fell and the sun set for the day.  In Hawaii when the water embraced the sun, when the union of the world below merged with the world above my heart skipped a beat and with it my feet tingled.  It was in that moment I knew there was something larger than me at the end of this game, we call life.  There is a power greater than myself that has given me so many blessings.  How selfish humans are in so many ways, we do not appreciate nature as much as we should. There is an innocence and peacefulness in these waves I view in the distance, that beckons me to continue walking.  My mind and body are calm and at ease.  The wind gently pulls at my hair that was in a ponytail, now flowing freely around my face.  I hear the comforting sound of birds and see several boats sailing in the deep jade coloured waters as the night began closing in.  The mist below my feet starts to rise and with it my visibility becomes reduced..  One can describe a certain balance that I sense is entering my consciousness or is it just what one’s natural state is meant to be?  Are we so convoluted with technology and worries that we fail to arrive home very often?  To me, this was worth a lifetime and yet seems a lifetime ago.

Alternatives to Pharmaceutical Drugs for Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder

I find myself cringing at the thought of another winter approaching.  The darker days, less sunlight, cold temperatures, ice,putting on the parka and boots, does not make me feel overjoyed with the idea of winter.  Many of us are affected by the lack of sunlight and with the time change approaching quickly, one will be getting up in the dark and ariving home in the dark.  For many years melatonin appeared to be the one option that seemed to alleviate the problems associated with SAD.

For those of you not familar with what SAD ( Seasonal Affective Disorder) it is describes as such:

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is an extreme form of common seasonal mood cycles, in which depression develops during the winter months.

How seasonal changes cause depression is unknown, but most of the research into mechanisms and treatment has focused on changes in levels of the brain chemicals melatonin and serotonin in response to changing exposure to light and darkness.

SAD is characterized by typical symptoms of depression, such as sadness, hopelessness, and thoughts of suicide (in some cases), and �atypical� depressive symptoms such as excessive sleep, lethargy, carbohydrate cravings, overeating, and weight gain. The symptoms usually occur the same time of year, typically fall and winter, and disappear with the onset of spring and summer. (1)

There are several treatment options available other than pharmaceutical drugs.

Light Therapy

Light boxes used to treat SAD produce artificial  daylight. They filter out ultra-violent (UV) rays, which can be harmful to your  eyes and skin. Light intensity may vary, which affects the amount of time you  need to be exposed to it. In other words, it will take a longer time for a light  box with low intensity to produce any effects. Light boxes can help increase  your mood and regulate your sleeping, which is often disrupted during periods of  depression.  According to the Mayo Clinic, you need to be within 2 feet of the  light box with your eyes open for a minimum of 30 minutes for it to have any  impact on your depression. (2)

I have found light therapy to be advantageous on days that are overcast and cloudy limiting sun exposure.  It is easy to site in front of a lamp for 30 minutes per day while you read, write, watch television, blog or peruse the internet.

Aromatherapy

Essential oils are extracted from plants and have strong  aromas. Due to their potency, they are often not suitable for use directly on  your skin. However, their fragrant scents can be inhaled. Candles, sprays, reed  diffusers and oil warmers can all emit the aromas. Smelling jasmine, lavender,  rose and sandalwood can be therapeutic if you have mild depression, according to  Holistic Online, because these scents have soothing qualities. Bergamot,  lemongrass and rosemary also can be beneficial.(2)

Photo Credit she smells the jasmine flowers image by Alexandra Gnatush-Kostenko  from  Fotolia.com

Yoga

I seem to be writing a great deal about yoga and I can say that it has helped me a great deal all year round.  If you suffer from stiffness in your body or suffer with arthritic conditions this is the type of activity for you.  With the differentt styles of yoga available there is one for every person.  Restorative yoga is one that I find beneficial in my daily life.  It also appears that yoga slows down the aging process and I have met people in their 80’s and older that would put me to shame.

Yoga is a relaxation technique for your body and mind.  It consists of controlled breathing, posing and meditation. According to the  National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, yoga may help with  depression by improving your mood and well-being by fighting off stress and  helping your muscles to relax. In the September 2010 issue of “The Journal of  Family Practice,” researchers state that the meditative aspect of yoga as well  as the physical component reduces self-reported symptoms of patients with  depression as effectively as anti-depressants or cognitive behavioral therapy  and more effectively than light therapy. (3)

Coffee is not often considered herbal in nature, but in fact, it is. The  caffeine contained in coffee is a stimulant and has a mild antidepressant  effect. It can cause agitation and insomnia in large doses.

Kava kava, an herb used ceremonially in the South Pacific, contains  kavalactones which provide sedative and anti-stress properties. It has been  shown to have anti-anxiety potential, but it should be used with caution due to  possible liver toxicity.

Add Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Your Diet

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center in the article Omega-3 Fatty Acids, people who do not eat enough omega-3 fatty acids on a regular basis are at more risk of suffering from depression than those who do eat enough. Omega-3 fatty acids are important components of nerve cell membranes and help nerve cells communicate with each other. Without proper communication between the nerve cells, mental health can suffer. You can add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet by eating cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, herring or mackerel. Canola oil, flaxseed oil, flaxseeds and walnuts are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Supplements are also available if you cannot get enough omega-3 fatty acids through the foods you eat. (4)

Herbal and Nutritional Supplements for SAD

Some herbal and nutritional supplements can help to alleviate the symptoms of SAD. The herbal supplement St. John’s wort can be effective in treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Another supplement, SAMe, can be effective in increasing serotonin and dopamine in the brain which affects mood. Melatonin, a natural hormone, also works well to regulate mood. Talk with your doctor before taking herbal or nutritional supplements especially if you are taking any prescription medications.(4)

Never underestimate the power of exercise in the treatment of SAD.  Even a brisk walk, dancing or doing some stretching exercises can be effective by releasing endorphins in your body that create a “natural high”.

Lotus Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Even if the sun is not shining perhaps one or more of these suggested therapies will find you smiling 🙂

References:

(1).  http://www.evitamins.com/encyclopedia/assets/health-condition/seasonal-affective-disorder/vitamins-and-supplements

(2). Holistic Online: Depression – Aromatherapy

(3). National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: The  Status of Yoga Research
(4).http://herbs-that-heal.net/tag/seasonal-affective-disorder/

Jamaican Lifestyle Part 1

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We have much to learn from the Jamaican people, a simple people that are gracious and driven by love.  Bob Marley’s “One Love” is still alive and kicking today, in fact the Jamaican people believe we are all part woman and man and that is a complete love.

Many of the luxuries we take for granted such as cars, cell phones, the internet, etc. are not commonly used by many people in Jamaica.  We asked outr raft captain as we sailed down the beautiful Martha Brae River about putting a video of him on youtube.  He claimed that he lived in a village that had no internet so he would not be able to see it.  This did not phase him at all as a loss but merely an inconvenience.  J.K. also told us he was dependant on others for rides to work, often standing at the roadside in the hope…

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Lessons Learned

ImageWhen I am passionate about something, such as my business and my writing I have incredible amounts of energy. Yet, I fail to find the same level of energy when I look at my pile of laundry. We are only here for a short time and what really matters at this stage of my life is often the question? I have had to lower the bar on my expectations of myself. I have had to re-evaluate my life and make peace with this condition. I wish I could report this was an easy task but it has not been. The harsh reality that I am not invincible has come as a crushing blow, but are any of us?  Invincible, that is? I am not Superwoman, nor is anyone I know of, although a few come pretty close, these are the lessons I learned over the summer.

   Life is not a competition although it may appear to be, it is not if you choose to see it as such. The sooner I let this ideology go, the better I felt. Type A meet type B. All I have is today and beyond that
is something I will address the next day. Living at a more relaxed pace has become paramount to accomplishing anything. I did not get everything done in one day before, I won’t now either. I walk, pray, meditate, write, listen to music, all to maintain an inner peace and calm. I sit and listen to my inner voice. If it feels good I proceed forward and if not, I walk away.
  Let people be responsible for their own lives. This includes loved ones, friends, etc. By constantly doing for others they are not learning how to do for themselves which robs them of skills and lessons they need to learn to be more independent. Independence and achievement bring self confidence, it is not for me to take that away.
Remain a humanitarian as I sense that is my path in life.
  I am not alone in my life. My thinking went something like this: “ I will do it myself, “ I can’t wait for them!”. In retrospect, I never let anyone do anything for me, and as such I did do it all. Now, I ask can you help me with this or that? To suddenly ask for help came as an incredible shock to many people. I started reaching out because I could no longer do some things by myself.
Now this took incredible courage on my behalf but it was necessary. The best thing I did was talk to people about this condition & almost immediately I felt empowered.
      Look at doing something different for a career. What I was doing for work in the helping professions was working with people that were deaf, the mentally ill, the physically challenged, the drug or alcohol addicted, the learning disabled, etc. I was at the far end of the spectrum when it came to helping people. I am now concentrating my energies in the area of prevention of mental illnesses, drug or alcohol abuse,etc.by pursuing an education and a career in the herbalist/wholistic therapy profession.
    Live in abundance. Surround yourself with people that are passionate about life. People that are living their dreams. Take the higher road. Live in love and in light, there is enough darkness. Live with pride and honour.
Hug people more!
    Stop the madness!!! After three months of specialists and appointments I had, had enough. I went on holidays and took a much needed break from what had become an on going saga of diagnosis’s ( all related to the Fibromyalgia) and unfilled prescriptions. In my experience I found all of this to be extremely negative and dreaded leaving the house, no this was not living. I knew that the power of positive thinking and naturopathy would be far more advantageous to me than wondering which of the many medications I was prescribed was giving me which side effect or was that part of my Fibromyalgia. I am by no means suggesting people do not listen to your doctor or the specialists, I made the choice that was right for me and me alone. As I had a degree in psychology I knew that the power of one’s mind and allowing the patient to be an active participant in their own treatment has been statistically proven to heal people faster than any medication will.
Above all, I learned to love me as I am. That was the best gift of all.

Musings from our Elk Island Camping Trip – July 6th – 8th 2012

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Poem:

Oh fire it does intoxicate

while water does cleanse and purify

the sunset takes longer than in my travels to other lands

The sky becomes a darkened hue

amongst the stars I think of you

The trees surround me, hug me, close into the night

The night is full of cries from loons, rustling leaves and a crescent moon

And this is where I own this night

I write by the fire and one glow light

The lantern remains on the picnic table

I will write until sleep makes me unable.

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I have wandered through the woods in many places, water and trees provide the solace I seek.  I have been to the Redwood Forest and saw some of the oldest trees in the world.  On Vancouver Island near the Strait of Georgia, the deep woods of Saskatchewan and up north in Peace River Country. In Hawaii and Jamaica I walked by the trees near the water and felt a deep spiritual connection to nature.

Trees are desirable as they provide shade and shelter or the perfect hiding spot when one desires to be alone.  The trees at my childhood home surrounded me in my treehouse and it was there that I became interested in plants and herbs.   Trees are made to last, they outlive us humans which means they are always there when you need them.

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Searching for  kindling earlier on that Saturday night, I remembered so many happy memories of collecting wood with my Grandmother when I was young.  Her chopping wood to make a fire, her particular style of selecting the right pieces to start the fire with.  Things were simpler then, times were different.  You walked over to your neighbour’s farm and had coffee with them.  A home was heated with wood in your fireplace.  You made your own clothes, you had fresh milk, cream and eggs every morning.  Community meant good people nearby with morals, ethics and common sense, people eager to lend a hand.  Where are we now?  Well, at least I have my memories and my trees.