Enjoy the season, with love ॐ शान्तिः
from yours truly
I recently returned from 2 weeks in Mexico, specifically Cancun. Most people, even the locals recommend that you should not drink the tap water there. However, showering, brushing your teeth, boiling or heating water enough for drinks such as coffee are fine. So, that is what I did. My hotel room however, did not have a coffee maker or a kettle. Instead I had to microwave my coffee water. I’m sure that was the cause of my gassy abdomen. Towards the last few days of my time in Mexico, I would awaken in the middle of night with slight cramping and loud uncomfortable gurgling. Fortunately, I’m educated enough to know what was going on. Gases such as CO2 and CH4, the biproducts of germs (bacteria/ microorganisms) were growing or colonizing inside my abdomen. I know that sounds scary, we’re conditioned to be scared of germs. The reality is that we as human beings are primarily made up of germs, bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc. The amount of foreign microorganisms outnumber our own cells by 10 to 1, it is said. Most of these germs are either beneficial and/or have no effect on our health status whatsoever. Sometimes we come into contact with a strain which will cause an unhealthy balance to our normal microbiome. And that is exactly and simply what happened with me.
When I travel I always take a few choice herbs. I bring along some essential oils which have antimicrobial properties. I also wanted oils which act as decongestants since the Corona scare is so prolific; I do not want to risk any excess build up of mucus being misconstrued as symptoms for this supposed pandemic. So I tucked away small vials of peppermint and eucalyptus…. and some chamomile for the sleep and nerves. Therapeutic grade essential oils, which I always use, can be administered internally by experienced and knowledgeable practitioners. Since I self administered, and just telling you my story, it goes to say, that you need to be responsible and informed for your own situation and usage.
The other herb I carry with me on overseas travel is a Chinese herb called Coptis chinensis (Chinese goldthread). This herb is effective for many GI problems as it contains the bitter alkaloid berberine. It’s so effective and extremely safe. So I took three tiny pills on my last two days and immediately felt about 50% less gassy.
when I returned, I was able to add another herb I had in my herbal pantry. That herb is Artemisia vulgaris, plain mugwort. Mugwort is also a very bitter herb useful for many GI conditions. There was a possibility that it was more than just bacteria festering inside my abdomen; it could have been parasites. Mugwort, like it’s cousin wormwood, another Artemisia is very effective as a vermicide (parasite killer). So, now about one and a half day later, I feel 100% back to normal!
I should mention that it’s not just about consuming medicine, I also made changes to my diet and was strategic in certain activities. Bacteria generally thrives when fed sugar, the more refined the faster they colonize. So, I was mindful to not feed these disruptive germs and avoided sugary foods and drinks as much as possible. Parasites on the other hand generally love protein, and so I also avoided excess protein just in case I had parasites. I also noticed that they were most active at night, and so I was deliberate with when I took my berberine pills and oils (on an empty stomach before bed and upon waking).
So you see, it’s very simple to coexist with germs. The bottom line is you must be intuitive with your body, know your herbs and respond normally! There is no need to panic or act drastically. Germs are normal and keeping the balance of our microbiome is a normal everyday, every second activity. It’s just sometimes we need intentional support.
Sadly we’ve lost much intuitive knowledge of nature and what it means to live natural and healthy. The more time we spend away from the source of life, which is nature, the more we loose touch with ourselves as we are also part of nature. We are made of the same essence which fuels the cycle of birth and death. And so we are meant to use the teachings as a guide to lead a healthy path.
So what does this mean in terms of how to stay healthy? It means that we must observe nature, observe the seasons and how our bodies respond to seasonal changes. If we look at our lives and ourselves as part of life, it is inevitable to think with the perspective of inclusion or connection, that we are an integral part of life. The danger is thinking we are the masters of life, that we have ultimate control. It’s dangerous because it separates us, leading us further away from what is real. We start living in the world of delusions. We start forming groups to support our position. We create wars and empires. We hoard wealth, harm others and pillage the land all because we are separate from that which is not us.
This post was meant to educate on certain foods and herbs to take to build the immune system with winter approaching. It’s normal that we adjust our diet, protect our tissues and organs, by wearing more clothes, eat certain foods etc. However, this post has become more philosophical in what it means to live as a spiritual, natural being in today’s world. I think it’s a very important subject as we have increasing, looming technologies and dogmas which encourage unhealthy foods, unhealthy activities, social distancing and self absorption. My next post will go into the specifics of foods and activities for naturally preparing for the season.
For now, we must remember that the foundation of knowing how to be healthy in today’s world is understanding that we are part of nature, made of the same essence. Nature tells us all the time what is the right course of action by showing us cause and effect, the cycles of life and what works and what doesn’t. As long as life exists, this knowledge will never die. We just need to pay attention.
Some people are naturally more vocal than others. My ex for example, was on the never-stop-talking extreme, while I may have appeared on the mute-and-wish-I-was-deaf extreme. Perhaps it was just the dysfunction of our relationship which triggered this dichotomy. Our personalities definitely had a part in shaping it and the personality also evolves because of it as well.
The voice is a powerful instrument of self expression. It is also the gateway of prana exchange between you and the world. I never realized this so fully until I was forced to recite mantras for hours and days on end during my yoga therapy training. I fought against sitting still in meditation and I fought the judgemental ideas I had towards chanting. I learned that Sanskrit is a language based on vibrational sounds, and that these sounds correlate to different energetic centers of our body (chakras). This may sound bizarre if you’ve never studied any Eastern philosophy and medicine and if you’ve never looked at life from an energetic perspective before. Through my studies of Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, this idea of vibration affecting and carrying prana struck a cord with me. I realized it as common sense and wondered why I never thought about it before.
Before in the dysfunctional relationship and growing up in a rather traditional Chinese family, my voice was not as important as my actions. It was not as important as others’. And so I talked less, and I expressed less, and I thought less of myself. The person with the voice gets the most attention. There is obvious danger here, but there is also potential in cultivating the power it can have.
Mantra therapy is reciting certain Sanskrit words/sounds with intention. When you can harmonize emotion with vibration and intention, you have a recipe for manifesting possibly anything. You gain self confidence through the simple act of taking up space in this vibrational time. You gain expression by hearing and moving the sounds within and throughout you and the space. It clears the mind of stagnant thoughts which may not benefit you. Instead fills the mind with vibrations and literally massages your brain and entire nervous system.
To start mantra therapy, sit upright with your spine erect. If you need to use a wall and chair go ahead and do so. Traditionally you would sit cross legged, chest open for unobstructed breathing, and in a quite room where you can feel comfortable and uninterrupted. You can use a mala (beaded necklace) with 108 beads for keeping track of your chants. Counting and moving your finger over each bead is good for the person who needs to keep busy and active. Take comfortable full breaths and start reciting whatever mantra you want. Sanskrit mantras come in short to long phrases, as well as just one syllable sounds. These one syllable sounds are called bijas. They may be the easiest way to start your mantra therapy program. The bijas which correspond to the chakras are:
Root-1st Chakra – LAM (Pronounced lum in lump )
Sacral-2nd Chakra – VAM (vum as in thumb)
Solar Plexus-3rd Chakra – RAM (rum)
Heart-4th Chakra – YAM (yum as in yummy)
Throat-5th Chakra – HAM (hum as in humming)
Third Eye-6th Chakra – U ( ooo this is the beginning of the Om sound)
Crown-7th Chakra – Om (this is where the aum disappears and is just silent vibration)
Practice reciting each bija in order for the cycle of your mala, 108 times and let me know how you feel.
Intermittent fasting is not just about losing weight. That is a nice side effect if you do need to lose weight, which is most of us in North America. However, intermittent fasting is great for many other important things to:
First of all, everything in nature has a cycle. Nature itself is a cycle, of creation, growth, resting, aging and dying. Without getting techie, just remember that during rest cells can regenerate and everything can find it’s balance. Many people report that blood sugar levels decrease and this helps to prevent insulin resistance. Blood pressure, inflammation and cholesterol have all been reported to be lowered. I believe also that while fasting, the nervous system can also rest. It does not have to process or react to chemicals, food sensitivities or intolerance, and so everything simplifies, calms down and balances out.
Autophagy is when a cell ‘eats itself up’. A certain amount of autophagy, especially certain cells we don’t need lingering around is, a natural and healthy process in cell development. Imagine it is a form of detox which also helps to strengthen your immune system. Cells which may undergo autophagy are varied depending on other factors such as exercise, nutrition, drugs, etc. The key is that when you stimulate autophagy, you need to create an environment for healthy cells to take the place of the dead ones. This is a complex issue, but generally understand that every cell in your body, healthy or not, has a life cycle and when it is not in the stage of being productive and efficient, it must come to end. With death, comes regeneration of new healthy cells.
Fasting for a minimum of half the day can be therapeutic because you are exercising strength and will power. Honestly once you fast regularly, it is very easy to not eat for this duration and will power is not an issue. But if you are craving all the time or worse, just eating without being hungry, chances are you are emotionally attached to food, or using food to distract yourself from boredom, or whatever other emotion you are uncomfortable with. Fasting can help you to become more mindful of your situation and when you do eat, it is that much more enjoyable.
And lastly, with a shorter window to eat food, you may be eating less food, hopefully. Eating less calories is said to extend your life. We really don’t need to be eating all the time and so much food. So once you feel 80% full, stop eating. This reduction of food will put more money into your pocket book and put less burden on the planet. You could then use that extra money towards higher quality foods: nutritious nutrient dense foods such as fresh organic fruits, vegetables, seeds and grains.
To start intermittent fasting, I recommend you go for 12-14 hours each day. I find most women find this method easiest. Regular fasting is easier to make a lifestyle routine when it’s daily also. You can increase to 16-18 when you feel like it, and you can always go back to 12 or 14 as well. I found that some months during my menstrual cycle, 16 hours of fasting was too much and I needed to go back to 12. This is alright. It’s important to listen to your body, be gentle and intuitive with what you need (not crave). So say you eat your last meal at 6pm, start your fast at 7 and then eat your next meal at 9am. That would be 14 hours of fasting. I have some clients who I’ve suggested this to, and they reported that their blood sugar is more stable and lower. If you do take insulin or other Rx drugs, make sure you talk with your doctor so that adjustments and changes can be made accordingly. Let me know how it goes.