I’m just going to say it … I think the holiday season needs a radical overhaul.
We see ads for the perfect holiday meals, served in a lovely setting where everyone is smiling, especially the gracious host. Truth is, in order to achieve this type of perfection, we nearly kill ourselves with stress trying to get that end result.
I’m sure your mind, like mine, is kicked into high gear this time of year to attend to the million things you have to accomplish between now and January first, but time is limited and your body begins to suffer. It will only be a short time before insomnia and exhaustion set in. Instead of enjoying our time with loved ones, we can wind up emotionally unavailable and stressed out.
One of the main goals of a regular yoga practice is to be able to reach Samadhi, a state of deep concentration and meditation resulting in union with a greater reality … a greater universal consciousness. When we are in Savasana, we are working toward this state, feeling the benefits of our asana practice, resting our bodies in order to open up to our breath and release all of the tension and thoughts running through our minds — coming to a place of blissful nothingness.
Did you know that the brain has the same chemical reaction to sugary and fatty foods as it does to cocaine or nicotine? According to Dr. Pam Peeke, author of The Hunger Fix, the chemical reaction happens before you even eat the food — all you have to do is think about it!
Dr. Peeke recently appeared on GaiamTV.com’s Gaiam Inspirations to talk about America’s food addiction and how to retrain your brain to make healthier choices. Dr. Peeke’s interest in the topic of food addiction started because of the way her patients talked about food. “I can’t get off this stuff.” “The withdrawal is killing me.” They sounded like drug addicts, and she started to wonder if there was a connection between food and addiction.
She found that there’s a very striking connection — and the same centers of the brain are involved that regulate drug addiction. And, she says, don’t think for a second the food industry hasn’t figured this out.
It all starts with a simple discussion. The next thing you know, you’re off to the Amazon rainforest in South America, drinking tea made from a psychoactive plant and taking part in an ancient ceremony intended to heal and open the realms of consciousness.
That’s what happened to filmmaker Michael Wiese as he was searching for a cure after being confronted with a serious disease. Michael realized the universe was co-conspiring to aid in his mission, and soon he, his wife and his translator were off, embarking on a mysterious and deeply personal adventure.
The Shaman and Ayahuasca on GaiamTV.com follows these three on a thought-provoking journey, providing unique personal perspectives, majestic and stunning visuals of Peruvian surroundings, and wisdom from a famed shaman. It also piques the viewer’s curiosity: What does this psychoactive elixir taste like? How does it feel to be whisked away to other realms and connected to the cosmos? How does it feel to return to reality? Here are a few of the most intriguing and eye-opening moments from this fascinating documentary:
I, like so many, thought meditation was something only others could do. Others, for example, without quarreling children, looming deadlines or hips that mutinied at the thought of the Lotus Position. Those with minds that didn’t race like a toddler on Red Bull.
Although I wanted to be someone who meditated, I wasn’t someone who meditated.
Someday, I would tell myself, imagining that glorious future when my children, work schedule, muscles, joints and mind would finally and fully cooperate.
But while I was waiting, the research piled up. About how meditation improves memory. Boosts the immune system. Lowers our resting heart rate. Makes us calmer. Happier. Healthier.
In theory, evening is a glorious time of day — a time to eat and spend time with loved ones and then unwind before bed. In reality, though, it’s often a stress fest – feed the kids, put the kids to bed, answer some emails, fall into bed. Or simply lost time – eat whatever, channel surf, cruise the Internet, then look up and wonder how it got to be 11:30 already.
Luckily, it doesn’t take much to transform your evening hours into the respite they ought to be. Here are four of my favorite tips for a peaceful evening. I’d love to hear yours!
Take a “stress break” with yoga and dance teacher Hemalayaa. She believes that a better quality of breath will translate into a better quality of life. Participate in a short breathing exercise of bringing your awareness to a deeper breath, and see how this can give you a deeper appreciation for being alive. This is a tool you can take with you and integrate into your daily life for rich relationships and a peaceful sense of self.
At first glance, crafting and exercise would seem to have little in common. One involves moving your body to improve health and fitness, the other moving your hands to create with paper, needles, paint or yarn.
Yet both activities have important, complementary effects on mood and cognitive function.
I have thought a lot about the way in which I want to end this year. Especially since the new energy of 2012 is fast approaching. As I contemplated my plan, what came to me was “cleansing and clearing.” Often I take time in the spring to clean and clear out closets to create space, but this felt different. What came to me was that I was to clear and clean myself from the inside out. I decided to do an 11-day cleanse and allow my body to release old toxins. That decision created a powerful domino effect that I want to share with you.
On Oprah Winfrey’s last show she spoke about the many lessons that she has learned over the past 25 years. One thing she said really stuck in my mind. She said, “You are responsible for your life.” Now, I know that we all know that on some level, but do we really understand what that means?
I have practiced what I call “The Responsibility Factor” for many years, and I want to share with you my process. The moment anything happens in my life that is significant, good or challenging, I pause and ask, “What did I do to create this opportunity to grow”? Usually, when I ask that question, the answer comes quickly and easily. When it doesn’t, I sit down and “stream of consciousness” journal. I put down my fears, doubts, concerns, excitement and enthusiasm. What comes out always makes my heart smile, even if I see that I am on the “pity pot.”