Recently, my husband Andy and I were jolted out of deep sleep at 5 am by a huge CRASH. We jumped out of bed to investigate (with me grabbing slippers and a flashlight). I assumed a bear had climbed onto the front porch table to get at the bird suet (not the first time).
As the only humans living on a two-thousand-acre estate, we are surrounded by wildlife and are accustomed to myriad nature sounds. Many nights we listen to the primal howls of coyotes, which I love. (Sometimes I even howl along with them!) We know our seasonal birds by their calls and occasionally hear an owl in the night whoo-whoo-whooing.
As an auditory person and lifelong environmentalist, this is heaven for me. It was just a short time ago I needed a sound machine (of nature!) to help me sleep in New York City, with all of its jarring, man-made sounds. (I swear the garbage trucks have amplifier speakers.)
It’s no wonder the number-one complaint of city dwellers is noise. Chronic, debilitating noise is more than just an annoyance — it plays a huge factor in our quality of life. Studies confirm that noise and stress are closely related to our health, and I am always surprised that more people don’t plug their ears (like I do) when a subway car rambles by.
What we hear transforms our brains and our lives. That’s why it’s critical to take control over your ‘personal soundscape.’ Customize your home environment as you would a beautiful soundtrack to create a haven of soothing sounds (and sights and smells). Here are a few tips to do that:
A guest post from Lisa Sunshine of Urban Zen
Anyone who practices yoga regularly knows that it can be a healing experience, both mentally and physically. In addition to the health benefits to be gained from a regular yoga practice, yoga therapists teach their patients specific ways to use yoga to combat everything from depression to back problems to side effects from cancer treatments.
Recognizing the importance of yoga and other Eastern healing techniques such as Reiki, essential oil therapy, nutrition and contemplative care, Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program (UZIT) in New York trains its students to combine these therapies with traditional Western medicine to create a holistic approach to patient care. During the program, each technique is taught separately, then instruction is given on how to interweave them to create a truly integrative healing session. Graduates of the UZIT program leave with experience working bedside with patients and their loved ones and caregivers in hospitals, as well in yoga studios, private practice, outpatient clinics, cancer support groups and a variety of other settings.
Our bodies are made of it (up to 70 percent) and we can’t survive without it for more than a few days. However, water, one of our most precious resources, is something most of us take for granted.
I count myself lucky on the “water front.” As a New Yorker, I was thrilled to learn that my city’s water supply is considered one of the best and that NYC is one of the five large cities not required to filter its drinking water. That’s pretty radical considering most of the world’s pure water supply is scarce.
When I lived in Brooklyn, N.Y., the borough’s rotund mayor, Marty Markowitz, launched a program called “Lighten Up,” which aimed to encourage residents to lose weight with him. There were weigh-in stations across the borough for weekly check-ins, and the neighborhood that collectively lost the most weight would appear on the Today Show. Since then, Lighten Up Brooklyn has turned into an annual program, made all the more important to its mayor, who had to undergo a stent procedure a couple of years ago because of heart problems.