Category Archives: Meditation

10 Top Tips To Survive The Holiday Season and Start the New Year Powered-Up

December, the end of the year – a time of good will and the ‘Season of Stress’. At this time of the year we are all weighed down with stress – at work, at school, shopping for the Holidays, coping with crowds everywhere we go, financial worries. For almost everyone, everyday stress levels in their everyday life are ramped up right now.survive christmas

And then there are the parties! With so much going on it’s almost impossible to reach the New Year without crashing in a heap.

There is no point waiting until after the damage is done and the celebrations have finished to try to pick up the pieces. The key is to get on top of the extra stress right now.

Of course, that brings us right back to one of the big the stress triggers – you have no time right now to add anything extra into your busy life.

Fast Simple Strategies To Regain Calm Control

While the stress hormones, adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, were essential to life in the wild, our bodies have not caught up with our lifestyle. Too much of the hormones designed to save our life in cave-man days surging through our body can have dire consequences on our health now. The constant level of stress we live with keeps them permanently switched on, constantly increasing our stress.

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There are many quick and easy ways you can defuse stress in just two to five
minutes. It is simply a case of learning them and then remembering to use them.

Here are ten health hacks that take less than five minutes to get your stress levels down and have you on track to hit the New Year running. Try them all out or just one, but do yourself a favour this holiday season and practice a little self-care.

#1 Sweetly Scent-sual

Far more than just being pleasant aromas, the fragrance of flowers contains volatilelavender-76476_640 plant compounds that can reduce stress as powerfully as certain drugs. Keeping fresh flowers or a plant in your workspace will help, but to get a powerful effect opt for aromatherapy essential oils. Coming in little bottles they can be carried in your bag and quickly sniffed whenever you feel stress levels rising. Lavender is one of the best, and frankincense often the first choice to reduce stress. Rosemary is my favourite to increase clarity and focus, and peppermint is another good choice.

Simply take a long, deep breath from your bottle, or dab on your temples whenever you need it.

Or if you find your stress levels rising when you are out shopping duck into the closest florist and take some good deep calming breaths.

Flower Power can also be accessed through flower essences. These come in small bottles to carry with you, and you simply drop a few drops on your tongue whenever your stress, anxiety or worry levels start to rise.

While many find Bach Rescue Remedy helpful, The Australian Bush Flower combination essence ‘Calm & Clear’ is fantastic for helping you keep your cool. Buy it from you Natural Health practitioner or local health food shop.

#2 Tame Those Racing Thoughts

Sometimes when you are under stress and your mind is always busy, thoughts can go a bit wild, running round and round your head, building up your anxiety and increasing your stress.

When you find this happening simply begin to focus on an object – it can be any object, even just a pen, although I prefer something that is more engaging. You need to really focus on it, concentrate so other thoughts don’t creep in.

Once you are focused start to breathe deeply and slowly, right down deep into your abdomen. If you are not sure about doing this try it out a few times when you are calm to get the hang of the process which you can learn on Mastering The Breath Of Life.

Keep the breathing going for three minutes while you maintain your focus. This is an excellent way to calm your mind and relax you.

#3 Breathe…

image credit: Shawn Rossi
image credit: Shawn Rossi

You don’t necessarily need to focus and breathe when you feel stressed.

Deep diaphragmatic breathing alone soothes your nervous system and increases your alertness. Once you have mastered this technique it is easy to simply stop and do it. Even just breathing for two minutes can settle you down considerably.

Breathe down into your belly, through your nose, hold for a couple of seconds, then release slowly through your mouth.

#4 Tea Time

How often do you hear someone say in TV shows ‘let’s have a nice cuppa tea’ after some big drama is sorted? Full of antioxidants tea is the perfect way to calm down, especially if you stop rushing around and sit quietly to enjoy it.

Black, green and white tea, all have some calming effect. But if you want the big guns of relaxing teas you can’t go past some of the herbals.

Chamomile is the simplest and is readily available, even in most cafes, so is a good one to fall back on. It is far more effective when it’s brewed up with lavender though and works well in many blends.Tulsi Tea

Ashwaganda has been used in Ayervedic medicine for thousands of years to treat even severe stress. A great choice while you’re working as it calms your nervous system without sending you off to sleep. As a bonus it induces a sense of wellbeing and clears your mind.

Lemon balm, passionflower, skullcap, valerian, lime blossom and oats are just some of the others that calm and relax.

There are so many herbs already combined into excellent relaxing blends now available that all you need to do is select the combination that you like the most. Try out a few different blends until you discover your favourite.

#5 Talk With A Friend

Whether you vent, speed-talk, shed a few tears, or simply sigh, talking to a good friend who is ready to just listen, can make a huge difference to your stress levels. Research has shown that as well as getting stuff off your chest talking to a friend actually reduces your stress hormones as well as your blood pressure.

#6 Smile

Frowning or grimacing, clenching your jaw, or wrinkling your forehead all suppress your immune system and trigger the release of more stress hormones.fruit smile free use

Simple smiling boosts your levels of the neurotransmittors serotonin from your thyroid and endorphins from your pituitary gland. These are the ones the one that produce good moods and make you happy. As smiling increases your endorphins it also lowers your levels of cortisol.

The more you stimulate your brain to release these mood boosters by just smiling the more relaxed you feel.

But here’s the amazing thing. You don’t have to feel happy. It’s the simple act of moving the muscles in your face that triggers the action. Putting on a happy face starts the process.

#7 Visualize – Let Out Your Imagination

Your mind is a powerful tool and the gateway to escaping your stress. Remember how good you feel when you are think of your favourite holiday spot? Or perhaps recalling time spent with close family or friends?

Closing your eyes and taking your thoughts inside your minds-eye to your favourite perfect, beautiful scene or happy experience allows you to return to those times when you felt secure, happy and relaxed.

Simply closing your eyes gives you the space to spend a few moments to ground and reduce the stress hormones surging through your body.

#8 Yuuummm…

Now here’s one many of you will love. Small amounts of dark chocolate really do make you feel better and reduce your stress. Eating dark chocolate increases serotonin and endorphin levels in your brain – the mood enhancers. Plus it lowers your levels of that difficult stress hormone, cortisol.

Just 40 grams of dark chocolate a day for a couple of weeks does the job. And the darker the chocolate, the better. It must be at least 70% cocoa. Sweet, milk chocolate varieties don’t offer the benefits, and don’t even consider white chocolate. But be sure to practice moderation, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

#9 Meditate

Not only does meditating calm you in the moment, establishing regular meditation practice changes the way your brain responds to stress.

The image many have of meditation practice is of sitting still for hours with a completely empty mind. But there are many forms of meditation, some still – some active, and some taking just a few minutes.

Have you ever found yourself gazing at something, perhaps a magnificent scene, completely caught up in what you are looking at, your mind a blank? You are in a state of meditation. Anything that totally pulls your focus and allows you to switch off distractions is a meditation.

Sometimes it can happen simply by watching something absorbing, at other times it helps to repeat a simple word or phrase in time with your breath. Words such as relax, I am calm, peace or serenity are all suitable choices. Find one that has the most meaning for you.

Concentrating on your breath is one way to focus and meditate. Zen masters may do this for hours on end but even doing it for just a few minutes has a powerful effect on your whole body – your brain, your nervous system, your emotions, your muscles.
You can even meditate by concentrating on your breathing as you take slow measured steps in time with each breath. LINK??

#10 Meridian Magic

This is a different take on how to relax and calm yourself.

This twenty second exercise is an ancient healing practice that rebalances the energy pathway in the body that affects stress. Realigning this meridian supports your immune system and improves your ability to manage stress and release tension, anxiety and fear.

So simple, quick and effective, you can do it anywhere, and it only takes seconds.
This year, set yourself up to hit the New Year running.

We can’t totally eliminate stress from our life in these times, it surrounds us day and night. But taking simple steps to prevent the effects of that stress building and building in your body until it reaches a level where you crash, just makes plain good sense.

Perhaps even more importantly it gives you back control of your life.

SURVIVE CHRISTMAS 2

Disclaimer

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.
Source articles
http://curezone.com/forums/am.asp?i=1457988
http://livingbodywellness.com/de-stress-5-minutes-less/
http://www.annehartley.com.au

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14 Awesome Books That Will Change Your Life

Christmas and the summer holidays are the perfect time to dive into some great reads. And as most of us want the New Year to be a fresh start with new plans and goals, it makes sense to read at least one life-affirming, soul-sustaining book to support you on your life journey and life purpose.

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This post marks a major milestone. As I hesitantly wrote my first article in July 2012 I never dreamed I would reach 100 posts. To honour this 100 post milestone I have collected a few of the books that offered me inspiration and guidance, and influenced my journey along the pathway to health, happiness and a fulfilled life.

I am a total book addict. Curled up with a book, reading in my bedroom, is my go-to-happy-place. These are not my favourite books although some are certainly ones I do love. These are books with a purpose.

Because I always want to know the answer ‘right now’ these are books that present a poal or a purpose and then tell me how to get there. Most importantly, they all definitely played an important part in signposting the pathway for me.

This selection can give you the tools to make enormous life changes for yourself too. Take a look, and maybe find an inspiring book to add to your summer reading list, one that will open the doorway to allow big changes into your life in 2015.

WARNING: Long but awesome post ahead! Feel free to skim

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LIFE CHANGING SUMMER READS

In no particular order (apart from which one I pulled off the bookshelf first)

 

#1. Love The Life You Live: Ten Steps For Happier Living by Anne Hartley

This book guided me to the Life Coaching course I chose. I‘d wanted to do it for over two years before I found a course that really resonated. During that time I stumbled across this book in which Hartley outlines her “Heart Process”, the essence of the Hartlife Coaching Course I studied.
The Heart Process is basically a guideline to reclaiming your “happy.” Starting with her own story Anne takes you through a series of heart-based steps to find your joy in life again. This is solid stuff that has been around for generations, but it is presented in such a way that you don’t just get excited about the message you are also guided as to how to achieve it in your own life. The book is packed full of helpful hacks for mastering each of the ten steps.
Anne has been a Life Coach for over twenty years during which time she has refined everything she has used in her work, and here you have her most successful techniques.

 

#2. Walking Meditation by Nguyen Anh Huong & Thich Nhat Hanh

The practice of mindfulness has recently taken the world by storm, but my introduction came a while ago from the Master of Mindfulness himself through this book. This is more a kit than a book and is a wonderful tool if you want to introduce mindfulness into your life. It contains an instructional DVD, a CD of 5 guided meditations to get you started, and a small book to guide you through so you get the most out of your practice.
Someone once said to me that women gained most from active meditation and men gained the most from still meditation. I don’t know if it’s true or not but the concept of women engaging in the active, masculine Yang, and men in the passive, feminine Yin has a beautiful poetic balance to it.
An excellent and simple meditation for all women (and men) to master.

 

#3. Goddesses In Everywoman – Powerful Archetypes in Women’s Lives by Jean Shinoda Bolen

This is the book that launched me into the healing work I do with women today. Exploring the goddesses from ancient Greek mythology Bolen opens up our understanding of the age-old psychological patterns that modern women still follow. This is one of those books that bring incredible ‘aha’ moments as you suddenly recognize yourself in one or another goddess. It places the patterns, whether actual or potential, that you fall into in your life right there in front of you, where you can’t help but see them for what they are.
I love this book – it was such a solid foundation to understanding women’s archetypes and led to my ability to hold space for women’s healing groups, as well as to presenting their life patterns in a far more easily understood way to my Coaching clients. It’s easy to read, easy to understand and very insightful.

 

#4. The Inner Goddess Makeover: A Step-By-Step Makeover by Tanishka

This is the book that inspired me to go train as a Red Tent Facilitator and then later, a Women’s Rites Of Passage Facilitator. I came across “The Inner Goddess Makeover” after I read about women’s archetypes in ‘Goddesses In Everywoman’ and was left hungry to discover more about the feminine archetypes we all embody.
Tanishka uses each of seven goddess archetypes to embody seven universal psychological feminine aspects. Each one also governs a chakra. As you work through the exercises for each, consciously exploring the issues raised, you experience energy shifts and clear old blocks that were limiting you and stopping you from experiencing your personal empowerment and potential.Copy of waterhouse_the_crystal_ball_skull
I worked through this awesome and exciting journey, one chakra/goddess per month. Some of the goddesses were easy but with others I was really challenged. It was so empowering that after I finished I contacted Tanishka and went and trained with her.
This book is challenging but F.U.N. Even more fun when you set up your own goddess circle to work through it with the support of your Besties. Tanishka pulls no punches! Totally down to earth, her vibrant personality shines through, and she speaks to the reader as if you were both hanging out and chatting over a coffee.

 

#5. The Botany Of Desire by Michael Pollan

This is an odd book to have here but it is the book that galvanized me into opting for organic produce whenever I could, especially potatoes, changing my eating habits forever. It is about the reciprocal relationship between people and four domesticated crops. Pollan links four desires – sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control – with four plants that we use to satisfy them. He uses the story of the potato to illustrate control.
In his examination of how potato growing has evolved he visits commercial potato farms, an organic farm and Monsanto, the developers of genetically modified potatoes. Reading about the intense chemical spraying program and the permanent toxic state of the commercial farms was more than enough to turn me away from commercially grown potatoes forever. It also set me to investigate which other commercially farmed crops are highly toxic and which are relatively safe.
My very first post on this blog, Telling Tales on ‘Taters’ was inspired by this book and is about organic vs commercially grown potatoes.
The other stories about the apple, tulip and hemp are also fascinating.

 

#6. Healthy Home, Healthy Family by Nicole Bijilsma

Nicole is a Building Biologist and Sick Building Syndrome expert who is passionate about environmental medicine. Electromagnetic radiation (EMR), allergens, drinking water, and toxic chemicals pervade our living and working spaces and here Nicole shows you how to reverse their damage on your body, your mind, your emotions and your health.house-insurance-419058_640
An accomplished Naturopath and Acupuncturist with a young family of her own, she has produced a book full of practical ways to determine and remedy the levels of toxins you are being exposed to everyday.
This book contains lots of questionnaires and checklists to assess your own home. There is also advice on selecting cleaning products, air cleaners, plastics, and more. It even includes a guide for anyone about to buy, rent or build a house, with what you need to investigate or ask before you start.
With resource lists, useful websites plus so much more this is a great book to have on hand.

 

#7. The Complete Homeopathy Handbook by Miranda Castro

I was a Mum who used homeopathy for my family long before I was a professional Homeopath. Back then I needed a book that was comprehensive enough for me to find the correct remedy for the symptoms that presented, but not too complicated for my purely amateur ability.
Miranda Castro has written a book that nails it. It includes the homeopathic history, principles, myths, how to actually take a Homeopathic case and work out a remedy, then a comprehensive Materia Medica and Repertory to guide your remedy choice.
This book has it all for the ‘Home Homeopath’ and clearly and simply presents everyday homeopathic prescribing as the individualized effective treatment system it can be, when it is done correctly and well.

 

#8. Eating For The Seasons by Janella Purcell

I rarely recommend diet or cookbooks. But this is so much more than just a set of recipes. This book is all about eating in tune with the seasons and the rhythms of nature. By so doing your body gets just what it needs for the time of year.
This means more than simply eating light, raw food in summer and heavier, warming food during winter. Purcell’s eating recommendations are based on the principles of Traditional Asian Medicine.
Recipes (with alternative suggestions) are grouped by season. Each section also contains advice about health objectives of the season, preferred seasonal cooking methods, what to avoid, and which body organs need support.
A great book to remind you of seasonal eating patterns, even if you don’t use any of the recipes, it helps to keep you connected, by tuning in and aligning yourself with the rhythms of the Earth and life itself.

 

#9. The Life You Were Born To Live by Dan Millman

I love numerology and once studied it avidly, but it was so complicated. Not any more! Dan Millman changed all that. He has devised the “Life-Purpose System” from the ancient wisdom of Numbers, and it’s amazing, clear, and easy to follow. As Millman says “ the drive to understand our life purpose is as important to our psychological growth as eating is to our biological survival.” And he sets out all the information you need to help you in your quest.numbers pay-530339_640
It’s a big book but you only need to read the sections that apply directly to you and can ignore the rest. Millman shows you the simple way to calculate what is relevant to you. As you work through your picture he breaks it down into detail that applies to you, along with specific issues in your life and guidelines for action.
Millman’s book can help you sort out conflicts in your life and help you find your life purpose.

 

#10. Excuses Be Gone by Wayne Dyer

Wayne Dyer has been turning out awesome books for decades. But I love this one. After doing lots of work learning to recognise my inner critical judge, this book taught me about changing the lifelong self-defeating habitual thinking that the inner critic thrives on.
It teaches about stepping up and recognizing that although we can’t control everything that happens around us, what we make of our situation, and how we deal with it, is completely up to us and the way we choose to think. Powerful stuff!
It is easy to recognize the excuses we habitually use that Dyer places before us here. He takes us through the Seven Principles of Excuses Begone, with exercises at the end of each principle to help cement them in place. He then looks at seven questions surrounding the paradigm shift such as “What would my life look like if I couldn’t use these excuses?” and “What’s the payoff?”
But what I really love and often go back to just to remind myself, are the Four Cardinal Virtues and how they manifest – reverence for all life, natural sincerity, gentleness and supportiveness.

 

#11. 29 Gifts: How a Month Of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker

There are so many “Challenges” around now – 5 day, 7 day, 30 day. But this 29 day story of the role that gift giving and the practice of generosity and gratitude played in Walker’s battle with Multiple Schlerosis is heart-warming and life-affirming.
She shows that by placing our focus outside ourself and the problems of our own life we move the energy of our life away from our problems and illnesses and give ourslf the room to heal. gratitude Julie Jordan scott
As she embraced the practice of Gratitude and Gift-giving on her month long journey Cami’s health and happiness turned around. Initially filled with thoughts of ending up in a wheelchair and in extreme pain her experience was transformative.
From her own experience Cami began a movement that has spread across the globe – millions of people on a 29 Day Gifting Challenge.
This is beautiful story of her journey that you can take on and apply to your life.

 

#12. The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle

We all talk about living in the moment, but not that many of us actually manage it. This is the basic message that we hear so often is the essence of Tolle’s book. But what makes it different is how he explains so clearly how our thoughts and emotions get in the way of achieving this, so we actually understand what is going on.
Tolle likens the mind to a destructive disease, and as long as you allow your mind to stay bonded to the inherited collective mind-patterns it will continue in its diseased state and you will continue to suffer.
He leads us to an understanding that enlightenment is found through consciousness, that through surrender we can find happiness and ultimately peace.
It is resented as a dialogue with many questions you would ask yourself.
This book really helped me get through some tough times in my life.

 

#13. The Chemical Maze by Bill Statham

This tiny little book revolutionized my shopping. It lists by their number all the additives found in foods, personal care and cosmetics. Beside each it grades the danger the additive poses for you, what the adverse effects are (such as asthma, dermatitis, cancer), why it is added, along with the types of products it is used in.
Luckily for you it is now available as an app for iPhone or Android.

 

#14. Creative Visualisation by Shakti Gawain

One of the first books I read that turned me onto the path of creating the life I really want, this book was written over 35 years ago and still holds today. An anniversary edition has just been released and is a great book to start with if you are just beginning your manifestation pathway.

 

So this is just a starter. It doesn’t include the writings of so many brilliant teachers. I hope you are drawn to one of the books on this list. Happy reading!

Please add the name of any book that has guided you to make huge change in your life in the comments section under “LEAVE A REPLY” below. I’d love to know, and am always ready to open the cover of a new book and discover another new life lesson.

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Fight Anxiety With Natural Medicine

AnxiousEveryone feels anxious at some time or other, but for some people anxiety is an overwhelming part of their everyday life. For some, stress or depression walks alongside, and insomnia likes to drop by too.

Modern life moves so fast and our lives are constantly changing. Upheavals such as moving house, redundancy, the passing of a loved one, or even something joyful like a wedding or a birth, can set up the arena for feelings of anxiety. Your body recognises the feelings as stressful and responds by sending out a flood of stress hormones to deal with the situation. If you are healthy, you deal with the feelings, and move on. But for others, unable to move past the feelings, anxiety interferes with their daily life to such an extent they cannot cope well with everyday things. This is an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is not stress. Anxiety is a fear-based emotion that results in a physical and emotional response in the body. Stress is the body’s response to stimuli, which can be a problem is if is ongoing or overdone.

There are a number of different forms of anxiety including Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Social Phobia and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) phobias, Separation Anxiety.

Anxiety is experienced in many, many different ways. It may show as constant and obsessive worrying, panic attacks, feeling overwhelmed and teary, repetitive thoughts, huge emotional swings, having concentration difficulties and being easily distracted, trouble remembering things, difficulty learning, insomnia, tension that makes relaxing difficult, low libido, appetite changes such as cravings, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, or weight change. A combination of life experiences, hereditary tendency and chemical imbalances in the brain leads to the symptoms.  It develops gradually and runs in families.

The conventional treatment calls for a combination of strategies to deal with the symptoms, which include a number of effective natural methods. But there are many other very effective ways to reduce anxiety in the long term that are not a part of the normal conventional treatment plan, but are well worth trying. They can be used to treat both anxiety disorder or a simple anxious response to a life event.

Some of the common Conventional ways of dealing with anxiety:

  • Relaxation techniques
  • Breathing techniques
  • Diet changes
  • Counseling
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy
  • Behaviour Therapy
  • Exercise
  • Medication
photo: Alain Abplanalp Photography
photo: Alain Abplanalp Photography

So How DO You Reduce Anxiety?

NATURAL MEDICINE

Homeopathy

Homeopathy has a great track record when it comes to dealing with anxiety. Remedies such as homeopathic Aconite is a very useful first-aid remedy for dealing with panic attacks or fear of flying. Homeopathic Gelsemium is one of the remedies that can help exam nerves. There are many others which are very effective when they are closely matched to the exact nature of your individual anxiety symptoms. Other remedies can be used for long-term anxiety issues but again, need to be matched to your own particular symptoms. Certain remedies are helpful when you wake during the night with worry and anxiety that keeps you awake, others for when you avoid social situations due to anxiety, others for control issues, others for anxiety due to a range of particular stimuli and so forth. Consulting with a qualified Homeopath  will identify which remedy suits your needs the best.

EFT

Emotional Freedom Technique  or Tapping, is so simple, anyone can learn it and do it anyplace as it only takes a few minutes. It works on the principle that the cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system, and seeks to shift the points along the body meridian system where energy is blocked.

Temporal Tap

Affirmations are employed in conventional treatments but you can take this much further to get a greater impact by combining them with ‘Tapping’.  Stimulating acupressure points on the body helps awaken the chi energy and keep it flowing smoothly. By tapping on certain points on the head while you say the affirmations, you can help to set the self-reprogramming in place quicker and stronger. Temporal tapping influences your thinking, your nervous system and the cellular activity of the body. Watch this demonstration by Donna Eden of the Temporal Tap method. She explains how it works and demonstrates the process very clearly and simply.

Flower essences

Essences are a very gentle form of natural medicine that work directly on the emotions. Bach Rescue Remedy is extremely effective for panic attacks and can be carried with you in your bag. It is simple to use and gives fast, gentle results. Australian Bush Flower Emergency Essence has a similar effect to Bach Rescue Remedy. Some people respond better to the Bach and others to the Australian Bush Flower remedies. Try both to see which works best for you. Bach Mimulus is the remedy to use for a known fear, such as public speaking or dogs. Bach Aspen is better when there are more general, vague fearful or anxious feelings without a specific cause.

Aromatherapy

Because the sense of smell bypasses the part of the brain that does all the worrying, aromas and smells can be powerful helpers. Light some (100% natural and plant-based) incense such as frankinsense or sandalwood which are very relaxing, or lavender if you need calming. The incense slows the heart rate and soothes nerves. Or burn quality pure essential oils such as lavender, geranium or bergamot, which are all calming and effective relaxants. If you soak in a bath with added essential oils or add the oils to a massage oil base, you get added relaxation benefits.

DIET

Avoid Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that triggers the body to release adrenaline, a major stress hormone and the one you need to avoid. You find caffeine in coffee, cola, guarana, chocolate, diet supplements, and now it is also added to many other soda drinks so always read the labels and don’t assume that if you avoid the cola drinks you will be ok.

Adjust Meals

Eat small meals frequently. Stable blood sugars help maintain stable moods. Eat every couple of hours and make sure the meal contains some protein. You can get protein from a boiled egg, a handful of almonds or other nuts and seeds, a small tin of tuna, a quinoa salad, a slice of turkey or organic chicken breast, nut butter, hommus, tempeh, grain fed organic beef.

There has been much research recently into how anxiety originates in the gut, so it is no surprise that it also affects digestion and the bowel. Reduce caffeine, sugar, dairy, increase vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and grains to ease the load on your gut – basically, eat healthy!

Supplements

Magnesium  is a mineral that is often deficient in much of the population, but more so in anxiety sufferers. Available in many foods including green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, brazil nuts, brown rice, bananas, and dark chocolate, to make sure you are getting adequate amounts it high-quality supplement can be better.

Vitamin B is also often deficient in the diet of anxiety sufferers and a daily Vitamin B complex is worth taking. Take a high quality complete B rather than single B vitamins.

HERBS

Calming herbs include passionflower, kava, oats and chamomile which are also good for helping with sleep problems, and St John’s Wort.

 Holy Basil, or Tulsi, is one herb that helps the body respond to stress and anxiety, whether that is emotional or physical, by reducing the levels of stress hormone. It produces feelings of calm and relaxation.

A cup of chamomile tea in the evening eases stress and promotes sleep by helping you relax and easing tension before bed. Chamomile is a useful relaxant and will help sedate you to sleep

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate) is an old folk remedy for anxiety that acts as a mild tranquilizer, calming without sedating. It can be taken as a tablet, a tea, or a liquid tincture from your practitioner. It also assists with insomnia. Don’t use passionflower if you are already taking sedatives, or if you are pregnant, nursing or have established kidney or liver disease.

Kava Kava (Piper methysticum) is widely known and used to reduce anxiety symptoms by activating GABA receptors in the brain.

image: Shawn Rossi
image: Shawn Rossi

OTHER NATURAL STRATEGIES

Bodywork

Muscle tension can be an effect of anxiety, particulary if it is ongoing, and body therapies such as massage, reflexology or shiatsu can relieve the muscles and help you relax. Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong are other techniques to help the body relax. Yoga incorporates good breathing practices and is especially useful.

Cranialsacral therapy uses more gentle techniques than massage on the head, spine and pelvis, the source of the nervous system. Gentle manipulation of this area of the body leads to reduced nervous, as well as muscle tension.

Meditation

In meditation controlled breathing techniques are used to free the mind of chatter and activity. By practicing meditation on a daily basis you can develop a more relaxed outlook. Meditation does not need to be difficult. There are many different ways of meditating and it is simply a matter of finding the one that suits you. Take a look here to discover some different forms of meditation for beginners and find the one that is right for you. If even the idea of meditating freaks you out start here instead.

Breathing

Learn to breathe correctly. When you get anxious you start to breathe more and more shallowly, using just the top of your chest. Breathing deep down in the belly helps to bring about calm. Learn more about controlled breathing techniques here.

Self-talk

Using positive affirmations can be very effective. When you form an affirmation try to phrase it as if it already is happening. For example, instead of saying “all will be well” use “all IS well” instead. Placing the thought in the present is more effective. “I am coping, breathing deeply, and feeling relaxed” is more likely to calm you because it is strongly placed in what is happening now, in the present, rather than “I always cope if I breathe and relax” which is far more general.

Centring

To create calm in the moment place both your palms on the side of your face and rest your fingers gently on your closed eyelids. This cradles and quiets the mind, allowing you to centre yourself so you can face things again.

Release the built-up adrenaline

Move your body about. Play some up-beat music and dance, scrub the walls or floor, weed an overgrown patch of garden, go for a run or a bike ride. Exercise burns up the stress chemicals , promotes relaxation and helps circulate blocked energy that contributes to anxiety.

Distract yourself

Put on your favourite music, take the dog for a walk, make a cup of soothing herbal tea, revisit your favourite beach holiday photos, especially if they were in the tropics or whatever calms you in the moment.

Taking steps to reduce your anxiety in a more natural way allows you to experience more of life. Try out some of these strategies for yourself.

What natural strategies do you find most useful to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, tell me in the comments section below? For me it is homeopathy, flower essences and EFT.

fearless

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue. 

Source articles

http://www.naturalnews.com/042748_anxiety_natural_treatments_fight_or_flight_mechanism.html

http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/article/Natural_Treatments_for_Stress_and_Anxiety

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/health/natural+health/ten+ways+to+beat+stress+and+anxiety+naturally,10965?gclid=CNjOycSxzLoCFQLvpAodlA8Abg

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2006/08/26/one-simple-solution-addresses-6-different-types-of-anxiety-disorder.aspx

http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/conditionsatod/a/Anxiety.htm

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Anxiety_treatment_options

Related articles

Combat Stress In Your Life With Meditation

The pace of life has increased exponentially over the last few years and we are all living with increasingly rising stress levels
The pace of life has increased exponentially over the last few years and we are all living with increasingly rising stress levels

“We are fragmented into so many different aspects. We don´t know who we really are, or what aspects of ourselves we should identify with or believe in. So many contradictory voices, dictates, and feelings fight for control over our inner lives that we find ourselves scattered everywhere, in all directions, leaving nobody at home.
Meditation, then, is bringing the mind home.”
Sogyal Rinpoche

Stress plays a major part in the development of many illnesses. It is known to affect many body functions including the reproductive system, cause eczema and psoriasis, cause dry mouth or ulcers and musculoskeletal pain as well as affecting the immune system as a whole.

The pace of life has increased exponentially over the last few years. As we all take on more and more in our lives and the influx of information bombards us faster and faster, we live with increasingly rising stress levels – whether their cause or focus is on our work, our family , finances, or the health of ourselves, our parents as they age, our family or our beautiful planet, or any of the myriad of commitments we all have in our life. Some may even be stressing about whether they are allowing enough “download” time to counter the stress they have. Almost all of us, including children, are affected to some degree.

DE- STRESS

One of the ways that I often suggest to clients to offload the effects of this stress in their life is to adopt the practice of meditation. Some say they have tried it but just can’t maintain focus. But for others the idea is somewhat daunting and many dismiss the idea out-of-hand. Introducing something new requires planning, and for them to allocate scarce time seems to only escalate their problem. For others it is all just a bit ”woo-woo” and uncomfortable.

But the fact remains that meditation is a wonderful way to de-stress, and it does not have to be difficult, or to require big chunks of your time, or to actively involve “chakras”. You do not need to join a class, it is entirely portable. And it does not have to include burning incense, crystals, difficult yoga poses or the need to “get it right”.

There are many different ways that the benefits of meditation can be obtained and it’s simply a matter of finding the one that fits you and your life, and then making that a regular part of your day.

There is a misconception that in order to meditate you need to completely shut down your mind. But for most people the mind chatter just keeps on intruding, constantly pulling them out of that calm, quiet, thought-free place we all seek.

The truth is that in order to be able to meditate in that way takes many, many years of practice. For the majority thoughts wander in and out, and it’s ok. The key is to accept that your thoughts will wander, and to simply consciously pull them back again whenever they do, by focusing once more on the meditative technique that you are using.

The thing is, meditation does not have to be a big major undertaking. Sure there are yogis who can sit and meditate all day. But there are also others who do it throughout their day in bursts of a few minutes. And many more who allocate a set amount of “me-time” when they are able to do their practice, and re-group.

MINDFULNESS

The enlightened Buddist monk Thich Nhat Hanh advocates doing walking meditations, which offer you the opportunity to transform an everyday practice into a healing and nourishing way to develop mindfulness, awaken your consciousness and to bring some peace into a life all too often over-run with stress. Basically they are meditation in action. You become mindful of the action of walking and try to keep your mind focused on the experience of walking and breathing. This makes it a lot easier for “monkey minds” to deal with as it gives the flighty mind something on which to concentrate. You can hear him explain it here and watch him demonstrate this form of meditation to a group of followers. It is a good form of meditation for women, who often benefit from active meditation as it is more yang, or masculine. I learnt the practice of this powerful technique from this wonderful Walking Meditation Kit – comprising book, DVD and CD which you can buy from Amazon. Meditation Oasis has clear detailed instructions for doing a walking meditation to get you started right here.

If you find you prefer active meditation Osho offers a number of  dynamic meditations you may like to try.

Many people prefer a guided meditation as they find having a voice directing the practice helps them to maintain their focus. Here is a simple ten minute relaxation meditation that I came across recently. I like it for its simplicity, her gentle, soothing voice and because it incorporates conscious muscle relaxation – perfect for releasing stress. I believe this is one you could even do at your desk if things start to get on top of you at work.

If you are having difficulty actually relaxing any muscles in these meditations one tip is to tighten each muscle momentarily. This allows you to relax the muscle on release. Use this technique until you are able to relax the muscles at will.

BREATHE

One of the simplest ways to start meditating is to practice consciously watching your breath, often called mindfulness . It comes out of Buddhist tradition but is not ‘religious’ in itself. It is all about ‘being present’ and allows for your mind to do its own thing while you develop, over time, the ability to detach from the thought. That sounds complicated, but in fact it is very simple. Here are two variations of a calming and simple meditation that focuses on the breath, again from Meditation Oasis. Breathing Meditation is one of the simplest forms of meditation and yet is also one of the most powerful. You may discover you never need to look any further!

Of course there are many different types of meditation that can be used to fulfill all sorts of purposes. Many have heard of Transcendental Meditation which derives from Hinduism. Zazen meditation involves just sitting for long periods. Kundalini is gaining in popularity and focuses on the rising stream of energy that exists in humans. Guided visualizations can be a very powerful way to opening your awareness. I use these in my Women’s Circles often with wonderful results. They involve concentration on an image or imagined environment or experience. Another form of meditation that I have found particularly powerful is the practice of Qi Gong, a Taoist meditation technique. Of course there are others as well and you may like to investigate some once you have established a regular meditation practice in your life.

I am a big fan of not taking on big loads – maybe it is the inner sloth, who knows. But if there is an easier pathway then I am always willing to give that option a go. And one way that always makes things a little easier to achieve is to break tasks down into their smallest bites and to then tackle those one at a time. If the prospect of meditation seems a bit daunting to you then start small. Start out by adopting a five minute breathing meditation, or if that is too much make it three minutes. Or start by doing a quick body relaxation every day at your desk or before the kids come home from school, or before going to bed at night. Or maybe even do it for a few minutes a few times through the day.

Soon you will find that it is easy to meditate.

“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.”
Voltaire

This is how I picture myself meditating...but it is far more likely I will be sitting in my car catching a few brief moments to centre my breathing before plunging back into the chaos of life
This is how I picture myself meditating…but it is far more likely I will be sitting in my car catching a few brief moments to centre my breathing before plunging back into the chaos of life

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

Source articles:

http://www.iam-u.org/index.php/8-basic-kinds-of-meditation-and-why-you-should-meditate-on-your-heart http://www.wildmind.org/walking/overview

Pay Attention! With Mindfulness

“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

Red Water Lillies

Recently I was reading an article about mindfulness while I was eating a piece of toast. As I continued to read I suddenly became very conscious of the irony of the situation, There I was eating in a way totally lacking any mindfulness whatsoever, engrossed in the internet, with thoughts of what I needed to do during the day running around in the background.

So I stopped reading and focused on the delicious food. Sourdough spelt bread toasted so that just the outside was crunchy and the centre still moist; the tang of the sourdough culture; the seeds along the edges of the crust; the sweetness of the warm butter which had soaked through into the heart.

I noticed the winter sun pouring in through the window and the small birds hopping on the branches outside. At one point I started thinking about writing this post about mindfulness, but being mindful, I put the thought aside and focused on eating the toast again.

Truly, I tasted and enjoyed that piece of toast far more deeply than many I have eaten. It was all the more delicious because I was focused in the moment.

My distraction while I was eating is completely normal. Human consciousness focuses on a lively dance between revisiting past events and anticipating the future. But learning and utilizing mindfulness can have a very positive impact on our lives as well as our health.

Mindfulness is a hot topic right now and is about mastering the art of consciously living in the present moment. It involves bringing awareness into the experience of the moment in an open and interested way. Instead of “doing” to achieve it requires us to be ”not doing”.

Embracing the energy of mindfulness and allowing it to flow into our lives and penetrate everything we do provides us the opportunity to foster the development of grace within. It deepens our capacity to live more meaningful, balanced and peaceful lives.

When we practice mindfulness we are able to see what is happening in our lives more clearly. Everyday problems do not disappear, but because we are fully present in our lives through the practice of mindfulness, we become able to respond to the pressures in a much calmer way while at the same time avoiding self-judgement and self-criticism. In so doing we benefit the health of our body, our mind and our heart.

Mindfulness is not the same as awareness. While mindfulness is all is about paying attention ‘on purpose’, awareness is only about noticing and it lacks the intent of mindfulness.

Mindfulness  is an ancient practice utilized by many eastern philosophies including Buddhism, Yoga, Tai Chi and Taoism. It has been embraced  in the West and is now widely taught in a non-sectarian way. It is being widely proven as an effective tool to treat many psychological clinical disorders.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist, has taught the art of mindfulness for many years. He teaches mindfulness first through mindful breathing and then through Walking Meditation. It leads to a more keen awareness of all aspects of your life and the world around you. This site is a beautiful guide to Walking Meditation by Thich Nahat Hanh. I have used and would recommend the Walking Meditation Kit

Commit to cultivating mindfulness in your life in order to gain the profound, sustained benefits.

  • improve focus and concentration
  • a stable mind rather than one that is dull or agitated
  • a flexible mind able to reduce the impact of stressful thoughts and feelings
  • increased self-awareness of the contents of your mind and its patterns
  • transform difficult and challenging situations by becoming less reactive
  • substitute self defeating behaviours with more effective ones

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves -slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

                           “I want to live in the moment – but not this one. I was thinking of maybe one on a beach instead”

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

Source articles:

http://whatismindfulness2.wordpress.com/2007/04/20/what-is-mindfulness-part-ii/

http://mindfulnet.org/page2.htm

http://www.stillmind.com.au/mindfulnesstherapy.htm

http://www.thehappinesstrap.com/mindfulness

© Catherine Bullard and Happy Holistic Health, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Catherine Bullard and Happy Holistic Health with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

Walking the Peaceful Pathway

In my room at work there is a small board on which there is a labyrinth constructed from tiny white pebbles. Beside it there is a small sign saying “Finger Labyrinth, use your fingers to walk me”. Some do, particularly the children, but most people don’t have the time.

Labyrinths are rapidly making a welcome return to our lives and many full-size walking labyrinths are now being built. They are currently being used by many people across the world as a means to find inner balance. They allow the mind to quiet, and invite insight through meditation. Simply walking the labyrinth is a wonderful way to develop mindfulness and find inner knowing.

Labyrinths are ancient symbols that have been used for thousands of years by many different cultures across the globe. Their sacred spiral design is a very powerful self-alignment tool that brings perspective into our lives. The geometric form speaks to the right brain, unlike mazes which require the left brain. Mazes are puzzles which have dead ends and lots of twists and turns in many directions. Labyrinths have only one path that leads right into the centre with no tricky turns or blind alleys. The maze needs logical planned thinking to solve, whereas the labyrinth requires a more passive approach, with the only decision being whether to start or not. By shifting from the left to the right brain your consciousness moves into a more receptive state that allows you to receive insights.

The labyrinth walk can be broken into three stages. At the entrance you can pause, focus and set an intention for your walk. Take slow, deliberate steps and use the walk into the centre of the labyrinth as an opportunity to clear and centre your mind, to let go of worries and obligations and to surrender to the process of being fully present in your body in the moment.

Pause when you reach the centre and take time for reflection, meditation or prayer, time to allow the divine into your life, and a realization of your own sacred inner space.

The walk back out from the centre provides the space for integration of your insights and prepares you to return to your life ready to make transformational changes, ready to take action.

Every walk is unique and you can expect to receive something different every time you walk the labyrinth. Sometimes it may simply be a nice walk while on other occasions it may be the revelation of some deep insight and understanding. Other times it may provide the answer to your question, or release of a worry, concern or grief you have been holding.

Labyrinth on the floor of the waiting areas at Indigo Centre for Health & Wellbeing where I work

Labyrinths present us with a reflection of our life pathway. We are all on a path, even if sometimes it seems pretty overgrown, and at others we have no idea where it may be leading us.

In some ways the labyrinth is simply a metaphor for our own journey into our centre, our deepest self, and then our return back out into the world. Like the characters of ancient myths and legends, who needed to go down into the darkness in order to overcome their adversary or fear, before returning triumphant with a deeper understanding of themselves, we too can use the labyrinth as a means of going deep within to broaden our understanding and acceptance of who we are.

Labyrinths are transformational spiritual tools and walking them needs to be a practice that is integrated into your life and not done just once.

As an ancient symbol of wholeness they allow you to pursue personal wholeness

If you would like to experience for yourself the power of the labyrinththere are many that you can try. Some are privately owned and require prior arrangement for their use, but there are quite a number that are open to use at any time.  This list is not complete so keep your eye open for others.

Labyrinth at Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality in Kew, Victoria

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

© Catherine Bullard and Happy Holistic Health, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Catherine Bullard and Happy Holistic Health with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.