Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ways To Heal Adrenal Fatigue Naturally

Article by Dr. William Cole
for mindbodygreen.com

We are a society of sleepiness, running on fumes and caffeine, craving sugary foods, and suffering from debilitating exhaustion. Today, chronic fatigue affects more than 1 million people in the United States—and that's not even counting all the mildly to moderately fatigued.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is multifaceted, but one common aspect of the condition is something called adrenal fatigue.

The adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys like little kidney baseball caps, release several important hormones, one of which is cortisol. You've probably heard about cortisol before since it's your major stress hormone. Cortisol is supposed to be higher in the morning when you wake up and slowly go down throughout the day so that you can sleep well. It's not necessarily a bad guy—it actually helps regulate your blood sugar and pressure—but you want cortisol to be in balance. Not too high and not too low.

Adrenal fatigue is not really an adrenal problem but a brain problem. Typically, adrenal fatigue is when the brain-adrenal (HPA) axis isn't working so well. This HPA axis dysfunction can cause low cortisol when it should be high and high cortisol when it should be low, and everything in between.

That is not fun.

If you have adrenal fatigue, here's what you might experience:

  • You're slow to start in the morning.
  • You crave salty or sugary foods.
  • You have a low libido.
  • You're fatigued in the afternoon.
  • You get a “second wind” in the evening.
  • You can’t stay asleep.
  • You experience dizziness when standing up quickly.
  • You get afternoon headaches.
  • You have blood sugar issues.
  • You have chronic inflammation.
  • Your nails are weak.
  • You're often moody.
  • You have difficulty losing weight.
As a functional medicine practitioner, I'm normally the one guiding people out of their health problems. So when I saw the symptoms of adrenal fatigue creeping into my own life, I knew I had to start practicing what I teach.

If you'd also like to heal your adrenal fatigue, here are the steps I took to rehab the condition. I also recommend them to many of my patients:

1. I ran some labs.

In addition to conventional blood labs, I wanted to run a few extra labs to find out for sure what was going on, including:
  • Adrenal fatigue labs: This lab involves spitting into several vials throughout the day. It's a lot of spit, but it can also give you a lot of information about your brain-adrenal function. I learned I did have adrenal (HPA) dysfunction.
  • Microbiome labs: The microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria in your gut. You may be thinking, "Why would you look in the gut when considering adrenal fatigue?" Our gut health is the foundation of our total health, especially brain and hormonal health. Dealing with underlying leaky gut syndrome, candida overgrowth, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is essential for recovering from adrenal fatigue.
  • Methylation labs: Methylation is a massive biochemical superhighway that happens 1 billion times every second in the human body. It makes a healthy brain, gut, hormones, and detox pathways and protects your DNA. All super important stuff. Genes that make methylation happen can be mutated in some of us. This decreases methylation and can cause a variety of health issues. I had multiple methylation gene mutations, one of which is the MTHFR gene.
I believe we all need different labs to discover root health issues, based on our unique health history. Consider a free health evaluation to get a functional medicine perspective on your case.

2. I jump-started my hormone rehab with a 90-day reset diet.

Food is medicine. I always ate healthy, other than my favorite "healthy junk foods" of gluten-free pizza and stevia soda. But I knew that if I was going to rehab my adrenal fatigue, I had to take my food medicine plan to the next level. I had to make sure my diet was on point for hormone health. Here's the 90-day food plan I used to improve my sleep and energy.

3. I ate nutrient-dense proteins.


Oysters are packed with zinc! The trace mineral ratio between copper and zinc can help with healthy neurotransmitter function and adaptation to stress. Increased copper and decreased zinc has been shown to contribute to brain stress and anxiety. This superfood of the sea is a great way to balance the proper trace mineral ratio and your stress levels.

Organic turkey

You know that food coma people get into after Thanksgiving dinner? It’s actually from the calming amino acid tryptophan in the turkey. Tryptophan is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps you feel calm and deal with anxiety.

Grass-fed organ meats

Organ meats like liver are some of the best sources of nutrients needed to beat fatigue, like zinc and vitamin D. They also contain copious amounts of choline and other B vitamins needed for methylation.

4. I ate more green superfoods.

Leafy greens

Plant foods like Swiss chard and spinach are rich in magnesium, the original “chill pill,” which helps to regulate the brain-adrenal axis.


This sulfur-rich vegetable also contains the beneficial B vitamin folate. Low levels of folate are linked to neurotransmitter impairment, which can lead to brain-hormonal problems.

5. I ate healthy fats every day.


Avocados contain beneficial B vitamins and monounsaturated fats that are needed for neurotransmitter and brain health. This fatty super fruit also contains potassium, which helps to naturally lower blood pressure.

Full-fat kefir

Bacterial imbalances in your gut can contribute to brain problems. Kefir is rich in beneficial bacteria for your microbiome and also has fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K2, which are important for brain health.

Coconut oil

I love using coconut oil, which offers good fats like medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that can help with brain function. I cook with coconut oil, put it in smoothies, or simply eat it off a spoon.

Wild-caught fish

Inflammation is an important factor when it comes to brain and hormonal health. Omega-rich foods like Alaskan salmon can help decrease inflammation.

6. I sipped on relaxing tea.

Camomile tea

This soothing, mild tea has been shown to help decrease anxiety, depression, and stress symptoms in just a few weeks.

Rooibos tea

African red bush, or Rooibos, can have a balancing effect on cortisol.

7. I used natural medicines.

Functional medicine focuses on finding the root reason why we have health problems in the first place. We want to support the underlying mechanisms that aren't working so well. Because so much of adrenal fatigue is really brain-based, most of the natural medicines I used focused on supporting optimal brain health and its response to stress.
I used blends of adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, eleuthero ginseng, holy basil and rhodiola rosea to give my adrenal axis some TLC. I also incorporated phosphatidylserine supplements into my routine. (Of course, consult your doctor first before implementing any herbs or supplements.)

8. I upped my magnesium intake.

In addition to eating magnesium-rich foods, supplementing with magnesium can take its benefits to the next level. It helps support the adrenal glands, relaxes stressed muscles and nerves, and promotes quality sleep. I am a fan of magnesium threonate, which studies suggest can be beneficial to the brain. I also put magnesium oil on my skin.

9. I brought my inflammation levels down.

I love turmeric! Curcumin, a compound in turmeric with antioxidant properties, has a neuroprotective quality and helps enhance your mood. In a randomized controlled trial, it was suggested to be an effective option for depression, which can be common with adrenal fatigue.

10. I changed my sleep habits.

If I was going to rehab my adrenals, I needed to make sure I wasn't staying up too late. That's difficult when you work all day, get home late, and just want time to unwind. But we all need to allow our brain and adrenals time to recuperate overnight.
I now try to avoid caffeine in the afternoon. This is difficult, as I am a self-admitted tea addict, but I opt for the caffeine-free camomile or rooibos instead.
I also promote quality sleep by turning off the TV, computer, and smartphone a few hours before bed (they can overstimulate the brain, block melatonin production, and hurt your quality of sleep). And I often eat an ounce or two of clean protein like organic turkey and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil before bed to balance out my blood sugar throughout the night.

11. I learned stress management techniques.

Stress can have many devastating effects on health. You can eat perfectly, but if you don't learn to manage stress, it won't mean much in the end.
So during my healing journey, I started practicing mindfulness meditation and other strategies to bring mindfulness into my day. Even just taking some time throughout the day to become aware of your breath is a simple way to defuse stress levels and calm your brain-adrenal axis. I'm also a big fan of listening to Eckhart Tolle audiobooks when I'm in the car.

12. I began practicing yoga regularly.

I wanted to bring practices of alertness and stillness into my life, and yoga is one of my favorite ways to do that. I recommend the awesome video courses from my mindbodygreen siblings Lauren Imparato and Tara Stiles and Michael Taylor to bring yoga right into your home.

13. I spent more time outdoors.

Because I have a job that's indoors, I need to make it a point to get outside. I believe there has to be something coded in our DNA, a primal blueprint that finds affinity with getting in the sun and breathing fresh air. I try to practice earthing, or walking barefoot outside, as much I can to help de-stress.

14. I made sure my vitamin D levels were on point.

Spending more time outside in the sun also helps with your levels of vitamin D, which is responsible for regulating over 200 genetic pathways. I recommend an optimal range of around 60 to 80 ng/ml.

15. I learned to say "no."

This one is still hard for me—I don't want to disappoint anybody and there is always more work to be done. But at a certain point, I needed to create some space in my life, space to just refuel and spend time with my family.

Find more great articles at:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Physical Pains And Their Metaphysical Meanings

Article c/o Lawrence Michail

for thelimitlessminds

Everything on the Physical plane is a manifestation of something on the Metaphysical plane. When we speak of abundance, what we are really talking about is an abundance of emotional, mental and spiritual energy. We fill ourselves to the brim with these energies and it is the overflow that is manifest on the physical plane.

The signs and symptoms that are apparent on the Physical plane lead us to inquire, ultimately, more deeply into ourselves as energetic and spiritual beings.

We tend not to worry too much about this sort of thing when our body is working well, we are not feeling pain, or we are not in the throes of some chronic disease. But when our body feels pain or becomes disabled by disease or accident we tend to start reaching out for answers. We want to know why. Or maybe we don’t even want to know why we just want to fix something we perceive is broken.

Realistically, when our body refuses to do what we want it to, metaphysically, it is not actually broken. It is doing its job. One of its functions is to carry messages from the higher energetic planes to us. It is then up to us to interpret these messages and take action.

Western medicine takes the position that we feel pain because we can. Western approaches to pain, as the main symptom of any disease, are pretty much limited to drugs and surgery. Treatment consists of numbing or diverting pain receptors in the body or cutting off the offending organ. While this approach does have its place in acute situations, it is at best a temporary and often harmful way to approach pain or other disharmonies we feel in our bodies. Most often, western medicine has little to offer most of us and incredibly makes us wait until our symptoms become unbearably acute before it can even acknowledge a disharmony.

The trend today, as much for economic reasons, as for reasons of spirit and human development is to encourage people to take responsibility for their own lives. This is the approach of ancient wisdom. We use our bodies to communicate with our selves and with others. We use our bodies to work out emotional, mental and spiritual questions. While we do tend to judge a diseased body negatively, there really is no right or wrong about it.

The ancient Taoists theorized that good and bad, right and wrong, yin and yang, were just different points of view that we all adopt at one time or another. Because the earth plane is dualistic in nature we all view, at one time or another from both the Yin and the Yang ends of the telescope. There does not seem to be a point in judging one good and one bad or judging one good and one evil. These just are the symptoms of being human.

Still, there is such a thing as being well, and there is such a thing as being sick. When we get sick we tend to want to do something about it.

Enter the healer.

A healer is trained in the observation and interpretation of signs and symptoms, and in methods for dealing with them.

Holistic Healing of the individual occurs at different energetic levels. These are the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. For those on the path, there are a great many more levels and sublevels identified in various cultural, religious and philosophical traditions. But for our purposes we can look at the individual in these four broad realms to at least begin the process of healing.

Healing by the way occurs not only at the individual level, but also at the family, community and global level. When one heals ‘mindfully’, as the Buddhists say, these other aspects of individual healing may become apparent.

There are healers operating today at all these levels. Still, a good place to begin is in the individual body. With this in mind, the following is a list of physical symptoms and the metaphysical disharmonies they may reflect.

Louise Hay, in her book, ‘You Can Heal Your Life,’ has done some interesting work in this area. I use her book occasionally in my Reiki II work. Other references are; Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnostic principals, my own Reiki teacher, Denise Crundall, and my own experience.

Please note that these are only general observations, serving hopefully to illuminate areas that you can look at more closely in yourself or with the help of a healer. You are the one who knows you best. As you go through these observations, try to expand your awareness beyond your own life to see also how these disharmonies are reflected in your own family, community, country and in the world. Ultimately it is our own choice to heal or not to heal and it is our own innate healing ability that is activated.


Headaches; Pain always indicates a separation of some sort from something. Usually we say separation from what is the Truth. The greater the pain the more important that something is. Depending on which part of the head is afflicted the meaning changes. Louise Hay suggests that Headaches indicate invalidating the Self out of Fear. In Chinese Medicine there are several different kinds of headaches according to the quality of the pain and the location on the head. Read on.

Vertex; The top of the head is associated with our connection to the Universe or God. Pain here is associated with separation from that higher power. It is also associated with the Kidneys and the emotion is Fear. Both the Gallbladder and Urinary Bladder channels traverse the top of the head. The Gallbladder is associated with Courage, and the Urinary Bladder through its associate with the Kidneys is associated with Fear. Du 20 (Baihui) located at the top of the head is used extensively to ‘calm the spirit’ in Chinese Medicine.

Forehead; The forehead is associated with the 3rd eye, both in Chakra Theory and Traditional Chinese Medical theory. The 3rd eye is associated with introspection and illumination of your own Inner Being. Pain here is associated with separation from your own Inner Being. In Chinese Medicine, Yintang, which is located midway between the inner ends of the eyebrows, Du 23 (Shangxing), Du 24 ( Shenting) which are located at the hairline directly above Yintang and Du 20 (Baihui) located at the top of the head, all have the action of ‘calming the spirit.’ Yintang is associated with the eyes; not only the eyes that look outward but the eyes that look inward and is indicated in some emotional disorders.

Temporal; The sides of the head are associated with courage, especially courage to face your world. Migraine Headaches, usually located in the front quadrants, right or left, indicates a separation from your world. The involvement of the eyes in Migraines indicate not only an unwillingness to look without, but to look within. Most Migraine sufferers report, not only severe pain behind the eye, but also acute sensitivity to light. In Chinese Medicine, a number of Meridians run through this area. The Gallbladder Channel is associated with courage. The San Jiao channel is involved with processing of water (the elixir of Life), and the Small Intestine Channel is involved with deriving nourishment from the world. Both the San Jiao Channel and the Small Intestine Channel are connected to the Heart, whose emotion is Joy and where the Mind is located. Lack of Joy (with one’s self) is strongly indicated by pain in this area. There is also Anger indicated by the Gallbladder channel’s link with the Liver.

Occipital; The back of the head represents your past. Some say also this is an area of spirituality. Pain here represents something in your past that is not complete and remains unforgiven. The back of the head is traversed by the Gallbladder Channel and the Urinary Bladder Channels indicating Anger born of Fear. The Back of the Head is thought to be the seat of Spiritual Experiences. The only way to see them is through inner sight. Pain in the back of the head represents an unwillingness to look deep within for the source of Light & Truth.


Spine; The Spine Represents the support you think you have in Life and your alignment with those supportive forces. Curved spine, or Scoliosis represents a misalignment with Life. Spasms represent an unwillingness to accept the support that is there.

Shoulders; Shoulders represent burdens and responsibilities. Frozen Shoulder for example represents a complete unwillingness to shoulder your responsibilities in Life, especially your own Life. Pain and dysfunction to varying degrees represents varying degrees of unwillingness to be responsible. Moving forward in Life sometimes requires that you ‘put your shoulder to the wheel’ to overcome inertia. the Gallbladder channel traverses the shoulders and indicates Courage ( or lack of…).

The back, in Chinese Medicine, is considered to be your Yang side; the active, aggressive, lighted side. The back also represents that which is behind you. Very often we do not see clearly that which is behind us. Back problems generally represent conflict between the urge to move forward and the inertia of an unforgiven past that holds us back. This tension very often separates us from both and pain is the result. Louse Hay suggests that backs generally represent support.

Mid back;
The mid back is the link between the shoulder and the lower back. It can be a weak link. As we firm up our shoulders and become willing to take on the responsibilities of Life, and we have gathered around us the financial and emotional support we need (lower back), something sneaks up and stabs us in the back. This is a blind spot. Not only can we not see it, but is very difficult to reach. The weak link crumbles. It is the saboteur or seducer that takes us off our path. Located in this area are the Tonification points (called ‘Shu’ points) for the Liver, the Stomach, and the Spleen. These organs are responsible for the transformation and transportation of Qi, and the free flow of Qi in the body. Blockages here affect the entire body and can stop you dead in your tracks. The Spleen represents Worry or Overthinking and the Liver represents Anger or base emotions. Both of these can sabotage even the best laid plans. Louse Hay suggests that the mid-back represents Guilt and stuck in the past stuff.

Lower Back; The Lower Back represents support; financial support, emotional support of family and friends, and support of God or the Universe. The Kidneys are located in this area and Kidney dysfunction results in Fear/Fright/Phobias. A sore lower back may indicate that we have taken on more than we think we can handle. This is a dysfunction, only if it is not the Truth. If we have indeed taken on too much, that would be indicated by a physical trauma to the back and all we need to do is lighten the load. Chronic low back ache, though, not associated with any trauma is the one with the Metaphysical application, and the one related to Kidney depletion. Kidneys are considered to have a central function relative to other organs since it is where Yuan Qi or our Primary Essence is stored. Yuan Qi is also known as Primary Qi or Congenital Qi. It is the Qi you are born with and determines your relative strength in the world. It is considered to be quite difficult to strengthen an already weak Yuan Qi, but it can be done. Low back pain is often diminished by strengthening the Kidneys. In short, Low back pain, generally refers to a lack of trust in the Universe to protect and support. Louise Hay suggests Fear of money is indicated.

Coccyx; The Coccyx/Sacrum is the seat of Self-pity. There is a fear of asking for help. One would rather sit and feel sorry for one’s self than get of one’s ass and do something.


Hips represent decisions in Life, especially decisions about moving forward. Pain in the hips is a sign of being ‘stuck’, unable to make a decision, or see clearly what is needed to be done next. The process of walking requires that we first thrust the hip forward and the leg etc. follows. This is actually, an act of faith on our part, since we are quite literally initiating a fall to the ground and trusting that our legs will save us. The Gallbladder Channel traverses the hip which again represents Courage and confidence to move forward. Louise Hay suggests that hip problems represent fear of going forward with major decisions. Hips represent the idea that the next step in your life is important. Pain or discomfort advises you to slow down or stop, look around, buy a map, or ask someone for directions.

Upper Thighs; Thighs are the link between the Hips & decisions, and the Knees & pride. Very often, when we have made a decision and take the next step, Pride gets in the way. “What if I look stupid? What if it’s not right? What if it doesn’t work out?” Our knees lock up or turn to jelly, and we are prevented from moving forward. The pain that begins in the Hips and shoots down the Thigh (Sciatic Nerve), is the separation from our desire and decision to move forward and our Fear of falling flat on our ass. Louse Hay suggests that Upper Thigh problems represent retaining childhood trauma.

Knees; Knees represent Pride. In spiritual practice it is suggested that one must go down before one can rise up, as Jesus did before John the Baptist, before taking up his own ministry. Pride or Ego keeps us from surrendering to the Will of God or the Universe. In practice, every time we move forward in Life or approach change, we approach the unknown. We may feel vulnerable or unsure. We may stand still, stiff kneed resisting the winds of change. It is interesting to note that stiff, sore knees are a symptom of Kidney deficiency, whose emotion is Fear. Rather than admit our fear, we resist it until it overwhelms us. While knees represent Pride, and it is said that ‘Pride goes before the fall’, knees can also represent Humility which is the wisdom to be yielding in the face of change.

Briefly, Knee problems may be said to indicate being stuck in the Ego, too proud to bend. Louise Hay also suggests that Knees represent Pride and the Ego.

Shins; The Shins represent another weak link. Although the Shins are mostly bone, the hardest substance in the body, the Shins are actually quite sensitive and brittle. A slight whack on the Shins is not only painful, it weakens the entire body and stops it cold. When we have organized ourselves to move forward, to take the next step towards the goal we have set, and are in the process of taking it, something comes along and sends you tumbling. It is something we trip over because we don’t see it, even though it is right there in front of us. In ancient times the shin pads that worriers wore were called greaves. Very often what trips us up is something, the loss of which we haven’t properly grieved. Moving forward always means something gets left behind. Interesting to note is that the three Yin channels of the foot all criss cross at Spleen 6 (Sanyinjiao), representing a confluence of Worry, Anger, and Fear. Moving forward is often marked by a jumble of emotional responses which need to be sorted out, especially if we are resisting it. Louise Hay suggests that problems are fear of the future; not wanting to move ahead.

Ankles; Ankles represent flexibility, which is important as one navigates the twists and turns of Life. Stiff, painful ankles means that change is difficult for you. Maybe you are one who digs in your heels and resists moving forward. The more Life forces change upon you, the deeper you dig in. A broken ankle is a good sign to develop some flexibility in your Life. Louise Hay suggests that ankles represent mobility and direction.

Feet; Our feet represent our connection with Mother Earth. Sore, swollen, numb or painful feet represent the state of our relation with our Mother. Mother Earth, and our base energies. While it is legs that carry us forward into Life, it is the feet that actually make contact with the ground and can stop any advance, or at least make it difficult. In modern society with its asphalt, concrete and High Rises, we lose touch with the Earth and its energies. This may be reflected in our relationship to the one who gave birth to us. Separation can cause real pain.

All the Leg Yin & Yang channels meet and flow into each other in the toes. This is an area of high energy and strong effect on the body. This is an area where strong energies are in transition, so our contact with Mothers, Mother Earth and our base energies is always ambivalent. We want to draw closer to that love, but at the same time move away on our own course.

In my experience, the feet often store toxic energies (as often to do with grief or resentments as not), as far away from the Heart as possible. This means, in the feet. Often, these are issues that go all the way back to childhood. Lacking the tools to effectively release grief or resentment the body stores it, like it stores fat. Over time, more and more toxic energies are stored here and fill up the receptacle. In many cases, the entire leg can become involved and the waste starts leaking back into the system. This is a very serious situation indeed, that can lead to amputations, blood disorders and even death, as the body struggles to protect the Heart. Metaphysically, it becomes clear that the space you are standing in is painful. The key is to move on. Stop dwelling on the past, release or transform whatever it is that keeps you emotionally standing still. Louise Hay suggests that feet represent our understanding of ourselves, of Life, and others, and toes represent minor details of the future.

Throat; The Throat represents our Will, and our ability to communicate, both with others and with ourselves. Sore throats, lumps in the throat, tumours all represent difficulties in saying what we want to say. Lumps, both physical tumours and those that are non-manifest (Hystericus Globus) are our willful attempts to block free expression of emotion and of our identity. The Throat is another one of those weak links that can seduce or sabotage you from your path. The Throat is the channel between the Head and the Heart. In Chinese Medicine it is said the Heart houses the Mind, especially in its connection with the emotion of Joy and the expression of Love for ourselves and for others. Have you ever had a great idea, gotten your body motivated, put your Heart into it, only to say something completely stupid which makes a mess of things? Have you ever felt the urge to say something complimentary and suppressed it? Have you ever just blurted out something that just seemed to by-pass the brain? How often does a careless or ill chosen word create havoc in your Life? Where this comes from is all the things you have not said over the years that get stuck in the throat, needing to get out, and out they come, one way or the other.

All emotions are designed to be expressed, even the ones we judge to be negative and especially the ones we judge to be positive. Louise Hay calls the the Throat an avenue of expression and a channel of creativity. Problems indicate an inability to speak up for one’s self, swallowed anger , stifled creativity and refusal to change. Thyroid problems indicate difficulty in analyzing, digesting and assimilating the communication between the Head and the Heart.

Chest/Breasts; The chest area represents the Feminine principal of nurturing and nourishing the connection with the ‘breath of Life’ as it flows through the Lungs. In men, pain or discomfort, not associated with any organ or vessel represents a disconnection from the Feminine principal. Breast envy, may exist in men; the desire to connect with the feminine side, the same way penis envy is said to exist in women; the desire to connect with the masculine side. In Chinese Medicine, the front is considered Yin. The chest is the confluence of the three most important kinds of Qi, that nourish the body; Zhong Qi, from the Lungs, Jing Qi, from the Spleen, and Yuan Qi from the Kidneys. Breast problems represents a denial of the Mother/feminine principal to nourish the self and to nourish others. Louise Hay suggest also that the breasts represent mothering and nurturing. Cysts, lumps etc. represents over mothering.

Solar Plexus;
Is said to the be the seat of the Ego and Individuation. Some call this the Negative Ego. In general this area represents the conflicts in your life. Pain or discomfort in the Diaphragm area represents unresolved conflicts. In Chinese Medicine, pain in this area indicates Liver Qi Stagnation, usually associated with Anger.

Stomach; The stomach represents digestion, not only of food and physical nutrients, but of new ideas, new ways of doing things, and accepting change of any kind. The Stomach is nothing more than a big flexible bag of muscle whose job it is to ripen and rot whatever is put into it. That is, its job is to break down what is put into it into a form that the body can deal with. This it does by adding Hydrochloric Acid, Hormones, Enzymes and Bile which reduces every sold morsel into an undifferentiated mass called Chyme. Simultaneously it rocks back and forth swishing and swilling this mess until it is liquefied and able to pass through the small Pyloric Valve into the Small Intestine where the actual absorption of nutrients mostly takes place. Metaphysically, when we come upon a new idea or a new way of doing things, the process is similar. First we must swallow the idea, either whole or in handy bite sized morsels, break it down into a form we can handle and finally absorb that which we need to nourish ourselves. In the same way that a bad diet poisons the body, toxic ideas, suppressed emotions and resistance to change can have a poisoning effect. In traditional Chinese Medicine, long standing emotional disharmony is seen as a primary cause of disease. Strengthening the Spleen/Stomach which between them are responsible for transforming food and water into Qi, and transporting it throughout the body, is seen as a key strategy to deal with almost any disease. Metaphysically we need to nourish ourselves every day, just as we need to eat nourishing foods. Just as the physical body needs nourishment to grow and carry on its day to day activities, so do the Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual bodies. Metaphysically, ‘wellness’ is not accomplished by a change in diet alone. Louise Hay suggests that the stomach holds nourishment, digests ideas. Problems indicate dread, fear of the new, and an inability to assimilate the new.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

3 Breathing Techniques for Instant Relaxation

Article c/o Fractal Enlightenment

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

For many of us, breathing is just an automatic function to bring in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, what we don’t realize is that breathing in a constricted manner from the chest, also known as shallow breathing, can increase our stress and anxiety levels.

The true nature of breath does not only lie in the fact that it’s responsible for life, but also, that it defines the quality of our life. David Coutler in the book, Anatomy of Hatha Yoga said, “the breath is the link between mind and body, and that if we can control our breath, we can control every aspect of our being.”

The ideal way of breathing is to form a loop of exhalation and inhalation without jerking, stopping or pausing in between, known as abdominal breathing or diaphragmatic breathing. But adults often lose touch with their natural flow of breath, thus limiting the functions of a diaphragm and reducing air supply in the lowest part of the lungs.

The irony is that a flat stomach is appreciated in today’s world, but the significance of the right way of breathing is ignored. More so, the daily stress and tension due to work, family, competition etc., increases the chances of shallow breathing by manifolds.

How do we breakthrough from this cyclical pattern of shallow breathing leading to tension and vice-a-versa? A full breath that allows deeper transfusion of oxygen in the body and even deeper exhalation for removal of the toxins out of the system, seems to be the key in this situation. Here are some simple breathing exercises to improve your mental and emotional state, and help you to manage stress and anxiety.

Supine Abdominal Breathing
This breathing exercise will be helpful to determine the way you breath – chest or abdominal. Come in corpse posture, place your left hand on the center of the abdomen and the right hand on the chest.
You can also fold your legs, if needed, to support your back further. Now, take normal breaths and watch which hand is moving towards the ceiling and which hand is more stationary. If your left hand is moving continuously while the right hand is stationary (or moving very less), then you are on the right track. On the other hand, if it is the other way round, you are breathing in a constricted manner.

Nevertheless, the situation can be rectified by simply trying to breathe from the abdomen, where the left hand is moving up and down, and right is stationary. The inhalation requires less effort and the exhalation is relaxed and fluid.

Stay in this posture with closed eyes for a few minutes and just focus on the breath. This is bound to stimulate the autonomous system, slowing the heart and lowering your blood pressure. Furthermore, it will reduce stress and anxiety immediately, leaving you calmer and relaxed. Trying to sleep while practicing supine abdominal breathing, is yet another way to incorporate the practice of ideal breathing habits in our daily lives.

Sandbag breathing
The dome-shaped muscles underneath the rib cage, Diaphragm, plays a significant role in breathing efficiently. But to experience the movement of the diaphragm can be a bit tricky. Lie in corpse position and place a prop like sandbag, book or block, weighing 3 to 15 pounds on the diaphragm. Ensure that the chest is not moving and the weight of the prop is light enough to easily push the stomach towards the ceiling while inhaling.

You will notice the extra effort required in inhalation and a more controlled exhalation. In addition to allowing the practitioner to get in touch with the functioning of the diaphragm and generating a greater sense of the organ, this exercise also strengthens the muscles. Keep observing the natural flow of the breath and slip into deep relaxation. Ensure that the prop is going up with the motion of the diaphragm and not by protruding the belly out.

When extra weight is put on the diaphragm, it pushes the abdominal wall further inside. Sarah Novtony and Len Kravitz, PH.D. in the article The Science of Breathing, said “investigations have demonstrated that slow breathing & pranayama breathing techniques activate the parasympathetic (inhibitory) nervous system, thus slowing certain physiological processes down that may be functioning too fast or conflicting with the homeostasis of the cells (Jerath et al., 2006).”

Upright Elliptical Breathing
“Breath is the king of mind.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga

While we are sitting and breathing, the two most vital points in the cycle of breath is the transition between inhalation and exhalation, and the other between exhalation and inhalation. This is the time when the breath is more likely to become uneven. A complete breath is one where the abdomen rises on the inhale and merges with the fall in the act of exhalation and rises back up without any pause.
Imagine a Ferris wheel, notice the movement, the start and end of the loop is difficult to gauge. It only stops or jerks when someone has to get off. Consider your breathing to be like the movement of this Ferris feel. The inhalation will merge with exhalation and vice-a-versa, making a circular pattern. When we keep imagining the movement, it would be easier to follow this pattern while breathing.
As the wheel goes up, inhale, and as it comes down, exhale. Continue this for at least 5 to 7 minutes or more if possible. What we want from relaxed breathing is no jerks, just a sensation that you are making a transition both ways.

The pattern of the normal breath is elliptical and not circular, but for a beginner, this exercise proves to be very helpful, relaxing the mind instantly. The idea is to create a sense of flow, the rest would fall into place gradually.

The compulsive chest breathers would often find themselves exhaling less and breathing in more, for the simple reason that they will always be short of breath. So they would want to hold on to inhalation all the more. The same attitude is also reflected in their life, where they lack the ability to let go.

A sure shot and the simplest way to have a good quality breath is to breathe in a 2:1 ratio, i.e. exhalation will be twice in comparison to inhalation. A three second inhalation would require a six second exhalation. Remember not to overdo things as it can be harmful and will aggravate your stress levels. Some of the other ways to practice relaxed breathing are: Bellows breath and Alternate Nostril Breathing.

Breath is the most important requirement for us to be alive. Therefore bad breathing habits, even though go on for 24 hours, can be changed for good.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Our Incredible Journey, We Made It! Hiking 540 miles from France to Spain in 35 days...

As you know, my husband Chris Constand and I, co-owners of Transcend Mind-Body Counseling Center in Fairfield (www.transcendct.com), embarked on El Camino de Santiago, a 35-day, 540-mile journey from France to Spain.  Thank you for sharing in our pictorial journal over the past month.

We did it! Limits were tested, pushed and transcended! 😊❤️

And so this ends! Time for a new beginning!