Finished… but not done yet!

Finished. Completed. Concluded. All A’s.
The more I learn, the more I want to share this potentially life changing information. I will continue learning and I will do my best to share what I’ve learned.

I will receive the degree of Master of Science in Health Sciences in Integrative Medicine from the George Washington University. The curriculum I completed represents the most progressive, scientifically rigorous and forward thinking platform for medical wellness. However, I do not have a license to practice medicine. Wellness doesn’t have to be pharmaceutical, surgical or even invasive but rather, wellness is lifestyle based!

Medical wellness. Think about that. Not medical illness but actual wellness. I have been amazed and fascinated by how much research and evidence exists to support the need for lifestyle interventions in order to maximize wellness. Think about these statements and see if either of them resonate with you.

I’m no more stressed than normal.
I feel fine but I could feel better.
Well, let me tell you…
Stress shouldn’t be normal and why don’t you feel better? 

The practice and science of maximizing wellness involves understanding the underlying mechanisms and biochemistry that fuel human cell growth and function. I now get how and why we study genetics, that human metabolism is more than burning calories and that proteins are the building blocks and directions for how we continue to maintain wellness. I get that nutrition is the primary way we fuel our bodies but nutrition also builds or breaks us down. We all have different chemistry and even biology so the right food for one person isn’t the same as for the next person. I know why exercise is necessary for the body’s health, not just weight management. But can you define exercise? Organic food is more than a fad and more than nutrition, it is about preventing toxins from entering the body. Supplements can help you find balance in the body’s systems augmenting what may be missing or lowering what is high.

Physicians, acupuncturists, nurses and nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, chiropractors, naturopaths, yoga teachers, meditation instructors, energy healers, Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors, Ayurvedic practitioners and other healers all have a role in integrating care for patients. Use what you and your practitioners believe will work for maximum healing! Follow the evidence, from traditions and history through to allopathic western medical research. Use the integration of body systems as well as healing systems to maximize wellness! How do I fit into all these practitioners? I am a health educator. I can help you sort through the evidence from your own life, current research and ancient traditions.

The practice of Integrative Medicine often feels like a game of hide and seek, looking for the hiding causes of symptoms and the evidence that directs you to improvement. Looking and questioning isn’t medical but requires awareness and knowledge. How you live your life has an effect on how you feel your body, the clarity of your thoughts, the efficiency of your digestion and the beating of your heart. When stress, unhealthy food choices or things like a sedentary life can be changed, why NOT? There are so many causes that have negative effects on the body and mind however, for every negative, we can change our behavior and lifestyle to effect positive changes and maximize wellness.

I’m not done learning or making my own lifestyle changes. I feel GREAT everyday knowing that I am proactively choosing to maximize my personal wellness and am helping those around me do the same. Movement. Meditation. Spiritual practice. Healthy cooking and consumption. Infrared Sauna. A few supplements. I choose these steps to help me feel strong and vibrant.

My spiritual practice has brought me to an awareness of Karma. There is an element of Karma that is conscious and often moves to unconscious positive choices. I consciously make decisions that are selfless however many decisions that appear selfish are really in oder to prepare my mind and body to serve others. As healthy decisions become healthy habits, my efforts toward positive health become automatic. Karma is a path of action. What you do matters and all actions have consequences, both positive and negative. I want Amazing Karma and amazing results. Do you?

While I might be finished with this degree, I’m still working to balance the Universal laws of cause and effect in order to maximize wellness. Amazing Karma, my friends. Come and get it… but know you’ve gotta work for it! I will be teaching health classes and doing one-on-one sessions at JOURNEYoga in order to help you find your Amazing Karma and balance your causes and effects.

Do Something!

It’s time to learn about yourself and how to maximize wellness.
Balance the laws of cause and effect!

Vacation Mentality

Vacation is a State of Mind

I found myself in the final month of a master’s degree in Integrative Medicine, doing biostatistics with this view… on vacation in Mexico. Now, this is an obnoxious statement and I implore you to not judge me, but I was a little angry with my husband for planning a major vacation 3 weeks before the end of school. Why couldn’t he wait three weeks for me to be done with school and REALLY take a vacation?

  1. I love my husband.
  2. I love learning.
  3. I love vacation.

So what was the problem? When I miss the signs from the Universe, it wacks me in the head with a 2×4. People keep asking, “What are you going to do next? What are you going to do with your degree?” I have bajillions of ideas and things I want to do and people I want to reconnect with. Plans are being made and I am beginning to put ideas into action assuring I can fill the extra 25-40 hours a week that are coming to me when school is over…

AND WACK!!!!
Vacation was the 2×4 to the head. The Universe tossed me an amazing opportunity! Thank you husband for being an agent of Universal wisdom. Thank you for the vacation.

What I learned on vacation is that I need to take some vacation mentality with me through time. The subtle sign from the Universe that I’ve been missing is that it’s important to make space. On vacation, I found it easier to concentrate and comprehend the content for school. I actually enjoyed biostatistics?!?! When I do less, I do everything better. I need to leave time in the day to be still and easy. I need to find more time to be creative and connect with nature (the beach and ocean are beyond the pool here). I need to do less.

Think about it

What can you let go of? How can you make space?

 

Bones don’t move themselves!

Every movement you make is comprised of a varying degree of consciousness mixed with automatic anatomical functions in the body.

When you choose where you want to move the body, an automatic anatomical function is activated. Reciprocal inhibition is a process where one muscle contracts signaling its muscle pair on the same joint to release. This creates a give and go in the muscles of the body creating smooth and controlled movements. This is the body acting without consciousness.

When you engage movement consciously, precision of movement can be accomplished. Bringing your conscious attention to a movement can augment the powerful action of reciprocal inhibition creating more control through strength as well as greater flexibility in the release.

Yoga is a process of finding union. Mind and body is just one form of union in the practice of yoga.

Think about it

Think before you move!

Meditation Matters

Meditation Mumbo-Jumbo…documented with Science!

MRI’s show change in grey matter density with as little as 8 weeks of practice. EEG’s track brain activity during meditation showing what areas are enliven by meditation and which are calmed. Studies are reproduced with similar results all over the world. Double blind research studies as well as comparative effectiveness and epidemiological studies agree that mediation offers profound benefits for the body and mind. While science is able to show benefits and some explanations, the spiritual connections that can be made during meditation are still left as individual to the meditator and not included as components of modern research. I’m choosing to use easy access resources instead of scientific journals to ease you all into the science. If you want the hard stuff of the NCBI, let me know!

Meditation can change your brain.

  • Meditation improves processing of thoughts, new information and sensory input.
  • Meditation increases your capacity for compassion & empathy
  • Meditation reduces stress & fear
  • Meditation improves sense of self

Read more
Chopra Center
Harvard Gazette

Meditation changes your body.

  • Reduces Chronic Pain
  • Improves many digestive challenges like IBS.
  • Improves Immune Function
  • Increases Heart Rate Variability

Learn more
Scientific American (interesting videos) –
Harvard Gazette (different than previous article)

There is no one correct way to meditate, rather many different techniques with various results.

  • Using breath connections
  • Mantras
  • Mindfulness
  • Trancendental
  • Body Scans
  • Loving-Kindess
  • Spiritual Connections
  • Counting and number work

This list could go on forever. How can you choose the best style of meditation for your needs? It often takes a teacher and sometimes a group to begin your meditation practice. Take classes with different teachers and learn many techniques, paying attention to your responses. Be open to what is working, and if it is not, return your mind to a technique of meditation that has offered you a sense of calm and focus in the past.

Learn more:
Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley

Meditation is not as simple as sitting still and quiet however that is a fantastic start. We at JOURNEYoga believe it is a powerful tool of transformation and is a possibility for everyone. Start or continue your JOURNEY to better health, less stress and and more meaningful connections!

Do Something!
Sit down. Shut up. And Breath…. if it were only that easy.
Maybe sign up for a class at JOURNEYoga instead.

Manifestation: How do you get where you want to be?

How do you get from before to after? How do you move from consciousness into action? How do you get the results you are seeking in life? Why does your brain settle on some thoughts more than others? Why move from what was, to what is, much less imagine what could be?

Purusha and Prakriti are Vedic/Upanishadic concepts of consciousness and turning your consciousness into action/result. Discussing this in a yoga class or two, I’ve been asked to simplify the idea. It think the secret lands in the word manifestation… and a connection to my previous blog post. It’s complicated. But does it have to be?

Purusha is consciousness, including the divine collective consciousness. Complicated.
Prakriti is the cosmic energy that exists within all matter. Complicated.
Manifestation is the actuation of your thoughts and efforts into a tangible awareness or even an object. Complicated.

Now… use your connection to purusha to manifest the prakriti you desire. Mind bogglingly complicated.

Without the fancy language, there are a few steps to follow.
1. Discern what you really want in life by sorting through your thoughts and setting goals. Those goals should read as positive affirmations.

Now, this is the tough part. . .

2. Separate your efforts from the results of those efforts. When the right effort is put forth, results occur. There is no difference. The only way to control the result, is to control the effort you put forth. Release connection to the result. Completely. Like I said, this is the hard part.

Keep your mind focused and continue making the “right” effort.

3. Wait. Change will come and you will have manifested exactly what you asked for through conscious effort!

Let me offer a few examples:
You make a grocery list (conscious goals set). You are hungry as you enter the grocery store and while you may pick up some fresh produce and protein, keeping your goals in tact, but you also pick up some potato chips for the drive home. While you made a list, it wasn’t super focused. Refining consciousness includes defining goals. The goal was really to purchase healthy food to nourish the body. So it wasn’t the effort that went astray, it was a lack of conscious refinement.

You need to stop dating needy people. How do you consciously define your dating goal? “I don’t want needy people” still associates the mind with what you do NOT want and likely the effort will still remain on needy people and therefore you efforts will lead you right back to needy people. Set the conscious goal on a positive statement. “I will fill my life will giving, happy people.” When your consciousness perceives something other than giving and happy, it can dismiss what does not meet the expectation. You may find new friends that fill your need for community instead of a date… what is the real reason you are dating?

It’s time to change jobs. You are in an interview and asked why you are looking for a new job. Don’t tell them what’s wrong with your current job. State the positive qualities you are looking for: challenging, collaborative, creative, flexible etc. If you are simply looking for something different, you might jump from the fire into a boiling pot! Be specific and keep your thoughts focused and effort on the path YOU determined.

Even more powerful, is aligning your consciousness and goals on the collective, the diving energy, true Purusha. The divine is a giving, loving, energizing, omnipresent force. Your efforts to align with the divine, result in a truly blessed life!

Do Something!

Define your life goals.
Commit to the continued effort of staying on target.
Then wait for it….
Because the results will MANIFEST.

It’s Complicated…. but does it need to be?

Today I was approaching a closed door and I looked down at my keychain filled with various sizes and shapes of keys, a fob and a clicker for my car. Which key or device might possibly open THIS door? The answer is…. the door knob. There was no lock or device. I was making things WAY more complicated than it needed to be. Just open the door.

At the computer, I was trying to embed a .pdf into a webpage. I really wanted to use the document in front on me to inform students about our infrared sauna. After using a widget maker and figuring out how to embed the code from the widget, I didn’t like how the information presented. Then I remembered this thing called “copy and paste”.  So I copied the content and pasted it into the website. Why was I making it so complicated? (See finished web page)

Think about it

What are your true goals?
How do you stay focused on your goals and find simple solutions?
Just open the door.
Let go of the struggle.

Game ON

Ardha utanasanaGame on!
This is my new screen saver.
My game face.
Personal accountability.
Can I look myself in my face everyday?
Am I doing all I can do?
Am I living the life I preach?
Game on!
Think about it
Can YOU look yourself in the face everyday and know you are doing all you can do?

Helping Hands

Helping Hands 2
While I was in my amazing home, warm and safe from the blizzard, I had some irrational thoughts about the absence of love in my life. My husband was working out of the country as the snow fell and the shoveling began. Momentarily, I felt alone and helpless. But that feeling quickly faded.

In this image, the first and most obvious helping hands I see are my own. In this bind, the connection of hands work together to stretch opposing muscles shows an obvious form of help. My own hands and body are amazingly healthy and strong. I can help myself.

Some amazing friends appeared, like snow angels, and we all shoveled, laughed, ate, and shared space, energy and joy. Kevin was among these friends, and he took this picture. I never could’ve taken this image myself, nor could I have shaken the sense of lonely so quickly without these amazing people. They surely offered me their helping hands.

If you look closely in this image, you see sun and snow. Our connection to Mother Earth should not be denied. Through a blizzard, she slowed the city down enough to get people out of their work lives and into their communities. I have  heard and experienced amazing stories of neighbors helping neighbors and friends helping friends. Mother Earth may be sneaky, but her results are clear. She helped us to remember that people are good and willing to help each other.

My husband is an amazing human and a phenomenal source of love. From a distance, he listened to me complain and offered solutions to snow challenges (including using a blow torch over a shovel)! From a distance, he still offered help… and I see a reminder of his help on my hand. My wedding band in the center of this image cannot be denied as constant help and support.

Thank you for all the help I’ve received in my life.
Thank you for an amazing weekend.
Thank you for your patience with mother earth.

Do Something!
Do you need to help yourself or can you offer help to others?

It’s just a process: The Mandala

I haven’t written in a while. It’s not been a lack of inspiration or even time. I’ve just been going through a process. It feels like life is changing and I bounce between feeling in control and feeling purely like a witness as life swirls around me. As I sit to write, I cannot pinpoint one single idea to articulate as EVERYTHING seems possible and tangible and yet, just a finger tip away…

TODAY, September 21st, is the real 8 year anniversary of JOURNEYoga. I claim to be the owner, but JOURNEYoga is about the people and community. It does not feel good call myself the owner as I do not own the people so I will take the title “Fearless Leader”. On Saturday we created a mandala as a community however in the end, the community encouraged me to be the destroyer. In the moment, it was exciting and fun and a total rush to step into the mandala, and in reflection it was a great honor. How did the community know that I needed to have a ritual destruction? It is time to move forward!

The Mandala as representation of life:

It changes as we build it.
We change as it grows.
Brahma

There it is.
Pretty and clean.
Vishnu

Until we step into the fire.
And it changes again.
Shiva

Opportunity now that the slate is clean again.
What comes next?

Free Will. Choice. Change. Consciousness. Nothing. Everything.

And on a professional note of gratitude, Thank you to Girish for the song, Mahadeva. I used it without his permission and hope that I have his forgiveness. It is a chant to Shiva, destruction, and the great power for change in the face of fear that lives within all of us. After the destruction, shankara remains…. a peaceful state.

And to Melissa who designed and organized the mandala event!

Yoda? No, that’s my Dad!

Sanyama: Perceive. Believe. Become.

How old were you, when you began to see the wisdom of your father’s words? And I do mean your dad. The one who raised you and said things that you challenged…I’m certain I was more than 25 when my dad’s wisdom became accessible.

My father

This is the night “yogurt” became “yoda.” That is Yoga to the rest of us…

“And what did you learn from this?” Became a reflection instead of a punishment.

“You are who you hang around.” Altered to be more about my conscious choosing of friends than him not liking my boyfriend.

“Perceive. Believe. Become.” Stopped being a pep talk and has turned into a way of life.

In the 8 Fold Path of Patanjali, the final three steps, when practiced together, are called Sanyama.  Concentration (Dharyana), Meditation (Dyana) and Samadi (Samadi). I really struggle to place a single word translation to Samadi and think it is best described through the complete practice of Sanyama. Some people translate Samadi as bliss but that even takes explanation.

Concentration requires you to place your thought patterns somewhere and work to keep them there.  If you are writing a thank you note to your friend, your concentration is on gratitude and word choice.  Keep your conscious mind focused.

Meditation takes concentration one step further. If your conscious mind is focused without distractions, you can alter your state of consciousness and enter meditation.  Here, the object of the mind’s concentration, gratitude for your friend, is managed by the brain in a totally different way and assimilated deeper into the meditator’s belief system.

Samadi is when the object of concentration, has become the meditation and you reawaken the conscious mind with a new, deep, and profound knowledge. By concentrating and meditating, the brain has changed, allowing you to become the object of your meditation, more grateful for your friend.

Oh Dad. Look at this. My Yogurt… I mean Yoda…. I mean Yoga is a lesson you taught me!

Perceive – Concentrate
Believe – Meditate
Become – Samadi

I concentrate on the love I have for my father. I meditate on the love I have for my father. After meditation, I know and feel how much I love my father. This is Sanyama.

Think about it

Even without the vocabulary of Sanyama, my papa’s theory of perceive, believe, become works.

Perceive you are weak. You will believe you are weak. You will become weaker.
OR
Perceive your strengths. Believe in your strengths. And become as strong as you can be!