Journal

Whats in Season in July? Foods to buy and a recipe to try

Wild Garlic may be discovered growing locally. Have you tried making a pesto? The leaves can be used to wrap foods too including rice and fish

Whats new in July?

Are you someone who like to shop and eat seasonally?

I am, and with lockdown and food restrictions shopping for foods that are in season and locally sourced just makes sense.

In Ayurvedic medicine the idea of combining all six tastes means that you get a good variety and your tastebuds are left zinging. Check out this fun quiz to find our your dosha: There are six tastes to discover.

Salty, pungent, sweet, sour, bitter and astringent all form the basis to a healthy and varied diet. And by eating seasonally nature provides all you need to maintain great health, whilst supporting the planet by reducing air miles and pollution.

Following the seasons keeps us in rhythm with nature. Our body desires cooling foods in the heat and warming heavier foods through winter. 

Here are some suggestions to what’s in season in early July and what to look out for on your next grocery shop. All suggestions are grown in the UK so no air miles either! 

Broadbeans, Beetroots, Cucumbers, Carrots, Cucumbers to pickle to make gherkins, Kohlrabi – Green, Purple, Peas, Potatoes including violet potatoes grown in Cornwall and Jersey Royals, Radish, Beetroots big and small for salads and soups, Tomatoes you can grow easily at home

Wild mushrooms  – Ceps and Girolles. It’s a short season but worth the wait and I treat them as a treat. And Marsh Samphire from the coast full of minerals and iodine which helps balance the thyroid

Herbs include Fennel, Rosemary, Chamomile, Sage, Basil and Lemon Verbena all these make great infusions by adding a few leaves and steeping in hot water or use them liberally to season a salad or summer soup. You can grow these in pots or in the garden.

And Berries galore check out Blackberry, Gooseberry, Jostaberry, Raspberry, Strawberries all abundant and available throughout the month. These juicy high nutrient fruits are wonderful for heart health and packed with Vitamins and minerals.  And not forgetting Currants – Black, Red, White all grown and harvested In the UK.

Later this month look out for local garlic and wild garlic leaves, lettuces and rhubarb. If you like nuts look out for walnut trees as this is the time to harvest 

I rarely follow recipes. I imagine what tastes and combines well and usually it is good. I often decide what to prepare by looking at what’s in the fridge rather than going shopping for a specific item. If you do like recipes then be creative and use what is available locally rather than sticking rigidly to a plan. Substitutions are definitely to be encouraged. Cooking is creative as well as nurturing. Make it a joy rather than a chore and what you prepare will taste better!

Mel’s recipe  A simple seasonal recipe for delicious dining 

Beetroot salad with walnuts and fennel

Cook the beetroot (or buy already packaged). Slice the fennel into long strips (you can roast the fennel if you prefer) in a hot oven with olive oil for 20mins. Combine the beetroot and fennel 

Dressing Lemon juice, olive oil, pinch salt, green and pink peppercorns crushed coriander seeds also crushed. Dress and top with the walnuts 

You can add potatoes too and I would add lots of crushed black peppercorns here 

I’d love to hear from you. Share a favourite recipe and add to the list above

Send recipes, or tips on wild foraging. Ideas and creative ways to cook. Support our local shops and growers. Make preparing food a ritual and enjoy creating dishes that are locally sources and inspired by you

Mel Sutton is a Yoga & Meditation teacher and a Health Coach working and living in SE London. Before working in health she spend some years working in restaurants where her love of food and service was developed.

The healing power of trees

Whatever your passion slow down and capture the healing power of being in nature

The Healing Power of Trees

Next time you walk past a tree I’d like you to stop and observe its beauty. 

Perhaps it has an amazing bark, show stopping flowers or the colours and smells may draw your attention. Whatever draws you I can guarantee that it has been used for healing and health for thousands of years.

I have been using Bach flower essences for over 30 years, for physical healing and emotional relief from symptoms that cause disease and imbalances in our energy system. In this article I have chosen eleven essences all from trees to assist you back to optimal health

A little background 

Trees have been used in healing for thousands of years. The Egyptians are attributed with being the first to use flower essences for healing and maintaining health. They would gather dew from flowers at dawn using this as an essence to restore homeostasis and health.

Trees have stood as sentinels, wise yet silent, patiently accumulating their rings while the storms of history have raged around them.They carry a memory of the past and contain a potency to heal mind body and soul.

Trees and humankind have always had a symbiotic relationship. They provide their fruits, leaves, flowers and roots for food and medicine.

Join one of our walks at the Urban Tree Festival 16 – 24th May

Many of today’s pharmaceuticals are derived from trees. Aspirin comes from willow bark; yews are the source of Taxol, used in the treatment of some cancers; ginkgo biloba improves circulation; tea tree oil is beneficial for skin infections; cinchona tree bark contains quinine, the basis of many anti-malarial drugs; and Pycnogenol, which protects against deep vein thrombosis, is made from pine tree bark. 

Many herbal medicine comes from trees. Think feverfew for colds and raised temperatures and Ginko Biloba for memory loss. Chaste tree commonly known as Agnus Cactus has been used effectively to balance female hormones PMS and irritability due to its effect of balancing oestrogen and increasing dipping progesterone levels.

Healing powers of flower essences

One of the great names in the field of vibrational healing and essences mede form flowers and trees was Edward Bach. He bought flower essences as a healing modality to the attention of the medical establishment in the 1930’s. 

A medical doctor, Dr Bach began to case study the healing effects of the flower’s essence, which he had had discovered like the Egyptians while collecting dew drops from plants and trees at dawn. Theorising that such drops contained the energy pattern or signature of the plant from which it was derived, he further supposed that when ingested, the essence of the plant would match the vibrational patterns stored within the genetic storehouse of the person. 

From these observations came the Bach Flower Remedies.

So how do flower essences work?  

In Dr Bach’s own words “they occur by flooding our bodies with beautiful vibrations of Higher Nature which melt dis-ease like snow in the sunshine.” 

Dr. Bach’s theory is that we are born perfect, however, the stress of life allows for the build up of defences and unhealthy patterns as a means to cope with life’s hardships. These behaviours and thought patterns pull the individual out of alignment with spirit. Distress at the level of spirit is translated into physical dis-ease. 

Bach saw dis-ease as a way that our spirit tells us how our attitudes or behaviours are getting in the way of our health. 

Unhealthy emotional patterns can cause tension within the body and tightness in the muscles, which, in time, block the natural flow of joy in our bodies causing an eventual breakdown of immunity and harmony. 

The Flower Essences fill our auras with the vibrations they contain and so help loosen energy blockages that keep us from vibrating at our natural frequency of health and well being.

He concluded throughout his years of study that humans, like plants and flowers, contain different vibrations, patterns, and energy fields that respond positively to an individualised healing plan from which to restore optimum health. 

He concluded that the healer must individually address the varying characteristics, moods, fears, and beliefs of each patient in order to assist him or her back into a balanced and healed state.

Quick guide to the healing power of flower essences

A quick guide to eleven common essences 

Elm Capable people, with responsibility, who falter, temporarily overwhelmed 

Oak Persevering, despite difficulties, strong, patient never giving in 

Olive Exhausted, no more strength, need physical and mental renewal 

Aspen Vague, unknown, haunting apprehension and premonitions

Holly Jealousy, envy, revenge, anger, suspicion

Hornbeam Feels weary and thinks can’t cope 

Pine Self critical, self reproach, assuming blame, apologetic

Red Chestnut Worry for others, anticipating misfortune, projecting worry

Walnut Protection from outside influences. Use for change and the stages of development 

White Chestnut Unresolved circling thoughts

Willow Dissatisfied, bitter, resentful, life is unfair 

For more information on the essences  www.healingherbs.co.uk

The UTF team would like to thank the Twelve Healers Trust for their support of the festival.

Mel is a co founder of the U.T.F and runs her own company specialising in natural health. If you would like a consultation with Mel please get in touch or join one of her meditation groups.

www.naturalhealthwithmel.co.uk

How trees are a great leveller

Looking for a simple way to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and maybe improve your memory? Why not take a walk in the woods?.

Your brain and nature

Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.

It’s not clear exactly why outdoor excursions have such a positive mental effect. Yet, in a 2015 study, researchers compared the brain activity of healthy people after they walked for 90 minutes in either a natural setting or an urban one. They found that those who did a nature walk had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is active during rumination — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.When people are depressed or under high levels of stress, this part of the brain malfunctions, and people experience a continuous loop of negative thoughts.

And digging a bit deeper, it appears that interacting with natural spaces offers many therapeutic benefits. For instance, calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body’s fight-or-flight response.

The visual aspects of nature can also have a soothing and uplifting effect. Having something pleasant to focus on like trees and greenery helps distract your mind from negative thinking, so your thoughts become less filled with worry. There is a wonderful Yoga mantra, “where the mind goes energy follows”. Next time you have unwanted thoughts consciously shift your thinking to something else and its likely that the negative thought will have subsided. Observing trees is a great focus for the mind. Lets call it a positive distraction.

Find your space

How much time with nature is enough? Research is saying anything from 20 to 30 minutes, three days a week, to regular three-day weekends in the woods is can be a positive change in lifestyle . The point is to make your interactions a part of your normal day and set realistic goals. Make it achievable and a part of your daily routine.

Your time with nature could be something as simple as a daily walk in a park or a Saturday afternoon on a local trail. You can even try to combine your nature outings with your regular exercise by power walking or cycling outdoors. Any amount of time spent outdoors will benefit you health

We are so blessed living in London to have so many varied street trees. Rather than walking around with your head down take time to look up, observe the effect that trees have on your wellbeing. Of course you can always join Paul Wood (yes that’s his real name) on one of his walks to learn more too!

The type of nature setting doesn’t matter, either. Focus on places you find the most pleasing. The goal is to get away from stimulating urban settings and surround yourself with a natural environment.

And don’t feel you have to go it alone. A 2014 study found that group nature walks were just as effective as solo treks in terms of lowering depression and stress and improving overall mental outlook.

I have worked with groups who had recently experienced stressful life events like a serious illness, death of a loved one, or unemployment. They often had the greatest mental boost from a group nature outing. Nature can have a powerful effect on our mental state.

We encourage you to spend time in nature and with the trees.

At the UTF we have lots of activities to encourage you to be outdoors. From guided walks and an outdoor choir, meditation and finding your creativity through drawing and painting with local artists.

I find trees sacred and humbling. Living near Greenwich Park I often visit a favourite tree. There is something majestic and deeply connecting to Mother Earth. When I’m looking for creative inspiration or wanting to solve a problem it is the trees that often turn to for wisdom and inspiration.

Working in natural health I use many remedies and flower essences from trees. The Bach flower essences are made in the UK and use many indigenous trees. They are a vibrational healing and like homeopathy work in the Paracelsus principle of “like cures like”

Trees calm and connect us to something greater that just our perceived physical reality. We experience their benefits by being amongst them more that intellectualising them. Without our trees we loose a connection to spirit and to something greater than just what is.

So take a breath in feel your chest opening, your ribcage expanding. Visualise a favourite tree. As you take the time to be still notice through the silence you are creating a deeper sense of who you are and how connected we all are to each other and our planet earth.

Start here! 5 Meditation styles for beginners

Beginning a meditation practice can be both exciting and intimidating. If you asked 10 different people what style of meditation they practice, you might get 10 different answers. It’s common to feel overwhelmed and uncertain as to where or how to get started with meditating.

The best way to begin is to familiarise yourself with some of the different types of meditation to see what resonates with you. Here are a few of the more common styles that are great for beginners.

Guided Meditation

Guided meditations have become increasingly popular in the past few years. Guided meditation is a more simple form of meditation as it is led by someone else, either in person or via a recording, that will usually (although, not always) have a theme and relaxing music playing in the background. Guided meditations generally last anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the purpose or theme, and they come in all styles—including healing, manifesting, and going within to find your purpose. Because guided meditations are led by another person, this style of meditation is great for beginners and those who may struggle with sitting still for more than just a few minutes at a time. They are also beneficial if you would like to enhance your existing practice or focus your energy and attention on a specific outcome. 

If you are interested in this type of meditation, check out Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Experience, an online program where participants are sent a new recording of a guided meditation each day. You can also download a guided meditation app on your smartphone, like Insight Timer.

Another option is to see if there are any guided meditations being offered in your community where you can go to meditate with like-minded individuals. Many yoga studios and wellness centers offer daily guided meditations, which can be a great way to ease into your meditative practice.

Visualisation Meditation

Visualisation meditation is a powerful way to use the mind to influence the body and can also be an empowering way to manifest desired outcomes in your life. What we place our attention on grows stronger and what we take our attention away from will begin to diminish. The unconscious mind is extremely powerful and it works very well with imagery.

One common visualisation practice is centered around health. By visualizing your body-mind as being healthy, vibrant, and energized—or grounded, peaceful, and calm—you can begin to elicit these things both mentally and physically. Another approach is using visual imagery for creative purposes. By constructing an image in your mind of what your life might look like after having accomplished a goal and really seeing yourself having already achieved it is a way to begin living in ways that support the manifestation of your desired outcome.

To meditate using visual imagery, practice the following:

  1. Identify your desired outcome. For example, do you wish to feel more grounded and at peace in your mind and emotions? Or would you like to envision your physical body as being healthy, vibrant, and strong? Or are you longing to create art, write poetry, be in a new relationship, or travel abroad?
  2. Create an internal representation of what this looks, sounds, and feels like. Make it as real and as compelling as possible.
  3. Enter into a meditative state by relaxing and taking some deep breaths and then bring the image into your awareness. Associate yourself into the picture by stepping inside it and feeling as if it has already happened.
  4. When it’s time to come out of meditation, simply allow the image to fade off into the distance and relinquish any attachment to the outcome.
  5. Meditate in this fashion anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes each day.

Japa or Mantra-Based Meditation

Japa meditation is a mantra-based meditation path that is one of the oldest, most revered classical techniques known today. The word “mantra” translates to mind vehicle or mind instrument. Japa meditation has the practitioner repeating a word or phrase for the duration of the meditation, with the mantra being the focal point throughout. This is the style of meditation I practice and teach.

During the practice, whenever you drift away from the mantra to other thoughts, sounds, or physical sensations, you simply guide your focus back to the repetition of the mantra. Think of it as a dance back and forth between mantra and thought. Some mantras have a specific meaning and it’s said that by repeating the mantra, you are connecting to the energetic essence of its intention. Other mantras purposely have no meaning and are designed to help access deeper levels of silence. In this approach, eventually, the mantra and thoughts will cancel one another out. When this happens, your conscious awareness transcends the busyness of the mind and reaches higher states of consciousness.

Popular styles of mantra-based meditation are Primordial Sound Meditation which I trained to teach and the age-old practice of the So Hum meditation. Both of these practices are easily learned in person or online for your convenience. Here at Natural health with Mel we run a weekly meditation circle on a Thursday using mantra based meditation as our practice. Do join us in Greenwich South East London.

Loving-Kindness or Metta Meditation

Metta meditation, also known as Loving-Kindness meditation, is designed to cultivate four qualities of love: friendliness (Metta), compassion (Karuna), appreciative joy (Mudita), and equanimity (Upekkha). The quality of Metta, or friendliness, is expressed as genuine compassion sent out with the intention of surrounding ourselves and others with loving-kindness. With all that is going on in the world today, Metta meditation is a worthwhile practice for each of us to spend some time in each day. This style of meditation also works well as an entrance point for the practice of forgiveness and can be a powerful tool for lessening the charge of negative emotions we have toward those who have wronged us.

While there are various approaches to Metta meditation, this audio clip on Loving Kindness Meditation is a thorough and well-spoken version.

Another variation will have you think silently to yourself, “May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be well. May I be peaceful and at ease. May I be truly happy.” You would then bring someone else into your mind (someone you love and/or someone who you are feeling challenged by) and say silently, “May you be filled with loving-kindness. May you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease. May you be truly happy.” You may then bring all of humanity into your awareness and send the same intention out to the collective—to all sentient beings, “May we be filled with loving-kindness. May we be well. May we be peaceful and at ease. May we be truly happy.”

Once you have done this meditation a few times and you remember the process, you can begin to do the meditation on your own without listening to the audio file. Choose whatever language you prefer to use and practice this meditation for a period of time to see how it resonates with you.

Breath-Awareness Meditation

Breath-awareness meditation is a simple practice of finding a comfortable seat, closing your eyes, and placing your attention in the inhalation and exhalation of your breath. Breath awareness is an effective way to establish a greater mind-body connection and to reduce stress. This form of meditation can be your preferred meditation practice each day and it is also a highly useful way to calm you down during any moment of tension in the workplace and at home.

Once you’ve tried a few different types of meditation, you will have a better idea of what resonates with you and what doesn’t. The most important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong meditation; there are many paths that all lead to the same destination, and the beauty of life is that we get to choose our own path.

Keep it simple at the beginning and just feel out some different techniques. When you find a routine that you enjoy, the next step is to set aside 15 to 20 minutes each day to cultivate your meditative practice. From there, tend to your practice each day and you will experience a number of life-changing benefits to your health and well-being.

7 inspirational books on spirituality and health

By Mel Sutton @naturalhealthwithmel

Flowering water lilly a symbol of spiritual birth

These are inspirational books on spirituality and health that have helped me. Hope you enjoy discovering or rediscovering them.

1 The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

This guide to spiritual enlightenment is a classic on connecting to your spirituality and health. Discover what Eckhart calls “being in the Now”. Experience a life where you not ruled by your thoughts. Instead become experiencer of your thought. If you no longer think you are your thoughts then who are you? As we learn to be present and live in the Now we experience true transformation and healing, as we no longer attach ourselves to the past or to the future. This is a book that can be reread or listened to many times and is a lifelong companion to a healthier, happier and present life.

2 The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra

The seven spiritual laws are simple and powerful principles that you can apply to life. I still think this is Deepak greatest book and one I refer to the most. You can take each principle and apply it to a specific day of the week or work on one for a month. Each principle also has a mantra attached which is a lovely accompaniment to a meditation practice. The perfect guide to spirituality and health in a easy to read format.

3 The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Alistair Shearer

If you practice yoga or are interested in yoga philosophy this is the best classic text on the spirituality and health. Written around the 3rd century BC this text weaves a thread and asks basic soul questions as well as answering what yoga is, how to purify the mind and let it settle into stillness. This is a great book to sit and contemplate, learn and reconnect with your own self. There are many authors who have insight into the text. I have chosen this version as we studied this for our Meditation training and it offers a superb understanding and translation of the text https://www.naturalhealthwithmel.co.uk/about-mel-2/yoga-with-mel/

4 Creative Visualisations by Skakti Gawain

Practical and easy methods to bring into your life. One of the first books in this field and still one of the best on Spirituality and health.

5 The Secret Language of Your Body Inna Segal

A recent read for me. If you are interested in the inner workings of your body and feel there is more to illness than physical manifestation this book will give insight you into the different organs and systems in the body and offer an explanation to the cause of the disease. I found this book to be enlightening and a great tool to reference when any disease or emotional sensation arose that I needed clarification on. It beautifully connects our physical body to our spiritual health in an easy and understandable way.

6 Heal Your Body by Louise Hay

One of the first books I read on the connect between disease and thinking. At the time it was pioneering and dismissed by the medical world. Now it’s mainstream. We know there is a connection between what we think, how we process our thoughts and the connection this has to the diseases we may get. Still a great reference book Louise went on to write many books on healing, spirituality, transformation and affirmations. http://www.louisehay.com

7 The Hidden Messages in Water Masaru Emoto

Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto discovered that molecules of water are affected by our thoughts, words and feelings. A fascinating book and a quantum leap in how we view our world, and the impact we have on our surroundings, and how we are linked on a conscious level to everything. Spiritual, healing and very thought provoking. After all we are 80% water!

Natural remedies as we move into winter

by Mel Sutton naturalhealthwithmel.co.uk

Natural health. Walking and being in nature is a great way to stay positive and healthy

Natural health to winter happiness

By Natural Health with Mel.

Using Natural remedies to heal and live your best life.

How we cope with transitions in life can be a determinate to our general state of health. Try these ideas to help you flourish and keep an even keel as winter approaches.

1 Flower Essences Bach and Bush flower essences are easily available from health food stores. A few drops beneath the tongue for natural health.

The best Flower essences I know for change is Walnut a Bach flower essence. Use for any changes and transition.

Try Elm if you feel overwhelmed with too much to do and not enough time, which can lead to you feeling depressed.

Transition Essence is a Bush combination useful in times of change

Mustard to relieve a gloomy mood.

2 Lightbulb therapy As the nights draw in you may suffer with SAD syndrome. An Infra red sauna can be a way to boost your immune system, help to detoxify the body and relieve muscle aches. I have tried this and found it really useful as a natural health tool.

Another option is an SAD lightbulbs that emulate sunlight frequency. They are really effective in lifting the spirits during the long winter months

3 Diet is crucial to keep warm, boost immune system & stay balanced and nurtured. Soups and casseroles are great. Use pulses and seasonal squashes. Our plates will look like a rainbows, gorgeous and inviting and natural.

Plus they will contain a large variety of vitamins and minerals to ward off colds and boost immune systems. Onions and garlic, spices like fresh ginger and turmeric are anti inflammatory and warming for natural health.

Think yellow sunshine and orange sunset as you plan your shop.

Spices balance and warm and are full of immune stimulating properties.  Paprika and chilli peppers are heating but be mindful if you suffer with irritable bowel or a sensitive stomach, these foods can irritate the digestion. Think also of berries, full of vitamin C. Also apples and citrus fruits. 

I like to think of the birds in flight having stocked up on the berries as they  journey thousands of miles. Berries indeed give you wings!

4 Yoga If you practice yoga you will be familiar with Sun Salutations. Done slowly they can open up the body and allow the energy to begin to flow with ease. Done quickly you soon begin to sweat and heat the body. I recommend you find a good Yoga class in your area to compliment your practice. https://www.naturalhealthwithmel.co.uk/about-mel-2/yoga-with-mel/

Surya Namaskar – Saluting the sun to natural health

5 Burning essential oils create beautiful aromas. Try grapefruit or Litsea Cubeba both sunshine scents that lift the spirit, cleanse and purify. Other oils are antibacterial, try Eucalyptus, Black pepper or Cardamon. Use for bathing, a few drops in a bath base or milk powder or in a vaporiser to cleanse and create a lovely atmosphere to create a natural healthy space.

6 Conscious thinking There is a deep connection between our thoughts and the life we have. Louise Hay the pioneer of affirmations and positive thinking has many wonderful sayings you can incorporate into your daily routine. A favourite of mine is In the infinity of life where I am, all is perfect, whole, and complete. There are so many wonderful affirmations, check online or in her array of books for natural healing.

7 Visualisations When we are missing the sunshine you can practice visualisations and meditations. I use Insight app but there are many others on the market that are free. The power of the mind through visualisation and stillness is remarkable. Practice makes perfect. Visualise what you are seeking, do it daily and see your life change and unfold into the life you want. To quote Wayne Dyer American self-help author and motivational speaker If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. https://www.naturalhealthwithmel.co.uk/learning-to-meditate/

I always say to clients imagine you are a seed. What would you like to develop into? 

This article is taken from Mel’s regular natural health column in SE10 magazine

Mel Sutton is a Yoga & Meditation teacher in Greenwich and SE London. A health coach, homeopath and aromatherapist she can be contacted through her website www.naturalhealthwithmel.co.uk

Mel is a Chopra Center meditation instructor and a qualified Yoga teacher. http://chopra.com

Why Meditate? Some simple answers.

The reasons we meditate are as varied as the many ways there are to meditate. In the West, most people are drawn to meditation to quiet the internal chatter of the brain and to reduce stress. Meditation is, indeed, a very effective stress reducer, but its benefits—sometimes mysteriously hidden—are far more bountiful.

The actual act of meditation can be as simple as sitting quietly and focusing on your breath or a mantra—a word or phrase. There are countless traditions and no singular “correct” way to practice meditation.

Find a practice you like and stick with it for a while.
Notice how you feel as you go about your days. If you find that you have more patience, feel grounded and better able to respond to stressful situations, and you are more in touch with your intuition or gut feelings then Meditation is working for you.

Because It’s Good for Our Bodies

Scientists gathering data on meditation have found that a consistent practice not only boosts the mind, but it also bolsters the body. Studies bear out that meditation can help reverse heart disease, reduce pain, and support the immune system, better enabling it to fight disease.

The mind-body connection between stress and disease is abundantly apparent as science is finding that meditation can lower production of the stress hormone cortisol. This means meditators are better able to adapt to stress in their lives and its common physiologic responses, which can include:

  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sleep problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Memory impairment
  • Skin conditions

Because It’s Good for Our Relationships

Paradoxically, while meditation helps us tune in and turn inward to our true essence, it also helps us detach from our own egos to connect with others in more meaningful ways. Couples counselors have found when they assign their clients meditation, the couples become less angry, more self-reflective, and more loving.

When we become aware of—and honor—our interconnection with other beings, we are able to recast our perspectives, see our worries in a different light, and embrace gratitude, which is the heart’s memory.

Because it Can Change Our Lives

In a world rife with never-ending fast fixes, crash diets, and get-rich-quick schemes, it’s great to know there is a proven practice that really can change your life and bring you joy and more energy (or at least bring about dramatic effects) in just a short time in each day.

Yogis and doctors both agree: meditating—even just a few minutes of deep breathing—relaxes the brain, reduces anxiety, and decreases depression. When we feel as though we can’t afford the time to meditate BUT the truth is we can’t afford not to.

How to Start Meditating

Getting started is simple, but it’s helpful to have a teacher or guide to coach, motivate, and encourage you along as you stat. Here are some options to help you get started in meditation:

  • Find a teacher near you: It doesn’t get better than having a real, live person teaching you how to meditate. Make sure you choose someone you really connect with and respect, so that it will be easier to see them consistently. My training at the Chopra Center offers instruction in Primordial Sound Meditation—a powerful meditation technique rooted in the Vedic tradition of India.
  • Try a Guided Meditation: If you don’t have the time or means to find a teacher near you, guided meditations can be a great way to learn. They walk you through the steps and help you find a calm and peaceful state—one step at a time. Try one of these guided meditations, each with a unique theme taken from the Chopra Center website.

Empowering quotes

Quotes are the human experience perfectly encapsulated in a few choice words. The wisdom captures your attention because it triggers something in your core. A quote read for the first time is new but at the same time it seems familiar and meant just for you. They can be a source of great encouragement and a way to uplift when you feel lost or confused. By changing your thoughts and providing motivation to overcome obstacles you will start to achieve your goals and feel positive about yourself.

How to Use 

Your mood and behavior are greatly influenced by what you see and hear on a daily basis, especially on a subconscious level. Quotes can be used as a way to insert little messages of motivation that may seem inconsequential but can effect positive influences when used purposefully. Here are some tips on how to benefit the most from inspirational quotes:

  • When you read a quote, take time to reflect on it; quotes can be a great catalyst for introspection, internal dialogue, self-awareness, and inner work.
  • Choose a quote that speaks to you at this time and write it down, print it, or draw it in a way that is meaningful to you.
  • Put quotes in places where you can easily see it such as on the dashboard of your car, mirror, computer, kitchen, or your wallet.
  • If you have a meditation practice have your quote on hand to read at the end (or beginning) of your meditation to help infuse the essence of the quote into your daily life.

The following quotes can help you stay motivated and feel empowered throughout the year.

Choose one or a few to work with and see what unfolds. If you have an inspirational quote you would like to share get in touch and I will add it to the list.

Enjoy!

Empowering Quotes

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

“When your desires are distilled, you will cast just two votes: to love more, and be happy.” – Hafiz

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” – Rumi

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” – Pema Chodron

“When I let go of who I am, I become who I might be.” – Lao Tzu

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask yourself if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.” – Deepak Chopra

“The secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living the life of your dreams today, in every little way you possibly can.” – Mike Dooley

When you take a few minutes each day to read and reflect on these quotes, you will stimulate your mind and inspire yourself to overcome any obstacle thrown your way. Here’s to a new year filled with the motivation and encouragement you need to achieve your goals!

Why We Struggle to Make Time for Solitude

 

How often do you take time to go out for a walk?  To just sit out in nature doing nothing but contemplating and enjoying the silence?

I’m sure there are a few of you who indulge in this luxury regularly, but most of us don’t make time for solitude on a daily basis.

For some, it’s too much of a luxury: the struggle of daily existence is too close to survival level to even think about an hour alone in nature.

But for many of us, the main reason is that our brain rationalizes staying busy. We are filled with uncertainty all day long, and that drives us to try to do more, to get control of everything, to cram more into our lives, to stay addicted to technology and distraction.

The main driver of our busyness and distraction is uncertainty.

Uncertainty is woven into every hour of our lives. We are uncertain about what we should do, who we are, whether we’re good enough, what is going to happen, what’s going on in the world, and how to deal with the overwhelmingness of life. We don’t often acknowledge it, but we feel uncertainty all day long.

To deal with that feeling of uncertainty, of the groundlessness of not having stability in our lives … we cling to comforts and distractions, we procrastinate and put off the habits we want to form, we are constantly busy and messaging and more. And when we do relax, we will pick up our phones or watch Netflix. I think silence is uncomfortable for many of us and busyness is a distraction to keep us in the doing

The idea of being in solitude, of having quiet in our lives and time for contemplation, might seem nice to many of us. But when it comes time to actually do it, we cling to busyness because of our feeling of uncertainty. “I can’t because I have too much to do!” “Just one more email. Just one more thing”

And yet, this constant busyness and distraction is draining us. We are always on, always connected, always stimulated, always using energy.

What would it be like to disconnect every single day for an hour? To remove ourselves from TVs, books, devices, and just go out for a walk? Not be productive, but connected to nature? We are human beings not human doings 🙃

We could use the time to let ourselves recharge and be replenished by nature. We could use the movement, the quietude that gives our brains a chance to rest, the space for contemplation and nothingness.

To do this, we have to stop letting the uncertainty rule our lives. It can be with us, a constant companion, and we can learn to be comfortable with it and even love it as it is. But it doesn’t have to drive us.

The way to shift this is to create the space for solitude, even just half an hour … and then make it happen. Watch your mind try to rationalize why you shouldn’t do it, or have an urge to put the solitude off for just a little longer. Then don’t give in to that urge, but instead go to the solitude and be with your urges, your rationalizations, your stress.

See what happens when you give these things some space.  They calm down. And you get nourished by the space and life around you.

Meditation does just that. By making time to meditate we give ourselves permission to stop, slow down and replenish. No time spent in quiet is ever wasted. Walking meditation puts our brain into a trance like state, we begin to see things differently and slowly we change and connect to our true self

So lets slow down. Embrace silence and resist the urge to sent that email!

How to instantly live in the present

Taken from the Chopra centre newsletter, slightly adapted. I like it as it has some interesting ideas on ways to be Mindful day to day.

In your mind, you tend to live either in the past or future. You flip through the events of the past with or your mind can fast-forward to a potential future by scanning the to-do list or some future goal. Rare is the moment when you allow yourself to be fully immersed in the present.

Even as a yoga teacher, I have to constantly remind myself to stay rooted in the present moment. Follow these tips on how to bring yourself back to the now.

1. People Watch

People watching simply means sitting down in a place and getting into observation mode (without checking your phone’s text messages or emails).

You can also extend this activity beyond people, to include nature watching or any other type of environment watching. It’s an incredible experience to schedule in observation time to simply notice everything around you fully. In complete observation mode, you learn so much.

Every time I travel to a foreign country, I love sitting in a local café and putting on my people-watching hat. I learn more about a culture, mannerisms, and customs through simple observation. But you don’t have to travel to do this. You can observe anywhere. Schedule in your “people watching” time—you can even do it with friends and share observations when you’re done.

2. Listen Fully

Have you ever noticed that when your lips aren’t moving, you find your mind wandering to either the past or the future? Fully listening is a wonderful way to stay rooted in the present moment. When a person is talking to you, pretend you are hearing what they’re saying for the first time, even if you’ve heard it a million times before. Notice the tone of voice, inflection, and body language while they speak. Take note of your internal reactions to the words said. Observe your body language while listening. Catch yourself jumping into the future, in your mind, as you formulate an answer. Try to increase the amount of listening in your daily life, so you speak less and listen more. This can be an enriching experience that can lead you to feeling happier and start living in the present.

3. Savour Magic Moments

Tony Robbins says that life with others is made up of magic moments. You may have a tendency to think of the big moments such as weddings, birthday parties, and other big events as being the special times in life. However, most of life is made up of little moments. It’s your child rushing into the room just to give you a hug and say, “I love you.” It’s your husband buying toothpaste without you telling him. It’s your work colleague bringing you your favorite coffee in the morning. It’s catching a beautiful sunset on the way home from work.

4. Savor the Senses

Have you ever seen anyone have a genuine love affair with food? It’s an absolute joy to watch people fully immerse themselves in the flavors.

Take one sensory experience and allow it to halt time and quiet the mind. Enjoy a meal, savor an essential oil, spend time with a painting or sunset, feel the warmth and energy from a campfire, listen to enchanting music—this will not only bring you into the present moment, but it can even create a spiritual experience and can be a mindfulness practice. When you do this, other senses will be drawn in by habit, but try to keep your focus and pay attention to the sense you chose. The practice of creating focus can pump your present moment awareness muscles and calm the mind.

5. Appreciate the Absolute Ordinary

Have you ever walked through your own house during a quiet time and just enjoyed the moment and appreciated the seemingly menial things?

Try it:

  • Feel the carpet under your toes and feel so grateful for it.
  • Observe the sky and feel connected to the planet
  • Open your refrigerator or cupboards and appreciate the food and items at your fingertips.
  • Open the door slowly, offering gratitude for the key, the shelter, your address, and location.

Have you ever felt that you don’t have enough at times? While lack, in some respect, may certainly be present in your life, take stock of what you do have. You might have clean air to breath, water that flows from a tap, food in the fridge, and a place to sleep at night. If nothing else, appreciate the sun rising and setting each day, bringing the planet light and life. Something as simple as your fingers moving to grasp your coffee cup is a thing to celebrate. There are so many ordinary things to appreciate each day.

The more you practice mindfulness and living in the present moment, the more aware you will become. Practice one of these five things daily and watch your life transform into a more peaceful and joyful existence full of happiness.