Day 20 ~ Gratitude

This morning was the full moon! The full moon represents abundance, completion and success! It is a time of celebreation and gratitude for all the abundance and blessings that we enjoy every day. Even the little things that we take for granted. The nightime sky is lit from sun up to sundown. So take advantage of the extra light and spend some time outside enjoying the summer night.

Today is also the summer solstice! The midpoint between spring and fall, the summer solstice is the longest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere)! Today the sun appears to reach its northernmost limit on the horizon before it beging the journey back towards the south. Many ancient temples across the world are designed to track and align with the solstices and equinoxes. The summer solstice is traditionally celebrated with gatherings to watch the sunrise or bonfires throughout the night. The intentions are to celebrate the fire of life, honor and appreciate the gift of the sun’s presence eachday and the warmth of the summer season.

So today what are you celebrating? What accomplishments have you reached succes in and what gifts are you grateful for?

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Day 19 ~ Happy Belly

Let’s talk about the importance of probiotics! What is a probiotic? These are the intestinal flora that help us digest and assimulate the nutrients from our food. They are the actual strains of bacteria and yeast and even viruses that make up our healthy gut biome. You can find live cultures in naturally fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, pickels and fermented beverages like non-processed kombucha, keifer and coconut water or you can find them in supplements (check that they are live cultures). It’s good to eat an array of foods that contain different probiotics, this way you are receiving different strains that your body needs for metabolizing different foods and nutrients. Be sure to check the labels of the foods you buy as many “fermented” are really only soaked in vinegar or are heavily processed which will not provide you with the live probiotics you’re looking for! We home brew our own kombucha and find it works wonders for digestion and energy levels!image.jpg

There’s also pre-biotics to consider. These are foods and beverages that nourish the good bacterias in your gut. These include nondigestible carbs (fiber) from whole grains, psyllium husk, raw chicory root, bananas, microalgaes and kombucha. It’s good to reduce consumption of foods that promote harmful bacteria and yeast (especially candida) by reducing your sugar intake.

If you have a history of digestive issues or have recently taken anti-biotics, it is essential bring the intestinal flora back into balance by adding probiotics and prebiotics to your diet.

 

 

Day 18 ~ Take a break

There is a constant pressure to produce, to achieve, to become better. It arises from a drive to compete, to be better than before, to impress. There literally are ALWAYS things to be done, impovements we could make and events to go to. But, we don’t have to do it ALL, all the time! Actually, we dont HAVE to do any of it. Wellness is not only having a healthy body and mind, it also refers to well-being. Being well, simply being ok with life as it is for you right now. Without the need to do or to go, but just to relax into being. From that relaxed state, what truely needs to be done for your greatest health will arise. Sometimes it’s rest, sometimes it’s water, sometimes it’s action and sometimes it’s stillness. But it comes from the relaxed body, not from the incessant mind. So take it easy today! Maybe you’ll end up standin on the corner! image

Day 17 ~ Faith

When you put your life into someone else’s hands, it is a complete act of faith. Whether it is riding in a car, taking an airplane or going in for surgery, we surrender our own capabilities and acknowledge that there is another, better qulified for the task. In doing so, we put our faith in the science, the medicine, the mechanics, the expertise of the piolot, or surgeon. Some, continuing in faith, turn to prayer, acknowledging the power of the mystery that lies beyond the physical.

It is human to worry, to doubt the skills, the science, or the benevolence of the divine. These thoughts cross our minds and can spiral into a dungeon of distress. But what good does it bring? The worry and anxiety doesn’t create more skill or blessing. It actually reinforces the doubt and chaos. In these trying moments when doubt arises but there is nothing that can be done, why not choose faith? Not only will your mind set be more relaxed, your experience can be more pleasant and open to recognizing the blessings being bestowed. The more expertise and positivity you appreciate, the stronger your faith becomes. Then, when worry arises again, you have the proof of positivity that reinstills your faith. It all begins with a choice to remain in a mind of positivity rather than a path of distress.

Day 16 ~ Patience

Sometimes things just don’t go as planned! There is a long line at the check out counter, a wait at the doctor’s office, an accident on the free-way, or a colleague is running late. These are quite obvious situations that are out of our control, but can delay our plans. You may notice that as the wait goes on, your frustration and irritation levels go up. Maybe you get anxious because of the impending delay on your next activity for the day. There are many ways that we can react to unplanned events that seem to interrupt our plans. Some people quietly await their chance. Maybe they have nothing else on their schedule for the day. Or maybe, they noticed the futility of their frustration and accept that the situation is out of their hands. Who do you think enjoyed the time that passed more?

Wellness isn’t only about our physical being, but also our mental/emotional being. Which in turn affects our physical being! The stress and anxiety of the resistance to a situation cause your adrenal glands (near the kidneys) to release cortisol into the blood. This is your body’s call to action to the resolve the stressing situation. You may have heard of this as the fight or flight response, but in our day and age it has become the tip of our tolerance level or a motivation to action. This is where we often either get up and leave, begin making comments or shift into anger and frustration. The cortisol that remains in the blood affects your metabolism, beaks down muscle tone and suppresses the immune system. By getting up and moving, you alleviate the source of your stress and the release of cortisol. Reacting with anger and frustration also reduces cortisol but it creates tension in your heart, increasing your heart rate and testosterone production. This leads to the increased aggression and the feeling of the “blood boiling.”

So how can we approach these situations in a way that is better for our health? Remember that curious individual quietly awaiting their turn while every one else is frustrated, yelling and honking? It can help to take yourself out of your own schedule and look at each of the people around you. Everyone has their own agenda and goals to achieve and you aren’t the only one that is inconvenienced (usually). Consider the person you perceive to be causing your inconvenience, who knows what their day has held? Then, consider yourself, your values and morals. Take take 10 deep breaths (this works by stimulating the Vagus nerve which disengages the stress response). Then ask yourself “Is it really worth getting worked up over?” If you determine that it is, then go for it! Share your opinion and see what can done. If you determine that it isn’t, then you have many options for patiently awaiting your opportunity! You can use the breath awareness practice we’ve been working on, try coloring an abstract design (like the one below), or contact the person that you maybe causing an inconvenience for and give them a heads up! Because of the damaging affects of cortisol, try to do some physical activity before the end of the day to rid your blood of the excess hormone. Animals often respond to excess hormones like cortisol and adrenaline by shaking, which relaxes the muscles and reduces the hormone levels. For a quick release try shaking out your arms and legs!color me patient

Day 15 ~ Infusions

How are you doing with hydration? Have you been able to cut back on sugary and caffeinated beverages? Have you noticed the difference in your energy and digestion when you do stay hydrated?

Thanks to the suggestion of our friend and Health Coach, Becky Miller, we’ve been spicing up our water with delicious infusions! They are packed with flavor and offer vital vitamins and minerals with zero calories! All you have to do is clean the ingredients, chop them, place them in a jar, fill it with water and place it in the fridge to soak. Through out the day you have a refreshing beverage that is full of flavor and when the bottle is empty, you can leave your ingredients in the jar and refill with water. You can use citrus (lemon, orange, grapefruit), fruits (cucumber, watermelon), and herbs (mint, basil, lavender). Now we always have a lemon and a cucumber-mint water ready to go in the fridge! Get creative and try it with your favorite fruits and herbs!

We’ve also been adding soaked chia to our water. Yup! Like chia pets! Related to mint, chia  is a powerful seed packed with essential vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, fiber, protein and omega-3s. When you soak these little seeds, they absorb the water and expand into little gelatinous bubbles, kind of like tapioca. Drinking soaked chia adds a nutritional jump to your hydration! Because they expand so much, start with only 1-2 tablespoons per liter, and allow them to soak for 6-8 hours. You can also soak chia in almond or coconut milk for a tasty “Chia Pudding” dessert!

infusions

Day 14 ~ Return to the Breath

The constant presence of the breath is extraordinary and reassuring! Through all of our activities, thoughts, pleasures and pains, the breath continues. It is an unceasing source of abundance and communication. When we are stressed the breath tends to become shallow and short. In contrast, when we relax the breath deepens and lengthens.

What trends have you noticed about your breath over the past two weeks?

We can use the breath as a tool to help us through anything that we struggle with because it is automatic and ever-present yet controllable. Today, we’ll add on to our breath practice, but also continue with the breath awareness practices that you have been doing. Simply noticing the qualities of the breath without judging it or changing it. The depth, the width, the tempo, the different sensations of the inhale and the exhale. There is no right or wrong here, it is simply awareness, getting to know how your breath normally flows and how it changes depending on your circumstance and mental/emotional environment.

Once you are comfortable and focussed on the breath, gently begin to deepen and expand the inhale. *Fill air into the belly and press out through the ribs, back and then the chest to get a full inhale. Pause with this full inhale. As you begin to exhale, allow air to escape from your chest, then pull the ribs and diaphragm in and lastly squeeze the belly towards the spine. Pause with your lungs empty. This exhale assures that you release all the air from your lungs, fully emptying out so that you can fill again with clean, fresh air. Continue to breath like this for 3-5 more breaths*.

This is a called a Full or 3-Part Breath because you use the entire expanse of your thoracic and abdominal cavities. It can be difficult at first to expand into all 3 areas (the belly, the lower ribs and the chest). So don’t worry if it feels awkward. Don’t overexert yourself but let it flow smoothly and build on it over time. You will probably find that the chest fills even though you are trying to fill the belly or vice versa. This is normal. It is the extended expansion & contraction that are focussed in the areas stated.

Once you’re comfortable with the Full Breath, you can use it to help you through stressful situations. Moments when you notice your breath is short, shallow or rapid, try doing a few cycles of the Full Breath and watch how it gently soothes your tension, frustration or anxiety!

Day 13 ~ Balance

We’ve been working towards making our lives more in balance with a healthy lifestyle that leaves us feeling great, full of energy and keeps the body and mind healthy and strong. Who doesn’t want to feel great? Have plenty of energy to get to work and do the fun activities you enjoy? Who wouldn’t want a healthy body that because of it’s wellness, naturally wards off illness? How about a happy mind that enjoys and accepts the awesome life you live? I imagine everyone wants to enjoy the precious time they are gifted upon this earth. However, with the pace that we live our lives, it can be complicated to slow down enough to make these changes or incorporate these new habits.

We are constantly driven to produce results and track our success. Unless you’re obsessively checking your blood pressure, your weight on the scale, or going to the doctor to check the status of an illness, it can be difficult to see the gentle changes over time that come from living a healthier lifestyle. However the subtle the changes are, they are quite substantial! Often a you will see that you are toning muscle, not just losing fat; gaining endurance and higher energy levels through out the day; you may have a general sense of joy or a better acceptance of situations that bothered you before; one of the early habits like the breath awareness may come naturally for you now; or you are enjoying having a salad before each meal!

Take some time today to notice how you have come more into balance with wellness. Write down what you find and place it somewhere you will see throughout the day. These little messages help to remind us that there are results, and they make a big difference in the way we live our lives!

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Day 12 ~ Take care

Take some solo time today and treat yourself to some self care. Take a bath, put on lotion or an oil conditioner for your hair, go for a massage, or a pedicure! You have been going strong in the Wellness Challenge and continuing with your daily life. You deserve some time to your self for quiet reflection and enjoyment! Not only do you deserve it, but self-care is part of a healthy lifestyle. Taking time regularly to receive a massage works out the knots and stress stored deep in the body; relaxing in a warm bath of epsom salts and lavender pulls toxins out from our skin; oiling your hair with coconut oil leaves it soft and restored with vitamins and minerals. These practices not only give us time for rest and relaxation but they also rejuvenate our health significantly.

In this quiet space, consider all the amazing steps you have taken towards a healthier lifestyle! Even if you feel you have only been “successful” with a few of the challenges. You’re headed in a great direction and you are learning how to successfully take steps to get there. Even if you find yourself focussing on what you haven’t done or how you haven’t improved, understand it has been no small feat to come as far as you have. It takes determination but also appreciation to get there. So appreciate your efforts, say thank you to yourself and enjoy your self care!

 

 

Day 11 ~ Community

Community support makes a huge difference when you are making steps towards greater wellbeing. It is good to share your growth with friends and family and to branch out to new communities that are already headed the direction you’re going. When your family and community are on board with the changes you’re making, they understand you and the changes can be a lot smoother. When you connect with people that are already taking the same steps you are, you know you have company on the path you’re walking and it can inspire and motivate you to continue further.

Today, we’re joining the Global Wellness Day! Come meet us down at Edgewater Park between 8-12:30 (see the attached flier for parking and other details)! We’ll be walking, meditating, doing Tai Chi and having an organic lunch by the shore! If you can’t make it to Edgewater Park, invite a few friends on a hike or go out for an organic meal with your family. Share what you’ve learned or your favorite new wellness activities!

Wellness Day