You Have To Practice Self Care

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Hi There!

How do you practice self care?

Self Care has become such a cultural theme that I see everywhere these days. It is being used to sell everything from retreats, spa treatments, vacations, and consumer products but I’m not thinking about pleasures as in treating yourself to a new haircut, or a mani-pedi with a glass of champagne (although, that’s a super fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon)… The kind of self care I’m referring to isn’t a four hundred dollar hand bag or the two hundred dollar pair of shoes. It’s not having a prestigious job or a house in the West Hills… The type of self care I’m referring to is knowing yourself. Knowing yourself enough to know how you want your life to feel and are taking actions to create the kind of life you want. Far to often people spend their entire life on auto-pilot and never develop a relationship with themselves. The type of self care I’m referring to here is taking radically good care of yourself…

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action thats important.” ~ Mahatma

In school we’re learning about Vitalist practices which are practices of self care. The principles of Vitalism views that the body has an innate intelligent life-force based on the healing power of nature and has the ability to heal itself and mend our pain(s), physically and emotionally. The vital force exists in all living things. Similar to chi in Chinese Medicine or prana in Ayurveda, the vital force serves as a protection against disease and is a channel connecting us to our higher self. Vitalism recognizes the relationship between the healthy spirit and the healthy body. A self care practice is the same, it is knowing when you are depleted and knowing what to do to heal. Self care is knowing when to say no when something doesn’t feel right for you. It is knowing that you’re relationships are no longer supporting you. Its knowing that the job and your lifestyle no longer serves your beliefs.

Vitalist practices are actions that you can incorporate into your daily life that will help to improve your overall vitality, energy level and health. When we have more of these qualities, eyes shine brighter, hearts crack open, we have more creativity, more drive, more energy, and even more control over our emotions… There are many benefits to incorporating rhythms and ritual into our daily life, and these practices listed below are great options:

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1. Water and Hydrotherapy

    • Drink 12-16 oz of filtered water upon waking in the morning, before eating or drinking anything else. Adding lemon juice or a splash of apple cider vinegar will boost energy, stimulate digestion, enhance immunity, adjust blood sugar and start metabolism which is important for weight management.
    • In the morning, while washing your face, splash cold water over your face. This closes up the pores, stimulates and brightens the skin, and helps alleviate puffiness.
    • Before going to bed, fill the tub with hot water and take an herbal bath. Bundle fresh herbs together with a rubber band or use dried herbs in a muslin sack. The herbs I recommend for this is Lemon balm, Linden, Valerian, Lavender, Rose for soothing relaxation. You can order dried herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs.
    • When taking a shower, alternate 3 minutes of hot water to 30 second of cold water turning completely around under the cold water. Doing this two or three times to increase circulation and stimulate your immune system.

2. Sleep and Rest

    • Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than your regular time. Lights off with no extra brain stimuli
    • Take a short nap during the day when you can
    • Take 10-15 minutes once or twice during the day to lie down in savasana (lie on your back and simply relax your mind and muscles entirely)
    • Simply increase the amount of sleep you are getting overall.

3. Prayer

    • Upon waking, give thanks for another day. Set an intention for the day, add any other prayers you may have for that day.
    • Upon awakening or retiring, make a list either mentally or in a journal of 5 things you were grateful for that day.
    • Make a prayer before and after eating for the nourishment to your body that you’re receiving.
    • Ask for forgiveness for any hurt you may have caused anyone and send forgiveness out to those who have hurt you.. 
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Image Created by Cyndi Hackett

4. Meditation

    • Sit quietly, relaxed, and contemplate on the life flowing through you, your heartbeat, your breathing, your warmth. Then feel the reality that you are surrounded by a Great Life Force that also runs through all things.. Affirm: “The Sprit that Moves in All things Lives in me.”
    • Sit quietly, breath in, saying “I breathe in Life” and exhaling, saying “I relax into Life.”
    • Pick a mantra (an affirmative and positive saying) of your choice and sit in meditation, repeating this mantra to yourself for at least 5 minutes.
    • Do any other meditation of your choosing or sign up for these helpful apps; Headspace, Calm Mind App.
    • Meditate while sitting out in nature contemplating on the sounds you hear around you
    • Journal your experience after you meditate. Over time, recurring thought patterns will be revealed for further reflection.

5. Pausing/Relaxing and Breathing

    • When you get home from your day, or transition from one task of the day to another, take a few minutes to pause and settle yourself before starting the next thing. You may take this time to drink some warm tea, do a few light stretches, walk around the office, simply take 5 deep breaths, or take time to do a meditation or say a silent prayer.
    • As part of you morning routine, practice a deep breathing exercise of your choice for 3-5 minutes. Do this at any other point during the day, like when you come home from work. This can even be done while you’re showering or driving to and from work
    • At any point during the day, come back to the breath. Taking several more deep breaths.
  • Set your alarm clock on your phone at random times during the day to remind you to breathe deeply. We often have shallow breathing which adds to stress and anxiety.

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    6. Physical Activity

    • Before eating in the morning do some light stretching, a few yoga positions, or other light movement of your choice.
    • Walk for 30 minutes a day, breathing in fresh air paying attention to your surroundings
    • Park further away from your destination to increase walking or take the stairs instead
    • If you tend to do vigorous workouts late in the evening, adjust the schedule so as to complete the workout once the sun begins to set. This helps with circadian rhythms which will help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep

7. Nature

    • Get up early to watch the sun rise and listen to the morning doves sing their song
    • Spend some time in nature every day
    • Spend a few minutes with your bare feet on the earth. This is grounding and reminds us we are connected.
    • Five days a week, sit outside for 10-20 minutes in contemplation or meditation
    • When moving in and out throughout the day, make a conscious effort to notice the eagle flying overhead, the buds blooming on the trees and the shape of the clouds…

8. Nutrition

    • Eat alive vibrant fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably with every meal.
    • Eliminate processed foods , refined sugar and hydrogenated
      trans fats
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Image Created by Cyndi Hackett
  •  Cook from scratch as much as possible
  • Be conscious about emotional eating and eating while you’re bored. This will help to build a better connection with your body, and how you fuel it

9. Digestion

    • Drink before meals. Not during meals, or take small sips of warm water during. This helps with not diluting your gastric juices which aid in digestion
    • Drinking before meals. Not immediately after a meal, helps to eliminate filling the stomach further, diluting stomach fluids, and causing reflux
    • Take a small dose of digestive bitters 20 minutes before meals or a digestive enzyme daily
    • Eat at least one meal per day in quiet, sitting down and with a restful state of mind.
    • Chewing your food well reflecting on what you are eating as fuel and how it is nourishing you. Doing this helps to make you more conscious about what you eat and aids digestion

10. Journaling, affirmations, and other practices

    • Add a creative activity to your schedule at least once a week, or if you already have a creative outlet, increase the amount you do it. For example, painting, drawing, writing poetry, playing an instrument, singing, dancing
    • Take a flower essence. Each flower essence has an ability to activate and access a deep part of ourselves to shift prospective
    • Have a life purpose and a meaningful life
    • Journal each day, even if it is just to log how you felt that day, and anything else you want to journal about. You can be the only person to see this journal.
    • Pick a positive affirmation to repeat to yourself throughout the day, in the morning during your meditation, at every red light, or when you begin to feel stressed, for example. The affirmation must be something that you truly feel and are able to accept.

All of these practices only take a few minutes and can easily be incorporated into your regular daily routine… Working with these principles will bring you closer to knowing what feels good in your body allowing you to know how you want to feel. Often times we don’t even know what it feels like to feel good, accepting the way we do feel as “normal”… Practicing these principles can end up becoming daily rituals that you can’t go without and over time, will end up doing automatically. Pick a few you resonate with (don’t feel like you have to do them all) and practice for 10 days. Do the work and let me know what changes for you.

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Keeping in mind that a self care practice is also about being discerning. Seeing all the articles and media hype out there about everything you should and shouldn’t be doing to be a successful happy human and realize that taking care of ourselves is a very personal act; it is subtly different for everyone and there is no right or wrong way. I’ll just say this, for me, it doesn’t mean going all out trying to emulate some sort of celestial being or reaching enlightenment, it means practicing a little neutrality, kindness and love towards a self I’m not entirely satisfied with… its understanding that my practice is not about waiting around for the real, raw, alive part of someone else to show up for me… we have to show up for ourselves.. that’s real self care…

~ Take Care ~

Medicine of the Heart

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With Valentines Day upon us, I wanted to give attention to some heart opening herbs for supporting increased compassion, stimulation, softening, and healing heart ache… Whatever your heart is calling for, let these heart-nourishing herbs help to support the physical, spiritual and emotional heart.

I hope you enjoy these herbal offerings and will be inspired to use them in recipes, crafts, tinctures, elixirs, flower essences, cocktails and herbal blends to bring about the lover in us all…

0j6a0699Holy Basil (Tulsi) – As an elite class of adaptogens, Holy Basil is valued for its ability to fundamentally restore balance and harmony in the mind, body, and spirit. As the name implies, Holy Basil has spiritual as well as medicinal significance. In Hindu mythology, the plant is an incarnation of the goddess Tulsi, offering divine protection.. Tulsi is also beneficial for clear breathing and immune support during cold and flu season..


imagesHawthorn
– Revered as a cardio tonic Hawthorn represents courage, improves circulation, balances blood pressure, strengthens arteries, oxygenates the blood, and clears the mind. Hawthorn can help with disconnection, emotional or spiritual heartache; opens to forgiveness and removes emotional obstacles for healing.


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Linden – The Linden tree is considered to represent mercy. As a heart tonic, Linden eliminates blood stagnation and relieves heart conditions related to stress. Linden is used for calming emotional turmoil and helps to balance emotions. It allows a softening of the heart for releasing and letting go after painful experiences and to release emotional blockages in general.

 

shutterstock_215637520-672x372Cinnamon – A cardio exhilarant, Cinnamon is both stimulating and arousing physically and sexually. It is comforting and tranquil. Cinnamon focuses on intention and concentration opening the heart chakra to clear inhibitions connected to issues of giving and receiving.


imgresMotherwort
– As a heart strengthener we can work with Motherwort with regards to feelings of being alone, grief, sadness and loss. Restlessness and disturbed sleep from emotional ailments of the heart. Motherwort was traditionally used for all conditions of the uterus.

 

images-1Rose – One of the most ancient plants with which we have a romantic attachment. They are associated with divination and healing. Considered a restorative, Rose invites a therapy for the heart and soul. It is deeply nurturing, heart opening, softening and love-promoting.

 

lemon_balm2Lemon Balm – As a nervous/cerebral restorative, Lemon Balm is an amazing healing plant whose deep therapeutics are said to be a mood elevator bringing about merriment and uplifting the spirit. This lemony herb has delighted lovers for centuries and in medieval times betrothed couples made bracelets for each other as a sign of their love…


Disease stems from disconnections within the spiritual or emotional heart…

“When the heart is not healthy, the whole system is diseased”
~ an aphorism of Unani Medicine

~Wishing you a life of love~

“The Neutral Zone”

Happy New Year!  While everyone is rejoicing, rejecting, or resolving on the ending of an era and the beginning of another, I find myself embracing “The Neutral Zone”… .

The in-between time. The time of reorientation. The irregularity from the old way and the new way, the known and the unknown.

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Soul Collage created by Cyndi

I pause to hear the whispers…  Her voice comes like a fierce wind squeezing through a small opening insisting she’s here for a reason. She’s a visitor I’d rather not welcome but she shows me what needs to change.

I have been wandering among many doors for so long, determined to find the right one. Searching for the largest most alluring door to move through. Longing for answers. Ignoring the pause. Forging my way past her whispers beckoning me to close my seeking eyes and listen…

“Fear not” she says, “this is the very place that will teach you what is true and real for you”… Releasing the constraints of my thoughts, I focus on school, the plants, their teachings, their magic and the medicine they share.  They teach me there is wisdom in this place. The place where the power of choice and the flame of nonconformity commune and conspire to show me the right door…

And so for now, I can finally relax into the void, the pause, the out-breath and the in-breath. I find peace and patience, allowing my creativity to oodle, preparing me for an emergence in new and exciting ways, but for now, I will not resolve, reject or rejoice. I will rest in the sublimity of peace in the neutral zone…

~ May we all find peace in “The Neutral Zone” ~

Year In Review Ritual


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Soul Collage created by Cyndi

While most of us feel the urge to say “eff you 2016” (myself included) I say “wait a minute please”… There is a lot of wisdom to be gleaned from the last twelve months if you are willing to take a look at it..

What about the uncelebrated accomplishments you’ve had? Or how about those hard knocks you’d rather not repeat? And the emotional baggage that you’re ready to let go of?…

After a much needed night with a dear friend of mine reflecting on the past year over a plate of  Christmas cookies and a bottle of wine, we talked about things we wanted to let go of from this past year and it really got me thinking.. So after listening to a Podcast from Marie Forleo on this very subject, I got inspired and took out my journal, a pen, made myself a cup of tea, lit my candles, and began writing the answers to these three simple questions which will help me with a clean slate for a great year ahead…

These three simple questions helped me to see the progress I’ve made over this last year instead of beating myself up over everything I didn’t do. Far to often we are too hard on ourselves and put too much pressure on ourselves to do something and then feel bad about ourselves when we haven’t accomplished it. Its time to celebrate our successes, however big or small they may be, and get rid of all the crap thats been holding us back.. (Can I get an Amen!?)

Three Powerful Year In Review Questions:

1. What did I do, create, or experience this year that i’m really proud of?
2. What mistakes did I make that taught me something and what lessons did I learn?
3. What am I willing to let go of? What story have I been telling myself that I’m willing to let go of. (It can be more than one thing)

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So light your candles, surround yourself with supportive loving energy like a cozy blanket, snuggling up in an oversized chair, curling up in bed, sipping your favorite tea (perhaps my nutritive blend from my first blog), answer these three questions sincerely, and if you’re so inclined to share, tell me about it…

~ All The Best In The Coming Year ~

Easy Healthy Bone Broth:

Are you wondering what to do with that turkey carcass from Thanksgiving? How about some homemade, soothing, nutrient dense bone broth?

While beef is the meat most people associate with bone broth, it can also be made with poultry and fish bones or Vegan (see note below).  The benefits of bone broth improves digestion and immune health. It is high in collagen, amino acids, proline and glycine which helps heal the gut lining, reduces overall inflammation, and is important for healthy connective tissue such as ligaments & joints. It is also beneficial for skin, hair and nails. 

Bone broth can be used as the liquid for soups, stews, gravies and sauces. In the fall and winter it is helpful to drink at least 1 cup per day as a healthy immune boost. In times of illness, drink bone broth until you’re feeling better as it helps to support the body and is easily digested so the body’s energy can be spent on healing itself  rather than on digesting. It will also help shorten the duration of the illness.

There is no comparison to the store bought versions either which are often processed and contain MSG, sodium, preservatives, corn starch, wheat, artificial flavors or other chemicals and lacks the gelatin, marrow and other health-boosting properties of a homemade broth.

So make bone broth a regular part of your kitchen routine. It’s health boosting, inexpensive, easy and oh so yummy!

Bone Broth Ingredients:

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  • 2 pounds of bones from a healthy source 
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • herbs and spices of choice to taste
  • You’ll also need a large stock pot to cook the broth in and a strainer to remove the  scraps afterwards when its done.

Instructions:

1. If you are using raw bones, (especially beef bones), it improves flavor to roast them in the oven first. Place them in a roasting pan and roast for about 30 minutes at 350.
2. Then, place the bones in a large stock pot (I used a 5 gallon pot). Pour (filtered) water over the bones and add the vinegar.
3. Rough chop and add the vegetables to the pot.  Add salt, pepper, spices, and herbs, if using.
4. Bring broth to a boil. Once it has reached a vigorous boil, reduce to low heat and simmer for 10-12 hours.
5. During the first few hours of simmering, you’ll need to remove the impurities that float to the surface. A frothy/foamy layer will form and it can be easily scooped off with a big spoon. Throw this part away.
6. When done, remove from the heat and let cool. Strain using a fine metal strainer to remove all the bits of bone and vegetable scraps. When cool enough, store in a gallon size glass jar in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze in individual containers or pour into ice cube trays for use at a later date. Sip one cup of broth daily like you would hot tea.. .

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Note:
To make a Vegan version, save your vegetable scraps in the freezer—for example, mushroom stems for antioxidant mineral selenium, parsley stems for iron and vitamin K, potato skins for potassium, carrot shavings for vitamin A—in a quart sized mason jar. After accumulating left overs, place them in a pot, cover with water; add 1/2 tbsp sea salt, add a piece of edible seaweed for potassium, calcium, and essential folate and iodine. Heat on high until the liquid boils, then reduce heat to low until veggies are soft, about 2-3 hours. Strain out veggies reserving the broth.

~ Easy, Healthy, Yummy ~

Sweet Potato Brownies

It’s scary out there this time of year with all the ghouls & goblins and sugar… Wouldn’t it be nice to get your chocolate fix without your teeth hurting or spiking your glucose?

img_1464It’s actually a real issue that hits close to home for me because I have several family members affected by diabetes and almost every student in my class has someone in their life affected with diabetes.. and this time of year is especially difficult to avoid sugar..

Our body doesn’t know what to do with all that sugar. One of the liver’s functions is regulating blood sugar levels. Your cells use glucose for energy, and your liver takes the excess and stores it. When your cells need energy later, like in between meals, the liver releases glucose back into the bloodstream. But your liver can only store a certain amount of glucose, so the rest accumulates as fat. If you exceed this amount, it turns into fatty deposits in the liver which can lead to fatty liver disease. Too much sugar can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.

Now I’m not saying you’re going to get diabetes or develop fatty liver disease from eating your fun sized candy bars this season but if you take an honest look at how much sugar is in everything we eat, its scary!

So heres a healthier alternative to your favorite brownie. I wont lie to you, in terms of texture, these cant replace an actual brownie but in terms of taste, you’ll never know the difference. And I don’t like to mess with recipes that have expensive, hard to find ingredients, so when I do find a good one that works, I’ll be certain to post it here.

These AMAZING sweet potato brownies are moist, paleo, vegan, gluten-free, and deeeee-lish! This recipe uses real natural sweeteners that are WAY better for you than artificial ones and there are other benefits too!

Sweet potato:
— Naturally sweet AND improves the regulation of blood sugar.
— They have anti-inflammatory benefits; anthocyanin (what makes a sweet potato orange) is full of anti-inflammatory health benefits. These benefits are found in brain and nerve tissue throughout the body
— Sweet potatoes are FULL of vitamins A and C (which makes them great for your immune system). They also have vitamin B6, B1, B2, and B3
— Sweet potatoes are also full of manganese, copper, phosphorus, potassium, and fiber; all of which work together to keep your blood, digestion, and whole body healthy.

Maple syrup:
— Contains 54 antioxidants that help to prevent diseases caused by free radicals such as DIABETES and CANCER.

Amazing!  How’s that for a natural sweetener!?


Sweet Potato Brownies:

Ingredients

1 cup mashed sweet potato
½ cup smooth nut butter of choice (I recommend almond)
2 tbsp maple syrup (100% natural)
¼ cup cocoa powder
Handful of carob chips (optional)
Handful walnuts (optional)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Grease a small 8×8 cake pan
  • On the stove, melt nut butter with maple syrup (careful not to scorch)
  • In a large bowl add the mashed sweet potato, melted nut butter & maple syrup mixture, cocoa powder and mix well
  • Fold in carob chips and nuts
  • Pour mixture into greased pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before refrigerating and slicing
  • These brownies are best when cooled completely
  • Store in the fridge or freezer and ENJOY!

Try this recipe and let me know how it goes!

~ Happy Healthy Holistic Living ~