Retrain Your Brain While You Sleep

I’ve been using Kelly Howell’s Brain Sync meditations off and on for years now.

According to the Brain Sync website, the binaural beats they use in their recordings help to “balance right and left hemispheres to achieve remarkable mental states. Precision engineered sound waves tune your brain to ideal states of consciousness for meditation, learning, creativity, healing, sleep, goal achievement and behavior modification.”

During the first few months of testing this stuff out, I  used the Secret Universal Mind meditation nightly. After some time, I began to hear myself thinking in ways just like Kelly Howell! For the lack of effort, I thought the result was very cool and it definitely re-patterned my thinking for the better.

Stimulating the Vagus Nerve Using the Breath

“Do you have a sensitive nervous system that adversely impacts your health? By developing an understanding of the workings of your vagus nerve you may find it possible to work with your nervous system rather than feel trapped when it works against you.” — Dr. Arielle Schwartz

The vagus (Latin for ‘wanderer’) nerve is the longest and most complex of the 12 cranial nerves. This nerve runs from the brain stem through the face, neck, thorax, heart, gastrointestinal tract, the bladder, and even branches down into the pelvis! The vagus nerve is heavily involved in the parasympathetic side of the nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system decreases alertness, blood pressure, and heart rate, and helps with calmness, relaxation, and digestion. Vagal response also affects defecation, urination, and sexual arousal.

In people with fatigue, food sensitivities, anxiety, gut problems, brain fog, etc…the vagus nerve is almost always at play.
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Benefits of Oil Pulling

Since I don’t have dental insurance, I started looking into other ways to keep my mouth healthy. (As usual, I’m thinking about when I get old. It’s really hard to eat without any teeth -duh!- and I’ve seen a lot of old people struggle with dentures.) Could oil pulling be the answer? Could it actually heal cavities and prevent gum disease? I started an experiment to find out.

The oral health practices of Ayurveda include chewing on sticks and eating herbs, as well as oil pulling (gandusha). Original practitioners of oil pulling used sesame oil as a way to prevent bleeding gums, tooth decay, dry mouth, bad breath, cracked lips and for strengthening the teeth, gums, and the jaw.

It’s a very easy technique, but I did notice that swishing a tablespoon of oil around for 10–20 minutes was a small workout for my mouth. So I can see how oil pulling would strengthen the jaw! I chose coconut oil for its detoxification and antibacterial properties. (When I tried sesame oil, it was so thick I nearly gagged while doing it.) I also found that swishing while I was taking a shower made the time pass more quickly.

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My Colon Hydrotherapy Experience

I heard good things about the Ayurvedic practice of ‘basti‘, but couldn’t find any provider nearby so in June, I decided to give colon hydrotherapy a try. I was feeling kind of bloated and ‘off’ ever since the trip to Belize in February. So after I got back from Cancun (another trip where I made some bad food choices), I booked a session at a place here in Lancaster called A Therapeutic Effect. A Therapeutic Effect has a ton of great offerings (including chiropractic and massage) and I’m planning to try A LOT of things they have on the menu.

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month: My Story

I am feeling called to share my story during Mental Health Awareness Month. I will try to keep it brief, even though I could go into great detail about a lot of things here!

Looking back, I think my mental health issues were set in motion around age 5 when I was separated from my grandmother, who I looked to as my primary caregiver up until that point. After that separation from my grandmother, I found myself being raised in an explosive household with an abusive alcoholic / drug addict stepfather and a very young mother who barely knew how to take care of herself, much less another tiny human. All of this early trauma set me up for a lot of issues surrounding safety, trust, anger turned inward, etc.

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Service to Others

This is the third article in the series, “The 12 Healing Tools“. These articles outline the things that I have found most useful in my journey to overcome childhood trauma and abuse, drug addiction, and debilitating depression.

Once I got clean back in the mid-90s, I really didn’t know who I was or what I was going to do with my life. I grew up with an overbearing mother (to put it mildly), I had no self-esteem, spent years trying to lose myself in men and drugs, etc. etc. etc. It was a rough road for quite a number of years.

The guy that I was with at the time – we’ll call him Marty – who, incidentally met me during my active addiction and stayed with me during rehab and after, convinced me to sign up for Americorps. Honestly, I just wanted the pay out at the end to help pay off my student loans, so I agreed. During this time, Marty also gave me some other volunteer work making art with kids in some local low income housing projects. I spent a full year in Americorps, doing art with kids, making murals, sweeping streets, fixing windows, and basically just giving back to the community. Eventually Marty and I parted ways, but I have to give him credit for this cuz selfless service really changed my life and probably helped keep me clean too.

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“Text Neck” Stretches

I’ve been struggling with a pain in my neck and right shoulder for MONTHS now. I had Reiki done on it – that did nothing. So I went to the doctor about it. Twice. After the second visit, I was prescribed muscle relaxers. Needless to say, they didn’t work either and made me feel looped out of my mind as well. So, I did some research on my own and deduced that the tension in my neck and shoulder must be from using my cell phone too much! UGH!!! The dreaded TEXT NECK! And as it turns out, a lot of the students I teach at yoga seem to be experiencing similar aches and pains which led to a whole class focused almost entirely on the upper body.

Anyway… Here is a set of stretches I found online that has FINALLY given me some relief (along with a daily application of BioFreeze):

Could This Be the Reason Why the Mayan Calendar Ended in 2012?

So I FINALLY made it to Belize to see the Mayan ruins. (And many other things that were totally unBELIZEable!) One of the most interesting things? A discussion with one of our shuttle drivers about how he could no longer tell time by the sun. !!! He said that now, what used to be 12:30 pm according to the sun, was now actually 1:30 pm.

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Lymphatic Facial Massage & Anti-Aging Exercises

I am currently on a kick about the lymphatic system. I read recently that “while the blood brings in the groceries, the lymph takes out the trash.” Unlike the bloodstream, the lymphatic system has no pump. It relies on the movement of our bodies (#1 way is walking) and manual drainage (lymphatic massage) for its proper functioning. If the work of the lymph nodes is insufficient, the filtering and transport of waste products becomes impaired and the body becomes more and more toxic. If the production of lymphocytes is insufficient, the body’s defense against invaders and against cancer and other immune disorders becomes impaired. So… I think it’s pretty important to keep this system in tip top shape!

Below is a 1-Minute Quick Massage to drain lymph from the area of the face. It’s very easy to do as you’re moisturizing your face. I’ve also included a video that’s definitely worked for me to reduce the bags and puffiness under my eyes.

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