Blog

Physical Pain As A Spiritual Teacher

PHYSICAL PAIN AS A SPIRITUAL TEACHER

“If we could learn to learn from pain
even as it grasps us…”
– Adrienne Rich

I was getting dressed to go out the other night and standing in front of the mirror in a short dress, I asked my girlfriend, “Do my knees look fat in this dress?” We both started laughing. My knees were swollen and full of fluid. Needless to say, I didn’t wear the dress and I definitely wasn’t dancing that night.

For the last eight years I have been dealing with some kind of autoimmune disease that causes my joints to swell up and my body to become stiff and full of pain. For some reason, no doctor (and trust me, I have been to A LOT of them) can tell me exactly which disease I have and I’ve been diagnosed with several different things over the years. Apparently there is a lot of mystery around autoimmune disorders. The medical world is not sure what causes them, though they seem to be brought on after something traumatic happens to the immune system. The tests that determine your diagnosis cannot always pinpoint which disease you have – like in my case I show markers that conclude I have an autoimmune disorder, but my symptoms don’t match up exactly with the disease I was diagnosed with. I find it puzzling that despite how many people are suffering from autoimmune diseases (according to The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, approximately 50 million Americans, 20 percent of the population or one in five people), there is not more information or treatment available.

“I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.” – Maya Angelou

Physical pain is something most people dread, myself included. However, since I have been struggling with the presence of pain in my body for so long, I have developed a relationship with it. It is something you cannot ignore when it comes into your life – it demands your attention. It forces you to stop what you are doing and pay attention to yourself. We may be able to ignore spiritual, emotional, and mental pains to some degree, but when the pain manifests on a physical level, it must be addressed.

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” – Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

I will never forget the first time I realized the power of physical pain and how it could move me into another level of consciousness. Lying in my bed, unable to move, the intensity of my pain rose to a level that was beyond my comprehension. It overtook my body and I began to see lights instead of my room around me. Tears came down my face, but there was also a feeling of transcendence. I felt as if I was crossing a threshold, maybe the veil between this world and the other side, and the light became brighter and I was mesmerized by it. All I could do was surrender to it. I felt safe and knew I was with the Divine (what I call the Goddess, or others call God / Spirit / etc.). And though I am not a Christian, in that moment I thought of Job.

Here is my understanding of the bible story of Job… The devil made a bet with God. He said that God’s most faithful human, a man named Job, was faithful only because God had given him a beautiful, prosperous life. The devil claimed that Job would turn away from God if his perfect life was destroyed. God felt that Job’s faith was strong and told the devil to do whatever he wanted to Job, but do not kill him. The devil then attacked Job’s life – his loved ones died, his farm collapsed, his animals became diseased, and his body became covered in painful sores. No matter what happened, Job still praised God. In the end, God returned Job’s fortune to him.

“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

The Book of Job is one of the most analyzed books of the bible. For me, the message is that it is easy to be spiritual and have faith when things are good in our lives… but faith that is real and strong sustains when we are suffering. Do we curse the Divine or say ‘if there is a God, why do bad things happen’? My experience has taught me to move beyond these limited views. Begin to see a bigger picture. Take responsibility for how you may have created your situation – what beliefs you may have that need to be changed.

“You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you will grow if you are sick, if you are in pain, if you experience losses, and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain and learn to accept it, not as a curse or punishment but as a gift to you with a very, very specific purpose.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

We may dislike suffering, but can we also believe that it has a purpose? It is a fact that suffering exists on Earth. Entertain the idea that perhaps we chose to experience this and that is why we are here. Maybe it is something we planned to go through in this lifetime that is bringing growth to us on a soul level. Pain is humbling. Pain shows you what you believe and who you are. In the end, you can choose to hate it or you can accept it and grow from it. There is no reason to live in a state of constant suffering – even as we suffer, we can find joy, we can find something spiritual, and then we can move on.

“You don’t have to suffer continual chaos in order to grow.” – John C. Lilly

Some important information from The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (www.aarda.org):

Autoimmunity is a result of a misdirected immune system that causes one’s own immune system to attack the self. There are over eighty known autoimmune diseases; and unlike the many forms of cancer which are recognized as being part of the general term “cancer,” autoimmune diseases are recognized singularly rather than in the overall category of autoimmunity. The public in general is unaware of the autoimmune nature of these diseases. When most people hear one of these diseases referred to as an autoimmune disease, they incorrectly confuse the term autoimmune with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS); or they think it is a form of cancer.

This lack of knowledge and collaborative effort results in untold suffering for persons with autoimmune diseases due to misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis which may result in damage to vital organs. The need to bring a national focus to autoimmunity as the common factor in all autoimmune diseases is vital in order to bring a collaborative effort to research, funding, early detection, and eventually, prevention and cure for all autoimmune diseases.

Some of the over 80 autoimmune diseases are lupus, type I diabetes, scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, chronic active hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, Graves’ disease, myasthenia gravis, myositis, antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), Sjogren’s syndrome, uveitis, polymyositis, Raynaud’s phenomenon, and demyelinating neuropathies.

10 Simple Things You Can Do To Feel Better

How we feel is a result of how we take care of ourselves. We have to make the choice each day to take responsibility for how we feel and how well we are living our lives. Here are some simple things that I remind myself to do in order to feel centered. May you be inspired to create your own daily rituals for peace and wellness.

1. CREATE YOUR SPACE: Make your home, or even just a part of your home, a sanctuary where you feel surrounded by beauty. This will lead to you doing creative and healthy activities in your home. Clean out clutter and decorate your space with things that you love. Make sure you create the ambiance you want with lighting, whether that means lots of natural light or candlelight or a beautiful lamp. Use scents to enhance the room. Treat yourself to fresh flowers or plants. Make your space one that brings you into a tranquil mindset.

2. JOURNAL: Begin keeping a daily journal. Take a few moments to write down your thoughts, feelings, goals, and dreams. Write down things you are grateful for. Write down memories or wishes. This process of journaling will give you a chance to check in with yourself each day. If you do not like to write, try other creative outlets like art, poetry, or music.

3. MEDITATE: Meditation is a simple way to bring your energy back to a healthy state, as well as find peace of mind. To begin a daily meditation practice, find a quiet time to turn off your phone and electronics, and just sit still with your eyes closed. Focus on your breathing. Just notice your thoughts and practice not attaching to any of them, but rather allow them to float in and out of your mind until you are able to detach from all the thinking your brain wants to do. This will take time and practice to quiet your mind. As you begin to enjoy the benefits of meditation, you may want to find a class or a teacher to learn more advanced techniques.

4. CONNECT WITH NATURE: Go outside someplace that resonates with you. Look at the stars, the ocean, or the green trees – whatever you like. Take in the “prana” or life-force energy that is present in nature and breathe it into your body. Stretch your body, take a walk. The power of nature can restore you on many levels: mentally, emotionally, energetically, and spiritually.

5. DO SMALL ACTS OF KINDNESS FOR YOUR BODY: Make yourself a favorite meal, or even something as simple as a perfect cup of tea or cut up a fruit that you love. Take a bubble bath or a nap. Put a masque of honey on your face or take a class that you’ve been wanting to take. Doing little things to take care of yourself on a daily basis will create more space for you in your own life. It will also give you more stamina to take care of others because you will feel full and nourished and have more to give.

6. MAKE A LIST: Making lists is a way to de-clutter your mind and also it can be fun and help your organize your ideas. Make a list to things you want to do. Make a list of people you want to connect with or dreams/goals you would like to start working on. Make a list of things you are grateful for or people you want to thank. You can even make a list of things you want to get out of your head and put aside to create room for new and more positive thoughts. A list can give you a place to start and can be the first step in moving towards accomplishing your goals.

7. WRITE A LOVE LETTER: This does not necessary have to be a romantic love letter, though those are wonderful too. You can write a letter to anyone you love. Let the people in your life know how you feel about them. Take time to say the things you want to say and let them know you appreciate them. We never know how many chances we will really have to express our love to those around us before they, or we, are gone. It is important to allow your love to flow openly and you will feel better sharing this energy from your heart chakra in a healthy way.

8. GIVE SELFLESSLY: Find some volunteer work or just choose a simple way to give back in some way. Give away something to someone who needs it more than you. If you feel you have no possessions or money to give, you can always give your time or your energy. You can even give a listening ear to a friend. Or surprise someone with a meal or a gift or a visit. Do something nice for someone else, your community, the environment, or animals. Acting selflessly means doing this without expecting anything in return – however one thing that is proven is that doing so will make you feel better. This is because human nature is about being connected to others and the whole and getting outside of ourselves to help others is a way to reconnect.

9. LAUGH: Do you know the last time you cracked up with laughter? When life gets too serious, it is time to find some comedy and amusement. In fact, it will improve your health if you laugh on a daily basis. Surround yourself with funny people who entertain you. Watch a movie or stand-up comedy show that makes you giggle. And, even though it is hard sometimes, learn to laugh at yourself.

10. TEACH WHAT YOU KNOW: There is an old saying that we teach best what we most want to learn. We all have something we are good at. When you take the time to teach others what you know, you increase your own knowledge and develop expertise on a subject. Teaching requires you to take your own skills to the next level. It can be rewarding to teach someone a valuable skill, trade, hobby, or subject. You can teach someone how to read, bake a cake, or plant a garden – anything that you already love to do. Just invite them to join you and teach by example and by doing. They may even end up helping you! And when you teach, you truly always end up learning too.

Top Ways to Increase Focus & Concentration

There are many ways to improve your focus and concentration. I was recently asked if Hypnotherapy would benefit these brain functions and the answer is: yes. Hypnotherapy will boost focus and even uncover unconscious blocks that could be inhibiting your concentration or affecting the clarity of your thinking.

As we age, many people tend to feel a mental fog settling in. This may be an indication that we need to look within. Meditation is a great tool for clearing the mind as are practices such as Yoga or Tai Chi. There are also supplements, herbs, and aromatherapy cures that can assist us. Here are my top 3 recommendations:

FISH OIL: Taking fish oil as a daily supplement can have many health benefits for the entire body due to the high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. DHA and EPA are two fatty acids contained in fish oil that affect the development of the brain and how the nervous system functions. I will focus here only on the benefits for the brain, which include improvement in memory, reasoning, and focus. Research also shows that fish oil supplements help alleviate depression, many symptoms of various mental illnesses, and mood disorders. It has been confirmed to aid children with ADD and ADHD. It is recommended to take during pregnancy to help brain development for the baby and reduce risks of postpartum depression for the mom. Generally fish oil is most easily taken in capsule form and must be stored in the refrigerator. Eating fresh fish is also helpful, but can be unsafe to eat in the necessary quantities due to heavy metals. The dosages vary depending on the reason for taking this supplement. You can buy 1000 mg (1000 mg = 1 g) capsules and begin by taking one capsule three times per day. The dosage for depression can be as much as 6 grams per day and it is a good idea to check with your doctor if you are unsure how much is best for you. Look for brands that are free of mercury. I personally like Nordic Naturals Omega 3 Liquid to add to smoothies or Spectrum softgels.

ROSEMARY ESSENTIAL OIL: An aromatherapy cure for memory and focus is rosemary because it is a cerebral vasodilator, which means it increases blood flow to the brain. If you are studying or wanting to focus, smell fresh rosemary or use a few drops of rosemary essential oil. Another nice combination to create is rosemary and peppermint essential oil blended together. You can put some drops on a tissue and breathe it in periodically or put your mixture into a base oil (like sweet almond oil or apricot seed) and apply to your skin by massage. Another trick is to buy a spray bottle (preferably a glass one which you can find online) and fill with a combination of distilled water and your essential oil blend to make a spritz that you can use to spray yourself or around your environment. It may be best to avoid rosemary essential oil during pregnancy. Consult an Aromatherapist if you have concerns. Buy organic essential oils from a good source. I recommend Original Swiss Aromatics or Oshadi or buying directly from a Certified Aromatherapist.

GINGKO BILOBA LEAF EXTRACT: Gingko Leaf is the herb that has been proven to enhance memory and recall, as well as blood circulation. This herb positively affects cognitive functions, as do most antioxidants, which Gingko is rich in. It helps facilitate oxygen flow to the brain and improves mircro-vascular system circulation. This herb is being studied as a treatment or possibly prevention for Alzheimer’s Disease. I recommend taking an organic liquid extract (either alcohol based or alcohol free). My favorite brands are Gaia Herbs or Herb Pharm. Do not take if you are pregnant or breastfeeeding. Consult a doctor if you are taking other medications or look up contraindications as you would before taking any herbs.

The Mayo Clinic has information about this herb here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ginkgo-biloba/NS_patient-ginkgo

A thorough article on Gingko research from the University of Maryland Medical Center can be accessed here:
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ginkgo-biloba-000247.htm

Ascension Symptoms

I came across this information after researching and reading about ascension symptoms due to my own frustration with myself. I found this particular resource to really cover what a lot of us are experiencing lately. This comes (with much appreciation) from whatsuponplanetearth.com:

Know that although our evolutionary process is rapidly accelerating, along with the New higher energies, we are all experiencing these changes in our own way and in our own time, according to who we are and according to our coding and plan before birth.

In addition, generally speaking, our ascension process relates to how we each run our own individual energy, and what our beliefs and experiences are. In other words, how we are wired and how we vibrate.

These things can be changed and will also change automatically as we clear and embody more light within ourselves.

For me, all of my interesting and ‘strange’ symptoms disappeared after I completely ‘arrived’ in a higher realm; and they will for you as well. These symptoms seem to occur while we are going through the transition, or what I liken to the ‘tunnel’.

Know that there is an end, and an incredibly beautiful, peaceful and loved filled reality awaiting you. May your evolutionary process be joyous, peaceful and filled with light and wonder.

1. Feeling as though you are in a pressure cooker or in intense energy; feeling stress. Remember, you are adjusting to a higher vibration and you will eventually adjust. Old patterns, behaviours and beliefs are also being pushed to the surface. There is a lot going on inside of you.

2. A feeling of disorientation; not knowing where you are; a loss of a sense of place. You are not in 3D anymore, as you have moved or in the process of moving into the higher realms.

3. Unusual aches and pains throughout different parts of your body. You are purifying and releasing blocked energy vibrating at 3D, while you are vibrating in a higher dimension.

4. Waking at night between 2 and 4 a.m. Much is going on in your dream state. You can’t be there for long lengths of time and need a break. This is also the ‘cleansing and releasing’ hour.

5. Memory loss. A great abundance of short term memory loss and only vague remembrances of your past. You are in more than one dimension at a time, and going back and forth as part of the transition, you are experiencing a ‘disconnect’. Also, your past is part of the Old, and the Old is forever gone. Being in the Now is the way of the New World.

6. ‘Seeing’ and ‘hearing’ things. You are experiencing different dimensions as you transition, all according to how sensitive you are and how you are wired.

7. Loss of identity. You try to access the Old you, but it is no longer there. You may not know who you are looking at in the mirror. You have cleared much of your old patterns and are now embodying much more light and a simpler, more purified divine you. All is in order, You are okay.

8. Feeling ‘out of body’. You may feel as though someone is talking, but it is not you. This is our natural defence mechanism of survival when we are under acute stress or feeling traumatized or out of control. Your body is going through a lot and you may not want to be in it. My ascension guide told me that this was a way of easing the transition process, and that I did not need to experience what my body was going through. This only lasted a short time. It passes.

9. Periods of deep sleeping. You are resting from all the acclimating and are integrating, as well as building up for the next phase.

10. Heightened sensitivities to your surroundings. Crowds, noise, foods, TV, other human voices and various other stimulations are barely tolerable. You also overwhelm very easily and become easily overstimulated. You are tuning up. Know that this will eventually pass.

11. You don’t feel like doing anything. You are in a rest period, ‘rebooting’. Your body knows what it needs. In addition, when you begin reaching the higher realms, ‘doing’ and ‘making things happen’ becomes obsolete as the New energies support the feminine of basking, receiving, creating, self-care and nurturing. Ask the Universe to ‘bring’ you what you want while you are enjoying yourself and having fun.

12. An intolerance for lower vibrational things of the 3D, reflected in conversations, attitudes, societal structures, healing modalities, etc. They literally make you feel ’sick’ inside. You are in a higher vibration and your energies are no longer in alignment. You are being ‘pushed, to move forward; to ‘be’ and create the New.

13. A loss of desire for food. Your body is adjusting to a new, higher state of being. Also, part of you does not want to be here anymore in the Old.

14. A sudden disappearance of friends, activities, habits, jobs and residences. You are evolving beyond what you used to be, and these people and surroundings no longer match your vibration. The New will soon arrive and feel so-o-o-o much better.

15. You absolutely cannot do certain things anymore. When you try to do your usual routine and activities, it feels downright awful. You are evolving beyond what you used to be, and these people and surroundings no longer match your vibration. The New will soon arrive and feel so-o-o-o much better.

16. Days of extreme fatigue. Your body is losing density and going through intense restructuring.

17. A need to eat often along with what feels like attacks of low blood sugar. Weight gain, especially in the abdominal area. A craving for protein. You are requiring an enormous amount of fuel for this ascension process. Weight gain with an inability to loose it no matter what you do is one of the most typical experiences. Trust that your body knows what it is doing.

18. Experiencing emotional ups and downs; weeping. Our emotions are our outlet for release, and we are releasing a lot.

19. A wanting to go Home, as if everything is over and you don’t belong here anymore. We are returning to Source. Everything is over, but many of us are staying to experience and create the New World. Also, our old plans for coming have been completed.

20. Feeling you are going insane, or must be developing a mental illness of some sort. You are rapidly experiencing several dimensions and greatly opening. Much is available to you now. You are just not used to it. Your awareness has been heightened and your barriers are gone. This will pass and you will eventually feel very at Home like you have never felt before, as Home is now here.

21. Anxiety and panic. Your ego is losing much of itself and is afraid. Your system is also on overload. Things are happening to you that you may not understand. You are also losing behaviour patterns of a lower vibration that you developed for survival in 3D. This may make you feel vulnerable and powerless. These patterns and behaviours you are losing are not needed in the higher realms. This will pass and you will eventually feel so much love, safety and unity. Just wait.

22. Depression. The outer world may not be in alignment with the New, higher vibrational you. It doesn’t feel so good out there. You are also releasing lower, darker energies and you are ’seeing’ through them. Hang in there.

23. Vivid, wild and sometimes violent dreams. You are releasing many, many lifetimes of lower vibrational energy. Many are now reporting that they are experiencing beautiful dreams. Your dream state will eventually improve and you will enjoy it again. Some experience this releasing while awake. My mother commented one day that she believed I was having nightmares in the daytime.

24. Night sweats and hot flashes. Your body is ‘heating’ up as it burns off residue.

25. Your plans suddenly change in mid-stream and go in a completely different direction. Your soul is balancing out your energy. It usually feels great in this new direction, as your soul knows more than you do. It is breaking your ‘rut’ choices and vibration.

26. You have created a situation that seems like your worst nightmare, with many ‘worst nightmare’ aspects to it. Your soul is guiding you into ’stretching’ into aspects of yourself where you were lacking, or into ‘toning down’ aspects where you had an overabundance. Your energy is just balancing itself. Finding your way to peace through this situation is the test you have set up for yourself. This is your journey, and your soul would not have set it up if you weren’t ready. You are the one who finds your way out and you will. Looking back, you will have gratitude for the experience and be a different person.

5 Natural Remedies That Really Work

Here are 5 easy, inexpensive natural remedies for common health challenges:

1. COLD SORES: Apply Propolis 5 times per day. Propolis is a resin that bees collect from trees (sap), buds, barks, etc. and use it to line areas of the hive. It is an antiseptic and is used to create a sterilized environment for the Queen Bee to lay her eggs. I have suffered from cold sores and tried every product. Propolis is the best thing for this! My favorite product is called: Honey Gardens Apitherapy Propolis Spray with Purple Loosestrife & Usnea. I spray it in my palm and then dab it on a cold sore 5 x per day. You will be amazed.

2. HEARTBURN: Try drinking raw, organic apple cider vinegar (2 tbsps) in a glass of water after a meal. You may add raw honey or stevia to sweeten. This is a cure to heartburn because it contains ash and therefore creates an alkaline environment in your body and normalizes your PH balance. It also has many other benefits! Try it! And none of the side effects of heartburn medications.

3. SORE THROAT: The best thing for a sore throat is Osha Root (Ligusticum porterii) tincture. Yes, it smells herbal, yes it tastes a little strong if you are not used to taking herbs. However, it is antibacterial, antiviral, and decongestant, among other things and will take down inflammation of the throat and kill infections. Take one dropperful and squirt it directly down your throat – be sure to get it on the walls of your throat so it can work. Leave it on your throat for a bit before you take a drink of anything if you can. I do this three times a day beginning at the first sign of a sore throat and it goes away fast! My favorite product is: Herb Pharm Osha Root tincture.

4. BURNS: For first degree burns or sunburns, apply Lavender essential oil directly to the burn. It will take away sting and heal the skin tissues. You may mix it will Aloe Vera gel if you like or fresh aloe squeezed from a plant, which is best. If you burn yourself in the kitchen, immerse your burn in cold water with a Lavender essential oil added to it. Then apply more Lavender once you have dried the area.

5. YEAST INFECTION: An hour before breakfast and dinner, try taking 2 capsules of Acidophilus orally. I love Solaray non-dairy Acidophilus. Taking this daily is great for your health in many ways and will help regulate the balance of yeast or candida in the digestive and reproductive tracks. You can also get the effects by eating yogurt or drinking kefir daily. You can also insert a capsule vaginally (some people recommend using yogurt, but it is too messy in my opinion) once or twice a day. Usually this will clear up the problem, however if it does not, you should see a doctor because sometimes people think they have a yeast infection and it is a different type of infection that needs different treatment.

The Lady’s Prayer

Here is a beautiful prayer that conveys a positive message and is not fear-based. More information can be found on: ReligiousTolerance.org.

This is a Wiccan prayer patterned after the Shepherd Psalm. The latter is found in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) at Psalms 23:1. The author is unknown.

THE LADY’S PRAYER

The Earth is my Mother.
I shall not want.
Her hand brings forth the green pastures.
She tarries within the still waters.
She leads me in fields of fruitfulness for my Glory.
Yea, as I walk through the summer of life unto death,
I will not be afraid, for You are with me.
Your womb in the earth will enfold me.
You prepare a harvest before me and bless my home with children.
You fill me with milk and honey.
My cup overflows.
Surely, goodness and beauty will nurture me all the days of my life,
and I will become part of the earth forever.

The Age of Aquarius

We are no longer in the Christian-ruled era of Pisces which means we are moving away from polarizing everything as either good or evil and right or wrong. In other words – we are moving away from judgment-based assumptions. Some great information from Amirah Hall, my spiritual teacher and friend:

“There’s a Shift Occurring….

This may sound like nothing more than a feel-good, hippie slogan and many people scoff at the notion that any kind of positive change is happening in our world. And while this might be the case for the moment, it is hard to ignore the fact that major changes are indeed underway all over the world, seemingly directing our attention to the idea that a “paradigm shift” of some kind is taking place.

But just what is it that we are shifting into…and away from?

To put it simply, we are shifting away from old, fear-based habits and imagining a whole new reality for ourselves – a reality based on hope rather than despair, of abundance rather than lack, of peace rather than war, of contentedness rather than yearning, and of connectedness rather than separation. We are awakening to the fact that a new era is upon us, and that we have the ability to co-create the hopeful future we desire for ourselves and this planet.”

– by Amirah Hall
http://www.amirahhall.com/

Here’s a few tips on how to participate in The Shift…
www.amirahhall.com/age-of-aquarius

Herbs & Natural Ideas for Summer

I just moved to Texas and it is HOT. Here are a few ideas for cooling off and feeling better in the heat… no matter where you live!

PEPPERMINT – herb: Add fresh peppermint to your lemonade or ice tea. You can also used dried Peppermint to make an herbal iced tea. You can used loose leaf dried Peppermint or Peppermint herbal tea bags. Brew it hot or by making Sun Tea outside. Use about one tablespoon Peppermint per 8 oz of water. Steep for 20 minutes and strain and refrigerate. I like to order herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs.

PEPPERMINT – essential oil: Peppermint essential oil is great (and inexpensive compared to other essential oils) to use on the skin to cool off. Essential oils are the volatile oils that are steam distilled from plants and have aroma-therapeutic properties. Add a few drops to your bath or mix with lotion or massage oil to apply to skin. Soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and add a couple drops of Peppermint essential oil and wipe on hot spots like the back of the neck, wrists, back of knees, etc. Just be sure not to get it into your eyes (wash hands afterward) or too near your eyes or they will water (thanks Jenny for that idea!).

BORAGE: Borage is an herb that has cooling properties. It offers cleansing and detoxifying effects and soothes the nerves. It has a lot of other properties as well such as: alleviating depression, increasing milk flow for breast-feeding moms, and can work as a mild laxative. Make it as a herbal tea or infusion. You can try it in a formula by combining it with other herbs like lavender, rose petals, chamomile, or lemon balm. Borage flowers are also edible and can be infused in honey and eaten as another remedy.

CUCUMBER WATER: For a more cooling and spa-like drink than just plain water, try slicing a cucumber and putting it into a pitcher with spring water and ice. There is no need to steep this, you can drink it right away and throughout the day – make a fresh batch daily.

ROSEWATER FACIAL SPRITZ: You can buy rosewater at many grocery stores in the “ethnic foods” aisle or you can buy Rose Floral Water at a health food store, Whole Foods, or order it from an aromatherapy company. Use it in a spray bottle to spritz your skin before applying moisturizer. You can also add Rescue Remedy to the spray to calm your skin. A few drops of Rose Geranium essential oil are a nice addition as well. Try storing it in the refrigerator for an extra cool spray.

STEVIA: Try Stevia as a sweetener instead of sugar. In the summer, we don’t need extra calories or the blood sugar crash that sugar can give us. Stevia is an herb that is more than 100 times sweeter (up to 300 x sweeter) than sugar with no calories – plus it has the benefit of helping to get rid of bacteria in the mouth – so it prevents cavities rather than causing them like sugar does! Stevia is sold in either a powdered form or a liquid and is very affordable – especially because you use so little at a time (try the KAL brand). Use it to sweeten ice teas, coffee, and bake with. You can also use it to sweeten homemade lip balms! This herb is non-toxic and great for diabetics.

ALOE VERA: Use fresh aloe vera when you can – keep a plant in your yard or home and open a leaf and rub on sunburned skin. Also works great for all types of burns.

LAVENDER – essential oil: Lavender is wonderful for healing burns of the skin, including sunburns. Mix it with lotion or massage oil and apply.

WHITE CLAY: Buy a small amount of white clay at a health food store and mix with water to apply to bug bites to calm itchiness and stings. Also works well for oily summertime breakouts of the skin.

Women’s Herbal Tisane to Soothe the Soul

This is a tea blend I recently created for a family member and it came out really nice! I like it because it tastes somewhat herbal and also part flowery and more like a beverage tea. Use organic herbs if possible.

RECIPE:
1 part Oatstraw: calming, nutritive, and coats and soothes the nerves
1 part Lemon balm: treats stress and lifts mild depression and anxiety
1 part Comfrey leaf: overall tonic and healing to wounds, skin, and bones
2 parts Chamomile: safe, mild sedative that relaxes and soothes
2 parts pink Rosebuds: aromatic herb that lifts our vibration and treats lethargy and depression

Mix together all herbs in a bowl and then store in a glass jar in a cabinet or away from sunlight to preserve their medicinal properties. To brew: boil a quart or so of water. Once boiled, turn off heat and remove from stove. Then add a scoop of this tea (about half a cup – more or less depending on how strong you like your teas). Cover pot and allow to steep at least 20 minutes and as long as overnight. Then strain and drink either hot or iced. I keep a pitcher in the fridge and drink my teas throughout the day. Honey is a great sweetener for this tea. Enjoy!!

An Introduction To Aromatherapy

WHAT IS AROMATHERAPY?
Aromatherapy is the art of using scents – more specifically essential oils, which are distilled or extracted from plants – to create health spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

There is much debate about why plants produce essential oils because plants do not appear to use these oils for their own functions or survival. In fact, some plants produce hundreds of extra substances that scientists cannot determine uses for within the plant. One of the theories in herbalism is that plants are producing these substances as medicines for humans.

THE EVOLUTION OF AROMATHERAPY
Evidence of the use of aromatic plant oils can be traced back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians who used the oils in the mummification process. Aromatic plants were used in ancient times in Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, Greek, and Roman cultures, to name a few, for both cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Though the popularity of using aromatics declined after the fall of the Roman Empire, the art of using herbs / aromatics was preserved in the monasteries.

Avicenna (AD 980 – 1037) was an Arab scholar and physician who invented the refrigerated coil which was considered a break-through because it allowed essential oils to be steam distilled, though archaeological discoveries in Pakistan have discovered that this process was being used around 3000 BC in the ancient Indus Valley. Avicenna’s invention spread through Europe. Herbs and spices from all parts of the world were then being discovered and and traded and distilled for perfumes, alchemy, and medical interests.

The term “aromatherapy” was coined by a French Chemist named Rene-Maurice Gattefosse in 1928. He accidentally discovered the healing effects of lavender oil after he burned his hand severely during his work at his family’s perfume business and plunged his hand into the nearest container of liquid – lavender essential oil. He was amazed to discover how the lavender healed the burn and left him without a scar. He went on to publish many works on the healing properties and psychotherapeutic benefits of essential oils. Lavender oil is still used in hospitals in France and other parts of Europe to treat burn victims.

PURCHASING ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils can be purchased at many health food stores, as well as online. Always use pure (organic if possible) essential oils – buying cheap oils is a waste of money because they may contain solvents or other chemicals. If you are pregnant, you should not use essential oils without consulting an aromatherapist, as certain oils are considered abortifacients. Some essential oils also cause phototoxicity for some people, so it is best to use sunscreen or avoid harsh sun if you are using the oils directly on your skin, especially if you are sensitive to the sun.

When buying oils, check the label for the botanical name of the plant which should be listed by genus followed by species. For example, Jasmine is the common name for the plant whose botanical name is: Jasminum (genus) officinale (species).

INTERESTING STUDIES IN ENGLAND
In England, aromatherapy has been studied for as means of lessening anxiety and stress for intensive care patients. See article: http://internethealthlibrary.com/HealthinHospitals/intensivecare.htm

Recently, scientists researching essential oils have found that it is effective for killing ‘superbugs’ such as MRSA which are present in hospitals and responsible for thousands of deaths per year, effecting people with weakened immune systems. According to the BBC article, http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/1/hi/health/4116053.stm, “The team then tested 40 essential oils against 10 of the most infectious agents found in hospitals, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). Two of the oils were found to kill MRSA and E.coli almost instantly, while a third was found to act over a longer period of time.”

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN STUDYING AROMATHERAPY….

My aromatherapy teacher was Francoise Rapp, a Licensed Aromatherapist and Perfumer living in Paris. She offers webclasses and has excellent material to purchase and download on her site: http://aromalchemy.com/

Another wonderful Aromatherapist whose books and articles I rely on is Jeanne Rose. She is the Director of the Institute of Aromatic Studies. She offers home study courses and classes in the San Francisco area. She also sells high quality oils on her site: http://www.jeannerose.net/