Friday, December 29, 2017

BEAUTY BITES: DIGESTIVE HOLIDAY DRINKS WITH THE CHALKBOARD MAGAZINE


B E A U T Y   B I T E S  | D I G E S T I V E   H O L I D A Y  D R I N K S
A round-up of drinks to pop-fizz-clink in the New Year with digestive herbs & non-alcoholic options for my The Chalkboard Magazine's Instagram stories takeover . . . 

This Holiday season, let’s take the stress out of indulgence and digestion. Here is a cocktail, spritzer, & a punch to indulge in the celebratory clinks that don’t taste like giving up or a mental kick-in-the-butt so to speak. Inspired equally by craft drinks and cross-culture remedies, these drinks all have plants & herbs that aid in digestion so you can indulge without the bloat. You can learn more about digestive herbs in my upcoming book!

CURRENTLY CREASING №25

C U R R E N T L Y   C R E A S I N G
A collection of weekly reads to guide you through your days . . .

2 | Hop along to The Chalkboard Magazine's Instagram stories today to catch my NYE drink recipes, which can be made non-alcoholic to boot!

3 | The History of Self-care, from its yuppie roots to its political resurgence

4 | On not making New Year's resolutions

5 | As I mentioned before, I've been making it a priority to return to my English major roots & rekindle my passion for reading beyond books related to my line of work in wellness. 

I couldn't put this book down over Thanksgiving & I'm now reading this after finishing this. If you need a mental escape into magic realism and the unconscious, these books are it. Need a shorter read? Here's Scheherazade from the New Yorker.

6 | How to have a happy, healthy brain with one of my favourite artists, Maira Kalman

7 | It's not just about sex, it's about work

8 | Astrology for the Holidays & what Mercury has up its sleeve

9 | Advice to quell your stress about the new tax bill & returns

11 | On managing chronic illness with humour and the accompanying book you should order

12 | The brandless company that is making online grocery shopping cheaper & better

the T H O U G H T  O F  T H E  W E E K
"Maybe working on the little things
as dutifully and honestly as we can
is how we stay sane when the world is falling apart"

—HARUKI MURAKAMI 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

FARMACY: EASY DIGESTION

F A R M A C Y |  E A S Y   D I G E S T I O N
A  guide to gathering around the table & indulging with loved ones without digestive or mental woes, for the Holiday season & beyond . . .


Pre- and Probiotics & Digestives
Always opt for whole foods first as a source of pre- and probiotics. Prebiotics prime your digestive system for optimal uptake of probiotics since they cannot be digested. Natural sources of prebiotics include garlic, onions, plantains, asparagus, green bananas, jerusalem artichoke, chicory, dandelion, jicama, and apples. These are also high in fructoolligosaccharides (FOS), so they might cause gas or bloating in large quantities for those who already have sensitive digestion. For probiotics, opt for fermented vegetables such as these, sauerkraut, coconut yoghurt or kefir.

As for supplements, I recommend this probiotic since my favourite Prescript-Assist changed manufacturers & formula. The only other three supplements I recommend clients for digestion are MSM, L-Glutamine, and Digestive Enzymes. MSM is high in  the antioxidant mineral sulfur, which is used to produce glycosaminoglycans and is then used to coat structural connective tissues, repairing the gut lining. L-Glutamine also does this & I recommend this one on an empty stomach, especially after a workout for additional tissue repair. For digestive enzymes, I use these ones



Mindfulness
Prime yourself on how to approach your food and consequently your body mindfully with this article from the archives.



Energy Healing
Part of digestive woes is also caused by increased anxiety, especially around food. This can be inherent through disordered eating (and if so, please seek treatment here & read my series The Narrative, starting here) or guilt around indulgence. It is believed in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) & Energy Medicine that this depletes the energy of the Kidney meridian. I have an entire section on Energy Medicine in my upcoming book, which you can pre-order here or here! The kidney meridian filters the body's toxic energies, so it is not a surprise when it's depleted during times with the increased stress or rush of the seasons. 

When the meridian is stimulated through energy work or acupressure, it leads to a feeling of clarity & vitality in the body as these energy channels open up. A way to activate the energies of the kidney meridian is by applying pressure or massaging the Wellspring of Life (k1) point on the bottom of each foot. It relates to the water element and helps in making peace with the flow of life by providing a surge of life force, allowing us to be present in the busyness of the Holidays and face the New Year.

Another meridian of importance is the Spleen meridian, which controls the digestive system & regulated the movement of fluids. Deficient spleen energy results in fluid retention, which can manifest as bloating. As spleen energy also rules digestion, it also affects the absorption of nutrients. Inadequate uptake of nutrients or a malnourished diet nourishes neither the body nor the mind. 

As nutritional therapy, the spleen is comforted by sweet foods. This obviously does not mean processed sugar, which would further deplete spleen energy, but rather foods such as root vegetables. The spleen also is energised by warmer foods, so a cup of pumpkin soup with warming spices such as cinnamon & mineralising dash of pink salt is deeply restorative for the spleen.

To heal the energies of the spleen meridian, tap right below the breasts & the first rib bone. You can locate these points by placing your fingers on your thymus, moving them down to the breasts, then right below the first rib. Tap on these points for about 15 seconds to harmonise your body's rhythm, hormones, removal of toxins, and to combat chronic fatigue. 



Abhyanga
Abhyanga is a traditional Ayurvedic medicine practice that dates thousands of years & is touted to combat digestive woes by increasing circulation & promoting lymph drainage. Simply pick the oil that is appropriate for your constitution or  doshasesame for vata,  sunflower for pitta, and  coconut oil for kapha—gently warm it up, and massage it in upward strokes. I normally use sesame seed oil to reground my energy or reach for Jiva Apoha's  Amma after my travels to recirculate stagnant energy.  Here is a wonderful instructional video from the Ayurvedic leader Banyan Botanicals. Ayurvedically speaking, this is also a balancing activity for  not only physical transitions but that of the seasons.

"Your vital issues are created from nature's seasonal rhythms & provisions. By imbibing nature's foods, you are able to transport nature's essential nutrients to your cells, thus your mood, memory and overall health are directly affected by the biorhythms held within the tissues of your body. This is why we must remain attentive to the cyclical changes of our inner rhythms during each season and its transition into another” — Bri Maya Tiwari

Friday, December 22, 2017

THE NARRATIVE: MEETING THE SHADOW

T H E   N A R R A T I V E  |  M E E T I N G   T H E   S H A D O W 
This week, we're continuing the Jungian psychosomatic understanding of the body with the meeting of the Shadow, our psychological immune system, and why it is not a mere negative mechanism.

You can learn more by reading the previous posts of The Narrative series here.


Meeting the Shadow

“This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine” 

                                                                                                                                                             —william shakespeare

Much of what we know about ourselves, our moralities, and our drives is not an accurate reflection of who we truly are. Each of us contains both a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You might have noticed this aspect of the self in thinking "Why are the people around me being difficult?" or "Why do I keep getting into situations like this?" These are the workings of your Mr. Hyde or your Shadow.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, I don't hide any dark aspect; you might be interjecting, "You don't know my name, you don't know my story, you don't know what I've been through!" Yet, psychological theory is here to tell you otherwise. In fact, what you know about yourself in consciousness is just the tip of the iceberg. Our pleasure principles, urges, and desires—our Id—as well as the unconscious are well below the surface of our immediate awareness. 


“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions” 

                                                                                                                                                             —c. g. jung

An example of this shadow, Mr. Hyde self is when we find ourselves uttering something hurtful or having a complete Freudian slip that we immediately regret. The thought process that follows of "Why the @#$% did I say that?" is a manifestation of our blind spot, a Titanic one so to speak. It's the shadow slipping out & above the waters of your consciousness. 



Some situations where you have met your Shadow will include ones such as when we exclaim:

Exaggerated exclamatory statements about others: "How could she wear/say/do that?!

When we have repeated offensive behaviour with different people: "Your sister and I are upset by how you're always late"

In impulsive acts or behaviours: "I can't believe I just said that out loud!"

Humiliation: "I'm so ashamed by her behaviour"

In negative feedback from those who mirror our Shadow: "It's the nth time you have been late to work without giving notice"

Despite your response being obvious or even justified, a shadow-cast response is one for which you felt a lack of control or betrayal of the constructed or proper version of yourself. It's as if, like Mr. Hyde, there's another person operating your mental machinery. This is your shadow self, the container of your unexplored negative behaviours and emotions such as rage, jealousy, envy, shame, lust, dishonesty, and greed, jus to name a few. This shadow is masked by our more proper, presentable selves.

The shadow develops naturally through childhood. As we have positive behaviours such as politeness reinforced and other, socially unacceptable ones such as rudeness disapproved. As a result, the ego develops in tandem with the shadow through life experiences. 

The ego and shadow are inseparable. This is a key idea. Many forces develop our Shadow, ranging from our family to more complex factors such as our environment or sociocultural status. So, what becomes our ego and our Shadow will vary. Some cultures permit sexuality while others don't just as with artistic expression or financial pursuits. These feelings, traits, or capacities that are denied through experience for the ego are then exiled into the Shadow. However, that does not mean that all aspects of the Shadow are negative, such as neurotic symptoms or infantile tendencies; some of our talents and gifts also stem from our shadow. 

This is because, in Jungian psychology, the Shadow also retains contact with the "lost depths of the soul, with life and vitality—the superior, the universally human . . . even the creative." It's our psychic immune system, building our psychological body.

So, in meeting your shadow this week, create a two-column list. On one side, honestly (perhaps brutally so, as you'll be the only one to read it) list all of your traits or tendencies that you or society deems negative. Some questions to bring these up are:

What do you catch yourself in the act of & regret? What holds you back from accomplishing or even reaching for a goal? How are you disconnecting from others? 

On the other hand side, list traits or talents that you value in yourself, think of characteristics that not only shape you but impact others positively.

Once you complete the list, reflect on how your Shadow has and continues to shape you both negatively and positively. Watch over your behaviour fand interactions for the next week, which might be especially strained or triggering of the Shadow with the Holidays. Be compassionate with yourself and remember that both the Ego and Shadow are protective mechanisms. This is not to fix but the boost your psychological immune system; these investigations are vaccines.

In the next installment, we will dive into separating the negative sources of the Shadow through the Collective Shadow. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

THE GUIDE: FREE MOOD BOOSTERS

free mood booster
T H E   G U I D E  | F R E E   M O O D   B O O S T E R S
guide to boosting your mood & those of others for free, because it's not just about baths, and potions, and psychological work. It's good & feels good to be just kind to yourself and others . . .


Gallery Hopping
You don't need a background in Art History to appreciate galleries. My favourite Renaissance man, John Berger, spoke often of the merits of observation. You can read or watch the series on ways of seeing here.  In a research study, when participants observed paintings from artists ranging from Monet to Rembrandt, the blood flow to certain parts of their brain increased by around 10 percent, equivalent to that of gazing at a romantic partner. Either hop on over to a local gallery or museum or gaze at the online collections of MoMa or head to the Louvre for a virtual tour.


Colour Psychology
The journal Science and proponents of Colour Psychology have shown that the effect of colour can reach from treating not only seasonal mood fluctuations with more than 40% in increased contentment (!) and even mental performance but afflictions related to emotions such as disordered eating

Opt for light therapy or for a completely free option, simply incorporate more of the colour(s) that elevate your mod. You yourself are aware in your individual preference for what the effect certain colours have on you. If you think "pink makes me happy," that message is psychosomatically reinforced as a message to your mind. 


Organise, Clean, & Give
The merits of physical cleaning compounds itself into emotional cleansing or, as Aziz Ansari puts it, some sort of—queue music—sexual healing. Rather than tackling the entire house where you most likely have a few doors behind and holes in which you have stuffed stuff, focus on one drawer or closet. Perhaps it's the pantry where you have unexpired dried & packaged goods you could donate. There's certainly at least a handful of clothing that you could spare to take to Goodwill. If not, maybe lend a parent a hand in cleaning out theirs to donate retired suits to donate. Business suits can be so costly and especially for those who are unemployed. Dress for Success is a powerful organisation that helps women entre the workforce by providing business attire for interviews.

You can also give your time if, of course, time permits. My family and I are planning on volunteering our time at a local soup kitchen for the Holidays. You can search for the nearest one for you. When we do good, we feel good. It's not a matter of "others have it worse" but perspective on humanity—meeting others in their basic needs of shelter, food, and comfort. 


Musicophilia
Another great mind I have long admired (and aspired to in my medical school prep days when I was intending to be a neurologist), Oliver Sacks sings of the neurological effect music has on our brains. In his book, he speaks of how there is no single musical centre in the brain but rather 20 to 30 networks that span across the hemispheres that analyse its different components. Such intricacy can be seen through a patient of his with Alzheimer's who "[had] no idea what he did for a living or what he did 10 minutes ago" yet "[remembered] the baritone part to almost every song he has ever sung." It was "the only thing that kept him grounded in the world" and so can it be for you. Here is a playlist you can dance to or emotionally escape away with to a warm, sunny daze . . .



Physical or Emotional Warmth
Surely loneliness can cause emotional turmoil and being embraced by a loved one can combat that to a certain extent. That is the emotional sensation of warmth and affection. Yet, when we are far from loved ones, do not currently have a partner, or are perhaps even in the depths of depression, physical sensation of warmth can also aid in increasing or stabilising mood. According to research, hot showers or cups of tea can be substitutes for the social sense of warmth by activating a similar neurological response as emotional warmth. Not to advocate for social isolation but to supplement it when and if possible. 


Fake It 'Till You Make It
Apparently this is not a clichéd myth when it comes to psychosomatic pathways. According to a study that, of all participants, looked at those who recently received Botox injections, a procedure that inhibited their ability to frown. Despite not directly feeling more attractive immediately post-procedure, they did report feeling happier and less anxious. The conclusion was that this was due to their inability to pout and frown. Again, this is not to advocate for suppressing any welling of negative emotions, but when we are in a neutral or blasé state, to see how shifting our facial muscles into a smile can provide a neurological feedback to uplift our mood, too.


Rewrite Your Future
So, not technically but you can possibly shift the perspective of the future version of yourself by sending your future self an e-mail to be delivered a year or five years from now. It's a point of reflection that might shift your current perspective, too, into one of gratitude.