Monday, January 15, 2018

FAQ Working with the Elemental Guides

Premise: As a Shamanic Practitioner, I will from time to time, call on the Elements to help me with Healing, or with moving or influencing energy. How I use / call on Elementals is / can be different than how any other practitioner / Witch / Shaman / etc uses them. 


Our Earth is comprised of all elements - Earth, Water, Fire, and Air / Wind. Everything on Earth is derived from elements as well - the Human body is 70% water, after all.

When working with the Elements (Elementals), you must always remember that Elements have the power to shift - water turns to ice, fire to ash, etc.

.::Here is are a few questions usually asked regarding how to work with Elementals::.

1. Where do I find an Elemental?
They are everywhere. A flame on your candle, water in your sink, ice in your freezer, dirt in your flower box, air that you breathe.

2. How do I begin working with an Elemental?
-Believe in them and their existence
-Open your heart and show love to all living creatures
-Care for animals, plants, and flowers and surround yourself in their energy everyday
-Care for the environment
-Be a good person and show love and gratitude (elementals mirror our behavior)
-Communicate with them - ask how you can help them and watch for their signs
-Ask them to help you in your life

3. What can I ask the Elemental to do or help me with?
You can ask Elementals to help you in anyway - starting a project, opening communication, releasing stagnant energy, purifying objects, etc. All Elementals can be helpful, but each has their area of specialty. 

Earth - Grounding / centering, building stability, prosperity, material possessions, abundance, build solid foundations in business, relationships, the home. Use also for creating peace, growing plants, money magic, growing family,  & fertility.

Water - healing, purification, psychic awareness and protection. Water is the realm of peace, tranquility, but can also be used to create FAST change when needed. Helps with increasing emotions, dispelling dear, and blocking psychic attacks.

Fire - energy, success, courage, transformation, leadership, strength, passion, love, sex, romance, banishing, creating new beginnings, destroy the old to make way for new, & obtain your desires.

Air -clear thinking, new ideas, new beginnings, clear communication, change, and solutions to problems, new thoughts, reason, intellect, knowledge, freedom, memory, and awareness.

**You can also ask each Element(al) how they can help you in your life!

If you are are learning about Shamanism, you can journey with the Elements and they can show you ways they may be able to help as well as asking them during your journey for things like healing, purification, and assistance.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

On Perfume

Making a perfume is much more than throwing together some scents and hoping they mix well, and smell good. Think about the last time you wore perfume or cologne. What was the occasion? Why did you pick that scent? Are there some scents that you cherish and only use for special times? Do you have a signature scent?

There is a reason why we cherish scent the way we do. Our nose or olfactory membrane is the only spot in the human body where our central nervous system comes into direct contact with our environment. This means that we first perceive things through our nose. We smell the cookies baking before we see them or taste them.

Our sense of smell is first processed through the limbic lobe - the oldest part of our brain and the place where all of our emotional impulses are. This is why certain scents and odors can make us feel nostalgic - happy, sad, make us long for people, places, things. When we come into contact with a smell we have already reacted to and our minds are making a mental note of when, where, why, so that twenty years from now, when you are walking down the street and catch a whiff of a past lover's cologne, your memory is triggered to that night you had your first kiss. Or when you enter a bakery, and the smell takes you back to your grandmother's kitchen. Spice does that for me, it makes me remember my dad cooking in our family home.

Whether it's flowers in bloom, bread baking, smoke, or a wet dog, we can tell what each scent comes from without needing to see it's source of origin. Throughout our lives, our nose and sense of smell is recording everything - everything, from the mundane - burnt toast, to the intimate - your lover's cologne. There is no greater power we have that can recall memories, impressions, - all with deep emotional roots and ties within our soul. How exquisite is that?

The perfume or cologne we choose has it's place too - it's the constant smell that will frame your (and those of who you come into contact with) experiences while you are wearing it. Make sure you love it. 💖

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Acetaminophen: Killing More Than Pain

When was the last time a doctor recommended you take acetaminophen, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or one of the common NSAIDs for pain and inflammation? This week? 

Me too.

Did your doctor mention the common side effects? Mine didn't.

Consumer Reports wrote about a recent study in Scotland where researchers found that, while we all know that overdosing on acetaminophen can be fatal, a toxic overdose can also be caused over time when people consistently take a little more than the daily maximum. 

This isn't just a problem for people who knowingly overdose or abuse drugs. Just as many people are seen in the ER due to accidental overdose. Why?

Two main reasons:

1. The FDA and the pharmaceuticals manufacturing OTC drugs don't have the same definition for a "Daily Maximum". Is it 1,000 mg, or is it 4,000 mg? Nobody seems to know.

2. Acetaminophen is used in over 600 other OTC medicines, from allergy and cold meds to sleep aids and fever reducers. It's really easy to take more than you intend to.

What are some of the most common problems acetaminophen can cause?

This particular drug is so popular because it doesn't present the same stomach damage potential that drugs like Ibuprofen do. However, Tylenol (acetaminophen) does not decrease inflammation, can be toxic even slightly over the daily max dose, and, combined with alcohol, can cause liver failure. 

Learn more about the pros and cons of 4 of the most common pain killers.

What does this have to do with herbal remedies and pain salves? 

Herbs like turmeric, cayenne pepper, arnica, frankincense, and Devil's Claw are all effective in decreasing inflammation. A knowledgeable herbalist will also tell you that you can't take frankincense internally, but it is very effective in a topical application. The others are safe and effective both internally and externally. Overdosing on herbs is nearly unheard of, both because of common sense and practicality. 

Comfrey is one of the only herbs that includes some warnings and probably shouldn't be taken internally (though not everyone agrees on this). The point is that nature's provisions are just as powerful and plentiful as those created in a lab, and oftentimes more so. 

We all have options when it comes to our health, and it's not a pills-or-pain world. You can advocate for yourself by educating yourself, not just on alternatives to western medicine but also how certain drugs will affect your body. Doctors know a lot, but they don't always know what's best for us.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanks Giving

My Gratitude List

  • Family & Friends & Fur Babies
  • Love
  • Healing
  • Creativity
  • Our Home
  • Hope
  • The Balm Lady's Customers 😍
  • Megan's Business Success
  • Change 
  • Beauty
  • Music
  • New Experiences
  • Silence
  • Coffee 💟
  • Sunshine
  • Laughter
  • Good Memories
  • Good books
  • Good food
This list is not complete....

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 20, 2017

An Introduction to Rolfing

What to Expect in a Session

Rolfing is a deep-tissue manipulation of the fasciae, holding muscles and bones together, a practice developed by Ida P. Rolf in the 1950s. Rolf, along with contemporaries in similar fields such as Alexander Lowen and Wilhelm Reich, was very interested in the human body's interdependent relationship with our environment, gravity, and our emotions.

Rolf's main goal in this deep tissue work was to reestablish "the natural alignment and structural integration of the human body for vitality and well-being," as stated in her book, Rolfing. One focus of this realignment is on maneuvering the body's tissue, which affects bones, muscles, balance, and posture, in order to reestablish a healthy relationship with gravity. 

Gravity is the main force always acting on our bodies and it takes its toll, accentuating the imbalances imposed by injury or internalized emotions, and Ida Rolf's techniques are still used as a paradigm shift for a patient's physicality.

What does all this look like? I went to observe my partner's Rolfing session, and on entering the room the setup reminded me of a massage clinic. The office lighting was low and the atmosphere was calm. Female and male clients remove everything but their underwear and lie under a blanket on the table with their face toward the ceiling. A Rolfing session lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, and within that time a client will lie on his or her back, stomach, and either side in varying postings.

There is a high level of cohesion between Rolfing clinicians because they all go through the same training and certification process. Most offer a 10-session series that progressively works with different parts of a client's body week by week, but clinicians do not recommend ever repeating the series, though some people come back for occasional "tune-ups". 

Rolfing can be a painful experience, as most will attest, because of the nature of the body manipulation. This is different than a typical massage because massages tend to deal with the points of pain or tight muscles, while Rolfers trace pain or physical problems to their origins, which are often in very unexpected areas of the body (i.e. neck pain being caused by an imbalance in one's feet). They use their fists, elbows, and knuckles rather than thumbs, and though the process is painful, clients report that it is a "good", cleansing type of pain. 

Since every body is different and since we all go through different experiences, some people have more problems with some parts of their bodies than others. Rolfers often see the manifestation of "body memories", which means that when they work on a certain muscle or body structure, an emotional memory might surface for the client, taking him or her back to a moment of injury, pain, or abuse in his or her past. Many clients say that this is an emotive process, and Rolfers correlate certain sessions in their series with the release of different emotions.

Overall, Rolfing is a good way to recalibrate one's body, release pent-up emotions, and work on chronic pain, with results that last longer than any other discipline in the bodywork field.

Giving Thanks for Valerian: Therapeutic Uses and Brain Basics (part 1)

Most nights, if I want to get some solid sleep, both the dogs and I take a Valerian tablet or two. Insomnia lite and general sleep disruption have followed me since I was a kid. Doctors are fond of prescribing heavy drugs for this (half a tablet of Seroquel once left me nearly comatose for a day and a half), but eventually I decided that Klonopin and all the rest could shove it. I was still tired, done with feeling like a zombie.

Then I found valerian. Valerian is a plant that is native to Europe, China, and the Americas. People have been using it for thousands of years as a natural remedy, and it still has a few tricks up its leaves.

Benefits and uses of Valerian include improvements in:
  • Sleep
  • Muscle pain and spasms
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Focus problems

Forms of usage:

  • Diluted essential oil for aromatherapy benefits
  • Herbal tea
  • Herbal extract
  • Tincture

The Nerdy Science Behind the Benefits
The brain’s network of neurons is responsible for processing incoming stimuli and sending out responses. When your hand feels a burning sensation as you accidentally touch a hot Thanksgiving plateful of turkey, that signal travels to the spinal cord and up to your brain in no time, and the responsive jerk of the hand and a choice swear word are the neuronal response that your brain sends back almost instantly.

Those signals are all conducted via neurotransmitters, chemicals traveling along those billions of pathways like a colossal baton race.
Neurotransmitters fall into two categories: excitatory and inhibitory. That’s it. Billions of connections, trillions of cells, unlimited functions, all down to two types of neurotransmitters.

Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, while GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is the main inhibitor. These two usually balance each other out, but when they don’t, you can experience some severe problems.

With an excess of unrestrained glutamate, your brain cells can experience excitotoxity, or cell suicide. Therefore, researchers believe that this may be related to some degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Other possible indications are ADHD, Autism, restlessness, addiction, and anxiety.

An excess of GABA, on the other hand, can impair memory, lower libido, and decrease motivation.
Valerian and GABA are pals. They work well together. This is thought to be the reason that valerian helps with insomnia, anxiety, and pain. The benzodiazepine Valium is even better friends with GABA, and its powerful effects often lead to physical dependence and addiction when a person needs to take more and more of the drug to achieve the same results*.

Valerian root and essential oils do not present this danger, however. Valium is articifically produced in a lab, and valerian is a plant.

* As a side note, chemical dependence and tolerance of a substance is often related to an over-stimulation of brain chemicals, which eventually impairs the brain and body’s ability to self-regulate.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Holidays: The Hurriest Time of the Year?

Who doesn't love cheesy Christmas carols and cheesy holiday dishes and cheesy office parties that no one can remember? Who doesn't love racing from store to store or staring endlessly at your computer, flooded with millions of gift options. Buying your least favorite teacher an obligatory -- or appeasing -- glass apple or nondescript box of candy used to be simple. Now? I can easily spend 2 hours just scrolling through options, only to decide on nothing and wish that January would hurry up and get here. 

Maybe that's the problem. Hurry. Now that Black Friday seems to have forgotten its namesake and prefers to stretch from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to the Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday after Thanksgiving. So it's not Black Friday, just "rush to get that early bird sale before time runs out" week. Ads this year, at least on my accounts, take the position that I merely overlooked my excellent savings options and need a friendly, persistent push to go shopping. To save money. Because how can I save money if I'm not shopping?

"Ok, dear customer, we value you so much that we're going to give you one more chance. 12% off today! For the next 12 minutes!"

No takers.

"Don't worry, dear customer, we've got you covered. We've saved you some last-minute deals: $10 OFF when you buy $200 worth of merchandise! How cool are we? I mean, how cool are you???"

From the time we decide where the family is going to have Thanksgiving dinner, I can almost hear the anxiety and anticipation of making lists, checking them twice, then three times, then always. Perfect gifts, trees, decorations, food!

In their article "Money can’t buy love: Asymmetric beliefs about the link between gift price and feelings of appreciation," Francis J. Flynn and Gabrielle S. Adams report that:

"Across three studies, we identify an asymmetry between gift-givers’ and gift-recipients’ beliefs about the link between gift price and feelings of appreciation. Gift-givers expected a positive correlation between how much they spent on a gift and the extent to which gift-recipients would appreciate the gift because gift-givers assume that more expensive gifts convey a higher level of thoughtfulness. Gift-recipients, in contrast, reported no such association between gift price and their actual feelings of appreciation. This effect occurred regardless of whether the individual’s role and the magnitude of the gift were manipulated or measured in the field. Taken together, these findings cast doubt on whether gift-givers can draw on their personal experience as gift-recipients in order to identify meaningful gifts for others."

As Flynn and Adams found, there is not a positive correlation between the amount of money spent on a gift and the amount of pleasure the recipient gets from the receiving it. So even if I think I'm awesome for spending $100 on a necklace for my lady, if she's more into video games or outdoors adventures and doesn't wear jewelry much, the effect is lost. 

Another helpful reminder is the scene in the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower where Charlie, a socially awkward high school freshman who happily finds himself being inducted into an outsider group of seniors, carefully chooses personalized gifts for each of his friends. With a budget of maybe $50, he touches his 5 friends' hearts, right down to the stoner named Bob who delights in the bottle of kids' bubbles and says, "He knows me...he really knows me." 

This holiday season, what do you want to give to the people you see? A reason to remember you, a reason to feel obligated to you, a reason to smile, a reason to cry, a reason to remember the reason you all stressed over the gifts, decorations, and food in the first place? 

Some suggestions and strategies for slowing down and enjoying the "most wonderful time of the year":

  • Turn off the phones, TVs, computers, and iPads regularly
  • Journal, jog, meditate, or walk in the mornings to start your day on a level note
  • Drop the need to be right or to get your own way (not saying be a doormat or codependent)
  • Listen and look at someone when s/he is talking to you
  • Silence the phone and put it away if you are meeting someone for lunch, etc.
  • Brainstorm what meaningful gifting looks like for each person you are planning presents for
  • Re-evalute what you are spending, and on what -- will he really like that tie? will she really like those slippers?
  • Ask the Universe or a Higher Power to inspire insight and help you find great gifts for people
  • Bust out your dusty hobby, whether it is painting, beading, cleaning, writing, hiking
  • Turn off the phones, iPads, computers, TV's...did I already mention that?
Maybe our best bet for this stressful time of year is to say adios to the hurry. Let it go on its way. Say goodbye to strange expectations of "perfection". This is not a stage production. Whether you recognize the historical backdrop to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, or others, why are we even bothering with all the bother, if not to build relationships and connect with people we care about?