Living in the illusion

Note:  I allowed the following to flow through me this morning.  I use to write this stuff on paper and in my journals in the past.   They are buried away in boxes (so is the life of a military spouse).  Today it came out on computer.  It is incredibly scary and vulnerable to share what comes through me at times like this.  This is a cathartic blog.   Having caught up on my morning World news, I  was balling.  From violent shootings in the US, villages being raped and torn to pieces in the name of dogma, starvation and lack of fresh water in the Middle East, and millions of people being displaced around the globe due to catastrophic weather patterns…it felt, and feels, too much.  It makes me so angry, so sad and then when I just let it out, cry until I can barely breathe, I begin to hear a calming voice that keeps me focused on something higher than myself.  Honestly, to me it feels like my version of “God” trying to talk me off the roof, bring more love into my life, and to make sense of all the suffering.  

To share the following is terrifying.  However, in the last year something shifted in me.   I use to be more reserved and afraid of what others thought of me.  Now, if something terrifies me, I say “fuck this shit” (meaning the fear) and I do it.  This FTS attitude, has been incredibly healing for me and for many others who have written to me encouraging me to keep up the online presence, or writing, or authentic shares.  So yes, I’m sharing the following below, unedited.  I’m not even sure if it makes sense. Maybe there will be something in it.  Maybe not.  But at least I feel better now that it’s out than keeping it in stuffed in some corner of my crying heart.  

I use to tell my mom as a child, “If I can positively impact the life of one person before I die, then I will have lived a fulfilled life.”  She reminds me that I have already done this.  I now realize I’m upping my own game.  From here on out it is my heart’s and life’s mission to positively impact the life (i.e. reduce suffering) of as many people on this planet as possible, including myself. My own experiences and past will not control me.  I will use them as tools for my own growth so I may shower as many people on this planet with love and aloha as possible. 

With this said, I’m giving you a huge hug right now. No, even bigger than you imagined.  I love you!
H.

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There is a saying in Chinese medicine, “When treating a person, above all you must treat the Spirit first.”  It sounds woo-woo, sounds out there but it is Truth.

The biggest cause of fear in our World is our disconnection being talked about as our “differences.”  The biggest cause of illness and dis-ease is STRESS from this disconnection.  No, that is not empirically researched, that is straight up living, learning, and dedicated observation in trying to understand life.  This country, our world, our communities and our families are divided not by a real division but an ILLUSION of a division that stems from a lack of connection with their True Nature, their Spirit, and a belief that different means bad or wrong..  The only Truth’s I know are: everything is always changing, death will happen, and we are already whole.  However, most people choose to live out and live in their illusion of their lack of wholeness.

The Founders of the US Constitution, pure geniuses imo, were correct when they said, “we were all created equal.”  Truth.  However, the interpretation that we all have equality from that moment forward is an interpretation.  It is false and another illusion to believe that each person born into this world is equal.  The only equality that exists is the unity of a whole being that is uniquely different from all the other 7 billion other people on this planet.  What is true is that each person on this planet is uniquely there own and whole just as they are.  Nothing else is equal.  Rather than push a false narrative that we are created, born, and live equally is just false.  What makes this human existence truly our own, divine, and unique is that from the point forward after creation (when the sperm meets the egg) a whole host of factors beyond our control and within our control begin acting on us and it is how we respond consciously, physically, and unconsciously that make each of us uniquely our own person.   Created equal and get to live equal are NOT and will never be the same human experience.   We are different and we need our differences in order to be uniquely our own self.  But there exists an illusion that differences equal bad and since we do not want to support the “bad” we disconnect.  The illusion exists that because you are different, we cannot connect, or share similar experiences, bond, or have discussions regarding our differences.  The illusion is just that, a false veil.  Differences are good.  Differences are what makes sushi, sushi and lasagne, lasagne.  What gets us in trouble, what divides us, what makes us want to be right over the idea of being free is when we begin to live disconnected or separate ourselves from things that are different than us or our beliefs. Difference’s exist.  Disconnection exist.  But differences does not have to mean disconnection.  Disconnection will always lead to suffering…as every traditional healing method that has survived the test of time all say…disconnection from our Spirit brings about death.

What I see, what I feel, what I witness, what I have learned every time I fear and work with people in a studio or clinic setting is that people are living in their illusion of separateness and disconnection rather than allowing themselves to live in connection with self, others, nature, and hence the world around them.  And I don’t care how religious you are, how many times you pray or meditate or do a sun salutation, religion is not a deep connection with your higher self and your version of God, Universe, Love, Oneness..  It might mean a connection but if it is, than you’re not offended by the above statement because you know you’re connection is Divine and doesn’t need labels.  Connection is about something deeper than a weekend pot-luck and group or affiliation or how far back you can bend.  Connection takes you deeper to a place that is about walking your talk and living your message.

Perhaps if we all asked ourselves these questions everyday we would know if we were living connected or in the illusion that disconnection.

Do you care about how you treat yourself, and what you say to yourself in the silence moments when the lights are out and you’re about to go to bed, when someone is attacking you physically, emotionally, or mentally?

Do you care about how you treat others when they are right in front of you but more importantly when they are not in front of you?

Do you care about how you treat Nature, the very Earth that gives you all your sustenance (food, water, sources for shelter, cars, and technology).

Are you walking your talk?

Do you care more about being right or free?

Have you sat with your own fears and really analyzed them?  Have you sat with your past? Your trauma? Your experiences?  Those skeletons in your closet and really allowed yourself to heal and get help?  Or did you disconnect with that part of yourself and push it aside.  Whether you were raped or are the rapist, the child being hit or the one hitting both are whole people just responding and protecting their illusion to fit what they thought was their reality, what was real, what right, what was needed to stay “safe” or in “control.”  But surprise, you are whole (always have an always will be) and it, all that stuff, your past, your experiences, are still with you, just stuffed away in some corner of your consciousness, heart, and tissues persistently trying to have a life of its own until one day you have a break down and it can finally release itself.  It doesn’t mean you’re broken.   It doesn’t mean you’re bad.  We are just Spirits having a human experience and the rules are not so black and white.

We are trained from a very young age to protect ourselves, and figure out what is “right” and what is “wrong.”  As we get older though, we have the ability to think for ourselves and to wake up to the illusion.  Wake up to the fact that you’re living in an illusion that you choose to live in or live out.  If you’re living to be “right” than you are not free and you’ve pushed your Soul aside in favor of your mind’s ego, little brain, cultural norms, or safety, literally the caveman/cavewoman aspect of yourself.  And that’s fine if you want to live that way.  Honestly, the majority of our planet has to live that way because of safety and needs based living (think Maslow’s hierarchy here).  But if you’re reading this, if you are part of the population that gets to live life outside of your minimum and basic needs of food, shelter, water, and physical/mental safety then it’s time to wake up.  You ask yourself why the World looks the way it does?  It’s because the people who have the ability to wake up AREN’T.  They are choosing to be RIGHT over FREE.  They are choosing to hold on to an illusion that our differences are somehow bad, wrong, ugly, or unsafe and disconnection is the solution.   It’s time to DISCONNECT with the illusion and CONNECT with your Spirit, your true nature under all the veils you, your family, your culture has placed on you.  It’s time to wake up.  Enough is enough.  Wake up.  Wake up.  Take responsibility for YOUR life, for your choices, for your words, your actions, your thoughts and reconnect with what matters most…your connection to your Spirit, that silent voice within that is trying to be FREE. Stop stuffing that voice away and needing to be RIGHT.

When was the last time you really looked into someone’s eyes?  Not an IG feed eyes or a FB feed eyes but the eyes of your neighbor?  The stranger walking past you?  The person making you your favorite $5 coffee drink?  And people get all up in arms about people who cover their hair, or wear veils, or wear booty shorts but does anyone look in the eyes anymore?  This is what I’m talking about.  I’m guilty of it too but when I catch these things in myself I really want to make a difference and take the steps to make a change within myself.  This doesn’t make me better or worst, maybe a little self-centered, but I’ll take it.  My form of self-centered allows me to feel good about who I am and give my love openly despite your color, race, cultural background, or disease.

Reconnect to your Spirit and you will find at first that it feels like your life is falling apart.  It is, because if you want to live connected with Spirit with your True Self than you can’t continue to live the same way you have been in fear, illusion, and disconnection.  But not all things that fall apart are broken.  Things falling apart is the illusion of your separateness and disconnection breaking apart allowing your life to reflect something more connected. Will it feel like you’ve lost control? YES, 100% but that’s the point.  When you try and control your life, that being “right” is better than being free, you have to build up a lot, A LOT, A LOT of barriers and walls to maintain that disconnect and way of life.  However, the more you continue to allow yourself to be connected with your Spirit you will begin to see your life take shape in ways that feel easier and more alive, and things you once would have dismissed as weird or from the twilight zone are now signs and serendipitous messages.   The differences won’t seem so scary anymore and the fear based living will slowly subside.

So yes, treat the Spirit first, not last.  Treating the Spirit is treating the body and the mind.  It’s all connected.  Disconnect with the illusion that different is bad or wrong.  Reconnect with your breath.  Reconnect. with Nature.  Nature has always healed, always will heal, and will always continue to heal for those who want to reduce suffering.  So go outside.  Take a breath of fresh air.  Put your feet in the dirt.  Get dirty. Worry less and embrace all of it as if it were your own child.

 

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Asian Medicine Wisdom for Late Summer

Even if you don’t fully experience the dramatic environmental changes of the Seasons, everyone knows them: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. Did you know in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there is a celebrated fifth season?! Well, it’s not celebrated in the sense of holidays, Hallmark cards or other hooplah, but it is acknowledged as its own distinct time of the year and has dramatic impacts on our health if we are not mindful or aware of how it may affect our overall health.

“Late Summer” is known for the final days of summer when the temperatures are typically very hot, humidity increases but there may be a day or two of surprising cooler temperatures, as Autumn approaches. This time of the year is all about building reserves, like our ancestors who were preparing for long cold autumns and winters. Late Summer is ruled by the Chinese Medicine element of Earth. The Earth element symbolizes, and is closely related to the organs of digestion, particularly the Spleen (a not-so-talked-about organ in Western medicine unless you need it removed) and Stomach. Because Earth likes to be warm and dry, the excess heat, or surprising cold, along with humidity (a quality of wetness) has the tendency to challenge our digestion system in Late Summer, especially if your digestion system is already prone to being out of balance, are overweight, or have congestion in the body. Since the tendency int he Summer is to party, be more laid back and enjoy we tend to eat more foods that can challenge our digestion system: frozen drinks, frozen blended drinks and smoothies, overly cheesy or oily dips, more processed and sugary food to accommodate the long road trips, travels, or BBQ’s like chips, hot dogs, soda, ice cream and cakes. If we don’t take time in the Late Summer to get-back-on-track, it is common to see the following ailments, or signs of being imbalanced during Late Summer appear:

weight gain
lethargy
chronic fatigue
cloudiness of the mind
lack of motivation
feeling “burned out”
muscle weakness
flare-ups of chronic pain or injuries
exasperated fibromyalgia
digestion troubles even with no desire to eat or drink
feeling “ungrounded”

There is a famous, and misleading, saying, “You are what you eat.” After years of clinic practice and learning more about the digestive system than most (due to my own challenges with digestion growing up), I truly believe and teach my patients about the importance of “YOU ARE WHAT YOU DIGEST” (not what you eat). This concept was taught to me by the renowned International Ayurveda Physician, Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar, who has just released a new book The Hot Belly Diet. The difference is, you can eat as “perfectly” as possible but without the digestive fire and balance, your body is not necessarily benefitting from the organic, free range, non-gmo, etc. food. If your body is not properly digesting the foods and drinks you consume, your body is not sorting, absorbing and processing what your body really needs. Remember, every-body is unique with individualized needs.  And if the body is not digesting properly, or is out of balance, the mind is not properly digesting experiences and chronic mental and/or emotional stress build as well. Overtime if your digestive system is chronically imbalanced, other organs, tissues, bodily systems and the mind begin to suffer. Our Diegstion System is considered to be the utmost importance when it comes to building immunity, improving overall health, maintaining weight, feeling vital and motivated and having clarity of the mind.

Late Summer is associated with building nourishment at the body, mind and spirit level.  If we enter Autumn with healthy, balanced digestion, strong immune system and clarity of mind, we have the reserves and stores to last through the drying, cold and harsh months (can be harsh mentally and emotionally–think SAD, Seasonal Affect Disorder).  Furthermore, when we are full, we have enough to share with others and won’t be as drained or get as sick, especially in preparation for the busy holiday season.

Preventative medicine begins NOW in Late Summer to build the digestive fire and immunity.  If you enter the Autumn and Winter with low reserves of physical, mental and emotional energy, you are much more likely to experience the reoccurring cold, flu, respiratory conditions and bodily pains of the winter.

Tips for Late Summer:

  • Begin to create your daily routine you’ll carry over into the Autumn with exercise, meditation, yoga, sleep, food, rest.
  • Visit your acupuncturist to get a digestion tune-up.
  • Movement: Take a walk after every meal.  Minimum 1000 steps. Ideally, until you build a light sweat.
  • Exercise: sweat at least 4-5 days/week, if not every day. If you feel more exhausted or lethargic after you exercise, you’re sweating too much, in Chinese Medicine lingo, loosing too much essential qi. Ideally, you want to feel energetic and vital after you exercise.
  • If you practice yoga asana, focus on the Prana Vayu of Samana, twists and wide legged forward folding poses.
  • Meditation: Samana meditation, color yellow, themes: grounding, nourishing, filling the vessel/body, releasing the emotion of “worry,” feeling whole from the inside out.
  • Food:  Eat more warm, cooked, foods and beverages. Add ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin and cardamom to your meals and beverages (even your smoothies!). Avoid icy foods and beverages, cold foods, overly fried foods, high sugar foods and overly processed foods. Overtime, these will quell the digestive fire and throw your digestion out of imbalance.
  • Recommended food choices: soups, stews, casseroles, baked or roasted food.
  • Beverage: Twig Tea, Barley Tea, Oolong Tea, Chai, sip on warm lemon water throughout the day.

Spring Wisdom: Spring into Action

Aloha!

It’s been a long time since I last blogged but for good reason.  I am now a mother!  I have never felt so blessed, more humbled and more inspired in my life.  My intention is to share this joy and inspiration with you via more blogs and exciting offerings in 2014 and beyond.  Stay tuned (hint, hint, sign up for my blogs via email).

With that said, let’s get down to Spring business.

spring quote

Spring is the time for renewing your commitment to yourself, your health and wellness goals, your relationships and cleansing, a.k.a. Spring Cleaning. Why wait? Let the natural flow of the Spring season assist you in this internal process.

Spring is here (at least in Southern California it is) and you can sure tell by the awakening of all the senses when you walk outside.  The sun is up longer.  The baby birds have hatched and are chirping away…at 4am.  The smell of citrus blossoms and other spring annuals fill the air.  The mornings are cool and crisp rejuvenating the whole body with a deep breath.  The afternoon sun kisses the skin in the most sensual way that makes the whole body glisten with new life.  There’s also a lot more eye candy at the farmer’s market.  Noooo, not that type of eye candy (well ok, that too), but more vegetables and fruits to tease the eyes and pocket book.

Even if you’re not in Southern California, or your Spring has not yet arrived, continue reading this blog so you can begin to prepare your body for the most healthful Spring yet.

Cherry BlossomsSpring is the season of renewal and rejuvenation.  After a long winter “hibernation” (check out my blog: Winter Wisdom) or slowing down of the internal and external world, spring is when the seeds of life, love and all relationships begin anew.  Like the new sprouts poking their heads up from the dark earth into the shining bright light, our bodies and minds are in harmony with the same natural process.  Remember, YOU ARE ONE WITH NATURE.  This is the time to allow the inner and outer self to start new, clean out the old winter funk and prepare the body and mind for a fun filled summer.

As a clinician, this is the time when I begin to see more upper respiratory conditions (colds, flus and allergies), chronic congestion, irregular digestion, pain conditions, unexplained weight gain, and other conditions caused by in-activity of body or mind (overweight, depression, lethargy).  These conditions can be understood from from an Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine perspective.

In Ayurveda, Spring is dominated by the qualities of Kapha.  Kapha begins in late winter and continues into Spring bringing with it to the body and mind: dark, heavy, inert, cold, oily, static, soft and cloudy qualities.  This is why I don’t, do not, recommend starting “New Year Resolutions” in January.  There is not natural energy in your environment or internally to keep you inspired and motivated.  January is a time for rest, staying inward and being contemplative.  However, Spring is the perfect time to begin that “New Year” resolution.  If anyone asks, say you’re following the Lunar New Year calendar.

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, spring is dominated by the qualities of Wood, governed by the organs of the Liver and Gallbladder.   The qualities of Wood are to grow, be active, reach out, distribute and move. Subsequently, the Liver and Gallbladder have similar qualities of movement, cleansing, decisiveness and regulation of physical, emotional and mental energy, referred to as “qi”.

We can integrate this Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine wisdom to give us a full perspective of how to stay healthy in Spring.  The natural tendency of the body and mind are to be Kapha in the Spring: slow, heavy and clouded.  Chinese Medicine wisdom tells us how we can balance these Kapha forces by choosing actions and foods that are more Wood in quality: moving, cleansing and rejuvenating.  Since the liver is responsible for governing healthy emotional balance, this is also the perfect time to release any stuffed emotions, resentment, anger or frustration making room for more sunlight (literally and figuratively) to fill in that space.  Kapha likes to settle in the chest, so it’s also very important to exercise the lungs either with more physical exercise, breathing exercises and chest opening stretches.

Morning Heart Opener

The main overall theme of renewal and rejuvenation of spring can be summed up into the common phrase “Spring Cleaning.”  Below is a guideline of ways you can implement Spring Cleaning in your life, inside and out.  Don’t worry about doing all of these.  Choose one or two and start there.  Typically starting with something external to the body (the last bullet) feels so good, you will begin to naturally feel inspired to make more changes more internally.

Ways to Spring Clean:

  • Increase your physical activity or change up your exercise routine to be a bit more challenging (length, duration or activity).  An invigorating walk or mindful movement practice (yoga, tai chi or qi gong) first thing in the morning will break-up the physical and mental kapha tendencies.
  • This is a great time to begin yoga since yoga focuses on strengthening the ligaments and tendons which are governed by the Wood and Liver energies.
  • Meditate daily: focus on releasing stuffed emotions, trauma, resentment, anger, or frustration.  To assist in this process, I recommend visualizing a green or emerald color light to wash through the body or fill any areas of the body that feel stuck.
  • Acupuncture:  Your favorite acupuncturist can help to move and smooth imbalanced Liver qi, helping you feel more balanced and inspired to live the life you know you deserve.
  • Breathe more!  This goes hand-in-hand with increasing your physical activity.  If you increase your exercise routine, or start a new one, you will naturally breathe deeper and for longer.  First thing in the morning, step outside and take 10-20 deep, long, full breaths.  For those of you who practice yoga regularly, practice more invigorating pranayama like kpala bhati, brahma breathing, or fire breath.
  • Sweat.  Try to sweat at least 5-7 days a week.  Even if you can’t sweat through physical exercise or yoga (best recommendations), take a hot bath, visit a sauna or steam room.  You should feel invigorated after a sweat.  If you feel tired or lazy, you’ve sweat too much.  Take a day or two to build up your energy before you do anything strenuous.
  • Drink 1 cup of warm lemon water first thing in the morning.  Warm up 1 cup water and squeeze 1/2 a lemon into the water.  Chug.  Yes, chug.  If there is one internal Spring Cleaning guideline to start with, start here!  Sip on warm lemon water throughout the day for additional cleansing.
  • Eat in Season!  Eat GREEN!  Eat Bitter!  Other tastes to focus on: pungent/spicy (in moderation), astringent like grapefruits and lemons, and pickled items.  If you don’t know what’s in season, go to your local farmer’s market, or just read this blog.  Leafy greens, sprouts, and green veggies (artichokes, asparagus) are abundant right now.  For good reason.  The bitter taste in these foods cuts through damp, phlegm and thick mucus (all forms of kapha build up in the body).  Bitter also helps to cleanse the liver, the blood and digestive tract, allowing the body to feel more energized.
  • Recommended teas and drinks for Spring: Dandelion root tea, burdock root tea, milk thistle, peppermint, gao ju lang/Immortal Tea, Ginger tea, Kombucha.
  • Clean out your environment: closets, computer files, office space, book shelves, collections and storage spaces.  If you’re having a hard time implementing one of the above suggestions for yourself, start with your external environment.  This will usually inspire you to feel better internally as well.

Spring can be a scary time for some people, because spring is yet another time (like Autumn) for change and transformation.  Spring is the gateway to Summer.  Autumn is the gateway to Winter.  Especially after a cozy winter routine of eating hardier foods, enjoying the warmth of staying inside longer and sleeping longer (hopefully), Spring can be a love-hate relationship.  However, as Alan Cohen, states so beautifully, “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new.  But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.  There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”  So I invite you to be courageous, clean inside and out, physically and mentally and allow yourself to be inspired by the renewal of life this spring. In short, be an example for others this Spring. Move your body and mind in the direction you want, not what others want for you.  Release anger, frustration or stored emotions in healthy ways like exercise, mindful movement, meditation and yoga.

Note: Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine are constantly guiding us to find our balance in physical, emotional and mental health.  Balance is an individualized feeling and point of awareness that only you can truly know.  Each season allows us the opportunity to dive into different areas of our life to create a whole complete circle, or flow, of health and wellness.  By following the seasonal patterns of Nature, you can learn infinite wisdom of how to stay in your own flow and balance.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This is a reference work.  It is not meant for diagnosis or treatment and it is not substitute for consultation with a licensed health care professional.  Please visit your primary health care provider before starting new exercise or diet routines.  

Healthy Travel Tips

Traveling, whether for work or play, can be fun aaaaand incredibly taxing on the body and mind.  The key for maintaining optimal health, vibrant energy and regular digestion is to prepare the body for travel before your actual flight or driving day.  I begin eating a Vata balancing diet the week before I travel.  See the attached sheet for food recommendations.  For many, the stress begins before you even have to deal with crowds at the airport or traffic on the highway.  By the time your trip is over your body has tried to keep up with the stressful demands of travel and then it takes another week once you’ve returned to feel like you’re back in your “normal” home routine.  No wander so many people love the idea of travel but find it incredibly taxing on their body and mind.  Follow these few simple tricks to make your your travels less stressful and more fulfilling for body, mind and spirit.

PREPARATION – the more you prepare, the less stress you have the day of travel.

  • Begin eating a Vata balancing diet the week before you travel.
  • Reduce pre-travel stress by planning ahead.  Make a list of all the things you think you need 5 days before your departure date. Go shopping if you need anything. 2-3 days before, lie everything out.  Cut back on the amount of clothes or add where you forgot something (i.e. comfortable clothes for the hotel room or work out clothes).  See Haunani’s healthy travel essentials packing list below.
  • Print the Vata balancing diet and put it with your carry-on bag.
  • Try to get regular exercise, at least 30 min/day prior to leaving.
  • Prepare your techy gadgets for travel: Download any software, movies, books you will want for your trip.
  • If you love practicing yoga, do a google search of yoga studios in your destination.  Print their schedule or save on your desktop/favorites.

THE DAY BEFORE YOU LEAVE – again, it’s about planning and preparing.

  • Pack your bags and/or suitcase (including carry-ons) the day/night before you leave.
  • Double-check your check list as you pack.
  • Your carry-on should include: all the chargers your need, essential oils, chia seeds, book/reader, laptop/paper & pen, healthy quick snack(s) for the travel, scarf.
  • Print 2 copies of your itinerary and your boarding passes.  Place one itinerary in your carry-on, the other in your luggage.
  • Empty out your purse or wallet and only take the ID and Credit cards you’ll use. Nothing like losing your wallet while you’re traveling and coming home to replace ALL the cards, saving cards, ID’s, etc that you didn’t even need while you were traveling.
  • Get Cash (just in case someone doesn’t take a card).  Better safe than sorry.
  • Make yourself a healthy snack to take with you to the airport or car ride including your favorite calming tea, like chamomile, mint, Tazo “Passion,” or Yogi “relax”, or “Smooth move” if you get constipated.
  • Examples:  mixed nuts.  1 apple.  1 orange.  protein powder in a shaker (do not fill with liquid).  slices of swiss cheese and rice crackers.

DURING YOUR TRAVELS (planes, trains and automobiles) – It’s go with the flow time!

Meditating at the airport doesn't have to look like this.  Just sit in a chair, or floor, with the eyes closed hands resting on your lap and begin to watch your breath.

Meditating at the airport doesn’t have to look like this. Just sit in a chair, or floor, with your eyes closed, hands resting on your lap and begin to watch your breath.

  • Go with the flow.  Now you’re in the flow and most of the travel details are out of your control.  Avoid getting overly stressed, emotional or angry.  Perfect time to practice “letting go” and “gratitude.”  Check out my blog Breathe. Connect. Be titled “Gratitude as an Act of Devotion”  to hear how my mom turned her seemingly horrible flight experience into a wonderful trip with free upgrades.
  • Drink WARM or HOT liquids as much as possible.  Drink warm water and tea every so often.
  • Stay warm.  Ever get chilled on the plane?  This coupled with the stress of travel = a cold waiting to happen at your destination sight.  Always travel in layers.
  • If you tend to get constipated when you travel, drink more warm water and tea and AVOID alcohol, caffeine and ice drinks/foods.
  • Take all the seated time to meditate, practice breathing exercises/pranayama and even maybe get some gentle yoga stretches in at the terminal.
  • Take the stairs!  Avoid elevators and escalators if you can.
  • During the flight or long car ride, take about 5-10 minutes, for every 2 hours of sitting to flex and relax different muscles of the body, especially the legs, hips, glutes and abdominals.  Again, another great time to meditate at 35,000 feet…talk about levitating!

AT YOUR DESTINATION – Time to enjoy!

  • Continue eating a Vata Balancing diet as much as possible while you’re traveling.
  • Go with the Flow.  Refer to “During your travels”
  • Exercise 20-30 minutes every day.  A brisk walk around the hotel parking lot will make a huge difference regardless how silly you look.  Better yet, do yoga or a quick calisthenics routine in your room. Use the hotel stairs/emergency stairs to get a quick cardio workout.
  • Wake up 20-30 minutes earlier to get a light stretch and meditation to start your day.
  • Reduce stress by waking up earlier or going to bed so you can wake up early.
  • Attitude of gratitude.  Today, we take traveling, work and family for granted (most of the time).  Recognize how lucky you are to be seeing a new part of the world, meeting new people (even if you don’t get along) and cherish the experience of discovering more about the world you live in.
  • Again, dress in layers and keep your temperature comfortable.  Especially if you’ll be sharing conference rooms with others, the temperature will always fluctuate to meet the needs of a variety of people.  Be prepared to stay warm or remove layers.

So there you have it, my travel tips on how to stay healthy and happy while you travel.  Life is full of unexpected turbulence (yes, pun intended), especially when we travel.  Travel is the best time to practice patience, going with the flow and gratitude.  May your next trip be filled with more smiles than grimaces and healthy digestion!

What’s in Haunani’s bag every trip? 

Haunani’s Healthy Travel Essentials

  • Herbal tea (box or a few teabags in a plastic baggie)
    • Here are some I recommend
      • Any tea box that says “Relax,” “Calm”, “Meditate.”
      • Tazo “Passion”
      • Yogi “Smooth move” if you get constipated
      • Chamomile
  • Calming essential oil.  I typically only travel with one.  I choose the one that smells the best to me at the time: lavendar, “clarity,” “calming,” bergamot, rose, gardenia, sandalwood.
  • Chia seeds – a must have for keeping your digestion regular.  I add 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds to hot water during the flight and I’ll do the same that same night before I go to bed.
  • Scarf/wrap or beanie/ski cap to stay warm on the plane
  • Journal/Paper & Pen or laptop.  At 35,000 feet, I typically get incredibly creative.  Rather than try to keep things in my head for later, I write them down immediately.  I’ve written entire business plans on trips and have come up with many inventions.  Now if I could only find someone to fund those ideas.
  • A good book or reader with books you’ve been wanting to read but didn’t have the time for.  Now you do.

Optional de-stress items:

  • incense (1-2 sticks) – careful if you get a non-smoking room
  • 1 candle – careful if you’re traveling to hot weather, you don’t want your candle to melt on your stuff.
  • yoga mat – there are several travel yoga mats on the market or even yogi toes.  I no longer travel with a mat and choose to just use a hotel towel or find a grassy space where I can find one.  In the end, mat or no mat, I don’t let it stop me from practicing.

Gift Yourself this Holiday Season

Whether you like it or not it’s the time of giving.  Giving gifts, giving your time to family, shopping, traffic, going to obligatory work functions, holiday parties and giving your immune system an extra test with travel.  Unfortunately, if we’re not careful and give of yourself too much you end up sick, stressed out, overwhelmed or the Scrooge.

Gift Yourself ImageThat’s why I’m dedicating this article to all of you who need permission to gift yourself this holiday season.  Sometimes we just need permission to do the things we know we ought to do.

As a stress reduction specialist (I’ve been using this term more and more since someone told me this is one of my specialties), I find that when people don’t take care of themselves during the year, the holidays become overwhelming, tiring and stressful.  In a time when there is much to celebrate, many people focus on the obligations rather than the attitude of gratitude or truly gifting another from the heart.  Furthermore, when it’s time to receive a gift from someone, people don’t know how to truly appreciate this act because we’re burnt out, feeling unworthy or again, being Scrooge.

There is a quote that I live by, “learn to love yourself before you can truly love another.”   This same psychology can also be used when it comes to gifting.  Learn to gift yourself before you truly give to others.  Easier said than done.  Learning how to gift yourself is learning how to appreciate and find gratitude for your own life and authentic self.  Learning how to gift yourself also teaches you how to receive.  Yes, RECEIVE.  Gifting is an act of moving energy from yourself outward.  When you gift yourself, you practice receiving, or moving energy from the external to the internal.  Receiving is just as important as giving but in a culture that is focused on the external objects to make us happy, many of us have forgotten how to receive with an open heart. I’m encouraging you this holiday season to gift yourself by taking care of yourself and doing things that you find indulgent but are actually very simple.  Watch your thoughts when you decide to gift yourself and notice how you receive.  Also notice how you give.  The holidays are such a beautiful time of the year for celebration and fun, take care of yourself and learn the balance of giving and receiving to truly optimize this special time of the year.

Top ten gifts to give yourself this holiday season:

Breathe! Take 5-10 releasing breathes in the car, in the shower, bathroom stall, really ANYWHERE.  How to: Take a nice deep slow breath in through the nose.  Hold the breath for 1-2 seconds and gather up any emotions or stress.  Then exhale, breathe out, with a sigh or the sound of ‘haaaa.’  Repeat as necessary.  Caution: you can cause lightheaded.  Please do not overdo.  5-10 breaths is plenty!

Mooooove your body.  Remember to move and stretch during your travels.  If you’re driving, during your rest stops walk around the parking lot, do some push ups on a bench or some squats in the parking lot.  Yes, people will look at you but again, by taking care of yourself (and having fun doing so) gives permission for all the other achy travelers to move too.  If you’re flying, remember to flex your legs, ankles and glutes/buttocks regularly.  When you’re waiting in lines try to balance on one leg.  Maybe even jog or speed walk to your next gate, not because you’re about to miss your flight but because you’ll feel better once you get there.

Foot massage.  Did you know there are millions of nerve endings that send signals through your whole body when you massage your feet. Foot reflexology is based on this principle.  How to:  Sit on the floor a comfy chair, cross one of your legs and begin massaging the heck out of your foot, ankle and calf.  Better yet, get a friend or loved one to do it for  you!  If you don’t have a foot or hate feet, keep reading to check out another gift you can give yourself.

Self Oil Massage.  That’s right, oil yourself up.  Use a natural oil like coconut oil, sesame oil (not toasted, it should look golden), olive oil or jojoba oil. gently warm the oil in a double boiler, coffee warmer or on the stove.  Be careful not to burn yourself or overheat the oil.  If the oil begins to smoke, start over.  With your warm, body temperature oil, begin by applying some to the scalp.  Then cover the body making circles at joints and long sweeping motions on limbs and torso.  Let the oil sit for 15-20 minutes.  Enjoy your favorite cup of tea (gift yourself #4) and then take a hot shower without soap to wash the oils off.  This is an ancient healing secret from the East.  It is a therapy to create balance of the body and all the tissues.  If you go to a spa and get this done you’ll be dishing out $150-$350.  Yes, gift yourself!

Hand massage.  Like the foot, did you know there are millions of nerve endings that send signals through the whole body when you massage your hands?!  Massage each hand for 10 minutes.  Better yet, have a friend or loved one massage it for you.  Kids are great at giving hand massages and very healing and intuitive by nature.

Indulge in your FAVORITE cup of tea or coffee.  Not sure about you, but I tend to buy tea in bulk, not a high-end tea but something I know will GET THE JOB DONE.  My husband who is a coffee drinker tends to do the same.  HOWEVER, why not give yourself permission to go out and buy your all time favorite tea or coffee for the holidays?  Sipping on it while you get a foot massage or after you’ve given yourself a full body massage will feel like you’re the Queen or King of the neighborhood.  Which I’m sure you already are 😉

Sleep in as long as you want.  Arrange with your partner, spouse or family to give you one morning where you can sleep in as long as you want.  Some of you already do, so don’t choose this as a gift to yourself.  Others of you, including myself, have pets or kids to take care of.  Sleep is so incredibly important to reducing stress from the body and mind.  When we don’t give ourselves permission to get sleep until we naturally wake up, we are adding more stress to our lives.

Do one thing you LOVE to do.  Novel idea, right?!  In the clinic, I like to give my clients homework assignments between sessions.  The most often “prescribed” homework is asking a client to do something they absolutely LOVE to do but never do anymore.  One lady in New York loved walking around looking at the old architecture and taking photos.  She hadn’t done this in over 10 years even though she walked everywhere and lived on the upper east side, an amazing area for her passion.  Another lady just wanted time to sit with her cat in her lap, turn off all the gadgets and watch the world walk by.  Another man wanted to continue to write on a screen play he began 18 years earlier.  By giving themselves permission, each of these people did what they LOVED!  You should have seen the smiles on their faces during our next session.  TRY IT, that’s why you LOVE IT!

Buy yourself a gift.  In the Business and Money section of the Times this week, there is an article New Holiday Tradition: Buying Yourself a Gift.  While I’m attempting to keep the gift yourself idea focused on health and wellness, I have to admit there is something incredibly satisfying and healing when you buy yourself a gift for no reason.  A REAL GIFT that is, not something for the house, your pet or work.  A gift is something you’d probably never buy for yourself because of the thirty reasons of why you could use something else…for the house, pet or kids.  It doesn’t have to be something huge, lavish or expensive.  Maybe it’s hand lotion, a favorite candle or a hard-cover book.  Imagine that, a real book?!

Write or express your dreams, goals and aspirations for 2013.  This is not the same as a New Year Resolution.  This is about giving yourself permission to dream and dream big.  Not only learn from the past and decide to move forward with all the wisdom you’ve gained but maybe in this process learn something new about yourself.  Attempt to get out of the usual things you dream or think about and go wild.  Questions to ask yourself: If money weren’t an issue, I’d__________.  If I had all the time in the world, I’d_____ or may day would ____________.  When I look back at this time next year, I want to feel __________ or be able to say, I did ______________.  I want to learn about _____ in 2013.  The biggest lessons of life have come from ___________________.  I’ll use this knowledge in 2013 to _____________.

Choose an Attitude of Gratitude.  The holidays are the perfect time to point out who’s glass is half-empty and whose glass if half-full.  Unfortunately, the half-empty mentality is much easier to follow and fall into its unforgiving jaws.  IF however, you are a half-full or overly full mentality type, keep it up this holiday, even around friends and family.  You may get picked on, you may even be asked the most silly questions like why or how can you be so happy,  but more importantly you give others permission to live this way as well.  I can’t think of a better gift…and it’s free!  Remember, even the smallest and most simplest things can turn our world around.

Caution:  If you feel silly gifting yourself, you’re not alone.  More importantly, you’re probably doing it right.  Don’t worry what others think, just have fun.  After all, the holidays are a time for having fun and being silly! 

Asian Medicine Wisdom for Autumn

It’s Autumn which means several things in my world.  Autumn is a wonderful transitional season.  The mornings begin to have a nice crisp in the air once again that just screams to the lungs…Wake up!   And as soon as I take in a deep breath, my body responds with AAAAH!  Oh Autumn, how I love thee.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a.k.a TCM, Autumn is correlated to the element of Metal.  For all you non-TCM geeks, without even having to try to figure out what that means just consider what the qualities of metal are.  Don’t give yourself an aneurysm thinking about it.  Just consider.  Let me get you started.  Metal is ___(fill in adjective here)______________.  Voila!  Now you can begin to relate to the season of Autumn more personally.  Consider how these qualities apply to your own life, your relationships, mental state, habits, or more importantly how you can use these qualities to bring more balance in your life, i.e. cutting things out of your life that no longer serve you or help you to be the best you can be.

Yes, Autumn, as metal, is more sharp or cutting than the playful energy of summer.  Things all around us begin to show their life’s cycle: wilting, withering, changing colors, falling off trees.  Woah woah waoh, not to get you depressed.  This is a natural cycle and part of your own nature of being.  Asian Medicine is all about celebrating the nature of things and since YOU ARE A PART OF nature, this means celebrating YOU!  This is the perfect time to allow what needs to naturally die away, go.  Let go.  The nature of Metal.  AND when we let go, that creates space allowing for the opposite to occur…receptivity or filling.

More TCM geeky stuff that you should know is the metal element is connected with the Lungs and Large Intestine.  The yin and yang organs of receptivity and letting go.  These images and connections become the perfect guidelines for the natural processes in our own life, no?

In Ayurveda, Autumn is associated with the dosha, or imbalances, of Vata.  Vata is represented by the elements of Air and Space just like the Lungs and Large Intestine.  In fact, the house of Vata is the…drum roll please…Large Intestine.  Coincidence?  Never is.  More like Divine connection!  At this time of the year, it is natural for things in our lives to become irregular, mobile, quick, dry, cold, light, and rough.  Not just on a physical level (lungs and large intestine) but at the mental/emotional level as well.  Both TCM and Ayurveda give us guidelines of how to live with the seasons and not allow these qualities to take over too much and create dis-ease or illness.

During the change of the seasons, Vata, the energy of movement, is predominant. It’s important to avoid excesses in all areas of your life at this time.  Breathing exercises and meditation are important to practice every day.  Begin packing a scarf or top-layer with you every time you leave the house, just in case the weather shifts.  When the weather gets windy, protect your neck.  Most importantly, nurture moderation and stress-free living to keep the immune system functioning at its peak performance.

General food guidelines to follow at this time of the year include:
1) Eat foods that are sweet (whole grains, not cookies), sour & salty (rock salt, not potato chips)
2) Limit the intake of spicy, raw, cold, and light foods. i.e. cold salads, sushi, and cold bean salads.
3) Enjoy warm, cooked foods, a variety of proteins, and healthy fats.

Consider, sipping on the following Vata Balancing Tea throughout the day to help make the transition of the seasons easier on the mind and body.

Ingredients:
1C water
3 deep breaths
1 Intention of “Balance”
1/4 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ajwain (available at most local Natural Food store)
sweetener (optional): sucanat, rice syrup

Directions:
Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and add spices. Cover and steep, or use a coffee/tea press, for 3-5 minutes. Sweeten to taste & serve. Serves 1.

Enjoy with balance and the intention of letting go those things in your life (thoughts, habits, relationships) that no longer serve you while being more receptive, or filling your life with things that DO serve you. This is Autumn! Enjoy.

Aloha & Namaste

To learn more specifically about your personal constitution and what foods, spices, beverages, breathing exercises and physical exercises or yoga asana are best to bring your body and mind into balance, call or e-mail Haunani today to schedule your private 1-to-1 session.