Thursday, December 29, 2011

Texas Teen Ben Breedlove Posted Two Inspirational Videos on YouTube Before His Death

There are some who come into this life simply to inspire others.  One such person, Ben Breedlove, was one of those who managed to touch many people's lives throughout his short life, and even more so through his death. 

Sick with the heart condition 'hypertrophic cardiomyopathy' (HC) for most of his life, the Austin, Texas teen had three near death experiences, the first one at the tender young age of four. Not that his health condition stopped him from living. His parents describe what a wonderful young man Ben was, here.

One of his many accomplishments was the creation of several popular YouTube channels including one in which he gave advice to young teens. But the week before he passed on he created another channel.  This time he only uploaded two very powerful videos entitled "This is my life" Part 1 and 2, in which he describes (with handwritten notes) some comforting visions he had during those experiences 'cheating death'. In one of those visions, his favorite rapper, Kid Cudi, appeared:

“While I was still unconscious, I was in this white room. No walls. It just went on and on. There was no sound [but peace]. It I was wearing a really nice suit. And so was my favorite rapper, Kid Cudi. Why he was the only one there with me, I’m still trying to figure out. But I was looking at this mirror that was in front of me. The first thing I thought was damn we look good… I couldn’t stop smiling."

With a maturity beyond his years, he also explains how he saw the 'white light' and how comforting and at peace he felt. At the end he writes: "Do you believe in Angels or God?"  then lifts the last piece of paper "I do".

A compilation of the videos went viral, and Kid Cudi was so touched he wrote about it on his blog.

Ben uploaded those videos on December 18, and on the evening of December 25 he left the physical plane. He must have somehow known it was time. 

Ben was only 18 years old. Rest in Peace, you are now 'at home'.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Does "The Salt Solution Diet" Really Work?

I love salt!   I'm one of those people who pours it on everything, because food just tastes, well, pretty darn bland without those tasty little crystal morsels sprinkled on eggs, or poured into a boiling pot of water for pasta. My sweet tooth was replaced by my love of salty foods when I stopped eating meat many moons ago, and since my blood pressure, thankfully, is perfect I have never had to worry about my sodium intake. 

But as age has crept upon me over the years, so have the pounds. I am not overweight, but I have about 10 of them I would like to get rid of permanently, and they're clinging to me like a wet t-shirt.  When I got very sick with a nasty flareup of my Ulcerative Colitis two years ago I lost 30 pounds, twenty of which my body should not have dumped considering my height and frame, but I gained those extra 10 pounds and I want them gone, but not as a result of being sick.

I have never been much of a dieter, or calorie counter, and regimented exercise has always bored me to tears, but I started exercising a bit and cutting down on desserts and yet there they still are. Then, while standing in the grocery store check-out line I noticed a Woman's World magazine with the words printed in white "Is salt making you FAT?" and "Lose 11 lbs in 14 days".  The magazine got added to my purchases, and I immediately  read the article.

The article, excerpted from Heather K Jones, RD's book The Salt Solution, has some interesting notions about how salt makes you fat, so I decided to try the diet, as challenging as it was to find no-salt, low salt foods. I diligently followed the diet using the recipes and the guidelines in the magazine article, while I waited for my copy I had purchased on Ebay.  And guess what?  I didn't drop a pound in those effort-filled two weeks. 

I assume that it has worked for others, but it certainly didn't for me. Perhaps following the book's recommendations rather than the magazine article's would have made a difference, but I'll never know.  However, it's always worth a try, especially since you can find a hardcover copy on Amazon for .44cents plus shipping. Unfortunately, I spent $15.00 on mine on Ebay!  But the one positive thing I gained from the experience is that I have substantially cut down on my salt intake, which is probably a good thing since an excessive use of salt really isn't good for you. But I am back to sprinkling those luscious white crystals on some of my food, albeit sparingly; and will have to find another way to lose those annoying extra pounds.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Keys To Happiness: Paying It Forward- 'Life Vest Inside' Video

What I love about Facebook is not all the boring, mundane often overly personal things that people share on their FB page, but the wonderful nuggets of inspiration that float by my feed every once in a while. They are the ones that inspire me.  It's those words, or videos that keep me from pulling the plug on my FB page.

A few days ago someone posted the following video directed by school teacher Orly Wahba, founder of Life Vest Inside, on their Facebook page.  It's the whole 'pay it forward' concept, whereby you do something nice for someone, and they in turn are inspired to do something kind for someone else. Something we need to be constantly reminded of- being kind to others.

The mission statement for Life Vest Inside:

Charity work and community service are invaluable tools for bettering our world, but kindness is more than good deeds or volunteerism alone. Kindness is empathy, compassion, and human connection; it's a smile, a touch, or a comforting word. Even the smallest gesture can brighten a dark day or ease a heavy burden.

LVI works to cultivate the awareness that individuals can effect real and positive change in the people around them, simply by 'living kindness:' by embodying empathy and compassion in our day-to-day lives. LVI seeks to spread kindness and goodwill through the sharing of Acts of Kindness Cards, connecting our users to various inspirational media through film and the Internet. And further through the implementation of our Social Emotional Learning Program.

The wonderful thing about acts of kindness, is that not only does it benefit the receiver, it also benefits the giver, and more often than not it costs little to nothing. Just be aware of your surroundings and take the time to notice others, you will find plentiful opportunities to be helpful and kind.

This truly inspirational video also demonstrates how we are all somehow interconnected through these random acts of kindness. And what we put out comes back eventually comes back to us.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays 2011- Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays from Body, Mind and Spirit.

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah (Chanukah) or Christmas, be blessed.

With love enjoy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Free i-Phone and Android Apps For Vegetarians and Vegans

I was looking through my June 2011 Vegetarian Times (I know, I'm way behind) and came across a cool Smart Phone app for vegetarians. Unfortunately, most of the best apps are for iPhone and Android, neither of which I have, and this one is no exception.  I do have a Blackberry, but will be more than likely switching to a Droid come next year, so  I thought I would check around and see what other apps might be available for free.

IVU VEGGIE PHRASES: The app Vegetarian Times was touting is for those who might find themselves traveling abroad and want to make sure they're ordering tofu instead of chicken.  Created by Ashley Burton ( a self-styled "geek"), it's totally free and can be downloaded from the Android Marketplace or  iTunes. It uses the International Vegetarian Union list of "Vegetarian Phrases in World Languages" to help explain to your waiter what you can or cannot eat; in 60 different languages, to boot. It doesn't get high grades from users, but I would think it would be worth a try, for free. For Android download here. I couldn't find it on i-Tunes.

WHOLE FOODS MARKET RECIPES: With this free app, you can find a store near you, then check on recipes according to your dietary preferences, find ingredients, then make lists and email them to yourself or friends. It also has nutritional info and even how to prepare the meal. Not exclusively vegetarian, however. For iPhone only.  For more information on what the app can do, and to download for free, click here.

I-VEGETARIAN: Here's one that helps find vegetarian restaurants, though from one comment, it seems like it might need some work.  For iPhone only. Download here.

CRUELTY FREE: For those who are concerned about animal testing on cosmetics and household products, this lists about 200 Canadian and American companies that are cruelty free. For iPhone only. Download here.

BE VEGAN: If you want a free vegan recipe app, try this one. It also has news, articles, videos and other information of interest to vegans. For i-Phone only. Download here.

VEGSCAN: This app scans the bar codes of products, and is a handy way of finding out if something is vegan/vegetarian or not. For i-Phones only. Download here.

HAPPYCOW VEGINOUT:, one of the best online sources for vegetarian restaurants and health food stores worldwide, has several apps, including a free one. I'm not sure what the difference is between the free version and the paid version, but here's the free one. For Android.  Download here.

VEGETARIAN RECIPES: Is exactly that, an app that lists daily recipes. For Android. Download here.

I can't vouch for any of these, although I plan on downloading some as soon as I get my Android next year. And as with most things, there are people who love the apps and others who complain, but what do you want for something that is free. The download links are from either i-Tunes, or the Android Marketplace, but you can go to their websites and search for yourself.  You might find others you like.

Sources: Make Use Of and the Internet.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Clearing A Stuffy Nose The Natural Way

Not being able to breathe through a stuffed-up nose because of a cold, allergies or sinus problems is no fun. At least with a cold the stuffiness eventually goes away, but for those of us who deal with clogged noses on a daily basis it's terribly frustrating.   Of course, there are OTC drugs that many people use, depending on the cause of the nasal congestion, but if you're like me, I'd rather go the natural route to clear up my sinus passages.

Many people swear by Neti Pots, but with the latest news regarding two deaths potentially linked to Neti Pot usage in Louisiana, some people might be a little hesitant to use them, although they should be safe if used correctly.  So what other choices do we have?


1. Simply Saline Solution: A purified saline solution that you inhale into each nostril. You can purchase this anywhere. I tried it several times, but I have very sensitive nasal passages and the solution caused some bleeding. If you are one of the rare people that can not tolerate the salt, there is another natural option.

2. White Sesame Seed Oil:  Sesame seed oil has antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties so it's good for many uses, including clearing up that stuffy nose. This was recommended to me by my acupuncturist, who suggested  dipping a clean tissue in the sesame oil (the white not the dark), close off one nostril with your fingers and inhale deeply the oil into the other nostril. The white sesame oil is tasteless and odor free, and can be purchased at Asian markets or in most health food stores.  The only problem with the oil, is that it's a tad messy.

3. Hot Steam: Drop some eucalyptus, camphor or menthol oil into a bowl or pan of steaming hot water, drape a large towel over your head and breathe through your nose until there is no longer any steam.

4. Spicy Foods: Eating spicy hot foods will clear up nasal congestion, at least temporarily. Horseradish, Japanese wasabi mustard, Chinese hot mustard, anything with hot peppers.

5. Peppermint Candies: Chew or suck on some Altoids, or other peppermint or mint candy.

6. Acupressure Massage:  Here's a short video that demonstrates how to apply pressure to relieve sinus congestion.

This Chinese Medicine website has some additional recommendations, including the use of an eye dropper for the Sesame oil, which seems like a better choice than a tissue.

REMINDER: While these are natural remedies, there are some people who might be allergic to some of the herbs, sesame oil etc. Women who are pregnant should be particularly careful. And it is best to ask your physician or holistic health practitioner before use.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Neti Pot Use Linked To Brain Eating Amoeba Deaths

During cold, flu and allergy seasons, many will look for a more natural way of alleviating sinus problems.  Neti Pots, those Genie-lantern shaped contraptions made hugely popular by Dr. Mehmet Oz on the Oprah Winfrey Show, are one way people find relief.  Nasal irrigation has been around for centuries, originating as an ancient Ayurvedic treatment to clear out the nasal and sinus passages. Using a warm saltwater solution with purified or distilled water, you fill the neti pot and then

....hold it in the left hand. Bring the spout into the left nostril, lean over a sink, and as the head is tilted to the right side, tip the pot up to get the water to flow. Breathe through the mouth.

The aim is to get water to flow into the left nostril, around the area inside the nose and sinuses, and out the right nostril. Do this for 15 to 30 seconds, then change sides. It might take a couple of tries to get the right alignment.

People swear by it. But, as with most things you introduce into your body, you need to research and follow directions thoroughly.  Neti pot instructions state you are not to use tap water, only purified or distilled.  Tragically, two deaths in Louisiana have been potentially linked to the use of tap water in neti pots.   Apparently two people in Louisiana, a young man (20) and an older woman (51), have died from Naegleria fowleri, otherwise known as the "brain-eating amoeba".  As a result, Louisiana state's health department has warned neti pot users about the dangers of using tap water to irrigate their nostrils.

Dr Raoult Ratard, Louisiana State Epidemiologist, said: 'If you are irrigating, flushing, or rinsing your sinuses, for example, by using a neti pot, use distilled, sterile or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution.

'Tap water is safe for drinking, but not for irrigating your nose.'

He added that it is important to rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave open to air dry.

So it's not the actual neti pot itself that poses a danger, but the way in which it is used that can cause problems. It is believed that the two victims used plain tap water in their devices, rather than the recommended purified water, which is how the amoebas entered the brain.  The amoeba, which causes a rare disease called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAME), migrates to the brain through the nasal passages and eats away at the brain tissue.  Once infected, the patient usually dies within days. 

Normally found in warm freshwater rivers, waterholes and lakes, this would be the first instance of Naegleria Fowleri amoeba showing up in tap water, and the CDC is still trying to determine if the two Louisiana deaths were connected to tap water usage or not.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Natural Prevention and Treatment of The Common Cold and Flu

Although it's possible to catch a cold or the flu during other seasons of the year, it's during the winter time that our chances increase tenfold.  Though many people get their recommended annual flu shot as the cold season approaches, many of us are unable to or choose not to go that route and prefer a natural method of prevention and remedy. For most people, colds and flu are a minor nuisance, but for others, especially those with certain health conditions the flu can be dangerous, even deadly.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), typically, 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population get the flu every year, with an average of 23,600 flu-related deaths. That's a lot for an illness that usually can be prevented. As they say- an ounce of prevention.

PREVENTION:   So how does one prevent getting that nasty headache, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, fever or achy body symptoms the natural way?  It's all about keeping your immune system boosted or at least balanced, since the best way to get sick is when you happen to be run down.


1.   Make sure you eat a healthy diet full of whole grains, fruits and veggies.
2.   Get some exercise and plenty of rest.
3.   Take your Vitamin D3, year round. 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day is what is now recommended for adults, and some suggest doubling that amount during peak flu season (December through March). Research shows people with Vitamin D deficiency are more prone to colds and flu.
4.   Take your Omega3s, year round.  They are great anti-inflammatories, and antibacterials.
5.   Wash your hands constantly.  Especially if you are out in public.  Carry around those handy alcohol infused hand sanitizers, like Purell, and use them.
6.   Take Astragalus root, 6 to 8 weeks before the flu season starts. This Chinese herb boosts the immune system. I have taken it in the past and it was very helpful.
7.   Yu Ping Feng Wan, is another Chinese herbal formula that can prevent the onset of the common cold when rundown.  On several occasions my Acupuncturist has given me these little round black pills, and I managed to stay cold-free.
8.   Increase your Vitamin C intake, although there are some who think this is merely hype, and that it doesn't really help.
9. Don't touch your nose, eyes or mouth.

Now one can't always prevent the flu or a cold, and some people are just more prone to them than others.  But if you do start to feel like you might be catching one, the best time to attack it is right at the onset. Some of the herbal remedies I will recommend can help either stop it in its track, or at least lessen the duration and symptoms.

AT THE ONSET:  So you feel that scratchy throat, or that tickling sensation in your nose, what do you do? You can try any of the following.

1.   Take some Echinacea/Goldenseal.  Antibacterial, antiseptic, and immune boosting, the combination of these herbs can prevent the cold from developing into its full blown nastiness.  This used to work very well for me, but the immune boosting elements of the formula is not good for my Arthritis, so I am now unable to take it. And it's not something one should take for a prolonged periods of time.
2.   Start sucking on Zinc tablets. I use Cold-Eeze. I follow the directions, but Prevention Magazine claims more than 50 mg per day, is not good. Just make sure you don't take the Zinc with any citrus fruits or liquids.
3.   Southern Ban Lan Gen Chong Ji, is a hot Chinese herbal drink that you mix with hot water and is very useful to shorten the length of a cold or flu.  This is another product that I have used and found very helpful.  It is not recommended for pregnant women or diabetics, since it has cane sugar.
4.  Eat some garlic.  People always talk about giving people with colds chicken soup, but it's not the chicken that has healing properties, it's the garlic.  Garlic is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral.  People can be allergic to too much, so be careful.
5.  Pump yourself with Emergen-C.

WHEN SICK:  So you are now suffering with the various symptoms of cold and flu, but there are still some natural remedies that can help you get through the worst of it. First of all drink plenty of fluids, rest and stay home until at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.  Use Kleenex when you cough or sneeze, so  you don't spread the germs around. Those germs can last up to 48 hours (some claim longer) outside of the body. 

1.  Sore Throats: Gargle with warm salty water. Chew on several pepper corns- the juice will soothe the throat. It will make your eyes tear, but it helps. Take a teaspoonful of honey and swallow, honey has antibacterial properties and can soothe the throat.  Drink some hot lemon water with honey, the lemon is chock full of Vitamin C and also boosts the immune system. Remember, though, young children should not be given honey. Drink some slippery-elm tea, which also coats and soothes the throat. Ricola throat drops.  For more remedies check here.

2.   Coughs:  Fritillary and Loquat Extract, from my Acupuncturist, works wonders.  Honey is also good for coughs.  You can also try Ricola cough drops.

3.   Fever:  I have never tried it, but some people swear by egg whites to lower fever. Here are some interesting remedies for children that I'm sure would be helpful for adults.

REMEMBER if the symptoms become severe or last for a prolonged period of time, get ye to a doctor, ASAP.

PLEASE NOTE: Most of these things listed here I have used to great effect. The Chinese herbals were given to me by my Acupuncturist. Please check with your doctor or health practitioner before you embark on any herbal treatment for any condition. And please do your own research if you find something you might want to try.

Photo source.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Jung Typology Test

Humanmetrics is a great little site that has a variety of personality and personal type tests that you can take for free. These tests, though mostly for fun, can give you insight. I took the Jung Typology test which is based according to  Carl Jung and Briggs Myers typology.  It provides the following:

Your type formula according to Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers typology along with the strengths of the preferences

The description of your personality type

The list of occupations and educational institutions where you can get relevant degree or training, most suitable for your personality type
I didn't actually check the list of occupations, so I'm not sure what that might lead to, and whether you might have to pay for that information, but it was fun.  Click here to take the free test.

They also have a few other tests, but you have to pay for those. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Prevention Magazines 7 Foods To Avoid and Why

Ideally, we should all eat unrefined,  unprocessed,  organic, fresh whole foods for optimal health. But that's not always possible. The cost, with the economy the way it is in this day and age, can be prohibitive,, and sometimes it's just easier to cook with canned instead of fresh.

But there are certain food items that are more harmful than others, and it's those products that we should either avoid altogether and replace with organic and/or fresh choices, or at the least with safer alternatives.

Prevention Magazine has created a list of the 7 foods that certain people in the know are telling us to avoid using at all costs.

Take the endocrinologist at the University of Missouri,  Fredrick Vom Saal, who researches the adverse effects of  bisphenol-A (better known as BPA), the chemical that is contained in some plastic bottles and the resin lining on those cans of tomatoes or tomato sauce.  Apparently the acid in the tomatoes causes that BPA (synthetic estrogen) to leach into the food, which can then cause an assortment of unwanted health issues:

from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

The recommended alternative is fresh, or you can find tomatoes/sauce in those sealed cartons like Pomi, or you can try bottled.

Then there's the cattle farmer, Joel Salatin, from Polyface Farms who tells people to stay away from corn-fed beef and switch to grass-fed. Corn and soybeans are fed to cows for expediency, it makes them fatter quicker, and it's cheaper for the consumer. But with that lower cost is a cost to your health:

A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. "We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure," says Salatin.

They recommend buying grass-fed beef, I recommend going vegetarian.And that quick and easy popcorn you nuke in your microwave before snuggling up to watch "Sleepless In Seattle". Nope.  Toxicologist, Olga Naidenko who is a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, says there's a nasty chemical in the lining of the microwaveable popcorn bag which can also cause some not so nice health problems.

Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize--and migrate into your popcorn. "They stay in your body for years and accumulate there," says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals.
They recommend popping fresh popcorn in a skillet with butter as a flavoring, I would recommend just using one of those air poppers, which would be a healthier, fat-free alternative.

And what about spuds?  According to organic farm director, Jeffrey Moyer, one of the head honchos of the National Organic Standards Board, he won't touch a potato that isn't organic. Why, you might wonder, since we peel those suckers and we don't eat them raw.  Well, those lowly taters are subjected to an onslaught of chemicals that are absorbed into the skin:

Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes--the nation's most popular vegetable--they're treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they're dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. "Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won't," says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). "I've talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals."
Actually I have had non-organic potatoes sprout, but they recommend only buying organic. 

Salmon is supposed to incredibly healthy for you, chock-full of Omega3 Fatty Acids, but Dr. David Carpenter, a fisheries expert at the University of Albany, refuses to eat farm-raised salmon.

Nature didn't intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus.

They are also given pesticides and antibiotics, which in turn you ingest.

They recommend choosing wild-caught Alaska salmon, not the fresh Atlantic. I recommend going veggie.

Cancer researcher Rick North, refuses to drink milk with rBGH (bovine growth hormones). Cattle farmers love it, because it increases milk production, but those hormones are getting into your system too.

But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. "When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract," says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. "There's not 100 percent proof that this is increasing cancer in humans," admits North. "However, it's banned in most industrialized countries.

Pus, yummy. They recommend buying organic milk, or rBGH-free milk. I say switch to rice milk, one of the least allergenic foods around. Or if you aren't allergic to nuts, try almond milk.

And last but not least, the food that we were told if we ate one a day it would keep the doctor away, is no longer so revered. That, of course, was pre-pesticide days. But the lovely apple has been in the news lately, starting with Dr. Oz's claims of the dangers of arsenic in apple juice.  Mark Kastel, an organic foods expert will only eat organic apples. Apparently, the apple of all fall fruits would win the "most doused in pesticides constest."

They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don't develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it's just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. "Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers," he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson's disease.

So there you have it. The 7 foods, food products to avoid:

1. Canned Tomatoes
2. Corn-fed Beef
3. Microwaveable Popcorn
4. Nonorganic Potatoes
5. Farm-raised Salmon
6. Milk with Hormones (rBGH)
7. Nonorganic Apples

Source: Fox News

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cherokee WIsdom: The Struggle Between The Two Wolves Within

There is something wonderful about Native American Indian wisdom. I came across this one about the inner struggle that goes on within each and every one of us. There are different variations but the one I saw  goes like this:

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life.

"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves." "One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego." "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith." "This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old chief simply replied, "Whichever one you feed."
We don't have a choice about  the negative things that enter our minds, but we definitely do have a choice how long that negativity sits there and festers. It's a question of not allowing the "evil wolf" to take control of our lives, by not giving whatever negative emotion we might be harboring any energy, or 'feeding' it, as the Cherokee legend goes. We do this by replacing the negative with positive.  You can do this through positive self-talk or affirmations, or through EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) a great method for dealing with everything from releasing negative emotions to overcoming pain.

It's not an easy struggle, but well worth the effort.

Photo Credit

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Taking The Stress Out Of The Holiday Season- Or, Don't Buy Johnny That X-Box!

The holiday season is upon us, and along with all the excitement and joy that this time of year brings for many, comes the inevitable stress (and depression) for many others. It's that Bah Humbug time.

Stress, other than during times of danger, is not our friend, and can lead to many health issues- from stomach troubles to colds, and pretty much everything in between. If chronic, it can cause major health problems including heart disease and a weakened immune system. It's all those chemicals, but specifically cortisol, released during the 'fight or flight' response to some environmental or social stressor, which can have a negative impact on our bodies, particularly if it remains in our bloodstream for prolonged periods of time.

More often than not, we create our own stress during the holidays by having unrealistic goals and expectations, from both ourselves and others. We rush around, frantically trying to figure out what gifts to buy for family, friends and coworkers, most of which won't be appreciated, and are more than likely unneeded. Getting nasty and mean-spirited when parking spaces become a premium at the malls, or pepper spraying or  trampling someone to death at a Walmart trying to get a bargain on Black Friday is not what the season is about. Feeling obligated to go to all the parties and the feasts that we're invited to, we overindulge in unhealthy foods and drink, which leads to unwanted weight gain, and that extra tire, and I'm not talking about the one in the trunk of your car.

American consumerism, bolstered by a retail industry that encourages it- by now extending the Christmas season to way before Halloween- has become a major problem . We overspend and overeat, when we can least afford to. We get all tied up in the hype and commercialism, and we forget the true meaning of this time of year, and what the spirit of giving truly means. During simpler times, kids were happy with a couple of toys under the tree - a doll, legos or maybe a bike; now if they don't have a truckload of gifts under that tree, including the latest X-Box, the kids go ballistic.

But, there are ways to handle all the stress that is part and parcel of this time of year, particularly those things you do have control over.


JUST SAY NO- Pick a few parties you want to go to and decline the others. With all the people that are invited to these shindigs, no-one is going to miss seeing you, believe me. Spend time with the people you enjoy and care about, not the one's who cause you grief.

GIFT GIVING/LESS IS MORE- When it comes to gift giving, tell your family and friends you are not exchanging gifts this year. Or offer to give a gift of time. Offer to babysit one night for your brother, or pull the weeds at your parent's house. Tell your kids they are getting one nice present and one small gift, and that they have to choose some toys from their collection to give away to charity. And if you do decide to get a gift for an adult, rather than stressing about what to give them, why not donate to charity in that person's name. In fact, if you are having a party, suggest people do that instead of bringing you a gift. Opt out of the Secret Santa's. How often have you liked what you received, anyway?

FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD: Instead of stressing over cooking a huge feast for a slew of people, eat out. Or, go simple and have a pot luck. Make sure everyone helps with the cleanup. If you go to a party, limit your alcohol and food intake, your body and waistline will thank you.

DON'T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE- I'm the queen of procrastination, but there's nothing that causes stress more than waiting until the last minute to do something, including any shopping you might have. So make your list, check it twice and head out for the shops with plenty of time. The closer to Christmas it gets, the fuller the parking lots will be and the nastier you and others will get. It's not worth the added stress.

DON'T FRET OVER THINGS YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER- If you can't find what you want, find a substitute or move on, cross it off your list. Nothing is worth fretting over, especially if you have no control over it, which is pretty much everything other than our opinions and how we react to the circumstances in our lives. According to Stoic philosopher Epictetus,  to be happy we must know what is and isn't within our control. The only things we have control over are our opinions "and our impulses desires and aversions - in short whatever is our own doing." (Encheiridion C1). Wanting to control things that are not within our control can only cause unhappiness and stress: "Do not seek to have events happen as you want them to but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well" (Encheiridion C8).

SLEEP/REST/MEDITATE/BREATHE- This is the time when our bodies and minds rejuvenate, heal, recuperate and recharge. Make sure you don't skimp. Get enough sleep at night, and nap or rest, if you can, even if it's to shut the mind down for a few minutes.

Meditation can also help with stress, as can deep breathing.

When you feel very stressed, take a deep, slow breath. Inhale fully, a long deep breath, through your nostrils. Fill the lungs. Hold for about 10-15 seconds and then exhale. As you exhale, think of all the stress flowing out of your body. Do that a few times.

HERBS/VITAMINS ETC- Instead of a cup of coffee, try a nice hot, relaxing, cup of chamomile tea. That should calm you down. Passion Flower, Oatstraw and Valerian are also calmatives. Ashwaghanda, is an Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) tonic which also has a calming effect. Siberian Ginseng enhances the immune function, strengthens the adrenal glands and helps the body adapt to stress. And don't forget the Vitamins and Minerals: B Vitamins are quickly depleted during times of stress, so shore up on your Bs. What the body doesn't use, it will eliminate. Stress also depletes Vitamin C, which supports the adrenal glands, a healthy immune system and inflammatory response. Stress also depletes magnesium, which is a very important anti-stress mineral that helps promote relaxation by helping the body utilize various antioxidants and vitamins. And for a mood enhancer, try Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids. Omega-3 is not produced in the body, so you have to get it from foods or supplements, and most diets are sorely lacking.

For more information on herbal remedies for stress check here , and here.

When taking herbs, please check to make sure you are not allergic to anything, and that you do research before combining or embarking on any herbal regimen.

I posted this back in 2008, and decided to repost this year.

Cross posted at Confessions Of A Closet Republican.