I forgot my mantra

What is a mantra, exactly? I’ll let Ram Dass explain.

“In Buddhism, the word mantra means “mind protecting”. A mantra protects the mind by preventing it from going into its’ usual mechanics, which often are not our desired or optimal conscious perspective.”

Mind protecting sounds pretty good, right? But how does it work? Again, Ram Dass can explain.

“Mantra is usually recited silently in the mind. When practiced daily, it has the ability to steady the mind and transform consciousness. To be most effective, mantra should be repeated frequently; any time, any place – walking, taking a shower, washing the dishes. I used to do mantra while waiting in line, so as not be bored.”

Mantras are typically in the form of the name of God. Ram Dass’ own mantra is Ram.

“Ram represents living daily as an act of worship. He is a being of great light, love, compassion, wisdom and power – in perfect harmony. Ram is the essence of who you are when you realize your true self (the atman).”

We can chose Ram as our mantra. We can choose love, or I love you, or I love myself, or I am love.

Through our mantra, we can learn to see and experience love and divinity everywhere, and find great peace in that discovery.

“Everyone you meet is Ram who has come to teach you something. Mantra is remembering that place in the heart – Ram, Ram, Ram. Say it, mouth it, think it, feel it in your heart. You are continually meeting and merging into perfection.”

Do you remember your mantra now?

portrait of a young ram

If it doubt, pick something that connects you to divine love. Kamal Ravikant prefers “I love myself”, but it’s a highly personal choice.

A mantra really is the perfect way to pass the time while waiting in line and keep a good mood up in the process, at very least.

Ram Dass’ new book, Polishing the Mirror, is available here on Amazon.com.

IMAGE VIA ANNIE HALL. THANK YOU.

albert bear 5-htp

I’ve always been a good sleeper and dreamer, but 5-HTP has made my waking and sleeping life notably better.

I seem to be sleeping much deeper, and if something wakes me up in the middle of the night, I find it much it so much easier to fall instantly back to sleep.

My dreams are already quite vivid and lively, but now they’ve taken on a more lucid, more entertaining quality. I also find myself recalling snatches of old dreams at the least provocation, many of which are over 20 years old. Apparently that information is all stored in the cloud somewhere.

What is 5-HTP anyway? What does it do? Apparently the body turns it into serotonin. Which puts you into a good mood and into an even better sleep. It’s not to be taken with SSRIs, though, lest you risk serotonin syndrome. 

All I know is that Dr Mona Lisa Schultz seems to recommend it to everyone on her radio show. I’m not a doctor so can’t recommend anything to anyone, but what I do know is that me, Albert Bear and 5-HTP couldn’t be happier together.

(Want to order in Australia? iHerb delivers internationally.)

Quinoa Bircher Muesli Blueberries

I’m quite particular about all my meals, but breakfast is oh-so-close to my heart. Sadly one cannot live on brioche alone (even if it has been fangled into my favourite Gourmet Traveller cherry french toast).

First principles: a sustaining breakfast needs a protein source. I’ve discover over time that their are limits to my appetite for eggs, even if Delia Smith is the mastermind behind my ever-successful scrambling technique.

Enter quinoa. My mother is a quinoa true-believer and eats it for breakfast most days. This initially seemed odd to me, but within a week I was converted. She adds strawberries and kiwifruit to hers, which is quite something.

Ever eager to one-up her, I imagined I could quite easily create a “Bircher” style recipe that would put those other semi-glutenous rolled oat recipes to shame. This recipe sits nicely in the fridge where I can scoop out a cup each morning for a working breakfast.

Blueberry Quinoa Bircher Muesli

1 cup uncooked quinoa, red or white, as you fancy

400ml coconut cream, organic

300 gm frozen blueberries, defrosted

10 gm stevia

2 tbs sunflower seeds

2 tbs pumpkin seeds

1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly with cold water. I prefer to soak the quinoa for about 20 minutes, simply placing the strainer over a bowl full of water. Quinoa tastes horrid if improperly rinsed – avoid!

2. Add the quinoa to a pan of boiling water, and boil until soft. This might take a bit over 15 minutes. Taste it when you reach past the 10 minute mark to monitor progress.

3. Rinse the cooked quinoa in cold water, then add it to a suitable dish for your muesli, preferably one that will allow you store it for the next few days. I use a simple rectangular pyrex dish that has a plastic lid. Spread the mixture out rather evenly.

4. Shake the can of coconut cream/milk. If it isn’t homogenous after a good rattle – as good coconut cream so often isn’t – you can simply pour the coconut cream into your blender and give it a whirl. At this point I like to add two sachets of stevia. When the cream is smooth, pour the cream over the quinoa.

6. Top the mixture with the defrosted blueberries. If you are flush with fresh ones, don’t hesitate to lay them on thick. Then top the whole mixture with the tablespoons of seeds.

7. Finally, use your spoon to make sure the coconut cream has penetrated down to the depths of the quinoa.

Eat immediately. Or eat tomorrow.

Most importantly? Savour it! And feel free to add other little bits at your discretion. (Yes – kiwifruit is surprisingly delicious.)

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This weekend just past I had the privilege of spending an hour on the phone with Dr Mona Lisa Schultz. She’s an absolute genius if there ever was one: a double doctor and a medical intuitive par excellence. I’d heard her razor like accuracy on her weekly radio program and needed to experience it for myself.

Dr Mona Lisa prefers to work on the telephone, with nothing more than the name and age of the patient, so that she can connect to her intuitive data without too much information in the way to confuse her. The last thing she wants is to know in advance any details about your health or life that might interfere with her intuitive process.

One of the pieces of “intuitive data” that she received of more general interest was that my hormones were out of balance, most likely caused by over a decade on the pill. “Because your body thinks it’s permanently pregnant, your mood is often easily unbalanced. Oestrogen is an anti-depressant in the right amount, but the excess oestrogen in the body causes depression, and it’s making you quite moody.”

You don’t say.

This is no doubt a common problem amongst 30 year old women, but I daresay a lot of us have moods that are unreliable. I am certainly a case in point. It’s truly perplexing how up and down my mood can get from day to day.

Having an up and down mood is not just inconvenient: it’s often debilitating. It means that the things that you love one day become annoying to you the next. It means not being sure if you’ll ever quite feel like doing something when the allotted date comes around, and being therefore unwilling to commit to things.

If we think this is natural and normal, we will just suffer through it, accepting the situation and believing we can’t do any better.

Dr Mona Lisa talks about creating a “brain brace” – support for your brain and moods that is like a helmet in the form nutrients and the right drugs. She recommends that if mood is a long term problem, people should take the right mood management drugs in order to stabilise themselves.

“Stabilise your mood first, THEN treat the depression,” is what she tells her listeners.

While I am sadly in no position to suggest medical advice, I can pass on her suggestions for stabilising unreliable moods the natural way.

1. DHA

Found in fish oil, DHA is crucial for our brain to make the chemicals that keep us in a good mood. And apparently it’s advisable to take a LOT of it. 500-3000mg per day of DHA can equate to about 15 fish oil tablets per day, so do yourself a favour and aim to buy a brand of fish oil which has at least 300mg of DHA per tablet so that you don’t spend half the day swallowing the things.

This might seem like a lot of fish oil tablets, but I’ve seen doctors like Dr Perricone recommend similar doses to keep your skin unwrinkled, hydrated and unblemished. What’s good for the brain is good for the face and heart. An unwrinkled face, brain and mood does truly seem to warrant swallowing all those pills.

2. Lemon balm and/or passionflower tea

This is a super-relaxing, anti-anxiety necessity. If you get anxious, get some of this tea, and start sipping your way to serenity.

3. Vitamins B6 and B16

Again, our body needs these vitamins to create happy chemicals. Often our diets can be quite low in these B vitamins, so a supplement is a very good idea to help correct the fault. That is unless you eat a lot of liver and shellfish already. Which I certainly do not.

4. 5-HTP

5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin. More serotonin is mostly a very good thing. People who take this often report that they’ve never slept better. 5-HTP can be difficult to find in Australia, but American and European readers will have no trouble getting it from such obscure sources as amazon.com. (5-HTP is not to be taken with SSRIs like Zoloft or Prozac). I hope my order arrives quickly without being trapped in customs purgatory.

5. Daily exercise, no matter what 

A routine of at least 20 minutes daily exercise gets our body functioning at its best, producing the right chemicals in the optimum amounts, circulating our lymph, and getting our brain to produce more serotonin and beta-endorphins. I once had a bipolar friend who regulated his mood with 3 hours a day of exercise. I think it proves the point in a way.

Other things that I know make me miserable include not getting enough water, sleep and vegetables in my diet. And yet sometimes in my cleverness I neglect the basics. I try not to, but sometimes I forget what’s really important.

I hope this inspires you to reconsider your own moods and to embrace the “brain brace” principle.

If you want to read more on how to manage your moods, here is a great article from Dr Christiane Northrup with a little more science on the subject.

Image (c) Malemar via Instagram

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What’s your own personal heroin? Cookies? Cupcakes? Cubans? When the going gets tough, almost all of us have a favourite source of reliable good feelings that we can turn to. Getting through life can seem a lot easier with the help of a half bottle of champagne for breakfast, Winston Churchill style.

Perhaps an hour on Net-A-Porter each evening is all you need to face the evening alone?

Some of us even use our spiritual connection as a false source of self-esteem.

But band aids are no substitute for getting to the source of what is cutting us up in the first place.

It’s a bit confronting to discover that some of the things we love most in our lives – shopping, eating, romance – aren’t authentic expressions of who we really are. Instead they are just distractions from our worst feelings.

They are a compensation for our lack of love for ourselves and our lack of support in the world.

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We might believe that we just really, really, really enjoy chocolate/sex/shopping/pasta/writing business plans, because these things give us an extreme source of pleasure, not to mention incredible relief from the pain of living, but if we take a closer look, what we’ll discover is that our appreciation is not based in love. It’s just a reaction to anxiety, and that reaction is holding our lives hostage.

That’s what our addictions are. They are shortcuts to feeling good that we know we can always turn to, and these shortcuts make it impossible for us to know the truth about who we actually are and what we are really feeling about anything. If we fall in love with someone because we are anxious about being alone, or because we are trying to prove that we are worthy, are we really in love? Are we really in a position to make a good life choice when our choices are attempts to ensure that we never have to feel bad?

Anxious and addicted people cannot love, and our ability to love ourselves and love life will be limited by how anxious and addicted we are.

The addictions we choose are very personal and specific to each us. Alcohol and marijuana might be effective in removing social anxiety for one person, for instance. Someone else might find that a glass of wine or a joint just puts them straight to sleep. I’ve been “lucky” to find that drugs and alcohol make me feel worse rather than better, so instead I’ve chosen more apparently benign substitutes. 

Some of our addictions are legal, and some are not. Some addictions are life threatening, and others are apparently benign. But regardless of the form our addictions take, the effect is the same. 

When we turn to a process or substance to modify our mood, we don’t learn the truth about our real feelings, fears and problems. Addiction stops us from knowing how sad we are about certain things, and about how mad we are at certain people, including ourselves. This is a very dangerous thing.

If we are avoiding our truth, we will have no opportunity to ever get to the source of the fears that are unconsciously ruining our life. Addictions make it possible for us to live our lives completely on the wrong path because through the addiction, we have found a way to cope with the discomfort of living a life that is completely wrong for us.

Eventually we will find that we never know how we really feel about anything, because we’ve spent so much time overriding our feelings that they seem foreign and unreal. We will have no idea who we are and what we really enjoy in life. The idea that we might be anxious or depressed will seem a bit absurd, because we have never actually let ourselves feel our sadness fully.

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If you take a proper look at the thoughts you were having in the moments right before you started to crave your substance of choice, you would discover that there was actually an anxious, depressed, worried thought that first set you off, almost always without you even noticing.

Before these negative thoughts were even fully conscious, your brain skipped straight to a craving of the thing that it knows from experience lets you feel better. Just the craving itself releases the chemicals that you need so that you can avoid feeling anxious, depressed, moody or irritable. Bad feelings are warning signs, and addictions let us conveniently override all these warnings.

I started to understand this for myself when I allowed myself to observe my own cravings. I wanted to see what kind of thoughts were triggering me. I decided that each time I craved sugar, shopping or obsessive behaviour, I would then stop for a moment and backtrack to discover what I was thinking or feeling before the craving started.

My addictions have cycled over the years between obsessing over goals, romances, chocolate, ice cream, cakes, alcohol, shopping and excessive planning. These addictions might seem benign, but just because they are not life-threatening does not mean they aren’t life-ruining.

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If we seek refuge in substances and processes to feel better, then we will never really connect with the reality of who we are and what we are afraid of. We will ignore the fact that our life choices are not right for us, and we will be escaping from the fact that our thoughts, judgments and fears are actually making us miserable.

Before I started to observe my cravings, it seemed to me that they always came out of absolutely nowhere. Only by looking closely at the thoughts I was having in the moments right before my craving – almost completely unconsciously – I found that there was ALWAYS some sort of painful, anxious thought that was triggering me.

A craving could be triggered by a micro-second thought – perhaps about how a certain goal of mine was ridiculous, impossible and hopeless – a thought that triggered all my fears at once and sent my body into a fixated desire for chocolate or the like so I could feel better.

Do you want to get to know your own fears? Do you want to start pealing back the layers that are covering up your truth?

Observe yourself in the next few hours.

Which of the following do you find ourselves craving? It isn’t just hard drugs that introduce opiates into our body, after all.

– Drugs

– Alcohol

– Foods, whether in the form of cheese, chocolate, cupcakes, cookies or creme caramel

– Particular websites, whether Pinterest or pornographic

– Dreaming, obsessing, planning, thinking

– Fixing other people’s problems

– Sex, fetishes, etc

– Goals

– Distractions

– Shopping

– Talking

– Showing off

– Romance, love, infatuation

When you start to crave, stop yourself. Open a blank document on your computer and write the heading: THIS IS HOW I FEEL RIGHT NOW. Spend a few moments filling up the page. Are you surprised by what you discover about how you are really feeling? What feeling might you be avoiding?

Consider, is your addiction really helping you to feel better? And for how long?

It might surprise you to start discovering how anxious you really are. But don’t freak out.

The good news is that anxious thoughts can be overcome, but we actually need to address them first so we can do the work to  release them. We just need to really feel them and make them conscious so we can start to get to their other side.

All our fearful thoughts are irrational, but we will never have the opportunity to discover this if we completely blanket over them every single time. Start journaling about your real feelings each time you crave your substance of choice, and see what you discover.

Image: Heroin by WRDBNR

PS.

Having a higher power that isn’t ourselves or our addiction of choice is a very good start.

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Why meditate? Somehow, meditation has an ability to connect your body and mind to a source of higher peace, awareness and tranquility. It trains us to understand that in every moment, we have an alternative to thinking, striving and doing: we can simply be. Meditation trains us to become comfortable with being. Meditation brings incredible richness and inspiration to our non-meditating moments.

I’ve discovered that becoming a good meditator is much easier that I could have ever imagined. There is only one rule you need to learn to guarantee your success in meditating.

Just show up for yourself and your best life – you deserve it.

All the rest is details. If you just show up, valuing the peace and purpose that comes from learning to return to your being throughout your day, you’ll naturally want to learn to improve your technique and to maximise how you spend your meditation time. The other details will take care of themselves.

To go into more detail, let me break this down into three sub-rules as to what not to do.

1. Don’t avoid meditating just because you are certain you’ll find it hard not to think

Having a blank mind isn’t a recipe for good meditation. A blank mind is a dead mind. It’s through thinking and then dropping those thoughts, returning to your mantra or breath, that you train your brain to return to being. Meditation is a training of the brain and a training of awareness.

It’s through returning to your mantra that you learn to drop your thoughts, not by having no thoughts at all. If you don’t have thoughts distracting you, then you can never learn to return to being, which is what we really need to learn to do most in meditation, not to mention in life. In short, thinking is not the enemy when you are meditating. The only enemy is perfectionism.

2. Don’t delay meditation until you are “in the mood”

Like with exercise, there is a chance that you won’t ever be in the mood. Don’t think about it too hard, just do it. In truth, there is no such thing as a bad meditation: the only “bad” meditation is no meditation at all.

3. Don’t expect to be perfect the first week or two you meditate

Perfection is an illusion. I’m an expert on perfection and disillusionment, and I can promise you this with all my heart. Perfectionism kills dreams and destroys lives.

Consider this: if you have never run before, and then expect to go for a five mile run effortlessly, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Like with any kind of exercise, meditation doesn’t become “comfortable” until you’ve been doing it every day for at least a few months.

To get your momentum going, start by committing to yourself, your higher awareness, your peace and power, and commit to meditating every day for 21 days. In that time, you’ll find you have built a habit you really don’t want to break. You will feel different. You will love it.

Sometimes your meditation will be dull. Sometimes it will be bliss. But practice enough, and you’ll become indifferent, because you can appreciate each kind for what it is.

Start by committing to 20 minutes of showing up each day. Many of the world’s busiest people make this time for themselves. You deserve it.

If you want to make yourself accountable, I personally love and recommend the app Insight Timer. It makes a bit of a game out of my consistency, even for someone as non-competitive as me. And after 20 minutes, that gentle “gong” is the most beautiful sound in the world.

Image via The Travelling Light

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Electrical circuits in appliances need grounding to stop us from getting electrocuted. Our bodies are electrical systems too, and so we also need to make sure we are properly “earthed” on a regular basis.

Bare feet on grass, rock or concrete will do the job nicely, and this type of “earthing” practice is now recommended by the cutting edge of alternative health  as “The Ultimate Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory“. Insomniacs have been told to walk barefoot on grass for a few decades now, so if you find yourself wired at 1 a.m., take a little stroll outside and see how you feel an hour later.

It seems surprising that we’ve come to a point in history where people need to be told to walk with bare feet in grass. Rustic is the new luxurious, however, just as tanning became a surprise new leisure-time status symbol in the 60s and then again in the 2010s as an immune system booster.

This is the age of Aquarius, and with it has come the rise of electronics, intellectual activity, deep thinking, computers and alternate conceptions of spirituality. Aquarius being an air sign, the Age of Aquarius is characterised by air, electricity, intellectual activity, rational thought and communication. We are obsessed with knowing everything and being in constant radio contact with each other. It is not an intrinsically earthed sort of era.

In the coming centuries we will therefore need to make sure we don’t get completely lost to the point on insanity in concepts, ideas, brain processes and spiritual conceptualisation. We’re only less than a hundred years into the Age of Aquarius, after all, and already our most intimate relationship is likely to be with a mobile device of some sort.

In 2000 years, if and when the Age of Capricorn comes, we will then get a heavy dose of earth sign Capricorn. Every sign has its dark side, and until then, we will need to deal with the dark side of Aquarius: too much thinking, talking and analysing, and not enough grounding. We will need to do our best to retain our balance and not get sucked into the dominant unbalances of the age.

The Age of Pisces which we have just left was a water sign and therefore quite emotion-centred. This was great for building all those cathedrals and fighting all those holy wars, and explains why so many people would be prepared to give their lives for such causes.

Today’s rational Aquarian type would be puzzled by the capacity for any such fervour. Today we are not so easily convinced to give our life for any strong sentiment. But by being so focused on our minds, thoughts and the body’s electrical systems – by being so “clever” – we do risk losing our connection to what’s happening down on the ground of life.

The value of living in a down to earth way is becoming increasingly undervalued, so much so that we are even seeing a back-lash. People now dream of going off the grid and disabling their Facebook accounts. Even nerds like me are getting fed up with all the emphasis on thinking, computing and digital convenience. It’s enough to make me want to take up gardening and baking.

Reading The Intuitive Advisor, I was surprised and delighted to read Dr Mona Lisa’s suggestion that some people can become immersed in their brains, emotions and spiritual experiences to the point where it throws their body out of balance. As an intellectual turned spiritual fruitcake I can more than relate.

I’ve learned from experience that too much time in thought and contemplation throws the body out of balance. Too much contemplation and brain activity overloads our 6th chakra and can lead to mood and anxiety problems. The mind needs to be balanced with the body, just as thought needs to be balanced with experience. Our body is an energy system that needs balance between the needs of all chakras, not just one or too. If our mind dominates, an excess of the brain’s electrical activity can leave us volatile and exhausted.

Too much of either mind or body stops us from connecting to the full experience of life that we are here to experience. Yes, we are spiritual beings here for a human experience, but the human experience is vital to our growth. Engaging with our humanity is not optional. We are not here to meditate it away or pray it away: we are here to engage with life and love it all. We need the capacity to have both our feet on the ground AND our head in the clouds and bring the two together in balance.

Yoga does a magnificent job of getting us present in our bodies, and I feel its popularity lies perhaps not so much in the fact that it is a spiritual practice sold as a fitness regime, but perhaps in the fact that people instinctively know that if they go over the top with spiritual practices without a bodily balance, they really do risk straining their nervous systems and losing touch with reality. Going deep is potentially very powerful and transformative, but it also has the potential to burn us out.

Becoming conscious of the risks of being unearthed at this time in our history is the first step towards doing something about it. But we then need to also take action and make sure that we actually do keep ourselves grounded, balanced and in tune with the basics of the life experience.

Here are some suggestions.

– Get serious about minimising time on computers and electrical devises. It actually is possible to say no and to go analogue simply for the sake of your health. Write by hand for a change. Keep your mail-order magazine subscriptions. Give your brain a rest and deliberately spend a day unplugged from information and communication: not reading anything at all but instead cooking, taking walks, playing music or sewing clothes.

– Invite people over, cook them some whole foods and actually talk to them.

– Walk to the corner shop for an ice cream in bare feet once in a while

– Find some grass and take off your shoes a few times a week

– Get into the ocean as often as you possibly can

– Take a picnic in a botanical garden and look at the names of all the plants

– Rid your bedroom of electrical devices, including the convenience of a mobile phone as an alarm clock

– Set your computer to shut down at a specific time each night, forcing you to get away from your device and into bed at a reasonable hour

– Make service to others a part of your spiritual practice, balancing reading and contemplation with mindful service and loving attention. Don’t force excessive thought and contemplation to the point where you lose touch with the everyday pleasures of life: food, friendship, fun and family. Centre your life around the simple pleasures of the human experience.

It’s fairly obvious that our lives are only going to get increasingly less grounded. Give me convenience of give me death has become our modus operandi and unconscious death wish.

Instead of being caught up in the excitement of continual advances and breakthroughs, many of us will need to instead start protecting ourselves and saying no, being vigilant in the face of a world that only threatens to become almost completely digitalised.

Saying no to the deluge of ever more technological dependence has, for me, less to do with economics or being a snobbish luddite, and everything to do with the simple awareness that the good life is not necessarily the convenient life. Taking a step backwards to bare feet on grass might become our surprising but very necessary next step forwards.

Image by Studio14

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Earlier in the year I got very firm intuitive guidance that I needed to spend 2014 balancing my chakras and personal energy system. What do I mean exactly by “firm intuitive guidance”?

Like most people, I only pay the scantest of attention to intuition in daily life. Instead I tend to think of myself as a machine brought into this life to meet objectives, achieve goals and make things happen.

Because I tend to be shut down to any intuition that doesn’t fit with my agenda, my body is forced to send me messages that I will actually listen to. Our bodies are very clever like that. If we aren’t prepared to listen to something quite important, our bodies will slow us down and make us listen.

I know that my body has been sending me these messages for years, and they only seem to have been getting louder over time. For the last seven years I’ve been getting my “firm intuitive guidance” in the form of nuclear-strength colds. These things are strong enough to knock me out for a week or two at a time.

Coincidentally, these colds seem to last just long enough for me to realise that there is something terribly wrong going on in my life that I had been ignoring. By going into temporary shut down, my body is actually doing me a favour, however perversely. A week long cold gives me permission to slow down and pay attention.

The first few days of these cold are invariably hell. All I can think about is all the things I should be doing rather than resting in bed.  But by the end of the cold, I’m actually always glad that I’ve had the opportunity to get back to basics and see the reality about what I’ve been ignoring.

And so when on January 6 this year I was struck down by a cold, mid-summer and only two hours after dropping my boyfriend at the airport for a 7 week trip to Africa, it was obvious that this wasn’t “just a cold”. The symptoms were very real but the cause was clearly routed in emotion. Painfully, this wasn’t a convenient time for me to be ill. I had a lot on my plate: a birthday party to organise, a new home to find and a to-do list as long as I am tall.

As if the cold wasn’t enough to get me into bed for a week, a second quite severe symptom surfaced at the same time. My neck decided to go on strike. It completely seized up, in fact, giving me a full-body headache and making it impossible to even raise my head off the pillow for a few days. This was not the start to 2014 I had in mind.

Seven days into the cold it showed no signs of lifting. At this point I became aware of a surprising but important piece of intuition. If I was going to make it through 2014, I would need to focus my attention less on my goals, and more on getting into balance. For some reason, the idea of balancing my chakras became less of a luxury and more of a necessity for simply functioning in the world. It became clear that if I didn’t get a handle on whatever was throwing me constantly out of balance, I was going to find myself have to deal with increasingly less innocuous illnesses over time.

I’ve now learned that immune problems, like colds and flus, are first chakra problems. They relate to how well we balance our own needs with those of our tribe. Do we feel safe and at home in the world? Are our personal needs balanced with those around us? My colds do indeed tend to come at a time when I am highly unsure of whether I can find stability and security within my tribe, or when I am unsure of my place in the world.

Neck problems relate to the fifth chakra, which are linked to having a healthy ability to communicate with others with respect for everyone, including yourself. As someone who tends to say “yes, whatever you like” when they should probably be saying something like “absolutely no way in hell”, I am as notorious for my inability to communicate “assertively” as I am for my recurring neck problems. It’s typical for people who don’t get to have their say in everyday life to become writers, after all, just so their lack of healthy fifth chakra self-expression doesn’t completely do them in.

These two road blocks conspired together and made it a challenge for me to get out bed for almost two weeks – enough time to get their point across: I was going to have to re-prioritise. I wouldn’t be able to gloss over my lack of balance for much longer, and I would need to let go of a lot of things from my life to make room for this balance.

This seemed almost too basic and fundamental for someone used to exploring esoteric spiritual matters. Distracting myself from the fundamentals, however, was no longer going to be possible. If I wanted to function in the world, I would need to attend to these matters asap.

I dawdled a bit on the issue, not sure about how to resolve it, but opened myself up to inspiration. A few months passed and my neck wasn’t getting much better, and I started to worry that perhaps I was going to end up with arthritis or a slipped disk.

Enter Mona Lisa Schultz. Two weeks ago she entered my awareness as if by magic. I got hold of her book The Intuitive Advisor – a detailed volume which seems to have been written conveniently as a 289 page kick-starter for my exact needs. In The Intuitive Advisor Dr Schultz systematically canvases all the chakras, linking four different personality profiles to each potential chakra challenge.

It’s compelling reading, and I’ve found that for each chakra I can relate in some ways to at least one of the personality profiles. For chakras 1, 3 and 5, however, I found myself relating to two or three of the profiles in an almost odd-admixture of traits. One day I might find myself playing one role, The Rock of Dependability, and the next I might be Broken Down, Burned Out, and of little use to anyone. The way we react to chakra imbalances no doubt depends on how our energy is flowing from day to day.

Inspired by the book, I’ve been able to do a careful audit of my 7 chakras to find the places where I’m off balance. Not wanting to brag, but I can see at least ten different sources of chakra imbalances straight off the bat. Dr Schultz’s suggestions are highly practical: get more sleep, say no at least once a day, create a daily routine of exercise, surround yourself with reliable people. Her suggestions are almost too sensible for me to have thought of them myself. But that doesn’t make them any less important. Keeping grounded and nurtured is a vital part of our human experience.

If you have recurring health issues, I urge you to consider the serious possibility that they are routed in a dysfunctional energy centre in the body. Even things like “shopping addiction” can be a symptom of having a dysfunctional third chakra (see the Constantly Craving type: the person for whom activities that make them feel good, satisfied, fulfilled and at peace are more important than meeting their worldly responsibilities – that includes me some days!)

The Intuitive Advisor makes it possible to work through your entire energy system to create a stable, highly-functioning system rather than a body held hostage to the emotional needs that have been ignored for far too long – perhaps your whole life.

Image by Beth Hoeckel Collage & Design

I love to eat out. I love food. I also love feeling vital, balanced and calm. And so I follow a mainly Ayurvedic, mainly vegan eating plan. Except when I don’t. What’s odd is how ridiculously easy it’s become to eat what is generally considered a very marginal lifestyle choice.

My diet is hugely inspired by Ayurveda. Ayurveda is lacto-vegetarian and focuses heavily on food combining principles. I made the shift towards vegan eating after having experienced the pleasure of not having strained digestion. I like to eat what creates and harmony peace in my body.

Why am I mostly vegan, and not strict vegan? This is my reason: I don’t think it’s completely necessary. Being too strict is a false economy: fear of failure and criticism means most people are too afraid to even try it. 

I guess some people are just naturally rebellious, and by some people I mean me. And so, if I really feel like meat, I eat it. If I go to someone’s house and they serve meat, I eat it, or some of it, or eat around it. I don’t make a production out of it. I enjoy not being a pain in the arse to both myself and others. I’m more than happy to sacrifice the title of “vegan” or “psycho” to enjoy the harmony that comes out of eating vegan, albeit only *most of the time*.

My personal eating philosophy is therefore this: eat what feels right, and eat what creates harmony in you and in your life. Eat peace and light and joy. Base your life around experience and know that what you eat affects your consciousness and how much you can bring to the world. For me, that means mostly cooking vegan and eating vegan, and really enjoying what I eat.

It doesn’t mean waging war on animal products, starting an ego-battle with annoying or alienating every second person I meet. I haven’t got any time for arguments or for debating finer details or having an anxiety attach over whether my curry contains a dash of fish sauce.

Life doesn’t need to be so hard. The idea that we need to conform strictly to every practice that inspires us is a myth, and a very restricting one too. Until you have a medical condition or addiction/compulsion (the same thing), you get to make up your own rules and negotiate your own relationships.

What do I say when people ask me about my eating?

“Yes, I’m mostly vegan, and like it because it is peaceful for my body personally and for the world in general. But I don’t believe it is necessary to be strict, and am happy to eat a bit of meat if it is served. 95% vegan eating is good enough for me, and gives me more freedom to enjoy life and keep my friendships.”

What can be cool about taking this approach is that it gives other people permission to be bold enough to define their own boundaries for themselves also. Few people realise that they can do everything on their own terms and can try things without being bound to conform to anything.

Two other big myths?

That it is hard to eat healthily as a vegan. If you eat enough healthy fat and vegetables, and minimise sugars and refined flour, healthy eating is very achievable.

Secondly, that it is hard to find delicious, affordable things to eat as a vegan. I assure you that it is possible to eat mostly vegan on auto-pilot, because that’s exactly what I do. I rarely spend more than 15 minutes on cooking unless I feel like it, and I can eat out every second night as a vegan if I want to and still spend under $10 a day.

It’s truly unbelievable how easy it can be when you have a system, and the system is super easy. You just need a repertoire of at least 5-minute vegan meals up your sleeve, and five fail safe eating out options.

To make it easier for you, here’s what I mainly eat.

At home …

Rice toast with salted ABC butter
Rice and coconut cream porridge with maple syrup
Dosa flat breads with avocado and lemon
Pumpkin dhal and rice
Curried vegetables: zucchini/cauliflower/green beans
Cauliflower au gratin
Curried coconut red beans
Dosas with eggplant baba ganoush
Raw organic carrots

I’ll share the recipes at the end of the article with an explanation of each: scroll down when you are ready or keep reading until you reach the end.

When it comes to budget considerations, the bulk of the meals are made around a staple diet of organic rice and dried mung dhal, which can be bought in bulk for less than $6 a kilogram. Living off mostly vegetables doesn’t break the bank. Coconut oil, coconut cream, nut butter and maple syrup are the most expensive ingredients, but are certainly not prohibitively so. High quality Himalayan salt and coconut oil are the vegan’s best friend.

Eating out …

I never thought the day would come, but I no longer get that excited about frequenting the most gorgeous restaurants and cafes in town. That’s because I’ve found something more exciting: the joy of feeling amazing after each meal. Goodbye muffins and steak tartare. Hello … rice noodles, lentils and tofu!

For breakfasts I will normally order gluten free toast with avocado, with a soy, decaf, half-strength latte. Or a soy chai tea. Or almond milk chai tea if I’m really lucky. Most places have GF bread and avocado. Some GF breads do annoyingly have egg in them, and some soy milk has gluten in it. Woe. I pay attention to this and know all the local menus in my area. Sometimes I will shrug and just eat the tiny bit of egg in my bread, no tears or tantrums necessary, but probably not more than once a week. ($15-$20)

There is a sensational vegan burger joint in my city where I can sit down to a gorgeous bun-less open burger once a week and bliss out. ($15)

I also have two favourite Vietnamese restaurants where I order the vegetarian singapore noodles and the tofu rice paper rolls. ($18 for two people)

When I go out for Chinese, I have the green beans and fried tofu. Not all that very healthy, but it’s nice to live a little dangerously ($25 for two)

When eating with friends, I usually suggest we go out for Indian, and I usually order the dhal and rice ($15 for one)

I also regularly get takeaway dhal and rice from my local Indian takeaway: the owners are old friends and I know that they are careful with their ingredients. ($6.50)

I also love eating at Krishna consciousness restaurants. We have Govinda’s and Vegerama in my city, where I am free to go a little crazy. I let myself have some halwa or peach crumble from time to time as a treat: not gluten free strictly, but I can handle a little bit from time to time. ($10-$15)

Finally, there’s a delicious Italian restaurant in my city with great GF pasta. I love to order a tomato based or other vegetable based sauce to go on top of it. Perfecto.

Things I can’t eat any more?

Spanish food is hard, with all the meat and cheese, but I don’t miss it. Pizza is a *no*, although sometimes I get one on a GF base, vegetarian, with a 1/4 cheese. I really don’t want all that cheese in my stomach anyway, but just a little taste allows me to enjoy one of life’s simplest pleasures for the evening. But I’m not eating pizza very often: the strange thing is that the healthier I eat, the less interest I have in pizza and cheese and meat. I don’t find myself really enjoying these foods like I used to. It’s really odd. I’ve become one of those insufferable people who prefers vegetables.

My 9 go-to vegan recipes

I take these recipes a bit for granted, but they do get a lot of compliments. Play around with them and make them your own.

Don’t hold back on Himalayan salt. If you have problems with anemia, get a cast iron pan to cook in.

Rice toast with salted ABC butter

I buy a great GF sourdough bread from Sol Bread and I can’t live without it. It takes two sessions in the toaster to get brown but it worth the wait. I top it with almond, brazil nut and cashew butter (ABC butter), and then add my own sprinkling of Himalayan salt. This might actually be my favourite meal.

Rice and coconut cream porridge with maple syrup

Take some white basmati rice and mill it in the Vitamix or spice grinder until it becomes a powder. Place a few tablespoons in a saucepan with cold water, and boil for about 3-5 minutes until the water is absorbed and the rice doesn’t taste grainy. Add a tablespoon of coconut cream and maybe some coconut oil or MCT oil. For sweetener, a teaspoon or two of stevia is perfect. Pour the porridge into a wide flat bowl so it can cool and pour on some maple or rice malt syrup or raw honey. My second favourite meal.

Dosa flat breads with avocado and lemon

Dosas are a bit funny to make at first, but they are worth learning how to perfect because they are a symphony is deliciousness and nutritiousness. Soak some white basmati rice with an equal quantity of un-sprouted dried mung beans / mung dhal. Leave to soak at room temperature for about 24 hours, or until the water is absorbed or seems to have bubbles in it. They rice and beans need to ferment a bit so that the dosas rice and stick together. Rice the beans and rice and add to a blender with some water – not too much, just enough to cover them. Puree into a smooth paste. A Vitamix or similar is perfect. For extra flavour, add some salt, garam masala spice and / or garlic. When the batter is pureed, grease a pan with coconut oil or ghee. Pour the batter into the pan and experiment with size. I like small dosas because they are crispier. Use the egg flip to spread the batter out further so they aren’t too thick. Cover the pan and let them brown on each side for about three to five minutes. When cooked, serve them on a plate topoed with mashed avocado, salt and lemon.

Pumpkin dhal and rice

Soak a cup of dried mung dhal beans overnight. The next day, cut up a whole pumpkin, complete with seeds and skin, and roast in the oven for an hour. Meanwhile, add a tablespoon of coconut oil to a large fry pan. In the oil, brown a tablespoon of mustard seeds. Put a lid on the pan to stop them from going everywhere, please! Then, add a tablespoon of garam masala and ground cumin with a teaspoon of turmeric. Add some water to form a paste, letting the spices release their aromas and allowing the flavours to develop. Add the soaked mung beans to the spice paste and coat them the spices for a minute. After they are coated and have absorbed some of the flavour, add two cups of water to the pan. Bring to the boil and then let the whole thing simmer for about forty minutes. In the meantime, remove the pumpkin from the oven and puree in a Vitamix blender with some water, creating a thick “soup”. When the mung dhal is cooked, having absorbed most of the boiled water, add the pumpkin puree to the pan and let it simmer down to a thick curry. Season with Himalayan salt, and then serve with white basmati rice and perhaps a dosa on the side.

Curried vegetables

Chop up 750 grams of vegetables and set aside. I prefer zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant or green beans. Next, heat a large fry pan and add a tablespoon of coconut oil. Add a tablespoon mustard seeds and brown, covering the pan so they don’t make a mess. Next, add a tablespoon of garam masala and another one of ground cumin. Add some water to form a paste and let the spices release their aromas. To the spices, then add the chopped vegetables, coating them in the spices for about a minute or two. After then, add two cups of water, and cover, bringing to the boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about ten minutes or until cooked. Season with Himalayan salt, and then serve with white basmati rice and perhaps a dosa on the side.

Cauliflower au gratin

Pre-heat an oven to 350/180 degrees. Roughly chop up a cauliflower into small pieces (one for two people, two for four people) and arrange in a baking dish. Puree a 400ml/12oz can of coconut cream with 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast. Cover the cauliflower with the puree and season with salt. Place a lid on the baking dish – preferably glass – and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Remove the cover and grill the top for the final 5 minutes. Season with salt and enjoy as the ultimate comfort food.

Curried coconut red beans

Soak 500 grams of dry red beans overnight in a large dish of water. The next day, heat a large fry pan and add a tablespoon of coconut oil. Add a tablespoon mustard seeds and brown, covering the pan so they don’t make a mess. Next, add a tablespoon of garam masala and another one of ground cumin. Add some water to form a paste and let the spices release their aromas. To the spices, then add the red beans. Coat them in spices for a minute, then add three cups of water. Boil for about 50 minutes or until soft. Add more water if necessary. When the beans are soft, add a cup of dried coconut. Season with Himalayan salt – these beans need a lot, don’t be scared – and then serve with white basmati rice and perhaps a dosa on the side.

Dosas with eggplant baba ganoush

Make some dosas as per the recipe above. For the baba ganoush, roast two large eggplants whole in a 350/180 degree oven drizzled with olive oil for about 45 minutes or until they get crispy and dark golden brown. They should be soft on the inside. Remove from the over and then let them cool for an hour. Remove the outer skin, then add the insides to a blender or food processor or Vitamix. Add a teaspoon of garlic with a tablespoon of tahini, plus two tablespoons of lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth and then serve with the dosas, along with some parsley and some drizzled olive oil.

Raw organic carrots

Wash and eat. If you’re the next Steve Jobs this might be the only recipe you need to learn. Otherwise one or two a day is perfect. Ladies and gents, they absorb excess oestrogen from the body which is the key to avoiding PMT and acne and migraines, etc (dudes be worrying about  oestrogen in these toxic climes). Try it and see for yourself. Plus they make the ultimate convenience snack food. (Organic is critical with carrots: they absorb pesticides in soil like you would not believe.)

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So now you know all my secrets. Don’t let them go to waste! I invite you to try eating like this for five days and see how you feel for yourself. Just don’t get too intense about it.

Image by by Eduardo Rezende for Vogue Brazil

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I’d sworn off cleanses. And yet here I am. Cleansing. For 30 days and 30 nights. It started January 11. So far it’s been the easiest cleanse ever.

Why this change of heart? Why is it suddenly so easy? Perhaps it’s because I really, really, really crave this rebalancing. I need, more than anything in the world, new vitality and a new beginning for my energy vibration. On a superficial level this is a way of celebrating my turning 30 last week; but in truth I simply can’t imagine not doing this right now. I am profoundly in need of a healing, a clearing, a rebalancing. The stage needs to be set for a new horizon of possibilities, and at this time in my life I’m no stranger to the hard work required to effect grand change.

I don’t know when I had the idea for this cleanse. Like all the best ideas it seemed to come almost fully formed into my head. It was decided before I could even think about it. The implementation has thus been shockingly effortless.

I’ve even had a kick-along from my dear friend. He organised a Yagya as a birthday gift, which is probably the best present I’ve ever had. What is a Yagya? Well, let’s just say that somewhere in north India there’s an ashram of monks that have been chanting for me for days. They’re burning a fire, making offerings, and saying prayers. They even have a Facebook page! I can feel it from here. The energy is stirring up of psychic matter and fatigue. Need I say I’ve spent much of the past few days horizontal. Here are some of the pandits taking a break from their chanting.

Adorable? Absolutely!

So, what are the nuts and bolts of my cleanse routine?

– A vegan, gluten free, Ayurvedic diet, with lots of fruit, coconut cream, lentils, cooked vegetables, soaked nuts and rice. The Vitamix is getting a flogging. Lots of mango and bananas are being pureed. It’s lush.

– No alcohol

– No sex

– No thinking about sex*

– Big sleeps and big naps

– Morning dry brushing, followed by a coconut oil self-abhyangha

– TM

– Water, water, water

– Lemon water, lemon water, lemon water

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What’s odd about this cleanse is that it feels so right for me that I haven’t given a thought to any other options at this time. If I want to eat out, I can go Indian and order dhal and rice. The local Krishna restaurants are a godsend. This is not so much a cleanse as how I would ideally be eating and living.

You know it’s right when it’s this effortless. But health and weight loss and happiness are never really about food, exercise and smiling, are they? Things happen when we aren’t afraid of the change they will make. Of course there’s a profound emotional element to the cleanse.

This morning I was listening to Cheryl Richardson talk with her sister Kerri Richardson on her weekly radio show. They were talking about how we don’t make changes because we are afraid of not being able to keep using our old excuses. When we step up, there will be nothing to keep us locked up in our old layers of denial and protection. I know that if my health was balanced I’d have less excuses for not making the art I need to be making. I’d have no excuses for not sharing my work and promoting myself. I’d finally be “ready”. It doesn’t matter how successful or together you are: if Cheryl Richardson can see this fear in herself, no doubt it’s there for all of us.

A cleanse brings up confronting emotions. Somehow I feel practiced and equipped and willing and able to feel each emotion fully. I can greet it, embrace it, distil its wisdom as a gift and then let it go. Amen.

To new beginnings!

{It turns out there is a soundtrack, and it’s this album}

My new Myoprator Simon informed me this morning that I don’t know how to stand properly. This came as a shock. I’d always been praised for my posture. Well, perhaps not so recently, I will admit.

I went to Simon with one of my famed full-body headaches. I get these every few months. My usual myopractor adjusts me, fixes me, and sends me off to do my worst. I decided to pay a visit this time to Simon. At the end of the session, he wanted to teach me how to stand.

“You don’t know how to stand properly,” he told me. “You’re going to have to re-learn.”

This sounded impossible. I thought I was a good stander.

“Lean against the wall. Feet hip width apart. Now turn your feet inwards. More. More. More.”

Only when I look tragically pigeon-toed is he satisfied. This is sacrilege to a former ballerina.

“Your feet should be directed straight ahead. Not outwards.” He draws a dotted line on my feet to make the point.

“Your knees are too far inwards. You need to raise them slightly and turn them outwards.”

Ridiculous. I do it. I’m sure I look crazed. It feels very odd. But the mirror shows me that my hamstrings are finally in their right place.

And it feels less strange by the minute.

So this is how I’m supposed to be standing.

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“Practice against a wall. A minute at a time. And while you go about your day.”

I don’t expect I’ll remember to practice, but as soon as he’s shown me how to stand I find myself wanting to stand that way. As much as possible.

It’s not something I’d given much thought to: standing up straight sounds like just another harassment from some senior nit-picker. But forget the nagging parents and teachers: standing properly aligns your whole body, your of flow of energy and the positioning of your organs. This is important stuff. Given that sitting is being touted as the new smoking, learning to stand properly takes on a new urgency.

Apparently it starts in the feet.

No doubt it’s my lousy standing which has in part been causing my headaches. It all makes sense: hamstrings putting my hips out of alignment; which pulls my core muscles out, which transfers up into my shoulders and head. I’m one dead lift away from crippling myself.

 

The body learns quickly. I realised after a few minutes that it wouldn’t be as hard as I thought. If you’re having muscular problems, it might be that you just need someone to analyse your standing and sitting positions, and to help you realise that adjusting your technique isn’t as boring or impossible as you might have thought.

I can get tired throughout the day if I’m not careful, and if I didn’t have a bag of tricks to get my own back I’d be napping all day long. Sure, a nap can be nice, but I don’t like to spend too much of my day horizontal. Here are my fool-proof waker-uppers.

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1. DRINK A GLASS OR TWENTY OF WATER

I once read that tiredness can be caused by dehydration. There’s talk that too much water drinking puts a strain on the body, but for some reason I get very easily dehydrated and veritably wilt if I don’t drink at least 3 litres a day. Now when I’m tired, I take it as a sign that I need to hit the aqua hard. It really works. Next time you get tired, down two glasses of water. Sip a litre of water in the following hour. Experiment with drinking a lot more water during the day and see how you feel. You might be shocked. Try doubling your water intake for a week as an experiment and see how you feel: decide what’s right for you with your own experiments. You can also try coconut water and fresh celery juice for extra hydration.

2. JUMP IN A COLD POOL/SHOWER

God bless the power of a cold shower. As a Vata/Pitta, there’s nothing like a cool shower to soothe my nerves and make me feel rested and alert. You’ll come out awake, refreshed and ready to take on the world again.

3. EXERCISE (OMG YES!)

This is the last thing you’ll feel like doing, but don’t be fooled: exercise is more energising than it is exhausting. Just ten minutes and you’ll feel brand new. Grow up, jump up and do it. Why not pump some weights for ten minutes to some loud music? (Try Free’s Alright Now, Gladys Knight’s I’ve Got To Use My Imagination topped of with some Crunchy Granola Suite.) Push up or chin ups? Flow through a set of yoga asanas? Heck, just dance it out. The hardest part is getting up off your derrière. Try it and see.

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4. I’m bored.

Tiredness doesn’t happen to people who aren’t bored. Let’s be honest. If you’re getting bored, reconnect to what excites you. Transform what you’re doing into something that is vital, alive and real for you in the present moment. It’s stronger than caffeine. Ultimately, inspiration trumps all else.

Any tips for keeping awake without chemical help? Please share!

IMAGES: SLIM AARONS

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At midnight I woke up reeling with pain. Food poisoning. How could this have happened? For the next seven hours managed to catch snatches of sleep between visits to the bathroom. We all know what that’s like.

The pain was enough to bear, along with the sleepless tossing and turning, but harder still was the disappointment of knowing that Friday would be a write-off. I had so many plans! So much to look forward to! And instead I would be an inert, squirming blob.

In 2007 I found myself getting one flu after the other. It seemed like I was ill more often than I wasn’t. At a certain point – I don’t know who or what inspired me – I decided something rather counter-intuition, unusual and perhaps controversial: that I would actively chose to enjoy my illness. Not the pain, but its other hidden benefits. Really I had no choice: I was at the end of my whits and couldn’t bare another day squirming in bed, hating on myself and the world for conspiring against my best plans. I resolved that I would find the hidden blessing in being bed ridden and “unproductive”. And I did.

I was astounded at what happened. I didn’t stop getting ill – not immediately – but I did start taking each episode of the flu as an opportunity to consider some very important, burning issues in my life at that time. In hindsight I needed this time for rest and reflection desperately, and simply didn’t realise it.

When I decided to find value in my illness, I did find that value. A stroke of genius.

The advantages of stopping and pausing?

– I could rest my brain and body, properly – in ways I never manage to really rest on weekends

– I could peacefully and with detachment take a look at my direction and consider what was really important: what do I really want in my life?

– I could stop taking my health for granted: I would get a new start and opportunity to reset with healthier eating and sleep habits

It took me until 5 a.m this morning to remember this less: that I was allowed to enjoy being sick and the gifts it brings. The thought filled me with peace, and I drifted to sleep within a few minutes.

I’m up and awake now. Other than write this article, what did I do today?

– I lay out on the sofa and watched TELEVISION! I’m not a TV watcher, but I can’t remember being this relaxed. And I actually learned a few things. It felt good to let myself be a passive observer for a change, rather than doing, doing, doing.

– I took naps

– I thought about what I wanted to really do next with my work and I reflected on certain issues that I’m facing: not in an active manner, but simply observing myself and my feelings without a time limit.

The outcome?

– I have a head start on the weekend – I continually fail at taking time off on weekends, so this is good news!

– And I made a few important decisions about priorities going forward..

This might sounds dramatic, but when you’re really sick, you get a tiny taste of what I might to like to be REALLY sick: terminally ill and on your last legs. This helps us to get clear about what we really want if and when we get well again. With each day that comes in the future, we realise that we get a second chance in a way so many others will not.

I think that our soul sends us illness as a gift: as part of its mysterious workings. It wants us to learn how to be empowered by everything: not just those things that come wrapped in red ribbons. The secret, as always, that we move out of our Ego’s desire to judge and control, and into the intention to learn about love: something that comes straight from our soul. We can tap into this intention any time we want, after all.

Have you found an illness or similar set back to be – with hindsight – your greatest teacher? Are you scared of embracing illness, because it might look or feel like you are encouraging,supporting or condoning it? Is that helpful?

Image via Retronaut.

City life is creatively stimulating and helps us to feel connected with our tribes. But it can leave us wanting for depth in traditions and something more wholesome.

Can we find a balance between the best of both worlds?

In her article for Wellness Warrior, Amber Le Strange suggests that you don’t need to be over 6o to find pleasure in rising and setting with the sun, composting, spending time out in the garden at one with nature, and saying grace before meals.

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For some wholesome inspiration: read the post here.

5 Ways To Live Like A Farmer In The City

Speaking of wholesomeness, I’ve noticed a trend rising amongst young women for re-embracing the traditions of our grandmothers: putting “good, solid food” on the table. Whether it’s Paleo, organic ‘meats and three vegetables’, or vegan, wellness-supporting peasant food, the intention is increasingly to nourish rather than punish. It’s not just a passing fad: we’re growing some of our food where we can, collecting and sharing recipes and taking up hand crafts. Young women also seem to be turning to each other more for health and wellness support in ways that were usually reserved for new mothers. Wellness is becoming a point of bonding between women, and it’s exciting.

It’s encouraging to remember that the more we nurture ourselves, the more support we can offer to the world around us.

Perhaps next I’ll be quoting to your from the CWA cookbook?

Do you crave some more traditions in your life? Could you find women’s or men’s groups that share your common interests, and connect with them for support?

Ayurveda has taught me a lot about keeping my body nourished and vital. Ayurveda empowers us by promoting the health of our other “brain” – our digestive system.

For a beginner it can seem a bit complicated, but actually it’s just a system of practical tools.

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Want to get started? Why don’t you try …

1. Dry brushing

Take your “dry” brush (I use one like this from Body Shop. Then, brush your limbs with the bristles in long strokes. Don’t be scared, it actually feels good. Try to brush in strokes towards your heart.

What does brushing do? It moves your lymph around. Our lymphatic system has no heart to pump our lymph around. It relies on exercise and movement to circulate. Dry brushing feels incredible relaxing and energising at the same time: just how Ayurveda should.

2. Oil your body

In Ayurveda, massaging your body generously with oil is called Abhyanga. Deepak Chopra calls the process of DIY Abhyanga “self Abhy”, and recommends we oil massage every day.

Try it: first take some organic oil like coconut or sesame and massage it into your skin after dry brushing. Use circular motions. Completely cover your body and face with the oil.

What does this do? As you know, your skin is your body’s largest organ. The oil penetrates the dermis and makes it easier for our body to release toxins, while protecting and nourishing our natural barrier. It’s amazing how balanced you feel from regular oil massaging. Personally, I love to do this before I shower – the oil protects my skin from the heat and dehydration of the water, and the shower steam opens my pores up to accept the oil more readily.

If you’re a chemist, you’ll be aware that oil actually dissolves oil: detergents are made from petroleum oils for a reason. Nothing cleans and nourishes our bodies so well as oil.

3. Oil pulling

Wait … the oiling up doesn’t end there! Take a teaspoon of oil in your mouth and swish it around for up to 20 minutes. Do this first thing in the morning, before you eat or brush your teeth. The oil dissolves plaque and leaves your teeth very clean. Like, very clean. You won’t believe it. It also whitens your teeth (yay!)

The oil detoxes you from your mouth, a bit like foot patches that detox you from your feet.

Be sure not to swallow any oil. Dispose of it carefully by spitting the old oil out into a small plastic bag (I find freezer bags are convenient). Be sure to “pull” for at least five minutes, aiming for 2o if you can.

Don’t worry if you only can do these things once a week: that’s much better than never at all. Think of it like exercising: a good workout once a week makes a huge different as compared to no workout at all.

4. Don’t eat or drink anything ice cold

Our body struggles to digest very cold things. Toxins in Ayurveda are stored throughout our body because of bad digestion (in the form of undigested food/mucous. Yuk). Be sure not to throw ice onto the fire if you want to keep your digestion strong. Avoid iced drinks and ice cream that is freezing cold.

5. Don’t eat sweets after a meal, or with a meal

Food combining matters for digestion. Sugars and fruits are difficult to digest after a meal. The best time to eat a sweet treat? Mid-afternoon: when our lunch has been fully digested. Coffee and cake mid-afternoon is actually easy to digest, and not such a bad idea after all.

Try one or more of these techniques and see what they do for you.

Or perhaps you have your own favourite Ayurvedic ritual? Please, share it below!

Image via Sukhavati Spa Bali

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In her latest article for MindBodyGreen, yoga teacher/blogger Oneika Mays downsizes her spending and fills her basket with vegetables, brown rice, pulses and grains. It’s an empowering idea: clean and healthy weekly grocery shopping for under $40 a person.

How I Ate Healthy On Less Than $5 A Day

Could you plan more carefully and eat better, for less?

Sure, it takes planning. But this is a brilliant way of testing high-nutrition Veganism for a week, or making a one week detox affortable. No doubt the grains could be substituted with the less popular cuts of organic meat, stewed with the vegetables, for the Paleo alternative.

Just don’t scrimp on the Himalayan salt, coconut oil and fresh spices. Flavour and good fats are critical to not dying of boredom/malnourishment.

What do you think? Could you eat this way for a week? Do you already?

Is it liberating to keep your food budget under control like this? Do you think there’s a cookbook in this idea?

(image via Kelly Wearstler).

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There is a lot of rhetoric that we need to work out every day, perhaps for two hours, even. Perhaps twice. You can get great results, sure. I’ve done it. But is it possible to get great results from just three workouts a week? Absolutely … provided we chose the right workouts.

The good news is that your “laziness” can be beneficial: you don’t burn out, and your muscles have time to properly recover. What’s more, a non-punishing routine can me a lot more physically and psychologically sustainable.

Unless you’re taking steroids, which gives you muscle recovery time of hours instead of days, you need to rest your muscles to let them grow. Longer rests can be even better than shorter ones. You body is ready to grow again, and you don’t get into a rut.

What combination do I suggest to get the most out of those three workouts?

– One weekly one hour session of hard weights training

– One weekly one hour session of yoga, and

– One weekly twenty-minute weekly session of interval training.

How do you make this program work for you?

Weekly Exercise One: a session of hard-weights training

If your weight-training session is intense and focused, you actually only need to do it once a week. Many people report they get better results from weekly hard weight workouts than from smaller, more regular weight training sessions. This is often experienced by people who can only afford one personal training session a week. A personal trainer does become very handy here: the get the intensity needed, having a spotter and egger-on can be priceless.

I love weigh training personally. For some reason, weights yield far greater results on the physique than anything else. I noticed this in my late teens: a month of cardio would have a small impact, a month of weight training would leave me looking incredible. How could that be: all those women slaving on the stair machines couldn’t be wrong, could they?

Weight-training does need to be supported by the right diet, too. Protein, over-workout. The bad/good news is that the chances of a women getting big muscles from doing weights – even many times a week – is surprisingly slim. You’d have to be really trying – most women who have big arms and legs work VERY hard for them. It won’t happen by accident, so don’t worry about having anything more defined pronounced than “Michelle Obama” arms – if you’re lucky. What weights do is that they keep the muscles firm and engaged, rather than shrivelled, sagging and deflated.

Within the hour, you can work most muscle groups. You will be tired, so time this for when you have have a decent recovery meal.

Weekly Exercise Two: a Yoga class

You want flexibility. You want to engage the small muscles. You want to deeply oxygenate your muscles. You want to keep good alignment, posture and a strong core. You want to increase your circulation, and support your lymphatic system. You want to breath deeply, and connect to your spiritual core. Yoga is essential. In terms of health and youthfulness benefits, we’re crazy not to do yoga at least once a week. You could get away with some yoga every day, but once a week gives you greatest bang for your buck.

Weekly Exercise Three: twenty minutes of Interval Training

Dr Mercola created a cardio interval training technique called Peak 8 and it’s brilliant – just what you’d expect from him. Three minutes warm up, then eight sets of cardio and recovery. It’s just 30 seconds of full intensity cardio, then 90 seconds to recover. The result: you just yourself much harder in those eight lots of 30 seconds than you ever could otherwise. You heart rate gets higher, for longer, and stays higher afterwards. You get much fitter, in less time. This is the most efficient and affective way to develop cardiovascular fitness that I’ve seen. And it only requires twenty minutes a week. Mercola recommends twice a week max. I think once a week is better. You can interval train either on a stationary bike or elliptical trainer. I strongly prefer the elliptical trainer myself, because it’s more comfortable. Annoyingly enough it’s hard to interval train without this equipment.

Final thoughts

Keep in mind that longer and more frequent is not always better. Picking the right exercises, doing them in a focused and intense way, and recovering properly between them can, in fact, yield far greater results. If you have a gym membership, look for somewhere with a personal trainer you can book in once a week, a yoga class you can commit to once a week, and an elliptical machine you can hit once a week. Balanced, efficient and achievable in a way daily or twice daily exercising could never be.

Image: by American Apparel

Butter Factory Australia http://www.thebutterfactory.com.au/

Via Butter Factory, Australia. Nice packaging, guys.

Grass-fed organic butter is huge right now. Who knew? Sure, I break the rules and slather my meats, grains and vegetables in the stuff. Blame my Scandinavian heritage. My father, the Dane, covers his bread with a layer of butter as thick as cheese. It looks equally delicious and subversive. He’s slim, healthy and relatively robust. So am I. What’s the story?

Not everyone enjoys butter or likes what how it makes them feel. No food is equally good for everyone: my obvious but oft-overlooked caveat.

I started to rethink butter because of Dr Mercola. I’m a “protein type” and for years he’s recommended that I add raw butter to my daily green juices. Wow! A bridge too far. Why pollute green juice with globs of animal-derived fat? I’m open to basically anything, but butter the prejudice runs deep.

And it wasn’t just Mercola. In Ayurveda, ghee equals gold. Everything should be slathered in it for a Vata-Pitta type like me. I could never really figure it out. There had to be something important to all this butter business.

And then the penny dropped finally. Last month I discovered The Bulletproof Exec. Its creator and followers swear by a daily dose 50-150 grams of raw, grass-feed cow’s butter. Improved performance and brain functioning are the result. At last you have my attention.

Why on earth would people chose to eat so much butter?

Apart from the taste, that is?

It turns out that butter is nutritionally very dense. It’s a highly rich source of vitamins A, E, D, and K2, and is also a concentrated source of trace minerals, fatty acids and CLA. Grass-fed, unpasteurized butter is a powerhouse, most easily sourced from wet countries such as Ireland, New Zealand and Australia’s Tasmania (where grass is cheaper than grain). The grass fed factor is more critical than the unpasteurized but: only here in France is unpasteurized butter considered a delicacy, an imperative, not to mention legal: thus it is more commercially available. Trust the French.

Less about me: what does Dr Mercola have to say?

A direct quote?

“The unfortunate result of the low-fat diet craze has been the shunning of healthful fats such as butter, and public health has declined as a result of this folly. Good-old-fashioned butter, when made from grass-fed cows, is a rich in a substance called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is not only known to help fight cancer and diabetes, it may even help you to lose weight, which cannot be said for its trans-fat substitutes. Much of the reason why butter was, and continues to be, vilified is because it contains saturated fat. If you’re still in the mindset that saturated fat is harmful for your health, then please read this past article to learn why saturated fat is actually good for you. In fact, by now many have realized that it’s the trans fat found in margarine, vegetable shortening, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that is the true villain, causing far more significant health problems than saturated fat ever could.”

You can read the whole article here, one of several on the point.

What is the best way to eat more butter?

Personally I think it’s clever to leverage this butter affair as a way to eat more vegetables.  Why not do something less contentious and increase your vegetable consumption while you’re at it? Think broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini finished with a nice tablespoon of butter. I’d go for that three times a day, personally. And don’t forget the Himalayan salt, herbs and spices. Fats make vegetables so much tastier and easier to digest, and make it easier to assimilate nutrients. And you can also add a round of butter to the top of your steaks or meats, French style. Delicious! There are no rules against making garlic and herb butters either.

Dave Asprey from The Bulletproof Exec is all about adding butter to his “bulletproof coffee”. He recommends melting it into black coffee a few times a day – a great breakfast replacement, apparently. I’m not quite there yet, not being a coffee fiend, but it might be a next step. Let’s just see. It certainly sounds interesting.

Butter baking is delicious too: whip up some butter cream with butter, stevia, xylitol and vanilla, and slather it over your delicious grain-free coconut flour cupcakes or pumpkin scones. And some sugar free, grain free butter shortbread would go down a treat right now.

Which butters are best?

Non-organic butter has the highest pesticide load of any non-organic foods. Dr Mercola therefore recommends we make our butter organic before any other food. Organic is critical, it seems.

For supermarket convenience, Irish butter Kerry Gold is a popular choice. Do investigate the French, New Zealand, Irish and Tasmanian butters available where you shop. Are they yellow in colour? Are they organic? Do they mention anything about being from grass fed cows (usually butter from these areas is, but check). If you can find unpasteurized ?

You can Google “raw grass fed butter” for your state or country, and see which farmers will sell to you directly.

How does it compare with coconut oil?

Butter and coconut oil have different nutritional profiles. Coconut oil contains Lauric acid and MCTs – butter contains different fatty acids altogether. Use both – it’s not a case of either/or.

Try it and see for yourself

Ease yourself onto more butter. Use it as an excuse to eat more vegetables now that you have an excuse to slather them with a chunks of yellow gold (don’t forget the Himalayan salt!) See if it suits you, and let me know in your comments below.

“It is just this ability to stand alone, and not feel guilty or harassed about it, of which the average person is incapable.”

– Henry Miller

American-Apparel-Performance-Sportwear

I don’t find exercise all that relaxing, personally. The huffing, sweating and mind-numbing endlessness of it really isn’t for me, at least not without a little romance involved. It’s sheer boringness is a source of stress. Time to try a different approach?

Forced to restrict something to five minutes, however, we can do anything. Efficiency becomes key. We transform into a dervish of effectiveness. Only five minutes to clean your house before your mother arrives? We become Biblical in our domestic miracle-working. Parkinson’s Law is real. It’s enough to make a meaningful impact without depleting your energy or focus. Applied regularly enough, that five minutes accumulates into something powerful and painless.

But a five minute limit is something that we might need for other reasons too. As a perfectionist, I suffer from the urge to apply paralysingly large time expansion plans on everything. A weekly yoga class becomes something I start thinking I should do twice a day. Nothing is ever enough. Burdened by my imperative, I then do the sensible thing and stop altogether. Life becomes a punishment, and I want out. It’s a pattern. I thought this was just me, but then I read “Feeling Good” by Dr David Burns. To save himself, he started doing the opposite of what his perfectionist-self wanted. When he felt the predictable urge to go for longer runs each day, he’d deliberately make sure he set a goal to run for less. Burn out, fatigue and lack of continued motivation could thus be avoided.

It was in this spirit that I shaved my 20 minutes twice meditation regime to just five minutes each time. Why? Because I wasn’t actually doing it. Twenty-minutes is too much of a commitment. Every passing minute is critical to deeper healing and relaxation, I can appreciate, and twenty is the “right” amount. I also know myself and that five minutes is the most I can commit to with any consistency. Being a maths genius I can see that five minutes twice a day is much more powerful than twenty minutes, zero times a day. Knows thy limits, someone said. And follow your bliss while you’re at it. Just as Hemingway recommended that writers stop while they’re still having fun, so too do I stop meditating while its still fun. I need something to look forward to.

Which brings me to exercise. I’m naturally slim, and exercise can seem a bit yuck, boring and long. And exhausting. My inner idealist dreams of soul cycling and cross-fitting, but I’m a francophile, and tend to think of exercise as being, at least for me, a rather inelegant solution. Not exercising will of course lead me into a frail body and will diminish my vitality. It’s critical to do some high-potency, clever exercising. My solution? Five minutes a day.

And as we all well know, many exercise regimes are ineffective and inefficient. I spend a few years in my early twenties intimately entwined with an elliptical trainer to little effect. Not so my new approach, which is highly effective and devilishly miniscule. My three exercises of choice? A sun salutation, 50 push ups, and 50 squats.

1. Let’s start with a yoga sun salutation

This is a sensational way to warm up and engage the body. One or two of these in themselves deserve the respect of daily practise.

2. Now time for The Classic Push Up!

Push ups are the classic exercise move for a reason. They get results, very efficiently, by engaging most of the upper body muscles in a simple up-down press motion. A personal trainer once told me that most of our muscle building needs are met by push ups and chin ups alone (we were in a gym at the time; I instantly thought about cancelling my membership). I need an equal number of leg exercises, personally, but the point stands. For two minutes each day I do as many pushups as I can: either on an incline, on my knees, or in the full-on classic style. I can manage anywhere up to 50 for now. Give it another month of two and I’ll be at 100.

3. Old-fashioned Squats

The humble squat is intense, for sure, but when you only have to do 30 to 50, they don’t seem so horrific. Like push ups, personal trainers love them for a reason: results. Great legs and bottoms. Trust me. Push out your 50 squats and relax, the five minutes is over. Most likely you’re bouncing off the walls and feeling great.

Want to break up the routine?

We can swap 2. and 3. with kettle bell swings, or series of leg exercises, or perhaps spend the full five minutes in yoga poses. The body needs surprises and so do I. The main point, I’ve found, is that I show up for this 5 minutes, every day.

Afterwards? I feel like a new person. Incredible. Energised. Ready to start my day. And I can do it without messing up my hair. Priorities, priorities.

Some people are not very suited to long slogs of hard exercise. And just like with meditation, five minutes, twice a day is far more powerful than twenty-minutes, zero times a day. It seems that being realistic is sometimes the most profound thing we can be.

Image: by American Apparel

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What the hell is Weston A. Price? I wondered this for a while without investigating further. I already had food protocols to last me a lifetime. I knew it sounded worthy, mostly from who referenced it in their books and blogs. Louise Hay is a follower; so too is Sarah Wilson.

Want a two minute snapshot? I summarised the three main concepts for a quick primer. (Thank you, Weston A. Price website). This is not to be missed for serious healthy eaters.

1. Weston A. Price was a dentist who, in the 1930s, travelled the world looking for the people with the best dental health. He discovered crowded and crooked teeth were a result of nutritional deficiencies. “Wherever he went, Dr. Price found that beautiful straight teeth, freedom from decay, good physiques, resistance to disease and fine characters were typical of native groups on their traditional diets, rich in essential nutrients.”

2. Price also found that these people were eating diets that were much more nutritionally dense. “When Dr. Price analyzed the foods used by isolated peoples he found that, in comparison to the American diet of his day, they provided at least four times the water-soluble vitamins, calcium and other minerals, and at least TEN times the fat-soluble vitamins, from animal foods such as butter, fish eggs, shellfish, organ meats, eggs and animal fats–the very cholesterol-rich foods now shunned by the American public as unhealthful.”

3. Importantly, their diets excluded processed foods such as sugar, white flour, pasteurised milk and vegetable oils. “The isolated people Price photographed–with their fine bodies, ease of reproduction, emotional stability and freedom from degenerative ills–stand forth in sharp contrast to civilized moderns subsisting on the “displacing foods of modern commerce,” including sugar, white flour, pasteurized milk, lowfat foods, vegetable oils and convenience items filled with extenders and additives.”

So. people who eat nutrient rich diets are healthier. Who knew?

Importantly, what are the characteristics of these traditional diets so we can try it at home? (Words taken from the Weston A. Price website).

  • The diets of healthy, nonindustrialized peoples contain no refined or denatured foods or ingredients, such as refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup; white flour; canned foods; pasteurized, homogenized, skim or lowfat milk; refined or hydrogenated vegetable oils; protein powders; artificial vitamins; or toxic additives and colorings.
  • All traditional cultures consume some sort of animal food, such as fish and shellfish; land and water fowl; land and sea mammals; eggs; milk and milk products; reptiles; and insects. The whole animal is consumed­–muscle meat, organs, bones and fat, with the organ meats and fats preferred.
  • The diets of healthy, nonindustrialized peoples contain at least four times the minerals and water-soluble vitamins, and TEN times the fat-soluble vitamins found in animal fats (vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin K2–Price’s “Activator X”) as the average American diet.
  • All traditional cultures cooked some of their food but all consumed a portion of their animal foods raw.
  • Primitive and traditional diets have a high content of food enzymes and beneficial bacteria from lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages, dairy products, meats and condiments.
  • Seeds, grains and nuts are soaked, sprouted, fermented or naturally leavened to neutralize naturally occurring anti-nutrients such as enzyme inhibitors, tannins and phytic acid.
  • Total fat content of traditional diets varies from 30 percent to 80 percent of calories but only about 4 percent of calories come from polyunsaturated oils naturally occurring in grains, legumes, nuts, fish, animal fats and vegetables. The balance of fat calories is in the form of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.
  • Traditional diets contain nearly equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
  • All traditional diets contain some salt.
  • All traditional cultures make use of animal bones, usually in the form of gelatin-rich bone broths.
  • Traditional cultures make provisions for the health of future generations by providing special nutrient-rich animal foods for parents-to-be, pregnant women and growing children; by proper spacing of children; and by teaching the principles of right diet to the young.

What eating guidelines/rules does Weston A. Price give us to follow? Eat whole, unprocessed foods.

  • Eat beef, lamb, game, organ meats, poultry and eggs from pasture-fed animals.
  • Eat wild fish (not farm-raised) and shellfish from unpolluted waters.
  • Eat full-fat milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or fermented, such as raw milk, whole yogurt, kefir, cultured butter, whole raw cheeses and fresh and sour cream. (Imported cheeses that say “milk” or “fresh milk” on the label are raw.)
  • Use animal fats, especially butter, liberally.
  • Use traditional vegetable oils only–extra virgin olive oil, expeller-expressed sesame oil, small amounts of expeller-expressed flax oil, and the tropical oils–coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil.
  • Take cod liver oil regularly to provide at least 10,000 IU vitamin A and 1,000 IU vitamin D per day.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables–preferably organic–in salads and soups, or lightly steamed with butter.
  • Use whole grains, legumes and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors and other anti-nutrients.
  • Include enzyme-enhanced lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis.
  • Prepare homemade meat stocks from the bones of chicken, beef, lamb and fish and use liberally in soups, stews, gravies and sauces.
  • Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
  • Use unrefined salt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.
  • Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and a small amount of expeller-expressed flax oil.
  • Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, maple sugar, date sugar, dehydrated cane sugar juice (sold as Rapadura) and stevia powder.
  • Use only unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.
  • Cook only in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.
  • Use only natural, food-based supplements.
  • Get plenty of sleep, exercise and natural light.
  • Think positive thoughts and practice forgiveness.

And what shouldn’t we eat?

  • Do not eat commercially processed foods such as cookies, cakes, crackers, TV dinners, soft drinks, packaged sauce mixes, etc. Read labels!
  • Avoid all refined sweeteners such as sugar, dextrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup and fruit juices.
  • Avoid white flour, white flour products and white rice.
  • Avoid all hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and oils.
  • Avoid all refined liquid vegetable oils made from soy, corn, safflower, canola or cottonseed.
  • Do not use polyunsaturated oils for cooking, sautéing or baking.
  • Avoid foods fried in polyunsaturated oils or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
  • Do not practice veganism. Animal products provide vital nutrients not found in plant foods.
  • Avoid products containing protein powders as they usually contain carcinogens formed during processing; and consumption of protein without the cofactors occurring in nature can lead to deficiencies, especially of vitamin A.
  • Avoid processed, pasteurized milk; do not consume ultrapasteurized milk products, lowfat milk, skim milk, powdered milk or imitation milk products.
  • Avoid factory-farmed eggs, meats and fish.
  • Avoid highly processed luncheon meats and sausage.
  • Avoid rancid and improperly prepared seeds, nuts and grains found in granolas, quick rise breads and extruded breakfast cereals, as they block mineral absorption and cause intestinal distress.
  • Avoid canned, sprayed, waxed and irradiated fruits and vegetables. Avoid genetically modified foods (found in most soy, canola and corn products).
  • Avoid artificial food additives, especially MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and aspartame, which are neurotoxins. Most soups, sauce and broth mixes and most commercial condiments contain MSG, even if not indicated on the label.
  • Individuals sensitive to caffeine and related substances should avoid coffee, tea and chocolate.
  • Avoid aluminum-containing foods such as commercial salt, baking powder and antacids. Do not use aluminum cookware or deodorants containing aluminum.
  • Do not drink fluoridated water.
  • Avoid synthetic vitamins and foods containing them.
  • Avoid distilled liquors.
  • Do not use a microwave oven.

What fats are good to use?

For Cooking

  • Butter
  • Tallow and suet from beef and lamb
  • Lard from pigs
  • Chicken, goose and duck fat
  • Coconut, palm and palm kernel oils

For Salads

  • Extra virgin olive oil (also OK for cooking)
  • Expeller-expressed sesame and peanut oils
  • Expeller-expressed flax oil (in small amounts)

For Fat-Soluble Vitamins

  • Fish liver oils such as cod liver oil (preferable to fish oils, which do not provide fat-soluble vitamins, can cause an overdose of unsaturated fatty acids and usually come from farmed fish.)

And what fats should you avoid? (and thus avoid cancer, heart disease, immune system dysfunction, sterility, learning disabilities, growth problems and osteoporosis)

  • All hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils
  • Industrially processed liquid oils such as soy, corn, safflower, cottonseed and canola
  • Fats and oils (especially vegetable oils) heated to very high temperatures in processing and frying.

This is all highly sensible, and I hope I’ve whet your appetites.

In terms of controversy, raw milk seems to be the greatest source of consternation (read more here).

Let me know: do you follow the Weston A. Price guidelines? How do they work for you?

Image by Photographer Carolina Amoretti –‘Vegetable Totems Project’