Thursday, January 30, 2014

Relieve Stress & Achieve Peace & Health With Zen Meditation

On Tuesday we talked about getting rid of negative thoughts, and how this can improve both your mental and physical health. But one other way that you can achieve this is to practice regular meditation (or prayer, if you prefer). There are many different approaches to meditation. Meditation itself is the practice of awareness. For some that means prayer. For others it means gaining a deeper understanding. It can be a deeper understanding of themselves, the world, or their God. You can practice whatever type of meditation you prefer, but of all the various types of meditation, Zen meditation may be the most popular. It is certainly one of the oldest. It dates all the way back to the seventh century!

The Philosophy

Zen Meditation is primarily designed to help a person gain insight and enlightenment. It is typically not a prayer session, but rather the intent is to seek enlightenment. The goal of each meditation is to come out of it with a deeper understanding - of yourself, the current challenges you’re facing, and the world as a whole.

Zen meditation is based on Buddhist philosophies which seek enlightenment through daily practice, thought, and action.

The Practice

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Zen meditation is a bit structured. Generally you sit on a small pillow on the floor. The pillow is called a zafu. You can also purchase or use a mat underneath your pillow. The mat is called a zabuton.

Zen meditation is practiced while sitting. There are a few acceptable poses you can take. They include:

- Legs crossed – both ankles are under your knees. This is generally the most comfortable position. As with all sitting positions it is important to keep your spine straight. This position is also called Burmese.

- Lotus – in this position the legs are crossed however your ankles and feet are on top of your legs or knees rather than under them. This can be a bit uncomfortable if you’re not used to it. You might start with a half lotus. This position is also called Kekkafuza.

- Half lotus – in this position you’re sitting cross legged. However, one foot is on top of the opposite knee. The other foot is under the opposite knee. This is also called Hankafuza.

- Kneeling – in this position your legs are tucked under you. You’re sitting back on your ankles, feet and calves. This position may be uncomfortable if you have knee strain. This position is also called Seiza.

- Chair – finally, you may sit upright in a chair with your feet planted firmly on the floor and your back straight.

Once you’re seated your hands are generally rest on your lap. They’re open and relaxed. One on top of the other and both open and facing up. Close your eyes and take five to seven deep cleansing breaths. The point of these two steps is to prepare your mind and body for meditation.

Focus On the Breath

The next step in Zen meditation is to focus on your breath. While it sounds simple, it can be tricky. You’ll find your breath begins to change simply because you’re thinking about it. It can begin to feel unnatural. The goal is to become aware of your breath. To simply notice how it fills your nose, fills your body and how it makes you feel. If your breath changes, simply be aware of that. You don’t need to control the breath. Relax into it.

Zen meditation asks then that you count your breaths. This helps you to be aware and focused on it. As you begin focusing on your breath thoughts will come into your mind. The goal is to eventually not have thoughts pop in and out. However, it is natural for them to do so. Don’t judge yourself. Simply allow the thought to pass out of your mind and refocus on your breath.

Initially, it’s recommended that you only try to mediate for five minutes. Once this time period feels natural and comfortable you can begin to extend it. The Zen meditation experience is different for everyone. The peace and clarity you find during mediation will allow awareness and insight to come to you.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How Killing ANTs Can Improve Your Health

We talk a lot about physical health and detoxification here, but what about toxic thoughts, and their effect on your health? Your thoughts have tremendous power. They can inspire fear and prevent you from taking action. They can ruin your day. They can harm relationships. Thoughts can make you self destructive, or even cause you to harm others. But they can also help you achieve your goals, make new friends and enjoy a rewarding, fun, and healthy life. In fact, more and more studies are finding that your thoughts also strongly influence your physical health! Yes, your thoughts have this much power – if you give it to them.

English: A girl lost in her thoughts!
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Unfortunately it seems to be human nature that some of the most pervasive types of thoughts are ANTs. This is a lovely acronym for "Automatic Negative Thoughts." They’re those negative thoughts that seem to pop up and ruin a perfectly good day. Here are some examples of ANTs.

1. You turn in a project. The feedback is 99% positive. However, instead of focusing on the positive comments you dwell on the one negative comment.

2. Your friend/spouse/co-worker is in a bad mood. You take it personally and feel as if you must have done something to cause that bad mood.

3. You leave the house and wonder if you remembered to lock the back door. All day long you can’t help but feel like when you get home all of your belongings will have been stolen and your home destroyed.

4. Your pants feel tight when you get dressed in the morning. You thus think thoughts like, “I’m so fat,” or “I’ll never lose weight, I’m a failure.”

These are all examples of ANTs. You didn’t intentionally invite them into your mind and yet there they are. They’re also examples of types of ANTs: personalizing, catastrophe, emotional reasoning and so on.

So how do you stop these unwanted and unhelpful thoughts?

Cover of "A Complaint Free World: How to ...
Cover via Amazon
#1. The first step is to recognize them. Becoming aware of your thoughts is tricky. Practice and patience are required. Consider setting your watch alarm to notify you every hour or two throughout your day. When the alarm beeps, stop and pay attention to your thoughts. Practice this for a day or two. Learn to become aware of your thoughts. (This is the same basic technique taught by Will Bowen in A Complaint Free World - an excellent book to read if you have problems with ANTs!)

#2. With awareness comes power. Once you learn to become aware of your thoughts you can then change them. There are many ways to accomplish this, such as:
  • Replace a negative thought with a positive one or an affirmation.
For example, you think you’ve left the back door open and your stuff is going to be stolen. Replace that thought with, “I take good care of my home. I trust that I remembered to lock the door. Everything will be just fine.”
  • Analyze the reason why you’re having a negative thought. Ask yourself if the thought is true. If so, why do you believe it to be true?
  • Accept the thought and let it go. Accept that negative thoughts come into our mind. Take mental note of the thought and then let it go. You might create a visualization to let go of the ANT. An easy visualization is to imagine the thought actually is an ant and stomp on it. Then you can walk away and leave the ant behind. A more peaceful visualization, if you’re opposed to killing bugs, might be to place the negative thought in a balloon. Imagine releasing the balloon up into the sky.
Above all else, don’t judge yourself for having negative thoughts. Simply learn to become aware of them, realize their falsehood and let them go. You will find a more peaceful, happy state of mind, and with a less toxic mind comes a less toxic, healthier body as well!

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

5 Ayurvedic Natural Beauty Treatments

If you’re looking for natural, environmentally friendly and clean beauty treatments, you can’t go wrong with Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the traditional medicinal system of India and incorporates herbs and natural elements into your beauty regimens.

Three Body and Beauty Types:

The three dosha's and the 5 great elements the...
The three dosha's and the 5 great elements they are composed from (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ayurveda defines three body types:

* Vata
* Pitta
* Kapha

Each body type has their own unique characteristics including a tendency toward oily or dry skin, curly or straight hair and so on. You can find much information about these three body typs online.

Regardless of your body type, there are many great ayurvedic natural beauty recipes. Here are 5 to get you started on your natural beauty regimen.* 

Rose Facial Mask   

2 tablespoons oatmeal ground in a blender to a fine powder
2 teaspoons goat milk powder
½ teaspoon clay—yellow clay from India, or plain white kaolin clay
1 teaspoon rose petal powder
1 teaspoon sandalwood powder
2 drops rose attar

Mix all ingredients except rose attar in a jar with a lid.  When ready to use, pour half of the jar of powder into a small container and stir in one ounce of warm water and one drop of rose attar. Apply the mask and wait 15 minutes.  Wash off with warm water.  The clay in this mask is great for oily skin.

Fruit Acid Peel

* 1 tablespoon orange juice
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 1 cup plain yogurt

Blend all ingredients in a small bowl.  Apply it to your face and wait 15 minutes.  Wash off with warm water.  This mask works well to exfoliate.

Acne Clarifier

* 1 teaspoon of turmeric
* 1 teaspoon honey
* 1 teaspoon goat’s milk

Blend all ingredients in a small bowl. Apply to acne and leave on for 20 minutes. The turmeric reduces inflammation, while the milk and honey soothe, calm, and moisturize the skin, and kill bacteria.

Beautiful skin
Beautiful skin (Photo credit:
Almond Milk Cleanser

20 whole almonds soaked and peeled
1 cup water
2 ounces rose lavender hydrosol
4 drops geranium essential oil
1 ounce vegetable glycerin

Blend 1 cup of water and soaked and peeled almonds (soak almonds in water overnight and peel).  Strain and combine remaining ingredients.  Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to two weeks.  Use to clean and exfoliate skin.

Facial Scrub   

1 cup rice bran powder
1 cup chickpea powder
¼ cup hibiscus powder
¼ cup rose powder
¼ cup sandalwood powder
¼ cup coriander powder

Blend all ingredients and store in a sealed container.  To use, add water to a few teaspoons of the scrub and apply to damp skin.

Ayurveda natural beauty treatments combine the best ingredients to provide you with simple and healthy solutions you can make at home, no matter what your body and beauty type.

* Note: Even though the ingredients are all natural, some people still may be sensitive or allergic to them. Be sure to test the product on a small patch of skin 24 hours before using on a larger area of your body.
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Detoxing to Heal Eczema

If you’re one of the three percent of adults that has to deal with eczema, you know what frustration feels like.  You’ve probably tried all kinds of pills, creams, and seemingly ridiculous regimens with very little luck.  Well, all these chemicals you’re adding may just be part of the cause of your problem.

A patch of eczema that has been scratched
A patch of eczema that has been scratched (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As we go through our day, toxic chemicals are continually entering our body; they’re in the food we eat, the products we put on our skin, and even in the air we breathe.  While a little bit of these chemicals is fine for most people, after a few years, they build up in our bodies, slow us down and can even lead to negative health effects.  Eczema is one of the negative effects many people believe is caused by these chemicals. 

The good news?  This means that if you periodically flush these chemicals out of your body through detox, you may see your symptoms decrease almost immediately.  Plus, you’ll probably feel better and lose some weight, too.

So, you know why to detox - the next step is the how.  The truth is, there’s no one way that has been proven best for detoxing.  A juice fast is often recommended, but a cleanse that can work great for eczema is an apple diet.  Simply eat fresh, organic apples for several days.  Any variety works, in fact, you’ll probably prefer getting a few different kinds to liven it up a bit.  There are also various fruit and vegetable juice cleanses you can try.  Just remember to use freshly squeezed juice and not bottled to ensure you get all the vitamins and active enzymes.

You can also try a fresh foods cleanse diet, such as the Total Wellness Cleanse, which is very gentle on your body and very effective - but it may take several weeks.

There are many companies that will sell herbal complexes you can take to help cleanse your system.  While this is a great way to detox, always take great care when using these products.  You always want to research what products you try and consult an expert and a doctor before taking anything, as many herbs can have interactions and side effects.  Also, there is no regulating body like the FDA to regulate what goes into these products.

Healthy Berries are Good Food for Health
(Photo credit:
Once you’ve detoxed your body and seen symptoms improve, don't stop there.  While periodically detoxifying your system will flush the chemicals out of your body, it’s best if they never get there in the first place.  Try eating less processed and more fresh organic food and using natural skin, hair, and other personal products.  Many people have benefited from increasing their fatty acid intake as well.  This will keep you looking and feeling better between cleanses.

If you try a detox and see results, but symptoms immediately return when you return to a normal diet, your symptoms may be from a food allergy.  Try recording what foods you eat, along with severity of symptoms.  Review your records every so often to see if a specific food is triggering your symptoms.  You may need to avoid certain types of food like dairy or gluten.

For many people, a detox diet alone is still not enough.  For full treatment, you will likely need to use the topical treatments provided to you by your doctor.  You should also let them know of any herbs or special diets you use in case it interacts with your other medication.

But for some, switching to a clean, healthy diet of fresh, whole, unprocessed foods may be all you need to relieve your eczema and return to full health.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

How Second Hand Smoke Can Harm You

Most restaurants, stores, and even entire cities in the US have recently banned smoking in public buildings.  That’s because we now know that you can not only die from smoking cigarettes, but also from breathing in smoke in the air around you.  Second hand smoke, whether from the burning end of the cigarette, or from the smokers mouth, is very toxic and can be a serious hazard to your health.

Here are just a few of the many problems caused by second hand smoke.

its hard keeping this one on one hand and the ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Cigarette smoke contains over 60 chemicals that cause or may cause cancer. Thousands of non-smokers die of lung cancer from second hand smoke every year.
* Some of the toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke are: formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chlorine, arsenic ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide.
* Second hand smoke causes heart disease in non-smokers.  These heart disease cases account for tens of thousands of deaths every year. 
* Many non-smokers visit the doctor every year for lung related problems caused by second hand smoke.  These problems range from coughing to a drop in lung functioning.  
* The incidence of breast cancer may be increased by exposure to second hand smoke.

While adults generally have the option or ability to leave an area where someone is smoking, children don’t always have that luxury.  They are also more susceptible to the damage caused by cigarette smoke.  In addition to the above problems here are some of the issues caused by second hand smoke that specifically affect children.

Under the care of second-hand smoke
Under the care of second-hand smoke (Photo credit: JorizDG)
* Second hand smoke causes over 150,000 lower respiratory infections every year, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, in children under the age of 18 months.
* Second hand smoke has been indicated as a cause of many SIDS deaths.
* Second hand smoke significantly increases the severity of asthma attacks in children. 
* Second hand smoke causes many children to develop ear infections.
* Pregnant women exposed to second hand smoke are more likely to have babies with below average birth weights. 

Smoking near your children can not only cause health problems now, it can impair them all the way through to adulthood.  While you should attempt to quit for the sake of your children; if you don’t quit, please smoke outside away from them. 

These are just some of the known problems associated with second hand smoke.  Cigarette companies have known that second hand smoke is dangerous for many years, but hid this information.  It’s disturbing to think what other consequences second hand smoke causes that we haven’t found yet.  Even the shortest amount of exposure to cigarette smoke can have dangerous consequences.

If you are a smoker, please quit or smoke outside in a private area.  If you know someone who smokes near you, convince them to quit or at least not smoke when they’re with you.
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Two Tips to Help You Quit Smoking for Good

It's a new year, and if you smoke, the best and most important resolution you can make this year for your own health and the health of your family is to QUIT.

Of course this can be easier said than done, which is why so many people still smoke, despite all of the evidence that it harms you! Taking the steps to decide that you want to quit smoking is a huge commitment.  The dedication that is needed is absolutely essential to your success and can often be the one factor that will determine how successful you are.  If you find that you are struggling to quit smoking you are certainly not alone, and seeking out appropriate help is key to finding success in your quest to quit smoking.

Looking at all of the excuses, reasons, purposes and methods that pertain to quitting smoking, there are generally two main factors that will determine your overall success.  Without these two factors you will almost always fail, but with them you will typically walk away a successful non-smoker.

Stop for no smoking terror
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. Your first critical success factor will be being determined to quit for your own reasons.  This means you need to decide for yourself that you want to quit.  Having the idea to quit smoking forced upon you will generally not work.  You have to decide all on your own that you are ready to quit smoking - period. This dedication to stop smoking will often be a huge driving force in your battle against cigarettes and you will need to make a firm decision in order to stay strong.  Additionally, as everyone around you is asking why you want to quit, having a good answer that you believe in will help you to resolve your determination each time you answer.

This might sound too simplistic, but actually deciding for yourself that you want to quit is a huge boost to your state of mind.  If you approach quitting smoking with the idea that someone else is forcing you, then often you will make small mistakes that can sabotage your efforts.  You may not recognize these errors, but they are typically there.  Approaching the task of quitting smoking on your own will ensure that you are setting out to be successful and quit for good.  Those who quit for the reasons of someone else typically quit for only a short period of time.  Those who quit for themselves are the people who quit for good.

2. Your second critical success factor will be the approach you take.  If you approach the task of quitting smoking with the confidence that you will succeed no matter what, you will find that your determination is much stronger.  This increased determination can be very helpful as you are trying to fight off those late night cravings, or even the times when the urge to smoke appears and nobody is around to help you through it.  As a smoker, there are plenty of times when you will need your own self-control to really pull you through.  This comes from having the confidence to know that you can succeed.

Still Smoking
(Photo credit: elycefeliz)
If you merely approach quitting smoking with an attitude that you think you might be able to quit, you will be sending yourself mixed signals.  These can create huge problems for yourself as you are struggling to maintain the self-control that is necessary to quit successfully. Without the determination that you can in fact do this, you will fall to the temptation to smoke again much more easily.  It is not a simple task to quit smoking, and many people struggle for years to quit fully. 

Believing that you can quit smoking - even at some point is what will be a driving factor in your success.  The longer it takes to quit smoking the more likely you are to actually lose your determination.  This can spell disaster.  Keeping your determination strong starts from within, and you need to be able to justify to yourself, your harshest critic, exactly why you want to quit smoking.  The people in your family who are there for support are just for backup support.  You are your own best cheerleader and celebrating the small victories that you accomplish is very important to your success.  If you take the time to really examine these two factors and put them into place, you will be in a great position to quit for good.

For More Help Quitting Smoking, Try These Resources:
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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Why You Should Add the Humble Pomegranate to Your Diet

Many of us have heard of the pomegranate; it has been written about in famous literature and even in mythology.  The problem is that far fewer people have ever eaten pomegranate or even seen it.  Pomegranate has tons of wonderful benefits that you should know about - plus it's really delicious!  Once you know everything it can do for you, you’ll probably find yourself eating or drinking pomegranate juice every day. 

Pomegranate seeds (Photo credit: Flооd)
Pomegranates help promote heart health and proper circulation.  They contain three times the antioxidants of wine or green tea which, among other things, promote a healthy heart.  Regular consumption of pomegranate juice has been shown not only to stop hardening of artery walls and build-up of plaque; it has actually been shown to reverse these problems.  Having clear soft arteries helps reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.  If your concern is cholesterol levels, pomegranate has also been shown to lower levels of bad cholesterol and raise your good cholesterol levels.  Another benefit of this improved circulation is that its can help cure impotence. 

The antioxidants in pomegranate give it power to help prevent and even treat cancer.  While pomegranate has been indicated for breast and skin cancer, the most promising research is with prostate cancer in men.  Regular consumption of pomegranate juice can significantly lower PSA levels in the body.  These chemicals are not only an indicator of your risk level for prostate cancer and other problems; they also indicate how well a man will respond to can treatment, radiation and chemotherapy.

In case this isn’t enough of a reason for you to start consuming more pomegranates, there are still more benefits from the amazing fruit.  We already know it’s brimming with antioxidants.  These powerful chemicals have been shown to reduce the affects of aging and prevent Alzheimer’s.  Pomegranate has also been shown in studies to prevent cartilage damage and protect babies from brain damage during birth.  While many of its traditional uses have not been studied extensively, pomegranate has traditionally been used to clear skin, reduce inflammation, and help with sore throats.

English: Taza anar Ka Juice, Pomegranate juice...
Fresh squeezed pomegranate juice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So, if this fruit is so wonderful, why don’t we see it very often?  One reason is that pomegranates have a short season and don’t keep well. It’s almost impossible to find fresh pomegranate out of season.  Many areas haven’t grown them until recently, and they had to be shipped from the Mediterranean.

These days you have several options for getting the benefits of pomegranate all year round.  You can usually find several brands of pomegranate juice in your local grocery store.  If you find the taste a bit too tart, you can also find pomegranate mixed with other familiar juices to give it a sweeter flavor.  Just make sure the product you get is 100% juice and doesn’t have any added sugars and fillers.

You can find fresh pomegranates in the US in grocery stores in November and December around the holidays.  You can either skin and deseed them for freezing, or just throw them in the juicer and freeze it for later. 

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Superfoods for Fighting Gout

This time of year, after all the rich foods of the holiday season, many people who are prone to gout suffer flare ups. If you've ever experienced gout, you know it's no picnic, but by eating the right foods, you can help control the painful symptoms and find relief - without resorting to potentially toxic and often inefficient drugs.
What is Gout?
Structure of uric acid (keto form)
Structure of uric acid (keto form) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Gout, also called gouty arthritis, is caused by an accumulation of uric acid in the blood. The disease usually appears in midlife and primarily in males. It can be hereditary or the secondary to some other disease process. The main symptom of gout is severe pain and swelling in joints, but gout usually effects one joint at a time, then may move from one joint to affect another joint.
The kidneys filter uric acid out of the body. But with gout, the body makes excess uric acid or the kidneys fail to function properly, failing to rid the body of the uric acid and it begins to build up in the joints in the form of uric acid crystals. This condition is very painful. The accumulation of these crystals causes severe pain and swelling in the joint. A common site for gout is the big toe joint. But gout can occur in an ankle, knee, elbow, wrist or finger. Typically the onset occurs at night with excruciating pain, swelling and inflammation. Rich food and alcohol may contribute to the rise in uric acid and the increase in the severity of the symptoms.
What Can You Do to Relieve It?
Luckily, there are several superfoods that are easy to incorporate into your everyday diet that may help alleviate the symptoms of gout.
The pectin and vitamin C in apples can help alleviate gout. The vitamin C helps strengthen the immune system and the pectin helps the joints remain flexible.
The Bing cherry owes its development to the Ch...
Cherries are a helpful remedy for gout. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dark cherries or cherry juice are a popular natural remedy for gout. Eat them daily whenever you suffer an onset of symptoms, and this may help clear them up within a day or two.
Onions protect the circulatory system and are a powerful antibiotic. They're good for urinary infections, and their diuretic activity helps with arthritis, rheumatism and gout.
Beets are richer than spinach in iron and other minerals, and the greens are helpful in cases of gout since the iron helps oxygenate and purify the bloodstream.
It’s also important to drink plenty of water to help keep the kidneys filtrating properly and to prevent the formation of kidney stones. 
Avoid foods that are high in purines, as they account for approximately 50 percent of the uric acid produced in the body. Organ meats like liver, sweetbreads, brains, kidney, meat gravies, meat extracts, scallops, wild game, mackerel, herring, anchovies and sardines and cauliflower are all high in purines, so stay away from these during an attack of gout, or even better - avoid them altogether if you are prone to gout.
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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Want To Be Healthy? Stop Eating These 3 "Health" Foods!

Isn't it ironic that since the introduction of "health" foods over the last 20-25 years, we are fatter and sicker than ever before? 

What gives? Is there something going on that we don't know about?

Well, a few weeks ago my favorite health "guru" and renowned nutritionist Yuri Elkaim decided to buckle down, do some research, and uncover the truth.

And what a scary truth he uncovered!
3 "Health" Foods to STOP Eating
Much of the research he came across confirmed some of which we already know about certain "health" foods, but some new research absolutely shocked him.

And so he channeled my frustration and put together an amazing new report for you that reveals the 3 "health" foods that you should stop eating as of today!

Here's just a small sampling of what you'll discover in this report:
  • WHY these 3 foods are dangerous to your health,
  • WHY they continue to be "pushed" down our throats,
  • How YOU can become a SMARTER consumer to make better food choices,
  • How continuing to eat these 3 foods will sabotage your ability to lose weight,
  • And much more!
Why am I giving you this report for free?

Because you need to know this information - and there's no time like the present to get started on a path to better health. It's that simple.

So here's my New Year's gift to you - it's totally free - we won't even ask for your email address!

On your side in good health,
Rose Hillbrand.
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