New Moon – Time to Manifest!

Been thinking it’s time to ___ or ____ .  Perhaps you want a little more ____ in your life.  We’re going to let you fill in the blanks.  Bonnie Bruederer, photographed here holding one of her vision boards, has made a business out of helping people visualize their future.

Bruderer earned her ‘life coaching’ stripes working for the king of motivational speaking, Tony Robbins for over a decade and was so inspired by the changes she saw in her clients, she decided to branch out and create her own vision board company.

Making a vision board is SIMPLE — Bruderer suggests creating a soul sentence and then dividing your board into four quadrants; health, relationships, finance/career and time management.

OK.. why are we even talking about vision boards? Tomorrow is the New Moon – hence there is no better time to ‘manifest your intentions.’

We have borrowed, this easy to follow list from Stanford graduate, and popular energy worker, Susan Bird,  who teaches her clients the power of thought, as in “Thought Creates”

Here’s a short cut to what she has her client’s fill out during new moon rituals.

List three goals you have already realized..and take some time to meditate on this.

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Prioritize your life (as in health, family, money, relationships) and create a list of your top three priorities in these areas. Write it out as a goal. (example: “I want to run 15 miles”)

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Come up with five affirmations to support these priorities.. (Examples: “I love running in the morning before work”

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This is a very short version of what her workshops offer, but just writing these goals (intentions) down and concentrating on them throughout the next few days will make a difference in your life. If you are interested in learning more about this topic email us at misscontact@gmail.com and we can pass along Susan’s contact information as well as the long version of this manifestation intention.

Happy New Moon!

How to Get Your Meditate On!

We couldn’t help notice the “meditation buzz” this weekend on the airwaves. The topic has come up either because it’s summer and we all want an excuse to ‘meditate’ on our hammocks or the July issue of the journal Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, has hit the wires. Let’s go with a little of both. Taking a deeper look at the study, what we loved was beyond discussing the benefits of meditation (increased oxygen to the blood, reduced stress, anxiety, depression etc.) these researchers looked into how people liked to meditate. And, let’s face it – we do what we like doing – and we don’t do what we don’t like.

The researchers spoke with about 250 college students who all practiced one of four methods for about a week and at the end of six weeks ranked their personal preferences regarding meditation methods.

Researchers looked into these four methods:

Vipassana – Translated as “seeing deeply” this meditation dates back to the times of Gautama Buddha. You can start out by breath awareness and then advance to stages of being mindful of your perceptions and thoughts at any time, regardless of what you are doing.

Mantra Think “Om” or choose a word or phrase of your own to repeat.

Zen – This practice typically asks you to silently focus on breathing and posture with eyes open in a quiet place and to dismiss any thoughts that pop into your head, essentially “thinking nothing.”  Good luck with this!

Qigong visualization – We love this one – because one aspect of this practice includes the Inner Smile, visualizing “smile-energy” penetrating your internal organs; or Moon on Lake, visualizing the moon’s reflection on a lake; and Holding Heaven in the Palm of Your Hand, imagining the energy of the galaxy in the palm of your hand. Another popular technique is imagining a beam of light running along the spine.

And the winner is … a significant number of participants chose Vipassana or Mantra meditation as their preferred techniques. Of course this doesn’t mean these are right for you -but they would be a good place to start. Looking for a way to get started, check out our post called Mediation Made EZ, which describes a 100 breath technique …  as in take 100 breaths and you’re done. E-Z!

Start your Monday with a giggle – it’s good for you!

We know – Monday’s can suck -and if you happened to catch any of the 9/11 coverage yesterday it was an emotional day. So let’s rewire with a bit of levity! Why? According to the Mayo Clinic -the health benefits are numerous 😉

Stress relief from laughter

A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data are mounting about the positive things laughter can do.

Short-term benefits
A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:

  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Long-term effects
Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long haul. Laughter may:

  • Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can impact your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.
  • Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.

Need to laugh? click here:

 

Anderson Cooper’s famous giggle fit.

Laughing baby

Funny cats

EZ solutions for a toxic friendship

We’ve all got those friends who you love being with … most of the time. However, every once in awhile their narcissistic, flakey, or critical behavior starts to affect how you feel about yourself.  Not good!

The Friendship Doctor, aka Irene Levine, psychiatrist and author of “Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Break-Up With Your Best Friend” and creator of The Friendship Blog. wrote a recent post on the very topic of toxic friendships – and provides some simple solutions.

And don’t worry – you’re not alone. In a survey conducted by The Today Show and Self Magazine, 84 percent of women and 75 percent of men admitted to having a toxic friendship.

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Need help dealing with a toxic pal? Try these tips from Irene Levine:

  • Self-absorbed sidekicks: Change the conversation from him/her to you (which won’t be easy). Change the subject and/or explicitly tell your narcissistic friend that you need and deserve their attention.
  • Chronic downers:  Set firm boundaries and tell him/her your limits (and enforce them!). Also encourage them to befriend other people — as in, spread the misery over more friends.
  • Overly critical chums: Have confidence in your own values and opinions. Also realize you may need to agree to disagree or else your relationship will be filled with contention.
  • Underminers: Recognize that this person is probably a “frenemy” and exercise caution, i.e., watch your back. Also, if the undermining is excessive and leaves you feeling badly about yourself, you may need to back away from the friendship.
  • Unreliable flakes: You may need to remind them of their commitments. Also remember, if someone is consistently unreliable, why would you ever rely on them?

To read the entire article, CLICK here:

Have a great labor day weekend ladies!

Ocean as a potion?

After spending a week floating in the soothing 0cean water in Hawaii, and hearing story after story from locals regarding the ‘magic’ healing properties of the sea – I did a bit of googling to confirm or reject these claims.

While ‘magic’ isn’t the exact word scientists have used to describe the healing and healthful properties of clean ocean water (there’s some nasty stuff out there on polluted beaches) – there are quite a few proven benefits. I liked this simple wrap up by writer Sharin Griffin from Livestrong.com – it is easy to understand and best of all she cites her sources!

Skin Disorders

Skin disorders such rosacea, psoriasis and eczema are also helped by the ocean’s salt water as minerals and amino acids in the water draw out impurities. With the removal of these toxins also comes faster healing time during flare ups where open lesions are present. Rashes from plant allergies or heat are also soothed by ocean water, improving skin texture and boosting your skin’s natural immunities. Waters are believed to increase blood circulation, thus speeding up skin cell regeneration, cutting healing times in half.

Emotional Health

Warm baths have been attributed with stress reduction properties, but many may not realize the long-term stress reduction benefits of ocean water. The minerals in ocean water decrease stress and increase a sense of well-being. Water temperature also plays a major role in your emotional health when swimming in ocean water. Cool ocean water in the spring and fall months provides a soothing treatment for your nerves while warmer waters in the summer months relax your muscles, according to Dr. Connie Hernandez and Dr. Marcel Hernandez of Pacific Naturopathic in Mountain View, California.

Immune System

Iodine, one of the trace minerals found in ocean water, is directly linked to your body’s natural ability to fight off infection. Iodine in ocean water boosts your thyroid function, increasing your immune system. For this reason, ocean swimming is known as preventative treatment from certain illnesses and infections. Ocean water also increases the amount of oxygen carried throughout your bloodstream and and provides the nutrients required by your blood cells to fight off free radicals.

And down to the cellular level!

This research reminded me of an article I had done on the health benefits of seaweed detox wraps. This particular study has stuck with me evensince;

To illustrate the importance of detoxification, we need look no further than the work of Dr. Alexis Carrell.  Nobel Laureate (1912), Dr. Carrell was awarded this honor for his pioneering work in France on organ and tissue transplants.  To prove that animal cells can live in a seawater medium, he placed chicken embryo cells in a special flask engineered with the help of Charles Lindburg.  The seawater bath used was isotonic meaning that it was a saline solution.  The cells thrived for 5 weeks before eventually expiring.

Carrell was curious to learn what actually caused the cells to perish.  He discovered that due to the buildup of toxins in the form of metabolic wastes, the pH of the water acidified that deteriorated their environment.  It could be argued that this is an example of an ecological disaster like Lake Erie.  So he repeated the experiment; and this time, he drained the toxic water and kept a fresh supply of seawater flowing in daily.  Rather than perishing in 5 weeks, he kept these cells alive for 22 years!  This lead to his famous quote:  “The cell is immortal; it is merely the fluid in which it bathes that deteriorates.

Meditation made EZ

Ouch it’s Monday morning (or Thursday, or Tuesday) and you slept two hours tops, your mind is still racing and today is the big day (meeting, report due, interview, whatever…). We’ve turned to Aussie Leonie Allan uber blogger, publisher of the Goddess Guidebooks and meditation whiz for her 8 tips on meditating to clear your mind and make space for the important stuff -at least until you can get a good night’s sleep.

“The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.” ~Robert M. Pirsig

1. Try the 100 Breaths technique. I take 100 breaths. I count them. I try not to think about anything else.  It’s revolutionary. And it also really works for me. It gives my brain something to do (wee! counting!) while the rest of me is just hanging out, inadvertently meditating.

2. Take a Meditationap. Be careful. This one is complex. Oh yes—it’s the love child of a meditation and a nap. Lie down on a bed, couch, or sun lounge, or pile your (empty) bath with pillows and blankets.

Close your eyes and do nothing. Maybe you’ll fall asleep. Maybe you’ll have Zen inspiration. Maybe you’ll just happily float along. Either way, it will be sublime.

The lessons here is: Meditation should be enjoyable. We only consistently do things we actually like doing!

3. Use the Alarm Clock Meditation. If 100 breaths isn’t going to cut it for you, set a timer for 5 minutes. Then meditate until the timer goes off. This way, you don’t have to wonder about how long it’s been, or how much longer you should meditate for. It’s like meditation on cruise-drive.

4. Get comfortable. I started looking at things that annoyed me about meditation – the stuff that held me back from doing it. And one of the annoying things was this: I don’t like being uncomfortable. And sitting cross-legged in lotus with a straight back and poised mudra fingers doesn’t spell comfortable to me. It spells pins and needles, sore butt, and achy back.

What this looks like for me is sitting in a comfy armchair inside, lying on a sun lounge on the back deck, or leaning against a wall outside. What comfy looks like to you might be totally different.

5. Fake it for 10 breaths. When I really, really need to meditate, and I don’t feel like I have time, I make a little pact with myself. I say to myself:

“Okay, we so don’t have to meditate for any pain-in-the-ass time at all. Let’s just do ten breaths.”

And my logical brain says: “Ten breaths? You think I have time for ten breaths of meditation? Are you kidding me! I have stuff to do lady! We’re not on retreat you hippy!”

And I say: “Oh. I know you’re really busy. I really feel like I need this. You and me. Besides, it’s only for ten breaths.”

Logical brain: “Fine. But only ten. And I’m counting.”

And then we do our ten breaths and it’s nice. And we either stop there because we feel like we’ve refreshed just enough, or we keep going for another ten or twenty because it just feels so good.

The lesson here is: Start small. Everyone has time for 10 breaths. See what happens. It’s a little way of moving around resistances.

6. Make it a reward. Find a way that makes you think “I want to meditate.”

Here’s the meditation pay-off for me: Whenever I take 100 breaths, it’s kind of boring for the first 59. But then I hit 60, and for the next ten seconds, it feels like nirvana. I don’t know if it’s a rush of oxygen to the head, or just because I finally relax then, but whatever it is, 60 is good.

And it makes those 59 seconds before it so very, very worth it. My little reward is the 60-second release.

7. Use help when you need it. Try out different CDs, guides, and meditation techniques, and see what works for you. And what works for you, make that the golden wisdom in your life.

The lesson here is: Don’t think you have to go it alone. Everything’s easier with a little support.

8. And most of all… Remember that the reason you aren’t meditating right now is not because you are lazy. It’s because you haven’t yet found a way to meditate for you that is fun, easy, and comfortable for you. Find the way that does, and then it’s much, much easier.

Remove the annoying parts from meditating. Try out all the different ways you can to make it as lovely an experience as possible.

There are 6 billion paths to bliss, and your path is your own. Make it a happy one.

Dr. Oz Gives Tips to Relieve Financial Stress

Feeling anxious over your last credit card statement? Losing sleep over your mortgage? You aren’t alone. In a recent study by the Associated Press, 39 percent of people with debt suffer from insomnia, as compared to 17 percent of people not in debt. The study also found that 23 percent of people with high debt stress experience severe depression as a result of it. And stress isn’t good for your health: about twice as many people with high financial stress suffer from heart attacks than those with low stress.

To help beat the money blues we turned to Dr. Oz. The cardiothoracic surgeon is best known for appearing on the Oprah show, Larry King Live and his own daily television show, The Dr. Oz Show. The Doc’s tips can be found on RealAge.com.

Eat a banana. “Eating a banana every day facilitates both the cross talk among your brain cells and the effect of certain neurotransmitters (such as serotonin and its precursors) that can make you feel better. These two effects may mean that eating a banana a day helps keep the therapist away by preventing minor depression.”

Exercise. Working out has shown to be more effective than many antidepressants in reducing major depression. “Part of it may be because exercise boosts feel-good chemicals, and another part likely comes from the sense of purpose and accomplishment that regular exercise brings.”

Write at bedtime. “Write in a gratitude journal daily. While you’re at it, put some music on in the background. Music can improve moderately depressed moods; one study also showed that it improved heart rate and blood pressure.”

How Much Sleep Do Children and Teenagers Need?

How Much Sleep Do Children and Teenagers Need? Grown-Up Problems Start at Bedtime – WSJ.com.

Music and the Brain

Thanks WebMD for publishing this timely article on the ‘happy’ buzz-like affect of music on the brain. Just today I was wondering how a simple song could have such a calming affect on me…. had to be the dopamine.

Listening to music may be pleasing to the ear as well as the body, according to a new study.

Researchers found that listening to music releases the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain and sends pleasure signals to the rest of the body. And the more pleasing the music is to the ear, the more intensely pleasurable the experience is for the body.

Dopamine is a chemical involved in the brain’s reward system and is usually associated with more tangible pleasures such as food, psychoactive drugs, and money.

“Our results provide, to the best of our knowledge, the first direct evidence that the intense pleasure experience when listening to music is associated with dopamine activity in the mesolimbic reward system,” write researcher Valorie Salimpoor of Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University in Quebec, Canada, and colleagues in Nature Neuroscience. “Our results help to explain why music is of such high value across all human societies.”

For the entire article click here.

Type D Personality: A Killer?

Is your personality killing you?

Professor Johan Denollet seems to think it might be. He says the health-risk personality, labeled Type D, which is characterized by, “negative emotions like anxiety, frustration and anger,” has a strong link to heart attack risk.

The study, published in the Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes journal looked at research from 19 other studies that included over 6,000 participants.

Those with a Type D personality and a history of heart disease are about 3.7 times more likely to have a heart attack or other heart health problems than those with more optimistic personalities.