Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

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Advice from the Dalai Lama

Love yourself

“It seems that when some people talk of compassion, they have the notion that it entails a total disregard or even a sacrificing of one’s own interests. This is not the case. In fact, genuine love should first be directed at oneself – if we do not love ourselves, how can we love others?”  the Dalai Lama of Tibet

This quote is from the Dalai Lama’s Facebook page.  As odd as it may sound, we can all  become a “fan” of the Dalai Lama on Facebook.  Then, periodic doses of inspiration like the one above will be peppered on your Facebook home page.

You can also view five short teaching videos by clicking a link on the Dalai Lama’s Facebook page, including these two featured on his wall page:

  • The Need for A Compassionate Society
  • The Importance of a Calm Mind

Last but not least, you can also stay abreast of the Dalai Lama’s travels and hear his comments on world affairs.

This is the use of modern technology in its very best way — to spread love and compassion.

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It’s not always easy to be a pioneer.  It’s not always easy to have an illness that has yet to be validated by the medical community.  Nor is it easy to hold a fresh view of the world that is not yet accepted by our fellow travelers on the path.

Here is a quote to encourage and provide perspective in those times when no one seems to understand and you feel out on a limb.

“Every TRUTH passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first, it is ridiculed. In the second, it is opposed. In the third, it is regarded as self-evident.” ~~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Feel confident – your time will come.

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Health dangers of fragrance

Are you aware of the health dangers of fragrance—not just for those with chemical sensitivity, but for you too? Not  for women alone, but for men as well?

A whopping 90% or more of the chemicals in synthetic fragrance are derived from PETROCHEMICALS.  Yes, petrochemicals!  Very romantic, huh?!?  The chemicals in your fragrance can actually make another person go into anaphylactic shock, trigger a painful migraine, set off an asthma or allergy attack, cause any number of other symptoms, and also contribute to chronic ill health.  By the time you realize that repeated exposure to the low levels of chemicals contained in fragrance are triggering symptoms for you too, it’s a bit late to turn back the clock.  The overwhelming majority of these chemicals have not been tested for safety.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is working to protect your health by eliminating the use of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems.  Visit their website to read about the hidden health hazards lurking in fragrance.  Here’s one point that stands out for me because I am sensitized:

“Sensitizers: One in every 50 people may suffer immune system damage from fragrance and become sensitized, according to the EU’s Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-food Products. Once sensitized to an ingredient, a person can remain so for a lifetime, enduring allergic reactions with every subsequent exposure.”

I find that number startling!  As Tide (Tide Free) and All (All Fee and Clear) now offer fragrance free detergents, we know there must be truth to these statements.  These companies would never invest in such products if there wasn’t a substantial market and profit to be made.  These products are free of perfumes and dyes. Nevertheless, buyer beware as they still contain plenty of toxic chemicals.  I myself use 7th Generation Free and Clear, but some people with chemical sensitivity are so sensitized they cannot use detergent in any form.

Fragrance is ubiquitous:  off-gassing from dryer sheets, air fresheners, fabric softener, cleaning products, scented candles, personal care products, toothpaste, and the list goes on and on.  Most essential oils are synthetic and thus are typically comprised of noxious substances too.  I love the title of this post on counterfeit perfumes at Smell, Inc.,  Antifreeze and Urine Found in Some Perfumes, which illustrates the potential danger of buying perfumes at special reduced prices.

If you are committed to being green or thinking about going there, a good place to start is to eliminate the use of fragranced products.  Taking care of the planet is important, but protecting your health and the health of your children, who are more vulnerable to toxic chemicals, is also a priority.

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Using dreamtime constructively

dreamtimeHave your ever noticed how the thoughts, emotions, and images you entertain in the hours and minutes before falling asleep enter your dreamspace?

Often the thought or emotion that I fall asleep with is the one I wake with and may be the one I ruminate upon all night long.

For example, if I’m ticked, I notice how this seed of anger germinates all night long and influences my mood the next morning.  In a similar fashion, if I spend the later hours of the evening on the internet, I notice how images I observed there appear, often in a nonsensical way, in dreamtime.  While the latter may not be detrimental, it doesn’t necessarily enhance my wellbeing.

Wouldn’t it be far better to use my dreamtime in an intentional and positive way?

Directing your mind

This can be easily accomplished by focusing one’s mind in a particular direction before retiring.

If you gently visualize healing images—your cells filled with 5-colored streams of pure light, for example—chances are you will wake up feeling refreshed.  Done consistently, it’s been shown by scientific research that affirmative visualizations can enhance healing and recovery in the body, even from serious illnesses like cancer.

If you imagine your body filled with love and joy and tenderly streaming this out from your heart to the world,  you will more likely wake filled with happiness.

If you lightly, without strain, focus your attention on sacred images or spiritual figures of significance to you, these will pervade your dreams often bringing meaning, insight, and wisdom.

Many healing and spiritual traditions utilize the power of mind immediately before and during dreamtime to achieve greater spiritual accomplishment.  They know the power of mind. Just as science is now coming to discover, this clearly shows us that the mind is pliable, workable, and changeable.

As the Buddha said, “We are what we think.”  We can change our mind for the better and have a positive and powerful influence on ourselves and the world around us.

How do you use dreamtime?

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safer cleaning products

Be wary of these cleaning ingredients

EnviroBlog provides this informative article about 7 ingredients in cleaning products that are best avoided.  This is useful to know whether you are healthy or ill.  Continuous low level exposure to toxic chemicals can gradually lead to various forms of ill health and inflammation not simply chemical sensitivity alone.

I keep my life simple and safe by using the minimum amount of cleaning products.  Baking soda and hot water are my #1 cleaning companions.  Baking soda is non-toxic, environmentally safe, absorbs fragrance and other odors, and tolerated by most people with chemical sensitivity and environmental illnesses.  I find buying a 4 lb. box is usually more economical.

The other products that I use include Bon Ami cleanser and 7th Generation All Purpose Cleaner.  However, I want to double check the ingredients in the 7th Generation All Purpose Cleaner.  This article lauds 7th Generation for listing all their product ingredients on their website, since most companies do not reveal all ingredients.

There are a number of ingredients in ‘natural’ products that can trigger symptoms for people.  “Green” is good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a product is safe for those with chemical sensitivity.

Tips for a healthy liver

Spring seems to have snuck in between the recent raindrops here.  There are new blossoms on the trees, fragrance in the air, and young plants are bursting forth in my newly inherited vegetable garden.

In Chinese medicine, each of the seasons are symbolized by an element.  Spring is associated with the element ‘wood,’ which represents the forceful power that impels plants to be born and spring out from the ground.

Each season is also connected with an organ pair and several other vital aspects as listed below for the wood element.

The element wood and its associations

  • Season: Spring
  • Organs: Liver and Gall Bladder
  • Emotion: Anger
  • Color: Green
  • Sound: Shouting
  • Taste: Sour
  • Smell: Rancid
  • Opening: Eyes
  • Tissue: Tendons
  • Climate: Wind
  • Process: Birth
  • Direction: East

Spring then is the ideal time to tune into the liver and gall bladder organs and meridian systems.

The liver and our emotions

The status of our liver has a tremendous effect on our emotional states for the better and for the worse. Those with a balanced liver are generally without stress and are not easily frazzled.  They have a sense of confidence, power, decisiveness, and assertiveness as symbolized by the energy of wood.

On the other hand, tumultuous emotions can be the first sign of a liver in excess or stagnation.  The emotions associated with the liver are those laying along the spectrum of anger: impatience, frustration, aggression, resentment, violence, arrogance, stubbornness, an explosive personality, hostility, or, conversely, feeling  indecisive, overwhelmed, uptight, and tired.   When repressed, these emotions can lead to depression.

Physical conditions associated with the liver

In Chinese medicine the body is seen as finely interconnected.  Therefore, the health of the liver, or any organ for that matter, is seen as impacting particular tissues, sense organs, and so on that lie beyond the organ itself.  Therefore, the effect of an imbalance can be far more widespread than is understood in Western medicine.

According to Beinfield and Korngold, authors of Between Heaven and Earth, A Guide to Chinese Medicine, some conditions associated with an imbalanced wood element, in addition to liver and gall bladder disorders, include vascular headaches, muscle spasms, high blood pressure, nerve inflammations, and migratory pain.

Paul Pitchford, author of Healing with Whole Foods says:  “Our mental and physical flexibility, signs of stress, high blood pressure, allergies, spasms, cramps, pains and headaches (including migraines) that come and go, cancers, diabetes and large blood sugar fluctuations, arthritic disorders, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and a number of forms of heart disease are adversely influenced by liver/gallbladder imbalance.”

Since the liver’s primary role is that of detoxification, it is also of crucial importance to those coping with environmentally triggered illnesses.

Do any of these emotional or physical issues resonate for you?

Tips for supporting the liver this spring season

Now that I’ve caught up with the presence of spring, I myself have been reflecting on what steps I might take to support the health and rejuvenation of my liver.  Here are a few possibilities.

1. Reduce or entirely avoid alcohol and other intoxicants.

2. Reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet.

3. Reduce exposures to the toxic chemicals found in everyday products, food, air and water. You might purchase green household products, consider organic foods, or look into water filters as a start.

4. Eat less, eat lighter foods, and don’t eat less than 3 hours before bedtime.  Our bodies are ready to let go of the richer foods we needed for the warmth during winter!

There are many different foods that benefit the liver.  One group in particular are the brassica vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, turnips, and others.  Due to its association with birth, eating young plants like baby bok choy, baby carrots, and others can also benefit the liver.  Greens, which boast the color of the season, are also a great liver food.  Bitter and sour foods, if tolerated, are beneficial for liver excess, and mildly pungent foods like members of the onion family, mustard greens, and watercress improve stagnation.  Raw foods can also stimulate the liver, but they are counter-indicated in people with weak digestion.  You can read more about diet and the liver at the Liver Doctor or in Paul Pitchford’s book listed above.

At springtime, many people enjoy a simple fast of fruits and vegetables for a few days  to cleanse their bodies naturally. Learn about cleaning your body with real foods at Simple Bites.  Just remember that fasting is not always beneficial for people who are weak and deficient.

5. Consider a trial of liver-enhancing herbs like milk thistle, dandelion root, or chamomile flowers.  These, however, would be counter-indicated for a frail, deficient person.

6. Spend time evolving an effective strategy when feelings—like impatience, frustration, irritation, and anger—pop or begin to mount. Meditation can help calm and soothe our emotional flare-ups.

7. Tune into the wood element.  Take a walk in the forest.  Create a visualization centered around wood, which is rooted and strong, but also flexible.  Buy a wooden bowl or other item crafted from wood.

8. Decorate with the color green or wear clothes of this color.

9. Reflect upon what brings you a sense of rebirth and renewal and then implement one or two of your ideas.

And if this feels like too much, just start with one.

Most importantly, enjoy this new spring season with all its potentiality.

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