Tag Archives: body

Boost Your Self Esteem

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“As the holidays come and go, so do the cookies, sweets and feasts. Leftovers fill the fridge and your stomach is full of fatty food. A lot of people gain weight during this time of year because of the celebrations. Its hard not to overeat when your around family that won’t judge you and food that tastes all to good. And just like most of the population in the U.S., we struggle body image issues. While with the new year comes our promises to stay fit and clean in 2014, we can make it a goal to feel better about ourselves in our own body. Working the steps help us cope with the low self-esteem that our addiction may have left us with as we reflect on
our past, but we can also apply these suggestions when letting go of our negative body image.  This is an article from the Healthy Weight Network about how to conquer your self esteem and body image issues.” -Shanti, Robyn

Low Self EsteemIt’s about you

You’re okay just as you are. You are a unique person, capable and loveable, with special talents and strengths, with inner wisdom and creativity – a human being of value. So accept and respect yourself now.Get comfortable with the real you, inside and out. Accept your size and shape, your feelings, yourself, unconditionally. Honor your character, talents and achievements.

No need to work on perfecting yourself. In fact, it can be self-defeating, and a big waste of time. Perfection is a myth. It doesn’t exist in the real world and it certainly doesn’t exist in human appearance. Many women who struggle with eating, weight and body image spend inordinate amounts of energy trying to change their appearance. They make their bodies their life’s work; they put their lives on hold “waiting to be thin.”

Instead of trying to meet society’s impossible standards of female beauty, give yourself affirmations on how special you really are. Find the peace and serenity of your life, buried though it may be under many layers. Accept this place where you are on your life’s journey and live with joy and relish.

  • Recognize that beauty, health and strength come in all sizes. Real beauty encompasses what’s inside, your zest for life, your fun-loving spirit, a smile that lights up your face, your compassion for others, says Carol Johnson, author of Self-Esteem Comes in all Sizes.It’s being friendly, generous and loving, having strength and courage, and respecting yourself just as you are — goals that we all can achieve.
  • Your body is okay. Your size is okay. The good news is that you can change how you feel about your body by changing your self-talk. If you are especially concerned over weight, understand that your body has an opinion of what it should weigh at this time in your life. It regulates weight around a setpoint that may be nearly impossible to change. Recognize how destructive the obsession to be thin is and how it harms the people you love, especially children. Your weight is not a measure of your self-worth. Accepting this can give you new freedom.Cat as Lion
  • Be size positive. Set an example of respect for size diversity. People naturally come in different sizes and builds, and that’s okay. If you are a large woman it’s especially important in our size-focused society to be a role model who radiates confidence, self-respect and friendliness for other adults and children who, sadly, may fear going out in public. Or, if you are a thin person, keeping thin through semi-starvation, remember this means an anorexic personality (anxiety, irritability, depression, inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, isolation from friends and family, preoccupation with food, loneliness, lack of compassion and generosity, self-centeredness), weak and brittle bones, and other serious health issues. Our society is currently obsessed with thinness, which hurts us all. When will this nation come to its senses, reject size prejudice, accept a wider range of shapes and sizes, and focus on health rather than weight? We each can do our part to bring about this healthful change.
  • Dress for successDress in ways that make you feel good, that make your own statement and, most of all, that fit now. Clean out your closet of clothes that don’t fit; clothes you can wear only during dieting bouts. Give away or store too-small clothing. This makes room for clothes you will enjoy wearing.
  • Want what you have – contentment. T he secret to happiness is not to get what you want, but to want what you have . Though much underrated today, contentment has long been valued in world religions and philosophy. Realizing the full measure of our abundance can bring true happiness.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Have you inventoried the richness of your life assets? Try it. Add to that inventory and each day write down three things you are grateful for in your gratitude journal. It can be humbling to realize the abundance of riches we have, and how much we take it for granted. The everyday joys of family, friends, home, community, country, health, work and the wonder of nature are all around us. Contemplating this can bring you deep serenity.
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation relieves stress and enhances our lives. Stress overload is linked to many health problems, such as exhaustion, insomnia, headache, diarrhea, anxiety, restlessness, depression, abuse of alcohol, increased risk of heart attack and weakened immune system. Relaxing is like re-booting a stressed-out computer. Everything works better afterward.
  • Choose self-care. Set aside time every day for yourself. T ake time for self-care and healing. Invest in small things that enrich your life: listening to music, reading a novel, napping after lunch, laughing with your spouse or best friend, eating a nourishing meal, telephoning a friend, taking a stretch break at your desk, enjoying a sunset.
  • Live assertively. Assertiveness allows people to express their honest feelings and opinions comfortably, to be open and direct, without anxiety or guilt, and to obtain their personal rights without denying the rights of others. Assertive persons respect themselves, speak calmly and clearly, maintain eye contact, project their voices, and smile sincerely when they mean it. By contrast, responding to others in passive or aggressive ways involves manipulation that respects neither yourself nor them. (By the way, in lists like this, and of course, this one, read, consider and take what seems best for you at this time in your life – and leave the rest. That’s being assertive!)
  •  Strengthen your social support . Include pleasant and stimulating interaction with others in your day, every day. Maintain nourishing relationships with family and friends. Promote communication and sharing of feelings in appropriate ways. Encourage positive self-talk, praise and support for each other. Getting involved in volunteer work is an excellent way to increase your social network as you lend a helping hand and a helping heart.
  • Shape a healthy balance. You’ll feel better and have more energy when you develop healthy living habits that come so naturally and feel so normal you hardly think about them. Normalize your life by being regularly active and keeping yourself well nourished without dieting. Take care of your health, but don’t obsess over it or struggle for perfection. Find a satisfying balance of wellness and wholeness that works for you at this time in your life and helps you live the way you want.
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The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

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The Power of Now

The Power of Now is, to say the least, POWERFUL. Eckhart Tolle does a phenomenal job expressing the importance of the present and how it can change your life. Being in the Now is something I have tried to stress in some of my earlier blogs focusing on meditation and awareness. While meditation is one way to get there, through this book you will find that you can be in this moment every second of every day. Luckily for you, the audiobook is now free for 30 days from Audible.com. This company is affiliated with Amazon and you do have to check out with your information secured for after the trial ends. However, if you listen to it everyday, I promise you can finish it and end the renewal before it comes to bite you. If your still unsure about signing up, you can always head to your local library and find either the book or audio recording there. Anyways, I highly recommend it! Even though there is not much mention of addiction, you will find this book incredibly resourceful. Below is a review from the Audible website.” -Enjoy, Robyn

Review from Audible.com:

To make the journey into The Power of Now you need to leave your analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. Access to the Now is everywhere – in the body, the silence, and the space all around you. These are the keys to enter a state of inner peace. They can be used to bring you into the Now, the present moment, where problems do not exist. It is here you find your joy and are able to embrace your true self. It is here you discover that you are already complete and perfect.

Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart Tolle offers simple language in a question and answer format. The words themselves are the signposts to guide you on your journey. There are new discoveries to be made along the way: you are not your mind, you can find your way out of psychological pain, authentic human power is found by surrendering to the Now. When you become fully present and accepting of what is, you open yourself to the transforming experience of The Power of Now.

 

 

The Power of Imagination

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“At times, our dreams may seem out of reach. The reality is that we are far from them— but only presently. Imaging is simply using your imagination to lift your mood and enhance your motivation for long-term sobriety. This is part of an article from Addiction-Recovery-Blog.com. You will find that imaging can do even more than I mentioned above, plus advise on how to start your own practice.” -Enjoy, Robyn

thinking

Imaging, in the purest sense, is a way of focusing your mind on positive alternatives. Whether you practice self-imaging through yoga or meditation or participate in a program of therapeutic imaging, the technique can be very effective.

Basically, imaging is a type of perception therapy that embraces the connection between your mind, body, spirit, and environment. It’s a psychotherapeutic approach that helps you replace faulty perceptions about who you are and who you want to be with new and more beneficial perceptions.

Issues Imaging Can Address

Depression and addiction are common co-occurring conditions. In fact, even without addiction, depression is a very common condition. It is estimated that more than 10 million Americans suffer from some form of depression. After treatment for drug and/or alcohol abuse, depression can wreak havoc on the recovering addict’s life and any future plans. The heart of depression is hopelessness, a feeling or perception that nothing good will ever happen. Imaging helps transform hopelessness into hope. And hope brings the promise of a brighter future.

Low self-esteem and low self-worth often plague recovering addicts in varying degrees. Sometimes the feelings are tucked away into the back of the mind, while at other times they completely take over the individual’s thoughts, sabotaging any attempts to plan a better life. The old ways of trying to bump up self-esteem by hanging out with others and doing things so other people will like us – even though those were undesirable friends and activities – no longer work, or we’ve been responsible enough to reject them, wisely realizing as a result of treatment that we can’t associate with those triggers. Imaging helps improve feelings of self-worth and self-esteem by treating the whole person. As the underlying faulty thinking is exposed, new perceptions are created that lead to more positive behaviors.

Intolerance and prejudice are seldom talked about as issues affecting recovering addicts, but think about the kinds of beliefs we’ve been brought up with or acquired over the years. Every time we rejected someone who didn’t share our need to binge or use, or laughed at the spiritual person who seemed so happy with their life, or lashed out at loved ones and friends who tried to encourage us to change – those were all forms of intolerance and prejudice. If not dealt with, they’ll resurface in other forms during recovery and put a serious strain on our future plans. Imaging can help people to be more accepting of others, to embrace the fact that we’re all equal, that we need each other, that we’re connected, and that we can help each other grow. This leads to better self-awareness, inner peace, and the ability to plan for the future.


After chronic abuse of alcohol or drugs, those in recovery often still bear some of the effects: poor physical condition, not eating properly, disturbed sleep patterns, or other self-destructive acts. Some replace one addiction with another. They may start smoking cigarettes when they never smoked before, eat compulsively, or engage in other addictive behaviors. Imaging helps you avoid this by devoting attention to improving fitness, practicing meditation, focusing on better breathing techniques, and learning better eating habits. With a healthier body, the mind and body connection is stronger, and planning for the future becomes a more viable possibility.

Many recovering addicts are beaten in spirit, even though they’ve completed treatment and are abstaining from drugs and alcohol. They don’t feel worthy of a good future. Their spirit is weighed down with the accumulation of guilt, shame, remorse, and the injustices they have done to others, real or imagined. Imaging realigns the spirit, helping the recovering addict gain an increased awareness that we all deserve to be happy, to be productive members of society, to go after our goals, and to be at peace. In short, imaging helps you to reaffirm your goodness of spirit, which fosters the ability to make plans for your brighter future.

meditation

How to Start Imaging

You can begin by meditating for a few minutes every day, morning and evening. While
many people may think meditation is some mystical process and shrug it off as nonsense, the truth is that it’s really as simple as closing your eyes and blocking out all thoughts, breathing in and out deeply, and concentrating every ounce of your being on the sound and rhythm of your breath. Do this for a period of five minutes. It’s also helpful to engage in this practice when you become overstressed or feel you can’t deal with a potential trigger or craving to drink or use.

There are books you can borrow at the library or buy at a bookstore on meditation. You can also listen to CDs or DVDs that help calm your spirit and your random thoughts. Or you can participate in therapeutic imaging, a psychotherapeutic approach that is offered in some parts of the country. Ask your aftercare counselor or therapist for recommendations for such treatment or investigate holistic therapy or alternative therapy groups in your area.

Imaging Techniques

Imaging techniques vary but should consist of the following:

• Be open to new concepts
• Recognize that people are different and be accepting of everyone
• Be willing to change your perceptions about your future
• Explore ways to help change your perceptions
• Learn to investigate facts, rather than blindly accept things as true
• Admit that you can have a better future and that you deserve it
• Repeat positive imaging practices, such as daily reminders of self-worth, meditation, and other relaxation techniques
• Create new ways of handling your daily situations, especially stressful ones
• Recognize that what works for another may not work for you – you are an individual with unique needs
• Be open to lifting and awakening your spirit, your inner being, your true self

Whether you participate in a group, structured counseling, or do it by yourself, imaging in any of the above forms can help you to create a future that you desire. The best thing about the future is that it is always available before us. We can be the architect of tomorrow – by laying the groundwork today through imaging.

And You’ll Keep Tripping…

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“Today I saw my psychologist and he asked me if I hallucinate or hear voices. I told him that once a week— at the least— I see things, patterns, lights. He asked me to explain so I told him of the most recent visual parade that happened a couple days ago: I was sitting in the car waiting for my mom, staring out over the lake until I noticed tens, maybe hundreds of lights were gliding along the span of trees, perfectly parallel. I explained to him how I thought immediately that this was some sort of hallucination that just needed a double-take, but no matter how I adjusted my eyes or moved my head they were still there— crystal clear. However, he assured me that this was not a hallucination, ‘its an LSD flashback.’ WTF? Its been months since my last trip! So curiosity drives me to find out more and thats what we have for today. This is an article from LCDAddiction.us (which is a great site full of helpful information) that outlines what this phenomena could mean.” -Love, Robyn
Tree Trip

An acid flashback occurs when a person who has used LSD in the past experiences the effects of acid use, such as hallucinations, without taking the drug again. They can occur days or even years after the person used LSD. Acid flashbacks may occur only once, or they may be persistent and interfere with a person’s ability to function in daily tasks.

A person experiencing an acid flashback may see colors or spots that aren’t there or may see things in a distorted way, such as with halos or trails of light. Acid flashbacks more rarely cause people to hear things that aren’t real. The person experiencing acid flashbacks may not be able to tell what is real and what is not, and they may feel like they are high on LSD again. Like the effects of LSD, acid flashbacks vary from person to person and are very unpredictable and often frightening.

When acid flashbacks continue and interfere with daily life this is known as hallucinogen-induced persistent perception disorder (HPPD). The most common type of HPPD occurs when a person’s normal vision is often disrupted by flashbacks, such as seeing spots or trails of light frequently, though it can be more serious and interfere with a person’s perception of reality.

Scientists aren’t sure what causes acid flashbacks or HPPD, but there are several theories:

  • The brain may be damaged by LSD use, causing it to misfire and send incorrect signals
  • The way the brain functions and perceives information may be changed by LSD use, such as being much more sensitive to light and therefore seeing halos or trails
  • The drug or some portion of it may be stored in the body or brain and released again later

Not everyone who uses LSD has acid flashbacks, but because LSD has very unpredictable effects it’s hard to know if a person will have flashbacks and when the acid flashbacks will occur. Some factors that seem to increase the chances of a person having flashbacks include:

  • Heavy or frequent LSD use
  • Bad LSD trips
  • Marijuana use
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Existing mental illnesses or personality disorders
  • Use of certain prescription drugs, like anti-depressants
  • Being susceptible to suggestion

These risk factors do not give a clear indication of who will experience an acid flashback, however, since even a healthy person who only uses LSD once may experience acid flashbacks.

There is no cure for acid flashbacks. Some medications, such as anti-seizure drugs, have been used in flashback or HPPD treatment, but perhaps because of the unpredictability of acid flashbacks doctors have not yet found a definite cure for all acid flashback sufferers.

Character Defect Meditation

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“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

When thinking about step six, even if your not there yet, it can be troubling. Who wants to name all of their character defects? Its not nice to point out other peoples flaws and its certainly not fun pointing out your own. Thats why I went looking for another way we can handle working through this step. Something that will give us courage but most importantly: serenity. Below you will find some adjectives that you might use to describe any number of your faults. I suggest picking a few of the most dominant traits to start with. Then there is a step-by-step guided meditation practice. Give it a look over and try it out loud first. Then, when your ready , you can really dig deep and spend some time with yourself and your thoughts. Relax and observe yourself. There is no fear, there is no tension. It’s just you and complete, utter, honesty.” -Best of luck, Robyn

List of Possible Character Defects:

  • anger, hatred
  • anxiety – Not as a clinical diagnosis, but as a general way of viewing things with an eye toward what is wrong, what might be wrong, what has been wrong or what is going to be wrong. Excessive worry, especially about things I cannot change.
  • arrogance – Offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.
  • closed mindedness – Contempt prior to investigation. Disregarding things and ideas just because they are new and unknown. Being unwilling to try things or follow suggestions. Failing to remain teachable.  Having a mind firmly unreceptive to new ideas or arguments.
  • dependency, over dependency, co dependency – Relying on others to provide for us what we ought to provide for ourselves. Feeling we must be in a relationship, or must hold on to others who want to move on. Letting others control us to an extreme due to our fear of being alone, abandoned, or independent.
  • depression, pessimism – Not as a clinical condition, but as a way to generally see the dark side of things.
  • dishonesty – Sins of omission and commission. Telling lies, hiding things, telling half truths or pretending something is so that isn’t. Withholding important information. Adding untrue details to stories and situations.  Stealing, cheating, taking things that aren’t ours and that we aren’t entitled to.
  • controlling attitude toward people, places and things – Trying to control others by manipulation, bribery, punishment, withholding things or tricking them into acting as we wish, even when we believe it is in their best interest to do so. Failing to be equal partners with others and to consider their knowledge and opinions.
  • fear
  • gluttony, greed – Wanting and taking too much: food, sex, time, money, comfort, leisure, material possessions, attention, security.  Acquiring things (material things, relationships, attention) at the expense of others.
  • gossiping – Speaking or writing about others in a negative manner, especially to get them in trouble or to feel superior to them and bond with someone else against the target of the gossip.  When I find myself talking about someone, I must pause and check out why I am mentioning their name.
  • humility, a lack of humility – Feeling better than and worse than others, and being self centered.
  • impatience – Being frustrated by waiting, wanting often to be some time in the future, wanting something to change or improve rather than accepting it as it is.
  • intolerance – Not accepting people or things for who or what they are.
  • inventory taking, being judgmental – Noticing and listing, out loud or to ourselves, the faults of others.
  • jealousy and envy – Wanting what others have, feeling we don’t have enough or deserve more, wishing we had what others do instead of them. This applies to material possessions like houses, cars, money and such. It also applies to nonmaterial things like relationships, a nice family, children, parents, friends and partners, and fulfilling work relationships. We can envy others their looks and physical appearance, their talents and physical abilities or attributes such as thinness, tallness, sports ability or musical talent.
  • laziness, procrastination, sloth – Not doing as much as is reasonable for us to do. Putting things off repeatedly. Not carrying our own load as much as we are able. Letting others provide things for us that we ought to get for ourselves.
  • perfectionism – Expecting or demanding too much from ourselves or others. Treating things that aren’t perfect as not good enough. Not recognizing a good try or progress.
  • prejudice – Pre-judging people based on a group they belong to. Negative feelings about someone based on their religion, race, nationality, age, disability, sexual orientation, accent, politics, economic status, physical characteristics like height, weight, hair style, clothing style, physical fitness.
  • rationalization, minimizing and justifying, self-justification – Saying and/or believing I had good motives for bad behavior.  Saying that I did bad things for good reasons, or that what I did really wasn’t that bad.
  • resentment – The feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.
  • rigidity and fear of change
  • self centeredness, selfishness – Spending excessive time thinking about myself. Considering myself first in situations. Not having enough regard for others or thinking about how circumstances hurt or help others. Thinking about what I can get out of situations and people, what’s in it for me? Spending too much time considering my appearance, acquiring things for myself, pampering myself, indulging myself.
  • self pity

From a blog by Lydia at Don’t Drink and Don’t Die

Meditation

Step Six Meditation:Uncover and detach from our defects

1. Relaxation, Centering and Aligning with our Higher Power

  • Let’s begin our meditation as before by getting comfortable and listening to our breath. Feel the clean light-filled air on the inhale filling your lungs and body with goodness and love. Exhale deeply and visualize all sickness and negativity leaving your lungs and body with the breath.
  • I relax and I let go. Repeat this phrase in rhythm with your breathing and feel the tension release from your body, your emotions and your mind.
  • I let go and I let God ( or use the word – Love).  Continue your path towards relaxation by using this mantra as you breath. Concentrate on the words and imagine all of the day-to-day stuff that you can let go of and turn over to your Higher Power. Begin focusing on your heart center. Imagine a white light glowing in your chest that is warm and full of love. Remember that this heart center is your connection to Higher Power and to the Universe and all of the good is available to you.
  • “I offer myself to my Higher Power.” Become aware of how this surrender affirmation feels and what images you can use to support this affirmation.

2. Dis-identification exercise

  • “I have a body, but I am not my body.  My body may find it self in different conditions of health or sickness; it may be rested or tired, but that has nothing to do with my SpiritSelf, my real ‘I.’ My body is my precious instrument of experience and of action in the outer world, but it is only an instrument. I treat it well; I seek to keep it in good physical condition, but it is not myself. I have a bodybut I am not my body.
  • I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.  These emotions are countless, contradictory, changing, and yet I know that I always remain I, my SpiritSelf, in times of hope or despair, in joy or in pain, in a state of irritation or of calm. Since I can observe, understand, and judge my emotions, and then increasingly dominate, direct, and utilize them, it is evident that they are not myself. I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.
  • “I have desires, but I am not my desires, aroused by drives, physical and emotional, and by outer influences. Desires too are changeable and contradictory, with alterations of attractions and repulsions. I have desires but they are not myself.
  • “I have a mind, but I am not my mind. It is more or less developed and active; it is undisciplined but teachable; it is an organ of knowledge in regard to the outer world as well as the inner; but it is not my SpiritSelf. Ihave a mind, but I am not my mind.

3. Let’s begin our work with one of our defects. I suggest that you select 1 defect to reflect on in each meditation. You may need to work for a number of meditations on one specific defect to help detach from it. Hold in your mind the defect that you wish to share with your Higher Power in the Sunlight of the Spirit.

  • have (this defect), but I am not (this defect.)  Visualize this defect as separate and detached from you. Repeat this affirmation adding any visualizations or emotions that will help to support this for you.
  • Next let’s work to replace this defective quality with a higher, positive spiritual quality.   You may substitute any word for the spiritual quality or virtue that expresses the opposite of the defect into this affirmation.
    • “I am the “(insert spiritual quality)” of my Higher Power in action.”  Repeat it over and over with in rhythm with your breathing in your meditation. You may wish to add a visualization to accompany the affirmation that reinforces and imprints the energy of the quality within you.  In this way we begin to weed out the defects within our Spiritual Garden and replace them with the fruits and flowers of our virtues.

4. I am a Spiritual Being. Imagine being free of all that is weighing you down emotionally, mentally and physically. I am one with my Higher Power, connected in my heart center, I now rest in this conscious contact and oneness with my Higher Power.

5. End your meditation slowly. Open your eyes and look around the room. Sit quietly for several minutes.

Please do not get discouraged and give up. This is practice. You will think that you are not being very productive, that you are distracted and not doing it right. Persist through this. Be consistent. You will discover the fruits of your meditation over time. The first goal achieved will be emotional balance, , emotional sobriety, a calm within the storm of our thoughts and emotions. Stick with it.

From 11th Step Mediation, The Sixth Step

Massage and Recovery from Addiction

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“This article was written in 2005 and since then there have been hundred of other studies that have shown the same results: massage helps people. You don’t have to be at a resort or use the excuse of you Birthday to get a massage. The simple excuse of being human is enough. Everyone can benefit from the holistic treatment of massage therapy. And I’m not just saying this because I am a certifiedcpractitioner, I’m saying it because its true. Massage has not only physical but mental benefits as well. In this article you’ll find how massage therapy can help promote a greater sense of well being while in recovery from active addiction. The informat of is backed up by facts that are hard to ignore. You may want to consider taking the money that used to be spent on drugs and alcohol to put towards a weekly treatment. Look for a local massage therapist and ask them about possible discounts that can be given if you schedule a regular session. Let them know your condition and work with them to start your healing process.” -With endless love, Robyn

Massage

Substance abuse is a major public health problem. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, substance abuse costs our nation more than $484 billion per year. This includes costs related to crime, medical care, treatment, social welfare programs, and time lost from work.

Comprehensive treatment for the addicted individual is the key to turning this health crisis around. In the October 2003 edition of Counselor, The Magazine for Addiction Professionals, Joni Kosakoski, BSN, RN, CARN gives us the fuel to propel massage therapists into the realm of drug and alcohol treatment. In her article “Massage: Hands Down, a Treatment for Addiction”, Kosakoski gives us a clear and concise analysis of massage’s benefits for this population and its place in addiction treatment.

Incorporating massage into a substance abuse program is advantageous in all of the stages of quitting an addiction: withdrawal, detoxification and abstinence. The physical, emotional and spiritual components of recovery all can be directly benefited by the healing power of therapeutic touch. The nurturing contact of massage utilizes skin as the translator of the therapist’s intent. Skin, the largest sensory organ in our body, is our primary sense for connecting information from our external surroundings to our internal environment.

The Touch Research Institute in Miami, Florida has performed scientific research documenting the physiological effects of massage on the body. Kosakoski reminds us of some of their findings on massage such as decreased pain, diminished autoimmune response, enhanced immune response, and increased alertness and performance. These effects appear to be related to massage’s ability to reduce cortisol, a stress hormone, as reported by the Touch Research Institute in 2003. Several of the Touch Research Institute’s studies positively document the ability of massage to decrease anxiety, depression, agitation, and cravings.

In order to understand the connection between massage therapy and its benefit in addiction treatment, Kosakoski explains the neurological biochemistry of addiction: “Much attention has been directed to the mesolimbic reward system, the so-called ‘pleasure pathway’ of the brain. The area is activated in part by the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, the chemical messenger responsible for making us feel good when we engage in any pleasurable activity. It is well known that dopamine is significantly involved in addiction and that dopamine levels are lower than average during the withdrawal process and into early recovery until brain chemistry normalizes.”

In 1998, the Touch Research Institute published the findings that a regular massage regimen produced long-term results of increasing dopamine levels. The fact that massage naturally increases dopamine levels, and decreases cortisol levels makes it a perfect addition to a standard detoxification program.

The neurochemistry of an addict takes time to get back into balance, so massage treatments after the initial detoxification phase is crucial. When a person uses a substance to feel good, his/her body stops manufacturing its own “feel good” chemicals, (endorphins), and the substance takes over that task. Therefore, when a person quits using an abused substance, they lose their source of feeling good. Since it takes time for the body to start manufacturing its own endorphins again, this is a challenging interim to endure. This interim is the recovering addict’s most vulnerable time to relapse.

In the 1989 edition of General Pharmacology, Kaada and Torsteinbo of Norway reported on study results that massage therapy increased the amount of beta-endorphins in the blood by 16 percent. The release of endorphins during a massage allows the recipient to feel normal, even fantastic, without the aid of a drug. This can be a powerful, even life-changing experience for the client.

On a physical level, the circulation that occurs with massage is also a desired occurrence during the detoxification process. Therapeutic massage’s invigoration of blood and lymphatic fluid allows for a more efficient exchange of oxygen rich nutrition into the body’s tissues, and the delivery of toxic waste products out of the body’s tissues. Kosakoski adds that “All systems of the body function more efficiently with improved circulation and a reduction in tension of the soft tissues and musculature…”

On an emotional level, part of an addict’s recovery process is learning to identify and manage the triggers that cause them to desire escape. Regular massage sessions can aid the client’s awareness of his or her own body, including where and when tension exists. Being conscious of these patterns is a step toward recognizing one’s own resistance, which can lead to healthfully addressing emotions associated with cravings and stress. In addition Kosakoski says that “Emotional release can commonly occur with massage, which provides a safe, non-threatening opportunity to begin the process of recovering long-buried emotions and memories.”

On a spiritual level, the deep relaxation of a massage can provide a still inner place for the recipient to connect with themselves. Being grounded, centered and fully present can be experienced when receiving therapeutic touch from a grounded, centered and fully present practitioner. A recovering addict has a whole new world opened to them when they acknowledge that they can simultaneously be anchored, present, feel good and be substance-free. As Kosakoski explains, “To allow oneself to surrender to the practitioner’s hands — to breathe fully and easily, to acknowledge and receive the gifts of nurturing, surrender and relaxation ….is an invaluable addition to the newly recovering person’s repertoire of relapse-prevention skills.”

Massage has the unique ability to affect all of our layers of being — from the spiritual plane all the way up to and including our body’s chemical composition. In the process of abandoning an addiction, these many parts of ourselves become fragmented. It is merely a matter of time before all addiction and recovery treatment programs recognize massage’s ability to mend the mind-body connection. When that happens, therapeutic massage will be integrated into addiction treatment, and clients will be optimally prepared to succeed in their recovery.

From IntergrativeHealthcare.org

9 Ways to Heal Depression Holistically

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“This was an article I stumbled upon from Natural News a few days back. Its written by Mike Bundrant who was able to compile this brilliantly inspiring list of ways to heal depression on the physical and psychological planes using holistic methods. Including reasoning that has been discussed within several strong sources, Bundrant explores the concepts of transforming mind and invigorating the body through 9 simple steps.” -Enjoy, Robyn

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As you pursue natural remedies for depression, it is important to understand that depression has both physical and psychological components.

To be happy, healthy and enthused about life, you must get both your mind and body balanced. Falling into a depressed state, however, only requires that one element of your body or mind is out of balance.

The following nine natural ways to combat depression are broken down into physical and psychological elements.

Healing psychological components of depression

1. A future worth embracing

Your perception of the future has a lot to do with your emotional state. An exciting future naturally produces feelings of enthusiasm. A blank future can produce feelings of uncertainty or anxiety. In fact, panic is often called a complete ‘future blowout.’ The future is gone, which means it all ends right here!

People who suffer with depression often report a seeing a future in which they do not want to participate.

This factor alone is enough to make anyone feel down. If you took the healthiest person and mentally installed an unacceptable future into her mind, she would immediately begin to feel discouraged and eventually depressed.

If your future is not what you want it to be, then it is imperative that you consider your options.

What are your goals?
Are you living someone else’s idea of the good life?
Do you feel you deserve to create the life you want?
What skills, training or education do you need to feel excited about your future?

You may wonder if depression causes you to perceive an uninspiring future or if an uninspiring future creates a depressed state. BOTH are true.

2. Relationships that fulfill

The evidence is in. Bad primary relationships correlate with high depression. It doesn’t appear to matter how good your physical health is. If you are in a stressful, unhappy relationship, you will be stressed and unhappy.

Being in great physical health does NOT mean that you make good decisions about people, money, business or other factors that also determine your quality of life and state of mind.

A happy mood goes with fulfilling relationships and vice-versa. Learn the relationship skills that support happiness. Don’t get stuck or cling to bad relationships! They wear on your psyche and your body.

Sometimes, in the throes of a painful relationship, you blame yourself and think you are broken. I did this for years. It was the untenable relationship that was the source of my angst. Yes, I was still participating in the problem, but when I finally ended that particular relationship, I was freed.

You can’t just blame others, but you should absolutely consider that feeling trapped in a relationship is depressing in its own right. Check out some of the little known reasons why people stay in bad relationships.

3. A friendly mind

It seems to be universal – the human tendency to self-condemn. Do you live with a critical voice inside their head that punishes you and warns you (irrationally) that you will fail?

Does it feel like no matter what you do or where you are, you ruin your mood with inner negativity and pessimism? This is your inner critic at work.

Healing that critical voice in your head requires making friends with it. This is a part of you that won’t rest until you come to terms with self-sabotage. Most people need help with this, but here is a video you can watch that offers a great little method to calm down your inner critic.

4. A present mind

Most people live inside their heads, with thoughts that meander in the past and the future. You worry about what might happen in the future. You obsess about what already happened in the past. You do anything but enter the here and now.

Interestingly, many people simply do not know how to enter the present moment. Getting to the Now is easily achieved by grounding yourself through sound. Best of all, you don’t need special equipment.

Your environment is filled with white noise. The hum of your computer, the sound of a blowing fan or running refrigerator, the smooth sounds of running water. All these and more are actually hidden portals into the present moment.

When you tune in exclusively to white noise, your brain responds in the most amazing manner. The brain’s Default Mode Network, responsible for self-referential, autopilot thinking, switches OFF. Then, your brain grounds itself in a new consciousness that is clear and peaceful.

This is has been proven through fMRI scans, which you can read about in the March 2010 issue ofScientific American magazine.

Natural remedies for physical depression

5. Vitamin D fights depression (and so much more)

Vitamin D is said to be one of the most underrated nutrients of all time. Vitamin D is a steroid hormone precursor. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. As you can tell, this is an essential vitamin the body needs to stay healthy.

In 2006 the CDC concluded that one fourth of the population is Vitamin D deficient. Canadian researchers have done 14 studies with 31,424 participants that all prove the strong correlation to Vitamin D and depression.

In 2006, a study on 80 elderly people showed that those who lacked Vitamin D were 11 times more prone to depression – a number that is shocking, considering most people would never link this vitamin to such a serious disorder.

Safe sun exposure may help raise Vitamin D levels. Being outside with no sunscreen can actually be good for your body. Of course, supplements can also be taken and are proven to help as well.

6. Omega 3 fatty acids

Researchers have noticed that a sharp rise in depression occurred as people consume less omega 3 fatty acids and more processed foods.

A Columbus University study analyzed 59 patients diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, 18 of which also suffered from Cormobid Anxiety Disorder.

Low levels of omega 3 prevailed among the study group, but were most pronounced in those suffering from anxiety and depression. Although is it not on the front line for treating depression, it is a way to attack it from another angle.

By treating a different area of the brain associated with depression, it can be an effective method for the right patient.

7. Sam-e

Sam-e is a naturally occurring compound found in almost every element in the body. It helps the immune system, maintains cell membranes, and produces and breakdown chemicals in the brain such as serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine.

Research indicates that Sam-e treatment is more effective than placebo in treating mild to moderate depression. It works more quickly and is just as effective as prescribed medications without the headaches, sleepiness, sexual dysfunction, and other side effects that occur.

Unfortunately. Sam-e cannot be found in food, but it can be prescribed in capsules if you consult with your healthcare provider.

8. Heavy metals – a rarely discussed cause of depression

Heavy metal toxicity can disturb brain chemistry, which can cause anxiety and depression, and can also weaken your immunity.

Heavy metals, such as mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, mad aluminum affect different chemicals in your brain that are associated with depression. Examples of these would be GABA, which contributes to anxiety and a dull intelligence, dopamine, which gives the brain energy and motivation, and acetylcholine, which makes the brain sharp and have good memory.

Ridding the body of the excess heavy metals that harm vital brain chemistry involves balancing mineral antagonists. This dislodges the metals from the tissues into the blood with cheating agents that bind the metals in the blood and prevent them from being re-deposited elsewhere, so the kidneys can properly excrete them.

9. Amino acid therapy to balance brain chemistry

Depression and anxiety can occur when there is an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, and amino acids are the building blocks of neurotransmitters.

By giving the body specific therapeutic doses of amino acids, we are giving the body the raw materials it needs so it can feed the pathway of neurotransmitter production and balance out the chemicals in the brain.

For serotonin, 5-HTP or tryptophan can be used. For GABA, doses of GABA can be used. Both of these help soothe and calm the brain, which is helpful with depression, anxiety, and also insomnia.

Amino acid therapy is a method that was discovered in the early 1900’s and used up until the 1980’s when other methods, such as SSRI’s became more popular.

Amino acids can be used in place of antidepressants and don’t have the harsh side effects. With a doctor’s supervision, it is proven to be a powerful method in overcoming depression.

6 Science-Based Tips For A Healthy & Happy Brain

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“This is an article from one of my favourite sites: http://www.mindbodygreen.com! They share some helpful and inspiring information about living a happier holistic life. I stubbled upon one article today that caught my eye. Having an addiction or disorder can send out brains into chemical imbalance. Thats why its important to change your diet to promote brain health. Here are some tips!” -Love, Robyn

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Our society is experiencing an epidemic of chronic brain problems. An estimated 40 million people in the United States experience some sort of anxiety-related disorder. As many as 30 million suffer from depression.

The use of antidepressants doubled from 1995 to 2005, and they’re now the most prescribed drugs on the market. There’s been a twentyfold increase in attention-deficit drug consumption over the past 30 years. Autism now affects 1 in 88 children. From anxiety, attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and autism to brain fog, dementia, depression and mood swings, one thing is clear: we have a rapidly growing mental health problem.

What is the mainstream medical system’s answer? As with most chronic conditions, its solution is to diagnose a disease or condition and match it with a corresponding pharmaceutical drug. In Functional Medicine, my goal is to clinically investigate the underlying, unlooked, and uninvestigated factors that are at play in chronic health issues such as these and to naturally address them.

Obviously conditions like these are complex, and there’s no easy answer. Below I’ve laid out some great pieces of the puzzle for optimal brain health. They’re a great starting point, and are not intended to be quick fixes.

The tips and tools below are not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill advice that you’ve heard a million times. Most people know they should be eating more vegetables; that’s a given. I wanted to give you the best, fresh plan for promoting a healthy brain, and to push you out of your comfort zone and into optimal health:

1. Eggs

This incredible, edible superfood is one of the most unjustly and inaccurately persecuted foods, ever! The yolk of the egg gets a particularly bad rap, but the yolk contains the majority of the eggs nutrients. I see so many well-intentioned people throw out the yolk or buy egg whites because they’re fat-phobic.

From a health perspective, this is very misguided. The yolk is so rich in nutrients for your brain that a separate article could be devoted to the topic. The yolk is truly nature’s multivitamin. Organic, pastured eggs from chickens who roam outside in the sunlight offer us essential brain food like choline. Choline has a variety of functions for healthy brain function, including the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and cell-membrane signaling, which is needed for all hormone function. Symptoms of choline deficiency include fatigue, insomnia and memory problems. Pastured egg yolks are also rich in omega-3 fats which are essential for a healthy brain.

As with all meat and dairy, not all eggs are created equal. Pasture-raised eggs have been shown to contain three times more of the brain beneficial omega-3 fats than supermarket eggs!

2. Organ meats

A second real food multivitamin is organ meat. Powerhouse superfoods, like liver, have been consumed by abundantly healthy societies throughout history, but now are eaten sparingly in modern Western society. The liver is a storage organ for many important brain nutrients, like vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron. A great way to get these nutrients is through a liver pate. Fermented cod liver oil is also a great option, and comes in different forms like gels and capsules if you want to take it in a whole-food supplement form.

3. Bone broth

To have a healthy brain, you need to have a healthy gut! The two are inextricably linked through nerve pathways. It’s no coincidence that your gut is also called “The Second Brain:” 95% of your serotonin, your feel-good hormone, is made and stored in your gut. Conditions like leaky gut syndrome and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can have damaging effects on your entire body. The connection between your gut and your brain (gut-brain axis) has been linked to depression, anxiety and autism. Bone broth is one of the best foods you can consume for a healthy gut. This nutrient-rich liquid is filled with collagen, which acts like a healing ointment to a stressed-out inflamed gut.

4. Coconut oil

This amazing food can do wonders for your brain health. A study in the journal Neurobiology of Aging suggested that medium-chain triglycerides, like those found in coconut oil, improved cognitive function among older folks with memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease. The amazing thing in this research was that cognitive function was improved almost immediately following ingestion of the medium-chain triglycerides!

5. Grass-fed dairy

Your brain is made up of 60% fat and contains more cholesterol than any other organ in your body, yet we were raised to avoid these two essential brain nutrients. In addition to this, the cell membranes of our body, where your hormones communicate, are lined with the same components of saturated fat and cholesterol. That’s why it’s important to acquire these nutrients through your diet, and high-quality dairy is a good way to do that.

Dairy should always be grass fed, organic, and preferably raw. Fermented dairy like kefir is also a good option. The healthy fats of grass-fed dairy are where all the brain food is, so avoid low fat! Two fats that your brain wants and needs are saturated fats and arachidonic acid, both of which can be found in grass-fed dairy. Another nutrient your brain craves is vitamin K2, which is critical for the formation of the myelin sheath and the nerves in the brain. We get this power nutrient from the fat of grass-fed animals, the very food that’s disappeared from our modern low-fat diet.

6. Sunlight

It’s no secret that a lot of people are deficient in vitamin D. Our culture lathers up with toxic sunscreens and avoids the sun like the plague. But moderate sun exposure is healthy for most people. Vitamin D has many jobs, and one of them is its critical role in making your endorphins.

If you live in places that don’t always have strong sunlight, or if you work inside a lot, then get your vitamin D from the foods you eat. When we consume the dairies and fats listed above, from animals who live outside in the sunlight, they will have plenty ofvitamin D in their fats.

As I’ve said earlier, these are pieces of the puzzle to regain your health, not the entire picture. Hormonal imbalances, food intolerances, chronic infections, toxicity, and nutritional deficiencies are all factors that need to be investigated for the individual. Acomprehensive health program tailored for you and your unique needs will be necessary to create sustainable results. In Part II of this series on natural mental health, I will give you the top things you will want to get rid of for a healthy brain.

5 Steps to Begin Your Yoga Regime!

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“I have spoken to a lot of people about what keeps them going in their recovery and what keeps them stable (if they struggle with anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar and/or schizophrenia). Many of them mention exercise and yoga but fail to mention any regular practice. Always noting how they may not have time, aren’t flexible enough or just have a hard time getting in that state of mind. But these are just excuses! The fact is that anyone can do yoga and it doesn’t have to even be an hour long practice. We should try our best to take time to zone in on your presence, inside and out. Bringing such awareness is a form of meditation and one of the most popular ways to cope with disease and addiction. However, addict or not, this kind of centering can start a day on the right foot with a positive outlook on life or end the day in bliss and serenity. Take a look at these 5 tips that will get you started with your regular practice. It’s worth a trial run and I think you may be able to see what so many others have discovered about themselves through this method of holistic healing.” -Love and light, Robyn

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1. Remember that there’s no such thing as being “good at yoga.”

Being “good” at yoga postures (asana) is something that doesn’t exist. Remember, yoga is a practice that helps us to deeply explore ourselves while learning to quiet the mind. Allow yourself to grow with your asana, with your practice, and just let go! There’s enough pressure everywhere to be good, to be perfect, to get it right — let yoga bring out the wild reckless abandon of your heart! Close your eyes, and flow.

2. Don’t think; just practice.

This gem, whispered into my ear by Sri Dharma Mittra while I was avoiding crow, has transformed my life. I have found that talking about going to yoga usually keeps me from actually going to yoga. Turn on autopilot, get yourself there, and let the rest come. Showing up is the hardest part!

3. Know that no one is judging you.

If, as you first enter a studio, you feel the vibe doesn’t suit you, kindly and gracefully leave (before class begins). Yoga is energetics, and it’s your right to feel comfortable and welcome in the space you’ve chosen for your practice. You’ll be able to tell as soon as you walk in if it’s the place for you.

If you’ve found the perfect space but still find yourself worrying during down dog that everyone is judging you, remember that others are also practicing and are unable to look at you, let alone judge you. Breathe into the collective consciousness and let your mat to be a personal and private oasis.

4. Be kind to your body and yourself!

Ease in! The way we treat our bodies during yoga is a manifestation of how we feel about ourselves. Don’t be unkind to your hamstring because it’s tighter than you’d like. Instead, grant your muscle compassion and breath, and it will open. There are times I don’t practice for a week, and when I begin again I’m not as strong or flexible. That’s OK! I allow myself to be exactly where I am, and before I know it, my strength and flexibility return. Only the internal dialogue of chastisement can keep you from enhancing your practice — nothing else! Simply start and be kind to yourself.

5. Practice non-judgment, presence and patience.

Choose to go into your practice with an open mind and an open heart. The first class I went to was pure torture and I wanted to leave, but I stayed out of respect for the teacher and other students. I’ll never forget leaving that first practice, thinking, “I’m NEVER coming back.” But then I found myself on the city streets, feeling something vital had taken place and that already I was different. I haven’t looked back since.

Don’t judge the practice, don’t decide it’s not working or that nothing is happening, Welcome yoga in and let the poses take you somewhere magnificent, just as they’ve done for thousands of people for thousands of years. You have every right to a holy yoga practice! You deserve to communicate deeply with your body, to strengthen inside and out, and to change all that does not serve you.

Steps from MindBodyGreen.com

Progress, Not Perfection

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Many of us have a hard time realizing the progress we make in recovery. We often make the mistake of only focusing on the negative outcomes that would occur if we started using again and not the positives that come from never picking up. When we get trapped in the emotions such as fear, we end up getting caught in a black hole of pity. That is no way to live in recovery. We have to remain optimistic and push forward, always reminding ourselves that the future can only get better from here.

Wherever this moment is to you, it was not your rock bottom. Whatever your rock bottom was, even if you didn’t wind up in a jail or an institution, you don’t have to keep at it  until you do. Why go on digging when you can crawl out from this present point? No matter where your life has taken you, it can progress. That is, if you want it to.

As we recover we start to realize how important it is for us to admit complete willingness to the program. Without that drive to let go and let God, to admit our faults and honestly confined in one another, progress may never come. When we can learn to heal ourselves on the inside, we will start to notice our external worries fade away. Opportunities will arise and dreams that were once lost can come true. So long as we trust in our decisions now and know that they will lead to fulfillment in the future, we can do anything we set our mind to.

A mistake we may make is pushing towards a goal that is too big for us while we are in recovery. We have to remember to take it one step at a time and that progress is not perfection. With everyday we can work slow and steady towards our goals, never letting ourselves spin out of control with those thoughts that make us feel so worthless, when we just can’t see how much we have already achieved. Our growth is like that of a tree. We gain strength, build a  a strong and stable trunk (or mind) so we can branch out with courage when we reach out for help and to help. We will progress and we can succeed. The sky is the limit.

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The other day at a meeting, a young man had expressed he was struggling with temptations after 90 days of sobriety. He was scared. He was so afraid of what that would mean for him. His thoughts warped around ideas of disappointment and failure as a father and husband. I turned to him and told him what I mentioned above about the positives of sobriety. Another woman chirped in and said, “As far as I can tell, you won.” The man and I looked at her, he chuckled and smiled saying, “I guess I did.” He won because, just for today, he didn’t pick up. He was able to surf the wave of cravings and just say no. He did it, and so can you and I.

We don’t have to be idles of AA, NA or CA but we can set an example by following the steps and recognizing our achievements. Even the little things– like not picking up today, going to work or having an honest relationship with a friend or significant other–  can open our awareness, allowing us to express gratitude and pride in our recovery.

– Love and light, Robyn