chakraThe practice of Yoga has gained an immense popularity over the last few decades.  There are classes in gyms everywhere in small rural areas to cosmopolitan centers.  Among the benefits of participating consistently  in a well instructed class are good alignment, improved breathing and more spiritual connection (alignment through the Chakra system).  This last part is often forgotten or completely overlooked because yoga is often represented as simply another form of exercise.  Yoga means path or way.  The practice of the Asanas (poses in yoga) are meant as a way to connect to one’s center,  to source energy and spirit. Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice that effects your body, mind and spirit by practicing balance, strength and focus as we connect to the chakra system.  The words Yoga and Chakra were taken over by a flighty new age perspective at one point -it is important to reclaim them as they are refreshingly structured and grounded.  They are concepts that have been around for thousands of years and for good reasons.

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band aidOn the playground there can unfortunately be many accidents both big and small.  Often there is no ice or first aid immediately available.  This is a simple first aid visualization one can use to help soothe a child until (you) can get home.  Of course for major injuries call 911 or go to the hospital or call your pediatrician.  This is for minor injuries that require TLC (Tender loving care) and a band aid (aka boo-boo’s and ouchies:)

When there is an accident often for moments long after the actual incident took place, people are coming up to you with concern asking what happened?  Then you are forced along with your child to go over it again and again for them.  This keeps the child returning to that painful or scary incident and not moving forward into the healing.  I have personally observed this and actually heard one dad shout out ‘hey, call a plastic surgeon”.  He was of course using humor to alleviate the situation but it was a little brash for a three year old and her mom.

For an excellent explanation of why we instinctively rub on an injury(not an open wound) see below:

“In 1965 the “Gate Control Theory” was proposed by Melzack and Wall.  It explained the relationship between pain and emotion.  According to this theory, there is a hypothetical gating mechanism occurring at the level of the spinal chord- a “gate” through which pain impulses reach the lateral spinothalmic system.  Painful impulses are transmitted by large-diameter and small diameter nerve fibers.  Stimulation of large-diameter fibers prevents the small-diameter fibers from transmitting signals.  Stimulating (rubbing, massaging) these fibers helps to suppress the sensation of pain, especially sharp pain.  Many parents and small children seem to know this instinctively.  They rub the injured spot, thus activating large-diameter fibers.  These fibers also carry a faster signal.  In essence, massage sensations win the race to the brain, and the pain sensations are blocked out because the gate is closed.” Source:  Mosby’s Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage by Sandy Fritz

Here’s a technique to use when you want to help your child move past the accident and feel empowered that they are on their way to feeling better.  Explain to them that they have teeny tiny microscopic helpers inside their bodies that are working right now to help them feel better.  Explain ‘microscopic” as so tiny that you can’t see them (it is very cute to hear them pronounce microscopic).  There are thousands even millions of them.  This gives them a positive image to hang on to if they are still replaying the initial injury and pain in their minds over and over.  This constant replaying of the accident can also be a reaction from well meaning people asking what happened and then having to explain it as your child relives “the spill”.  Now they can respond how they have microscopic helpers and feel more empowered.  It also gives them something positive to focus on rather than the accident itself.

Using our imagination to call upon imagery for healing is very powerful.  Remember that this is scientific.  Leukocytes (white blood cells) rush to an injured area to help heal it.  These microscopic helpers are in fact helping us on a consistent basis (unless there is a pathology wherein they are compromised).  In healthy functioning blood they are essential in recovering from injury.  This is a great first Biology lesson and may help them in connecting scientific principles to every day life.  Using this knowledge empowers the child by being able to answer back to concerned adults-“I have microscopic helpers helping me and I am feeling better and better.”  “Better and better” is a phrase used in the Silva Method of Mind Techniques.  This technique is extremely useful in helping to have tools to use our minds in positive and powerful ways.  See website for more info

Staying in the present moment is useful for anyone recovering from injury and replacing a negative experience with a positive image is very useful in returning to a stronger , more well-functioning place both physically and mentally.

jurlique-logoThis posh Madison Avenue location mixes uptown elegance with earthy products.  Many of their products are made with organic herbs and flowers that are harvested from Jurlique’s own farms in Australia.

Service:  Aromatherapy Facial

Cost:  $100.00 for a facial-reasonable especially for this part of town.

Ambiance:  Very Inviting and a lovely, calm oasis from the busy neighborhood it is located in.  They strive for a natural, yet upscale ambiance here and it is successfully achieved.  The spa is small as it is attached to the store which seems to take up most of the space.

Customer service at the front desk:  Very welcoming.

Hygiene:  Excellent.

Quality of service:  Very Professional and relaxing.

Products:  Jurlique is an international company largely known for its all-natural line.  As mentioned, they harvest a lot of their ingredients from their own farms.  If you are into “all-natural” this may be the line for you.  Some of their products are quite aromatically strong so be cautious if you have any allergic sensitivities.  They are on the costly side but they tend to last a long time and are very pure which tends to raise the price.  Quality costs.

Overall impression:  Jurlique is a class act in the spa world in my opinion.  No pretension, simply good quality products and great service technicians.  As mentioned, you pay for it but it is still not as costly as other high end spas in the neighborhood which are much less holistic.  This is strictly a facial spa as the emphasis is on their quality products.  They do not offer any other spa services such as massage therapy, body treatments etc.

uplift your spirit in a recessionThe current financial crisis has been very devastating to many people.  Most of us are seeking ways to tighten our budget even if we have not been directly effected by the current recession.  We are all planning for hard times.  This can be a cue to simplify our lifestyle, to get in touch with our spiritual center and to let go of attachment to material connections.  This, however, does not mean we cannot enjoy ourselves.  Reconnecting with life’s simple pleasures can be of greater reward than material splurges.  One can achieve this balance by using what I call the seven senses:  seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, tasting, breathing and laughing.

A lot of this you may do anyway, but when it is done consciously and with an intention it can lead into an actual shift in your mood.  A heightened awareness.  This is about taking control of your mood and circumstance.  The old saying “money can’t buy happiness” is true.  Sometimes it takes a simplification of one’s life to “own” one’s state of being.

1. Seeing- The visual sense is used in Color Therapy.  Each color has a vibration it can give off to help our mood.   For the cost of a few gallons of paint, you can brighten your  living space using warm colors – such as paprika, aqua or apple green  to impart a feeling of coziness in a room. A museum is a great place to stimulate your visual sense through the incredible use of color and light.  This will help lift your spirit and improve your overall mood.

2 Touching- Nothing feels more comforting than a warm, loving touch.  Massage, hugs, dance and exercise are vital ways with which to stay happy and connected.  Even petting your cat or dog has been documented to reduce stress.

3. Hearing- Music is known for its miraculous ability to better our mood. From Arias to Zytego, music soothes the savage beast within us all.  So, don’t forget to reconnect with your favorite music.

4.Tasting- Cooking for someone you love is one of life’s simplest and often forgotten pleasures!  Certain foods have joyful properties such as fruits and of course, chocolate in moderation.

5. Smelling-Aromatherapy is a fantastic healing option.  The scents available are so intoxicating!  Jasmine, Bergamot and Geranium are very romantic and uplifting.   for more on the healing qualities of aromatherapy, read A Simple Guide to Aromatherapy.

6. Breathing-  though not an actual sense, is a great way to enjoy whatever you are doing.  Correct deep breathing helps stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing the body back to a resting state. Many forms of meditation are based on the way we breathe.

7. A sense of humor-the seventh sense!   What can make you feel better than true, unbridled laughter?   Laughter is known to reduce the level of stress hormones like Cortisol, Epinephrine  and Dopamine . It also increases the level of healthy hormones such as endorphins.  Consciously spend time with people who really make you laugh and share in your sense of humor!

It doesn’t take a lot of money to feel more positive and uplifted.  Try getting in touch with the simpler pleasures in life and see how much more centered and gratified it can make you feel.  Simplicity is a necessary luxury and feeding our souls is the most nourishing action we can take in troubled and chaotic times.