havenNestled in the bustling side-streets of SoHo is a true Haven amongst the busyness and at times, this chaotic center of shopping, restaurants and art galleries.  Haven has been around since 1998 and is one of New York’s original and affordable day spas. The ambiance here is incredible in that as one walks through the halls it  feels less like a spa in SoHo and more like a retreat in a remote and quiet place in New Mexico.  Haven is gently well lit and inviting with warm hues of mauve and plum.

I have enjoyed a variety of services here as I proudly was employed for five years at this spa.  This makes me favorably biased which is a good sign.  Not everyone can recommend places they were previously employed.  The owners have diligently put together a spa menu that is a head to toe fantastic and rejuvenating experience.  From body treatments to specialized manicures and pedicures.  I witnessed them consistently experiment till they would find the right combination of essential oils, scrubs and other delicious products for their services.  It would be difficult to review all the services offered here but I recommend Haven highly as a full service spa for grooming and relaxing.  Waxing is also available with both regular and organic wax for sensitive skin.

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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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inner-wisdomIt is important to be in tune with our bodies.  They send us important messages constantly that let us know our inner truth and can also help prevent illnesses.  Ever feel “butterflies” in your belly?  Perhaps you feel a “lump in your throat” at certain times.  You may think of a particular person as a real “pain in your neck.”  These sensations are real and when listened to can help us tune into our true wisdom and instincts about many situations.  These physical sensations can help in listening to your inner voice.

A great way to really be present with ourselves and others is simply to be grateful.  Gratitude helps us acknowledge what we have instead of constantly focusing on what we want.  Being grateful can feel incredibly full and truly content.  It is one of our most blessed feelings and is often overlooked.  How can we ever enjoy what we achieve and have if we cannot know what it is to feel grateful?  Without gratitude there is greed.  Feeling gratitude helps us connect to the present moment and this in turn helps in listening to your inner voice.

Here is an exercise in acknowledging your feet!  Why should we acknowledge our feet?  There are a multitude of reasons: our feet have been with us since before we are born and so has the rest of our body including our organs, our circulatory systems and every other system of our body (all the reflex points for the body are on the feet).  They have been your comrades since before birth through grade school until now.  Hold one of your feet and say, “Hello foot and thank you.”   Try it!  It sounds very silly- I know.  I mean it…look down and say, “Hello feet-thank you for carrying me around all these years!”*  “Hello feet and thank you!”  Now, don’t you feel more present with them and in general?  The simple silliness of it helps us feel good.  Even if you felt uncomfortable with your body-it has been there with you.  By thanking it you are acknowledging your body and yourself, flaws and all.  Forgiving our bodies imperfections and cradling it by sending it positive messages goes a long way in strengthening  the body-mind connection.  How can we truly feel connected in body-mind and spirit without love and acknowledgment of all three?  They are all a part of listening to your inner voice.

Practicing gratitude on a regular basis will strengthen one’s connection to one’s inner wisdom.  A great meditation to practice as you are falling asleep (or anytime) is to go through the whole body from feet to your scalp, acknowledge and thank it for helping you.  If there is a place that needs extra attention say for example lower back or neck and shoulders ask if they need something.  Using your imagination you can help facilitate your bodies own healing wisdom.  Our bodies are sending us messages all the time.  We need to listen and then take action.  Please see my article, Dynamic Stillness for more information on how to achieve this.

So, go ahead, say “hello”  to your feet and thank them!  Sometimes silly things are the most sensible of all.

*If one does not have the use of one’s feet this is a positive tool for connecting to the feet or any part of the body.

These meditations above will help in listening to your inner voice.

skepticismMany people claim to be skeptical when it comes to hearing information on anything metaphysical (of or relating to the transcendent or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses) .  Even something as ancient and well documented to being effective as Acupuncture can be scrutinized though it has been proven to be and is in fact a recognized form of healing.  To be a skeptical person often implies a kind of superiority or that the skeptic is right and the other party needs to prove their perspective to them.  Another way of approaching our questioning is by having healthy skepticism.

There needs to be a clear understanding of what a true skeptic is.  Skeptical is to suspend one’s judgment and to have a kind of intellectual cautionary sense while hearing information.  It does not mean doubtful or cynical.  It is not closed minded.  The opposite!  A true skeptic is so open to understanding that they are willing to suspend judgment until all information and experience is heard or perceived.  We can all  miss a lot of valuable lessons and information in life if we try to be too smart or too cynical.  We close ourselves off to serendipitous experiences that can really help our lives grow and support our well-being.  When we are children each day and experience is new and magnificent in its newness.  As we get older we of course adapt a more mature perspective but wouldn’t it be wonderful to consciously choose moments to be less cynical and instead practice healthy skepticism?

We may believe by being cynical we are being wise but actually there is a danger of operating out of fear and keeping the status quo.   When operating  from a place of gratitude there can be a resonance with the world around us and the wisdom that is there.  If we cannot notice the small answers we can not be ready for the big ones when we need them.

Often people will base their judgment regarding holistic health on “insufficient evidence” in the Scientific Model.  This is rampant in relating to ancient healing herbs from  around the world.  Saying something has “insufficient evidence” does not mean it is not helpful.  It can simply mean that there was not enough funding to prove the effectiveness of it.

Be aware that as one listens from a skeptical viewpoint one may simply be listening in a judgmental or doubtful viewpoint which is ok-but be aware of it.  Healthy skepticism is important -it helps us be discerning with information.  We need our opinion to survive and carve our own bit of happiness in this world but trying to learn something beyond your perceived reality can really open your experience and often you may find a whole new set of tools with which to draw from.  A classic movie on this topic is “What the Bleep Do We Know?”  Skillfully acted by Marlee Matlin it illustrates how our thoughts influence our behavior and finally our experience and even self-esteem.  Remember, the lens of negativity and superiority one may view the world from often can be turned back onto oneself and leads to perfectionism.  The bane of self esteem.

Being skeptical is protection against gullibility but there must be a balance if one is to believe in hope and new horizons of thought.  Looking a scant and saying I’m skeptical (but actually judgmental and doubtful)  makes one actually closed in one’s  listening.  A true skeptic suspends judgment before  she/he hears the whole story. So, simply by the admittance of being skeptical you are in fact saying that one is in fact open to hearing what is being brought to the table.  One is practicing, healthy skepticism.