Gumbo pot- Reflections

I am writing this post as a reflection of my thoughts on some current global events / issues and some reading/listening that I have engaged in. This post is perhaps a continuation of my recent post on Feminism and what it means to be a Feminist.

I was reading/ listening to:

  • Women’s bodies, Women’s wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup
  • The Truth about Vaccines – This is a 7 part documentary series on the good/bad and the ugly related to Vaccines given to infants/children in the U.S.
  • The Yoga of Bhagavad Gita by Paramhansa Yogananda

Below are some of my ponderings/thoughts:

  • For any change to occur, we need more women to be aware, educated, in tune with their intuitive intelligence and more men to stand with these women.
  • If the chemicals being spread on Earth’s soil and the antibiotics/hormones given to cattle affect our health via food/water/air, then why assume that all vaccines given to babies are safe?
  • Shouldn’t I as an individual always have the ability to make a choice? What is freedom if not for the ability to make our own choices and be responsible for them?
  • Why do we believe more in pills and less in the intelligence of our bodies?
  • Any person/ medium/approach that thrives on you being fearful is not your friend.
  • We need to stand up to the Pharmaceutical industry much in the same way as we are seeing with the Pesticide and Food industry. Personal is indeed political.
  • If every single person only took responsibility for themselves including their physical, mental, emotional, relational health, that would be enough.
  • Authoritarian approaches that disallow freedom at any level need to be replaced with collaborative/consultative approaches.
  • Don’t simply follow practices/beliefs because ‘that’s how it has been’, ask why and be open to understanding.
  • It’s all connected. If it’s NOT OK for Syria to bomb its own people, it’s NOT OK for the government to issue mandates on what’s needed in my or my child’s body. Both are fundamentally related to human rights.
  • Don’t be a rebel for the sake of feeling powerful.
  • Let’s stop living in an illusion that we are separate from the Earth/Environment.
  • Invest more time/resources in improving the state of health instead of focusing on disease.

I will close it by saying; Let’s dream with our eyes wide open. Let it make us uncomfortable. Let’s feel it and then feel it again in every inch of our bodies. May we have no other choice but to move with it.

I would be eager to know if this stirs something in you.

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Patterns- let’s decode. Shall we?

Today I am experiencing one of those beautiful synchronicities that life offers you. This morning I was reading a book titled ‘Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton Erickson’ and later in the day while surfing for something to watch I stumbled upon this video titled ‘ The brain that changes itself’ on Amazon. Let me share and elaborate how my little head connects the two and there’s also a bonus at the end. Have fun!

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Mastadon of IPFW, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

I am only 10th page of the book I mentioned and I loved how the author talks about the different messages we decode everyday from our external environment unconsciously. How do we decode these messages? Via our senses i.e. sight, smell, hearing, touch. For most people only one of these senses is the dominant source of information. Our decoding of this information depends on our past conditioning to a large extent. For example: When you say or read the word ‘food’ , each one of us experiences this word differently based on our associations to the word food in the past. It could be an image, it could be a distinct smell, it could be texture or the clinging of vessels related to the word. While we are forming those experiences/associations in the beginning we don’t filter it out, we simply receive and save it in our repository. This then helps us to not have to go through this decoding process again when we hear/read the word food. This association becomes our default as we grow up and we never really challenge it. We assume that what ‘food’ means for us is what it means for everyone else in general. This assumption of sameness makes our lives easier for sure but this assumption can also limit our abilities to learn more and new meanings of the word ‘food’. As I write this, I can think of how so many individuals argue over the definition of what is and what is not ‘food’ which is a never ending argument for many. So remember that we as humans like certainty and we create these patterns which need to be used by default without being questioned so that we can then utilize our brain power on other important issues like performing on job, rearing children etc. This can also be called our need to maintain homeostasis. Some of these patterns are helpful but some of these limit us.  But can these patterns not be changed or should they be changed at all in the first place?

The answer to whether or not they should be changed depends on what life circumstances you are facing and if you are happy/content with where you are then there isn’t exactly an incentive/need for you to change anything. What’s fascinating though is that our brain and bodies are constantly taking in and processing information and in a constant state of change. Even the food we eat is nothing but information/data in a different form which is then processed by our bodies and provided to us in the form of energy.

The thought of the need to change our patterns is the connection to the video I watched. In the video they talk about the concept of neuroplasticity which is the idea that the brain is capable at any age to make new connections and therefore rehabilitate itself/heal itself. My main takeaways from the video:

  • Unless the existing pathways are blocked or rendered useless, we don’t look for new ones. Some researchers have worked with individuals who lost their ability to use parts of their bodies due to traumatic incidents/strokes/paralysis. When these individuals were brought into treatment, the doctors restrained the dominant/usable hand and began exercising the other hand making slow and gradual progress everyday. What’s profound is that the new pathways weren’t built until the old ones were restrained/blocked. More often than not in life, we create suffering for ourselves when the situations around us seem to be blocking/restraining us. For example, you are a waitress and the restaurants in our area have stopped hiring. We create pain when we say..’ What will I do now? ‘and we keep looking for the same type of jobs. What if we looked at that block as a push to find a new pathway?
  • In another study, a person who had been blind for 38 years was given a device which sent feedback to his brain using the tongue instead of sight and he could navigate a physical path with turns simply based on that feedback he was receiving via his tongue. The man reported that the feedback he was receiving formed a mental image in his brain which is the same as seeing it with the eye. The brain doesn’t distinguish between ‘how’ the input is received. This is exactly how fears are real to people. Using this imagery available to us we can imagine new outcomes which is then enough for our brain to establish those new connections. Techniques like Neuro Linguistic Programming, Cognitive behavioral therapy help us rewire our brains.
  • Brain is a neutral receptor and storage house..so what are you feeding it and storing here on a daily basis? Meditation and mindfulness are two practices that help us become more aware of our unconscious patterns and bring those to the foreground for us to then work on them. In the same breath I would also like to mention that more than 90% of our body’s serotonin is produced in the gut region. More than one third of the microbes in our gut are not human microbes but microbes from the food we eat. So, the source of your food, the way it reached you, the soil it grew in, the way you cook it and the manner in which you eat your meals all determine who you think you areJ. If you are interested to read more on the mind and gut, please read Eat Wheat , The Mind-Gut connection and The Second Brain for the more scientifically inclined.

7 Simple Nutrition basics I follow

I must admit that it took me a couple of years to sensitize myself to these basics in U.S. where all the good and the bad is available at once in your local grocery store. These rules improved my physical and mental well -being by 70-80%. Hope this helps someone else who is searching for info.

  1. When buying processed foods if the nutrition label has ingredients that you can’t understand or relate to, your body can’t either. Ex: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Sodium Benzoate And Potassium Benzoate, Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)
  2. If a nutrition label has more than 3 ingredients that you can’t pronounce, you can probably do without it.
  3. Eat whole foods instead of the market ready processed alternatives. Ex: Eat whole oranges instead of Orange juice which perhaps doesn’t even have much nutrition value and instead has unwanted sugar in it.
  4. Avoid anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup, hydrogenated oils, bleached flour.
  5. Buy Cooking Oils that are packed in Glass jars instead of plastic. You don’t want the plastic by product in your oils..do you?
  6. Eat good fat and avoid fat free is you can. Good fat doesn’t include fried foods..sorry peepsL It includes Grass Fed Ghee, Avocadoes, Olive oil, nuts etc. Fat free is good when you buy non organic milk since most toxins travel through fat into our blood. Fat is the most stable form of energy for our bodies.
  7. Corn and Soy are some of the favorite ingredients used by the processed food industry and are genetically modified more often than not. I avoid them as much as possible except for when I want to relish some tortilla chips every once in a while.

I have listed a few resources that I found helpful on the resources page.

My best to you,

Pooja

What! I need to cater to my Body???I thought it was meant to serve me!!!

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What! I need to cater to my Body???I thought it was meant to serve me!!!

A few days ago I had written to a dear friend of mine that “ Don’t expect your body and mind to always serve you while you keep ignoring their needs.” In our fast paced and performance driven society it is very important to know our own limits. Commercial organizations may very well organize a one day workshop on stress management for their employees but seldom does one provide an environment/culture conducive for an employee to take a few minutes away from their work to de-st

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Unwind in nature

ress. To top that, we have demands in our personal lives from our children, parents, partners and friends.

There are also several schools of thought out there that teach us to stretch ourselves, push beyond the comfort zone and work on maximum performance every day. Extending ourselves into several different directions is required for our growth and we definitely need to stretch beyond our so- called comfort zone to grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The only thing we are not taught is to pay heed to our bodies when it is screaming through pains, inflammations, diarrhea, persistent allergies and constant fatigue. Somehow we have not learned that there might be reason that our bodies appear limited. Every person has his or her own ideal working hours in which he/she can be productive and effective and then there are those hours that just count as ‘office hours’.

It is important to know that you are at the center of every activity you choose to engage in and the state of your health will reflect in every activity you take up.

There are some of us who are extremely capable of ignoring symptoms and putting up a ‘everything is fine’ façade. It is an inevitable vice in today’s society. Unfortunately or fortunately the body knows to scream louder and will draw your attention in several ways. Taking responsibility for yourself begins with taking responsibility for your body and scheduling break times for yourself.Allow yourself a few minutes of ‘me time’ and learn the art of saying ‘No’. Do your best to eat healthy.

Understand that it is required of us to  recognize our limitations and push ourselves within our boundaries; not those created by someone else for themselves. Our body is always talking to us, we fail to listen.

Ever wondered why Seers and other wise individuals ask us to treat our bodies like a temple? It is supposed to be the vehicle through which we perform our duties and enjoy a humanly existence. A vehicle that needs routine maintenance just as your car does!

Relaxation using Five Senses and Elements

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Relax

One of the best ways to reconnect with yourself is to bring your attention back to your body. This will help you ground and center yourself. Lets explore the different ways we can relax using our five senses:

1) Touch- Feel better when you are hugged or someone moves their fingers through your hair? Skin is the longest organ in our body J no wonder then that as human beings we respond best to touch. Get a massage, pedicure, hugs, playful touch with an intimate partner. You can also try and identify fabrics that feel good to you and try to wear them or incorporate them in your linens. Examples of some fabrics could be velvet, satin, silk etc. You can also use stones/ crystals and rub it between your palms. Use of hot and cold sensations is also a good idea.

2) Sight- Soothe your vision with colors and images. There is a lot of research done around color therapy. My favorite colors to calm me are shades of purple and green. Reds/yellows and oranges are ‘activators’ or ‘energizers’. Shades of blue, white can also be calming. Neutrals when used with other colors can create a desired ‘uplifting’ or ‘cooling’ effect. Fill your phone/ laptop and surround yourself with images that bring your joy and happiness. These could be images of times that were happy for you or places/ scenery that creates that same effect for you. Personally I love images of waterfalls/beaches/meadows.

3) Sound- We are all familiar with what kind of music helps us unwind. For some it could be instrumental, nature based, trance-techno, world music or old classical melodies. Thanks to technology, we have apps that bring us our favorite instruments to our phones. I love using Pandora radio and have Jazz, Buddhist Monks music, ancient hymns/ chants,  bollywood music, enya etc on there. A lot of these are freeJ Sounds of nature seem to work for a lot of people. Singing along with a song or just humming a sound that comes naturally to you. Don’t worry about how it sounds to someone else, its for YOU!

4) Taste- Comfort foods! This is probably what comes to mind first and there is nothing wrong with using them in moderation. When I think of taste and what could be soothing/comforting I think of a dark chocolate square, spiced tea or green tea, hot chocolate, mashed potatoes etc. Eating fries/chips/pork chops etc can be added here however if you find yourself needing a lot of this, you may need to seek consultation with a health service provider. There is a lot of correlation between how we feel and what/how much we eat. Be mindful.

5) Smell- I love the smell of coffee brewing, fresh cilantro, first rain on earth.. I hate the smells of strong deodorants and perfumes. That’s just me. We associate a lot of memories through our sense of smell. Aromas from food can also be a part of this. I also know people who love the smell of clean linen and get a sense of ‘everything is ok’ by just smelling it. Oils of lavender, vanilla, jasmine etc are popular. Aromatherapy oils are easily available and not very expensive either. Apart from oils you can also use incense sticks and get the same desired effect. Using coconut jasmine oil for a hair massage will be two benefits in one activity.

The five elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether can be incorporated with the five senses to create a relaxing experience. For example – sitting by a fireplace utilizes soothing via sight and touch due to warm feeling. Hugging a tree may provide soothing via touch, sight and smell of the earth.

Get creative, experiment and find ways to soothe yourself. These can also be used to distract yourself when needed. I cannot help but mention sex in here too. Sex seems to encompass all the five senses and definitely helps connect with the body. The key lies in knowing your intentionality and your sense of balance.

This is not an exhaustive list and will need work at your end to identify your tools for relaxation. While you are experimenting, you can also maintain a journal and record your experiences.

Have fun:)