I usually drive in silence, but if I spend any part of Sunday in the car, I like to listen to the stories told on public radio.
This past Sunday, I heard a great story about living with loved ones who are suffering Alzheimer's disease or dementia. The topic was: "what do you talk about?"
That's a decent question. You have a person who means a lot to you, who you've likely shared a lifetime with, and now you can't chose your normal conversational topics. You can't discuss family members, current events, nor even many past events. Beyond even coming up with something to talk about, there is the difficulty of holding a conversation when the person you are talking to forgets what/who/where in the middle of your few sentences together.
I do not have a family member with Alzheimer's or dementia, but I've had some as acupuncture patients. (Which, yes, acupuncture can help.) And I have known many friends who have dealt with this situation with their families. I think we all have.
The radio show covered one couple caring for their mother. The wife/daughter was looking for support, reaching out in books and online for ways to cope with these challenges. And one phrase changed everything: "step into their world."
This woman and her husband are both improv comedy actors. This was a lightbulb moment for her. "Step into their world" is a catchphrase used in improv to describe what you do when your acting partner has set the stage for your improvised scene. You step into their world, whatever it is they have created.
So, if she can do this for her acting, for her audiences, why can't she do this for her mother?
It changed EVERYTHING.
Instead of "no Mom, you can't go home, you live here now with us," it became "you want to go home? Tell me about your home."
Her mother became noticeably more agreeable and more relaxed. But the husband/son-in-law took it a step further. Instead of "no, mom, there aren't any monkeys outside the window," nor even "oh, monkeys? That's nice," it became:
"Monkeys? This time of year? It's a bit early for monkeys, don't you think?"
Mother replied "no, no they're out there now."
"Well, do you think we should catch one? Bring it inside?"
"No, we can't have a monkey in the house! That's ridiculous."
"Sure we can, if we put some pants on it."
And the conversation continued, with the mother laughing and having a good time, and even seeming to understand that they were just joking around as the conversation went on.
As the couple developed this new way of interacting with their mother, she became steadily more agreeable and easier to live with. And doesn't this make so much sense? Who likes having their reality questioned? Who likes being patronized?
And why must we all be so RIGHT all of the time? Why must we correct those who we think are wrong? How are we really helping the situation by insisting there are no monkeys outside the window? Maybe there ARE monkeys outside the window. Even if you can't see them, and really don't believe they are there, can't you allow someone else to see them without needing to assert your reality?
What a wonderful new paradigm this is for dealing with our loved ones who are suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia. Instead of trying to correct them or being frustrated by their "wrongness," try simply stepping into their reality. Allow THEM to tell YOU how it is. If you can let go of the need to impose your right way of knowing, you may find that they can relax and enjoy their lives if their reality isn't constantly coming into question. And isn't that what we want for our loved ones, anyhow? Not for them to be right about identifying places, people and time, but to merely be comfortable and happy?
For those of us who are not caring for loved ones with dementia, this can still be a great lesson for relaxing our boundaries on what is "right" and "wrong" with everyone we meet. If we want to truly understand anyone else's point of view, it will be a lot easier if we can drop our story and step into their reality in order to fully comprehend them.
So give it a try. Step out of your reality from time to time and meet someone else's. Stop and see the monkeys.
Now, on a different note :
Please consider joining us on
Wednesday, Aug 20
for a free
I'll be hosting it in combination with Sammie Orton of Greater Works- Beauty, Health & Wellness and Gina Gogue of Gogue Essentials.
We'll be discussing whole-body detoxification in the areas of using essential oils, colonic hydrotherapy, and detox protocols specific to heavy metals.
The workshop will take place at the Zen Center on the corner of 4th and J streets at 6:30pm. I hope to see you there! If you have any questions, feel free to call Radiant Family at (541) 244-0111.
A short magazine article has stuck in my mind. It is really quite stuck.
We are conscious about the magazines we offer in our office for people to read if they have to wait for an appointment. We want the reading to be on the same calming, meditative wavelength that our treatments provide. One of our commonly carried magazines is Spirituality and Health.
I try and read our magazines when I have a spare moment. I am one of those readers that is REALLY ENGAGED with anything well-written or interesting.
Well, at least while I'm reading it.
Unless I take notes or discuss with someone else, my mind instantly moves on and forgets to file memories from what I read, regardless of how engaging it was.
And this is why this article's stickiness has impressed me. I so enjoyed parts of it that I copied it for a patient. I forced Jason to listen to me read it out loud. I'm thinking about it now as I decide to share parts of it in this blog.
The article, written by Zen Buddhist teacher Karen Maezen Miller is titled "Lessons from a Zen Garden." Miller uses the analogy of her lovely flower garden to illustrate the fleeting beauty of our lives. She discusses what love and relationships mean:
"...one thing that troubles people about Buddhism is the concept of nonattachment. That's because we think attachment means love, and we think love means I can't live without you. We are always hung up on our self-serving notions--what I need, what I want, what I like, what I think, what is best, what is right--and that's the cause of suffering. We attach to those ideas as though they were life itself..."
Miller's message comes at the right time (as messages always do). So many people coming in the doors of our clinic are going through some kind of big transformation in their lives right now. Confronting deaths of loved ones, having major changes in life path or career, working out of old habits that are no longer in line with old ways of thinking.
The difficulty doesn't ultimately come from the event. It comes from how we respond to it, how we resist change. Miller goes on to quote the Buddhist Four Noble Truths:
"1. Life is suffering. Things change.
2. The origin of suffering is attachment. It hurts when things change.
3. The cessation of suffering is attainable. Accept that things change.
4. There is a way out of suffering. By changing yourself."
With our acupuncture, massage, reiki, etc, we treat many physical ailments. Sometimes these are purely structural imbalances or physical degenerations, but more often physical ailments are intertwined with emotional stress, old traumatic baggage, and negative thought processes.
There is profound relaxation to be found in letting go. Drop the need for control. Don't resist change. And stop judging everything and everyone around you.
"Maezumi, my teacher, introduced me to a dimension of love that we do not often experience... His kindness was the profound kindness of seeing a person or thing completely, without judgement. I learned two things by this: that it is rare to be seen and that seeing without judging is an act of love.
Zen practice is facing yourself as you are. And by facing yourself, you come to accept everything. Self-consciousness dissolves and separation disappears. Free of deception, you are no longer afraid to be yourself. You are no longer afraid of much of anything. There is nothing to hide; no self-image to defend; nothing to assemble, control or avoid. It's simply a matter of taking care of what appears in front of you."
Judging a situation or person, for any reason, may lead to a desire to change it. Need for control stems from fear. Drop the judgement and let go of your illusion of control, and the fear dissipates along with it.
I believe the reason this article stuck with me is not that it was so wonderfully written, nor was it a message I have not heard before, but that it is needed. For most everyone. Repeatedly.
Even in the midst of a beautiful summer, full of fun and friends, there can be dark times. But life is much too short to spend our limited hours wrapped in self-made stress over any situation that we cannot control.
The only thing you can control in a stressful situation is your reaction to it; choose to love life in non-judgement, peace and joy.
Many women I encounter have a nasty habit of giving.
Relentless giving. Of giving, and then giving some more. Much of that stems from motherhood, as it is a necessary part of caring for young ones. (And is certainly something fathers can be guilty of as well.) But this habit of caring for everyone else so often results in a depleted, worn out woman. Perhaps even a woman who has forgotten to receive.
That is why I am SO HAPPY to announce, or at least remind everyone local here to Southern Oregon, Radiant Women's Day. It is taking place this Saturday, June 7th, all day at the Middle Rogue Farm. Follow this link to see their schedule of events and see the image below for the details.
Please, for yourself if you are a woman, or for a woman that you care for, consider this event as a chance to relax, enjoy, learn, and most of all- receive!
It has been a little while since our last message. We have crossed the one year mark with our little baby business and are growing into a (hopefully well-deserved) reputation of quality service in our community.
Jason and I are blessed to be doing what we love to do, helping others in the process, and supporting ourselves while doing it. Surely, it takes work, but if you love what you are doing, then "work" is a very relative term.
Over this past year we have received a lot of encouraging feedback from happy clients and patients. We consistently hear that we put our hearts into our work and go above and beyond anyone's expectation of what standard healthcare is.
How seriously we take our work and how much we put love into it is a reflection of what we receive from our community in turn. Grants Pass is continually growing into a more heart-centered community of caring individuals and conscious businesses. We feel more and more supported by everyone we meet locally, which in turn allows us to share that support.
The more you give, the more you get. The more you open up and allow for grace to come your way, the more you notice it when it does.
Having been here for more than one year as a business, we have seen slow, natural growth in just the right ways. We haven't pushed ourselves out there or fought for our place in the healthcare community. Instead, we gently allow those who are seeking help to find us in the right way.
If Radiant Family has helped you in any way, please share the love and spread the word! It is our goal to help as many people as we can, if they are ready to receive it. If you are reading this right now, you are connected to us in some way, whether near or far. Thank you from Jason and myself for supporting us in doing what we love. We hope to continue to recycle that love and support in our community, our Family, for many years to come.
It's that time.
Outside, it's becoming lovely and fresh. On nice days, we open the windows and air out the house. We clean all of the nooks and crannies. We follow nature's lead and freshen up our homes.
Some of us take that a step further and freshen up our lives. Spring is a great time to refocus our intentions, make new plans for the rest of the year, to rejuvenate our bodies and minds.
Like planting seeds in freshly turned soil, Spring rejuvenation is most effective when it comes with a physical cleanse. Turning the inner soil? Ok, maybe that's not a perfect analogy, but I suspect you see where I'm going here.
After months of being indoors, most likely getting less physical activity and eating heavier holiday and cold-weather foods, our body needs a cleanse of its own.
A physical cleanse is greatly enhanced by setting intentions and making goals, by re-prioritizing what matters in your life, or by deepening any spiritual practice you may have. This is also a good time to begin a new fitness routine, begin a creative project, or join in a new club or social gathering. These many addenda to a Spring Cleaning can be a fun way to put yourself back on track to a productive and happy year.
But, the physical Spring Cleaning is the essential, albeit more difficult, part of this rejuvenation.
Jason and I are about to undertake our yearly five day juice fast. I find this to be the most effective way to do a detoxifying cleanse.
Without getting too deep into the science, I will briefly explain how fasting and juicing are a powerful combination.
Fasting, or limiting caloric intake for over 24 hours, has a unique effect on a cellular level. When we eat, our body produces a very important protein called insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1. IGF-1 is responsible for the body's ability to make new cells. Important, right? Yes, very. But....
When we stop eating, the body stops making IGF-1. And when IGF-1 is not present, instead of making new cells, the body heals the DNA of our existing cells.
Health science nerds can understand my enthusiasm. DNA damage is responsible for almost all age-related disease, for cancer, and for aging itself.
So by merely abstaining from food for a period of time (greater than 24 hours), we engage this DNA-healing ability in our own bodies. We are essentially giving our bodies the ability to prevent cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, Type 2 Diabetes and much much more.
For more information on the science behind this type of "intermittent fasting", view this article on BBC News about the documentary that began intermittent fasting's growing popularity among the public.
So, fasting is great. But why go through all of the effort to juice produce? You have to buy, it clean it, clean the juicer... well, it's not really all that hard, and it's an essential part of cleansing.
While fasting (consuming only freshly made juices) allows the body to heal cellular DNA, juicing gives the body the tools it needs to cleanse. Produce is loaded with antioxidants. These nutrients are usually hard for us to get out of the plants' cell walls via digestion, but juicing allows us access to much greater amounts of these nutrients by breaking the fibrous plant cells apart for us.
Antioxidants are NEEDED by the liver in order for it to detox. Without antioxidants, no luck. Liver detoxification is how the liver breaks down chemicals we have circulating through our body (in the blood, stored in fat tissue, in lymph, etc) so those chemicals can leave our body. Otherwise, they are trapped inside of us.
That's a long-time accumulation of chemicals: car exhaust, cleaning products, plastic from your water bottle, sulfates in your toothpaste, herbicides on your produce, hormones in your milk, GMO chemicals in your bread, and so on.
An over-burdened liver can be responsible for, or associated with, a wide array of physical problems like being overweight or obese, high blood pressure, immune and autoimmune problems, digestive diseases, fertility and hormonal issues, neurological problems and more.
Giving our bodies a short break, like a five day fast, and including large doses of antioxidants through juicing is a powerful way to allow our livers to "clean house."
Jason and I do five days of fasting only because that is what works best for us. Many people choose to do 3, 7, or even 9 days. We drink lots of well or spring water between our juices, and try and watch inspiring documentaries during times of day when we may normally be entertaining ourselves through cooking and eating.
I highly recommend the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, which you can watch online for free. If you've never wanted to do a juice fast before, you certainly will after watching this inspiring film.
Below, I am attaching a downloadable guide to juice fasting that I shared at our recent Wellness Workshop on detox. Detoxification can be hampered by using the wrong combination of vegetable and fruit juices, so refer to the image for guidelines.
Juice fasting may not be for everyone, especially children, diabetics, and anyone with very serious medical conditions. Otherwise, juice fasting is an incredibly powerful, affordable, and simple way to prevent disease and rejuvenate the body.
If you are interested in learning more about juice fasting and detox in general, give us a call at Radiant Family for a consultation.We're happy to share our knowledge; the more happy and healthy we all are, the better our world will be!
I've experienced a lot of health this past year. It's been great. No illness, great energy levels.
Jason and I really do a pretty good job of keeping ourselves healthy through diet and healthy lifestyle habits. But we're not saints, and we experience challenges too.
Returning to Thailand this January, it was distinctly apparent that I was healthier. Sleeping in my same old bed in Hua Hin, breathing the same air, visiting the same beach, I felt so much healthier.
It was a good reminder of how small things can get overlooked when they become chronic. If not overlooked, at least tolerated.
In years past, my energy levels weren't as good, I frequently caught colds, and had a harder time managing my stress. This time around in Thailand, I felt GREAT. At least, at first.
"Living in Thailand" for a few weeks probably evokes images of coconuts lazily sipped beachside....fresh seafood and lots of tropical fruit. Well, the tropical fruit did happen, but so did loads of MSG, questionable quality bottled water, and harsh chemical bug sprays in the air.
After the first two weeks in Thailand, I noticed I wasn't sleeping after eating meals out--most likely due to the MSG. I began feeling sluggish and a bit tired. My earlier pep and vigor were quickly beginning to wane.
I concluded that more important than the MSG, water, and air coming in, were the healthy habits I abandoned in this different environment. I wasn't using my homemade personal care products, I wasn't eating my home-cooked food, and I wasn't employing any of the numerous healthy habits I keep here at home (other than oil pulling--oil pulling travels well).
I've been using only my own shampoo and hair conditioner for over a year now. I've also been dying my hair with henna and indigo. (For those who are surprised by the dying, I've had greys since I was in my early teens and am mostly white now- I dye my hair every three to four weeks). I use no products in my hair anymore, either.
Although this is only one area of many where I try my best to practice what I preach to keep myself healthy, this is the area that rebelled against my "vacation."
Just after I returned from Thailand, my scalp broke out in painful bumps. Red, painful, thickening, and eventually flaking off. My scalp slowly worsened over the first week I was back until I finally gave in and began treatment. After some self-acupuncture and daily herbal head wraps over night, it's almost completely gone. And, of course, I am back to my good habits.
I've never had any problems with my scalp in the past. Having your head painfully flake off is an unsightly and humbling experience. But it is a great example of one of the body's many possible methods for making its displeasure known.
Eczema, acne, headaches, intestinal symptoms-- there are many avenues for inflammation of express itself. And it is so often experienced by people who are making an effort to become healthier. As anyone who has gone down the rabbit hole of food intolerance knows, when you have avoided something your body does not like, it rebels so much more strongly if you slip back into old habits.
So I write this in solidarity with the chemically-sensitive. I never have been so before. But it is my body's way of reminding me that what was being done before (using chemical-laden hair products and toxic hair dyes) is not something I should ever do again.
Keep continuing on your own personal health crusade, and don't get frustrated when symptoms arise. Every small change we make in the right direction has innumerable effects that can't be seen or felt. Sometimes we pay the price for cleaning up our act, but it's worth the cumulative effect, increasing quality of life and maybe even adding years!
Fly forward into a healthy spring with some educational, empowering and inspiring health workshops from Radiant Family this March. Our workshops will be given at the Merging Rivers Zen Center on three Saturdays. See the flier below for more information.
We have tried to keep our workshops low cost in order to share this information with as much of the community as possible, so please share this flier with anyone you think would benefit! We hope to see you there.
Hey all, just a quick note about gift-giving ideas from here at Radiant Family.
Jason is about to send out word of a very generous massage gift certificate offer he's sharing. In addition to the gift of massage, know that our various products also make great gifts!
Aside from our product line (shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, toothpaste, body lotion, face cream, deodorant and medicated ointments), we have finally given in and are selling our teas.
Radiant Family's herbal teas are a popular item in the clinic. I try my best to convince people to make their own at home and freely share the recipes. Some people have put the effort in and make the teas at home, but many more continue to ask if we will sell them in the office. So now we have four of our teas for sale, both in bulk as well as in unbleached hemp fiber teabags.
We are also offering a sale on our products, for anyone inclined to build a gift basket. (Or maybe you want to just selfishly stock up for yourself!)
Buy any 3 Radiant Family products, get 10% off, buy 4 and get 15% off, and 20% off if you buy 5 products or more.
We hope you consider shopping locally for the holiday season and thank you so much for supporting small businesses like our own!
We really underestimate the impact that light has on our bodies. This time of year in the Northern hemisphere brings less exposure to daylight. It is cold/rainy/windy, so we avoid spending time outdoors in the daytime. Most people spend their waking day indoors in their workplace. And due to the shorter days, it is less likely that any of us really encounter much daylight outside before or after work.
But we get plenty of light inside from light bulbs, though. Or from computer screens, phones, e-books, and other electronic devices. This light is less bright than natural sunlight, but much brighter than moonlight. So, let's call this artificial light "medium light."
The body reacts to light all of the time.
Our body produces melatonin and cortisol to create our "circadian rhythm", our cycle of being asleep and being awake. High melatonin levels at night help induce sleep. High cortisol levels in the morning induce wakefulness.
If we lived outside as the animals we are, we would be exposed to much daylight during the day, and only moonlight at night. In our cozy buildings, however, we get this "medium" light consistently throughout the day. This means not enough daylight during the day and too much light in the evening.
During the day, when our cortisol levels are prone to be their highest, we should be exposed to a great amount of light. In particular, the blue spectrum of light (short wavelength), like those obnoxiously bright headlights you see on cars from time to time. If we are exposed to this spectrum of light from 7am to noon, we produce as much as 50% more of the "awake hormone" at this time than we would without this bright light exposure. (1)
Can you imagine being 50% more awake in the morning? Doesn't that sound great?
But exposure to light at night has a negative effect. Exposure to this blue spectrum light in the evening results in a dramatic drop in melatonin production, even in small amounts of light exposure. This means more difficulty getting to sleep, a hard time staying asleep, or lower quality of sleep. (1)
Interestingly, exposure to light in the red spectrum (long wavelength) does not suppress melatonin production like blue light does. According to the research, there is no statistical difference between red light and darkness when it comes to affecting our melatonin levels. (1)
For a wakeful, energetic morning:
For a deeper rest at night:
I have met very few people that don't have any difficulty with sleep AND also feel energetic in the morning. So please don't take light for granted. Some very simple changes in light exposure can make significant changes to your health, especially during the darker months.
1. Mariana G. Figueiro and Mark S. Rea. The Effects of Red and Blue Lights on Circadian Variations in Cortisol, Alpha Amylase, and Melatonin. 2 March 2010. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2010/829351/
Last week I promised to begin to share some of my favorite habits for keeping myself healthy during the cold and flu season. As mentioned last time, these healthy habits are too great in number for me to dish out all at once. So I'm beginning with three for this week, and more will come.
We all know that we could be doing more to keep ourselves healthy, but that it takes time and willingness to put the effort in to do so. I hope that by sharing a greater number of habits, some of which may be new to you, the number of habits you are likely to adopt will increase.
The key is in finding what resonates with you and what seems likely to fit into your daily life without counter-intuitively casing more stress. So, read on, and look forward to more next week.
I thought I'd start with one of my weirder habits to get your attention.
If you've never heard of oil-pulling, you can read more about it in a very thorough article on oral health written by Jason here. In brief, oil-pulling consists of swishing oil around in your mouth for 15 minutes or so, then spitting it out.
Exciting, I know.
Why would you want to do this?
Our mouths- teeth, gums, tongue, hard and soft palate, and the back of the throat- are a ripe environment for bacterial growth. Gross to think about, but it's true.
Brushing is very important, flossing too, but NOTHING has ever made my mouth feel more clean than oil-pulling. I'm not going to drag you into the details of what oil pulling does for your body. I encourage you to learn more, and if you want to, please read Jason's older article linked above. Oral health affects every corner of our body and is directly tied to numerous chronic diseases.
Specific to our topic, though, a cleaner oral environment means less likelihood of an upper respiratory infection taking hold there. How many of you first notice a head cold as a sore throat? Or swollen, irritated tonsils?
Well, knock on a tree, I have never gotten a sore throat or caught a head cold when I have been consistently oil-pulling. That alone is enough reason for me to continue doing it, but the systemic benefits are overwhelming.
Really, consider swishing some oil around your mouth every morning. The benefits FAR outweigh the effort. A good how-to for oil pulling can be found here.
I have a hard time empathizing with people who don't love sleep. I've met a few people who consider it an inconvenience and even resent that they need it. I LOVE sleep and it's one of my favorite things to do. Sleep is what I find most healing for my body.
If you suffer from insomnia, please forgive me for bragging about the benefits of sleep. And please, if you haven't already, give acupuncture and Chinese herbs a try to help alleviate your sleeplessness.
If you don't have time or the right environment to get enough sleep, then I am so very sorry. I hope you can find as much time as possible for rest, and that you are able to give it as high a priority as possible.
If ever I feel I am coming down with something, and I'm in the position to stop what I'm doing and take a nap (which I admit, is rare), my body will almost always be able to ward off the illness.
Many people put others first, obligate themselves to too many tasks, and then -surprise- they fall ill. Restful times- nightly 8 hours, naps, and quiet time spent doing absolutely nothing- are one of the best preventative medicines against contagious illness.
If it's a possibility for you, make your rest a priority and don't sacrifice it unless necessary.
Summertime in our Northern hemisphere is accompanied by pleasant weather. We spend more time outdoors; we let more fresh air in our households.
As autumn cools, our windows remain closed. As the rain and cold settle in, we avoid being outdoors more than usual. This is comfortable, but it's not a healthy trend.
We get SO MUCH MORE oxygen when we breathe outdoor air than when we breathe indoor air. It's really very simple.
In addition to less oxygen, our indoor air is also generally quite polluted with dust mites, skin cells, fabric fragments, and chemicals from plastics, cleaning products, perfumes, dyes, etc etc etc. And airborne pathogens.
We need oxygen to live. It's not such a great leap to conclude that optimal bodily function requires optimal oxygenation of our tissues. And if we're spending more of our time indoors (or nearly all of our time indoors), we're getting significantly less oxygen than we should.
Remedy this as well as you can:
1) Open your windows, even a little, whenever you can. Jason and I sleep with our bedroom windows just barely cracked open. And as I lay in bed, I can distinctly smell the fresh air seeping in through that crack. Overnight, there is a significant cumulative effect on the body from getting that much more oxygen and less pollution through our air.
2) Open windows and doors when you clean your house. Even in the winter. A weekly housecleaning session with air exchange re-oxygenates your home's air, reduces the air pollution, and helps to prevent any cleaning chemicals from polluting the air (if you use nasty chemicals to clean, that is). Put on a coat, bundle up the kids, turn off the heat, and just know that you will re-heat the house when you finish. Our ancestors lived in animal furs huddled around fires; I think we can handle a couple of hours of cold.
3) Get outside when you can! Oh, it's rainy...it's cold...but it's fresh! Take a lunch break walk or commit to a walk every weekend even if it's dreary out. Shed the fear of being uncomfortable and embrace the invigoration of a cold weather stroll. You need not be out for long to get the blood flowing and the clean air in your lungs, and it goes a long way to combat the effects of months indoors.
If there is one broad, underlying principle I adhere to as a foundation for health, it's being in closer proximity to and in better harmony with nature. In an urban environment, this is admittedly more difficult than it is here in Southern Oregon. But even in a city, the outdoor air is often more fresh than indoors.
Open a window, or get outside, and breathe the air you were meant to breathe.