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04 Nov

Sleep Quotes and the Wisdom (or Not) Behind Them

Sleep is one thing we all have in common. No matter where you live, how old you are, or what language you speak, if you’re alive, then you sleep. Since we’ve all been doing this sleeping thing our whole lives, we might just have some thoughts to share on the subject. And if you happen to be a celebrity, these thoughts might be shared with the public. Let’s look at some of these famous quotes about sleep, and see if we’re getting good advice.

 

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”  – Benjamin Franklin

 

Franklin was likely speaking from experience. His routine was that he would sleep from 10 pm to 5 am. Today, that’s the same routine for other successful people, including Jeff Bezos and Arianna Huffington. Ellen DeGeneres gets in her eight hours from 11pm to 7pm. However, Elon Musk and Barack Obama get to bed later, at 1 am, and then sleep until 7 am. So, can we thrive on less sleep?

 

There’s more than comes into play, including how people spend their daytime hours. Are you getting enough exercise and sunshine? Are you eating healthy foods? The quality of sleep you get it also very important. A study at John Hopkins University found that short but uninterrupted sleep is better than long hours of interrupted sleep. This is because interruption doesn’t allow the brain to go through all the sleep stages we need for energy and mental alertness. So, if you are getting that deep, uninterrupted sleep, even for fewer hours, and you are functioning optimally during that day maybe you don’t need as much sleep.

 

Research has shown that a good night’s sleep does make us smarter – or at least perform better on tests. A study at KU Leuven University in Belgium found higher test scores for students who slept seven hours each night during the exam period than those who got less sleep. The research accounted for differences in study habits, health and socioeconomic backgrounds.

 

Work eight hours and sleep eight hours and make sure that they are not the same hours. – T. Boone Pickens

Here’s a successful guy who believed in balance. Work, sleep, and then also live your life. Good advice. If you’re working too much and not giving the mind some downtime to rest before sleep, you’ll have a more difficult time getting to sleep, and probably not sleep as well.

 

I need nine hours of sleep because of all the activity I do. It doesn’t always happen, but I really try. – Ana Ivanovic

 

8 hours sleep is average – the ballpark for most of us. But some people need less, like Elon Musk, apparently! And some of us need more, like pro tennis player Ana Ivanovic. You don’t have to be an athlete, either – expending mental energy also requires a body-mind reset through sleep. If you find yourself yawning in the afternoon, or feeling like you need a nap, you might just need more sleep at night. When you’re getting enough quality nighttime sleep you shouldn’t need to take a nap. Young children and the elderly are exceptions, they usually need a nap in the day.

 

I don’t sleep enough, and it does… what is the opposite of wonders… horrors. It does horrors for my skin. – Kate McKinnon

I think my biggest tip – and I consider it a part of my beauty routine – is getting my sleep, without a doubt. I do a true eight hours. – Tracee Ellis Ross

 

There’s a reason why we call it “Beauty Sleep” and these actresses will tell you! It works both ways. Get good sleep and it shows on your face – your skin, your eyes, your smile. Or stay up too late missing those precious sleep hours and that will show up on your face, too. There’s only so much that make-up can do to hide the signs of lack of sleep. Who better than an actress to confirm this?

 

I drink a ton of water. And I never go to bed too full. – Chrissy Teigen

 

Chrissy Teigen has the right idea when it comes to eating. It’s best not to go to bed on a full stomach, because then your body is busy digesting instead of focusing on getting you into a sleep state. But it’s also not good to go to bed hungry either. Chrissy posts on her Instagram account about her “night eggs” that she swears by for sleep. She eats one lightly seasoned hard-boiled egg before bed, and it give her just enough protein to get her through the night without being hungry. But when it comes to water – it’s great to drink water during the day, but definitely limit your intake after 7 pm or your sleep will be interrupted when you need to get out of bed to visit the bathroom!

 

Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight. – Phyllis Diller

Make sure you never, never argue at night. You just lose a good night’s sleep and you can’t settle anything until morning anyway. -Rose Kennedy

 

I think we’ve all heard this from marriage and relationship experts: “Never go to bed angry.” Worst advice ever! What is the alternative? Like Phyllis Diller says, stay up and fight? I’m sure Phyllis was joking – how can anyone possibly sleep after getting all riled up in a heated argument? I think Rose Kennedy has a better idea. Never argue at night. Table the argument, go to sleep and figure it out in the morning. Chances are, after a good night’s sleep, the argument won’t seem so important anyway. You’ll be able to think more clearly and may even have dreamt up a solution to the problem!

 

Nothing makes you feel better than when you get into a hotel bed, and the sheets feel so good. Why shouldn’t you wake up like that every day? Spend money on your mattress and bedding because these things make a difference on your sleep and, ultimately, your happiness. -Bobby Berk

 

Bobby Berk is an interior designer and television host. He travels a lot for work, so he knows about staying in hotels. Many people experience a great night’s sleep when they stay in a hotel. And when they come home it’s just not the same. The difference? The mattress. Hotels are really good about getting fresh new mattresses all the time so that their guests are comfortable. So, Bobby is giving us really good advice. A new mattress is an investment in both our health and happiness. And of course, the bedding should feel good when you’re in bed, and look good enough to make you smile when you’re out of bed!

 

 

https://podcasts.hopkinsmedicine.org/2015/12/18/december-24-2015-interrupted-sleep/

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/11/13/the-sleep-habits-of-highly-successful-people-infographic/#1459a7376d7f

 

https://nieuws.kuleuven.be/en/content/2014/for-better-marks-get-a-good-nights-sleep

 

 

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25 Jun

Birthstones and Their Healing Properties

A birthstone is a gemstone that corresponds to the month of someone’s birth. It is thought to be lucky to wear your birthstone in jewelry in some way, to receive the energy of that stone. How did this tradition come about? Back in the first century Josephus, a Jewish historian, thought there was a connection between the twelve stones in Aaron’s breastplate, signifying the tribes of Israel, and the twelve months of the year and twelve signs of the zodiac.  Around the eight and ninth centuries, it was a trend to have twelve stones and wear one a month.

 

In modern times, jewelers got together and officially adopted a list of which birthstones belonged with each month, and the list has been added to and updated over the years. Just for fun, let’s take a look and see what our birthstones can do for us energetically!

 

Anyone can wear any of these stones anytime. However, if you wear your birthstone, it is supposed to be stronger for you than it would be for others. And if you wear a stone in the month it is associated with, it with be stronger during that month. You can also have stones on display in your home or on your altar. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or having too much energy, take a break from wearing the stone for a while.

 

January: Garnet

The garnet is a deep red stone. The name garnet comes from “seed” and it represents new beginnings, so it’s great to wear when you’re starting something new. Garnet goes with the first month of January, and also the first chakra, the root chakra. Garner can help release past attachments and family karma. It’s a good stone for grounding and stability. It is also said to keep you safe while traveling.

 

February: Amethyst

Amethyst comes in a range of purple colors, and also in green! Amethyst is most famous for its ability to clear negative energy. It is calming, bringing peace and serenity, and it can also help you tune in to your intuition. Amethyst is widely used in healing and energy work as it is gentle, yet powerfully effective.

 

March: Aquamarine

The light blue aquamarine got its name from the sea and it has been used to protect sailors from the harsh ocean. The cool blue stone is good for healing, and can calm anger in relationships. Blue is the color of the throat chakra, so aquamarine is a good stone to help when you want to speak clearly, and express yourself creatively. It is also said to bring confidence and courage.

 

April: Diamond

Diamonds are precious, and pricey. As an alternative, you can substitute a zircon or a Herkimer diamond, both clear stones. Diamonds amplify energy, meaning that when worn with another stone, it makes that stone even stronger. Diamonds symbolize purity and eternity, which may be why they are the favorite stone for engagement rings. Diamonds are also known to bring strength and vitality to the wearer.

 

May: Emerald

Emeralds are brilliant green, and associated with the heart chakra. It symbolizes love and the awakening of the heart, as well as fertility and rebirth. When we talk of fertility and rebirth, it can be the beginnings of an idea, and the creativity required to bring that idea to fruition. Emeralds are also known to make the wearer magnetic, so that you can attract a person, or anything that you want. Other green stones can be used as substitutes for an emerald.

 

June: Pearl

The luminous white sphere that we know as the pearl comes from the depths of the sea. The ancient Greeks believed that pearls were the hardened tears of joy from Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Pearls carry lunar energy, so they are calming and cooling. They are also thought to hold creative energy so they are great for artists. Pearls are also recommended for women who want to create a healthy cycle, or a healthy pregnancy.

 

July: Ruby

The ruby is a bright red color, and like the garner is connected to the root chakra. It has grounding energy, and it is also protective, warding off negative energy. The ruby is known to be healing for the body, especially for any condition which affects the blood. It’s good to wear a ruby when you feel like your energy has run out, or if you’re wanting to bring more passion into your life.

 

August: Peridot

The peridot is a light green stone, almost an apple green. Peridot is happy looking, and it is known to stimulate positive thoughts and mental clarity. Like the emerald, if is associated with the heart chakra, and can help heal the heart after a trauma, or after the breakup of a relationship. The peridot also can reduce fearful feelings, and encourage strength and courage. You can wear the peridot when you want to keep away fear and nightmares.

 

September: Sapphire

The sapphire gemstone is a clear royal blue color. True blue symbolizes loyalty, as well as wisdom and healing. Like the aquamarine, the blue color helps the throat chakra and all modes of communication. Wearing a sapphire helps you to speak your truth. The sapphire can also help you to see the truth, making you more sensitive and aware of the motives of people you’re dealing with. Lapis Lazuli is considered a good substitute for the sapphire.

 

October: Opal

Opals and their properties vary a bit depending on the color and their origin. If you want to wear an opal, it is best that you choose it yourself so you can tune into its energy and find one that is right for you. Opals are powerful, and symbolize confidence, love, healing, protection, strength and faithfulness. They also bring protection to the wearer and keep away negativity. Opals are said to help those seeking to overcome trauma or depression.

 

November: Topaz

The traditional topaz is a golden color, but you can find the topaz is many other colors as well. This is another stone that you need to choose yourself so that it goes with your vibe. The topaz is good to wear or have nearby when you’re starting to meditate because it helps to clear the mind and release thoughts. It’s also good for helping to improve concentration, so you can wear it when you are studying. Citrine is a good substitute for the topaz.

 

December: Turquoise

Turquoise is another happy and positive stone. It brings to the wearer relaxation for the mind as well as feelings of calm and peace. It is said that turquoise helps us to be more sensitive and intuitive. It is also a protective stone. Since it is blue, it is great for healing, cleansing, and releasing.

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02 Jun

Seven Simple Ways to Silence Snoring


If you snore, you might not even be aware that you’re making such a racket in your sleep – but if you sleep with a partner, they sure are! Where is all this noise coming from? It’s basically just noisy breathing that disturbs your sleep and that of your partner. The side effects of snoring include fragmented sleep, resulting in daytime drowsiness.

 

Snoring is a pretty common problem, affecting about 90 million adults in the United States. What causes it? The muscles of the throat relax when we sleep. The tongue falls back and the throat becomes narrow and soft. As we breath, the walls of the throat vibrate, and that’s when some people make that “snnnnnnooore” sound. Aging causes the throat muscles to relax, so older folks are more likely to snore than younger ones. Obesity also contributes to snoring since there is more fatty tissue in the neck area. Then there are also snoring risk factors to consider such the way the nose and throat are structured, how much alcohol you’ve had, and even your sleep position. And snoring could also be caused dry air, a cold, or an allergy.

 

If you are a chronic snoring offender, consult your physician to make sure you don’t have obstructive sleep apnea. Apnea is heavy snoring that requires medical attention when the throat’s walls collapse, causing a cessation of breathing.

 

Here are some simple home remedies that just might help to keep the peace in your household:

 

1) Use a humidifier. Air conditioners and heating units dry out indoor air, and the delicate tissue in the nose and throat are sensitive to this. A cool air humidifier helps to replace some of that moisture in the air, making it more comfortable and easier to breathe through the nose. You may add a few drops of essential oil to the humidifier unit to get added benefits. Peppermint, tea tree oil, and eucalyptus all help to open up the nasal passages naturally. If you’ve got a snoring dog, a humidifier will help that, too!

 

2) Take a steam. A hot steamy shower before bed helps to reduce nasal congestion so that you can breathe more easily. As an alternative, you can inhale steam by putting a bowl of boiled water on a table (add essential oil as an option here as well) and leaning over the bowl. Breathe in deeply. You may want to use a towel over your head to create a tent effect that directs the steam towards your face. Give it at least 5 to 10 minutes to see some results.

 

3) Lubricate the nasal passages. Ayurveda, India’s 5,000-year-old Science of Life, recommends lubricating the nasal passages with sesame oil, or ghee. Ghee is also known as clarified butter. It is used in many Ayurvedic remedies for its medicinal properties. With clean hands, you can simply use your pinky finger to massage the inside of your nostrils with sesame oil or soft ghee. Close off one nostril at a time and breathe in the oil to moisturize further up the nose. Repeat before bed and upon awakening in the morning.

 

4) Lubricate the throat.

-Olive oil is a strong anti-inflammatory agent and can decrease the swelling in the respiratory passages. It also relieves soreness and reduces the vibration in the throat that causes snoring. Simply take a shot class full of olive oil all by itself (two to three sips), right before you go to bed.

-Honey also has anti-inflammatory properties, and it coats the throat, reducing snoring vibrations. Mix one teaspoon of honey in a cup of hot water, or a cup of chamomile or ginger tea and drink sometime between after-dinner and bedtime. Chamomile is famous as a muscle and nerve relaxant, which will help you to sleep comfortably. Ginger has the benefit of anti-bacterial effects.

 

5) Use Herbals.

-Peppermint has anti-inflammatory properties that can help open up the whole respiratory system. Take a drop or two of peppermint oil in a glass of warm water and gargle with it before bed.

-Cardamom has been used as a decongestant and an expectorant, so it can be helpful in opening up blocked nasal passages. You can chew up some cardamom pods, or mix about ¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom in a cup of warm water and drink before bed.

-Nettle is helpful to relieve snoring caused by seasonal allergies as it has both anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. Make a tea from about a Tablespoon of dried nettle and let it seep in boiling water for five minutes. You can drink this anytime to help relieve allergy symptoms.

-Turmeric is a mighty antibiotic and antiseptic. Interestingly, these properties are amplified when turmeric is mixed with milk. This also makes it an amazing immune system booster! Use 2 teaspoons of ground turmeric and mix into a cup of hot milk to make “Golden Milk,” an ancient Ayurvedic recipe. Sip about half an hour before bedtime.

 

6) Sleep on your side. Sleeping on the back can cause the tongue to move to the back of the throat and blocking some airflow, causing snoring. If you can sleep on your side instead, air flows more easily so there’s much less chance of snoring. For those who have trouble sleeping on their side, “Tennis Ball Therapy” was created.

 

TBT, as it is now known in scientific journals, is a popular snoring treatment designed to help train a person to sleep on their side. Typically, a tennis ball is taped, or attached in some way, to the snorer’s back, impeding them from rolling over onto their back. It doesn’t have to be a tennis ball, but that size seems to work for most people. For my friend Dave, when the tennis ball was ineffective, his wife resorted to duct-taping a soccer ball to the back of his shirt! Snoring prevention has gotten to be big business. Now, conveniently, there are sleep shirts you can get with the tennis ball pocket sewed into the back. Some companies make dedicated inflatable sleeping backpacks to get the job done.

 

7) Play the Didgeridoo. The Didgeridoo is traditional wind instrument from Australia. It has a unique sound, and it requires strong mouth, tongue and throat muscles to play. Practicing on this instrument builds up and tones those muscles so that you are less likely to snore. Any wind instrument will do, just make sure that your practicing doesn’t become more annoying to your partner than your snoring is!

Lots more sleep tips at: BetterSleep.org

 

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20 Apr

Lucid Dreaming

“All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.”

-Edgar Allan Poe

 

You’re asleep, dreaming away, and then you realize that you are in a dream. Has that ever happened to you? If so, then you have experienced lucid dreaming. It’s like the “dream within a dream” that Poe writes about.

 

Usually during the dream state, the dream is our reality. We aren’t conscious of the fact that we are dreaming. It is only after we wake up that we can understand we were in a dream and not in reality, sometimes to our great relief! Lucid dreaming is a state in which we are aware that we are dreaming while we are dreaming. Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosophy, wrote about this in his treatise “On Dreams” sometime around 350 B.C. He says: often, when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream.”

 

In 1899 Sigmund Freud in “The Interpretation of Dreams” gave credit to Aristotle as being the first to recognize that dreams “do not arise from supernatural manifestations but follow the laws of the human spirit.” In 1913 Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik van Eeden coined the term “lucid dream” in his article “A Study of Dreams.”

 

Today researchers estimate that about 77 percent of people have experienced lucid dreaming one or more times. Since most dreaming takes place during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, this is when lucid dreaming occurs as well. During the REM stage of sleep, most of the muscles in the body become paralyzed, so that we don’t hurt ourselves while acting out our dreams. But the eye muscles, still able to move, move rapidly. Good quality REM sleep helps improve memory, focus, and emotional regulation.

 

While it is usual to just wake up from a lucid dream, many lucid dreamers are adopting the practice of staying in the dream state and exploring the potential there. They can observe their dreams, think of them in the context of the waking world, and sometimes even control the direction of their dreams. For example, a lucid dreamer may choose to work on a challenging problem in the dream state. Before drifting off to sleep, they think of the problem for which they need a solution. In this way, they train the mind to move in the direction of their goal.

 

There are many applications to lucid dreaming that can be beneficial to a person’s life. Using lucid dreaming to help stop nightmares is called “lucid dreaming therapy.” This has also been helpful for people to overcome phobias. With this technique, the dreamer can consciously take on “superpowers” in the dream to fight back or escape from what they are afraid of, or even choose to wake up from the dream. Lucid dreaming techniques have also been used to treat depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

 

It takes time and practice to both learn and get good at lucid dreaming. If you’re up for it, here’s how you can get started:

 

1) Get good quality sleep. To have dreams, you need restful sleep, which includes as much REM as possible. Practice good sleep hygiene: keep the room cool, dark and quiet. Get to bed by 10 pm. Follow a calming bedtime routine – including no screen time at least one hour before bed. Make sure your mattress is in good condition. If it is older than 5-7 years you’re probably due for a new one. Remember that a mattress is the foundation of a good night’s sleep

 

2) Keep a dream journal. Many people can’t remember their dreams by the time they wake up. And as the day goes on, dream memories fade. Keep a notebook by your bed and as soon as you awaken, write down everything you can remember about your dreams. As an option, you could record a voice memo if this is easier. There are several dream journal apps for phones to keep track of your dreams as well.

 

3) Look for patterns and signs. Once you have a few dreams recorded, start looking for what images show up again and again. It might be people, or places, or themes. When you identify these signs, you’re more likely to be able to recognize when you are in a dream state.

 

4) Reality checks. Lucid dreaming experts say that we can get the brain used to the idea of noticing when we’re dreaming or not. This way we’re better able to do so while we’re sleeping. For example: While you’re awake, check the clock – look away – then look back at the clock. In the waking state, the time will stay the same. In the dream state, the time will likely change. Notice the waking state about 10 times a day, reminding yourself that you are awake.

 

5) The MILD technique. MILD stands for Mneumonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming. As you are falling asleep, repeat a phrase to yourself over and over again. For example: “I will know when I am dreaming.” By doing this you’re encouraging the brain to be aware as dreaming happens, and this increases the possibility of lucid dreams.

 

6) Go back to the dream. If you wake up from a dream, stay in bed and record the details in your journal. Then when you try to go back to sleep, focus your mind on returning to the same dream. Play it out as if you were aware of the dream until you fall asleep.

 

7) The WILD technique. WILD stands for Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming. When you wake up, instead of writing down the dream, keep your eyes closed and go right back to sleep. As you lie there, keep the mind focused and aware. Sometimes in this state, when the mind is awake and the body goes to sleep, you might become aware of “sleep paralysis.” If this makes you uneasy, remind yourself that this is temporary so that you can lucid dream, and that you are safe and comfortable. Salvador Dali, Benjamin Franklin, and Mary Shelley are known to have used this technique to help themselves dream up some of their greatest works.

 

8) Stay in the dream. Often beginning ludic dreamers get excited when they realize that they are in a dream that they wake themselves up. To stay in the dream, experts recommend that you distract the mind from the physical sensations of waking up. While in the dream you could rub your hands together, spin around, fall backwards, or continue doing what you were doing in the dream.

 

9) Video gaming. A recent study found that video gaming is associated with more ability to remember dreams. Video gamers are often immersed in a dream-like, fictional world where they have control over their movements and activities. Just make sure to stay off the screen 1 hour or more before bed to get a good night’s rest.

 

Like any skill, you need to practice and be patient as you work on lucid dreaming. The first step is just to relax and observe. Enjoy the process. Sweet dreams!

More sleep tips at : www.BetterSleep.org

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18 Jan

Defining Self Care

“Self-care” has become somewhat of a buzz word lately. So many people are talking about it, especially online. In most of the discussions, self-care is used to describe taking a bath, getting a massage, having some aromatherapy, and the like. It kind of comes off as prioritizing yourself, maybe to the point of being selfish. But let’s really unpack this, and understand what self-care really means.

 

This is my definition of self-care: Being responsible for your own happiness and well-being. We can’t “get” happiness from any outside source. That means we can’t buy it, and we can’t rely on anyone else to provide it for us, or give it to us. So, if we’re not happy or well, we can’t blame anyone or anything – the buck, so to speak, stops with ourselves. When we can understand that, then we can make more informed choices about what we do, and how we do it.

 

For example, let’s look at the three pillars of health in Ayurveda, and how this relates to self-care.

 

1) Food: Food is anything we “eat” through any of the senses. What do you put in your mouth, what do you smell, what do you touch, what do you watch, what are you listening to? If you’re stressed out, yet continue to watch violent television shows, or listen to argumentative talk shows on the car radio, you need to make different choices. If your digestion is poor, and you’re eating junk food late at night, you need to be doing something different. This is self-care – knowing how to take care of yourself body, mind, and spirit… and actually doing it. No one else can do it for you. You absolutely have control here – so we have to look at our habits, and stop being on auto-pilot.

 

2) Sleep: You’ve heard me talk about sleep for years as the spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council. What could be easier than going to bed at a reasonable time? And yet, we don’t do it! We have every excuse to stay up later than we should. We’re on our screens way too late, we don’t invest in our sleep by making sure we have a new mattress and pillow. It’s like we see sleep as a chore, something more to fit into our busy day. Like a little kid, we don’t want to go to bed because we’re afraid we’ll be missing something! It’s time to change that mind-set and understand how important sleep is in every area of our lives. Self-care means being disciplined about your sleep schedule, and sleep hygiene so that sleep can actually work for you!

 

3) Activity: Activity is everything we do in our lives – work, exercise, relationships, our daily routine and habits. It’s not just what you’re doing, but also what you’re thinking about. Where is your attention focused? Self-care is also knowing our limits. Are you taking on too much? Are you being too active, is life too hectic? Or are you not active enough, is life too slow? There’s a beautiful “Goldilocks” amount of activity that’s unique to each of us, and “just right” for each one of us. Find yours and take care of yourself in this way. You might have to say no when you feel obligated or pressed to say yes, or say yes when you’re a bit uncomfortable jumping into something new. Tune into your intuition and do what is best for you.

 

Take good care!

Lots of love,

Lissa

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14 Jan

The Days of Our Lives

The great playwright William Shakespeare is often quoted as having said: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”  Do you ever feel like life is just one big drama?  We all have our parts to play, and our lines to say, and our days continue like a series of scripted scenes.  Yet who is writing this script?  Are we automatically reacting to the cues we are given, or are we indeed creating our lives, and our relationships, as we go along?

 

Ayurveda is the Science of Life.  From this centuries old philosophy we can learn everything we need to know to help our relationships grow and flourish.  Life is all about relationships.  Because we are in this world, we have a relationship with everyone and everything else in this world.  Our most important relationship is with ourselves.  When we know who we are, when we understand our place in the world, then we see how we fit in, and how everyone else fits in as well.  This wisdom shows us our interconnectedness, and how we really are here to help each other in so many ways.

 

The ayurvedic concept of doshas, or mind/body types, gives us insight into our inherent nature.  Our dosha is like a fingerprint, individual to each one of us.  And yet, one of the doshas is typically dominant in our personality and physiology.  When we know our dosha, we are given some direction as to how to bring out our strengths and overcome our challenges.

 

Vata dosha is made up of air and space.  People who are dominant in Vata generally appear to be long and lean.  The skin in thin and dry, and you can often see the veins through the skin.  The Vata person tends to have cold hands and feet.  Vatas are quick thinkers; they are creative, flexible and spontaneous.  They have sparkling personalities and enjoy trying new things.  However, when they are out of balance, when too much Vata is present, then they become anxious.  People might see them as “flaky” or “air headed” because they have a hard time remembering things.  Vatas can be disorganized and easily distracted.  In nature, you can see Vata in a hummingbird, flitting quickly from one thing to the next.  The hummingbird exerts a lot of energy and gets worn out quickly.

 

Vata types often have a difficult time traveling.  Because there is so much movement, there becomes an excess of air and space, so Vata gets out of balance easily.  This shows up as anxiety, nervousness, and even nausea.  They might have a hard time getting to sleep, and become constipated.  The best thing that Vatas can do to stay in balance is Abhyanga, a warm oil self-massage.  Warm and oily is the opposite of cold and dry, so this is the perfect remedy.  Abhyanga can be done in the morning, before a shower, or at nighttime, before bed.  It’s also a good idea for Vatas to sip warm water with lemon throughout the day. Vatas need to eat warm, cooked foods, especially while traveling, because their digestion is sensitive.

 

Pitta dosha is made up of fire and water.  Pitta dominant people have an average build, and are more athletic.  Because fire is present, Pitta runs hot.  Pittas have warm hands, and often have some reddish qualities to their skin or hair.  They can have freckles, or can have grey hair or go bald at an early age.  Pittas are highly intelligent.  They make good business people because they are discerning and they have strong leadership skills.  However, when too much Pitta is present, they come off as critical and bossy, and an excess of fire brings out anger and impatience.  In nature, Pitta is represented in an eagle.  The eagle soars, thinks, and plans.  When it sees what it wants, it goes after it without hesitation, with determination and precision.

 

The hot months of summer are known as Pitta season.  Because of the heat, Pitta is more likely to get out of balance.  This can show up as anger, judgment, or irritability.  We want to cool down the fire without extinguishing it.  Cooling foods like cucumber and mint are very good during this time of year.  It is also important to protect the skin from the sun, and to shade the eyes, as Pitta eyes are very sensitive to light.

 

Kapha dosha is made up of earth and water.  Those with a dominance of kapha are bigger boned, and a bit heavier than average.  The skin is clear and moist, and the hair is thick and lustrous.  Kaphas also tend to have big eyes and full lips.  They are beautiful!  Kaphas are loving and loyal.  They make wonderful teachers, doctors, and parents.  Kaphas have an easy-going nature and are very patient.  When Kapha is out of balance they can lack motivation.  They can seem lazy, stubborn, and possessive.  In nature, we can see Kapha in a swan, gracefully taking its time gliding across the water.  The swan is relaxed and comfortable in its surroundings.

 

A Kapha imbalance can show up as weight gain, depression, or as allergies.  To keep Kapha in check, exercise is vital.  Kaphas need to exercise daily, to the point of sweating.  They also need to be around people – socialization helps them to be happy, they are energized and stimulated when surrounded by good friends and engaged in lively conversation.  When Kaphas feel the urge to sit on the couch and eat, they should really call up a friend and go for a walk.

 

We would never expect a hummingbird to behave like an eagle.  And yet, with our loved ones, we often find ourselves asking another person to change – to do something that is contrary to his or her nature.  Expecting a swan to suddenly get up and flit around the flowers is absurd – just as it is to want a Kapha person to get skinny and multi-task a dozen projects.

 

It takes all of the doshas to make the world function.  We each have qualities that enhance our life here on earth.  For example, in a business setting, it’s good to include each of the doshas on a team.  The Vatas will brainstorm and come up with the big ideas.  The Pittas will come up with a plan to manage the team so that the ideas can become a reality.  And the Kaphas will shore up morale, and make sure that the project is seen through to its fruition.  We can work with our strengths to create an environment that serves everyone and achieves the best possible outcomes for the company.

 

First, Ayurveda teaches us how to be the best that we can be by staying in balance.  When we are in balance we think clearly and make the best decisions for ourselves.  We are better in our relationships because we are confident in knowing who we are.  In our personal relationships, Ayurveda can teach us to love and accept people as they are.  We can strive to help them stay in balance, and to be their healthiest and happiest.

 

There is a natural order, and balance to the Universe.  That is often why we choose the partners we choose.  We help to balance each other out.  A Pitta person can help a Vata person to be organized.  A Vata person can help a Kapha person to lighten up and have more fun, just by being around.  A Kapha person can help a Pitta person to remember what is most important in life.  When we learn to love and accept our partners for who they are, to recognize their nature, then our relationships will thrive.  Ayurveda shows us the beauty and benefits that happen naturally when we release any unrealistic expectations and learn to love “as is” with an open heart.

 

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20 Nov

Paradigm Shift

Over the past two decades, there has been a quiet revolution in the fields of psychology and neuroscience challenging two fundamental assumptions. The first is that humans are hardwired to experience emotions and that emotions happen automatically. Unless you’re a saint, if you’ve been honked at by a rude driver, you will have seen this firsthand. You will have experienced reacting in a way that feels completely automatic (and likely regrettable). This is certainly what seems to be happening. The proximity between stimulus (the honk) and reaction (anger) is so close that your perception was that you had no choice but to react in a certain way. To make sense of this experience, you likely have attributed this phenomenon to the myth that humans are emotion- ally hardwired.

This is understandable. Early humans who were able to band together effectively increased their likelihood of survival. Evolution favored traits that let people be accepted by and remain part of the clan. In essence, get- ting excluded from the tribe was an almost certain death sentence. As a result, your brain has evolved to recognize threats to your social status and to respond in ways that protect you from risk to your psychological safety. In fact, brain scans show that when you feel excluded or rejected, the part of your brain associated with physical pain—the anterior cingulate cortex—lights up. Hence, as we saw in chapter one, when someone looks at you a certain way or makes a disparaging remark, your amygdala is triggered and institutes a fight/flight/freeze response, releasing the hormone epinephrine and instigating a series of physiological responses. This reaction, known as the amygdala hijack, in turn impairs your most sophisticated mental capabilities—your ability to think rationally, to be creative, to problem solve, to exercise self-control. What started out as an essential survival adaptation—to keep you safe from physical harm or to keep you included in the tribe—has become a major limitation to effectiveness in modern-day life.

So while there may be something to the notion of hardwiring, the truth is far more nuanced and interesting. Your brain is a prediction machine, continuously comparing new stimuli to past experience and making guesses about what action your body should take based

on those comparisons. Beginning in early infancy, your brain begins to construct rules or beliefs for each cate- gory of experience, and they get embedded in your pro- gram. Over time, these rules solidify, and you think it is just the way things are—the way you are wired. Driver honking at you equals someone treating you unfairly, which means you must be angry.

One of the leading researchers in this area, Lisa Feldman Barrett, has arrived at a profound and revolutionary conclusion challenging the myth that humans are hard- wired:

Our emotions aren’t built-in, waiting to be revealed. They are made. By us. We don’t recognize emotions or identify emotions: we construct our own emotional experiences, and our perceptions of others’ emotions, on the spot, as needed, through a complex interplay of systems. Human beings are not at the mercy of mythical emotion circuits buried deep within animalistic parts of our highly evolved brain: we are architects of our own experience.8

The second fundamental assumption being challenged is the view that what you perceive through your senses—primarily sight and sound—dictates the way you feel. In reality, it is mostly the other way around. We touched on this notion in chapter one with the introduction of polyvagal theory—the idea that your central nervous system is constantly scanning your internal state to detect physiological markers that suggest potential threats to your social safety. You continuously experience countless sensations in your body—the result of your glucose levels, breathing rate, lack of sleep, etc. Your brain’s process of registering and integrating changes in

these sensations is known as interoception. Interoception influences what external sensory input you pay attention to. If sleep-deprived and hungry, you will experience the same situation completely differently than you would if well-rested and fed. Again, Barrett does a wonderful job of summarizing this for us:

You construct the environment in which you live. You might think about your environment as existing in the outside world, separate from yourself, but that’s a myth. You (and other creatures) do not simply find yourself in an environment and either adapt or die. You construct your environment—your reality—by virtue of what sensory input from the physical environment your brain selects; it admits some as information and ignores some as noise. And this selection is intimately linked to interoception.9

The implications of this paradigm shift in under- standing human behavior are massive. The sum of your genetics, childhood experiences, culture, neurophysiology (including the anatomy of your brain and, more importantly, your physiological state) all help shape your program and, in turn, how you behave. Your brain uses the rules of your program to make predictions about what actions are most appropriate for any given stimulus. This understanding is revolutionary, and it’s good news. While it is certainly understandable to feel as if certain behaviors are automatic, you nevertheless have the capacity to control every response to every situation. The question now becomes what you can do to master your code (including your physiology) so that the actions you take are more consistent with the choices you would like to make. Since you are truly the architect and author of your experience, you have the possibility (and dare I say responsibility) to create the conditions that will allow you to construct a different way of perceiving and reacting to your circum- stances. The bad news? No more excuses!

 

Darren Gold is a Managing Partner at The Trium Group, where he advises and coaches CEOs and leadership teams at many of the world’s most innovative companies, including Roche, Dropbox, Lululemon, Sephora, Cisco, eBay, Activision, and Warner Bros. He is the author of the new book Master Your Code: The Art, Wisdom, and Science of Leading an Extraordinary LifeLearn more at www.darrenjgold.com.

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15 Oct

AVOIDING YOUR BEST WORK LEADS TO CREATIVE CONSTIPATION

The following is a modified excerpt from Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done.

***

There’s a big difference between what your best work and all the other work you do. Doing your best work is fulfilling while you’re doing it and also creates a bridges the gap between the life you live today and the life your soul yearns to be in. And your best work isn’t just about work you get paid for — it could be playing in your hobby band, raising your kids, being the church secretary, or community volunteer projects.

Your best work is always going to be challenging because it’s the work that matters to you. And because it matters to you, you’re going to be thrashing — that is flailing, having mini identity crises, “researching”, and all the other kinds of meta-work that doesn’t actually push the work forward — along the way. Best work is starting to look suspiciously like hard work, and our natural reaction is to avoid doing hard work and to instead find something easier to do.

When it comes to your best work, not doing it comes with two major costs: (1) you won’t be able to thrive, and (2) you’ll be stricken with creative constipation. Since I’ve already discussed the link between thriving and your best work, let’s talk about creative constipation, or the pain of not doing your best work.

Creative constipation is exactly what it sounds like. We take in ideas and inspiration that get converted into aspirations, goals, and projects, and at a certain point, if we’re not pushing them out in the form of finished projects, they start to back up on us.

And like physical constipation, at a certain point, we get toxic. We don’t want to take in any more ideas. We don’t want to do any more projects. We don’t want to set any more goals or plans. We’re full and fed up.

That inner toxicity becomes the broth that flavors all our stories about ourselves and the world; our head trash gets more pronounced and intense, and what we see in the world goes from bright to dark. Creative constipation leads to behaviors in which we lash out at the world—and sometimes even more intensely at ourselves. We become resentful of others—even people we love—who are doing their best work.

Our ability to feel positive emotional peaks is diminished at the same time that our ability to feel negative emotional troughs is amplified. You’ve no doubt encountered the tortured, depressed soul who’s creatively constipated—and you may have been there yourself.

There’s a reason that nearly every spiritual tradition links creativity and destruction: the same energy that fuels creation also fuels destruction. The Jewish, Christian, and Muslim God creates and destroys; “beating swords into plowshares” works equally in reverse. The Hindu god Shiva is seen as

a destroyer who makes way for creativity. Creativity and destruction are seen as a continual loop in the Taoist concept of yin and yang.

Spiritual insights such as these also show up in our everyday lives. Think about how often you’ve engaged in retail therapy—and thus destroyed your time and resources—because you’re unsatisfied about something in your life. Think about how often you’ve indulged in emotional eating because you’re not creating the change you want to see in your life. Think about how many people blow up their lives in a midlife crisis because the career and life they’ve made haven’t satisfied their deep needs.

Now think about the people you know or have read about who are doing their best work. Notice how they’re healthier, happier, (usually) more financially comfortable, and in good relationships with others? Doing their best work creates meaning for them at the same time that it cocreates who they want to be in the world. And these folks know that doing their work in the world is the wheel of change, meaning, and growth, more so than merely being stuck in their heads.

So at both deep and practical levels, we can choose to channel our energy to do our best work and thrive, or we can choose to leave it unharnessed to gradually destroy ourselves, our relationships, our resources, and the world around us.

Better to do the hard work of creation than the hard work of repairing the destruction we’ve wrought.

 

Charlie Gilkey is an author, entrepreneur, philosopher, Army veteran, and renowned productivity expert. Founder of Productive Flourishing, Gilkey helps professional creatives, leaders, and changemakers take meaningful action on work that matters. His new book is Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done. Learn more at productiveflourishing.com.

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03 Oct

Practice Self-Compassion

**Excerpted from “Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People” (Sounds True, Oct. 22, 2019)

Self-compassion means directing loving-kindness inwardly. Instead of beating yourself up, give yourself a break and acknowledge that you did your best in any circumstance. When you become your own champion, you will feel more protected in the world.

Research shows that people who are compassionate toward their own shortcomings experience greater well-being than those who harshly judge themselves. We all make mistakes, but the larger lesson of love is how we treat ourselves at those times.

Still, it’s often easier to have compassion for others than oneself. Over the years, many psychotherapist friends have lamented to me about this issue. Don’t worry. This is an area of growth that loving people must address so they can be more compassionate with their own struggles.

Compassion can be learned. Start by planning at least one act of kindness toward yourself daily. For example, turn off your computer and enjoy a walk or tell yourself, “Good job,” or “I’m happy that I didn’t react nastily to a controlling friend.” My Taoist teacher says, “Beating yourself up a little bit less each day is spiritual progress.”

SET YOUR INTENTION

I will be my own best friend. I am not perfect, nor are any of us. I will not beat myself up. I will treat myself with kindness.

 

*    *    *

Judith Orloff, M.D., is a New York Times bestselling author, a member of the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty, and has a Facebook Empath Support Community with more than 6,000 members. She has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, and in Oprah Magazine, the New York Times and more. Her new book, Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People  (Sounds True, Oct. 22, 2019), draws from her own experiences as an empath to share the secret to well-being. Learn more at drjudithorloff.com.

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19 Sep

Being Thankful Out Loud

An excerpt from Loving Out Loud by Robyn Spizman

 

While it can be easy to feel like it is impossible to make a positive difference in these divisive times, the new book Loving Out Loud: The Power of a Kind Word by New York Times bestselling author Robyn Spizman promises that our words can go a long way in that regard, especially when we share them out loud.

 

Loving Out Loud offers readers creative ideas and practical insights for cultivating kindness in their lives while connecting more deeply with the world around them. The book is divided into chapters that provide readers with powerful ways for raising kinder children; loving their significant others, family, and friends; and valuing teachers, coworkers, and everyone in between. We hope you will enjoy this excerpt from the book.

 

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Since I haven’t thanked you yet today, let me do so now. I realize you could be doing any number of things at this very second, but you chose to read this article. For that I am truly grateful.

 

Having a mindful, kind attitude can change our view of life. I like to think of it as being a kindness “influencer,” as with social media. Imagine together starting a Loving Out Loud (LOL) campaign of caring about each other. Watch what happens when you share an attitude of gratitude in your world and show appreciation to others out loud — it’s electric and kinetic!

 

Albert Schweitzer summed up gratitude when he said, “Often…our own light goes out, and is rekindled by some experience we go through with a fellow-man. Thus we have each of us cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

 

When we appreciate someone and become that spark, a thank-you becomes a gift and lights us up. We all have so many people to thank. How we thank someone becomes part of our signature style of kindness. Studies continue to prove that the more we do for others, the happier we feel. There is a direct correlation. Cultivating kindness is a wonderful opportunity to uplift others as well as ourselves. When we turn our attention to noticing what we are grateful for, we bring out the best in ourselves.

 

If you stop and think of all the people you know who deserve a thank-you, you’ll be surprised to see just how many have an impact on your day, along with your life.

How a Thank-You Can Brighten Your Life

There are days when we all feel down or blue. A thank-you “out loud” is a really nice way I know to shift a mood. It can begin with the power of a simple hello, showing your genuine delight and lift up another person, including yourself.

 

A kindhearted hello leads to friendships, new contacts, relationships, and more. You are not just breaking the ice but are igniting an opportunity when you take the risk to connect with another person and reach out first, sharing positive words or an observation. You create the possibility of making a new friend. In return, you are also seen as friendly, outgoing, considerate, engaging, complimentary, and interested. These good traits contribute to making a wonderful first impression.

Be Thankful Out Loud

The words thank you are universal in their ability to spread good feelings. It’s clear that when we thank the people who touched our lives in little as well as powerful ways, we celebrate a part of life that validates each other.

 

Think for a moment:

  • Who has helped you along the way in your lifetime?
  • Who wrote recommendation letters on your behalf?
  • Who took the time to teach you to ride a bike, read a book, play an instrument, hit a home run, play tennis, or cook a special recipe?
  • Who makes your life easier or has come to your rescue?
  • Is there someone who has been there for you through thick and thin?
  • Do you practice saying “thank you”?

Every day there are opportunities around you, and when you seize them out loud, you build and increase your LOL radar. When you see someone in uniform who has served the country or provides safety or a public service, get in the habit of saying, “Thank you for your service.” Here are some other ideas.

Make a Thank-You Date

A friend recently reminded me how special it is to thank others out loud with a scheduled “thank you” date or get-together. Every year, she takes her babysitters out for a thank-you lunch dedicated to expressing her appreciation. It makes her kids’ caregivers feel special, and they make new friends at these dates, since they have so much in common. Whether it’s a lunch to thank a teacher, breakfast to thank Grandma for driving car pool, a mother-daughter walk at the park, or a dinner with a friend who volunteered to help you, thank-you dates are memorable and a tradition worth establishing.

 

Having written about the topic of thanks, love, and kindness for decades, I’ve discovered many clever ways to say “thank you,” some that don’t even use those words. For example, I loved it when a younger gentleman gave a handshake to an elderly coworker and said, “I want to shake the hand of the nicest person I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. You are one generous soul.”

 

I continue to marvel at all thank-yous that make us feel appreciated, but some hit it right out of the park. I’ll never forget one I received that made me smile from ear to ear. It has stuck with me over the years as among the most touching thank-yous ever to warm my heart.

 

I sent a holiday gift to a friend of mine’s daughter. As she opened it, her parents videotaped her reaction and sent me the thank-you video capturing her excitement. Her joy in unwrapping her present was off the charts. That was one gift that kept on giving joy!

 

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Robyn Spizman is the author of Loving Out Loud. She is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and popular keynote speaker who has appeared in the media for over three decades, including NBC’s Today show more than thirty times. She lives in Atlanta. Visit her online at http://www.robynspizman.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Loving Out Loud. Copyright ©2019 by Robyn Spizman. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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