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22 Jul

Cultivating Mindful Awareness for Better Focus

By Juliet Dreamhunter

Recent research has brought into focus an intriguing aspect of human behavior: the fleeting nature of our attention span. There are times when it feels like we’re just programmed to lose our focus and get easily sidetracked from achieving anything we had in mind.

Doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a fascinating book or a critical work project. When suddenly your phone pings with a notification, without even thinking about it, you probably reach to check it. It’s a knee-jerk reaction, much like the startle response to a loud sound or the flinch from a sudden bright light. You might think, “It’s just the way I’m wired. I can’t resist these distractions.”

Where did this notion come from? Well, it turns out that the roots of this quick-to-react tendency trace all the way back to our early ancestors, even though they didn’t have any of the technological miracles we enjoy today. In a world where immediate responses often meant the difference between survival and extinction, being alert to potential threats and reacting swiftly was a valuable asset.

Those survival instincts, hardwired in our brains through centuries, manifest in our modern world as a proneness to distractions. You see, when we shift our focus, the decision-making part of our brain lights up, similar to our ancestors’ brains reacting to danger signals.

But there’s a twist to this tale. Our brains are incredibly sophisticated, not just reacting to the world around us but also predicting what comes next. How does this work, you wonder?

From our early years, our brains start forming rules and patterns based on our experiences. Over time, these rules solidify, helping us make sense of the world. The ping from your phone, therefore, isn’t just a sound; it’s a cue that your brain associates with new information, an exciting social interaction, or even an urgent task.

Now, this is where the story takes a turn. There’s a growing school of thought that suggests our focus isn’t a finite, easily exhaustible resource. Instead, it’s something we can shape, control, and even cultivate. In other words, we’re not mere puppets pulled by the strings of an uncontrolled, easily distractible brain (as opposed to our less lucky animal friends. As humans, we have the power to reshape our brain in order to manage how we interact with our surroundings.

Additionally, our relationship with the environment isn’t as one-sided as it might seem. It’s easy to believe that our surroundings primarily dictate where our attention goes. However, it’s more of a two-way street.

Our bodily and emotional state also play a significant role. For instance, if you’re tired or hungry, your ability to focus on a complex task may falter. Conversely, if you’re well-rested and content, the same task may seem much easier to tackle.

This shift in perspective can be a game-changer for someone struggling to become more focused. It suggests we’re not just passive participants in a world full of distractions. Instead, we actively create our reality! We choose which stimuli to process as valuable information and which ones to dismiss as noise. It’s a bit like being a DJ, selecting the tracks that best fit the mood and skipping the ones that don’t.

Now that we’ve established this, let’s delve deeper and explore how we can use this understanding to our advantage. How can we cultivate this power to choose, control, and refine our focus? This is where mindfulness and meditation enter the picture.

Mindfulness is the practice of deliberately focusing on the present moment without judgment. It’s like training your mind to remain balanced on a tightrope, not wandering into the past or the future. And the best part? You can exercise this mental muscle anywhere, anytime.

Whether you’re sipping your morning coffee, listening to a friend, or merely breathing, mindfulness can be integrated into every aspect of your life.

Meditation, a most commonly known practice of mindfulness, can be particularly effective in enhancing our focus. In a way, it’s like hitting the gym, but for your mind. Regular meditation practice can help strengthen our ‘attention muscle’, making it less prone to distractions. In other words, it equips us with the ability to be in control of our own attention, consciously deciding where our focus goes.

By practicing mindfulness and meditation, we can harness our power to create our reality. These tools allow us to rewrite the rules formed by our brains, to modify the patterns that have solidified over time. Through this, we can transform our interactions with the world, making our experiences more meaningful and focused.

Now, the next question is, how can we use these tools to rediscover who we truly are? With the power to control our focus and consciously create our reality, the journey of self-discovery becomes all the more interesting.


Juliet Dreamhunter is a certified goal success coach and the founder of Juliety.

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31 May

Tea For Sleep

Chamomile Tea
Herbal teas like chamomile are not really “tea” at all because they do not come from the leaves of the tea plant, so they have no caffeine. Chamomile tea comes from a plant with small daisy-like flowers. This herbal tea has many healing properties and is famous for its reputation as a sleep aid. Its sedative effect comes from a flavonoid called apigenin that helps create a calming response in the brain so that we feel sleepy.
Variations on the tea theme
If you are using ready-made teabags you can simply put a few different flavors in your cup or teapot. If you are using loose tea you can mix the flavors dry and put the blend in an infuser. You might also add one or any combination of the following ingredients to your chamomile, or mix them up to make your own unique sleep brew:
–      Lavender is another flower that has been used for centuries to induce drowsiness. It pairs beautifully with chamomile.
–      Turmeric, also known as Curcumin, is well known to help ease inflammation. Turmeric root is delicious with chamomile tea. Simply add a few thin slices to your cup for extra sleep benefits
–      Lemon Balm reduces stress and helps to relieve both indigestion and anxiety.
–      Valerian is a muscle relaxant and a strong sleep aid. However valerian root on its own it tastes kind of earthy, and is not very enjoyable to drink. Blending it with chamomile or any of these other variations ingredients makes it a lot more palatable.
–      Ginger root is great for digestion and also has anti-viral and antibiotic properties. If you can’t sleep because you have an upset stomach or a cold a few slices of ginger is nice to add to your tea.
–      Cinnamon is high in cinnamaldehyde, responsible for many of its health benefits. Cinnamon helps to lower blood sugar levels and fight infections. An easy way to get just the small amount you need and not overpower the other flavors is to stir your tea with a cinnamon stick.
–      Rose helps to calm and bring bliss to the mind. Rose tea can be made from rose hips or rose petals or both.
–      Honey contributes to the release of melatonin in the brain, and gives a natural sweetness to the tea. Honey also supplies the liver with glycogen storage, giving it fuel to recover during rest so that it doesn’t have to produce stress hormones. This way the body can rejuvenate more easily, helping us to sleep more soundly.
–      Himalayan salt contains minerals such as magnesium, essential for relaxation and stress reduction. You just need a little bit, a pinch will do.
–      Coconut oil is a healthy fat that helps in the production of sleep hormones. Half a teaspoon melts easily in the hot water of tea and helps herbs to assimilate in the body more quickly.
–      Milk or plant-based milks provide protein rich in an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan helps boost melatonin.
My video for sleep teas that includes a BANANA TEA that you can make yourself!
Slumber Time Tea from MAPI is a beautiful Ayurvedic blend that is delicious!
And check out the Slumbertime Spa Set that includes bath salts, aromatherapy and a scented soap! So luxurious!
Join our FREE 7-day virtual SLEEP RETREAT
Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram.com/lissacoffey for weekly sleep tip videos that I post with the Better Sleep Council!
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24 Mar

The Oral Microbiome by Dr. Akil Palanisamy, MD

As we work to heal the gut microbiome and reduced intestinal permeability, we also must consider the oral microbiome. This pivotal factor is often overlooked in autoimmune conditions (and other chronic diseases), even though it has powerful effects on dental health and diseases, the gut microbiome, and systemic inflammation.

Through multiple mechanisms, oral bacteria can play a role in disparate conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, colon cancer, lung infections, brain abscesses, and autoimmunity.i For this reason, the oral microbiome has a substantial impact on the immune system and can sometimes be the missing link in terms of helping a patient with autoimmunity to achieve remission.

The oral microbiome contains the second largest collection of bacteria in the body after the gut, harboring around 6 billion bacteria and over 700 different species.ii Although this microbiome is relatively well-studied, newer more advanced techniques have found that these numbers are likely underestimating the quantity and diversity of bacteria.

We swallow a whopping 1-2 L of saliva per day. Assuming on the low end that we swallow only 1 L per day leads to an interesting calculation. Considering that saliva contains between 800 million to more than 1 billion bacteria/mL,iii that works out to an incredible 800 billion to > 1 trillion oral bacteria swallowed per day – more powerful than almost any probiotic available on the market. And there are no breaks or “days off” from this influx of bacteria – it is a constant and daily occurrence. From this, we can understand how the oral microbiome could have such a significant impact on the gut microbiome and overall systemic inflammation.


A Key Player in Autoimmunity

Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis) is an oral bacterium that is involved in the pathogenesis of periodontitis, an inflammatory disease that destroys the gums and can lead to tooth loss. It also plays a key role in rheumatoid arthritis, as these bacteria are potent inducers of immune mediated proinflammatory responses leading to bone damage and systemic inflammation.iv P. Gingivalis is also implicated in rheumatoid arthritis through molecules known as “citrullinated proteins”.

Accumulating evidence suggests a role for autoimmunity against these citrullinated proteins in the development of rheumatoid arthritis. By driving the production of these proteins, this bacteria may contribute to the development of RA. In fact, anti-cyclic citrullinated protein antibodies (anti-CCP antibodies) are the most common rheumatoid arthritis biomarker, found in the blood of most patients with RA. A more recently discovered bacteria, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, is also an inducer of citrullinated proteins and is being studied for its role in RA.v


Leaky Mouth Syndrome

The epithelial cells lining the mouth maintain a strong barrier, limiting the entry of microbes and toxins, because the mouth is the gateway to the world and the first line of defense against pathogens. Just as dysbiosis in the G.I. tract contributes to impaired barrier function, oral dysbiosis can lead to increased permeability and the condition of “leaky mouth,” in which inflammation in the oral mucosa caused by dysbiosis and other factors damages the normal barrier, allowing for the entry of bacteria, toxins, and other microbes into the bloodstream. Because the mouth and gums are highly vascular, anything that slips through can easily travel to other parts of the body and cause complications—as with P. gingivalis. A striking example of this permeability was seen in a 9-year-old with celiac disease (an autoimmune disease exacerbated by gluten exposure) who struggled with abdominal pain despite a strict gluten-free diet. She was symptomatic and had positive serum markers for active disease, which indicated she was somehow getting exposed to gluten. The cause for this turned out to be her orthodontic retainer—gluten is a common additive in plastics, and she was absorbing trace amounts orally. Discontinuing use led to resolution of her symptoms and her celiac markers returned to normal. vi


Oral Dysbiosis in Autoimmunity

Dysbiosis in the oral microbiome has been discovered in patients with a number of autoimmune diseases. For example, patients with autoimmune liver diseases such as autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis exhibit signs of dysbiosis in their oral microbiota with increases in the levels of certain pathogens (overgrowth of harmful bacteria in their mouth).vii Other autoimmune conditions in which changes in the oral microbiome have been identified include Sjogren’s syndrome, systemic sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and Crohn’s disease. viii

As we’ve learned, rheumatoid arthritis is also connected with the oral microbiome; studies from Europe, Asia, and Canada have found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis have a distinct oral (and gastrointestinal) microbiome compared to healthy controls. ix


Strengthen Your Oral Microbiome

To support the health of the oral microbiome, teeth, and gums, of course good nutrition is essential. A balanced diet rich in micronutrients, minerals, and essential fatty acids, like the food plan offered in Chapter 10, is the foundation. Adequate intake of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K2 support healthy teeth.

Avoid processed sweeteners such as sugar or high fructose corn syrup because simple sugars feed the growth of bad bacteria in both the oral and gastrointestinal microbiome. Processed fructose (anything not found naturally in fruits) increases LPS and intestinal permeability, as we discussed earlier in this chapter.

Good dental hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing are important. Avoid commercial mouthwashes, because the repeated exposure to antibacterial compounds can have detrimental effects on the oral microbiome. Instead, I recommend the Ayurvedic practice of oil-pulling, which I describe below.


Prevent Dry Mouth

Maintaining adequate levels of saliva is crucial because saliva contains enzymes, antibodies, and proteins that help maintain a healthy oral microbiome. Scientists have discovered many vital salivary components that both directly and indirectly prevent dysbiosis in the mouth.x This is why people with dry mouth from insufficient saliva are at higher risk of tooth decay, bad breath, and dysbiosis. In such cases, chewing gum with xylitol, sucking on ice cubes, and increasing water intake can help increase salivary production. A humidifier, especially in your bedroom while you sleep, may help as well.


Breathe Right

Chronic mouth breathing is a major cause of dry mouth. We were designed to breathe through our nose, which will filter and humidify the air we take in. Mouth breathing increases the odds of snoring and dries out the mouth, which can contribute to dysbiosis – especially if it occurs for prolonged periods such as during sleep. If you regularly wake up with bad breath or dry mouth, it’s likely you are breathing through your mouth overnight.

If this is the case, you might try mouth taping, which is a simple solution that can have big benefits. Immediately before bed, apply petroleum jelly to your lips and place a piece of hypoallergenic tape horizontally across both your lips. There are brands of tape made specifically for this purpose; however, you can also use paper tape, the kind of you might find in a first-aid kit. Many of my patients who swear that this technique dramatically improves their sleep quality. There aren’t many available studies on mouth taping, but it is inexpensive and easy to try, and relatively safe. I recommend it only because it can reduce dry mouth as well as gum disease, throat infections, bad breath, and oral dysbiosis.


Green Tea – A True Superfood

When it comes to supporting the oral microbiome, one beverage requires special mention: green tea. Most widely known for its antioxidants and cardiovascular benefits, green tea contains polyphenols (dietary antioxidants) that serve as beneficial prebiotics for both the oral and intestinal microbiota. Studies show that drinking green tea regularly improves heart disease risk profiles and reduces the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by up to 31%. xi  It also has benefits in preventing diabetes, metabolic syndrome and colon cancer. xii

But green tea also has numerous benefits for the oral and gut microbiome. Studies show that two cups of green tea daily improve the diversity of the salivary microbiome in healthy adults, and increases Ruminococci and Bifidobacteria in the gut as well as Roseburia, Feacalibacterium, and Eubacterium – which produce beneficial metabolites called short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). xiii

The medicinal properties of green tea likely stem from antioxidants known as catechins; to boost your daily intake of these powerful compounds, add a quarter teaspoon of matcha green tea powder—which is very high in catechinsxiv—to your daily cup of green tea.

Lab studies have confirmed that green tea inhibits the growth of oral bacteria.xv Likely as a result of this, studies also show that it reduces bad breath.xvi Swishing green tea around in your mouth before swallowing is a good way to add oral benefits to the many systemic benefits of this healthy beverage.


Oil Pulling and Tongue Scraping

There are a variety of other practices that can be beneficial to your oral microbiome. Oil pulling, in which you swish oil around in your mouth for about 5-10 minutes and then discard it, is an Ayurvedic practice that supports the oral microbiome. Ayurveda believes that oil pulling can prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. Studies have confirmed that regular oil pulling with coconut oil is able to significantly reduce levels of bacteria in the saliva, and also reduce plaque levels, thus improving dental health and cutting down on the harmful bacteria that can lead to autoimmunity. xvii

Tongue scraping, another traditional technique, is also beneficial. This can be done with either with a toothbrush or with a tongue scraper and helps to clear excess bacteria from the tongue and removes the buildup of tongue coating, if present. Tongue scraping has been shown to improve periodontal markers and reduce markers of inflammation in the gum tissues. xviii

In Ayurveda, the tongue is a microcosm for the entire G.I. tract, so in that tradition, tongue scraping is believed to provide a gentle stimulation and “internal massage” to all the digestive organs.


Testing for and Treating Dysbiosis

Caring for the oral microbiome and preventing dental dysbiosis is important for helping keeping the immune system balanced. If you suspect you might have oral dysbiosis, look for the following clues: bad breath, gingivitis, tooth decay, or other periodontal diseases.

If you are asymptomatic but suffer from autoimmunity, it’s still a good idea to test your oral bacteria. Newer salivary tests for pathogenic bacteria such as P. gingivalis are available from companies like OralDNA and others – but talk to your dentist about whether such a test is right for you. If you do have high levels of potentially deleterious oral bacteria, consider using antimicrobial toothpastes such as Dentalcidin or PerioBiotic to help address the dysbiosis.

i M. Kilian et al., “The Oral Microbiome – An Update for Oral Healthcare Professionals,” British Dental Journal 221 (November 18, 2016): 657-666, https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.2016.865.

ii Priya Nimish Deo and Revati Deshmukh, “Oral Microbiome: Unveiling the Fundamentals,” Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology 23, no. 1 (January-April 2019): 122-128, https://doi.org/10.4103/jomfp.JOMFP_304_18. iii Elijah O. Oyetola et al., “Salivary Bacterial Count and its Implications on the Prevalence of Oral Conditions,” The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice 20, no. 2 (February 1, 2019): 184-189, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31058633/.

iv Carol Perricone et al., “Porphyromonas gingivalis and Rheumatoid Arthritis,” Current Opinion in Rheumatology 31, no. 5 (September 2019): 517-524, https://doi.org/10.1097/BOR.0000000000000638.

v Eduardo Gómez-Bañuelos et al., “Rheumatoid Arthritis-Associated Mechanisms of Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans,” Journal of Clinical Medicine 8, no. 9 (September 2019): 1309, https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8091309.

vi Zebunnissa Memon et al., “An Orthodontic Retainer Preventing Remission in Celiac Disease,” Clinical Pediatrics (Philadelphia) 52, no. 11 (November 2013): 1034-1037, https://doi.org/10.1177/0009922813506254.

vii Kazumichi Abe et al., “Gut and Oral Microbiota in Autoimmune Liver Disease,” Fukushima Journal of Medical Science 65, no. 3 (January 9, 2020): 71-75, https://doi.org/10.5387/fms.2019-21.

viii Nikolaos G. Nikitakis, “The Autoimmunity-oral Microbiome Connection,” Oral Diseases 23, no. 7 (October 2017): 828-839, https://doi.org/10.1111/odi.12589.

ix Ashutosh K. Mangalam, Meeta Yadav, and Rjwardhan Yadav, “The Emerging World of Microbiome in Autoimmune Disorders: Opportunities and Challenges,” Indian Journal of Rheumatology 16, no. 1 (March 23, 2021): 57-72, https://doi.org/10.4103/injr.injr_210_20.

x Kilian, “The Oral Microbiome,” 657-666.

xi Shinichi Kuriyama, “The Relation between Green Tea Consumption and Cardiovascular Disease as Evidenced by Epidemiological Studies,” The Journal of Nutrition 138, no. 8 (August 1, 2008): 1548S-1553S, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/138.8.1548S.

xii Sabu M. Chacko et al., “Beneficial Effects of Green Tea: A Literature Review,” Chinese Medicine 5 (April 6, 2010): 13, https://doi.org/10.1186/1749-8546-5-13.

xiii Xiaojie Yuan et al., “Green Tea Liquid Consumption Alters the Human Intestinal and Oral Microbiome,” Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 62, no. 12 (June 2018): 1800178, https://doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.201800178.

xiv David J. Weiss and Christopher R. Anderton, “Determination of Catechins in Matcha Green Tea by Micellar Electrokinetic Chromatography,” Journal of Chromatography A 1011, no. 1-2 (September 5, 2003): 173-180, https://doi.org/10.1016/s0021-9673(03)01133-6.

xv J. Steinmann et al., “Anti-infective Properties of Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG), a Component of Green Tea,” British Journal of Pharmacology 168, no. 5 (March 2013): 1059-1073, https://doi.org/10.1111/bph.12009.

xvi Parth Lodhia et al., “Effect of Green Tea on Volatile Sulfur Compounds in Mouth Air,” Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology (Tokyo) 54, no. 1 (February 2008): 89-94, https://doi.org/10.3177/jnsv.54.89.

xvii Oghenekome Gbinigie et al., “Effect of Oil Pulling in Promoting Oro Dental Hygiene: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials,” Complementary Therapies in Medicine 26 (June 2016): 47-54, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2016.02.011.

xviii Buket Acar et al., “Effects of Oral Prophylaxis Including Tongue Cleaning on Halitosis and Gingival Inflammation in Gingivitis Patients: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial,” Clinical Oral Investigations 23, no. 4 (April 2019): 1829-1836, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00784-018-2617-5.

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17 Jan

Sleep Traditions Around the World

Everybody sleeps. We need sleep to stay alive. It’s our “reboot” time for the brain and body. But throughout history and cultures, sleep traditions vary. We already know “why” we sleep, and that doesn’t change no matter where we go. So, let’s explore the When, How, Who, Where and What in the worldwide study of sleep.


When and How Much We Sleep


Back in prehistoric days, sleep was likely broken up into two or more chunks during the long nights of winter months. This is known as “biphasic” or “polyphasic” sleep, and it continues in some nomadic and hunter-gatherer societies today. This sleep pattern allows people who need it more flexibility to sleep on and off throughout the day or night depending on their circumstances and what needs to be done.


In early farming societies, the typical sleep routine was to rise with the sun and sleep in the dark hours of night. This continuous, uninterrupted sleep is called “monophasic” sleep. With the introduction of electricity in the mid-1800s, which brought with it artificial light, people started staying up later. Now we get much less sleep than our ancestors did in the days before the lightbulb!


When television first came into our homes there were limited broadcast hours. No programming late at night meant nothing else to do, so people often went to bed when the shows ended. But now we not only have multiple channels of round-the-clock television, we’ve also got 24-hour access to the internet, meaning continuous entertainment, and many distractions to keep us up at night. Because of this, bedtimes have gotten later, yet we still need to get up early to get to work. It’s no surprise than 48% of Americans say they don’t get enough sleep.


Because of this, the nap is experiencing a kind of renaissance. Naps, or “siestas,” have been a long held tradition among adults in many countries, including Spain. In Japan, it is customary to take a work nap, called an “inemuri,” in order to increase productivity and show professional commitment to the job. Despite the inemuri, long work hours prevail, and hence the quality of nighttime sleep has deteriorated. It seems that sleep is more undervalued in Japan than anywhere else in the world, and sleep deprivation is endemic. In the United States, “nap pods” have become trendy in some companies. Employees are encouraged to use their break times for a quick nap in the hopes that they come back to work refreshed and energized. Though this isn’t always the case. Naps can interfere with much-needed nighttime sleep, and if people sleep too little, or too much during naptime, they can feel more groggy than they did before the nap.


Sleep patterns vary from country to country. One study from the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) showed than while overall participants got about 7.5 hours of sleep a night, the results from individual countries had quite a range. For example, in Japan the average night’s sleep duration for a person was 6 hours and 53 minutes, while in Portugal the average was 8 hours and 24 minutes. France came in at almost 9 hours, while the USA and Spain came in at about 8.5 hours a night.


When it comes to bedtime, it’s no surprise that Japan has the latest time – 16% of Japanese high school students say they go to bed after 1 am. And the early-riser award goes to Australia, with 12% of people getting up before 5 am.



Who We Sleep With


Who sleeps with us in the bed, or even in the room, has an influence on how much sleep we get at night. “Co-sleeping,” where the baby sleeps in the same bed as the mother, was popular until the 1800s, and is still common practice in many traditional or developing countries. Some experts claim that this facilitates bonding and breastfeeding on demand. They say it reduces stress on the mother and the baby as well as being practical. Others say that co-sleeping makes the child too dependent on the mother, and interferes with the parents’ relationship. The U.S. and some parts of Europe, including the United Kingdom, are in the minority of countries where parents expect their children to sleep in their own beds, in their own rooms.


In some countries, like Afghanistan for instance, family members all sleep in the same room. In the morning, they fold up their beds and blankets to make use of the room for other activities.


You might remember the “I Love Lucy” show, where Lucy and Ricky shared a bedroom and they each had their own twin-sized bed. Mostly that was done for the purposes of “standards and practices” of the network who didn’t want to show anything too racy on television. But that sleeping arrangement was also the case in many households at that time, as standardized sizes for king and queen mattresses didn’t hit the market until 1958. But even today, one in four U.S. couples sleep apart, for comfort or convenience, they just prefer it that way.


Worldwide, many more couples prefer to sleep apart. Studies show that 25-50% of married couples in Japan have either separate beds or separate rooms. In Canada, that number is 30-40%.



Where We Sleep and What We Sleep On


Here in the U.S. the King and California King mattresses are favorites for couples, but these large sizes aren’t as popular in other parts of the world.  In Germany for example, as well as Austria and Switzerland, a fashionable option is the paired double bed. That way the mattresses can be divided into two parts and there are more ways the room can be arranged.


Japan introduced the U.S. to the futon, and because of its flexibility, doubling as a couch for extra seating, they’ve become trendy with college students and young people. Most people in Japan use western-style mattresses, but the futon, and even the Tatami mat, still remain viable options for sleeping. In Central and South America hammocks are often used at siesta time, and in some areas, they are the go-to for nighttime sleeping as well. In areas of the world where mosquitoes, and malaria are a problem, beds are covered with special nets to keep the bugs out.


People everywhere in the world seem to acclimate to their environment so that they can sleep. Even in busy, urban areas like Cairo, or New York City, where there is traffic noise at all times of day and night, people can sleep with their windows open. Usually we think we need quiet to sleep, but after a long period of exposure, that noise becomes “white noise” and we don’t notice it as much. It’s likely a survival instinct of the human body! While many people enjoy peace and quiet, or soft meditative music to lull them to sleep, others say they like to fall asleep with the television on. Those TV watchers clearly haven’t read the advice from The Better Sleep Council – no technology in the bedroom!


No matter where in the world you live, or how much sleep you get, or who you sleep with, you will certainly get a better quality of sleep when you sleep on a quality mattress. Sweet Dreams!

 Lots of Sleep Tips at BetterSleep.org

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24 Dec

Ninja Barbie, a Shield to protect and overcome Pain!

How many of us have experienced pain in our lives? I dare say all of us! The pain of being excluded, the shame of rejection… those negative emotional barbs that we get handed by people throughout our journey (their pain and judgment). I am a transformation and performance coach, and to do my work, I needed to transform so I could walk the talk; I had to get to know my Ninja Barbie. The shield I had created to keep me safe to help me overcome my pain, that fierce inner warrior that would forge the way for me and help me survive another day!

As I started really understanding me, I realized that I was suffering from intense disconnection and separation from others. You see, in my story, I was “shamed” because of my divorce, my religion, my color, and my actions as a young child. For me to show up for my life, I built a resilience armour that would carry me through the most challenging times toward creating the life I have today. That shield is so aptly named Ninja Barbie.

The Gift of my Ninja Barbie

When I was in Ninja Barbie mode, I could get out of an emotional place and power forward. I could separate my home life (where I was in huge amounts of pain) and focus on my work life. My career was where I excelled, which made me feel worthy, fuelled my confidence, and provided what I needed to take care of my daughter and son. At work, I could channel my survival mode into focus; I was incredibly driven and learnt what I needed to avoid negative feedback, shaming or blame. I was living in a state of adrenalin. I was feeding off my stress hormone, which again fuelled my journey and career trajectory. Am I grateful for the Ninja Barbie protection that carried me and at times still slips into place? YES, I am for the following reasons:

  1. Helping me navigate the most painful period of my life
  2. Giving me the courage to RISE and face another day when all I wanted to do was lie down and not get up
  3. The determination to achieve my goals and more
  4. The ability to move through judgement and fear to survive and make a life for my children and me
  5. To carry my pain in a way that kept me moving forward.

Could the Ninja Barbie stay in place? The answer is NO. You see, the armour of my Ninja Barbie was slowly suffocating who I really am. I was surviving from day to day; I was not thriving. I was alone in a world filled with people. My pain seemed to be locked into my armour, and I was wearing it bravely, yet it was too heavy. I was starting to suffer mentally because living in a state of proving and scarcity is not a place of abundance and full potential; it’s not a place of joy and freedom. Living in my Ninja barbie was a place filled with anxiety, stress, and rigidity.

Taking off My Ninja Barbie; Releasing my Pain, Embracing my Freedom

I don’t believe it’s easy to lay down our armour when we have used it to stay safe for so long. Recently in a coaching session, I had a client ask me if she could use her sword in the “Arena.”(Where we show up and are seen for who we are) to protect herself. You see, we had been working on her transformation and her ability to be seen, be free and be herself. I shared with her that staying safe was something we needed to give ourselves through love and presence. When I am deeply connected with myself, my feelings, and my essence, I can recognise that interactions with others can be in the space of openness, honesty, generosity, and curiosity. My deep love for me first keeps me safe and allows me to empathise and connect with others. I can have the courage to communicate boundaries, accountability and also clarity. Why take off the armour?

  1. Under the armour, you are not able to connect with your emotions in a healthy way; you will struggle with love for yourself and love for others.
  2. Your armour will be a heavy weight to carry; it is forged with your shame and fear stories, and it is a hard exterior that can eventually take you into a very dark place.
  3. You will struggle to enjoy the feeling of deep human connection, trust, friendships, and love (our armour always makes things conditional!).
  4. You will struggle to be the ME you want to be because your armour will take you down coping behaviours that are never good for your mental and physical health.

Taking the armour off, ONE story at a time, Choosing YOU!

When I first realised my armour hampered me, I was stuck in a strange place. Am I not choosing ME by wearing my armour?  I think that is what we tell ourselves when we come from a place of fear and protection. Choosing me means taking power away from my armour; I choose to live to unlock my potential. I choose to really get to know ME and forgive me, accept my story, and connect with love.

How do we start?

  1. Remember who you really are, not the Ninja Barbie armour that has been your shield for so long.
  2. Understand your story, walk through it with love, honour your courage and love yourself deeply.
  3. Learn to be present and to disconnect the fear switch that triggers your armour. (I always imagine my armour activating like in the movie Transformers!)
  4. Trust that your inner self can navigate you through challenges.

Living a life of freedom to be you is worth it! I chose ME, and I am living a life of peace, love, and thriving, not simply surviving!


Christina E. Foxwell is the founder of Ignite Purpose where, over the past decade, she has supported leaders in their navigation of their teams and helped people find their purpose and flow. This has led to her supporting them in their own life-changing journeys to follow their passions, transform their lives, and grow into the people they were always meant to be. The modalities she uses in her work are: CBT, ACT, Mental Fitness, Performance Science, Behavioral Profiling, and Positive Intelligence.

With over 20 years of experience in HR, recruitment, consulting, training, coaching and executive leadership, Foxwell he has been on two global executive teams, and led a sales consulting team in Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Now, after realizing there was a missed opportunity in people and organizations, and the gap between people and performance, she coaches executive teams, CEOs, leaders and their team to develop their growth and impact their cultures and performance.
Foxwell is the author of four books. Her first two works are children’s books on emotional intelligence, The Adventures of Oscar the Pufferfish: Owning my “pop” and The Story of Astra the Unicorn Finding Her Belonging. Grow Me is a guide to growth. Her latest book, The Glass Angel, is a powerful look into transformation change and perseverance.

Her life’s journey began in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and ultimately landed her in Sydney, Australia. The road to where she is now was paved with hardships and turmoil. She experienced domestic violence, PTSD, and divorce before she found a path to healing and building a life of gratitude, forgiveness, and love.

In addition to her work, she also has many other passions including, painting, writing, teaching, coaching, and spending time with her family. Her most important roles are wife, mother, daughter, and grandmother of one.

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06 Jun

Ashtanga Yoga: The 8-Limbed Path

Ashtanga Yoga is known as the “Eight-limbed Path” for the eight stages of yoga practice that a yogi passes through to attain awakening.  These stages were first written about in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  The first five limbs are external practices, and the last three are internal practices.


-1. The first limb is Yama which is Sanskrit for restraints, or moral discipline.  The yamas are broken down into five elements of spiritual practice that we can utilize:

-Aparigraha is not acquiring.  Basically this means to avoid being greedy, to simplify, to not accumulate or use more than you need.

-Asteya is not stealing.  Respect other people and their boundaries and property.  Do not take something that is not yours, whether it is in a material, physical, spiritual, intellectual or emotional sense.

-Ahimsa is nonviolence.  Practice peace in thought, word and deed, towards yourself and others.

-Brahmacharya is moderation.  It also means we must be virtuous, to be loving and have compassion for others.

-Satya is truthfulness.  Be honest, have integrity, understand the power of the spoken word.


-2. Niyama is the second limb in Ashtanga Yoga.  It means observances, and self-restraint.  There are five inner practices we can follow to maintain moral principles:

-Samtosa is contentment.  Be happy in the present moment.  Know that everything you have, and everything you are is enough.  Be satisfied and content.

-Tapas is a zest for life.  Learn and grow every day, build strength and wisdom.  Develop spiritual practices and be disciplined.

-Saucha is a purity of body and mind.  Take care of yourself, body, mind and spirit, and also take care of your environment.

-Svadhyaya is self-referral.  Practice contemplation and introspection.  Get to know yourself so that you may then know others.

-Ishvara Pranidhana is devotion.  Let go of the ego and embrace a higher source.  Approach life with a sense of gratitude.


-3. The third limb of Ashtanga Yoga is Asana, or yoga postures.  This is the physical form of yoga that we are used to seeing.  It helps us to attain stillness in both mind and body.  The poses create strength and flexibility.


The word “Yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit root verb yuj. which means “to join” or “to unite.”  It signifies the joining of the individual with the universal reality.  It also means the union of the conscious mind with the deeper levels of the unconscious, which results in a totally integrated personality.  Just as Ayurvedic practices seek perfect balance in the human body, the yogic ideal of unification is perfect balance or a state of naturalness.  Every living being strives toward this ideal, which is described in the Christian religion as “the peace which passeth all understanding.”  As we begin to search for balance and natural harmony in our own lives, we start to grow on a path that leads to deeper understanding and fulfillment.  At such a time we learn that satisfaction comes from something that is found deep within and does not rely on external stimulation.


-4. The fourth limb is Pranayama, or breath control.  With these breathing exercises we can achieve a balanced state of mind.  These are many different exercises that work to invigorate the system and calm the mind.


The vital energy called chi by the Chinese and ki by the Japanese is called prana in India.  Prana is seen to be everywhere and in everything; it is the basic force that animates all matter.  In the study of Yoga, the life force, or prana, is closely associated with breathing practices that control and direct this important energy.  Freed and able to flow throughout the body, it can stimulate both body and mind; blocked and distorted, it can sap and deplete a person’s activities.


Pranayama is really the knowledge and control of Prana.  Since it is difficult for us to control the source of all the energy in the universe, we can start learning to control what is nearest to us.  The body and mind is what we have to work with.  It’s as if Prana is the whole ocean, and our own Prana is one wave.  We can learn to control our own wave.  Breathing exercises are a tool we can use to help us to become aware of our Prana.  There are many different practices, but each movement of pranayama involves the inhalation, retention, and exhalation of breath.  This practice is said to purify the mind, and remove distractions from the mind so that we can concentrate more easily.


-5. The fifth limb is Pratyahara, or controlling the senses.  This is practicing detachment from the distractions of life.


Pratyahara is translated as a “gathering towards oneself” and it is in practice a restraint of the senses.  We are so easily distracted, as our senses take our attention away from whatever it is we are supposed to be focusing on.  Meditation requires stillness and concentration, so practicing pratyahara is a necessary step towards controlling the senses.  The senses constantly take our attention outward, to the external world, away from the inner world.  We get uncomfortable sitting in the same position, we hear a phone ring, or we smell dinner cooking and we feel that urge to get up.


Raja Yoga teaches us that although the mind is active, that is not where we get our intelligence.  We get our intelligence from the soul.  The mind is the instrument through which we interpret the world.  The soul knows the truth.  The soul carries higher knowledge.  We must calm the mind so that we can access this knowledge.  The analogy of a lake is often used to describe how our perception is altered.  When the lake is stirred up, it becomes muddy and unclear.  We can’t see through to the bottom.  However, when the lake is calm, the water is crystal


These are the last three limbs are internal practices.


-6. Dharana is concentration.  The idea is to fix our attention on one focal point.  This helps us to gain equanimity, poise, and grace. The way to concentrate the mind is to focus it on one particular object, to the exclusion of everything else.  The object could be outside the body, such as a flower, or a candle.  Or the object could be inside the body, such as the heart center, or the top of the forehead.  The idea is to keep the mind still by having it hold only this object, not allowing the senses to give in to distractions, and not allowing thoughts to stray from that object.

Dharana is a practice of training the mind to be still and focus.  Concentration is like a muscle; we can work it and develop it.  Over time it becomes stronger and more sustained.  This is why a regular practice of meditation is so important.   For our concentration to become, and remain, strong, we must use it.


-7. Dhyana is meditation.  The purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind and open the heart.  In this way we become aware of our connection with the Divine.

When the mind is able to sustain concentration over a period of time, this is called Dhyana, or meditation.  In this step, the seventh in Raja Yoga, a power flows through the mind toward the object of concentration.  The meditator does not sense the object itself, but merely the essence of the object.  It is as if the object of meditation and the meditator become one.  The effort that we dealt with in Dharana ceases, and concentration is easy and natural.  In Dhyana the mind does not waver.  The meditator does not even think of the process of meditating anymore. We are not aware of time or space.


The calm state of mind that we experience in meditation helps us to handle any stresses or problems that come our way during the day.  Meditation helps us to maintain a peace of mind that serves us no matter what happens in the external world.


-8. Samadhi is super-consciousness.  It is also called bliss, union, or enlightenment.  It is when we experience the presence of the Divine with our entire self, body mind and soul.

Finally, in the highest state of meditation, Samadhi, the meditator becomes lost in the process.  Samadhi means “absorption” and also “divine peace.”  In Samadhi the meditator dissolves; the meditator becomes one with the whole universe.  Samadhi is absolute bliss, or superconsciousness.


When Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are all three practiced together, this is called “Samyama.”  In our house analogy, Samyama is like turning on the light – it is illuminating the Truth.  All the work has been done, and now all that has to happen is that we flip a switch.  And lo and behold, we can see clearly and confidently.


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06 Mar

Did You Know…? Entrancing Sleep Trivia!

When you need some stimulating party conversation, why not talk sleep? The topic of sleep is far from a snoozefest! I’ve scoured the internet to uncover some captivating tidbits that are sure to get your audience’s attention!


Can’t Sleep?

  • More than 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. 60% of those have a chronic disorder, meaning it has occurred over a long period of time.
  • There are at least 84 different sleep disorders identified by researchers.
  • Insomnia is almost twice as common in women as it is in men.
  • New parents will miss an average of six month’s sleep during the first two years of their baby’s life.
  • Neither mother’s nor father’s pre-pregnancy sleep pattern fully recovers even when the child reaches six years of age.
  • 50% of women with children, and 41% of women without children, say that sleep is the best way for them to recharge.
  • Sleep deprivation was used as an interrogation technique dating back to the 16th The United Nations recognizes sleep deprivation as a form of torture, and it is now illegal in many countries.
  • Adults get tired when they haven’t gotten enough sleep, but children often react by becoming hyperactive. When a child stays up too late or misses a nap, the body makes more cortisol and adrenaline so that he can stay awake. Parents often describe this as the child “fighting sleep.”
  • Stress is cited as the culprit in 65% of people who say they have problems sleeping.


Sleep History

  • The legend of the “Sandman” originated in European folklore. This traditional character appears in many children’s books and stories. The Sandman is said to sprinkle sand or dust on the eyes of children at night to help them fall asleep and have sweet dreams. The morning grit found in the corners of the eyes upon waking was supposed to be the result of the Sandman’s visit the night before.
  • “Mr. Sandman” is a popular song written by Pat Ballard in 1954 and recorded by the Chordettes and the Four Aces.
  • In Greek mythology, the god of sleep is Hypnos. Sleep-inducing plants such as poppies grew at the entrance of Hypnos’ home. The name Hypnos is the origin of the word “hypnosis.”
  • The 97th Pokémon (an internationally popular Japanese media franchise) character is named Hypnos, and its signature power is putting others to sleep.
  • In Roman mythology, the god of sleep is named Somnus. From Somnus come the words somnolent meaning sleepy, and insomnia, or “not” sleep.
  • William Shakespeare made several references to sleep in his plays. His accurate depictions of insomnia have led scholars to think that Shakespeare likely suffered from insomnia himself.


Sleep Behavior

  • Who sleeps? All complex living organisms including mollusks, insects, amphibians, birds, and mammals… except for:
  • Jellyfish don’t sleep because they don’t have a brain.
  • Sea Urchins also do not have a brain, so they do not sleep
  • Bullfrogs don’t sleep, they are alert both day and night. Scientists haven’t figured out why this is yet.
  • Some insects, such as butterflies, don’t technically “sleep” but rather enter a state known as “torpod” where the body temperature is lowered and they appear dormant. This enables them to go without food for longer periods of time.
  • A baby dolphin doesn’t sleep for the first full month of her life. The mother also stays awake during this time to protect her child from predators until she can fend for herself.
  • Rather than sleeping through the night, giraffes take short power naps in the daytime. It is important for them to stay alert so that they don’t fall down or become vulnerable to a predator. They get about 2 hours of sleep total in a day.
  • Whales also nap in 10-15-minute breaks, and only get about 1 ½ hours of sleep a day. Sperm whales sleep vertically, so that it looks like they are sleeping standing up.
  • Koalas are known as the animals who sleep the most, up to 22 hours a day.
  • Housecats sleep from 16-20 hours a day, with newborn and elderly cats sleeping the most. However, cats can awaken almost instantly if they hear a strange sound. It is a part of the nature that they inherited from their wild counterparts. They are always alert, even when they sleep.
  • We have an average of four to six dreams each night, even if we don’t remember those dreams. About two hours of sleep each night is spent dreaming.


Do you have some interesting Sleep Trivia to share? We’d love to hear it! Please post on the Better Sleep Council’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/BetterSleepOrg















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15 Nov

ASMR: “Tingles” for Sleep

                                 Find More Sleep Tips from The Better Sleep Council

There are more than 13 million ASMR videos on YouTube, with hundreds of millions of views. Most of the videos are designed to help people get into a super-relaxed state so that they can relieve stress and sleep better. There are also many popular audio-only ASMR recordings available for download on streaming services. Just what is this trending phenomenon and how does it work?


ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Basically, it is a response to a gentle stimulus that is felt both physically and emotionally and has been found to produce physiological benefits. The sensations vary amongst those who experience it but most report that the effect is a sense of calm and relaxation. The physical sensations usually begin in the head, and move into the neck and shoulders, even down to the base of the spine. Some say that they also experience the sensations in their limbs. It can feel like tingles, chills or gentle waves. The pleasing emotional effects are what cause people to seek out ASMR, and are often described as calming, happy, euphoric, relaxing, or sleepy. One study showed a reduction in heart rate and an increase in positive emotions for those who experienced ASMR. Some participants even reported a reduction in chronic pain.


What is surprising is that these effects are the result of a stimulus that is quite gentle, and subtle. It could be as simple and mundane as the tapping or a finger. Or it could be intricate and complex, such as the reenactment of a typical visit to the hair salon.


ASMR can be experienced in two ways. The first, and most common, is through using external stimuli. This is where the YouTube videos come in handy. Yet it’s easy to create your own external triggers once you know what they are. The other way to experience ASMR is through internal stimuli, such as creative visualization, or meditation techniques.


“Triggers” fall into three different categories. Auditory stimuli could be the sound of a whisper, reported as the most popular ASMR trigger. You don’t even need to hear the actual words, just the soft vocal tones can set off ASMR. Other auditory triggers include a monotone voice, soft tapping, scratching, crinkling paper, or blowing. It could be the sound of slowly clicking through the teeth of a comb, or the sound of hair being cut, or brushed.


Visual stimuli may be experienced either internally or externally. Taking yourself back to a restful place, or looking at the ocean, for example, can trigger ASMR. Writing is another common trigger, as is eye contact, and page flipping. Some say that flowing hand movements sets off ASMR in them.


Tactile stimuli can also evoke ASMR, such as touching soft fabrics like velvet, or stroking a pet. It’s no surprise that a massage can be very relaxing, and for some this may be ASMR at play. A light touch, such as a gentle caress of the face, can also trigger ASMR.


All of these stimuli are comforting, gentle, repetitive and non-threatening. They are performed slowly, steadily, and predictably. Researchers say that the most effective types of stimuli for ASMR include the person receiving attention in some way, through grooming or other care. You’ll notice that many ASMR recordings include a combination of stimuli for greater effect. The presenter speaks to the viewer personally – slowly and quietly, in a pleasant and reassuring tone. This helps the viewer feel relaxed and cared for, a state of mind that contributes to the desired response.


Research suggests that the same brain chemicals that are produced in the process of bonding, which also creates a sense of comfort and calm, are responsible for ASMR. Endorphins, sometimes called our “happy” chemicals, can bring on a tingling sensation and sense of euphoria. Endorphins also stimulate the release of dopamine. Dopamine is what drives us to look for stimuli that triggers the release of endorphins. Then there’s oxytocin, also called the “bonding hormone” that produces feelings of contentment and trust.  Oxytocin increases our sensitivity to endorphins, and also stimulates the release of another brain chemical, serotonin. Serotonin helps to give us that feeling of well-being and sense of satisfaction, and also gets us feeling happier in general.


Each of us produces these brain chemicals that are said to be the cause of ASMR. And yet, the ASMR experience varies widely from person to person. It may be that we just need to find the right trigger for ourselves, or it may be a difference within our own genes. Just as some people taste spice differently, some preferring lots of heat and others more sensitive to even the smallest bit, our need for a stronger or weaker ASMR stimulus could be genetic. However, we can train ourselves to be more sensitive to stimuli, and thereby more likely to experience ASMR. First, experiment with a few of the more common ASMR triggers to see which appeals to and works for you. Then, just as you would before meditation, find a safe and comfortable environment where you can relax. Since this is meant to be used as a sleep aid, feel free to lie down. If it’s bedtime, tuck yourself into bed. Clear your mind and focus on the stimulus and check in with your body and emotions to better understand where and how you may feel a response.


ASMR recordings are most frequently used to help people get into a relaxed state so that they can fall sleep more easily and sleep more soundly. These recordings are similar to the guided meditations that have been used for many years to help with sleep problems. Listening to a recording, or watching a video, helps to focus our attention and keep us from being distracted by all the unresolved problems of the day. It helps to relax the body, releasing muscle tension, and allowing for deeper, slower breathing. This is a great way to self-soothe, with no negative side-effects, and no financial investment.





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08 Nov

A Simple Scientific Analysis to Reveal Your Profound Fundamental Reality

Axiom 1: A thing can only know itself directly

Any simple example can make this clear. Let’s say a storage drive. It can only “know” what is stored within it. It cannot know anything outside of itself directly. The only way the drive can know anything outside of itself is when information about that thing reaches the drive and gets stored within it, and the only thing the drive can know about the outside thing is that information stored within it — nothing more nothing less. (The word “know” has been used for a non-living thing only symbolically and represents what information that thing has access to).

Same thing holds true for a processor. It can only know and process information that gets inside it. In order for anything outside to get processed, it has to get inside the processor and that is all the processor can know and process.

In fact, it holds true for any random example. For instance, take a self-driving car. The car only knows what is within it. An outside object is known by the car only when information about that object enters the car’s systems through its various sensors. That information is what the car knows and not the object directly.

So, to generalize: X can only know X directly. If X knows anything about Y which is outside X, it is only because some information about Y has entered X, and that is all what X knows about Y. X cannot know Y directly unless Y itself enters into X.

This can be applied to absolutely anything in this universe (and beyond). And it makes complete sense as it cannot be any other way.

Corollary 1: You only know yourself directly

Now apply this to yourself and what you know. Seeing is one way of knowing. What does the eye see? Does it see the objects outside directly? Do the objects enter the eye directly? Not quite. The eye only sees light that reflects off these objects, enters the eye, gets absorbed at the retina and becomes internal to the eye. Same thing applies to hearing, touching, tasting and smelling (the only other ways you know something). Information (air waves, etc.) travels to the respective sense organs (ears, etc.) and gets absorbed, and the sense organ only knows that which is within it.

Even the brain (or the central nervous system) only knows itself and the activities within it. Some of this activity is caused by information that reaches the brain through the peripheral nervous system. For example, the light that gets absorbed at the retina is converted into neuro-signals that travel to the brain through the optic nerves, reach the vision center and stir certain neural activity there. Same thing applies to all other sense perceptions (sound, touch, taste and smell). Respective neuro-signals get generated at the different sense organs, travel to the respective centers in the brain and stir different neural activities. The brain also has some of its own internal neural activity (known as thoughts, etc.). And that’s all the brain ever knows — itself and the activities within it.

But does that explain what you actually know or experience? If the buck stopped at the brain and that is all what you knew, you would have known yourself as a slushy gray matter with neurons firing left, right and center. But that’s not the case. Your experience is something very different, something very vivid — a world full of sights, sounds and sensations, with some part of it more tangible (sense perceptions) and some less tangible (thoughts, etc.).

This entity which is knowing such a vivid world within itself is called consciousness, and this consciousness is what you actually are. That is because you only ever know what is within consciousness and never anything outside of consciousness directly. And since you can only know what is within yourself directly, you must be the consciousness itself, knowing a vivid world within yourself. You, the consciousness, are neither the brain nor even a part or product of the brain but something completely different, which will become clearer with the next axiom.

Axiom 2: The whole cannot be known by parts

If something is made up of parts, each part just knows itself directly (as per axiom 1), independent of other parts. There is no way for this conglomeration of parts to directly know the sum total of what is known by all its individual parts.

Consider the example of a distributed system consisting of many computers. Each computer that is a part of the distributed system only knows what is within itself directly. Computers may exchange information with each other over the network but at any given point in time each computer only knows what is within itself directly. There is no way for the whole distributed system to directly know the sum total of what is known by all its individual computers. Whenever information is accessed from the distributed system it only comes from one or more of its individual computers that have that information.

Same thing applies to everything made up of parts. And guess what? Everything in this universe is made up of parts because the universe is nothing but a conglomeration of smaller and smaller particles (quarks, leptons, bosons, strings, etc.) coming together to form larger and larger structures and systems. So, even when we said that the eye knows itself directly, it only meant that the individual cells that make up the eye know themselves directly. Each cell functions independently by processing information that reaches it and passing it on to the next set of cells. That’s why the eye doesn’t really “see” anything. It’s just a distributed system of cells processing light, converting it into neuro-signals and passing those on to the brain, with no way for the eye to really “see” the sum total of information being processed by all its individual cells. In fact, even the cells are further made up of smaller parts and so no.

Corollary 2: You are partless consciousness

The above axiom is also true of the brain as it’s also nothing but a conglomeration of cells. It’s not possible for the brain to directly know the sum total of all the information and activity within its parts simultaneously as a coherent world of sights, sounds and sensations. Even a part of the brain cannot do that as every part will itself be made up of smaller parts. This is very powerful reasoning why you can neither be the brain nor a part of it. Moreover, you cannot be a product of the brain either, as anything made up of parts can only produce something that is also made up of parts, with a part of the source producing a part of the product. If a product of the brain will also be made up of parts, it will have the same issue of not being able to directly know the sum total of what is known by all its individual parts.

Since you, the consciousness, know a vivid world within yourself as a whole, you cannot be made up of parts. Hence, you are partless consciousness which is neither a part nor a product of the brain (or any other part of the body or the whole body for that matter), You, the partless consciousness, are an entity completely different from the brain and the body.

Axiom 3: Partless implies Infinite

So far the analysis was of objects that are part of the world we know and hence easier to understand. But this axiom is going to be very subtle because we have never encountered any object in this world that is partless as they are all made up of smaller and smaller parts and particles. We have no experience of what a partless entity could be like. Some subtle thinking can reveal it though.

If an entity is partless, it must also be formless. Because a form needs different parts to come together in a certain way to build that form. Even the most nondescript form (like a spherical object) has different sides to it (this side, opposite side, inside, outside, etc.). Anything which has sides must have parts too as only different parts can make up the different sides. When something is in contact with one side of an entity, it can only be in contact with a part of the entity and not with the other parts which make up the other sides. Hence, an entity that is partless will also be formless.

If an entity is formless, it has to be limitless or infinite in every dimension. Because if it’s limited in even one dimension, that will result in a boundary, and boundaries define a form. For example, an infinite line is limitless only in one dimension but limited in other dimensions and hence still possess the form of a line. Similarly, an infinite plane is limitless in two dimensions but limited in the third dimension and hence still possess the form of a plane. Hence, anything which is limited in even one dimension will possess a form imposed by that dimension. Hence, an entity that is formless will also be limitless or infinite in every dimension.

Corollary 3: You are Infinite Consciousness, the One and only Reality, and the whole universe is only an appearance within you

As implied by the above axiom, you, the partless consciousness, are also formless and limitless in every possible dimension. Which means nothing else exists outside of you. Because if anything else exists outside of you, it implies a limit where you end and the other entity begins. This means that the whole universe (and anything else) must all be within you. Moreover, since you are partless whereas the universe is made up of parts, it cannot be real and must only be a false appearance within you, as nothing real made up of parts can exist within a partless entity. Hence, you are the one and only Infinite Reality that actually exists. It’s important to note that you are also unchanging as change is only possible from one finite to another finite on at least one dimension whereas you are Infinite in every possible dimension.

Important question: If you are Infinite Consciousness, the One and only Reality, and the whole universe is an appearance within you, then why do you seem to know only a part of it and that too channeled through a brain and a set of sense organs housed within a body?

Here’s an explanation: Since you are Consciousness, your very nature is to know yourself. But since you are Infinite you cannot know yourself directly in entirety, because anything that is known in entirety is limited to that knowing and hence finite. Hence you, the Infinite Reality, cannot know yourself as you actually are but only as you are not i.e. as false finite things. Since there are infinite possibilities of the type of false finite things that can appear within the Infinite, every possible imaginable and unimaginable finite thing is actually appearing within you. One set of such false finite appearances are dream-like virtual reality simulations. Within each simulation, there is an appearance of a brain and a set of sense organs and other organs housed within a body that represents a living being, through which a world teeming with other beings and things seems be known or experienced. You, the Infinite Consciousness, are knowing each simulation individually as all of them are appearing within you. If you would have known multiple simulations together, it would have become a hodge-podge, with too many overlapping sights, sounds and sensations, which would have not made any sense. Hence the best way to know these simulations is to know them individually and separate from each other. All these simulations are still interconnected as they are all appearing within you, the Infinite Consciousness, and hence they share common objects and events. Each of these dream-like simulations have such a structure that you tend to feel identified with a fake body-mind complex appearing within that simulation (just like it happens during a dream), but you are never actually identified and always remain unattached from the simulation. Nothing of the simulation can ever affect or harm you in any way as it’s not real.

Finally, since Infinite Consciousness cannot be known directly in entirety as it actually is, it can never be available for direct investigation making it impossible to describe its actual nature. But this much is very clear from the above analysis that you are none other than the Infinite Partless Consciousness, the One and only Unchanging Reality that actually exists!

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/667314451407568896/a-simple-scientific-analysis-to-reveal-your)

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04 Sep

Healthy Sleep Habits

By now you’ve likely heard many of the great habits you can get into that aid in the experience of a good night’s sleep. I’m here to share with you about some of the great habits you can get into, even while you are sleeping, so that your body can operate most efficiently for optimal health and healing.


Sleep on Your Left Side

The best sleep position for most people is to sleep on your left side. While this may be news today, the wisdom originally comes from Ayurveda, India’s 5,000-year-old Science of Life. The left and right sides of the body are very different from one another. For example, the lymph system is more dominant on the left side of the body. This is because most of the body’s lymph fluid drains into the thoracic duct, which then goes into the left side of the heart, left jugular vein, and left subclavian vein. So, it makes sense that sleeping on the left side benefits the lymphatic drainage system. The lymph system is our first line of detox in the body, so it is the first to become congested when overworked.


The spleen is an important part of the lymphatic system, and it is located on the left side of the body. The spleen filters both lymph and blood. While sleeping on your left side, drainage to the spleen gets an assist from gravity. When we move, and the muscles contract, the lymph system can drain all the body’s cells. By sleeping on our left side, we are allowing gravity to help the lymph drain to the heart and the spleen.


Sleeping on the left side is also good for the heart. The largest artery in the body is the aorta. The aorta goes from the top of the heart, arches to the left, and then goes down to the abdomen. When we sleep on the left, it is easier for the heart to pump blood downhill into the descending aorta.


For better digestion and elimination, sleeping on the left side is the way to go. The large intestine is situated so that it goes up the right side of the stomach area, then across so that it can deposit waste into the colon going down the left side. Gravity is once again our ally when we sleep on the left side. After sleeping well, the descending colon is ready for an easy and complete elimination of waste in the morning.


Use a Humidifier

A cool-air humidifier helps to bring moisture into a room, which benefits us in many ways. When the air we breathe is too dry, lacking humidity, we can experience respiratory problems such as sinus inflammation, bronchitis, asthma, or nosebleeds. Dry air can also make us become dehydrated more quickly. When the body gets dried out, it is more susceptible to bacterial infections. We may experience a dry throat, and dry eyes. We may notice dry skin, chapped lips, or eczema. On the other hand, when the humidity in a room is at 45-55%, we breathe more easily and sleep more soundly. A humidifier helps to re-moisturize air that has been dried out from weather, or from air conditioning and heating systems.


Another upside to using a humidifier is that you’re much less likely to snore! When you breathe in humid air, rather than dry air, the throat and nasal cavity are less likely to get dried out. The air is free to move through these channels as you breathe, so the snoring sounds don’t occur. If it’s your partner who snores, and you’re the one who is awake because of it, a humidifier will benefit both of you.


In addition, a humidifier helps to prevent the skin for drying out while you sleep. While drinking enough water during the day helps to keep us hydrated, using a humidifier at night can help us stay hydrated from the outside in, so that we wake up feeling fresh and rested.


Most newer humidifiers run very quietly, giving just a small amount of white-noise, which can be an added benefit to sleep. If you prefer to run a humidifier during the day, it will likely moisturize the air enough to get you through the night with the humidifier off.


Another way to incorporate humidity into your room is to run a hot shower or bath, and let the steam moisturize the room. While you’re at it, a steamy shower will also help to open up and moisturize your sinuses.


You can also use saline nasal sprays, or the Ayurvedic “neti pot” to irrigate and clean the sinuses. Eating spicy foods is another way to quickly relieve sinus pressure from dry air. If you’re up for it, try having some hot salsa, jalapeno peppers, or chili peppers. Even one bite can make your nose run and your eyes water!


Have an After-Dinner Drink

We’ve all heard how warm milk can settle us into sleep – and it’s true! Ayurveda has an even better beverage for us, which is healthy in many other ways as well. It’s called “Moon Milk” and it is fabulous! If you are vegan, or just avoiding dairy, substitute unsweetened nut milk instead. Each ingredient has a purpose. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory. Cinnamon helps to reduce blood clotting, and is an anti-oxidant. Cardamom is known as the “Queen of Spices” and it can calm heartburn and nausea. In addition, cardamom is a natural breath freshener! Nutmeg is a natural sleep aid. Ashwagandha soothes the nervous system. Ginger is great for digestion, and ghee is used as a carrier to get all the herbs where they need to go in the body. If you’re looking for a healthy and delicious night cap, Moon Milk is it!


Moon Milk Recipe (1 serving)

1 cup milk (I prefer unsweetened almond milk, use any kind of milk you like)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon ashwaganda (easy to find online, or in Indian grocery stores)

1 pinch of nutmeg

1 pinch of ground ginger

1 teaspoon ghee (Ghee is clarified butter, look for ghee that is cultured and organic for the best quality)


In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, bring milk to a simmer. Add in the herbs one by one, whisking as you go. Add the ghee, and reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook for 7-10 minutes to let the herbs incorporate into the liquid. Remove from heat and pour into a mug. Add a little bit of raw sugar if you like it on the sweet side.


For more info about how to get a great night’s sleep visit: The Better Sleep Council’s website HERE









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