Myth and legend surround the mighty baobab tree. The baobab is known as the African Tree of Life. According to some African bushmen,
With such legend, one might assume that the mighty baobab has some incredible benefits, yes? Yes! I recently stumbled across the mighty baobab, have been researching it, and incorporating it into my biology. It turns out that this tree and its fruit have quite a few benefits that are naturally used in traditional African medicine.
What are the benefits of the mighty baobab?
Powerful antioxidant. Baobab fruit is high in Vitamin C. One single serving contains ~80% of the RDV of Vitamin C. The baobab fruit powder has an integral antioxidant capacity that is 37x greater than that of oranges and 3x the antioxidants found in blueberries. The baobab seed oil contains Vitamins A, D, and E as well as Omega 3, 6, and 9.
Analgesic. The fruit pulp is shown to have pain relieving affects similar to that of aspirin.
Hepatoprotective. The pulp has been shown to have a protective and restorative effect on damaged livers in rats. I personally am curious if baobab fruit helps to heal livers damaged by flukes (platyhelminths).
Anti-diarrhea. The fruit pulp contains ~50% fiber (equal parts soluble and insoluble) as well as tannins and citric acid.
Pre-biotic. Gut health – yes! The soluble fiber in the pulp stimulates the growth of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. When the pulp powder is combined with certain ferments, it may prevent and/or inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella sp., Bacillus sp., and Streptococcus sp.
Reduce fever. The bark, fruit pulp, and seeds may be used to reduce fever, particularly in cases of malaria.
Anti-viral. The fruit, leaves and seeds may act as an anti-viral against herpes, flu, and respiratory viruses.
Anti-trypanosoma. Baobab roots serve as anti-trypanosoma (an anti-parasitic) and reduce or eliminate the motility of trypanosomes – the causative agent of sleeping sickness.
Skin care/beautification. A decoction of baobab roots promote smooth skin.
I found these traditional medicinal uses particularly interesting:
The leaves may be used as an anti-asthmatic and anti-histamine. They may also be used in the treatment of Guinea worm (a parasitic worm), urinary tract diseases, eye and ear inflammations.
The bark may be used as a substitute for quinine in reducing fever and as a remedy for toothache. In addition, the bark, fruit pulp and seeds are used as an antidote to the poison often used on arrows.
The dried fruit pulp, which tastes similar to a mild creamsicle, is available through various super food retailers. In addition to all of the benefits listed above, baobab pulp is also rich in B Vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, and manganese.
How can you use baobab?
- Add it to your morning smoothie.
- Add it to homemade ice-cream (dairy or vegan).
- Sprinkle it on your yogurt.
- Mix it in a smoothie bowl.
- Add it to un-baked, or baked goods.
How do you use baobab? If you have a favorite recipe that you would like to see featured on my blog, email it to me with a picture of your mighty baobab creation (amanda(at)onalimb(dot)org) and I’ll feature it in an upcoming blog post.
Kabore, Donatien, H. Sawadogo-Lingani, B. Diawara, C.S. Compaore, M.H. Dicko, and M. Jakobsen. 2011. A review of baobab (Adansonia digitata) products: Effect of processing techniques, medicinal properties and uses. African Journal of Food Science. 5(16): 833-844.
Images: theholbox(dot)com, bumblerootfoods(dot)com
I wasn’t going to share this video, this poem, with all of you. I am not concerned or afraid about experiencing whatever thoughts, feelings, and opinions you may feel inclined to project my way. I actually really enjoy sharing my raw vulnerability with you!
Upon watching myself on video, I caught myself stepping into a trap of sorts that I have fallen into many times. I’ll share what the trap was in an upcoming video and how I made a conscious decision to very quickly change course and get out of it.
Sometimes I feel more than I can handle.
Sometimes I feel too raw, too real, too vulnerable.
Watch the video for the full poem.
I hope that my sharing my raw vulnerability with you inspires you to get in touch with yourself and to plant yourself in the soil of your belonging. You are not alone on this journey, fellow travelers. Although it may certainly not feel like it at times, it is a blessing to feel everything so deeply, so rawly, so at the heart and core of your beingness.
“How do I quit smoking?” is a question I have received a few times from people. In this video, I share a few tips behind why you may be choosing to smoke as well as 4 tips to help you quit smoking.
Before quitting smoking, I find it important to consider:
1. Why am I smoking? Why have I chosen to smoke?
2. Perhaps you are being asked to develop a relationship with the tobacco plant (not the toxic mimic otherwise known as cigarettes).
3. Are you smoking to connect with yourself or to disconnect?
Perhaps you’re asking, how do I quit smoking?
1. Explore smoking real tobacco – organically or biodynamically grown. Develop a relationship with the real plant. Explore and research indigenous’ cultures use of medicinal tobacco in ceremony.
2. Notice when you are choosing to smoke. Is it the same time each day? Different times? Certain circumstances?
3. What are you feeling when you are choosing to smoke? Are you feeling fear, anxiety, stress, anger, depression, etc? Would you be willing to give yourself permission to feel your feelings?
4. Integrate beneficial and support healthy habits into your day. Eat some raw cacao. Drink a green smoothie. Begin to fill your day, particularly your chosen smoking trigger times, with healthy habits.
5. Bonus: seek out a support network to help keep you on track.
Chances are if you are human, you’ve experienced the wonderful pleasure of feeling triggered. Either something someone said or did likely set you off. Perhaps you felt unworthy, sad, angry, unloved. You may have cried, screamed, yelled, gone off and hidden in your wo(man) cave, or all of the above. You may have reacted to the trigger and ripped someone a new one or told them how you really feel…possibly regretting it later. Ouch.
Sounds pleasant, doesn’t it? Perhaps you’ve gone so far as to blame the other person for what you are experiencing. Doh. Psst…your feeling triggered has absolutely nothing to do with the person who has triggered you.
If feeling triggered is such a volatile experience, how and why is it beneficial? Read on to discover why I feel grateful when I feel triggered and why I would rather experience a trigger than feel like someone has to walk on their tip-toes around me.
- It shows us that we are human.
If we were never triggered, we’d be robots. We are emotional beings here to soak up this incredibly human experience of being human – part of which is feeling triggered at times.
- It shows us what is unresolved and unhealed within ourselves.
Feeling triggered is an opportunity to look into the mirror of your soul and see what is there in a way that we are unable to without someone else reflecting back our stuff. It’s an opportunity and a gift to be shown where the dark, fertile soil resides so that we may tend to the earth of our heart and plant the nourishing seeds of our souls.
- Intimacy, or into-me-I-see.
Are you craving intimacy? Here is your opportunity to step through the threshold, open up and be intimate with the person who triggered you (as long as you feel safe doing so). It’s also an opportunity to share an incredibly intimate co-versation with the part of yourself that is asking for resolution and healing.
- The art of vulnerability and authenticity.
Would you be willing to share when you feel triggered, vulnerable and raw? Or, are you more likely to put on a stoic mask and hide your triggered self under the rug, in the dark recesses of your closet, or under your bed? There is little more real than being fully present in the moment and authentically sharing from your heart your vulnerable self.
- Projecting or owning your own shizzle.
When you give yourself permission to step back for a moment and witness yourself being yourself, you can see whether you spew projections at others when you feel triggered, whether you internalize your projections, or whether you own your own shizzle. Each of these has its benefits and its pitfalls. The first step is noticing which you tend to do and why.
So, next time you feel triggered, buckle up and get ready for a wild ride. I’d be curious to hear how these 5 benefits to feeling triggered help you weather your next storm.
How do you disarm a ticking time bomb? What is a ticking time bomb?
Have you noticed that when you ask someone how they feel that they tend to respond with “I am happy,” “I am sad,” “I am angry!”? When we use the phrase “I am,” we tend to take on the energetic qualities of that emotion, thus becoming sadness, anger, or fear for example. When we take on the energetics of an emotion, we can become a ticking time bomb. A ticking time bomb tends to be a challenging person to be around, unless you enjoy working with explosives.
What can we do to diffuse a ticking time bomb? Well, first off, we can give that person space to feel whatever they are feeling and express the emotion in whatever way needs expressing (barring harm to self or others). It’s not our “job” to change anyone. We can, however learn how to accept them as they are. That being said, you can work on disarming your own ticking time bomb within yourself by changing your language.
What might that look like? Next time you feel angry, sad, frustrated, fear, etc. rather than say “I am angry…,” see if you can give yourself permission to flip the coin and say “I feel angry.” Notice how that instantly changes the quality of anger within your body. Instead of becoming anger, you are now a witness to your anger – someone who can experience the feeling of the emotion of anger as it flows through you.
Give it a try and let me know how you feel.
Comment below and share with anyone you think may benefit from this simple, yet profound practice.
When was the last time you were really authentic with yourself and called yourself out on your own stuff? When were you willing to look behind the door at whatever dark, stinking stuff you may have stuffed there, and acknowledge it, and embrace it? Have you ever called yourself out on your stuff?
Pardon the vernacular, but it takes a set of cajones to do so. It is a practice for one who is willing to step upon and walk the warrior path.
Last night, I shared an incredible co-versation over dinner. At one point during the meal, I said, “I think a lot of people are addicted to pain.”
The person I was sharing this co-versation with said, “You think a lot of people are addicted to pain? You don’t believe a lot of people are addicted to pain?”
“Yes. No.” Why? A part of me, or several parts of me, in that moment were quite clearly saying “Bullshit. I don’t believe people are addicted to pain.” Why? Here’s where it gets interesting…why does a part of me not believe people are addicted to pain?
In that moment, I realized, part of me does not believe people are addicted to pain because that part of me is addicted to pain — a part of my Self was trying to keep hidden in the dark recesses of my awareness aspects of self that I have yet to embrace that are in pain. Dark, festering pain. And, I called myself out on my stuff right then and there. Over dinner. No holds barred, after a few minutes of meeting someone, I slipped the lip and called myself out.
It’s taken years of practice to get to this point and now, before I’m even aware of what I’m doing, I’m calling myself out on my self-authenticity.
I don’t know what that pain is yet, if I will know what it is, or if it’s even necessary to know what it is, as much as it is to purely allow myself to feel it, to express it, to allow it to flow through me. And that’s okay! One thing is for sure, I will be spending time with that part of myself, compassionately, and with loving kindness.
It can, at first, be terrifying to even think of acknowledging your stuff like that in front of other people, especially someone you practically just met, but it is incredibly freeing. It’s raw. It’s naked and vulnerable. It’s real.
Where do we start when we don’t know where to start? Oftentimes, we know where we want to be, know what we’d like to do, where we want to go, but lack the clarity to know where and how to start. In this video, I share some tips to help you take that first step on your journey.
I recently shared a photo of a green drink I’ve been incorporating into my biology on a daily basis. Many of you asked “what’s in it?”. I’m excited to share with you the incredible recipe that has numerous health benefits, including:
- building the blood and yin
- harmonizing the liver
- lubricating the intestines
- beautifies the skin
- reducing heat and moistening dryness
- aiding digestion
- assisting with heavy metal removal
- immune enhancing activity
- balancing blood sugar imbalances
Serves 1. All ingredients are organic unless otherwise noted.
2 granny smith apples
1-2″ piece of ginger
1/3 – 1/2 bunch of red kale
1 c. chopped pineapple
1 TB chlorella powder
- Juice the apples, ginger, and kale.
- Place in a blender: the juice, avocado, pineapple, and chlorella powder.
- Blend until smooth.
- Enjoy. To aid digestion, assimilation, and absorption, chew the smoothie (or swish it around your mouth a few times) before swallowing.
How often do you experience yourself saying, “I can’t sleep!”? If your beauty rest resembles a scene out of the WWF vs Sleeping Beauty, read on for 8 tips to help you turn the tide towards more restorative and restful slumber.
- Limit or eliminate caffeine after 1 p.m. If you experience an afternoon slump around 3 p.m., let’s take a look at what you’re eating, your blood sugar levels, and the state of your adrenals.
- Try to avoid eating after 8 p.m. When we eat too close to bed-time, our system can be busy digesting rather than winding down for peaceful slumber.
- Since exercise tends to increase energy (unless you’re exceeding your body’s ability to adapt), keep the intense workouts to the morning or early afternoon. Practice working-in, meditation, or internal movement arts in the evening to wind down the system.
- Unplug by 9 p.m., or one hour before bedtime. Set aside quiet time away from the tele, off of the tablets, iPads, phones, and computer. Allow yourself to be quiet. Read a book, or do some artwork or writing, or work-in.
- Keep electronic devices in the bedroom to a minimum, or keep them in a different room if possible. If you cannot keep your cell phone out of your room, try to place it as far away from your bed as possible and set it to airplane mode. This will reduce EMF pollution and aid peaceful slumber.
- Check your magnesium levels. The majority of the population is deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is known for its relaxing benefits. For additional benefits, check out yesterday’s post on FB about magnesium.
- Sleep on the floor if possible. If not, grounding sheets can help. Where to find out more about them? Visit earthing.com.
- If all else fails, unplug. Completely. Go outside and spend one week sleeping out in nature. This will help reset your system to its natural rhythms.
Before you know it, you should be sleeping as soundly as the adorable shih-tzu in the photo.
If you or someone you know is having difficulty experiencing a restorative night’s sleep, let me know. I’d be happy to help.
When was the last time you watched the sun rise?
When was the last time you watched the sun set?
When was the last time you spent the day at the beach and laid upon the sand until the stars came out?
And when was the last time you took the time to connect with the ones you love?
When was the last time you told them “I love you”? And when was the last time you looked in the mirror, said “I love you,” to yourself, meant it, and believed it?
When was the last time you chose to make a decision to change your diet, your exercise, your job, your life not because you look in the mirror and tell yourself –
“I’m fat. I hate my body. If only I lost 30 pounds, then I’d be happy. I’ll be so happy when I can quit my job and leave this area…”
…I don’t like you, I don’t love you, and you’re not good enough…
…but chose to instead make a conscious decision to change your diet, your job, your life. To watch the sun rise, to revel in connecting with the people, nature, and experiences that invite you to feel alive, because you love yourself as you are and you love yourself enough to choose to live a life that exemplifies that.
I invite you to choose to make one conscious decision, one action to do for yourself, each and every day that will inspire you to celebrate and enjoy this one wild and precious life. If you’re not sure where to start or how to start, let me know. I’d be honored to help guide you.
When we’re having a great day and really enjoying ourselves, it’s pretty easy to say that we’re having the best day ever. Have you noticed that?
What happens when less than ideal things happen to us? Maybe we were in a car accident, lost our wallet, dropped the cell phone in the loo…maybe we broke a bone, found out we’re experiencing an illness, or are mourning the loss of a loved one.
Perhaps you’ve realized that you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship and you sit there, on your bed, locked in your room, with a bottle of Tylenol next to you, wondering…
“Is this all there is to life?”
Or, perhaps the emotional pain you are feeling is too present, too intense to process and…
…you beg on hands and knees for some sort of physical pain so you don’t have to feel the pain within your heart.
You receive that pain only to spend three years learning how to get out of it, chasing your tail in circles. In that blind, circle-chasing process stumble over your own two feet to discover
in order to let go of the physical pain you’ve been feeling, you have to allow yourself to feel all of the emotional pain you’ve been numbing yourself from and hiding from.
What happens then? Do we say that it’s the best day ever? Probably not. Chances are, we’re more likely to sound like Alexander from “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”
I get it. I’ve been there. Up there, that woman who sat on her bed, who numbed herself, who begged for physical pain, over 10 years ago, was me. I understand what it’s like to have hit some sort of rock bottom and to wonder if you’ll ever pull yourself out of the hole that you’re in.
Just as a rainbow can light up the darkest of skies, we can choose to light up our own sky. Regardless of what happens to us or what we’re experiencing, we have a choice. We have a choice to choose whether or not we’re going to have the best day ever — regardless of the circumstances that come our way.
You may be sitting there saying that that is absolute cockamamie bullshit. That’s OK. I invite you to hear me out.
I suspect one day, you might reach a point in your life when you’re tired of “having bad days.” Is any day really bad? What defines a bad day? The day itself doesn’t change. The sun rises and sets, the earth rotates on its axis and around the sun, the moon waxes and wanes, the tides rise and fall. So, what’s different other than our perspective about that particular day?
You see, we fall into the carefully designed trap of living a life of comparison. We consciously and subconsciously compare each moment of our day, each experience we have, to all of the other experiences we have experienced and decide — good or bad; the best day ever, or the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Why? Why choose to compare? Why live your present life in the past?
Each and every single moment of every single day we are free to consciously choose what kind of day we are experiencing.
Wouldn’t you like to experience the best day ever, each and every day? Now, I’m not saying that dark, negative, or challenging experiences won’t ever fall your way because they will. It’s inevitable. It’s part of this human experience. However, you can choose how you react to those dark, negative, or challenging experiences. You can choose to flip the coin. You can choose to open the door to a part of yourself that you may not have experienced.
You can choose to reclaim your power rather than victimize yourself by giving your power away to the situation.
Notice the next time you find yourself saying “I’m having a bad day,” or “this is the worst day ever.” Make a conscious decision to flip the coin. Make a conscious decision to open the door behind which a new experience of your Self lies in wait.
I invite you to choose to say “I am having the best day ever.” You may not believe yourself at first. I certainly didn’t. Once I said that a few times to myself though, I experienced the cathartic, cleansing release of tears.
In that moment, I realized that the only thing holding me back from having the best day ever was me — my mindset, my thoughts, beliefs, and opinions, and my attitude. You too can choose to shift your perspective.
When you stop comparing this day, this one moment which you have never experienced before, with any other day or any other moment, when you choose to live life like there is no past and no future, and all that exists is right here, right now…you will shift.
If all that exists is this one precious moment, regardless of the experience and the visitor that has landed on the doorstep of your Home, what will you choose?
Chances are, if you’ve had more than one relationship, you’ve experienced what it’s like to have your heart broken. Not that our hearts can really break, but the end of a relationship can certainly feel like our heart is breaking. Why is that?
It’s a death of sorts, and a rebirth. It’s a death of what was, of how we perceive our experience of the person we were with. It’s an end to how we know and/or interact with someone on the physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and sometimes, spiritual planes. It’s also a beginning to the next chapter of your life.
Ya, right. I’m sure that’s the last thing you probably want to hear from someone if you’re in the midst of relationship changes or are mourning the loss of the ways in which we experienced another person. I hear you. Stay with me. This post is all about some of the steps towards getting your groove back.
- Feel your emotions.
Are you checking out? Or are you staying present with yourself and this process? Granted, some of you may not have the luxury to take time off from commitments — be it work, or family — to allow yourselves to experience and temporarily wallow in the nourishing mud of your grief and/or anger. I would invite you to give yourself permission to spend some time doing so. Have that really good cry. Scream into your pillow. Take a look at the photos and revisit the memories. Allow yourself to walk down memory lane and feel whatever comes up for you.
Let the rain of your tears, the thunder of your laughter, and the lightning of your anger cleanse and renew you.
You are hereby invited to attend your very own venting party. Pour yourself a cup of tea or cacao, grab an glass of organic IPA or pour yourself a glass of organic wine (I recommend red). Have some delicious raw chocolate on hand. Get some paper and a pen and pull up a chair.In this letter, write whatever you want to say to your former partner — they are not going to read this, so have at it. If you feel angry and want to tell them how you feel, do so. If you feel sad and lost beyond all comprehension, get it out. Put it down on paper. Tap into those emotions. Don’t hold back. Let it all out. This is your opportunity and invitation to spew on paper.
Read it. Enjoy some of that tea, wine, beer, or chocolate. Are you feeling a little better now? Ready for the next step? Set your beverage aside and take a deep breath. This is a biggie.
Go back through that letter. Every time you wrote your former partner’s name or referenced them, cross it out. Write your name in there. Ooh. Ouch. Heavy, yeah? Here’s a little secret…are you listening?
Almost everything we dislike or cannot accept in our partner is a reflection of where we are not accepting, liking, or loving ourselves.
Reread the letter. Allow yourself to feel what you just wrote about yourself. Cry if you need to. Yell if you need to. Allow those emotions to move through you.
Write yourself another letter, this time giving yourself what your heart needs, whatever it is you need most in this moment. Read the letter and allow it to permeate throughout your being. How are you feeling?
Take the letters and ceremoniously burn them. Offer them up to the Universe. Note any words or phrases that do not burn.
- Check your Back.
Seriously. Turn around and look at your back. If you can’t see your back, have an authentic friend who is not afraid to be real with you check it for you. Is there a sign back there that says “KICK ME“?Who put it there? Are you beating yourself up? Playing the blame game? Kicking yourself when you’re already down and out? Mmm. I bet it doesn’t feel very good, does it? Would you like to take sign off?
Yes. Dance. Not only have you been invited to a venting party, you are also invited to a daily get up and dance party.What is your absolute favorite song that you can’t resist dancing to? Each and every morning when you awaken, you are invited to join the dancing brother- and sister-hood of awesome people who choose to start their day with a song in their heart and a beat under their feet. It will change your day.
Play that song every morning and dance. You can dance in your bedroom, in the bathroom, the kitchen, the family room; in your pajamas, in your work clothes, in the nude. Grab a mop or a broom — I won’t tell! Have at it and dance your heart out for those 3-5 min.
- Go on an Adventure.
What makes you happy? What makes you come alive? What makes you want to get out of bed each and every morning? What is it about you that drives you to get up every day?We’re about to take a trip and go on an adventure into discovering what you enjoy, what you love, what lights you up from the inside and invites you to smile from ear to ear and laugh with such abandonment that your belly hurts and tears stream from your eyes. No one can answer what that is but you. It’s there. It may not feel like it, but it is.
If you’re not sure how to do that or where to start, let me know. I’m happy to help.
Bonus: Live a Life of Pleasure.
I’m not necessarily inviting you to explore hedonism. Or, maybe I am, comparatively speaking in a society where the general consensus is that martyrdom is the norm and people tend to have their panties in a wad.
Once you discover what it is you enjoy doing for you, (and does no harm to yourself or society), go out and do it. You want to enjoy a dinner at the fancy restaurant in town? Take yourself out! Want to go away on a vacation? Go ahead and go! Love flowers but don’t feel like buying yourself flowers? No offense, but get over it and go buy yourself some. Put them in a gorgeous vase and enjoy. What’s holding you back?
If you’re curious and ready to get your groove back, you are invited to join me and my dear friend and colleague, Diana Deaver, this Oct. for a 4-day all inclusive luxury retreat where we’ll be diving into the heart of this and much more. You can learn more here.
After sharing conversations with friends, clients, a dear soul sister, and recently stepping into a different level of raw vulnerability myself, I have noticed a few things.
It’s uncomfortable being vulnerable. It can be really uncomfortable and somewhat unsettling opening yourself up, baring your heart and soul to another, acting courageously in the face of fear and shame, and letting go of any control we may have over the outcome of sharing our vulnerable selves.
I have realized that in a society where it is considered taboo to be physically naked and vulnerable, how uncomfortable people are and can be when they are physically naked, despite being able to put on clothes and cover themselves up, that I found myself wondering how then, can we allow ourselves to be emotionally vulnerable? And, what would it take to step into the waters of emotional vulnerability where you will be seen and there is no place to hide?
How can we, when as a society we cover our physicality up with fear and shame, invite ourselves to be emotionally vulnerable? To allow ourselves to bare our vulnerably authentic hearts when, once we do, there are no clothes to put on, there is nothing to hide behind? Once we open up and share what parts of us believe to be the most vulnerable aspects of self, we are there, present, open, incredibly beautiful in this state of raw vulnerability.
With each step I take along this path and with each shared story, shared vulnerability, I’m realizing more and more the depth of heart, the courage, the compassion, the willingness to connect, the willingness to realize within ourselves that we are enough as we are, and we are alive, is nothing short of mind-blowingly awe-inspiring.
I’m incredibly grateful for each and every moment of being witness to others’ vulnerabilities and beautiful openings. And, I’m incredibly grateful for each uncomfortable moment I step into and share my vulnerabilities (there are many). Life is a wild and crazy ride, why not join the party and get naked with your soul.
I highly recommend checking out this TedTalk by Brene Brown on the Power of Vulnerability.
Have you ever received a gift that really touched your heart? What was it? What it something someone bought you? Made you? Or was it something completely intangible that you cannot hold and can only experience?
“Santa Clause,” a couple of weeks before Christmas, gave me a gift that touched my heart and moved me in such a way that I still cry when I think about that gift. What was the gift?
It wasn’t a toy. It wasn’t clothes or jewelry. It wasn’t anything you can buy in a store, or make with your hands.
The day after sharing a cup of tea, a little movement, a lot of laughter, and some fantastic climbing, backpacking, and hiking stories with a friend, I realized something about myself. I have not been living. Well, not what I would consider living.
You see, in that brief time together, my friend mirrored back to me a part of myself that I had lost. Where did the adventurous, wild-hearted woman go, who spent nearly every weekend hiking in the mountains in NH? Where did that woman who packed up the back of her pickup truck, drove 2 weeks across country at the age of 20, to live in Alaska for over 3 years, backpacking in Denali National Park, working various odd jobs, living in a cabin with one room, a loft, and no running water, go? Where did the woman who later moved back east and spent a few days per week climbing at the local rock gym (my first love of movement), taking private lessons, and openly and authentically chatting with friends about life over a climbing or bouldering problem, go?
Where did she go? And what the heck has she been doing the past 9 years?
I realized that for the last 9 years, I have not lived. In that moment, I found the aspect of that adventurous, wild-hearted woman that I have been missing all this time.
Remember the clip from Hook, when the little boy “found” Peter? You don’t? Watch it. I’ll wait.
Where did she go? I pushed her aside, sacrificing that aspect of myself to raise my boys, to finish my degree so I could get a “real job,” (which I didn’t do), to continue my ongoing education in holistic movement and wellness, to open a studio, and the list goes on and on. Of course one can argue that with all that I’ve “done” I have indeed been living. At what cost? Have I really been living? Following my heart?
It’s been a long road home. The process of living an awakening life, vulnerably and authentically connecting with others and myself, being curious, inviting myself to explore the dust bunnies in the dark, hidden corners of my inner closet, and developing a movement practice largely brought me to this moment.
The aspect of “Santa Clause” within my friend gave the aspect of “the Grinch” within me a true gift of Christmas that allowed the aspect of “Peter Pan” within me to find himself.
Would you be willing to consider that you needn’t wait for the holidays to give and receive gifts? We have the ability to give and receive gifts each and every day.
Would you be willing to consider that you don’t need to give anything at all other than the gift of being your authentic self and living your life authentically? What if that is one of the greatest gifts we can give, not only to others, but to ourselves as well?
Emotional eating is a normal part of this human experience. We may find ourselves eating junk food, over-eating, under-eating, or obsessed with healthy eating as an attempt to comfort ourselves and/or control parts of ourselves that feel out of control. In this workshop, you will
- learn how to recognize when you are emotionally eating
- uncover some of the deeper reasons why you emotionally eat
- begin the process of balancing yourself from the inside out
- learn tools and strategies to support and comfort yourself
- learn how to develop a healthier relationship with yourself and your food
Would you be willing to consider that emotional eating is a symptom of a different issue? Do you chastise yourself when you emotionally eat? In this workshop, you will be supported and invited to dive into your inner world and explore what unresolved wounds may be resurfacing through emotional eating. I invite you to join me in breaking the cycle of physical, mental, and emotional punishment to experience a greater sense of inner freedom and a more profound and supportive relationship between yourself and your food.
When: Sunday, November 23rd 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Where: 33A Harvard St., Suite 302, Brookline, MA
Cost: $90, $75 if you pre-register by Nov. 18th. Space is limited.
Register here, or contact Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 978-766-8722.
It’s coming…can you feel it? The stress of the holidays, the to-do lists, the go-go-go’s.
Why not learn some tools that will help you get through it all a little less frazzled and will help you jump start the New Year?
If you’ve been on the fence and curious about what it is we do here at On A Limb, now’s your chance to stop on by, learn what sets us apart from any other holistic movement and wellness studio in the area, and check us out free of charge!
Join us for a FREE info session THIS Thursday (11/6) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. All ages welcome.
- Learn what holistic movement and wellness is
- Participate in a free 1/2 hour movement class
- Learn what it’s like to listen to your body and move it mindfully without counting sets and reps
- Movement therapeutics demonstration
- Learn about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and what it can do to help you
- Learn how to alleviate stress related illnesses such as anxiety and depression
- Learn how to live in the present moment, have better attention, awareness, and focus
- Improve your relationships
- Participate in a free mindful living class
We look forward to seeing you there!
Amanda & Sally
Are you strong? Do you train your body? Train your mind? Explore your inner world? Let me ask again – are you strong? What does it mean to be strong?
Are you one of those people whom everyone looks up to and says “wow, you are so strong! I don’t know how you do what you do.” Are you a caregiver? A mom? A dad? Do you find yourself doing everything on your own and depending primarily on yourself? Do you find it challenging to ask for help? When you cry, if you allow yourself to cry, is it only behind closed doors where no one will see or hear you displaying such a show of emotion? Do you hide your true emotions and feelings behind your smile so that others may continue to see how strong you are in the face of various challenges?
Parts of me have fallen into those very categories for years. I am known as “the strong one” because I held back my emotions, am raising two boys on my own, and opened a studio (what?!). I made sure I would do everything on my own and not become co-dependent on anyone ever again. Parts of me find it challenging to ask for help. And, there are days when I cover up my tears, my anger, my fear, or my frustration with a smile. More often than not, my tears.
Would you be willing to consider that parts of us were led to believe that strong people don’t show emotions, they’re fully self-reliant, they don’t ask for help, they always appear happy and grounded? And, that if you displayed emotions, were co-dependent (as a child), interdependent, or asked for help that there was something wrong with you?
Would you be willing to consider that it takes much more effort to maintain the facade of being “the strong one” than it does to allow yourself to be yourself, to show emotion, to ask for help, to create space for healthy interdependence? It certainly doesn’t feel like it at first. It may even feel like you are breaking down and falling to your knees…becoming “weak.”
What if, in fact, you are allowing yourself to experience a new level of strength? What if by allowing yourself to see and accept those parts of yourself which you were led to believe were weak, needy, or shameful, you are becoming stronger?
Have you experienced the grace and the strength required to admit to ourselves and to others the following:
- I experience strong emotions and I have days that I cry off and on all day.
- Although I’m doing, xyz, parts of me are experiencing fear.
- I need help with…can you help me?
Would you consider that it takes a tremendous amount of strength and surrender to see, acknowledge, and accept those parts of ourselves? And, even more strength and surrender to openly share it with others? May I share with you a secret?
“This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness that comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and attend them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.” ~ Rumi
In my opinion, you are not alone. You do not have to do everything alone. We need other people. I do not believe that you have to be “the strong one” in the way you think others want or need you to be strong. Would you be willing to allow yourself to experience the deep surrender and incredible relief that comes from being authentic with yourself and vulnerable with others? Would you be willing to allow yourself to experience the tremendous growing pains from the heart that comes from opening yourself up, much as a flower experiences as it bursts forth from its shell?
Would you consider allowing yourself to experience the experience of being vulnerable, and share the experience that connects us all – that of being human?
Thanks for joining us again. If you missed Part 1, you can view it here.
Without further delay, here are tips 6-10:
6. Go outside and connect with nature.
Have you ever laid upon the earth and noticed how incredible it feels to do so? When was the last time you watched the stars come out at night? The sun rise in the morning? We spend so much time, in general, surrounded by technology in our man made concrete jungle, that we have largely become disconnected from who and what we are. We are human beings, not human doings. Unplug. Go visit the forest, the beach, or the mountains. Kick your shoes off, close your eyes, and allow yourself to connect with the earth. You may notice you breathe more fully. Your stress may decrease significantly. Your mood may brighten, and you may feel more grounded. If you feel so bold and daring as to be called a tree-hugger by your friends, please do hug a tree. If you “listen” carefully, you can “hear” the flow of movement within the tree, “hear” it “speak.” Yes, I hug trees. Part of me feels ashamed to share that with you. Interesting.
Some would argue that this should be first on the list. Without breath, we would not be alive. So, breathing is just a little important.
When was the last time you allowed yourself to receive a deep breath? Can you receive a deep breath? Can you fully exhale? When you inhale, where do you breathe from? What is your belly doing? Are you a chest breather? A mouth breather? A noisy breather? Are you really breathing or do you just think you are breathing? Dysfunctional breathing patterns are a sign that your system, your body, is under stress.
I invite you to lie on your back, place a small sandbag, bag of rice, or herbal hot pack on your abdomen. Which direction does it move when you inhale? It should move up towards the ceiling. Draw your attention to your ribs. Are they expanding laterally? Posteriorly? Can you breath in 360°? I would like to invite you to take a few moments and breathe. Focus on slow, steady, quiet breathing, inhaling through the nose for a count of three, exhaling through the nose for a count of 5-6. You may find yourself experiencing emotions as you relax and let go. Allow yourself to feel them, to experience them, and let them go. Experience what it is like to feel, to receive and to give breath, and to relax.
Perhaps it would be worth exploring tips 6-8 together? Have you ever noticed how noisy our minds can be?! I don’t know about yours, but mind used to wander like crazy (and still does at times)! I would sit in meditation and find my mind wondering about what I had to do, what was going on in my life that was stressing me out, what to cook for dinner…inhale for three, exhale for six. Why can’t I relax? Breathe in, breathe out. Is this over yet? Has it been five minutes? My bum hurts and my feet are falling asleep. There goes my mind again. Monkey brain, monkey brain. Focus on the breath. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Sound familiar? It does get easier.
Meditation has many benefits, including, but not limited to the following:
- reduces stress
- lowers high blood pressure
- decreases tension within the body
- increases serotonin
- increases the immune system’s ability to fight infection
- increases energy
- increases mental clarity
- increases emotional steadiness
There are numerous meditation apps out there. I invite you to try one and incorporate 5-10 minutes of daily meditation into your life. Who knows, it may just carry over into the amazing art of what I consider moving meditation, like what my friend Rusty is doing here:
9. Play and allow your inner child to express his/her unique, creative self.
Now we’re getting serious. When was the last time you played? Really played and had fun and allowed yourself to be wild and carefree? What were some of your favorite things to do as a child? I loved climbing on things, swinging, sitting under this huge blue spruce tree in the backyard and making mud pies, blowing bubbles and running around to pop them…
What would you do right here, right now if no one was watching that would invite your inner child to giggle with sheer delight? What’s stopping you from doing that? I’ll admit, this is a topic that likely has many layers to it and may very well warrant a post of its own.
One of the things my inner child likes to do is write. She also likes to swing, though I get nauseous if I swing for too long. She loved the experience of contradancing, and would probably enjoy contact improve…and, I’m a horrible dancer and haven’t done it in a long time. She likes to climb on things, slide down slides, and be upside down on her hands. She loves to laugh and laugh with you.
What are some things you could do right here, right now that would allow your unique inner child to express him/herself through you? I’d love to hear about it from you. You won’t be judged, even if it means catching frogs or, holding a pumpkin and acting like it’s a microphone. Go for it and have fun!
10. Ask yourself what makes you happy and go do it.
What invites you to feel happy? Only you can answer this. What can you do for yourself to welcome more happiness into your life? Do you feel happy? Do you really feel happy or are you in denial that you are unhappy? I’m curious, what does true happiness mean to you?
This isn’t a fake it until you make it post. I’m inviting you to consider one thing, just one that invites you to feel happy. One thing that invites me to feel happy is taking care of myself and moving my body every day. Another is spending time connecting with people I love and care for. I would like to invite you to spend some time every day doing one thing that invites you to experience happiness.
11. Be curious about yourself.
Have you noticed how certain patterns may reappear in your life? Have you noticed that sometimes you are triggered for no reason whatsoever or that seemingly trivial situations leave you worked up and in a tizzy? Have you wondered about your dreams and what they may be telling you?
Would you consider being curious about yourself? What does that mean? Rather than rationalizing and accepting things at face value, would you consider asking yourself “why”? Would you consider asking yourself “what”? Would you consider asking yourself “is this true,” or “is this for my highest good at this moment in time”? I’ll admit that asking questions often leads to more questions and few answers. However, the answers are sometimes in the questions themselves. By remaining curious about ourselves, we may open ourselves up to a realm of possibility that may not be realized otherwise.
How do you nourish yourself? I would enjoy hearing from you below. Please feel free to share some of the ways you nourish yourself. If you find that you’re not nourishing yourself or don’t know where to start, please shoot me an email. I’d be happy to help guide you.
How are you at taking care of, well, you? Are you caring for yourself as well as you could be or should be? I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I fall short of nourishing myself. After mildly injuring myself last week, I found myself asking myself those questions.
If we have a bit too much go-go and do-do in our lives, then we may find ourselves setting ourselves up for the opportunity for a bit of doodoo to land in our face, our lap, or on the bottom of our shoes. When that happens, life can become rather stinky. To help keep the roses smelling rosy and the air fresh and crisp (Don’t you just love autumn?), to find more balance and nourish yourself, check out these 10 tips:
1. Drink quality water.
A lot of seemingly unconnected symptoms may be connected to dehydration. Drink water and you may find yourself feeling better. A good rule of thumb, and this is just a guideline mind you, everyone has their own unique needs, is to drink 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces of water. This is different for those who use kg for bodyweight…in that case it’s closer to a 1:1 ratio. For example, if you weigh 180 lbs, a guideline is to drink 90 ounces water. Again, this is just a rough guideline. You may need more or less depending on your body and its needs. By the way, if it’s not clear, it’s not water, it’s food.
2. Eat quality, wholesome food from healthy plants and animals.
You are what you eat. If you eat diseased animal, you get diseased animal. If you eat diseased plants, you get diseased animal. If you eat pesticide laden food, you get a toxic animal. If you eat crap, well, you get crap. Got it? It’s not necessary to be perfect all the time. Who doesn’t enjoy a treat every now and then? I’d recommend aiming to eat well and healthy 80% of the time.
Three of our favorite nourishing foods (note, foods, not meals) are the following:
- Cate Stillman‘s Boo Candy to help ward off colds and mucous
- Turmeric Milk
- Beef Bone Broth. Although I usually keep mine to the bare basics, here’s a “recipe” from the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Not only are they nourishing from a nutritional standpoint, they are also what I would consider “soul food.”
3. Develop a relationship with your food.
Turn the TV off. Set the computer and iThingys aside. Put the newspaper, magazine, or book down. Disconnect from your disconnections and connect with your food and the people who may be sitting in front of or next to you. You may find yourself chewing your food more thoroughly, tasting what you are eating, getting more full sooner, and maybe, just maybe sharing a conversation. I would invite you to consider chewing your food until it is liquid or nearly so. As Paul Chek says, “Drink your food. Chew your water.”
That’s a shocker! Yes, we need sleep. Quality sleep. How well and how long you sleep for you (everyone has their individual needs), will impact your health and well-being. If you’ve been experiencing yourself short of temper, prone to emotional outbursts, facing difficultly thinking clearly, feeling sluggish in the gym…sleep, or lack thereof, may be a contributing factor.
In my opinion, don’t just move. Ask yourself why you are moving your body. What are you moving for? What are you hoping to get out of moving your body? Are you beating yourself up in the gym or doing endless hours of cardio? Are you burning yourself out? Maybe you need to slow down and invite more yin-like movements into your day. High intensity go-go, more, more, harder, harder, and faster, faster isn’t often what our bodies need. They need balance. If your life and job are super stressful, maybe stressing yourself physiologically is pushing you over the edge. Check out these videos by my dear teacher and friend Benny Fergusson of Cohesion Gym for a quick glimpse into this topic. Although I see it far less often, maybe you need to move more. If you’re finding difficultly finding balance, I invite you to reach out to a holistic movement specialist who can guide you to bring balance back into your movement and your life.
Click here for Part 2, after you watch the videos.
I’d show up to each and every class with this desire to connect. I wanted to experience what the teachers were talking about – that physical asana is a means to connect to ones higher Self. But, I never felt it. I’d push and push and push to feel this connection, or I’d fervently pray, but all I felt inside was an empty shell of nothingness. That’s right. NOTHING.
You want to talk about a void? Well, there it was and I was trying to fill it with these false notions of connecting to something greater than myself through yoga. I was trying to fill the void with the deep, dark shadow emotions I was feeling. And, I was trying to fill it with a community that largely doesn’t see you, doesn’t reach out to you unless you are there in class. You see, I realized that a part of me would feel like I would not exist if I didn’t do yoga. So, I filled that void by making sure I would exist by showing up all the time.
I injured myself. Granted, yes, it was a physical injury, but that has been nothing compared to the immense inner wounding that I did to myself during the “healthy” practice of yoga. I kept practicing for a while anyway. I kept showing up. I still tried to fill the broken vase of my inner world with pain or with the intention that “all you need to do is send that part of yourself love and compassion.”
Bull crap. Sometimes, oftentimes, we need to allow ourselves to feel the pain inside of us, and
express it. Sometimes we need to experience hating parts of our self so that we may in turn learn to accept our self, or accept the parts of our self which we cannot accept, so we may learn how to love ourselves. Sometimes, we need to step away from the picture and take a look at just how much of our practice is unconsciously filled with sugar coated shit and namaste’s that have become so overused that it now has the equivalent weight of “hello.”
There were so many times after this injury where I would try to continue practicing, but the pain I felt become too intense. Yes, there was a physical pain, but the emotional pain could no longer be held by the broken container within which I stuffed it, so it began to overflow. I stopped practicing yoga a few years ago and began my journey to healing myself. At first, all I wanted to do was yoga. If I wasn’t doing yoga, I wasn’t happy. If I was doing yoga, I wasn’t happy…isn’t that interesting. The last spontaneous class I took, a year ago, to test myself, revealed much.
I learned that the yoga asana I have experienced doesn’t support me, doesn’t support my body, doesn’t support who I AM. I learned that I could no longer listen to themes of a physical practice connecting us to Source. I stopped drinking the Kool-Aid, the alcohol of yoga, the cocaine of yoga. Parts of me experienced anger when asked when I would return to class. I don’t have an answer to that question. At this point in time, returning to a yoga asana practice or class would be akin to a recovering alcoholic having a drink, a recovering cocaine addict a hit.
Why share this with all of you? Perhaps my story will inspire you to look closely at your practice. Perhaps my story will plant the seed of awakening to the parts of yourself who may be in denial about the possibility of addiction through yoga. And, part of me is allowing myself to heal, to more fully accept myself, to more fully love myself, by sharing my story with you.
May I share something else with you? Each and every one of us is already infinitely connected. You don’t need to go out and buy fancy Lululemon pants. You don’t need to drop “namaste” like it’s the hottest thing since sliced bread. You don’t need to stop eating meat because you believe not eating it will increase your vibration and make you more enlightened. I invite you to be. Just be and allow yourself to experience your Self as you are. Here and now.
If none of this has a ring of truth to you, I would invite you to consider watching and experience this funny, not-so-funny, funny video “How to be Ultra-Spiritual” by friend and mentor JP Sears.
If you’re just joining us now, please take a moment and read Confessions from a Recovering Asana Junkie – Part 1.
I was one of “those” people. Yes, I wore Lululemon pants. Not because I felt they’d make me a better yogi or grant me enlightenment, but because they fit. And, they lasted several years before wearing out. Maybe I’m in denial about some expensive pair of pants making me feel more spiritual.
Anyway, I was one of those people whom you would see in yoga class at least three times per week. I’d practice at home anywhere from 1-3 hrs. per day. I’d take every single workshop that I could. Part of me would hang on and hope to be included in the “Insider’s Club” so I could be one of the “cool kids” who got to hang out with the crew and chat about…yoga. I wanted to fit in and an unconscious part of me would do anything that I had to in order to feel connected and like I belonged.
Very rarely did I leave class with one of those post yoga glows. If I did, it was usually a physiological response resulting from my having moved my body through space and time. Yoga became my means of brutalizing myself. It became my means of beating parts of myself up. It became my means of reaffirming over and over and over again the toxic shame that I would never be enough as I am.
If I couldn’t do a pose, I unconsciously believed there was something wrong with me. If my alignment wasn’t perfect, I unconsciously believed there was something wrong with me. If I didn’t leave with this blissed out look and happy as a clam, feeling so connected to Source that I was flying on the inside, then there was absolutely, positively something wrong with me. I believed I’d never measure up and that’s exactly what my ego wanted. (Little did I know that that’s what it wanted.).
But, yogis are supposed to be calm, and zen-like. They’re not supposed to feel these tornadic waves of emotion. Nope, not allowed. At least, I didn’t believe so. That fit in perfectly with the part of myself that had become very safe and comfortable not feeling and not expressing emotions. Feeling and showing emotions? Geesh. That’s scary business!
If you’re teacher says it’s ok to cry on your mat, is it really ok? Let’s face it, the reality of someone hysterically sobbing next to you, while you’re trying to rest in savasana, isn’t always the most welcome activity. So, what did I do? I stuffed those emotions down inside of me. I knew how I felt – that maybe I would explode. Heck, there were times when you could physically see it! My face, neck, and upper chest would be red as a beet, with a distinct line across my chest showing the energy blockage. I felt on fire.
To make matters worse, I fell into the dangerous trap of intellectualizing my emotions. “I feel like I can’t move forward in my life. I must be experiencing Ganesh energy. I need to find a way around the elephant standing in my path.” Or, “I feel like I’m being broken down and torn apart…Om Namah Shivaya, Om Namah Shivaya…”. Or, “Why can’t I feel boundless love within my heart? Hanuman, help me please.” What?! You want to talk messed up – that was me. I rationalized my emotions. What did that do?
It gave me an out so I could continue to numb myself from experiencing the experience of feeling the intense emotions that I had consciously and unconsciously spent the majority of my life burying. Yoga become a tool, a means, my drug, my drink, to numb myself from the reality of my life. Woah.
You walk into a room, most likely with hardwood floors, soft bright lighting, perhaps some buddhist or zen-like paintings on the wall. Maybe Nag Champa or some other incense is burning. Krishna Das, Wah, or Snatam Kaur may be on in the background. You take note of the myriad of mats laid out across the floor with people vying for “their spot.” You notice the class is largely filled with Lululemon-clad women and a few men. Perhaps they’re stretching themselves out in downward facing dog or chatting with each other about some mystical experience they had and how it relates to a theme from yesterday’s class, or a Hindu god/dess…
Class begins, perhaps with a meditation and centering, maybe with a chant, and almost definitely with three Oms. You are led through a sequence of poses that may or may not build up to a pinnacle pose, depending on which style of yoga you are practicing, or maybe you’re moving your body in a 100°F room to “detox” and become more limber. At the end, class is wrapped up with savasana, followed by the ever popular “namaste.” Maybe, just maybe you’re one of those folks who leaves class all blissed out with this incredible post-yoga glow on your face. After class, you and your yoga family head out to the nearest healthy eatery and continue sharing conversation that inevitably resolves around something having to do with yoga. After all, that’s all there is to life, isn’t there?
I have a confession to share with you. My name is Amanda and I am a recovering asana junkie. Yes, I was a yoga addict. What is an addiction? The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as the following:
“a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social, and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by the inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic disease, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission…”.
How does that invite you to feel? What are you experiencing in this moment? Are you uncomfortable? Perhaps you are thinking – how can something that is healthy be an addiction? Sure, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, like eating that extra piece of raw cacao and maybe not feeling so hot afterwards, but addicted to yoga? How is that possible?
May I ask you a question? If you’re a “yogi,” are you addicted to yoga, not addicted to yoga, or are you in denial about your addiction to yoga? Hmm…