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HAPPINESS ASTROLOGY 2015:
set your spirit alight
Spirited sex Pete Evans
• Cultivate your friendships • Learn to walk your karmic path • Connect to the divine in nature
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EDITOR Terry Robson Ph +61 2 9887 0320 DEPUTY EDITOR Danielle Kirk Ph +61 2 9887 0640 MANAGING EDITOR Kerry Boyne INTERN Kate Duncan DESIGNER Rachel Henderson PREPRESS Cathy Ward NATIONAL ADVERTISING MANAGER Kirsti Couper Ph +61 2 9887 0369 SOUTH AUSTRALIAN SALES & MARKETING Sandy Shaw Ph +61 8 8342 5989 ADVERTISING PRODUCTION CO-ORDINATOR Kate Martin Ph +61 2 9887 0370 ADVERTISING SENIOR DESIGNER Martha Rubazewicz MARKETING CO-ORDINATOR Kye Blackett Ph +61 2 9887 0326 PUBLISHER Janice Williams COVER CREDIT Getty images
CHAIRMAN/CEO Prema Perera PUBLISHER Janice Williams CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Vicky Mahadeva ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Emma Perera ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Karen Day CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Mark Darton CREATIVE DIRECTOR Kate Podger EDITORIAL PRODUCTION MANAGER Anastasia Casey PRINT PRODUCTION MANAGER Lilian Ohanessian PREPRESS MANAGER Ivan Fitz-Gerald MARKETING & ACQUISITIONS MANAGER Chelsea Peters SUBSCRIPTION ENQUIRIES 1300 303 414 CIRCULATION ENQUIRIES to our Sydney head oﬃce: +61 2 9805 0399 WellBeing Issue 153 is published by Universal WellBeing Pty Ltd, Unit 5, 6-8 Byfield Street, North Ryde NSW 2113, Australia. Phone: +61 2 9805 0399, Fax: +61 2 9805 0714. Printed by KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd, Singapore. Distributed by Network Services, Phone: +61 2 9282 8777. Editorial advice is non-specific and readers are advised to seek professional advice for personal problems. Individual replies to readers’ letters by consulting editors are not possible. The opinions expressed by individual writers in WellBeing are not necessarily those of the publishers. This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Enquiries should be addressed to the publishers. The publishers believe all the information supplied in this book to be correct at the time of printing. They are not, however, in a position to make a guarantee to this effect and accept no liability in the event of any information proving inaccurate. Prices, addresses and phone numbers were, after investigation and to the best of our knowledge and belief, up to date at the time of printing, but the shifting sands of time may change them in some cases. It is not possible for the publishers to ensure that advertisements which appear in this publication comply with the Trade Practices Act, 1974. The responsibility must therefore be on the person, company or advertising agency submitting the advertisements for publication. While every endeavour has been made to ensure complete accuracy, the publishers cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This magazine is printed on paper that comes from a mill that satisfies the requirements of ISO 14001. *Recommended retail price ISSN 0812-8220 Copyright © Universal Magazines MMXIV ACN 003 026 944 universalmagazines.com.au Cover photography: Getty Images IMPORTANT: This magazine is intended as a reference volume only, not as a medical manual. While the information is based on material provided by researchers, the magazine does not presume to give medical advice. Be sure to consult your physician before beginning any therapeutic program. We are a member of
FROM THE EDITOR
o you need some help? Is there some aspect of your life in which you really need help and, more particularly, have you asked anyone for the help you need? I tend not to ask for help but recently found myself in a situation where I had no choice but to ask for the assistance of others. It is a measure of my aversion to admitting the need for help that I hesitate before writing about it here. It seems that running in circles in my mind with its arms flailing is a notion that somehow an editor should present as being totally in control and not needing others: a farcical belief and an unconscious one. What I have found, however, is that when I asked for help what I was really doing was allowing others to display their generosity, their caring, their humanity. As it happens, in recent times I’ve experienced others asking for help, too, and just as my request was met with decency and camaraderie, so were theirs. Asking for help when you genuinely need it is not necessarily easy because pride and a whole parade of other imposters get in the way, but when you do it you are giving a gift; you are placing deep respect and trust in the human values of the person you ask for help. Everyone I have discussed this with has said that it is one of the real joys of life when they are able to help another. Yet how often do we allow this basic, yet peak, human interaction to occur? Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation,” and I think the desperation results from the quietness. We are urged towards self-reliance
Asking for help allows others to be the best they can be. and independence, which are valuable qualities, yet when valued above all else they trap us in an isolated, tiny hell. Asking for help allows others to be the best they can be and it allows everyone involved to be connected on a genuine level that transcends the pretence of day-to-day existence. No one is an island complete unto herself or himself. At some time you will need the help of others, and honestly admitting that need is the essence of community and belonging. I’m not suggesting you confect a reason to ask for help because it is the honesty of the request that is an important part of the uplifting equation. So if you need some help I encourage you to ask for it. The benefits will be wider than you can imagine.
Terry Robson, Editor
JOIN THE WELLBEING COMMUNITY Connect and share with a group of caring, passionate experts and motivated people. Read the latest wellbeing news online, see what our bloggers are talking about, send us your thoughts and keep in touch via our social-networking communities. VISIT US ONLINE wellbeing.com.au LIKE US ON FACEBOOK facebook.com/WellBeingMagazine FOLLOW US ON TWITTER twitter.com/WellBeing_Mag CHECK US OUT ON PINTEREST pinterest.com/WellBeingMag FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM instagram.com/WellBeing_Mag READ OUR BLOGS wellbeing.com.au/blog SEND US YOUR FEEDBACK firstname.lastname@example.org
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CONTENTS ISSUE #153 COMMUNITY 6 Your say WellBeing readers tell us what’s on their minds. 7 Twisdom Sharing your wisdom with the WellBeing community. 18 Road Test We experience the beautiful treatments, food and atmosphere of Gaia Retreat & Spa. 20 Holistic Journey We meet Danielle Smith, who started her online eco-fashion store aged just 21. 22 Art for Art’s Sake April White explores the complex themes of life, death and culture. 125 Real Life Experience An athlete who was hit by a car while training for a triathlon used his determination to turn his experience around. 137 What’s On What we’ve been up to, plus what’s coming up for you.
BEAUTY, FOOD & HEALTH 8 The Pulse Read about cinnamon’s impact on Parkinson’s disease and more in our medical news section. 14 Supplement L-glutamine is an amino
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acid that, while not considered “essential”, is necessary for your overall wellbeing. 16 Functional Food Oranges don’t just taste great — they are also rich in nutrients and the skin, oils and seeds can be used as medicine. 50 Super Salads By simply including bitter greens, good-quality dressings and fermented foods, you can create a salad that really packs a nutritional punch. 56 Savvy About Supplements Are you getting the most from your supplements? Maximising the nutrients they deliver involves paying attention to timing, labels and lifestyle. 60 Beautiful Oils Used for millennia, natural oils can be hugely
beneficial for your health and wellbeing. We reveal ways to harness the many benefits of oils, both inside and out. 64 Special Report: Spirited Sex Have you discovered the path to passion? We examine all aspects of what it means to experience a healthy sex life and reveal how to take optimum care of your reproductive system and attain sexual satisfaction. 106 Recipes: Superfoods Rena Patten dishes up four sumptuous recipes that showcase nutrientpacked superfoods.
BODY, MIND & SPIRIT 10 Lifelines Read about our perceptions of women in
red and more in our body and soul section. 24 Thinkers & Doers: Tim Cope Adventurer Tim Cope crossed the steppes of Eurasia with just his dog, three horses and the horizon for company. He travelled mostly alone, yet the message he shares is about the importance of community and tradition. 28 The Fire of 2015 Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus activate the three fire signs next year, inspiring you, boosting your confidence and daring you to act on your passions. 36 Walking the Karmic Path When you live according to the wisdom of karma, by wisely and consciously choosing your path, you can transform your life. 40 Yoga for Happiness The philosophy and practice of yoga can be a marvellous tool for helping you discover true, lasting happiness. 80 In Your Dreams Your dreams hold the keys to your secret fears and desires. Learn how to listen to what your subconscious is trying to tell you. 104 Counter Culture Find out what’s new in books, music and film.
HOME, PARENTING & RELATIONSHIPS 32 The Last Great Romance Friendships are the new
swathe of charms, from sparkling beaches to luxurious spas to genuinely warm, friendly locals.
32 long-term relationships that outlast marriage and romance. We show why you should nurture those friendships you hold dear. 74 Warning: Language May Offend Why has cursing become so common and how can you keep your kids’ language in check? We take a look.
PLANET & TRAVEL 12 Green Beat Read about how broccoli can beat air pollution and more in our environmental news section. 46 Cultivating a Down-to-Earth Spiritual Experience Being spiritual doesn’t need to mean that you have to conform to an institutionalised religion. You can connect with the divine simply by being present in nature.
84 Up, Up and Away Green walls are huge in the home design arena, with good reason. Not only do they look spectacular, they also encourage airflow, biodiversity and our natural human connection with nature. 88 Model City Detroit has been the hardest hit of all the cities in the US “rust belt”. Yet, as we discover, this post-industrial city is experiencing a wave of progressive change that’s steering it toward a brighter future. 94 Land of Legends We take a road trip around New Zealand’s South Island and become bewitched by its rugged mountains, wild coastlines and Ma ¯ori folklore. 98 Getting to the Heart of Fiji Fiji offers visitors in search of a holistic holiday a
108 Education Focus News from our natural health educators, this issue the International Yoga Teachers Association. 109 Food Source Healthy food products from our advertisers. 112 Natural Source Health products from our advertisers. 115 Beauty Source News from the brands that care for your skin, naturally. 117 Natural Beauty Carla Oates suggests ways in which you can get good-quality sleep for health and beauty. 118 Quick Kitchen Lee Holmes explores the gut-brain axis and dishes up some wonderful gut-healing treats. 119 DIY Detox Sally Mathrick reflects on the benefits of detoxing your conversations. 120 Digging In Jackie French discusses how you can create your very own vertical and hanging gardens. 121 Pet Care Karen Goldrick weighs up the pros and cons of desexing our companion animals. 122 Stargazing Christine Broadbent reveals the planetary influences for November and December, 2014. 123 Ageing Well Michael Elstein looks at the health threats from poor dental hygiene and periodontitis. 124 Back to Basics Karin Cutter considers a case of anxietyinduced dehydration. 126 WellBeing Resource Guide A directory of holistic products and services.
COMMUNITY YOUR SAY
Your say Did something resonate with you in this issue of WellBeing? We’d love to hear your feedback. Write to us at WellBeing, Locked Bag 154, North Ryde, NSW 1670, email wbletters@ universalmagazines.com.au, comment on our Facebook page or tweet us: @WellBeing_Mag. We reserve the right to edit all submissions.
STAR LETTER First of all, I wanted to say how beautiful the cover of your 30th birthday edition was! Wow, I couldn’t stop staring at it when I found it in the post today. I had recently asked for a sign from my guides and the universe as to whether I should continue with my blog and business plans — I felt frustrated and had a “what’s the point” attitude, you could say. Within two days of sending a prayer out I received two amazing signs back, one being from an agent asking me to review a book and another from your beautiful magazine, which had taken one of my tweets and put it on the community page! I squealed out loud when I saw my name and quote right there on the page. I take this as a YES! Carry on. You’re on-purpose and you just don’t know who is reading your words. And to think, if my partner hadn’t given me a subscription as a birthday present, I might have missed this issue! So thank you. It made my day and it put me back on my path.
READING FOR QUIET TIMES Thank you for your amazing magazine. I spotted it a few months ago, shining at me through the clutter and trash of the magazine stand. I took it home and revelled in the pages of wonderful information. I own a holistic healthcare clinic in New Plymouth (NZ) and am a busy single mum. My quiet time needs to count for something and your magazine is worthy of sharing my relaxation moments. I am always on the lookout for the next edition and when I am done I leave it in the waiting room at work to inspire and inform my clients and customers. Dawn Treneary
WHERE WERE YOU? I’m (only) 38 but if I had started reading WellBeing even 20 years ago, I sense my life might have had more perspective, balance and shine. Andrea Nunan
Natasha (aka Miss Happy Spirits)
MINDFULNESS AT LUNCH SUPPORT FOR FATHERS I am a father of three very beautiful children (I am biased, of course). I also teach oriental disciplines. I spiritually carry an empty cup with me and attempt to fill it up to drink valuable lessons along my journey. I read most of your articles and find a lot of information there very helpful and encouraging. As a supporter and reader, I wish to add a little observation in the children’s developmental arena. There are so many websites, magazines, advertisements etc that demonstrate and promote the relationship of “mum” with our children. I am extremely supportive of this beautiful acknowledgement and am in no way against any of that, as each child’s development hangs on being nurtured by the mother. However, when are there going to be articles about the importance of the “father” influence in our children’s lives? The health benefits that a father can bestow upon and encourage for the whole family, as its head figure? I would enjoy very much seeing some inclusions in your magazine, perhaps an article about where the father fits in the health and wellbeing equation. After all, society embraces and extends love
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to all in our social groups. Marriage, as we traditionally know it, is struggling, yet both parents are ultimately the ones who are responsible for a healthy society. Also, there are the members of the gay community who have adopted fortunate children and act as fathers as well as mothers. What can you offer to our community? George Cauchi
One reader asks, what can WellBeing offer to fathers?
Work Smarter, Not Harder (#151) was a great lunchtime read. The growing awareness of the benefits of mindfulness for personal wellbeing is now filtering into the corporate world. Does it get any better? Samantha Avery
YOU MAKE ME HAPPY! I am so loving WellBeing. I am going into my second semester of a Bachelor of Naturopathy, so between classes and this
Twisdom We’d love to hear your tips for living well. Email us at wbletters@ universalmagazines.com.au, comment on our Facebook page or tweet us @WellBeing_Mag. We reserve the right to edit all submissions.
The writer of this issue’s star letter wins a prize pack worth AU$115 from RosehipPLUS™. The pack contains RosehipPLUS Certified Organic Rosehip Oil 30mL and 50mL, and RosehipPLUS Certified Organic Rosehip Oil Skin Boost 15mL, plus the new RosehipPLUS Certified Organic Hydrating Day Cream 75mL and RosehipPLUS Certified Organic Nourishing Night Cream 50mL. All RosehipPLUS products contain only premium ingredients that are rich in naturally occurring nutrients and free from pesticides, bleaching, colouring and fragrances. The range can be used daily on all skin types, even the most sensitive skin. As well as being Australian Certified Organic, the RosehipPLUS range is endorsed by PETA and is not tested on animals. Find out more at rosehipplus.com.au.
magazine my brain is full of ideas and things to try and, even better, I can have it on my iPad so it’s with me all the time! I am a happy, happy person. Ruth Cowen
STUNNING COVER I just want to say how stunning your cover is on your birthday issue. It’s so beautiful and calming — I can’t stop looking at it! Kellie Lumb
INSTAGRAM WINNER THANK YOU for the opportunity to win your Instagram competition. I have such an interest in holistic health and nutrition and am planning on studying naturopathy and becoming a health coach. This is an incredible step towards achieving that goal. Irena Vazanellis
COME BLOG FOR US Do you whip up wholefood recipes for your family? Do you talk about spirituality, yoga and caring for the planet with your friends? Are you a holistic therapy practitioner? We’re looking for people who are passionate about wellness to blog for us. Interested? Submit your ideas and a 400-word sample to email@example.com.
WE ASKED: HOW COULD YOU GET MORE “REAL” WITH YOURSELF? Time out/me time for yoga, meditation or a massage. Tracy Macdonald-Collett Do what I love and what my heart says, not what my mind says. Rosie Richards Be authentic, listen to my heart and to my SELF (“Soul Eternal Love Flame”), and take the steps true to my purpose. Bianca de Reus By recognising I’m actually doing just fine and that “should-ing” on myself is a waste of time. By not looking for problems where there aren’t any. #ease #exhale Kelly Roberts Taking time out from our busy lives and reflecting on my purpose ... why I’m
here on Earth. Reminding myself what truly feeds my soul and makes me tick. Walking meditation or taking a run on a mountain trail is how I connect with myself. Karrie Billets Be honest with myself and stop making excuses. Ngaire Trigg
CONVERSATION POINTS Sometimes pyjamas and a hot water bottle hours before bedtime is the best! #journalling @ClaireLaraine It’s my birthday. Am approaching 40s and en route to a festival. Lame? Cool? Lame. Cool. Can’t decide. Xx @camberverywell Our mind ﬁlters our world. Look for the bad and you will ﬁnd it, look for the good and ﬁnd that instead. @JoanneAdam2 Today I scared all my work colleagues with my smoothie lunch. Looks green but tastes like vanilla. #GreenEnergy @alexbathman I am inspired by everyone who is trying to change their life. Making change is a challenge and I congratulate all the trailblazers out there. @carolynlgray I have a lot of oranges. So, obviously, I’m going to freeze them and make orange nice-cream. #yum @tamillajett Life feels constricting when you’re
living one that’s unhealthy for your body, mind, soul and spirit. @WholeBodyGent It’s time to practise what you preach. Sometimes life just takes over and we forget to do what is really important — look after our bodies! @danika_kelb I can’t wait to nourish my body with all the green goodness from my garden! @trinettejaes Life is beautiful! Treasure it like a tiny snowﬂake you never want to melt! @MissLivv63 It does not matter what type of medicine you choose if you are not part of the healing! @MarieKnoetig Sundays are always my favourite day of the week. Farmers markets, smoothies, beach and afternoon yoga. @CourtSteed So grateful today for synchronicity. Love running into people I’m meant to. Go with the ﬂow. Trust and have faith. X @jennyorenstein
WELLBEING | 7
THE PULSE COMPILED BY TERRY ROBSON
Recent medical ﬁndings for a healthier body CINNAMON FOR PARKINSON’S In this study, mice were fed ground cinnamon and the researchers found that this led to changes in processes that underlie Parkinson’s disease. For a start, there were increases in two important proteins that are known to decrease in Parkinson’s: those proteins are Parkin and DJ-1. Additionally, it was found that the ground cinnamon resulted in protection of brain neurons, normalisation of neurotransmitters and improved motor function in mice with Parkinson’s disease. Although Parkinson’s disease affects around one in every 100 people over the age of 60, we know a little, but not enough, about its causes. Although it’s not a cure and is not a complete answer to the problem of Parkinson’s, these researchers say cinnamon could potentially be one of the safest ways to help slow progression of the disease. Source: Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology
FIST BUMP FEVER Do you handshake, high-five or fist bump? Researchers have found that handshaking has the highest rate of bacterial transfer. High-fiving reduces bacterial transfer by 50 per cent compared to a handshake, while fist bumping transfers 90 per cent fewer bacteria than the handshake. So a fist bump means you will be both ultra cool and super clean. Source: American Journal of Infection Control
WEATHERING BACK PAIN Can the weather really affect back pain? For this study, almost 1000 people with back pain kept a journal of the pain events and this was correlated with weather conditions at the time they felt the pain. Additionally, the weather conditions one week and one month before the onset of the pain were also analysed. As a result of their analysis, the researchers say there is no link between weather conditions and incidences of back pain except for one type of weather: wind. The researchers found that an increase in wind speed of around 11km/h led to a higher risk that pain would come on within the next 24 hours, and gusts increasing by around 14km/h had a similar effect. This effect of wind was, however, only a small increase in the risk of a pain episode. Source: Arthritis Care and Research
In a new study, researchers from the University of Illinois in the US prepared extracts of marjoram (Origanum majorana), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens) and green oregano (Origanum vulgare). They used two forms of each of these plants: one from greenhousegrown plants and the other from commercially purchased dried forms. They tested the extracts against enzymes that are targets for anti-diabetes drugs. One enzyme is DPP-4, which is targeted by drugs like metformin and sitagliptin. The other enzyme is PTP1B, which is involved in insulin signalling, but finding drugs that will inhibit it is proving difficult. The greenhouse-grown rosemary, Mexican oregano and marjoram were the best inhibitors of DPP-4. However, extracts of the dried commercial herbs were the best inhibitors of PTP1B. You shouldn’t replace your medications with these herbs, but this shows that your food can work in the same way as your medicine. Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
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OMEGA-3 FOR ARTHRITIS To see if there is a link between fat in the diet and arthritis, researchers fed three diﬀerent diets to mice with arthritis of the knee. One group was fed a diet high in saturated fat, which is known to increase cholesterol levels and promote inﬂammation in the body. A second group was fed a diet high in omega-6 fats from corn oil, soybean oil, nuts and seeds. The ﬁnal group was fed a diet high in omega-3 fats from ﬂaxseed and ﬁsh oil. Mice that had diets high in saturated fat or omega-6 experienced worsening of their arthritis while those fed omega-3 fats had healthier joints. The omega-3 fats did not reverse the joint damage but they did slow the progression of the arthritis. Source: Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases
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LIFELINES COMPILED BY TERRY ROBSON
Interesting slices of life SCARLET WOMEN Research has shown that men perceive wearing red by a woman as a sign of sexual receptivity. In this study, though, researchers wanted to see how women perceive other women in red. In one experiment, women aged 18 to 65 viewed a photograph of an individual for ﬁve seconds and then answered questions about that person. Subjects were randomly assigned to view either a woman in a red dress or a woman in a white dress. Aside from the dress colour, the pictures were identical. The women rated the woman in red as more sexually receptive than the woman in white. Further experiments showed that women perceive other women in red as more sexually receptive and are likely to feel the need to guard their partner against a woman in red. It seems both men and women believe the expression “red-y for anything”. Source: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
THE LOOK OF LOVE How do you know if someone wants a deep romantic relationship with you or if they are just after your body? In this study, researchers had subjects examine photos of young, adult heterosexual couples interacting with each other. Subjects were asked to quickly decide whether the people in the photos elicited thoughts of sexual desire or romantic love. The researchers tracked the eye movements of the subjects when they made
their assessments. When the images evoked feelings of romantic love the subjects tended to focus on the faces of the photos, but when the image evoked feelings of lust and sexual desire the eyes moved to the rest of the body. If you find yourself having to say, “Hello, I’m up here; I have eyes,” then you have a fair idea that the thoughts of your intended are not drifting too far further than the next few hours. Source: Psychological Science
IS ANYTHING BETTER THAN NOTHING? In a new study, researchers asked people to work Harvard researchers in the US simply asked people to sit, alone, in together in teams to generate a recruitment video. an unexciting room without smartphones, other devices or writing Some teams were put into rooms with a table or reading materials for up to 15 minutes. Most reported they did not surrounded by chairs while others were put into rooms enjoy the experience and found it diﬃcult to do. To take that contained only a table. As they worked, research things a step further, in another study, participants assistants watched them to rate how well they DID YOU KNOW? were given the same circumstances with the worked together and then rated the quality of added option of also administering a mild CLOSE FRIENDS the videos produced. The researchers also electric shock to themselves by pressing Genetic analysis has shown that measured arousal of individuals by using a button. All these participants had friends share about 1 per cent of sensors around the wrist to measure received a sample of the shock and their genes. This may not sound a lot skin conductivity, an accepted indicator reported that they would pay to avoid but, in genetic terms, sharing 1 per cent of physiological arousal. People who being shocked again. A surprising of your genes is equivalent to being fourth were standing were more aroused 66 per cent of men in the study gave cousins or sharing the same greatand less protective of their ideas, themselves at least one electric shock great-great grandparent. It seems there leading to more information sharing during the 15-minute “thinking” period. are some powerful, unconscious, and higher-quality output as a result. By comparison, 25 per cent of females genetic forces driving your So why not give up your comfy seats shocked themselves. It seems humans will friendship choices. and stand during your next meeting; do almost anything to avoid doing nothing. Source: Proceedings of after all, you have to stand for something. Source: Science the National Academy Source: Social, Psychological of Sciences and Personality Science 10 | WELLBEING.COM.AU
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All the latest in environmental issues PICKIN’ UP BAD VIBRATIONS Researchers placed butterfly caterpillars on the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana. They then measured and recorded the vibrations the caterpillars made when they chewed the leaves of the plant. Once they had laser recordings of caterpillar activity, they played them to one set of plants while another set was exposed to only silence. They found that the plants exposed to the sounds of caterpillars produced more mustard oils, which are a defence mechanism against predators. Also, the plants did not produce more mustard oil in response to vibrations from gentle wind or other insect sounds, even though these shared some frequencies in common with the caterpillar vibrations. It seems that plants very precisely recognise the vibrations made by predators and produce defensive chemicals as a result. This could have implications for agriculture and mean that playing predator sounds could be an environmentally more sustainable alternative to using pesticide, for example. Source: Oecologia
This study involved people who lived in Jiangsu Province, China, around 80km north of the heavily industrialised and polluted region of Shanghai. The people involved range in age from 21 to 65 and all gave urine and blood samples during the trial to assess their levels of air pollutants. The study participants were split into two groups. One group was given a drink to have daily that consisted of sterilised water and pineapple and lime juice. The other group was given the same drink but with freeze-dried broccoli sprout powder added. Using blood and urine measures as a guide, results showed that, in the group given broccoli, excretion rates of the lung carcinogen benzene increased by 61 per cent on day one and the reduction was maintained through the 12 weeks of the study. As well, excretion of the respiratory irritant acrolein was increased by 23 per cent. Source: Cancer Prevention Research
ATLANTIC WARMING LIFTS PACIFIC WINDS Researchers from the University of New South Wales and the University of Hawaii have found that the rapid warming of the Atlantic Ocean basin has created a pressure difference between the Atlantic and Pacific, causing the Pacific equatorial trade winds to intensify. In fact, the Pacific equatorial trade winds are now the strongest recorded since the 1860s. The boosted trade winds are thought to have worsened the Californian drought and accelerated the rise in sea levels in the Western Pacific by a factor of three. The intensified trade winds are trapping heat from the air in the ocean, slowing the warming of global surface temperature. This pressure difference between the Atlantic and Pacific basins isn’t expected to last and, when it does end, a sudden acceleration of average temperature around the globe would likely occur. The sort of thing that could end it would be a prolonged El Niño event. Source: Nature Climate Change
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THE ORGANIC DIFFERENCE Although organic food makes logical sense, there are occasional detractors. Now, in a new analysis, researchers looked at data from 343 studies that compared the compositional diﬀerences between organic and conventionally grown crops. The researchers say that, compared to the two major earlier studies that found only weak and insigniﬁcant diﬀerences between organic and conventional crops, the new research was able to draw on a much larger and higher-quality set of studies. The analysis found that in organic crops the concentrations of antioxidant phenols was between 18 and 69 per cent higher than in conventional crops. Organic crops also had an average 48 per cent less of the toxic metal cadmium. Pesticide residues were also four times less likely to be found on organic foods. The clear conclusion from this is that there are signiﬁcant and beneﬁcial compositional diﬀerences between organic and conventionally grown food. Source: British Journal of Nutrition
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L-glutamine: for wellbeing Although not considered an “essential” amino acid, L-glutamine is vital to overall wellbeing. WORDS / DR KAREN BRIDGMAN
USES Rapidly dividing cells L-glutamine is utilised as a source of energy by all rapidly dividing cells. Supporting muscle mass/athletes L-glutamine is “muscle food”, helping to replenish muscle glycogen after exercise and, by building proteins, to repair injury and rebuild muscle. Part of this action may be due to its ability to induce the release of growth hormone. Without sufficient L-glutamine, muscles begin to atrophy. Taking 2–3g after a workout can be useful for fitness addicts. Integrity of gut mucosa L-glutamine is the chief source of energy for the cells of the intestinal lining maintaining its structural integrity. It is vital for the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract and is therefore useful for the prevention and repair of gastric inflammation and gastric ulcers. It’s also useful for inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, food allergies or any intestinal inflammation. It’s these conditions that lead to leaky gut syndrome. Along the same lines, L-glutamine can undo the damage caused
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by anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and NSAIDs, maintaining gut wall permeability at a healthy level. Kidney function L-glutamine is deemed key for maintaining the renal tubules, thus contributing to the healthy function of the kidneys. Immune system As a fuel for rapidly dividing cells, L-glutamine is critical to the correct function of the immune system, especially in the rapid production of white blood cells during an infection. Strenuous exercise, viral and bacterial infections, and stress and trauma cause glutamine depletion that starves immune cells. L-glutamine has been used therapeutically to protect against the toxic effects of methotrexate and other chemotherapy drugs, for which it is reported to improve recovery, reduce infections and minimise complications. Antioxidant & liver protection Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant compound synthetised in the body that helps protect us from chronic illness and environmental chemical exposure. L-glutamine is a component of this antioxidant as it provides glutamate for its production. Glutathione deficiency tends to equate to lowered L-glutamine. The critical organ for glutathione synthesis is the liver, although it can be synthetised in all cells. In the liver, L-glutamine assists in the removal of waste products of fat metabolism, preventing fatty build-up. However, in advanced liver disease, it cannot be metabolised correctly and is not as useful. Central nervous system & brain The synthesis of glutamine from glutamate is the key pathway for detoxifying ammonia and therefore protects the brain (and body) from ammonia toxicity. In the brain, L-glutamine is a substrate for the
synthesis of both excitatory (glutamate) and inhibitory (gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA) neurotransmitters. It therefore is intimately involved in many critical activities and is an important source of energy for the nervous system. If the brain is not receiving enough glucose, it compensates by increasing glutamine metabolism for energy. L-glutamine users often report more energy, less fatigue and better mood. Cardiovascular system L-glutamine is an important fuel source for the heart muscle. Blood sugar control Glutamine is also important for blood sugar control. It helps prevent hypoglycaemia as it is easily converted to glucose when blood sugar is low and is a component of the “glucose tolerance factor” that helps insulin carry glucose to the cells for energy.
DOSAGE A typical diet provides 3.5–7g of glutamine, but more is synthesised according to need. Despite this, severe stress such as strenuous exercise, infectious disease, surgery, burns, injury or other acute trauma can lead to glutamine depletion. About 25–30g is required daily for an adult who has low muscle mass, or 20g/day to restore healthy gut lining. L-glutamine is efficiently absorbed in the small intestine and blood levels reach a peak within an hour after ingestion; 3–10g/day should be enough for a healthy person. This would be easily obtained from reasonable protein levels in the diet. Endurance athletes may need a higher dose after extended exercise. The main nutrients required to ensure the correct metabolic functioning of L-glutamine are B6, folic acid, zinc, magnesium and manganese.
CAUTIONS A reaction to MSG does not happen with L-glutamine but more with glutamate, its sister nutrient. Excessive supplementation of L-glutamine can trigger hypoglycaemia and this can be severe. It can also cause imbalances in other amino acids. If supplementing, take responsibly. References available on request. Dr Karen Bridgman is a holistic Practitioner at Australian Biologics, Sydney, and Pymble Grove Health Centre, Gordon.
mino acids (the basic building blocks of protein) are defined, in part, by the presence of a nitrogen (amine) group and an acidic group attached to a carbon molecule. As an amino acid, L-glutamine is unique in that it contains two nitrogen groups. Circulating glutamine (and its nitrogen) provides metabolic fuel to many of your organs. An amino acid is considered “essential” if it cannot be made in the body in sufficient quantities to maintain health and must be consumed in food. L-glutamine is critical for human health but is only deemed essential in times of illness and injury and with excessive stress, when levels are significantly depleted. This is despite the fact that L-glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body, serum (blood), muscles and cerebrospinal fluid. The main storage sites of L-glutamine are muscles, so people with greater muscle mass may have a better ability to withstand and recover from stressful events because of the higher levels.
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FUNCTIONAL FOOD ORANGES
Oranges: more than vitamin C Orange fruit not only provides a variety of nutrients, but the skin, oils and seeds are also used medicinally. WORDS / DR KAREN BRIDGMAN
Other uses The fruit of the orange has been shown to be cooling, digestive and carminative (relieves wind), and has tonic properties. It was traditionally used in asthma, to reduce vomiting, to purify the blood, for coughs, fevers, thirst, hiccoughs and for indigestion.
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS The orange fruit contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds such as flavonoids, phenolics and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The flavonoids are tangeretin, nobiletin, diosmin and hesperetin. Red (blood) oranges have much higher levels of the anti-inflammatory anthrocyanidins. Orange peel contains flavonoids and phenolic compounds. These compounds in bitter orange peel show choleretic, antiinflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal activity. The essential oils comprise phenolic compounds such as terpenes. D-limonene is a major active constituent.
THERAPEUTIC USES Anaemia & nutrient source By increasing iron absorption from foods, oranges and orange juice have been shown to reduce anaemia. Oranges are also a reasonable source of absorbable folic acid. Cardiovascular health Population studies have shown a strong link between diets high in vegies and fruit and improved cardiovascular health. One experiment tested 24 adults with both high cholesterol and high triglycerides (both risk factors for heart disease) and they were given 2½ cups of freshly squeezed orange juice to drink daily for 90 days. The results showed a significant improvement in plasma antioxidants and the oxidation of the lipids (fats) decreased significantly. Regular consumption of orange juice raised HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
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ORANGE SEGMENTS Fruit The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of oranges help prevent chronic illness and regular intake reduces neurotoxicity. In mice, the antioxidant effects reduced neurodegenerative changes of the Alzheimer’s type. Drinking the juice of red (blood) oranges every day for seven days improved endothelial (arterial wall) function, lowering the risk for atherosclerosis and heart disease in 19 human subjects. This effect was attributed to the fruit’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Orange peel extract Dried sweet orange peel and dried ripe (and unripe) Seville (bitter) orange are ancient Chinese remedies for indigestion (the primary indication is to relieve heartburn), stubborn coughs and anal and uterine prolapses, also for treating shock in higher doses. Orange peel extract improves circulation of blood through the heart and cerebral tissue. The dried peel of the common orange (Citrus sinensis) was shown to reduce thyroid overactivity, lower blood glucose and stimulate insulin as well as reducing lipid (fat) peroxidation, indicating a potential for use in hyperthyroidism and diabetes. Orange peel is a rich source of flavonoids, compounds that are associated with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour activities.
Essential oils Orange oil has been shown to be strongly antimicrobial compared to several antibiotics. It appears to be more effective than lemon oil as an antibacterial and antifungal. Limonene is the main antimicrobial active ingredient. These antimicrobial properties can also be useful in food preservation. D-limonene exhibits anti-stress activity (by inducing the release of the hormone dopamine) and anti-inflammatory effects when taken as a dietary supplement. The aroma of sweet orange oil has a marked anti-anxiety effect in human subjects. Oils from other varieties include neroli oil from Seville orange flowers, and pettigrain oil from its leaves. Bergamot orange oil is a major component of the famous eau de cologne. Other uses Orange flower water is a by-product of neroli oil manufacture. It relieves colic in babies and is also used in desserts. The Bergamot oil flavours Earl Grey tea, is calming and relieves headaches.
USING ORANGES Eat the fruit as a food or drink the freshly squeezed juice. As with all fruit, it’s better not to consume large quantities, especially of the juice, because of the high sugar content. Commercial juices have lower vitamin C content. The whole fruit is best as it still contains the fibre component. For cooking, Seville oranges are considered the best for marmalade and the essential oils extracted from the unripe fruits are the key flavour in Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Triple Sec and Curacao. Dried peel. Tea: 4–6g a day of cut peel for teas. Infusion: 2g in 150mL boiled water, three times daily. Oil. As a dietary supplement, the oil can be used in a low dosage of 2–3 drops a day. As aromatherapy, it can be used topically or inhaled as a vapour. The fruit is generally considered safe and no side-effects have been observed. Migraine sufferers can be sensitive to oranges and, if so, should avoid them. References available on request. Dr Karen Bridgman is a holistic practitioner at Australian Biologics, Sydney, and Pymble Grove Health Centre, Gordon.
itrus sinensis is the common orange we eat, but there are many other varieties such as the Seville orange or bitter orange (Citrus aurantium) and Bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia). All are trees with white fragrant flowers and spherical orange fruits, and by and large they all originated in Southeast Asia. The medicinal uses of Citrus aurantium were first recorded in Chinese medical literature dating back to 200 CE. It’s thought that all oranges were brought to Europe in the 12th century by Portuguese sailors and first cultivated in Italy. The orange tree genus, native to eastern Africa, Arabia and Syria, was cultivated in India and in Europe by 1200 CE.
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GAIA RETREAT & SPA
Soothing the soul in comfort When you need time out but can’t decide between a beautiful resort and a soulsoothing health retreat, Gaia in the Byron hinterland of northern NSW can be both. WORDS / KERRY BOYNE
he best place to gather the really important info at a health retreat is at the communal dining table. Even if you feel, for whatever reason, that you might rather keep a low profile at one of the smaller tables, joining fellow guests at the big table is both a social and an educational experience. One of the things I learn at the round table in Gaia’s Balinese-style dining and lounging pavilion is that we all want something a little different from our retreat experience — and we’ve been inspired by different reasons to come here. One fit young man was searching for a mountain biking place but something drew him to Gaia. A busy mum was given her Gaia experience — her first time at a health retreat — as a birthday present from her husband. Two bubbly sisters who have been to Gaia before join the table, as does a group of four friends who’ve left partners and children at home to have a pampering girls’ weekend away. Several of us are more experienced retreat goers and Gaia, with its spectacular setting, is a handsdown favourite. There is some discussion of the different places we’ve visited. The general consensus is we all love the flexibility here: you can participate in everything or lie low reading and relaxing. It can be an indulgent pampering experience or an action-packed interlude of yoga, circuit training, walking, swimming etc; or simply a healing time in a magical environment. The food is a major drawcard, too. New to Gaia’s 25 picturesque rolling acres are the three Komala villas, where I have the honour of being the first guest. These are the high end of Gaia’s range of accommodation. My villa is tastefully designed and expansive with high ceilings and a spacious bedroom that opens to the lounge room. The bedroom is flanked by two bathrooms — one with two rainhead showers, the other with a deep oval tub. I also have my own private deck with sun lounges and gorgeous views over the Byron hinterland. Beside it is an infinity saltwater plunge pool and there’s a tiny private courtyard at the rear of the
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Gaia’s high-end Komala villas.
villa, behind the covered cabana with its huge daybed. There are also all the entertainment devices I could want. It crosses my mind that with all this plush comfort and blissful serenity, even partners or friends who aren’t as interested in spa treatments and activities would love this resort aspect of Gaia, especially with the delicious meals that originate in large part from Gaia’s own organic vegie garden and orchard but include chicken and fish options at dinner. Being able to enjoy a glass of organic wine or cup of coffee is a bonus, too. Back at the dining table we discuss the treatments we have planned or have already had, getting informal reviews from one another. Gaia’s day spa offers an extraordinary range of treatments by healers and practitioners who seem to have skills well above the usual. That’s not surprising given that the region is an epicentre of complementary medicine and New Age lifestyles. They surely have their pick — the best of the best.
For my first treatment I’ve booked a deep tissue massage but my therapist Kita, after asking me what I want from the session, senses I might need something a little gentler than the intensive kneading, stretching and “unknotting” of the deep tissue style, so she mixes it up with some sweeping, rhythmic kahuna work. It’s a beautifully balanced blend of techniques and the blissful result is I feel looser and more relaxed than I have in a long time, ready to enjoy the rest of my stay. The day before I leave, a fellow guest tells me about her enlightening medical intuitive reading with one of the other healers. Suddenly, I really want to see her as well, but I’ve left it too late. No matter, it’s just one more reason to come back. Next time, though, it will be with my partner, who’s not normally one to opt for a health retreat. But with its flexibility and glorious setting, Gaia can be whatever we want it to be. For more information, you can visit gaiaretreat.com.au.
HOLISTIC JOURNEY ECO BIRD
Little birdie Danielle Smith, the 24-year-old founder of Australian online eco-fashion store Eco Bird, offers an ethical alternative to fashion as usual. Tell us a bit about your background. Nature has always been something I’ve cared about; nothing makes me feel happier, more alive and more grateful than to be out exploring the world. I have always known that whatever I was going to do in life it was going to be something that had a gentle impact on the planet, and that I would help protect it in some way. My plan after high school was to work in the sustainable fashion industry. I went to fashion college to study a diploma of business and came out two years later with a business plan for Eco Bird and a heart full of passion.
liked. I wanted to connect everyone to the designers and brands to make it easier and more accessible. I was lucky enough to find Bachhara, Monolog and Kowtow to help me start up in the first year and, once Eco Bird was online, designers started to find me! Fashion made fairly and ethically is a basic criterion for an Eco Bird designer, but I look for designers who have gone out of their way — and beyond — to create beautiful clothing with as little impact on the environment as possible.
something that is growing slowly but steadily. Many of us already eat organic, locally grown foods where possible, use organic beauty and household cleaning products ... I feel like our clothing is the next natural step towards a sustainable, Earth-loving future. And, hopefully, Eco Bird can help bring the eco-fashion industry a step closer to people.
What inspired you to start Eco Bird? I spent the whole time at college putting an eco spin on things. Every assignment I handed in was from an ecological perspective. As I came to the end of my diploma, I had no idea about how or where I could work within the ecofashion industry. Finally, I had my major assessment left to do, which was to create your own fashion business, and of course mine was going to be an eco-friendly one. I thought about where the gaps were in the eco-fashion industry and what it needed to give it a push in the right direction, and came up with Eco Bird. I felt there were already plenty of amazing designers and brands creating sustainable fashion — they just needed to be more accessible and easy to find. After a week of researching the assessment idea, I knew I was going to turn Eco Bird into a real thing. One long month later, and just after I turned 21, I handed in my assessment and started to turn my idea into a business.
Could you describe the kind of items you stock? Eco Bird stocks a range of women’s clothing, mostly daywear, made from organic cotton and bamboo. Most of the organic cotton is certified Fairtrade and the dyes are eco-friendly. I mainly stock Australian and New Zealand designers now, but this summer I’m introducing a few more from overseas, which is exciting. I try to select pieces that I know will be versatile for people to wear and I try to go for styles that are unique. Most of the designers have limited-edition prints and small runs in styles, which add to the specialness of the garments.
How has it been received in the marketplace? Really well! I have some of the most beautiful customers who have been so supportive toward Eco Bird. It feels like with each month more people are on the hunt for sustainable and ethically made fashion and that it’s
How do you find sustainable and ethical labels and designers? To begin with it was really difficult, which was why I started Eco Bird. The idea for an online store came about from my own shopping experiences: I was surprised at how hard it was to find sustainable styles I
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What’s your vision for the broader fashion industry? It’s simply that people slow down and connect with what they are wearing — and doing. Buy something because you love the story it tells you. Keep it for as long as it will last; wear it as if it’s an old friend. It takes an awful lot of effort, resources and hardworking people to create our clothing; we should be grateful for it. People can tend to see fashion as something that is superficial but it has the amazing potential to create positive change. Describe your day-to-day life. Running an online business leaves me pretty flexible, so my weeks and days are always different. If I need time to myself, I’ll head off to the ocean and then head straight back to work all refreshed, awake and inspired. I think doing things that make you feel alive and inspired is important when running your own business. I also spend a few days a week working part-time for another business. As I started Eco Bird straight out of college, I never really had any industry experience, so working for another company has taught me a lot about myself, the eco industry and how to develop and grow a company. Where to next for Eco Bird? The next chapter for Eco Bird will be all about growing and learning. Since starting Eco Bird there has been a million challenges, opportunities and learning curves that have made this path so interesting, perfect and unpredictable ... I love it! My next goal is to broaden the product range and then, hopefully, create our very own bricks-and-mortar storefront. W: ecobird.net
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ART FOR ART’S SAKE APRIL WHITE
WellBeing gives space to the creative souls in our community
Isle of Life 40×50cm Are you an amateur artist and would you like to see your art appear on this page? Email a high-resolution colour copy of an unpublished artwork to wbletters@ universalmagazines.com. au or post it to WellBeing, Locked Bag 154, North Ryde, NSW 1670.
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W: artofaprilwhite.com Isle of Life is an exploration of life, death and culture with a contemporary edge. The ﬁgures in this piece occupy a unique place in between the complex, mysterious layers of human existence. Expressing my thoughts and ideas through pictures and creating a discussion around these topics is helpful as I process life and all its mystery. People bring their own perspectives to the scenes in my artwork, and the discussion evolves. After completing a ﬁne arts degree specialising in drawing at York University in Toronto, Canada, I spent 10 years reﬁning my skills and observing people, cultures and the human experience on extensive travels across Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia. I am now a fulltime artist based in Sydney. I’ve experimented with a variety of mediums throughout my art practice and continue to do so. To create this work, I have used pictures from my own photo collection mixed with images of my own paintings and drawings. The ﬁnished work is printed and mounted using an acrylic mounting technique. April has an exhibition from November 3–16 at Bondi Pavilion Gallery, Bondi Beach, Sydney.
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Journeying beyond bounds Adventurer Tim Cope crossed the steppes of Eurasia with his dog Tigon, three horses and the help of many kind nomads. Along the way, he learnt lessons we could all use. WORDS / CLAIRE DUNN PHOTOGRAPHY / TIM COPE
rying to pin down awardwinning Aussie adventurer, author, filmmaker and motivational speaker Tim Cope is akin to catching a falling leaf. Sitting cross-legged in a city park enjoying friendly licks from his dog Tigon, we have barely begun our first interview before he is summoned to talk to an audience of hundreds at the Happiness & Its Causes conference in Sydney. Afterward I wait for the booksigning queue to diminish but, like a magic pudding, it grows longer instead. When I do finally catch him on the phone some time later, an hour after our scheduled appointment, he is apologetic. His regular three-hour walk up a forested mountain near his
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home in Victoria’s Kiewa Valley usually doubles as his phone appointment time but rain had caught him unawares. Perhaps in proof, Cope texts a photo of the forest minutes before the storm rolled in, mist swirling through the snow gums like spirits, Tigon’s large black frame an inkblot in the foreground. It’s worth the wait. Despite being on the tail end of a whirlwind global speaking tour to promote On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads, the book Cope wrote about his three-year horseback expedition through Asia, he speaks with the freshness of one recently returned and eager to share the stories. “Head west and when the people start speaking French you’ve gone too far,” he
laughs in memory of one of the initial directional markers he was given. While true, it’s a statement that barely hints at the sheer distance and mountain-high challenges Cope faced in undertaking his modern-day pilgrimage. Inspired by the extraordinary life of the nomads of the Eurasian steppe, it was in 2004 that Cope set out on a journey tracing the tracks of Genghis Khan and his tribe of Mongols as they created the largest contiguous land empire in history in the 13th century. To achieve this he travelled on horseback across the entire length of the steppe, from Karakorum, the ancient capital of Mongolia, through Kazakhstan, Russia, Crimea and the Ukraine to the Danube River in Hungary. Designed to take 18 months, the journey took over three years — and more blood, sweat and tears than Cope imagined possible. While a book of his adventures was always planned, it sounds as if Cope had little inkling how deeply the story would capture the imaginations of audiences worldwide. As well as winning the Banff Mountain Book Festival Grand Prize
THINKERS & DOERS TIM COPE Steppe by step: When Cope set out on his epic journey, he couldn’t ride a horse.
Tim Cope slowly came to accept the hospitality of the nomads.
for his Bloomsbury-published tome, Cope and his nomadic wanderings were also the subject of an award-winning documentary series titled The Trail of Genghis Khan which he produced for ARTE in Europe and the ABC. His speaking tour has taken him to all four corners of the globe with crowds turning up to hear and see firsthand his tales of adventure, discovery and survival and how they’ve shaped his philosophy to life.
ON THE TRAIL The media storm is a far cry from Cope’s isolated days on the steppe with nothing but Tigon, his three horses and the vast horizon for company. Perhaps because of this juxtaposition, the motivation that propelled him out there is still palpable: “I just really wanted to pare life back to its essentials; to explore and discover; to steep myself in the spirit of the nomadic way of life.” Like many big dreams and unlikely heroes, Cope’s journey starts with an almost comical obstacle. “When I arrived in Mongolia the only problem was I couldn’t ride a horse. I was petrified.”
S db t i d C ff Scared butt d determined, Cope sett off with his then girlfriend Kathrin, who rode with him for the initial weeks. Her company was a welcome comfort after the humbling he received days into the adventure: “In the middle of the night on day five my horses disappeared.” The bell he had been recommended to hang around the horses’ necks in order to help locate them was also the marker that led horse thieves directly to them. Finding them the next morning in the possession of a local nomad, Cope looks back in hindsight at the valuable lesson he was given. “Rather than staying with the local people we had been camping alone. The nomad told me, ‘A man on the steppe is as narrow as a finger, and a man on the steppe with friends is as wide as the steppe.’ It was a wakeup call to break out of my dream world and start learning the customs of the land and its people. Cope chuckles, “He also told me that if people are trying to steal your horse on the steppe then it’s a compliment. And if they can do it then they’re better than you and deserve the horse.”
While it wouldn’t be his last encounter with horse thieves, Cope started accepting the hospitality of the nomadic people, bedding down inside their woollen yurts at night, drinking the soured milk from their camels and goats and listening to their stories. From horse-riding novice to spending months in the saddle, Cope learnt to fend off wolves and would-be horse thieves, temperatures ranging from -50 to +54 degrees Celsius and a constant struggle to find grass and water for his caravan. In the searing summer he travelled only at night with the addition of a camel, while in winter he struggled to travel in the few daylight hours when the temperature rose marginally. At one stage he was stuck in no-man’s-land between Kazakhstan and Russia in a bureaucratic battle that eventually lasted almost six weeks. A mix of diplomacy and perseverance helped him through this and over many other hurdles and as a result Cope’s caravan still included two horses that struggled and pulled Cope through from the distant Altai. It was Kazakhstan that truly put Cope to the test: “Kazakhstan had borne the brunt of industrialisation. In the aftermath of the Soviet collapse, they had neither their traditional systems nor the Soviet system to fall back on and it was very messy.” It was here that he was given Tigon, the puppy he thought wouldn’t survive more than a couple of weeks but ended up being the sidekick he couldn’t have done without, especially when crossing the “starving steppe”. “Two days before Christmas, my tent was falling apart, the GPS was malfunctioning under the extreme low temperatures and I was worried. I limped into the most depressing town imaginable and found shelter with two alcoholics.” Cooking up pigeons for dinner, Cope remembers calling home and wishing for an exit but there wasn’t one. He was forced to wait out the cold snap for over three months in the village. “If you ever have to rush in life, rush slowly,” Cope says, reciting an old Kazakh saying. “It’s a completely different way of life. Time is known more from the rise and fall of the sun and movement of the seasons.” In the end it was people who came to his rescue, his journey saved once again by the hospitality of a generous villager who nursed him and his horses through the winter. “Mountains never meet but people do,” says Cope, remembering another
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Cope with his dog Tigon, who he never expected would survive the journey.
piece of wisdom imparted to him by one of the more than 160 families who invited him into their homes. “It’s definitely something I came to learn during my trip — that it’s our relationships in life that matter most of all.”
AN ADVENTURER IS BORN It was Cope’s relationship with the natural world, and his father, that sparked his passion at a young age for adventure in the outdoors. “Growing up in a rural environment, I’d be walking along the track and spellbound by these huge grey gums. I’d keep check on every tree and where it was at. Our cousins lived in Melbourne and I couldn’t understand what they did all day in a tiny yard,” he recalls. “My father was an outdoor educator and would take us kayaking, skiing and surfing. I remember looking out onto Bass Strait and imagining myself being this little tiny speck. I was terrified but it gripped me and I couldn’t shake thinking about it.” A school trip to Nepal at the age of 16 ignited Cope’s fascination with traditional cultures. “I could watch people all day,” he recalls. “The stark difference in lifestyle suddenly opened up that part of my mind to possibilities and made me realise how many different approaches there are to life.” Leaving school, he travelled extensively through Eastern Europe — including a journey across the former Yugoslavia from Bulgaria — and spent his 19th birthday in Sarajevo. In 1999, Cope returned to Australia to take up his Arts/Law degree at ANU in Canberra, a move he says felt “like death”. “The first thing the lecturer said was, ‘The beginning of law and history marks the beginning of civilisation.’ I knew I was in the wrong place. The further from civilisation I got the more alive I felt. “The life mapped out for us is so rigid and fenced in. I’ve always had a feeling
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“Mountains never meet but people do. It’s deﬁnitely something I came to learn during my trip — that it’s our relationships in life that matter most of all.” that I don’t want to be a product of this society. I want to create something authentic and have ownership over my own life.” Dropping out of university, Cope left to study wilderness guiding in Finland and made expeditions into the Arctic and forest regions of Russia. Russia represented the chance to explore a land of unparalleled wilderness and mystique, a place so unknown to him in Australia that it had been like a myth. The people also intrigued him. Their openness, spontaneous energy and friendliness inspired him to begin learning the language. In late 1999, he embarked on a cycling adventure across Russia to Beijing with a friend, a trip that planted the seed to return to the steppe on more traditional transport: horseback.
LESSONS FROM THE STEPPE Although he travelled mostly alone, the message Cope returned with is about the need for communities to preserve traditional ways of living. “What struck me is the role that traditional knowledge and culture can play in bridging that gap between understanding the ecology and environment and the great danger when a culture modernises quickly, like what is happening now in Mongolia with the mining boom,” he says. “The risk is that they throw the baby out with the bathwater. Traditional knowledge can be lost in the space of a generation or two. The steppe nomads are an incredible example [in] how they’ve managed to live sustainably for generations. My journey was a lot about trying to understand and communicate this relationship nomads have to their environment.”
According to Cope, the biggest lesson he learnt is the value of stepping into someone else’s shoes and opening your worldview to include other ways of living: “It’s incredibly valuable to extend ourselves; to look at the world [through] another culture’s eyes in order to help us understand and tackle the problems and flaws of our own society. “Unless you’ve experienced being in a world where people live in harmony with their environment and acknowledge that they are part of greater web of life, it’s hard to imagine it.” While a valuable lesson to impart on his return, it is perhaps Cope himself who offers the greatest inspiration to his readers: the courage and determination to undertake a journey of such magnitude in a world increasingly risk-averse and controlled. Like the boundless steppe he traversed step by step, Cope offers an example of a life unbounded by the normal rules; a model of what it means to be an explorer and pioneer in the 21st century. “People often say everything has been explored — but how many languages do you speak? What do you know about what life is in Central Asia? The world is still a big place and distance hasn’t been erased over time. “An adventure can open up a unique path into the fabric of a country; its people, culture and landscapes. It is a way of being open, intimate and embracing the unknown and unexpected. When you start doing that, the world opens up to you and anything is possible.” Claire Dunn is the author of My Year Without Matches: Escaping the City in Search of the Wild, available in bookshops and online.
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SPIRIT ASTROLOGY 2015
hree key planets — Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus — will activate the trio of fire signs in 2015. It’s a year that will light you up, inspire you and dare you to act on your passions. As one of four ancient elements, fire has been discussed since antiquity. Each element was believed to have a direction: Nicholas Campion writes in The Dawn of Astrology that fire went up “because its natural function is to return to heaven”. Plato associated fire with the gods and linked it to the tetrahedron, or pyramid, a structure that points to the sky. Fire is aspirational. It asks you to set your sights high. This act of raising your intentions naturally leads to improvement. As you “rise up” you become closer to the divine and closer to the best version of yourself.
and encourages self-expression. The Greeks associated fire with the Apollonian expression of energy. Apollonian elements, like fire, consciously and proactively create. In Astrology, Psychology and the Four Elements, Stephen Arroyo describes fire signs as constantly “getting it out, pouring forth their energies and life substance unreservedly”. Fire, he writes, “flows spontaneously in an inspired, self-motivated way”. Collectively, fire signs typify high spirits, have great faith in themselves and are full of enthusiasm. They have endless strength and are direct and honest. Arroyo describes the negative traits of fire as including a “lack of self-control and sensitivity to others” and being “wilful or even overpowering at times”.
HOT & DRY YANG ELEMENTS Fire is one of two yang elements, the other being air. Yang is active
Fire combines qualities of both heat and dryness. Heat or hot is an active principle, which makes it capable
of creating change. According to astrologer Rob Hand, it “increases the energy level of a system”. Heat encourages movement, action and bold choices. Heat initiates. Contrast this with the emphasis on the water element from 2012 to 2014, when there were three planets — Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune — in the trio of water signs. Water is cool and stagnant, and it settles. Water prefers being still to being in motion. This period may have had an introspective quality, a focus on home or family, or required an emphasis on your inner life. The dry qualities of heat can encourage healthy separateness and space. Dryness prefers not to be enmeshed and to have room to move. If your closest relationships with friends, family or your partner have become too connected for your liking, the dry energy of this fire emphasis can help you create functional distance and organise the space you need to refocus on a personal vision.
THE FI RE OF 2015 Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus activate the three fire signs in 2015, creating a year that will inspire you, build up your confidence and ask you to follow your authentic path. WORDS / KELLY SURTEES
SPIRIT ASTROLOGY 2015
As fire takes hold of the cosmos, 2015 is a year to move, to decide and to take action, especially on topics or around life themes that have been stagnant, stuck or in a holding pattern. The most fiery part of 2015 is the first half of the year, when all three fire signs are energised. Take advantage of this cosmic passion and plan your most exciting and dynamic adventures before August.
THE BRILLIANCE OF FIRE As the cosmos warms up, like moving relatively quickly from the chills of winter (a water season) to the heat of summer (a fire season), you will feel inspired, determined and motivated to put plans into action. Your spirit is connected to the energy of the cosmos and, as the celestial qualities evolve, so too does your innermost being. In response you may experience the force of fire as you discover the passion required to chase a dream. One gift of fire is confidence, so dreams you’ve long nurtured can now be made manifest. As self-belief increases, you will start to know in your heart all you’re truly capable of. This in turn will inspire you to make those apparently risky but totally right-for-you choices. Even simple things like a phone call, an honest conversation or planting a proverbial seed by starting something new can lead to great growth. As you dare to do, you may be surprised by the support and encouragement you receive and by how much progress inspired effort can create. If you suffer from a lack of fire — that is, you lack joy, faith or a sense of optimism, you have low self-confidence or lack enthusiasm — you may find the fire influences in 2015 especially helpful. With low fire, challenges can seem scary or overwhelming and even small problems may take lots of time or energy to resolve. The promise of the fire of 2015 may warm your spirit so you can more easily tackle what lies before you or shift life in a more inspiring direction. If you have a lot of fire and are always on the go, you will need to take care to avoid burnout or being excessively impulsive. Action is the key to happiness in 2015, but overdoing anything will deplete you. If you recognise these fire traits in yourself, consciously seek to temper your schedule and slow your pace in the year ahead. The inherent drive in the cosmos
will carry us all forward and, for you, less effort than usual may be sufficient.
MARKING TIME Jupiter and Saturn are two of the primary astrological planets that influence the mood of different periods of time. Jupiter spends approximately 12 months in each zodiac sign, while Saturn takes close to three years to move through one sign. When Jupiter and Saturn occupy signs of the same element at the same time, as they do in the first half of 2015, the cosmos sends a clear message about focus, opportunity and possibility.
FIRE SIGNS: ARIES, LEO, SAGITTARIUS Each ﬁre sign oﬀers something unique. Aries represents the initial spark, the ﬁrst ﬂame. The Aries kind of ﬁre is like that of a match striking the box — it is the beginning. Leo represents the solid or stable ﬁre; the ﬁre that burns brightly and steadily, and is contained, like a campground ﬁre, limited to burning within a ﬁre pit, or the ﬁre in a combustion stove. It is ﬁre that endures. Sagittarius represents moving ﬁre, like a bushﬁre ranging across the landscape. This is the adventurous ﬁre that seeks new territory to discover — or conquer. The ﬁre signs are ruled by Mars (Aries), the Sun (Leo) and Jupiter (Sagittarius). Both Mars and the Sun are also ﬁre planets, so the ﬁre — seen as conﬁdence or expressiveness — in Aries and Leo is obvious and striking. These signs are pure ﬁre and depict the human spirit at its most passionate and dynamic. Jupiter is an air planet, which has hot and moist qualities, so Sagittarius is a ﬁre/air blend. Air is the thinking element, so in Sagittarius passion and desire for progress (ﬁre traits) are tempered by knowledge, ideas and insight (air traits).
JUPITER IN LEO: JOY Between July 2014 and August 2015, Jupiter energises Leo. Jupiter has a special affinity with all the fire signs, having triplicity rulership of this element. In Leo, Jupiter adopts a regal quality that can help you channel the energy of a king or queen and set a clear course of action. Your wishes can come true now as you act with integrity by pursuing a path that reflects your truth.
Fire is aspirational. It asks you to set your sights high. This act of raising your intentions naturally leads to improvement. Jupiter is considered a benefic, or blessed planet. Jupiter in Leo will activate the best potential of Leo, opening, according to Arroyo, a “reservoir of vitality” that can inspire you to put your best self forward more of the time. This is a “dramatic, fiery and rather flamboyant” pairing, he writes, and you may surprise yourself with your bold choices, especially in terms of appearance and style. Jupiter in Leo can help you create or enhance “inner faith and confidence” and, as a result, you may discover or develop new talents to share with others. Since Leo is ruled by the Sun, a planet of identity, the expansive qualities of Jupiter can help inspire personal growth, self-expression, leadership and creativity. Jupiter in Leo is a placement that symbolises joy and indicates new happiness is possible.
SATURN IN SAGITTARIUS: ADVENTURE & TRUTH Between December 2014 and December 2017, Saturn energises Sagittarius, the most open-minded and adventurous fire sign. Saturn is associated with earth and has cold and dry qualities. Being in a fire sign helps Saturn “warm up” and can reduce melancholy. Practicalities or problems can’t be ignored, but your attitude towards them will shift. Things that have been a barrier to progress in the past can be dealt with decisively. One gift Saturn in Sagittarius will offer is the ability to see potential. In turn, desire for that potential will inspire great adventure. Saturn’s longer, slower cycle means he visits each sign just once every 30 years. This may be the first time in your adult life (or the second, depending on your age!) that Saturn has adopted the unbounded, anything-is-possible influence of Sagittarius. Sagittarius thrives on new experiences and is the sign of the gypsy, the seeker and the truth teller. Sagittarius operates according to a high standard of ethical behaviour, based on morals to do with truth and integrity. If you have strayed
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SPIRIT ASTROLOGY 2015
URANUS IN ARIES: INDEPENDENCE & FREEDOM Uranus is on an extended visit through independent Aries (2011–2018). Being further out in the solar system than Saturn and Jupiter, Uranus moves more slowly. It takes Uranus approximately 84 years to complete a full circle of the zodiac, so the energy of Uranus in Aries is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The opportunities triggered by Uranus in Aries come from honouring the power of the individual. This is a “go solo” or do-it-your-own-way combination that asks you to play by your own rules. The spirit of the
As ﬁre takes hold of the cosmos, 2015 is a year to move, to decide and to take action, especially on topics or around life themes that have been stagnant, stuck or in a holding pattern. entrepreneur is represented by Uranus in Aries and this may be a fine time to consider self-employment, create your own business or turn a hobby into an income stream. Innovation, invention and experimentation are the calling cards of Uranus and, with Uranus in independent Aries, it’s time to use these skills to enhance your freedom. You may be inspired to make a radical change that will give you the space to be authentic, or the autonomy to prioritise personal passions.
DYNAMIC GROWTH Each planet-and-sign combination offers something unique, but it’s the sheer emphasis of three key planets in fire signs that will help everyone tap into the gifts of fire this year. In addition
to this elemental emphasis, Jupiter and Uranus create a direct aspect, or energetic link, known as a trine. This supportive alignment will form between September 21 and October 1, 2014; February 28 and March 9, 2015; and June 16–27, 2015. This trine pattern brings together the lucky planet, Jupiter, with the planet of invention, Uranus, indicating exciting breakthroughs, unexpected opportunities and happy surprises. Astrologer and academic Richard Tarnas describes the Jupiter Uranus cycle as one of “creativity and expansion”. Life may be chaotic, but you will get a preview of your future and insight into how meaningful life can be. At a simple level, the dynamic and combustible pairing of Jupiter and Uranus in fire signs highlights the potential for dramatic turning points. You may be restless for change or ready to strike out in a new direction. Jupiter’s desire for authenticity will be stimulated by the daring energy of Uranus so that your fear of rules or being different is no longer the barrier to progress it may have been. The flowing, lucky traits of the trine aspect suggest a smooth transition into a more exciting stage of life. The trine brings people and possibilities together with ease and suggests a little effort can take you a long way. Jupiter seeks purpose and fulfilment, while Uranus encourages thinking outside the box. Growth and possibilities are within your power to create and you can do so by making authentic choices rather than safe or conformist decisions. The combination of Jupiter and Uranus is the ultimate “follow your truth” pairing. Prioritise what’s right for you rather than what will make other people happy. Surprises and shocks may be part of this, as goodness and growth lie beyond safe and familiar territory. As the planets adopt more vibrant versions of themselves, you too may be inspired to set your spirit alight and pursue truly heart-warming passions. Courage and confidence are sometimes all you need to follow your truth and 2015 offers plenty of both. May you be inspired to let your divine spirit shine. Kelly Surtees is a writer, astrologer, teacher and editor who loves reading, writing and escaping into the ocean. She travels regularly between Australia and Canada. Visit kellysurtees.com or facebook. com/KellySurteesAstrology, or follow her on Twitter: @keldreamer.
from your personal right path, Saturn in Sagittarius can help you restructure your schedule or reorganise your time so you walk your talk more often.
The last great
ROMANCE In a world where people no longer love and honour their life partners “until death do us part”, friends have become our life witnesses, our truest confidantes and the ones we turn to in times of stress or grief. Is the humble friendship the last relationship standing? WORDS / MARIE ROWLAND
he ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus claimed there were three fundamental tenets for a happy life: freedom, an examined life and friendship. Thousands of years on, his insights seem to resonate more than ever. In a society where one in three people divorce, or couples go through a revolving door of relationships even before they get to “I do”, the humble friendship has remained steadfast. Friendships are the new long-term relationships that outlast romance and marriage. But what is the intrinsic magic that allows you to find and form friendships that can last a lifetime? And does the absence of sex remove all the issues from the relationship equation? Not necessarily. Friendships can be as dynamic as romantic relationships and fraught with many of the same ailments, such as jealousy and competitiveness, but there is a different type of resilience built into their social structures. In a nod to the rise to prominence of pals, even Hollywood has focused on friendships, with myriad versions of buddy/buddette movies hitting the cinemas. On the small screen, friendship franchise television shows such as Friends, Sex And The City and, more recently, Girls have thrived, with many more scenarios including friendships in the workplace also proving ripe for dramatisation, such as in the perennial Murphy Brown. These shows have provided great solace for
viewers who may have disconnected from family or whose romantic lives have flat-lined. We’ve yearned for share houses or weekends away with the girls as a respite from otherwise dull or uninspiring lives. These shows provide comfort as they reiterate the importance of friendship in our daily lives. In unstable times, we need this form of relationship to reflect our own lives back to us. They help us to make sense of the world and, when the world doesn’t make sense, friends help us through.
WHY FRIENDSHIPS MATTER Friends come together from all walks of life, but oftentimes there are circumstances that create these bonds: shared cultural heritage, school networks, work and sport or recreation, geographic proximity and common experiences such as children. For the most part, you don’t actually choose your friends based on a predetermined set of values or conditions — you are usually thrown together and then empathic connections develop. Despite contrived beginnings, in the course of establishing a friendship a range of dynamics occur that are perfectly organic. This is where genuine bonds are formed as you are drawn to some and not to others. A shared sense of humour or values, empathic bonds or simply that feeling of intrinsic connection with the other creates the basis of a heartfelt relationship. There are no words for this feeling of deep empathy — it’s just there. We often use the term “chemistry” when speaking of romantic relationships, but friendships originate in the same way. Why do you connect with this person and not the other, despite shared circumstances? This is the inexplicable chemistry that exists within these bonds and, like lovers, friends have to work hard to maintain the right pH balance.
THE FRIENDSHIP FORMULA As with many things in life that you value, such as your health or home, you have to nurture and tend to your friendships. They cannot be ignored, nor can it be assumed that they will remain robust based on historical goodwill. Like any relationship, they are prone to misunderstanding, neglect or being taken for granted. Friendships are susceptible to falling into patterns that favour one of the
In a society where one in three people divorce, or couples go through a revolving door of relationships even before they get to “I do”, the humble friendship has remained steadfast. participants over the other. One such paradigm is the giver/taker scenario. This “setup” is usually established right from the outset, unbeknown to either party, as the connection seems so strong and so easy at first. This remains so until the perennial listener is in crisis and switches roles, needing to talk or requiring help or advice. The “taker” (who may not even acknowledge that this is the role they’ve stepped into) is not used to giving and therefore fails in providing the nurturing or understanding role. This can cause a rupture in the friendship. It’s important that you are mindful of the roles you assume. Having a deep bond is not enough — you have to take care of and check in with each other. Active listening and watching for behavioural cues means resentment and withdrawal are averted.
FRIENDSHIP FATIGUE What about those friendships where the two parties’ values no longer align? Perhaps, as each person has or has not evolved, even though you may still have a great regard for each other, there is simply no common ground any more. Or it may be that the way you view life is so diametrically opposed that it makes it hard to accept each other without judgement or anxiety. What do you do in this case? Friendships need equal footing. Friendship is the one relationship that can be truly democratic — you can vote to stay or you can leave if the policies in the relationship no longer match your sense of integrity. While sad, friendships can end with respect and love.
sanctuary. This is not an easy task and, like a death, both parties, no matter how injured or hurt, will still grieve. Moreover, as with the breakup of a marriage, there are casualties: shared friends, borrowed books and having to change gyms! So how do you know when it is over and that you need to break a bond that’s no longer sustaining or healthy? Emma and Rebecca were besties through university and navigated the dating world and work together, even sharing an apartment before respectively getting married. Emma, who was the wild child, settled into marriage and kids and metamorphosed into the perfect PTA mum. Rebecca, on the other hand, divorced soon after her second child was born and darted between her job and pickups. While Emma understood the difficulties in her friend’s life, she could not help judging her and moreover felt that Rebecca didn’t quite fit in her world any more. But it was Rebecca who finally put an end to the friendship as she felt their values no longer aligned and that she needed different things from a best friend. It was hard for both parties, but their respective experiences meant their outlooks on life had diverged and neither could find meaningful common ground. It’s easy to judge this above scenario, depending on which side of the fence you fall. But, sometimes, when friendships falter and there is that initial recrimination and hurt, we can resort to all sorts of negative behaviours. Re-evaluating what matters to you, and accepting that life means we all evolve differently and are shaped by our individual experiences, means you have to take responsibility for your life choices. This may result in taking different paths. Interestingly, many counsellors and psychologists say they don’t see many clients dealing with the issue of friendship breakdown, yet this can be just as dramatic as a marriage breakdown or even the loss of someone. There may not be legal documents to sign or a need to move house but the hurt can cut just as deeply. There is grief, regret and residual sadness that remains.
FRIENDSHIP FALLOUT Sometimes it’s OK to simply acknowledge that a friendship has run its course and now is the time to gently withdraw from a relationship that no longer offers sustenance, humour or
FACE-TO-FACE FRIENDSHIPS Press the keyboard, click “Add Friend” and suddenly I’m your friend. The advent of social media has turned the notion of friendship upside down. Now
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Friendships need equal footing. Friendship is the one relationship that can be truly democratic — you can vote to stay or you can leave. touch, mirrored behaviour and a smile can replace words and show that the physical presence of a relationship trumps all online communication.
FRIENDSHIPS FOR HEART’S SAKE Research conducted by the University of California (Los Angeles) in the US showed that friendships are not only of intrinsic importance to us but also inform our sense of wellbeing and affect who we are and how we view the world. Friendships impact on our stress levels in a positive way and allow us to create perspective when under pressure, it found. In fact, the stress hormone cortisol is stabilised when friendship is part of daily interaction. The study also concluded that the “happy” hormone, dopamine, is released when we befriend others. Friendship is demonstrably good for our health. Studies have shown that people who have no friends increase their risk of death over a six-month period. Further, such people are more prone to bouts of sadness or depression. Conversely, those with many friends and with meaningful ties reduce their risk of death by 60 per cent. Harvard Medical School in the US conducted a famous long-running
study on nurses’ health, which concluded that female friends are less likely to develop physical ailments or conditions as they age. A joyful life was found to be directionally proportional to longevity. The flip side to this was that those women without close friends were shown to face health outcomes just as detrimental as smoking or being overweight. There could not be a more compelling argument in favour of tending and nurturing friendships. Even in terms of pure self-interest, friendship is good for your health as it has a healing and restorative effect and may indeed guarantee a longer life.
THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP We now live in a time when a friendship can be the most enduring and meaningful relationship you ever have. Research shows that we seek validation even more than we need happiness to create a meaningful life, so it’s down to our friends to witness the good, bad and ugly of our lives. Rather than busy yourself with distractions, therefore, it might be wise to take some time to prioritise friendship, to forgive former friends and to hold on to those who matter in your life. If it’s true that we are the sum total of our relationships, then let’s make sure we acquire meaningful friendships. They count. Friendship is a gift, not a given. Marie Rowland is a writer and psychotherapist in private practice in Manly on the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia. You can find out more about Marie’s work at talking-matters.com.
Photography Getty Images
we have more access, greater digital face time and the ability to connect at the touch of a key. However, many psychologists and social anthropologists say this in no way replaces a real-time, real-life friendship — one in which the interaction occurs in a physical space. Part of the problem with an online friendship is that it has not occurred organically. Real chemistry and energetic connection have not been established. Research shows it’s a medium laden with pitfalls where friendships are made and lost with a mere mouse click. While it may seem like an easier way to “meet” people and form friendships, many of the rites of passage are skipped over, so these relationships don’t have the same resilience or empathy. The US National Bureau of Economic Research compared the happiness effects of online friends versus real-life friends based on an extensive Canadian survey involving 5000 randomly selected people. It found there was a distinct positive correlation between the wellbeing of someone and the number of real-life friends. This was irrespective of socioeconomic and personality variables. Conversely, online friendships — no matter the number acquired — had no positive bearing on the subjective wellbeing of candidates. Finally, and perhaps most telling, reallife friends were found to be pivotal in creating a sense of happiness for those who were single, divorced, separated or widowed. Those who were partnered, on the other hand, derived meaningful connection at home and therefore did not rely as heavily on friends, either online or otherwise. In cases where old friends have spent real time together and have shared experiences, Facebook is a terrific top-up medium for the relationship. For newer friendships, however, the bond is merely superficial. It is, in effect, friendship on display. So it’s important to be wary of how you manifest and nurture relationships. For those people you meet online, try to create real-life meetings or forums to strengthen the bonds of friendship. This is not to say that online portals are not helpful. Support groups and blogs can be a great way to share a common problem. For people who are incapacitated, this is sometimes the only way for them to avert loneliness and find understanding on hand, literally. If this support can be taken into the real world, things like the power of
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SPIRIT KARMA & LIFE TRANSFORMATION
o you ever wonder, “How did my life end up this way?” Maybe you wish you could move your life in a more positive direction, or do a complete U-turn, leaving unhelpful and harmful circumstances behind you. Now you can. Through the ancient Indian and Buddhist wisdom of karma, you can learn to influence and respond to your life in a way that promotes greater happiness, peace, health and success.
WHAT IS KARMA? Karma is the idea that the decisions you have made, and will make, have consequences that shape and define your life. “Whether you like it or not, everything that is happening at this moment is a result of the choices you’ve made in the past,” says Deepak Chopra in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfilment of Your Dreams. The consequences of your decisions will be positive or negative. This is often referred to as “good karma” or “bad karma”. Your intentions, the choices you make and how you respond to the unfolding events in your life determine your karma and therefore the type of life you will live. In order to enjoy positive karma you must first begin by making wiser decisions.
CHOOSING WISELY Without a crystal ball you can never know what the outcome of your decision will be before you make it. Even though you can’t know with certainty what the “right” decision is, you can learn to make the wisest choice possible at the time, based on the information available. The English philosopher Francis Bacon has been credited with the saying “knowledge is power”, though it was around in various forms and languages long before Bacon’s time. When making decisions, self-knowledge is your most powerful tool. Self-knowledge is the awareness you have about your inner world: your thoughts, feelings, fears, hopes and values. Do you know what makes you happy, anxious, inspired, stressed or energised? When you understand who you are and what you want in life you can begin making decisions that reflect your values and aspirations. How often have you known a decision wasn’t right but you went ahead and made it, anyway? Or maybe you have made decisions based on what you felt you “ought” to do, or what others expected of you? Very rarely do decisions made purely out of fear, pressure or obligation produce a positive outcome or good karma. If you are used to making decisions without considering whether they are in line with your values, it’s time to break that cycle. Joan Oliver Duncan, in her book Good Karma: How to Find It and Keep It, says, “To break the cycle of karma, you have to break the cycle of unskilful behaviour. You can’t keep saying and doing the same things and expect better results. When you see your behaviour clearly you can frame new responses.” How, then, can you better understand yourself so you can frame new responses and begin making wiser decisions? American comedian Eddie Cantor summed it up well: “Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by
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KARMIC PATH Through karma — the ancient notion that the decisions you have made, and will make, can shape your life — you can learn to transform your life by wisely and consciously choosing the path you tread. WORDS / JESSICA STEAD
going fast — you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”
PUTTING ON THE BRAKES To say that life can be busy sometimes is an understatement. The busier life gets, however, the more important it is to slow down. William Shakespeare noted, “Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast.” When you make decisions on the run they are likely to be bad decisions. When faced with a decision, first slow down, bring your awareness into the present moment and then weigh up the possible consequences of your actions. Developing a mindfulness practice, through meditation, yoga or tai chi, will help you take the necessary time out of your day to slow down, develop inner calm and reflect on what is happening in your life and where you are headed. Mindfulness practices switch off the flight-or-fight response of your sympathetic nervous system and activate the restful response of your parasympathetic nervous system. This process
reduces stress levels, which lets you bring your awareness into the here and now and not get caught up in life’s distractions. Within the present moment you can explore your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Through inner exploration, self-knowledge is gained. Once you know how you are feeling, you can begin to gauge how certain decisions may affect you and those around you. With greater self-knowledge you can learn to make decisions that are right for you. Chopra explains, “The best way to understand and maximise the use of karmic law is to become consciously aware of the choices we make in every moment.” To bring consciousness into your decision-making process, he says, you must ask yourself, “What are the consequences of this choice that I’m making?” and “Will this choice that I’m making now bring happiness to me and to those around me?” Making decisions that are likely to enhance your own and others’ happiness is fundamental to making decisions with the right intentions and fundamental to developing positive karma.
“Intention is one of the most significant factors in determining whether or not some contemplated action is likely to produce bad karma. It pays to think ahead,” explains Oliver Duncan. Similarly, when you consider what possible consequences your actions may result in, it allows you to determine if any possible harm may come to you or those around you. Oliver Duncan writes, “Science and spirit agree: we exist in a web of interrelationship ... Our wellbeing depends on courtesy to one another, our survival on global care. Karma turns on respect.” Sometimes it can be hard to determine if a decision is right. Chopra explains that you can use your body to find the answer. “At the moment you consciously make a choice, pay attention to your body and ask yourself, ‘If I make this choice, what happens?’ If your body sends a message of comfort, that’s the right choice. If your body sends a message of discomfort, then it’s not the appropriate choice,” he says. Making decisions with awareness, mindfulness and good intentions increases your chances of making wiser
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SPIRIT KARMA & LIFE TRANSFORMATION decisions and enjoying positive karma in your life. What happens, however, when your decisions produce unfavourable consequences and results? What happens when you begin experiencing the effects of negative karma?
Many people wrongly believe that karma is fatalistic. Everyone has the power to transform negative karma into positive karma by learning from their mistakes. When facing a difficult situation, Chopra suggests asking, “What can I learn from this THE LIFE LESSONS OF KARMA experience?” and “How can I make this experience useful to Your future is determined by the choices you make today. my fellow human beings?” Make wiser choices by connecting with yourself through Within every struggle lies a fragment of hope. “All problems mindfulness activities like yoga and meditation. contain the seeds of opportunity,” explains Chopra. Seeing your Make decisions that will increase your happiness and the struggles as opportunities to learn and grow is vital if you want happiness of those around you. to be an active participant in your life rather than a victim. Look for the positives and lessons that can be learned in all One man who has refused to be a victim of his diﬃcult circumstances. circumstances is triple amputee Giles Duley. A war Life is not determined by what happens to you but by your photographer working with the US in Afghanistan, Duley had response to what happens to you. Choose to respond with hope no idea that on the February 7, 2011, at age 42, his life would and optimism. change forever. Stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) while on foot patrol, Duley lost both his legs and his right arm — and very nearly his life. privileged that you now have the chance to find a job you are Talking at the Chicago Ideas Week in that northern US city, more passionate about? Is it unfair you got sick or is it fortunate he said, “When I became a triple amputee I became part of that you can now see life from a new perspective, knowing what the story. At that time I thought this might be the end and I is truly important to you? Your thoughts determine the type of would have to give up photography. Most people said I probably person you become and how you experience life. wouldn’t walk again and I would need a carer for the rest When faced with difficulties and challenges, take a moment of my life. I have a slightly stubborn trait and I decided that to notice how you are thinking about the issue at hand. wasn’t going to happen.” Are your thoughts negative and selfWhile Duley may have lost limbs, he Negative self-talk is unhealthy didn’t lose his hope or his conviction to Seeing your struggles as defeating? and leads to significant inner distress, continue to photograph those affected by opportunities to learn turmoil and illness. “One thought leads war. After completing his rehabilitation, Duley returned to Afghanistan to and grow is vital if you to another and another until, like putting a match to a woodpile, you’ve ignited a photograph civilian amputees at an want to be an active raging fire,” explains Oliver Duncan. emergency hospital in Kabul. Documenting If you notice your thoughts are mostly their suffering and struggle, he produced participant in your life negative, ask yourself, “Is there a more powerful images that illustrated the rather than a victim. positive and optimistic way to view this devastating impact land mines and situation?” By replacing your negative explosives have on war’s innocent victims. interpretation of your situation with a more positive and Of his new life as an amputee, he says: “I am incredibly lucky. balanced perspective, you free up energy to live your life with I see myself as a better person than I was two years ago. I’m a greater motivation and inspiration. By consciously rejecting a lot stronger, I’m a lot more focused, I’m a lot happier, actually.” negative and closed mindset, you can move forward in life with The quality of your life is not determined by what happens alertness and openness to new and exciting opportunities. to you. The quality of your life is determined by how you “What you think you become,” said Buddha. He explained choose to respond to the circumstances in your life. This is that from your thoughts come your words, from your words the most powerful lesson of karma: you can transform your come your actions, from your actions come your habits and karma and your experience of life by changing how you think from your habits comes your character. To begin to transform and respond to the things that happen to you. any negative karma in your life, start by improving the quality How, then, can you learn to respond in a positive way when of your thoughts and the rest will follow. faced with difficulties? The answer lies in the most important If you desire happiness and peace in your life, start making conversation you will have: the one you have with yourself. decisions with happiness and peace in mind. Begin looking at MIND OVER MATTER your life and consciously choosing to see the learning The conversation you have with yourself — the mental chatter in opportunities in negative situations. When you live according to your head — frames your world view. Do you see yourself as a the wisdom of karma you can live with confidence, knowing you victim or a survivor? Do you believe you’re unlucky or blessed? have the power within yourself to determine the type of person What you focus on magnifies, often becoming a self-fulfilling you become and the type of life you live. You can choose hope, prophecy. Don’t underestimate the power of your thoughts. happiness and new beginnings. Everyone will experience positive and negative events in Jessica Stead is a freelance writer based in Sydney, Australia. She is passionate their life, but it is how you choose to “frame” those events about writing about hope, healing and techniques to enhance personal wellbeing. that matters most. What do you choose to tell yourself when To read more of her work, visit her blog at thepresenceofhope.blogspot.com.au or email her at email@example.com. difficulties arise? Are you unlucky to have lost your job or
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Yoga for happiness Deep happiness isn’t something you can seek through external achievements alone; you need to look within — and yoga can be a marvellous tool for discovering it. WORDS / KYLIE TERRALUNA PHOTOGRAPHY / TAWFIK ELGAZZAR
Gesture of knowledge (jnana mudra).
“The quest for human happiness is like looking around for a candle while sitting out of doors in the sun.” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
veryone wants to be happy, but what did happiness mean to the ancient yogis? Could you have lost your way on the path to true happiness in this time-pressured, materialistic society? The Oxford Dictionary uses synonyms for happiness like contentment, pleasure, joy, wellbeing, delight, rapture and bliss. The ancient yogis would agree: this is the state of happiness and, yes, it’s flourishing. The difference lies in translation for living. Ecstatic bliss in yoga is samadhi, a heightened experience of oneness, an unexplainable, divine joy that comes from the expansive connection to all. Yogananda says it’s “like millions of earthly joys crushed into one”. The depths of happiness cannot be found in focusing on the pursuit of
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outer achievements only, like career, travel, possessions and relationships. It is found through practices that lead you inward toward your centre. Inner bliss and connection of a deeply spiritual nature cannot be achieved with rigidity, demand, excess, suppression or rejection of passions. The happy path of yoga is selfless, filled with joyful intention, applied wisdom and right understanding. Yoga is meant to be liberating, not forced. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the ancient, authoritative text on yoga, highly values detachment and renunciation (vairagya); a commitment to practice (abhyasa); avoidance of attachment, addiction and aversion; cessation of desires; and remaining even-minded toward pleasure and pain. Let’s not misinterpret this: it is still a happy path and occurs slowly over time.
HOW TO BE A HAPPY YOGI Patanjali considers avidya, ignorance or lack of spiritual knowledge, as the root
source of all unhappiness and sorrow in the world. A yogi acquires discriminative wisdom and spiritual knowledge, drawing on the niyama (rule) of ishvara pranidhana: surrendering your efforts to oneness or God to live a happy life. You detach from the outcomes when you feel divinely supported for your efforts and release them without judgement or condemnation. Aparigraha — non-grasping, nongreed and non-coveting — leads you to contentment and self-acceptance. You can let go of grasping when you feel good about yourself, a sensation that results from your practice bathing you in peace, even amid adversity. The surrender has a yielding quality and bypasses the ego. You realise you are already divine. Once firmly established and consistently practised, this relief, peace and happiness leads to samadhi. After a long time, liberation and bliss are graced upon you and maintained through the practice of yoga.
BODY YOGA FOR HAPPINESS Study the self Without svadhyaya, the study of the self and yogic scriptures, it may be unclear whether your desires are spiritually right for you and connected to your dharma, your life’s path. You don’t need to feel guilty or bad about your desires, instead try to aim them towards fulfilling your life’s purpose. Practise contentment Santosha means contentment without excess. It involves accepting your life and enjoying simple pleasures. Contentment reduces the grasping attachment and aversion cycle. Combined with satya, truthfulness, santosha gives you courage to change a difficult or unhealthy situation in your life, leading to greater harmony and tranquillity. Practise cleanliness Practise saucha or cleanliness for your body and mind. Cleanse your mind of negative thoughts and reactions and cleanse your body for healing so you can meditate without pain. When you feel far from happy within, be honest with yourself and practise ishvara pranidhana again; continue on the path forward. Practise the four attitudes Happiness is found in right thought, word and deed in relationship with others. According to Patanjali, there are four powerful attitudes for cultivating happiness and reducing suffering: Maitri: friendliness and happiness to the virtuous Karuna: compassion to the sorrowful Mudita: rejoicing with the happy Upeksanam: equanimity or indifference to the errors of others These attitudes can prevent negative thoughts forming and help you avoid taking things personally. Yogananda says, “Joy awakens compassion in the heart. It makes one long to infuse divine bliss into those who are weeping in sorrow.” Keep positive prana moving throughout the community by restraining and avoiding toxic conversation and gossip about others and yourself. This spreads happiness and honours everyone to be their best. Bring relaxed effort to the postures Sthira and sukha applies relaxed effort, or “attention without tension” to yoga postures. It is firm but calm, active yet relaxed. Advanced yogi Simon Borg Olivier (yogasynergy.com) suggests living so it’s as easy as possible for your mind to choose happiness. In asana
practice, ensure the body does not feel under threat by reducing sympathetic (fight or flight) output and increasing the parasympathetic (rest and digest) response. Then your mind will reflect a flexible, strong, balanced body that moves freely, says Borg Olivier. He teaches students a 12-point check in the body during asana that ensures a parasympathetic response, such as being able to move fingers and toes, relax the neck, soften tummy, check you can swallow, blink and roll your eyes. This protects against fear and aggression so you can make the mental choice to be happy. Aim for purity Sattvic living is a joyful state that denounces impurities. When you try to force this state, it is no longer sattvic. Sattva is gentle, relaxed discipline, practised in a loving, unattached way. Bring yoga incrementally into your life to gently shift your state of being towards aligning with joy. This is ahimsa, the nonviolent path, and is far more honest and uplifting than beating yourself into
You can let go of grasping when you feel good about yourself, resulting from your practice bathing you in peace, even amid adversity. submission. The sutras explain, “When nonviolence in speech, thought and action is established, your aggressive nature is relinquished and others abandon hostility in your presence.” The quest for yogic happiness is merely revealing the joy within by coaxing your being into the safety of relaxed effort, applying discipline for positivity in your life and removing fear. Then you find the joyful state of who you already are. Eat consciously The food you eat affects your state of happiness. Eat little. Learn prakriti, your individual Ayurvedic constitution, and eat accordingly of seasonal, local and sattvic, pure food to nourish you with prana. Eat what you need with joy and gratitude. This contributes to your nourishment in happiness and prepares you for samadhi. Find your community Satsanga is the company of likeminded others committed to finding sat, the real and true. Sanga refers to association,
joining, and promotes destruction of delusion. Find an uplifting community to join. Attend yoga classes, workshops or retreats to build your community of likeminded others on the same path. Practise yoga nidra A sankalpa is a resolve you make during yoga nidra to bring divine happiness to your life. The deep relaxation of this lying down guided visualisation process is transformative for the habit of happiness and letting go of suffering. You can practise with a CD, free online recording and in yoga classes. Meditate for happiness Meditate with joyful intention and allow the experience of simply sitting for meditation to uplift you. If you can’t still your mind, that’s OK. Swami Shankarananda in Happy for No Good Reason suggests you “have the meditation you are having” and to “be with the emotion you are having”. Even if you feel angry, Shankarananda advises to sit with the negative emotion while calming the mind and focusing internally. Once awareness develops and you can find peace at your centre, the intensity of the negative emotion will subside through the meditation process. When you still feel unhappy Take solace in an uplifting yoga practice and do whatever you can to nurture your spirit to make it easy to choose happiness. If you can’t feel happy, monitor your self-talk, be gentle on yourself so you can keep moving forward in a positive way. Seek the guidance and support of a skilled yoga teacher you resonate with. Make joyful intentions Bring joyful intentions to your day, your interactions, your work, your practice, your life. Before dawn, if possible, contemplate the day ahead and connect with the sacred quietude of daybreak, expressing gratitude for life and your day’s tasks. Bring joy to the responsibilities of the day and gratitude for joyful awareness. Breathe and relax. Follow the happiness sequence below. In the evening, review the day’s events and contemplate where you could have chosen happiness in your day with kindness. Celebrate the happiness you achieved without attachment to it. Prioritise relaxation and freeing the mind from constant thinking. Include a restorative pose prior to bed such as viparita karani, legs up the wall pose.
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BODY YOGA FOR HAPPINESS HAPPINESS SEQUENCE
Warm up the joints, circling ankles, knees, hips, wrists, shoulders and neck. Perform a few rounds of surya namaskar, salute to the sun.
As you practise this sequence, allow the state of happiness to seep through your pores and submerge your soul in the ecstasy of movement, prana, power and divine joy in being alive. Gesture of knowledge (jnana mudra) Sit in a comfortable seated position, lift spine. Make a closed circle with index finger, touching first thumb joint on each hand as shown. Extend other fingers, hands facing up, wrists resting on knees. The closed circle represents unification of Atman, individual soul, with Brahman, universal soul. Close eyes and repeat, “Divine knowledge enriches my soul and fills me with sacred wisdom. Divine wisdom leads me to joy, a place of peace and purity within my heart.” Connect with the natural breath. Sing the happiness chant below for a few minutes with joyful awareness. This powerful, unifying chant centres
your intentions for happiness within the hearts of all. Listen to a free online recording to learn the rhythm, pace and pronunciation. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu. “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”
Warrior II (virabhadrasana II) Standing, step feet one leg-length apart on mat. Turn left foot out to 90 degrees, right foot in to 45 degrees. Line up left heel with inner arch of right foot. Inhale, raise arms to shoulder height, extending to sides. Exhale, bend left knee, stacking knee on top of ankle, straighten and energise right leg. Continue breathing, turn right hip slightly towards the left, turn chest back to centre. Gaze beyond third finger of left hand. Breathe. Embody a peaceful warrior spirit of courage and strength Warrior II (virabhadrasana II).
Tree pose (vrksasana) Standing, firm thighs and place weight evenly across feet. Lift right foot and place sole of foot against inner left thigh. Bring hands above head, shoulders down. Draw right hip down, square navel and chest to centre, find a drishti point of concentration to focus your balance. Breathe. Feel strong and balanced as your internal gaze focuses on peace inside your heart. Bring foot and hands down simultaneously. Repeat on other leg.
to combat suffering and reveal the true, joyful self. After a couple minutes, bring feet together. Change sides and repeat. Warrior III (virabhadrasana III) Standing hands in prayer mudra, step right foot back one leg-length. Inhale arms up, exhale, bend left leg as you pivot forward, raising right foot off floor to hip height, bringing torso in line with extended leg. Straighten left leg, align hips, stretch arms out in front, keeping neck in line with spine. Breathe. Slowly release and repeat on other side. Warrior III (virabhadrasana III).
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BODY YOGA FOR HAPPINESS King of the pigeons (eka pada rajakapotasana) On all fours, bring right knee forward to floor, behind right hand. Bring your right foot in front of left straightened knee. Straighten left leg behind you. Work the right foot towards a perpendicular placement to the right knee if possible. If hips are tight, bring foot closer to torso to alleviate the stretch. Square hips and bring hands together in prayer mudra at heart centre. Breathe. Slowly release back to all fours, repeat on other side. Note: Do not do this pose if you have knee or sacroiliac injuries.
King of the pigeons (eka pada rajakapotasana).
Reclining spinal twist (supta parivartanasana) Lie down on back, shift hips to right. Raise right knee to chest, straighten left leg along floor. Take right leg across torso to left side of body. Bring arms out to side at shoulder height, turn head towards right. Hold outer right knee with left hand, keep right shoulder on floor. Bring knee back to centre and change for the other side.
Reclining spinal twist (supta parivartanasana).
Find an uplifting community to join. Attend yoga classes, workshops or retreats to build your community of likeminded others on the same path.
Supported bridge pose (setu bandha sarvangasana).
Supported bridge pose (setu bandha sarvangasana) Position two bolsters lengthways on mat. Sitting on bolsters, strap thighs together above knees. Lie over bolster so head and shoulders rest on floor, and mid-thoracic spine presses into edge of bolster. Bend knees up if lower back feels uncomfortable. Close eyes and enjoy this restful pose. Turn your gaze inward toward your heart centre, allow joy and peace to awaken within your being and life. Let layers of tension melt away. After a few minutes remove strap and bolsters and lie flat in savasana, lying down relaxation posture. Feel contentment arising within you, joyful serenity for the practice of yoga and the happiness it can bring to life. Kylie Terraluna is a writer, yoga teacher and mum who used to go by Kylie De Giorgio. Kylie runs a series of yoga workshops that dive into themes from her articles and happiness is at the top of the list. Visit kylieterraluna.com.au for more details and to read more of her work.
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SPIRIT SPIRIT OF NATURE
Cultivating a DOWN-TO-EARTH SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE Spirituality isn’t limited to institutionalised, formal religions. Being fully present in nature also allows you to connect with the divine and find the purpose and meaning you seek. WORDS / PETER WHITE PHD
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people are experiencing a gnawing need for a spirituality that transcends the institutionalised, formal, religionoriented expressions of spirituality. Despite the marginalisation of spiritual discussions in the public sphere, despite the increasing competition from religious ideologies for people’s religious sensibilities, individuals are choosing to explore the spiritual in a secular, flexible, private manner. As theologian Sallie McFague describes, “We do not live in a sacramental universe in which the things of this world ... are understood as
Each of us is exploring this world, this lifetime to create and to learn and, within a more unconscious sphere, attempting to discover a more expansive meaning within our lives. connected to and permeated by divine power and love. Our experience, our daily experience, is for the most part non-religious ... If we experience God at all it tends to be at a private level.” Each of us is, in our own private sphere, our own path, exploring this world, this lifetime to create and to learn and, within a more unconscious sphere, attempting to discover a more expansive meaning within our lives. One of the most important physical contexts or mediums for this search is the natural world, those natural refuges
away from home and society, away from the illusory natures of our social identities. Many people seek the solitude of nature in order to be nourished during their journey and to expand their understanding of who they really may be.
ASPIRATIONS FOR SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE Humans once took nature to be inhabited by spirits and/or an expression of the divine, a sacred living and aware source of all life, including human beings. Indigenous peoples all over the world attest to this once-taken-for-granted knowing by Western cultures that spirit and/or divine inhabits and flows through all beings and places, that there exists a deep interconnectedness between landscapes, wildlife and plants and humans. This expression of spirituality or the sacred within and through non-human nature can be referred to as naturalised spirituality, as compared to a more structured, ecologically disconnected religious expression of spirituality. Throughout Eastern and Western cultures across millennia, writers have expressed how nature brings greater meaning to life: “To see a world in a grain of sand And a heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And eternity in an hour.” ~ William Blake, Auguries of Innocence, 1863 “There is pleasure in the pathless woods, There is rapture on the lonely shore There is society, where no one intrudes By the deep sea, and music in its roar.
Photography Getty Images
any people remember their childhood times in nature often filled with adventure, mystery and wonder, yet most of us tend to lose this innocent perspective as we grow through and beyond adolescence. As I have found, however, nature harbours numerous wonders for people of all ages in ways that revitalise and uplift the soul. I have grown back into the mystery of nature as I have moved through middle age. In a sense, I have returned to nature to explore the yearning for meaning that once, as a child, I discovered daily in my innocent wanderings within natural places. You, too, are surely able to recall meaningful experiences during visits to natural places. Various psychologists have argued that these experiences — particularly spiritual experiences — are of value for human development and psychological wellbeing. Many studies have found that direct exposure to natural areas can increase positive emotions and mental capacity, and reduce stress and negative states of mind. More profound benefits arise when you not just encounter but intimately connect with nature; that is, you feel an emotional attachment to a particular place or empathise with an animal or plant, and that leads to a more expansive sense of self. Like many readers of this magazine, you may be interested in not only your physical and mental wellbeing but also your spiritual grounding, a sense of meaning in something beyond your immediate personal and social contexts. In Western societies, more and more
SPIRIT SPIRIT OF NATURE
I love not man the less, but nature more.” ~ Lord Byron, stanza from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, 1812 “What shall we do with a man who is afraid of the woods, their solitude and darkness? What salvation is there for him? God is silent and mysterious.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, journal entry, 1850 The current global crises have in large part arisen over the past few centuries, particularly in the past 50 years because of weakened relations with spirit/divine, within and between communities and the beings and ecosystems that sustain us. Transcending this limiting consciousness and conceptions of what it is to be fully human requires in part that we explore the spiritual dimensions of our lives, especially our connection with the Earth and life that sustains us. Spirituality can be viewed as an inner experience and/ or belief that provides deeper meaning to your life, an experience of connection to something greater than your own life that breaks the ordinary boundaries of the day-to-day ego self. So what is a spiritual experience in nature? It can be many things to many people, just like the ideas of beauty and virtue. In essence, it often arises when feeling a deep connection with or wonder toward something in the non-human environment, a landscape, mountain, animal or tree, for example, in which there is an expansion of the ego self and an awareness of some greater non-physical force, a consciousness, all-pervasive intelligence underlying reality. This form of connection arises when you become fully present to your experience of reality by being fully attentive to and perceiving what is around you. It requires getting in touch with your true nature by going into nature, by stepping away from your normal roles and responsibilities and becoming infused by nature in its infinite expressions. It is part of the process of cultivating your highest potential, of responding to the ultimate question, “Who am I?” A deeper sense of spiritual connection and understanding of identity arises as you increase your circles of engagement. As poet Rainer Maria Rilke beautifully expressed it: “I live my life in widening circles which spread out to encompass all things. I may not bring the last one to completion, but that will be my attempt.
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“I circle God, the ancient tower, circling and circling for thousands of years, And don’t yet know — am I a falcon, a storm, or an immense song.” In coming into a relationship with the spirit/divine when encountering nature, we interpret our world from a higher or wiser perspective that is inclusive, tolerant and accepting. You are more likely to become more caring about the world you inhabit when you hold something as sacred or meaningful or sentient. As author Stephanie Dowrick has similarly written, “As we engage more deeply, any sense of disconnection from others, or from the sacred within life or ourselves, diminishes; we are freed to care.” Experiencing a deeper, more meaningful relationship with nature does not just improve your psychological health; it also helps you become an inquisitive, humble explorer of the landscapes you inhabit and a more likely protector of the natural world.
EXPERIENCING SPIRITUAL CONNECTION WITH NATURE Experiences of a spiritual orientation can arise spontaneously as well as through practice. As Blake implies in his poetry, we may with the right perception and attention perceive a hidden world in a grain of sand and heavenly beauty in a wildflower. In other words, the sacred can be intuited within all things — if you can perceive it in a way that opens you up, that in a sense “intimises” you. The sacred through intimate connections is yours to be explored. This down-to-earth spirituality is experienced not by leaving the world behind but by becoming physically and psychologically immersed in the world around you. By becoming more present to the wonders of this world, wonders that lie not just in exotic places and beautiful sunrises but within the mundane and taken-forgranted landscapes in your daily life, you can enter into a more conscious relationship with the divine, the sacred. But how can you create the situation where such experiences may arise? You may be thinking that you go for a walk every day along a river or coastline, through a forest or park, and nothing “spiritual” happens. There may be no sense of the spiritual at all. That’s fine, of course, because there are other benefits you get while being in natural areas. But spiritual experiences
are there for the taking, a sliver of consciousness away; you just have to shift your mental perspective and begin to perceive the world anew.
SEEING WITH FRESH EYES To really know something closely requires a direct, relational experience of that thing. As you spend sufficient quality time in a place or relating to something, such as a tree or animal, you begin to connect with it, to relate and deepen your awareness of it. The I/it divide becomes permeable, diffuse. You become intimate through opening up and fully engaging. If you want to increase the chances of having a spiritual experience that by its nature is not subject to your conscious control, you need to cultivate your awareness so the seeds of spirit or the sacred may germinate and sprout into your consciousness. So why not, during one of your walks or outings in nature, take time out to cultivate a spiritual experience? Here is an outline of the approach I use and instruct my participants in during nature connection sessions. Mindfulness Becoming more aware of both your surrounds and your inner states requires a state of mindful consciousness, which I have described in a previous article (Walking the Inner Landscape, WellBeing #150). Bring your focused attention to bear on your state of mind and body, what you are doing, on the rhythm of your breathing, on your perceptions and the flow of inner experience, such as thoughts, feelings, observations and past and future imaginings. You need to become fully present, which occurs when you deeply look or hear or touch another being (“deeply” referring to moving from the surface or obvious to the subtler depths of a perception). Within the depth of encounter you’ll find a sense of oneness or union with the numinous, with spirit. It’s difficult to be quietened and fully self-aware if you are “lost” to the external world. Just observe your inner and outer worlds without judgement and experience nature like a child might: in the moment, with a touch of enchantment and open-minded curiosity. Remember: be patient, without expectations. Engage with mind & heart When you are in nature, express an affirmation of your love of the Earth, life and the place you are in. This opens up
Photography Getty Images
A spiritual experience in nature requires getting in touch with your true nature by going into nature, by stepping away from your normal roles and responsibilities.
your mind and heart to the possibility of emotions and feelings that may arise during your walk. It also establishes a more meaningful purpose for your nature time. As you walk or sit, do it with a quiet joy and appreciation for being present here and now. You may be surprised by how much a warm, openhearted disposition contributes to being fully present and creating an atmosphere of spiritual and emotional possibilities. By being fully present you will be able to tune more intimately into things such as flowers, trees, birdcalls and rocks. Experiencing the sacred, the divine, the sentience of life and landscape arises when you fully attend to what you observe and feel. If your mind is absent or elsewhere and your heart is closed or distracted, it’s unlikely that spiritual experiences can be cultivated. To see afresh is to perceive the world lovingly, respectfully; to let go of normal modes of being or, rather, doing.
Imaginal engagement During your time in nature, find a quiet, peaceful place where you won’t be interrupted. It’s during these precious times, whether they be brief stops or of longer duration, that your imaginal capacity can help you tune into the nature of perception: “To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower. Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.” Whether you meditate, imagine a flower’s aura, visualise the roots of an angophora tree reaching into the sandstone escarpment, daydream of being an energy spirit flying between plants or reflect on being a part of this place, imaginal engagement will open up new vistas and cultivate meaningful experiences, including the spiritual.
AND SO, TO YOU Spiritual experiences in natural places provide down-to-earth opportunities to
transform your concepts of individuality and what it is to be human, especially in these times of global crises. It offers a portal into a world of greater purpose, meaning and reflection through simply paying mindful attention to what is before and within you. We all need a stable inner foundation to dwell in harmony, but it can only be created layer by layer, step by step as we traverse and explore the inner and outer landscapes of our lives. It’s on this foundation that you may realise your potential and quench any thirst for spiritual meaning. In feeling the love, joy and contentment when connecting with nature, you will allow the spirit to flow into and sustain your being. Peter White’s book In the Presence of Nature: A Guide for Connecting and Healing in a Climate of Change is available at your local bookstore and online bookstores. W: natureconnect.com.au
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Super salads When it comes to constructing a big salad packing a nutrient-dense punch, Pete Evans says itâ€™s a case of the more bite, the better. WORDS / PETE EVANS
Warm baby beetroot & sorrel salad.
hile experimenting with organic seasonal vegies, herbs, nuts, seeds and fermented side dishes over the years, I’ve tried and tested many ingredients. I’ve found that, by incorporating a wide selection of bitter leafy greens into my super salads, I can create power-packed lunches on the run or, combined with a piece of grass-fed organic meat or wild-caught seafood, quick after-work meals or easy Sunday lunches. Plus, salads are a great way to pack good vegies into your daily diet. For my partner Nic, our girls and me, super salads are much-loved staples. We often have an organic roast chicken in the fridge so we can easily toss together a quick creation using our favourite greens, including kale, spinach, chard, mizuna, radicchio and sorrel. Over the past three years, we’ve also enjoyed growing our own herbs. It’s a satisfying way to stay connected with the Earth, move in time with the rhythm of each season and leave a smaller footprint. When it comes to making your salads, herbs and spices are the kingmakers and, as a chef, your best friends. Get to know the tastes you and your family love and, remember: the fresher, the better. I strongly encourage you to embrace bitterness. Learn to love the sharp bite of dark greens and enjoy experimenting with a wide variety of flavours to find your own personal super salad stars. Don’t be shy — turn up your favourite tunes, get into the kitchen, prep well, then be brave and bold with your ingredient choices. I’ve passed on recipes for salads and salad dressings that I love and are popular with my family, friends and community. A particular winner for me is a lightly spiced raw carrot salad that I recently made while filming The Paleo Way. It comes recommended after taste-testing by the discerning (and fussy) camera crew. With its base of grated carrots combined with olive oil, chilli, ginger, sumac, raw honey, toasted almonds, coriander, mint, apple cider vinegar, lemon and currants, it’s a tasty and healthy treat.
Photography Steve Brown
DRESSING UP Don’t negate almost all the benefits of your fresh salads by topping them with processed dressings — especially the low-fat ones. As always, it’s best to learn to make a fast, easy dressing by drizzling on some good-quality fats, including olive oil, avocado oil or macadamia oil, along with a squeeze of
lemon, or enjoy the nutritious delicious delights of vegies in the raw. For some super salads, a goodquality homemade dressing can be the pièce de résistance and, like herbs, can help transform the dish from so-so to sensational with just a quick drizzle. It’s vital to use the right oils, though, which is why I’ve given a simple breakdown later in this article. I like to use good-quality extra-virgin olive oil as a base for my dressings and I slowly whisk it into a mix of raw apple cider vinegar, grated garlic, Himalayan salt and pepper. Yummo! There are so many combinations, so many flavours, so many choices. Man, I love food!
FERMENTED FRIENDS The final star in my super salads is fermented foods in the form of sauerkraut or sauerkraut juice added to a dressing for its dynamic probiotic goodness. Fermented food is live and active, helping to predigest vital nutrients. By including these in your diet every day, you’ll soon see what incredible nutritional value they have. Fermentation allows the nutrients from the rest of the ingredients to be even more powerfully absorbed by the body and helps to optimise that allimportant gut flora, so it’s a win-win all round.
THE GOOD OILS There are myriad good oils that do a great job of making an excellent, flavoursome base for dressings. Here are some of my favourites: Coconut oil. At colder times of the year, I try even harder to protect my body from the season’s ills and chills through what I consume. It’s why I incorporate extravirgin coconut oil into my family’s diet daily to keep our health on track. High in good saturated fats that help our bodies and brains to thrive, virgin coconut oil has antiviral and antibacterial properties to support proper immune function. It’s my go-to oil for almost everything in (and out) of the kitchen. Olive oil. For salads, I love to drizzle on good-quality extra-virgin olive oil or use it as a base for a lemon and garlic emulsion. Olive oil is well known for its health benefits and is a staple of the Mediterranean diet. Plus, it brings crisp, organic salad leaves alive. Just remember that it doesn’t do well at high heat, which is why I never use it for heating or frying foods. Avocado oil. Made from the pressed flesh of avocados, this oil has a rich
flavour and makes a good dressing when combined with balsamic vinegar. It’s high in unsaturated fats and vitamin E. Macadamia oil. This oil has a delicate buttery, nutty flavour and tastes equally as great in an oil-based dressing as in your favourite homemade mayonnaise.
WARM BABY BEETROOT & SORREL SALAD WITH CASHEW CHEESE & WALNUTS Serves: 4 2 bunches baby red beetroot, about 20 beetroots 2 tsp coconut oil, melted ½ bunch thyme Sea salt & cracked pepper 80mL extra-virgin olive oil 2 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 cup activated & toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped 1 cup cashew cheese ½ bunch chives, cut into 5cm lengths Handful sorrel leaves, red-veined preferred ½ cup packed dried cherries Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced). Wash beetroots. Trim stems, leaving 1cm intact. Place beetroots in a ﬂameproof baking dish and sprinkle with coconut oil, thyme and salt and pepper. Cover dish tightly with foil and roast for about 40 minutes, shaking the pan after 20 minutes, or until tender. Remove beetroots from dish. When cool enough to touch, peel and cut beetroots in half. Combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and half of the walnuts in a screw-top jar with a little sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Shake well. Thickly spread the cashew cheese on a large platter and top with the warm beetroots. Drizzle the beetroots with some of the dressing and then scatter over the chives, sorrel and dried cherries. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the remaining walnuts. Serve warm. Pass the remaining dressing at the table.
Cashew cheese Makes: 200g 155g cashews 2 tsp lemon juice ½ tsp Himalayan salt or sea salt Pinch freshly ground black pepper Soak the cashews in 750mL water for 2–4 hours. Drain and rinse well. Place the cashews in a food processor, add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and pulse for a minute to combine. Add 60mL of water and continue to process until smooth. Can be stored in the fridge for 5–7 days.
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FOOD SALADS KING PRAWNS WITH PRESERVED LEMON & AVOCADO SALAD Serves: 4 16 raw king prawns 3 tbsp lemon-infused extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve 1 tbsp lemon juice 1 tsp chopped dill Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper 1 red capsicum, seeded & ﬁnely diced Handful coriander leaves Handful dill leaves
½ red capsicum 2 avocados, sliced 1 Roma tomato, seeded & diced 1 birdseye chilli, seeded & ﬁnely chopped ¼ red onion, ﬁnely chopped 1 tbsp ﬁnely chopped preserved lemon 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves 2 tbsp lemon juice 2 tbsp lemon-infused extra-virgin olive oil
When it comes to making your salads, herbs and spices are the kingmakers and, as a chef, your best friends. King prawns with preserved lemon.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cook the prawns in salted boiling water until pink and ﬁrm, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool completely. Peel and devein, keeping the tails intact. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice and dill in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine, add the prawns and toss until well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 5 minutes in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, make the avocado salad. Place the capsicum, skin side up, on a baking tray. Roast in the oven for 10–15 minutes, or until the skin blisters and blackens. Place the capsicum in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to steam for 5 minutes. Peel oﬀ the skin, remove the seeds and discard. Chop the capsicum. Combine the avocado, roast capsicum, tomato, chilli, onion, preserved lemon, coriander, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl and gently mix. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the avocado salad onto a serving platter, top with the marinated prawns, garnish with the diced raw capsicum, coriander and dill leaves and serve with a drizzle of extra oil.
YOUNG COCONUT & CHICKEN SALAD Serves: 4 Pickled onion ½ red onion, thinly sliced 3 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar Fish sauce dressing 80mL ﬁsh sauce 2 tbsp peeled & grated fresh ginger 3 garlic cloves, minced 1–2 fresh red chillies, ﬁnely chopped 3–4 tbsp lime juice, or more to taste 1 tbsp raw honey (optional) Chicken 600g boneless, organic chicken thighs, skin on 3⅓ cups coconut milk 2 tbsp ﬁsh sauce 1 tbsp peeled & grated fresh ginger 1 large garlic clove, minced Salad 4¼ cups ﬁnely shredded cabbage 2 handfuls coriander leaves 1 handful mint leaves 1 handful Thai or holy basil leaves ½ cup shredded carrot 2 young coconuts 3 tbsp fried shallots 2 tbsp fried garlic 80g activated almonds, roasted & crushed To pickle the onion, combine the onion and vinegar in a bowl and let sit for 20 minutes, then drain.
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FOOD SALADS To make the ﬁsh sauce dressing, in a bowl or large jar, combine all ingredients and set aside. To cook the chicken, place the chicken thighs in a pot and add the coconut milk, 1 cup water, ﬁsh sauce, ginger and garlic. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 10–12 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat. To make the salad, in a large bowl, combine the cabbage, coriander, mint, basil and carrot and toss well. To prepare the coconut bowls, using a large, sharp, heavy knife, cut the coconuts in half around the middle. Pour out the water and reserve it for another use. Using a large kitchen spoon, gently run the spoon between the ﬂesh and the peel in a circular motion around the coconut while trying not to break the ﬂesh. Carefully slide the spoon underneath to the bottom and lift the coconut ﬂesh from the peel, leaving it in the coconut bowl. Repeat with the remaining coconuts. When you’re ready to serve, toss the chicken into the salad and add the ﬁsh sauce dressing to taste. Top it all with the fried shallots, fried garlic, almonds and pickled onion. Divide the salad between the four halved coconut bowls, scooping out the young coconut ﬂesh as you eat the salad.
Fried shallots Makes: 5 tbsp 4 shallots, thinly sliced 2 cups coconut oil, melted Combine the shallots and coconut oil in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the shallots start to turn golden, 2–4 minutes. Keep a close eye on them as they may colour faster depending on how thin they are sliced. Lift the shallots out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Fried garlic Makes: 4 tbsp 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 1 cup coconut oil, melted Combine the garlic and coconut oil in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the garlic starts to turn golden, 2–4 minutes. Keep a close eye on it as it may colour a lot faster depending on how thin the garlic is sliced. Lift the garlic out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
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Young coconut and chicken salad.
For some super salads, a good-quality homemade dressing can be the pièce de résistance and, like herbs, can help transform the dish from so-so to sensational with just a quick drizzle. MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD Serves: 4 80mL extra-virgin olive oil 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar 1 tbsp raw honey 1 tsp peeled & grated fresh ginger 1 fresh red chilli, seeded & ﬁnely chopped ½ tsp ground sumac 4 large carrots, peeled & grated Handful activated almonds, toasted & chopped Large handful chopped fresh coriander Handful mint leaves, chopped ¼ cup dried barberries or currants Sea salt & cracked pepper In a large serving bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey and ginger until well combined. Add the chilli, sumac, carrots, almonds, coriander, mint and barberries or currants. Toss, season with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper and serve. Pete Evans is a chef, paleo ambassador, health coach, restaurateur, media personality, author and more. W: peteevans.com.au
Moroccan carrot salad.
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nless you have constant access to organic foods and have the time to do shopping runs every few days to access fresh fruit and vegetables, the tired tomatoes and limp lettuce in your fridge may be sadly lacking in vitamins and minerals. In grocery stores and fruit markets, once fruit and vegetables reach the shelves they may already have lost much of their nutrient content. The picking of produce before fully ripe, the application of pesticides in the growing and the long storage of food, along with the mineral depletion of soils due to mono-cropping, mean that vitamins and minerals are being eroded at every stage of food production, leaving far less available in food to benefit your body. Studies show that after a week in the fridge, a vegetable such as spinach loses half of its vitamin C content. In light of these issues, many people take supplements to boost health, ward off illnesses like colds, address specific conditions such as anxiety and skin rashes, or support their system if affected by chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease or anaemia. However, to get the most from your supplements, you need to be savvy about the best way to take them.
DOUBLE ACT: MINERALS & VITAMINS Water-soluble vitamins such as B and C are needed daily because your body does not store them. Much of a watersoluble vitamin from a supplement is excreted in urine within two or three hours. Yet over time a small amount is retained, which does increase levels in the blood and inside cells. Fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K are absorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream, then whatever is not used is stored in fatty tissue.
Mega-doses of these vitamins can cause side-effects. Excess amounts are stored in organs like the liver and kidneys, making it easier to reach a level of dosage where the effects of toxicity become apparent. Minerals and vitamins work hand in hand. Vitamins are a group of complex organic substances that regulate your metabolism through enzyme systems that help you break down and use your food. With few exceptions (vitamin D and niacin), vitamins can’t be manufactured by the body and must be obtained through diet. Minerals, on the other hand, are chemical elements that have a range of actions, including enhancing the absorption of some vitamins. If you have one without the other, they don’t work as effectively. In fact, supplementing with the following vitamins or minerals without their counterpart may even upset bodily systems so that you experience a deficit or overload of some nutrients. So, when choosing your supplements, bear in mind that the following go best in combination: Copper, magnesium, iron and vitamin C Manganese and biotin, B1 and vitamin C Selenium and vitamin E Sulphur and vitamin B Zinc and vitamin A Calcium and vitamin D
BOOSTING ABSORPTION If you are taking large doses of some supplements to sustain your system through a health crisis or chronic illness, it can prove more effective to purchase a lower strength and take smaller doses several times a day. This will ensure consistent levels to nurture your cellular health and the function of important bodily systems. It will also reduce potential side-effects, such as
loose stool when taking larger doses of magnesium or vitamin C. Supplements are better absorbed directly with or after food, swallowed with a glass of water. So, if you are time poor and only manage to take vitamins once a day, make sure you consume them with a meal. It is preferable not to swallow vitamins on an empty stomach — if you have a tendency towards reflux or nausea, this might cause stomach upsets, reflux or even nausea. If you suffer from a sensitive digestive system, it may be better to take some vitamins, such as B complex varieties, in the morning so they can then be absorbed while you are upright over the day. Otherwise, taking them in the evening may predispose you to issues like heartburn when you lie down for sleep only hours later. Always be mindful that, when taken in supplement form, a vitamin or mineral may lack some of the other natural compounds and cofactors that accompany it in food and enhance its health benefits. So timing the intake of your vitamins with, or soon after, a meal is important to help restore some of those nutrients. For example, research from Tufts University in the US shows that mono-unsaturated fats, like those found in beef and olive oil, can enhance the absorption of vitamin D supplements. In fact, eating healthy mono-unsaturated fats in a meal from sources such as olive oil, avocado or raw, unsalted nuts will enhance the uptake of any fat-soluble vitamins you are taking, such as vitamins E and D. Avoid taking iron and calcium supplements together, as they compete for absorption. Though digestive enzymes are best taken directly before a meal, enzymes to assist a particular organ may be better when timed between meals, so check with a health practitioner. Similarly, some herbal supplements may be more
SUPPLEMENTS Getting the most from your supplements involves attention to timing, labels and lifestyle. WORDS / STEPHANIE OSFIELD
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Photography Getty Images
Sav vy about
CHOOSING THE RIGHT FORM While some supplements are more effectively absorbed when taken as a powder diluted in water, if you suffer a sensitive digestive system, this fast assimilation may upset it. So it’s vitally important to notice and respond to your body’s reactions to supplements. If you’re on the sensitive side, you may find that taking tablets upsets your stomach less. In light of this, it’s always good to seek the advice of a health practitioner such as a naturopath or other holistic specialist, even if you head to your local healthfood store and ask questions of the naturopath who runs the dispensary there. When choosing any vitamin or mineral supplement, make sure you read the labels so you’re not doubling up on a nutrient you’re already taking (in which case you will risk overdosing). Also, factor in any fortification of foods, such as cereals and breads. It’s also beneficial to conduct a little research on credible sites on the internet to learn about different forms of the vitamin. For example, the natural form of vitamin E called d-alpha-tocopherol is generally now thought to be better absorbed and used in the body than the synthetic form, which has only a subtle difference in name: dl-alpha-tocopherol. What about the form of the tablet? Though soft capsules are obviously not an option if you are vegetarian, there are now some capsules being made from vegetable cellulose instead of gelatine. Studies don’t show any substantial difference between the level of absorption between tablets and capsules. However, powder forms of vitamins such as C or minerals such as magnesium or zinc are more rapidly and readily absorbed in soluble form. With some supplements, such as minerals, many health practitioners believe it’s worth paying the little extra for them in a chelated form, which means the substance is bound to amino acids and so is more readily absorbed by the body. When reading labels, this means you look for amino acid chelates and citrates rather than varieties where the compound is available as carbonates and oxides. Where possible, choose supplement varieties that have minimal amounts of binders and fillers and are free of lactose, gluten, yeast, different forms of sugars, soy, cornstarch and
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Eating nutritious fruits and vegetables that are as fresh as possible, and chemical-free, is always the best approach.
preservatives. This is particularly important if you are affected by allergy or food sensitivities or need to be vigilant about health issues such as candida.
AVOIDING FOOD INTERACTIONS Bear in mind that some natural chemicals such as oxalates (found in foods like spinach and rhubarb) and phytates (in grains and beans, including soybeans) can bind to calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc, preventing their full absorption and utilisation. This means you may be taking on board far less of the supplement than you think. So, for example, if you are vegan and
take zinc, you may need to supplement with a little more. Activating nuts and sprouting and soaking grains and beans can help reduce levels of phytates. If your daily breakfast is high in phytates because it contains both grains and soymilk, your midday or evening meal is a better time to take your supplements. Certain drinks can also interfere with the absorption of supplements. Avoid having a cup of tea or a tall glass of Shiraz within an hour of taking your vitamins and minerals. They contain tannin, which can bind to certain minerals in the gut, which may lead to reduced absorption of some vitamins
Photography Getty Images
effective when taken between meals, so again check with your health provider.
VITAMIN STEALERS There’s no point spending up big on supplements to have their beneﬁts negated by poor lifestyle. So make sure you address the following, which can rob your body of essential nutrients: Smoking. Depletes minerals such as calcium and antioxidant vitamins such as C and E, which help ﬁght the free radicals that cause disease. Alcohol. To help quickly process alcohol and get it out of your system, your body uses up stores of B vitamins. Drugs. Some medications reduce vitamin and mineral levels, eg ulcer medications (calcium) and the contraceptive pill (B vitamins). Meanwhile, supplements may impact on some medications. For example, zinc can impact on antibiotics and ibuprofen painkillers. Stress. When your body is in ﬁght-or-ﬂight mode you can quickly become depleted in minerals such as magnesium and zinc as well as B vitamins. Excess sugar and salt. Overdosing on salt can upset your nutrient balance — for example, causing calcium to be leached from your bones. Meanwhile, consuming too many sugary and sweet foods can lead to an inﬂammatory process called glycation, where molecules glue themselves to areas in your body such as your organs and the collagen in your skin. In both cases, your stores and uptake of important vitamins and minerals may be aﬀected.
and minerals, such as iron. Caffeine can have the same effect on some supplements, for example reducing zinc absorption by half, so try to allow at least an hour between taking your supplements and having a long black or latte. As a general rule, any kind of food in excess can upset the balance of minerals and vitamins you are aiming to create through supplementation. This is particularly true of too much dairy and excess intake of grains.
MEGA-DOSE DEFICIENCY When you take enormous amounts
of one substance, whether a vitamin or mineral, it’s highly likely you are upsetting the balance of others and, in so doing, you may unknowingly cause a related deficiency of something else. So, where possible, try to avoid taking any kinds of supplements in megadoses unless guided by a healthcare practitioner. As well as upsetting your delicate nutrient balance, they may have unexpected outcomes. Though supplements can substantially support your system, it’s important to remember there are more than 1000 phytonutrients in fruit and vegetables that are critical for good
health but are not yet well understood and are not found in supplements. Polyphenols, for example, have strong antioxidant activity yet are not included in most vitamin supplements. Vitamin E occurs in food in eight different forms in nature, while supplements use only one or two of these. In short, supplements are no substitute for the real deal. Eating nutritious fruits and vegetables that are as fresh as possible, and chemical-free because they are organic or homegrown, is always the best approach — with a bit of supplementation on the side. Stephanie Osfield is an award-winning freelance health journalist, published in Australia and overseas. She is an advocate of nutritional medicine and specialises in all aspects of health, from exercise and disease prevention to stress, depression and women’s health issues. You can follow her blog Savvy by Stephanie Osfield at savvysteph.com.
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Beautiful oils Oils have been getting a bad rap for a long time but, thankfully, “oil” is no longer a dirty word! Naturally derived oils can balance your skin, soften your hair, reduce inflammation and even help protect you from disease.
atural oils have been used as remedies for thousands of years. They offer a diverse range of health benefits and affect a broad range of bodily systems, such as your cardiovascular and digestive systems as well as your skin’s health and your immunity to disease. “So many systems rely on oils and fats to function,” says accredited naturopath Claire Murray. “We really decrease our chances of thriving or ageing healthily if our diet is deficient in good fats and oils. Basically, we wouldn’t get very far without fats and oils.” Natural oils can be beneficial to our health and wellbeing when we consume them or apply them topically to soothe skin conditions or infuse moisture into damaged hair. They can help improve your energy, mood and focus as well as reduce pain-causing inflammation.
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Different oils have different nutritional properties and play diverse roles in health. It’s important to know the specific functions of natural oils and whether they are suited to your specific needs.
GOOD FOR YOUR INSIDES Naturally derived oils are a bit like nutritional superheroes. They can help the brain and nervous system to function properly, protect the cardiovascular system and help store and produce energy. “Nutritionally, some natural oils contain essential fatty acids like omega-3, -6 and -9. Essential fatty acids can only be obtained from foods and can’t be produced by our body naturally. They play vital roles in our bodies and some are proven to be protective against heart disease, stroke,
diabetes and cancer,” says Sarah Leung, accredited dietitian, nutritionist and sports dietitian, and founder and director of Healthy Energy. Natural oils can also transport fatsoluble nutrients, assist in insulating your body in cold temperatures and help to maintain hormone balance. “They are especially useful for painful or achy joints, as well as helping to reduce period pain by reducing the production of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like inflammatory compounds,” says Cassie MendozaJones, naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist, kinesiologist and founder of Elevate Vitality.
NUTRITIONAL OILS Avocado oil Avocado oil contains high amounts of proteins and omega-3 fatty acids, which
Photography Getty Images & Bigstock
WORDS / KATE MCKEE
BEAUTY NATURAL OILS
means it can be used as a light, healthy cooking oil, and is particularly good for salad dressings. Avocados are also great for heart health and can help to regulate blood sugar levels. Coconut oil Coconut oil is very versatile as it can be applied directly to the skin as an emollient or taken internally. It’s great to cook with as well, as it can be used at high temperatures and won’t set off your smoke alarm. “I highly recommend consuming coconut oil,” says Murray. “It can replace olive oil in cooking, be used in raw desserts and eaten by the spoonful! It’s full of metabolism-boosting medium-chain fats that are also antifungal and energy-level stabilising.” Fish oils Fish oils, such as those found in salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines, are important sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids. They are rich in DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a fatty acid important for brain and eye health. They also contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), another omega-3 that helps reduce inflammation and blood pressure and improves blood flow. Taking fish oil on a daily basis can be good for people with high cholesterol and rheumatoid arthritis and can help to fight heart disease. It can also help reduce period pain and is important for breastfeeding mums. “Fish oils are particularly important during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as not only do adequate amounts of both the EPA and DHA components help ensure a healthy brain and nervous system for the baby, they are also protective against postnatal depression for the mother,” says Mendoza-Jones. Flaxseed oil Flaxseed oil is one of the best vegetarian sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 essential fatty acid. Flaxseed oil is high in antioxidants, B vitamins and dietary fibre, which is why it is effectively used to treat constipation. “Studies have concluded that flaxseed is effective in reducing blood cholesterol,” says Leung. “It has a high content of omega-3, which reduces inflammation in the body. It’s also been suggested that flaxseed oil can improve skin, hair and nails as well as improve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.”
“Oils such as rosehip, argan and jojoba can aid in the reduction of ﬁne lines and scarring and decrease the inﬂammation associated with acne or eczema.” Similarly, chia-seed oil and hempseed oil can also be used as dietary sources of omega-3s for vegetarians. Macadamia nut oil Macadamia nut oil has higher levels of monounsaturated fat than olive or flaxseed oil and is uniquely low in omega-6s compared to other nut oils, but high in omega-3s. It also contains vitamin E and oleic acid, which has been shown to reduce inflammation, boost memory power and reduce symptoms of asthma. It has a rich, sweet, buttery flavour and is useful for cooking due to its high smoke point. Olive oil Olive oil has been around for thousands of years. It has a high level of monounsaturated fats and is rich in antioxidants, particularly vitamin E. “Olive oil is very beneficial for heart health and its high antioxidant content can protect us against heart disease and cancer,” says Leung. “It can also improve immunity and is anti-ageing.” The “virgin” varieties of olive oil are thought to be the most beneficial as they have highest nutrient content. Peppermint oil Peppermint oil can sometimes be your tummy’s best friend. Peppermint oil has long been used as a traditional remedy to relieve irritable bowel symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain by helping to remove excessive gas. It can also help to soothe nausea as well. Oregano oil Oregano oil is the king of the “antis”. It is antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and also an antioxidant. “Oregano oil is anecdotally used for intestinal parasites, to fight against virus, intestinal worms and fungi,” explains Leung.
Sesame oil Not only does sesame-seed oil make your Asian-inspired stirfries and salads taste amazing but it can also lower your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. “Some studies suggest that sesame oil can reduce blood pressure temporarily by reducing excessive sodium in the body,” says Leung.
FOR YOUR OUTSIDES Natural oils such as olive oil and coconut oil have been used for skincare and haircare since ancient times. That’s because they work. Natural oils not only moisturise the skin, they nourish it deeply as well. Says Murray, “Our bodies need the right combination of both water and oil to create smooth and moisture-rich skin. So ensuring we are providing our skin with natural oils that truly sink in and are utilised by the skin is a fantastic way to keep our skin glowing and prevent premature ageing.” Natural oils help to give the skin a healthy glow and make your hair shine, but they can also be a gentle way to treat skin ailments such as a flaky scalp or dry and itchy skin conditions. Avocado oil is amazing for the skin in a number of ways. It is rich in antioxidants and vitamins such as A, D and E. It is high in sterolin, which studies have shown to facilitate the softening of the skin and to reduce the incidence of age spots and sun damage. It can also boost your scalp health and treat conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Sweet almond oil is also great for dry, itchy skin and dry hair. “Oils such as rosehip, argan and jojoba are rich in vitamins A and E,” says Murray. “They are a great source of antioxidants for the skin, as they mop up free radicals caused by sun exposure, air pollution or toxins in makeup. They can aid in the reduction of fine lines and scarring and decrease the inflammation associated with acne or eczema.” Rosehip oil is a popular oil to use on the face as it’s rich in vitamin C, which evens out skin tone and helps to combat those wrinkles and fine lines. Apricot kernel oil is also a good choice as it can aid the skin in maintaining elasticity and softness. Jojoba oil is a standout oil because it’s actually similar in composition
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BEAUTY NATURAL OILS
INCORPORATING NATURAL OILS INTO YOUR DIET, THE NATURAL WAY
to the skin’s own oils so is quickly absorbed. “Jojoba oil is fantastic for this as it is actually a wax ester, a substance that closely mimics the sebum created by our skin,” says Murray. “Therefore it truly is an oil that soaks right in and really nourishes the skin.”
SUPPLEMENTS VS FOODS Most experts agree that the best option for ingesting oil is naturally from foods but that supplements in addition to a healthy diet are useful to treat a specific condition. The key is that capsules should be a supplement, not a replacement for the real thing. “I am a stringent believer in the power of food as medicine and always believe we should attempt to consume as many nutrients via our diets as possible,” says Murray. “However, being a naturopath, I also tend to see people who are ill and in need of therapeutic doses of certain nutrients. For those at risk of developing chronic disease or who have high levels of inflammation, I would consider supplementing in order to bring these levels down.”
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS It’s no secret that in the past oils have had some negative connotations, such as they lead to weight gain, oily skin and even bad heart health. Now we are learning to separate the bad from the good. “I believe the notion that oil and fat are bad for us is starting to crack and falter,” says Murray. “With science now well and truly debunking the myth that ‘fat makes us fat’, people are starting to allow these wonderful healthy fats back into their diets and
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“With science now well and truly debunking the myth that ‘fat makes us fat’, people are starting to allow these wonderful healthy fats back into their diets.” experiencing better health and ageing for it.” Says Leung, “Oils are fatty acids or fats, and fats have been associated with weight gain in the past. It is extremely important not to steer away from healthy fats, as they have very high nutritional value and can protect us against disease and illnesses. It’s true that oils contain the same amount of calories as other fats, like butter. It’s also true that fats and oils provide twice as many calories compared to carbohydrates and protein. But our bodies need calories to survive and we need the nutrients from healthy natural oils to maintain healthy body functions.” Leung maintains it’s about the quality and nutritional value of fats and oils. “Cutting out fats and oils altogether is not the solution for weight loss, but understanding what makes us sick and overweight is,” she says.
OILS TO AVOID Just as we are learning that not all fats are bad, so too are we discovering that not all oils are good, either. Just because an oil is naturally derived doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best option for you. Believe it or not, cooking with organic butter or ghee can be a healthier alternative to cooking with canola oil.
Murray strongly believes that vegetable oils should be avoided when possible. “In their natural and raw form, vegetable oils can be consumed in moderation like every other food. They are, however, unstable fats and are prone to damage and oxidation at higher temperatures. “The canola, corn, soy, sunflower and safflower oils that dominate the cooking aisle and prepackaged processed foods are prime examples of the oxidised and rancid oils that are entering our systems and triggering large amounts of inflammation and cell damage,” she says. When selecting your oil next time at the supermarket, try to choose one that has had minimal processing — and it goes without saying that organic is always best. Try also to select oils that come in glass bottles as opposed to plastic ones. There is no doubt that natural oils have nutritional benefits and can have a positive impact on your internal health and appearance. Which oils you incorporate in your diet and how much you use really depends on the individual so, if you are unsure, it’s always best to consult a professional. The same goes for your skin, as some oils may not suit your skin type, particularly if you have very oily, reactive or dry skin. “Some people need more oils than others. It comes down to eating a varied and healthy diet, listening to your body and finding what works for you,” concludes Mendoza-Jones. Kate McKee is a freelance writer and editor who is passionate about natural health and lifestyle. She enjoys writing for a variety of lifestyle publications on topics ranging from health and beauty to outdoor living and sustainable garden design.
If you’re not one for capsules, you can easily incorporate oils into your diet with a selection of diﬀerent foods. Sarah Leung recommends: Natural ﬁsh oil from salmon, mackerel and herring for omega-3 fatty acids, protein and vitamin D. ABC (almond, brazil and cashew nut) spread for mono- and polyunsaturated fats. It’s also rich in vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, potassium and ﬁbre as well as protein. Banana and ABC spread makes a fantastic snack at 4pm to stop the energy slump. Freshly ground ﬂaxseed meal. You don’t want to buy packaged ﬂaxseed meal as the oil can go rancid if left too long. Flaxseeds are great in muesli with berries and yoghurt, or use a handful in salads. Sesame oil in cooking. Drizzle sesame oil on your food just before serving to preserve its nutrients and aroma. Sesame seeds are also an excellent choice to obtain the oil and other minerals such as magnesium and calcium. In Chinese culture, black sesame seeds are also said to be beneﬁcial for hair growth.
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SPECIAL REPORT: HEALTH SEX
Spirited sex Healthy sexuality connects us to energy, life and love. Discover how you can protect your reproductive system and ensure sexual satisfaction. WORDS / CAROLINE ROBERTSON
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helps with the survival of our offspring,” Berman says. Depending on intentions, once a prospective partner passes the sensory audit, lusty advances may follow or compatibility on other levels may need confirmation. The green light of mutual attraction is flashed with signals such as eye contact, sweaty palms, smiling, mirroring of body language, leaning forward with open limbs, a lower voice for men and a higher one for women, touching and self-grooming. If you just want some rumpy pumpy, physical attraction may meet your needs, but beware: through sexual contact, others’ negative energy can infiltrate you and have a malignant effect. Boundaries blur and euphoric endorphins become boss. If you want an enduring encounter, proceed with caution before handing your brain in at the bed. Does your prospective mate possess the attributes you consider essential? Do they have fatal flaws such as addictions, abusiveness, sexual dysfunction, fear of commitment, dishonesty, untrustworthiness or a tendency to control? This takes
TO MAKE LOVE ... OR NOT If you want long-term loving, see if you can say YES to the following before having sex: 1 Do I feel more pleasure than pain from this relationship? 2 Would I want to be with this person if they never changed or became physically impaired? 3 Will my life be more fulﬁlling with this person? 4 Can we meet each other’s expectations regarding children, career, house duties, ﬁnances, lifestyle and ﬁdelity?
time to tell, so you may like to check compatibility before commitment or copulation. Go with your gut above all. If you feel comfortable and better when with this person, that’s encouraging. If you’re drawn to the same troubled types and repeat traumatic relationships, take responsibility and ask yourself whether you really want to perpetuate the pain or enjoy a joyful love life. Assess why past pairings didn’t work. Were you too clingy, trusting, uncaring, demanding, impatient, idealistic? What past wounds were you replaying; what childhood patterns from your parents? Did you lose your identity or self-love? Self-love is the soil that soulmate love takes root in. If you believe you’re lovable, you let love in. If you feel unlovable, your partners reflect that. As Anaïs Nin wrote, “The enemy of a love is never outside; it’s what we lack in ourselves.” Feel complete in yourself; then you’ll attract the compatible companion you deserve.
POSITIVE SEXUALITY What does the word “sex” evoke in you? Excitement, pleasure, secrecy, shame, stress, sadness, guilt? Your sexual perspective is filtered through conditioning from cultural, religious and familial input. Society has an ambivalent approach to sexuality, encouraging it yet also judging and sensationalising it. Increased quantity of sex with decreased quality has left many suffering shallow, dissatisfying sex. Some are sexually wounded after degrading, disappointing, humiliating, exploitative, shameful or unstimulating experiences. These scars may manifest as inhibition, frigidity, impotence, promiscuity or even perversions. Destructive, loveless sex rules the dark side of sexuality. The worrying incidence of rape, sadism, masochism, pedophilia and
Photography Getty Images
ex for procreation and pleasure is a primal drive that can elevate us to euphoric highs or drive us to depressing lows. With around 120 million couples having intercourse every day worldwide, it’s worth wondering what attracts us to another. A couple’s chemistry is created by a cocktail of mental, physical and spiritual factors. It’s not always lusty fire at first sight but sometimes a slow burn of alluring embers. Initial attraction between adults is influenced greatly by appearance, smell and sound of someone. At our base biochemistry, says sex therapist Dr Laura Berman, we’re all “puppies on heat”. Men are generally less particular about their sexual partners with their billions of “seeds to sow”. Studies show men are very drawn to an ovulating woman with a symmetrical smiling face, smooth skin, feminine hair, curves, a high voice and youthfulness. Women are choosier about who they share their limited 400 eggs with — though Cupid’s arrow may bypass their brains for their hearts! In general, women favour men who are even-featured, tall, muscular and broad-shouldered, and with stubble, low voices and healthy bank accounts. Most people also tend to be attracted to those with a similar social, economic, educational and religious background. Our natural pheromone perfume, along with taste, excites sexual arousal. Women are most attracted to men with a different major histocompatability complex (MHC) from their own. MHC is related to the immune system and is detected by smell and taste. Kissing is a great litmus test to see whether our DNA wants to date and make healthy babies. “We unconsciously want to mate with someone who has a different immune system than ours because that
Kissing is a great litmus test to see whether our DNA wants to date and make healthy babies.
SPECIAL REPORT: HEALTH incest reflects the dangerous to enlightenment if the energy is influence of loveless sex. Unloving rechannelled correctly. sex is not just available but socially Suppressed sexual energy, acceptable, with pornography, however, wages an inner war brothels and promiscuity leading us that surfaces in destructive ways, from intimacy towards impersonal such as aggression, depression, sex. Sex is often used as a tool of perversion, neurosis and psychosis. domination and ego by men, while Balanced celibacy promotes peace, women may use it to manipulate not frustration, argues philosopher others or as a love substitute. Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov: “Only For a healthy sex life, examine idiotic puritans fight against this your beliefs and boundaries. A sex energy, and they are always hurled therapist can help you uncover to the ground and crushed by it, these attitudes. Do you see sex because they are fighting against a as divine or depraved, a source of divine principle.” damnation or salvation, for duty or When we treasure sex as an desire, disappointing or delicious? enlightening experience it’s more Can you savour your sexuality or a meditation than a compulsion. is it shameful? Whether you feel Experienced with pure intentions, sex degrades you or elevates you sexuality starts to manifest more determines whether it harms or spiritual energy. Uniting with your helps you. How can you move from lover can connect you with the a dissatisfying approach to sex to a universe. Many people feel greater more fulfilling experience? transcendence in their bedrooms Love is the answer. Love than in their churches. As actor yourself, love your body, love your Omar Sharif said, “Making love? It’s Devotional representations of partner, connect deeply and don’t a communion with a woman. The divine intercourse abound: the be afraid to express your desires. bed is the holy table. There I find When we make love to expand our Ankh symbol of ancient Egypt, yoni passion — and purification.” hearts, our every action, every lingams of Asia, Tantric temple ORGAN TUNING sound, every caress expresses our loving feelings, making it a euphoric sculptures in Khajuraho, for example. Healthy sexual organs give us greater pleasure and better experience. Making love we become symbols exalt sexuality in traditional art, chances of conception. Protect yourself love and feel reborn. from the American Indians’ totem poles from possible STIs by using condoms Embrace your sexual self by to India’s Shiva lingams to England’s until your partner is tested three months exploring how it works, looks and feels. well-endowed giant of Cerne Abbas. after their last partner: this is the time it Sex therapist and author Jacqueline Sacred objects and rituals also takes for many conditions, such as HIV, Hellyer suggests women venerate their worship the female form; witness the to show. Remember that even virgins can vaginas by naming them, pleasuring yoni of India and the clamshell parade have infections from oral or intravenous them, conditioning them with kegel in the city of Inuyama, Japan. Devotional contagion. Try these natural methods to exercises, resting them when needed representations of divine intercourse overcome common conditions. and, above all, understanding they’re abound: the Ankh symbol of ancient Thrush the incredible gateway for human life. Egypt, yoni lingams of Asia, Tantric This irritating, itching condition is caused Become “cliterate” by understanding temple sculptures in Khajuraho, India, by the Candida albicans fungus. Though the scope of female sexuality. For both men and women may have it on for example. At Japan’s Chiba festival, example, did you know women have the tongue, intestinal tract, anus and a giant wooden phallus is inserted into as much engorged erectile tissue as genitals, women suffer symptoms more a straw vulva, showering the audience men? The clitoral head is only the tip of intensely. It can cause farting, fatigue, with milky sake! Celebrate your own the iceberg with 75 per cent of it inside redness, a sour discharge, rash, swelling sexuality as a divine gift and it will start as the pulsing clitoral shaft, urethral and burning. Thrush overgrowth often to take on more spiritual significance. sponge, vestibular or clitoral bulbs and arises due to poor nutrition, antibiotics, Periods of celibacy or experimentation crura or clitoral legs. alcohol, vaginal deodorisers or are normal phases of life. Ayurveda If religion has repressed your sexual diarrhoea, or from an infected source. advises sexual abstinence until the expression, gain a fresh perspective Three steps can stamp out thrush: 20s so one can channel sexual energy from ancient cultures that revered sex as starve it, kill it and replace it. As with an into pursuits of mental and physical sacred. Tantra and Taoism see sexuality unwanted guest, when you stop feeding development. Ayurveda also deems as a prayer to our highest selves. Osho thrush it goes away. Foods to withdraw one emotionally too immature to deal called sex one of the rungs on the ladder from include anything fermented, with the psychological implications and to liberation, a rite that can raise our alcohol, sugar, fruit, mushrooms, responsibilities of a sexual relationship, consciousness to feel connected with cheese, yeast, malt and caffeine. and research shows sexual stimulation all. Union between couples mirrors Xylitol is a natural sweetener that has promotes testosterone production, divine creation, with sexual symbolism been shown to vanquish thrush. Take which can increase hostility and permeating every civilisation, seen plenty of warm water, wholegrains and agitation. Celibacy can be a healthy aid even in ancient cave drawings. Phallic
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Photography Getty Images
SPECIAL REPORT: HEALTH SEX
vegetables with cooking herbs such as thyme, turmeric, sage, oregano and garlic to flush out the fungal foe. Internal antifungals such as neem, myrrh, triphala, pao d’arco and horopito help to kill thrush. Externally, neem or calendula ointment can ease the itch. Internally, you can use boric acid pessaries or insert an unbleached tampon dipped in half a cup of pure yoghurt mixed with five drops of tea-tree oil for an hour once a day until clear. If pregnant, instead of using a tampon, flush the area with one cup of water mixed with one teaspoon of acidophilus powder and three drops of tea-tree oil. To support the return of healthy flora, take Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. rhamnosus or L. plantarum powder. Go commando to reduce damp heat downunder. Wipe front and back separately after evacuating, use a mild tea-tree wash on the area and apply water-based lubricants only. Before sex, get your partner to gargle with Nilstat and wash their genitals with a tea-tree foam or use a condom. Vaginismus When the vaginal “venus flytrap” clamps shut, it’s known as vaginismus. This involuntary muscle contraction prevents penetration or makes it painful. Muscles involved may include the pubococcygeus (PC), levator ani, bulbospongiosus, circumvaginal and perivaginal muscles. Primary vaginismus is when a woman has never been able to have pain-free intercourse and is unable to insert anything without cramping around it. Secondary vaginismus is when a woman who previously enjoyed intercourse suddenly suffers the symptoms. The condition may be caused by a combination of factors including physical abuse, childbirth, painful intercourse caused by things such as endometriosis,
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Sex is inseparable from our mind-body beings. Our sexual expression reﬂects our attitudes, energy, relationships, work, environment — everything. religious conditioning, body issues, anxiety, stress, mistrusting a partner, sexual identity confusion and infections such as vulvar vestibulitis syndrome. According to Ward and Ogden’s vaginismus study, the three most common causes of vaginismus are fear of painful sex, the belief that sex is wrong and traumatic early childhood experiences, with sufferers being twice as likely to have a history of childhood sexual abuse. Sydney sex therapist Matty Silver has helped clients overcome this condition with counselling, education, anxiety reduction, pelvic floor exercises and retraining of the pelvic floor muscles. She maintains, “The treatment of vaginismus involves unlearning the fear-contraction reflex and learning to keep the pelvic floor muscles relaxed during intercourse. Successful treatment does not require drugs, surgery or any complex invasive techniques.” Botox around the vaginal muscles is a new treatment showing promising results; however, the symptoms often return once the Botox wears out. Progressively larger vaginal dilators have been successful in some cases. One can try this at home with gentle treatment. Clip your fingernails and wash your hands. Relax with a massage and bath. Apply a lubricant such as
coconut oil using your pinky finger. Slowly swirl around your labia, edging in closer before inserting then contracting and relaxing your PC muscle around the finger, as if holding in and releasing urine. Next, use two fingers, progressing at your pace to three fingers and eventually a dildo. During intercourse, being on top is the best position to control the angle and rate of penetration; then, once relaxed, try other positions. A willing willy The popularity of the drug Viagra is an indication of how common the problem of erectile dysfunction (ED) is. As many as 18 per cent of men in the US have ED, with a higher rate in men 40 years and older. Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection for penetration. It’s normal to become a little limp when tired, drunk, unaroused, sick or on certain medications. But when the problem persists, addressing the cause can bring back a man’s mojo. Psychological problems contributing to ED include performance anxiety, stress, relationship strain and sexual abuse. Increasing angst around ED can feed the cycle, according to Matty Silver. “They may start avoiding sex or become so traumatised they stop having sex altogether. To break the cycle, they first need to admit there is a problem.” With a supportive sex therapist and partner, they can help their pleasure to flow again. Jacqueline Hellyer advises, “To reach your sexual potential you have to learn to move into the right side of your brain. Ditch the myths that plague you, learn to stay present in your body, feel safe and connected with your partner and surrender to the experience without worry or fear.” Blood flow into the penis is what makes it hard, so anything that impedes circulation can cause ED. This includes diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, smoking and obesity. Low testosterone is also a culprit and can be diagnosed by a blood test, then easily treated. Physicians often prescribe drugs such as Viagra and Cialis, which have temporary success. Vacuum penis pumps à la Austin Powers may give moderate improvement. To maintain an erection, a rubber ring can be placed at the base, but this can create pain and numbness. Eastern medicine teaches the importance of elevating energy to “raise the cobra”. Sexual tonics called vajikaranas in Ayurveda include tribulus, ashwagandha, kapi kachu, urad dal and garlic. Chinese medicine has a range of abominable animal-derived aphrodisiacs
that have involved the torture and murder of many animals. However, the herbal ones such as ginseng, horny goatweed and fo-ti are helpful. Damiana, maca and yohimbe are other wellknown erectile remedies that also boost energy. Enough rest, good nutrition, emotional connection, sensual foreplay, sexual teasing and moderate exercise also give men sexual energy. “Strengthening the PC muscle is one of the greatest secrets a man can know,” says Kerry Riley, author of Sexual Secrets for Men and director of The Australian School of Tantra. This can increase a man’s erectile power and orgasms while preventing premature ejaculation. In Cultivating Male Sexual Energy, Taoist master Mantak Chia advocates the Deer Exercise, along with many other valuable practices. This stimulates circulation, pumps the prostate and increases semen production. Lying, sitting or standing, cup your scrotum with your right hand, then with your left hand two inches below the belly button, massage in clockwise circles 81 times. Tighten your anal muscles as if sucking up air, holding for as long as possible, then stopping and relaxing. Then repeat. Concentrate on what you’re doing, feeling the warmth grow. After a time, you’ll feel a tingling up your spine and “fire stoking your loins”. Lasting longer “My sex life is like a rollercoaster ride. Lots of waiting, then it’s all over in 30 seconds,” joked my patient with premature ejaculation (PE). But beneath the humour lay deep despair that he couldn’t enjoy prolonged intimacy with his partner, and fear she’d leave him because of frustration. This acquired or lifelong plight affects one in three men, with most suffering in embarrassed silence. Acquired premature ejaculation is when men who’ve previously had normal sexual function are unable to last longer than three minutes, while lifelong premature ejaculation is when sex lasts for a minute at most. PE is far from a recent phenomenon. The 1948 Kinsey Report found 80 per cent of men ejaculated within two minutes of penetration, whereas women take about 20 minutes to orgasm. The Hite Report of the 1970s, surveying over 7000 US men, reported 21 per cent of men ejaculated within 60 seconds of vaginal penetration and 62 per cent ejaculated in 1–5 minutes. But why are some men quick-draws while others can hold their arousal over hours? Modern psychology poses that some men are conditioned to come quickly since secretive teenage times. It may also be associated with anxiety, prostatitis, urethritis, hyperthyroidism, erectile dysfunction and neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Drugs associated with PE include amphetamines, cocaine and dopaminergic medication. Though a quickie can be satisfying sometimes, savouring sustained sex builds deeper bliss, according to Eastern sciences. Mantak Chia likens women to water, taking time to heat up, while men are fires that can quickly combust. Premature ejaculation leaves the woman cold and the man depleted. Author of The Tao of Loving, Jolan Chang, agrees. “When a man has ejaculated, it is like letting the air out of a balloon — he feels flat.” Ejaculation control is key to a stronger connection and climax. Also, using special techniques, one can retrain the downward and outward explosive ejaculation to become an imploding inward and upward intrajaculation. Not easy to say or do! But as Mantak Chia explains, “Real sexual fulfilment lies not in feeling the life going out of you but in increasing the awareness of the vital current that flows through the loins.” This conserved force that would normally form new life is then channelled within to renew the whole body. Areas that benefit are said to be the nerves, endocrine glands, bone
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SPECIAL REPORT: HEALTH SEX marrow, brain and immune system. Tantric scholar Sir John Woodruff writes in The Serpent Power, “The force of the sexual centres if directed upwards extraordinarily heightens all mental and physical functioning.” Even when a man does ejaculate he can hold some of it in so the “superfood” is reabsorbed into his body. Science agrees semen is a treasure house of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, hormones, proteins, iron, enzymes and other vital nutritional substances including calcium, albumin, lecithin, phosphorus and nucleoproteins. Interestingly, there are similarities to brain and nerve tissue, areas which Plato, Pythagoras and Eastern rishis believed were nourished by retained semen. They also held that a weak nervous system and depleted energy and brain function were connected to “excessive seed loss”. By working with the sexual muscles, breath and visualisation, ejaculation mastery can be attained. Ultimately, overcoming PE will be to your advantage as you learn to pleasure your partner first and build an enormous charge far superior to a one-minute explosion. Try these tips to last longer: Practise Taoist sexual methods of maintaining an erection and ejaculation control. This fun homework includes self-pleasuring while contracting the pubococcygeal muscle, pressing on the perineum, pulling down the testes, pinching the frenulum and, most importantly, using breathing and visualisation practices to circulate the accumulated energy around the body’s central energy channel. It takes dedication, but most men see results by three months, enjoying the ecstasy of coming together with their partners rather than just coming. (For directions, see Prevent Premature Ejaculation.) Ask your partner not to touch your genitals and go slowly until you’ve pleasured her to orgasm orally, then with penetration. As Jacqueline Hellyer says, “What men love best about sex is their partners’ pleasure. The more pleasure she has, the more pleasure he has.” Having her on top is also less stimulating for men, delaying ejaculation while arousing the woman. Dismiss early ejaculation, continue to enjoy sensual interaction and build your arousal again. Most men last longer the second time. Have sex or masturbate more often, as the longer you abstain the harder it is to contain the energy.
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Use a normal or desensitising condom, the only downside being it can reduce erection and pleasure. Numbing agents also rule out fellatio and may cause allergic reactions. Severance Secret (SS) cream contains nine natural substances that have shown efficacy in controlled studies. It’s only available in Asia and can cause burning in rare cases. As a last resort, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are showing promising results but must be taken daily for 12 weeks before maximal effect is achieved. The positive impact seems to wane after six months.
SATISFYING SEX “When we expand our thinking and beliefs, our love ﬂows freely. When we contract, we shut ourselves oﬀ.” ~ Louise L Hay
PREVENT PREMATURE EJACULATION With the aim to conserve and circulate energy through your body, you can use the following technique to prevent ejaculation. At the point of peak arousal, inhale deeply, place the tip of your tongue on the root of your mouth and tighten the PC muscle. Press ﬁrmly on a soft indent in the perineum located between the scrotum and anus. Exhale, relaxing the anal and genital muscles. If the urge to ejaculate continues, squeeze the frenulum (behind the glans penis) with thumb and foreﬁnger until it subsides. Imagine drawing your sexual energy from your genitals to your heart, stroking from your genitals to your heart. Visualise a warm pink glow ﬂowing from your pelvis up to your heart. You can experience an internal blissful orgasm through this process, which energises rather than depletes. For details, see The Multi Orgasmic Man by Mantak Chia and Douglas Abrams Arava.
If your sex life was spectacular, what would it look and feel like? What’s blocking you from attaining this? Open your perception to greater possibilities and sexual satisfaction will skyrocket. Sexuality shifts through all different stages: suppression, stagnation, exploration and expression. When we understand these transitions we ride the wave of sexuality with calm acceptance. Sex is inseparable from our mindbody beings. Our sexual expression reflects our attitudes, energy, relationships, work, environment — everything. When our love tanks are full, joy overflows to all areas of life. Healthy sex is just one way we can express our tenderness and expand our hearts. The power of satisfying sex can keep couples connected, increase energy, boost immunity, relieve depression, reduce pain, dissolve stress and bring about epiphanies. If we give sexuality the time and attention it needs to blossom, we reap fulfilling benefits that feed our health and happiness. Let’s uproot weed-beliefs that strangle sexual satisfaction and let love flourish. “I’m too busy, tired or sick for sex.” Taking time for a little nookie can increase your energy and health. As the author of Sex Secrets for Busy People, Jacqueline Hellyer, says, “If you’re feeling depleted, have sex and liberate your energy. Make the space and time in your life to make sex happen. It’s all about integrating sex in your life so that sex complements and enhances the rest of your life.” Many people report the miraculous pain-killing effects of sex. Numerous studies show sex can increase immunity and improve mood. And solo sex is just as powerful, with masturbation more effective than medication for some. A “shagadelic” state releases hormones such as testosterone and progesterone, which relieve PMT, elevates mood to orgasmic heights, increases immune-boosting
immunoglobulin A and gives a healthy glow that healing Tao expert Maneewan Chia calls her “best beauty aid”. Sex doesn’t have to be an aerobic workout to satisfy. The slow, sensual full-body experience can be even more nourishing than a wham-bam bonk. Tender touch bonds couples and eases issues, as sex therapist Dr Sandra Scantling explains: “Sexual closeness is the body’s emotional fuel.” According to sexologist Dr Rudolf von Urban in Sex, Perfection and Marital Happiness, just lying together touching, naked and still for 30 minutes has been shown to improved relationships, insomnia, high blood pressure, irritability, ulcers and other health problems. This sexual bonding creates a resonance effect called “entrainment” that brings about deep healing for both partners. In their healing love workshops, Diane and Kerry Riley teach the Daily Devotion practice whereby couples lie still with genitals, lips and limbs connected for at least five minutes morning and evening. The participants’ response was that it helped them to heal daily disharmony, energise, relax and improve their moods. Some therapists have found that union with a loving partner or oneself in the right circumstances can heal frigidity, quell anxiety, release trauma from touch deprivation or abuse and overcome feelings of negative self-esteem, timidity and alienation. The emotional benefits of sexuality were evident in one study that found men who masturbated regularly were less prone to bouts of depression. Sexual dissatisfaction was also prevalent in a high percentage of patients before a heart attack, according to research by Dr Paul Pearsall. Jacqueline Hellyer says, “Having sex can often be like getting to the gym — you know it’s good for you, you know you’ll feel better for doing it, but ... it’s still hard to get there in the first place!” So next time, think, “I’m too busy, tired or sick NOT to have sex," because it might shift your state to a more pleasurable paradigm. “My partner can’t pleasure me.” Most couples enjoy a passionate honeymoon phase. As our lusty fires temper over time, true sexual patterns emerge. Sexual discontent may arise for many reasons, including mismatched libidos, boredom, body image issues, negative emotions, poor sexual skills, stress, depression, disease and medications. Many relationships break up because they don’t address these issues early. Matty Silver says, “My advice is start fixing the issues before it’s too late.” Are you worth fighting for? First, be responsible for your own erotic energy. Optimising vitality through good nutrition, adequate sleep and exercise will build reserve energy for sex. Not only does exercise increase self-esteem, but a study of 78 sedentary men at California University in the US found that a nine-month exercise regime increased libido, frequency of sex by 30 per cent and orgasm by 36 per cent. Pelvic floor exercises as taught in Pilates will also heighten enjoyment and increase stamina for both partners. If you’re one of the many women who can’t orgasm, learn what arouses you via self-service. Author of Women’s Anatomy of Arousal Sheri Winston says, “Solo sex is your rehearsal hall, your learning laboratory and your practice space. It’s your selfserve bar and your self-love spa. If you don’t love yourself well, in all aspects including sexually, it’s hard to be a great partner and lover to others.” She advises, “Enhance your breathing and you’ll augment your arousal and your climax will be bigger and better. Say ‘yes’ to pleasure, ‘yes’ to getting wilder, ‘YES’ to going further than you thought you could.” If you take a while to get hot compared to your lover, you may like to start solo before the duet. Bear in mind that only
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SPECIAL REPORT: HEALTH about 25 per cent of women can may experience erectile problems orgasm through penetration alone, and arousal can take more time.” so ask your partner to expand their These issues can be overcome repertoire. Says sex therapist and with options such as bio-identical relationship coach Cyndi Darnell, HRT, phyto-oestrogens like soy, “[We’re] fed that intercourse is the lubricants, ginseng, Viagra and main course, but it’s potentially the therapies for erectile dysfunction. least satisfying aspect.” Men can remain virile for life, as Communication is lubrication, exemplified by Pablo Picasso, who so share your likes and dislikes fathered a child in his nineties. with your partner — they’re not Some say sex gets better after a mind reader. “The bedroom is menopause. The kids have left for expression, not suppression. home, work stress has passed and Surrender to pleasure and expand there’s confidence in giving and your sexual smorgasbord,” receiving pleasure without fear of encourages Hellyer. “Explore varied pregnancy. Love psychologist Helen “Young women often aren’t positions, places, props, clothes, Fisher agrees. “Young women often sensory arousal and deprivation, relaxed enough to have an orgasm. aren’t relaxed enough to have an erotic massage, fetishes, restraint, orgasm. Older women know what Older women know what they role plays, erotic talk and stories, they like and will tell you.” Also at like and will tell you.” taking photos, movies, erotic shows, menopause, Fisher says, “levels film, threesomes ...” Build the sexual of oestrogen recede, unmasking “Old people aren’t sexual.” charge by sexting with the Snapchat the power of testosterone. This allows Sexual desire needn't diminish with age, app, which deletes messages in women to be more assertive and according to a survey of over 3000 US seconds. Learn massage, enjoy a tantric demanding, and many become more adults aged 57 to 85, which revealed getaway or take online classes such interested in sex.” up to 75 per cent of those questioned as Sheri Winston’s e-lessons for erotic Studies have shown that physical remain sexually active. Stacy Tessler empowerment (intimateartscenter.com/ capacity for male erection and male Lindau of Chicago University, who led shop/downloadwebinars). and female orgasms continues almost the study, remarked, “Individuals who If you’re the initiator of sex, try to indefinitely. Research has also uncovered remain sexually active gain the benefit be more understanding. If you’re the that senior sexual practices are varied, of the physical exercise that comes with distancer, try to be more affectionate. including masturbation and oral sex, sex. It’s also possible the endorphins “It’s important to stop blaming each with satisfaction often increasing rather released by orgasms give a general other; both of you are missing out on than decreasing with age. sense of wellbeing. The psychological a good sex life,” says Matty Silver. “When Jacqueline Hellyer sees seniors in benefits of being loved and cared for also you forgive each other for past hurts her sex therapy practice and recalls trickle over to physical health.” and misunderstandings, you can start one man likening the path to passion Ageing does change the body, to improve your situation, but you have to a Kilamanjaro walk. “There’s though, as Matty Silver explains. to change your attitudes and behaviours normally a lot of ‘undoing’ to be done “Women start to experience and work to re-establish intimacy.” to move forward sexually,” she says. menopausal changes such as vaginal Sheri Winston says desire grows with “They have to overcome the years of dryness,” she says. “The vaginal lining intimacy. “Something simple to increase complacency, misunderstandings, thins and sometimes intercourse your libido is to have more sex. Take time unvoiced expectations and swallowed becomes uncomfortable. Libido and to engage in the behaviors you naturally hurts, to be able to come to a place of sexual self-esteem may decrease, did when you first fell in love: eye gazing, commonality from where they can stand and for both men and women it often interested attention, lots of touching, firm together, hand in hand, looking in takes longer to have an orgasm. Men deep, wet kisses. One option when one the same direction. Then the intimacy, partner is feeling randy and the other eroticism and true desire can begin.” isn’t is for the uninterested partner to Enjoy the climb and the view from I’LL HAVE WHAT lovingly hold and encourage the desirous the peak! SHE’S HAVING one while they self-pleasure.” A simple way to absorb your partner’s WITH THANKS No matter how technically good a energy is with muscle contraction, Mantak Chia, universal-tao.com lover is, without heart, sex will soon feel breath and visualisation. Cyndi Darnell, cyndidarnell.com empty. The measure of a successful With tongues and genitals Jacqueline Hellyer, sexual experience is not the number connected, on inhalation contract your jacquelinehellyer.com of orgasms achieved but the degree to PC muscle and visualise energy ﬂowing Diane and Kerry Riley, which one’s heart and awareness expand up your genitals, spine, head, tongue to australianschooloftantra.com.au to love more. Tantric teacher Kerry tummy. Then, breathing out through Matty Silver, mattysilver.com.au Riley feels that “during lovemaking the the mouth, feel the energy spread Sheri Winston, intimateartscenter.com challenge for men is how much deep through your entire being. Remain intimacy and love they can feel”. Rather relaxed and hold the energy within, Caroline Robertson is a naturopath who has studied than think of sex as a stop/start event, Tantra in India and Taoism in Thailand. For healing resisting orgasm until the charge has see it as an ongoing process of loving holidays, consultations or guided meditations, see accumulated to an overﬂowing level. carolinerobertson.com.au. interaction with oneself and the other.
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PARENTING CHILDREN & SWEARING
Language may offend When kids use swear words they might simply be experimenting or just copying what they’ve heard — but they need to learn there’s a time and place for effing and blinding. WORDS / CARROL BAKER
hen Dee’s toddler Lachlan put his hands on hips and told his older sibling he was a little bum bum head, Dee had to try to keep a straight face and stifle a giggle. While it might tickle your funny bone when your youngster innocently uses language like this, it’s no laughing matter when an ever-increasing number of kids trot out swear words that would make a hip-hop gangsta blush. Professor Timothy Jay, a psychological scientist who has extensively studied the science of taboo words and swearing, says these days kids can begin swearing by the age of two and by the time they start school most have a repertoire of around 30 to 40 colourful or offensive words. If children are very young, they might use swear words because they are experimenting with language. According to Warren Cann, a psychologist and director of Raising Children Network, children might mispronounce a word or copy words they’ve heard. “Sometimes they don’t even know its meaning — just that they definitely do get a reaction when they say it,” he says. Young children are also fascinated by bodily functions so many, like Lachlan, might experiment with mild toilet humour, using names like “farty face” or “pooper head”. It’s something they’ll grow out of. As for older kids, well, some slip in the occasional swear word to look cool
in front of their peers, or to conform, or they might just be repeating what they see as acceptable language they’ve heard at home, on television or on social media. And that is the crux of the problem.
A CURSING CULTURE “You silly bugger!” “You bloody ripper!” On any given Saturday at the sidelines of a kids’ footy match, or even at a seniors get-together at the RSL over a few beers, you’ll hear colourful language bandied about. Some language experts say swearing is part of what it is to be an Aussie. Professor of linguistics Kate Burridge says swearing is part of our cultural identity and its origins go back a long way. “Early settlement defined much of the spoken language — the convict slang, the language of whalers and sailors,” she says. Fast-forward a couple of hundred years and who could forget bikiniclad Laura Bingle in a 2008 Tourism Australia advertisement asking potential holiday makers, “Where the bloody hell are you?” Interestingly, the language used in the ad didn’t impress overseas viewers. Advertisers pulled the plug on it because, two years on, it hadn’t increased tourist numbers and some even found it offensive.
HAS BUGGER LOST ITS BITE? Have we become unshockable? Or do we just have a much more laidback
approach to language than those in other countries? Linguistic experts like Professor Burridge say we’re exposed to more cursing because the new millennium has a much more casual approach to living. “A general informality is creeping around the world,” she says. “This includes informal language — warts and all — so we are seeing swearing in the public arena much more than ever before.” Indeed, some might argue popular culture promotes the use of profanity. Plug into social media sites or flick on the TV and you’ll see and hear a plethora of swear words and bad language. In fact, 2013’s Wolf of Wall Street broke an all-time record for the most profanities uttered during the course of a movie. The F-bomb is used 506 times — an average of 2.81 times per minute. Teen novels are also rife with rude words. In a new study out of the US, Brigham Young University’s Professor Sarah Coyne analysed the use of profanity in 40 teen bestsellers. On average the novels contained 38
Professor of linguistics Kate Burridge says swearing is part of our cultural identity and its origins go back a long way — the convict slang, the language of whalers and sailors. instances of swearing. Perhaps even more interesting is that the study explored just who was doing all the cussing. Those who swore the most between the pages were not the stereotypical “bad guys” but the popular, attractive kids. Increasing public profanity is also creeping into clever little commodity names — though it’s subtle, many are a play on swear words. Nucking Futs, a brand of nuts, went on the market in 2012 but no Australians launched complaints with the Australian Trademarks Office. Then there’s FCUK, or French Connection, a UK-based global retailer. The company was taken to court but a judge ruled the word “not immoral”, comparing it to T-shirt brand King Cnut.
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PARENTING CHILDREN & SWEARING
ZIP YOUR LIPS Before parents point their fingers at multimedia for their kid’s trashy talk, however, they need to do a little soul searching. According to a survey of more than 670 parents by Raising Children Network, more than 40 per
A ‘DIFFERENT’ KIND OF LANGUAGE Did you know the language of swearing or profanity is rather unique? This is because it’s housed in a diﬀerent part of the brain from other language. Professor Burridge says this language storage phenomenon is well documented. “All the neurological and neuro-linguistic evidence points to the fact that swearing and swear words are either accessed or at least stored diﬀerently in the brain,” she says. Interestingly, this is probably why some patients with Alzheimer’s, brain injuries or other disabilities may readily recall swear words but struggle with other language.
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cent of respondents said they swear every day. But 99 per cent of parents believed it was unacceptable for children to swear. And therein lies the rub: kids will copy their parents. “The words you hear used at home are generally the words that you’ll use for self-expression,” says Cann. “When parents swear, kids will almost always automatically model these behaviours.” If you don’t want your offspring to swear, both parents also need to be on the same page. It won’t work if one parent condones a child’s occasional language slip-up and the other doesn’t. Consistency is the key.
FAMILY VALUES It’s up to parents to decide what is and isn’t acceptable language for their children to use. In some homes, words that might seem fairly innocuous to some are banned and kids are punished for using them; in others, dropping the occasional “sh#!” or “@*#!hole” barely raises an eyebrow. Even with tight parental controls on TV and multimedia, children will still be exposed to hearing swear words — in the schoolyard, at the bus stop or in shopping centres, for example. Most parents want to protect their kids from foul language but, unless you live inside
Older kids swear to look cool in front of their peers or they might be repeating what they see as acceptable language they’ve heard at home, on TV or on social media. a bubble or on a far-flung desert island, it’s just not possible. But there is good news. Because swearing and more casual language in general are so prolifically entrenched in modern-day culture, being exposed to bad language isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Professor Burridge says it helps children gain a wider understanding of the situations in which certain language should be used — and if at all. “Kids have to learn to make decisions on what sort of language is appropriate and acceptable in different circumstances,” she says. Whether or not swearing is accepted in your family, kids need to know there is a swearing etiquette. Professor Timothy Jay says this is the appropriate “who, what, where and when” of swearing. Use taboo language indiscriminately and it does have an impact.
Then, even less subtle, are the countless throw pillows, bumper stickers and more that give the thumbsup (and sometimes other fingers too) to coarse language.
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PARENTING CHILDREN & SWEARING
STAMPING OUT SWEARING IN PUBLIC Despite the proliferation of profanity in everyday language and its colourful colonial origins, it’s illegal to swear in public in some states. For example, in NSW the premier has said the use of harsh language in public will be met with even harsher on-the-spot penalties — the recent change is three times the previous penalty. If you swear in a public place in NSW, you can be hit with a hefty $500 ﬁne by police oﬃcers.
BREAKING THE SWEARING HABIT If your child is swearing, sit them down for a chat about why their language isn’t appropriate. For very young children, don’t go into too much detail or offer an explanation of what the word means if they are too young to understand. Explain to your child that their choice of words isn’t acceptable. Just say that was not a nice word to call your friend or that when we’re angry we don’t say that word. Warren Cann says, above all, try to remain calm and relaxed. “Keep a neutral expression on your face — and try not to react,” he says. “If you laugh, get angry or look shocked, your child soon learns the words they have used are powerful — and they’ll be more likely to repeat them.” For preteens, letting them know what the word means might even be enough to encourage them to stop. But by far the biggest deterrent for swearing for preteens and older kids is to not only watch your own language but have an open honest dialogue with the children about family values and attitudes. Cann says parents need to talk to them about what is acceptable language in your family and why. “If parents only rely on a catch-and-punish modality, kids
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Whether or not swearing is acceptable in your family, kids need to know there is deﬁnitely a swearing etiquette. Use taboo language indiscriminately and it does have an impact. will just learn to swear outside of the home,” he says. And when you do see your child doing the right thing by using appropriate language and handling frustrating situations without swearing, let them know you’ve noticed.
ANGER CUES Kids need to know it’s OK to feel angry; what’s not OK is to lash out verbally or physically. Just like physical aggression, verbal aggression directed towards others is unacceptable and there should be zero tolerance. Cann says behavioural issues that involve verbal aggression need to be nipped in the bud very early on. “Otherwise, by the time kids reach their early teenage years, if they habitually call their mother names when they’re feeling frustrated, for example, it’s a challenging behaviour to break,” he says. Encourage your child to deal with their anger in positive ways, to remove themselves from the situation or to use
ATTITUDE CHECK If you are struggling to get your child to stop swearing, you might need to dig a little deeper to find out why they’re using bad language. Is there an ingrained pattern of behaviour or aggression towards one person or group that might mean unresolved issues or problems you as a parent are unaware of? Could there be underlying issues that your child harbours such as racism or sexism? For example, Cann says if your child uses the word “bitch” in certain circumstances that might reveal how they feel towards certain groups such as women or gays. Carrol Baker is a freelance journalist who writes for lifestyle and health magazines across Australia.
The bottom line with swearing is, if your child sprinkles their language with words that might offend at the wrong time and in the wrong place, it places them squarely in the crosshairs of those who may choose to pass judgement.
more appropriate and acceptable words. And, while words like “golly gosh”, “darn it” and “bollocks” might be more socially acceptable to vent frustration or anger, they all seem to somehow lack a little ... well, oomph. So what about making up a word or two your kids can use? If your child drops the occasional clanger, here are some alternatives: “Son of a biscuit”, “What the frog”, “Eat soap” or “Go lick a duck”. Perhaps you could even get together with the kids and share a bit of a giggle while you make up some humorous venting words together — it might help to replace their anger with a smile. Some families also have a place for unedited self-expression, a physical location such as the family bathroom where everyone in the family can say what they like — including otherwise taboo words. Cann says this idea is a safe option to let go of built-up emotions: “Kids and parents can go and let it all out when they feel overwhelmed and agitated.”
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IN YOUR DREAMS Do you get the feeling your dreams are trying to tell you something? Discover how to decipher the secret language of your subconscious. WORDS / ANGELINE MELOCHE
reams shift and dance. They mould themselves into scenarios of wonder and terror. They delight and amaze, amuse and frighten. They are never the same and yet always the same in the way they manifest themselves in our lives,” writes Ted Andrews, author of Dream Alchemy. There is no doubt that dreams serve a unique purpose in our lives. At times, dreams are the portal through which truths surface from deep within the subconscious. Other times, dreams carry messages of specific guidance or warnings in the form of terrible nightmares. Pay attention to your nightmares and you will realise they contain powerful messages, designed to get your attention when all else has failed. Dreams can show you where you need healing and where you are being led astray. They are no accident. What at first seems random or nonsensical is, in fact, the genius creation of your subconscious. Once you realise how your dreams work and are willing to look at them, you can unlock their secrets and decipher their hidden messages. If your dreams are scatty and disjointed, or if you simply can’t remember them, the reason is most likely that you haven’t been paying attention. Direct your attention to your dreams and they will become more vivid and memorable. That’s your subconscious saying, “Finally, she’s paying attention!”
Photography Getty Images
THE ART OF INTERPRETATION Did you know that by the end of your life you will have spent approximately six years dreaming? For something we do so much, it’s surprising how little importance we ascribe to our dreams. “Dreams are a part of our lives. And as with all life functions they serve a purpose,” observes Andrews. The purpose of dreams can at first seem shadowy. Most research focuses on what happens to your brain while you’re asleep, rather than on the significance of the dreams themselves. Dreams can also serve multiple purposes. While one dream portends the future, another offers a valuable insight into the drama of your waking life. Dream interpretation always takes into account what’s going on for you at the time. Take the example of a dream I had recently, in which the famous Oprah Winfrey invited me over for dinner. Finding my way to her home, I was surprised to discover she lived in a small, tastefully decorated apartment.
The main feature of Oprah’s home was a long wooden dinner table, around which sat a mix of lively, totally unpretentious dinner guests. I was struck by the warmth and intimacy of the scene and felt instantly at ease. This dream was significant because at the time I had been experiencing something of a personal crisis. Was it possible, I asked myself, to be a successful woman without sacrificing my feminine nature? Would success mean disposing of my love for people? Oprah, a successful woman with soul, appeared to me as a symbolic character to demonstrate that success and femininity were by no means mutually exclusive. If I wanted, said my clever subconscious, I could have both.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING Before the 1960s, sleep was considered to be a state in which the brain simply “switched off” for the night. Then scientists began to measure brainwave activity and discovered that the brain is equally as active, if not more so, during sleep as during waking life, consuming vast amounts of energy for its processes.
the stage, bringing you guidance and messages from deep within.
DREAM SYMBOLISM Dreams have a way of showing you things. Totally unlike the way we normally communicate, ie through language, dreams communicate through symbols. Symbols are especially potent because they are the language of the collective. They are the universal language that all people innately understand. As a race of interconnected beings, our collective consciousness is populated by archetypal symbols that bear a similar meaning for all of us. Among the easiest symbols to interpret are the archetypal figures we recognise from our shared mythology: kings and queens, tricksters, damsels, warriors, fools. Other symbols take the form of powerful objects, such as the dagger, chalice, shield or crown. Once I dreamed I was window shopping when I came across a beautiful magician’s cloak. The cloak, made of thick velvet the colour of midnight blue, seemed to shimmer and call to me from the shop window. Standing on the pavement, I wondered if I dared to go inside and try
While one dream portends the future, another oﬀers a valuable insight into the drama of your waking life. The period of highest brainwave activity is the dream state, known as rapid eye movement or REM. During this stage the muscles of the body are effectively paralysed while the eyes can be seen moving about wildly under the eyelids as though they are literally tracking the action of the dream. Every hour or so while you’re asleep, you enter the REM state and dream intensely for about 15 minutes. During these relatively brief intervals you can have anything from one to several dreams, often in a series relating to a particular theme. “The various dreams in a single night or a single week may simply be different in their form but not in the underlying message,” says Andrews. “The subconscious mind may be communicating the same message to you in different ways to make sure you do receive the message.” Your subconscious mind is a bit like the director of a movie, casting familiar props and characters to communicate a specific theme to you. Once your conscious mind is out of the way, the subconscious effectively takes
it on. Was I worthy of such a cloak? The dream revealed a powerful, enchanted aspect of myself trying to emerge. Animals are also likely to show up in your dreams. Typically a relationshipphobe, I recently dreamed of standing with my beloved on the edge of a deep-blue sea filled with wondrous sea creatures. We both feared “taking the plunge” in case of sharks — symbolic of our deepest fears of togetherness. Frightening creatures such as wolves and bears are also common symbols of fear, while other creatures represent all manner of characteristics. To interpret your dream, the first step is to realise what the symbolic imagery means to you and then to relate the metaphor to your waking life. As Andrews explains, “Anyone wishing to make the most of the dream alchemy must learn to work with symbology. It is the language of the unconscious mind. Symbols are the only way the unconscious mind has to communicate with the conscious aspect of ourselves.” As on the set of a fantasy film, the characters and props of your dreams have all been cast for a reason. Once
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SPIRIT DREAMS you begin to pay attention you will gain skill in deciphering the meaning. “To understand symbols is to understand ourselves,” observes Andrews. “They provide the clues to our deep-rooted, instinctive actions and capabilities. They help us to understand what the basis is for our beliefs, superstitions and fears.”
While dream interpretation often requires a bit of artistry and lateral thinking, it’s usually a lot of fun. You may also notice your dreams will change if you share your living space with someone else. It’s not unusual to report being visited by another person’s spirit while sleeping, even over long distances. Recently an old friend, Anna, phoned me excitedly from halfway across the country. “I just had a dream that you were pregnant,” she said, demanding to know if it was true. Laughing, I told her she was close — I wasn’t pregnant, but I had just enrolled to study midwifery. I guess my etheric self just couldn’t wait to share the news!
ACTIVE DREAMING Have you ever woken up inside a dream? One moment you’re flying through the air and the next you’re thinking, “Hang on, this can’t be real!” The phenomenon of “lucid” dreaming occurs when your conscious mind intervenes in the dream, attempting to reassert its concept of reality. But which reality is more real?
Your subconscious mind is a bit like the director of a movie, casting familiar props and characters to communicate a speciﬁc theme to you. Some believe our dreams are every bit as real as waking life. Among shamanic cultures, for instance, dreams represent a separate reality in which you can walk unencumbered by the confines of earthly life. While dreaming, you are as light as a spirit, free to do anything and go anywhere, even to explore other etheric worlds. Our world, many shamans believe, is simply one of many coexisting worlds. We experience ourselves in this reality, on planet Earth, because our consciousness is designed to limit our perceptions. One proponent of this view was the famous author Carlos Castaneda, who spent years under the tutelage of a Yaqui Indian sorcerer, Don Juan. In one of his books, The Art of Dreaming, Castaneda is being instructed by Don Juan on how to achieve what he calls “dreaming awareness” so he can wake up inside the dream and move freely within the other worlds. To do this, Don Juan tells Castaneda, “You must start by doing something very simple. Tonight, in your dreams, you must look at your hands.” The first step, as Don Juan instructs, is to set a powerful intention before you go to sleep, to wake up inside the dream and find a specific object — in this case, Castaneda’s own hands. While this sounds simple, it took Castaneda six months of constant nightly attempts before he was finally able to wake up inside the dream and look at his hands. As he tells it, “My first attempts to look for my hands in my dreams were a fiasco. After months
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of unsuccessful efforts, I gave up and complained to Don Juan about the absurdity of such a task.” Laughing, Don Juan revealed to Castaneda that the challenge of dreaming was much more formidable than this simple task. Finding his hands, said Don Juan, was only the first of “seven gates” Castaneda would have to pass through if he wanted to learn to dream with the mastery of a true sorcerer.
DARE TO DREAM? Your dreams hold the keys to your secret fears and desires. Sometimes a dream comes in the form of a parody or farce to show you the absurdity of your actions. Once I dreamed a prince tried to woo me with the gift of a big souped-up ride-on mower. It was the tackiest gift I could possibly imagine! Clearly, the dream was making a joke about how easily I was fooled by superficialities. Another night I dreamed my favourite healer, Katherine Bright, was cooking up a magical potion in an enormous cauldron. When it was ready she poured the brew over my bare feet, saying, “This will remove the lead from your legs.” I instantly felt lighter and went skipping off down the beach. In my waking world I had been feeling bogged down by the demands of life. Bright appeared to show me that a simple healing could lighten the load whenever I needed it. Do you see how it works? Your dreams are intensely personal, perfectly constructed by your higher self — and they can only be interpreted by you.
One way to heighten your dreams, as outlined in The Honey Revolution, is to simply consume a teaspoon of honey before bedtime. While the body is resting, the brain is extremely active and needs a steady supply of glycogen (stored glucose) from the liver to function properly. Glycogen is an important fuel for the brain and is steadily depleted throughout the night as the brain enters its high-intensity REM dream state. Honey, a natural source of glucose, is very effective at replenishing the liver’s glycogen supply. As the authors observe, “The most common and interesting anecdotes reported from those who consume a tablespoon or two of honey before bedtime relate to dreams and dream recall. Dreams are more vivid, intense and colourful.” The brain, which is intensely active while you’re asleep, needs a high-energy fuel source that won’t result in digestive stress for the body. Absorbed rapidly by the body, honey supplies the brain with a steady fuel supply through the night. “Folks who believe the ‘Do not eat before bedtime’ myth do themselves a great disservice,” say the authors. “Sleep is a high-energy enterprise for the brain. Therefore, it’s essential that the brain be provided with enough glycogen for fuel to last throughout the eight hours of the night fast. Fuelling the liver with honey before bedtime fuels the brain.” Something as simple as consuming a spoonful of honey before bed not only results in better and more vivid dreams, but also a better night’s sleep. Angeline Meloche is an advocate of holistic health and spirituality and the founding author of goodnessbyangeline.wordpress.com. E: email@example.com
A SPOONFUL OF HONEY
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HOME GREEN WALLS
Up, up & away Green walls are a wonderful way to incorporate a natural living element into your home, particularly if you are short on space. Not only do they look spectacular, they also help to create a sense of balance by encouraging airflow, biodiversity and biophilia. WORDS / KATE MCKEE
A MIND–BODY–NATURE CONNECTION Green walls help to encourage biophilia, which is our natural human connection with nature and other living things. Just being in the vicinity of living plants can make you feel more connected to the Earth. “Plants beautify and modify the environment in a way that improves a person’s feeling of wellbeing and their ability to cope with stress, to relax and to feel connected to the natural world,” says Patrick Belford, garden designer at garden design and installation firm Inner City Nature. “Studies show that people react in a more moderate and mindful way to stressful stimuli when they have plants in their environment. “Plants provide a low-stress and non-demanding pastime in their care and watering, which is an outlet for meditation and nurturing,” he explains.
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PRACTICAL & POSITIVE ECOLOGICAL IMPACT A green wall has many worthwhile benefits through the creation of a more environmentally conscious living environment. It can help clean the air you breathe, create a barrier against noise pollution and encourage the flow of natural biodiversity. “When placed inside, green walls can help reduce noise levels, as the plants in the green wall block high-frequency sounds and the structure it is built on can help reduce low-frequency noise,” explains Mark Paul, horticulturalist and founder of The Greenwall Company. Installing a green wall in your home can also help to reduce your energy
A green wall can help clean the air you breathe, create a barrier against noise pollution and encourage the ﬂow of natural biodiversity. consumption costs as it provides a natural source of insulation. “In the warmer months [green walls] help to cool the air and in the cooler months they help keep the cool air out, which can reduce heating and cooling costs,” says Paul. This in turn assists in reducing the “urban heat-island effect”, whereby heated stone and brickwork gradually increase city temperatures from reradiated heat. Another added benefit of green walls is they are water efficient due to the drip-irrigation system they use. Water drips down through the top plants to the bottom, where it is either drained away or pumped back up to begin the cycle again, meaning little water is wasted. Plants can also purify somewhat
polluted water, such as greywater, so it can be reused. Outdoor plant walls trap airborne dust particles, absorb pollutants and increase local humidity, which can encourage beneficial insects and birds to visit.
INTERIOR SPACES Incorporating a green wall into your interior living space not only creates a stunning visual impact, but can actually make your home environment a healthier one as well. “Introducing plants into your home has a number of benefits,” explains Belford. “Plants are very powerful in recycling the air within an interior space. Plants and the soil the plants grow in lock away VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are offgassed from furniture and fittings within the built environment.” Plants do vary in their capabilities of filtering the air, however, so it does help to have an idea of what you are seeking to filter out. Given the amount of time we spend indoors these days, it’s worth thinking about what you are breathing in. “In our modern lives we spend around 95 per cent of our time indoors,” says Chinese medicine practitioner and building biologist Lucinda Curran (ecohealthsolutions.com.au). “Given that our buildings are meeting energyefficient criteria, we are effectively building homes and workplaces that are like being inside a plastic bag. In some cases, the indoor air can be up to 10 times more polluted than the outdoor air. “Our indoor air tends to be polluted by air fresheners, pesticides, offgassing of furniture, cleaning and laundry products, personal-care products and more. Often ventilation is inadequate, too,” Curran adds. “The introduction of plants can help to clean the air and increase relative humidity
o first things first: what is a green wall exactly? A green wall is a vertical garden, a system that attaches plants to vertical surfaces. Don’t get green walls mixed up with green façades, however. Green façades are made up of climbing plants, such as ivy, that grow directly on a wall from the ground. A green wall uses either soil or an inorganic growing medium to support the plants and allow them to grow on the wall itself. The wall structure is typically composed of four elements: a framework, the growing medium, the plants and an irrigation system. Green walls can also be referred to as bio walls, eco walls, living walls or vertical gardens. They can be installed either inside or outside a building, where the plant selection will differ depending on the wall’s location and surrounding environment.
HOME GREEN WALLS
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HOME GREEN WALLS levels to a ‘safer level’ where microbes are less likely to prosper.”
If you like the idea of a kitchen garden, try an edible green wall. Hardy herbs such as thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary are perfect, particularly for up the top of your green wall, as they don’t need as much water as other varieties. With a living wall made of herbs you also get the bonus of the amazing scent they exude.
EXTERIOR SPACES Exterior green walls are perfect for covering up an ugly wall and giving your outdoor area a visually enticing burst of green — without taking up any space. They can act as a barrier to street noise or as a living privacy screen, or can be used to divide different living zones. They can help provide shade from the sun or protection from the wind and can be added to any flat surface, including walls, fences or even your roof. “Green walls are beautiful and act as a living art piece; they really bring life to any building, room or wall they are installed on,” says Paul. In recent years, with the cost of city living soaring, it’s no secret that the size of the quintessential Australian home is being reduced. Living areas are often open-plan and multipurpose and the good old Aussie backyard is now more often than not a small box-like balcony or courtyard. Smaller living zones mean less room for plants as they can take up too much precious floor space. Adding a green wall to a modest outdoor area is an ideal way to incorporate a live element to your space without reducing your living or entertaining quarters.
DIFFERENT TYPES & STYLES The practical nature of the green wall, in addition to its aesthetic and environmental benefits, means you won’t find yourself short of different varieties of living walls to incorporate into your home. Green walls come in a vast array of different styles, designs and plant types. They can be made to measure to fit your own unique environment and meet your needs. “There’s a number of different types of green walls and a number of companies producing different systems,” says garden designer Belford, who prefers a modular system as you can change individual plants when you feel like something new. “There are other systems that work using a feltmatting system, which is laid over the wall and the plants are either stapled to it or inserted in pockets. This is good as they sit flat to a wall but are more difficult to maintain if there are problems with plant losses. “There are also systems that use standard pots arranged in a structure over the wall, but I personally think they look a bit daggy. Arranging the plants
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VISUAL IMPACT The size or shape of a green wall can be whatever works for your space but, if you want to create a wall that doubles as a living artwork, composition is key to creating and maintaining texture and visual interest. “A green wall for me is about the visual display of the plants,” says Belford. “The integration of the movement of colour, texture and form and how it moves throughout the composition is a make or break in how well it will be received. “If the plant material creates drifts of pattern and texture through the wall, the eye will be excited and soothed and this will create a more positive experience for the viewer and the surrounding environment.” like soldiers in rows or blocks can be boring for the eye.” There are literally thousands of appropriate plant species that can be used for your green wall, so you won’t have any trouble sourcing a variety you like. “There are around 60,000 species of appropriate plants,” says horticulturist Paul. “None is terrestrial (grown from the ground) and all are either epiphytic or lithophytic (grown in or on rocks and trees), emanating from all over the world. Some examples of these are orchids, bromeliads, begonias and gesneriads.” For interior walls, Belford recommends easy-care indoor plants from the tropics, such as spathiphyllum, aglaonema, calathea and philodendron. For outside walls, a variety of succulents such as echeveria, sedums and crassula can look stunning. Liriopes, small hebe varieties and daisy bushes can all work well, depending on your local environment. Plants with water-holding stems and leaves, like pelargonium, begonia, peperomia and columnea, are a good idea if you’re not big on maintenance or live in a dry climate. Plants with water-holding roots such mondo grass, dwarf agapanthus, ribbon plant and philodendron work brilliantly in this way as well.
POTENTIAL DRAWBACKS The only drawback to a green wall comes down to expenses and work — which is often a drawback to many things, if truth be told. According to Belford, “Setting up a green wall can be expensive, particularly if it is inside, as there will be plumbing and maybe some engineering required to safely install something that requires water in an interior.” The green wall can also be expensive to replace if it fails, as dead plants are messy and don’t smell the best. Dead plants can also cause pest problems, says Belford. “This will also have a negative impact on the psyche. No plants are better than sick or dead plants.” As with any living thing, a green wall needs the proper care and environment to thrive. Even if it uses the hardiest of plants, it needs to be set up in the right surrounds. “You must have power, water and light for your green wall to grow,” adds Paul. “If not enough natural light is available for the wall to grow, lighting must be added to the wall — which can sometimes cost as much or more than the green wall itself!” All green walls should be on a fussfree and water-efficient automatic irrigation system and be monitored and adjusted throughout the year. Any problems with pests should be spotted
HOME GREEN WALLS
Photography Bigstock & iStock
Studies show that people react in a more moderate and mindful way to stressful stimuli when they have plants in their environments. and troubleshot early on to prevent extra work and potential casualties. Says Belford, “Interior green walls are particularly susceptible to insect attack, which can create havoc for the wall. Overwatering is a common cause of insect infestation, so monitoring is important. The wall will also need trimming, feeding and some plant replacement throughout the year to keep it fresh. About a 5 per cent loss of plants per year from a wall is to be expected.”
DIY VS PROFESSIONAL INSTALLATION Depending on the type and scale of wall you want to create, you can DIY your own green wall. There are many
tutorials on the net about how to do so, as well as a number of kits you can buy from your local nursery or garden centre. If you want to install an irrigation system or lighting features or are not sure about what plants are suited to your surrounds, professional help may be worthwhile in the long run. “Green walls are ideally designed, installed and maintained by a professional,” says Belford. “For a green wall to be successful, the plant selection has to be perfect for the location and conditions, more so than in most other gardening scenarios. Intimate knowledge of plants will enable the most immediate and impressive result in the short and long term.”
If your wall is inside or outside, you do need to consider its aspect. “Whether it is by a sunny window or receives only filtered light, this has an enormous bearing on what plants are required,” Belford continues. “The installation needs to be done in a way that provides for easy maintenance over the life of the wall, so the irrigation system reaches all plants, and so the plants are positioned in a way that grows into a harmonious, artistic display.” Kate McKee is a freelance writer who enjoys writing for a variety of publications on topics ranging from natural beauty and interior design to sustainable gardening and exotic travel destinations. Passionate about natural health and lifestyle, Kate loves sharing her interests and discoveries with thoughtful minds.
PLANET REBUILDING DETROIT
MODEL CIT Y The car manufacturing industry made the US city of Detroit, and almost destroyed it. Now, post-industrial Detroit is witnessing a wave of grassroots change so progressive that it’s drawing attention the world over. WORDS / MARTIN OLIVER
f the cities in the “rust belt” running across the American northeast, Detroit has been hit the hardest. Yet, hidden behind the enormous economic challenges and ruined buildings, there is a resilient, collaborative, artistic and entrepreneurial spirit that is slowly steering it towards a brighter future. The largest city in the state of Michigan, Detroit made a name for itself in the 20th century as a manufacturing hub for the automotive giants Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. In 1960, it was America’s richest city.
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In the booming 1950s, Detroit saw an aggressive shift towards freeway construction and car dependency. As its residents relocated to the outlying suburbs, the city’s tax base eroded, setting the scene for later economic troubles. Recent decades have witnessed a devastating loss of the manufacturing sector from Detroit, a major factor being the auto industry’s decline and decentralisation. Detroit’s predicament is reflected in a population that has been continuously falling from 1.9 million in 1950 to 0.7 million today. The unemployment rate is 14.5 per cent, compared to a US average
of 6.3 per cent. Among American cities, it has the highest proportion of residents (36 per cent) living below the poverty line. With only about half of property taxes being paid, it’s hardly surprising that Detroit went bankrupt in 2013.
URBAN DECAY Deterioration of Detroit’s inner suburbs coupled with a 1967 race riot contributed to the “white flight” trend, as Caucasian families fled to the outlying areas. Today, the city is highly racially segregated, with African Americans and minorities tending to congregate in the more central areas.
PLANET REBUILDING DETROIT
A view of downtown Detroit from across the Detroit River.
abandoned properties. Motor City Blight Busters is a hands-on grassroots group that repairs salvageable dwellings to later sell or rent out, while demolishing the rest and saving usable building materials. It has constructed more than 100 new houses, boarded up other abandoned buildings and organised neighbourhood clean-ups. Meanwhile, a greater number of empty houses are demolished by wreckers on behalf of the city and in this case the materials are generally hauled off to landfill. The social business Reclaim Detroit focuses on diverting this waste from landfills and creating jobs — along with multiple other benefits — in the process. While a city demolition job takes 36 minutes, Reclaim Detroit estimates that its deconstruction and salvage jobs require six to 10 days. Costs are higher, but six times more employment is created. Detroit is proactively using land banking: a government-driven mechanism for bringing vacant, abandoned or foreclosed properties back into productive use. Governmentowned lots are regularly sold for as little as a few hundred dollars. The privately administered online platform Why Don’t We Own This? provides useful details about all property in the city, including its ownership, zoning and tax status. About 30 per cent of lots, totalling more than 100 square kilometres, are vacant — more than in any other US city. Through the Detroit council’s Adopt-a-Lot program, land is offered on a free annual lease for purposes such as gardening or growing food. The northern suburban city of Warren is allowing homeowners to buy adjacent government-owned lots for a dollar in return for maintaining them.
GETTING THEIR HANDS DIRTY A major cause of urban decline was a practice known as “redlining”. Large banks made it impossible for people in some lower socioeconomic areas to obtain a loan, until this unethical discrimination was prohibited in 1977. As whole neighbourhoods fell into decay, they became progressively more dangerous. Some abandoned houses were adopted by drug users and some were destroyed by arson. As the city depopulated, churches, office blocks, hotels, factories and hospitals were abandoned. Some of these were demolished, while others have since been renovated. Many of
these once bustling buildings remain empty today. Problems that face modern Detroit include 80,000 abandoned houses and the illegal dumping of garbage in vacant lots. In some inner suburbs, a sparse population makes it uneconomic to provide urban services. Violent crime, often gang-related, tops the league table of larger American cities. Many people have stayed because they feel they have no other choice.
FINDING SOLUTIONS The revitalisation of Detroit requires a bold solution to the problem of
To some visionaries, this surfeit of empty space is a canvas on which to get inspired; there is a sense of possibility that is absent in more ordered and affluent places. One aspiration is to transform Detroit into America’s greenest city. The Detroit Future City future-planning framework is looking at devoting sparsely populated areas to other uses such as farming, apple orchards, retention ponds and other environmental purposes. Without any human help, swathes of land are returning to forest. Detroit is responding to its challenges through an upsurge of self-reliance. Community gardens are
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PLANET REBUILDING DETROIT
Left and centre: Murals brighten up inner-city Detroit. Right: Detroit's Eastern Market.
A DIY CULTURE As one of the world’s first postindustrial cities, Detroit is making baby steps towards a sharing society that is very different from the consumer utopia of the mid-20th century. Progressives, activists and entrepreneurs have been relocating there, especially in the aftermath of the 2010 US Social Forum held in the city. At a time when the city government is barely able to afford some essential services, Detroit has seen a burgeoning DIY culture where the community
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Through the Detroit council’s Adopt-a-Lot program, land is oﬀered on a free annual lease for purposes such as gardening or growing food. is stepping in and finding ways to creatively fill the gaps. A grassroots collaborative society is starting to emerge. Examples include: The Georgia Street Community Collective regularly holding giveaways of essential items such as coats and school backpacks Food Not Bombs offering a free weekly meal to the homeless and people in economic hardship A skillshare centre for food and natural health known as The People’s Kitchen Volunteers from a diverse range of groups insulating 20 low-income earners’ homes for free in December 2013 by draught-proofing and wrapping pipes Back Alley Bikes, a non-profit cycle reuse and repair workshop. Detroit is flat and has very little traffic away from the main roads. Cycling groups are proliferating Five TimeBank complementary currency systems running within metropolitan Detroit. Very simple to operate, TimeBanking matches needs with resources and skills, and builds community far more effectively than the mainstream economy. It is very beneficial for low-income earners Overgrown public parks and playgrounds being maintained by the Detroit Mower Gang as an unpaid community service
REVITALISATION THROUGH THE ARTS The aesthetics of ruined buildings
are ugly and uninspiring. In such an environment, artistic creativity humanises the surroundings and makes them more habitable, inspiring others to do something similar. A recent small-scale project has involved the construction of makeshift bus shelters featuring beautiful and colourful artwork, made from materials recovered from abandoned houses. These were left at bus stops to make the often long wait more comfortable. Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope are an artistic couple who bought a house for US$1900 (AU$2000/NZ$2200) near the historic inner suburb of Hamtramck and added solar panels and a wind generator. After being decorated in pastel colours, it became the inspiration for the Power House Project, a burgeoning neighbourhood artistic community that has since attracted 23 artists and designers. The area was going downhill with an increase in crime and vandalism and the Power House initiative was an attempt to halt the slide. The couple have worked diligently to find occupiers for abandoned houses in order to prevent them from being demolished. A few blocks away, a former meatpacking plant was undergoing a radical transformation into an experimental arts venue. Graem Whyte and Faina Lerman called their new home Popps Packing, renovated a nearby abandoned storefront to become Popps Emporium and have recently turned another empty house into guest accommodation. The area has become a magnet for new residents,
springing up in disused lots with the help of the community group Greening of Detroit and the urban farming compost business Detroit Dirt. With little more than half the population of Adelaide, the city boasts more than 400 community farms and gardens, and many more in backyards. These initiatives are especially important in Detroit’s “food deserts” — pockets of the city where affordable and nutritious food is difficult to find, especially for non-car owners. For the black community living in these deserts, processed food is more easily available and a poor diet is causing a prevalence of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. In addition to improving food security, urban gardens boost the local food economy and are an important community-building tool. The Gleaners Community Food Bank has a small urban farm behind its storefront and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen is supplied by another 0.6ha organic farm. An entrepreneur named Jeff Adams is developing a vertical hydroponic growing system in an abandoned warehouse located in the blighted neighbourhood of Brightmoor.
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PLANET REBUILDING DETROIT From left: Mitchell Schorr's mural along the Detroit RiverWalk; an abandoned factory downtown; a decrepit house in the city outskirts.
SMALL BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES While the retail life of most cities is dominated by corporate chains, in Detroit the void they left as they exited poorer neighbourhoods is presenting great opportunities for local entrepreneurs. In a largely African-American neighbourhood with 22 liquor stores and only one grocery, Peaches and Greens is a mobile fruit and vegetable van that travels around, playing R&B music and delivering to nearby residents, of whom about half own a car.
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Detroit is making baby steps towards a sharing society that is very diﬀerent from the consumer utopia of the mid-20th century. Ponyride is a creative incubator and co-working centre for artists and socially conscious entrepreneurs housed in a large 3000-square-metre warehouse. In exchange for very cheap rent, tenants are required to provide free skill-sharing workshops to the surrounding community. In Brightmoor, Alicia and John George spent five years renovating an abandoned shop using recycled flooring to create the Motor City Java House. Today, it is the only coffee shop for miles. In addition to persuading coffee addicts to settle in the blighted neighbourhood, it has attracted a cluster of businesses to a rundown retail strip.
BOTTOM-UP, NOT TOP-DOWN Alongside community leaders striving to keep their neighbourhoods afloat is a city government that is frequently considered inept, with mayors who are disproportionately likely to be jailed for corruption. However, the city has successfully revitalised its downtown area, with the 9km Detroit International Riverfront project featuring shops, residential high-rises and parkland. One area of contention is the Detroit Future City framework, under which seven neighbourhoods with numerous vacant lots, including Brightmoor, have been targeted for “gradual depopulation” with a view to encouraging residents to move to more populated suburbs. A contrasting grassroots vision being pursued in Detroit involves community land trusts: mechanisms for bringing
development under community control while keeping housing affordable. In Boston, such a trust has successfully turned around the impoverished Dudley Street neighbourhood, which had similar blight problems to those found in Detroit. Behind Detroit’s dereliction is a spirit of rebirth and optimism, which is receiving increasing attention from the media. Today’s regeneration is only possible because some people hung on during the toughest decades of the 1970s and 1980s when crime hit a peak. Encouragingly, some former residents who fled 30 years ago are now feeling inspired to return. However, in the words of business innovation consultant Josh McManus, we should not forget that Detroit is a “very real place” and not “Disneyland for hipsters”.
RESOURCES Motor City Blight Busters, mcbbdetroit.com Reclaim Detroit, reclaimingdetroit.org Rethink Detroit, rethinkdetroit.org Power House Project, powerhouseproductions.org Popps Packing, poppspacking.org Heidelberg Project, heidelberg.org Imagination Station, facebook.com/ facethestation Ponyride, ponyride.org Why I Bought a House in Detroit for $500, bzfd.it/JLVMIz Martin Oliver is a writer and researcher based in Lismore, northern NSW, Australia.
Photography 123RF & Bigstock
including creatives, helping the process of neighbourhood revitalisation. On the east side of the city, local resident Tyree Guyton runs the Heidelberg Project. This open-air art environment features bizarre collections of discarded objects and coloured circles painted on the footpaths and roads. In addition to being a tourist attraction, Heidelberg also offers art education to children. Responding to a spate of recent arson attacks targeting the Project’s artdecorated houses, Guyton said, “Living in this city, you can’t give up.” Jerry Paffendorf is a young nerd who bought a couple of empty houses in a forsaken empty space facing the city’s most spectacular empty building, the 18-storey Grand Central Station. While one of the houses has since required demolition, the second is being lovingly restored by a committed volunteer team and has been painted with the message “The Dream is Now” with a dayglo mural underneath reassuring us that “It’s OK”. Named the Imagination Station, the project has ambitious future plans involving media and the arts.
Lake Tekapo's azure waters. Clockwise from right: Arrowtown's main drag; The Postmasters Residence in Arrowtown; table decorations go industrial at Joe's Garage in Queenstown; ancestors guard Kaikoura's marae grounds.
LAND of LEGENDS New Zealand’s South Island may be close to home but its wild landscapes, excellent food and wine, and straight-up locals make it a destination to put at the top of your travel list. WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY / DANIELLE KIRK
a ¯ui, that mischievous hero of Polynesian mythology, apparently had a grand old time creating New Zealand. According to one version ¯ori legend, he created it on a of Ma fishing trip, no less, as an unwelcome stowaway on the waka (canoe) of his three older brothers, who had planned to leave their pesky half-sibling behind. In the very deepest part of the ocean, Ma¯ui cast out his fishhook made of a magical ancestral jawbone. Down, down, down it sank until it hooked onto something big, which the demigod and his kin hauled up with incantations, supernatural powers and sheer might. Their prize — Ma¯ui’s fish or Te Ika a Ma¯ui — represents New Zealand’s North Island. The South Island? Why, that’s the canoe, and I’m standing on
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the very spot Ma¯ui stood when he made his great catch: the Kaikoura Peninsula. Situated on the South Island’s eastern coastline about a two-hour drive north of Christchurch, the Kaikoura region is a fitting location to hear a story about fishing. It plays host to an abundance of marine life and, accordingly, has a long history of human settlement. Ma ¯ori tribes used the area as a base for hunting the now-extinct flightless moa and finding crayfish (kaiko ¯ura means “to eat crayfish”), Europeans set up whaling stations here and, in more recent times, the nearby village of Kaikoura has become a bustling stop-off point in tourist season for people keen to spot migrating sperm whales, swim with pods of dolphins and photograph lounging southern fur seals at the large seal colony just out of town.
Not only is my guide Maurice — full name Manawatu Te Ra — a gripping storyteller, he’s a fabulous host. He’s already taken our small group out to the historic pa (settlement sites) of his ancestors, to the marae (communal hall) grounds of his community and to his home, to meet his charming wife and tuck into some homemade Kiwi kai (that’s scones and sandwiches to you and me). Now he drives us toward the seaward-facing Kaikoura mountains to a forest he poetically calls The Realm of Ta¯ne, the god of forests and birds. It’s raining out but we don our rain jackets and walk, testing the small, finger-like, peppery-tasting yellow berries of the kawakawa shrub (its leaves also make a soothing tea), learning about traditional Ma¯ori medicines and greeting a 900-year-old giant of a tree that escaped the axes of early loggers. NZ’s slow-growing native flora is beautiful and astounding, much like its views, and certainly like its legends.
ADVENTURE, HERE WE COME Kaikoura may be where Ma¯ori lore says New Zealand began but it’s not
TRAVEL NEW ZEALAND’S SOUTH ISLAND
DREAM-FILLED FLIGHTS Trips across the Tasman have just got a little kinder to the body with Air New Zealand’s launch of the world’s ﬁrst scheduled Dreamliner ﬂight on its Perth-Auckland route. This new aeroplane model has 18 lie-ﬂat business seats, 21 premium economy seats with their own bathroom and 14 “skycouch” rows: a whole row of seats to snooze on. According to manufacturer Boeing, the Dreamliner is also its most fueleﬃcient plane. That 6½-hour ﬂight will just, well, ﬂy by.
where this particular journey started. Like most Aussies and Kiwis, I love a good road trip, and this one began seven days ago when a friend and I hired a campervan to explore some of the South Island’s most beautiful spots. Upon landing in Christchurch, we headed straight to the capital of adventure: Queenstown. The drive to reach this southerly gem — renowned for its jet-boating, bungy-jumping and all-round freestyling way of life — is a thrill in itself. We choose the inland route which takes you past Aoraki (Mt Cook), NZ’s tallest sentinel, over Burkes Pass to the turquoise-hued lakes Tekapo and Pukaki, on to the sweeping grasslands of Mackenzie Country (if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, this is where Peter Jackson filmed the battle of Pelennor Fields) and, finally, through the winding Kawarau Gorge. Queenstown, nestled amid looming mountain ranges next to the azure brushstroke of Lake Wakatipu, is a honeypot for skiers, mountain bikers and hikers. Yet, while adventure may be Queenstown’s second name, wellbeing is surely its third.
If you’re in need of relaxation, you’d be hard pressed to find a lovelier yoga studio than Nadi Wellness Centre, where you can do “rise and shine” yoga with a view, or a more luxurious pampering paradise than the boutique hotel Matakauri Lodge. At Onsen Hot Pools, a 10-minute drive away towards the Coronet Peak ski area, you can soak away aches and pains while soaking up mountain views high above the Shotover River. On the road out to the hamlet of Glenorchy, new retreat centre Aro Ha ¯ even offers “wellness adventures” where visitors can combine their two loves in an eco-friendly, sustainable environment.
Wanaka that forms part of Te Araroa, a 3000km trail that runs from the northern tip of the North Island to the bottom of the South. This visit, however, we’re not in Arrowtown for the night or to tramp; it’s on to Wanaka to visit Rippon, a biodynamic winery and vineyard that overlooks Lake Wanaka and the snowcapped mountains beyond. Rippon wines are special. Rolfe Mills, a third-generation farmer on his family holding, started experimenting with grapevines in 1975. In 1982, he and his wife Lois planted the first block of vines with the intent of crafting highquality wine and, seven years later, they released their first vintage. These days, the couple’s son Nick is in charge and stays true to his parents’ methods. All of the grapevines are grown according to Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamic principles and without irrigation; the Earth’s energy imbues the vines and the fruit, so the award-winning wines produced retain the terroir of the ancient schist from which they came. Tasting a young Riesling at the cellar door, gazing out over the neat rows of vines running down to the lakeshore, you get an inkling of how this place has the power to inhabit a wine and to settle in one’s soul.
ARROWTOWN & WANAKA
WILD WEST & RUGGED
Leaving Queenstown for Wanaka, we drive via the historic gold-mining settlement of Arrowtown, where Condé Nast-lauded fine-dining establishment Saffron showcases the best of regional food and wine and where you can spend a cosy evening ensconced with a glass of local Otago Pinot Noir in front of an arthouse film at Dorothy Browns. It’s also the start of the Motatapu Track, a demanding 34km hike northeast to
The remote, sparsely populated West Coast of the South Island is like the area time forgot. Alongside the coastal road heading north, vast, wild tracts of native lowland forest swoop down on black volcanic beaches littered with piles of whitewashed driftwood and swept by howling winds from across the Tasman Sea. Ma ¯ori inhabitants called this region Te Tai Poutini — The Tides of Poutini — naming it after the mythical sea
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TRAVEL NEW ZEALAND’S SOUTH ISLAND guardian of pounamu, or greenstone, its precious natural resource. A brief gold rush in the mid-1800s created many towns along this coastline but most people left just as quickly as they came. A number of artists now call the West Coast home, along with those with a yen to get away from it all. Yet still, outside of the three main settlements of Westport, Greymouth and Hokitika, there are limited signs of civilisation along the snaking coastal route. There are, however, perhaps not unexpectedly in such a prehistoric landscape, two rivers of ice: the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. You can walk within metres of these opaque blue remnants of the Ice Age and, with various tour operators, you can even walk on them or fly above them. But you can’t yet stay on them yet, thank goodness. We stop for the night at a Department of Conservation (DoC) campsite 15km out of Franz Josef, where we’re dazzled by starlight undampened by city lights. The next day, while it’s not whitebait season, thanks to the help of a friendly cafe-owner I get to taste that delicious Kiwi delicacy — the whitebait fritter — on the way through Hokitika. Home to the annual Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, Hoki, as it’s known to the locals, is as cute as they come and its regional food is just as good. The tiny fish are crispy, the batter light and eggy, and I can’t imagine how wonderful this fritter must taste from September to mid-November when locals wade into fast-running streams to catch the young whitebait sprats and sell them at roadside stalls. About an hour’s drive further north, you can stop off for a wander out to Pancake Rocks at the edge of Paparoa
A dramatic black volcanic beach along the windswept West Coast.
National Park. These coastal rock formations look like the stacked culinary works of a hungry giant and, as you meander toward the ocean, you can spy large blowholes where at high tide the ocean spurts into the sky.
LUXURIOUS ABEL TASMAN Scoot forward 24 hours and I’m now on first-name terms with a small team of
American, Canadian and British tourists and Marius, our lanky walking guide in the lush coastal Abel Tasman National Park northwest of Nelson. A deep thinker who is in the process of creating a self-sufficient lifestyle with his family on a block of land nearby, Marius is leading us on the first leg of a two-day adventure with eco-tour operators Wilsons Abel Tasman.
ESCAPE ROUTES Getting there Air New Zealand ﬂies to Christchurch from all Australian capital cities and major centres. airnewzealand.com.au Getting around Hitting the road is the best way to see New Zealand. You can hire a car and stay in hotels or camp, or you can do what many travellers do and hire a campervan. Options depend on your budget but we chose a Cheapa Campa. cheapacampa.co.nz, +64 800 3260 5466 Staying there The Resurgence is a luxury eco-lodge a short drive from Motueka at the top of the South Island. Boutique rooms and cabins start from NZ$525 (AU$495, US$448).
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resurgence.co.nz, +64 3528 4664 Department of Conservation campsites are dotted throughout NZ. Facilities on oﬀer vary and the DoC website has a comprehensive list. doc.govt.nz/ parks-and-recreation/places-to-stay What to do Māori Tours Kaikoura oﬀers full-day, half-day or two-hour tours that explore the Kaikoura region, as well as Māori legends, history and traditions. maoritours.co.nz, +64 3319 5567 Kaikoura Seafood BBQ is the place to go when in Kaikoura to try crayﬁsh at its freshest. Visit the kiosk along Fyﬀe Quay, on the way to the seal colony. Joe’s Garage, a hip American-diner-style
cafe on Searle Lane, is where Queenstown locals do brunch. joes.co.nz In whitebait season (September to midNovember), watch out for roadside stalls hawking whitebait along the West Coast. They’re worth a stop. In Motueka, visit the Arcadia Cafe for organic vegetarian food and delicious chai. Wilsons Abel Tasman runs single- and multi-day hiking and kayaking ecotours in the Abel Tasman National Park. abeltasman.co.nz, +64 3528 2027 Na Clachan Wine Tours runs small, friendly tasting tours around Marlborough (from NZ$65/AU$61 for a half day). Helen can visit organic wineries on request. naclachan.co.nz, +64 3578 8881
TRAVEL NEW ZEALAND’S SOUTH ISLAND Clockwise from below: A view over Lake Wanaka from Rippon; time for a road-trip breather; Seresin Estate's fertilising machine; our lift into the Abel Tasman.
Paddy says that while these waters are protected, the wider Tasman Bay area — which has boasted a bounty of seafood for as long as humans have been present — has been heavily overfished by commercial dredge fisheries. I wonder to myself what the first hunters and gatherers in this breathtaking part of the world would have thought of such a development.
FINE WINE COUNTRY
Vast, wild tracts of native lowland forest swoop down on black volcanic beaches littered with piles of whitewashed driftwood and swept by howling winds from across the Tasman Sea. Earlier that morning, having stayed a night in the vibrant town of Motueka, we had taken a ferry from Kaiteriteri up to the starting point of our walk: a section of the 54.4km Abel Tasman Coast Track, one of NZ’s nine Great Walks. A relatively easy track, it winds along the waterline, through native forests and around secluded golden beaches. Marius has an impeccable knowledge of the local flora and fauna. As we walk, he points out special plants, alerts us to distinctive birdsong and shares the history of Abel Tasman, at 225.3 square kilometres the smallest national park in NZ. Early European settlers farmed, milled tinder and built ships along the coastline but by the 1930s most people had left this remote area and it was designated a national park in 1942. The non-native animal and plant species the settlers brought with them continue to threaten the region’s delicate ecosystems today, yet native vegetation
and birdlife are slowly regenerating. Privately funded initiative Project Janzsoon (janszoon.org) is working in partnership with DoC to help the park recover from the incursion of pests. Crouching down, Marius points to red, anemone-like sundew flowers embedded in the earthen wall of the hill beside our track. Sundews eat insects to survive in nutrient-deficient soils and can adapt to a wide variety of atypical environments. They’re an analogy for humanity, Marius reckons — like them, we must adapt to resource scarcity by finding new, ecoconscious, ways to survive. We overnight in a luxurious lodge right on the beachfront at Torrent Bay before, after a satisfying breakfast, kayaking our way back to Kaiteriteri. I share a kayak with our guide, Paddy, who paddles with us across the glistening waters to visit the islands just offshore where we glimpse shags and a lone fur seal calling for its mum.
After two days of outdoor exercise and adventure, it’s time for a visit to a region celebrated for its wines, specifically its Sauvignon Blanc: Marlborough. We have a day-long stopover near the regional centre of Blenheim so, we figure, why not spend it wisely? And, by wisely, I mean investigating the vineyards and wines of the Wairau Valley’s fertile flatlands. There is a surprising number of small organic wineries operating alongside the big setups such as Matua and Australian-owned Cloudy Bay. Helen, our guide on a half-day tasting tour, takes us to the oldest organic winery in the region: organic and biodynamic Seresin Estate. Here, the vines are hand-tended and the grapes hand-picked and we’re lucky enough to see their fertilising machine in action: a draught horse hooked up to a cart loaded with sprayer tanks that are full of nutrient-dense compost tea. It’s ingenious and the horse looks perfectly content as he’s walked through the rows of vines, tea spraying out behind him as he goes. Owned by Michael Seresin, a Kiwi cinematographer who spends part of the year in the UK, France and the States, the 45-hectare vineyard at Seresin produces small batches of wines that are fermented with wild yeasts. Olive groves, orchards and vegetable gardens add to the diversity of the estate and at the cellar door you can taste delicious oils as well as wines made from several varieties of grape including, of course, the Sauvignon Blanc. Heading down the eastern coastline the next day to Kaikoura and, later, our departing flight from Christchurch, I tear my eyes from the sheep-dotted pastures to gaze at the ocean. I think about all the natural riches Mother Nature has bestowed on the South Island. I think about its beguiling blend of beauty and wildness, remoteness and community. I think, truly, this is a legendary land. The writer travelled courtesy of Air New Zealand and Cheapa Campa. Danielle Kirk is the deputy editor of WellBeing.
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Getting to the heart of
Fiji An island archipelago spread across the South Pacific Ocean, Fiji has abundant soulful charms. Just try to leave without crying, we dare you. WORDS / FIONA HARPER
o matter how many times I hear the traditional Fijian hymn Nisa Lei, tears well in my eyes, inducing an overwhelming melancholy. There’s also anguish, too, as it invariably precedes departure from a country dear to my heart. Usually sung unaccompanied in layers of hymn-like stanzas, it’s an emotive farewell song laced with melodic harmonies. Music and dance are woven into the fabric of Fijian Polynesian and Melanesian culture and Nisa Lei expresses remorse at parting company after sharing good times. During a recent visit, I heard the mournful melody numerous times. No occasion was more emotional than my early-morning departure from Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort. After completing checkout formalities, the security guard picked up a guitar and started strumming and gently crooning. As my car pulled up, his deep baritone voice rose above the coconut palms, catching on the breeze as he broke into the first lines of Nisa Lei. The receptionist joined in, swaying rhythmically. Mesmerised and emotional, I’m not embarrassed to admit that tears rolled unfettered down my cheeks as we drove away, glorious harmonies ringing in my ears. But I defy anyone to not be moved hearing this song. Or, for that matter, by Fijians in general, who exude a genuine earthy warmth and friendliness.
School children prepare for a cultural performance at Drua Drua Island. Below: Dancers entertain Captain Cook Cruise passengers at Kioa Island
Photography Bigstock & Fiona Harper
VANUA LEVU, LAUCALA & QAMEA Nowhere is this hospitality more evident than at JeanMichel Cousteau Resort (JMC). Strongly aligned with best environmental practices both on land and beneath the sea, the resort is a world leader in managing, preserving and protecting the environment. But it’s the staff who make the place stand out: they are so unashamedly congenial it feels as though you’ve lobbed into a party bursting with long-lost friends. The resort sits on a headland a few kilometres from the town of Savusavu on Fiji’s northern island, Vanua Levu. Gardens are irrigated with water recycled from a treatment plant cleverly concealed by colourful lily ponds. The kitchen is supplied with fresh produce year round from extensive fruit and vegetable gardens, along with heavily laden fruit trees planted throughout the grounds. Guests are invited to help themselves, picking their own healthy snacks from whatever is in season. For mango lovers it’s an invitation to juicy, sweet paradise. Not that there aren’t plenty of decadent options on the menu (caramelised banana pancakes, take a bow). Reef fish or farmed prawns are eschewed by resort chefs in favour of local fish caught sustainably. It’s no surprise, really, given the resort is surrounded by a marine reserve, thriving under the careful guidance of renowned environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau himself. Low-voltage lighting, solarheated water systems and clever design that negates the need for air-conditioning in bures (traditional Fijian huts) constructed from certified forest timber are other ways JMC is making a significant reduction to its carbon footprint. JMC is also a significant contributor to the local community via its partnership with the Savusavu Community Foundation (SCF). SCF organises free medical clinics, has secured donations in excess of FJ$20 million in pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and hospital equipment, and organises health-focused community projects. JMC assists by coordinating projects, providing support for visiting medical staff as well as raising funds by encouraging guest donations. Even more isolated from mainland Fiji, Laucala (pronounced Lor-thar-laa) Island is another resort with strong eco credentials. Blessed with the luxury of an entire island at its disposal (and an owner with deep pockets), the
resort’s 250 acres of farmland are used to sustain island guests and staff. Coffee, vanilla, pepper and sugar crops, along with a coconut plantation, fruit orchards, vegetable gardens and hydroponic horticulture, ensure there is plenty of year-round produce. Cows, pigs, goats and poultry (including egg incubators) provide meat supplies. Local fisherman harvest seafood from surrounding waters and menus change according to the day’s catch. Laucala Spa has its own kitchen that produces beauty products. Decadently aromatic (four signature scents are influenced by citrus, floral, herbs and wood fragrances) and created using natural cold-pressed methods, oils, soaps and shampoos are used in the spa itself as well as in-room amenities in the resort’s 25 opulent villas. After sending my smalls off to be laundered one day, they came back wrapped in handmade paper smelling delightfully, as if they had spent the entire day being pampered in the spa. Which is exactly how I managed to while away much of my time when not sailing, playing golf, boating at sunset or relaxing by the private swimming pool. Or eating. Or savouring cocktails created from homegrown organic fruit. Tissues were required on departure (again) as Nisa Lei harmonies hovered in the still air above the runway. Many of Laucala’s staff are housed on nearby Qamea (pronounced Ga-mee-ar) Island in a purpose-built village. With only tourism providing much-needed employment, there
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TRAVEL FIJI Austin’s daughter Sophia Anania, who manages the marketing side from her Sydney base, enthuses, “We’re about people, not just the product. Rather than rely on machines, our people are hands-on.” Sharing her mother’s passion, she explains, “Where there’s a hand, there’s a heart and a soul.” Very much a socially responsible family business, the company funds scholarships for village children and makes donations in the form of furniture to schools and libraries. Scholarship graduates have studied at university to become teachers, returning to their villages to educate the next generation. A company with soul, much like Fiji itself, Pure Fiji has deliberately not expanded beyond what is manageable by the family. There have certainly been offers to place their exquisite products into worldwide chain stores, but they have chosen to shy away from such mass distribution. As a result, the brand name has almost become exclusive enough to warrant cult status.
Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort is a world-leading eco-resort specialising in fine Fijian hospitality.
Worldwide hotel chain Sofitel is the antithesis of Pure Fiji, so it’s rather ironic that Sofitel Fiji and Sofitel Auckland are the only two hotels globally to stock Pure Fiji products in their guest bathroom amenities kits. But Sofitel Fiji is not your usual five-star hotel. The French brand has a tradition of greeting guests with the French bonjour. In Fiji, tipping its multicultural hat, bonjour meets bula (the traditional Fijian greeting for hello) in a beguiling melding of French sophistication with relaxed Fijian charm. The hotel works with the Cure Kids Fiji project, raising funds for life-saving equipment for a neo-natal unit, refurbishment of Lautoka Hospital’s children’s ward and Nadi Hospital’s maternity ward. Additionally, funds have helped pay for a program for the early detection and treatment of rheumatic heart disease. Coffee fiends should pull up a chair on the veranda at La Parisienne for the “best coffee in the country”. If you’ve a hankering for fine dining, V Restaurant is one of the few Fijian restaurants capable of sophisticated French flair thanks to head chef Jean-Marc Ruzzene’s leadership. It helps that he has at his disposal a vast market garden
ESCAPE ROUTES Getting there Fiji Airways and Virgin Australia ﬂy directly from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to Nadi. Jetstar ﬂies between Sydney and Nadi. Staying there Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort is perfect for family groups or couples; children are allocated their own private nanny, allowing parents free time to relax knowing children are in the best hands. ﬁjiresort.com Located conveniently close to Nadi Airport on Denarau Island, Soﬁtel Fiji Resort and Spa is a splendid option to start or end your Fijian island explorations. soﬁtel.com What to do Look for Pure Fiji Boutique at Soﬁtel Denarau or visit the factory in Suva on Saturdays, where Pure Fiji Spa is also located. pureﬁji.com Captain Cook Cruises is one of Fiji’s most loved cruise operators. Cruises vary from three-night Yasawa cruises through to 11-night journeys to the far eastern Lau Group islands. captaincook.com.fj
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MV Reef Endeavour provides access for visiting outlying islands and villages.
within the hotel grounds with an astounding variety of herbs, vegetables and fruit. Pop into Mandara Spa for a Fijian bobo massage using traditional rituals passed through generations designed to balance the mind, body and spirit. With the setting a private enclave shaded by frangipani trees and cooled by gentle breezes, if Fiji hasn’t already seduced you, it’s likely you’ll fall under her gentle charm at the hands of a skilled masseuse. The Sanskrit word mandara comes from an ancient legend about the quest to find the secret to eternal youth and beauty. Fijians seem to exude these qualities in spades. Perhaps it has something to do with maintaining their traditional culture and practices despite an annual influx of tourists. The village chief, who oversees the life of all village residents, is still well respected. Respect is evident, with assets shared and family members embraced no matter how tenuous the blood or family connection. Visitors who respect cultural traditions are welcomed warmly, too. Take the time to engage a Fijian in conversation and you’ll likely form the basis of a valued friendship. It’s one of the reasons the country continues to lure me to her shores. That and the promise I make each time I hear Nisa Lei that I will try not to get teary. Fiona Harper is a freelance travel writer based in Cairns, Australia, who focuses on travel and boating lifestyles. Follow her blog at travelboatinglifestyle.com.
Photography Fiona Harper
SOPHISTICATION & RELAXATION
SPIRIT BOOKS, MUSIC & DVDS THAT WILL ENRICH YOUR LIFE
COUNTER CULTURE REVIEWED BY KERRY BOYNE, DANIELLE KIRK & CHRIS STAFFORD A pilgrim’s pause in Ida. Right and bottom right: The Lunchbox.
DVDS THE LUNCHBOX Directed by Ritesh Batra Starring Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
IDA Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski Starring Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik Every day in Mumbai, more than 250,000 lunchboxes or dabba are dispatched from home kitchens and restaurants to oﬃce workers. According to a study of the socalled dabbawalla system by a Harvard Business School professor, only one in a million deliveries goes astray. Such is the inspiration for Ritesh Batra’s romantic comedy The Lunchbox, in which young housewife Ila tries to win back her unfaithful husband with ever more delicious lunchtime treats. One day, to her delight, the dabba returns empty; every last morsel is gone. That’s because her cooking has found its way to the desk of cranky middle-aged clerk Saajan, a widower about to take early retirement. Before long the two begin exchanging notes, then heartfelt letters, pouring out their dreams and disappointments. The dabba has become a two-way lifeline of spiritual nourishment — food for the soul as well as for the body. The aﬀecting work by the leads — veteran actor Khan and starry up-andcomer Kaur — is merely the main course. Among the many tasty side dishes are Ila’s upstairs “Auntie”, a vivid character
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even though she remains unseen, and Saajan’s puppyish young trainee Shaikh (Siddiqui), who with his usual indomitable optimism pronounces the theme of this charming tale of mix-ups and near misses: “Sometimes the wrong train can get you to the right station.” I defy you not to enjoy the ride. From the steamy subcontinent to wintry Poland, Ida could not oﬀer a greater contrast. A ﬁlm of stark yet creamy black-and-white beauty, it might have been made in 1961, the year in which it’s set. Anna (Trzebuchowska), an orphan and novice nun on the point of taking her vows, visits her one living relative, her mother’s sister Wanda, a hard-bitten former Communist prosecutor. Played with wry relish by Agata Kulesza, Wanda, in between cigarettes and belts of vodka, takes a perverse pleasure in informing Anna she was born a Jew; her real name is Ida Lebenstein. And oﬀ they travel to their family village to learn what became of the Lebensteins during the Holocaust. “What if you go there and discover that there is no God?” Wanda taunts her niece who smiles faintly, her beautiful face as serene as a Slavic icon. But it’s Wanda, worldweary and wracked with guilt, who’s trapped in Poland’s shattered, godless past while for Ida a possible future beckons in the form of a keen but respectful jazz musician (Ogrodnik). In just 80 minutes, this quiet, exquisitely composed piece travels its own path and takes some surprising turns. CS
MANUKA: THE BIOGRAPHY OF AN EXTRAORDINARY HONEY CLIFF VAN EATON, EXISLE PUBLISHING To honey fanciers, manuka is pretty much the bee’s knees but, less than 30 years ago, New Zealand bee keepers could barely give it away. Difficult to extract and produce in bulk, the rich dark stuff was a marketing nightmare and even now is dauntingly expensive. Then, in 1980, an inquisitive university lecturer began to research the serendipitous outcome of the moment when introduced European bees met the plant the Ma ¯oris called manuka. Simply told and illustrated throughout, this is the fascinating story of how manuka became a great deal more than just a fancy breakfast spread but went on to global recognition as a mainstream medical treatment for all manner of bacterial infections, from burns to meningococcal disease. It sure is a honey that’s on the money. CS
YIN YOGA ULRICA NORBERG, SKYHORSE PUBLISHING Yin yoga, the practice of holding yoga poses for longer periods of time, is a beautiful yoga style. It balances dynamic, muscular yang practices, allows the body’s connective tissues to relax and the body and mind to connect, and improves the flow of prana. As experienced Swedish yoga teacher Ulrica Norberg writes, when she first discovered it she felt “like all my cells had been meditating”. In Yin Yoga, Norberg examines the history of yin, yogic philosophies, the scientific research into the practice and its body-mind benefits. She shows readers how to develop an individualised, safe and effective yin practice, complete with a yin sequence, visualisation techniques and Ayurvedic health principles. DK
OPENING HEAVEN’S DOOR
CHRISTINE SHARP, UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND PRESS “Oh, Simon Green, how I pine for your parsley leaves and fresh young peas,” writes Sylvia snail in a love letter to a vegie grower whose produce she just can’t stop eating. In this charming picture book, Mount Tamborine local Christine Sharp tells the tale of Sylvia and her excellent idea to woo her amour by writing in his garden with her shimmering trail ... with mixed results. Sharp’s joy-filled illustrations infuse her book with life and will fire up the imaginations of young readers, who are sure to start hunting in the garden for Sylvia and her secret messages. DK
PATRICIA PEARSON, SIMON & SCHUSTER AUSTRALIA For anyone fearful of death and what happens after it (isn’t that everyone?) — whether ours or that of a loved one — this work by journalist/novelist Patricia Pearson is an uplifting read. Inspired by the intriguing circumstances surrounding the deaths of her father and sister, Pearson wanted to know how dying people experience their end time. Presenting an intelligently researched, lucidly written combination of evidencebased and anecdotal information — drawn largely from people who have had neardeath experiences, grieving relatives and professionals such as nurses and hospice workers — this fascinating book takes death out of the dark, scary shadows and into the warm, bright light. KB
MY YEAR WITHOUT MATCHES CLAIRE DUNN, NERO You may feel you know Claire through her warm, cogent writing, which appears regularly in WellBeing. Yet in My Year Without Matches, her first book, you’ll meet the real Claire, a woman whose idealism and deep love of the environment drove her to escape the “relentless onwardsness” of the city and a high-pressure job as an environmental campaigner to complete a year-long wilderness survival program in the Australian bush. With earthy, expressive honesty she shares the struggles, the swooping highs of crafting life out of a block of unforgiving scrub with just a handful of fellow seekers for company. She sought “the raw truth of rain trickling down my back, splinters in my hand” but ultimately discovered the path to her heart. By sharing such an intimate journey, Claire has given us all a gift. DK
BUDDHISM FOR COUPLES SARAH NAPTHALI, ALLEN & UNWIN In her latest book, practising Buddhist Sarah Napthali examines how you can apply the teachings of Buddhism to your romantic relationship. Through developing mindfulness and self-awareness, she says, you’ll become more aware of the thoughts and beliefs that drive your reactions and be able to use this insight to learn to relate to your partner more lovingly. Buddhism for Couples first deals with specific issues, including anger, housework, sex and infidelity, and then introduces Buddhist strategies that can enrich your relationship. Napthali emphasises self-compassion throughout and explains how she has used techniques in her own relationship to patch things up, keep things together and even experience splendid happiness. DK
SURRENDER KUNDA NETTELBECK, PRODUCED BY KAMAL ENGLES AT ARTOFAUDIO STUDIO
KIRTAN ALIVE EDO & JO, J ALBERT & SON From the first chord of acoustic guitar to the final breathy burst of bansuri flute, Surrender held us captive. In nine songs that “express the human longing for unconditional love, happiness and peace”, Byron Bay-based singersongwriter Kunda has infused this album with optimism and light. Surrender unites Kunda’s lead vocals (he reminds us of an Aussie Art Garfunkel) with the voices of collaborators such as indigenous singer-songwriter Kerrianne Cox, and world, folk and devotional music flowing from a bevy of instruments, from sitar to didgeridoo to ukulele to violin. Kirtan Alive also captures that spirit of connection and joy of being, albeit expressly in the call-and-response format of the Eastern devotional mantras of Kirtan. Singer-songwriters Edo and Jo recorded this soothing, joy-filled album in Sydney over the space of two nights with the help of their friends and other musicians. The result is like a bubbling brook that tinkles over your head and your ears and leaves you in a state of life-loving bliss. DK
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FOOD SUPERFOODS CHICKEN, SHIITAKE MUSHROOM & SEAWEED SOUP Serves: 6 8 cups chicken stock 1 stalk lemongrass, bruised 2 star anise 1 knob fresh ginger, sliced 1 large clove garlic, peeled & lightly smashed 250g chicken thigh ﬁllets, very thinly sliced 20g dried seaweed, cut into small pieces 15g sliced dried shiitake mushrooms 1 red chilli, sliced 1 tbsp ﬁsh sauce 2 tbsp tamari soy sauce Fresh bean sprouts, for garnish 4–6 spring onions, thinly sliced Sliced red chilli, for garnish Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan with the lemongrass, star anise, ginger and garlic. When boiling, add the chicken, seaweed, mushrooms, chilli, ﬁsh sauce and tamari. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the seaweed and mushrooms are soft. Remove the lemongrass and star anise and serve garnished with some bean sprouts, sliced spring onions and chillies. Note: You can leave out the chicken for a vegetarian option or add another type of meat or seafood.
CRUNCHY BREAKFAST MIX Makes: 8 cups ¾ cup red quinoa, rinsed & drained 1½ cups water 1½ cups quinoa ﬂakes 125g whole blanched almonds 75g pepitas 75g sunﬂower seeds
FOODS THAT PACK A PUNCH Recipes & images from Superfoods: 7 essential ingredients for living well by Rena Patten, New Holland, RRP AU$35
hat’s so super about superfoods? Do they wear a red cape and go around rescuing people? Not exactly but, accoutrement aside, that’s not far from the truth. Just like Superman, superfoods pack a powerful punch (of the nutritional variety) and can “rescue” you (from the inside out) thanks to the unusually high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and other nutrients housed inside their unassuming exteriors. In Superfoods, recipe developer Rena Patten — author of Cooking with Quinoa, Quinoa for Families, Everyday Quinoa and Mezze — serves up recipes showcasing seven heroic foods: amaranth, broccoli, chia, kale, quinoa, raw cacao and seaweed. There’s a chapter dedicated to each superfood, along with nutritional information, and Patten’s recipes encompass both newfangled healthy dishes (hello, chia puddings) and reworked favourites such as choc chip cookies. Truly super.
60g sesame seeds 2 tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground nutmeg 1 tbsp vanilla paste or extract ⅓ cup maple syrup ⅓ cup light brown sugar, tightly packed ⅓ cup honey 2 tbsp vegetable or extra-light olive oil 150g golden raisins 125g dried cranberries Place red quinoa into a small saucepan with the water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until
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all the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat, uncover and cool completely. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line two large baking trays with non-stick baking paper. In a large bowl, mix together the quinoa ﬂakes, cooled quinoa grain, almonds, pepitas, sunﬂower and sesame seeds, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the vanilla, maple syrup, brown sugar, honey and oil and mix really well as you want all the ingredients to be completely coated. Spread the mixture out evenly over the two trays in a single layer and bake
FOOD SUPERFOODS for about 30–40 minutes until crisp and crunchy and a rich golden colour. Stir once or twice through the baking time making sure you keep the mix evenly distributed in the tray. Remove from the oven and cool, then stir in the raisins and cranberries and store in an airtight container when completely cold. Serve with milk or yoghurt or sprinkle over porridge. Note: This is good to have on hand as it’s not only great for breakfast, you can grab a handful at any time. If you don’t have maple syrup you can use golden syrup instead. Keep an eye on it while it’s in the oven as it can burn easily. I have used the red quinoa purely for the added crunch that you get from the darker grain.
BROCCOLI, LENTIL & TOMATO SALAD Serves: 6–8 750g broccoli 2 × 400g cans brown lentils, rinsed & drained 1 small red onion, ﬁnely chopped 250g small grape or cherry tomatoes 3 spring onions, sliced Juice of 1–1½ limes 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil ½ tsp ground cumin Salt & freshly cracked black pepper Cut the broccoli into small ﬂorets and peel and thinly slice the stalks. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the broccoli and cook for 3–4 minutes until just tender. Drain and place in a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process and retain the vibrant green colour.
Place the lentils in a bowl with the broccoli, red onion, tomatoes and spring onions. Tomatoes can be left whole or you can halve them. Mix together the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over the salad and toss well to combine. Adjust the amount of dressing and seasoning to suit your taste if necessary. Note: This is one of my favourite dishes. It can be a meal on its own or a side salad with meat, chicken or ﬁsh. I sometimes add a can of good quality tuna for a complete meal.
HERBED CRUMBED FISH FILLETS Serves: 4 1 cup amaranth ﬂakes 1 large clove garlic, ﬁnely grated Zest of 1 lemon 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives 1 tbsp chopped fresh ﬂat-leaf parsley 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander ½–1 tsp chilli ﬂakes Salt & freshly cracked black pepper 4 ﬁsh ﬁllets Amaranth ﬂour, for dusting 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten Olive oil, for shallow frying Lemon or lime, juice for serving Combine the amaranth ﬂakes with the garlic, lemon zest, chives, parsley, coriander, chilli and salt and pepper. Mix well, making sure you rub the garlic through the ﬂakes so it’s evenly distributed. Lightly dust the ﬁsh with the ﬂour then dip into the beaten egg and press into the ﬂake mixture. Cover the ﬁsh completely with the ﬂake mixture, pressing it. Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium heat until hot and gently shallowfry the ﬁllets until cooked and golden, approximately 3–5 minutes each side depending on the thickness of the ﬁsh. Remove from the pan to kitchen paper, then serve hot with a good squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Note: A white boneless ﬁsh such as dory works well in this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Sift together the ﬂour, baking powder, bicarb soda and cacao, then stir in the chocolate chips and set aside. Cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and creamy. Beat in the vanilla and eggs then fold in the ﬂour mixture and milk and mix until well combined. Mixture will be soft and sticky. Place spoonfuls of cookie dough the size of a large walnut on baking trays. Bake for about 11–12 minutes. Biscuits should not be overcooked and should still be a little soft when taken out of the oven. Cool biscuits completely in the tray before removing them and storing in an airtight container. Note: Quinoa ﬂour can be substituted with regular wheaten ﬂour.
CACAO & QUINOA CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES Makes: 15–18 1½ cups quinoa ﬂour 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda 3 tbsp pure raw cacao powder 250g white chocolate chips 125g butter, at room temperature ¾ cup brown sugar, loosely packed 2 tsp vanilla extract 2 extra-large eggs 2 tbsp milk
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‘QUICK-FIX’ YOGA TEACHER TRAINING
recently sat beside a young guy in a Sydney cafe who excitedly shared with me that he had just returned from Bali where he had “become” a yoga teacher — in three weeks! My jaw dropped. I have taught yoga for over 20 years, studied yoga and postgraduate yoga studies, and currently lecture in yoga studies. I wondered: How can you possibly “become” a yoga teacher in just three weeks? How can this be good education? What a mockery this makes of the yoga schools that dedicate their time to providing diplomas that meet quality educational standards, including the length of time to study. It made me wonder if this quick-fix, instant style of training is a symptom of our fast-paced society and sense of urgency? Our “I want it now” and “I’ll have it now at any cost” attitudes? Good education, as we know from hundreds of years of exploring and applying educational models, takes time. If it were so easy to gain a diploma or degree, why aren’t we teaching medicine, law and physiotherapy in 12 weeks in Bali? (If three weeks equals the traditional 12-month diploma then 12 weeks would be equivalent to a three- or four-year degree.) Would you want someone operating on you if they had done a 12-week medical course in Bali? Good education takes time. It needs to include research, lectures, assessments, practice, query, integration into one’s life, discussion with peers, case studies and learning from a faculty of knowledgeable, qualified teachers. Good education needs to ascertain prequalification of the student to the suitability of the diploma or degree. Attending yoga classes as a student for 12 months does not necessarily mean the
student has the qualities or aptitude to become a good yoga teacher. Good education stands the test of time, providing ongoing education and a career path for those interested in furthering their studies. I encourage students to consider these 10 points before undertaking any yoga teacher training: 1 Is it a quick-fix course or a wellbalanced course run over time? 2 Does it comply with the minimum 200 or 350 hours — over a 12-month period, not several weeks? 3 Does the curriculum cover Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga as a solid, basic foundation level of yoga teaching?
ABOUT IYTA IYTA was one of the ﬁrst non-proﬁt associations dedicated to the professional education of yoga teachers in Australia and is represented in over 20 countries. IYTA has trained approximately 3000 teachers since it was founded in Australia in 1967. It provides diplomas, postgraduate studies, continuing professional development, mentorship and support for its graduates and members (from all yoga disciplines) around Australia and the world. It oﬀers a career path to suitably qualiﬁed teachers through the development and training of its faculty of lecturers. Teachers from around the world can also join the association and become involved in interstate, national and international committee work and continued development of yoga teacher-training courses and workshops.
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4 Does the school have a faculty of experienced, qualified lecturers knowledgeable in their specific subject? Or is it one or two people delivering the whole course? 5 How long has the school been around and does it have the ability to continue to provide education and support into the future? 6 Does the school follow the ethics and values of yoga? Is it non-profit? Does it give to charity or provide scholarships? Is it ego- and/or money-driven? 7 Is the teacher training locking you into someone’s brand of yoga? 8 How is the course assessed and how are you assessed in order to ensure you can actually teach a class in a safe, professional manner? 9 What is the career path offered by the school? 10 What are the prequalifications of the student? Are you required to have a minimum of three years’ experience as a dedicated student? Do you need to have a sponsoring teacher to recommend you as a suitable candidate? Once you have gone through the checklist, listen to your heart. Do you really want to be a yoga teacher and deepen your understanding of yoga, philosophy and science? Then take your time and practise tapas (discipline) and patience. Do your utmost to respect the science and teachings of yoga. Find a good sponsoring teacher who will help you to enrol in a well-balanced, acknowledged yoga teacher-training course. I encourage you to resist the grasping mind and desire for quick-fix solutions. However, don’t dispel your enthusiasm — do your research. Most experienced yoga teachers will admit that once you’re on the path of yoga your learning will never stop. There will always be more to learn, to understand, to uncover. By laying the right foundation, you will have something firm to build on. Help us to pay due diligence to the ancient science of yoga to ensure it is represented as the truly qualified craft that it is and not a quickie holiday course that often leaves students feeling overwhelmed and ill-equipped to teach in a safe and professional manner. Let’s raise the standard, not lower it. T: 1800 449 195 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: iyta.org.au By Mary-Louise Parkinson, president of the International Yoga Teachers Association (IYTA).
INTERNATIONAL YOGA TEACHERS ASSOCIATION
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From top: Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort specialises in fine Fijian hospitality; guests are free to graze in the kitchen garden.
COMPANIES THAT CONNECT As I step on board Captain Cook Cruises (CCC) flagship the MV Reef Endeavour for a cruise through the southern Yasawa and Mamanuca (pronounced Mam-an-ooth-ar) Islands, guitars strum, ukuleles twang, hands clap and voices ring out from smiling faces. My second time aboard, it feels like a reunion among friends. On a previous voyage, we circumnavigated ubiquitous collection box that appears alongside cultural the main island of Viti Levu on a Cultural Explorer cruise. mekes (traditional dance performances). A few dollars go a This time the focus is more islands and beaches, with lots of long way here and most guests consider it a privilege to make snorkelling, swimming and diving expeditions interspersed a small contribution to the education of Fiji’s future leaders. with village visits and cultural performances. Another company leading the way in providing a future CCC is one of Fiji’s most awarded tour operators. With an for Fijians is Pure Fiji. I pop into their headquarters in Suva, ethos of providing sustainable tourism that offers guests a ostensibly to pick up some natural therapy products directly true Fijian experience, the company has long-held connections from the factory but also to find out more about the company with local communities. The crew, many of whom have family itself. As I’m perusing beautifully packaged lotions and ties to the villages we visit, source local produce such as limes potions in the showroom, I hear the familiar uplifting sounds and cassava from the villages as we travel through. of Fijian song. It turns out that staff have decided to give an At Tivua Island, CCC’s marine impromptu performance and have biologists are focusing on Blessed with the luxury of an entire briefly downed tools and lined up conserving marine life while raising chorus-style, singing, clapping island at its disposal (and an owner and dancing. Their joy is infectious awareness of reef conservation through educational programs. and soon I’m laughing and dancing with deep pockets), the resort’s Guests have participated in coral along with them. 250 acres of farmland are used plantings, where corals are The founder of Pure Fiji, to sustain island guests and staﬀ. Gaetene Austin, tells me she cultivated in order to regenerate healthy reef ecosystems. A giant created the company as “a way of clam regeneration project is also underway. CCC also visits investing in Fiji and creating jobs, both for my family and for Makogai Island (during the 11-night Lau Islands cruise), where others”. After her husband passed away and she found herself a giant clam garden project is flourishing. Giant clams the a single mother of seven children, Austin was prompted to size of washing machines are thriving under the protection find a way to earn a living. Recognising that Pacific Islanders of Marine Reserve status. Passengers can snorkel over the have long used coconut oil as the basis for hair and skin gardens or visit the turtle nursery where young turtles are maintenance, she developed soaps and handicrafts using a nurtured before being released back into the sea. ready supply of raw product: coconuts. CCC also supports the education of young Fijians, Pure Fiji is now one of Fiji’s most recognised exporters. contributing both financially and in kind to schools across Seventy-five of the factory’s 100 staff are women, who the country. Many of these schools are in remote villages traditionally have few employment opportunities. Additionally, with little or no electricity, relying on generators or solar the company creates jobs for about 700 others in rural areas systems to power basic needs. Many children have little through its handmade paper project. Pure Fiji sources from access to computers that Australians take for granted. Guests village communities raw materials such as cold-pressed are encouraged to donate basic items like exercise books, coconut oil, bark cloth, coconut rope and the delicately woven pencils and reading books, or to leave cash donations in the baskets that products are packaged in.
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Photography Fiona Harper
are few opportunities in this remote location beyond a handful of tourist businesses. It’s also home to Qamea Resort and Spa, a small resort that has been around for a while. I arrived by a circuitous route that took most of the day and involved a taxi, a minivan and a couple of small boats across open water, and it was a relief to eventually step ashore. Qamea has a reputation as a bespoke luxury resort sited on one of the South Pacific’s prettiest beaches. I’d also heard it had a strong environmental focus. Its 17 small bures are clustered among manicured gardens with a backdrop of jagged volcanic mountains clad in lush vegetation. Visually, it is beautiful. Sun-drenched beaches kissed by a turquoise sea. Kaleidoscopic fish dart through coral gardens. Coconut palms swish in the gentle trade winds, creating a melodic soundtrack to a South Pacific idyll. Only Qamea fell a little short of expectations. I tried so hard to love the resort; as with a long-lost love rekindled, I lobbed onto her shores anticipating an open-armed welcome. Yet to be fair, judging by online guest reviews, others have been besotted with the place. Conspicuously, there was no Nisa Lei sung on departure: was that an oversight or final confirmation of staff apathy?
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Health Sciences Postgraduate Information Evening
Kate Landolina Master of Psychology
To ﬁnd out more about the specialist Health Sciences programs available at RMIT, attend our Postgraduate Information Evening. Wednesday 15 October, 4.30 pm - 6.30 pm, Storey Hall, 336 - 348 Swanston Street, Melbourne > Register online
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NATURAL BEAUTY BY CARLA OATES
SLEEP FOR YOUR SKIN tryptophan. Research shows that selenium-rich foods may also help reduce wakefulness at night. So how can improved sleep be one of your best skin and body treatments? 1 Getting eight hours can help you look younger. While you sleep, your body releases the anti-ageing hormone melatonin and human growth hormone, which increases the activity of the main antioxidant enzymes that protect cells — and skin — against free-radical damage. 2 Good sleep can boost your sense of wellbeing. A good night’s sleep helps your brain to form new pathways, which allows you to learn and remember information, enhances your problemsolving skills and kick-starts creativity. Not enough sleep, however, can lead to psychological stress, which can trigger the release of neuropeptides that can affect your complexion by increasing the production of excess sebum and inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, both of which can lead to acne. 3 Sleep deficiency can trigger skin conditions. A lack of sleep leaves you looking tired and prone to to dark circles and can also weaken your immune system, which may trigger skin disorders such as eczema. A bad night’s sleep also increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which blocks the formation of collagen, the main protein that keeps skin tight and toned. High levels of cortisol also affect immune cells in the epidermis, which can weaken the skin’s defences against UV light, pollutants and infections. 4 Resting can improve the look of your skin. According to the British Association of Dermatologists, a state of “relaxed wakefulness” — ie meditation or any peaceful activity — can produce similar benefits to those from sleep. 5 Sleep affects weight-controlling hormones. Leptin and ghrelin work together to control appetite. Ghrelin, which is produced in the gut, stimulates appetite; leptin, produced in fat cells, sends a signal to the brain when you’re full. Lack of sleep depletes leptin levels, which means you don’t feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, meaning your appetite is stimulated, so you crave more food. 6 Products are absorbed more easily at night. Research shows that your body’s blood flow increases at night, which increases the area of absorption for moisture and nutrients, too.
NIGHTTIME REPAIR OIL 30mL apricot kernel oil 10mL macadamia nut oil 10mL rosehip oil 2 drops carrot seed oil 3 drops lavender essential oil Mix together all ingredients and store in a 50mL amber dropper bottle.
CARLA OATES is a natural beauty expert and the author of Feeding Your Skin.
Passionﬂower tea contains high levels of chemicals that act on your nervous system to make you tired.
ow can you improve your health and beauty, creativity, confidence, clarity, decision-making skills, happiness and good health without spending lots of money and in the comfort of your own home? By getting good-quality sleep. According to Dr Stuart Quan and Dr Russell Sanna from Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine in the US, “Sleep deprivation negatively impacts our mood, our ability to focus and our ability to access higher-level cognitive functions: the combination of these factors is what we generally refer to as mental performance.” Research reveals that a spike in stress levels can wreak havoc on the skin and waistline, while a study at Duke University in the US found that poor sleep is associated with higher stress levels and a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes. To improve your quality of sleep you need to reassess your sleep hygiene: rituals around sleep time. Often adults need to re-learn how to settle and get the most out of their slumber. Going to bed and waking at a regular time helps train your body clock to get into a rhythm that makes it easy. Getting 7–9 hours of good-quality sleep is best. Artificial light is probably the most effective suppressant of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep and wake cycles. Avoiding computer screens a few hours before bedtime is helpful for sleeping more successfully. Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine will also improve your sleep, as will exercising during the day. What we consume can also help to get a good snooze. Chamomile tea will help you sleep, according to researchers; drinking chamomile is associated with an increase in glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles and acts like a mild sedative. Passionflower tea contains high levels of chemicals that act on your nervous system to make you tired. Tryptophan, abundant in cashew nuts, chickpeas, turkey and walnuts, is a sleep-boosting amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin. Magnesium-rich foods, including green leafy vegies, nuts and seeds, brown rice, fish, beans and lentils, avocados and cocoa, may also help you stay asleep. Research shows that, when the body’s magnesium levels are too low, it’s harder to stay asleep. Calcium in dairy and green leafy vegies helps the brain use the tryptophan found in dairy to manufacture sleep-triggering melatonin. Sunflower seeds, walnuts, tuna, halibut, salmon, turkey and chicken are all high in vitamin B6, which your body needs to make serotonin and melatonin. Other useful foods for boosting melatonin are pineapples, bananas, oranges and oats. Recent research heralds tart cherries as the optimum food for helping you sleep. Not only do they boost melatonin but the proanthocyanidins in cherries help inhibit an enzyme that degrades
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QUICK KITCHEN BY LEE HOLMES
THE GUT–BRAIN AXIS
LEE HOLMES runs the blog Supercharged Food. Visit superchargedfood. com for more cooking inspiration, recipes and tips. These recipes are from Lee’s e-book Heal Your Gut.
Serotonin is [the neurotransmitter] responsible for feelings of wellbeing and happiness, and is found in its greatest concentration in the gut.
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Kefir Yoghurt SERVES: 2 PREP & ACTIVATION TIME: 24–48 HOURS
A sterilised glass bowl or large jar, blender, strainer, cheesecloth,
elastic band, wooden spoon (avoid using metal and store in a
glass jar) 3 young coconuts (room temperature)
2 probiotic capsules or 1 tbsp powder (dairy-free)
Open coconuts and strain water into glass jar and set aside. Scrape out coconut flesh, trying not to get any husk, and place in a blender. Add coconut water and blend until creamy. It should be the consistency of yoghurt. Pour into a glass bowl and add probiotic capsule or powder. Cover with cheesecloth and elastic band and place in cool, dry, dark place for 24–48 hours; it should taste fairly sharp without any sweetness. Add stevia to taste or serve with fresh berries.
Turnip & Cauliflower Soup SERVES: 4 COOKING TIME: 30 MINS
2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil 1 large onion, chopped 3 sticks celery, chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed 1 head cauliflower 2 small round turnips, chopped 1 tbsp fresh ginger,
crushed & sliced into 2 or 3 chunks 1½ tsp ocean sea salt ¼ tsp cracked pepper 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes Handful continental parsley 3 cups homemade or no-additive chicken broth or filtered water
Warm oil in a large pan to a moderate temperature. Add onion, celery and garlic. Sauté over medium heat and stir until well coated with the oil, then add cauliflower and turnip and cook for 10 minutes. Add ginger, salt and pepper, yeast flakes and parsley and stir well. Add chicken stock and bring to boil, stirring a couple of times. Reduce heat and cover, cooking for 20 minutes. Transfer to blender and purée. Return to the pan if it needs warming up.
Super Green Soup SERVES: 2–3 COOKING TIME: 30 MINS
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive or coconut oil 1 onion, chopped 1 leek, chopped 3 garlic cloves 2 sticks celery, sliced 2 broccoli bunches, chopped 1 bunch kale, chopped
2 cups vegie stock 1 can coconut milk (no additives) Pinch Celtic sea salt Freshly ground pepper, to taste 2 tbsp lemon juice & nutritional yeast flakes, to serve
Heat oil in a heavy-based pan. Brown onions, leek and garlic. Add celery, broccoli and kale and stirfry for 5 minutes. Add stock and coconut milk. Bring to boil; simmer for 15–20 minutes. Transfer to blender, blend until smooth. Return to pan to heat. Season to taste. Stir in lemon juice and sprinkle on nutritional yeast flakes to serve.
ometimes when you’re feeling stressed and anxious it can make you feel sick to the stomach. There is a good reason for that: the stomach or gut is one of the key connections to brain and emotional health. This connection is known as the gut–brain axis. In fact, your body has two nervous systems: the central nervous system, your brain and spinal cord; and the enteric nervous system, the intrinsic nervous system of your gastrointestinal tract. These are formed at the same time during foetal development from identical tissues connected via the vagus nerve: the 10th cranial nerve that runs from your brainstem to your abdomen. This is the primary route your gut bacteria use to transmit messages to your brain. Just as you have neurons in your brain, you also have neurons within your gut. This includes neurons that produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for feelings of wellbeing and happiness and is found in its greatest concentration in the gut, not the brain. The ability of the gut microbiota to communicate with the brain and influence behaviour is emerging as a very exciting concept in the scientific world of health and disease. Research has shown that the presence of Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 normalises anxiety-like behaviour in mice. Other findings include the ability of certain probiotics to modulate antidepressant-like behaviour by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines and increasing levels of tryptophan, both of which have been implicated in depression. The close connection between stress-related psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety and gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel disease provide further proof of the gut–brain axis. The impact of poor gut health on the functioning of the brain has been scientifically linked to a range of illnesses, including ADHD, autism, chronic fatigue, OCD, Tourette syndrome and anxiety and depression. Stress and emotional factors can override even the most perfect diet. Stress causes many changes in the gut, including alterations in gastric secretion, gut motility, mucosal permeability, viscal sensitivity and barrier function. Evidence also suggests that the hormones secreted during a stress response contribute to the overgrowth of bad bacteria. Your gut and your emotions are a two-way street, so addressing the state of your mental health — not just the food you eat — is vital.
BY SALLY MATHRICK
DETOX YOUR CONVERSATIONS
he way you communicate both reflects and affects the way you think. Your thoughts affect your physiology, in fact. Science has unequivocally shown that your psychology interacts with your nervous, hormone and immune systems. For example, watching TV can subject your body to a rollercoaster of emotional and energetic states, from horror and sadness to romantic swooning, simply through your mind’s engagement with the flickering lights dancing across the screen. This evidence is the result of a convergent science called psycho-neuroendocrinology or –immunology (PNI), which essentially also validates many of the New Age concepts regarding the powers of your mind. Interestingly, this thinking is echoed in the pioneering Nature Cure doctors’ advice about healthy mental activity. In Nature Cure, written in 1913, Henry Lindlahr describes the importance of “mental therapeutics” and how harmonious vibratory influences caused by “correct” thinking — aligning with love, hope, faith, cheerfulness, sympathy and altruism — enable the human to open to the inflow and action of the vital energies, or the “vital healing force” that naturopathy is based on. Most of contemporary Western civilisation is suffering suboptimal health, not to mention the pathological epidemics of obesity, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The average human experiences discordant, not harmonious, functioning of their 50–75 trillion (or so) cells. As a race, we are not delighting daily in the vital energies that enliven and surround us. There is, of course, a multitude of factors that contribute to this less-than-optimal state of existence. One factor to consider is the level of violence and “toxicity” in our accepted communication patterns.
CLEAR COMMUNICATION Violence is so common in our communication patterns that it’s considered “normal”. The general tone of the public voice (through mainstream media channels) is not a nurturing one that encourages what is alive and meaningful, but actually one that drives home either inadequacy or success and superiority. Our language is littered with subliminal putdowns or ego-building comments. Marshall Rosenberg, who pioneered Nonviolent Communication, suggests that 8000 years ago, around the time that writing began, our manner of communicating shifted to coerce the majority of people to work and serve a small minority. Inherent in communication now is the concept of reward or punishment. It lacks the
capacity to accept the present and doesn’t value why things are important to us, nor recognise what our true needs and longings are. How we learn to communicate and think is a result of our socialisation and education, and we often don’t give it a second thought. This communication includes how we talk to ourselves as much as how we speak to others. We continue to replicate the thinking patterns of the past and, consequently, we retard the creation of a future in which we could be thriving and peaceful. Indeed, the wars that rage throughout the world could well be defused by a change in communication practice and the “holding of space” to enquire and recognise what each party’s true needs are. These needs are often very similar — for example, the universal human need for safety. Marshall Rosenberg’s work provides many cues on how to navigate out of the argumentative quagmires our globe gets bogged down in. YouTube provides many insights into his approach to communication. I recently attended a workshop on dialogue run by Michael Hahn of The Talking Stick, where a range of communication models was presented and experienced. I came to understand what dialogue is. It is the act of thinking together. Not the act of downloading one person’s thinking or debating a stance or discussing and negotiating a compromise, but the communication process that values and uses the collective knowledge as a platform from which to enable the creation of a new solution and a new way of thinking. In both individual and international forums, we desperately need a way to crack the entrenched moulds of the unhealthy and destructive systems we function in. The fifth president of Iran Mohammad Khatami, Pope Francis and many other world leaders are calling for a dialogic platform that helps to build bridges of understanding to enable transformative, reflective, ethical decision making. On a personal level, this process of dialogue can also help to move more people towards the energy that is lifeaffirming, inspiring and inclusive. If you are being influenced by harmonious communication during your interactions, you feel happy. You don’t need to consume anything. Any drive to disrupt others (to abate your own pain) is diminished. When we’re happy, we go with life and we celebrate. We can surrender into utter awe and amazement and be open to the creative energies manifesting in that flow. We can let go of the stale, poisonous paradigms that have bequeathed us toxic body-burdens and live in a paradigm that meets the current moment in a harmonious, alive way. At the very least, watch TV that inspires you.
SALLY MATHRICK is a practising naturopath. She runs Sparkle Detox and Wellness Courses and Retreats. See sparklewell.com.au for more information.
Dialogue is the act of thinking together.
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COLUMN DIGGING IN
BY JACKIE FRENCH
GROWING UP & HANGING DOWN
JACKIE FRENCH is the author of The Chook Book (Aird Books). Her oldest chook, Gertie, is now 17. Although Gertie’s sisters have all long since fallen oﬀ the perch, Gertie still lays extremely large brown eggs most days of the year.
The trick to planting hanging gardens is to plant plants that like hanging out, preferably together.
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compost if you have some. Don’t stuff in too much or it’ll spill out later. Step 6. Plant one seedling in each hole. Step 7. Water. Spray the whole thing with the hose.
PLANTS TO GROW The trick to planting hanging gardens is to choose plants that like hanging out, preferably together. Avoid any that grow too big — they’ll either drag the garden down or possibly fall out. Sprawlers are great and they quickly cover the bag. Consider where the garden is, too: sunny or semi-shaded. In cool climates, vertical gardens gain the warmth of the walls around them. In hot climates, an exposed hanging garden will quickly become hot and dry. Flowers. Pansies, impatiens, heartsease, alyssum, nasturtiums and petunias, petunias, petunias and pelargoniums, especially climbing ones. Miniature roses also work, as long as you feed and water often. In the worst positions, try echeveria or zygocactus, which bloom and bloom all winter. Herbs. Basil, parsley, coriander, aloe vera ... Vertical gardens are superb for hot-climate herbs like lemongrass. It doesn’t “hang” but it does grow tall and clump wonderfully, so with good watering and feeding you’ll have the “bed” covered in a few months. Tarragon is also superb as would be a collection of thymes — they, too, love the sunlight. Golden marjoram can look fantastic, quickly forming its own dense vertical mat. Chives do excellently, as do garlic chives. Vegetables. Lettuces work with daily watering and weekly feeding, especially red frilly ones that are more heat-hardy than green ones. Cherry tomatoes are good, again if regularly fed, but the big-fruited ones may become too heavy. Sun- and drought-hardy apple cucumbers are perfect. Try shallots, using their tops like spring onions, or spring onions themselves. They grow fast and prolifically. Fruit. Strawberries are the classic vertical garden fruit. Try several varieties so you get more constant crops. Rhubarb also does surprisingly well. The stems won’t get very big but, if you keep picking the stems, you’ll get fruit every week all year round. Or do the most old-fashioned “vertical garden”, which has been around for several thousands of years: go for pots and trellises, climbing grapes, kiwifruit, rambling roses, bougainvillea and hops. This is also suitable for skyscrapers. If you have enough plants, a trellis and a watering system, you can reach for the sky.
ertical and hanging gardens are fashionable and gorgeous, covering once-bare concrete walls from tiny to many storeys high. They can also be incredibly expensive, the largest and most exquisite tailor-made for their location. A large vertical garden needs to be carefully engineered, sited and planned. Beware of gardens falling on guests, small children or curious cats, rotting wood supports or patio floors from always-moist soil, and dribbling dirt. If you are, however, less ambitious — and more inventive — you can create your own vertical garden. Here are points to remember: 1 Dirt is heavy; water is heavier — 1L equals 1kg. Wet soil can be very heavy indeed, especially if pumpkins, melons or giant zucchini have added their own weight to a basic garden. Make sure the wall, joist, rafter or whatever else your garden is supported by can take the weight of the soil plus water — and the increasing weight as the plants grow. Check it is sound, too. 2 Gardens are moist, even if the soil is dry. Watch out for rotting walls below the garden or rot where water drips or sits. 3 Track the drips! If you have a neighbour in the flat below they may not like your garden overflow. 4 Beware of falling fruit. And pumpkins. A small way to start is with a 1m-wide by 1m-long by 30cm-wide weed-mat garden. Weed mat is porous. Other materials can be used, too — I have seen an excellent hanging garden made out of recycled chook-food bags. But beware of plastic, which rots and may collapse unexpectedly. Carpet is possible but, again, look out for rot. An elderly doona will work but for one season only, then compost it. Step 1. Buy the weed mat or whatever other material you choose. Step 2. Cut it into some metre-wide and metrelong strips. Step 3. Sew together two sides, back and front, like you would if making a quilt, and stitch three rows to divide it up longways and crossways. You will end up with something that looks like an ugly patchwork quilt. Step 4. Hang up the mat. You can: nail it to the top of the wall (use several nails, as it gets very heavy) fasten ropes to the top and attach the ropes to the other side of the wall (good for brick walls where you can’t hammer in nails) hook it to the top of the wall with several pieces of bent wire (again, use a lot as it’ll get heavy) nail it to a post hang it on a frame Step 5. Cut small slits in the top of each “patch” and stuff each with potting mixture or silt or
BY KAREN GOLDRICK
THE DESEXING DILEMMA
esexing of dogs, or neutering, is the practice of surgically removing, under general anaesthesia, the reproductive organs to prevent unwanted pups. It may also be called speying (female dogs) or castration (male dogs). Desexing was started in the US as a way of managing the stray dog population, which had resulted in increased incidence of disease among dogs, as well as an increased pool of zoonotic diseases, eg sarcoptic mange, worm infestations and infectious diseases like rabies. Desexing also reduces some less-thandesirable antisocial behaviour, eg hypersexual behaviour and inter-dog aggression. Desexed female dogs do not undergo the twice-yearly oestrus with resultant bleeding and attraction to males, a hassle for owners. It’s now common practice for young dogs and cats to be desexed at six months of age. I was taught, like most of my colleagues, that desexing of female dogs before their first season would benefit their health, with reduced incidence of mammary tumours later in life. It also reduces the incidence of serious uterine infection such as pyometra, which can be life-threatening and require emergency ovariohysterectomy surgery. For male dogs, neutering reduces the risk of testicular tumours, perianal fistulas and other tumours such as perianal tumours. Entire (non-desexed) male dogs are more likely to have prostate gland problems, although not necessarily increased risk of prostate cancer. There have recently been articles, however, discussing increased risks of some serious illnesses among dogs that have been desexed, especially if done early. As a result, new puppy owners are asking whether their pet should be desexed at all.
QUESTIONS RAISED A retrospective study of 2505 Hungarian Vislas, from 1992 to 2008, showed increased rates of some cancers among desexed dogs, as well as increased incidence of behavioural disorders. Another paper discusses the effects of desexing Golden Retrievers. Results show increased incidence of lymphosarcoma, mast cell tumours and haemangiosarcoma, in addition to hip dysplasia and cranial cruciate tears among desexed dogs, compared with entire Golden Retrievers. A study of Rottweilers, a breed that is predisposed to malignant bone cancer (osteosarcoma), showed that early-desexed female dogs (before one year of age) have a 25.1 per cent chance of developing the disease. These are alarming findings for those of us working in the animal health industry.
So what do we, as vets and pet owners, do with this vast and rapidly changing information? This is the benefit and curse of the worldwide internet; gone are the days of a single medical textbook that was updated every few years. Local councils in NSW require mandatory registration and microchipping of all dogs and cats. Fees for registration are cheaper for pets that are desexed and a certificate is required. Like other aspects of routine veterinary medicine in recent years (that is, annual vaccines and the pet food industry), there is now a need to discuss both the individual and the herd health aspects of these decisions with owners. Armed with both the positive and negative information, we as vets can help pet owners decide which way they want to go with their pets, based on breed, health risks and lifestyle, and ensure they understand the possible ramifications of their decisions.
KAREN GOLDRICK is a holistic veterinarian at All Natural Vet Care, Russell Lea, Sydney, Australia. T: +61 2 9712 5844 W: naturalvet.com.au
THE HOLISTIC PERSPECTIVE What about the holistic perspective? Holistic medicine is about the animal as a whole. This includes not only the pet’s health but its environment. In most cases, in an urban environment, we may still recommend desexing of dogs (and especially of cats). However, there may be steps we can take to reduce some of the potential risks. Later desexing, delaying until after the dog is fully grown, may reduce the risk of lymphoma and bone cancer in medium-to-large breed dogs. Alternatively, new desexing techniques, such as vasectomy or ovarian tubal ligation, may be an option. These will need to be taught at the vet school level and do not remove the risk for testicular tumours, uterine infection or mammary tumours; nor do they reduce behavioural problems such as aggression, but they will prevent breeding. There may be diet strategies to help reduce the effects of hormone loss in dogs and cats and help slow or prevent later disease. Weight gain can be prevented by diets that reduce insulin resistance, as well as regular appropriate exercise. There may be a role for supplements such as antioxidants and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Herbs that support hormones — eg saw palmetto or phytoestrogens — may have a part to play. In traditional Chinese medicine, desexing may deplete or damage kidney yin, or essence, so appropriately prescribed formulae may be used. These are all new ideas, yet to be fully embraced in veterinary medicine. It may be years before there are broad changes to this routine practice and even more years before the results of such changes are known.
There may be diet strategies to help reduce the eﬀects of hormone loss in dogs and cats and help slow or prevent later disease.
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STARGAZING NOVEMBER & DECEMBER 2014 BY CHRISTINE BROADBENT
Since Scorpio New Moon on Oct 24, Lover Venus has been an ally. Nov 2–12 pleases, only to meet a Saturn-Venus checkpoint Nov 13. Use your eagle eye to penetrate the secrets of the obstacles in your path. Apply what you learn for ﬁnancial or strategic advantage Nov 17–26. The week before Dec 22 Full Moon is special: a positive shift occurs and your highvoltage emotions light up an inner terrain you’ve ignored for a while. Enjoy!
CHRISTINE BROADBENT loves her work oﬀering personal consultations for life direction, business timing and relationship insights. She teaches astrology in both Sydney, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand, and will be oﬀering a Sydney workshop in December. Private mentoring is also available. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +61 402 664 101.
CAPRICORN November’s first week reaches Full Moon in sensual Taurus Nov 7, perfect for happy bonding, friends, financial success. Nov 11, 13 & 20–21 need a flexible, cautious approach, yet this month is mostly positive with great potential for action. Business acumen is strong Dec 1–9; following your instincts and spontaneous enthusiasm are key. Lover Venus enters Capricorn Dec 11: enjoy home comforts, beautifying your space, expressing your love.
AQUARIUS Unexpected shifts can be fun, but you prefer to instigate change. With Jupiter in your opposite sign, however, others often call the shifts now. Constrictive Saturn slows things down at home through family matters or the most personal home — your body. Attend to these areas for a sweet November; Nov 10, 13– 14 & 18, a protective attitude is wise. New Moon Nov 22 rings changes that better suit you,
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with Nov 28–Dec 14 particularly satisfying and sociable.
PISCES The sign of the ish can be canny, anticipating things before they happen; maximise this in November. Earth and Water harmonies mean nourishing relationships support your moves and finances, notably Nov 2–7 & 12–21. You may have a key role to play regarding a chaos factor Nov 10–14 by helping others. Neptune in Pisces stirs ambiguity, helping to confuse issues Nov 21, 23, 27 & Dec 1. You are on safer ground for this career-boost cycle Dec 2–20 when much can be achieved.
ARIES With feisty Mars in your career zone November and early December, you aim high. Earthy harmonies support this but a few big checkpoints need patience. Nov 11, 13 & 20, Mars could push you into reactive or aggressive situations. Avoid people and situations like this. Direct this energy into specific, simple goals. Mars moves on before Full Moon Dec 6. Shared interests support travel or teaching/learning in December. Inspired communication and ideas inform the positive shifts of mid-December.
TAURUS Taurus has reason to feel good early November and on Taurus Full Moon Nov 7. With Venus in your partner sign, love flows, yet Saturn joins in Nov 13–14, suggesting some constraints. Controlling people or situations need patience; deep understanding
Aim for easy targets these months, while keeping your mind open to going beyond the possible. November stresses the need for realism and eﬀective choices; December has grand potential for ﬂying high. With Sagittarius New Moon Nov 22, Venus in Sagittarius Nov 17–Dec 11, and lucky Jupiter opening new horizons for seven more months, now is the time to deﬁne those new horizons. Mars adds staying power Dec 2–21, boosted by home environs and family support.
can be forged Nov 12–22, despite elements of chaos. With Jupiter expanding home pleasures or prompting the search for a new home, this gets support from December’s fiery harmonies, notably Dec 2–12. Travel starts to appeal but don’t depart on Dec 21.
GEMINI While clever, versatile and mentally tuned in, the Gemini nervous system easily overloads. November’s earthy energies help you relax, enjoy home times, do small tasks, order finances. Once Mercury enters your partner sign Nov 28, things speed up, reaching a lunar climax of Gemini Full Moon Dec 6. This coincides with an aspect of reinvention, a time to ask: what am I willing to embrace and what needs rethinking? Dec 9–15 clarifies many things. Choose carefully how to focus this magic month.
CANCER Water-sign harmonies help settle nerves in November, despite potential periods of pressure or high expectations Nov 11–13. Your instincts are strong and can help you reach goals in November, with 16–22 notably fertile. Relationships get juicy Dec 2–15; 17–26 is a potent family time. Challenges to peace and harmony are most likely Dec 15 & 21 and best navigated using detached observation. Other people may behave oddly, yet December helps you rekindle an old aim.
LEO November puts you on notice that family life and home maintenance will dominate
your time. Nov 17–18 brings a renewed sense of responsibility plus an optimistic energy that keeps you engaged. Enthusiasm, inspiring work, maybe even travel plans surface as December fires up Leo’s creativity. Jupiter in Leo moves into fast mode as fiery planets raise your core temperature. Numerous things coalesce Dec 1–6, with extra mental energy producing inspiring plans Dec 9–16.
VIRGO Virgo may be mental as anything, but also earthy and peace-loving. Mars is in your love and creativity sign, as are many Water-sign harmonies, making you a warrior for peace in November. At Full Moon Nov 7, you may be inspired to unite two conflicting people or ideas. This takes on an extra-analytical quality with Mercury’s new cycle Nov 9–28, profiling your cognitive skills. Dec 2 evokes your strengths; Venus in your love sign Dec 11–31 evokes intense feelings.
LIBRA With Mercury in Libra in the first week of November, aided by Jupiter’s lucky energy expanding communications, you build allegiances, impressing all. Yet Nov 11, 13 & 20 can be confrontational, and difficult people or situations may derail plans. Nov 27–Dec 5 is an excellent time to start change, launch a website or rethink goals. Dec 6 Full Moon adds an adventurous thrust to practical plans and a special five days follow, with Venus in playful mode. Around Dec 21 an old issue finally closes.
AGEING WELL BY MICHAEL ELSTEIN
THE PERIODONTITIS THREAT
nyone who thinks periodontitis, when poor dental hygiene leads to compromised gum status and consequently tooth loss takes hold, is simply a disease of ageing might need to rearrange their mindset. One in five Australians has periodontitis and, with the incidence increasing minimally with ageing, it’s as much a disease of the young as it is of older folk. On the plus side, we are faring much better than our American compatriots: a staggering 50 per cent of the US adult population has to deal with the consequences of this disorder, ramifications which extend way beyond mere gum decay and the forfeiting of one of our most prized natural assets. Technically, periodontitis is a consortium of inflammatory diseases affecting the periodontium, the tissue that houses your teeth. Inflammation is usually a useful operation harnessed by our immune systems to ward off threatening microbes, but when this process becomes ongoing, often as a result of bacteria overcoming our defences and staging a successful insurgency, we are forced to maintain some form of inflammatory cordon in the hope of one day defeating the enemy. The problem with inflammatory cells is they are highly rambunctious and in their need to vent their rage and indignation attack our own tissue, inevitably seeding a pathway of decimation. What spawns the development of inflammation is the accumulation of fungi and bacteria at the base of the tooth, in the form of an amorphous lethal mass called dental plaque. Although this deadly explosive material can often generate a number of symptoms, including bleeding while brushing, flossing or biting into hard food, as well as redness of gums and bad breath, pain may not be a presenting feature, allowing the damage to proceed unnoticed until a probe is applied to your receding gums, which defines the extent of bone loss around the tissue cradling the teeth. As many of us are not fastidiously devoted to flossing, especially when we are younger, poor dental hygiene is one of the primary reasons for the pre-eminence of this disease. Smoking, diabetes and elevated blood sugar are other documented causes of periodontitis. Dry mouth and the excessive consumption of carbohydrates and fructose found in fruit juices also encourage harmful bugs to replicate. Aside from the devastating consequence of possibly losing teeth, the inflammatory wildfire unleashed by periodontitis has the potential to extend way beyond the mouth. There virtually isn’t a medical condition that isn’t linked in
some documented fashion to this insidious disorder. Blocked arteries and heart disease, blood clots, stroke, lung infections, prostatitis, erectile dysfunction and even Alzheimer’s dementia are all connected. Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are associated in a bidirectional fashion, with research suggesting periodontitis might be a trigger for these diseases as well as causing their symptoms to be more disabling, while also manifesting in a more severe fashion if these conditions are present. Periodontitis causes blood glucose levels to escalate, making diabetes increasingly unmanageable. Obesity is another end result of a situation that is raging out of control.
TREATMENT What makes periodontitis so difficult to restrain once it has set in is the presence of a rather malicious and unscrupulous triumvirate of germs known as “the red-complex” bacteria, including Porphyromonas gingivalis, Tannerella forsythia and Treponema denticola, all of which are as foreboding as they sound. Not only do these bacteria overcome a local immune system that is well armed and usually highly competent, they also commandeer a flotilla of inflammatory cells, employing them to cut a swathe of destruction through vulnerable gum tissue. This permits the establishment of an impenetrable fortress that is hell-bent on eroding bone, which ultimately makes teeth unstable. Treatment needs to eradicate the safe haven that houses the inflammatory cells and bacteria that are not only locally active but are also conducting regular sorties all around your body. Once the periodontologist has removed the plaque that harbours the insurrection, daily use of an interdental brush — or twice daily if the disease is advanced — is mandatory to prevent any calculus or infective material from reaccumulating around your teeth. Aside from anti-bacterial mouthwashes such as chlorhexidine, and antibiotics in more severe cases, there’s a host of natural remedies that can play a preventive and treatment role. Various strains of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria have been shown to reduce inflammation and to neutralise the dangerous bacteria. Cranberry, green tea, xylitol lozenges, 4-methoxycarbonyl curcumin, aloe vera and soy isoflavones all have the power to eradicate plaque, inhibit bacteria and modulate inflammation, especially when delivered locally in the form of gels or rinses. In the war against periodontitis, you need to enlist all of nature’s warriors.
DR MICHAEL ELSTEIN is an anti-ageing physician and writer based in Sydney, Australia. He is the author of three books, including his latest, The Wellness Guide to Preventing the Diseases of Ageing. He has also designed the app The Diet Guide to Ageing Prevention.
There virtually isn’t a medical condition that isn’t linked in some documented fashion to this insidious disorder.
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BACK TO BASICS BY KARIN CUTTER
T KARIN CUTTER runs a naturopathic clinic in Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia. T: +61 2 6582 4435
Anxiety can lead to a surprising level of water loss due to sustained respiratory modiﬁcations such as accelerated breathing and heavy sighing.
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wo years ago I received the following letter from a very concerned and caring wife of an old client: “Since our last communication (concerning my daughter), my husband Alan has had a cardiac arrest while we were staying overnight with relatives. One week later, he was out of hospital, sporting a defibrillator and now, six weeks later, he has started cardiac rehabilitation with few obvious after-effects. The doctors put it down to a viral infection of the heart muscle: cardiomyopathy. His large vessels were normal, except for 80 per cent stenosis of a small diagonal vessel. He is currently on medication that he would prefer not to have. We have a ‘miracle man’ with us largely, we think, due to his basic good health having followed the principles of your diet regime. However, over the past several years he has strayed pretty much and has not been taking any supporting nutrients. He has also had dental infections and consequent root canals. Over the past 15 months, he has had ‘palpitation sessions’ accompanied by vomiting — usually after exertion or ‘bad’ food, caffeine and alcohol. We would both like to be reassessed and return to appropriate foods and supplements.” A thorough screening of Alan’s biochemistry revealed the following information: Critically depleted nutrient reserves associated with liver detoxification pathways, especially: choline, ascorbic acid, mixed tocopherols, copper, manganese, ubiquinol, thiols, bioflavonoids and glutamine. Inefficient nerve conduction. Impaired energy pathways associated with the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, an important mediator of muscle contraction. Inefficient choline-dependent immune response. (Choline does not have the glamorous profile of some of the better-known vitamins, yet even a slight deficiency can have an inhibitory impact on brain, liver, kidney, pancreatic and parasympathetic nerve function. Choline deficiency has also been associated with an increased degree of free-radical activity in liver, kidney and heart tissue.) Indications of a tendency to insulin resistance, which has been linked to a group of risk factors for heart diseases and stroke. (Insulin receptors are present in heart membranes, where the hormone regulates a number of processes, including myocardial energy metabolism, heart muscle contractility, protein expression and ion transport mechanisms.) Marked sensitivity to MSG. (Unfortunately, this additive is hard to escape, being in thousands of processed foods. MSG is made up of sodium and amino acid, glutamic acid. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and, as such, are vital to every living
organism. When glutamic acid is withdrawn from its natural food source, without its companion amino acids, it has no nutritional value whatsoever and can cause symptoms characteristic of mild toxicity, because the body may attempt to handle it as a foreign substance. Research has shown that glutamate receptors in the heart are damaged by MSGderived free radicals.) Alan had no trouble returning to the alcohol-free, healthy, organic, high-raw-food diet from which he had gradually veered over the years. He now had an even better understanding of its value! He also resumed supplements that had stood him in good stead in the past: cholecalciferol (vitamin D), essential fatty acids, ubiquinol (active form of co-enzyme Q10), ascorbate electrolytes, trace mineral complex and liver support. Alan made a very good recovery and began to live a full and energy-filled life again. His regular blood and other medical tests returned satisfactory results. Several months later, I received a panicked call from Patsy, Alan’s wife. He had suddenly begun to experience weakness and dizzy spells. Alan’s GP diagnosed low blood pressure, but a thorough heart check showed that there was no reason for concern. After questioning and examining Alan carefully, I suspected he was suffering from dehydration. He was, evidently, anxiety-prone and not coping with the pressure of work. Fortunately, retirement was scheduled for just a few months’ time. Dehydration occurs, basically, when the loss of body fluids (mainly water) is greater than the amount taken back into the system. Alan’s urine was a deeper colour than normal — orange veering to brown. Even allowing for the deeper shade of yellow attributable to his vitamin C and B complex supplements, the colour was one to check out. There were no indications of blood, elevated glucose, ketones or other anomalies when the urine was tested, but Alan frequently complained of a dry mouth and “sticky” tongue, especially during the night. He always took a large glass of water to bed with him and it was fully drained by morning. Every day we constantly lose water in the form of water vapour as we breathe and exhale, and anxiety can lead to a surprising level of water loss due to sustained respiratory modifications such as accelerated breathing and heavy sighing. A few days later, Patsy phoned again: “We have been really diligent about correct foods, the supplements and keeping Alan’s water intake up.” Since then, he has felt totally well and, almost a year later, Alan remains hale and hearty.
A CASE OF DEHYDRATION
REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE BY ANDY HARRISON
CRASH, REHAB, COMPETE Being hit by a car while training for a triathlon dramatically changed Andy Harrison’s life, but his self-talk helped him get back on his feet.
t was December 1992 and, come what may, I was going to finish the Ironman triathlon faster that year. Marathons, triathlons — I’d had a go at them all. While out cycle training, however, my life changed forever. Although it was a clear summer afternoon, I was hit from behind by a car travelling in excess of 100km/h. Add to that the 40km/h at which I was cycling — according to the bike speedometer, which froze — and I made a high-speed impact with the road. The result was broken legs, hands, shoulder, ankle, shattered knees and, worst of all, a 3mm mid-brain haemorrhage. Paramedics arrived and summoned the air ambulance. I was flown to a hospital in Melbourne and rushed into theatre. Blood was running out of my ears and everyone thought death was imminent — everyone but me. My fitness level and determination to live were too strong. I lay comatose for four days. Four weeks later, when it became clear I would live, I was transferred into a rehabilitation centre in Melbourne and accommodated in the head injury specialist unit. My parents, who had been flown out from England to attend my funeral (as I was a serving member of the air force, it had been arranged) and were also accommodated onsite, offered me unwavering support. The centre staff began to make a video of me from day one, to be used for future teaching purposes.
After three months, I emerged from post-traumatic amnesia (a bizarre moment, I remember, about which descriptive words still elude me) to begin the task of rehabilitation. Incidents such as hearing the doctor speaking to my parents strengthened my will to recover. I recall them being told, “We don’t know if he will walk again.” Ridiculous, I thought; I was already planning which distance to race once recovery was complete. Drugs and medicine do not restore your brain cells and it was soon clear that pills were not the answer. I realised I would only recover through the strength of my own psyche, that a person can do anything they want to — they just have to want it badly enough. I did. Fortunately, my appetite returned (I had been initially drip fed and my weight had plummeted to a skeletal 43kg). I also discovered that the person you listen to most in your life is yourself. If your internal voice tells you, “I can’t do that,” it takes enormous presence of mind to change that thought. For months on end, I underwent all manner of therapy treatments and other procedures. A big challenge was straightening out my arm and leg, which had gone into the foetal position due to paralysis down my left side. I took little notice when experts spoke of inabilities to do this or that, however. What about my plans? A fellow patient was told by the doctor he couldn’t tend his roses now; he
was devastated. Other patients wished circumstances were different and only thought of how it should be. But I realised that this increased personal distress. I was somehow able to remain in a positive state of mind and focused not on what was wrong but on what the future would hold. I attribute my mindset to the determination I’d developed when I was training for endurance events. I never knew I had this strength of mind but it proved instrumental in achieving my rehab goals, the major one being to learn to walk. You’ll never know how easy it is when you are a toddler; however, when the physio considered me ready and asked me to stand, I couldn’t even move. That was an awful moment of realisation that something was very wrong. That was when I probably felt the worst. I noted in my diary at the time that life was so disappointing, as I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. I considered myself strong but even I had doubting moments. A return to my determined self soon occurred, though, after prompting from my parents, aided by my attitude of “never surrender”. An important acquisition for me in rehab was a laptop computer, which helped stimulate my mind and restore my fine motor control through typing. I was also allowed in the gym and this led to me discovering fun in lifting weights, which continues to this day. After oneand-a-half years in the rehab centre, time for discharge arrived, along with some semblance of normal life. Shortly after, I was granted permission to learn to drive. I also submitted my rehab video to Channel 9, which soon made a documentary for one of its medical programs. And I met my wife-to-be. We married and had two wonderful daughters. Gradually, I also learnt to accept that running was not possible — the damage to my knees was too great. When watching the video made of me in rehab, I swore never again would I look that thin, and I discovered natural bodybuilding. This satisfied my fitness demands. There was a disabled division that made allowances for physical imperfections, and this let me compete internationally. In 2009, I won the gold medal in the natural Olympia. I’ve gone through a lot since my crash, yet I’ve always dismissed doubts about my recovery and how to cope with a brain injury. There has always been something inside me telling me how to overcome it and this has mostly proved to be true. My motto now is “anything is possible”. And it is. Andy now gives motivational talks using his rehab DVD. Please email WellBeing at wbletters@ universalmagazines.com.au for his contact details.
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RESOURCE GUIDE EDUCATION YOGA & RETREATS HEALTHY LIVING PRODUCTS & SERVICES
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1 OF 13 COPIES OF THE MOONTIME DIARY 2015
If you are looking for inspiring, easy-to-follow guidance to keep yourself and your family happy, healthy and sane in 2015, why not consider tuning your activities to the moon? The Moontime Diary 2015 inspires you with tips for reconnecting to nature and increasing your overall wellbeing. For your
chance to win one of 13 copies of this diary, simply tell us in 25 words or less what you think the Moontime Diary 2015 can help you with in 2015. Send your answers on the back of an envelope to: WellBeing Resource Guide Giveaway #153 Reply Paid 75687 North Ryde NSW 1670
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JOIN THE WELLBEING COMMUNITY Connect and share with a group of caring, passionate experts and motivated people. Read the latest wellbeing news online, see what our bloggers are talking about, send us your thoughts and keep in touch via our social-networking communities. VISIT US ONLINE wellbeing.com.au LIKE US ON FACEBOOK facebook.com/WellBeingMagazine
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“What day is it?” “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favourite day,” said Pooh. ~ A A Milne
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