How to Grow a Wellness Garden
Experts Share Their Thoughts and Wellness Tips
Inside the World’s Oldest Operating Pharmacy
Diagnosed with ADD at 33:
Can Yoga Help Kids? Yes, and Here’s How
PAGE 5: TRAVEL & WELLNESS
INSIDE THE WORLD’S OLDEST OPERATING PHARMACY
HOW TO GROW A WELLNESS GARDEN
HOW TO HEAL FROM HEARTBREAK
PAGE 15: PERSONAL HEALTH
THE STRESS OF THE MESS
DIAGNOSED WITH ADD AT 33 - MY JOURNEY
HOW A HOLISTIC WELLNESS RETREAT CURED MY STRESS IN A FEW DAYS PAGE 25: SELF CARE
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: EXPERTS SHARE THEIR WELLNESS TIPS
SELF-CARE DURING A TIME OF CRISIS
WHY NUTRITION IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
PAGE 37: PARENTING & KIDS
PAGE 41: SPIRITUALITY AND MENTAL HEALTH
CCAN YOGA HELP KIDS? YES, AND HERE’S HOW
THE RISE OF SPIRITUAL WELLNESS
S? CAN YOU DO A SILENT RETREAT FOR 10 DAYS?
letter from the editor PUBLISHER Wellness Interactive Branding, LLC®
FOUNDER & PRESIDENT Desiree Watson EDITOR Charu Suri COPY EDITOR Laurel Dowswell ART DIRECTOR Deborrah McDowell-Davis VP, SALES & MARKETING Ngbita Wallace BRAND MANAGER Elizabeth Beyer-Partin SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER Jade Gunver
Dear readers: Bringing out a wellness publication during a pandemic is arguably the most challenging thing I have done in my writing career. With hundreds of thousands of people around the world grappling with Covid-19, I had a tough decision: should this issue still continue to focus on other important health issues including bi-polar disorder, grappling with ADD and even the benefits of attending a silent retreat? The answer is: absolutely. While the coronavirus pandemic has greatly shifted the wellness dialogue in recent months, that doesn’t mean these other issues don’t exist. In fact, it is more important to address issues that aren’t being endlessly covered in the news, and to realize that being truly well means being aware of various ways to heal: from the benefits of an Ayurveda retreat to planting a wellness garden. This issue has many facets: you’ll discover what’s inside the oldest pharmacy in the world (once the shutdown is over, I hope you’ll be able to visit this gem in person, in Florence). Like you, I’ve had a hard time shifting my focus away from the coronavirus. It’s the reality we are faced with: the constant sanitization that has uprooted my life and transformed my house into a Clorox repository has left me exhausted at the end of the day; the endless grim news has left me emotionally exhausted. But it is also irresponsible not to give you some uplifting news and success stories during a time that we need them the most. And that is the thinking behind this issue: I hope you’ll laugh, cry and enjoy these inspired and uplifting stories that tackle everything from focusing on your gut health, to dealing with the mess in your home. Wishing you a truly great wellness journey in the months ahead, during these exceptionally challenging times.
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Anna Laird Barto Heidi Brandes Laurel Downswell Miriam Foley Ashley Hubbard Christabel Lobo Pam McKuen Natascha Mirosch Sheryl Nance Nash Trupti Nayak Hannah Selinger Carolyn Stine Charu Suri www.wellnessinteractive.com
The editorial content in the Wellness Lounge® magazine is for educational purposes only and is not intended to, nor should be construed as, medical advice and/or efforts to diagnose, treat or prescribe for any human disease, pain, injury, deformation, or physical condition. The editorial content in the Wellness Lounge® is not intended to, nor should it be construed as , a substitute for the advice or treatment of a health care professional prior to engaging in any alternative treatment or diet for exercise regimen discussed in the Wellness Lounge®, and/or relying upon or using any educational/ informational information provided by or obtained from, the Wellness Lounge®. Under no circumstance shall the Wellness Lounge® or its employees, independent contractors and/or agents be liable to a reader for any damages or injury arising out of, or related to, the editorial content of Wellness Lounge®, including but not limited to, the reader’s use or reliance upon, or the reader’s inability to use or rely upon, information provided by, or obtained from, Wellness Lounge® All rights reserved. Wellness Interactive Branding, LLC® is not responsible for unsolicited manuscript images, or other materials. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of Wellness Interactive Branding, LLC®.
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How to heal from a heartbreak Travel can be powerfully healing, especially during major life events, because it helps give you something to look forward to and reduces stress
Travel & Wellness
HOW TO GROW A WELLNESS GARDEN
Photography by Shawna Coronado
By Pamela Dittmer Mckuen
few years ago, Holly Farrell’s mother was tethered to an oxygen tank. The furthest she could travel was outside the back door of her home. That’s where Farrell, a landscape designer and arborist, created a small oasis. She placed a chair in one corner of the plot and surrounded it with planted containers and beds. Flowers, chosen for strong scents or fuzzy textures or brilliant hue, were within reach. A bird feeder and fountain stood at the far edge. Farrell didn’t realize it then, but she had just created her first of many Wellness Gardens. “My mother loved nibbling on the mint, rubbing the lamb’s ears (plants) and talking to the cardinals,” says Farrell, founder of Wellness Garden Design in Wauconda, Illinois. “I decided to focus on this type of design because I wanted to see more people in the happier, healthier mood my mother was in when she came indoors.”
Wellness Gardens, if you’ll excuse the pun, are a growing trend. Dozens of research studies show interaction with Mother Nature produces wide-ranging health benefits including decreased stress levels and lowered blood pressure. Capturing those benefits, Wellness Gardens are cropping up across the country at hospitals, nursing homes, colleges, and, increasingly, private homes. “What differentiates a Wellness Garden from other gardens is it is designed to be supportive of a person’s health,” says Shawna Coronado, a renowned wellness-lifestyle advocate in Mesa, Arizona. Coronado was diagnosed with severe spinal osteoarthritis in 2015 and found pain relief through active gardening and an antiinflammatory diet. She is the author of “The Wellness Garden: Grow, Eat and Walk Your Way to Better Health,” (Cool Springs Press, 2017). “Since the Middle Ages, medicinal and aesthetically beautiful gardens have been grown to provide that restorative experience to gardeners and visitors alike,” she says.
Photography by Marsha Mood
GARDEN DESIGN The design and composition of Wellness Gardens vary, depending on size and location, but there are commonalities. For one, they tend to be highly interactive settings by combining plants, water features and hard elements to stimulate the five senses of sight, touch, smell, sound, and taste. Vegetables and medicinal plants might be in the mix. “When your senses are engaged, you are distracted from the unhealthy thoughts spinning around in your head, and you are swayed to relax,” Farrell says. “These in-the-moment sessions can bring about solutions to your problems and to better health.” Inclusivity is a goal of many Wellness Gardens. A garden without fragrance or auditory elements is not inclusive to
someone who is blind, for example. A garden with steps is not accessible for wheelchair users. Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville, Wisconsin, in 2018 added an all-inclusive Wellness Garden to its award-winning collection of 25 themed gardens. The circular garden is anchored by a central fountain surrounded by two rings of lush flora. Separating the rings are wide, tinted wheelchair-accessible aisles. The outer ring is made up of raised beds, 24 inches and 36 inches high, to bring blossoms closer to a seated visitor. When in full bloom, the garden is a kaleidoscope of color and a barrage of fragrance. Park benches lining the perimeter invite guests to linger. “When guests have vision impairments or mobility issues, they can come to this garden and enjoy it like everyone else,” says the gardens’ director of horticulture Michael Jesiolowski. “This may be the only
opportunity they have to be up close and personal with plants.” Adjacent to the Wellness Garden is a walking labyrinth, a pathway of linked concentric circles leading from an outer entry point to the center. “A labyrinth is not to be confused with a maze,” Jesiolowski says. “There are no dead ends. It is an endless pattern meant to clear your mind and keep you in the moment.” The Rotary’s Wellness Garden also provides a healthy environment for wildlife. It’s a deliberate haven for butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, chipmunks and other woodland denizens. “They add to the guest experience of connecting with nature,” Jesiolowski says. “And you’re not the only entity benefitting from the garden.”
8 Travel & Wellness
How to Grow a Wellness Garden - Cont’d from page 7
HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN WELLNESS GARDEN Inspired to add healing power to your greenspace? Consider these tips from our pros: Visualize yourself. How do you spend time in your garden? If you read or meditate, add a bench or swing. If you practice your warrior pose, make space for a yoga mat.
INSIDE THE WORLD’S OLDEST APOTHECARY
Establish a focal point. A meaningful object commands visual attention and grounds your meditation. Fountains, sculptures, statues, gazing balls and whirligigs can lead you to mindfulness. Create privacy. Enclose your garden with botanicals like hedges and planters, or with hardscapes like trellises, lattice and pergolas. Block street noises with a bubbling fountain or flowing waterfall. Avoid trip hazards. Paths should be smooth and clear of debris or roots. Nut and berry trees that drop messy fruits should be planted on outer edges away from a walkway. Use ergonomic garden tools. Reduce strain on your back, neck and wrist with oversized, non-slip handles angled to hold your hand at a natural--not twisted-position. Keep cutting tools sharp, so they are easier to use.
In Via della Scala, near Florence’s Santa Maria Novella church, tourists often walk right past a doorway on their way to see Brunelleschi’s magnificent ‘Duomo’ or Michelangelo’s ‘David,’ unaware that through that portal is a remarkable example of living history.
Pamela Dittmer McKuen has places to go. She is a Chicago-based freelance features journalist who specializes in travel, home and fashion.
9 Travel & Wellness
By Natascha Mirosch
n Via della Scala, near Florence’s Santa Maria Novella church, tourists often walk right past a doorway on their way to see Brunelleschi’s magnificent ‘Duomo’ or Michelangelo’s ‘David,’ unaware that through that portal is a remarkable example of living history.
The Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is the world’s oldest apothecary. Its roots date from the 13th century when the Dominican friars of Santa Maria Novella began to study and experiment with herbs they grew in the monastery gardens and gathered in the hills around Florence. Their preparations, from rose petal infusions designed to protect against the plague to ‘anti-hysterics waters,’ were used in the monastery’s infirmary for the monks and the local community.
In 1533, the monks formulated Acqua della Regina, an essence of bergamot for local noble Catherine de Medici, who, at just 14 was to marry Henry II and become the Queen of France. She took it to the French court, igniting a fashion for cologne and swelling the reputation of Santa Maria Novella’s medicinal monks. As the demand for their ‘cures’ and scents grew, they transformed one of the monastery’s chapels into an apothecary, opening it to the public in 1612. It quickly became a place where Florentines (and increasingly, people from further abroad), flocked to buy healing elixirs like, ‘Alkermes,’ an alcoholic extract of spices, flowers and sugar which was said to “strengthen the whole organism, making it more resistant to illness,“ and ‘Elisar di China’, made from the bitter root of the cinchona officinalis tree, used for digestive complaints.
10 Travel & Wellness
Today, the entry from Via della Scala leads to the former chapel, now the elegant and fragrant ‘apothecary’s walled garden on the outskirts of Florence,’ with gleaming white marble, ornate gilding and grand chandeliers. On the vaulted ceiling is a fresco painted by Paolino Sarti, representing the four (then known) continents: Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa, symbolising the growing fame of the apothecary worldwide.
The second room, known as ‘The Green Room’, with portraits of all the directors of the apothecary, from 1612 to the present day overlooks the garden and sells Santa Maria Novella’s plantbased beauty products beloved by stars like Penelope Cruz, Hillary Clinton, Kirstie Alley, Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman; hand creams and herbal waters, perfumes, (including Catherine de Medici’s Acqua della Regina, now known as ‘Acqua di S. M. Novella,’) body lotions and beautifully packaged soaps still made by hand, wrapped and then aged for 30 days.
Deeper into the maze of rooms is the old apothecary where shelves hold specimens of weighty old glass bottles and ornate tins and Santa Maria’s herbalists work at elegant carved wooden counters, prescribing remedies for all manner of ills. There are treatments for ‘localised tension and menstrual discomfort,’ pennywort and pineapple for cellulite, ‘pausadonna’ for menopausal symptoms; horehound and sundew to ‘enhance functioning of the respiratory system’s mucous membranes’; devils’ claw for joint function, hamamelis and horse chestnut for circulation.
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After consultation with one of the herbalists, you go to (an incongruously modern) touch screen, place your order and are given a ticket, which you then take to another high-ceilinged room, lining up at old-fashioned bank teller type counters to receive your products and prescription.
Many of the apothecary’s formulations are based on the same recipe as first prescribed by the Dominican monks, from plants still gathered in the Tuscan countryside. You can also visit the apothecary’s walled garden on the outskirts of Florence, where paths wind between aromatic beds of herbs and flowers used in their products; lavender, rosemary, broom, iris (the floral symbol of Florence) and balsamite, known as ‘Erba di Santa Maria Novella” (The herb of Santa Maria Novella.)
Another room, the ‘aromateria’ (aroma room), so-called because it was the room where the distilled water was stored for making floral waters, is the Dominicans’ former sacristy, where the walls are completely covered with 14th and 15th century frescoes detailing the Passion of Christ. There’s also a small museum with glass cases containing hand painted original 16th and 17th-century pharmaceutical vessels, old soap machines (used until 2000) and ancient prescription books with instructions on all kinds of formulas to ward off medieval ills such as the bubonic plague.
End your apothecary visit with a tisane at the small, charming teahouse overlooking the inner courtyard garden. Here you can choose from a number of Santa Maria’s Novella’s healing teas, designed to aid everything from digestion to modern day stress. Alternatively, take a trip back in history and try the ancient brews of ‘alkermes’ or ‘china,’ prepared and served exactly the same way for more than 400 years.
Natascha Mirosch is an Australian-based food and travel writer who has been collecting passport stamps and kilos for a living for the past 25 years. Photo credit: Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella/ Natascha Mirosch
HOW TO HEAL FROM HEARTBREAK Life Can Take Its Toll on Many: Here’s How to Bounce Back from Distressing Circumstances
By Sheryl Nance-Nash
n August 10, 1998, Christopher Novak’s 37year old pregnant wife was driving home from work when a man high on drugs ran a stop sign at high speed and killed her. They had a 9-year-old son, Ryan, whose life, like his, was devastated by the tragedy. “One of the ways I helped him move forward was to travel together. We went on trips to Europe to see my wife’s family, we traveled across the USA to see historical areas, getaway weekends to parks or beaches, and cross-country trips to see my family. We were always planning our next trip and that helped to keep the focus on future events and not past sadness,” says Novak. The trips bonded both father and son. Says Novak, “Travel did not erase the pain of our loss, but it helped us function in our grief.”
In 2012, James Kell went from being the CEO of a $200 million business, to being without a company, with no idea about what to do next. “I found a small sailboat that was crossing the Atlantic, that needed a crew. I signed up.” He took a copy of Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now and his camera and studiously lived in the present. “That six-week trans-Atlantic adventure on a small boat was the most effective “emotional reset” button I could have found,” says Kell.
HOW TO EXPLAIN THE POWER OF TRAVEL? “It removes you from the physical location of the loss, trauma and stressors. It acts as a distraction,” says Erica Wiles, a licensed professional counselor who writes about mental health for EffortlessInsurance. com. “Travel gives you the space needed to mentally and emotionally begin the healing process.” She says you also make new memories that combat the pain of loss or trauma. “Travel can be powerfully healing, especially during major life events, because it helps give you something to look forward to and reduces stress,” says Emma Donovan, a psychotherapist and coach. Being exposed to new ways of life and opening your eyes and heart to the beliefs and experiences of others can build your emotional intelligence and strengthen your emotional stability. “This helps your own healing process because it puts things into perspective and builds your sense of compassion and empathy,” says Sarah Rose De Vore, a travel coach and founder of The Travel Coach Network.
PACK UP WITH PURPOSE People turn to travel for much deeper reasons than simply taking a vacation. They seek something they lack in mind, body, or soul. Some hit the road after losing a loved one, experiencing a breakup or divorce, or when they feel lost or confused about purpose in their lives. Travel can help with clarity.
“Travel can be powerfully healing, especially during major life events, because it helps give you something to look forward to and reduces stress”
13 Travel & Wellness
TRAVEL AS THERAPY There are studies that support the notion of travel as an antidote to life’s stresses. The Wisconsin Rural Women’s Health Study found that women who take vacations frequently are less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired, and are more satisfied with their marriage. They surmised that the personal psychological benefits that lead to increased quality of life extended to the workplace where performance improved.
The truth is, even before you take a vacation you can reap rewards. Researchers at Cornell University found that people experienced a greater sense of happiness thinking about an upcoming trip than buying a big-ticket item. Those who were daydreaming about their trip had greater levels of pleasure and excitement than those anticipating going shopping.
An AARP study looked at how travel impacts seniors. Eighty one percent of those polled said they felt their health or wellbeing improved while traveling and that they came home in a better mood. They managed to hang onto that vacation glow after their return. How did they feel? 72 percent were more relaxed, 51 percent slept better, 46 percent felt better overall and 45 percent had better mental clarity.
WHERE TO GO TO HEAL With all that good news, there’s nothing left to do but decide where to go. “What do you need most at this time in your life? Trust your intuition. You’ ll feel a pull to a destination, maybe it’s a specific place like Paris or a kind of place like the jungle or the beach. The best thing you can do for yourself is honor that,” says Philippe Danielides, a life coach with Inner Current Coaching.
ART OF LIVING RETREAT CENTER, BOONE, NORTH CAROLINA When you need a change of scenery you can’t go wrong at a place situated at a height of 3,700 feet in the Blue Ridge Mountains on more than 380 acres. Begin your healing journey with a retreat that fits your focus, be it happiness, silence, yoga, meditation or wellness. Structured sessions give you a chance to go deep where you want, learn tips and techniques to find emotional healing that you can take away with you. If you favor something less formal, relax, enjoy the serenity of the center and DIY with yoga, meditation, pottery classes, treatments at the Shankara Ayurveda Spa, hikes and more. Take your pick of a hotel or retreat room for accommodations. Nourish yourself with vegetarian dining and an alcohol-free environment. There are wellness and fitness activities, meditation hall and gardens.
SUNRISE SPRINGS SPA RESORT, SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO At the center of Sunrise Springs Resort is a Medicine Wheel which has many different meanings and uses across a variety of cultures. The Medicine Wheel inspired Sunrise Springs’ approach to integrative wellness and is used to assist guests in understanding and addressing specific life circumstances like jobs, relationships, and illness. Experiential and nature-based activities will help you develop new skills, increase self-awareness, and healthy living practices that could be game changing. Sunrise Springs blends Eastern and Western therapeutic practices and Native American teachings designed to create harmony between the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of well-being. A physician and a personal wellness counselor, and wellness professionals in non-traditional areas such as Curandera (Mexican medicine healer), hypnotherapy and astrology are available. Enjoy a guided Sweat Lodge experience or Four Directions Ceremony.
Santa Fe’s vibe is chill and mystical.
14 Travel & Wellness
MIRAVAL, TUCSON, ARIZONA You’ve likely heard of the award-winning Miraval. Maybe it’s time to find out what all the fuss is about, in the Sonoran Desert. Miraval’s Wellness Counseling program helps you examine loss, change and transition, and teaches you the necessary skills to get through all of it. Learn Kintsugi, the traditional art of reassembling shattered pottery, which helps you connect the dots of your own imperfections. The Equine Experience uses mindfulness and connectivity to move a horse around a pen without touch and unlocks unconscious barriers to connection. Creative Expression uses the rhythm of drums with a focus on breathwork to uncover tone, which can be used as a healing tool to shift one’s inner thoughts. Then there’s hiking, biking and much more to putting you on a healing path.
ANANDA IN THE HIMALAYAS, GARHWAL, UTTARAKHAND, INDIA If your life is truly theatrical, be dramatic! Drop everything and go to India. Ananda is a sweet spot at the Himalayan foothills, the birthplace of India’s ancient practices of yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda. A truly magical setting, the resort sits on the 100-acre Maharaja’s Palace Estate. Personalized programs based on wellness goals, such as spiritual growth, detox, weight loss, fitness, rejuvenation or de-stressing are yours for the taking. The spa, yoga, meditation, and treks to the ancient Hindu temple and to Rishikesh the spiritual city, or white water rafting on the Ganges River, should all work toward settling your soul.
MOUNTAIN HORSE FARM, NAPLES, NEW YORK Cow cuddling and horse therapy sessions? Get outside your comfort zone and travel to Mountain House Farm in upstate New York’s Finger Lake region. A personal retreat where you spend time with horses and cows may be an experience that you’ve never done before. In addition to your room, you have the use of traditional Sioux tipis complete with blankets, pillows, chairs, and yoga mat. And if you’re up for it, there are wooded trails. In your room you’ll find Meera Lee Patel’s journal, Start Where You Are and Rohan Gunatillake’s book on Modern Mindfulness.
Sheryl Nance-Nash is a freelance writer specializing in travel, personal finance and business. Her travel writing has appeared on CNTraveler.com, Newsweek. com, Afar, ShermansTravel, Orbitz, RD.com, Fodors, amNY, TheWeek.com, among others. When she’s not encouraging people to spend money wisely, she travels the globe to satisfy her wanderlust and to inspire others to do the same! She is based in New York.
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Personal Health Page
Diagnosed with Adult Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)... Age 33 Little did I know then, but my first step toward an ADHD diagnosis was getting help for my anxiety and depression.
THE STRESS OF THE MESS
By Hannah Selinger
I run a tight ship.
For Some People, the Slightest Signs of Clutter can be Stressful. Here’s How to Cope
17 Personal Health
FORGET THOSE PERFECT INSTAGRAM PHOTOS Anxiety is not linear. Anxiety is triggered by A different things—by lacking control in the d world, I sometimes think—but there are w days when it is worse than others. “[We] live d iin this society of Instagram-worthy spaces,” Cassie O’Connor, owner of Busy Bee OrgaC nizational Design, Inc., which services New n York and the surrounding areas, said. “No Y oone lives like that. It’s a façade. It’s not real llife.” Life---with actual human beings ---is messy L aand a little out-of-control. The spare, curated sspaces of Instagram, which betray no signs oof actual life, are just as much fantasy as the sshots of atolls in the Maldives. People like me have to learn to see past the window of the h ccamera’s aperture, to understand that there is a real and imperfect life somewhere outside oof the frame.
y home, which I vacuum daily, isn’t neat because I am afraid of some burrowing disease. I’m not a germophobe. I don’t make the bed every morning because of some militant standard passed down from my parents. I don’t pick up my children’s toys 15 times a day because I believe that I’m teaching them how to put things away.
I’m doing it because I can’t function unless I do these things.
From the outside, I may look like the garden-variety neat freak. Inside, my navigation of the world depends on how organized it is. My anxiety rises like mercury on a hot day at the very idea of dishes stacked in the sink, or toys littering the floor, and that’s a challenge when you have a one-year-old and a three-year-old. An unmade bed makes me feel like the world has tipped on its axis. And so, in deference to the mental thing that keeps my anxiety at an apex, I clean. I wipe fingerprints from windows and coffee tables. I vacuum. I vacuum again. I pick up toys and deposit them in bins, only to watch them return to the floor, over and over again.
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HOW TO MANAGE ANXIETY Still, there are ways of tackling anxiety that are realistic according to O’Connor, a trained architect and designer. That minimalist Instagram shot may prove unlivable, but reducing stuff can actually create a path to reduced anxiety. “I think the root of the problem is buying less and being a very conscious consumer,” she said. “That doesn’t mean tossing everything you have right now. But it’s really about thinking: Do I need this? Is this something I can really use? You can learn from that minimalist concept… Once you start to purge your possessions, you start to reclaim your space a little bit more.”
wellness. It’s dirty. You have more things that are going to collect dust.” To that end, O’Connor suggests more than just cleaning. Rather, she recommends tackling one’s home proactively, and eliminating clutter, broken items, and things with no purpose. “People who have a high density of objects in their homes or in their offices are actually prone to higher cortisol levels and depression. That stress goes immediately to our gut, and that’s something you can’t help,” she said. If the rotating door of ephemera in a world inhabited by small children feels endless—to me, it feels endless—O’Connor suggests replacing toys with experiences, “giving and receiving clutter-free gifts,” like memberships and consumables.
For Kate Hanley, a personal development coach and author of How to Be a Better Person—and creator of the podcast by the same name—tackling anxiety means accepting the present. “Anxiety is very forward-thinking,” she said. “You’re in the future. You’re worrying about what hasn’t happened yet. So, with someone with anxiety, we would talk about what’s happening right If your home-related anxiety still spikes, regardless of how tidy you now.” are, Kate Hanley advises narrowing your focus. But what about my cleaning habit, I wanted to know. Is the self-directed task of cleaning up helping my anxiety, or only making it worse? Hanley sees the act of picking things up and getting a house in order as part of the process of managing anxiety, not an unhealthy response to it. “If your goal is to feel like you have control over the situation… then that becomes your practice,” she said, likening my cleaning habit to other meditative work that can help calm anxiety. Cassie O’Connor agreed. “I have myself dabbled my own bouts of depression and anxiety,” she said. “Organizing your space and keeping it de-cluttered does help, in a way. Too many possessions can lead to a decline in overall
“I would recommend that you find your one, or two, or, at most, three spots that you’re going to draw a line in the sand,” she said. “For example, your bed and the kitchen sink and maybe the bathroom counter. If those places are ok, then you have a safe zone. There’s someplace you can go.” For people like me, who grapple with an unruly world, knowing there’s a quiet, clean room of our own just may make all the difference.
Hannah Selinger is a food, wine, travel, and lifestyle writer and mother of two based in East Hampton, New York.
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wasn’t diagnosed with Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), until I was 33.
Little did I know then, but my first step toward an ADHD diagnosis was getting help for my anxiety and depression. I thought these conditions were responsible for holding me back in life. However, after some time on medication, something still felt “off.” My mood had improved dramatically, but my ability to focus remained atrocious.
MY ENTIRE LIFE MAKES SENSE AFTER A LATE ADHD DIAGNOSIS By Ashley Hubbard
“I had trouble finishing projects and sitting still, I interrupted people, and I’d obsessively focus on some things to the detriment of others.
I lived in a state of practically permanent distraction, resulting in innumerable wasted days: always being late because I couldn’t find my keys (one time finding them in the fridge after searching for hours), and having to repeatedly explain to people, “No, I’m not mad at you, I just forgot to respond,” after yet another miscommunication. Basic skills seemed impossible for me. My life was a constant roller coaster. Extended bouts of hyper-focused activity followed by even longer bouts of mental paralysis as everything I should be doing ran through my mind. Over the years, struggles with starting and finishing things intensified, and my never-ending lists grew longer. These traits became increasingly problematic as my life became a vicious cycle of list-making and organizing that would never lead to anything. I would list all the steps I needed to take to reach a goal but lost focus before putting any of them into action. I had ambition, desire, intelligence, yet, I still could not manage it. These habits often led to either all-nighter deadline miracles or apologies for missed deadlines.
20 Personal Health I’d considered the possibility of ADHD, but I dismissed those thoughts because I didn’t exhibit the stereotypical signs, such as hyperactivity. I did, however, exhibit many of the common symptoms: I fidgeted, I had trouble finishing projects and sitting still, I interrupted people, and I’d obsessively focus on some things to the detriment of others. I could easily slip into moments of day-long reading binges or obsessing over projects while the rest of my world crumbled around me in the form of forgotten bills and missed responsibilities. As I described these tendencies to my psychiatrist over many sessions, I would say things like, “I have so much to do and I want to do it, but I just can’t focus on it,” or “I’ve always been a procrastinator, but deadlines help me focus,” or “I’ve always done well at jobs, but I have no real achievements.” A pattern started to emerge that was both intimidating and enlightening.
That’s when I received the diagnosis that made my entire life make sense. My late ADHD diagnosis brought both confusion and clarity. My coping mechanisms were now an integral part of my personality, and realizing I’d suffered unnecessarily for so long was overwhelming; And yet I felt relieved. There was finally an answer to so many internal questions. All the times of feeling like I wasn’t good enough or that something was wrong with me now had a logical explanation.
Medication for ADHD was a stepping-stone out of my deep hole. Once I achieved baseline normalcy (this took at least a few months and to find the correct dosage), I was able to invest my energy into more productive habits. My brain was finally quiet enough to keep up with regular house chores, organize my calendars, get on a healthier eating plan, and utilize those moments of hyper-focus to my advantage. These were all things that seemed near impossible before.
TIPS ON MANAGING YOUR ADHD I recently spoke with Ph.D. psychologist Dr. Catherine Hacker who shared some recommendations for newly-diagnosed adults who might share some of my challenges. “Find what structure and organization works for you,” she says. “If you always lose your keys, have a specific spot for them as soon as you come in the door.” It’s almost as if she knew about my refrigerator incident. Something I’ve also struggled with my whole life has been not knowing how to say “no,” and putting too much on my plate, which I learned is a common trait. It’s one that causes a lot of problems not only with mental health but with relationships too. When I shared this with Dr. Hacker, she suggested “learning where your personal limitations are, letting go of the need to do for others before getting your own things done, and when you notice a pull of feeling drained, take a step back to recharge.” While I continue to navigate through life with this newfound information, I remain grateful for my diagnosis. It’s given me a sense of clarity I once only dreamed of.
Ashley Hubbard is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, focusing on sustainability, travel, veganism, mental health, and more. Passionate about animal rights, sustainable travel, and social impact, she seeks out ethical experiences whether at home or on the road. She shares these experiences on her website, wild-hearted.com.
21 Travel & Wellness
By Charu Suri
HOW A HOLISTIC WELLNESS RETREAT CURED MY STRESS IN A FEW DAYS
prawled face-up on the massage table, I waited for my masseuse, Laura, to pour oil on my “third eye” as part of my Shirodhara treatment. “Your stress will just melt away,” she assured me, ready to tip over the golden bowl filled with a deliciously aromatic, warm liquid.
I fervently hoped that she was right.
I had checked into the YO1 Wellness Resort and Spa in the Catskills out of desperation. Exhausted from the many hours of gigs I had done the previous month, and time spent crouched over my laptop, I had arrived at a state close to burnout. A friend suggested
that I get a proper wellness retreat to rev up my battery. This Ayurvedic resort, peacefully situated on 1,300 acres of fields, lakes and pine forests, seemed promising. Barely a two-hour drive from my house in New Jersey, I made excellent time and realized this was practically in my backyard. The “weekend getaway,” which I booked, promised four treatments in total, daily fresh juices, all the yoga classes on the agenda, and access to nature trails and the Olympic-size pool (a beauty!), meditation classes in the evenings, three healthy meals and a very spacious suite with a view. For $599 per night, I felt it was worth it.
22 Personal Health
My check-in was painless, and after my Ayurvedic consultation with a gentleman called Raj, who advised that I do one hydrotherapy bath, one mud pack, a Shirodhara treatment, and a deep tissue massage, I felt happy. In a few hours, I felt as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
The classes at the resort are plentiful: yoga instructors are wellversed in everything from Pranayama (breathing exercises), Hatha yoga asanas, to even the technique of yoga nidra (a yogic sleep that is peaceful and healing). There is also a gong meditation for those who want to be lulled by reverberations. The recommended schedule starts as early as 6:30 p.m. with a “Kriya” or nostril cleansing that purifies your nose by using a Neti pot and lukewarm saline water. I was reluctant to get out of bed that early but was so glad that I did. Nasal cleansing---an often-overlooked part of wellness—can clear up congestion, and is also effective for allergy sufferers, and those with migraine and bronchitis. After my first treatment: a deep tissue massage, I felt loose and limber. Six hours after having arrived at the resort, I was already beginning to destress and transform into a less stressed version of myself. The surrounding evergreens and hiking trails were conducive to a healing mindset, and a refreshing dip in the Olympic size pool felt like a bonus.
I had some time until my first treatment, so I opted to check-in to my room and just enjoy a minute of two of the surrounding serenity. The lake I saw outside by bedroom window was crystal clear in the wintry air. I heard it cost half a million dollars just to clean it.
There is a demand for this type of resort. The Global Wellness Institute estimates that the $4.5 trillion market (which includes healthy eating and weight loss, as well as wellness tourism) grew at over six percent from 2015- 2017, almost twice as fast as global economic growth.
“The entire resort was a $240 million project,” said Imran Hassan, who works for Essel Group, the parent company that manages the the resort. Started in 2018 by the Indian entrepreneur, Subash Chandra who owns the popular Zee TV network, YO1 encourages a wellness lifestyle rather than a “cure-all” approach.
Most of the resort guests come for the three-day reset; some stay for a long period of time. “One guest from Nigeria stayed for over a month, for weight loss,” said a resort employee.
“When we opened, there was a different expectation,” continued Mr. Hassan, adding that since Mr. Chandra has chosen a certain way of life, the resort had to be surrounded by nature, emphasizing aspects of relaxing, detoxing and doing yoga.
The meals surprised me because of their artistry and taste. I devoured my daily soups (Yankee bean on one night, potato leek on another ). Entrees like a delicious pan seared vegetable cake with onions, celery, carrot, jackfruit and rice in a pumpkin cilantro sauce, and even vegan chocolate mousse with coconut whipped cream for dessert, left me comforted.
While YO1 is still young, the resort has grown in mindset over the past two years, and now it aims to inspire people to take the wellness lifestyle home with them, rather than saying, ‘the buck stops here.’ That’s why, on the resort’s Instagram page, you’ll find recipes for immune booster juices (similar to the ones you can get at the juice bar), and tips on boost your immunity when you’re at home.
Holistic retreats and resources like YO1 are on the rise, in part because many people feel dissatisfied with their mainstream healthcare options. I personally felt that the mini retreat recharged me more quickly than the standard trip to the doctor, but some may argue that it’s too expensive to do consistently.
BEGINTOHEAL. COM: A HOLISTIC TREASURE TROVE This online alternative medicine platform, BeginToHeal.com, was started by Pooja after she fell sick with adrenal fatigue and realized the limitations of modern medicine. It features over 200 vetted holistic practitioners, over 200 guided meditation sessions and over 100 online courses. A dedicated online concierge helps you find the right practitioner. Ms. Khanna recommends hypnotherapy to remove deep-rooted patterns from the subconscious mind, as well as working with a spiritual or life coach for persona transformation or growth. “Acupuncture is also known to reduce anger and stress,” she said.
After my weekend, I felt transformed. It was—to my memory—the most relaxed my body had been in a short period of time (my beach vacations and my leisure junkets included). My husband remarked that I looked as though “my stress had melted away.” It definitely had, and I know that repeat visits to the retreat are in my future.
Charu Suri is a freelance writer and musician, and the editor of Wellness Lounge.® She is an amateur yogi.
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25 Travel & Wellness
Self Care Page
The COVID-19 Pandemic:
Experts Share Their Thoughts and Wellness Tips
26 Travel & Wellness
Dr. Janice Pride-Boone
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: Experts Share Their Thoughts And Wellness Tips By Laurel Dowswell and Charu Suri
The Interconnectivity Of The Global Community Is A Powerful Force For Tremendous Good. Our Commonalities And Collaborations Bring Us Closer Together Each Day. With The Global Pandemic Of Covid-19 Upon Us, Much Of The World Is Suffering Greatly.
What Connects Us, Has Now Made Us Vulnerable. We Are Being Stretched To Our Limits Physically, Emotionally, And Spiritually. But We Must Focus On The Facts To Gain Clarity — And Get Through This Together. We Need To Be Physically Distant At This Tragic Time, But Realize We Are Not Alone.
27 Travel & Wellness
“Just because you may be in an area which hasn’t been hit yet, does not make this any less real,” said Lauren Mellina, RN, who works at a top hospital in New Jersey. She advises people not to downplay this virus. “My fellow healthcare workers and I are living this. We walk into what feels like a war zone each day,” she said. “We are intubating patients back to back, coding one patient after another.”
28 Self Care
WHAT IS COVID-19? COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new (novel) coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. It is spread primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It causes mild to moderate respiratory symptoms for most of the people that become infected but can progress to severe respiratory distress, organ failure, and even death. The most vulnerable populations, and those who are most likely to develop serious symptoms, are older people and those with underlying health conditions such as chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and others with compromised immune systems. The first cases of COVID-19 were discovered in Wuhan, China, and the disease, of March Marc Ma rch h 2020, 20 hass sspread ha pread ad d tthroughout hrou ough gh hou out most most ccountries ount ntriies ooff ass of the world. d. the
WHAT W HAT ARE ET THE HE SY SYMPTOMS YMPTOM MS O OF F COVID-19? COVI ID -19? Acco According cord din ng to tthe he World Health h Organization Orga gaanization (WHO), (WH W O), the most mo ost common com om mmo mon n symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, tireedn dnes ess, es s s, and dryy cough. an coug co ugh. h. Other symptoms can also include shortness shoort rtne ness ne sss of breath, bre reat ath, h, aches aches and and pains, and sore throat. A small smalll percentper erce cent npeople diarrhea, nausea, runny ag of p age ag eoopl p e ha have ve rreported eported diarrh rhea ea,, na n usea ea,, or a ru unny nose. e.
HOW TO O PREVENT PREVENT THE DISEASE, DISEASE E, AND SEEK KT TREATMENT REATMENT Many w Many who ho h have ave ex expe experienced perien pe ence ced d th thee viru virus us at aattest test te st tha that hatt th thee sy symp sympmp-vary may with what have toms m can an var ry and ma ay be iinconsistent n on nc onsi sist sten en nt wi w ith th w haat ot oothers herss h he ave experienced. Many experience expeeri ex rience ce no symptoms ms at at all: these th hes esee are arre “asymptomatic” the “a th asy symp mptomatic”” patients. patie ati nts. Pride-Boone, MD, Harvard Medical School Janice Pride d -Boone ne, MD D, a Harv var a d Me Medi dica call Sc Scho hoool graduatee wh at whoo works work wo rkss at the the Berkshire Ber e ks kshire Medical Med edic ical al Center Center in Pittsfi Pit itts t field, says asymptomatic carriers Mass., say Ma ays that asymp mptoma mati ticc ca arr r ie ierss ccan an also be signifi sign nificant contributors contribu co uto tors to spreading spreead adin ingg the t e virus. th viiru us. s “You u don’t do know know w what what percentage percen pe nta tage g of people peop ple have havve had had it in in the t e house, th e, so you need ne d to play pla lay it safe saf afe and d be b cautious cautiou us and an assume assum me you u have it,” she hee advises. advi ad vise ses. s As an essential essentiaal healthcare h alth he hca care worker who is a pediatrician, Dr. Dr. Pride-Boone P Pr ideid e-Bo Boone sa says ys that she tries to do telehealth whenever possible. p po ssiblee. “If “If you yo are are coughing, coug co u hing, you y u must wear a mask,” she yo that advises so tha at yo your ur highly hig ighl h y infectious infe fect ctiious germs are not spread. people She says ys tthat hatt even ha n tthough hough pe ho eop o le are very anxiety-prone right now, anxiety willll lowerr yyour n no w, tthat hat an nxi xiet etyy wi w ou ur immunity levels, so the best thing th hing you you can c n do is to try and get a good night’s rest. “Also, ca if you you don’t sleep, sle leep ep, your cells (to combat this virus) are not as ective; rest effect ctive;; res estt and a balanced diet are important.”
The virus lives on metal and plastic surfaces for three days, and can also be airborne in a place where there are many people with COVID-19 symptoms. Since it is highly contagious, experts advise that you frequently wash your hands with soap and water and stop touching your face. Disinfecting highly-used surfaces twice or thrice a day is also a good idea. “80 percent of the people who are going to get COVID-19 will be fine. 20 percent will have a cytokine reaction, and these are typically those who have underlying medical issues,” said Dr. Pride-Boone. Cytokine reactions happen when your body produces too much inflammation as a response to the foreign particle. “For most of us, be optimisticc and trust your body that it’s going gooin ingg to produce just the right amount amo mount of inflammation; remember, mo remem mbe ber, it’s not the virus, vir vi iru rus, it’s your body’s bod dy’ y’ss response to the virus (that (tha haat will will determine how fare),” w yo yyou ou will fare) ),”” sshe h added. he She advises symptoms manageable, SSh he advi isees stayingg home if the symp mptoms are manag mp geable, e, and to visit visiit the the he hospital hospitaal if you have havve any any difficulty ty breathing. breeat athi hing hi ngg. Since Sincce hospitals hoosp spit i alls can be hotbeds it hottbe b ds for the the virus, it is is moree important imp portantt to prevent something have, prevven pr e t ccatching atching som mething yyou o don’t hav ou ave, aand nd speak to yo yourr physician need ph hys ysiciaan ov over the phone to to determine determ rmine if you n eed to go in. ee Stay St y Home, Hom ome, SSave avve Lives Live Li vess
““For For most off u us, s, b bee o optimistic ptimistic and trust yyour our body that it’s produce it’s ggoing oing to op roduce just the right amount ri ight a mount of inflammation; remember, it’s remember, it’ ’s not the virus, it’s it’ ’s yyour our body’s response to the virus determine viirus (that will d etermine how you you will will fare),”
““Also, Also, iiff yyou ou don’t sleep, your cells (to combat combat this virus) are not as effective; rest resst and a balanced anced diet are iimportant.” mportant.”
29 Self Care “Just because you may be in an area which hasn’t been hit yet, does not make this any less real,” said Lauren Mellina, RN, who works at a top hospital in New Jersey. She advises people not to downplay this virus. “My fellow healthcare workers and I are living this. We walk into what feels like a war zone each day,” she said. “We are intubating patients back to back, coding one patient after another.” Ms. Mellina describes patients as suffering, aching, fatigued, and helpless to the air hunger caused by the virus. “On top of it, they’re lonely, isolated in a room with no visitors.”
“Just because you may be in an area which hasn’t been hit yet, does not make this any less real,”
She said that relatives of patients have now resorted to calling her hospital, begging to intubate their loved ones, and making a case as to why they deserve a ventilator. “When deaths are reported back to you, it just feels like a number; to us, each one is a life, someone’s someone, someone’s grandma, father, mother, brother. This means that wherever this has hit, there are families grieving, there is immense pain.”
STAY INFORMED These Are Tips Shared By The World Health Organization (Who), And Several Health Experts:
STAY AT HOME as much as possible, and practice social distancing if you need to go out for groceries etc.;
WEAR A MASK. While N95 particle filter masks are generally used by the professional medical community, surgical masks can do the trick for everyday use;
WASH YOUR HANDS regularly with soap and water;
MAINTAIN AT LEAST A SIX-FOOT DISTANCE between you and people coughing or sneezing;
AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE;
REFRAIN FROM SMOKING and other activities that weaken the lungs;
COVER YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE WHEN COUGHING OR SNEEZING;
Although there is little evidence that vitamin C can boost your immunity levels against the coronavirus, maintain a BALANCED DIET AND NUTRITION;
GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP: a chronic lack of sleep can weaken your immune system;
SANITIZE FREQUENTLY-USED OR TOUCHED SURFACES with recommended cleaners such as Lysol or Clorox (taking care not to let the abrasive bleach ruin your surfaces). Soap and water also work.
Dr. Janice Pride-Boone is a Board-Certified, Harvard-trained Pediatrician and Certified Marriage and Family Therapist with additional training in Christian Counseling. She earned her Doctor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA and completed her residency at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, MD and Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where she was recognized “Most Outstanding Teaching Resident” while at Georgetown University. She received her undergraduate degree in Biology with Honors from Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City.
30 Self Care
WHY IT’S MORE IMPORTANT TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF IN A CRISIS By Miriam Foley
t was last year’s Spanish summer and unbearably hot. I’d just given birth to my second baby and was struggling with the load of double motherhood when we sought refuge in a cute vacation rental in the Sierra mountains. What we didn’t know was things just got worse: we brought bed bugs home with us. My mind and body went into panic mode. I was in a constant state of fear and busy washing and drying clothes at high temperatures in the hopes of killing the bugs off, as well as organizing our home’s contents in an effort to control the situation. I was already busy caring for a newborn and a toddler, doing everyday household chores like shopping, planning meals, and cooking. Battling an infestation of insects in my home on top of all that felt like trying to put out a fire every day. I stopped caring for myself: there just wasn’t time. How could I possibly indulge in frivol ities like shaving, body cream, make-up, going to the hairdressers, even brushing my teeth before bed? Self-care and personal hygiene fell by the wayside.
I couldn’t have imagined leg hairs could grow more than an inch long if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. As for my face? It was pale, dry, and washed-out from the lack of cleansing and hydrating, as well as the draining effect of the unkempt grey hair that had multiplied since pregnancy and birth. Cooking healthy meals was put on stand-by too, replaced with anything quick and convenient, while all socialising with old friends or other new mums was brought to an abrupt halt. Within ten weeks I was exhausted, and depleted of energy, strength and happiness. With nothing left to give, I spent the whole of one weekend on the couch, unable to move, while my husband looked after the children. That was my first unwitting piece of self-care: rest. Next, came watching a TV series, then one of my favorite indulgences; eating chocolate. A dose of ‘me time’ got me breathing easier. A little revitalized, I made the hair appointment I’d been putting off. A cut, color and blowdry left me feeling so good and rejuvenated that I didn’t feel or look myself of late.
WHY SELF-CARE IS IMPORTANT FOR MENTAL HEALTH Abandoning yourself during times of crisis might seem like a good idea. Wasting time on seemingly pointless things can seem selfish and selfinvolved, and even narcissistic when bigger and more important things like the coronavirus crisis are happening. But self-care is important for physical and mental health, making it all the more key when crisis hits. Reserves of both need to be fully stocked up, giving you the strength to face your current situation. Emily Roberts, psychotherapist, mental health awareness advocator and author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are insists self-care is a priority in times of high stress. “Put it on your calendar and your to-do list daily – it’s just that important for your overall physical and mental health.” She explains that failure to calm the nervous system around stressful events can lead to burnout, fatigue, increased anxiety, depression, weight gain and G.I. issues: all of which lower immunity. This is because levels of the stress hormone cortisol are raised. High cortisol can lead to brain fog, reduction in immunity and weight gain, as well as other maladies that impact physical and mental health. While pampering is all well and good, Emily says, “Self-care ... is literally caring for your body and your mind to help it repair from the stress it’s endured. It’s more rest and restoration.” “If you have time to scroll social
31 Self Care media for five minutes,” she says, “you have time to practice a simple 2-5-minute guided meditation, which can make miraculous shifts to your nervous system and, when done daily, can improve your overall relationship with anxiety, improve self-awareness and overall confidence.” She recommends a simple three-minute breath meditation that can be done anywhere. Just breathe in through your nose for three counts, hold for three counts, then release for three counts.
Mindfulness, physical movement and meditation are key. Her personal tricks are “Noticing what’s pulling my energy away, and disconnecting from the news and my phone for hours at a time.” Emily herself took up playing with gemstones and beading them to make jewelry for friends and family, following a therapist’s recommendation to relax using an activity she enjoyed as a child.
Seeing a therapist is another source of restoration and caring for mental health, so I added it to my list along with other activities that are nourishing for me, like reading and writing. Now several moments of self-care are scheduled in the diary, and I’ve got my personal pride and hygiene back. Mothering two little ones can still have its moments, and the bed bugs haven’t gone anywhere yet, but thanks to caring for myself I’m stronger, calmer and in a much better position to deal with the situation.
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Kyūshi – permission to pause. Place three drops of oil into the palm of your hand, gently rub hands together and cup hands over nose and mouth. Close the eyes and take three long deep breaths, feeling the stomach rise and fall, the lungs ﬁlling then emptying completely as you deep breathe to oxygenate the body, giving cells the crucial oxygen needed to regenerate. Finally apply the oil to face, neck and chest.
Miriam Foley is a freelance journalist writing about travel, wellness, lifestyle, parenting and more.
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33 Self Care
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34 Self Care
YOUR NUTRITION PLAYS A HUGE ROLE IN YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
buzzword that’s emerged over the years in the health and wellness space is “optimize.”
By Carolyn Stine
The key to mental health is… on your fork? We went to the experts for an insider’s look at how what we eat affects our state of mind.
How can consumers optimize their lifestyle and environment so that they feel their best, their most “well” selves? There have been many answers to this question that have come to light of late, from gratitude journals to infrared saunas. But in the realm of mental health, progress has been slower. Society has been largely tied to the “diagnose and adios” model that became the status quo when dealing with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. The exciting thing is that research, communication, and sharing of functional medicine approaches to mental health and wellness are helping us understand the importance of nutrition on mental health.
I turned to Sophie Shepherd, a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P), Integrative Nutrition Health Coach (INHC), and the founder of SHE. Ms. Shepherd is well-versed in functional nutrition, but she healed her own mental, physical, and autoimmune challenges by taking a holistic approach to health that focused on nutrition.
35 Self Care
We sat down to discuss her holistic health journey and learn how what we eat impacts our gut and our brain:
Wellness Lounge: Please share your experience with health challenges, and what led you down the path to viewing nutrition as a potential solve.
Sophie Shepherd: My healing journey started when I was diagnosed with IBS at age 16, when I thought it was normal to be doubled over in pain after eating. I was poked and prodded, and in the end, I got the classic, “we don’t know what’s wrong with you, so we’ll label it Irritable Bowel Syndrome”. I took the anti-acid medication that the doctor prescribed, but I saw no change. Throughout the rest of high school and college, I believed that I would always be the girl who had to run to the bathroom after she ate. Then, about seven years later, I found myself in an emotionally abusive relationship with my then boyfriend. The stress of that relationship combined with my chronic digestive issues set the stage for me to develop an autoimmune disease of the thyroid, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. At the time, I had become suicidally depressed, constantly anxious, and had a myriad of serious health issues. After I tried a synthetic thyroid hormone drug for six months, my symptoms came back. I marched into my doctor’s office but when she ran my blood work, it was deemed to be “normal” and she responded with “there is nothing more I can do for you.” Frustrated and with nowhere to turn, I started doing my own research and was finally connected to a phenomenal functional medicine doctor who changed my life. He was the first person to
actually sit down with me and take his time explaining what was actually happening in my body. He put me on a twelve-week nutrition and lifestyle plan, and within two days I felt a shift. Within two weeks, I felt healed. I was hooked.
How did you begin to incorporate new practices into your lifestyle?
Before I had met this doctor, a friend of mine with several autoimmune conditions suggested that I attempt to give up gluten. Reluctantly I followed her advice (I love croissants - this was not easy!). When I reintroduced gluten one week later, I fell asleep… at work! As it turns out, gluten made me feel narcoleptic. For me, it was a no-brainer to stop consuming this food because I felt such a shift in my energy.
When I met with my functional medicine doctor, he explained that I had something called “leaky gut,” or intestinal permeability, and that in order to heal my gut I would need to remove common irritating foods. I was put on an extreme elimination diet for three months and added in supplementation for gut healing. In addition to gluten, I removed dairy, processed foods and trans fats,
grains, sugar, alcohol, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy, caffeine except for green tea, eggs, and nightshade vegetables. I consumed tons of veggies, lots of good quality animal-based proteins, and filtered water. After I healed, I began reintroducing these foods one by one and noted how I felt, not just digestively but also energetically and mentally. Lifestyle shifts such as meditation, singing, dancing and yoga came later and are still a work in progress for me. I like to experiment and try new things, listen to my body, and ask it what it needs throughout the day.
Let’s talk about the science here what’s happening in our gut and our brain when we’re consuming different foods??
The gut brain connection is a hot topic these days. What we know now is that the enteric nervous system in the digestive tract is connected to the central nervous system in the brain in an intricate feedback system; both influence each other. They are connected through the nervous system by the vagus nerve, one of the biggest channels of connection from the gut to the brain.
A recent study found a potential cause of major depressive disorder to be food sensitivities and leaky gut. Leaky gut is what happens
36 Self Care when the tight junctures in the small intesgrass fed and grass finished red meat, ortine start to loosen due to stress, poor diet, ganic antibiotic and hormone-free poulmedications, inflammation, and other factry, and pasture-raised pork. tors. When this happens, undigested food 3. Pressure cooking your legumes to supthat would normally be digested in the gut port digestion, as well as give you a good escapes across the intestinal wall and into the quality resource of nutrient dense food. bloodstream. Here the immune system, believing this food is a threat, responds on hyper 4. Non-starchy, fresh organic vegetables. drive by creating antibodies to neutralize this It’s not that you can never have starch or “threat.” carbs (in fact all fruits and veggies have carbs), it’s that you want to focus on how This causes a cascade of low-grade systemic they balance your blood sugar throughinflammation which, these scientists are hyout the day. Having a small amount of pothesizing, can also cause low grade neurostarchy carbs can be helpful alongside inflammation and potentially depression. enough protein and healthy fats. Research is promising and still emerging, but this is just one of many examples of how what 5. Minimizing empty calories, processed sugars, excessive alcohol, and caffeine we eat could be affecting our mental health. can support healthy blood sugar levels, hormones, and nutrient absorption, therefore supporting our mental health.
What are your top takeaways for readers about how they can be eating to optimize their mental health?
Essentially, we want to eat to support a stable blood sugar and make sure that we are getting enough nutrients so we can absorb them. The general rule of thumb is to eat an organic whole foods diet, such as the following:
1. Healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, and wild caught fish that are low in mercury. 2. Good quality animal proteins - look for
What have been the biggest learnings for you around how what you put into your body affects your mental health?
The biggest learnings for me personally have been that too much caffeine and sugar wildly swings my blood sugar, which shows up as massive anxiety. Another thing that’s been so surprising to me is how some food sensitivities have neurological ef-
fects. For me, I get very sleepy, depressed, and brain foggy when I ingest gluten. New testing is coming out to start to help us understand how food related antigens affect us neurologically, which I think is crucially important to understanding what is going on for your mental health.
How has this experience shaped your views on what it means to be “well”?
Being “well” is something we all strive for, but health isn’t linear, it ebbs and flows just like the waves in the ocean. We can drive ourselves nuts trying to find perfect health when in reality no one really knows what that is. The beauty is in the becoming, in the journey, in listening to your body and acknowledging what it needs. In taking the baby steps each day to optimize what being well means for you as an individual. Prioritizing those few things like sleep, exercise, stress management, and food that fuels you so you can feel well each day. Every day is an opportunity to feel well. We don’t have to be defined by former diagnoses, imbalances, or symptoms.
Carolyn Stine is a food, travel, wellness, and sustainability writer whose body is based in NYC but whose heart is a citizen of the world.
Parenting & Kids Page
Why is Yoga Good for Kids In A Fast-Paced Digital World, Yoga Helps Kids Tune In To Their Natural Well-Being
WHY YOGA IS GOOD FOR KIDS!
In A Fast-Paced Digital World, Yoga Helps Kids Tune In To Their Natural Well-Being
By Anna Laird Barto
hildhood isn’t all fun and games. Between home, school, extracurricular activities, and screen time, today’s kids are busier than ever. And just like adults, they get stressed.
Whether it’s adjusting to a new school or sibling, the pressure to get good grades, or anxiety over climate change, stress can overwhelm children’s abilities to cope. While research shows yoga helps kids stay focused and manage their emotions, parents speak up about what works. Children are natural yogis, according to Sarah Rose, mother of two teenagers and owner of the Yoga Sanctuary in Northampton, Massachusetts.
“The poses themselves, along with the breathing and the invitation to really feel connected to all of life through their body are easy for them,” she says. “They already live there, but it’s affirming and encouraging that connection that they’re not getting everywhere else in life.”
39 Parenting & Kids
Children’s Yoga Is A Bit Different But kids’ yoga classes-- especially those geared toward younger students-- don’t always fit with the typical image of what a yoga class is supposed to be. At the Yoga Sanctuary, for example, kids run around with flowing scarves and play yoga ‘freeze dance’ by striking a pose when the music stops. Sometimes they are even invited to make up their own poses. Props like blocks and bolsters may be repurposed as balance beams, mats transformed into surfboards or dispensed with altogether (to prevent unsteady toddlers from tripping). “I’ve always taught (kids’ yoga) depending on the age, much more playfully,” says Rose, whose former students include her own children and two current kid yoga instructors at Yoga Sanctuary. “I think grownups should have fun doing yoga, but we’re serious. With kids you do games and singing, sometimes drawings and stories.” “Every practice looks a little different, but the through-line is the same,” says Megan Ridge Morris, mother of two and co-owner of ChildLight Yoga Company, which offers evidence-informed yoga and mindfulness education to youth and training for professionals around the US. “We are practicing mental
and physical exercises that help us to calm the brain and nervous system. During times of extreme emotion, these tools assist in selfregulation.”
40 Parenting & Kids
From Soothing OM Sounds to Counting Ridge Morris has observed the benefits of yoga first-hand in her own children, ages one and four.
Counting is one way to add structure, according to Rose, rather than telling kids to “just breathe.” Another idea is to use imagery, such as inflating the belly like a balloon.
“Ever since my one-year-old was born, making the sound of OM calms her down instantly,” she says. “Something in that vibrational tone soothes her and I’m sure it helps that she’s been hearing that sound consistently since she was in the womb.”
She has found yoga breathing helpful for her teenagers when they are feeling anxious or having trouble sleeping. For sleep, she recommends guided meditations by New Horizons.
Since the birth of her daughter, practicing yoga with her four-year-old has given them a chance to connect oneon-one.
Unlike Rose and Ridge Morris, Mindy Haskins Rogers, a writer and High School teacher, doesn’t have a yoga background. But one very cold winter, when she was at wits end after being stuck in the house for days with her very active three-year-old, she put on a Cosmic Kids Yoga video. For many years after, yoga became part of their morning routine.
In addition to strengthening their bond, yoga helps her son manage his emotions off the mat. When she sees him getting stressed, she encourages him to breath in, and out for a count of five. This helps him self-regulate before he reaches the point of full-on meltdown.
“Because there was so much sitting at school, that was a way to give him a little movement before class,” she says. Doing yoga before road trips also helped him get ready to sit in his car seat for long periods.
Building confidence For Rose, one of the best parts of teaching yoga is when students say, “Wow, I didn’t know I could ever do that!” “Kids can see real results from their efforts,” she says. “They can do amazing, cool new things, but also that’s not what it’s about. It’s about learning and growing and being at home in themselves and feeling safe to explore and play.” Ridge Morris can tell that her son is proud of the fact that he can do different poses by memory. The ability to master challenging poses, like headstand prep, has been especially good for his self-esteem.
Haskins Rogers’s child, now eight, is so confident in his yoga abilities that he teaches classes to his parents in their living room. He likes to watch them twist themselves into pretzels trying to imitate him. Once, when he saw that his mom was has having a bad day, he said, “I know what you need to do Mom.” He told her to lie down, stretch her limbs, and breath through her center. Then he led her through a meditation. She says, “I thought it was cool, first that he recognized that I was stressed, and that he had a tool for that, and then that he felt empowered to guide me through what he had learned.”
Anna Laird Barto is a writer and children’s yoga teacher based in western Massachusetts.
41 Travel & Wellness
Spirtuality And Mental Health Page
Spiritual Wellness on Social Media has Increased. Using your social media and apps as tools for spiritual wellness can be a powerful way to connect with yourself and enhance the relationships in your life, oftentimes for the better.
SPIRITUAL WELLNESS ON SOCIAL MEDIA HAS INCREASED: THIS IS A GOOD THING FOR MENTAL HEALTH By Christabel Lobo
he introduction of yogic philosophy to the United States can be attributed to Swami Vivekananda, who, in 1893, left India with the intention of spreading raja, jnana, karma, and Bhakti yoga to the masses. His approach served as inspiration over the next several decades for other South Asian teachers to not just bring teachings of spirituality to the West, but the physical practices of yoga as well. Fast forward to today, and the wellness industry is thriving beyond traditional yoga and meditation. The Global Wellness Institute estimates the current wellness market is valued at an astounding $4.3 trillion and includes everything from wellness tourism and workplace wellness to healthy eating and even wellness-focused skincare. And, that’s not all. As people look for alternative ways to improve their sometimes-challenging access to mental health services, yet another more recent phenomenon has joined in on the wellness bandwagon: metaphysical wellness. Apps like Co-Star and The Pattern generate daily hyper-personalized horoscopes and natal charts, allowing you to connect not just with yourself and your friends, but the entire world as well. Popular accounts on Instagram such as @moonomens and @spiritdaughter that focus more on spiritual guidance and astrology, as well as more light-hearted meme accounts like @glossy_zodiac and @mychemicalcapricorn have thousands of followers, who are looking to feel more connected to themselves. A quick Instagram search shows that over 3.8 million posts make use of the hashtags #crystalhealing, #astrology, and #tarot.
SPIRITUAL WELLNESS ON THE RISE “Spiritual wellness practices, like meditation, therapy, tarot cards, and astrology, are starting to trend because, from a macro perspective, we’re living in a world where, collectively, we feel out of control,” says Maisy Bristol, a professional tarot reader who offers digital tarot readings via her Etsy site and on her Instagram account, @tarotbymaisy.
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“I was raised in a Filipino family, and Asian culture does not talk about going to therapy much,” shares Taruc. She sought out spiritual wellness methods through YouTube as a means of coping with her stressful job in technology sales, which she eventually ended up quitting. Today, Taruc helps her clients get over breakups and achieve inner happiness by learning how to apply the law of attraction in their lives.
This year, she started #tarotpy, a new self-care series that links the tarot to mental health. “I’m interested in exploring just how deep we can get with ourselves by using tarot cards. A lot has happened over the past couple years that has affected the country in such a way where we’re grasping for some sense of understanding in the world. And the best place to start is with ourselves.” And, while seeking out New Age therapies via your phone may seem counterintuitive to the principles of digital detox, striking a balance is key to your digital wellbeing. “Digital detox is so new to our generation but super important,” explains Shannon Taruc, a spiritual coach and host of the podcast series, Café Confidence. When it comes to social media, Taruc believes the first step is to recognize any accounts that negatively affect your wellbeing. “If you find yourself constantly judging your life and comparing yourself to a post, then it is best to unfollow that account, or it will just make you feel like you are not good enough.”
WHEN THERAPY IS TABOO, SPIRITUAL WELLNESS CAN BE A START According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 3.9 percent of adults in the United States admitted to experiencing mental health issues in 2018. Women, on average, are more likely to deal with mental health problems than men. For women of color where therapy is often considered taboo, that number is unfortunately even higher. Following mental health accounts can be a form of digital wellness and one of the methods we can use to help develop a healthy and useful relationship with technology.
“What’s really amazing is now younger generations like Gen Z are looking for positive and mindful content,” says Taruc. In the past two months since starting her TikTok account, @ shannontaruc, she’s garnered over 15,000 followers by merely posting spiritual wellness videos. “I get comments from my followers saying things like I really needed this today, thank you.” But, those turning to apps and social media need to realize that while tarot and astrology can be great tools for selfawareness and emotional wellbeing, they shouldn’t replace the role of a therapist. Rebecca M. Farrar, M.A., an archetypal astrologer who runs the Instagram account, @wildwitchofthewest, sees astrology as a tool for more self-awareness and healing. “I encourage most of my clients to see a therapist in addition to my service as I believe trauma in particular needs a stable guide with many years of training for navigating trauma—both personal and collective such as in the case of women or PoC,” she explains. “Astrology is an incredible tool for uncovering places where trauma may still exist, but, ultimately I believe the healing process is best served through one-on-one work such as with a therapist who has a license and clear ethical boundaries.” Using your social media and apps as tools for spiritual wellness can be a powerful way to connect with yourself and enhance the relationships in your life, oftentimes for the better. But, at the end of the day, all it really comes down to is whether or not these metaphysical, New Age-y practices make the most important person in your life feel good: you.
Christabel Lobo is a freelance writer and Hatha yoga teacher currently based between Mysore, India and Washington, DC. Her writing has appeared in AllRecipes, Lonely Planet, Zagat Stories, National Geographic Traveller India, Byrdie, LIVESTRONG, Fodor’s, and more.
44 Travel & Wellness
CAN YOU DO A SILENT RETREAT FOR 10 DAYS?
By Trupti Nayak
everal years ago, I attended a ten-day Vipassana course in Northern California. The word, Vipassana, means “seeing clearly” or “Yatha Bhuta.” It translates to “as it is” and seeing things as they really are. This ancient non-sectarian technique teaches meditation to achieve the highest levels of happiness and liberation. First discovered by Buddha more than 2500 years ago, Vipassana has been practiced throughout the world. One of the most famous teachers, Mr. S. N. Goenka, received training in Vipassana practice for 14 years and began teaching Vipassana in 1969.
Over the past decade, meditation and retreats focused on well-being have gathThe word, Vipassana, means ered momentum as we seek to restore some bal“seeing clearly” or “Yatha ance in our busy lives. My decision to attend Bhuta.” It translates to “as it the 10-day course was is” and seeing things as they not one that was taken spontaneously or lightly. I really are. gave it a lot of thought before committing to following a Code of discipline that lasts ten days. This meant observing silence for the entire duration, no eating after midday, as well as eight to ten hours of daily meditation. That’s pretty hard core. But I was curious about the benefits of such a course and wanted to experience it for myself. At stake was time: a commitment of ten days is not easy for most of us who hold jobs and other responsibilities. There was also uncertainty on how I would react to this new experience. I even knew
of a handful of friends and acquaintances who had started the Vipassana course with the full intent to complete the course, but had given up in the middle or left within a couple of days. Would I be one of those people? I wouldn’t know until I tried it out for myself. There were several aspects about the program that fascinated me: no payment or fees are charged upfront for the course. All courses are run on a donation basis. Ten days of meals (breakfast, lunch and snacks), accommodation, teachings and lectures as well as access to a Vipassana teacher for 1:1 sessions, was free to anybody who wanted to attend the course. Most people donated what they could at the end of the course, in pure gratitude for gaining the benefits of Vipassana and wishing the same opportunity be made available to others who wanted to learn and practice Vipassana. Vipassana has more than 203 centers around the world: 13 in the USA, with four in California. Courses run throughout the year and anybody can sign up to attend, based on availability. The other aspect that fascinated me is that Vipassana is not affiliated with any religious sect or doctrine. It teaches a technique that is about the path to wisdom and enlightenment. It teaches about practicing morality (sila), purity of mind (samadhi) and wisdom or insight (panya). Yet another aspect was that there is no technology allowed. The main goal of Vipassana and meditation is to be present, and learn the art of mindfulness and seeing things as they really are, without the background of the endless chatter of our mind.
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All participants were assigned beds in dorm rooms (some centers have private bedrooms with an attached bathroom). We met everybody else participating in the ten-day course. After exchanging introductions and stories over dinner, Noble Silence was observed at 8 p.m. onwards that evening. And after that point, there was to be complete silence for ten days (being a naturally talkative person, I thought this was the part that I would have to suffer through the most).
This was the first true day of the ten-day course. Everything was still new: we had to learn all the logistics --where the bathrooms were, what times meals were served, and where the meditation hall was. This was also the first real full day of Noble Silence as we started getting used to not reacting verbally to everything around us. We also learned about Anapana meditation, and observing our breath as it flows through our body.
I recall waking up on day two feeling very excited and in a very positive frame of mind. I was embarking on a new adventure. I was experiencing something new I had never done before. After figuring out the logistics of where/what/when/why, I was looking forward to finding my way around everything and focusing on learning as much as I could about Vipassana. I found that staying silent was coming more easily and naturally to me than I had imagined. We would have to see if that would last.
By day three, the sense of novelty had faded. It had been three full days of complete Noble Silence (no interactions with any other person), no meals after midday, and early to bed and early to rise. The reality of what I had signed up for was settling in. A wave of a deeply guilty feeling of dismay swept over me when I realized that we were still on day three, and there were seven more days to go. I had also started questioning if Vipassana was for me.
After three days of practicing Anapana meditation (breathing in and out), this was the day we would learn more about the Vipassana technique. I was excited to be making progress on my meditation. But the questions in my chattering mind were still strong. By day four, I felt I had learned everything I needed to know about Vipassana and that I was done. I tried to convince myself that I did not need to stay here for the entire ten days.
After four days of experimenting with different positions to sit while meditating, I finally figured out the most comfortable way to sit! Itâ€™s not easy to sit and meditate for 8-10 hours daily. I had to try out several options, with different sized cushions, backrests, sitting cross-legged, sitting on my heels/ ankles with my legs folded underneath (Vajrasana), and so on. It felt like an accomplishment to finally be able to sit comfortably and meditate for a couple of hours and not end up with pins-and-needles due to blood-supply being cut off to my feet and legs.
By now, I felt like an old hand at this, and familiarity brings comfort. I started looking forward to the pre-dawn wake-up calls for meditation; the hot breakfast offered afterwards, the free time for us to shower, rest, walk around. I also enjoyed the afternoon meal followed by more meditation and lectures, and fruit in the evening. I slept well through the night. One of my biggest fears had been that I would starve if I were given only two meals a day. I had even considered packing snacks and biscuits for the course as a backup, but I didnâ€™t. Bringing in outside food is frowned upon. And now, I was amazed at how I did not feel hungry in the evenings or even late at night. The body had adapted to consume only as much as it needed.
46 Spirituality & Mental Health
Day 7: Day 8: Day 9: Day 10: Day 11:
By day seven, it felt like time had slowed down again. I could not believe that it was only day seven and that there were three more days to go. It felt like so much more time had already passed. By now, I was back to questioning whether I really needed to stay the full ten days. Staying seven days was almost as good, wasn’t it? What would I be gaining with three more days that I hadn’t already learned in the past seven? The emotions of day seven continued. Every moment felt so much longer. Only two more days left! 48 hours. I start counting them down. Being the foodie that I am, I was already dreaming of being back home and eating dishes I had not had in a while. Of course, the food at the Vipassana center is delicious, it is vegetarian, and cooked by volunteers and servers, but the goal of those meals is nourishment and nutrition.
This was the last day of Nobile Silence. It dawned on me that this was going to be a day of many lasts, since the next day we would all be chattering away. After nine full days of observing silence, I found that my mind has calmed down significantly compared to day one. I felt more in control of my thoughts. I felt like I was in sync with my surroundings and not distracted.
Noble Silence ended at 10 a.m. There’s non-stop chatter after that, of course. Vipassana is not about suppressing what comes naturally to human beings. We love to communicate, and talking is one of the best ways to connect with others. There are big smiles from everybody, and everyone seems to be happy to be nearing the end of the course and excited about the learnings they have gained from this experience.
I woke up after the last night in the dorm. It was time to get ready early, the last discourse was at 5:15 a.m. I became emotional realizing this has come to an end all too quickly. It was ironic that two days ago, I couldn’t wait for this to end, but now that it was ending, I felt like a good thing was going to be gone from my life too soon. But I was also looking forward to being back among familiar routines of work and personal life. I was already thinking of the future and things that needed to be done once I’m back. I was looking forward to continuing the Vipassana practice and making it a part of my day-to-day life. My main thoughts, driving home after the last day, were that we should leave this world in a better place than it was before. And always aim to do good, especially when we are in a position to be able to help others
My takeaway from this unique and incredibly special ten-day experience was: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Looking back on this experience years later, I strongly believe that the 10 days I spent attending the Vipassana course was the best investment I’ve ever made for myself for my own mental, physical, and spiritual health and overall well-being. I still use the tools I learned for practicing
meditation, mindfulness, and gratitude as often as I can. I wish I could say that I diligently meditate every day, but as everybody knows, life gets busy and it gets harder and harder to carve out time for the things that actually matter like selfcare and reflection. Every time I do make time for Vipassana, and play the Youtube video, listening to
Mr. Goenka’s chanting and gentle voice, it transports me right back to 5 a.m. in that meditation hall in California. And as I begin to practice Anapana (breathing in and out and observing the breath), as I feel the chatter in my mind calm down, as I feel my body relax … all feels right at this very moment. Everything is Yatha Bhuta, as it is.
Trupti Nayak is a freelance writer based on the West Coast.
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