Spiritual Awakening: Boston Marathon Bombing

As a species, our beautifully complex, evolving minds that were once used to create, invent, and solve have since turned on us. Incessant, negative thinking plagues our beings, hiding the essential “on” and “off” button to our minds.

In western civilization, we label it anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD, etc. In a much simpler realm, it is the misfiring of a powerful tool that has gone haywire. But what if we could free ourselves from this torment? What if we could find peace, fulfillment, love, and space?

A shift in consciousness

What exactly is a spiritual awakening? It’s certainly hard to define, as it is something so vast and so unique to each individual. From what I’ve learned, a spiritual awakening can happen at any time and can be caused by something as significant as a near death experience or by nothing at all. It is simply and extraordinarily a shift in your consciousness, in your mind, in your soul.

My path to awakening started with Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. It’s hard to pinpoint what the catalyst for your awakening will be, but like I said, it could be something as profound as death or as simple and surprising as a book.

The Bombing—April 15, 2013

With Marathon Monday having just come and go, I revisited the day when I found myself at the finish line of the Boston Marathon when the bombs went off. I was with my husband, my mother and father-in-law, my aunt, uncle, and cousin. When the first bomb exploded, we were on the opposite side of the street. I thought to myself, “wow that was a really loud celebratory canon.” A few moments later, the second bomb went off across the street from where we stood, frozen. I was thrust into a state of presence I have never experienced before and may never experience again. My ears were ringing, just like in the war movies, and a cloud of smoke made it impossible to see. When the cloud started to clear, and I realized that the dense crowd adjacent to me had vanished before my eyes, my brain desperately tried to process it all. But, it couldn’t process it, and for a brief moment everything inside of me was still and at peace. Then, the scene erupted. It was the kind of desperate chaos you only witness when people are reacting in a truly visceral way. People were running over one another in fear of another blast. I felt myself bracing physically and mentally for it. An image of my own body being thrown into the street from the next blast flashed through my mind. I guess I thought that if I could in some way prepare for what may come, maybe I would be better equipped to survive.

The interesting part of what I just said above is the dialogue with “one’s self” as if it were a separate being. When I had the vision of “myself” laying in the street, “I” was the watcher, an outside of my physical body. This experience has only come to hold meaning for me recently.

My sister-in-law and other cousin were running their first marathon that day. They never reached the finish line. They did, however, run Boston the following year and they both finished.

Having been separated from our family in the chaos and later reunited as we walked on foot out of the city for miles and miles, we all felt numb. Numb from what we felt, what we saw, what we did and didn’t do. There was a shift in my body, mind, and spirit. But even after that kind of an event, I wasn’t ready to journey inwards. The anxiety was too strong, the worry was too suffocating. In the months and years to follow, I was simply trying to get by and cope with the new world I felt I had emerged into. Four years later, a book is what started my spiritual awakening. How interesting…

I feel that I have only just begun my journey inwards. Thinking less and feeling more, judging less and listening more is a wonderful practice I try to put to work every day. When I find myself drifting, judging, labeling, or spiraling into a frenzy of negative self talk and unproductive thinking, I find my way back to my breath. It’s truly impossible to snowball into obsessive anxiety when you assign your monkey mind the task of observing your breath. After a few breaths, I can feel the space fill in again. I am at the tip of an iceberg, and am hopeful for what lies beneath the surface. Instead of beating myself up for not meditating in the way my mind thinks I should (legs crossed, eye closed, incense burning), I give thanks to the 5 mins or the drive to work where I am able to center myself and enjoy inner stillness and peace. Every second that offers space and peace in my life is profound.

What is Matcha?

For centuries, matcha has been used to aid in meditation. During long hours of sitting, monks would drink matcha to remain alert and calm.

Matcha is the finely ground powder form of green tea.

Unlike the more traditional green tea leaves used in commercial tea bags, matcha is harvested and processed differently. Shade-grown for about three weeks before harvest, the plant Camellia sinensis produces more theanine and caffeine. This combination of chemicals is considered to account for the calm energy and clarity people feel from drinking matcha. Once the leaves are dried, they are stone ground into the beautifully vibrant green, fine powder we know as matcha.

Because matcha is ground into a fine powder, you are consuming the entire leaf versus the liquid that remains after steeping a tea bag in hot water. Consuming the actual leaves means you are consuming all of the amazing goodness along with it.

Health benefits of matcha

  • Fights infection, protects against disease. Antioxidants…those lovely little chemical compounds the Western world cannot get enough of. And rightfully so. With their anti-aging and disease-preventing properties, they keep you energized, healthy, and able to fight off infections and diseases. Catechin EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate), also found in matcha, have powerful cancer-fighting properties as well.
  • Creates a sense of calm and focus. You can thank this beloved amino acid, L-theanine, for this. As an avid coffee lover, it takes something pretty awesome to make me even consider ditching my morning (and afternoon) cup of joe for something green, and healthy. But, I have to say, the way I feel after drinking a delicious, iced green tea latte it better than any coffee caffeine high could ever be. With matcha you feel awake, not jittery, and alert. L-Theanine promotes a state of relaxation and well-being by inducing alpha waves. While stress can induce beta waves that leave you feeling excited and agitated, L-Theanine creates alpha waves, which lead to a state of relaxed alertness.
  • Detoxes and restores. Chlorophyll, also found in matcha, is the element that gives green tea and other plants their radiant green color. It is a powerful detoxifier, helping to eliminate both chemicals and heavy metals from the body. And because matcha is carefully shade-grown, it is substantially richer in chlorophyll than other green teas.

Here is a wonderful site I found during my matcha research. For more information about the benefits of this green superhero, preparation tips, etc. visit http://matchasource.com/

Ready to give matcha a try? Stop by your local Starbucks and order a Green Tea Latte. Their latte is different from their regular green tea because they use matcha that is slightly sweetened. You can try it hot or iced, with or without milk. If you opt for dairy free, ask for a venti iced green tea with a scoop or two of matcha!

Drink up and enjoy!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

8 Reasons Why You Should Try Acupuncture

With so many amazing benefits, it’s hard to narrow this list down. But if I had to, it would look a little something like this.

Here are 8 reasons why you should try acupuncture at least once!

It doesn’t hurt, it feels good.

Friends and family always ask me if acupuncture hurts. I am fairly certain this is one of the biggest barriers of entry and reasons why people don’t try it.  So, I am here to set the record straight. Acupuncture DOES NOT hurt. Unlike the hypodermic needles used in your doctor’s office that are hollow and designed to inject or extract substances, acupuncture needles are hair thin and solid. They simply push the skin aside versus cutting through the skin as hypodermic needles do. Therefore, needle insertion is virtually painless. Now, I say “virtually” because in my experience there have been specific locations that elicit a sensation when a needle is inserted and are more sensitive than others. Those spots are specific locations in the ear and the top of the foot. The sensation I have felt is not painful, but rather feels like a burst of energy. Personally, I have come to look forward to these insertion points now!

It really works.

I initially tried acupuncture for fertility, and guess what, I got pregnant! Postpartum, when my son turned one years old and I stopped breastfeeding, I asked my acupuncturist to help with menstruation as my period had not yet returned. Within two months of acupuncture, my period returned. Other areas of focus have ranged from managing my anxiety to sleeping better, and I have experienced wonderful benefits for everything I have wanted to improve. Acupuncture has been the single most powerful method I have discovered next to taking a daily medication for anxiety. I hope one day I can come off of it.

It brings you to the present moment.

Like so many, I have a hard time meditating. In the past few years, my practice has improved, but it is still so hard to sit still and quiet my mind long enough to experience the benefits of daily meditation. Acupuncture effortlessly and almost instantaneously brings me to a state of peace. Once the needles are inserted and my eyes are closed, I immediately fall into a deep state of calm and bliss that I have yet to achieve in any other setting. No matter how stressful the day has been, acupuncture brings me to the present moment.

It turns your attention inwards.

I am constantly in search for answers in the external world. I very rarely look within myself for guidance. Maybe it’s because I do not trust my instincts and intuition because they somehow feel inferior to the pragmatic approach to decision-making that is so deeply ingrained in me. We are vessels with knowledge pools some of us never draw from. In a world where everything we could ever want to know is at our fingertips, we assume we couldn’t possible add any depth or perspective to the conversation. During my last reiki session, my practitioner told me that I need to get out of my head and start looking inwards for my answers. The perfect job, or perfect is not the key to my happiness. Acupuncture has an uncanny ability to help you turn inwards. It is then up to you to notice and put to practice what you uncover.

It helps you see what’s gone unseen.

When your eyes are closed, it is safe to assume that you can no longer see. But what about all of those beautiful colors and strange images that appear during your session? What do they mean? I’ve started exploring this area recently, as colors have become more and more noticeable during my acupuncture sessions. I first noticed them on one occasion when my acupuncturist put two stones in my hands after I had already closed my eyes. Throughout my meditation, I saw waves and waves of radiant white light. When the session came to an end and I opened my eyes, I looked down at my hands and saw two white stones! Here’s a really great article about seeing colors during acupuncture. The strange images and shapes you see can also hold great meaning if acknowledged and then applied to your life. Once you open yourself up to the universe and draw from your inner pool of knowledge is when you can really discover truth, answers, and guidance.

It re-balances and renews.

Our bodies are rich vessels of energy that are powerful and sacred. But in a society that is habitually focused on achieving at all costs, we often times let our body and mind become unbalanced, which in turn usually results in some form of physical or emotional discomfort. Acupuncture realigns and when necessary presses the restart button. Releasing stagnant, blocked channels allows our body and mind to once again flow freely and in sync with one another, ultimately bringing us closer to our true selves.

It offers a place of safety and warmth.

I long for that quiet, warm acupuncture room tucked away in a the charming old Victorian building I visit for renewal. I wish I could stay in that room forever. It is a space free of judgement, labels, stress, and pressure. It is a place just for me, that nurtures my body and fills my soul. When I am laying on that table, I am at peace. I am not afraid of tomorrow or sad about yesterday. It feels like I am sitting in front of a crackling fire, wrapped up in a big, warm, cozy fleece blanket, with a hot cup of delicious coffee in hand.

It is yet another step towards living a happy life.

It is never one thing that makes someone happy, truly happy. It is a combination of many things and an awareness and grounding in the present moment. Sounds simple, but it is not. It is necessary. And acupuncture is just one piece to the puzzle, but a very powerful one at that!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Transform Your Commute into Your Morning Meditation

 

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.” – Eckhart Tolle

As a mom of a beautiful one-year-old boy, you can imagine how busy my schedule gets. And when I do have a free moment, it’s usually spent eating or sleeping. But as someone who struggles with anxiety, meditating is not something I can compromise. I need it in my life. It’s just a matter of when I can squeeze it in to my daily routine.

Over the past few months, my morning drive to work has quickly and conveniently transformed into a time and space for centering and awareness. I’ve found that my anxiety reaches a clamoring crescendo once I have finally gotten myself out the door, late as always. I get into my car, open up my work email (which is merged with my personal…bad idea), and I immediately feel my body temperature and blood pressure rise. The to-do list unravels, the anxieties multiply, and my body starts to tense as I head into that familiar, numb place. If I let the stress of the day start there, I know what the outcome will be. So I have decided to use this glorious, quiet, 30-minute commute for my morning mediation.

Here’s how to transform your commute into a wonderful, enjoyable experience that sets you up for a great day.

Listen to a Guided Meditation

There is something about a guided meditation that works wonders for me. After finishing the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle on Audible, I knew I had found something powerful. The sound of his voice and the beautiful sentiments he shares makes everything better.

Find your breath.

NEVER underestimate the power of your breath. I know it sounds stupid, but there is something to it. Breathing is something we all do all the time and never pay any attention to. But breathing is life. It’s everything. It brings you back to the present moment, to your body, to reality. During tomorrow’s morning meditation, pay attention to the life and energy you feel within in your body with each and every breath.

The story of I am

I love the reference to “I am” in Eckhart’s meditation. Your story is I am…not I was or I will. The present moment is all that we have. Becoming aware of what is real and happening around you is what Eckhart refers to as the “isness” of the moment. It is the only thing that is real. The past is not real anymore and the future has yet to happen. Why worry or think about either?

With a few centering breaths and a calming meditation playing in the background, you can find your way back to the now. This morning, I felt my hands on the steering wheel, I tasted really tasted the wonderful flavors in my cup of coffee, and saw the vibrancy of my surroundings even on a dreary, rainy New England morning. I didn’t want to leave my car once parked outside of my office. How funny and odd is that? I wanted to soak it all in for just a few moments longer. Who would have ever thought a commute could be so enjoyable!

Don’t forget to say your Morning Mantra!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Acupuncture for Anxiety

I always tell my close friends and family that if I could afford acupuncture once a week, I would no longer need to take medication for my anxiety. That is how profound acupuncture has been for me.

Since I was a little girl, I have always struggled with anxiety and depression. It runs in my family, and is an inevitable pull I cannot escape. Now in my 30s, I know the best I can do is use the tools and resources I have to manage what is simply a part of me. Maybe one day, with enough practice, I can strip away the negative thoughts and painful experiences that fuel my anxious being and live as my “true” self.

Here are the top three reasons why acupuncture is so powerful for those living with anxiety, panic disorders, and depression.

A quiet mind

The single greatest benefit of acupuncture is the calm, peaceful energy it stimulates that helps quiet and still my mind. Like so many, my mind races with questions, doubts, negative self talk, and just plain nonsensical chatter that I struggle to turn off. I have fortunately reached a space of awareness in my life where I am able to acknowledge the chatter, but have yet to master the ability and focus necessary to softly and without judgement quiet it. Acupuncture effortlessly brings me to a space of calm and quiet. Once the needles are inserted, I am able to sink into the table and the present moment, and start drinking up the bliss of stillness. Even though the effects of acupuncture eventually wear off, sometimes within hours, I am hopeful that with time I can learn to hold onto it for longer.

The “Acu-High”

Ahhhh, the delicious feeling you get right after a session when your body and mind are connected and flowing, your mind is calm, your muscles relaxed, and for lack of a better term you feel happy, hazy, and a wee bit high. For me, it’s a happy haze. I feel like every muscle that was tight when I entered the room has released, my mind has surrendered the present moment, and I can’t help but smile. It is the best feeling ever and borderline addicting.

Heightened sensations

When the numbing fog of anxiety and repetition has been lifted, I can finally see clearly again. I can feel the sun against my skin as I enjoy the warmth, and the budding plant adjacent to the tire of my parked car that I must have missed on my walk in is noticeable, bright, and beautiful. Sounds and smells are more enjoyable than they were before, as I feel my whole body awaken from a deep slumber I never wanted to drift into.

Of all the amazing benefits of acupuncture for anxiety, it serves as a powerful reminder that there IS another way of living. I CAN feel alive, awake, and energized. I CAN enjoy everything around me that is too often dulled by the stress of everyday life. 

Have you tried acupuncture yet? What is holding you back? Tell me about it in the comments.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Meditation Healing During Menstruation

A woman’s soul is like the ocean. Turbulent and choppy on the surface at times, but beneath the crest and breaking waves is a limitless, unshakable depth of strength and resolve.

A few months ago, I began listening to The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle on audio. It was a transformative experience during a particularly turbulent time in my professional life. During my sacred morning drives to work where I listened to Eckhart’s calm, loving voice, he touched upon a topic that has since intrigued me to learn more about mediating during menstruation. He spoke about the pain body that many women experience during menstruation, and how, if harnessed appropriately, can open a door to deep meditation, awareness, and for some enlightenment. He talked about the centuries of pain, suffering, and oppression that manifest into the physical and emotional suffering we experience during menstruation. He mentioned that if we catch ourselves in those moments of anger and irritation, which most refer to as “PMS symptoms” and turn inward, we can find a portal to presence and bliss.

During my research on this topic, I found this meditation. Designed specifically for the time when most women feel depleted and irritable, it is a beautiful mediation for healing during menstruation. I love the visual reference to the gold cord within us all that helps us root to ourselves and the earth.

As turbulent as we may feel on the outside, we can always draw strength and love from an unshakable place within! Enjoy!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.