To Feel Calm is a Powerful Force

by April 11, 2020

For weeks now I’ve been writing this piece over and over in my head. Months, really. Editing as the situation evolves.

Editing as my own perspective evolves.

Instead of an otherworldly-looking virus in my headline photo, I opted for a picture of what Mother Nature is up to while we’re in a state of limbo.

She’s growing. Blossoming. Changing every day. Sharing her beauty with us for free.

Early on during this crisis, I was feeling everyone’s fear so strongly that I was exhausted. I felt like Dorothy in the poppy field. 

My dear friend with a car drove us to the woods and if ever I needed proof of the healing power of Nature (especially trees) it was that day. The next morning I nearly bolted out of my bed feeling totally recharged. It was as if someone had waved a magic wand of energy over me.

A few weeks later I walked up to a city park to be with the trees. I was alone in the park, looking in awe at a Forsythia beginning to bloom when a police officer told me I had to leave. The park was closed.

It seemed so ironic. “What could be better for us right now than sunshine, fresh air, trees?” I thought. Especially those of us living in the city, unable to escape to the woods.

I have not been watching the mainstream news for more than 5 minutes here or there – other than to check in on where I’m no longer allowed to go. Yes, I promise, this is possible.

Many of you will think this irresponsible of me. But, I believe it’s important to choose wisely what we allow into our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. 

A neighbor who used to work as a producer on a mainstream news network recently told me that her job was to ramp up fear and boost ratings.

And the fact that the US is one of only two countries in the world where pharmaceutical companies are allowed to advertise on television ought to be a waving red flag.

So, I’d love for you to check-in with yourself right now and ask if the news is feeding your fear.

One constant has remained throughout these past months and that is that I feel fearless. Not in a smug, “I’m not afraid of anything” kind of way. It has been strange, I’ll admit. I’ve felt like I’m riding a wave of calm surrounded by an ocean of fear.

To feel calm is a powerful force. A gift.

I know that fear – I experienced it for 50 years of my life. Fear and anxiety ruled me. I worried about everything, but most especially health-related things.

I was the Queen of fear.

And then a prolonged chronic illness along with some traumatic life changes led me to the world of mind/body/spirit medicine and everything changed.

I slowly healed.

With each new crisis, both in my inner and outer world, I began to feel like I was floating above them.

Like now.

I started to realize that I was not so afraid of dying anymore. That’s a pretty big claim, I know, but it’s true. I don’t look forward to my death and I work really hard at keeping myself healthy, but I don’t worry about it much. Technically I’m in an age group that should be concerned about contracting this virus. I’ve had lung issues. I am not worried in the least.

It seems to me that what’s at the core of so much fear right now is simply mortality. Our own death and the death of our loved ones. 

I’m not this perfectly evolved soul who never feels the emotion of fear. But, I feel like I’ve been gifted with this calm right now for a reason. 

Right before the new year, I bought the most magnificent set of oracle cards called “The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck and Guidebook” by Kim Krans. Every single day I have pulled a card for guidance from the animal spirits.

Several years ago while traversing a rather difficult period in my life, animals started showing up in my dreams in the most magnificent ways. Dozens of gorillas on a beach, a field of lionesses, a bear who came into my cottage and when I fainted from fright, gently picked me up and placed me on the sofa before leaving the cottage.

I had a healing dream with a pigeon and I’ve never looked at them in the same way.

So, I feel very connected to animal spirits. 

A few weeks into this strange time I asked what I needed to know about my role in all of this. As I began to shuffle, a card flew from the deck and it was the Buffalo. Over the past weeks, this card has shown itself to me two more times.

“The hooves of the mighty Buffalo are grounded in the Earth, yet its heart and mind rise toward heaven. The Buffalo sees challenge, hardship, or a bump in the road as an opportunity for upliftment. Therefore the Buffalo does not fear death, illness, or misfortune…its gentle eyes look to the road ahead, trusting every turn. May we all experience this elusive yet life-changing bliss from time to time, and may we allow this card to remind us that life is a precious gift.”

I want to share the wisdom of this card with you. Read it again and know that you, too, can live life like this if you choose.

I am in my sixties now and it might be harder for someone younger to embrace the wisdom of the Buffalo. But I want you to know that all the hard things in life – grief and illness and death and hardship can lead you to a state of Grace and make your life so much richer once you get to the other side. 

We all have our dark nights of the soul.

This seems to be one giant collective dark night of the soul.

It certainly has shown us, without a doubt, just how connected we really are.

I wish I could magically wipe away the fear being felt right now by people I know as well as strangers I encounter. I see the fear and uncertainty behind their masks.

Maybe I’m sounding like Pollyanna during a pandemic – so let me say

I am not making light of the situation and I feel deeply for the millions of people worldwide whose health and livelihood are being drastically affected. 

For the healthcare workers and everyone else on the front lines working tirelessly.

For the people still bagging our groceries and delivering our packages and picking up our trash.

For those who are living with a level of fear like never before.

As though we’re in a war.

People are dying and their loved ones are grieving.

Along with the fear, the grief is palpable.

In the ancient practices of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), grief and sadness are said to reside in the lungs.

An Ayurvedic doctor once told me I had old stale grief in my lungs and he suggested a certain type of pranayama (breathwork) to eliminate it.

He said to take a slow, deep breath, rising up from the abdomen into the ribcage, and then release it slowly, while making a snake-like hissing sound through my teeth. I like to picture squeezing out every last little bit of grief.

So, please, if you are feeling this grief, remember to Breathe.

My Ayurveda teacher, Maya Tiwari, always spoke about how tenuous the change of seasons is in terms of our health. Especially winter into spring.

Spring is Kapha Season and many people suffer from stagnation and excess mucus along with lung ailments. It is naturally a time for cleansing. Whether we put effort into cleansing or not, the body will try to do it anyway.

Many people experiencing common spring colds and allergy symptoms are worried they have the dreaded virus. Elevating their fear. I understand. I remember that fear. But, it can compromise the very immune system you want to be taking care of. 

I am blessed right now, compared to many, no doubt about it.

I work at home in a space that I love. With lots of plants to nurture me. 

I like to Cave.

It helps to be an introvert during these times because we recharge by being alone. But, it must be extremely challenging for the extroverts among us who recharge their energy in the company of others.

One thing that I noticed early on was how inundated I felt by all of the wonderful offerings coming my way via email and social media.

Meditations, meet-ups, webinars, etc. I received four or five of the same poetry chain letters. I love poetry, but I had to decline.

I had just signed up for Rosemary Gladstar’s year-long course “The Science and Art of Herbalism”. Homework and all. I have not even cracked it open.

Overwhelm can derail me and in this instance, my intuition has been shouting at me to just get quiet. 

Go within.

Deeper into the Solitude.

I love Solitude but sometimes I let myself get caught up in the chatter around me. Mostly my own. 

And so, I’ve been deleting emails by the dozens and saying a silent “Thank you, but I graciously decline.” I promise it’s ok if you do the same to mine. 🙂 

In addition to the fear and grief, I want to address another energy swirling around out there.

The energy of Judgment.

There is the judgment that some of us aren’t taking this seriously enough. 

There is the opposite judgment that people are overreacting.

Believe me, I had to check myself early on because I was definitely in the second group. Once I saw myself there I managed to shift to a place of more compassion for the fear I was seeing – especially in my friends’ eyes.

We are all vastly different and at different places on our journey in this lifetime. We process life differently – from a different lens. And so, naturally, our reactions are going to differ. 

I’m writing with some trepidation because I feel this energy of judgment so strongly.

I have been admonished by a few people who don’t feel I’m acting appropriately. Without a mask. Or gloves. 

Counter that with my judgment that people were falling in line with these draconian measures far too easily. Without asking questions.

I wrote a post once about the two little (I refer to them as) beings who sit on my shoulders called Judgment and Blame. They pinch me every time I slip up, as all humans are apt to do.

I still have a good friend who is hugging me regularly. And I’m hugging her back. We comment on how strange this world has become that we feel like criminals for touching.

I left the city last week with my friend, again, in her car, to the woods. And while some reacted with “How wonderful!” others were angry that I had the audacity to leave my home.

To breathe the fresh air. Sit with the trees. Watch the turtles sunning themselves on rocks.

Today, this same friend told me that a nearby city is using drones to tell people to disperse and go home.

“Fashionable” face masks have invaded my Instagram feed.

If you’re questioning the status quo, you don’t care about people dying.

I learned that there is something called Moral Panic in sociology and that this is a classic case of it.

Okay, here I go.

I have many many questions about what’s behind all of this. I can remember, right when this crisis began developing, that something didn’t seem right.

My intuition was on high alert.

Sagittarians are truth-seekers. We truly can’t help ourselves. 

I remember that one of the very first things that popped into my head was mandated vaccinations.

I saw in my mind’s eye a world where we wouldn’t be able to travel or get a driver’s license without them.

And, it seems I wasn’t alone in having these thoughts.

As someone who works very hard at keeping myself healthy, the issue of medical freedom is extremely important to me.

Soon, I started going down the rabbit hole of information that you won’t find on mainstream media. And, yes, that includes CNN. Remember who’s paying their bills. The pharmaceutical companies.

CNN is owned by AT&T, a company front and center in the rolling out of 5G technology. If you’re concerned about the health implications of this virus, you might want to educate yourself on 5G.

I don’t want to be writing about this stuff. I would much rather write about being with the trees, what I’m learning about the plants,  talking with Miss Yarrow, making kitchari, or Elderberry Syrup, or hanging with the animal spirits.

My life path number is 2. The Peacemaker. We can see both sides of an issue. We don’t like confrontation and anger can make us physically ill. I know I’m in dangerous territory here.

And yet, that darn Sagittarian energy keeps lighting up and urging me to seek the Truth.

So, pardon me while I take a moment to Breathe and come out of the rabbit hole.

I live in a world connected to other healers who practice Ayurveda, TCM, Shamanism, Herbalism, Energy Medicine, etc. which have been around for thousands of years. These modalities teach you preventative practices and being in tune with your precious body, mind, and spirit. 

Healing with plants (yes, even just by being in their presence – i.e. my time in the woods) has been around as long as man has walked the Earth.

In some Native languages, the term for plants translates to ‘those who take care of us’.
–Robin Wall Kimmerer, “Braiding Sweetgrass”

There are plants to heal every human ailment.

They wait patiently for us to ask for their help.

There are hundreds of plants with antiviral properties.

Plants that help strengthen our immune system to help it do its job. Plants that fortify the lungs, lubricate them, expel mucus. Plants that calm the nervous system.

And on and on.

I did not grow up in this world. Not at all. I didn’t have a mother or grandmother who knew about the plants and could teach me. We never even had a vegetable garden.

I was born in the fifties and we ate all kinds of horrible things. Baloney, Wonder Bread and Spam. Canned vegetables. And on and on.

I came to this holistic model of healing very late in my life. I think it was a gift because I did the hard work. 

Western medicine had only offered me pharmaceuticals which added more symptoms to my already long list of chronic symptoms. And so I turned away from it.

I began to listen to The Voice. My intuition grew stronger.

The plants began to speak to me during those years and so I honor them by listening and learning how they can help us.

I am still learning and will be learning about them until the day I die.

Because, as a Sag, my life-long search for Truth comes with an insatiable hunger for knowledge.

Now, during these times, I want to shout this wisdom about the plants from the rooftop. 

Many people today are completely detached from the old ways and only know Western (Allopathic) medicine, which created a model whereby everyone needs to “check with their doctor” and then listen to her/him as the final authority. This system has only been around a couple of hundred years.

This is no offense intended to doctors, and if I broke my leg I would certainly seek out a doctor rather than an herbalist (although there are plants that would also support the healing process :)). Western medicine is very good at fixing broken things.

But medical schools still barely teach basic nutrition. 

Food is medicine. 

Plants heal.

Bureaucracy doesn’t even allow doctors and other Western medicine practitioners time to be the healers most of them went into medicine to be.

Please read my words carefully before lashing out at me. This is not a vilification of doctors or nurses or anyone else who is a part of the Western medical system. Especially not now. They are healers. They are angels. They have my utmost respect.

I still consult with other healers when issues with my own health arise. But, I so passionately believe that we need to take back control of our own health.

This is a wakeup call that the Allopathic medicine model just isn’t working, including, as we’re seeing now, the hospital system.

I deeply appreciate and admire those on the frontlines who are having to deal with the crisis but a hospital is a place I never want to be. So many people who are scared and completely detached from knowing how to care for their bodies end up in the hospital, only to add to the chaos there and increase their chance of death.

How am I staying healthy and grounded? With the simplest of measures.

Going to bed early. 

Staying hydrated. (this is a hard one for me!)

Knowing what foods nourish my body. Fortifying my immune system.

Going outside and walking/biking, sitting in the sun with a good book.

Talking to the beloved city trees who are keeping me sane.

Meditating.

Watching funny movies.

Dancing! Joy is an antidote to fear. And so I dance. Music lifts my Spirit. 

Find your Joy. It’s impossible to feel fear when you’re feeling Joy.

Since I can’t be in serious Nature right now I journey and daydream about where I want to be.

The simplest things can have the most profound healing effect.

I mentioned earlier that we all seem to be going through a collective dark night of the soul.

With all of the chaos, the questions, the restrictions, there is also, without a doubt, the energy of transformation on the horizon. Chaos always seems to precede transformation.

People are taking a hard look at their relationships, their jobs, their beliefs, and what their life purpose might be.

Change is coming. Big change. 

Boy, the astrologers were right. All last year they told us about what was looming ahead in 2020. And, unfortunately, according to all of them, this crisis will not resolve itself in a neat and tidy manner. It looks to be a tumultuous year. So, brace yourself. Dig deep. Change rarely happens overnight.

And now, I want to circle back to where I started – with Mother Nature.

When life as we knew it stopped, I, along with many others, remarked at how glad we were that Mother Earth was finally getting a break from the irreverent way we humans have treated her.

The fact is, we are Nature.

But our big brain species somewhere along the line decided to try and dominate the plants and the other animals, rather than living in harmony as neighbors. It seems that it took something monumental to happen to us for the Earth to feel some relief.

I don’t know what truly is behind this crisis. I don’t know if we’ll ever know the truth of it. But one thing’s for sure – we cannot go back to our old ways of doing things. Especially in terms of our treatment of this precious planet – who would, by the way, be just fine without our species.

One of the first things I wanted to do was to add to the forest that I’m growing via TreeSisters.org. Because shouldn’t we all be planting more trees?

This morning I was wondering what my wise teacher, Maya Tawari would be saying and I found this quote on her Facebook page. I guess she taught me well. 🙂

“The Immunity of Mother Earth is threatened, and therefore all of life is at risk. It is about building the Immunity of our Conscience; our Humanity toward Mother Earth, Mother Nature. She is fragile, and thus we are fragile. Take precautions but do not align with the fear and survival globules! We must strengthen our Simplify; Lessen the use of Mother Nature’s Resources; Give back to the Earth; Comfort those who are fragile; Do not allow the collective fears into your psyche. Pray for Mother Earth. Be good to Mother Earth. Be good to yourselves. Re-align with Mother Moon. Practice Simple Sadhanas. Vocalise Mantras. Weep with Mother Earth. Hug her trees. Sit with your feet in her streams. Pray for the Waters.” Maya Tiwari

I want to give my fellow humans the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe that we can collectively change our ways. And then, I see discarded face masks and rubber gloves littered everywhere and my heart sinks.

This bold piece of Truth by Kristin Flyntz came my way and I want to share it with you. It is the first and only time you’ll see the C-word mentioned in my post. That’s been intentional. It has been a huge trigger for me, seeing it everywhere. It seems to have taken on a life of its own.

An Imagined Letter from Covid-19 to Humans

“Stop. Just stop.
It is no longer a request. It is a mandate.
We will help you.
We will bring the supersonic, high-speed merry-go-round to a halt
We will stop
the planes
the trains
the schools
the malls
the meetings
the frenetic, furied rush of illusions and “obligations” that keep you from hearing our
single and shared beating heart,
the way we breathe together, in unison.
Our obligation is to each other,
As it has always been, even if, even though, you have forgotten.
We will interrupt this broadcast, the endless cacophonous broadcast of divisions and distractions,
to bring you this long-breaking news:
We are not well.
None of us; all of us are suffering.
Last year, the firestorms that scorched the lungs of the earth
did not give you pause.
Nor the typhoons in Africa, China, Japan.
Nor the fevered climates in Japan and India.
You have not been listening.
It is hard to listen when you are so busy all the time, hustling to uphold the comforts and conveniences that scaffold your lives.
But the foundation is giving way,
buckling under the weight of your needs and desires.
We will help you.
We will bring the firestorms to your body
We will bring the fever to your body
We will bring the burning, searing, and flooding to your lungs
that you might hear:
We are not well.
Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy.
We are Messenger. We are Ally. We are a balancing force.
We are asking you:
To stop, to be still, to listen;
To move beyond your individual concerns and consider the concerns of all;
To be with your ignorance, to find your humility, to relinquish your thinking minds and travel deep into the mind of the heart;
To look up into the sky, streaked with fewer planes, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, smoky, smoggy, rainy? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy?
To look at a tree, and see it, to notice its condition: how does its health contribute to the health of the sky, to the air you need to be healthy?
To visit a river, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, clean, murky, polluted? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy? How does its health contribute to the health of the tree, who contributes to the health of the sky, so that you may also be healthy?
Many are afraid now.
Do not demonize your fear, and also, do not let it rule you. Instead, let it speak to you—in your stillness,
listen for its wisdom.
What might it be telling you about what is at work, at issue, at risk, beyond the threats of personal inconvenience and illness?
As the health of a tree, a river, the sky tells you about the quality of your own health, what might the quality of your health tell you about the health of the rivers, the trees, the sky, and all of us who share this planet with you?
Stop.
Notice if you are resisting.
Notice what you are resisting.
Ask why.
Stop. Just stop.
Be still.
Listen.
Ask us what we might teach you about illness and healing, about what might be required so that all may be well.
We will help you if you listen.”

Kristin Flyntz

“For there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” William Shakespeare

If ever there was a time for us to remember to connect our head with our heart it is now. We have an opportunity to slow down, do the deep work, take an honest look at our habits and how we treat the Earth, each other, and ourselves.

It is also a time to remember that it’s okay to ask questions. 

I have compiled a longer than usual list below of some resources that might interest you. Open your mind and your heart. Pretend you’re a Sagittarian. 🙂

Just as I’ve been mindful of not ingesting the mainstream news, so too have I been using my gut as a guide when I read from alternative independent sites. I don’t agree with everyone 100%. I’ve honed my intuition over the years and you should, too.

What feels truthful to you?

When you have some time, perhaps make yourself a cup of tea and have a read. They are all worthy of a look, but please, don’t miss reading “The Coronationby Charles Eisenstein, which is one of the best essays I’ve read during this time of change. 

Thank you for letting me share my thoughts and my concerns here with you. I hope that something I’ve said will give you some comfort and maybe a little food for thought.

I have never fretted so much about hitting “Publish” than I am right now. This was written with all the Love and Truth I could muster. But it’s time to let it go.

If you made it all the way through this long post, you get a virtual gold star and know that I so appreciate you!!

I’ll leave you with this loving-kindness meditation that I’ve used many times during turbulent airplane flights. It’s wonderful for calming fear, especially when linked to the breath.

I am happy. I am healthy. I am safe. I am at peace.

Much love,
Barbara

P.S. I have never had to ask this of you before, but I am asking it now. Please do not send me any angry emails or leave nasty comments. There is enough angry energy out there and trying to stay centered is a daily process, especially now. If anything I’ve said or shared here has triggered or angered you, please feel free to unsubscribe. Thank you for understanding. xo

P.P.S. Most of my sharing lately has been on Instagram. Join me @shewhositswithtrees if you’re there!

The Coronation by Charles Eisenstein
The Rich Roll Podcast with Charles Eisenstein
Blowing the Whistle on Covid19
“Herbs for Immunity” – Rosalee de la Foret
What are Anti-Viral Herbs” – Learning Herbs
Building a Healthy Immune System – Banyan Botanicals
How to Strengthen Your Lungs – Joyful Belly
Herbal Antivirals” by Stephen Harrod Buhner
Perspectives on the Pandemic with Professor Knut Wittkowski
Coronavirus Provides Dictators & Oligarchs with a Dream Come True
What We Can Learn From a Pandemic “Tabletop Exercise”
Gates’ Globalist Vaccine Agenda: A Win-Win for Pharma and Mandatory Vaccination
Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai – We are at War
Bill Gates is continuing the work of Monsanto’, Vandana Shiva tells FRANCE 24

 

 

 

 

My Story of Infinite Love

by February 21, 2020

It was February 20, 2013, and I was in the Sonoran Desert outside of Tucson. I was with a group of energy healing students at a workshop and for two days I’d been walking around the property smelling the most magnificent scent I’d ever smelled. What was blooming?

I asked a maintenance man in his golf cart: “What’s blooming that smells so good?” He shook his head.

I went to the front desk and asked: “What is blooming outside that smells so good?” Nothing.

The next day I woke up and it was snowing in the desert! While some people traveling to Arizona in February might be dismayed at the sight of snow I was beside myself with Joy. They said it was the first time in 30 years it had snowed in that region.

It looked like a fairyland. Clumps of snow and ice clung to the Juniper trees and the cactus seemed confused. The surrounding mountains were dusted white.

As I wandered around in my winter desert wonderland daze, I happened upon two guys, Doug and Wayne, who were new to our group and I hadn’t yet met. I introduced myself and as I was chatting with them, I caught a whiff of the blooming something. I asked if they knew what that delicious scent was and did they know what bloomed in the desert in February. Everything was snow-covered but the scent was still strong.

Doug said to me “I don’t know, but you sure smell good!” That made me laugh. 🙂

By the end of the day, most of the snow had melted and the next day it was gone and our coats were off. As I walked to the restaurant for lunch, there it was again. “Whatever flower that is,” I thought to myself “it survived the snowstorm”.

The next morning as I was getting ready for the day I dabbed a bit of Lotus Wei Infinite Love Serum on my heart center. My naturopath had given it to me after my partner died to help me through my grief. The fragrance emanating from the serum was heavenly and something about it always worked its magic on me. I would take a deep inhale and feel my heart instantly lighten.

Kind of like how I’d been inhaling the mystery plant on the property all week.

But, wait a minute. The Infinite Love smells remarkably like what I’ve been trying to track down all week. Oh my God, Barbara. Are you serious? Are you daft? I’d been smelling my Infinite Love anointed self all week and thought it was some precious desert flower in bloom.

I love this story (embarrassing though it might be). It was a magical week that is forever etched into my memory.

I got to experience a desert snowstorm, I made two dear friends (Doug and Wayne), and I rediscovered the power of Infinite Love.

With Love,
Barbara

Who Went and Put the Holidays Smack Dab in the Middle of Vata Season?

by November 19, 2019

I love this photograph. I took it several years ago when I joined the throngs of people uptown to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and look at the shop windows. It perfectly captures the feeling of chaos that I’ve always felt this time of year.

When I was studying Ayurveda, I started to think about the irony of the major holidays falling during Vata season (in the Northern Hemisphere where I live).

As soon as Halloween was over I’d feel myself slowly filling with panic and dread. Thanksgiving was on the horizon. And then Christmas.

The holidays seem to be all about staying organized, time management, scheduling, and upsetting your regular routine. Ayurveda finally made me understand why the holiday months have always derailed me.

All of those qualities that help to make this time enjoyable and minimally stressful are, unfortunately, not characteristics of Vata dosha. 

Vata-types often tend to be disorganized, creative, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants people, and extremely prone to depletion.

Of course, there are exceptions, and many of us have constitutions that are dual-doshic or tri-doshic. But for someone with a lot of Vata in their constitution, this time of year can seem impossible to endure. Vata-types can feel chaotic and unhinged even on days when there’s no holiday in sight.

So, how do Pitta-types handle the holidays? Well, they are generally the most organized of the doshas. Although Pitta-types can be overworked and overstressed (many Type A’s are Pitta), and we live in a very Vata-paced world, they at least have the skills to get through. 

They might have their shopping done months ago, cookies are baked and in the freezer and the tree is bought and decorated.

They attack their to-do list with a vengeance.

And what about the beloved Kapha-type? Well, they might not be as motivated as the Pitta-type or disorganized as the Vata-type, but what is most important to them is family.

So the holidays can either fill them with joy or depress them, depending on the state of affairs in their family. A kapha-type can easily slip into depression if they find themselves alone during the holidays.

If we can take a moment to understand each other better based on our constitutions, the holidays just might be a little less stressful and more enjoyable for all of us.

I admit that I feel a certain tenderness for my fellow Vatas during the holiday months. Being creative types we find ourselves in a dilemma – we love the twinkling lights, the music, the sights and smells of the holidays – but we often lack the energy or skills to navigate them successfully.

These days I face the holidays with a new sense of understanding, freedom, peace, and CALM.

Thanks to Ayurveda, once I recognized these differences for what they are (our constitutions never change) I was able to let go of unrealistic expectations I had put on myself. 

I don’t bake cookies or send cards or even buy many gifts anymore.

I don’t buy a Christmas tree and last year I didn’t put up one decoration.

It seemed criminal at first when one by one I dropped these to-dos from my list. 

Now, it feels downright liberating.

I want to be slowing down, hibernating, not in a state of chaotic consumerism and seasonal activities that I just don’t enjoy anymore.

Ok, I confess. I love the smell of Pine and I’ll probably grab some cut branches from the farmer’s market.

But, my big goal this year is to let go of the guilt that I’m disappointing family and friends.

It’s no coincidence that this time of year is ripe with spiritual gifts. The veil between our world and the spiritual world is very thin now and it’s a time for deep meditation, reflection, and dreaming.

Vata-types tend to be rather intuitive, tuned-in, and spiritual. They often live more comfortably “in the clouds” rather than grounded in this world. This is even more pronounced during Vata Season.

Please nurture the Vata-types in your life a little extra during the holidays. Cook for them, hug them, lighten their load, keep them warm and be understanding of their limitations during this challenging time.

If you have a Kapha-type in your life, make an extra effort to spend family time with them and be vigilant for signs of depression.

I love this quote by a dear friend of mine:

“The number one reason I hear each day that is causing too many of us stress is feeling like we have too much to do. In some cases, some of these things are necessary. In many cases, we take things on or convince ourselves the task is a must, when in truth no one will die if we don’t do it nor will you be liked any less. AND, as you let go of having to do it all, you create space for others to take on these tasks. Just remember, they may not do it exactly like you; that’s another topic for another day.”  —Jennifer Bolus

Please don’t take this as holiday bashing. I have friends and family who  LOVE the holidays. If they feed your soul that is a gift!

My friend, Monica, cannot wait until the day after Thanksgiving when she can play holiday music with abandon. And her Italian-style Christmas Day luncheon which she so graciously invites me to every year is, well, you have to be there to experience it. 🙂 It’s epic chaos, all coming from a place of love.

Meanwhile, I’ll be popping in and out of my cave this holiday season. I plan to re-read “Little Women” for the umpteenth time and maybe watch some old movies. But, I’ll definitely be honoring my own energy and not caving in to any outside pressure.

Wishing you all a calm, stress-free and happy holiday season!

Much love,
Barbara

P.S. Unsure what your Ayurvedic constitution is? Click here

Note: This article was originally published on 11-19-2016 and has been edited to include my present-day reflections.

Why Do We Feel so Anxious in the Fall?

by September 28, 2019

Fall has officially arrived here in the Northern Hemisphere. Do you ever wonder why some of us tend to feel more anxious at this time of year? I’ll get to that in a bit, but first I want to mention the flip-flopping weather that happens around the juncture of the seasons.

Where I live in the Northeastern US, daily temperatures can fluctuate anywhere from 60 to 90 degrees. It’s a day-to-day inquiry about how to dress. One day we’ll have to bundle up, only to find ourselves peeling off layers later in the day.

But soon the cold will cause the leaves to change color, dry up and blow off the trees with a little help from the wind.

Then it’ll be sweater and scarf weather, and Vata Season will have officially arrived.

Windy, cold and dry is the hallmark of this Ayurvedic season.

Ayurveda is very cautionary about the change of seasons. Our bodies need extra-special TLC as the climate shifts and different elements take charge.

“The Ayurvedic texts say that a disease can take root in the body only during the junctions between the seasons, when all nature is in flux. Because of the upheaval dominating these junctions, the body’s natural immunity becomes virtually defenseless against impending disease.” -Maya Tiwari

And along with this seasonal shift, many of us (especially those with significant Vata dosha in our constitution) will feel familiar fear and anxiety creeping in.

For most of my life, I felt this strange phenomenon and could never make sense of it until I studied Ayurveda. September would roll around and although I loved this time of year – brilliant trees, crisp apples, and back-to-school supplies – I couldn’t deal with the anxiety.

Case in point, this year I made the mistake of scheduling a dentist appointment last week and while there is never a good time in my mind to go to the dentist (dental PTSD!) September is probably the worst month I could have chosen.

I was a hot mess and even the hygienist commented on how anxious she’d been feeling.

In Vata Season, the elements of air and ether predominate. This is shifting from Pitta Season, where fire and water were abundant.

Note: If you’re still experiencing any heat-related symptoms in the body (rashes, acidity, etc.) you might want to read this.

It’s always important to cleanse the body of excesses from the previous season and Mother Nature has just the right foods to help.

The air element in Vata seems easier to comprehend than ether (or space). We recognize the wind blowing and also that the air element inside the body is what moves everything.

But what role does ether play in the body? Think of all the empty spaces in the body – intestines, bladder, blood vessels, etc. Vata dosha rules this mysterious element.

Vata dosha is dry, mobile, cold, light, rough, clear and subtle.

Whether or not Vata is predominant in your constitution (take this quiz to determine yours), all of these characteristics can bring about an imbalance.

Because Vata by nature is movement, it rules the other two doshas, Pitta and Kapha. Nothing happens without Vata. There would be no breath, no blood coursing through our veins, no elimination, no thought processes.

Vata is the queen (or king) of the doshas.

And it can wreak havoc during fall and early winter. This I know for sure. The more awareness I place on this changeable dosha, the more I am able to keep my anxiety and fear at bay.

Vata dosha, more than anything else, needs to be deeply nurtured and nourished.

In addition to Vata Season, there are also Vata times of the day – 2:00-6:00 am and 2:00-6:00 pm. These are hours when you might find increased Vata. Bear this in mind during your day.

Here are a few signs that your Vata dosha might be increased and needs balancing:

  • Feelings of heightened anxiety, nervousness, and fear
  • Bothered by cold and wind
  • Sleep is interrupted and light
  • Excess worrying
  • Excess stimulation is bothersome – i.e. crowds and loud noises
  • Intestinal gas, constipation – the colon is the seat of Vata dosha
  • Dryness – skin, hair, stools, eyes, etc.
  • Feeling disorganized and overwhelmed
  • Can’t sit still
  • Fatigue following bursts of energy. Crash and burn (this is typical of Vata energy)
  • Depletion

Like increases like in Ayurveda, so think opposite to bring your Vata back into balance.

  • Dress warmly and keep a scarf around your neck, especially when windy. The back of the neck is especially vulnerable to wind.
  • Eat more warm, gently cooked seasonal foods. Root vegetables are especially grounding for Vatas.
  • Avoid cold drinks. Opt instead for warm beverages like spiced herbal teas, warm spiced milk, or warm lemon water with honey.
  • Eat enough healthy fats and oils (especially ghee)
  • Avoid over-exercising, which can aggravate already high-energy Vata. Gentle yoga, tai chi, and qigong are excellent choices.
  • Take quiet walks in Nature – it’s very grounding for airy Vatas.
  • Meditation and pranayama (breathing practice) can help soothe Vata anxiety and fear.
  • Daily self-massage with warm grounding oils like sesame or almond oil is extremely calming to the nervous system. Or, try an herbalized Vata oil.
  • Try to stay away from loud, noisy environments and when you can’t avoid them, take a moment to breathe deeply and find your inner calm.
  • Keeping a regular routine with regards to sleeping, eating, working, etc. is imperative for Vatas, who love variety and can easily lose focus. An ideal bedtime is between 9:00–10:00 pm.
  • Nurture yourself as much as possible on a daily basis!
  • Follow the food guidelines for your constitution and you’ll be on the right track.

When balanced, Vata-type people are creative, optimistic, joyful, forgiving, flexible, and full of enthusiasm. They thrive on change and love to discover and experience new things.

While fall has always ushered in feelings of high anxiety for me, so too has it been a time of super-charged creativity.

Each year I learn a little bit more about keeping the energy balanced, deeply nurturing myself and allowing myself to receive help from others. Especially those gifted with organizational skills. 🙂

Vata Season is also a special time for going within and connecting to our Source. Vata people generally have a very spiritual nature.

So, take the time to get quiet, meditate, be in Nature, and you might find yourself receiving amazing messages to guide you in your life.

May the winds of Vata be gentle this season for us all.

Much love,
Barbara

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on October 6, 2015, and has been updated.

Children Have Doshas Too

by September 18, 2019

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on September 10, 2012.

Whenever I pass a schoolyard or a playground, I always play the Dosha Game. It’s a made-up game where I try to spot the little Vatas, Pittas, and Kaphas. It’s a perfect place to hone your Ayurveda skills because it’s easy to differentiate the doshas.

Children Have Doshas Too

Truth be told, we are not exactly doshas. The doshas are energies or forces in nature that make up our unique constitution (Prakriti).

Here in the West, we sometimes simplify things by referring to someone as being more Vata, Pitta, or Kapha.

In India, where Ayurveda originated, this practice of identifying people by their dosha is not so prevalent. The focus is on the person’s current state of health (Vikriti), which is as it should be.

Nevertheless, I often find myself obsessed with observing which dosha is more prevalent in people, and it’s often easier with children, who haven’t yet lived a lifetime of being in a state of imbalance.

The children who are predominantly Vata are usually the busy bees

–buzzing around joyfully, happy to be active no matter what their skill level is. But then they crash and burn. They’re all about movement and often don’t know when to stop.

Vata children are often labeled as ADHD.

Vata is the dosha of movement (elements are air/space) so by nature, they like to move. Or in other words, they can’t sit still.

They are highly creative and love change.

Vata children often learn quickly but forget just as quickly.

They tend to be delicate and deplete easily. Dietary and lifestyle changes can help significantly.

The Pitta children are the athletic ones and the organizers.

They’re usually leading the pack on the playground and can sometimes appear a little bossy.

They have good stamina, but look out when they get hungry–they need to eat right away, or they get crabby.

They’re the ones you’ll see with their coats flung open when the weather is cold–Pitta is the fire dosha, and they quickly become overheated.

The sweet Kapha child is often sitting on the sidelines, not too interested in running around, but the other kids are drawn to him/her because of his/her warm, loving nature.

Kapha children are robust and sturdy (earth and water are the elements of this dosha) and tend to gain weight quickly.

They have great stamina and tend to learn slowly, but remember forever!

Change can be very hard for Kapha children.

When my kids were young, I remember being fascinated by the Constitutional Psychology theory of William Sheldon. He described different physical types of children and named them Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph.

Now, having studied Ayurveda, I realize that in all likelihood, Sheldon must have been familiar with Ayurveda and the doshas.

He described an Ectomorph as having a thin build and very little fat (Vata), a Mesomorph as someone muscular, with solid bones, low-fat, broad shoulders and narrow waist (Pitta) and an Endomorph as someone with large bones and a propensity to store fat (Kapha).

I guess my fascination with Ayurveda began way back then and I didn’t even know it!

“Your constitution is determined at birth by the states of balance or imbalance of your parents’ rhythms during conception, as well as from the particular permutations of the five elements in the sperm and ovum at the time of conception.” Maya Tiwari – “The Path of Practice: A Woman’s Book of Ayurvedic Healing”

I find this fascinating! We all have the three doshas at play within us, but just like adults, children are usually a combination of two predominant doshas, and rarely three.

Whatever combination we are born with is called our Prakriti–a Sanskrit term that means “nature” or “first creation”.

Our Prakriti never changes and so to maintain good health, we must pay particular attention to the dosha or doshas which are dominant.

For example, if you have a child who is mostly Vata, he or she is probably often cold because they don’t store a lot of fat.

It’s best to stay away from cold liquids and food, especially during Vata Season which is fall-early winter. Also, make sure they get lots of rest and downtime.

Gentle yoga is perfect for little Vatas! Vata children are the anxious ones and believe it or not, can benefit from learning meditation and proper breathing techniques.

They are also prone to constipation because of the dry nature of Vata. Triphala is an extremely safe Ayurvedic herbal formula that can help tremendously.

If your child is predominantly Pitta, you will want to focus on keeping them cool.

Especially during Pitta Season (late spring/summer). They build up heat very easily in their body. Feed them cooling foods and stay away from spicy food.

Yoga, meditation, and breathing are also ideal for Pitta-type children. I know this may seem far-out, but if you begin teaching children these practices at an early enough age, problems such as anxiety and anger can be greatly minimized.

Kapha children are the ones that need to be encouraged every day to get outside and play.

They may not be drawn to the same activities as Vata and Pitta children so it’s important to find an activity that they love.

Their diets should be low in fat and especially sugar.

Late winter/early spring is Kapha Season and kids with a lot of Kapha dosha tend to produce a lot of mucus and get lots of spring colds. Avoiding mucus-producing foods like dairy, sugar, and fast foods can help significantly.

September is a back-to-school month for most children, and it’s a great time for parents and teachers to take a closer look at their children from an Ayurvedic point of view.

I have studied Ayurveda with Dr. John Douillard and he is an excellent resource for parents (he has six children of his own!).

And one of the absolute best books that I can recommend to parents is his “Perfect Health for Kids: Ten Ayurvedic Health Secrets Every Parent Must Know.” Read it, and then share it with your child’s teacher. Trust me, you will never look at your children the same again!

Much love,
Barbara

Why You Need to Cool Your Body NOW

by August 21, 2019

(This post was originally published on September 1, 2015, and updated on August 21, 2019.)

Here we are again, approaching the juncture between Ayurvedic seasons. The heat of Pitta Season will soon give way to the cold, dry, and windy nature of Vata Season (Fall/Early Winter). It’s really important to understand why you need to cool your body NOW.

Ayurveda cautions that every seasonal shift is a tenuous time for our health.

While it’s still terribly hot and humid here in the NYC area, my body/mind is starting to feel this shift approaching.

Little waves of anxiety that are the hallmark of Vata Season are starting to creep in. Uh oh…

On a good note, I feel my creativity waking from its summer slumber – a blessing of Vata dosha – and that makes me very happy.

For those of us who live in temperate climates, the changes are more obvious than for those who live in tropical climates. Still, wherever you are, if it’s been hot then you might want to heed this warning:

It’s time to kick that heat out of your body.

Ancient Ayurvedic wisdom teaches that the elemental excesses which accumulate during each season need to be cleared out in order for our body to be healthy during the upcoming season.

In the case of Pitta Season, of course, it’s HEAT that needs to go.

When August rolls around, even our blood is hot and dry.

I don’t know about you but it’s been making me crabby.

If any of these symptoms ring true for you, you may have an internal excess of heat from the hot summer months:

▪ Skin problems such as rash, eczema, hives, psoriasis or dermatitis
▪ A feeling of heat trapped in the body, hot flashes
▪ Burning or itching sensations
▪ Digestive issues such as heartburn, acid reflux, burping, nausea, loose stools or diarrhea, intense hunger
▪ Yellow coating on the tongue
▪ Bleeding gums or canker sores
▪ Excessive sweating (pungent-smelling)
▪ Excessive thirst
▪ Feelings of anger, jealousy, criticism, impatience

While these symptoms may seem to be simply an annoyance, they are actually red flags of imbalance that, left untreated, can lead to more serious problems. They are common Pitta imbalances and someone with a predominantly Pitta type of constitution may really be feeling the effects of the heat.

The energy of Vata dosha is dry and mobile. And so, as the seasons change it’s important to remember this:

If the excess heat of the summer is not properly expelled before entering Vata Season, this hot/dry energy will begin to move upward in the body, weakening it and making it more susceptible to colds, flu, allergies, as well as digestive and respiratory problems.

The body begins to produce reactive mucus to combat dryness and we will likely blame our runny nose and congested head on the person we work with who has a cold.

Mother Nature knows best, as always, and she kindly provides us with foods that are naturally cooling and help to dispel heat from the body.

You need to look no further than your local farmer’s market. Chances are that many of the seasonal foods you find will be of a cooling nature, so eat lots of fruits and vegetables at summer’s end.

Food is medicine!

Especially effective are apples (the sweet kind are best for Pitta and Vata types), pomegranates and beets.

Eating lots of these foods may create looser stools. This is a sign that the body is ridding itself of excess heat. So be sure to stay hydrated by sipping water and coconut water throughout the day.

Vata-types especially might benefit from fresh-squeezed lime juice with a pinch of sea salt in the water to help ward off dehydration.

Kapha-types will find relief when the humidity starts to wane because they tend to retain water.

For a complete list of foods that are cooling and Pitta-pacifying, click HERE.

AFTER you’ve worked to pull any excess heat out of the body

The change of seasons is always a prime opportunity to cleanse the body.

Fall cleanse guide for Ayurvedic constitutions by Banyan Botanicals, Barbara Sinclair Holistic Health

Unlike harsh cleanses which can leave the body in a weakened state, an Ayurvedic cleanse gently clears the body and mind of toxins and brings the doshas back into balance. It’s important to cleanse according to your Ayurvedic constitution.

If you’d like to work with me one-on-one, you can contact me here.

I’ll be back soon with lots of tips to soothe your Vata. 🙂

Much love,
Barbara

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