What is Reiki?

If you’re unfamiliar with Reiki it can sound very strange.

The word Reiki means “universal life force”, or “universal life energy” in Japanese. It’s a traditional Japanese energy healing modality that promotes relaxation in a person’s body, mind, and energy field, inviting the self-repair and self-balancing systems of our body, mind, and energy fields to activate and do their thing.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine they call this universal life energy Chi or Qi. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine they call it Prana. In these eastern medicine philosophies they acknowledge that there is an unseen flow of energy that runs through us, and when it is blocked… much like blocks of flow in your cardiovascular, nervous, lymphatic, or digestive systems… it interrupts our health, causing problems which we call disease.

Just like the physical body has natural systems in place to eliminate waste and toxins, to signal when it needs hydration and nutrients, to heat up or cool down as needed to function optimally, and to form a scab and new skin tissue when injured… our energy field or energy body has a natural system that self-regulates to maintain balance for optimal health and functionality.

A reiki session involves the practitioner setting intentions for universal life energy to be channeled to the recipient where it is most needed and for their highest good, and placing their hands just above the recipient’s body in their energy field, usually working from the top of the head, moving down to finish at the feet. The practitioner doesn’t “send” reiki energy to the recipient, they simply act as a channel for the recipient to draw in and receive as much energy healing as is needed.

Everyone’s experience is different, some who are sensitive to energy can feel slight tingles, or heat, or cold. Some don’t experience feeling the energy itself but experience the effect of shifts and changes in their emotions, mentality, or physical body afterwards. I’ve had experiences where it was soothing and relaxing like a gentle massage and I drifted off to sleep, and sessions where it was more intense like an emotional/energetic surgery, with memories and emotions surfacing to be remembered, felt, acknowledged, cleared, and healed.

If you happen fall asleep, that’s very normal and a good sign! It’s best when you are able to relax into a meditative state with a clear mind, in a space where you are open and trusting your energy body’s ability to receive healing.

Blue Kyanite

Crystals are my jam. I was enchanted with rocks and minerals and gemstones growing up as a kid. And in my healing journey, they became my gateway energy healing tools.

Blue Kyanite is one of the powerful amplifier crystals that balance all chakras, like Clear Quartz or Labradorite. It resonates with high frequencies of alignment, centering, & balancing, and will help with connecting to your intuition while staying grounded. It helps to restore balance, both physically and energetically. It’s calming and clarifying, cutting through fear and blockages, clearing your throat chakra in particular, encouraging you to find your center and speak your truth.

I’m using my two pieces tonight to help clear, calm, and restore the connection and balance between my heart and throat chakras which are in desperate need of some tlc.  They look like shards of blue ice, with those silver flashes that pictures just can’t do justice. But they somehow always remind me of either angel swords, or angel wings. Weapons of mass construction and healing <3

Celery Juice

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My doctor suggested I start drinking a small glass of celery juice every afternoon a few weeks back. Not being a big fan of celery in general, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and how immensely refreshing it is! Impressed and curious, I did a little research and found that celery is all kinds of good for you:

Fights cancer – celery juice contains eight different types of anticancer substances that can prevent or even heal certain types of cancer, including phytonutrients which help fight free radicals.

Lowers cholesterol – naturally reduces bad cholesterol while boosting good cholesterol.

Reduces blood pressure – compounds called pthalides aid in relaxing muscles and reducing stress hormones which cause blood vessels to constrict.

Anti-inflammatory – phytonutrients including polyacetylene reduce inflammation and help relieve rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, asthma and bronchitis.

Hydrating – celery is very alkaline and contains minerals, amino acids and vitamins that may hydrate your body twice as effectively as a glass of water.

Diuretic – potassium and sodium stimulates a natural diuretic effect that flushes toxins from the body, promoting weight loss as well as eliminating and preventing gallstones and kidney stones.

Aids digestion – celery is high in fiber and contains nutrients that aid bowl movements and work as a natural laxative to relieve constipation.

Benefits skin – antioxidants, anti-inflammatory ingredients, and alkalinity (which helps balance acid levels throughout the body) all work to promote healthy skin.

Promotes restful sleep – celery is high in magnesium which helps calm nerves promoting relaxation and restful sleep.

Back to Eden Gardening

I’ve always been a fan of the idea of having a garden, being able to pick fresh veggies and fruit right out of my backyard and getting to play in the dirt. I’m less a fan of the idea of the time and labor investment however, I just don’t have the patience and dedication for something that consuming and demanding.

Go to www.backtoedenfilm.comThen I got pregnant and my midwife happened to be the wife of Paul Gautschi who developed the Back to Eden gardening technique and created the documentary Back to Eden film. I visited their home for my appointments and saw the garden and orchard and got to take fresh food home with me once summer came. I got to hear in passing how the garden basically gardens itself, how little it needs weeding, never needs watering, how it doesn’t need tilling and the ground never grows fallow. The secret? A covering.

The story goes Paul, a lifelong farmer, one day looked around him and asked God if there was a better way. God showed him the thriving evergreens and lush forest growing behind his house even with little rainfall. Paul studied the ground in the forest and realized that the forest was able to feed and thrive from the soil because the soil was kept covered and fed from the fallen leaves and needles and brush of the forest. This covering of the soil was the key. It’s the skin that keeps the soil as a living organism healthy. Remove the skin and the soil is exposed and vulnerable to the elements, goes unfed, dries up and hardens, and if planted in becomes fallow… essentially it dies.

What Paul does for his garden is he covers the soil with wood chips. You can cover your garden with leaves, with hay, with any organic material that will breakdown and eventually turn into soil itself. This covering does many things, including soaking up rain like a sponge and regulating the soil’s water supply, keeping the soil dark and damp, and shielding it from the sun and wind. This keeps it from packing or drying up, keeping the soil loose so that plants have all the room they need and aren’t stunted or choked by hard soil.

The stunning thing to me is, God’s design of nature actually makes gardening easy. It makes it easy to grow food just about anywhere without constant watering, constant weeding, constant tending and babying seedlings, having to till and prep the soil, having to make sure you’re not draining the soil of the minerals and chemicals it needs to thrive and grow healthy plants. God’s design of nature does all that for you. It’s when we step in and interrupt this natural process that we create so much extra work for ourselves.

So you’re telling me that I can grow a veggie garden in my back yard with minimal prepping and watering and weeding, simply putting down a covering of wood chips and planting my seeds and watch nature do her thing? Yes please.

You can watch the documentary film, see Paul’s garden, and hear his story first hand here: backtoedenfilm.com

Taking notes from nature

I recently read an article on Medium called Nature: the coolest startup in the world that highlights the innovative and sustainable design of nature. What is brilliant is how she applies this design to business startups. Nature’s design is time-tested and proven, why not take notes from it?

“From a systems perspective, mother nature is a design expert and stellar model of ubiquitous innovation.”

“Every single product (flora and fauna) and service (carbon cycle, water cycle, biomes and ecosystems) creates value, so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

“The ‘goal’ is to survive and thrive, and as a result, nature focuses on excellence, not perfection; and optimization of resources and functions, not maximization.”

“[…] a monoculture such as a lawn is resource heavy and susceptible to a multitude of risks, including over-watering, under-watering, insect infestation, the family pet, too much sun and too little sun. A lawn is an ecosystem with one species of grass that requires large amounts of investment in time, resources and management, including water, fertilizer and even pesticides (which harm life). Can you imagine a rainforest being managed? Natural ecosystems need not be managed because they are diverse, resilient and self-sustaining.”

“Life creates conditions conducive to life.”

Nature's Unifying Patterns. Courtesy of the Biomimicry Institute — Biomimicry.org
Nature’s Unifying Patterns. Courtesy of the Biomimicry Institute — Biomimicry.org

My world views are largely based on the holistic concept presented here that life creates conditions conducive to life. I’ve struggled with how to talk about or explain my still-developing views on often controversial topics such as pharmaceutical drugs vs traditional medicine, vaccines, germ theory, avoiding environmental toxins and toxic products, eating non-processed food (feeding my kid whole, nutritious, non-processed food), which all become much more relevant when becoming a parent. But reading this description of nature’s design struck a chord in me.

The design and nature of life doesn’t waste, and is never counter-productive. It is diverse, resilient and self-sustaining. It’s the time-tested and proven expert of sustainability and innovation. It focuses on excellence, not perfection; and optimization of resources and functions, not maximization. This is a contrast to the underlying principles driving the pharmaceutical industry, the vaccine industry, the food industry, and the consumer industry as a whole. I’m far more inclined to trust my health and wellness to what I know of nature’s provision than to what I know of our industry-driven culture’s values and opinions.

There is so much backlash towards those who question germ theory (or vaccines, big pharma, etc.), but what if it genuinely makes less sense than the design we see in nature? Germ theory more or less states that the sole cause of disease is germs, and if we avoid germs we avoid disease. I personally don’t deny that germs cause disease. But I like to take my notes from nature rather than a lab- nature knows how to handle germs, rather than avoid them. Germs thrive on weakness, they are opportunistic in nature. Survival of the fittest is the mantra of evolution, is it not? Instead of avoiding germs by feeding our bodies harsh killing agents that further tax our bodies, why not feed our bodies natural fighting agents that both strengthen our natural defense and healing systems and help fight off harmful germs? The mentality around germ theory tends to be like looking at a grass lawn and building theories and solutions around that fragile and imbalanced ecosystem, without also considering the diverse and sustainable ecosystems of a rainforest, a jungle, a desert, a prairie. Look how beautifully and efficiently nature handles herself. In my humble opinion, if we think we can do better we are foolishly mistaken.

Pharmaceutical drugs and medicine target the elimination of germs (or symptoms) from the body, without addressing the weakness that made the body susceptible to the germs (or symptoms) in the first place, which leaves the body just as susceptible or more so to the inevitable contact with more germs (or to the underlying cause of the symptoms – mineral deficiency for example). If germs are opportunistic, it makes far more sense to build up the body’s natural defense system and remove germ-inviting opportunities, rather than spend an endless stream of resources to constantly avoid and eliminate germs from a weak germ-inviting body. This is not a sustainable, resistant, or resourceful system.

I would love to study more of the science behind these concepts I’m talking about, and I intend to. As I mentioned my opinions and views are still developing ones, and there is plenty I don’t know and could be misunderstanding. But even so; and though my views seem to go against the strongest of modern opinions; I’d much rather side with nature. I think that we as a part of nature shouldn’t have to be scientists or have a medical degree to make our own decisions about what’s healthy and sustainable for our lives, we have the evidence of nature before us and common sense to help us reason. It’s those who are out to profit from you that will tell you that you can’t know better.

Read the original article on nature’s sustainable and innovative design on Medium.com: Nature: the coolest startup in the world

Dairy-free Gluten-free banana muffins

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These are probably my favorite gluten replacements I’ve found, they consistently turn out so good! I bake them pretty regularly these days, they are easy, filling, and they’re so easy to adapt. I found these searching for banana bread recipes on WellnessMama.com (love her website, and everything there!) Here is the recipe with my own adaptations:

3 ripe bananas
5 eggs
1/2 c coconut flour
1/4 c coconut oil
1 tbsp honey or coconut sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom or nutmeg
1/4 cup of walnuts (for texture)

Blend it all together in food processor/vitamix, pour into greased muffin pans and bake at 400 for 15-18 minutes or until golden!

I’ve made them before with chocolate chips, carob chips, and blueberries! They always turn out slightly different, probably due to the variety of banana ripeness and sizes, but every time they are delicious.

Adventures in water kefir!

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Milk kefir I’ve tried a few times, and enjoyed it but would grow tired of it quickly when I’m the only one consuming it, plus it’s a lot of milk to go through on a daily basis!

Then I heard of water kefir. There are actually separate water kefir grains, but you can also convert milk kefir grains to use in water. So I tried it!

What is kefir? It’s a fermented drink (either milk or water with sugar/fruit juice) made with kefir ‘grains’, which are symbiotic cultures of yeast and bacteria. Milk kefir tastes a lot like yogurt. Though kefir is much higher in calcium, b vitamins, protein, and probiotics. Water kefir is made with sugar water and either fruit juice or dried fruit. And it’s usually carbonated from the fruit sugars, like soda. Water kefir is fun because there are endless flavor possibilities, and using different fruits adds a variety of other health benefits as well.

Kefir is a ‘live’ food, with living organisms (probiotics) that are extremely beneficial to your gut and therefore your digestive and immune systems. So it’s good for indigestion, it’s immune boosting, and just good for you in general. I’m leaning more and more about how good raw and fermented foods are and how important it is to build up your gut flora and microbiome with good bacteria. But that’s a whole other post!

Converting milk kefir grains to water
Here’s the method I followed, loosely based off of several different sets of instructions I found doing a google search.

  • rinse milk out of kefir grains
  • dissolve 1/4 cup sugar (I used coconut sugar) in 1 quart of water. I heated 1/2 cup to help dissolve the sugar, then let cool to room temperature
  • add kefir grains, cover jar with cheese cloth or coffee filter and let sit at room temperature for two days
  • drain and discard sugar water, then repeat with a new batch of sugar water 3x
  • the fourth batch is ready for the ‘second ferment’ with fruit and to be consumed

Pretty simple! Takes about a week, but pretty minimal work involved. The first batch of water kefir I made after converting them tasted a lot like yogurt, especially since I just flavored it with vanilla extract. But each batch since has lost more of the yogurt flavor, so I think it’s probably just leftover from the milk.

Making water kefir
With my converted grains, I’ve been following this regimen, again a collaboration of a few different sets of instructions I found. And my grains seem to be very happy!

  • dissolve 1/4 cup of sugar in 1 quart of water. Again, I’m using coconut sugar, and I also started out just making half a quart at a time, cause my grains were smaller.
  • First ferment: add kefir grains, let sit at room temperature covered with a cheese cloth or coffee filter for 24-48 hours. The longer you let it sit, the more sugar will get eaten by the bacteria, therefore will taste less sweet and more tart/fermented.
  • Second ferment: remove kefir grains, and add fruit juice or dried fruit of your choice. (This is actually optional, you can do the second ferment without fruit then add flavoring after, though without the fruit you lose the carbonation.) Seal the jar, then let sit at room tempurature for another 24-48 hours.
  • refrigerate before drinking, and if it’s carbonated be sure not to open until your ready to drink it, otherwise it’ll go flat.

I’ve had fun experimenting with different fermenting times, different fruits and juices and with different amounts of them. So far my favorite has been with dried apples! And I just made a very yummy batch with blueberry pomegranate juice. Apparently using raisins will make it taste like Dr Pepper, but when I tried I suppose I didn’t use enough raisins cause it didn’t taste like much. I had also let that batch ferment longer so it wasn’t and sweet and almost a little tart. Like I said, I’m experimenting!

Here’s a list of what I’ve tried so far and what I want to try next:

  • Vanilla: after first ferment don’t add fruit, refrigerate without a second ferment, and add vanilla just before drinking. Tasted like cream soda!
  • Lemon: after first ferment don’t add fruit, I let it ferment a second time, then refrigerated and added lemon juice before drinking. Tasted like a tart lemonade! *An important note about citrus juices, only add just before drinking, don’t use for fermenting! Apparently citrus does too good a job at fermenting and will develop non-tasty yeasty bits in the drink and it can get a slimy consistency.
  • Fig: my first try with fruit I added two dried figs to half a quart of kefir for the second ferment, and I wasn’t impressed. Probably could have used just one fig, or shorter ferment periods.
  • Apple: YUM. This is the first flavor I’ve done twice! Add 6-8 dried apple slices per quart for second ferment. What amazed me is the flavor was almost like carmel apple!
  • Blueberry Pomegranate: this was the first batch I tried with juice and it turned out great. Add 8oz or 1/2cup of juice per quart of kefir for second ferment. I only drank half then left the rest in the fridge another night and it got less sweet and more tart, so I just added another half cup of juice to the leftover glass and that tasted great too.
  • Raisin: apparently this tastes like Dr. Pepper, but I’ll let you know when my second batch is done. First time I tried it I only used about 1/4 cup of raisins per quart, and it didn’t taste like much at all. I’ll probably try doubling it next time!
  • Ginger: haven’t tried it yet, but supposedly makes a good ginger beer! You can use dried or crystallized ginger for the second ferment.
  • Cranberry: for cranberry soda, try adding dried cranberries for the second ferment!

The possibilities are endless. Think about fruit combinations like ginger pear, or cherries and raisins for a cherry Dr. Pepper!

I think my preferred fermentation time is to let the first ferment sit for 24 hours, then let the second fermentation sit for 48 hours. From what I can tell it maximises the sweetness, flavor, and carbonation.

A finished batch will also last several days in the fridge, though it will slowly keep fermenting. One thing to be careful of is letting a sealed jar build up too much carbonation so that it explodes! Shouldn’t happen unless you leave it sitting out way too long though.

A trick when it tastes more tart than you’d like, is like I discovered with the blueberry pomegranate juice, if you add a bit of fruit juice to the finished batch it sweetens it right up. It thins out the carbonation, but is a great fix if it fermented too long for your taste.

Just do a google search for ‘water kefir flavors’ and you’ll come up with quite a few nice lists of ideas! Cultures for Health has a lot of helpful info. I’ll probably write again when I get some actual water kefir grains to try, but for now I’m pretty impressed with my converted milk kefir grains!

Update:
The raisin kefir sure enough tastes oddly like Dr. Pepper! Still tastes like raisins, but also quite like Dr. Pepper.
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Health

There’s been a drastic change in my perspective on health lately. Much thanks to my pregnancy and midwife, and my passionate husband who works in a natural health and supplement store.

I grew up actively avoiding learning much about nutrition and how much of what kind of food I should or shouldn’t eat. A large part of it was I didn’t want to have to hold myself accountable. I didn’t want it to be a daily battle, or for it to consume my every hungry thought. I saw way too many girls constantly concerned about what they ate and never really enjoying it. I was also a ballerina and knew that was a potentially slippery slope. But I learned to pay attention to what my body needed and when it was unhappy with what I ate. And because I burned so many calories on a regular basis I could get away with more. So I largely depended on intuition and my energy levels rather than learning and counting calories.

My overall view of health was pretty vague and disconnected actually. Basically, I considered ‘healthy’ to mean ‘not sick’. And when it came to food, ‘healthy’ meant anything not full of sugar.

I remember my midwife asking me about my diet at one of my first visits, and advising me to not eat too many carrots because they were high in sugar. Carrots!!? Haha I knew right then she meant business about eating well! And it took the majority of my pregnancy to adopt a truly healthy diet of eating fresh and raw whenever possible, learning what greens had beneficial and essential minerals and nutrition, getting lots and lots of protein, and really limiting processed foods, gluten, and sugars. And I’ll tell you, I give credit to my son for motivating me to learn to eat well. Because I was well aware that everything I ate went to helping him develop, and had a direct impact on him.

At the same time as this, my husband had developed chemical allergies and was very sick. His immune system had tanked and he was vulnerable to everything. So we learned a lot about typical household chemicals and toxic chemicals in our house, furniture, food, cleaning products, personal products, and any kind of manufactured product, really. It was pretty drastic, but it gave me a good picture of environmental toxins; how our bodies adapt to handle them and what can happen when it finally gets to be too much to handle, and learning to reduce our toxic load in our home and in our bodies.

Being immersed in learning through both circumstances I really developed a strong perspective on health. Health isn’t a bandaid for the consequences of how we live. Health is our natural state, or homeostasis. And it requires maintenance, just like anything else in life worth caring for and keeping. It’s far better to live a healthy lifestyle that prevents decay and disease than to live ignorantly and seek out remedies once you start falling apart. In short, I got educated and took responsibility for my body’s health, for the sake of my own and my baby’s wellbeing.

And that’s what I really learned: health is about taking responsibility. I very purposefully ignored that responsibility growing up, until I became responsible for someone else’s life.

We are so engrained with this lifestyle that prioritizes convenience, pleasure, consumerism, and instant gratification. We want quick answers and quick fixes so we can make whatever choices we want and curb the consequences. The more I learn the more I see modern western medicine is very much shaped by this expectation and mentality.

No wonder it’s hard for people to accept the paradigm shift of a natural health philosophy thats grounded in responsibility and prevention. I included. It’s truly a lifestyle change.

But for me, once I started learning and educating myself, I’m so grateful I did, and I’d never look back. Being aware of how to best take care of myself is empowering! And I’m in awe of God’s design, how intricately complex our bodies are and what they are capable of overcoming. And I can’t wait to share more!

Raw Liver and V8

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Yes, that’s what this is, raw liver and V8 smoothie… and yes, I drank it. Every day for a week, actually. And about every other day the second week of my post partum recovery.

The concoction is an infamous recommendation of my midwife Carol Gautschi’s. I knew liver was a power food, and that if she recommended anything there is darn good reason for it, but I was pretty amazed to actually look it up and read about the power house of benefits from consuming liver. It’s truly nature’s multivitamin.

Referencing the Weston A. Price Foundation:

“So what makes liver so wonderful? Quite simply, it contains more nutrients, gram for gram, than any other food. In summary, liver provides:

  • An excellent source of high-quality protein
  • Nature’s most concentrated source of vitamin A
  • All the B vitamins in abundance, particularly vitamin B12
  • One of our best sources of folic acid
  • A highly usable form of iron
  • Trace elements such as copper, zinc and chromium; liver is our best source of copper
  • An unidentified anti-fatigue factor
  • CoQ10, a nutrient that is especially important for cardio-vascular function
  • A good source of purines, nitrogen-containing compounds that serve as precursors for DNA and RNA.”

Resources:

The Liver Files

http://wellnessmama.com/12579/organ-meats-healthy/

http://gentlebirths.net/