on nature relation,
self care, well being
and becoming whole
New Class Offerings: First and Second Degree, One-Day, Reiki Certification Classes and Reiki for Selfcare
I am doing it- after hearing from several of you who want Reiki Certification training, but don't have the time for my 2-day workshops, I am now offering First and Second Degree Reiki Classes as a one-day immersion for 1-2 students. As well, I am offering, "Reiki for Self-Healing". This half-day class is for those whose goal is to become attuned to Reiki for their own self-healing. Not everyone is looking to work on others as a practitioner. This class is a gentle introduction to Reiki healing energy. You will learn about Reiki energy; become attuned to Reiki and learn hand positions to practice daily self-healing. Self-Reiki is a powerful tool for blissful relaxation, stress-reduction and sleep support. Used as a daily practice, Reiki is balancing, meditative and supports well-being on many levels. This half-day class is offered for 1-2 students.
Yesterday, I taught a Second Degree Class, with two awesome students/healers. We focused on the mental/emotional aspects of Reiki; worked on eachother, as well as learning Reiki Distance Healing. Second Degree Reiki training goes into more depth and specifics as to the chakras, the body organs, and their emotional counterparts. Further practice is offered with scanning, how to apply the symbols for personal healing, Distance Healing, and for manifesting, and even for creating your future. This knowledge enables the practitioner to address a vast array of conditions- physical, emotional, and mental for one’s self care, and for others.
Call me to schedule First or Second Degree Certification Training or to schedule a Reiki for Self-Care Class.
Many Blessings, Sari
P.S. Gift Certificates are now available. Call for more information, to gift family or friends with Reiki Sessions, Reiki Classes or Whole Health Coaching and Stress Reduction Sessions.
The holidays are upon us and the cold weather has arrived. Many of us are over-stressed and weary. We have just come through the most intense election season some have ever experienced. Holiday gatherings are scheduled and December can be a wonderful time of friends, family and warm connecting. It also may come with excess in terms of energy output; over indulgence with food and drink and often, a decrease in immune function. High stress levels are shown to contribute to daily and long-term health issues. Now is the perfect time to nourish and treat yourself with kindness, which in turn reduces stress and calms the sympathetic nervous system.
Reiki offers a bliss-filled way to melt your stress away and clear blocked energy which can result in illness. It supports deep relaxation, reduces anxiety, supports the immune system, restful sleep, increased vitality, pain relief; regulates blood pressure and helps to balance body, mind and spirit.
For the month of December, I am offering single, One-Hour Reiki sessions, for $55 (normally $65). As well, "Reiki Bliss-3" and "Reiki Bliss-6" Series, session bundled packages are available on an ongoing basis.
Gift certificates for the holidays are now available. Reiki, offers blissful, deep, healing relaxation and is a lovely offering to friends and family. Call me for details.
Happy Holidays and Many Blessings to All,
It's Thanksgiving and I am feeling grateful. In fact, I'm often feeling and voicing my gratitude. Did you know that gratitude practice is a powerful path to happiness? I also believe gratitude leads to a profound sense of trust in life. I say a blessing over my food at every meal as well as "Reiki" my food. My most recent version is this: "I take you in, as a blessing and in gratitude and allow you to come into my body and do the good work you are going to do." Five years ago I began a daily vocal practice of gratitude combined with asking for help in the places where I need it for myself or help for others, and specific situations. This practice has taken on a powerful life of its own and is a daily gift. In thinking of what I am thankful for, my gratitude practice is what stands out the most as it connects and opens me to the depth of love and healing connection with others and all creation. It allows me to see what is good in the world. In my daily practice, I feel and voice gratitude in great detail for more than it's even possible to name-my loving family; friends; the sanctuary of my home; my ability to care for my needs and others. I say gratitude for our planet; all people; the elements of earth, water, fire, air; the flowers, trees, birds, sky, animals, sea creatures, insects, reptiles, birth, breath, life, death, rushing waters; mountains, rain, snow, warm breezes; rainbows; ocean waves breaking; rushing waters; still clear pools; rocks; the soft earth between my toes. I voice gratitude for loving connection, communication, joy, gentle kisses and sweet cuddling, smiles, laughter, tears and deep emotion. And, I cry and feel my feelings. My gratitude is never-ending.
When I experience difficult people or frustrating situations, I step into my place of "grateful heart-mind". This is when I open my heart and stretch deeply as my mind speaks, "I am so grateful you are here, on the planet; you have so much to teach me."
Throughout the day, the practice takes on a life of its own; showing up in every situation, conversation and interaction. When I experience difficult people or frustrating situations, I step into my place of "grateful heart-mind". This is when I open my heart and stretch deeply as my mind speaks, "I am so grateful you are here, on the planet; you have so much to teach me." When I do this, I can breathe; my Sympathetic Nervous System calms and imagined separation dissolves; my "grateful heart-mind" guides me to connection, understanding and acceptance of what is, as I let go of judgment- no matter how challenging the person or the situation. It is a holy gift to be able to step into this place of peace and do the work that is also required to heal and repair what is broken.
I have so very much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, 2016. What comes to mind, in this moment- my son, back in the U.S. for a 3-month stretch, filling my small cottage with his shoes, skateboard, keyboard, Mandarin language books, his beautiful music and love; connection to my beautiful daughter and her loving partner-living, growing and thriving in Asia; my parents, a few miles up the road-in their ninth decade; aging with vitality and grace; the screech owl in the nest box, outside my bedroom loft; right livelihood as I continue to grow through a powerful gift of healing transformation; dear friends and some of the deepest, loving connection I have ever experienced; food in my belly; a warm safe place to sleep, live, love, meditate, pray and do my healing work; Qigong; the waterfall on the nearby trail; clean air to breathe and the clarity and vitality to treat my life as a work in progress; creating, adapting, growing, intuiting and letting go when I am called to do so.
We each play a significant role in this life; every being on the planet. I am so grateful you are here.
The Autumn chill has arrived in The Valley of The Rogue with heavy rains tempered by some days of honey-warm sunshine. The trees are shining Autumn jewels of red, orange, yellow, green and brown. Early today, I practiced Morning Medical Qigong with my Ashland Mogadao community. A few of us were barefoot in wet, cold grass. It turns out that a community of worms was invited by our warm feet and squeezed up for some morning toe Qi-cuddling. The worms were exceptionally long and fat. I know by now you may be very concerned and wondering, "What do worms have to do with a curry recipe?" It is about the connection of energy, heat and digestion. The worms rushed to the heat of our feet and to our moving bodies, as we created heat and moved energy through our Qigong forms. When our 60 minute practice was complete, I was energized, grounded (like a worm) and deeply connected to our beautiful circle. I arrived home and gave my feet a lovely, hot soak and felt a burning desire to make a large pot of warming red curry.
Now is the time to be eating deeply warming foods, especially for those of us living in cooler climates. Our body's need heat. Alex Tan , a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioner and educator, states it very well in this description taken from his piece about cooked vs. raw food-"The Chinese believe the catalyst for digestive transformation is heat and warmth. We are indeed warm-blooded creatures and optimal digestion occurs at a slightly higher temperature than body temperature 36.7°C. For this reason, most of the people, most of the time should eat mostly cooked and warming foods. This is also partly due to ‘civilized life’ where we do far less physical activity and more mental processing than our body was designed for – the energy is in our head rather than our digestive organs – the fire rises upwards, rather than staying down below where it should be fueling the furnace under the pot, down in the kidneys. If excessive amounts of cold or raw foods are eaten, the body has to waste valuable energy raising the temperature of the food to allow the digestive processes to work. Prolonged or excessive use of chilled or raw food weakens the ‘digestive fire’. In the West, nutritional information (about protein, fat, minerals, vitamins etc) is obtained in a laboratory by analyzing foods, separating them into their basic ingredients in a test tube, before they enter the body. In the East, food is described as acting on the body in a certain way (warming, cooling, salty, sour etc), by observing the energetic action inside the human body and the behavior of the body after a food has been consumed. The Chinese way of seeing the process of digestion is seen not so much in terms of gross revenue (raw nutrients) but much more about net profit (Qi and Blood)."
Feeling the chill of the morning, I was reminded of the solid nutritional advice from my acupuncturist, to eat warming foods as much as possible in cold weather. I needed to answer the call to make a big, steaming pot of warming curry and stoke my digestive fire. This curry is absolutely delightful and leaves one with a warm after-glow.
Warming Coconut Shitake, Red Chicken Curry
2 cups fresh shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 large Yukon gold potato, sliced into small chunks
1 large carrot, sliced
1 # fresh green beans- cut into pieces
1 large red pepper- small pieces
2 heaping tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup fresh Thai basil leaves (Use any fresh basil if you don't have Thai basil)
2 tablespoons Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste (more curry paste as desired)
2 Cans Coconut Milk (full fat)
2 Organic boneless chicken breasts- halved length-wise and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons Coconut Sugar - or to taste
Himalayan Sea Salt to taste
2 1/2 cups filtered water
Cooked Rice or Rice Stick Noodles- optional
In a large pot add shitake slices and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes while prepping the remaining veggies.
Next, add potato chunks to the pot as soon as they are cut, in order to cook well.
Add the coconut milk, ginger, basil and curry paste about 20 minutes from when water first came to a boil. Blend in the curry paste well with a fork or a small whisk. Continue simmering on low heat. When potatoes and shiitakes are nice and tender, add the carrots green beans, red pepper pieces and coconut sugar. When all veggies are tender and still colorful (do not overcook), add the sliced chicken and stir while simmering. The chicken will cook very fast. Once chicken is fully cooked, but still tender, salt to taste.
Serve either as a soup or with hot rice or rice stick noodles.
Serve steamy and hot in a bowls- slurp it up with a soup spoon in one hand and chop sticks in the other.
Makes 6 servings
How does one stay healthy and balanced during extended travel over several time zones?
I am on day 11 of three weeks of travel in Asia, visiting my two children between their homes in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Below is a look at Travel Wellness based on The Five Aspects of Health- Physical, Nutritional, Emotional, Environmental and Spiritual. Keep in mind that all five aspects overlap as each affects the other.
Physical well being begins a few days before travel. Are you getting good sleep as you prepare for your journey? It can be quite helpful to book itinerary that allows you to rise at your usual wake-up time. Early morning flights are a double-whammy to sleep rhythm, added on to the not sleeping on overseas flights and jet-lag. Bring a good inflatable neck pillow, ear plugs, eye mask and wear comfortable loose clothing to assist with sleep and comfort during the flight. If you are flying Coach, you will be confined to an extremely tight space, potentially for up to 15 hours at a time, or more, with little opportunity to move. To arrive at your destination feeling whole, spend as much time as you can walking and stretching in the aisles and areas of the flight cabin. Yoga poses such as front, back and side lunges are very helpful. While sitting, use a small pillow for low-back support and circle your ankles every hour or so to help leg circulation. Ankle circles are extremely helpful in preventing blood clots which people are susceptible to on long flights.
Reiki is an awesome tool to have during travel. Your hands become a gift as you simply place them on any part of your body and fall into a state of deep relaxation. I have found for flying, Reiki allows me to drop into a place of deep rest and sleep, making the hours of flight quickly pass. Each night, Reiki drops me into deep sleep and has been an awesome healing tool to nurse my legs and feet after walking many miles each day.
If you want to eat well or have specific dietary needs, make sure you bring a good amount of nutritious snacks for the journey- enough to last the trip, depending on what is available at your destination. Bring your own food for flight meals or pre-order a special meal if you have specific requirements.
Flying can be a good time to fast if the food you are offered looks pathetically processed and sugared. The flight offerings of high fructose corn syrup, sugary drinks and alcohol can be quite depleting. Alcohol is extremely dehydrating and the sugary drinks are inflammatory, potentially leading to lowered immunity, affecting your ability to fend off the recycled bugs and germs floating through the airplane. Water is an essential key for staying balanced- drink lots of it on the flight and throughout your entire journey. In many destinations be sure to drink bottled water only, even when brushing your teeth. Dehydration can contribute to exhaustion, headache, illness and inflammation.
When passing through several time zones, it is extremely helpful to take 1 mg. of melatonin when ready to sleep on the plane. Following up with a melatonin each night before bed for the first 2-3 nights after arrival, can help re-set your sleep clock and lessen the effects of jet-lag. Throughout the flight, use a good herbal throat spray, such as Gaia Herbs Goldenseal Propolis or Herb Pharm Soothing Throat Spray; Xlear, Xylitol Nasal Spray or Ocean Nasal Spray. Dosing up with some extra vitamin D-3 and whole foods vitamin C can assist with immune support. A strong daily probiotic is essential for gut and immune support. N.A.C., N-Acetyl Cysteine, is a great anti-oxidant which boosts the immune system, helps detox the liver and works as a powerful mucolytic. I take it every day, whether at home or traveling. I always prepare for emergencies when traveling as I have experienced the painful results of picking up bad bacteria in third world countries. Activated Charcoal and Zeolite clay is always in my emergency kit in case of food poisoning. Food poisoning can often be prevented by either preparing your own food or making sure you only buy food from restaurants and vendors who have clean cooking facilities and bathrooms with running water and soap.
When at home, we have a daily rhythm and routines. Traveling throws us into another reality and each day is uniquely filled with new adventures. Though many of us travel to get out of our daily routines and step into the excitement of the unknown, it can take some initial adjustment. While transitioning, it is important to be gentle with yourself, especially while still settling in and getting through the jet lag. If you you feel emotionally overwhelmed, take the time to step back and rest, nap and not push too hard. This is the time to allow yourself to be present and accept what is. Be prepared for bugs, dirt, snakes, giant cockroaches and bathrooms that are not up to Western standards. (And teeny little ants in your bed). In Taiwan, everyone carries toilet paper with them at all times. Most restaurants offer no napkins or some the texture and size of one square of toilet paper. It becomes quite noticeable while splattering hot broth and noodles all over your face. This is the time to simply notice, breathe, be and let go of any should's, expectations and consumption habits. This is why we travel- to step into a new reality and experience how others live.
Each destination is unique regarding environment. Some choose to travel in luxury while others choose to live like locals or find a balance between the two. While in Hong Kong I sweltered in high heat and humidity with frequent exposures to frigid air conditioning on ferries and inside buildings. Sleeping with an air conditioner unit blowing, called for constant adjustment of temperature all night long to get it just right. Mosquitoes have been ever-present in Hong Kong and Taiwan. I have been treating the bites with lavender essential oil. Living in Oregon, I barely am exposed to smoking. In Asia, it is constant on village and city streets. This afternoon my son showed me around Kaohsiung, Taiwan on his motor scooter. He usually wears a face mask for the exhaust fumes but forgot the masks. We rode through packs of scooters and the exhaust fumes were intense. There are numerous aspects of the environment that affect our health when traveling and all can contribute to a lack of balance and potential illness. Other aspects of the environment can be staying in very small spaces with no privacy, difficult lighting, or unexpected construction noise. Today was my first day in Taiwan and I awoke to torrential rains that were bordering on typhoon conditions. Instead of traveling to a river, I stayed in and wrote this blog. By afternoon, the rain had stopped and there was time for local exploring. When we travel, our biggest tools in dealing with the environment are flexibility and good problem-solving skills. And, sunscreen, effective bug repellent, anti-itch salve, ear plugs, face masks, rain ponchos are just a few of the tools we can use to help. Environmental conditions bring us great experiences and learning- all an essential part of the travel experience.
In the realm of spirituality, I always come back to the practice of gratitude. At, home I meditate daily. In the past 11 days, I have had the time and space to meditate twice and I am grateful for that. What I have been able to do is offer gratitude throughout each day for all that has come to me. This practice began the moment I was dropped off at the airport and hugged and thanked my parents for getting me there, and continued as I said a prayer of thanks for each safe take-off and landing; for my bag arriving in Hong Kong; for a day of low humidity; for holding my daughter and son in my arms and feeling their love; for the rain coming in Hong Kong to break a heat wave; for the rain stopping today, and for safely making it through the crowded crazy streets of Kaohsiung on the back of my son's motorbike. When there is gratitude, there is no room for complaint and one is presented with a beautiful invitation to rest in the present moment.
Many Blessings on your way, Dear Traveler's, Sari
I spent the past two days with a beautiful group of women who participated in my First Degree, Holy Fire Reiki Class. What a gift and honor it was, to connect with and teach this wonderful bunch who were drawn to Reiki; showing up with a deep longing to heal, learn and receive the First Degree attunement. "Attunement" is the miraculous process that tuned each student to the "Reiki Energy Channel"- just like tuning a radio to the right frequency. You dial it in just right and Reiki flows.
Students arrived on day one with some sense of Reiki and much curiosity. The day was filled with ritual, meditation, guided imagery, journaling, sharing and teachings about energy; the human energy field and the history of Reiki. By mid-afternoon, everyone was fully attuned; practicing with partners and initially awestruck by the heat, sparks and the powerful energy flowing from their remarkable healing hands. By the end of day two, students were practicing the Usui method of "Byosem"- scanning for disturbed fields; balancing chakras and giving and receiving deeply therapeutic Reiki sessions, as if they had been doing so for years.
So much gratitude to you, my dear students and to my beloved Reiki Masters.
Many Blessings, Sari
The Jewish holiday of Passover began Friday evening on the Scorpio Full Moon. Passover commemorates the Jewish people fleeing Egypt after 400 years of slavery, led by Moses. Each year, the story of this journey is re-told during the Seder. Mitzrayim is the Hebrew word for Egypt. It means, "narrow" or "constriction." The point of re-telling this story in present times is to remember the history, but more importantly, to look at the present and understand our own personal or societal places of "constriction." During a community Seder last evening, I was given the opportunity to share a personal, "Leaving Egypt" story.
My story was of a deeply personal awakening and transformation, which has affected every aspect of my life- physical, emotional, nutritional, environmental and spiritual. To gain vibrant, balanced health, occasionally, some must go through what appears to be a system in shock, which can look like someone pressed the "self-destruct" button. This powerful energy is referred to by some, as "Kunadlini." The gift in this kind of transformation comes when one is able to step outside of self long enough to understand the essence of what is taking place- disintegration, evolution and reintegration, so powerful, that it can look and feel like all hell breaking loose. It is the power of universal life-force energy, opening an opportunity for re-balance and wholeness.
My journey from Egypt began close to three years ago when I suddenly developed vertigo. It came randomly at first; then I noticed it was connected to light, noise, crowds and certain foods- actually most foods.
I worked hard to stay standing; saw healers of every bent; got diagnoses and got worse. Six months into the vertigo attacks, after missing much work and barely able to hold myself together around people, bright lights and noise, I met a healer, teacher-guide, who helped me find my way.
I discovered I was not falling apart- well, actually, I was- in the best way. I was experiencing a massive transformation, bigger than anything I'd ever known. Once aware of the process, I understood that sometimes our Egypt (enslavement) is right in front of our noses though we have no idea. It took my body to collapse, for me to understand that I had strayed far from my life's path; from my true self. With this realization, I understood clearly that my symptoms were not illness- they were the manifestations of my body, heart, mind and soul returning to balance; bringing me home to myself; my whole self; my higher self; my true self.
With this realization, something opened and I knew what to do. I noticed I was hearing a new voice. It was very familiar. I recognized my inner voice for the first time. It was so very simple; to listen within; that was my work. Once I understood this, I was on my path; crossing the Red Sea, out of Egypt. My inner voice kept me going; kept me pushing through the internal and external breakdown; the disintegration of all that was keeping me enslaved.
I could no longer work at what I had thought was a great job; I could barely leave my home or be with people, around noise, near artificial light, and my adrenal glands were minimally functioning. So, I let go; I let go. I stopped fighting and learned to breathe, feel the quiet and love the solitude. Sometimes I hated the solitude. I let go of every should I ever felt in my life and saw the real me, for the first time.
Through all the disintegration, I pushed myself to re-tool and follow the strong inner voice that told me I was a healer and my work was to teach and to heal- myself and others. I connected with Reiki Master teachers and I followed and I learned from them; becoming a Reiki Master- Energy Healer and teacher. During this period, I completed a 15-month program to add on to my previous degrees in health education, becoming a Whole Health Educator, Coach and Patient Health Advocate. When I began the program, I could barely look at a computer screen or even have lights on in my home at night.
I pushed. I became a master of harnessing my will and my strength. Each day I said to myself, "Everyday you're getting better", "You're getting better every day." With each vertigo attack I told myself, "I'm fine", "I'm fine", "I'm safe." And soon, I got to the place where within moments I could stop a vertigo attack with my words and thoughts. I discovered the power of Mind-Body Medicine. I loved and blessed my food with, "I take you in, as a blessing and in gratitude and allow you to come in to my body and do the good works you are going to do." And, with more time, listening to my inner voice and harnessing my mental strength, the vertigo vanished, the light sensitivity decreased and many of the food sensitivities left- day by day.
I have lived in fear of depleting my savings or losing my home and each day, I am given a powerful lesson in trusting in God. Like Moses, I have been called to listen in and follow the simple directions; to trust in the face of fear; to trust more; to pray and to offer gratitude each day for all that flows into my life.
I am extremely grateful for the following- exponential inner and outer growth; my family near and far; my strong will; the sanctuary of my home; deep friendships and connection; for those who remembered me when I was at my worst, and for Reiki, which feeds my body, mind, soul and spirit. I'm grateful that following 15 months of intense effort, I completed my degree as a Certified Whole Health Educator. I'm grateful for mother nature which nourishes me daily; for meditation, mantra, and Snake Qigong. I'm grateful for Docs Pro Plugs and Irlen Spectral Lenses. I am grateful to once again tolerate and enjoy essential foods, especially dark chocolate. Most of all, I am grateful for the deep knowing, that our greatest gifts come from our biggest challenges.
The slavery of Egypt- Mitzrayim, saved my life and launched my journey towards awakening, rebirth and wholeness.
I am so grateful.
Many Blessings, Sari
Nature-connection has a powerful effect on our physical, emotional and spiritual health. Wellness is not only about clean air, water, exercise and good food; it is also about feeling, seeing, appreciating and deeply connecting with ourselves, others and the beings and gifts of the natural world. We all share the same mother- Earth.
There are many ways to stay balanced and healthy. It's not only about nutrition and food or moving your physical body. The physical, emotional, nutritional, spiritual and environmental aspects of your life create your big health picture. In the frenetic activity of life, we often miss what is taking place daily in front of our eyes. Nature-connection has a powerful effect on our physical, emotional and spiritual health. Wellness is not only about clean air, water, exercise and good food; it is also about feeling, seeing, appreciating and deeply connecting with ourselves, others and the beings and gifts of the natural world. We all share the same mother- Earth.
I was given guidance a month ago to "Look up and pay attention to the birds." It was advice that made me grateful for the abundance of the diverse life I am surrounded by. The day after receiving this directive, I was taking a walk with my sister on a warm, spring evening. As we passed a spectacular blossoming, ornamental plum tree, we both looked up to see a brilliant gold finch sharing a branch with a ruby-throat-ed, emerald-green hummingbird. Both birds were glistening in the evening sun.
Two days later a powerful rain storm rolled in and I was warm and cozy in my little cottage. I am blessed with vaulted ceilings and high windows that lend themselves to looking up and out. I took a moment to stand at the high window in my loft. The rain was blowing horizontal. I looked out and up. On the wire extending past the front of my cottage, were two Crows. One was quite a bit larger than the other. The large Crow had it's right wing spread open, covering the smaller bird, protecting it from the heavy downpour. It warmed my heart to see such love and caring in the bird community.
I've been looking up for almost a month now. When I practice Snake Qigong by the creek, the meadow Crows come to watch from high in the trees. When I do, "Flying Snake", with my arms flapping slow and smooth, the Crows squawk at me. Sometimes I hear them asking why I keep flapping without taking flight.
Looking down is something else I've been doing. Specifically out my bedroom window to the nesting box below. Two Starlings moved in last June, as soon as three owletts fledged the box with their parents. One of the owls returned last October, at 5 a.m., on my birthday. She slept in the nest box for the day and I watched her pop out at dusk take flight over the meadow. She didn't return and the Starlings reclaimed their home the next day.
I've never been attracted to Starlings, but I have learned to love their hauntingly beautiful singing. The Starling pair hatched some babies a week ago and I've been listening to the hungry little chirps as mama and papa alternate with the constant early morning feedings. I quietly look down, out my window to peek at the Starlings and observe their morning life.
I felt a lump in my stomach, knowing the baby birds did not survive the night. At the same moment, I felt the hope of more new life in the box- a clutch of little Screech Owls. I simply noticed and felt the rhythm of life and death and life.
Last night was very warm and I slept with my window open, nestled next to my tiny stuffed animal owl, tucked close to my belly. Just as I turned out my light, I heard an owl hoot. My heart fluttered with excitement at the thought that an owl, my spirit totem animal, was close. At some point after dropping into a deep sleep, I was roused by thumping and the sound of loud bird tweets and squawks. In my dream-state, I knew the owl had taken over the nest box. About 6 a.m. I awakened to the sounds of Crows, Blue Jays and Starlings. I knew immediately that an owl had moved into the box and was settling in for its day-long sleep. All morning the distressed Starlings hopped about chirping on the branches of the oak tree that reach out toward the nest box. I felt a lump in my stomach, knowing the baby birds did not survive the night. At the same moment, I felt the hope of more new life in the box- a clutch of little screech owls. I simply noticed and felt the rhythm of life and death and life.
This evening I heard the Starlings tweeting and chirping, just before sunset and then they were gone. I kept making trips outside to see if the owl was awake and peeking out of the nest box. First there was nothing to see and I entertained a moment of doubt. Had I actually heard the drama and trauma in the nest box during the night? I waited and returned as it became a little darker. I looked up, and there was the face of a little Western Screech Owl, flush with the small opening in the nest box. I stood below and spoke to her. She eventually relaxed and popped her breast through the small opening in the box, preparing to swoop across the meadow, to her new hunting grounds.
This past month has been a powerful time to step outside of myself and the multitude of places where I tend to get stuck or lost in my work, making future plans or dealing with daily stresses. Looking up and seeing the abundance of awesome life in my environment has offered me a potent sense of balance and joy.
The Owl arrived on the New Moon; the darkest night of the month. Owl comes to teach about wisdom, strength and the ability to see through the darkest of nights. Owl, protector and seer in the night. Look up.
What if an incredibly simple practice involving acupressure, movement and breathing could balance mental function, reduce stress, increase intelligence and provide psychological stability? Some doctors and School Occupational Therapists are testing out Super Brain Yoga and getting awesome results.
For several years I worked with developmentally disabled and emotionally disturbed school children, in the field of Occupational Therapy. I've applied therapies which help balance the neurological system, such as Brain Gym, Sensory Integration, which is now called, "Sensory Processing Disorder" and The H.A.N.D.L.E. Method . Super Brain Yoga appears to offer a simple, awesome way to integrate the body's neurological and energy chakra system, helping to balance many levels of mental function.
This video link describing and demonstrating "Super Brain Yoga" is fascinating. The "The Super Brain Yoga" website includes details of what forms the basis of Super Brain Yoga, as well as in depth explanation of the workings of the human energy body and chakra system. Super Brain Yoga combines a specific acupressure technique, with breathing and movement and is based on the connection between the ears, the head and the body. Healers, teachers, parents, therapists and healthcare practitioners may find this this simple, yet what looks to be a powerful practice, worth trying.
The nutritional aspect of health plays an integral role in our physical and emotional health. New research is confirming the relationship between what we eat and the health of our Mind-Body. An essential piece of this connection is the relationship between gut microbes and almost every chronic disease humans are dealing with. In recent years, the results from several studies demonstrate the connection between good gut bacteria and improved immune function and decreased anxiety and depression. The gut-brain connection is showing up as an essential piece of our big picture of health.
A recent study done by William and Mary College Psychology Professors, Matthew Hilimire and Catherine Forestell and University of Maryland School of Social Work Assistant Professor, Jordan DeVylder, investigated the connection between fermented foods, which contain probiotics, and social anxiety. The results demonstrated that young adults who eat more fermented foods have fewer social anxiety symptoms. They found the strongest effect was among those subjects who had a genetic predisposition for social anxiety disorder as measured by neuroticism. The journal Psychiatry Research published the study in August 2015.
The above study is exciting as it looks at not only using isolated probiotics, but at the use of naturally fermented foods. Fermented foods, such as kefir, yogurt, tempeh and miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, sourdoughs and traditional bean dishes such as acaraje, and so many more. Fermented foods have been part of the human diet for centuries, though lost to many during the 20th Century with the introduction of refrigeration and processed foods. This is a cutting edge study regarding the mind-body connection, since previously, similar research was limited to the fields of microbiology and alternative medicine. Validating the mind-body connection through research in the area of psychology, has potential to bring the relationship between nutrition and mental health out of the closet and to the general population, which is grasping for the missing links to their chronic health issues. According to Matthew Hilimire, the above study is the first in a series planned to continue exploring the mind-gut connection. One area of planned research will include further examination of the original study data, to see if a correlation exists between fermented food consumption and autism symptoms.
What can you do on a daily basis to up the good bacteria in your gut? Fermentation is a creative, fun and delicious way to establish healthy gut bacteria.
There are some awesome fermentation educators who are sharing this long, lost art through wonderful books, blogs and workshops. My favorite book is, The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. My son bought me the book a few years back and it is one of the best gifts I've ever received. Summer Bock, founder of OlyKraut in Olympia, WA. is a passionate fermentation educator. I participated in a 2-day fermentation workshop Summer taught four years ago, at The annual Breitenbush Herbal Conference at Breitenbush Hot Springs. I learned from Summer how to make amazingly delicious kraut and garlic dill pickles. Surf the web, find a book store or check out local classes on fermentation. Many cities now have their own fermented kraut businesses.
Yummy Happy Tummy Ginger-Garlic Kraut
Ingredients and Tools
1 large, dense cabbage or 2 smaller dense cabbages. (about 5 pounds)
1 large bulb garlic- mince all the cloves
2 large roots of fresh ginger- peeled and grated
Himalayan Sea Salt (about 2 teaspoons)
Fat, flat-ended wood rolling pin- the end of this should fit into a wide-mouthed canning jar with ease.
Wash, core and remove any outer funky cabbage leaves. Set aside a nice leaf to use in packing process. Slice cabbage into quarters or smaller. Next, slice cabbage thin as for a slaw.
In a large bowl, combine cabbage, grated ginger, minced garlic. Gradually add salt and stop when it tastes great to you. In her class, Summer Bock described this step by saying, "It's so good that you just can't eat one bite, you need to keep tasting and eating it (like potato chips)."
Next, massage the cabbage mixture with your hands until it begins to soften and break down and its mass reduces. When you have massaged it until soft and broken-down, you pack the kraut.
Cabbage varies in size. A very large cabbage usually fills a 3 liter jar plus an extra pint or a quart jar. A couple of medium size cabbages fill my 3 liter jar. Be prepared with a variety of jar sizes before you begin to pack the kraut.
Pack the kraut into either one large wide-mouthed 3 liter glass jar or into two wide-mouthed quart jars. Or, adjust jar size as needed, based on how much kraut you have. I love my Le Parfait 3 liter glass canning jar, with its detachable glass lid and it seems like the perfect size for a batch of kraut.
Begin scooping kraut with a half cup measure into jar. After about 3 scoops of kraut, pack it down with your flat-ended rolling pin. Continue this process until you are about a 1/2 inch from the top of the jar. Make sure you are firmly pressing/pounding as needed to compact the kraut and remove air pockets inside the jar. When jar is fully packed and you press down with the rolling pin, you will notice liquid seeping to the top. That is good. Next, take the cabbage leaf you set aside earlier and cut it into circular pieces, a littler larger than the diameter of the mouth of jar. Place the cabbage on top to cover the diameter of jar opening and create a seal. Press it down over the packed cabbage and place the lid onto jar.
Place sealed jar(s) of kraut into a container with sides to prevent any messy leakage. Cover the jar(s) with a clean dish towel. Open and check the kraut in one week. You may notice bubbling or that the jar has leaked. That is fine. If there is any sign of mold on top of the kraut, do not panic. Scrape it off with a spoon and close jar, placing it back in pantry. In the summertime, I often put the jar in the fridge after 2-3 weeks. In the winter when my home is cooler, I let the kraut ferment for about 3 -4 weeks before refrigerating it. Check jars each week until refrigerated. In tropical climates, you may need to refrigerate the kraut within a week of making it. Kraut continues fermenting in the fridge.
I enjoy my kraut every day, whether it's my morning forkful of probiotic yum, topping my lunch salad or as a condiment to any meal.
Many Blessings, Sari