I recently started a gratitude practice. Each morning, I pull out one of my beloved composition books that I purchased for only fifty cents each and I write down my "Daily Gratitudes." The inspiration for this practice came from two places.
First, I started Gabby Bernstein's May Cause Miracles book and work in September. It helped me to realize how powerful my thoughts are. I can choose to use that power for negativity of positivity.
Next, I have been following a woman on Instagram named Tammi Salas. Tammi is an amazing person and artist. She creates her own daily gratitudes and uses color and drawings to make the most amazing pieces. I'd been creeping on her posts for weeks and finally I let go of the idea that I had to make my lists look like hers. I just started writing.
Here are some pictures of my recent lists.
This morning I woke up with a headache and in the past I could've definitely gotten caught up in that story. Today, I tried a few alternative tricks, waited a bit, took some Tylenol, and made my list of daily gratitudes. This practice helps me to shift my mindset to focusing on what is good and to break free of negativity.
Loving and noticing what is good is tough for many of us because we get so busy and addicted to negative mindsets. But the real challenge is to love what's not so good, at least not on the surface or at first glance. This practice has helped me to be grateful for the challenges too.
Truth? Every "bad" thing in my life has helped me to grow. I might not love it when it's happening, but I can look back and see the gifts. I'm trying to be more open about experiencing that kind of gratitude for difficult situations as they happen, in real-time. I'm a work in progress.
How can you start your own gratitude practice? Find a notebook. The cheaper the better, in my opinion. Set aside ten minutes each morning and start your list. I challenge myself to always fill the page. Sometimes I write the same things (the morning sky makes a lot of appearances on my list, as does coffee) but I also reflect on what's going on in my life in that moment or what's on the horizon. Over time, I've noticed that the energy of gratitude stays with me throughout the day because of the seeds I've planed in the morning.
I knew this practice was working for me when I found myself not having to think about it. I just instinctively reach for the notebook each morning.
I hope you'll consider starting your own gratitude practice this fall. Namaste friends. -Karen
If you've been to one of my yoga classes, you know that I almost always end the class with a reading. A few weeks ago, I realized that I'm always hunting down a great reading and thought, "Why don't I write something myself?" This poem was born of that. You can read more about the Koshas here.
My body was my first home.
I honor my body.
My breath gives me life.
I honor my breath.
My mind can create something from nothing.
I honor my mind.
My intuition connects my mind and my heart.
I honor my intuition.
My heart allows me to feel joy and bliss.
I honor my heart.
Namaste friends. May it be of benefit.
A couple of months ago, on my 38th birthday, I started reading and working through the book May Cause Miracles, by Gabby Bernstein.
I've read Gabby's Spirit Junkie previously and I follow her on social media. I knew that a lot of her teaching is based on A Course in Miracles and I've been feeling pulled to study ACIM, so I figured this book would be a good place to start. I also love basically anything that Holly Whitaker of Hip Sobriety does and says, and MCM is one of her recommended resources.
I got started on September 24th and pulled out one of my many composition books. I am basically obsessed with having a big pile of composition books in my office that I can pull out and dedicate to any idea or project. I tried being a Moleskine journal type person but I can't pronounce it and paying that much for a journal goes against everything that my Depression-era grandmother taught me.
Something that I wasn't expecting is that MCM is set up almost like a daily reader or workbook. When I read through the introduction, Gabby explained the model for how to complete the book. I would start each week on Sunday and go for six weeks, reading one day at a time. Each day consists of a morning and an evening practice that take between five to fifteen minutes. Here's a peek at Day 42 which I completed yesterday, WOOT WOOT.
Real talk: one of the biggest things I'm working on in my life right now is learning how to not follow every idea that I get, prioritizing my goals, and finishing what I start. I am finally confronting that my idea-generation is both a blessing and a curse. On the first day of MCM, when I looked ahead at six weeks of daily activities, I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish it. I started anyway.
I forgot to do my evening activities once and I didn't feel well on another night. In the past, I would've beat myself up about that, made myself feel like crap, and quit to avoid "screwing up" again. But I'm working on those kind of behaviors so instead I just completed those missed activities the next morning. It's important to know that this book is digestible and accessible. I think that is very intentional on Gabby's part. For example, most mornings you'll take a few deep breaths, read a paragraph about the day's lesson, and then sit in silence for one minute of reflection. Yes, I said ONE MINUTE. A lot of people avoid meditation and inner work because they think they have to meditate for a ton of time. Gabby reminds us that all we need is a moment of stillness to begin this work.
Evening activities include things like writing letters, journaling, and meditations. This is my one concern with the book. It was a bit confusing and difficult to access the guided meditations which readers are told are on the MCM meditation album. I wasn't sure which meditation to do on which day and I couldn't find all of the meditations. I don't know what happened there and it's unfortunate because this is such a fantastic book and experience. That being said, the old me might've let that frustration derail me. But guess what? I can't control the access to the guided meditations, so I just dealt with it as best I could. If I couldn't find the meditation for that day, I'd do a different one or just sit in silence and breathe for five minutes. In the end, it wasn't that big of a deal and I wouldn't let it stop you from using this book.
Did MCM cause miracles in my life? Absolutely. First, it helped me to commit to and finish a 42-day practice. Second, it got me back in the habit of meditating, if only for a minute each day. I experienced a traumatic brain injury this summer that I'm still recovering from and I had fallen away from my meditation practice during that time. Starting back up at a minute was perfect for me.
The big shifts came from the core teachings in the book, built on ACIM, which helped me to see that I have been living in a fear-based existence. When I read the introduction, it hit me. Fear is my primary addiction. Gabby provides daily mantras for most days and when I found myself thinking negative or fearful thoughts, I would replace them with my mantra. I would immediately feel my heart rate slow down and a sense of peace come over me. I did a lot of work around my ego, forgiveness, and gratitude. Over the course of these seven weeks, I started a daily gratitude practice. Each morning, I write down everything that I'm grateful for in my life. Learning to love what is shifts my energy completely. Rather than focusing on what I don't have or what I want, which creates a sense of lack and surrounds me with negative energy, I am developing an abundance mindset built on the foundation of gratitude. Of course, I have a special composition book for my daily gratitudes.
Another thing I've done is to place some of my favorite mantras where I can see them, right on our bathroom mirror.
MCM definitely takes effort, work, and dedication, but for me, it's been a very humbling, inspiring, and informative experience. If you feel stuck in any area of your life and are open to shifting your mindset completely, I wholeheartedly recommend taking the first step on this journey.
I have a copy of ACIM waiting in the wings. It includes 365 days of lessons! I'm giving myself a bit of time off to consider when I'll start that journey.
Have you read May Cause Miracles or ACIM? What did you think? In what ways have they impacted your life?
Ever feel a little bit confused by the differences between meditation, savasana, yoga nidra, restorative yoga, and sleep?
You aren't alone! In today's post, I'm going to break it down so that even Joey could understand. Let's get started.
First, don't let worrying about whether you are doing any of these practices "right" stop you from enjoying them. While there are definitely differences between each of them, don't worry if they start to overlap with each other, because they will. It's okay. Keep practicing, engage in some self-study to learn more, and attend classes when possible to deepen your practice. But again, I see people applying the achievement mentality to yoga and it doesn't work that way. No gold medals are given out for savasana. Just explore and enjoy.
I thought about pulling in a lot of quotes from the world's greatest meditation experts here, people like Sharon Salzberg, Jack Kornfield, etc. Instead, I'm going to stick with my own, straightforward explanations. For me, meditation is the practice of becoming aware of my thoughts. In order to do this, I sit, close my eyes, and turn inward. Then, I watch my thoughts.
This witness mentality is what makes meditation unique. Rather than being inside of the thoughts, "What should I make for dinner? I have to fold my laundry. My foot hurts," I watch the thoughts begin and end. One visual that I like to offer students is to imagine that you are standing still, watching a leaf blow past you in the wind. You might also envision a river flowing by you or a balloon floating into the sky. The thoughts come, and then rather than attaching to them and getting carried away, we watch them leave.
Meditation is typically practiced in a seated position and savasana is practiced lying down, although some bodies need to make different choices for comfort. Many schools of thought believe that having the spine upright in meditation is a way to "power up" the energy body. Old school yogis would sit in lotus pose so that if they dozed off while meditating for hours, they wouldn't fall over. That's great for them, but I usually sit cross-legged with lots of props to support me (blanket under butt, blocks under knees).
Another difference is that when in savasana, we are practicing rest. We are allowing our bodies to just melt into the mat. In meditation, we are a bit more intentional. We want to be comfortable so that our body doesn't distract us, but rest is not our primary focus. Awareness is.
2. Savasana (corpse pose)
Savasana translates as corpse pose, although many Western teachers and students prefer rest pose, which feels a little less morbid. What this means for me is that I surrender in savasana. I don't worry about my breath or my thoughts or my body. I just let go. Your work is done. There is nothing for you to do here.
Savasana is typically practiced at the end of an asana (mat-based postures) session. However, I would encourage you to consider making savasana its very own practice. In this busy, modern world of ours, spending five-minutes in savasana each day can be very powerful.
One common question about savasana regards falling asleep. It is common for students to doze off here. Is that okay?
Of course. If you fall asleep in savasana it simply means that your body needs sleep. But sleep and savasana aren't the same thing. Savasana is about surrender. You are awake but at rest. Learning how to be awake and at rest is incredibly important for stress relief and wellness.
If you fall asleep in savasana once in a while, good news, you are a human being. If you always fall asleep in savasana, you are likely experiencing some sleep issues that you could investigate more deeply. Healthy sleep hygiene is very important.
3. Yoga nidra
Now we're really going to test Joey's brain! Enter yoga nidra. What is yoga nidra? It is yogic sleep. Cool huh?
In yoga nidra, a teacher leads his or her students through a very specific script that says things like, "Feel your left toe. Release your left toe." You are often asked in yoga nidra class to set a sankalpa, or a promise to yourself, and to call upon a deep desire that you have. It is believed that you can enter a state in between consciousness and unconsciousness where those desires can be manifested.
You know that feeling you have when you are about to fall asleep and you have weird thoughts, like your brain is just freestyling and attaching random ideas together? Some might call this dozing. You are in between awake and asleep. That's where yoga nidra takes you with the intention of keeping you there for a set amount of time. It is believed that in that middle space, your brain can do some pretty tremendous and magical things.
Scripts in yoga nidra classes are very specific and you will listen to your teacher's voice for most of the class. You can also find yoga nidra scripts online.
Yoga nidra is very similar to restorative yoga in that you will likely be in a reclined and supported position. However, in a restorative class, most of the class is held in silence with very little external stimulation. In a yoga nidra class, the teacher is speaking and guiding you through the script the entire time.
4. restorative yoga
Restorative yoga involves the practice of using props to create complete support for your body. In a restorative class, you'll typically move through only about four or five poses and you'll use bolsters, blocks, and blankets. Once in a pose, you'll stay there for about five or ten minutes, just being. This activates your relaxation response so that you can find a state of calm. Restorative yoga is wonderful for stress relief and healing.
The same concepts around savasana apply here, and savasana is absolutely a restorative pose. However, there are many restorative poses other than savasana. Legs up the wall is another example of a restorative pose.
While the focus in restorative poses is on letting go and finding that still space inside of you where you can soften and surrender, these poses also work on the body too. For example, in a restorative backbend, you are completely supported but you are also gently opening the spine.
Just as in savasana, you might doze off in a restorative class, but ideally, you will stay awake. Learning how to be awake and relaxed is very important.
Does it seem silly that I'm describing sleep? I'm not so sure. When I hear people talk about sleep, it seems like many of us have forgotten what it is. Sleep is the time when our bodies and minds recharge. Sleep restores us. Scientists are doing all sorts of interesting research about what happens when we sleep, but they seem to all agree that the brain is busy taking care of important business while we are at rest. If your sleep isn't restoring you on most nights, consider doing some research on sleep hygiene. Personally, if I don't sleep well, everything else is so much harder. I value my sleep.
In the previous four practices listed, remember that ideally you aren't falling asleep. If you doze off once in a while, no big deal. If you are consistently exhausted every time you stop running around and doing things, you're body is trying to tell you something (that it's completely exhausted) and it's time to take a look at your nighttime sleep.
Fun fact: as part of my recovery from a mild traumatic brain injury, my concussion specialist had a lot of strategies for me, but she really emphasized that a full night of sleep was the most important thing. I believe this is true for people recovering from injuries and illnesses, but also for all of us experiencing daily stress.
Still have questions? Ask away!
Thanks for reading. I hope this helped to answer some of your questions. Namaste friends, Karen
This week I'm reflecting on the work of Donna Farhi in Bringing Yoga to Life. You can read previous posts here:
Day 1: Box of Monsters
Day 2: Relationships
Day 3: Sitting Quietly
Day 4: Pandora's Box
Today is the last day of Donna Farhi week and I just want to take a moment to thank the people who've read my posts, but most of all, to thank Donna for her decades of dedication to the yoga field.
Today's quote and reflection is about dharma. I feel like I came out of the womb saying, "Universe, what's my purpose in life?" so I'm really excited to chew on this.
"How do we know whether a path or action is our dharma? Our dharma is almost always the option we choose last because it is the most challenging."
One of the things this makes me think about is the work of Sue Frederick and Dan Millman around life purpose. I've studied both of their teachings and they say very similar things: the stuff we are here to learn is going to challenge us. If it came easily on day one, we wouldn't need to learn it.
Our natural tendencies seem like the path to follow right? For example, my tendency is toward a lack of structure. When I follow my tendencies, dishes pile up and laundry goes undone. Things get messy. That's my tendency, but the thing is, I don't feel good when I follow it. It feels natural when I'm doing it but in the long-run, it doesn't serve me.
When I build structure and routines in my life, it is hard. Those things don't come naturally to me, but when I push myself a bit to keep things in order, I feel better. When my external environment is clear, it helps me feel clear inside.
Another example for me is around sleep. My tendency is to stay up too late being all weird and creative and to get up at the last possible minute in the morning after hitting snooze. But again, I don't really feel good about myself or life when I do that. Lately, I've been putting my phone on the other side of the room and waking up at 6:15 in the morning without hitting snooze. This doesn't come easily to me, but when I do it, I feel really good about myself and it starts my day on the right foot.
Our dharma is our purpose. That doesn't only apply to a career. This is so important! I work as a career intuitive coach and I'm here to tell you that finding the "right" career is a myth. Yes, there are some fields that you are much better suited to than others. But in general, you can serve your purpose in any number of different careers. What's more important is the attitude and mindset that you bring to your career. And FYI-your career won't fix you. If you have broken space inside of yourself that need to be dealt with, the only thing that will fix them is doing hard self-reflection that needs to be done. I notice more and more that people place all manner of pressure onto a career. They're miserable, and they believe it's because of their job, when really, it's because they are resisting looking inside of themselves. Careers, in short, are easy scapegoats.
Take a look at dharma from a bigger perspective. Are you taking care of yourself? Your body? Your mind? Your spirit? To me, this is the first place where we can start to live our dharma.
I just love this quote though, because it reminds me that I'm not behind schedule, you know? None of us are. We're right on time.
I'm curious how others define dharma and if this idea of arriving at your dharma last makes sense to you? It's certainly true for me.
Thanks for reading. Namaste friends. Have a great weekend.
This week I'm reflecting on the work of Donna Farhi in Bringing Yoga to Life. You can read previous posts here:
Day 1: Box of Monsters
Day 2: Relationships
Day 3: Sitting Quietly
Today's quote makes me think of the story of Pandora's Box. I think everyone knows that Pandora opens this mysterious box and all this crazy, terrible stuff comes flying out, right? But guess what I learned a few months ago. After all that stuff has left the box, there's one thing left: hope. Hope is at the bottom of the box. Funny that I'd never learned that before.
Words of wisdom from Donna:
"Unfortunately, what we want is what we most fear: we yearn for a larger life, but we're not so sure we want the consequences. Thus our little self almost always perceives the recognition of this larger Self as a threat...We may find that in opening to this larger life it is bigger and more chaotic and more filled with intensity than we'd like, and fear invoked by the possible spaciousness of such a life sends us running back to our old stomping grounds. Our very sense of separateness and feeling of being cut off may impel us to defend the life we know even if it is filled with misery. We may even feel that to open ourselves up to life is to risk self-annihilation. In truth, it is the purpose of Yoga to destroy this limited sense of self so that...we can discover the joy not only of being alive, but of letting life be who we are."
Yeah. What she said.
I know so many people who've gone down the yoga path and it sort of blew up their lives, but mostly in good ways. There are trade-offs. Once you open your eyes and start seeing things from this new mindset, you can't go back. I compare it to the scene in The Matrix when Morpheus offers Neo the red pill or the blue pill.
"You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."
When treated as a spiritual undertaking, yoga is like taking the red pill. In many ways, I feel like the last three years of my life have been a series of daily spiritual surgeries. I've faced things about myself would've been a lot easier to ignore. But as the saying goes, the truth shall set you free. I am more myself now than I have ever been, but it's hard sometimes. Sometimes I long for ignorant bliss.
Chipping away at the ego is so uncomfortable at times. The ego fights back y'all, for real. It's relentless. It's a crafty chameleon. But then I breathe. I have a practice. I close my eyes and zip my lips and listen. And then it's good, then it's worth it.
I have a few, close friends who I can talk to about this metamorphosis that we are going through, but most people don't want to talk about these things. Which is fine. Everyone has a right to be where they are on their own journey. But the blue pill can be lonely sometimes. I guess that's one of the reasons that I chose this quote to write about today. There are SO many amazing quotes in this book and I could've easily made myself crazy trying to choose five to write about this week. Instead, I really tried to trust my intuitions and instincts. This one spoke to me this morning and asked to be shared.
I've been doing daily work through Gabby Bernstein's May Cause Miracles, something I'll write about more in-depth when I complete the 42-day program. Gabby is a student of and teacher of A Course in Miracles which also addresses this process of shifting from an ego mindset to a miracle (or yogic/Self) mindset. It involves a minute-to-minute practice of choosing love over fear. It's no joke, but what's the alternative?
Thanks for reading and thank you Donna for writing and living and speaking. Last post in Donna Farhi week will be tomorrow. I hope you'll check back. Namaste friends.
This week on the blog, I'm posting quotes from Donna Farhi's Bringing Yoga to Life and reflecting upon them, because Donna is brilliant and I hope to connect you (and myself) with her beautiful ideas.
Read Monday's Post "Box of Monsters" Here
Read Tuesday's Post "Relationships" Here
I want to talk about this quote with all of you all the time. I'm obsessed with this quote. This is it. This is the work. This is yoga in the modern era.
After I first read Bringing Yoga to Life, I posed this question on Facebook: when was the last time you sat still for ten minutes without doing anything else? I expected that most people would say that it had been a while. I didn't realize how many people would say it had been years. Some said they couldn't remember the last time they'd sat still.
True confession: I used to be a savasana skipper. I went to this yoga-inspired fitness class at the local gym that included savasana at the end. I would get up and leave before it started. I had an entire story in my mind that I told myself. "I can't sit still so it's okay that I leave. I'm honoring my limitations." A friend of mine came to one of the meditations workshops that I taught last year and afterwards, she came up to me and said, "That was really great, and it's so funny, because I remember when you used to skip savasana." We laughed. I had come full circle. But first I had to drop that story. I had to learn how to sit with my discomfort about sitting.
That first yoga class that I attended where I stayed for savasana, at Liquid Bliss Yoga in Ship Bottom (Hi Catherine! Hi Ashley!) was where things changed for me. I stayed. That was probably one of the most important turning points in my life. I became willing to sit still.
I hear a lot of students tell me that they can't meditate because they don't have time, because it's too boring, or because they can't sit still. They have become human doings instead of human beings. But that's okay. That's where they are now. That's where I was. But I do believe that learning to just be ourselves with nothing else there to protect or entertain us is the first step toward health, wellness, peace, and prosperity.
If this quote of Donna's speaks to you, dig around a bit and see what comes. See if you can step outside of your story and notice it from afar. Is it true? Is it really true that you can't sit still? Is there anything about sitting still that scares you? What would happen if you tried it?
Ten minutes is a lot, I will say that. For some people who haven't sat still in years, ten minutes can feel like torture. I tell my students to start with a minute. Sit still for a minute. Then try two. Then three. Right now, I aim to sit for five minutes each day as part of my own practice. My long-term goal is to build to twenty minutes, twice a day. But remember, a few years ago I was at zero. Rather than not trying at all or quitting, I am taking the gradual approach to building a meditation practice. If silence is too much right now, try a guided meditation. You can find them online and there are also meditation CDs and podcasts. Get into the habit of closing your eyes and turning inward, led by someone else's voice. Once you get comfortable there, sitting in silence will feel a bit easier.
Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow for more Donna.
It's Donna Farhi week on the blog. All week I'll be sharing quotes from one of my favorite books about yoga, Bringing Yoga to Life: The Practice of Enlightened Living. You can view the previous posts here:
Monday: Box of Monsters
Here's today's quote:
Our spiritual fitness can be tested only in relationship to others...Every day we encounter people doing good things, people doing bad things, people we like, people we dislike, and people who are plain driving us crazy. As long as we are in the world this is unlikely to change, so how can we change our attitude to the predictable difficulty of relationships?
Last week, I pulled out my old yoga teaching journal to find a quote to share on social media. As you can see below, this journal has been well-loved. It's filled with classes that I've prepared over the past year and readings. I immediately noticed a quote from the great Donna Farhi, one of my favorite teachers.
I opened my copy of Farhi's Bringing Yoga to Life to double check the accuracy of the quote. As I paged through it, I looked at sections that I had underlined and notes that I had taken when I first read the book a few years ago. It was so interesting to see where I was at that time, a year after I'd started practicing yoga regularly and a year before I began yoga teacher training.
Farhi just nails it, time and time again. There is a lot of wisdom in the yoga scriptures and the texts that have been written about yoga over the years, but honestly, a lot of them are written from a male perspective. Farhi speaks directly to me and to my experiences living as what some would call a "househoulder" yogi.
Paging through her words, I felt inspired to share them on this blog. This week, it's our first annual Donna Farhi week! Praise! I'm going to be pulling quotes from BYTL and processing them here with you. We'll start with the brilliant "box of monsters."
The box of monsters
Truth: I've had this quote in my binder for a while but I have never read it as part of a yoga class, fearing it might be a bit too dark or troubling to drop on people during savasana. But it's true for me that we are all walking around with this darkness, this fear, guilt, shame, craziness, addiction, whatever, in some form or another. Sometimes I think that part of our problem is that we stay on the surface too much in our daily interactions, in our yoga classes, in our relationships. We deny the box of monsters but it leaks out anyway.
What does it mean to be more than human? To be more than a body? For me, those words point to the existence of our soul, the only thing we can take with us when we die. I've read and realized that when we are born, we forget. We forget that we have this immense and eternal soul. Instead, we think. We think we're human. We think we're a body. We think we're our thoughts. When we die, we remember. We remember that we're so much more. Part of what yoga means for me, and what I think Farhi is saying here, is that we can learn to remember these deeper, hidden truths here in this lifetime. What if we didn't have to wait until the afterlife to realize our soul? How might that transform our human experience?
One of the things I've been working on in myself and trying to embrace is this mantra: DENY NOTHING. I have a box of monsters. I am an active participant in the horror show. I get sad. I cry. I give up. I get pulled into the same negative emotional habits that I've been trying to shake for what feels like a lifetime. I am trying to be more honest about that in this space of social media and on my blog because it's true. I have a vision of a more honest and deep social media. I know that when I look at people's pictures and posts that it's not the whole story. You know that saying, "Everyone smiles in pictures." It's so true. I smile a lot. I have a happy life. I could curate my online presence in such a way that I only show that part of my experiences. We all could. But I think that we are cheating ourselves.
I would love to see more honesty online. It's there, but I want more. I seek out people like Glennon Doyle Melton and Holly Whitaker and Laura McKowen because they post about the agony and the ecstasy, all of which is part of the true human experience. I feel like if more people were honest about the gifts AND the struggles, that humanity would be better off. When I read something that is true and sad and dark online, I feel an immense sense of connection and relief. "You too?" I think. "Thank God I'm not the only one."
And when I post something like that, it is so scary. I feel raw and vulnerable. That inside voice comes in and says, "Don't talk about this stuff. Keep it inside. Don't show anyone. What will they think?" And in the past, I would've listened to that voice. But now I talk back to it. "What if my writing this and sharing it helps one other person to speak their truth?" And that's it, I can't argue with that.
I wish you and your box of monsters a beautiful week. Come back tomorrow for more Donna!
Food and I have a complicated relationship. I've always had a sensitive system and I've tried countless different approaches to eating to find that sweet spot of homeostasis in my body. It is definitely a work in progress.
I gave up eating red meat and pork when I was a pre-teen for emotional reasons. I have a tough time eating anything cute. I gave up gluten about six years ago and that was life-changing. Last year I gave up alcohol. So there's been a lot of positive progress.
AND...there's still something not quite right. I know this because I have psoriasis and eczema (which I literally can never spell correctly) which are both considered autoimmune conditions by the mainstream medical community, which means that "X" part of my body sort of attacks itself. That has never made sense to me and seems to go against everything we know about evolution and adaptation. Why would my body attack itself FOR NO REASON? It doesn't make any sense.
When you go to most mainstream docs for help with autoimmune ish, they prescribe drugs, lots of drugs. I hate taking Tylenol so as you can imagine, the idea of using prescriptions is very difficult for me. Because of my sensitive system, I inevitably experience any and all side effects of the medication and end up worse off than I was before.
But more than that, what bugs me about most prescriptions is that no one can explain the actual cause of the illness or issue. How can you treat something that you don't understand? Mainstream medicine will tell you that they do NOT know what causes autoimmune conditions. I'm hesitant to take a medication that you give me if you don't know what's causing the issue in the first place. There are so many people online that I'm seeing who are going through topical steroid withdrawal that I just really can't go down that road. I've tried topical steroids and they do help, but being on them for the rest of my life doesn't make sense, and from what I can tell, many people start to experience an increase of symptoms and have to use more and more of the drugs. Eeek!
When my psoriasis flared up recently (flares are a signature of autoimmune conditions), I purchased the book Healing Psoriasis by John Pagano.
The first thing that sold me on this book is that Pagano explains an actual logical theory about the cause of autoimmune disorders: a leaky gut that is releasing toxins into the blood, forcing the skin to attempt to filter out these toxins, resulting in issues like psoriasis and eczema, or a host of other autoimmune issues like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc.
I hear about so many women my age dealing with autoimmune issues lately. It's crazy. Something's got to give.
To treat psoriasis then, you heal the leaky gut with a strict diet, exercise, and complementary therapies that promote positive energy like yoga and meditation. Possible side effects include clear skin, happiness, and lifelong vitality.
So I'm about to embark on this diet. As I mentioned, my body is super sensitive so some of the recommendations in the book (multiple colonics) I'm going to pass on and choose the gentler options instead (regular doses of olive oil). But the biggest part of the regimen that seems to really help patients is to eat alkaline. The diet asks that 80% of your foods be alkaline with the remaining 20% being acidic.
Here's a list of the "Deadly Seven" that I'll be avoiding:
Since I have already given up red meat, refined sugar, smoking, alcohol, and fried foods, I'm really almost there. The big change for me will be nightshades. I probably eat tomatoes every day. Pagano says that many of his psoriatic patients LOVE tomatoes. But I'm okay with this, because if giving up tomatoes helps me feel better, I'm all for it. Fun fact: Tom Brady and Gisele don't eat nightshades either and it seems to be working for them! White potatoes are nightshades and I eat a lot of those frozen bags of fries so that will be a challenge. Sweet potatoes are allowed but in moderation.
Some of my thoughts/feels on what I need to focus on this week:
Namaste friends, Karen