Category Archives: Books

Ayurvedic tips for digestive health

Annie has been a bit unwell, struggling with a sore tummy and constipation. I have been reflecting on her digestion and am seeing the connection between what she is eating and how that food is assimilating in her system. She had colic as a baby, so she started out with a weak digestive system. I have also had things like IBS in my life, Sohail too. Our family needs to be very mindful of what we eat in order to keep our system moving efficiently.
Our digestion is the most important function in the body. If we do not digest our food properly, the result is toxicity in the body, which eventually leads to health problems, like colds and flu and eventually to full blown diseases like cancer. In Ayurveda, the digestive fire is called Agni. It needs to be balanced. If it is sluggish or overactive, we do not feel well.
When we finish eating a meal, we should feel light and energised. If we have indigestion, or we feel tired and sluggish, it is a sure sign that our Agni is not working optimally. If our body is working too hard on digesting food, our mind is not clear and we cannot show up effectively in the world.
Annie and I have been experimenting with eating in the Ayurvedic way and so far, we both feel really good. I have pulled out an old post that I did in 2011, talking about simple tips to improve our digestion, from an Ayurvedic perspective. Although we have a lot of wonderful information about nutrition from a Western perspective, Ayurveda is the only system that considers our digestion. It is worth investigating a bit more, don’t you think?
Onto the old post:
I thought I would share some Ayurvedic tips for digestive health from one of my favourite books, The Path of Practice, by Maya Tiwari.
“As a general rule:
  • The main meal should be eaten at lunchtime or as an early dinner (four to five P.M.). The quantity of food ingested should be no more than two anjali (two hands cupped together).
  • The other two meals should be small, about one anjali.
  • Fruits should be eaten alone, about one hour before or after a meal, because fruits tend to ferment in the digestive tract.
  • Fruits should not be eaten with milk or other dairy products, because the acidity in the fruit curdles the milk in the stomach.
  • Sweet and sour tastes are a disharmonious combination. One counteracts the other and irritates digestion, so that the digestive fire becomes sluggish.
  • Avoid complex food combinations, especially when dairy is involved, such as tacos or lasagna; also any combination of bread, cheese and fruits.
  • Drink 1/2 cup of warm water before each meal to activate agni, the digestive fire. Avoid drinking water or other fluids with the meal. The liquid douses the digestive fire and makes the process sluggish. Taking water or fluids directly after the meal has the same counterproductive effects and promotes lethargy and weight gain.
  • Chew the meal thoroughly and joyfully to aid proper assimilation of nutrients and digestion, so that the vital tissues are well nourished, the body’s hunger is fed, and emotional cravings are satisfied.
  • Practice eating your meals in a spirit of harmony and gratitude to conserve the bodily juices for the massive task of digestion. When we attend to digestion, we attend to our health. Remember: All disease occurs as a result of poor digestion and assimilation in the body.”
Blessings to you.

Following our bliss

It is Friday night and I am home alone. Children asleep. Husband at a work function. I could spend the whole evening feeling guilty for not packing boxes the last few days. Or I could get hung up on why I have been so tired and a bit out of sorts. (Impending move, perhaps?) Or I could feel guilty for not doing my yoga homework. Or I could watch mindless sitcoms on TV. (Ok, I don’t really do that one!) Get the picture?

Instead, I will do something quite revolutionary.

I will listen to my body. I will ask.

What do you feel like doing?

My body said, “Have some toast and chocolate spread.”

So I did. And it was deliciously satisfying. Our bodies never lie to us. They tell us when to sleep. When to play. When to eat, drink and be merry. We have been taught from a young age to disregard what our bodies tell us. Do you remember that you had to wait for the bathroom break at school? You couldn’t just go when your body wanted to go? Unfortunately, that is how we have all been trained to shut off from ourselves.

We have been so shut off that we don’t even know what our bodies are telling us. And our bodies hold the secret to our bliss. Our bodies will guide us to the life of our dreams. We just need to trust. We need to stop second guessing ourselves with our minds.

Unfortunately, that is also how we have been trained. To listen to our minds. And override our bodies. We have also been trained to be constantly busy. And feel guilty for not being busy.

I call it busy guilt.

Guilt for not being productive. Guilt for not achieving a measurable target. Guilt for sitting down. Reading. Gardening. Playing. Guilt for having fun.

We are conditioned to believe that we only deserve all these things after we have worked. Really. Hard. For a long time. We believe that these things are only due to us when we retire. Or in some heavenly place when we die.

Children know that this is not true. Have you been for a walk with a toddler lately? You will be lucky to get to the end of the block. They don’t care where they are going. They are smelling the air. Looking at the fallen leaf, the caterpillar. Noticing the birds flying in the air. Laughing. Joking. Playing. 

They only start crying when we try to pull them out of their blissful state.

“Hurry up!”, we say. We have somewhere to BE. And they wonder what is wrong with right here? Right now? And they resist us. Because they know. They know what is good for them. We have forgotten. But, they know. We should listen to them.

What a gift to be a mother. To be in the presence of a little person who is still so close to the heavenly realm, they were there not long ago. They have not forgotten yet. They still know. 

We are not here to teach them. They are here to teach us.

Life is meant to be blissful. Joyful. For everyone. Not just some lucky few. All. Of. Us.

Follow your bliss. I promise it will take you to places you had never imagined.

And if you don’t know your bliss, that’s ok. It has probably been “thought” out of you. Start with your body. What does it want right now? Perhaps a toast with chocolate spread. Perhaps some alone time. Perhaps a run. Perhaps a nap.

Just listen.

Your body never lies.

Just keep following it’s requests. It will take you to heaven on earth.

Blessings to you.

(If you want to learn more about living joyfully, please read anything by Gill Edwards, I just picked up one of her books that I haven’t read in years and it is brand new to me again, full of joy and inspiration.)

How is your inner goddess doing?

Well, Advent started on Sunday.
We set up our home made Advent calendar – Mary’s walk.
We played some Christmas carols.
And we made some home made Christmas mince pies.

Quite yummy, but a bit sweet for me.
I think I will have to halve the sugar content in the filling next time.

If you are thinking of Christmas and what you could gift yourself, I have the perfect book for you.

The Inner Goddess Makeover.
By the lovely goddess, Tanishka.

You can buy it here.

I bought this book a few months ago and I am ready to start sharing my journey through this book with you.

This is not a book you sit and read in a day.
It is a process that you have to go through.

The book takes you through seven goddess archetypes.
Each goddess is represented by a chakra.
(The chakras are our seven main energy centres in our bodies)

Tanishka recommends that you take one lunar month to read each chapter.

“Since we, as women, ebb and flow with the inner tidal surges of the moon, a full lunar cycle enables us to really integrate and consciously anchor the strengths that each archetype unveils within us.”

A brief introduction to the goddesses:

Base chakra: Wild woman
Sacral chakra: Beautiful muse
Solar plexus chakra: Golden heroine
Heart chakra: Earth empress
Throat chakra: Medicine woman
Third eye chakra: Wise woman
Crown chakra: High priestess

I cannot tell you how much fun I have been having with this book.
And how much I have been growing and discovering things about myself.

I feel more real, more empowered and happier because of the work I have been doing with this book.

I will post my experiences about each goddess for you as I go along.

This month, I am embracing my inner medicine woman.
And I am wearing my Lapis Lazuli crystal all month to bring her in.

What is so wonderful about this book, other than it being really funny, is that it is giving me an appreciation for all the beautiful aspects of myself.

We, as women, are so complex. We have so much to discover about ourselves. And so much to teach others.I feel privileged to be a woman.

I will share a bit of the book for you to enjoy:

“The first step is to realize there is no such thing as the perfect woman. And of course your idea of the perfect woman is not necessarily  the same as mine. Depending on which feminine archetype is ruling you, you may aspire to be a tall leggy blonde, a perfect Mother or a career superwoman… but none of these ideals will bring happiness if they are not balanced by the other archetypes.

The very idea of a perfect woman is a myth brought about primarily by marketing consultants wanting women to compulsively purchase products in the name of self-improvement. Tell-a-vision is exactly that, a vision of the world we are told to compete with, at the risk of social suicide should we fail to comply. If this sounds like a harsh appraisal, just watch daytime TV, (targeted specifically at women) and observe your self esteem plummet like a thermometer bound for the Arctic. By 3pm, you’ll think your skin too white, your breasts too small, your wardrobe inadequate, your teeth too yellow, your thighs too soft and your hair colour too drab. Which begs the question, “So why do we buy it?”

Because we have literally been “programmed” to want to emulate the models we see on TV. Fortunately for us, a model is only a replica of a real thing. It is not the real thing. WE are the real thing, 100% unique specimens of womanhood. After all, the word “model” is a product description and you are not a product. You are a human being! (I, for one, strongly suspect we were never intended  to have skin as smooth as the plastic on Barbie’s legs or roast our stomachs golden brown like take-out chicken in the name of beauty.)

And although we may wish we had smaller thighs or tighter abs, smaller thighs alone do not a Goddess make. No, what does give certain women that special something (and I don’t mean a yeast infection) is the self-assurance of knowing they are absolutely divine exactly as they are. That is the sole purpose of this book: to enable you to see, explore and know yourself as the utterly divine creature that you truly are. So you:
A. Never doubt it again and
B. Don’t surround yourself with people who fail to acknowledge you as a fully fledged Goddess in your own right. (That said, there’s no need to convince the console operator at your local service station that you are in fact a Goddess. Just knowing this truth will suffice.)

Yes, regardless of your age or silhouette, just consciously embodying this principle from the inside out will bestow upon you a glow reserved for those proud owners of Aphrodite’s best kept beauty secret.”

Get the book here.

Blessings to you.

The Red Tent

I have just finished reading The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.
To say that I have been touched to the core is an understatement. The Red Tent is a novel about the biblical character Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter, in the Book of Genesis. It is beautifully written, detailing the lives of women so many many generations ago.
I was struck by how much we, as women, have endured over so many centuries. We have lived in a patriarchal society for so long. We have been sold by our fathers as brides and slaves, we have been beaten, humiliated, raped, tortured, burned at the stake. We carry all of the wounds of our mothers and grandmothers and our great grandmothers and all the mothers before them in our cells.
We carry it through depression, cancer, PMS, fertility issues, anger and a general disconnection from who we truly are.
 We have liberated ourselves through the feminist movement. And we have equality now. And we can do anything that any man can do.
And yet, we are still lost.
Because we have forgotten how to be
It has been beaten out of us.
By the men who no longer know how to be men.
Who carry all the wounds that we do.
We are a society, lost.
The Red Tent was a place where women would gather to menstruate.
In times long past, women would all menstruate at the time of the new moon.
So connected to nature we were.
Women would spend this time together.
Resting, telling stories, massaging each other, embracing the wonderful goddesses that they were.
They would come out of the tent revitalised and refreshed.
There was no such thing as PMS.
We now live in a society of the pill and a never ending treadmill of go go go.
But, we all sense that we there is something more.
We sense that it is time for a change.
For us to embrace ourselves again.
Do you feel the shift?
This book has started a movement.
Red tents are popping up everywhere in the world.
Women are coming together.
Healing from their ancestral wounds.
Celebrating each other.
Creating new legacies for their daughters.
A documentary about this movement is now being made.
Have a look at their website over here.
There is a lot of information and inspiration to be found.
Here is a beautiful clip from the movie to inspire you:
And a part of the book that makes me weep:
“I died but I did not leave them. Benia sat beside me, and I stayed in his eye and in his heart. For weeks and months and years, my face lived in the garden, my scent clung to the sheets. For as long as he lived, I walked with him by day and lay down with him at night.
When his eyes closed for the last time, I thought perhaps I would finally leave the world. But even then, I lingered. Shif-re sang the song I taught her and Kiya moved with my motions. Joseph thought of me when his daughter was born. Gera named her baby Dinah. Re-Mose married and told his wife about the mother who had sent him away so that he would not die by live. Re-Mose’s children bore children unto the hundredth generations. Some of them live in the land of my birth and some in the cold and windy places that Werenro described by the light of my mother’s fire.
There is no magic to immortality.
Egypt loved the lotus because it never dies. It is the same for people who are loved. Thus can something as insignificant as a name – two syllables, one high, one sweet – summon up the innumerable smiles and tears, sighs and dreams of a human life.
If you sit on the bank of a river, you see only a small part of its surface. And yet, the water before your eyes is proof of unknowable depths. My heart brims with thanks for the kindness you have shown me by sitting on the bank of this river, by visiting the echoes of my name.
Blessings on your eyes and your children. Blessings on the ground beneath you. Wherever you walk, I go with you.
Let us celebrate the goddesses that we are.
Give thanks for all the women before us.
Who have paved the way for us now.
To make a change.
For ourselves.
And our daughters and granddaughters.
I hope that something has touched you here.
I know that I feel truly inspired and grateful for who I am and what I can achieve.
Blessings to you.