Be kind. Be gentle. Pay attention. Say thank you.

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald 

Be kind. Be gentle. Pay attention. Say thank you.

While we are often encouraged to do these things for others, I’m encouraging you to do them for YOURSELF, first.

In this “get it done and make it perfect while you’re at it” world, we tend towards not speaking nicely to ourselves, not making friends with the most important person to be kind and compassionate to and not paying attention to what we need, where we are or what we are doing.

As we head in to this holiday season let’s all do our best to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of and be kind to others and truly enjoy the moments we have.

Why yes, I have been reading the writings of Pema Chodron, how did you know? For more in depth and inspiring ways to be in the world I highly recommend her books! While her trainings and teachings are from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, her wit and guidance in the ways of the every day world are spot on. A bit like a wise and funky Aunt you love to visit and whether you are curious about meditation or Buddhist practice matters not. Put the kettle on and settle in!    

Photo Credits // 1 The Positivity Blog // 2 Dheeraj Gautam

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It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

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Posted by Judy Moon

When October rolls around, it means one thing to me…Pumpkins!!

And of course the switch from a martini to a Manhattan before dinner. I’m not sure how that personal rule of mine started but so it is.

Back to pumpkins.

I LOVE pumpkins. I love the shapes, I love the colors, I love the process of picking them out, (my husband Joe is a patient man, the only thing longer and requires more patience from him is my picking out the Christmas tree), I love the cider donuts they sell at Duffields Farm, where we go for our pumpkins. I secretly want to go through the corn field maze they have there – but it’s kind of for kids and there is a part of me that doesn’t want to be the adult in there freaking out if I got lost. Not worth the stress!

They have all of the cool varieties of pumpkins and gourds like you see in Martha Stewart – the blue ones, the white ones. They just make me smile.

Another cool thing about pumpkin is that it’s a Super Food- a real nutritional super star.

Pumpkin contains:
*Alpha-carotene
*Beta-carotene
*High fiber
*Low calories
*Vitamin C and E
*Potassium
*Magnesium
*Pantothenic Acid

Check out Super Foods- Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life by Steven Pratt, M.D., and Kathy Matthews for even more fun facts about the benefits of pumpkin.

Here is a great pumpkin smoothie recipe that I make. It’s loosely based on the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Recipe from Oh She Glows.

Great Pumpkin Smoothie
(serves one)
1 c unsweetened almond milk
1Tbs flax seed
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I used canned but you can use fresh if you are that organized) *I have been known to use a little more since I like it really “pumpkiney” if that’s a word
1/2 banana
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg ( I use 9 grates of nutmeg, I like nutmeg and the number 9- that’s my logic)
1tbl molasses
1 tsp maple syrup or agave
ice if desired

Blend all ingredients in your Vitamix, Magic Bullet, Montel Williams Health Master or whatever machine you blend your shakes in and the most important part is… enjoy the flavor of fall!

Cheers!

Photo Credits // 1 Flickr // 2 Martha Stewart // 3 Oh She Glows // 4 Two Peas and Their Pod // 5 Tumblr

Yin and Yang: Fade into Autumn

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Posted by Debi Phillpotts

Here on the east coast, summer is winding down its final moments with some days resembling summer weather while others are a chilly preview of what lies ahead. Visually we see the changes occurring in our external world with the leaves changing colors and falling off trees. It makes for a beautiful backdrop mirroring what you’re most likely experiencing within your own internal landscape.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Chinese adopt the Yin and Yang philosophy along with the Five Element Theory as it’s most fundamental concept. The Five Element theory was developed centuries ago (about 500-200 BC) in The Warring States Period by Tsou Yen, founder of The School of Naturalists aka The School of Yin and Yang, which promoted the idea of living in harmony with the natural laws. In short, Yin and Yang are constant opposites striving for balance in relation to our ever-changing cycles of seasons.  Yin constantly changes into Yang and back to Yin again. One might ask how does that translate to our state of being?

Autumn is a three-month period of harvesting, reaping the fruits of the summer, a time to prepare for the protection of winter when energy reaches a state of yin (dark, dense, cold, and rest are characteristic of yin energy). This is a time when Soul and Spirit should be gathered together in order to make the breath of Autumn tranquil. As it is true in nature, it is also true within each of us, a kind of harvesting takes place in our own energies. Consolidation and strengths as well as fragmentations and weaknesses become clear. When the leaves turn vibrant colors that is the signifying point of a cycle where all things begin to conserve and store themselves inside for nourishment while externally life seems to be fading.

Autumn represents the metal element in the Five Element Theory, which tends to be a difficult transition to experience as metal gives the impression of being cold and hard, and not very nourishing. Metal provides us with strength, structure, substance and is the basis for communication. An imbalance in any one of these aspects of metal in the human body could translate as problems in structure itself and the strength within the body-mind-spirit, rigidity of the vertebral column, rheumatic pains, frozen neck or shoulder, specific kinds of headaches, spasms of throat, the esophagus, the limbs, or lack of emotional strength. With that in mind its no wonder that most of us naturally seek out therapies and certain foods and colors in order to ground ourselves during seasonal changes. So be kind to yourself, take notice and acknowledge these changes, align yourself by spending time in nature, calm the mind and spirit with conscious breaths, get more rest and schedule a “tune up” with massage or energy work so you too may enjoy the celebration of Harvest time!

Sources:
* Excerpts from The Law of the Five Elements/Dianne Connelly, Ph.D.
http://www.sacredlotus.com/theory/yinyang.cfm

Photo Credits // 1 Bodi Science // 2 Body Devine Yoga // 3 Blue Butterflies and Me

Mini Meditation Technique for Autumn

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

Autumn has arrived! I’m not sure what I love the most about this time of year. Is it the cool nights, brilliant blue skies or the riot of foliage color? Maybe it’s the glorious squash, brussel sprouts and quince that begin to show up at the farmer’s market. It all makes me happy, really!

But the one thing I truly relish at this time of year is walking beneath the changing leaves.

It’s a bit of a mini meditation for me and I invite you to try my technique. This is especially helpful after a stressful day or a quick way to ground yourself before going to work. Only takes a moment.

As you walk, keep an eye out for trees in full color. My favorites are the sweet gum (star shaped leaves that turn brilliant yellow to orange to red) and the ginko (ELECTRIC yellow!).  Step up close to the tree (say “hello” if you’d like) and close your eyes just long enough for a DEEP inhale. As you exhale, look up into the tree branches. Then look out to the area surrounding the tree. Are you immersed in the glow of that trees’ autumn extravaganza?  The world is bathed in vibrant color, just for a bit. How’s that for rose colored glasses! Sounds silly, but it boosts my mood in a flash. I hope it does the same for you.

Happy color hunting!

P.S. Let us know what your favorite “autumn color” tree turns out to be!

Photo Credits // 1 Autumn by George // 2 De Show // 3 HD Wallpaper // 4 Reformed Musings

My Love Affair with Ginger

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Posted by Alicia McCarthy

My love affair with Ginger began long ago when I discovered how wonderful it is for calming an upset stomach. Recently, my affection for this underground rhizome prompted me investigate into how effective ginger is not only as a digestive aid, but also as a means to reduce joint inflammation and nausea. During a cold or flu, ginger warms the body thereby promoting a “healthy sweat”, which is essential for detoxifying when the immune system is compromised.

When I’ve overindulged, or feel intestinal discomfort or gas, I rely heavily on ginger’s ability to relax the muscles of the GI tract. Usually, with just a few slices of the peeled root steeped in hot water, and some soothing abdominal massage, I feel relief almost immediately. Food Matters has a nice write-up on the “Terrific Benefits of Ginger”, some of my favorites include:

  1. Ginger improves the absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in the body.
  2. Reeling under joint pain? Ginger, with its anti-inflammatory properties—can bring relief. Float some ginger essential oil into your bath to help aching muscles and joints.
  3. Stir up some ginger tea to get rid of throat and nose congestion. And when there’s a nip in the air, the warming benefits of this tasty tea are even greater!

Ginger’s roots (ha ha!) began in Southeast Asia, and it is used in recipes from around the globe. It’s botanical identification is Zingiber officinale, which is thought to be taken from the Sanskrit “singbera” meaning “horn shaped”. This spicy root is essential in the sweets of the upcoming autumn season, and my favorite pumpkin pie!

Photo Credits // 1 Martha Stewart // 2 Cocoon Home // 3 Pinterest // 4 HGTV