Emotionally Constipated?

We eat every day. A part of the food nourishes us and the rest (the waste) is thrown out of our body each morning through different channels of elimination. The smoother and more regular the elimination, the cleaner we are from inside. Needless to say, unless you are eating super clean, lots of natural fibre and water rich food, plus the elimination channels are allowed an opportunity to work efficiently, the waste may get stuck inside, and you get constipated! If this is happening regularly, then every once in a while, you need – a detox, else it could lead to more serious health issues. 

What about our thoughts and emotions?

Experts estimate that the mind thinks a mind boggling 60,00080,000 thoughts a day. That’s an average of 2500 – 3,300 thoughts per hour! Add to this, the constant stimulation from the internet and social media and you gotta whole lot of emotional junk that needs a clean passage out, else it’s going to build up inside.

how can thoughts build up inside you’d ask? They are just.. thoughts. Do they really need space?

Signs that you need an emotional detox. 

Well, Have you ever felt your head being so full of thoughts, that you are going round and round, stuck on certain thoughts, unable to think straight any more?

Or have you woken up one morning feeling like just shutting yourself out of everything, and doing nothing at all, not talking, not wanting to deal with anything? 

Or, at some point have you felt so self absorbed, that everything that is happening around you seems to not have any emotional reaction, you’re emotionally numb? 

For lack of a better word – this is what emotional constipation could feel like.

This stuff is serious. If not addressed, it will take a toll on your physical health. It’ll start with your energy is sapped, your gut going out of whack, immune system packing up so you’ll find yourself falling sick more often.  Most of all you’ll find your creativity and motivation plummet. But this is really just the tip of the iceberg. All ancient medicine systems agree that the all diseases begin in the mind. Any cancer survivor will tell you, that the real battle they fought was of the mind, of some deeply rooted negative emotion they had to uproot to finally heal.  

So what can you do to ensure you do not reach this stage? Just like we’ll poop well if we eat well every day, its best to address our mental ‘shit’ on a daily basis, that keep it clear and moving.  Here are my top tried and tested techniques that just you have to try :- 

  1. Deep breathing. My yoga Guru B.K.S. Iyengar said ‘ The breath is the master of the mind.’ Yes. Our very own breath, is the easiest tool we have to gain back control of and clarity of mind.

Try this little experiment. Sit down in a quiet space with your back erect. Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Observe your breath as it goes in through your nostrils and fills up your lungs and the warm moist breath that exits. Allow yourself to slow down your breathing. Do this for anything between 2 – 10 minutes (depending on how much time you have). See how you feel once you are done.

Do this 4 -5 times daily And honestly, you can do it anywhere, even in your office stairway landing. Great way to stop our thoughts and leash the racing mind.

If you’re practicing Yoga and pranayama a few times  week, that is even better!

2. Silent Nature Feasting. If you can set aside 30 minutes in a day to keep your gadgets away and tune in to nature in silence, it just works wonders. You can close your eyes and listen to the sounds of birds, the  rustle of the wind in the trees, the sea waves and let any thoughts freely come and go.

Or you could just watch the greenery from your window, tend to some potted plants in your balcony, watch the sun go down, watch the waves continuously wash up the shore, whatever it is that will fully engage you in that moment.

Nature is so therapeutic. And so is silence. Together they are healing.

3. Daily Spiritual practice. Someone once said, ‘We are spiritual beings having a human experience.’  (whether we believe it or not). A solid philosophical basis can ground us. It can help us go inwards, give clarity and keep our spirit free and light. It can bring us in touch with gratitude, forgiveness and a let go of resentment or disappointment, accept life situations with grace and these are some of the underlying emotions that make it sticky inside.

4. Weekly Digital Detox. Get off your phone, tablet, laptop for a whole 24 hours, once a week. If not 24, start with 12 hours. you’ll be refreshed and renewed, as good as new!

5. Morning pages. Now is is what I call a daily mental dump. If you’re really constipated, try this method, that i know a lot of people swear by!

Set an alarm to wake up 45 minutes earlier than your usual wake up time in the morning. Keep 3 blank sheets and a pen next to your bed side. keep anything else you might need when you wake up in the morning (eg. water).

As soon as your alarm goes off in the morning, you get up and in your half sleepy state, start writing your thoughts on the sheet. Write whatever comes to your mind. The thoughts do not have to make sense. they do not have to connect. They can be broken or complete. Just keep writing till you’re done with the 3 pages. Do this every day for a couple of weeks and see how you are feeling.

I’d love to hear back from you if you tried any of this and it worked. Or is there anything else that you tired that worked for you? I’d love to know and try too! 

Liked what you read? Then do share it with someone you know who needs to read this and benefit from it! 

*The tips are not a substitute for medical advice.

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Happy Healthy Holidays

Its vacation time!!! And if you’re one of the lucky ones who is taking off for that much anticipated holiday, are these kinds of thoughts running through your mind ?

How will I manage my diet and exercise routine? Everything will go for a toss, it’ll take me months to get back.. I cant do it all, so let me do nothing at all. Just let go.. and I’ll deal with it later…

Stop right there. Before I share my big tips on how to make your vacation healthy, let me share something that will be music to your ears!!!

Your Holiday already is really Healthy!

 Yes, its true. Think about it.. Have you seen anyone coming back from a good vacation looking dull and sick? On facebook and instagram pictures, every one returning from a vacation has these glowing cheeks, twinkling eyes and they look like in the pink of health!

Here’s why.

Holidays fulfil our needs for primary foods. Down time with ourselves, deep conversations and bonding with loved ones, laughter, mindless chatter that switches us off from all the serious stuff we’ve been focussing too much on. All this is extremely important for good health – physical and mental!

Laughter has been shown to reduce our stress hormones such as cortisol, reduce pain and boost the release of endomorphins (hormones that relieve pain) and other happy hormones. All these changes lead to improved hormonal balance, boosted immunity and stress reduction. The body releases weight a lot easily when hormonally balanced and stress free. And this creates a great environment within our body for any kind of healing or weight loss to happen.

Secondly, we also relax and sleep more on vacation. Unless you are on a hectic tour, your year end vacation promises to be that ‘me’ time when you let go of routine and just follow the rhythms dictated by your body’s current needs. Relaxing, doing ‘nothing’, sleeping and you please are a healing therapy in this day and age of wake up alarms and everything done by the clock! So make sure you do more of this, guilt free J

I know a lot of people just end up swimming, strolling on the beach, hiking up the hill top or just walking all day if sightseeing on their holiday. I even got my whole family on a trampoline once on a holiday. So much fun! And all these count as exercise right? So you see, how much potential your holiday has to be fun and healthy, anyway!

So you see a holiday is such a healthy time 😉 provided you are doing all the above.

In the pictures below, one is taken after walking down over a 100 steps of an ampi-theatre in South U.K. and another wafter hours of walking the streets in Japan. Walking is my preferred way to commute locally, when on vacation.

Now the thing most of us struggle most with on a vacation is eating healthy. That is where all the conflicts and stress comes in. As an avid traveller myself, I do too. But over the years, I have learnt how to strike the right balance between feeling free on a vacation as well as eating healthy enough to not feel regretful later.

So here are some best practices I swear by!

  1. When it comes to food, Balance is the key. Lets face it. Unless you are on a retreat, you will not get the cleanest possible foods around. So focus on what is easily accessible – Fresh fruit and Salads. As a thumb rule, I always make at least one meal a day with just fruit and always include salads in the other meals. If I am able to do this much, I pat myself on the back and peck on other foods that I may not fancy so much. I often ask chefs to customise sauted vegetables for me, and they are mostly happy to oblige with something special.
Below are pictures of some delicious healthy meals and breakfasts from some of my vacations in Thailand, Bali, Goa, Auroville, London and Japan!
  1. Keep Healthy munchies handy. Those in between meals are the times we end up indulging in stuff, which as some would say ‘a minute on the lips, forever on the hips’. Those chips and candies, that street food that calls out to us when the hunger pangs suddenly strike and you’re still not ready for a sit down meal. So in order to not slip up, keep healthy munchies in your bag, always. I have a small box which fits my day bag, and I pack some healthy munchies in every morning before heading out. Here are some ideas for the munchies to carry  –
  • trail mix
  • seeds
  • dry fruit
  • khakhras
  • granola
  • makhana

Although, this cannot be relied upon, you might actually be surprised to find some really healthy and fun snack options on the road while travelling.

I found cool cucumber sticks in Japan, cut and whole fruit at airports, fresh juice at bars and markets in Thailand, London, Goa, Zurich and Japan! _MG_9092

 

  1. When you indulge, do it guilt free and do it mindfully. I have seen my friends, load up on that pizza or ice cream and then swallow guilt down with every bite. Know that the guilt weighs the heaviest (more than the food even) and its so not worth it. So here’s another thumb rule – Give yourself the permission to indulge in one meal every day on vacation. Think about what is it that you would really like to have, find the best place to have it, build a good appetite before that meal and then go right ahead and enjoy, guilt free, savouring each bite mindfully.
  2. Ease on Alcohol. Contrary common belief, more alcohol is not at all equivalent to having a better time. If you must have some alcohol, do it responsibly. Your body will thank you for it you yourself will feel empowered for not having gone overboard. Create your own reasonable intake limit, and stick to it. Do not mix it with an aerated beverage and definitely never start on an empty stomach. And remember to stay well hydrated

So here’s wishing you and your families all the happiest and healthiest holidays ahead. I am off for a vacation myself, so catch you all, bright and new from your holidays in 2019!

5 Steps to Connecting with Nature in the City!

Living in a big city, surrounded by concrete and often confined to indoor spaces, do you feel disconnected with nature?
Having lived in cities like Delhi and Mumbai most of my adult life, I have been there too and felt intuitively my health and wellbeing quotient go up when in nature!

Lately I have delved deeper into this, and come to discover that no matter where we are, nature is abundant and omnipresent. And we can connect and derive its benefits, free of cost.

So here are my top 5 steps how you can connect to nature, no matter where you are, and gain enormous health benefits. The best part? They are take MINIMAL TIME and are absolutely FREE OF COST.

1. Deep Breathing.  Have your ever realised that every time you inhale, a part of the universe enters you and each time you exhale a part of you merges with the cosmos. So inextricably connected are we to the universe through each breath. Yet (in my Yoga Guru’s words) we are ‘breathe illiterate’.

Observing our breath and deep inhalation even for a 2-3 minutes with our eyes closed, few times a day can refresh our mind, relax our heated nervous system, and can positively impact our stress levels, hypertension and even regular aches and pains.

  1. Fresh air. City life often restricts our contact with natural fresh air. We live in air-conditioned homes and offices, and travel in air-conditioned cars in between the two! It is like washing many rounds of clothes in the same water, even though it gets dirtier with each round.  Besides air conditioning reduces up our skin’s natural capacity to take heat or cold. Hence whenever possible, open the windows and allow fresh air to come in. Turn off the air conditioning from time to time. If at office, come out to air conditioner free zone at least every 2 hours.

If you can get yourself to go for a brisk walk or a run at the crack of dawn, (that’s the time you will find the air to be the freshest), then you’ve got 2 birds (deep breathing and fresh air) with one hand!

  1. Sun-gazing. You’ll be surprised how accessible the sun energy is in the city, especially from high rises, and this makes it easy to practice sun gazing to gain its miraculous benefits.

One of the biggest impact sun gazing has shown is that it impacts the size and health of our pineal gland, our master gland that regulates all hormonal activity in the body and consequently our energy levels, cell functioning, absorption and utilisation of nutrients and healing.

To begin with all you need to do is watch the rising and/or setting sun (when it is red) for 3-5 min to allow its healing energies to penetrate through the eyes. Gradually increase the amount of time as per your eyes capacity.

  1. Grow your own potted plants. We are genetically programmed to touch and be in contact with plants and soil and, spending even 5 minutes a day nurturing a plant has been known to cause positive changes in our blood chemistry and consequently our state of being. Plus the delight of harvesting the herbs we are growing and throwing them into a fresh salad, is simply priceless!

Don’t have space for a couple potted plants? Go for micro greens, as they can even grow in a small dish on a windowsill (and micro greens contain up to 40 times more nutrients than their grown counterparts).

  1. Walk barefoot. For all the antioxidants we are looking for in our super foods and berries, the simple act of walking barefoot on the ground is the most powerful (and cheapest) antioxidant on the planet.

Walking on sand or grass increases your skin’s exposure to a larger surface area, hence it is even more effective, however, do not shy away from walking bare feet on soil or a concrete surface in your building area as that too works!

Farm to Fork in the City

Fresh food tastes the best right? This is because its bio energy is most alive when it has just been plucked/harvested. Research shows that as more time passes, this bio energy keeps reducing, even though technically its nutritional quotient does not change as much. This is how nature intended us to eat – just pluck or harvest and consume immediately. Leafy greens, that are responsible for converting the energy of the sun into food energy actually do not survive long. They wilt or get spoilt anyway, even if refrigerated! This is how fast their bio energy depletes.

Living in a city, it may be impossible to have access to everything completely fresh, or live Farm to Fork, but here are few things that can surely try.

  1. Grow your own micro-greens. Micro-greens are shoots of any seed, that have just sprouted their first leaves. They are nutrition power houses, quick to grow, low on maintenence and practically take no space except the tray on which they are grown!
  2. Grow your favourite herbs such as mint and basil in small potted plants, that can be accommodated even on your window sill.  If you have a balcony with a wall, you could create a vertical herb garden on it.
  3. Look around your housing society. You may be surprised to find trees or shrubs that are edible that you never knew. A friend of mine had a Moringa tree growing in his backyard, and never knew till I pointed it out!
  4. Get together with others in your housing society and create a little kitchen garden on ground or on the terrace of your building!
  5. When planting trees in your housing society, plant edibles rather than just to beautify. You will find that this even attracts more birds and butterflies into your society as they too love flowers and fruit.

I am lucky that my parents  have a superb edible garden back in a small city at the foot hills of the Himalayas. Whenever I am there, I literally overdose (well, there’s no such thing actually) on the goodies of nature, in my smoothies, salads and cooking! Below is a snap shot of my latest discovery here  – Radish seed pods, which we harvested and cooked into a yummy vegetable for lunch. The pods had a yummilicious crunchy radishy sweet and stingy flavour, that would go wonderfully well in a salad or pickle too!

 

 

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Lessons from Bali

When you walk into an ice cream parlor in the middle of the market, and find out the entire range his vegan, you know you have arrived in the right country!

It is not for no reason that Bali is called the Island of the Gods. People ascribe this to the presence of a thousand temples here, but truly, this land has a soul. It’s a place where one can say idealism is not just an unrealistic romantic idea, but something its people live and breathe!

There’s a café called Down to Earth. The entrance to their café says ‘Peace through Nutrition’. I am already bowled over. This is something I envisioned, they have already done it. Down to Earth serves the best quality organic, vegan cuisine. They also have store, where they source the best quality organic vegan, fair trade stuff to be sold off the shelf. Wherever they open a branch, they source local produce in a fair manner, ensure the growth of the local economy, they hire only locals, train them well so that their capabilities grow. They run a film club, where they run documentary films on health and environment. I found their staff to be smiling so much and so helpful that I couldn’t believe they didn’t feel like they are one with this enterprise.

The Down to Earth Kitchens are not your run of the mill commercial kitchens. They have banned aluminium and Teflon coating and use only steel, and their chefs are trained to follow macrobiotic traditions. The more I get to know about Down to Earth, the more look up to the vision behind it.

Bali is full of such examples. Another company that I took note of is The Big Tree Farms, famed for producing the best quality organic Raw Cacao in the world. To think that the world’s best raw cacao is produced not by China, India or the U.S., but a small underdeveloped island in Indonesia. This is a company with a fantastic vision of development, committed to giving the world the purest and the best, as well a s committed to give back to the local economy.

One of the best places for food I found was Sayuri Healing Food, a café started by Sayuri, a raw chef.. The first page of the menu reads ‘ this place is for us all to become KUU, as the logo of our café represent, where each one of us become the shine on each uniqueness of its existence, which is the pure purpose of here and now for each. Therefore it is the most powerful force to impact everything around you.’

And then, they serve food that not only tastes as delicious as it looks, but is also the purest and most nutritious food on the planet. You cant beat that!

Same goes for another café Moksa, except that this place has a beautiful setting, amidst a permaculture farm! A perfect farm to fork taking place right in front of you.

Bali is full of places and concepts like this. Concepts are just what the world needs right now, or rather a consciousness that the world needs right now!

Photos on https://goo.gl/photos/s9BD4hNZZgnkRUAb6

 

 

Lord Krishna and the Butter connection

Living in India most of us grow up consuming milk and milk products as a staple part of our daily diet. If we just a little food diary exercise, we’ll see how not a single meal may be complete without some dairy in it. Of course this assumption of milk being good for us has a logical history and background.

Going into scriptures, we hear of Lord Krishna’s love for butter. Now Krishna was a cowboy. He used to herd a whole lot of cattle. And there should be no dearth of milk around him. Yet he had to steal butter to eat it!

Obviously this means there was not enough. Back then, cows were treated and taken care of like family members. Milk secreted by the cows was given to their calves (for whom it is meant). Only, the little that was left from them was kept for children and aged people as a way to secure them, since food too could be scarce sometimes.

Today India is the largest producer of milk and milk products. Super market shelves are filled with gallons and gallons of milk. Dairy products find their way into almost every packaged food and bakery products, and most people don’t even realise how much dairy they end up consuming unknowingly. The milk available to us today is far different from the milk in Lord Krishna’s days.

Cows in dairy farms are treated as milk producing machines, artificially inseminated to make them pregnant, their calves separated from them at birth, and regularly injected with hormones and antibiotics. Hence the milk we have today is a deadly cocktail of chemicals, stress hormones, antibiotics and pus cells, creating all sorts of hormonal and other imbalances in our body.

Cows milk is the ideal food for calves, not for humans (just the way we consider human milk to be perfect for our babies). It is addictive as well as acidic in our body, ( more on this in another post) therefore far from bringing benefit, milk comes in the way of good health.

So ditch dairy and embrace good health!

Eating Healthy Tips for the Weekend

If weekends are what you live for, then chances are that binges and overeating may be the centre of it, followed up with feelings of guilt and overcompensation by dieting. If you’re wondering how to break from from this viscious cycle, read on.

The key to good health and healthy eating habits lies in progress, not perfection. So throw that restrictive diet out of the window and focus your efforts on building healthy habits through a little bit of self discipline. Here are five things you can do (this weekend) –

  1. Get good rest over the weekend. Rest is food too! Take some ‘me time’ out. You will be surprised at how nourished and satiated you will feel with some extra sleep, a head massage, a spa or just doing nothing for a couple of hours. This will eliminate the need to satisfy yourself with wrong foods
  2. Always eat something healthy before stepping out. It could be a bowl of fruits, a green smoothie, a sprout salad or a big vegetable soup. This will ensure you are not super hungry and do not end up stuffing yourself with unhealthy foods when out.
  1. When eating out, always order a simple salad (no creamy, oily dressings please) along with meal. It is lighter on your system and provide live enzymes to help break down other foods too!
  2. Stick to one grain per meal only. Avoid multigrain breads or mixed grains in any other form.
  3. Leave the dessert for home. Even when one has gone out for a meal, one usually comes home and wants to eat something before sleeping. So why not use that to have a good dessert at home? Mumbai is now brimming with dessert suppliers that are sugar free and dairy free. Stock those up at home, and return to their sweet comforts:)

Wishing you all a happy, healthful and guilt-free weekend ahead 🙂