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Manizales

Mindfulness in Manizales, Colombia

Lessons Learned From Attempted Robberies, Graduation Parties, and Letting Go of Love 

If you’re anything like me, staying mindful sounds easy when you read it in a book. Of course you’ll slow down and take a deep breath when faced with a challenge. What else would you do? 

Well, the “what else” commonly involves panicking, ruminating, and watching your mind get out of control. When things get tough, staying mindful can be challenging. 

I’ve faced many such challenges over the last eight months. After selling all my furniture, quitting my job, and stuffing my life into a backpack, I’ve been living in Latin America since March. Most of my time has been in my new adopted home of Manizales, Colombia. 

In this article, I’ll bring you into a few of my more unusual Colombian experiences. I faced difficulties, but each hurdle came with a valuable lesson. 

March 15, 2019: The Colombian Graduation Party

colombian graduation

My very first Colombian Graduation

On my second full day in Colombia, I found myself at a graphic design student’s graduation. Specifically, I was one of three guests at the ceremony. Even more specifically, I was seated directly between the other two guests: the girl’s divorced parents. 

I was rather nervous. Sweating with impressive consistency, I attempted to make conversation. Back in March, my Spanish was pretty lackluster. Filled with anxiety, I didn’t know what to do. 

But then, all of a sudden, I realized everything was going to be ok. What’s the worst thing that could happen? I took a deep breath, and I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I got my sweating under control (though that may have been because someone finally opened the doors to the auditorium…it was quite hot). 

Often, we find ourselves in situations where we’re afraid of how we’ll appear to other people. One way to calm ourselves down is to realize everyone else is human, just like us. They’re unlikely to judge us, condemn us, or even notice if we’ve made a mistake. By taking a step back and realizing it’s all going to be ok, it usually is. 

July 12, 2019: The Broken Computer 

mindfulness in manizales

My Spanish replacement computer

After spending a couple of weeks visiting family in the United States, I was back in Colombia. During my time back home, I had bought a new laptop. I was very pleased with this laptop—that is, until it broke on my third day back. 

I’m a writer. That’s how I make my money. No writing, no income. Unfortunately, I now had no way to put words on the page. My initial reaction was to spend a few hours running around like a chicken with its head cut off. 

What am I going to do? How could the computer break so soon? Why is this happening to me? 

I was planning on being in South America for another four months, so this was quite the problem. I created nightmare scenarios about how clients would fire me and how I wouldn’t get a new computer quickly enough. 

You know what happened? I walked back into my apartment and realized there was a desktop computer I could use. It was sitting right there. I had even used it before. How could I forget? 

When we’re in a state of panic, we’re often blind to obvious solutions. We spend so much time worrying about the problem that we can’t find the easy fix, even when it’s sitting right in front of us. 

Since then, I bought a $200 laptop that I use when I travel. Neither the apartment’s desktop nor my new laptop is an impressive machine. Plus, both computers have Spanish keyboards (it took me days to find the apostrophe key). Nevertheless, the world kept turning. I kept writing, and now I have a story. 

It’s natural to let the mind race when you encounter a challenge, but try to take a moment and calmly evaluate the situation. It will all work out eventually. It always does. 

July 31, 2019: The Attempted Robbery 

manizales, colombia

The scene of the crime

I was on my way back from a concert when I felt the man jump on my back. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised. I was told never to walk by the soccer stadium after a match, but I thought I could make it home. 

Walking through a red sea of Cali supporters, I felt uneasy. Eventually, my fears came true. While one man was one my back, another stuck his hand down my pocket. My phone pocket. Bad news. 

I managed to push them both off me and directed a stern “No!” at them. It was the best warning I could muster. I promptly speed-walked away until I found some policemen to use as cover. After about a minute, I continued my power-walking back to my apartment. Luckily, the prospective thieves came away emptyhanded. 

When I got back to my apartment, I reflected. I wasn’t angry at all. Why wasn’t I upset? It was strange. 

After a few minutes, I started to feel compassion for the attempted robbers. Perhaps they needed money to feed their families. Maybe they wanted to look cool in front of their friends. Regardless of the reason, I realized they wouldn’t have tried to steal from me if they were happy and secure. 

When others try to do us harm, it’s usually because they’re in a bad place. Instead of vilifying them, try to see things from their perspective. When you try to understand their side of the story, you realize they aren’t terrible people. They’re trying their best, just like you and me. 

Today: Saying Goodbye 

nature in colombia

The country that stole my heart

As I write this in November, I can’t help but look back on these experiences with warm nostalgia. My time in Colombia has taught me more than my formal education ever did. After months of meeting new people, speaking Spanish, and attending yoga classes where I was the only man, I’ve grown to love this country. 

For a variety of reasons, I’m leaving Colombia in a week. As a side note, none of the reasons have to do with Colombia itself—this country is filled with magic and warmth. 

While I’m excited for the next chapter in my life, a big part of me will miss this place. The small buses that cost $0.70 and don’t have actual stops. The lush green hills that surround the city. The amazing friends I’ll remember forever. 

But this is all part of the process. If we cling to the things we love without ever moving on, we’ll never be happy. All good things must come to an end. 

And so, at this very moment, Colombia is teaching me my last lesson. With everything being impermanent, we must be grateful for every moment. Gaze out your window. Smell the flowers. Smile at a stranger. I’ll always look back at this experience with a warm glow of love. Gracias, Colombia. Te quiero. 


Michael Bjorn Huseby is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness, and travel. He loves practicing yoga, writing music, and attempting to speak foreign languages. If you want to learn more, visit bjorn2write.com

frankly eq

The Body Knows

Our #1 emotional intelligence rule: The body knows. 

In a culture that loves to explain everything, we forget to feel our bodies. When we think about emotional intelligence, we think about strategies to have effective conversations, we think about becoming aware of our patterns, we think about defining our needs. The truth, none of this is possible if we don’t listen to and FEEL THE BOD.

How your body feel lets you know if your needs are met. How you react to your bodies needs creates your emotional patterns. And, if your body isn’t relaxed, you can kiss that effective conversation.

Before developing great emotional strategies, you need to build a relationship with your body. What does it need? What does it crave? How can you take care of it? 

When that person asks if you want to do that thing, does your body say “heck yes!” or “heck no!” How do you know? 

Here is our favorite tool for listening to your body, it’s called Clench/Unclench. 

Clench/Unclench

Step 1) 

Ask yourself a question. I.e. Do I want to eat ice cream right now?

Step 2) 

Notice your bodies’ response. Does it clench? Or, does it unclench? Unclenching is a sign to go for that thing, it’s a sign that your body wants it. Your body relaxing around that thing is a deep, embodied yes. Clenching, on the other hand, is a sign that your body does not want that thing. It’s a pushing away, a closing, an embodied no. 

Step 3) 

Follow your bodies’ yes. Listen for the unclench and follow it for one whole day. What do you end up doing? How do you feel? How is it different from your normal day?

I bet you’re thinking, if I always follow my unclench, I’m going to be a lazy hedonist who never does anything productive. You’d be surprised. Following the unclench often leads people to do their laundry, go for a walk, and eat green stuff. It might also lead to a cookie or a nap. 

Consider this article encouragement for you to follow your unclench and see what happens. At the very least, you’ll start to get acquainted with… YOUR BOD!


Mieka Briejer is the founder of Frankly EQ; brain based emotional education which gives you the knowledge, tools, and hands-on practice you need to become an emotional genius. Got questions for Mieka? Reach out to her here.

emotional genius

3 Steps to Becoming an Emotional Genius

To learn more, check out Frankly 101: Become an Emotional Genius, a blended learning program designed to use hands-on practice and neuroscience based concepts to build emotional genii. 

Step 1: Understand your system.

To become an emotional genius you need to understand your emotional system. Emotions are one of our bodies many tools designed to keep us safe and connected to other people. Their function is to guide us toward actions that meet our needs. 

Over time your body learns to produce habitual emotional responses that have a high likelihood of getting your needs met. For example, when I cry, mom comes to get me. When I appease, people accept me. When I’m aggressive, I win. These responses are shaped by our unique biological system (aka ‘the bod’), our identity within a particular historical context, and our current context.  

Emotions are made of:

  1. Your body doing it’s best to take care of you. 
  2. Your historic conditioning.
  3. Your current context.  

Understanding our system opens the door to more agency. 

Step 2: Treat emotions as information.

Once we understand the function of emotions, it’s time to listen to them. Emotions are information. We should treat them as useful data sets that help us understand and take care of ourselves. 

So what exactly are you listening to when you listen to an emotion? Frequently I ask my clients how they feel. Then I ask them what let’s them know they feel that way. Then they look at me quizzically. 

Emotions like sad, happy, angry, and stressed are concepts. Underneath those concepts are physical sensations that we make meaning of and eventually give a name like happy. When we can tap into the sensation beneath the emotion concept, we are much less likely to get trapped in old stories and much more likely to address core needs.

There is endless information available when we listen to our emotions. At the end of the day, taking in that information enables us to make conscious decisions about how to respond to emotion and meet our needs. Listening to emotions and meeting needs is a whole book. More on how to get what you need next week. 

Step 3: Take things a little less personally

Simple, right?! It can be easy to take what’s going on for other people and make it about us. The reality, just like your emotions are the product of your body, history, and current context, theirs are too. Realizing this frees us from taking emotions personally.

The first step here is separating your feelings from the other persons. When you think, “Oh no, they didn’t call me back.” Rather than going straight to, “They hate me,” notice that you feel stressed, worried, and sad. Care for that. Once you recognize and care for your emotions, then you can begin to consider what’s going on for them. 

Remember: Everyone’s behavior makes sense in their system. 

Some good questions to ask to explore this are: 

  1. Q) What is that behavior/emotion so smart? 
  2. Q) What need does it meet? 
  3. Q) Why does it make sense? 

Questions like these help dig into the needs, history, and context beneath feelings, starting us down the road to curiosity and toward increased agency. 

That’s all for now folks. If you want to learn about any of these skills, check out Frankly 101: Become an Emotional Genius, a blended learning program designed to get you up and moving so you can learn EQ skills that stick.


Mieka Briejer is the founder of Frankly EQ; brain based emotional education which gives you the knowledge, tools, and hands-on practice you need to become an emotional genius. Got questions for Mieka? Reach out to her here.

Perms Gone Bad – A Picture of Perfect Imperfection

At my parent’s house in Cle Elum, there are boxes of old photos from the last 40 years of our lives, waiting to be sifted and sorted.  My prom pictures from 1996 are piled next to my parents wedding photos from 1975.  

Last weekend we were there for a birthday and I came across this little gem sitting near the top of one of those boxes. 

I picked it up and had a quick laugh before being overtaken by a wave of generalized shame and embarrassment… the signature feeling of most of my life between the ages of 11 and 15. I felt an urgency to burn the photo. 

Being averse to drama, I instead tossed it back into the pile, shook it off, and resumed what I was doing.

The next day, as my husband and I were packing the car to go home my big sister came spilling out of the house toward my car, laughing hysterically. She had just found the offending photo and was clearly enjoying it more than I had.  

Before long, my whole family had gathered around.  Soon we were all laughing with tears as my sister pointed out the comedic perfection of our deeply mis-guided style. (Thanks, Mom.) 

The matching striped bunny shirts, the pleated acid washed denim, the popped collars, the loving sisters pose, and yes, THE HAIR.  Perms gone bad…oh so bad.  

Suddenly I was so grateful I had not acted on my instinct to incinerate the picture.  

I realized that on the day of this particular photo we were still young enough that we actually believed our mom when she exclaimed in her classic mom way “Girls. You. Look. SOOO Gorgeous!!”  

You are seeing pure confidence here people.  No shame.

Now when I look at this photo I feel nothing but love for my naive little self.  I want to tell her “You rock that bunny shirt, Cam. You look great.”  I feel grateful for my big sis, whose hairstyle is arguably way worse than mine, and yet she is beaming. And thankful for my mom, who took the time to feather our bangs and put blush on our cheeks because she loved us. 

One of the concepts that has been coming up repeatedly in my life and in sessions with clients is what Melissa Joy Jonsson calls “Perfectly Imperfect”.  

This is the ability to embrace and appreciate the parts of ourselves that make us cringe a little.  Bad decisions, mistakes, shameful habits, insecurities, fears, regrettable hair-do’s. 

It’s the ability to understand that we didn’t come here to be perfect.  We came here to have this messy, hair-sprayed, sometimes awkward, painful, confusing and often amazing human experience. 

Glennon Doyle Melton, author of “Carry On Warrior – The Power of Embracing your Messy, Beautiful Life” says that it is our imperfections not our perfections that connect us to each other. From battles with multiple addictions, depression and many, many drug-fueled bad decisions, “Carry on Warrior” contains the most honest, hilarious, heart opening stories about things most people would save for a very trusted therapist. 

The result is that you want to be Glennon’s friend. You actually like her MORE than if she had lived a perfect life. You also see how our worst mistakes and shortcomings are actually a gold mine of wisdom, perspective and humor.  

It’s up to us to dig that gold out of the dirt. Sift it, sort it, and make it shine.

So go ahead and mine for gold in your own life. Do you have your own version of my bad perm picture that you’ve been hiding?  Bring it out. Love it. Hug it. Kiss it, and make it breakfast.  Then share it with the people you know will also love it. Have a good laugh. 

Even bad perms can turn out to be good. 


Camron Momyer is a Reiki Therapist and Intuitive Healer based in Seattle, WA. By accessing more joy and less worry, she helps others easily step into their life purpose. You can learn more about her and book a remote reiki session on her website, www.soulsourcedenergy.com

transition to fall

How To Navigate Seasonal Transitions with Ayurveda

According to Indian lifestyle and medical science – Ayurveda – each season of the year has its own dominant elements, energies and qualities. Seasonal living is one of the cornerstones of Ayurveda and one of the foundations of health. Just as we switch wardrobes for each season, we are encouraged to switch daily routines, foods, herbs and supplements to support our health and well-being.

Ayurveda views seasonal junctions, Ritusandhi, as inherently vulnerable periods. During these times, usually lasting for 2-3 weeks, we are more prone to get out of balance as the weather shifts and qualities of the seasons change – and, once our immunity or resilience reservoirs get low, more prone to getting sick. 

There are two key aspects to navigating any seasonal transitions with grace: mindfulness, and refilling the resilience reservoirs. Good news is that the seasonal transition is not coming up for several more weeks, so you have time to prepare!

Mindfulness

Staying balanced during seasonal transitions requires a deeper connection with ourselves, the needs of our bodies and our changing environment. Are you starting to crave warmer and heavier, or colder and lighter, foods? Are you taking in raw foods well, or are they starting to overload your digestive system? Are you warm or cold? Is your skin getting drier or oiler? Do you have more or less energy? Are your sleep patterns shifting? Our ability to notice what is happening right now, today, vs. continuing what has worked for us through the previous season is key. You need to mindfully pay attention to what’s working for you and what’s not.

Seasonal shifts are rarely abrupt – and that’s what makes them tricky. We are phasing out foods and routines of the old season and gradually starting to incorporate the new ones, constantly testing, experimenting shifting and adapting. That is why mindfulness is key to navigating the transitions. Continuing with the seasonal wardrobe analogy: during the shift you might still keep the summer dresses out, but also pull out a light jacket and a scarf and start carrying your umbrella along with your sunglasses. 

Meditation practice is training our “mindfulness muscle”. If you already have a meditation practice, it could be very supportive, especially for the early Fall. If you haven’t tried meditation, but have been curious – now is great time to start.

Resilience

Our resilience/immunity are not just physical: viewing individual as a whole, Ayurveda stresses the importance of mental and emotional resilience (more on how to refill your emotional resilience reservoirs below).

To support your physical immunity Ayurveda recommends Chyawanprash: a traditional Ayurvedic herbal jam (yes, it does have sugar) of Indian gooseberry (Amalaki) and 45 other herbs and spices. I really love this one (https://www.tattvasherbs.com/wild-crafted-chyawanprash-12-oz-why-settle-for-less-than-the-best-45-herbs/), from a local Seattle company. I eat a teaspoon a day straight out of the jar. But you can use it on toast, in your oats, with yoghurt, basically, the same way you would use a jam.

Summer to Autumn Transition

If we are looking specifically at the Summer to Autumn transition, we are moving from the fiery, active Pitta (Fire + Water) season of doing and achieving to a more introspective season of Vata (Space + Air), a season of subtle, dry, rough, mobile qualities. Subtle quality of Vata is our source of creativity and connection to the world around us, but light and mobile qualities of this season could also make emotionally brittle: prone to nervousness, anxiety, feeling of being untethered and ungrounded (think of a dry autumn leaf in the wind). Our sleep can get disrupted: lighter sleep that can get interrupted in the early hours of the morning. Often we also become more sensitive to sounds and wake up at the slightest noise.  

Here are some ways you can start laying the foundation for a healthy Autumn:  

Food

Start integrating more warm, cooked foods: soups, stews, curries, and other one pot meals. Add warming spices: ginger, turmeric, cumin, mustard seeds, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg (there is folk wisdom to the pumpkin spice blend!). As we move further into the Fall, plan for these foods to become the majority of your meals, as you slowly transition the smoothies, cold and raw foods out.  For more ideas, you can read my blog post on foods for fall & Vata season.

Hobbies

Schedule some time for creativity. If there was a class you wanted to take/skill you wanted to learn, schedule it for this Autumn! Pitta season is all about doing and planning, Vata season would be more conducive to creativity, but hectic Vatas tend to have a hard time following through, so use that organized Pitta energy to schedule everything in advance and get the supplies. Vata season could also bring up a lot of anxious energy – creative hobby or making something with your hands is a wonderful way to channel that energy into a slightly different direction.

Self-Care

Start a self-care list. Autumn can be exhausting and depleting (especially once we get closer to the holiday season), leaving you more brittle and less resilient. Refilling your cup becomes incredibly important. However, we often don’t know what actually refills us and fall back on the standard routine of bubble baths and massages. Wonderful as they are, they might not be what fills up and restores you. So start an actual, physical list in your journal or on your phone. If you notice that something has left you feeling rejuvenated, built up your emotional resiliency, write it down. Follow the smallest pings of joy and over time you’ll build up a larger picture, small piece by small piece. More importantly, make sure you do things from your self-care list regularly – better yet, schedule them. Don’t fall on them during hard times, make sure to refill your resilience reservoir regularly. 

Abhyanga

A warm oil massage; Abhyanga is the classical Ayurvedic treatment that could be performed by an Ayurvedic massage therapist or you can do it at home by yourself. 

Warm the bottle with oil under running hot water and standing on a towel (to catch any spills) apply the oil with long strokes along the bones and circles around the joints. Allow the oil to sink in (if you are a multitasker, you can use this time to brush your teeth or put a face mask on). Take a shower in 10-15 minutes, but do not use soap, just rinse the oil off.

You can also do an express abhyanga – massage your feet with warm oil, put the socks on and go to sleep.

Traditional Ayurvedic practitioner will use oil infused with different herbs, but you can use whatever high quality oil you have at home. Sesame will be the best for Autumn, but sunflower or olive will also be good. You can add your favorite essential oils to the base oil, about 10 drops of essential oil for an oz. of carrier oil. 

Traditionally Abhyanga is a part of the morning routine; however, I often recommend my clients, specially those who struggle with sleep, to do it before bed. Give it a try and see how you feel and sleep!

If this sounded like a fun dive into the lifestyle side of Ayurveda, these are exactly the subjects we discuss at an Ayurvedic Wellness Consultation. But we dive deeper into the details of how your individual constitution (combination of doshas) plays into the energy of the season and look closer at how recommendations could fit into your life, so that you actually implement the changes. E-mail me (valentina@venetyoga.com) to enquire about an individual consultation (in-person or online) or book an Ayurvedic treatment with me at Embrace Ayurveda

Enjoy a happy and healthy Fall!


Valentina Komarova is a wellbeing practitioner based in Seattle, Washington. She helps her clients explore relations between their mind and their body through yogaAyurveda and Massage.

 

 

energy medicine

Energy Medicine; Debunking the Myths

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that there is no science behind energy medicine. There has been tons of research coming from David Feinstein, Ph.D. Dawson Church, Ph.D., Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., Dr. Joe Dispenza, Dean Radin, Ph.D., and many others, demonstrating the power of energy medicine. But despite this, there are still many who seem glued to the idea that energy medicine is not evidence based.

One of the leading contributors to this myth is Wikipedia. Many of its arguments used to claim there is no science to support energy medicine come from the lab of one researcher, Edzard Ernst, Ph.D.  Plus the latest study to make that claim was from 2008.  Research in energy medicine has grown exponentially since then.

Many Alternative Medicine practitioners consider Wikipedia to be biased. A librarian I spoke to from Bastyr University said that they had repeatedly tried to get Wikipedia to update its pages on a variety of methods they practice, but Wikipedia isn’t allowing them to contribute to what is on their pages. I’ve heard similar stories from researchers in energy medicine.

The claim that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that anyone can edit is simply not true.

Western medicine is not receptive to ideas outside of its own

As I wrote in my article What to Say to the Skeptics of Energy Medicine, being an expert can cause you to be closed to alternatives. Having spent 15 years in Western medical research in Neuroscience, neuro and nutritional epidemiology, and in alternative medicine, I can vouch for this with my own experience. If someone had told me in my 30s that I would be an energy practitioner two decades later, I would have given them a giant eye roll.  For most of my life I scoffed at using magnets for healing, and crystals. But I’ve been slowly exposed to their benefits over the years, and now I am grateful for their benefits and use them regularly.

The biases in Western medicine are well known to alternative practitioners

The danger in this lack of openness shows up with what journals choose to publish. For example, in 2008, I wrote the first review article on brainwave entrainment. It was a well-written paper that showed its profound benefits. Having been used to publishing in quality mainstream medical journals, I was determined to get their attention with this article. But journal after journal told me that they were not interested in reviewing my paper, and that it belonged in an alternative medicine journal.

The most prominent and well-used index of research is called PubMed. It is widely believed that only journals that are listed in PubMed produce quality research. In PubMed, at the time of my publication, there was only one journal accepting alternative medicine and research. I finally had to publish my paper there, where only people interested in alternative medicine saw it.

There are many alternative medicine journals that are not indexed in PubMed. We are often told that the journals that haven’t been accepted into PubMed are of poor quality. But it is extremely difficult to conduct quality randomized controlled trails with methods that are dependent upon the unique symptoms, or makeup of the individual. For example, in functional medicine, a client will receive a variety of tests to determine the underlying causes that need to be addressed. Thus the treatment will depend on the results of these tests. So should methods that are tailored to the individual be required to have the same research qualifications as a method that uses the exact same intervention for everyone?

Around 2008 NPR reported that a lab at Harvard had discovered a new technique called neurofeedback. I almost choked. The field had been around for at least 20 years! I had attended classes in neurofeedback, and knew that there was an entire journal, conferences, and hundreds of practitioners who already practiced the technique. But it wasn’t until Harvard ”discovered” it, that it was considered by Western medicine to be something worth looking at.

There is an implicit assumption that the pharmaceuticals administered in Western medicine are evidence-based

I recently learned in a class I took from Angelo Pezzote, Pharm. D., M.A., who is a board-certified pharmacist that pharmaceutical companies are only required to do 2 randomized control trials with a minimum of 30% efficacy to bring a drug to market! And that is for new drugs. This paper from BMC Medicine suggests there are many older drugs on the market that don’t meet the criteria for 30% efficacy.

I was shocked when I heard these numbers. If what I did only had 30% efficacy I wouldn’t have chosen to dedicate my life to it. Personally I aim for 100% efficacy. I don’t have complete control over what my clients choose to do, or whether they will give it the time needed to reverse their condition. However, for the vast majority of conditions that people come to see me for, I am able to completely eliminate the problem.  I’m horrified that 30% is the standard required for pharmaceuticals, especially given the standards they require for alternative medicine.

Plus with Western medicine’s reputation for side effects, 2 randomized control trials is not enough. Did you know that less than ½ of trials that are started are actually published? Plus there are wide discrepancies about the negative effects of the drugs between the government database of trials and what gets published.

There is also widespread off-label use of medicines. In other words, a physician may notice a drug seems to help a condition where no trials have been conducted. There is also not enough understanding of how drugs might interact. Finally, drug trials are not done in sensitive populations such as children and the elderly, where they are widely administered.

Claims that energy healing could be dangerous: Debunked!

A great way to tell the safety of a practice is to look at their malpractice insurance costs.

Costs in Western medicine:

  • A psychiatrist pays between 6-30K/yr
  • A family practice physician pays between: 8-50K/yr
  • A Neurosurgeon pays between: 50-150K/yr
  • An energy practitioner pays 0.25K/yr
      • 0.25K = $250/yr.

Why is the insurance of energy practitioners so low? Because what we do isn’t dangerous, and clients are almost always happy with their experience. I regularly tell clients that what I do is safer than crossing the street!

“Energy medicine is purely a placebo effect” : Debunked!

Many energy practitioners practice with animals, and some (like myself) do it long distance. The notion that the placebo effect explains long-distance animal healing is preposterous. I’ve helped feline clients resolve litter box issues, and get along with their feline housemates long distance. I’ve helped a newborn puppy that had severe hypoglycemia, seizures and a fear of eating not only survive, but thrive long distance. Animals communicate via energy, and know when they are being helped. But given their lack of comprehension of the human language, we can’t assume it was because of something anyone said to them.

From personal experience, I’ve tried many things (including the methods I now use) that I had no idea if they would work. For example, I was looking into the power of Nikken magnets. My colleague insisted that I try the sleep system. Given that I wasn’t aware of having sleep issues, I didn’t expect to notice anything. Yet the next morning, I felt like I had just come out of a week-long meditation retreat. I couldn’t believe how relaxed and at peace I felt, and how that serenity stayed with me through the morning, even after my car wouldn’t start.   Usually my modus operandi would be to panic, I was more than stunned by its effects! No one had ever suggested that I would respond that way, so how could it be a placebo effect?

If we can’t predict the results, how is it a placebo effect?

Many clients come to me unsure about whether I can help them. They are regularly amazed by what is possible.  Once in awhile, I do have clients who claim to notice no benefits. When this is true, I find that they have a similar belief in everything they try. When I release the beliefs that are getting in the way of them seeing the benefits of anything they do, they start to see how effective my methods are.

Often times clients will come to me with issues I’ve never addressed, and I can’t tell them that what I do will help. If they feel like they are out of options otherwise and want to give what I do a try, I get to find out again what is possible with the method I use.  It’s a new experience for both of us, thus therefore any positive results I get cannot be a placebo effect.  While I haven’t been able to reverse symptoms for everyone who has seen me, my success rate is well over 90% for the issues I address.

A refusal to pay attention to the evidence

Meanwhile over 600 studies have been published in PubMed in the field of energy medicine. In the field of Energy Psychology alone, as of August, 2018, over 100 research studies were published in peer reviewed journals, including four meta-analyses and five review articles.

Here is the evidence worth noting: The studies include 50 pre-post trials and 50 randomized controlled trials.   98 out of these 100 studies showed effectiveness! These results are stunning to anyone who’s spent much time looking at the effectiveness of interventions. Yet they are not a surprise to those of us who practice energy medicine. You can read more about the latest research in energy psychology at the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology website.

Its time to let go of the myth that there is no science behind energy medicine. Given how safe and effective energy medicine is, it is my preferred go-to intervention for chronic conditions. If you have never tried it, I suggest approaching it with an open mind. Check out a local healer’s fair to get a sample of different healing modalities. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you can check out the Metaphysical Empowerment and Wellness Fairs here.

Do you have a health issue that you’d like to let go of? Book a complimentary consultation to learn more what is possible when I apply my unique approach to using the Body Code. Join hundreds of satisfied clients and get your life back! You deserve to have the health and life you love!


Collective member Dr. Tina Huang is a Holistic Brain Health Practitioner who uses the wisdom of the subconscious to identify and release the underlying causes of concerns in health, wealth, relationships and happiness. Due to her extensive training in Neuroscience and Epidemiology, she’s passionate about identifying root causes in order to prevent mental and cognitive health challenges.

Love Through the Mess

My toddler is having a melt down while I am changing my kicking, crying infant’s full diaper. As Grayson is jumping around to avoid my swatting, he hits my elbow then nearly plants his foot in the motherload resting on the ground by my knee. I start to lose it.

Who is this tyrant I gave birth to? What the hell is wrong with him? My normally calm voice breaks into a feverish mom voice. Like a boiling pot with a lid on, irrational things start to escape from my mouth. Some of them might be swear words. I start to threaten this small maniac. I sound kinda crazy.

And like that, a lifetime of training goes down the tubes. Mindfulness? Staying centered and grounded? Not today.

I begin to feel urgently that those with anger management issues should NEVER be parents. No one but my three year old has ever elicited this sort of rage from me. And he is a truly great kid.

Less than an hour later, the diaper is clean and Grayson is sitting happily drawing.

He’s perfectly fine. And I am still pissed. I feel harried, frazzled, tired, resentful and messy. I have not brushed my teeth or combed my hair and we need to get to preschool.

In some variation or degree, this is a weekly, if not daily experience for me. Even as I’m writing this, I can feel the pent up anger in my chest and the heaviness of the shaming voice saying “why don’t you have this figured out yet?! You’re supposed to be a teacher.”

I rack my brain for a mantra, a practice, a yoga pose that will help me stay calm through the chaos of my children, help me be a parent that’s a little more like Mr. Myagi, or like Buddha. But nothing seems all-encompassing enough for this….

…And then last night as I was closing up my computer, out of things to write (I did not come up with a mantra ) I recalled a conversation I had on Easter Sunday with my brother in law. He shared something he had heard his pastor say that morning. He said,

“The world is messy right now. Our job is simply to love through the mess.”

I was thinking it sounded like a great blog post but it did not occur to me until last night to apply it to my own little life. What if we could stop trying to fix things and just love?

What if I could stop trying to control my kids, running after Grayson with the vacuum, cringing every time he eats toothpaste? Just love him more, and perhaps more to the point, love myself more. Stop trying to “get it right”.

As I consider this idea of “loving through the mess”, my chest literally relaxes. It feels warm. My jaw softens.

Then I start to wonder….can I actually begin to love the mess itself? And then I realize, I already do.


Camron Momyer is a Reiki Therapist and Intuitive Healer based in Seattle, WA. By accessing more joy and less worry, she helps others easily step into their life purpose. You can learn more about her and book a remote reiki session on her website, www.soulsourcedenergy.com

 

#LoveThroughtheMess #love #selflove

postpartum doulas are a new mother's dream come true

Postpartum Doula; The Support Every New Parent Needs

When I tell people that I’m a Postpartum Doula and the responsibilities that entails, I hear far too often – “Where were you when I needed you?”. While both birth and postpartum doulas have been around for quite some time, Postpartum Doulas have more recently gained popularity. 

The Role of a Postpartum Doula

The definition of a Postpartum Doula is as follows: A postpartum doula is a professional support person trained in the needs of the family in the days, weeks and months after birth or the addition of a new baby. The doula offers non-judgmental support, guidance, evidence-based education, and practical hands-on support immediately after birth through the first year. Doula originates from the Greek word meaning woman servant.

The period after birth is what we call the “Fourth Trimester”. This is a time period where not only is the newborn adjusting to life outside of the womb, but the adults caring for them are also transitioning into a new role. The postpartum period looks different for everybody and the role I play as their doula during this stage varies based on each individual need. The ultimate goal is to help not only the mother but the family unit as a whole foster maximum self-determination. My role is not to do everything for them, but instead support them so they have the confidence to know they CAN do it on their own.

 

mother & baby

During this period, there are prominent aspects that I give specific attention to. These include: emotional support, physical comfort of the mother, self-care, infant care, education, partner support, sibling support, referrals, and household organization. Though I focus on each of these aspects with every client, my role as their doula looks different for each one. I must assess their specific needs depending on their individualized preferences and provide evidence based information for the mother to make the best informed decision regarding what is best for herself and her baby. 

Anything outside my scope of practice requires a referral, as doulas are not medical professionals. This includes having a rolodex of professionals including certified lactation consultants, postpartum therapists, physical therapists specializing in women’s reproductive systems including before, during and after labor into the postpartum period, among many others. 

As their doula, my focus is on “mothering the mother”, meaning I ensure that self-care is foremost, especially if a new mother has had a cesarean section. Proper nutrition, rest, and fluids are top priority. I am a companion, always there to listen in a non-judgmental environment and ready to provide resources, referrals and options to decrease feelings of worry/concern, stress, and segregation from life before they gave birth. 

postpartum doulas support mothers & their babies

Why Work with a Postpartum Doula?

Women have been nurtured and cared for since the beginning of time from various individuals including family, neighbors, and friends. There are numerous benefits that come from being supported by a Postpartum Doula, much like the support for those in your tribe. Mothers and partners do not feel so alone and gain confidence with the help of a doula, as the doulas role is to affirm that these individuals are right on track. Showing your confidence in them allows them to grow more confidence in themselves and trust the decisions that they are making. 

Having a Postpartum Doula assists not only in instilling confidence but also helps the parent truly understand their newborn. The first 5-7 days are an extreme roller coaster, with hormonal changes and body recovery, all the while getting to know a new member or members of the family. I help those caring for the newborn learn how to interpret cries, body language, reflexes, and those super sweet baby sounds that occur. With wisdom and gentleness, as your Postpartum Doula, I am able to guide you through this journey! 

A Day (or Night) in the Life of a Postpartum Doula

Doulas work around the clock because let’s face it, newborns do everything on their own terms. They eat when they want, they sleep when they want, and we are there to make sure they are happy! Every single day and every single shift is different. Many doulas choose to work minimum 3-4 hour shifts, though I work as little or as much (up to 8 hours) as my client desires. I chose to provide my shifts in 60 minute increments due to no limitations on self-care. If a new mother is having some anxiety about leaving her newborn but just really wants to get a pedicure, I am there. If she wants to take a nice, long, hot shower and know her newborn is well cared for, I am there. If she just wants to enjoy a coffee alone, I am there.

 

I always check in with a client before arriving to see if there is anything they need me to pick up for them. Some place grocery orders and I pick them up on the way, some simply want an iced latte. Some have medication that they have not been able to pick up, and some simply say no thanks. First two things I always do upon arrival is remove my shoes and wash my hands. 

Depending on the needs of the client, a typical shift consists of A LOT of baby wearing. Sometimes I wash bottles and fold laundry while wearing the baby. Sometimes I simply sit and listen to my client talk about their fears and concerns while bouncing on a medicine ball with their newborn in my arms. Active listening is the key, as you are there solely for them, to guide them, to support them, to listen to them, to validate their feelings and concerns. 

Sometimes, the mother just gives me a few instructions and cannot wait to leave for a few hours! I wash a lot of bottles, fold a lot of baby clothes, and get spit up on A LOT! I show new mothers how to engage their baby to properly open their mouth for a successful latch when they are having breastfeeding issues, I place breastmilk into baggies and properly label them and wash pumping supplies. I support new mothers who are having difficulties breastfeeding and refer them to some amazing certified lactation consultants.

Working an overnight shift means a lot of newborn snuggles! I love working overnight shifts, the main reason being I know how exhausting it can be and being able to provide support for new parents in the form of getting uninterrupted sleep is priceless. Whether it be snuggling a newborn all night who will not sleep otherwise, to feeding and changing them on cue, to light household chores that do not cause a disruption; overnight shifts are very rewarding. The most rewarding part is when morning comes and one or both of the parents look well rested and are beyond elated that they got more than two hours of sleep without having to get up. 

Becoming a Postpartum Doula has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. It is far beyond just a career. Nothing compares to knowing you are making a difference in the lives of others at their most vulnerable times. These individuals invite us Doulas into their lives and their homes, and in turn, we provide them with invaluable support that allows them to be the best they can be.


Wendy Quast is a Postpartum Doula and the founder of Seattle Day Doula. She has over twenty years of hands-on childcare experience and received her postpartum certification from Bastyr University. Interested in working with Wendy? Book visits using this link or send an email to admin@seattledaydoula.com

Support Your Hormonal Health With Nutrition

When it comes to our hormones, what we consume matters. However, there is not one diet that works for every single person. Food is neither bad nor good-rather, bio-individuality predicts that we all react to what we consume differently.  When we begin to assign morality to what we consume, we can develop perfectionist attitudes and an unhealthy cycle of shame around our food choices. This behavior can cause an immense amount of stress that cannot only be dangerous but will have a detrimental impact on our hormones. 

In my own work, before even exploring different foods that may help or hinder happy hormones, I work with my clients to cultivate intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is the skill of making decisions about what we consume based upon a place of listening to our own authentic needs rather than ascribing to pressure from outside ourselves to eat a certain way. We begin with the understanding that our nutrition has a unique effect on our mental, physical and emotional state. From there, my client identifies exactly how they want to feel in their mind, body and spirit and begin to make nutritional choices based on their own intrinsic desires and motivations.  

Our physiology, goals, health history, and struggles are all so vastly different. With some basic understandings about what we need to nourish our bodies on a daily basis, we can determine what is right for us. Below I share the essentials to maintaining hormonal health from a nutritional perspective. 

stabilize your blood sugar to support your nutritionStabilize your blood sugar.

Do you ever wake up, drink a cup of coffee on an empty stomach, run out the door with a muffin in your hand and an hour later feel shaky and hungry? What about an intense craving for caffeine or something sweet around 3PM? Do you find yourself consistently hangry or moody when a few hours ago you felt great? This is dysregulated blood sugar.

When our blood sugar spikes, our pancreas releases insulin in an effort to convert the sugar in our bloodstream into energy for our cells. Our bodies are designed to deal with this chain reaction sporadically. However, our modern lives are filled with sneaky sugar and pre-packaged, nutrient deprived foods to eat on ‘the go,’ causing us to experience these effects constantly.

When our insulin levels rise so do our cortisol levels. Refer to my previous post on how high cortisol can impact our sex hormones. There are also insulin receptors on our ovaries and when we have high levels of insulin production, our ovaries can respond by overproducing testosterone instead of estrogen. This can cause us to ovulate infrequently or not at all.

What are some culprits of dysregulated blood sugar?

  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • simple carbohydrates/refined grains found in pasta, white bread, baked goods
  • refined sugar found in sauces, sodas, candy, nut butters-read your labels!
  • even high glycemic fruit like pineapple, mango and banana

Do your best to limit your consumption of these foods and beverages, especially if you notice symptoms of dysregulated blood sugar (low energy, headache, insatiable appetite). In addition, when sitting down for a meal or reaching for a snack, make sure that there are good sources of healthy fats and/or proteins present. By implementing these macronutrients, our bodies are better equipped to maintain stabilized blood sugar allowing you to experience sustained energy, moods and happier, more balanced hormones. 

inflammatory foodsBe aware of how you react to inflammatory foods.

Dairy, caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol, gluten, eggs, soy and peanuts are some of the biggest culprits of inflammation. Inflammation in our bodies is responsible for most chronic conditions and can contribute to painful periods, skin issues like acne, anxiety and chronic fatigue. We are not all reactive to these items but when trying to identify the root cause of a symptom, a good place to start is examining your experience with these common culprits. Cutting these foods out in a way that aligns with your life and goals may give you more answers as to what your system can handle and what it cannot.

drinking water is key to nutritionDrink water.

Many of us are in a chronic state of dehydration, which has a direct effect on our body’s ability to function optimally. Aim to consume at least half your body weight in ounces daily or more if you are very active. 

Consume mainly whole foods from clean sources.

At the end of the day, our body’s function optimally when we nourish ourselves with the nutrients that come from the abundance of food our planet provides. The plants and animals with the greatest nutrients are ones that have lived in an environment that is free from toxic chemicals. Do your best to consume organic, non-GMO, grass-fed, free-range and wild caught. You really are what you eat. Here are some examples of nutrient packed foods that support happy hormones and optimal reproductive functioning: 

  • cruciferous vegetables: kale, cabbage and brussel sprouts
  • seaweed and kelp 
  • healthy fats: olive oil, avocado, seeds and nuts
  • omega-3 rich foods: sardines, flax seeds, walnuts and salmon
  • organ meats… I know, I know, but they are some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet! Organ meats are especially beneficial for women preparing for pregnancy.

If you are currently experiencing symptoms of hormone imbalance, I urge you to experiment with what you consume from a place of curiosity. Take note of how you feel as you make subtle changes and let your findings guide your decision making on how best to nourish yourself moving forward. 


If implementing diet and lifestyle changes seems overwhelming or you feel as though you need support on your journey, please contact Lizzy at wellwomen@lizzymoran.com! You don’t have to walk this path alone.

Want to have a deeper understanding of your menstrual cycle? Check out Lizzy’s first blog post in the series.

Curious about the keys to happy hormones? Check out Lizzy’s second blog post in the series.

Your Guide to Happy Hormones

The Basics

When it comes to optimizing our hormonal health and well-being, starting with the very basics can seem almost too simple. We are programmed to think that a pill or a potion has the capacity to fix us faster and better. The truth is, if we don’t have the basic foundations of health in place like quality sleep, getting out in nature, moving our bodies daily and consuming water than all of that money we shell out on products, pills and potions will be a waste.  

I get it, changing our behaviors can be hard which is why the lure of a pill or potion is so strong!  When navigating implementing new behavior changes, I urge you to reflect on your values; your WHY for making the change. This is the first powerful step to creating a sustainable shift in your behavior. Secondly, start small and change what aligns with your life right now. Forget the shoulds or the all or nothing mindset. What is one thing that seems manageable and maybe even exciting for you to implement in this moment?

sleep is essential for happy hormonesSleep

When it comes to happy hormones we must prioritize sleep. While recognizing that everyone’s life is different and access to a good night sleep can be difficult or seemingly impossible depending on your work or familial responsibilities. Identify what your barriers are for sleep and try to address them.

Are you staring at a blue light past 8PM? When your body is exposed to light (especially blue light) past sunset, it can disrupt the communication between your brain and your ovaries.  Put the phone/laptop/tablet down and pick up that book that’s been collecting dust on your bedside table. Maybe when you first get into bed, squeeze in a mini meditation. Insight Timer is a free app and has many meditations designed to help you drift off to sleep. 

Get into the sun EVERYDAY! Sunlight regulates our circadian rhythm allowing us to sleep more soundly at night. This may not be easy for everyone! If you live in a place that doesn’t always see the sun like in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, then get your Vitamin D levels checked (in an ideal world your levels would be around 50) and talk to your healthcare practitioner about supplementation. Vitamin D is critical for hormone balance.

Managing stress

The physiological response to stress can have many different causes:  

  • food sensitivities or allergies 
  • past traumas 
  • negative self-talk, perfectionist tendencies, people pleasing
  • family
  • work
  • finances
  • climate change
  • over-exercising

The list goes on. How does this impact our hormones? When we are stressed the hormone cortisol is released.  In small bouts, this is normal and healthy. However, many of us are in hyper drive and in response our adrenals are pump out excess amounts of cortisol. The big issue is progesterone, the hormone that keeps us feeling calm and at peace, is the precursor to cortisol. When we are in a state of stress our adrenals require progesterone in order create cortisol. Progesterone is also responsible for nourishing and maintaining the endometrial lining of our uterus for an embryo to be implanted and carried to term. 

When we’re stressed all of the time, regardless of what that stressor is, our progesterone levels can be diminished quickly causing an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. When estrogen is the dominant hormone we are susceptible to a whole bunch of unsavory symptoms like anxiety, breast tenderness and night sweats. 

So where do we begin? Identify some of your biggest sources of stress. Can you remove ONE item off of your plate or modify it in some way? 

Then, identify what brings you to a state of relaxation. That feeling where you can (almost) let go of all that is demanding your attention. This can be as simple as taking three deep breaths, which is scientifically proven to engage your parasympathetic nervous system and downregulate your stress response. Try out one of the many different forms of meditation or yoga.  Go for a walk outside or take five minutes to laugh and connect with a family member or friend.

Identify what it is that allows you to let go of your daily worries, even if just for a moment. Do your best to incorporate your chosen technique as often as possible. It does not have to be perfect, just easy to implement so that it serves as respite and not another chore to add to your already overflowing plate. Inhale. Exhale.

Environmental Toxins

We live in a world where there are toxins in almost every thing we come in contact with from the food we eat to the products we put on our bodies. One of the biggest hindrances on our hormonal health are endocrine disruptors. Xenoestrogens are found as naturally occurring compounds in plants or in synthetic chemicals. Both types of xenoestrogens can interfere with our hormonal communication due to the similarity in molecular structure to the hormones we naturally produce in our body.

Some places to explore decreasing your exposures to endocrine disruptors are:

  • Switch your natural beauty products. (makeup, shampoo/conditioner, body lotion, deodorant). Look for products that that are free from phthalates.
  • Do your best to consume mostly organic fruits, vegetables and dairy products and grass fed, free range meat.
  • Switch to natural cleaning products.
  • Filter your drinking water. You can check out what toxins are in your city’s water source by going to EWG.com.

This topic is vast and can be overwhelming for many including myself. My suggestion is to start with what sounds easy and accept that we will never rid our lives of all toxins, our bodies are resilient and we can only do our best.

Remember, before anything else, identify why you want to make a change. This step is crucial when you are tempted to go back to your old habits. Then choose one or two things from this list that you would like to implement. Behavior change is a process that does not happen overnight. Starting with these three areas will set a solid foundation for any additional forms of healing you include in your wellness routine. 


If you have questions or concerns about your menstrual cycle or are curious about working with Lizzy, please set up a free 30-minute consultation on her website: www.lizzymoran.com

Want to have a deeper understanding of your menstrual cycle? Check out Lizzy’s first blog post in the series.