The following are products I absolutely love to use when under stress, anxious or, simply when wanting to calm the mind;
a. Rescue Remedy: This is a homeopathic spray that you can carry in your pocket and use as needed. It will not make you sleepy, but it will definitely calm your nerves. I have also used their "Rescue Night" and it is also effective in helping inducing sleepy mode. You can order this from: www.well.ca
b. Tulsi Sweet Rose Tea: I first tried this tea at a Yoga training. I fell in love immediately. It is soothing, calming and it really does slow down the thinking mind without making you drowsy. You can order this from: www.iherb.com
c. Weighted blankets: These blankets are of different weights they are usually hand made so they can be expensive. However, due to their weight, they help adults and children feel grounded, comfortable and anxious free to sleep. I recently got one and I absolutely love it! It feels like someone is hugging me while I sleep....and I ADORE hugs! You can order yours from; www.blanketsthathug.com
d. Dewdrop Aromatherapy Diffuser : This diffuser from Young Living Oils is one of my favourites! it is small but it is strong and it stays on for several hours. The best part is that it turns off on its own! I have one in my bedroom and it is on most nights. You can order yours from: www.youngliving.com
e. Lavender Oil: This type of oil is well known for its calming effects. It will not only help with your sleeping (diffused or on your skin) but it will also give your bedroom an incredibly peaceful scent. I personally find it grounding and fresh. You can order it from: www.youngliving.com
d. Eye Pillows: I love, love, love the Halfmoon eye pillows! they are filled with flax seeds and you can order them with lavender scent! I use them to meditate, and also to enhance following asleep. They come in cute different fabrics and are made in Canada! You can order one from www.halfmoon.com
It was about 7 years ago, when I visited my family doctor's office looking to receive a prescription that would lower my high levels of stress and that would alleviate my anxiety. For two years, I had been working more than 40 hours a week on a highly demanding job that used to follow me home. This job was taking over my life and I had not even noticed it. All I knew is that "all of the sudden" I had so much stress that I could hardly cope with the day to day minor tasks of life. I postponed the visit to the doctor's for as long as I could, always thinking that I could control my state of mind all by myself. Until one day, while at work, I began crying unexpectedly for no apparent reason. At that point, I knew I needed to get some help.
I told all my worries and symptoms to the doctor and finished by asking him to please prescribe me a medication that would get rid of my uncomfortable feelings. He listened carefully to all I had to say, took notes and grabbed his prescription paper pad. He wrote in it, ripped it off and handed it to me. With a gentle smile on his face he told me his prescription was to read a couple of books and then he said; "go back to your cushion and to your meditation practice". He also wrote me a note to be away from work for 4 consecutive weeks.
My doctor knew that before I started that job, I had been teaching and practicing meditation with my clients. In my very absent-minded state, I wondered how he knew that I had stopped teaching and practicing meditation. I admit feeling frustrated that his prescription did not include a pill that could easily solve my symptoms.
I walked away with my prescription, straight to the book store. I bought my books, un-dusted my meditation cushion and began the process that I later called "the project to find me". After battling with the feeling of inadequacy for having to take time off work, I was surprised to see what happened to my mind and body simply by knowing that I did not have to go into my stressful job for 4 weeks. It was like I had been given permission to put everything on pause to breath and to calm down.
I remember my initial resistance to going back to meditation. Although I suspected it was the answer to my prayers, I knew for a fact, that it was going to require mental discipline, willingness to get better and, most importantly, dedication of time to observe my current state of mind, which I had been hoping to ignore. I now recognize that within all of us resides this same ambivalence; a part of us wants to heal and, a part of us isn't willing to do the work that healing calls for.
As I began to read the books prescribed, I came across a phrase that kept me going through this journey; "the only way out is through". I told myself that phrase every day like a mantra, like a prayer. For some reason it filled me with strength and patience. And despite the resistance I continued to have about meditating, I decided to commit to a daily practice.
Every morning, as soon as I opened my eyes, still in a sleepy mode, I would make my way to the cushion and sit there in silence. The first week, those 10 minutes felt like an eternity. My body developed all kinds of itches and twitches. And my mind would think of every kind of creative thought to distract me from the silence. Not too patiently, I would bring my attention to the breath, time after time.
Not all practices were pleasant, in fact, the majority of them were not. I had to sit and observe feelings and thoughts that had been scaring and paralyzing me for a long time. I was challenged to treat those feelings and emotions as friendly visitors and welcoming them for "a cup of tea" rather than turning them away (as I had been doing). As much as this seemed to be a bad idea at the time, I can still clearly remember the sensation of freedom and liberation that came with being able to hold my attention still, while those scary emotions and thoughts went through my body.
During those four weeks, I noticed that my self-compassion increased tremendously. I had become less judgmental of myself and my situation. I noticed that my stress levels began to lower and that my anxious mind was craving more and more the quiet moments in meditation. Effortlessly, I began engaging in creative projects that made me happy and, suddenly doing things that were kind toward myself, was becoming easier and I was actually enjoying it.
Four weeks of daily meditation made my burnout diminished to the point that I was able to return to work, with better boundaries and a clear mind. That was the first and last time I ever experienced burnout. Far from what I thought, meditation was in fact the only medication I needed to return to kindness and self-love. This lesson has had lasting effects in my personal and professional life and I will be forever thankful towards the doctor who had the wisdom and the vision to trust my natural abilities to heal and to love. Without his faith in me and in the power of meditation, I strongly believe the outcome of my story would have been much different.
Let meditation be the medication you have been missing. Its side effects will transform your life. Its dosage is: once or twice a day. You cannot overdose.
Thanks for reading, from my heart to yours, Namaste.
Just a few days ago my husband an I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days with an indigenous community in a remote area of Peru. While we were making our travel arrangements, we told the person helping us that we were very interested in learning some more about the natives in the community and he said "I know the place" he proceeded to tell us about this rural community and how they would be more than open to host us in their homes, to show us their culture and traditions. Just one look at my husband and I knew he was equally excited about this opportunity as I was. Without any hesitation we agreed to visit them.
Going in, we knew that the experience was going to be different from what we usually do on trips, but what we did not know was that we were going to be reminded of the essentials to a happy life in such a gentle and inspiring way. I was so touched by this experience that I decided to share it with you all.
After flying from Lima to Cusco, we took a taxi to a rural area outside of Cusco where a native man named "Luis" was waiting for us at a meeting point on the road. Wearing a colourful poncho and with a big smile, Luis greeted us and showed us the way to a vehicle parked on the road. All three of us got in the vehicle which was being driven by another man. Luis explained that we had another 25 minutes drive to their community. Curios and wanting to learn more about Luis, my husband and I began to ask him many questions. Shortly after, we realized that he spoke little Spanish and later we heard him speak to the driver in a language that neither one of us could identify, tho I suspected he was speaking Quechua (the language of the Incas). We then proceeded to enjoy the view around us and take pictures.
After driving up the mountains for a while, Luis turned to look at us and said "we are here", we saw a sign that said "Welcome to the Misminay Community". The car stopped, we got out and noticed that there was a group of men a women dressed in traditional clothing, waiting with instruments. A women from the group came to us and greeted us warmly. She said that from that point on, we were going to walk to their home. We grabbed our bags and began walking by their side. The women sang songs and the men played instruments as we walked to Flora and Cirio's home. Upon our arrival to their home, they asked us to stand with them forming a semi-circle or, the shape of a half moon, as they said. So we did. Flora who seemed to be the spokes person for the group took a step forward and gave each of us a bracelet that was made by women in their community. Then she proceeded to tell us that we were to introduce each other in order to become familiar with one another. She was the first one to start. She introduced her self as "Flora, age 35, married and with no children", one by one they told us their name, their age, their marital status and, how many children they had. When it came to our turn, we followed their lead and introduced ourselves the same way. Once the introductions were completed, Flora invited us into her dinning room for tea. That was the first of many meals that we shared with them.
Given that there were language barriers, Chris and I spent a lot of time observing them. One experience we both found interesting is that we were invited to work with the men on the field, peeling the corn that they had just collected. We were given the tools and shown the way to the field. As soon as we arrived to the field, Chris and I were ready to start the work. Then Luis very gently told us that in their tradition they could not begin working without first having a small ceremony of gratitude. In his broken Spanish, he explained the steps of this ritual. Another man opened a small whole on the dirt, and before anything, they asked the mountains one by one for permission to work. Then, they fed the land by pouring "chicha" (a traditional drink) on that whole that they had created. Luis explained that in they believe that we must take care of mother earth before we take care of our selves. A man who appeared to be the eldest of the group, gave each of us three coca leaves. Without talking, he showed us how to grab them with our thumb and index finger. He then asked us to offer those leaves to mother earth but, to ask for three wishes before we placed them in the same whole the chicha had been poured. We each took turns and did it. Once he had thanked the mountains for the work ahead and once we had set three intentions and fed the land, we were then ready to start the work. I thought about that gesture for a while, I kept thinking how each of us would experience our work differently if we spent the time each morning to be thankful for the work and to set three good intentions for the day. The other aspect of this experience that called my attention, was the happiness with which these men went to work the land. As for me, I really enjoyed peeling corn, something that I had never done in an open field.
The next interesting surprise was when we noticed that this particular community is self-sufficient. Everything they eat, they cultivate or, they breed. Every person in their community works for the community and they help each other. Their day starts at 4:00 am and by 8:00pm when is completely dark, and all you can see are the shinning stars, they go to bed, and so did we. Interestingly enough we fell asleep shortly after we went to bed, even tho earlier we were wondering what were we going to do with our time after they had gone to bed. We learned that without the distractions that we have at home, like t.v., cell phones, etc... our bodies are more than happy to fall asleep at 8pm.
The next morning we woke up bright and early and after having breakfast, Flora took us to the top of the mountain in which their community is located. We walked up hill for about 40 minutes. We walked slowly, as she was telling us that they walk slowly to ensure that they do not get short of breath. I appreciated every step of the way, I did notice my urge to walk faster initially, but later my mind and body seemed to have relaxed and the speed was no longer a factor. We made it to the top and from there, observed some beautiful Inca ruins. Amazed by the view, I told Flora how happy I was feeling. She then told me that when her and her husband get bored at home, they climb that mountain and sit quietly, "it changes the way you feel" she said. once again, there I was reflecting on her words. Imagine what life would be like, if eacf of us went for a walk in nature whenever we felt bored!!!! Another lesson that I plan on putting into practice!
And last but not least, Chris and I were amazed to observe the generosity and overall happiness of this community. They live in what many would describe as poverty, yet we noticed that they are in fact rich in so many ways. first, they feel that they have all that they need (health, family, food and a roof over their head), they celebrate each day the fact that they have work to do, food to eat and family to share it all. They do everything in harmony to ensure that like mother earth, they are always in balance and, lastly they welcome everyone with open arms to share their richness and wisdom. We recommend this experience to anyone wanting to discover the essentials of a happy life from a different perspective!
A client of mine passed away this morning.
"It is a beautiful morning" is what I said when I first opened my eyes today. From the comfort of my own bed I could observe the bright blue sky and the trees that were standing in between, waiting for me to wake up. I went about my morning as I usually do, kissed my loved ones (husband and dog) and got ready to go to my yoga class. I left my home with my heart full and with the only intention to enjoy my day.
Shortly after I finished the class, I said to the instructor, “wow I feel alive”, it had been a challenging class, which the instructor referred to as a “fire class”, where you are meant to connect with the fire of your core, and feel exactly as I was feeling, fully alive. All my muscles were awake, my mind was alert.
As I arrived to my office I noticed I had a new text message. The message said “Olga, our friend Steve passed away this morning”. I read the text for about 2 minutes, put it away and began to contemplate the interesting contrasts of life. There I was feeling so alive, as one of my clients had taken his last breath. Interestingly enough, I did not feel sad. I felt a glimpse of fresh air running near me, and I had a mental image of a bird flying free on a blue sky. I knew, Steve was telling me that he was now free.
I thought the best way to honour his life was by meditating on our interactions, and the lessons learned. Steve had first come to see me 3 months ago, when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. His personal trainer (also a friend of mine) had gifted him his first session with me. I realize now, that the gift was not just for Steve, it was also for me. And I am grateful for that.
During our first session, I asked Steve to tell me when had he agreed to this illness. I know this is a weird question to ask, but to Steve it made sense. He immediately told me that the day his father had been diagnosed with prostate cancer he said to himself ; “I am next”. This was the first of many conversations and realizations Steve and I had.
Two weeks ago, he was waiting for me in the waiting area of my office. I asked him, “how are you today?” and he said “not good”, I could tell his voice had broken down by his crying. I asked him to come into the room, where with much effort, he climbed on the massage bed and laid down for his Reiki treatment. He proceeded to tell me that just before he left to come see me, his doctor had call to let him know that there was nothing else they could do for him but to prescribe him medication to cope with the pain and the bleeding.
Up to that day, I had been a source of optimism and positivism for Steve and I knew it. But given the circumstances that day I was beginning to feel that I was unable to provide this wonderful man a word of optimism. His sadness and the worry mixed with my own emotions, left me on a professional and mental "blank". I had no idea what to say or do, so I asked my higher self to guide me. What can I possibly say that would make him feel optimistic and positive? Then, rushing through the air, this word came into my mind and mental vision;
At that moment I understood that I was being asked to speak to Steve to accept his current condition and to stop fighting it. Before I had a chance to say anything, Steve said “I’m still fighting this thing, but I do not know what else to do”. I took that comment as sign that I was right in my feeling to speak to him about acceptance. (Trust me, this has been by far one of the most difficult conversations I have ever had.) I looked at Steve and told him to accept his illness and to stop fighting it, as the fight was further stressing his body. The conversation lasted about an hour. We talked about how he wanted to spend his last days, the conversations he was going to have with his children and wife later that day and, we even discussed the beauty of life. As the conversations developed, I noticed his tears stopped, and his breathing became longer and deeper. When the session was done, he made sure he scheduled me for his next appointment first thing the following week.
He came in the next Monday walking without much pain, climbed on the bed without major difficulties and had a calming energy that I had never perceived coming from him. I couldn’t help my curiosity and I asked him, what had changed since I last saw him. In the sweetest of voices Steve said to me “Well, you told me to accept it, and so I did”. As I positioned my hand over his body preparing for Reiki, I noticed a welcoming, warm and flowing energy, the kind of energy you sense on a child full of life. I knew I had asked him to accept his condition, but it surprised me to see how courageous and strong Steve had become. He told me he had discussed with his wife and children all the details of his funeral, his last wishes and so forth, there were no tears in his eyes but almost a shy smile on his face. I will forever be grateful to Steve for showing me how acceptance is actually felt.
During his last days, we was hospitalized. On his way to the hospital he texted me to let me know he was on his way there. A day later, he called me at 6:40am to let me know he had had a horrible night and was in much pain, he said I did not have to go but that I was “more than welcome” to go visit him. In a strange way, I knew he was asking me to be there, because somehow we had developed that relationship of comfort with each other. So I did, I went to visit him two days ago. I did some Reiki and he told me he was having visions, he said he was seeing beautiful colourful silhouettes that were teasing him. We both laughed and when I asked, how was he with the acceptance thing, he energetically said “Oh I am ready”as he finished that sentence I knew this was the last time we were seeing each other. I held his hand and asked him to rest, to which he responded “yes ma’am”.
As I was coming home this morning thinking of him and that last visit, I remembered that in one of our conversations he had told me that if we could do it all over again, he would have "worked less, spend more time with his wife and children and would have paid more attention to the little things”. I felt his words were not just for me, but for the rest of the planet, so I decided to blog about our relationship in here.
I hope that if you read this, there is some learning in here for you. I hope you find Steve’s strength and courage inspirational, and if there is anything in your life that you need to accept, I encourage you to do so. Life begins the moment we allow it to flow naturally through us.
As for you Steve, thanks for the lessons, thanks for the laughs and tears you shared with me. Fly high, safe travels and we shall meet again.
From my heart to yours, thanks for reading.
"The only way out is through"
Recipe for self-love, self-growth, self-awareness and self-acceptance
1. Visualize. Before you get out of bed picture the kind of day you are going to have. See how everything will flow that day, how everything that will happen is meant to happen for your best interest. Know that every interaction will be there to help you, to teach you. See how love and abundance will be a part of your day. And set that intention for the day.
2. Meditate twice a day. First thing in the morning and before going to bed.
3. Talk to yourself. Tell yourself as often as you can how much you love yourself.
4. Exercise. Get your endorphins active. What type of physical activities do you enjoy doing most? Do them as often as possible 5-7 times a week
5. Speak with love. Watch your language. Use positive affirmations, loving words towards yourself and others. Look for new ways of looking at your reality. What is working well? What is hiding behind the so perceived “troubles”?
6. Eat clean: We are what we eat. To love one-self means to do it in every possible way. Loving your body also means that you will feed it the foods that you know will make it healthy, vibrant, and energized. What are those foods for you? Be discipline, each meal is a way of telling yourself how much you love yourself.
7. Gratitude list. Everyday brings many reasons to be grateful for. Take a moment out of your day, to write them down or say them to someone. Gratitude is the best way to multiply that which we love and enjoy.
Do this for seven days, seven consecutive times for a total of 49 days.