7 Ways to Nourish your Body, Mind, & Spirit this Autumn

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When autumn arrives, it brings with it cooler weather, colorful leaves, and a comfort that the exuberant bustle of summer has come to an end.

Autumn is the time for us to take a look at both our environment and inside ourselves, identify what we should cherish and keep, and what we need to let go of.

Just like a tree hangs on to it's branches, but decides it's time to let go of it's leaves in preparation for winter.

Autumn is associated with the metal element in Chinese Medicine. The metal organs are Lung and Large Intestine, the color is white, and the emotions are grief and sadness.

It's helpful for our health and well being to be in tune with the sun, the moon, and our planet and it's seasons.

Here are 7 ways to nourish your body, mind, and spirit this autumn.

 

1. Do an Autumn Clearing... Externally.

Scraping away the dirt and clutter reveals the gems and metals, the precious elements. 

Go through your home and office and get rid of things you no longer have a use for, find beautiful or inspirational. With the only pause being a moment of gratitude for the purpose an item did serve us, and then letting it go gracefully. 

You're left with only the essentials and beautiful items that inspire you. 

 

2. Do an Autumn Clearing... Internally.

Complete a number of journal sessions focusing on emotions, particularly try to identify any emotional patterns that are negative to you or your relationships. 

Are we holding on to any grudges? Do we have any habits that we started with good intention that just are not healthy or producing good results? 

Also try to identify all things that are not useful or contributing to your life or your health and create new patterns and agreements in it's place.

 

3. Add Pungent Foods and White Foods

You've heard "eat the rainbow." This also goes for white foods such as daikon radishes, turnips, and cauliflower.

Add pungent foods such as herbs and spices. Garlic (also white!) onion (also can be white!), ginger, thyme, rosemary, sage, mustard, and radishes. These foods are especially good at supporting the immune system, which is always a good idea when the weather changes and as we approach winter and colder weather.

Also enjoy foods in season such as fresh figs, apples, pears and winter squash. 

 

4. Do as the Sun Does

The amount of daylight decreases... it stays darker later in the morning and gets darker earlier at night. This is a sign from nature that slowing down after the summer and resting more is what our bodies need to stay balanced and healthy.

If you can, sleep when the sun sleeps and rise when the sun rises. Stay in most nights after the sun goes down and spend time resting and connecting with your loved ones.

 

5. Breathe Intentionally

The lungs and large intestine are the organs of the season. Take time to do intentional breathing exercises daily to support the lungs. 

My favorite is done lying on the back with one hand on the belly and the other on the chest.

Follow a square breathing pattern of 4-4-4-4: 4 seconds inhale through the nose, hold for 4, exhale through the nose for 4, hold for 4.

A really nice alternative is to follow this pattern, but extend the exhale to 8-11 seconds out pursed lips. The bonus of this is you'll be activating your parasympathetic nervous system which is always a healthy thing to do (also activates the immune system!).

 

6. Get a Colonic

Since autumn is the lung and large intestine time of year, it's the best time of year to support your colon with colon hydrotherapy (which I talk more about in the blog post Methods of Natural and Alternative Medicine I Love: Part 1). Colonics are safe when done sparingly. 

 

7. Find Balanced structure... either from chaos or rigidity.

We all have one dominant characteristic of each of 5 Elements (Metal, Earth, Fire, Wood, and Water) but we also have characteristics of all of them.

The metal element in balance is fair, has integrity, and is structured. The metal element out of balance turns into authoritativeness, hypocrisy, and rigidity. (from AgelessHerbs.com).

Have you lost balance with the structure of your life, your day, or your work? Have you become too rigid or controlling in certain relationships? Now is the time of year to forgive yourself and get in touch with the metal element. 

 

To your health and healing,

Mandi

 
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6 Tried-&-True Ways to Beat Insomnia

 
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Are you one of the unfortunate souls that knows the torture of lying awake hour after hour while the rest of the world slumbers? If you're reading this page, you or someone you love suffers from insomnia.

You know how different your day is going to be if you've slept well or not. And if you haven't slept, you also know what you're in for that day: sluggish memory, brain fog, low energy to name a few.

If you're lucky, a nap is in your schedule.

You know the value of a good night sleep (and you may even appreciate it more than someone who hasn't experienced insomnia). This only adds to the anxiety of being awake... knowing that you're not getting the rest your body needs.

Sleep is one of a human's basic needs. We need air, water, food, and SLEEP to live. It's heartbreaking to our spirit when we don't sleep, night after night, after night.

I've had this life altering struggle just like you. 

Stress was the ultimate trigger. If something happened that day that was remotely stressful, I would lie awake at night feeling the anxiety. 

It happened more and more... it was as if I had sent an invitation to my nervous system to be anxious in the middle of the night for 3 or 4 hours every other night. This went on for about 3 years.

The truth is, it took some trial and error to find what worked for me. 

And if you're still suffering, hang in there. There IS a concoction of remedies and behaviors that will do the trick.

Here are 5 things you can do for a better night sleep that have worked for myself and for my clients.

1. Create a calming nighttime ritual

Even if you haven't had a particularly stressful day, and your parasympathetic nervous system is already kicked on, the routine of a calming nighttime ritual will tell your body it's time for bed. It will know that once this ritual is done, the next step is slumber.

Every night when I take my dogs out to use the loo one last time, I also use this time for myself. This is when I take the opportunity to do 15 minutes of qigong, then gaze at the moon and stars and spiritually ground myself.

After that, it's time for calming lemon balm tea and reading in bed. My eyes soon get heavy after about 20 minutes.

I recommend reading something that is not too stimulating... no crime, violence, or murder mysteries here. I personally stick to inspiring, uplifting, non-fiction before bed.

 

2. Wear orange glasses to block blue light after dark.

First, you have to be aware of our circadian rhythm, particularly with cortisol and melatonin. Ideally, we make the most cortisol in the morning when we wake up and see first light. Melatonin is stimulated by darkness and we start producing it in the evening, as long as we're not taking in too much artificial light.

By exposing ourselves to too much artificial light in the evening, particularly blue light, we are breaking this natural cycle and we fail to produce enough melatonin.

Humans evolved over the warm, orange glow of fire... not the blue light emitted from televisions, tablets, or smart phones. Blue light is particularly harmful in the evenings.

You can opt to wear orange pair of glasses at night if you watch TV or catch up on social media. I have this cheap pair. 

If you're not into screens at night, but still use artificial lighting (as most of us do) consider using very dim incandescent light bulbs which offer orange-tinted lighting. Avoid LED and natural light which give off a brighter, whiter light at night in your home. 

You could always go old fashioned and use beeswax candles! 

 

3. Breathing

When you do find yourself having difficulty either falling asleep or falling back to sleep, I've found this breathing technique to be amazingly helpful.

1. Lying on your back, place your hands on your belly.

2. Gently inhale through the nose for a count of 4, hold the breath for a count of 4.

3. Then, for your exhale with a slightly closed throat (almost as if you were trying to snore) let the air pass through your compressed throat (out your nose, keeping your mouth closed) for a count of 11.

4. This allows the air to escape much slower and as you're compressing your throat, you're activating the vagus nerve which turns on your parasympathetic nervous system.

5. Then, hold wait 4 seconds before taking your next 4 second inhale.

This only needs to be done about 6 times.

 

4. Get spiritual

I can't tell you how many times I've fallen asleep praying... even when I wasn't trying to!

Pray however and to whomever you normally do. I've found that just having this conversation, while also asking to be surrounded in white light has kind of worked like magic for me when I was awake for hours in the middle of the night.

 

5. THIS PODCAST/RADIO SHOW by Anthony william

Of course, there were nights where none of my tricks worked. Unless you get to the root cause of your chronic insomnia, it will never completely go away.

My insomnia stopped being chronic when I not only went plant-based, but when I implemented recommendations from Anthony William in this podcast. 

The info here helped me get to the root cause of my insomnia and now I only can't sleep when my mind is trying to solve a problem, or experiencing anxiety over a situation.

In the former case, I take a deep breath, imagine it wrapped up in a box, and set in on a shelf to stow away for tomorrow. For anxiety, I use numbers 3 and 4. 

 

6. Turn off electronics and keep them away from you!

For a few years, I was addicted to having my phone on my night stand. I used it as a clock, an alarm, and I was even guilty of surfing Pintrest when I couldn't sleep (NEVER use an electronic device when you can't sleep!). 

Turn. it. off. And then don't have it anywhere near you! Don't even keep it in the bedroom.

And buy yourself an analog or old fashioned alarm clock with NO blue light. 

Also, once we started unplugging our internet, my husband and I found that we both experienced a deeper sleep. 

The EMF's from the internet and these electronic devices keep your nervous system excited... and that's the LAST thing you want if you suffer with insomnia.

 

You deserve to sleep. Implement ALL of these things and I know you will improve your sleep. Happy Sleeping, my friends! ❤️

 

To your health and healing, 

Mandi

 
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Need help improving your quality or quantity of sleep? I've got you covered. Learn more here. 

Reconnecting with Joy, Creativity, & Peace

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Joy. Creativity. Peace. What do you feel when you read those words? What type of response to they elicit in you? 

Aren't they beautiful gifts of life? Especially the relief of feeling joy after sadness... finding creativity through stagnation... and feeling at peace post chaos.

However, feeling joyless, forgoing our creativity, and never finding peace is a recipe for slowly inviting disease into our lives as we age. 

Have you met an amazing cancer survivor who has lived years past the doctor's prognosis with either natural or conventional treatment? The type of person that inspires us simply through the way they live their life? They overcame because of their mindset. They survived because of their strong spirit. They lived because they know joy, creativity, and peace.

How we lose touch with joy, creativity, and peace

In our modern world it's so easy to get wrapped in our daily routine of traveling here and there, getting this or that marked off the to-do list, and the constant thinking our minds do.

This is not the mindset and actions that help us feel better in chronic illness. This is not the mindset or actions that help us live healthy and purposeful lives.

Eventually, we don't make time for the activity that brought us joy, such as taking time for physical activity or playing with our kids or nieces and nephews. We don't find the time to meet with the friends that bring us joy through laughter and connection. Maybe anxiety or depression has taken over and joy is a distant memory. 

As our lives grow, we may lose touch with our creative side. Maybe you no longer make art, write, or play with food and new recipes. The mindset of completing tasks takes over.

Lastly, we don't take a peaceful moment for ourselves. You don't go for a run alone anymore. You don't take time out on your meditation cushion. Or, perhaps you don't know how to have inner peace when chaos is all around you.

I have, at one time or another, lost each one of these jewels of life. I also found ways to bring each of them back into my life and bounced back.

How to reconnect with joy

I'm no expert in joy, that's for certain. 

But, there has always been ONE thing that brings me joy no matter what. 

My dogs.

Playing, snuggling, and going on an adventure with our pets is probably the most cathartic therapy there is.

Make time for that activity, person or hobby that makes you smile, that brings you gratitude, or that centers you.

For me, this is hiking with my dogs and my husband. Not just the physical activity or the sense of adventure, but seeing the joy it brings my dogs is enough to fill me with complete joy. 

When do you remember feeling the most joy?

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We're creative as kids. We drew and painted. And we enjoyed it... even if we were terrible at it!

I remember I had a huge rubber stamp collection along with fancy gadgets and I made individualized greeting cards for Christmas and birthdays to give to friends and family. At some point in high school, I gave this up because it no longer was a priority. I gave in to the "save time" mindset and bought cards for special occasions.

I lost touch with creativity for a long time as an adult. Mostly, when I was busy running our gym and too exhausted for anything outside of work.

I found it again as I learned to love to cook and create in the kitchen. I had forgotten the feeling of losing time when working on a creative project. You know, the "I forgot to eat because I was so enthralled in my flow" type of activity.

Being in that state of "flow" is important for healing our body, mind, and spirit. Our parasympathetic nervous system takes over and this is where we heal. Not only that, but when we're creative, we're in touch with our higher selves. This is grounding, centering, and a spiritual experience.

how to reconnect with peace

It doesn't matter what has robbed you of your inner peace; you have the ability and the right as a human being, to feel inner peace.

Being at peace requires being okay with what is. Being okay with what you can not control. Accepting the situation as it is, not what once was or what could have been.

This goes for accepting ourselves as we are now, not what we were or what we could have been.

It's those thoughts that prevent us from feeling the freedom of inner peace.

A calm mind that isn't thinking about the next thing we have to do. Or, thinking about what we should have done or said in an awkward situation or conflict.

We won't always have a calm mind at peace, but we can find it whenever we want to do so. It's always there because our higher self, outside of our "ego" or "monkey mind", is always there. We just have to connect with it.

Something higher than yourself, such as God, the Universe, or Mother Earth can help remind us what peace feels like.

In closing...

Reclaiming our joy, rediscovering our creativity, and finding our inner peace are just a few ways to bring ourselves closer to vibrant mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

What can you do today to bring you close to joy, your creativity, or inner peace?

 

To your health and healing,

Mandi

 
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