Christmas is a celebratory time: one particular day and of course the weeks leading up to it when people buzz around like crazed insects, often unthinkingly. Preparations are essential: “obligatory” gifts for friends, loved ones and colleagues; party planning; Christmas cards; travel plans for the big day, or the lavish and long summer holidays that will ensue.
But while we make such preparations, and while we fill our minds and external lives with the things we “must” do, we forget the essence of Christ-mas (to avoid the stock-standard and dismally over-used term ”the true meaning of Christmas”, although the two terms mean exactly the same thing).
Undoubtedly, this essence is at everybody’s heart: the desire, if not the innate need, to be with and close to family and friends, to celebrate with one another, share a meal (or three, or five), to share and receive stories, love and the customary material gift. But the “need” and the “desire” become blown out, enlarged to the extreme and often so much so that we lose sight of this essence. It is overshadowed by consumerism, gluttony and vanity. The best gifts are given to impress, the biggest parties thrown to shatter all previous ones, the social buzz that comes from sending hundreds of sparsely-worded and often meaningless cards with messages of a “Merry Christmas” and a “Happy New Year” therein, words which are often already printed, saving us the hassle and effort of writing the words from our hearts ourselves.
By no means should these festivities and preparations cease. Rather, continue this, but always keep firmly lodged in mind the reason for all these things. Christmas is a time for messages of peace and comradeship to be circulated around, a time for loving others, such love you wish to be done unto you, a time for generosity of one’s spirit and whole person.
Our heart, among other organs, is central to our wellbeing. It pumps blood around our bodies to every other organ. Experts say it beats approximately 2.5 billion times throughout a human’s lifespan. What a job! So why not nurture it and live a longer life.
Exercise: we all know that exercise is essential to a healthy heart and mind. Simply 20 minutes to half an hour per day is sufficient. It gives oxygen to the cardiovascular system and reduces body fat.
Vitamin E: antioxidants reduce oxidative damage to heart muscle. Almonds are high in this vitamin. Cholesterol levels are maintained from regular Vitamin E intake.
Salt: it’s common knowledge that salt hardens arteries and damages the heart as a result. We actually get enough salt from the natural foods we consume everyday, so avoid processed foods which contain unnecessary quantities of salt: chips, processed meats and even bread.
Stress: work, studies and life in general can have a huge impact on our stress levels. High stress increases our heart rate, making the organ work harder. Prioritise for time-out at the close of each day. Yoga helps immensely with decreasing heart rate and stilling the mind.
Thanks to Nature’s Own www.naturesown.com.au for the information under this section. We recommend their website.
So many of us nowadays work incredibly hard. Whether it’s at work, trying to climb the professional ladder, at school or university aiming for great marks, whether it’s at home with family and friends, trying to make the perfect relationships, trying to raise your children ‘correctly’, trying to please absolutely everybody. There’s no wonder why we are experiencing a period of extremely poor health. What is behind this seemingly insatiable need to achieve, to strive, to fly? For so many across the globe less fortunate than us, it is a dull ache that rubs against the back of the spine that we call hunger that motivates one to act. For us, it is more than this. It is the need to ‘keep up’, to be better in all the abovementioned areas.
The resultant stress, tension and angst accumulates and manifests itself in many ways: be it something acute like a nervous breakdown, a malign disease that creeps up quickly, or something more chronic and insidious like deep physical fatigue or glandular fever.
On the one hand, we can see these conditions, whatever they may be, as negative, incapacitating, even disastrous. On the other, we can see them as somewhat positive, presenting an opportunity for change and re-evaluation of one’s way of life. To fall is to slow down, then to stop, in some cases completely. Embrace this cessation of activity.
Think about eliminating habits that are detrimental to you and those around you. Consider decreasing your work load and simply take on less. Eat well, be still and always rest. For if you don’t stop, you will undoubtedly be forced to in some way down the track. So start now, and don’t wait for it to happen to you.
This week’s post is aptly entitled “An Exercise in Trust, an Opinion on Happiness” because it seems to be increasingly important to have faith in the natural cycle of things that happen in our day-to-day lives, and in the wider world that surrounds us.
Various constant and well-pronounced ’worries’ appear to dominate our everyday: will I make enough money? Am I socialising enough? Is my family high enough on my list of priorities? For those without relationships, the question is always when? Or if ever? Overall, am I taking MY life in a meaningful, authentic direction? Is it an effort in self-service? Am I doing what I desire? To this question, many would answer no. Circumstances thwart our plans, our attempts; our intentions are always dampened by our demons: it’s all too difficult; I’ll never make it; am I kidding myself? And we seem to resent those who, at first glance, appear to be more ‘successful’ than we. However, what goes down must come up.
This is not to say be complacent and expect that our poor, hard-done-by circumstances will go away because they’ve been lurking around for some time. No. What is required is a combination of both assertiveness and adaptability, indeed action to create change, the change that we want to see; as well as a good-natured view of all issues that are thrown at us, with a generous portion of trust, a belief in the greater good and its potential to improve one’s existence.
With this firmly lodged in mind, don’t despair. Happiness, or contentedness as many prefer to say, is by no means something to have at each and every moment of the day. It is constantly changing, coming, and going. If we were ‘happy’ all the time, we wouldn’t know what it was anymore because anger and sadness and depression wouldn’t exist to balance it up. To be ‘happy’ all the time is unnatural. There is the notion out there that true happiness is knowing that one day you will be satisfied and content with what you do and have in your life, and the next day, you will not. This week’s message seeks to provide this basic definition and encourage one to trust in it.
As flowers begin to flourish and animals come out of hibernation, take time to be still and listen to the sounds of burgeoning springtime around you. To be able to meditate, we need to actually know what the prerequisites for it are. Read this straightforward information for those who are just beginning meditation, or for practiced meditators who would like to return to basics:
- Firstly, things must be left behind. It is the process of deletion, not addition, of things from your mind. Preconceived notions, inaccurate memories and associations we have learned to recognise over the course of our lives should be cleared with deep breathing.
- Reduce disturbances of the body, breath and mind. Agitation, dullness, distraction, thoughts that aren’t really well-focused should be avoided. Conscious monitoring of your thoughts should do this.
So, with this basic information in mind, try to meditate as you best know how, and indulge in the sounds, life but also the stillness of spring.
Onions are the basis for so many dishes worldwide; it is almost a given that it will be found in the foods we eat everyday.
In 1919 when the flu killed more than 40-million people, there was a prominant doctor who visited many farmers and their families, looking to improve their symptoms and most importantly prevent death. He met one family, in which each family member was in pristine health despite flu-riddled neighbours and friends that surrounded them. The farmer’s answer to the question of “how?” was that he had placed an unpeeled onion in every room of the house. The doctor inspected the onion under a microscope and found it to be covered in the flu virus. The raw onion IS a magnet for bacteria. Having absorbed it, the family had not contracted the virus.
On the other hand however, onions that have been leftover are extremely poisonous when consumed. Because of the fact that uncooked onions attract and absorb bacteria, they are to be avoided. And do not precut onions to be cooked the following day. The amount of bacteria they will capture over the next 24-hours is enormous, even when in the fridge. If you must cook leftover or precut raw onion, cook it very, very well. And a tip for owners of pets, dogs’ stomachs cannot physically metabolise onion so don’t feed them any leftovers containing it, raw or cooked.
Take this information on board; it will undoubtedly improve your and your family’s health.
The word pranayama is composed of prana and yama (control) and is meant to be understood as “control of the breath”. “Control” is however a harsh word; we prefer to use “discipline.”
So the breath! We all know it exists because without it we wouldn’t be alive, but we’re never conscious of it and how it affects us. It removes impurities, relaxes the heart and thus relieves tension in the muscles and straightens the spine. Practise this simple and effective exercise every day:
1. EXHALE: push all the air out of your chest and tummy so that you create space in these cavities for the inflow of air upon inhaling.
2. INHALE: straighten your spine as you breathe in slowly so you fill your chest, expanding the rib cage as you do so. Attempt to count to 5 slowly while inhaling. Gradually build this up to 8 or 10 counts.
3. EXHALE: repeat step 1, attempting to count to 5 slowly while doing so. Again, like inhalation, gradually build this up to 8 or 10 counts.
So integrate conscious breathing into your daily routine. 10 minutes a day is a good place to start.
When is the actual right time to drink WATER? It’s a question to which most of us don’t give any thought. Here’s what a cardiac specialist recommends:
2 glasses upon waking up (wakes up organs); 1 glass half hr before each meal (digestion); before taking baths (lowers blood pressure); 1 glass before going to bed (decreased chances of stroke/ heart attack).
SIMPLE! And yet many of us forget that water is essential. Share this with those you care about.
Well the cold weather is well and truly upon us here in the southern hemisphere, and for those who have been considering a healthy lifestyle change, it all seems a bit much to cope with when we’d rather be snuggled under a blanket, next to an open fire.
But believe it or not, now is the perfect time to kick start that lifestyle change, especially when the ideal “kick start” Winter Yoga Retreat is just around the corner.
Sometimes all we need to get motivated is the promise of an amazing getaway to recharge the batteries and learn a new or re-ignite an old, health-conscious, skill, and that is exactly what you will find at the Karma Studios upcoming winter Yoga retreat.
This retreat isn’t all about Yoga though; there is meditation, an Art or Music workshop, a gourmet chef preparing and presenting gourmet organic vegetarian food with the emphasis on Super Foods and only a small group of like minded people to share the experience with.
What you will gain from a retreat like this is immeasurable and of course you will be filled with anticipation at what life will be like when you get home. Sadly this is where many of us let ourselves down. After making such wonderful “healthy” progress we slip too easily back into bad habits and allow our new practices to slip away.
It’s important to commit to the change you are making when you attend a retreat such as this and look for support options around you to assist in your successful lifestyle change.
Here at the Karma Studio, we want to support all our retreat guests and clients in the best way possible and that’s why we offer ongoing support with our 2 month block Yoga Programmes, Massage (which allows you to stay relaxed and enjoy ongoing inner peace) and Japanese Needle Therapy (which after 6 to 8 treatments, ensures your constitution remains balanced and with an ongoing wellbeing system in place, stays that way).
So you see, whilst it may feel cold outside, it won’t take much to ignite the inner heat that will keep you warm with your new healthy lfestyle.
Feeling stressed? Lacking the correct nutrition? Grossly out of balance, weak and unable to heal yourself?
Japanese Needling Therapy is an age old modality which originated in Japan over 1400 years ago; the particular stream practiced at The Karma Studio was developed by Dr Yoshio Manaka, poet, artist, physician, healer and pioneer of this version of the modality.
Here at The Karma Studio the modality has been available since 2007 and is growing in popularity at a rapid pace.
This modality aims to balance the Yin and Yang and 5-Phase systems, realigning the biorhythmic system completely. It works on ‘reading’ the energy information within a person that was created upon their conception and involves balancing the Ki (energy) which circulates throughout the body by pathways called meridians, which are responsible for the bodies health and wellbeing.
Japanese Needling Therapy uses many tools and processes including, needling, cupping, moxibustion (the act of burning Moxa Punk (a herbal substance made from mugwort leaves) to create a hugely pleasant warm sensation that deeply penetrates the tissue), colour and sound therapy, Sotai (postural realignment), Polarity Therapy (hands on healing, working with the body’s natural energies), magnets and other modality aspects, as suited to each individual.
This therapy leaves you feeling energized, strengthened and balanced allowing your body to come back to itsperfectly natural healthy state. It will treat any disease or complaint, as
long as you are able to trust in the process and take a vested interest in your personal healing journey. It is recommended that clients commit to a program of treatment, usually 6 sessions, including changing lifestyle habits to gain the most from this remarkable modality.
As a new member of the Karma Studio family I was very excited to receive my first session today and am now even more excited to get to share that with you via our blog.
First some interesting differences between Japanese Needling Therapy and Chinese Acupuncture –
Needling therapy is considered to be more comfortable than acupuncture, as the needles used are thinner and sharper and therefore almost, if not cmpletely pain free on insertion. The actual needling is also very shallow, only being inserted 1-5mm as opposed to the usual 10-50mm in traditional acupuncture. The sensation evoked when the acupuncture point is stimulated, is much gentler and more subtle and the warm treatment of ‘moxibustion’ is far more widely used.
So what IS Japanese Needling Therapy and what can you expect from your session?
As it is performed at The Karma Studio, it is actually a mix of several styles of acupuncture that was refined in Japan by Dr Manaka, one of Japans most respected Oriental practitioners, researchers, and theorists.
At your first appointment a thorough health and body history is recorded and discussed
in length, to ensure the correct meridians and acupuncture points are treated for the optimum benefit to you.
Confirmation and initial diagnosis is by palpation of the ‘hara’ (abdomen) and every
acupuncture point is palpated before treating it.
A Root treatment follows to balance your constitution. This involves non-insertion Silver Spike Points (silver-pointed electrodes) being attached to ‘extraordinary meridian vessels’ (acupressure points on your body relating to the diagnosis received through palpating the Hara) and Iron pumping cords are then attached to the SSPs allowing a very subtle current to pass through the body balancing the Chi.
Following comes systematic treatments including (but not solely)
Needling, with very fine needles, (Japanese Needling Therapy uses very thin needles and insertion is very shallow, providing a pain-free, mild and extremely effective stimulation).
Cupping (A partial vacuum is created in cups placed on the skin either by means of heat or
suction. This draws up the underlying tissues. When the cup is left in place on the skin for a few minutes, blood stasis is formed and localized healing takes place.)
Moxibustion (this is a prominent feature of Japanese Needling. Moxibustion is the warming of acupoints and/or needles by burning Moxa, a substance derived from the mugwort plant. This is amazing, especially through the needles. It creates deep and thorough warmth throughout the area which is extremely relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable)
After my hour long treatment I felt fantastic. I had commenced my treatment with a severely painful right upper arm and the pain had gone, completely. That’s not to say it
won’t return, which is why a commitment to 6 sessions is preferable, as it takes time for the constitution to stabilise and for you to maintain the energetic life-force.
All in all this was an amazing first experience with, what was to me, a brand new modality, and I am hooked! Jenn is gentle, nurturing and extremely thorough and the peaceful and calming treatment room was a delightful change for me, and one I’ll be looking forward to regularly!