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Sage Center, formerly Sage Holistic Health and Wellness, is a collective of independent holistic therapists whose goals are to make the world better. Schedule Now Call or Text 541-304-5022 - 2205 Adams Avenue, La Grande OR. Demystifying Detox - December 14, 2018 Your Breath - January 2019 Cultivate Joy June 2019 by Elle Hutchins SNHS (Acupressure, Holistic Nutrition, Herbalism) Look around and you will see people carrying heavy burdens filled with frustration, depression, anxiety, and maybe even despair. Listen to the news and it seems like the world is coming apart at the seams. We know violence begets violence and finding balance on an ever shrinking island of being becomes enough to fill a person with anxiety and a disquiet internal life. So other than moving to your own private island, what can you do to de stress and cultivate joy? First drink water Water is absolutely essential. You know this. You know that your body is 60% water. Water also makes your brain tissue plump and squishy. There are some new studies coming out related to alcohol induced dehydration and the impact on hangovers which suggest that the pain people feel is the pain of the brain tissue being dehydrated and yet being forced to do the work that they need to do when optimally hydrated. The pain is your brain literally begging for water. If that is how a person feels after a bender, and if there are studies linking hydration to brain fog, then it stands to reason that if you are not feeling your best, then a glass of water might be the first line of defense. The structures in the brain are delicate and connected by millions and millions of neural interfaces. These neural connections depend on chemicals being freely and efficiently able to move from one synapse to another, and in a dehydrated state, your brain simply cannot function as well. Your body also needs water to metabolize, get rid of toxins, process, and remove allergens, and for your body to function properly. Lack of hydration can manifest as hunger causing you to over eat, lack of hydration can manifest as fatigue, and lack of hydration can manifest as general malaise. Water, as you know is critically important, especially in summer, especially in dry climates, and especially in winter dry climates. Drink your water as your first step toward your own personal zen. Nutrition As a child, I remember it being drummed into my head, “you are what you eat.” I remember hearing that and thinking that a sandwich is a sandwich and my arms and legs are not made of the same stuff as a sandwich is. Literally, however, it is true. The foods you consume get broken down first by mechanical digestion by your mouth. Amylaise is added to the bolus, the food blob, and then sent to the stomach where a mixture of acids in the the stomach, bases in the duodenum and the agitation by these organs churns it, breaking the bolus up, killing germs, and chemically digesting the food by breaking it into its smallest components, amino acids, vitamins, nutrients, and what becomes the energy that powers us, the chemicals that literally move our muscles to and fro. There are certain substances your body requires such as the essential fatty acids, the essential proteins and the sugars that fuel our cells, and the fats that lubricate our system and protect our body when we do not have immediate access to food. Some of these, your body can adjust to. The Keto diet, the Atkins diet ask the dieter to forsake carbohydrates in their many forms, grains, fruits, sugars, and some vegetables and eat protein and fat. The body can break down fat and protein into fuel, but the process is not as efficient. However, this can cause the weight loss that many experience when on these diets. Protein, however, is something your body needs or it will cannibalize from other parts of your body, starting on muscle tissue first. This leads to increased pain, fatigue, malnutrition and in some cases can lead to kidney and liver problems. The point is not to discourage you from one diet or another, because only you and your nutritionist know what is best for you. Instead, when you eat a wide variety of foods with a wide variety of colors, you give your body the building blocks it needs to function smoothly. It is like trying to build a dog house only with what is in your neighbors yard as opposed to getting all the materials you need, all exactly cut to the correct lengths and easy instructions. Your body needs these things and your body needs the soluble and insoluble fiber a good diet, good nutrition brings because the soluble fiber soaks up the toxins in your system while the insoluble fiber pushes toxins out. Toxins can make you feel bad, and you only eliminate them in so many ways from your body. Sweat, your breath, and your solid and liquid wastes. Let your nutrition work for you and help you take advantage of these systems to help your body feel its optimal best. Why? Because your feelings are a result of nerve synapses which are in turn a part of your body, made of the same foods you eat, and they are manufactured by your body because you are eating the nutrients you need to. No nutrients, no building blocks, and the system begins to break down, literally and figuratively. Good nutrition = the fundamentals for good health = your brain is a part of your body too. Those are the basic physics of happiness. Now, let’s look at the neurobiology of happiness. Compassion Meditation According to Dr. Amen, Dr. Golzeman, Dr. Davidson, and other scientists, we now understand that every time we learn something new we are literally changing the structure of our brain. In examining the brain of Einstein, they discovered a whorl on the back right hemisphere just above the occiput. This whorl is found in all people who are musicians. For those of you who took music lessons as children, or as adults, the more you practice, the more this whorl becomes developed. The biggest fallacy, according to Dr. Amen is that once we lose braincells they never come back, and this is not true. Not only can we make new braincells, every time you think a thought, every time you do an activity, practice a skill or do what you enjoy, (or what you don’t enjoy) you are changing the structure of the neural connections in your brain. Learning, living, thinking is literally growth. Are you growing in the right direction? This means that brains hardwired toward sociopathy, addiction, depression, anxiety, etc can be changed. Your brain can change, and you are the one that can change it. Not a pill, not a drug, you. You change your brain with every thought you think. So the big question is, what does this imply? According to Mikleejohn et al., those who have the most trouble with empathy, with happiness, with depression were able to change when they employed a compassion mindfulness exercise. Incidentally a paper was written using adolescent juvenile offenders who were at a higher risk for recidivism, and they did the same strategy and also had good results. The students learned how to meditate, 30 seconds, a minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes. Then they were asked to think about someone that they loved. and sit with that feeling of love. Over time they were asked to extend those feelings of love and compassion outside the person they loved most, to themselves, other people and eventually the world. They found that the adolescents improved, both at living life and at interpersonal relationships. Meditating for a week, focusing on feeling the feelings of compassion, love, empathy, literally changes the brain in a weeks time. Compassion, empathy and kindness set the stage for joy. If you do not feel joy or happiness, try it for a week, two weeks, a month. You are literally hardwiring your brain for happiness. Soft Focus on the Big Picture Depending on where you look, arguably, the world is a mess. What’s worse, its too big for any one person to clean up. All we can do is make our own corner as best as we can, and make those around us feel feelings of connection, value, and community. But when we are overloaded, when we are squashed by all the injustice in the world, the corruption, the sorrow, the despair, it is so easy to feel overwhelmed and for the joy and peace to seep away and instead feel anxiety, frustration and despair. Imagine for a moment how you would feel if you only ate cake donuts It might be fine for a day or two, even a week, but it will catch up with you, making your gut not feel very well. Our media diet is the same. Think of the old newspaper adage, if it bleeds it leads. Think too of all of the commentators specifically hired to agitate. What you pay attention to, is what you build in your brain, and that shapes your character and your feelings. Voter information is important, but so too is being able to just be in the world. Another way to think about it is that in a way, many of us are addicted to our screen time, our tv, phones, computer, notebook, our electronic devices. Addiction recovery, 12 step programs suggest, that if you cannot imagine a life without the addiction, take it a day at a time, or an hour at a time, or even a moment at a time. In short, instead of focusing on the big problems, focus on the small things. Let the big picture go into a soft focus and put your attention to fixing what is in front of you. If the problems in front of you are too big to solve then continue to drill down until you find a place of peace. For some, this means giving up watching news channels which do not directly affect your day to day well being. For others it my mean to chose 1 newspaper, and 1 online news source., then setting a time limit. One person cannot, single handedly solve the worlds problems, so when you do read things that stress you out, the key is to use your body to do something as a result. If you are upset at congress, write a letter then go for a walk. If you are upset about how others are being treated, volunteer or do some heart pumping exercises. We cannot change the world, singlehandedly or overnight. What we can do, however is change how we walk in this world. Read an article or two or 5, then go and make your community a better place. Say something nice to the person you are in line with at the store, stop to help someone with their groceries or just try to make the person at the cash register smile. After all, we all meet people, for whom, you might be the only positive human interaction for the day. If you made someone’s day a bit brighter, in that instance, you changed the world for another. The point is, let the world go into soft focus and intensely focus on the areas that your can make a difference, in areas that you can lend a helping hand and make someone else’s day better. Even if you are not feeling it in your heart, they are feeling it in theirs. Little changes add up. Making connections draws you out of your own place and a good laugh now and then can create a small bright spot in an otherwise overcast day. Even if that bright spot is only in you. So smile, wave, be friendly and be the change you want to see. It is not wasted time. In an ethics class once, my professor, Dr. Morrison told us, that if you have 1 person doing a thing, people tend to ignore it as fringe activity, but 1 person can influence another. When you get 10 people doing thing, then it creates a movement that flows through a group. You can make a difference. Be one of the 10 people. Look for joy , the beauty in the small things In conjunction with soft focusing on the big picture. Sometimes just looking and cultivate the appreciation of beauty can transform your experience. Next time you look out the window at the clouds, remember everything you ever knew about clouds, cloud formation, the way that wind moves across a landscape. Get lost in the beauty of the clouds. Let your mind wonder why they have that particular shape, of all the shapes they could take. Find the beauty in the clouds. Or look at the trees, what do you know about trees, their growth, their life cycles. What is beautiful about their leaves, the way they stand, the way they connect earth to sky. What is beautiful about their color, sound and fragrance. Think about how the trees form a unique microbiome that allow for the existence of more creatures that we can name from the microscopic to macro colonies of birds. These things were here before we were and will be here after we are gone, so what can the swaying of a tree in the breeze teach us about strength and resiliency? Perhaps it might be easier to just take the camera on your phone and begin to take close up pictures of things that we move past every day but do not take the time to really see. For example the grains in the concrete, once a part of the earth, solid then liquid then solid again. A certain beautiful math calculates the strength, longevity, color and composition, yet there is beauty in the unevenness of the texture. Perhaps this is not beautiful to you, so the challenge is to find the beauty for yourself. Find the beauty and the connectedness in all things. At the atomic level, there is the same amount of space in the atoms of the air we move through as the ground we stand on. Our perception is what shapes our reality, and because there is a split second delay between what our senses pick up, sensation, scent, what we see, and the time it takes our brain to process it, the world we think we are moving through is actually the past. We cannot see the present for what it is. So let go and look, without judgment. What you experience can teach you more about the fundamentals of the universe, who we are, and how we relate than 10,000 books. That itself is beautiful and beauty leads to respect and understanding which leads to joy, though for the lucky few, beauty itself is a joy. I am not talking about human physical beauty, because that is purely subjective. Someone somewhere decided what we should look like, sound like act like. That is one person’s opinion, and when did their opinion superseded your own? You get to choose what is beautiful, and is it not nicer to live in a world filled with wonder? From Psychology Trans personal psychology suggests that we are consciousness, spirit, inhabiting a physical body. Now, before you take a step back, consider this as a thought tool. Think of this as you would examine a crystal. You see the whole, a person, the mind, and the metaphysics of who we are, from one perspective. Lift it up and turn it, and the perspective changes. Hold the crystal up to the light, or take a magnifying glass and examine it closely and you gain a different perspective. The light, the magnifying glass, even the way you hold the crystal is just a tool for examining the world. So suspend your judgments for just a moment. If we really have something more than just a body, if our consciousness is separate from our body, that means, in way, that our body is like our vehicle, or, as share my home with many pets, and we have rescued many animals in the past, I would like to suggest that in a way, our bodies are like our pets. We may not love our pets so very much, we fostered some rats while the animal shelter was making a space for them to be. I did not love those rats, but I and my family still cared for them. We provided a safe shelter, which the rats managed to find their way out of on a regular basis. We provided them with food, water, and entertainment, but we talk to our bodies meanly. We think about our bodies as being broken, inadequate, too big, too small, sick, frail, or just wrong. We do not treat our bodies with compassion. I say it this way because we know we are supposed to treat ourselves with compassion. We know the need for self care, but there is a Ted Talk, and if I ever find it, I will create a permanent link on this page. The speaker starts. “Once there was this woman, on a first date since her divorce was finalized. She felt nervous, anxious, and as she waited at the bar, she wondered what he would look like, what they would talk about. She waited. Time passed, minutes slipped into a half hour, an hour, and after two hours she called her best friend to come. Her best friend met her at the table and said, “Well of course he didn’t show. Your clothes are ugly, and out of style. Your hair is frumpy, you look tired. He probably saw you and turned around and walked out the door. Who would want to be with a person like you? You are fat and ugly, who could possibly want to be with a person who looks like you.” At that point everyone in the Ted Talk audience gasped. The speaker continued, saying, no friend would ever say that. But, the person we spend the most time in the world with, is ourselves. We need to talk to ourselves the way we would talk to our friends. We need to build ourselves up the same way we build our friends up. So what we aren’t the cutest, the smartest, the best dressed. The truth is, “the best” is a standard created by an industry designed to sell stuff, and if you ever meet the standard, then you will stop buying, so there is absolutely no incentive to have a realistic “ideal”. Besides, if the most affirmations you had were from your ex, well there is a reason they were an ex, so is their opinion really that valid. Of course not. Why let someone else decide for you whether you are good enough or not. Why even be worried about being good enough. All you have to do is be you. That is all you have to do. Why? Because genetically you are you and you can’t possibly be someone else. You already ace being you. You are the best you that there will ever be, so instead of being worried about being someone else, be the best you that you can be, then decide that That is beautiful, and THEN decide that you will only say nice things. Because your ears are listening, and your body hears. You filter thoughts that come to you from external sources, but your body, your subconscious mind believes what your own mouth says. You create the trajectory of your reality. If you want to be happy, direct that trajectory toward healthy self talk. If you wouldn’t say it to a “besty,” don’t say it to you, because that is just mean. If you want to be happy, treat yourself with compassion, it is not optional. Smile Smiling releases endorphins which improve your cheerfulness and happiness levels. Smiling serves two purposes at least, for human beings. The first is to express inner joy, but the second and more important reason human beings smile is as a behavioral signal to others in the group, community or area that you are not threatening. You are a person that means the other well. Psychologically this tells the others around you that they do not need to be stressed, that while you can be pushed into a confrontation, you are not seeking an adversarial state. Smiling is not for your own sake, but for the sake of those around you. When you smile you are approachable. You do not only smile because you are happy, you smile as a signal to the world that you want to walk in the world in an open and pro social way. This in turn changes how others instinctively respond to you. We human beings are social creatures. This is our nature. If it were not so, we would not have cities. We rely on our society for so many things, and when we give back little, even on this fundamental level, we create a ripple of change. Smiling is not to tell the world you are happy, but to help the world become a place in which happiness is possible. The big picture The most meaningful way to cultivate happiness is to find a spiritual balance. Find out who you are, what you believe and why you believe it. Just because it is in a book, scripture, or someone told you, is not enough. What do you actually believe, and how does this believe propel you forward or hold you back. Look inside yourself and determine what your relationship to the Divine is. Read, talk, ask questions, and determine these answers for yourself. You owe it to yourself to resolve these issues because if you are a person who believe morality comes from the divine, and you have some issues there, then you cannot have peace. If you believe that the universe was or was not created by an intelligence, person, or the Divine, then what does this imply about your existence, and again, does it help you or hold you back? Spirituality means many things for many people, but at the most basic, spirituality just means that you are comfortable with why you are, who you are and how you relate to others around you, the community you are in, the region you are in, the country you are in, then world you live on, and the universe you are a part of, past present and future. Once you determine these things, then you are free to be filled with love, joy and peace, and then radiate these out the the world around you. Summary Being happy is more than a feeling, because after all happiness is merely a collection of synapses firing in a certain way, releasing certain dopamine, endorphins, seritonin and stuff we probably do not yet know about. Happiness is so much more. Happiness is about choosing a world view and then committing to it, sticking with it, and fighting for it especially when the world seems to be trying to keep you down. Happiness is a way of being, a way of moving through the world, actively seeking joy, looking for beauty and looking for the ways in which the people we meet are unique and good and valuable. Happiness is about understanding yourself, being kind to yourself, and then finding internal equilibrium so that the happiness radiates out. I could substitute love or compassion for happiness because according to many philosopher theologians, emotions are merely an electromagnetic impulse, same as light, sound, heat, and the matter that makes up our world. If this is true, then then these feelings are really more of a spectrum, of higher vibration. This means it takes time to tune your internal radio station to those frequencies, but when you do, nothing can shake you for the long term. If you don’t believe me, read the works in the reference section then continue to read, learn and grow. We are all people, with the same right to basic human dignity, and we cannot offer something we do not have for ourselves. You can find happiness. If you try these strategies and still struggle, please see your primary care doctor. Many things can interfere physically with your ability to have a good mood. These include but are not limited to amount of sleep, inflammation, a viral infection leading to viruses being present in the brain, and an imbalance of neurotransmitters. Depression is a state which lasts more than a week or two, so please seek help. You deserve this. How do I know. Because I deserve this, and you and I are brothers and sisters. Works Cited Brouhard, R. (2017). Treating Hyperventilation Syndrome With a Paper Bag: Can you Treat Hyperventilation Syndrome With A Paper Bag?. Retrieved Oct 6, 2018 from Goleman, D., & Davidson, R. J. (2017). Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes You Mind, Brain, and Body. New York: Random House. Verni, K. A. (2015). Happiness The Mindful Way: A Practical Guide. New York: Penguin Random House Waugh, A. (2014). Ross and Wilson: Anatomy and Physiology in Health and Illness. New York: Elsevier Elle Hutchins is a Holistic Health Therapist, Herbalist, Acupressurist and Reiki Master. She has published works of fiction and non fiction. Her non fiction works include: Conquer Your Cold Naturally: Self Care using Herbs, Pressure points, and other strategies, Medical Terminology, and Pathology Workbook: A supplemental book for students of bodywork and massage therapy. You can find Elle Hutchins at Sage teaching classes and workshops in herbalism, nutrition and wellness, naturally treating pain and reflexology out of her office at Sage Holistic Health and Wellness.
Amen, D. G. (2015)
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