Spring is here- time to lighten the load!

Part 1- Simple holistic ways to reduce toxin exposure and improve overall health.

Welcome Spring! I’ve found that focusing my energy on strengthening my body and detoxing has been a beautiful spiritual practice and want to share with you what I’ve learned on this path (so far).

The new life energy coming forth from the earth creates an inspiring time of year to purge our bodies of its heavy toxic load.  The toxic load we carry comes from both what we absorb from our environment every day and what has been passed down to us through our parents and those before them.  These toxins can build up in our system and cause chronic health conditions such as anxiety, headaches, dizziness, weight gain etc.

If you are interested in improving your health and state of wellness, this is a great place to begin.  Nothing harsh, just a few simple changes that when combined, can have a tremendous impact. It’s also a good practice in changing routines, nourishing your body and truly listening to what it is telling you.  I found that in the beginning, some of the changes in diet and lifestyle brought up all kinds of emotions and resistance inside me.  It felt challenging to follow this path when society was telling me to eat, drink and be merry because I “deserved” it.  So this is a very different perspective, eat well, avoid things that can increase your toxic load, and be kind and gracious to yourself- because my dear ones, this is what we deserve.

Things to avoid or eliminate from your routines:

  1. Plastics– We have been wrapping ourselves in plastic since the 70’s and it has leached into everything;our food, our water supply, and our bodies.  Plastics are particularly harmful to our reproductive systems, they may contain  the chemicals bisphenol A (BPA) and phythalates.
    1. plastic wrap & baggies- avoid wrapping your food in plastic at all costs, use reusable containers when possible.
    2. plastic containers-  I find that glass containers such as pyrex work great!  Never reheat food in plastic.
    3. shower curtain liner ( these contain phythalates which can damage sperm)
  2. EMF’s– Electromagnetic frequencies are everywhere. They are emitted from anything electronic ( computers, cell phones, cars, airplanes, appliances etc).  The problem with EMFs is that they interfere with our body’s own electrical frequencies which can prevent our body from letting go off toxic heavy metals and can cause adverse health conditions, both neurological and otherwise (i.e. cancer, insomnia, anxiety, headaches). Since EMFs are everywhere, you may want to take precautions. One product I use is made by Memon. I wear a memonizerBody on my wrist and have a memorizerMobile  on my cell phone. I also have organite throughout each room in my home and on my desk at work where I sit with my computer throughout the day. You can also remove electronics from your bedroom, run appliances such as the dishwasher or dryer when you are out of the room, and turn off your wifi at night. For all men out there, never carry your cell phone in your front pants pocket.
  3. Chemicals– This is a fairly broad category.  As a guideline, I only buy products that are cruelty free, plant based, environmentally friendly, and free of dyes, fragrances and preservatives.  The fewer ingredients, the better.
    1. Household- Think of your home environment as a sacred space. We need to take extra care not to pollute this space with toxins. Nothing works better than good old vinegar, lemons, baking soda and peroxide and there are many websites devoted to cleaning with these items. If you can’t part with the convenience of a bottled cleaner,  I like Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, and my newest fave,  Ecos.
    2. Beauty products & nail polish- This is a tough one for a lot of people, but we really need to be looking at what we are putting on our body. Many products out there are laden with harsh ingredients, parabens, toxic fumes and dyes.  If possible, opt for using food grade products on your body.  Some that I love include Lux shea butter for my face, and coconut oil for my body.  I am also loving this oil based facial cleanser.
  4. Toxic/Heavy Metal Exposure– These metals include lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and  aluminum.  They can be found everywhere, but especially in fish and processed cheese, vaccines, nasal sprays, fertilizers, plastics and antiperspirants. A great first step to reduce toxic metal exposure is to ditch the antiperspirant! It took me quite a while to find a really good deodorant that I love, but you will not be disappointed in  Primal Pit Paste.
  5. Pesticides/ Herbicides– I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but eating organic dramatically reduces your exposure to toxins.  If you can’t afford or find organic produce in your area, try to avid the dirty dozen as much as possible.  When I first started out, I would keep a list on my phone and reference it whenever I went to the grocery store.  The dirty dozen includes the following foods listed from most to least contaminated:
    1. Strawberries
    2. Spinach
    3. Nectarines
    4. Apples
    5. Peaches
    6. Pears
    7. Cherries
    8. Grapes
    9. Celery
    10. Tomatoes
    11. Sweet Bell Peppers
    12. Potatoes
  6. Meat and Dairy Products– This list could not be complete without mentioning meat and dairy products.  From a toxicity standpoint, the fat and protein compounds in these products clog the liver causing it to be sluggish and reducing its ability to do it’s job of filtering the blood and removing toxins from the body.  Simply said, if your liver is sluggish (or fatty), the toxins stay put!  in addition, meat and dairy contain high amounts of  growth hormones (there is no such thing as hormone free, all animals in the industry have been exposed), antibiotics and adrenal compounds (from the slaughtering process).  Increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption will improve overall liver function and go a long way in detoxing your body.
  7. Added Sugar– Yes, it’s really bad for us. It’s corrosive to our system and damaging to our organs (and dairy is liquid sugar meant to grow a baby calf/goat/lamb).  If you feel a sweet craving coming on, grab a piece of fruit or use some maple syrup or dates in your baking- you won’t be disappointed. The glucose from fruit is extremely important for brain health and body functioning, so indulge as often as possible.  For more information on the healing powers of fruit (and vegetables) check out Anthony William’s latest book, Life Changing Foods.

 

 

My great (vegan) car dilemma

How what we drive is influenced by what we believe.

I’m in the market for a new car, not completely by choice.  Since I have a very long commute and need to drive fairly far to family and friends, I put loads of miles on my car (about 30k a year).  I’ve been trying to reconcile the environmental impact of my driving so much, so about 5 years back I decided to buy a Vokswagen TDI (“clean” diesel).  This car was fantastic! It was great on gas, relatively affordable, tons of room, and had all the little options that made my commuting comfortable. I thought I found a responsible way to drive as much as I do and not completely destroy the environment. Win-win, right? Wrong! Lo and behold- it turns out that this “clean” diesel was not clean at all!  VW had installed software that cheated the emissions tests and my “clean” car was spewing toxic chemicals into the environment every time I drove it.  I was outraged…and deceived. I felt terribly guilty and didn’t want to drive my car one more day. VW willingly sold a product they knew would be damaging to the environment at the expense of us all. When they finally sent out the recall notice, I chose the “buyback” option and vowed never again to support a company that puts corporate greed above all else.

So, I’m in the market for a new car- and facing a new dilemma.  Although vegetarian at the time of my VW purchase, I opted for the faux leather seating but turned a blind eye to the leather wrapped steering wheel and gear shift.  I guess part of me thought I was doing a greater good by buying this environmentally friendly car and that it somehow made up for the leather steering wheel.  In all fairness, there weren’t any non-leather options offered.  There are still very few.

My car requirements remain pretty much the same.  It needs to be fuel efficient (I drive too far for an electric car), have good cargo capacity, and all wheel drive (I added AWD to the list after driving on some rough winter roads while praying the entire way). I heard that Tesla now offers an all vegan car, so I figured the car industry was evolving and was excited to see all of my new options.  But, here’s the thing- unless you buy the base model (think no power seats, no power mirrors etc), most cars still come with a leather wrapped steering wheel! This holds true even for even the less expensive models.  I briefly looked at the luxury brands, but other than Tesla, none of them offer a completely leather free interior.  Some, like BMW, offer faux leather seating (they call it Sensatec), but the steering wheel is still leather. Leather it seems, is still viewed by our society as being luxurious- a status symbol of wealth.

I thought about my options, how important is it for me to have power seats anyhow?  I decided that I would go with a base model Subaru Outback – no leather. As if the universe was offering its support of my decision, that very same day one of my vegan friends posted a gruesome photo to her FB wall.  It showed a large cow being skinned alive, laying on the ground after all of its legs had been chopped off so it couldn’t escape.  I couldn’t get the image out of my mind.  In 2017 humanity is still creating extraordinary ways to brutalize other species for a profit.  That solidified my decision- leather is NOT an option!

My car is being given back to VW next month (on the morning of my 40th birthday).  I am disheartened that there is no true vegan car yet and flabbergasted that the options for vegan materials in cars is so extremely limited.  If all goes well, I will be purchasing a Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium.  It was the only AWD car I found to have a completely non leather interior while offering nice add-ons such as a moonroof and power lift gate.

Back to Ahimsa. It is a guide and a teacher.  When I search for what is true, what aligns with my beliefs, it is informed by ahimsa.  My car dilemma is just one example.  Throughout the day we are bombarded by images/thoughts/experiences that cause harm or violence to other beings, each other and ourselves… but every time you can bring ahimsa into practice, you are connecting to a greater all-knowing infinity. Ahimsa, I’ve learned, is applicable everywhere ….and yes, even when I am buying a car.

 

 

 

Ahimsa: an introduction

I’m starting to learn a few things about myself and this life.  I’m learning that life’s mysteries need not be so scary; that when I become still and listen, I can tune in to a stillness inside myself that guides and comforts me and I now know that my sensitive spirit needs space to nurture itself and feed my soul. I’ve also learned that this term Ahimsa, one I started intimately knowing many years ago- means way more than I ever knew possible and is more relevant now than ever. I’m not sure how I first stumbled upon the term Ahimsa;  it feels like it’s been a part of me my whole life, but growing up in an Irish/Italian Catholic family, I know Ahimsa somehow found its way to me, and it stuck.

In its simplest sense, ahimsa is a yogic term meaning to live your life causing the least amount of harm to others as possible.  As a vegan, I relate to the concept of ahimsa in a very intimate and profound way. Ahimsa is the foundational concept of living a compassionate life, to seeing the inherent worth in all beings and believing that all beings are sacred and divine. Ahimsa influences what I eat, how I spend my free time, how I treat both friends and strangers, and what I buy.

I was called to create this space to share how this thread of ahimsa inspires me each day and connects me to you and all of us together as one. In a world that sometimes feels like divisiveness and insults are becoming the norm, the warmth and love from living a life guided by Ahimsa is a call back to my own heart.

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