Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Resolutions and Mid-Life Crises

"I hope and pray that in the days ahead, each of us does all we can to see that the goal of creating a happier, more harmonious, and healthier world is achieved." -- The Dalai Lama

I can see why some people buy red sports cars or run off with underage mistresses near their 40th birthdays. I feel a similar, but somewhat more ethical, urge to run off and do something wild. But instead of race cars or racy affairs, I want to do something good, really good, something bigger and (seemingly) better than being home with my kids and writing on a blog that hardly anyone reads.

I want to bust loose and contribute to the larger society, in a larger way. I want to be more and do more, though not necessarily to have more. I want to express myself and share myself more with others. In honor of my midlife crisis and the beginning of 2009, I'm brainstorming how to do just that.

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to write more -- to write more frequently, in greater quantity, reaching a wider audience, and making writing a priority in my life. Another resolution is to buy local -- supporting local businesses with my consumer dollars instead of sending my money to multinational corporations and their overseas sweatshops.

My most ambitious resolution is to begin pursuing the graduate studies that I postponed when I became surprisingly pregnant at age 23. I'm not sure yet what I'll study, but an advanced degree has been a priority since I realized that my bachelor's degree in psychology makes me highly qualified for a career in retail or as an administrative assistant (especially in a glutted college town like Eugene, where the waiters have PhD's).

Plus, I want to learn, grow, and expand my horizons beyond home and family. Teaching yoga has been a wonderful experience, but my fibromyalgiac body just doesn't want to demonstrate triangle pose three times a day anymore. The kids are getting older, so am I, and I need to find a new career.

So my winter project is to research, network, and explore possible paths into the future. An online degree program? Community college classes? A master's degree? A professional certificate? A volunteer training program?

Something to apply my nimble mind, to help others and the world, and to pay the bills once my dear, older husband retires. Something not too hard on my aching body, nor too stressful for my frazzled mind. Something I can do part-time until the kids are older. Something creative, caring, conscientious, and fulfilling.

For now, I'll write. Perhaps I'll also dip my toe into the academic waters and take a community college class. I may return tentatively to seeing clients in my Yoga Therapy practice, with ahimsa (non-harming) and moderation in the forefront of my mind.

May my process help me and everyone around me, to learn and to grow, without causing any harm to anyone. And may it show me the way forward into the future.

Happy New Year 2009 everyone!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Back on the Wagon

We all fall off the wagon sometimes, and then must somehow figure out how to climb back on. Life is a process, and often a challenging one. No one gets it right all the time. Even those of us devoted to self-improvement and healthy habits will occasionally indulge in self-destructiveness or poor choices. Sometimes an occasional indulgence devolves into a full-fledged relapse, and instead of being on the wagon, on track as usual, we find ourselves on our rumps in the mud.

That's when it's time to start over. Life is filled with second chances, and third, fourth, and fortieth chances. It is never too late to begin anew. No matter what has gone wrong, or how far off track you've strayed, it is never too late to climb back on that wagon. Whether you've broken your diet and gained ten pounds, or abandoned your exercise routine in favor of channel surfing, you can renew your commitment to health again today. Whether you've given in to the darkness of depression, or to the paralysis of anxiety, you can shake off your demons and reemerge.

"No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back." -- Turkish Proverb

I have been able to maintain excellent emotional health and worldly success for months and even years at a time. And I have, countless times, succumbed to my inner demons, lapsing into lethargy and depression, debilitating anxiety, and even suicidal fantasies. I have been as physically healthy as anyone I know, masterfully fit and strong, with a two-hour-a-day yoga practice. And I have felt as much pain, fatigue, and weakness as someone twice my age or older. Surely, I have seen many highs and lows in this life, and I understand how tempting it is to give up during the dark times.

But I'm still here. I keep working at it; I keep trying. Perhaps on a Tuesday night I'll give up on myself completely, but by Wednesday morning I wake up and try again. I lean on my husband, my friends, my family. I reach out for the assistance of holistic healers and alternative medicine. When necessary, I depend on western medicine. I rely on my spiritual beliefs, yoga and meditation practices, and faith. I lose my way, and then, somehow, eventually, I find it again. I climb out of the mud, get back on the wagon, and begin again.

As a society, we are certainly, collectively, in a very dark time. At the darkest time of the year, we are in the midst of an economic collapse of epic proportions. We are struggling at the tail end of perhaps the most destructive presidency the United States has ever experienced. Yet we will get through this. We have lost our way, yes, but together we will find our way back onto the right track.

It is never too late. Never give up. Life is a circle, and it turns like a wheel. Things will turn around again, for all of us. We will get back on the wagon again.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Live Well Now for a Bright Future

By Anita Perkins

It's How You Do It

It's not what you do, but how you do it, that matters. Acrobatic yoga poses, for example, can strengthen the ego along with the body, OR they can liberate you from self-imposed limitations and stretch you into fearlessness. It’s all HOW you do it. Even charitable giving, of one's time and energy or one's money -- even into the millions of dollars -- can be motivated by selflessness or by self-interest. Is it really charity, or just a public-relations tax write-off? It's all how you do it.

Living one's life can bring you into deeper bondage, or total liberation, depending on how it's done, and why. Intention is the key. Surrender all you do to your Higher Power. Live to grow and love and serve, and not to feed your limited ego, and you will fly.

See the Big Picture

Doing what's expedient in the short-term may have dire long-term consequences. Eating fast-food may seem quick and convenient, allowing you to be more productive today, but add up too many fast-food days, and by next year you'll be overweight with clogged arteries, and in ten years you might be too sick to work at all! (The movie Super Size Me and the book Diet for a New America are great resources about the evils of Fast Food.)

Feeding your toddler sugary treats may be expedient today, promoting good behavior through bribery or reward, but by next year obesity and cavities may be the undesired consequences, and in ten years your sweet-toothed toddler might be a troubled teen with ADHD.

So do your future self and your family a big favor -- don't just do what's quick-and-easy today. Do what's best for all your tomorrows.

Providing wisdom to its people and the inspiration for the United States Constitution, the Gayaneshakgowa (the Iroquois Constitution) urges us to:

"Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation."

As a society, we all need to be thinking, planning, and acting for the benefit of ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren into the future. See the big picture. Today's easy way out is tomorrow's major headache. Take it from me -- after being a sickly child raised on McDonald's and Poptarts, I am now lovingly cooking brown rice and organic vegetables for myself and my family, and I am finally feeling better. And you will, too! You can live well now and create a bright future of health and happiness.


by Portia Nelson


I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place
but, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.


I walk down another street.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ayurveda, Crimes against Wisdom, and Forgiveness

by Anita Perkins

"Prajnaparadha" (noun, Sanskrit) -- "Crimes against Wisdom"

Charaka, the ancient healer and sage, was perhaps the first to codify the world's oldest continually practiced medical system, Ayurveda. For over 5000 years, Ayurveda has been the holistic medical system practiced by millions in India and beyond, and now this ancient wisdom is coming to the West, as a result of the popularity of Ayurveda's sister-science, Yoga.

Ayurveda, Yoga, and Tantra are a sacred trinity of systems the ancient Rishis (seers) practiced to develop the individual towards liberation. Ayurveda develops the individual's body, Tantra the mind, and Yoga the spirit. Practiced together, the individual achieves an ideal, integrated balance of physical health, mental focus, and spiritual enlightenment.

By studying these ancient practices -- Yoga, Tantra, and Ayurveda -- we can learn what is necessary to maintain -- or if necessary regain -- physical, mental, and spiritual balance.

check back: links coming soon....
Introduction to Yoga as a Spiritual Discipline.
Introduction to Tantra as a Mental Discipline.
Here is an introduction to Ayurveda.

Through the study and practice of Yoga, Tantra, and Ayurveda, we can learn what we need to do and not do, to be vibrantly healthy in body, mind, and spirit, and how exactly to achieve physical, mental, and spiritual health and liberation.

In Ayurveda, health is more than the absence of disease; it is a state of optimal wellness, of thriving. Just as consuming the Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin C will prevent scurvy, but ingesting a larger dose will also support your immune system, Ayurveda not only helps you avoid disease, but promotes ideal wellness.

If we know how we need to behave or not behave, and yet we do not act in accordance with this knowledge, we have committed a "crime against wisdom." "Prajnaparadha" ("crime against wisdom" in Sanskrit) is considered by Ayurveda to be the root cause of all disease. "Prajnaparadha" is willfully ignoring one's inner knowing -- going against your intuition and common sense -- and is the source of all health problems. For example, eating ice cream on a cold, winter day is counter-intuitive. In Ayurveda, eating a frozen dairy product in freezing weather aggravates Kapha dosha, which leads to excess phlegm and mucus production. Really, it just violates common sense.

I've heard many yoga therapy clients, after I've interviewed them about their dietary habits, say "I know I should eat more fruits and vegetables and whole grains, but..." or "I know I should drink less coffee, but...." But, they don't do what they know they should do, and they do what they know they shouldn’t. And what happens? Their health suffers for it. Someone who is irritable and jittery and has trouble sleeping, and who knows their caffeine intake is contributing to their imbalanced health, and yet drinks a quart of coffee a day, is committing Prajnaparadha. So is the person who eats few if any fruits or vegetables or whole grains, knowing they should, and suffers from constipation (from lack of fiber) and frequent colds (from lack of antioxidants).

We create our own illnesses by violating our own common sense. Excess or deficiency of anything, especially excess of harmful substances or deficiency of helpful ones, throws us out of balance and into illness. Chronically, over time, these excesses and/or deficiencies add up, and can lead to debilitating chronic illnesses.

Even something as seemingly unrelated as choosing to work at a job you hate is a case of Prajnaparadha, and may be a primary source of your ill health. You may blame your job for your unhappiness, but ultimately, your unhappiness will manifest as illness, and essentially, your unwillingness to let go of the job you hate is a crime against wisdom. Why are you choosing to remain in a miserable situation? There are thousands of jobs, careers, schools, and job trainings out there, in thousands of locations all over the country and the world. Your rotten job is not the cause of your ill health, but your choice to work there very well may be.

And that goes for any choice you make to remain stuck in an unhappy situation, whether that choice involves work or school, home or family, or any other environment where we spend our time. Being happy is intimately linked with health, and being unhappy with illness. It comes down to this: Do you want to make a happy life for yourself, or would you rather just make yourself sick? Would you rather make yourself happy, or would you rather just make excuses for your unhappiness? There is no "can't" -- there is only "won't." "Where there's a will, there's a way."

There is only your conscious or unconscious willfulness, your own mentally created self-limitations. There is only you.

So what do we do? Beat ourselves up for deliberately violating such basic shoulds and shouldn'ts? Lash ourselves with guilt and shame for staying stuck in a dead-end job? Arrest us all for committing crimes against wisdom, and put everyone in Ayurvedic prison? Not even close. Just the opposite really: Love. More love, more compassion, from ourselves, for ourselves. Make friends with yourself. Be willing to truly know who you are, what you're doing or not doing, and why. And then team up with yourself to do whatever is necessary to bring yourself back into balance and health.

The necessary attribute for self-change is "Tapas," Sanskrit for "inner fire." This yogic concept refers to austerity, determination, and the willingness to do whatever is necessary to bring yourself back into balance and health. First, identify and acknowledge your crimes against wisdom -- your contributions to your own ill health. Then, instead of beating yourself up about it, realize your inner empowerment. Think about it -- the fact that you've helped cause your illness gives you the power to stop causing your illness. This realization brings you back onto the path of Dharma and renewed health.

Once you feel empowered to do something about your health, to take action to change how you are feeling for the better, the healing process really begins. Draw upon your inner resources, your courage and resolve, your patience and perseverance. Reach out to your family and friends, books, therapists, the internet, get all the information and assistance you can. Change your diet, change your job, change your life – be willing to let go of the past to move forward into a future of wellness. Reach down inside yourself and find the Tapas to heal yourself. You can do this!

And what should you do when you falter? Believe me, you will, my friend, because we all do sometimes -- the road to healing is rocky and paved with good intentions and backsliding -- it's two steps forward and one step back the whole way there. So, what do you do when you stumble and fall -- off the wagon, or off the healing path altogether? Kick yourself? Give up? Not even close! Love. Compassion. Be your own best friend.

Most of us treat our friends way better than we ever treat ourselves. Do we give up on our loved ones when they make a mistake? Do we berate them when they stumble, sneer at them when they fall? No, we forgive them, we cut them slack, we give them another chance. That's exactly what we need to do for ourselves, especially in the beginning, as we make our tenuous way on the challenging journey towards wellness. Treat yourself as you would your dearest and most beloved friend. Offer yourself love and compassion, a cup of tea and a hot bath, words of encouragement and support. You deserve it!

No one can heal you, only you can heal yourself. And you can only heal yourself if you are kind enough to forgive yourself, and courageous enough to stop blaming your mother, your job, the government, your addiction, and everything but the kitchen sink that is not you, and accept your own culpability in your own disease. Then, you apologize sincerely to yourself for you past transgressions, forgive yourself fully and completely, and vow from this day forward to change. You commit yourself fully to being your own true friend and partner in your own healing. And then, and only then, the true healing begins.

I need to be clear on one very important point: Even though healing yourself IS your responsibility, being ill or out of balance is NOT your fault. Yes, your actions have contributed to the outcome. Your smoking or poor diet or stressful lifestyle have contributed to your becoming unwell. But saying that is NOT the same as saying "it's your fault." First of all, it is evident that environmental factors, including our increasingly toxic soil, air, and water, contribute much more to the onset of disease than an addiction to soda pop.

Also, knowing your choices and actions contributed to the formation and maintenance of your illness is ultimately incredibly empowering. Since you helped cause it, and you have been maintaining it, you know you can stop it. You cannot single-handedly purify our global environment (although we should all work together to do that!), you CAN purify and strengthen your internal environment with healthy diet and lifestyle changes. You CAN change your life, and transform your health, for the better!

And finally, your self-awareness must come with self-acceptance. You did the best you could, knowing what you did, being who you were, in your past circumstances. You really did. You are human. You are wonderful. But you are not perfect, never were, and never will be, and neither is anyone else. And that is perfectly okay. What you were, are, and always will be, are perfectly loveable and forgivable.

So, please, don't waste time and energy blaming yourself for past mistakes. Let go of the past, love yourself, and forgive yourself completely. Self-love liberates you from repeating the self-destructive habit patterns from the past that helped make you sick in the first place. Self-love frees you to finally and fully get well.

Confess your crimes against wisdom, whatever they are, and turn over a new leaf. Begin anew with a healthy respect for your intuition, your self-care, and common sense, and pardon yourself fully and completely for the past. Today is the day to begin. Today is the day to transform your health.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How to Get What You Want

How to release your own resistance to getting everything you want

By Anita Perkins

So you really want to change, to improve yourself and transform your health? But every time you try, you fall back into the same old bad habit patterns? You can change. Here's how to get what you want, by releasing your resistance to change:

1) Feel the resistance in your body.
Where is it? How does it feel? Stay in your body, pay attention to your breath, and don't "check out."

2) Name the belief or emotion behind the resistance.
Some examples of resistance are: Fear, I can't, I'm a bad person if I do, I shouldn’t, I'm not good enough, Blame, Punishment, Self-punishment, Guilt, Scarcity, etc.

3) Counteract the negative belief or emotion with affirmations.
See How to Create Affirmations here.

4) Release the resistance.
Release the need to hold onto the negative belief or emotion, no matter what originally caused it, and let it go.

5) Accept the process.
Accept that emotions and other forms of resistance will come up as you try to change old habit patterns, and release the resistance as it emerges. Don't use emotions such as fear or guilt as an excuse to give up on your path towards positive change.

6) Be kind to yourself.
Provide yourself the love, nurturing, patience, and self-acceptance that you need during this or any life transition.

Here's an example of how these six steps to self-change work in real life:

I tend to procrastinate and then feel guilty about it. For example, I don't want to sit down and work on my writing right now, but I don't know why, or how to feel better about it.

1) I feel the resistance in my jaw. My jaw feels tight and clenched.
2) The emotion is anger. I feel anger because I'm hungry and haven't had lunch yet and I'm forcing myself to write anyway. The belief is "I can't take care of myself AND be a successful writer. If I stop to eat, I'll slack off, not get anything done, and be a loser."
3) The affirmation to counteract that belief is "I can take care of myself AND write successfully. I create an easy ebb and flow between self-care, family responsibilities, and writing. I can take breaks and do the other things I need to do, and writing will still get done. No matter how much I write or don't write, I am a good person and a success."
4) I release any and all need to believe that I must choose between self-care and creativity. I believe that I can have both self-care and creativity, in harmonious balance.
5) I accept, understand, and release my anger. I am at peace with the process of writing this book.
6) I am going to have a quick-and-nourishing meal, and then come back to work on my writing.

You can do it! You can change, for the better.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Anita's Health Update

I'm feeling gradually better. I'm learning and growing as I heal. It's been quite an interesting process!

The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.
John Ruskin, 1819-1900

Here's what's helping:

Recent blood test results showed low iron (anemia), low protein, low thyroid, and low cortisol, which all explained my overwhelming fatigue, dryness, and intolerance to stress. I've begun adding iron supplements, protein powder, kelp tablets, and adaptagen tincture to re-balance the deficiencies, and my energy levels are gradually improving.

Vulvodynia is about 80% improved, mostly due to avoidance of any and all irritation. (Skip this paragraph unless you want all the gory details.) I've avoided most sitting. I've been rinsing with water and patting dry after urination. I've avoided any soaps, used only hypoallergenic and fragrance-free laundry detergent, and have gotten used to wearing silk slips with long skirts. I have been on a low oxalate diet and drink lots of water with a little lemon to keep my urine diluted and alkaline. Supplements include: Calcium Citrate, Magnesium Glycinate, N-Acetyl-Glucosamine, Probiotics, Quercetin, LOTS of Omega-3 Oils (Fish and Flax Oils), Vitamin E, and more.

Daily affirmations and yoga have kept my mind positive and my body limber as I've been home recuperating.

Every patient carries her or his own doctor inside. – Albert Schweitzer

Based on both my research and my intuition, I believe I am in early perimenopause, and that that is the root of my recent health problems. For example, perimenopausal hormone changes are known to cause frequent urination, vaginal dryness, and a tendency to urinary tract infections. My body is changing, and I can feel it!

At 40, my sleep is already being disrupted by hot flashes and night sweats. My mood swings are typical companions to perimenopausal hormonal swings. Hormonal changes would also explain the palpitations and anxiety I have recently experienced. And my periods vary from 4 days light to 10 days heavy, from a 21-day cycle, to a 36-day cycle, when they were always regular before. So, I'm going to try some natural progesterone cream during my next cycle, and research herbal remedies, and I will let you know how that goes.

I am working on creating a CD of healing affirmations, "Affirmations for Transforming Health." The CD will include a brief relaxation exercise following by positive statements you can listen to, to promote your mental and physical health. I plan to have it available to purchase soon. If you are interested, please send me an email at southhillsyoga@gmail.com.

The health of the people is really the foundation upon which all their happiness and all their powers as a state depend. – Benjamin Disraeli

I've been very happy about the results of our national and local elections, and feel optimistic about the healing and rejuvenation of both myself and our society as a whole.

"Yes We Can!"

New Will.i.am Video Celebrates Obama Victory

New Will.i.am Video "It's a New Day" Celebrates Obama's Historic Victory!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Don't Try to Relax

Don't try to relax. Trying to relax is NOT relaxing, it's working! When you tell yourself, "try to relax," you're actually creating pressure, effort, and therefore, stress. So, allow yourself to relax, let yourself relax. Relaxation is the absence of effort, the absence of pressure. Allow, let go, float on the surface of a crystal-clear lake of stillness.

Learning to relax is remembering your childhood innocence -- the time before illness, pain, work, bills, parenting, errands, chores, and grown-up responsibilities. Watch a young child sleeping, their face calm, peaceful, belly-breathing, effortless. Remember your own innocence.

Everything is okay. It's all going to be fine. Nothing is more important than your health. Let go of the past -- you did your best, it's all over and done. Let go of the future -- life is unfolding and evolving naturally, it will all take care of itself in its own time.

Be here now. Be fully present in this moment. Here and now, everything is all right. Allow yourself to relax. Do nothing. Just be. You are a human being, not a human doing. Let yourself relax. Let go. Be well.

Helpful Hints:

• Accept pain as a message that you are doing something that is out of sync with your natural rhythm, or that you don’t really want to do.

• Make decisions that honor your body's needs.

• Create a new paradigm wherein you don't need pain as an excuse to take it easy and take care of yourself.

• When you help others, let it be from integrity and self-love (serve in a way that respects ahimsa towards yourself, too).

• To relax, you need to NOT do all the other things you could be doing instead (give yourself permission to do less, to REST).

• Don't "try" to relax. You can't MAKE yourself relax. Just let yourself relax.

• Surrender to your Higher Power, and Let Go.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Positive Birth Story... at Home!

Positive Birth Story... at Home!

We've all heard (or experienced) our share of negative birth stories. The c-section rate is astronomical (33%), and tales of marathon labors, multiple medical interventions, and tragic outcomes overwhelm and frighten us. But positive birth experiences ARE possible, and if your pregnancy is low-risk, a positive experience is more likely with a trained midwife and/or doula at your side.

Here is the positive birth story of my daughter, Sequoia, born five years ago:

The morning of my son Ben's 10th birthday, I sat on the edge of his bed, reminiscing with him about his birth, and discussing our plans to celebrate his birthday that evening. Meanwhile, I could feel mild contractions, which felt like uterine deja-vu. I didn't think much of it at the time. I was six days past my due-date, and had been having mild contractions (false alarms) on and off for about three weeks, to no avail. Ben went off to school, and I took a nap.

The mild contractions resumed in the mid-afternoon, so I called our lay midwife, Lara, to come over. We were planning a home birth, and at this point, she was making house calls. She said I was 3-1/2 centimeters dilated, but not yet in active labor. She gave me a brief cervical massage, to try to gently help things along. Like most women who have carried past their due date, I was quite ready to "get this over with"!

At 4:00 p.m., while my partner, Rob, was picking up Ben from school, I felt a warm gush of fluid. My water broke! Now we were getting somewhere. Rob came home and sat with me in our living room as my contractions intensified. All the yoga and breathing techniques I'd been practicing were VERY helpful! I was able to stay focused and relaxed as the sensations got stronger.

Lara returned, and my friend Phoebe, a doula and massage therapist, arrived. Phoebe was supposed to me at my side, but surprisingly, Rob was able to be all the support I needed. That was great news, so Phoebe could take Ben out for his birthday for some pizza and ice cream, while Rob and I focused on birthing our baby.

We moved upstairs to the comfort of our bedroom. The midwife laid absorbent pads all over the floor and bed, so I could move around freely, and then she left us to labor in peace. I mostly leaned on Rob, standing and swaying my hips, as he leaned against the support of the wall. All the daily walks and yoga practice had strengthened my legs, so I was able to stand for the next few hours and allow gravity to encourage labor to progress.

I focused on breathing slowly, grounding with the support of my partner, and relaxing into the contractions. Often I would moan, in low, steady tones. In the background, a subliminal relaxation tape played softly in a continuous loop. Labor felt like a long, intense meditation.

By around 8:30 p.m., however, I had "hit a wall." The contractions had gotten so strong I was no longer able to stay calm, and I was instead literally rolling around on the floor in anguish. I kept saying, "I don't know, I don't know if I can do this." I was in the transition phase of labor. Lara gave me some motherwort tincture in a little water. Within a short time, I had calmed down, and she went back downstairs.

Suddenly, it felt like my whole body opened up, and I could feel the baby moving down the birth canal. The baby was coming out! The intensity of feeling the baby's head crowning stunned me speechless. Meanwhile, as through most of the labor, only Rob and I were in the room, but it was time for the midwife, pronto! I shouted the only word that came to mind: "Burning!" Well, that got everyone running up the stairs.

I wanted to stand, so Rob held me under one arm, and Lara's assistant held me under the other arm. Ben and Phoebe watched from behind, as Lara supported my perineum to try to avoid tearing. Since I had torn in the front at my first birth (the nurse-midwives at the birth center had refused to let me squat, and insisted I lean back), I supported my own labia with my hand as the baby's head crowned.

In just a few pushes (with lots of low, open sounds from the big cavewoman I had suddenly become), the baby's head was out! From behind, I heard a stunned Ben exclaim, "it's a head!" (I don't think he was REALLY sure there was a baby in there until that moment!)

The baby was in an awkward position, with her right hand tucked under her left cheek. Lara skillfully maneuvered the baby's protruding right elbow out, and I did not tear. At 9:38 p.m., on my son's 10th birthday, our baby was born, on our bed, in our home.

As I held the baby for the first time, Ben asked the inevitable question, "is it a boy or a girl?" It hadn't even occurred to me to check, but then I did -- "it's a girl!" "Welcome to the world, little girl," I told her, and then nursed her for the first time, as our family cuddled in our bed. We named her Sequoia. Then I had a shower while they changed the bed-sheets and cleaned, weighed, and measured little Sequoia -- 6 lbs., 15 oz. Two children born exactly ten years apart to the day -- life is so interesting!

By 11:00 p.m., our visitors were gone, Ben was tucked in, and Rob, Sequoia, and I were snuggled in the same bed in which our baby had just been born. How wonderful to be able to give birth naturally at home! What a miracle! I believe Sequoia's positive home birth gave our family a wonderful bonding experience and healthy start.

I wish the blessings of natural childbirth for more women and babies everywhere...


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Yoga Techniques for Election Anxiety

November 4 is creeping up, right alongside stress and anxiety levels for most of us. We all need some chill-out techniques to bring our nervous systems back to a functional level. Here are a few quick yoga fix techniques to calm things down a bit, from Tara Stiles.

watch here or on youtube...

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This yoga technique has been used India for thousands of years to calm people down when they get too frazzled. Apparently election stress is nothing new. So first come to a comfortable sitting position. It doesn't matter if you are at home on your bed, or couch, or at work. This will only take a few minutes. Extend your pinky and ring finger of your right hand and cover your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through your left nostril for four counts. Close your left nostril with your ring and pinky finger (both nostrils are now closed). Hold here for four counts. Move your thumb away from your right nostril and exhale for four counts. Hold empty for four counts. Reverse the whole thing and repeat for a few minutes. Keep your breathing slow and steady...relax and enjoy!

Three Wise Monkeys

I'm not sure if this is a traditional yoga move but it works. Adapted from Japanese tradition, these Three Wise Monkeys together embody the proverbial principle to "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." The three monkeys are Mizaru, covering his eyes, who sees no evil; Kikazaru, covering his ears, who hears no evil; and Iwazaru, covering his mouth, who speaks no evil. Sometimes there is also a fourth monkey appearing with the other three, Shizaru, who covers his abdomen, or crotch, or just crosses his arms. Shizaru symbolizes the principle of "do no evil." Not a Palin favorite.

Vigorously rub your palms together creating a little bit of heat. Place the heel of your hands on your eyes and let your palms and fingers rest on your forehead. Breathe here for a few breaths and enjoy the warmth moving into your brain. Repeat the rubbing of your hands and place them on your ears next. Hold for a few breaths. This move gives a nice feeling of shutting out the outside world, even if just for a few moments. Rub your palms together one more time and place them on your mouth. This is supposed to prevent us from saying any evil, a big test for all of us during anxious times. The last monkey, Shizaru, is considered as extra credit, although should probably be required for some.

Have fun and don't let 'em get you down!

-- Tara Stiles

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Election: Transforming the Health of America

This election is not helping my chronic anxiety. I'm sure I'm not the only one on pins and needles awaiting the results on November 4th. Although I decisively chose my candidate months ago, I spend far too much time glued to the online media:

Huffington Post
Air America
Rachel Maddow
Brave New World TV
The Daily Kos
Real Clear Politics

For comic relief, I enjoy:

Saturday Night Live
Dave Letterman
Jon Stewart

...but that of course does not divert my focus away from the election.

Greg Palast has me petrified about the GOP stealing the election, and Naomi Wolf has me frightened of impending fascism. Even Rolling Stone is sounding the alert about voter purging. Yikes! I recently joined Common Cause to promote a fair and just electoral process. Thank Goddess for my anxiety-relieving remedies (see posted list).

Our individual health depends on our environment being conducive to health. That means we need a healthy economy, an adequate health care system, and leaders who care about all of our well-being, including the poor, the middle class, women, and minorities.

Health also depends on stress reduction, since 85% of all illness is caused by stress. Societal stress is sky-high in the U.S. right now, and many people I know are battling stress-related illnesses.

Let's all vote in a new government that will improve our quality of life, so we can all get well.

Barack Obama
Support Democratic Candidates

Somehow we’ll all make it through the next two weeks, and with Grace, hard work, and vigilance, we will have a positive electoral outcome. Together we can transform the health of the United States of America.

Please vote, volunteer, donate, whatever you can.

Monday, October 20, 2008


by Janet Foner
MindFreedom International Board of Directors & psychiatric survivor

10. COOL: You're cool, you hold everything in and always put "a good face on it" -- you never cry or laugh much, or show emotion in any way, certainly not in public. Your psychiatric label is "tearlessnicity."

9. SERIOUS: You always do the proper thing -- never anything unusual, playful, spontaneous, "different," wild, or creative, if you can help it. You believe playing and being silly is beneath your dignity and only for children. You have a psychiatric label of "stiff upper lippity."

8. NICE: You always act nice even if you can't stand the person to whom you're talking. You never say what you're really thinking. Your diagnosis: "inappropriate smiling."

7. ALWAYS RIGHT: You always do everything right -- wear the "right clothes, "say the "right thing," associate only with the "right people" -- you know there is only one right way, and it's your way. You are diagnosed as "conformity prone."

6. BORING: Your conversations, life and living space are dull and boring, and your lawn is always manicured no matter what. In the more advanced stages you have much inner "lifelessness" and "flat affect" -- in other words, you are one of the "walking dead." Your psychiatric label is "hyperinactivity."

5. OBEDIENT: You always try not to offend anyone, especially those in authority -- your security seems to depend on that. So therefore you are willing to put expediency ahead of principles. Your psychiatric label is "adjustment prone/adjustment reaction."

4. GULLIBLE: You believe that the doctor always knows best, that the media is telling the truth (major newspapers always print the facts, right?), and that the medical model of "mental illness" has been proven scientifically. Your diagnosis is "normal naivete disorder."

3. AVOID FEELINGS: You are out of touch with yourself, with the natural world, and with what is going on with other people. It has become too hard to face how others are being oppressed, so you choose a more comfortable path. TV starts to look very, very good. You are labeled with "severe blinderitis."

2. DON'T TRUST YOURSELF: You learned in school that it's important to always pay attention to those in charge and not to trust your own thinking. You learned to "play the game," and you are still doing that. You believe your own lies. You have an advanced case of "schoolmania," which, if not stopped in its early stages can lead to severe overwork and, in advanced stages, "corporate asskissingitis."

1. INDOORISM: You lost touch with the wildness in nature. You do not rebel against ecological destruction. Label: "Tame."

DON'T PANIC: If you have two or more of these signs, within any lunar cycle, you probably only have "residual normality." No case of 100% normality has ever been discovered. So it's not too late! Join MindFreedom International, support one another, get out into nature, and especially take action to stop psychiatric oppression before serious persistent "normality" sets in.

Yoga: From New Age to Old Age

Here's an excellent NBC video about the benefits of yoga for older people:

Yoga: From New Age to old age
Yoga: From New Age to old age

Gentle yoga is a wonderful way to stay young and feel your best!

Friday, October 17, 2008

We're All in this Together

The Divine in me acknowledges and greets the Divine in you.

In the movie As Good As It Gets, Jack Nicholson tells his companions, who are sharing stories about their deeply painful life experiences, that "some [people] have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car….What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you're that pissed that so many others had it good." It's true that comparing your pain and suffering to the supposed health and happiness of others is a sure recipe for envy, resentment, isolationism, and depression.

But really, no one's life is all "good times, noodle salad." Everyone's got something. That's right, everyone has got something. We ALL have our challenges. The wealthy, gorgeous celebrities – the supposed "beautiful people" – have their drug addictions and divorces. The smiling lady across the street is putting on a good show as she copes with her alcoholic mother or her abusive husband or her massive credit card debt. Everyone's got something.

If you saw me in the grocery store today, or in my yoga class, you'd think I was a vivacious, healthy, attractive woman, and if you were having one of your bad days, you might even be jealous of me and annoyed by my perkiness. Well, don't be. I spent all last night awake in severe pain and anguish. Don't let my smile fool you – I'm smiling to remember the sweetness of life, to try to lift my spirits. Everyone's got something, and I've got something I'm dealing with too, just like you.

Don't waste your energy going down the self-destructive path to envy and resentment. You have your challenges, yes, and so does everyone else. Maybe your friend is having a good day or week or year, but we all have our crosses to bear. They say the strongest among us carry the heaviest crosses, so really, proportionately, we're all equally challenged. Maybe next week, or next year, your happy-go-lucky friend will be the one needing your help and support. Don't waste your time comparing. Just be who you are, where you're at, and trust the process of life.

Sorry to say, it is also a mistake to get too cocky during the good times. If you're fortunate enough to be having an easy time of things lately, enjoy it, appreciate it, even revel in it. But know that life is filled with both ups and downs, and what goes up must come down. Just don't imagine yourself as categorically different from those who are currently less fortunate than you. Everyone has both good times and hard times, and everyone is human.

We are all in this together. Instead of withdrawing into an isolationist fantasy of "poor me" or "lucky me" – look around. Really look around. See the commonalities, our common human experiences. We are all raising families or part of a family. We are all doing work of some kind – either for pay or in school or at home – and trying to do our best at it. We are all trying to live as ethically as possible, within our varying definitions of what that means. From atheists to monks to zealots, we're all following our internal moral code as best we can. We are all coping with a society that is out of sync with our natural rhythms, highly stressful, and physically and emotionally toxic.

We are all in relationship with each other. We are all imperfect. We are all evolving and learning, each at our own pace. We are all beautiful. We are all struggling with challenges – some with financial stresses, some with addictions, some with illnesses or injuries, some with family dramas, some with emotional traumas – something for everyone. Everyone's got something. If you're doing well, help out someone who isn't. If you're not doing well, reach out to someone who is. All together, no "something" is too tough to manage. All together, we can handle anything.

The Serenity Prayer: Complete, Unabridged, Original Version

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


-- by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

St. Francis' Prayer

This always inspires me...

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Beloved, grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console,
not so much to be understood as to understand,
not so much to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying that we awake to eternal life.

- St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bipolar Disorder ???

"Bipolar Disorder" -- what a moniker!

"Bipolar" is such a misnomer. The term implies two poles, or extremes of mood, and a person who switches back and forth between one extreme and the other. Many people with that label have an illness which does not resemble that model. I personally have "mixed episodes," which means I'm either well, or I'm a combination of agitation and depression that is like both poles crashing together at once.

People who are labelled bipolar are actually just people. We are people who struggle with mood swings at times, but at other times we are not actively ill, and are as even-tempered as anyone. While on the appropriate combination of mood-stabilizing medications, natural supplements (such at omega-3 oils, amino acids, vitamins and minerals), and/or lifestyle modifications (such as yoga, meditation, regular exercise, drug and alcohol avoidance, and stress reduction), most people with bipolar disorder live normal, productive lives in our communities. Bipolar people, on average, tend to be highly intelligent and creative, so if we are relatively stable and actively included in society, we have so much to offer.

While anxiety and depression are considered acceptable deviations from "normal" mood, for some reason the word "bipolar" often leads to fear and rejection. It is true that a small percentage of bipolar people spend a small percentage of the time hospitalized for mania. However, such people should be viewed with sympathy and supported through their healing crises. Mental illness is an illness, and like any other illness, it has a biological basis and needs medication, rest, nurturing, and support to heal, NOT shaming, judging, or shunning.

Many of us bipolar people are "bipolar 2," which means we never get full-blown mania, just a combination of depression and "hypomania," which is really just a very good mood. Being bipolar, however, means no matter how depressed we get, we cannot take antidepressant medication, due to the risk of triggering a manic episode. So, we struggle with our depressions, and the many side effects of mood-stabilizing medications, and must hide our condition due to the risk of alienating friends and co-workers.

Social support has been proven as one of the most effective treatments for mental illnesses of all kinds, yet social support is denied to us, due to the stigma of our diagnosis. This needs to change. I am "coming out" as bipolar in this blog to show that a real person, a mom, a health-conscious yoga teacher and writer, and a friend and neighbor, is bipolar, and that is okay.

I'm not a danger to anyone, but I sure do get moody. I take my Lithium and do my best, with the help of my loved ones, to ride out my depressive episodes. Meanwhile, I take care of my children, I write and draw and practice yoga, I eat healthy foods and take nutritional supplements, and I hope to make a positive difference in the world.

There are so many people out there suffering right now, in so many different ways. We need to come together, not come apart. The toxic chemical load and accumulation of mental, spiritual, and physiological stresses in all of our bodies is so great, we are all feeling the burden in a variety of ways. For me, my nervous system is the most vulnerable, thus mental illness and chronic pain. For you, it may be something else. We are all dealing, the best we can.

Let's support, encourage, and nurture each other, as we work together to heal the world for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. We can do this!

And please, if you care about the future of the world, please VOTE NOVEMBER 4TH.

Mom's Manic
Dad's Depressive
You Do the Math

Bipolar Links:

Mood Disorder & Bipolar Info

Bipolar World

Bipolar Disorder Articles

Bipolar 2 Disorder

Mood Stabilizing Medication

Alternative & Natural Bipolar Treatments

Safe Harbor - Natural Treatments

Psychology Today - Recent Article

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why Worry?

There are only two things to worry about -- either you are sick or you are well.

If you are well, there is nothing to worry about.

If you are sick, there are only two things to worry about -- either you will live or you will die.

If you will live, there is nothing to worry about.

If you die, there are only two things to worry about -- either you will go to heaven or you will go to hell.

If you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about.

And if you go to hell, you'll be so busy shaking hands with old friends, you won't have time to worry.


--Author Unknown

When you're losing your mind, it is important to keep your sense of humor.

10 Ways to Help Ease Anxiety:

1. Slow, Long, Deep Breathing (lengthen your exhale)

2. A Brisk Walk (outside if possible)

3. Affirmations (stop the runaway train of mental panic, with statements such as "I am safe" and "I trust the process of life.")

4. A Warm Bath

5. A Warm Oil Massage (can be a self-massage)

6. Bach Flower Rescue Remedy

7. Herbs for Anxiety -- skullcap, passionflower, hops, valerian, etc.

8. Amino Acids and Nutrients for Anxiety -- L-Theanine, GABA, 5-HTP or L-Tryptophan, B-Complex, Calcium/Magnesium, etc.

9. Talk with a Supportive Friend for reassurance

10. Professional Counseling and/or Prescription Medication, if necessary.

You CAN feel better!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mental Illness: Healing without Shame

Having experienced both mental and physical illnesses, and both mental and physical pain, and having worked with numerous clients with both issues, I am convinced that there is no substantive difference between the two. There is not “two” – mind and body are one. There is a myth that mental pain and physical pain are fundamentally distinct, and that is wholly untrue.

Where your illness manifests – in the brain as depression, anxiety, or psychosis – or in the body as heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or cancer – is simply a function of genetic predisposition. The more genetically vulnerable body parts break down in the presence of chronic stress, toxins, and a depleted immune system. Furthermore, mental and physical illnesses go hand in hand – physical illness stresses the mind, often causing depression and anxiety; and mental illness stresses the body, reducing immune and digestive function and increasing the risk of heart disease. The national legislature finally recognized this parity in groundbreaking new rules which will ensure equal insurance coverage for mental and physical illnesses.

Whether you’re feeling musculoskeletal pain or emotional anguish, it hurts just the same. Whether you’re limping with a cane or hobbled by depression, it’s just as hard to get out of bed in the morning. Mental pain and illness may in fact be more debilitating than physical pain and illness, because of the stigma that prevents us from receiving the social support we need to heal. If we complain about our aching back, family and friends are usually sympathetic, fetching us extra pillows, and perhaps offering us a massage, or at least a compassionate ear. If we complain about our aching mind, however, family and friends may back away, fearing contagion from our negative emotions, or perhaps judging us, telling us to “buck up” or “shake it off,” as if we could.

Does anyone ever tell a person with an aching back, knee, or shoulder to “buck up” or “shake it off”? No, they offer to carry that heavy package for you or fetch you an ice pack. Depression and other mental illnesses are astoundingly common in this country, with nearly 10% of Americans experiencing a depressive disorder every year, and over 22% (over 1 in 5!) suffering from a diagnosable mental illness each year. Yet we cannot talk about our illnesses with the people who care about us – or with anyone! – lest we be judged, shunned, rejected, or tongue-lashed. I personally have lost several friends by “coming out” as manic-depressive. Frankly, I think we should all be less bothered by the people in our communities who have mood disorders, and more concerned about the people running our government who are sociopaths! Mindfreedom International is working to remove the stigma and eliminate the persecution of people with mental illnesses, across the globe.

In the meantime, we must remember that just as Tylenol won’t cure a toothache – it will just dull the pain temporarily until you can resolve the cause of the ache with your dentist’s assistance – the same goes for psychiatric drugs. Prozac doesn’t cure depression, Xanax doesn’t cure anxiety, Haldol doesn’t cure psychosis – they just dull the mind temporarily. Until you find out where the source of your mental illness is, learn to love yourself deeply, and heal your emotional pain, medications can only offer temporary symptom relief – often with numerous side effects and medication-addictions.

With holistic healing, social support, counseling, life changes, nutritional support, and a fearless self-inventory, you can heal mental illness. Since mental illness affects your whole self – body, mind, and spirit – any treatment plan must address your physical self (nutritional deficiencies, neurotransmitter imbalances, sleep, and exercise), your mental self (counseling, affirmations, social support, and cognitive-behavior therapy), and your spiritual self (energy healing, EFT, NMT, acupuncture, homeopathy, yoga, tai chi, and qi gong).

For now, take the medications if you really need them. Just remember not to rely complacently on them, but to do the healing work necessary to transform your illness into health. And remember, there is no shame in being ill – you deserve loving support and care, no matter what or where your illness is. May you be well!

Some helpful support organizations for folks with mental illness:
White Bird Clinic

Thursday, October 9, 2008

NDs & MDs - Choosing a Doctor

Naturopathic doctors are the best at preventing and treating chronic illness. They are trained to treat the whole person, holistically, not just as a conglomeration of body parts. NDs are knowledgeable in a wide variety of healing modalities, including nutrition, homeopathy, herbal medicine, and psychology. NDs excel at correcting systemic imbalances, such as the hormonal, nutritional, and neurotransmitter imbalances that cause mental illness. They can help you heal from longstanding chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, depression, diabetes, chronic fatigue, premenstrual syndrome, and much more.

Naturopathic Physician Information

If I crash my car, need surgery, or have an acute illness that requires prescription drugs, (god forbid!) I need an MD. Allopathic doctors provide valuable services for emergency and acute care. Allopathic drugs are powerful at relieving symptoms, and can be life-saving. They can also cause nasty side-effects and unintended consequences, such as the antibiotic drugs that kill all the body's beneficial bacteria, leading to candida (yeast) overgrowth. Allopathic MDs can be good listeners and helpful allies, just like naturopathic NDs. They just don't have the holistic training that NDs have, and thus their success at resolving systemic, chronic illnesses is limited.

If you do need an MD, try to find someone who listens, cares, and has time to answer your questions. Many MDs nowadays work in overcrowded "managed care" facilities, and have very little time to spend with each patient. An independent MD with a small practice may be able to spend more time with you, and thus be a more effective ally for your health. Here in Eugene, I see Dr. Pamela Wible, who has created a new model for responsive, patient-oriented, community medicine at her Family & Community Medicine clinic at Tamarack Wellness Center.

Naturopathic doctors are legally licensed in 15 states and the District of Columbia, and I feel fortunate that here in Oregon, NDs are licensed as primary care physicians and covered by many health insurance policies. I recently found a wonderful new ND here in Eugene, Dr. Ananda Stiegler. Dr. Stiegler is knowledgeable, compassionate, a creative problem-solver, and a great listener. She recently opened a new office in downtown Eugene, Balance in Health. We are working together as a team to resolve my health imbalances holistically and effectively.

Whoever your doctor is, please remember to speak up, ask questions, and advocate for your needs. Despite their professional expertise, YOU are the true expert at your own health. Only YOU can heal yourself. You just need some help! So make sure that whoever your doctor is, you work together as a team.

Wishing you all health, well-being, and happiness.

Thank you for your kind support!

Thank you so much to all the wonderful people who have responded with emails and comments on this blog. I deeply appreciate your support, kindness, and encouragement. It helps so much to know I am not going through this alone, and that there are people who care about me and believe in my ability to heal and be well.

I also really appreciate the positive feedback I've received about this blog. This is my first attempt at writing for the public. I've been keeping a journal almost every day for over ten years, but never let anyone read anything I'd written until now. And, obviously, this is very personal stuff!! So thank you so much for your support and encouragement of my writing. I truly wish to help others and reach out and connect, so others going through health crises will know they are not alone, too.

Love and healing for us all!
Namaste' ~Anita

Healing vs. Symptom Relief

Healing vs. Symptom Relief

It is important to admit you may need symptom relief – at least temporarily – to cope, to fulfill your family obligations, or to get back on your feet. But please don’t lean on that crutch forever. Symptom-relieving medication fools you into believing you’re well, when you’re actually just drugged. And when the pills wear off, you may be worse off than when you began, with side effects and a drug-addiction to boot. Take the drugs, if and when you really need them, get the shots, have the surgery, do what you need to do, get the best treatment your money can buy, for now. If you need it, it’s okay.

When I was 24, I gave birth to a son, and 6 weeks later my newborn’s son walked out on us. I coped the best I could, received public assistance briefly, got help from my family, but by the following winter, I felt very overburdened and alone. I developed a severe case of arthritis, and felt like an 80-year-old. I was in severe pain in my knees and wrists, and could not open a jar or sit on the floor to play with my crawling baby. The Rheumatologist ran tests and determined I had joint inflammation, with no known cause. Well, whatever the cause, I was unable to function. Tylenol, advil, naproxen, nothing helped. The doctor recommended prednisone, a steroid. I was vegetarian yoga practitioner who had just proudly had a natural childbirth, and the last thing I wanted was to be on such a strong drug.

I made the difficult choice to take the prednisone, temporarily, so I could feel better, and in the meantime, to learn everything I could about arthritis and natural healing. I coped with the drug’s side effects, and went to work researching and reading -- before the convenience of Google and Yahoo. I found the groundbreaking book, You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay, which helped me to transform my health and my life. Hay taught me about affirmations, and how each illness has a psycho-emotional source. The source of arthritis is “feeling unloved, criticism, resentment.” Well, that made a lot of sense, considering my recent abandonment by my baby’s father.

I began reciting affirmations daily, and clearing my emotional blocks to health. I found part-time child care so I could have some time to nurture my own needs and feel less resentful. And I found an arthritis diet that eliminates all nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and red and green peppers), that alleviated my joint pains. (See the research link here.) I was able to wean myself off of the steroids, and I haven’t needed them since.

Taking symptom-relieving drugs is a tool to give you back the strength you need to heal yourself. You may need medications at times, especially as you embark on the journey towards wellness, or when you have bad days, unexpected life-stresses, or setbacks. That is okay. Just remember that symptom-relieving medications DO NOT HEAL YOU. Only you can heal yourself.

While you’re feeling able to cope, thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, take advantage of your temporary lack of symptoms and invest your energy in creating a long-term wellness plan. Read, research, and reach out for support, guidance, and assistance. And most of all, reach IN, inside yourself. Don’t give your power away to any doctor or author or expert. Only you know what you need to heal. Befriend yourself, love yourself, get to know yourself and your illness. Get to know the who, what, why, where, when and how of yourself and your illness, follow the steps to healing, and don’t give up. You can do this.

Pharmaceutical Corporate Greed: Beware

The drug companies want you to think you need them, and so do many (not all) doctors and insurance companies. Face it. Everyone and their uncle are making tons of money off you being sick. If you get well, they all lose their payroll. If we all eat healthily, exercise moderately, rest, reduce stress, and raise our stress thresholds with nutrients and lifestyle changes, we all get well. It is a sad and frightening truth that there are several gigantic multinational corporations who are in the business of insidiously ensuring that we never get well, that instead we continue to increase their profits by more and more of us getting sicker and sicker.

Link to Michael Moore's video, SICKO

It’s not so much that corporations are out to get you – I don’t personally believe in any organized, malicious corporate conspiracy – it’s just that they care entirely for their own profits and not at all for your well-being. There was a study done recently that analyzed an average corporation psychologically, and found that, by nature, corporations are sociopaths. Do you really want a sociopath telling you what to buy, what to eat, and how to live?

Link to The Corporation, such a powerful documentary!

For example, look at the billions of dollars spent on advertising, not just for pharmaceutical drugs, but to encourage us to buy and use the items which most clearly violate Ahimsa (non-harming). An unbelieveable amount of money is spent to persuade us to want, crave and buy things that we know are no good for us, such as junk foods and fast food (unhealthy diet), TV shows and new cars (sedentary lifestyle), and all the material things we don’t really need which cost money (forcing us to overwork to pay for it all).

Corporations see us as “consumers,” as purchasing units. Well, you and I know we are humans. And that we cannot, try as we might, buy health – only, perhaps, symptom relief. The only health comes from a healthy lifestyle – from changing your life, not from changing your meds, and certainly not from buying garbage you don’t need. The only healing comes from within. The only voices telling you otherwise are from those who intend to profit from misleading you, to profit, in fact, from your ill health, from your suffering. Lets put those greedy goons out of business, shall we? Let’s all get together and get well.

Symptom Relief can Help:

Some reasons you may need or want to take symptom-relieving medication:

1) Pain
Pain greatly decreases your mobility and your quality of life. Pain-relieving medications can allow you to function.

2) Sleep Disorders
Disrupted sleep disrupts your life, and can worsen your prognosis. A non-addictive, occasionally-used sleep remedy can be a life-saver.

3) Illness Progression
A progressive disease such as Multiple Sclerosis requires medications to slow its progress. Natural therapies and self-healing can be used as an adjunct to medications to improve quality of life and outcome.

You are Brave and Resilient:

Sometimes we have to make the difficult choice between dealing with medications that we hate, or dealing with symptoms that we hate. We may have to swallow a bitter pill, both literally and figuratively, and make major sacrifices in order to just get through the day. Being ill isn’t pretty. It is a Tantric path, the path of the Warrior. You are walking the tightrope between Liberation and Despair. All around you lay the pitfalls of self-doubt and self-sabotage. Give yourself credit for all your hard work. You are struggling against tremendous odds. You are brave and resilient. You will get through this. Just getting out of bed each day is a victory. Bravo!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dangers of Antibiotics, Vulvodynia, and Healing Prayers

Since I'm struggling with my health lately, I would love it if you could send me some positive healing energy or prayers. It turns out I had an adverse allergic reaction to the antibiotic Cipro this summer, and it may be months before I've fully recovered. Meanwhile, I've got chronic pain, neurological damage, & inflammation to the point I've been unable to work or do much, and my emotional health has justifiably gone downhill as well. It's a healing crisis, and I'm doing everything I can to get well again, and to ride this out as well as possible.

Here's info about what's happened to me (the dangers of quinolone drugs):

Having gone through natural childbirth twice (including tearing my labia), plus several car accidents, various sprains, daily neck/shoulder/back pain for the past two years, three root canal surgeries, and numerous bouts of suicidal depression, I can clearly say, without a doubt, this is the WORST HEALING CRISIS and most painful experience I have ever had in my entire life. It is lasting months and no matter how hard I try, recovery is unbelievably slow.

The worst part is the part of my body that is affected is my genitals, so I cannot sit comfortably, wear underwear or pants, or enjoy any sexual experiences, so my quality of life has gone way down hill. And since my genital area is the affected area, there is a feeling of embarrassment and secrecy -- a truly invisible disability with a layer of shame and a permeating feeling of vulnerability and unsafety at my root chakra.

I am hoping to get through the other side of this, offer advice to others about helpful treatments through my blog, and help others avoid my fate if possible. Avoid any unnecessary antibiotic use!!!

Here's a link with lots more info about vulvodynia (my current condition) and some of the treatments I'm trying: http://www.vulvodynia.com/faq.htm

Sorry about the rant. Here's a more cheerful link for fun: http://peteyandpetunia.com/VoteHere/VoteHere.htm
And please get out the vote!

So please send me some healing energy and good thoughts -- I need all the help I can get!

Love, Anita

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How to Create Your Own Affirmations, in 12 Easy Steps:

I owe a great debt of gratitude to Louise Hay, author of the groundbreaking book, You Can Heal Your Life. When I picked up her book in 1994, she showed me what a powerful tool my mind is, and how that power can be harnessed for good or ill. Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way also showed me how important it is to clear out our mental blocks in order to achieve our full human potential.

I have been creating my own personalized affirmations for nearly 15 years, and have found this to be an amazingly effective process for transforming your health and life, and want to share it with everyone. Here’s how:

Everything we do, we do by choice. What we put into our bodies, with whom we maintain relationships, and how we spend each day, are all up to us. Sometimes, however, our choices are made subconsciously, and sometimes those choices are based on fear, anger, pain, and negative past experiences, which have created negative beliefs about ourselves, others, or life itself. A common underlying belief, for example, is “I don’t deserve it (anything positive).” Others are “life’s not fair” or “that will never work.” These beliefs shape the choices we make.

Emotions also shape our choices. Fear, especially – fear of success, fear of failure, fear of making a mistake – can paralyze us and prevent us from making any choice at all. Once we become aware of what our negative emotions and beliefs are – our “negative self-talk” – we gain the power to change them. Transforming negative beliefs and feelings by counteracting them with affirmations frees us to make new, healthier choices. This freedom has the power to transform our health and our lives in a positive way. Self-awareness of the motives behind our choices, and a sincere willingness to change, make anything possible.

What would you like to change about yourself? How would you like to be healthier? Identify the health condition or behavior you are trying to change – for example, “I want to be free of pain,” or “I want to stop eating junk food” – and write it clearly at the top of a page. The most effective affirmations are those you create yourself, customized to directly counteract your negative self-talk. Here’s how to create your own powerful, healing affirmations:

1) On a left-hand page of a notebook, write out all of your negative beliefs surrounding the behavior you want to change. You might declare aloud, “I am _________ (what you want to become)” and notice what negative thoughts and emotions appear in your mind. For example, if I said, “I am perfectly healthy,” my mind would shout, “I’m a mess! I’m sick all the time! I am totally unhealthy! I hate myself.” Write all that mind-garbage down.

2) Enter a state of relaxation, using meditation or yoga techniques if you know them. Or simply close your eyes for a few minutes, breathe slowly and deeply, and relax all the parts of your body, one by one, as you allow yourself to feel lighter, quieter, and calmer. Center yourself in mindfulness, stepping outside of your unquiet mind to observe your thoughts and emotions.

3) One by one, state aloud the beliefs on your list and take note of memories and feelings that come up, and write those down on the left-hand page, below the beliefs from step #1. Following the above example, when I meditate on the above mind-garbage, I picture myself as a sickly child, home sick from school for the umpteenth time, excused from recess and too weak for sports. I feel worthless and weak as I remember.

4) Be willing to release any and all of the past habit patterns that created your unhealthy beliefs. (Please do not skip this important step!)

5) Declare aloud “I hereby release any and all resistance to change. I am ready, willing, and able to change. I hereby release the memories (state them) and the feelings (state them) which created my unhealthy beliefs.” Visualize letting the past go.

6) On the right-hand page of the notebook, create an exact opposite to counteract each statement of negativity. Create a positive, present-tense, active-verb, I-statement – which directly counteracts the mind-garbage from steps #1 and #3. These are your affirmations. In our example, I would write, “I am well. My health is improving every day. I love and accept myself exactly as I am. I am no longer a sad, weak child; I am now a strong, happy adult capable of a full, rewarding life.”

7) One by one, declare out loud your new beliefs from step #6, and as you do, notice any tension, fear, grief, anger, or memories that come up, allow your feelings and let them go. Declare again, “I hereby release any and all resistance to change. I am ready, willing, and able to change. I hereby release any and all memories and feelings which created my unhealthy beliefs.”

8) Every day, when you wake up, and again just before you go to sleep, recite your list of affirmations from step #6. You may notice new negative self-talk emerging as you say your daily affirmations. If this happens, simply repeat steps #1 – 8 to clear the rest of your related mind-garbage.

9) Continue this routine daily until you can recite your affirmations easily without any internal resistance, emotions, or memories getting in the way. Your affirmations are now your new beliefs. You did it!

10)In celebration, shred your list of mind-garbage. If possible, create a ritual to dispose of it, such as safely burning the paper as you declare, “Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, I am transformed!”

11)Post your list of positive affirmations where you can see it every day, as a reminder to yourself.

12)Praise yourself for your efforts and give yourself a nice reward – you just transformed your life!

The 12-step process above has been a tremendously powerful healing tool in my life. Try it yourself and see…
and please do let me know how this works for you!
Wishing you all healing, peace, and joy!

May you be healthy
May you be happy
May you be free from suffering
May you dwell in peace.

Blessed Be.

Affirmations Rule!

I find I simply MUST say daily affirmations, to counteract the negativity in my mind. If I skip even one day, my negative thinking snowballs into a self-destructive avalanche. If you pay attention to your own thoughts and beliefs, you may discover there’s a lot of negativity within your mind, too. Beliefs such as “I’m not good enough” or “sh*t happens” can wreak havoc in our lives, since our beliefs directly create our reality. By saying daily affirmations, we can learn to reprogram our own minds, and reclaim our ability to think and act freely and positively.

I learned to create affirmations from three classic books I read in the mid-1990s:
Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain
You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
These powerful books are enormously helpful for anyone on the path towards health, happiness, and transformation, or for anyone who wants to be. There are many other, newer affirmations guides on the market now too, so pick one that intuitively feels right for you!

The mind is a powerful tool that can be used constructively or destructively. Listen to the self-talk that runs in the background of your mind, as you work, play, and interact with others. If your self-talk includes words like “should,” “can’t,” or “bad,” you know you need affirmations to counteract your negative thinking. For example, if you say “I can’t afford that” enough times, you’ll find yourself struggling financially for a long, long time.

Sometimes self-talk is subconscious, and thus more tenacious and difficult to counteract. Journal-writing can help unearth the hidden messages we tell ourselves, and bring them into the light of awareness for transformation. For example, spilling out my thoughts in my daily journal helped me realize that deep down, I still believe I’m a bad person who doesn’t deserve good things. Therefore, subconsciously, I create drama and despair, to sabotage anything positive that I don’t believe I deserve. Daily affirmations are helping to reprogram my brain and gradually unseat such longstanding negativity.

Every day now, I say aloud, “I am a good person. I release any and all need for drama, self-punishment, or pain. I deserve the Good, health, peace, and joy.” Often, such positive words are hard to say – I almost choke on them at first, as my internal resistance blocks their vocalization. So I let go and release the resistance (which may mean “feeling my feelings” as I grieve and release the past), and keep saying the affirmations, every day, no matter what. Eventually, they do come true.

Words have power. “In the beginning was the word,” so they say. All words, spoken or unspoken, are magical incantations with the potential to transform your life. Create affirmations that are customized to counteract your own internal negativity, using positive, present-tense I-statements, and watch your health and life transform from the inside out.

Abracadabra! I am well.
More on affirmations to come soon….

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Why I Quit Teaching Yoga... and Started Writing

Deciding to quit teaching yoga has been a torturous process for me, filled with guilt, indecision, and inner conflict. I want so much to succeed and to help others, yet my body is hurting and I'm so terribly tired. For many months I've pushed myself to keep going, starting new classes when I've felt well enough, only to cancel them as my pain and fatigue symptoms flared.

Gradually I reduced my class load from 10-12 classes a week down to 4-5 classes, and eventually even that was too much. Meanwhile, I've been ardently working on my own healing, hoping to find the right combination of treatments to eliminate my flares completely -- hoping to "cure" my fibromyalgia.

Raised to succeed and to glean self-esteem from work, I felt terrible about myself for awhile. How can I quit? I've worked so hard to get here, all the training and effort, all the students and clients counting on me. Eventually I realized I'm not a failure or a bad person (saying daily affirmations has been essential!).

This illness is an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my life. It's time to stop teaching and start writing, something my inner voice has been nagging at me to do for a long time. It's time to follow Divine Guidance on a new and rewarding path, honoring my body's needs for rest and renewal while reaching out to help others. So here goes! May my self-expression be of service to you, for the highest good of all. Tikkun Olam.

Needs & Wants

I've always taught my kids about prioritizing wants and needs. My children's needs have always come before my own wants, for example. Now it's time to learn that lesson myself. Needs come before wants. My own needs must come before my own or other people's wants. I need: sleep, food, air, water, rest, health, safety, sanity, moderate exercise, and a creative and social outlet (as needed).

I may want success, recognition, to help others, to improve myself, and to heal the world, but my basic needs must come first. First and foremost, I need to be safe from harm: ahimsa. I provide for my safety, security, and basic needs first -- and for the safety and basic needs of my children -- and the rest is gravy. Amen.

As for wanting -- success, recognition, self-improvement, and to help and heal others and the world -- I can now achieve all that much better and easier through writing than through teaching. I can reach many more people, and more effectively, through the written word (and publishing and the wonderful internet!), than I can through teaching.

Writing, I can truly go with my own flow and honor my body's needs for rest and health. Teaching is a tiring expenditure of energy for me now -- I must be "on" even when I'm hurting or exhausted -- and even then I can only reach a handful of students.

I feel so glad and grateful for the many classes I've been able to teach, and I love my students so dearly, but now it's time to move on. I wish all my students health, peace, and happiness, now and always.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

10 Reasons I Love Walking in the Rain

Life is like a very long hike -- we can't go back, so we need to stop and rest along the way. And we need to provide for ourselves the fuel we need to go the distance -- lots of love! And remember to stop once and awhile, look around and get our bearings -- see the beauty all around us... and make sure we're still on the right path!

10 Reasons I Love Walking in the Rain:

1) It's quieter and more relaxing

2) It's cooler so I won't get overheated

3) There's way less people

4) The ground feels soft underfoot

5) The humidity soothes my dry skin, hair, etc.

6) No hyper sun-lovers shouting into their cell phones

7) No skin-cancer worries and no sunscreen needed

8) The sound of the rain is so comforting

9) The air is fresher and cleaner

10) Negative ions, baby!