26 March, 2014

Experiments in … health + wellness: getting clean!

Today I’d like to share how my elimination diet experience is going, as well as what I am doing to support the overall healing of my Self during this process.  I should first probably mention that this experiment, which just began as a simple elimination diet to reset my digestive system, is becoming something so much bigger and more profound as I continue to experience new sensations and awakenings, and to learn more about the many different ways to heal and support healing in my body, mind and spirit.  What began as unpleasant drudgery is more and more becoming exciting revitalization and restoration.  And no one could be more surprised about this shift in the experiment than I am.  

Despite being a longtime student and proponent of holistic healing, it seems I am only now “showing up” and really walking my talk rather than sputtering so much rhetoric.  My past is filled with examples of this unintentional hypocrisy.  I smoked cigarettes for years – even while I was practicing yoga and massage therapy.  (Gasp!  Yes, it’s true.  I admit it begrudgingly to make a point.)  I started fitness plans that I never completed.  (Can anyone identify?)  I offered loads of simplified, healing wisdom to my clients, but often fell short of incorporating that wisdom into my own life.  (Naughty, naughty!)  Oh sure, I had my toes in the waters, but I never had the courage or the self respect to just dive in and swim.  But, now, it seems, I’ve finally taken the plunge.  And it's delicious!

In my last post I mentioned that I was going to continue the elimination diet through the month of March as I felt I still had healing to do.  And I was right.  Soon after that posting I underwent a second wave of detox symptoms.  This round was slightly less intense than the first, but no less real.  As this round of symptoms started to die down, I made the decision [finally!] to kick the elimination diet up a notch by eliminating all fruits.  Yikes!  I knew all along that I really should eliminate fruits from my diet as I am consistently plagued by candida overgrowth*, but I really, really didn’t want to do it.  But ... I did it anyway. I’ve been fruit free since Monday, 17 March, and, so far, it’s not so bad.  Don’t get me wrong:  I miss fruit.  I miss it a lot.  But I’m managing okay without it ... for now.  And that’s how I’m supporting myself when I feel like tackling the fruit vendor in the market for just one little berry:  I’m reminding myself that this is a temporary gig.  I will have fruit again.  And when I do, I will be healthier, and the fruit will be even sweeter … and it will be better for my body.  It’s win-win!

When the fruit left my diet it was replaced with another round of detox symptoms.  (Further proof that I made the right decision.)  These are slowly starting to lessen in intensity and number, and I’m feeling even better than ever.  I’m only asking myself to be fruit free through the rest of the month of March, so only one more week to go.  I can certainly do that!

In support of my transition during this experiment, I’ve also been experimenting with various healing home practices and supplements.  I’m starting small, implementing a few things at a time, and hoping to build these practices into an actual holistic vitality-inducing lifestyle that will support me indefinitely.  Below I’ve written about some of the things I’ve already started adding in to my daily routine, but others I’ll post about as I incorporate them, so stay tuned.  I’d also love to hear about the things you do to support your Self in everyday life.  Just leave a comment with your favorite practices and/or supplements below.

image via wkdg.com

SLEEP:  First of all, I’m trying to get more of it.  Generally, I have always been a person who does best with around 9 hours of sleep.  However, that may be relative to the state of candida in my body, so we’ll see if that changes.  My goal right now is to try to reset my schedule in such a way that I am pretty regularly going to sleep and waking at the same time everyday.  My work schedule doesn’t change until April, and even then it’s going to be a bit of a challenge on certain days, but I’m going for overall consistency, not militant regimentation.  I’m also trying to prepare my body-mind-spirit for sleep by creating some evening rituals like stretching/yoga asanas, anointing my Self with essential oils, and giving my Self a Reiki treatment while listening to soothing music and burning incense.  So far, it’s working pretty well.  While I don’t get to do all these rituals every night, I try to do at least something – even if it’s one small thing, like breathing in some essential oil before hitting the pillow -  to cue my Self that it’s time for sleep.  These evening rituals just feel so luxurious, and remind me that I am divinity in human form.  I have an obligation to care for my Self in a way that reflects that.

image via essentialsurvival.org

ORAL CARE:  Okay, I am going to have to make a confession here.  While I always brush my teeth, I have, my whole life, been horrible at flossing.  In fact, I rarely give much thought to oral care.  I’m lucky that I am predisposed to healthy teeth and gums, but I am learning more and more about the importance of oral care, and how it relates to the whole body’s health, so I’m trying to make holistic oral care a priority.  I’ve been making my own dentifrice for a long while now, so that’s taken care of.  I am now implementing an ACV (apple cider vinegar) rinse following brushing.  It’s kind of fun as the collision of acid from the vinegar and alkalinity from the baking soda [of the tooth powder] create a fizzing action in the mouth.  It helps to remove plaque and freshens the mouth beautifully.  This is a great video from Living Libations that explains the process.  (You can ignore the pitch for their products if you like, but, as an aside, they have some really great quality products available.)

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Then, in the morning, I scrape my tongue to remove toxins released during sleep.  In the evening, I am, you guessed it, flossing.  *sigh*  I don’t enjoy doing it, but it’s necessary, and my teeth and gums feel better when I do it.  That’s going to have to be motivation enough for now.  To give the flossing an extra boost of healing oomph, I am coating the floss in [safe for consumption] essential oils.  I’m also rubbing this essential oil blend over my gums morning and night.  I’m lucky that a local shop here in Durham carries locally made Thieves style essential oil blends that are safe for consumption.   This product is a great comparable option, too, though, if you’d rather.

image via youngandraw.com

BODY SKIN:  Three words:  Dry.  Skin.  Brushing.  I’ve been a fan of this practice for years and years, but I often get busy and forget to actually do it.  No more excuses!  I’m brushing my body regularly!  Sometimes I’ll do a wet brushing in place of the dry, but I’m focusing more on the dry brushing to stimulate my lymph system as well as exfoliate my skin.  I’m also taking regular hydrotherapy in the form of aromatherapy baths, milk baths and salt baths, and am trying to be better about moisturizing my body skin with natural oils.

image via myyogaonline.com

MISCELLANEOUS HEALING PRACTICES:  I’m working a couple of the following practices into each day.  I listen to my body and let it tell me which practices it needs on any given day.

My sinuses have been a little cranky what with all this crazy fluctuating weather, the first signs of spring pollen and grasses, not to mention the clearing reactions from the healing work, so I’ve been trying to use my neti pot more regularly.  I’m currently just doing a classical sea salt nasal douching, but I may move on to some more specific rinses if the impetus arises, using either milk or herbal teas. 

I’m trying to spend a little time every day or at least most every day practicing some pranayama.  Pranayama is essentially a practice of breathing exercises.  I’m keeping it simple here at the start, as pranayama is one of those things that I believe in, but find very difficult to commit to practicing regularly, so I don’t want to make it a big deal.  Let’s just keep it easy and relaxed and maybe it won’t seem like drudgery.  I’m working with alternate nostril breathing, kapalabhati breath, and 1-4-2 breathing, though not all at the same sitting.  I’ll try to write more about these breathing techniques in an upcoming blog post.

This past weekend, my friend and colleague, Caroline, and I went to Asheville for Level 1 and Level 2 Reiki attunements.  It was a wonderful experience.  I’ve been interested in Reiki since even before my massage therapy training, but it never seemed the right time to do the training.  Thankfully, the stars finally aligned, and now I’m an official Reiki practitioner.  As a way to both practice my new craft and to support my healing journey, I’m performing Reiki on my Self every day.

And then there’s nauli kriya.  Nauli is a yoga kriya, which is basically a practice used to strengthen and cleanse the body to make it ready for spiritual work.  Nauli kriya is also known as abdominal churning.  Having a long history of abdominal dysfunction and inefficiency, I have also had a fascination with, and resistance toward, nauli practice lasting me a decade and a half.  It’s finally time I jump on that horse’s back and take to riding.  So, I’m starting a nauli practice with teeny tiny baby steps and am looking forward to a tortoise’s journey of victories with it.  I’ll try to post more about nauli again in future, but here’s a great video about it if you’re interested.

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image via biosanctuary.com

SUPPLEMENTS:  I’m taking Vitamin C in relatively high doses – a heaping teaspoon before every meal and at bedtime, cut with a ½ t. of baking soda.  I’m also continuing to take my probiotics and triphala for digestive health, and the Chinese herbs my acupuncturist gave me for my nasal issues.  (Once these herbs are finished, I’ll be switching over to some Chinese herbs more specifically for candida control.)  I drink Chlorophyll every morning and every evening.  I’ve also just introduced maca root and raw cacao powder into the mix.  Maca is a superfood that helps support energy levels.  Raw cacao has a host of benefits, chief among them are its high antioxidant and mineral levels, mood-enhancing effects, and energy boosting qualities.  Please note that I am talking about raw unprocessed cacao here, not processed cocoa.  I'm sneaking bentonite clay into my diet in small amounts to act as a chelator for heavy metals and other toxins.  Lastly, I’m drinking daily shots of aloe vera juice to support healthy digestion and to help heal and repair the inflammation of my gut linings.

There are several other supplements that I will be introducing as soon as I can afford to add them in.  Unfortunately, these healing foods and supplements aren’t cheap.  But, my health is worth it, so I’ll add them in as I can.  I’ll write more about these as I start using them, but you can expect to see things like medicinal mushrooms, velvet antler, pine pollen, high antioxidant berries like camu and goji (when I’m doing fruit again), chlorella, and other such healing superfoods. 

image via news.brown.edu

MOVEMENT:  I’m still doing the Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis matwork 5 days a week with my friend, Katy, and have added 30 minutes of rebounder cardio work on those days.  Plus, I have the added benefit of walking everywhere I go.  (Reason #21 to get rid of your car:  It’s great for your body-mind-spirit – built in exercise, sunshine and fresh air!  Actually, that’s three reasons.)  There’s the evening stretching, too, which I intend to turn into a more formal yoga practice as my schedule becomes a little more integrated. 

So, there you have it.  The next phase of this journey is taking shape and I’m feeling really good about it.  I’d love to hear from you.  Have you ever tried any of these practices or supplements?  Do you have any favorites that weren’t mentioned here?  Leave a comment, let’s discuss!  It really does take a village to live a full and productive life, and you are part of my village.  I welcome your wisdom.

Hoping you are all having a beautiful transition to Spring!

image via richardpeters.co.uk



*Note:  The article linked here was chosen for its universality in language, meaning it uses terms and practices that most Americans understand, and that fit in with our current health care paradigm here in the United States.  I actually believe that the treatments suggested here are much too lenient to actually heal a candida overgrowth that has been present in any body for any significant length of time, so I do not necessarily condone this treatment.  However, if it feels appropriate for you at this time, then please feel free to explore it, and let me know how it works for you.

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