Category Archives: Health

How to Deal With Difficult People

The difficult people who we encounter can be our greatest teachers.”
Eileen Anglin

We have all met them and probably, at certain times, are one of them. Who are they? “They” are all those “difficult” or “irritating” and “annoying” people that we deal with on a day to day basis. Some of them we have to work with, others we have to live with. Some of them wait for us to come into the grocery store, the doctor’s office or anywhere where we need to be around people just so that they can annoy us (we think). Some of these people drive ahead of us at a snail’s pace on the highway or cut in front of us from the left at a red light (yeah, that has actually happened to me).

We may actually start to believe that their whole point in life is to make our life miserable and frustrating. Perhaps we go to work each day and have to interact with a co-worker who is a bully, or a complainer. Maybe we have to deal with negative and rude clients all day who will complain no matter how nice we are to them. Or what about that colleague who “knows everything” and will not listen to anyone if they dare to question anything? Maybe it is someone we live with who is combative or passive aggressive. So what do we do?

Look In the Mirror First

Rule #1 for dealing with difficult people is to not be one yourself. We can’t go around calling everyone a black kettle if we are also a black kettle. So first things first, let’s examine our own motives and attitudes.  How can we expect others to “behave” if we can’t control our own behavior and attitudes? As the saying goes, “Wherever you go, there you are”.  We are there with all our baggage, good, bad and ugly.

We can’t deny that we are all difficult people from time to time. Sometimes we are prima donnas, wanting to have things our way. Sometimes we are tyrants, bossing everyone around. At other times we may be having pity parties and lamenting our misfortune and blaming everyone else. Somedays we are more difficult than on other days. Under the right circumstances, we all have the potential to be a difficult person. So first and foremost, we need to get some control over the difficult person inside ourselves.

Understand What Is Happening

Everyone is difficult at times and sometimes we are all more irritated by others than at other times. It is not always that others are annoying. Sometimes it has to do with what is going on in our own lives. Sometimes we project onto others what we are going through and believe that their whole purpose is to make things difficult for us. Also, we need to remember that opposition is normal and healthy, and some opposition is exactly what we need to correct our own errors. An opposition may simply serve as a mirror to our own attitudes and behavior.

The more we stand for something, the more we pursue goals and aspire to higher things, the more opposition we will have. If we stand for nothing and do nothing, we won’t have too much opposition. The “haters” come out when there is something to oppose. Where there is a confrontation, there will be opposition. Those who “tow the line”, follow all the rules, say nothing and do less won’t find themselves too often in a situation of being opposed. The “haters” will come in different categories. Some will be critics and some will be tyrants. Some will be micromanagers and others will be chronic victims.

We can’t please everyone and we shouldn’t even try. Trying to please everyone just to “be nice” or buy “peace” is a fast route to unhappiness. Sometimes we must confront behavior and attitudes in a firm but loving way, but not everyone will be receptive. We need to accept that some people are not going to change unless they want to change. We don’t have to take any responsibility for other people and it is not our responsibility to make them happy – that is their job!

Steps We Can Take for a Peace Treaty

Focus on what the problem is rather than what emotions are saying. Don’t overact or dramatize. Conflict disappears when one person chooses not to participate anymore. Escalating the issue, the discussion or whatever the situation becomes just a battle of the wills and emotions. It becomes a power game more than anything else. If we are in a situation where we are being dragged down by emotional arguments, we do not have to get in and “wrestle with the pigs”, so to speak. They will always be better at us in dragging us into the mud. Remember that a typical reaction of a “difficult” person is that they tend to overreact.

The most difficult thing in any negotiation, almost, is to make sure that you strip it of the emotions and deal with the facts – Howard Baker

Pause, listen and relax. Sounds hard to do, doesn’t it? Yet by doing these three things we are giving ourselves space and time to reflect on what is going on. Kevin Cashman wrote a book called The Pause Principle, in which he calls the Pause one of the most powerful tools in the human world. He said:

Pause, the natural capability to step back in order to move forward with greater clarity, momentum and impact, holds the creative power to reframe and refresh how we see ourselves and our relationships, our  challenges, our capacities, our organizations and missions within a larger context”.

Practice empathy. Where pausing helps us to understand the situation, empathy helps us to understand the person in front of us and put them in the proper perspective. Steven Covey, in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, gave, as one of the 7 habits: ” seek first to understand and then seek to be understood”. Most (but not all) people problems are the result of a lack of empathy. People want to know how much we care before they will open up.

Seeking to understand starts by striving to understand where the other person is coming from. What are his needs and desires? What makes him tick? Try to see things through his eyes.  See him as important, just as you want to be seen.  David J. Schwartz, Ph.D. says in The Magic of Thinking Big:

When you meet another person, make it a policy to think ” we are just two important people sitting down to discuss something of mutual interest and benefit”.

Be opened-minded and think creatively. The ability to do this is really why pausing is so helpful. When we pause ie: stop talking (or yelling, if that is the case), we can have time to think about possible solutions that would benefit both. It is also an opportunity to open our ideas to other ways of thinking or seeing things. Being open-minded can be beneficial in pointing us back to our share in the responsibility in conflict.

Find some common ground. This point goes along with the point above: being open-minded and creative. Are there any points that we can agree on? Certainly, there must be areas where we can find some commonality. All relationships, difficult or not, are a “give and take”. What can we give to the relationship? What can we offer them? Maybe it might be that we simply agree on a time to sit down and discuss the problems at a mutually convenient time. Maybe it means taking the first step to apologize for our part in any conflict.  There is surely some area we can agree on.

An apology is the superglue of life. It can repair just about anything – Lynn Johnston

Address problems straight up. We need to be courageous and confront any problems while they are still small.  It is easier to uproot an oak tree while it is still a sapling than it is to chainsaw down a 200-year-old oak tree. Confront the problem and not the person. Many people ( I have been one of them) resort to other ways of dealing with problems. Sometimes they let them fester and blister by pretending they don’t exist. Other people take a passive-aggressive approach to relational problems; they triangulate to discuss (gossip) people behind their backs.

What Are Some Difficult Behaviors?

  • Dishonesty, lying or having weak character /lack of courage and integrity
  • Being hard headed, combative and objectional
  • Being passive-aggressive, triangulation and gossiping
  • Complaining, generally negative attitude
  • A poser, a fake, an impostor – we don’t even know who they really are
  • Self-centeredness, arrogance, puffed up
  • Being hurtful, mean-spirited
  • Being unpredictable and unreliable
  • Bully, prone to temper tantrums (yes, adults have them too), silent treatment

Be Careful! Not All Difficult People Are Reasonable

Even when our heart is in the right place and we want to do what is right to resolve conflicts and smooth relations with ‘difficult” people, we need to be aware that not everyone thinks reasonably. Not everyone has a desire to get along or is even able to function reasonably. Consider the following:

  • 1% of the general population are psychopaths
    Says Dr. Robert Hare, Criminal psychology researcher, Creator of the PCL-R
  • 4% of Americans are sociopaths
    According to Harvard psychologist Martha Stout in her book, “The Sociopath Next Door,”  one out of every 25 people in America is a sociopath. She defines sociopath as a person with no conscience.
  • 5-15% of Americans are Almost psychopaths
    Dr. Ronald Schouten, Associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School says in his book”Almost a Psychopath

These are the people that, no matter how hard you try or how you bend over backward to work things out and see if you can work together, simply will not change at all. In fact, if you confront them or “catch” them red-handed, they will double down, even more, to come against you. In addition to these categories, we can also add all those people who have serious issues going on such as addictions, alcoholism dependancy, anger issues and much more. We can not always assume that good communication skills will work on everyone.

Don’t Engage in Written Battles

Whatever the conflict, problem, it is inadvisable to battle it out through written media such as texting, email or even via voicemail. In addition to having everything that you have written on permanent record for consultation, it is virtually impossible to read and interpret the tone in which the messages were written. Written messages are a breeding ground for misunderstandings and escalation of emotions behind the screen as well as potential grounds for legal accusations. Don’t write poisonous emails or texts; they will never be interpreted exactly as you intended and probably will do more harm than good.

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen – Winston Churchhill

Have the Courage to Confront

Whether in business or personal relationships, confrontation is necessary and often helpful, if done in the right way with a spirit of unity. Confrontation addresses the problem and not the person. It may mean confronting attitudes, behaviors or situations, but any negative situation must be dealt with fairly, and rapidly so that it does not get out of hand. Small problems are easier to deal with than larger ones, but small problems can become larger or more destructive if they are ignored or avoided. Poison is poison no matter what the amount. a small bit of arsenic will affect and poison the whole cake.

People are watching us. whether we are a parent, a teacher, a pastor or a manager, people watch what we do. They know when fair is fair and right is right. When we fail to call a spade a spade and avoid confronting poisonous behavior or attitudes everyone loses. They lose respect for us and experience loss in whatever organization they are in.

The Takeaway

Human relations and communications are probably the most difficult endeavors in our lives. In fact, all of life is about relationships and communication, unless you happen to be a hermit. Communication has been called art and I truly believe it is that. Human beings are primarily emotional and sensitive, subject to all kinds of perceptions and perceived offenses. Trying to weave our way through and among different personalities, emotional baggage, opinions, and ways of being can sometimes feel like walking through an emotional minefield.

Nevertheless, understanding how humans are is half the battle. With good information and a heart to relate, we can certainly begin to improve relations with those “difficult” people. It is also good to remind ourselves that we are sometimes one of these difficult people.

Have a great day!

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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What Is the Happiness Factor?

Category : Health , Life Tips

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present. – Jim Rohn

So what is happiness? What does it look like? How can we tell if we really have it? How can we get it? These questions and many more describe one of the age-old quests of humans during their lifetime. A lot has been written about happiness, but it seems that despite all the poetry, the books and talks on happiness, and the studies conducted, very few of us really actually know what it is and how to be happy. It seems elusive – always just a little out of our reach and at the same time ephemeral.

How then can we capture this quality or state of being? Can we appropriate it for ourselves once and for all? It comes to us and we grab on to it and then, suddenly it is gone again into the wind and we are left with fleeting memories of what we think we had. Some of us pursue it relentlessly. We entertain ourselves and others, we fill our agendas with activities, we chase after opportunities and exciting careers, we fill our minds with thoughts of “if only…” and we  – fill in the blank –  with our desires.

Many definitions of happiness have been put forth to help us understand what this quality or state may be. Everyone has an opinion or idea about it. For example:

“Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.” -— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We know it when we see it. We can tell by the faces of people. We can even tell, to a certain extent, by the lifelines on a person’s face whether they have generally been happy in their life. Our mothers probably even told us when we were scowling to “not make that face” or else it would freeze that way. Does anyone remember this advice? Ask many people what they want most in life and often they will say “I just want to be happy”. Songs like “Don’t worry, Be Happy” or “Happy“, among others sing of the happiness factor. So, what is the happiness factor?

The Harvard Study of Adult Development

In 1938, probably the longest ever study on happiness was started tracking the lives of 724 men over the course of 74 years. At intervals during this time period, participants were asked several questions pertaining to their health, home life work etc.

There were two groups; one group consisting of Harvard students who subsequently went off to war and one other group of underprivileged boys from poor and troubled neighborhoods of Boston.

The main finding that came out of this study was that overwhelmingly, the main factor for happiness was, bar none, that good relationships keep us happier, healthier and longer living. They found that it was the social connections and the quality of the relationships that determined the presence of happiness.

If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.” Andrew Carnegie

The Surprising Science of Happiness (TED Talk)

Dan Gilbert, in his TED Talk, called The Surprising Science of Happiness, talks about natural happiness and synthetic happiness. He says that natural happiness is “What we get when we get what we wanted” and synthetic happiness is “what we make when we don’t get what we wanted”. Dan Gilbert says that synthetic happiness is not as popular or as widely understood as natural happiness because it is not profitable for the economy. It doesn’t depend on a “buy everything now mentality”

Dan Gilbert goes on to say that freedom is the friend of natural happiness because it allows you to choose endlessly, but it is the enemy of synthetic happiness. Ultimately, we work better and are more satisfied when we are “stuck” in a situation and need to find our own solutions.

If you start to think the problem is ‘out there,’ stop yourself. That thought is the problem. – Stephen Covey

Want to Be Happier? – Stay in the Moment (TED Talk)

In his TED talk, Matt Killingsworth talks about the paradox of happiness. We expect things to bring us happiness. Today, in North America, even though living conditions and the standard of living have improved and we have better access to more things, we haven’t gotten any happier. Factors such as marital status, wealth or working status have not had a significant impact on making us happier.

Matt Killingsworth is the creator of trackyourhappiness.org, a research project, and application to track your happiness minute to minute. Essentially, it collects data with basic questions:

  • How do you feel right now?
  • What are you doing?
  • Are you thinking about something other than what you are currently doing?

Then the app users are prompted to assign an emotion or feeling to their answers.

From the data, they found that people are happiest when they were focused on the present moment than when their mind was wandering off (positive or negative). They hypothesize that it is the wandering of the mind that leads to the feeling of being less happy.

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. – Winston Churchill

To be Happy is to Give Happy

Author and leadership speaker, Chris Brady explores this subject from another perspective. He says that a lot of us are very poor at knowing what it is that makes us happy. We have an expectation that something outside ourselves such as experiences or other people ( our spouse or children) should make us happy. We spend a lot of our energy toward trying to be happy. Many go from career to career or from relationship to relationship trying to capture happiness once and for all. The grass is always greener on the other side.

In the end, he says, the things that we think will make us happy, generally don’t and the things we don’t think will make us happy actually do.

Chris Brady talks about 4 theories of happiness (there are many more).

The first theory breaks down into four factors for happiness:

  1. Having a certain degree of control over things and events in life.
  2. Having a perceived amount of progress- the idea that we are moving forward.
  3. Having connectedness-a shared experience
  4. Having vision and meaning – a sense of being part of something greater than ourselves

The second theory put forth is the Maslow theory based on meeting and fulfilling needs.

  1. Physiological needs are met (food, water, air etc.)
  2. Safety needs are met (shelter, security)
  3. Self-esteem needs are met ( achievement, responsibility, accumulation of things such as money)
  4. Self-actualization needs are met ( creativity, morality, authenticity etc.)

The third theory, which is very simple. states that we need:

  1. Someone to love
  2. Something to do
  3. Somewhere to go

Without these three requirements for happiness, boredom starts to kick in and we end up going down a path of destruction in an attempt to fill the void.

The fourth theory consists of three components that build on one another:

  1. Pleasure
  2. Passion
  3. Purpose

It is this last theory that Chris Brady focuses on to help us understand what happiness is. He points out that people tend to pursue pleasure as a means to an end, but these stimulating activities are only short term in the pleasure they can bring us. It doesn’t matter what the activity is. It could be extreme sports, it could be movies or other entertainment. The actual pleasure of the activity is short-lived and often will need to be repeated or repeated at greater and greater levels of stimulus to gain the same feeling.

So pleasure seeking is really the baseline in terms of the pursuit of happiness. The next level in the pursuit would be the pursuit of a passion. This is where our individual talents and gifts line up with our interests. It is no longer about seeking pleasure for the sake of something exciting to do, but it is more about diving into projects, goals, limit breaking. It is about being in the zone, completely absorbed by what we are doing, doing it because we love to do it no matter how much work is involved.

The purpose is the third level in this theory where we are involved in a movement a reason outside of and greater than ourselves. We are pursuing a higher calling where it is no longer about what we want or about our goals, but about making an impact and leaving a legacy.

If we begin our pursuit of happiness at the level of seeking pleasure, it is highly unlikely that we will get very far. We will get stuck in the cycle of chasing the next thing and the next thing which is always temporal and fleeting. The happiest people are those who feel called to do something or be part of something bigger than themselves. They find within this greater purpose a place to discover and pursue their passions and, ultimately find pleasure and happiness in doing so.

Happiness Vs. Unhappiness

It there is such a thing as happiness, there is also unhappiness. If happiness depends on things such as our ability to live in the present, connect with others, sustain quality relationships, and have purpose and meaning in our lives, then it would make sense that unhappiness is the absence of these. Happiness it appears depends on the degree of our willingness to move away from our own desires, problems, situations and be outward focused. It depends on us being other focused.

What Goes Around Comes Around

Chris Brady’s talk is called “The Only Way o Be happy Is to give Happy”. In the end, that is really what it is all about, isn’t it? We reap what we sow and if we sow happiness, we will also reap happiness in good measure. Unhappiness is really a result of being too focused on ourselves and our problems. the more inward we turn, the less connected and relational we will be and the less happy we will be.

In his talk, Chris Brady highlights the importance of serving others as the key to being happy which is why he favors the last of the four theories. Happiness finds its presence when we have a purpose for our life. When we are working and living within the framework of a greater goal and vision while pursuing our passion and utilizing our natural gifts and talents then happiness will be a natural byproduct. We won’t time to spend moping around and focusing on our own misery. He emphasizes that ultimately, it is joy, that should prevail whether or not we are “happy” at any given moment.

Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.” Mary Anne Roadacher-Hershey

The Takeaway

We have explored the subject of happiness from a few different angles. From all the sources, it becomes clear that happiness really is a function of what we put into life and what we give to others. Science has analyzed it trying to find the happiness factor in a drawn-out study. Scientists have attempted to break it down and understand its parts and functions. But in the end, happiness (or unhappiness, for that matter) is a byproduct of how we choose to live our lives.

Have a great day!

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 

 

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The Warming Spices: A Medieval Touch

Category : Health

With winter upon us, who doesn’t feel like cozying up to a warm fire and drinking a hot gently spiced tea? Who doesn’t associate this time of the year with cinnamon and all the other “seasonal” spices?

The warming spices of winter have filled the marketplaces of Europe since the time of the Crusades, brought over largely by Arab spice traders through Venice from the distant Eastern lands. Venetian merchants took advantage of their geographical position halfway between the Levant and Western Europe by charging high premium fees as the middlemen in the spice trade.

From their initial introduction to Medieval Europe, the popularity of spices grew as more and more people acquired a taste for their exotic flavors. These spices, which traveled the secret and often dangerous and disputed trade routes (land and sea), were very expensive and only the very wealthy could purchase and use them.

Since the Medieval times, a lot a has changed. Today, these once very expensive spices are more widely grown and more readily available at affordable prices in our local grocery stores, thank goodness.

Ginger

Ginger is originally from China, but it quickly spread to India where it is a widely used culinary spice. It first appeared in Europe through Roman soldiers traveling from the East. It disappeared from use in Europe and then reappeared when Marco Polo brought it back from his travels to the East.

In the Middle Ages, 1/2 kg of ginger was the equivalent of one sheep in terms of payment.

Ginger is highly popular and widely used in India where it is used in gravies, pulses, curries and teas /coffees. It is also used for gastrointestinal problems, colic, dyspepsia, flu prevention and in a pulse for headaches, among other uses.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is native to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, and Burma and has a rather colorful history. As far back as 2,000 years, it was traded throughout the Middle East. Later it was brought to Europe from the Levant through Venice by mainly  Arab traders and also crusaders returning from the crusades. The transportation of cinnamon was very costly which made it available only to those of very wealthy means. It became a status symbol in Europe as it was associated with wealth.

Demand for cinnamon became so great that explorers set out to find where it came from. Eventually, they discovered cinnamon growing in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). From there, cinnamon and Ceylon became the center of much power grabbing and enslavement of the local people.

There are two main types of cinnamon consumed in the world: Ceylon cinnamon and cassia (from Indonesia). Cassia cinnamon is the cinnamon we typically use. it is stronger smelling and cheaper than the Ceylon variety. Cinnamon is quite common in cooking and baking and it has effective medicinal properties: anti-clotting, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and is effective at controlling blood sugar.

Cloves

Cloves are a very ancient spice native to the Moluccas (The Spice Islands) and were introduced into India in the 1800s. Cloves were also highly prized by the Romans. In the 16th and 17th centuries, cloves were considered one of the most highly prized spices, particularly in Europe and were said to be worth more than their weight in gold. Naturally, they were a focus of a power struggle between the competing European nations (the Dutch the Spanish and the Portuguese), even to the point of the Dutch burning down the trees in areas under the control of competing nations. Natives of the islands were irate at this disregard for their traditions.

Cloves are an underestimated spice today, but they are medicinally powerful. some of their properties are: ant-fungal.anti-sceptic,ant-bacterial, anti-spasmodic, and analgesic. They have traditionally been used for nausea, coughs, digestion, dental hygiene among other uses.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a spice native to the Banda Islands (Spice islands of Indonesia) and, like cinnamon and cloves, was a target for power struggles between the competing European nations. Although it is widely available at affordable prices today, this was not always the case. In fact, a small bag of nutmeg would have set the owner for life, financially speaking.

Nutmeg, like the other spices, was introduced into Europe (where it was highly prized) through Venice by Arab spice traders. Fashion conscious men and women of the 18th century would have the habit of carrying whole nutmegs inside little graters to always have it fresh and available. Today, nutmeg is grown more widely, particularly in the Carribean where it is found to have affinities with rum as well as chocolate.

Pepper

There is archeological evidence that India was using and trading pepper at least 2,000 years ago. Most likely, they were trading with Egypt as evidence shows peppercorns in the Egyptian tombs. Romans had latched onto the peppercorn trade by 40 A.D and were using it as currency in negotiation. Arabs, the dominant spice traders, fabricated myths about the origin and dangers of harvesting pepper in order to maintain prices.

Pepper grew to become one of the most important trading commodities in Europe. Traders and middlemen exacted exorbitant premiums to their European customers. Today pepper is more widely grown and the world’s biggest producer of pepper is Vietnam.

A Couple of Medieval Recipes

Pokerounce
  • 4 thick slices of white bread
  • 225 g of honey
  • A pinch of (each) ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground black pepper
  • 15 g of pine nuts

Toast bread well and cut into squares. place bead squares on a serving plate or dish. Heat honey in a saucepan with the spices and the ground pepper for 2 min. Be careful not to bring to a boil. Pour over the bread and sprinkle the pine nuts.

Friday Caudle

Typically served in the morning and evening. Was usually thickened with eggs. Here is another version which was also used, using almonds to thicken.

  • 275 ml of water
  • 850 ml of white wine
  • 2.5 g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • a few shards of saffron

Heat water and wine to a boil. Add almonds, honey, ginger, and stir in saffron. Remove from heat for 20 min. and then return to a boil. Serve hot in large mugs or bowls.

The Takeaway

Spices are amazing and bring flavor and “piquant” to our food and drinks. They are certainly very welcome as winter approaches. Their history is just as colorful and “piquant” as their flavors are.  I hope you enjoy “spicy” the recipes from the Medieval times. Cheers!

Have a great day.

Read Also

Essential Oils Through the Ages

Have You Tried Persimmon Nog?

Fascinating Coffee Facts

Discover Amazing Golden Milk

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Have You Tried Persimmon Nog?

Category : Health

 

I have to say – I love persimmons. They are honey sweet when fully ripened and can be used in so many ways. Persimmons typically come into the stores in the fall through to early January. Their taste and texture fit in so well with fall cooking .  Here are a few interesting tidbits of information on persimmon:

Some Fun Facts:

  • There are about 2,000 varieties of persimmon.
  • Persimmon fruit originated in Asia (China).
  • Persimmon trees can grow up to 70 feet in height.
  • The fruit actually belongs to the berry family.
  • The Japanese variety (Khaki) is the most widely consumed.
  • The seeds can be boiled or roasted and used in a caffeine-free energy drink.
  • The persimmon tree can live up to 75 years.
  • The persimmon must be fully ripened before it can be eaten to avoid bitterness.

And, Of Course, They Are Very Healthy:

  • Persimmons contain very little fat and a reasonable amount of carbs, so they are good for maintaining a healthy weight.
  • They have anti-hemorrhoid and wound healing properties.
  • Persimmon is a good fruit for diabetics since they are high in fiber and regulate blood sugar.
  • Persimmons are also good for digestive health: they have high fiber and tannins.
  • They contain phytochemicals such as antioxidants and catechins (anti-inflammatory and anti-infective properties).
  • The high content of vitamin C makes persimmons an excellent choice for helping to prevent colds and flu.

My Favorite Seasonal Smoothie

Forget the eggnog! Try the “Persimmon Nog”.  It is seriously good and you won’t miss the guilt trip of drinking too much eggnog. You can make persimmon nog as creamy as you want. If you want to use fresh coconut milk, it will be creamy, but it will also be healthy

There are different ingredients you can put in the smoothie, depending on your taste and penchant for sweet. Some use dates as a sweetener and some use bananas. Some like it spicy with all the warming spices and others just enjoy a little cinnamon. It really is up to you. Here is a recipe that I like to use. feel free to modify.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of coconut milk (fresh or refrigerated)
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2-3 regular size ripe persimmons (peel first)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • (optional) hemp seeds or sunflower seeds

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until creamy smooth.  Sprinkle with some cinnamon and serve. This recipe will make approximately 2 full glasses (2 servings) of Persimmon Nog.

I hope you enjoy this tasty alternative to the traditional eggnog as much as I do.

Cheers to your health!

 

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 

 

 

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Essential Oils Through the Ages

 

Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema @kellysikkema

Essential oils have always had an integral and important role in natural (holistic) medicine as well as having played a significant religious role.  History shows that they were sought out in early civilizations to heal and fortify the body. The mind, the body and the spirit were quite significant in religious practices as well, and essential oils enhanced all three.  Essential oils were foundational in commercial trade between cultures, which contributed to economic stability and growth as well as to the sharing of knowledge between cultures.

Knowledge of the properties of the oils virtually placed practitioners in a different class: those who knew the mysteries of plants. Practitioners were almost an elite class consulted by political and religious leaders for religious and medicinal purposes.

Essential oils have a colorful and fascinating story to tell across time. Let’s travel into the past together and discover their story.

Photo credit: Leonardo Ramos @leonardoeron

Ancient Egypt (circa 4,500 B.C)

It is fairly safe to say that ancient Egypt with its fertile Nile valley was the birthplace of aromatherapy and related practices. As far back as 4,500 B.C., the Egyptians were creating ointments, perfumes, aromatic oils, and developing cosmetics using plant oils (cosmetology). They exploited the plants found along the Nile River for medicinal purposes and well being. They also made resins, aromatic vinegar, and spices from plants growing along the river.

One interesting practice was the wearing of a solid cone of perfume on the head. The cone would gradually melt and cover the person with fragrance.

Two oils, myrrh, and frankincense were highly prized.  Myrrh was widely used in rejuvenating facial treatments and frankincense was charred and ground into a powder to make the kohl eyeliner for which the Egyptians were famous. Both of these oils/spices have been traded throughout the Middle East and North Africa for over 5,000 years. And, as the Bible states, myrrh and frankincense were two of the three gifts given as gifts by the Magi from the East.

Religious practices and essential oils were intertwined. Egyptians held the belief that essential oils were needed to be “one with the gods” Each deity had a specific fragrance and, at one point, only high priests could use them; fragrances were used for opening the sub-conscious mind and facilitating communication with the spirit world. The practice of mummification, a strictly religious process, used spices and oils of cinnamon, frankincense, myrrh, and juniper. Essential oils were used in all aspects of daily life.

Photo credit: Dennys Hess @dennyshess

China (circa 2697-2597 B.C)

Essential oils spread into China during the reign of Huang-Ti and were used primarily for medicinal purposes. Emperor Huang-Ti is famous for having written The Yellow Emporer’s Book of Internal Medicine, which is still referred to today by those practicing essential oil treatments in Eastern medicine.  Shennong’s Herbal ( a study of 365 plants)  is China’s oldest surviving medical text (2,200 B.C.). Today, China is one of the world’s biggest producers of essential oils.

Photo credit: Tim @timvk

India (3,000 years ago)

Essential oils have been the backbone of Ayurvedic medicine (practiced for over 4,000 years) almost from the beginning of their introduction into India. They were used for both religious and therapeutic purposes. Some of the more commonly used oils were: ginger, cinnamon, myrrh, coriander, and sandalwood.

Photo credit: Cristina Gottardi @cristina_gottardi

Ancient Greece (circa 400 – 500 B.C.)

Essential oils were adopted into Greek circles (influenced by the Egyptians). Hypocrites, the most famous of Greek physicians, studied over 300 plant oils and documented each one of their uses. He advocated essential oil perfumed baths and massages for well being and wrote: The Key to Good Health Rests on Having a Daily Aromatic Bath and Scented Massage.

Another Greek physician, Galen, also developed a wide knowledge of plants and their uses and wrote extensively on them. He treated Roman gladiators and, reportedly, even emperor Marcus Aurelius. Roman physicians used the writings of both Hypocrites and Galen as a basis for their practice. Romans were fanatical about aromatic baths and scented massages.

Discondis (the father of pharmacy) was a physician in Emporer Nero’s army and wrote De Materia Medica.

The ancient Greeks believed that the air was toxic and needed to be fumigated. They held that the winds and other elements filled the air with disease-bearing germs. So, they would fumigate the air with scents to clean it.

The Roman Empire

The Romans were influenced by the knowledge of both the Greeks and the Egyptians in medicinal practices and integrated them in the various aspects of their society. The bathhouses of the Roman empire were famous throughout the empire and beyond. They would infuse the baths with aromatic oils and use them for massages as well, following the teachings of Hippocrates.

Under the Roman empire, Israelites would use oils such as frankincense, cedarwood, hyssop, and fir to enhance spiritual communion.

Photo credit; Hasan Almasi @hassanalmasi

Persia (circa 980 -1037 A.D)

Ali-Ibn Sana (also known as Avicenna the Arab), was a well-known physician and a prodigy at 12 years of age. He wrote extensively on plants and the properties and uses of their oils. His books document the properties and uses of 800 plants. Ali-Ibn Sana is also the one who discovered the method of distilling essential oils, a method that is still used today. He discovered the chemistry behind non-oil-based perfumes and this allowed him to produce rose water which was highly esteemed as a status symbol in Persia (now Iran).

The Dark Ages

Following the fall of the Roman empire and the subsequent rise of the Catholic church and beginning or religious oppression, bathing was considered to be sinful and was strictly prohibited. The use of aromatics became almost obsolete. The prohibition of bathing contributed to the spreading of the plague (the Black Death).

There was also a lot of thievery during the times of the plague. Interestingly, thieves who robbed plague victims were said to have been perfumers and spice traders who regularly bathed in the oils of cinnamon, cloves, and frankincense and were not infected when touching plague victims.

The Holy Crusaders, coming back from the distant lands in the East, brought with them essential oils and perfumes as well as herbal medicines. These became highly popular in Europe. During the 14th century, when the bubonic plague was in full force, these herbal preparations were used extensively to fight off the disease and prevent it from spreading.

The belief of foul scent causing disease continued into the Middle Ages. People believed foul scents were offensive to God and also that they caused illness. They would wear amulets containing oils, incense, and fragrance around their necks to ward off the “evil air”.  Apothecaries ( alchemists who prepared these mixtures) set up shop and began selling their wares in the 16th century. This time period was a transitional period between serfdom on land owned by lords and the rise of free enterprise.

The Rennaissance

The Rennaissance brought people out of darkness and oppression to an awakening to holistic medicine to heal and nourish the body. Old medicinal practices were revived. A new interest in natural medicine was born. Paracelsus (1493 – 1541), a physician and alchemist of outstanding medicinal success is said to have been highly successful at healing leprosy with natural medicine.

By the 1600’s literature on essential oils was spreading around Europe (particularly England, France, and Germany). By the 1800’s, most pharmaceutical books (pharmacopeia) in these three countries were prescribing essential oils for treatment. In France, during the spread of tuberculosis (the 1800’s), those working in the flower fields (exposed to plant oils), remained, for the most part, free from tuberculosis. This discovery led to the first lab test on the antibacterial properties of essential oils (1887).

World War I

During the first world war, Chemist René-Maurice Gattefosse was treating ground soldiers with essential oils and eventually (in 1928) coined the term “aromatherapie” as being ” the treatment of injury and disease by use of essential oils.”

Photo credit: Annie Spratt @anniespratt

Today

Well! We certainly have come a long, long way from the early beginnings of plant oils. Unlike in ancient Egypt, essential oils are not restricted to a certain class of society. And, thankfully, we don’t have to spend time fumigating the air outside with fragrances like they did in ancient Greece and the Roman empire, though it certainly is a good practice to clean the air inside the home. We can burn incense if we like, but it doesn’t have to be a part of a religious ritual.

Knowledge about essential oils is available to everyone as is knowledge about hygiene, so the Bubonic plague or other such diseases can be effectively taken care of with proper understanding of plant properties and use of plant oils. And thank goodness we don’t have to go around town with amulets around our necks to ward off sickness and evil air. That would not be much fun.

Photo credit: Christin Hume @christinhumephoto

My Takeaway

The story of essential oils is fascinating. I hope you enjoyed it as well. I personally use essential oils and have found them to be helpful in many ways. I encourage you to find out more about these versatile oils.

Have you found this post helpful? Please leave a comment.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 

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Easy Mason Jar Salads

Category : Health

photo credit Mariana Medvedev @nibiteuntilphoto

Mason jars are trendy for everything from salads to smoothies, to puddings and parfaits. Everyone is toting their lunch in a jar these days. And let’s face it, they are attractive. The colors in your mason jar salad are highlighted in their rainbow colors. The staple mason jars which traditionally served for making jams and preserving foods have now become a popular way to carry our lunch and snacks.

These creatively presented salads, smoothies, and snacks are great for picnic lunches, office lunches and anytime a healthy snack is needed. I personally love to carry my smoothies in a jar to work.

What are the Advantages?

  • They are visually attractive which is a plus to whet the appetite.
  • They are eco-friendly
  • They are portable
  • They keep food fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • They taste is better (compared to eating out of a plastic container).
  • They don’t expose us to the harmful effects of BPA.
  • They allow for portion control.
  • They are easy to eat – you can just pour out the salad into a bowl
  • The jars are inexpensive.
  • They can make great gifts (just remember to refrigerate).
  • They are trendy! That feels good!
  • They can be made ahead of time for the week.

How to Pack a Mason Jar Salad

Beginning with a clean, wide-mouth Mason Jar:

  1. Put salad dressing in first at the bottom.
  2. Add crunchy veggies (carrots, celery, cucumber). These can marinate in the dressing
  3. Add legumes ( beans, chickpeas, lentils)
  4. Add grains (rice, pasta, quinoa)
  5. Add proteins (tofu, seitan, meats)
  6. Add leafy greens (lettuce, spinach) and sprouts (alfalfa)
  7. Add toppings (olives, nuts, dried fruit, and croutons)

Following this order will keep your salad crisp and fresh, preventing it from going soggy.

As you can see from the picture of my first attempt to make a Mason salad jar, I did not follow this order. The legumes went in before the crunchy veggies. It tasted fine but maybe it might not have kept for as long. I put in dressing, then chickpeas, then cucumber, then tomatoes, then quinoa and finally romaine lettuce.

But I Don’t Have Time for That

I get it. We’re all busy and who has time to make attractive salads every day? Why not do the prep for the week all at the same time? Why not create a prep salad bar? We can just cut up veggies ahead of time and put them in jars to redistribute in our Mason jar salad. the bonus is that family members can get involved and create their personalized salad from the salad bar. These salads can be made for the week ahead of time since they keep well in the fridge, so we don’t have to make them every day.

Some Recipes to Start

Vegan Mason Jar Taco Salad

1/3 cup of dressing (see below)

  • 1 small avocado + juice from one lime + a small handful of cilantro blended together (I added a bit of water to be able to blend it)

1/2 cup of shredded carrots

1/2 cup of pinto or black beans (I prefer black beans)

1/2 cup of cooked rice

1/2 cup of chopped red peppers

1/2 cup Vegan taco meat

  • 1 cup of raw walnuts + 1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes blended together

1/2 crushed taco chips

a handful of romaine lettuce to top

Follow the order of packing above.

Chickpea Mason Jar Salad

2 teaspoons of lemon-mustard vinaigrette

  • juice from one large lemon + 1 teaspoon dijon mustard + 1/2 cup of olive oil + 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup of cooked chickpeas

1/2  cup of sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 cup of chopped red onion

1/4 cup of chopped green olives

1/2 cup of fresh baby spinach

Follow the order of packing above.

Conclusion

These days, our hectic lives keep us running forwards, backward and sideways. We want to eat healthily but it is hard to find the time to fix up healthy lunches and even harder to get our kids to eat them. Mason jar salads have risen to the occasion. They are attractive (and kids know what is in them), they keep well, they are easy to make and they can be made in advance. They are great for the home dinner table (everyone can build his own from the selection) and for an office lunch.

What I really like about them is that it is an all-in-one meal – no adding extra toppings or pouring messy salad dressing. You can eat them right from the jar or pour them into a bowl. Why not try one? You may get hooked on Mason jar salads!

Have a great day!

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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What I Learned about Yoga

Category : Health

 

Yoga – I’ll just put it out there, I was not too savvy about what yoga was before writing this piece. My only experience with yoga was a few classes I took a long time ago – I don’t remember much and I didn’t stay around to find out more.

Yoga seems to be the trendy, popular thing to do these days. Everyone is doing it. Yoga studios are popping up like mushrooms. Yoga is being taught, in schools, in hospitals, in the workplace, and in YMCAs. Yes. yoga is trendy and it’s everywhere. Yoga mats and Lululemon type clothes are in all the sports stores. It is very popular, particularly among women, though men do it as well.

So, I wanted to explore it and find out more, especially what all the terminology means and where it comes from. I set out to learn more about this topic – the origins, the philosophy, and the practice. I hope you will enjoy this journey of discovery.

Yoga – A Definition

The best place to start is with a definition.  The word yoga literally means to “yoke‘ or “unite“. It is described as the yoking or uniting of the jiva (our transitory self) with Brahman (the infinite Divine self). In other words, it is connecting the god within us to the universal and impersonal god (according to Hinduism)

Brahman is a Hindu word used to describe what the Hindus call their god. Basically, the belief is that Brahman is everything and everyone, and flows through everything.  It is a universal conscience – a kind of fluid reality.

Specifically, What Is Yoga?

Yoga, is, at its core, religious worship (according to Hindu yogis), but it is not a religion. It is a ritual that involves the mind, the body, and the spirit in order to connect these with the Divine. There are 4 intertwining aspects:

  • Postures and movements
  • breathing
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation

Traditionally, all four aspects must be an integral part of the ritual; each has a specific purpose.

The movements and postures: These asanas are very specific (each with its own name) and involve specific transitions from one position to another in order to attain a posture representing this name. The names of the postures can be names or movements of animals, constellations, the moon, the sun or anything else.

In Hinduism, there are over 330 million deities (little gods). If you were to take a trip to India, it would not be surprising to see people doing yoga in the streets. There are so many statues of “little gods” and the people assume these postures in front of the “deity” as an offering. Cows and monkeys roam freely since they are some of the deities in Hinduism.

The Breathing: In yoga sessions, participants are instructed to breathe consciously, which is the essence of yoga. The conscious breathing assists you in connecting with the subtle energy within. Through the practice of proper breathing, yoga adepts learn to eventually navigate the different levels of consciousness. Essentially you are letting go of the past and the future and focusing on the moment inside a breath.

Prana and Pranayama: Prana refers to the vital force – the energy that animates the lungs. Pranayama is the mode of breathing involving three phases: inhalation, retention, and exhaling. According to yoga practitioners, breath is also vibration and has a specific sound which, when emitted enables the flow of energy. One of these we are all familiar with – Om.

The Energy: like in the Martial Arts such as Tai-Chi or Karate, there is a free flow of energy. In the Martial arts, this energy is called Qi. In yoga, it is called Kundalini (potential energy). It flows through channels called Chakras (points of energy in the body). In acupuncture, these are referred to as pressure points or points of stimulation. There are main Chakras through which the Kundalini “serpent” travels from the base of the spine up to the pituitary gland (the 6th chakra) in the frontal lobe in a weaving fashion, opening up each chakra as it moves up. The 7th chakra is the crown (the top of the head), which is the ultimate destination for full awakening.

The Goal of Yoga: The goal of yoga ( according to yogi swamis) is to move toward an expanded state of consciousness or what yogis call: a Kundalini Awakening. The Yoga Sutras (the writings) explain that by moving the energy up through the chakras along the spine (through breathing and meditation chants) and into the pituitary gland, the practitioner can acquire special abilities such as divination, levitation, mind-reading, Astro-projection, and not feel hunger, thirst or the need to breathe.

As the yogis and the Yoga Sutras say, we can not separate the basic belief of Hinduism from yoga, which is reincarnation. This belief is that there is an eternal cycle 0f birth-death-birth when a soul moves from body to body. This process is based on the law of karma.  According to a former yoga instructor, Laurette Wills, (yoga instructor for 22 years), this means that yoga is essentially a preparing of the body for death in anticipation of the next reincarnation.

Professor Subhas Tuwari of the Hindu University of America. “Yoga is Hinduism.”

Meditation:  According to swami.com, we can not separate or isolate the physical postures and movements from the rest of yoga. Yoga is meditation, they point outIt is a process. Yoga,  involves the senses, the body, the breath, and the various levels of the mind in order to achieve a higher consciousness.

For this reason, meditation will necessarily involve, in addition to postures and movements, visualization, contemplation, following an object of focus, and mantras (speaking, hearing, feeling). The goal as, one former yoga instructor stated is ” to attain oneness with the universe – enlightenment through the emptying of the mind”.

Relaxation: According to The National Academy of Sports Medicine, the goal or purpose of relaxation is” to improve feelings of peace and calm and lower the pulse, blood pressure, and reduce levels of stress hormones in the body. Through time and training the mind can help the body calm itself and lower the heart rate and reduce stress levels, which promote calming and feelings of relaxation and a sense of wellbeing.”

In yoga, this relaxation phase is called Savasana. It is a crucial phase which brings the body back into alignment – a state of equilibrium and allows the brain to unwind.

So, What’s the Fuss over Stretching Exercises?

Yoga is very popular in all age groups. Yoga adepts say it is fun, relaxing, energizing and great for developing muscular strength and balance.  They say that it is a really great way to exercise. They say that after a yoga session they feel good all over and relaxed.

The Swami and traditional yoga practitioners’ (yogis) perspectives are very different, They state that it is impossible to separate the physical aspects (the stretching, postures, and movements) from the rest of the yoga discipline; they are necessarily intertwined. In fact, these traditional practitioners say that Westerners do not fully comprehend the complex metaphysical and spiritual nature of yoga. Yoga must be yoga; the mind, the body and the spiritual united with the Divine.

 So, Is It Healthy?

There are several types of yoga, but the one that seems to be the most popular is Hatha yoga, Hatha yoga is more physical and focuses on the breathing control exercises (pranayama). Some of the benefits promoted about yoga are:

  • Develops an inner awareness
  • Develops breathing control
  • Strengthens the mind and the body
  • Develops mindfulness
  • Balances weight
  • Lowers tension
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Lowers blood sugar

Are there Dangers Associated with Yoga?

Spiritual Dangers

“One often hears and reads about the dangers of Yoga, particularly of the ill-reputed Kundalini Yoga. The deliberately induced psychotic state, which in certain unstable individuals might easily lead to a real psychosis, is a danger that needs to be taken very seriously indeed. These things really are dangerous and ought not to be meddled with in our typically Western way. It is meddling with Fate, which strikes at the very roots of human existence and can let loose a flood of sufferings of which no sane person ever dreamed. These sufferings correspond to the hellish torments of the chönyid state…”   C. G. Jung, Introduction to The Tibetan Book of the Dead * – Carl Jung

Psychological Dangers

There is a strong interest in the correlation between yoga (especially meditation) and psychosis. Some reports have described: (1) appearance of psychotic symptoms for the first time after meditation, (2) precipitation of acute psychotic episodes in those with a history of psychosis, after meditation, and conversely, there have also been reports of psychotherapeutic benefits for psychotics…The overall impression is that for the 6 months duration of follow up studied, chronic schizophrenics respond to activity in the form of physical training. Also, the emphasis on relaxation and awareness of internal sensations which are an essential part of yoga may not be useful for schizophrenics. YOGA AND PSYCHOSIS: RISKS AND THERAPEUTIC POTENTIAL

“We are bombarded with the idea that yoga is not only a healthy exercise for the physical body but the mind as well. Once again, the statistics show otherwise. 76% of cases experienced psychological disorders, 43% had to have psychiatric or medical treatments. Out of the psychological disorders observed 63% experiences tiredness, 52% experiences states of anxiety, 45% experiences depression, 39% experiences nervousness,  39% experienced regression [a childlike dependency], 26% experienced a nervous breakdown, and 20% expressed serious suicidal tendencies. These statistics are based on a study of the TM (Transcendental Meditation) form of yoga and was pursued by the German Government youth department (Ministry of Youth, Family, and Health), which was verified by the nations Supreme Courts after careful review.” Ernest Wood, Seven Schools of Yoga, Theosophy Publishing House, 1976, p.78)

Physiological Dangers

There actually are some concerns regarding the practice of yoga, Injuries do happen. In a study conducted at Sydney University, researchers found that the incidence of pain is more than 10% (which is comparable to most sports). It can also make existing pain worse.

In the interest of giving as much accurate information as possible, it is necessary to say that there is another side to what is promoted. There can be serious consequences (both physical and mental) related to certain yoga practices. Here is a link to a comprehensive site which contains many references to the side effects of yoga. There are too many to summarize, so I invite you to consult it if you so desire.

From Yogadangers.com:

Signs and Symptoms of a Kundalini Awakening:

  • Mental confusion, difficulty concentrating, memory problems
  • Severe emotional mood swings – anxiety, depression, rage, fear, and dread
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Gastrointestinal problems, irritable bowel syndrome
  • Itching, burning, cramping, twitching of skin and  body
  • Electrical rushes and feelings of energy moving throughout  the body
  • Ego problems, grandiose and paranoid states
  • Psychic, trance states and out-of-body experiences
  • Sexual and hormonal difficulties
  • Uncontrollable vocalizations, chanting and body contortions
  • Ringing, rushing, and hissing sounds in ears
  • Paranormal activity – levitations, possession states, and spiritual assault
  • Inability to function effectively enough to work or care for children
  • Symptoms can last for years
  • For more extensive listings see: Signs and symptoms of Kundalini Awakening and Kundalini: Risks and Information

Conclusion

We all want to be in better shape physically and mentally. We all want to have less stress and more peace in our lives. Yoga seems to have been chosen as a means to achieve these goals as and has millions of adepts around the world.  To this end, I wanted to see what yoga was all about and provide information as accurately as possible.

I hope that this post has been helpful to you. Please let me know your thoughts in a comment.

Please click Share if you feel this post can be helpful to someone else.

Have a great day!

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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Cannabis – What’s it all About?

Category : Health

Well, there you have it – as of October 17th, 2018, Canada has become the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to legalize cannabis. Canada took center stage and the world had its eyes riveted toward Ottawa’s decision. Most likely the world is looking to see what will happen next. Is this going to be a trend from nation to nation? Will other countries be stepping up to bat? And what does this mean for Canadians and, indeed the world?

Let’s look a little closer into cannabis, what it is, the health and social aspects to see if we can find out what this might mean for the future.

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is derived from the cannabis plant which grows wild in tropical, temperate and pretty much any climate around the world. The main active ingredient is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is what produces the euphoric high associated with cannabis.  There are 3 forms: marijuana, hashish, and hash oil.

Marijuana: is made from dried flowers and the leaves of the cannabis plant. it is the least potent of the 3 forms,

Hashish: is made from the resin ( a gum) of the cannabis plant. it is then dried, pressed into a block form and smoked.

Hash oil: This is the most potent of the 3 forms. Hash oil is the thick oil derived from the plant. It is also smoked.

What are the Short-term Effects of Using Cannabis? (from Psychology Today)

(1) Impaired memory: While cannabis doesn’t actually seem to destroy existing memory, it can prevent us from creating new memory in our brain.

(2) Reduced anxiety: Many marijuana smokers tend to have higher incidences of anxiety than the rest of the population and they take it to lower their anxiety levels.

(3) Disruption of motor skills: so, taking marijuana could impair our ability to execute functions that require both a high level of concentration and high level of coordination together with fast reactions such as driving a car.

(4) Increased appetite; It seems that cannabis triggers the release of leptin and neuropeptide y, two appetite-stimulating hormones. So, bags of chips and marijuana appear to go hand in hand.

(5) Increased heart rate: Consuming marijuana can possibly increase heart rates per minute by up to 50% and studies have shown that heart attack risk increases by 4.8 times within an hour of consuming cannabis.

(6) Sleep patterns may be disrupted: The evidence is not clear-cut on this one. anecdotal evidence suggests that marijuana may help with sleep, while some studies suggest the opposite. One thing studies clearly show is that the rapid-eye-movement stage of sleep decreases. This is the phase during which we do most of our dreaming.

(7) Pain reduction: Historically, marijuana was reportedly used to numb pain during surgery. It seems that the cannabinoid receptors in the brain are activated and make the person less sensitive to pain. This property of marijuana is the main reason why cancer patients turn to marijuana for pain relief during cancer treatment,

More Social and Health Effects

The National Institue on Drug Abuse states that:

(1) There is a decreased level of motivation and an increased level of absenteeism (school and work) associated with marijuana use.

(2) There is an increase in the number of work accidents ( and potential job losses)

(3) Social life is adversely affected because of memory problems, slow reaction times, anxiety and panic attacks.

(4) Perception and judgment difficulties cause low achievement problems in both work and study environments.

According to Drug.com

(1) Aggression, rebellion, and poor relationships are associated with increased and chronic marijuana use.

According to The Social Impact of Drug Abuse (Jean-Paul Smith):

(1) Marijuana use can cause severe anxiety and panic attacks

(2) Marijuana use is associated with psychotic illness such as schizophrenia and also depression.

Some Marijuana Facts

(1) Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States.

(2) The oldest reference to marijuana goes back to 2727 B.C. when it was discovered and then used medicinally in China

(3) Women are more sensitive to the pain killing abilities of marijuana than men, but they are also more likely to develop a dependency.

(4) Hemp plants are the same species as marijuana plants, but they do not produce THC.

(5) The fibers of the marijuana plant are called hemp – they are extremely strong and can be made into cloth fabric and even rope to pull… statues (!).

(6) Like wine connoisseurs, there are marijuana connoisseurs.

(7) Beer and marijuana are closely related and belong to the same family of flowering plants.

(8) The air of the Colosseum in Rome, as well as the cities of Florence, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Turin, and Verona, have wafts of marijuana floating in the air along with nicotine, caffeine, and cocaine.

(9) The marijuana plant is not an eco-friendly plant. For every one pound of “pot”. 4,600  pounds of Co2 is released.

(10) Compared to cigarettes, heavily smoked marijuana does not increase lung cancer. it is actually less addictive than caffeine.

What to Think?

So, concerning marijuana, there is no lack of literature, studies, opinions and anecdotal stories. Everyone has an opinion and everyone has a concern. Many know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone that something happened to because of marijuana. There are stories of how it has helped people (with illness0 and stories of how it has destroyed lives.

One thing seems to be clear. It looks like there is no turning back, at least for Canada and Uraguay. It seems to be set in stone here. Only time will tell the real story of how it has impacted us for better or for worse.

As to the other countries of the world, it would be good to sit back and observe to see if that is the path you wish to take. Is it inevitable? I don’t have an answer to that question. It certainly is Canada’s decision for now.

What is your takeaway on this subject? How do you feel?  I would love to have your feedback. Please leave a comment.

Have a great day!

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca
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Discover Amazing Golden Milk

These days, it’s all about the turmeric in health circles. It is making waves in scientific studies and anecdotal experience.  Golden Milk, made with turmeric, is becoming very popular. And the taste is awesome.  It gives a new definition to the “Hot Toddy.” I think it is safe to say that if you haven’t tried Golden Milk yet, you have been missing out.

So what is Golden Milk? It is an ancient beverage, typically consumed warm, from Ayurvedic medicine and is known for its delicious taste and numerous therapeutic, health benefits.  In Ayurvedic tradition, this drink was taken to fight off colds, congestion, sore throats and headaches. Beginning in India, thousands of years ago, the drink has made its way across the world and now the main component, turmeric (curcumin), is being studied for these and other health benefits. Some other benefits attributed to turmeric are:

  • blood purifier
  • antibacterial
  • antiinflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • aids in digestion
  • aids in cancer therapies such as radiation
  • aids in brain function

Ingredients

Golden milk ingredients (livingandstuff.ca)

Here are the main ingredients you will want to have in your Golden Milk:

Coconut oil –  makes it easier (the fats) for our bodies to absorb the curcumin in the turmeric root. Curcumin is the main compound we are looking to absorb.

Coconut oil contains healthy saturated fats that satiate as well as protect our brain against degenerative diseases.

Black pepper – The piperine in black pepper seems to be able to activate the curcumin to make it more bioavailable to our bodies. It makes the curcumin more potent.

Turmeric– either fresh grated or raw ground turmeric powder. I prefer the ground turmeric powder because it is easier to mix and I can keep it for longer. Tumeric is an anti-inflammatory root, similar to ginger root.

Coconut milk- the original recipe used milk, but I think coconut milk tastes better and is healthier

Honey -.Raw honey is best because of the enzymes contained in raw honey. Honey also has antibacterial properties.

Other ingredients– you can also add cinnamon or ginger to add more spice, some might want to add in some ginger as well. Cinimmon has anti-oxidants and helps to regulate blood sugar. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. It will also help to take away some of the bitterness of the turmeric root.

Directions

Add all ingredients except the (raw) honey to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir frequently.

Boil for about 10 min. until the mixture is smooth and homogenous. Boiling also takes away some of the bitter taste of the turmeric.

After 10 min; remove the saucepan from the burner and cool for 10-15 min.

Add the raw honey and mix thoroughly. The honey will give the mixture a cohesive paste texture as well as add a pleasant taste.

Put the paste into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator. It should keep well for a minimum of 2-3 weeks.

Golden paste (livingandstuff.ca)

Some Ways to Use Golden Paste

  • in smoothies
  • as a topping for pumpkin pie
  • in coffee
  • in Golden milk
  • as a broth (omit the raw honey)
  • in a salad dressing
  • in soups (omit the raw honey)

Other Uses

  • as a face mask
  • as a poultice for inflamed skin or sprains
  • as a whitening toothpaste (omit the raw honey and add baking soda and coconut oil)
  • as a skin soother for sunburns and poison ivy breakout (mix with aloe vera gel)

Conclusion:

There is no reason not to try golden milk or paste and add to your daily routine. With such outstanding health benefits and versatility, it merits becoming a staple in every home. From a warming drink in the evening to a tooth whitening paste, there is something for everyone. Why not give it a try?

Has this information been helpful to you? Let me know in a comment.

 

Sharing ideas is the game and life is for living
Diana’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca
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Weird and Wonderful Kombucha

Category : Health , Life Tips , Lifestyle

It’s Getting Around Town

Kombucha.  You’ve probably seen it somewhere. Maybe you’ve seen it at the grocery store alongside other drinks and paid no attention to it. Maybe you have wandered into a “Hipster Hangout” at a local vegetarian or vegan “café, Or maybe you have one of those friends who is fanatical about “growing things” in their kitchen and you have seen “something” growing in jars on their kitchen counter. It is likely that you have come into contact with this “on the rise” drink.

The New Health Baby on the Block

Komucha has a bubbly, tangy taste to it. When you first try it, you don’t quite know what to make of it. The bottle ingredients may say that it is a cherry flavour or raspberry flavour, so you may expect a fruity drink. Well, it is that, but it seems to taste more like a fruity beer with maybe a twist of vinegar than a fruit drink.  In fact, you might even believe it is actually beer since the taste is so similar, except the it has that fruity taste as well.  And it is… really.. bubbly.

We may have tried it because of all the “health hype” about it. It is the new thing to try,  Kombochu is the new health baby on the block and we don’t want to in the dark about what it is. So we try it just to say that we have.

So, What Is it?

Basically, Kombucha is a sweetened tea that is fermented for a period of 1-3 weeks.The cloudy “floaty bits” floating around in it are called the scoby -some call it a mushroom.

A Bit of History

So where does it come from?  It seems that everything old is new again – new to us, that is. Kombucha was originally consumed in ancient China – about 2,200 years ago. It was revered for its detoxifying and energizing qualities. But, of course, it didn’t remain an “ancient Chinese secret”, Kombucha travelled on to Russia through trade routes and then eventually found its way into Eastern Europe. Around the time of WWII, Kombucha made its way into Germany and then later France and Northern Africa.

Fascinating Kombucha Facts

(1)  Don’t spill Kombucha on your rubber shoes

The acid in the Kombocha together with the friction from the rubber will eat at your skin. It is better to wash it off straight away.

(2) It’s not a mushroom and It is alive!

The “floaty thing” is often called a mushroom (as in a fungus). It is not a mushroom at all, but is, instead, a biofilm ( a cellulose particle) which is produced by bacteria.

(3) It’s like beer

Depending on how long the kombucha has been left to ferment, the alcohol content can range from between 0.5% and 5%. So it really is like beer and drinking enough of it….well.. you could (maybe) get drunk on it.

(4) It’s Chinese

Kombucha is said to have originated in China (The North Eastern part) around 220 B.C.

(5) It gets things moving

All the probiotics in Kombucha certainly help the metabolism and the digestive process to speed things up. So, the bathroom routine may definitely improve.

(6) It can be turned into clothing -seriously!

The bacteria in Kombucha form a microfilm which can be made into fabric with a leather-like texture. From it, we can make shirts, shoes, coats and more.

(7) It can be addictive

People do develop an addiction to this drink, but not as much as coffee or tea.

 

Some Health Benefits of Kombucha

It seems that the probiotics, the B vitamins and the acidic compounds in Kombucha are responsible for most of the healthful benefits derived from drinking Kombucha.

(1) Kombucha may help with anxiety and other mood disorders

“In conclusion, the emerging concept of a gut microbiota-brain axis suggests that the modulation of the gut microbiota may provide a novel therapeutic target for the treatment and/or prevention of mood and anxiety disorders.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25470391 

(2) Kombucha may boost the immune system

“These data show that probiotics can be used as innovative tools to alleviate intestinal inflammation, normalize gut mucosal dysfunction, and down-regulate hypersensitivity reactions. More recent data show that differences exist in the immunomodulatory effects of candidate probiotic bacteria. Moreover, distinct regulatory effects have been detected in healthy subjects and in patients with inflammatory diseases. These results suggest that specific immunomodulatory properties of probiotic bacteria should be characterized when developing clinical applications for extended target populations.”

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/73/2/444s/4737576

(3) Kombucha may decrease incidence of heart disease

“Probiotics create acids that counter cholesterol production: As probiotic bacteria absorb fiber from the intestines, they generate acids. One of the specific acids, i.e. proprionic acid, reduces production of cholesterol by the liver.

Probiotics break down liver bile acids: Bile acids assist body in digesting fats, and the liver produces these bile acids from cholesterol. The liver recycles bile acids and utilizes them over and over. Probiotics break down bile acids and, therefore, the liver has to make additional bile acids, using up more cholesterol in the progression.”

Probiotics actually eat cholesterol: Probiotic bacteria have been shown to break down cholesterol and use it for nourishment.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023901/

(4) Kombucha may fight yeast infection

“…exhibiting the most important inhibition zone observed against the Candida strains tested (Candida glabrata, Candida tropicalis, Candida sake, Candida dubliniensis, and Candida albicans). In view of their antimicrobial activity demonstrated against a range of pathogenic bacteria and against a number of clinical Candida species, the fermented L. citriodora and F. vulgare may be very healthful.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643812000023

(5) Kombucha may help with type II diabetes

“The findings revealed that kombucha tea administration induced attractive curative effects on diabetic rats, particularly in terms of liver-kidney functions. Kombucha tea can, therefore, be considered as a potentially strong candidate for future application as a functional supplement for the treatment and prevention of diabetes.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3403982/

The Downside of Kombucha

(1) Keto acidosis

Overconsumption or daily consumption may lead to acidosis, which is an abnormally high level of acid in the blood (the ph drops below 7.35).  To be fair, one would have to drink a whole lot of kombucha to get acidosis.

The symptoms of acidosis include: confusion, headaches, tiredness, shaking and rapid breathing or shortness of breath. If acidosis is left unattended to, it can lead to serious medical emergency conditions of brain damage, coma and it may even lead to death.

For more information on acidosis read:

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001181.htm

(2) Lead poisoning

Lead poisoning is a risk depending on how the kombucha was brewed. If it was brewed in a pot that contains ceramic, clay, lead crystals or paint, the acid in the brew will draw out and absorb the lead in the pot.

There are many symptoms of lead poisoning which may include: headaches, stomach pains, sleep problems, constipation, tiredness, irritability, loss of appetite, numbness in the extremities.

Homebrewing needs to be done with careful attention to the pots used and measures are taken to test for traces of lead. If strict procedures are followed, then there should not be an issue with lead poisoning.

(3) Mold and pathogen contamination

This risk is higher in the home-brewed  and ‘raw’ (unpasteurized) varieties and usually only if and when certain precautions are not taken. Without going into detail on this subject, it is important to make sure that proper fermentation procedure is followed (length of time, no exposure to direct sunlight or to other objects -cross contamination) and sanitary guidelines are respected.

Kombucha purchased commercially usually does not have mold and pathogen issues because it has been properly tested.

(4) Kombucha can be addictive

Kombucha contains caffeine (it is made from fermented tea, after all). The high quantity of sugar in it also makes you want to drink more and more.  Initially, it makes you feel good and energized, so of course, you want to get this feeling over and over.

(5)  High acidity

The acidic level in kombucha should be a warning signal to people with IBS or other digestive issues.

Also, there may be the possibility of wearing away the enamel on your teeth with regular consumption. the takeaway on kombucha?

The Takeaway

Kombucha has an interesting history and appears to have several health benefits (for having been around for so long).  Most of the health benefits appear to be centered around the probiotic content of the drink more than anything else. The health studies done specifically on Kombucha are practically (almost) inexistent (for whatever reason).  The lack of studies does not necessarily make it unhealthy (or healthy); it is just that the benefits seem to be largely based on anecdotal evidence together with the current understanding of the health benefits of probiotics.

If a person is generally in good health, drinks kombucha in moderation (not becoming obsessed and fanatical about it) and obtains the kombucha from a reputable source (I do not know enough about home brewing to endorse it), then there should be no problem enjoying this sweet, tangy and bubbly drink.

So, pour yourself a glass of “bubbly” and raise a toast to life. Life is for Living, after all!

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Diana’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca
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