The Breath – Our Life Force

How does the Breath Effect our Overall Health?

The breath is an integral part of our overall health and the most vital process of the body. The breath is our life force and influences the activities of each and every cell, and most importantly, is intimately linked with the performance of the brain. Breathing is generally an unconscious action of the body, controlled by the brain stem. Most of us are not aware of our breath, how we breathe and how the breath affects our body, our overall balance, our wellbeing and our mind. However, breathing is one of the few bodily functions which can be controlled consciously. The breath is the link between the conscious and the unconscious mind.

We take a breath approximately 17,000-30,000 times per day. Most people breathe incorrectly, using only a small part of their lung capacity. Their breathing is then generally shallow, depriving the body of oxygen and life force (prana) essential to good health. Abdominal breathing is the most natural and efficient way to breathe. Once this technique becomes part of daily life, you will notice a great improvement in the state of physical and mental wellbeing.

Pranayama is the conscious awareness of breath: the life force that both energises, balances and relaxes the body. The term is derived from the Sanskrit word, prana, meaning “life force,” and ayama, meaning “extension or control.” Pranayama is an integral part of yoga. The controlled breathing enables both the rhythm of performing yoga poses and relaxing the mind for meditation.

Firstly, it is important is to learn how to breathe correctly. I had a friend who used to stick post-it notes all around her apartment with the word, “Breathe” as a reminder to breathe correctly. Abdominal breathing is the most natural and efficient way to breathe. Once abdominal breathing becomes part of daily life, there is a great improvement in the state of physical and mental wellbeing.

Abdominal Breathing – Pranayama…is natural and easy to learn.

Lie on the floor or sit in a chair and relax completely. Feel the breath flow naturally in and out through the nostrils. Allow the breath to flow in through the nostrils and down to the abdomen. Notice the abdomen move upward on inhalation and downward on exhalation. You can place a hand on the abdomen to feel the correct movement.

As a yoga teacher, one Pranayama practice I include at the end of every class is Nadi Shodhana Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing. The practice of Nadi Shodhana (purification of the nadis or energy channels) clears pranic blockages and balances all of our 72,000 nadis or energy channels in our body. Nadi Shodhana balances the whole body, induces tranquillity, clarity of thought and concentration.  It increases vitality and lowers levels of stress and anxiety.  It is a simple practice and takes only a few minutes and can be done daily.

It is best to seek out a good yoga class that includes Pranayama and Nadi Shodhana to learn how to do the practice correctly. It involves a hand mudra…the placement of the hand in a specific position and using a controlled breath through the nostrils.

Below are instructions on how to perform basic Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing).

Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) Practice

Sit in a comfortable position…spine upright, straight and relaxed. Bring the tip of the index finger and the tip of the thumb on the left hand together and place the left hand on the thigh either palm up (Chin Mudra) or down (Jnana Mudra). Concentrate on the normal abdominal breathing for a few minutes…slowly breathing down to the navel and back up.

  • Lift the right hand, place the index finger and middle finger at the eyebrow centre (Pranayama Mudra).
  • Close the right nostril gently with the thumb.
  • Breathe in slowly, gently but deeply through the left nostril visualising the breath flowing through the eyebrow centre. Do not force the breath.
  • Gently close the left nostril… open the right nostril and breathe out through the right.
  • Keeping the left nostril gently closed breathe back in through the right nostril…closing the right nostril…opening the left.
  • Bring the breath through the eyebrow centre and back out through the left. This is one round.

Repeat the round 5 – 7 times.

Hand Mudras

The Sanskrit word mudra is translated as ‘gesture’. Mudras are a combination of subtle physical movements which alter mood, attitude, and perception and deepen awareness and concentration.

 

URL link for a video and short instruction on Nadi Shodhana.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apLOi3y0iyA

URL link to an informative article on the breath and the link between the conscious and unconscious mind. http://www.thehealersjournal.com/2012/10/03/breath-is-the-link-between-the-conscious-and-unconscious-mind/

www.naturescreation.biz


I went to bed last night with a scratchy throat…the kind you get when you feel like you may be coming down with something but no real specific symptoms…more a feeling of unbalance and exhaustion. This morning I was aware of the same feeling so I took some immune strengthening herbs.

I stopped by the Organic shop on my way home from the grocery store to pick up a couple of dry herbs. I walked in and I was immediately drawn to the liquid Echinacea supplement. Echinacea is best known for its positive effect on the immune system. Herbalists regard Echinacea as one of the best antibiotics and blood purifiers…activating the immune system, and helping to resist disease.

I returned home and decided to draw one of the Insight cards from my book, Nature’s Creation – Knowledge and Guidance through Healing Plants. Synchronicity. I was a bit taken back when I drew the Echinacea card and immediately connected with the message this plant was sharing with me. I was not coming down with something but my immune system was definitely out of balance. The Insight message below rang clear and true.

Insight…quoted from the book.

“If you have drawn the Echinacea card today it is time to pay more attention to your physical needs, especially your immune system. You may be under stress at home or at work or you may have had some physical or emotional trauma recently. It could be that you are not aware of the stress you have taken on. The effects of stress or trauma may be underlying and not obvious; however, if the stress isn’t recognised it may manifest in an immune-related illness. The fact that you have chosen this card at this time is an indication that you are likely holding on to stress in some way, consciously or unconsciously.

The power of Echinacea will enable you to look within and re-connect with your intuition to bring to the surface any underlying stress. In order to release the stress you must be able to take responsibility for everything that occurs in your life without blame. By acknowledging the stress you are then able to release it fully and once again feel your inner strength and calm return. This will bring balance back to your immune system with a renewed feeling of wholeness, freedom and inner peace”.

I had an “ah ha” moment. I knew exactly what was causing this imbalance and how to change it. As the author of this book, I had to remind myself that I too need a refresher course on the power of medicinal plants and how to once again, “stop and smell the roses” (or the Echinacea).


Is Borax Toxic?

I’ve been hearing about Borax recently and the connection between Borax and a treatment for arthritis. I’ve always regarded Borax as an additive to washing powder…not as a medicinal product for arthritis. I began to dig more deeply and do some research and I read the article below by Dawn Gifford (creator of Small Footprint Family). Her article answered all my questions and I found it informative. When I wrote my book, Nature’s Creation – Knowledge & Guidance through Healing Plants, I was adamant about advising my readers to always check with their doctor or Naturopath before self-treating. If you are considering taking Boron internally I feel this advice is important.

Article by Dawn Gifford

Many people are concerned about whether borax is a safe chemical. There are many sites on the internet claiming it is toxic. I disagree with these sites and believe that borax is as safe for household use as table salt or washing soda—in other words, the dose makes the poison. Here’s why…

History of Borax

Humans have mined and used borax (also known as sodium tetraborate) since its discovery in Persia more than 4,000 years ago. Borax is a naturally occurring mineral found in concentration in dried salt lake beds, and consists of water, sodium, boron and oxygen. That’s it. The main areas where borax is mined today are in Turkey and California.

Boron is an essential trace mineral nutrient required for many functions in the body, like rebuilding bone and teeth, hormone regulation, absorption and metabolism of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, and maintaining communication between your cells.

In fact, boron is as essential for the parathyroid gland as iodine is for the thyroid.

Boron is ubiquitous in soil and water, and is required for plant growth. Diets with a fair amount of fruit and vegetables provide about 2 to 5 mg of boron per day, but this also depends on the region where the food was grown and how it was grown.

The Evidence on Borax

All of the studies that showed evidence of possible hormone disruption in animals either used ridiculously high doses of borax (many grams delivered intravenously), or they conflated borax with boric acid, which is NOT the same stuff.

Borax (sodium tetraborate) is used in the process of making boric acid, but there is a tremendous chemical difference between the two. Many of the studies used to demonstrate the alleged danger of borax often used boric acid instead, or were ambiguous about which was used.

Boric acid is toxic at far lower doses than borax, so any study that isn’t clear about which of the two is used for the data should not be considered credible. (This includes the EWG data.)

Borax can be toxic at the high doses used in animal studies. It has this effect at high doses is because it is essentially an overdose of the element boron. Iron, zinc and calcium are required by the body too, but an overdose of any of these will also send you to the hospital, or even kill you!

However, adults would never ingest anything even close to the amount of borax required to do harm—unless they worked unprotected for years in a borax mine or packaging factory. However, you will want to keep your small children and pets out of the borax, just as you would keep them away from the chewable vitamins. An overdose of boron can be as dangerous as an overdose of zinc or iron, especially for small bodies.

Borax is officially classified as non-carcinogenic and a mild skin irritant. The high alkalinity of borax (pH 9.5) is what causes skin irritation, which is the same reason that washing soda and even baking soda cause skin irritation, too. The alkaline pH of borax, washing soda and baking soda is what softens the water, and makes it possible for them to clean your clothes.

There are also several studies in the ToxNet database that show borax is only a very mild lung irritant and causes no lasting damage. If ingested, it is quickly excreted in the urine. In addition, it does not really penetrate the skin well, and is not bio-accumulative.

Finally, the Material Safety Data Sheet lists borax as a health hazard of 1—the same as baking soda and salt. In other words, borax is toxic in the same way that salt is toxic (Actually ounce for ounce, salt is more toxic): A small amount can do great things; a huge amount will kill you and other living things.

You wouldn’t want to ingest large amounts of salt or baking soda, inhale them, or rub them in your eyes. Borax is no different.

Uses for Borax

Borax is used in laundry detergents, hair potions and skin lotions. Like diatomaceous earth, it also can help kill fleas and dust mites in your carpet by dehydrating them. It is also used as a safer ant and cockroach killer.

Borax is also naturally anti-fungal and anti-viral (but not anti-bacterial), and—here’s the neat part—through a chemical reaction with water, borax produces hydrogen peroxide (the main ingredient in OxyClean) to brighten and sanitize your clothes.

Because borax is made of just sodium, oxygen, hydrogen and boron, many people even ingest small amounts of borax mixed in water to self-treat various health conditions that supplemental boron can really help, like arthritis, fluoride detoxification, osteoporosisprostate cancer, menopausal symptoms, psoriasis, and candida.

I do not recommend supplementing with borax because it’s very hard to regulate the dose, and you don’t want to overdo it. Use a high-quality boron supplement instead.

For external use, you should use the same precautions (gloves, dust mask or bandana) with borax that they would use around any dusty substance, like washing soda, bentonite clay, diatomaceous earth, or powdered soap. (Heck, even flour or powdered sugar would be irritating if inhaled!)

So, Is Borax Toxic?

In sum, borax is wholly natural and has no inherently toxic ingredients. It doesn’t cause cancer, accumulate in the body or in nature, or absorb through the skin.

Because the dose makes the poison, borax is not harmful to the body or the environment with normal, external usage any more than salt or baking soda is. In fact, the largest borax (borate) mine in the world—found in Boron, California—is considered to be one of the most ecologically sound and environmentally sustainable mines in the United States.

I consider borax a safe, effective cleaner, and I will continue to use it in my household green cleaning and safer pest control.


How does stress impact our health?

Often we aren’t aware that we are stressed as we go about our daily life. All those niggly things like, getting to work or an appointment on time, financial stress, a pileup of emails to answer, picking up children from school on time and trying to fit everything on your list into one day. Stress response is a normal function for our bodies and we definitely do need it in certain circumstances, however, being constantly stressed is not healthy and it’s making us sick.

Physical, chemical or emotional stress can unbalance the brain and the body and activate the Sympathetic Nervous System…our fight and flight system that enables us to manage our external environment and perceived threats. If our Sympathetic Nervous System is continually activated the shut-down button gets stuck on fast forward and our immune system becomes weakened. When the immune system is compromised we become susceptible to disease, infection and cancer. According to Bruce Lipton (an internationally recognized leader in bridging science and spirit), “Over 90% of disease and illness today is based on lifestyle and stress, not genetics,”

According to Dr. Josh Axe (doctor of chiropractic, certified doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist)…there are three ways our bodies can be stressed.

PHYSICAL: this can be a trauma, injury, accident or fall

CHEMICAL: this includes flu, bacterial infection, hangovers and unbalanced blood sugar levels

EMOTIONAL: this is the fear-inducing situations, perceived pressure at work or financially, family tragedies.

Stress influences all the organs in the body and directly affects the gut. Changing our diet is important, however, learning how to manage stress and our emotions is critical.

The brain and the gut are closely connected and communicate with each other. When you experience chronic stress, your brain goes into fight or flight mode, causing your digestion and blood flow in the gut to slow down, the muscles that push along waste and bacteria to freeze up, and the secretions for digestion to decrease. All of these stress responses equal a poorly functioning gut! Take care of your gut health by coping with stress through breath work, yoga, meditation, therapy, time in the outdoors and the countless other stress reduction techniques available to you.

 

https://www.naturescreation.biz/blog/entry/gut-brain-connection/

https://www.anahata-retreat.org.nz/


A member of the rose family with over 1,000 species worldwide, identification of Hawthorn confuses even some of the most experienced botanists. This is partly due to the fact that the different species hybridize (cross-pollinate) very easily. However…the chemical profiles of Hawthorn found in all areas worldwide appear to be identical.

Hawthorn acts on the body by lowering the blood pressure and having a positive effect on the functioning of the heart. The effectiveness of Hawthorn in the treatment of chronic heart conditions has been confirmed in a number of clinical trials…most noteworthy was a 1994 trial in Germany. The ability of Hawthorn to improve heart rate and lower blood pressure was clearly documented in patients.

Drawing the Hawthorn Insight card (the lesson that the plant teaches) that accompanies the Nature’s Creation book is an indication that the heart is involved in some way. This could mean an obstacle or difficulty arising in the affairs of the heart or it may relate to an imbalance or block in the heart energy.

The yogic practice of Pranayama (breath work) is wonderful for clearing an imbalance in heart energy and bringing balance and clarity to the body on all levels. Practices suggested: Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (energy network purification) and Bhramari Pranayama (humming bee breath). These practices are detailed in the book under the Information and Reference Guide and can be done daily.

“Heart intuition or intelligence brings the freedom and power to accomplish what the mind, even with all the disciplines or affirmations in the world, cannot do if it’s out of sync with the heart” –Doc Childre and Howard Martin–

Nature’s Creation – Knowledge & Guidance through Healing Plants

www.naturescreation.biz


Do we all have the power within us to totally let go of all the old “programs” and “belief systems” that control our lives?  Are our bodies simply able to heal themselves…physically, mentally and emotionally once we drop those old belief systems and old stories?

My friend Vicki and I lived in New Zealand in a small town at the top of the south island. We spent a great deal of time together studying medicinal herbs with an amazing teacher. As an offshoot of our herbal studies, we discovered the world of Nature Intelligence…working co-creatively with Nature in our gardens and everyday life…out of which evolved my book, Nature’s Creation – Knowledge & Guidance through Healing Plants. But, that’s another story.

We both moved back to Australia over a decade ago and although we didn’t see each other often, we stayed in touch from a distance. Vicki decided to throw caution to the wind, pack up and leave her home south of Sydney.  She put a post on Facebook letting friends know she was open to housesitting. Synchronicity came into both our lives. I noticed her post immediately and booked her in for 5 weeks in June/July when I head to Europe (Scotland, Norway & Iceland)…but that too is another story.

It turns out that I was invited to go to Sydney recently for my cousin’s 70th birthday party and Vicki was on her way up north to Queensland…so stopping in Byron Bay for 4 days worked perfectly for her to come and housesit.

I have a small but lovable dog, however, Vicki has never had much involvement with dogs but she was willing to babysit Kashi (or maybe it was the other way around). Let me put the record straight. Kashi has always followed me everywhere and is always right by my feet or close by. He sleeps in my room on his bed every night and literally is my shadow.

Three weeks ago Vicki arrived. Instantly, Kashi deserted me and began to follow Vicki everywhere. Now, let me tell you, I was dumbfounded. I’ve had this dog for 5+ years and he has never instantly deserted me for another person, especially one who virtually ignored him, other than a pat or two to say hello.

That night we went out for dinner and Vicki was telling me about how she had changed her life. I’m not sure I can fully explain what she told me as I’m still attempting to understand the concept and incorporate it into my life. I’m a beginner but here is a brief synopsis. Believe me, there is way more to it than I can explain at this time as this has been part of Vicki’s life for several years now and has transformed her in every way.

It is all about knowing the body has the innate ability to heal itself in every way. It is about letting go of all the old programs & belief systems around what we’ve been told all our lives and believe as true…those programs that are ingrained in our minds and belief systems. It’s about knowing that many of these old programs don’t serve us and knowing/believing that we are able to change this… totally letting go of these old programs.  It’s about coming to a place of health, peace, happiness, balance and without stress.

I don’t proclaim to know very much about this process…yet! But…I do know that Vicki’s energy has changed and her life now flows. She is content and happy and not affected by negative things going on around her or old belief systems. However…what made me a believer is my trusty dog, Kashi. He literally deserted me to be right by Vicki and her balanced, peaceful energy. She didn’t do anything to encourage him. It was his choice. Animals will choose to be around pure, balanced energy and this was a light bulb moment for me.

Part of the synchronicity of what I’ve discovered is that I’m being led down this path almost on a daily basis in myriad ways…either via Facebook or through word of mouth. I continue to have “Ah Ha” moments. Recently, I discovered a preview of a new doco on my Facebook page. The doco is called, HEAL. It just happens to be showing at the Pighouse Flicks in Byron Bay…so I went to see it last week. The documentary revolves around the question, “Can the human body heal itself by changing one’s perspective?”

By the way…Vicki had not heard about the Heal doco until I emailed her the link just a few days ago.

Here is the link to Heal preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ffp-4tityDE


 

 

 

 

 



Natures Creation

NATURE’S CREATION – Knowledge & Guidance through Healing Plants – Book & Cards

A wonderful book and card set for those who are passionate about medicinal plants. Use the book and cards to learn about over 40 medicinal plants, their history, myths and, most importantly, their healing properties. Discover how to utilise the plants’ medicinal qualities through a variety of herbal preparations. Tinctures, decoctions, flower essences, essential oils and herbal teas can be powerful tools in healing on all levels…physical, mental and emotional.

Each card has also been designed to provide insight and to aid in recognising an issue and facilitating its release or simply in using a particular plant for personal support. Choose a card daily or whenever you need guidance and support. Browse the corresponding chapter to get a feeling for the plant and what it’s offering you and to reflect on the gentle lesson it teaches.

Many of the insights in the book embrace spiritual practices for personal growth and balance. Yoga, meditation, fire ceremony and other modalities can be used to strengthen the plants’ healing abilities and assist in transforming, aligning and bringing balance.

Check out the book/cards set. The perfect Christmas gift!

Buy the book/cards on the website: www.naturescreation.biz

 


I’m beginning to gather my annual and perennial medicinal herbs to plant out in my garden and/or in pots. In the photo above (left) I have comfrey, viola, calendula, mint varieties, Herb Robert, yacon, and nasturtiums ready to plant. In the pots, I have strawberries and lavender. Below are pictures of my herb garden, comfrey, and Herb Robert.

I like to plant mint and comfrey in pots as both of these species can take over the garden very quickly if left to their own devices. Comfrey will re-grow from the most minuscule piece of root left under the earth. A trick I’ve used in the past is to plant them in good sized pots, dig a hole in my garden and put the whole pot, with the plant potted inside into the hole. This method prevents the roots from escaping and the plant taking over the garden. They then become part of the herb garden and stay within their boundaries.

My little herb garden has been fertilised, mulched and left over winter. It’s now ready to plant out. This garden gets lots of sun in the summer so I have another little garden space for shade-loving plants like Herb Robert (above). My climate is sub-tropical, therefore the herbs I’m planting grow well in this climate. It is best to do some planning and figure out which plants will be happy planted in your garden bed and which ones would prefer a pot outside or even inside on the kitchen windowsill. I planted my lavender in a pot so I can control how much water it gets. Lavender does not particularly like the humid, sub-tropical climate or wet feet. My strawberries are in pots on the edge of my garden bed as strawberries are another plant that spreads rapidly and takes over. I only have a small herb garden so I have to plan it out well. I like to have a low maintenance, easy to manage garden. Everything comes down to how much space is available in your garden and what you choose to plant. It is important not to overcrowd the garden and to leave space for each plant to stay healthy and to grow to its optimum size…especially if you are using the plant medicinally.

Companion planting is also something I like to do. I know that nasturtiums and calendula like kale so I will plant a few kale plants with them. I’ve learned that kale isn’t keen on strawberries so I will keep the strawberry pots well away from the kale. Mint is good around cabbage and tomatoes but not parsley or chamomile. Lemon balm is often called bee balm as it attracts bees that pollinate other plants in the garden. Check out companion planting as a diverse mix of plants that are compatible makes for a healthy and beautiful herb garden.

Nature’s Creation Book and Cards have lots of good information about many of the available herbs and how to use them medicinally. www.naturescreation.biz

 


Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) or Saint Robert’s Herb is a European woodland geranium with an extremely long history as a valuable medicinal herb. It had all but disappeared from medicinal herb gardens. However, with its amazing healing qualities, this little herb is making a well-deserved comeback.

Very little information is written on Herb Robert’s healing constituents but this special plant has repeated time and time again, that it has supreme therapeutic qualities. It has proven that it has the capabilities to enhance the immune system. Research has established that the source of germanium in Herb Robert is a beneficial element in the body…having the ability to make oxygen available to the cells. This ability gives the body the opportunity to fight disease enabling the cells to regenerate and heal quickly. Free radicals cause a lack of oxygen in the cells and disease such as cancer can manifest.

Germanium’s outstanding effects on the immune system have been well documented in medical journals. As an adaptogen herb, it increases the body’s resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety, and fatigue. Adaptogens generally work by strengthening the immune system, nervous system and/or glandular system…helping to boost, balance and normalise functions in the body. Herb Robert has earned a reputation as a cure for cancer with testimonials to back up the claims.

This is a herb that can be of great benefit and used daily. The plant provides vitamins A and C, as well as B. It is full of minerals such as iron, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, and calcium. Fresh leaves and flowers can be steeped to make a tea or dried and stored to use throughout the winter months as a tea or tossed into salads as a nutrient booster. The root can also be dried and used.