Quinoa and Avocado Salad

Summer is a great time for salads!

The hot temperatures lead to a natural desire for cooler foods such as salads.  But rather than having just raw vegetable salads, I invite you to branch out into what I call “full meal” salads.  These salads have a combination of whole grains or proteins with cooked or raw vegetables giving them more of a nutritional punch and also balancing the load of raw foods.

In Ayurveda, raw foods are considered cold energetically which means they can be imbalancing in excess for the vata and kapha doshas, both of which are cold or cool by nature.  By contrast, pitta dosha is HOT and is balanced by cold.

Yet, even a person with a high amount pitta in their constitution with a strong digestion can become imbalanced if eating too many raw or cold foods.

Raw foods are also harder to digest.  So, if you are going to eat more raw salads it is important to 1) make sure your digestive system is working well and 2) ideally eat those foods at mid-day when the digestive fire is naturally stronger.

Quinoa and Avocado Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs. raisins (preferably a mix of dark and golden)
  • 2 Tbs. dried apricots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red or white quinoa, rinsed well
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large lemon
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 medium firm-ripe avocados (6 to 7 oz. each), pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 medium scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. coarsely chopped toasted almonds
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, soak the raisins and apricots in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a 2-quart saucepan, bring 2 cups water, the quinoa, and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is translucent and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (The outer germ rings of the grain will remain chewy and white. Some germ rings may separate from the grain and will look like white squiggles.) Immediately fluff the quinoa with a fork and turn it out onto a baking sheet to cool to room temperature.
  3. Finely grate the zest from the lemon and then squeeze 1 Tbs. juice.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest and juice with the olive oil, coriander, cumin, paprika, and 1/4 tsp. salt.
  5. In a large bowl, toss the vinaigrette with the quinoa, raisins, apricots, avocado, scallions, and almonds.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper then serve.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/soups-and-salads/quinoa-and-avocado-salad

©2017, Jamie Durner, Holistic Life-Wellness-Business Coach. ✪Helping Professional Women Finally Break Free Of The Overwhelmed-Frazzled-Burnt-Out Cycle With My Exclusive Work-Life Balance Programs✪

Posted in Be Well, Grains, Kapha, Pitta, Recipes, Soups and Salads, Vata | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cucumber Raita

Raita is a delicious condiment in which  yogurt is the main ingredient.

 In Ayurveda, yogurt by itself is sour, heating and difficult to digest.  However, when yogurt is watered down and spiced, as in a lassi, or spiced and taken in small quantities with a meal, it can serve as a digestive aid.

This raita is one of my favorites for the summer pitta season.

Cucumbers are cooling energetically and sweet in taste so make a lovely antidote to the heat of the summer.  The cucumber skin is bitter, which is also balancing to pitta and kapha but not to the vata dosha.  Both the cucumber and the yogurt can aggravate the kapha dosha.  As such, those with higher kapha or a kapha imbalance should take only occasionally and increase the mustard seeds and asafoetida.

In general this dish lowers or pacifies vata and pitta doshas while increases or aggravates kapha dosha.

Cucumber Raita

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1.5 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter) recipe to make your own
  • 1/4 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch hing (asafoetida)
  • 2 curry leaves, fresh or dried (can be found at Indian groceries)
  • 1 small handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 c. plain yogurt

Instructions

  1. Peel and grate the cucumbers.
  2. Pour off and discard any excess juice.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the ghee and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, hing and curry leaves.
  4. Cook until the seeds pop ( just a minute or so) then add the cilantro. Right away shake the pan to mix and take the pan off the heat. Allow the mixture to cool.
  5. Stir the yogurt and grated cucumber together in a bowl.
  6. Add the cooled spice mix to the yogurt mixture, mix well and serve.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/pitta/cucumber-raita

©2017, Jamie Durner, Holistic Life-Wellness-Business Coach. ✪Helping Professional Women Finally Break Free Of The Overwhelmed-Frazzled-Burnt-Out Cycle With My Exclusive Work-Life Balance Programs✪

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Authentic Lebanese Tabouli

The hot temperatures lead to a naturally desire of cooler foods such as salads.  But rather than having just raw vegetable salads, I invite you to branch out into what I call “full meal” salads.  These salads have a combination of whole grains or proteins with cooked or raw vegetables giving them more of a nutritional punch and also balancing the load of raw foods.

In Ayurveda, raw foods are considered cold energetically which means they can be imbalancing in excess for the vata and kapha doshas, both of which are cold or cool by nature.  By contrast, pitta dosha is HOT and is balanced by cold. Yet, even a person with a high amount pitta in their constitution with a strong digestion can become imbalanced if eating too many raw or cold foods.  

Raw foods are also harder to digest so if you are going to eat more raw salads it is important to 1) make sure your digestive system is working well and 2) ideally eat those foods at mid-day when the digestive fire is naturally stronger. 

This recipe is made from the whole grain of wheat – bulgur.  While many people today are challenged by wheat products, my clients often find that when they eat the whole grain versus products made from flour, their bodies do better.  The lemon juice gently stimulates the digestive fires, helping your body process the heavier wheat effectively.

If your pitta dosha is running high, use scallions instead of onions or skip altogether.  Also skip the cayenne pepper.

Authentic Lebanese Tabouli

Ingredients

  • 3 bunches finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2-3 tablespoons fine bulgur
  • 1 chopped firm tomato
  • 1/2 onion or 2 scallions chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the chopped parsley and mint and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix bulgur, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions/scallions with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  3. Add to them the parsley and mint and olive oil and mix, adjusting seasoning by adding more oil and lemon if desired. 
  4. Serve cool or room temperature, garnished with romaine lettuce or on a bed of mesclun lettuces or arugula.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/soups-and-salads/authentic-lebanese-tabouli

©2017, Jamie Durner, Holistic Life-Wellness-Business Coach. ✪Helping Professional Women Finally Break Free Of The Overwhelmed-Frazzled-Burnt-Out Cycle With My Exclusive Work-Life Balance Programs✪

Posted in Be Well, Grains, Pitta, Recipes, Soups and Salads, Vata | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE Surprising Secret To Successful Life Shifts

To make way for the new in life, you often need to let go of old, no-longer-needed things.

This is true on the physical level – such as clearing out space in the closet for new outfits – as well as on the mental and pattern levels.

In between the outgoing and incoming there is a gap.  This gap can feel like a void, emptiness, or nothingness. You might also relate to it as a space of limbo or being in transition.

It is not familiar. And it is definitely not comfortable!

Being that it feels strange and uncomfortable, your tendency will be to want to excape from it. That’s natural. Part of our human survival mechanism is to avoid pain and discomfort.

But in order to make way for the new, there needs to be that space. If you fill it up with the old, familiar activities, you are essentially saying NO to the new you want to create or grow instead. To allow for your new YES, you have to say NO to something else. And in the process of change, the NO is usually an old habit or pattern.

What might this ”gap avoidance;” look like?

Perhaps you’ve been planning for and looking forward to retirement. Then you’re there and that much-desired free time feels stifling in its quantity. Not to mention you may be home all day with a spouse and find that’s too much together time! In the gap of not knowing what’s next, you may go back to what you know – a job. Maybe it’s not the same job, but you get a different job. Now that’s not necessarily bad. But if you wanted something different than a job, you’ve then blocked the opportunity to explore other activities.

Another example is in making a habit change. Let’s say you want to shed those extra 5-10 pounds that have built on the belly or hips in the last few years. And maybe you’re trying to accomplish this by shifting to a lighter dinner and stopping eating earlier in the evening. Sounds pretty easy. Except for that darn mental habit that has you used to eating certain types of food for dinner or enjoying that little treat while you’re relaxing in front of the TV. There’s this void in your activity and your first instinct is to fill it – fill it with what you know. And suddenly you find yourself reaching for your food favorites again and those pounds are not budging.

A last example comes from my current reality. Many of you know that I recently moved to a new state due to a job switch for my husband. In doing so, I used the opportunity to move forward with my long-term plan of transitioning my business practice to a fully virtual format. This meant when I moved that I no longer have my massage clients and was truly retiring from bodywork which my body was ready for – gap one. Many of my life and Ayurveda clients were also finishing up their foundational packages and feeling steady with their current tools (yea!) – gap number two. And I just finished my last business class in a series for a group of Ayurveda students – gap number three.

In theory, all of these changes are positives from my perspective. I have wanted a mini sabbatical for several years. One where I had more time to “catch up” on a variety of things and do more business development work that I also seem challenged to do with my full client load. I am moving in a new direction with my business and this is where I want to go. But I absolutely feel these gaps and I can honestly say that although this is what I want, it is uncomfortable. I don’t have trouble filling my time. Between settling into my new house and beginning my catch up and development, that part is very easy.

But I do notice that I feel out of sync without my normal work rhythm to anchor some of my daily flow. And it does feel strange to have less client time right now.

It would be very easy for me to go back to a comfortable known. In fact, I’ve already been solicited by two companies in the Kansas City area to do massage for them. I could slip right back into work I know well with an easy and immediate income source. But if I do that, I will be saying no to doing the new programming I want and to having the time to connect with other places and people in my new area to build professional relationships.

To say YES to how I want to now be in my business and life, I need to stay in this discomfort and avoid the urge to fall back to something that feels easier in the moment.

The good news is there are some tips you can use to stay in this gap and the discomfort that usually accompanies it.

Keep Your Long-Term Goals Present

Remember why you are making the change. Keep visualizing positive end result you’re moving towards. This can help anchor you in the transition gap.

Remember That The Discomfort Will Pass

As you shift into new habits and patterns, you will find a new place of comfort and familiarity. It simply takes a little time. Give yourself the gift of this time.

Use Healthy Substitutes As Necessary

With some changes, using a substitution makes the letting go easier. If you’re letting go of coffee, going cold turkey may not work. Maybe you do half decaf initially or switch to green tea or Yerba Mate (another plan stimulant) or an herbal coffee tasting substitute that doesn’t have the caffeine (Cafix or Teeccino).

Plan Ahead

If you are making lifestyle or diet shifts, making sure you have alternative options stocked in or new tools available goes a long way to implementing the new habit. Think of it similar to menu planning. You can’t cook a meal without the ingredients. What are the ingredients you need to make your lifestyle change? Order them ahead of the change so you will be ready to go. Likewise, if you are making a job shift where your income will be affected in the short-term, you will have less stress if you have financially prepared by having a cushion to cover the first couple months of transition.

Tap Into Your Support Network

Whether you’re connecting through the buddy system, finding an accountability partner, or hiring a professional coach or support person, having the human resources to keep you up and on track through your change process significantly boosts your success rate.

If you have strategies that work for you in supporting your gap transitions, I’d love to hear them! Share in the comment section and we can all be part of each other’s support network.



Jamie Durner, Holistic Wellness-Life-Business Coach
I specialize in helping individuals create and live a magnificently abundant life. As a holistic coach, I use my integrated background in life coaching, Ayurvedic medicine, yoga technologies, medicinal aromatherapy, and energy work to help you clear your blocks, shift unsupportive habits, and get you where you want to be.
I passionately believe that abundance and fulfillment are the natural results of living in connection to your unique authentic self. When you are this aligned space of being your best, you enjoy many benefits including vital wellbeing, healthy and harmonious relationships, greater satisfaction and balance in life and work, and the ability to go through life’s transitions with ease.

My areas of expertise include:

  • Health and wellness on all levels of body, mind, and spirit
  • Aging with ease – getting older doesn’t mean developing chronic health conditions
  • Developing your personalized healthy lifestyle
  • Work-Life transitions and balance
  • Developing and expanding a yoga and meditation practice
  • Business coaching for holistic practitioners
  • Holistic Corporate Wellness programs

Through individualized and group coaching programs, DIY wellness products, and corporate wellness in-services, Jamie’s mission is to help you be your best: health body, sharp mind, balanced energy, and fulfilled life.

Get ready to get MORE of what you want – it’s time!

Copyright © 2017 Abundant You Coaching, All rights reserved

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Cooling Cilantro Chutney Takes The Heat Off

Summer in Ayurveda is the Pitta season which is dominated by heat.  To balance this life-force in your body and mind, Ayurveda uses cooling foods. 

A great way to take the edge off the excess heat, in addition to Pitta balancing lifestyle practices, is through your diet.

Cilantro is a lovely herb that is specific for balancing high Pitta with its cooling nature.  It is good for skin allergies, hyperacidity, cleansing the blood and bile and even supports clearing heavy metals.

As a condiment, cilantro helps antidote hot and sour foods like curries, salsa, and yogurt.  

I have taken this recipe to many potlucks and served it with a variety of foods and people always love it.  I top all sorts of foods with it and even find it makes a tasty salad dressing.

Cilantro Chutney

Ingredients

  • 8 oz chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp sea salt or Soma salt (found at chandika.com)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 oz raisins
  • 1 tsp sweet garam masala (found at Indian groceries) or Mum's Masala (found at chandika.com)

Instructions

  1. Blend ingredients together.
  2. Optional: add a small handful of cashews before blending.
  3. Use it on top of salads, for extra flavoring with sauteed vegetables, mixed with grain salads, and as a vegetable dip.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/pitta/cilantro-chutney-2

©2017, Jamie Durner, Holistic Life-Wellness-Business Coach. ✪Helping Professional Women Finally Break Free Of The Overwhelmed-Frazzled-Burnt-Out Cycle With My Exclusive Work-Life Balance Programs✪

Posted in Be Well, Pitta, Recipes, Vata | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer Dietary Modifications To Keep Your Pitta Balanced

In Ayurveda, summer season is the west is considered to be the pitta season dominated by the quality of heat.

Likely you made natural adjustments to balancing this heat by wearing cooler clothes, drinking cooler beverages, spending time in cooling water.  ‘

You get the drift – COOLING is the key word!

In addition to adjusting your lifestyle to suit the season, making some simple shifts with your diet can also help keep the pitta dosha in balance.  This will be most important for people who either have more of the pitta dosha in their constitution or who have a pitta imbalance.  Talk to an Ayurveda Practitioner if you’re not sure where your dosha balance is at.

Pitta’s main quality is HOT.

It is also slightly oily, sharp and sour. Following Ayurveda’s balancing protocols, you would use substances with opposite qualities to help balance pitta during the summer.

In general, you want a diet that is cool, slightly dry, a little heavy and that favors the sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. Favor foods that are cool and liquid. Minimize foods that are hot including foods/tastes that create heat such as spicy, salty and sour tastes.

How one eats, is also important. Meals should not be eaten when angry, irritable or upset. Food should be taken with an attitude of emotional calm and thankfulness. Eating late at night should be avoided.

Because pitta is hot, this is the season when you might eat foods more room temperature or cool though having too much cold, especially if your digestive fire is not balanced, should still be in moderation. Foods are still best cooked versus raw with the exception of fruits. Some raw side salads, ideally at the main noon meal are also ok. Salads eaten at room temperature are good but aim for salads that have more than just raw vegetables. Cucumbers and cilantro are also naturally cooling and the recipes below will include some condiments and side salads with those ingredients. Some examples are below:

Specific Summer Food Guidelines

  • Dairy: favor sweet (milk, butter, ghee, fresh paneer and ice cream in moderation) over the sour products (yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, aged/salty cheeses)
  • Grains: favor whole wheat bulgur, white rice, barley and oats. Reduce corn, rye, millet and brown rice.
  • Fruits: favor sweet and ripe fruits and reduce sour and unripe fruits. Fruits, especially the sweet ripe ones bountiful in the summer, are perfect for this season as they are naturally cooling. Ayurveda views fruit as best eaten alone so they can be a lovely breakfast or snack.
  • Sweeteners: all unrefined sweeteners are good except honey and molasses which are slightly heating.
  • Oils: favor olive, sunflower and coconut oil in the summer. Ghee is also ok.
  • Vegetables: almost all are ok except hot peppers, garlic, raw onions, radishes (lightly steamed better), spinach, and excess carrots and beets; nightshades should be minimized or avoided depending on if you have a stronger pitta imbalance (peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant)
  • Spices: use less heating spices including coriander, mint, cardamom, fennel, cilantro, dill. Small amounts of clove, ginger, cumin, black pepper, fenugreek, celery seed/Ajwain, oregano, basil, nutmeg, cinnamon, soma salt and mustard seed are ok but avoid chili peppers and cayenne.
  • Meat and Fish: emphasize the lighter flesh foods including white meat chicken and turkey, white-flesh freshwater fish. Eat yolks are heating so keep eggs in moderation (best to eat them whole and not just the egg whites because the yolk contains lecithin which helps keep cholesterol liquid and flowing in the blood and ultimately reduces cholesterol).

©2017, Jamie Durner, Holistic Life-Wellness-Business Coach. ✪Helping Professional Women Finally Break Free Of The Overwhelmed-Frazzled-Burnt-Out Cycle With My Exclusive Work-Life Balance Programs✪

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Mint Lassi – An Ideal Summer Digestive Drink

In Ayurveda healing,  it is recommended that meals you minimize your liquids and ideally take them warm or of a heating substance.  This means ideally you have a warm drink with your meal but the quantity should be no more than one cup.

This is because after eating you want the stomach to be 1/3 full of solids (the food), 1/3 full of liquid and 1/3 empty.  This balance supports healthy digestion.  Too much liquid, especially cold, can put out the digestive fire.  Too much solid can make it so things don’t move as well in the digestive process and smother out the fire.

In addition to your one cup of warm beverage, it is also beneficial to have a lassi – diluted and spiced yogurt or buttermilk drink – to aid digestion.  The sour quality of the yogurt or buttermilk is heating and supports the digest fire.  The spices help the body process the heavy quality of the dairy.  Due to the heavier nature of the dairy, the lassis is most often used with the noon meal when the digestive fire is stronger.

There are many variations of lassis – geared toward each of the three doshas of vata, pitta and kapha.  This particular lassi is more geared towards pitta dosha because mint is cooling.

Mint Lassi – An Ideal Summer Digestive Drink

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c whole milk yogurt, ideally from raw milk or organic milk
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 tsp fresh mint, chopped
  • Pinch ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp raw sugar or scant (evaporated cane juice)

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients and serve.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/pitta/mint-lassi

©2017, Jamie Durner, Holistic Life-Wellness-Business Coach. ✪Helping Professional Women Finally Break Free Of The Overwhelmed-Frazzled-Burnt-Out Cycle With My Exclusive Work-Life Balance Programs✪

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Sweet Lassi – a tridoshic digestive aid for the summer

In Ayurveda healing,  it is recommended that meals you minimize your liquids and ideally take them warm or of a heating substance.  This means ideally you have a warm drink with your meal but the quantity should be no more than one cup.

This is because after eating you want the stomach to be 1/3 full of solids (the food), 1/3 full of liquid and 1/3 empty.  This balance supports healthy digestion.  Too much liquid, especially cold, can put out the digestive fire.  Too much solid can make it so things don’t move as well in the digestive process and smother out the fire.

In addition to your one cup of warm beverage, it is also beneficial to have a lassi – diluted and spiced yogurt or buttermilk drink – to aid digestion.  The sour quality of the yogurt or buttermilk is heating and supports the digest fire.  The spices help the body process the heavy quality of the dairy.  Due to the heavier nature of the dairy, the lassis is most often used with the noon meal when the digestive fire is stronger.

There are many variations of lassis – geared toward each of the three doshas of vata, pitta and kapha.

This particular lassi is tridoshic but especially balancing for the pitta dosha, which can be aggravated in the heat of the summer season.  

Sweet Lassi

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. filtered water
  • 2 Tbsp. plain whole milk yogurt
  • 2 tsp. sucanat or other sweetener (not white sugar)
  • 1 drop rosewater

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients for 1-2 minutes.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/pitta/sweet-lassi

©2017, Jamie Durner, Holistic Life-Wellness-Business Coach. ✪Helping Professional Women Finally Break Free Of The Overwhelmed-Frazzled-Burnt-Out Cycle With My Exclusive Work-Life Balance Programs✪

Posted in Be Well, Beverages, Kapha, Pitta, Recipes, Vata | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Sweet Lassi – a tridoshic digestive aid for the summer

6 Tips To Make Your Communication Harmoniously Effective

Communication is key in any healthy relationship and plays a large role in getting more of what you want in life.  Unfortunately, this is a vital skill that is often rough around the edges or in need of refining.

Too often I hear my clients say that their conversations – with spouses, children, family or co-workers – can trigger defense mechanisms and close doors rather than create understanding and positive discussion.

To support greater harmony and more effective dialogue, I invite you to integrate more of these fundamental talking tips into your life.

1. Speak in “I” statements rather then “you” statements.

By speaking in I statements you claim ownership for your own feelings and experiences.  Speaking in the “I” allows you to release yourself from telling others what they should do next, how to act or what to feel.

Especially when added with an open invitation for support rather than a demand, I believe this is the number one communication tool.

When the “you” is added to the equation, it turns the responsibility and energy outward.  This can often feel like an accusation or attack, whether intended or not.  Even if what you are saying is true, being on the other end of a “you” statement will usually trigger an instinctual defensive position that can lead to a verbal counter attack or emotional shut down rather than productive dialogue.

For example, if you are unhappy with the chore division in your household, a common occurrence in many households, look at the two statements below and think about how you would instinctively respond.

I Statement “I am feeling frustrated by the amount of time I’m spending doing chores around the house.  I’m wondering if we could brainstorm to explore solutions that feel comfortable and balanced for all of us.”

YOU Statement “You don’t help enough around the house and it’s making me feel overloaded.” 

While this latter statement could be 100% true, what is your body’s response if someone were to say it to you?  Often as soon as the “you don’t” starts, the body contracts inward which kicks off the stress response and can shut not only the conversation but a person down.

2. Before jumping to conclusions, neutrally ask for more information.

The react and jump to penalties was a response I found myself drawn into repeatedly with my kids during their teenage years.  Some of this was due to the brevity of teen texting.  Some of my own entrenched pattern of reaction when feeling like my boundaries weren’t being honored.

So when my son would text, “I’m going to be late for my curfew” instead of asking for more details, I would whip out the consequence.

After having to retract my own actions several times after finding out there were extenuating circumstances, I finally got with the program and learned to get more information BEFORE acting with a simple question…

“Tell me more” or “I’d love to hear more about what’s happening”.


This simple question not only gave me the additional details so I could make a thoughtful decision before reacting in haste, but it also gave me an emotional pause to take a breath inside of myself and corral my own instinctual responses.

Sounds logical and simple – and with practice it can help to break the cycles of habitual relationship conversation pitfalls.

3. Artfully use yes…and/but statements to help honor your boundaries while supporting another.

I had a client who was struggling to say no to requests by others – to coworkers, to her son, to her husband – even if they came at a time that was problematic for her.

Many requests come with a sense of time urgency from the other person.  While sometimes there truly is something that needs to be taken care of immediately – a broken water pipe perhaps – more often than not the urgency is self created by the other person’s desires.

While my client wanted to be caring and supportive to others, she was also growing into her own self respect and value and that meant honoring her boundaries.

Over the coaching session, my client discovered by using two words YES… BUT or AND together in her answer, she could honor both herself and the other person.

Spouse: Can you help me deal with _______________________?
Client: YES, I’d love to help BUT/AND I’m right in the middle of finishing my self care exercises.  I’d be happy to help anytime after the next 30 minutes.

Saying YES let’s the person asking know you are open to support and responsive to them.  The BUT/AND put in place the timing that will work for you to honor your needs.

4. Use questions in place of directing comments or old actions that lead to resentment.

Another common communication pattern I see involves feeling stuck in a situation where someone has done something (usually a chronic behavior that sets you off) that has you feeling that a) you either have fix it or b) you want to tell the person to fix it.

In this pattern, fixing it yourself often leads people to feeling resentful for having to “yet once again” take care of the situation.

The other choice is to have a conversation pointing out the problem and telling/directing the other person to fix or deal with it.  This falls into the category of “you” directive statements.

But there is a third choice which involves an I statement followed by a question inviting collaboration.

I had a client in just such a situation involving a household project of sanding.  The client was delighted that the project was underway.  And the husband left the bedroom doors open. Yup, sawdust all over both rooms.  Rutrow!

Her old pattern was to feel like she had to clean it up, creating more work for her and leaving her resentful.  In her communication explorations, she was considering having a conversation “addressing the problem” which involved asking him to clean it up.  But this seemed like a conversation minefield sure to set off a reaction from her husband.

Instead, my client put into affect option three by changing the statement into a question: “I noticed that during the sanding it looks like the doors unintentionally got left open leaving saw dust all over.  How do you want to handle this?”

She took it further and recognized that the tone she used in asking the question was also a factor.  She wanted to be neutral and inviting rather than bringing judgment into the tone.  Lastly she made one more small but significant word shift.  In the question, she changed it from “what do you want to do about it?” to “what should we do about it?”

5. Focus on the positive.

In the Fulfillment Model of coaching I practice, this is the foundation of much of my client interaction based on the idea that what you focus on expands.  By putting attention on the positive results or action, you encourage and expand more of that.  By focusing on the positive, you acknowledge what is already going right – which often gets overlooked by the small amount that isn’t working. 

By keeping a positive focus, you continue to move in the direction of success, abundance and where you want to be.

While most people see the benefit of this idea, when it comes to relationships I often get the “yeah but” to it.

“Yes, I can focus on the positive with my son but how does that help me when he’s still not doing his chores?  If I don’t point out what he’s missing or nag him, it just doesn’t happen.”

“I get what you’re saying but as a manager it’s my job to correct mistakes and give constructive feedback.”

The book “The Carrot Principle” talks more about the power of this approach but the reality is that by continuing to acknowledge the positive actions you want – whether in your kids or your employees – you are stressing the behavior and actions that you want while helping the person feel good about what they are doing.

On the flip side, just like above when I spoke about “you” statements, all forms of criticism whether constructive or nor, make a person contract and brace inside and truly don’t yield the positive results you’re looking for.

This approach takes patience, but try it with one person for a month and see what happens.

6. Listen more, talk less.

I recently heard a neighbor say to their daughter in a discussion, “God gave me two ears and one mouth so I could listen more and speak better.”  Not my neighbor’s original saying but so spot on.

To truly converse and engage in productive dialogue means to understand the other person and that requires listening.  Too often people are planning out their next response while another is talking.  Instead, practice letting go of your expectations, opinions, and agendas to HEAR the person speaking.

Be fully present and active in your listening.

Many times people come to a conversation not wanting answers but simply the space to be heard.  Allowing the other to share without interspersing your thoughts, opinions, and solutions can be a great gift of support and open the door to deeper sharing and engagement.



Jamie Durner, Holistic Wellness-Life-Business Coach
I specialize in helping individuals create and live a magnificently abundant life.  As a holistic coach, I use my integrated background in life coaching, Ayurvedic medicine, yoga technologies, medicinal aromatherapy, and energy work to help you clear your blocks, shift unsupportive habits, and get you where you want to be.
I passionately believe that abundance and fulfillment are the natural results of living in connection to your unique authentic self.  When you are this aligned space of being your best, you enjoy many benefits including vital wellbeing, healthy and harmonious relationships, greater satisfaction and balance in life and work, and the ability to go through life’s transitions with ease. 

My areas of expertise include:

  • Health and wellness on all levels of body, mind, and spirit
  • Aging with ease – getting older doesn’t mean developing chronic health conditions
  • Developing your personalized healthy lifestyle
  • Work-Life transitions and balance
  • Developing and expanding a yoga and meditation practice
  • Business coaching for holistic practitioners
  • Holistic Corporate Wellness programs

Through individualized and group coaching programs, DIY wellness products, and corporate wellness in-services, Jamie’s mission is to help you be your best: health body, sharp mind, balanced energy, and fulfilled life.  

Get ready to get MORE of what you want – it’s time!

Copyright © 2017 Abundant You Coaching, All rights reserved

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Transforming Your Mindset To Shift Habits

Many years ago I studied Katie Byron’s “The Work” with a friend.  It recently popped up in my life again in a marketing program and I was reminded how powerful her simple process can be in transforming the mindset and the behaviors attached with them.

Her process is based on asking yourself a series of questions to help you increase your clarity and open to new possibilities.  I’ve adapted her process slightly here to include some anchor points at the end to help you move into action.

Where are you stuck?  Describe in a simple and clear way what constrictive thought, mindset, belief or judgment about a situation is limiting or triggering you?  This is something you want or wish for but don’t have and that you are stuck, struggling with, or blaming someone (or yourself) for.

Is it true?
Can you absolutely know it’s true?

How do you react, behave, or treat others or yourself when you believe this is true? The key to question three is to look and simply report on all the ways you react when you have the mindset or believe that thought.  Write down any thoughts, feelings and actions that are reactions to that mindset or belief.  There is no analysis here, just reporting on what happens.

Who would you be, or how would things be without this thought? Here you want to write down how things would be different if it was impossible to be attached to that mindset or thought. If you sat down to write and you no longer had that mindset, or couldn’t even think that thought, who would you be? How would you feel? What might you think and what actions might you take?

What’s a new Turn Around Mindset or Belief Flip that would empower you to move forward in your Abundant You Alignment shifts? (make it a clear, concise statement)

You may want to start out with what is opposite to your mindset or belief.  They are alternate realities based around a completely new belief, not affirmations. The key is to imagine what things would be like without that mindset or belief.

Tips:

  • Often the best gateway to your mindsets is through your feelings. Sometimes it’s hard to identify a mindset but is easier to identify how you are feeling about something. For instance, if you are trying to do some self care and you feel resentful, frustrated, impatient or stressed you may conclude that, “This self care is a chore and not worth it.” Instead, try asking the question: “What would I have to believe to feel that way?” This question can help guide you to the underlying beliefs.
  • You may find several turnarounds. Sometimes one turnaround may be more powerful for you.  You may need to try a few out and see what clicks or gives you the best results.
  • The more you do this process, the easier it gets.  The process helps you cultivate healthy thoughts, let go of unproductive thoughts and moves you forward to living a more fulfilling and happy life.

What else would support this new mindset?
Being
Mental Anchors (thoughts, affirmations, mantras, power statements):

Feelings (how you want to be in your doing):

Doing
Starter Step Self Commitments:

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Millet Brown Rice Spring Pilaf

In Ayurveda, we preference whole foods over processed foods.  Learning to incorporate whole grains into the diet in an easy way can be a fun and tasty adventure!  This grain pilaf is good anytime for all the doshas but with the use of millet, a drier grain, it makes a particular good grain option for the kapha dosha and the spring kapha season.

Breaking down the kapha lower actions in the ingredients:

  • Millet is a dry and light grain that has a mild diuretic quality
  • Brown rice is slightly heating and more balancing for kapha than white rice
  • Sunflower seeds are lighter than the heavier nuts and in balanced amounts add a nice crunch and flavor that is okay for kapha.
  • Fresh parsley is a powerful diuretic that is also hot and dry in nature.  It is a great choice to pull of excess kapha water without creating an electrolyte imbalance.
    Rice Cooker Millet Brown Rice Pilaf

    Ingredients

    • 1/3 c. brown basmati rice
    • 1/3 c. millet
    • 2 c. filtered water
    • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or ghee
    • 1/4 tsp. soma salt
    • 1/2 tsp. dill
    • 1/4 tsp. dried basil
    • 1/8 tsp. oregano
    • 2 Tbsp. roasted sunflower seeds

    Instructions

    1. Rinse the grains.
    2. In your rice cooker, add the ghee or oil and press start.
    3. When the oil is melted/warm, add the spices and stir. *an Italian spice mix of your choice can be substituted for the individual spices.
    4. Add the grains and seeds and stir.
    5. Add the water.
    6. Press start.
    http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/millet-brown-rice-spring-pilaf
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Aduki Beans with Ginger

Aduki beans look similar to red kidney beans but are smaller.  They are balancing to the kapha and pitta doshas and help rebuild adrenal function and kidney energy.  While many beans, being drying, aggravate vata dosha, the aduki bean is somewhat easier for vata than many of the larger beans.

Like all larger beans, they should be soaked and cooked well with warm spices to promote digestion.

This recipes uses ginger, onions and garlic to add not only flavor but also to help in digesting the beans.  The onion and garlic can be reduced or omitted for those with higher pitta dosha.

Aduki Beans with Ginger

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. aduki beans
  • 3 c. water (or 1.5 in a pressure cooker)
  • 1 stick kombu seafood (helps decrease gas)
  • pinch hing (also known as asafetida)
  • 1/2-1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. Soma salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp. ghee or sunflower oil
  • 4 curry (neem) leaves, found at Indian grocery stores

Instructions

  1. Soak the beans overnight.
  2. After soaking, drain and put in a pressure cooker with fresh water, the kombu and hing.
  3. Cook on medium heat for 25 minutes or until quite soft. If cooking on a stovetop, cook for 60-90 minutes on medium heat or until quite soft.
  4. Heat the ghee or oil in a large heavy skillet.
  5. When the ghee is melted, add the garlic, onion and ginger and sauce for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked beans, curry leaves, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Serve over rice, another grain or cornbread. Adding a dark leafy green on the side is also balancing to pitta and kapha.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/proteins/ginger-aduki

©2017, Jamie Durner, Holistic Life-Wellness-Business Coach at Abundant You Coaching

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Enhance Your Love Life With Ayurveda

I know, kind of hokey, but I’m going to talk about relationships for Valentine’s Day.

I work with many clients using Ayurveda, the ancient holistic healing system, to better understand their unique selves and how to live in a manner that creates health and harmony based upon the unique person they are.

But did you know that understanding your partner through the lens of the doshas – or three life forces inherent in all of us in different ratios – can also enhance your love life and create better relationship harmony and happiness?

Ayurveda is a practical system – not only for your health, but also for the health of your relationships.

First Ayurveda helps you know yourself. This helps you see what your inherent tendencies are, what you need to know to stay happy and healthy, and how to live to bring out the positive aspects of who you are. Each of the constitutional types has positive characteristics as well as challenges that, if not managed, can create dis-ease – in your bodymind, in your life, in your relationships.

To have the healthiest relationship with another person, you want to start with yourself.

  • When you are living your truth and embracing and loving yourself, you are going to naturally attract people.
  • You will radiate a strength and self-confidence that is magnetic.
  • You will attract healthier people who value your sense of self.
  • If you are more balanced, you will also react less to another person and external triggers and instead with calm and clarity.
  • In understanding yourself and living your truth, you also become a role model of self-love and self-value and a source of inspiration for those in your life.

As such, practicing Ayurveda and being your best self is a great foundation for building good relationships with others.

Beyond supporting your partner through your very being, you can positively affect your relationship consciously through receiving their balancing energies and by supporting them through your doshic strengths. The real relationship treasure trove is being able to understand those around you, accept who they are, nurture their strengths, and recognize how their dosha strengths support you.

You have likely heard the saying in regards to relationships that opposites attract.

In Ayurveda, we consciously recognize that a spouse or partner of a different constitution can help create better balance.   Not only do you tend to balance each other out, but you also prevent your kids from being too extreme in any one dosha. For example, two people with high vata constitutions will produce a child who is doubly vata.

In Ayurveda, we use two simple principles:

  1. Like creates like – when you bring in qualities that are similar to a dosha, it is going to increase that dosha.
  2. Opposites lower or restore balance – if a dosha is aggravated by having too much of it, you introduce the opposite of that dosha’s qualities to help bring balance.

Let’s look at how the doshas can support each other in love relationships.

Kapha and vata doshas are almost completely opposite each other. Kapha is characterized by the qualities of heavy, moist, stable, and cool. In a relationship this often translates as solid, calm, stable, cool-headed, not as bothered by stress, supportive and consistent. They are strongly anchored around family and community and committed in relationship.

Vata, on the other hand, is made up of the qualities of light, dry, mobile or fluctuating. As people in a positive balance this shows up as enthusiastic with a high zest for life, creative, talkative and enjoys variety, change and new activity. These light vata qualities can help to lift up the heavy kapha who can get stuck in one’s ways. Kapha needs stimulation for balance, but tends to not seek it out on their own. A vata spouse can bring in more social activity as well as more energy and stimulation in general.

On the other side, the heavy and stable qualities of kapha hold and support the more flighty, erratic energy of a vata person. Vata moves very quickly – sometimes without enough thought or preparation. Kapha can help slow the overly zealous vata down slightly while vata will help speed up the overly pedantic and slow kapha. Vata creativity can help bring new input and perspective to the sometimes tunnel vision and status quo a kapha might have. Kapha can create a stable point for a vata that is spinning in too many directions without being able to land or commit.

The Pitta dosha tends to mediate between the other two doshas. Pitta is made up primarily of fire and heat whereas the other two doshas are cold or cool. Pitta benefits by marrying or partnering with either a vata or a kapha person.

The heat from pitta can manifest as a take charge, get it done type of person. Kapha, being slower and more of a support person, can benefit from the guidance and leadership of a pitta. Likewise, the unpredictability and challenge in making decisions of a vata person, can benefit from a pitta able to make the tough decisions and move into action. Of course, ideally the pitta person is balanced otherwise they can become overly dominant and dictatorial on a relationship – furthering the vata insecurity and creating a simmering resentment in a kapha.

Pitta’s heat also translates into passion and vision. The steady and strong endurance of a kapha is a great support to pitta’s passion. While vata’s creativity can fuel the pitta vision to even greater depths.

Pitta can have a sharp edge, especially when out of balance and when overheated. Vata and kapha can help cool and soften the edge of pitta. The kapha can help the very active and intense pitta slow down and “chill out” in relaxing more. Vata’s lightness and spontaneity can help the pitta to not take themselves too seriously and increase the fun factor.

There will often be points where the very factors that help balance you within your spouse can also irritate you. Some of this depends on the imbalance of the doshas in each person themselves. But some of it is that you are not recognizing the positive that their difference is providing you.

The key to using Ayurveda to enhance your love life with is to two-fold:

  1. Step back and focus on the positive that your partner is offering you instead of reacting to the differences. Basically recognize the differences and value them. Consciously use them and nurture them in the other person.
  2. Find the point of moderation in your differences. While vata needs the stability of kapha, too much of the same without any diversity or spontaneity will create restlessness and unhappiness. While kapha benefits from the pitta fire to get moving and into action, too much pushing will cause the kapha person to dig in their heels and become entrenched and stubborn, even when it is ultimately helping them. Pitta intensity can be lightened by vata but too much lightness can feel flighty and unfocused and will irritate pitta. As with all things in life, find the amount that is positive in encouraging your partner instead of the excess that smothers and takes over.

Like creates more of the same. So if you and your partner are similar or imbalanced in similar ways, you can inadvertently feed off of each other in negative ways.

You will want to identify where you clash in your similarities and focus on what actions are needed that bring in the opposite qualities to balance both of you.

For example, if two people with more pitta are together, being aware of the potential overload with intensity and passion is important to not burn each other out. Pitta is hot so you will need to bring in more cooling and softness. Both of you will need to be careful not to let workaholic patterns interfere with the family. You may need to find softer ways to communicate (pittas tend to be more argumentative and focused on being right), have cooling off periods, and keep the focus on listening to the other versus winning the fight.

Ideally you will know your own constitutional nature and being able to pick out the more dosha coming through from your spouse. If not, read some about the doshas or constitutions in a book on Ayurveda or consider gifting yourself a Valentine’s Gift of an Ayurveda Assessment for you to learn more about you and your partner.

©2017, Jamie Durner

Jamie Durner is a Certified Life Coach and Ayurveda Practitioner who supports individuals to “Be Your Best” through a healthy lifestyle and learning to live aligned with your core magnificent self. More information about her services and holistic life approach can be found at Abundant You Coaching.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ayurvedic Matar Paneer

Mater Paneer is a popular dish in Indian cuisine using paneer (fresh cheese) along with peas in a tomato based sauce and a garam masala spice mix.

As an Ayurveda Practitioner, I am always looking for ways to modify recipes to make them more balancing on the three life forces or doshas.  Paneer is a nice vegetarian source of protein and is relatively easy to digest.  Because it is a fresh cheese versus an aged cheese, it is less aggravating for pitta dosha.  Learn how to make paneer in this video.

Traditional recipes use garlic and onions, both of which Ayurveda considers to be rajasic, or stimulating, as well as heavy cream and tomatoes.  This recipe version replaces the garlic with fennel bulb and reduces the onion and uses one of my favorite spice mixes.  Mixing the vegetable broth with the cream, lightens up the dish so it is not as rich.  The use of fennel additionally helps to mediate the pitta-increasing affect of the tomatoes as well as aids in digestion overall.

Though traditionally this is only made with peas, I like to add zucchini to mine as well.

The Soma salt and Mum’s Masala can be found at the company Chandika.

Enjoy!

Ayurvedic Matar Paneer

Ingredients

  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes
  • ¼ c. cashew pieces
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 ½ tsp. soma or sea salt
  • 2 ½ c. or 8 oz. paneer
  • 1 c. veggies of your choice
  • ½ c. chopped fennel bulb
  • 3 ½ c. frozen peas
  • 1/3 c. ghee plus 2 Tbsp.
  • 2 tsp. turmeric
  • ½ pint half and half
  • 1 c. vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp. Mum’s Masala

Instructions

  1. Make the paneer and cut into cubes.
  2. Fry in a pan with 1 Tbsp. ghee or oil. Set aside.
  3. Sauté onions and fennel in 1 Tbsp. ghee until soft and tender.
  4. Cook the peas in a pot of boiling water until tender.
  5. Transfer onion and fennel to blender, add tomatoes and blend.
  6. Heat ghee in a pan and sauté any veggies you're using; add cashews.
  7. Add onion and tomato mixture and cook 5-6 minutes until thickens.
  8. Lower heat and add spices and green peas. Then add half and half and broth and mix well. Sprinkle fried paneer cubes on top and fold in lightly.
  9. Serve warm over rice.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/matar-paneer

 

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Making Paneer

Paneer is a soft cheese used in Ayurveda as an easy-to-digest protein.

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey…

Until I learned how to make paneer as part of my study of Ayurveda, I never really understood that rhyme.  Now you will be able to understand it as well as enjoy a new easy to make food!

For those who are vegetarian or wanting to use lighter forms of protein than meat, paneer can be a nice addition to your diet.  When compressed, it can have a texture similar to tofu and will often take on the flavors of the dish it is cooked with. Paneer is also one of the food options for the Be Your Best Cleanse.  And for those of you in my community, don’t forget the special cleanse offer through 1-31-17.

While you can buy paneer at most Indian grocery stores, it is very simple to make.  I call it one of my “cooking in the background” foods because I often make it while I’m doing other cooking.

You will simply be bringing some organic whole milk to a slow boil, adding an acid agent to curdle the milk, strain the whey, press, and voila – you have paneer!

To support you in seeing just how easy it is, watch this short video I put together.  No, the video isn’t going to win any cinematography awards!  But I find it useful to have a visual and I hope that it will help you get started as well.

There are lots of recipes you can find that use paneer.  Get started with this Ayurvedic version of Matar Paneer.

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7 Effective Strategies to Transform Your Bad Habits

January is the time for many to reflect on the past year and plan for what you want for the upcoming time. Whether for business or personal, use these seven strategies to get your best results.

ONE: Quit multi-tasking your habit change and do just one at a time.

You likely have a list of the things that aren’t working for you. And in the zeal of the New Year resolution energy, it is tempting to want to sweep them all magically away.

This “tackle it all at once” tendency is a result of our cultural focus on excessive expectations that you should be able to do it all.

The reality is that habit change is a process that, like it or not, takes a bit of time. Yogic science says it takes 40 days to change a habit and 90 days to create a new one. That means you can truly change and create a new habit just 4 times in a year.

You may be thinking, “Wow that sucks. I have so much more I want to change.” Or you may be celebrating the permission to take things off your to-do list.

Any way you slice it, if you want to make a lasting change effective, slow down and focus on just one habit at a time.

And if you’re an uber doing kind of a person and just one makes you feel like a light-weight? Don’t worry, as you’ll see below, even changing one habit has many steps to put your focus and energy on.

Keep in mind the goal is to make effective, lasting change. Trying to do too much at once is by its very nature destabilizing. In Ayurveda, excess movement increases the vata dosha – yep that one that creates those fun feelings of anxiety, fear, overwhelm, and panic. Certainly don’t want more of those qualities!

Vata governs all transitions and its nature is light. To let go, you need to shift the heavy entrenched pattern and that lightness is needed to move and shift. But too much lightness leaves you floating up in the air – totally ungrounded. Being ungrounded will kick in your primal need for stability and the reptilian sense of survival instincts along with those overlapping vata emotions of fear, anxiety, and stress

By sequencing your habit change and really giving your focused attention to one thing, you create enough lightness without tipping the stability boat over.

TWO: Keep it real.

You decide to tackle your eating habits to shift those extra 10 pounds that are hanging around your belly and hips in a not so flattering way.

But that tendency to go big or go home is still driving you.

Instead of thinking, “Hey, if I’m going to keep this up for 40 days I need to be reasonable,” you shoot for the whole kit and caboodle and say “I’m not going to have any treats or snacks – just 3 solid meals – and cut processed sugar completely from my diet.”

Sounds good in theory. Three healthy meals with the right balance of foods and tastes is ideal.

However, the ideal and reality are two very different things.

Suddenly your meeting has stretched over the lunch hour. Now you don’t have time to eat that lunch and your hunger levels are rising as fast as a tidal wave, threatening to wash over all your will power. Your mind thinks, “I’ll just have a healthy snack – a handful of almonds – to tide me over this next meeting until I can get to my lunch.” Not a bad strategy for the situation.

But then your absolute expectation pops its stern face back up. “Your commitment is no snacks!” And suddenly your real physical need is in conflict with your mental expectation and the tower starts to crumble. Since you’ve “given in” with the almonds, the old trigger of “if I can’t do it perfectly, I failed and might as well just have that brownie, too” kicks in. And the downward slide rapidly accelerates.

Save yourself the struggle.

Keep your expectations flexible enough to ride the waves of daily unpredictability.

THREE: Before you act, create structure and consistency.

You’ve got your goal for habit change set in your mind and you’re ready to rock and roll.

Wait – don’t start yet.

Before diving in with an actual action step, start by simply noticing.

Say you’re goal is use Facebook less to help your time management. Before starting to use it less, start by counting how many times you are doing it. Basically, pay attention to where your current pattern is. By bringing the habit from the subconscious to the conscious level you begin to shift things.

I also like to claim, without judgment, the emotion or feeling behind why I’m doing the habit. Ask yourself as you go to use Facebook, “What am I looking for? What emotion or need is driving it?” It could be you’re using it as a procrastination device. Or that you get a surge of excitement in seeing how people respond to you. Or maybe it fuels feeling connected.

Then keep doing the habit but try to make the times consistent each day. Creating structure not only continues the process of bringing a level of conscious to the habit, but also takes the power back into your hands.

This application of conscious self-control empowers you. And you begin to build success.

Behavioral economist Howard Rachlin found that just by decreasing the variability of the behavior, it actually began to shift the behavior without focusing on the behavior change itself.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, this makes sense. Variability increases the vata dosha which creates feelings of instability, making changes more difficult. Consistency and regularity are the most important ways to balance vata. Since many negative habits are connected to stress triggers, when you create more stability, you respond better to stress and need the pacifying tool less.

FOUR: Change your environment.

The field of behavioral economics highlights two channels of change – “changing minds” or working with consciousness and “changing context” by making changes in the physical environment.

For example, when there became a goal to recycle more plastic bags, grocery stores put out bins to make collecting them easier. To encourage recycling in communities, households were supplied recycling bins that were picked up with the trash. Reducing the need to separate items by types within the bins boosted the rate of recycling even higher.

Changing the environment to either make it easier or harder to take action can be applied to all types of behavioral shifts.

If you want to discourage a habit at home or work, you shift something in your environment that makes that habitual action a little harder. In doing so, you interrupt the pattern and set the stage to create a new behavior. Examples of this would be:

  • Moving your smart phone from the nightstand to another room so that you don’t wake up first thing in the morning and check emails, Facebook or online news and go straight into work mode.
  • Keeping certain foods out of the house so that if you want it, you have to go out to get it.
  • Even choosing to spend less time with certain friends or places that influence the behavior you’re trying to shift. If you want to quit smoking and you continue to hang out with friends in bars who smoke, the temptation to keep smoking is going to have a strong pull.

Author Shwan Achor has a “20 second rule” to create a slight delay that interrupts the automated pattern. Do anything that makes the unwanted habit 20 seconds harder to begin. His example is taking out the batteries of a remote control to decrease watching too much television. Sometimes you’ll do the extra work. Sometimes it allows you to make a different choice.

FIVE: Release the inner pressure.

While you might think that you need a drill sergeant to get you motivated or an intense taskmaster to whip you into shape, neuroscience shows the opposite.

Stress and pressure increase the bad habits.

Stress short circuits the prefrontal cortex which is where most thought and planning occurs and plays a major role as to which habits are switched on at any given moment.

There is enough stress in the outer world without you adding to it with internal pressure. Which is why it’s important to keep expectations real and not try to do too much at once which creates overwhelm.

Another way to keep your internal stress barometer down is to remember to be gentle and compassionate with yourself when you stumble.

With any process, there are blips and bumps along the way. It is normal that you will revert to your old habits from time to time, especially during times of high stress.

If you hit a blip in your change road, the key is to treat it like a mini speed bump, not a sinkhole.

Think, “It’s a temporary slow down, a minor course correction or adjustment. No big deal.”

Because if you fall into the “all or nothing” mindset sinkhole and start going all self critical, you will quickly find yourself on a binge of guilt and chastisement that not only fuels the worst excess of your old habit, but also puts the motivation brakes on your positive change.

Many experts will argue that learning and shifts only come through the “failures”.

Let yourself stumble and know that its part of the process. Anyone who says they made a change perfectly in one straight line is lying.

SIX: Think replace instead of eliminate.

The bodymind doesn’t like a void.

Trying to cold turkey stop a habit without having something in place to meet the legitimate need the habit was serving will take you right back to that habit.

This is because habits are connected to true needs. The way you’re trying to meet that need may not be helpful, but the need is real.

Habit success then comes down to getting clear on what the underlying need is and finding better substitutes.

Let’s go back to the first New Year goal of losing weight. It is obvious that eating refined sugar treats – donuts, cakes, cookies – may be contributing to excess weight. So you may make a logical conclusion that by reducing or getting rid of those sugar-carb bombs is great. And it’s true – if you can do it.

But because the sweet taste is linked to nourishment and love on an emotional and psychological layer, you are gaining something other than taste with those treats. If you take them away without something else that meets your emotional need, it is a set up for not being able to follow through.

A better solution is to reduce your processed sugar treats with a healthier treat.

In Ayurveda, the sweet taste actually makes up 80% of our food – grains, meats, vegetables, fruits, milk. The problem is that you’ve gotten addicted to added, excess sweeteners which have distorted feeling satisfied with the natural sweetness in foods.

Shifting straight from a donut to a piece of sweet fruit likely isn’t going to do the trick, at least all of the time. A better bet is switching from white and refined sweeteners to baked goods made with more natural sweeteners – dates, maple syrup, honey.

For even better results, combine this with strategy number three by having your treat at the same time every day. Or find additional ways to meet your emotional need for love than food.

SEVEN: Reframe your pattern mindset with two simple words.

This last one is going to sound ridiculously easy.

I just learned about this technique and am loving the simple but powerful way changing your mental plan around behavior in advance changes the actions.

According to the book “9 Things Successful People Do Differently”, two specific words – If and Then – help restructure not only the sentence but also your expectation and behavior.

You start by identifying the connection of why you always do certain things. For instance, “Whenever I watch TV, I always snack.”

Add the two magical If and Then words and change the part B part of that sentence to what you want to do instead that is healthier. “If I watch TV, then I will drink a cup of herbal tea,” becomes the new statement and plan.

According to the book “Well over a hundred studies, on everything from diet and exercise to negotiation and time management, have shown that deciding in advance when and where you will take specific actions to reach your goal (e.g., “If it is 4 p.m., then I will return any phone calls I should return today”) can double or triple your chances for success. The results were dramatic: weeks later, 91 percent of if-then planners were still exercising regularly, compared to only 39 percent of nonplanners!”

This process can be used to support any goal.   Try it and see how it works for you!

©2017, Jamie Durner.  Jamie Durner is a Certified Life Coach and Ayurveda Practitioner who supports individuals to “Be Your Best” through healthy lifestyle changes and learning to live aligned with your core magnificent self.

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7 Best Habits To Adopt For A Healthier 2017

change

Ayurveda, the ancient holistic healing system, is full of how-to’s for you to adjust your lifestyle to support a long and healthy life.

But because Ayurveda’s healthy habits are all-encompassing, they can feel overwhelming initially.

Don’t try to change your life 180 degrees all at once.

You might have read a book or article on Ayurveda and be thinking to yourself, “There is no way I can do all that!”

And that’s true – in the beginning.

Chaos, instability, rebellion, and defensive reactions are guaranteed if you try to do too much, too fast. Instead, start with a few foundational habit changes and build from there.

These foundational habits center around two main systems – the digestive system and the nervous system.

These core habits are often where I start all of my clients – no matter what their larger goals or imbalances – precisely because they are a so important for overall health.

The digestive system is seen in Ayurveda to be the most important system on the physical level. This is because your digestion processes your food to supply all the rest of your body – the tissues, organs, cells and subtle elements – the nutrition and intelligence to function at a healthy level. If you digestive system isn’t functioning well, the rest of you gets deprived.

The nervous system is directly impacted by stress of all kinds –physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. And stress plays a major role in every disease. Unfortunately, excessive stress seems to be the new normal in our modern society – so much so that you may not even recognize the impact it is having on health. Long-term stress can overwhelm the nervous system, deplete your inner vitality, and create early aging in the body and mind.

The nervous system also affects your very ability to make changes. If you are depleted and worn out, you will lack the will and stamina to get started or maintain new changes. Having a balanced nervous system supports your mind to take the first step.

In addition to the importance of health in these two separate systems, they are also interrelated through the gut-brain connection. In Ayurveda, the vata dosha governs the nervous system and vata’s seat is in the large intestine. The large intestine houses trillions of beneficial bacterial which makes up what modern science calls the microbiome. When stressed, the gut feels the threat and is responsible for sending message to the brain to alert the nervous system of the emergency. This triggers the fight-or-flight response in the sympathetic nervous system. While this is a healthy response on a short-term basis, in the long-term the stress chemicals released cause damage and depletion to the body.

Understanding the connection between your nervous system and the digestive system can help you apply more effective strategies to calming the body, boosting vitality in the immune system, and promoting better digestion to support your overall health.

Start Your New Year Off With These Digestive and Nervous System Shifts

#1. Change Your Eating Rhythm

When we lived agriculturally oriented lives, we followed a more natural rhythm both in terms of our wake and sleep schedules as well as in our eating patterns. This rhythm correlates to the circadian medicine that is emerging in today.  Ayurveda has been teaching for thousands of years the importance of the natural cycles. In terms of food,when your food is taken and in what amounts plays a key role in proper digestion and avoiding the build up of toxic undigested food.

Not only is the sun at its zenith mid-day, but your energy needs are always the strongest to support your daily activities. Therefore, making lunch your main meal will not only give you the energy you need to get the work done, but also curb cravings and energy slumps later. Combine this with a lighter cooked breakfast and a light cooked dinner and you will be in sync with a healthy strategy used for thousands of years.

This adjustment takes a little planning. You might start by still cooking your big meal at dinner but eating a smaller portion and taking the larger balance for lunch the next day. Using crockpots for overnight cooking can also be helpful. You can also prep on the weekend and evenings for a quick morning cook for your freshest food.

#2: Create A Relaxed Eating Space and Time

What you eat is important in terms of nutrition, no doubt. However, according to Ayurveda, how you eat is more important. Remember the gut-mind connection. If your nervous system is feeling stressed because you are eating in a rushed, distracted or irritated manner, your gut is going to be reacting with stress hormones. You can feel it through a clenching or tightening in the belly and even a decrease in the appetite.

On the other hand, if you eat in a relaxed manner, it supports the calming presence of the parasympathetic nervous system and allows for better digestion of your food. To further keep your mind and emotions out of the loop, it is best to eat without distractions such as TV, electronic devices, reading or driving. All of these can trigger the fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system and also tune you out from your food. Not being aware of your eating means you’re not getting the benefit of tasting and enjoying your meal. Suddenly you might find your plate empty but wanting more because you didn’t connect into the satisfaction. This leads to overeating.

Simple in theory, this is often a challenge due to your habitual patterns. Start by blocking out at least 15-20 minutes for your meal. If you’re used to doing something else, take at least the first five minutes to focus just on your food before allowing yourself to go back to the activity. Each week, increase the food focus time by two minutes until you can eat your meal focused 100%. Then enjoy those last 5-10 minutes after eating reading or scrolling through your texts.

#3. Start Meditating

There are numerous styles, apps, and ways to make this happen. I’m sure you’ve seen all the research on the positive effect of meditation. It is truly the number one tool revitalize, support, and strengthen the nervous system. It also helps you become less reactive which is helpful in shifting the habit loop triggers tied in to so many of your negative response tools like smoking, drinking, emotional eating or other self-destructive behaviors.

I find the best way to stick with meditation is to get involved in a tradition like Vipassana, Transcendental or Mindfulness. This is because there is ongoing support. I have personally done all three and favor Vipassana but it is a rigorous practice that may not be the right starting point for you. The apps help you keep up, but find a good teacher to get started. Then commit to a daily practice. Start with 10 minutes and build from there but keep it consistent.

Make the investment in time and money – it’s worth it!

#4. Consciously Breathe Slowly

The stress response in the nervous system is countered by the relaxation response which is connected to the parasympathetic nervous system. I often talk to my clients about “down shifting” their stress by simply taking five minutes to slow the breath down and breathing through the nose. Simply slowing the breath down to a rate of about 3.5 seconds per inhale and exhale will shift you into a space of relaxation.

Though there are many types of breath exercises or pranayama, it doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated to be effective. In fact, I find this basic breath pattern to be one of the most effective for calming the nervous system.

  • Sit in a comfortable position with the spine and head straight.
  • Close the eyes and begin to breath through the nostrils, counting to a rate of about 4 seconds for the inhale and exhale.
  • Try to make each part the same count but don’t strain. If you need to start with 3 seconds, honor that then build as the body is ready.
  • Follow the breath with your mind, with the inhale beginning in the belly and floating up to the chest. Then release the breath in reverse, feeling it moving from the upper chest, down through the ribs and out the belly (you can even pull in the belly slightly at the end of the exhale).
  • Continue this for at least five minutes every day.
  • Then when you are in a stressful situation, begin to take a couple of these deep breaths and it will remind your body to flow back into the space of relaxation.

#5. Shift Time From Electronics To More Time in Nature

In Ayurveda, there is a term called ojas which is directly connected to your immune system and vitality on both a physical and mental level. While there are also certain foods and herbs that promote ojas, getting yourself outside and spending time in nature is a fabulous way to increase ojas and counter some of the excess running around and busyness of life.

I mentioned earlier that vata governs the nervous system. Vata is negatively affected by too much physical and mental activity and this includes the fast moving electronic stimuli that accompanies so much of people’s work and recreation today. Electronics aren’t going to go away, but make a conscious choice to swap 30-60 minutes a day into being in nature with a walk in the woods, skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or whatever else excites you. Pair these with evening breaks with meditation and conscious breathing and you will be well on your way to a more peaceful mind and calm system.

#6. Give Yourself A Daily Massage

Giving yourself a daily massage with oil, usually before bathing but it can also be done afterwards, soothes not only the nervous system but also promotes the flow of lymph and supports the skin microbiome (microbes that live on your skin) through the herbs in the recommended oils. Through the nerve endings in the skin, the massage creates a positive sensory and emotional experience, transmitting messages of calm and love. This massage, called abhyanga in Sanskrit, literally translates as “loving hands”.

A good basic oil for most bodytypes is refined sesame or almond oil if the sesame feels too warming. Consult with your practitioner for what oil best serves your core nature as well as your current wellness needs.

See this article for further instructions on how do to a self massage.

#7. Adjust Your Sleep-Wake Cycles Earlier

Before the advent of electricity, sleeping and waking happened naturally around the light cycles of day and night. People woke early and retired early and this fits Ayurveda’s perspective as well. It is best to go to sleep during the kapha part of evening which is 6-10 pm. 10 pm is the critical number here. Once you cross over, you shift into the pitta time of the evening cycle which starts your inner fire up. If you are in bed, this fire supports the healthy processing of the day in the liver and emotional heart. If you are still up, you often get a second burst of energy. You may get great things done, but you do so at a cost to your own rejuvenation and can often have a harder time going to sleep or sleeping well.

Likewise, waking around the time the sun comes up (6-7 am depending on the time of year) is ideal. This is during the morning vata time when the light energies naturally help you rise easily. If you sleep later, you go into the kapha morning time which has a heavier energy that can leave you feeling comatose-like and sluggish.

Getting enough sleep is vital – at good 7-8 hour each night is important for cleansing and rejuvenation – but when you sleep is also key.

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching

 

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The Role of Selfless Service in Abundance, Happiness and Harmony

Seva is a Sanskrit word meaning selfless service.

The idea here being to perform a service without any expectation of result or award for performing it.   The idea of giving back, of volunteering, or serving with a free heart exists in many spiritual traditions and is often seen as a part of spiritual evolvement.

I recently went to participate for a couple days of service at my Vipassana meditation center in Illinois. The worldwide organization is run by “old student” volunteers who, after receiving the initial instruction, come back to serve in one form or another to support the center and the spiritual growth of others.

Being about two hours from the center, offering service is a little challenging. But I carved out time of my schedule because I had an impulse to give back. I have so appreciated the teachings I learned last year and want to be a part of making these teachings available to other.

It was simply about supporting the organization and stepping out of my life to give to others.

There was nothing awe inspiring about the mundane but necessary tasks of kitchen support work, laundry and organization I supported. And that was perfect because it wasn’t the actual tasks that was important.

And it was great. I had lovely conversations, participated in group sits (1 hour meditations) three times a day, and had evening entertainment watching uplifting videos such as Dhamma Brothers (a documentary of how the meditation instruction was taken into a maximum prison in the south in the early 2000 period).

If I lived closer, I would participate more often because it felt great!

While there, I met folks doing long-term service. A couple in their sixties who were finishing a year long period of acting as center caretakers. A man in his 20’s who was doing some online education while spending 6-12 months doing service at a couple centers. Another woman in her sixties who is the primary caretaker for her eighty-year old mother who was doing Seva at the center as part of her own refueling and respite care.

While everyone was no doubt there to serve and not expecting payment or accommodation, each one had a personal gain of some sort.

The Dalai Lama’s perspective on anxiety today is that is stems from being disconnected from purpose.

I was reflecting on service at this time of year when the giving seems mostly centered on material goods when I happened upon an article in which the Dalai Lama spoke about lack of purpose being the root of the rising anxiety in people today.  Despite the high level of material success and riches in developed countries have, many people report a sense of unhappiness, dis-satisfaction and anxiousness.

The Dalai Lama said this growing angst in modern society has to do with the disconnection we have with each other that runs counter to the natural human desire to serve our fellow beings. A study even found that Americans who give back and do good for others are twice as happy in their lives. Why? It is about feeling connected with others and being of value or needed.

The ancient philosophy of India talks about each person have a Dharma or life purpose.

The idea is that each of us is here on this earth to serve through our own inner gifts and purpose. And when we take actions aligned with this soul purpose, we not only stand in our space of our own natural abundance, we are best able to serve humanity.

I have had several clients recently that were searching for this inner sense of purpose, for activities and ways to feel more connected and of value to others. A couple clients are in their post retirement years where I think there is a natural inclination to ask “what now?” But I also have clients in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s asking this question of “how can I live in a way that has deeper meaning?”

I have seen that when I don’t or my clients don’t live in a way that lines up with this higher purpose, there is more restlessness and anxiety. These feelings sometimes then drive people to try to fill those emotions with actions like emotional eating, shopping, or superficial sexual relationships. All of which miss the deeper mark and often create guilt snowballing the “feeling bad” effect.

The Dalai Lama talked about solving these issues by recognizing that we all have something vital to share.

  1. Each day start by setting an intention to serve through your natural gifts.  How can you be of vital service?
  2. But secondly ask how you can receive the gifts that others have to share. Because while you’re out there sharing your best ideally, others are doing the same.  Look for the compassion and gifts others are offering you each day.

Wow, what a world we would have if our focus was on giving our best through our inner purpose and receiving the beautiful gifts others were showering me with!  It is this give and take of our inner purpose offerings that I think will build a stronger sense of connection, compassion and harmony that we need on a deep level in our world today.

How does Seva fit into all of this?

In addition to trying to taking actions that are harmony with your own soul purpose, giving back in general service to me adds another level of connecting, of setting aside superficial gains to go deeper and release attachment to the worldly goods that give us momentary spikes of happiness but no real contentment.

  • I invite you during this holiday season to see what other ways can you give besides the presents.  What gifts naturally spring out of you?
  • How might your serving remind you of the interconnection of all humanity despite the post-election turmoil and differences?
  • How can your actions support your natural inner purpose that allows your spirit to soar and uplift others?

P.S. If you read this and think, “I have no idea what my inner purpose is or how to support it,” consider joining the New Year Abundance Workshop. There are still spaces available. I will be guiding folks through some very cool activities to discover this exact information so that you can line up 2017 with abundant living.

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching

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Create Abundance – Contraction, Expansion or Inspiration

Create AbundanceWhat you take in from your outer world has a real effect in whether you create abundance.

You might divide your outer world impressions into three broad categories. I call them “Contraction, Expansion or Inspiration.”  The balance of the three forms of input directly influences the level of and how you create abundance in your life, relationships and work.

Contraction is any written or visual material or interaction with people that bring you down.

In terms of written material, the most common outlet is the news. With the election, I have read more of this than ever before. I only take my news through listening to NPR in the car and through articles pulled in on my Flipboard phone app. This means I control the amount and sometimes just flip headlines to stay abreast of the information without getting mired in the muck. However, even that has filled me mostly with frustration, anger and even hopelessness since my emotions get stirred up but I’m not sure how to best act on them.

Same thing with TV shows or movies. Do you fill up on shows that create a positive emotional impact or a negative one? And how do those emotions serve your life or well-being?

Sadly there might be some people in your life drain or deplete you or just leave you irritated. These could be family members. Several of my clients pre- and post-election were being affected by the polarizing energies within their families around politics.

All of these contraction examples don’t create a positive energy.

As such, the common sense thing to do would is to minimize such activities and interactions!

Expansion material and interaction are those that deepen your awareness and give you useful ideas.

In my eZine blog posts, I try to provide just this sort of thing! I also seek out expansion opportunities in my own life.  I listen to webinars and podcasts.  I read books and articles that tie into my personal and professional interests.  I surround myself with people who help me expand.

Just this week I listened to a great webinar on Traditional Ayurveda Formulas. I am part of a marketing club which gives me weekly articles and information to help my business. On my Flipboard app, I choose article categories around neuroscience and habit change – many of which I share with you all on my Ayurveda Wellness Facebook page.

This expansion category provides much of my tangible mental database and logistical tools to create abundance.

What do you have going in your outer input world that is feeding you in terms of expansion and helping you create your own magnificence abundance?

Inspiration is those things which uplift and inspire you.

This is what I call my “keep up” category. It is the books and activities that counter the frustration and doldrums of life. It brings excitement and enthusiasm to a stagnant project. It fills the spirit and makes the heart sing.

Many of your daily self care tools might be part of what you give yourself inspiration – meditation, yoga and breathing – on a quiet inner level. But I also encourage you to fill your outer world with books, articles, movies and activities that inspire you to soar.

Last night I went to a kirtan – yoga call and response chanting – with Ragani.  Fun, uplifting, and a great way to create a high vibration on a Friday night.

Each night before I go to bed, I read something inspirational to have in my mind as I drift off. Currently I’m suing a book of quotes by Cheryl Strayed called “Brave Enough” and “The Rainbow Comes and Goes,”a book I stumbled across by Anderson Cooper and his mother Gloria Vanderbilt. It is a book of their back and forth emails sharing about life on deep level after she turned 91.

Inspiration sparks my inner flame.  It is fuel I use to create abundance over and over again.

Ultimately your life and actions are formed from your thinking. If you are not enjoying as much fulfillment and radiance in your life, you need to shift how to create abundance off autopilot.  Perhaps it’s time to shape your impressions your receive in a more conscious way.

Sometimes you might fall in a hole like I did recently by gorging on five seasons of “Game of Thrones” – in which at the end I was left annoyed that the good ‘guys’ kept getting killed off or mistreated and the world was still messy and dominated by nasty people. Don’t beat yourself up. Nor stay caught in the swamp. Simply recognize that it was not the healthiest choice and move on.

Consciously be aware of the three categories of Contraction, Expansion and Inspiration to create abundance on a bigger level.  Make an effort to increase your focus on reading, watching and participating in interactions that Expand your mind and emotions and Inspire you to take actions around new possibilities.

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching

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HOLIDAY STRESS: Tools To Support Emotional Stability In Times Of Stress, Overwhelm And Anxiety

Diffuse holiday stress

Diffuse Holiday Stress

The holiday season can bring emotional turmoil.

Sure there can be the enjoyable moments of family fun, beautiful twinkly lights and decorations, and coming together to celebrate.

But the flipside can be the holiday stress of trying to get it all done. Holiday preparation and shopping adds to your overwhelm. Resentment of being stuck in the kitchen all day while others in the household sit on the couch watching football. And anxiety creeps in as you anticipate old patterns being triggered, yet again, as the family comes together.

Just this morning I got a call from a friend I’m visiting in North Carolina mid-month. She informed me that her husband’s extended family would be having their annual holiday gathering during my time there. “Would I be horrified to have to attend?” she asked. I, of course, don’t have any emotion around the event. But just by her question and phrasing I picked up that she had holiday stress!

A special brew of holiday stress this year. Particularly with the emotions still raging high with the election and the uncertainly of what it means for the future, my clients are coming in with higher stress, anxiety and deep grief about where our society is at. Add the holidays into the mix and the emotions are stewing in a pot of sticky goo.

You can change your response. You cannot often change the outer world. You cannot change the behavior of a family member. But you CAN change your response to the outer stress triggers.

Keep it simple with three tools to support holiday stress and emotional stability. There are endless possibilities of tools you could use to stabilize your calm center. But I don’t want to add to the overload! Certainly keep using what is tried and true for you. And if you’re looking for a couple new resources, check out these three.

  1. Use your breath to balance the bubbling over emotions. Pranayama, breath exercise, helps to move the flow of prana or life force. What doesn’t flow gets stuck, becomes stagnant and can lead to mental and physical stress.

You want to move that energy of the emotion through your body instead.

One of my favorite pranayama for this is “Perspective & Emotional Balance”. Excellent to do before bed to let go of the stress and worries of the day, allow new perspectives, and establish balance and calmness after periods of intense stress or shock.

To do, sit in a comfortable position with a tall, straight spine.

  • Close the eyes and gently press them up by focusing at the point just above and in between the eyes, or the Brow Point.
  • Use the right thumb and pinkie finger to close off the alternate nostrils.
  • First, close off the right nostril with the right thumb and inhale deeply through the left nostril.
  • When the breath if full (without straining), close off the left nostril with the pinkie finger and exhale smoothly through the right nostril.
  • Continue in this rhythm of inhaling through the left and exhaling out the right.
  • The breath should be smooth, continuous and complete without any pauses in between.

10 minutes is a great start. Practicing 15 minutes will turn the exercise into a deep meditation. 22 minutes creates an inner state that the mind can use as a resource to support you in daily life. And after a period of practice or if you are already experienced, doing 31 minutes will cleanse the body and restore the nervous system of the effects of shocks. For the deepest effects, work up to 31 minutes then hold daily for 40 days.

  1. Switch the tape. Yogic science offers all sorts of wisdom and tools on how to channel the racing, out of control mind. This is helpful if you are stuck in the emotions or if you can’t get your mind to take a break from its looping story.

My favorite way to flip negativity, especially if other people are involved, is with a meditation for loving kindness, called Metta Meditation. There are numerous variations of these meditations but all usually involve offering the energy first to yourself and then outward to either multiple groups or to the world at large.

Metta is great because it offers positive energy out to counter the fear and hate with love and compassion. Here are two variations to try.

  • May I be happy, May I be peaceful, May I be liberated. Repeat at least 3 times. May all beings be happy, May all beings be peaceful, May all beings be liberated. Repeat at least 3 times.
  • Offer the 4 lines first to yourself then to a teacher, a loved one, a neutral person, and an enemy (or someone you are having problems with or have negativity towards). May I/ you be filled with loving kindness, May I/ you be well, May I/you be peaceful and at ease, May I/you be happy.

 You could do this daily as you go to bed or as you start your day. Or anytime the negative loop kicks in, you can simply put this in place of the old narrative.

  1. Give yourself some extra TLC. But be mindful of the form of TLC you give yourself.

When you are feeling emotionally vulnerable or overloaded, your tendency will be to turn to old comfort tools. Unfortunately, those quick fix tools – emotional eating, having a cigarette, taking the edge off with that extra glass of wine – are not the ones that will give you true support.

Have your TLC really be nurturing.

  • Give yourself the gift of a massage or energy balancing session.
  • Take a lavender scented bath with candles. Locked door with notice given to your family to not be disturbed please!
  • Get together with a positive friend for a walk in the woods.
  • Watch a comedy or uplifting movie.
  • Go to your favorite teahouse and sit for an hour or two with a good book.

Be gentle with yourself. There is no perfection so let it go. If it doesn’t go as planned, when has judging yourself or beating yourself up ever made you feel better or changed the outcome? Don’t completely go off track with your positive self-care, but give yourself a little flexibility and leeway. Especially if traveling for the holidays, pick a couple routines to anchor you then let go of the others and create more time to just be – with yourself and those you there to enjoy.

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching

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Navigating Fall’s Seasonal Shift

I have been hearing from many of my clients the last month that certain symptoms are on the rise. Rising symptoms is an indication from the bodymind that your internal balance in shifting and needs correction.

Maple leaves in Autumn.In Ayurveda, this seasonal change in symptoms makes perfect sense. Because the outer world around you is changing, albeit a little slowly this year in Wisconsin, into the fall season, you are being affected by new qualities and forces which affect your inner world.

In fact, your internal biochemistry and state of balance is constantly being affected by different factors. Some of these factors are ones that you have control over such as the foods you eat, the type of exercise and activities you engage in, and other self-care tools you may be using to promote wellness. Other factors, such as the weather or season, still affect you even though you don’t consciously choose or control them.

While you may not be a weather wizard and able to control the outer atmosphere, there are still steps you can take to keep your bodymind in balance even as the world around you shifts.

Ayurveda views the season, as it does everything in life, through the lens of the three doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each of these doshas can be recognized by different qualities or characteristics, which become more prominent when increased within the bodymind.

  • The main qualities of Vata are cold, dry, light, mobile/variable and clear
  • The main qualities of Pitta are hot, slightly oily/moist, light and sharp/sour
  • The main qualities of Kapha are heavy, oily/moist, cool, cloudy, dull and slow

 

You can use the qualities to see which dosha or doshas are dominant in any season.

Based on the qualities that you are noticing in the outer world, which dosha(s) do you think are governing your early fall season?

 

 

In the area I live in Wisconsin, we’ve had an unseasonably warm fall so far with more than the normal amount of rain. It’s becoming cooler but excessively cold. The humidity levels are still moderate to higher, but there is a noticeable shift in the air becoming lighter and drier. We’ve had a mix of sun, gray clouds, and morning fogs. And there is constant fluctuation in the temperatures – both from day to day as well as a bigger range between daytime hours and the overnight lows.

From the above description, you might pick out the words cool, moist, a mix of heavy and cloudy alternating with brisk, clear days, and a dominant feature of fluctuation. Put that together and my fall season is a combination of Kapha and Vata so far.

Back to the emerging symptoms I’m hearing from my clients now. I’m getting reports of everything from insomnia, anxiety, overwhelm, and mild constipation and gas along with days of feeling more tired, a little down/sad, lethargic and unmotivated.

kaphaicon3The latter symptoms mostly seem to occur on those wet, gray, cloudy days – what Ayurveda would call Kapha days. And the symptoms stem from a spike in Kapha creating more heavy, dull and slow in the bodymind. On days like this, you want to counter the Kapha by bringing in the opposite of those natural qualities.

  • Counter the heaviness in the body by eating lighter, easy-to-digest, warm foods like soups, drier basmati rice and vegetables, or fish and chicken over the heavier red meats.
  • Minimize heavy wheat products, especially those made with white sugar, as well as dairy products.
  • Though your tendency is to want to snuggle up under a blanket or snooze in front of a fire, these days it is actually best to take a faster, invigorating walk in the woods and move the body to counter the slow and heavy qualities.
  • Instead of lounging in front of the television, counter dullness by creating stimulation – get out with friends, got to a museum, or do another activity that actively engages the body and mind.

vataicon3On the other hand, if you’re being more affected by the constant fluctuation right now, your Vata is being affected by an increase of the light and mobile quality. All this transition and change is creating a sense of being ungrounded and instability within you – creating the symptoms of insomnia, anxiety and overload. The answer to this Vata fluctuation and transition is to focus on behaviors and tools that support your feeling stable, especially within the nervous system.

  • Try to have a more consistent schedule, especially around your bed/wake times and meal times.
  • A slow and nourishing self message with warming sesame oil is one of the most soothing tools for the nervous system. It is especially nice with a lavender scented bath afterwards!
  • Taking just 5-10 minutes each day to breathe in a slower, deeper rhythm of 3.5-4 second inhales and exhales relaxes your stress response.
  • Slow down by taking a little more time to rest and enjoy quieter activities while reducing the busy, running around where you can.

As we move into later fall and early winter and the true cold sets in along with the drier air, you will likely also begin to see a rise in cold and dry within your system. The cold will bring the obvious cold hands and feet and feeling cooler in general. But cold also causes contraction and some people’s pain conditions worsen. The dryness may show up in your skin or membranes, such as drier eyes or a dry, congested nose. But dryness can also create brittleness in emotions and energy. You might find yourself feeling a little more sensitive to people and the environment or feel drained from being dried out from your activities. If these symptoms start to arise, you want to focus on countering the qualities of cold and dry along with the previous remedies for light and variable.

  • Stay warm by making sure you dress appropriately, especially protecting the head, neck and hands.
  • Drink warmer beverages and minimize cold/iced drinks and foods. Staying properly hydrated is also important.
  • Eat warmer foods like cooked cereals for breakfast and soup, stews and gooey comfort casseroles.
  • Oil up – not only by externally applying pure oil to the body through self massage but also by making sure you take in enough good quality fats.
  • Enjoy warm showers and steam baths for moderate periods of time. But be careful of too much dry heat like saunas and staying hot for too long as it will eventually lead to more dryness.
  • Look at how activities, when done to excess or imbalance, may be “drying” out your inner life sap and modify where you can.

Not sure how the seasons are affecting you or you need more specific guidance? Schedule your complimentary 15 Minute Information Session to learn more about how Ayurveda Wellness Coaching might support you.

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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Creamy Squash, Cauliflower and Carrot Soup

This creamy soup is perfect for fall, using a nice combination of grounding root vegetables.    The heavier root vegetables, moist soup and sweet taste are balancing to both the vata and pitta doshas.  And although root vegetables, being heavy and of the earth, can be mildly aggravating to kapha, with a little extra warming spices like ginger or curry, it becomes a neutral for kapha as well making it good for all the doshas.

Creamy Squash, Cauliflower and Carrot Soup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 butternut squash
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. ghee
  • 1 small leek, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 c. vegetable stock
  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 1 tsp. soma salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dill
  • Sour cream, optional

Instructions

  1. Cut squash in half, scoop out & discard seeds. Cut into medium large cubes.
  2. Heat oil and butter together in soup pot over med heat.
  3. Add onion and sauté until soft
  4. Add carrots, squash and cauliflower and cook 3-5 minutes
  5. Pour stock over vegetables, add bay leaf and spices and bring to a boil
  6. Cover and simmer 15 minutes until vegetables are cooked through and soft
  7. Remove bay leaf and blend soup in small batches until smooth.
  8. Serve hot, garnished with sour cream if desired.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/soups-and-salads/creamy-squash-cauliflower-carrot-soup

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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Navigate Procrastination Through Your Ayurvedic Inner Nature

pro·cras·ti·na·tion to defer action, delay; to be slow or late about doing something that should be done : to delay doing something until a later time because you do not want to do it.

Procrastination is a topic that many of my clients bring up. And procrastination can mean different things to different people and often requires a different approach depending on where the procrastination stems from.

Ayurveda views life through the lens of the three doshas, or life energies, of vata, pitta and kapha. These doshas make up your core constitution which can help you see better the nature of your own behaviors and tendencies as well as offer a more effective solutions.

To know how to best navigate your procrastination tendencies, it is important to see which doshas may be playing a role in your behaviors.

Kapha Procrastination

When one things of the typical definition of procrastination as it relates to putting things off, feeling a lack of motivation, or being stuck in lethargy, kapha immediately comes to mind. These behaviors can be linked to the kapha qualities of heavy (lethargy and lack of motivation), stable (overly stuck in this case), and slow (in terms of response and action times).

Kapha heaviness can also lead to a space of complacency and “chill attitude” that translates as not feeling any inner pressure or sense of urgency to get something done – much to the possible frustration of their spouse, friend or boss!

Tools to Balance Kapha Procrastination

  1. Get into action. To counter the heaviness, stimulation and movement is great. In terms of projects, the goal is to seize the energy when it comes up. If you have an idea, follow it immediately in the moment and just do it. Act quickly before the kapha mind starts to talk you out of it. A great nudge can be to invite kaphas to use the two minute rule – if something takes less than 2 minutes, do it now.
  2. Let the sun wake and move you. Kapha folks do not describe themselves as morning people. They are often slow to wake and like to sleep. However, these tendencies, especially sleeping past 7 in the morning, will add to the lethargy load. Have you ever noticed that the less you do, the less you want to do? This is because kapha sluggishness creates more of the same. To counter this, it is ideal to get up with the rising sun and actually walk outside. Exercise helps moves the blockages in emotions, hormones and energy. It improves processing power and elevates the mood and thoughts. If you can get under the morning sun, it can also help fire you up. While this is a great habit for everyone, people with kapha natures will benefit greatly.
  3. Mix things up. Kapha nature is steady with strong endurance. This can be great once you get into a project to provide the ability to continue to plow through and stick with it. If that’s working, keep going. However, sometimes kapha can become too stuck in routine and that alone can create procrastination in other areas – especially those that are new, unknown, and uncomfortable. The kapha urge here will be to avoid the change and stick to what is known even if it is harder. Trying something new, switch up your routine, and change tasks. Start with simple shifts, as this process will push you slightly out of your comfort zone in the short term. But long term, this is exactly what the kapha needs for balance. Typically an outer force – a person, deadline, or external pressure – is what will push the kapha into this needed space. If you’re ready to tackle the issue, find the right motivational partner to provide the push.
  4. Lighten up your lunch. Because kapha tends to have a slower digestion, be careful not to eat too large or heavy of a lunch. If you take in more food that your body can process, you will feel sleepy and sluggish after eating. Don’t skip lunch but be careful not to have too many heavy foods such as meat, dairy, processed wheat products and sugar. Enjoy a cooked meal with whole grains, vegetables, spices with a small to moderate amount of lighter protein (fish, chicken, legumes).
  5. Find your hook. Kapha can be very laid back, sometimes to a point of inaction. Look inside yourself to see what really matters to you. Find the deep level hook to pull the motivation out of you. You might discover in the process that your procrastination about a project is because it isn’t yours – maybe someone else wants you to do it, or it is a should you’ve taken on. But if it isn’t something you really want, you may be avoiding it because it isn’t right for you. If that’s the case, find the space that is right for you to take action with.

Vata Procrastination

Vata is the opposite of kapha in most ways.  Its qualities are light, mobile, and quick – the opposite of the heavy, stable, slow of kapha.  As such, vata procrastination is not the heavy type of vata but rather their hesitancy stems from worry, anxiety, and overload.   Being ungrounded increases vata lightness and this often come from lack of structure, stress and excess movement from trying to do too much with lots of running around. Procrastination for the vata is often a result of feeling overwhelmed by the barrage of expectations or tasks. This leads to the struggle of bringing the chaos into a cohesive plan and find the first step forward – a process that is difficult for the ungrounded vata who spins in stories, worry and distractions.

The vata nature is also one is shorter attention span with a tendency to be pulled off task by other projects, people, or the next shiny object.  Not getting things done in a timely manner is often due to the challenge of vatas to be organized and stay on track.

Tools to Balance Vata Procrastination

  1. Rest more. This means not only getting a nice 7-8 hours of sleep at night, but also building in a couple short periods of mini rejuvenation during the day. Taking the time to fill your energy cup back up will give the vata dosha grounded stability and energy to move forward.
  2. Do tasks and projects in small doses. Knowing vata likes diversity and change, take advantage of this tendency by breaking things up. I have found reward systems to be nice structures for vata people. Set a time of 10-30 minutes for tasks that feel more cumbersome or hard to start. After doing that, give yourself the reward of a fun task or break.
  3. Create a soothing atmosphere. Though vata people will gravitate to public places with lots of sensory and social stimulation, they will actually serve themselves best by creating an atmosphere that is more soothing or quiet. Have music that has a slower beat to calm the nervous system. Add in pieces of beauty like an inspiring picture or fresh flowers. Make sure the space is on the warmer side as vata tends to be cold.
  4. Get the jitters out of the way. One of the main qualities of vata is movement. While this is the natural tendency of vata and needs to be acknowledged, too much can lead to issues like overwhelm, fatigue, and distraction. Before settling in to focused tasks, it can be helpful to get the jittery bugs out of the way by doing some gentle exercise or even having a bit of dedicated “putsying time” when you allow yourself to flit a bit between tasks. The key here is to keep it contained by doing 30-60 minutes but not going overboard or getting stuck in the movement mode.
  5. Find a partner or professional to hold the structure. Vata qualities tends toward great creativity, ideas, and innovation.  Tangible actions, plans and structured progress are not their talent.  Recognizing what you are capable of or not can be the first step to finding the outside structure you need.  Working in a group can help hold more structure.  Or hiring a person like an organizer, trainer or coach may be more effective.

Pitta Procrastination

Pitta and procrastination is not something that typically goes together.  The pitta dosha is primarily made up of fire which often translates to strong drive, strong activity and uber-motivation. Pitta energy tends to be focused, sharp, competitive and capable. Pitta people are usually the ones who not only get projects done on time, they usually get them done ahead of time while juggling multiple additional projects!

However, even with the typical pitta work energy, I have seen two types of delay and pitta type procrastination.

The first stems from burnout. Pitta people are used to being able to accomplish a huge amount of tasks and doing less can feel like a weakness. This is distorted pitta energy which often led to the burn out to begin with. Instead of realizing their limit and fatigue, the pitta person may judge their slowing down as a form of procrastination.

Pitta people can also have an expectation of themselves to be perfect. If there is a sense that something can’t be done completely well or right within the time or structure available, a pitta person may put it off. The perfectionism may be sabotaging the start or completion.

Tools to Balance Pitta Procrastination

  1. Soften. Soften the sharp edges of the critical mind, the perfectionism and excessive expectations. Be gentle with yourself rather than judgmental. In doing so, you can uncover the deeper issue to address and find a way through the perceived procrastination.
  2. Slow down. This is not something a pitta will “choose” to do willingly unless things get forced to a point of illness. But doing so proactively will actually create greater efficiency and efficacy by decreasing burnout and its effects. When this can be phrased as a way to be more effective in their actions with a hint of challenge, the pitta may be inspired to do it.
  3. Use a success chart. People with the pitta nature are organized and love accomplishment. Using some sort of a tracking system with a chart or app takes advantage of this natural tendency. The key here is to use the tool without it becoming hyper-competitive or tapping into an imbalanced perfectionism pattern. Keep it fun, light and playful.

In addition to these dosha elements, there is another piece that can affect anyone and everyone – too much to do with too little time creating overwhelm. Our cultural and work-place expectations have created a reality where most people simply have too much on their to-do lists. The truth is that there isn’t enough time to necessarily do everything you want or need and still keep a healthy work-life balance. But the pressure and expectations are there so you might push yourself by trying to keep up on the hamster wheel running yourself ragged, leading to an increase in stress and fatigue.

In this case, I often see that a perceived procrastination may actually be your inner wisdom asking you to slow down and REST and find a new balancing act. Procrastination is often judged as something negative but I would also argue that it can be a cue from your system to look at what is not quite in balance that needs adjusting.

As you can see, there are different roots of delayed behavior. Understanding what energies and needs are behind the delay can help you better find a workable solution.

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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Turkish Lentil Bulgur Soup

turkish-bulgur-lentil-soupWhen the fall season comes, your body’s natural intelligence will likely start to cue you towards warmer meals.  This lentil soup makes an excellent option to answer that need.

This fall recipe provides a springboard to customize it by varying your greens or lentil choices.  I have also used a leek instead of the traditional onion to decrease the rajasic nature but still add nice flavor.

I used a Turkish spice mix from Penzy’s but listed the individual ingredients in case you need to create from your own spice stock.

This recipe – being warm, fairly light, and with warming spices – is balancing to both vata and kapha but can also be enjoyed by pitta in moderation by decreasing the cayenne and garlic spices.  For those with more vata gas or trouble digesting legumes, pre-soak the lentils overnight and add a pinch of hing or asoefodida (found in Indian groceries) to the soup.

Enjoy!

Turkish Lentil Bulgur Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. ghee, olive oil or combination
  • 1 leek, washed, quartered and sliced
  • 1 carrot, thick diced
  • 1 zucchini, thick diced
  • 4 leaves Swiss Chard, trimmed, washed and cut into small ribbons
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ tsp. chili paste
  • 1 ½ tsp. dried mint
  • 1-2 tsp. Turkish seasoning (salt, garlic, cumin, black pepper, oregano, sweet paprika, sumac, cayenne, cilantro)
  • ½ c. lentils (green, brown or red)
  • ½ c. bulgur
  • 6-7 c. water
  • Lemon, fresh mint or cilantro for garnish
  • Sour cream (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prep vegetables. Put oil in a medium large stock pan. When warm, add leek and carrot and cook for 2 minutes on medium heat.
  2. Add zucchini, tomato paste, chili paste and all spices and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add lentils and bulgur and stir to mix. Add water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to medium-low, cover and cook for twenty minutes until the lentils and bulgur are soft.
  4. Add the Swiss Chard and cook for another 2-3 minutes until done.
  5. Serve warm with a squeeze of lemon wedge, a sprig of fresh mint or cilantro and an optional dollop of sour cream.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/soups-and-salads/turkish-lentil-bulgur-soup

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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One Word To Live By

A couple weeks ago I was with a group of senior boy moms – all part of my son’s friend group.  We were hanging out after the high school’s senior year presentation.  One of the mom’s mentioned a book she had read several years earlier that explored the idea of using a word to anchor a year.

As a person who loves intentional processes and the use of words, I was intrigued.

I already play with words in the form of mantras, affirmations, power words.  I love the space they hold for my mind and spirit.  They help me stay focused on what’s important while grounding down my wild wandering thoughts.

So this idea of one word to meditate upon, to explore the hidden layers, and use for a year sounded delicious!

Being impatient, I dove right in even before I was able to locate the actual book.  And the word didn’t take searching – it had already been right there hovering around me.

FLEXIBILITY

Flexibility is the word that has already been at play in my life over the past several months as my life has been in huge change…

  • My husband took a new job in a different city
  • I spend several months, primarily on my own, sorting and prepping my house for sale then living through the sale process
  • I moved into a condo three weeks ago with my son in a neighboring town to finish out the high school year
  • I am traveling to Kansas City periodically to see my husband and he is coming here – ah, the joys of adapting to a dual household
  • My two office mates have shifted out this year, opening the space to more change

Bringing a gentle and open quality to this process of change felt like the obvious, bang-me-over-the-head definition that word is providing.  Being flexible to handle all these changes that I have only partial control over.

But each day as I meditate upon and go throughout my day with a view towards my work,  I am discovering layers of what this word is to me.  And according to the author, this is part of the process – to delve through the different facets of what this word means for one. So far just in the last couple weeks I’ve already gleaned new awareness relating to…

Flexibility in body – which has been lacking with the stress as my schedule got thrown a bit off.

Flexibility in how I respond to all the wacky drivers on the road which seem far more prominent lately, possibly because of all the construction everywhere.

Flexibility with different work things.  For instance, you may have noticed that my monthly posts are a wee bit behind their normal schedule.  I was waiting, as I worked with my web technician to finalize a new e-learning layout of some programs.  I had everything done on my end, but couldn’t get the shopping cart to play nicely with the plug in on the website.  And though initially he thought it would be a quick and easy fix, my web technician continues to be challenged by some issues.  Thus the online cleanse scheduled to start 9/1 is there, but not fully accessible.  Flexibility here is with timing and letting go of expectations!

one-perfect-wordIf you are intrigued by the idea of using a word to explore your life for a year, check out Debbie Macomber’s book “One Perfect Word.

Know that it does come from a strong Christian perspective.  But even if you are not Christian or particularly spiritual, I find there to be great ideas and inspiring stories throughout the short 194 pages.

Know too, that you can use a word more than just for yourself.  Other options include using a word…

  • as a family
  • in groups
  • as a way to hold your child
  • you can use the time for shorter time periods, especially around certain circumstances like a move, a summer period when kids are all over the place, or in any time of transition
  • or in any other creative way you might think of

I have chosen the word CHAMPIONING to support my son in his high school senior year. This word also came naturally and quickly, for my goal is to champion him to take on the new level of responsibility and maturity he is emerging into as an eighteen year old headed off to college soon.  This is the word I’ll be sharing with the other senior moms when we reconvene around homecoming.  Although we’re each choosing our own word, in sharing with the group we can support each other’s intentions.

If inspired, share your word in the comments section!

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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How Out of The Box Thinking Contributes to Success

Over the last couple months, I had a couple big opportunities to live a key concept of success.

These opportunities came when, despite my best laid plans and diligent work, life threw me curveballs.  Instances where things have not gone as expected.

And this happens – quite regularly as a matter of fact!

The interesting thing is that in each of these instances, I was able to find not only find a solution, but actually something even better than what I’d initially set out to create, because I was able to step outside the box of a rigid answer or perspective.

The first occasion had to do with a scheduled trip to NC in June. Weather raised its stormy head and I found myself grounded in Atlanta at close to midnight after several hours of waiting for our plane to arrive.

The options were looking bleak.

I could take a rebooked flight but it wouldn’t leave until 3:50 pm the next day. In the meantime, the airline wasn’t offering any compensation nor hotel vouchers. And the thought of finding a hotel at midnight was daunting. Plus I would then likely have to leave said hotel by 11 am and be stuck in the airport most of the afternoon. Ugh.

I had my new boarding pass and was pondering this ugliness when I heard several people talking about the possibility of renting a car instead and driving the 6 hours from Atlanta to Raleigh.

Hmm. A new concept. Bing went a light in my head.

The thought of driving alone at night being already exhausted didn’t seem smart so I turned to a nice looking women next to me and asked if she wanted to rent a car together. We ended up being part of a 5-person group – one of whom had miraculous access to a corporate car rental.

Though I didn’t get much sleep, I ended up getting a free ride, not having to waste a day of my trip, and even got my whole one way ticket refunded. BIG SUCCESS because I explored a thought outside of my standard “flight cancelled, get the flight rebooked” narrative

blue success.My second experience showed up around my search for a rental over the next year. I am selling my house but needed a place to stay with my son through the end of next June – not a full year.

Initially when calling places, I was asking if they had less than one year terms. While I found many, I was not excited about the size or price for the size of what I was finding.

Then one of the places said that while they didn’t have less than 1 year leases, they did have a liberal break lease policy.

Hmm. A new concept. Bing went a light in my head.

And so I went back to one of my top original choices – a space twice as large as most for the same price with private entrance and garage – and ask the different question of what would happen if I couldn’t stay in my lease the whole time?

Bingo! Not only was there no fee for breaking the lease, they were so popular that they rarely had trouble renting so even though I am liable until it is re-rented, it seemed like a good risk. Now I not only have a large space for a great price, the size and layout means I don’t have to get a separate storage unit. SUCCESS because I changed the question I was asking.

blue success

My recent experiences highlighted a couple important life reminders for me:

  • Changing the question or shifting the expectation can open up opportunities and answers in really cool ways.
  • Being flexible when life throws curve balls is way easier than getting frustrated or stressed.
  • Instead of feeling stuck, asking “how can I make this work?” is a great way to find solutions. By acknowledging there is a solution, I begin the first step to finding it.
  • Taking a chance, grounded with common sense, can yield great results.

For me this process extends to every area of life and is a powerful tool to use in enjoying a fulfilled life despite the chaos and detours along the way.

Have your own out-of-the-box thinking success stories?  Please share!

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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Turmeric Rice

Healing with Food

This recipe is an adaptation from one of the latest stages of an Ayurveda rejuvenation therapy called Sansarjana Krama – gradually enkindling agni or digestive fire with gruels and easily digested foods. This is usually done after a period of debilitation from illness, surgery or even following the birth of a baby. It is also done as part of the cleansing rejuvenation of Pancha Karma.

The traditional process starts off by cooking grains with a high water ratio – about 1:16 and drinking just the broth the first couple days then gradually moving to less watery and more solid forms of the grains over the period of 1-2 weeks. Cooking rice with larger amounts of water makes it more easily digestible and less likely to bind or clog in the lower digestive tract. It provides nutrition for the body but without taxing the digestive system.

The particular grain-water ratio for this recipe is 1:3 and is good for people who are healing, in the post partum period, are easily dehydrated, have a higher vata imbalance, or those living in drier climates. And even if you have none of these special needs, it is simply a tasty grain to add into your diet!

Turmeric is a spice that is becoming more well known today for its healing properties – which are numerous. Turmeric has a tonifying effect on the blood, liver, spleen, small intestine, and the female reproductive system.  In the digestive system, turmeric helps with intestinal infections, mucous conditions, inflammatory conditions, and has an affinity for the large intestine so that it may play a role in preventing bowel cancer.

Used as a spice in cooking, one can receive many of the healing effects without risk. However, caution should be used when taking turmeric in larger amounts especially is one has active gallstones, is taking a blood thinner, when trying to conceive a child, or in high vata and pitta conditions.

Turmeric Rice

Ingredients

  • 3 c. pure water
  • 2/3 c. basmati rice, ideally organic
  • 1/3 c. quinoa, ideally organic
  • 1 T. ghee (clarified butter), ideally organic
  • 2/3 tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. salt, ideally Soma Salt
  • lime wedges for optional garnish

Instructions

  1. If using a rice cooker, which is my preferred method, simply wash the rice and quinoa well and put in the cooker with all the ingredients and press start.
  2. The rice cooker will tend to cook the rice longer as it is designed to cook until the water is absorbed. You can allow this or if you want it soupier, simply set a timer and turn it off manually about 20 minutes after it is started boiling.
  3. Alternatively, on the stovetop, bring water to a boil in a pot and add the well-washed grains along with the ghee, salt and turmeric.
  4. Return to a boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer, covering for 15 minutes.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/grains/turmeric-rice

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5 Ways to Cool Down with Summer Foods

In Ayurveda, the ancient holistic healing system from India, maintaining good health throughout the year requires the ability to navigate through seasonal shifts by making small adjustments in your diet and lifestyle.

pittaicon3In Ayurveda, food is looked at through the lens of its qualities and how those qualities affect the three doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. In summer, the main quality that is at play is HEAT which increases the Pitta dosha due to its naturally high levels of internal heat.   As such, you want to use cooling foods to balance the summer heat.  Secondly, when the outer temperatures heat up, your body’s metabolism slows down decreasing your appetite and your ability to digest heavier foods. The LIGHT quality in foods also then becomes a second primary factor to look at in the summer.

Making seasonal adjustments is actually quite intuitive and you are likely already doing things such as…

  • Shifting from eating hot soups to cooler salads
  • Switching your sweaters for the shorts, sundresses, and sunglasses
  • Rising with the early sun and enjoying more of your exercise and activities in the cooler parts of the day

In addition to these general intuitive hot weather changes, you can consciously begin to use your food to support your highest balance through these summer strategies.

  1. Savor the sumptuous, sweet fruits of summer. Most fruit is light and cooling by nature making it perfect to lower the rising pitta. In addition to being sattvic which promotes lightness, clarity and contentment, fruit is thirst relieving, refrigerant (cooling) and mildly cleansing. Cooling sweet fruits are ideal for summer and include sweet berries, ripe and sweet apricots, plums and peaches, sweet mangos, watermelon, coconut, purple grapes, and ripe cantaloupe. Notice that I stress ripe and sweet. This is because fruit that is more green and sour is heating not cooling.
  2. Enjoy your salads – with some modifications. Late spring and early summer is a great time for the salads with the bitter and astringent leafy greens that promote blood cleansing after winter. Pitta is best served in the summer by the sweet and bitter vegetables like asparagus, cooked beets, artichoke, broccoli, cooked carrots, cauliflower, green beans, and Swiss chard. Cooling vegetables like cucumbers, cilantro and fennel are especially good. Raw vegetables are by nature cooling but the digestive system needs to be vital and strong to process the raw foods. Also, though the summer season increases Pitta, I see many people with Vata imbalances which are increased by these raw, cool foods. The best way to balance the need for some cooling without it overtaxing the digestive system or aggravating Vata is to have small side salads at lunch and/or have more grain, legume and cooked vegetable salads eaten at room temperature.
  3. Lessen the heat index in your foods. Foods that are hot and pungent increase heat in the body and mind. Eat a hot bowl of soup in the summer and you will feel the heat build on your skin in the form of tiny perspiration beads! For the most part, you will have naturally dumped your heavy stews and soups for lighter and cooler meals. Additionally, know that substances like garlic, onions, peppers, hot spices, tomatoes, salsas, vinegars, and fried food also build heat on a range of subtle levels. This doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid such foods, just be mindful of the amount and how it is affecting you. If you are getting heartburn or acidic symptoms, a general heat flush, or even notice your temper flaring it is a sure sign that your internal heat index is too high.
  4. Moist grains balance out a summer diet. Whole grains in general are balancing to all doshas except when done in excess or in used in processed forms like much of the packaged wheat products. First, try to enjoy more of the cooked whole grains like rice, quinoa, oats, and bulgur wheat. Then be mindful of taking in too much of the drier grains such as buckwheat, corn, millet and dry granola. Pitta has a slightly moist quality but its heating nature over time can lead to secondary dryness. And since Vata, which is dry by nature, is often lurking in the background at an elevated level, having a balance with the dry grains is always a good idea.
  5. Your liquids make a difference. With higher temps, you are likely feeling the thirst but what you reach for may or may not give you the quenching relief you’re looking for. Cool water with lime, cucumber and mint and teas made with mint, hibiscus, rose, chrysanthemum, nettles and fennel are great options. However that cold soda or even seltzer water much less the alcohol and iced coffees not only don’t quench your true thirst but can also be heating (in the case of alcohol and coffee) and dehydrating.  Don’t stress by trying to avoid your beer on the patio but find the balance in your overall hydration levels.

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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4 Crucial Tips to Make Your Commitments Stick

As a healthy lifestyle coach, making changes in habits in a key part of my programs. And since change starts with commitment, I’m always looking for better ways to support my client’s commitments.

Making your commitments work for you rather than becoming self-defeating experiences is vital to creating effect change. From my own personal experiences and witnessing powerful shifts with my clients, I have found that your commitments can be anchored to a deeper sticking point by following these steps.

  1. Check in and make sure the commitment is right for you before committing. I see many people jump in to an idea that sounds appealing only to find that really it isn’t the right fit. Taking some time to pause and ask yourself “why am I doing this and what do I hope to gain from it?” is a great first step. The commitments that I see that are able to be held most successfully are because they connect to a deep soul/heart space and have the strongest value. This connection to what really matters and what will get you through the challenging times when your commitment is tested.

 

  1. Unwind the pitfalls before starting. By walking backwards from potential problems with the commitment, you are able to either address them ahead of time or gain further clarity about whether the commitment as you’ve laid it out will work for you. Think about the exceptions to your rules, the places that could trip you up. If you are thinking of committing to a specific food plan, think how that will play out in social events or with your family or when traveling. If you’re committing to buying organic for the dirty dozen foods (those most heavily covered in chemicals which is updated annually by the Environmental Working Group) permanently, think about where you are going to get your product – do you have convenient places where you live? And what about when you travel? Do you have money twinges when you compare the price difference for organic strawberries versus the commercial ones? If so, you need to explore the money issue now before you move forward.

 

  1. Find your realistic point of being with your commitment. This is what I call your minimum marker– what can you hold no matter what. The point where you can hold firm no matter if you or a child is sick, you’re in a major life transition, or you’re traveling. If you want your commitment to be daily, this is especially important. If your commitment isn’t daily, you have more wiggle room here. In my most recent commitment with Vipassana Meditation – recommended to be done a minimum of twice a day for an hour each time – my goal was to get back to doing two meditations per day. I’d been meditating regularly for years in the morning, but knowing how much I put out energetically during the day, I also recognized that having an afternoon or early evening meditation would be really helpful to my nervous system. So I let go of the time requirement and focused on the twice a day. At this point, I’m finding I get the second meditation in later in the evening that I really want, but at least I’m getting it in. For the timing, I’m holding solid at 30-40 minutes per meditation. Making these modifications is helping me anchor my commitment. At some point I may then be able to expand into the ideal of the practice – or not!

 

  1. healthy habit trackingMark your success and celebrate. Part of what keeps me going for the long run is to feel good and successful about what I’m doing. Sounds pretty obvious, right? But I find that many people don’t give themselves credit for the amazing job they’re doing and, instead, just move on to the next thing they think they want to or think they should be doing. The lack of self-appreciation can lead to feeling unsatisfied and unsuccessful, as you never see yourself reaching that finish line. So capture your “Yes I’m doing it!” moments. You can use a paper tracking sheet like the one I’ve attached below as a graphic or there are a variety of different Apps that track habits. Though you can use the apps to pay attention to negative habits, I prefer to use them to highlight the positive ones and see your success in implementing them.

My personal example of a committed habit is with my commitment to have a daily yoga practice. I made this commitment ten years ago as I went into my Kundalini Yoga teacher training program. At this point, I’d already been doing yoga off and on for twelve years. I appreciated and valued the benefits I received physically, mentally, and spiritually and wanted more! But I also knew from prior experiences that I couldn’t be too rigid in my expectations – like having to do it at the same exact time every day or for a specific amount of time – or I would not succeed. At the time, I had two younger children and life was not always predictable. I also knew enough about myself to know that while I crave routine, I need it mixed with variety and diversity.

Finding Kundalini Yoga, which is geared around sets called Kriyas, gave me an opportunity to do daily yoga that had lots of diversity. There are hundreds of Kriyas – which are made up of different physical and breath exercises, mantra/sound, and eye and hand positions to create specific energetic effects in the body, mind and spirit – that are clearly laid out in manuals providing clear instructions on what to do. I had the tool, now I needed to craft how to use it.

For me, commitment has to be doable and realistic to be sustainable. This meant putting point #3 above into practice by finding my minimum point. In terms of my yoga commitment, this meant stating to myself that I would do something from the yogic technologies every day. As yoga is not just the physical postures, this gave me lots of options to play with ranging from breath exercises, different types of meditations, eating and cooking mindfully, or even taking a yogic principle such as ahimsa (non-violence) and exploring it throughout my day. I set no specific time nor tool, just the commitment to use the ancient technology to support my commitment to living my best.

And it worked! I haven’t missed a single day in these ten years because I kept it in line with my needs, my inner workings, my values and made it realistic. I celebrate it regularly by sharing about it and each day by given myself an energetic pat on my back as I make it another day.

Do you have a success story with your commitment? I’d love to hear it!

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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Energy Balls

Good treats make life sweeter.  Good treats that are healthy, made our bodies smile.

This Ayurveda recipe is one of several variations that combine ingredients that Ayurveda considers to be “Ojas building”.  Ojas is your inner vitality and is related to your immune system.  Ojas foods include dates, almonds, and ghee.  Put together with spices and rolled into balls, Ojas snacks are tasty, healthy, and support the immune system. This recipe is also good during pregnancy and postpartum as well as balancing to Vata and Pitta doshas.

Energy Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 ½ c. powdered almonds (or almond meal)
  • 1 ½ c. powdered pistachios (or hazelnut meal)
  • ½ tsp. cardamom
  • ½ c. sucanat (evaporated cane juice)
  • ½ c. ghee (more as needed to hold or 1/4 c. almond butter)
  • Fine coconut flakes or/and white sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cream together ghee and sucanat.
  2. Add powdered nuts and spices. Mix together and judge sweet taste.
  3. Roll into balls. Add more ghee or a little almond butter if too crumbly.
  4. Once the balls are formed, you can also roll in coconut or sesame seeds.
  5. May be refrigerated for up to a week.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/energy-balls

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

 

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Life Transforming Events – Play The Long Game

My Vipassana Meditation Experience – Part Two

butterflyI have been practicing yoga techniques – including postures/sets, breath exercises, and meditation – for almost twenty-five years and have found the results to be life enhancing for my body, mind and spirit. For the past eleven years, I have been able to hold a daily practice successfully by setting the realistic expectation of defining my daily practice as “doing some aspect of the yogic technologies every day”. Some days my practice may total 2 hours while others days doing my best with yoga might be a 5 minute breath exercise. Having this commitment be flexible has been a key to my daily practice success.

Having said that, this past year I felt like I wanted to deepen my meditation practice – to have a different tool that would allow me to meditate all day should I have the opportunity, such as when I go to India and do Panchakarma (Ayurveda’s powerful cleansing rejuvenation). I choose as my tool Vipassana – the meditation technique originally given by the Buddha.

There are Vipassana centers throughout the world which have no upfront fees for their meditation courses, though you are encouraged/invited to make a donation at the end if you feel you have gained something in order to support the next group of students. I am lucky enough to have a center near Rockford, IL – less than two hours from my home.

I have had this course on my internal radar for five years and things finally lined up so that this year my self-care retreat was the gift of the ten-day course.

So it was that in the deep, dark cold of January that I headed off to go further inward on my Self-expansion journey.

I knew what I was getting into on a logistical level based on information from the website which was further reinforced when I checked-in. I had signed up for ten days of complete silence with no communication with others – the exceptions being if I had an issue and needed to talk to the course manager or to ask a question with the course facilitator/instructor. No communication meant no verbal communication but also no eye contact and no gestures of communication. I admit that I found that I spend much of my time with my eyes closed during meditation or looking at the ground or horizon to avoid unintentional contact!

Beyond the lack of communication, there was also no avenue of mental or physical stimulation – no strong exercise or yoga (walking to and from the buildings and light stretching to deal with tight muscles from sitting was allowed), no reading, no writing, no listening to music. The only information was the minimal instruction given by the course instructor and a nightly video discourse by the sitting master Vipassana teacher about the underlying philosophy and components of the practice.

This might sound restrictive, unsettling, and strange.

It certainly is a big difference from my daily life. And although I had the natural reservations of the unknown, I wasn’t overly concerned. My larger initial concern was the no dinner – only fruit and tea for the evening “meal”!

I discovered that I loved the silence. I consider myself a socially adept introvert – I have no trouble being with people but recharge by time alone. As such, not talking didn’t seem like a big stretch. My bigger challenge was my own mental chatter – somewhat diffused by the nine hours in meditation when I had a different mental focus. The other challenge was no reading or writing, as I like to journal and I relax by reading.

Almost five months after the course, I can appreciate the restrictions as they gave me an opportunity to step into the space of letting go. From my week of silence, I realize how much words are loaded with emotions, agendas (conscious and unconscious), pattern threads and hooks of desires. That isn’t necessarily wrong, but it was interesting to see the role of communication on so many different levels.

And though I admit to being bored at times from the lack of stimulation during our short “free time”, it was quite interesting to have my entire day focused actively being with my self – during meditation, while eating, and during the short rest periods throughout the day.

I found the silence and being meditation space mostly comfortable. Not so much so for my physical body.

Having done yoga and meditation for so long, I thought the physical aspect would be the easier component.

Surprise!

Even with my meditation pillow and other support pillows, I discovered there is a BIG difference in thirty minute meditation increments one to two times a day and meditating for up to two hour chunks for a total of nine hours a day.

The first several days especially I experienced a variety of uncomfortable sensations in my knees, hips, back and neck. I experienced some fascinating unwinding of the physical tension – each representing, according to the instructor, physical manifestation of my past patterns and mental attachments. I also experienced high levels of discomfort that made focusing on the physical sensations of the body without reacting from a space of neither attachment/craving or aversion to any sensation (the goal of the technique) challenging.

There were times I wanted to give up, get up, and move. There were days I was asking myself “what the heck am I doing here?!”. There were moments of peace as well as relaxation that led to zoning out (not the goal) during the meditation. There were the natural thoughts that continued to cycled up. There were definitely cravings and aversions – still a practicing student.

And I made it through.

It is stressed that the ten days is the instruction and that one needs to have daily practice to move forward. One goes through the intensive fire with the training, but as with all Self expansion and clearing techniques, it is the daily practice that holds the deep power. I have experienced this truth in my Ayurveda and yoga self-care practices. And I knew that to hold this new level of meditative self-care, I would have to use a starter step approach that was realistic.

The ideal of this transition is to meditate two times a day for one hour each session. Knowing I wanted to hold pieces of my current Kundalini yoga practice and Ayurveda daily routines along with my cooking being done in the morning, I decided to start with a commitment of two times a day for at least thirty minutes.

As expected, the morning practice was fairly easy. I already had a routine of doing my meditation first thing in the morning for twenty-five minutes so this was just a slight expansion. Sometimes I’m able to get in forty or forty-five minutes, but rarely an hour.

The second meditation, also as expected, has been a little more challenging, but I am really appreciating this second internal recharge in the latter part of my day. The second meditation has also stretched me in holding my commitment, in figuring out the logistics, in squeezing it in at different times based on the fluctuation that comes with family and work activities during this time. There have been a few times when I was squeezing in my meditation at ten o’clock at night after a non-stop day where twenty minutes was as good as it was going to get. There were a couple times when I consciously had to skip the second meditation. And just one time that I just forgot.

Fast forward one hundred and eleven days. And this is where I now am with my practice – holding strong mostly every day with my two practice times.

Then this week – following two back-to-back trips with a heavy work week in between and at both ends – and I had a period of resistance and crash. For three days I missed one or both meditations.

And, without judgment, I got back on track again.

And this is my biggest success. Not that I got through the intense immersion. Not that I got a great start. But that the pattern is ingrained enough that I can manage a couple bumps with less than ideal or nothing at all and get back in the groove without falling too far off course.

To me it is the long game that has been and will continue to be most vital for my well-being. By committing for the long haul, something inside of me shifts – both in expectations and in what I’m opening up to in terms of change and growth.

And my new practice is yielding positive benefits.

Though I already had a good level of inner centeredness from my past meditation practices, I do feel like I feel even more peaceful, less reactive, and in a calmer flow with life. No, I am not in the space of neutral automan – nor do I see this as the end result. I still get frustrated, angry, excited, anxious, thrilled, sad, etc – but I don’t feel caught in the pulls of excessive emotion as much and don’t feel as attached in general.

I find that I enjoy quiet and times of not talking even more and sometimes need conversation breaks. I find that I am more thoughtful about what I say and conscious about why I am saying what I am saying.

I have been thinking a lot of commitment and what it takes to hold commitments and why some stick easier than others.

I know I want to continue to hold my twice-daily practice and wonder if and when I will be able to increase my time commitment up closer to the one hour ideal. I know from having done ones closer to that one hour that there is a difference in how deep I go between the thirty minutes and the longer times.

For today, I observe, wonder, enjoy the results.

For day I hold the commitment to myself that I feel is realistic and trust that it will carry me to the next space.

And as I am committed to the long game, for today this place of striving is enough.

 

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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Five Steps To Stop The Dangerous Effects Stress Surges

Stress is an ongoing part of our busy modern world.

crazy-womanThere is the daily stress and then there are the peaks when stress rises to an even higher level due to travel, year or quarter end business times, life transitions, and any other external upheaval. These periods of high stress can push you over an edge into an acute symptom flare such as a muscle spasm, migraine headache, or digestive upset. And, if not careful, the stress surge can begin a downward spiral into a state of move severe imbalance and depletion, which sets you up for chronic conditions.

Since it is unlikely that the external stressors will shift, having a good plan to manage the stress is key to maintaining a healthy balance – especially during times of stress surges.

I invite you to play with these support options as you put together a plan that is right for you.

One: Create a daily habit to build your inner calm reservoir.

By choosing to do nourishing activities each day, you build up your physical and mental immune system. I call it filling up your inner battery. The more nourishing and balancing habits you have in the day, the better.

That said, to support the nervous system I find a short and simple meditation, breath exercise, journal practice or any other tool that activates the relaxation response will effectively help build a solid inner foundation. This foundation contributes to a healthy response pattern while boosting your nervous system. When your stress factors hit, you then have an inner reservoir of balance and strength from which to respond.   Think of your daily practice as helping to create a buffer against the external stressors.

One of my favorite tools is a breath exercises that uses a 1:2 breath ratio in which you inhale for whatever count (say 5) and exhale for double that amount (10). The longer exhale emphasizes your parasympathetic nervous system which creates the relaxation response. It is best to breath through the nose. Start with the amount that is comfortable – both in terms of the ratio as well as the number of minutes you do each day – and expand from there. Ideally build up to 10-15 minutes a day. It feels wonderful!

Two: Keep up – even in a small way – with your self-care.

Your natural tendency during periods of high stress will be to stop doing your self-care. I have witnessed this continually with my clients as well as with myself.

On a logical level this makes no sense. At the time you need it the most, this is when you are most likely to stop doing the very things that support you. Knowing both the importance of self-care during stress and the pitfall tendency to skip it, find one small aspect of your self-care that you can keep up with. Use this small action as your touch stone to hold you through the surge and to bring you back to your “regular” nourishing habits afterwards.

Three: Find your stop point.

crisis_stopsignIn dealing with an issue or pattern, I recommend using both positive tools to counter the negative stress triggers as well as direct action to decrease the negative factor.

Often stress comes from having, or seeming to have, too much to do and being overloaded by it all. Depending on the situation, this high level of activity or pressure can be very real. But within all the busyness, there has to be a stop point when you shut down for the day or night.

If you do not consciously stop, your system will at some point shut you down and it’s never pretty. Take the reins yourself and begin to identify where that meeting point between realistic and best is for your stop point. I say meeting point because I recognize that what is best for you isn’t always realistic but you need to bring in the “better” with the realistic otherwise you will end up in a negative space.

And if you’re having trouble holding to the stop point that you know is right for you, get someone or something to help you – a gentle reminder from spouse, friend, or family remember or even an alarm on your phone that it’s time to wrap it up.

Four: Differentiate between what has to be done versus what you feel has to be done.

Perception and reality are two different things and as you take a good look inside, finding your own role in your stress will help you have less of it. In looking at the logistics, task list or factors creating the stress, separate what truly has to be done versus what you feel like has to be done.

For myself, I have been able to see that I am sometimes my own worst stress builder by my inner expectations. I have the habit of creating inner timelines that aren’t real but things I want done. And the timelines can then create pressure which increases stress.

Five: Get back on track quickly.

Stress will push you out of your rhythms and your habits of balance. Accept it will happen despite your best intentions and trying to use your positive counter balances.

Stop judging it or being hard on yourself. This only creates more inner negativity and emotion and can trigger other negative behaviors such as over eating or using alcohol or drugs to softening the pain.

Stop trying to fight it but also don’t let it drag you off. If you don’t add to the negative energy and react, you are more likely to recover quickly after the surge. And getting back in your healthy groove soon will stop a self-sabotaging cycle that you get stuck in and can lead to long term unhealthy habits.

As a healthy lifestyle coach, I recognize the importance of identifying the problematic habits and patterns while simultaneously building your tools that support your balance in both the short and long term. If you’re looking for more tools, check out last month’s article “Home Tools To Tame Tension

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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Barley Quinoa Kitchari For Spring Cleansing

Spring is nature’s season of cleansing and is one of the two main times in Ayurveda when more in-depth cleanses are recommended.

The typical Ayurveda diet during is a cleanse is one that promotes minimal activity in the digestive system in order to give it a break and focuses on the detoxifying process.  This translates as easy-to-digest cooked, vegetarian foods with kitchari being the key dish.

This Quinoa Barley Kirchari uses barley instead of the typical white basmati rice.  Barley is a drier, lighter grain making it ideal for cleansing during the heavy spring kapha season.  Quinoa is a seed rather than a grain and adds extra protein.

Quinoa Barley Spring Kitchari

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c. quinoa
  • 1/3 c. barley
  • 1/3 c. split mung dal
  • 1 Tbsp. ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 tsp. salt, ideally Soma salt
  • 1 tsp. personal spice mix from Ayurveda practitioner or 1/2 tsp. ground coriander, 1/4 tsp. ground fennel, 1/8 tsp. ground cumin, 1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 1/4 c. filtered water

Instructions

  1. Wash quinoa, barley and mung dal in a strainer and rinse well.
  2. Roast the spice mix and salt on low fire with the ghee for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Place the toasted spice mix in a rice cooker and add the quinoa, barley, mung beans, and water.
  4. Press the start button on the rice cooker which will automatically turn to warm once the dish is cooked.
  5. For a moister kitchari, add an extra 1/2 c. water.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/spring-cleansing-kitcharis

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

 

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Home Tools To Tame Tension

Three Tools To Tame Physical Tension Through Compression Release Techniques

The act of living –  of simply using the body in every day activities – creates both physical and mental tension.

As a wellness and lifestyle coach with a twenty-two year background as a massage therapist, I happen to have a numerous tools to address tension.

Today I’d like to start with addressing the physical tension.  Though tension actually starts on the subtle level of the body – yes your thoughts and attitudes actually tighten your physical body – the discomfort in the physical body is usually what spurs you into awareness and action!

Self-Massage Tools For Tension & Pain Relief

First, why these are my top recommendations:

  • Most important, they work – if you use them!
  • They are all are easy to use and affordable.  This means you are more likely to use them on a regular basis.
  • They are easy to transport.  This means when you travel, you can take your tool with you.  Travel can build up extra tension with carrying luggage, sleeping with different mattresses and pillows, and sometimes doing new activities.

The concept behind the three tools is based on the massage technique of compression.

By using a point of contact and applying pressure against a tight muscle, the muscle responds by contracting and then releasing.  Muscular tension and rigidity is reduced, blood circulation increases in the area, and trigger points can also be treated.  The point of contact could be a part of the massage therapist’s body like a thumb, elbow, or fist or a simple tennis ball.

The size of the contact point creates different effects.  The smaller the point, the more deeper the feeling and effect.  The larger the contact point, the broader the feeling will be.

To get into a specific area, muscle or trigger part – a smaller contact point is better.  This will feel like when a massage therapist is using the thumb on an area versus the palm of the hand.  Specific can be good, but it can also feel more intense. Warming up the body with a broader tool first can relieve some of the general tension before going deeper into specific areas.

For home tools, this compression point will be in the form of one of the following tools rather than coming from your own private massage therapist!
tennis ballsTennis Balls: this is the tool I take on the road with me wherever I go.  You can lie anywhere on the balls with your body that you can get them – except directly on the spine.

You can warm up the muscles and assess where your tightness is by rolling in a fluid motion a couple times up and down the back with the balls on either side of the spine.  Then go point by point down the back with the balls, resting 30-60 seconds at each point to allow the muscles to deeply release.  You can also lie on your side and get into the gluteal muscles to address tight hips and sciatica.  Or place the balls on the outer edge of the scapula shoulder bone to release the rotator cuff muscles and arm tension.  Note that the scapula doesn’t have as much tissue so it is more sensitive – go lightly with your body weight!

The technique is best done without shirts or pants or else it gets bunched up in the balls.

While you can use a single tennis ball, I suggest putting two tennis balls in a sock to have greater versatility.   Put the balls in an old sock, tie a knot in the sock at the end of the balls, then flip the excess sock back over the balls so there is no tail or loose end. The sock simply holds the tennis balls together.

theracane-toolThe Theracane: this is a curved tool with a plastic knobs on the various end points.  The tool comes with a book showing how to use it for different parts of the body.  The cane uses the idea of pressure point release like with the tennis balls but the smaller knobs provide more point specific options and can get into places not as easily accessible to the tennis balls.

My favorite area to address is the top of the shoulders.  Since these muscles, the upper trapezius, are some of the tightest in the body, having this tool to get into this area is great! Find online or at different stores which carry therapy tools for between $20-30.

rumble rollerRumble Rollers: in addition to getting to the muscular tension, it is helpful to address the fascia – the soft tissue that acts like an envelope around the muscle.  Foam rollers are used to create this broad band of expanding the fascia tissue.

I particularly like this bumpy version for deep tissue foam rolling.  The bumps gently stretch the soft tissue as well as target trigger points.  They come in two sizes – the larger is great for doing the whole back.  The smaller one is well suited for the legs and hip area as well as the sides and rotator cuff attachments on the outside of the scapula.  These can be found online for about $45/small and $70/large.

Know that although I’m offering these treatment tools, taming the outer tension is just one step in keeping your body happy.

You also need to look at the habits and patterns that create the tension and explore more effective ways to use the body and mind that decrease the build up of the tension in the first place.

 

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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Finding Your Yes Through The No

Contrast Learning

A big part of the coaching process I do with people is to help them clearly identify what they want.

This is harder than it may sound.

Many times, people are focused on what is not working and what they do NOT want.

Staying in that place of NO isn’t helpful, but, if you can recognize it as a stepping stone, you can leverage your knowledge from the No into finding the YES.

This process of discovering more of what you do want by seeing or comparing it against what you’re realizing is uncomfortable, not fun, or isn’t working for you is called Contrast Learning.

Sometimes you are not aware of what you want until you experience what you don’t want.

You might not be able to know what being happy is like if you have never felt sad.

Contrast is part of what continues to guide you closer to the truth of what you do want.

Emotions, too, play a role in what guides you to move forward in the direction that is aligned with your truth.

  • If something feels good on a deep level, usually you are in the right space and on the right track. You then continue to follow that energy.
  • If something feels uncomfortable in some shape or form, it’s often a sign that you are going in the wrong direction or something is out of alignment in some way with your core or authentic self.

I personally feel that contrast is neither bad nor good but is instead a great learning opportunity.  Allowing yourself this moment of contrast provides greater clarification for you.

You get to play with creating the picture of what the life you want will be for you. You imagine it then test it out and see what arises. As things happen – because what we think we want or how we call it in sometimes shows up in unexpected ways – you then sift out what I call the “not that part, thank you” and add more in the “I want this instead, please”.

finding your YES for New Year's resolutionI recently had a client expand her YES for herself with her Core Self Summary Sheet (the end result one gets from doing the Magnificent Self Discovery Session). This sheet lists several aspects that reflect and make up of one’s core self that are used to see if you are living or doing activities that align with your core self.

My client has been struggling with a long-term pattern of overwhelm in her life and business. She recently became aware that her natural energies of giving, healing, and creativity had become imbalanced by putting all this energy outward and not having a solid foundation within to receive these energies for herself.

In looking at her Summary Sheet, she could see all those energies listed were true and right, but realized she had left off some pieces that honored her own foundation.

She took one of her core values of self-expression and added in some new pieces – pieces she realized were missing by having a pattern that wasn’t working and bringing stress and discomfort to her life.

Her value started out as Graciousness – true path, fitting my style, driven by impulse to help and uplift with a heart connection.

With her new awareness, here was the change she made… Graciousness- to be of service to others from a place of personal strength. Sharing, uplifting and helping will come naturally and happen graciously without taking ANYTHING away from me and my goals. To be doing what I am choosing to do is all that is needed of me.  No over extension, no losing my base is required to graciously be.

From her AHA, my client was able to immediately take two actions to support a new, more comfortable path:

  1. Write out more clearly what she does want. The process of writing helps to further integrate and clarify.  One can then post that new information to act as a future reminder.
  2. Have a conversation with her partner to share her new perspective and ask for his help in holding a space honoring her goals in a balanced way to his goals and desires.

An Activity to Reframe Your No’s

If you’d like to leverage a No into a Yes, try this activity.

  1. T chartMake a T chart on a piece of paper –draw a horizontal line at the top with a vertical line down the center of the page like the image to the right.
  2. On the left side, write out what you are unhappy with or isn’t working in whatever issue or area you are exploring. Most of the time, these come easily as they are bothering you!
  3. On the right side, for each item that isn’t working, put what you want INSTEAD of what you have. For example, if on the chart you have “feeling overwhelmed by too many projects”, on the other side you might put “working on one project at a time in a sequential order (rather than simultaneously) so I feel relaxed, focused, and complete the project.”
  4. Fold a piece of paper in half vertically so your YES column is the only one visual.
  5. Post the paper somewhere you can see it daily or regularly to remind yourself of what you are wanting to focus on and create.
  6. Any time your mind starts to go into one of the No’s, remind yourself instead of the Yes, and ask what you can do in that moment to take one small step towards that Yes.

©2016, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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Lemon Almond Macaroon Cookies

I recently had a friend coming over who doesn’t eat much gluten, so I went looking for a gluten-free treat of some sort.

I found this recipe from Real Simple and made two modifications – switched out the white sugar to sucanat for a more balanced sweetener and reduced the sugar from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup.  And at a 1/2 cup, I found it still pretty sweet due to the natural sweetness of the coconut and lemon, so in the recipe I’ve put a range of 1/3-1/2 cup sweetener that you can adjust to your taste.

I really like this recipe for several reasons:

  • With just five ingredients, it is super easy to make
  • It is delicious
  • It is relatively healthy – all whole foods or minimally processed ingredients and with the cut in sugar, even better

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, coconut is cooling thus really lovely for balancing Pitta. The almonds and egg whites add some mild warmth and heaviness to support Vata.  As with all foods with added sweetener, they should be consumed in moderation.

Lemon Almond Macaroon Cookies

Lemon Almond Macaroon Cookies

Ingredients

  • 14 oz. shredded coconut
  • 1 c. sliced almonds
  • 1/3-1/2 c. sucanat (evaporated cane juice)
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest (from an organic lemon)
  • 1/4 tsp. Soma or sea salt
  • 4 large egg whites

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 325° F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine well the coconut, almonds, sucanat, lemon zest, and salt. Then add in the egg whites.
  3. Drop mounds of the mixture (each equal to 2 tablespoons) onto a stone baking sheet or 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced about 1½ inches apart. Because the dough tends to be crumbly, I gently molded the mounds a little more
  4. Bake until the edges begin to brown, 20 to 25 minutes. If cooking both sheets at the same time, switch which one is on top halfway through.
  5. Cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  6. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week - though ours didn't last that long!
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/lemon-almond-macaroon-cookies

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Crockpot Vegetarian Quinoa White Chili

A delicious and nutritious vegetarian chili with white beans, quinoa, and vegetables from Jamie Durner at Abundant You Coaching.

This week, I tried out a new chili recipe to go with our family’s cornbread recipe.  I wanted something that had the taste of chili without all the tomatoes and more vegetables.  I merged ideas for this from two different recipes and am really pleased with the results.

Let me know what your tastebuds think!

Crockpot Vegetarian Quinoa White Chili

Crockpot Vegetarian Quinoa White Chili

Ingredients

  • 1-2 medium poblano peppers (or can used canned diced green chilis in a pinch)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion or leek, diced
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced
  • 1 large zucchini, thick sliced in quarters
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into medium small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. Soma or sea salt
  • 4 c. vegetable broth
  • 4 c. cooked white beans (cannellini, great northern, butter beans) which is about 2 15-ounce cans drained
  • 1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed under cold water and drained
  • lime wedges
  • fresh cilantro
  • sour cream or shredded cheese

Instructions

  1. Roast the poblano peppers. Wash and dry the whole peppers and place on a cookie sheet on high broil with the rack about 1/3 of the way from the top of the oven. Broil for 2-4 minutes, until the tops are blackened, then turn with tongs until most sides are blistered and blackened.
  2. Remove blackened peppers and tent a large piece of foil over the top to help the papers "sweat" which makes it easier to peel off the skin.
  3. While the peppers are cooling, warm the olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook the onions and red pepper on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Then add the zucchini and cauliflower and cook for another 2 minutes until all vegetables are moderately tender.
  4. Add the garlic and spices and cook for an additional minute.
  5. Add a cup or so of the broth and stir to make sure all the flavor bits are scraped up. Pour the entire mixture into the crockpot along with the remaining broth, beans, and quinoa.
  6. Carefully peel the skin off the poblanos and remove the skin. Leave the seeds for a hotter flavor or remove for more mild chili. Finely dice the poblano and add to the crockpot.
  7. Stir gently to mix all of the ingredients together and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 3-4 hours until the quinoa is cooked and the chili is relative thick. Add additional salt, pepper or spices to taste.
  8. Top with a squeeze of lime, fresh cilantro, and sour cream or cheese
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/crockpot-vegetarian-quinoa-white-chili

©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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Feel Overwhelmed? Break It Down

crazy-womanYou’re mind is racing with thoughts of all you have to do.

The sheer enormity of it seems to make those thoughts spin ever faster, creating a pit in the stomach and tightening throughout the body.

Your heartbeat increases.

Your breathing increases.

You feel sick, paralyzed, and want to crawl back into bed and cover your head so you do not have to face the world.

All that can be a reaction to feeling overwhelmed and, for some, can trigger a psycho-somatic response of a full blown panic attack.

Many of my Ayurveda and coaching clients have this sense of overwhelm and seek my services precisely to have the support to help make sense of it all and the frenetic, chaotic mental and physical sensations that come with it.

The good news is that there is a simple technique – chunking or breaking it down – that can help stop the overwhelm in its tracks.

Chunking or breaking it down is a way to take anything large involving multiple tasks or pieces and break it down into small steps that feel manageable and allow you to get started instead of crawling back in bed.

Yes, it sounds simple, and it is! The key, as always, is to remember the tool when you need it.

I myself experienced a feeling of overwhelm upon returning from a 10-day meditation course. The course was wonderful and I felt great. But I came back to a to-do list a mile long and sense of pressure and urgency.

My situation was real.

I literally have a very busy month with two health fairs, new marketing material to finalize from my business re-brand, prep work for a workshop next month whose marketing has to go in now, a new staff member that is being integrated in, finishing up four assignments for my next level of coaching certification, getting a presentation ready for the India Healing Retreat, and training on Webex for business classes I’m offering. All this on top of my “regular work” seeing all my amazing clients and all my householder tasks!

But despite my very real list of project tasks, I still have a choice in how to react.

And I consciously chose a more calm, manageable approach by using this “breaking it down” technique through the following steps:

  1. First, I wrote down all the tasks I need to do this month
  2. I then prioritized, by week, which of those tasks needed to be done in relation to the calendar and my own inner sense of completion
  3. I then re-wrote the tasks into weekly to-do lists, keeping it realistic as to what I could manage
  4. Feeling more calm and with a clear visual plan, I was able to take a deep breath and start on this week’s list
  5. As the week begins to come to a close, I am feeling good about what’s been accomplished and am taking a moment to acknowledge myself for the great job
  6. On Monday, I will pick up next week’s list, make any adjustments, and start with those set of smaller, more manageable task

As soon as I took the huge list and put it in smaller buckets, I started to feel better.  I was able to get several things done right away and see how I was going to finish the rest.  With this, my sense of calm not only returned, but I actually experienced a surge in energy.

So next time you are experiencing real and raw overwhelm, give this Breaking It Down technique a try!

©2016, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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Letting Go In The New Year

A funny but oh so appropriate thing happened on the way to the publication of the post…

First, as some of you may have experienced, you opened the post link and saw a few notes that made no sense.  Or you tried to open it, and instead got an error message.

Yep, as I was putting in some notes on my blog posts on Monday, I accidentally hit publish instead of save draft and didn’t discover until this morning.  This OOPS, however, ties in beautifully to some of what I was planning to write about, so I just have to smile how the universe works!!!  Now that all that is cleared and out of the way…

Let’s talk LETTING GO!

(c) Can Stock Photo

(c) Can Stock Photo

To me, letting go is a natural part of evolution and personal growth.  At times it can be easy as I am done with a pattern, behavior, or relationship and it slides off as simply as the natural shedding of a snake skin.  At other times, I can recognize that something isn’t serving me, yet fight tooth and nail to let it go.

In this time of year when culturally we explore resolutions and intentions of change, I’d like to offer up a few thoughts and possible tools of letting go.

  1. To create something new, I often need to do some letting go.  The process of personal growth and transformation includes both building new habits and mindsets while letting go of others.  The two go hand in hand together with change.  It can be hard to start something new if you are not ready to let go of what you currently have.  It also seems that it is in the letting go, that space is created for the new.
  2. To let go, I first have to acknowledge and accept what’s there.  Only as I truly see and come to terms with what is, can I explore further the questions of “Do I still want this because it’s serving me in some way?” or “What do I want instead?” or “What the heck is this about that I’m still holding on to it?!”
  3. I do best with letting go when I stand in a solid space within myself and feel confident, safe, and grounded.  In Ayurveda and yoga, the energy of letting go is related primarily to the root chakra or Muladhara.  On a physiological level, this area relates to the organs of elimination.  It is also related to the earth element and helps you to feel grounded and safe on the primal level.  If I’m not feeling safe, my first step is to explore what it’s about.  I also use tools to support the Muladhara.  One of my favorite tools to support this chakra and change in general is the Kirtan Kriya meditation.  You can learn how to do it with these Kirtan Kriya Instructions.
  4. I have found journaling during a process of letting go to be incredibly helpful.  There is truly something magical and eye opening in the process of writing.  I once heard something about writing being able to take our thoughts, which are flying at 1000 in the blink of the eye according to Yogi Bhajan, and slow them down to a level where we can make better sense of them and process them.  I have witnessed this personally.  I begin to write thinking one thing and as I write, it is like my pen is spelling thoughts out that I wasn’t even aware of.  So cool.  Especially when I am in an intense phase of conscious transformation, I make sure to journal after I meditate.  The writing not only brings forth great stuff, but through the act of writing, I feel like I am physically and energetically letting it go.  The writing seems to act as a container in which I can put my thoughts so they no longer have to churn in my mind.
  5. Letting go can take some time.  Or not.  It all depends on my level of readiness, the emotional energy around what I’m letting go of, and who knows what other factors.  I sometimes need to remind myself of this and consciously try to be gentle and soft with myself during the process.

At the beginning of each new year, I take a bit of time to pause and reflect about the past and about what I want to create now.  This is a part of my annual ritual of letting go and creating new.  I shared the questions I use for this process on my FaceBook page if you want to check them out.

Abundant You Coaching - Claim the MORE in your life!As I went through my annual process, I discovered I’ve done an amazing job of letting go of some things.  And I’m excited and am happy to share with you as sharing can sometimes spark your own journey.  Celebrating is also much more fun together than alone!

Jamie’s Top Three 2015 Letting Go’s

  1. I have let go of internally created, false timelines.  As a driven pitta person, I have often achieved a lot in the past through lists and punching the DOING clock.  While this has some nice rewards and benefits, it also served to create a fair amount of internal stress and pressure.  I’ve been aware of and shifting this for the past couple years and am happy to report that I am not a slave to my inner deadline calendar any more!  Sure, there are still some true deadlines in life that I have to pay attention to, like filing my quarterly taxes.  But no lightening is going to strike me down if I don’t have my Ezine posts out on the first of each month.  Thus you have seen the transformation of my E-newsletter into these blogs posts that come out some time during the month rather than on any specific day.
  2. I’ve let go of my need to control others.  I was never high pressure dictator and control over others was more of illusion, but for a long time I admit to control impulses.  Though there are probably still some reactive kinks I’m working out here, I acknowledge myself for softening a lot of the edges.  I feel I do a much better job of recognizing what’s bothering me that I am feeling the need to control and try to address my issue rather than futilely attempting to control the external person triggering it.
  3. I’ve let go of the need to do so much.  This doesn’t mean do nothing which I doubt will ever happen for me, but rather to not do such an excessive amount.  Balance.  The proof of this came to me when I went to write out what I wanted to create in 2016.  Usually I have all sorts of doing items, many relating to my public sharing of my gifts and purpose through my business.  This year, not so.  This year it was short and simple – live more and more in alignment with my soul and highest self and the rest will fall into place.  I’ve been practicing this concept for awhile, but this year the simplicity of it felt clearer.  And I felt more ready to be in that space where my BE gently nudges my DO rather than the other way around.  So my living meditation this year is each morning to connect to my inner truth and do my best to follow it’s song throughout the day, letting its melody set the rhythm of my movements.  This transformation has also shown up in the way I stop doing during my day.  I reach a point that feels enough, and I stop and take a break or stop for the day – even it’s 4 pm.  And I’m loving it!

I don’t find it coincidental that these things have happened.  

Not only have I been consciously working on them for several years through meditation, journaling, coaching, and practice, but this past summer I was given a specific mantra geared towards letting go.  I had gone to see the Indian spiritual leader, Amma, and had the opportunity to be given a mantra.  I love mantras, so YES was my natural answer.  I had to state what the purpose was for my mantra – what I was looking for.  I wanted a tool to further help feel less attached to sensory pulls in life (those things that feel good in the moment but that I can regret later) and react less to external situations and people.  I received a mantra, that just happens to also support enlightenment, and I did it every day for 120 days – the time given in Kundalini Yoga to master a new habit.

This process of letting go – letting go of the triggers, the addictions, the cravings, the hates or dislikes, the attachments – are all part of that same process of enlightenment and reaching that place of deep bliss by living in connection with your inner truth.

Who knows where your letting go will lead you.  It may or may not be to bliss, but I hope that it leads you to something good that serves you well today.

Here’s to your MAGNIFICENT 2016!

©2016, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

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Requests for Blog Posts for 2016

I’d like YOUR help – truly!

It’s a new year and I’d like to get your input on things as they relate to the blog posts I share with you as part of my community.  You’ve signed up for these.  You may or not read them.  I write ideas as they arise and try to vary content and merge inspiration with tangible tools.  But honestly, I don’t know how things are landing or what you are looking for.

So my request to all of you on my mailing list and reading these posts is…

TELL ME MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR!!!!

I’d love to support your needs and I can best do this if I know more about what you like and are looking for.


peaceful160x202Do you want more recipes?

Do you want more specific meditations and breath tools to play with?

Do you want more or less information on Ayurveda living?

Do you want more or less information about personal change tools and tips?

Feel free to post in the comment section, send me an email, or give me a call at 262-389-5835.

Thanks, I appreciate your support just as I appreciate you!

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My Favorite Cooking Tool For Greater Ease

Hands down, the kitchen tool that makes my life and cooking easier is the rice cooker.

I thought I would start of this New Year by offering a very tangible tool to bring greater ease and health to your life – something I’m always looking for.

I have been using the rice cooker for the past five years or so and it is, by far, the small kitchen appliance that gets the most use for me.  Yes, I do cook rice in it, but the possibilities only start there.  Basically, I can cook pretty much any type of whole grain or whole grain and legume dish in it.  In the recipe section of the resources, you will find lots of whole grain recipes, some of which I provide rice cooker directions for.  I also like cooking multigrain breakfast cereals or rolled and steel cut oats, which is what I did this very morning while I was bundle up taking a walk!

So why do I love the rice cooker?

  1. It allows me to easily cook more whole grains, something often missing in the processed modern diet, and thus incorporate them into my diet regularly.  Though most people are eating grains, it is often a refined form such as pasta, breads, crackers, sweet baked goods, or “quick” cooking versions of the whole grains.  The whole grains provide more fiber and nutrition and thus are a great choice to blend into the daily diet.
  2. It is quick and easy to put the food together.  Most of what I’m cooking takes maybe 5 minutes to pull together and put in the cooker.  If I’m adding vegetables to my kitchari dish of rice and mung beans, that might add another couple minutes for chopping.  All in all, a small time investment for good food!
  3. I start it and then can walk away.  The way a rice cooker works is it goes on a cook cycle until the liquid is absorbed and the grain is done.  Once done, the cooker then shifts to a warm cycle where the food stays warm but doesn’t get overcooked.  With this tool, there is no waiting for the grain to boil to turn down or forgetting it on the stove and having it burn.  The ability to press start and walk away for me is key.  I cook in the morning and love to get the dish going and either go get ready for the day or take a walk and come back to a finished dish.  The same is true when I’m making kitchari at my office.  I get it set up, press the start button closer to when I’m going to eat, go see my client, then come out to a hot, healthy lunch.
  4. It doubles as a food warmer.  I am not a fan of microwaves.  I try to cook my food and eat it fresh so this takes away the need to reheat.  However, even if I’ve made a dish for lunch and am eating the same thing for dinner, I still sometimes need that reheating.  At home, I often do this on a stove.  But at work, I use my rice cooker to warm my food slowly until I’m ready.  It takes a bit more planning – I do have to remember to put my food in and plug the rice cooker ahead of time, but that’s about it.

Ultimately, the rice cooker provides me with an AND.  I am able to have faster meals which are needed in my busy life without having to compromise as much on the quality of food I’m eating.  My AND here is…fast and easy and healthy food!

Types of Rice Cookers

Now that you might be interested in using a rice cooker to support your own needs, the next question is what type of rice cooker.  Full disclosure here: there are more cookers out there than I personally am familiar with, many of them with fancy features.  Some of your choice will come down to personal preference.  I prefer simple cookers because I don’t have complex needs and it seems that the fancy features can lead to more repair issues in general.

rice-cooker_I use the Miracle Exclusives ME 81 as my primary home cooker because I wanted simple with a stainless steel inset.  The dish does usually slightly stick to the bottom, especially if left on the warming cycle for a longer period.  This seems to irritate my husband.  However, I find that a short soak in water makes for quick and easy clean up and I don’t have an issue with it.

At my office, I have this small Rival rice cooker which I purchased before I knew much.  Though it doesn’t have a stainless steel inset, I do like its small size for my work environment.  It works fine, is quite inexpensive, and might be a starter option.

I have a colleague that prefers clay rice cookers because they supposedly don’t stick.  I may try one at some point.

One of my New Year aspirations is to see what other things I can cook in the rice cookers.  They do usually come with a steamer basket so vegetables can be done but I’m not sure what turns it off.  I’m curious about other non-grain dishes so will be doing some playing in my kitchen and keep you posted.

If you find or have a creative way to use your rice cooker or a recipe you especially love that works well, I’d love to hear about it.

©2016, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI

 

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Lentil Patty Recipe

As a vegetarian, sometimes I have a craving for a “burger” or sandwich option but I don’t really like the pre-made options with all their additives and soy products.  As such, I’ve been on a quest to find my own easy home options.  This recipe, a modification from one in the “Vegan Planet” cookbook, is one of my keepers.  I made a batch with gave me about 10 small patties.  I use a couple on a bun with sweet potato fries for the “burger” experience.  I use another 3 in a whole wheat pita bread with cilantro chutney that was truly delicious!

Let me know what you think and if you have some of your own favorites.

This recipe is fairly tri-doshic.  Vatas need to soak and cook the lentils a little more but the spicing helps to digest and the sweet potato provides a nice grounding element for the lighter aspect of vata.  Kapha would do best just eating the patties alone without the extra bread or putting in a corn tortilla instead of wheat.  These dosha notes are for those with imbalances.  A balanced digestion and system should be able to eat healthy, whole meals like this as long as foods are rotated so no one grain or food component is over-emphasized.

Indian Spiced Lentil Patties

Yield: about 10 patties

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. ghee or oil, split
  • 1-2 tsp. Mum's Masala or curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Soma salt or sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne (omit to decrease pitta)
  • 1 c. cooked lentils, I prefer Beluga lentils
  • 1 c. cooked sweet potato
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped, unsalted cashews
  • 2/3 c. dry bread crumbs (or enough to bind filling together to form patties); can use a gluten free type
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • Roti Indian flatbread, whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat pita bread, or sprouted grain buns are my favorite holders for the patties
  • Chutney to your taste

Instructions

  1. Cook 1/3 c. raw, rinsed lentils in about 1 c. water. Bring to a boil then turn to simmer for about 20-25 minutes until well cooked and soft.
  2. Cook one medium sweet potato. I like to do mine in a toaster oven at 425 degrees for about 30-40 minutes until soft.
  3. The potato and lentils can be made ahead of time.
  4. Heat 1 Tbsp. ghee in a small saucepan and add the spices. Add the lentils and potatoes and parsley and mix together to blend the flavor.
  5. Transfer the lentil mix to a food processor and add the cashews and bread crumbs. Process until well blended.
  6. Shape the mixture into patties about 1/4" thick. If you make them too thick, I find that the inside stays too mushy.
  7. Heat the other 2 Tbsp. of ghee or oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  8. Add the patties and cook until browned on both sides, about 5-7 minutes per side.
  9. Place 2-3 patties, depending on the size, end to end on the lower third of the flatbread or in a pita pocket, spread with chutney, roll up and serve warm/hot.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/lentil-patty-recipe

©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Life Coach at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Simple Daily Cleansing Tools – Ayurveda Habits

This is the final part in the 12-part series for 2015 on using Ayurveda lifestyle and dietary habits to support your New Year intentions and overall health and well-being. Make one change a month to embrace a healthier you!

In today’s modern world, cleansing and detox have become quite popular.  With our toxic lifestyles and world, the intention behind this is well founded.

Unfortunately, many of the modern cleanses are imbalanced and can actually further deplete the body and don’t offer any post-cleansing instructions to maintain that health.

To understand the background  perspective about Ayurveda cleansing, read my previous blog posts about The Role of a Cleanse in Disease Prevention and Health and How To Do A Healthy, Natural, Effective Cleanse.

Today I want to talk about how to incorporate some of the cleansing principles and practices into your life on a more regular basis.  Yes, doing a more extensive cleanse for 1-2 weeks a couple times a year is crucial for getting the toxic root causes of your dis-ease and imbalance out from the deeper pathways of the body.  However, since this series has been about lifestyle habits to support overall health, it is also important to remember the power of simple cleansing tools as part of your daily and weekly routine.

Jamie’s Five Favorite Regular Cleansing Tools

  1. Eat more dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, chard, beet greens, dandelion greens, and green cabbage.  These foods contain the bitter taste, one of the most missing today in our diets.  Yet this taste is a powerful detoxifying agent, helping to reduce weight and water retention and counter the excess of the sweet taste.  With the diet today loaded with obvious and hidden sugars, many people have become addicted to and overeat foods with the sweet taste. This is one reason why so many people have toxins today.  Lightly cook the greens with a dash of turmeric and fenugreek to add to the bitter balance.  Unless someone has a large vata imbalance, these greens can be consumed at least four times a week but are best cooked, not taken raw or cold as in a smoothie or juice.
  2. Use cooked apples, prunes and figs for breakfast to cleanse the bowels.  Having regular elimination is part of what brings the daily waste products out.  Prunes are well known to support regular elimination.  Soaking them or figs overnight is ideal.  Another option is to dice an apple and cook in 1/2 cup of water with 2-3 whole cloves on a low simmer covered until soft.  The cooked apples serves as a prebiotic, providing food to nourish your intestinal flora and fauna.  Ideally, have the fruits for breakfast three times a week.  If you are still hunger, after 30 minutes follow the fruit with a nice whole grain cooked cereal with all the good whole fiber.
  3. Enjoy a cup of cumin-corainder-fennel seed tea with your heaviest meal or even make a couple cups in the morning and put in a thermos to sip off and on throughout the day.  This tea has a mild diuretic action which cleanses the lymphatic tissue layer.  Those with more dryness in their body need to have less of it to avoid aggravating their inner dryness.  To make, take 1/3 tsp. each of dry roasted fennel, coriander and cumin seeds and steep in 1 cup of hot water for 5 minutes.  I sell the tea at my office as well, if it is easier to purchase than to make yourself.
  4. Do a 12 hour fast by refraining from eating snacks between dinner and breakfast and having your dinner earlier in the evening, ideally not past 6 pm.  One of the reasons Americans build toxins is by eating too late at night and/or by snacking after dinner.  Really allowing your body the time to fully digest the evening meal not only allows your systems to do their natural behind-the-scenes daily processing, but also gentle supports a healthy metabolism
  5. Drink enough water throughout the day. Water is one of the body’s most potent purifiers, flushing out toxins while boosting immunity. Lack of hydration creates an environment for toxic build up that can lead to disease. Part of your daily cleansing should through proper consumption of water, ideally filtered and pure. Having that water warm adds a deeper cleansing effect.

Along with the daily body therapies of self oil massage, body brushing, neti pot, and tongue scraping, these dietary habits give your body a solid foundation in cleansing the daily build up of toxins.

©2015, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Abundant You Life Coach

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Connect The Head & The Heart With The Samadhi Set

This is part of a 12-part series on using Ayurveda lifestyle and dietary habits to support your New Year intentions and overall health and well-being. Make one change a month to embrace a healthier you!

Ayurveda is a science that supports optimal health for a long, happy life.

Most people come initially to Ayurveda to support their physical health.  Along the way, they discover that health also extends to the mind for if the mind isn’t balanced, it is hard to make good choices to promote a healthy lifestyle which leads to optimal physical health!

What is lesser known is that the ultimate goal of Ayurveda (and yoga, it’s sister science) is to enjoy health on the spiritual level.  Having the body and mind balanced is a necessary step to then step into the conscious journey of spiritual enlightenment.

While the path of spiritual evolvement is just that – a path and ongoing journey – there are things you can do each day to connect the highest aspect of your mind with the heart, which is where the soul is said to live.  When you connect your pure soul energy with the most discerning wisdom of the mind, life is indeed sweet.  Sweet because you are living from a place of high integrity for yourself and others and good things are the natural result.  At least this is my experience!

First, know that in Ayurveda, the mind is seen to have four aspects:

  1. Manas – receives the external sensory sensations and stimulus as a passive  receptacle.  It is this aspect of the mind that is easily drawn to sensory gratification and pleasures.
  2. Ahamkara – the ego or I-separation which is what is allowing our spiritual, all connected being to be living this separate, human experience.  This is the aspect of the mind that holds the conditioning of life.
  3. Chitta – the larger consciousness of all which acts as kind of a subtext for larger knowing.
  4. Buddhi – this is considered the inner wisdom or higher intellect and is also connected with a neutral mind.

All meditation techniques help develop and strengthen the neutral mind and buddhi and connect this wisdom to the essence of the soul.  We connect in to this higher wisdom to support our conscious response to life rather than reacting to sensory influences or ego-based conditioning.

And as great as meditation is, for some people it is hard to hold consistently.

cloud_heartAn alternative tool that I find very effective and easy to connect head and heart is a practice called the Samadhi Set using herbalized transdermal creams on different marma or energy points.  This specific technique with the transdermals comes from an Ayurveda doctor, Vaidya Mishra, who’s lineage practices a form of vibrational Ayurveda.

Samadhi means bliss but can also be translated as the “balanced coordination between the mind and the soul.”

Samadhi Set Instructions

  1. Apply a small amount of Ashoka or Arjuna cream on the center of your palms and soles of the feet. With the ring finger, lightly massage the cream 7-21 times in a clockwise circle about the size of a quarter on one hand. Then use your left thumb to press and lightly hold the point for 10-15 seconds. Repeat on the opposite hand and feet.
  2. Apply Brahmi cream just below the left wrist bone on the pulse area. Lightly go back and forth with your ring finger covering the area of 2” for 15-20 seconds then hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat on the right wrist.
  3. Apply Tulsi cream to Sthapani marma (the point between the eyebrows) with very light circles with no pressure. Do 7, 14 or 21 times then hold gently for 10-15 seconds.
  4. Apply Tulsi to the center of throat notch at the base of the throat (Kanth marma). Circle 7-21 times very lightly then hold very lightly for 10-15 seconds.
  5. Apply a small amount of Ashoka or Arjuna on the center of the chest, the heart chakra, and with the ring finger lightly massage the cream 7-21 times in a clockwise circle about the size of a quarter.

It is great to do this practice before meditation or bed.  However, I also like to apply as part of my morning ritual as part of setting my day.

The creams are available at Ayurveda Wellness and at Vaidya Mishra’s website.

©2015, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Abundant You Coach

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7 Simple Tools To Tap Into Your Gratitude

a simple act of gratitudeI recently read a book called “A Simple Act of Gratitude.”  It was on a book club consideration list that a client had given me since I’m always looking for more good reads.

I have always appreciated the power of gratitude as a tool for living in positive alignment with myself and others.  And this book provided yet another great tool to express and be in gratitude.  A tool that is missing so often in this day and age of emails and texts.

The tool – a simple thank you note.

You can read more about how this tool changed this one man’s life in the short, easy read.

For this month, I’d like to celebrate the tool of gratitude by sharing some of my favorites ways to tap into my gratitude.  They not only fill my heart and keep me focused on all the magnificence in my life, but also often bring a smile or love to others.  And how great is that!?

Jamie’s Seven Favorite Gratitude Tools

  1. Send thank you notes.  Since reading the book, I’ve picked up this practice again, not just for birthday and holiday gifts, but for all the ways people’s acts and connection support my life.  This past month I wrote notes for a friend being my walking buddy, for a staff member’s support, for bringing me food twice a week for over a year, for enjoying a game night hosted by a friend, for a new business buddy, for my husband being our tech guru and electronic researcher…and more.  Most of the time, the people I’ve given the cards to have been so touched, they’ve sent me something back!
  2. Bedtime gratitude stories.  I no longer have young kids to read to at bedtime.  Instead, as a lie with my light out and prepare for sleep, I silently go through my list of what I give thanks for on this day.  Much better than thinking about my to-do list for tomorrow!
  3. Transform unpleasant energy towards others with the Metta Meditation.  This isn’t totally how this tool of sending loving kindness is fully about since traditionally one repeats it to oneself, a teacher, someone you feel favorably about, someone you feel challenged by, and someone who is neutral (like a store clerk).  However, I like to use it when I am feeling challenged by a person – whether the random driver who doesn’t let me in when I signal or someone closer to me.  When I notice my frustration surfacing, I simply repeat in my mind to that person, “May you be filled with loving kindness, may you be well, may you be peaceful and at ease, may you be happy”.  Repeat 5-7 times and  watch the energy shift.
  4. Develop an attitude of gratitude.  This is a tool used regularly in my coaching practice.  By focusing on all the magnificence in your life and what is working, it allows you to be in the ongoing space of positivity and gratitude.  And from there, I find more of the same flows right in.
  5. Journal to flip a negative.  Part of my morning meditation practice is often to do a bit of journaling.  When I am connected to my highest source, I open my notebook and explore.  Sometimes my creativity pours out with business ideas.  Other times I’m processing something I feel challenged by.  I don’t repress the challenge, rather I let its voice and energy be heard and seen and then allow myself to create a new response or outcome I’d rather have.  Writing is a magical thing in which my mind starts with some awareness but as I write all sorts of pieces flow out onto the paper that I didn’t know I was even thinking about.
  6. Affirmations to do a quick tape change.  We all have patterns which are tied to mental beliefs and thoughts.  In changing patterns, I find it most effective to change the mental tapes and I love affirmations to do this.  I have a plethora of positive affirmations that I use in varying situations but one of my favorites is “I am the light of my soul – I am bountiful, I am beautiful, I am bliss – I am, I am.
  7. Breathing into my heart.  In the Vedic sciences of Ayurveda and yoga, the heart is seen to be the seat of the soul, our highest, purest self.  When I breath into this space, I connect to the light and love there to lift me up and bring me back into alignment with my greatest gratitude.

I hope that one of these tools might inspire you into a place of expanded gratitude that serves you.  And, if you have some favorite ways of being in gratitude, I’d love to hear yours!

©2015, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Abundant You Coach

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Claim the MORE of What You Want With Abundance Group Coaching

Who doesn’t want MORE of the good, feel good stuff and LESS of the not-so-good stuff?!

The only real question becomes what do you really want more of and how to get it. Too often as humans we focus on what we don’t want, like or isn’t working – and in doing so,  inadvertently keep creating that which you don’t want and get stuck in feeling bad.

The good news is that not only do you have a choice but you can gain the support, the tools and the structure to more yourself into what you really DO WANT.

Join the upcoming Expand Your Prosperity & Abundance Success Circle!

(c) Can Stock PhotoThis small group coaching program provides monthly support to clarify, create and experience the MORE you want in life, relationships and business.

All sessions are virtual via the phone for ease of access and no geographical barriers. The group session is via a conference call which may have a toll fee depending on your long distance phone service.

Benefits You’ll Receive for $125 Monthly Self Investment

  • 6 – 2 hours sessions of monthly group coaching via teleconference on the 1st Wednesday of the month from 9-11 am CST from October 7, 2015-March 2, 2016.  Each session you will receive 1:1 coaching  plus be guided in exploring your self needs while listening to the coaching of the others in the group.  You pay monthly but register and commit to the full six months.
  • Receive personal guidance to your inner answers, accountability monthly check in on your self commitments, and inspiration from the group.
  • Explore topics through shared tools to expand your abundance and break through your limitations!
  • Plus receive an additional 30 minute individual monthly coaching session for six month.  Scheduled privately with Jamie.
  • Bonus optional Kundalini Yoga meditation for prosperity individualized to your unique needs to practice and use at home to support your energies and intentions.
  • Self Discovery activities to support your highest success with your goals and harmony in your relationship by standing in a balanced self space.

Group is limited to 9 – REGISTER* TODAY to claim your space  or contact Jamie Durner @ 262-389-5835 for more information.

*** Abundance Prosperity Circle Registration ***

This Group Coaching Program is Right for You If You…

  1. Are ready, willing and able to be responsible for your own life.
  2. Are ready to claim your abundance!
  3. Have the time to commit to being in the group for the entire duration. If you have to miss occasionally due to the reality of life,  sessions are recorded.  However, as the circles participation oriented, attendance for the majority is a priority.
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Seasonal Shifts – Ayurveda Habits to Support your New Year Intentions

This is part of a 12-part series on using Ayurveda lifestyle and dietary habits to support your New Year intentions and overall health and well-being. Make one change a month to embrace a healthier you!

Ayurveda is a system of wellness that works with nature – the nature of who you are as a unique individual and the nature of the world including the seasons of life.

As such, staying balanced and enjoying optimal health means being aware of how the changing external environment is affecting you and making appropriate adjustments.  An important aspect of this is knowing how and when to make lifestyle and diet modifications during the different seasons on the year.

When To Do Seasonal Shifts

First, just because the season is changing, doesn’t mean you need to adopt a dosha reducing lifestyle to accommodate that specific season.  There are two important factors to consider in terms of the season – your vikruti or state of imbalance and your prakruti or core constitution.

We have all three of the doshas or life forces that make up our core nature or what is referred to in Ayurveda as prakruti.  When balanced, your constitutional nature is what you are care taking on an ongoing basis.

However, in addition to your constitution, we look at the doshas in relation to your current state of imbalance (if the doshas are not currently in sync with your constitutional dosha ratio you are seen to be out of balance in some form.).  This imbalance trumps your constitution in care in general though we are always striving to reduce the imbalance without disrupting the other doshas in an imbalancing way and we do this by keeping your constitution in mind.

Essentially, you pay more attention in regards to the seasons to your state of imbalance first and constitution second unless you are healthy and balanced.  See the two examples below.

  1. Whether you have an imbalance or vikruti that corresponds to the dosha(s) involved in the season.  For example, if you have a vata imbalance with symptoms of drier skin, regular gas, bloating and mild constipation, and an increase in anxiety and memory issues, you are going to want to make seasonal adjustments in the fall vata season here is WI.   However, with a vata imbalance, you would not necessarily follow a pitta reducing plan during the pitta summer season.
  2. If you are fairly balanced with not strong vikruti but one of your constitutional doshas corresponds with the season, you will make seasonal adjustments.  Sticking with our fall analogy, if you are a vata primary constitution or vata is part of a dual dosha or tri-doshic constitution, you would make appropriate shifts for fall by care taking vata.  On the other hand, if you are a primary kapha constitution coming into the fall vata season, you would not make vata adjustments unless you have a vata imbalance.

A Closer Look At The Doshas & The Seasons

The doshic aspects of seasons are reflected by the qualities that correspond to the doshas.

  • Vata has the qualities of COLD (biting and bitter and the coldest), dry, windy or lots of movement, variable or in flux, and light.  The variability aspect means that the seasonal transition itself, no matter the season, has some vata aspect to it.  In terms of the season itself, the season that is cold, windy and dry is classified as vata.  In the midwest, the vata season is late fall and most of winter.
  • Pitta has the qualities of HOT, slightly moist, light and sharp.  Warm/hot seasons with a little humidity are pitta seasons.  In the midwest, the pitta season is summer.
  • Kapha has the qualities of MOIST, heavy, cool, cloudy, and dull.  When the clouds roll in with lots of rain, gray and cool with humidity, this is the kapha season.  In the midwest, the kapha season is late spring usually.

The seasonal qualities can also mix creating dual dosha seasons such as a pitta-kapha season – hot with more humidity and heaviness of air like in the tropics.

Now that you have a glimpse of the seasons and whether you need to pay attention to a particular season based on your dosha imbalances or constitution, let’s talk about how to balance yourself in the seasons!

How To Balance Yourself In Each Season

  • In Ayurveda, things with similar qualities of the doshas will increase that dosha – LIKE = LIKE.  Vata is cold and dry so if you have ice cream and iced drinks and eat dry crackers and chips and go out in the cold wind with your head uncovered you will increase the vata within you.
  • Things of an opposite nature will lower or balance an excess dosha state – OPPOSITE = BALANCE.  To balance vata in the fall you would increase the qualities of warm and moist to counter the cold and dry qualities.

If the season you are going into corresponds to the imbalanced or constitutional dosha, you would then use the charts below to take actions to prevent the imbalance from worsening and/or staying in balance.

VATA PITTA KAPHA
Emphasize the opposing vata qualities of warm, moist, stable, heavy Emphasize the opposing pitta qualities of cool, heavy (nourishing), soft and slightly dry Emphasize the opposing kapha qualities of light, dry, stimulating, warm
  • Eat more oily/moist, cooked and moderately spiced foods
  • Have regular meal and sleep times
  • Drink plenty of warm liquids
  • Incorporate healthy fats such as ghee, olive, sesame and almond oil, avocados, and nuts
  • Minimize stimulants like caffeine, chocolate, and even over stimulating activities
  • Focus on gentle exercise done in a slower way
  • Enjoy grounding yoga, quiet meditation and gentle breathing exercises, ideally as part of the morning routine
  • Do a daily self oil massage with sesame oil
  • Surround yourself with warm colors such as red, yellow, orange, brown
  • Stay warm in general with proper clothing, warm baths and avoiding cold drafts and winds
  • Make time daily to rest and relax with nurturing activities
  • Slow down in general
    • Minimize overly salty and pickled foods, vinegars, yeasted foods, hard cheeses, cream, fried and hot spicy foods, and alcohol
    • Use moderate spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and fennel
    • Avoid exercising in the heat of the day
    • Walk away from conflict
    • Drink cooler or room temperature water
    • Do heart opening, cooling, quieting yoga postures, meditation, and breath exercises
    • Engage in more non-competitive activities
    • Use cooling colors – light greens, blues and white
    • Enjoy water-based activities and walking after sunset
    • Create a good balance between work and play
    • Quench your thirst with cooling drinks made with rose, peppermint, hibiscus and coriander as well as adding aloe vera juice to your water (1 Tbsp/8 oz)

;

  • Favor foods that are light, dry, and warm including corn, buckwheat, millet and less fatty animal products
  • Reduce heavy, oily, and cold foods including sugar products, heavy dairy, red meat, and wheat
  • Enjoy all spices except for salt, especially hot spices such as ginger, pepper and turmeric, to aid in digestion
  • Increase hot, spicy teas
  • Get moving with vigorous exercise daily
  • Mentally, challenge yourself with new activities
  • Use dry heat such as saunas and use at-home steam therapy
  • Do more warming, fast moving yoga styles
  • Go to bed early and wake before sunrise
  • Avoid daytime snoozes.
  • Avoid overeating, especially at night, and don’t eat when you are not hungry or between meals.
  • Increase giving, sharing, and letting go
  • Enjoy deep massage with drying powders and mustard oil

©2015, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Abundant You Coach

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Why Professional Coaching Works So Well

Over the past two months I’ve shared the first four of the seven primary pillars that make up the coaching structure.  This month, I will talk about the last three pillars that describe why coaching is so successful.

Per the International Coaching Federation, professional coaching is an ongoing relationship in which the coach partners “with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. The coach is responsible to support what the client wants to achieve, to encourage self-discovery, to elicit client-generated solutions and strategies, and to hold the client responsible and accountable. This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.”

To understand more fully what coaching is, how it works and why it is effective, I like to break down coaching in what I refer to as the seven primary pillars that make up the coaching structure. Read about the other four pillars in the first and second articles in this series.

PILLAR #5: Professional coaching is based on increasing awareness and responsibility.

All your outer results stemming from outer actions stem from internal mindsets.

Claiming the MORE of what you want in your life starts with seeing things from new perspectives and increasing your conscious awareness to make more effective choices. And behind these concepts lies one of the most important beliefs in coaching – that you as the individual are responsible for your life.

Holding this belief of self-responsibility gives the individual the power to BE the creator, to have the ability to makes changes, to take control. Though being responsible can feel a bit scary for many, it is an empowering place. In claiming this ownership of their life, individuals increase their ability to respond.

This is a very different place than, for example, working with a consultant. In that relationship, it is expected that the consultant gives advice, is responsible for the solution, and often times creates the end result product or plan implementation. But in coaching, it is the client that is asked to own the captain’s chair for guiding their ship. This tenant is so important, that having the ability to be self-responsible is a pre-requisite for being a coaching client.

PILLAR #6: Professional coaching supports forward movement and taking action.

Part of this expanded client role of responsibility is to take action. The coach guides this process by holding the focus on increased awareness in order to move towards what the clients wants. At the end of each session, the coach will ask the client to make self-requests or invite requests based on what they have heard the client say. These request often take the form of action steps or inquiries if an action step remains unclear. It is then up to the client to choose to accept the request, modify it, or choose one of their own to take as their self-commitment. The coach holds this commitment and supports the action through accountability by following up at the next session.

Moving forward is also a key part of coaching. The coach’s role for holding accountability with commitments is part of what distinguishes it from other support relationships like friends and family. While you might discuss plans and possibilities with those close to you, it is unlikely that the friend will stay connected, follow up, and help hold the space of accountability in the way that a professional coach does.

PILLAR #7: Professional coaching focuses on the present and supporting where you want to go.

Every supportive relationship has its own benefits and purposes and do not necessarily replace any of the others. The focus on the service in coaching is an important thing to consider compared to using another therapy or counseling option.

In therapy or counseling, much of the focus is on past experiences that are examined and seen as the cause of one’s behaviors. Healing the past experiences is seen to be a part of creating a different space for current life patterns. In coaching, while the past and its impacts are acknowledged and addressed briefly as needed, the focus is on meeting the client where they are at today. In raising the awareness and energy of what you want based on who you are now and where you to be, you are empowered to consciously be in the present moment to make new choices and create new patterns and results.

Focusing on the past can often keep one stuck on the energy of that story line, essentially re-living emotions and increasing the intensity of the cellular memory. Because what you focus on expands, keeping a focus on old storylines that don’t serve you adds to expanding that very energy you don’t want anymore.

By focusing on where you want to be and be going, you change the energy into a positive desire and creation energy.

If you have identified a need for any of these seven primary pillars of coaching, you can benefit from such service! In my coaching model we have a saying or tool called “you spot it, you got it.” This means when you are attracted to something you see, feel, hear or read, you have that piece inside of you and want more of it.

To explore more about Abundant You Coaching options, contact Jamie Durner at 262-389-5835 or explore on the website link above.

 ©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Bedtime Basics – Ayurveda Habits to Support your New Year Intentions

This is part of a 12-part series on using Ayurveda lifestyle and dietary habits to support your New Year intentions and overall health and well-being. Make one change a month to embrace a healthier you!

Part of the Ayurveda daily lifestyle centers around how to best make use of the different times of the day.  I talk about the different cycles of the day in the Leveraging the Cycles of the Day post.

One of the most important time cycles of the day connects with your bedtime.  The time of evening from 6-10 pm is governed by the kapha dosha which has the natural energies of heavy, slow, and stable.  You may not appreciate these qualities during your work day, but at night they support you in winding down and preparing to go to sleep.  And it is during sleep that your body does its daily processing, cleansing, and rejuvenating to have you feeling your best the next morning.

To not only make sure you enjoy a good night’s sleep but wake up feeling rested, keep these different tools and factors in mind.

  • Minimize stimulating activities later in the evening. The closer you get towards the 10 pm time period, the more quieting and relaxing you want your activities to be. This is not the time to be on the treadmill, watching intense and stimulating television, or getting your mind revved up by working on the computer.
  • Relax your body.  Many people have trouble sleeping because of tension and pain in the muscles.  Doing gentle stretching or movement like Qi Gong helps to release the built up tension in the body.  Another great tool is to lie on a foam roller or a set of tennis balls to give yourself a compression massage.
  • Relax your mind by practicing some long deep breathing or another breath exercise to down shift your stress response and enhance the relaxation response in the nervous system.  Just by breathing through the nose with a elongated inhale and exhale, you will create a relaxation response.  Doing 3-5 minutes is enough to shift gears but you could certainly enjoy up to 15 minutes as part of a bedtime routine.
  • Relax your body and mind with a warm bath with relaxing essential oils like lavender or rose.
  • Eating a lighter supper early will prevent your digestive system from having to work hard at a time it should be resting, too.  It is best to avoid animal proteins or wheat products past 6:30 pm as these are heavier and take longer and more effort to digest.
  • Have a cup of relaxing tea or warm milk.  Warm milk with a dash of cardamom and/or nutmeg helps sedate your nervous system.  Yes, the old tales are true!  If milk doesn’t work for your body, try Relaxed Mind by Yogi Tea, chamomile tea, or a blend like Sleepy Time by Celestial Seasonings.
  • Going to bed between 10-10:30 is the ideal time.  This is because as you move away from 10 pm, the more you move into the active, fiery energy of pitta.  Some people call this their “second wind” time but in Ayurveda it would be more accurate to say that your fire and energy are stoked and ready to go.  The problem is that this is the time your pitta energies naturally digest your experiences of the day and your liver does the behind the scenes cleansing.  If you are active during this time, you interrupt this natural cycle which creates toxins in the body and mind.

I recognize that there may be times when you will be up later due to social engagements, sick children, or special events.  But the more you can honor your body’s natural rhythms at night, the more natural energy you will have and the less you will need artificial stimulants like caffeine and sugar to wake you up.

©2015, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Abundance Coach

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Clients’ Creative Self Care Tools

One of the many aspects I love about working with clients is the brilliance I get to witness in their ideas and creativity.  As each of you has your own best answers, my job is to paint a picture of what I see and offer possibilities from the wellness model of Ayurveda, and then let your inner wisdom guide you to the best actual way of implanting your action.

And, we are often sparked by each other’s learnings and great ideas so I wanted to share a couple great ideas that some of my clients came up with.

All of these shared ideas tie in to last month’s post on integration and staying on track with self care.  You can have the best know how and information, but if you don’t use, you simply won’t get the result you’re looking for.

Pluck the Pleasure of the Day

Ayurveda has many wonderful tools to support you on a daily basis.  And sometimes the sheer quantity can feel overwhelming.

One client of mine recently came up with an idea to make a bouquet of her tools that gave her the most pleasure and then treating herself with her care by plucking one of the “flowers” from her bouquet.  Each day she would choose a flower of self care to gift herself.  One idea we discussed was to make a physical bouquet with different colored circle pieces of cardboard attached to a wooden dowel or popsicle stick and then put them in a vase.  Each cardboard circle had a self care tool on it that brought pleasurable result.

This idea serves as both a visual reminder of the self care tools as well as a tangible way to connect into a daily choice that creates pleasure.

Honor the Positive Feedback

Most of us pay attention to the body cues when they are giving us nudges of pain or discomfort.  I refer to this as the bodymind’s way of using a negative feedback pattern to make its voice heard and to get your attention.

This works well when you:

  1. Understand what the negative cue means
  2. Know how to respond to the cue to bring you back into balance, health, and comfort

However, what so often happens is once we take action and get the negative cue to go away, we stop doing the positive habit that keeps us feeling good and then end up back in pain and discomfort!

Client’s intention: to create more focus on the POSITIVE message of feeling good in her body to motivate her to stay aware and keep taking care of herself.

The solution: she got a dry erase board to set on her kitchen table which she would see every day.  She then put a phrase that started with MY BODY FEELS HAPPIEST WHEN… and would change every couple days or week what habit she was doing that brought her body health and goodness.

A few examples might be my body feels happiest when…

  •  I walk in the morning.
  • I drink enough water throughout the day.
  • I sit up straight and feel strong and able bodies.
  • I eat slowly and savor my food.

Creative solutions that help bring the fun, joy and pleasure into the good habits and care you offer yourself create another layer to stay consistent.  And as you know, using your tools is what makes things happen!

 ©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Abundance Coach at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Coaching’s Effective Model for Success Part 2

Last month in talking about how professional coaching works, I shared the first two of the seven primary pillars that make up the coaching structure.  This month, I will talk about another two pillars.

PILLAR #3: Professional coaching provides an ongoing relationship of support.

Results and change do not happen all at once. Coaching recognizes this fact and supports your need for accountability, breaking down your goal into manageable steps, and creating the space to make real-time adjustments to your plan as life happens.

Having a committed coaching relationship provides the structure, space and support to keep you on track, stay motivated, and move you forward in awareness and success.

The actual time period for coaching is determined between the client and coach. Some people find that an initial commitment of three to six months is effective. Others discover that the process is so powerful and supportive that they choose to work with coaches for extended time periods.  The results and differences in their business and lives are found to be well worth their self-investment. In fact, my master coaching teacher works with his clients on an annual contract basis with the expectation to continue for the entirety of the client’s working life and charges big bucks for the results he achieves with world changing visionaries!

The time period you need is part of what you co-design with your coach. It is common to start with a minimum time period of two to three months to lay a solid foundation and establish new habits and create success.  But each coach and client will have different expectations and needs around timing and this is part of what will help you decide if you fit with a particular coach.

PILLAR #4: Professional coaching provides holistic support.

At least this is the case in the style of coaching I practice.  Some coaching models focus on specific areas of one’s business or life. The reality, however, is that life is interconnected.  And a challenge in one compartment is often linked to and affected by another area of your life. As such, coaching can and often does, address multiple areas of your life, relationships, and business. It is a freeing space to know that you can talk about what is going on in any area of your life no matter what it relates to.

Clients learn to shift their challenges by expanding from another area in their life where they are finding success. You might come to address one topic only to enjoy greater fulfillment in many areas of your life!

To explore more about Abundant You Coaching options, contact Jamie Durner at 262-389-5835 or explore on the website link above.

 ©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Integrating Self Care – Ayurveda Habits to Support your New Year Intentions

This is part of a 12-part series on using Ayurveda lifestyle and dietary habits to support your New Year intentions and overall health and well-being. Make one change a month to embrace a healthier you!

It is by conscious design that instead of sharing another habit to play with this month, that I am taking a pause.  A pause from something new and instead inviting you to have more space to absorb what I’ve already given in past months.

As a Certified Ayurveda Practitioner one of the challenges I’m faced with is how to effectively be able to share the wisdom of a healthy lifestyle and have it not be overwhelming.  To support you in achieving your wellness and life fulfillment goals, I have found two aspects to be most successful – chunking down the learning and creating space and structure for integration.

Integration is especially important with Ayurveda because it is like learning a new language and view of the world.  Several factors play a role in successfully integrating new materials.  These include the repetition of the material, space and time to absorb and try out tools, ongoing support and feedback, and material to refer back to.

Those of you who have worked with me know that I am a big believer in handouts and written information!  Whether in a class or individually in my office, I give my clients information notebooks.  This is for referring back to as part of the ongoing integration.

Repetition happens not only through the actual process of doing a new habit over and over, but also through hearing the information in perhaps new ways or with a new ear several times.  The doing part comes from your own practice and is easiest is you pick just 1-2 things to really focus on at a time.  Making sure not to add in too many new pieces has proven to be most effective in turning a tool into a true habit.  Having a buddy or partner to support your new tools is another way to stay consistent.

Repetition might also be having ongoing individual sessions with a practitioner or being a part of a group class which meets weekly or monthly.  These ongoing structures  provide the space to try out your new learning and tools and then come back for further clarification feedback.  It also allows you to cycle back to the new information and take it in deeper or, in hearing it again, connect with it in a new way.  I sometimes have clients repeat a class program precisely for this reason.

Chunking it down is a term I first heard about in my coaching training.  It means breaking down a large goal into small steps that feel manageable and allow you to get started.  This idea applies to many aspects of life, not just coaching.

Most of you likely already have an overloaded scheduled and life.  Though you might feel passionate about your goals of wellness and life balance, getting there can seem overwhelming.  This entire series has been a form of chunking down the extensive repertoire of Ayurveda’s lifestyle and dietary recommendations.  All of them are effective.  But to ask you to do all of them at once?  You’d be backing right out the door!

With this month’s pause, it is a further opportunity to think back to the prior Ayurveda habits I’ve written about and see if you want to pick one and chunk it down even more.

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a repetition reminder of what has come before…

  • The power of the little burp – stopping eating at the first cue
  • Slowing down
  • The power of water
  • Tongue scraping
  • Flipping your main meal from dinner to lunch
  • Abhyanga self oil massage
  • Using the power of sound

If you’ve been keeping up with the monthly invitation to try these habits, give yourself a pat on the back.  You deserve it!  And now go back and try one again that maybe didn’t fully solidify.  Look at it with a beginner’s mind to see what else you might gain.  And enjoy the integrative pause for a month until another new habit gets offered up.

©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Professional Coach at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

 

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New Abundant Coaching Success Circles

Monthly support in a small group coaching format to integrate your tools, have self-accountability, and enjoy continued growth and maintenance to be your best YOU and claim the MORE of what you want.

Claiming your abundant life, wellness or business is a process that is best supported with ongoing support to accelerate your results and stay on track with your goals.  To support this need, knowing that individual coaching is not the right fit for everything all the time, Abundant You Coaching is delighted to offer small coaching formats.

Success Circle Format

Three groups exist to support different life, wellness and business needs.  Although each group has a different focus, each group has the same format as follows:

  • Monthly support in the form of either 2 hour group sessions or a 45 minute individual session.
  • Two months in a row, the group meets virtually via the phone or computer.
  • On the third month, each participant enjoys an individually scheduled 45 minute session to focus on your unique needs exclusively.
  • Access to participant only resources on my website are included.
  • Commitments are made on a quarterly basis to accommodate the group and individual support structure.
  • New participants, as space allows, are invited at the first new group meeting of each quarter.
  • To allow for proper individual support, groups are limited in size to 10 participants.

In the group sessions, each participant will have a period of time to share, get support, and claim their self-commitments for the following month.

Additionally, each month one individual will be supported in expanded coaching time to be supported by myself as the facilitator and through group support.

Groups are coaching-oriented, recognizing that each individual is their own best source of wisdom and answers.  Group participants will support one other by shining the light on each other’s magnificence, participating in brainstorming solution as called upon, and being inspired by each other’s stories.

Though no specific educational material is provided, participants can suggest topics or themes for further inquiry or discussion to be supported by myself as the facilitator.

Claim the Circle that is Right for Your YES!

Abundant Wellness Success Circle

This group is based on the Ayurveda model of wellness and is right for you if…

  • You have used Ayurveda previously by working individually with a practitioner or taking an Ayurveda class.
  • Are looking for regular support that fits easily into your busy life.
  • Want to stay consistent and on track with highest self-care.
  • Need more time and space to integrate and deepen your prior learning.

Knowing your core constitution and current state of imbalance is helpful but not required.

Abundant Life Success Circle

This group is right for you if…

  • Are an individual looking to leverage the powerful Fulfillment coaching model tools to experience the MORE in life – more fulfillment and prosperity, confidence and clarity, harmony in relationships, ease in the flow of your busy life, clarity and connection to your life purpose, optimal health, opportunity and growth in business or career.
  • Life is interconnected so all topics are there for support.
  • You are new to professional coaching and want to explore more.
  • You have used professional coaching before and know the benefits of it in staying on purpose in your life.

Abundant Business Success Circle

As an experienced sole proprietor in the holistic health industry, Jamie offers this group for sole proprietors or independent business owners working in any aspect of holistic wellness.

This group is right for you if…

  • You are an Ayurveda practitioner, naturopath, professional coach, bodyworker, acupuncturist, yoga teacher or therapist, and/or holistic counselor/therapist.
  • You are interested in enjoying a prosperous business and development business practices with ease from a place of inner wisdom merged with outer actions.
  • You want to be supported by other best business practices.
  • You are looking for collaborative support from other like-minded business professionals.
  • You are ready for MORE balance between business and personal life.

Though you might learn about and share business tools and discover fabulous people to connect with in business, this is NOT a networking group nor a business development class.  Jamie does offer a business foundations program through her work at Kanyakumari Ayurveda which is open to all wellness practitioners as well.  These class series offer basic business and marketing tools to create and sustain a successful private practice and can be taken in conjunction with this group if desired.

Once you find the group that best meets your need, email Jamie to find out about the application process and current availability.

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Professional Coaching’s Effective Model for Success

As a professional life, business and wellness coach at Abundant You Coaching, I adhere to the standards of coaching as designated by the International Coaching Federation.

Per the International Coaching Federation, professional coaching is an ongoing relationship in which the coach partners “with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. The coach is responsible to support what the client wants to achieve, to encourage self-discovery, to elicit client-generated solutions and strategies, and to hold the client responsible and accountable. This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.”

To understand more fully what coaching is, how it works and why it provides powerful and effective results, I like to break down coaching in what I refer to as the seven primary pillars.  These pillars make up the coaching structure and I will cover them in a series the next couple months.

PILLAR #1: Professional coaching provides a space to stop, interrupt your default patterns, and assess with a fresh perspective.

Coaching uses a unique and powerful mechanism for supporting you in achieving your goals and dreams. It is a place where you consistently make time in your busy life to…

  • Stop and slow down.
  • Pay attention and really listen to your inner cues and wisdom.
  • Speak out loud what you want more of and explore how to get it.
  • Agree to be responsible for your life and, in doing, assume the power to to make changes, create what you want today, and commit to supporting yourself.

All of these pull you out of your current patterns, many of which are likely not supporting you otherwise you would already have everything you want!

In pausing in the neutral, reflective and supportive space of coaching, you have the ability to consciously re-examine what’s happening and make choices to move you forward to your YES! Coaching provides the sustained focus to shift the old patterns and continues to support you in creating healthier behaviors until they become new, established habits.

PILLAR #2: Professional coaching is based on the idea that the individual is the best source of their own answers.

As mentioned above, the coaching space is used to help the individual re-connect with their inner wisdom. In the Fulfillment Coaching Model, in which I am trained and utilize, the inner resourceful place is linked up with the client’s individualized connection to Spirit, God, Divine Presence or however one chooses to call their larger connection.

While outside support can help the individual clarify their thoughts and add useful information on which to base decisions, ultimately it is the individual who knows themselves, their needs and their solutions. Within coaching, the individual is recognized and supported as the “source” for his/her own solution. This is self-affirming and empowering and leads to deeper self-trust and self-confidence. The process also yields more effective tangible results as follow through and commitments are higher when the solution comes from within and is aligned with your highest needs and values.

To explore more about Abundant You Coaching options, contact Jamie Durner at 262-389-5835 or explore on the website link above.

 ©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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The Not-To-Do List

Several years ago I came across the concept the “not-to-do list” and it recently resurfaced again in a conversation with a client.  I love when I’m given the opportunity to pull out something I haven’t thought about and bring it back into my light of awareness!

And I want to share this great tool with you.

So what is it?

Basically, it is a time management strategy to help prioritize your activities.  You take items on your usually over-flowing “to-do” list and consciously say “not today” to some of them.  And to carry the conscious thought process into concrete action, you literally write  them on a “not-to-do list”.  You might have a permanent “not-to-do” list or a temporary or short-term version.  

To me this is powerful on many levels.

First, it acknowledges to yourself that you cannot do everything right now.  This seems obvious, yet many are pulled by the expectation, desire, or sense of internal/external pressure to do so.  And those energies can distract you.  By making the list, you “surrender” into the reality that we don’t all have those magical Harry Potter clocks to allow us to be multiple places at once doing all sorts of things or have the clone of ourself to effectively be multi-tasking.  Yeah you for recognizing your limits!

Secondly, it gives you space to really decide what is important in any given moment.  By saying no to one task, activity or event, you open up the space to say YES to what is of higher priority.  Note here that higher priority can be on a tangible work level as well on an emotional, inner wisdom level.  For example, you might have an article due in two days but if you are mentally and physically exhausted, the priority right now might be the nap in the hammock.  However, by the next day, the article might have top billing!  To mean these inner and outer priorities need a balance.  Sometimes there are actual deadlines that need to be met and orienting the day to get those done first is most effective.  But knowing that there are usually more tasks waiting to take the place as soon as I cross off one to-do item, also means prioritizing recharge time.

Thirdly, the list allows you to set aside of things without fear of them being forgotten or lost.  I see many clients overwhelmed by life and lists and part of that overwhelm is an idea that if you don’t do something or act on some idea RIGHT NOW, you will miss out.  I used to have some of this energy and discovered a different attitude that serves me better – what feels right now is perfect and if something is meant to be, it will show up again.  That thought change helps with my overall approach, and the not-to-do list gives me a space or container to put my creatives ideas and not-as-important tasks somewhere that I cam come back to.

Lastly, I believe this No Thanks List gives us permission to let go of something that is a legitimate need but that we don’t have to take care of in this moment.  To recognize that we are bothered by things like a sink full of dirty dishes or the weeds sprouting up (again) but that it’s ok not to do them right now.  My recent client was pulled by a similar situation.  Working and in a new training program she was finding it hard to get her self-care in and generally feeling tired.  In trying to find a creative solution to taking care of herself, this list came up as way to let the household tasks go, for one night when she had class, and instead take those 30 minutes to meditate and recharge.

I’m sure there are many other powerful ways to use this list and I would love to hear some of your thoughts on this if you’re inspired to share!  For me, a habitual list maker and do-aholic, this tool has been a great way to shift my tasks in a way that effectively gets things done while lightening my heart and mind.

And for those who love lists, consider this one as possible priorities which might shift some other tasks or activities onto your “not-to-do” list.

today's to do list

 ©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salad

Roasted Corn & Black Bean SaladOne of my favorite summer salads for myself and for taking to potlucks.

When balanced, all the body types can enjoy this salad.  However, the garlic, raw onion, tomatoes, spinach and corn are all potential aggravators for pitta, especially on a hot summer day.  Omiting the garlic and onion, which I often do, and using baby spring greens instead of the spinach will decrease the pitta aggravating affect.

The larger black beans can be a little aggravating for vata as beans are astringent or drying in nature.  Making your own beans with extra soaking and cooking time and using a piece of kombu seaweed of pinch or asafetida while cooking the beans will help decrease the impact of the beans on vata.

Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • 1# frozen or fresh corn
  • 1 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1/3 c. red onion, chopped
  • 2 – 15 oz cans black beans or cooked equivalent
  • 3 Tbsp. sunflower oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 avocados, cut into ½” pieces
  • Baby spinach or mixed baby greens

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a bowl or on a sided 15 x 10 baking sheet, combine the oil and corn. Spread on the pan into a single layer and bake 18-22 minutes until the corn is a light golden brown. Stir every 5-10 minutes to prevent burning. Cool 10 minutes.
  3. While the corn is cooking, make the dressing and set aside. Combine the other salad ingredients in a bowl, adding the avocados last. When corn is cooled, add to the salad mix and toss with the dressing. Serve immediately on a bed of greens.
  4. If not serving immediately, refrigerate for up to 6 hours but don’t add cilantro, avocados or dressing until right before serving.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/roasted-corn-black-bean-salad

©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Coach at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Use the Power of Sound – Ayurveda Habits to Support your New Year Intentions

This is part of a 12-part series on using Ayurveda lifestyle and dietary habits to support your New Year intentions and overall health and well-being. Make one change a month to embrace a healthier you!

celebrationOur entire universe is in a constant state of vibration that manifest as sound, light, and energy. Among these manifestations, sound is considered the original form of all energy. As such, you could say that we live in a world of energy and that energy vibrates.

Your basic sensory system only picks up a small amount of these vibrations. Some vibrations create sounds audible to your ears while others, like thoughts, are silent sounds but which still act as an electro-magnetic vibration. The higher or less dense a vibration, the closer it is to the highest vibration – God or universal creation. Therefore, when you raise the vibration of your thoughts, words and expressions, the closer you become to experiencing and merging with your Infinite or Divine nature.

I often talk about connecting to and living from our highest selves. This relates to our Infinite or Divine nature in which we are fully in alignment with our very essence and truth and stand in a place of confident balance and inner rightness.

In fact, all of the tools in Ayurveda and yoga are really designed to help us be in this highest inner space.

And being in that space – which for me is freeing, empowering, makes life flow easily – can be tough to hang on to in this distracting, imbalancing, chaotic place we call modern life on earth.

Our mind wanders as is its nature, our ego clouds our perception, our senses entice us with all sorts of seemingly good treasures to partake in. And not all of that is bad. But over time, it can pull us of our centered core and create imbalance which leads to unhappiness in our body, mind and life.

A great tool to support a balanced mind and higher energetic vibration is mantra.

Mantras are combinations of syllables consciously received by the Rishis, or ancient spiritual people of India, through divinely inspired wisdom. By vibrating particular combination of sounds, you essentially tune in to different parts of the universal intelligence or consciousness. The words themselves also serve to focus the mind and the repetition of the sound restructures the patterns in the mind.

How Mantras Work

Every time you speak, you stimulate a combination of the 84 meridian points in the roof of your mouth with the tongue. Similar to a keyboard on your computer, these points tap in a message to your body’s computer or brain that is located within the area of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus receives the information from the sound and translates it into instructions that create a chemical response going to the body and mind. The hypothalamus is connected to the pituitary gland, which is considered to be the body’s master gland. The pituitary gland regulates your autonomic nervous system including functions such as hunger, thirst, body temperature, sleep cycles, moods, emotional behavior and libido. The changes in the brain also adjust and affect the endocrine system and metabolism which serve to develop the neutral balanced mind, strengthen the immune function, enhance intelligence and intuition, deepen compassion, and even conquer depression.

By stimulating these pressure points in a particular sequence through sound, you increase the secretion of the hypothalamus gland and bring about a change in your brain cells and response.   In other words, you affect the chemistry of the brain and you shift your state of mind, personality and ability to project your highest self.

Simply put, think of mantras as channels that change the vibratory channel or your energy and focus the mind.

Repetition is Key

Mantras are most often used as part of what is called Mantra Japa. Japa means repetition and it is through the repetition of the mantra, ideally on a daily basis, that you shift your vibration, clear the old cellular memory, change your story tapes. Our patterns, beliefs, and mindsets are there because we’ve been using them for a long time. To change the patterns, you will get best results by implementing a substitute pattern on a daily basis – or sometimes on an hourly or minute-by-minute basis depending on how often those old tapes are rotating!

Rosewood_malasMantra Japa is ideally done with mala beads which usually contain 108 beads – 108 being the number connected to the Infinite. The simple tool is used by moving over the meridian point in the thumb as it crosses each bead. A mantra or prayer is said with each bead movement. Different fingers can be used with the mala to relate to different parts of the brain. The act of turning the beads while reciting the mantra is extremely effective in keeping you in the present.   Equally important is that it keeps you grounded as you advance in meditation and helps you continually gain from the material properties of the beads.

Different materials of beads will give you different energetic effects. To give just two examples:

  • Sandalwood promotes promote tranquility, a sense of calmness, a positive frame of mind, and the ability to awaken
  • Jade supports health, longevity and prosperity by encouraging tranquility, wisdom and clarity; keeps worries at bay, has a positive effect on illnesses of organs around the heart such as lungs, liver and even kidneys; and is associated with the heart chakra.

If one doesn’t have a mala set, a timer used for about 3 minutes for short mantras are an option.

Mantras can be chanted out loud, in a whisper or silently in the mind – each way having a different effect. Depending on your needs, one way may feel better to you. Or, depending on the situation, using a silent Japa will be required so as not stand out in the crowd!

There are many different mantras one can use and for best results you might consider an individual sound meditation session with myself or a trained practitioner. This allows the practitioner to understand what your goals are and find effective possibilities for your change. You can also explore through books or online resources and simply see what “sounds good”!

For myself, I use mantra as part of my daily morning meditation practice as well as throughout the day to tune into energies I might need in any given more or to switch a tape I don’t need to have on. The mind needs a tool to harness it; otherwise it can run you ragged with trauma and drama that interferes with you being fully present with your best self.

To get you started, here are a couple of my favorite mantras:

  • Sat Nam: The most widely used mantra in the Kundalini yoga tradition is translated as truth is your identity; it awakens the soul and gives you your destiny; it also balances the give elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether.
  • Shrim: A mantra of love connected to the Goddess of beauty, Lakshmi; takes you into the heart, giving you faith and steadiness in your emotional self; promotes health and aids in fertility and rejuvenation as well as prosperity. It is one of the softest and safest mantras to use.
  • Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha: to remove obstacles, to support new beginning, to bless the start of any journey.
  • Aham Prema: I am love, connect to the energy of unconditional love for yourself and others.

Words have power.

Contrary to the old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me,” words absolutely have power. In his book, “The Hidden Messages in Water” the renowned Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto shows just how influential thoughts, words and feelings on to the earth and one’s personal health through his experiments with sound and water.

All words have power and create effects. As such, you are creating with every word you speak, and even with every word you think. Emotions such as happiness, sorry, joy, depression – which you may call attitudes – are fundamentally vibratory frequencies or thought waves.   And these waves create the show or story your mind is playing. AND you have the ability in any moment to change that story by changing your vibration. By chanting, whether you understand the actual words or not, you set in motion the vibrations to change the story, to effect your state of being.

In addition to using mantra as a re-programming, vibratory channel changing tool, be mindful of how your talk – to others and to yourself. Those thoughts and words are connected to energy which create action and results.

If you don’t like what’s happening in your body and life, take a look at your thoughts and words and flip the negative, dislikes to the positives wants! Positive affirmations are a great way to do this with Louise Hay, in my mind, being the queen of affirmations.

So have fun with an expanded view of sound – vocalized or silent – and let me know what you discover!

©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Beets & Greens

A yummy natural pairing of beets with their greens – a part that is often left off but so full of nutrients and the astringent and bitter tastes which are needed in our diet.

Beets are considered to have a sweet taste and a slightly warm virya or energetic relating to neutral, hot/warming, or cold/cooling.  They help build the blood, cleanse the bile, and support a healthy menstruation.  From a doshic perspective, beets decrease the vata dosha and increase in excess kapha dosha (due to the sweet taste) and pitta dosha (due to the warming nature). 

The beet greens energetically are similar to spinach which has a primary astringent taste with a secondary bitter taste.  The greens decrease kapha dosa and pitta dosha as long as not in excess and increase vata dosha.

In moderation, beets and their greens are a lovely addition to the diet for all the doshas.

Beets & Greens

Beets & Greens

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pound beets with greens

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub beets and remove greens. Either wrap whole beets in foil or cube and place in a pan. Roast in the oven until soft, approximately 45 minutes for whole or 25 minutes for chopped. When done, cool and if whole, peel. While beets are roasting, go on to the next two steps.
  2. To prepare the dressing, whisk tougher vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Then add 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a slow stream as you continue to whisk until well combined. Set aside.
  3. Wash and chop the beet greens and sauté in a heavy bottomed large skillet and cook until soft but not mushy or a dull color. When beets are down, mix in the dressing and serve on top of the cooked greens.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/beets-greens

©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Basil Sautéed Zucchini

A great summer recipe when the zucchini plant is bursting with abundance.  Last summer during this time I literally ate a zucchini a day for a couple weeks!

Although zucchini are found on the Kapha avoid or minimize list in food guidelines due to their higher water content, in moderation the vegetable can be enjoyed by all doshas.

Basil Sautéed Zucchini

Basil Sautéed Zucchini

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini, ¼” slices
  • 1 tsp. ghee
  • ½ tsp. dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp. soma salt

Instructions

  1. Melt ghee in a sauté pan with the basil and salt and sauté for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the cut zucchini and mix to coat.
  3. Cook on medium-low heat, flipping the zucchini every 3-4 minutes so both sides are evenly cooked. Cook until soft but not mushy.
  4. Can add additional vegetables but I recommend keeping the vegetable selection to no more than three to allow for the pure taste of the individual vegetables.
  5. One combination I enjoy is the zucchini with baby spinach. I cook the zucchini until almost done then add in the spinach for the last two minutes.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/basil-sauteed-zucchini

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Abhyanga Self Oil Massage – Ayurveda Habits to Support your New Year Intentions

This is part of a 12-part series on using Ayurveda lifestyle and dietary habits to support your New Year intentions and overall health and well-being. Make one change a month to embrace a healthier you!

“Oleation therapy is the best remedy for alleviating vata – the most important among all the doshas.” Caraka Samhita

One of my client’s favorite recommendations is the self oil massage called Abhyanga, which means means loving hands. This application of nourishing oils to support the skin, doshas, and lymph and nervous systems is a cornerstone of the daily Ayurvedic practices.

One of the first results my clients notice is how great their skin feels.  In our culture, we are used to putting on lotions and potions which often have many chemicals and products that don’t truly nourish the tissues.  Switching to oil truly protects and rejuvenates the skin from dryness, cracking and roughness, giving your skin a new level of softness and health.  Oil massage additionally supports the removal of excess fat from the skin, creates firmness to the limbs, and gives tone and vigor to the tissues.

But the benefits of this simple practice are more than skin deep.

Pitta_oilSpecific oils are recommended to individuals at different times based on their core constitution, the season, and any current imbalances they might be experiencing.  This daily practice balances or harmonizes all three doshas, especially the vata dosha, the internal energy which is the root behind many imbalances and symptoms in the body and mind.

Each oil – sesame, almond, sunflower, coconut – has different energetic properties that balance the different doshas.  Using such a simple base oil is effective for skin care, to caretake your core energetics, and to support the nervous system.  For deeper results, herbalized oils are utilized.  The herbs are cooked into the oil before being strained, feeding the benefits of herbs to your entire body via the skin, your largest organ.

The vata dosha governs the nervous system and its movement.  Vata by nature is cold, dry, light and constantly fluctuating or moving.  Oils by nature are heavy and oily which counter the light and dry nature of vata and support grounding the nervous system.  In your busy world, the nervous system is overtaxed and the oil self massages provide an excellent remedy for today’s modern stresses, decrease the effects of aging, and support the regulation of sleep.  Who couldn’t use a little more of those benefits!

Like any massage, abhyanga also works with the circulatory and lymph system.  Regular self massage helps to flush toxins and wastes out, circulates vital nutrients to the tissues and cells to promote overall health and longevity, and stimulates the internal organs.  Just like you exercise your muscles, you want to manually exercise your organs and tissues.

How to do Abhyanga

  1. Warm the oil recommended by your practitioner in its container in the bathroom sink or in a pot/cup of hot water. This takes just about 3-5 minutes if the bottle is small.  If you have a copper warming bowl, you can also use this to warm your oil which adds a lovely spa-like beauty to the process.  Do not microwave the oil. The oil should be pleasantly warm to the touch.
  1. You will be applying a small amount (about 2-4 Tbsp depending on the body size) of warm oil to your entire body. Massage the oil into your entire body, beginning with the extremities of the arms and legs and working toward the middle of the body. Use long strokes on the long bones and circular movements around your joints – which will be your tendency as it follows the natural contours of the body.   Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise circular motions. Ideally give yourself this loving massage for 5-20 minutes.  Once a week give a little extra attention to your scalp and feet. After massaging the feet, be sure to wash them before getting in the shower so you don’t slip.
  1. Let the oil feed your skin and tissues.  Leave the oil on for at least 5 minutes and ideally 20-60 minutes.  The longer you can leave it on, the better.  I like to put my oil on in the morning then go do my daily yoga and meditation, but you could do your morning cooking, clean up the kitchen, or any other activity while the oil sits.  If you are going to do other activities, have a set of “oil clothes” that you wear and wash a couple times a week.  These clothes will retain some of the oil feel and smell even with regular washing so you want to use older clothes.  I am on my second set of oil clothes, having thrown out my first ones after about 2 years.
  1. Take a warm, leisurely bath or shower after the allotted time.  The shower after the oil often initially confuses my clients who are used to applying lotion or product after showering.  In this case, the warm water opens the skin pores to draw in more of the oil and gently washes off the excess oil.  Use gentle soap under the arms and in the groin area and simply rinse off the rest of the body.  If you do body brushing before the oil massage, you will have removed superficial dirt and dead skin cells and do not need to use soap, which is drying, every day. It is good if a little oil remains. If you feel too oily, dry chickpea flour can be rubbed on the body in the shower to help remove the excess oil.
  1. Towel dry with a dedicated abhyanga towel. I say “dedicated” as this towel may accumulate oil and retain some oil odor, similar to the oil clothes but not as much.  As such, you do not want your towel to be your favorite, expensive one unless you’re choosing to add that gift to your self-nurturing!

When not to do abhyanga – there are times when you should not do this massage:

  • Over swollen, painful areas or masses without first talking to your practitioner
  • Over infected or broken skin
  • When you have acute fever, chills or flu
  • When you have acute indigestion or directly after taking purgatives or emetics, usually as part of a cleanse
  • During the menstrual cycle (can do very lightly and only for about 5 minutes) or pregnancy

Tips to Deal with Oil Accumulation

  • Have 2 abhyanga towels: one to sit on while doing your massage and the other to use when first getting out of the shower. I personally do not sit while doing my massage so I only use one towel coming out of the shower. If you are more comfortable sitting for the massage, a second towel is nice.
  • Adding a few tablespoons each of baking soda and vinegar to your oil towel and clothing load after the water is in will help remove the excess oil. You want to make sure to do this with water otherwise the volatile mix could eat damage the inside of your washer and/or your plumbing.
  • Keep a bottle of dish detergent in your shower or tub. When you’re done washing off, squirt a little on the floor and rub it around then let the shower water wash it down the drain. Doing this each time helps prevent accumulation of oil.
  • Though the traditional abhyanga recommends using 4-8 oz. of oil, modern plumbing has a hard time processing that quantity. I have my clients use a smaller amount like 2-4 Tbsp.

Short and Sweet Options

  • Though it is ideal to massage the body for 5 minutes and leave the oil on for at least 20 minutes, even a short massage with less soaking time will help. In a pinch, oiling and massaging just the feet will ground the nervous system.
  • Though doing abhyanga is the morning is ideal, if that doesn’t fit your schedule, the evening is another option which can be part of a soothing bedtime routine that supports issues such as restless sleep or insomnia.
  • Though this isn’t applicable for sesame or herbalized oils, you can use coconut (for pitta needs) or almond oil after the shower while the skin is still slightly damp and leave the oil on. These oils are lighter and have a gentle odor that won’t penetrate into your clothes.

 ©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Tap Into Your Inner Healing Resources

Your state of health comes down to how you are living on a day-to-day basis and what self-care resources you have integrated into your life.

While that statement is straight-forward and simple, putting it into action may not always feel that way!

Which is why Ayurveda Wellness offers several group programs – to help you not just learn supportive care resources and the theory behind them, but to learn how to apply them effectively to your unique wellness needs.  Concepts and healing resources are broken down into easy, digestible-sized formats that help you be successful is actually using them.  

AND the upcoming Ayurveda Energy Self-Healing program is coming right up in just one month!

  • Dates:  June 18th – August 13th, no class 7/2
  • Time: Thursdays from 9-11 am
  • Self Investment: $299 includes 8 – 2 hour classes + workbook
  • Location: Ayurveda Wellness, 240 Regency Ct., Ste 203, Brookfield, WI OR virtual option to listen/watch on your own pace and schedule

YOU HAVE THE POWER TO HEAL and support your energetic self with simple, easy-to-use tools! 

Ayurveda Energetic Self-Healing

Ayurveda Energetic Self-Healing

Don’t miss this opportunity to expand your understanding of your entire energetic system – including the relevance of the chakras, the koshas or body sheaths, the nadis or energetic channels, Prana or life force, Kundalini energy, the navel point, the doshas or three main life forces, and marma vital energy points.  The knowledge is great but the real fun is in learning  these self-healing tools to balance and maintain your well-being:

  • Pranayama: the power of the breath is one of the most effective and easy ways to support your nervous system and stress. Learn the many ways to use it to  create vibrant health, support your digest fire, expand inner peace, and enhance fulfillment.
  • Aromatherapy & Herbal Creams: basic use of aromatherapy and herbalized transdermal cream are used to support the marma or power energetic points.  Learn which points suit you current needs in relation to the doshas and how to use the products on specific marma points in safe and effective ways.
  • Sound therapy: through mantra as they relate to each of the chakras as well as the best ones to balance each dosha or life force energy, and how to use them to tether the mind and channel your highest vibration.  You will also actively play with affirmations as a way to harness the power of the mind and intention to stay focused and channel your energy on what you DO WANT.
  • Kundalini Yoga: each class incorporates simple yoga poses and exercises from the Kundalini yoga tradition which strengthens not just the physical body but the glandular system and the energetic forces.  Postures are offered for each of the chakras and related to the doshas to create the foundation for daily practice in as little as 15 minutes.
  • Marma: throughout the body you have vital energy points, similar to acupressure points in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In this program we will focus on key marma points to support the digestive, reproductive and nervous system.
  • Meditation & Visualization: use visual aids to balance and engage each of the 7 chakras as well as experiment with different types of meditation and begin to develop a daily practice.  Meditation is one of the most powerful tools in harnessing the mind and expanding consciousness.
  • Mudra: learn how special hand positions help you tap into your inner power and specific ways to boost healing to targeted areas of your body and life.
  • Full Body self- healing Ayurveda energy balancing sequences: fast and simple ways to cover your whole system at once to make a perfect daily tune-up tool.

REGISTER TODAY AND START YOUR TRANSFORMATION!

Contact Jamie at 262-389-5835 or jamiedurner@icloud.com and say “Yes, I’m ready to sign up to play with these fabulous energetic tools!”  You will then be sent  the registration form to return with payment and your spot will be secured.  Also free feel to talk to Jamie with additional questions.

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Kapha Support Products for Spring Support

In Ayurveda, each season is energetically linked to one or more of the doshas.  What this means is that the qualities of the season affect each of our internal energetic balances – potentially raising the doshas of vata, pitta, and kapha. 

Seasonal adjustments are most important if you have a larger amount of that’s season’s dosha inherent in your constitution or you have an imbalance in the dosha.  In terms of spring, this means that constitutionally you are a kapha dominant or dual kapha-pitta or kapha-vata constitution or you have a current kapha imbalance.  If this applies to you, making dietary and lifestyles changes along with using certain kapha reducing products can help maintain a healthy internal balance and reduce kapha-related symptoms.

When Kapha is out of balance, symptoms and conditions such as swelling, mucous congestion, excess weight, nausea and loss of appetite, and sluggishness, depression and lethargy result.

To support excess kapha, these products available through Ayurveda Wellness can be helpful.  

  • Kapha Massage Oil –  this combination of nine invigorating organic herbs in a base of organic sesame and sunflower oils make it the perfect blend to energize and mobilize the heavy nature of Kapha dosha.  Use with daily abhyanga self oil massage.
  • plastic netiNeti Pot and Cleansing Nasya Oil – because excess kapha tends to create excess mucus, especially in the sinuses, doing the practice of sinus irrigation with the net pot followed by inhaling oil with kapha appropriate herbs can support healthy sinuses.
  • soma saltSoma Saltnormally salt increases both the pitta and kapha doshas due to heating aspect and water retention action.  However, this cooling salt is more nurturing and balances all three doshas in moderation.
  • Sweet Ease: a formulated herbal product containing herbs such as guduchi, amalaki, sharudika, turmeric, neem and arjuna to reduce kapha specifically around the pancreatic function to promote  a healthy sugar balance and to help the body digest sweet, unctuous and heavy substances.  Balancing for PK but may aggravate V.
  • Trim Support: reduces kapha in the form of fat and water by support the pancreatic, splenic, hepatic and renal functions.  Along with with exercise and proper diet, Trim Support can help one achieve optimal weight and reduce cravings.
  • Digestive Boost: traditional Ayurveda formula containing black pepper, ginger and pippali (hot pepper) to stimulate a sluggish kapha digestive fire and support proper digestion .  Can be used by vata and pitta doshas on a meal basis – when having the occasional meal of heavy, sweet, and oily foods – but long term will create imbalance in these doshas.
  • Triphala Guggul: combines detoxification and rejuvenation to support clearing toxins, clearing channel congestion in the blood, GI tract and joints; promotes metabolism and a healthy digestive fire which aids in weight management.  Balancing for all doshas but the heat can aggravate pitta in excess or in certain seasons.
  • Punarnavadi Guggulu: is a traditional Ayurveda formula that balances kapha in the kidneys, hearts and joints by supporting the healthy elimination of liquids, circulation of lymph and blood, and balancing the water element.

As always, when using Ayurveda it is ideal to know your constitution and current state of the doshas.  Working with a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner initially can be helpful to understand yourself and have a guided plan tailored to your specific conditions and needs.

©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Tongue Scraping – Ayurveda Habits to Support your New Year Intentions

This is part of a 12-part series on using Ayurveda lifestyle and dietary habits to support your New Year intentions and overall health and well-being. Make one change a month to embrace a healthier you!

Part of the daily routine in Ayurveda includes tongue scraping. This is an important part of daily hygiene, just like brushing your teeth.  In addition to clearing toxins and freshening the mouth, the practice can provide information about your health and your habits. The oral cavity is also a main gateway between the body/mind and the environment and care of its health is important to general well-being.

The tongue should only be scraped in the morning on an empty stomach. Scraping at other times unduly stimulates the internal organs. 

Observe the Tongue

Each morning upon awakening, the tongue should be inspected for a coating. This coating is an indication of ama or toxicity in the system. 

First, note the quantity on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the heaviest amount of coating; the heavier the coating, the greater amount of ama or toxicity from undigested food. Also, note whether the entire tongue is coated which indicates systemic ama or whether just one part is coated. It is common for most today to have at least a slight coating at the back of the tongue, which is the area of the colon. This indicates a mild build up of undigested food in the stomach and small intestine that has gone into the colon. This level of ama is easier to remedy than systemic toxins. 

 If you wake up and smell last night’s meal, it means that the food is not yet thoroughly digested.  If there is a lot of coating on the tongue, it means there is much ama in the system, perhaps because you ate too late or dinner was hard to digest.  In either of these cases, don’t eat breakfast. Rather wait a couple hours for the food to finish being digested, supporting the process by starting the day with a glass of warm water with lime.  This process increases your awareness and puts you in contact with your body and the functioning of your system. By knowing what is happening, you have the power to create better health by altering your behavior.

Second, note the color of the coating which will tell you which dosha is connected to the toxins:

  • yellowish-green indicates Pitta
  • brownish-black indicates Vata
  • white indicates Kapha

How to Scrape the Tongue

Once you have completed your observations, it’s time to scrape the tongue.

copper tongue scraper

copper tongue scraper

Traditionally gold was used for vata, silver for pitta and copper for kapha. Due to the expense of gold and silver, these obviously aren’t practical options but copper is a great option for all bodytypes. Copper was traditionally believed to support lymphatic flow. Since the lymphatic system acts as the gatekeeper to the immune system, the copper scraper was seen to boost a healthy immune response. Copper also has antiseptic properties which neutralize the bad bacteria while providing enzymes needed for the good mouth microbes. Lastly, copper resists bacterial accumulation while not being used. A second good choice today, though it doesn’t have the antiseptic aspects, is stainless steel which doesn’t corrode. In a pinch if you’ve forgotten your handy tongue scraper, the back of a spoon can be used. 

Now that you have your scraper, first thing in the morning you want to gently scrape from the back or base of the tongue to the front in a forwards direction 7-14 times until the whole surface is scraped. You may not remove all of the coating if it is severe but that is okay. You do not want to excessively scrape in one sitting which can damage the taste buds so do no more than 14 times with gentle strokes.  I like to do 3 rounds of about 4 scrapes from front to back, rinsing off the coating in-between while looking at the color.

Follow the scraping with brushing and flossing the teeth and a large glass of water.

Benefits of Tongue Scraping

  • Removes toxins from the tongue. If this is not done, the toxins are swallowed back in to the system and adds to further clogging of the body’s channels. One word – yuck!  To me, this is one of the primary reasons to scrape – you don’t want more toxins stored in the body.
  • Wakes up the digestive fire and enzymes and aids digestion. Even though you have finished eating, digestion continues through the night. Scraping the tongue early in the morning massages the organs of the stomach, pancreas, liver, kidneys and intestines which helps to finish the digestive process and get the organs ready for a new day of digestion. As proper digestion is seen to be the foundation of physical health in Ayurveda, this simple practice can be a powerful tool to promoting vital health.
  • Eliminate better. Stimulating the taste buds activates the colon which promotes complete bowel elimination in the morning.
  • Freshens the breath. The mouth bacteria produces by-products called volatile sulfur compounds. These are linked to bad breath or halitosis. Scraping helps remove the bacteria and associated foul tastes and smells.
  • Enhances taste perception. When the coating is removed, you are able to taste your food better, increasing meal satisfaction and potentially eliminating the need for excessive taste stimulants from sugar, salt or excessive spices or condiments.
  • Allows for better communication between the food intelligence and the body/mind. A vital relationship with the outer environment is through food. Your food contains intelligence that is communicated and interpreted first in the mouth via the tongue receptors. If the tongue is coated, it can block the taste buds and this communication can be distorted. The intelligence of herbs, which are essentially subtle forms of foods, can also be negatively impacted by clogged taste buds. A clear, clean tongue promotes effective communication and allows the body/mind to receive healthy information.
  • Supports overall oral health. When the toxic coating remains on the tongue, it can act as a breeding ground for bacteria which can be a factor in periodontal problems, plaque build-up, tooth and gum decay.
  • Allows you to assess your health and monitor the results of your habits. By scraping the tongue daily, you stay in contact with your digestive system and overall health and can take proper action to maintain balance.

After reading the benefits, what’s not to like about tongue scraping?!  

It’s so easy – taking less than a minute – but yields numerous great results.

 ©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Barley Kitchari for Spring

In most areas of the United States, spring is considered the kapha season with a higher amount of moisture in the air, spring showers and gray clouds.  It can be a nice time for anyone to integrate some kapha reducing recipes but it is especially important to do so if you have a kapha dominant or dual constitution or have a kapha imbalance.

Using the treatment principle of opposite qualities lowering an excess in a dosha or life force, one would use qualities of dry, light and stimulating to combat the kapha nature or wet/oily, heavy and stable.  Barley is a drier and lighter grain and the spices used in the recipe are warm and stimulating to move the stable kapha.  

Barley Kitchari for Spring

Ingredients

  • 1 cup barley
  • 1/3 cup split yellow mung dal (beans)
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil or ghee
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ginger powder ( or substitute 1teaspoon fennel seeds to decrease pitta)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Soak the mung dal for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Thoroughly rinse the barley and mung dal twice.
  3. Put the barley, dal, sunflower oil, and water in a medium saucepan.
  4. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar.
  6. Add the spices after 15 minutes of cooking.
  7. Cook until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Alternatively, use a rice cooker and put in the oil then the spices and sauté for a couple minutes before adding rice, dal and water to cook.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/uncategorized/barley-kitchari-for-spring

 ©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Paneer

Paneer is a soft milk cheese and makes a nice vegetarian protein.  It is very easy to make and versatile in recipes.  My favorite way of using it is to make it then sauté the curds in ghee with Mum’s masala spice mix and add it to my grain and vegetables.  I have served this at many of my classes and it is always a bit hit.

Since this is a dairy product, it is considered heavier.  As such, it is best for vata and pitta pacifying but can be used by kapha constitutions in small amounts.

Paneer

Ingredients

  • 1 quart whole organic milk, ideally non-homogenized
  • 1 juice of organic lime

Instructions

  1. Gather your milk and your lime.
  2. Juice the lime and set aside.
  3. In a heavy bottom pot, bring milk to a light boil on a medium heat, stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn't burn.
  4. Once the milk is gently bubbling, add in the lime juice while stirring. The curds will separate from the whey while doing this for about a minute.
  5. Remove from head and pour through a fine mesh strainer over a bowl if you wish to save the whey.
  6. To aid in the removal of the whey to create a firm texture, put a small plate over the curds and put a can on the plate and place in the refrigerator for an hour.
  7. Once the curd or cheese is to the desired texture, simply cut and use.
  8. You can also use the curd right away in a crumble.

Notes

This makes one serving. For larger amounts to feed more people, double the recipe.

http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/paneer

 

Here is a short video showing how easy it is to make this tasty protein.

 ©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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The Benefits of the Ayurvedic Application of Herbs Through The Sinuses

The nasal passages are the doorways to the mind and senses, and are the first site where Prana, or life force energy, is absorbed through breathing. The nostrils also serve to purify the air so that it is better able to extract the life-energy from the air. If the nose is blocked or a person breathes through the mouth, this important cleansing does not happen. Any stagnant or congested space in the nose or sinuses provides a breeding ground for pathogens and further weakens the immune system.

The location of the nostrils is directly below the brain and, as such, they provide a direct entrance to and impact on the brain, the nervous system, and the senses. When the head is congested, the brain becomes dull, thinking becomes confused or muddled, memory is weakened and perception declines. The brain itself becomes stagnant. For the health of the brain and the whole nervous system, the right absorption of Prana in the head is important. And this depends upon the right functioning of the nostrils. This location also allows for a direct input of herbs through the sinuses through application of nasya.

Nasya is the administration of medications or herbs through the nasal passageways.

nasya applicationIn Ayurveda, this practice us used as a healing therapy to address conditions of the mind, the nervous system including the glands in the upper body, headaches, and sinuses issues. It is one of the easiest and quickest ways to directly receive effective results from herbs for a quick input into the blood stream and nervous system.  

Applying Nasya oil into your nostrils has many benefits.

  •  Creates a protective barrier so that allergens, pollutants and viruses do not enter the nasal mucosa directly.
  • Protects from the dryness of indoor heat and pacifies Vata Dosha which often creates dryness. When the epithelial tissues in the nostrils are moist, they are less susceptible to dryness, pollen, environmental allergens / pollutants, and nose bleeds due to dry air.
  • Depending on the specific herbs in the formula, it can positively benefit the head, nervous system, mental / emotional states, allergies, hormones, neck pain, headaches, post nasal drip, memory, insomnia, depression, tinnitus and more.

At Ayurveda Wellness, a wide variety of nasya oils are available.

shaktiveda logoA new line  oils from the Shaktiveda company have recently been introduced at Ayurveda Wellness.  These specialty Nasya oils are personally designed by Dr. Mary Jo Cravatta and made in small batches.  The tailored variety of oils provide wonderful options of therapy for vata, pitta and kapha imbalances in the mind.  They also offer safe and effective ways to treat hormonal and glandular imbalances without needing to go through the digestive system or liver, two key system which today are often overloaded and not functioning at their highest capacity.

All ingredients used are organic, come in a 1 oz bottle and have a self-investments of $.18.95. For best results, oils should be used in conjunction with an appropriate Ayurveda diet and lifestyle and as directed by a trained Ayurveda professional.

  • Allergy Relief Nasya: You will find this nasya oil to be soothing to dry or inflamed nasal passages and reduces the symptoms of allergy or hay fever. May be used all year round, but is especially beneficial whenever allergies are a concern. Ingredients: Bala, Ajwan, Boswellia, Haritaki, Licorice, Bibhitaki, Anantmoola, Amalaki in Organic Sunflower Oil, Vit E
  • Balance Within Nasya: This nasya oil is the companion to the herbal formula Healing Within. Applying several drops in each nostril several times per day will bring a sense of peace and emotional wellness. It is soothing to Pitta emotions and brings calmness to the heart. Ingredients: Jasmine, Rose, Helicrysum, Lotus in Almond Oil. Vit E.
  • Breathe Clear Nasya: This is a natural decongestant that addresses sinus, nasal, cold/flu symptoms. Great to use in the morning before Pranayama. Or use at bedtime to clear your nasal passages for better sleep. It loosens mucous without having a “stimulant” effect – therefore, it is not Vata disturbing. Ingredients: Ajwan, Bala, Vacha, Ginger, Licorice Propriety Blend of Essential Oils in Organic Sesame Oil, Vit E.
  • Depth of Being Nasya: This nasya oil is the companion to the herbal formula Lightness of Being. Applying several drops in each nostril in the morning or afternoon will increase focus, clarity, energy level, and improve expansion of awareness. It is great applied before meditation or yoga. Ingredients: Brahmi, Tulsi, Vacha in Organic Sesame Oil. Vit E.
  • Divine Intervention Nasya: Ideal to take before meditation, pranayama, or yoga – or any time. This Tri-Doshic Nasya Oil brings a sense of connection to the Divine – facilitates the release of old behaviors / patterns (Pragyaparad) that are keeping you from being your best. Assists in releasing addictions. Ingredients: Ashwagandha, Vacha, Shatavari, Tulsi, Guduchi, Bilva, Agnimantha, Shyonaka, Patala, Kashmari, Bruhati, Kantakari, Shalaparni, Prushniparni, Gokshura in Almond Oil, Vit E.
  • Luna Rejuv Nasya: To ease the physical & emotional symptoms of Post Menopausal Women. These phyto-hormonal herbs work synergistically together to assist the body / mind to bring greater balance. Many Menopausal women find that taking this formula before bed facilitates a better nights sleep.  Ingredients: Sesame oil, Maca, Kapi Kachu, Shatavari, Bringaraj, Vidari Kanda, Red Clover, Black Cohosh, Ashwagandha, Valerian, Skullcap.
  • Neuro-Pattern Release Nasya: Balancing to the brain wave patterns – releasing old thoughts / behaviors and allowing unwinding of cellular memory. After a period of use, you may experience a release of negativity and thoughts that no longer serve you. Ingredients: Tulsi, Rose, Arjuna, Vacha, Ashwagandha in Almond Oil, Vitamin E
  • Serenity Within Nasya: This nasya oil is the companion to the herbal formula Calm Within. Applying several drops in each nostril several times per day and in the evening will facilitate releasing stress, quiet the mind, and assist in relaxing the neck and shoulder area. Effective for relieving headache pain. When used before bed, it encourages a deeper nights sleep. Ingredients: Jatamamsi, Skullcap, Tagar, Ashwagandha, Valerian in Organic Sesame Oil. Vitamin E. 
  • Shanti Luna Nasya: Balancing to hormones of Menstruating women. It is especially effective during the 2 weeks before the period to assist with PMS. May also be used as a transdermal oil on inner wrists, breasts, abdomen, or inner thighs. Ingredients: Vitex, Guduchi, Wild Yam, Rose, Jasmine, Chamomile, Tulsi, Helichrysum, Lotus, Licorice, Turmeric, Barberry, Vacha, Ajwan in Almond Oil, Vit E.
  • Thyroid Relief Nasya: To assist the thyroid in becoming balanced May be used for either hypo or hyper thyroid. Best if combined with Thyroid Assist herbal formula. Ingredients: Kanchnar, Tulsi, Myrrh, Helichrysum, Vidari Kanda, Shilajit, Kelp in organic Sesame and Sunflower oil.

 ©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Flip Lunch & Dinner – Ayurveda Habits to Support your New Year Intentions

This is part of a 12-part series on using Ayurveda lifestyle and dietary habits to support your New Year intentions and overall health and well-being. Make one change a month to embrace a healthier you!

In addition to eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are no longer hungry, this month’s habit is one of the most balancing shifts you can make for your health and your weight.

In many traditional cultures and before the industrial age, the main meal of the day was mid-day and was referred to as dinner.  This was the time when the body needed to be refueled from the morning’s busy labors and provide the next dose of energy to get through the second half of the work day.  

This has always made logical sense to me.  We use most of our energy during the day, but right now many Americans eat the largest quantity and calories at night.  The result – extra weight the body can’t burn off, poor sleep from having too much in the belly before bad, sluggish energy from poor sleep, and the building of toxins which are the foundation of disease.

The timing of meals becomes even more compelling when you understand time periods from an Ayurvedic perspective and how it affects your body and mind.

In Ayurveda, the pitta dosha governs the time period from 10 am to 2 pm when the sun is highest and is when the digestive fire is strongest.  It is also the time when you actually taste food most fully. During this time, your body has the greatest capacity to digest heavier, more substantial foods – as long as the digestion is working correctly.  

No, this doesn’t mean you gorge yourself at noon. What it does mean is that you eat a substantial meal at noon to fortify your body and the right amount of your animal proteins, heavier grains like wheat, and dessert are best eaten at mid-day.  

Some fear that eating heavy at noon creates sluggish.  This can be due to what is being eaten – processed foods, excessively rich sauces, or simply too much quantity.  But it can also be the result of your digestive fire not being strong enough to process the heavy food as well as simply not eating in leisurely fashion and allowing the time and rest to process the food.

Eating in a slow, leisurely fashion was also a historic staple of the traditional “dinner” meal.  I recognize that this can be a bit of a challenge today when lunch hours are shorter and there is external or internal pressure to work through lunch.  The first step is to realize how important this meal is – both in terms of timing, content and manner – and commit to at least 20 minutes to eat quietly, away from work, in an ideally restful place.  Restful is important because your nervous system plays an important role in digestion.  If your mind is not focused on your food and you are rushing or stressed or skipping meals or eating on the fly, your stress response kicks in and releases cortisol hormones which produce free radicals.  These contribute to disease and interfere with the digestive process.

In addition to eating in a relaxed manner, literally resting  on your left  side briefly after the main meal followed by a short walk, will also alleviate  afternoon sleepiness.  You don’t want to take a long nap, just 5-10 minutes.  And if you don’t have the space to lie down, even leaning towards the left as you drive home from the restaurant or in your desk chair will help.

Brain Longevity Workshop with Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Natural Health PractitionerThe second important time frame with this habit is the vata afternoon time period from 2 – 6 pm.  Vata governs the nervous system and during this time it is activated and the brain is seeking fuel.  In fact, 80% of blood sugar is used to feed the brain.  So imagine that you have skipped lunch because of work or you’ve following the misguided principle of eating just a salad at lunch to stay lean.  Suddenly the afternoon rolls around and your brain is looking for fuel and there is not enough there.

Crisis!  This is literally seen as an emergency and your body sends the message to get quick energy.  And, as you might guess, quick energy comes in the form of fast, easy sugars that give that short burst of energy, spiking blood sugar but then dropping in a short while later.  

The result – afternoon sugar and energy cravings (usually caffeine in the form of coffee, sodas, or teas), fluctuating blood sugars, increasing addictions to false sources of energy via sugars and caffeine, sluggish afternoon mental functioning, and long term weight gain as the body stores fat to counter the next emergency.

Not only does your body need the fuel from a larger and balanced noon meal, but so does your brain!

The last time period in this interconnected pattern is the kapha time from 6 -10 pm.  Kapha by nature is heavy and during this evening period the body and mind are slowing down to prepare for sleep and the processing and digesting of the day’s experiences.  Not only is your energy winding down, but as the sun goes down, so does the flame and power of the digestive fire.  This is when you want to take a lighter meal.  What we now consider our dinner was once referred to as supper.  This meal at the end of the day was meant to be a small, supplemental meal.  The body doesn’t require the same energy at this time because the work load is less – unless of course you work a second or third shift job. In this case,  you will need to adjust according to your work schedule and make your light supper the meal at the end of your day.

This month, I invite you to play with the timing of your food and notice the difference.  What I know is that when you shift your main meal to the traditional “dinner” noontime hour and use a lighter supper at the end of the day, you can expect to enjoy these benefits…

  1. Your body has the ability to better digest heavy foods during this pitta time.
  2. Your body is appropriately fueled to carry you through the rest of your work day.
  3. You have fewer cravings in the later afternoon and, as such, take in less of the imbalances substances of caffeine and sugar.
  4. You are less likely to need to ground yourself with food in the evening which often happens when your “dinner” is too light and the body is wanting to counter the lightness with the heavy, solid nature of food.
  5. You body, through your afternoon activities can burn off or use the main meal food and leave less sitting in your system…and on your hips.  
  6. You sustain a more balanced weight.
  7. You sleep better with less food in the belly going to bed.
  8. You are less sluggish in the morning because the body has digested the food properly and you have slept better.
  9. Because your body is processing the food, you have less digestive issues and build fewer toxins – if you stop eating when you are no longer hungry and you make whole foods choices to support your hunger. 
  10. Because your food is processed better and you have less toxins, you have fewer symptoms and feel better overall.

©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Expand Your Health Through Food

40D celebration foodFood is something you all need and that you use every day. And how you use it – both in terms of the content and how you are eating – is considered the most important tool in Ayurveda in supporting your physical health.  When food is used with conscious attention and tailored to your unique needs, you enjoy a robust digestion and vitality, balanced emotions, a healthy and sustainable weight, and overall better health.  

Sounds great, right?!  It is AND it is easier to obtain than you may realize.  

Today there are many conflicting messages when it comes to food, health, diets…so many that change frequently that it is no wonder you might feel confused and frustrated.

You can transform this frustration and lack of optimal health with the guided support using 5,000 year old, time-tested techniques.

The upcoming program “Healthy Weight, Healthy You” which begins in May, combines the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda with coaching and practical ways to fit into modern life.  In this six week program you will discover the lost secrets of food and how to eat the way you were originally intended – according to your design and with natural joy. The benefits? A healthier body and more balanced relationships with yourself and food!

Each week Jamie will highlight a theme, provide clarification, offer coaching support, and provide quick, easy cooking tips and tasty new foods to sample. You also use a book with daily readings and activities to guide the process. Not only will you be able to rediscover yourself as you travel towards your ideal self, but also you will reinvigorate your metabolism, optimize your weight, awaken your energy and enliven your spirit.

The group is the place where you will celebrate successes and gain support with challenges, connect, get inspired, and re-energize your KEEP UP spirit! Past participants state that is the group that makes the program doable and keeps them engaged.

  • When: May 6th – June 10th, Wednesday from 11 am -12:30 pm
  • Self Investment: $199 includes simple kitchari lunch with snacks or virtual option $170 without food
  • Required Text: “40 Days to Enlightened Eating” $21.99, available through Ayurveda Wellness
  • Location: Center for Well-Being, 301 Cottonwood Avenue, Hartland, WI OR Virtual Option – if the timing or geography do not work for you schedule or location, you know have the option to access audio and video recordings along with a group forum to participate in the class. You simply register with Jamie like normal then receive the recordings after each class to use and stay connected. The forum serves as the place to post your questions, share your experiences, and stay connected.
  • Register: contact Jamie at 262-389-5835 or jamiedurner@icloud.com

Topic examples include:

  • What is your eating style?
  • It’s not how much you eat as much as what you’re eating
  • Samskaras – self-sabotaging eating patterns
  • Diet by Dosha
  • Eating and emotions, emotions and eating
  • Irrational fear of sweet, salt, fat, carbohydrates and dairy
  • Spiritual nutrition
  • Eating with love
  • The role of detoxification and the digestive pause
  • How your constitutional nature affects your weight and relationship with food
  • Gentle exercises, lifestyle and routine changes to support your body
  • New meal options and recipes
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Quinoa Flour Blondies

Unlike many gluten free recipes, this one uses quinoa flour instead of some of the starchier flours like rice.  Quinoa has more protein and along with the almond butter, it makes for a nourishing, grounding treat that suits vata and pitta doshas.

Quinoa Flour Blondies

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup smooth or crunchy natural almond butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sucanat or coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup quinoa flour (in natural-foods markets or make your own by grinding raw quinoa into a powder in a clean coffee grinder)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Enjoy Life dark mini chocolate chips (sweetened with evaporated cane juice)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray or sunflower oil.
  3. Beat butter and almond butter in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in eggs, sucanat or coconut sugar and vanilla.
  4. In a small bowl, blend together the quinoa flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool for 45 minutes before cutting into pieces. Let cool completely before storing. Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/quinoa-flour-blondies

©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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The Power of Water – Ayurveda Habits to Support your New Year Intentions

This is part of a 12-part series on using Ayurveda lifestyle and dietary habits to support your New Year intentions and overall health and well-being. Make one change a month to embrace a healthier you!

glass waterBelieve it or not, one of your most powerful tools for health is the basic substance made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom – better know as H2O or water.

The proper hydration of your body, primarily through the intake of pure water (versus the water content in foods and other liquids), is a vital factor for a long and healthy life. When you drink more water and less of the dehydrating liquids of coffee, caffeinated tea, sodas and alcohol, it supports your immune system, promotes healthy lubrication and ease of movement in all aspects of the bodymind, improves physical health and performance, and simply makes you feel better!

Yes, just being properly hydrated is a powerful medicine.

The body is largely made up of water. In fact, when a baby is born they are at the optimal level of 78% water which gives them the beautiful elasticity and flexibility we note in their movements as well as the soft and supple skin. Contrast this to the average person between the age of 50-60 whose body is less elastic, the skin is drier, the bones and tissues more brittle – who are measured as having only 50% water. This water loss is not something that happens overnight but rather is the result of long-term habits leading to chronic dehydration.

In Ayurveda, water relates to two interconnected concepts.

The first has to do with the tissue layer called Rasa. Rasa actually has many different meanings but one of them refers to the tissue connected to the body’s fluids. In western terminology, these body fluids are most closely connected with plasma and the lymph system. The rasa tissue or dhatu is the foundational building block for the other tissue layers including the blood, muscle, fat, bones, nerves, and reproductive tissues. When you have a fluid or lymphatic imbalance, it directly affects the health and quality of all the other tissue layers in the body. Not only that, the lymphatic system is intimately connected to your immunity via its role in collecting and removing waste from the tissues and organs. When lymphatic vessels become dry, constricted and stagnate, you are more susceptible to illness.

kapha water doshasThe second Ayurvedic water concept is around the dosha Kapha. Kapha is the life force made up of the elements of water and earth. Its earth aspect provides stability and structure. The water aspect promotes ease, lubrication and protection. Protection is this sense refers to how the lubrication protects against the dryness of the vata dosha and the heat of the pitta dosha. When our membranes do not have the right levels of lubrication they become susceptible to dryness from vata leading to dry skin, dry eyes, allergic reactions, constipation, muscles cramps and tightness, bone deterioration and more. Likewise, lack of healthy mucous and lubrication means there is no buffer against the acids and heat of pitta leading to burning sensations in membranes, acid intestinal conditions, and inflammation. The kapha water element also supports the digestive process, helping to break down sugars and proteins as well as move the food more smoothly through the process.

As you can see, lack of proper fluids not only leave you feeling thirsty, they affect the entire system.

Though there are several external factors that contribute to excess dryness such as forced air heating, air conditioning, dry climates, and a diet heavy in dry, processed foods, one of the primary aspects today is lack of simple hydration.

The good news is that you have control over you hydration! This article will help you frame the importance of hydration as well as ways to begin to consciously incorporate more into your life.

To understand how hydration in the body works, you need to know a bit of science – a small amount, I promise!

Due to its chemical make-up, water has a slight electrical charge to it making it a polar molecule. This polarity attracts things to it, specifically other polar substances like salts, sugars, vinegar, alcohol and many of the flavorings in food – all of which dissolve in water. This sticky nature is what makes water good for solutions and to act as a solvent in the body. However, the sticky quality that attracts other substances can also make it not able to be absorbed in the body as well.

Point to consider: not all beverages are hydrating.

Water passes in and out of the cells throughout the body via special hydration channels in the cell membrane called aquaporins. These channels are small. When the water is bogged down with sticky hitchhikers like sugars in sodas (17 tsp. in a 20-oz can of cola!) or juice, the molecules become too big to go through the small channels, which are designed to absorb just H2O. What happens is that the water passes over the cells rather than being able to go into them. This means the cells are not receiving the hydration they need. It also means you are drinking a lot and it goes right out the other end. You can be drinking fluids but still feel thirsty. 

Certain substances make this problem even worse. Sodas and their sugars, flavors and preservatives are too clumpy to smoothly fit through the small aquaporins. So while in theory there is a certain amount of water in all beverages, the other ingredients can prevent the body’s ability to pull out and use that pure water aspect. In addition, caffeine is also a diuretic which means it increases urine output so even more water is lost out the urinary channel. Most soft drinks also have an astringent taste which in Ayurveda is drying or contracting and amplifies the dehydrating affect. Any caffeinated beverage – tea, coffee, colas – will have this dehydrating effect because of the diuretic action and astringent taste. Though not astringent in taste, alcohol is also a strong diuretic.

With the vast array of beverages now loaded on the store shelves, you need to make conscious choices of whether your liquids are serving your hydration needs – or not. And it’s not just choosing between loaded liquids versus pure water, you need to consider your source of water as well.

Just as sugars and additives can add to the load of water preventing absorption, so too can chemicals in water create issues. The quality of water does make a difference. Though there is not space here to go into detail about water filtration and the different effects of water, these books can provide additional resources:

  • Water, The Ultimate Cure by Steve Meyerowitz
  • Your Water and Your Health by Allen Bank

A simple way to support better absorption is to use an inexpensive carbon filter (like the Brita water pitchers) and boil your water for 10-15 minutes. In Ayurveda, the boiling is seen to help make the water lighter and more refined to be effectively assimilated by the body. It has the added benefits of removing undesirable hitchhikers like excess chemicals, bacteria, heavy metals and minerals.

My clients are often pleasantly surprised with the results they get when they do my hydration recommendations – reducing alcohol, sodas and other caffeine substances, particularly at night. There is less disrupted sleep from trips to the bathroom, less leg cramping and restless leg issues because the muscles and nerves are not constricting from the dryness, and fewer hot flashes. With better sleep, they feel so good in the morning that they do not need coffee to jump start their day. Instead a cup of warm water with lime or lemon hydrates the body while gently waking up the digestive fire. Suddenly their bowels are flowing better, energy is higher, muscles are looser (remember babies and elasticity), and they feel much better overall.

It’s no wonder you feel better when you consider these basic functions of water:

  • Hydrates the cells
  • Keeps mucous membranes moist
  • Lubricates the joints and cushions bones and joints
  • Acts as a medium for transporting nutrients, including oxygen, to the cells
  • Is the medium for the removal of waste products and free radicals
  • Regulates body temperature and maintains the basal metabolic rate
  • Supports the immune system
  • Is a key ingredient in digestive juices
  • It even supports the DNA and the body’s ability to manufacture proteins for tissue growth and repair

Yes, it’s true – water has a magical, miraculous effect on many of your uncomfortable symptoms!

On the other hand, hen you are dehydrated, not only are you affecting the core functioning and well-being of the body, but you get to experience the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety, irritability, and depression
  • Cravings
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Constipation, heartburn, and colitis
  • Joint and muscle pain as well as fibromyalgia

If you continue this pattern over the long-term, you will end up with chronic emergency dehydration which shows up as diabetes, autoimmune diseases, psoriasis, lupus, and eczema as well as asthma and allergies. Asthma and allergies are triggered by dry tissues and the resulting histamine response which creates reactive mucous in an attempt to counter the dryness. Similarly, there are mucous layers in the stomach that protect against the acids. Lack of hydration can create basic stomachaches from the histamine response of excess mucous as well as more serious acid conditions like the heartburn and colitis listed above if the dryness persists.

So how do you know if you are getting enough hydration?

In addition to the absence of the above symptoms, you should be urinating at least six times a day and the color of the urine will be a pale or light yellow. If the urine is dark-colored or less frequent, it is a sign of mild hydration. Note that your first urination of the morning will be a little darker as you have been asleep for 6-9 hours or more. Feeling thirsty is also a sign of early dehydration.

There is not exact amount of water you should be drinking as there are many factors that come in to play – body size, types of food you’re eating, activity level, season and heat – but a general rule has been to divide your body weight in pounds by 2 and that is the amount of ounces of pure water to drink.  If you are exercising or exposed to heat, you will need to drink more to replace fluids lost.  In terms of constitutions in Ayurveda, typically vata needs a bit more water, pitta a moderate amount, and kapha a little less than average.  Because there are many variable, it is ideal to pay attention to how you feel and use your body cues.   In addition, pay attention not just to the incoming hydrating liquids but also dehydrating beverages, which you can read about in my earlier post on the hydration equation balance.  

Tips to stay hydrated:

  • Drink a full cup of water, ideally warm, first thing in the morning and about an hour before bed. Your body loses water at night during its normal detoxification processes and you are not taking anything in, so fill up before and after.
  • Keep water bottles, insulated tea cups or thermos bottles by your work area throughout the day to remind you to drink. It is better to sip throughout the day than to consume large amounts at once. These tools not only act as visual reminders but can help you assess the quantity you are drinking.
  • Don’t wait until you are thirsty. Get in the habit of drinking regularly. If you are just starting out, it may help to set reminders on electronic devices in addition to using the visual cues above.
  • Choose water or herbal tea most often instead of other beverage choices. Use caffeinated beverages and alcohol as treats rather than daily habits. Also keep in mind that while most herbal teas are hydrating like pure water, any tea that refers to cleansing or detoxifying will typically have a diuretic element and should not be used for regular hydration.
  • When drinking alcohol, alternate with a cup of water. This helps counter the dehydrating effect.
  • Drink room-temperature or warm water rather than iced water. Because cold creates constriction, your body is not able to absorb as the iced drink as well.
  • Drink a half hour before a meal or a couple hours after a meal but sip sparingly during the meal. If you drink too much at mealtime, it puts out your digestive fire and interferes with digestion.

 I hope that this inspires you to think of water as your friend and bring more of it into your life!

©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Valued Member Bodywork Special

As a part of the Ayurveda Wellness community, you receive early notice about programs and events as well as special offers.  It is my way of saying thank you and providing opportunities to explore further.

This month we are highlighting our expanded body therapy options, available with any of our four therapists, myself included.  When you book any body therapy or body therapy package, this month you get to choose from one of three bonus add-on treatments.  See details in the coupon below.

Each of the therapists have different availability as well as certain services that they offer.  This information is on the right side bar of all the body therapy pages as well as in the Meet the Ayurveda Bodyworkers page for your easy convenience.

Receive a FREE TREATMENT when you schedule your Ayurveda Body Therapy!

~ Indian Head Massage ~

 ~ Garshana Exfoliation Massage ~

 ~ Mind-Body Energy Balancing ~

 Book any Ayurveda body therapy by May 4, 2015 and mention this coupon to receive the complimentary add-on treatment of your choice with your body therapy.

Select any of the above treatments, valued at $30.

 

 

 

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Easy Rotating Whole Grain Pilafs

One of the things I see over and over in my practice is the dependency in the modern diet on processed grains without a lot of  comfort in using and familiarity with whole grains.  This is why I have so many whole grain recipes on my site – to help you incorporate more of them into your diet, develop your palate, and increase your ease in using grains that you may never have even heard of!

This basic formula allows you to use rice as a base mixed with different whole grains to come up with an endless variety of easy whole grain pilafs.  I use these on a weekly basis and eat them for lunch, dinner, and even breakfast.

Although in Ayurveda we use specific foods to balance the doshas, the ongoing best Ayurveda diet is simply based on whole foods – rotating grains, legumes, vegetables and such with the seasons or on a regular basis.  Rotating means that you don’t build an excess in any one food that can lead to an imbalance.

Know that while I’m supplying some ideas with these recipes, you can get creative and change spices, dried fruits and nuts/seeds in any way that appeals to you inner wisdom and tastebuds!

Whole Grain Pilafs

Combinations I enjoy are:

Basmati rice and quinoa with dried cranberries, cashews, 2 cardamom pods, and a pinch of saffron;

Basmati rice and millet with apricots, pumpkin seeds, 2 whole cloves, 1/4 inch cinnamon stick;

Basmati rice and buckwheat with cranberries, sunflower seeds or almonds, 1/2 tsp. dill, 1/4 tsp. chili powder, 1/4 tsp. coriander, and a pinch of turmeric;

Basmati rice and amaranth with chopped dates and/or figs, pecans, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, pinch nutmeg and 2 cardamom pods. Due the sweetness and the texture that amaranth makes which is stickier, I use this as a breakfast porridge.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c. white basmati rice (you can use brown basmati rice if your digestive system is strong enough but you will need to increase the water by another 1/2 - 3/4 cup)
  • 1/3 c. whole grain (quinoa, millet, buckwheat groats, amaranth)
  • 1 1/2 c. water or vegetable broth (can use more if you like the pilaf a little moister)
  • 1 Tbsp. dried fruit (cranberries, chopped apricots, figs or dates, cherries, unsweetened coconut)
  • 1 Tbsp. seeds or nuts (pumpkin seeds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pecans)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, ideally Soma salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • Additional spices to taste

Instructions

  1. Rinse the grains and put in a pot or rice cooker with the water or broth.
  2. Add dried fruits, seeds or nuts, and spices and stir.
  3. If using a rice cooker you simply press cook or start and then it will automatically turn off to the warm cycle when it is done. This is my favorite method as I can take the 3 minutes in the morning to get everything together, press the button, and head off to get ready for the rest of my day.
  4. Is cooking on the stove top, bring to a boil, then turn down to low, cover and cook for about 20 minutes.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/easy-rotating-whole-grain-pilafs

©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Millet Corn Cakes

Once a week I make some type of sweet breakfast like pancakes, oat waffles, or sprouted grain French toast.  As spring rolls around, I instinctively start to crave lighter options.  Instead of my hearty winter pancakes, this recipe comes back out for me.

Both millet and corn are considered lighter and drier grains in Ayurveda.  Since the spring season here in the midwest is related to the kapha dosha which is characterized by heavy, moist, and cool qualities, using light and dry grains helps to balance kapha.  This is most important if you have more kapha in your constitution or you are experiencing a kapha imbalance right now.

While this recipe is kapha pacifying or decreasing, it also doesn’t aggravate pitta and due to the oils and milk and warm, cooked nature, it isn’t very imbalancing to vata when eaten occasionally.   So no matter your dosha, this is a lovely recipe to add in to your breakfast rotation!

Millet Corn Cakes

Ingredients

  • ¼ c. maple syrup
  • 1 c. almond or cow’s milk (almond best to decrease kapha)
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. sunflower oil
  • 1+ c. cooked millet
  • 1 ¼ c. cornmeal
  • ½ c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ c. ground flaxseed*
  • 1 tsp. non-aluminum baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together and add to the dry ingredients. The batter thickens as it sits so continue to add more milk or water as needed.
  2. Cook as you normally would a pancake on a griddle but spread out the batter a bit more with a spoon due to the thicker batter consistency. These also take a little longer to cook than traditional pancakes.
  3. *If you don’t have flaxseed, you can increase the cornmeal to 1½ c.
  4. To make gluten-free, decrease the cornmeal to 1 cup and instead of the whole wheat pastry flour use ¼ c. arrowroot, ½ c. oat flour and 1/3 c. rice flour.
  5. My favorite way to have these is topped with ghee and homemade, warm, chunky applesauce.
  6. Though in Ayurveda it is ideal to eat food fresh for the highest amount of life force energy and to prevent the build up on toxins, you can freeze extras and pop them in the toaster for a quick breakfast.
http://ayurvedawellness.org/recipes/millet-corn-cakes

Check out more Kapha balancing recipes here to support your spring dietary needs today!

©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Coach at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Slowing Down – Ayurveda Habits to Support your New Year Intentions

This is part of a 12-part series on using Ayurveda lifestyle and dietary habits to support your New Year intentions and overall health and well-being. Make one change a month to embrace a healthier you!

Originally I was going to write about a completely different habit this month (which you will see next month instead). However, my time in India in participating in a Panchakarma healing retreat followed by teaching this past weekend on women’s reproductive health made me prioritize this month’s habit – slowing down – as the number two “need to have“.

This is actually something that I’ve written about several times before in different ways and not a new concept for me. But my trip to India and subsequent return showed me more about my own pattern and how deeply it continues to affect me.

In India, I had the incredible opportunity for the first real time to step outside of my life and focus 100% of healing, rejuvenating and being.  And I got to do this for two entire weeks! You can read all about my experience in this post.

Being in this nourishing, low activity environment was very powerful. I have long known that our overly busy lives that are out of sync with the natural rhythms are a big part of what creates imbalance. Going away to such a drastically different pace of life and coming back to two weeks of the super-busy-from-being-gone schedule forced me to see the pattern all too clearly – and really want to make a deeper change.

What happened that gave me the new wake-up call? 

Two things. First, I noticed towards the end of the second week back that my mental rejuvenation was starting to wear a bit thin around the edges. The thoughts and words that flowed so easily after Panchakarma were feeling more sluggish and slow to flow. This despite the fact that I had consistently been holding a nourishing morning practice of yoga, pranayama and meditation and going to bed early and getting plenty of sleep.

Second, two days ago I got wake up cue number two about a long time pattern I’ve been explore. This happened when instead of easily popping out of bed at around 5 am like I had been, I felt resistance – resistance to get up in general and resistance to get up and do my self- care routine. This was quite interesting to me as holding a consistent morning routine has been an ongoing challenge for the past many years. My morning Ayurveda-yoga routine is something I know serves me well and that I fully believe in, yet I hit these periods of resistance and fall out of sync.

So I really paid attention. Where was this sudden resistance coming from when I’d been feeling so good and content with the routine?

And then it hit me.

The first weekend back I was at home but busy catching up on household things. Then a non-stop week of clients, starting a new group Ayurveda program, and finishing up prepping for weekend of teacher. Then teaching the entire weekend and starting all over on Monday. By yesterday, when my resistance hit, I had been going full tilt for fourteen days with very little down time.

Seems pretty obvious as I write it and I’m sure as you read it!

My “resistance” is my inner wisdom saying, this is WAY TOO MUCH. Even though I was well rested from getting enough sleep, my underlying vitality was fatigued from doing so much. And at this point, even the activity of my nourishing self-care routine becomes yet another doing activity. And worse yet, by getting up early and doing my self-care, this also means that I often start my regular day of busyness on the early side.

Ok, Self. I really get it. You’ve told me before and I kind of saw it but this time the message is crystal clear.

To stay in balance and be able to hold the morning routine that is valuable to maintaining my health, I have to slow down. I have to stop doing so much during the day so that I am not wiped and wanting to nourish myself with too much food at night. I need more daytime down time so that in the morning I don’t have Activity Hangover.

So on Thursday I meditated bed, – skipping my daily Ayurveda sense routine, yoga, breath and chanting – then rolled back over to snuggle with my husband and went back to sleep. Then I stayed in bed another hour and read (good thing I didn’t start work until 10 am that day!). And today, I did my morning routine but choose to start an hour later, knowing that I had no clients, and didn’t start my office work until 10:15 am. And instead of trying to get to any more of my to-do items (and yes, the list is long!), as soon as I finish this post in hopefully five minutes, I’m stopping to have lunch and read the next couple hours. And Sunday I’m taking the day completely off to play and be. And going forward, I’m going to try to build in more daytime breaks and put a post-it at my desk with the big SLOW DOWN reminder to keep me inline as future temptations arise.

And, and, and…

It will still be an ongoing process for sure and I am honest enough to know that with my personality I will still be drawn to busy activity! But this time it does feel different. I feel not only do I get it at a deeper level and that I’m going to be able to hold it better this time.

Why? Because I know the true cost of this excessive activity in the long term.

I mentioned that I taught on the topic of the Female Reproductive System this past weekend, as part of my job on staff at Kanyakumari Ayurveda and Yoga in Glendale. The number one aspect to help balance the reproductive system and the hormones from the Ayurvedic perspective is to adjust one’s lifestyle and have less stress. There are specific stress reducing or remedying techniques but the underlying issue is that our lives are simply too busy. One can meditate and that helps. One can eat a more nourishing diet, exercise, do yoga, use aromatherapy – all of it helps with stress and imbalance. But they are all counter measures to a life that at its core is simply too busy. And until we really look at the busyness itself, the other measures will take the edge off, but not really give us the results we really want and need.

One of the resources that I talked about last weekend is a DVD called “Breast Cancer: The Path of Wellness & Healing”.   There are so many lovely holistic techniques discussed that many of the women refer to as being powerful tools in their healing. But the biggest thing these women talk about is that it took them getting breast cancer – brushing up against the possibility of death – to motivate them to make changes such as doing more tai chi, yoga, guided meditations, and SLOWING DOWN.

Look at any book or story about someone reaching the burnout stage or collapse and behind it you will most often see the long-term pattern of simply doing too much. Of burning the candle at both ends and supporting this imbalance with crutches like coffee, sugar, processed food, alcohol and drugs. At some point, that pattern of living on vitality credit comes down and things fall apart.

Slowing down is more than a single habit, I know. It is a change in perspective and a process of re-prioritizing one’s life. It will not happen overnight or all at once, yet for true health, happen it must.

And I invite you not to wait for the crisis before you make a start. Start somewhere small and keep building and shifting as your able. But start!

And support each other with reminders of why this is important and helping each other make our tasks lighter in any way we can. Share you story here of how you’re making changes in slowing down. Share your successes. Share your challenges.

And, with each of this year’s habit, focus and practice on it over the next month and see what happens.

©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

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Revitalized and Rejuvenated through India Panchakarma Healing Retreat

Many of you know that I facilitated and participated personally in a trip to India this January 2015 to a residential Panchakarma healing center.  I have been posting pictures on my Facebook page over the past week sharing some of my experiences – but couldn’t post all the lengthy details there!

My experience at Vaidyagram – where I enjoyed the cleansing rejuvenative therapies which are considered Ayurveda’s most powerful healing tools – was fabulous! And I’m excited to share about my process of nourishment and healing that continues even now that I’m home.

First, a little about the healing process itself. The goal of Panchakarma is to clear the body of toxins and excess, to reset the digestive system, and to ultimately balance the body, mind and spirit. There are several aspects at Vaidyagram that support this goal:

India 169

Vaidyagram breakfast

Diet: a simple vegetarian diet allows for the digestive system to rest and focus more of its energy on healing and cleansing. The food is mildly spiced by Indian standards but I found it to be quite tasty. Staples included congee (a watery rice porridge), green gram dal (mung beans), a variety of vegetables including beets, green beans, carrots, greens, white pumpkin and various squashes; chutneys and sauces that often went with dosa pancakes or idli cakes (both made from fermented rice and legumes). There was also fruit in the afternoon – pomegranate seeds, papaya or cooked Kerala bananas that are similar to plantains – and a spice tea several times a day to keep the digestive fire stoked. One of my favorite parts of a residential setting was being brought yummy food three times a day!  One of the benefits of this reduced diet was that I was able to appreciate the simple tastes and it was so easy to listen to when I had physically had enough, as there was no strong tongue pull to keep eating more!  It also gave me the opportunity to see how much my mind and tongue dominate my food choices and eating normally, and to see how little food my body really needs to sustain itself.

Herbal medicines: each person is assessed and given a variety of herbal medicines – with meals, first thing in the morning, and before bed. These medicines support the cleansing and rejuvenation process. We weren’t given details as to the ingredients or purposes. Some tasted better than others but all felt effective. Additional treatments would be added in as needed. For instance, a couple times I got a headache which was treated with an herbal paste applied to my forehead. It was cooling, soothing and very effective in quickly removing the problem! These paste treatments are called Lepas and can used to target symptoms in specific body areas and are something that I offer clients through my practice at Ayurveda Wellness.

Treatment table and room

Treatment table and room

Body therapies: based on each individual’s needs, different therapies are used to prepare the body in releasing toxins by lubricating the tissues, opening the channels, bringing toxins to the surface through sweat therapies and into the digestive system for release through either purgation (clearing from the small intestines through the elimination channels), therapeutic vomiting (to clear toxins from the stomach; this is not done often), or therapeutic enemas (to clear toxins from the colon).  The therapies I personally received were as follows:

  • The morning we arrived at Vaidyagram I had my initial consultation with my lead doctor who read my pulse, looked at my tongue, my eyes, my nails; took my weight and my blood pressure and asked lots of questions to ascertain my goals and my state of my doshas in order to plan my course of treatment.  Later in the afternoon, I then received my first treatment which was an abhyanga or warm oil massage,something I continued to receive daily along with the other therapies.  I love abhyangas.  There is something so nurturing about being massaged by significant quantities of warm oil.  I could feel the stress fading away and the muscles and mind relaxing.
  • The next four days, in addition to a short abhyanga, I received a technique called kshaya dhara.  Kshaya is a decoction made from herbs – like a warm herbal tea – and this is then poured over the body in several different positions by two therapists and rubbed over the body while a third therapist warms the recycled decoction.  My kshaya included an herbal compound called dashmoola, meaning ten roots, which helps to pacify and clear the vata dosha. The purpose was to help open the channels of the body to move out the toxins.  It was incredibly relaxing and soothing.
  • I had a pause of a day during an unexpected, shortened menses. Menstruation in Ayurveda is seen as a special monthly cleansing that women receive and it is very important not to interfere with the natural process so no medicines are given or therapies received during the main flow.  I ended up only missing one full day and by the next afternoon I was able to receive an abhyanga.
  • The following day I started 3 days of a treatment called Pizhichil.  In this treatment a cloth dipped in lukewarm medicated oil is squeezed over the body uniformly and then the oil rubbed smoothly over the body by two technicians.  This acted both to lubricate the body and melt the toxins and to bring the toxins out through a mild sweat therapy (swedana).  It also enhances muscular tone and re-tunes the entire nervous system.
  • Next came the main cleansing treatment – everything before was to prepare the body for clearing the toxins.  For my needs, I received 2 days of the Basti or medicinal cleansing enema in the colon.  The colon is the seat of vata and that was the main dosha being cleared from my body.  I first received the abhyanga then warmth was applied to my hips, belly and back before the enema was inserted.  With cleansing enemas, the liquid is meant to come out soon after application and is deeply cleansing and clearing to the entire colon.  Resting for the remainder of the morning follows.
  • The final treatment in any Panchakarma is call dinacharya which means daily practices. In this case, these are daily practices are aimed at the sense organs.  In addition to a full abhyanga, each of the senses of the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and throat are cleansed and cleared through various herbalized oils or smoke.  These practices are then encouraged to be continued at home, for when we cleanse on a daily basis, along with a healthy lifestyle, we don’t build and hold as many toxins.

Minimal activity: the ideal is to go into a space of zero activity so that the body and mind can focus all the energy and attention on healing. What does zero activity mean?  Ideally it means withdrawing the senses and the attachments that we often have through them and slowing down activity that engages the metabolic processes.

Simple rooms

Simple rooms

The environment at Vaidyagram is comfortable but simple – not monastic but definitely minimalistic.  Not being in a luxury setting with the typical T.V.s in the room allows one to step outside of our outer environment and focus inwardly. This is furthered by the recommendations to stay off electronics, reduce reading (and if one does to focus on spiritual reading), and even minimize talking or take a few days to the whole time in silence. One is encouraged to rest and reflect without actually sleeping during the day, which increases heaviness in the body and mind. Listening to spiritual or uplifting music or podcasts is a good activity. To support this inward, quiet focus, meals are taken in one’s room except for a once a week community dinner.

Though this is the ideal, the doctors also recognize that for the average westerner to come from the over-the-top busyness of our modern lives and go into zero activity is not always possible immediately. Just like it is challenging to go straight into silent meditation without first preparing the body and mind with yoga, breath exercising and chanting, so too Vaidyagram offers relaxing and spiritually-oriented activities to start one off. These activities include daily morning and evening chanting/prayer and breath exercises, mid-afternoon yoga nidra, late afternoon talks with the doctors about Ayurveda and Vedic philosophy as well as weekly events which include cooking classes, garden walks, and classes on how to make the take-home herbs.

This time around I chose a path of moderation between inward reflection and outer activity by doing the following:

  • read some but less than I normally would have and focused on books with a positive focus
  • checked my emails only a couple times to make sure I was connected to my family
  • went to most of the morning prayers but few of the evening ones and did my own morning meditation as well
  • participated in most of the doctor talks
  • skipped the yoga nidra and hung out by myself on the outdoor porch of our suite
  • wrote in my journal to process what was showing up
  • did two days of silence
  • minimized socializing
  • enjoyed the process of simply being

Next time around, which will be in 2017, I plan on reducing the outer activities even less, doing a week of silence, and trying to do longer periods of daily meditation.

So what did I achieve and come back with from Panchakarma?

As I sit here reflecting on the trip and my transition back home I am grateful for so many aspects of the trip. In a nutshell, I feel deeply refreshed and revitalized!

First off, I had some wonderful changes physically through the process that have continued at home. The diet and body therapies were nourishing and nurturing, giving my body had a general feeling of lightness (at the end this translated to a weight loss of 8 pounds), higher energy, deeper sleep, fewer muscle aches and less cracking in my joints.

The quiet and low activity along with the therapies gave me great inner benefits.   My brain and mental functioning became sharper, my heart calmer and more open, my emotions balanced, my responses to life smoother and less reactive, and I feel a deep sense of peace.

Though I am quite busy and active at home and was a little worried about all the open time and inactivity, I actually loved it. It was helpful to have some nourishing activities but really I was quite content with the slow schedule and not having anything to do!

I also really loved all that I didn’t have to pay attention to:

  • Cooking and cleaning: such a nice break to be fully taken care of since as a working mother, I often tend to be the caretaker
  • Hair and clothes: to minimize our luggage, many of us brought very few clothes and literally wore the same 2-3 outfits the entire 2 weeks at Vaidyagram.  Though we washed the clothes so they were clean, our attire was based on comfort and coolness and not fashion or variety.  Likewise, every day we received body therapies which inevitably included oil in the hair.  After the therapies, we were “washed” with a green gram paste that took out the excess oil and dirt, but there was plenty of oil left in the hair, which is actually seen as beneficial.  Shampooing the hair is discouraged due to the chemicals in almost all shampoos and soaps.  For me, I actually found it incredibly freeing to pay absolutely no attention to outer things like hair or clothes.  It was a shedding of this ego game I feel we are required to play in our world where there is greater emphasis on how we are seen from the outside.
  • A schedule or timeline: so often in our lives we are governed by work and home schedules. This is a reality of the pitta stage of life where we are working and raising our families that lessens when we retire. Being able to have a break from this busy stage of life is so vital in preventing burnout, breakdown, and unhappiness. While I take vacations every year, they are often busy in their own ways – visiting family, playing tourist. This inner retreat really allowed me to let go and rejuvenate in a way that vacations and other forms of fun relaxation do not.

The longer I am home and the more “normal” foods and busy activities come back into my life, the more I can feel some of the toxic signs of heaviness, aches, and mental dullness creeping back in – but they are mild. I am still maintaining much of what I received from Panchakarma but I am also highly aware that if I allow my lifestyle to go back to where it was, I will slide backwards into building toxins and the symptoms that come with them.

So from this process also comes greater awareness. I felt pretty healthy overall going into the process. Feeling the difference in my body and mind after Panchakarma, I realize that I had more toxins accumulated than I was aware of, which is often the case! We become accustomed to where we are and that includes our imbalances and symptoms. It is often not until we do a cleanse and step away from our “normal” life that we realize how certain foods or habits affect us and what symptoms they create in our bodies and minds.

My goal at this point is to explore how I can further refine my life habits to maintain more of what I gained and have less of the toxins and imbalance. It is easy to go away into an environment where the structure creates balance for you. It is more challenging to hold one’s own structure of balance, especially against the forces of modern life, food and each other’s rhythms. Each time I do a cleanse, and this was by far the most extensive one I have done, I try to deepen a couple of my healthy habits. This time around here’s what I’m taking away to expand:

  1. Going to bed earlier. The ideal in Ayurveda is to be asleep by 10ish. This is because the body starts its daily inner rejuvenation and processing at this time. Though I’ve never been a night owl, I was often going to bed closer to 10:30. To support my internal cleansing and be able to hold a consistent earlier morning wake up, I’ve been able to consistently go to bed between 9-9:30 pm since returning. Though there will naturally be those social occasions that will push this later, having this schedule as a regular habit feels supportive.
  2. Slowing down. This is something I’ve been working with for awhile but its importance became clearer after this trip. I talk about this in the monthly post about Ayurveda Habits to Support your New Year’s Intentions.

So there you have it. I admire those of you who have made it all the way through this lengthy posting. I hope it inspires you in some way on your journey of health and growth. If you want to know more about the theory of Panchakarma in general, check out this post.

 

©2015, Jamie Durner, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner & Wellness Educator at Ayurveda Wellness in Brookfield, WI

 

 

 

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