What is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is one of the most over used word of the last few years. We equate it with meditation and being quiet and on our own. Most of us think about mindfulness with dread and guilt because we know we should be doing it but it seems like something we just don’t have time for right now, life is just too hectic. However, mindfulness is simply being in the moment.

We can be in the moment whilst surrounded by others, eating, drinking, socialising, before sleep, whilst exercising, with the kids and of course in stressful situations like work, driving, travelling and basically anywhere at anytime!

There are so many studies, articles, blog posts, books and classes about mindfulness, but what are we looking for and how do we find it and make time for it? It is my wish to try and help you through the minefield!

The whole point of mindfulness, I believe, is to access and switch on the body’s rest and recovery mode. Have a look at my post on how the immune system works here. Most people (especially children) are wired into the fight or flight response long term. This has a massive impact on the body’s ability to repair and heal. Inflammation CANNOT we switched off when in fight or flight. How many of you can list some kind of inflammation (digestive weakness, skin issues, muscle aches and pains, back issues, immune weakness, hormone disruption, fatigue and energy issues, lack of libido, sleep issues and brain fog) among their symptoms of unease. Without even having a diagnosis, you can assume we all have inflammation and these symptoms from time to time, we need inflammation to survive and repair. the real problems come when these symptoms become the new normal, when we adjust to thinking that this is how life is. 

Mindfulness insta

Being mindful is first and foremost re-connecting to your body and listening and learning to what all of these symptoms are telling us- AND ACTUALLY RESPONDING.

So many of us think that there has to be a huge change to heal these symptoms, that a strict and impossible diet change has to happen, that a ‘detox’ needs to be done, that a radical upheaval of how we live our lives must be undertaken. So we make small term promises to ourselves to make changes tomorrow or next week, after New Years, in the Spring etc. However you can make a change right here and now.

  1. Feel your body sitting/standing/lying right now, nothing changes you are just checking in.

  2. Listen to your breath naturally and without effort coming in and out.

  3. Say ‘Thank you” to your body and repeat “I am safe”

Welcome to mindfulness, welcome to stopping everything for a second and being in the moment. Even just for a that short time. It is as simple as that. Be mindful as to how you feel, did anything change in that moment. Those tiny changes have a big ripple effect. You may have awakened your intuition a little, did your body prompt you to adjust your position spontaneously or to remember to do, say, take care of something in that moment? Your body will begin to let you know what it is you need to do if you take the time to listen, even for a second.

Once your body begins to return to rest and recovery and you change your beliefs slowly but surely towards self care and nourishment rather than punishment, guilt and shame for not doing more for your body, life will become easy.

In rest and recovery so much healing can begin. When you feel safe in your body and in your environment you can feel energy, motivation, hope, gratitude, faith and happiness. Mindfulness is simply the route to seeing your life for what it already is, wonderful and full of possibility. Not what it has been prior to this moment or even what it will be beyond right now. It is the ability to accept the past and release control over the future by being here now. Subconsciously if you believe life is hard, full of danger and work, where does joy fit in? If there is no joy how can there be health? Maybe it is hard to see life as wonderful, bring mindful can simply be the belief that there can and will be change, that you are open to finding joy, even if it is not in front of you right now.

Mindfulness is accepting that you actually have the ability to be happy even if it is not how you are feeling in this moment. That it is ok to feel what you feel now, that you can thank your body for the chance and opportunity to accept and therefore move forward. It is only when you feel your presence in the here and now that you can make changes. This is true for all ages and I have been teaching my kids mindfulness skills since they were babies so they have lifetime methods to adapt and react to their day to day lives. To try to build core beliefs based on the ability to change and have the responsibility to choose their own paths. Now I have co-written Inner Rainbow Mindfulness as a 7 week course directed at specific ages groups and adaptable for all. Soon to become an online course too.

Inner Rainbow logo (1)

What is Mindfulness pin

Lemon Sage Cordial

Lemon Sage Cordial

Lemon Sage Cordial

sage leaves Loula Natural

Sage has so many amazing benefits. It has seen to be effective at cooling down the body (especially during hot sweats) and reduce perspiration, it also helps to dry up excess phlegm and diarrhea.

It contains anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds which helps to protect and heal cells all through the body. This maintains good circulation of blood and flexibility of muscles and blood vessels throughout the body.

Read more about how and why Sage is so great here. I absolutely love the smell and taste of sage too.

 Lemon and sage cordial Loula Natural image1

Lemons are also amazing for the body. Rich in vitamin C, good for boosting the digestive system and restoring a ph balance to the body. Lemons stimulate the body and they go really well with Sage. Combined with the raw honey and water kefir, this cordial is great for an immune boost, hormone balance, is cooling and effective at helping to reduce any heat or irritability on the skin or in the digestive system. 

The water kefir helps you to absorb and digest the volatile oils in the sage and also help to support the body back to balance. To make it see here or check out my book- Culture Your Life.

Lemon and sage cordial Loula Natural image2

However, please consult your natural health provider if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, on blood thinners, or epileptic before using this recipe. It may have undesirable effects. As always listen to your body and try to take responsibility for your own health and knowing what your body needs.

Lemon Sage Cordial
A great cordial combining Sage, Lemon, Water Kefir and Raw Honey. An immune powerhouse and hormone balancer. Not to be used during pregnancy or breast feeding.
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Ingredients
  1. 5-6 Fresh Sage leaves or 1tsp dried organic sage
  2. 3 lemons- juiced
  3. 1tsp raw honey
  4. 1tbsp Water Kefir
Instructions
  1. Add all of the ingredients to a glass jar
  2. Leave out of the fridge for an hour or two then place in the fridge.
  3. Use 1-2 tbs of cordial to sparking water, warm water or filtered water.
  4. Also can be used to flavour water kefir or Kombucha
Notes
  1. Use sparingly. Good to help cool down the body- especially during a hot flush and also used to help balance hormones after breastfeeding.
  2. Gives an immune boost and can help to dry up excess phlegm and soothe sore throats. Also good for dental health especially chewing the sage leaves.
Loula Natural http://loulanatural.com/
Check out some of my other homemade recipes and articles for natural health;

Elderberry Cordial

Hibiscus, lemon, ginger and honey tea

Lemon, Orange and Ginger Curd

5 reasons to make Kefir

Kefir Gummies

5 Reasons to brew Kombucha

How the Immune System Works

How do I naturally boost my immune system

How to choose Essential Oils

Lemon and sage cordial Loula Natural Pin 

 

Loula Reviews Microbirth

Loula Reviews Microbirth

Loula Reviews Microbirth

On the 20th of September (2014), One World Birth put together a worldwide premier of their new documentary- Microbirth. It was a clever way of getting small groups together to hold screenings around the globe to try to get people together to watch and be able to ask questions. Groups were held by midwives, doulas and professionals surrounding pregnancy. I heard about it through my Doula friend Kathy Kitzis, who knew with my passion for bacteria, how much I would love the film. We held the screening together and I was excited to watch it and now review it for you to encourage you to watch it too.

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The film contains information from scientist and researchers talking about their latest work into understanding why we as a global community are getting so sick.

“we are amazing… we have never been sicker, and it is going to get worse.”

These are sentiments that I tend to start all of my courses and client sessions with. It was so refreshing and motivating to hear what I as a Naturopath have been experiencing throughout my almost 6 years of practicing. How come with all the technology and research out there, we not recognising what is staring us in the face. Our modern health care system is not coping and by and large not working.

What the film goes on to talk about is ‘non-communicable diseases’ they name some; asthma, cancer, mental disorders, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and so on. What I tend to categorize and are also known as; chronic disease. Through my own research to help my clients, family and friends find the cause of their chronic conditions, I have also come to similar conclusions as the films main purpose. It is all about the health and balance of our internal environment. Especially the balance and existence of bacteria in our body and in the environment surrounding us.

“Cost of treatment (for noncommunicable diseases) is $47 trillion by 2030…staggering”

“60% of all deaths” are caused by non-communicable diseases and it is estimated that it is on the rise- 17% over the next decade. The film cites predictions that the cost of providing care using the modern healthcare system is set to bankrupt the world economies by the year 2030. My response as a natural health care practitioner is, of course, that this is not surprising. We in the natural health community have been saying the same thing for years and we have been actively trying to get people to take responsibility for their own health. No longer expecting doctors and pharmaceutical companies to come up with another magic pill which isn’t so magical anymore. Changing to real food, remedies directly found in nature, fermenting, dealing with societies pressures, stress and being able to balance emotions. All of these require us to take responsibility and make different choices in our lives.

What was so encouraging about the film is that is is centred around motivating people and explaining how to change the possible very starting point of our problems. Getting the seeding right in our babies. This may set the rest of their potential future health in stone through three key things- vaginal births, skin to skin when born and breastfeeding for at least 6 months. These are all things we are very, very aware of. The film helps you to really stop and think about just how crucial these 3 things are to the future of our children and children’s, children. If at not all 3 then you at least consider the implications and try to include at least 2.

“we are a walking ecosystem…an ecosystem under threat”

Antibiotics are said to have achieved great things, but they are also overused and over relied upon. Combined with hand sanitising and cleaning products we have been waging war on the very beings who are their to keep us safe and alive. With the predictions being that half of the net worth of the world will have to be spent on health care we also have to consider that we will also become an invalid society. One that is too sick to work, without the caretakers or facilities able to look after us. This is a very real prediction, but we can make changes and we can do it very easily. 

The film suggests we have one chance, at birth, to get this microbial environment correct. This is something I largely disagree with. Our internal and external environment is constantly changing and the film talks about epigenetics (see here for Brue Lipton, here for his book and here for a list of other books for more information on that). Epigenetics is the idea that genes (which dictate how our cells are formed) can turn off and turn on. In effect, we can change our gene expression but also our overall health. This can be done very easily by ensuring that we create an environment which switches off the so called destructive (some call them survival genes) and switch on the genes which allow the body to go back to normal- back to balance.

“losing our maternal heritage…we do not know what the implications of this is yet”

 

This is very exciting and the film merely touches on this as a way to show us that bacteria play a huge role in epigenetics, as does pregnancy and perhaps normal labour. So we can help our future generations by ensuring that we know while we are indeed preparing to get pregnant and whilst pregnant the gene expression we switch on and off with our babies is possible. A large part of this is suggested in natural, unassisted, unprovoked and tampered with labour. 

The film touches on the idea that stress may be necessary for the fetus to switch on their immune system. That c-sections not only take away the ability for the baby to gain the necessary seeding of bacteria through the birth canal on their skin and in their mouth, but also they do not go through the ‘trauma’ of childbirth which is necessary for them to know what is safe and what is not. This is also affected by them not being allowed skin to skin with their mother in their first moments. Not only is skin to skin necessary to further seed them with bacteria from your skin but it can also regulate and stimulate their hormone production which allows them to calm down, to regulate their blood sugar levels and their instinct of hunger to then seek out the mothers nipple to being the third phase in seeding, breastfeeding.

It is exciting that people are talking in this way with several studies backing up their ideas, and not shying away from the risk of offending people who choose c-sections. Of course they all agree that sometimes c-sections are very necessary in come cases, but that they were never supposed to be an option to choose from. The rate at which elective c-sections is rising is completely alarming and can no longer be ignored as a factor towards the person’s future health. In that way it is very exciting that the film talks to a scientist currently conducting experiments into using a gauze swab which collects bacteria from the mothers vagina to be used following a c-section. The gauze is then rubbed over the baby and in their mouth trying to replicate at least one factor of the birthing process. 

“their (bacteria) function should not be underestimated…we cannot cut out species and expect to still be balanced…we have lost about a 1/3 of our diversity…diversity protects us”

What comes across very strongly, which motivates me further, is the encouragement to see bacteria differently. For me it is my passion to see people fermenting and re balancing their bacterial levels in treatment of their chronic (non-communicable) diseases. That we are walking eco-systems. Bacteria make us normal and that we should be 90% bacteria. That fact “connects us to the universe a bit more” and I loved that about this film. 

A baby with a c-section, especially those who are then fed formula are potentially at risk for some very serious long term complications. They may be picking up bacteria from an imbalanced environment, especially in a hospital. Their immune training if incorrect right at the beginning may or may not be possible to correct. It is seen to then go on to affect all tissue from brain development to muscle and mucosal lining development. These children and of course now adults born in this way must consider retraining and modulating their bodies systems by correcting their bacterial balance. The fact that breast milk provides, not only, bacteria and nutrients but also the very food source to nurture our bacterial counterparts at the same time. This is huge in support of giving baby what nature intended. I hope it helps motivate mums to keep trying and seek support. Otherwise to consider homemade formula and the very least probiotics for their babies.

So you dont have to be pregnant or working with pregnant women to gain something from watching this film. We dont have to contribute to the potential bankruptcy of the world as we know it. We can make big changes by turning to some micro-organisms. Seek out your local fermenting classes now! I dont believe that at birth it is the only chance for change but I am happy to promote that is it is a huge chance to start to change what you think about health and the future of our children and their children is actually in our hands.

“We cannot afford to wait”

Let me know if you watched the film and what you thought about it…

Loula Reviews Microbirth Pin

How do I choose Essential oils?

5 steps How to choose your perfect essential oil Loula Natural

There is lots of essential oils information out there- there are many essential oil companies out there too.

I want to try and give you some information on what you should be looking for when choosing an essential oil to help balance your body. If you are looking to buy quality essential oils- please have a look here. Also read my Ask the Aromatherapist post.

whole body balance

Step 1;

Try to identify how your whole body is feeling. For example if you have a headache- how do you feel about the headache, what have the emotions been that have lead up to the headache, how is your whole body feeling physically- do you have pain anywhere else, are your tired, dehydrated, stressed, feel pressured and so on. Everyones presentation of symptoms and how they feel about certain symptoms will be different. There are some essential oils that may help people with headaches- however what you choose may be different from someone else.

Take a whole body approach rather than just trying to suppress a symptom and continue as normal. This does not address the core issue and so the problem will persist and get worse. Every symptom is a warning signal that the body is no longer in balance and needs assistance. By blocking signals the body will degenerate and chronic illness is present. Go back to the cause and the body can rebalance and move forward.

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Step 2;

Every oil has a natural starting point. The efficiency of the oils in combatting your physical and emotional imbalances is directly related to the flower, herb, tree’s pharmacological herbal actions are. Each substance contains various oils and those oils are extracted. Each of these extracted volatile oils has an action on the body. This is also what herbal medicine is based on. These oils can either be absorbed through the skin with assistance of a carrier oil or through being diffused in the air.

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This means that each substance will have its individual and collective uses. For example chamomile’s actions have been seen to be analgesic (pain relieving), anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, carlmative (calming), nerve sedative, vulenary (helps to heal wounds externally), sudorific (causes sweating) and an emmenagogue (assists in menstruation.

So if you have a headache from a bash, cut or inflamed area that is causing some anxiety or nerve irritation then chamomile may work very well- however if you have a headache because you are dehydrated, been in the sun all day and are tired and overworked- the same essential oil may not be ideal. The trick is to chose the right oil for the right situation especially for you. If you like the smell of something then you are also usually on the right track. 

Each oil also has a vibrational energy which your body may be drawn too. Sometimes I choose my essential oils blindly. Especially single oils when I am making a blend. 

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Step 3;

ALWAYS check the safety information for yourself before using the oils. Personally I believe that essential oils are for the olfactory senses. They should be smelt and absorbed through the skin with carrier oils. I am not a huge fan of ingesting oils as I prefer to use foods for  that.

I see essential oils as a very effective tool with in a tool box of remedies for each ailment. When dealing with acute situations oils can work fast and be very effective- however even as a Naturopath myself, I will seek advice from an aromatherapist for chronic issues. I then do some more research myself and change other areas in my life to get a more holistic lifestyle change to help my body to heal and return to balance.

lemon

Oils that are considered safe, if not used correctly or in the right circumstances and potentially can have negative effects as much as other natural remedy can. Ensure that if you use something it is because you have made the informed choice and decision to use it-not because someone told you too or you read something on the internet. I say this for all advice- even my own!

Lavender

Step 4;

Think less is more- it is easier to work out which oils are good for your situation and then see if there is a blend which contains them all. The only way you can know how a blend works is to study the individual herbal actions of each of its ingredients. As a blend they can be very powerful so I tend to recommend to use the individual ones first- then start to recognize which individual oils you react positively to then find blends- or even start to make your own blends (I used to do this for clients and myself all the time to great effect- and great for gifts).

Try one blend at a time- blends will have a few oils in them- each one will have an action on the body and may be quiet stressful on the body when being combatted with several blends at the same time- leave some time after using the blended oil on your body or in a diffuser to take note of any effects before trying something out. Give your body space to decipher the messages it receives from using remedies, use some meditation or some visualisation when using the essential oils to guide your body towards what you want to achieve. 

Most importantly- use the oils mindfully- connect with what you have chosen and take responsibility for your own healing. Yes they work with babies and animals who are not necessarily thinking about what they are using, are passive in their use of them. However think about how more powerful and full of potential they can become if you actively use them.

When you are choosing oils try and get a good encyclopedia of oils like these ones;

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You can get a notebook and copy down for each oil you have the name, how it is used traditionally, its herbal actions, and safety data. Then each time you want to reach for your oils you have all the information to hand. Have some fun with them- get to know them, their smell and their effect on your body. Write it all down in your own notebook and keep it to teach others from your experiences. Nice thing to pass down too!

 

Make Notes

 

Always ask a professional aromatherapist if you are ever worried about using oils.

Step 5

Consider the alternatives; homeopathy, nutrition, Bach Flowers, kinesiology, massage, reflexology, Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, EFT, herbal tinctures, exercise like yoga and hiking, stress management techniques like meditation, breathing techniques and other physical manipulation like cranial sacral therapy, osteopathy, physiotherapy and many more.

All of these other methods of bringing the body’s physical, emotional and energetic factors back to balance and true health can be achieved. Nothing on its own is ever going to work 100%- different situations will require different combinations and strategies- start to look into and get to know other methods of giving the body space, strength and healing.

Thanks to the Young Living flickr roll for some inspiring shots!

5 steps How to choose your perfect essential oil Loula Natural Pin

 

Coconut and Lemon Curd Thumbprint cookies

Coconut and Lemon Curd Thumbprint Cookies Loula Natural

I absolutely love lemon curd (here is my version). I whipped up a batch as it is packed with healthy fats (butter and eggs) and I don’t worry so much when I use coconut sugar to flavour it- we like it tart anyway. It is a great way to really treat the kids.

coconut and lemon curd cookies close up Loula Natural

We also love making these coconut cookies– so when my daughter asked me to make them again I thought of combining the two. The result is really delicious! Lemon and ginger of course being a match in heaven- and great for the immune system as the change of season is upon us.

Coconut and Lemon Curd Thumbprint Cookies
I twist on my coconut ginger cookies- adding a dollop of my freshly made lemon curd. Light, delicious and good for the immune system! Full of healthy fats. Really easy recipe to make with the kids
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Ingredients
  1. 12 tbsp Coconut flour
  2. 10 tbsp Butter (soft- I use organic)
  3. 2 tbs of Honeycomb honey
  4. 1-2 tsp ginger powder or grated ginger root
  5. 1 drop of lemon essential oil or a splash of lemon juice
  6. about 1/4 tsp Lemon Curd for each cookie
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 200 c
  2. Add all of the ingredients (except the lemon curd) to a mixer
  3. Use the k beater to beat the ingredients together to form a soft dough
  4. Ball up the dough and place on baking sheets that have been greased or have baking paper
  5. Get your trusty assistant (or yourself!)to push their thumb in the middle to create the cookie with a space for the lemon curd when they are cooked.
  6. Cook for 8-10 mins or until turning brown.
  7. Allow to cool on the baking tray otherwise they will crumble apart
  8. When they are completely cool- add a dollop of Lemon Curd just before serving.
  9. Enjoy
Notes
  1. Be careful they burn quickly- I keep going in 30 second bursts on the timer
  2. I keep mine in the fridge without the Lemon Curd otherwise they go soggy.
Loula Natural http://loulanatural.com/
 I love mine with a nice cup of Rooibos or my bulletproof coffee!

coconut and lemon curd cookies Loula Natural

Here are some other thumbprint cookie recipes;

Coconut and Lemon Curd Thumbprint Cookies Loula Natural Pin

 

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