Leaving Negativity Behind

A great discussion on why harboring anger hurts you the most.

A Quest for Peace

I used to have quite a nasty temper.  I just wrote it off as part of being a passionate, temperamental artist type with strong convictions. My dad always used to ask me “Why are you angry?  Anger is a pointless emotion.”  Of course, this just made me more angry- everyone knows not to tell a really pissed off person to “just calm down-” it feels very belittling.  I, like so many others, did not think that I had control of my emotions.

Recently, though, I’ve been realising more and more how right he was.  Directing negative energy at someone is a whole lot worse for you than it is for the recipient of your energy.  Stewing anger for someone does not magically cause that person to feel upset or have an anvil fall on his head; all it does it brew negativity inside of you.  Even expressing negative emotions towards…

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Breaking Bad Habits: Say Yes!

Let’s face it, we would all be radiantly healthy, ceaselessly wealthy and gloriously happy if it wasn’t for bad habits.  Bad habits are the one obstacle to success that is almost always the hardest to overcome.  And that’s because our bad habits are self-inflicted, and often times the things we enjoy the most….or at least we think we do.  In this post, I want to discuss the psychology of bad habits and how to make them work for, rather than against, you.

To start, what is a bad habit?  Smoking?  Eating too much?  Eating to little?  Too much TV?  Too much exercise?  When it comes to bad habits, there is no black and white.  It’s all relative, and one person’s bad habit may be another persons standard routine, or even their pride and joy.  So one thing is clear about bad habits – they are subjective.  Which means they are based on perspective, which is good news because perspective can be changed and molded to suit one’s needs.  You just have to know where to start.

Over the last year, a big goal of mine was to turn my so-called bad habits into good ones.  I wanted to stop procrastinating, stop smoking, stop over-eating, stop over-sleeping, stop binge drinking and stop self-loathing.  My intentions were good, of course.  But when I told myself that I had to STOP doing all these things, it just made me do them more!  I was indulging in my bad habits even more habitually than before.  And the whole time, I heard a voice in the back of my head saying “You shouldn’t be doing this!  You SHOULD NOT be doing this!!”.  But it wasn’t enough to make me stop. But why????

High school.  Teenagers.  Tell them not to do something.  What do they do?  Exactly what you tell them not to!  That same kind of psychology is exactly what is at play when you are trying to break a bad habit.  You tell yourself no, and five minutes later you’re in the midst of a vengeful act of rebellion.  This is because nobody responds positively to negative reinforcement!   And when you make negative statements to yourself (“no”, “don’t”, “can’t”, “never”, “shouldn’t”, etc), your immediate reaction is to assert your independence as a pleasure seeker.  There is no pleasure in “I can never eat chocolate again for the rest of my life.”  But there is pleasure in “I can eat lots of delicious, nutritious food.”  See the difference?  One statement is about denial and restraint.  It feels like a punishment.  And it is absolutely not sustainable.  The other statement is about abundance, it is positively-aligned, rewarding – “I can have all of this beautiful, wonderful food!”  And that IS sustainable.

Hopefully, you are beginning to see that the key to breaking bad habits is not actually about doing something (or not doing something rather), but about how you are perceiving something.  All you have to do to change a bad habit is change your mind.  Shift your point of mental focus from the negative to the positive.  For example, if you are trying to quit smoking, instead of thinking “No more cigarettes”,  think “More health” or “Easier breathing” or “Clear lungs.”  Put your mental focus on what it is that you DO want, rather than what you don’t want.  If you are constantly thinking about what you don’t want, you are bound to behave in a way that reinforces your mindset, and you’re going to end up doing exactly what it is you are trying not to do.  But, if you are constantly thinking about what you DO want, you are bound to start acting in ways that reinforce THAT mindset, and that’s how you begin to create positive habits.

Here’s how to make this work for you and start transforming those bad habits today.  Make a list of all the habits you would like to change.  Now for each habit, rephrase it using positive, action-oriented language.  Turn that negative into a positive!  “Stop procrastinating” becomes “Act on my inspiration” or “Be the kind of person that fulfills my responsibilities”.  Phrase it in a way that inspires, activates your desires and lights your fires (I’m a song writer, couldn’t resist the opportunity to rhyme!!).  Now play that phrase over and over and over in your mind.  Make it the sound track to your daily life.  You’re bound to see positive results 🙂

 

Fasting: The Do’s & The Don’ts

So you’ve decided to go on a fast, good for you!  Take a moment to pat yourself on the back and acknowledge your awesomeness for taking a big step toward cleansing your body.  Here are some tips for you fantastic fasters to help you get the most out of your journey.

  1. Read, read, read!  Before you even start your fast, make sure you have done your research and adequately informed yourself about what’s in store.  Jumping blindly into a fast is not a good idea, as you will not be prepared for the ups and downs that fasting entails.  Reading up on fasting will allow you to go into the experience feeling ready mentally, which equates to a more successful fast.  It’s also a great idea to have lots of books to read during a fast (particularly books on fasting to keep you inspired!), as you will have a lot of free time on your hands.  Keep the TV off, and instead feed your head.
  2. Water Yourself:  If you are doing a water fast (only for experienced, knowledgeable fasters!!), this one should be obvious.  For the rest of you, don’t forget to drink ample water – the more the better!  Proper hydration will the aid the body in releasing toxic substances, making your fasting experience much easier mentally and physically.  Water helps to flush out all those organs that are working extra hard during your fast to cleanse your body – kidneys, bladder and digestive tract.  Give your body a hand and drink up!
  3. Get Pampered:  Before you partake in a fast, you should do your best to clear some time from your calender so that your body has sufficient time to rest and restore.  If you are juice fasting, you will have enough nutrients and energy to get through a day of moderate activity, but if you are not resting enough, you will not get the full benefit of the cleanse.  Take time off to relax, and while you’re at it, pamper the crap out of that sexy bod!  Take mineral baths every night (add epsom salts or pink Himalayan salt crystals to running water) to draw out toxins from the skin.  Book a massage to rejuvinate tired muscles and stimulate your lymph system.  Drink exotic herbal teas while you luxuriate in front of a roaring fire.  Dance around naked twirling scarves over your head and celebrating the temple that is your body.  Allow yourself to be free and open.  That deep sense of liberation will linger long after the fast is over.
  4. Clean it Out:  Your colon that is!  Fasting is an excellent time to get a colonic or administer an enema at home.  Sure, it’s a squeamish topic for many people, but that’s why people experience so many colon-related problems.  We could all gain a great deal of health if we committed ourselves to keeping our colons clean!  So what exactly goes on in there?  Basically, when you are fasting your body starts to clean house, getting rid of years of accumulated toxic waste.  This waste is eliminated through your eliminative organs, aka skin, kidneys, colon, spleen and liver.  What goes in must come out!  Since you are not consuming fiber on your fast, which is what normally helps “sweep out” the colon, there is no bulk to push those toxins out of you.  For some, this can result in a condition known as auto-intoxication, in which toxins are reabsorbed into the bloodstream.  This kind of defeats the point of a fast, so colon cleansing can go along way in keeping things moving (pun intended).  If  a colonic isn’t an option, enemas are a great alternative and can be administered at home.  Look for 2 quart enema bags, and avoid disposable kits.  If you are still totally uncomfortable with the idea of colon cleansing, herbal laxatives can be used as well.  Senna root tea (Cassia) is a good choice, but don’t abuse it.
  5. Dry Brushing:  Dry brushing is a wonderful self-care practice that is helpful during fasting because it stimulates the lymph system, which moves waste through the body for elimination.  Every day, you eliminate 2-5lbs of waste through your skin (amazing, right?), and dry brushing helps to move that waste efficiently.  Dry brushing will invigorate and warm your whole body (great for fasters because the body temperature is naturally lower), as well as give you glowing skin by removing dead skin cells.  And as an added bonus, dry brushing is great for helping reduce cellulite!  Look for brushes made of natural bristles, you can get a great one for around $10 at your local health food store.
  6. Clear Your Head:  Fasting is naturally a more inward time, and the perfect time to go deeper into your meditation practice.  Don’t have a regular meditation practice?  Well, this is also the perfect time to start one!  Being free from the bulk and heaviness of food grants a wonderful lightness to your being, and facilitates a spiritual practice like meditation.  Take 15 minutes each day to quite your mind and place your attention gently on your breath.  If your mind wanders, don’t fret,  Just observe where it goes and direct it back to your breath.  Think “Sat” (su-ht) when you inhale and “Nam” when you exhale.  This phrase means “I am Truth,” contemplate this simple statement during your meditation and see where it takes you.  Meditation has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and induce a sense of well-being in practitioners.
  7. Write it Down:  A lot of debris gets stirred up during a fast, and it’s not all physical!  Toxic emotions will be released too, and it’s important to deal with these emotions effectively.  Keeping a journal is a great way to purge those emotions in a healthy and constructive way.  See if you can’t work through the anger, pain, sadness or whatever it is you are feeling.  Remember that often times, all we need to release a traumatic event or feeling is forgiveness, whether unto another or perhaps unto ourselves.  Be compassionate, patient and loving toward yourself, like a mother to her child.  Cultivating that attitude will take you far in fasting and in life.
  8. Listen to Your Body:  Fasting is an excellent way to become more in touch with your body, but you need to tune in to gain any benefit!  Notice the subtle changes in how your body is feeling, and try to intuitively decode what it is telling.  Going with your gut feeling is almost always the right path, so take this time to practice hearing what your body is saying.  It will tell you when it needs more rest, needs some exercise or fresh air, cool water or a warm bath.  And most importantly it will tell you when it is time to start eating again.  When true hunger returns, it is time to break your fast, and it is crucial that you not ignore your body’s signals.  If you continue to fast past this point, you can go into starvation mode, where you are no longer cleansing, but doing damage.  Pay attention and trust your intuition, it won’t lead you astray.
  9. Smile 🙂  This is “you time”.  Enjoy it!  Remember to smile and laugh, and not to take things so seriously.  Adopt a carefree attitude and a light heart.  Life is good <3.

The Psycho-logy of Eating & How a Raw Diet Can Help

To most people, I think the idea of starting a raw food diet is intensely intimidating.  No more fries?  Pasta?  Cookies????  Why would I want to give up all the things I enjoy about food?  It’s a valid response for sure, and one I had myself when I first became intrigued with idea of going raw.  The idea of never being able to enjoy a leisurely dinner out with my friends, or have a slice of birthday cake, or even watch a movie with a big bowl of buttery popcorn literally made me want to cry.  And then I realized how screwed up that is.  Because what I was actually doing – and what I think many, if not most people do – was associating all of these pleasurable activities with food.  Linking food and fun together in such a way that to separate them seemed….well, absurd!  Realizing the strength of this connection is what can empower you to make positive, dramatic changes in your diet and lifestyle because suddenly you begin to understand key motivations behind the behavior you want to change.

In my pre-raw days, my favorite way to end of a long day of work was to come home, put on a movie and eat the entire way through it.  I would eat entire cartons of ice cream, bags of chips, trays of homemade french fries – all before the end credits even rolled.  And then I would find myself totally stuffed to the brim, yet still wondering what else I could find in the kitchen to munch on until bedtime!!  I hated myself for it the next morning, but I forgave myself just in time to do it all over again the next night.  Why was it, after countless years of struggling with my weight, with food, with body image issues, that I was still caught in this endless cycle of binging-eating and ego-bashing?  Why hadn’t I grown up and figured out how to control myself when it came to food?  Why did stuffing my face full of fatty foods always seem like the most enjoyable thing to do?  I knew I needed to make a big change – and that’s where the raw lifestyle was my knight in shiny green armor.

A raw diet is the absolute perfect way of life for someone who is obsessed with and addicted to food.  I certainly was.  I believe most people are.  It’s not even totally our faults really.  American culture is obsessed with food in the most perverse ways if you stop and look around you.  Deep fried burgers, bacon-flavored milkshakes, that disgusting looking “sandwich” mess at KFC that used fried chicken for buns???!!  We are reaching a point, collectively, of unprecedented disease and death in this country because of the way we eat.  The United States of America is not going to be overtaken by any other country, because she is soon going to die – alone on her couch eating Fritos – from heart disease.  This is the sad truth in the S.A.D (Standard American Diet…what a coincidence).  The food we consume is loaded with toxic chemicals, preservatives, and pesticides.  The majority of the food that Americans consume has absolutely NO nutritional value – so it’s no wonder we are always hungry, even after we’ve just devoured half of the frozen foods aisle!  Our bodies are sending us hunger signals not because we need another pound of Twinkies, but because we need real nutrition.  Vitamins, minerals, enzymes, essential fatty acids, etc.  So a big part of our need to binge is due to this major lack of nutrition in our food.

So how can eating raw make any difference?  Let me count the ways!  First of all, when food is cooked – even organic veggies – the heat depletes the nutritional value in the food.  Vitamins A, D, E and K, for example, are all destroyed by heat, while the levels of Vitamin C and the B Vitamins are all notably reduced when heated over 130 degrees.  And enzymes begin deteriorating at 116 degrees.  We so commonly forget that the only reason we truly need food is for nutrients to build, maintain and heal our bodies.  When we eat cooked food, lacking nutrients for our body to use, we build sickly, weak, disease-prone bodies.  Think about it, we are living beings, so shouldn’t we want to eat living foods?  Cooking is killing, my friends, so in essence when you eat cooked food, you’re eating death.  How will that give you a vibrant, thriving, radiant body and life?  It won’t.  The truth is, our bodies were designed to eat a plant-based diet.  This is what we are biologically designed for, and when you begin to respect this intelligent design, you will see your body transform in the most miraculous ways.

A raw diet consists of vibrant, living foods – succulent fruits, rich avocados, crisp veggies and nourishing nuts and seeds.  Grains and legumes aren’t typically big players in a raw diet (and die hard Raw Heads would never touch them), but in moderation they are acceptable.   When the majority of your diet consists of living fruits and vegetables, imagine the surge of nutrients you will be feeding your body on a daily basis!  The nutritional value of this diet is through the roof, and you will feel better than you ever have in your life!  Plus, because you are eating nutritionally dense food (as opposed to calorically dense food), you will be eating large quantities of it – which is great news for ex-binge eaters like myself!  The raw food diet has allowed me to convert my obsession with food into a passion for food, and my ravenous appetite has finally been sated.  And on top of all that, I’ve never looked better!

Going raw, or changing your diet in any way for that matter, doesn’t mean that all the fun and pleasure will be instantly zapped out of your life.  Quite the opposite actually.  On a raw diet, you find more pleasure and beauty in food than you ever have before.  You see, when you go raw, you can begin to make the psychological distinction between food for fun, and food as nourishment.   Food is for feeding, not entertainment, and if you ever want to achieve true, radiant health, you have to start to live by this mantra.  You can have all the fun in the world and still eat raw, because the food was never the reason for the fun.  You just have to disconnect those two concepts in your head.  Eating raw assists you in making that mental change, and after years of feeling discouraged by your eating, you can begin to feel inspired.  Doesn’t that sound great?