Touch the Secret to Healing?

    The genuine, comforting touch of a persoin can make all the difference in the healing process.

    The genuine, comforting touch of a persoin can make all the difference in the healing process.

    In recent years, the word ‘touch’ has been developed and been assigned negative connotations.  The word is associated with items of sexual harassment and abuse; mostly negative affections are acknowledged, and positive reaffirmations often get thrown to the wayside.  However, according to an article for The Huffington Postcompleted by a life coach, the removal of this negative viewpoint on the word is crucial to finding true happiness in one’s life.

    The article was prompted by feedback received from one of the life coach’s clients.  The client indicated that the coach’s regular physical contact in accompanying their sessions helped heal even more than the words and advice the coach issued.  Prior to this, the coach didn’t really notice the persistent touching they issued; it was an unconscious effort, which resulted from growing up in a physically affectionate family.

    As soon as this realization was found, further thought was pursued.  Based in Los Angeles, the coach shortly realized that most individuals automatically apologize if they even get too close to someone else in their travels about the city.  The coach found this sad, as they recalled the benefits they received from the physical contact pursued by their parents.  A simple stroking of the back could ease stress and increase a healthy understanding of the individual’s sense of self.

    But touch and physical contact has shown to be little more than a dirty word to the general public, in the opinion of the coach.  It seems that society—particularly in the United States—has developed a fear of touching.  Apologies are issued before physical contact even occurs, based in the conception that it is an invasion of privacy.  The term is now most often associated with sexual harassment or abuse.  However, in the coach’s childhood, touching was associated with connection and unity; it was a means of communication and a gesture of caring and friendship.  When the coach first arrived in the United States, this disconnect between their definition of touch and the general public of the nation was brought to attention.  The coach’s lawyer had originally believed the coach was hitting on him, as their inclination towards touching was obviously perceived as uncommon.

    However, that was not the case; the coach had simply been raised that touch is the first and most important language we learn to express.  As infants and children, we demand to be held.  With time, as observed by the coach, some are told to stop reaching for touch, as they are a big boy or girl now and should no longer require that validation.

    For the coach, this is a completely incorrect message to send.  Through the power of touch, individuals can decode emotions; touch is more versatile and sophisticated than verbal communications.  To ignore it is to let some part of a person’s individuality behind.  To truly find happiness, we must become comfortable with reaching out for others and encouraging reaching out in return.  Caving to the fear of touching due to a concern of having affections returned inappropriately leads to a shell of a life.  Actions speak louder than words—a message of love will be received much quicker through a hug than through the uttering of the words—and, therefore, touching should not be viewed as a negative, but as a pursuit of health and happiness.


    Meditation in Many Forms

    Meditation comes in all different forms.

    Meditation comes in all different forms.

    Meditation comes in many forms. Depending on the individual, some meditation techniques may work better than others. Meditation has become so popular that even doctors, therapists and nutritionists are suggesting it for their patients and clients.

    Some basic forms of meditation are mindfulness, zazen, transcendental meditation, kundalini, qi gong, guided visualization, trance-based practices, and heart rhythm meditation. These 8 different kinds seem to be the most popular today according to the Institute for Applied Meditation.

    Mindfulness meditation is also known as Vipassana. This type of meditation derives from Buddhists. This is more of an observational process than it is active. During mindfulness, one keeps the mind running and accepts each thought as it comes, but tries to detach himself/herself from the thought. While it is not necessary to change your breathing during this type of meditation, you can often tell what type of energy state you are in by recognizing your breathing pattern and just letting it be. Zazen is another type of meditation that is derived from Buddhists.  Zazen means seated meditation. Zazen is done with great posture and not much more instruction.  In order to succeed at this type of meditation, you must have a great deal of self-discipline.

    Transcendental meditation comes from Hinduism. This is also done seated with great posture and usually in the lotus position. Many times there is a sacred word that is repeated. The purpose of this meditation is to calmly rise above any temporary negativity. Kundalini also comes from Hinduism. Kundalini focuses on rising energy and breath. Essentially, your breath is used to push energy upward continuously.

    Qi gong comes from Taoist tradition. This form of meditation also focuses on breath and energy but this time in a circular motion throughout your body, organs, and your soul. Guided visualization is a simple form of meditation that also demands focus and discipline. The object of this meditation is to concentrate on an image or scene, whether real or made up. This has to come from your own thoughts. Trance-based practices are a bit different from the types of meditations listed above. For example, in order to really be in a trance, one must lack self-awareness, awareness of his or her surroundings, and rational thinking. This state is usually not self-induced, but may be from drugs, music, or hypnosis. This is not a suggested form of meditation and can be harmful.

    Last, but certainly not least is heart rhythm meditation. This form of meditation focuses on your breath, heartbeat and your emotions. Understanding the energy of your heart and breathing gives you the opportunity to be in complete control of yourself and to comprehend your purpose and worth. This method is absolutely recommended and can benefit one’s spiritual development.

    As stated above, depending on the meditator, the best meditation methods may vary. It is important to test a few out to see what type is most beneficial to you. Meditating is very powerful and can truly change someone’s life for the better.


    What are Our Olympians Eating?

    Traditional American cuisine and desserts are being served at Sochi, along with delicious ethnic dishes

    Traditional American cuisine and desserts are being served at Sochi, along with delicious ethnic dishes

    Eating healthy is beneficial to all lifestyles. It is important to eat the right things and provide our bodies with the necessary nutrients and energy that it needs to perform its natural functions. An important group of individuals whose menus are extremely crucial are athletes. As the Winter Olympics continue, people may wonder how these athletes are staying nourished and energized. Epicurious’ epi-log features an interview with the head chef for the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding Association, Allen Tran, where he shares what Olympians are eating at Sochi.

    At Sochi, there aren’t any stocked kitchens with endless ingredients; the chefs must provide their own ingredients. While it is almost impossible traveling from one country to another with tons of ingredients for cooking, Allen Tran roamed around in search of the freshest products that were available. He was successful in finding some local treasures such as salmon, pumpkin, buckwheat, fish sauce, coconut milk, quinoa and more. When he learned that these were the finest and freshest of foods around, Allen Tran stocked up.

    The fact that most Americans are used to consuming many foods of other cultures has been on their side completely. With that said, the Olympians were indulging in meals within Mexican, Italian, and Asian cultures, as well as the traditional home style American cuisine. Two things that Allen Tran and team were able to bring with them were the most necessary – a water filtration system and a suitcase full of hot sauce. In addition, spices that may not have been available in Russia and chocolate syrup were also part of the packed from America ingredients. Some may wonder why chocolate syrup of all things? Turns out, Chocolate Milk helps tremendously in recovery for athletes. Tran did make some pretty classic American favorites for special occasions throughout the Winter Olympics, such as peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

    Allen Tran has been extremely cautious in terms of making sure the food is 100% safe for these athletes to consume. In the 2006 Olympics, there was a food poisoning incident, and Tran made it his business to go above and beyond in making safety his main priority. Chances are, everything he makes will be delicious anyway, so that never has to be a priority – it just happens. Allen Tran has a degree in food science and has been trained in food safety; therefore he is confident that he will only provide safe and delectable dishes for these hard-working Olympians. He also has a team of American chefs handling the food and no one else. It is no question that these Olympians are eating well and getting their necessary nutrients and carbs to help them win the gold!


    How to Rid Negative Thoughts

    Meditation and yoga can help calm your soul and strengthen your mind and body.

    Meditation and yoga can help calm your soul and strengthen your mind and body.

    In an article written on tinybuddha.com by yoga teacher, Michelle Uy, she shares with us a recent struggle where she allowed her thoughts to take over and create a false reality in her relationship. As she and her boyfriend were deciding to take the next step and move in together, negative thoughts of change, compromise and regret clouded her mind and led her to believe that they would fail when the time came to figure out a cohesive life of togetherness and a new routine. As Michelle is more aware than most people that negative thoughts are powerful and can be detrimental in some situations, she began to do what she knew best to rid the thoughts of negativity and move forward with hope and confidence.

    One thing you can do is surround yourself with positive people. Being around people who love you and care for you or even just in a healthy positive where you may know no one, can get you back to a better place mentally. Positivity is contagious. This can result in the next step, turning your thoughts around. It is alright to think that there will be challenges, but the great news is that when you believe that you can overcome those challenges, and you do – you will be stronger and wiser in the end than you were before.

    A simple step to decreasing these heavy negative feelings is smiling. Do what you know will make you smile, or even giggle. It is truly amazing what smiling and laughing can cure. Smiling is another contagious act; when there is someone smiling at you, it is probably going to take more energy to keep that straight face than to smile back and appreciate the generosity. This brings us to the next step which is doing something nice for someone else. When we perform acts of kindness as humans, we tend to feel a sense of gratitude for what we have in our own lives. Whether it is community service, donating to shelters, or simply helping your elders when you see them struggling up the stairs, everything counts. It feels good to help others.

    Music is always a great way to feel our feelings. If we listen to sad, slow songs, chances are we will be sad; if we listen to happy, upbeat songs, chances are we will be happy. If you are upset, listen to one of your favorite feel good songs and enjoy it. Reading can also sooth our worried souls. Pick up a good book, maybe a book of positive quotes or self-help, motivational book and read. Read on to remind yourself that no one is perfect and we all need a pick-me-up every once in a while. Be easy on yourself, you are not alone. It is equally important to understand that while we accept help in times of need, we must take some responsibility as well. You have choices and you have to be strong enough to know that and to eventually make the necessary changes.

    Last but certainly not least, take a yoga class or meditate. Meditation calms your mind and body and lets you rejuvenate your soul as if you were to receive a fresh start. The beauty in this is that we do get a fresh start every single day that we wake up. We must think of the good in our lives and learn to appreciate them every day. If we see the good and truly appreciate them, it is much easier to deal with the bad as it comes. We all have the power within us to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, we just have to find it and believe.


    Sleep More. Eat Less.

    Midnight Snack

    Midnight Snacking has direct and indirect consequences for dieters.

    People who struggle to lose weight know one of the mortal enemies of the dieter is the late night snack.  Everyone from your mother to Oprah has probably told you that eating late into the night is one of the worst things you can do if you are trying to drop those extra pounds.  A new study out of the University of Pennsylvania has confirmed the idea.  Some of the reasons are extremely obvious, but others are more opaque.

    Perhaps the most obvious reason is that the more hours you are awake, the more actual time you have to consume food.  The study found that the average person who is awake between 10PM and 4AM takes in almost 600 more calories than their early-to-bed counterparts.

    One of the less apparent reasons to hit the sack early when dieting is that you pay for your late night on both ends.  People who get less than 8 hours of sleep generally wake up hungrier.  Your body hasn’t replenished the proper amount of nutrients with rest so your body will try and compensate by telling you that you’re hungry.  Specifically, the study found that those people deprived of sleep have more ghrelin, a chemical that induces appetite, in their systems.

    Lack of sleep also affects your willpower.  When your body is tired, you have less control of your impulses.  You are more likely to indulge in unhealthy foods when you haven’t gotten enough sleep, but the damage doesn’t end there.  Eating unhealthy foods begets a greater desire for unhealthy foods.  You will condition your body to crave junk making it even harder to resist.

    If you haven’t gotten it yet, the moral of the story is make sure to get your full eight hours of sleep, especially if you’re working to drop some weight.  You can check out a full recap of the study on Yahoo.com’s Healthy Living blog.