The Benefits of Meditation

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      The origins of meditation can be traced back to India, but no one really knows just how old the practice really is. The oldest documented reference to meditation is about 1500 BCE in India, known as Dhyana or Jhana referenced as the training of the mind. The word meditation comes from the Latin term meditatum meaning "to ponder" (1). The are many different techniques and practices for meditation, some more popular and others lesser known. 

     Meditation produces an inner and outer stillness that improves with each practice which cultivates inner peace, clarity, mindfulness, self-awareness and compassion. A national Demonstration project that took place in 1993, by a large group of 4,000 advanced meditators lasting for two months, focused on daily meditation that resulted in reduced crime in the region by 24 percent. The phenomena that occured is called the Maharishi Effect (2)

 Visit The Manifest Hack for Guided Meditations.

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Ayurveda and the Doshas

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 Ayurveda means "science of life"and it comes from the Sanskrit words (ayur - life) and (veda - science or knowledge). The practice dates back to more than 5,000 years ago in the sacred texts called the four vedas or the Sruti:

Rig-Veda - considered the oldest of the vedas which consists of mantras
Yajur-Veda - consists of worship and rituals
Sama-Veda - contains chants and melodies to be performed at ceremonies
Atharva-Veda - chants and mantras to use daily for different applications such as prayers and protection

In Ayurveda, three doshas in the human body are present - Vata, Pita, and Kapha. The three doshas are comprised of seven constitutions from the five elements - Ether, Air, Earth, Water, and Fire. The seven constitutions are Vata-Pitta, Kapha-Pitta, Kapha-Vata, and Vata-Pitta-Kapha (perfect balance and rare to obtain), predominant Vata, predominant Pitta, or predominant Kapha.
Vata is the quality of space and air. It represents wind and movement that gives expression; it is the force that drives biological activity, and moves the other doshas. A Vata individual has a slender build, sharp eyes, and is attracted to warm climates. Characteristics include impulsiveness, enthusiasm, and moodiness, and vulnerabilities such as anxiety, joint disease, circulatory disorders, and arthritis.
Pitta is the quality of transformation and it is associated with the fire an water elements It is the quality that influences metabolic processes of the body, including body temperature regulation, and the breakdown of nutrients and absorption. A Pitta individual has a muscular build, medium sized eyes and of average height. Characteristics include mental clarity, focus, and retention, love of sports and the outdoors. Vulnerabilities include inflammatory conditions such as intestinal ulcers, eczema, and gastritis.
Kapha is the quality of binding and structure-forming, and it is associated with the water and earth elements. It is also the quality that binds the cells of the body. It also has the quality of joint lubrication, skin moisture, and immune system function. It represents stability, cohesion, substance, muscle growth, weight, and strength. A Kapha individual has a large eyes, well built body structure, and smooth skin. Characteristics include a calming and composed nature, disciplined, like to stick to routines, and the ability to multi-task. Vulnerabilities include the tendency to over-eat and oversleep.
Maintaining a balanced and harmonious lifestyle with your dosha type, according to Ayurveda, reduces disturbances in the body that can lead to disease.
Take the Dosha quiz to see what best describes your mind-body type.

 

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Benefits of Aromatherapy

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Aromatherapy goes as far back as prehistoric times. For centuries plants and herbs were part of daily life for culinary, cosmetic, medicinal, ceremonial and religious use. The Ancient Egyptians are notorious for the use of resins and oils during mummification rituals. Frankincense was found in the Pharaoh Tutankamun's tomb when they discovered it in 1922. The Ancient Greeks adopted the use of plants and herbs in medicine from the Ancient Egyptians.
China has been using aromatherapy since its earliest record found in the Yellow Emperor's Book of Internal Medicine around 2,600 BC said to have been written by the famous Chinese emperor Huangdi.
India's traditional Ayurvedic medicine has been using plants and herbs recorded in the Vedas to treat the mind-body-spirit as a whole.
Modern Day aromatherapy came into the west as part of alternative medicine in the early 1980s. Today is is well know around the world.

Although aromatherapy seems like a new concept, as you can see it's been around for a very long time. It promotes well-being on a physical and emotional level. Medicinally it improves the mind-body-spirit into balance. It is known to calm the mind and body, relieve pain, anxiety and stress. Each oil has a personality that enhances its health benefits when artful synergies are skillfully produced with other essential oils.

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Recycle Your Skincare Containers

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Before you throw that half used lipstick you've been carrying around, or that mascara, or that empty face cleanser container, or any of your cosmetics and skin products for that matter, stop right there! Although, not in the conventional sense like the other recycle-able stuff you collect, sort and, throw away according to your local recycling facility's guidelines, our cosmetic containers can be recycled.
Bottom Line
Mother Earth will love you for it :)

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Benefits of Salt Room Therapy (Halotherapy)

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Brief History
Salt caves have been used going back to hundreds of years ago to the Grecian age. It is said that Hippocrates considered salt inhalation beneficial to treat respiratory issues. This ancient healing treatment was rediscovered during Eastern Europe. Whether discovered to take shelter, by accident, or as salt miners, those who have spent time in the salt cave have noticed positive effects on their respiratory conditions and their overall health. In the 1950s physicians developed methods to simulate conditions of salt caves, and in the 1980s, Russians began integrating salt rooms as part of their clinical treatments. Since then, salt rooms have been opening across Europe, Scandinavia, and North America.
Benefits
Salt is super absorbent, ant-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory. The presence of magnesium and calcium and other trace minerals in the salt dust floating in the air contribute to the therapeutic benefits the salt caves provide such as relief from asthma, allergies, colds, ear infections, smokers cough, cystic fibrosis, COPD, sinusitis, skin conditions, like acne and psoriasis, rosacea, skin aging, eczema, swelling and inflammation according to the Salt Therapy Association.
According to Dor. R. Richard Leinhardt, he says "Saline in the lungs is key to eliminating toxins that we either inhale or otherwise come into contact with, and salt allows the body to excrete impurities through ion exchange."(1) Also, according to Dr. Joseph Marino, it "decreases the thickness of the mucous, thereby allowing the body's innate clearing mechanisms to sweep away the secretions, improving drainage and diminishing bronchial sensitivity."
How it works
Active Halotherapy is a therapy that involves a room or chamber (which varies in size depending on where you go) and a halogenerator that grinds pharmaceutical-grade sodium chloride into dust and emits the dust into the room. The micro-sized particles are dispersed into the air in a room or chamber. The microscopic particles of dry scodium chloride are inhaled into the respiratory system.
Passive Halotherapy imitate natural salt caves, and it is not truly a halotherapy but a salt room for relaxation and well-being, due to the lack of halotherapy equipment. The rooms contain large amounts of different types of salt, from Dead Sea, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Rock Salt, and the popular Himalayan. This method does not use a halogenerator. Instead, the airflow, humidity and temperature is regulated, therefore creating an environment free of allergens and pollutants. 

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Benefits of Yoga

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Yoga is an 6000 year old ancient Indian practice that includes asanas (postures) to help balance the mind-body-spirit, and promote health and peace. The practice is only part of a much larger spiritual discipline that leads to the union of individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. The practice is said to have started at the beginning of civilization. The science of it began only thousands of years ago before the birth of religions. Yoga is a practice of many types that helps to develop inner wellbeing, awareness of the mind, balance, and health.

Benefits of Yoga
  • Helps to develop inner awareness and being present without judgement
  • Helps to soothe anxiety and stress
  • Helps to boost energy
  • May help with chronic back pain
  • Helps to attune to behaviors that may cause the urge to eat such as eating even full, eating when depresses, sad, or stressed, and eating in response to seeing or smelling food, to name a few.
  • Helps to enhance fitness benefiting from increased muscle tone, flexibility, strength, and cardio-respiratory fitness
  • Studies show a positive effect on the cardiovascular system helping to lower blood pressure and stress-relief.
Be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Search for registered yoga instuctors or studios here.

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Savour the Flavour of Tea

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All About Tea
Tea was first discovered about 5,000 years ago in China, it has been consumed hot or iced throughout the world ever since. True tea comes from the Camellia Sanensis plant and there are five true teas: green tea, oolong tea, white tea, black tea and pur-erh tea. The difference among these five teas lies in the parts of the plant that are used and the process in making them. Black tea and oolong are processed through oxidation by exposing the enzymes in the tea leaves to oxygen causing the leaves to darken. White tea and green tea, on the other hand go through a simpler process that does not involve oxidation. The leaves to make white tea are the youngest of the plant and they are dried through direct sunlight. Green tea goes through the same process as white tea, but for a slightly longer period of time. The leaves are heated to prevent oxidation during the process. Green teas produced in China are dried by roasting or pan-fired. In Japan, they are steam dried. The distinct flavors of green tea are owed to the difference in production from these two countries.

Varieties of Green Tea
Green tea comes in a variety that will suit the tea connoisseur's taste buds and induce a spiritual mind-body rejuvenation. The tea type is based on the part of the tea bush that is harvest, the length of steaming, the covering process, the crop season, oxidation level, location of the farm, and by selective breeding (cultivar).
Here is a list of green teas:
Matcha - The history of matcha in Japan began sometime in the 12 century when Zen Monk Eisai (1141-1215) brought tea seeds from China along with the Chinese methods to produce the tea, and under his advice Buddhist Monk Kozan-ji (1173-1232) began cultivating tea bushes. The tea was mainly produced in powdered form. Over time matcha gained popularity and became commonly used outside of monasteries and military elite. The Japanese word matcha comes from "ma" (ground) and "cha" (tea). Known for its therapeutic benefits, Eisei referred to the tea as the "elixer of the immortals".
Tencha - The tea leaves undergo the same process to make matcha, except they are not ground.
Genmaicha - Japananes brown rice kernels are roasted and mixed with Bancha tea leaves resulting in a mild, toasty and nutty flavor.
Shincha - The first harvest of the tea leaves known as first tea or first flush of the year. The word Shincha means "new tea". The tea is relaxing and has a refreshing flavor due to the leaf alcohol created by linolenic acid. It is in the second crop of the year (Niban Cha) and the third crop of the year (Sanban Cha) that the least leaf alcohol is produced.
Konacha - The tea is made from what is left after processing Gyorkuro or Sencha tea. The greener the infused tea, the finer the tea leaf dust used to produce this fine and often difficult-to-find supply.
Fukamushicha - The leaves are steamed twice as long or more than other processes when preparing green tea, resulting in a darker tea.
Kukicha (bocha) - The tea is blend of twigs, stalks, and stems. Its unique taste is due to the parts of the tea bush not used in other teas. It has a sweet and soothing taste.
Bancha - The mature the leaves and stems are harvested during the autumn season, and they are pan-roasted providing a mild nutty flavor.
Gyokuro - The tea bushes are shaded for a longer period than Kabuse for this process
Sencha - The tea bushes grow uncovered in direct sunlight, and they are harvested in the first and second crop. The first crop yields a higher quality Sencha. The leaves are steamed, dried and rolled. Different methods of Sencha are produced depending on the preparation used to make it.
Hojicha - the tea leaves are from the Sencha, Kukicha, or Bancha green tea, at the last harvest of the season. The lower-grade leaves are roasted in porcelain pots over charcoal after they've been steamed. The infusions are reddish-brown with a sweet, roasted-full flavor.
Kabusencha - The word comes form Kabusu (to cover). The tea bushes are shaded for weeks as they grow; the shade causes the plants to produce more chlorophyll and makes the leaves tender. This type of is a sub-category of the Sencha tea.
Guricha (Tamaryokucha) - Sweet and soft, this tea is hard to come by. The tea is pan fired or steamed (Tamaryokucha) giving its sweet taste. The leaves are curled and its color is gun powder green.
Aracha - Referred to as the farmer's tea, processing includes all parts of the leaves and stems. The variation in flavor is also due to the time of harvest, region, and farmer. The tea is sorted by wholesalers and then blended with other teas from different farmers known as refining. The quality varies due to the presence greater than about 15% of dust that affect the taste as well. To sort or not to sort - that is based on preference and the type of teas the farmers process. For Senchas, sorting is considered not necessary.

More about Tea - Tea Infusions:
Tea infusions are comprised of herbs, spices and fruits, so they aren't "real teas". They are known as infusions and get easily confused with teas because they are packaged the same method and undergo the same brewing process, but only need shorter time to brew than tea. Yet they are equally delicious to enjoy, healthy and full of flavor and taste while warming the soul.

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Panchakarma

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Ayurvedic Therapy
Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word that means five treatments or five actions; the five-treatment process detoxifies the body and restores the body's Doshas into balance, and strengthens the immune system as part of an Ayurvedic detox. The treatment lasts from 5 to about 21 days, and it consists of herbal massage, steam baths, cleansing enemas, nasal administration, application of oils specific to the body's Dosha, and Ayurvedic meals.
The five Panchakarm processes are:
Basti: Herbalized oil enemas
Nasya: Nasal irrigation
Vamana: Therapeutic vomiting
Virechana: Purgation
Raktamokshana: Bloodletting
Therapeutic vomiting and bloodletting have been modified with more relaxing and soothing therapies.
The treatment may include certain Ayurvedic full body massages, such as:
Abyanga & Pizhichil - Abyanga involves the use of warm herb-infused oil specific to conditions. The treatment is nourishing and invigorates the tissues and improves muscle tone. Pizhichil (means to sqeeze) is a treatment that combines two therapies Snehana and Swedhana. Snahana means oil massage, and Swedhana means to sweat. Warm medicated oil is used in this treatment to help in blood circulation, and detox through sweating. Pizhichil helps to prevent acne, promote blood circulation, stress and anxiety relief, rejuvenating, building immunity in the body, and improves muscle tone and development.
Sirodhara - The Sanskrit words Shiro or Siro mean head, and dhara means flow. The treatment consists of gently pouring a consistent warm stream of oil (usually sesame oil) over the forehead that induces a relaxed state of awareness resulting in a total body mind-body balance.
Udvartana or Ubtan - The treatment consists of a powder massage using dry herbal powder or herbal paste to detoxify the body, improve blood circulation, and rejuvenate the body. Snigadh Udvartana is a powder massage using an herbal paste to exfoliate and restore the skin.
Marma therapy - According to Ayurveda, the body has junctures called Marma points where two or more types of tissue join such as muscles, ligaments, veins, bones or joints. Marma therapy uses 107 marmas on the body, and the mind is the 108th marma. These points corresponds to the seven chakras of the body. A detailed map of the marma points on the body was written centuries a go in the Ayurvedic text the Sushruta Samhita. The treatment detoxifies the body and brings the mind and body into balance. The treatment can alter consciousness and change one's awareness, renewing energy and heighten creativity.
Ayurvedic facial - The treatment nourishes the skin, helps to fight free-radicals, enhances well-being, helps to enhance dull and dry skin to a healthy glow.
To learn more about Panchakarma, and if you are interested in Panchakarma self-care guide click here for more information at Maharishi Ayurveda.

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The Buzz on Essential Oils

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Essential oils have been known to be used for their anti-depressant, detoxifying, antibacterial, antiviral, stimulating and calming properties. For thousands of years, many cultures around the world used essential oils. As far as 20,000 years ago in the Dorgogne region of France shows the oils were created for everyday use. The use of essential oils in recorded history goes back as far as the time of the Ancient Egyptians. However, they had their oils imported from other places. Ancient Greece, Persia, and China recorded their use of essential oils for medicinal use, aromatherapy, and perfumes.

Peppermint Essential Oil - According to a study(1) peppermint essential oil showed positive results in antimicrobial and antiviral activity. It also demonstrates pain relief, relaxation of the gastrointestinal tissue, and chemo-preventive potential. Peppermint EO is used to aid in digestion and increase energy. It is known to be used to soothe headaches, nerve pain, allergies, and muscle pain.
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil - Ylang ylang is native to the tropical areas of Asia. Prized for its beauty and health promoting benefits, this exotic essential oil, similar to the qualities of jasmine, contains an intense floral-fruity scent that is one of the ingredients used in Chanel No.5. It is used in aromatherapy to reduce anxiety and as an aphrodisiac. According to recent studies(2), Ylang ylang EO demonstrates a variety of bio-activities including antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, insect-repellent, anti-parasitic. It is widely used as the raw material perfumes, and show prospects in the use of medicine and agriculture.
Lavender Essential Oil - Known for its powerful healing properties, lavender EO is most used in aromatherapy AND cosmetics. It is said to promote calming and relaxation, sooth menstrual cramps, and aid in reducing anxiety and depression. It is also known to help in minor burns and insect bites, and contains anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antioxidant properties.
Sandalwood Essential Oil - Known for its warm, rich, woodsy smell, Sandalwood EO is used in religious and spiritual practices, as a base in aromatherapy and perfumes, and to enhance moods, and it is known to have antioxidant and astringent properties. In addition to ginger, thyme and hyssop essential oils, sandalwood EO shows anti-viral and inflammatory properties (3), (4).
Patchouli - The aroma of this prized EO derived from the leaves of the patchouli plant, is warm, woodsy, herbal, sweet and spicy. It is associated with stress relief and controlling appetite, and having anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and pain-relieving properties.
Rose - While this EO needs no introduction, rose is root of the stuff we associate love with. Yet little is mentioned about its benefits other than the proclamations from the proverbial heart. Aside from enjoying the sweet honey aroma, it is used to treat dehydrated skin, acne, fine lines and wrinkles. It is also used to help with rosacea, eczema, and hormone balancing.
Blue Tansy - This luxurious rich blue EO with a sweet and fresh aroma calms and clears the mind and helps to promote relaxation and stress relief. Its therapeutic properties include anti-inflammatory and pain relieving.

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Skincare Do's and Don'ts

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DO's
Health skin starts from the inside. Eating healthy foods, getting exercise, drinking plenty of water can help to fight free radicals tha cause acne and premature aging. Good hygiene practices also play an important role in overall skin health and appearance.
Wear a good moisturizer with SPF even on cloudy or rainy days. Although you may not notice, UV rays do pass through clouds.
Follow your skin care protocol as recommended if you want to see better results.
Get a facial. Aside from the relaxing and pampering experience, having a facial done at least every two weeks helps with the overall improvement of your skin.
DON'Ts
Don't pick or bust pimples. Although you may be tempted to burst that annoying pimple or blackhead, it can lead to blemishes and even scarring. Try not to touch your face. Your hands carry bacteria that you can transfer to your face causing more acne. It's best to leave this up to the medical professionals and estheticians.
Don't overdo it with harsh skin care products. Overdoing it with harsh skin care products can exacerbate the problem you are trying to correct. If you are uncertain about the products you are using, consult your dermatologist or an esthetician before attempting self-treatment.
Over-exfoliating can exacerbate the problem you're trying to treat. This can lead to irritation, the spreading of acne, and more acne flair ups. Allow your skin to recover after a deep exfoliation.
Not all DIY skin care ideas work. Skin care is as unique as the person. What may work for someone else ay not work for you even through he or she may appear to have similar skin conditions. If in doubt, do a spot test first.
Avoid drinking too much coffee. Caffeine may stimulate the body's response to stress which can trigger the overproduction of sebaceous glands leading the the risk of pores being clogged and obstructed.

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