Renewing Our Connection with Our Highest Sense of Self

By Kenton Whitman | We live in a world that urges us to focus on the external – on the flashing images of a television screen, on the new wonders provided by our technology, on an ever-increasing ability to communicate with people all over the globe. This world brings us many benefits, yet sometimes it can feel like all of that technology is overwhelming, and the world is moving by us so quickly that we can never catch up. Our connection with Self can be lost in the chaos, leaving us with feelings of isolation, confusion, stress, or anxiety.

Two years ago, I embarked on a mission to create a self-development school unlike any other — a program where people could devote themselves to a course of study that would completely transform their approach to Living. Out of that mission grew the Metamorphosis program and the PR/EP program — 11-month intensive training programs that help students develop their fullest emotional, spiritual, and physical potential. These training programs have just opened to the public. Here are some of the training methods used in the programs — training methods that you can use to enhance your own experience of Living.

Opening Your Senses

As we age, our senses tend to take in less and less of the world. It’s not so much about our senses growing duller, but about forgetting how to use them. It’s not difficult to re-train our senses, and the rewards can be astounding–when our senses open up, the world becomes rich with sensation, and every moment is full of beauty and mystery.

To open your senses, sit down and close your eyes, paying attention to one sense at a time. With each sense, take the time to pay attention to the complete spectrum of your perception. With touch, notice the air moving over your face and the pressure of your clothes on your flesh. With hearing, allow your focus to expand outward so that you’re aware of every sound as it blends into a symphony. When you open your eyes to pay attention to your vision, let your vision expand so that you notice the full range of your peripheral vision – a part of our vision that we usually ignore. Taste and smell can likewise be explored with focused attention.

Exercising Without Working Out

We all want to be in the best shape possible, but it can be challenging to find the time or energy for formal workouts. Luckily, there’s another option. It’s called ‘play’. When we develop a playful attitude toward movement, we can make a game of finding the most challenging or interesting way to move through our environment. This might mean sitting on a balance ball or squatting at our desk, climbing trees, parking at the far end of the parking lot, or carrying shopping baskets instead of pushing a cart. If you’re watching a movie at home, try yoga poses or stand on one foot instead of sitting on the couch. You can also give some old childhood favorites a try, from slides to swings to playground equipment. If you take this philosophy far enough, it begins to mimic the ideas of Parkour or wild-running, where participants see the entire world as their jungle-gym.

Developing Patience

This is one of the lost arts of our modern culture. The ability to sit quietly for hours at a time is almost impossible for many of us — we feel that we have too much to do, our minds race in circles, and we soon grow agitated. Yet, rehabilitating our sense of patience can be one of the most rewarding skills we can learn.

At first, sitting quietly or doing nothing can seem like torture. Our minds are used to running on fast-forward, and refuse to be still. Eventually, however, our internal pace slows, and we find that our mind clears, our senses open, and the world takes on an entirely different flavor. Learning patience in nature can be especially rewarding. If we sit quietly for long enough, the disturbance our presence creates in the woods evaporates, and soon animals begin to re-enter the scene. In this way we can experience close encounters with birds, mammals, and insects that would never be available to us when we’re moving at our usual frenetic pace.

One simple exercise is to sit someplace where you will be gifted with a ‘reward’ for your patience. Sitting near bird feeders is a great place to begin. Even a small amount of time spent in stillness, and the bravest of birds (usually the chickadees) will start to venture near, and you’ll be rewarded with the experience of getting up-close-and-personal with some of nature’s most delightful wild animals.

Reconnecting With Nature

Our connection with nature can sometimes feel severed in our world of steel, plastic, and noise. Reconnecting with nature can be as simple as going to a park and sitting on a bench as we watch the squirrels. Even small amounts of time in nature serve to rejuvenate us, calming our minds and helping us to see life issues more clearly.

If we desire a deeper connection with nature, we can learn primitive skills that allow us to engage with nature more intimately. This might mean learning how to set up a tent and camp; or it might mean learning how to make fire without matches or how to feast on edible wild plants; or it could mean learning how to blend and flow in the woods so that we can encounter wild animals and observe the quiet rhythms of nature.

Time for Learning the Art of Living

There are many paths to personal development, and we can approach the journey as a part-time hobby or as the primary focus of our lives. Giving time to yourself and encouraging others to fulfill their own potential makes the world richer for all of us — the more attention we pay to our inner growth, the more we become compassionate, passionate beings. The Chippewa Valley is blessed with a rich offering of teachers, groups, and opportunities for renewing your relationship with your Self and your world. It can seem greedy to take time for ourselves, but devoting yourself to committed self-development is like tending a large garden — you harvest more than you could ever eat yourself, and have plenty to give away to those in need.

Kenton Whitman is a writer, personal trainer, martial arts instructor, life coach, and primitive skills/nature awareness teacher out of Menomonie, WI. His Metamorphosis and PR/EP training programs are now being made available to the public. Visit www.kandrcreative.com to learn more.

PCOS, Female Reproductive Health, and Ayurveda

by Patricia Wickman

It is a joy for practitioners like myself to see people make the leap of faith to add and subtract elements to and from their daily schedule based on ancient wisdom that seems vastly different from Western medicine. Ayurveda literally means the science of life. It is a complete medical system that has evolved over 5,000 years and has its roots in Ancient India. The devoted student of Ayurveda learns that it is a profound art and science that inspires one to view health, vitality, and longevity as a proactive and creative work in progress, similar to a garden. In this article, I will give a shallow introduction to the Ayurvedic perspective on PCOS and then write briefly on the broader subject of female reproductive health. In doing this, I wish to inspire all women who read this article to experiment with Ayurveda. Just as nurturing a plant yields delicious food, so too, does self-TLC produce a woman whose health, beauty, and vitality originate from deep within her cells and radiate out like petals of a sunflower.

Ayurvedic treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is specific to the individual. The Ayurvedic practitioner does a thorough assessment of the client and determines her Ayurvedic constitution based on the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Through questioning, observation, tongue observation, and pulse diagnosis, the practitioner and the client jointly determine the nature and degree of imbalance. In the majority of women with PCOS, there is a strong Kapha component: they often struggle with mysterious weight gain that is hard to lose even while maintaining a light diet, healthy lifestyle, and regular exercise. Some women with PCOS appear to be of a Kapha nature: large bone structure, plentiful tissues, calm disposition, etc. Upon questioning, observation, and pulse taking I have found that some are Pitta-Vata (or Vata-Pitta), but are simply carrying extra weight. A few of the women I have seen with PCOS have said that their large bodies do not feel native to them—they feel as if they are going around in a suit that does not belong to them. Other women with PCOS are not overweight, but simply have irregular menstrual cycles. One of the phenomena of this disorder is that the eggs in the ovaries prepare to leave the ovaries, but the necessary hormones that cause the final leap out of the ovaries are lacking. The egg in this instance is like a seed that is ready to burst out of the ground, but then does not succeed because the sprouting conditions are not available. Reference this website to learn more about PCOS from an Ayurvedic perspective.

After the initial consultation, the Ayurvedic practitioner designs a program for you that includes dietary recommendations, lifestyle modification, herbal supplementation, yoga, breathing, meditation, cleansing procedures, and hands-on body therapies. There is no one-size-fits-all in Ayurveda. It is best to see a practitioner who will recommend a program that takes into account your constitution, your current state of health, your schedule, your family situation, and causative factors that are individual to you. For example, one woman may have a high level of ama (toxicity) that is causing imbalance in the female reproductive system. For another woman it may be that her digestion, metabolism, absorption, or elimination is impaired. For another, it could be high levels of stress, lack of sleep, an unhealthy relationship, a poor diet, or a genetic predisposition. Ayurvedic treatment protocols help people pluck out imbalance at its root and create a fertile field with life-promoting conditions.

For female reproductive health in general, Ayurveda calls for a woman to remember her place in nature and her female ancestral heritage that was passed down to her from her mother’s womb. In ancient cultures, womens’ menstrual cycles were linked to the 28-day moon period.  Women menstruated together on the new moon and retreated from the village in tents where they could take a break from nurturing others and spend time resting and relaxing. The modern woman is so busy that she does not take time to stop during her period. The manic pace at which we live our lives contributes to women’s woes such as PMS, PCOS, acne, heavy bleeding, spotting in between periods, endometriosis, fibroids, unsavory menopausal symptoms, infertility, etc. During my training in Ayurveda, one of my classmates shared an experience of being on a surgery rotation during medical school. She started her period in the middle of a surgical procedure and was so compelled to keep up with the other doctors that she bled all over the floor during the surgery.

What are we women of the post-feminist world to do? We are bright, successful, educated, and capable of both professional and domestic excellence, yet our ancient bodies seem to be calling us back to the moon hut. What good is accomplishment if we destroy our health, shorten our lives, and lose our happiness in the process? I propose that we take small steps toward listening to the call of nature and revolt against the market driven, competitive, frantic culture in which we live. In Maya Tawari’s book, The Path of Practice, she explains that connecting with shakti energy is fundamental to women’s physical and spiritual health:

According to Vedic seers, a woman’s femininity cannot exist apart from her shakti—the one energy that gave birth to everything. Shakti is the Mother’s power behind creation, and signifies the sacred mysteries of creation, regeneration, and destruction…The Divine Mother endowed all females with two gifts: the power to nurture and the power to protect. Shakti is more than the energy of reproduction. It is the spirit of protecting the sacred, gathering food, worshiping the Divine and giving birth to children, to inspiration, to ideas and art (Tiwari 54 55).

There are an infinite number of ways to honor shakti. Lie low during your two or three days of heavy bleeding, perform daily warm oil self-massage, oil your hair, receive shirodhara (an Ayurvedic body therapy where warm oil is poured in a continuous stream over the third eye), keep a moon calendar by your bedside and perform the moon salutation on the full moon, practice the goddess pose (supta baddha konasana), do the yoni mudra, drink a quarter cup of aloe vera juice everyday (aloe vera is fantastic for balancing women’s hormones), take moments to squat. Squatting connects a woman to the earth. Have an Ayurvedic practitioner guide you through a women’s cleansing program. Become a master of pelvic floor exercises, paint your toenails, get a henna tattoo, pick up a silk scarf, turn on some sultry music and let your hips and pelvis dance, prepare a lovely meal of farm-fresh food for you and your family, rock a baby to sleep, spend time in nature, cultivate deep and lasting friendships with other women, repair any hurt in your relationship with your mother and/or mother-in-law. Create something. Teach all of this to your daughters. As you nurture shakti, may your reproductive balance be well established, your eyes sparkle, your skin shine, and your garden of health be plentiful and fruitful!

Patricia Wickman is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Certified Panchakarma Technician and Registered Yoga teacher. Her services include private and small–group yoga lessons, Ayurvedic consultations and Ayurvedic Spa therapies.

Battling PCOS Naturally: Mother Quest

Evidence that Ayurveda offers hope to individuals who have female reproductive imbalance
by Arwen Rasmussen

After six years of newlywed bliss, an apartment, two cats, and a home loan, my husband and I decided it was finally time to expand the family. We weren’t getting any younger and our friends all had kids, so we thought we would join the race and see what it was like. So like all clock-ticking 28 year olds, I was excited and anxious to get pregnant. I wanted to experience the joy that I had heard about from friends for so long. Well, after six long months of negative tests, we decided to be more regimented. So we started charting days, taking my temperature, trying more frequently, and finally visiting with my OB-GYN. I thought my history was pretty normal. I had been on birth control of some sort since I was 17 when my parents thought it was better to be protected than not. I had no real reason to track my ovulation patterns. Besides, what healthy college kid keeps track of those things?

So when my OB came back with lab tests and explained that I had PCOS, I was a bit shocked. PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a condition in which your hormones aren’t being put out in equal proportions, making your ovulation cycle too long or too short and the likelihood of getting pregnant very slim. Women with PCOS may have acne, enlarged ovaries with small cysts, lack of ovulation and/or irregular menstrual periods, decreased breast size, hirsutism (male pattern hair growth), infertility, insulin resistance, male-pattern hair loss and fat deposition, weight gain, or central obesity.

“Weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, acne,
excessive hair growth, and loss of hair are signs of PCOS.”

I don’t have many of those common signs that indicate to a doctor that I may have that condition, but I still had it. We were left with the understanding that we could continue to try to get pregnant on our own, but we would probably end up frustrated. So we started infertility treatments. Long story short, after the third treatment in three months, we were successful, and 9 months later, our baby boy was here.

Flash forward two years, and it is time for baby number two. Since we knew about the big glitch in my chemistry we decided to go another, natural route this time. I started by seeing a local Ayurvedic practitioner who took my history and documented everything about me, from how my tongue looks to how much I sleep at night, and all the information in between. She directed my diet to help combat the PCOS condition in my dominant kapha dosha, and gave me some recommendations on what herbs and teas to drink to promote ovulation and cleanse my body.

By the 5th month of my regularly drinking specialty tea and taking ghee and castor oil, my menstrual cycles started to become more and more regular. I went from having a 44-day cycle to a consistent 30-31 day cycle. So we decided to try again and it worked! We only had two months under our belt when the pink line appeared. And I was overjoyed. We did it au naturale, the way nature intended. I was so dreading the negative test after negative test, I almost didn’t want to test myself at all, ever again. But, thanks to routine, ancient medicine, and some hope, we didn’t have to try for long.

So, I am happy and excited to announce that the end of this June we will be welcoming a baby girl into our family. Fertility and hormones are complicated, but I am confident that the Ayurvedic steps I took played a role in my becoming pregnant without drugs, injections, or stress.

Alternative Chiropractics

by Dr. Allan Lindlsey

Wondering how there can be such a thing as alternative chiropractic? As mainstream health care, alternative medicine, and general understanding of the eastern hemisphere all develop, so do the approaches and practices of medical professionals on our half of the globe.

A growing population of chiropractors practicing Applied Kinesiology is just one example. Applied Kinesiology is best understood as a chiropractic approach to the study of motion. It focuses on helping a person’s body heal itself, not on the treatment or the symptom.

A practitioner in this ideology focuses on finding the root of the problem, recognizing that sometimes a subluxation in the spine is the answer. But that it’s also possible this is just a symptom of a deeper issue. This is why evaluation doesn’t consist only of a scan, x-ray, or spinal exam.

Evaluation includes three parts: structural, organs, and chemicals. Structural analysis entails looking at the functioning of the bones, muscles, and ligaments throughout the body. If the problem is not resolved with chiropractic adjustments, it is a signal that the issue is not structural.

The organs are the next point of concern. The doctor determines where distress is, analyzing the organ reflex points. Bear in mind the organs are connected to each part of the body in much the same way the spine/nerves are.

After determining trouble spots and treating accordingly, if the patient is still suffering from the same symptoms, the chemical balance in the person’s body becomes the focus. Here, again, organ reflex points are evaluated. This is where a background in chemistry comes in – what chemicals, toxins, or other factors are inhibiting the proper functioning of the body?

Essentially, if there is a repeated pattern where the chiropractic adjustment is not holding, I would begin looking at the organs and rebuild in an effort to stabilize the muscle and thus the structure of the body. If the pattern continues, nutrient repair in the body to stabilize its chemistry will be key in helping repair structure.

A ‘traditional’ chiropractor moves bones to free up the nerves – there’s an evaluation and a treatment. Applied Kinesiology goes further, involving muscle testing, evaluation of the integrity of the musco-skeletal system, working to get the receptors and tissues of the body working and functioning properly, and helping each bone, muscle, and ligament function properly. The tone, contraction, and integrity of the muscles and ligaments play a key role in how well the body holds adjustments.

The whole body’s functioning depends on many factors that may be external or internal, though the two are always interconnected.

Applied Kinesiology in a nutshell

Licensed naturopathic doctor and an American College of Nutrition-certified specialist Cathy Wong, ND, CNS, explains Applied Kinesiology in a nutshell: Applied Kinesiology is an alternative medicine diagnostic tool and treatment developed by chiropractor George Goodheart, Jr. forty years ago. It is a strength resistance test based on the link between muscles, glands, and organs. Muscle strength is tested and the strength of the muscle is believed to be related to the health of the organ or area of the body being tested. It is based on the philosophies of other holistic therapies, including osteopathy, chiropractic, meridian therapy, and physical manipulation.

Local Applied Kinesiology Chiropractors

Lindsley Chiropractic and Wellness
2004 Highland Avenue, # O, Eau Claire – 715.832.8414

Sommerfeld’s Chiropractic Health Care
6 W Saint Patrick St, Rice Lake, WI – 715.234.4222

Understanding and Conquering Clutter

by Diana DiCristina, Wind Water Harmony

Two of the fundamental principles of feng shui:
~ Everything is energy,
~ Your space reflects your life.

What does your space say about you and your life?

In your mind’s eye, enter your home through your architectural-intended front door. What do you see as if seeing your space for the first time? Go through each room, especially the bedroom and don’t forget the garage. Look under the beds, in the drawers, closets, storage areas and cupboards. Take notice of all that you see. How you feel is a reflection of the energy in your space.

When you have cleared the clutter, you will experience a calm and centered feeling, improved relationships, more money, clarity, more time and space, enhanced creativity, and living your life in harmony with the Universe.

Clutter is anything that keeps you from doing what you want to do. There are four categories of clutter: things you no longer use or love, things not organized or tidy, too many things in a small space, and anything unfinished.

Examples of clutter are mail, laundry, coats and shoes at the entry, hobbies, newspapers and magazines, recycling, collections, gifts, photos, unfinished remodeling projects, e-mail, junk drawers, clothes closet, hard drive on your computer, things on shelves, things under the sink, things in bathroom cabinets, plants, dishes, craft items, etc. You get the idea.

Why is clutter a problem? “What do I do with all my things?” you ask. Let me help you better understand clutter. No judgment allowed. If you have judgment about clutter, it will be much harder sorting through and realizing its hold on you. If your clutter controls you, you do not have freedom to make clear choices. People “shut down” where there is clutter. It totally slows you down and wastes time.

Do you think of your stuff as things you love or are they a “ball and chain”? Ask yourself, Do I love it?” If you don’t love it, someone else will. If you have something that is annoying you, be the river rather than the dam. Move it on. Someone else will be thrilled with the treasure. It is okay to have empty space. Have only the things that you love!

Identify your clutter. Ask, “Does this thing lift my energy and make me feel good? Do I love it? Does it inspire me? Is it special or just nice?” Maybe you really do love it but it brings back sad memories. Is it useful or helpful? Do I use it? Will I need to use it again?

Examine the blockages of letting go of clutter. There are only two factors we are dealing with: love and fear. Approach your clutter with love in your heart. Don’t be afraid. Believe in yourself as you sort through your things. It is safe to let go. Trust. If you find yourself keeping something “just in case,” be aware that you are keeping that thing out of fear. Letting go of your clutter is not only about looking at your stuff but also allowing yourself to look into your heart releasing the fear and trusting that the Universe will provide what you need when you need it.

There can be emotional attachments to clutter. Sentimental clutter is about who gave us the thing, not the thing. When someone dies and you have his or her belongings, go through the process of grieving before you deal with their personal affects. Things have no eternal value. You know how much you loved someone. You don’t need a thing to have that love. Cherish the memories not the thing.

When dealing with clutter, remember you do not need to have excess. You do not have to fear being with nothing. Strive to find balance. Balance in your space provides balance in your life, creating harmony.

Tune in to how something makes you feel when you see it or think about it. If it makes you feel good, find the perfect place for it. If it makes you feel bad, it’s clutter. Regardless of how much you spent on something, if it does not make you feel good, let it go.

To support your energetic intentions, wear something orange. It takes a great deal of will power to clear your clutter. Start small, perhaps with a shelf or a drawer. Remember that you must finish what you start. Otherwise, the clutter will become worse. Experience the change. Cut the energetic ties to the clutter. With a loving heart, thank the objects as you let them go.

Letting go of your clutter and conquering it is not about getting rid of “stuff” as much as it is about understanding the energetic implications. Remember, everything is energy and your space reflects your life.

Diana DiCristina of Wind Water Harmony is a successful entrepreneur specializing in spirituality, feng shui and color. She blends a kaleidoscope of professional practices and methods to help people enhance their lives by working with their environment. More information at windwaterharmony.com