Spring Is a Good Time for Mindfulness

by Ann Brand

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is present-moment awareness. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the researcher responsible for bringing mindfulness practice into Western medicine, defines mindfulness as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Mindfulness practice is now part of many disciplines including health care, education, mental health, and business.

Mindfulness practice is a mental training. Using the power of our brain’s plasticity, we can shape our brains in positive ways. The more frequently we practice, the stronger the attention muscles in our brain become. The more we practice paying attention in this particular way, both through formal practice and mindfulness in everyday life, the better able we are to be present.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Mindfulness practice has many benefits. Because of advances in neuroscience, scientists are able to see how mindfulness practices work to change our brain and lead to benefits in physical health, stress reduction, attention, learning and memory, positive emotions, empathy, emotion regulation, and interpersonal relationships. Mindfulness practice can help us manage our stress and bring calm, clarity, and peace into our daily lives.

Why is the changing of seasons a good time to focus on mindfulness?
Any time of year is a wonderful time to cultivate our capacity to be mindful. That said, spring offers us the waking up of nature from the quiet sleep of winter. Nature is always in the present moment, and we can use the warm air on our skin, the singing of the birds, and the budding of the trees as anchors to the present moment. This supports us in the practice of being present and showing up to our life as it unfolds instead of the story in our head we are telling about our life.

Nature can be a helpful support to our mindfulness practice in the spring. Here are five things we can use to help us rest in the present moment:

  1. Feel the warm spring sun on your skin.
  2. Savor the taste of spring harvest from the garden.
  3. Breathe in the smells of spring—snow melting, damp earth, spring flowers.
  4. Listen to the sounds of spring-migrating birds, water flowing, kids playing outside.
  5. Open up our awareness as we walk outside, noticing when we get caught up in our thoughts and bringing our attention back to the sensations in our body as we walk.

Mindfulness practice helps us see that no matter how many times we are distracted from the present moment, we can begin again, just like nature starts over each spring in Wisconsin.

 

Ann Brand, PhD, is a mindfulness meditation teacher and lecturer at UW–Stout in the School of Education. She teaches mindfulness classes in Eau Claire at The Center and can be reached at annbrand365@gmail.com.

Sneezy, Itchy, Runny Spring Allergies

by Marybeth Buchele HMC

Sneezy, weepy eyes, runny nose, itchy eyes, nose or skin — does this sound like you in the spring?  Then read on for some suggestions that could help you feel better.

Spring allergies can be reactions to mold or to pollens.  With homeopathy, we don’t really care what you are reacting to, we just need to observe your reactions to find a remedy that matches those reactions — and then cancel out those reactions.
So your first task is to sit down and write out, as completely as possible, with lots and lots of details, what you experience when you have spring or other allergies.

For example, make sure you include what your weepy eyes feel like:  Do they sting, do they burn, do they itch, do they itch like crazy?  Do the tears make your eyelids and cheeks tender if the tears run down your cheeks?  Are your eyes gummy or crusty when you wake up in the morning?  Are there times of day you feel better or worse?

Do this with each area of your body that is bothered by your allergies.

If there are symptoms that seem to repeat from one part of the body to the other, that is particularly important.  For example, if your eyes really itch, your ears really itch and your skin really itches, pay close attention to the itchiness you experience.

Then look at the remedy statements below to find a remedy that most closely fits your symptoms.  You might want to buy the relevant remedies before allergy season so you have them on hand. Remedies can be purchased at Menomonie Market Food Co-op, Mother Nature’s Foods in Eau Claire or ordered from Main Street Market in Rice Lake and online.

Directions for taking remedies are at the end of this article.

Allium cepa:  the symptoms this remedy helps closely resemble the symptoms you might experience if you chopped up a lot of onions, which makes sense — this remedy is made from the common red onion.  So for this remedy to work, you would have to have weepy, sore eyes and a runny nose where under your nose is sore because the nasal mucus is irritating.  You might be sneezing too.

Euphrasia:  is another remedy that can work well for allergies. With this remedy, you need to have a runny nose where your nose does NOT get sore (the nasal mucus is bland or non-irritating) but your eyes are extremely sore, they may even be quite bloodshot. You may also wake with crusty eyes and have a tickling cough.

Gelsemium:  for this remedy to help your allergies, you would need to experience weakness and drowsiness with your symptoms even though you haven’t taken a decongestant. You may have really bad sneezing attacks in the morning and may be exhausted by your sneezing.

Natrum muriaticum:  with this remedy you would need to have thick mucus from your nose, almost like egg-whites. You may also have episodes of sneezing and chapped lips.

Nux vomica:  this remedy works on nasal mucus that is fluent and very runny in the morning and daytime with a very stuffy, raw nose at night. Terrible sneezing and coughing in the morning, generally worse in the morning and after eating.

Pulsatilla:  awful, itchy, drippy eyes that are better if you put a cool cloth on them. The person who does well on this remedy will prefer being chilly rather than warm and they may cough if they lie down.

To take a homeopathic remedy successfully, take two to three doses (check the label) separated by 60 to 90 minutes.  Make sure you haven’t eaten anything for at least 30 minutes before taking the remedy.  If your symptoms haven’t changed at all after these doses, stop this remedy and look for another one.

If the remedy works and then seems to wear off, if your symptoms are the same you can successfully repeat it. If the remedy wears off and your symptoms come back and are different, find a different remedy.

Repeating a remedy that no longer seems to work will not work — the remedy won’t “kick in” because it is now the wrong remedy.

Note:  many more homeopathic remedies help with allergies, if you don’t see a remedy that matches your symptoms, check out “The Complete Homeopathy Handbook” by Miranda Castro or other homeopathy books for more information.

One caution: the remedy you choose this year might not work next year, especially if your symptoms have changed even a little.  A completely different remedy might be needed each year, this is why you should write down your symptoms as completely as possible and then file that information so you can easily find it next year.  You could stop this cycle by finding the deeper constitutional remedy, working with a practitioner at a time when you aren’t in the middle of a bad attack.

Marybeth Buchele, HMC, is a professional homeopath who has been in practice 12 years and has offices in Menomonie and St. Louis Park, MN.  She works with adults, children, and the elderly, specializing in people with complex health problems. Her website is www.healthnaturally.biz and she can be reached at 715-497-6068.