Thursday, September 28, 2006

Qi Dao Newsletter

For everyone interested in self-healing, mind power, and the healing power of qigong, there will be a new issue of the Qi Dao Newsletter published shortly. To join the newsletter list, click on this post's heading or the link to the "World Institute for Self Healing Newsletter" in the sidebar. You will be taken to the group page where you may subscribe.

It's a great newsletter!


Update: if you wanted to read Qi Dao but didn't subscribe in time, click here to read the current issue (will open in Adobe Acrobat). You will still need to subscribe to the list to receive future issues.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

How much exercise is enough?

When the conversation turns to exercise, people quite often say, and the depth in their meaning is not in the words but the plaintive way they are spoken, the meaning behind the words as it were: “I know I should walk for at least half-an-hour a day, but I just can’t, so…….” they shrug in a confused and disheartened sort of way.

So? If you can’t manage thirty minutes a day (which is about 1.5 miles at a reasonable pace) straight out of the starting gate, you don’t bother to show up for the race? Is it a matter of instant gratification, being at the top of your game straight off? Or, do you think it is a waste of time to start small and work your way up to a length or level of exercise that you believe will really make a difference? If so, prepare to be surprised.

A study was conducted recently among people who were diagnosed as having pre-hypertension which is defined as a systolic blood pressure between 120 and 139, and a diastolic blood pressure of 80 to 89. These people are usually instructed to engage in moderately intense exercise for thirty minutes, several days per week. In the study, they took their exercise by walking on a treadmill.

Here is the surprise: the participants who engaged in four ten-minute walking sessions on the treadmill fared far better than the participants who engaged in one forty-minute walking session. It was concluded that the accumulated benefits of shorter exercise bursts over a longer period of time were more favorable than the immediate benefits from a single workout.

The group who worked out on the treadmill in forty-minute sessions once each day saw a reduction in both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels for about seven hours.

The group who worked out on the treadmill in short, ten-minute sessions four times a day saw their systolic pressure reduced for about eleven hours, and their diastolic pressure reduced for ten hours; that is, their blood pressures remained at lower, more natural and healthy readings for 63% (systolic) and 70% (diastolic) longer than the group that worked out for one forty-minute session.

To verify the results, a week later the groups were switched: the group that had worked out once a day for forty minutes started walking four times a day for ten minutes, and vice versa. The data examined after the switch proved that the accumulated benefit of several shorter workouts was more effective in lowering blood pressures over a longer period of time than one long workout.

Worrying about getting enough exercise can be just another source of stress! So……don’t worry or shrug or give-up if you can’t manage a thirty-minute walk every day; go for three or four ten-minute walks. It’s better for your blood pressure, anyway!

(Click here to read the abstract of this study conducted by Saejong Park, Lawrence D. Rink, and Janet P Wallace, and reported in the September 2006 issue of “Journal of Hypertension”)


I think there is an even larger lesson to be learned from this study: bigger, faster, or longer is not always better. Doctors have already applied this advice to eating habits, saying that eating four or even five small meals a day is healthier than eating two or three larger meals.

This lesson can be applied to stress management, too. Procrastination and worry over how to complete that “two-ton task” can cause a lot of stress, often in the form of sleepless nights spent tossing and turning and wondering how you were going to “get it done.” If you have been putting off a big project because you can’t complete it in one session, break the task up into smaller pieces and do them over a longer course of time. This may be advantageous in the long run; you can assess the project and the progress of the task, and make enhancing modifications you might not have noticed if you had just plowed through and finished the project in one fell-swoop.

Combine your planning with your walking: walk for five or ten minutes during your breaks or lunch hour and let your mind wander. You will be surprised at how often you will come up with the solution to a problem this way.

Happy walking!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Go with the flow

Shui

Water


This Friday offers a timely, symbolic opportunity to make some improvements in your life: make a pact with yourself to “go with the flow.”

If you live anywhere in the Americas, September 22, 2006 is the day of both a New Moon and the Autumnal Equinox. In the primal, universe-creating Chinese wheel of the year, the Autumnal Equinox and the Moon are both represented by the energy phase or "element" of water. Just as water flows underground, water energy is yin and dark and sometimes hidden like the New Moon. Just as the running water of a stream can bore through a mountain, or a creeping glacier can gouge out a gorge, water energy is very powerful. The secret of water energy is its constant movement. When water becomes stuck or stands still, it loses all its power.

When your energy becomes stuck, you lose all your power, too, your power to be balanced and healthy. In Chinese Medicine, illness is caused by stagnant internal energy known as “qi” or “chi”, or the interrupted flow of your internal energy. In day-to-day life, stress is often caused by being stuck as well, stuck in a boring rut or a bad mental or emotional situation which can lead to physical illness.

To be balanced and healthy, you must make the decision to “go with the flow.” The counterculture of the 1960's may have popularized that phrase but the concept originated with the writings of Lao Tzu (considered to be the father of Daoism) a few thousand years earlier in China. He wrote about the advantages and benefits of living in balance and harmony with the natural world. In Chapter Eight of his Dao De Jing (a.k.a. Tao Te Ching), he explains the energy that is symbolized by water and the reasons to emulate it.

Below are two versions of Chapter Eight; the translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English, and Steve Mitchell's translation. The newest editions of both books are available from my online store in association with Amazon.com, “manuscripts, movies, & music

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Complete Tao Te Ching

Translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English, Vintage Books, 1989


The highest good is like water.

Water give[s] life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.

It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.

In dwelling, be close to the land.

In meditation, go deep in the heart.

In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.

In speech, be true.

In ruling, be just.

In daily life, be competent.

In action, be aware of the time and the season.

No fight: No blame.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tao Te Ching

Translated by Stephen Mitchell, Harper Perennial; Compact edition, 1992


The supreme good is like water,

which nourishes all things without trying to.

It is content with the low places that people disdain.

Thus it is like the Tao.

In dwelling, live close to the ground.

In thinking, keep to the simple.

In conflict, be fair and generous.

In governing, don't try to control.

In work, do what you enjoy.

In family life, be completely present.

When you are content to be simply yourself

and don't compare or compete,

everybody will respect you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few final words of wisdom from a gentleman whose works and words I have long admired: the writing "Water" from Everyday Tao by Deng Ming-Dao, Harper San Francisco, NY, 1996, also available at “manuscripts, movies, & music:"

Shui

Water.

The Chinese character shows the flowing of a stream.

Water is life.

When the ancients and their students stopped to rest by a pure flowing stream, the teachers compared Tao to water.

Water is flowing.

Every drop is made of the same substance. Water never fears being divided, because it knows it will flow back together in time. It is eternal.

Water is powerful.

Although it can be soothing, comforting, and cleansing, it can also be enormous, mighty, and overpowering. Its nature is constant. It is true to itself at any extreme.

Water is profound.

In the depths of the lakes, in the darkness of the oceans, it holds all secrets. It is dangerous. It is mysterious. Yet life came from those depths.

Water is unafraid.

From any height, it will plunge fearlessly down. It will fall and not be injured.

Water is balanced.

No matter what the situation is, water will seek its own level as soon as it is left alone. Water will always flow downward to the most stable level. It conforms to any situation in a balanced way.

Water is nourishing.

Without water, no plant and no living creature could survive.

Water is still.

It can be completely still, and in its stillness, mirror heaven perfectly.

Water is pure.

It is transparent, clear, needing neither adornment nor augmentation.

For all these features -- to be flowing, powerful, profound, unafraid, balanced, nourishing, still, and pure -- one who would follow Tao need only emulate water in every way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Now there's a formula for a reasonable and relaxed way of life. Don’t wait until Friday! Start today to "go with the flow."

Friday, September 15, 2006

To Do Lists

A few days ago, a friend of mine growled that she wasn’t sure if her To-Do list was growing while she wasn’t looking or if her days were getting shorter, but she didn’t seem to be making any progress into reducing the length of the list. There was always so much to do, and so little time…. Considering the way she looked at the list, it’s a wonder it didn’t spontaneously combust right there in her hand!

A “To-do” list is a great reminder, but it sure can boost the pressure and the stress if you let it. Make sure you control the list; don’t let the list control you.

Here are a few things you can do to keep the list from getting the upper hand.

1. Use your two “ize:” organize and prioritize.

Write at the top of your list: “Should do today” and list the five most important tasks to complete for the day. No more than five, please! These should be the tasks that have deadlines within the next couple of days, and projects for which you have all the resources and are prepared to complete. If you have a high-priority project or task, but do not have all the materials you need to complete it, do not rank that project in the top five. Instead, you might include gathering the materials in your 1 to 5 ranking so you will be prepared for this project the next day. Make sure this “top five” list includes at least one job or task that is something you will enjoy doing. Looking at a list of things you don’t like to do can be depressing, and will adversely affect your mood and efficiency.

Next, write: “If there is time” and list the five tasks that follow the first five in importance. If you get to work on any of the items in this second group of five, fine; if not, without feeling guilty you can move them to the top of the list for tomorrow.

Next, write: “Do whenever” and list the rest of the tasks that you know you will have to complete sooner or later, but are low priority. There can be any number of “whenever” tasks or projects, but try to keep the list reasonably short so as not to look overwhelming. “Whenever” tasks are often notes to yourself, “ticklers” as one of my former employers called them; they “tickle” your memory but are not immediate tasks or projects that you must deal with. Keep your “To Do” list on the straight and narrow by writing these ticklers on a separate “Tickle” list.

Here is the part people find most difficult: Stick To Your List! At least part of the frustration many people feel today is due to hopping from one task to another, doing part of many but completing none. If you gathered your materials together before you started the job (see item 2 below), you should be able to sail through your task without needless interruption. Once you have written your list, do finish each task in order, and do not change the priority of the items unless you absolutely must.

2. Start each task by gathering together all the materials you will need to do the job. Nothing wastes your time more than interrupting your work to go get that report you need from Beth, or that box of parts from Steve. Not only does it waste time, it interrupts the flow of work and thought, and when you return, you take even more time reorienting yourself to the task. I call this the “Now, where was I?” syndrome. Sometimes this can’t be avoided, but do avoid it if you can.

3. When you do complete a task, congratulate yourself, cross it off the list, and put the project, report, or other accomplishment as far away as possible! Any finished reports or projects should be sent on their way or put out of sight. Once you have gone on to the next job, you do not want to be tempted by it beckoning to you from the edge of the desk to go back and “improve” the work already finished.

4. Take a break between jobs, especially if you have spent more than ninety dedicated minutes on it. It is a fact that people begin to lose the ability to focus after an hour or so of intense concentration. (Yes, this really does mean you, too.) You are not doing yourself or anyone else any favors by pushing on or toughing it out on a long project. In fact, you may end up taking longer to complete it or redoing parts of it because of the detrimental effect working without a break has on your ability to concentrate. Wise and effective people take a few minutes each hour to walk around or stand up and stretch, or just get away from the desk or workbench for a few minutes. See my previous article “Stand up and stretch! You will be better able to concentrate, and will complete your work in less time than if you had not taken a break.

The sad fact is working yourself to the point of burnout does not make you indispensable, it makes you disposable.

5. Revamp and reorganize your list at the end of the day. This finalizes your day, brings some closure to whatever crazy things went on as you tried to work through the ringing phones and other interruptions. Updating your list at the end of the day allows you to go home and relax knowing everything is as prepared as possible for the next day. You can always reassess and rearrange the list in the morning if priorities have changed overnight.

Take the last ten minutes of your day to rewrite your list so it is neat. When you see your list in the morning, it sets the tone for your day; you do not want to enter your office or workspace and begin your day by trying to decipher a scribbled-on, crossed-off, circled, starred, or otherwise messy list that you can barely read. If you start off fresh, clean, and neat, knowing what you need to accomplish, and having all the materials at hand so you can complete your tasks, your day will go much more smoothly!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

How to Eat Right to Reduce Stress

This article is reprinted with permission from the PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) website.


How to Eat Right to Reduce Stress

During times of stress, we often turn to traditional "comfort" foods such as macaroni and cheese, pizza, and ice cream. Ironically, these high-fat foods are usually the worst possible choices because they can make us feel lethargic and less able to deal with stress. Not only that, but stress can drive up our blood pressure and raise serum cholesterol levels, wreaking havoc on our arteries and increasing our risk of heart attack.

The best solution? Low-fat, high-fiber, carbohydrate-rich meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables. They soothe us without sapping our energy and give us the nutrients we need to boost our immune system. Here's a guide to which foods reduce stress and which foods make it worse:

Foods to Include

High-fiber, carbohydrate-rich foods: Scientists believe carbohydrates cause the brain to produce more serotonin, a hormone that relaxes us. And lots of fiber is helpful in preventing late-night binging. Some examples of healthy comfort food include baked sweet potatoes, minestrone soup, or sautéed vegetables over rice.

Fruits and vegetables: Chronic stress can weaken our ability to fight disease. By upping our intake of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, we can boost our immune system. Acorn squash and carrots, for example, are great sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene. And citrus fruits provide plenty of vitamin C, another stress-busting antioxidant.


Foods to Avoid

High-fat foods:
Fatty foods such as meat or cheese dishes and many baked goods thicken our blood which in turn makes us feel tired, even lethargic. This is clearly not a good way to reduce stress! Even just one high-fat meal can increase our risk of a heart attack.

Caffeine: Many of us deal with a stress-induced lack of sleep by turning to coffee, tea, and colas. Unfortunately, caffeine stays in our systems longer than many realize. Cutting back on caffeine can help with both sleeping problems and jitters.

Sugar: As a carbohydrate, sugar tends to calm us. The problem with sugar is that it's a simple carbohydrate so it enters and leaves the bloodstream rapidly, causing us to, in effect, "crash." On the other hand, complex carbohydrates - such as pasta, beans, and lentils, the starchy parts of foods - soothe without bringing us down.

Click here for dozens of delicious stress-reducing recipes.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Does your heart sense your emotional state?

Reprinted from the MSNBC website. You've no doubt heard that you should have an "attitude of gratitude;" be thankful for those things you have, and do not lament over those things you do not have. Here is another good reason to follow that axiom!


Stressful feelings may increase your risk of developing heart disease. Researchers at the Institute of HeartMath explain the connection

Today show Updated: 12:26 p.m. ET Jan. 26, 2006

As part of the “Heart Smarts” series, “Today” explores the link between your heart health and your emotions. The heart's more than a pump — it actually sends messages to the brain. Dr. Rollin McCraty of the Institute of HeartMath visited “Today” to discuss the science behind the theory.

An appreciative heart is good medicine
Psychologists once maintained that emotions were purely mental expressions generated by the brain alone. We now know that this is not true — emotions have as much to do with the heart and body as they do with the brain. Of the bodily organs, the heart plays a particularly important role in our emotional experience. The experience of an emotion results from the brain, heart and body acting in concert.

The Institute of HeartMath, a research center dedicated to the study of the heart and the physiology of emotions, has conducted numerous studies identifying the relationship between emotions and the heart. A number of their studies have provided new insight into understanding how the activity of the heart is indeed linked to our emotions and our health, vitality and well-being.

Emotions and the heart
Recent HeartMath studies define a critical link between the heart and brain. The heart is in a constant two-way dialogue with the brain — our emotions change the signals the brain sends to the heart and the heart responds in complex ways. However, we now know that the heart sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. And the brain responds to the heart in many important ways. This research explains how the heart responds to emotional and mental reactions and why certain emotions stress the body and drain our energy. As we experience feelings like anger, frustration, anxiety and insecurity, our heart rhythm patterns become more erratic. These erratic patterns are sent to the emotional centers in the brain, which it recognizes as negative or stressful feelings. These signals create the actual feelings we experience in the heart area and the body. The erratic heart rhythms also block our ability to think clearly.

Many studies have found that the risk of developing heart disease is significantly increased for people who often experience stressful emotions such as irritation, anger or frustration. These emotions create a chain reaction in the body — stress hormone levels increase, blood vessels constrict, blood pressure rises, and the immune system is weakened. If we consistently experience these emotions, it can put a strain on the heart and other organs, and eventually lead to serious health problems.

Conversely, HeartMath’s research shows that when we experience heart-felt emotions like love, care, appreciation and compassion, the heart produces a very different rhythm. In this case it is a smooth pattern that looks like gently rolling hills. Harmonious heart rhythms, which reflect positive emotions, are considered to be indicators of cardiovascular efficiency and nervous system balance. This lets the brain know that the heart feels good and often creates a gentle warm feeling in the area of the heart. Learning to shift out of stressful emotional reactions to these heartfelt emotions can have profound positive effects on the cardiovascular system and on our overall health. It is easy to see how our heart and emotions are linked and how we can shift our heart into a more efficient state by monitoring its rhythms.

Benefits come from being appreciative
The feeling of appreciation is one of the most concrete and easiest positive emotions for individuals to self-generate and sustain for longer periods. Almost anyone can find something to genuinely appreciate. By simply recalling a time when you felt sincere appreciation and recreating that feeling, you can increase your heart rhythm coherence, reduce emotional stress and improve your health.

For people who may initially find it difficult to self-generate a feeling of appreciation in the present moment, experts suggest that they recall a past memory that elicits warm feelings. With practice, most people are able to self-generate feelings of appreciation in real time and no longer need the past time reference. Dr. Rollin McCraty, director of research for the Institute of HeartMath, says, “It’s important to emphasize that it is not a mental image of a memory that creates a shift in our heart rhythm, but rather the emotions associated with the memory. Mental images alone usually do not produce the same significant results that we’ve observed when someone focuses on a positive feeling.”

Positive emotion-focused techniques, like those developed by HeartMath, can help individuals effectively replace stressful thoughts and emotional patterns with more positive perceptions and emotions. One of the long-term benefits to be gained from the practice of these kinds of techniques is increased emotional awareness. This increased awareness can help individuals maintain a more consistent emotional balance, a fundamental step in the process of improving cardiovascular health.

Diet and exercise will continue to be an important factor in keeping the heart healthy. However, there is increasing awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy emotional state for those recovering from heart-related illnesses, as well as for maintaining heart health. Studies have shown that positive emotion-focused techniques reduce stress and anxiety, which is a safe and effective way to lower blood pressure and increase functional capacity in heart failure patients. This approach is currently being used in a number of hospitals and cardiac rehabilitation programs around the country.

For more information on the Institute of HeartMath, check out www.heartmath.org/today. © 2006 MSNBC Interactive

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Amazing Coffee Art

Talk about playing with your food.....this is absolutely amazing, and very fun and cool! Here is someone who really loves her job.

Gotta love it!!


Friday, September 08, 2006

Speaking of food....

I've been "tagged" by Geraldine from Veggies, Crafts & Tails.....my first! :-)

Soooooooo.....what five foods would I like to eat before I die?
Hmmmmmm....

5 - octopus. My son the sushi-lover likes it; tells me I have to try it someday.
4 - chocolate chili. I have to agree with Geraldine, it sounds intriguing.
3 - baked Alaska. I want to see for myself that the ice cream really doesn't melt all over the place.
2 - authentic German sauerbraten. I love German cuisine, and would love a taste of the "real thing."
1 - a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. I've heard that it's about the best coffee on the planet, and I Love my coffee.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Chocolates may replace dogs as "man's best friend!"

Photo by Christopher Lee for Martine's Chocolates.

It won’t lick your nose or keep your feet warm on a cold winter night, and you probably won’t get your exercise by taking it for "walkies," but chocolate therapy may be just as beneficial for the reduction of your stress as a canine companion.

A study of older men done over ten years in The Netherlands resulted in findings of lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of death for those who consumed one-third of a chocolate bar every day. The reason, researchers believe, is because cocoa beans contain flavanols, which allow vascular tissue to relax hence allowing blood to flow more freely, and which also are thought to increase nitric oxide in the blood. The study followed the eating habits of 470 healthy men who were not taking medications to reduce blood pressure. Of course, other factors may have contributed to their good health, but "[the] men who ate the most products made from cocoa beans — including cocoa drinks, chocolate bars and chocolate pudding — had lower blood pressure and a 50 percent lower risk of death." It was noted that the men eating the most cocoa products were not heavier or bigger eaters than the men who ate less cocoa.

Another study completed with volunteers from the Kuna Tribe of the San Blas Islands near Panama, a people among whom high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases are rare, showed twice the level of urinary nitric oxide and elevated levels of epicatechin (one of a group of chemicals known as flavanols) in people who drank three to four cups of cocoa daily. Interestingly, "Kuna [people] who migrated to the suburbs of Panama City on the mainland drink only about four cups of cocoa per week and do not enjoy the same level of cardiovascular health."

A cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter's night makes you feel warm and cozy, and it may improve your immune system therefore aiding in preventing ailments like colds and flu. Chocolate is high in antioxidants and helps to counteract the damage done to bodily tissues. By capturing the "free radicals" left behind, chocolate’s antioxidants may help prevent stroke, heart disease, and cancer. Chang Yong Lee, a researcher at Cornell University, "found that hot cocoa, on a per-serving basis, has four to five times more antioxidants than black tea, two to three times more than green tea, and almost two times more than red wine."

Chocolate has also been found to contain phenolics, the same chemical found in red wine that helps lower the risk of heart disease. It reduces the oxidation of LDL, low-density-lipoprotein ("bad") cholesterol, preventing it from creating plaque in the arteries.

Speaking of cholesterol, a chocolate bar is very low in cholesterol. A 1.65 oz. bar contains only 12 milligrams! A one-ounce piece of cheddar cheese contains 30 milligrams of cholesterol - more than double the amount found in a chocolate bar.

One component of chocolate is phenylethylamine (or PEA). This has an antidepressant effect, and it has been suggested by some researchers that a PEA deficiency may be the cause of common bouts of depression. This is especially interesting in light of the fact that in the past, people ate more chocolate in the winter than in the summer. It seems they knew chocolate was the answer to the depression felt by those who might experience SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. Chocolate also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-relievers.

Many people think that drinking a cup of cocoa before bed, or even eating a piece of chocolate late in the day, will keep them awake due to the caffeine content of chocolate. This is unlikely since one "cup [of] cocoa contains only 0-25 mg of caffeine, while the same amount of coffee contains 50-175mg of caffeine." Martine and I both agree that, in our experience, a cup of hot chocolate before bed leads to a better, more relaxing, more satisfying sleep.

Another common myth is that chocolate causes acne. "Experiments conducted at the University of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Naval Academy found that consumption of chocolate -- even frequent daily dietary intake -- had no effect on the incidence of acne. Professional dermatologists today do not link acne with diet."

One plain milk-chocolate candy bar contains more protein than a banana.

Ten percent of U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of iron is found in one ounce of baking chocolate or cocoa. Chocolate also contains Vitamins A1, B1, B2, C, D and E as well as calcium, potassium, sodium and iron.

Of course, just like everything else in life, too much of a good thing isn't good for you. However, there is ample research showing that a little chocolate every day is no cause for guilty feelings; you are doing yourself a very healthy favor by indulging in a delicious chocolate creation every day and a cup of hot cocoa before bed.

Thank you to Martine at Martine’s Chocolates for permission to post the photo of the chocolate St. Bernard. From the website: "Martine's Chocolates are upscale confections handmade fresh daily, right in front of the customers, by Martine's own chefs chocolatiers, at Martine's Chocolates shops in Manhattan: at Bloomingdale's (6th floor, Main Course) and at Martine's Chocolates too, recently opened (400 East 82nd Street., right off First Avenue)." The store features many breeds of chocolate dogs as well as other delightful and delicious chocolate creations. Martine’s will gladly fill your domestic and international orders. Please pay a visit online to Martine's Chocolates.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

5 A Day

"5 A Day" is a guest article by Amit from The Power of Choice blog. The five simple but very effective things outlined below will not only keep your soul or spirit happy, but will go a long way toward helping you to manage your stress.


In the
UK, there has been a recent campaign to promote the eating of 5 fruits and veg a day to maintain a healthy body. That’s great, everyone wants their body to stay healthy and everyone knows how to create a healthy body and yet they will continue to eat poorly. They don’t realise the damage they’re doing by eating junk food on a daily basis.

Looking after the body is incredibly important but there is also a “5 a day” rule for keeping your soul or spirit healthy! :)

1) Meditation or prayer: - Some would say that meditation and prayer are two different things but I say that both those actions can create the same result. What do we do during prayer or meditation? We create thoughts, listen to ourselves, initiate a conversation with God, work on our self development. Either way, whatever your preferred choice of method, Meditating or praying every day will create a balance within the self.

2) Smile: - A smile goes such a long way. Give a smile to a stranger. Or if you’re not feeling confident enough about smiling at strangers, smile more with the people around you. Smile and initiate a conversation with someone at work that you’ve never met before, you will be amazed at the reaction you will get! A smile creates warmth and love in your surrounding environment.

3) Laugh: - One of my links you will see on the right links to a site about “Laughter Yoga!” Laughter is such a beneficial thing for the mind and body alike. It’s a release but also it supplements greater energy and zeal. Laugh as much as you can during your day, tell others a joke and make them laugh. Laughter is contagious! Also check out the “Motivational Humour” blog for further information on employing more humour and laughter in your daily life.

4) Give: - What you require for yourself, give to another. If you want happiness, give happiness to another. If you want peace, give peace to another, if you want understanding, give understanding to another. The more you give the more you will receive. The giving must be without expectation and must also be a humble and genuine gesture out of love or compassion for the people around you.

5) Appreciate: - Appreciate all that have and all that you are. We, as human beings, have a wonderful gift. A gift to experience anything that we choose. If you are blessed with abundance, then appreciate all that you have. Supplication closes the door to abundance whereas appreciation creates even more abundance.

So remember to meditate, smile, laugh, give and appreciate throughout your day to create a powerful and uplifting day for yourself every single day.