Friday, April 24, 2009

Stress Relief Tip 24 April 2009

Here is your Heaven On Earth Stress Relief Tip for this week!

As you can see by my T-shirt, World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day is tomorrow, Saturday April 25, starting in the first time zone and going all around the world for the whole day, people will be doing tai-chi and qigong wherever they happen to be. I hope that you will find a group in your area if you are not from Bend. If you are from Bend, we are meeting at Compass Park at 10:00 AM. I hope you'll be there.

I highly recommend qigong as a stress-relief technique. It will calm the mind, it will soothe the body; it is also the self-healing branch of Chinese medicine.

You can do qigong on your own, there are hundreds of books and DVDs available for you to purchase almost everywhere [i.e. most bookstores]. However, if you are working on a particular health issue, I do recommend at least visiting with an instructor, someone who can help you in your practice by guiding you through the principles of Chinese medicine. They can help you understand what the moves do, how the movements are going to help You with your particular condition.

That little bit of extra help is a great idea because it will help you to more effectively to use your mind to guide your healing practice.

I hope that you will look into qigong, and taiji, both, as a way to relieve stress. It's a great way to enhance your holistic wellness.

Have a heavenly weekend!


Friday, April 17, 2009

Stress Relief Tip 17 April 2009

Here is your Heaven On Earth Stress Relief Tip for this week!

This is a tough one, and I'm not sure why people don't do it, if we think it's going to make us look incapable or whatever, but we don't ask for help when we need it.

There are two people I know who recently have gone through some challenges with their families, and one asked for help. They've come through it now, are getting over their problems, and everything has worked out very well for them. I think that's because the person who needed that help asked for it.

I know another lady who is taking care of an elderly relative and not only will she not ask for help, she won't accept help when it's offered. I honor where she is and her reasons for doing that, but at the same time she's getting very stressed out, she's getting very burned out, and it looks like she's headed for a place where not only is she not going to be able to care for her relative, she won't be able to take care of herself.

If you need a hand with something, ask. If the first person, or the second person, or even the fifth person you ask is not able to help you, honor where they are. You don't know what's going on in their lives, they really may not be able to help you at this time. Don't take "No" personally. Keep asking! The right person to help you will come along, and it will work out beautifully.

To help with that, I'd like to mention an organization for which I am the Admin person here in Bend: it's called Time Banks or Time Traders. This is a free service, a "pay it forward" organization in which you do favors for other people, and you earn time for doing that. You "pay" for favors for anything that you need by donating your time to another member. There's an online system behind this organization; you sign in, you then put in what you need and what you can do for others.

It's people helping people! If you would like more information, please send an email to me at . Put Time Traders in the subject. If you would like me to call you, send your phone number, or I can attach and email the information to you. Either way is fine with me! If you are interested, just let me know!

Have a heavenly weekend!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Stress Relief Tip 10 April 2009

Today's video is a little longer than usual because I teach you a powerfully effective qigong breathing technique that you can use anytime, anywhere to instantly reduce stress!

(If you would like to know more about qigong or the Eight Healing Sounds, please send me a note at Private lessons are available. I will also be leading the opening breathing exercise and demonstrating the Eight Healing Sounds of Yin Style Ba Gua for World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day on April 25 from 10 to 11 AM in Compass Park, 2500 NW Crossing Dr. in Bend. Everyone is welcome, so come and join me and other fine qigong and taiji instructors, and take advantage of this opportunity to sample a few different styles of qigong and taiji!)

Here is your Heaven On Earth Stress Relief Tip for this week!

Breathing! You all know proper breathing is great to relieve stress, but breathing is obviously such an automatic thing that doing it in a mindful, conscious manner is not something that we often think to do.

Today I'm going to combine breathing with some simple motions that will make it mindful, that will make it conscious, that will make it "in the moment," and that will keep you in the moment.

Even thought it seems like a very simple and easy thing to do, this is a very powerful stress-relief technique. It is actually the first move in a qigong style called the Eight Healing Sounds of Yin Style Ba Gua.

What we’re going to do in this practice is breath all the way down into our abdomen. Abut four fingers width below your navel is a spot called the dan tien. This is one of the major energy centers in your body.

When we inhale, I want you to imagine you are inhaling all the way down into that dan tien. When you exhale, I want you to think of and imagine you are relieving stress; you are breathing the stress out while making the sound "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh."

Just imagine how you would feel or what you would say if you were relaxing into the biggest, fluffiest, most comfortable recliner you have ever sat in, in your entire life. You just think, "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh."

Really let that sound come through. That's what sets the vibration going, that's what gets your energy moving, that's what brings you back into harmony and balance. So, inhale again, all the way down into your abdomen, and exhale while breathing "Ahhhhhhhhh."

Now I’m going to explain a very simple hand motion to go along with that. (See the video for a demonstration!) Follow along while we do the first position from the Eight Healing Sounds of Yin Style BaGua.

Remember, the dan tien is four fingers width below your navel. Inhale into the dan tien while you reach your arms out from your sides like wings, and raise your arms up over your head, palms facing upward. At the top of your reach, turn your palms to point forward and hold your hands bent at the wrist as if you were wiping down a wall while you exhale and vocalize the "Ahhhhhhhhhhh" sound.

Repeat: inhale as you reach your arms out from your sides like wings. Again, raise your arms up over your head, palms facing upward. At the top of your reach, turn your palms forward and hold your hands bent at the wrist as if you were wiping down a wall while you exhale and vocalize the "Ahhhhhhhhhhh" sound.

Remember to imagine the stress leaving your body as you exhale.

Repeat as needed to relieve stress!

Don't forget, if you would like to know more about qigong or the Eight Healing Sounds, please send me a note at Private lessons are available. I will also be leading the opening breathing exercise and demonstrating the Eight Healing Sounds of Yin Style Ba Gua for World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day on April 25 from 10 to 11 AM in Compass Park, 2500 NW Crossing Dr. in Bend. Everyone is welcome, so come and join me and other fine qigong and taiji instructors, and take advantage of this opportunity to sample a few different styles of qigong and taiji!

Have a heavenly weekend!


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Budget Trimming Tips for a Down Economy

I found this article a while ago, and it has some great ideas for cutting expenses in this challenging economy! I've taken the liberty to add some comments in red, too.


Budget Trimming Tips for a Down Economy

by Laura Rowley on Wednesday, November 5, 2008

There's plenty of advice out there to help slash your spending -- get rid of your car, throw out the television, grow your own vegetables, rent out the attic to a college student. But maybe you need a car to drive to work, have no time to garden, enjoy relaxing in front of the tube occasionally, and don't want to bump into an 18-year-old stranger in your bathrobe.

Here are eight ways to tweak your budget and save $500 by the year's end -- with minimum hassle, and without radically changing your lifestyle.

1. Cable TV: If you pay for premium cable services -- extra channels, HBO, etc. -- call your cable company and put your service on "vacation mode" between now and the end of the year. You'll still receive basic service, but save temporarily on the extras.

We did this recently because we were having work done in the basement/TV room. We eliminated the "preferred tier" for two months (we don't get the movie channels), saving $15.99/month. (Comcast charged $1.99 for the change, so the total savings was $30.)

I still pay $40 per month for the basic service. Who watches 200 channels a month anyway?

2. Prescriptions: Only about one-third of prescription drug purchases are mostly or fully covered by insurance, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey, and prices can vary by as much as $100 for the same drug. Always ask your physician for a generic equivalent, which can cost up to 40 percent less, then shop around.

About a dozen states sponsor websites that help you compare prescription prices. Discount stores such as Wal-Mart and Target offer the most popular generic drugs, including antibiotics and medications for asthma, arthritis, diabetes, and high cholesterol, for as little as $4 a month.

I tested out comparison-shopping on the web and phone to save on a common antibiotic, Amoxicillin (250mg, 30 capsules), and it took about five minutes. First I searched New York State's drug comparison website for amoxicillin at local pharmacies in New Rochelle, which charged from $13.64 to $17.09. Then I called Wal-Mart in nearby White Plains, which charged just $4, and Costco, which offered the drug for $6.90 (no membership required). Savings from highest to lowest pharmacy: $13.09.

Do qigong instead of taking drugs! Most drugs come with debilitating side effects and, in the long run, cause more problems than symptoms they suppress. The most powerful healing element you have is the power of your mind!

3. Cell phones: Take a look at your actual usage and make sure your plan matches your behavior -- are you using all your minutes? Wasting money on extra services or old ringtones?

For example, I used to pay $40 for unlimited megabytes to check email on my phone. But I realized I wasn't actually checking email that way very often. I called and asked for the cost of my actual megabyte usage the previous month: $6. By paying for the bytes used (and eliminating text messaging altogether) I save $30 to $35 a month.

If you tend to go over your allotted minutes (at a cost of 40 to 45 cents a minute), register for free with a service called OverMyMinutes. It will alert you by text or email when you're at your limit. you really need to use a cell phone so much, especially since they have been linked to brain and ear and eye problems?

4. Food: This one takes a little more effort, but with about an hour of planning, I typically cut my grocery bill by one-third. I start at my grocery store's online circular, creating five to seven dinner menus based on what's on sale and in season (click on the item and the site creates your shopping list for you).

Then I head over to CouponMom or MyGroceryDeals (both free, registration required). Click on your state and local grocery store, and the sites tell you specific bargains available that week so you can stock up. CouponMom also tells you whether a coupon is available and exactly where to find it (i.e., "Smart Source insert 10/5"). I just pull the coupon inserts out of my Sunday paper every week, date them, and throw them in a drawer. I only cut a coupon when CouponMom tells me where to find it; but you don't have to do this at all to save money.

In the store, I check the price of the sale/coupon item against the generic brand to make sure it's really a deal, and then use the store's loyalty card. Using this approach, I cut a recent grocery bill from $174 to $114 for a week's worth of groceries for a family of five. (I also do a monthly warehouse club run for low-cost staples like skim milk, which freezes pretty well.)

Eat organic!!! Fresh, organic foods have from 50% to 80% higher levels of nutrients than their non-organic counterparts. You eat less and get better food and nutrients!

5. Drycleaning: "Wool, cashmere, silk, rayon, polyester, and spandex can all be laundered," says Lindsey Wieber, of The Laundress, a collection of specialty fabric care products. Manufacturers actually wash the fabric before they construct it into a garment, she explains, and add the "dry clean only" label to avoid liability issues. Wieber and co-founder Glen Whiting, both Cornell University graduates, work with one of their former professors (who has a doctorate in fiber science) to create new enzyme formulas that clean without damaging clothing.

Hand-wash or use a mesh bag in the washing machine (delicate cycle on cool). Lay wool and cashmere flat to dry; everything else, including cotton and linen, can be thrown in the dryer on a low-heat setting, then pressed. Hang up and air out suits immediately; use a lint-free cloth and a stain-removing product to eliminate perspiration or other stains on the inside lining, and spot clean exterior stains. Using this method, Wieber says, suits only need to be dry cleaned two to four times a season. (Savings in our household: About $30 a month.)

I agree, and remember to use a fragrance-free, and chemical-free soap!

6. Utilities: You can get a basic programmable thermostat for as little as $23 at the hardware store, but can save as much as 25 percent on your energy bills by turning down the heat (or air conditioning) when you're away from home or asleep. For the average utility payer, that works out to about $250 a year, or $21 a month (so ideally, you roughly break even in November, and save $21 in December and thereafter).

In addition, water bills can be cut back 25 percent by replacing your old showerheads and faucets with low-flow aerating models. Look for 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) or less; Home Depot sells showerheads at 1.6 gpm for as low as $12. (Savings in our household after the initial investment: About $10/month.)

These are great! We have used programmable thermostats on both a gas furnace, and now gas-powered heating stoves (which look like wood-burning stoves and have the ambiance of a real fire with out the wood chips, and smoke, and soot).

7. Taxes: The market's steep decline this year offers many investors the opportunity to save by harvesting tax losses before Dec. 31. An investor can sell downtrodden securities held in taxable accounts to offset either capital gains elsewhere or as much as $3,000 in ordinary income. (Meanwhile, additional losses can be carried forward to future years. See this IRS publication for details.)

A study of 185,000 households by Fidelity found that only 10 percent of taxpayers took advantage of the full $3,000 deduction allowed under the tax code. Most of the households surveyed would have gained $500 in additional tax savings. Consider this example from the study: An investor buys a stock for $30,000, and sells it for $27,000, taking a $3,000 loss. If the household had $100,000 in adjustable gross income, harvesting the loss would have cut their tax bill by $450 if the position was held more than a year and $750 if it was held short-term. Click here for more year-end tax tips.

8. Money rituals: In their book "The Power of Full Engagement," authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz suggest that change is a matter of adopting new rituals rather than demanding we be more disciplined. "Building rituals requires defining very precise behaviors and performing them at specific times," they write.

Save money by creating quirky rituals: Save all the $5 bills from your wallet at the end of the day. Bring your lunch to work every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until the end of the year. Boost your 401(k) contribution by 1 percent every time you get a raise. Comparison shop for your auto or homeowner's insurance the day after your birthday each year.

This is very true...the more fun and quirky the practice, the more you will practice it and be engaged by it, and the more you will profit!

Small rituals become habits -- and take a lot less time and energy than watching every penny you spend. (For more savings tips, see my blog.)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Stress Relief Tip 03 April 2009

Here is your Heaven On Earth Stress Relief Tip for this week!

Everybody's talking about taxes right now. If you are one of those lucky people whose taxes are already done, good for you!

If not, here are a few tips to keep you from getting stressed out when doing taxes:

1 – Don't wait until the last minute. If you do, Murphy's Law will go into full effect and you'll have a mad scramble to meet the deadline.

2 – Remember to breathe! When doing a stressful task, you often breathe shallowly which contributes to the tension and discomfort you feel because you just aren't getting enough oxygen into your bloodstream.

3 – Take breaks while you work. Even if you're using a computer program like my husband and I did, it can take several hours to get through all the screens and forms. After an hour you start to lose your ability to focus, and your muscles start to tense up which makes the whole process not only mentally challenging but physically uncomfortable, too. For every hour you work, you should take a five-minute break. Get some exercise by walking around for a couple minutes, and take a mental break by hopping out to YouTube and watching a couple of funny videos because laughter reduces those stress hormones and increases your feel-good hormones.

Relax, get your taxes done, and have a heavenly weekend!


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Friday Food Pharmacy - Holy Powder To Spice Up Your Life

I know it's not Friday, but I just couldn't help including this one in the Friday Food Pharmacy especially since it has some heavyweight healing and health properties.

The way this spice works is really amazing, and it makes a lot of sense to start using it in more meals!

This is reprinted from the website of Dr. Joseph Mercola.

'Holy Powder' Makes Your Cell Membranes Behave for Better Health

The marigold-colored spice known as turmeric, which is revered in India as "holy powder," has been used for centuries to treat wounds, infections and other health problems. In recent years, there has been increasing research into turmeric's main ingredient, curcumin, and its astonishing array of antioxidant, anti-cancer, antibiotic, antiviral and other properties.

Now, researchers have discovered that curcumin acts by inserting itself into cell membranes and making them more orderly, a move that improves cells' resistance to infection and malignancy.

Scientists had previously speculated that curcumin does its health-promoting work by interacting directly with membrane proteins, but the new findings challenge that notion. Instead, curcumin appears to regulate the action of membrane proteins indirectly, by changing the physical properties of the membrane.


Eurekalert March 6, 2009

Journal of the American Chemical Society March 3, 2009

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Turmeric is a yellow spice most often associated with Indian food, curry and yellow mustard, but as research into this powerful spice increases, it’s becoming clear that it may be one of nature’s most powerful potential healers.

Both the ancient Chinese and Indian systems of medicine have recognized turmeric’s beneficial properties for thousands of years, but this new study is the first to show how exactly it does its work.

It appears that curcumin -- the pigment that gives turmeric its yellow-orange color, and which is thought to be responsible for many of its medicinal effects -- is able to “discipline” cells and get them back into working order. When curcumin enters a cell, the study’s lead researcher said:

"The membrane goes from being crazy and floppy to being more disciplined and ordered, so that information that flows through it can be controlled."

This not only improves your cells’ resistance to infections, but it also may help prevent cancer.

Turmeric May be a Potent Cancer Fighter

In India where turmeric is widely used, the prevalence of four common U.S. cancers -- colon, breast, prostate and lung -- is 10 times lower. In fact, prostate cancer, which is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in U.S. men, is rare in India and this is attributed, in part, to turmeric.

Numerous studies have looked into this potential cancer-fighting link, with promising results. For instance, curcumin has been found to:

• Inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells
• Inhibit the transformation of cells from normal to tumor
• Help your body destroy mutated cancer cells so they cannot spread throughout your body
• Decrease inflammation
• Enhance liver function
• Inhibit the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation
• Prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth

And according to researchers from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, curcumin blocks a key biological pathway needed for development of melanoma and other cancers.

The spice actually stops laboratory strains of melanoma from proliferating and pushes the cancer cells to commit suicide by shutting down nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB), a powerful protein known to induce an abnormal inflammatory response that leads to an assortment of disorders such as arthritis and cancer.

More Reasons to Add More Spice to Your Life

The reason people in India refer to turmeric as “holy powder” is because it has such a broad range of health effects. In fact, curcumin has been shown to influence more than 700 genes, with benefits that include:

• Strengthening and improving your digestion
• Supporting healthy liver function and detoxification
• Purifying your blood
• Fighting cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease
• Anti-inflammatory properties

Further, evidence suggests turmeric may play a beneficial role in the following diseases:

Cystic fibrosis
• Type 2 diabetes
• Crohn’s disease
• Psoriasis
• Rheumatoid arthritis

• Cataracts
• Gallstones
• Muscle regeneration
• Inflammatory bowel disease

A Few Turmeric Tips

You can absolutely use turmeric in your cooking, and in case you haven’t tried it, it has a warm, peppery flavor. However, when you do choose a pure turmeric powder, rather than a curry powder, as at least one study has found curry powders tend to contain very little curcumin, compared to turmeric powder.

Be sure to listen to your body as always, and if turmeric is a spice you do not enjoy it may be a sign that it’s not right for your body. If you are not one who enjoys the flavor of curry, you can also get the benefits of turmeric by taking it in a high-quality, organic supplement form.