Powerful Deep Breathing, Au Revoir 2021

A great way to improve your health is to create an intention or lifestyle adjustment. An intention gives voice to a way of life enhancement that aligns with your current style of living.

Breathing is a perfect function to change. It is much more than inhaling and exhaling, there are a lot of things that happen within our body that react to the way we breathe. Just like the difference between living unconsciously or consciously, how we take a breath impacts our health. The first breath we take when we are born is diaphragmatic and that is how we should breathe our entire life, but as we become adults our breathing becomes shallow. Shallow breathing increases our heart rate, blood pressure and a variety of unhealthy lifestyle conditions. One dimensional breathing allows about two cups of air into your lungs, diaphragmatic breathing allows about two or three more liters or twice as much air into your system, reducing headaches, hypertension, insomnia and muscle tension.

Typical breathing patterns are reactive, quick and shallow. Modern day lifestyles that prompt shallow breathing puts the human body in a cyclical state of stress. If you make this small lifestyle change, you’ll feel more at peace and energetic and your overall health will improve. The best and most effective way to counteract short, fast breathing is to train yourself to draw deep breaths through your nose, from your belly. Deep breathing doesn’t eliminate challenges in your life, but it does naturally calm you so you can handle whatever you’re faced with.

How breathing works:

“The trachea, or windpipe, is like the trunk of the tree,” Hoyt said. “From there, the airways divide and divide, like branches of a tree. At the end of a tree’s branches are leaves; similarly, the ends of the bronchioles have alveoli also known as air sacs, where gas exchange takes place.”

In the air sacs, freshly inhaled oxygen is passed to the blood, which is then pumped through the body; the air sacs also absorb carbon dioxide, which is then removed from the body through exhalation.

The diaphragm, a thin muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities, tightens and pulls down as you breathe in, opening the chest cavity and allowing the lungs to expand. To breathe out, your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward, pushing air out. Dr. James Hoyt, Pulmonologist

A Deep Breathing Journey That Changed My Life

As the stress increased in my career, I developed a heart racing problem. As I became more anxious, it would trigger my heart and it would race throughout the day, at times it pounded so hard that it scared me. Then about 10 years ago I learned the difference between shallow and deep breathing. A group of entrepreneurs I was in learned how to breathe through our lungs and diaphragm, deep breaths in through our nose and how to force breathe the carbon dioxide out. This practice changed the way I breathe and has eliminated the heart racing, headaches, greatly reduced stress, brought mental clarity and its become a lifestyle routine that is a part of my better health regimen.

EBKids: Respiration inhale/ exhale jrespir021j4 390 by 300 pixels by Katherine D. Burgess 23rdof March 2006

The Teachers

Dr. Andrew Weil is a doctor who practices integrative medicine. I’ve learned him for years, he offers not only benefits but the simplicity of the deep breathing method for de-stressing and avoiding many health issues that come with shallow breathing. The deep breathing exercise that takes moments to learn is described at the end of the second video, the Tedx Talk by Max Strom.

Take a few moments to begin deeper breathing for your better health:

  • Choose a place to do your breathing exercise. It could be in your bed, on your living room floor, or in a comfortable chair
  • Don’t force it. This can make you feel more stressed
  • Try to do it at the same time once or twice a day
  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Deep breathing will eventually become your way of breathing without thinking about it

The following benefits of diaphragmatic breathing have been medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT — 

  • It helps you relax, lowering the harmful effects of the stress hormone cortisol on your body.
  • It lowers your heart rate Trusted Source.
  • It helps lower your blood pressure Trusted Source.
  • It helps you cope with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • It improves your core muscle stability.
  • It improves your body’s ability to tolerate intense exercise.
  • It lowers your chances of injuring or wearing out your muscles.
  • It slows your rate of breathing so that it expends less energy.

One of the biggest benefits of diaphragmatic breathing is reducing stress.

Deep breathing is a natural, no cost practice that takes minutes to learn for a lifetime of better health.

HEALTH DISCLAIMER

This blog provides general information that discusses health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

Happy New Year

Creating Joy, Nothing is Certain Don’t Skip Sweets

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I live in the present, I truly believe that nothing is guaranteed so we must live like we don’t know if tomorrow will come so appreciate each day and have some fun.

This post is a bit different from what I usually write about because I don’t typically recommend a specific lifestyle practice. But, one morning I was enjoying a glass of iced tea with a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie I made, I relished the deliciousness and I enjoyed the break. I thought what a simple, versatile practice and anyone can enjoy it, so I decided to put it to “paper”.

Cultivating our own happiness is how we become more resilient and self-reliant. No, we don’t walk around with a smile on our face all of the time, but rather than expecting happiness to come from a person, situation or an event, make yourself happy. Happiness is an inside job that evolves by creating practices that bring joy, a smile and a feeling of pleasure, a sweet or two a day should be one way to celebrate yourself and the day and there are benefits.

About Desserts: from Szandra Szabó, Model, Pastry Chef and Business Woman

They elevate your mood
Have you ever wondered why your mood goes from drab to fab the moment you sink your teeth into a gooey chocolate cake or a chimney cake straight out of the oven? This is because desserts, specifically the sugar in the desserts, causes your brain to release endorphins such as serotonin. These hormones are responsible for making you feel happy, cheerful and calm.

Sugar reduces stress
Sugar is a great stress reliever. So, if you sometimes feel like life, work or school is bogging you down, eating a dessert can surely help you manage some of the stress. How does that happen, you may ask? Well, it has been found that sugar brings down cortisol levels to a certain degree (cortisol is the stress hormone). Although eating desserts or sugar is not a long-term solution for stress, it can give you some momentary respite.

They are a great pick-me-up.
A lot of people eat desserts when they want to reward themselves. Sweet treats offer a great pick-me-up. So, if you choose to eat a dessert after a particularly stressful week, it will instantly make you experience a sense of contentment and satisfaction.

Confections are a part of my daily routine, they are satisfying and enjoyable and prompt pleasant memories of childhood. To assure that I have the best experience, all of my sweets are homemade, with the exception of ice cream, because I use healthier ingredients and adjust the sugar. Irrespective if I eat sweets with a meal or sometime during the day, it’s an enjoyable experience that I savor, whether I have something simple like fresh fruit, breakfast sweets, a piece of chocolate or a baked good.

While your brain only accounts for 2 percent of your body weight, it uses 50 percent of the sugar energy in your body. Your brain loves sugar! Why does it love sugar? Because sugar releases dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, the part of your brain linked to reward, novelty and motivation. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter that plays a key role in controlling emotional responses. In fact, not only does it help us visualize the rewards, but it also enables us to take the action we need to achieve the reward. In addition to releasing dopamine in the brain, sugar also releases endogenous opioids. These are responsible for the wonderful surge of pleasure you feel when you eat a piece of candy. Warrell Creations

Eat Dessert First: Why It’s a Good Idea from David and Carla Hays/Mary’s Fine Dining

Whether it’s cheesecake or coconut pie, most desserts have a fair amount of fat. Too much fat isn’t good for you, but a little fat with a meal serves a useful purpose – it helps you absorb fat-soluble vitamin and nutrients better. Fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin A, D, E, and K, can’t do their jobs if they aren’t adequately absorbed from the digestive tract. Other nutrients such as the carotenoids in green, leafy vegetables and sweet potatoes also need fat for best absorption.

That’s where eating dessert first comes in. Taking a few bites of dessert before eating your vegetables helps you absorb vitamins and nutrients better – and that’s a good thing when it comes to your health.

I thought I’d share a recipe from one of my mom’s old cookbooks that I’ve enjoyed for years, it can be eaten anytime of the day.

Finnish Pancake: (4-6 servings)

Image Courtesy of JoCooks

This is a delightful custardy, souffle-like baked pancake that melts in your mouth, topped with honey or confectioners sugar and fresh fruit, it is delicious. Make sure when you remove it from the oven, you eat it immediately as it falls as it cools. (NOTE: If making for yourself, cut the ingredients in half, but must be eaten immediately)

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk or half and half
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tablespoons of butter

Preheat oven to 425o. Put an oven-proof 10-12 inch high sided frying pan in the oven for about 10 minutes to preheat. Combine the flour with milk, whisk until smooth, add eggs, honey and salt, whisk all together. Remove the pan from the oven, put the butter in the pan, when its melted, carefully pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Thank you for stopping by.

Your purpose isn’t what you do, but who you become, while doing it. ~ Matt Kahn

Will You Join Me – Home Cooking, a Benefit of Pandemic Coping

“At a scale not seen in over 50 years, America is cooking, a healthy move in the middle of a pandemic.” Hans Taparia/New York Times

The kitchen is my second favorite room in the house. I consider it a place where my creativity and love of delicious food unite to create a combination of ingredients to nourish myself and share great tasting food. Cooking and being in the kitchen gives me comfort and peace in such a strange and difficult time. My mother who created wonderful meals led the way for me, she was my teacher in the process of making food with love. While my mom passed away in 2013 she’s never left my side, whenever I cook she’s right there with me. I cannot imagine a more soul satisfying way to spend days at home then enjoying the process of making delicious, healthy meals that satisfy my intention to eat mindfully.

While there have been many negatives with COVID-19, there are a few benefits, one most prominent is the return to the core of family and cooking and serving real meals at home. Cooking at home isn’t only a means of satisfying our appetites, it is a cultural pillar of socialization that stems from the love of family, friends and the essential human bond of togetherness. This terrible situation has forced people to return to family closeness and better health.

When I was growing up, going out to eat was uncommon, our togetherness and the terrific food were matchless. Did you know that since the inception of the pandemic over 100,000 restaurants have closed, not just independently owned, but many major chains have had to close either some or all of their restaurants? My personal opinion is that eating out has become too common, as ordinary as filling a car with fuel. I see this pandemic as an opportunity for people who treat food as necessary to discover homemade food as a personal link to the care of their body as well as a fun and creative way to enjoy food.

A simple but lovely prayer that I found:

May this food that you provide
and that I prepare
bring nourishment to our bodies
and renewal to our souls.
Amen (Simon Carey Holt)

Cooking at home is a primary element to good health. A few people who have tried to promote the benefits of cooking at home made far less impact then COVID-19. A turn of events that has the potential to improve the overall health of many Americans who had previously relied on take out and restaurants in place of cooking at home. Around 30.3 million people in the US have type 2 diabetes and 84.1 million are prediabetic. making this pandemic a perfect storm to take the time to learn to cook and find ways to improve our health through fresh and healthy ingredients.

The need to home cook has never been higher, since the coronavirus has been most threatening to people with food-related chronic diseases. About 90 percent of those who become seriously ill due to the virus have an underlying condition — hypertension and diabetes being the most common. New York Times

Above and beyond the nutritional and health benefits is the connection with the ingredients that feed your body. We are evolving away from institutional, commercial food to fresh food. A better environment is created when meals are made and enjoyed at home and mental health benefits are considerable. We pay more attention to what goes in our meals and the way we feel when we eat. For instance, I’ve been slowly reducing the amount of sodium in my food to adding no salt recently. So, I’m ramping up the herbs and spices to make healthier food that is full of flavor and it’s a big success. I consider myself a home chef because I am able to create many meals without the use of a recipe, so I followed the chef standard of adding salt to everything, even sweets so this was a big change for me, but one that is driving a new creative path and a new relationship with the ingredients.

I recently watched a show where a group of people, a historian and archaeologists left the 21st century to immerse themselves in the simple and hard life on a farm in the Victorian era for a year. If you think cooking is a challenge now, just consider the life of someone who cooked using a charcoal fueled stove and oven, preparing food from scratch that they gathered from their garden where animals were butchered that they’d hand raised. That is the true spirit of home cooking embodied in a life lived naturally and self-sufficiently.

The act of cooking should be a spiritual practice that fuels the soul. Create a kitchen that is not only peaceful and beautiful but a sacred space. Here are some methods to connect the kitchen and preparation of food to the earth and all of life.

  • Declutter your kitchen, keep it clean
  • Keep in mind that this is a space where everyone will participate in the important rituals of treating their body and heart with special care
  • Make the meal cooking process an event, whether you’re cooking with someone or you’re on your own
  • Turn off and remove any electronic communication devices to increase your consciousness around the food you’re preparing
  • Be respectful of the room, of the food that is created and what the room represents, your loving care will be predominate
  • Organize the counters and cupboards for beauty and ease of use. What I had duplicates of or didn’t need, I donated. Whatever changes you make do it so you feel inspired such as adding candles, pots of herbs or flowers
  • Cook mindfully and with love paying attention to all of the dishes that you’re making. Always keep in mind that your energy effects everything around you including meal preparation

Finally, think about how you show up in the kitchen, just as you do in your relationships with people, be thoughtful and mindful of your relationship with the room and the process of preparing food. Fall into step with nature and the beauty of creating meals whether simple or complex. Enjoy and celebrate the food that you make. Let your imagination soar, with access to millions of recipes on the internet, anything is possible in the kitchen.

A Time for Mindfulness, The Sky Isn’t Falling, Maintain Serenity

Grocery shopping, usually an enjoyable experience for me was a journey into self-mastery. because I absorb and am naturally very sensitive to the energy of those around me. As I quietly walked through the store, the fear and anxiety were palpable. I witnessed out of control, panicked and worried people collecting multiple carts with several family members, pushing, shoving and racing through the store scooping large quantities of merchandise into their carts as if the world was coming to an end. While there was a temptation to find fault and judge, for my own self-protection I remained focused on what I was doing, stayed to myself and concentrated on departing when I was done.

The condition of the store (images below) was unthinkable. As the cashier was ringing me out, we chatted about the state of things, she said it is the “Chicken Little” story come to life.

“The moral of the Chicken Little story is to have courage, even when it feels like the sky is falling.

To make things worse, the media is exploding with a steady stream of inflated piffle and misinformation that frightens and upsets people. This only increases unnecessary fear that brings extreme psychological stress and out of control anxiety only increasing weakened immune systems. Fear spreading is the real danger, calm and common sense are the catalysts to avoid extreme situations that can and will take place if fear continues to dominate a very controllable circumstance.

EFFECTIVE MINDFULNESS Practices

Exercise such as:

  • Yoga, stretching, walking

Aromatherapy, use these scents to increase calm:

  • Lavender
  • Vetiver
  • Bergamot
  • Roman chamomile
  • Neroli
  • Frankincense
  • Sandalwood
  • Ylang ylang
  • Orange or orange blossom
  • Geranium

Take supplements to increase wellness:

  • ashwagandha,
  • omega-3
  • fatty acids,
  • green tea
  • lemon balm
  • valerian
  • kava kava
  • Reduce caffeine
  • Laugh
  • Eat and sleep well

Practice mindfulness through:

  • meditation
  • unplug, be present in the moment
  • watching your thoughts when they wander

Create a mini arts program for yourself:

  • play games, read a novel, relax with music

As with every difficult situation we are challenged by, It’s important to remember all we can do is our best, continue to live our lives and expect the best outcome. Whatever your spiritual practices, we can all contribute by withholding judgment, remain considerate, compassionate and understanding.

The truth is:

“The vast majority of cases are going to be mild, and people are going to recover just like they do from a cold or flu-like illness.”— Dr. Amesh Adalja

Stay well, be at peace; find the sacredness and joy in everyday life.

Be Invincible

This inspirational video is less about Jared’s problem and more about his journey.  We all have overwhelming problems that seem to be the way our life is and nothing ever seems to change.  We are so close to our problems that we don’t see that no one but us can change it.  When we finally decide to do something, we encounter what seem to be roadblocks to our outcome, when it’s all there to help us become what we are striving toward, in God’s way, love.

Jared’s story is an inspiration to us all to be unstoppable, determined and love ourselves enough to want to be the best we can be on regardless of what barriers are put in front of us.