My mum called it haldi dudh, translated it means turmeric milk, also known as golden milk or turmeric latte, I call it magic milk! I remember having a heavy cold and not being able to go to sleep. Mum brought me a hot mug of the lovely haldi dudh. My first reaction was, “Yuck!! I don’t want to drink that.” I had never drunk milk with turmeric in it and the idea grossed me. Mum encouraged me by saying “just drink a little, treat it as medicine, you’ll feel better”. The time it took me to muster courage to drink it, it had cooled down, so I closed my eyes and downed the whole lot. It actually tasted nice, and the effect was immediate! It felt like that advert for sore throat sweets where the woman eats a throat sweet and hands are massaging her throat. I fell into a deep sleep and woke up refreshed the next day. Magic milk! These days I don’t wait to be ill to enjoy this lovely recipe.
Turmeric is highly revered in Ayurvedic medicine and used extensively in Indian cooking. The health benefits of turmeric are vast. In India, turmeric milk has traditionally been given during illness to give an extra boost to recovery.
Some of the benefits of turmeric are:
Strengthens the Nervous System
Soothes the digestive system
So how do you make this lovely drink? Here’s my version of the recipe.
I scrolled down the timeline in hope. Hope of what? Hope of not missing out? Hope of something to make me laugh? Hope of filling in the time? Hope of finding…. finding what? What was I hoping to find on the timeline?
It was so easy to just keep going down the timelines of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Just one finger, moving from the bottom of the phone screen to the top. So easy, so seductive, impossible to get away.
I was a conscious social media user. Look at me! I had the notifications turned off, and I wasn’t on the phone all the time. I would put my phone away if I was in company. So good! So sensible! If I was so good, why was I getting overwhelmed with all the constant checking? Oh, and that feeling of hopelessness after putting the phone down! Well whatever I was hoping for certainly was not on the timelines.
This was me two years ago. As an adult, who had known life before the smart phone, I was aware that this was not healthy behaviour. This behaviour was akin to addiction.
My concerns were confirmed by a BBC Panorama documentary, Smartphones — The Dark Side which looked at how social media companies have deliberately developed habit forming technology. It was interesting to see how the developers themselves did not use this technology, and protected their children from it as well.
I didn’t want to give up the smart phone altogether because there were so many benefits to it. However, I wanted to create a more conscious relationship with it so I took the following steps:
Deleted all social media apps from my phone.
Turned my phone black and white. (Yes there is a setting for that!)
Put the phone away from me when going to bed.
Checked my messages only when I had time to reply.
All of a sudden there was more time and space. The result was a feeling of calmness, presence and hopefulness. So this is where hope had been hiding all along! What are your hopes and are they on the timeline of the social media app? What could you do with the extra time and freedom?
Is it really all bad?
The year is 2020, and I am stuck abroad as the lockdown comes into force around the world with countries closing their respective borders, and tourists being stranded without flights. I download the social media apps on my phone to find out what is going on. I find groups online of others who are stuck abroad and this gives me hope and a sense of connection. I am able to get information via social media which is not available anywhere else and find a way of getting back home.
As we are forced to physically distance in this new world, social media has provided a way to connect with our loved ones. At a time when the mouth is being covered by a mask, it has provided the platform from where people are able to speak their truth.
Unconscious Numbing Behaviour
Recently, I found myself scrolling down the timeline in hope… been here before!! I knew what to do!! This time I took it a step further and deleted the shortcuts off my laptop’s browser. It was too easy to click on it in ‘hope’. Now when I want to visit the social media sites I have to type it in. I find this extra step stops me from mindlessly wandering through the timelines.
Why do we get into this numbing behaviour?
A new documentary on Netflix The Social Dilemma echoes the message of the BBC documentary with the tech experts sounding the alarm on the addictive nature of the technology, and taking it a step further by exposing how this technology is being used to manipulate human psychology to influence our behaviour. Yes, it does sound terrifying!
Reports from those that have watched the documentary are feelings of anxiety and anger. Anger is a symptom of feeling helpless or out of control. Remember, you have a choice and control over your own actions and choices. You are a conscious being, and you have the right to exercise your right to being conscious with your actions. Is your relationship with social media, conscious or unconscious? If we are not living a conscious life, we are living an unconscious life. Either way, our breaths are being used up. How do you want to live your life?
How easy it is to say that we need to live consciously. If it was that easy we would all be doing it all the time. Instead we allow ourselves to be numbed by random videos and posts as we scroll down the timelines of the respective social media apps. For a short time, we have a sense of hope, a sense that we are doing something, something that feels nice. The likes and the comments release a dopamine, signaling to the body that this feels good, and to keep doing this. The life away from the screen does not feel good, and that is the real problem. The problem is not that this technology is addictive, the problem is that it feels better than the life we are living.
To change the life we are living takes an initial input of energy. It takes time and effort to reassess our lives and look at what is working and what needs to be improved. It takes time and effort to work out our values and what is important to us and then to create a life that we love. Sometimes that is exactly what can stop us. If we feel love and joy, it means we can feel! Feeling can mean that we also feel other emotions which we are hiding deep inside, emotions which are painful; in fact these emotions which have been repressed so deeply are the cause of the physical pain and diseases that show up in the body.
Feel the Emotion
How do you deal with these emotions which are stopping you from living a conscious life? Well in short, feel the emotion. Feel the uncomfortable emotion until it goes away. Write to the emotion, sing to emotion, do what you have to do, but acknowledge that it is there and then feel it. You will also find other emotions sitting with the original emotion. Feel them, they are stuck in the body, only because you are using all your energy to not feel them. The emotions got stuck in the body during a traumatic time, when to feel these emotions would have been overwhelming for the body, and in order to protect you the body disassociated from feeling. Now they need to be felt, so they can be released.
Put a timer in front of you. Then find the uncomfortable emotion in the body. Then sit and feel it. Within three minutes the emotion will dissipate. Yes, that is all the time it takes, but we don’t like to feel these uncomfortable emotions such as sadness, fear, helplessness. Instead it is so much easier to reach for anything that will numb these feelings, and with the phone as our constant companion it is not difficult to find something that will soothe away this uncomfortable feeling. If you cannot feel the sadness, then you will not be able to feel the joy either.
The Colour of Joy!
The developers of the apps use the colour red in their notifications. The colour red is also a colour of joy and vibrancy. Our brain has an association of urgency with the colour red and lights up to take action. However, the action that we take by clicking on the app, does not result in true joy and vibrancy. The true joy and vibrancy come from within. True joy and vibrancy are not urgent, but slow and steady. What is your true joy?
I love how I can use social media for connection and finding out so many new and wonderful things. Yes, I have found myself being soothed by random videos or posts, and I am aware that I have the potential to waste time. However, I also find that this behaviour is more so when I am not conscious. Now, when I find myself in this mindless, unconscious behaviour, I use this to remind myself to stop, breathe and become aware of how I am feeling. If this behaviour is happening too much, then it is time to go back to my values and re-assess my life purpose and goals. To find my greater ‘yes’, so that I can say ‘no’ to everything else with ease.
Whenever I have shared this technique with anyone they have been amazed at how it works. I have always awoken naturally without an alarm clock and visualise the time in my mind before going to bed.
Imagine a clock – the old fashioned ones with two hands. Visualise the time that you are going to bed. See the hands turning. As they turn, imagine you are going deeper into sleep. As the hands turn and get to an hour before you wake up, feel how your body is becoming more alert and awake. At wake-up time, physically open your eyes and feel joy at waking up. Then repeat the visualisation again.
Repeat this visualisation several times as you are falling asleep.
Seriously, your mind and body are amazing!
Let me know how this worked for you.
If you are doing this for the first time or you have to be up for something important, I would suggest putting an alarm on until you are totally confident with this method.
I have always been a water drinker and prefer it over other drinks, and over time I had stopped counting the quantity of water I was drinking, assuming it was enough. That is until I thought I had a summer cold, itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, constantly being bunged up. After three days of these symptoms, I realised it was not just a summer cold as the symptoms would get worse when I stepped outside into the fresh outdoors. It was hay fever. All of a sudden the beautiful trees and flowers became ‘evil’, I had never seen them in that light before.
I was advised by my hay fever suffering friends that it was not going to go away until I took a little white tablet. Usually I run away from tablets, but the symptoms were so bad, I was prepared to try anything, so I took the little white tablet. For the rest of the day my eyes and throat were less itchy, but I walked around drowsy and heavy, with no energy. I felt like a zombie. I was assured by others that this was normal with hay fever medicine. I couldn’t really see how this little white tablet was good for me. No more tablets!
I was determined to fight this hay fever. I remembered how years earlier I had an attack of hay fever and had self cured with water after reading Dr. F. Batmanghelidj’sbook ‘Your body’s many cries for water’.
As a therapist, I always question others about their water intake when presented with allergies and asthma, surely I was drinking enough water! Time to revisit the book. What did I discover? Yes, you have guessed it; I needed more water, plus a little sea salt.
I didn’t have any sea salt handy but I increased my water intake. Within a day of increasing my water intake my hay fever symptoms decreased and I had more energy.
However, when I added the sea salt, the hay fever symptoms disappeared completely. I guess I really was just thirsty!
How much water?
Well that is individual to every person and depends on your weight. Dr. F. Batmanghelidj gives a formula for this. I have broken this down into metric and imperial conversions to make it a little easier.
IMPERIAL MEASUREMENTS Weight yourself in pounds, Divide that number by 2. The answer you get is how many fluid ounces of water you should drink daily. E.g. If your weight is 200lbs, 200 divided by 2 is 100. So you need to drink 100ounces of water daily.
METRIC MEASUREMENTS Weigh yourself in kilograms. Multiply that number by 30. The answer is how many millilitres of water you should drink. E.g. If your weight is 50kg, 50 multiplied by 30 is 1500. So you need to drink 1500ml of water daily.
How Much Sea Salt?
Don’t forget the sea salt. For each litre of water you drink, be sure to add ¼ teaspoon of sea salt. I prepare my water bottles at the beginning of the day and add the salt so that it is ready when I need it.
“You’re not sick; you’re thirsty. Don’t treat thirst with medication.”
If you are from an Indian background then it is likely you will be familiar with the concept of Dharan being out of balance. What is Dharan? Where exactly is it in the body? What is the purpose of this Dharan? How do you know it is out of balance? Why is it if you ask a doctor they have never heard of it? How exactly can you balance the Dharan if it does not even physically exist?
Also referred to as Nabhi, Navel centre and Solar Plexus, the Dharan is centred at the belly button. It is not a physical body part that can be seen or dissected, but an energy centre. Its effect can be observed by assessing the body and feeling for its pulse. When it is centred and in place, you experience good physical and emotional health and a sense of vitality. Problems occur when it is out of balance.
Your Dharan may be misaligned if you are experiencing diarrhoea; vomiting or nausea; constipation; pain in back, thighs and calves; menstrual problems; low energy. The imbalance in Dharan can occur if a sudden movement has occurred in the body such as a fall or walking on uneven surface.
There are several ways of balancing Dharan. Here we will look at some self techniques that you can do to help yourself.
Checking for Balance
One way to check for imbalance is to relax on your back and press your belly button with the tips of all your fingers and thumb of one hand brought together. If you can feel a throbbing sensation under the navel, it means your navel centre is balanced.
Raised Leg Pose (uttanpadasana)
If your navel centre is imbalanced, then you can do raised leg pose (uttanpadasana) to help bring it to balance.
Relax, lying on your back. Keep your legs straight and feet together, lift both legs very slowly and bring them up to 90 degrees, hold, and bring them down again.
Slowly lift the legs up: – lift to 30 degrees – and hold to a count of 10. – continue lifting to 60 degrees – hold to a count of 10. – continue lifting to 90 degrees – hold for a count of 10.
Gently bring the legs back down: – gently bring legs to 60 degrees – hold for a count of 10. – gently bring legs to 30 degrees – hold for a count of 10. – gently bring legs back to the floor.
Throughout: – stay focused on your breath and lower abdomen. – do this with full concentration. – you will know that you have the angle correct, because your body will gently shake. – keep your legs as straight as you can, don’t worry if you cannot get them perfectly straight.
Do this just once. Then take a break. If the navel still feels out of balance, repeat after a few hours.
This posture should be avoided if you are suffering from high blood pressure, hernia or had recent abdominal surgery. It should also be avoided if you have lower back pain or had recent surgery of your back or spine, as it gives pressure to your spinal cord and lower back. This yoga pose should also not be practiced in pregnancy or menstruation.
The effect of the uttanpadassa in helping to balance the navel centre is increased if you also hold your hands in Apaan Mudra. Apaan mudra is formed when you touch the tips of middle two fingers with the thumb and keep all remaining fingers straight. This can be done for 10 to 15 minutes on a daily basis to keep navel balanced.
The physical body reflects what is happening emotionally. If your personal power is low, the physical body can go out of balance, which is reflected in the dharan being out of of balance.
Dharan out of balance can be a sign that you have given your personal power away and are being controlled by influences outside of yourself. You have been finding it hard to say ‘no’, and this has led to overwhelm and feeling powerless.
What can you do to take your power back? What is your ‘yes’? Where do you need to create boundaries so that you are not constantly overwhelmed?
With my clients I always stress the importance of taking a holistic approach, rather than just trying to sort it out physically. What I found was that when clients did not make the lifestyle changes to take back their power at the non-physical level the dharan re-balance would be a short lived experience.
There are several other methods including massaging the navel, balancing the pelvic and other yoga postures which can help. If problems persist despite self treatment it is worth seeing a practitioner who has knowledge in this field and can help you achieve optimum health and vitality.
As a physical therapist, I found gentle therapies to be far more effective at getting Dharan into place and keeping it in place, than aggressive massage and movement.
I have found Bowen Technique to be highly effective in aligning Dharan very quickly and is my therapy of choice when I am working with clients.
I always get asked “How do I explain to the therapist what Dharan is?”. I agree that most people in the West will not have heard of this term, but a skilled therapist will be able to assess the body and bring it back to balance. Explain the symptoms and they will be able to work with this. You may also send them a link to this blog article.
Imagine. Imagine yourself full of vitality. How do you feel?
When we imagine vitality we see ourselves as free, free of worries, free of negativity, free of pain. Free, yet abundant. Abundant in energy, abundant in radiance, abundant in love. That is Chardikala!
If you google the word vitality you will see pictures of people jumping into the air, smiling radiating faces, colourful fresh fruit and vegetables, bottles of water and juices, adverts for gyms. All very positive and vibrant images. Who wouldn’t want such positive vitality in their lives?
So what gives us our vitality? The answer is a combination of ‘food’ for the mind, body and soul.
The mind needs a balance of stimulation and relaxation.
The body needs the optimum nutrients and physical activity.
The soul needs a purpose.
In order find some answers I interviewed these three aspects of self to find out what they themselves had to say about vitality.
Interviews with MIND, BODY and SOUL
Me: “So Mind when do you feel vitalised? “
Mind: “If you want vitality in your life, you need to make sure you guide me, for I do like to go on a journey of my own and can take you down a path of depression and hopelessness, or a journey of the super ego, both will cut you from the world and decrease your vitality. I think that I am the most important thing in the world, and I can make you feel the same, sometimes to your detriment. It is not my fault, this is just my nature. It is your job to control me and I know you can and when you do I will be the most obedient servant.
Through reflection and meditation you can keep me in check. Use me to help solve problems and find creative solutions and your vitality will increase. Use me for idle gossip and attack of others and your vitality will decrease. Keep me occupied with new learning and use that new learning to serve others and your vitality will increase. If you don’t use me positively, then remember my nature is to fill that space, and I will get you worried, angry, greedy, resentful and take your vitality. To increase your vitality please give me rest from it all because I too need to rest, lose yourself in meditation, music, dance, painting, playing, just let me be free from any action, just be. I am naughty I will never go away and will keep nagging, especially when you are trying to rest, but over time you will find a way of controlling me and keeping me from taking your vitality.
Me: “Body, tell us about your contribution to vitality.”
Body: “My role is easy. You just have to feed me good food and water and take lots of exercise. Everybody knows what is needed (that was a joke – everybody .. get it!!!)” (haha sorry readers – body is a bit of a joker!! admin)
“Did you know I am made up of 70% water? So drink lots of it and it keeps me running well. Talking about ‘running’ that brings me to my next vitality tip: walk, run, dance, jump, just MOVE!! At least 15 minutes a day, that’s all I ask for. I know you would rather listen to Mind than to me, and Mind is so naughty it tells you that you don’t have time to exercise and you listen it!! That is why I then have to communicate through PAIN!! You listen then don’t you!! Help me out here, I don’t like to be in pain, so look after me. Don’t eat all that processed stuff, how am I supposed to run on next to no nutrients? Don’t fuel me with foods that I have to spend all my energy on, that is just taking it away from you, not my fault, it was your choice. Told you, my role is easy, or it would be if you took control of food, water and exercise.”
Me:“Soul what is your role in Vitality?”
Soul:“I have a purpose and when you are aware of your purpose your vitality is increased. When you ignore me and focus outwardly your vitality is decreased.”
Me: “That’s it?”
Me: “So how will I know what my purpose is?”
Soul: “You already know it.”
Me: “you don’t speak much.”
Soul:“My job is not to speak, but just to be there, you should be able to feel me, be aware of me. Awareness of my presence and awareness of my purpose increases your vitality.”
Me: “How do I become aware of my purpose?”
Soul: “Find a space to be still. Silent. Then write. Write a list of what you think your purpose is. You may need to keep coming back to that space and the silence for several days, but once you are determined to find your purpose you will find it. The clues to your life purpose are in the life that you have already lived. It is the acceptance of the life that has been lived and the embracing of the breaths yet to be breathed. Your soul has been communicating with you forever, but you choose to listen to your Mind instead!! Just because the mind is the loudest, does not mean his message is the most important. In this exercise your Mind will try and take over, but if you are sincere in your determination to find your purpose then you will recognise the Mind’s input and be able to ignore it.”
Me:“Thank you Mind, Body and Soul for your insights into vitality and your roles.”