Free Archives

The Relaxation Response

As we all know, high blood pressure is a problem for many seniors. Along with our age, high blood pressure creeps up as well. A younger senior might be diagnosed as “pre-hypertensive” and because it’s easier for doctors to simply prescribe an anti-hypertensive medication rather than to encourage lifestyle changes, they find themselves on a pill or two. It is possible, however, that the drug could do more harm than good and could cause unnecessary anxiety. Herbert Benson, MD, author of bestseller, The Relaxation Response, offers an alternative.

Benson believes that by practicing the Relaxation Response, you will be better able to cope with difficult situations by allowing your body to achieve a more balanced state through the physiologic effects of the Relaxation Response. However, stopping the practice will stop the benefits within several days. There are no side effects when practiced once or twice daily for 10 to 20 minutes.

On page 35 of his book, he gives a case study of a woman with moderate hypertension with a family history of high blood pressure. After 14 months of practice she says:

The Relaxation Response has contributed to many changes in my life. Not only has it made me more relaxed physically and mentally, but also it has contributed to changes in my personality and way of life. I seem to have become calmer, more open and receptive especially to ideas which either have been unknown to me or very different from my past way of life. I like the way I am becoming; more patient, overcoming some fears especially around my physical health and stamina. I feel stronger physically and mentally. I take better care of myself. I am more committed to my daily exercise and see it as an integral part of my life. I really enjoy it, too! I drink less alcohol, take less medicine. The positive feedback which I experience as a result of the Relaxation Response and the lowered blood pressure readings make me feel I am attempting to transcend a family history replete with hypertensive heart disease.

There are two essential ingredients to the Relaxation Response:

  1. Repetition of a word, sound, phrase, prayer, or muscular activity.
  2. Passively disregarding everyday thoughts that inevitably come to mind and returning to your repetition.

Here are the simple steps to elicit the Relaxation Response:

  1. Pick a focus word, short phrase, or prayer that is firmly rooted in your belief system.
  2. Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. Relax your muscles, progressing from your feet to your calves, thighs, abdomen, shoulders, head, and neck.
  5. Breathe slowly and naturally, and as you do, say your focus word, sound, phrase, or prayer silently to yourself as you exhale.
  6. Assume a passive attitude. Don’t worry about how well you’re doing. When other thoughts come to mind, simply say to yourself, “Oh well,” and gently return to your repetition.
  7. Continue for 10 to 20 minutes.
  8. Do not stand immediately. Continue sitting quietly for a minute or so, allowing other thoughts to return. Then open your eyes and sit for another minute before rising.
  9. Practice the technique once or twice daily. Good times to do so are before breakfast and before dinner.

According to Benson, you can even elicit the Relaxation Response while exercising. If you are jogging or walking, pay attention to the cadence of your feet on the ground — left, right, left, right, left right — and if other thoughts come into your mind say — oh well — and return to — left, right, left, right. He reminds you to keep your eyes open! Swimmers can pay attention to the tempo of their strokes, cyclists to the whir of the wheels, and dancers to the beat of the music. So find a creative way to incorporate the Relaxation Response into your life.

How to Energize Yourself in Two Simple Steps

In my last post, I wrote about the grueling hike in the Cascades Recreation Area of the Jefferson National Forest. I definitely needed a lot of energy and tenacity. Senior hikers were in the extremely small minority. Being close to a college town, most of the hikers looked to be college students. In the video below, I want to share what I did to energize myself in two simple steps.

How to Energize Yourself in Two Simple Steps


 

Virginia Tech and Cascades Recreation Area

It was time for an out-of-town adventure and time to check off Virginia Tech from my bucket list. But a 4+ hour overnight trip would not be filled with just a visit to a university campus. In researching things to do in Blacksburg, Va, the Cascades Recreation Area in the Jefferson National Forest seemed like a worthwhile and fun place to visit. What seemed enticing was not only the hike, but the reward of seeing a magnificent 69 foot waterfall. (Seniors, you can get in free with your National Park Pass).

To get to the falls required a round trip four-mile hike which I thought would be a piece of cake considering I had done an 8.15 mile walk in the Great Aloha Run. Studying the map at the beginning of the hike, it appeared that the lower trail would be more scenic and “easier” because the upper trail was described as being more challenging because of the hill. Hence, we chose the lower trail and began our hike along the lovely Little Stoney Creek.

“Easier” is a relative term — easier if you’re younger and “grueling” in my book with having to step over all shapes and heights of rocks, twisted roots, numerous steps, and narrow pathways. Knowing what was at the end of the trail, I could not give up. Truthfully, I could not have done it without my husband. Well, maybe I could’ve, but it would’ve taken all day and there were dark clouds above and a thunderstorm looming. As we passed people coming down, they kept saying we were almost there and it was worth it.

There comes a point where the lower trail and upper trail meet and it becomes just one path to the falls. I asked a group if they had taken the upper trail (the one we had not chosen) and they said yes and a gentleman explained that it was a road that the park uses for maintenance. Therefore, it was wide and smooth. What a relief that we had an easier way back, but it was raining so the mud road was a little slippery. But, we could still walk much faster and get back to our car.

It took about 1.5 hours to get to the top and it was definitely worthwhile. I was drenched in perspiration on a cool day, but what an awesome view and an exhilarating feeling of accomplishment. I had an apple for nourishment which my body really needed. Unfortunately, it started to rain so we did not have much time to enjoy the view and had to start our descent on some slippery rocks and steps. However, once we got to the maintenance road, it felt as though we were home free.

It was a wonderful trip in every way — one of the best front desk people I’ve ever encountered (Ritz Carlton quality at a Hampton Inn), excellent service and food at Sal’s Italian Restaurant, and on the way home we stopped at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum in Staunton, Va where we had an excellent tour guide. That was the icing on the cake. Oh, and yes, the visit to Virginia Tech and their hokie stone buildings was also awesome. Now I know why they’re called Hokies.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Don’t you love it when you have a book in your hands that’s so exciting that it’s hard to put down? As previously written, I’m a Cellular Response energy healer so my clients are interested in healing their bodies naturally. In my constant quest for all-natural healing, one of my clients introduced me to Earthing which was published last year and written by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., and Martin Zucker. Last month it was selected as the “Book of the Month” by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

The authors define Earthing as follows:

If possible, read this book sitting with your bare feet directly on the Earth — grass, gravel, dirt, sand, or concrete.

You will simultaneously experience what you are reading about — how contact with the Earth restores your body’s natural electrical state.

The positive shift you feel is the start of a process in which your body slowly becomes infused with the Earth’s omnipresent and ever-present healing energy.

This is Earthing, a remarkably simple, safe, and natural act of reducing pain and stress.

For those that need hard core scientific evidence, Earthing might not be acceptable to you. But for those that accept mostly anecdotal evidence and testimonies, this book is full of amazing results. There are also scientific studies included and many more are planned.

It’s a very simple concept and you can read a sample of the book at earthing.com.

All that I’m learning about electromedicine and healing energies is so exciting. This is the future of medicine. The planet Earth is giving us the greatest gift of all for our health. Let us gratefully accept it. With all of the chronic diseases of seniors  straining our medical system, it’s time to be pro-active and look for alternatives. You are responsible for your own health. Earthing can change the way medicine is practiced. Earthing changes the actual physiology of the grounded person in a healthier way.

So run to your favorite bookstore and buy the book or you can simply click on the Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? link under Health Resources and Products to the right. To your health!

Whole Grains and Blood Pressure

Wheat

For many seniors, as we age, our blood pressure seems to creep up as well. Here’s one solution to lower blood pressure naturally. Refrain from reaching for any white grain such as white rice or white bread. Instead, replace it with brown rice and whole grain bread. In a study of overweight adults in their 50’s, those that replaced refined grains (rice, cereal, bread) with whole grains lost weight as well as a drop in their systolic blood pressure (top number) of five to six points.

High blood pressure can raise your risk for a heart attack, congestive heart failure, kidney disease and blindness among the many problems. Other diseases such as diabetes can raise your risk even further.

The study suggested that lowering blood pressure by eating three servings of whole-grain foods daily could reduce the risk of coronary artery disease by at least 15 percent and stroke by 25 percent or more.  Generally, refined or processed foods have more sodium which is known to contribute to high blood pressure. However, the study did not define exactly how whole grains might contribute to the lowering of blood pressure.

Check this Web site of the Harvard School of Public Health for more information on the benefits of whole grains.

With all of the known side effects of blood pressure medication which even includes heart failure, taking prescription medication should be your last option.  Pre-hypertension or even hypertension can often be controlled with diet and exercise.

February is American Heart Month. On the Web site of the American Heart Association, you will see some staggering figures: 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, it is the number one cause of death of women 20 and older, more women die of heart disease than the next four causes of death combined, including cancer. It is the number one killer in America, also known as the “silent killer.”Enhanced by Zemanta

Get Fit in Just a Few Minutes

A few months ago,  bottomlinesecrets.com ran an article on how to “Get Fit in Just a Few Minutes” by fitness expert Joan Price, author of six books including, The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book. Price is a fitness speaker, writer, and instructor whose specialty is helping beginning exercisers start and stick to an exercise program. It’s all about moving just as my new Gracefully Age Program (GAP) is designed to get you to do. Her passion is line dancing and she calls it the most fun you can have without a partner. I love it, too, as described in this post. So I share some of her suggestions to get fit in just a few minutes.

Joan Price says: Lack of time is a primary reason people give for failing to get the recommended 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week. Admittedly, it can be tough to find such a big chunk of time in your busy schedule.

Here are a few of her suggestions that I like when you’re out and about:

At the gas station — instead of sitting in your car as the gas flows, clean all your windows, alternating the hand that holds

When parking — instead of finding a spot close to your destination, get one a few blocks away.

Upon entering a store — if all the items you need will fit in a shopping basket, choose a basket instead of a cart.

As you shop — if you need a cart, do 10 bicep curls with weightier items — soup cans, juice jugs — before placing them in your cart. (If you feel silly doing this in public, do your bicep curls at home as you put the items in the pantry.)

While waiting in line — work your abdominal muscles. Suck in your belly and tighten your abs… hold for 10 seconds… relax. Repeat five to 10 times. And if that’s not enough, I would add, stand on one leg for a few seconds, then the other to hone your balance skills.

At the end of the day, close your eyes, breathe in and out deeply 10 times, feeling grateful for all that your body was capable of doing during the day. If you had worn a pedometer (which I always do) all day, you would also have an idea of how many steps you walked. Experts recommend 10K steps a day. Here’s a simple pedometer I love.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Jyoti Sondhi — Lighting the Lamp Within

Guest author Jyoti Sondhi shares her path on how she came to write Lighting the Lamp Within.

Yet many of us seem to miss important turns on this journey. We get caught up in our day-to-day lives. The mind is constantly running after things that we do not possess, or looking after things that we have. I have often wondered why do we feel miserable and suffer when it is our real nature to be in joy and in peace? Why are we looking for happiness outside and not inside of ourselves? Why do we have low self-esteem and insecurities? Why are we looking for external power to feel complete when we are infused with the energy of love? Why do we allow a strong ego to run our lives when humility is our real nature?

I have lived such a life too, for many years until a kind of spiritual experience changed my life completely. The turning point crept quietly into my life some years ago, following Reiki immersion. I call it my spiritual awakening, something that I did not fully understand at that time. I did not know that ordinary people like me could have such a divine experience.

And then the inspirations came to me from the Universe.  I reached a point where I could not hold them and felt the need to express them. That was the start of my blog which led to my book, Lighting the Lamp Within.  One by one,  my life experiences started to make sense and  the jig-saw of my life began to feel complete. The inspirations did not come in any particular order, but when I started to put them into my book, I realized I could broadly arrange them thematically.

Lighting the Lamp Within is a collection of brief essays to help answer some of the questions that we all have as seekers in a simple and practical way. I am sharing what I have learnt in this process about my Self, and about practical lessons in spiritual living. I have identified various  hurdles in our spiritual growth and offered healing and practical techniques for ordinary people to live a spiritually enriched  life with a shift in perspective. I unravel key lessons on spiritual living — lessons that most people would be able to  relate to whatever their faith.

Jyoti Sondhi

These essays may illuminate your spiritual journey or may simply leave food for thought. As you go through this book, do take time to pause and reflect upon the ideas. These may become important landmarks for your own growth.

More information on my book is available at www.lightingthelampwithin.com and discussions on quotes from the book can be found at http://lampwithin.wordpress.com.

Lighting the Lamp Within (ISBN 978-14502-5528-8) is also available at several on-line retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Thanksgiving 2010

Cover of "Attitudes of gratitude"

Cover of Attitudes of gratitude

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving 2010 in the United States. No matter how challenging a situation we may be in, such as caring for someone with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, we all have something to be grateful for. Sometimes it’s just conscious awareness of our surroundings that can wake us up to gratitude in our life.

A good friend of mine gave me a book, Attitudes of Gratitude — How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life. It’s a small book, but not one to read at one sitting. I enjoy reading one “thought” just before a quiet meditation. The late Ardath Rodale of Prevention magazine suggested that readers count the number of times they say “thank you” during the day. By turning our attention to it, we will probably increase the number of times we say “thank you.”

Many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving with a traditional meal of turkey and all the trimmings and pumpkin pie. On CNN news, it was suggested that you use a saucer-size plate. This video also gave other suggestions to make your Thanksgiving healthier. There are so many “makeover” recipes that you can find at various Web sites on the Internet. Do you have a favorite “makeover” healthy recipe that you love? Please share it.

As much as many of us will try to control our eating, it will be difficult. My husband and I have received two invitations for Thanksgiving — lunch and dinner — so I will have my digestive enzymes handy to assist my digestive system. I thank all of you for your support and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Second Anniversary — noranagatani.com

This week I celebrate my second anniversary with noranagatani.com. It’s been an awesome experience and mind-boggling when I think about people who have connected with me via comments, phone calls, and e-mails. I’m also grateful for the wonderful contributing authors.

Using the tagline, “Helping Seniors Live Happily Ever After,” has enabled me to cover a variety of topics, but what I’ve cared most about is the health of my generation. If you still haven’t caught on to exercising, it’s important that you do.

Granddaughter

I’ve mentioned being retired — it’s been almost five years now — and what fun to experience so many new things. Topping the list is becoming a grandma. What a delight! I’ve also been a “Cellular Response” practitioner for almost a year and how gratifying to see people feeling good.

Now I’m taking it a step further and I’ve developed a program to have seniors and baby boomers take charge of their own health. So I’m working with seniors and baby boomers who are struggling to find enough time to care for their aging bodies and would like to feel as though they are in their twenties again, except with better judgment. Know any senior who would do anything and pay anything to feel more energetic? Give me a call to find out more and get in on my no-cost pilot program. I’m looking for volunteers from anywhere in the United States. Call any time — 703.825.8384. I’d love to help!

Brain Rules: Part I

Brain Rules by John J. Medina, PhD, is an intriguing and interesting book published in 2008. Dr. Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant. He is the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University. He also teaches at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in it Department of Bioengineering. In Brain Rules he talks about 12 principles of surviving and thriving at work, home, and school.

  1. Exercise: Exercise boots brain power.
  2. Survival: The human brain evolved, too.
  3. Wiring: Every brain is wired differently.
  4. Attention: We don’t pay attention to boring things.
  5. Short-term Memory: Repeat to remember.
  6. Long-term memory: Remember to repeat.
  7. Sleep: Sleep well, think well.
  8. Stress: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
  9. Sensory Integration: Stimulate more of the senses.
  10. Vision: Vision trumps all other senses.
  11. Gender: Male and female brains are different.
  12. Exploration: We are powerful and natural explorers.

Chapter 1 immediately caught my attention with exercise boosts brain power. So all of my writing about “moving” and all of the hours I spend in various forms of exercise should pay off. He answers the question: Is there one factor that predicts how well you will age? Before answering the question, he profiles two people he met on television — Jim and Frank.

Jim is in a nursing home — picture him in a nursing home, in a wheelchair, his eyes vacant, lonely, friendless staring into space. Most people would not want to spend their last years of life in this way. On another channel, the author meets Frank … Frank Lloyd Wright, that is. He was amazed at his use of language and the clarity of his mind. Wright completed the designs for the Guggenheim Museum (his last work) when he was 90 years old in 1957.

Jim or Frank — which lifestyle are you headed for? Medina says:

Put simply, if  you are a couch potato, you are more likely to age like Jim, if you make it to your 80s at all. If you have an active lifestyle, you are more likely to age like Frank Lloyd Wright and much more likely to make it to your 90s.The chief reason for the difference seemed to be that exercise imporved cardiovascular fitness, which in turn reduced the risk for diseases such as heart attacks and stroke.

He goes on to say that a lifetime of exercises can also do amazing things for cognitive performance in areas like long-term memory, reasoning, and problem-solving, but the area that’s not improved by exercise is short-term memory and certain types of reaction times. Also, over-exertion and exhaustion can also hurt cognition. So, folks, we continue with our “senior moments.”

Medina says, “Your lifetime risk for general dementia is literally cut in half if you participate in leisure-time physical activity. Aerobic exercise seems to be the key. With Alzheimer’s, the effect is even greater: Such exercise lowers your odds of getting the disease by more than 60 percent.” Now this is amazing — “… a 20-minute walk each day, and you can cut your risk of having a stroke — one of the leading causes of mental disability in the elderly — by 57 percent.”

Exercise opens up your blood vessels so it can feed your brain. In addition as the blood flows more freely, the body makes new blood vessels, which penetrate deeper into the tissues of the body.

He concludes the chapter by saying, “Our brains were built for walking — 12 miles a day! To improve your thinking skills, move.”

In order to have enough energy to exercise, we must get enough sleep. In Brain Rules: Part II, I talk about sleep.