Saturday, June 20, 2009

Everything is Connected - Putting the Pieces Together

To be true to my name, and to do a better job of seeking the balance of body, mind and soul - I have decided it is time to make a commitment to my higher, spiritual development (along with mental and physical relaxation) as part of my overall quest for better health. As you can see from previous posts, I spend all too much time in a reactive mode, struggling to deal with physical symptoms, or taking various supplements to repair my physical state and hopefully prevent future mishaps. Isn't life like that? Leaping from one situation or problem to the next, putting out one fire just to find yourself faced with another, feeling busy busy busy... So, I did a little research and decided to take action. Today I went to one of the beautiful local esoteric bookstores and invested in my well-being with two dvd's: Ananda Yoga (Yoga to Awaken the Chakras) and Qigong (Traditional Chinese Exercises for Healing Body, Mind, and Spirit). I also purchased a meditation cd: Pure Meditation by Pema Chodron. I've chosen this approach for very specific reasons. I have known, without a doubt, for many years now that yoga and meditation are practices I that I needed to get involved in... However I did not get beyond reading a few books and agreeing wholeheartedly with the philosophies... putting things into practice is where I lose points. I realize that taking classes locally would be a great way to get active, however, knowing myself and my changing schedule and my failing energy levels - for me a practice I can maintain at home is far more likely to succeed. (I also have a huge discomfort level with being observed, especially when learning something new... issues to work on some other time!) Likewise for the physical exercise component - I need a workout I can do in a small space and at a convenient time. I am also interested in both increasing my energy levels, decreasing my chronic pain, and improving my ability to relax. Thus is the reasoning behind my self-selected wellness program. We'll see how it goes - I intend to benefit hugely from this long delayed plan :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Food Sensitivity Testing - Exploring the Unknown

Sometimes if we are not feeling well it is more important to narrow down and address or eliminate the potential causes than to keep trying new ways of managing our discomfort. For psychological issues this is why it is typically recommended that some form of counselling accompany drug therapy (in order to tackle underlying issues, not just mask the symptoms). For physical ailments it is also often necessary to evaluate what we need to change in our lifestyle in order to bring ourselves to better health. Having experienced digestive ailments for many years, I recently went for a detailed naturopathic assessment including food sensitivity testing. I knew I was lactose intolerant, and I suspected I was having problems with wheat but lately I had been having digestive problems with almost every meal and was at a loss at how to figure out what was going on. The tests did confirm that I have a sensitivity to every kind of dairy product - and white flour - but also sugar, soy, corn, chocolate, curry and several artificial colours! I was definitely not aware of those... that would certainly explain a thing or two about why I seemed to be having so many issues with food. After following a strict diet for 4 weeks, I can confirm that my symptoms absolutely abate when I avoid all the listed foods. This is a good example of when it is helpful to seek professional advice - I don't think I would ever have identified this list on my own. Although it is obviously up to me now to adhere to this diet or make changes as I see fit, I am grateful to have this starting point figured out! I have been following it quite strictly for about a month and have not found it as difficult as I would have expected - although I did visit a local natural foods market this weekend and splurged a little on their rice bakery products! (The urge for treats does not disappear, let's face it). Overall it has been an interesting experience so far, and I'm hopeful about seeing longer-term benefits as my system starts to recover. I'm curious about how sensitivities develop in the first place - a topic for further research and discussion.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Anxiety, Adrenal Support, and Alternative Therapies

I created my website ( and launched my personal exploration of alternative healing about two years ago. A few products I tried early on included: a natural treatment for anxiety called Serenity+ by Genuine Health. Containing extracts of Ashwagandha root, Passionflower, Oat straw and Rhodioloa rosea root, this product is intended for stress management, to promote "a sense of calm" while reducing "nervousness and agitation."

I also began trying a few different products for adrenal fatigue beginning with a special homeopathic blend by a local natural pharmacy called "Finlandia Adrenal." I had gone in intending to buy licorice root for the purpose of balancing swings in blood sugars, but a helpful discussion with a staff member there (who has tried this product herself) changed my mind. I have read about adrenal fatigue before and find it easy to see how this might be a contributing factor to my ongoing fatigue and emotional imbalance. Responsible for helping us maintain and balance our hormone levels, blood sugars, immune system function and more, the adrenal glands (manufacturers of adrenaline) can become stressed, leading to a host of problems.

A few other strategies I've incorporated since then have included:

Acidophilus - Life Brand (digestive ailments can prevent the absorption of essential nutrients; this is a common side effect of antibiotic use)
AdrenaSense by Lorna Vanderhaeghe (continuing with the adrenal support in the form of nourishing and stress-combating herbs)
Flamma-Force by Prairie Naturals (designed to reduce the inflammation associated with painful conditions such as fibromyalgia)
Multi+ daily glow (most of my doctors, and most recently an in-depth naturopathic assessment, have agreed that a good multi-vitamin is necessary for maintaining good health)
Recovery Formula by Purica (another fibromyalgia-focused herbal blend)
Holy Basil (for combatting anxiety and stress)
Allergy and Borage - herbal blends by Finlandia Natural Pharmacy (for ongoing sinus issues)
5-HTP - Natural Factors (a natural alternative to antidepressants/anxiety medications, and some studies have found this useful in treating migraine headaches)

Always interested in the mind-body connection, I have learned to observe myself more carefully to determine what's really going on when I get feelings such as anxiety. Am I really anxious, or am I just interpreting my body's signals as anxiety, when in fact I may be having blood sugar issues or a response to caffeine? Is my feeling of extreme fatigue related to the dietary changes I've been making, an indication of depression, or a sign that I'm catching a viral illness? Trying to root out the cause of chronic health issues is an ongoing challenge and one that can increase feelings of hopelessness if you let it. However, we are fortunate to have access to a wealth of information, as well as alternative therapies, when illness is detracting from our quality of life.

I heartily encourage all of you to become your own experts when it comes to creating better health. Don't try to go without professional medical advice, but take an active role in designing the right treatment for you. It may help to map out your past medical issues - do you see any patterns? What is your body trying to tell you? Help may come through more natural channels than you expect. One essential strategy for relieving numerous ailments is to drink more water! Another big one is re-learning to breathe properly (a factor I had not noticed until a massage therapist coached me on it) - it is common when we are chronically stressed to let our breathing become too shallow, which impacts numerous systems in the body. Becoming more mindful of these important basics is a good beginning - then take it one step at a time from there.


What's the story behind artsciencespirit?
Artsciencespirit is a quest. It is the journey each one of us takes in: the pursuit of meaning and knowledge in our lives, the attempt to become all we can be, getting to know the Self, and relating to others and the world. It is seeking the balance between body, mind and soul, in order to become whole.
The beginning of the way, the birth of a dream and making changes...

Artsciencespirit was born a few years ago, out of the need to personalize and integrate the theories and philosophies I was reading about, and the ever-present knowing that life needed to change and grow. Influenced by writings such as Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes, theosophy, Kandinsky and others on spirituality and art, I was becoming increasingly clear on the need for a balance in life of the various vital forces. Art, Science, Spirit, or Body, Mind and Soul.. if we become out of balance, life can't stay on course.

Following some major life changes, I am still trying to redesign life as I want to live it, connect with passion and purpose, and do some good in the world.
Change can be scary. Life can seem hard. But it is bigger than our individual fears, our self-imposed limitations, our sometimes self-centered views... The direction I am taking in my personal life is mirrored and expanded in, with steps towards healthier, more conscious living and a concern for others, including the precious natural world that is suffering so much from our negligence. For myself this means making a switch or two: towards buying organic products; cutting back on sugar, caffeine and meat; going cruelty-free; caring more about the bigger picture and the consequences of our actions. I am exploring natural solutions for anxiety, depression, and chronic pain and fatigue; I intend to develop some form of meditation practice (this time I mean it!). I am interested in methods for opening the chakras and working with energies. I am determined to overcome my habitual negative thought patterns and the resulting life patterns I create again and again.
Let's create something better! For now, thanks for visiting and I hope you find some beauty in your day :)