Mindful Monday no. 47: Evoking Positive Memories with Scents

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“The smell of moist earth and lilacs hung in the air like wisps of the past and hints of the future.”

-Margaret Millar

Do you have a scent that reminds you of childhood? For me, the scent of lilac has always been evocative of my childhood. I spent the years growing up under the beautiful lilac tree in our front yard.Every spring, the tree would bloom and the scent would waft through the air.

Now, when I breathe in the lilac’s fragrance each spring, I am transported back in time. I remember laying out in the freshly mowed grass, devouring novels under its branches. I remember picking bunches of them for a vase in my bedroom.

The sense of smell can trigger memories and emotions, more than any other of our senses. A scent is processed in our bodies through the olfactory bulb, which is connected to the amygdala and hippocampus-two areas of the brain are related to our emotions and memories.The things we touch, see, and hear don’t have the same power as scents because they are processed elsewhere in the brain.

We can use scents as a powerful tool to evoke positive memories. 

If you have warm memories of your grandmother baking pumpkin pies in fall, burn a pumpkin spice candle in your home.

If you always associated your mother with her favourite perfume, pick up its heart notes with an essential oil like rose, sandalwood, or bergamot.

If you the smell of coffee reminds you of your father’s morning ritual, take a moment to savour the scent when you are making the cup.

As you breathe in the scent, recall your positive memory and allow your body to sit with the feelings in meditation.

What scents evoke strong memories for you? I would love to know in the comment section.

Lindsay

 

 

Aromatherapy helps when you’re tired and blue

I discovered aromatherapy several years ago, when I decided to do away with the use of harsh chemicals in my household products. I switched to natural laundry detergent, shampoo, and deodorant; and I was excited to make herbal remedies to help with sore throats, cuts, and low energy.
I have found essential oils to be amazing companions for whatever is happening in life- whether that involves adjusting to unexpected changes, or embarking on exciting new projects that take a lot of energy.

Using essential oils can be a truly joyful experience, as scent is a powerful connector  to good memories. A particular smell can remind you of the lake where you spent summers as a child; or bring you a sense of comfort as you breathe in the familiar scent of your Grandad’s soap.
While it is so lovely to enjoy the smell of particular essential oils you’re drawn to, it’s also wise to choose your oil blends based on what systems of the body they actively provide support to. The following article suggests 4 essential oils that are beneficial for relieving symptoms of depression: https://draxe.com/essential-oils-for-depression/ .  Caregivers, please be aware that as you go through the hardships and the losses of your journey with a loved one, your feelings of grief can bring about symptoms that look very similar to the signs of depression. For example, when feeling very sad about your loved one’s declining health, you may feel fatigued and lacking motivation, and find it hard to concentrate on simple tasks. This can be your grief process, and I encourage you to treat yourself with lots of gentleness.

Here are a few De-stressing blends from http://helloglow.co/essential-oils-for-stress/ that you can make at home. Try using 3 drops of each oil in the blend you’ve chosen, and put them in your diffuser. There are 2 main types of diffusers: A ceramic one, with water on top and a candle underneath; and a water-filled machine that plugs in and releases a mist into the air. You can also buy a plug-in for your car, which holds the oils on a little cotton pad and plugs into your dashboard. Isn’t that marvelous?!

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Ease tension
Bergamot, Geranium, Lavender. Together the three may help ease nervous tension, lift spirits and bring an overall sense of balance an calm emotionally.

Calm anxiety
Lavender, Roman Chamomile, & Ylang Ylang. Roman Chamomile has a calming scent that may help ease anxiety and restlessness.

Find Balance
Lavender, Frankincense, & Orange. Lavender has a very calming & relaxing scent which may be helpful in both physical and emotional balancing.  Studies have shown that smelling lavender increases beta waves in the brain which suggests greater relaxation & less mental stress.

Here’s a writing activity to try: Think of 1 smell that you really enjoy, and write about it for 3 minutes without editing your work. What memories did it evoke for you?

Aromatherapy is a terrific way of caring for yourself. Maybe at nighttime to help you unwind before bed; or in the morning to energize your system for the day. I invite you to give it a try!
-Karyn

 

 

A Poem to Inspire: Rumi’s The Guest House

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Recently, I came across the poem, The Guest House, by Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet. It is a beautiful reminder to allow your emotions to flow, even in the most difficult circumstances.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

Rumi still remains one of the world`s most popular poets, with his works translated into multiple languages.

If you found this poem inspiring, the West Vancouver Memorial Library is hosting an event called Rumi, The Mystic and Poet of Love on October 3, 2016., that you might like to attend.

Lindsay

Mindful Monday no. 46 – Sadness Meditation

photo-1449357468578-d7b4e3ddccbc.jpg“You can’t keep the birds of sadness from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.”
― Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons 

How does mindfulness affect our processing of sadness? I came across the article,”Mindfulness Changes How We Process Sadness,” by Zindel Segal which opened my eyes about the importance of the mindfulness practice. The author’s main point was that people who meditate are accustomed to experiencing sadness in a way that notes its presence without creating stories or tying it to the self.

What that means is that as you meditate in sadness, you notice how the body reacts to such an emotion–the tears, the pain in the chest, the slumped posture–in a way that does not negate or enlarge the emotion.

Non-meditators, on the other hand, are more accustomed to enlarging the emotion through increased thoughts and self-talk (“Why does this always happen to me?” or “Why can’t things be better for me?“). This habit can lead to depression.

The next time you start to feel sadness, allow yourself a moment of pause to meditate on the emotion.

Honour your feelings of sadness.

Let sadness come; don’t stuff the emotion or try to avoid the sensation. If tears come, let them fall. If you start to sob, don’t choke it back. Don’t even use a tissue.

Many people are afraid of feeling sadness because they think that once the emotion comes, they won’t be able to stop crying. Those people do have a lot of tears to shed and the feeling of sadness will not leave until the crying is done.

Despite the fear, once the feeling is released, your tears will stop. You will feel lighter, more calm, relieved.

You’ll discover a new strength, space for joy.

Lindsay

 

 

 

 

 

Foodie Friday: Slow-Cooker Apple Cider

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With the crisp weather of fall, there is nothing I enjoy more than cozying up with a book and a hot beverage. Last year, I discovered a wonderful recipe for slow-cooker apple cider that quickly became a favourite fall treat. If you are having guests over and want something a little special, bookmark this recipe. 

How to make slow-cooker apple cider:

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Ingredients:

  • 4 litres of apple juice. (If you want to make the apple juice from scratch in the slow-cooker, check out this recipe from Gimme Some Oven.)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 orange, sliced

Directions: 

  1. Pour apple juice into your slow cooker.
  2. Cut oranges into large slices and push cloves into the peel around each slice. 
  3. Add oranges, cinnamon sticks and sprinkle in allspice.
  4. Cook on low for 4-8 hours.
  5. Strain and serve.

When the slow-cooker is working its magic, the aromas of spices and apples will permeate the house. Take a moment to breathe it in!

Lindsay 

Caregiving in the U.S: Millennials

photo-1429080542360-e39b1a6c57c2.jpgI am following up on a previous post on caregiving in other countries:

In the U.S, 10 million members of the millennial generation (ages 18 to 34) are caring for adult family members. 25% of U.S caregivers fall into that range, according to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Bulletin.   These young people often don’t have much experience with serious illness. Some are long-distance caregivers with new careers, feeling guilty when they can’t visit family members.

Many support groups available to caregivers aren’t focused on this age range.

Caregiver Hannah Roberts, 28, cares for her mother who is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  She’s taken a year’s leave from medical school, and moved into her parent’s home in a Boston suburb.  She drives her mother to medical appointments.

Many young caregivers feel that caregiving is “a way of giving back for them bringing you into this world.”

This completes my focus on Caregiving in the U.S.

Calm Pond

Mindful Monday no. 45 – Avoidance & Procrastination

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Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.”

―Doris Lessing

Are you stuck in a cycle of avoidance and procrastination?  If so, you may have noticed that your avoidance and procrastination is depleting your energy and taking up more mental space than it is worth.

In an effort to delay the negative feelings associated with a task, procrastinators have a way of rationalizing the avoidance of tasks in the moment. The effect of such a delay is the task consumes our thoughts and becomes larger and more onerous in our minds than reality.

Caregivers may be avoiding tasks because they feel overburdened or anxious, or they are struggling with fatigue. A sense of futility can also be cause for avoidance. If a task is added to the list as quickly as a task is completed, it may feel like there is never going to be an end in sight.

If you are struggling with avoidance and procrastination, here are 7 helpful tips to get started with a task:

  1. Pay attention to your feelings surrounding the task. Are you feeling anxious? Are you feeling stressed? Are you feeling resentment? Acknowledging your feelings is an important step in recognizing when and why you procrastinate.
  2. Change your self-talk regarding the task. If you keep telling yourself you should do the paperwork, you will likely perceive the work to be a bigger burden than it is. Instead, say you I to get the paperwork done. You can talk yourself into facing the task by your own self-talk.
  3. Focus on the short-term and long-term benefits  List any positive outcomes for completing the task and try to visualize the feeling of completion. For some people, the satisfaction of crossing something off the list can be motivating enough to tackle the task. For others, tying the task to your long-term goals can provide a sense of forward momentum.
  4. Offer yourself a reward for tackling the task. If you have been desiring some time to read your novel or if you want to treat yourself to an evening out with friends, make a commitment to reward yourself for completing the task.
  5. Try temptation bundling. If you are really putting off a task, combine it with something you enjoy. Listen to an audio recording of a book you’ve wanted to read while folding the laundry. Temptation bundling is an effective way of crossing two items off your list.
  6. Break the task down. Starting with a small task can motivate us to get the larger task done. Crossing these small tasks off our list can increase our body’s production of dopamine which can offer the gratification to propel us to complete more.
  7. Set the timer for 25 minutes. The pomodoro technique is when you set your timer for 25 minutes, work intensively until the buzzer, and then take a five minute break. Once you’ve completed 4 pomodoros you can increase your breaktime to 30 minutes. Knowing that you are committing to work for less than half and hour can really trick us into using our time more valuably.

Do you have any tips or tricks for the chronic procrastinator? Please let us know in the comments.

Lindsay