Category Archives: Health & Wellness

5 Meditation Guides for the Noisy Mind

Meditation requires more than just sitting, breathing deeply and closing one’s eyes. After five years of meditating, I still sometimes find myself wandering off to my dream vacation — or to the pile of laundry in the other room, or to the list I made for the almost empty pantry, or the chores I haven’t done — during meditation. And the occasional times when I’d end up having conversations with myself.

Even if I’m in a quiet place, I would still find it a bit challenging at times to keep my mind still. I realize that no matter how quiet my external environment is, it is the noise inside my head that keeps me from being able to concentrate.

The thing about meditation is: the more you try so hard to concentrate, the more it gets noisy inside your head. This happens because you pressure yourself to get into a state of calmness, which is unnatural. Both your mind and body are not in sync — the reason why you feel you’re losing the battle with putting them in a harmonious, serene state.

Why Can Meditation Sometimes Be So Damn Difficult?

There are some limiting beliefs that we impose upon ourselves when we think about starting a meditation practice. One, that you should be sitting in a lotus position near Buddha in a nice garden somewhere because when you look at photos about meditation online that’s what you see. Two, that you should be in a certain position to start meditating. You can meditate in the car (just tell the driver not to do the same thing), when you’re commuting, while you’re standing gazing at the sky, when you’re taking a break from a book you’re reading, or whatever. Three, that you should be burning incense or diffusing an expensive oil.

While it’s true that being in a serene place and having the right elements make up for what you would consider a good meditation practice, there is no reason why you shouldn’t meditate if all you have is the time to breathe.

If it’s your first time to practice meditation, it would help to be with a teacher to guide you. And yes, doing it in a nice garden or a mountainside view with Buddha and an incense burning on your side would be nice. But given the situation on the ground, it may be a long time from now until you can sit with a teacher to practice meditation.

I meditate in the morning upon waking and at night before I go to bed. However, since we moved to this small town, the clucking of chickens has completely taken over my life. Being the flawed human that I am, I either bring all my neighbors’ chickens to the happy, calm place inside my head, or I kill them all — yes, in that same head — during meditation. So, it sometimes helps when I put on my earphones and play a meditation guide to unplug from the world.

The irony is, you sometimes need to plug to unplug.

Frances Beldia

There are so many guided meditations available online, the place for anything between chaos and peace. I have not even explored the apps yet and have no intentions of doing so very soon. I use YouTube for guided meditation. In my years of navigating meditation guides, I have found a few that I find both helpful and effective, not only in drowning out the massive clucking, but in helping me relax at night or helping me get ready first thing in the morning.

Here are 5 Meditation Guides for Self Healing, Chakra Cleansing, Meeting Your Spirit Guides While Sleeping, Deep Pain Relief and Forgiveness

Louise Hay. She was a metaphysical counselor who spent a huge part of her life going around the world helping people understand why human beings develop dis-ease; why our bodies get sick. Most importantly, Hay has taught the world how much thoughts affect the physical body. If you, for instance, believe that you will never heal from whatever sickness you have, then that’s what your body will listen to, and there is a huge chance that you will never heal. Be very careful of where your thoughts lead you.

Hay has guided meditation for the evening, deep sleep, morning, as well as affirmations. My favorite among her collection of guided meditation is her self-healing meditation. She spends the first part of the recording explaining about how powerful our thoughts are and how they’re continuously shaping our world. The guided meditation starts on the 37th minute in case you want to go to meditation right away, but I found that no matter how many times I’ve listened to her, there is always something new to learn. Don’t skip anything if you don’t have to.

Listening to Hay, I often can’t help but smile when I hear her say, “See you on the other side of the tape.” Her guided meditation recordings were done between the 70s and the 90s when tape was what the world used to record everything. I myself was a big “tape person”.

Louise Hay answers some of the most personal, burning questions you have in her guided meditations. You’ll be surprised.

Michael Sealey. Not all who do guided meditation come from the deep forests or from beauteous Himalayan mountains like I used to think. That’s dragging you down to my moments of ignorance, you’re welcome. Sealey is a trained and certified hypnotherapist and is also an Australian actor.

If you just want a very calming voice to guide you, he has sleep relaxation, sleep hypnosis to cleanse destructive energy, and sleep meditation for clearing negative blockages, among others.

My favorite among his guided meditation is the chakra cleansing. I have done chakra cleansing with Filipino parapsychologist Jaime Licauco and it was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. If you just want to explore chakra cleansing, you can begin with this one.

Good health starts with Chakra Cleansing.

Jason Stephenson. He comes from an interesting place in his meditation practice. Before he became a meditation teacher, he spent a number of years downing drugs. It wasn’t until he was diagnosed with HIV in 2005 when he realized that it was time to heal, and that was when he found meditation. He can’t help but shake his head in disbelief when he thinks about what he subjected his body, mind and spirit to during those tumultuous years in his life. It is a place we find ourselves in sometimes even if drugs are not always in the equation.

Stephenson has guided meditation on detaching from overthinking, forgiveness, sleep hypnosis, releasing negative energies and deep positivity guide. Over the last 10 years, he has released hundreds of meditation guides, so you will find everything you need on his vast playlist.

My favorite from him is meditation to meet your spirit guides while sleeping.

If you have not experienced the most relaxing sleep in while, now is the time to get it back.

Helen Ryan. She is a clinical hypnotherapist and creator of the Channel Progressive Hypnosis on YouTube. I have used her guided meditation for relieving pain, particularly lower abdominal pain when it’s that pesky time of the month. Her soothing voice always helps the pain go away and puts me to sleep easily. Perhaps it’s the fact that she’s also a woman that makes me feel comforted because only women understand what period pain is like.

Here’s my favorite from Channel Progressive Hypnosis.

Reduce painkiller popping with guided meditation. It works wonders for chronic pain.

Sandra Rolus. If there is one word I wish I paid attention to a long time ago, it would be Ho’opono Pono. It is healing through forgiving, an ancient Hawaiian practice that has become widespread in the last few years. I would always encounter Ho’opono Pono, but for some reason — maybe it was difficult for me to read? — I’d ignore it. It’s one of the bad decisions I’ve made in the past. Imagine ignoring a very important word, a technique even, just because I could not pronounce the word?

I recently found myself finally trying the Ho’opono Pono guided meditation by Sandra Rolus last year. I was amazed at how powerful it is even in its simplicity. Rolus guides you with just four phrases. These are I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.

I directed this meditation towards my mother and myself, having lived through a difficult relationship with her all my life. All my dis-ease have come from that relationship and not being able to forgive. As soon as I learned to truly forgive, it has helped comfort me through physical pain. Forgiveness is the medicine, sometimes the only one, that we need in this life.

Rolus is an Arizona-based timeline trauma release facilitator. Experience her guided meditation using the Ho’opono Pono technique here.

Can’t say it enough — forgive, forgive, forgive yourself and others.

Is Guided Meditation Safe?

I see this question get asked a lot. I personally don’t see how or why guided meditation can bring anyone harm. As long as you choose a guide that is trained and experienced in this field, then you have nothing to worry about. The word hypnosis can be intimidating for those who have never tried guided meditation before, but don’t let it stop you from exploring what could be a very important aspect in your life. No, you will not get into paralysis, and no, you will not lose control over your mind and body.

It doesn’t matter where you are in your meditation practice now, you have to remember to keep going. And yes, even if it feels frustrating sometimes.

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Social Media Affects Mental Health: Helping Yourself Through a Difficult Time

Since news of the pandemic broke out in December 2019, panic quickly gushed like an avalanche into our newsfeeds. Social media and mental health are not coffee and cream, but can we help ourselves from dipping into social media even if it means compromising our mental health?

We’re dealing with humans — the very beings in charge of making this world an exciting place to thrive in. Our search for facts sometimes leads us to the realization that we may have taken some things for granted all along.

Case in point: the toilet paper. People rioted over it in supermarkets during the first two months of the pandemic.

Like maybe most of you, I have also mulled over the question of how the spreading of a virus, with shortness of breath, fever and cough for some of the symptoms, led to the “shortage of toilet paper” in some parts of the world. We humans are a mysterious lot.

For now, let’s park that toilet paper somewhere around here because after four long months, it still is a ludicrously developing story in other parts of the globe. I just checked and people are still fighting.

Meanwhile, the polarized views on mask wearing in public have escorted people to their graves. And you ask, is a mask worth dying for?

These screaming news, whether you care to admit or not, get into your subconscious and leave you perturbed. And anxious. Sometimes you blame it on your constant trip to the coffee station without ever realizing it’s your constant consumption of news from social media that’s getting you depressed.

Learn how to slow down. Read that important life lesson here.

Social Media: Where Fact, Fiction and Fake Mingle Like Singles

There is nothing that you can do to control what goes on in social media. As soon as you log on — which I hope is not first thing in the morning — you begin your extreme emotional and psychological ride.

One minute you are scared because you hear or read about the deaths caused by COVID-19, then you bounce back to a happy place when your feed shows you photos of your adorable nephews and nieces (yes, yes, and of cats and dogs), and then you uncontrollably switch to envy mode when you see your friends’ (throwback) vacation photos. Sometimes it hits you like a baseball out of nowhere.

Inspirational memes eventually catapult you to an emotional plateau — a soft spot where you swiftly decide whether to start rolling to the better side of the bed or not.

You scroll up a bit more and there it is — words that make fear inside you swell: lockdown, confinement, curfew, quarantine. Then things got more baffling with the Extended Community Quarantine (ECQ) and so many other terms. There’s just no way to keep up.

People are angry, confused and afraid. And now, so are you.

It’s easier said than done, but sit still and pull back a little. There’s a reason why the unfollow button exists. Choose which people and what goes into your feed wisely.

Don’t Let Social Media Force-feed You with Depression

It’s all a matter of choice. Do your research and look for reliable sources for news, features and stories and stick to them. Choose trustworthy, unbiased local media outlets for national and local news. This could be tricky, but it will benefit you.

People are free to throw their opinions out there and this freedom has been abused in social media platforms. If one-sided, limited opinions are not what you want, scroll through your social media feed like you’re playing The Wheel of Fortune, or simply hide posts from people who contribute to your anxiety, e.g. the medical/political/sport analyst with exploding diastolic and systolic measures. I personally avoid them like the virus.

I would have suggested quitting social media altogether, but then it’s a happening place where yoga instructors, art teachers, meditation practitioners, professional dancers, chefs and many others share their expertise, talents and skills for free.

There are also several courses online that are being offered for free. You don’t want to miss out on the chance to learn something new, or to continue learning from home. The operative word is “free”.

If you’re one of the millions who lost their jobs because of the pandemic, here are tips to help you get through these tough times.

Social media is not always a bad place. You just have to know where to look.

Choose Peace of Mind, and Do It Consciously

Silence is food for the soul. We live in noise and have come to accept that it’s okay. Noise has become our normal. It’s not only the deafening noise at the office, at home, at the streets. It’s also the noise in social media or the internet in general. You can turn off the audio, but you can’t turn off the inaudible angry, demeaning words that people haul at each other, unless you look away.

And of course, there is more showboating out there than you can handle.

Silence and its beauty is underrated. I can’t blame you. Most of us rarely have a quiet time to enjoy, that is why a 10-day Silent Meditation is still considered out of this world by most.

Silence — sometimes that’s all we need to hear ourselves better. However, it doesn’t happen by chance. You have to choose it.

To choose peace of mind means tuning out from social media as often as you can. Ask yourself, how often do you really need to hear from the world? Every day just might be too much.

But then again, FOMO. The Fear of Missing Out is another phenomenon that has become intertwined with our lives since social media came to invade us. Mental health experts say FOMO affects people’s self-esteem more than they know.

There is so much more to the world than social media. Begin by calling a friend today and getting in touch for real. We are designed for face-to-face interactions and social media is not a substitute for real life.

Woman holding up a paper with a smile to her face.
Social media is not a substitute for real life.

Don’t Let Social Media Engagement Enslave You

The number of ‘likes’ and comments you get feed your dopamine level, that is why you feel compelled to check for updates every few minutes after you post something. Dopamine is responsible for making us feel good, but like most anything we feed our bodies, we have to be careful about our source. Social media is a bad one.

During difficult times like where we are now with the pandemic, taking care of our mental health is just as important as taking care of our physical well-being.

If you think social media is contributing to your problems with mental health, now is the time to act.

Yes, stop waiting on the number of ‘likes’ to keep going up. It’s getting you nowhere.

Needles, Not Candles, for My 44th Birthday

I turned 44 today, let’s get that out loud and clear. All (surprise) plans my family made had to be moved because our daughter has German measles (rubella). So the hush, hush plans the hubby made are not so hush, hush anymore because now he has to know when he could rebook the secret hideaway. For now, we can just enjoy the three lovely cakes hanging out in the fridge. After all, anyone who’s 40-something, who feels like she got stuck at 25, deserves a sugar high from time to time. My mother has already asked me many times why I’m still not eating my cakes. For one, I want to behave like a good patient since I just got out of my acupunture therapy session.

“Drink plenty of water. Many, many. It’s good for you,” my Korean acupuncturist sternly told me.

“And maybe eat lots of cake, too!” I muttered under my breath.

Acupunture, Spagyrics and Anthroposophic Medicine: My Newfound Health Defense

I am sure you have heard, or maybe have even tried, the alternative healing practice called acupuncture. Spagyrics, on the other hand, is something you have to dig in on if you want to understand it better. I admit I had to do my own digging months before I went to see my new doctor. According to Ancient Origins, “Spagyrics were old alchemical herbal preparations which required the alchemists to take raw plants, which had been identified as holding healing properties, and turn them it into more potent forms – effectively amplifying the plants’ curative effects.”

Both ancient practices were discovered to help balance the Chi (also Qi). And a well balanced Chi is what we all need to get that life force flowing well within us.

I have always wanted to try acupunture, but I also wanted to make sure that I’d be working with a trusted practitioner. My search and research went on for a long time. When it comes to our health, it pays to wait to find the right doctor. I have long parted from conventional doctors. I’m done with fastbreak check-ups with doctors who would barely look at you, ask what you’re feeling then scribble away on their prescription pad. I don’t particularly enjoy being told to pop chemicals. I’ve already done that most of my life growing up with asthma. Doctors could either look too bored or that patients have just become all too familiar and boring.

Oriental, as well as anthroposophic doctors, really spend their time with you, checking not only your symptoms, but your emotional, psycholigical and spiritual health as well. The balancing of the Chi can’t possibly happen in haste. It makes sense that these doctors spend time to get to know you better, so they can help you fix what’s causing trouble to your body.

Acupunture: Why It’s Worth the Prick

“Your first time?” Dr. Park asked me the first time I went to his clinic last week.

I nodded. He must have sensed I was a bit nervous because he showed me how it’s done on his arm. “Nothing to worry about,” he said. He pointed at both my huge tattoos, smiled, and asked how old they were. I think I got the message. How would an almost negligible pain from acupuncture compare to the buzzing, lasting pain of tattoos while you’re having it done?

I was more relaxed when I went today. I lay down on the clinic bed, stared at the white ceiling, thinking and thanking life for being good to me before I closed my eyes to meditate. I did not get to the age of 44 without cuts and burns, but I’m here now with that spark in my heart. I think it’s called happiness. A genuine one.

For weeks, I have been experiencing low energy, a foggy brain and an overall sense of weakness. Oh, that I hate. I am fine feeling anything else, but this? My cousin always asks me where I get my energy from and I don’t even notice my abundant energy unless people tell me or ask me about it. This feeling of very low to no energy was starting to bring me down emotionally. I initially thought being made redundant at work pounded on my emotions, but then introspection and meditation did not lead me to that.

Ever Had Birthday Blues? It Comes with Another Name

It was not until I visited my anthroposophic doctor last week that I learned I’m in the Purging Cycle of my life. It happens in the last 52 days before one’s birthday, and this is the time when things — that you won’t be very happy with — happen. Ever heard or experienced the birthday blues?

Dr. Brawner asked me to not do anything except to let go of things that don’t make me happy anymore. In short, it’s the best time to Marie Kondo my life.

In the therapy that followed the acupunture, Dr. Park told me that my hip joints are turned at the wrong angle and my right leg is shorter than my left. I would notice this every time I’d practice yoga, but would ignore it thinking it was okay. My feet are also always cold, and now I know it’s because I have poor circulation caused by all the “misalignments” in my body, should you call it that. During acupunture, he’d direct infrared lights on my feet to keep them warm. All these, since I’ve never been in an accident, were caused by my wrong strides when I walk, the wrong way I sit, and even the wrong way I breathe. At 44 years old, what do I know?

I wonder if some decisions I made in the past were based from my cold feet. Kidding aside, I’m looking forward to getting better — hips, legs correctly aligned and all, so I can claim my full energy back. Just two sessions and I’m “almost back to my old self,” according to our daughter. I need to go walking every day and make sure I don’t sit too long.

For now, that’s good enough. Cake, anyone?

Toxic-Free Yoga Mats Your Health Will Thank You For

I capped my eight-day adventure in Cambodia many years ago with Ashtanga yoga that left me with beautiful, meaningful sores here and there. On the plane back home, I tossed and turned asking myself why it took me so long to dive into yoga when I had been reading about it years before my trip. Was it because I doubted myself too much or did indolence simply take over me? However, they say everything happens for a reason. I could have developed a lesser appreciation for the practice had I not done my first class with an almost flinty Indian ashtangi who told me that if I did not push myself, I would never learn. I could remember him towering over me, talking to me in a firm voice, and guiding me through salamba sarvangasana (shoulder stand).  This memory was sparked by my recent search for a quality yoga mat.  I can’t help but think about the first time I fell in love with yoga and how it challenged me in so many ways. Halfway through my first class, I was so sure I’d collapse sometime within the 90-minute practice. I was (obviously) out of shape albeit all the walking I did in the 21 temples I visited during my trip.

P.S. I made it through the challenging 90-minutes… smiling.

Is Your Yoga Mat Harming You?

The first thing I did when I reached home from that enlightening trip was to begin my search for the “perfect” yoga mat. I envisioned mine to be a shade of green, and that’s exactly what I got. Having very few options, and nothing more than a modicum of understanding of what a quality yoga mat should be, left me picking the first one I liked when I went to a sports store. The generic yoga PVC mat I bought served me for the first few years of my consistently inconsistent yoga practice.  I then felt the need to move on to a much better mat. By better, I mean something that would not emit a strong toxic smell every time I would unroll it. And yes, ‘a shade of something’ — I know better now — is not the best way to go to choose a yoga mat.

Looking for a quality yoga mat can be daunting. A quality yoga mat could also be expensive, that is why it is important for us to understand why, despite the challenges, we always need to choose quality over other factors. Yoga practitioners can benefit from high-quality yoga mats as they have an impact on our health, as well as the environment. While PVC yoga mats are cheaper and can last for a long time, they are non-biodegradable and are made from toxic materials such as lead, phthalates and cadmium. Our friends from Consumers Advocate got in touch with Cure for Mondays and gave us this valuable information: “The plastic mats that used to be popular are less favorable today because they are not bio-degradable. These plastic mats available today, at least the less expensive ones, are made with PVC. PVC mats can last longer but they come with a cost— they’re made with toxic materials.”

I’m not very happy with the thought of my body absorbing all the toxins and I’m sure neither are you. This served as one of my “I should have known better” moments.

What Exactly are Considered High-Quality Yoga Mats?

There are so many yoga mats available on the market now and making the right choice is done best following a good guide.  Different kinds of yoga mats can cater to your specific needs. There are rubber yoga mats available, natural and synthetic, that can be appealing to many yoga practitioners. Rubber mats offer a lot of grips and are very flexible. However, synthetic mats can wear down fairly easily and get damaged from heat.

Natural rubber is biodegradable and can be reused more readily. Synthetic rubbers, on the other hand, are not biodegradable and are harder to recycle. Therefore, if you decide to buy a rubber mat, make sure to buy the natural kind that is bio-degradable and better for your body.

Here’s a guide shared with us by Consumers Advocate so we can have a better understanding of our mats’ biodegradability.

quality yoga mats biodegradabiity
Integrate ‘ahimsa’ into your practice by choosing eco-friendly yoga mats.

The best mats that are offered today are eco-friendly brands. They are not only better for the environment, but better for your body. Eco-friendly mats are all made from biodegradable materials that are not toxic to your body and much better for the environment.

Eco-friendly mats come in cotton, jute, cork and many other materials that are comfortable and can meet your yoga style. Most of these mat types will provide you the right grip that’s helpful for your balance in all types of yoga practices. In fact, the sturdier eco-friendly mats are more helpful in yoga practices that require you to lunge, kneel or hold your position for any length of time. Most of the eco-friendly mats are thicker, which can help prevent you from getting injured during more strenuous types of yoga.

The great news is, now you can find a quality, non-toxic yoga mat that will suit your needs. Check this link to Consumer Advocates’ list of well-reviewed quality mats that won’t hurt your health nor Mother Earth.

toxic-free yoga mat
Here’s my current love, the Prana E.C.O.

E.C.O Prana is PVC free, chloride free, latex free, and uses non-toxic materials in its production. It is also recyclable.

Care to share the yoga mat you use? Help our readers choose the best-quality yoga mat by letting us know what you love about your mat!

Do More With Used Coffee Grounds

Have you been throwing out used coffee grounds? That means you have a less stinky trash bin, which is good. But there are other coffee ground uses that will help you save on hand washes and body scrubs.

As I’m writing this, my head is throbbing. Must be from soaking under too much sun over the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lovely time taking in as much wind and view of the Sierra Madre mountain range as I could, but too much sun is taking its toll on me. My advice to anyone suffering from a migraine is to drink black coffee, no sugar. You know sugar kills. That has worked for me for years. But today’s a little different. I’m staying away from caffeine, but only for a day.

If I can’t drink coffee I might as well talk about it.

Coffee never goes to waste. After enjoying a heavenly brew you can save those grounds for a lot of other uses.

If you decide to throw the ground into your trash it’s still going to serve its purpose as a deodorizer. It will get rid of the nasty smell and you’ll get a whiff of coffee whenever you open the trash bin instead of the rotten stuff you threw in there.

Used coffee grounds — here’s what I like to do with them:

Hand wash – It removes stubborn smells that soaps and hand washes can’t get rid of.

Skin softener – Rub it gently on your hands. Massage the back of your hands with the coffee ground then rinse. The instant softness is addicting, I tell you. You’ll find yourself washing your hands with coffee grounds many, many times every day. I love using this on the back of my hands especially because it takes away years from them. It’s a great anti-aging formula!

Body scrub – Spas offer coffee body scrubs for a hefty price, but then, you have all that you need in your coffeemaker.

My favorite DIY would be this and I’m sure you’ll like it, too. Bring a jar with you to the shower and give yourself some good loving using coffee as a body scrub.

Facial scrub – Among the facial scrubs I’ve tried, this one works wonders. It’s non-drying and does a great job exfoliating even the sensitive areas of your face.

You can also use coffee grounds as food plants and general deodorizer in any area in your home.

Care to share what you do with your used coffee grounds?