Tag Archives: emotions

THE MAGIC OF SMILING

Smile!

Smile!

“When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you”

So the song goes and it’s absolutely true. Smiling is contagious; other people who meet your smile will start smiling as well. Isn’t that a beautiful thing – that we can light up our world with such a simple action. A smiling face sends a message of peace and friendship, it opens to connecting with other people. You’d much rather deal with somebody who’s smiling and you have probably experienced how a grumpy person suddenly became a great deal friendlier when you smiled at them.

Smiling is so much more…

When you smile, the muscle-movement sends signals to your brain, making it release endorphines, the “feel-good-hormone”. The same goes for crying, that’s why you feel relief after a good cry. If you think about it; a picture of somebody crying can sometimes look confusingly like they’re smiling. So even though you don’t feel happy, you will feel better by pulling your face into a smile…Isn’t that great news! It might only be a grimace, but the endorphines will blow some life into that smile, making it wider as you feel better.

If you feel bad or low, try a smile and I can assure you that you will feel, not great, but better. Try using the vowel “e” and keep it long; “eeeeeeeeeeeeeee” and there you have it!

Research also shows that the impact is higher if you watch yourself in a mirror.

Besides, when you smile you use a lot of facial muscles which actually will make your face look better in the long run. As we age, our facial expressions become etched into our faces; worry, anger and disapointment can become your “default” look as well as happiness. Smiles will turn your wrinkles into something attractive and beautiful as you age…

Essential oils to bring some smiles into your life:

Citrus-oils, especially Bergamott, Orange and Mandarin brings sun into a grey feeling.

Ylang-ylang; very good when there is anger involved. Uplifting and euphoric.

Geranium; a great emotional balancer, especially good for irritation.

May Chang, also called Litsea cubeba. Has a sweet citrusy deep scent. Makes tensions fade away.

Lavender; Calming and clearing to the head. Can help dispel negativity.

The best way to use essential oils as mood enhancers is by inhalation:

  • 1-2 drops on a tissue that you can carry around, I usually stuff it in my bra, then I have the scent wafting up to my nose.

  • In an aromalamp or diffuser, be careful not to overdose…A little goes a long way. If you get a headache or in any way feel uncomfortable, breath some fresh air and lower the dose.

  • In a bowl of warm water.

Essential oils disperse into the air with the help of heat and movement (like using a fan). The amounts of drops you use depends on the space you want to scent and your own preference. Always start low, you can add more oil if you want to.

Remember: After 3 minutes your system has adapted to the scent and you can no longer smell it. Don’t add more oils, go outside and breath or smell fresh coffee to clean your “scent-palate”. Another good trick is to inhale through wool, that also helps neutralize your scent.

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SPIKENARD

Spikenard or Narde (Nardostachys jatamansi / N. grandiflora): It belongs to the Valerian family and has similar properties as its cousin Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). A flowering plant that grows to a height of about 1 meter, the rhizomes are distilled to produce the essential oil. It is native to the Himalayas; China, northern India and Nepal, mostly cultivated in Nepal and India. The best quality oil comes from Nepal. Spikenard is a slightly viscous, greenish-brown oil, darkening with age. The scent is deep and fresh, reminiscent of earth after rain, with a hint of fruity overtones.

History: Nard was (and is) used in the Indian tradition of Ayur veda. In ancient Egypt it was a luxury perfume and upon investigating the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1926, small alabaster vessels were found with a solidified, scented unguent (ointment, solid perfume) which turned out to be perfumed with spikenard and frankincense. Spikenard was also one of the ingredients in the ancient Egyptian perfume “Kyphi” that was burned at dusk to make sure the life-giving sun would return the next day. It was an important part of the Hebrew traditions where it was a component of the sacred incense, HaKetoret, wich was burned in the Jewish temple of Jerusalem. Spikenard in Hebrew is Nard and translates as Light. Most people recognize the name due to its mention in the bible (Song of Solomon, Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9). Spikenard was the oil used by Mary Magdalene to anoint the feet of Jesus at the last supper (John 12:1-10). At the time, spikenard was extremely costly and Judas Iscariot was outraged by the fact that it was used, seeing as the amount used was worth about a year’s wages for an ordinary working man. The Greek word for Spikenard means genuine and pure.

With such an illustrious history from ancient times, Spikenard is bound to tickle the imagination. Many believe that its claim to fame is due to the high cost it carried, but spikenard was not the only costly scent at the time; myrrh and  frankincense  were also extremely costly – even more so than gold. On researching the oil I find a red thread which points to the spiritual properties of the scent; Spikenard connects us to the divine.

USES:

  • SKIN: Balancing, regenerating and healing. Mature skin, psoriasis (1% blend), allergies, itching, skin-problems. Healthy skin maintenance.
  • DIGESTIVE SYSTEM: Antispasmodic and digestive: nausea, constipation, colic and cramps.
  • CIRCULATION: Harmonizes & stimulates circulation. Haemorrhoids, varicose veins. Regulates heartbeat.
  • NERVOUS SYSTEM & EMOTIONAL: Balancing, calming, grounding, harmonizing: Insomnia, migraine, stress, nervous tension, insecurity, anxiety. Deep emotional wounds. Can be of use in working through addictions, especially drugs.

Spikenard works on the solar plexus in a deeply calming manner. It is liberating and profoundly soothing. It releases emotional tension and being  at the same time grounding and opening it bring us in touch with our inner spirituality.

Personal: The word that comes to me is surrender. Spikenard brings us to a place of such peace and tranquility, enveloping us in a deep sense of safety. In this place we can allow ourselves to let go of emotional wounds, fears and insecurities. It connects us to the divinity within and lessens the stresses of the outside world. It shows us the way to heal from within. I mainly use this beautiful oil for emotional work. Its wonderful skin-care properties make it easy to incorporate as a releasing agent in the every-day life. Used as a facial oil you have the healing emotional benefits as well as excellent skin-care.

This oil resonates deeply within me. The first time I met Spikenard I was in the midst of a tremendously painful and difficult period of my life. It transported me to a place of such calm serenity, that all the difficulties fell away and I could see – for the first time –  solutions and possibilities. This moment brought me forever out of the worst trauma of my life. Till this day Spikenard is my doorway to assurance, peace and spirituality. It is probably the one oil I would always carry.

Considered a safe oil to use. As it has a ovary-stimulating action, I avoid using it during pregnancy. Spikenard is sometimes used in natural perfumery as a fixative.


CHILDREN

Children live and act from their hearts until they are told differently. A child is forever telling their world around them of their love; little physical gestures, a picture, doing a chore unasked… The list is long. If you pay attention to this, and see the child and her efforts, she will stay loving and generous. All children need to be seen, not because they are children, but because they are people who will become adults. Biologically a child needs to be seen to survive, not only on an emotional level, but also physical; a child who is seen will be fed and cared for. The worst thing that can happen to a child is indifference.

If you are indifferent to a child and forget to pay attention to their communication they will try another way, usually the opposite, by becoming obnoxious, loud and aggressive. This kind of behaviour always attracts attention, and the child got what it wanted – even though it is not positive: A seen child is fed and cared for. This stretches all the way back to our origins. We might have evolved but our basic needs are still the same.

Children are constantly hungry for knowledge; they are forever asking why, what is that, how does it function. They learn and remember easily and effortlessly, because usually what they want to know is connected to understanding their world. A child will always learn from her level of need. I have seen children teach themselves to read, swim, ride, count and much more, only from curiosity and need. Still society seems to believe that if children are not trained according to the “rules” of schooling, they will grow up to be uneducated imbeciles!

Often children are forced into a pattern of learning that does not fit with their development or skills and they feel stupid. A child who feels stupid either gives up or fights. A child learns while in movement, still we force them to sit still. A child can hold concentration for a maximum of 20 minutes, how many minutes does a class last? Children need to move constantly through the day, yet the sit and sit for hours.

We are guides for our children, our job is to back them up on their journey to becoming adults, not to tell them what to do. Children, more often than not, have a much stronger sense for right and wrong than do adults and their world is non-judgemental and caring.

I heard about this school: Sudbury Valley School where the whole learning process is built on children’s ability to “get what they need”. Take a look and prepare yourself to be most impressed by their work.

INTENTION BUILDS BRIDGES

Intention is the moving force of everything we do. It is the force that builds the bridge between where we are and where we are going. We might have a mental idea of what we want to create, but if it doesn’t fit with the intention, things will go wrong or they will not happen. We need to stop and scrutinize our intention in what we do, because it’s not always obvious. This is most important in goal-setting; not just what we want, but also why we want it.

I talked with a friend and she spoke of something she wanted to create. The idea was clear, but the format unclear. We realized that there could be no clear format, since what she wants to do has never been done. She has to allow the format to create itself from her intention. Sometimes the goal is not clear, and that is when intention will kick in to make it happen. Nobody wakes up one morning with amazing new ideas fully formed.

As you all know, I work also as a therapist and clients come to me for all kinds of reasons. The first thing I do is to listen to them and help them clarify their needs. Then I work with them. At this point I sort of “tune-out” my personal self. My intention is clear; do for this person the best I can. It has nothing to do with me, and by tuning out myself I become a much clearer channel for whatever is needed. If I get personally involved (with thoughts, ideas and emotions based on my experiences) I will influence the treatment to fit my wants, not what is best for the client. This, I might add, took quite some years to learn and accomplish.

We are almost constantly ruled by our emotions; think about it: If we feel good, we think positively and our intentions will be colored by this, the same goes for the opposite. My children used to sometimes pick fights with me, for no reason at all, just for the fun of it. I always fell into the trap and ended up feeling terrible, until one day when I realized that this was not necessary, so I just started to say no to these fights. The only thing that kept me from falling into their devious little traps was the intention that it was not going to happen. To this day (20 somewhat years later) my children still say that I can never be brought into a fight, no use even trying. My intention was stronger than theirs. Ha!

Try it out, my friends, and please tell me what you discover. I love hearing comments.

SMELL YOURSELF WELL

The Independent

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Smell yourself well

If smell improves our mood, could it also be an effective treatment for everything from obesity to sleeping problems? The answer is right under our noses, says Hugh Wilson

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The nose has it: The most underrated human sense could be used to treat a range of complaints, according to research
Getty

The nose has it: The most underrated human sense could be used to treat a range of complaints, according to research

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It’s the too-good-to-be-true weight loss ‘system’ that’s taking America by storm, and its manufacturers hope to launch it here in the next few months. Sensa lets you eat exactly what you want, when you want it, and in the quantities you desire. And it still claims to help you shed around 5lb every month.

It achieves the impossible – its makers say – by making sure the quantities you desire are not very great. Sensa comes as granules that are added to every meal and snack you eat. Put simply, the Sensa “sprinkles” are designed to enhance the sensory experience of eating, stimulating taste and smell to an extent that fools the brain into thinking you’ve eaten more than you have. Users have reported the novel experience of happily leaving food untouched on their plates.

Depending on which expert you talk to, taste is between 75 and 90 per cent about smell, and Sensa is not the only new product on the market in the States that claims to exploit the apparent connection between strong smells and smaller appetites. SlimScents are pens filled with fruity or minty smells, sniffed before meals. Aroma Patch is vanilla scented and worn permanently, like a nicotine patch. All boast scientific validity.

A limited number of studies have been done. Dr Alan Hirsch, the scientist behind Sensa, conducted his own research in 2005 on what would later become Sensa granules. The study followed over 1,400 subjects over a six-month period, and recorded an average weight loss of 30.5lb, and a five-point drop in Body Mass Index.

Kimberly Tobman, a spokeswoman for Sensa, says those results have since been duplicated in a smaller study carried out by an independent laboratory.

And last year Dr Bryan Raudenbush, an associate professor of psychology at the Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, conducted a small study which found that subjects who regularly sniffed a peppermint aroma consumed, on average, 1,800 calories fewer over the course of a week than normal.

Raudenbush is not convinced by the miraculous claims of Sensa and others, and suggests we take them “with a grain of salt and cautiousness”. But he does think something is going on.

“From what we have found in other studies, peppermint scent can distract you from painful stimulation,” he says. In one of them, participants held their hands in cold water for prolonged periods. “Participants who were administered peppermint scent held their hand in the water for a longer period of time and rated the pain as less severe.”

He believes that something similar may be at work in the appetite experiments: strong smells are distracting participants from physical discomfort, whether that means pain or hunger.

Professor Tim Jacob, an expert in smell and taste at Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, is more sceptical of the connection between strong scents and weight loss, not least because we tend to get habituated to smells very quickly. But he thinks the idea that scents can distract us from pain or allow us to endure more of it is valid.

“The olfactory (sense of smell) system and pain share some brain networks and it’s thought that the positive consequences of experiencing pleasant or familiar odours offsets pain to a measurable extent,” he says.

In fact, there’s increasing excitement in the scientific community about the power of our sense of smell, and what consequences this may have for psychological and physiological health. Though much of the research is in its infancy, various studies have shown that scents like peppermint, vanilla and coffee may have therapeutic effects.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, for example, researchers at the University of Tokyo found that inhaling Linalool, a natural chemical found in flowers and spices, significantly reduced stress levels in rats. And a study at Tubingen University in Germany showed that vanilla fragrance reduced the startle reflex, making us calmer.

Scientists involved in this research are keen to distance themselves from what many see as the quack principles of aromatherapy – the complimentary therapy that recommends administering pleasant smells for anything from cancer to the common cold – which Professor Jacob calls “nonsense”.

But Jacob and others in the field of olfactory research believe the connection between smell and memory – and the associative power of odour – represents a hugely promising avenue of investigation.

“Using conditioned association we could use smell therapeutically, to treat sleep problems, anxiety, blood pressure, etc; and even clinically, possibly for immune system pathologies, intractable medical conditions, for example lower back pain; and use it for drug rehabilitation,” says Jacob. “Smell, once conditioned, can re-evoke a psychophysiological state. It relies upon the association of smell and memory.”

And, as Professor Jacob suggests, it may be possible to programme smell associations for particular therapeutic tasks. In the most famous study of this kind, healthy male volunteers were injected with insulin every day for four days and their blood sugar fell. At the same time, they were exposed to a smell. On the fifth day they were just given the smell, and their blood sugar still fell.

Such findings hold out the promise of some pretty mind- boggling medical advances, from diabetics with inhalers instead of injections, to insomniacs cured by a smell they associate with sleepiness. We’re not quite there yet, but as Jacob says, “watch this space”.