Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Human Race is not a Race

A spanish man once told me that during siesta the spanish sit and stare. Not talking to eachother, not sleeping, not reading... just staring.  A somewhat amusing image reminiscent of an artsy independent spanish film arose in my head; everyone symbolically wearing white on white couches and dissonant music playing in the background. Never having been a person that could just sit, I simply did not understand that it was possible in the same dimension I live in.

Meanwhile, I have been developing a technique as of late that I have shown several friends and some clients. It involves sitting on a couch and relaxing all of your muscles, internal organs, facial features, joints etc. for at least 5 minutes. This technique is built on the idea that healing occurs during the times you are unengaged, and that tension and stress can prevent normal functioning. I often recommend this to people with indigestion, PMS, stress or anxiety, insomnia, constipation, TMJ, back issues, digestive disorders of any kind, ulcers etc.

I was subconsciously taking the credit for inventing this "technique", until I was driving home today, exhausted from the most activated super-hero day I've had in a while, and the image of the spanish guy staring at nothing popped into my head. I reinvented the wheel.

Siesta is so key to keeping things running smoothly, especially to those of us who are high-strung, busy, anxious, full-on, fiery go-getters. In Japan, Cambodia, France and Spain I have experienced these types of rest-breaks, and the importance never really sunk in. America is one of the few countries in which we don't take breaks like this, and also where people struggle the most with overeating, stress-related disorders and constipation. If we don't give ourselves the time and space to process our reality--physically and emotionally--we end up metaphysically and physically constipated (in other words... "full of sh**").

How to Take a Good Siesta:
Sit in the most comfortable and supportive position possible. Laying down often leads to naps, which is a different can of worms. Sit and unfocus your eyes, let your belly go, open your teeth and close your lips, let your jaw go, let your face go slack, shoulders relax, thighs relax, hips relax, organs relax, eyelids droop but not close. Do this without music, T.V., books, conversations or any other distracting stimulus  for 5-10 minutes every day.

The Siesta Paradigm:
Do one thing at a time. If you are eating; eat. If you are reading; read. The world is not ending tomorrow, the human race is not a race. Slow down. I have been challenging myself lately to eat all of my meals with no other "doing" (no computer, no book, no "to-do list" writing). I appreciate my food more, I eat slower, I taste more, I eat less (because I notice I am eating), and I chew more. My mind is so active I was feeling useless and unproductive during mealtimes, but I have found it one of the most tranquil times. Sitting. Eating.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cleaning House for the Next Generation

I recently found myself on a two hour journey in the cab of a tow truck with a man from Centralia at the wheel. Among small talk about his three month old daughter, his life in Centralia, his church and his job offer to be an RV mechanic, he mentioned something that got me unsettled. His Peruvian wife was a cleaner for a hotel before she had the baby. He said that she quit the job when she got pregnant because they were worried for the baby. A little confused as to the connection and mainly assuming it was because of the physical labor, I asked why. The woman had two co-workers who had miscarried in the last year, and he knew it was because of the chemicals they use when cleaning. He didn't want the same for his wife, and was glad to say that their baby was healthy.

That heart-wrenching story got me thinking about worker's rights, but also about those cleaning chemicals. Do we really need them? How clean do things really need to be at the risk of birth defects and miscarriage? Is our obsession with hygiene taking its silent toll? I am interested to hear thoughts and experiences about this topic.

In the spirit of education, I would like to share some of my cleaning habits and tools that may help you get some of those chemicals out of your life.

White Vinegar
I use vinegar for almost all cleaning tasks in the house. We bought a 5 gallon jug of it at Target, and stuffed as many cedar boughs in it as possible (cedar is anti-fungal, we life in a house with a lot of mold). I pour some in hot water and mop, I pour it on the sponge when I clean the toilet, I put in in a spray bottle with essential oils (oregano, eucalyptus, tea tree, cedar) and water to spray countertops with. It is antibacterial and antifungal. Its acidity helps dissolve stuff. And... You can drink it.

Hydrogen Peroxide
Where there is mold, hydrogen peroxide is your friend. Make sure not to let it touch your skin if dilution is higher than 5%. (I figured that out the other day when I let 35% touch my finger tips and they turned white). It kills the living things it touches by creating an oxidizing chain reaction. If it touches something living, it foams. This is a great way to tell whether there is mold somewhere or not. I dip the head of an old toothbrush and scrub corners of things. It is a great alternative to bleach.

Enzyme based cleaners
Moldzyme and drain enzyme are magical. They contain enzymes that eat away at specific organisms' cell walls, and help them dislodge or die. Both are pretty much non-toxic (don't drink or bathe in it though). You can purchase these online, or at the local health food store.

Plastic Wool, Abrasive sponges
Elbow grease can replace intense cleaners that "cut grease" etc. Get something that can scrub.

Cayenne Pepper
Repels insects. Great if you have an ant problem. Remember to continue to replenish this. I mixed vinegar, hot water and powdered cayenne and wiped down my entire counter and cupboard with the mixture. Then, I sprinkled a line of cayenne as a barrier where the ants were entering. They no longer venture into my honey. Also, keeping the insides of cupboard clean and your honey jar rinsed is a great way of preventing this.

I avoid getting exposed to bleach at all costs, and would recommend this to any woman who plans on bearing children in the future. I also avoid fertilizers and pesticides like the plague. Note to everyone else, don't make us use these things, please.