Holistically Healing Acid Reflux and Heartburn

As I approach 40, it’s become obvious to me that my youthful “iron” digestion isn’t what it once was. Having only ever suffered from indigestion and heartburn during pregnancy, it’s hard to adjust to the pain and discomfort heartburn now regularly brings, especially at night.

I wanted to become more informed about heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux, and having taken both my GP’s and some more alternative views I’ve discovered that there are options to treat the causes of heartburn holistically, instead of relying on over-the counter short term antacids to relieve the symptoms. Instead, try to find a permanent relief – by eating a healthier diet, exercising and generally looking after ourselves we can at least start to address holistically the causes of heartburn.

However as always it’s important to remember that if in doubt, or if your heartburn is occurring frequently, consult your GP, as the symptoms of other more serious health issues could be mistaken for heartburn. A burning sensation in the chest can also be a sign of a heart attack. If you’re not sure, consult your GP or go to hospital immediately, especially if you experience shortness of breath, light-headedness, dizziness, cold sweat, nausea, or pain in your shoulders or neck.

What is Heartburn?

The medical term for heartburn is Pyrosis, which is defined as an uncomfortable feeling of burning and warmth occurring in waves rising up from the breastbone toward the neck and into the throat. Heartburn is usually due to a wider digestive disorder called acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the regurgitation of stomach acid back up into the oesophagus.

When we eat, food normally enters the stomach and is prevented from backing up by a band of muscle at the end of the oesophagus called the lower oesophageal sphincter. Heartburn occurs when this muscle doesn’t properly close and the acidic contents of the stomach are able to back up into the oesophagus. Pregnancy and obesity can also increase abdominal pressure and increase your risk of experiencing acid reflux as well. Other digestive disorders such as a peptic ulcer or insufficient digestive enzymes in the stomach can also cause stomach acid to build up and back up into your oesophagus.

Known Causes of Heartburn

There are many causes of heartburn and acid reflux, the most common of which are listed below. It may be helpful to add up how many of these apply to you, and decide where you can make changes in your lifestyle to alleviate instances of heartburn.

Spicy , Fried and Fatty foods (including full-fat dairy products)
These foods all tend to slow down digestion, keeping the food in your stomach longer.

Coffee, tea, and other caffeinated and carbonated drinks
Caffeine can relax the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES), allowing stomach contents to reflux into the oesophagus.

Obesity
There is a widely acknowledged link between being overweight and suffering from heartburn. Extra weight around the abdomen area can apply pressure on the stomach and thereby cause the normal acid contents of the stomach to reflux.

Chocolate
Chocolate contains concentrations of theobromine (a compound that occurs naturally in many plants such as cocoa, tea and coffee plants), which relaxes the oesophageal sphincter muscle, letting stomach acid squirt up into the oesophagus. This can result in increases pressure in the stomach, which in turn puts more pressure on a weakened LES, allowing reflux of stomach contents.

Other “Trigger” Foods

  • Tomatoes and tomato-based products
  • Citrus fruits, especially fruit juices
  • Peppermint and spearmint products
  • Dry fruits and nuts especially peanuts, walnuts and almonds

These foods are all known to relax the lower oesophageal sphincter.

Alcohol and Smoking
Alcohol also relaxes the lower oesophageal sphincter, as well as increasing the production of stomach acid. The chemicals in cigarette smoke further weaken the LES as they pass from the lungs into the blood. If you smoke and drink, and have regular heartburn episodes, look long and hard at your habits if you want to make long-term improvements in this area.

Large meals
A full stomach can put extra pressure on the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES), which will increase the chance that some of this food will reflux into the oesophagus.

Eating prior to bedtime and late-night snacks
Lying down with a full stomach can cause stomach contents to press harder against the LES, increasing the chances of refluxed food.

Eating in a rush or in a stressful environment
When we’re eating on the go or in a stressful environment it is possible to bolt food down, chew insufficiently, and overdose on “bad” food and drink such as alcohol, caffeine, sugars and fatty foods. During stressful times, routines are disrupted and people may not follow their normal eating routines – it’s also a time we’re more likely to “comfort eat” and break with healthy eating patterns. By addressing issues that cause stress in our lives, we can also reduce the likelihood of stress-related heartburn.

Wearing tight fitting clothes
Clothing that fits tightly around the abdomen (belts, tight underwear, pyjamas etc) constricts the stomach, forcing food up against the LES, and cause food to reflux into the oesophagus.

Heartburn Prevention

Many heartburn sufferers experience symptoms at night. The following suggestions may help with nighttime symptoms.

Eat your main meal of the day at lunch instead of at dinnertime, and avoid late dinners and snacking – have your last snack no later than two hours before bedtime. This way your stomach won’t still be working on that big meal when you go to bed.

Eat at least two to three hours before lying down. If you take naps, try sleeping in a chair. Lying down with a full stomach can cause stomach contents to press harder against the LES, increasing the chances of refluxed food.

Avoid foods that are known to lead to heartburn, especially as your evening meal or later. If you aren’t sure what foods trigger your heartburn symptoms, try keeping a heartburn record for a week.

Sleep with your head and shoulder on an incline. Lying down flat presses the stomach’s contents against the LES. With the head higher than the stomach, gravity helps reduce this pressure. You can elevate your head in a couple of ways. You can also use a wedge-shaped or “V” shaped pillow to elevate your head, or simply sleep with an extra pillow.

Sleep on your left side.

Make sure your bed clothes are loose-fitting.

Avoid lying down right after eating. Give your body a couple of hours to digest the food you’ve just eaten.

Give up smoking and reduce your alcohol intake

Take an antacid tablet as soon as you feel heartburn symptoms.

Begin a diet and exercise programme if you’re overweight. More importantly, take a good look at what you are eating, and avoid where possible the foods listed above, or any others that you think may be contributing to your heartburn.

Reduce your stress levels. Sing, dance, meditate, practice deep breathing or do yoga to help your body relax. This will help to reduce the pressure on your stomach.

Carminatives are drugs or natural agents whose main action is to soothe the gut wall and gas production in the digestive tract. By doing so they can remove the pressure of flatulence and digestive pain by soothing stomach muscles and increasing secretions of digestive juices. Chamomile, fennel, clover, ginger, peppermint, garlic and sage all have a carminative action.

If you feel as if the foods you are consuming are not being digested properly, talk to your GP about the possibility of taking digestive enzymes before each meal to help break down foods in the stomach and improve digestion. Food enzymes come in many forms. There are broad spectrum food enzymes that can help to digest proteins, carbohydrates and fats. There are also specialized enzymes that help digest specific types of foods such as fats, proteins and milk.

Alleviating Heartburn Symptoms

If you experience heartburn or acid reflux at night, first elevate your head or the head of your bed. Remain upright until the pain subsides, either propped up in bed or in a chair. Take an antacid tablet as soon as possible.

Some additional remedies to consider are listed below:

  • Have a cold glass of milk
  • Many sources state that apple cider vinegar is helpful for heartburn. Try taking 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons of raw honey in a glass of water before a heavy or late meal or when heartburn strikes
  • Aloe Vera juice, Chamomile, Ginger and Peppermint herbal tea are all supposed to be helpful for preventing heartburn – you can buy herbal teabag selection packs at your local health food shop or larger supermarket chains and try them out before investing in a single flavour.
  • A teaspoon of Baking soda dissolved in a glass of water is another reported reliever, however check with your GP if you are trying to regulate your sodium intake.
  • Slowly sucking on a boiled sweet is reported to help some sufferers

The good news is that you don’t have to suffer repeatedly from heartburn and acid reflux; most people can obtain excellent relief with dedicated commitment to healthy eating and daily habits.

A Brief History of Incense

Ancient Incense
Mankind has used incense, in its earliest forms, since the dawn of human history. With the discovery of fire, our ancestors would have realised that most materials give off a unique and sometimes powerful aroma when burnt. The difference between the smell of a handful of Parsley and that of a Pine tree branch is greatly emphasized when each is burnt. Then as now, the air is quickly filled with intoxicating aromas simply by throwing some dried leaves, spices or twigs into a fire.
There is historic evidence in most cultures that our ancestors used incense burning for sacred and healing purposes. From ancient times people recognised that aromas produced by burning materials could heighten the senses, both sight and smell. When early man gathered around his fire, the smell of aromatic woods, herbs and leaves carried by heaven-wards spirals of smoke was a rare sensory pleasure – from this discovery it was no doubt a short step to dedicating fragrant products to the Gods, by adding them to a fire, which would also carry the good wishes and prayers of men upwards on the heat of the flames. Other benefits ascribed to the burning of incense included the purification of an area, to change a mood (to facilitate meditation or religious practices) and to cleanse and disinfect living spaces, especially after pollution caused by, for instance, death or illness.

The Rise of Incense and The “Frankincense Trail”
Several thousands of years before the advent of Christianity, the plants, herbs and spices that produced the best incense were traded as highly desirable commodities. For many years Frankincense from the Arabian peninsula was actually a more valuable currency than gold or silver. In almost every religion, aromatic oils, leaves and powders were considered a gift from the Gods, symbolic of divine grace. Frankincense was used in vast quantities by the ancient Egyptians, Persians and Assyrians, and via them, by the Romans, who would have learnt of its use when coming into contact with eastern nations.
The significance of the belief that the three wise men brought Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to the infant Jesus was both the princely nature of the gifts and their symbolic significance – Frankincense was a costly gift literally “fit for a king”, while Bitter Myrrh referred to the bittersweet fate awaiting the messiah.
The trade in Frankincense flourished for centuries, particularly in the Arabian peninsula area of Oman, and its use can be traced back to the reign of the Queen of Sheba, who reigned over the Hadramut Kingdom which included Oman. The Frankincense trade flourished for fifteen hundred years, peaking at the height of the Roman Empire. The trade only declined due to reduced demand after the fall of the Roman Empire and also because of the exorbitant taxes levied along the strictly controlled trade routes.

The Parallel History of Smudging
The idea of purification through smoke is certainly not the sole preserve of the world to the east of the Atlantic – the Native North Americans have also burned herbal smoke mixtures in ceremonial cleansing and healing rituals for thousands of years. Smudging (the common name given to the sacred smoke bowl blessing) has been a part of Native American tradition since ancient times.
As with its Eastern counterparts, the “smudging” or burning of herbs and resins was and continues to be a practise held literally sacred by many traditional cultures. Smudging takes many forms; herbs are either tied into bundles called “smudge sticks”, or the longer, tendril like herbs may be braided into “ropes”. Smudging calls on the spirits of sacred plants to drive away negative energies and restore balance. The most popular herbs and plants for smudging include Cedar, Sage, Sweetgrass and Tobacco. Each of these plants is imbued with a unique quality and specific energy and as such are known as “Sacred Plant Helpers”. Their smoke is ceremonially fanned through the energy field (aura) to cleanse negative energies, heal, bless and attract positive forces.
Smudging continues to this day as an integral part of Native American purification rituals -all spaces and the tools used for healings must be smudged, and smudging is an integral part of other important ceremonies such as medicine wheel gatherings, the vision quest and sweat lodge.

Incense and Modern Religion
The use of incense in organised religion continues as a relevant and important aspect of several confirmed religions, being used to prepare the congregation for prayer and ritual. In the Roman Catholic and Eastern churches, incense is a sacramental, that is – “an action or object of ecclesiastical origin that serves to express or increase devotion” (Merriam Webster online dictionary).
The Roman Catholic Church has always recognized the value of rites and ceremonial observances, not only for increasing the solemnity of her services but for arousing a spirit of devotion in those who minister at them and those who attend them. For a period the use of incense was discontinued in the Western Church because of its close association with pagan worship, but it has always been used in the Eastern Church. The incense used today is powder or grains of resin or vegetable gums or other such substances which, when burned, give off a sweet smelling of smoke. Perhaps ironically, the Roman Catholic church now shares a devotion to incense at the heart of its rituals with the increasing number of practising pagans and wiccans, the very groups it sought to dissociate itself from.
The mystical meanings ascribed to incense by the church hardly differs from those of our ancestors. By its burning, incense symbolizes the zeal of the faithful, its sweet fragrance echoes the “odour of sanctity” believed to be exuded by saints and martyrs, and its rising smoke symbolises the ascent of prayers to heaven. Also, incense creates a cloud, which is another symbol for godliness.


The Founder of Modern “Aromatherapy”

Incense has quite rightly been called the forefather of modern Aromatherapy, and its use as the earliest form of healing based on scent is undisputed. Today, there has been resurgence in the use of essential oils and the burning of incense as tools to employ the power of Aromatherapy, which is now recognized as being able, via the stimulation of the olfactory nerves, to produce physical, emotional and psychological effects independent of the thinking process.
As we smell scents, whether it be incense, fresh paint or sausage and mash(!) our mind is busy working on a subconscious level – deciding whether we like it and determining whether we recognize it. These responses are created in the limbic system – or more accurately the information is sent via the nerves to the olfactory epithelium, which is part of the limbic system in the brain. Data is then transmitted to the conscious parts of the brain. The limbic system is the oldest and most primitive section of the brain – it stores information about every scent ever smelled, and provides responses and reactions to various stimuli. It is considered the seat of memory, and as such is a powerful mood affecter.
All smell is molecular – in other words, when we smell a scent, we are registering a physical molecule that disconnects itself from its carrier and drifts in the air – arriving through the nose to the mucous membrane which has millions of odour-receptor cells and cilia to catch and identify scent molecules in the air. Unlike our other four senses, the nerve system for smell is directly exposed to its source of stimulation – this explains the immediate, unthinking effect of scents on the nervous system. Scent can cause an instant and overwhelming reaction, either pleasant or unpleasant, in a way that no other sensation can.
In addition, our ability to learn and our capacity for sympathy are also located in the limbic system, hence the often close link that feelings of sympathy and antipathy often have with smells. The limbic system is also responsible for creativity, inspiration, and all non-thinking, automatic life processes such as heartbeat, hormone regulation and respiration. Scent can affect all of of these powerful bodily processes.
The use of incense, and of essential oils in modern Aromatherapy has validated the belief held by our ancient forefathers. Many of the reactions and decisions we make are intrinsically linked to our sense of smell, and many areas of our health and relaxation can be positively affected by smell, and by definition, through Aromatherapy. Incense can help to:

cleanse the atmosphere

aid calm and reduce anxiety, stress, and fear

revitalize, stimulate, and renew energy

alleviate insomnia

prepare the mind and body for prayer, meditation and contemplation

accelerate healing

Creating Your Own Aromatherapy First Aid Kit

Are you getting the most from Aromatherapy?
Many people who have tried Aromatherapy are still missing out on the full benefits of essential oils. There is still a widescale perception that essential oils are primarily aids to mood enhancement and fragrancing; there are however many essential oils with proven antiseptic, anti-fungal, air purifying, healing and sedative qualities.
In using essential oils to supplement mainstream first aid preparations, we are following in the footsteps of René-Maurice Gattefossé, the French chemist remembered today as the father of aromatherapy, who is credited with actually inventing the word “aromatherapy”.
It is recounted that sometime during the 1920’s Gattefossé discovered the healing power of Lavender essential oil after burning his hand whilst in his laboratory – he doused it with the nearest liquid available which happened to be Lavender oil, and was surprised to notice that his hand healed more quickly than he expected. This led him to investigate other possible healing properties of essential oils.

Although there are literally dozens of essential oils credited with medicinal properites, you can create a really useful first aid kit fairly cheaply, with just six key oils.
For ease of reference we’ve listed these oils below in a handy table format, with a summary of the information provided for each oil in our main Aromatherapy Guide section. We’ve also listed any known contra-indications or precautions for each oil.
A couple of general points will maximise the benefit you receive from essential oils:

Invest in a secure storage box for your oils. Not only will this prolong their life, many essential oils are toxic if taken internally, so they need to be stored responsibly, away from children.

A good quality base/carrier oil is also extremely useful to mix your essential oils in – a light, all purpose oil such as Sweet Almond would be ideal, as it is kind to all skin types, helps relieve itching, soreness, dryness and inflammation, as well as being useful against burns and thread veins.

 

Popular Name Botanical Name Useful For Best blended with Safety Precautions
Tea Tree Melaleuca Alternifolia
Tea Tree’s natural healing properties are used in aromatherapy to treat cuts, burns and insect bites and stings, as well as for yeast and fungal infecions such as Athlete’s Foot. Tea Tree’s aroma is pungent and medicinal, but its action is non irritating to the skin.


Recommended usage – Tea Tree diluted one part to nine parts carrier oil makes a natural first aid remedy. Add to a bath or footbath, or as a douche for viral and fungal infections.

Eucalyptus, Pine Dilute before direct application
Lavender Lavandula Angustifolia
Widely used in Aromatherapy to ease tension, invigorate after tiredness and to dispel feelings of depression. Lavender’s gentle yet powerful healing properties also make it ideal to treat minor burns and insect bites. Lavender is one of the few essential oils gentle enough to apply undiluted to the skin for minor cuts, bites and grazes. A few drops of the oil in a hot bath relieves anxiety and produces a pleasant drowsiness, whilst adding to a cool bath refreshes and energises. Use neat on minor burns, bites and scrapes, or on the temples to ease a headache.
Chamomile, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Geranium Lavender is perfectly safe for all home use, and is also safe to use during pregnancy; however some authorities reccommend it is best avoided in the first three months of pregnancy
Rosemary  Rosmarinus Officinalis
Rosemary is antiseptic, cleansing, invigorating and astringent, with a fresh, green,minty smell. In aromatherapy it is used for headaches, respiratory and circulation problems and fluid retention. Use in a massage, especially for muscular aches, and head massage for a greasy scalp. Add to the bath to counteract tiredness and mental fatigue. Inhale or add to an oil burner for respiratory problems.
Geranium, Peppermint Rosemary is safe for all home use if diluted before application. However it is best avoided during pregnancy or if you have epilepsy.
Chamomile Anthemis Nobilis
Chamomile is healing, antiseptic and sedative.
Use in the bath or as a cold or hot compress for headaches and mentrual pains
Lavender  Dilute before direct application
Peppermint Mentha Piperita
Peppermint contains Menthol, hence its energising, cooling and head clearing properties. Pepperming is useful for headaches, fatigue, varicose veins, nausea and indigestion and PMT. Add a few drops to a tissue to clear a stuffy head or relieve a headache, nausea or travelsickness. Add a few drops to a footbath to invigorate hot, tired feet.
Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Lavender Peppermint is very potent and may irritate sensitive skin – use in moderation and always dilute before application. Best avoided during pregnancy.
Eucalyptus Eucalyptus Globulus
Antiseptic, stimulating, cooling on the skin.
Eucalyptus is a powerful antiseptic, so useful for fevers, where its skin cooling properties are also beneficial.
It is also a powerful decongestant and aids breathing and chest complaints.
Use in a massage, bath, inhalation, oil burner or poultice. Added to a bowl of hot water it aids breathing easier, or can be applied as a chest massage.
Tea Tree, Lavender
Dilute before direct application

 
Your new Aromatherapy first aid kit should come in handy for a whole range of minor ailments and injuries, both physical and emotional. Before you reach for commercially produced remedies for the following, take out your essential oil first aid kit!

Cuts, bruises, minor burns
Insect bites and stings
Strains and sprains, tired and aching muscles and feet
Nausea and indigestion
Headaches
PMT and stomach cramps
Coughs, colds and respiratory complaints.
Remember that your aim, when blending essential oils together for first aid use, differs from when you are creating a blend of scents. Your goal isn’t to create a mood-enhancing blend of scents, but to combine essential oils in a medicinal compound. For instance, Tea tree and Eucalyptus are both very strong, pungent oils, but their healing properties are invaluable.
Lastly, please remember that essential oils cannot be used as an alternative to seeking qualified, professional assistance in the case of serious injuries or acute conditions, such as an asthma attack.

An Introduction to The Physical, Psychological and Spiritual Properties of Chakras

The word Chakra (pronounced “sha-kra”) is the Sanskrit for wheel or disk which is normally used in Indian Yoga to describe the seven major energy centres through which energy flows in and out of the body. Yogic tradition maintains that the chakras are the repository of our life force, or Prana. The idea of a powerful life force is found throughout Eastern religion and philsophy – the Chinese call this force Ch’i, and the Japanese call it Ki.
Although there are said to be hundreds of minor chakras in the human body in addition to the seven major chakras, they are not physical. They are aspects of consciousness in the same way that the auras are aspects of consciousness. However each of the seven chakras is associated with one of the seven endocrine glands in the body, and also with a group of nerves called a plexus. Each chakra can be associated with particular parts of the body and particular functions within the body controlled by that plexus or that endocrine gland associated with that chakra.

Each of the seven major Chakras correlates to levels of consciousness, archetypal elements, developmental stages of life, colors, sounds, body functions, crystal healing gems, herbs and fragrances, to name a few. Clearly chakras are central to many Holsitic theories of wellness and healing, being concerned as they are with herbal, colour, sound and gemstone healing, mantras and aromatherapy!

Each Chakras is said to vibrate at its own frequency, which is also connected to the musical scale (see below). There are two common schools of thought concerning the particular resonances of the chakras. The first is that they resonate to the musical notes C, D,E,F,G,A and B as you go up through the 7 chakras from the base to the top. The second is that everyone has an individual chakra resonance.

Each frequency governs certain properties – the understanding of and “tuning into” these frequencies may empower us to deal with the specific life challenges of that energy center or chakra and as a consequence to live more whole, meaningful and fulfilling lives. However as with other energy centres, the chakras can become misaligned or over or under active.
The seven major Chakras are sited along the spinal column, between the base of the spine and the top of the head. The chakras located on the lower part of our body are our instinctual side, the highest ones our mental side.

First ( Root) Chakra
The Root chakra is about being physically there and feeling at home in situations. If it is open, you feel grounded, stable and secure. You don’t unnecessarily distrust people. You feel present in the here and now and connected to your physical body. You feel you have sufficient territory. If you tend to be fearful or nervous, your Root chakra is probably under-active. You’d easily feel unwelcome. If this chakra is over-active, you may be very materialistic and greedy. You’re probably obsessed with being secure and resist change.
 
Second (Sacral) Chakra
The Sacral chakra is about feeling and sexuality. When it is open, your feelings flow freely, and are expressed without you being over-emotional. You are open to intimacy and you can be passionate and lively. You have no problems dealing with your sexuality. If you tend to be stiff and unemotional or have a “poker face,” the Sacral chakra is under-active. You’re not very open to people. If this chakra is over-active, you tend to be emotional all the time. You’ll feel emotionally attached to people and you can be very sexual.
 
Third ( Navel) Chakra
The Navel chakra is about asserting yourself in a group. When it is open, you feel in control and you have sufficient self esteem. When the Navel chakra is under-active, you tend to be passive and indecisive. You’re probably timid and don’t get what you want. If this chakra is over-active, you are domineering and probably even aggressive.
 
Fourth (Heart) Chakra
The Heart chakra is about love, kindness and affection. When it is open, you are compassionate and friendly, and you work at harmonious relationships. When your Heart chakra is under-active, you are cold and distant. If this chakra is over-active, you are suffocating people with your love and your love probably has quite selfish reasons.
 
Fifth (Throat) Chakra
The Throat chakra is about self-expression and talking. When it is open, you have no problems expressing yourself, and you might be doing so as an artist. When this chakra is under-active, you tend not to speak much, and you probably are introverted and shy. Not speaking the truth may block this chakra. If this chakra is over-active, you tend to speak too much, usually to domineer and keep people at a distance. You’re a bad listener if this is the case.
 
Sixth (Third Eye) Chakra
The Third Eye chakra is about insight and visualisation. When it is open, you have a good intuition. You may tend to fantasize. If it is under-active, you’re not very good at thinking for yourself, and you may tend to rely on authorities. You may be rigid in your thinking, relying on beliefs too much. You might even get confused easily. If this chakra is over-active, you may live in a world of fantasy too much. In excessive cases halucinations are possible.
 
Seventh (Crown) Chakra
The Crown chakra is concerned with wisdom and being one with the world. When this chakra is open, you are unprejudiced and quite aware of the world and yourself. If it is under-active, you’re not very aware of spirituality. You’re probably quite rigid in your thinking. If this chakra is over-active, you are probably intellectualizing things too much. You may be addicted to spirituality and are probably ignoring your bodily needs.
Realigning and Stimulating the Chakras
When discussing chakras and chakra balancing, it’s important to keep a postive and down to earth attitude. While it can be interesting and helpful to be given a chakra diagnosis, or told that you have a chakra imbalance, it’s not particularly helpful if this then causes anxiety, or apathy, and possibly remain stuck in those states.
If you’re concerned that your chakras are imbalanced, or if you are advised of this by an energy worker, then ask the energyworker to provide treatment options. Meanwhile, there are some surprisingly basic exercises that are recommended, that you can carry out easily at home, to help navigate your chakras toward wellness.
 
Simple Chakra Exercises

Root Chakra
Stamping your feet
Marching or “power” walking

Sacral Chakra
Circular pelvis movements
Pelvic thrusts

Solar Plexus Chakra
Dancing, especially belly dancing
Doing the Twist

Heart Chakra
Push ups
Swimming, especially breast stroke

Throat Chakra
Gargling with salt water
Singing, shouting or screaming!

Brow (Third Eye) Chakra
Visualization
Remote Viewing

Crown Chakra
Meditation
Prayer

Finding Time to Meditate

Meditation is a powerful tool for improving the quality of your life, both internal and external. For centuries it has helped people attain spiritual enlightenment, while also improving concentration and self awareness, combating stress, and aiding relaxation.
However meditation is much more than a tool for relaxation – by using meditation to restrain the wanderings of our minds, we can bring ourselves back to full awareness of the present moment, and experience things as they really are.

Research, plus common sense, tell us that regular meditation is good for us, both physically, psychologically and spiritually. However if, like most people in the 21st century, you’re wondering how you’re going to fit in enough time for regular meditation, you may just need a little help to get started.

Although most of us have work, family and social commitments, often all that’s needed is a little forward planning and reorganization of our routines to be able to incorporate meditation or another relaxation technique into your daily life. After a while, this too will become part of your routine, if maintained for long enough.

>> Meditate regularly, even for a couple of minutes a day
The word “meditation” can conjour up images of cross legged monks in isolated temples or caves. Although this is true for some practitioners who have devoted their lives to meditation, for most of us, even a few minutes set aside daily will allow us to make steady progress, if carried out regularly. Promise yourself that you will set aside 10 minutes initially, no longer.

>> Review your time management
If your typical day is fairly manic, fitting something else in may not seem worth the effort. However it helps to think of this as an investment of your time, and a commitment to yourself.
Have an honest look at your current time management – even without the benefits of meditation sessions, managing your schedule more effectively will place less pressures on you, the need to rush about may decrease if you’re better organised, and you’ll be that bit less frazzled at the end of each day!
When you do incorporate meditation into your day, if you’re better organised you’ll be less stressed, which will allow you to concentrate on your mediation, which in turn will help you feel calmer.

>> Save time – draw up a timetable!
Making time for meditation needn’t be an arduous task or an exact science. You don’t need to draw up an exact timetable, just a typical week’s regular events and commitments, such as going to work, travelling time, doing the school run, regular shopping trips, making the dinner, preparing packed lunches, washing up etc. Also include visits to the gym or other similar events.Note down what time you usually get up and go to bed as well.

When you’ve listed all of a typical week’s regular events and time constraints, make a second list or tasks that are required regularly, but may be missed, such as paying bills, filing letters, weeding the garden, going to Weight Watchers etc. It may be a good idea to set aside a few hours per week, or an evening, to carry out these tasks.

Having listed everything in your normal schedule, you may be surprised to find that there appears to be more spare time than you imagined. So where does the rest of the time go? Watching TV perhaps, chatting on the phone to friends or just lying on the sofa?

If you can’t account for the amount of spare time shown, keep a diary for a week, noting exactly how long things take to complete. You may then have to revisit your timetable if, for example, you didn’t allow enough time for picking the kids up, doing the weekly shop etc.
Once it fairly accurately reflects your time constraints during the week, your timetable will help you identify regular “slots” for meditation opportunities.

>> Quick time-savers
Changing just a few of our everyday habits and routines can really save a lot of time during the day. One or more of the following tips may help:

When the post is delivered, open it by the bin, so that you can discard all junk mail and unnecessary letters straight away; otherwise these have a tendency to pile up!

File all statements, bills, letters etc as they come in.

Ration your time chatting on the phone! If you have a friend or relative who tends to chat excessively, try calling them when you know you can keep the call short. Your phone bill and your time will thank you!

Switch the television off between the programmes you really want to watch – otherwise there’s a temptation to just sit in front of it through the evening. This will also help, for example, older kids with homework to complete.

Ask for help and learn to delegate! if you’re spending a lot of time doing housework or looking after other people, ask for their help. If someone tries to offload a non-essential job onto you, explain that you haven’t got the time, and suggest they do it instead.
These may seem like simple, or self explanatory suggestions, but most of us can think of several chores or routines that we do regularly that could be carried out by other members of the household, or by friends. Remember – you’re making time for yourself, and this may require taking firm control of your time.

However busy we are, there is room for meditation in our lives, but to enjoy its full range of benefits, meditation needs to be approached with respect. With sufficient time in our schedules set aside for it, meditation can help us properly restore balance and take control of our minds.

Why You Should Learn to Love Lavender

12 Great Uses for Lavender Essential Oil

Whilst recently researching a completely different article on essential oils, I was struck by how many aromatherapy authorities and writers mention Lavender as their favourite fragrance. While I’ve always enjoyed the unique aroma of Lavender essential oil, and enjoy nothing better than sitting in my garden on a warm day, drowning in the sents of my many Lavender bushes, I’d never really thought about just how many ways Lavender essential oil can be used.

It’s all too easy to be seduced by some of the more exotic (and expensive) essential oils available, but Lavender, with its very reasonable price tag and its almost unique status as an essential oil that can be applied undiluted to the skin should take pride of place in your Aromatherapy collection.

Listed below are 12 ways I’ve discovered that you can employ the healing, calming power of Lavender essential oils on your body, face and around the home.

1) A drop or two of neat Lavender essential oil on the temples and/or back of the neck can ease an aching head.
2) Apply a drop of Lavender oil (on its own or with a drop of Tea tree oil) directly to cuts, scrapes and scratches to promote healing and the growth of new skin. (NB: These are the only oils which should be ever used neat on the skin – avoid the eye area.)
3) A lavender bath relaxes tired muscles and soothes the mind, and also prepares the body for sleep. As with most essentials, 5 to 10 drops is enough. Rather than adding the oil directly to the bathwater (because essentials don’t blend with water) dilute the lavender in your favourite carrier oil. For something different, you could also try diluting the Lavender in a tablespoon of milk, or even honey.
4) Make your own natural and inexpensive bath salts by mixing Epsom salts, sea salt or table salt, and/or powdered milk, and adding a liberal amount (10 – 20 drops) of Lavender oil.
5) Five to ten drops of Lavender essential oil mixed into two tablespoons (30ml) of your favourite carrier oil (Sweet Almond is recommended) makes a wonderfully relaxing and sleepy massage oil. Alternatively, substitute half of the Lavender with Geranium or Chamomile oil.
6) To induce restful sleep, put a drop or two (no more) of Lavender on a cotton ball and tuck it into the corner of your pillow case. Lavender is effective at inducing a relaxing sleep either on its own or when combined with Chamomile.
7) Fragrance and freshen any room in the house by adding a few drops of Lavender oil to an  aroma lamp ring, radiator humidifier or simply in a bowl of hot water.
8) Add a few drops of Lavender oil to a clean cotton cloth and place in your tumble dryer to give a relaxing scent to bed sheets, pillowcases and towels.
9) Treat your feet to an essential oil footbath -carrying more weight and suffering more stress than any other part of the body, they deserve it. A soothing footbath will warm and relax the muscles, improve circulation and soothe any aches and pains. Add 5-10 drops of Lavender to 2 gallons (9 litres) of hot water. Alternatively, mix Lavender with Geranium for a relaxing footbath, or with Eucalyptus and Pine for tired, aching feet.
10) Make a portable Lavender rescue tool by adding 3-4 drops of Lavender, either on its own or with another oil onto a clean cotton handkerchief. When you feel the need, simply inhale from the hankie. This is particularly useful for treating colds or headaches, and for clearing your head -whether at work, just before an interview, or prior to an exam. For the latter, Lavender is especially good combined with Clary Sage or Rosemary.
11) Make a quick, easy and natural room spray for the home by adding up to 15 drops of Lavender essential oil to 1 fl oz (30ml) of water in a spray bottle, shake well, and use as an air freshener – do not spray on or near polished surfaces. This spray is also great to use at bedtime to promote a good night’s sleep – spray around the bedroom generously just before retiring for the night.
12) To purify both the air and the carpets in your home, place 4-5 drops of Lavender (on its own or combined with Bergamot and/or Pine) onto a cotton wool ball and place inside the dust bag of your vacuum cleaner, against the air filter (where the air blows from the vacuum). Replace with a new cotton wool ball as required. A Lavender soaked cotton wool ball will also neutralise odours and add a pleasant aroma to wardrobes, laundry baskets, airing cupboards and shoe racks.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is one of the best known complementary therapies, but its true therapeutic power isn’t immediately obvious; when used with care Aromatherapy can provide a powerful boost to body and mind, employing the healing properties of essential oils on the physique, with a subtle but equally powerful effect on the mind.

Our sense of smell has the ability to bypass the conscious mind, connecting directly to the seat of our emotional behavior via the Olfactory nerves. Most people have experienced the sudden surge of long forgotten memories triggered by a fragrance – this powerful effect on mood is in turn communicated to us physically.

Several thousand essential oils are used in modern Aromatherapy, most of which are extracted from trees,shrubs, flowers, herbs and spices. We sell a selection of the most popular and versatile essential oils; rather than offer a large range of pre-blended oils we encourage our customers to experiment for themselves with these selected oils.

Guided Imagery

Envisioning a certain goal to help cope with health problems. — This technique concentrates on using images or symbols to train the mind to create a definitive physiological or psychological effect. Practitioners may teach clients how to relieve physical problems caused by stress, such as tension headaches. The technique has also been effectively used in some cancer treatment programs for pain management.

is usually incorporated as part of meditation or hypnotherapy. Affirmative images, words and symbols are conjured and held in the mind to promote physical, emotional, spiritual well-being. Guided Imagery can also be used to develop self-confidence in realizing a business or athletic goal.

A technique used to help someone focus on various images and pleasant experiences to relieve anxiety, promote relaxation, and provide diversion during painful procedures.
Guided imagery is an ancient form of meditation that uses the imagination (images and pictures we experience through any of our sensory perception) to reconnect to their inner resources for healing. This process, often guided by a practitioner or audio tape, can help boost the immune system, promotes a reduction in anxiety and pain, and a greater sense of wellbeing.

This relaxation and stress-reduction technique uses positive thoughts and images to relieve pain, slow the heart rate, and stimulate the body|s healing responses.
Physical problems can sometimes be alleviated by using the mind to concentrate on images and symbols. Stress related headaches and even cancer pain can be effectively managed as practitioners guide patients in order to create the desired physiological or psychological effect.

A technique of relaxation and pain control in which a person conjures up a picture that is held in mind during a painful or stressful experience.