Whilst researching the benefits of species I stumbled upon a brilliant article by the McCormick Science Institute about the history of spices, so I thought I’d share with you an extract.
"Herbs are the friends of physicians and the praise of cooks” - Emperor Charlemagne (AD 742-814) From the dawn of biblical times (17th century BC), spices were prized for a wide variety of uses including religious offerings, burial rituals, medicines, trade, and seasoning. Spices are mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible. In the Song of Solomon, several culinary spices are mentioned including cinnamon and saffron. In 1000 BC, Queen Sheba visited King Solomon in Jerusalem and offered him "120 measures of gold, many spices, and precious stones" (2 Chronicles 9:9). The people of Israel described manna bread as being “white like coriander seeds” (Exodus 16:31). The New Testament refers to a religious tithing of “a tenth of your spices - mint, dill, and cumin” (Matthew 23:23) and spices were described as anointing the body of Jesus (Mark 16:1).
Onion and garlic were of particular importance, during Ancient Egyptian times. Labourers who constructed the Great Pyramid of Cheops consumed onion and garlic to promote health as well as stamina and garlic cloves were found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen. Some ancient Egyptians even placed wooden figures of garlic cloves in their tombs to ensure a tasty and wholesome afterlife. The Egyptians also enjoyed flavouring their food with cardamom and cinnamon which they sourced from Ethiopia.
As we move on through history, King Merodach-Baladan II (721-710 BC) of Babylonia grew 64 different species of plants in his royal garden. He kept records on how to cultivate many spices and herbs such as cardamom, coriander, garlic, thyme, saffron, and turmeric. The religion of Babylonia involved an ancient medical god of the moon, who controlled medicinal plants. Potent parts of herbs were not allowed sun exposure and were harvested by moonlight. Persians also produced essential oils from roses, lilies, coriander, and saffron.
In Indian culture, Sushruta, an ancient surgeon (around 4th century BC), used white mustard and other aromatic plants in bed sheets to ward off malignant spirits. He also applied a poultice from sesame to postoperative wounds which may have acted as an antiseptic. Medical writings of Charaka (1st century) and Sushruta II (2nd century) referenced spices and herbs. Sushruta II also used spices and herbs such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, and pepper for healing purposes. Spices such as cardamom, ginger, black pepper, cumin, and mustard seed were included in ancient herbal medicines for different types of health benefits. In Ayurvedic medicine, spices such as cloves and cardamom were wrapped in betel-nut leaves and chewed after meals to increase the flow of saliva and aid digestion.
Spices and herbs played an important role in ancient Greek medical science. Hippocrates (460-377 BC), wrote about spices and herbs, including saffron, cinnamon, thyme, coriander, mint, and marjoram. He noted that great care should be given to the preparation of herbs for medical use. Of the 400 herbal remedies utilised by Hippocrates, at least half are in use today. Roughly 500 years later, Theophrastus (372-287 BC), sometimes called the "Father of Botany," wrote 2 books that summarised the knowledge of over 600 spices and herbs.
Mohammed (AD 570-632), who established the principles of Islam in the Koran, also co-owned a shop that stocked myrrh, frankincense, and Asian spices. The Mohammedans were outstanding scientists for their time. They advanced the process of extracting flower scents from blossoms and herbs and created techniques to distil essential oils from aromatic plants. Later (around the 9th century AD), Arab physicians used spices and herbs to formulate syrups and flavouring extracts.
During the Mediaeval times in Europe, apothecaries used Asian spices, such as ginger, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, saffron, and cardamom as well as garden herbs in their remedies and elixirs. The remedies were largely based on Arabian medical teaching. An important person in developing and growing local herbs was the King of France and Emperor of the West, Charlemagne (AD 742-814). He was the first leader to have farmers plant an abundance of culinary herbs such as anise, fennel, fenugreek, and sage, thyme, parsley, and coriander.
European cultivation of spices and herbs was largely controlled by the church during this period. Religious spice and herb feasts were common. Some ancient customs and superstitions (such as tying bundles of herbs to stable doors to keep the witches out) were also continued.
In AD 1180, King Henry II founded a "pepperer’s guild" of wholesale merchants, which was a predecessor to the modern day grocery store. The guild included spice trade management, which included cleaning and preparing the spices for sale. The original spicers and pepperers helped launch the apothecaries and later became medical practitioners. Some common medical practices included placing sponges soaked with cinnamon and clove extracts under patients' noses, sterilising rooms with sage smoke, and prescribing saffron, garlic soup, and juniper wine for health benefits.
When Christopher Columbus set out on his second voyage (AD 1493), he brought along Spanish physician Diego Chanca, who introduced capsaicin (red pepper) and allspice to Spanish cuisine. Vanilla is another spice that is native to Mexico and it was an Aztec tradition to drink chocolate beverages with a dash of vanilla. The Badianus Manuscript (AD 1552) is the oldest herbal text from the Americas and it includes ancient Mesoamerican prescriptions for a variety of afflictions.
‘But in truth, should I meet with gold or spices in great quantity, I shall remain till I collect as much as possible, and for this purpose I am proceeding solely in quest of them.’ - Christopher Columbus
One of the most promising developments for spices in modern times is that scientific evidence and research show that culinary spices and herbs may have beneficial effects in areas such as heart health, cognition, and weight management as well as improving diet quality by making healthier foods more acceptable to consumers. The body of scientific evidence is ever expanding to support the wisdom of our ancestors throughout the ages.
I hope you found this brief dip into the history of spices as interesting as I did. And I hope it encourages you to dig out those packs and jars of herbs and spices and start spicing up your food and life!
Wishing you a happy, healthy February.
Lots of love, Zoë x
This year why not discover what it is you really love doing? Why not delve inside and see what it is that really brings you joy. Find out what your purpose is, what feels ‘right’ and start to live it!
There’s no denying that if we live with purpose, success is sure to follow. This is all down to the Law of Attraction - what we put out we receive back. So if we are doing what we love, we radiate positive energy, we attract the same energy back. If we live in abundance, we manifest abundance. If we live with negativity and following the ‘this will never work’ mantra, then the chances are life is going to be HARD work! But how do we know what our purpose is? And how do we get into the mindset for manifesting all the universe has to offer?
Ideally your life purpose incorporates the things that bring you joy. The Japanese call this Ikigai, the concept of following your joy. Living with a purposeful, meaningful life is good for our mental and physical health and can help us connect with others. How marvellous!
Now, often, in the Western world we feel there needs to be a trade off between ‘work’, making money and ‘joy’, what brings us happiness, the two things in most instances are two separate concepts. But this doesn’t have to be the case - we need a new mindset! Here are some ways to help find your passion and your purpose.
World renowned motivational speaker, Tony Robbins says the two things keeping you from finding your purpose are:
Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year,
Lots of love, Zoë x
“The universe is unfolding perfectly. I don’t have to hang on. I can relax and let go. I can go with the flow. I trust my own process. I always have everything I need. I have all the love I need within my own heart. I am a lovable and loving person. I am whole in myself. Divine love is guiding me and I am always taken care of. The universe always provides.”
- Shakti Gawain
I love this quote. It makes me think anything is possible. It also helps to ground me, to bring me back to myself - to forget the superficial nonsense that we so easily get pulled into. Remembering this reminds me what is important and that I already have everything I need.
I was talking to the daughter of an old friend of mine whose family is from Sri Lanka. Every summer she would travel home with her parents to visit her extended family and grandmother, who at over 100 years old was well known by everyone in the village. We had been talking about how overwhelming Christmas can be and the stress we put ourselves under to ensure everyone has all the gifts they want and everyone is happy and having a good time - exhausting! I suggested that her incredible grandmother probably didn’t buy into this nonsense and may have contributed to her living to be a centenarian! My friend’s daughter said they are Buddhist and have always been very spiritual, working with the universal source. As part of their faith they believe that Nirvana exists within all of us - we already have everything we need if we look within - if we come back to ourselves, our essence, our source. We are beings of light and love.
So, to help you find your centre, here is a lovely grounding meditation to help you reconnect to your body, mind and soul. Remind yourself that you are part of the universal source, abundant with unconditional love. It will help centre you this holiday season, and leave you with the knowing you already have everything you need and whatever you gift, it will be enough.
Find a position that is comfortable for you, either seated or standing. Gently, straighten your back and relax your shoulders. Keep your chin high, and become aware of a readiness to fly in the back of your neck. This is the freedom of the world surrounding you.
Lots of love, Zoe xx
Why is eye contact so important?
The answer lies in a primal part of the brain called the cerebellum. The cerebellum helps predict the sensory consequences of actions and triggers the limbic mirror system, a set of brain areas that are active both when we move any part of the body, including the eyes, and when we observe someone else doing the same. The limbic system underlies our ability to recognise and share emotion and is critical to our capacity for empathy.
Studies have shown that people who are more empathic, (according to self-report questionnaires) have stronger activations both in the mirror system for hand actions and for emotions. The mirror neurons respond to actions that we observe in others and fire in the same way when we actually recreate that action ourselves. And, apart from imitation, they are responsible for a myriad of other sophisticated human behaviour and thought processes.
A study from Tampere University in Finland found that eye contact during video calls can elicit similar psychophysiological responses than those in genuine, in-person eye contact. Joanne Hietanen, the first author of the study says: "Our results imply that the autonomic arousal response to eye contact requires the perception of being seen by another. Another person's physical presence is not required for this effect. Unexpectedly, we also found that even when the other person was presented just on video, seeing direct gaze elicited the subtle facial reactions of smiling. This suggests that these facial reactions are highly automated responses to eye contact."
Smiling is in a sense, neurologically contagious, and so are the good feelings associated with them! The act of smiling can boost our dopamine and increase our feeling of happiness. Neurologist Dr. Isha Gupta confirms that smiling sparks a chemical change in the brain. She states, “Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and aggression.”
Data using eye-tracking measures suggest that the mirror neuron system develops before 12 months of age, and that this system may help human infants understand other people's actions. Studies have shown that eye contact leads to greater language skills by age 2. Early nonverbal forms of communication such as eye contact and joint attention, are vitally important for laying a solid foundation for language to develop. It has also been speculated that mirror neurons may provide the neurological basis of human self-awareness.
But for some, making and maintaining eye contact can be incredibly difficult. In 2006, neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni published a paper in Nature Neuroscience linking mirror neuron dysfunction to autism. “Reduced mirror neuron activity obviously weakens the ability of these patients to experience immediately and effortlessly what other people are experiencing, thus making social interactions particularly difficult for these patients. Patients with autism often have motor problems and language problems. It turns out that a deficit in mirror neurons can also, in principle, explain these other major symptoms.”
So, it’s clear that good eye contact from an early age helps to create those all important neuro pathways associated with empathy and helps strengthen the ability to communicate and understand the world around us. Understanding the impact a lack of this vital connection can make on a person’s development can help us be more sympathetic to a person’s struggles. And of course, don’t forget the power of a smile to lift the spirits of those around us.
Lots of love, Zoë xx
Source: Psychologytoday.com | ncbi.nlm.nih.gov | allinhealth.org | thinkbig.com
Autumn really is a visual feast! A second spring as the French novelist Albert Camus puts it - "What’s the autumn? A second spring, when every leaf is a flower.” And what ‘flowers’ it brings - golden hues, vibrant yellows and bold reds clashing brilliantly with contrasting colour combinations of red against green, blue against orange - Colour Theory brought to you by Mother Nature!
As we already know, being in nature has a wonderful effect on our bodies, helping to soothe and ease stress. Forest Bathing or shinrin-yoku has been known to activate a person’s parasympathetic nervous system, helping the body to enter a state of relaxation. But today I want to focus on why the colour of the outdoors is also beneficial. Karen Haller FRSA, is leading international authority in the field of behavioural colour & design psychology, she says, “When we use colour and design consciously, we get to create considered designs that improve the well-being of everyone involved… Every step we take away from nature we move further away from ourselves and what it is to be human.”
But what is Colour Theory? According to colormatters.com there are three basic categories of colour theory that are logical and useful: The colour wheel, colour harmony, and the context of how colours are used.
The Colour Wheel
Sir Isaac Newton developed the first circular diagram of colours in 1666. Since then, scientists and artists have studied and designed numerous variations of this concept. This basic Primary Colour wheel can be expanded upon to include secondary and tertiary colour variations, please see diagrams below.
In visual experiences, harmony is something that is pleasing to the eye. We are aiming for balance - extreme unity leads to under-stimulation, extreme complexity leads to over-stimulation. Harmony is a dynamic equilibrium, and nature is fabulous at it!
Analogous colours are any three colours which are side by side on a 12-part colour wheel, such as yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange. Usually one of the three colours predominates.
Complementary colours are any two colours which are directly opposite each other on the wheel, such as red and green and red-purple and yellow-green. These opposing colours create maximum contrast and maximum stability. Nature is great at this - especially at this time of the year!
In the illustration above, red yellow and green create a harmonious design, even though the combination of colours do not fit into a technical formula for colour harmony.
Colour Context is how colour behaves in relation to other colours and shapes. This is a complex area of colour theory. One example could be the way red appears vibrant against green, but dull against orange.
So let’s take nature’s lead - get outside more and soak up all the wonderful colours she has to offer. And if we can’t get out so much, let’s bring her colour pallet into our homes for a more happy, harmonious life.
Wishing you a happy, healthy October.
Lots of love, Zoë xx
Source: colourmatters.com | Karenhaller.com
Did you know there is an International Dark-Sky Association? Well there is! And it’s a global organisation that stretches from North America to New Zealand. The IDA states the sky is, “one half of the entire planet’s natural environment.”
Their award-winning International Dark Sky Places (IDSP) Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting policies and public education. This program offers five types of designation:
For millennia, the night sky has been a source of wonder, mystery and guidance.
Ada Blair is a psychotherapist, student of ecopsychology. (Ecopsychology is distinguished from conventional psychology as it focuses on studying the emotional bond between humans and the Earth.) Ada is also a regular visitor of the Isle of Sark, which is the smallest of the four main Channel Islands. Sark is a designated Dark Sky Community, where cars and street lights are banned, helping to make the perfect environment for viewing the night sky.
The fields of ecopsychology and environmental psychology look at how encounters with nature may be beneficial and transformative and Ada was interested to understand more about how the inhabitants of Sark felt about and responded to their incredible night sky. What she discovered through her quantitative research was:
You can read all about Ada’s research in her book ‘Sark in the Dark: Wellbeing and Community on the Dark Sky Island of Sark’ available on Amazon here.
But what is it about star gazing and the moon that captivates us so? The BBC’s Linda Geddes, delves into the lunar cycle to see what’s behind the mystery of the moon that’s fascinated us for millennia in her 2019 article ‘The Mood-Altering Power of the Moon’.
For centuries, people have believed that the Moon affects human behaviour. The word lunacy derives from the Latin lunaticus, meaning “moonstruck”. The Moon affects Earth in a couple of ways:
Both the Greek philosopher Aristotle and the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder believed that madness and epilepsy were caused by the Moon. But scientific evidence to suggest the lunar cycle affects human behaviour was inconsistent.
However, in 2017, Thomas Wehr, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, published a paper describing 17 patients with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, who showed an uncanny regularity in their episodes of illness. “The thing that struck me about these cycles was that they seemed uncannily precise in a way that one would not necessarily expect of a biological process… It led me to wonder if there was some kind of external influence that was operating on these cycles.”
Wehr was thorough in his study of his bipolar patients, in some cases tracking the dates of their mood episodes over the course of years. He discovered that his patients' mood fluctuations appeared to synchronise with the moons' (roughly) two-week cycles. It was noted that rhythms were interrupted by ‘supermoons’ when the orbit brings the moon particularly close to the Earth.
Another possibility is that patients are responding to the Moon's gravitational pullin the same way the oceans do: through tidal forces. "Humans are made out of water, but the pull is so weak that is would be difficult to see how that would work from a physical point of view" says Bambos Kyriacou, a behavioural geneticist at the University of Leicester, UK. "These are incredibly small changes, which can only be detected with extremely sensitive devices, but now there are over 200 publications to support this," says Joachim Fisahn, a biophysicist at the Max Planck Institute of Plant Physiology in Potsdam, Germany.
So it's clear the debate continues! To read Linda’s article in full, click here.
I for one love star gazing and the wonders of the moon. Absorbing the summer evenings as the sun sets and the fragrance of jasmine and honeysuckle drift on the breeze is heaven. As the skies darken and a tapestry of stars light the sky I feel the enormity of the universe and how we are part of it.
And don’t forget this year’s Perseid meteor shower which is active between 17 July and 24 August. This year the peak falls on the night of the 12th and before dawn on 13 August. Make sure to head out at dusk, allow 15 mins for your eyes to adjust, get comfy and enjoy the show.
Wishing you a lovely August.
Lots of love, Zoë xx
Source: darksky.org | bbc.com | Photo Credit: Greg Rakozy @unsplash
It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut. Repeating the same patterns day after day, year after year. Joe Dispenza talks about how we are so used to living in the past. Our expectations of outcome are based on past experience. How we prepare ourselves for a predetermined outcome before an event has even taken place. And when we do this, we limit the infinite, wondrous possible alternative outcomes!
“When you think from your past memories, you can only create past experiences. As all of the “knowns” in your life cause your brain to think and feel in familiar ways, thus creating knowable outcomes, you continually reaffirm your life as you know it. And since your brain is equal to your environment, then each morning, your senses plug you into the same reality and initiate the same stream of consciousness” - Dr. Joe Dispenza
Imagine if you could start each day with an open mind and heart. What could this day bring? What if you began your day with anticipation for what MIGHT happen as opposed to what you think will happen?
I always love seeing someone dressed in bright colours, dressed in a way that’s joyful, kooky and creative, not self-conscious, not worried about what someone else might think. And I bet you see people that make you smile, whether it’s through their clothes, their adventurous nature or their attitude to life. And what thoughts run through your head when you see this exciting person?
‘Oh! I could never do...’, or ‘Oh! I could never wear…’, or ‘I could never go to…’ to which I shout, “WHY NOT?!” And don’t get me started on the ‘I’m not… clever enough, talented enough, tall enough, short enough, rich enough!
It is so easy to pigeonhole ourselves with our own limiting beliefs. When we repeat the same narrative over and over again we come to believe it as true. Now, these beliefs may have developed through personal experience (it’s happened once before therefore it must be true). Maybe we have come to adopt beliefs passed down through the generations , ‘Well, Bob has always been shy’, ‘No, we don’t like xxx’. Or maybe we have changed our beliefs to fit into a social circle. There are many ways in which we come to hold an opinion/view of ourselves, but I would hasten to bet, many if not most of your beliefs are not necessarily a reflection of your true self.
Remember, WE ARE ALL ENOUGH! We have within us a universe of potential, we just need to believe it. We just need to not overthink it. We just need to jump into it! We just need to DO IT. Let’s challenge these limiting beliefs. Let’s move out of our comfort zone and try something new! Let’s dare to be different!
Here are some easy exercises to help overcome your limiting beliefs
And I would love to hear how you get on! Have a great July.
Lots of love, Zoë xx
The mind, body and soul connection! By Krishma Mehta, Holistic Health Coach & Founder of Traditionally Modern
The five elements theory
I am so pleased to bring you our June blog, written by our wonderful friend and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) enthusiast, Krishma Mehta, Holistic Health Coach, Academy of Healing Nutrition and Founder of Traditionally Modern. In this fascinating article, we are introduced to the principles of TCM and the connection we have with our bodies, the seasons and the world around us - how we can nourish our organs to help manage our emotions.
Thank you so much Krishma!
Nourish your organs manage your emotions
The five-element theory is held in high regard in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is a framework that represents the cyclical changes of nature (seasons) that correspond to the balance of energies in all living organisms.
Each season brings along its own energy and rhythms. Living in harmony with these seasonal changes allows us to live a life of physical, mental and spiritual health.
As we go through our phases of life, we also experience our own personal seasons. Just like the winter season (the water element), with an emphasis on inward development like a child in the mother’s womb, then moves to spring (the wood element) where, just like sprouting plants the child transitions to emerge in to the world with a focus on growth, we then go through the summer (the fire element) the expansive energy of social interaction, creativity and activity. The outward energy, starts to reduce as we age and go towards the autumn/Indian summer the earth and metal elements. We begin to centre and ground ourselves, we let go of self-doubt and gain greater awareness. Once again we move towards a inward phase as we proceed towards the winter- the water element, now focusing on wisdom and inner peace, the more stable life like calm waters.
The interconnected nature of our environment, mind and body is often linked to specific organs within our bodies.
Seasons and emotions
The interconnected nature of the mind and body
Each season carries its own elemental energy which is then associated with different internal organs. Depending on the season, nourishing and bringing harmony to the associated organ results in good emotional and physical health.
The interconnected and interdependent nature of emotions to organs in our body is increasingly becoming a subject of conversation in the modern world. Research in to the gut-brain connection is progressively showing a strong correlation in studies all over the world. An article by Harvard health states that ‘a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or product of anxiety, stress or depression’ (health, n.d.) This may be a new and trendy topic of conversation for modern science, however Traditional Chinese medicine has valued this intricate connection of organs and emotions for thousands of years.
The fascinating two way interconnection of emotions to organ health, where emotional imbalances have an impact on organ health and organ health impacts emotions is fundamental to assessing and addressing disease and disharmony in one’s being. Understanding this relationship and how to connect with your body and emotions using food and lifestyle can have a pivotal impact in overall health and wellness.
ANGER & FRUSTRATION (Liver)
Anger is associated with the liver organ and the wood element. If you find yourself angry, frustrated and easily irritated, this indicates an overworked or stressed-out liver condition. On the other hand, excess frustrations, rushed mindless eating in stressful conditions and consuming food and drinks that harm the liver for example alcohol, caffeine and processed sugars puts pressure on the functioning of the liver and in turn leads to symptoms of liver fire and imbalance such as dryness in the throat, bitter taste, heavy periods, nosebleeds and skin eruptions.
According to the Chinese Meridian clock, a 24-hour body clock which embodies the concept of the energy flow through the body, 1 to 3am is the time of the liver. When the body should be asleep so as to allow the liver to release toxins from the body and make new blood. If you find yourself waking up and unable to rest at this time, focus on nourishing the liver.
How to nourish the liver
Foods: According to Traditional Chinese medicine, sour, astringent foods nourish the liver. Begin the day with a glass of warm water and lemon. Include fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir and incorporate cooling foods such as mint and green leafy vegetables in your daily diet. Also avoid excessive spicy foods as these put further pressure on the liver.
Lifestyle: Try to eat your meals mindfully in a calm environment. Avoid excessive intense exercises and instead try to go for walks in nature.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are associated with the emotion of fear. Over long periods, if this is left un addressed, it may result in more chronic conditions such as a lack of will power and a deep feeling of insecurity. Common symptoms of this are panic attacks, night sweats, hot flashes, frequent/involuntary urination, premature ageing and hair loss.
According to the Chinese Meridian clock, 5 to 7pm is the time of the kidneys, the best time to have a light dinner and engage in some gentle stretching. If you find yourself particularly unsettled during this time and having negative fearful thoughts, consider engaging in activities that nourish the kidneys.
How to nourish the kidneys
Foods: According to Traditional Chinese medicine, salty* flavoured and dark coloured foods are nourishing for the kidneys. Include foods like seaweed, black sesame seeds, dark beans like kidney beans and black beans, blackberries and blueberries.
Lifestyle: Rest is essential to nourish the kidneys. Try to get enough sleep and avoid heavy distractions like watching the television and work before bed, instead focus on spending a few minutes reading or having a calming drink. Mindful activities such as journaling and meditation can be very helpful in bringing harmony to the kidneys. Stress is said to be very taxing to the kidneys and where possible avoiding situations of high stress can be beneficial to the kidneys.
*Focus here on a balanced amount of good quality salt like pure Himalayan salt or ‘naturally salty flavoured foods like seaweed’ avoid high levels of processed salts as these are derogatory to health.
HAPPINESS & JOY (Heart)
Happiness and joy are unsurprisingly associated with the heart and the fire element. When we experience joy and happiness we nourish our heart, on the other hand ‘excessive joy’ and sadness negatively impacts the heart and can result in a feeling of being stuck, lost and mentally chaotic. It is interesting to note that in Chinese medicine there is great awareness of ‘excess joy’ being connected to damaging the heart in Chinese medicine. This is caused by lifestyles whereby one engages in activities like excessive partying and social commitments and excessive ejaculation and sexual indulgence. The fire element is most active during 11am and 1pm when energy enters the heart meridian channel. This also corresponds with midday when the sun is reaching its peak which is the fire element in the cycle of day and night.
How to nourish the heart
Food: Red foods tend to be very nourishing for the heart. Including red toned foods such as tomatoes, watermelons and beetroots is very beneficial for the fire element. Having a goji berry tea with some jujube dates can very uplifting and help manage feelings of sadness. The taste profile of the fire element is bitter. Foods with a bitter taste like kale and dandelion are said to stimulate the heart and can be very beneficial to nourish the fire element.
Lifestyle: Lighting has a very positive impact on the fire element. Trying to ensure that you work and live in well light bright environments is very nourishing to the heart. In addition, lighting some candles whilst carrying out calming activities like reading, meditating or resting are said to light up the heart and bring more joy.
DEPRESSION, SADNESS & A NEGATIVE TEMPERAMENT (Lungs)
According to traditional Chinese medicine grief is related to the metal element and lungs. Prolonged periods of untreated grief are said to have a very detrimental effect on our lungs. Common symptoms of this are shortness of breath, a tight feeling in the chest, crying easily and frequently and being unsettled particularly between 3am and 5am, the time of the lungs in the organ clock. On the other hand, having well supported lungs can have a very positive impact on inspiration and ambition. The concept of having a light energised spirit is often linked to be housed in the chest.
How to nourish the lungs
Food: White or ‘white centred’ foods are said to be particularly beneficial to the metal element which is associated with lungs. Internally moistening foods like radishes, cauliflowers, garlic, leeks, onions, rice and oats help to nourish the lungs. The taste profile that is associated with this element is pungent and lightly spicy, foods such as onions and radishes can be very beneficial to the lungs.
Lifestyle: Deep inward breathing through our nose, then exhaling through our lungs via our mouth is said to be beneficial in letting go of grief. When suffering from grief, it is also recommended that seeking out support systems and among friends, family and professionals can be particularly helpful and in turn reduce the impact on the lungs.
So next time you feel overwhelmed by emotions, listen to your body and address it’s needs by nourishing your organs.
The five elements and seasons
Spring, is associated with the element of wood, a time of birth, new beginnings and growth, re-emergence of the outward expansive movement.
Summer, is associated with the element of fire, it is dynamic, expressive, social energy. A phase of peak energy
Late summer (early autumn/Indian summer) - is associated with the element of earth, after all the growth and expansive outward energy in the spring and summer, this is a time to come back to grounding, get centred and balanced.
Autumn, is associated with the element of metal, a time for continued contraction and inward energy. As the leaves fall and are drawn down deep in to the earth, it is a time to focus on intellect and release grief.
Winter, is associated with the element of water, a cold and dark season with an emphasis on rest, inward reflection, like floating calmly on steady flowing waters it is a time for deep thought, planning and preparation for the spring.
Thank you, Krishma
The best things in life are free, or so the saying goes. And when it comes to our body, we have an incredible, inbuilt way of being able to self regulate and calm our central nervous system, and it’s completely free, it’s called breathing!
When the breath is unsteady, all is unsteady; when the breath is still; all is still. Control the breath carefully. Inhalation gives strength and a controlled body; retention gives steadiness of mind and longevity; exhalation purifies body and spirit. - Goraksha Shataka, an early hatha yoga text, written in around the 10th century in the tantra tradition.
Breathing deeply, with a slow and steady inhalation and exhalation activates our parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) sometimes known as our ‘rest and digest mode’. And when our PSNS is activated, it slows our heart and breathing rates, lowers blood pressure and promotes digestion. Our body enters a state of relaxation and recovery and helps to bring our autonomic nervous system back into balance. And yet so often we find we do not take advantage of this incredible resource.
Breathwork is an integral part of meditation and yoga practice. And diaphragmatic breathing can have an extremely therapeutic effect. So what is diaphragmatic breathing and how do you do it? For this we turn to the fabulous Aimee Hartley. Aimee has devoted her career to sharing and educating children and adults on the amazing power of breath and good breathing technique.
Learning to breathe fully into the lower abdominal area is the first step to improving your breathing pattern. One technique is called Transformational BreathⓇ. Transformational Breath is an incredibly powerful breathwork and can help relieve symptoms of asthma, unearth repressed emotions and help release feelings of joy! Taken from Aimee’s brilliant book Breathe Well, here is a beginner’s practice to get you started.
Why not introduce aromatherapy into your breath-work and your day. Inhaling essential oils stimulates the olfactory system, the part of the brain connected to smell. Molecules that enter the nose or mouth pass to the lungs, and from there, to other parts of the body. In this way, essential oils can have a subtle, yet holistic effect on the whole body. Zoe Henderson has developed a range of incredible pure essential oil blends to help relieve the stresses of everyday life. Why not visit the Angel Oil website today to shop our products www.angeloil.com
Lots of love, Zoë xx
* Source: Londonpainclinic.com / Breathe Well by Aimee Hartley / Photo Credit: Eugene Zhyvchik @ unsplash
Today is Mother’s Day, which in the UK can quite often get muddled-up with Mothering Sunday, a religious holiday. Although the two are quite different, one marketing led, one founded on returning to your ‘mother’ church, they do share the same desire to return home - to reconnect with the source of our childhood, comfort, security, love, community. And this got me thinking about the role of the ‘feminine’, how we navigate the world and what we can ALL do to draw on the power of the ‘divine feminine’ or ‘sacred feminine’’ at this challenging time to find strength and balance.
So what is ‘divine feminine’? ‘Divine feminine’ we talk about here does not relate to gender - it is not available only to ‘women’, this is about energy - the feminine energy which exists in all of us. We all have masculine (doing and achieving) and feminine (nurture, healing) energy within us and they can’t exist without each other, they should complement each other, like yin and yang. Finding the balance is what we should aim for.
‘The divine feminine is a way of aligning with the vibrant love of the universe and channelling that through your body into creating, connecting, or loving — and it’s accessible to everyone, because no matter what, we all have a body… Divine feminine energy is about uplifting that which has been denigrated in our society.’ Edgar Fabian Frias, multidisciplinary artist, educator and psychotherapist.
The divine feminine has manifested itself across many cultures and traditions over millennia, from Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism and of course, Greek mythology. No matter how we choose to represent the divine feminine, the foundation of this energy remains the same, this energy is about intuition, the softer skills, which in our patriarchal led society can be seen as weak and passive. But we know better than this.
Author, Gabriela Herstick describes the Divine Feminine as a ‘creative and life-giving energy within all of us that gives form to that which we care about and put our energy into… Goddess is the moon, the earth, the sea, the desert, poetry, art, love — it represents that which is felt and not thought.’
We know the strength that comes from compassion and collaboration, from creativity, acceptance and forgiveness. We need to restore the equilibrium between the masculine and the feminine for our own happiness and for the health of our planet. Remember there is power in giving and collaboration just as there is in individual ambition and achievement. Find ways to connect, collaborate and give back with your community, friends and family. Learn to listen to your intuition, recognise how you feel with certain decisions or in different situations. Connect with your heart and find the beauty and joy in the everyday and the ordinary.
And of course, the best way to find and strengthen your sacred feminine energy is to reconnect with nature. Spiritual author Shannon Kaiser says ‘We can instantly connect with the sacred feminine energy by spending time with Mother Earth. In nature, the feminine creative energy runs wild—its physical beauty is visible. Even five minutes of fresh air or a short walk barefoot in the grass can be enough soul food to awaken your divine feminine.’
So why not take some time this Easter to reawaken your sacred feminine and see the changes it makes to the way you experience and interact with the the world.
Lots of love, Zoë xx
* Source: bustle.com / mbg.com / Photo Credit Oliver Pacas @unsplash
Intuitive healer, horse whisperer and animal communicator who works with the angels to offer healing and guidance to all beings.