Sunday, March 26, 2017

Bonus Post - Coconut Pancakes

For a while now I've been seeing this advertisement for coconut pancakes.  Being the fan of coconut that I am, I had to try them.  I found one.  Bob's Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour.  Here's the recipe:

4 Eggs
3 Tbsp Oil ( I used extra virgin)
1/4 cup Milk
1/4 cup Organic Coconut Flour
1 Tbsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Baking Powder

Preheat your skillet to medium or medium-high heat
In a large bowl whisk together eggs, oil & milk until well combined
In a separate bowl sift coconut flour, sugar, salt & baking powder
Add dry to wet & thoroughly mix until all lumps are gone
Using a ladle place batter onto hot skillet.  Cook until edges are done, then flip over.

I added unsweetened shredded coconut because I just love coconut.  But they are delicious with or without the extra coconut.

Well, I just wanted to share that with you.  I hope you enjoy!!

Be Bless til next we meet.
LB

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Music



Thank you for joining me again.  I do appreciate the time you spend with me & I hope I am bringing some value to it.
This week I thought we would discuss another facet to meditation & yoga.  We’ve talked about how certain aromas bring out certain feelings.  Music, and sound [or the lack of], also bring out certain feelings.
The first question that came to your mind was probably “What kind of music are we talking about here?”  Let me put you at ease, my research shows any king of music can be meditation music.
Yes, you read it correctly, any kind of music.  See, it all depends on you & your goal in meditating.
According to Mindfulness Trainer Julianna Raye, this style of practice lends itself to your favorite music.  Mindfulness has become highly researched & very popular in the Western practices of meditation.
What we mainly focus on here is the traditional forms of meditation, where our focus is mainly on our breathing.  This would be considered more of the Eastern practice.  According to wildmind.org traditional Buddhist meditation would be silence or ambient background noise (water moving, animal sounds, etc).  Adding music is a modern thing.
My preference is to have music or sound on while I’m practicing Yoga or meditating.  I find my mind wanders a bit & the sound catches my attention, bringing me back to my breath.  It also makes for a good white noise around me.
Now, the music I prefer is instrumentals.  I like to use Pandora sometimes on my iPad.  I searched for “meditation” & it plays a very nice selection of instrumental music.  Some of the pieces will have ambient sounds like the sound of the tide coming up the beach. 
If I’m in the living room I might play the stereo.  I have a disc of guitar & flute songs like “We’ve Only Just Begun”, “Scarborough Fair” & my all time favorite, “Three Times a Lady”.  I also have some discs of nature sounds.  Rain storm, babbling brook & Carmel by the Sea.
I guess you could say I’m blending Eastern & Western practices.  I believe they do blend & do it well.  I believe there is good in all & we are tasked with looking for it & then using it on our path.  I believe God supplies all our needs, even the ones we are not aware of, & we must look at our gifts.  This is one of the reasons He calls us to pray or meditate.
So, experiment with aromas & how to diffuse them in your space.  Listen to different music to find the one or many that help you stay focused.  Seek your Center to help balance you while you are meditation, practicing your Yoga or both.
May you find your path & join me again next week.  Be Blessed.
LB

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Yoga Pt 3



Last week I spoke about my beginning experience with yoga.  Now you know where I stand in this journey.  So let us continue together.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in yoga, but not enough to really do any research on it.  After all, I couldn’t even sit up straight on the floor, how on earth would I be able to do yoga?!
Then God brought Beth into my life.  I attended on Sunday evenings, but not as regular as would be optimal.  Nor did I practice much at home.  Still, after a while, I thought I could see a difference.
I told a friend of mine about the class, told her she should join me.  Her reply was typical.  “I can’t sit on the floor.  I can’t get up off the floor.  I can’t…[fill in the blank]”.  For every excuse she laid down, my reply was the same, “Neither can I”.  She asked me why I did yoga, then.  I told her the answer was simple -  So someday I can!
My friend never did join me & now Beth has had to close her classes.  So I must use what I have learned from Beth, the Tai Chi I took before & from watching my kids at Tae Kwon Do.  And in this wonderful age of the world wide web, I can find countless  YouTube videos on the subject!
I have a fairly simple routine.  I start with what I know as The Mountain.  Move into Giving Glory, hold before hinging at the waist to reach for the floor with my hands.  To manage that I bend my knees until my knuckles are touching.
My goal from there is to lower my butt to the Frog position.  Lean forward, placing my hands in front of me, tucking my toes & moving into the Table.  Untuck toes, bring Table to Child’s Pose.  Come around to cross-legged into meditation.
Ok, so that’s not exactly the routine.  It’s more like the goal.  Most days I’m not even able to obtain Frog, let alone drop my self into it.  My knees need to be strengthened a lot more before that happens.  In the meantime, it’s been rather un-graceful.  Lol
Then I heard about Stick Yoga.  Checked out some  YouTubes & saw where they were going with it.  I make Stick People (topic for another time).  I saw how my personal Stick Person, Dreamer, could be of assistance to me. 
Dreamer

The Mountain is standing on both feet about three feet apart.  Each foot has three points to help you balance.  The heel, the pad under your big toe & the pad under your little toe should all have equal weight.  Your arms are down to your side, palms forward.  I imagine I’m being pulled up by my ears, which tends to line everything up.  Balances the head on top of the spine, stretches the spine & activates the legs.  I find the balance spot for the hips & bend the knees ever so slightly.  (You should always keep the knees slightly bent to maintain circulation throughout your body.)
I inhale slowly & deeply into the gut.  As I exhale I pull my gut in until it’s concave under my ribs.  On each inhale I feel the oxygen fill the spaces between the vertebrae.  The exhale dissipates tension & stress. 
I like to close my eyes, I feel it helps me focus better.  I look for the tense areas, I feel for the balance.  I open up to the energy flowing around me.  I feel it coursing through my legs, up the spine, out the crown of my head & also coming back from heaven, through me, returning to the earth.
I hold each pose at just that perfect place between relaxed & strained.  I take time to breathe into any tightness.  For me it’s my back muscles.  Certain ones want to cramp up on me.  In the beginning I would have to pull out of the pose to stop the cramp.  Now, most of the time, I can breath through it.  I’m learning to use the correct muscles for the job & that takes time to build them.  In the meantime they protest.
Although I have an idea of what I want to work on, I listen to my body.  Some days I can do a pose & it feels good.  The next day I’m unable to even get close to that same pose.  So I do what I can. 
Ok, that’s it for today.  Join me next week, won’t you?  Until we meet again, Be Blessed.
LB

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Yoga Pt 2



I don’t know about the rest of you, but I always thought there is just yoga.  You know, you see the instructor easily twisting around while you’re thinking that kind of flexibility only happens from birth.
Well, turns out there’s at least one other kind.  Yoga Therapy.  I’m just learning about it, so let me explain it through the words of Kat Tillinghast, Certified Yoga Therapist.
“Yoga therapy is the application of techniques and practices to help individuals facing health challenges at any level, manage their condition, reduce symptoms, restore balance, increase vitality, and improve overall health and attitude. Pain and injury can cause many other problems in the body such as digestive problems, muscle tension and even anxiety and depression.
Yoga Therapy focuses on individuals and small groups with any type of physical or emotional imbalance, including injury and trauma. A Yoga Therapy practice is specifically designed and created with compassion, to target the imbalance utilizing all of the tools of Yoga, a natural prescription. This can include poses, breathing, meditation, guided visualization, mantra, whatever practice is required for the individuals to manage their condition and get closer to a personal goal.
In addition, Yoga Therapists possess particular knowledge and understanding of common back conditions, as well as various other sports and other related injuries and health conditions and how to specifically treat them according to the student. Yoga stimulates the Autonomic Nervous System, by way of breath-centered movement and this helps to reduce chronic pain, calming the area of the brain which controls pain. The treatment may also include techniques to manage underlying psychological & physiological imbalances.
Yoga in general and Yoga Therapy is widely known for increasing overall health and an overall sense of well being.”
Now, like I said, I’m just learning about Yoga Therapy, so I haven’t gone to Kat…yet.  The other day on my FB time line I came across an incredible deal she was offering.  It was being held just 3 hours from me.  But the timing isn’t right.  It will happen though.
Anyway, I reached out to Kat & asked her to write something out for me about Yoga Therapy.  Here’s what you can look forward to when you schedule with her:
“How can yoga therapy help you? Yoga Therapy is much more than a physical yoga practice. It is specifically designed to treat many physical and psychological conditions, imbalances and disease. A yoga therapist works with an individual or small groups, applying specific movements, breathing practices and other tools designed to directly manage symptoms and causes. Because yoga therapy is designed specifically for your needs, a healing space is created without any pressure to “perform” uncomfortable postures or techniques. Yoga as medicine then, is simplified and the only tools chosen are those which can manage specific conditions. Simple practices are taught and can be given as a daily 10 minute practice that over time has helped many individuals heal and become healthier and happier.”
Check it out –
FB -Yoga Kat – West Coast Yoga and Sports Therapy
http://westcoastyogatherapy.com/
Thank you for joining me.  Until next we meet, may you be Blessed.  LB

Monday, March 6, 2017

Meditation (Originally published 2/25/17)



Hi & thank you for joining me again.  I’ve read back over my intro & I noticed the way I refer to Aromatherapy, Meditation & Yoga.  It’s a trio, each needed to help support & assist in our balance & spirit.
The last couple of weeks we discussed Aromatherapy.  You’ve decided the aromas you want to try.  Now you’re ready to move to the second leg of the triad.  Meditation.
Yoga International defines meditation this way: “Meditation is a word that has come to be used loosely and inaccurately in the modern world. That is why there is so much confusion about how to practice it. Some people use the word meditate when they mean thinking or contemplating; others use it to refer to daydreaming or fantasizing. However, meditation (dhyana) is not any of these.
Meditation is a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. It is the means for fathoming all the levels of ourselves and finally experiencing the center of consciousness within. Meditation is not a part of any religion; it is a science, which means that the process of meditation follows a particular order, has definite principles, and produces results that can be verified.”
To reach this state takes time, practice & desire, but the benefits of the journey are very rewarding.  You will experiment with different locations, different aromas & different ways of diffusion to find what works for you.  You will try different positions to find the one where you feel the energy flowing into you, through you & returning to the energy of the universe.
The aromas we have already discussed.  You want the fragrances that promote relaxation, focus & concentration.  Roman Chamomile, Lavender & Peppermint are excellent for just these purposes.
You need to think about your location.  You need somewhere that’s quiet & you’ll be left alone.  A public park would probably not be a good choice. 
In a perfect world your home would be ideal.  There you can control how strong the fragrance is & what’s in your surroundings, the sights & sounds. 
I utilize my living room.  I have a fireplace for my ambiance.  Whether my eyes are open or closed I see the flickering of the flames.  I have my diffuser putting my aroma into the air.  I bring my focus into my body, looking for the places to be addressed.  Keeping my mind open.
On nice days I can travel a bit into the desert & find a place of solitude.  I would definitely set up incense sticks or cones out there.  I would want the higher concentration out in the open.
Your location can also influence the positions you can try.  And vice versa.  When I started meditation I couldn’t sit cross-legged on the floor with a straight back.  So I started meditating lying on my back.  Not exactly something you would do out doors.
And while that was a place to start, I wasn’t content with the flow of energy.  So I started sitting up.  I pushed my bottom as close to the door as I could & then used the support to help hold my back straight.  I concentrated on strengthening those muscles & stretching out my leg muscles at the same time.  I can know sit on the floor, either straight legged or cross-legged, with a straight back.  I’m happier with the flow of energy.
The goal of Meditating is to bring you into a state of consciousness that brings rest to our minds.  A rest that is not attainable in our normal waking state.
Join me next week as we put the third leg in place, Yoga.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Yoga Pt 1



“Merriam-Webster
1.     capitalized :  a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation
2.     :  a system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being
Yoga.org
The word "yoga" comes from the Sanskrit root yuj,
which means "to join" or "to yoke".
Yoga is a practical aid, not a religion. Yoga is an ancient art based on a harmonizing system of development for the body, mind, and spirit. The continued practice of yoga will lead you to a sense of peace and well-being, and also a feeling of being at one with their environment. This is a simple definition.”
There you go, that’s what two of the experts say about it.  For me yoga is a way to meditate.  I believe you can mediate with out yoga, but I don’t believe you can do yoga without meditating.  I like to start my time with yoga working on just the basics.  I struggle standing balanced & flowing my breath, so that’s where I begin.
Let me interrupt right here & tell you straight, I AM A NOVICE.  I HAVE NO FORMAL TRAINING.  THIS IS JUST MY THOUGHTS & EXPERIENCES.
With that being said, let us continue in understanding.
Shortly after we moved into our home I was blessed with the opportunity to meet one of my neighbors.  She showed me this room in her house that she had prepared as her yoga studio.  She mentioned she would like to give classes there & I told her to sign me up.
A few years later she did just that.  I was only able to make her Sunday evening class, but I think that was the best one anyway.  Everything we did we did slowly & held.  I learned from her that while my muscles are strong, but they’re also very tight.  So moving slow & holding is what works best for me.
Another, more basic lesson I learned from her is the breath.  Before I started joining her if I lied down on my back & attempted to stretch, the one side would just cramp up & not let me relax.  Then I learned how to breathe.
Did you know you can inhale oxygen & direct it to parts of your body?  Yeah, me neither, but you can.  I’ve done it.  See, I learned that when I would get that cramp in my back to inhale & focus on the air filling the muscle.  That helps unlock it, loosen the knot.
The exhale expels the tension & I could continue.  Sometime it takes a couple of those breaths, sometimes one & still other times, none.
My point is that I like the slowness of yoga.  I like taking my time on the stretch.  I take it right to the perfect edge, right before it hurts.  I breathe into the tightness.  I check my body over for tenseness & relax it.  I check for the old way I held myself & exchange it by activating the correct muscles.  And when that perfect edge has moved, I move to it again, remembering to breathe.
When I started going to Beth I would pretty much only practice during our hour together.  This one time, though, she challenged us to do any stretch every night for ten days & see the difference.  I took her up on it & she was so totally right, it made an amazing difference.
Well, now life has changed for Beth & I no longer have a leader.  So I become my own leader & student. 
A good leader realizes she does not know everything, so she reaches out to you, her friends.  She, I, ask you for your experiences.  What are some of the ways you’ve learned yoga?  Are you under someone’s guidance or are you practicing on your own?
Thank you for joining me today.  May you be Blessed.