Let's talk about inflammation.
Having a lot of it is a bad thing. A little of it can be a good thing.
Inflammation is part of the body's natural healing process. Without it healing would be impossible.
When inflamed, we have to assess. Is this chronic or acute? How bad is it? How do I want to deal with it?
Most of us are well-acquainted with physical inflammation. We have been injured, had headaches, broken bones. We can discern between needing ice and rest versus a hospital trip. We have to decide if the pain warrants anti-inflammatory medications and, if we choose to do that, how we will be able to continue to assess our pain, as to not cause more injury.
This is something you've dealt with, likely, many times before.
In a very similar, but less talked about way, we deal with energetic inflammation. A difficult interaction occurs, an unexpected change of plans, or a pandemic takes place... all things that could lead to a heightened nervous system and inflamed energy. This may come through for you as anxiety, anger, scattered thinking, fear, anxiousness, sadness, panic, or some other uncomfortable feeling.
A couple weeks ago, in my article Leveling Down, I talked about our experience right now of greater quiet and stillness being a time to slow down and see our life with greater clarity. An opportunity to re-situate, optimizing how all parts of our life work together.
That being said, there is another side to this story. Yes, the silver linings of this situations are beautiful and must be noted, but there is the reality at hand that must be dealt with, too.
The reality that quarantine isn't always a glorious day in the sun enjoying family time. The truth that people are having to grieve the loss of family members, businesses, ceremonies... an endless list of heartache. Not to mention the worry and fear for how this will all play out.
We hold all of this within us... the beauty and the pain. It doesn't have to be one or the other. Life is all of it at the same time.
When the stress or pain is peaking, notice how it effects your nervous system. Take inventory of how you are energetically affected, similar to the way you would assess a physical wound. How deep is it? How long has it been going on? How can you clean it? Do you need rest? Ice?
Like physical inflammation, energetic inflammation is beneficial and something we cannot live without. It points us to an area that is striving for healing. Understanding how to best assist the healing requires a willingness to move toward the pain, to really see it.
It can be easy to want to simply check out and move away from the pain as quickly as possible. But whether it be a like a small wound that simply needs a good cleansing and bandage, or like a large wound that needs careful observation and rest, the healing happens more quickly when it isn't avoided.
First, notice your energetic inflammation! It's okay to admit that you're having a sad, hard, angry, anxious, you name it kind of day. Explore it, then do what you need to make healing happen.
Here are some of my favorite energetic anti-inflammatories:
- Sitali (A cooling form of yogic breathing. Practice it with me in the mini yoga session #3). Essentially, you roll your tongue or purse your lips (some people can't fold their tongue) and breathe in, drawing the cool breath in over your tongue, then exhale through the mouth with a relaxed jaw. Count as you breathe in through the folded tongue or pursed lips, drawing the breath in as slowly as you can. Exhale for the same duration.
- An undistracted walk in nature. Take deep nourishing breaths and absorb the natural peace of nature. Research has shown that simply looking at trees, even through a hospital window, increases the speed of healing. Nature is an energetic balm.
- Look toward the light. If it is daytime, go outside and stare at the sky (not directly at the sun, of course!). Simply standing out in day light can shift energy. Even if there are clouds, the light is there and will get through. Go drink it in.
- Do something that lifts and brightens your energy, ideally something that moves your body. Perhaps loudly playing your favorite song while dancing or playing your favorite instrument. Hula hoop! Go to a park and swing. Offer your mind and body some child-like joy.
- If the inflammation feels chronic, consider wrapping adaptogenic plants into your diet, whether through food or supplement. These plants bring balance and support to the nervous system, helping it to calm and soothe itself during times of stress. My top recommended supplements for this can be found in my online dispensary recommendations for "Stress".
Chronic inflammation often shows up in the gut, too. Stress can lead to low stomach acid, digestive distress, and decreased nutrient absorption. Ideally always, but especially during times of stress, eat fresh, whole foods that are organic and sustainably grown. Stress eats up nutrients, so make your diet is as nutrient rich as possible.
Favorite go-to anti-inflammatory foods are:
- Turmeric - This beautiful orange root is often found ground into powder form, but can be used grated or cut-up like ginger in its whole form. It is a wonderful addition to smoothies and sauces. I use the powder in something daily. In order to have anti-inflammatory effects, it must be used regularly and "build-up" in the body. Look out for my new turmeric recipes posting this week!
- Omega-3s are one of the best ways to reduce inflammation with food. Eating fatty fish is the best way to go here, especially small fish like sardines that accumulate less toxins. While you can also get omega-3s from things like flax and hemp, our bodies are much less efficient at making this conversion than wild fish and pasture-fed animals.
- Berries rich in color! Loaded with anti-oxidants that help with cellular repair and many nutrient dense and anti-inflammatory bio-active compounds. Make sure they are organic! Berries are difficult to wash and have thin skins. Pesticides on them will likely go right into you, greatly diminishing the health effect you so desire.
- Mushrooms - Raw or undercooked is best to retain these nutrient-loaded power-houses! The healing effects of mushrooms are so well researched, there are entire lines of supplements made from them.
Find a mini yoga session here that will invite energetic and physical cooling.
September 17th-20th, 2020 - True Nature Retreat More info here (NOTE: Early bird registration has been extended to 5/31/20 to accommodate the uncertainty of the Covid-19 situation).
Are you yearning to immerse yourself in the peace and harmony of nature? This three-night magical retreat will connect you in a meaningful way with mother nature, drawing you more deeply into connection with your inner nature.
We are more excited than ever for this retreat as it will likely come at the perfect time for all of us to immerse in community once again. It will be a time to reflect about the unique situation we all currently find ourselves in, both inwardly and in connection with others. We know that our time in nature together will provide a beautiful space to process and heal.
Nestled in the heart of a beautiful Oregon forest, next to a babbling creek, we will gather for meditation, yoga, guided forest bathing, crystal sound bowl healing, and fireside gatherings.
You will join with nature and connect in spirit with those around you, while still enjoying space to retreat and tend to the needs of your soul. Each day we will wake and gather for morning meditation and invigorating (yet suitable for all levels) yoga. Following breakfast, we will feed our spirit with nature! Moving through the forest in a meaningful way will allow you to fully absorb the magic and access a true state of inner harmony. Lunch will be a collective effort with the guidance of Katrina, a passionate Nutritionist and food-lover. Afternoons will be open for you to nourish yourself with whatever appeals to you. Hiking, enjoying the creek's swimming hole, visiting with friends, relaxing in the hot tub, reading in a hammock... all options in this lovely setting. Late afternoon, we will gather for restorative yoga and sound bath, followed by dinner. Before heading to bed, we will circle around the fire to reflect and enjoy.