Tuesday, December 31, 2019
It’s been a year since my heart-attack scare and healing journey began. Happily, the changes I made to my way of eating in June led me to the easiest weight loss and mood enhancement I’ve ever experienced.
Because of some calcification in my coronary arteries, last spring my cardiologist put me on a statin. I’m not a fan of statins, but I was willing to see how it affected me. Shortly after I started my prescription, I noticed that my weight started to rise. After only six weeks, I was also affected by suicidal thoughts and lethargy.
I remember being at work with my head down on my desk, with the thought why do I even bother anymore? rising up in my consciousness. The vision of being hit by a car during my bike commute gave me solace. Holy shit. This wasn’t me!
When I emailed the doctor’s office to report my side-effects, I was ordered to immediately stop the statin and get psychiatric counseling, even though the thoughts ended shortly after I stopped taking the drug. Later, at a check-up with my general practitioner to get her recommendation, she told me to buy over-the-counter CoQ10 and fish oil. She matter-of-factly told me, “Some people just can’t tolerate statins.”
Looking to reduce inflammation even further, on June 17 I began eliminating lectins from my diet by following Dr. Steven Gundry’s The Plant Paradox diet.
Lectins are plant proteins that protect the plant from insects and, over time, may cause leaky gut in humans. I stopped eating high lectin fruits and vegetables like ripe bananas and mangoes, tomatoes, eggplants, squashes, along with conventional flours, corn, and sugars (including “healthy” sugars like honey and maple syrup).
The list of “non-compliant” foods was pretty lengthy, but I was happy enough with the variety that remained.
Our blender became my friend as I mixed up resistant starches such as green banana and cooled sweet potato with low carb foods like spinach, avocados and coconut milk. I added non-Dutched cocoa powder, spirulina, hemp seeds, nuts, and other Plant Paradox approved ingredients to make blender bowls that were tasty and gut-healing.
I started posting photos of my blender bowls under the Instagram account @Blend. Eat. Replete. I joined Facebook groups and contributed recipes that I found satisfying.
Every day, I weighed myself and recorded my stats along with the foods and fluids I drank, plus what types of activity I did each day and how many hours I slept. Although I cut out most lectin-heavy foods, I still allowed some non-compliant foods and drinks (especially when eating out).
I lost about 1.5 pounds a week without having to up my exercise game. I practiced intermittent fasting on a regular basis, working up to 24-hour fasts (12 hours of which were soft dry fasts, meaning I drank no water but would shower and brush my teeth). I committed to doing 2-minute planks and lifting dumbells on a regular basis as well.
This scale app graph shows the rise and fall of the number between my toes between September 2018 and last September as I edged toward my goal of weighing 135 lbs:
As my inflammation went down I felt lighter physically and emotionally. A few years ago, my doctor diagnosed me with an autoimmune syndrome called Reynaud’s disease. It causes a couple of my fingers to go numb and turn white when temps dip below 60 degrees.
I was thrilled to notice that my Reynaud’s symptoms have lessened greatly since June. This winter is the first in years in which I haven’t been consistently afflicted with numb fingers! Even walking around snowy Durango, Colorado last week wearing a pair of cotton gloves, no numbness!
By the end of November, I wondered, “If taking out certain fruits and veggies helped, how much better would I feel by going as lectin-free as possible?”
What would be the most extreme elimination diet?
I began reading up about eating animal-based foods and added animal-only meals here and there, with the idea of transitioning to full carnivore if I got good results. The compliant food list is pretty minimal: any food that comes from an animal such as muscle and organ meats from beef, pork, lamb, chicken. It includes fatty creams and milk, and lots of butter, lard, tallow, and ghee.
My first observation was that eating beef is highly satiating all on its own. It’s easy to prepare and meat is pretty much available anywhere I may go out to eat (I changed my Insta account to @Beef. Eat. Replete to celebrate that revelation).
My second observation was that I began shedding more weight than I had planned. The number between my toes was hovering around 132 lbs for a few weeks, and it wasn’t until I added more carnivorous meals that I saw the number dip below 130.
Today I weighed 127 which is the lowest I’ve been in my entire adult life. My autoimmune symptoms are in remission, I have loads of energy as well.
If there is a drawback, it’s the challenge of reconciling being an animal lover and follower of Buddhist non-dual philosophy with the desire to eat primarily animal products. Several years ago, I wrote an essay on why I eat meat which I plan to revise and post here next year.
Speaking of which, I sincerely hope that your New Year brings you health and comfort. May you be replete by following your true path.
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
My last post covered blending with spirit and today’s post is on blending with lectin-free foods. Over the past couple of years I’ve been focusing on my health. My doctor diagnosed me with Raynaud’s Syndrome which is an autoimmune disorder that affects my circulation.
Last December, I landed in the heart hospital ER with a possible heart attack an hour after scarfing down a slice of fruit cake. Luckily, my medical team determined that while I have moderately hardened arteries, my heart-health is still pretty good and today I’m prescription drug free.
However, these few past months were a wake-up call for me to be proactive with changing my diet.
For the last four weeks, I’ve been following Dr. Steven R. Gundry’s “Plant Paradox” program which is a lectin-free approach to improved health. Simply put, lectins are proteins that plants produce to protect themselves and when ingested, they can cause problems with the linings of peoples’ guts. “Leaky gut” may be the cause of autoimmune disorders (Lectin Free Mama features this easy infographic if you’d like more info on leaky gut).
I already knew I was sensitive to gluten (which is a lectin) and dairy (the A1 casein of cow’s milk doesn’t like me either). But nightshades, rice, legumes and sweet fruits were totally on my meal plan. Limiting those foods or cooking them in my pressure cooker have let me, over the month, lose the five pounds I gained while on a statin.
I’m sleeping better, I have more energy, no cravings and my focus is clearer. So, I plan to keep eating this way and have decided to experiment with one of my favorite breakfast meals, the blender bowl.
Since we bought a high speed blender about four years ago, I’ve become a fan of blender bowls. They’re more satisfying to eat than smoothies and I love their portability and dressing them up with fun toppings.
I’ve decided to highlight my favorite combos at least once a week here as I feel strongly that eating well is important to mediums and psychic artists. So many of us sensitives have autoimmune disorders, weight and sleep issues. Why not try eliminating lectins and see how your health might benefit?
Mint Cacao Nibs* Blender Bowl
*If you don’t have cacao nibs, try using dark chocolate shavings (at least 72% cocoa or higher for the best polyphenol content).
Makes approximately 1.5 cups
¼ Cup organic coconut milk
¼ Cup chopped organic Romaine lettuce, packed
¼ Cup frozen organic spinach
½ Crisp d’Anjou pear, peeled and seeded
2 fresh mint stalks, whole (with at least 8 leaves)
1 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Cacao nibs or dark chocolate shavings for garnish
Combine all ingredients and blend on high speed for 40 seconds or until well combined. Serve in a bowl topped with cacao nibs or dark chocolate shavings.
Other yummy additions include a scoop of hemp protein powder, ground flax or psyllium seeds. Let me know if you give it a whirl!
Monday, February 11, 2019
We engage in blending on a daily basis. Energy is non-local so there is essentially no difference in blending with a discarnate communicator and being in a focused conversation with an incarnate person.
Blending requires a dissolution of your perceived personal space, so for some people it can feel scary, as if they’ve lost control. But what you essentially are can never be diminished or tarnished, so allow yourself the experience of blending, even if you’re not intending to work mediumistically.
We can pick up energetic vibrations from someone who simply passes by, but as mediums, we want to practice zeroing in on what it is like to be that person.
When we connect with someone we’re interested in, such as our sitter if we’re doing a psychic reading, we give them all of our attention. We feel their emotions, we sense what they’re thinking, we get images that have no relation to what we were just thinking.
Once we speak to the sitter about the images, or discuss what arises in consciousness, let the emotions surrounding that information flow and go. Always be prepared for what is next, without engaging your thinking mind, be curious.
If you’re asked a follow up question by the sitter, let the question sit without thinking about what you had said earlier.
The words or images to address the question will be given to you, and typically add depth to what you had said, or clarify something for the sitter.
The art that accompanies this post is from a psychic reading where once I set my intention to work with the sitter, certain images flooded my consciousness and as the story unfolded, I felt what these images meant to her.
I didn’t ask myself what the symbols meant to me. I was viewing the information as if I were a dreamed character experienced by the sitter. “I am in her dream world, so what do these images mean?”
Practice this by describing your own dreams as if you were describing the events of your day. Increase your descriptive vocabulary by reading up on archetypes and symbols, but don’t memorize them.
As you go about your daily life, if you notice a symbol, how would you describe it? What does it mean to you? What emotion is behind the meaning?
Often the question of how to end a blend comes up. If you feel the need to do so, it may help you to visualize a ritual of cutting an energetic cord or to ground yourself physically by drinking water or going for a walk.
But ask yourself, how do you end a meeting with a friend with whom you spent some intense time in conversation? There is a gradual pulling back, and acknowledgement that the meeting was necessary or helpful. Give thanks for the session and naturally close by giving a genuine farewell.
Friday, February 1, 2019
Earlier this month on my bike commute home, I noticed a city bus pull up close behind me as I pedaled up the hill of a busy road.
As the bus passed me I was very present and aware of where it was...less than a foot away from me. The sound and vibrations of the huge vehicle were intense, even if for the ten seconds it took for the bus to climb the hill. As I steadied myself, I focused on pedaling along until I reached the intersection and stopped at the red light.
Replaying the incident in my mind, I felt shocked that this bus driver nearly ran me off the road. I took a photo of the bus with my phone and planned to email the transit authority to make a complaint.
At home, I wrote a very civil email, even though I felt anger rising as I recalled the incident. However, I never got a reply.
This past Tuesday, I was alarmed to read that a fellow bicyclist was killed by a city bus on a campus road near where I work. (Read the local news account here.)
A range of emotions surged associated with these experiences. Although at the time I was hyper-aware of the bus, it wasn’t until I began thinking about what could’ve happened that my emotions took over. I took action by reporting the incident to the campus police.
I feel more settled when I'm aware of what-is. In a non-dual worldview of time, the Now is all there is. Thought does not arise in the Now, as we resist the now with our limited, thinking minds. Such resistance equals suffering or even just unhappiness as we compare this moment with a past triumph.
Mediumship happens in the Now. As mediums, our fears or insecurities are simply thoughts about the past or projections of a future. In the Now, we are able to set aside our thinking minds. With the wider aspect we have as mediums, we access echoes of information while tuning into the shared awareness of non-local energies.
I encourage you to live in the Now whenever it’s convenient to do so, not just in a mediumship circle. The more you do so in your daily life, the more natural it is to have fresh experiences when you need to connect.
Living in the Now relieves us of the patterns of thought that have no bearing on what is actually happening.
The key word is “fresh.” As you go about your life, look upon each sensation or perception with a child-like freshness, without comparing it to memories of past events. If you drop your filters, your observations have no reference points. As the bus, this wall of red metal heaved beside me, I was clear on pedaling steadily ahead.
We’ll be discussing the Now more on Tuesday, February 5 during our first mediumship development circle of the month.
There will be four circles per month: on the first, third, and fourth Tuesday evenings. The circles will run from 7-8:30 p.m. and on the second Sunday of each month from 3-4:30 p.m.
Click here to donate via PayPal. Make sure you add a note to indicate the dates you're planning to attend.
Important: the cut-off time to donate for a same-day circle is noon. All times posted are in the US Central time zone and are posted on my website calendar.
All circles will be recorded and every subscriber to the circle will receive a link to the recording. If you donate to attend a session but are unable to make it, you will still be able to watch the recording. In the event that there are fewer than two participants, I’ll present a twenty-minute meditation.
I’d love for you to join me! Remember, you have until noon on the day of the circle to donate and receive the Zoom meeting link. I look forward to seeing you soon.
Thursday, January 3, 2019
Welcome 2019 and a very happy New Year to you!
Mediumship development circles are on hiatus this month as I focus on reconciling my spiritual path with non-dual, Advaita Vedanta traditions.
Last year I left the Spiritualist National Union and didn’t renew my five-year-long membership with SNUi. Although I love the people I met as a student and circle facilitator, and appreciate the training I received, in the end Spiritualist philosophy is dualistic and thus can’t provide clarity about the absolute.
Non-dualism, especially the direct path as taught by teachers such as Jean Klein, Francis Lucille, and (my fave) Rupert Spira, takes us in one step to the recognition that we are divine awareness without the need for principles, sitting in the power, or providing evidential spirit communication.
Not that I disavow such communication; anyone familiar with my approach knows that I don’t feel the need to prove immortality with each link we make. However, with the simple act of asking yourself, “Am I aware?” and abiding in that awareness, our search is over. We rest in happiness.
Further, in my experience, there is no difference between spirit and psychic communication. The concern about whether one is linking with a person’s spirit or a person’s aura or an animal’s aura/spirit or a guide’s spirit or a garden gnome is missing the point: all experience is the activity of divine awareness.
That said, for some people Advaita can feel too intellectual and impersonal. One can have the understanding that we are shared awareness, but an individual like myself who puts attention on her psychic faculties may be seen as ego-based or irrelevant.
This month, through reading, art, poetry, speaking, eating, drinking, listening, and playing with non-dualism, my aim is to rest in my shift of perspective, to become clear on how to practice psychic, apparent interbeing communication, and to celebrate this understanding in everyday life.
We may take different spiritual paths to the truth but the essential nature of who we are is indisputable: happiness.
Thursday, December 20, 2018
A slide from my inspired art class on shadows and light.
The winter solstice is a wonderful time to pare down and create art with just light and shadow, black and white, yin and yang.
During this short day and long night, why not be inspired and yet grounded? Find a quiet room, light a candle then draw guided by the shadows.
I like to draw with my eyes either closed or in soft focus and to keep the tip of my pen constantly in contact with the page. Slowly, I let my hand glide into shapes, and feel into the images and emotions I experience.
Below is a sample of what I mean:
After I spent about five minutes drawing very slowly, I opened my eyes and, still in a meditative state, drew an aura around the word "aura." I added other small elements to areas where I wanted more clarity.
For this exercise, all you need is a pen and a sheet of paper. Dim the lights and touch the pen onto the page, but don't draw until you feel guided to. Give yourself the freedom to make random connections, or create surreal imagery.
You may speak about what you're experiencing and record it, or simply journal about it afterward. Speak or write as if you're describing a dream—as if anything is possible.
You may be inspired to write a poem or draw a diagram or suddenly stop and not move your hand for minutes. Just give yourself time for this exercise as long as you're interested—then, when you lose interest, open your eyes and don't judge what you've drawn.
Your drawing may not be an amazing work of art, but not everything we create is for hanging on the wall.
Your drawing may be full of private symbols or simple shadowy marks and that's fine. Add to it as you like, but not with an idea to improve it. Just to feel more deeply into what you've drawn.
View it as a testament to your ability to be guided, to sit quietly for a time with no other purpose but to see what happens at the moment you put pen to paper.
Monday, October 15, 2018
I’ve been reading the classic book “I Am That” by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. It’s full of spiritual conversations and insights, such as this sentence which caught my eye:
“Everybody dies as he lives.”
I’ve read that poignant line over and over because at first, it seemed almost like a warning, especially to those who may fear death. But there is nothing to fear because there is no death.
But for those bodyminds for whom physical death feels inevitably real, if we could choose, how else would anyone prefer to end their physical life, other than by simply being in the present moment?
Nisargadatta tells the story of how his guru’s guru died. This particular guru, Bhausaheb Maharaj, announced his impending death to his followers and stopped eating. He lived his life as usual and died days later in between claps as he sang his prayers. “Just like that, between two movements, like a blown-out candle,” Nisargadatta says.
“Everybody dies as he lives,” he continues. “I am not afraid of death, because I am not afraid of life. I live a happy life and shall die a happy death. Misery is to be born, not to die. All depends how you look at it.”
Yes, it all depends on how you look at it, and if you look for it.