Just a few days ago (12/17/20) Fullscript released an article, a holiday blog actually, titled 21 Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holiday Season: Managing Stress, Eating Well, and More. It’s the best list I’ve come across. These health-focused platforms feel so important to me, not just because of the holidays as we enter the Winter months, but also because the world is combating COVID-19. Furthermore, Fullscript articles are medically reviewed by physicians, so I trust the information they provide. Here, I’ll tell you about my top three from their list.
It’s impossible to savor the flavors, textures and temperatures of our food if we are gulping them down, barely even chewing what we put in our mouth. Mindful eating brings the practice of mindfulness to each meal, that is, we use mealtime to slow down, to connect with our senses. By setting down the fork or spoon between eat bite, we extend this practice, thus gaining additional benefits. This simple practice supports our digestive system as well, because we swallow each bite after we have thoroughly chewed it. In addition, mindful eating can decrease overeating and the uncomfortable side effects of overeating, such as bloating.
Spend time with your (or someone else’s) pet.
Pets deliver so many great benefits for physical and mental health. Spending time with a pet can decrease depression and loneliness while bringing comfort and companionship. Improved pain management and immune function, plus lower blood pressure, are just some of the wonderful benefits of spending time with a pet. So dedicate some time to interacting with your pet or the pet of someone you know. If that is absolutely impossible, it is just fine to go to a dog park alone! While ideal, you don’t need to own a pet of your own to gain what’s noted above, but you do need to play, pet, and interact for top results.
In addition to spending time with pets, laughter also brings positive physical and mental health outcomes. For instance, laughter can regulate our mood – don’t we need that this time of year? Who knew that we would be going through a holiday season with a pandemic on the loose! When I laugh out loud, I forget about my troubles immediately. I have always loved stand-up comedy, but since comedy clubs are closed down these days I’ve shifted gears. Here, I have a short list of the comedians I plan to see on Netflix this Winter. Kevin Hart, Larry The Cable Guy, and several others have released new live stand-up performances. All I need is the remote control, a couple Keto Cups, and a hot tea…and I’m all set.
Let’s prioritize our health and the health of our loved ones this Winter (and beyond). Happy 2021 everyone! I can’t believe this looong year is almost over.
Can you believe it? Fall is just around the corner! I have to be honest with you, I worry that a Fall AND Winter season during this pandemic (with the accompanying power outages and California wildfires) will just be too much. How are you preparing? Are you even preparing?
One way I am preparing to shelter in place in the rain, snow and freezing cold (possibly without electricity) is by spending the month of September to order the books I want to read during those days and nights in isolation. Of course, I’ll be sure to have other necessities (extra candles, warm blankets, dozens of batteries for my battery operated lamps, and bottles of water). Let’s get back to what is important for a full inner life – that is, BOOKS. Wonderful, amazing books! Yes, I am a reader and a true lover of books – not ebooks, but REAL BOOKS – The kind you need paper clips, highlighters, and handmade book markers for. So here, in this article, I want to share with you my top 10 nonfiction recommendations. You’ll find the list below, in no particular order, as they are all equally important to me:
1) Morning Altars: A 7-Step Practice to Nourish Your Spirit through Nature, Art, and Ritual by Day Schildkret
For those days when the sky is clear and you feel drawn to go outside, consider creating a natural, earthy altar. By doing so, you practice the art of nonattachment, of letting go. This is important during these unprecedented times when we cannot make our usual predictions about tomorrow. Will a wildfire erupt in our neighborhood? Will a family member contract the coronavirus? Will power outages last several days? In this book, Schildkret walks us through the steps toward creating a beautiful natural piece of art. No glue needed! We use what we find in nature and when the creative process is complete, we give it back to the earth, allowing the winds and rain to take care of it. This is a lovely practice for all ages as well as for the entire family. If you find that constructing these kinds of altars are helpful in your life, for cultivating peace, beauty and nonattachment, why not make them a regular practice?
2) Yoga Nidra: The Art of Transformational Sleep by Kamini Desai, PhD
This books covers all you need to know for the deeply relaxing, transformative sleep-based meditation known as yoga nidra. This form of guided meditation is a foundational part of my life. Dr. Desai even has a yoga nidra app which includes 4 recorded meditations for a great price. I have it on my smartphone and use it weekly – once a week at the bare minimum. I have found this practice to be very nurturing and an anxiety reducer.
3) Conscious Dreaming: A Spiritual Path for Everyday Life by Robert Moss
While this book was released many years ago, it is still and always will be one of my favorites. Moss has written a dozen books on dreaming, but this is the best in my opinion. He covers just about everything related to dreaming with awareness, including working with your dream guides. This is an inspiring book and one I recommend on very bookshelf. I have a lot more to say about this wonderful book, so click on this link – it brings you to my YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43JtsnOeO50
4) Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Lucid Dreaming: A Comprehensive Guide to Promote Creativity, Overcome Sleep Disturbances & Enhance Health and Wellness by Clare R. Johnson, PhD
Lucid dreaming is a hot topic these days and there are several solid publications on the subject. Dr. Johnson’s book is the most comprehensive I have ever come across. As a psychologist with expertise in dreaming, I can say with certainty that this amazing guide will take beginning lucid dreamers to advanced lucid dreamers on a fun and intriguing adventure! Daylight hours are shortening with the approaching Fall season and these unprecedented times have allowed many people to sleep (and dream) more that before. I claim that this is the right time to train yourself to lucid dream, and this is the book to show you how. You won’t be disappointed!
5) Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening by Joseph Goldstein
The world is shifting all around us on so many levels. It’s time to wake up. We can no longer sleepwalk – it’s hurting the planet and hurting the children. While stuck indoors this fall and winter due to rain, snow, and the pandemic, why not dedicate 10-30 minutes a day learning to meditate? This can be done with a spouse, friend, or your bored teenagers. While there are much simpler books that teach mindfulness, this book is a classic. It is detailed and rooted in Buddhist teachings so that the reader comes away with an education in the history and philosophy of the origins.
6) Dreams That Can Save Your Life: Early Warning Signs of Cancer and Other Diseases by Larry Burk, MD, CEHP and Kathleen O’Keefe Kanavos
Here, a three time breast cancer survivor and a radiologist team up to deliver a book like never before. Since people are reporting higher dream recall this year, it is wise to track our dreams in search of what they may be telling us. Our bodies know things before our conscious, intellectual mind does – these messages can come through in the dream. Read this book and you’ll see for yourself. My video comments on this book can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXETJELQUgw&t=82s
7) Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep by Andrew Holecek
I can’t say enough about this amazing book. While Holecek teaches us that lucid dreaming can promote self-improvement, he takes a deep dive into how waking up in our dreams can lead to self-transcendence – a spiritual dream practice known as dream yoga. Eastern and Western lucid dream induction techniques are covered here so the reader walks away with plenty of opportunities to immediately delve into this life-changing art journey. This book is a gem, requiring a highlighter in my opinion – That speaks to the level of profound insights captured within these pages. Here’s where I say a little more about Holececk’s work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jW9ymibgmUo
8) Dreams of Light: The Profound Daytime Practice of Lucid Dreaming by Andrew Holecek
A few years after Dream Yoga was released, Holecek delivers Dreams of Light: a perfect pairing for those on a conscious path to awakening to the true nature of reality. This book, like Holocek’s Dream Yoga, is also rooted in the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. A main difference is that this book focuses on the daytime practices more so than the nocturnal practices. Dream Yoga and Dreams of Light marry well together. By absorbing the information contained within these pages and actually doing the practices in a serious way, life as we know it changes in ways beyond what we imagine.
9) Radical Hope: 10 Healing Factors from Exceptional Survivors of Cancer and Other Diseases by Kelly A. Turner, PhD with Tracy White.
Dr. Turner’s previous book, Radical Remission, was fabulous and this new book on healing is just as wonderful. As the subtitle reflects, there are 10 things we can do to support our health and healing. This is one of those books that you gift to family members – it’s that necessary. I’d like to tell you about a favorite chapter, but truth is, I found all 10 chapters to be equally valuable. This books flows beautifully and I’d bet that you could read it cover to cover in under two weeks. Find my earlier blog on miraculous remissions here: https://consciouschimera.com/2020/06/15/in-remission-radical-style/
10) Italian Folk Magic by Mary-Grace Fahrun
You don’t have to have Italian ancestry to enjoy this book. The beauty of this book is that it serves as a reminder to all people and all groups that there are stories, rituals and beliefs that are carried deep within us to connect us to our past. Now if you have ‘lost’ Italian roots, allow this fun read to reacquaint you with your history. After reading Italian Folk Magic, I was inspired to continue asking questions about my family history and request the retelling of old stories. I gather that this book truly comes from the heart.
So that’s my top 10 – obviously, I recommend them all. Clearly my prized book collection features many publications on ‘the inner work.’ That’s what I love and that’s what Conscious Chimera is all about. What would you add to this list of Fall/Winter nonfiction recommendations for 2020? Let me know. I’m always looking for a good read!