“Can You Believe It?”

uganda2One day last week the water in our building was shut off. I knew it was happening and I had time to fill my bathtub so I could flush my toilet and fill some bottles and pots for drinking, cooking and washing dishes.

But when I went to brush my teeth and had to go get a cup of water to use, it struck me just how much we take water for granted.

When I celebrated my birthday last December I started a campaign with charity: water to try to raise money to help people without access to clean water. My lofty goal was to raise $2000.00. Two months later, I’m halfway to that goal. I have 32 days left until the campaign ends.

You can still join my campaign!

One of the reasons I was drawn to charity: water was that 100% of the money donated goes directly to the people in need.

Many of you generously dug into your pockets to help me and I’m so grateful. One donation in particular caught my eye. It was from little seven-year-old, Maya and her sister, Sarina, whose mother had shared my campaign with them.

A few weeks after my birthday, I received an email from their mom, saying that Maya had written a letter that she wanted to share with me.

With their permission, I want to share it with all of you. Thank you, Maya, for so eloquently stating just how tragic the water situation is for so many people, especially young children. You are helping to make this world a better place!

Maya's letter:websized

Maya, Age 7 – 2nd Grade

Much love and gratitude,
Barbara

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

From Winter Boots to Flip-Flops and Back Again

Hawaii:Websized

Hiked to the top of the Pu’u Olai Cinder Cone near Makena Beach. Wales were playing below!

There’s a saying in Ayurveda – “The mind loves change but the body needs routine.” The more I try to live an Ayurvedic lifestyle, the more I know this to be true.

I just returned from a ten day trip to Maui – a lifelong dream of mine which came true thanks to my energy healing teacher who planned a retreat there for a group of her students.

As much as I’d dreamed of Hawaii and craved being in serious Nature, my body was deep into hibernation mode here in cold, wintry Jersey City. I couldn’t believe how reluctant I was to come out of my cocoon. I didn’t dare say this to more than a few people who I knew would understand – I was already hearing enough envious comments about my trip.

But, of course, I knew how wonderful it would be. Not only would I be in paradise, but I would be in the loving company of this second family of mine who were coming from all corners of the world. So I anxiously (over)packed my bags, like only a Vata-type can do and hopped onto an 11 hour flight (the longest I’ve ever been on).

Can I just take a moment to acknowledge how miraculous that last sentence is? For most of my adult life, I was TERRIFIED of flying. I would have lost five pounds just worrying about getting on the plane and have fortified myself with dramamine and anxiety medication.

Then I learned to meditate and one by one my anxieties and phobias melted away. I wanted to make note of this for those of you reading who might still be gripped by a fear of some sort.

It’s a whole lot easier enduring a long flight with a smorgasbord of free movies on the seat back in front of you (Thank you, United Airlines!).

I had an amazing trip. Birds and crashing ocean waves greeted me every morning after sleeping with the balcony door opened wide.

I stood under a waterfall and saw trees that took my breath away. I swam in the ocean and hiked to a hilltop where we watched wales breaching and playing in the water below.

TreeI was in photography heaven wherever I looked. This little pink beauty must be a tropical version of the fairy duster plant I saw in the Arizona desert.

Pink BeautyNo coat or boots or hat and gloves. The balmy, breezy weather was perfect.

Precious time was spent with my fellow students and teacher, learning more about myself and others as we all journey in this life together.

I laughed more than I have in a very long time. These friends with their incredible stories of pain and hardship know how to leave it all behind and be in the moment. Laughter really is the best medicine.

My Ayurvedic routine was knocked off course a bit – mostly from a food perspective. But I went with the flow and tried not to over think things. Nothing bad happened and I felt pretty darn good the whole time I was there. I was in Hawaii, after all!

That being said, there were a few basic principles that I followed that I think really helped me adjust to the time/weather changes. In short, I quickly found a new routine to stick to while I was there.

  • I got up relatively early rather than sleeping late, which always makes me feel groggy and a little lazy.
  • I kept up with my daily meditation which made a huge difference.
  • I was ever-vigilant as to the temperature – making sure I was dressed accordingly. Going from one climate to another can easily make us sick.
  • I made sure dinner was my smallest meal of the day and I tried to eat as early as possible.
  • I was in bed most nights by 9:00 or 10:00.

Of course, just as I’d not wanted to leave my cocoon, I didn’t want to leave Maui. I tend to dig in and feel at home somewhere and not want to move. But there was no question – I was headed back to Jersey City.

As everyone warned me, the jet lag is much worse coming back east. I marvel at people who can sleep sitting up on a plane. I didn’t sleep a wink and so I’m still recovering, but am quickly adjusting and slipping back into my cocoon as it’s freezing here!

I’m taking note of my list above.  Establishing a routine is one of the most challenging things for me but it has made such a difference in my daily life that it’s well worth the effort.

A little bit of Ayurvedic awareness (really, it’s just common sense) has helped make me a much better traveler. Each time I venture out things become a little easier and I get to check something/somewhere off of my bucket list. Gotta love the wisdom of this most ancient system which aptly means the knowledge of life.

Aloha! (I had to say that!)

Barbara

sunset:websized

Posted in Ayurveda, Travel | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Are You Ready for Kapha Season?

Kapha Season:Websized
Cold, wet and heavy are a few qualities associated with Kapha dosha and therefore, with Kapha Season (late winter – spring). Can’t you just feel it in the photo above that I took from my apartment window last February?

Ayurveda doesn’t put exact dates on the seasons because changeability is one of its principles. To truly live an Ayurvedic lifestyle you must stay in tune with Nature on a day-to-day basis.   

Here in the Northeastern US where I live, the transition from Vata Season to Kapha Season generally begins around mid-February, but all you need to do is step outside and feel the sudden change from dry (Vata) to damp (Kapha). This is a much better indicator than a set date.

In either case, Ayurveda believes that the transition between seasons is perilous in terms of our health, and we need to be particularly vigilant as our body adjusts to the changing climate. If you start to pay attention, you will notice that more people get sick (and even die) during seasonal transitions.

For those of us with a lot of Vata dosha in our constitution, this time of year comes as a welcome relief as Vata Season comes to an end. But for many of my friends and clients who are Kapha-types, they find themselves feeling lethargic, congested and oftentimes depressed.

Water is Kapha’s primary element. Earth is secondary. It’s no surprise that someone with a lot of Kapha in their constitution will often complain of feeling “stuck in the mud”, especially during this time of year.

 The more we begin to pay attention to the influence of the particular dosha which dominates the day, season, or time of life, the more successful we become at achieving balance.

In the eastern system of the chakras, Kapha is associated with the first chakra (muladhara/root–element of earth) located at the base of the spine/genital region, and the second chakra (swadhisthana/sacral–element of water) located below the navel where the reproductive organs are located.

Kapha is Mother Earth personified – sturdy, grounded, solid and reliable. And Kapha’s association with the 2nd chakra/water element accounts for the strong sexuality and sensuality which Kapha types embody.

Qualities of Kapha dosha are cool, smooth, oily, soft, slow, steady, dense, heavy. Its tastes are sweet, salty and sour so the tastes that help to balance Kapha are bitter, astringent and pungent.

Kapha is our body mass, structure and fluids, and makes up our muscles, fat and bone. It is seated mainly in the chest, but also in the throat, sinuses, nose, head, mouth, stomach, joints, cytoplasm, plasma, and especially in secretions of the body-like mucus.

The mucus of Kapha protects precious tissue in the body but as it accumulates it needs to be expelled or it will lead to disease. Roughly 10% of diseases are caused by Kapha imbalances (60% by Vata, 30% by Pitta), but stagnation and/or accumulation of mucus in the body is often the culprit.

This is the reason so many of us have colds and stomach bugs at this time of year. Eating a heavy, fat, Vata-pacifying diet throughout the fall and early winter can lead to sluggish digestion and result in mucus buildup in the stomach, especially for Kapha types.

Often when Kapha season arrives, Kapha people will find themselves needing to vomit. In fact, a treatment in Ayurveda’s panchakarma for Kapha imbalances is known as vamana–therapeutic vomiting.

Lungs and sinuses also become congested and the lymphatic system can become sluggish. Kapha season is a time for cleansing and eating more detoxifying foods. Beets, bitter greens, apples, pomegranates, millet, buckwheat, aduki beans, ghee and most spices are all good choices for eliminating excess kapha.

Tips for a Kapha-pacifying diet can be found below under Helpful Resources. Just don’t be too rigid in trying to follow it. Instead, look for foods on the list that you like, and eat lots of them. Common sense should tell you that forcing yourself to eat anything that doesn’t appeal to you will not have a positive effect.

Bear in mind that even those of us without a lot of Kapha in our constitution can benefit from an Ayurvedic cleanse in the spring and by eating seasonal foods. Mother Nature, in all of her wisdom provides exactly the right foods we need each season. Just by eating local foods grown by our farmers we will be living Ayurvedically.

Because childhood is the Kapha time of life (birth to age 18), it’s the reason children have so many upper respiratory illnesses and seem to be forever producing mucus!

When reading the lists below, keep in mind that we all have the three doshas in us but most of us are dual doshas. Therefore, some of us will relate to these traits a lot, some a bit, and some, almost none at all.

Physical traits of Kapha-types:

  • Large in stature, with sturdy bones
  • Cool, moist skin
  • Large strong teeth
  • Strong sense of taste and smell
  • Eyes are usually large, warm and almost liquid in appearance
  • Thick, shiny hair
  • Strong clear nails
  • Steady appetite
  • Deep sleeper
  • Strong stamina

Traits of a balanced Kapha-type:

  • Warm and compassionate
  • Nurturing (Gives the best hugs!)
  • Loving, loyal and kind
  • Excellent partners and parents
  • Strong, sturdy and steady
  • Grounded
  • Even-tempered
  • Hard-working
  • Patient

Traits of an out-of-balance Kapha-type:

  • Depressed
  • Attached to material world (potential for hoarding) and to others
  • Possessive and greedy
  • Lethargic (too much of the earth element
  • Weight gain
/water retention (too much of the water element)
  • 
Laziness

  • Unforgiving and stuck in the past. Kaphas have memories like elephants!

  • Passivity

  • Unable or unwilling to change
  • 
Health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure

  • Buildup of mucus (spring colds and allergies are common)

What Kapha-types need to do to stay balanced and healthy:

  • Exercise daily (especially in the early morning)
  • Get up and get moving before 6:00 a.m. (two hours before sunrise is optimal) and don’t take afternoon naps. Sleeping during Kapha times of day (6-10) result in sluggishness and a Kapha-type will lack motivation for the rest of the day. Because the water element is so strong in Kapha types, they need to keep moving or they will stagnate like an obstructed river. 
  • De-clutter to lighten their load, physically, mentally and emotionally
  • Sip hot herbal/spiced teas instead of drinking too much water. Avoid cold beverages altogether.
  • Reduce foods that are cold, heavy and oily. Stay away from sweet, sour and salty and instead add foods that are light, dry, warm, pungent, bitter and astringent.
  • Reduce mucus-producing foods such as dairy, wheat and oats.
  • Avoid heavy meats and fried foods
  • Keep warm and dry, especially during cold, damp Kapha season.
  • Follow this Kapha-pacifying daily routine: Up before 6:00 a.m. (or, ideally, up to two hours before sunrise), meditation and morning workout, light breakfast at 8:00 a.m. Healthy lunch (biggest meal of the day) 12:30-1:00 p.m. and a light supper at 5:00-6:00 p.m. Bedtime between 10-11 p.m. Kaphas don’t need as much sleep as the other doshas (they tend to sleep too much), but a regular bedtime and restorative sleep is beneficial.
  • Kaphas can fast easier than the other doshas and it will help jumpstart their sluggish metabolism. They should definitely avoid eating past 6:00 p.m., 7:00 at the latest. This will give them a mini fast each evening. The word breakfast means just that–break fast.
  • Add spices to food to spark digestion. Be careful with salt intake and avoid table salt altogether.
  • Raw honey is a good sweetener to reduce Kapha. Buy local raw honey during Kapha season as it can help with springtime allergies. Just don’t overindulge, which is also a Kapha trait.

Kapha types make excellent teachers, healers, chefs, or any profession where nurturing is involved. They are physically hard workers because of their incredible stamina. I doubt that there’s a person reading this article who doesn’t know and love a Kapha-type.

If you have a Kapha in your life and want to support them during this difficult season, encourage them to move (Vatas are good at this!), and motivate, fire them up, and help them organize and clear the clutter from their mental, emotional, and physical world (Pittas are good at this!). Share this article with them because it’s likely they won’t choose to read it on their own!

These are all perfect ways to show your love for a Kapha and they will return that love with the best warm hug you’ve ever had!

Love,
Barbara

P.S. Are you unsure of your Ayurvedic constitution? Click HERE to take a simple quiz. Need a little help getting back in balance? Sign up for a consultation via phone or Skype (or come see me in person in NYC!).

Helpful Resources:

Posted in Ayurveda, Change of Seasons, Kapha | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Silence is (Sometimes) Golden

SilenceThere was a period a couple of years ago when I all but stopped listening to music. I just wanted quiet. Silence. I walked around with my noise-canceling headphones on without any music playing. I was going through a rough patch both emotionally and physically and music just seemed more than I could bear. This went on for a very long time.

Then I started putting my headphones on and listening to music when I first woke up and before I fell asleep at night. This sometimes had a cathartic effect – I would find myself sobbing when I played certain songs. A different kind of healing – but healing, for sure.

What is it about music that reaches the very depths of our souls and tugs at our heartstrings? Why does a song from decades ago take us back to a first love, a breakup, or even farther back to a song that used to play on our parents’ old phonograph?

I can’t imagine how intense this must be for a musician. Especially one who has written the music and performs it for years on end. I recently heard a musician comment about how singing a song can reopen old wounds over and over again. Perhaps though, with each performance, a little more of the buried emotion gets released.

I wrote about how we all have varying sensitivities to the five senses, depending on our innate constitution. Hearing is definitely one of mine. Going without listening to music for such an extended period of time seemed like a matter of survival, a healing of sorts. It was just too much for me, from a sensory perspective as well as an emotional one.

Of course, usually it works the other way – listening to music is one of the best ways to heal.

Sound is an integral part of the yogic/Ayurvedic tradition. We are vibratory beings as is everything else in nature. Om is believed to be the first sound of the Universe and all you have to do is be present in a group when it’s chanted to feel its power.

Mantras are chosen for their high vibration. As we chant them, they help to raise our own vibration.

Years ago in a class learning how to tone when doing energy healing work, I felt such a strong connection with my fellow student who was laying on the table, that I was taken aback. I was toning her heart chakra and felt as though the sound coming out of me (more powerful than I would have thought possible) was permeating her heart.

This was a mere two weeks after my partner, Ralph, had died, and my own heart was fragile. But that sound roaring out of me healed something in myself, though it was directed at my friend.

I’ve come to realize that I prefer music with lyrics to plain old jazz or classical music. Must be my love of words, I guess. That being said, I’m hopeless at knowing the words to most songs!

Having reached a happy medium now, I am aware of how silence can (sometimes) be golden but music can feed your soul. I try to find time in my day for both.

I don’t really have any scientific explanation for any of this. I’m sure it’s out there but I kind of prefer the mystery of it. I’m just musing about something that’s been on my mind and I would love for you to weigh in with your own thoughts.

I always marveled at my daughter’s ability to study while listening to music. It unsettled me just to watch her. I’m sitting in a cafe right now, trying to write this, and although I have on my noise-canceling headphones, the music they’re playing is making it difficult.

Time to head back home to my cave where I can get a dose of silence.

Much love,
Barbara

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

What Does Ayurveda Have to Do with Pizza?

Two Boots:WebI was watching a segment on CBS This Morning where the subject of childhood obesity and pizza was being discussed.

Because of pizza’s prevalence in the American diet, especially with kids, a recent study was published in the journal Pediatrics which compared caloric intake, fat and sodium, when the pizza was consumed, the age of the child, etc.

Dr. Tara Narula speculated on CBS This Morning that it was perhaps the type of unhealthy pizza that kids were eating that contributed to their weight gain (processed grains, stuffed crust, extra cheese, etc.) No doubt there is truth in this.

And then Charlie Rose commented “There was also a recent study that suggested when you eat is as important as what you eat.” Bingo! Here’s where Ayurveda comes in (I’ll get to that in a moment.)

Dr. Narula responded with another study that was done with mice (always the poor mice) that showed a variance in weight gain depending on the time frame in which they were allowed to eat. Some mice could eat whenever they wanted (they gained the most) and others were restricted to a specific time frame.

She could only speculate, however, at the reason why this happened. “We think it may have something to do with genes being turned on during the time when you’re not eating.” Huh???

I wanted to call them up and say “Ayurveda has the answer!”

We’ve all heard the old adage “Eat breakfast like a queen, lunch (called dinner in many cultures) like a king, and supper (we say dinner!) like a pauper.” This is ancient and important wisdom.

In the morning when we wake up, our digestive fire is still weak – hence, eat breakfast like a queen (not too much, but enough to get you through until lunch). We “break-fast because we haven’t eaten anything all night, but not with a lot of food, which will overload the body.

10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. is the Pitta (fire) time of day. It is when our digestive fire is strongest and therefore we stand the best chance of digesting and metabolizing our meal. Lunch/dinner like a king! Noon – 1:00 p.m. is optimal.

Eating supper like a pauper means a light evening meal (preferably between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Just enough to get us through until morning. A large supper will overtax the body, forcing it to digest a heavy meal and hinder its ability to heal, rejuvenate and burn excess fat.

The moral of this story is that pizza (or any other unhealthy food vice) eaten at a noon meal will stand a much better chance of being properly digested than one that’s eaten in the evening. Keep this in mind and your body will thank you.

I know all about pizza. I love it! Years ago on my way to work I would stop at Raimo’s Pizza down the block from my NYC apartment. I’m guessing this happened four or five times a week (I’m not kidding). I would get the first slice out of their brick oven at 10:00 a.m. when they opened. I was devastated when their landlord raised their rent and they had to close. The space stood empty for years, taunting me. I felt like my dealer had left town.

Pizza:WebDo I eat pizza four or five times a week now? Hell, no! But because I needed a picture of some pizza for this article, I went to get a slice for my lunch, which I ate at noon. :) With a healthy salad. :) Jersey City is a dangerous place for pizza-lovers. There’s pie on nearly every corner. Yum.

Much love,
Barbara

 

 

 

Posted in Ayurveda, Pitta | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Ayurvedic Tip of the Week: Be Mindful as the Season Shifts

Trees:WebThere are three seasons, according to Ayurveda, which revolve around the different harvests. They are:

  • Vata – fall/early winter
  • Pitta – late spring/summer
  • Kapha – late winter/early spring)

Here in the Northeast where I live, and in many other parts of the world, we are transitioning from Vata Season to Kapha Season.

Vata and Kapha have very different qualities. Vata is light, dry, mobile, cold while Kapha is heavy, wet, cold, stable. You can see that they only share the cold quality.

If we think about this and how we are comprised of the five elements (air, ether, fire, water, earth) we can only imagine how hard our organism must work to stay balanced when the seasons shift.

I often speak about how tenuous our health is during this transition. The more I learn about Ayurveda and consciously apply it in my daily life the more I experience how true this really is.

So, wherever you are in the world (my friends in the Southern Hemisphere are getting ready to transition from Pitta Season to Vata Season), this is a time to take special care to nurture yourself – in body and mind.

Pay attention to how your own body reacts to temperature, moisture, etc. and take care to dress accordingly and eat the proper seasonal foods for your constitution.

Pay attention to how your mind reacts to this shift, as well. People with more of the water/earth elements in their constitution might be feeling waves of depression or lethargy as Kapha season approaches. Keep the mind clear with meditation and other practices like pranayama, yoga, and qigong.

On the other hand, those of us with a lot of air/ether in our constitution may start to feel more centered and less anxious as we begin to leave Vata season behind.

Stay tuned for a complete article on Kapha Season in my February Newsletter. You can sign up here if you’re not already on the list. You’ll get some easy, free Ayurveda tips if you do!

And if you think a private consultation could help you with the transition, you can contact me here.

Much love,
Barbara

 

Posted in Ayurveda, Ayurvedic Tip of the Week, Change of Seasons, Kapha, Vata | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

What I Learned Last Year

White treesI cringed a little starting this newsletter because one thing I’ve been doing over the past few days is clearing out my own inbox, ruthlessly unsubscribing and attempting to back away from the computer. So, the thought of my email landing in your likely-crowded inbox gave me pause.

But I decided to go ahead with it because it actually relates to one of the lessons I learned this year. Here are a few of them – maybe you will relate and have an ah-ha moment – or maybe they will inspire you to reflect on your own. Or maybe you’ll hit “Delete” before even reading. That’s okay, too. :)

Don’t assume to know what others want or need.

I fret so much thinking that I’m bothering people by writing and generally blabbing with enthusiasm about all that I’ve learned. I didn’t set out to be a teacher but all of a sudden I’ve found myself in that role. I seem to have an insatiable appetite for learning about holistic health and it would be just stupid and selfish not to share.

Last year I realized that those who need and/or want the information will benefit from it and perhaps something I write about might initiate a positive change. There are also many people with a totally different mindset and I never forget that I was there myself not too long ago.

There’s a spectrum for all things.

This past year I began to realize that it’s okay to fluctuate from one end to the other, as long as I don’t stay stuck at either end too long. This relates especially to my introversion as I struggle with being out in the public eye more and more. I learned that I can open up and be fully out in the World, or I can retreat to calm and restore myself in my World.

I practiced this a lot – especially during the holidays – staying centered and inward as much as possible. Peace and calm was my reward. No doubt my continued devotion to a meditation practice allowed this to happen.

Ayurveda really is the knowledge of life!

Most Ayurvedic practitioners will tell you that you need to go through all of the Ayurvedic seasons (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) for one year with awareness to truly understand what Ayurveda is all about.

Although I’ve sort of been doing this for several years, last year I did it in a more conscious way and was amazed at what a difference it made in my mind, body and spirit. Yes, I fell off the wagon many times but the awareness and desire to feel good got me right back on.

You’re never too old to flourish, change, become inspired, get healthy, let go of the past.

There’s not much to say about this other than it’s 100% true and I experienced it in a major way last year. 

Find your tribe.

Be they family, friends, or both, finding a tribe of like-minded individuals can be a lifeline. Outside of my family, I have little tribes of precious friends and I am a member of a huge global tribe of energy healers who radiate light and love from afar. My tribe(s) helped me navigate some rough waters this past year.

As solitary as I sometimes like to be, I am grateful for the support. Pick your tribe carefully. You will know if it’s right for you.

Listen to the messages!

Most of the time I don’t have a clue who’s guiding me, sending me messages. But this past year I learned, without an iota of doubt, that we are indeed guided by forces most of us can’t see. I learned that by meditating daily and staying open to receiving, messages and synchronicities come with greater frequency, clarity and urgency. LOL, it’s how I ended up in Jersey City! :)

JOY can be found in the dark, and the pain, as well as in the happiest of times.

I wanted to end with this one because I so deeply believe in its truth. There were many months last year when I felt like I could have just folded myself up. But at the same time there was a peaceful knowing that there was a reason for what was happening and if I just had faith and went with the flow, I would come out feeling lighter than before.

I felt at times like I was hovering above myself, observing the physical me who was hurting, but being able to detach from it. I think I have all of the major traumas from my life to thank for that. For some reason I have, for the most part, chosen hope over bitterness and despair.

We all have our stories and mine isn’t any more special than yours. And while we don’t grow from staying stuck and wallowing in them, it’s good to know our story, learn from it, and move forward.

I don’t have any lofty goals or resolutions this year. Maybe I’ll miraculously become better with deadlines and keeping a regular schedule. Or maybe I’ll embrace the free spirit in me and have a creative breakthrough. I plan to let 2015 unfold mysteriously and without an agenda. How about you?

It’s truly been a blessing for me to share with you this past year. Your encouragement and support means the world to me and it gives me a greater purpose outside of myself. Thank you for that.

Happy New Year!

With love,
Barbara

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

My Birthday Wish for Clean Water

Barbara ChristmasThis is my quintessential birthday/Christmas photo from a very long time ago. I still shudder at the red dress and the wild upholstered chair and say “What was my mother thinking?” It was the fifties…

My plan for today’s post was just to drop in and say hello on my birthday, and let you know that I’ll be taking a break until the first of the year. But yesterday I opened an email from Marie Forleo and this video tugged at my heart – “How Water Changes Everything“.

I was so inspired by Scott Harrison’s story of going from Manhattan club promoter to leading a more heart-centered life and birthing the organization charity: water that I couldn’t turn away.

I learned that almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean drinking water. Every day, 1,400 kids die from water-related illnesses before they reach their fifth birthday. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are simple solutions like drilled wells, spring protections and BioSand filters that help provide clean water to communities around the world.

In my sixth decade of life I’ve never been without clean drinking water and I’m guessing that most of you haven’t either. Just think about how lucky we are!

We all have our favorite charities and causes and I don’t like to pester people about my own. But when I watched the video and saw that people were using their birthdays to help raise funds, well, I thought I would give it a go in hopes that it will resonate with many of you.

What impressed me so much about charity: water is that 100% of the money we donate goes directly to fund the water projects! You can even view photos and GPS coordinates that show how your money is being spent.

So, if you are so inclined, here is my birthday campaign to raise money for clean water. You can give $61.00 in honor of my 61 years :) or you can give $1.00. I know we are all weary of spending money right now. But I can’t think of a better birthday gift than to truly make a difference in the lives of people who are without the basic human right for clean water.

Thank you for letting me share this campaign with you.

And thank you from the bottom of my heart for inspiring me to write this year – by sharing my thoughts, feelings and what I have learned about holistic health with you. It is my greatest joy to pass on my love of Ayurveda, which has so profoundly changed my life.

I am signing off until the new year to give myself time to be quiet, reflect, and re-energize so that I can return with a rested spirit along with new ideas to bring to fruition.

Wishing you all a peaceful holiday season!

With love and gratitude,
Barbara

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 9 Comments

Ayurvedic Tip of the Week: Use Your Senses to Stay Balanced

Vata qualities:websizedEach dosha is connected to one of more of the five senses:

Vata (air/space elements) = hearing and touch
Pitta (fire/water) = sight
Kapha (water/earth) = taste and smell

We obviously use all five senses, no matter what our constitution is, but a particular sense (or senses) will be stronger depending on which doshas are more prevalent.

Vata-types are very auditory and sensitive to loud noises. Music can be very soothing, or very unnerving, depending on the type of music. And no one loves a massage better (and perhaps benefits more from one) than someone with a lot of Vata in their constitution. They generally love to touch and be touched.

Pitta-types have very sensitive eyes and are also very visual – especially where beauty is concerned. Poor vision and irritated or bloodshot eyes often plague people with high Pitta and they need to strongly nurture and protect them. Moonlight is very soothing for Pitta eyes.

And as for Kapha-types with their strong sense of taste and smell, well, how many Kapha chefs are there out there? A lot! My partner Ralph was a chef and was pure Kapha. I could never understand why someone who was a chef could have such extreme reactions to certain smells and tastes. Now I know why! And it makes perfect sense. Perhaps you have a child with a lot of Kapha in their constitution – it might explain why they react so strongly to some foods. Of course, childhood is the Kapha time of life, so many children have this propensity.

Which senses are strongest in you? Paying attention to our own particular sensory makeup and honoring what’s best for us, can be a great tool to help us stay balanced in our daily lives.

Much love,
Barbara

 

Posted in Ayurveda, Kapha, Pitta, Vata | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

How the Doshas Play a Role During the Holidays

ChristmasTable:WebIt’s that time of year again and I am trying to keep the panic at bay. The holidays seem to be all about staying organized, time management, scheduling, and upsetting your regular routine. Finally, I understand why these holiday months have always derailed me - they went and put the holidays smack dab in the middle of Vata Season!

All of those qualities that help to make this time enjoyable and minimally stressful are, unfortunately, not characteristics of Vata dosha. Vata-types often tend to be disorganized, creative, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants types, and extremely prone to depletion.

The picture above was taken years ago of an Anthropologie store window at the holidays. While wildly inventive, it reminds me of the chaos that a Vata-type often feels inside.

Of course, there are exceptions, and most of us have constitutions that are dual-doshic or tri-doshic. But for someone with a lot of Vata in their constitution, this time of year can seem impossible to endure.

So, how do Pitta-types handle the holidays? Well, they are generally the most organized of the doshas. I was lucky enough to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner by a predominantly Pitta-type. He ruled the kitchen and whipped out the meal seemingly with ease. And he still had a smile on his face when he was finished. Cleanup was a snap – he had containers filled for everyone to take home – and turkey soup was already simmering on the stove. I was in awe and oh-so-grateful that I wasn’t the one in the kitchen!

Although Pitta-types can be overworked and overstressed (many Type A’s are Pitta) they at least have the skills to get through. They might have their shopping done months ago, cookies are baked and in the freezer and the tree is bought and decorated. They attack their to-do list with a vengeance.

And what about the beloved Kapha-type? Well, they might not be as motivated as the Pitta-type or disorganized as the Vata-type, but what is important to them the most is family. So the holidays can either elate them or depress them, depending on the state of affairs in their family. A Kapha-type can easily slip into depression if they find themselves alone at the holidays.

I wanted to write this article as much for myself and my loved ones as for all of you and yours. If we can understand each other better based on our constitutions, the holidays just might be a little less stressful and more enjoyable for all.

I admit that I feel a certain tenderness for my fellow Vatas during the holiday months. Being creative types we find ourselves in a dilemma – we love the twinkling lights, the music, the sights and smells of the holidays – but we often lack the energy or skills to navigate them successfully.

cactus3:webThanks to Ayurveda, once I recognized these differences for what they are (our constitutions never change) I was able to let go of unrealistic expectations I had put on myself. I now do just a fraction of what I used to. I will light up my beloved cactus again and adorn her with my mother’s precious ornaments and the handmade ones from my children when they were little. She traveled to Jersey City with me (the cactus) and seems to like her new home, as do I.

I will even go to a holiday party this weekend in my building. My new neighbors seem to be kindly and relentlessly nudging me out of my cocoon. I’ll travel uptown to see the Rockefeller Christmas tree and take pictures of the holiday windows.

And my Kapha-Pitta daughter, Amy, is coming to spend Christmas with me. She has thankfully considered these Ayurvedic principles and doesn’t think her mom is nuts (well, maybe just a little). Spoken like a true Kapha, she said “family is everything”. Her Pitta will keep me focused and on task and together we will have a tri-doshic holiday.

Please nurture the Vata-types in your life a little extra during the holidays. Cook for them, hug them, lighten their load, keep them warm and be understanding of their limitations during this challenging time.

If you have a Kapha-type in your life, make an extra effort to spend family time with them and be vigilant for signs of depression.

And Pitta-types, this quote is for you (Vatas too!). It came in my inbox yesterday from my dear friend and fellow wellness warrior (her term), Jen Bolus:

“The number one reason I hear each day that is causing too many of us stress is feeling like we have too much to do. In some cases, some of these things are necessary. In many cases, we take things on or convince ourselves the task is a must, when in truth no one will die if we don’t do it nor will you be liked any less. AND, as you let go of having to do it all, you create space for others to take on these tasks. Just remember, they may not do it exactly like you; that’s another topic for another day.”

Wishing you all a calm, stress-free and happy holiday season!

Much love,
Barbara

 

 

 

Posted in Ayurveda, Kapha, Pitta, Self-Care, Stress | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments