Miscellaneous

For the Love of Mind and Body

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I remember playing “spa” with my cousins as a 9 year old. I seemed to know meditation before I knew about meditation; at that age, I bought incense and would inundate my bedroom with its allure — not knowing its healing powers at the time, nor that of a great pedicure. The passion for self-care has remained with me into adulthood. I deeply care about my health — both mental and physical, in the same way that I care for the health and lifestyle of my pooch, Bella.

 

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She represents my love for nature at large, and the opportunities it affords me in this life — in all of its forms, the curative, the spiritual, the healing.

I write this post as an emblem of the many ways in which nature can heal — mind and body.

Don’t get my wrong, I’m not a perfectly healthy guru, but these are just some things I try to be a bit better to myself. Hope it helps!

I. FOR MY BODY:  

 It’s Beauty and the Feast — I learned that if you couldn’t eat it without getting sick then you shouldn’t put it on your body. Your skin is your largest organ after all, so it makes sense. Here are a few things I use:

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This German face scrub — I get it on Amazon — it smells great and feels great on the skin; I use it once a week, and it instantly makes my skin super duper soft.

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Body scrub —  I make my own, using this recipe that I found online. I substitute grape seed oil for olive oil and find that white sugar works best with this:

Lavender and Vanilla Body Scrub

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 jar

Ingredients

2 cups sugar

1 cup grape seed oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons dried lavender, optional

12 drops lavender essential oil

Instructions

In a medium sized bowl, mix together all ingredients.

Store in a jar and use in the shower or tub daily, stirring before use.

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I first encountered these rock deodorants in France where they have been used for centuries. Deodorants with aluminum, which is contained within most of the common brands, are a common contributor to breast cancer, so my girl and guy friends, beware. These are natural and organic and often last me 1+ years… just don’t drop it on the floor.

Massages — I suffer from moderate scoliosis, which sometimes inhibits my sleep. Massages help, but unfortunately, massages are often quite expensive.  I try to get them at least once a month, as they truly seem to decongest my joints and release me from my muscle/spinal pain. Renewal Body Wellness in Manhattan is one of the most affordable and effective places I have found in the area.

Salsa — dancing is the one thing that takes my mind off of everything. When I dance, nothing else matters. In fact, because it is so all-encompassing of my body and mind, there’s no room for thought, only feeling. This is my primary form of exercise, and I even hesitate to call it that because it doesn’t feel like any work at all.

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Face Masks —  I’m a fan of face masks! They’re not only great for the skin, but they soothe me, as they smell great: aromatherapy is an added perk!  I love them using them when I know I won’t be going out for a while, as I tend to leave them on long-after the suggested 15 minutes (not advised), but the ones like this oat & rose water from Lush seems to not dry out your skin, even after prolonged usage. I like these Astara ones as well, which I get at the C.O. Bigelow in Manhattan.

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Argan oil — argan oil came into my life about 5 years ago, shortly after which I happened to be in Morocco and purchased about 2 liters of it, which lasted me over a year. I use it for everything: to moisturize my body, my face (it doesn’t clog pores, and actually improves the overall quality of your skin), as a leave-in conditioner for my hair — literally for everything-moisture.

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I had the bottle of Josie Moran Argan Oil with me at the time when I was in Morocco, and the vendors – experts in the field – agreed that the quality of this one was great.

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Burt’s Bees face wipes — great for travel and for the lazy “I-don’t-feel-like-taking-off-my-makeup-days” ; these smell great, don’t clog your pores, and leave your skin incredibly moisturized

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Homeopathic Meds — after being on a number of prescription meds over the years, I decided to counter the effects and wean off of them by substituting them with homeopathic remedies, which have not only caused my ailments to subside, but have also attacked the issues at the root, improving my overall health. I would advise to go to a homeopathic doctor, while simultaneously following a normal regimen with a regular M.D. — I see this as a complement rather than a complete substitute.

Vega One – I love this protein powder, especially the French Vanilla one, as it’s all veggie based — it fills me up and provides me with most of the nutrients and protein I need for the day.. so just in case I slip up and don’t nourish myself properly, at least my day started off with enough sustenance. I usually add one portion of the protein, 1.5 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 ripe banana, and ice to my smoothie.

II. FOR MY MIND: 

My 2016 New Year Resolution is to meditate every day. I was using the Headspace app for a while, until they wanted me to pay for it, at which point I found another crowdsourced mediation app, Insight Timer, which has an incredible array of options in many languages, too. The only drawback is that you need Wifi in order to use it.

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Lavender — room spray, candles, etc. — I love lavender, and use it on everything from my own room spray (just add water to a bit of essential oil in a spray bottle), candles, and my body scrub; a bit under the nose also helps to calm me down if I can’t get myself to sleep.

Journaling – I’ve kept a journal for much of my life, and I intend to do so until I can’t write anymore. Aside from dancing, this is the one time I feel truly connected to myself and my emotions. It’s a way to reflect, renew, and recycle thoughts. Here’s one method that I’ve been sticking to for the past few months, courtesy of Tim Ferris:

5 minute journal: 

 

MORNING:

3 things I’m grateful or:

3 things that would make today great:

2 daily affirmations – I am: 

EVENING:

2 ways I could’ve made it better: 

3 amazing things that happened today: 

I completed the Duolingo for Italian and now use the Memrise app — I find that they’re better than memory games for me, and help me start the day on a positive and instructive note, if only for 5 minutes; my next linguistic goals are Arabic, Dutch, or German.

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Origins Peace of Mind Mind —  this is great to help me focus, and often is enough to help me get rid of my migraines; all it takes is an application to the temples and a bit under the nose. No aspirin or ibuprofen needed.

For the past two years, I’ve become obsessed with lighting a candle every day; in order to combat how expensive this daily habit can become, I bought a candle-making kit, but time and effort is lacking at the moment for me to continue doing it, so I resort to going to a store like Marshall’s, which always has incredible candles on sale; my favorite are the Pecksniff’s candles from London. They have great room sprays as well.

Incense —  Incense is a less-expensive alternative to candles, and seems to transport me to a place that’s renewing. Incense goes back thousands of years, beginning in the early cultures of India and Northern Africa, which is somehow healing in its own light. It clears the room of any odors and seems to increase my focus. I have a stark preference for sandalwood at the moment.

Music —  I work with music on, shower with music on, pretty much do everything with music on — it sparks my creativity and motivates a space of focus and positivity in me.

III. FOR MY PUP: 

Because I’m a fan of all-things Burt’s Bees, when I saw these wipes on sale at Marshall’s for the pup, I had to get them! I like to think that if I ever run out of mine.. that this could be a pretty safe backup:)

I, of course, also use the Burt’s Bees shampoo on her — also often on sale at Marshall’s

Wellness Dog Food —  this is what I feed her, which she seems to like; I like the fact that it is hard food, which is very practical, as she manages when and how much she wants to eat throughout the day

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Corn starch  + milk of magnesia + hydrogen peroxide = a non-invasive 15 minute mask under the eyes, which keeps the pup’s area clean and white

Massages — my dog loves belly rubs, but additionally, when I get the chance, I take the time to massage the rest of her body; it’s de-stressing for both of us

After two mastectomies, I ordered this Life Gold treatment; I felt another tumor growing, and it has honestly subsided after just a few of these squirts of this in her water every day – this stuff is magic!

Argan Oil —  after her surgery, Bella’s skin was very dry, so I used this to moisturize the area around the incision, without noticing any allergic reaction to the product

IV. TRAVEL: 

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You may be wondering how I do this and take it all with me when I travel? Well, sometimes I have to sacrifice things like a face mask and even meditation in order to be in the moment and truly experience the place where I am. Travel seems to be all-encompassing of my mind-body goals, often opening opportunities beyond what I can achieve in the comfort of my own home i.e. learning a new language just being in that country, being meditative as I look at the clouds outside of the plane or ride an elephant; in many ways, Travel is complementary to these goals.

At the Dentist 

Under the gaze of his googly eyed glasses, I’m lost in thought.
Every January and June, I have an appointment with my dentist, but also with myself. January is the start of the new year for most humans, and June, the start of a new (different kind of) year for me. My birthday’s in June, so no matter what, whenever I’m laying down under some routine dental procedure, I’m contemplating some existential life thought: something to the effect of, what has happened since I last sat here? Often stimulated by Dr. Ravelo’s banal question of, ‘how’s it going?’
From one visit to the next, I — got braces, got them off, started college, graduated college, started a company, fell in and out of love, got a dog, lost a friend, gained a friend, lost a few pounds, gained a few pounds. I think it’ll slow down at some point, but for now, a lot happens in 6 months.
I’m not on my phone — Not even reading a book to distract myself from reality.
The brightness of the lamp reminds me of the unrelenting shining of the sun, strong enough to force my eyes shut.
And eyes shut. Hands free. I’m gone.
The only distraction from my thoughts are when he asks me to lift my fingers for the X-ray or to ‘rinse’; the rest of the time, my body is under his care, my thoughts, free to wander.
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Needless to say, I love going to the dentist, not for the process of whatever is going on in my mouth, but surely for the silky smooth feeling I get after running my tongue across these tiny bones.
Mostly though, for that feeling of freedom, that which you get when there’s no place you have to be but in the present. No distractions. Just you and the drill.
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