The Ayurvedic Practice of Abhyanga

Are you sick and tired of trying to find the right lotion for your body type? Did you try the lotion that your best friend loves only to find that it sits on top of your skin like an oil slick? Or when you read the label you find out that it contains chemicals like petroleum or alcohol?

No one wants to absorb bad stuff into their body. In fact, we want to use healthy products on our skin! Just like the food we eat is the building blocks of health for our bodies, what we put on our skin also affects our health and wellbeing!

So my new rule is this: “If I wouldn’t eat it – then it doesn’t go on my skin.” And here are the steps I took to make the change.

#1.  Check ALL the beauty products in your home for the ingredients below. Check your deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo and conditioner, shaving cream, body lotion, face lotion, makeup (yes, even that) sunscreen….ANYTHING that you use on your body!

Artificial Color
Diethanolamine (DEA)
Formaldahyde donors
Parabens
Phthalates
Propylene Glycol
Sodium Laureth Sulfates
Sodium Laurel Sulfates
Toluene
Tri Ethanolamine

These chemicals are all known to cause cancer in mammals. If you find these chemicals in your products I suggest you THROW THE PRODUCT OUT. Believe me, I know this isn’t easy. I almost cried when I found out my favorite lotion was full of bad stuff. But we are trying to lower our exposure to harmful chemicals.

If you want to double-check me – go to google and type in the name of the chemical like this: “toluene and cancer” and look for scholarly publications with articles on the subject.

#2 Go to any search engine and type: Dosha Quiz. They are all pretty similar so just pick one. The main thing we want to know is your primary Dosha which will be either Vata, Pitta or Kapha. There are varying combinations but you will find that you are dominant in one aspect.

#3   Visit this website: https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/lifestyle/self-oil-massage/  Then find your dosha and see which kind of oil they recommend for you. For example I’m Pitta and they recommend Coconut and Sunflower Oil.  Both oils that I would cook with!

Once you find out which oil is right for your dosha feel free to add any essential oil that you prefer. The Chopra Center recommends Sandalwood, Mint, Jasmine and Lavender to balance my pitta dosha. Mix your essential oil in with your carrier oil until it smells just the way you want! (roughly 12 drops per fluid ounce of carrier oil) And now you have a Massage Oil or Body Oil made just for YOU!

#4 Start using this mixture, your Abhyanga oil as a daily ritual to nourish and moisturize your skin! This is normally a pre-shower process which even includes the scalp and hair.  If you’re up for it, the Banyan Botanical site above will give you all the tips on how to do a proper Abhyanga. It is a relaxing process that will benefit every part of your skin, hair and nails.

If you don’t have enough time to do a full Abhyanga join me in using your oil as a daily after shower moisturizer. This is especially great if you shower or bath in the evening because you are not in a hurry and the oil can soak into your skin all night! I’m currently using coconut as a carrier oil with a little bit of Lavender Essential Oil from doTerra and some home-made Vanilla Bean Oil. I rub the oil all over my body. (avoiding my scalp, hair and face) I do this slowly and methodically rubbing the oil in until it is absorbed – usually about 15 minutes and it leaves my skin with a healthy glow all day long!

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PLEASE NOTE: If you’re going to add essential oils to your carrier oil be sure to do some research on the EO that you choose. Some oils can be hot on the skin and can even cause burns if undiluted. Some Citrus oils are not ok to use when going out in the sun or tanning! So be careful and do your research please. I want you to love this and have a great experience!

Happy Oiling! Dawn

Pool Time

I sat by the pool today for a couple of hours. I’m trying to soak up as much sunshine as I can before my road trip to Seattle Next Week. You see, I’m from Seattle and there isn’t a whole lot of sunshine there. Lots of gray cloudy days and lots of rain but not much sun.

Anyway, I’m sitting there reading a book, there are a few families around. They are playing music, laughing, cooking something that smelled really good and the kids are swimming.  It’s the perfect picture of an early summer Saturday at the pool.

I put my book down for a while and take a look around. There are two girls about 10 years old wearing matching swimsuits. Definitely sisters if not twins. Golden hair gleaming wet and skin already tanned from a lifetime of living in SoCal. They are little fishes. Diving into the pool, doing cartwheels and landing with their feet in the pool, jumping in and out of the hot tub, being brave, real and enjoying life. Basically, doing all the things little girls do.

Then two older girls arrive. Not much older, maybe 13. Just on the cusp of womanhood. Best friends for sure. Little breasts starting to swell but still slender and athletic looking. One is definitely the leader, the other one glances at her for permission before doing anything. Follows her around, nods when she speaks.

The younger girls see the older girls and they are enchanted! They cannot take their eyes off of the way the older girls strut a little when they walk. They stare almost constantly hoping, wishing that the older girls will look over at them and smile or say hello. But they don’t. The older girls remain aloof, whispering to each other. Even going so far as to use sign language to communicate privately (they think).

The younger girls move closer. They start to emulate the older girls. Try to swim like them, move to the hot tub when they do. Try to catch their eye for a glimmer of approval but it never comes. The older girls ignore them totally. As if they aren’t even there.

When the younger girls are called away to lunch, they leave their suitors sadly, moving reluctantly toward their mom. As I get up to leave,  I say to the older girls, “You know, they just want to be like you. They look up to you.” The girls smile awkwardly at me for noticing their little drama and I head home feeling awfully glad that I’m not 10 anymore or 13. I’m pretty happy to be the age I am and to have friends of ALL ages!!!!

 

When Someone Shows You Who They Are: Believe Them!

It can be confusing. He says one thing, but does the opposite. She acts like she likes you but then she doesn’t return your call. He said he would be here an hour ago? What exactly is going on? The signs and signals can be hard to read but I have figured out the secret! It’s not what people SAY that matters, it’s what they actually DO that shows you who they really are!

There are so many people out there who get hurt. We believe in them. We fall in love with them and they just keep hurting us. We put our trust in people who don’t deserve it and fall into the same pattern over and over. Why is that?

Well, in my humble opinion, it’s because we want to believe the best of others.  We take them at face value! We give them the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes we even make excuses as to why they haven’t called us back or why they broke a promise. We choose to look through rose-colored glasses because we want them to be that perfect, handsome, charming prince on a white steed.

It’s more difficult to see things as they really are. Don’t get me wrong. I know no one is perfect. People make mistakes. But if you pay attention you will see a pattern of behavior that shows their true colors. Is there a pattern of kindness? Do they apologize or take responsibility for their actions? Are they helpful when you’re in need? Or are they letting you down routinely? Do they hold your hand in public? Do they take advantage of your friendship?

Look at the behavior. People can say anything – and Politicians or people who are manipulative often do.  Look beyond the words to the actions. That is where you will find a persons true nature. That is how you decide where to place your trust, faith and love.

Because as much as people will show you who they are….YOU also teach them how to treat you but what you allow. If you allow bad behavior then you are teaching them that you are not worthy of being treated with kindness. You are teaching them that their bad behavior is more important that your self-worth. You are teaching them that you deserve less than.

And that is not OK. You deserve honesty, kindness, support, friendship, truthfulness and love. Don’t hide behind a mask pretending that everything is ok when it’s not. Speak up for yourself – do it with love but be firm. Do not allow yourself to be treated less than….especially from someone who SAYS they love you.

Big Heart Hugs, Dawn

 

A Journey to Liking Myself

Ten years ago I couldn’t stand to be alone. My kids were 10 and 12 and when they were in school I would go walking or shopping or call my mom. I didn’t like to spend time by myself. And if I WAS alone I had the TV playing or music on but never, ever just quiet.

Why would a person NOT like spending time alone? I mean really? When I am alone I can eat whatever I want without anyone looking at me funny. I can watch crappy, sentimental TV or dance around my house naked. It’s pure freedom!

I think the honest answer is that I didn’t like myself very much. I had everything a girl could want: A husband who supported me, two kids, a couple of dogs, the white picket fence. But I just wasn’t happy.  I was fat and lonely and the negative voice inside my head was loud and opinionated. She kept telling me what I “should” be doing. She yelled that I “needed to” be the perfect wife, mom and home-maker. I could never measure up.

I also didn’t know who I really was. I was just going along in life but I wasn’t really engaged. I was busy trying to be who I thought other people wanted me to be. I gave someone else all the credit for the good stuff and blamed myself for all the bad stuff.

Today I’m a hot mess. I’m a glitter-filled, bundle of energy and joy, who can’t wait to get up in the morning and encourage, uplift and sparkle on everyone I meet. I LOVE life and all of it’s possibilities. I can’t wait to find out what good stuff each day is going to bring and what I will learn from it.

But how did I get from there to here? That’s a really good question. It was a really long process. I started by taking care of myself. I used to be last on the list and that’s not a recipe for success. So step one was that I moved myself to the top of the list and started exercising and eating better.

Step two was that I started listening to the smaller voice that whispers inside of me instead of the loud, bitchy voice. And know what? The quiet voice had the best answers:

Go take a long, hot bath, It’s ok to take care of yourself for a change.

If you don’t want to do something say NO – don’t just say yes because you think people will judge you.

Start speaking your truth. If people really love you they will listen.

Stop apologizing for things you’re not really sorry for or things that you didn’t do.

It’s ok NOT to be friends with people you really don’t like.

Forgive yourself – yes, even the really crappy stuff you did.

Step three involved a lot of self inquiry. I asked myself really deep questions about what I believe, how I want to live my life and whether it was ok to be miserable all the time or make some changes that would lift me up. I had to examine everything that I had held true for over 40 years and come up with answers that truly reflect ME.

I wish I could have liked myself more earlier. It would have saved me a lot of time. But that’s what life is all about right? I am learning lessons along the way? Sharing those lessons with others? Being REAL and Sharing the uncomfortable stuff because we ALL have crap we deal with.

I hope if you’re suffering today with not really liking yourself that you can find some small thing about yourself to appreciate. That you can find a way to start taking care of yourself because NOT liking yourself is very lonely and it affects all of the people in your life.

I can’t wait to see you fall in love with yourself! You can do it!

Hugs, Dawn

The Shaman

As I stood in the near darkness she wafted smoke across my body with a feather. She asked me to repeat after her. Words of affirmation, confirmation and grounding.  I stood there with my eyes closed soaking in the sensations. As the ritual came to an end she said to me, “What are you writing? I see words all over you, surrounding you, floating out from you.”

It took me a moment to respond. Her clarity and vision surprised me. I stammered a bit and smiled then answered that I write all the time. Nothing long like a book but I have messages that come to me all the time and I share them. I call them messages from the Spirit. They are always full of love and encouragement and support.

They come to me when I’m doing yoga, or on a hike and even while I’m looking at pictures on my phone. Sometimes they are garbled and take a while to make sense. Sometimes they are urgent and I can’t relax until they are on the paper (or computer screen) and sometimes I get nothing for a week or so and I wonder if they’ve stopped or if I’m just not listening.

Life is full of messages. There are the loud obstinate voices that demand to be heard and then there are the quiet whispering voices who speak truth to your heart. It is my goal to be somewhere in the middle. Some days I feel like shouting to the world, “CAN YOU HEAR ME?” and other days I just want to whisper in your ear, “Do you know how lovely you are?”

Either way, the words keep coming and I’ll keep sending them out to the Universe. It’s all I can do. I hope it’s enough and that someone finds encouragement and love.

Besos, Dawn

 

Miss Apprehension

My eyesight is terrible! I wear contacts to help me see things that are far away – which is a good thing when driving on the roads in Southern California! I also have glasses in case my eyes are tired of the contacts. But if I want to see up close I must have bare-naked eyes. Then I can see from my nose to about arm’s length. After that the world is a blur!

How is your eyesight? Do you feel like you see things pretty clearly? If I stood next to you do you think we could see each other? You might be able to see my face but do you think you could see my intentions or the desires of my heart? Would you be able to read my body language and see what emotions I’m dealing with or would you just see a middle-aged woman looking back at you?

The problem with most of our communication with other people is that we experience things through our own “lens.” This lens consists of every interaction we’ve ever had with other people. Each of these interactions leaves a film or scratch on the lens. So when we look at a new person, new experience or new situation we have to look through this dirty, scratched and warped lens.We can’t help it. It colors everything we see.

That being said, do you think you see things clearly?

What do you see in these pictures?

Do you see people who need help? Or do you feel disgust or fear?

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Do you see something that makes you feel proud? or anger or frustration?

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Do you see a happy celebration? Or trash from the Ocean?

It all depends on your point of view doesn’t it? It all depends on your lens. What you have experienced and seen. So if you are ONLY seeing the bad, ugly, angry and fearful part of the world, it may not be that the world is really all that….It may just be that you need to clean your lens…Or get new glasses!

With much love – Dawn

Happy Tools

I’m happy most of the time. In fact, I’m so cheerful that occasionally it irritates people! I have normal emotional ups and downs but after thinking about it, I realized that I’m happy about 85% of the time. I have been really, really unhappy before though. In fact, I spent a year in clinical depression. Depression so painful that I didn’t want to breathe anymore. It was awful. So I work really hard NOT to go back there.

My favorite tool to keep me on the happy side of life is to count my blessings. I try to find at least five: I have love in my life, I have a place to live, I’m healthy, I’m doing something I really like and My kids still say, “I love you mom!” When I’m having a really rough day my list looks more like this: I’m breathing……I have gas in my car…….UMmmmmm….I have coffee…. squirrels are cute… I like the blue sky…. But at least I can still find five things!

My next best tool is to move (sometimes drag) my mind into the present moment. If I am busy worrying about something then I am NOT present. I’m really in the future making up stories about what “might” happen and then making myself sick over it. If I’m thinking about something in the past I’m not present in this moment either. When I finally bring myself to this moment I can see that everything is fine. I’m ok. Life is good and I don’t have anything to complain about.

Another tool that I use is exercise. I am a yoga instructor so I practice some kind of yoga daily. Yoga helps me get in touch with my body and my mind. It helps me “burn away the crazy” and also produces ‘Happy” endorphins in my brain! I also like to hike, ride my bike, swim or paddleboard. Any kind of exercise is helpful!

An often used tool is to talk to others about what is bothering me. It can be a professional counselor or a really good friend. But it needs to be someone I can be brutally honest with. Someone who will just listen and not judge. This person/or group of people can take some time and trial and error to find! Unburdening myself in this way takes a ton of weight off of my soul and raises my happiness level by leaps and bounds.

Hugs or hand holding is a great way to boost my happiness level. Humans are made to be in connection and communion with others. Being able to hug someone – tight, or walk around holding hands is an essential part of how we are made. If you’re not with a partner right now, go get a massage. Appropriate touch through massage can be a very worthwhile thing in your life. It is especially helpful for senior citizens who have lost their partner in life.

Going outside is probably one of the most underutilized ways to boost your happiness level! Our bodies need the vitamin D that the sun gives our skin. At least 20 minutes a day outside is recommended. I lived in Seattle for most of my life and there is not enough sunshine there but being outdoors at least gave me fresh air, green moss under my feet, huge pine trees to smell and ocean views. The sound of the waves can be a great meditation tool!

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So, if you’re feeling a little out of sorts please try one (or all) of these Happy Tools! Life is good. It’s difficult sometimes but it’s worth it. Every day.

From My Heart to Yours!