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Ayurveda

The amazing benefits for our mental health, physical health, happiness & more.

 

The best healing sanctuary in the world is all about forest bathing.

Mother nature at her best, is what we're talking about today.

Science is now backing up the ancient wisdom of Ayurvedic medicine, about the importance of human beings being connected to Mother Nature. 

A huge amount of research now exists on earthing. I.e. that when we take our shoes and socks off occasionally, or get in the garden we literally get an influx of negatively charged ions that come into the human body, and as if dowse the inflammatory fires that line our tissues. This is being shown to significantly reduce chronic inflammatory illnesses and pain, improving blood profiles, and helping regulate our body clock, particularly our sleep/wake cycle, and other circadian rhythms.

Now the science is coming out to show us the importance of connecting to Mother Nature generally.

 

Forest Bathing - Shinrin-Yoku

A famous doctor in Japan, called Dr. Li has spoken and written a lot about this recently. In Japan, they have a saying called 'shinrin-yoku', and it's basically the art and science about how mother nature, trees and plants, promote health and wellbeing in human beings.

It is absolutely profound. We've heard a lot about gut bacteria in recent years, that we have to eat certain foods, and do certain things to promote a healthy gut bacteria in our own colon.

What we now know is that the soil also has its own microbiome, and according to ancient wisdom, this actually cycles or changes with the seasons. But when we connect to Mother Nature, connect to the ground, and be in forests and natural environments, it's likely that we actually integrate that microbiome to promote and strengthen our own gut microbiome.

We now know that trees elicit certain essential oils or chemicals (phytonicides) that allow them to communicate with other plants and trees, as well as to deter microbes or other invaders. A little bit like pheromones in our human body that we emit to communicate with other people. E.g. so we know what relationships are good for us, and what ones aren't. These chemicals are now known to help clear our mind and lower our stress levels.

 

Pschoterratica, Biophilia & the Latest Research

Ever heard of 'Psychoterratica'? It's the fear or problems of being disconnected from nature. 

What about Biophilia? Biophilia came into consciousness in the 1980's when E.O. Wilson, a biologist and author, said that 'loving nature is part of our DNA'. 

It all points to the incredible healing power of nature as evidenced by some really interesting studies recently.

One study showed that when people immersed themselves in nature for four days without technology, their creativity and problem solving went up by 50%.1

In a collection of four studies, titled 'Can nature make us more caring?', people that were more immersed in nature became more intrinsically motivated. They were more caring, more community-oriented, less self-interested or self-centered. Those that were not connected to nature were more self-centered, more self-interested, and more externally motivated.2

Other studies have shown that when we connect more with nature - we forest bath, earth or ground etc - anxiety comes down, mental health improves, our immune system becomes stronger, we have more anti-cancer proteins, natural killer cells are stimulated among other benefits.3

 

Air Breathe Girl Green

 

Back to Ancient Ayurvedic Wisdom

 All this is really just backing up the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda. In my studies in Maharishi Ayurveda, connecting to Mother Nature was always promoted as one of the highest medicines. Did you know that doctors in Scotland can now 'prescribe spending time in nature' to their patients? How great is that. Instead a drug or pill, "Tom, what you need is to go camping for e few days or take your partner for a hike in the hills."

The question is, "how can we get out of our cities a little bit more, out of our homes, and reconnect to the profound healing benefits that mother nature gives us?"

How can we get out of our indoor environments and do our yoga outside, going for a hike, doing our walk, jog or even strength training out in a forest or a natural environment? 

 

Future Trends

 As evidenced by the Global Wellness Summit recently, the coming trends to watch out for in this space will be things like:

  • Pop-up parks - so in urban areas, there's going to be pop-up parks that we can earth and ground ourselves and connect to nature.
  • Green exercise - a shift away from just exercising in a gymnasium, or doing yoga in a yoga class. 
  • In Canada today, they're starting forest skating. Rather than going to the ice skating park, you'll ice-skate through a forest.
  • Forest Bathing Clubs - There's already a Global Institute of Forest Bathing  and a San Francisco Forest Bathing Club that's very popular.
  • Biophilic design - how we design our workplaces, our offices and our homes, so that we integrate the benefits of nature.

Traditionally, this was just about bringing some green plants into our office place or home, but also there's a science now about designing things so we maximise natural sunlight, natural air flow, and a whole host of other ways that we connect to the healing power of nature.

They're some of the trends so what can we do practically to use this knowledge?

Do you sun gaze or at least connect to the early morning sun as a daily practice? Are you aware of the incredible mental, physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of such a daily ritual?

While many of us know about high-performers morning habits such as making their bed, planning their day and exercising, connecting with early morning sunlight is not so well know.

As understood by most ancient cultures, the master regulator of all our internal health and performance cycles is the cycle of the sun. Most advanced traditional cultures throughout time have started their day greeting the sun through an ancient ritual called ‘sun gazing’. (Others, as in India along the Ganges river, do things like Yoga 'sun salutes' while facing East as the sun rises).

More and more high-level business performers are now understanding that our optimum human performance clock is synced to the cycles of Mother Nature. As such they make sure they get outside to reap the incredible mental, physical and emotional benefits of morning sunlight through the eyes. (Many of us today live in artificially lit homes and work in artificially lit offices and are 'mal-illuminated'.)

Benefits of morning sunlight exposure include;
• improved energy & immune function
• stimulation of healthy brain chemistry
the ultimate mood-booster (anti-depressant) & emotional balancer • optimal weight through its effects on metabolic and thyroid function
• regulation of our entire internal body clock

* A key benefit is in assisting optimal sleep at night ... as our sleep cycle regulation starts first thing in the morning!

Now, while the ancients understood that the sun will not harm the human eye in the first 45 minutes of sunrise ... the first 10 degrees of arc, you don't necessarily have to look directly at the sun - 'sun gaze'. (If you do, this should strictly only be done in the first 30-45 minutes of sunrise and for very short periods - seconds - to begin with.) However, even indirect sunlight through the eyes will bring significant benefits. The main thing is to actively get outside for at least a few minutes early morning to sync your physiology with our planets No.1 source of life-energy, vitality and positivity. And if you can combine exercise, earthing (see my blog)) &/or connection with others at the same time, all power to you.

The sun (Surya), often maligned in our modern world was traditionally understood and indeed honoured for being the central to all life and every aspect of human health. We just need to respect it and connect with it in the right way ... not too much but also not too little.

The importance of early morning sunlight exposure for optimal #health and #workperformance #wellbeing Do you make a daily practice of connecting with the sun or at least getting outside in the early-morning? What do you do and what difference does it make to your life and your work performance? I'm sure others would love to hear your inspiration.

#sun #sunlight #morningsun #morningsunlight #sungazing #suntherapy #heliotherapy #mentalhealth #emotionalhealth #sleeptips

Research shows that those who consistently perform at high levels commonly do things as daily practices or rituals that other don’t. Here’s a few.

Connect with the Morning Sun

High performers intrinsically understand that our optimum human performance clock is synced to the cycles of Mother Nature. As understood by the ancients, the master regulator of all our internal health and optimal performance cycles is the cycle of the sun. Traditional cultures throughout history have started their day greeting the sun through an ancient ritual called ‘sun gazing’. Hgh performers make sure they get outside (out of their artificially lit homes and office places) to experience the mental, physical, and spiritual benefits of morning sunlight through the eyes.

Benefits of morning sunlight exposure include;

  • regulation of immune function
  • stimulation of healthy brain chemistry
  • regulation our internal body clock
  • promotes balanced weight through its effects on metabolic and thyroid function
  • uplifting mood (anti-depressant) and strengthening emotional health.

 

Transcendence

What do Hugh Jackman, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Ferriss, Katy Perry, Ray Dalio (Head of the world’s largest hedge fund), Ariana Huffington, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen Degeneres and countless other world class performers have in common? They start their day with 20 minutes of TM or Transcendental Meditation (other high performers use other forms of meditation).

According to Tim Ferriss, author of New York Times Best-seller ‘Tools of Titans’, meditation is by far the most common habit or daily ritual amongst the world’s highest performing individuals. Don’t have time to meditate? Almost universally everyone who meditates, specifically transcending-based meditation like TM, remarks that they get far more done when they meditate and couldn’t imagine life or work without it. We can’t build a 100 storey skyscraper without first digging deep into the ground. Likewise, we can’t sustain high level, dynamic outward activity without first (and regularly) going within and enlivening our deepest (inner) source of energy, creativity and intelligence. Transcending does this which is why such a high percentage of high performers do it as their most important daily habit.

As the latest neuroscience and brain mapping research clearly demonstrates, such meditation produces more global brainwave activity and peak brain coherence. Do less achieve more.

More on Transcendental Meditation (TM) and Transcendance

 

Exercise

Another hallmark of high achievers is that a very high percentage start their day with physical activity. Research shows that those that make a habit of exercising early morning have a compliance rate of 75%. Those who leave it until later in the day (after work) have a compliance of around 25%.

Again, the research suggests that the time devoted to physical movement or exercise in the early hours is more than returned in terms of improved efficiency, brain performance, decision-making and all around productivity for the rest of the day. (Early morning is also the best time for exercise according the understanding of Ayurveda and our daily body clock.)

* Richard Branson has been quoted as saying daily exercise gives him 4 hours of improved productivity.

Connect to the morning sun, transcend to develop your most precious resource – consciousness - and get your body moving early to help maximize your work and life success.

 

Mark Bunn

* These are just three of the practices discussed in Mark’s highly popular ‘Daily Habits of High Achievers’.

 

*This is a REPOST of the blog from August 13, 2012

 

Did you scrape your tongue this morning?

Good news. Another ancient health practice has recently been accepted and promoted by modern experts

Have you been to buy a toothbrush lately, and noticed many companies marketing a tongue cleaner on the back of their brushes? Promoted as a way to rid yourself of bacteria that accumulates on the surface of your tongue, they actually have a lot of merit.

The following are specific guidelines from Ayurveda/Ayurvedic medicine re diet according to what's known as the doshas. If you are not familiar with the doshas or this system, first read Mark's article on the Ayurvedic doshas & Knowing your Individual Body-Type

CorrectingImbalances

The following are specific guidelines from Ayurveda/Ayurvedic medicine re diet according to what's known as the doshas. If you are not familiar with the doshas or this system, first read Mark's article on the Ayurvedic doshas & Knowing your Individual Body-Type

The following are specific guidelines from Ayurveda/Ayurvedic medicine re diet according to what's known as the doshas. If you are not familiar with the doshas or this system, first read Mark's article on the Ayurvedic doshas & Knowing your Individual Body-Type

Favour foods that are: COOL, OILY, HEAVY, SWEET, BITTER, ASTRINGENT 

Reduce(but don’t avoid) foods that are: HOT, DRY, LIGHT, PUNGENT, SOUR, SALTY

Specific recommendations.

The following are specific guidelines from Ayurveda/Ayurvedic medicine re diet according to what's known as the doshas. If you are not familiar with the doshas or this system, first read Mark's article on the Ayurvedic doshas & Knowing your Individual Body-Type

Note; This diet may be too heavy, if the digestive fire is weak/irregular. In this case, reduce the ‘heavier’ foods – i.e. follow a ‘light’ vata pacifying diet.

Favour foods that are: WARM, OILY, HEAVY, SWEET, SOUR, SALTY

Reduce(but don’t avoid) foods that are: COLD, DRY, LIGHT, PUNGENT, BITTER, ASTRINGENT

Some specific recommendations:

This simple tip (written here for winter, but applicable to some degree year round) is one of the simplest, yet most profound things you can do to protect yourself from getting sick (colds & flu's etc), to prevent that 'heavy/depressed' winter feeling & helping avoid those extra kilograms that always seem to enjoy making themselves at home at this time of year.

If so, ​before you commit to surgery or other more invasive procedures, you may like to try these natural Ayurvedic remedies. ​

You might have heard me talk a lot over the years about the Ayurvedic concept of oral hygiene.

I've discussed the problems associated with using commercial mouthwashes , and how in Ayurvedic medicine it is being prescribed for thousands of years to combine this with daily tongue scraping for keeping the mouth truly clean and the teeth and gums strong and healthy.

Well now I think you're ready for the full version. It's called 'oil pulling' and not only cleans the mouth, and keeps one's teeth and gums in tip-top health, it is said to help purify the entire body and optimize the functioning of our entire physiology.

Ayurveda comes from the ancient Vedic tradition of India1, where it has been practised for more than 6,000 years. It is recognised by the World Health Organisation as the world’s oldest continuous system of Natural health-care. In its sanskrit roots, ‘veda’, means ‘pure knowledge’ or science, and ‘ayus’ means ‘life’. So Ayurveda is understood as ‘the total knowledge or science of life’. Ayurveda is both a time-tested science, having a recorded history of thousands of years as well as containing a history of highly evolved, healthy and long-lived individuals.

On October 1, 2013 at 3:13 PM Natasha S wrote

Hi Mark

I tend to agree with your article on digestion being lowest at night, and I’ve been abusing it by eating dinner sometimes at 1 am in the morning, or even after that time! Because I get caught up doing things on the computer, and I get home late at night too, between 8 pm and 9 pm. I want to change this, but am underweight at this point in my life – surely going for so many hours without food – will make me even thinner? Won’t my body start to cannibalize itself if I don’t eat for so long overnight? Besides, I get hungry pretty quickly after a light meal.

What about those who are night owls, and a bit underweight? This kind of eating might be good for those who carry a bit too much weight but so many hours without food might be detrimental for those who tend to be thin.

As I go to bed late – around midnight – I would be hungry again if I ate before 8.30 pm.

Would having a glass of goats milk kefir be all right if I was hungry before bed? I can’t sleep if I’m hungry.

Please help me with this question.

Thanks. Natasha.S

Mark’s Reply

Lewis S wrote:

I would be interested to know what scientific research supports the idea that “our digestive fire, which we need to digest food, is relatively weak in the early hours of the day.” It makes sense as portrayed in your article, but so does the opposite case when presented by health and nutrition experts of that persausion.

Mark's Reply

Not long ago I read that the average mother these days gets about 20 minutes to herself a day. (Seeing my sister with her 3 girls, I can hear her shouting, like I’m guessing you might be, “20 minutes, oh I wish!”)

As a mum these days (you not me!), it is an unbelievably difficult challenge to do what you desire for your kids, your family, your work, before you even get a moment to think about yourself. Equally, as they say, “Our greatest wealth is our health”. While nearly every mum will say that healthy kids is their number one priority, it’s also logical, though not necessarily easy, that looking after your own health is the absolute first step in looking after your family’s health.

"Abhyanga" - the Ayurvedic old massage has been recommended for thousands of years as part of the daily routine for maintaining overall health and well-being.

According to the ancient Ayurvedic texts, regularly performing the oil massage (traditionally done daily) does the following,

  • Dissolves accumulated stresses and toxins,
  • Pacifies the doshas - especially vata - relieves fatigue, improves stamina, promotes pleasure and sound sleep,
  • Enhances complexion - promotes luster / healthy glow & softer / smoother skin,
  • Makes one 'least affected by old age' - Charaka Samhita - ancient ayurvedic text.
  • Improves circulation, especially to nerve endings - therefore can reduce pain,
  • Tones the muscles & massages the vital 'inner organs' of your body,
  • Lubricates & strengthens the joints,
  • Strengthens immunity and balances hormone function,
  • Improves elimination of impurities from the body,
  • Calms the nerves & strengthens the entire nervous system.

The overall effect is a powerful strengthener & rejuvenator of mind and body.

It is like oiling the engine of your car - if you do it regularly, your engine will be in peak  condition, and give you years and years of trouble-free performance.

The Ayurvedic massage is tradtionally performed in the morning, before your bath or shower, to facilitate the release of toxins that may have accumulated during the previous night. You can use cured sesame oil, a herbalised massage oil, or ideally the oil prescribed by an Ayurvedic practitioner. This will be suited to your individual needs at the time.

Sesame Oil: Unique Benefits

Sesame oil is prescribed where possible as the oil of choice for the Ayurvedic massage. This is due to its unique qualities & benefits.

It’s main component is linoleic acid. Linoleic acid,

  • is anti-fungal & anti-bacterial (known to inhibit growth of pathological bacteria).
  • is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent – probably why it’s so good for joint problems.
  • Appears to be a ‘anticarcinogen’ (fights cancer cells) – has been shown to in vitro
    malignant melanoma growth (Smith & Salerno 1992) and human colon
    adenocarcinoma cell line growth (Salerno & Smith 1991).

Sesame oil is also,

  • the most ‘penetrating’ oil, thus nourishing and strengthening all tissues –
    skin, tendons, joints, even the bones.
  • is high in ‘antioxidants’. Heating the oil (traditional in Ayurveda), has been
    shown scientifically to increase the antioxidants’ potency (Fukuda et al 1986).

*Notes;

  • Sesame oil should always be ‘cured’ first – see below
  • Sesame is ‘hot’ in nature, so in some cases can cause a little irritation for
    some skin/body types. If using for the first time, it is best to try a little bit on a
    small area of your body first.

The following are some simple instructions to assist you in doing the Ayurvedic daily oil massage. Even if you can’t do it everyday, do it as often as you can.

Helpful Hints:

(i) Be sure that your bathroom is nice and warm – feeling cold will aggravate Vata dosha.
(ii) Place an old large towel on the floor to sit on. It will also catch any spilt oil.
(iii) Best results will come from doing your massage in a settled way with full attention – don’t listen to the radio etc. while having a massage.
(iv) To save oil building up in your towels, try drying yourself with a slightly damp, wrung washer or paper towels etc before using your towel. You can then launder the washer or throw away the paper towels as often as needed.

Procedure:

Step 1. Unless a specific oil has been recommended for you, then sesame oil should be used for the daily massage. If you find sesame oil unsuitable in some way (too heating or your skin reacts), you may also try almond or olive oil as alternatives. Only use coconut if pitta is very high or it’s in the middle of summer.
Unless the oil is pre-cured, purify it by ‘curing’ it*. Do this by heating it to about 100°C, the boiling point of water. Also add a drop of water to the oil in the beginning,. You will then know that the proper temperature has been reached when the water bubbles or boils. We suggest curing all the oil at one time.
* Note:
Sesame and other oils are highly flammable, so they should be cured in the following way.
• Always heat the oil on low heat, never on high heat.
• Never leave the oil unattended.
• Once the oil has reached the proper temperature remove it from the heat and leave it in a safe place to gradually cool. Then pour it back into the original container or bottle (a funnel may help).

Step 2. Before beginning massage, the oil should be at or slightly above body temperature. A convenient system is to use a plastic bottle with a nozzle (e.g. a sauce bottle).
Stand it in a cup of hot water until it warms up. Start by massaging the head. Place a small amount of oil on the fingertips and palms and begin to massage the scalp gently. The massage for the head and for the entire body should be with the open part of the hands rather than with the fingertips.

Since the head is said to be one of the most important parts to be emphasized, spend proportionately more time on the head (and feet) than you do on other parts of the body.

Step 3. Apply a small amount of oil to your entire body. This will allow the oil to have maximum amount of time in contact with the body.

Step 4. Gently massage your face and outer part of your ears. You do not need to massage these areas vigorously.

Step 5. Massage both the front and back of the neck, and the upper part of the spine. Continue to use your open hands, in a rubbing type of motion.

Step 6. Proceed to massage to each area of your body. The proper motion is back and forth over your long bones and circular over your joints.
Massage both arms, including the hands and fingers.
A very gentle circular motion should be used over your heart.
Over the abdomen a gentle circular motion should also be used, following the bowel pattern from the right lower part of the abdomen, moving clockwise towards the left lower part of the abdomen.
Massage the back and spine as far as possible.
Like the arms, use a back and forth motion over the long bones of the legs and circular over the joints (hips, knees, ankles).

Step 7. Lastly, massage the soles of the feet. The feet also are considered especially important. Proportionately more time should be spent here than other parts of the body. Use the open part of your hands and massage vigorously back and forth over the soles of the feet.

Step 8. Now have a warm shower or bath. Only use soap if you need to, as it may draw too much oil out of the pores of your skin.

This completes the Ayurvedic Daily Oil Massage. Ideally, about 10 to 15 minutes should be spent each morning on the massage. However, if this time is not available on a particular day, it is better to do a very brief massage than to skip the massage altogether.

Once you have added this Ayurvedic Oil Massage into your daily routine, the benefits will make it quite natural for you to continue the massage on a permanent basis.

If you haven’t made the switch already, I want to remind you, that’s it’s the ideal time to switch from drinking cold/room temperature water, to our good old warm/hot water.

 Did you hear about the study showing a low-fat diet in later life and following such a regimen for nearly a decade DOES NOT have a significant impact on reducing the overall risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer or heart disease?

This is according to a Women’s Health Initiative study that involved nearly 50,000 postmenopausal women across the U.S.A.

Note: This study doesn’t mean a lower fat diet is not helpful, just that it wasn’t shown to be ‘significantly’ helpful.

Now high or low fat diets is not my point here. For interest sake, a low to moderate fat intake is generally best for most people. In reality though, different people (body types if you like), should have different intakes of fat.

* It’s actually very healthy for certain people (like me!), to have relatively high fat intakes (yes, send expletives and profanities my way now…I’m off for an ice-cream, hmmmm!.

Big in the media at present (being ‘cold & sore throat’ season), is the virtues of adding honey to hot drinks. I think Boost Juice, even have a lemon; honey ‘hottie’…which I assume is a hot tea.

Do you ever do that?

Honey is certainly in many respects an extremely powerful medicine – antibacterial, anti-oxidant, anti-viral etc. It can be great for colds*, clearing sinuses/congestion etc etc. However, you should ‘NEVER ADD HONEY TO ‘BOILING WATER’.!!!

Did you scrape your tongue this morning?

Good news. Another ancient health practice has recently been accepted and promoted by modern experts

Have you been to buy a toothbrush lately, and noticed many companies marketing a tongue cleaner on the back of their brushes? Promoted as a way to rid yourself of bacteria that accumulates on the surface of your tongue, they actually have a lot of merit.

Which direction does your desk face? Do you think your work performance is affected by whether you are facing North, South, East or West? It does.

Fascinating cutting-edge research in the field of neuroscience, shows how facing a certain direction is critical for integrated brain functioning and maximum mental performance.

New International Best-Selling book just out featuring 16 of Australia’s leading health and well-being experts (oh … and me! They needed 16 and were one expert short!

Further Book & Purchasing Info Here

Ayurvedic Cold Water Evils – Mark speaking at the Melbourne Convention Centre on the problems of drinking cold water re; Constipation, Weight Gain, Arthritis … and why Asians (Chinese) always drink warm or hot water/tea

The evening meal – a key to super energy, good sleep and weight loss … or to sickness and suffering

Food that we do not digest by the time we go to bed sows the seeds of sickness and disease.

If there was a pill that could give us up to 50% more energy, significantly reduce our risk of chronic disease and almost guarantee a healthy weight for the rest of our life, many people would probably pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars for it. Ironically, 90 – 95% of us (Westerners) do something each and every day that, if changed, could deliver all the above benefits and more. It doesn’t take any more time out of one’s day, actually saves money, and is a hallmark of the healthiest, longest living people throughout time. It is the most basic, simple, yet rarely followed wisdom of ‘eating light at night’.

Video of Mark in Port Dougles speaking on Riding Nature’s Rhtyhm and Maximising Personal Performance through the Daily Cycles

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