Author Archives: thenamas

self-love, self-esteem, self-worth

Build Back Self-Worth and Unconditional Self-Love

I Am Something.

That’s an expression I have heard to instill self-esteem and self-worth among young kids. 

When babies are born, everyone gazes at them in wonder. People are enthralled with the slightest action from the little ones. Cooing. Gurgling. Smiling. Wiggling. Even burping is deemed adorable.

“How precious” is a common remark, as are “Oh…so beautiful” and “Just darling.”

Somewhere along the way, the layers of positive praise and adoration dwindle. The negatives creep into the cuteness. Remember “Denise the Menace?” Labels like “problem child,” “learning disabilities,” “ADHD” or “on the spectrum” define and separate our children. It may be well-meaning, but kids sense they are being distanced from the total perfection that they were — and still are. No wonder our society is troubled with a lack of self-esteem, self-worth, and unconditional self-love.

School teachers, kids, siblings, parents, family members, neighbors, and friends of families seem to forget that all lives are perfect and precious. All children are worthy of admiration and applause.  

A child’s first frequently blurted word is often “no!” Unfortunately, that’s the most common word for a baby to hear. Granted, parents usually say it to protect the child from dangers. But the caution builds up inside.

Say No to Self-doubt. Say Yes to Self-worth.

No. The negatives. The admonishing. The warning. The criticizing. The comparing. The underlying two letters symbolize “you are something not perfect, not utterly beautiful, not mega-talented, not a genius, not helpful enough, not all-knowing. 

Children are sensitive. They absorb, repeat, and believe what they hear. According to Dr. Rick Hanson, author of “Hardwiring Happiness,” the negatives stick with us like Velcro. On the other hand, the positives slide off like Teflon. (Watch my IGTV and FB Live Virtual Book Club chats about Dr. Hanson’s book.)

It’s all too common for children to think they’re the only ones with the brick walls built around them full of huge blocks that shout out “NO! Forget about it. You can’t. Not for you.” Fear rises and permeates and stays with them through adulthood. I have repeatedly seen, in myself and my clients, that most of us still have so many layers of fear we need to shake off.

Think about it. In a classroom or a family, the child internalizes all the negativity. How many times have you heard the remarks, “she’s the teacher’s pet,” or “my baby brother was the favorite.” It’s assumed that others don’t have those same roadblocks of unending “No. No. No.” Others get the green light to pursue whatever they want. 

Comparison. Too often, kids (and adults) don’t view everyone as equal. How many kids view themselves as a superstar? Aside from in their dreams. In real life, they compare themselves to others. Grammy artists. NBA stars. Role models appear perfect on a TV or movie screen. Not even realistic comparisons. Plus, they don’t realize that even the stars questioned their worth, and had to repeatedly jump over unbelievable roadblocks, or blast them away.

Say No to Comparisons. Say Yes to Self-Love.

Regina Louise, in her third and latest book, “Permission Granted” shares stories about her unfathomable life that was made into a Lifetime movie. As the reader, her amazing talent, intelligence, creativity, and wherewithal, are crystal clear. Yet, it took her most of her life to overcome those barriers from childhood.

Her first two titles were memoirs. “Permission Granted: Kick-Ass Strategies to Bootstrap Your Way to Unconditional Self-Love” is a self-help book. The sub-title makes it clear this work is all about learning to tell yourself, “I Am Something.” 

For several years, I’ve offered First Love Yourself workshops. My next iteration of them will incorporate some of the tips and exercises from Regina Louise’s book. If you’re one of my YouTube subscribers and Instagram followers, I’ll extend a BOGO through November 30. Buy my FLY workshop and bring a friend, free. In-person at www.TheNamasteGetaway.com, or via Zoom. 

I confess. These therapeutic workshops are my favorites. In 2019, I offered these fee-based special treats at The Namaste Getaway and at local yoga studios. In 2020, I began offering virtual workshops designed to stimulate self-esteem, self-worth, and self-love.

Each session includes restorative heart-opening poses, poetry reading, guided meditation, and introspective exercises.

Contact Deborah to schedule your BOGO, or inquire about other workshops or private sessions. Most all options are available in-person, or via Zoom. Reminder: I am a certified yoga therapist (C-IAYT) trained in many holistic modalities. I am not a licensed psychotherapist.

Be present, with every step and every breath

Living in the Present at The Namaste Getaway

Many years ago, I spent time at an ashram. In one morning circle time, people shared their personal goals. Of course, we were not talking about landing a great job, buying an electric car, or finding the perfect partner. This was about growth from within. Several mentioned they wanted to be living in the present. 

Although I had heard the expression “living in the present” many times, I didn’t really understand it. Unless you’re in dreamland or a zombie state, how can you not be living in the present? In a classroom, when the teacher does roll call, everyone says, “present.” So if you’re physically present, are you not living in the present?

Three years ago I moved to the country. Although I’ve lived in multiple places throughout the Americas, I’ve pretty much always been a big city dweller.

Less Activity = More Presence

I am grateful that I took the leap to leave the urban life and open up The Namaste Getaway. Now, I understand what it means to live in the present. I had no idea that moving to a rural area would deepen that sense of presence.

Timing was also a factor. When I first moved away from the highways and traffic lights and sound pollution, I was working seven days a week. I was driving throughout the county leading yoga classes, workshops, or therapy sessions. The Coronavirus changed all that from one day to the next. 

Without a doubt, the pandemic has been horrific. It has been devastating for so many people, industries, institutions, businesses, and entire countries. However, the quarantine and Zoom lifestyle has been a blessing for me. The level of my presence shifted dramatically. The last year and a half has given me more introspection than I ever would have imagined. As a result, my presence barometer is now fine-tuned. 

Tune-Out and Tune-In

Whether it’s my movement or non-movement practices, I feel a great sense of centering. I’m grounded. There’s a more powerful connection between my body and soul. Rather than focusing on my dozens of clients, I have time to focus on my body, my breath, and my life. 

I notice all my muscles working, or relaxing. I hone in on my breathing and can watch the infinite styles of inhalations and exhalations for half an hour at a stretch. Above all, since self-identify as having ADHD, that’s quite a feat.

In the early morning, I sit on my back porch and appreciate every sprawling tree branch and grazing deer in my view. If there’s been rain, I can hear the rushing water in the stream behind my house. Not quite like an ocean wave, but almost. Late at night, even if all my windows are closed, I connect with my non-human friends outside. I hear their every tweet, chirp, or croak. Consequently, my sound machine stays in the “off” mode, as the true sounds of nature are “on.” Always. 

Living in the Present Close to Nature

On my long walks, I rarely hear the sound of an engine or motor. Just the symphony conducted by Mother Nature. The only traffic is the flowers, cacti, and winged creatures that line my route. Above, ahead, and to the sides. It’s like I’m part of a 3-D virtual game. In short, all my senses are heightened. As is my gratitude. 

If you want to boost your presence, book a stay at The Namaste Getaway, with optional retreat packages including sound therapy, yoga, meditation, First Love Yourself sessions, or any of my other therapeutic offerings. All images are taken on-site at my Airbnb mini-retreat center in Wimberley, Texas, just an hour from either San Antonio or Austin.

Chant for India: Unites Global Kirtan Artists

As part of my gratitude practice, I repeatedly give thanks for my life during the 2020-2021 pandemic. While those closest to me stayed safe, I have numerous friends who lost a loved one to the Coronavirus. Living in the United States, I deposited stimulus and unemployment checks and lined up in April for my vaccines. Additionally, since March 2020, I have been chanting with my favorite kirtan artists around the globe. Now, they are uniting to Chant for India.

The Second Covid Wave in India

I began international travel two weeks after my second dose. Originally, India was on my wish list for 2021. However, now I rather doubt I’ll visit in 2022. 

According to one tracker, as of today, there are 2.85 million cases of Covid in India. The situation is so dire that there is now a new generation of orphans arising from the pandemic. 

Although India produces a number of antiviral Coronavirus vaccines, only three percent of the population is fully vaccinated. Yesterday, Vice President Kamala Harris committed U.S. vaccine surplus to Prime Minister Modi. The quantity and timing are not clear. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that given the size of India, whatever donations are sent will not be nearly enough.

Online Concert: Sunday, June 6

Ashoka Nalamalapu is not a politician. He doesn’t own a pharmaceutical company nor did he invent a new cure. But he is unstoppable with his desire to help his homeland get through the crisis. He is hosting Chant for India, a five-hour online musical benefit for India this Sunday. 

Nalamalapu arrived in the U.S. in 1987 with just $100. He managed to complete his master’s degree. Then, he built an IT company. More recently, he created a kirtan (call and response devotional music) band. So, Chant for India may be a simple but very admirable undertaking for him. 

He united some of my favorite Kirtan stars for the June 6 benefit concert. The lineup includes Grammy nominees Krishna Das, Deva Premal & Mitten, Jai Uttal, Snatam Kaur and Sopurkh Singh, and Manose. Chant for India starts at 12:15 pm EST.

Contribute and Chant for India

Register and support this worthwhile cause as you join the artists and Chant for India. Funds will go directly to Sri Ramakrishna Mission for equipment and other immediate needs of 12 government-owned hospitals. These facilities offer free healthcare, allowing for under-resourced communities to receive care. 

“We chose the Andhra Medical College Hospitals as they serve people who are poor financially, where the need is the greatest,” Nalamalapu said. “We are doing the donation through the Ramakrishna Mission, as it is the purest Ashram that I know of. It is a great blessing that we can be of service with this event.”

Nalamalapu added, “I am so touched that the Kirtan and yoga community are stepping up for Mother India. I have never seen such devastation and suffering in the land of my birth and it’s truly imperative that anyone who has been touched by the Indian spirituality of Kirtan, yoga, dharma, and meditation offer what they can to help the country and people who brought these beautiful and meaningful spiritual practices to the world.”

For more on the artists, visit their websites, check out their music, and read my prior posts. (Click on the “kirtan and bhakti” button in my search engine.)

yoga anywhere anytime

Yoga Anywhere Anytime: Even on a mountaintop

My motto is yoga anywhere anytime. While all the accouterments are nice perks, I don’t need yoga mats, studios, special apparel, or props to practice yoga. Often, people use those things as excuses to avoid the practice. “I forgot my mat.” “Oh, no, I don’t have a large enough space.” “These jeans are too tight.” Or, “The studio doesn’t offer my favorite class on Sundays.”

Around the world, I’ve never had a problem finding my yoga space. My yoga anywhere anytime nooks have included being perched on top of stones, fallen trees, damp sand, tall grass, and concrete. I know enough to avoid kneeling or doing a headstand on a hard, rough, slippery, or other potentially dangerous surfaces. Above all, I adjust my practice to my studio for the moment. 

Likewise, I do yoga stretches and breathing exercises when I’m out and about. For instance, great ad hoc “props” are lamp and electricity posts, the racks at the library, the check-out counters at the grocery store, the benches in museums gazing at art on museums. I admit, as unobtrusive as I may have been, one security guard in Italy did not appreciate my yoga anywhere anytime philosophy. 

When and Where?

I don’t relegate yoga to a 60-minute time block. With my yoga anywhere anytime mindset, I infuse the eight branches in my life. Every day. 

My favorite places for introspection are wherever I can best absorb the most prana. Usually, that means outdoors. At the very least, with windows wide open and A/C and heating off. For example, I love feeling the sun and wind on my skin. Being surrounded by mist or under light rain doesn’t bother me. Those are ways to up my daily dose of prana.

First, The Namaste Getaway has a dedicated indoor yoga room, where I open the window for sun and air to stream through. Next, the BarnOm has a rolling 16-foot-wide door that opens to a high ceiling. But, my favorite spot on my property is my covered back porch yoga deck. Even though I have a dozen mats, I like to feel the wooden boards underneath my feet and hands. Doing my chaturangas on the bare floor gives me a greater sense of grounding.

On weekends, I hike a few miles and practice vinyasa flow on the concrete lanai-covered walkway (sans mat). Often, with my dog. My site for savasana is a park bench.  

New Find for Prana 360

I recently found a gem of a place for yoga and meditation just a five-minute drive from my Airbnb.

My new special digs are on the top of Old Baldy aka prayer mountain. It’s a four-acre park with a 360-degree view of Wimberley. Perfect vibes for praying — or meditating. It’s an easy climb up the 218 limestone steps to get to the plateau. Although the peak is a rough surface, there is plenty of room for multiple people to practice yoga at the same time. Plus, for meditation, you can sit directly on the grass and dirt-free crest. Or, to elevate your hips, pick one of the big rocks surrounding the big flat top.

Prana-full Promotion

I want to share my delight for this prana-filled prayer mountain. That’s why I’ll lead a free session in this magical locale to anyone who makes a reservation at The Namaste Getaway or my BarnOm (before September 1, 2021) and mentions this article.

Laughter Yoga: A Daily Dose Feeds the Body/Mind/Soul

kids laughter, natural and therapeutic

Laughter Yoga© is relatively new. I typically turn my nose up at new-fangled yoga trends. But Laughter Yoga is therapy. Medicine. 

Skip the coffee and take your daily dose of laughter first thing in the morning. Or, take a laughter break instead of a coffee break to reenergize you. We know you should never go to bed angry. If you’re feeling resentment, hurt, or distress, laugh it off. Accept that you, and only, you can make that lemonade — or sweet dreams. 

Laughter is a natural therapeutic. Small children tend to laugh more than 100 times each day. Even babies giggle when you tickle their tummies. Kids may have a laugh attack if you tickle their feet or underarms. It is instinctive. Although the chortles can be hard to stop — they are easy to induce. Consider this: humans are the only animals that have a laughter response mechanism. Moreover, no other animal can provoke laughter in others.

The beauty of mankind. The miracles of our beings. The magic of laughter.

Laughter Yoga, Created and Prescribed by a Doctor

laughter is healthy and healing

Most of us can connect the dots between laughter and an immediate surge of good vibes. If you are down in the dumps, a funny joke or romantic comedy movie may lift your spirits. That’s because laughter releases tension and the “feel-good” hormones. Endorphins.

Those chemicals, released primarily by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, are natural opiates more powerful than morphine. As I detail in my upcoming book, one of my gurus confirms that laughter gave him the pain relief that no pharmaceutical drug could. Best of all, there are no perilous side effects. The only danger is smidgeon of embarrassment if you chuckle at the wrong time or the wrong place.

Laughter Clubs are a safe space. Laugh as loudly as you like. If you have a crazy cackle? Even better. You will contribute to the merriment of the other participants.

Laughter Clubs first began in 1995. A physician in Mumbai, Dr. Madan Kataria, was researching the health benefits of unbridled laughter. So impressed by the indicated outcomes, he gathered people in a park for a daily dose of laughter. Soon after, his yogi wife added breathing techniques from pranayama to boost the benefits. The result: Laughter Yoga.

Benefits of Laughing

laughter brings joy and merriment.

There are so many reasons to try Laughter Yoga. Here are a few:

  • Just 20 minutes of laughter brings about a wide range of physiological benefits. 
  • Don’t tell Arnold Schwarzenegger, but laughter tones your belly muscles. But if you’d rather do a hundred sit ups a day, be my guest. 
  • Loud and deep bursts of laughing flushes the lungs. Or, you can climb Mount Everest to give your lungs a workout. 
  • Hearty laughter increases the levels of infection-fighting immunoglobulin. With no injections.
  • Spurts of laughter ramp up antibodies in the blood stream. That produces a positive effect on the white blood cells that kick in to fight infections like Kung Fu Fighting. 
  • Deep diaphragmatic breathing is a deep cleanse for the lymph system.
  • Just 20 minutes of hearty laughter gives you the same cardiopulmonary workout as one hour on the rowing machine. If I had to row on a river for a full hour, I wouldn’t get too far. 
  • And of course you’ve got your feel-good hormones kicking in to play. So share some of the secret sauce with friend and family.

Free Laughter Yoga

laughter yoga is therapeutic simulated aerobic exercise

To entice people to give it a shot, I’m offering free biweekly 30-minute sessions via Zoom. Contact me for the times and Zoom access code. The first class will be at 3 p.m. CT, Tuesday, March 30. Spread the word. Tag or share with someone who needs some laughing.  Make it a “play date” and invite whomever you think can benefit to the initial session. If that time and date don’t work for you, send me a message with your preferred time-slot.

It’s easier than you think. And as always, the first try can be the hardest. So commit to two of my free Zoom sessions. Make it even better by having someone close to you in another Zoom window with you. 

Easy as Play

clown and laughter

Laughter Yoga can be done seated in front of your computer. Although I may cue you to get up and stretch. Or, shake your booty. 

There are no “poses.” But, it is an aerobic workout. That’s because of the breath work and the belly muscles constantly working. 

You do not need a mat or gym clothes. You can be barefoot, or wearing fancy cowboy boots. Just don’t tighten your heavy brass belt buckle. Loose, comfortable clothing is best. Like what I wear 24/7.

You can get a booster shot of spontaneous laughter therapy by tuning in to SNL. But Laughter Yoga is about the simulation. In other words, “fake it until you make it.” 

Laughter Yoga is playful. Get back to laughing 100 times a day. Be childlike. Lighten up. Get rid of heavy burdens. Even if for 20 minutes. It makes a big difference. 

Relive the childhood merriment. Add merriment into every day without worrying about what others think. Reconnect to your inner child. Reboot true happiness. Connect to the all-important love of self, nature, and everything around you.  

As my coach Liliana De Leo, of Living Laughter, said during a TEDx talk, “Laugh for health, laugh for healing. It’s about time we laugh, and let go more. It’s up to us to laugh bold. Laugh strong. If you get to laugh with others, hallelujah.”

drumming as therapy

Drumming as Therapy: An Eternal Vitalizing Ritual

Heal Your Emotional Pain with Drums

Drumming as therapy is an untapped drug, according to Erica Longdon in her book, “Vibrational Sound Healing.” “Drum therapy has successfully been used with patients and others suffering from emotional traumas including post-traumatic stress disorder. Specifically, drumming promotes the production of endorphins, the body’s own morphine-like pain killers, and can thereby help to control emotional pain. Furthermore, group drumming and drum therapy is currently being used to treat people with brain injuries, physical injuries, arthritis, addictions, and more.”

“Drum therapy has successfully been used with patients and others suffering from emotional traumas including post-traumatic stress disorder. Specifically, drumming promotes the production of endorphins, the body’s own morphine-like pain killers, and can thereby help to control emotional pain. Furthermore, group drumming and drum therapy is currently being used to treat people with brain injuries, physical injuries, arthritis, addictions, and more.”

Just as ultrasound (diagnostic sonography) and the stethoscope are common allopathic instruments based on sound waves, drumming is a form of sound healing. 

Vibrational sound energy, Longdon says, “has been scientifically proven to have an effect on our autonomic, immune, and endocrine systems in addition to the neurotransmitters in our brain. When an organ in the body is out of harmony and not working as it should, its sound pattern will be distorted. It is in a state of disharmony or disease. The reintroduction of the right sound pattern will help it realign and return to harmony and health.”

Children’s Inner Wisdom

percussion instruments: sound therapy

Our bodies know what is good for us. But, sometimes, it’s not easy to tune in.

Before we are born, we are bathed in the music of our mother’s heartbeat. The heartbeat soothes us. The beat of the drum, when slow and rhythmical, mimics the heartbeat. The tone and steadiness remind us of the womb. This is our first sense of safety. Protection. Love. Warmth. Human contact. Life force. Our world.

From the time we are born, we want to play with sounds, beats, and movement. It is our nature. Instinctual. Once kids can stand and walk, they dance. They wiggle and jiggle their bodies. They make their own music. 

Child’s Play is Healing

Children in Africa with drums

All those things are part of child’s play. Often, when I teach kids yoga, I bring my little drums into the class and pass them around. More frequently, I encourage the kids to make their own sounds of the drum by stomping their feet and banging the floor with their hands. The original instruments were simply made out of materials that were everywhere. Still today, there are workshops where you can learn to make drums. Far simpler than the production of a piano.

I am not a trained musician, but I view percussive instruments as second nature. That is why I bring them into my kids’ classes. Kids have fewer inhibitions than adults. They are not concerned about playing music “right” or “wrong.” They don’t care about reading music. Nor, do they care about an expensive Ludwig or Yamaha drum set. Hitting pots, pans, chairs, or non-breakable plates with sticks work just fine.

For adults that can forego self-criticism, drumming (or listening to drums) can lead to a state of bliss. No wonder drums are instrumental to many rites of passage around the world. It is an age-old tradition that Longdon says “is a natural human impulse and one that is growing in popularity.”

Beyond the Good Vibes

drumming as therapy

Sherry Scott’s ties to music are long — but drumming entered her life much later, and then, drumming as therapy. 

“I was raised in a fundamental Christian church where no instruments were allowed [in the church]. I learned four-part harmony at a young age.”

In school, she joined both band and choir, learning to play the clarinet and bass clarinet. Keen on wanting to play the guitar, she got one through trading stamps at age 12 and taught herself how to play.  

Sherry picked up her penchant for drumming after she moved to Austin, Texas. “I attended drum circles for years, and took classes [with the owner of a drum store] and then with several African drummers locally. I always loved music with complex rhythms and danced with abandon to songs with lots of rhythmic inspiration.”

She followed her heart and delved into the “Uses of Rhythm for Healing and Spiritual Practices” for her master’s thesis for St. Edward’s University. Her premise was that “rhythm, and sound, are a powerful part of life on Earth” that contribute to healing and enhanced spirituality. 

For most, a thesis is a drain on one’s time and energy. However, Sherry’s thesis sounds like it was a blast to explore. And uplifting, not overwhelming.

First off, rather than pen a zillion pages, her thesis was presented as a video so that the “readers” could experience the impact of drums. Second, she wasn’t locked up in a library or at her computer for years. She was surrounded by live drumming and the holy primordial sound of Om. Third, she was able to go to somewhat uncharted territories. There was no need for a million footnotes and annotations. Nor, did she have to review tomes of prior statistics or clinical data. Her cohorts may have been jealous of her approach and focus, but they benefited as well. Finally, she got to hang around cool people.

Drumming as Therapy: A Thesis

Traditional drumming as therapy

With a focus on drumming as therapy, she interviewed shamans, modern drummers, African drum builders, a drum shop owner and drum circle facilitator, Arthur Hull (the father of modern drum circles), and Oliver Rajamani, a musician of East Indian and Romany gypsy lineage.

Plus, she dove deeply into similar work done by Mickey Hart, of the Grateful Dead fame and read from the psychologist, Robert Friedman’s “The Healing Power of the Drum.”

“I used footage from drumming circles and special effects with a soundtrack that includes a very powerful recording of Om as a base audio track with intense African drumming overlaid. It had a profound effect on the class when presented and I was then asked to screen it in a large auditorium for campus-wide attendees. I used the largest sound system available. Many people were so intrigued that they asked me to play it a second time, while some laid on the floor, and some danced. It was quite an eye-opener for many who had never experienced anything like it.”

Sherry was not surprised by her research findings. It just confirmed what she had always sensed and felt. “My connection to rhythm gave me the feeling of being connected beyond myself, and my love of science fiction had introduced me to the Gaia principle, all things are connected. That is still my guiding spiritual principle.”

Her thesis conclusions illuminated how cultures around the world regularly use drum-based rhythm and sound in their healing methods and spiritual practices. These traditions arose instinctively and similarly across very diverse geographies. Among the drumming societies are Aboriginal cultures, Native Americans, African tribes, and even fundamental Christian groups. “They all use music/sound as ‘worship’ Sherry says.  

Read more about vibrational sound therapy and tuning forks in particular. Or, search my “Kirtan” archives for my many articles about the benefits of chanting.

First Love Yourself

First Love Yourself (FLY): My February Gifts to You

The American Heart Association dedicates February as a month to love and care for your heart health. I high five that. But, we need to love and care for our hearts from an emotional and spiritual aspect too.

Nourish Your Heart: First Love Yourself

First Love YourselfThat’s why I designed my signature First Love Yourself workshops. These therapeutic workshops are my favorites. And, they’re my treat this February. That means free to you. Last year I offered these fee-based special treats at The Namaste Getaway and at local yoga studios.

Appropriate for people of all ages, each session includes restorative heart-opening poses, poetry reading, guided meditation, and introspective exercises. I’ll treat all the participants at my BarnOm to a cacao ceremony, and music tuned for the heart chakra.

This year, I’ve adapted, as have most my clients and students. For those that want to connect via your phone, laptop, or tablet, I have three days of virtual workshops. Choose between February 8, 9, or 10. Los talleres gratuitos del día 9 de febrero se conducerán en español.

For those who prefer a beautiful drive through Texas Hill Country to Zoom talking heads, book a in-person session in lovely Wimberley. On Sunday, February 14, I’ll lead First Love Yourself workshops at my new 720-square-foot BarnOm Airbnb. With a huge door and high ceilings, the space is perfect for social distancing and air circulation. Choose between a 10:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. 90-minute self-care session. Para los hispanohablantes, el taller en Wimberley se ofrecerá el día 9 desde las 10:30 a.m. hasta el mediodía, con una sesión virtual a las 3 p.m

How to FLY

Bird soaring.Freedom. FlyAs mentioned in my recent FLY YouTube video, far more important than a valentine’s card, roses or candlelight dinner is to First Love Yourself.   

To me, FLY means freedom. Tenzin Rinpoche, a Tibetan Bon lama, in a talk about Dream Yoga, said freedom leads to happiness and you must feel free inside to feel contentment.

When I picture the word FLY I imagine a bird soaring, close to the heavens. Of course I also equate those three letters with getting on a plane and taking off. Traveling anywhere in the world at high speeds is an example of ultimate freedom in my mind. I consider travel, priceless.

Let Go of Your Baggage

When you get in the air and head to your intended destination, what happens with all your belongings? You pack one or two bags and leave the rest behind. At airport check-in, you say goodbye to your bags for the duration of the flight.

In other words, you LET GO OF YOUR BAGGAGE. Rid yourself of whatever is pulling you back, dragging you around, or weighing you down. Release what is not necessary, or healthy, so that you can FLY.

overcome your emotional baggage

Many pieces of baggage are heavy, and hard to let go. Maybe we can drop them on the conveyor belt or store them in the overhead compartment. But as soon as the flight is over, we get nervous if they aren’t right in front of us.

What kind of baggage is so hard to release? Low self-esteem, self-worth or self-respect. Nagging self-doubt, self-consciousness, or self-critiquing. Even worse is self-loathing. Regardless, we need to let go of all of that, and stop judging ourselves, or others. Plus, we need to ignore, or disregard what others may say or think about us.  All these are requirements to FLY.

Save Your Space

Freedom. First Love Yourself, FLY.

Did I mention these FLY workskops are FREE? My gift to you. I’ll be happy to accept donations. But, 100 percent of the collections will go to RAICES, HIAS, or SPLC. These are three non-profits I support. They each work to combat racism, prejudice, and injustices against people regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or country of origin. Regardless of if you attend one of my workshops, I encourage you to check out these organizations, and contribute directly.

To reserve your spot in any of the above sessions, or to schedule a private, contact Deborah ASAP.

 

 

 

 

tuning forks, a pythagorean healing technique

Tuning Forks: A Pythagorean Sound Healing Therapy

It should be no surprise that I am a major proponent of complementary and alternative medicine treatments (CAM). To me, they are neither complementary nor alternative. Most often, they are my first choice. As a holistic coach, trained in many modalities, one technique intrigues me: tuning forks.

I experienced an acupuncture session with forks. Only once. Maladies troubling me for many months disappeared after one treatment. I cannot prove that the outcome was from the forks. But, I give the tuning forks the high five.

Getting Back in Tune

acupuncture

My last trip to India got me out of whack. We are not talking about a virus I caught, or bad food I ate. An unhealthy travel schedule turned my dinacharya (daily routine) upside down. Even though I trek the world without losing grip on my dinacharya, this trip tossed my routine into a Vitamix. As a result, my nervous system (and vata constitution) were scrambled and fried.

I’m not a travel wimp. I have walked cobblestone streets in Italy for ten hours a day. In California, I have enjoyed strenuous yoga practices in the 100 degree heat from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. When I’m in Latin America, I have climbed volcanos. On transatlantic flights, I may lose a night’s sleep, but and ready to put in a full day of work when I land.  

But something went haywire in India. From those first inklings of something “off,” I tried to level out the imbalances. I was first in line, before opening hours, at an Ayurvedic clinic. The doctor concurred with my self-diagnosis. He prescribed a handful of herbal remedies and daily head and body massage therapy. 

blood pressure cuff

That helped. But the scale continued to weigh on the side of internal disorder. I skipped my travel group’s farewell dinner to bury myself under the covers at 6 p.m. — an anomaly for me. The next day, starting my solo journey, I made a beeline for an Ayurvedic pharmacy. Every night, I was resting in bed by 7. My super strong energetic self was missing. For many months.

Back home, I rested in bed every day. I felt as if I had mononucleosis. But, when I had mono in college, I felt A-O-K.

I couldn’t get my groove back. I had no strength. After stooping down to move my welcome mat, my blood pressure plunged to 60/40. My heart was racing just from moving a planter.

Finally, at the urging of my medical practitioner partner, I went for lab work. A TB test. Chest X-ray. Lung MRIs. Complete blood work and adrenal fatigue test. The results were as expected. Normal. Yet, I felt so un-normal — until my acupuncture session with the tuning forks. It was as if I was pushing a boulder, inch by inch. The needles and forks gave me strength to propel that heavy rock up and over the hill.  

Everything in the Universe Has a Vibration

tuning forks for healing therapy

Erica Longdon is a U.K.-based meta-physician with a passion for tuning forks. Her new book, “Vibrational Sound Healing: Take Your Sonic Vitamins with Tuning Forks, Singing Bowls, Chakra Chants, Angelic Vibrations, and Other Sound Therapies,” spells out the benefits of forks.  

Erica incorporates tuning forks in massage therapy and reiki. She finds these body tuners are an excellent tool to release tense muscle tissue. Not surprising if you consider that sonar waves can break up kidney or gall stones, dental plaque, and assist with cataract surgery.

Additionally, she points out that “sound healing works on the principle that everything in our universe is energy that has a vibration. Sound has been scientifically proven to have an effect on our autonomic, immune, and endocrine systems in addition to the neurotransmitters in our brain. When an organ in the body is out of harmony and not working as it should, its sound pattern will be distorted. It is in a state of disharmony or disease. The reintroduction of the right sound pattern will help it realign and return to harmony and health.” 

Divine Mathematics

Pythagoras and tuning foks

Long before people were eating with forks and knives, they were tuning with forks. Erica says there are images of tuning forks on ancient Egyptian carvings and that tuning to heal dates back to the time of Pythagoras, around 500 BCE. The Greek philosopher and mathematician discovered the Pythagorean theorem, the Theory of Proportions, the sphericity of the Earth, and Pythagorean tuning.

According to Erica, the original tuning forks were likely made using the Pythagorean frequencies of 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256 and 512 Hertz (Hz). Those frequencies are aligned with the Schumann resonances (SR). Erica describes SR as the “vibrational soup in which we live and without which we cannot thrive.” Schumann resonances are the frequency of our planet and recognized by rocket scientists. 

For example, the NASA.gov web site states, “This resonance provides a useful tool to analyze Earth’s weather, its electric environment, and to even help determine what types of atoms and molecules exist in Earth’s atmosphere…scientists have discovered that variations in the resonances correspond to changes in the seasons, solar activity, activity in Earth’s magnetic environment, in water aerosols in the atmosphere, and other Earth-bound phenomena.”

Setting the Scales

a set of tuning forks for healing

Today, tuning forks are set to multiple frequencies to impact different chakras or auric levels. Some healing practitioners use the Solfeggio range of nine forks (which includes 528 Hz). Solfeggio notes are similar to those in “The Sound of Music’s” Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do. 

The Solfeggio scale is symbolic as the frequencies relate to numerology from the bible’s “Book of Numbers.” Erica says the lower two frequencies “impact deep emotional wounds which may, or may not, present as physical pain. The next three forks prepare a fresh vibrational field for the body, including the 528 Hz fork which can reset DNA, and thereafter, the forks lift the being into greater harmony in all relationships with life and spiritual growth.”

She typically works with forks within one scale (Pythagorean vs Solfeggio) during each session. She says the Pythagorean scale is especially beneficial for physical symptoms, and the Solfeggio for mental and emotional reset.  

When I lead my First Love Yourself workshops, I incorporate 528 Hz music from the Solfeggio scale to open the heart chakra. On the other hand, I choose 432 Hz (a Pythagorean frequency) for deeper relaxation restorative yoga sessions. 

High vibrations = Greater love

piano keys and the solfeggio and pythagorean scales

According to Erica, 432 Hz is the preferred frequency for sound healing — and symphonic music. Beethoven was a fan of 432 Hz. Usually, the Stradivarius is set to 432 Hz. That places the middle C on a piano at 256 Hz. 

“432 Hz is the original and more natural tuning for musical instruments. When a musician talks of ‘being in tune’ they are talking about a standardized note,” Erica says. For some reason, the A nowadays is usually set to 440 Hz versus 432 Hz. “The standardization happened in relatively recent times. There are opinions and conspiracy theories surrounding this event. Whatever the truth, 432 Hz is much kinder to a singer’s voice.”

Plus, sound therapy is kinder to your body, mind, and soul than many other forms of therapy.  “Sound is a healing gift, present in every moment, freely available for all to use. Sonic vitamins are an often inexpensive and easy way to incorporate the healing benefits of sound and vibration into your daily life,” Erica says.

TheBarnOm at The Namaste Getaway perfect for 2020 introspection

2020 Introspection: Find Your Blessings

It’s been nine months now, and that has brought great pain for many. But I choose to find the positive through 2020 introspection.

The new Coronavirus normal has set in. In reality, it doesn’t even seem like quarantine anymore. I go to the store. Once in a blue moon, I go to the drive-through of my favorite vegan place. I see my daughter for holidays and birthdays — but don’t hug her. Bottom line: I think I’ve adapted, and even relished much about the new normal, except for one thing. Travel.

This is the longest I’ve been in once place. I’ve been traveling since I can remember. As a kid we took long road trips every other year, from Chicago to Tucson to visit our grandparents. When not headed southwest in a cramped car we took shorter drive vacations throughout the midwest. When I was 16, I braved my first solo trip beyond our borders. As a result, my life never went back to normal.

I consider myself a world traveler comfortable pretty much anywhere, alone. The anthropologist and journalist in me prefers to avoid looking and acting like a tourist, in favor of staying and hanging out off the beaten path. 

Appreciate The Warmth of the Cabin vs. Cabin Fever

Interestingly enough, while cabin fever hit some — like a block — during these nine months of Coronavirus, I’ve enjoyed being the home body I never was. 

If you’d asked me in early March, I would have said I couldn’t imagine not even driving 25 minutes to the town where I was working, shopping, and hanging out three to four days a week. In these last nine months, I have ventured out to the next towns —in both directions — but rarely. My biggest getaways are 45-minute drives in to Austin to peruse the bookstores, food co-ops, and visit my daughter. Although I lived in San Antonio for 21 years, I have only driven once to the Alamo City since March. That was for a socially distanced new moon ceremony hosted and coordinated by one of my dear friends and gurus.

My sister-in-law in South America used to say I had patitas calientes. Meaning my feet were always moving (or longing to get moving). Even a few days after my C-section I walked to the bakery nearby to the shock of my mom. 2020 introspection tells me that sometimes it’s better to bake your own bread, literally and figuratively.

Enjoy the Little Things That Spark Joy

For the first few months of self-isolation, rather than feeling trapped in quarantine, I enjoyed each day. I walked around my neighborhood, daily, to take in beautiful views of hills and wildflowers.   

Since March, I’ve reconnected on a regular basis with my grade school besties in Seattle, Chicago, and Jerusalem via Zoom. I coordinated several large group family video chats, and have called my closest friends far more frequently than prior to Covid. 2020 introspection tells me that the most valuable things in life are your loved ones.

With a penchant for reading since I was just two years old, I’ve reverted to the real book worm that I am. Back when I worked in the corporate world, leisure reading was relegated to my vacation time. 2020 gave me the time to dig into all those books I had lined up on my shelves just waiting to be opened. Plus, the only items in my shopping bags coming back from Austin were books. I’ve been averaging two books per week now, and even signed up for Audible, something I never would have done prior to quarantine. 2020 introspection reminds me that reading and learning are essential to my true nature.

Find Your Own Hideaway or Design Your Own Retreat

Fortunately, I live in a retreat-like setting. I call my place The Namaste Getaway, as it really is a blissful getaway less than an hour from two major cities. So, everyday for me is a mini-getaway. The outdoors are calling me. Many of my Facebook Live and IGTV sessions I host from open-air spaces just outside my house.

I routinely practice yoga on my back porch, and love to eat my meals outside. My favorite book reading spot is my front porch, and I enjoy long walks down my deserted road every day. 2020 introspection reminds me that there is beauty all around each one of us, if we open our eyes and our hearts.

Despite the fact that I live in a mini-retreat spot, I found a way to up the ante. Last week, I spent nine days and nights in my newly-opened BarnOm Airbnb. The 720-square-foot barndominium is just a stone’s throw from my house. However, every change can be a welcome one. I felt as if I was in a cabin in the backwoods. The nights were far cooler than normal, so I bundled up inside with hot teas, lap blankets, and of course my bundle of books. 2020 introspection teaches that it’s ok to take it slow and enjoy the ride.

2020 Introspection is about Finding — and Keeping — The Silver Linings

TheBarnOm at The Namaste Getaway perfect for 2020 introspection

Although I still daydream about international travel, I don’t want to return to the old normal.

Nine months is the time it takes a baby to fully develop in the womb. I think some of the best things about the Covid era are firmly planted in my lifestyle, and I will do everything I can to keep those silver linings from fading away or being discarded.

2020 introspection wisdom says that getting on a plane is easy, but to travel within is harder — but more important.

LoveJoy-cake vegan-friendly treats in Austin Texas

Plentiful Vegan-friendly Indulgent Delectables in Austin, Texas

Suggestions for World Vegan Day Week

Soul food. Cake and cookies. Ice cream. Those are foods that seem to soothe kids and adults. Unless you need a vegan-friendly version. Then, you can be in a quandary, asking, “Is there butter in here? Eggs? Milk? Or, God-forbid, lard?”  

I grew up with zero options for plant-based treats. Nowadays, there are outstanding choices, especially for Austinites.

In the last few years, the Austin vegan-friendly scene has multiplied. Following is a rundown of just a few new-ish healthy alternatives to answer your cravings. 

Lovejoy: Vegan-friendly Edible Art 

LoveJoy-cake vegan-friendly treats in Austin Texas

Rhonda Baird is an artist. She earned an undergrad in painting and drawing, and a masters in sculpture and jewelry. As a result, Lovejoy treats are intricate works of art. 

“Art has always been a passion, and I think it’s just a natural progression to apply the techniques and philosophies I studied to the food I create. Frosting and decoration are my rewards for completing all the math and science involved in baking. Seriously though, baking is definitely a science and an art.”

In addition to being an artist, Rhonda is a chef who trained at The Natural Epicurean culinary school. Along the way, she learned about Ayurvedic cooking and other healthier modes of food prep as opposed to the more butter, sugar, and salt the better. 

LoveJoy-cake vegan-friendly treats in Austin Texas

“I’ve always been health-conscious. I became a vegetarian during my 20’s. About six and a half years ago, I decided to go vegan. I was ready for all aspects of my life to align: health, ethics, and morals. Living in Austin made it easy because it is a great city to be vegan. We have a huge vegan community, great food, and awesome events that make it accessible and accepted.”

Although her training and initial interest were in the savory heartier style of cooking, she morphed into indulgent goodies and it felt right.  

“Baking makes me happy, so I decided to keep baking. I found that people were much more open to vegan desserts and began my mission to convert people, one baked treat at a time,” she says. 

LoveJoy-cake vegan-friendly treats in Austin Texas

Rhonda operates LoveJoy, which is a family name, from her East Austin home. She’s a vendor for the Wandering Vegan Market but much of her business is via special order. 

“I offer a new approach to how cakes taste and look. My training as a health-conscious chef led me to use different herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables in unique ways. I prefer to use flowers and herbs to decorate instead of frosting. My baked goods are small batch and artisanal. The great thing about Austin is there is room for everyone to create what they are best at doing.”

Her offerings are 100 percent vegan, and many of her delicacies are gluten-free. Rhonda makes her own gluten-free base for cookies and pie-crusts. Lovejoy muffins are spelt-based. Organic unbleached flour makes for fluffier cakes and cupcakes which are her bestsellers. She says they bring love and joy to the consumer. 

“Ultimately, I want them to feel special. I want to create a beautiful cake hug!”

Top it off with Nada Moo! Ice Cream

Nada Moo! vegan ice cream at the Scoop Shop in Austin

NadaMoo! vegan ice cream is available in most grocery stores in Austin, and thousands across North America. But the family-owned Austin-based business launched their first scoop shop in 2018 on South Lamar.

The ice cream parlor has more than a dozen mouth-watering flavors like peach cobbler, marshmallow stardust, or caramel cold brew and cookies, along with favorites like organic vanilla, organic chocolate, or organic chocolate mint. 

You can pick out a cone or cup, or purchase pints from the coolers. Additionally, the staff can whip you up all sorts of shakes and floats. Some are mixed with soda, coffee, or espresso. Others, add in cereal crunchies, sprinkles, chocolate chips, or cookies. All are vegan and gluten-free, even the cookie dough. 

“It is our aim to penetrate every household as a solid option for ice cream lovers of all generations who are simply looking to do better for themselves and their families and the planet when they decide to indulge in ice cream,” says NadaMoo! President and CEO, Daniel Nicholson.

Nada Moo! vegan ice cream at the Scoop Shop in Austin

NadaMoo! looks and tastes just like the dairy version. It’s rich and creamy because coconut milk has a saturated fat content similar to that of cow’s milk, but without the negative side effects to one’s health, or the environment.  Another plus, the sugar content is lower than most frozen desserts, because pure agave syrup is part of the winning recipe. 

Sassy Vegan-Friendly Soul Food

Sassy's Vegetarian Soul Food Truck in Austin, Texas

Vegans typically stay clear of Soul Food, as animal fats and flesh seem to make their way into most of the dishes. That’s where Sassy’s Vegetarian Soul Food hits the mark. You can order anything off the menu, without thinking twice.

Sassy’s serves Soul Food from a trailer at 1403 E 7th Street minus the high levels of cholesterol, sodium, or saturated fat, but chock full of flavor. 

Owner, Andrea Dawson stopped eating animal products for digestive health reasons. But, she didn’t want to give up her taste for Soul Food. She searched for vegan Soul dining in Austin and came up empty-handed. Not to be discouraged, she chose to stir up her own creations. She found a retiring food truck, bought it, and began serving up the food was craving.

Sassy's Vegetarian Soul Food Truck in Austin, Texas

She says most of the items on her menu mimic the taste of her family dishes, but without the meat or pork products.  

Although one guest said she wanted to eat everything on the menu, the best seller is Chicon and Waffles. Chicon (the street where her trailer first was parked) is a chicken-flavored seitan. It’s such a filling dish that people order it any time of day. The waffles are egg-less, which can be a treat for those who love their waffles, but who are nixing the eggs.

Sassy’s has standards like black-eyed-peas and cornbread. Collards, cabbage, and kale. The baked sweet potatoes are smothered in vegan butter. There’s even creamy Cajun Mac and cheese with sausage. But, the cheese is nut-based and the sausage is plant-based. 

“I have lots of regulars that have been here from the very beginning and have seen how the menu has evolved. Young people who want to eat a healthier alternative than their parents. Older adults who are now being told to modify their diets. And lifelong vegans looking to vary their choices,” she adds.

Due to Covid, Sassy’s is open Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 to 8 p.m. The food truck has a six-foot space at the order window separating the staff from the customer.  There are outdoor eating areas within the yard.

Read about my long-time favorite plant-based Austin options on my prior post.