Crystals, Rainbows and Healing Thoughts

64 Arts

So we’ve talked about crystals and we’ve discussed meditation, now it’s time to combine them and add a third element: chakras.

Chakras are energy centers that begin at the based of your spine and extend up to the top of your head, totaling seven (though there are minor chakras up into the twenties that correspond to other areas of the body). These centers correspond to areas of the body, have assigned colors and have been matched with certain stones. There are diets based on chakras and healing modalities focused on targeting damaged centers. Chakras are very big in New Agey woo-woo, but even in the non-woo they’re pretty interesting.

Here’s the cliff-notes version:

Name Part of the Body Color Crystal
1st Root Skeleton, lower body Red or black Jasper or hematite
2nd Sacral Bladder, circulation Orange Carnelian
3rd Solar Plexus Adrenal glands, stomach Yellow Tiger eye
4th Heart Immune system, lungs Green with pink Malachite
5th Throat Lymph nodes, neurological Blue Turquoise
6th Third Eye Pituitary glands, central nervous systems Indigo Lapis lazuli
7th Crown Pineal gland Violet Amethyst

And that really is a nutshell-summary, but you get the picture, right?

Notice how the colors from the root to the crown follow the acronym for the color spectrum? Good old ROY G. BIV, learned it in childhood and find that it’s still useful!

One of the first guided meditations I participated in used this color progression and visualizing a staircase as it’s main vehicle. It was a lengthy meditation, nice and slow so that each color had time to become fully materialize in the mind’s eye before moving on. One of the more amusing parts of the meditation was at the end, in the 8th level (pure white light and the destination of this particular meditation) when the guide mentioned that once you were comfortable with the stairs you could hurry the process up–use the escalator or elevator on future trips.

This turned out the be useful because future sessions, on my own this time, I would move faster through the colors to my destination.  Sometimes, though, I would get stuck on a certain color. It wouldn’t materialize or I couldn’t hold onto the color with my mind and I’d slip into a different color, usually the one just before the troubled one.

Turns out, this is a way of finding chakra imbalances and, some believe, pinpointing areas of disease (sometimes mentioned and thought of as dis-ease to highlight the out-of-whack-ness of the body). Knowing where the problem is can help you work through it and resolve any imbalances or ailments.

Which is where the crystals and colors come in. Skilled chakra therapists can pinpoint issues, apply the right crystals and bring things into alignment through energy manipulation. Depending on your self-awareness (which, hey, you’re considering your chakras and travelling through them–that’s pretty well on the path!) you can begin to align your chakras, yourself, or at least have a clue where to start when you visit your regular doctor for a persistent issue.

the Medicine Cabinet in Your Kitchen

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And I’m not talking about cold and headache pills kept in the cabinet above the toaster–I’m not the only one who grew up that way, right?

No, today I want to share with you some simple home remedies that you can find in your kitchen. Of course, the standard caveats apply:

  • If you’re allergic to something, don’t use it. Corollary: If you experience any allergy-like symptoms, discontinue use, pop a Benadryl for mild symptoms and call the doctor asap for anything breathing-related or otherwise severe!
  • If you’re on prescription medications, check with your prescribing doctor or pharmacist before adding a natural remedy to the mix (natural remedies can often interact with or invalidate prescription meds).
  • If symptoms persist see a doctor.
  • I am not a doctor, just a girl who (due to a laundry-list of personal health idiosyncrasies) wants to decrease the amount of non-essential pharmaceuticals in her system.

Have I covered my ass enough, now?

Good for More Than Just Studding a Ham

I’d often read that clove was a natural topical analgesic (pain reliever) but it never really clicked until one Sunday dinner with a friend’s family. Mrs. P had made a gorgeous glazed ham and you know the the crust is the best part. Well, after one piece my tongue started to go numb. Viola! A little too much clove on a ham yields numbing sensations. This is why clove oil (available in some pharmacies) or even the ground cloves in your spice cabinet can be applied to your gums to help alleviate your next toothache. Just make a little paste with cloves and water and place it around the achy area.

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have a faint pie-spice taste in my mouth than that nasty orajel flavor I grew up with!

When the Motion of the Ocean is too Much to Bear

Thankfully, I don’t suffer from motion sickness on a regular basis, nor do I get sea sick. Growing up in Louisiana, both families had river camps and I always thought it was great fun to go out on a boat.The first two cruise ships I was on? No problems. But by my third cruise I’d developed more persistent tummy troubles in general and our ship was experiencing some propulsion issues that created a little more rocking. I came prepared with my trust ginger pills and, after the first day, all was right with the world.

We’ve probably all been given ginger ale when we were kids with an upset stomach, right? There’s a reason for that. Ginger has a wonderfully calming effect on roiling tummies and can help with digestion in general. For the cruise I bought ginger pills at the local health food store (powdered ginger in capsules) but I’ve also had good results eating bit of Australian chewy ginger licorice and even candied ginger slices. You do want to watch out on the sugary options, though: too much sugar can make a bad situation worse (it draws extra water into your gi tract to deal with the sugar and can throw things out of balance).

The Go With the Flow Trio

In my 20s I suffered through numerous bladder infections for which we were never quite sure of the cause(s). On top of that, I was also getting bronchitis a couple times a year, and the antibiotic load frequently took it’s toll on the good bacteria in my body causing yeast infections. It was a vicious cycle. And really uncomfortable.

Since then I’ve discovered my own little cocktail of all-natural products to help keep the girlie bits happy and healthy. It’s not exactly a secret, chances are you’ve heard of this before, but I’m going to tell you anyway because I’ve learned to no longer assume folks know what I consider to be common information: cranberry juice, yogurt and baking soda mixed with water are your new best friends.

Not all together, of course!

The cranberry juice needs to be as close to natural as possible. If you don’t like the taste you can use the blends but it’s best if you use the brands available in the organic or natural section of the grocery as they won’t have as many sugars (sugars are bad news for these kinds of issues–they feed the bad bacteria!) or artificial ingredients. Drinking cranberry juice regularly keeps your urinary tract happy.

Oh, and about those blends? My girlfriend’s doctor told her any blend was find EXCEPT Cran-Grape–one half makes you go, the other makes you stop and you’re body won’t know what to do. Just something to keep in mind!

Yogurt is teeming with those active cultures that make yogurt, yogurt and they do wonderful things like build up the good bacteria in our bodies that antibiotics can strip away. Again, the idea is to go as natural as possible and avoid overly sugary versions or ones with excess chemical enhancement. My favorite, these days, is naturally fat-free Greek yogurt with fruit and honey.

Back when I’d get those infections often the doctor would give me a pain killer along with the antibiotic. I wasn’t really fond of the technicolor side-effects these things brought on and hated yet another pill to swallow for the duration. Instead, I read that mixing baking soda in water will act as a natural pain reliever to get you over the hump if you feel a little uncomfortable in the nether regions. Thankfully I’ve only had to use this once in the last 6 years but it does work!

But Wait–There’s More!

Nagging cough? Dissolve 1 tablespoon of honey into 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and drink to quiet that tickle. Yes, it’s strong-tasting, but it’s still better than the artificial stuff on the drugstore shelf!

Nutmeg is a natural anti-inflammatory and can be taken in pill form just like the ginger–look in your local health foods store for this one.

An infusion of basil in hot water (you can even used dried basil for this! 1/4 cup water per 2 teaspoons basil and steeped for 10 minutes) helps reduce gas and bloating. 1 cup, twice a day for no more than 8 days in a row followed by a 2 week break. Just don’t lay on the basil if you’re pregnant.

What’s stocked in your kitchen medicine cabinet?

Music for your Health?

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We already discussed how music can exacerbate a tense situation or cocoon us during rough times, but can it really help heal our bodies as well as our spirits?

Many think it can.

I had a roommate who was a classical guitar composition major at FSU. I remember when I first moved in he asked if it would bother me if he practiced in the living room. Uh, not unless me listening would be a problem for you! I mean, really, twist my arm, here. But one of the summers I lived in that cute little house in a bad neighborhood (it helped that the roommate and his brother were both former Marines–instant safety boost!), Sam went up to Atlanta to work with a family friend who dealt in alternative therapies for cancer patients.

While this article is what started this train of thought (see what I mean about synchronicity?), it’s high on snark (nothing wrong with that) but a little shy on references. So I decided to do a little digging to see what I could come up with.

Music Therapy appears to be a growing industry–you can get degrees in it at Berklee College of Music or through FSU’s College of Music (and, I’m sure, others–those were just the first couple to pop up). Some still consider it a very alternative method of wellness-care and healing while others consider it one of many treatments that can not only improve mood but, as mood is tied to overall improvement, also improve the effectiveness of traditional treatments, like my roommate’s friend.

Okay, that’s high-level, doctor’s-type music therapy, but what about at home, recreational music therapy?

I know I benefit from having music on, it helps me to focus–usually. See, music choice is key to effective therapy. Like when I have a mountain of data entry to get through at work (possibly the most boring part of my job) I can usually power through it if I’ve got some fun power rock going on in the background (80s/90s hair bands being my rock of choice). And let’s just say that my Bejeweled Blitz score tends to be much higher when I’m listening to up-tempo music  (as this 2006 memo from Stanford would seem to predict is true for many).

At the same time, going back to the idea of fragility, some days that same fun, rocking music has the opposite effect, practically stultifying any sense of productivity or focus. During those times it’s beneficial to listen to more soothing music, say some of that New Age piano or a meditative CD, to reduce the stress hormones coursing through our bodies. Those same, dulcet tunes have also been shown to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, pain sensitivity and even the urge to scratch and itchy rash or skin disorder!

So, I guess the next time I have to go a week without Zyrtec for one of those annoying-but-necessary tests, I should keep my iPod close at hand!