The art of convalescence

“I want this to go away. I just want to be healthy again. I hate being sick”. Does this sound familiar? I speak of experience. Just had and survived Dengue fever. I was miserable, my head was pounding, I felt nauseous, I didn’t even have the strength to stay seated for a few days. All I wanted was for it to be “over”.

Yet, when the worst days were over, I began feeling something strangely comforting. I was happy to just lie there and do nothing. I was content not being in pain, eating small and nutritious meals, enjoying the odour of my essential oils again (for example Ginger when nauseous and Peppermint for clarity), being able to walk up the stairs without panting. This, my friends, is the convalescing period and it is the most important part in recovery.

08_convalescenceThere are several ways to support the immune system to get well again. First of all it’s the all but forgotten art of resting. Resting allows the body to aim its energies toward healing rather than using up precious resources to complete the latest deadline. If you need to be back at work, go to bed earlier. Eat nutritious food, you just need to listen to your body, it will tell you what you need; soups for example are a great way to ease the burden of digestion and nourish the body during convalescence.

Adjust your life-style to incorporate stress-reducing activities. This can be anything from a drawing class to practising Yoga or meditation, albeit for convalescences practice a gentle Yoga routine. Take a stroll in nature or practice Tai Chi. We are all different, do something you enjoy and make those necessary adjustments in life. And last but not least, saying thanks to our capacity to heal and be well again. Our immune system is the greatest gift we have been given. All we need to do is – to support it.

The most complete exercise system in the world is……?

  • Requirements: Space for a mat
  • Initial investment: classes with an appropriate and trained teacher.
  • Personal investment: self-motivation
  • Further investment (if needed): staying inspired through joining classes
  • Possible execution and results:
  1. Feeling more relaxed
  2. Feeling healthier, stronger and more flexible
  3. Skills for a self-adjusting personal routine
  • 41_Yoga Flow posess.a. cardio-vascular exercise (flow-sequences, e.g. sun salute)
  • calming routine
  • adjustable postures for personal health issues and needs
  • Feeling happy  and content

And the answer is: YOGA!

Lavender fields YL

Until yesterday, when I listened to the founder of Young Living essential oils, Gary Young, I just read about the seed to seal process and although very impressive I didn’t understand the full scope of what that actually means. Gary Young took the trouble to explain in minute detail – accompanied with photos, chemical charts and analytic data – the process of acquiring land, cultivating it, restoring balance to a stressed soil, which can take up to five years, the selection of the best seeds, planting and harvesting the herbs at the right time of the year – even the right time of the day – to distilling it. The whole presentation was backed up by research data and his personal learning journey throughout the last 28 years of cultivating these highly potent essential oils. He further elaborated on many of his personal experiences witnessing the power of these potent, highly concentrated oils. When I hold a bottle of these oils in my hand now, I understand the sweat, the research, the venturing into lands all over the world in search of the right piece of land (e.g. Frankincense in Somalia) that has gone into 15 ml of a substance that has incredible powers to restore balance in our body and I revere, honour and appreciate every single drop of it.


Create Joy in many ways

I am feeling absolutely wonderful. We are back to school with the one child and back into my rhythm of getting up at 5 am running stairs, doing resistance exercises and my Yoga early morning, subsequently I drink a slow-pressed veggie juice and a soaked nuts/seeds, flaxseed and soya smoothie.

LIMBIC SYSTEM v1.1This is followed by a wonderful feeling of well-being.  Observing some sort of routine including regular sleeping and waking pattern has always been the best recipe for good health to me. When I worked in the Bircher-Benner clinic in Zurich, the priority for ill patients was to establish a daily routine of waking up early (and going to bed early), eating holistic meals, exercising and being treated with various means including massage and homoeopathy.

Once in a while it is alright to change the pattern. I do that on holidays or if I need to go to functions, s.a. weddings. Here is where you can get some ideas how the Circadian rhythm influences a lot of physical as well as mental functions

As for me I don’t need a study to give me evidence of how rhythm affects my life, although there are quite a few. Today I feel great as I had the luxury to follow mine; tomorrow, we will see. There is always a possibility to switch on the happy and feel-good genes by exercising or simply put some “Joy” (an essential oil blend consisting of Bergamot, Lemon, Palmarosa, Ylang Ylang, Rose, Geranium, Jasmine, Roman Chamomile, Coriander and Tangerine) into my diffuser and let my limbic brain redirect my mood.

Oh “Dearian”

Over 22 years ago I had my first encounter with the “fruit of the other 34_Duriankind”. After I overcame the rather repulsive smell I actually liked the taste of it. As you might have guessed by now I am talking about none other than the Durian.The absolute adoration for this fruit of many Malaysians I know has always intrigued me.

Apparently Durian contains ample amount of vitamins. It is a good source of Dietary Fiber, Thiamin, Vitamin B6 and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin C. A serving of 243 g will contain about 20 g of fat, which is considered a high amount of fat among fruits, however it is free from saturated fats and cholesterol  and contains monounsaturated fats which are helping to reduce cholesterol level (Nutrition Facts).

So, Durian addicts out there, you can eat Durian guilt-free, it is packed with nutrients and gives you the healthy fats (obviously unadulterated in the Durian, as opposed to heated monounsaturated oils) which is lacking in a typical Malaysian diet that favours a lot of frying.

 As for me, after a feast of yesterday’s Durian brought into our apartment by my relentless husband I resolved to open all windows and doors after which I diffused an ample amount of peppermint, lemon and lavender. Although lovely in the mouth “the 44 odor-active compounds, which were reported for the first time in a natural product in the study of the smell of a Thai durian” (Durian Odor Study) still makes me want to hold my breath! ALLERGIES 1.1 (1)

A glorious day

33_sunrise KLIt was a glorious morning. A distance away lightning highlighted soft cottony clouds. Birds, grasshoppers and frogs greeted the slowly emerging sun together with me as I was doing Yoga watching the sky take on a gradually darker blue.

This isn’t some remote island I am talking about. I am looking out of my own bedroom windows in Kuala Lumpur. The landscape gardener of our condo did a marvellous job in creating green space so I can actually see native Malaysian birds flying around the vicinity of my windows.

It is a wonderful day, I bought herbs to plant out of my window and my daughter was strangely quiet when I diffused a mixture of essential oils called “peace and calm” in her bedroom last night. Seemingly unconnected these events are I believe that everything we do creates harmony that carries me forward if I choose to.

Yes it can be the other way around too. Those moments will pass as will everything else in our lives. So enjoy the moment of beauty and harmony and move through the other ones with grace and courage, well aware of the fact how fleeting life is.

I feel alive

I have been waiting patiently, fathoming the outcome of continuing what I was doing for another 10 years. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

Although life is constantly changing, we are so caught up in creating a safety net of habits that it appears that things stay the same. As if this is not already bad enough, as we age we are told and shown over and over that we 30_woman jumpingbetter hang on to what we have, for risking of losing it all. How can we not believe what seems such proof of evidence?

Yoga philosophy covers every aspect of mind and Maya is not only a beautiful name but also means illusion in Sanskrit  . We create a world of habits to feel safe, which doesn’t necessarily mean that we are safe. Nothing wrong with that as long as we are aware of the illusion…

And for the less philosophically inclined we can thank God that there are real people from whom we can learn courage and unlimited believes from, s.a. Louise Hays, who said “my life only began when I was 50” and began building an empire on positive believes, or Diana Nyad, who swam 102.5-mile journey from the island of Bimini (Bahamas) to Florida at age 64. 

The truth is, I have not felt so alive in a long time. I am finally practicing what I feel I came here for. There will always be the worries, but heck, I am going to give it a go and love my life while I am at it!

Rules for Thoughts of limitations

I am confronted with all kinds of limiting thoughts as I am in the process of rescheduling my work and classes, taking pictures, writing about what I believe in etc. The worst are the comparing thoughts; I don’t usually fare very well in them. So I established a few rules:

Rule No. 1If you have been trotting the earth for a whileDhanurasana w-ball_19-1-14Do not compare yourself to the lithe 20-year old in the advertisement depicting a Yoga pose to induce you to buy the latest wrinkle-cream.

As an after-thought, why don’t they depict the 80-year old BEFORE and AFTER using that same wrinkle cream (if it really works – that would make great advertisement)!

Rule No. 2 – If you are an ordinary being, juggling work, family, teaching, and studies – Do not compare yourself with Superman! Resources, i.e. energy may be limited, especially if you have been trotting the earth for a while! So – give yourself a break and go catch some sleep, even if not everything is done…

Rule No. 3 – If your body has average and not completely synchronized dimensions, only bends to a certain limit and might show a few dimplesDo not compare yourself with the model in the magazine!

However should you need a boost of self-confidence, feel free to photo-shop that latest photo, wearing body-hugging, skin-coloured tights. Or hire a good photographer, e.g. Andie Ringeisen, Reiki-Master and photographer who knows how to position you into the best possible light…

Complete trust

29_Cat TrustOne of our three cats, whom we rescued, shows us what complete trust means. She lies on her back, snuggling next to my daughter, paws over her face, completely exposing her belly. Besides looking the cutest she prompts me to contemplate when we last could trust someone so completely allowing us to expose our innermost vulnerability. We are so used to put up a front that it is hard at times to admit being vulnerable even to ourselves.

We live in a society that values success and youth. To admit failure takes courage and a willingness to show our weakest spot and then to get up and try again (Huffington Post). Scott Dinsmore devotes a chapter of his course LiveYourLegend to being vulnerable and states that to be truly living a life of passion we have to be completely honest with others and ourselves.

My cat doesn’t know failure or that growing old is anything but the course of nature. She knows she is safe with us and that’s what we need to be able to open up. For some people back-bends in Yoga are hard to do, as they require us to soften our heart and expose our frontal body with only the muscles to protect our inner organs and all they represent. I used to hate them, although I still did them until my teacher Desirée Rumbaugh showed me how to do them safely. I never looked back since then because the exquisite feelings of energy and strength are now accompanied by freedom of movement that I never experienced before.

The Fear of Not Being “good enough”

23a_pigeon pose with straps 27_simple pigeonhow many times have I had to take a deep breath because I felt I missed out or was too late for an opportunity or felt that I did not have the skills to compete. At such a moment I need to remind myself of the abundance in the Universe. Really there is enough for all of us. I also need to remind myself that everything I need to know is already within me.

Instead of feeling intimidated by the perfect yoga pose picture of the other teacher, I remember the many positive feed-backs and happy faces of my students when they, despite having health issues or not being the “flexy-bendy” type achieve a pose previously thought of as “unattainable”. They (and I) might not be able to touch the big toe to the back of the head in the full pigeon pose, but wow do they look graceful holding the strap and breathing fully as they mobilize the right muscle support in perfect alignment and balance!

With media depicting all these “perfect” people we tend to forget that 90% of us are as we are. Now the beauty is, that being normal, a bit older, having a pound or two more then that model in the magazine is no reason at all to prevent us of doing what we love and is certainly no reason to hold us back in any way. In case you are not convinced, watch this TED presentation with Diana Nyad, it will blow your mind!