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Mindfulness and the Mind’s Cycle of Stress

The Downward Spiral

Mindfulness is not a linear process. It’s not about getting anywhere or achieving a particular outcome. It’s a process, which some describe as a spiral. 

On autopilot, we tend to spiral downward into a self-perpetuating cycle of reactivity that goes something like this:

We encounter some event or stimulus, and it has a feeling tone: it’s either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral

If it’s neutral, the tendency is to dismiss or ignore it, but if it’s a strong feeling tone, it hijacks our attention and the mind fixates on it – giving rise to thoughts and emotions about it.

If it’s pleasant, the tendency is to try to hang on to it, while if it’s unpleasant, we tend to push it away or try to make it stop.

If we react un-skillfully, we may get temporary relief, but in the long term we develop maladaptive coping strategies and our resilience to discomfort dwindles. 

This self-perpetuating cycle can lead to chronic stress, depression and anxiety.

The Upwards Spiral

However, with Mindfulness, this downward spiral pattern can be disrupted. 

When we’re not in autopilot we can begin to spiral upward instead:

We encounter some event or stimulus and we are more awake, open and receptive to the internal and external experience of it.

As a result, we are more aware of strong feeling tones as they arise. With increased awareness, we are able to bring in attitudes of mindfulness (like a beginner’s mind, patience, kindness, etc.) which help prevent us from being hi-jacked.

There is room for choice as to where and how to place our attention and we understand that we are not our experiences.

This understanding creates space to observe experience objectively and to make choices about how to respond with more intention and skillfulness. 

Facebook Live Event

Tune in to our Facebook Page on Monday, Sept 14th at 7pm MT

Join Dr. Alda Ngo, Registered Doctor of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncturist and Mindfulness Instructor to explore how to stop the downward spiral of the mind’s self-perpetuating cycle of stress.

photo: Angela Glajcar

Mindfulness for Fertility: Fall Online Program

Mindfulness has many proven benefits for those struggling with fertility issues.

It has been shown to reduce the emotional burden of fertility treatments, increase resilience and wellness while decreasing anxiety and depression.

The MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) Program is the most well established and scientifically tested mindfulness program.

Join Dr Alda Ngo and Stephanie Curran for this 8 week Online MBSR for Fertility Program.

They have over 35 years combined clinical experience supporting fertility patients and they have both had their own experiences struggling to grow their own families.


Mandatory Orientation: Mon, Sept 28 (6-730PM PT | 7-830 MT)
Weekly classes: Mondays, Oct 5 – Nov 23 (6-830PM PT | 7-930 MT)
Day of Mindfulness Retreat: Sun, Nov 8 (9AM-3PM PT | 10AM-4PM MT)


By Donation
(during these uncertain times and with many experiencing significant financial strain)

To register:

Prenatal YogacuPressure


11:00am – 12:00pm

May 3 – June 7


Instructor: Sarah Kent
BA. Psychology
Certified Yoga Teacher


Studies show that yoga postures and acupuncture points help to decrease pregnancy pain and benefit pregnancy, labour and birth outcomes.

Join us for this special on-line 6 week series of Yoga and Acupressure to support mom’s changing body throughout pregnancy and to help prepare the body for labor.

This practice will focus on:

  • strengthening and energizing
  • relief of pregnancy pain
  • increasing flexibility
  • breathing & relaxation techniques
  • creating a calm environment for you & your growing baby

This class welcomes all stages of pregnancy and all levels of yogis, including beginners.


6 Classes: $120
drop-in: $25

Register on-line
A secure link will be sent to you upon registration.

Canadian Infertility Awareness Week | Free Events

April 19-25
2020 theme | We See You

We know that many of your fertility treatments have been put on hold.

We want to help you transform it into an opportunity to continue to optimize your overall health and fertility.

Throughout the week, we will offer free resources on our Social Media to support you through this uncertain time.

You can keep nourishing the soil before planting that seed.

You and your body will be ready when your treatments can resume.  

FREE Facebook Live Events Schedule

Monday, April 20th
w/ Dr. Ald
Registered Doctor of TCM | Acupuncturist | Mindfulness Instructor
Mindfulness decreases stress, calms the mind & helps you recover a sense of peace. All of which supports hormone balance and nourishes life.

Tuesday, April 21st

w/ Christina

Registered Acupuncturist | FABORM | Fertility Specialist
Learn simple ways to detox your home & body from harsh chemicals and hormone disruptors.

Wednesday, April 22nd

w/ Mykayla

Registered Acupuncturist | Yoga Teacher
Balancing postures & acupressure points to support hormone balance.

Thursday, April 23rd

w/ Alicia
Holistic Nutritional Consultant
A simple superfood approach to reducing inflammation in the body to support hormone balance. 

Friday, April 24th

w/ Sandra MacLean
Registered Clinical Counsellor | Masters in Counselling Psychology | Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist
Join Dr. Alda & Clinical Counsellor, Sandra in their conversation about how to connect with your partner under the extra pressures of home quarantine.

Click the links below to watch Live Events on Facebook or the Replays:




A regular yoga practice offers many health benefits to both the mind and body. Yoga practice provides a refuge from our busy stressful lives.

Physical Benefits:

  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Muscle tone
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Circulation
  • Physical endurance
  • Lung capacity
  • Weight reduction
  • Pain and injury prevention
  • Anti-inflammatory

The mental and spiritual aspects are extremely valuable; yoga can help with stress management and calmness. It can help alleviate depression, insomnia and anxiety as well.

We offer both group yoga sessions as well as one-on-one personalized yoga.

Our instructors are additionally trained in fertility and prenatal yoga as well as acupressure as an effective adjunct.

Contact us for more information.

SuperMoon Sleep

There was a supermoon a couple of nights ago, which means that the full moon was the nearest that it comes to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. This doesn’t happen often, and results in the moon appearing bigger and brighter than usual.

What an object of intrigue the moon is, with its clear influence over our oceanic tides, we have long been mystified about its influence over our own biological tides –  particularly our sleep and mental-health patterns.

Are you as pooped as I am? Maybe from overall mental-emotional exhaustion, or the inability to be as active in quarantine? All I know is that I didn’t sleep well that supermoon night, after finding myself mysteriously crying as we read ‘Rocks and Minerals of Canada’ at bedtime.

While ER staff swear that the full moon on their nightshift will bring increased lunacy and accidents, studies have found no such correlations.

However, the full moon has been correlated to subjects requiring an extra 5 minutes to fall asleep, a 30% decrease of deep sleep and a decrease in endogenous melatonin levels. One study was conducted under strictly controlled conditions, eliminating exposure and awareness of lunar cycles.

This study points toward an endogenous circalunar rhythm, similar to the circadian (daily) and circannual (seasonal) rhythms.

We are reminded of our human connectedness more than ever right now, and the bigger picture rhythms to which we are beholden.

Supermoon or not friends, try to sleep well. Sleep and the circadian system regulate immunological processes. I know it’s tempting to stay up late these days, but something magical happens in the early hours of nocturnal sleep, when certain immune responses are initiated, playing a role in the formation of immunological memory.

Are you having trouble with sleep? What sleep hygiene routines help you?

Do you have any questions about how we can help you with sleep?

Contact us to chat about it.


DOI link:

PMID: 22071480

Together While Socially Distancing: Free E-Health Events

We are aware that it’s extra important for our WELLBEING as humans to remain socially CONNECTED as we are physically distanced.

Especially as we are collectively experiencing the stress and anxiety of this extraordinary time.

We really are in this

Please join us for the following  

Facebook Live Events:

March 23rd & 30th


Calming postures & acupressure points
for everyone. 

w/ Mykayla
Registered Acupuncturist & Yoga Teacher 

March 24th


Balancing postures & acupressure points
to support fertility.

w/ Mykayla
Registered Acupuncturist & Yoga Teacher

March 25th & April 1st


Breathing & bringing presence & resilience into these times.  

w/ Dr. Alda
Registered Doctor of TCM, Acupuncturist & Mindfulness Instructor 

March 31st

What you can do during home isolation to keep supporting your fertility.  

w/ Christina
Registered Acupuncturist & Fertility Specialist 

April 2nd

Learn what foods help to boost your immune system. Alicia will share an easy recipe that you can prepare at home.  

w/ Alicia
Holistic Nutritional Consultant

Click on the Link Below to Access These Events

Year of the White Metal Rat

Happy Lunar New Year! Or ‘Chuc Mung Nam Moi!’ in Vietnamese…

It’s the year of the White Rat (or Mouse)

This industrious and resourceful little cutey is the first of the Lunar Zodiac signs and brings us to the beginning of a brand new 12-year cycle, setting the pace, framework and direction of the next 12 years.

The tiniest of all the 12 zodiac animals, our little rodent friend’s agility, quick-wittedness and smarts allowed it to win the Jade Emperor’s race to determine the zodiac’s order.

The story is that the little mouse cleverly hitched a ride on the ox to cross some river rapids before surreptitiously jumping over the ox’s head to cross the finish line first.

This year of the White Metal Rat is about cutting through ignorance and seeing clearly to overcome obstacles. It also initiates us into a new 60-year cycle, which marks the beginning of a new era. It’s said to be an auspicious time to start and progress new projects with great energy.

On the eve of the Lunar New Year, one of my family’s rituals has been to clean our house – our body extended – to invite the new year with freshness and clarity. We don’t ever want to do any sweeping on new year’s day, for fear of sweeping out all the good luck!

We also continue to make offerings in gratitude to our blood, land and spiritual ancestors, seeing that we are a continuation of all of their skill, practice, hard work, compassion and love. We practice seeing that without them, we would not have this opportunity to transform and continue beautifully into each day.

What are some of your new year’s rituals?

For more nutritional tidbits and recipes, follow us on Instagram @wholefamilyhlth for our Foodie Fridays Posts

Contact Us now to book your free 15-minute phone Q&A with one of our natural health experts.

Autumn: Allowing our Leaves to Drop

Autumn is a transitional season. It is a time of harvest, a time to pull inward, to gather, fuel and store up for the winter. Nature’s energies contract inward from summer’s activities to prepare for winter’s hibernation. Death and decay fall to the ground to become nourishment for the Spring.

In Chinese Medicine, Autumn is associated with the Metal element. Just like precious metals, which are formed deep within the earth under extreme temperatures and pressures, our Metal element is about the refinement of the essence of our being deep within and under the pressures of life challenges.

Emotionally, it is associated with grief and sadness, which when expressed and properly resolved, strengthens us. However, when there is resistance to grief, and it becomes repressed, it can cause contraction – particularly in the lung and large intestine systems. A healthy Metal system fills and empties, allowing for space to receive what life has to offer next.

Autumn is a time to allow our leaves to drop, which in a way leaves us vulnerable to winter’s harsh cold. But this vulnerability ultimately strengthens us, as letting our leaves fall allows us to go deep into our roots through the winter. Deeply rooted, we are protected and here we can be still and rest. So we can conserve our energy that it may collect with potential and rise full force with Spring’s freshness to begin anew again.

Do you have some leaves to drop? Can we help you release some of the stagnation that has accumulated throughout the year?

We can help! Book a free 15-minute phone consult if you have any questions.

I am 1 in 4

October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

1 in 4 experience pregnancy loss. Thousands of empty-armed parents grieve the loss of their child in pregnancy, at birth or in infancy per year in Canada.

They often grieve on their own, isolated in silence. Because the cultural & social infrastructure to support them is lost in the stigma of the death of their children. The stigma is rooted in our silence.

It wasn’t until I miscarried … twice … each time after trying to conceive for at least a few years.. words can’t describe the happiness & hope I felt with those + pregnancy tests! My love for baby grew each day & week & month along with my breasts, nausea & fatigue. It wasn’t until I lost both pregnancies in a row, that I learned that everyone I knew had either had a miscarriage or was close to someone who had had a miscarriage.

It wasn’t until I helped my dear friend birth her daughter still, and saw her daughter’s lovingly bathed and dressed still little body.. only for my friend to return home to an empty nursery with empty aching arms but heart full of love and nowhere physical to pour it into. Breasts full of milk & no body to nourish…

It wasn’t until I met my other dear friend on one of her first outings, months after she still-birthed her full term son. We went to her local coffee shop, only to be greeted by the young teenaged barista who had watched her belly grow to term, excitedly asking my friend where her baby was…

It wasn’t until these moments that I touched the immeasurability of this kind of grief. And my heart grows with understanding and love for all who ride these waves of grief & sadness & anger & love.. & more..

Is there a particular moment you remember that could help others to understand the depth of your experience? Maybe if we all feel it together – at least for a moment – we can help you to bear the weight of your heart’s sadness… so you don’t have to carry it all by yourself…

Please contact us if you or someone you know needs support with moving through the loss of still birth, infant loss, recurrent pregnancy loss or infertility.

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