Categories > Mindfulness

How To Stop Our Horse-Powered Minds

What To Do How To Be In The New Year

The new year brings opportunity for beginning anew. It’s a returning, where ending meets beginning and we have a chance to take inventory on what has come to pass. We can examine what has worked and what has not worked. We can reflect on what we wish to thank and bid adieu to. We can recognize what seeds we wish to plant and grow in the coming year.

It’s a time for resolutions and setting intentions. In the past, I’ve made resolutions to read more, do more yoga, ride my bike to work, go to bed early, stop eating gluten, floss every day, and the list goes on… I have had some success, but I’ve also put a lot of pressure on myself with these long lists of expectations…

This year I am going to keep it more simple. The last thing I need is one more thing to do. So I am going to try to remember to be.

Where Are We Going Going Going in Such A Hurry?

It happens more often than I would like. When I find myself hurrying into a room and suddenly wondering, “Wait, why did I come in here?”

There is an ancient Eastern story about a person on a horse. The horse is galloping speedily and it appears that the person is on their way somewhere important. As they pass another person standing on the side of the road, this bystander asks, “Where are you going in such a hurry?”  And the person on horseback replies, “I don’t know! Ask the horse!”

Mindfulness meditation teachers explain that this is like many of us. We are going, going, going, we don’t know where we are going, and we can’t stop.

The horse is our habit energy, pulling us along and we are powerless. We keep going and running and struggling and it has become a habit.

Stop The Horse:

1.    Stop to breathe

They don’t call it horsepower for nothing. The horse, our habit energy is strong. Its running is part of our primitive brain’s functioning and has been critical for survival as we have evolved. The threat of danger is different now though. It’s no longer a sabre-toothed tiger, but our day to day social and financial stressors.

Our breath is an anchor: an autonomic bodily function that is always happening, whether we are aware of it or not. When we are attentive to our breathing, our mind is reunited with our body. At the same time, we are also flexing our brain’s muscle for concentration and higher cognitive thinking. It’s the part of our brain that can take control of the reins, to calm and to stop the horse.

Imagine walking around with a dumbbell all day and flexing the bicep whenever remembering to do so. That bicep, over time would build, becoming strong and ready to support and stabilize us in the midst of any adverse event.

The pre-frontal cortex is the same. Breath awareness actually makes this part of the brain grow bigger, giving us the ability to maintain self-regulation and control in the face of strong habit energies and emotions. It allows us to tame the horse.

2.    Stop to calm


Once we have practiced with stopping to breathe, we can practice with stopping to calm our body and our emotions. It is impossible to calm down without stopping first.

When our horse is spooked and caught in an emotional storm, it cannot see clearly and it can kick, trample, and hurt itself or those around it. Similarly, when we are having a strong emotion, we lack the clarity that we need to stop ourselves from making rash decisions or taking action that we later regret.

When our ability to stop and breathe is strong, we are able to stop and calm ourselves as we practice recognizing and accepting our strong emotions. It’s not about denying these difficult emotions, it’s about making space to calmly accept and be with what is coming up for us in the moment.

When we are calm enough, we are also able to look deeply into the roots of these difficult emotions and understand what has brought them about, rather than be carried away by them.  More often than not, the strong feelings are a function of how we are perceiving things.

When we have the space to look deeply at all of the various causes and conditions leading to our difficult emotions, we are able to view the situation from more perspectives. This allows us to have the insight to know what we can do or stop doing in order to move through the difficult situation.

When we are able to stop and calm the horse, there is increased capacity to view the landscape to better lead and direct the horse.

3.    Stop to rest


After calming ourselves and the horse, we must take rest. Calming allows us to rest, which is a precondition for healing. When animals are wounded, they find a place to lie down and rest, sometimes staying there for days.

When our minds or bodies are wounded, we tend to want to make the issue go away. Our habit energy is to resist uncomfortable situations.

We must practice to rest in order to allow our bodies and minds to be with and heal these wounds. Resting and healing is not something that we ‘do’. We tend to want to attain, so when we want to rest, we might go on vacation perhaps to the beach or to the mountains. But sometimes we return from holidays more tired!

Taking rest is to stop doing and to be. It shouldn’t be a struggle or an attainment, nor should it be tiring. Our bodies and minds have the innate capacity to heal themselves, so when we stop, calm and rest, we are making space for our bodies to take good care of our wounds.

4.    Stop to internalize the positive


Our minds are made up of our experiences. The flow of our experience shapes our brain, our mind and who we are.

Unfortunately, our brains have a negative bias. The brain has evolved to preferentially scan for unpleasant threatening experiences, because it helps to protect and preserve us from danger.

What this means is that even if our positive experiences outnumber our negative ones, our negative memories pile up faster.

The remedy? Well it isn’t to suppress or even avoid negative experiences, but to pay extra attention to positive ones.

If we stop and take a moment to be really present with our pleasant experiences, they get integrated into our implicit memory and become a permanent part of who we are.

How To Cultivate The Positive

First.

Don’t let the good stuff go unnoticed. Look for it – kindness, wonder, something beautiful or gratifying, a pleasant sensation, whatever it may be … open up to it and take it in.

Second.

I mean really take it in and savour the experience, focussing on your emotions and body sensations.

Dwell in the experience for at least 5-20 seconds. The longer it is held in your awareness, the more emotionally stimulating it is, the more neurons will fire and wire together, creating a stronger memory.

Third.

Imagine the experience sinking deeply into your mind and body, like the warmth of the sun.

Stop, breathe, calm, rest and relax your body so that the experience can be absorbed and integrated in the form of emotions, sensations and thoughts.

Stop And Be And Take It In

I have enough things to do on my list already!

So basically, my New Year’s aspiration is to invite moments of remembering to Stop and Be.

An act of non-action.

They don’t have to be big moments. They can be small and simple everyday moments. A flutter in a breeze, the warmth and aroma of my tea, the sound of someone’s laughter…

Stopping to take a breath, to invite calm and rest and to internalize the nourishing stuff that is around and available to me in every moment.

To take in life’s beauty and wonder and to make room for it to grow in me.

What are some of life’s beautiful experiences that have touched you and that you have welcomed to become a part of yourself?

Book in for a free 15-minute phone Q&A to learn more about how we can help you with stress and your racing mind.

RGE RD Chef Blair’s Movember Mindful Cooking Class Recipe

Braised grass-fed beef | black garlic-hemp seed coulis
Farro | lentils | leeks | carrots | hubbard squash | apple
Squash & kale salad | cayenne mignonette
Warm tomatoes | toasted walnuts & pumpkin seeds

For all those who missed out on our Mindful Cooking Class with Chef Blair at RGE RD here is the recipe.

Don’t miss out on our next demonstration and taste of a Mindful Recipe with Chef Blair. It was such a hit, we’ll be co-hosting more!

To stay tuned, sign up for our Newsletter Updates!

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

Grass-fed beef | Tandria Dexter or Nature’s Green Acres are great 2 oz/person ~ 8 oz total
1/2 cup beef tallow (or grape seed/ canola oil)

Black garlic coulis
Yields 1 cup (about 225 ml)

2 bulbs (50 grams) – black garlic
1/2 cup (125 ml) – vegetable stock or water
2 tsp (10ml) – sherry or cider vinegar
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) – lemon juice
1/2 oz (15 grams) – hemp seeds
1 tsp (5 ml) – kosher salt (maybe a bit more to taste) 1/2 – shallot
1 tsp (5 ml) – hot sauce

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend. Wipe down sides with spatula and re-blend until smooth and thickened.

Farro
1 cup farro
3 cups water
2 tsp salt

Rinse farro with water and add to the 3 cups water in a pot. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the grains are tender, about 25 minutes.  Add salt after farro is cooked.


Lentils
1 cup lentils
3 cups water
2 tsp salt

Rinse the lentils with water and add them to a pot with the 3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the lentils are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add the salt after lentils are cooked.

Vegetables
1/2 medium sized Hubbard squash (blue hubbard or red october are great)
2 carrots (peeled and diced small)
1 leek (washed, green top trimmed off, thinly sliced)
2 – 3 Tbs beef tallow or canola oil
half cored apple diced

Cut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and discard them. Peel the squash (probably with a knife because the skin is tough) and use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons for the salad. Dice the rest of the squash.


Cherry tomatoes
Slice tomatoes in half, sprinkle with a little salt and warm slightly in oven until juices are bubbling.

Cayenne mignonette
2 Tbs pickled cayenne (or other pickled pepper like banana peppers)
1/2 cup riesling vinegar (white wine vinegar)
1/2 shallot
dash of salt

Combine and blend ingredients together.

Squash & kale salad
1 handful Squash ribbons
1 handful Kale (washed and torn into bite sized pieces)
2-3 Tbs Cayenne mignonette
1 tsp salt

Toss kale and squash in cayenne mignonette and salt. Massage the mignonette into the kale and squash. Then let stand and marinate while preparing the rest of the meal.

Nuts
1 handful pumpkin seeds
1 handful walnuts
1 handful hemp seeds

Dry roast pumpkin seeds and walnuts in a pan or in the oven at 350 F. Once toasted, sprinkle with beef tallow or vegetable oil and salt to taste. Break walnuts into smaller pieces once toasted.

Herbs
2 tbsp of mixed parsley, thyme, sage (finely chopped)

Assembling & Plating

Cook the grass-fed beef your favourite way (grill, pan sear or braise)

Heat large sauté pan to medium and add 2-3 Tbsp of beef tallow or oil.

Add carrots, leeks, diced squash. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring as needed.

Add pre-cooked lentils and farro and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add ¼ cup of water or vegetable stock. Then add apple, chopped nuts and herbs, stirring to incorporate all ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice beef if necessary.

Lay out 4 plates, spread 1 Tbsp of black coulis on the plate and place 2oz of beef on top of it. Divide the vegetable mixture evenly among the 4 plates, and divide kale and squash salad between the 4 plates. Sprinkle with hemp seeds. Garnish with warm tomatoes.

Mindfully Enjoy

Sit down to enjoy your meal.
Take in the colours and aromas. Reflect with gratitude on all of the hard loving work that has gone into bringing this food onto your plate. 
Chew slowly and take in the textures and flavours. Savour it!

Ingredient magic

Colourful vegetables | anti-oxidants
Prevents cellular and DNA damage | cancer | cardiovascular disease | diabetes | infertility

Grass-Fed Beef | omega-3
Lowers risk of heart disease | stroke | diabetes | depression | infertility

Farro | anti-inflammatory | prebiotic
Reduces risk of heart disease | stroke | obesity | type 2 diabetes | infertility Increases regularity | absorption
Supports mental health via the gut-brain axis

Black garlic (fermented) | probiotic
Supports digestion | immunity | serotonin secretion
Reduces anxiety | depression

Nuts & Seeds | Omega-3 | protein | antioxidant | fibre
Reduces blood sugar | cholesterol | blood pressure
Lowers risk of heart disease | stroke
Supports brain function | cell growth

To find out about our next Mindful Event, sign up for our newsletter updates here.

WFH on Global TV

We are floored by Edmonton’s response to the Mindful Eating for Men Cooking Class that we will be co-hosting on Dec. 1st with Chef Blair Lebsack from Edmonton’s popular farm-to-table restaurant RGE RD.

Check out yesterday’s conversation with Kent Morrison from Global:

https://globalnews.ca/video/6215189/mindful-eating-for-mens-health

First of all, men’s health is a topic dear to us. Because we specialize in reproductive health, we come across a lot of interesting data. Canadian men die on average 6 years earlier than women, and research shows that sperm counts have decreased by 50-60% in the last 40 years. This rate of decline is steady and research also tells us that sperm are a biomarker of overall health.

So because none of us women at Whole Family Health can grow a moustache, we wanted to create our own ‘Mo’ment’ in honour of Movember. We also know the way to any person’s heart is through their belly – so we teamed up with RGE RD and our Mindful Eating for Men Cooking Class was born!

It has been a delight teaming up with RGE RD to talk about and to plan this event. Together, we have sparked so many delicious conversations about bringing awareness into our relationship with food and cultivating connection with our food.

We’ve been exploring the benefits of knowing and appreciating where our food comes from, what has gone into bringing it onto our plates, how to intentionally prepare it and then how to really really savour it.

So although we love looking at the research to inform us WHAT foods to incorporate and eliminate for disease prevention, we also want to empower everyone to think about WHY we’re eating, HOW we’re eating, WHEN we’re eating and WHERE we’re eating.

Basically this all translates into enjoying our food, rather then restricting our food.

Eating mindfully also involves savouring our food and being present with it through all of our senses – textures, flavours, smells, visual beauty and even sounds! Research shows that avoiding distraction increases the body’s absorptive capacity.

We have had the delight and honour of engaging with numerous media outlets on the topic this month.

Check out yesterday’s conversation with Kent Morrison from Global:

https://globalnews.ca/video/6215189/mindful-eating-for-mens-health

The Skinny on Fats

There’s been a huge controversy about fats over the years. Do you remember the 20th century low-fat boom, which was later debunked?

With all the polarized ideas about health out there, it’s hard to know exactly what is best and it’s increasingly difficult to navigate what “healthy” means.

When it comes right down to it, on a scientific level we can deduce that there are certain vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy living.

Among these nutrients are indeed fats and oils. Fats are needed for the assimilation of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. 

In colder climates fats can be beneficial for supplying deep, internal heat. Fats help to insulate and protect the internal organs while holding them in place.

From a Chinese Medicine standpoint, fats support our yin energy- providing comfort, security, and a slowing and grounding influence.  Much like our winter energies that drive us to seek inner warmth, to look inwards, and to store our physical energy.

Fats not only build tissues, they also enhance fluid metabolism, and send nutrients into the nervous system.  The predominantly yin aspect of fat is then converted into substantive yang, by providing the body with physical energy and warmth. This is why fats are highly valued in the human diet, we all need to feel secure & comforted. We also like to have ample amounts of energy and warmth while slowing down. 

Fats: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

There are many different kinds of fat out there and not all fats are the same. In fact not all fats are good for us. Fats can be broken down into two categories: Saturated and Unsaturated.

What Are Saturated Fats

Saturated fats primarily come from animal products such as cheese, butter, eggs, and meat products. These fats are solid at room temperature and generally have a high smoke point. They have the fewest rancidity problems of all the oils, making them beneficial for cooking.

What Are Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated Fats come from plants, animals, nuts and seeds. These oils are liquid at room temperature and can be further broken down into Monounsaturated fats, and Polyunsaturated fats.

What are Trans-Fats

Trans Fatty Acids are found in margarine, shortening, and vegetable oils. The process of hydrogenation to create these substances is particularly harmful as it creates an immune-damaging synthetic fat that elevates blood cholesterol. The FDA actually banned trans-fats in 2018, but they can still be found in some products manufactured before this date.

Fats and Fertility

The most important fats to focus on for fertility are polyunsaturated fats.  These fats contain “essential” fatty acids (EFA’s) that the body is unable to make on its own and so must obtain from our diet.

These essential fatty acids include Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA work to mutually support each other and play a vital role in our health and well being. 

EPA helps to reduce blood viscosity & clotting, lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation and prevents ischemia (ie. strokes and heart attacks).

DHA plays other vital roles in the body like supporting brain development and growth.

Omega 3’s have also been known to improve the health of our skin, nails and hair. It is also found in sperm.

EFA’s are also converted into prostaglandins, which play a key role in the function and regulation of every organ and cell in the body.

EFA/DHA and Sperm

Dietary effects on fertility are continually being researched and studied. Many studies in recent years have tested the theory of EFA’s and its effect on male fertility.

Studies show a strong correlation between low DHA concentration and low sperm quality.

Healthy sperm is dependent on the amount of EFA’s present in the diet. Fatty acid consumption has actually been found to change the fatty acid composition of sperm and semen quality. An increase in sperm membrane DHA in humans has been recorded and has been associated with higher sperm motility, normal morphology, as well as increased concentration of sperm.

Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish with the highest amount of EPA/DHA are  salmon, mackerel and sardine. Other great sources are herring, anchovy, rainbow trout, and tuna. Capsule forms of fish oils can also be found at most supplement stores and here at Whole Family Health.

Recommended dosages of fish products: Seven to ten ounces of fish per week is sufficient or 500-1000mg of omega-3 fish oil in supplement form.

Flaxseed oil is another great plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. It is important to find sources that have not been processed with exposure to light or oxygen.

Recommended dosages of flax products: four tablespoons of ground flaxseed (flaxmeal) freshly ground or bought in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated, with meals once daily; or one tablespoon of fresh flax oil taken with meals once daily.

Want to learn more about healthy eating for men’s health? Join us December 1st for a Mindful Eating for Men Cooking Class at Rge Rd. All proceeds go to Movember.

Check out our Events page or call 587-200-5589 to register, space is limited!

References:

Diet and men’s fertility: does diet affect sperm quality?Nassan, Feiby L. et al.
Fertility and Sterility, Volume 110, Issue 4, 570 – 577

Dietary Fatty Acids Affect Semen Quality: a Review V. Esmaeili-A. Shahverdi-M. Moghadasian-A. Alizadeh – Andrology – 2015

Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School: The truth about fats: the good, the bad and the in-between.Feb 2015

Pitchford, Paul.  Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. 3rd ed., North Atlantic Books, 2002.

Antioxidants For Men

Men! Let’s have a real conversation about your diet. This should not induce stress, and if it does… Then good! This means you know you can do better! Let’s talk about antioxidants in relation to your diet.  

What Exactly Are Antioxidants? 

We hear this buzz word used constantly, but do we actually understand the science of it?

An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, which leads to chain reactions that damage cells. In short, antioxidants prevent cellular damage.

When our bodies can’t keep up with the number of free radicals that are accumulating, it enters a state of oxidative stress. Over time, this can cause a lot of harm and eventually lead to things like cancer, heart disease, cataracts and even autoimmune disorders.(1) Some Factors that can contribute to oxidation include, stress, smoking, alcohol, pollution and poor diet.

What Can We Do To Combat Oxidative Stress?

Well for starters we can eat more antioxidant foods that will kick butt against free radicals. They say to eat the rainbow, because the phytochemicals that are responsible for the pigmentation in colourful plants are also highly antioxidant. Some examples of foods high in antioxidants include: (2)

  1. Tomatoes
  2. Green Tea
  3. Blueberries
  4. Dark Chocolate
  5. Artichokes
  6. Raspberries
  7. Kale
  8. Beans
  9. Beets
  10. Goji Berries

The Tomato & Its Super-Antioxidant Powers

I love Italian Cuisine and want to touch more on tomatoes. They are versatile, they have amazing flavour and they have the potential to help prevent cancer.

Tomatoes are part of the carotenoid family and contain lycopene, which is what gives the tomato its red pigmentation. Research shows that this colour molecule is what also gives the tomato its cancer fighting properties.

Tomatoes are specifically beneficial for addressing prostate cancer (3) and recent reviews correlate 9-21mg/day of lycopene to a 9% increase in prostate cancer prevention.(5) Another recent study links high levels of beta carotene in tomatoes with tumor supressing effects in prostate cancer.(4)

What more incentive to include these juicy red balls of joy into your life?

It’s empowering to think that we can have a direct affect on our bodies and boost our bodies’ abilities to fight diseases like cancer. Although more and more research is always needed, it’s definitely exciting that current studies are finding positive results with this red fruit. Tomatoes are very accessible and easy to incorporate into salads and sauces.

Empower Yourself with Colourful Veggies

The take home here is that we want to include antioxidant rich foods. I have outlined the tomato, but variety is the spice of life to your health. Remember to eat the rainbow, as all colourful vegetables are highly antioxidant.

November is Men’s health awareness month. The more we continue to talk about cancer, diabetes, infertility, depression and other common men’s health diseases, the more awareness we bring to these issues and the more we can advocate for their prevention.

We can positively lower our risk of disease through increasing our intake of antioxidant foods. So eat your tomats and talk to your peeps. Keep eating all those healthy colourful antioxidants!

Join us for our Mindful Eating for Men Cooking Class on Dec 1st with Chef Blair Lebsack from RGE RD. All proceeds go to Movember!

Check out our Events Page for more info or Call to Register today.

  1. Pham-Huy LA1, He H, Pham-Huy C, 2008 Jun;4(2):89-96, Int J Biomed Sci. Free Radicals, antioxidants in disease and health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23675073
  2. Monica H Carlsen, et al. 2010; 9: 3. Published online 2010 Jan 22. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-3.The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841576/
  3. Graff RE et al. 2016 Mar;103(3):851-60. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.118703. Epub 2016 Jan 27.Dietary lycopene intake and risk of prostate cancer defined by ERG protein expression. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26817504
  4. Gong X1 et al. 2016 Oct;14(10):966-975. Epub 2016 Jul 12.Mitochondrial β-Carotene 9′,10′ Oxygenase Modulates Prostate Cancer Growth via NF-κB Inhibition: A Lycopene-Independent Function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27406826
  5. Chen P, et al. 2015, Medicine Baltimore. Lycopene and risk of Prostate Cancer: A Systemic Review and Meta- Analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26287411

What is Mindful Eating


Mindful eating is not just about choosing healthy foods and understanding why some foods are healthier than others. It’s also about having a connection with our food, knowing and appreciating where our food comes from, what has gone into bringing it onto our plates, preparing it with intention and then of course savouring it!

It’s not just about what we are eating, it’s also about how we are eating, why we are eating, when we are eating, where we are eating and how much we are eating.

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, there is no point in eating healthy food if the body is unable to absorb the nutrients properly. Being present with our food as opposed to multi-tasking while we’re eating allows the body to focus its attention on digesting and transforming the food into energy.

Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly not only facilitates this process, it also allows us to truly savour our food. Researchers have found that being present with the flavour and texture of food and reflecting on the purpose of each bite as we relish it can improve assimilation and help address obesity.

When we really savour our food, we bring awareness to the taste and texture of our food, increasing satisfaction and satiation. This ultimately translates into eating less and enjoying more, which contributes to overall health and wellbeing.

Stress Negatively Impacts Digestion

Studies conclude that stress negatively impacts the GI tract by disrupting GI movement, increasing visceral irritability, altering the rate and extent of various GI secretions, modifying permeability of the intestinal barrier, disrupting blood flow and increasing intestinal bacterial counts.

We live such fast paced lives, eating becomes an auto-pilot activity. We tend to unconsciously take one bite after another without much attention. Often, we are multi-tasking as we eat, dining in lunch meetings, while surfing the Internet, or checking our social media and text messages. When we do this, our body is unable to invest as much energy into the digestive process, which becomes less efficient.

Mindful Eating Supports Digestion

But when we slow down, we are more in touch with what foods feel healthy to eat vs. what foods we think are healthy to eat. We’re also in touch with how much food our body really needs, and/or why we are eating it.  

Mindfulness stimulates the relaxation response, allowing our bodies to shift into the parasympathetic nervous system and the ‘rest and digest’ mode. Here, our bodies can focus on absorption and more effective assimilation of nutrients.

Want to Learn More?

On Dec. 1st, we are teaming up with Chef Blair Lebsack at Edmonton’s popular restaurant Rge Rd to co-host a Mindful Eating for Men Cooking Class. Come and learn how easy it is to eat healthily and mindfully. Chef Blair will demonstrate how to transform beautiful raw ingredients into a delectably healthy meal while we enlighten you on the health benefits of it all. Then you get to taste it, and take a Rge Rd recipe home. All proceeds will go Movember.

Check our events page for more info or to register call 780-756-7736.
Space is limited!

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.

Yoga for Fertility

Does Yoga Help Fertility?

Lately I have been coming across many people that are interested in the benefits that yoga may have for them on their fertility journey. From the direct experience of my personal yoga practice, I have noticed positive changes in my own stress levels and emotional well being. So, what are the benefits that a fertility focused yoga practice has you ask? Here are some interesting facts:

A 2015 study looked at the effect yoga had on anxiety and women going through fertility treatments. The researchers found that after taking a 6 week yoga program, anxiety scores of participants were significantly lower in the yoga group than in the control group.

This 2018 study found the full scope of yoga postures, breathing techniques, and meditation to be beneficial in stress management as couples went through assisted reproductive techniques. The same study found yoga was helpful to reduce pain and decrease anxiety and stress in couples going through IVF.

Yoga taps into the parasympathetic nervous system and our “rest and digest” functions. Throughout the yoga practice, the body is able to relax and this allows for a shift in the nervous system that increases circulation throughout the body which is so beneficial in all aspects of health.

Fertility focused yoga emphasizes a slower and more restorative practice that provides the space for the body and mind to connect on a more subtle level. It’s a beautiful combination of body, breath, and mind that will leave you with a deep sense of comfort!

I would love to see you on the mat!

Register now!
For our upcoming 6-week YogaPuncture for Fertility series
Thursdays, Sept 19 – Oct 24
6:15 – 7:15pm
$150

Moving Forward From Pregnancy Loss: 4 Things That Help

October is Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Month, and in honor of heartbroken parents, blessed little lost ones, and all dear folk touched by this grief, we recognize this all too commonly shared experience.

We all process this kind of loss in our own way, and in our own time. One of life’s humbling mysteries – sometimes there is an explanation, and other times there is not. Either way, we are left to grapple with that which we don’t have control over, and to practice with somehow making peace with it, while sorting out how to move forward.

Often losses can be isolating, held close and private, locked in the silent hope of the first trimester. Hopefully to be spoken of later, perhaps when a little less emotionally raw.

While later term losses or stillbirths may be collectively grieved; empty-armed parents, navigating how to move forward at the mercy of often unpredictable waves of emotion. Moving through a life unchanged and yet forever changed – buoyed or sunken by the community’s varying depth of understanding and expectation.

It is said that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage by age 35, and once we start talking about it, we realize that everyone knows at least one person who has suffered a loss- if they haven’t experienced one themselves.

What does life after loss look like? There is no right or wrong way to grieve, we all do it in our own way and in our own time. Some of us are de-railed for a short time, and others of us never quite ‘get over it.’ Some of us need potato chips, while some of us need long walks, or both. Whatever it may be, allow the time and space to be with it in whatever way works best.

Here are some things that will help in the wake of pregnancy loss:

1. Breathe. Studies show that Mindful breathing exercises shift us out of fight or flight and activate our pre-frontal cortex- which is responsible for higher executive functioning. This supports our recovery from traumatic events and helps us to be present with and to integrate these experiences in a healthy way.

Mindfulness allows us to have the perspective we need to see our way through difficult times, without avoiding or being completely high-jacked by the negative impacts of the associated stress. Accessing resources like a Mindfulness class or a Mindfulness App like Headspace have far-reaching benefits.

2. Nourish and renew. Pregnancy loss and stillbirth can be draining both physically and emotionally. Eat replenishing foods, that are nutrient-rich and tonifying. Try to stay away from refined and processed foods, while gravitating toward a whole foods diet.

Stick to warm and cooked meals, especially in the colder seasons. These are more easily digested, and your body doesn’t have to work as hard to metabolize them. Bone broths, which are rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals are easily absorbed, rehydrating, and fortifying.

3. Follow up. Follow up with your doctor. Especially if bleeding or pain persists or if your energy levels are slow to recover. Your doctor can run standard blood-work to check on hormone and iron levels after a loss. He or she can also determine if there is any indication for ultrasound imaging to ensure that no pregnancy products remain and/or that healing from any procedure is going smoothly.

If you have had more than one loss, your doctor will likely want to run a Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Panel, to rule out any potential contributing physiological factors.

4. Acupuncture. Acupuncture promotes blood flow, regulates inflammation, supports hormone balance, and decreases stress. It helps with recovery from both spontaneous miscarriage, procedures and stillbirths, as well as supports regulation of your cycle after loss.

Treatment plans are individualized, based on factors relevant to your particular case, and can include regular acupuncture, customized Chinese herbs, and a review of recommended supplements, diet and exercise.

If a Western diagnosis has been identified, and/or Western Medical treatment is necessary, we make modifications to support this process. The primary aim is to help your body re-set. Should you plan to create and carry another healthy pregnancy, then we also help to prepare for this, while supporting the mental-emotional process and doing what we can to prevent another loss.

Pregnancy and infancy loss is not uncommon, and the more we speak to it, the better
we are able to understand and support one another. Bless the hearts of those who know
this kind of loss first-hand and bless the hearts of those who love and support them.

 

Dr. Alda Ngo

For more information on how we can support recovery and prevention of pregnancy
loss, please feel free to contact us for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Mindfulness Meditation Class

Mindfulness Meditation: the art of seeing clearly what is happening and how we are relating to it.
(more…)

Next Page »
Call Now ButtonBook Now