Mediation and Meditation

The holiday season is practically in full swing. This time of year comes with lots of love, joy, and time spent with family and friends. It’s beautiful! But there’s a lot going on, all the time! It can be hard to mentally navigate this time of year when there’s so much constant stimuli.

In addition to minimal amounts of “you-time”, this time of year brings together families, often those who don’t normally get to see each other. This can bring out a lot of joy, and a lot of tension. And if you’re anything like me, you might find yourself trying to propagate holiday cheer while simultaneously mediating matters between friends and family members.

Mediation requires a lot of mental capacity, and I find the easiest way to muster this type of positive mental energy is through mediation. However, this time of year gives you very little time to recuperate from this mediation through meditation, what with the constant celebrating and all!

And really, you owe it to all those wonderful people you get to see for the holidays to be the best you can possibly be. It’s hard to be this best-possible-version of yourself if your constantly mentally exhausted.

So, here are some tactics for keeping your holidays merry and bright, and allowing you to mediate AND meditate.

Placing Mediation

This is the most important step, I think, when becoming a type of mediator in your family or friend circle. It’s important to acknowledge who you are mediating, why you are taking on this role of mediator, and how you feel about your role as the mediator.

Acknowledging all of these factors allows you to understand why you are taking on the role you are. It will keep you removed from whatever the issue at hand is, by placing you in the middle of the two parties as opposed to on one side. It will also keep you from getting angry with the two people or groups that are experiencing the issue, again by distancing yourself just enough to know that you are helping someone else out with a problem, not working through a problem that is your own.

It’s also very important to ensure that you are mediating for the right reasons. Mostly, it should just be in an effort to help the people who are facing a difficulty in their relationship. It shouldn’t be a responsibility you feel you have to take on or that someone forced you into. It also shouldn’t be something you do because you have a particularly high stake in an argument, or because you expect some kind of kind gesture back from the people you help. Put simply: if you don’t want to help just for the sake of helping, then don’t do it.

Making sure you’re in the correct frame of mind to help your friends or family members work through their issues will also end up making you a much better mediator. At least in my experience, if I don’t set the whole thing in my mind the right way, I feel it start to gnaw away at me, which only contributes to my mental capacity (and ability to effectively mediate) declining.

This placing is also, on it’s own, a start to meditating. It allows you to think about the issue at hand distantly and calming, while still keeping everyone’s best interests in mind, including your own!

Practicing Meditation

Now that we’ve put our mediation efforts in the proper frame in our minds, it’s important that we don’t simply hang these frames on a mental wall for them to stay for all of eternity. It’s good to frame it, hang it up for a while, acknowledge and accept how you feel about it, and then take it down and allow it to disappear. This is where meditation comes in.

When I say meditation, I don’t mean locking yourself in your room for an hour in the middle of Christmas dinner so you can sit criss-cross-applesauce and just breath. While this would be the best possible option, its hardly conducive for this time of year. So, rather than making a scene out of a meditation, it’s possible to do on your own, quickly, and quietly.

My favorite tactic is to go into the bathroom in a part of the house (or apartment or wherever!) that is not super close to where everyone is gathered. If there’s a downstairs and upstairs bathroom, for instance, and everyone is downstairs, go to the one upstairs. Whatever is just a little out of the way.

Next, stand in front of the mirror and just enjoy the quiet. It might not be totally quiet, but it’s certainly more quiet than wherever everyone else is hanging out. Make sure to breathe in and out slowly and deliberately; feel every breath go all the way into and out of your lungs.

Think about the way you’re feeling about the issue first. Understand what emotions you’re feeling. You don’t have to get into why, there isn’t time for all of that. Just know what they are. Feel them as wholly as you can as you breath. If this means shedding a tear or clenching your teeth for just a moment, do it! Get it out of your system, then let it go.

Next, think about the people that you are mediating for. Think about all the wonderful reasons you care about them and want to help them, and this will give you the strength to return to the group confident and mentally prepared to help your friends and family again.

Hopefully you won’t need any of these steps this winter. Hopefully your family and friendly gatherings are full of fun and laughter rather than tension and disagreement. But on the off chance you find yourself a sudden mediator, hopefully this will be helpful to you!

Skin Suggestions and Such

My last post was quite food/health related, so this week I’ve picked a more beauty-related topic: skin. For a lot of people, skin appearance is a sensitive subject, and for good reason. Skin patterns tend to be unpredictable, completely random and at times feel very out of control. This can lead to a lot of self-esteem and self-doubt issues in people of all ages.

Plus if you turn to my favorite resource in times of self-doubt, the world-wide web, you’ll end up with a slew of suggestions about things to put on our skin that are all synthetic, odd-looking substances with weird textures and smells. Basically: things you know simply CANNOT be that good for you. So without further adieu, here are some ways to keep your skin radiant without all the man-made chemicals!

The Fun Stuff: Hempseed Oil

Hempseed oil, or sometimes just called hemp oil, is really wonderful for you when applied directly to your skin. This awesome oil helps moderate the amount of oil your skin produces, which can be great to keep you from looking Barbie-doll shiny throughout the day. Less oil also reduces pore clogging, which can lead to fewer breakouts.

On the other hand, if you completely dry your skin out, it will naturally try to remedy this by producing way too much oil. Yikes! Hempseed oil also takes care of this problem by acting as a moisturizer, but unlike the kind that comes out of a titanium-white tube and smells vaguely like plastic, it will not clog your pores.

It can also help with skin-regeneration due to the vital omega-6-fatty acids it contains, which can aid in fixing skin discoloration. This along with the linoleic acid (which your body cannot produce on its own) it provides your skin with can help reduce wrinkles and it even said to have anti-aging properties!

Terry Naturally is a great brand to check out when you’re looking for hempseed oil, along with Mountain Rose Herbs and many more!

The Science-y Stuff: Drenamin

Drenamin is a type of supplement that encourages adrenal gland health. Now, I know what you’re thinking: my adrenal gland doesn’t sporadically break out, so who cares?

Your adrenal glands are part of your endocrine system, and specifically, they produce a variety of hormones that are essential to life. Hormones and the variety that are released by your adrenal glands and the rest of the endocrine system can make a huge impact on the way that your body works, including the emotions you experience and the appearance of your skin!

So, drenamin (which comes in an easy-to-take form by Standard Process, I’m just sayin’!) helps to keep the levels of hormones that get released by your body reasonably stable. In doing this, it helps keep mood swings and stress levels to a minimum. By decreasing the hormonal spikes your body experiences, suddenly a lot of the uncertainty that used to come with stress-breakouts is gone!

The Plant-Based Stuff: Aloe Vera Gel

Finally, my favorite: plant-based solutions! All good things in the world come from plants, in my opinion, and aloe vera gel has a special place in my heart since it also comes from a cactus!

Aloe vera gel is fantastic to put into face masks because it has a variety of tricks up its sleeve! It’s been used for thousands of years to heal wounds and burns, and its through the same principles that make it great for hydrating skin, fixing discoloration, toning, and remedying acne scarring.

Depending on what you mix it with, aloe vera gel can be great for any of the things I already listed and more. It can be mixed with honey, rosewater, tomato juice, and even eggs and work miracles for your skin (all of which are in a neat little list for you, with a couple of additional recipes too!).

Fall Fresh Feasts Done Right

The leaves are FINALLY changing colors and I am so excited to get into fall. My entire house currently smells like leaves, cinnamon, and those woodwick candles that are the closest thing a college student gets to a fireplace. And, with fall comes the temperature drop, the change in scenery, and the food!! So, here are some fantastic fall treats that are extra good for you.

Nutty for Nuts (And Seeds!)

Theres no debate that fruits and vegetables are insanely good for you, but their predecessors like seeds and nuts are good for you too! Sunflower seeds, apricot seeds, and pumpkin seeds are some of my fall favorites to spice up my diet. And, as a student, one of my favorite on-the-go snacks thats packed with nutrients and vitamins to keep me going on a busy fall day includes Apricot Power‘s apricot seed-infused chocolate covering raisins, mixed with Craisins, cashews, salted sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. For a little extra salt, I’ll throw in some peanut butter filled pretzels, and for a little extra sweet, I’ll toss in some semi-sweet chocolate chips!

Each of those core ingredients are so important, especially those apricot-chocolate covered raisins. Surprisingly, dark chocolate can be very good for you in moderate amounts. It helps reduce your risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure through natural cocoa flavanols, which  both increase your insulin sensitivity and help relax your veins to encourage blood flow! These chemical reactions are so legit, Harvard students have done studies about dark chocolate heath benefits! And this combined with the awesome antioxidant powers of apricot seeds and a little sweetness from the raisins make this a key component to this rockin’ fall trail mix.

Fun Fruits (And Oats!)

So, this post is a lot about food, and I’m no food blogger. I just admire them from afar, and I’m going to talk about one of my favorite food bloggers now because, seriously, she’s the QUEEN of healthy and all-natural eating. And I’ve been thriving getting to watch all her fall recipes roll in on my Instagram.

If anything I’ve just said got you excited, you have to go check out @thenakdkitchen on Instagram. She posts lots of awesome vegan recipes that are great for getting all the nutrients your body needs in a wonderfully sustainable way. One of her most recent creations was this oatmeal (I will do an entire post about oatmeal one day, it is seriously the best food) made with chai, almond milk, spiced apples and cacao powder.

This entire meal is packed with goodness. Not only will it keep you full for the entire morning, but incorporating chai into oatmeal is genius. It adds an entire new dimension of flavor, and chai is good for improving the way you feel and look. For one thing, it helps get rid of free radicals in your body, which can lead to things such as signs of premature aging. It also helps keep hormones in check, which can help keep your mood and skin-state steady. Not to mention, it strengthens your immune system AND helps with digestion. Truly good for you inside and out.

Also, stay tuned for more fun things you can do with oatmeal in the future. No joke, it’s so good for you, and there are so many options. I won’t ramble here, but know that it’s coming!

Veggie Roasts (And Bread!)

We’ve gone through some neat snacking and breakfast options, so now for the rest of your fall meals: lunch and dinner options that are full of veggies! For one, I love this recipe for oven-roasted fall vegetables, mostly because you can easily pair it with soup, bread, or chicken for a super-hearty meal. I also love it because it includes rosemary in a super seamless way, which is an awesome herb for improving your memory and digestive health!

One of the best types of bread, I’ve found, to pair with this wonderful veggie roast is apple-cheddar bread. Weird-sounding, I know. But it really is quite good, and it goes well with butternut squash soup too, which is another fall delicacy that no autumn is really complete without. Plus, cheese-bread fulfills carb-cravings that tend to creep up on all of us as the weather starts to get a little chilly while still being packed with protein! What’s not to love about curbing cravings and doing something good for your body?

To sum up: Fall is fabulous and food is even more fabulous. Enjoy both AND make your body as happy as the leaves changing color makes me!!