BY LINDA EGENES

IMG_4482We’ve all heard the expression, “You are what you eat.” To most people this means simply that the vitamins, carbs, and proteins in food build the cells, blood and bones of your body.

But according to Maharishi Ayurveda, “You are what you eat” means something far more subtle and powerful. Food is known to directly influence your consciousness and feelings. It can create bliss or anger, contentment or restlessness, thoughts of the sacred or the profane. In Ayurvedic diet, the quality of the food you eat literally creates your state of mind, emotions and consciousness.

 Prepare Food for Happiness

Foods that are whole and unadulterated contain more of the intelligence of nature, and thus create more vitality, alertness and happiness when you eat them.

Just think of this example: if you eat an ayurvedic meal composed of fresh, organic vegetables, whole grains and dhal (lentils) lovingly cooked in delicious spices and garnished with panir (fresh cheese) and fresh-fruit chutney, how will you feel afterwards? Contented and satisfied. Now consider how you’d feel after eating a meal consisting of canned vegetables, processed foods, or food fried in unhealthy oils—or food served at a fast-food restaurant. The result might be dullness or a feeling of lack of wellness.

Ayurveda gives a name—tamasic—to such foods that create dullness, disease and even aggressive behavior in the people who make a steady diet of them. Tamasic foods may include leftovers; packaged, frozen, canned and processed foods; vinegar; red meat; alcohol; and any old, spoiled or rancid foods. Tamasic foods are anti-ojas (ojas is the finest and most refined product of digestion). They result in dull thinking, depressed emotions, and physical imbalances.

The foods you want to favor are the foods that have and create positive, spiritual qualities—they are called sattvic foods. Sattvic foods are wholesome, create bliss, heighten alertness, and are easy to digest. Sattvic foods include oranges; almonds; unheated honey; amalaki; rice and whole grains; milk; fresh, organic vegetables; and organic, sweet, juicy fruits such as mango, papaya and pear.

A diet consisting of easy-to-digest, sattvic foods is recommended for almost anyone desiring good health and is especially recommended for people who have chosen a spiritual path in life. These foods convert rapidly into ojas, the product of perfect digestion that in turn creates a glow in the skin, sparkle in the eye, and mental, emotional and physical balance.

Eat Food Cooked with Love

When you cook for your friends or family, it’s important to be in a happy frame of mind. Since ancient times, the ayurvedic texts have pointed out that the emotional state of the cook affects the quality of the food. This is why it’s ideal, in the ayurvedic view, to serve home-cooked meals whenever possible, because food cooked in a restaurant by strangers is unlikely to match the positive energy of a meal cooked by someone who loves you. It’s especially important to cook often for children. There is nothing to replace a mother’s (or father’s) love—a key ingredient in a child’s food.

When cooking, to the extent you are able to easily control your environment, focus on the food and make it a settled, conscious event rather than something thrown together under pressure. Turn off the TV, shoo the kids and pets out of the kitchen, and give yourself time to enjoy the simple act of smelling the spices, feeling the textures of the foods, playing with the colors, and having fun. Or, if your kids, friends or spouse like to help, get them involved, too. However it works for you, make meal preparation a happy time. Your positive thoughts and feelings make a meal a life supporting, sattvic act.

Eat in a Settled Environment

Finally, it’s important to eat your food in a settled, happy, and sattvic environment. This is actually a technique of ayurveda—creatively managing your environment. Make food and table arrangements attractive to the eye, and make sure the dining area is clean, pleasant and sunny, and the air is fresh. These things influence digestion.

Eating with family or good friends is ideal, while enjoying light, quiet conversation. Avoid intense discussions or arguments at the table, as this can interfere with proper digestion. Eating in silence if you are alone allows one to focus on the flavors of the food and the blessing and nourishment that it offers. The natural result will be better digestion. Resist the impulse to switch on the TV or radio. You will feel better and more settled when you create a more sacred, calm atmosphere around the act of eating.

Taking a few moments to give thanks for your food before eating is a universal practice. It’s a chance to remember that food is a living part of creation, and when you eat you are absorbing the infinite energy and intelligence of nature. Saying a prayer or giving thanks also gives you a chance to settle down after a busy day at the office, to give your digestion a chance to create ojas from your food. Ojas is the master ayurvedic biochemical that supports connectivity with nature and with others. Ultimately, eating is a sacred act—a privilege of that divine intelligence that sustains your every action. Preparing and eating food in this manner offers homage to that which is responsible for giving us life and sustaining our lives.

Finally, after the meal is finished, don’t rush off right away. Linger a few minutes at the table to help digestion begin properly and enjoy the opportunity to savor the satisfaction of sharing a delicious meal with those you love.

(I originally wrote this blog for the Maharishi Ayurveda Blog [MAPI], August 21,2012. Reprinted with permission.) 

My mom with my brother, sister and me

My mom with my brother, sister and me

My mom was not a feminist. You could say she was a 1950s Donna Reed sort of mom, not the kind who had a job outside the home or marched in feminist rallies when I was growing up in the 60s.

She was a great cook, and because she made such fabulous, fresh meals, on time, every day, I never felt the need to learn how to cook myself. If I felt the urge to create something, it was more satisfying to sew a dress or draw a picture. A member of a 4-H club, I learned to bake brownies and cookies, and once, in high school, I spent all day preparing a ham dinner with all the trimmings—applesauce, string beans and dinner rolls—from scratch. For all my trouble, within 30 minutes it was gone, with only a few “gee thanks” left trailing in the air. To my teenage mind, it seemed like a massive waste of time.

In college I continued to feel ambivalent about cooking, helping to prepare salads during a raw foods phase and otherwise letting my roommate cook while I did the dishes. Yet when I married and set up a household of my own, it was clear to me that now was the time to learn to cook. I even remember a silly argument with my husband over who was going to cook and who was going to do the dishes—and this time I refused to slip into the passive dish-washer mode.

Why the sudden turnaround? Because I associated cooking with an expression of love. I was in love with my husband, and I wanted to cook for him.

In other words, while the way to a man’s heart may be through his stomach, I was more struck by what cooking for my man did for my own heart.

My mom’s cooking inspired my sister in a similar way. She managed to rise to the top of a major corporation while raising two daughters—and always, always found time to sit down with her family for a home-cooked meal, prepared by herself or her husband. It was the foundation for their family time.

While cooking is not the only way to convey love to your children or your husband, it is certainly a practical one. We all have to eat. Home-cooked food is far healthier and less expensive than restaurant food. According to ancient health care systems such as Ayurveda, food cooked with love is the most nourishing elixir for anyone to eat.

And the ritual of gathering around the common table, sharing the intangibles of familial love and tasty food, is the binding ritual of most cultures. Even modern research has shown that kids who gather with their parents to share at least one meal a day (rather than grazing or foraging for food on their own) perform better academically and socially in school.

All of these thoughts ran through my mind in a rush while I was reading an interesting piece in the New York Times about a feminist activist’s daughter who, although she, too, considers herself a feminist and works for a living, has found time to cook and bake for her daughter—and to be available to her when she comes home from school. She does this, she says, because she wants her daughter to feel special, to feel loved.

The author’s own mother, it turns out, had spent 12 years as a homemaker but after a difficult divorce, found herself the single parent for two. At that point she did not want to end up like her mother (the author’s grandmother), who cooked three meals a day for her family—but felt bitter and trapped and took it out on her kids. Instead, the author’s mother embraced the budding feminist movement, focusing on her own self-development and her career as an artist and activist.

She succeeded in living a fulfilling and productive life as a leader in the feminist movement, but her kids were often left alone and unfed. The author says she not only felt physically hungry as a child, but worse, unloved and abandoned.

It’s interesting that the three generations of women in this family neatly represent three stages of women’s roles in this country: 1) the historical role of homemaker and caregiver (which left multitudes of women feeling trapped and yearning for something more), 2) the phase in the late 20th century when women broke free, becoming career women and feminist activists, sometimes rejecting their feminine role in the home altogether, and 3) the modern woman, who struggles to find time to have a satisfying career and be there for her children at the same time.

While understandably many women today are overwhelmed by the demands of trying to fulfill both roles, I do see a positive trend among young women who seem to have the energy to do both. In many cases these are the same women who are reaching out to empower themselves to stay healthy and calm—through yoga, daily exercise, healthy diets, and meditation. These are women who are not afraid to take a break from their jobs and families for some daily “me” time, knowing that when they come back, they will have more energy to devote to nourishing their kids and husbands.

Dr. Kumuda Reddy, a practicing medical doctor, book author and mother of three, says, “As a parent, I have found the Transcendental Meditation technique to be invaluable. In the past I led a busy life, returning home from my practice late in the day and facing a full evening with my family. I started the habit of meditating at my office before I returned home. This worked beautifully, because I could leave the stress of the workday behind. I found that I could create a much happier environment for my children and husband when I was more relaxed and more rested. I could really be the ‘200 percent parent’ that I wanted to be: 100 percent mother and 100 percent professional woman.”

The Transcendental Meditation technique has been shown in research to improve emotional availability and family life. It makes sense—when the stress is less, when the parents and kids are rested, it’s easier to give and receive love.

And love is the real food of life. It’s the primary nourishment upon which a child grows and thrives. Certainly, love can be conveyed in an abundance of ways—by making a meal, by giving a hug, by just being there to listen. But all of these expressions of love are based on a flowing heart. You gotta have it to give it.

As Maharishi, the founder of the TM technique says in his beautiful poem Love and God, “The fortunate ones use the instrument of deep meditation and probe deep into their hearts. Then the waves of love gain the depth of the ocean, and the ocean of love flows and fills the heart and thrills every particle of being.”

Linda Egenes writes about green and healthy living and is the author of six books, including Super Healthy Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda, co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D.

 

(I originally wrote this post for Transcendental Meditation for Women Blog, November 30, 2013. Reprinted with permission.)

BY LINDA EGENES

IMG_0108Americans spend millions every year on expensive power bars and shakes to power up sagging energy levels or to replenish themselves after a workout.

If you’re spending your money on power bars, you might want to consider a different approach. Power foods are not a modern invention—Ayurveda has long recognized certain foods as natural but serious energy-boosters. The list includes fresh organic fruits, vegetables, spices, and whole grains. These foods are rich in chetna, a Sanskrit word for the healing and nurturing intelligence of nature. They are foods so lively with nature’s intelligence and purity that fatigue-causing toxins are less likely to accumulate in your body when they’re eaten.

The Secret Power of Ancient Grains

Athletes have long relied on the carbohydrates and proteins in grains for long-term endurance and energy. Yet not all carbohydrates are created alike. A croissant, for instance, is high in fat and low in nutrition. The most nutritious carbohydrates are whole organic grains, which have been found to support healthy cholesterol and blood glucose levels and promote a healthy immune response.

Maharishi Ayurveda considers organic rye, quinoa, amaranth and millet the most nutritious, because they are especially high in protein and minerals. They are also high in fiber, and because of that have a detoxifying value. These are the same auspicious grains that are described in the ancient Ayurvedic texts.

One-half cup of amaranth (measured dry), for instance, contains 14 grams of protein, 8 mg of iron, and also magnesium and zinc. The same amount of quinoa contains 13 grams of protein, 9 mg of iron and 3 mg of zinc. Rye is also high in protein, with one-half cup yielding 15 grams of protein and 4 mg of zinc. Millet is a good source of B vitamins. As mentioned earlier, all of them also contain carbohydrates that fuel your body for activity.

All of these grains contain copper, which is an essential trace mineral that improves energy and immunity, and their zinc content also boosts ojas, the finest product of digestion that creates lightness, inner energy, immunity and bliss.

How to Cook Power Grains

To prepare quinoa, rye, amaranth or millet, place two cups of water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add a teaspoon of organic ghee and one cup of the grain. Boil for ten minutes andthen lower to a simmer. The grain-to-water ratio is two cups of water to one cup of grain. Cook until the grain is tender (usually 20-30 minutes is enough).

High-Energy Fruits and Vegetables

Other high-energy foods include fresh organic vegetables, which should constitute forty percent of the meal. Green, leafy vegetables are especially high in minerals and fiber, so they should be eaten often.

Fruits are another great source of instant energy. You can start the day with a stewed apple, and if you feel hungry in between meals, try snacking on a ripe juicy pear. If you are feeling heavy and bloated after lunch, eat a fresh papaya as they contain enzymes that aid digestion. If you have strong digestion and more Pitta in your constitution, mangoes are a rich ojas-producing food. Half a mango contains 2 mg of beta-carotene and is a rich source of Vitamin C.

According to Maharishi Ayurveda, grapes (or their dried counterpart, raisins) are among the best of fruits because they enhance sattva (purity), pacify the mind and heart, and increase the coordination between them. They are also a rich source of iron and Vitamin B6, and provide magnesium, calcium, zinc, and potassium. Raisins aid digestion and elimination when they are soaked in water overnight. One handful per person is a good amount. Nature’s massive source of Vitamin C and rejuvenation is Organic Premium Amla Berry. Every athlete should consider taking this incredible Ayurvedic herb. It contains five of the six tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent. The only taste missing is salty. These five tastes give it a holistic, balancing effect on the doshas. Very few fruits have this quality. Amalaki is also a great Rasayana, revered in the Ayurvedic tradition. Rasayanas are the cream of Ayurvedic herbal substances, and have remarkable longevity-enhancing and rejuvenative qualities. Rasayanas also create ojas—the master biochemical of beauty, immunity and connectivity—in the body.

Date-Milk Energy Shake

A Date-Milk Energy Shake is a nourishing way to end the day, because it promotes sleep and calms both Pitta and Vata sleep imbalances.
4-5 whole dates (Medjool dates are ideal. If you use large Medjool dates, one or two is more than enough.)

1 cup whole organic milk (unhomogenized if possible)
1 pinch cinnamon powder

Soak the dates for several hours. Boil the milk until it creates a foam. Turn off the heat and cool until the temperature is comfortable for drinking. Combine the milk with the other ingredients and blend until the dates are ground up. Drink it warm in winter and at room temperature in summer.

Foods that Drain Your Energy

Just as there are foods to boost energy, other foods drain it. Any fast foods as well as canned, frozen, packaged, leftover, or old foods—or foods laced with preservatives, chemicals, and additives—are difficult to digest and contain little nutritional content.

If you do eat some of these foods, and you feel heavy after eating, drink half a glass of water with 1/4 of a fresh lime squeezed into it. Or eat a tablet of Herbal Di-Gest to aid digestion. If you feel occasional indigestion or heartburn, try Aci-Balance, as it works quite quickly.

But if you’re feeling dull, sluggish, and drained of energy every day, it could mean that your diet contains too many energy-draining foods, which have clogged your microcirculatory channels with toxins, called ama in Ayurveda. This is an opportunity to upgrade your diet to include delicious foods that create more ojas and energy.

Adding Ayurvedic spices to your food is an easy way to increase the value of chetna, or nature’s intelligence. Try sautéing cumin, coriander, fennel, and turmeric in ghee, then combine with sautéed or steamed vegetables or cooked grains. Or add spices to your drinking water to boost your energy. The important thing is to eat foods every day that boost your energy, rather than relying on artificial boosters when you feel your energy sag. Try Organic Churnas specifically formulated to pacify Vata, Pitta or Kapha doshas.

Your body is a magnificent expression of engineering and has the potential to generate all the energy you want. Toxins are a big impediment in this regard. That’s because circulation goesbeyond veins and arteries to minute channels that supply nutrients and energy for all the billions of cells in your body. When these channels are clogged with digestive impurities, then fatigue can set in.Top of FormBottom of Form Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus)is a revered traditional Ayurvedic digestion-toning formula usually taken daily before bed. Organic Digest Tone balances the digestive fire, called agni in Sanskrit. Agni represents the transformative intelligence of digestion. It is a process of great importance in the Ayurvedic health model because it is linked to immunity, beauty, energy and detoxification. Balanced digestion reduces ama, or toxins, increases ojas, the finest byproduct of digestion and aids your ability to assimilate nutrients from any other supplement or food. Fatigue Free is another product that helps you recover your energy. It is a combination of Ayurvedic herbs and minerals that help move ama out, reestablish the flow of energy and quickly support the building of new cells.

Cumin-Mineral Water

Prepare this Cumin-Mineral Water drink at home to promote your energy and digestive power.
1 quart water
1/4 tsp. whole cumin
1/3 tsp. whole fennel
2 pinches of licorice
1 tablet Calcium Support 

Boil the water first. Place it in a thermos and add the spices. Sip the water throughout the day to promote digestion and support your energy. If you are a Pitta constitutional type, you may want to let the water cool to room temperature before drinking.

Enjoy!

(I originally wrote this blog for the Maharishi Ayurveda Blog [MAPI], October 18,2012. Reprinted with permission.) 

BY KUMUDA REDDY, M.D., WITH LINDA EGENES

super healthy kids, kumuda reddy, preventive medicine for kids

The following is excerpted from the new book Super Healthy Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda.

A mother named Julie brought her son Tyler to my office when he was two years old. Tyler suffered from an acute upper respiratory infection and bronchitis. For the past six months, he had taken many rounds of antibiotics, which weakened his immune system. Each time he took antibiotics he did get better at first, but then immediately afterward he would relapse into bronchitis again.

The child was miserable and looked unhealthy. His breathing was labored and difficult, and he was underweight.

A Stressed Pregnancy
In discussing the family history with Julie, I found that with her first child she had only worked part time during pregnancy and was able to take care of herself. Her first son was born a robust nine pounds and remained healthy.

During her pregnancy with Tyler, on the other hand, she had just started a challenging and stressful full-time job that required her to work seven days a week. She didn’t  eat regular meals or rest enough. She felt that taking prenatal vitamins and making regular visits to the obstetrician was enough to produce a healthy child.

But Tyler weighed only six pounds, six ounces at birth, and from the start faced constant health problems. He suffered from infections, colic, and difficulty sleeping. In general, Julie felt that he was much more unhappy than his brother. Understandably, it’s hard for a child to be happy when he’s feeling miserable inside. What Julie was seeing on the outside was a reflection of Tyler’s inner state of ill health.

Change in Care
A few days after applying the treatments of Maharishi Ayurveda—which included changes in diet, herbal food supplements, and changes in daily routine—Julie reported that Tyler’s symptoms were subsiding. He was much more happy and energetic. He took more interest in his toys and games. As the treatments progressed, he and his brother started to get along better.

Within six months, Tyler grew two inches, his coloring became normal, and he looked much healthier. He had broken through the vicious cycle of constant coughs and colds and the weakening rounds of antibiotics. Today, Tyler behaves like any other happy, healthy child.

“I never thought he’d escape from the cycle of sickness,” said Julie. “It’s wonderful to see him so happy.”

Treating Symptoms is Not Enough
This is a common scenario that I see in my office. A child gets sick with a cold, cough, fever, or the flu. The mother consults a Western physician. The child is prescribed antibiotics along with antihistamines, decongestants, and cough medicines. These provide temporary relief for the infection, but are treating symptoms only, because these prescription drugs don’t address the underlying imbalance that is causing the child to be prone to congestion in the first place. Worse, the antibiotics actually weaken immunity by destroying helpful organisms in the digestive tract. Antihistamines also break down immunity and disrupt digestion, throwing the child’s system further off balance. The next time he is exposed to an infectious disease, his immunity is weaker and he succumbs more quickly, bringing on another round of antibiotics and antihistamines. The child is constantly falling sick—and the treatments become part of the problem.

Sadly, there are many American children who end up in pediatricians’ offices once a week or several times a month. Then it becomes a chronic problem. The child loses his liveliness and becomes depressed and irritable. He also becomes more prone to other diseases.

Maharishi Ayurveda provides a new model for breaking out of this routine and creating health for a child who is locked in the cycle of sickness.

A New Concept of Immunity

According to the traditional view, children are more prone to flu, colds, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses because their immune systems are untested. As they grow up, the conventional wisdom goes, they develop resistance to disease and thus don’t get sick as frequently. The only thing the conventional doctor has to offer to boost immunity is immunization shots for major infectious diseases, and later, when a child succumbs to illness, antibiotics.

Maharishi Ayurveda presents a different concept of immunity. Immunity is the internal strength, orbala, that comes from the body type, or dosha, being in balance, the digestion and metabolism functioning normally, and the tissues growing properly. Immunity comes from the inside, from eating a balanced diet, having a strong digestion, and following a healthy routine. Prevention of disease results from strengthening immunity, which essentially means strengthening digestion.

In Western medicine, the focus is on chasing the germs and then killing them. Maharishi Ayurveda focuses on strengthening the body so the germ is no longer a threat. You probably have noticed that even though several children may be exposed to the same virus or flu bug, only some of them get sick. The difference lies in how balanced the children’s doshas are, their level of vitality, and their internal immunity.

Why are children more susceptible to certain childhood diseases than adults? The answer from Maharishi Ayurveda is that children are in a unique stage of life, called kapha kala (from birth to age 30), during which kapha dosha predominates. This is when the child builds strong bones, muscles, organs, and the brain—and this formation of the physical structure of the body is largely a function of kapha dosha.

Kapha dosha predominates in many ways during this period. For instance, very young children display the qualities of the slow-moving, heavy kapha dosha; they have a higher percentage of body fat than adults, spend longer periods in sleep, and display a slower reaction time. If a small child falls down, often there is a delay before he or she starts crying or even comprehends the hurt.

At the same time, children are also more prone to kapha imbalances than adults. When kapha dosha is out of balance, its heavy and sticky qualities can lead to slow digestion and excess mucus production in the body. Thus children are more prone to certain kapha-related diseases, such as respiratory disorders, colds, flu, and childhood diseases such as chicken pox, measles, and mumps.

By understanding this one point, you can shape your child’s diet and daily routine to avoid excessive kapha.

For example, you can reduce “kapha-increasing” foods in your child’s diet. Excessive sweets, ice-cold soft drinks, aged cheeses, and processed foods—which are difficult to digest and lead to sluggish digestion—can be dramatically decreased without depriving the child of needed nutrients. The daily routine can also be adjusted to avoid kapha imbalance. Sleeping late in the morning, for instance, can increase kapha and diminish digestive power for older children, as can lack of exercise.

These are just a few of the many simple recommendations that can increase your child’s health dramatically.

Super Healthy Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda is available at www.mumpress.com.

(I originally wrote this article for The Iowa Source, August 2010. Reprinted with permission.)

BY LINDA EGENES

dreamstimefree_245507Last spring a friend told me about an inexpensive new treatment called Maharishi Light Therapy with Gems. “It feels like you’re bathing in light,” she said. Exhausted from travel and a stint of late nights caretaking my aging parents, I thought bathing in light would be just the ticket.

A warm light spread throughout my body, washing over me in waves. It was not coming from the outside, but from within me. When the treatment was over, I didn’t move for 40 minutes, sunk in a blissful state. I felt sparkly and bright inside, like a diamond.

Later that week I found myself at The Raj Maharishi Ayurveda® Health Center in Fairfield, Iowa, where a practitioner showed me thirteen light beamers that looked like large silver pens. She explained that each beamer shines soft light through a different precious gem, and she would first assess which gems would create the best results for me.

Maharishi Light Therapy with GemsI closed my eyes as she tested my reactions. After a while, I felt so settled that I could barely speak. Then she said in a soft voice, “Now the treatment is ready to begin.”

She arranged the instruments in a rack above me so that many gems were shining on my body. If the diagnosis had been so peaceful, what would the treatment feel like? A warm light spread throughout my body, washing over me in waves. It was not coming from the outside, but from within me. When the treatment was over, I didn’t move for 40 minutes, sunk in a blissful state. I felt sparkly and bright inside, like a diamond.

Yet it was the long-lasting results that were more striking. It was as if the light had washed away the toxins and tiredness. Nine months later I still have more energy than before. How did this work, exactly?

The Healing Power of Gems

Rubies. Sapphires. Emeralds. The oldest and most refined members of the mineral kingdom, gems have long been used for their healing qualities. And while few of us can afford our own gem collection, Maharishi Light Therapy with Gems (MLG) is an affordable way to experience the orderly and healing qualities of precious gems.

Lexington Peace Palace

The light frequencies act as a carrier for the orderly structure of the gems. They resonate with subtle frequencies of our physiology and trigger profound self-healing and self-repair.

“MLG treatments transform the mind, body, and emotions from a state of disrepair or disorder to a more natural state of order, strength, and integrity by acting as a catalyst for self-healing mechanisms already inherent within everyone,” says Dr. Keith Wegman, a practitioner of MLG at The Raj.

He adds, ”The light frequencies act as a carrier for the orderly structure of the gems. They resonate with subtle frequencies of our physiology and trigger profound self-healing and self-repair.”

A Wide Range of Health Benefits

It seems that the results are different for each person, depending on their complaints.

Jim Fairchild, a college professor in his late sixties, had lived with constant pain in his neck ever since a car ran over him when he was three years old. Over the years he consulted chiropractors and massage therapists, but nothing worked.

Then he tried Maharishi Light Therapy with Gems. At first, Jim found that light and gem therapy treatments simply made him feel more relaxed. Then, to his surprise, he felt a profound shift in his level of pain.

“I came out of a session feeling almost no discomfort in the back of my neck,” he says. “I quietly waited for the inevitable. But the pain didn’t return. My neck isn’t perfect, but the difference is profound. The amazing thing is that during the session I didn’t feel anything extraordinary in my physiology. Yet somehow relief came to me, without my even asking.”

I came out of a session feeling almost no discomfort in the back of my neck. I quietly waited for the inevitable. But the pain didn’t return.

A woman from Montreal found relief from asthma, while Adile Esen from Turkey writes, “The feeling of nourishment and balance coupled with calmness and clarity that I experienced increasingly during and after my treatments have continued,” she says. “In addition to becoming more aware, open, and clear, I realize that even in very difficult situations that could have made me doubt and tremble, I have remained calm like the pearl at the bottom of the ocean.” Others find that their experiences both in and out of meditation become more profound and filled with light.

Mark Olson from Rhode Island said that the treatment is “remarkable and I feel much lighter, almost with a sense of transparency and expanded well-being.”

Eva Bergmann, who travels the U.S. administering MLG treatments, says, “For many people who try Maharishi Light Therapy with Gems, it is an experience they never forget. That experience allows us to remember our original state of bliss and connectedness with the whole universe. And even that memory, as Maharishi has emphasized, can have an effect—it can change a person’s life.’”

MLG practitioners Jeffery and Mary Murphy

Jeffry and Mary Murphy, practitioners of MLG
from Lexington, Kentucky

Well over 2,000 treatments in the past year have provided strong evidence of the long-term benefits of this approach, says Dr. Wegman. “Individuals have reported relief from chronic disorders, such as decreased anxiety and improved emotional stability; decreased joint, muscle, and bone problems; improved sleep; and expanded self-development,” he says.

Now a six-month research study is being conducted to quantify the long-term effects of the treatment.

Combining the Ancient with the Modern

To give a little background, this unique treatment has been developed over a period of 30 years by Dr. Joachim Roller, a German Gemologist, under the direct guidance of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who founded the Transcendental Meditation technique. Dr. Roller, with his wife, Iris, started training the first practitioners in September 2008 at Maharishi European Research University in Holland.

Besides bringing a profound level of comprehensiveness and effectiveness to the treatment, Maharishi also guided Dr. Roller in the creation of larger, more powerful instruments, affectionately called “Big Beamers.” The thirteen Big Beamers contain not just one precious gem per beamer, but twelve—with a total of 145 gems to create a magnified effect.

Since I didn’t have the Big Beamer treatment, I asked Dr. Wegman to explain the difference.

“The Big Beamers are distinguished by their ability to transform any rigidity or obstruction to the flow of energy in the physiology,” he says. “The transformation is more significant than with the regular beamers.  All the frequencies in the physiology adjust to that more amplified frequency and are reorganized.”

MLG practitioner Eva Bergman

Traveling MLG practitioner Eva Bergmann:
“Maharishi has talked about the light of consciousness and how our body is a much greater miracle than we can fathom, and many experi-
ence during Maharishi light therapy with Gems that they are created of light, intelligence, warmth, and love.”

He adds, “The more powerful orderliness of the large beamers takes over any disorder, restoring balance in previously weak or compromised areas of functioning.”

Did I miss out, not having the big beamers? Dr. Wegman smiles reassuringly. “If an individual already has a good flow of energy and no physical disorders, then the regular beamers are sufficient to bring about this reorganization.”

But now I’m curious. I’ll have to try it. Like many people who now schedule regular treatments of Maharishi Light Therapy with Gems, I’m reaching for the light.

Trained practitioners offer Maharishi Light Therapy with Gems treatments daily using either small or large beamers at The Raj Maharishi Ayurvedic Health Spa in Fairfield, Iowa, and at the Maharishi Peace Palace in Lexington, Kentucky. For more information or to schedule treatments, please contact:

  • The Raj Maharishi Ayurvedic Health Spa in Fairfield, Iowa, (800) 864-8714 x5300
  • The Maharishi Peace Palace in Lexington, Kentucky, (859) 269-3803

MLG practitioners also travel with the small beamers to various TM Center locations throughout North America and to Maharishi Academies around the world.

  • For the tour schedule in the Western U.S. and in New York and New England, contact Eva Bergmann atgemlight@tm.org, call (917) 740-0878, or seewww.gemlight.dk
  • For tours in all other states, contact Jeffry and Mary Murphy at MLG@tm.org or call (859) 269-3803.

This article has been revised/updated, and reprinted with permission from The Iowa SourceMarch 2010 and Enlightenment Magazine, Issue 7. Reprinted with permission.)

Photo by Jodielee used with permission from Dreamstime.com.

BY LINDA EGENES

pin-hikers-By-Padraic.When spring rolls around, it’s a relief to shed winter hats, boots and coats. But for most of us, it’s not so easy to shed the extra pounds that we may have put on over the winter.

Yet spring is the perfect time to detox and lighten up. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, the wet, cool weather of spring is called Kapha Season, associated with the cool, heavy, slow Kapha dosha.

If you stay sedentary and continue eating the heavier foods of winter, you could be headed for the kinds of Kapha disorders prevalent in spring — respiratory issues, allergen reactions, sluggishness, dullness of mind and weight gain.

Try this invigorating daily routine to help shed pounds and toxins in spring.

Kapha Season: 5 Ways to Lighten Up in Spring:

1.      Get Moving

One of the best ways to counter the slow, sluggish feeling of Kapha imbalance is to get moving, and then get moving faster. Research shows that aerobic activities such as swimming, running, and hiking are good for the brain as well as the body.

According to Maharishi Ayurveda, it’s better to exercise for half an hour every day rather than an hour three times a week. When you exercise every day, your digestion stays on and the pounds stay off.

2.     Get to Bed Early

If you climb into bed well before 10:00 p.m., during the Kapha time of night, your sleep will be deep and restful. New research shows that people who get a balanced amount of sleep have more control over their weight.

3.     Wake Up with the Birds

Have you ever slept late in the morning, only to wake up feeling duller and more exhausted than before? Sleeping during the Kapha time of the morning (6 a.m.–10 a.m.) can result in all kinds of Kapha disorders, including respiratory issues and weight gain. If you rise before 6:00, when the air is light and the more active Vata dosha predominates, you’ll carry these energetic qualities with you all day long.

4.     Eat Three Warm (but not huge) Meals a Day

You may think that if you skip breakfast, you’ll lose weight — but eating a light, warm breakfast will actually improve your digestion and help you lose weight. Try cooked apples with cardamom for a light, satisfying first meal.

Eat your main meal at noon, when digestion is strongest. In spring, choose warm, soupy foods and freshly-cooked vegetables, whole grains, and pulses (lentils or dhal) or light dairy products for protein. End the day with a light dinner early enough in the evening so you can digest it before you go to bed.

5.     Spice it Up

Add more spice to your food to power up digestion. Try cooking with fresh ginger, cumin, peppercorns and fennel — or Organic Kapha Churna.

Spice up your daily routine a little too. Try a new activity — meet new people to stimulate your brain and your spirits. And because one of the qualities of Kapha is stability, the healthy habits you form this spring can stick with you all year ’round.

Ayurveda and Long-Term Wellness

Three key principles to long-term balance and wellness in Ayurveda are broadly summed up in three lifestyle tactics: 1) Reducing ama (toxins), 2) Balancing/strengthening digestion (agni) and 3) Significantly lowering stress. Each of these plays a powerful role in supporting long-term, life-changing wellness, according to Ayurveda. To accomplish these three targets, Ayurveda offers you lots of enjoyable options. Each of these choices has the power, in the Ayurvedic model, to gradually, naturally support and restore Ayurvedic balance in mind and body. These lifestyle choices include changes to diet; stress reduction practices like yoga, exercise and meditation; and traditional Ayurvedic herbals.

The Ayurvedic herbals listed below are core herbal products supporting important areas of Ayurvedic wellness.

Digestion is a central long-term, priority focus of Ayurveda. Great emphasis is placed on keeping digestion (agni) balanced. In this sense, ‘balance’ means functioning at its absolute optimum. That’s because digestion (agni) is the engine of transformation and assimilation. This transformation ‘engine’ isn’t found just in the stomach — it is found in every cell in the body. It is an extremely intelligent engine, too. It transforms and metabolizes food nutrients and food intelligence into you, and selects out that which isn’t useful to the body and mind. Depending on the strength of agni, the ‘transformation engine,’ either toxins (ama) or ojas (the beneficial biochemical of balance) will get created. Ojas is the finest and most-valued by-product of digestion in Ayurveda, supporting immunity, happiness, the feeling of connectivity (union or yoga) and emotional stability.

Triphala: Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) from Maharishi Ayurveda — This blend of herbs is a powerful tonic for the digestive system. If you are feeling occasionally sluggish, dull or constipated, chances are that toxins are building up in your body. Toxins accumulate when your digestion — and elimination — are out of balance, which can lead to skin breakouts, menstrual cramps, fatigue, feelings of sadness and many other health issues. Triphala, available in Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus), is the every-night overnight detox and digestion balancer, supporting assimilation, balanced agni and ojas. This is the traditional Ayurvedic every-day, overnight detox. This is Maharishi Ayurveda’s number 1 selling digestion herbal.

Aci-Balance from Maharishi Ayurveda — This is a digestion-supporting (agni-balancing) herbal formulation. Occasional acid indigestion is a sign of a Pitta imbalance, according to Ayurveda. Too many hot, spicy foods can spark excess digestive fire and too much stomach acid. Over time, this can push digestion out of balance and lead to a variety of health problems.

The Ayurvedic herbs in this formulation help maintain proper balance of ‘agni,’ the intelligent digestive fire. The herbs help balance occasional excess acid and digestive fire; support overall digestion; and help the body preserve the purity and vitality of nutrients from foods you eat.

Sleep: Deep Rest from Maharishi Ayurveda — The herbs in this formula support sleeping deeply through the night and waking up feeling refreshed. Specifically, the formula is for those who have difficulty staying asleep and wake up in the middle of the night. It also helps those who have difficulty falling asleep and those who awaken early, after less than six hours of sleep.

Sleep: Blissful Sleep from Maharishi Ayurveda — The inability to fall asleep naturally, according to Maharishi Ayurveda, is largely due to stress, frustration, heavy food and sensory overload. If you’re worried or agitated before bed, your mind stays connected to the senses, keeping them active. When that happens you may have trouble falling asleep — or if you do fall asleep, you may notice that your sleep is light and restless. When your mind is relaxed, and disconnects from the senses, that sleep is sound and deep.

The Ayurvedic herbs in the formula produce a calming, balancing effect on the body, mind and emotions. Sleep becomes deeper and more restful. For published research on Blissful Sleep, please see this page.

Emotional Balance: Worry Free from Maharishi Ayurveda — This traditional formula helps you step up to the challenge of modern life. It simultaneously calms the nervous system while supporting mental acuity. These herbs help you sail through the same situations that used to cause a meltdown. It’s not about having a different attitude — it’s about changing the automatic and immediate emotional reaction you have to stress and supporting a healthy emotional response to stress. For published research, please see this page.

Organic Stress Free Emotions supports natural resistance to emotional stress and fatigue. Diet, daily habits and ongoing stress are key factors that can contribute to imbalances in mind and body, leading to feelings of sadness and physical fatigue. The herbs promote self-confidence, positive thinking and feelings of fulfillment by balancing the subdosha of Pitta that governs emotional health (Sadhaka Pitta).

Immunity: Bio-Immune from Maharishi Ayurveda — This traditional formulation combines purifying herbs with nourishing minerals, including mica. The herbs and minerals help eliminate digestive impurities and toxins that can affect natural immunity. This aids healthy liver function and helps purify the blood. The herbs also promote a healthy resistance to stress and aid in the assimilation and metabolism of nutrients. Finally, they support communication between cells, an Ayurvedic key to healthy immunity. It takes over six months to prepare these herbs for use. Bio-Immune, in combination with Organic Premium Amla Berry and Organic Digest Tone, is a powerhouse for supporting immunity.

Energy: Organic Premium Amla Berry from Maharishi Ayurveda — Our Amla is prepared according to the ancient Ayurvedic texts — a 21-step process at a temperature below 90 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain the potency.

Gram for gram, Amla has 20 times the Vitamin C content of an orange. Good nutrition requires a balance of the six Ayurvedic tastes — sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Amla is one of just a handful of herbs that contain five of the six taste categories — all except salty. Such balanced nutrition means that Amla helps balance all three of the basic operating principles (doshas) of mind and body — Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Amla produces total health benefits. It helps strengthen the mind, eyes, heart, skin, and digestion, boosts cellular regeneration; and promotes a positive nitrogen balance for improved growth of muscle tissue.

Mind and Memory: Organic Youthful Mind from Maharishi Ayurveda — The Ayurvedic herbs in this formulationhelp remove the toxins that can block mental abilities. They also promote a healthy response to mental stress — regardless of age. The herbs in Organic Youthful Mindsupport innate learning ability, clarity and recall, mental energy and alertness levels, the growth of consciousness and full mental potential.

Heart: Cardio Support from Maharishi Ayurveda — The Ayurvedic herbs in this formula help maintain normal and clear arterial walls. They do this by aiding healthy digestion and supporting balanced fat metabolism. These herbs nourish the blood, muscles and functioning of the heart, to help keep the heart healthy as you age. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, the heart is the seat of ojas, the substance that maintains life and promotes bliss and longevity.

Prostate Health: Prostate Protection from Maharishi Ayurveda — From the Maharishi Ayurveda perspective, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of proper nutrients and urine retention can impact prostate health. The traditional Ayurvedic herbs in this formula deliver nutritional support over a broad range of targeted areas. They help balance testosterone levels and support vitality, promote healthy prostate size and function, purify the urinary tract, and support the body’s natural immune system. This blend of Ayurvedic ingredients helps cleanse genitourinary tract impurities caused by unhealthy dietary habits and exposure to environmental toxins. They also:

  • Support natural immunity in the genitourinary tract
  • Promote healthy urinary flow rate
  • Rejuvenate the reproductive system
  • Help maintain healthy prostate size and function
  • Enhance the reproductive fluid
  • Support tissue health in the prostate gland
  • Support healthy reproductive fluid
  • Support healthy libido

(Cover Photo By Quiltsalad, Flickr Creative Commons)

(Hiker photo By Padraic. Flickr Creative Commons)

(I originally wrote this blog for the Maharishi Ayurveda Blog [MAPI], March 25,2012. Reprinted with permission.) 

Categories: ayurveda, healthy living

BY LINDA EGENES

_DSC3833I personally don’t suffer from spring allergies, but since I live in the “allergen belt” of the great Mississippi River basin, I know a lot of people who do. Take my friend Carolyn. Every year when the spring grasses grew long enough for their first haircut, Carolyn’s nose started running and her eyes itched so much she had to miss work.

Then Carolyn started a traditional Ayurvedic treatment regime for spring allergies in February  to shore up her immune system before the spring allergen season hit.

In her own words, the result from her alternative allergy treatment was nothing short of miraculous. “When May and June rolled around my nose had stopped running, my eyes were no longer itching and I didn’t have to stop working for two weeks like I did before.”

What were the changes that helped Carolyn?

Three Steps to Cope with Spring Allergy symptoms:

Step 1: Cleansing the body of toxins and eating a lighter diet for two weeks while the seasons change.

This is especially important for allergen sufferers, as it is the accumulated toxins from winter that cause spring allergen reactions, and the accumulated toxins from summer that cause them in the fall.

In the weeks when winter is changing to summer in March, eating a nourishing diet of cooked, lightly spiced organic, fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and split mung bean (dhal) soups for protein can give your digestion a break. Staying away from cheese, ice cream and hard-to- digest foods such as leftovers and packaged foods will also help.

At the same time, you can take Elim-Tox (or Elim-Tox-O if you have more hot Pitta dosha in your body), because both products remove toxins through the liver, sweat, blood, urine and bowels. Taking 2-4 Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) tablets or Herbal Cleanse capsules at night will help sweep toxins out of the body through the elimination system.

Step 2: Eating according to the seasons.

During the allergen season (once spring starts), it’s best to follow the seasonal diet recommended for that season, taking into account your body type. For instance, spring is Kapha season, when the wet, cool qualities of Kapha dosha predominate. This is the perfect time to eat more soups and cooked greens, and to stay away from greasy foods and heavy desserts. An overloaded digestion can only lead to a build-up of digestive impurities that are at the basis of seasonal allergen reactions.

Turmeric, sage, coriander and cumin are effective spices for helping to cope with allergens, as they improve digestion and immunity.

Step 3: Taking herbal supplements to support immunity and clear away toxins simultaneously.

Herbal products such as Aller-Defense and Aller-Breathe are designed to support immunity and help in coping with spring allergens.

Aller-Breathe works by promoting resistance to allergens in the upper respiratory tract, opening the tiny passages of the lungs by clearing away toxins. It also helps to support the liver in screening the body’s toxins and digestive impurities.

Once the allergen season begins, taking Aller Defense simultaneously removes toxins from your body while supporting your immunity. These tablets also can help the body cope with allergens, promote digestion, cleanse the microcirculatory channels and decrease sensitivity to allergens by nourishing and purifying the liver.

(I originally wrote this blog for the Maharishi Ayurveda Blog [MAPI], May 10, 2012. Reprinted with permission.) 

Categories: ayurveda, healthy living

BY LINDA EGENES

IMG_0136As Valentine’s Day rolls around, we naturally get involved in matters of the heart. Yet when it comes to strengthening the emotional heart the rest of the year, many of us haven’t a clue.

Maharishi Ayurveda offers a unique view of the emotional heart. Just as there is a digestive fire in the stomach that metabolizes food, there is a similar function that metabolizes emotions. When this metabolic function, known as Sadhaka Pitta, is set too high, it can cause explosive emotions and irrational behavior. When it’s set too low, the person takes a long time to process negative emotions, making it impossible to let go and move on.

The secret to emotional health, then, is to balance the metabolic functions of the heart so you can relate to those around you in a loving, calm, and positive way. And because the emotions affect the body, balancing emotional stress is essential for keeping the physical heart healthy, too.

Here are ten ways to reduce emotional stress the ayurvedic way.

1. When you feel emotionally stirred up, drink a cup of rose petal herbal tea with milk.Roses have long been used to alleviate depression, anxiety, insomnia, and irritability. Milk also has a soothing effect on the emotions, but it’s easier to digest if you heat it to the boiling point first. Add cooling flavor with a pinch of cardamom or a teaspoon of rose petal jam, and let the milk cool before drinking.

2. Eat foods that are especially nourishing to the heart, including mature pomegranate fruit or juice; asparagus; sweet, juicy, seasonal fruits; rose petal jam; sweet yogurt drinks (lassi); avocado; and leafy greens. In general, eat more sweet, bitter, and astringent foods. Rather than eating a lot of seafood or red meat (which increase heat in the body), meet some of your protein requirements with soups made of small legumes, such as lentils or split mung beans.

3. Avoid excessively spicy and acidic foods such as chilies and tomatoes. Use cooling spices to flavor your food, like the Heart Healthy Spice Mixture:

  • 1 part ground turmeric
  • 2 parts ground cumin
  • 3 parts ground coriander
  • 4 parts ground fennel

Mix the spices and store airtight. When it is time to cook the meal, steam the vegetables. Melt a small amount of ghee in the pan and add enough spices to flavor the amount of vegetables you are cooking. Sauté the spices until the flavor is released. Add the vegetables, sauté lightly, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately. Both the weather and the foods you eat can quickly cause an imbalance in your physiology. When it’s hot outside, eat sweet, cooling foods.

4. Exercise every day. This helps keep digestion and elimination regular, cleanses toxins from the body, and releases endorphins, the hormones that are associated with a happy mood. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, it’s better to schedule half an hour of exercise every day rather than overdoing it three times a week. You can vary the intensity and type of exercise depending on your body type and strength. For people who are of slight build and tend to have trouble gaining weight, it’s better to start with gentle exercise such as yoga or walking. For people who are more competitive, team sports will be more appealing. And those with a sturdier build may need to increase the speed and intensity in order to stimulate their slower metabolism and stay in balance.

5. No matter what your body type, avoid overexertion of all kinds—both mental and physical. Working too hard, either physically or mentally, can cause the emotions to go out of balance. Plan leisure time every day, time for pure enjoyment. Listen to music, chat with your friends, take a moonlight stroll. Taking the time to appreciate the tranquil beauty of nature calms the heart.

6. Avoid skipping or delaying meals. This is so important for people who have a high digestive fire and may suddenly feel emotional when they are hungry. One of the best ways to avoid squabbles among the kids on family outings is to simply plan to eat regular meals. Schedule your main meal at noon, when your digestive fire is at its brightest and can metabolize food more efficiently.

7. Massage yourself every day with a cooling oil such as coconut oil. Ayurvedic oil massage releases toxins, improves blood circulation, and can help restore balance to body and mind.

8. Create a home environment that is pleasing and restful to the senses. Avoid watching too much TV at night, especially violent movies or shows. Rose aroma oil creates a soothing atmosphere and a cooling effect on the emotions.

9. Get your rest. Research shows that stress levels (and heart disease) soars among people who habitually stay up late. The body’s metabolic functions naturally shut down around 10 p.m.—so if you stay up and snack it disturbs the heart’s need to rest, recuperate, and cleanse. Try sleeping early two nights in a row and you’ll not only rest deeper, you’ll feel more emotionally balanced, too.

10. Nourish your emotional heart. Make it a point to tell your loved ones  why they are special to you. Practice gratitude and respect with your family and it will soon become a habit, generating the positive hormones and neuro-chemical reactions that create health instead of disease. Remember, your heart health depends more on the feelings you project rather than the feelings you receive.

And remember to take care of your physical heart, too. After all, it’s hard to overflow with love if you are ill. And to protect your heart, make sure your cholesterol levels are healthy, with a proper balance of good and bad cholesterol. February is National Heart Month—a reminder to schedule a checkup. You owe it to yourself and the people you love.

(I originally wrote this article for The Iowa Source, February 2010. Reprinted with permission.)

BY LINDA EGENES

make your healthy New Year's Resolutions stickWe all do it. We make grand resolutions on New Year’s day and break them the next. Yet there are ways to make your healthy resolutions stick. Here are some ideas.

1. Break it into baby steps. Most resolutions involve long-term goals, which can be daunting. If your dream is to get into shape, break it into small steps, like scheduling thirty minutes a day to exercise. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, it’s healthier to engage in mild exercise such as walking every day rather than doing an über-workout three times a week. Signing up for classes in dance, aerobics or yoga helps because once you pay the fee, you’ll feel motivated to show up. You’ll find yourself slimming down without even realizing it.

2. Make your resolutions concrete and action-oriented. Rather than resolving to eat a better diet, plan to eat five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Feel more energetic from eating right today and that success will motivate you to do it all over again tomorrow.

3. Try the one-day-at-a-time plan. If your goal is to feel more rested, choose one night a week to skip TV, engage in relaxing activities like taking a warm bath or listening to music, and get to bed early, by 9:30 pm. Drink a glass of warm milk with cardamom at 9:00 pm to relax your mind and prepare for an early sleep. Create a sleep-conducive atmosphere with Slumber Time Therapeutic Aroma. The pure, organic essential oils of Sweet Orange, Marjoram, Lavender and Jasmine are blended in a precise formula to help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. You’ll make better choices when you wake up rested. And after you establish the habit of one night a week, you can add on another night, and then another.

4. Make it fun! Find an exercise that is appealing to you, and foods that are healthy but tasty too. Join forces with a friend to cook a new recipe in the new year. Take a trip to your local health food store and select fresh, new-to-you ingredients to make a vitamin-filled but delicious meal. Reward yourself with great food shared with great friends.

5. Wish you could effortlessly feel inspired to meet your resolutions? Schedule a detox. It’s easier to spontaneously choose the right foods when your body is free of impurities. It’s also easier to exercise when sluggish toxins aren’t making you feel tired. The most important thing to do is to prevent toxins from forming in the first place. Eating organic, whole foods is the best way to stop toxins in the digestive tract and at the cellular level. You can also improve your elimination system (which carries toxins from the digestive tract out of the body through the bowel and urine) by eating a cooked apple and figs in the morning. Figs have more fiber than any other food. Adding more organic greens and other vegetables to your diet—flavored with detoxifying spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander and fennel—also helps the body eliminate toxins.

BY LINDA EGENES

Back to SchoolWith kids back at colleges and schools across the nation, everyone is wondering how to avoid getting the flu this fall. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 25 to 50 million cases of the flu are currently reported each year—leading to 150,000 hospitalizations and 30,000 to 40,000 deaths yearly. And while health authorities race to develop a flu vaccine for specific strains, they can only advise us to avoid traveling to affected areas and to wash our hands frequently to avoid the spread of germs.

Yet there is so much more that we can do to boost the immune system. In fact, the ancient science of Maharishi Ayurveda specializes in just this area: strengthening the body’s natural defenses. Even now, with this new virus testing our immune systems, there’s time to brush up on flu prevention.

If your body is filled with toxins, infection will find fertile ground for spreading disease, just as land that is fertile will sprout many seeds. Symptoms of the sticky, obstructive toxins that result from undigested food are stiff joints, sluggish digestion, dullness or headaches, and fatigue. If your digestion is strong and there is lightness and strength in your body, then the seeds of infection will not be able to take hold.

Here are five natural flu remedies and tips to boost your immune system.

1. Schedule a fall cleanse. Fall is a season of change—when the warm, humid days of summer are changing to the cool, dry, windy weather of autumn. This fluctuating weather can make our digestion weaker and cause us to fall sick with colds and flu in the fall.

The flu prevention antidote? Avert the danger with a cleanse during the few weeks when the weather is making its transition from summer to fall. Fall cleansing serves two purposes. First, it clears the toxins that have built up in the summer. And because digestive strength tends to fluctuate when the seasons are changing, eating lighter during this transition can actually boost your immunity and help avoid sickness.

Cleansing doesn’t mean that you have to fast for two weeks. It just means eating fresh, easy-to-digest foods that give your digestion a break and help it to process and eliminate toxins. Eat warm, cooked organic vegetables seasoned with spices, rice or whole grains such as quinoa and bulgar wheat, and for proteins favor soupy split-mung dal or other soups made from lentils or small legumes. Light dairy products, such as ghee (clarified butter), whole milk, and lassi (a probiotic digestion-enhancing drink made with water and freshly made yogurt) improve digestion and enhance immunity. Avoid eating cold foods and drinks, fried foods, hard cheeses, and meat during this time. And drink plenty of hot fluids between meals, such as hot water with lemon or herbal, uncaffeinated teas.

Eating lighter will fire up your digestion, eliminate toxins, and raise your immunity quotient. Maharishi Ayurveda also recommends taking a mild herbal laxative, such as senna tea, at night during this two-week cleanse.

2. Flavor your foods with an immune-boosting spice mixture. Mild spices actually boost digestive power and prevent toxins from building up. Here’s a mixture you can make at home.

6 parts turmeric
3 parts ground cumin
3 parts ground coriander
6 parts ground fennel
1 part powdered dry ginger
1 part ground black pepper
1/4 part ground cinnamon

When cooking, measure one teaspoon of the spice mixture in one tablespoon of ghee and heat until aroma is released. Apply this to cooked rice, vegetables, or other dishes. These spices will support your immune system and digestion.

3. Take herbs to assist a cleanse and boost the immune system. Look for herbal formulas that will enhance a deep, gentle detoxification program.

4. Geting plenty of rest is a natural flu remedy. Lifestyle also impacts immunity. Staying up late, working at night, eating at irregular times, and sleeping during the day can all affect the digestion and body rhythms—and thus compromise the immune system. That’s why it’s important to follow the Ayurvedic daily routine, arising early in the morning, before 6 a.m., and retiring before 10:00 p.m. Using essential aroma oils such as lavender and sweet orange can create a calming, peaceful atmosphere conducive to sleep.

5. If you do fall sick, consult your doctor! Stay home, drink plenty of hot liquids, get plenty of bed rest, and follow all of the tips mentioned above to help strengthen you through illness faster with more comfort.

(I originally wrote this article for The Iowa Source, October 2009. Reprinted with permission.)

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