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The Power of Water

July 3rd, 2017
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Everyone’s talking about interconnection these days, but one of the things I love about summer is how perfectly it reminds me of our primal relationship to water, and through water the most elemental forces of life.

Is there anything more simple, or more profound, than the feeling of quenching your thirst with a cold drink of water on a hot afternoon? I’m always astonished that something so basic can also be so delightful, and it leaves me feeling grateful, too. In recognizing the intensity of our reliance on water, for example, we can experience a corresponding gratitude for life’s ability to meet our needs with simplicity, efficiency and beauty. The way nature heals and nurtures us is staggering.

And for me, reviving that natural connection to the world around us creates the small picture, and it’s the big picture, too. On the biological level, water makes us, it replenishes our cells, and regulates our skin function. Our thoughts travel neuron to neuron through water. But this powerful force is also something that we share with all living beings, in both the plant and in the animal kingdoms. No wonder the act of watching or listening to running water has such an intensive ability to soothe.

This month I invite you to welcome the essential energy and purity of water into your world in any which way that moves you, whether by enjoying the act of sharing water with the plants, animals and people around you or by making time to sit by a body of water, or even by taking a moment to savor how wonderful it feels to be fulfilled by water. After all, when we recognize this elemental connection, we find ourselves going with the flow, and living our true essence.

In Full Bloom

June 2nd, 2017
My Garden

In our family garden, June is the sweetest month, when each day we marvel at the wonders of this simple paradise full of roses, herbs and flowers in bloom. The bees dart in and out of our hive, and butterflies hover and alight in the butterfly garden I planted with my daughter. Breathe deeply and you’ll catch the scent of Magnolia, Almond Bush, and Ylang-Ylang floating on the breeze.

It all seems so magical! But, as ever, the plants also offer such poignant teachings about the everyday, and seeing the thrilling blooming exuberance of this spot, I’m also reminded of all the loving care these plants have received over many months in order to reach such breathtaking heights.

It is, of course, the same with us. Coming fully into bloom takes all kinds of care and patience, a sustained effort that pays off like nothing else. The nurturing formulations I’ve created—using some favorite medicinal plants of my garden—offer just that kind of precious and powerful natural healing, the kind that can’t be replicated with a quick-fix. Take, for example, our flower waters—replenishing Bulgarian Rose Water, soothing Roman Chamomile Tonic, and energizing Essential C Tonic, containing Lemongrass. For me, these three are pure plant-based healing at its best—refined and deeply healing on so many levels. But I also love the connection that this blooming brings to us all. Take a moment to experience the uplifting rush nature delivers through its flowers—grab a wild bouquet at the farmer’s market or bejewel your salad with edible blossoms. Make it a point of enjoying all this blooming beauty!

After all, bloom-time is also the best time to remember that when we simply are who we are, we bloom, too, becoming a true force of nature. There is nothing like gazing at the perfect rose to remind us of all the potential we embody when we are true to ourselves. This month my wish for us all is to find the time and the space to flower into all that we are.

A Little Tenderness

May 4th, 2017
Blog_May2017_565x376web Lately, on my days in the treatment room, I’ve been finding myself prescribing more tenderness to almost everyone I treat. It seems that so many of us these days need a little more care and a little more time and focus to address our sensitivities, on every level, with warm gentleness. And what could be more natural during the month when we celebrate Mother’s Day, than to reintroduce a loving, nurturing touch to our daily routines? It’s often said that the skin serves as a mirror, showing so easily what’s going on inside. We blush when we’re embarrassed. The under-eyes are heavy when we’re tired. And when we’re stressed, the skin mirrors that reality. It’s incredible to think that when our bodies first formed in the womb, the brain, nervous system and skin all developed from the same cells, and that special connection reveals itself when our emotions play out through the skin. You know how the complexion just glows when someone is newly in love, or the way in which it dulls when times are rocky. Stressed skin heals more slowly and is more reactive, while, at the same time, cortisol undermines its strength, breaking down collagen and causing premature aging. And yet, beyond the way that emotions effect us, the skin might also be overwhelmed with personal care products, irritation through food allergies, or inflammation due to environmental factors. There’s a lot going on! My wish is that we could all take the time to give the skin a break—a real chance to rest and breathe. Throughout the day I like to stay mindful of my breath, stopping to take a dozen deep replenishing breaths whenever I can, drawing fresh oxygen down into the lower belly and letting the exhale happen on its own. But it’s also important to give the skin time to simply be, washing off any makeup and whisking away environmental toxins as soon as you come home. At the same time, if you feel you are processing a lot of emotion, or busyness, you might give your liver a boost. The liver breaks down toxins in the body, and when its overwhelmed, those materials pass through the skin instead. Raw vegetable juices are great support in the detoxification process, and it’s also so beneficial to include plenty of magnesium in your diet. This natural stress reducer is found in dark, leafy greens, seaweed, avocados, bananas, and oily fish (mackerel, sardines and tuna). My Purifying Cleansing Gel formulation includes magnesium-rich Alfalfa leaf, which so beautifully re-balances the complexion, while a simple Epsom salt bath also delivers magnesium through the skin. Just like a mother might soothe her little one, I hope you’ll feel inspired this month to follow your intuition with a mother’s care, feeling into what your skin needs right now, and guided by the sweet touch of tenderness.

A Deep Spring Cleanse

March 2nd, 2017
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Spring is bursting with transformational energy. The sun is shining bright, seeds are splitting, leaves are unfurling, and buds forming—“The green fuse drives the flower,” is how poet Dylan Thomas once put it. It’s a wonderful time to indulge in some detoxification and deep cleansing, a purifying spring practice described for centuries in so many ancient traditions.

Of course, the season’s powerful energy is also manifested within each of us, on the cellular level and on the level of the spirit. Is there a specific area of your life where you’d like to clear out the old and bring the new? For anyone with a targeted skin concern, this is a great time to start a new daily routine—preferably after a preliminary deep cleanse. (My exfoliant-peel Epi-Peel is very supportive with this process.) At the same time, you might commit yourself to a few weeks of more general detoxification and cleansing, drinking more water every day, eating more anti-oxidant rich vegetables in their natural, raw state (or even making a commitment to cook your vegetables a little more lightly). During the springtime, many holistic practitioners prescribe tonic herbs, those leafy green plants that emerge early in the season and strengthen and invigorate the body. These include Mint, and Nettle leaf, which can be added to tea (try my morning elixir, found in the newsletter’s Tips section). Bring a renewed vibrancy to your salad bowl with fresh Dandelion greens—a remarkable detoxifier—and young sprouts of every sort. These changes can be subtle, but if they are made with true intention, they will deliver big change.

In Christian traditions, early March formally marks the beginning of Lent, and the ritual renunciation of those 40 days. No matter what your spiritual path, it can be fruitful to experiment with the practice of emptying out a certain area of your life so that a bright freshness can refill it. For example, by eliminating processed sugar from your diet, you will certainly discover some tasty new treats. And if you decide to cut down on screen-time for six weeks, you might be thrilled by what fills that void—more creativity, perhaps, or more connection with family and friends. Sure the first few days will be a challenge, but there is a momentum, a tradition and natural collective energy to buoy you along fully at this time of year.

 

Roses & Rebirth

February 6th, 2017
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In the month named for “februare”—the Latin word for “to purify”—we can connect with the uplifting energy of cleansing and rebirth, all the while caring for ourselves in an atmosphere of softness that guides fresh, new light into our lives. And what a gift it is to fall into that tender space with an open heart.

I always find peace both by connecting with heartfelt community, my dear friends and family, and of course among the precious plants. This month I’ll turn to botanical remedies that encourage a gentle renewal on every level—especially pure Essence of Rose, a key ingredient in some of our most well-loved formulations, including Bulgarian Rose Water and Quintessential Serum. Not only does the exquisite Essence of Rose contain rejuvenating, nutritive essentials that heal the skin, but it’s unparalleled in its ability to deepen spiritual connections at the heart’s center. In a similar way, I’m drawn towards Rose Quartz, which tenderly reawakens the heart and supports a renewed connection with the divine. Both of these powerful natural treasures has the capacity to brighten the path with such warmth.​

To experience the synergy of their incredible natural energies at work this month, you might indulge in a super-charged bath carrying the vibrational resonance of both Rose and Rose Quartz by allowing several handfuls of fresh (or dried) rose petals to steep in the sun along with a favorite Rose Quartz crystal in a gallon-sized jar of water for several hours. Then, for the ultimate evening soak, add your sun-drenched brew to a bath spiked with our exclusive Très Rose Body Oil. So sweetly serene, cleansing your field with a fresh energy, bright and soft. ​

I’m grateful for the many ways in which we can use nature’s generous gifts to enter softly into the new with both a fresh outlook and a heartwarming sense of connection to everything around us.

A Time of Alignment

January 21st, 2017

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Whenever I synchronize my intentions and energies with the forces of nature all around us—whether by getting in tune with each new season as it arrives, or making time to just be in the garden, or by keeping an eye on the stars—I notice what strength it brings my heart and what a boost it lends to my daily rhythm. So for me, this month is all about coming into alignment, underlining the natural connections that empower us, and those that lead us towards joy.

If you have an astrological bend, you may have noted reports that the end of 2016 also marked an end of a bigger cycle, introducing a time when every planet in our solar system is moving forward, a more harmonious alignment than at any other point in their collective orbit patterns. The star-watchers say that between January 7 and February 6th, we have a chance not only to shed what is no longer useful to us, and to inspire change at the most fundamental levels, but also to come together in a fresh way by tapping into the energetic momentum of this moment. It’s the kind of cosmic shift that has the potential to uplift and expand so many possibilities, for abundance and for brightening the collective consciousness. It’s a very sweet synchronicity.

Of course, nature’s own medicinal gifts offer the perfect bridge into these bright times. One great way to connect with the specific vibration of the day is through Helichrysum, which not only has miraculous effects on the skin, stimulating new cell growth and strengthening connective tissue, but which can move stagnant chi energy. Like no other remedy, Helichrysum calls in alignment. It’s an essence that can gently, lovingly nudge us and guide us forward, and its energetic frequency resonates with the heart and with that of the earth, bringing the two closer together. You can experience the Pure Living Energy of Helichrysum through my Intensive Repair Balm, or by introducing the essential oil into your daily routine.

It’s a wonderful new year—Let’s come into alignment as we come together.

I’m feeling so very fortunate to continue this journey with you.

The Power of Curiosity: Keep the Spark Alive

November 22nd, 2016
blog-photo-books Every evening, after precious time with my family, enjoying each other’s company, I have the lucky opportunity to indulge my great private passion—reading and researching surrounded by a giant pile of books.

It may not sound exciting, but those happy hours I spend in following my curiosity absolutely fuel my days, and, as recent scientific research has shown, cultivating curiosity is one of the keys to living a joy-filled life. I’m happy to share with you some of my thoughts on tuning into curiosity.

Embrace the New: When we encounter new things, our bodies naturally release dopamine, the neurotransmitter which activates the brain’s pleasure center. This is true for trying new foods, listening to new music, making new friends, and planting new seeds. Our innate capacity for adventure brings a sweet tingle through all our cells, and especially when we are enjoying the wonders of the natural world. Visiting nature with an open sense of curiosity, allows excitement and wonder and curiosity to course through us. It is incredibly healing medicine.

Change the Channels: So often in our days, when facing the unknown, we fall into worry. Curiosity—while often described as anxiety’s close cousin—meets the unexpected with joy instead of dread. Following your own sense of curiosity creates new pathways in the brain, increasing the number of neurons and neural connections. And in helping the brain remember that love of curiosity, which was certainly there in each of us as a child, we become flexible and resilient and regain our love of surprise.

Fresh Eyes: What’s incredible, however, is that we don’t have to wander far in order to cultivate curiosity. While it’s fascinating to see life from a different perspective by breaking out of our old routines, which happens so often for me when I travel, bringing curiosity into the everyday is also a thrill. I think you’ll be amazed what can happen when you set out for a short walk or even your daily commute with the intention of seeing something you have never noticed before. The world can seem to vibrate as we tune into curiosity and suddenly so much unseen beauty is revealed in our everyday lives.

Young at Heart: When we strive to learn something new every day, the heart stays active and the mind bright. We often associate the alertness and enthusiasm of curiosity with youth, but curiosity is something that we don’t have to give up as we grow older. In fact, quite the opposite, curiosity guards the mind against rigidity as we age.

Listening In: In a way, as with meditation and many mindfulness practices, practicing curiosity has an incredible ability to bring us closer to our own intuitions, and to finding our own inner guidance. We never know what we’ll find by listening in deeply and being willing to follow the heart into fascinating new realms. But that’s the point! When we stay curious, we may even discover the kind of rich happiness that breathes fresh meaning into life.

Ayurvedic Tips for Transformation

September 6th, 2016
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I was introduced to the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda therapies in the early 90’s, and have incorporated Ayurvedic massage and essences into my facial treatments ever since. Ayurvedic practices support a truly beautiful way of living, and one that I crave and incorporate into my days in as many ways as I can, whether at home or in my treatments.

One of the things I love about Ayurveda is its focus on our daily rhythms, which brings balance into our lives. In following the Ayurvedic tradition, every new season we have the opportunity to tweak, refine and optimize our routines, a process called ritucharya. Generating a fresh daily schedule with intention brings mindful awareness and loving care into creating just the right conditions for each individual to flourish. So, with fall just around the corner, I’m happy to share with you a few of my favorite Ayurvedic tips for transformation.

First Light: Ayurvedic tradition regards the early pre-dawn with a special reverence, recognizing that it holds a uniquely potent vibrancy. While you might think rising that early will leave you tired, for many it’s worth experimenting with rising before the sun (even by 15 minutes). Remarkably, that special pre-dawn vibration can super-charge the rest of your day.

Oil Pulling: Even before taking a sip of water, I practice oil pulling daily, swishing a small spoonful of sesame oil around the mouth for several minutes (some prefer coconut oil). This ancient traditional remedy removes toxins without stripping plaque from teeth or harming the gums, and impacts immune health, whisking away impurities and bacteria.

Kick Start: Over the years I’ve often mentioned my habit of starting the day with a glass of water and lemon, which is also recommended in Ayurvedic practice. However, if this doesn’t suit you, you might try another Ayurvedic prescription—drinking a cup of hot water sweetened with a spoonful of raw, local honey. Both early morning beverages offer a wonderful range of benefits by strengthening the immune system and activating the digestive tract, so your body can better release toxins.

Purely Luminous: During the dry fall months, Ayurvedic practitioners recommend spending several minutes each morning massaging pure, warmed oils into the skin, which improves circulation, stimulates lymphatic flow and brings a beautiful luminosity to the skin. The heated oil absorbs deeply, and is very nourishing. Simply warm your favorite body oil—Bulgarian Lavender Body Oil is perfect—by putting the bottle in a container of very hot water for several minutes. Massage from the top of the body downward with the warmed oil, starting with the head and scalp, then the ears, neck and shoulders. Massage the arms with long strokes, and work with a circular motion for the chest, abdomen and hips. The legs can be treated also with long strokes, and you might spend a little extra time on the hands and feet. If you can, let the oil penetrate for several minutes, then wash clean in a warm shower.

Raw Power: Ayurveda recognizes that when some foods are cooked—or over-cooked—the heating process breaks down their natural benefits. The 5,000-year-old tradition prescribes raw fresh fruit in the fall, a season defined by its dry coldness, as well as grounding, soothing root vegetables, including beets and carrots as well as plenty of nuts and seeds.

Awakening the Senses: Becoming more aware of the seasons as they change through observing the sensations that come through our senses—watching the way the light changes and the natural landscape transforms, listening to the natural sounds in our environment—can also guide us into a deeper awareness of our emotions, and has the power to illuminate our relationship with stress, or to help us more fully experience gratitude for our connection.

All Together: On Sundays, I love to pick vegetables and herbs from my garden to make a traditional Ayurvedic Indian dinner for my family. It’s fun to listen to traditional Classical Indian music each week while preparing the meal—what lovely sound therapy!

I hope you’ll experience all the uplifting, re-invigorating power held in these simple and transformative practices. Over time, even the smallest shifts in our seasonal routine create momentum and true transformation.

Hands-On

June 20th, 2016
  Blog Image_TF Hands I’ve often felt that my work comes through my hands, whether I’m working one-on-one in the treatment room or blending formulas in the apothecary. Touch is a transmission of energy, and of intention, holding so much potential in all that we do. Our hands communicate our thoughts with subtle eloquence, but they also facilitate our most important connections, not only through our work, but in touching the things and people we love, or so simply when we prepare a meal or bring flowers to a vase. It feels especially wonderful to cherish these precise, beautiful instruments—our hands—with extra loving care. At the Spa, we always take time to protect and nourish the delicate skin of the hands, but also to activate their natural capacity for healing with massage, which so easily brings relaxation to the whole being. You can try this at home: After a bath or a shower, try wrapping the hands in a warm towel for a few moments, then treat yourself to a simple hand massage with Rose Geranium & Tangerine Body Lotion. (Working in a circular motion will encourage micro-circulation.) The formulation contains phytohormones that firm and tone the skin, while also stimulating cell metabolism and regeneration. Rose soothes the heart and rebalances the Qi. Geranium calms the nerves. At the same time, while almost every ancient medicinal tradition utilizes healing pressure points on the hands to support wellness, there are two especially sensitive points which are easy to find: the webbing between index finger and thumb is richly sensitive. The point is called the Valley of Harmony in Chinese medicine, and helps relieve overall tension and any pain. The second point is known as the Gate of Spirit, and encourages emotional calm. When your hand is palm-up, it’s easy to find a small indentation along the pinky side, just where the wrist and palm meet. You'll know this vibrant spot when you find it!  And you may discover that these points could do with an extra moment or two of focus. Honoring the hands in this simple way can be a true pleasure.

True Value

June 1st, 2016

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If your spring has been anything like mine—bustling, busy and full to bursting—entering into summer offers the perfect opportunity to re-orient towards all that matters to us most, putting aside the to-do list for a moment in order to bring delight back into our days. Surrounded by distractions, bounded by commitments, it’s so easy to lose sight of what is truly important, especially when what we value seems small. But isn’t it funny that when we take a moment to stop and think, it’s somehow the small things that matter most? This is an expression of our true wish for joy. We often undervalue the ways in which we express our love for life, whether that might mean taking the time to walk, instead of driving, or reaching out to a friend, cooking a meal from scratch, lingering in the garden, singing in the car, letting a child plan out the afternoon, getting back into a favorite exercise routine. For myself, I love to carve out time to appreciate nature, especially the plant life all around us, which provides our living food source, as well as precious medicinal remedies, while inspiring the senses. For me, there is nothing like enjoying the simple beauty of flowers, whether in a vase or in the wild, their aroma, and their energy.   Yet indulging in these love-filled, life-full luxuries can all too easily slip into last place. They’re not quantifiable, and they’re set aside in the name of practicality. But while a sensible diet and good sleep habits do wonders for our health, increasing vitality, strength and resilience, it's these small and impractically beautiful gestures that fuel the fire and re-kindle our life-force, touching the deep core of who we are. To be sure, if there was a universal holistic prescription for glowing skin, it would embrace our desire for simple happiness. There is so much potential for beauty everywhere we turn, and especially when we allow life’s small gifts back into our days, letting the truth of who we are shine.


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