November 23rd, 2015
Happily, at the Spa we work surrounded by candles, and it’s such a luxury to absorb their warm, flickering and friendly light. Candles are soft on the eyes and cast a loving glow, while consistently clearing and cleansing the energetic fields around us and reminding us of our truest intentions. But I also love to light candles at home—they literally rekindle my inner flame, and soothing candlelight is so helpful to meditation, softening the edges both literally and figuratively, and inviting an easy tranquility that supports introspection.
It’s lovely to find a quiet space where you simply sit in solitude for a moment or two, perhaps surrounding your candle with objects that resonate for you, from nature, or from your life. (Choosing a toxin-free beeswax candle, rather than one made from petroleum-based paraffin, is best.)
The ancient practice of yogic candle gazing, or Trakata—fixing the eyes on a candle for some length of time, then, with eyes closed, visualizing the flame at the brow’s center—opens and cleanses the “third eye,” at the pineal gland, our seat of intuition, bolstering focus and concentration, bringing clarity and releasing stress. In the morning, you might light a candle while you perform your beauty ritual, or do your yoga routine, warming the heart.
During the day, you might keep a candle on your desk, bringing focus and intention to your work. And, of course, nothing is sweeter than dinner by candlelight. At the day’s end, that amber light has the added benefit of preparing the body for rest. Our circadian rhythms are hugely influenced by our exposure to light, as the eyes connect to the rest of the neurological network via the hypothalamus, regulating sleep cycles and hormonal fluctuations. Lighting a candle before bedtime is very effective.
Our connection to the warmth of fire at that moment is visceral and ancient. All that power in one small flame! As the holiday season grows near, and as we find ourselves surrounded by this symbol of hope, celebration and prayer, let’s find creative new ways to usher candlelight into our lives wherever and whenever we can.
November 17th, 2015
So often we find ourselves in expansion mode, stretching to meet all of life’s challenges. But isn’t a relief when the light fades a little and we can loosen up just a touch on the reins? Often, people feel very swept up by spring’s effervescent energy, which will arrive in just 6 short months. But in order to benefit fully from that seasonal fizz, we need to counter with quietude and introspection when the time is right. And that moment is now!
As the days grow slightly shorter, even here in bright and mild Palm Beach, a movement towards cocooning feels so right. We can’t hibernate, but we can use nature’s momentum to guide us towards nourishing and replenishing our inner depths.
At home, that might mean applying a thick pack of Purifying Lucent Masque or Restorative Radiance Masque and allowing all the nutrients and energizing essences of those formulas to absorb, while disconnecting for fifteen minutes of blissful rest. In the same way, at the Spa, clients are enjoying the transformative indulgence of our Botanical Body Wrap, which incorporates a warmed body masque, made with decadent Rose, Jasmine and Lotus flower oils and mineral-rich clays. With both treatments, the physical feeling of cocooning is so delightful, and that conscious gesture wakes up an inner movement of the spirit.
I think you’ll find that turning the attention inward with a loving intention to comfort and to replenish will almost immediately ignite the heart chakra, ushering in both a feeling of groundedness and an uplifting sensation right at the core.
October 31st, 2015
The more I learn about the plant world, the more I’m amazed by the knowledge it holds and the parallels and teachings nature offers in our own lives. Take, for example, the potent reality and the metaphoric magic of roots.
Autumn is a root time of year, when hearty root vegetables are harvested, and when we can best benefit from all that they hold. Right now, my garden is bursting with sweet potatoes, ginger and turmeric, and, as I well know through my work in botanical medicine, these roots are full of potency. Roots are where plants store vast concentrations of vital energy, which is why I use so many root remedies in my formulas—from Fo-Ti to Burdock to Iris.
At the same time, my appreciation of these incredible medicinal remedies helps me remember the importance of my own energetic roots. Often the clients I see at this time of year are pulling from their deep energetic reserves—their roots—and some feel close to running on empty. We’ve all been there, and sometimes we all forget to do what’s necessary to keep from getting depleted. But now is the time. Whatever it is that best feeds your own depths—whether it’s music, movement, practicing gratitude, or a connection with nature—as we transition towards a time of less light, it’s important to replenish the deepest parts of who we are. It’s a time to restore the inner resources that we draw on most.
Of course, what’s good for the soul is also good for the skin! Nourishing deeply, beyond the shallow surface, is crucial. One formula that seems to work so well at these times is Quintessential Serum, ultra-concentrated with nutrients and also deeply grounding. I hope you’ll try it and let me know whether you agree.
And, in the meantime, I am wishing you a season of beautiful bounty!
October 2nd, 2015
What to do with all the busy, buzzy energy that swirls around us during these seasonal transitions? The feeling is light and flutter-y—which can be so delightful! But it can also translate into a distracted, edgy feeling, which, frankly, can be a little much to bear.
We like to say that getting “grounded” is the cure, and if you think about it quite literally, the analogy couldn’t be more perfect. We use ground wires to rebalance electrical systems, allowing excess current to discharge safely by connecting with the earth. And that’s quite literally what getting in touch with nature—directly with the earth—can do for us, too.
At the most primal level, that connection can be physical, literally a connection to the ground under your feet, or the tree against your back. When was the last time you lay on the grass? With pure intention, you might release the static-y, buzz of transitional energy into the deep blue sky on an out-breath. If you live near an ocean, or lake, river or pond, then let the water can carry your cares away like a sigh. It all starts with a gesture of caring for ourselves and with a true wish to ground our presence in the here-and-now with bright, fresh focus.
Of course, for me, an invaluable, grounding connection also comes directly through the Pure Living Energy of the earth's sacred medicinal plants, which can help us so gracefully to find the still-point in a too-quickly turning world. For me, nothing counters that flighty, tapped-out feeling quite like Quintessential Serum. This remedy is ultra-concentrated, and is deeply focused with soothing, nourishing essence of Rose, and with Frankincense, which subtly smoothes the flow of chi
. It’s true heart’s relief.
May autumn find you happily re-grounded and heart-full!
September 25th, 2015
As I’m creating formulas or working with clients in the treatment room, I’m often wonderstruck by the intricate beauty of our skin. As an essential part of the body’s immune defenses, skin protects us against infection, with incredibly exacting precision. Skin cells are so intelligent, discriminating between potentially detrimental microorganisms and the beneficial, symbiotic microbiata that actually help promote immunity. And, as we all know, the relationship is reciprocal: a strong, stable immune system results in glowingly healthful skin.
At this time of year, as many of us transition into cooler weather, the body is especially vulnerable to infection. It’s a great time to shore up the immune defenses with a super-boost of beneficial nutrients. Incorporating broccoli and spinach (both rich in Vitamin A) is a wonderful way to empower your diet, while also including almonds (packed with Vitamin E) or Green Tea (a fantastic antioxidant). Vitamin C, of course, is our culture’s classic remedy, an antioxidant that supports the immune system (and also encourages healthy collagen production). It’s one of the key ingredients in many of my favorite formulations—from Purifying Cleansing Gel to Essential-C Tonic and Antioxidant Crème, with Neroli and Orange.
In the ancient ayurvedic tradition, these seasonal transitions are very important for maintaining balance, and one of the most sacred medicinal remedies, turmeric, offers a wealth of benefits to immune health and to skin as autumn arrives. For more than 4,000 years, turmeric has been celebrated as a natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. It offers detoxification, purifying and nourishing skin, as well as energetic cleansing and a purification of the inner life-force.
If you’re feeling low-energy, or like you might be coming down with a cold, or if you’d simply like to take advantage of all that turmeric has to offer, there are plenty of creative ways to incorporate this gorgeous golden root into your day—in soups or sauces, rice dishes or smoothies. As many of you know, I love to start the day with a glass of hot water and lemon. Mixing in a 1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated turmeric root, and a little raw honey, and, perhaps a little fresh ginger, electrifies that morning ritual. Some like to keep a little jar of honey and turmeric paste on hand (1/3 cup raw honey to 2 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric is Heidi Swanson’s recipe), stirring a little spoonful into hot water every now and again to keep the bright, bold cleansing vibes going strong all day long. Please take great care of yourself this fall!
September 17th, 2015
Here in Palm Beach, we are happily blessed all year round with beautiful fruits and vegetables at our local farmers’ market, but in September there’s a special buzz in the air as the traditional Fall harvest invites us to re-invent the ultimate salad, bringing together bold new tastes in order to absorb a seasonal burst of supercharged nutrients in support of great eating and good health.
Naturally, some of the most delightful powerhouse ingredients also boast a whole host of incomparable benefits for skin. Take kale, for example, skin’s favorite nutrient-dense super-food, full of the potent antioxidant Lutein, which supports healthy cell growth, as well as an array of immunity boosting vitamins. Gorgeous sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes are packed with Selenium, another strong antioxidant that helps to repair skin. Fresh broccoli, just lightly steamed, if at all, is packed with Vitamin C. And nothing beats the crispy and crunchy toppings—seaweed, seeds and nuts, rich in fatty acids, selenium and zinc.
Of course, though we may forget what our grandmothers knew so well, all vegetables are not created equal, and sometimes eating for vitality requires looking with fresh eyes at what goes into our shopping baskets—and, ultimately into our bodies. No matter how pristinely packaged that drab, pale sack of supermarket spinach may be, it's probably not the uplifting, healing, nurturing choice we’ve been searching for.
The salad I crave isn’t sad and penitent or rote, but a robust and utterly flavorful celebration of all that’s delicious and satisfying, with each ingredient selected just at the peak of its ripe perfection. Let's go local. And let's go for what looks irresistibly, divinely beautiful while the harvest is in full swing.
This week, why not leave the shopping list behind and let intuition lead you through the market. What does your body hunger for? Let the beauty of the bounty call you—heart, body and soul—towards those items that you just can’t help bringing to the plate.
September 3rd, 2015
Slipping into a new season provides a great opportunity to change rhythms. If your summer was dreamy and loose, transitioning to fall might mean a return to structure—and to good sleeping habits, one of the most fundamental paths to healing body, mind, spirit and skin.
We all know the telltale signs of a sleepless night—the dark circles and the dullness—but new scientific studies show that sleep deprivation effects every aspect of wellness, from cardiac health to brain function.
Of course, sleep loss also increases signs of aging—the fine lines, uneven tone and reduced elasticity. When we sleep, our cells work to undo the environmental damage of the day, making deep repairs at the foundation, and making sleep radically important for the skin. During sleep, collagen destroying cortisol levels are at their lowest, while growth hormones prolactin and melatonin, as well as anti-inflammatory beta-endorphins, are at their highest.
At the same time, skin is at its most vulnerable at night, with its ability to retain moisture greatly decreased, making a carefully chosen night cream essential. During this prime-healing span, when absorption is also optimal, skin needs rich nutrients, as well as protection against further moisture loss.
But while there are a handful of incredible formulas available to support health and healing, nothing can replicate the benefits of a solid eight hours of rest—yes, eight! Nothing beats sleep. I like to begin my evening ritual by cleansing my skin, reflecting on my day, gearing down with gentle intent. Another useful suggestion made by sleep experts is to turn off electronic devices a full 90 minutes before going to bed, switching over to reading instead. Another is keeping a consistent bedtime.
If you think of it, constantly altering your bedtime or waking time is like being continually jet-lagged. If you put your heart into it and commit to a new sleeping plan—even just for a month—I think you’ll agree that the body simply loves this so-simple luxury. Down time is actually our primetime, re-balancing everything you need to meet each day with the full force of your spirit. Sleep tight!
August 22nd, 2015
As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of dry-brushing. So let me tell you a little about how this simple habit can help purify your skin, and burnish your summer glow. As you might guess, taking a few minutes each day to dry-brush your skin with a natural-bristled brush exfoliates dead surface cells, giving skin a smooth, fresh look. Exfoliating liberates sweat and oil glands, allowing the body to breathe, while improved circulation promotes the efficient absorption of oxygen and essential nutrients that support cell regeneration.
But dry-brushing also re-activates the lymphatic system, the body’s own detoxification mechanism. When our skin can’t easily rid itself of toxins, that can stress the rest of the body. By stimulating the lymphatic system—so vital to overall health—dry brushing encourages lymphatic fluid to flush away accumulated pollutants and impurities, ridding the body of bacteria, metabolic waste, toxins and all the things that can keep us feeling sluggish and tired, which also can give the complexion a dull or puffy look. (That explains, of course, why the Lymphatic Drainage Massage is so popular at our Spa.) The skin benefits from wonderful anti-aging effects, the immune system gets a boost, and the body’s tissues are rejuvenated.
I recommend two brisk minutes of dry-brushing every morning before showering. Start at the bottom of the feet and work with swift strokes upwards along the legs, always towards the heart, which encourages lymph flow in the right direction. In the same way, brush the arms back towards the heart. Dry-brushing can help reduce the appearance of cellulite and fat deposits, though it’s important to treat these areas with a light touch, as the underlying tissues there are already damaged. Brush the back. The abdomen can be brushed in a clockwise direction. Then, more delicately, brush the chest and neck. Afterwards, a quick, tingly shower washes away toxins, followed with an application of Bulgarian Lavender Body Oil on still-damp skin ensures a total replenishment.
The feeling of the dry-brush may take a little getting used to, but once you experience the results, I think you’ll see just how valuable cultivating this simple habit can be.
August 7th, 2015
There are a million ways to get your blood moving, but for me none of them compares with dance, which both re-energizes and softens the spirit. The power of movement in dance is like no other, and this summer I’ve felt that so strongly. I make time to dance at least twice a week, and find it a beautiful expression of spirituality and of freedom. It is a miraculous path to focus and to connection.
Of course, on the physical level, dance burnishes our inner glow so brightly—and that shines through in the complexion. Not only does dance affect endorphin levels, dissolving chemical stressors and uplifting our senses with an overall feeling of joy, it’s also a great way to move stagnant energy of every kind. The body tingles all over.
Summertime is a great time to say yes to dancing with friends, partners, our children, whether in a dance class or in the kitchen. But you don’t need to get caught up with all the reasons that might keep you from dancing. You don’t need a partner, a choreographer, an audience—or even a mirror—to experience the healing, soulful benefits.
All you need to do is to quiet your mind and let your body move. So simple! You only need your daring willingness to let your true self shine through.
August 1st, 2015
It happens to all of us—we enjoy a beautiful, long day at the beach or in the garden so much more than our skin does. But not to worry! Here are my favorite post-sun tips, which should quickly restore and revive depleted skin.
Though sunblock protects skin, it can also strip our natural protective barrier and draw away moisture, so you should remove it at the earliest possible moment. In the summer heat, Purifying Cleansing Gel, full of healing spearmint, has such a wonderfully cooling effect. I use a few pumps in a cool-to-luke-warm shower as an invigorating face and body wash.
In order to help the complexion rebound, I love the nourishing oils blended into Capillary Strengthening Blend—from Chamomile, Neroli and Rose to Carrot Seed—all soothing and anti-inflammatory healing antidotes that support new growth and replenish vital nutrients.
After a day of sun, it also feels great to treat your over-heated body with therapeutically fragrant Bulgarian Lavender Body Oil. Lavender, besides leading the mind into a restful, balanced state, can reduce sunburn pain. And a good night’s sleep is absolutely essential to healing, as skin repairs itself most efficiently during our resting hours.
The oils included in all these formulas penetrate skin deeply and quickly, to speed recovery, while their true aromas keep that joyful summer mood buoyant.
I hope you’re enjoying all that summer has to offer!