21 December 2011

More veggie meals, please

Tonight, I had a delectable dinner. It was vegetarian-based, required very few ingredients, and better yet, very little prep time. When I get home from work, the last thing I need to do is to create more work for myself. Easy-peasy is my mantra when it comes to making dinner. Furthermore, I strive to maximize my "free" time to the fullest extent, so conjuring up quick, no-frills platters is a top priority.

The dish I whipped up within minutes tonight, consisted of the following ingredients:

- Bell peppers
- Mushrooms
- Garlic
- Quinoa
- Black beans
- Soy sauce (I used liquid aminos)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Water

The above ingredients were combined on the stove-top and within a few minutes, my meal was fully cooked. So simple and so good, and surprisingly filling. Next time, I'll take pictures. It was much too long a day today, and I was much too famished (I know, excuses, excuses, haha) to run to the other room and grab my camera. However, this definitely won't be the last time I make this, so stay tuned for the colorful photos to be posted at a later date. For those who give this meal idea a go, please let me know how it turns out. I am sure your palate will not be disappointed!

If anyone has veggie-laden quick 'n easy dinner ideas to share, please do. Why veggie-laden, you ask? I am looking to scale back on my meat consumption due to personal values and interests. My affinity for animals coupled with my desire to optimize my health are the primary reasons. For non-vegetarians out there like me, if you take a few moments to reflect on how much meat you eat throughout the week, you might be surprised; not in a pleasant way, that is. While I think meat is a crucial source of protein and other nutrients, moderation is most likely prudent. I am not a doctor or nutritionist, so I do not really what specific quantity of meat is truly safe to consume. However, I am very interested in finding out. If anyone out there has any insight to my meat-eating dilemma, please enlighten me.

29 November 2011

Quick tips for making your hair look its best.

Here are some quick tips which are easy to apply to your hair care ritual to improve the health and appearance of your hair. Make modifications as necessary, to suit your individual hair and scalp needs:

* Abstain from touching your hair and playing with it. Leave it alone for the most part, while it is drying and afterward. It is okay to style it early in the day before leaving the house, but after you have finished doing so, let it be. The more you touch it, the more frizziness will ensue. Also, touching the scalp area continually can cause greasiness as the oils from your hands transfer and mix with your scalp oils.

* Shampoo less. Shampoo, while beneficial in ridding your strands from dirt and grime and keeping your scalp healthy, tends to strip the hair of moisture. That is why less is more. Cut back by shampooing other every day. If you are able to decrease your shampooing frequency further, even better. Another way to cut back on dryness is to go sulfate-free when selecting a shampoo, as sulfates often contribute to dryness.

* Wear your hair loosely. Tight buns or tight pony tails, while stylish, can lead to breakage and subsequent fly-aways. If you wish to wear your hair up, using bobby pins rather than restrictive elastics can reduce or prevent potential breakage.

* Rinse your hair in cool water to seal the cuticle and enhance shine. Move over silicone-laden serums, hello cool hydration. Another way to improve the shine factor is to rinse your hair using tea. I use black tea and find that it works wonders.

* Avoid heat. Styling your hair with flat irons and blow dryers can dry or even completely fry your delicate strands. Believe it or not, there are methods to straighten your hair without subjecting your strands to the harmful damaging effects of heat. Check this video out.

* Use henna and/or other herbs (e.g. amla, shikakai, chamomile, rosemary) rather than chemical dyes.

28 November 2011

This weather is beautiful.

Today is such a wonderful day, weather-wise. The sun is shining and our windows are open, which is extremely unusual for the third to last day of November. It's amazing what some sunlight and warmth can do to your mood. I feel so uplifted and happy, and as though I can take on the world. I feel even more fortunate because I don't have work today, wahoo. This week I'm taking advantage of some vaca-time. Given the weather, it doesn't feel so bad that I am not in California or Arizona, basking in all the sun's glory. The best part about days like today is feeling uplifted and motivated to do what needs to be done. Some tasks get put on the backburner until I'm in the mood to get moving. When it's warm out, I'm game to accomplish anything. I think the only obstacle is the computer, ironically, as once I start to peruse the internet, my motivation does begin to wane a bit and I lose focus. I should probably give myself time limits when on the internet (ie. one hour max at a time) so that I don't waste the whole day looking around and not accomplishing much other than reading others' blogs and researching anything hair, food, or skin-related. As it's early in the day and I definitely want to truly experience and enjoy the rest of it, this requires that I remove myself from this computer sooner rather than later, so peace out for now!

Goals for today:
- Pay bills
- Get an oil change
- Go shopping for necessities
- Meditate outside
- Potentially go to the gym and/or do yoga

27 November 2011

Embrace your hair by wearing it DOWN.

For the next twenty-nine days, I am going to wear my curly hair completely down. I am allowing myself to use bobby pins for styling purposes, but no clips or elastic bands. This is definitely going to be a challenge for me, considering I am regularly inclined to tie it up once it dries. The primary reason I have for tying it up while at work is that it looks more professional.

However, I am doing away with this notion because after further consideration, I think my hair does not look unprofessional (pardon the double negative) when down. Sure it's frizzy, but I think it is a pretty form of frizzy and I dare say super stylish. Just because I do not pile on product after product to smoothen, stretch, define, or modify the texture of my hair by any means, and my hair develops natural frizz, if you will, upon drying, this does not make my hair any less appealing or attractive.

Today was the first day of this challenge and I am proud to say I succeeded in going out in public and resisting the urge to tie my hair up. I was certainly tempted to do so after about one or two hours had passed and I had touched my hair a few too many times. I thought people might give me funny looks as the frizziness began to increase, but had no such misfortune. The strange part is that I found that on the whole, I received more positive attention than I do when I wear my hair tied up and/or tamed. Hmm, something to think about.

The reason I am engaging in this challenge, which I hereby declare 'the hair-down happiness project,' is to liberate myself from societal norms in terms of how hair should look. I certainly hold some fear in terms of how others perceive my hair down since it often has a mind of its own. That is why I am excited about this challenge. The goal is to dispel the fear and embrace my hair, frizziness and all, regardless of others' perceptions. I am gracious for my unique hair type and feel blessed to have a beautiful curly mane, and through this challenge I am going to show it off, with confidence, to the rest of the world. You never know, I just might bring the non-frizzy lovers over to the other side...

YOU can change the world.

How can I, as an individual, contribute towards the betterment of our world? In pondering this idea, I have formulated the following tips, which I thought I would share so that YOU can join in on the fun too. It is not unusual for people to grapple with the idea that their sole actions cannot make a difference, so what is the point of doing anything; it won't accomplish anything after all. However, that form of thinking in and of itself is heavily flawed. What can be accomplished by a single individual's efforts? A lot actually.

Think of all of the ordinary people who became heroes after having effectuated change, thanks to their courage to step up to the plate and do what they felt was right; to act according to their principles and values in order to improve the world, one selfless and peaceful fight at a time. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks come to mind. They led a movement towards equity and civil rights by taking a stand. Mother Theresa devoted her life towards lending a hand to the impoverished and the less fortunate. There are countless others who, because they resisted the urge to succumb to complacency and inactivity, have made a positive difference in the world.

With the intent to benefit the environment in which we live, to make the world a cleaner, less hazardous place for its inhabitants, and to salvage the world for future generations, I propose that we each make a contribution now, however small that contribution may seem. Nobody's individual effort can be brushed aside and rendered insignificant, because ultimately, it has a cumulative, beneficial effect on us all.

* Recycle, recycle, recycle: Paper, glass bottles, plastic; anything with the recycle insigna at the bottom of the container or for that matter, any item that obviously belongs in the recycling bin (ie. newspaper or any other paper). Before you throw any item in the trash can, take a moment to consider whether or not it belongs there. Allow common sense to dictate. Don't just mindlessly throw non-confidential papers in the trash. In the workplace, if there is no accessible recycling bin, request that one be put into place. The squeaky machine gets the oil, after all. If you have recyclable material that cannot be discarded in a location where there is no recycling bin nearby, hold onto it and recycle it once you return home or find one elsewhere.

* Use less plastic: Rather than using plastic water bottles or food storage containers, choose glass. Heating food in plastic bowls enables BPA and phthalates -- unsafe chemicals -- to leach into your food. I'm no scientist so I cannot tell you the likelihood that these chemicals will transfer to your food, but why take the risk? The same can be said for drinking out of plastic cups or water bottles.

* Go fragrance-free, permanently: Fragrance is in most cosmetic and cleaning products; think: shampoos, detergents, soaps, perfume. Look at the ingredient list when making your purchases. Avoid buying anything containing 'fragrance,' 'parfum,' 'perfume,' or any other variation of the term fragrance. Fragrance contains neurotoxins and carcinogens, which pollute both the air we breathe and the vessel that keeps us alive (ie. our body). It is not regulated as much as one might assume, and in fact, little research goes into retailers to determine the impact fragrance has on our health. Fragrance negatively impacts the central nervous system, in effect triggering asthma, headaches, nausea, breast cancer, and myriad other health problems. Fragrance is particularly harmful to those who suffer from multiple chemical sensitivity, a health predicament most would not otherwise suffer if products containing fragrance were not on the market in the first place. If you like scents, do yourself and the rest of society a favor, crush some orange peels or lemons, buy some fresh flowers, or sprinkle some herbs into the palm of your hand (e.g. cloves, mint, cinnamon) and take a whiff of those.

* Don't litter: Enough said.

* Use less water: Minimize your shower time. Aim for 5-7 minutes total. If that seems too short, cut down your total shower time by 1-2 minutes initially and see if you can decrease the length of time by 30 seconds to 2 minutes each week until you reach the range of 5-7 minutes total. Any decrease in shower time is better than nothing. Be mindful of how much water you use for any and all other purposes, and attempt to scale back where possible. Remember that water is one of the prime resources to us mortals, and without it, we would not be able to survive. Keep that in mind the next time you accidentally leave the faucet running.

* Conserve energy: When you leave a room and don't intend to return for at least 15 minutes, turn off any electronics (television, stereo) as well as the lights, so as to save electricity.

* Car pool, use public transportation, bike, or walk instead of driving everywhere.

25 November 2011

Eat healthy after Thanksgiving

Yesterday was a wonderful day, food, family and all. My family and I were presented with a delectable smorgasbord that I could not resist, despite my conscientiousness when it comes to my health. When it comes to holidays and my family's traditions, and the turkey that my mom always so lovingly prepares (which tastes out of this world btw), I am a goner, and it's no holds barred in terms of my appetite.

However, in the days that follow, I try to scale back on my indulgent consumption to some extent. In thinking about how I can transition from the Thanksgiving feast mindset to a more health conscious one, without having to sacrifice taste, I conjured up images of the following creations:

- Cranberry and egg omelet / cranberry and egg wrap - I ate the wrap this morning and it was delish!

- Pumpkin pie oatmeal - Prepare some pumpkin pie using pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, a sugar substitute (I prefer to use honey as a sweetner), etc.. Once it's baked and ready to serve, plop it on top of your oatmeal for some ooey gooey gobbly goodness.

- Cranberry, walnut, turkey wrap - sidenote: Lately, I've been using gluten-free brown rice wraps

- Turkey and avocado wrap - sidenote: I don't like wraps or anything...

- Sweet potato and/or white potato fries - Wash and cut potatoes, lather with evoo, as well as paprika and other scrumptious spices, bake, and enjoy!

These are just a few ideas to help you enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving foods in a healthful manner after the day of feasting is over. What is your favorite healthy post-Thanksgiving day meal or treat?

18 November 2011

My tips for quieting an overactive mind and achieving a sense of calm.

This post is for all of the overthinkers out there; those whose are bombarded with a seemingly unending stream of unconnected thoughts that traverse ever so swiftly through the universe that is our mind. The big challenge when it comes to calming an overactive mind is somehow not allowing the negative or fearful thoughts to have power over you; the type of power that manifests itself in the form of anxiety and physical discomfort. If you are reading this and interested in learning of my tips to try to ease your mind and benefit your emotional well-being, you probably have exhibited some of the symptoms that characterize anxiety. Chest tightness, rapid heart rate, sweaty palms, a sense of uneasiness or looming fear, are all example symptoms of anxiety.

Meditation is thought of as a prime technique to quiet the mind and to enable one to engage in the present and in effect, create peace and ease within one's mind and body. I have tried meditating in the past and although I only experimented with it for about a month, I grew frustrated as it wasn't having the impact that I thought it would. I was still experiencing anxiety. While I am far from having all of the answers to alleviating anxiety, having reflected on what I was doing during my meditation sessions and having done some unscientific research, I have uncovered some useful tips to ease the mind:

1) Be present: Think, hear, smell, feel, be. When your thoughts are racing and you feel your anxiety level rising, take a moment to listen to what is happening around you.

2) Turn off the radio/tv: This can be helpful when external stimuli is merely adding to to your anxiety. By turning off the radio/tv, you free up mental space and are more apt to conjure up solutions to problems that may plague you on either a subconscious or conscious level. Furthermore, not having superficial noise blaring in the background can help ground you in the present. When you are surrounded by quiet, you have no choice but to confront it, and I mean that in a good way.

3) Don't judge your thoughts: Don't pay attention to your thoughts, but don't actively ignore them either. It's a balancing act. The idea is to let your thoughts flow without "doing" anything.  This point is absolutely crucial for me. When I first learned about meditation, I was specifically told something to the effect of 'acknowledge the thought, and let it pass.' Taking this advice literally, impeded my ability to relax because I was trying so hard to notice and accept my thoughts. I made an effort not to suppress any particular thought. Unfortunately, the very act of trying not to suppress my thoughts contributed to more anxiety. I was doing too much rather than just letting my thoughts flow freely without unnecessary consideration. Exerting energy in terms of thinking is useful in certain situations. However, thinking in and of itself shouldn't be a task. It's not work. It's a natural, organic process. Thoughts don't require thoughts. Just something to think about, no pun intended.

4) Lower your expectations, or better yet, don't have expectations at all as far as your anxiety goes: Try not to criticize yourself if you are not progressing at the pace you would expect or prefer. Don't make comparisons between the past and the present, with regard to your progress or lack thereof. This correlates with tip #1.

15 November 2011


Every day we are subjected to stress. Stress comes in many forms and can be easily triggered by external and internal factors. An uncomfortable setting or situation can instigate it. A heated exchange between significant others, the pressures of school work, a negative thought, and the loss of a loved one are a few examples of stress-inducing scenarios. For the purposes of this post, I am only going to write about those stresses over which we have some control. According to dictionary.com, one of the definitions of stress is (and I quote directly from the website) 'the physical pressure, pull, or other force exerted on one thing by another; strain.' I think on some occasions, this physical and emotional pressure is instigated by none other than ourselves. That is to say, that we have control over how we respond to certain situations and our stress level will be impacted as a result. That explains why in some cases, one person may react strongly and become subsequently very much affected and stressed out by a certain event, while a similar event might have very little impact on another person.

Think about the last time you got stressed. For me, it was a comment directed at me. When I say stressed, for me that means feeling irritated, annoyed, angry, and frustrated. Symptoms of stress that I often experience range from chest tightness to sweaty palms. There are a wide-range of emotional and physical responses to stress. Going back to the last time I felt stressed, it was after I was on the receiving end of a remark that someone made about me to another person, in my presence, in the form of a joke. It seemed harmless enough, and at first I did not take it to heart. However, the more I analyzed it, the more I felt the stress garner strength. Another person may have decided to let the same comment go, while I elected to analyze it, causing the physical and emotional pressure to rise and finally boil over. I focused on my thoughts about the comment so intently that it was no longer just a benign comment, but rather an insult.

It was not the comment itself that made me irritated. It was what happened afterward, in my mind; in my thought-process. Had I not paid so much attention to the comment and rather let it fade into obscurity within moments of its utterance, my stress level would not have been impacted to such an extreme. This is something to consider. For instance, the next time rudely cuts you off on the highway or acts undeservingly brash toward you, monitor your response. Are you shouting obscenities overtly or under your breath? Are you thinking critical thoughts about yourself or about the other person. What is going on with you physically? If your emotional and physical reaction is noticeable, there is pressure being exerted. The good news is that as quickly as you created the stress, you can undo it.

It all goes back to that famous expression that states that only you have control over your words and actions. Each day we are bombarded by potential stressors. People say and do as they see fit. We have no control over the actions of others. Furthermore, things happen. We will encounter less than pleasant situations. Unpleasant situations are inevitable. This is life. This does not mean we sigh and bow down in defeat and merely accept that we must feel down, angry, anxious, (insert negative emotion here) because of what happens when we are just going about our daily business. We have the power to control our thinking so as to minimize stress and feel okay, even when confronted by ignorance or ill-intent. We can elect to accept and let go of our thoughts about the event, rather than analyzing the thoughts, and letting them linger. In this manner, stress may abate just as it threatens to surface.

12 November 2011

Hair talk: If ACV doesn't work, you could always have a tea party!

If ACV doesn't seem to work for you in that it contributes to breakage, dryness, or irritates your skin, I have an idea. Okay, so it is not really my idea and I discovered an alternative when perusing the web, but if you interpreted the title of the post correctly, you guessed it: tea. I don't think it would matter which particular tea you use, however there are some differences. For instance, chamomile is known to have a lightening properties, while darker teas can have the opposite effect. For the purposes of my experiment, I used black tea. What it did for me: provided slip, added moisture, and upped the shine ante. I can personally say that for me it worked much more effectively than ACV. The effect ACV had on my hair: dryness, more breakage than usual, and skin irritation. It is not that I didn't dilute the ACV enough either, because I had diluted 1/2 tsp in greater than 8 ounces of water. I like tea rinsing much more given that the preparation is still simple and it doesn't irritate my incredibly sensitive skin or contribute to dryness and tangles  my worst enemies! Everyone's hair reacts differently to products, whether natural or otherwise, so similar results are never guaranteed. However, they are a possibility, which is why most of us self-proclaimed hair junkies keep experimenting away until we are satisfied with the results!

11 November 2011

"Stop and smell the roses."

How many of you are stressing about what needs to be done, today, tomorrow, or next week? My bet is that the majority of you spend a good bit of time sifting through myriad articles on the internet, looking for answers to questions that are constantly at the forefront of your mind. The internet has made finding those solutions that we are ever-seeking, so easy and convenient, that it is no wonder why we spent so much time engrossed in it, the hours swiftly escaping, unnoticed and regrettably never to be seen again.

Do you ever stop searching, thinking, or imagining, and instead turn your attention to the sound of the soothing buzz of the computer fan? What about the sound of the airplanes drifting overhead outside of the nearby window or the subtle voices in the adjacent room? Did you ever take notice of the sight of your fingers dancing on the keyboard or for that matter, do you make it a continual practice to 'stop and smell the roses' as they say, and truly focus on what is happening right now, in this very moment? You might be surprised at what you hear, see, smell, and ultimately feel, when you shift your mind to the present.

With increased concentration on how your body is feeling and what is going on in your immediate surroundings, you feel less encumbered by the weight of your worries. The judgment, anxiety, and other negative thoughts that burden your mind lessen in intensity as you turn your attention to the here and now, while a sense of serenity takes hold. It is a beautiful transition. However, it takes some getting used to, especially for those who tend to gravitate towards daydreaming, multi-tasking, or rushing around running errands. In all the chaos, the calm is there. In all the rubble of worriment, misgivings, and judgment, lies a sense of peace. When the weight of the world seems heavy, take a breath and really focus on the moment. You may just find some relief.

07 November 2011

Carob vs. Chocolate

So I tried carob the other night, for the very first time. The first time, that I know of anyway. I don't really recall seeing it listed as an ingredient in any of the foods I have consumed in the past, so I'm assuming I never ate it. I know "never assume, it makes an..." yadda yadda. However, I really don't believe I have ever eaten this stuff before.

Not too long ago, this item caught my aisle as I was walking down the baking preparation foods aisle. I saw carob chips and carob powder and I suddenly was intrigued. It seemed like a possible alternative to chocolate chips and cocoa powder, given the semblance between the two. This piqued my interest because I am always attempting to curtail my chocolate addiction; never successfully, but I try. I really do. I'm determined!

The next step was to go on the hunt for some information on the web. There were some rave reviews and others not so positive, which is to be expected. Overall, I felt confident that carob was the way to go, so I grabbed some while shopping yesterday and excitedly poured some in my milk before heating. I took a sip, and UGH, BLAH. No, no, no. Definitely, an unexpected flavor, for sure. I mixed in some honey to minimize the strong aftertaste; it was not exactly effective.

I thought it might be the powder form only that I disliked, so I grabbed some of the carob chips. If only you saw my expression upon chewing those! Afterward, I made some carob wafer-like frozen treats in a last ditch effort to develop an affininty for this foreign food; okay, so it's only foreign to me. I told you I was determined! I really wanted to make this work. Overall conclusion: I am not a fan of carob; chips, wafers, carob-milk and all did not satiate my palate in the least bit. The flavor was not a measurable substitute for chocolate in my opinion, dark chocolate, or otherwise. Even on its own merits, it failed to impress. I just didn't appreciate the taste.

Carry on as I may, with my head hung low (okay, not really), I remain intent upon overcoming my addiction to the forbidden food. If anyone knows of a suitable -- and equally delicious -- replacement that exists, please fill me in, or hook me up or whatever. This alternative, if it is out there somewhere, is elusive as can be.

05 November 2011

To poo or not to poo

After pondering my fate with regard to the water-only method on Thursday night, greasy roots and all, I began to contemplate whether or not this experiment was healthy. I began having doubts as the following thoughts crept up: 'What will happen to my skin?' 'What if the oils from my unwashed hair spread to my face and make me break out?' 'Isn't that inevitable?' 'Will I ever feel truly clean?' 'Won't my hair look greasy if you really look at it?' 'Won't it smell?' 'What about bacteria?' 'What about when I ride the subway and rest my hair against the window; the window that is filled with age-old grime?' 'You mean I will have to live with the thought of that grime festering in my hair?'

I then did my own form of research and stumbled about an article (see: http://health.ninemsn.com.au/whatsgoodforyou/factsheets/798250/do-we-really-need-shampoo) that detailed the results of two people, male and female, who did not use shampoo or any products for two months, and their scalp was examined by under a microscopic camera, before, during, and after the experiment to determine whether or not their scalp remained healthy throughout the entire process. 'Finally,' was my first thought. 'Objective proof which will address my concerns.' I was so idealistic about the water-only hair experiment that I crossed my fingers, hoping that their scalp remained healthy from beginning to end. To my dismay, I was wrong. At the conclusion of the experiment, the scalps were scaling and inflamed and did not look healthy.

This got me very worried because after one week my scalp was a bit saturated in grease and increasingly itchy. It was not a stretch of think my scalp would in effect become extremely agitated and inflamed over the next few weeks as a result of my constant scratching. Then I read more articles and comments about how unwashed hair is a breeding ground for bacteria, mites, and other undesirable microbes. When I began envisioning the probability that after thirty or more days of not washing my hair, it would be a scaling, inflamed, and bug-infested entity, that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I decided that water-only washing would not be suited for me. I wanted to be able to wash off any nasty microbes when necessary; especially after riding the subway.

The following morning (Friday), I grabbed my trusty shampoo and lathered up. I can't tell you how good it felt to wash my hair. It was so liberating. My scalp felt relieved and I felt clean. Truly clean and happy. The only downside to have used shampoo was that my hair looked and felt, you guessed it: dry. Back to the drawing board, I thought. There had to be a better way. I'm pleased to state that I did have an alternate idea that would still allow me to limit my use of conventional, chemical-laden products. Enter: baking soda and acv. I have attempted to use baking soda on three separate occasions in the past. Each of my attempts were failures, I will admit. However, I am by no means a quitter and was not allow that to stop me from giving it yet another go. After all, trial and error is the only way to learn, no?

This morning was my fourth attempt. My hair is not looking too shabby, which means I am getting closer to achieving success with the baking soda and acv combo. This is how I made my solutions: 1/2 tsp of baking soda to about 8 oz of water and 1/2 tsp of acv to about 8 oz of water. I put the baking soda/water concoction in a tall glass container while I put the acv/water in a spray bottle. I shook the baking soda and water solution until most of the baking soda was dissolved. I used about 3/4 of each. I first wet my hair and detangled it with a comb. My hair best detangles when it is freshly wet. Then I poured the baking soda/water solution on my scalp. I poured a bit and scrubbed my scalp. I poured a bit more and scrubbed again, on and on, until about 1/4 of the solution remained in the container. I let it sit for about a minute or two. Then I rinsed my scalp/hair. Next, I sprayed the acv/water all over my hair, except on the roots. I then rinsed it away. That's it. Pretty simple, right? Most likely, I will keep experimenting with the quantities of the baking soda and acv, but I have realized that for my hair, less is definitely more.

All in all, I am very satisfied that I can still continue to cleanse my hair, yet with minimal and all-natural ingredients and without the drying effects of ordinary poo.

03 November 2011

Day 7 of my water-only hair experiment

Today is day seven, peeps! I made it an entire week without shampooing my hair. My roots are rather greasy, I must say, but it's not as unbearable as I had anticipated. What has definitely helped me thus far to conceal the greasiness is brushing my hair, so as to distribute the oils throughout the length of my hair so they don't just coat the scalp area. I have noticed that my hair looks better when it's down compared to when it's up, as when I have my hair tied back or in a clip, the greasiness is a bit more apparent on the top and sides of my head. However, I haven't worn it down to work because the back looks a bit dry/frizzy and hence, on the unprofessional side. The hope still remains that after about thirty days, the grease factor will subside and the oils will distribute evenly, so that the overall condition of my scalp will be much improved and my curls better defined all around. Cheers to not using chemicals or any moisture-stripping ingredients on my hair!

01 November 2011

Rethinking your routine to improve your mood and meet new peeps.

Last week I finished reading this book by John Gray, Ph.D., entitled Mars and Venus on a Date, which is simply an amazing, amazing book; yes I did use the word amazing twice in a vain attempt to convey my enthusiasm for this little gem of a book. It's one of those rare finds, I must admit. Seriously, it's a must read for singles everywhere, and even couples who are looking to heighten their awareness of the differences between genders and searching for ways to strengthen their bond. No, I was not paid to endorse this book, and just so happened to have been fortuitously gifted the book by a friend.

The reason I mention the book is because it has made me rethink my daily routine. The author recommends changing up your routine as a way to meet new and different people. For instance, he suggests going out to a fast food restaurant if you typically don't eat fast food and prefer perusing the health food aisle. Another example would be to go to a crowded place if you prefer quiet atmospheres. By putting yourself in such situations, your potential of meeting someone new and different increases. Today, I took his advice and rather than eating my packed lunch at work, I ran out to purchase food, on a whim. It felt rather refreshing to get out and drive around during my lunch hour, and opposed to repeating my usual rote pattern of eating in my car.

Also, the author encourages singles to get out, particularly when the mood does not strike, which is what I did tonight.  I felt motivated to go to the gym earlier this morning, but as the day wore on, exhaustion from the daily grind set in and as soon as I arrived home from work, I ate dinner and plopped down on the couch and began perusing the internet, and as time passed, my motivated waned and I almost stayed put. However, my thoughts then traveled back to the author's advice and I decided, 'why not?' and off I went. It's not as though I met some fascinating mystery man or anything while I was at the gym, but I must say that I feel more energized than had I stayed home. I even talked to a few people; briefly, but it made me feel good, nonetheless. As the author points out, by doing something you do not necessarily feel like doing, you will not necessarily feel worse. You may feel better. Therefore, if you don't feel like doing something, maybe you should actually be doing that very thing you're dreading. You might be surprised at how you feel afterward.

I've stopped using shampoo.

It's official. I'm no longer using shampoo. Last Thursday night (10/27/11) marked the beginning of the end of poo for me. I have finally made a decision to quit cold turkey given the fact that my hair is desperate for moisture and every time I use shampoo, my hair becomes as dry as hay. Literally. With the winter now setting in, the dryness is only getting worse.

As I am opposed to purchasing chemical-laden conditioners or other products to superficially coat my hair, and I cannot use natural oils, such as coconut oil or almond oil, given that I have break-out prone skin, I have realized that no-poo is the only possible way to achieve the silky, shiny mane that I so desire.

I have been cutting down on the frequency with which I shampoo over the past month or so. Gradually, I have worked my way up to being able to go a week without shampooing and still look presentable, albeit it looks a bit waxy/greasy at the crown. I have used cocoa powder and oat flour on separate occasions in the past to conceal the greasy roots, but I am not using those this time. I have attempted using baking soda and acv rinses in the past as well. I'm not using them either.

This time around, my hair will be completely 'naked' for the duration of this experiment. I have been washing it with water only each day and combing/brushing the hair also. My goal is to make it at least 30 days. I realize it may take that much time, if not a bit longer, for the greasiness to dissipate and for the scalp to regulate itself, and this time around, I am going to persevere until the end. This is actually really exciting!

30 October 2011

Ginger .... the spice of life!

When it comes to drinks, I would have to say that my standard would have to be none other than: water; at varying temperatures of course. I also regularly drink milk, and at times, grape juice. I tend to dilute my grape juice with water rather than drinking it full strength. Given that water is my staple drink and can be rather bland and boring, I am always researching ways to improve its flavor, by adding healthful components. There are the obvious choices which include: lemon, honey, or tea.

However, I tend to stay away from acidic drinks like coffee and tea, aside from an occasional vanilla rooibos tea. This is because of my fear that such liquids will end up eroding the enamel on my teeth. As a precautionary measure, I generally rinse my mouth with water after eating or drinking, to remove as much acidic residue as possible, so as to keep my teeth clean and naturally white; not stark white, just white enough, if you know what I mean.

Given the limited options for improving the flavor of water, I was more than pleased to have discovered ginger as an alternative. Not only is it a flavorful addition, but its health properties are extensive. It is good for detoxifying your body and aiding in digestion, and apparently there are studies out there to show that it's anti-inflammatory, eases arthritic pain, and combats ovarian cancer cells. These are merely a few of the myriad health benefits that ginger provides.

Today, I cut off a fragment of ginger from the root and placed it in a glass cup of water, before heating it. It tastes a bit stronger than lemon, but it made the water taste pleasant; not too potent or bitter. Definitely a keeper. Healthy and delicious, just how I like it.

Source: http://www.whfoods.org/

20 October 2011

Rihanna's latest music video/film: profound to say the least.

The much anticipated "We found Love" video has finally been released and Rihanna fans everywhere may now rejoice. I have watched it a few times and am rather impressed with the various metaphors embedded within. I think the unadulterated drug aspect is shocking at first. It is surprising and definitely caught me off guard; not what I had expected at all. However, when I watched it a few times and went beyond the surface, I started to uncover the underlying meanings and was impressed with the overall artistic quality. My interpretation is that the drugs symbolize the ecstasy that one experiences when in love or when we delude ourselves into thinking we are in love when it is merely an illusion. Then there's the rainbow-colored vomit which might symbolize the bliss that one blindly experiences in the midst of a chaotic but seemingly happy union between two people. I also like the symbols that the "mine" and the "yours" provoke. One might argue that the video glamorizes violence, drugs, and unhealthy relationships, but I think it is a work of art centered on the illusions of what is 'love.'

Postponement of the chocolate-free challenge

I'm not sure how long it will be until this resumes. The truth is, only a few hours after I had initiated the challenge, I gave in to my addiction. After witnessing someone sitting in close proximity savoring every delectable morsel of their dark chocolate brownie, I headed straight for the container of dark almonds waiting ever so patiently on the bottom shelf of my pantry. The rest, as they say, is history.

The following day, I vowed to start my challenge anew. However, to my dismay, I simply could not resist the dark chocolate non-pareils and chocolate cat cookies which covertly called out my name while I was perusing the dessert aisle at Trader Joe's.

Given my rather intense chocolate cravings at present, coupled with the abundant options of chocolate food items at my fingertips, I think it is safe to say that I have no choice but to postpone this challenge.

19 October 2011

How to meditate without actively trying

I have found that striving to achieve a sense of calm during standard meditation actually defeats the purpose. Putting too much thought and effort into releasing your worries and frustration is actually counterproductive. I know when I sit down with the intent to meditate by myself and without interruption, I often come away from the situation feeling more stressed out than had I not sat down to meditate at all. The act of trying to induce happiness has an opposite, unintended effect.

When I reflect on those moments that I have felt most at peace with myself, on a spiritual and emotional level, it becomes clear that it is because in those moments, I was allowing my thoughts to flow naturally without judgment or resistence. I was playing with my cats or sitting outside reveling at the beauty surrounding me. I was engaged in a thought-provoking conversation. I was dancing and letting the rhythm of the music inspire me. I was present, in the moment before me, soaking it in and allowing any particular thought to interfere. I was just being me and letting the present unfold itself.

My spirit had lifted to a higher, more secure place instantly, when I channeled my energy into the present moment. My heartbeat slowed and my breath followed suit. I was experiencing the wonderful effects of meditation, not by trying to achieve a sense of peace, but rather by meditating naturally; unconventionally. It is through participating in the present moment and living outside of your head that you will achieve an authentic sense of calm. It is by taking part in the here, the now, and the reality; it is by not focusing on the past and letting go of expectations you may have about the future, that you truly meditate without even trying.

Eat greens for that enviable glow.

I love salad, not only because it tastes delicious when the toppings are just right, but because of how it improves my complexion and energizes. It never fails to rejuvenate my skin in times of need. For lunch today, I had some spinach salad adorned with red bell pepper slices, chicken, balsamic, and olive oil. It was so satisfying and invigorating. For the past few months, I have been incorporating more greens into my diet. Salads (romaine, spinach) are easy to prepare and the topping choices are endless. Sunflower seeds, mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, cranberries, hard-boiled eggs, beets, olives, artichoke hearts, shredded carrots, and almond slices are merely a few ideas. Rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a host of other vitamins and minerals, greens are definitely the way to go when it comes to achieving a gorgeous glow.

18 October 2011

30 day chocolate-free challenge

I consider myself a chocoholic for sure. Chocolate is one of my absolute favorite foods and I consume it daily. I don't deny that dark chocolate, my chocolate of choice, has many health benefits, including the fact that it contains antioxidants and it serves as a mood-booster. However, the major downside in my case is the fact that it makes my face flush the day after eating it.

I have been tested for a chocolate allergy previously and fortunately, the results were negative. However, I told the doctor that chocolate seemed to induce flushing and inflammation and he advised me that while I may not have an allergy, I may have an intolerance, which is the reason for the skin reaction.

Clearly I haven't considered the flushing grave enough to avoid chocolate up to this point. However, the flushing is a bit of a nuisance and does make me self-conscious. That is part of the reason why I'm motivated to initiate this challenge. I also am excited to see if there is any other noticeable impact on my overall complexion and health once the challenge is complete.

The question remains, can I do it? I tried this challenge before an lasted about a week before I caved. I think if I just keep in mind the positive impact it will have on my skin, I may make it. We shall find out. Today is day #1...............

16 October 2011

The importance of combing your hair

I used to comb my hair only when it was wet, with a wide-tooth comb. I know that hair is naturally delicate when wet and therefore, more susceptible to breakage. However, this did not deter me from combing it while showering as I was convinced that the alternative was more detrimental. I thought that combing my hair while dry would contribute to more breakage and that there was no point in doing so, other than to create an afro-like effect. If only I had recognized there were alternative brushes to be used, I may have felt differently.

Recently, I watched a Youtube video in which this woman used a paddle-brush to comb through her hair to wrap it and straighten it, without using heat. I loved her idea and wanted desperately to try out the technique, so I went out and bought a paddle brush similar to the one she had used.

I'll save my hair-wrapping experience for another rainy day, but the point is, I got my hands on a paddle brush for the first time in a very long time. To make a long story short, I used this paddle brush on my dry hair one time, and was pleasantly surprised with the sensation and the effect. It felt very soothing to my scalp, for starters. Also, I expected it to be more of a struggle when working the brush through my hair, but the hair actually detangled rather easily. Ever since I started using the paddle brush, I have not looked back. I have been very pleased with the outcome of brushing through my dry hair each night and will continue to reap the following benefits:

1. It's a way to massage your scalp and stimulate healthy sebum production.

2. It untangles your hair, which makes it easier to style and comb through the following day.

3. It distributes the natural oils from your scalp through the length of your hair, so that the dryer sections of your hair become naturally moisturized.

4. It feels good.

15 October 2011



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Rapid review: Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris: "We found Love."

This song literally sucked me in the moment I first heard it on the radio. Last night and earlier this morning, I had this thing on constant repeat on YouTube. It's just so catchy! It makes you feel liberated and motivated. It is definitely dance-worthy and I give it 5/5 stars. Rihanna's subtle but sultry accent meshes well with the funky disco/pop beat in the background. Oddly, it called to mind Chris Brown jamming to the sound with some of the techno moves he displayed in the studio scene of his "Beautiful People" music video. "We found Love" is supremely repetitive, but nonetheless electric, and will keep you bobbing your head until the end.

Cocoa powder as a hair styling product

It's getting colder out and I'm definitely not feeling this weather, so today I'm wrapped in a blanket on my couch writing this post for all the hair junkies out there, who want to try a more natural, chemical-free method when styling your hair. Cocoa powder is the topic of choice today. I wanted to tell everyone that I dabbed some cocoa powder on my roots last week, when I hadn't washed my hair, and found the results to be note-worthy. I used it as a substitute for commercial dry shampoo. I guess it really wouldn't technically qualify as a "dry shampoo" given that it doesn't cleanse the hair. Therefore, a more appropriate description would be: hair powder. It's perfect, particularly when your hair is unwashed and needs a quick pick-me-up. Here's my DIY recipe:

Step 1: Ensure your hair is completely dry.

Step 2: Part your hair. You can part it in various sections or just part it in the middle. Along the part-line, dab the cocoa powder. You can use as much as you'd like.

Step 3: If you have curly hair like mine, you can kind of scrunch your hair and pump up your roots with your hand.

End result: Less oily roots and cool "dirty" hair.

I think using cocoa powder creates a cool effect. In my opinion, the added benefits to using cocoa powder instead of commercial styling products are as follows:

1) The scent is delightful and won't irritate the sinuses of those who are particularly fragrance-sensitive

2) In contrast to most dry shampoos on the market, it does not create a white cast on the roots, but rather a chesnut brown colored tone, which is easily concealed if you have dark brown hair like mine

3) It's cheap

4) It's natural (so natural that it's safe to eat; how often can you say that about your styling products?)

NYC fun, here I come!

I'm taking two day trips to NYC this week and thus, am in full-planning mode right now. The truth is, I'm more of the whimsical type when it comes to traveling, and I'd prefer to allow someone else to do the planning while I merely relax and enjoy the ride. However, this time I'm the one planning the itinerary. I feel it's something I need to do for myself; to map out where I'm going and go ahead and explore. I've actually been dreaming up this venture for quite some time. I've visited "the City" before but wasn't as passionate about what it had to offer as I am now. I'm older and wise and now more purposeful with regard to what I hope to take from this experience. I want to revel in the vibrant culture, diversity, and european flair and reflect on its brilliance.

Getting back to the planning aspect, I must admit that I'm getting a bit antsy as the formal plan yas yet to be formulated. The fact that I have T minus two days to prepare gives you an idea of how dire the situation is. However, I know what I need to do now is get down to brass taxes and plan ahead so as to ensure that I have enough time to see as many beautiful sites as possible. My mom will be accompanying me and I already know it's going to be fun times! So far, the list of my definite must-sees (& dos) includes:

1. 9/11 Memorial

2. High Line Park

3. Central Park / John Lennon Memorial

4. Battery Park

5. Staten Island Ferry / Statue of Liberty / Manhattan Skyline

6. Little Italy

7. Greenwich Village

8. Brooklyn - not sure specifically which spots in Brooklyn but I'm definitely heading over there!

9. SoHo

10. 5th Avenue

I'm so excited. Once the plan is fully executed, I'll come back to report on the details. For now, feel free to share with regard to your short-excursion experiences. If you've ever planned a day trip to NYC before, even better! Any tips? What did you find most memorable? Where are the best places to eat? There are so many good-eats to choose from, it's insane. Help me out if you will.

13 October 2011

5th day shampoo-less

Today was the fifth day of my no-shampoo experiment. I woke up, showered (water-only on the hair), and got dressed and went to work as usual. I dabbed a bit of oat flour on my roots once my hair was dry and wore my hair in a half-up half-down style and I was good to go. To be honest, I loved the way my hair looked today. I'm actually surprised that it looked as good as it did. It looked very moisturized and not greasy or unkempt.

I felt like I might be able to actually make it an entire week and not have to use shampoo until this Saturday. However, then I realized that I have two pimples forming, both near my hairline. One is situated in the temple area of my face and the other is near the upper left side of my forehead. I kinda freaked out inside a bit when I noticed these pimples because they are rather large in size, compared to the random small zit that I'll get on occasion.

I'm not sure if they resulted from the oils from my scalp or from remnants of the oat flour. Maybe they aren't at all related to not having washed my hair for the past five days. I can't be absolutely certain as to the cause. However, I was worried that the oat flour, no-shampoo combination might be the culprit. Therefore, I caved tonight and shampooed my hair.

I made sure to use a lot of shampoo too, to get rid of any oat flour build-up. I will say that the texture of my strands felt rather silky and smooth as I was coating them with shampoo. It oddly felt like I had used conditioner. That led me to think that my natural oils really did work their magic in adding moisture back into my strands. I'm pretty pleased about that.

I'm definitely going to hesitate with regard to using oat flour in the near future on my scalp, as I'm not sure if it's best for me, given that it's possible it led to my breaking out a bit. There is a strong likelihood that I will continue to shampoo much less, given the positive effect it's had with regard to reducing dryness. I just need to figure out to keep the oiliness at bay in a non-comedogenic manner. Any ideas?

12 October 2011

Experiment: Washing hair less

I'm doing my own little experiment in which I cut back on my usage of shampoo so as not to deprive my curly hair of the moisture it so desires. The reason I'm trying to cut back on shampoo is because I feel like it creates frizz and severely dries out my ends and the top layer of my hair in particular. Rather than attempt to restore moisture artificially, by coating my strands with commercial conditioners or masques, I decided to go with a more natural approach. My main concern with using conditioners is that I feel like they merely mask the problem. Also, for me, commercial products, and conditioner in particular, tend to cause me to break out.

I thought that the least harmful approach to attempt to restore some of my hair's natural lustre would be to reduce the frequency with which I shampoo my hair on a weekly basis. I'm aiming for 1-2 times per week. While I've tried this experiment in the past and did make it to about the fifth day before shampooing at one time, the experience was not pleasant. I've made some changes this time around to try to lengthen the time period of no-shampoo without having to sacrifice with regard to my hair's appearance. When I tried shampooing less before, I lasted until the fifth day, and by that time my hair did not look pretty. My roots were very greasy/oily and my hair as a whole, didn't look good.

This time around, I'm combing my hair at night and I'm using a natural substitute for dry shampoo (ie. oat flour) on my roots. While I do shower each day, my hair is only rinsed with water and no other cleansing product. It's been four days since I last used shampoo on my hair. I must admit that my hair doesn't feel unbearable or look as unpleasant as the last time I tried this. Whereas before I was desperate to shampoo my hair by the fifth day because my scalp had accumulated so much oil, it's now only slightly oily at the roots, and this is easily concealed with my natural dry-shampoo.

What I have noticed is that the top layer of my hair is much less frizzy and more shiny than normal. My curls are also more pronounced. I do think the fact that I have been combing my hair as a nightly ritual is also beneficial in that it distributes some of the oil from my scalp through my hair and to my ends, where I need it the most. Rather than dreading the thought of going another day without shampoo, I am actually looking forward to it and may just wear my hair down tomorrow. We'll see how it goes.

Interestingly, I did go to the gym on Monday as well as tonight and even though I did break a sweat, this really hasn't had any ill-effect on my hair. Can I make it a full week without shampoo? I'm not sure yet. I will say that I'm taking it day by day. However, I'm looking forward to see how long I can make it and if shampooing my hair 1-2x per week for an entire month with have a lasting difference on the overall quality of my hair. I'll keep you posted.

04 October 2011

It's okay to indulge every now and again.

There are times when, out of pure laziness, I don't feel like loading up on greens or eliminating sugary foods or other trigger foods, even though I know that this method works best in terms of expediting the skin's healing process. In other words, I'll deviate from the proper skin regimen which in part, involves getting a sufficient amount of sleep and eating certain foods. Instead of getting the recommended 8-9 hours, I'll procrastinate having to rise early for the work day grind and stay up past midnight when I have to get up at 7 a.m. I'll eat handfuls of dark chocolate almonds like they are going out of style. I will crave pizza for dinner, and come hell or high water, that's what I am going to be having.

The point I'm trying to make is that it's okay to purposely or inadvertently fall off the skin-health wagon from time to time. I listen to what my body is telling me and if I feel the need to indulge, I go for it.

21 September 2011

Food intolerances can be frustrating.

A few days ago, I had this intense craving for chocolate chip cookies. Not just any chocolate chip cookies, but rather the soft, delectable, chewy ones. Being the capricious person that I can be, especially when it comes to particular food cravings (ahem chocolate), I ran out to one of my favorite health food stores and bought a box of gluten-laden chocolate chip cookies. Okay, maybe they weren't gluten-laden, but what I'm trying to say is that they did contain some unbleached enriched flour, which is, of course, a form of gluten. I knew that the ingredients would negatively impact my skin because it tends to react adversely when I consume chocolate or gluten.

While the cookies satisfied my craving -- although I found them to be a bit too doughy, I will admit -- my skin was less than pleased with my consumption. I knew immediately upon awakening the following day with blotchy skin, that that those pesky cookies were the culprit. Does it mean I will never eat chocolate chip cookies ever again? Heck no.

I try to limit certain ingredients in my diet if I know they will cause my skin to react badly. For me, limiting my gluten intake is not that difficult. For instance, whereas I used to regularly eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch (on sourdough bread), I now generally eat salad mixed with chicken and raw sunflower seeds. Kicking my dark chocolate/cocoa habit is the hard part.

What are your food intolerances and how do you manage to deal with them?

18 September 2011

DIY Hair Conditioner: MAYO

I have spent a considerable amount of time scouring the internet and local health food stores for a conditioner to adequately moisten my coarse, curly locks and not cause irritation to my skin or scalp. Given my chemical sensitivities, I have been limited to a narrow selection of products. I have been disappointed with each fragrance-free conditioner with which I have experimented for various reasons. Some are not moisturizing enough and actually exacerbate the underlying dryness. Others have resulted in skin irritation.  Ultimately, I have concluded that mayonnaise is far superior to any other conventional conditioner.

Mayo works like a charm in terms of supplying my hair with the moisture it craves and it improves the texture of my hair once dried (think soft, touchable, and shiny). As an added benefit, it is inexpensive, non-irritating, and easy to apply.

DIY instructions:

1) Place a tablespoon or two of mayo in a small cup.

2) Apply the mayo to individual strands of hair. Avoid applying it to the roots of your hair, which contain enough oil as is.

3) Rinse with cold water so as not to "cook" the egg in your hair.

4) Voila. Shiny hair.

If I want to merely detangle and condition my hair as quickly as possible, I bring the cup of mayo into the shower and apply it after shampooing. I let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing.

In the event that my hair requires a deep moisturizing mask, I apply the mayo to dry hair, cover my head with a plastic bag (or shower cap), and let it sit for 20-30 minutes before rinsing.

For henna-lovers out there, I also found mayo to be useful in terms of removing tiny particles of dried henna.

There you have it. I am forever a mayo conditioner convert.

10 September 2011

Milk and Menstruation

At varying points in college and high school, I had irregular periods. In an attempt to regulate my fluctuating menstrual cycle, I went on the pill. I was a freshman in college when on the pill and used it for a total of 6 months. It seemed to be an easy solution. My periods came and went like clockwork and as an added benefit, my acne subsided greatly. The downside of using the pill, for me, was the fact that my moods were affected. Given that I was concerned about the long-term effects that the pill might have on me health-wise, I elected to discontinue using it and to pursue more holistic remedies.

What has helped regulate my period better than any drug ever did, is milk. Whole milk (sans hormones), is my milk of choice. I remember researching solutions online and uncovering a post by a woman who claimed that drinking whole milk and eating other full-fat dairy products (e.g. chocolate, yogurt) helped to regulate her cycle.

At the time that I had discovered this online posting, I was on a dairy-free diet. I had grown up drinking skim-milk but gave it up after reading that it contributed to acne.

Something about the online post advocating the usage of milk to induce a period, struck a chord with me. It seemed like an inexpensive and unharmful suggestion. It got me thinking. I recalled that when drinking skim-milk regularly in high school and college, my periods were more frequent.

To make a long story short, I researched the benefits of whole milk and read that it helped regulate hormones and improve fertility. I decided to experiment with the milk method myself and sure enough, one glass per day for about 3 weeks did the trick. I did of course supplement the milk with a healthy dose of dark chocolate to make the experiment all the more sweeter. I continue to drink whole milk (I prefer the Trader Joe's brand above others) and find that it works like a charm.

My meditation practice

I have been meditating relatively consistently for about two months. When I first started, I was excited. I found that it did help calm my mind to some extent. However, the effects were not drastic and rather disappointing after the first week. I still felt anxiety and fear looming before, during, and after my meditation. This led me to question the benefits of meditation. I thought to myself, 'Is this doing more harm than good?' 'This might actually be making me feel worse.'

While meditation has not freed me from my anxiety which was my initial hope, the process of meditation has been rather enlightening. My anxiety has not lifted as much as I would like, but I am a work in progress. It has become apparent that meditation is not a cure-all; it's not a magical elixir that can relieve me of all of life's worries. Expecting meditation to instantly provide relief from sadness, pain, or any other negative thought or feeling is unrealistic. When practicing meditation, I need to do away with my expectations. I need not strive for peace and a sense of calm because when I try to achieve serenity, my mind rebels against me, and anxiety takes hold. Likewise, when I try to fight off feelings of pain, hurt, anxiety, sadness, and frustration, these emotions and thoughts intensify. I have realized that trying to get rid of or produce an emotion, has an opposite and undesirable effect.

If you analyze my above-referenced thoughts, you might ask, 'Why can't I strive for anxiety and in turn effectuate happiness and tranquility.' I would conjecture the answer to be: it is difficult to trick yourself into thinking or feeling a certain way. It seems akin to striving for happiness, because isn't that essentially what you're trying to do?

I think the best approach is to just allow your thoughts to flow freely without trying to force anything really. To be honest, I am feeling a bit doubtful and fearful about my next meditation session, because it might lead to the discomfort and anxiety I experienced during tonight's session. However, rather than struggling to ward myself of these negative thoughts, I am going to accept them. After all, I realize that these thoughts will eventually surrender and pass as all thoughts do.