Hi and welcome to my blog. I've been involved in natural health for over two decades and I've had the privilege of sharing my wellness knowledge with millions of people. And I look forward to sharing my knowledge here with you. Some of these posts will be education, some entertaining and some touching. But my intention is that you will walk away from every one with some insight into your own life, inspired to make a small change that will lead you to better health. Thanks for joining and please let me know how I can help you in your journey to improved health.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Magic, Mystery and Majesty; The Four Henges in England

We have certain dreams as a child. One of mine was to visit Stonehenge. And when the opportunity arose in 2009, I jumped at the chance. My husband was going to be in Germany and though I couldn't go with him, I took the time to go to England. It was a bit intimidating trying to plan my first trip overseas, and by myself for that matter. I realized that the set tours weren't going to fit my lofty dreams so I decided to rent a car, another intimidating concept of driving on the "wrong side of the road" and frankly, the wrong side of the car. I planned my journey of 2 days in London and then off into the countryside.

Kathy at Stonehenge
My first stop was Stonehenge. I had no clue you could see it from the side of the freeway and I turned a bend and saw it loom off next to me. I burst into tears. A dream had been realized. I parked the car and practically ran to see it. It is roped off so you couldn't get too close to it, but just to be there. I was in awe. I pondered how it was built, what was the purpose and the millions and millions of people throughout history that have walked amongst those stones. I was transferred to another time. Frankly, I was so in awe I barely remember being there, but the proof is in the pictures and how ecstatic I look.

Kathy at Woodhenge, just a few miles up the road
In my research on Stonehenge I learned that just a few miles down the road was Woodhenge. What?! Who heard of that? I had to see it. I bought a packaged sandwich in the store at Stonehenge (I'm sure made by real Druids) and set off to see Woodhenge. It was just a few miles away and no one was there. I'm sure one reason was very few people even knew it existed, but it also wasn't as dynamic as its famed sister Stonehenge. I sat in the middle of the wood pylons wondering what in the world its purpose could have been. Another sacred site, a theatre, a map, something astrological? I had no clue, but it's well worth a visit.

My next stop was Avebury where another henge stood and there were 2 routes I could take, one from the maps I printed off line and the other was what my GPS said. The map won and as I rounded a corner I caught a glimpse of the horse on the hill. I had read about it but I had no idea that I would get to see it. I drove by once again pondering it's purpose and who put it there. But on to the next adventure.

Horse on the hill
Part of the henge in Avebury
As I drove through the small town of Avebury I noticed large stones off the side of the road. I realized that it was basically an alley of stones. At the end was a small parking lot and I parked and started to walk through this path of giants. They were gorgeous and you could touch them, lean against them, feel the power that they embraced. I hugged one, because, why not? After a great walk through the stones I came to the henge itself. It was HUGE. It took up the whole town and there was a great church and cemetery right next to it. If you go don't forget to check out Silbury Hill. I spent quite a bit of time there drinking in what it was like to be amongst such beauty and power. The people that lived there walked around the stones as I'm sure they do everyday. My awe and wonder kept in check by those that are used to being surrounded by such history. When you see it everyday do you still ponder it's majesty? 

Kathy enjoying the baths in Bath

My next stop was the town of Bath, I thought it would pale in comparison to the three henges I had just seen, but it was incredible. I wish I would have had more time to explore the whole town. I did a tour of the ancient Roman baths and spent time at the water fall in the center of town. And learned that my parallel parking skills did translate as I parked on the wrong side of the street from the wrong side of the car and did it in one try. Dad would be proud.

Henge at Stanton Drew
My final stop before Glastonbury was Stanton Drew. This was going to be a tough one as it wasn't on any maps. I found it very much by accident on a website that I could never find again. For some reason I remembered the name. I programmed Stanton Drew into my GPS and of course that took me to the center of town. It was a very small town. I looked frantically for anything that might look like a henge. And then I thought about ancient societies. I bet it was by the church. I saw what looked like a stone on the side of the road and tore into the parking lot to find I arrived quite unexpectedly in someone's driveway. They looked less than happy to see me. I backed out and continued my trek. I finally found a very small parking lot with a very small sign that said 'henge'. I followed the path and realized I was basically in someone's yard. There was a small gate with a little money box that asked for a donation. I plunked a pound into the metal box and walked through the gate. I was met with dozens of cows and sheep as I crossed the long meadow and there in the middle of the creatures was a gorgeous henge. I was awestruck. It was amazing. I didn't have tons of time but found enough to plop dead center and meditate. I was the only one there and found myself practically transported to an ancient time. All of a sudden I heard a sound, melodious and haunting. I thought for a second it was the cows and sheep singing and then I realized it was human. I continued my meditation as the song rose to a peak and then subsided into silence. I finished my meditation and turned to see about 4 women who had been vocalizing behind a rock. We hadn't seen each other before I sat down with my back to where they were. It was magical and perfect. I wanted to stay, to continue to enjoy the magic of this sacred place. But the sun was setting and it was off to Glastonbury...Ancient Avalon.

Stay tuned for part two, coming soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Who me meditate?

So...I'm a bit Type A. I'm driven, a Capricorn, competitive, an only child daughter of a dad that wanted a son. Therefore, if you tell me to meditate, it just isn't going to work. I do hip hop and flying trapeze to relax, so to have me sit on a pillow and quiet my mind and still my body, I stilly and quietly lose my mind. I find it stressful. My to do list runs through my head, everything suddenly cramps, my hair tickles my face and there is that itch...that itch that must be addressed. Every sound is magnified and I want to run around the room.

When I found myself studying stress at Harvard at the Benson Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine and they said we were going to meditate, I thought, "Oh crap!" We were going to learn the rules of meditation and I got ready. I mean, you have to sit a certain way on a pillow, and stick your tongue to the roof of your mouth, you hold your hands a certain way, breath from your stomach, roll your eyes up into your head and then you float away into a million bubbles, right? I thought so. I was wrong.
Their kind of meditation had just 2 rules.

TWO RULES?! That I might actually be able to do.
1. Concentrate on something repetitive.
2. If thoughts intrude (and they probably will), dismiss them without judgement.

WHAT? Just 2 rules. It can't be that simple. But it was. And it was called a mini meditation. The instructor asked who in the room meditated and me being in the front row (of course I was), I turned to look at the few hundred people behind me and a fair amount of hands were raised. She asked who thought they couldn't meditate and she looked directly at me. Stared actually, it was quite disturbing. It was as if I had a scarlet (type) A embroidered on my proudly worn Harvard t-shirt. I tentatively raised my hand and she nodded as if Buddha himself had told her who I was.

She explained to us those 2 rules I mentioned earlier and had us close our eyes. We concentrated on our breath, the rise and fall of our chest. And on the inhale were to think, "I am." and repeat with every inhale. And on the exhale, "at peace." and repeat that. So, "I am...at peace." And breathe in and out. We did this for about 5 minutes and when she told us to return to the room, I smiled and shook my head no. I finally opened my eyes and she was looking at me, so proud. A meditation convert. I have used the minis ever since.

I've taught them to millions, whether in person, on the radio or in articles I've participated in. (click here for guided instruction) And if I can do it...seriously folks, you can too. Minis stop the stress response that is so detrimental to our health. Bring us back to the present moment, slow our heart and respiratory rate, lower our blood pressure, ready our brains for higher functioning, help digestion and boosts the immune system. I can think of nothing simpler to improve our health.
Give them a shot. I realized though there is certainly a traditional way to meditate, there is no wrong way if it works for you.

And I say good night from my little round pillow. Namaste!