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December 17, 2006 | Winter Solstice 2006
See the Beauty in the Dark
A friend of mine recently said that she aimed to go gently into and through this Dark Time. I immediately thought of words by Dylan Thomas 'do not go gently into this good night' a rather more morbid view of facing death; however, I realised that this is the way many people face the winter...kicking, screaming and fighting the season; generally in a negative frame of mind.
Add to that, grief issues for many, reluctant family commitments, crass commercialism and 'I want' values... it sounds like a recipe for disaster leading up to Christmas. And I know that daylight savings has a lot to answer for many people having almost jet lag like symptoms during November, so when the dark time really hits, their body clock is arrhythmic.
However, Winter is one of the most beautiful seasons with the chance for Mother Nature to clear her own cobwebs through violent storms and powerful darkness. To balance this, people have developed many different celebrations of the coming of the light - Advent celebrates the coming of the sun or Son; Hannukah is a celebration of Light; Solstice celebrates the return of the sun and Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of the Light of the World. None of these is about Santa Claus and how much stuff you get under the tree! Sure, buying or making presents and cards can be fun; choosing the perfect tree and making it beautiful is inspiring...but for many these things just add to the stress of the Dark.
I had the chance during the recent snow and wind storms to be still and see the Season coming in around me. As a former Scottish SAD sufferer, I am pleased to be living in a place with more daylight during winter hours; I know my Vitamin D levels are low and I try to get outside as much as possible.
For me, the snow is a playmate, the lack of power provides a chance to prepare for the dark properly and bring my own light in. The wind provides more than enough fir and cedar boughs for wreaths, the traditional Adventkrantz, and house decorations; I am looking forward to having my parents in my space for Christmas for the first time ever, and I am keeping Hannukah for my partner who is offshore until January.
I am also listening to and singing as much good music as I can, and avoiding shops that have strip lighting, piped music and 'santa elves' for helpers. I have taken my friend's advice and am moving through the season gently - there is fear in surrender, but...the world moves naturally in the season cycles and our biorhythms respond gratefully when given the chance to move with the world.
I wish you a happy, peaceful Hannukah, New Moon, Solstice, Yuletide and Christmas...
love and light, Rasma
Please email me or ring (250) 538-1804 to book.
Salt Spring Island, BC
I am mobile or you can visit me at the Arbutus Therapy Centre in Ganges from January.
I come over to Victoria quite regularly, so please email me or call to see what works for both of us.
All sessions now available by subspace.
SALT SPRING OPEN HOUSE
Not sure what either of my therapies do? Or if you will like them? Why not try one or both as a 20 minute taster.
Dates Arbutus Centre: TBA
At Home: Sundays Jan 14th, Feb 11th and March 11th
Suggested minimum donation $10
Why not get a group together for a pampering party at your home?
- BSc (Hons) Health & Disease
- Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine (in progress)
- Diploma of Nutrition
- Advanced Certificate Quantum Biofeedback(EPFX/SCIO)
- Sekhem Master in Training
- Soul Survival and Creation Trainer
- Emotional Freedom Technique Basic Level
- Indian Head Massage
How to Contact Me
Phone: (250) 538-1804 - I check messages regularly
WINTER - Feeling SAD?
So, the clocks have gone back; you now have to get up in the dark and come home from work in the dark. In the Northern Hemisphere many animals are hibernating, and you probably feel like joining them. The alternative is possibly another long winter where you feel irritable, fatigued and gain weight...until Spring comes along and the sun returns from its own hibernation.
Do you have SAD? The above symptoms are typical of someone who has seasonal affective disorder, but how much of this is a label to allow prescriptions of anti-depressants and how much is us trying to be as busy as the rest of the year, and just not slowing down when the rest of the world does?
More cases of SAD are reported in northern countries and at higher latitudes, with twice as many women as men diagnosed. Symptoms generally include feelings of irritability, discomfort in social situations and low energy. More specifically, people with SAD tend to sleep in, crave sweets and starchy carbohydrates, which leads to the weight gain. There is a proven lowering of or inability to properly metabolise serotonin (the happiness hormone).
Unlike other forms of depression, SAD is not triggered by external circumstances such as job stress; however, the fact that it coincides with one of the busiest times of year; increased family stress, and too much partying doesn't help.
Antidepressants do work, but is it worth giving your brain chemicals for 4 months of the year, when your kidneys have enough to do during this, their season?
In Balance : Out of Balance
Here are some interesting facts about the Season of Winter:
Organs: Kidney & Bladder
To be in balance, we should be keeping warm, staying quiet, sleeping well, keeping at home more, looking within and preserving/giving. We are out of balance when we are over active, have too many late nights or parties, get lack of rest and sleep, dissipate our energy, feel frustrated and become hoarders.
The best defense is offence!
Learn to recognise the onset of the symptoms - during which part of what month do you start feeling the lack of light? Does it occur at the same time each year? Here are some tips:
- Stimulate your endorphins with some form of regular exercise- combining this with a half hour lunchtime walk when there is maximum daylight (even on non-sunny days) is ideal.
- Maintain a balanced diet...eat warm/ing foods; start the day with a stewed apple with cloves; eat the bread, potatoes, rice or pasta for your lunch rather than evening meal; get sufficient protein - lentil and bean soups, curries and chilli make excellent evening meals served on their own or with steamed root vegetables; avoid mixing animal proteins and starchy carbs together; control the sugar intake
- Take part in social events (but remember that alcohol is a depressant so not too much imbibing!)
- Keep your mind active - create something fun for your family for Christmas; pick a subject that interests you and read up on it under a good light; learn some of the language of the country you plan to visit next year
- Acupuncture, aromatherapy massage, energy healing sessions and QX can help too!
- Winter herbs - the warmers: cayenne, chilli, ginger, turmeric; the kidney keepers: nettle, juniper and flax; I keep a large teapot of rooibos with added fresh root ginger on top of the woodstove all the time during winter; I alternate a cup with a glass of water every hour or so.
- St Johns Wort is very effective, but often needs 3 months lead in, so if you trigger date is in November...start taking the SJW in August. Be aware of contra-indications for taking this herb if you are using a light box or already on anti-depressants.
- Adding foods into your diet that are rich in Tryptophan helps your body produce serotonin - ocean food (fish, seaweed), eggs, dairy, soya, nuts and seeds. Miso makes a great soup stock and can be a broth in its own right.
- You do need good salt in your diet, particularly if you participate in winter sports, but be aware of the amount of processed sodium (preservatives, fast foods, table salt etc) first and balance by cutting that out before adding any new salt.
- Lots of pure water (of course!)
- Supplements: Vit B, Magnesium, 5-HTP. Vitamin D is often lacking at this time of year; be aware that over-supplementation can lead to toxicity and fat metabolism issues!
- Light therapy works; over use can cause eye problems and it should not be used if there is any macular degeneration, cataract or existing eye problems. If you are using a light box, it is better to sit with it in the morning. If you have a lack of natural daylight in your office, use a daylight bulb in a desk lamp; take regular breaks from it and that lunch hour walk. Putting a daylight bulb in your bedside lamp and setting a timer to turn it on half hour before you need to get up also works well.
Take winter head-on...don't be SAD!
We all have strong associations of this time of year with people, particularly loved ones. Some of these loved ones may not be in our lives at Christmas by reason of geography, death, divorce or other forms of loss. The following information has been provided by Randie Clark, a counsellor on Salt Spring Island (who has also provided the poem at th end of the newsletter), and I hope it will provide some comfort for those who are grieving, lonely or just too stressed to enjoy the holiday season. It focuses on seeking comfort, making meaning and self care.
- Plan ahead - include sufficient sleep and exercise, plus balance eating
- Simplify - is there something that you always do this time of year that needs to be relinquished? What is most important? What do you hope for the most?
- Look for Joy wherever it can be found - make a note of all the positives at the end of each day and be thankful for them
- Check on your expectations - are they realistic? Achievable? How can they be altered to make them reasonable for you?
- If you choose to shop for gifts, explore less stressful methods - time of day, catalogues, internet, craft fairs, 'village' shops
Practice the Art of Saying ‘No!’
- Define your own celebration; create your own tradition(s)
- Discuss your plans with your loved ones, making concessions only with those things that you can really live with
- Choose when you want to be alone and when you want to be with others
Watch for the Self-Destructive Habits
- The use of substances to ease emotional pain - alcohol, drugs, sugar etc
- Isolating yourself
- Other compulsive behaviours
Seek to be with People who Understand
- Attend functions that are planned to support mourning/lonely people during the holidays; attend events with people you truly like to be with
- Keep in telephone contact with a key friend
- Let your friends and loved ones know how they can help
Be Kind to Yourself
- Look for ways to care and nurture yourself - read a good book in bed an extra hour; have a relaxing therapy session; wear your favourite bright colour
- Do something special for yourself that you have always wanted to do
- Give yourself permission - to do this year differently, to feel the emotions that arise, to cherish your memories, to decrease your commitments...and more
Spotlight on a Friend
Casey Mulcaster: Trispiral Aromatherapy & Proudflesh
Imagine yourself welcomed into a warm room with ambient lighting and calming music. A warm footbath containing hand picked beach pebbles waits on the floor in front of a comfie chair. You immerse your feet while chatting about your medical history. Then your feet and calves are lovingly cleaned and creamed.
The session continues with a full back massage using pure oils and smells that you have chosen for yourself. While your back is being pampered your feet are cozy and warm supported by a hot water bottle. The aroma is divine and you slip into a relaxed trance state allowing your body to release tension, pain and stress.
A beautiful and fragrant facial, complete with cucumbers and cocoa essential oil (who says chocolate isn't allowed!), finishes the relaxing 2 hour therapy session. Blissed...you float out the door to face the rest of your day and week looking and feeling years younger. Casey says its a two way process...whatever she gives, she also receives, and judging by her resultant haircut after my session, it truly is so!
This is a sample of what you can enjoy from Casey's divine ministrations...full details are on her website. Casey also makes a range of body care products including soaps, lip balms, massage oils and herbal salves under the tradename Proudflesh. She is based in Victoria and can be contacted on (250) 360-9077.
For more information, visit Casey's website at www.trispiralaroma.com
Where would we be without the traditional mince pie...actually these don't bear any resemblance to the original mince pie, and in these days of pre-made pastry you have the choice of rolling your own using the tried and tested method handed down through generations, or buying premade shells either normal or gluten free! But the filling is the important bit, and provides a relatively healthy sweet alternative to chocolate and candy canes.
100g dried apricots (chopped small)
100g dried figs (chopped small)
100g soft prunes (chopped small)
50g dried blueberries
50g cranberries or glace cherries (chopped small)
1tsp ground cloves
2tsp ground ginger
2tsp ground nutmeg
350g diced apple
200ml brandy or whisky (optional)
400ml fruit juice (pomegranate, apple, orange, cranberry etc)
Enough pastry for 24 pies (although mix makes enough for 60, so jar the extra for next time)
In a large bowl, mix the fruit with the spices. Chop the apple into very small pieces (but not mush) and add to the mix. Grate the peel off the lemon and add to mix. Cut the lemon into small pieces and chop finely in a processor. Mix into fruit along with alcohol and juice. Mix well and leave to stand for 24-48 hours.
To make the pies, pre heat oven to 180C/350F/GM4. Make and/or roll out the pastry and cut it to line your pie tins. Fill with fruit mix and top with pastry lids. Paint with a beaten egg or milk (or alternative) and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from tins when still warm and cool on rack. Serve with brandy butter, or your favourite topping, or just plain.
Winter Geese - by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscape,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over, announcing your place
in the family of things.
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