Welcome to my March newsletter. I hope you all are surviving these critical times. I know it may not feel like it now, but if we all just hang in there (without fear), things will get better; this is a uniquely creative time to grow and move forward stronger and better than before if we can leave the fear behind.
First, let’s have a bit of fun and learn a little more about two significant March events.
March 17 is when St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated. A feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. St. Patrick's Day falls during the season of Lent, and Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and feast.
The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.
In 1848, several New York Irish aid societies decided to unite their parades to form the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade. Today, that parade is the world’s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States, with over 150,000 participants. Each year, nearly three million people line the one-and-a-half mile parade route to watch the procession, which takes more than five hours. Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Savannah also celebrate the day with parades including between 10,000 to 20,000 participants.
Today, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated by people of all backgrounds in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated in other locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore, and Russia.
In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick's Day has traditionally been a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17. Beginning in 1995, however, the Irish government began a national campaign to use St. Patrick's Day as an opportunity to drive tourism and showcase Ireland to the rest of the world. Last year, close to one million people took part in Ireland 's St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin, a multi-day celebration featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions, and fireworks shows.
Chicago is also famous for a somewhat peculiar annual event: dyeing the Chicago River green. The tradition started in 1962, when city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realized that the green dye might provide a unique way to celebrate the holiday. That year, they released 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river—enough to keep it green for a week! Today, in order to minimize environmental damage, only forty pounds of dye are used, making the river green for only several hours.
March is also the time of the Spring or Vernal Equinox which occurs on March 20 and is one of the four great solar festivals of the year. Day and night are equal, poised and balanced, ready to slip over to the side of light in the Northern Hemisphere and dark in the Southern. The spring equinox is sacred to dawn, youth, the morning star, the east and new life.
Let me start by apologizing to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere. It is Spring up here and we are leaving the dark days and moving into the light. That is where my focus will be. However, before I do that I wanted to share a bit of information that applies to both Northern and Southern Hemispheres. In Japan the Spring and Autumn Equinox is observed as the six-day celebration the Higan-e. It is celebrated for three days before and after the Equinox. Six days was chosen because it is based on the six perfections, giving, observance of the precepts, perseverance, effort, meditation and wisdom - needed before one goes from this shore of samsára to the further shore or nirvana. The literal meaning of Higan is 'other shore.' The ritual includes repentance of past sins and prayers for enlightenment in the next life. It also includes remembrance of the dead and visits to the family graves. It is thought that the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, being the most temperate times of the year, are ideal moments to reflect on the meaning of life.
In many traditions, this is the start of the new year. The Roman year began on the ides of March (15th). The astrological year begins on the equinox when the moon moves into the first sign of the Zodiac, Aries. There are so many traditions both pagan and religious that celebrate this time of year. With all that is happening in our world now, why not change your celebrations a bit and focus on the green. I think we’ve focused on the fear and negativity surrounding us long enough. Focusing on the green can mean many things including going green to help our environment and the green associated with prosperity, good luck and financial security. For those who like ceremony, here’s one to try:
Each person chose a seed or bulb that is meaningful to them. Bless the seed or bulb by focusing on this thought: The dark half of the year has passed and now our days grow light and warm. These plants have slept and now they will awake to grow and bring green and renewed life to the world.
What is even more important and is something that both our Hemispheres can share is the balance of equal light and dark. There are only two days a year in which the entire world can celebrate this perfect balance of light and dark. Think about the balance of a day where the light and dark are perfectly equal and then think about your life and where you can use a bit more balance.
I think one of the reasons we are in this current financial and ecological crisis is because of the imbalance we (meaning the entire world, but perhaps more so here in the U.S.) have been practicing and the power we gave to greedy people and their constant desire for more. Bigger profits, more toys, more food, more fast food, more gas, more, more and even more. Bigger and faster cars, bigger and more costly houses, electronics that are obsolete in a year, new clothes, new shoes, new, new and new.
How did we get here? This may surprise you, but we got here because of fear. Fear that someone just might have something better than you. They might have more stuff, a bigger better car, a bigger house, the latest flat screen, more fun, a hotter girlfriend or lover and that list can go on and on. I imagine that right about now you might be saying, “but that’s not about fear, that’s just being selfish or greedy”. When you look down deeper below the surface of greed, need and selfishness, it all boils down to fear and fear is really about pain. Emotional pain that is so severe it actually can cause us physical pain. The pervasive feeling that if we don’t have that one thing we might really want or need, it could somehow hurt so much (physically and emotionally) that we won’t be able to stand it; maybe not even live without it!
It is this kind of backward thinking that has allowed our fear to practically destroy our planet and ourselves. So, keeping that in mind, this is a good time to focus on the balance that our planet, our universe and our subconscious is telling us we need. The balance of light and dark. “Mindfulness” is a great first step.
The current movement of “integrative medicine” encourages us to focus on maintaining a state of optimal mental and physical good health rather than simply attempting to alleviate symptoms as they pop up. According to psychologist Jon Kabat-Zinn (founding director of the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Mindfulness in Medicine), the question we need to be asking ourselves every day is “what are we doing to keep from getting sick in the first place?” And when I refer to getting sick, I’m not just talking about a physical disease, but our mental well-being as well. Imagine not suffering from chronic depression, fear or anxiety again.
“Mindfulness” is a form of thinking and acting in which you disengage yourself from old habits, patterns, thoughts and actions. It involves being truly present in the moment. Unfortunately, practicing mindfulness can be a bit tough. It’s easy to talk about but actually practicing mindfulness requires a tremendous amount of inner strength, courage and stamina.
We all would like to think that our rituals and routines are what give us comfort and peace. To a certain extent that may be true, but only because that is what we tell ourselves over and over again. In reality, study after study has shown that by practicing mindfulness and disengaging yourself from your rituals, routines, strong beliefs and emotions actually has a positive effect on brain function ultimately lowering stress responses and increasing feelings of relaxation and well-being.
It is important to remember when practicing mindfulness to use your entire being. Consciously being mindful is tremendously positive (and hard to keep up for extended periods of time), but when you can utilize your entire being by accessing your subconscious, you increase your chances of success tenfold. Hypnosis easily gives you the ability to truly practice mindfulness.
The University of California at Irvine conducted a study last year exploring the question of whether false beliefs last. Using hypnosis, they planted a false belief or memory regarding asparagus. I know, make me chuckle when I read it as well, but they found that when the test subjects were brought back two weeks later to determine if the false beliefs persisted, they found that although it was somewhat weaker than when first implanted, it did still persist and was powerful enough to affect actual food choices. Think about that a moment.
This may seem like a somewhat silly test, but the point is this, you can change your thoughts and beliefs by using hypnosis which means you can practice and be successful in practicing mindfulness by adding hypnosis to your daily or weekly routine.
I have noticed that when things get as financially tough as they are now or as stressful as they are now, one of the first things we seem to let go of is anything that we consider self-improvement. I’m not sure why this is, maybe we feel we shouldn’t spend any money on ourselves and self-improvement is definitely all about self. But this is wrong. It actually costs us much more financially as well as physically and emotionally if we don’t take care of ourselves and prevent problems and illness rather than practicing the policy of treating them after they are already there. Mindfulness training is turning out to be one of the best preventative measures available to each of us.
I know that a hypnotherapy session can be costly and that incorporating a once a week hypnotherapy session into your life even more so. That is why I have developed my recorded sessions. For about the cost of two cups of coffee, you can get a downloadable session and use it every day. There’s even a session specifically designed for the type of Fear that we are all experiencing right now. Each downloadable session includes relaxation imagery, positive affirmations and healing suggestions that can potentially save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year.
Testimonials embarrass me a bit and for a long time I refused to have any on my site. But I was urged to change that particular behavior pattern of mine by several clients. They insisted that it is helpful for a potential client to read what other clients have written. With that in mind, I just want to share two such testimonials here because they are particularly pertinent to this month’s topic:
"Thank you so much Linda! I had hypnosis before in a real life session but your downloads far surpass my last experience. Your downloadable sessions have helped me so much. Changing my life. Thank you so much for everything I'll
be back for more!! I believe a lot more good things will happen now that I'm letting go of my resistance to good things (something I didn't even realize I was doing until I found your site & sessions) so I'll write back soon to let you know how I am."
AK in New York
"Linda, I know you won't be surprised to hear this, but my depression is gone - totally and completely as far as I can tell... I spent years in therapy with psychiatrists and psychologists - I can't tell you how many sessions - hundreds!! Compared to the two sessions with you. 10 years of medication and disability for it and after your hypnosis - GONE!!"
D in California
Have the courage to step outside the trance of narrowing fear, thoughts and actions. Keeping it real and fresh is my approach to hypnotherapy, helping to bring you back to the world wakeful living is my goal.
Linda Simmon, C.Ht.
- Pistachios for the Greater Good
When it comes to cholesterol, it's good cop (HDL) vs. bad cop (LDL). And only a good cop has the power to charm your arteries into coming clean. Do you have enough good cops on the beat to keep your arteries clear? If not, put down the chips, candy bar, and cookie, and grab two to three handfuls of pistachios every day instead.
- All About WOMEN: The Best Calcium Source
Tablets, chews, fortified juices, dairy products -- where should you get your calcium? One recent study suggests dairy is best, with a calcium supplement thrown in for good measure. In the study, women who got at least 70 percent of their calcium from dairy -- and the rest from supplements -- had better bone mineral density than the supplement-only group. It's not clear why calcium from dairy beat the supplemental stuff in a study. It may be that dairy favorably affects estrogen balance, making for stronger bones. But more research is needed to confirm the study results. Calcium Do's and Don'ts and the study findings don't mean you should ditch your calcium chews. Just don’t forget to seek out calcium from foods, too, especially because a lot of food sources provide other good-for-the-body nutrients, like vitamin D and protein. Consider low-fat yogurt (415 mg calcium per cup), Parmesan cheese (390 mg per ounce), low-fat milk (290 mg per cup), and -- if you're not into dairy -- soymilk (300 mg per cup), canned pink salmon (215 mg per half cup), and cooked spinach (180 mg per cup). A balanced, nutritious diet can make a serious dent in your calcium needs.
All About MEN: Prostate Health? Mission Possible
Evading prostate cancer could be a little easier if you'd put more of these on your plate: cruciferous vegetables. Turns out sulforaphane -- the compound that makes the veggies in this family taste a little bitter and smell a little funky -- can help disarm prostate cancer cells before they do any damage. Here's the cruciferous lineup. There's no surefire way to prevent prostate cancer. But your risk is greatly affected by your diet and everyday habits. For example, how much broccoli you eat. And how much cauliflower. These veggies -- along with cabbage, kale, and bok choy -- belong to the cruciferous family, and research shows that this family may put the kibosh on prostate cancer like no other veggie group. Up your intake of fruits and veggies. Although cruciferous veggies seem to be particularly helpful in protecting your prostate, upping your intake of produce, in general, is good for it, too.
The Fun Way to Control Blood Sugar
If you have type 2 diabetes, you live with a lot of rules -- but here's a fun one you may have missed: Relax more. Sure, you need to think twice about what you eat, get more exercise, and take your meds. But getting a handle on stress can help lower blood sugar, too. Here's one relaxation strategy that appears to do the trick. “Relax!” If you've ever had someone shout that at you, you know it's sometimes easier said than done. Despite your best efforts, you may have trouble dialing it down. Meditation, biofeedback and hypnosis are all wonderful techniques that work, they really do. [Of course, Hypnosis works best of all!!].
A Good Reason to Add Berries to Your Oatmeal
A side of sliced strawberries with your steel-cut oatmeal may make for one heck of a smart breakfast combo. That's because oats are rich in heart-healthy compounds called phenols. And it seems that adding some vitamin C (from the berries) is like adding water to a Chia Pet: It causes the heart-helping powers of the oats to grow. When oat phenols and vitamin C were combined in a study, they worked synergistically to reinforce LDL cholesterol and make it more stable -- even better than the oat phenols alone could do. And you want your LDL to be stable, because that means it’s less likely to break down and stick to the walls of your arteries. You know, that process that can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and other nasty business. Why Steel-Cut Oats? They take a little longer to make, but they’re worth it. Steel-cut oats -- also called coarse-cut oats -- are lightly processed. And that means they probably still have most of their good stuff intact (fiber, nutrients, etc.).
Say “No” to Life in the Fast Lane
You may be getting ahead on your to-do list by scheduling every minute of every day, but your health could pay a price. Death rates from heart disease are higher in cultures where people tend to walk fast, talk fast, work fast, and live by the clock compared to death rates in more laid-back locales. Here's how to slow down your fast-paced world.
Does your entire day feel like a sprint to the finish line the second you head out the door? There's nothing wrong with working hard, especially if you feel upbeat and invigorated by it. But if you have a hard-driving, competitive, “Type A” personality and tend to feel angry or hostile as you strive to scratch “just one more” item off your to-do list, it's time to reprioritize. Look at the list. Redefine success by doing only what you need to, want to, and can do comfortably. Still find yourself run ragged at the end of each day? Treat yourself to a little decompression time in the evening. (Here are four relaxation strategies you can try tonight.) Paint pictures. Listen to music. Or just let yourself eat dinner without watching TV or talking on the phone or paying attention to the pressing thoughts in your head urging you to hurry up so you can move on to the next item on your list.
Is that glass half empty or half full? Your answer may affect your blood pressure.
Older people who have a sense of self-worth, feel happy and hopeful, and enjoy life have lower blood pressure compared to their more pessimistic peers. Here's how good feelings can reach all the way into your blood vessels. Good feelings can help reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that's related to high blood pressure. So the benefits of good feelings don't stop at just feeling good. Researchers speculate that the chemical and neural reactions people have to positive thoughts and feelings may help keep all of the body's various systems in balance. So your heart, your arteries -- even your immune system -- benefit. Have you harnessed the power of positive thinking? Here's how to cope, adapt, and react to life's trials and tribulations in more positive ways:
(1) Try to look on the bright side during times of change.
(2) Make a list of the possibilities and opportunities that could come out of any obstacles
(3) Surround yourself with happy, positive people. They may rub off on you! And strong social ties help you power through the tough times in life.
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