Friday, January 30, 2015

Smudging: A Cleanse for New Beginnings

Much has happened to me in the past couple months, most very painful and difficult to talk about. With these trials there have been silver linings but they were only there if I  was willing to see them. One of the two I found is my new apartment which I share with two roommates. More than the apartment itself my room has become a safe haven. A place where I feel healthy, alive and inspired. It is truly a beautiful space and eventually I will post some pictures of it, but I wanted to write this post first in light of a new year, new beginnings and spiritual cleansing in order to accept all these changes.

Smudging is the ceremonial burning of a bundle of dried sacred herbs, typically sage and cedar though other dried herb can be used. The stick itself is called a smudge. This is a native american ritual, which resonates deeply with me and my Choctaw ancestry and my love of nature and oneness with the earth. It is also a deeply healing process, it helps clear negative energy and research has shown that when burned certain herbs are linked to more positive moods through the release of negative ions. Of course we see similar practices in many religious rituals such as priests burning incense. It is a very releasing and purifying experience to be surrounded by and breathing in an herb as sacred as sage.

Different types of wands (White Sage also called Sacred Sage, and Lavender Sage)
I use a mix of lavender and sage as I find the scent more soothing. There are very specific ways to go about smudging and while I encourage you to do it whatever way fits you I also would encourage you to experience it in the traditional way at least once. You can purchase smudge wands online or even at Whole Foods and I strongly recommend going with a brand that is sustainably harvested and supports Native American agriculture.

I smudged my new room to dispel any negative energies and to recharge my space with positive forces. Sage and Cedar are known for their clarifying and strength inducing essence. Lavender is refreshing, soothing and grounding. These herbs have been used for centuries in medicinal and culinary recipes and for certain never go out of style.

Smudge around doorways, windows and other entrances 
 Before you begin, crack open a window or door (  I chose window so as to avoid smoking out my  roommates) Be aware that the scent could raise  questions so explain what you are doing if you  think someone will be offended. Place your  herbs in a ceramic bowl or abalone shell, light  the tip with a wooden match and then gently  blow out the flame, allowing the herbs to  smolder. Breath in some of the smoke and allow  it to waft over you, metaphorically cleansing  yourself in it.  Begin on the left side of your door  and work your way around your room staying to  the left. Say a prayer, set an intention or simply  focus on the cleansing process as you allow the  smoke to surround the important places in your  home. I go around all window sills, my bed, desk  and other places that I spend time in. Finally  arrive at whatever window or door you left open  and allow the smoke to flow outdoors, expelling  the negative and allowing the positive to enter.  You can dip the smudge in some water or allow  it to burn out. Once done take the ashes and  place them on your front doorstep or windowsill to protect your home, you do not want to keep the ashes as they are the leftovers from your cleanse (it would be like keeping dirty bath water) once you are content with your ritual return the ashes to the earth. At this point you can either continue with your day or, as in traditional practices, you can have a feast to celebrate your home and all that is good in it. And who doesn't love an excuse to feast!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

12 Ways To Make Your Home a Place of Peace, Health and Love (The Affordable and simple version)

I recently read an article on one of my favorite sites (One that I highly recommend
Uncharacteristically this article was a disappointment, I found it to be unrealistic when applied to my own life and financial situation and I knew there to be many simpler ways to achieve the very well intentioned point of this article. I assume this will also apply to many of you as well, and I hope my 12 tips can prove as useful and centering to you as they do for me. This was a rather simple response for me to write as these tips came from my daily routine of self love in my own home.

This is the article that inspired my response ( I do encourage you to read it so you get an idea as to what I am responding to and also in case some of what is shared is something that can benefit you!):

 Here's my list: 
1. Windows - with lots of natural light (so open those curtains!)
2. Books, on anything and everything that inspires you and makes you want to open it's cover. Be inspired
3.Plants! Lots of plants. They love you back as much as you love them and are easier maintenance than a pet (which can be good to have too )
4. Incense, Essential Oils, Natural Candles - some sort of scent that centers you and inspires you. Pick ones to rejuvenate and refresh you in the morning and relax and ease you at night. (just remember to blow out the candles before you leave lol)
5. Fresh Fruits and Veggies - Eat them raw, eat them cooked, blend them in any cheap ass bender you want! Just get them fresh, organic and feast on them! Your body will love you!
6. Brown Rice - Cheap and SO SO good for you.
7. Yoga mat, some cheap weights and youtube for some great workout videos whether it be ballet, yoga, pilates or crossfit! Get in even 15 minutes a day and your home will become a place of strengthening
8. Pandora with a spa, classical or relaxation station...or just put on your favorite music that makes you smile. 
9. A specific corner for mediation/Inspiration station, with pillows, blankets, candles...whatever makes you happy and brings you to oneness with your surroundings. This could also be a hobby area, where you do art, crafts or solve mathematical equations...something that brings you peace and strengthens your mind after a long day!
10. Tea! Lots of tea, pick your favorites and brew them hot in the winter and cold in the summer, Different types of teas can do different types of miraculous stuff for your health!
11. A comfortable bed - sleep is vital and I honestly will say that I think it's good to shell out some money on a mattress that is genuinely good for you and your needs. 
12. Finally, Love, whether you live alone or with family or environment of positivity and love for yourself and all those around you will make your home a wellness sanctuary for sure.

Of course these are just what I personally think are good for a safe haven of peace, health and love but I also think they are an affordable option for anyone. I strongly believe that you don't have to buy a sauna to feel healthy and alive! I hope this helps you focus your days and heal yourself. So mote it be.