What is the value in Holistic Practice?

I believe there is a great deal of misinformation and stereotyping around holistic practice, especially holistic medicine. Many people, often Westerners, dismiss the concept before “holistically” (haha) learning about the practice. It’s viewed as “hocus-pocus,” or “new-age nonsense,” or as a friend of mine so fondly states, “that hippy-dippy [stuff].”

The reality is that Western medicine and behavior really needs to take a closer look at holistic practices because we’re often treating symptoms, and not disease. The paradigms of our illnesses, whether they are physical, mental, or a combination, are often rooted in various aspects of our lives.

According to WebMD, “Holistic medicine is a form of healing that considers the whole person — body, mind, spirit, and emotions — in the quest for optimal health and wellness. According to the holistic medicine philosophy, one can achieve optimal health — the primary goal of holistic medicine practice — by gaining proper balance in life.” The key words here are whole person – body, mind, spirit, and emotionsWhen we approach our overall health, we have to consider all aspects of a person’s life. For example, if you find yourself getting colds quite often, have you changed your diet? Are you under a lot more stress? It’s not necessarily always a bug floating around, because there will always be bugs floating around, but what is making us vulnerable.

In yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, and ancient Hindu practices, our whole self is centered around “chakra,” which in Sanskrit literally means “wheel” or “disc.” Our chakras are aligned to seven centers around our body, starting with the spine. The idea of the “wheel” implies that the whole being of self is inter-connected. The Chopra Center uses the bathtub drain as an example for how chakras work:

“These swirling wheels of energy correspond to massive nerve centers in the body. Each of the seven main chakras contains bundles of nerves and major organs as well as our psychological, emotional, and spiritual states of being. Since everything is moving, it’s essential that our seven main chakras stay open, aligned, and fluid. If there is a blockage, energy cannot flow. Think of something as simple as your bathtub drain. If you allow too much hair to go into the drain, the bathtub will back up with water, stagnate and eventually bacteria and mold will grow. So is too with our bodies and the chakras.”

Traditional Chinese Medicine bears a similar philosophy. Taoism helped form the philosophy that our “gi” (vital energy), blood, and body fluids are the material basis for all body functions, and that if one aspect of the system in unaligned, either spiritually or physically, it may manifest itself in different ways.

So, how do we apply holistic practices in our Western culture? Firstly, it’s still imperative that you receive (at the very least) a yearly physical from your medical doctor. As much as I love the ideas of holistic medicine, it doesn’t completely replace hard scientific facts that a physician can declare through blood-work and routine examination. In short, if you’re feeling ill, definitely see a doctor, but there are ways to approach a better well-being through holistic practices:

  • Consider your diet. If you’ve been feeling tired, moody, bloated, constipated, etc., have you recently changed your diet? Is your diet filled with nutritional foods like nuts, lean proteins, vegetables, and fruits?
  • Hydration levels. Moodiness, oily skin, and cramps can often be a result of dehydration.
  • Stress levels. Stress is a huge trigger for so many physical maladies such as nausea, headaches, indigestion, moodiness, and depression. If you’re feeling overly stressed, consider some time to reflect and meditate. This could be taking a walk, writing, yoga, or taking a bath – just some time for you to think about what is causing you stress and/or anxiety. Then consider ways to eliminate stresses in your life – Is the stress trigger something you can control? If not, how can you let it go? If so, how can you work to change it?
  • Depression levels. So many more people are depressed than we realize. Depression can manifest itself as listlessness, exhaustion, over-indulgence, headaches, substance abuse, insomnia, gastrointestinal issues, and more. While I always recommend seeking the help of a professional for long-term or clinical depression, it also helps to meditate on what may be triggering depression. Sometimes it’s a chemical imbalance, which would require the treatment of a professional psychiatrist or physician, but sometimes it’s a life-trigger that we can slowly work to change.

Whatever one’s malady may be, the important point to take-away from holistic practice is to look at the whole. What may appear to be simply physical may actually have underlying roots and causes.

If you feel like the help you need may be outside of your own realm of solution, here are some resources:

Wishing you all good health and wellness. Namaste.

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Finding Faith

On this Easter Sunday, I  would like to share with you how I found my faith and belief in God. This story takes place in January of 2005:


 

I was never a spiritual person. I viewed religion as a collection of moral misgivings for a misguided youth. Pastors, preachers and holy teachers were symbols of a conservative political agenda. Angels, demons, Jesus, Abraham, Mohammad, the list goes on – somewhere between Allah and Vishnu, I lost faith that so much could possibly exist. To this day, I  am not how I would define a religious person, but I now view life with a humble understanding that there is more to this world than what we can comprehend.

The month we had off for winter break from my undergraduate senior year passed by as quickly as a celebrity marriage. It was cold, it was mundane, it was bleak, but I was home. There’s just something comfortable about being home. Alas, because of my job, we were required to come back to school earlier than everyone else, and because of my boss, our staff had to come back even earlier than the other staffs around campus. No one was pleased with the situation, but we dealt with it because our boss was a stickler.

The day I had to make the three-and-a-half hour drive back to school it was raining. The menacing clouds were so gray they were almost black. They lowered themselves into the atmosphere, abating Earth of all sunlight. The incensed rain was freezing; it slammed itself against the ground as if paying back a long overdue vengeance to the Earth.  To extend its torture of the land, and my psyche, it surged down in cascades. As I peered out of my city window, I could barely see my car in the driveway through the downpour.

My car: a 1998 Plymouth Neon in forest green. Not exactly an all-terrain vehicle; barely an any-terrain vehicle. I called it “Dory” after the fish with anteretrograde amnesia from Finding Nemo. I graced it with this name because of the moon-roof that didn’t open, the power windows in the front and roll-down windows in the back, and the CD player that only played Paul Simon. If my car were human, it would have had considerable mental issues.

My father came up behind me to peer out the window; he glanced at the monsoon and darted his eyes over to my car. He pondered the situation for an extenuating three seconds and decided that there was no way I would drive up to school today. There is no reasoning with my father; there was less reasoning with my boss. Between those two men I had no decision-making privileges; they both meant well. I turned to my dad and explained that the car was already packed and I already promised to be up there today.  In lieu of his protests and dog-ate-my-homework excuses, I held my ground; I promised to be up there, I would be up there. After about a half hour of pleading, he kissed my forehead and told me to drive slowly. I hugged my mom, play-punched my brother, and received many wet, sloppy kisses from my puppy and was on my way.

I pulled out of the driveway with the windshield wipers on full blast. I couldn’t help thinking: “yikes, if I need my wipers on full blast in the street, what will it be like on the highway?” I went through Staten Island, passed over the Goethals Bridge onto the New Jersey Turnpike. So far so good; I was going slower than usual and started getting concerned about how long it was going to take me to get up to Binghamton. I got off the exit for “The Oranges” for Route 280 West.

As I drove 280, I relaxed into my seat. It would normally be about three hours from that point, but with the weather, I was expecting it to be at least four. Usually, I drove about eighty miles-per-hour on this road; very illegal, but very efficient. Today, I clearly could not go that speed, but I decided a solid seventy miles-per-hour would still get me up to school in a decent amount of time.

The rain pounded against my window. I squinted my eyes to try and see through the mess of water on my windshield and popped Paul Simon into my CD player. Just then I noticed car lights about thirty feet ahead of me. They weren’t moving. My first reaction was to switch lanes, but there, ahead on the horizon, over the hill beyond my field of vision, was a line of cars completely stopped in the middle of the highway. I couldn’t switch lanes; I had no other choice than to slam on my non anti-lock brakes. I started hydroplaning.

At seventy miles-per-hour, with no stopping in my near future, I flew to the car that was now fifteen-feet away from me. Just then I realized that I was going to die. There was no turning back, there would be no second chances, no apologies for my wrongdoings, no making up for my past regrets – I was going to die. I was going to die for ignoring my father, I was going to die because I was in a rush, I was going to die and I had dug my own grave. I held onto the wheel so tightly as if I was would be able to grab my life back the harder I squeezed. My eyes were almost closed, but I swear I saw my heart throbbing out my chest. All I could do was face my mortality and pray to a God that I so often questioned to save me from the destruction that stood before me.

Just then, my car stopped. Approximately six inches away from the back of the car in front of me, my car stopped dead in its tracks. There was no physical explanation for what I was experiencing. The sheer velocity of my car had guaranteed me an early grave. Less than half-a-second before this my car was flying across the highway. There was just no answer. Someone, or something, had stopped my car that day, and whatever it was, saved my life.

I was shaking so hard and I couldn’t catch my breath. I was just saved from certain death. I cried for the majority of the ride up. I don’t know if I cried because I was frightened or if I cried because I had underwent something larger than me, than gravity, than life itself. I still can’t answer what, or why me, but that day, I found faith.

Earn Money by Becoming an Affiliate

How often do you find yourself in the throws of social media or blogging bragging about your favorite products? People usually respond with positive inquisition: “Where can I buy that!? Do you have a link?” Being the amazing beacon of knowledge, of course you share! If only there was a way you could earn a little extra side cash by sharing all of your expertise… There is. It’s called becoming an affiliate.

There are generally two ways you can earn money as an affiliate. 1) By using your referral link and when others make a purchase with that link, you get a kickback, usually a percentage of the sale; 2) By shopping with a referral link where the referral will give you a kickback, usually a percentage, of your own purchase.

Here are some opportunities to earn money online:

  1. Ebates. Ebates is great because they are connected to so many different stores. When you shop via Ebates, you receive a percentage back (based on the store) of your purchase. It’s also an affiliate program where if you get others to sign-up via your link, you get extra cash back. A win-win. (You will need a PayPal account.)
  2. Amazon. Amazon offers an affiliate program to help you earn when people purchase specific products you refer them to. The link provided offers a fantastic tool for how to to get set-up as an Amazon Associate.
  3. CJ Affiliate. This program offers affiliate benefits by monetizing links. They are ranked in the top tier for performance and payout.

So, you’ve set-up your affiliate account, and you’re ready to start earning, how do you do this? Tips on how to turns links into cash:

  1. Find the right venue. Posting your links on social media, or on your blog, are great ways to get started. Other niche areas include Reddit, where you can hone in on a specific target market, or sending emails to your friends and family.
  2. Be personally connected to the link you provide by explaining. When you post a link to a product or website, you should give readers a reason for clicking (and hopefully following-through with a purchase).
  3. Avoid spamming your links. If you post too frequently, or post without explanation, it just becomes white noise (or worse, people get annoyed with you). It’s ideal to post less in more meaningful places.

It’s important to note that the Federal Trade Commission requires bloggers to disclose any affiliations. This is generally good practice, as it also notifies those who click on your links that they are being tracked by the affiliate company.

We wish you lots of luck on your new venture!

The Candle Moments Blog is currently affiliated with Amazon and Ebates. When we link to products, we receive credit and compensation for the referral. *A point on affiliations – While we are credited for some of our referrals, we will absolutely never promote or endorse any products we don’t personally believe in.

Eight Tips to Achieving Healthy Skin

Eight Tips to Achieving Healthy Skin

Our skin is our body’s largest organ, our first presentation to the world. We all want beautiful skin, but to obtain beautiful skin, we must first achieve healthy skin.

We spoke with Christopher Busapavanij, Dermatology Physician Assistant, and asked for his top eight tips in achieving healthy skin:

 

  1. Use sunscreen when out in the sun for prolonged periods of time.  Broad spectrum (coverage for both UVA and UVB types of sunlight) with SPF 30-50 applied every 3-4 hours is ideal.  Avoid the sun between 10 am and 2 pm if possible as this is when the sun’s rays are strongest and most damaging. We recommend Block Island Organics – Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30.
  2. Moisturize the skin daily.  The skin is your body’s first line of defense against infection and the largest single organ of the body, so it is important to maintain and keep healthy.  Keeping the skin hydrated will keep the integrity of the skin intact and be more resistant cracking and infection. We recommend Confidence or Butter Me Up Body and Face Butters.
  3. Quit smoking.  Among countless other negatives, smoking leads to premature wrinkling of the skin and may make you look older than you really are.  
  4. Shorter showers.  Although it may feel good to take a long hot relaxing shower, extended hot water exposure will strip away moisture from the skin, which can lead to dry, cracked, itchy skin especially during winter.  10 minutes or less is ideal. We recommend using handmade soap to avoid harsh chemicals when washing.
  5. A humidifier at home during winter will help maintain humidity, which will help prevent dryness of the skin, especially for infants and children.  45%-60% is most comfortable.  
  6. Drink plenty of water.  It will help keep your skin hydrated, plus it has zero calories!
  7. Exfoliate 2-3 times per week. Exfoliating the skin helps regenerate new skin cells, eliminate dead skin, and dissolve dirt. We recommend Face the Day for facial exfoliation, and Salt it Off for body exfoliation.
  8. Start taking care of your skin as soon as possible.  The damage caused by the sun when we are teenagers and young adults  do not start to show until we are in our late 30’s and 40’s.  The best treatment is prevention.  

Host a Facebook Party!

I’m in love with online shopping. Browse, read reviews, compare, save your cart, stay in your pajamas, and it comes to your front door. I even order my groceries online. Seriously, since I opened my Amazon account back in 1999, I have never looked back.

Online shopping is no longer the “wave of the future,” it’s the here and now, and along with our click-pay-receive culture, we have found a way to connect with old friends, and long-distance buddies through social media.

Why not marry this idea? Shop with your best friends and family, no matter how far away they may be, laugh, play games, and have fun, all from the comfort of your couch. Gone are the days of cleaning up from hosting sale parties (though we love these, too, and are available for them); now you can host an online Facebook Party!

Earn perks without leaving the comfort of your own home!

  • Receive a FREE GIFT just for hosting a $100 party!
  • Receive 10% of total net sales in the form of a gift certificate!
  • You’re online anyway…chat with friends, share your loves, and earn!

To host a Facebook party, please contact us with suggested dates and times. Once we’ve decided on the perfect time and date, we’ll ask you to friend our personal Facebook account. We’ll create a Facebook event for you to share with all of your friends (they will need to friend our personal account, too).

During the time of the event, we’ll go live online where we will share information about our products, answer questions, and play a few games for prizes. We will share a unique code specific for your party to use at check-out, and all orders made (using the code) within the 24 hours following your party will count towards your total net earnings.  Once the 24 hours have been completed, we will notify you of your total net earnings and offer you a gift certificate valued at your net earnings.

Share the love. Spare the mess.

  FACEBOOKPARTY!

Extending the Life of Handmade Soap

Handmade soap is an investment in quality, purity, and individuality. When you purchase a bar of handmade soap, you’re making a statement. You’re saying that you care about the ingredients that are going on your body,  you understand and respect craftsmanship, you understand the value of quality, and you’re detail-oriented.

Like every investment, you want to ensure you’re taking the same care of the workmanship in use as was used in creation. Think of a bar of handmade soap in the same way you would a gown or suit. You wouldn’t wear that suit or gown to go running, or while tending your garden; you should view handmade soap in the same perspective of care.

The good news is that caring for a bar of handmade soap is much more low maintenance than caring for a gown or suit. Just follow this one rule, and you’ll be surprised how long your soap will last:

Keep your soap out of standing water.
Most showers have soap-holders already built in, which is convenient, but not ideal. These soap-holders often do not have drains, and the soap sits in water; the continued exposure to moisture will make the soap mushy, and diminish its life-span.

If you’re stuck with a non-draining soap-holder, here are some things you can do:

Stainless Steel Suction Soap Dish
  1. We offer 100% Wooden Soap Dishes to help keep the moisture (when not in use) as far away from your soap as possible. Crafted to have full ventilation, you won’t need to worry about your soap getting the proper air-flow to stay strong and last as long as possible.
  2. Our second favorite recommendation is the Stainless Steel Suction Soap Dish.  There are many options for soap dishes on the market, but we highly recommend this one because it keeps the soap drained, and because it’s made of stainless steel, you don’t have to worry about the growth of mold and mildew (like with wooden dishes). Plus, it has a very strong suction, so even if you’re working with limited space, you can pop this right on your shower wall.

    Aquasentials Exfoliating Mesh Soap Saver Pouch (4pk)(Color Assorted)
    Soap Saver Pouch
  3. If you’re looking for a lather boost, we recommend the Soap Saver Pouch. Because these pouches hang, the pouches protect the soap from over-exposure to moisture by draining out any excess water. Also, the pouch can be used directly on your skin to create a fluffy later and extra exfoliation.

As long as your soap is only wet while you’re washing, you’re taking care to preserve all the skin-loving and nourishing properties of handmade soap!

Love Yourself Unconditionally

Let’s be honest about our society. We live in a world that vilifies self-love and cherishes humility. This stems back to the times of Ancient Greece where, above all, the lessons from the gods were to avoid hubris (excessive pride). We’re never thin enough, smart enough, rich enough; we’re in a constant state of apologizing, sugar-coating, and over-thinking. We’re labeled as hypersensitive when we express our wants and needs. We’re selfish if we need to stop taking care of others and care for ourselves.

This thinking needs to stop. Now.

I’m not going to say that you’re perfect as you are, because you’re not. I’m not. No one is. We are human. We will always have aspects that we know we need to work on; this is the beauty of humanity. Our imperfections give us goals, purpose, a meaning to existence. Continue to work on yourself, but love who you are right here and right now

Maybe you’re not the person you once were. Maybe you’ve put on a few (ahem, or more than a few) pounds, maybe you haven’t advanced in your career, maybe you’re unhappy being single, or unhappy in your relationship. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But guess what? You are wiser, you are more experienced, you have made good choices. Maybe you’re even thinking, “well, I didn’t make good choices or I wouldn’t be…” False. You’ve made good choices because you’re sitting here, alive and reading, right now.

Stop punishing yourself for what should have or what could have been. You’re on your journey, and that journey is not meant to be easy. As Dr. Thomas Foster says, “Every trip [and life is a trip] is a quest, and every quest is about self-discovery.” You deserve that vacation, that raise, that luxurious item. You deserve to enhance every moment with delights. 

Stop the nonsensical thinking of “guilty pleasure.” Pleasures are not meant to create guilt. I’m not advocating complete hedonism, don’t run and quit your job this second, but you need to start understanding that you are your number one priority. Of course you have family, career, pets, and a million other responsibilities, but unless you are taking care of yourself, you cannot take care of anything else. Think of airline instructions – they always tell you to put your oxygen mask on before you assist others – you know why? Because if you don’t have oxygen, you will pass out, and not be helpful at all.

Give yourself time to breathe.

You need to start seeing the positive aspects of you. When you are confident in who and what you are, the world around you receives that positivity, and it becomes part of your aura.  Lynne Malcolm of ABC writes: “A growing body of research is showing that positivity has knock-on effects that can help humans flourish in all areas of life.” There are only gains to be made with appreciating who you are. Life, and it’s tumultuous rollercoaster, knocks us around enough, you don’t need to be a part of that deafening crowd.

So today, I challenge you to indulge yourself, and it can be just a little to start. Take a bubble bath, buy that luxurious cream, style up your home, catch a nap, read your novel, eat that piece of chocolate. Don’t let today become the yesterday you’ll never be able to change. Let today be the day you surround yourself in moments of joy. Let today be the day you begin to understand that this is your beautiful life, and you deserve to live it, just as you are.

Love Yourself Unconditionally.
Carpe Diem.

What does Cruelty-Free really mean?

**WARNING – GRAPHIC IMAGES IN THIS POST**

Today we received our official certificate from the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) stating we’re part of the Leaping Bunny cruelty-free program.

2016-03-07 14.40.26-1

**WARNING – GRAPHIC IMAGES IN THIS POST**

What does it really mean to be cruelty-free? A company that is truly cruelty-free has verified that its own practices of testing never involves animals, but ALSO it means none of the ingredients from their suppliers/distributors were ever tested on animals, either.

You may be surprised to learn about the animals used for testing.

Picture    Picture    

*Photo credits are linked to each picture.

Animal testing, especially in the cosmetics industry, is not only inhumane, it’s completely unnecessary. As stated on PETA’s website, animal testing does not translate to humans, and human testing is eventually necessary. The main difference is that human testing requires permission and a series of legalities that allow humans who opt-in the knowledge of possible outcomes. Animals are never given the choice. Animals cannot speak for themselves. Animals are DISCARDED after they’re “used up.”

There are still many countries which require animal testing for cosmetics, but the United States is not one of those countries. Companies who sell internationally may claim to be cruelty-free in the USA, and that may be true, but it’s important for the consumer to check and see if this applies internationally, which is why the Leaping Bunny program is so effective.

In the United States, there are two forms of verification for cruelty-free, PETA and Leaping Bunny; however, the PETA verification (which we also possess) is only for the company itself, Leaping Bunny (which is recognized internationally) also verifies all ingredients are cruelty-free. The quickest verification is to check for true logos, but also note that many companies can be listed as cruelty-free WITHOUT the logo. For example, we are currently licensing the PETA logo, but we have not yet purchased the Leaping Bunny logo.

So how can you find out if your cosmetics company is truly cruelty-free? As mentioned above, you cannot always rely on looking for the logos, so the most proactive action you can take is to search the company online.

Search Leaping Bunny: http://leapingbunny.org/guide/brands

Search PETA: http://features.peta.org/cruelty-free-company-search/index.aspx

I hope you will consider the ethics behind your cosmetics and make more informed choices for the future.

Do Good Tomorrow

Doing good and being conscientious about the world around you can be very intimidating. We all want to make our planet a better place, but sometimes time and funds get in the way of our charitable hearts. If you find yourself stuck, here’s a list of a few ways you could do good tomorrow.

  1. Smile at strangers! Seems simple, and maybe strange (depending upon what geographical region you’re from), but something as simple as a smile has been known to change the way people view the rest of their day (and maybe even save their lives).
  2. Recycle your plastics, glass, and paper. It’s very easy to just throw things in the trash, but tomorrow, be aware of recycling, even if you have to carry that bottle an extra block or two until you find a recycling receptacle.
  3. The next item you purchase, make it from a company who donates a portion of their proceeds. You can find joy in your new item, and joy that you’re doing good in such an easy way!
  4. Post a joyful, personal message to a friend on social media. A little personal touch makes a great deal of meaning in a world lost by mass messages.
  5. Write a positive review for a small business. Small businesses are usually personal, run by people just like you, and a positive review about something you loved (a product or customer service), can make a huge difference in how they run their business.
  6. Pack up your unused clothes and/or food and call a local charity to come pick it up. Takes a little more work, but it’s really easy! You can even schedule for some charities, such as the Vietnam War Veterans of America, to pick up right online.
  7. Give your spare change from your coffee purchase as a tip to your barista!
  8. Thank one of your co-workers or supervisors for something they did that either went unnoticed, or deserving of a little extra praise. Be grateful!
  9. Reuse your plastic bags. We get bags from all of our shopping (especially grocery shopping), reuse them as small trash bags, for packaging protection, or to bring your lunch in to work.
  10. Don’t forget yourself! Unplug yourself for an hour and just watch some TV, light a candle and read a fantastic book, or take a warm bath. You deserve to love yourself, too!

A series of small steps creates a huge leap; what are some ideas you have for making the world a little better?