Training Your Monkey Mind

Training Your Monkey Mind

Why meditate?… Why not?

If you were to ask any highly ‘successful’ individual what is part of their daily regime, meditation would rank one of, if not the highest. Sheryl Crow, Russell Simmons, Kobe Bryant, Deepak Chopra, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Jobs, Paul McCartney, Tony Robbins, Clint Eastwood, Katy Perry, Oprah, Elon Musk, the list goes on. All for the same similar reason of reducing stress, emotional health, stability, recovery days from high intensity, creating a positive outlook on life… the list continues [1].

The power of meditation has scientifically been proven as a unique tool to our human existence. Anyone can use this technique to create self-awareness, self-control, peace, calmness, moments of bliss eventually leading to the mastering of your own mind. There is a well-known story known as ’The Chariot’ written in the famous Upanishads scripture. “Know that the Self is the rider, and the body being the chariot; that the intellect is the charioteer, and the mind the reins” [2].  The idea is once Man has a hold of his reigns, he will have self-control of thoughts, however, when Man has no control, his sense is unmanageable like the restive horses of a charioteer.

The perspective of meditation comes in many forms, making it a personal choice on how to control your reigns.

The Benefits?

WARNING: This practice can and will…

  • Reduce stress
  • Control anxiety
  • Promote emotional health
  • Enhance self-awareness
  • Control pain
  • Improve sleep
  • Increase happiness
  • Decrease depression
  • Inspire creativity
  • Motivate movement
  • Welcome patience
  • Create compassion and positivity 
  • Make YOU a better being on this planet

Okay, so how about why not?

The benefits of meditation are talked about time and time again. Yet, many people don’t meditate regularly, if at all for that matter. Although adding meditation to your daily routine may seem like a chore, it truly does not need to be an activity that requires copious amounts of effort, time, materials and space. Keep it simple. Even meditating for short periods will bring benefits. Meditation will increase attention span and decrease memory loss.; it is a new way of thinking, unlocking the old patterns of poor attention, worry and mind wondering bringing in refreshed, compassionate, open-minded thinking. Meditation will help clear the clouds leaving room for only blue sky as your very own outlook.  

“How to” Meditate

Practicing meditation does not come in one typical position legs crossed, hands on thigh pose. Meditation can take form in many ways and places. The key is to place your attention fully on the task at hand. For example, washing the dishes, listening to music, running, yoga, painting, hiking- connecting to your breath and the present moment. Just as if you were sitting crossed legged down on a mat, thoughts will come and you’ll be taken into a new thought pattern unrelated to the task at hand. This is part of the meditation process, this is why it is called a practice. As you continually commit to focusing solely on 1 simple task the ‘mind chatter’ will dissipate leaving room for clarity. The key is to stay committed and find the type of meditation that works for you.

I have frequently heard from professionals- if you have zero time to meditate, you need to make time for meditation. 

What are my current ways and how can you start today?

I took a Yoga and Meditation course at Mount Royal University. One of our projects included meditation for 30 days and to keep a consistent journal documenting our experience. Before this, I had my own meditation routine off and on throughout the year’s age 19-22. I would attend meditation workshops through different yoga studios in Calgary. Meditation tied in closely with my passion for yoga. My most common form of meditation was in my own room. Placing my matt/cushion onto my bedroom floor, either sitting or lying down with a recording playing alongside. My meditation times ranged 10 minutes to 45 minutes. I made sure it was an undisturbed space placing a sticker on my door “meditating”- my family thought I was crazy, and never bothered me 🙂 

Before beginning your own practice, I always recommend coming from a place of learning and humbleness. I learned this personally as I am naturally very critical, as we all are! I became frustrated, annoyed, impatient, bored, defeated, creating fuel for the thought patterns I was working to breakdown. Especially in the beginning, it is a challenging practice but that’s because you are growing and changing through it. Nothing great comes easy! This takes time and time again of work- that’s the beauty. The simplicity but how truly difficult it is. Meditation is the ‘gym’ for your mind. It is a muscle you as an individual need to take responsibility for. We are the owner of our mental neighbourhood, it is a place we want to reside in. Creating our own reality amongst what society pushes upon us… think about how strong you can be! This is a practice everyone can do, you can do it anywhere with anyone. There are many meditation courses/ support groups available, including a selection of apps one can download, to name a few, Headspace, Calm, 10% Happier, Inscape and many more.

It is a step for yourself with the intention of improving quality of life- all you need are a few minutes a day. 

Try and see for yourself. You are the master of your own monkey.

Sara

References

[1] https://zenfulspirit.com/2017/03/02/22-successful-people-meditate/

[2] https://ocoy.org/dharma-for-christians/upanishads-for-awakening/the-katha-upanishad/the-chariot/

How to Combat Ticks Naturally.

Naturally Preventing Tick Bites

The warmth of spring undeniably brings happiness and excitement; it means you can finally go outside without a billion layers and, even more excitingly, summer adventures are finally in site. The warmth of spring, however, also wakes up some nasty friends to partake in the fun: ticks.  

Ticks typically like to hang out in tall grasses, shrubs and wooded areas. They commonly grab onto boots or pant legs and crawl their way up to warm blood sources. In general, having an insect burrow itself into your flesh for blood is not a pretty thought. A bite, however, isn’t even the worst part of it. Black-legged ticks, in particular, are carriers of a ruthless disease: Lyme Disease. This disease takes weeks up to years to recover from and can infect your central nervous system and cardiovascular system.

Thankfully, in Alberta, it is relatively uncommon to get bit by a black-legged tick.  The risk, however, certainly isn’t worth it. (Especially if you’re exploring southern BC) [1]

Regardless, I say it’s best to avoid tick bites in the first place. 

Image courtesy of Macleans

Image courtesy of CBH

Natural Methods to Prevent Ticks:

  • Tuck your shirt into your pants 
  • Walk on cleared paths or walkways
  • Wear high socks & consider pulling them over your pant legs
  • Wear closed-toe shoes
  • Use a natural repellent such as Geranium or Lavender oil. (Read More Below)

Thankfully, there are numerous ways to avoid getting bit by one (or some) of these blood suckers. That being said, they are sneaky and agile, so never forget to scan yourself (and your children or dog) after a day spent outside.

It is also a good idea to throw your clothes in a dryer and put it on high for at least 10 mins to kill any ticks that may be hiding in your clothes. Taking a shower or bath as soon as you can is also great help. 

(Thanks to the Government of Canada for confirming these useful prevention methods!)

Geranium Oil

Essential oils have been proven effective against preventing tick bites. This is a win in my books because above being natural and free of chemicals, essential oils boast loads of other health benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rosemary, geranium, lemongrass, cedar and peppermint are all effective choices. In my opinion, however, Geranium oil is the best pick. Why?

  1. Geranium oil is safe for both humans, including children over 6 months of age, as well as dogs. (Many essential oils are harmful to pets and children) [2a]
  2. It is gentle and safe for skin and clothing. [3]
  3. It has a soft scent and wont irritate others (except those pesky ticks ofcourse!) [4a]
  4. Geranium oil is easily available for purchase

Geranium Oil Application Methods.

Skin Ointment

Geranium oil is said to be gentle enough to apply directly to the skin. It is advised, however, to always use a carrier oil, especially if you have sensitive skin. [4b]

DIY Tick Repellent Ointment:

-> For adults, mix 12 drops of geranium oil with 2 tbsps of carrier oil 

-> Apply to exposed and target areas (neck, wrists, ankles, etc)

Carrier Oil Choices:

  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
*This ratio of oils is safe for adults. For use on children, consult your practitioner*

Body and Clothing Spray

Making a spray is handy to use as a repellent on clothes or on your body. 

DIY Tick Repellent Spray:

Ingredients:

  • 20 drops geranium oil
  • 4 oz water
  • 1/2 tbsp witch hazel (optional)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients. Shake before each use. 

*This ratio of oils is safe for adults. For use on children, consult your practitioner* 

 

On Your Dog:

First off, know that Gernium Oil is not safe to use on cats. It is, however, safe for use on dogs and be a very effective method to prevent bites and to avoid your dog bringing ticks back into your home [2b]. How should it be done?

  1. Put a couple of drops on their collar
  2.  Put a couple of drops of diluted oil between their shoulder blades and at the base of their tail. 
  3. Use a repellent spray (as explained previous) Make sure to avoid eyes and sensitive areas

(Some sources say it’s okay to apply undiluted oil directly, however, I stand by the notion that diluted is always safest and avoids irritation)

What if You Find a Tick?

If you do find a tick, it is suggested that, using tweezers, you pull the tick straight out as close to the head as possible.

Do not twist the tick out. [1b]

Do not “burn” the tick out. (Holding a lighter close to a tick is a myth. In fact, this could cause the tick to dig deeper, or even spread more toxins).  [5]

Resources

Mediterranean CousCous

Mediterranean CousCous

High in carbs, protein and Vitamin C, this tasty meal will keep you full and energized!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Cous Cous
  • 1/4 cup dehydrated Feta Cheese
  • 1/4 cup dehydrated or sundried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup dehydrated green bell peppers
  • 2 tbsps. dehydrated red onions
  • 1-2 tbsps dehydrated olives (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp greek seasoning

Directions:

  1. Dehydrate feta cheese, tomatoes, green peppers, onions and olives (see our Dehydrating 101 page for instructions)
  2. Combine all ingredients
  3. Add 1 1/4 cup hot water & let sit for 5-7 minutes
  4. Enjoy!  (And feel free to check out the nutritional info below)

Nutrition Facts

**These nutrition facts are an estimation and may vary. They are not confirmed by the FDA but are a useful tool to help you calculate your approximate nutritional intake in the backcountry**

  • Calories: 519 cal. 
  • Protein: 17g
  • Carbs: 87g
  • Fat: 9g
  • Sodium: 816mg  (35% daily recommendation)
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Vitamin A: 21%
  • Vitamin B12: 5%
  • Vitamin C: 92%
  • Potassium: 18%
  • Magnesium: 14%
  • Calcium: 13%
  • Iron: 12%
  • Zinc: 7%

Guide to Seed Starting Indoors

Guide to Starting Seeds Indoors

plantpots

Late Winter…

My old friend and nemesis. 

As we sit in the depths of these frosty Canadian months, I become more and more anxious to feel the sun on my bare skin again. To smell pollen and tree resins in the air… To watch the birds migrate back and watch the sun set at 9 pm… those were the days.

But instead of dreaming, I’m going to tune in for all the plant nerds out there and tell you guys to get started on some growing!

Our warm season is so short that often our edible plants barely hit their peak production before the frost creeps in, which is why starting plants indoors is a great way to maximize your harvest and also feel like a master botanist in your own home.

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Packing for Your Dog

Adventure Packing List for Your Dog

  • Food (and water!) Especially if your route does not have easily accessible water for your dog!
  • Food/water bowl (Light weight and collapsable are best!)
  • Extra smelly and yummy treats (in case you need to win over their attention!)
  • Leash (FYI: National parks REQUIRE all dogs to be on a leash – otherwise expect a hefty fine!)
  • Small quick drying towel. A towel can come in handy in so many different ways. Nothing worse than muddy paws jumping all over your tent! It’s also equally useful as a bed or for emergency situations with your pet!
  • Poop Bags
  • Doggie First Aid Kit (see suggested contents below!)
  • Favourite Small Toy (Not a necessity but definitely useful for a distraction when setting up and relaxing at camp!)
  • Winter Booties. A good idea even for the big dogs! Winter treks risk ice build up and tearing of their sensitive paw pads.

DIY DOGGIE FIRST AID KIT

  • Sterile Rubber Gloves
  • Round-ended scissors
  • Non-adhesive sterile pads
  • Tweezers
  • Gauze
  • Wraps
  • Cornstarch or styptic powder (helps stop bleeding)
  • More treats! This is most likely an uncomfortable and scary time for your furry friend! Rewarding them while you manage and assist their situation will help keep them comfortable and calm!
  • Benadryl. For bites and other allergies.  (My vet told me that the rule of thumb is 1mg:1lbs body weight but please advise with your vet for proper dosage for your dog!)
  • Buffered Aspirin. For pain and inflammation. (Over the counter/human aspirin is said to be okay for dogs but dosage amounts vary greatly and can be fatal if overdosed: again, advise with your vet for proper dosage!)
  • Syringe of 3% hydrogen peroxide: induces vomiting. (Meant for serious emergency situations ONLY – one last time; please advise with your vet for dosage and usage information!
  • Pocket Sized First-Aid book for dogs. Great resource for when you’re caught on the spot!
  • Medical Records (mostly for travel as some places require documentation for entry!)