Tag Archives: Renewal

5 Intents to Help You Rejuvenate Your Finances this Spring


First blossoms of Spring, the season of renewal and rebirth

Earlier this week the vernal equinox heralded in the much anticipated Spring season with the cold, short and dreary days of winter eventually giving way to longer, warmer and sunnier days. The arrival of Spring signifies a time of rebirth, renewal and rejuvenation – a time for new beginnings, new possibilities and new hope since that which lay dormant in the winter is now able to blossom and flourish. In fact, in my Persian heritage, the arrival of Spring marks the beginning of the Persian New Year (Norooz, literally “New Day”) which we honor, as we have for thousands of years, as a season for renewal, both within ourselves as individuals as well as in nature and the world all around us.

This spirit of renewal can be applied to anything in our lives and given my role/expertise in helping my clients learn about money and personal financial matters, the message which I’d like to share with those who wish to rejuvenate their finances is that there’s no better time to get started than during this beautiful season of renewal. Of course, there is no cookie cutter formula since everyone has different aptitudes, life circumstances, goals, etc. Also, the  process of becoming more financially literate and empowered does not happen overnight. It is a habit, which if adopted consistently over time, can become a valuable asset to one’s life with far-reaching ramifications.

For those of you who have a desire to take control of your financial health but don’t know exactly where to start, the first step is to begin with a commitment toward adopting a new mindset and an openness to a new way of doing things. With consistent daily practice of keeping your hearts open and your minds ready to accept new and positive messaging, it will become easier for you to take the steps necessary to identify and work toward reaching your own unique financial goals. Focus on making small changes, but do so consistently to yield big results.

In celebration of the season of renewal, I’m dedicating my inaugural post on the Intent Blog to the community of individuals who seek financial empowerment. I’m honored to share with you a series of five intents which can be incorporated into your daily consciousness to help you create the proper mental and spiritual environment for improved financial wellness. Whether you choose to focus on a single intent or all five, make sure to connect with the chosen intent(s) on a consistent basis (ideally daily) since the application of a consistent effort is the key to success in anything that we do in life.

  • Intent #1:  I acknowledge that my financial wellness is a vital component of my overall wellness (which includes the wellness of my mind, body and spirit).
  • intent #2: With improved financial health I will be better able to be a force of positive change in the world.
  • Intent #3: By being mindful of my finances today, I will ensure a better future for myself and for my loved ones.
  • Intent #4: My finances are aligned with my beliefs and attitudes. My finances reflect who I am (and who I want to be).
  • Intent #5: I have the power to change my habits, thoughts and emotions about money. I will replace past mistakes and bad habits with positive inspirations and healthy habits each day.

As I stated before, there is no cookie cutter formula. There are as many unique ways to incorporate these intents into your life as there are unique individuals so feel free to find a method that works best for you. Based on my experience with my clients, I find that the individuals who are best able to harness the power of these intents are those who write them down, either in a journal or on index cards. As impactful as it is to fill your mind with positive thoughts, you’d be amazed by the power of writing your thoughts down on paper. Once you allow yourself to engage in some form of written self-expression, you’ll notice a tremedous release of creative energy from within. Whatever method you choose to follow as far as incorporating these intents in your life, make sure that it fits comfortably within your overall schedule and lifestyle. Start with baby steps and then expand as you need to over time.

I hope that these intents will be a useful first step in your journey toward financial empowerment and I look forward to sharing more posts with you in the future. If you have any comments, insights, etc., feel free to connect with me on this blog or via Facebook or Twitter.

Wishing you success,


President & Founder, Empowered Bookkeeping LLC

Transitions: Why is it So Tough to Get Through Them?

It is late September and hundreds of wide-eyed freshman girls, all dressed up and huddled in groups of 4 or 5, are lined up UCLA’s sorority row.  I take this road often and each fall I am reminded of when I was among those girls once. Nervous and excited, I found myself among thousands of people on a vast campus and I spent most of the first quarter figuring out what I was going to make of myself in this new place.

But last week, when I was driving past the sorority houses and the crowds, I asked myself, “How did time go by?”  How can it be that I can still feel so close to that person I was then and yet have a child that is literally the age of the girls that I see before me?”

It feels as if change—or life for that matter— sweeps over us whether we are prepared or not. Research indicates that every 7 years we go through some type of transformation. Moving out, getting a new job and marriage are big markers in our life.  At around age 30 we go through another major upheaval where we reassess our commitments.  Of course everyone has heard of the infamous mid-life crisis and its seismic changes. However the big misconception is that once we get over the mid-life years, our lives become an unbroken plain of constancy.  This is not so.

Transitions are simply the way in which our life unfolds, where we go through a series of expansions and contractions.  So if changes and transitions take place at every juncture of our lives, why is it so difficult to accept it?

Change, in its essence, initiates a process of saying goodbye to a part of our lives. And that process triggers a host of responses, some good, and some that will delay or inhibit our growth.

It's useful to ask ourselves, "What were our experiences in endings before?" How we dealt with childhood transitions and changes may give us insight into how we deal with transitions today. When something in our life comes to an end,  old coping mechanisms  automatically reactivate and we are dealing with some of our residue feelings and responses from an earlier experience.

For some, change is met with resistance, it triggers old patterns of fear of the unknown, confusion, and insecurity. If we don't allow ourselves to process these feelings while making transitions,  our unfinished business will reappear later on. And we all have had our share of feeling like we are spinning our wheels over and over again.

This explains why then, it isn’t a coincidence that we tend to resist the transition itself, which has to do more sense of self, than the external change.  In order for this transition process to take place, we are forced to give up our old pattern of living, mindsets, and ways we respond to ourselves and others.  We find ourselves in an unknown territory that in the well known, best-selling book by William Bridges, "Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes" calls "the neutral zone."  

The neutral zone is a place to be embraced and worked through because its a time of emptiness,  inactivity, or restlessness. It is an important stage not to be skipped over because it prepares the ground for new growth and activities—a renewed source of energy and identity.  It is a place where we learn to see ourselves with new eyes, and become inspired to dream new dreams.

This can be the scariest place  for those who don’t deal with transitions easily for it is a place of risk and opportunity.  It changes relationships, it challenges the status quo, and leads you to uncharted territory. Our first instinct is to make this distress more comfortable for ourselves.  We may revert back to the safety of the way things used to be, or jump into some kind of project, activity or relationship to avoid this awkward in-between stage. But the famous saying is “You have to be lost enough to find yourself.”  And as much as we wished we could whizz through this awkward in-between period, we can’t. This period may take weeks or months or even years.

A Rabbi once said one of the wisest words to my son on the day of his Bar Mitzvah, which marks a child’s entry into adulthood.  He put a hand on his shoulder and looked in his eye and said, “Remember, my young man, life is about beginning. Yes beginnings. You will have many beginnings such as this in your life.” (To tell you the truth, I thought I needed to hear that message more than him!)

Yes, beginnings too are markers in our journey. It’s important to become aware of the ways in which we personally begin new stages in our lives —is it through relationships, new projects, or does a new attitude first emerge? For some there may be a flash of an “idea” or an “inspiration” or an “image” that tickles us or calls us from a deep place inside.

What works against us is that we often buy into the idea that we should keep the same dreams and aspirations that we had when we were younger. The natural developmental pattern is not for people to keep the same dreams but to relinquish old dreams and generate new ones throughout their lives. Many of us do not come into our own by the time we are well into our 40’s or 50’s. Consider Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Walt Whitman — there is a long list of names of famous people who began anew in the midst of adult life transition. So why not us?

I was once asked in an interview, if I had to start over, what would I do differently. I have started over many times; I went from teaching at the university to facilitating women’s groups, and then becoming a writer and speaker.  What would I do differently?  My answer was not about a change in activity but a change in attitude. I would have been kinder and more patient with myself. I would have given myself more completely to whatever I did, even if they were false starts. I have come to realize that the degree to which we give ourselves away to people, to life and its ensuing changes, the more fully we embrace our own unique journey.

Tearing Down to Rebuild: Rethinking Complaining

When we complain we are tearing down an undesirable structure in order to make room for something new.

We all know someone who has elevated the process of complaining to a high art. Sometimes funny, sometimes exhausting, these people have the ability to find a problem just about anywhere. In its more evolved form, complaining is simply the ability to see what’s not working, in one’s own life or in the external world, and it can be quite useful if followed to its natural conclusion—finding a solution and applying it. However, many of us don’t get that far, and we find that complaining has become an end in itself. In small doses, this is not a big problem, but if complaining has become a huge part of our identities, it may be time to take a good look at how we are spending our energy.

Complaining is a person’s way of acknowledging that they are not happy with the way things are. In a metaphorical way, when we complain or criticize, we are tearing down an undesirable structure in order to make room for something new. But if all we do is tear down, never bothering to summon the creative energy required to create something new, we are not fulfilling the process. In fact, we are at risk for becoming a stagnant and destructive force in our own lives and in the lives of the people we love. Another issue with complaining is that we sometimes tend to focus on other people, whom we can’t change, as a way of deflecting attention from the one person we can change—ourselves. So transforming complaining into something useful is a twofold process that begins with turning our critical eye to look at things we can actually do something about, and then taking positive action.

When we find ourselves complaining, the last thing we need to do is get down on ourselves. Instead, we can begin by noticing that we are in the mode of wanting to make some changes. But rather than lashing out at somebody or an organization, we can look for an appropriate place to channel this energy—not our neighbor’s house, but possibly parts of our own. Finally, we can ask ourselves the positive question of what we would like to create in the place of whatever it is we want to tear down. When we do this, we channel a negative habit into a creative process, thus using our energy to change the world around us in a positive way.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / bonguri

Inner Sunrise: A Brand-New Day

We don’t need to wait until tomorrow to start fresh, today can be a blank slate starting right now.

When today is not going well, it is tempting to focus on tomorrow as a blank slate with all the possibilities that newness provides. It is true that tomorrow will be a brand-new day, but we do not have to wait until tomorrow to start fresh. We can start fresh at any moment, clearing our energy field of any negativity that has accumulated, and call this very moment the beginning of our brand-new day.

There is something about the sunrise and the first few hours of the morning that make us feel cleansed and rejuvenated, ready to move forward enthusiastically. As the day wears on, we lose some of this dynamic energy and the inspiration it provides. This may be why we look forward to tomorrow as providing the possibility of renewal. Many traditions consider the light of the rising sun to be particularly divine in its origins; this is why so many people in the world face east when performing ritual. We too can cultivate that rising sun energy inside ourselves, carrying it with us to light our way through any time of day or night, drawing on its power to awaken and renew our spirits.

One simple way to do this is to carry an image or a photograph of the rising sun with us in our wallet or purse. We can also post this image on our wall at work or at home, or have it as our screensaver on our computer. When we feel the need to start fresh, we can take a moment to gaze at the image, allowing its light to enter into our hearts. As we do this, we might say out loud or quietly to ourselves, I am ready to let go of the past and start anew. We might visualize anything we want to release leaving us as we exhale, and as we inhale, we can take in the fresh energy of the eastern sun, allowing it to light the way to a brand-new day.


Easter and the Environment


Symbolically and literally Easter is an opportunity to advance our sustainable efforts. Easter symbolizes a time of renewal. From an environmental perspective this is precisely what is required to begin the serious work of mandating change and being better environmental stewards. To continue reading go to THE GREEN MARKET.

Positive Change to Make 2010 a Year of Renewal

I look to the beginning of the year as an opportunity to start fresh, renew, with changes that I want to bring into my life. But first, I have to be clear on what it is that I want or what areas of my life I want to renew. Many years ago, I used to think that change was a negative concept, that it meant chaos or even loss of something. Over the years, I have found, though, that change can be about creating more joy, balance or fulfillment –increasing the good. This kind of change also is more likely to create something more enduring.

The other thing about change is that I used to approach it with what I didn’t want more of in my life. Change meant "ditch this, move on."  Or another, "I’m not happy with the way my clothes are fitting. I need to lose some weight."  I used to be a human yo-yo. I completely overlooked change as the agent of  "I really love this. What can I do to create more of this in  my life? What is it that does work for me?" This shift in perspective was significant. For instance, if I want to have more energy and feel good physically, the change for me would be working out more regularly and eating foods that make me feel more vital — fresh, whole foods instead of processed, refined ones and drinking more water. A nice side effect of making this kind of change, in addition to more energy and and health, is my clothes end up fitting better.

The focus is on increasing or adding something that is good for me, not on, here’s the word — loss

Once you figure out what you want to manifest in your life, what next? The answer shouldn’t surprise — goals. Setting a goal is like creating a road map to get where you want to go. Without them, things can fall apart pretty easily. The tricky thing with goals is they have to be realistic. You can be your own saboteur in the success of a goal if it is not realistic for you. For instance, a sabotage that I used to do was giving myself a timeline that was just not workable in the attainment of the goal. I would get enthusiastic and think that I could accomplish it in much less time than was possible for me. Then when I didn’t make the goal within that time frame, I would think that I failed and sometimes even give up on it. I would occasionally even top it with the cherry of being hard on myself for failing. Small steps work.  They really, really do.

Okay, you’ve set a realistic goal. The next step is in the time management of adding something new into your life — prioritization:

1) Write down a list of ideas of things you can do to attain that goal.

2) Brake this list down into pieces — manageable steps.

3) Figure out what small step(s) you can take tomorrow or this week toward your goal, the next week, the week       after, and so on.

4) Prioritize it into your schedule, giving it as much importance on your list as your other priorities.

If you find that you are shoving it to the side on a regular basis, it is not being given priority on your list. If you miss a day or even a few days, dust yourself off and pick it up again. Even laughter and fun are important priorities in a balanced, fulfilling life!

Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, coach and author of the award winning book, Becoming What You Want to see in the World.  For more information: www.maryclaireoneal.com

PHOTO: Flickr / jspad

Back at intent.com

A couple of months back I found myself struggling with the transformation at intent.com.  The fundamental challenge for me at the time was that every blog and intent I’d entered disappeared.  Fortunately, I also blog at other sites (carmien.com being one) and still had a record of my entries.  However, suffice to say I found myself a little disappointed at having made the effort only to find everything had gone.  At the same time I pegged it up to some technical issues behind the scenes and figured I’d simply step back until the Good Ship Intent had righted herself in the stormy seas of Technoreality.

I’ve been continuing to blog elsewhere however.  I managed to come up withmy shortest ever blog at carmien.com earlier today.  All I wrote was:

Transformation of others may be the only fantasy that when reached, remains.

Enough said… 🙂

Finding Sanctuary in the Family Home

Your home should be your sanctuary. It should be a place of rest and renewal; a source of safety and comfort; the seat of your creativity.

       Does this sound like the place where you live?
For parents especially, the home front can more often feel like a construction site, or a three-ring circus. Perhaps even a battle zone.
Finding spiritual enlightenment – or even a good night’s sleep – in the midst of blaring televisions and fighting children can be a challenge. Add in a couple broken appliances, a stack of unpaid bills and last year’s goal of painting the house and enlightenment gives way to exhaustion.
If this sounds like life at your address, don’t give up hope. Here are three great strategies to help you find some peace, prosperity and renewal in your very own home.
No house paint required, I promise.
1. Make Your House Your Family’s Home
This may sound a little nuts, but are you really sharing your home gracefully with its other occupants?
Or, do you secretly / subconsciously regard your spouse and children as long-term visitors, who are welcome to occupy the space allotted to them, provided they abide by your rules and always clean up after themselves?
Take some time to meditate on this. You may be carrying more negative energy than you think. I know that I can get all caught up in my frustrations over who always ends up picking up the soggy bath towels or wiping down the sticky residue on the kitchen counter. (That would be me, of course.)
I can be similarly distracted from my spiritual journey by the sounds of my children living their adolescent lifestyles: Loud video games, incoherent phone conversations (“uh hey uh what’s up?”) and stomping around the house like elephants.
Still, when I think about these children that I love more than life itself, I can acknowledge that I want them to find sanctuary in our family home, as much as I do myself.
Where do you want your wife, husband or child to find their place of rest and renewal?
I assume the answer is, “at home.” With you.
This might mean that a new perspective is called for. How do you want to approach and manage your household? How can you create a space where every member of the family lives happily at home?
The answer is different for every family.
I invite you to pray. Meditate. Write an affirmation and repeat it often. Maybe something like, “Every member of our family finds peace and comfort in our home. We share our space joyfully. Our home is our sanctuary.”
With an open heart and a little perseverance, you will come to know how you want to share your family space.
2. Bless Your Family Home
Take a deep breath, find some quiet moments and bless your house. You can do this mentally or physically… create your own ritual and have fun with it. Get the kids to join in, if possible.
The key here is to release negative energies, emotions and memories, then fill your living space with love and gratitude.
An easy way to bless your home:
Sit quietly, with your eyes closed. Pretend you are walking in the front door of your home. Say to yourself, “I bless my home with love. Thank You, for this wonderful space. My home is a healthy, safe and joyful haven for me and my family. Thank You.”
Mentally walk into each room in your house and as you enter, bless the space and give thanks. “I bless my kitchen with love. Thank You, for this room where our family shares healthy meals and loving conversation. Thank You.”
You get the idea. Bless your whole house, including the basement and garage. Fill yourself with gratitude for your home and fill your home with love.
You can perform the same blessings in person… simply stand at your front door and repeat the same words, walking from room to room.
Add rituals that feel meaningful to you. Open the windows in each room and gather fresh air and sunshine into your home.
Take a candle with you and light it as you bless each room. Throw your arms up over your head, smile and give thanks.
Kneel down and say a prayer.
Love your home.
3. Choose Your Corners
For the times when the stresses – and chaos – of everyday life continue to intrude, you need your very own little corner of the universe.
So do your children and your spouse.
Make sure everyone in the family has a special place that is all their own. It doesn’t have to be big… it could literally be a corner, a window seat or a closet.
Choose these spots wisely and let each family member place some personal mementos, comfy pillows and favorite books there.
Encourage your children to use their sanctuaries as a place of retreat and renewal; and make sure the entire family (Mom and Dad included) learns to respect the sanctity of another person’s space.
My special space is a small sun room at the back of our house. It is only about six by eight feet and it doesn’t even have a door. But it does have windows on three sides, a couple flowering plants and a small fountain. And when I am seated on my special cushion, with the fountain burbling and my meditation music playing, my children know to leave me be.
Most of the time.
If you haven’t already given yourself the gift of a private space, start right now: Go pick your corner, curl up with a good book (maybe a glass of wine) and tune out the world for awhile.
Blessings to you, your family and your home.
Related Posts:
For many of us, it’s not just the TV or video games that get in the way of serenity. Are you overwhelmed by clutter? Find some tips for clearing your space and clearing your mind in,
Recommended Reading:

 For a wealth of ideas on how to create the lifestyle you really want for your family, see Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify and Energize Your Life, Your Home and Your Planet by Norma Lehmeier-Hartie. There is something for everyone – and every home – in this wonderful, award-winning book

The joy on the other side of disillusionment


It can be utterly devastating when the way we see the world, or more to the point, the way we see our own life, hits an iceberg the way the Titanic did, and we suddenly realize things are not the way we thought they were.
Wikipedia describes the dark night of the soul this way: "A treatise written by Spanish poet and Roman Catholic mystic St. John of the Cross. It has become an expression used to describe a phase in a person’s spiritual life, a metaphor for a certain loneliness and desolation. It is referenced by spiritual traditions throughout the world."
Truth is on the move in this world whether anyone likes it or not. There is a very good chance that disillusionment, in one of its many forms, perhaps severe disillusionment, is in store for a great many people. 
There is good news however. As painful and devastating as disillusionment can be, if we stay steady, something will shift. The "dark night," as we may think of it, or as we may experience it, will change its nature and character. We will behold, as if by magic, a light shining in the midst of overpowering darkness.
It is the light that the British poet Richard Lovelace wrote about in his famous 17th century poem, “To Althea from Prison” –"Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage."
In our own distinctive, unique way, we begin to realize that no matter how dark or hopeless our situation may have seemed to be, there is something we can never lose — and it is the truth of our own being.
About three years ago, I was in the grip of a major clinical depression. It arrived suddenly and unexpectedly, and with complete abandon, quickly began to steal not only my energy but the flesh from my bones — before long I resembled a scarecrow in motion.
It was a grueling nine-month ordeal, but as I look back upon it, I realize there was a pivotal moment when everything changed. I had gone for a walk in the neighborhood, trying to keep a little strength in my limbs, a spark of hope burning in my heart. I’ve always loved walking. It was distressing, to say the least, to realize how weak and wobbly I was.
I soon left the pleasant little cul-de-sac in which I live and passed our neighborhood mailbox station. A gray, windy day, as I recall. No one else around, no traffic. And then, as I passed the mailboxes, something truly terrifying occurred. 
I realized, in the blink of an eye, that the way I had seen my life — and in particular, my contribution into life — wasn’t quite accurate. Not at all. I had liked to think I knew the truth, for example, and lived a rather fine spiritual life. Maybe I had to some extent. But all too much of my life, I realized in that terrifying instant, had been based in theory.
As I say, it was a devastating moment. But it was also the moment, I now realize, when I began to emerge out of depression and come home to stillness – true stillness, the timeless peace of my own eternal being.
It was like life stripped away the imitation so that the masterpiece could be seen more clearly.
Is this process of renewal or restoration finished? I doubt it. But I know this. The masterpiece of my true being is quite unharmed and untroubled by any of the antics and adventures, the failures and achievements of my human life – and yours is too.

The Ayurvedic magic and mystery of cleansing and revitalizing.

The body will heal itself.

Our bodies heal themselves. They knit themselves back together when cut, they process, digest, detoxify and remove built-up material daily. But we do have to give our bodies the proper environment in which to heal and stay balanced. Sometimes that requires some extra assistance, love and care.
When our metabolism is cranked to just the right level, we’re eating combinations of food we digest, our digestive system is working properly, we are eliminating as we should, we sleep well and are drinking fluids that support these processes, we can more easily maintain our balance. But even in the best of circumstances, when following the regimen of an Ayurvedic lifestyle, regular cleansing is vital.
The traditional teachings of Ayurveda, all emphasize the need for regular cleansing programs to reboot, restore and help cultivate the proper environment for self-healing. While an individually tailored program can be planned any time of the year, seasonal changes, when nature is already shifting, are particularly supportive for cleansing as this transitional energy fosters the body’s ability to let go.
Cleansing programs can be as varied as the individuals engaging in them, panchakarma is the name of the uniquely Ayurvedic take on the practice. The Sanskrit term panchkarma translates to mean five actions, but its apparent simplicity belies the fact that different five actions are identified in different texts, and the categories include a wide array of variations on a theme, just as any Yoga pose contains an infinite number of adjustments. Additionally, panchakarma includes the preparation, known as purvakarma in Sanskrit.
Preparation includes individually suggested dietary adjustments along with other practices such as regular warm oil massage and increasing internal oil intake to prepare the body to dislodge toxins and other materials. (See the following story on preparing for a cleanse.)
Many purvakarma practices, particularly the use of internal and external oil, also serve to calm the airy, windy, changeable vata dosha. The vata dosha is disturbed or vitiated from overstimulation and the effects of unending demands, overwork, sleep deprivation and excess stress. The emotions of disturbed vata include fear, anxiety, uncertainty, emptiness and ungroundedness. Even the maelstrom of our everyday lives can be a source of stress. There are moments of positive stress that motivate us and get us moving, but there are also times when stress is unrelenting. The depleting effect of constant stress can hinder the body’s ability to turn its attention inward and support repair, rebalance and healing.
The use of oil provides insulation and dampens outside noise. This is helpful for rebalancing the body, becoming centered and dealing with the continuous barrage of fear-based messages that we are being subject to at this moment in time. These messages continually disturb the vata dosha and the antidote is finding our own center. The soothing effect of oil helps return home to center.
After preparing properly to often and lubricate comes the cleansing practices themselves. Panchakarma involves still more oil (both for calming vata and facilitating the removal of toxins) as well as uniquely chosen combinations of purgation, nasya (herbal nasal drops) and herbalized steam to liquefy toxins, calm excess doshas (energetic forces) stimulate sweating, and otherwise assist in detoxification. Working with a guide is helpful to both administer treatments and hold the space for the body to release and renew. For this reason, choose a panchakarma therapist who will help you to feel safe and who is a good fit for you individually.
During a cleanse, it can be beneficial to take some type of break from everyday life. The time we take, and the money we may spend on services, is an investment in health. As we all evaluate our investments and habits, making the conscious choice to slow down, draw inward and spend time cultivating our health and well-being, has the potential to provide innumerable returns.
Unplugging ourselves from the cell phone, Facebook, Twitter and email in exchange for silence and a meditation practice support the rejuvenation of our nervous systems. Stepping with our bare feet on the Earth, walking in the morning dew, inhaling the nighttime air and spending extra time in contemplation can be a valuable support for the cleansing, rejuvenation and healing processes.
To support time away from the demands of daily life and provide an environment in which the body, mind and spirit can drop deeper within, many Ayurvedic practitioners and panchkarma therapists have created centers within, adjacent to and outside of cities to meet the needs of people in a variety of situations and circumstances for an hour, a day, a weekend, a week, or longer of snapshots of bliss or traditional cleansing programs.
Blue Sage Ayurveda operates Blue Sage Sanctuary, a secluded gem amidst twenty acres of pine-blanketed Sierra Nevada foothills. Founder, director and primary practitioner, Ragaia Belovarac, created a sacred space on the land that combines his love of organic, sustainable design with his immersion into the practices and principles of Ayurveda. It is aesthetic in every detail. The interactions with the environment set up the conditions of internal healing. At Blue Sage they include: springs of rosemary, use of Trihealth thailams (massage oils) and Floracopeia essential oils in the treatment, palm oil candles made at the sanctuary, the carefully stocked kitchen spice cabinet and strategically placed Adirondack chairs gazing out over a sunset or bubbling spring. 
When I drove onto the property, my personal gate code ensured seclusion and time free from chance encounters. When I left my car behind, to be on foot for the rest of my time, I was free from the constant motion that is another hallmark of our vata-driven lives. Belovarac knows there is a healing power to the pause.
Sanctuary guests stay in a private spa suite, without television, yet with a phone to reach the staff at any hour (and cell phone service, although I left mine on silent and tried to abstain). The view from the bedroom window gazes out over the hills, the only visitor a wandering midnight deer seeking sustenance from the pond.
Mornings begin with chanting and silent meditation watched over by Quan Yin, a sentinel of compassion, and a reminder that on any road to health, we must walk with kindness. In the sun- kissed consultation room, Belovarac sets the program for the day, based on reading the tongue, the pulse and the myriad of other signs, signals and symptoms spoken by the body, interpreted by the practitioner. I’m used to examining my tongue daily; its coating or lack thereof provides information for my decision about what kind of tea I’ll make in the morning or what I’ll eat or not eat for breakfast.
The magic continues in the spa treatment room. Abhyanga is the Ayurvedic oil massage using warm, soothing, vegetable oil, the type chosen is based on what brings an individual into balance. For example, sunflower and almond are lubricating and neutral, coconut is heavy and cooling and sesame is warming and nurturing. Both the use of aromatic essential oils or herbal compounds cooked into the blend heighten or alter the effects of the base oil and intensify its medicinal properties. Abhyanga can be done on oneself, by a practitioner, or in a practice that takes the experience to new levels—in tandem—which is one of the signature treatments of Ayurvedic bodywork. With four hands, the mind cannot as easily follow any one movement, dropping the attention even further inward on healing.
Herbs, oils, mysterious potions and decoctions were dripped into my nose, left to simmer around my heart, rose up in aromatic steam, all with their own effect. After the briefest of stays, I had to leave to attend to deadlines, but left dreaming of days and days of transformational panchakarma. Health, after all, takes attention, and in Ayurveda, it is not enough to drop in once. We need to make it a priority to take time again and again to reduce the cumulative buildup of the detritus of everyday life that is just not released without some additional coaxing. This is why these practices that support the body’s ability to heal itself are an integral part of the Ayurvedic tradition.
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