Sunday, March 23, 2014

Parasympathetic Nervous System

The nervous system is more than one thing, but the one people usually mean is the autonomic nervous system.  It regulates things we don't have to think about: heartbeat, breath, blinking.  There are two sides though: the sympathetic (sun, active, cortisol, fight/flight/freeze) and parasympathetic (moon, passive, healing, digestion).  They can't operate at the same time, and chronic stress usually means we fall into way too much sympathetic side.

We need to build parasympathetic tone to be in harmonious relationships (as parents, spouses, friends, professionals), to lose weight or heal our bodies etc.  It's something that you can actually accumulate rather than creating in the moment.  People build it through exercise, meditation, aromatherapy/essential oils, qigong, yoga, journaling, good talks with friends/family, EFT, emWave machines etc.

Kim John Payne/Simplicity Parenting, Todd Sarner/Transformative Parenting, Laura Markham/Aha Parenting, Lissa Rankin/Mind over Medicine and countless others advocate for access to this potential, this tone.  In Simplicity Parenting (or Soul of Discipline), we see it come out in the Compassionate Response Meditation as a preparation for dealing with disoriented kids and their soul fevers.  In Transformative Parenting, it's talked about in breathing exercises a bit when we look at Regulation.  We parents (or just people, goodness) need these centering practices.

(Image from

I built a little pinterest board (called Parasympathetique) a while ago with children in mind as much or more than us.  I know they too struggle to calm down those stress hormones with so much of their world just overwhelming them.  Simplicity and strong parent security are a huge answer to this, but there are other things we bring in to support them here.  Some of the things on this board we use/have (as activities or part of our healing basket), and other things are ideas we found but haven't tried/accessed.  Any recommendations for other things we can put on that board?

Right now, we're working with a small, doable change for our girls in our bedtime rhythm since they tend to get up a lot.  For a while, just staying with them longer for reading and snuggling helped--working on the attachment side, more bridging etc.  Now we're trying something else.  We have some relaxing, meditative stories and music in little boomboxes in their rooms to play after we leave them, and we want to check in with it in a few more days' time.  The first night was still "bad" for E but good for Z, and the second night was good for both of them.

Appreciated Films

We avoid TV/movies almost always.  It's certain that if you count up screen time at school and the visits to family's homes, you'd see quite a large number of hours.  This sort of thing can sneak up on us in particular so our basic rule is none.

But sometimes we have family movie night somewhere in the span of a weekend.  We've been going through recommendations of other families and things we saw this summer during the dollar visits they offer to families.  Yet those are very technologically sophisticated--overly stimulating in most cases.  So I was thinking about classics a bit or even newer films that have an artistic edge that makes them particularly winsome.

Here are some of our favorites.

The Labyrinth

Z has even written and illustrated a story about this one, setting herself and E in it.  They love the soundtrack!  I think they might be a bit obsessed with David Bowie.  (Well, who isn't?)

The Neverending Story

This one is a bit up and down with excitement and emotions--we don't watch it often.  It's lots of precious imagination though--and the power of our own intentions.  That's something I'd love for the girls to hold in the deeper recesses of their memories.

Pippi Longstocking

Don't you remember wishing we could live like Pippi or even be her friend?  Eric finds the overdub delays a little annoying, but the girls and I aren't phased by it.  Again: it's what can be sparked in the imagination.  A tree that houses lemonade.  Money that isn't a worry at all.  Disturbing a fancy tea party but enough patience from adults to not ruin life.


This is captivating to our girls, but I find myself very engulfed in the beauty and scope of this Japanimation.  It's simply awesome.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


I realize "student-ing" isn't a verb, but that's what I'm excited about these days.

Here and there, I end up referencing Kim John Payne's work through Simplicity Parenting (and the Soul of Discipline).  I've been pondering doing their distance training program to become a coach/group leader and decided to take the plunge this Spring.  We had one session as an orientation, and it was so lovely.  I'm really thrilled to work through not only the facilitating aspects of this work but selfishly a deeper expression (main reason) of these principles in our own home.  We start "regular" sessions/work The first Saturday in March which carry us to the beginning of May (with an Easter break in there).  The assignments are all things that are appealing--it's so nice to WANT to do "work."

The lesser but no doubt majorly important course I'm working through is Todd Sarner's Transformative Parenting Online Course.  He offered some freebie webinars which were fantastic.  (I mentioned him a blog or two back in conjunction with Gordon Neufeld's book.)  I say "lesser" in that it's not any sort of certification program, and assignments are more like listening to the webinars and journaling if we choose to (alongside trying things out).  The heart of this work is attachment: where it is, how strong, how nourishing etc.  It's also thrilling.  The nice thing is that the modules will up for many months after the course is finished so that if I find time lacking, there are no deadlines there.

I probably won't be reading too many "other" books this Spring. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014


The best introduction, as far as I can see to Ayurveda is Eat-Taste-Heal.  It was recommended by a certified and well-trained Ayurvedic practitioner (Atlanta), and I can attest that it's accessible to a Western mind/understanding.  The other introduction I've been working through is Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing: A Practical Guide.  While I'm not complaining about that one, I can see how Eat-Taste-Heal makes it simpler for a novice to feel out the Ayurvedic system and start to understand parts.  There are also lots of recipes in Part II.

When I'm ready to look at more in-depth explorations and more variety in recipes, I'm going after Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution.  Also, Ayurveda: A Life of Balance and Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners.  We'll see if my interest truly keeps me digging.  I bought those books with some Christmas money so I'm excited to learn more.  I want to be careful to be genuine though and not just pursue this knowledge carelessly.

There's so much I usually want to learn, but once you purchase books sometimes there's a sense of obligation or guilt.  My general motivation is in line with wanting all areas of health to flow and be joined.  Meditation has brought some of that to bear, and working with a naturopath is extremely healthy in facing up to the roll lifestyle has.

The practitioner I met isn't that far away so I might consult with her at some point.  She's a jewel of a resource to be so close since her training is a direct line back to Maharishi.  I know there are many sources of learning, but I particularly appreciate him and his heart for the West and willingness to share.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


It's very timely that this last weekend (otherwise known as Candlemas) was my TM Residence Course--it's like a vacation/retreat really.  But as people clean out/declutter after Advent and put on fresh linens for Candlemas, it's neat that we had a chance to de-stress even more.

I'm not sure that I've ever talked about TM (Transcendental Meditation) here on my blog, but I've had the privilege to practice it for about 11 months now.  It has changed so many things and facilitated some new perspective.  While I don't want to sound cheesy or like I'm selling something, this stuff really has changed my life.

Stress has always been a trouble spot for me, and it even came to play in my health.  My main reason for learning TM was wanting to manage/get rid of it.  So far, that's definitely a part of it.  It's a huge, wonderful gift that way.  I don't have so many knee-jerk reactions (even in what I eat).  Things at work don't get to me the way they did.  I'm a far more patient and discerning mom.  These changes are terribly exciting especially since I haven't even done this a full year yet.

My teacher, Mark Cohen, or any TM teacher can give a much richer presentation than I can in the sense of what is happening mentally and biochemically in the body and how even the mechanics of TM relates to quantum physics.  It really does all come together.  Dr. Oz recommends it for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.  He had his entire staff trained.  (Oprah did too.)  Veterans with PTSD are finding new life with this technique.  Kids who faced failure and fights are learning to manage themselves and finding success at school.  Here's a video that, to me, touches on the powerful tool that TM is.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hold on to Your Kids and Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

Hold on to Your Kids was fantastic.  I was concerned at first since much of the book scared me decently.  There is a lot here about the nature and effects of peer-orientation in children, but it's worth that process since many koans of wisdom are throughout even those parts.  There are practical steps towards reorienting attachment and keeping our kids close in a healthy way.  It was a great overview sort of perspective in terms of why we do what we do in our interactions with our kids.  
I first heard of Gordon Neufeld because of a youtube that had some of a talk he gave about how children need rest and how unconditional love is what they rest in.  I found it to be right on.

Then I found out that Todd Sarner of Transformative Parenting interned with him and that he aligns much of his own thinking and strategies with Neufeld.  He has a free video series/class on the website and then another free one that's a limited time course (the Parenting Pathway).  Both have been wonderful. (I found out about Todd since he helped produce Kim John Payne's Soul of Discipline courses.)

Here's the gem I'm reading now. :)  At the beginning it seems a little redundant to me in that I realize that I have to be calm to help them be calm and that I need to work through my own issues and frustrations so that I can be present and the adult in the interaction.  But she really does knock my socks off sometimes in the book.  There are also practical ideas in this book to build an even stronger relationship with the girls.  So far, this one has been great too.  I already keep up with Dr. Markham's site--she offers a newsletter.  I also like how her site breaks things down by ages.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Staying Healthy with the Seasons

Elson Haas is a medical doctor who uses both Eastern and Western medicine to treat patients, and he has a section for each season (five seasons in Traditional Chinese Medicine) in Staying Healthy with the Seasons.  I read the Winter section--it's comprehensive!  I decided rather than reading the book all at once that I'd prefer to read it seasonally.

I also have this large Staying Healthy with Nutrition which I use more as a reference than anything else.