3 Approaches for Emotional Detox

My favorite detox techniques — for the mind

In a recent blog post, I introduced you to some of my favorite detoxification techniques for the body.

I also pay careful attention to emotional detox. Over the years I have come to terms with anxiety and worry and generally unhealthy feelings. Rather than this being an academic interest, my coming to terms is because I was a born “worry wart,” to use my mother’s phrase, and it took some undoing to overcome this pattern of being.

3 approaches for emotional detox

While my path to freedom took many twists and turns, in the end three approaches worked for me:

  1. One was classical homeopathy, as prescribed by an expert classical homeopath — the doctor found the correct remedy and the anxiety was gone.
  2. Another is a series of Korean Qi Gong breathing and movement exercises which, after three days of one hour sessions each, always bring me a feeling of well-being for no reason. (By the way, I have learned that a feeling of well-being for no good reason is the soundest and most blessed of all feelings of well-being).
  3. The third technique concerns the recognition that “What we put our attention on grows stronger in our life.” Intellectually I know that if I put attention on what I don’t want (worry); I will attract more of it. My antidote is to make a clear list of what I do want, carry that list around, and give attention to those things, while setting aside — that is releasing — worries and concerns I do not want to amplify.

Techniques to quiet my turbulent mind

The mind is like a monkey that jumps from branch to branch — all wisdom-driven cultures hold quieting the mind as a pathway to internal peace. My mind is as much a monkey as the best of them, so I have come to incorporate many practices for purifying and calming the mind. Here are a few:

  • Meditation: I sit quietly, releasing thoughts and resistance for 15-20 minutes twice a day.
  • Breathing exercises: When stressed or worried, I try to remember to stop, sit back, and take a few deeps breaths. I have come to realize the mind can’t do two things at once, so if I am paying attention to my breathing, I cannot worry at the same time.
  • Being out in nature: Spending a bit of quiet time out in nature really helps to slow down and calm my mind. I try to do this daily — even if for only 10 minutes. I move my attention to the colors, forms, and beauty around me, and, when I remember, I make a silent list of gratitudes.

Finally, I do believe in the attention to spirit for both detox and quieting of the mind. We are spiritual beings with an occasional human existence, and frequently I deliberately detox worry, fear, and sadness with uplifting thoughts from the wisdom of the ages and from current teachers of Spirit. There are so many to choose from. I am sure you have your favorites — go back to them often.

 

The Tao of bone: is fear weakening our bones?

Tao of boneI recently had the privilege of attending a retreat given by a foremost Taoist master, Dr. Nan Lu, director of the Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation in New York City. Always intrigued by how ancient cultures look at bone health, I jumped right in asking questions.

According to the 5,000-year-old Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, the physical body is energized and informed by “rivers” of energy and information known as meridians. The meridians are named for the organs of the body. For example, there is a lung meridian, a heart meridian, a kidney meridian, and so on. These meridians refer to a particular field of energy and information that flows through the entire body, not just the named organ. A healthy, balanced flow of energy through the meridians is the key to good health.

Here are some highlights from my conversation with Dr. Lu

  • Meridian energy flow is disrupted most notably by emotional and mental distress.
  • Bone health is controlled by the energy and information of the kidney meridian.
  • Most of all, the emotion of fear disrupts the kidney meridian energy, and thus fear damages bone.

Dr. Lu’s answer to my question about what most affects bone was immediate and clear: fear. He explained that our culture is rather fear-based, and because of this we have a special challenge in building and maintaining bone health.

Later I’ll be writing more about traditional Chinese medical perspectives, but for now, and just for the fun of it, you might reflect on your “fear index.”  Do you have faith in your body’s ability to heal?  Do you believe things will turn out okay?  Do you believe things happen for a reason?

It seems the ancient Chinese agree with the Ancient Indian Vedic scholars in that“Nothing holds more power over the body than thoughts held in the mind.”

 

 

Beauty is bone deep

image.axdI was very pleased to be interviewed by Vogue magazine for a story in their January 2011 issue that related one woman’s experience with an osteopenia diagnosis. But when the issue came out, I was struck by the picture on the cover. It shows Natalie Portman, a 29-year-old actress, looking wisp-slender in a sexy, low-cut dress. The picture was advertising Vogue’s story about her latest film, Black Swan, in which she plays an emotionally disturbed ballerina. The photo reminded me of the many “thin and worried women” I see at the Center for Better Bones.

I use this phrase a lot when it comes to bone health, but what I really mean is thin and stressed — seriously stressed. These may be women who are prone to anxiety, worry, and other fear-based emotional states, but they’re also women who are stressed physiologically, either from too much physical exercise (from something as demanding as ballet) or from the less-than-ideal nutrition that many girls and women use to reach the wafer-thin look that’s expected of models in the pages of a magazine like Vogue.

Either one of these stresses, emotional or physical, can have a powerful impact on bone health, but put them together — as in the case of Natalie Portman’s character in Black Swan — and you have a woman whose bones, sooner or later, will suffer.
I don’t know how many emotionally disturbed ballerinas there are in the world, but there are a lot of girls and women who strive to be model-thin, and who grow anxious or despondent if they can’t reach that “beauty ideal” — an ideal of thinness that Vogue and other fashion magazines actively promote.  Some women are born with a fine-boned body type, and that’s OK — I’m certainly not suggesting that thin women can’t have healthy bones! But many women can only reach (and keep) that shape by greatly restricting what they eat and drink, by exercising very hard many hours each day, or by combining the two practices. None of this promotes optimal health. In fact, it can create a tremendous amount of emotional stress that our bones may pay for in the long-term.

I love that Vogue’s article is raising awareness of the need for women to maximize their bone health through natural means. But when I look at the women represented in its pages, I can’t help but think about future osteoporosis diagnoses. Such women could free themselves from a lot of emotional and physical distress simply by setting a goal of being healthy rather than thin. Because contrary to what popular wisdom tells us, the two aren’t the same thing.

If there’s anything I wish would come back into fashion, it’s the idea that beauty = health — or more to the point, that beauty is bone deep rather than skin deep!

For more information about how to achieve healthy bones naturally, take our Bone Health Profile.

 

Bone health pearls from Jerilynn C. Prior, M.D

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Jerilynn Prior, a renowned endocrinologist and bone health expert. Dr. Prior, professor at the University of British Columbia, is a noted physician, author, researcher, and one of the foremost scholars on bone and menstrual health.  Here are a few of her many interesting observations and research findings.

  • Hip bone loss begins earlier than we had expected, in both men and women. Large population-based Canadian studies in which she participated show that bone loss in the hip begins in the early 20’s for both women and men, while bone loss in the spine doesn’t begin until the mid 30’s.
  • Ovulatory disturbances — meaning that there was less progesterone produced than normal — commonly occur but go unrecognized because they are silent within regular menstrual cycles.
  • Women are silently losing bone if they experience more than the average proportion of ovulatory disturbances, despite normal estrogen levels and regular menstruation.
  • Women who learn to track their cycles and ovulation seem more likely to recover normal cycles and ovulation and even recover from infertility.
  • Of all the stressors that can affect bone health — poor nutrition, environmental challenges, and emotional disturbances — emotional stress is “the big driver” of ovulatory disturbances and bone loss. So feeling good about your life and the choices you’ve made is important for healthy bones.

Stay tuned, more complete selections from my interview with Dr. Prior will be posted on the Better Bones website soon! To assess your bone health, take our fracture risk assessment.