Finding Wellness in Nature

I’ve lived in cities, suburbs, rural areas, beach towns, you name it. Apartments, houses, hotels – I’ve been around. Whether you live in the urban jungle, the ‘burbs or out in the sticks, the advantages of nature are not always taken.

It’s hard, sometimes, to find more than a wisp of grass in the cracked concrete in any city. Even in the suburbs, finding an actual isolated piece of what the Earth used to be, or is supposed to be, can be hard. It’s hard to make time, however, even when your backyard is a wilderness.

But you need to make time. I know you have homework or real work and community activities and you need to make dinner and take care of the kids and find time to fix the sink. You know – the infinite list of to-do that doesn’t even end with your death.

It’s important to bask in the sunlight. To breathe in a clean wind. To feel calm mist tickle your cheeks. To feel the warmth of a meadowbed. Take it all in. It’s the gift from Creator or creation or The Big Bang. It doesn’t matter what you believe. It truly is a gift.

Along with the huge task list we are burdened with in today’s society – most seemingly meaningless, by the way – comes depression, anxiety, emotions that come with not being naturally equipped for the modern hustle and bustle. We need that natural connection to remember our roots as human beings, a part of the wheel of life. We need that natural connection to quell our fear of the trivial, to appreciate finer and more pressing matters.

Studies show that being one with nature can reduce stress and heal us physically, emotionally and spiritually.

“Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.

Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety.” (Source)

I know this is true. No matter where my mom hauled me to or where I visited, I always had an escape plan. (Add yours to the map!)

In Rochester, NY, off Flower City Park, there is a path that leads to a bridge. But if you go against your gut, you will find a natural area with a peaceful Stonehenge-like sitting area.

In Pine Point, Maine, you just need to follow King Street until you hit the marsh and the beach where, high or low, the tide will captivate you.

In Hi-Nella, NJ, behind Fox Ridge Apartments, there is a wood with a stream that leads through big concrete cyllinders through which you can travel to nearby developments, all the while catching frogs and enjoying the steady ripple of water over slightly graded bedding.

The hills of Orange County, NY, always provided a wonderous view for when the tension was too much.

The Earth has always been there for me, and it is for you, too.

Unsurprisingly, studies also show that too much time in front of computer screens or televisions or around anything unnatural can be the cause of depression in many. So, stop reading this and find a patch of meditative perfection that you can call yours.

If you’re more goal-oriented and can handle the wretched background, you should take a look at this list of 101 Nature-Oriented Things To Do to get you started.

Free Guided Meditation for Deep Sleep (40 mins.)

If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, you should download & try this meditation. I promise if my soothing words don’t help, Kevin MacLeod’s “Garden Music” in the background is sure to do the trick.

Due to limited space on SoundCloud, I will have 2-3 meditations available for download at a time. When I upload new ones, I will delete the old ones.

BONUS: Here is the script for this one, if you would like to try it with other music to suit your needs:

Guided Sleep Meditation

Before you begin, turn off any distracting electronics, turn the lights off and get into something loose-fitting. Lay on your back, supporting your neck with a comfortable amount of pillows. You can use a sleep mask to block out any remaining natural light.

Once you are comfortable, take slow, deep breaths.

Breathe in

Breathe out

Take a breath in

And another one out

Continue like this as you feel your body start to relax.

All those things you are worrying about can wait until tomorrow. You can’t do them now, so let them be. Just be alone with your breathing. In…and out. Quiet the thoughts with your breathing.

Now that you have cleared your head, start to feel each part of your body in its exact position. Start with your head. Is it in a comfortable position?
Let any tension you feel in your jaw drift away with your worries.

Do the same with your chest and abdomen. Breathe steady and drain the tension from those areas.

Feel your arms. Breathe in…breathe out.

Feel your hips. Breathe in…breathe out.

Feel your thighs and knees. Breathe in…breathe out.

Feel your calves and ankles. Breathe in…breathe out.

Feel your feet and each toe. Breathe in…breathe out. Cleanse the tension from your muscles.

Now, re-examine your body. Notice how deeply relaxed you feel now. Cuddle with that relaxation. Let yourself be completely in the present, embracing the calm.

You are light. You are floating. You are in the clouds. No, you ARE a cloud. Fluffy. Floating on. Careless. Let this take you where it will.

Your body is light, but your eyes are feeling heavy now. Let them get heavier. Let your body remain floating, but allow your eyes to lay heavy, keeping out the world around you, sealing you to your new sleep paradise.

You are safe. You have nothing on your to-do list. You are relaxed. You are almost asleep. Surrender to it. No thoughts, just peace.

You are sleeping. Floating. Dreaming.

The music and the sky are all that is in your mind. Let the music anchor you to this calmness as you sleep until morning. Deep…sleep.

How To Use Juice Pulp

As I mentioned in the first post in the juicing series, the answer to smart juicing is using the leftover pulp. There are tons of nutrients in the pulp, so it is good for you AND you aren’t wasting anything by tossing it in the trash.

The first thing I experimented with was facial scrubs and masks. I like to mix tomato pulp with honey because it helps with acne. My other favorite is aloe and cucumber pulp. For that one, I use a little of the cucumber juice, too. Carrot and honey works well for this purpose, too, but be careful not to stain your face orange 😛

One simple tip is when you are using your juice in smoothies, you can use the pulp to add some fiber and give your meal even more nutrients. Personally, I like carrot and citrus pulps for this purpose, but you can use any you’d like.

You can also boil different pulps to make soups or teas. Here is a carrot soup recipe I use from JustJuice.org:

 “ 5 cups Carrot Pulp

1 tablespoon Coconut Oil

1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Black Pepper

1/2 teaspoon Ground Coriander

3 cups Water

Blend all of the ingredients together and bring the soup to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer then serve.”

To make tea, you can boil any fruit pulp and add any spices you like. I like apple pulp with cinnamon or berry pulp with some Truvia. You can strain the tea if you don’t want your tea to have the added texture.

To customize breads and other baked goods, you can use pulp from carrots, apples, berries, sweet potatoes and more. I tweaked a recipe a bit by adding chia seeds and apple pulp, and it was soooooo good:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350. Grease a bread pan for later. I use olive oil spray, but I recently saw coconut spray at Aldi’s, so I am thinking I will switch to that in the future.
  2. In one bowl, mix 1 1/3 cups of flour, 1 egg, ¼ cup of milk, 1 ½ cups of pulp, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, ½ cup of sugar, and as much cinnamon, nutmeg and chia seeds that you want. Don’t mix it too much – just until it is combined.
  3. After you put it in the pan, bake for about 45 minutes.

Voila!

Now, you are probably supposed to use baking powder and baking soda because it is baking, but I didn’t have any when I was doing this and it turned out fine. If you’re going to use it, just mix like a teaspoon of baking powder and ½ a teaspoon of baking soda during step 2.

So, that’s how you become a less wasteful and more nutritious juicer. Have a wonderful day! I hope you try some of these tips.

To Juice or Not To Juice?

There is a lot of controversy right now about juicing. Some say juicing promotes wastefulness and deprives our bodies from the nutrients since we aren’t consuming the skins.

From personal experience, I have to disagree. When done correctly, juicing can be the gateway to a healthier self and a healthier planet. There is one step any juicer should follow: Don’t throw away the pulp.

Every time we juice, the pulp is collected in a bin on the machine. You can use the pulp from different fruits for different purposes such as cooking bread or making facial masks. By using the pulp this way, you are both using the whole fruit and consuming all the nutrients.

I’ve been working on my health more and more since coming to college. At the beginning of last semester, my last semester, I purchased a juicer from Wal-Mart. Almost immediately after adjusting my diet, including juice every morning, I could feel the energy shift inside of me.

Before juicing, I was often fatigued and couldn’t make it through a whole day without feeling irritable and exhausted. After juicing, I began to fit exercising into my already busy schedule almost every day. I went to spinning classes and Zumba after classes and work.

The ball of energy I was missing before started to grow and snowball due to endorphins from working out and seeing results. My self-image improved dramatically. I lost more than 20 pounds.

If you want to learn about how to use the pulp after juicing, recommended products and recipes, and the holistic curative properties of some fruits, follow along with me this week. I promise if you implement my tips, you will be on your way to a healthier self.

Keep in mind, juicing alone will not yield the best results. You have to exercise and alter the rest of your diet. But it is possible! I know it is cliché to say, but if I can do it, anyone can.