Our River of Life's Blog

9 Ways to Surviving the Holiday Stress!

November 4th, 2013 • Posted by Nancy Wogan • Permalink

9 Ways to Surviving the Holiday Stress!

1. Eat healthy and easy comfort foods.

Tuscan Tomato and White Bean Soup: a velvety smooth soup with a crusty Italian Ciabatta bread.

MediterrAsian.com shows you why traditional Mediterranean and Asian eating and lifestyle practices are so health-giving. A wonderful website with free healthy recipes

2. Relax your painful feet in an Epsom salt foot soak.

Epsom salt relaxes and relieves painful muscles ache and softens the skin. Add 1/3 cup to a small tub of warm water for a foot soak and 3/4-1 cup to a full bath. If you have esstential oils you can add a couple of drops (3) of lavender oil for relaxation or peppermint to refresh.

3. Improve your sleep with these good sleep hygiene tips.

You need sleep for at least 7-8 hours each night. Do not eat or drink for two hours before going to bed. Establish a routine of going to bed the same time each night and winding down 30 minutes before going to bed and try a quick breathing meditation to help you clear your mind (number 7 recommended books might help). Have your bedroom sligthly cooler then the rest of your house, no cellphone or tv in the room and draw the drapes or close the shutters for complete darkness during the night.

4. Cut sugars to avoid jittery nervousness and the ups and downs during the day.

Besides regular sugar try to avoid carbohydrates such as starch (polysaccharides), which is found in bread, pasta and potatoes which will be broken down in the body into sugars.

Eat a whole piece of fruit versus a glass of fruit juice as contains too much sugar.

5. Book a massage. Try a different massage like an aroma massage or a Hot Stone massage.

Aroma Relaxation Massage: For ultimate relaxation. Incorporating aromatherapy to your massage provides both physiological and psychological benefits. A blend of essential oils has been created to support your needs for tranquility and relaxation.

Hot Stone massages are very relaxing, as the heat 'melts' the stress away in the muscles. No deep massage needed to receive a deep relaxation here.

6. Take a refreshing 30 minutes walk in the park.

(locally: Mary State Young Park in West Linn, Graham Oaks Park in Wilsonville, Tualatin Parks, Atfalati in Tualatin)

7. Read one of these recommended books.

Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams,Danny Penman and Jon Kabat-Zinn,

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh,

The MediterrAsian WayA Cookbook and Guide to Health by Ric Thelander and Trudy Watson (no I don't get money for this link, I just like this book and it's great for a holiday gift)

8. Before your big family get-together book a lymphatic facial drainage treatment to look your best.

This gentle therapy uses specific wave-like movements with flat hands and fingers to help stimulate the lymphatic system. It boosts the immune system, reduces swelling of tissues due to water retention or injuries, it increases detoxification, rejuvenates the tissues and improves relaxation.

9. Breathe, meditate or walk on a peaceful healing labyrinth.


Written by Nancy, owner of Our River of Life

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April 15th, 2013 • Posted by Nancy Wogan • Permalink

Labyrinths are intriguing. Why walk a path and then having to walk the same way back? At least with a maze you have to use your brain in finding your way out of complex pathways. With a labyrinth you don't have to make choices which way to go, your only choice is at the beginning, whether to enter and let it lead you to your goal or not. Walk into the labyrinth and leave your worries behind when you walk out.

Labyrinths can be traced back over 4000 years and are found worldwide in a number of different forms. Early designs of the classical labyrinth have been found on coins from Crete, from the first few centuries B.C. By the 19th century Colonial influences took labyrinths to all corners of the world.

Recently labyrinths were re-discovered  by a new generation appreciative of their historic connections and spiritual possibilities and are more popular now then they have ever been. Estimates are that over 10,000 labyrinths have been built over the last 25 years worldwide. Walking the labyrinth is often calming and restful and can be profound and life changing.




Here is a photo of a river rock Healing Labyrinth, a Classic-7 Labyrinth.



You may walk it with or without shoes. A bare feet walk stimulate all senses as each foot has over 7,200 nerve endings.   








The following information is from www.labyrinths.org or www.paxworks.com

Labyrinths are found in many cultures dating back as much as 3,500 years. Unlike a maze, the labyrinth is unicursal, having a single path leading to the center with no loops, cul-de-sacs or forks. They all share the basic features of an entrance or mouth, a single circuitous path and a center or goal. Labyrinths are described by how many concentric circuits or paths they contain. They can be a few inches or a few hundred feet in width. The two most common types of Labyrinths are the Chartres and Classic-7. However, there are many variations, including custom labyrinths created by modern labyrinth-makers such as the 8-circuit Renewal or 7-circuit Triune Labyrinth.

The Chartres, 11-circuit Labyrinth was constructed around 1201 AD in the stone floor of Chartres Cathedral, France. Its distinguishing features are; 11 circuits, the turns arranged in four quadrants, lunations or teeth around the perimeter, and a 6- petal rosette in the center. Medieval Christians visited Chartres (and other cathedrals) and walked the labyrinth instead of taking a hazardous pilgrimage to Jerusalem to walk in the "foot steps of Christ." Modern "pilgrims" walk the labyrinthine path as one of many tools to enhance prayer, contemplation, meditation, and/or personal growth.

The Classic-7 Labyrinth is a simpler design that is often called the 'Cretan' referring to the design found on ancient coins on the Island of Crete. It is also the oldest style found in many cultures as early as 1500 BC. Actual usage theories vary depending on the time and culture. Its distinguishing features are; 7 circuits, an egg-like shape and the turns in the lower part of the labyrinth.

WALKING A LABYRINTH Many community organizations, churches and retreat centers are making labyrinth walks available for public use for prayer, meditation, contemplation or personal growth. The labyrinth walk is popular with a growing number of people because of it simplicity and the ability to approach its paths on your own terms.

1) Environment: Begin by setting the environment for the experience. At organized walks, your host prepares by adjusting lighting, selecting music, controlling air conditioners, and saying opening prayers. Set your personal environment by dropping your 'physical baggage' such as key-chains and cell-phones. We suggest you remove watches to remove the temptation to measure your progress chronologically. On an indoor labyrinth you may be asked to remove you shoes and walk in your socks. Outdoors, enjoy the sounds of nature; experience a barefoot walk on a grass or stone labyrinth! The Walk: There is not a "required way" to walk the labyrinth. The beauty of the labyrinth is that people can approach the experience on their own terms. However, as a guideline, we break the ‘walk’ down into these stages.

2) Entering: (releasing.) During this stage you walk the path toward the center, and should try to acquire a relaxed, peaceful state and quiet the mind.

3) Illumination: (receiving) The time in the center. This is a time of openness and peacefulness; you experience, learn or receive what this unique moment offers. Take your time.

4) Union: (reviewing) The journey outward. You choose when to leave the center, following the same path. This is a time to review and consider what occurred in the center and how it may be applied in your life.

5) Implementation: This stage represents your life outside the labyrinth; the world where your experience or illumination is carried into and affects your everyday life.

Other ways to walk include: Intentional walks: where you address a specific intention, issue or concern as you walk.

Intercessory walks: offer prayer for a different person at each turn on the path.

Meditative walks: meditate on a specific word or passage, or pray, or the prayer for world peace. (Let peace Prevail on Earth!)

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Meditation as a Stress Reliever

October 24th, 2012 • Posted by Nancy Wogan • Permalink

When you look up the word Meditation, you will become confused quickly.

Meditation derived from Latin 'meditatio' means to think, contemplate, to ponder. The Tibetan word means concentration, compassion, humility. From the Sanskrit root it means to contemplate. So are we to think or not to think? Here I thought we were supposed to clear our minds and not think at all.

I guess in the general term meditation, we are trying to go beyond the thinking mind getting into a deeper more relaxed state.

Using meditation as a stress reliever, achieving serenity, tranquillity and getting more clear minded is most in tune with Buddhist meditation and has become increasingly popular in the world, with many non-Buddhists.

>As stated by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a U.S. government entity within the National Institutes of Health that advocates various forms of Alternative Medicine. "Meditation may be practiced for many reasons, such as to increase calmness and physical relaxation, to improve psychological balance, to cope with illness, or to enhance overall health and well-being."

Still, how to meditate? Is it hard and difficult to do, this not thinking? How can you sit still and do nothing.? How to stop those constant thoughts from coming?

At an event with a Health Coach recently, where besides talking about eating healthy we also discussed meditation, she told us not to stress about thoughts that keep invading your mind when you are trying so very hard to keep it clear. In that case meditation could actually be stressful.

I remember one teacher back in school telling me to tie balloons onto my thoughts and to let them float away. This just did not work for me, as they kept floating back in my peripheral vision. Another teacher spoke about locking your thoughts in a box with a key. I actually envisioned a beautiful pirate's treasure chest with large colorful stones glues to the top and surrounded this with big silver shiny chains and a hefty lock. Every time a thought came up, I would tell it 'go in the chest, I will get back to you later". This actually worked very well for me and I shared this with many. However it was still a negative action. A thought came up and was locked in the chest.

The Health Coach however, approached it differently. She suggested to associate your invading thoughts with something sweet, something cuddly, something like a box of kittens. Who does not love cute little kittens? You just have to pick one up, bring it up to you face, cuddle before you put it back in the open box. Your thoughts are like kittens she told us. They keep popping up, vying for your attention, until you've acknowledge them and pet them on the head. Since then I have picked up these little kittens, smiled at them and told them 'now get back in your box, I will get to you later". All the while smiling! Because it was a sweet positive action (in my mind) I could easily let go and get back to my meditation and not be bothered by the thought again. So try to take this example or make your own vision of something positive and I can assure you meditation is not hard, it is not difficult, it just needs a little practice, but anyone can do it!

On another note, you can do meditation anywhere you can find a quiet spot for you to sit, lie down or walk. You don't have to sit cross-legged with your thumb and fingers pinched together.

There are many other forms of meditation. Meditation where one concentrates on the breath, is practiced with a Zen or Tibetan background.

The Mantra meditation, a continuous chanting or focus on an object as a way of clearing the mind became popular around 1970 as part of the New Age meditation.

Martial art like Tai Chi Ch'uan has also been thought of as a moving meditation.

Guided meditation or guided imagery uses images or places that you feel are relaxing. You might come up with the images by yourself or you may be guided or talked through this by a teacher or guide.

Mindfulness meditation is based on increasing conscious awareness and living in the 'now'.

I personally enjoy Tai Chi as it makes me having to concentrate on the slow moves, therefore leaving no room for any thought from the 'outside' world. I also like guided meditation where someone with a very pleasant voice is talking me through a walk through a field. Here I use my own images to complete the picture that the voice is describing for me. Another need for total focus, so no invading thoughts possible. Then again, just sitting next to my big pond filled with salamanders and frogs, makes me feel peaceful by itself and meditation comes easily there too. If thoughts try to invade I will just think of the lovely box filled with kittens, pet them and tell them I will see them later.


>The Huffington Post has an interesting article that compares the mind to the platform of a train station where different trains of thought pull through. The article is called "Buddhist meditation, catching the right thought train". We have for example Jealousy trains and Generosity trains and the Buddhist meditation practice involves developing a deep understanding of what leads toward peace and happiness and what does not. We can learn to get on the thought trains that are helpful and skip the ones that are not. Through this practice you will become more effective in whatever you are trying to do in your life. (read the whole article)

>The mayo clinic agrees that meditation can help with stress management and published the following article: Meditation, a simple, fast way to reduce stress


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