Author Archives: Julie S. Ong

3 Foods to Avoid When Building a Relationship

The more connections you and your lover make, not just between your bodies, but between your minds, your hearts, and your souls, the more you will strengthen the fabric of your relationship, and the more real moments you will experience together.
~Barbara De Angelis

The quality of your food determines not only your physical health, but also your state of mind. Your state of mind can affect your relationships.

To strengthen a budding relationship, avoid these three foods that affect mental health:

1. Alcohol

Consuming large amounts of sugar not only exhausts your body but also blurs your judgment. Alcohol, which is a form of refined sugar, distorts thinking.

2. Meat

When you take in excess alcohol, you may crave plenty of meat, and meat makes your mind restless and cloudy.

3. Restaurant food

Although you may choose healthy food from the menu, restaurant food carries the energy of the chef, which affects the energy of the relationship.

Traditionally, a woman would cook for the man, contributing her loving thoughts to the meal. They would share the energetic quality of this food and be united through their state of mind. Today, if they eat out in a restaurant, they take in the chef’s energy and thoughts, and they become united with the chef. Can you imagine this three-way affair? To build a strong bond within a relationship, it is best if the couple eat only the food prepared at home with their loving thoughts.

So, to keep your mind clear and your relationship strong, avoid alcohol, meat, and restaurant food. This practice will also improve communication and understanding, because you and your partner share the same state of mind.

Healthy Relationship Tip

To strengthen communication, use the Active Listening Method. To clarify what your partner is saying, follow this script:

Active Listening Method

  1. Check in: “I’m checking in.”
  2. Ask for clarification: “I am hearing you say . . .”
  3. Then listen for feedback as to your perception of your partner’s words.
  4. Thank your partner: “Thank you.”

Until you can repeat what your partner is saying on their terms, you haven’t heard him or her. To gain better understanding, follow this script again.

Can whole foods heal your relationships?

Are you ready to engage a whole health approach to your relationships? Eating whole foods is a whole health way of living, which can help you nourish your relationships (with nature, people, or yourself). Through whole foods, you can learn to trust your intuition, live from your authentic self, and communicate more easily and effectively.

Food is an important ingredient in the development of your relationships. Processed foods lack vital life essence as well as nutrients and create imbalanced body, mind, and emotions. However, energetically balanced foods, like organic whole grains and vegetables, help ground you so you can think clearly and articulate your feelings. Can you understand how these strong qualities nourish your relationships?

When you express yourself in an open and honest way from a place of authenticity, you feel good from the inside out. When you feel good, good things happen to you. As you model this healthy behavior, your partner feels more comfortable to express himself or herself as well.

When you eat high quality foods and develop your inner wisdom for true health and wholeness, your inner beauty naturally shines through. And there are valuable side-benefits: your relationships become deeper and more intimate.

Healthy Relationship Tip

When you feel disconnected, angry, or frustrated with your partner, follow this tip:

Step onto a table. Now see the situation from this new place. You may receive new inspiration just from physically changing your position.

Alternatively, if both of you are seated, switch places with your partner. Now you may start to see things from your partner’s position. This can help release blockages and allow healing to begin.

The Aphrodisiac Twig

While sensuous aphrodisiacs like rose or chocolate take center stage on date night, twig-like burdock root has largely been ignored. Growing deep in the earth, burdock’s downward gathering energy nourishes the lower half of the body, including the reproductive organs. But unlike stimulants that activate the adrenals temporarily, burdock provides healing benefits that are long lasting. When your reproductive organs are healthy, so is your sex life.

Adding meat-like flavor to this beautiful kinpira dish, burdock root is cut into brown matchsticks.

Deeply strengthening to the intestines, kidneys, and reproductive organs, burdock root is also used in the macrobiotic diet to purify the blood and cleanse the liver. Its meaty flavor enhances sautes, stews, soups, and gravies. A traditional Japanese healing dish called kimpira uses braised burdock and carrot. Because it contains volatile oils, saute burdock a few minutes to allow oils to evaporate before adding burdock to a dish.

Burdock, Carrot, and Caramelized Red Onion Kimpira
Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup burdock root, matchsticks
3/4 cup carrot, matchsticks
1 pinch sea salt

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add red onion and saute until caramelized. Remove onion from pan and set aside.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and burdock and saute over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add carrots on top of burdock. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer 20 minutes, covered, or until vegetables are tender. Add water if necessary to prevent pan from drying out. Season with salt. Continue cooking, covered, 2 minutes. Remove cover and cook until water is evaporated. Top carrots and burdock with caramelized red onion.

Whether you are feeling lethargic or just want to improve your sex life, burdock is a natural way to increase youthful vitality in all the right places–without pills or surgery!

Are you ready to awaken the healer within?

Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains.
~Diane Ackerman

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.
~Alan Alda

Ah, morning! The fresh smell of dew on the grass and the musky odor that comes out of the earth when the sun comes up! What smells entice you into nature? Cultivating mindful awareness of your sense of smell helps you strengthen your relationship with nature and universal forces. These universal forces are also known as intuition or inner guidance. Your sense of smell is a profound resource you can use to awaken your intuition for healing from the inside out.

Connecting with inner guidance may be new for you. You may have learned to shut your body down, instead of savoring what your body is doing and being guided by it. Mindfully focusing on your sense of smell can help you notice your energy shifting. This process can help you awaken your intuition.

  1. While seated, ground yourself by placing your hands on your abdomen. Scan your body for areas of tension. Tension may appear as tightness in shoulder muscles.
  2. If your body is holding tension, your mind and emotions will reflect this. What emotions are you feeling (for example, sadness, oppression, anxiety)?
  3. What thoughts are you having?

For contrast, smell your favorite herb while you focus on your body, thoughts, and emotions. Finally, do the exercise again, but this time without smelling the herb. What did you notice in your energy as you did the exercise before, during, and after smelling the herb?

Practice awakening your intuition through your sense of smell and notice how your energy shifts. As you begin to listen to your inner guidance, universal energy will flow through you as the natural healing process unfolds.

Sensing Your Food

Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.
~Ashley Smith

Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Do you remember as a child how fun it was to play in the grass and smell the flowers? That fun doesn’t have to end. Your awareness of the world is dependent on your senses, which are part of your body. Through your senses, you can experience the natural state of interconnectedness between you and everything around you, even your food. Cultivating mindfulness can enhance your relationship with food and help in the healing process.

Focusing on your senses helps you become mindfully awake and perceive the vividness of each moment. Rather than separating you from your food, every sense organ can become a doorway that provides the experience of natural connection between all beings in nature. Does this make sense?

When you experience yourself as being part of the whole family of life, you become open to universal healing energy. Everything you see is a communion of you and nature, no separation, joined through your senses. Use smell, taste, sight, touch, and sound to connect with your food.

Let’s focus on your sense of smell. To develop a conscious relationship with food, smell your food when you are:

  • Standing at the produce counter in the grocery store
  • Buying grains and sea vegetables in bulk
  • Cutting vegetables for a recipe
  • Washing rice before soaking
  • Cooking a meal
  • Adding herbs and spices to a dish
  • Walking through a garden
  • Sitting in a restaurant

Now practice using your senses of sight, touch, taste, and sound. As you use your senses, you can develop an intimate relationship and profound respect for your food. Can you see how this deep respect and reverence helps to strengthen your connection with nature and allows the healing process to unfold?

Living Organically

Everything is the product of one universal creative effort. There is nothing dead in Nature. Everything is organic and living, and therefore the whole world appears to be a living organism.
~ Seneca, Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD

Eating whole foods grown without pesticides and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are two ways to create a holistic organic experience. How are you living an organic life?

You’d be surprised to know that you are already living the basic meaning of the word organic. Here are three reasons why:

1. Each part is integral to the whole.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the essence of the word organic means “of, relating to, or derived from living organisms.” An organism is defined as “a complex structure of interdependent and subordinate elements whose relations and properties are largely determined by their function in the whole.” This suggests that life itself is organic and that each element is integral to the whole. Everything around you is part of a whole living system.

2. Your choices have consequences.

The choices you make begin a chain of events that affect the whole. The cosmos adjusts to balance the pendulum of the living organism of the universe. Because each part is integral to the whole, when one part of an organism becomes diseased, the rest of the organism compensates to allow healing to begin.

3. To heal is to make whole.

The choice to be open to universal energy creates a natural healing pathway in the body. This begins at the spiritual level. In fact, the meaning of the word heal is “to make whole.” At the spiritual level, when an organism chooses to heal, all of its members reconnect in an ancient dance of creation and destruction, rebalancing and making adjustments for the continuation of life.

Universal energy connects everything together, and your gratitude keeps this energy flowing. So, say a prayer the next time you bite into that deliciously crunchy salad, and remember how important it is to the organization of the whole of life.

Word of the Day

Organic-ism is “a theory that life and living processes are the manifestation of an activity possible only because of the autonomous organization of the system rather than because of its individual components.”

Nourishing the Spirit

This pleasure, appears as poison in the beginning but is like nectar in the end, comes by the grace of Self-knowledge.
~ Bhagavad Gita

Love is the energizing elixir of the universe, the cause and effect of all harmonies.
~Djalal ad-Din Rumi

How would you like to transform ordinary food into healing elixir Ambrosia? Like Greek gods and goddesses, you have the power to transform everyday food into nourishing nectar through the healing power of intention. More than its biological effects on the body, food contains divine essence, your source. A loving, meditative awareness of food, when consciously cultivated, becomes a bridge to Mother Nature, the Divine, the mystery that is life itself.

Spiritually imbued food is food that has been transmuted with loving, healing energy. Your thoughts and state of mind directly influence other living beings, such as soil, plants, and animals. Likewise, you can transfer energy within your own system into your food, changing it from one form to another.

Spiritual ceremonies (chanting, rituals, prayers, cooking) initiate this transformation of energy from one form to another. By viewing food preparation as a sacred ritual, you can use loving intention to improve the quality of food for healing. In his book Messages from Water, Japanese scientist Masuru Emoto had amazing results in his experiments on water. He discovered that water exposed to limiting thoughts deformed crystals, while water exposed to loving thoughts created beautiful crystals. Does this inspire you to set your loving intention before cooking?

Like a divine offering to the gods, food transformed by love provides nourishment for the spirit. So, when you sit down to eat, say a prayer to acknowledge the contribution of all living beings to the food: sun, wind, rain, soil, plants, farmers, animals, friends and family. After all, much love went into transforming your food into Ambrosia!

Embracing the Beloved

There comes a time in the seeker’s life when he discovers that he is at once the lover and the beloved.
~Sri Chinmoy

Are you ready to kindle your soul and embrace the sacredness of life on all levels of your being? Any time you spend in the wild is an opportunity to develop an intimate relationship with nature. As you begin to trust the relationship, the healing energy of nature merges with your being, and you become more open to receiving universal energy.

A relationship with nature is no different than a relationship with a person. If you have a lover, then you want to spend time with him or her. The more time you spend together, the closer you two become until, eventually, you begin to trust the relationship. You begin to relax into the arms of your lover, and you move in sync together. Does this sound familiar?

In the beginning, a new relationship is a little scary and exciting all at the same time. Perhaps you are meeting someone for the first time, and you are not sure how to behave. Can you relate to this? Likewise, this same feeling happens when you go out into the wild. In the beginning, it’s very powerful, but it may be a little scary as well. These feelings mean that a powerful potential exists, that something really magical can happen.

As you develop a profound and loving relationship with nature, you will feel more open. Take a moment and lie down in nature, and feel yourself let go. Pay attention to any sense of discomfort and be open to it.

  1. Ground yourself by connecting with your body. Are there any places where you feel tension? Tension may appear as shallow breathing from holding diaphragmatic muscles tight.
  2. If the body is contracted, this is will be reflected in the mind and emotions which are also contracted. What emotions do you have? How do you feel?
  3. What thoughts are you having?

If you trust it and give it time, go back into the wild on a regular basis. Your relationship with nature will open and flower, deepening along with mystery of life. Embracing what you love opens up a profound path of healing from the inside out. So, developing a relationship with nature is really about developing a relationship with yourself.

Cultivating Universal Energy

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.
~George Washington Carver

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
~Kahlil Gibran

Did you know the natural state of your heart when unblocked (no contractions or distractions) is unconditional love? Unconditional love radiates naturally throughout nature and the universe. Cultivating universal energy helps you open up this pathway of giving and receiving. Then unconditional love can shine from your heart naturally; the radiance of the sun mirrors the radiance of the open heart.

Reasons to cultivate universal energy:

  1. Good health
  2. More energy for deeper self-reflection
  3. To realize your unity with nature
  4. To clear away mental and emotional blockages that prevent you from realizing your source

Mother Nature is balanced. By connecting with her, you can rebalance yourself. Walking barefoot on the grass is a fun and easy way to do this. An acupressure point on the bottom of the foot, called Bubbling Well point (K1), is where you kiss the earth, give love, and receive vitality. (An alternative is shoes with leather or cotton soles to make a direct energy connection with Mother Earth.) By allowing your whole foot to embrace the earth, you become a natural conduit for universal energy. Can you feel a thread of energy traveling from the earth, through your body, to Heaven? Your body is where Heaven and Mother Earth join in you.

This flow of energy begins to accelerate throughout your body to open your heart. When you cultivate universal energy, your heart naturally opens in state of unconditional love. As natural radiance of heart begins to manifest, you connect more deeply with the Divine. How open is your heart today?

Embracing Nature

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
~John Muir

Do you have a favorite place to play in nature? Nature provides many places in which you can both play and pray. Tension dissolves as you embrace nature, which is the natural state of oneness with the present moment. By strengthening your awareness of the present moment, you can cultivate a deeper connection to nature. Your senses are the secret to connecting with universal energy for healing in body, mind, and spirit.

In the blog “Walking Meditation,” I spoke about the importance of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the profound ability to perceive present awareness. This is the process of unlearning the habit of focusing on past and future. Instead, you learn to focus on one thing at a time without being overwhelmed by distractions. The more time you spend in present awareness, the more you become aware of subtle distractions. As these distractions drop away, your awareness of the present moment deepens. Bliss, joy, and happiness manifest. These are nature’s gifts that come with cultivation of mindfulness.

Embracing nature in the present moment is how you cultivate your connection with the outer world. Your energy is constantly exchanging with nature and vice versa. For example, nature provides food for your sustenance, and this food is eventually returned to the outer world. Can you see how boundaries are self-imposed?

You can turn around your everyday mindset of separation with nature through your senses. Every sense organ can become a doorway to an experience of natural connection. Close your eyes and take a moment to smell your food. What does this smell remind you of? For example, when I smell sea vegetables, I am immediately connected with the ocean. I imagine the waves crashing on the beach, pelicans gliding over the water, and boats sailing on the horizon. Through my sense of smell, I experience myself as being part of the whole family of life. Can you see how everything experienced through your senses connects you with the outer world?

By cultivating present awareness through your senses, you connect with Mother Earth. This pathway of coming into union with nature connects you to universal energy. The best part is, your meridians (energy pathways) begin to open as blockages are dissolved, bringing organ systems back into balance to create a healthy long life.

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