A Whole New Place

By Raghad Ebeid, Transformational Speaker, Writer, Life Coach, Education and Training Consultant

When you first think of a ‘new place’ – you might think of moving to a new home, which involves packing, selling, maybe saying good bye, and then of course unpacking everything you spent months packing.  Essentially, it can entail building a new life.

My family and I recently had the experience of not only moving to a new home, but moving overseas, across the world, to a new community where we did not know anyone.  Now, that is really a whole new place.  Moving with two young children to someplace new was naturally concerning for our family and friends. But as crazy as it seemed, this was what we wanted to try at this stage in our lives, and was ultimately what God had chosen for us now.  There were a number of reasons we decided to make the move and regardless of the reasons, there is so much that I have learned from the exercise of moving overseas and am still learning.

The first of which is the process of letting go.  Moving internationally, and having limited space, means we will have to first let go of a lot of our ‘possessions’.  Seeing every piece of furniture in your home, with all of the memories associated with it, being sold or given away was not a breeze.  And I realized how we as human beings begin to form attachments to objects, perhaps because they may have ‘sentimental value’.  But I realized at the end of the day, that they were objects, and that I wasn’t going to take any of them with me after I die, so why would I be upset about it now?

This led to the second lesson – live light.  It can be surprising over the years how much unnecessary ‘stuff’ we accumulate.  We can indeed be victims of a ‘consumer culture’ that keeps pushing us to buy and buy more, even when we don’t need it.  I would encourage all of us to go through a very simple exercise today of going to our closet and counting the pieces of clothing that we haven’t worn in the last couple of months.  You would probably be surprised that you haven’t worn up to 80% of your clothes which is consistent with the 80/20 rule – that 80% of the time, you wear 20% of your clothes.  Try it and see.  This is an excellent lesson because after going through the activity of selling, donating, and discarding of so many items, I buy a lot less because I have realized that weneed a lot less.

The third lesson is saying goodbye.  When I was younger, saying goodbye was one of the hardest experiences I encountered.  If a friend moved away, it was very difficult for me and I would spend weeks agonizing over it.  Little did I know that soon after I finished university and married, I would first say goodbye to my hometown, family and friends to move to another city and then a few years later, say goodbye again to my community, family and friends to move halfway across the world.  Saying goodbye is still not easy for me, but it has become easier to manage.  It has made me stronger and also realize the importance of not becoming dependent on our relationships with anyone, other than God, because we know one day we will part with them.  It is sad but true – as Angel Gabriel said to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Live as long you will for you will die, and love whom you will for you will part with them, and do as you will, for your will be held accountable for it…and know that the honour of the believer is in qiyamu’lail (the night prayer) and his pride comes from not needing anything from people” (Al-Tabarani).  Saying goodbye repeatedly has taught me to remember that nothing is permanent in this world and that one day we will leave it altogether, so I should strive to ensure that the only thing that is permanent – my connection with God- is strong and my good deeds are plenty in order to be able to carry me to the ultimate abode God willing – heaven.

This also led to the fourth lesson.  Saying good bye to everything familiar strengthens your ability to have tawakul (reliance) on God.  We certainly did our research, weighed our options, prayed istikhara (Guidance prayer), and consulted with others; but ultimately, it was important to remember that in the end, it is all the Will of God and to trust that He, in His Infinite Wisdom and Mercy, will choose what’s best for us.  I will be perfectly honest with you – moving overseas and leaving family, friends and community is not easy.  Relocating somewhere new with young children and a lack of networks is even harder.  Some days, I really had to muster up the courage to continue on this new adventure and remember that God has placed us here and now for a reason.  And indeed I have found such comfort and truth in the verse that “You may hate something which is good for you and you may love something which is bad for you and Allah knows and you know not” (Quran 2:216).  We can worry and lose sleep over a certain issue; however, it is so much easier to do our part, make duaa (supplication) , pray istikhara(Guidance prayer) and leave it to God, because ultimately He controls everything.  And having that tawakul (reliance) can be met with such pleasant and humbling surprises to the good that God Has in store for us, especially when we least expect it.

The fifth lesson has been that in order to be someone different or accomplish something great, you have to try something different and something great, which may be so different and so great, that it scares you and worries everyone around you.  There’s this quote I like: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough”.  If you can’t physically move to a ‘whole new place’ to accomplish what you would like, what’s to say that you can’t move to a new ‘place’ by making small, consistent changes in your daily life now? We only live once and we only have this chance to make a true, profound and an everlasting difference.  So what are we waiting for? Will we keep waiting until we graduate, or work, or save up, or marry, or have children, or have the children grow up, or retire? Will we keep waiting until we die?  Now is the time to plan and move forward in sha Allah (God willing), while praying for the best.

There can be many more lessons to leaving behind everything and everyone familiar to go to a whole new place where everything and everyone is unfamiliar.  One of the most important lessons to remember is that God, in His Infinite Knowledge and Wisdom, Has a plan for us and is With us, wherever we are, carrying us through it every step of the way.  And that ultimately, we are all preparing to leave to a whole new place which we hope will be eternal bliss.



About Raghad Ebeid

Raghad Ebied is a transformational speaker; writer; life coach; education and training consultant. She has completed a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership from the U.K, preceded by a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelors in Education in addition to certifications in leadership, life coaching, and relationship coaching,  compassion cultivation and spiritual care from Canadian and American universities and institutions including Stanford. For more information please visit www.RaghadEbied.com

 

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Feed your body to heal your mind

By Amira Ayad, PhD & Faculty Member, Institute of Holistic Wellness

Our brain is the most complicated organ in the universe. It is estimated that we have more synaptic connections between our brain cells than there are stars in the skies.
 
Yet, do we take proper care of this valuable asset of ours?
 
Depression, anxiety, brain fog, dementia, mood swings, phobias, ADD and loads of other mental and psychological complaints and illnesses became so common…We've become experts at labelling our conditions, yet we've failed miserably at healing them…
 
Here is a scenario I see so often… a story of everyday life: Michelle is stressed, tired, and depleted. As soon as she wakes up, she turns on the autopilot mode and rides the hamster wheel. Between her husband, her house, her kids and her work, she does not have the time to feed her body needless to say her heart and soul. She eats on the go, mainly processed carbs and sweets. She has no time to exercise, no time for social support, hobbies or leisure. Her pastime is watching the depressing news or chatting on Facebook. She bottles up her frustration and anger and swallows her pains with her morning and afternoon coffees.

No wonder her cholesterol levels shoot up. Her doctor puts her on statin. No one mentioned the side effects… her cholesterol levels become normal, but her energy goes down the drain, brain fog, fatigue, low libido and poor fat digestion… For her heartburn, an antacid was added… Again, no one mentioned any side effects. With no acid in her stomach, protein digestion and absorption became compromised. Proteins are essential to build the neurotransmitters, those magic molecules Dr. Candace Pert calls ‘molecules of emotions’… Another prescription was now essential, an antidepressant for her low mood, poor motivation and foggy brain…
 
It is my firm belief that our body and mind have a tremendous ability of heal, we just have to give them what they need… we need to properly feed our body, mind, heart and soul. Today, I will focus on my 7 essential rules of feeding your body so that you can heal your mind:
 

1. One-man food is another man’s poison.

I meet people with food intolerances and sensitivities everyday in my practice. You need to listen to your body: Is there any specific food that eating it makes you feel tired, depleted, anxious, irritable, moody, or makes your brain foggy? The best way to find out is to go on a well-designed elimination diet while closely monitoring your symptoms.

2. Skip that doughnut.

Refined sugars and carbs throw your blood sugar level out of balance which not only increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease, but also pumps up your fight and flight response, increases inflammation and messes up your hormones. Alzheimer's disease is now known among nutritionists as type III diabetes. Depression, anxiety and ADD have well-established links with increased refined sugar consumption. To balance your blood sugar level, you need to choose whole unprocessed grains and carbs and fiber-rich foods; you also need to eat on regular interval and include some form of protein with every meal and snack (egg, nuts, seeds, lean chicken, turkey, fish and veal are good choices).

3. We’re basically ‘fatheads’.

60% of the solid brain mass is fat… But not any kind of fat. Your choice of fat is essential for your brain health. Good choices are olive oil, coconut oil, avocadoes, nuts, seeds and fatty fish.

4. Water is the essence of life.

70% of our cells is water. I have seen cases of serious fatigue and brain fog resolve by simply hydrating properly. Make sure you drink at least 8 cups of water daily.

5. Your ‘emotions’ are made from protein.

Serotonin, dopamine and nor-epinephrine are your brain neurotransmitters. Dr. Candace Pert calls them ‘molecules of emotions’ as they are the ones responsible for your feelings of happiness, wellbeing, uplifted mood, focus, and motivation… Another close relative, melatonin, regulates your sleep cycle and heals brain cells while you sleep.
Those neurotransmitters are made from protein, or more specifically from amino acids found in high quality protein.

6. Turn off the furnace.

As we live in a highly polluted world and we are leading a pretty stressful life we set on an inflammation process in our cells. This low-grade chronic inflammation is like a low heat furnace that is cooking our cells at a very slow yet efficient pace. We need to turn this furnace off. The best way to do that is by integrating anti-inflammatory herbs and spices in your every day diet. Spices like turmeric and ginger are amazing anti-inflammatory. Other great choices are green leafy vegetables and colored fruits and veggies like berries, red bell pepper, pumpkins, and carrots…

7. Give your liver a boost.

Your liver is the primary detoxifying organ in your body and since the brain is highly susceptible to toxins, supporting liver detoxification is an essential tool in brain protection. Foods that boost liver detoxification are cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collard, broccoli…), artichoke, burdock root, green leafy vegetables and spices like turmeric and ginger.
 
Data shows that the rate of antidepressant use in US increased by almost 400% between the late 90s and early 2000s.[1]
 
No one of us want to be among those statistics… do we?
 
It’s time to move forward… it is time to take back responsibility of your own health…
 
Finally, it is essential to note here that to achieve mental and emotional health, you need to look at all of You: Body, Mind, Heart & Soul. Yes, you need to fix your diet and make better food choices, but you also need to dig deeper into your heart and soul, to listen to your Body Whispers and to reclaim your responsibility over your health and your life…
 
Let today be the beginning of your health and happiness journey.
 


About Amira Ayad, PhD
 
Dr. Amira Ayad is the founder of Women Whispers Academy where women learn to listen to their Body Whispers® before they turn into screams. Dr. Amira holds a master degree in Pharmaceutics and a PhD in Natural Health. She is a faculty member at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto and she practices Functional Nutrition and natural health private consultation at Alexandria Medical Clinic in Mississauga. Her practice combines the best of both worlds: science with spirituality.

Dr. Amira published four books. Her books have been translated into more than 10 languages and read and taught by thousands around the globe.
Visit her blog at: www.amiraayad.com
 
 
 

 

[1] by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

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The Courage to Journey

By Omar Sallam, Community Care Specialist

Are you unsure of whether you can keep going? Fearful of pursuing a path of self-development and growth? Consider the lessons that Hagar taught us....

Pacing back and forth is a common sign for both excitement and worry. Some people can’t sit still waiting for a loved one at the airport. The last five minutes of an important game can witness a coach shifting back and forth as well. While others might not move physically, their racing hearts assimilate the pacing motion. You may perceive them as calm or cold but the restlessness of their  hearts carries them further than the strongest legs.

If this doesn’t seem intense enough imagine having both the heart and body pace together but in a novel, scary and sensitive situation. Centuries ago Hagar carried herself back and forth as her infant son cried from thirst. Uncertain what to do she moved her noble soul back and forth between the mounts of Safa and Marwa.. Although trusting God fully she was pacing both outwardly and inwardly. Inwardly touched by her son and outwardly back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwa.

 Her courage, care, and model is celebrated annually by millions of Muslims who go to Hajj (pilgrimage). Her story can teach us something about our hearts in that they go back and forth continuously. Sometimes they leap forward with confidence or retreat in a corner with hesitancy. Sometimes they burst with energy, other times they’re captivated with fear. It can be draining to maintain momentum or get out of a funk. It can feel shameful being alone with doubts, failures, or aspirations. Hagar’s footsteps teach us to keep going because although we too can be unsure today, there will be a time when we quench our anxieties. In life, the only constant is the fluctuating state of the heart and conditions so let’s resolve to keep moving forward and that if we need to turn back we will do so inspired by her.

There might be a final important lesson in her great story. We might often have to go away, travel, or face an unknown to be able to face our hearts and give them a chance to grow. Mundane life doesn’t allow the hearts to reach their potential always, hence pilgrimage. What does pilgrimage teach us in our daily life? Be a seeker for the growth of your heart. Take the time to do that weekly, or monthly, or yearly. Find your heart so you can find higher meanings so you can journey in this life like the great ones did before.

Omar Sallam has a Diploma in Social Services and degree in Human Services. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Theological Studies with a focus on Pastoral Care. Omar has a deep awareness and passion for mental health and community challenges. He has 15 years of experience working with minority communities in Canada in various youth and communal settings.

If you are a seeker for the growth of your heart, consider coming to our wellness retreat! 

The Healing Benefits of Nature

By Avdeep Bahra, Occupational Therapist, Mindfulness and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner

I love being in nature and have always returned home feeling calmer, happier and energized after spending any amount of time outdoors.

I never really researched these benefits, however curiosity got the better of me!  So I did a little bit of reading and found that I am not alone in experiencing these feelings!

I would love to share what I found and hopefully inspire you to connect with nature too!

I discovered that many researchers are now keenly researching how nature affects our brains and bodies.

Here are 5 main ways in which being in nature benefits us:

1.    Improved Mental Health

Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anxiety, depression, anger, fear and stress!

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Essex and published by the mental health organization Mind found that taking a walk in nature reduced depression scores in 71% of participants. They compared the effect with a control group who also took walk, but in a shopping mall. They found that only 45% of the shopping center walkers had reduced depression scores, and in fact 22% of them actually felt more depressed.

2.    Enhanced Physical Health

Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, but it also contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.  Being in nature also provided the opportunity for exercise, even if a short walk. 

In a study conducted in Japan, participants were assigned to take a walk of equal length and difficulty either in a forest or in an urban center. During this time their heart rate variability, heart rate, and blood pressure was measured. The participants also filled out questionnaires about their moods, stress levels, and other psychological measures.

Results showed that those who walked in forests had significantly lower heart rates and higher heart rate variability (indicating more relaxation and less stress), and reported better moods and less anxiety, than those who walked in urban settings.

 3.    Grounding and Physical Health

Grounding or earthing is defined as placing one's bare feet on the ground whether it be dirt, grass, sand or concrete (especially when humid or wet).

It is known that the earth maintains a negative electrical potential on its surface. When you are in direct contact with the ground the earth's electrons are conducted to your body, bringing it to the same electrical potential as the earth. This improves the balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.

This in turn results in proper functioning of immune systems, circulation, and other physiological processes. It may actually be the most effective, essential, least expensive, and easiest way to receive antioxidants!

4.    Coping with Pain:

Because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other nature elements engrossing, we are absorbed by nature scenes and distracted from our pain and discomfort.  Nature can provide a wonderful way to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness in itself has been found to help with pain management.

In a study of patients who underwent gallbladder surgery - half had a view of trees and half had a view of a wall. According to the physician who conducted the study, Robert Ulrich, the patients with the view of trees tolerated pain better and spent less time in a hospital!

5.    Empathy, Love and Human Connection:

Studies that used fMRI to measure brain activity found that when participants viewed nature scenes, the parts of the brain associated with empathy and love lit up. However when they viewed urban scenes, the parts of the brain associated with fear and anxiety were activated. It appears as though nature inspires feelings that connect us to each other and our environment!

Can you relate to any of the above experiences too?

After reading about the many benefits, I realize there is a lot of truth in the feelings I experience after connecting to nature. Moreover, I feel more inspired to continue to spend time in nature!

If nature helps ones physical wellbeing, mental health, ability to feel love and connect with others – there is little reason to NOT be out there! 

I invite you to make time for a dose of nature for yourself too!  What reason do you have to NOT do the same?

Avdeep is an occupational therapist, mindfulness and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner that enables clients to overcome limiting thoughts, emotions and beliefs. She helps clients overcome issues related to self-confidence, self-worth, guilt, perfectionism or emotional pain. Through various techniques she empowers you get unstuck, rediscover your inner spark and inspires you to be true to who you are and what you want to do.

 Avdeep knows each person has the ability to take control of their wellness and is eager to empower clients on this journey.

If you are curious to learn more, contact her now.

www.avdeepbahra.com

 References:

New research shows benefits of ecotherapy for mental health and well-being

http://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/news/new-research-shows-benefits-of-ecotherapy-for-mental-health-and-wellbeing/#.WKNqZLHMz6Y  

This is your brain on nature

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/01/call-to-wild/

The ultimate anti-oxidant: fight premature aging for free

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/11/04/why-does-walking-barefoot-on-the-earth-make-you-feel-better.aspx

View through a window may influence recovery from surgery

 https://mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/resources/2012/10/ulrich.pdf  

 

If you'd like to spend some time in a glorious natural environment, come to the Concentric Care Wellness Retreat in Andalucia, Spain!!!

 

Renew Your Inner Battery, Resolve Your Internal Conflict

By Mohammed Sheikh, Breakthrough Coach

Want to know the solution for all your problems?

I’m a Breakthrough Coach. People come to me to help them get through whatever stuck situation they find themselves in. I have trained in a variety of different modalities searching for better and faster ways to help these individuals do just that.

These include years of training in NLP, Hypnosis, WingWave, EFT, EMDR, Reiki, HeartMath (R) and others that don’t really have a name but are essentially learnings from various mentors. While they all have their own unique method to overcoming limiting beliefs, trauma, depression, trapped emotions, etc… I’ve found parallels in all of them when speaking to where the problems originate from.

The underlying root of all of our problems is a result of living a life that creates internal conflicts.

To flesh this out more, it is living a life that is in constant survival or reactive mode as opposed to taking the time to really become aware of our internal wisdom and living a life according to that.

And let’s dive even further:

During my Trainer certification in the HeartMath System (www.heartmath.org) I was taught a wonderful metaphor. Relate our internal energy source to that of an internal battery, just like your phone's battery. Each day we wake up with a full battery (hopefully and potentially - I’ll get to this in a bit) and with each interaction, behaviour, interruption, distraction, hurdle, and achievement, we either deplete our inner battery, or renew our inner battery.

According to the research done by HeartMath Institute when we are engaged in states such as anger, sadness, frustration, depression, our body reacts by releasing Cortisol (AKA the Stress Hormone) and this depletes our inner battery. While experiencing emotions such as love, happiness, mindfulness, peace, our body then releases DHEA (a vitality Hormone) and this renews our inner battery.

When we spend an entire day engaged in activities that deplete our inner battery, our nervous system essentially shuts down and enters survival mode. You may have heard of the terms Fight or Flight. Essentially, when we are depleted, our menu of behavioural choice shrinks to two behaviours which are pre-wired into our unconscious and designed to keep us safe. Fight or Flight (or its various permutations). When you think of how each of our days are typically spent, we may not be ending up having a fight per se, but we should ask ourselves how much time do we spend engaged in activities that deplete our internal battery. Even if it’s something small, over time it begins to have quite a toll on us internally.

Imagine holding a glass of water. How much effort is required to hold it up? How much effort is required to hold it up for five minutes? Fifteen minutes? An hour? Something as small as being cut off on the road (and for some this is not something small, i.e. Road Rage) can really deplete our battery if it stays on our mind because we didn't fully release the emotion.

It’s also worth contemplating on the effects of being in a job we hate, a relationship that simply doesn’t work or even meaningless busy work that really doesn’t bring any sense of inner worth or contribution. Even these things deplete our inner battery slowly over time.

In reading the book The Healing Codes (http://amzn.to/2iXj04z), the author says disease and illness are caused by living lives with depleted inner batteries. Actually, the author talks about ALL diseases and illness being caused by this. When we are in “survival mode”, blood flow is re-directed from our general systems such as the immune system, our liver functions, digestive systems, etc to essentially prepare us for Fight or Flight. It’s “All Hands to Battle-stations!”. And if our internal functions that are responsible for repair and growth are on pause for long periods of time, it begins to make sense how illnesses and diseases are prone to take form.

So what’s the solution? The simple answer is to consciously make decisions to spend more time doing those activities that renew our inner battery and do our best to limit our exposure to those things that deplete our inner battery.

But here are some more detailed suggestions to help in living a life that is more aligned with our inner wisdom.

1. Become aware of what depletes us. Write it down. Whenever you feel something nagging at you. Write down what caused it, and how specifically it’s making you feel. Then ask how feeling this way is benefitting you? Allow yourself to add choice to this situation by asking yourself how else can I behave so the outcome is better.

2. Take scheduled breaks to supercharge your inner battery. This could be in the form of meditation, prayer, going for a walk, or simply slowing down your breathing, taking deep breathes and focussing on a specific event that brings you happiness or love.

3. Sleep. Seriously, do not underestimate the importance of sleep. Above, i mentioned that we wake up to a fully charged battery. Well this is true if we had a proper nights sleep. Various studies have shown how sleep is necessary for us to process the day and how if we fail to get sleep, this will lead to forms of mental illnesses.

4. Journal. Ask what is it that we truly want? What do we want out of life? Out of this job? Out of this relationship? Out of this day? We are usually pretty good at stating what we don’t want, but how often do we really ask ourselves what we do want? If we focus on what we want, we tend to get it. I heard this from one of my mentors, “We don’t go to the store with a list of what we don’t want."

This is a life long journey. I invite you to experience what life is like when we live a life that is proactively choosing wellness over living a life that is constantly simply responding to situations.

HeartMath is a registered trademark of Quantum Intech, Inc. For all HeartMath trademarks go to www.heartmath.com/trademarks

You can reach Mohammed and inquire about his powerful services and programs by emailing mohammed@coachthemind.ca

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