Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The Power of Meditation

Oh my goodness!! I'm so excited that my book is finally here!  

Would you like to receive this new book on the day it comes out?  Pre-ordering is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, in paperback or electronic form. You can also use the Indiebound link to find a local bookseller near you.

This wise and delightful guide to the benefits of meditation practices will help readers cultivate a calm, peaceful, and enlightened lifestyle. Drawing from his years of experience as a teacher, spiritual leader, and avid meditator, Edward Viljoen directs readers down the path to enlightenment using wisdom such as:
·       Mindfulness practices—Train yourself to become absorbed in a purposefully chosen activity.
·       Sitting practices—Reduce the use of mental and physical resources as much as possible by sitting still and silently.
·       Creative practices—Employ such devices as journaling, observing, and focusing on a favorite literary or spiritual passage.

Featuring personal anecdotes and stories from the author’s spiritual teachings, The Power of Meditation goes beyond a simple how-to book and offers a wonderful reading experience that will inspire readers to live more wise and fulfilling lives.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Essential oils for the colds: It's that time of year.... atchooo!

During the cold and flu season many people begin sneezing around me, working with groggy heads and stuffed noses. We can't avoid touching paper, equipment, hands and utensils that other people—people with colds or flu—have handled but we can do something to help keep ourselves healthy and sanitary. 

Personally, I take essential oils into the shower with me, every day.  I have become fond of two essential oils for this purpose because of their fragrance, which to me is pleasant, and their relative affordability, and most importantly because they are generally thought to have some anti-bacterial and anti-viral actions:  lavandin super (the hybrid closest to true lavender in fragrance and composition) and Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini). 

Here is how I use them. 


First a caution, Palmarosa can have a bit of sting to it when applied directly to the skin, especially if you have sensitive skin.  So before I get into the shower, I get a shot glass and put about a half inch of some kind of moisturizing oil in it, almond, or jojoba, or even olive oil.  Then I put about 10 drops of Palma Rosa into the oil, mix it up well, and head to the shower.  Standing in the shower before I turn on the water, and being careful not to get oily, slippery feet, I apply the mixture to my chest, shoulders, arms and thighs.  I pay careful attention to not get the oil on my face, in my eyes and ears, or near my genitals, because it can sting!  (You definitely should test this by applying a little of it to your wrist to make sure you respond well to the oil.  All skin is not equal and what works well for me may be irritating to you.)  

Then I turn on the warm water and continue to rub the oil onto my skin while inhaling the fumes.  I wash normally with soap.  This daily exercise during the cold and flu season seems to help me stay one step ahead of the whatever it is that makes people feel unwell.


With Lavandin super, I take it a little further still.  I sometimes take 20 drops of oil, undiluted, with me into the shower and apply it directly to my skin.  The oil is so gentle that you can use it just about anywhere, although not on the face or eyes.  Even though the oil is gentle I recommend a skin test, because not all skin is created equal.  I particularly like to use Lavandin under my arms, as I would any soap, and then wash with water.  I don't need to use any soap in addition to the oil.  The effect of the oil on my skin is to reduce the odor from bacteria, increase a sense of calm and wellbeing, and when I smell it throughout-out the day it gives me a reminder to stay alert to what I'm touching and using.

Stepping Stones Books & Gifts carries Lavandin super, genuine and organic, a fine clean fragrance that I prefer.  It is from a hybrid plant and is perfect for relaxing massage blends, wonderful for meditation and an economical alternative to True Lavender.  Because stock is changing rapidly, we do not display the inventory in our online store, but you can call us anytime to order:  707-527-8372
Watch the free "How to make a sanitizing hand lotion" video in the right hand column of this screen for an easy and effective way to make a nondrying hand lotion with antibacterial and antiviral essential oils.  And if you're nose is blocked and your head stuffy, watch the free video on "How to make nasal straws," and effective, easy way to deliver a lot of essential oils and their fumes to where you need them.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The True Miracle of Lavender Essential Oil

In aroma: The International Magazine for Essential Oils, an article about the perpetual popularity of Lavender oil reveals that "Domestic consumption and export of Lavender oil far exceed the amount produced by agricultural methods. It has become profitable to mix less expensive essential oils like Lavandin or Bulgarian Lavender (from clones) with synthetic linalool and linalyl acetate and to offer the resulting "bouquet" as True Lavender."
Apparently the president of the confrerie de la lavande said that although Provence produces about 50 tons of true lavender annually, brokers export 250 tons, and he humorously called this a greater miracle than the ones of Lourdes and Fatima.

I can understand why there are strong warnings about using essential oils, and strong recommendations that they be applied topically only: we don't have a clue what is in some of them. That is, unless you have a reputable vendor of genuine and authentic oils.

Over time I have learned about some possible signs of fakery: if the price is too good, it's probably too good to be true. :) Sometimes the aroma itself is too good to be true, or has a solid perfumy smell. But these days, adulterers (ain't that a great word) are smarter and smarter, smarter than my nose and ability to do math.

So I continue to read up about suppliers, try to educate myself about the oils I'm purchasing, so that I can use Lavender with confidence and safety.

From Monica Haas:

How to spot fine lavender made by Nature!

Linalool and Linaly Acetate never more than 80%
Lavandulyl acetate at least 4.5%
Cis beta ocimene and Trans beta ocimene > 0.5%
Camphor below 0.5%
Good luck!

The Quick and Dirty Story of the Evolution of Plant Life and Secondary Metabolites

Here's what I learned in class today:

The first evolving primitive plants established themselves in moist environments of the shores. These early plants were in intense competition with all the other organisms that were established one the shores before plants arrived; viruses, bacteria and fungi owned the place.

Plants began to produce substances which made it more challenging for the surrounding organisms to eat them, which gave them the advantage in their survival and reproduction.

Then, 500 million years of trial and error produced plants with refined biochemical responses that have provided for their survival. The secondary metabolites of these plants, sort of like their immune system, are their defense and self-preservation system. Early needle trees are among the oldest plants on the planet, by the way, and today when we gather essential oils from them, it's interesting to imagine we are harvesting secondary metabolites from a source that has been around for a very, very long time.

These secondary metabolites helped plants address challenges such as too much ultraviolet exposure, pathogen attacks, repairing wounds and attracting insects to assist in pollination.

A Recipe To Improve The Look Of Scar Tissue On My Thumb

Here is a recipe that I used on my thumb scar where I had a deep cut from a plate glass window. Although I still have the scar, it is softer and less discolored and the tissue is more flexible so there is now no discomfort bending the thumb joint.

In carrier oil of Rosehip and Sesame oils (more sesame than rose, maybe 80/20) to which I added helichrysum, rosemary verbone and sage (petites feuilles). The essential oil blend is added to the carrier oil at about 2% dilution and then rubbed into the scar tissue twice a day. At least, that's what I did. A skeptical friend said that the twice daily vigorous massage by itself would have had the same result. It could be, but I am happy with the result and the fragrant experience of the blend made me look forward to the massage.