Welcome to November!

Here are some things to think about this month:

1. Combat the dryness.

2. Stoke your inner digestive heat.

3. Get more rest.

4. Increase stress-relieving practices.

5. Increase intake of fats and proteins.

6. Stay warm.

7. Slow down and relax when you eat your food.

8. Keep your immune system strong.

Vipassana Meditation

Introduction to the Technique


Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques. Long lost to humanity, it was rediscovered by Gotama the Buddha more than 2500 years ago. The word Vipassana means seeing things as they really are. It is the process of self- purification by self-observation. One begins by observing the natural breath to concentrate the mind. With a sharpened awareness one proceeds to observe the changing nature of body and mind and experiences the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and egolessness. This truth-realization by direct experience is the process of purification. The entire path (Dhamma) is a universal remedy for universal problems and has nothing to do with any organized religion or sectarianism. For this reason, it can be freely practiced by everyone, at any time, in any place, without conflict due to race, community or religion, and will prove equally beneficial to one and all.

What Vipassana is not:

  • It is not a rite or ritual based on blind faith.
  • It is neither an intellectual nor a philosophical entertainment.
  • It is not a rest cure, a holiday, or an opportunity for socializing.
  • It is not an escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

What Vipassana is:

  • It is a technique that will eradicate suffering.
  • It is a method of mental purification which allows one to face life’s tensions and problems in a calm, balanced way.
  • It is an art of living that one can use to make positive contributions to society.

Vipassana meditation aims at the highest spiritual goals of total liberation and full enlightenment. Its purpose is never simply to cure physical disease. However, as a by-product of mental purification, many psychosomatic diseases are eradicated. In fact, Vipassana eliminates the three causes of all unhappiness: craving, aversion and ignorance. With continued practice, the meditation releases the tensions developed in everyday life, opening the knots tied by the old habit of reacting in an unbalanced way to pleasant and unpleasant situations.

Although Vipassana was developed as a technique by the Buddha, its practice is not limited to Buddhists. There is absolutely no question of conversion. The technique works on the simple basis that all human beings share the same problems and a technique which can eradicate these problems will have a universal application. People from many religious denominations have experienced the benefits of Vipassana meditation, and have found no conflict with their profession of faith.

Ayurveda Autumm’s Diets

7 Quick Tips for October

  1. Eat More Seeds: Add more seeds to your diet in October. Seeds a great way to deliver the higher-fat, higher-protein, plant-based nutrients we need. To get started this month, start having 1 tablespoon of ground flax and chia seeds each day. Add sunflower and pumpkin seeds to your salads and veggies whenever possible.
  2. Raid the Garden, Farmer’s Market, or Grocery for Ripe, End-of-Summer Veggies: It’s important to get as much fresh food as possible from the garden this time of year. Give yourself permission to eat lots and lots of ripe veggies and, yes, it’s okay to eat those fruits as well.
  3. Increase Your Water Consumption: Try to drink 1/2 of your ideal body weight in ounces of water per day. This time of year, the accumulated heat will dehydrate us. As the brain often perceives thirst as hunger, we start eating.
  4. Boost Your Digestive Strength: Strengthening your digestion now will help you digest and process heavier foods this fall and winter. Try 1 capsule of both Warm Digest and Beet Cleanse about 15 minutes before meals with a full glass of water.
  5. Eat Apples, Pomegranate, and Watermelon: Eat 2-4 apples per day until the end of October to cleanse your digestive system, pomegranate to flush your lymph, and watermelon to cleanse your kidneys.
  6. Try an Ayurvedic Detox: Follow our easy, yet powerful, 4-day Short Home Cleanse or if you are looking for a deeper and more thorough cleanse, check out our 2-week Colorado Cleanse.
  7. Bolster Your Immunity: To stay strong and protected, take 2 caps each of Turmeric Plus and Ashwagandha in the morning. Children can take 1 capsule of each.

Effects of Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen is one of the primary female sex hormones. Normally, estrogen is in balance with the other primary sex hormone, progesterone. When the body has too much estrogen, from overproduction of estrogen or lack of progesterone, it enters a state referred to as “estrogen dominance.” Estrogen dominance can result from excess estrogen production within the body, HRT (hormone replacement therapy) common in menopause, a drop in progesterone production or intake of excess estrogen from environmental sources, such as meat injected with hormones or man-made chemicals the body confuses with estrogen. Whatever the reason, estrogen dominance can have serious consequences on the body, producing unwanted side effects.

Weight Gain

Weight gain is a serious effect of estrogen dominance. Not only does it make us uncomfortable with ourselves physically, excess weight increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes. A study reported in the “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism” states that fat tissue produces excess hormones such as estrogen, particularly in abdominal tissue. As fatty tissue produces estrogen, estrogen produces more fatty tissue and results in a continuous cycle.

Increased Cancer Risk

Studies published by the American Cancer Society state that estrogen can raise the risk of developing cancers, such as breast and ovarian cancer, and can actually increase breast tumor growth. These tumors are composed of cells with many estrogen receptors. Their warnings are especially geared to estrogen dominance as a result of estrogen replacement therapy.

Infertility

Estrogen dominance can cause many conditions that affect fertility. The hormonal imbalance between estrogen and progesterone can create polycystic ovaries. According to Dr. Michael Lam, a specialist in hormone balancing and author of “Estrogen Dominance,” when a follicle releases an egg from the ovary, it causes a surge in progesterone. If the egg is produced but not released, it can become a cyst. Without the surge of progesterone, the brain tells the ovaries to increase estrogen and release more eggs. If these eggs are not released, they too develop into cysts. PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome) disrupts a woman’s ovulation cycle, decreasing the chances of conception.

More Side Effects

Weight gain, increased cancer risk and infertility are just a few side effects of estrogen dominance. Dr. John Lee, who coined the phrase “estrogen dominance,” did extensive study in the field of this hormone imbalance. What he found were numerous health conditions that were a result of excess estrogen. These include allergies, memory loss, early puberty in children, gall bladder disease, irritability and mood swings, headaches, fatigue and osteoporosis. In men, there was an increased risk of prostate cancer. Estrogen dominance is not limited to women. Men can also have an increase of estrogen through environmental sources.

Do Certain Foods Reduce Estrogen Dominance?

Estrogen dominance occurs when estrogen is in the body at a much higher level than other sex hormones, mainly progesterone. The increased level can be the result of excess estrogen production or storage, or a drop in the level of progesterone. Symptoms of estrogen dominance are obesity (with fat accumulating in the mid-section), fibrocystic breasts and ovaries, menstrual irregularity, headaches and often breast cancer. With these unwanted side effects of estrogen dominance, many look for natural ways to combat it. One way to help control the level of estrogen in the body is through the diet.

Fiber

One of the first nutritional changes you should make to fight estrogen dominance is to up your fiber intake. Dr. Ronald Hoffman of New York states that a high fiber diet will decrease blood estrogen levels. Since excess estrogen leaves the body by way of the bowel, if stool remains in the colon the estrogen will be reabsorbed. Some foods that are high in fiber and make great additions to the diet are celery, apples, berries, oatmeal, nuts and seeds and any kind of bean.

Flax Seed

Add flax seed to your diet. Flax seeds contain compounds called “lignans.” According to the Linus Pauling Institute, a health research center at Oregon State University, lignans have an “anti-estrogenic” effect, in which they interfere with the enzymes that are involved with the production of estrogen. While flax seeds have anti-estrogenic properties, they are also very high in phyto-estrogens, which are estrogens from a plant source, so you want to consume them from a food source no more than once a day. The highest food source of lignans is flax seed. Flax seed can be added to baked goods such as breads and muffins, or sprinkled on top of salads or lean stir-fry dishes. It can also be purchased already ground.

Sulfur Foods

The liver works as a filter that cleans harmful substances from the blood stream and sends them for elimination, including excess estrogen. When the liver works too hard and can not function properly, toxins build up in the system, including estrogen says Dr. Hoffman. Eating foods that keep the liver healthy can help the liver reduce the estrogen dominance within the body. Foods such as onions, garlic and egg yolks are good for the liver because they contain sulfur. The George Metaljan Foundation, (“World’s Healthiest Foods”), states that it is sulfur compounds that give the liver the ability to get rid of toxins such as pesticides and liver damaging medications. Other foods that aid in liver detox are lemons, limes, spinach, leafy greens and Brussels sprouts. While the cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and broccoli help with liver function, they also contain higher amounts of phyto-estrogens, so vary your vegetable intake and have cruciferous vegetables every other day.

Choose Organic

When selecting fruits, vegetables and even lean meats, seek out organic sources. Organic foods are not grown or raised with pesticides or added hormones, so they give the liver a break by not adding extra toxins or estrogens into the system. Xenoestrogens, estrogens from environmental sources, are found in pesticides, plastics, detergents and even perfumes. If you purchase food that you are not certain is organic, be sure to wash it first to rinse any pesticide residue from it. When purchasing meat or milk, make sure it states that it is organic and “hormone free.”

Foods to Avoid

To reduce estrogen levels, certain foods should be limited or omitted altogether. Foods and drinks that contain caffeine should be removed from the diet. Dr. Michael Lam, who specializes in natural healing, reports on a study that involved measuring caffeine consumption and estrogen levels. The result of the study was that even only one cup of coffee per day could increase estrogen levels, and more than four cups of coffee raised the level 70 percent higher than the one cup level. Dr. Lam also states a study that showed a reduction in estrogen levels of women who gave up a diet full of high carb and high fat foods in exchange for a plant centered diet that was low in fat. Avoiding sugars, fatty and processed foods and opting for fresh, whole fruits and vegetables and nuts is one way to reduce estrogen dominance.

My Summer’s Diet base on Ayurveda. Love it!…

July-October

Summer Grocery List – Pitta Balancing Diet

  • Choose Organic and non-GMO when possible.
  • Curious about a food not on this list? Taste it. If it has 2 of the 3 summer tastes (sweet, bitter, astringent), it is balancing. Prepare it to be room temperature, cool and moist.
  • Eat more of your favorite foods from this list.
  • Though these are not the only items you can eat, they are the most beneficial foods for this season.
  • *An asterisk means that this food is a Summer Superfood. If you like it, eat more of it.

Madrid, Spain

48 Hours in Madrid

In Madrid, you’ll find extraordinary art collections, vibrant shopping areas, Spanish and international cuisine, and a pulsating street life. Two days aren’t enough to really experience the city, but here are a few suggestions to give you a taste of what the Spanish capital has to offer.

From the Art Walk to Hapsburg Madrid

Madrid is an exceptional destination for art lovers. Near and around Paseo del Prado, three of the world’s most prestigious art galleries can be found. The Prado Museum showcases a complete collection of Spanish paintings from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, in addition to an impressive anthology of Italian and Flemish works. Don’t miss Velázquez’s Las Meninas, Goya’s, The Third of May 1808, Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, and Titian’s Bacchanal.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum recounts the history of western art from the thirteenth century to the end of the twentieth. In its collection there are paintings by Caravaggio, Van Gogh and Rothko, among other artists. And the Reina Sofía Museum (MNCARS) tells the story of Spanish and European art from the avant-garde movements to the present, the focus of its collection being one of Picasso’s masterpieces, Guernica. It’s recommended to spend at least half a day, if not a full day, in one of these museums.

Very close by are the Botanical Gardens and the Retiro Park, where you can continue your day with a leisurely stroll. To go to old Madrid, it’s worth making your way up Calle de las Huertas, which cuts through the Barrio de las Letras (Literary Quarter), brimming with antique shops, tapas bars and charming cafés. Further down, Plaza Mayor is the epicentre of Madrid de los Austrias (Hapsburg Madrid). From here, in just 10 minutes, you can reach Plaza de la Villa, where the former City Hall is located, or Plaza de Oriente, with two of Madrid’s most iconic buildings: the Royal Palace and the Teatro Realopera house. In this part of the city, the views of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range will take your breath away. Located just a short distance away, it’s easy to get to the Temple of Debod, a temple that originally stood in Egypt, whose gardens offer beautiful views of the sunset.

Tapas and signature cuisine

As well as Barrio de las Letras, another great place to go for tapas is La Latina district. Close by you’ll also findthe San Miguel Market which is lined with delicatessen stalls and bars serving raciones (dishes to share). In the area, there are many centuries-old taverns that serve typical local fare, like cocido (Madrid-style chickpea stew) or dishes from other parts of Spain such as Galicia, Asturias or the Basque Country.

You can find international food in the vicinity of Plaza de España, and more sophisticated restaurants in and around Gran Vía and Paseo de la Castellana.

The best shopping

International brands, traditional and specialised shops, innovative fashion and the creations of young designers all coexist on the streets of the city. In Barrio de Salamanca, especially along Calle Serrano and Calle Ortega y Gasset, many luxury brands can be found. At the other end of Paseo de Recoletos, around Calle del Almirante, there are shops brimming with style and personality. And right next to Gran Vía, where all the department stores are located, Calle de Fuencarral and the Triball neighbourhood show off young fashion trends in their shop windows.

Theatres and cultural activities

The city boasts a wide range of theatre offerings, hosting all sorts of performances in major venues such as Teatro Real (opera house), Lope de Vega, Teatro Nuevo Apolo, Teatro Circo Price and Teatro Español, among others. Its cultural calendar has featured major musicals such as The Lion King, Mamma Mia, The Bodyguard and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Open 24 hours

Madrid is known the world over for its nightlife: theatres, musicals, flamenco bars, pubs and clubs where you can dance into the early hours.

Adding to this, some central hotels have turned their roof decks into sophisticated chill-out lounges overlooking the city, while a number of new bars serving refreshing cocktails have sprung up around the capital. This may be one of the best ways to wrap up your visit to Madrid, but there’s so much more to discover in the city that we’re sure you won’t be able to stay away for long.

Lisboa, Portugal

Lisbon is Portugal’s capital and the hub of a multifaceted area that appeals to different tastes and senses.

In a city that has been influenced by many different far-off cultures over time, there is still a village feel in each historic neighbourhood. Stroll through the Pombaline grid of streets in the Baixa district that opens on to the Tagus in Praça do Comércio, then follow the river to discover some of the city’s most beautiful parts: the monumental area of Belém with its World Heritage monuments, the mediaeval quarters and the latest contemporary leisure spaces, such as the Parque das Nações.

Lisbon is Portugal’s capital and the hub of a multifaceted area that appeals to different tastes and senses.

In a city that has been influenced by many different far-off cultures over time, there is still a village feel in each historic neighbourhood. Stroll through the Pombaline grid of streets in the Baixa district that opens on to the Tagus in Praça do Comércio, then follow the river to discover some of the city’s most beautiful parts: the monumental area of Belém with its World Heritage monuments, the mediaeval quarters and the latest contemporary leisure spaces, such as the Parque das Nações.

If you continue to the mouth of the river, you’ll understand why we say that Lisbon is the centre of a vast resort. Along the coastal road you’ll find beaches and beach resorts that combine villas and hotels from the beginning of the 20th century with marinas, terraces and excellent golf courses. Further along the coast you’ll come across world-renowned surfing beaches, but also the palaces scattered across the cultural landscape of Sintra, a World Heritage Site.