December 16, 2013
Laughter Yoga Helps Overcome Grief
Although I am a Certified Yoga Teacher, laughter yoga was not around when I started my training, but what a concept! Laughter is great medicine. It stirs our healthy hormones and it makes us feel better. Although I could not find a laughter yoga class or laughter club in the United States, they are a growing phenomenon. If there’s not a class near you, you can purchase the DVD’s or join a Laughter club through Skype or on the phone! They thought of everything!
Here’s the link: http://www.laughteryoga.org/english/home
In the meantime, this short skit by George Carlin always makes me chuckle! Been there done that with my “stuff”.
Grief and Physical Stress
By Elizabeth Harper Neeld, Ph.D.
Grieving is hard work and takes a huge toll on our bodies. When we are responding to a loss, the part of our brain where responses are integrated increases the production of CRH, a hormone that produces anxiety-like symptoms. Emergency-mobilizing chemicals are released. As our stress increases, the chemical levels increase; and our central nervous system becomes highly stimulated. Our breathing may become defective. Biological rhythms of sleeping and eating are disturbed. Our digestion, metabolism, circulation and respiration change. Our ability to concentrate and pay attention decreases.
Grieving can actually change the environment in the belly, intestines and bowels. “I feel as if I’ve been hit in the stomach,” we might say. “My stomach is in knots,” someone else may offer as a description of the physical stress triggered by a loss. These reactions can actually rearrange the muscles and sometimes even our body’s skeleton, in particular patterns for particular lengths of time. We may make sounds, like a moan or a growl. Our brain produces pictures that upset us even more.
Often the physical stress of grieving will cause us to lose coordination. We fall more easily. We don’t run our daily lives as smoothly as we did. Even simple things seem hard to do. Our brain and our eyes don’t coordinate the way they did before the loss. We are prone to have more accidents. We get more colds. Our immune system is compromised. We tire easily.
Numerous diseases are linked to grieving. This does not mean that grief causes the diseases. But research does suggest that there can be a connection between the stress of grieving and the appearance of certain diseases. Here’s just a partial list: cardiovascular disorders, cancer, pernicious anemia, ulcerative colitis, leukemia, lymphoma, lupus, pneumonia, diabetes, influenza, glaucoma. Dr. Erich Lindemann adds to that list: high blood pressure, chronic itching, rheumatoid arthritis. And Dr. Glen Davidson adds: chronic depression, alcoholism, drug dependency and malnutrition.
What Can We Do
There’s an ancient Chinese saying, “To name a thing is to tame it.” The most important thing is to understand that we are in a state of emergency. It is always good to get a complete physical checkup at least within the first five months of grieving the loss of someone central in our lives.
And on a daily basis we can do things like this:
- Taking sufficient time off from work
- Eating as well as you can
- Drinking water
- Loafing and Resting
- Moving our bodies—a walk, bike ride, swimming
- Getting massages
- Listening to music
- Simplifying our schedules
- Cutting out activities that take up time and energy we don’t now have
- Praying and meditating
- Talking to a professional
Dr. Elizabeth Harper Neeld offers wisdom and practical insights born of personal experience to people rebuilding their lives after suffering grief and loss. As an internationally recognized and accomplished consultant, advisor, and author of more than twenty books – including Tough Transitions and Seven Choices: Finding Daylight After Loss Shatters Your World – she is committed to work that helps lift the human spirit.
Healthy New England “Glam” Chowder
Cold weather here in the Northeast creates a yearning for hearty food. My husband was craving New England Clam Chowder so I found, through one of my favorite vegan cooks, Isa Chadra Moskowitz, the perfect substitute, her New England “Glam” Chowder. It is delicious!
1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
2 cups vegetable broth
4 teaspoons organic cornstarch
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
2 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into 1/4 inch thick half moons
3 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
8 oz white button mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
3/4 teaspoon salt, more to taste
Fresh black pepper
1 to 2 nori sheets, finely chopped (see note above)
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Optional: fresh chopped parsley or chives for garnish
Saltines for crushing over the top
Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium heat. Saute onion and carrots in the olive oil with a pinch of salt, for about 10 minutes, until carrots are softened.
In the meantime, we’ll make the cashew cream. Drain the cashews and add them to the blender along with the vegetable broth and cornstarch. Blend like crazy, until smooth. This can take anywhere from one to five minutes depending on your machine. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula every now and again to make sure you get everything.
Back to the soup. Add mushrooms and celery. Cook briefly, for about 3 minutes, just until mushrooms are softened. You want them to keep their texture.
Add the potatoes, salt, pepper, nori and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Be careful to keep a close eye so as not to overcook them or they will turn into mush.
Stir in the cashew cream mixture, and gently heat, uncovered, for about 7 minutes, until nicely thickened. Add the tomato paste and lemon juice and taste for salt and seasoning. Add a little extra water if it seems too thick. Serve garnished with parsley or chives, if you like, and a few saltine crackers. A wedge of lemon looks pretty, too.