It was only a matter of time until our girl amethyst showed up. If you listen to the Sage Sisters podcast (“Health, Spirituality, Crystals, Shungite, and Ayahuasca” or “Crystals 101″) you’ll understand why amethyst is the crystal. One of their guests even said he didn’t want amethyst to be his favorite crystal because it’s so mainstream, but it’s just such a classic it had to be.
What it’s for: Amethyst is known as a powerful healing stone and it is associated with the third eye chakra. The vibes are good and high helping create a space of harmony. It is important in dispelling negative energy and aiding the user in trusting their intuition.
Amethyst is helpful when it comes to making decisions. From its connection to the third eye chakra, amethyst gives its user mental clarity which helps remove emotion from decision making. It is also helpful when it comes to setting realistic goals.
For all of these reasons, amethyst is great for meditation. You can use the mental clarity that you gain to visualize your goals and aspirations. This is the year of manifesting what we want!
How I use it: I actually have two amethysts in my collection. I have one large one and a smaller one (much more travel sized). In the days leading up to starting the spring semester I sat and meditated with amethyst at the top of my yoga mat, and at the end of my practice I balanced the smaller piece on my third eye chakra as I thought about what I wanted to accomplish this semester.
Welcome back to the second installment of Sunflowers & Selenite! Today I’m going to share about the second crystal I added to my collection. After talking to the owner of Vibrate Higher, she recommended this one to me.
What’s it for: Pink tourmaline brings joy and self love to its user. It also helps with releasing guilt, stress, and tension. Pink tourmaline is associated with the heart and root chakras. If your heart chakra is blocked this will help open it and allow energy to free through the body. While energy flows more freely when any chakra is unblocked, I think the heart is the most important as it is the middle chakra, connecting the upper and lower body.
Some common uses for pink tourmaline:
creating a sense of relaxation or peace
as part of a self care routine
to increase self confidence
Due to these properties pink tourmaline is often recommended for people who have anxiety, depression, insomnia, or are grieving. While I do think it is beneficial to have a physical reminder to meditate I wanted to share a friendly reminder: if you can benefit from seeing a doctor, reach out to a physician/psychologist. While I do believe that your mind is incredibly powerful, we all need a little help sometimes. There is no shame in reaching out to someone.
Another purpose that I stumbled across in my research is that pink tourmaline is for serving humanity. Coming from a school with a focus on “being leaders in service to humanity”, pink tourmaline definitely resonates with me. It seems like the wand really does chose the wizard.
How I use it: Up until very recently this was one of the crystals I meditated with every day. Now that I have a wider variety of crystals to meditate with I am trying to mix it up based on whatever I’m feeling that day. However pink tourmaline is still in frequent rotation.
Welcome to a new weekly segment here on Sunflowers and Seersucker: Sunflowers & Selenite! In my quest to learn all about my newest obsession (crystals), I’ve found there are so many different places to find information so I wanted to streamline it all onto here.
To start out I’ll be sharing the crystals that I have in my collection, but if you’re curious about another one I’d be more than happy to put something together, so let me know in the comments!
First up, what this series is named after: selenite.
Selenite was my first crystal, I got it in my smudge kit from Vibrate Higher at Wanderlust this past summer (you can read more about Wanderlust here). The more I learned about it the more I learned it is a perfect crystal.
What it’s for: vibrating higher (are you sick of me saying that yet?). Selenite is associated with the third eye and crown chakra.
How I use it: As I said earlier this was my first crystal so this is the first crystal I ever used to meditate. To meditate I either hold it in one hand or put it on my forehead (that was before I learned it was associated with the third eye chakra, a complete coincidence but I’ll take it).
This is also a cleansing crystal so I will also wave it over other crystals before smudging it. “Marissa, what the heck does that mean?” you may be asking. When you’re using them to meditate, crystals are said to pick up on the vibrations you are giving off. So after you use one for awhile it’s supposed to be good to get rid of all that energy so it can be fully charged the next time you need to use it. Selenite is great for removing negative energy.
I can feel my AP bio teacher cringing right about now, but I’ll go on.
The last way I use it is in my pocket. Before I started reading about how other people used crystals/listening to the Sage Sisters podcast, I didn’t realize other people stuffed crystals in their bras. As a proud member of the IBTC, I choose to put them in my pocket instead. I started doing it for tests and quizzes as a reminder to stay calm. I had it in my pocket for all my exams, quizzes, and practicals this semester and I did pretty well for myself.
Another crazy coincidence, I didn’t know selenite is for memory, mental clarity, and intuition when I started using it for test taking stress relief. While I’m not saying selenite gives me the power to memorize pi, I can’t help but point out it’s easier to recall information when you’re focused on all the things you know rather than in a state of panic.
I share all of this information so you guys know what I’m doing but I want to remind you of one thing: there is no right and wrong when it comes to crystals. It’s pretty fun when you find things that line up but there is no rule book, except don’t put your selenite in water- it’s a soft mineral!
This is the time of year for goals and resolutions, but my focus in 2020 is a mantra.
I am vibrating higher.
You may be asking, what does that even mean. And when I first heard it in August I really had no idea either.
I had never been into meditation. Even as someone that loves yoga, I spent my savasanas making checklists of everything that had to be done later. I took my first meditation class at Wanderlust a two years ago and I’m pretty sure I just took a nap. Fast forward to this year, David Ji led the meditation. I laid town on my mat (typical) but something he said at the beginning of our practice really stuck out to me. I wish I could remember what exactly he said but he brought up vibrating higher, and when we vibrate higher we are more in tune with the world around us and less trapped inside ourselves. And so I paid attention for the next 20 minutes intrigued at this idea of attracting good vibes by having good vibes.
Later that afternoon, while we were walking around the market we came across a store called Vibrate Higher, this is where I got my “calm is a superpower” tank so if you need one check it out! I don’t think the universe could have sent me a louder message. In her shop I saw a smudging kit specifically for vibrating higher (selenite crystal, palo santo wood, and mantra included) and I thought no better time than the present to start this journey.
And so far, it’s paid off! I think half the battle is believing that you are raising your vibration and that good things are coming to you.
So what does vibrating higher look like to me?
Meditating: yes, the girl who used meditation as a nap time, now tries to meditate for at least a few breaths every day.
Crystals: I use these with meditation or I put one in my pocket when I have exams as a way to remind myself to stay grounded and in the present.
Smudging: I smudged my apartment before I moved in and I continue to smudge it every Sunday night to prep for the week ahead. I personally use palo santo wood but I keep learning about new things that have different values. Jut make sure where you get your palo santo wood from is ethically sourced!
Exercising: whether it’s yoga or something else, I always feel better after moving.
Youtube: I’ve started listening to high frequency playlists when I’m studying or need background music now.
Breathing: I’ve started doing three part breathing after reading Yoga Mind by Suzan Colon earlier this year. I took a yoga class yesterday morning for the first time this year and she had joked with one of the participants don’t wince just breathe. And it had started as a light hearted comment but then she said, “imagine the world we would live in if instead of wincing people took a deep breath.” And that is going to be something I really try to incorporate into my life, every time something doesn’t go as planned I’m going to take a few deep breaths and send my energy to that place just as I would if I was in chair pose and my quads were on fire.
But this may not be what vibrating higher looks like for you! So start scouring the internet and find what makes you your best self!
The light in me honors the light in each of you, namaste.
Finals week is drawing nearer, and stress levels are rising. As part of my “Mental Health Mondays” series I wanted to share something I learned my first semester of PT school that has resonated with me.
I’m a yoga teacher and I think that means I’m pretty much drawn to affirmations and mantras. One night at the weekly tutoring session right before my first grad school exam, our tutor shared her “Smart Person Affirmation” with us. Naturally, one of my friends and I memorized it and we say it together before every exam.
I am a smart person. I know things.
When I don’t know things, I guess. I am a good guesser.
Nine times out of ten my first choice is the right choice.
I will use the test to take the test.
I want to pass. My teachers want me to pass.
And therefore I shall pass.
When saying it with friends I would take turns telling each other you want them to pass. You can also swap out “my teacher” for the actual professor’s name (we’ve had a few teachers tell us of course they want us to pass as they hear us saying this).
The most important part of this is to actually believe the words you are saying. The mind is a powerful tool and life is way easier when your attitude backs you up!
Cue the usual, “it’s been so long since I posted” intro.
Today I had such a great experience I wanted to share my thoughts as soon as I got home from lab and could open my laptop. Here’s the deal, I go to the counseling center at my college. It’s something that I’m not necessarily ashamed of but I also don’t share that as my fun fact when I’m meeting someone new. I’ve contemplated sharing my experiences with counseling on here before but I didn’t feel really compelled to do it until now. I briefly talked about it in my post about “The Most Important Lessons College Taught Me” but today was such a great day I just need to put it out there. If you’re reading this waiting for your sign to go to counseling: this is it. This is the sign!
I’ve seen positive changes in myself.
I used to be just a whole ball of stress. It’s actually funny because before exams people would always tell me how calm I was and mentally I would say, “If only you knew.” And here’s the thing, being stressed is good. It shows you care, but too much of anything isn’t good. And there’s a fine line between wanting to do well and obsessing over it. At some point stress isn’t helpful, it only hinders you. Last year the stress was just too much and even during exams if I started to get stressed I’d be sitting there thinking “okay let’s just get an 83” instead of actually thinking about what was on the exam! Isn’t it crazy that we let ourselves waste so much energy going down the negative thoughts rabbit hole.
Fast forward to this year, I feel so much calmer. When people tell me I’m calm I think, “of course I am, I’m vibrating higher.” A whole post on that is coming up soon! I don’t feel compelled to stay up until God knows when reading the slides “one more time”. I can appreciate all the effort I put into studying and when I’m taking an exam I can think through what I do know so that I can logically figure it out. I’ve even seen improvement in my confidence in my practical skills and patient interactions. I’m not saying I never get stressed anymore because that’s just not realistic but I’m much better at reeling it in than I used to be.
Other people have seen positive changes in me.
This was the reason I was inspired to write this post. Today I had a meeting with my academic advisor and she asked me how I was doing this semester. Just to give you a little background, I went to her office maybe four or five times last spring, and I cried three or four of those times. There were some times last year where I was just like I don’t know how anyone can do this, I don’t think I can do this. My advisor has known me since I was a freshman and she told me that prior to starting the grad phase, I had the grades to do this and that I just needed to figure out how to handle all of this new stress. So I continued going to the counseling center and working on myself and when I had my meeting with my advisor today it went completely differently.
When she asked me how I was doing and I told her that I was doing much better in my classes and I was just overall more confident in myself she told me that she saw it too. It’s one thing to have that feeling that you really are doing well but to have that validation from someone else is unreal. A year before she had been my proctor for my modalities check off and I failed. I set everything up correctly and said my parameters but when asked to repeat them I had doubted myself and changed my answer. This semester I had her as my proctor for my mobilizations practical and I went in so much calmer than I had been the year before. Just the mindset I went in with set me so far ahead. When she asked me to repeat the type of mobilization I chose I did so as if there could not possibly be another right answer. And I earned myself an A.
After my advising meeting, I was driving to the library to pick up a book I had on hold and “Good as Hell” came on the radio and can I just say I was 100% feeling good as hell. And once I finish writing this post I’ll be adding that to my vibrate higher playlist.
Mental health is just as important as physical health.
Yes, I’ll say it louder for the people in the back, mental health is just as important as physical health. Maybe it’s just the Springfield College spirit, mind, and body philosophy in me but it’s true! You are your best self when you take care of yourself! You can read more about me talking about how I balance my triangle here.
Life is hard.
I can’t imagine a better reason! I truly believe that everyone can benefit from counseling at some point in their life. Just because you start going doesn’t mean you’re stuck going every week for the rest of your life. I’ve actually gone to counseling twice now, I went second semester of my sophomore year and then I started going again the fall of my senior year.
I think in some cases counseling is very similar to physical therapy in that the goal is to not have you go forever. While there are some people that may benefit for being in counseling for the long haul (and there’s nothing wrong with that!) most people don’t need to go once a week for the rest of their life. Here’s one more tip: your therapist cannot fix all your problems. You fix all your problems by implementing the strategies you learned in counseling.
And there it is, the reasons why I go to counseling. My hope in sharing this is that it adds to the already present conversation that counseling isn’t for crazy people, it’s for everyone.
Just a reminder, a good counseling relationship is just that, a relationship. It may take you time to find someone that you really click with so don’t give up if your first counselor isn’t the one!
Today’s Wellness Wednesday is going to be all about a really cool restaurant I went to a few weeks ago: Plant City PVD. I recently became a vegetarian (I gave up meat for Lent and then just never went back) and so I’m always looking for new alternatives. While a plant-based diet is not for everyone, there are definitely some health benefits to eating less meat when it comes to heart disease and diabetes. Just being conscious of how much or what kind of meat you have can improve your risk of certain diseases. Click here to learn about a flexitarian diet.
I saw Plant City PVD while I was looking around the Providence Flea and I was intrigued. I was even a little confused on whether “plant-based” meant the whole place was vegetarian. They have a market, a coffee counter, a burger restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, and an Italian restaurant all wrapped into one. We decided on Italian and I really wanted to get the meatballs but I still had no idea if plant-based meant plants-only. When the waitress came back she told us everything in the building was vegan! Can you imagine?!
And so I ordered the meatballs! I will definitely be heading back to Providence to get it again, although next time I’m trying the pepperoni pizza! So if you’re in the Ocean State and looking to try something new you need to try Plant City.
You have my word, even though they don’t use quotes on the menu, everything is vegan!
Today’s Wellness Wednesday is a track workout and I have included a few different options so you can pick whichever one you feel the most comfortable with. Just remember you should do some type of dynamic warm up before hitting the track.
I wanted to share different running workouts because I spent 6 years running cross country and track and some days I miss it. After running a 5k a few weeks ago I thought, I should really train for these things. In the hopes that I will use these workouts in preparation for my next race I figured I might as well share them here!
While I ran track for a very long time I hate running on tracks. To me, the endless circles are boring, I’d rather have a change of scenery. But since that’s not always an options, I’ll give you a workout which is all about a chance of pace.
Jog 100 meters
Run 200 meters
Walk 100 meters
Repeat 4 times
I’ve always liked these types of workouts because the constant changing gives me something to think about other than “how much longer????”. If you want to add some distance, repeat the whole thing two more times and you are practically at a 5k!
If you are going for speed this is the workout for you. While this was a workout I couldn’t stand in high school it definitely helps improve split times. Another team in our league had shirts that said, “to run fast you must run fast”, and while we always rolled our eyes when we read it it’s true. If you want to get faster, you need to practice faster.
12 x 400 meter sprints
Take a two minute rest in between each 400
Take a two-five minute rest in between each mile
You can calculate split times here. If you are training for a 5k, put in the time you’d like to finish it and select 400m for the split times and you are good to go!
This one is a long one but it was another one of my favorites in high school because things are constantly changing. And it will get you 4 miles once you are done.
Be sure to take a slow jog or a walk in between your sets!
That’s all I have for you today! Let me know your favorite track workout in the comments!
Today’s Wellness Wednesday is a little different than usual. While we’ll still be talking about the human body, it’s not in the way you may be expecting.
This Sunday I was at the Museum of Science in Boston/Cambridge (the museum is actually split between Boston and Cambridge) and I got to see the Body World exhibit and it was amazing!
I went to see Bodies: The Exhibition when I took anatomy in high school and now that I have taken two more years of anatomy I feel like my appreciation for the human body and traveling exhibitions has only grown.
One thing that really amazed me about Body Worlds was that it was educational beyond just the bodies. They had rooms dedicated to different body systems and would include education about how to remain healthy through diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices in each section. As someone who just learned about workplace ergonomics one of my favorite parts was the video about adjusting posture while sitting at a desk and a model about proper lifting technique. I may be on summer break but it was a great way to review some key concepts from last semester!
My favorite part of the exhibit besides being able to look at the bodies was the section on centenarians. Body Worlds featured a few people who have made it to 100 years old and had them speak about their lifestyles. While diet and exercise was mentioned, they centenarians also talked about their role in society. One woman discussed how important it was for her to be able to still be an active participant in her life, she still volunteers in her community and spends time with friends and family.
When you leave Body Worlds you can pick up a chip and pledge to make a lifestyle choice that will improve your quality of life. I was happy to see “exercise more” had a ton of pledges but since mental health is just as important as physical health, I pledged to stress less.
But let’s get to the good stuff! The bodies! They are preserved through a process called Plastination and were absolutely amazing. It’s no secret I am a huge nerd when it comes to this kind of thing but they were breathtaking. You could see each of the muscles so clearly and the bodies were posed in such interesting ways, I could go on and on.
It wasn’t just the bodies that were on display, they had the nervous system and plastic replicas of the heart and all of it’s arteries and veins. The nervous system had to be the wildest thing for me because I was able to just stare at the brachial plexus I had learned about in class and look at in our cadavers but there it was laid out in front of me connected to all of the other nerves in the body.
I know not everyone may want to actually see the bodies so here is your warning: the donors are below!!
That’s it for my review of the exhibit itself but I encourage you to keep reading below and learn about how these companies get the bodies. It’s an important discussion to have so let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Something important to keep in mind when looking into these types of exhibits: where the donors come from. In our anatomy class our professor mentioned that while these traveling exhibits are informative they don’t always get their bodies in the right way. Body Worlds’ donors come from people in Europe and the United States who have agreed to donating their bodies to medical students and the general public to learn from. Body Worlds is even stricter with their donations now after discovering some of their bodies were coming from Russian human trafficking rings. In an interview with NPR the founder of Body Worlds said, “What I certainly never use for public exhibitions are unclaimed bodies, prisoners, bodies from mental institutions and executed prisoners.” The key phrase here is public exhibitions. The founder of Body Worlds has admitted to selling unclaimed bodies for educational purposes. These bodies come from Chinese medical schools and have no written confirmation.
Bodies: The Exhibition is another story. The spokesperson for the company openly admits the bodies on display are unclaimed. The founder of this traveling cadaver company used to work with Body Worlds and then created a rival. This is the exhibition I had seen in high school and while it was one of my favorite field trips I had ever gone on, knowing that these bodies may not have been acquired in an ethical manner makes me cringe. But at least they are honest about not being able to verify who was donated to them.
So what can you do with this information? Weigh the options. Both companies have some shady deals going on, whether it’s the bodies they display publicly or sell to medical schools they both obtain bodies in an unethical way. If this is something you are really interested in seeing you just have to decide if you’d rather look at the bodies that were donated or if you are okay with seeing bodies who were not willing but the company is upfront about the means of getting them.
All of the information on donors to Body Worlds and Bodies: The Exhibition came from two NPR articles from 2006. While it is older information, this is the most trustworthy website I could come across.
That’s all I have for you this Wednesday! Stay tuned next week for a more traditional Wellness Wednesday post!
I am starting to bring Wellness Wednesdays back! As a physical therapy student we spent so much time during the spring semester talking about health and wellness promotion and getting people active. The CDC says adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise a week. Since I am a group exercise instructor I wanted to share some easy workouts with you guys that can be done at home.
As a group ex instructor I see the value in creating a community to exercise. If I don’t head to the gym with a plan sometimes I leave feeling like I didn’t accomplish too much. However if I plan to take a Zumba class I know I will show up and work hard. So even if you aren’t going to the gym to do these workouts definitely reach out to see if a friend wants to join you. Having other people to help you be accountable makes it a little easier.
Easy ways to incorporate moderate-intensity exercise into your day:
Walking/jogging/running around your neighborhood. If you feel like you don’t have time to set aside to do this, try walking to your errands. The post office and the library are about two miles away from my house, so some days I end up walking there. You can also run there and then walk back once you’ve picked up your stuff!
Find YouTube videos of exercises you want to do! If you don’t have a gym membership or feel like you can’t make t to the gym on a certain day check to see what’s available on YouTube. Here are some of my favorites: POPSUGAR Fitness has great Zumba and kickboxing classes. BohoBeautiful has an awesome 21 Day Pilates Challenge that I wrote about awhile back. Alo Yoga is always posting yoga videos and mindfulness challenges to their channel. And The Fitness Marshall is my absolute fav! He has fitness dance classes to popular songs. This is something that my whole freshman year floor did together all the time so it always brings back good memories. My favorites are: Dessert and 7 Rings.
Bike around your neighborhood! If you live in a city and need a bike you can probably rent one! Most cities have bike sharing programs now and in Boston you can rent one for $2.50 per half hour!
Find out what’s being offered! Now that summer is here, there are a ton of discounts floating around. You can try a new yoga studio for $30 for 30 days, or you can see what’s offered. A lot of parks will have free or super cheap exercise classes just to get people outside!
Here are some workouts I’m planning to share on the blog soon!
You can find out more about the guidelines the CDC has for different groups here!