I've committed to leaving all grains behind for a month to see how I feel, after listening to a lecture by Dr. William Davis on the undigestible protein called gliadin found in the gluten chain that act like opiates in the brain and overtime creates leaky gut in the intestines as well as a whole host of other issues. Our grains have been genetically modified to grow bigger, and be more resilient to pesticides and this alone has caused secondary issues in our bodies, and further and worse, foods labeled gluten free are often simply filled with more grain just different, rice flour and teff, amaranth, and ultimately the processing adds harmful ingredients and the sugar content is through the roof just to make them taste better . So even if you are not celiac, which I am not, but am gluten sensitive, it is still a grim story Dr. Davis tells us of the negative impact of grains in our bodies.
I am curious enough to see how I will feel with no grains to try it for a month. It's been relatively easy, though I will admit I do miss my sushi rice and corn tortillas. I have begun to find substitutes, konjac flour based "miracle noodles or miracle rice" isn't awful but making "tortillas" from chickpea flour has definitely been my new favorite go to. I am all about whole foods and clean eating but I need varying textures and this does the trick, crunchy on the edges and thin, a little salty and perfect for holding a myriad of things. Today it was a pistachio coated seared ahi tuna, smoked black bean hummus and avocado-d mustard greens.
I'm making this while listening to Alan Watts speaking on spirituality and competition in spiritual practice, his voice was sampled for an album and I can't help but laugh, when I think of our drive towards enlightenment, our incessant posting through social media and think, he's right, "spiritual one upmanship" is a real thing and the ego wants in on it anyway it can, I catch myself thinking I need to do more, offer more, learn more and often have to put myself back in place by stepping back and going to my breath.
Nadhi Shodhana is a breath work that balances the hemispheres in the brain, that balances yin and yang in the body and activates the parasympathetic nervous system allowing the body to find rest internally. The stress response of the sympathetic nervous system cannot co exist with an activated parasympathetic nervous system which is quite an amazing thing, to put it simply, you cannot be serene and calm if you are being chased by a bear. The sympathetic nervous system is our "fight and flight" response, it is the body's reaction to stress, only the body and brain think the stress say of every day life is actually a bear chasing us and so it begins to muster the energy and resilience to escape from the bear. This is great, only our "bear" was probably just us watching the news about how many more cases of the virus are in our area, or our children yelling behind us, or even as simple a thing as thinking too much about the past or future. These everyday stressors happen one after the other everyday, makes the body and mind think there is always a bear chasing us and doesn't allow for the body and mind to rest and repair, heal, digest well. So understanding that we may not be able to eliminate all the stressors in life, that that isn't even the goal but instead it is to balance our reactions, create the ever illusive inner calm and grace in the face of all stressors, we turn to activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Biologically, the parasympathetic nervous system reduces cortisol levels, restores adrenal function depleted by the sympathetic nervous system, alters brainwaves back into calm mode, signals the body it can refocus on healing and repairing itself, like growing lustrous hair, sleeping, digesting well, slowing the heart rate, brightening the skin, and balancing the emotional responses. No amount of kale smoothies or supplements alone will assist the body in these rebalancing functions if the body is constantly in the sympathetic nervous system. Getting into the parasympathetic therefore to make our diets work for us is critical. Read that again.
Getting the body into the parasympathetic happens in many ways, cold water therapy does it, hot baths do it, journaling happy thoughts do it, taking a walk in nature or a slow moving practice such as tai chi or qi gong and of course yoga does it. But even more basic at putting us back into "rest and digest" mode is breathing. So let's get to the how. Nadhi Shodhana is quite a simple technique, find a comfy seat where you aware of your spine, sit upright and take your hand to your face, see below:
Alan Watts for Blond:ish