NOTES TO SELF – Page 2 – Ode to Self Skincare and Wellness
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NOTES TO SELF

Digging Deep: How This Therapist Uses Mindfulness and Why It's a Powerful Tool

Digging Deep: How This Therapist Uses Mindfulness and Why It's a Powerful Tool

This week, we have a guest post from an amazing therapist that we've had the opportunity to speak with and meet via Zoom chat. Cryssa Andersen is a therapist based in Newport Beach, California, who owns and operates her own private practice, Third Way Counseling. In this post, we explore what mindfulness really is and how it's incorporated into therapy and the benefits that comes with practicing it daily.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is 1) paying attention, 2) in the present moment, 3) with a non-judgmental attitude. And that is really hard! We are so used to living our lives fast, plugged in, and multitasking to the extreme. The same old advice If you read any self-help article about this, you will be advised to “slow down”, “unplug”, or “practice self-care.” While that is good advice, it is really hard to do because we have created secondary-gain when it comes to “being busy”. Being busy allows us to not have to look at ourselves, to not have to see that the life we are living is empty, to not have to realize that we really aren’t very happy at all…and who wants to see that?

Avoidance 

We have become a culture that is great at avoiding, so while advice about how to be more mindful might be true, our defense are going to keep us numb and moving too fast to notice. Which leads me to the real point of this article - maybe mindfulness in this sense is less about taking care of ourselves, and more about slowing down enough to realize what we might be running from (which really is taking care of yourself.)

So, how does this work?

I tell my clients to work on noticing, because we can’t fix what isn’t in your awareness - and often times, mindfulness is the tool that gets us there. I find that curiosity works best. One of the easiest ways to start being mindful, is to be more curious about your experience. We work backwards into self-awareness. We go from: “oh, I did that “thing (insert whatever thought, feeling, emotion, behavior, experience here) earlier today” - to “I can feel myself doing it now…” - to “I can tell I am about to go down that road.” And from there, all I ask is that you notice - and then give yourself a mental tally mark, noting the experience. There is no judgement here, no seeking to understand it, no explanations, no analyzing - just noticing. Often times, clients come back to tell me that they had no idea they were doing (insert whatever thought, feeling, emotion, behavior, experience here) so often! Crazy, right?

And then comes change…

When we can we learn to be curious about our experience, we naturally start to be more mindful. And the more mindful we are - the better we are at paying attention. When we actually are aware of our thoughts, emotions and behaviors, we can then evaluate if they are helpful and take us where we want to go, or see if they are unhelpful and keep us stuck in the same damaging ruts. Change doesn’t happen without choice, and most of us need to realize that there are other choices out there. Therapy is the catalyst for all of this. You are paying good money to get help with your problems and working with a therapist, someone who is outside of both your head and your life, can help you start to see things from another perspective. This alone can be terrifying, but is often necessary when it comes to shifting the dynamic of your thoughts, emotions and actions. Going to therapy in itself is a mindfulness practice - sitting there, really having to look at yourself, to see what is there, and to come out the other side as you change. Beautiful!

 

 

Cryssa Andersen, LMFT is the owner/operator of Third Way Counseling, located in Newport Beach, CA. Her work specializes in adults and teens who struggle with anxiety. When not engaged in her work, Cryssa is usually running, reading, or camping with her husband and son.

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The Benefits of Using a Body Oil featuring Dusk Body + Hair Oil

The Benefits of Using a Body Oil featuring Dusk Body + Hair Oil

We want to take a moment to introduce our soon-to-come family member, Dusk.

Dusk is our body and hair oil that will be available for pre-order on July 23rd, which is the founder's birthday (HOORAY!). But, we wanted to give you a little education on what Dusk is and what the name came from, why we've developed it, and what a body oil can specifically do for you. 

With our products, we wanted to set the theme to things that make the founder reminisce on her childhood and upbringing in South Carolina. SC is a beautiful place and a state that has the most beautiful backdrop when it comes to love stories. As you know, the famous movie, the Notebook, was shot in the Charleston area of South Carolina. To pay homage in a way to my home state, I named Ode to Self's line of products to reflect on the elements of SC that evoke euphoric memories living in the Palmetto state while growing up there.

Dusk came from the sunsets in the summer that I experienced as a kid and how they often resembled romance as a teen into my high school and college years. It reminds me of slowing down, the world pausing as I'm enjoying the humid nights, and everything just seems glow - skin, smiles, eyes, love - life itself. For the body oil, I thought that naming it Dusk was fitting because of the nostalgic feeling that crept up on me as said the name and envisioned the body oil. 

Dusk contains several, star, organic oils that derive from Brazil to Africa. The nature of these oils are to repair, heal, hydrate, and defend. Those ingredients, like our other products, are all brought together to work synergistically in order to provide the maximum amount of benefits that they have to offer, especially for drier, sensitive skin and healing skin ailments such as eczema, psoriasis, stretchmarks, and more.

Let's look at the key ingredients in Dusk, as outlined below and what they're able to do:

  • Cape Chestnut possess natural sunscreen properties, which is used by the African women of the Maasai tribe to protect their skin from the harsh heat that they face.
  • Buriti fruit oil is rich in Vitamin A, which is a naturally occurring SPF factor to protect against harmful UV rays.
  • Pequi Oil contains a potent amount of Vitamin C and known as "God's nectar" due to its firming, elastic, healthy, and supple skin properties--higher than the amount of oranges and lemons.
  • Manuka helps to help scars and promotes generation of scar tissue and may inhibit the effects of skin inflammation caused by UV rays.
  • Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant and helps to improve elasticity in the skin. It has been proven to fight free radicals which ages the skin prematurely due to sun damage and UV damage, dry skin, and simple aging as you grow and get older. Vitamin E helps to slow the aging process of your skin's cells.

The remaining ingredients are Maracuja oil, also known as Passion Fruit oil, Marula Oil, and Squalane. These oils are easily absorbed by the skin and deeply penetrates without leaving an oily residue. Squalane is one of the ingredients that's found in our De Palma Facial Oil as "squalene", which is it's main form, is produced by our own skin. Thus, our skin readily absorbs squalane and helps to regulate sebum production to reduce oiliness in the skin. Most people stay away from body oils because they believe it'll make them feel oily. That's simply not the case, as oils contain the fats, protein, and vitamins that our skin craves that simply lotions and water alone cannot fulfill. 

Additionally, it's a known fact that oil cannot penetrate water. However, applying water before an oil can help to lock moisture into the skin, as oils aid in transepidermal water loss, or simply put, TEWL. This is to help keep water in the skin's cells, which is imperative to the skin's functionality. Oil molecules are bigger than water, hence the reason as to why oil cannot penetrate water and often suggested to be the last step in your skincare routine.

Dusk is amazing at moisturizing the skin without feel greasy, while working to protect the skin from harmful UV rays and inhibits damaging free-radicals. I encourage you to try out Dusk as a sample for just $3.00. You'll love it, and it's a staple that is needed for both the summer and colder months ahead. 

 

 

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Our 30-Day Wellness Ritual Challenge Begins Today

Our 30-Day Wellness Ritual Challenge Begins Today

We previously mentioned that we'd be beginning a wellness ritual routine challenge earlier when we first launched. It's the first of July and we're excited to challenge ourselves to be a better version than who we are today.  

With the wellness ritual challenge, the thought behind it is to help you cultivate a better routine when it comes to taking care of yourself. Coming from a place of a person who has anxiety, I understand what can happen when we're thrown off balance and highly stressed out. In an effort to re-center ourselves, and myself of course, we've created this "challenge" to help regulate the mind, create healthier habits that lead to longevity, and a better quality of life.

I want us to also take a look at practicing Ayurveda and ayurvedic habits. First we must look at what Ayurveda means.

Ayurveda is the practice and belief of Indian traditional and holistic medicine to heal the mind and body that was developed more than 3,000 to 5,000 years ago. A lot of people incorporate ayurvedic habits in their day to day lives. Perhaps you've heard of mindful or intuitive eating? That's an ayurvedic practice. According to YogaJournal.com, "Ayurveda is a healing practice that will bring health and vibrancy to all aspects of your life." 

For the first day of the challenge, take time out of your day once you get home from work, going out, or about to settle in to watch TV, to stop and meditate for about 5 to 10 minutes. Meditation seems so boring, I know. But, it allows us to connect with ourselves on a spiritual level and clear our minds in a sense. 

"Meditation: Process and Effects", an article written by Hari Sharma, states, "The practice of meditation originated in the ancient Vedic times of India and is described in the ancient Vedic texts. Meditation is one of the modalities used in Ayurveda (Science of Life), the comprehensive, natural health care system that originated in the ancient Vedic times of India." Sharma also states that "According to Vedic science, the true purpose of meditation is to connect oneself to one's deep inner Self."

Techniques to meditation varies, however, it's important to note that it is not about controlling your mind, or forcing yourself to be calm and counting out all distractions. Meditation is also not a unaffordable luxury, nor do you need any special equipment. While it is important that you do make your space comfortable, you're not driving, or in the middle of Times Square, all you simple need is a yoga mat, rug, floor, or pillow (for comfort mainly), and a timer. Sit in cross legged position, eyes closed, back upright, and practice breathing for about 10 rounds of slowly inhaling and exhaling. Feel yourself breathing in and out, and then proceed to let your mind run amok, while practicing how to pause and bring your thoughts back to center. 

Based on the New York Times Well Guide, "You don’t need to pull your attention right back to the breath. Instead, let go of whatever it was you were thinking about, reopen your attention, then gently return your awareness to the breath, being present for each inhalation and exhalation." (Gelles, Brach)

In the How to Mediate article by Gelles, Tara Brach stated that “Where we build our skill is in the practice of coming back. Coming back again and again. Notice it — thinking — and then pause, and then come back to the present moment.” (Gelles).

Meditation has been proven to be effective in a vast majority of studies, especially within patients of cancer, multiple sclerosis, and more. (Sharma 2015) In the conclusion, Sharma states the following:

"Meditation, as described in the ancient Vedic texts, is an exercise of consciousness that results in the expansion of consciousness beyond the day-to-day experience of duality. It is an experience of unity, which reduces stress and brings increased creativity and efficiency to the functioning of the inner faculty. This is an exercise that occurs without the mind directing the process. In physical exercise, the mind does not tell the muscles to get stronger; rather, the muscles are strengthened automatically by the exercise process. Likewise, in this exercise of consciousness, that is, meditation, the results are achieved automatically, not by controlling the mind or any other mental manipulation. The process of meditation goes beyond the mind to the deepest level of the inner Self." (Sharma 2015)

For the next 29 days, we'll tack on more tasks and daily goals as we build a routine for ourselves that will help us reach a place of satisfaction with our mental state and help us to gain clarity. Remember, that for day ONE we will be practicing meditation and calming ourselves for FIVE (5) minutes. If you'd like to go longer, you're welcome to. However, as a part of this challenge, it's better to stay the course of the tasks given at the time they are to help you succeed. 

Stay tuned and sign up for our newsletter and our social media to keep up with the daily challenges on our Instagram at www.instagram.com/odetoselfskincare (@odetoselfskincare).

 

Works Cited:
-------
Gelles, David. “How to Meditate.” The New York Times, The New York Times, www.nytimes.com/guides/well/how-to-meditate.

Sharma, Hari. “Meditation: Process and Effects.” Ayu, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4895748/.

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The 30-Day Wellness Ritual Challenge

The 30-Day Wellness Ritual Challenge
2019 isn't the year for change...it's the year to be BETTER and go beyond for yourself. We're getting back on track with our 30-day wellness ritual challenge. Click for more information and how you can join in on the journey to #bebetter. Continue reading

Why Yoga is For Everyone and Creating a New Status Quo with Jessamyn Stanley

Why Yoga is For Everyone and Creating a New Status Quo with Jessamyn Stanley

Jessamyn Stanley is breaking boundaries and creating a new wave, especially when it comes to getting women of color, specifically Black women, to grasp the concept of yoga and understanding that it's for every body (a play on words of her new book, Every Body Yoga, available on Amazon here) and not subject to just a specific race.

 

We were able to sit down and chat with Jessamyn on her journey to how she became the new, breathtaking, fearless icon she is today. We also discuss her personal issues with mental health, how she uses yoga to heal, and the issues with the Black community when it comes to acknowledging mental health. Read along to get some real insight from this very information interview with some key takeaways and things that you can start incorporating into your lifestyle today.
Ode to Self: How'd you get started as a yoga teacher and what made you want to become one?


Jessamyn Stanley: Okay so let's start with, I think that everyone is really comfortable with using the word "yogi". I'm not comfortable with that. I don't identify as a yogi--I think that I am very much a yoga practitioner, but I practice [regularly]. I try to walk the 8 line path, but I also like, very much in this world--I've not renounced my attachments to [yoga].


I've also never aspired to be a yoga teacher. I wasn't interested in yoga. I thought it was for thin white women; it was not something I was ever interested in doing. When I was in high school, my aunt was really into Bikram Yoga and she convinced me to go to a class with her once and I hated it so much! It was like, one of the worst experiences ever. And I said I'd never try yoga again.

It wasn't until I was in graduate school, I was going through a pretty dark time and I was dealing with [sic] and anxiety, but one of my classmates was like, "Oh my gosh, you should try Bikram Yoga! It's gonna be so great." Sippin' the sea of the yoga kool-aid. And I'm like, I've tried it, I know about it, I know I don't like it, why are you pushing this on me? But, she finally got me because I had a Groupon pass and I was like, "What's the worse that can happen?" So, I went and I loved it. I found myself overcoming. It wasn't like I walked into the room magically flexible or anything. I was the only fattest person in the room, the only person of color and it was a very alienating experience. I wasn't able to practice the postures to deeper variations or even able to get my mind around a quarter of the postures.

It's a very daunting experience to say, "Okay, I don't know what I'm doing, I don't know how to do this, and everyone in the room might look at me and see that I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm just gonna try. I'm gonna try and I'm not going to worry about what the outcome is." That's like, a pivot of mental thought.

Because we spend so much of our lives--I spend so much of my life--focused on what I am capable of doing. I set boundaries to myself; I don't go outside of those boundaries. And a lot of my unhappiness comes from these boundaries and understanding that I have the ability to just determine that I'm going to try to do something without worrying about what's going to happen in the future. It was really like a philosophical moment for me because it was not just something that happened in that yoga class or just from practicing physical yoga postures. That's something that can be applied to every moment in life.

So much of my practice is rooted in personal uphevel, and troubles, especially when my aunt passed away unexpectedly and the move to Durham after the decision to leave grad school because that was stressing me out. I started practicing 8 to 10 postures per day of the Bikram sequence and that has set me on the path that I'm on today. Something that has really helped me commit to the practice is being able to harvest compassion within myself for myself, and then reflecting that experience to other people.

 

OTS: You broke barriers, because many people, specifically women of color, think that yoga is a "white people" thing, when it's open to everyone. How are you redefining how women of color approach fitness? Better question is: what were some backlash that you faced and how did you overcome?

JS: I think that in general, people are fearful of what they don't understand. And the biggest response I've had from people were, "I didn't know that fat black people could do yoga." And I was just confused by that. I mean, there's so many fat, black people practicing, so many people of color--there's just some of everybody. The issue is there's a grievability problem. They don't show us doing other stuff. They don't show us practicing yoga and I think in general, people are just fighting against what they've always been told about human ability.

I think that the discrimination and the backlash that I've experienced is just on par with people seeing something that is different from what they expect to see. And honestly, as a fat black queer person, it's not unlike any discrimination that I've experienced in any other part of my life. I actually think that I had great preparation and I now work in an industry where everyone is on the "lovey" mode. And sometimes people see me as a sideshow. However, my thought is that that has nothing to do with me and I can't control the way other people experience this and everyone's going to have a judgement about me regardless of what I do.


Backlash is to be expected if you're willing to do anything that's worth doing.

OTS: Let's talk briefly about your book, Every Body Yoga. What inspired you to write it ? Who is it meant for?

 

JS: I wrote Every Body Yoga because since I started posting about my yoga practice on social media, I've had so many people reach out to me like, "Yeah, can you tell me how I should start practicing yoga?" I'm probably getting an e-mail right now, like literally because there's people always messaging me. And I'm like why are people emailing me about this?

When I was Googling yoga for beginners, introduction to it, etc., it's really confusing for somebody who doesn't know anything about the practice at all. Even if you do know about it, it's really easy to get confused. And there's a lot of people walking around who call themselves yogis and has poor little women doing all this shit and they don't even know about yoga. On top of that, I've had so many people ask me what book they should read and everything, so I just realized and thought "Someone needs to write all of this down for everyone" and have this book for everyone to read.

Most yoga teachers are former dancers or athletes to some degree who fell into yoga as a restorative practice. It's very different from a fat queer person of a who's had very severe ups and downs in life, and I realized that in order to tell that from that view, I had to go back to why I started practicing yoga, I had to talk about my family, talk my issues with substance abuse, talk about my issues with weight gain. And those ultimately, those are the reasons why people will continue to practice yoga. Because if you just do it for fitness, you won't always do it and you'll move on to something else because that's just a trend. And there's a million different ways to "get fit". But at the end of the day, there's so much internal work that we all have to do and this practice facilitates that and in order to really tell that story, I had to share my own story.

 

OTS: What are some takeaways that your would want people to get when reading it?

JS: My main hope is having people walking away from it saying, "Okay, I feel comfortable enough to walk into a yoga studio." That's probably the number one takeaway. Or the very least, they can roll out a mat in the living room and try it out. On top of that, I want for people to see themselves in this. Even if you haven't gone through what I've gone through, you can still see the truth of someone being honest and being very forthright about what happens when you live and love hard in this world. And most yoga people are not really comfortable with having that conversation. They would rather pretend to be this "yoga angel" type thing, like "Namaste, my life it so perfect. Like omigosh, I'm so amazing, and if you do everything I do, you can be just like me one day." And I'm not like that at all. I want for most people to read it and see themselves.

 

OTS: What are some of the challenges, in deeper detail, that you've dealt with in the face of mental health, especially when you were in college and how did you cope with that?

JS: I would say that my struggles with mental health have continued, even with practicing yoga. They're rooted in the fact that I've had a life that was very complicated with a lot of sadness that I've never dealt with. On top of that, I have a tendency to feel as though I need to bear the weight of the world and I have to be the strongest or the best.

Growing up in a household where showing emotion was not in touch--I lived in a family where if you're crying, you need to do that by yourself in a corner because no one had time for that at all. So for me, it was always me having a come-to-Jesus moment because I can't deal with my emotions and I think that a lot of people feel that way. They don't feel comfortable with even expressing unhappiness or dealing with sorrow or accepting that depression happens. There are waves in life and that there's insanely high highs and traumatic lows and that's just a part of life. For me, something about yoga is what it gives me the space to do is to understand that--to understand that there's gonna to be ups and there's gonna to be downs and all you can do is be in this moment, exactly as it is, and take it for what it is.

I think that being more open about that can encourage people to do the same. Think about how different the world would be if we raised a society to teach our children in schools to meditate and to learn themselves to be more open with their feelings. It would be a very different worlds and I think that it's important to be honest about your different struggles and what you go through.

I just don't know how we're all supposed to do the work that we want to do and be the people that we want to be if we're not taking care of our mental health.

OTS: Do you have a wellness routine or an end of day/week thing to decompress besides yoga or is your main go-to?

JS: I journal a lot; I journal, I meditate--I do both of those things in the morning and the evening. I'm very specific about taking care of myself, like regular massages, taking baths--taking time away from other people. I mean, I travel a lot, I do a lot of things, but one thing I try to do constantly is journal and meditate.

 

OTS: What does self care mean to you and why is it so important for women, and especially men, to take care of your mental health? I feel as though we're slowly forgetting about the men because they are the ones who are still having trouble opening up and deal with benign mental health issues.

JS: I just don't know how we're all supposed to do the work that we want to do and be the people that we want to be if we're not taking care of our mental health. Because, like, your mental health directs everything. People would be totally obsessed with their physical health and not think about their mental health at all. But, your mental health is just as important--they're equal to one another.

Right now, I feel like we're living in a world where people have to hide from one another and that they're hiding behind these masks. And these masks become our faces. And we forget that underneath the masks, there's a breathing, spiritual being who needs to be fed and you need to fuel and care for. If we're not even having the conversation about mental health, then none of the real--it just has repressive societal effects.

 

OTS: So, with that being said, if you were to meet your 12-year-old self as the adult that you are today, what are some words of encouragement you'd tell her?

JS: If I could go back, I wouldn't say anything because I feel like I had to go through everything that I've gone through in order to get to where I'm at right now. But, if I had to say something, I would just be like, "Don't sweat it. You're sweating everything way too much. Don't sweat it." Like, don't sweat the people that are making fun of you for being fat, ashy, and having nappy hair. Don't sweat school as much as you are. Don't sweat when people are telling you that you can't do stuff and you just want to try anyway, even though you might not be the best--you still want to try. Don't sweat these people, because people hate on you because they think that they are not good enough and they want for everyone to feel that way. If you know who you are and work on who you are, then that's gonna be all you need. So, just don't sweat these other people.

 

We had an amazing time speaking with Jessamyn, especially when it came to expressing self care and mental health. What are some takeaways from this interview that you've gathered? What are some challenges with mental health that you face and how are you coping? Or, are you finding it difficult to really express yourself freely and open up about your battles?

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Signs You or a Close One May be Suffering from Mental Illness

Signs You or a Close One May be Suffering from Mental Illness

Mental Illness is something that is becoming a big topic all over the world nowadays. Thanks to shows like 13 Reasons Why, it's slowly becoming more of a conversation that's less taboo, but there's still work to be done. Do you know the signs of someone silently suffering? Read more to find out now.

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