02 September 2019

Chemicals in food plastics and how to avoid them

Basically there are heaps - and many have been subjected to little scrutiny. Last post we examined BPA - whose problems are well documented. However, the expense and time required to research each new plastic and its chemicals seems to take a back seat to the expediency of the next “convenient” product.

So this week, some more real culprits and how to avoid problems.

Also, many thanks to all who have expressed their condolences following the death of my main teacher Sogyal Rinpoche. Rinpoche was an extraordinary teacher. In my long experience with him, unfailingly kind and caring, incredibly knowledgeable and wise and hilariously funny!

Coming from the dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, Rinpoche came to know the Western mind extremely well and he melded this knowledge with the ancient wisdom and profound understanding of the mind that came from his traditional training. As such, he shaped my life and my work.

If you feel any benefit from what I may have to offer, then you have benefited from the life and work of Sogyal Rinpoche, yet life goes on and so first …

 

     Thought for the day

     If we listen with a silent mind, 
     As free as possible 
     From the clamour of preconceived ideas, 
     A possibility will be created 
     For the truth of the teachings to pierce us, 
     And for the meaning of life and death 
     To become increasingly and startlingly clear.

                            Sogyal Rinpoche





PVC 
PVC is used for bottles, cling wrap and screw-cap jars. It is hard and rigid (think pipes for drains and gutters etc), and it is regarded as relatively inert. However, it can break down, form microplastics and then initiate problems of its own.

Plasticisers
The real issue with PVC, as with most base plastics, is that to make it malleable, plasticisers are added in much the same way water is added to clay for softening. Plasticisers can make up as much as 40% of the plastic material and 2 of the common ones used for food packaging, phthalates and epoxidised soybean oil (ESBO) have serious doubts raised about their safety.

DEHP is the phthalate most often used as a plasticiser for PVC. There is general agreement it can affect reproductive development, particularly in young boys, and a US study has found an increased risk of diabetes and obesity in men.

ESBO is another frequently used additives to PVC, especially when used for containers or packaging for food. It functions as a stabiliser as well as a plasticiser. Lid seals made with it end up producing some chlorohydrins that are known to be toxic. Chlorohydrins have been detected in foods closed in glass screw-cap jars - check inside the lid for a plastic layer… that is the potential source.

PET
polyethylene terephthalate or PET, is in the polyester family (polyester is the common name used for fabrics and includes Trademarks like Terylene and Dacron) and it also is used widely for food and liquid containers and other packaging (where it is commonly called PET).

PET is also suspected of being an endocrine disruptor, particularly through leaching of phthalates and antimony.


MIGRATES
These are compounds that can leech out of cans and their linings into our food. If you are into canned food, you might want to sit down here…

Migrates from cans may contain oligomers, catalysts, reaction accelerators, epoxidized edible oils, amino resins, acrylic resins, various esters, waxes, lubricants, and metals. Furthermore, non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) such as impurities, reaction by-products and degradation products generally constitute a part of the migrate. Exposure estimates for these often complex mixtures are difficult or even impossible to calculate, because many NIAS are unknown or unidentified substances.

Many migrating substances are completely unknown, but they may strongly contribute to the toxicity of the migrate.


WHAT TO DO???
The real answer is actually simple and I suspect we all know what it is but shirk making it due to a combination of convenience, habit and money.

The real answer is to keep all plastics away from your food.

FOOD TIPS
As much as possible, grow your own food or buy organic. Then prepare as much as possible from base ingredients. For example, instead of using a prepared, packaged pasta sauce, start from scratch and make you own. To help overcome the time issues, celebrate good health for you and the family, as well as making food preparation an active form of mindfulness and meditation. Win - win!



Do all possible to avoid buying anything wrapped in plastic - those supermarket trays of cling wrapped vegetables give me the horrors.

Find stores that do supply paper bags for food or take your own recycled ones.




Use glass, stainless steel, ceramics for food storage.

We have quite a stock of stainless steel containers as our garden can be very productive at times and we regard freezing as a reasonable way to extend the season.

Use wooden or stainless steel cooking implements - so much nicer to the feel anyway.




Avoid cans wherever possible.

Maybe the occasional one is OK; it does seem BPA is excreted from our bodies relatively quickly, however, regular ingestion is associated with all the problems listed so beware. Tuna and condensed soups in cans seem to have the highest levels of BPA. Canned fruit seems less problematic than canned vegetables.

Avoid exposing plastics used for, or containing food to high temperatures. This includes avoiding microwaving (really bad), high cooking temperatures and cars on hot days - especially with water bottles in summer

WATER
Buy a reusable drinking cup and carry it with you.

Avoid water and other drinks in plastic bottles - big source of microplastics and huge waste issue.

If on town water, use a water filter - either in-line (as in integrated into your plumbing) or as a water filter jug. These clear microplastics and may well filter unwanted chemicals including drugs in the water system. Portable water filter jugs are available for travel and we use ours regularly.

CHECK LABELS 
If the plastic content of a product is not clearly labeled, know some but not all plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA. Remember, BPA substitutes like BPS and BPF seem to have similar “anti-androgenic” hormonal effects as BPA.

If you do have to use a plastic, then it seems numbers 2 and 5 are probably the safest - high density polyethylene and polypropylene.

RECEIPTS
This is a tricky one given they are in such widespread use.

We do now know holding a receipt and eating food, especially after using hand sanitizer, results in high blood levels of active BPA, so at least wash well before eating.

Consider carrying an envelop for receipts so they do not contaminate clothing or wallets.

Do not necessarily be re-assured by new receipts proclaiming to be ‘BPA-free”.

They may be just BPS instead.

And, the BPS in receipts may be up to 40% more BPS than the amount of BPA, so BPA-free could be even worse! In fact, all BPA-replacement products tested to date released chemicals “having reliably detectable oestrogenic activity.”

SINGLE USE PLASTICS
We all know this now… Do all possible for all the good reasons to remove single-use plastic from your life and support companies that are moving away from plastic packaging.


BE SOCIALLY ACTIVE


Lobby your local and national office bearers and parliamentarians urging them to to support all these recommendations with their own support and legislation where needed.

Our local council of Yarra Ranges is about to vote on a bill to declare a climate emergency and take strong action within our area. Ruth and I have actively supported this push and it may well succeed.

It does seem there are healthy and viable alternatives industry could use; the problem is they may cost a few cents more. Let people know you are willing to pay - including the supermarket operators and your local stores.

And remember, for millennia the world managed just fine without any plastics at all. With thought, planning and a willingness to change some deeply ingrained habits, we may well retain the benefits plastics have brought and do away with the almost disastrous consequences that have followed.

Next post will feature the summary of a recent senate enquiry into the damaging effects of plastics that is full of references and confirms the need for major action…



22 August 2019

What chemicals are in the food plastics we use in 2019? How toxic are the chemicals in food plastics? And how to avoid food plastic chemical hazards?

How much food are you eating out of cans these days? Ever wonder about the plastic linings in those cans, or about the impact plastic is having in your food chain?

Could easily write a PhD on this, but let us go Out on a Limb once more, summarise where we are at in 2019 and suggest how to avoid some potentially major health problems, but first

         

      Thought for the day

   There is no need for temples; 
   No need for complicated philosophy. 

   Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; 
   My philosophy is kindness.

                     His Holiness, the Dalai Lama




Well I remember way back in the mid 80s and my old friend Michael Lerner from Commonweal in California shared evidence linking chemicals in plastics with breast cancer particularly, and other health problems in general.

Michael’s research was compelling so most will know I have recommended doing all possible to keep plastics out of your food chain since then.

Decades have passed and slowly the risks have become better known. BPA (bisphenol A) emerged as one of the main culprits and public opinion has driven legislation to limit its use and seek substitutes.

So in 2019 does this mean some food plastics are OK to use? 

Please note I have limited time and resources for this. It is written as if writing to one of the family and the hope is that you find it helpful… So while I did read and use many sources, I am not documenting what is written. It may well be incomplete, but it has been written with due diligence and represents the best I can offer on the subject. Let us examine the facts and the issues, and then attempt to reach some conclusions; starting with BPA itself.

What is BPA?
BPA is an industrial chemical used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.

In the ‘30s it was identified as a synthetic oestrogen and considered for pharmaceutical use but BPA-based plastics were first manufactured in the ‘60s.

Currently, millions of tonnes are produced each year, to make polycarbonates - for CDs, spectacles lenses, water bottles and other clear plastics, and resins - used to line food cans.

What risks are associated with BPA?
Basically, BPA is a hormone disruptor that mimics oestrogen and interferes with its healthy activity. Widely researched now, it has been associated with

i) Cancer
Particularly hormonally related cancers like breast and prostate cancers.

ii) Sexual function and anatomical issues
The oestrogen-like effects in women are associated with early onset of puberty in females, infertility, miscarriage, premature delivery and polycystic ovaries.

Then, as oestrogen can supress testosterone in males, it is associated with male genital defects, reduced sperm counts and reduced male sexual function.


iii) Obesity
In children and adults through stimulating the formation of extra fat cells.

iv) Behavioural problems in children
Including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, aggressiveness and impaired learning.

 v) Other conditions
Altered thyroid and immune function, diabetes, heart disease, chronic respiratory and kidney diseases.

What a list!!!

How do we become exposed to BPA? A list of major sources…
i) Can linings (it is in both aluminium and steel based cans).

ii) Polycarbonate food containers and bottles (both re-useable and especially single use bottles), plus
food wraps. Heat, scratching and cleaning can all increase exposure. Fast foods with the packaging used are a major source.


iii) Thermal papers - these are those all so common supermarket receipts, movie tickets, lottery
tickets and the like.

Using hand moisturisers or handling receipts with wet hands increases the risks of absorption greatly.




iv) Microplastics - BPA tends to aggregate on the surface of microplastics. Given it is estimated average current US ingestion is a staggering 50 - 90,000 pieces of microplastic per person per year, this is another major source.

v) Children’s plastic toys remain a real concern, especially when you consider how young children put everything into their mouths. BPA has been banned for years from use in children’s bottles and dummies (where it was a major source of this chemical and affecting young children for decades).

vi) Dust also builds up BPA residues.

vii) Some toiletries and women’s hygiene products

viii) Many plastic eyeglasses

So what is the biggest source? 
It is claimed 90% comes through our food chain. Fast and levels drop 10 fold in 10 days. Once clear, eat one can of food lined with PBA and levels go up hugely.

What level of exposure is common?
Based on testing, virtually everyone has some BPA in their body; in the US, 93% of all over 6 years - and disturbingly it is commonly found even in babies prior to birth.

Are there safe limits for BPA?
Authorities in both Australia and the US claim our exposure levels are safe. France has banned BPA in plastics for food use. So if safe levels are not being exceeded, why are there so many problems associated with BPA?

What about low dose effects of BPA?
It is well know chemicals that mimic hormones and hormone disruptors can have significant impacts at low dose while not being so bad or having different effects at high doses. While the science is debated, and not surprisingly rejected by Industry sources, many researchers claim a low dose of BPA could well be worse than a high dose and that these low dose effects are yet to be fully researched and evaluated.

What about BPA substitutes?

BPA is associated with many problems but at least it has been studied extensively and those problems are reasonably well understood. When BPA is taken out of plastics, it needs to be replaced with another chemical, and here is the rub.

When you see “BPA free” touted on some plastic bottle or metal can, the implication we often take is
it is now safe.

Unfortunately this may well be far from the truth.

The substitute chemicals invariably are less studied, less known and while some substitutes may well be safer, others are clearly implicated with worse issues than BPA.

This is what is known as a “regrettable substitution”.

However, to be balanced, it is worth pointing out there may be a trade off here. Through the TGA and the CMI, the remarkable safety record of canned foods is observed: “More than 3,000 people die and more than 40,000 are hospitalized from foodborne illnesses every year, yet there has not been a single reported incidence of foodborne illness from the failure of metal packaging in more than 40 years and the consumption of trillions of cans of food.”

However, there are still major concerns that do need addressing…

Next blog we shall cover other chemicals in food plastics, and what solutions are available to us.

Please do consider sharing this post with others; it feels like one of the more important ones for some time…

And comments welcome - click on the tab below…

05 August 2019

Dr Ainslie Meares, Shivapuri Baba and meditation

How many people would you say you owe your life to? Interesting question… Mother first and foremost. Father naturally. But after that???

One of the people I owe my own life to is Dr Ainslie Meares. He taught me meditation in a way that made it possible for me to endure all that cancer threw at me, and even more, to overcome it altogether.

But Ainslie’e knowledge of meditation had its genesis in a 3 day meeting in Katmandu with the venerable and ancient Hindu yogi Shivapuri Baba. This little known figure was truly remarkable, truly extra -ordinary. Recently I met up with Cliff Woodward who has been studying the life and works of Shivapuri Baba for many years and actually visited his ashram in Katmandu.

As part of this guest blog, Cliff has kindly shared some of the key points of Shivapuri Baba’s life and teachings. Enjoy, plus a reminder my new meditation book Blue Sky Mind is now available, but first




       Thought for the day

          If you can see your path 
          Laid out in front of you step by step, 
          You know it is not your path. 

          Your own path 
          You make with every step you take. 
          That is why it is your path.

                        Joseph Campbell





From Cliff Woodward…
Shivapuri Baba’s remarkable life spanned an astounding 137 years from 1826 to 1963. (This is based on British records - and they were meticulous!) Probably one of the greatest human beings of recent times, Shivapuri Baba remains one of the least known and least celebrated.

This slight, little man who lived a life of ascetic, utter simplicity, was a giant of the spiritual life, sharing a teaching that is absolutely relevant to our lives right now, and could rightfully be seen as the antidote to the path of blind, egotistical self –destruction that our species has got itself onto. He called his teaching Right Life.



The external facts of his long life are indeed remarkable and worthy of a full-length movie film, although I sincerely hope it is never made!

The fact that he walked every continent [except Antarctica] on his world pilgrimage beginning at around 60 years of age, lasting over 30 years; he met many of the great men and women of the early 20th century [such as Einstein, the Curies, Marconi, Tolstoy], had eighteen audiences with Queen Victoria – but about all that he wanted nothing said, no publicity at all.

He consented to only one book being written about him towards the end of his lifetime, by the great English philosopher and spiritual seeker, J.G. Bennett, called “Long Pilgrimage,” which was published in 1965.


And his unambiguous instruction to Bennett was “You must write a book about my Teaching, not my life.” He himself, though seeming to have read everything of significance, wrote no books. He shares this in common with some other teachers of universal significance like Socrates and Jesus of Nazareth.

So what is the essence of this Teaching, Right Life? The first thing to say is that S.B. never suggested that this Teaching was his invention or his ‘intellectual property’, only that he had made accessible, to the contemporary mind, what was at the core of all the great Teachings of mankind, since time immemorial. Why would this be so?

Because the fundamental challenges that face how we live our lives as human beings have never been any different and never will be. All of the great spiritual traditions can be seen as different attempts to guide us into the solutions to these challenges, with greater or lesser success as we manage to despoil them.


It is interesting to note that there are many accounts of people from different spiritual/religious backgrounds meeting S.B., and each of them thought that he was the most perfected Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim - whatever background they were coming from - that they had ever met!

This was surely because S.B. could go to the core of any of these Teachings and speak its Truth.

He was completely free of dogmatism or any narrowness of perspective – a Universal Man.

Right Life is structured around three fundamental Duties.

With the First Duty, Right Life begins by acknowledging the fundamentals of our human life.


We have certain inescapable obligations or duties: the need to maintain our physical body, feed it, clothe it, keep it in health; and the need to earn a living in some way. This is a baseline that none are exempt from. We could see the First Duty as centred on the fundamental ‘Laws’, physical, moral and societal, that we have to obey. If we neglect them our lives end up in a mess of one kind or another.

The Second Duty focuses on our inner or moral life. It is about removing or overcoming our ‘defects in character’, our anger, resentment, jealousy etc. These things have to be seen, accepted and gradually eliminated from our lives. Further, we can consciously cultivate the positive qualities that may be missing from our lives, or at least not playing a strong enough role. So things like forgiveness, humility, empathy, kindness, need to be deliberately cultivated in our lives, must manifest in our lives – not just be ‘good ideas’ to aspire to.

These positive virtues can be found spelled out in any of the great spiritual teachings, for example The Sermon on the Mount in the Christian tradition, in Chapter 16 of the Bhagavad Gita in the Hindu tradition.



These Duties, according to Right Life, are not just to be acknowledged/accepted, they are to be perfected.

They have to be mindfully engaged with and worked on with perseverance.

We need to be consciously directing our lives in these directions, even down to the most basic practical tasks; for example, if I am failing to pay my bills on time, how do I get better at this?

If I can’t remember where I put things, how do I improve on this?

We do not accept or indulge our failings or weaknesses in little things or big.


Our constant aim is to make small, achievable changes that we can build on; like radical, sudden-weight-loss diets, attempting too much change too soon, will just rebound on us.

Of course we are going to fail, especially in the beginning, but we are enjoined to learn from our mistakes and keep at it – this is a life-long process! Ask yourself, what is the alternative to this? Surely the answer is to keep making the same errors and not evolving.

Shivapuri Baba described Right Life as “Your self-promised life”, meaning the life that you have set for yourself. So, for example, if I recognize that anger plays too strong a role in my life {at home or at work} and I have set myself to make some changes around this, this is my promise to myself.

It does not require the approbation {or the condemnation} of anyone or anything else – not THE church or THE faith or THE dogma. It is my deal, my promise, with myself. This places the teaching of Right Life in a very different space than we are accustomed to. It is not immediately obvious to most of us just how unique this is – it dawns over time!

But there is more!

The Third Duty is concerned with our Spiritual or Soul life, our deepest connection with ourselves, the Universe, God; express it as we will. S.B. said that eventually, to any sane human being looking at the basic facts of Life, there must arise a question such as:

What is the source of all this?

What is my significance in all this?

Does it all die with me?


The satisfactory answer to such a question, for you or I, is the basis for our deepest sense of peace or fulfilment – my answer, or anybody else’s answer, will not cut it, it must be YOUR answer. S.B. taught, again in line with all the great traditions, this is what we are here for on planet earth, to find such an answer – nothing, absolutely nothing, material success or power, will suffice. We can fill our lives with all sorts of things, all sorts of distractions, but the fundamental question will never go away.

So clearly the Third Duty relates to our practice of Meditation and Prayer. Note that S.B. never taught that there was one way into this: he encouraged people to follow their Christian way or Buddhist way, whatever they are connected to, but follow it with the correct understanding of its foundation in Right Life.

We need to attend correctly to all Three Duties, not any one of them, in order to succeed – truly a three-legged stool. Can you see how important this is? This Teaching is telling us, insisting, that, for example, you cannot just plunge into Meditation or diverse religious observances, leaving your practical life and moral life a total mess, and expect any success. It just does not work.

The other clear implication of this Right Life Teaching is that it encompasses the whole of your life. The very living of your life, on a day by day, minute by minute basis, is your Spiritual practice, is your life’s significance.

This is not a Teaching for the spiritually immature, for the ‘spiritual thrill seeker’; this is a Teaching that asks everything of you, but delivers Everything in its place.



AND A REMINDER

Blue Sky Mind, my new meditation book is now published and coming into bookstores and on-line stores everywhere.

If you do go into a store that does not have it, please ask for it as booksellers these days respond very directly to feedback.

Signed copies of the book are available through the Foundation - and you support their work …

CLICK HERE 

Enjoy deepening your meditation


22 July 2019

The best answer to stress? Meditation!

Who does not have stress in their life these days?

Meditators! So how does meditation negate stress?

How can you explain it simply to your friends? This week, we go to the heart of meditation and examine why it is so simple and reliable.

And a reminder, Blue Sky Mind is now available, as are the downloads that will guide you personally into the meditations, but first



               Thought for the day

In meditation the mind keeps wandering. 
We keep bringing it back, and it wanders again. 
And we bring it back again, and so it goes on, 
Maybe for months and years, 
Until at last the mind becomes stabilised . . . 

Thoughts go roving around in the head, 
But if we bring them down into the heart, 
That is, the centre of the person, 
They come to rest.


                          Fr Bede Griffiths
River of Compassion: A Christian Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita.



Just why is meditation such a reliable antidote to stress and anxiety? 

Now, to be clear, when speaking of meditation, I speak of learning to relax deeply in a physical sense, and then to go beyond the activity of the thinking mind into a deeper stillness.

In fact, real meditation introduces us, or perhaps just makes abundantly clear, that the mind does have two aspects; there is the active thinking mind and the still mind.



The thinking mind is the domain of stress

How we perceive things.

How we interpret things.

How we think determines the stress we may or may not experience.



The still mind is beyond all this.

The still mind is calm and clear. The still mind is highly creative, highly productive, but it is the domain of deep, natural peace.

How then to help the thinking mind let go of stress, to become clear and calm, to become stress free?

First an analogy. If we were interested in the true nature of the sky but had never seen it before; and went outside on a cloudy grey day, we could form the view that the sky was this grey fluffy stuff that filled the space above us.

However, those of us who do have a little more familiarity with the sky know of course that clouds as we call them are only one part of the sky.

There is a second part, a second aspect – all that space that appears to be that big blue canopy we are so familiar with and that is so evident on a cloud-free day.

Those of us that are more familiar with the sky know that clouds come and go, yet the blue canopy is always there.

So even on the cloudiest, stormiest, wildest of days, sooner or later the clouds do clear and there it is.


It was always there of course, that clear blue sky, it is just that sometimes the clouds obscure it from our direct sight.

So, the analogy is good. With our minds, thoughts come and go all the time; they are ever-changing and impermanent. Happy thoughts, stressful thoughts. They come and they go. But sooner or later they will clear, and reveal this deeper stillness, the more fundamental enduring, stable aspect of our mind.

So there is the active and the still mind. Meditation provides a reliable way to go beyond the activity of the thinking mind and directly experience the stillness of the more fundamental or true nature of our mind. And in doing so, meditation offers 3 major benefits: Profound Peace, Natural Balance, and the View.

Profound Peace speaks for itself. There is a natural ease, an inner clarity and confidence that comes with meditation that provides a profoundly effective antidote to stress.

But more, this profound peace, coupled with deep physical relaxation brings Natural Balance to our whole being. Physically our body chemistry and physiology regains its natural balance. It is like meditation resets our factory settings and recalibrates the physiological changes we know accompany adverse stress, and over time becomes our default setting.

So this is how meditation diffuses stress and anxiety – with a return to a natural, healthy balance.

But there is still more! This natural balance flows on to be experienced as emotional balance, mental balance; there is even a deep sense of connectedness and a natural rise of love, compassion and altruism – a spiritual balance.

And perhaps even more profoundly, meditation offers a new perspective. We begin to see the world, and our life, not just from the perspective of the ever-changing “thinking mind”, but also from a more profound vantage point – that of the still mind, the true nature of our mind.

The View is a word that is used to encapsulate how we view the world, how we interpret our life.

What meaning and purpose we experience in this life.

Our View is tied up with our values, our ethics, our habits, and our beliefs.

How we live our life.

Now, our View of course is radically affected by our perspective. For those whose perspective does happen to lead them to think that all they are is just this body, it is easy to imagine how they “over-identify” with their body image and their physical health and in doing so become highly stress-prone.

For those whose perspective or View is such that they conclude life is all about relationships, and in so doing over-identify with their partner or children, or even their community, it is easy to imagine how the ups and downs of life will make them particularly vulnerable to chronic stress.

For those whose View is that life is all about mental reason, and as a consequence over-identify with the rational, logical, scientific aspects of their mind, it is easy to imagine how the mysteries of life, the unexplainable, the new, the challenging makes them significantly prone to stress.

So, one elegant definition of stress is “over-identification with the wrong part of our self”.

Body, emotions and mind are very important, but they are not who we really are. Over-identifying with them will mean we are bound to be stressed, maybe even full on anxious.

When we change our perspective, everything changes.

If we have a problem, as we see it, and we fixate on it, it is like holding an egg to our eye – we can see nothing.

It is a big problem and it obscures everything.


However, if we hold the egg at arms-length, we recognise it for what it is. It is an egg with loads of possibilities, loads of potential.

So meditation introduces us to who we really are, what is in our heart’s essence. And in doing so, meditation offers three great gifts Profound Peace, Natural Balance and the View.

Truly meditation offers a unique pathway to stress free stress-management.


RESOURCES

The Book

Hot off the press, Blue Sky Mind is coming into good bookshops now.

If it is not in your favourite bookshop, please ask for it; booksellers often need prompting these days.

Or, you can order the book safely on-line through the Foundation’s webstore - and if you do that, you are highly likely to receive a signed copy... CLICK HERE


The Downloads

Ruth and I have recorded all the meditation exercises in Blue Sky Mind.

We have made them available as downloads as we have had a good deal of feedback that this is what people who use them regularly prefer.

The Blue Sky Mind downloads are intended to both guide you initially into the direct experience of the meditations, then support you in your on-going practice.

To access the downloads,   CLICK HERE

Enjoy :) 

28 June 2019

Top 4 ways to boost your immune system

What is something you can do every morning with very little extra effort, but just a whiff of discipline that can significantly boost your immune system? We have been recommending this for around 40 years, but a recent article made it sound like a new discovery so it has prompted this week’s post that is research based - how to use everyday things to best to boost your immune system, but first



                 Thought for the Day

       Though my View is as spacious as the sky,

       My actions and respect for cause and effect 
       Are as fine as grains of flour.

                              Padmasambhava 




Number 1 top way to boost your immune system - Regular Meditation

No surprises here. Plenty of research indicates meditation’s direct beneficial impact on immune function. However, of even more benefit may be the fact that the more we meditate, the more likely we are to do a whole host of things that are good for us - and have the inner discipline to continue to do them.

From the research : Mindfulness meditation appears to be associated with reductions in pro-inflammatory processes, increases in cell-mediated defence parameters and increases in enzyme activity that guards against cell aging. More research needed…

Black DS. Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016 Jun; 1373(1): 13–24.


Number 2 top way to boost your immune system - Plant based diet

Probably no surprises here either! A great deal of evidence has now built up to support this contention. Here is one of the latest…

From the research : Plant-based sources of protein decrease chronic inflammation, according to this recent study. Researchers tracked protein intakes for 2,061 participants and compared inflammatory biomarkers between total, animal, and plant-based protein sources. Those who replaced animal protein with plant-based protein showed improvements in a particular biomarker associated with overall inflammation and oxidative stress. The authors note that increased plant-based protein may lower the inflammation burden among aging populations.

Hruby A, Jacques PF. Dietary protein and changes in biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort. Curr Dev Nutr. 2019;3:1-9.


Number 3 top way to boost your immune system - Regular moderate exercise

Again most probably know this by now. Strenuous exercise can in fact weaken the immune system - something marathon runners need to really watch.

However, exercise at a level where you can talk while doing it, and feel better after you complete your session and that level of exercise has many positive benefits.

From the research : Moderate exercise seems to have a beneficial effect on the immune function, improving both the humoral and the cellular immune system.

Jeurrisen A teal. The Effects of physical exercise on the immune system. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2003 Jul 12;147(28):1347-51.


Number 4 top way to boost your immune system - Cold showers

This is the one we have recommended for years. Seems the mild stress of the cold shower causes the body to lift its game and ramp up its immune responses.

There is a caution...

Most people have a warm shower first, then shift to cold. However, doing this suddenly has been associated with a mild increase in heart attack risk. Therefore, turn the cold on in a few steps with time to adjust between - then all is good.

From the research : This is an area where the actual research articles are hard to track down, but here is one from a few years back…

Shevchuk NA, Radoja S. Possible stimulation of anti-tumor immunity using repeated cold stress: A hypothesis. Infect Agent Cancer. 2007;2:20.


Speaking personally, I have been having a cold shower every day for around 50 years - plus the others above. In that time have had virtually zero colds and only one bout of the flu and yes, I do not take the flu vaccine. Lucky? Maybe…  But these are 4 top ways proven to boost immune function.

And the side effect? The daily cold shower helps maintain the discipline to do the others - although I do really enjoy the others anyway .