1. A Little Science, A Little Lifestyle

“All that herb smudging, incensing burning mumbo jumbo is for schmucks!”

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Okay, maybe I didn’t use those words exactly, but they were pretty close. I am a child of logic and science. If I can’t measure it, I have a hard time believing in its efficacy (which is odd considering I grew up in the Caribbean with a grandmother who was an herbalist).

However, a few years ago, I was introduced to the study of epigenetics–the additional factors in our genetic makeup that can explain why  identical twins can have different health outcomes. Epigenetics suggest that leading a healthy lifestyle (food and exercise) and even practicing mindfulness can affect histone groups (called histone methylation) which can in turn inhibit the expression of a certain gene. Of course, I’m paraphrasing, but what that could (and some scientists believe it does) mean is that all that mumbo jumbo about meditation being good for the soul might soon be measurable! Wouldn’t it be amazing to take a few minutes out of our day to reflect and see the direct impact it has on our health?

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So step one on my journey to holistic health is to take a few minutes to be still. If you’re a spouse/partner, a parent, an employee, an employer, a business owner, or even a busybody, you know this can be a challenge. There’s always the anxiety of, “there’s something I need to be doing.”

Here’s what worked for me:

I did a little bit of herbal research (at least, the legal kind) and bought a sage smudge stick from Shaman’s market. I placed the bundle in a porcelain mug filled with about a 1/2-inch of salt before lighting the dry bundle. Naturally, this felt odd because I was burning an herb, but let me have this. This is the closest I’ve come to being a rebel so far.

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Once the fire died and the embers began to smoke, I carried it around the house, making sure to spend a few seconds in each room. Then, I set it down in the kitchen to let it burn itself the rest of the way out. Afterward, I simply sat in my computer chair and lay my head back. The next thing I knew, I felt calm. I mean, really calm. This is what I assume “Light Xanax” would feel like. I had to double check to make sure the leaves were “just sage,” if you get my drift.

It may not seem like much, but those few minutes your mind isn’t spent racing, your chest isn’t spent thumping, and your muscles get to loosen for just a bit have done your body a world of good.

Alex

Click to learn more about epigenetics and sage’s healing properties. 

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