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Autumn Tips – Spice it UP!

Posted on 20 November 2018 by Douglas Merrow

By Susan Bass, Founder of the Sarasvati Institute of Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy and the Sarasvati Mission.

In Ayurveda, our spice cabinet is our medicine cabinet. Eating food cooked with seasonal spices helps to balance the elements in our body and deliver a powerful punch of nature’s medicine. In autumn it is often the elements of ether and air (vata) that are increased. If they are not balanced with diet and lifestyle choices then our tissues can become cold, rough and dry. Knowing how to use nature’s medicine cabinet in the whole food form of spices to keep one’s body in balance is an ART.

Where do you start? Follow your nose!

My nose tells me what my body wants and needs. Granted, I have spent years doing daily breathing practices and the neti pot to heal my nasal passages, so at this point my nose is a fine-tuned instrument that guides my self-healing process. I grew up completely unable to breathe through my nose as I was allergic to a long list of foods that are prevalent in the SAD (Standard American Diet). But after years of practicing Ayurvedic principles for the purpose of creating my own health, with a heavy focus on digestion and detoxification, I have arrived in my adulthood without allergies and able to breathe fully through my nose. Being able to breathe easily through the nose has a plethora of health benefits, but that is for another day.

Right now the topic is; how to balance one’s body in autumn with food. Spice it up!

What would autumn be without Cinnamon? Warm baked apples, squash and pumpkins become so healthy and delicious with Ceylon Cinnamon. Ceylon Cinnamon (aka Sri Lankan Cinnamon) is the ONLY true Cinnamon. In Ayurveda we belief that a person is as old as their digestive system and it just so happens that one of the best ways to stimulate your digestive fire is by eating a baked apple with ghee and fresh grated cinnamon with breakfast (see recipe below).

Ceylon Cinnamon is highly regarded as an anti-oxidant that supports healthy blood sugar levels. It has a sweet and pungent taste and is warming to the digestive system. The Vedic texts say that Cinnamon destroys all deep cold in the body. Cinnamon is said to be useful for cold hands and feet as it increases circulation in the joint space. Cinnamon increases circulation everywhere, especially in the lungs. Cinnamon pairs very well two other POWERHOUSE spices; Ginger and Turmeric.

Homage to Ginger! Ginger is known worldwide as a wide spectrum tonic and remedy. Ginger’s benefits include improving digestion, circulation and immunity while reducing inflammation and nausea. Ginger, when eaten fresh initially has a warming effect on digestion but the post digestive effect is sweet. Fresh ginger breaks up congestion and burns ama (toxins). If ginger is taken dried then it has a heating effect during the entire digestive process. So which one you choose depends on whether or not you are dealing with excess heat. I add fresh ginger to teas, juices and pretty much any vegetable dish. See fresh ginger tea recipe below.

We can’t mention powerhouse spices without mentioning Turmeric. Turmeric is said to invigorate and move the blood, especially in the brain, as well as stimulate blood formation. A small dose is said to clean the liver and blood. Turmeric also has anti-inflammatory properties. Use it in broths, teas, curry dishes and to spice up vegetables. It is important to note that Turmeric is not absorbed well unless taken with a healthy oil (ghee or coconut oil are my favorites). The Cork Cancer Research Centre’s test results show that turmeric can kill gullet (throat) cancer cells in 24 hours. India has one of the lowest rates of gullet (throat) cancer in the world. Could it be due to their daily intake of Turmeric? Many health professionals recommend taking the standardized extract of Turmeric root, often called Curcuminoids, to increase the health benefits of Turmeric. But it must be taken with fat to be able to be metabolized by the body properly.  Ghee is our first choice in Ayurveda as it has a 96% absorption rate, higher than any other healthy fat.

Whichever spice you choose, remember to let your nose guide the way!
Your nose knows!  (I wonder if it is a coincidence that nose and knows sound exactly the same. I don’t believe in coincidences!)

Simple Autumn Spice Recipes

Baked Apple with Cinnamon and Ghee
Half and core a whole apple (do not peel), put a little ghee and fresh grated Ceylon Cinnamon on top. Bake for 20 minutes on 350 degrees. This is a great way to kindle your digestive fire!

Ginger-Turmeric Tea – 1 qt. of purified water + 15 ¼-inch slices of fresh ginger root + 1 ½ tsp. of dried turmeric powder + A pinch fresh ground black pepper + ½ tsp. of raw honey added to each cup you drink (optional).  Place the turmeric, ginger and water together in a pot and bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain. The tea will last for up to four days stored in the refrigerator. It is best to drink the tea hot or at room temperature. (Use the stove, not microwave, to reheat.) Add honey as needed, after liquid has cooled down to drinking temperature.

Some other fabulous Autumn Spices are; Cumin, Rosemary, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Garlic and Saffron!

Susan Bass, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner #23853029

Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500

(857) 919 2866


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Gooseberries are Good for the Gut

Posted on 05 March 2018 by Douglas Merrow

Researchers from Malaysia’s Islamic Science University tested 30 patients with gastrointestinal issues, dividing them into three groups. One received lactose, a placebo; another group was given omeprazole, an over-the-counter remedy; and the third Phyllanthus emblica Linn, an ayurvedic treatment for gastrointestinal issues also known as Indian gooseberry.
The research found the herbal treatment resulted in less pain, vomiting, sleep loss and other issues. Participants’ intestinal walls also showed signs of significant healing. The researchers concluded, “Findings indicate that the ethanolic extract of P. emblica fruits
has gastroprotective effects in humans that justify its traditional use.”

To read our March 2018 issue online click here


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Finding the Courage to Grieve (Workshop – May 5)

Posted on 14 February 2018 by Douglas Merrow

Tips for Facing the Challenges of Loss

by Deborah Rodney

Grief is a part of life. It can come like a thunderbolt or we can stumble into it in a hundred different ways. It accompanies the losses of illness and aging. It collides with heartbreaking world events  and our neighbor’s burdens. If we’re not grieving, we’re not paying attention.

Grief is a traveling companion. Though unwelcome, it is important to acknowledge her because, denied or ignored, grief can land in the body or the psyche as illness and debility. She can be a formidable enemy, so it’s safer to greet grief as a friend who takes us to a deep intimacy with life.

In order to face grief with courage, it’s important to confidently know that beauty, tranquility, delight and love are also companions. Keeping them close can help us land safely when we fall.

In our culture, resilience isn’t easy because grieving is a lonely struggle. In many indigenous cultures, the tribe holds part of every member’s grief. It is accompanied by ranting, keening, tearing hair and slashing clothes. For us, it is often faced alone in bed with blankets over our heads. Often during funerals, a family is sequestered away so their grief can be held privately. Even the ritual of a ‘life celebration’ can deny the expression of ceremonial grief.

Finding the courage to grieve doesn’t happen naturally or because some of us are stronger than others. It doesn’t often come with the support of community or even friends. Most people don’t know how to hold grief by being a witness. Their impulse is to fix it, make it somehow more comfortable and hurry it to an end. Grief doesn’t come to a resolution. It accompanies life.

So how do we make friends with grief? Most of us fear grief because we don’t know how to find resilience. Yet, we can create reliable safety nets so we can go deeper and deeper into our grief with the confidence that we will not get lost in it. These are some practices for moving grief into resilience:

Trust Beauty and Sensuality
Choose a symbolic touchstone; something of beauty that will remind you that life has many facets and that you can feel joy and awe again. Keep it nearby. Let it call you up from the murky depths of your grief. And find an easily accessible place that nurtures you. It can be a museum or art gallery, a park, a forest or pond. It can be your backyard garden. When you’ve cried your fill, coax yourself out into a place you love. Let its beauty wash over you. No matter what happens on the planet, beauty remains steady.

Hold Your Grief
Choose those among your friends who can hold your grief without trying to fix it. Notice who listens and who can love you no matter what. Find someone who can hold you while you cry and rage. Practice holding other’s grief. Learn to listen deeply without attachment to a result.

See the Magic
Attune yourself to the ‘magic’ around you. There’s a lot going on under the surface of life. Develop your intuition. Learn to recognize synchronicity. Pay attention to the messages in your dreams. They show you that there is some kind of mysterious symmetry in a world that feels chaotic and frightening.

Practice Feeling Loved
Love yourself no matter what. You are a spiritual being having human experiences. Recognize that love is a force nudging you into wholeness and giving you the strength to grieve and find resilience. Feeling loved will give you courage.

Begin the Healing 
Find and welcome healing support that nourishes you. Some healing practices like reiki, yoga and acupuncture offer you strength without judgement. Don’t wait until you are grieving to find them. Cultivate these resources so they are there when you are ready to move from grief to resilience, or from resilience back into grief. Welcome Tenderness It’s okay to be tender. Find space in your
busy and stressful life for tenderness and for you to practice tenderness with others.

Don’t Push Grief Away
Give it space and time. Feel it deeply. Take time to cry and rage. Know that grief is only part of the experience of life and that beauty, awe, hope and love will beckon you toward resilience if you
pay attention.

Find Balance
Leap into grief with courage, knowing that you can also leap into beauty and the sensuality of living. Welcome all life’s experiences with balance. Balance grief and beauty. Fear and safety. Tenderness and boldness. Heartbreak is a part of life. It is possible to hold a little grief all the time. Just like you can hold a little beauty all the time.

Grief and Resilience Workshop – May 5

An important step in developing a healthy relationship with grief so it doesn’t get stuck somewhere in our bodies and psyches is to develop practices that support us. In a workshop developed by Deborah Rodney, participants will learn simple techniques for finding resilience. Using her book of poetry, Promise To Kiss Me, and honing the skills of emotional literacy, visualization,
active imagination and compassion, participants will take away an array of practical exercises and reminders that provide safety nets for the exploration of a new relationship with grief.

“Deborah’s themes and poetry gave new shape to our shared reflections on both personal and collective grief, highlighting the tools of resilience we all need.” ~Sophia

“This workshop provided a safe and open forum for thinking about grief in personal ways and, more broadly, as an essential and natural part of the human condition.” ~Margaret

The next workshop will be held on Saturday, May 5 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Flanders House (2926 NE Flanders Street, Portland). $40-$50 sliding scale. If a money exchange is challenging, a trade can be negotiated. Email for more information and to register. 

Deborah Rodney is a writer, living in Portland, Oregon. She has worked as a Communications Specialist on HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, has been a Reiki Master for 26 years and studied Non-violent Communication in the early 80s with Marshall Rosenberg and others. Connect with Deborah at


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Meditation That Works

Posted on 12 February 2018 by Douglas Merrow

Tips for Finding the Right Practice
by April Thompson

More Americans than ever before are seeking the benefits of meditation, which notably improves mental, physical and spiritual health. Choosing from its many styles and traditions can be daunting for a new meditator, as is figuring out how to incorporate such a practice into a busy life.

Universal Appeal
“Meditation is for people of all spiritual backgrounds. As a tool to develop awareness, it can enhance what you already believe and practice,” assures Diana Lang, the Los Angeles author of Opening to Meditation: A Gentle, Guided Approach and a spiritual counselor who has taught meditation for 37 years. For Jackie Trottmann, a Christian author from St. Louis, Missouri, there is no contradiction between a meditation practice and her faith; rather, they complement one another. For her, “Prayer is like talking to God, whereas meditation is listening to God. Before I came to meditation, I had been doing all the talking.” She came to meditation during a trying period working in sales and marketing. “When a friend gave me a meditation CD, I popped it in after a stressful conference call and felt instantly calmed. Ten years later, meditation has gone beyond quieting the mind; it’s sunk into my heart and spirit,” says Trottmann, who went on to publish her own CDs at “I came to meditation tired of habitual suffering and stress, and wanting to be happier,” says Bill Scheinman, a coach in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which he refers to as “mindfulness practice without the Buddhist jargon.” The Oakland, California, instructor has taught mindfulness in settings ranging from corporations to prisons, drawing from a range of meditative disciplines and 23 years of intensive practice.

Begin Modestly
“Millions are seeking more mindfulness through meditation, but don’t know how to go about it,” says Sean Fargo, a Berkeley, California, meditation instructor and former Buddhist monk. “The key is to take baby steps, like going to the gym for the first time. Start by practicing a few minutes a day; just pay attention to something such as the sensations of breathing, without judgment.” “Having taught meditation to tens of thousands of people, I would say the most common issue is that beginning meditators don’t think they’re doing it right. It’s important not to judge yourself or have loaded expectations about the experience,” notes Lang. She suggests starting wherever we are right now, adding, “Whatever book, class or teacher you first stumble upon is a clue.” But that doesn’t call for rigidly adhering to a particular type of meditation forever.

Assess Benefits
“Shop around and try different things, but at some point, you will begin to discover what works for you,” advises Scheinman. In trying to decide which meditation practice is right for us, “Go with what feels juicy,” says Fargo, who founded, offering 1,500 free mindfulness meditations, worksheets and talks. “You’re more likely to do what feels alive and enlivening.” The act of meditating can be uncomfortable, but the challenges are part of its power. Scheinman remarks. “If you establish a daily practice, eventually, you will become more
clear-headed, kinder and happier. That’s how you know your practice is working—not how you feel during meditation itself.” Consistency is key. It’s not effective to only meditate when you
feel good, he says.

Overview of Options
Mindfulness practices go by many names, from vipassana to MBSR, and can be done sitting or walking, but all are focused on cultivating moment-to-moment awareness. “Mindfulness is about being aware: deliberately paying attention to body sensations, thoughts and emotions. Focused attention is on the body, heart and mind,” explains Scheinman. Guided visualization differs from most forms of meditation in that the meditator is intentionally creating a mental image, typically one of a peaceful, beautiful place. Typically, the goal of a guided visualization is deep relaxation and stress reduction. Mantra meditations involve continuous repetition of a word, phrase or sound, drawing spiritual power from the sound’s vibration, as well as its meaning. Many mantras are uttered in a tradition’s native language, such as shanti, meaning peace in Sanskrit. Teachers like Lang prefer to use mantras in English that meditators can more easily grasp, such as, “Love is the way.”

Breathing meditation.
Meditation experts say our everpresent breath is a sound foundation for a meditation practice, as well as an easy place to start. “Tapping into the power of our breath is vital; it cleanses our system,” says Trottmann.

Connect with April Thompson, in Washington, D.C., at

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Become a Certified Holy Fire II Reiki Practitioner or Master

Posted on 21 December 2017 by Douglas Merrow

Learning Reiki is very easy and can be used for either personal or professional reasons. Holy Fire is a higher vibrational form of Reiki that offers empowerment, guidance, purification and healing. Patty Oliver, owner of Body-Mind-Spirit Healing Arts, is a Holy Fire II Karuna Reiki Master who has been giving Reiki sessions for eight years. She is now offering two classes at her Portland office, located at 4313 NE Tillamook.
Holy Fire II Reiki Level 1 & 2 will be held on January 15 and 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. In this two-day certification class, participants will learn the history of Reiki, standard hand positions, Japanese healing techniques and three beginning symbols. There will be plenty of time for questions plus hands-on practice. Cost is $375 and no experience is required.
Holy Fire II Reiki Advanced/Master class will be held Monday through Wednesday, January 22 through 24 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Cost is $925 for this three-day certification class where attendees will learn two master symbols, several healing experiences and Crystal Grids. Participants will also learn how to teach and give Placements and Ignitions for all levels. Attendees must be a Level 2 Reiki practitioner for at least six months.

To register for classes, contact Patty Oliver at 503-369-7810, or visit

 Patty Oliver conducts Reiki, Reiki Classes and Akashic Record Reading & Clearings in Portland and Scappoose, as well as Readings worldwide by phone or Skype.

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The Future of Health Screening is Bright for Patients

Posted on 01 December 2017 by Douglas Merrow

It takes years for most cancers to develop to the stage that they can be detected with mammogram or ultrasound (dense enough for location and biopsy) so digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI or “thermography”) is ideally placed as a screening tool to identify changes over time in the early development stages, before there is more advanced pathology that can be detected with other tests.
So one has to wonder why mainstream medicine shuns thermography, especially since DITI locates inflammation and measures its temperature changes with an accuracy of 1/100th of a degree! Professionals agree that persistent inflammation precedes the onset of disease, yet our healthcare system does little screening for inflammation, preferring instead to heavily screen for specific diseases.
With thermography, one can locate and manage inflammation with diet and lifestyle changes. It provides truly early detection, before onset of disease. Inflammation detection with thermal imaging is 100 percent safe and non-invasive with no pain or contact of any kind.
At Radiant Body Thermography, a certified thermographer, following protocols, takes images with an FDA-registered Meditherm IRIS 2000 infrared camera, then submits images, along with the patient’s health history, to Meditherm. Within 48 hours, the patient will receive a report with images and findings, prepared by a medical doctor, whose name appears on the report. No referral is required.


Radiant Body Thermography, 1314 NW Irving St., Portland, 503-775-1812.

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ZenShi Wellness Holistic Healing Package for the Holidays

Posted on 01 December 2017 by Douglas Merrow

ZenShi Wellness announces a special healing package for energy balance and renewal to provide calm and strength through hectic holiday time and to bring clarity for the new year.
“Many of us are working so hard at our lives and not getting what we know deep down is possible. Additionally, holidays often magnify the tough areas of life and create stress. This is a great time to release what doesn’t serve and get conscious about what we want. Plus, it’s tremendously relaxing,” says Master Practitioner and owner of ZenShi Wellness, Heather Schmidt.
She adds, “By eliminating the interference of old patterns and blocks, the body can actually do its natural job of relaxing, healing and creating. This is where life and the body thrive.”
ZenShi’s holiday package provides two healing sessions using Reiki, Chakra balancing, EFT/Tapping and guided visualization. The offer is good through December 31 at a special rate of $150 for two one-hour sessions (normally $180).
An Usui Reiki Master, certified holistic EFT practitioner and Natural Awakenings’ “Holistic Practitioner of the Year,” Schmidt offers holistic energy healing and coaching in single and ongoing sessions. “When energy is flowing, not only the bio-energy field but also the subconscious, we are capable of harnessing our full healing potential enabling us to access our brilliant and limitless creativity, imagination and soul purpose,” states Schmidt.

To schedule an Energy Balance & Renewal holiday package or order a customized gift certificate, contact ZenShi Wellness at 503-826-4124 or visit

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A Longest Night Gathering

Posted on 01 December 2017 by Douglas Merrow

Intended to make space for those for whom the winter holiday season is not all sweetness, joy and light, A Longest Night gathering will be held on Thursday, December 21 at 7 p.m., at Saint David of Wales Episcopal Church, in southeast Portland. After the service, Threshold Choir will be offering personalized singing to people who would like that.
Threshold Choir is comprised of women who sing for people crossing life’s thresholds: birth, death, sickness, struggle, change and celebration. They choose songs to respond to the musical tastes, spiritual traditions and needs of those they serve. Their songs carry messages of love, strength, comfort, healing, peace and joy.

Event location: St. David of Wales Church, 2800 SE Harrison St., Portland. For more information, call 971-217-6071 or email

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Locally Sourced and Produced Raw Diet for Dogs

Posted on 01 May 2017 by Douglas Merrow

We all know that eating wholesome food is healthy for humans—but what about other animals?
To answer this question, renowned food blogger Rodney Habib visited Finnish scientists who were conducting a study on more than 8,000 dogs to determine the effects of a raw diet. The scientists discovered that both methionine and homocysteine (acids found in dog kibble) are linked to cancer in dogs. During the study, they found that when a dog was kibble-fed but switched to an all-raw diet, the levels of both dangerous acids were lowered. Additionally, the researchers saw health improvements when as little as 20 percent of a raw fresh diet was added to a regular diet.
Nutritional specialist Dr. Cheryl Morris formulated the unique balanced Meat & Bones raw blend that any dog will love eating and dog owners will love feeding, with confidence. Meat & Bones suggests trying their four-pound package first, if in doubt. Meat & Bones never uses synthetics in their food and they share all ingredients with consumers. Everything is locally sourced and produced in Portland.

For more information, visit

To learn more, follow Rodney Habib on facebook at to watch a video with Dr. Moore and Dr. Anna Hielm Borkman, from Finland, who conducted the research.

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Wellspring Offers Women’s Wellness Series

Posted on 01 May 2017 by Douglas Merrow

The Wellspring School for Healing Arts, in northeast Portland, is offering a Women’s Wellness series for individuals and health care practitioners looking to further their understanding of women’s health.
Series topics include: Healthy Menstruation on May 2 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.; Irregular, Painful Cycles & PMS on May 24 from 5:30 to 8 p.m.; Fibroids, Endo & PCOS on May 30 from 6 to 8 p.m.; and Navigating Peri/Menopause on June 20 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Cost for each class is $45; discounts are available (see website).
The classes in the series can be taken individually. However, it is highly recommended taking the Healthy Menstruation class first, as this lays the foundation for the other classes in the series.

For more information, call 503-688-1482 or visit to register.

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