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Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Scoop on Poop


"In my world every one is a pony and they all eat rainbows and poop butterflies!!!!  - Horton Hears a Who

Ayurveda is considered one of the world's oldest healing sciences.  Although this "Wisdom of Life" has been practiced in India for the past 5,000 years, this holistic medical science is just starting to grow in popularity here in the US.  Ayurveda uses close observation of a person's natural tendencies and temperament to restore balance to the body.  Balance is the key principle of Ayurveda - the balance of opposites.  In order to do this one must understand the unique nature of each person; there is no "one size fits all".  In fact, Ayurveda's favorite answer to the question of treatment is, "it depends".  Healing depends on the individual's natural constitution, the season, age, climate, and so on.  Just like everyone has a unique fingerprint, each person has a particular pattern of energy - physical, mental and emotional.

Observation of an individual may include looking at the skin and complexion, fingernails, feeling the characteristics of the pulse, assessing the urine and feces, and viewing the tongue.  The tongue is considered a mirror to the body's organ system and is a map of what's happening within the body before it is manifested externally.  The tongue reflects the degree of health or imbalance of the body and can signal disease before any other signs and symptoms show outwardly.  Balance is the natural order; imbalance is disorder.  Health is order; disease is disorder. 

These tools for analysis and diagnosis, describe the current state of a person as well as their tendencies.  A common thread between all these observations is a healthy digestive fire (agni).  Food is supposed to nourish our tissues and give us energy.  If an imbalance is affecting your agni, the things that enter the body are not properly processed and toxins (ama) build up.

The first sign that toxins have built up is a heavy white coating on your tongue.  The second sign is odor - body odor, bad breath, odor with flatulence, smelly poop.  As the body's main means of removing waste, healthy bowel movements are essential to preventing the buildup of ama and staying balanced.
 
Fecal Features
When it comes to toileting habits, the topic is not exactly a favorite among Americans – at least for those above the age of four. Mention poop and you can easily clear a room – or at the least, generate some unusual facial expressions, nervous laughter, and wisecracks about “too much information.”

 But your bodily functions are an important health topic that deserves serious attention, regardless of the “ick factor.” In fact, if you ignore what you deposit in your toilet, you could be flushing your health down the drain!

Did you know the average person generates about five TONS of stool in his or her lifetime? Turns out, there is much to be learned from this mountain of poop.

The shape, size, color, and other fecal features can tell you a great deal about your overall health, how your gastrointestinal tract is functioning, and even give you clues about serious disease processes that could be occurring, like infections, digestive problems, and even cancer. Poop comes in just about all the colors of the rainbow... and please forgive me for using the words poop and rainbow in the same sentence.
 
Although there is certainly a wide variety of stool colors, textures and forms that are considered “normal,” there are definitely things that, if seen or experienced, warrant immediate medical attention. So here's what you need to know about what’s normal and not normal in the bathroom department. 

What is Normal Stool?
Your stool is about 75 percent water. The rest is a combination of fiber, live and dead bacteria, miscellaneous cells and mucus.  Normal stool is brown due to its composition: bacteria, water, bile, bilirubin, broken-down red blood celIs and indigestible plant matter like cellulose, along with small amounts of protein and fat.  The characteristics of your poop will tell you a good deal about how happy and healthy your digestive tract is – the color, odor, shape, size, and even the sound it makes when it hits the water and whether it’s a “sinker” or a “floater” are all relevant information.

If you’re one to “poop and scoot” quickly out of the bathroom without looking in the toilet, then you might want to slow down and look down.

The Perfect Poop
I bet a lot of you out there didn’t know there was a poop chart to compare the shape of your poop, to see what it is telling you about your health.
 
The Bristol Stool Chart is a handy tool that may help you learn what you’re going for. Ideally, your stool should approximate Types 3, 4 and 5, “like a sausage or a snake, smooth and soft” to “soft blobs that pass easily.” Type 4 is the Holy Grail. 

Bristol Stool Chart
The seven types of stool are:

  • Type 1: Separate hard lumps of poop, like nuts (hard to pass)
  • Type 2: Sausage-shaped poop, but lumpy
  • Type 3: Poop shaped Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface
  • Type 4: Poop like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft
  • Type 5: Soft poop blobs with clear cut edges (passed easily)
  • Type 6: Poop that is fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool
  • Type 7: Watery poop, no solid pieces. Entirely liquid






























What’s Your Bristol Stool Chart Number
Poop types 1 & 2 will make you feel like you’re birthing a herd of baby elephants and this lumpy poop means you are constipated.  Number 2 means you have still have lumpy poop and are a bit constipated.

You should be shooting for poop that’s somewhere in the range of Types 3, 4 & 5.  They are easy to defecate while not containing separate little lumps or any excess liquid.  Number 4 & 5 are the perfect poop on the stool chart or the epitome of “taking a crap”.

 Number 6 & 7 are the watery poop, tending towards diarrhea.

If your poop is too hard = constipated stools
If your poop too soft = loose stools.


The common solution between the two is fiber, the daily recommendation of fiber is 25 grams. To get that into our diet each day it would be like eating 10 oranges, 6 baked sweet potatoes, 12 slices whole wheat bread and 5 cups of oatmeal. Even if one person could eat all, that they would be terribly obese.

Fiber tends to bulk up your stool and acts like glue to keep the stool stuck together, instead of in pieces. If your stool is on the softer side, short of diarrhea (“soft serve,” as some call it), it could be related to lactose intolerance, artificial sweeteners (sorbitol and Splenda), or a reaction to fructose or gluten.

What the Color of Your Poop is Telling You
What do kidney disease, stomach cancer, Crohn’s disease, diabetes and gallbladder disease all have in common? You can identify their warning signs by looking before you flush. Believe it or not, the color of your poop can be an indicator of disease.

The next time you’re in the bathroom, take a second to glance down and observe the color of your poop. This guide breaks down what stool color is normal and which colors you should consult your doctor about.

The color of stool can vary dramatically and can also be a clue as to whether various disease states are present.

Red stool is most worrisome as it indicates bleeding in the lower GI tract from conditions like hemorrhoids or diverticulosis, or more serious conditions like rectal cancer. Red stool can also be caused by ingesting red food coloring or beets. While it should always be reported, it's not always an ominous sign.

Green stool can occur with rapid transit through the intestines where bile doesn't have a chance to be broken down to its final brown color. Green can also be a sign of Crohn's disease, antibiotic use, ingestion of leafy greens or iron therapy.

Yellow stool can be the result of gallbladder dysfunction which causes improper handling of bile. Infection with giardia lamblia produces a characteristic yellow diarrhea. In addition to causing diarrhea, different types of infection in the GI tract, whether viral, bacterial or parasitic, may cause changes in stool color.

White stool can be a sign of fat malabsorption, as with pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, but barium used for X-rays can also give the same appearance. Mucus in the stool can give it a whitish appearance and may be due to inflammation or benign conditions like IBS.

Black stool should trigger a search for bleeding from the upper part of the GI tract (esophagus, stomach or small intestine), but can also be seen with iron therapy, heavy meat consumption, and bismuth-containing compounds.

Light-appearing clay-colored stools are characteristic of liver disease and decreased bile output, but can also be caused by antacids containing aluminum hydroxide. Vitamins and supplements commonly cause changes in urine color but may also change stool color.  

Look, Listen and Smell Before You Flush
What’s normal and what’s not when you look into the toilet? The following table will help you narrow down what to look for, so that you aren’t needlessly alarmed. Of course, there are a few signs that ARE cause for concern, and those are listed too. If you have a change in stools accompanied by abdominal pain, please report this to your physician. 
Healthy Stool
Unhealthy Stool
Medium to light brown
Stool that is hard to pass, painful, or requires straining
Smooth and soft, formed into one long shape and not a bunch of pieces
Hard lumps and pieces, or mushy and watery, or even pasty and difficult to clean off
About one to two inches in diameter and up to 18 inches long
Narrow, pencil-like or ribbon-like stools: can indicate a bowel obstruction or tumor – or worst case, colon cancer; narrow stools on an infrequent basis are not so concerning, but if they persist, definitely warrant a call to your physician
S-shaped, which comes from the shape of your lower intestine
Black, tarry stools or bright red stools may indicate bleeding in the GI tract; black stools can also come from certain medications, supplements or consuming black licorice; if you have black, tarry stools, it’s best to be evaluated by your healthcare provider
Quiet and gentle dive into the water...it should fall into the bowl with the slightest little “whoosh” sound – not a loud, wet cannonball splash that leaves your toosh in need of a shower
White, pale or gray stools may indicate a lack of bile, which may suggest a serious problem (hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatic disorders, or possibly a blocked bile duct), so this warrants a call to your physician; antacids may also produce white stool
Natural smell, not repulsive (I’m not saying it will smell good)
Yellow stools may indicate giardia infection, a gallbladder problem, or a condition known as Gilbert’s syndrome – if you see this, call your doctor
Uniform texture
Presence of undigested food (more of a concern if accompanied by diarrhea, weight loss, or other changes in bowel habits)
Sinks slowly
Floaters or splashers
Increased mucus in stool: This can be associated with inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis, or even colon cancer, especially if accompanied by blood or abdominal pain

 Does Your Stool Have a Really Bad Odor?
If your stool has an extraordinarily bad odor, it should not be ignored. I am referring to an odor above and beyond the normally objectionable stool odor. Stinky stool can be associated with a number of health problems, such as:
  • A malabsorptive disorder
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Cystic fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a disease caused by a defective gene that causes your body to produce abnormally thick, sticky mucus, which builds up and causes life-threatening lung infections and serious digestive problems. Most cases of CF are diagnosed before the age of 2, so this is more of a concern with infants and toddlers.
 
Speaking of malodorous things, what about gas? Passing gas (flatulence) is normal. Not only is it normal, it’s a good sign that trillions of hard working gut bacteria are doing their jobs. People pass gas an average 14 times per day – anywhere from one to four pints of it!  Ninety nine percent of gas is odorless, so you may even be unaware you’re passing it. Think about it – were it not for an exit, we’d all blow up like balloons!

How Often Should You Move Your Bowels?
Normal bowel habits vary. When we talk about regularity, what we’re really talking about is what’s regular for you. Three bowel movements per day to three per week is considered the normal range.

What’s more important than frequency is the ease with which you move your bowels. If you need to push or strain, something is off – moving your bowels should take no more effort than urinating or passing gas. The thing to watch for is a sudden change in your bowel habits. Many factors can affect regularity, such as diet, travel, medications, hormonal fluctuations, sleep patterns, exercise, illness, surgery, childbirth, stress and a whole host of other things.

Constipation and Diarrhea
The average body takes between 18 and 72 hours to convert food into poop and pass it on out. When this time is significantly shortened, the result is diarrhea because your intestine doesn’t have time to absorb all of the water. Conversely, when transit time is lengthened, you may end up constipated because too much water has been absorbed, resulting in hard, dry stools.
 
Constipation is defined as passing hard, dry stools that you have to strain to move, and it’s typically accompanied by decreased frequency of defecation. Straining is not normal, nor are experiencing feelings of incomplete elimination, bloating, crampiness, or sluggishness after going number two. If you’re over the age of 65, your risk of becoming constipated increases significantly.

Chronic, untreated constipation can lead to fecal impaction, which can be a serious medical condition. Laxatives should be avoided at all cost and used only as a last resort. If you absolutely must use a laxative, make sure it is used for only a very short period of time. 

Common Causes of INCREASED Bowel Frequency (Diarrhea)
Lifestyle
Diseases and Conditions
·        Eating more fruits and vegetables (increased fiber)
·        Increased exercise
·        Drinking more water
·        Emotional stress
·        Food allergies
·        Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
·        Crohn’s disease
·        Ulcerative colitis
·        Celiac disease
·        Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
·        Medication side effects
·        Gastrointestinal infection
Common Causes of DECREASED Bowel Frequency (Constipation)
·        Change in diet, less fiber, less fruits and vegetables
·        Emotional stress
·        Ignoring the urge to “go,” travel and scheduling factors that cause you to hold it
·        Insufficient exercise
·        Inadequate hydration
·        Calcium or iron supplements
·        Drugs such as narcotic painkillers (codeine, for example), diuretics, antacids, antidepressants, and excess or overused laxatives
·        Food allergies
·        Pregnancy, childbirth, or hormonal disturbances
·        Problems with the muscles or nerve in the intestine, rectum or anus
·        Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
·        Diabetes
·        Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
·        Local pain or discomfort around the anus, such as from fissures or hemorrhoids
·        Less often: diverticulitis, intestinal obstruction, colorectal cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injury
 
Poo Perfection
Most gastrointestinal problems can be prevented or resolved by making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. If you aren’t achieving poo perfection, or if you don’t feel right, then look at the following factors and consider making a few changes. These strategies will help reverse constipation or diarrhea, in addition to helping prevent recurrences.





  • Remove all sources of gluten from your diet (the most common sources are wheat, barley, rye, spelt and other grains)
  • Eat a diet that includes whole foods, rich in fresh, organic vegetables and fruits that provide good nutrients and fiber; most of your fiber should come from vegetables, not from grains
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners, excess sugar (especially fructose), chemical additives, MSG, excessive amounts of caffeine, and processed foods as they are all detrimental to your gastrointestinal (and immune) function
  • Boost your intestinal flora by adding naturally fermented foods into your diet, such as sauerkraut, pickles, and kefir (if you tolerate dairy); add a probiotic supplement if you suspect you’re not getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet alone; try adding in acidophilus as well.
  • Try increasing your fiber intake; good options include psyllium and freshly ground organic flax seed (shoot for 35 grams of fiber per day)
  • Psyllium fiber, it will bulk up the stool and will help to get you to the number 4 on the stool chart. Metamucil is the way to go to get the perfect s-shaped poop.  Take 7 grams of soluble psyllium fiber a day, that’s about 3 daily doses with 8 ounces of water each time.
  • Triphala is an ayurvedic supplement that serves many functions in supporting optimal health, with bowel health being one of them.  I highly recommend:  www.banyanbotanicals.com
  • Make sure you stay well hydrated with fresh, pure water
  • Get plenty of exercise daily
  • Avoid pharmaceutical drugs, such as pain killers like codeine or hydrocodone which will slow your bowel function, Antidepressants, and antibiotics can cause a variety of GI disruptions
  • Address emotional challenges with tools like EFT
  • Consider squatting instead of sitting to move your bowels; squatting straightens your rectum, relaxes your puborectalis muscle and encourages the complete emptying of your bowel without straining, and has been scientifically shown to relieve constipation and hemorrhoids.  Humans have squatted for millennia - until the advent of the modern toilet.  Check out the Squatty Potty:  http://www.squattypotty.com/
Consider a Bidet
As a practical and affordable alternative to toilet paper, you might want to try a bidet. Bidets are the norm in Europe—no bathroom is found without one. Once you experience a bidet, you’ll probably never go back to toilet paper! A bidet is refreshing in a way toilet paper will never be, is gentler and less irritating than wiping with paper, and reduces hand contamination. Whenever I travel it is one of the items that I miss most from my home. Nearly everyone that I know has received one just loves them.

The bidets pay for themselves in no time with the money saved on toilet paper, as well as helping save valuable environmental resources. You still need a sheet or two of toilet paper to dry yourself, but that is a tiny fraction of what you would need to clean yourself. But more importantly they clean your bottom far more effectively than simply using dry toilet paper. They are easy to install, as no plumber is required. Try the Soft Spray Bidet:  http://products.mercola.com/toilet-bidet/

Who else would care about the contents of your large intestines more than yours truly? …you’re welcome.  Oh, and have a “crappy day!”  I mean…happy day.  LOL.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I'm Sexy and I Know It

Turn on the TV or open a magazine.   We must perceive ourselves as being ugly, quite ill, and in need of serious weight loss.  Why are we so obsessed with beauty?  What exactly is broken?  How much time do we dedicate to analyzing all our faults?  And…who decided how you should or shouldn’t look anyway?  Who imposed these ridiculous rules?  Why do we accept them without question?

Everyone who consumes media is being told a story.  Right now, its girls and sexuality.  We get social cues about how we should see ourselves.  Media is the biggest social cue and it’s sending a really destructive message to the world that little girls and their bodies are for sale.  Look at the billboards, music videos, magazines, TV ads…sex, sex, sex.  These risky messages are pushing the sexy threshold.
 
You also have social media tools for self-exploration.  On Tumblr and Facebook, teenagers post images of ripped athletes under the heading “fitspo” or “fitspiraton,” which are short for “fitness inspiration.” The tags are spinoffs of “thinspo” and “thinspiration” pictures and videos, which have been banned from many sites for promoting anorexia.  (See my June 2012 Musings from the Mat e-news on that topic.)

I was talking with a fellow parent recently and he was upset with his son’s idea of beauty.  (We both have 17 year old boys.)  This very attractive gal was trying to get his son’s attention.  When the Dad mentioned to his son that this girl was beautiful, the son replied, “But she’s not hot.”  Of course, the Dad asked what “hot” was and his son described a young lady that is heavily made-up and donning an overtly sexual wardrobe.

Dustin Hoffman says this so eloquently when he was interviewed about his role in Tootsie.  He wouldn’t do the movie unless they could make him look like a woman, not a guy in drag!  He was shocked that he didn’t look like a “beautiful” woman.  They told him that was as good as it gets.  He started crying , “When I look at myself on screen I think I’m an interesting woman.  I know if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to her because she doesn’t fulfill physically the demands we’re brought up to think; that women have to have in order to ask them out.”  He really got choked up, “There are too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.”

Access Hollywood did a documentary called “Sexy Baby” which examines the influence of sexual content and the over sexualization of female images and how its corrupting society especially little girls.  It’s not okay to make 14 year old girls look like they’re 25 or parade a 6 year old “Pageant Prostitute” on the popular TV show Toddlers and Tiaras.

When I was teaching yoga at SMART camp, one class was about the power of images and advertising.  I would show them photos of famous actresses and singers.  For the most part, the kids did not recognize them.  Then I showed them the photos of what they are familiar with….what they looked like after makeup, hair and air brushing.  They were shocked. 
 

Check out Britney Spears (original photo is on the left and photoshopped on right).  She’s 29 years old with 2 kids.  She has the body of someone who clearly works out regularly.  We've been treated to close-ups of her acne, her bad hair days and her cellulite. Every imperfection has been carefully catalogued, circled in red, and commented on in magazines. It cheapens the self-image of the viewer as much as the image of the star.  By reveling in a celebrity's imperfection, all we do is compound a culture of criticism which we turn upon ourselves.
Naturally waif-like, Kiera Knightly, has bemoaned her lack of curves in the past.  The Pirates of the Caribbean star succumbed to computer wizardry as well for a fuller chest.

Another celebrity had her breast implants increased to DDDs, a brow lift, botox to foreheard, a nose job revision, lipo on her stomach, waist, hips & thighs, a butt augmentation, chin reduction, fat injection in cheeks, and her ears pinned back. At 23 years old, Heidi Montag, star on The Hills, is obsessed with her unending quest for perfection.  Very much like actress Pamela Anderson and pop superstar Michael Jackson were in their heyday when cosmetic surgery was exclusively done by celebrities.
Take a look at this selection of female Olympic athletes from different sports.  That’s right – Olympic athletes.  You can’t really be in much better shape than this!  It speaks for itself.

99% of these ladies don’t look like fitness models. There are all shapes and sizes of fit women and female athletes in the world, from 90 lb. gymnasts, to 150 lb. sprinters, to 200 lb. shotputters…and everything in between. Frankly, I find these ladies from Sports Illustrated for Women much more inspiring than the airbrushed cartoon bunnies on the cover of Shape magazine.  And anyway, most of the fitness models don’t look like fitness models.  Again with the photographic tricks…lighting, angles and posing along with tanning, shiny bronzer and a myriad of makeup tricks. 

Even a truth-seeking sport such as yoga is not immune to the fakeness fervor.  Even yoga teachers can’t escape our culture’s obsession with the physical form.  Both teachers and students can be described as “beautiful bodies outfitted in Lycra.”  Females use their sexuality too, prancing in tight, sexy clothes, sending their sexual power vibes.   Some women use their sexuality to empower themself and manipulate others. She causes men to want to serve her, to put her on a pedestal and thus increase her own importance and social standing. She makes other women fear her and they become obsequious servants in large and small ways.  Devoted to her own being., the perfection of her own body, these women in power also undermine each other in their quest for more prominence.

And it is not just girls these days that are consumed by an unattainable body image.   Pediatricians are starting to sound alarm bells about boys who take unhealthy measures to try to achieve Charles Atlas bodies that only genetics can truly confer. Whether it is long hours in the gym, allowances blown on expensive supplements or even risky experiments with illegal steroids, the price American boys are willing to pay for the perfect body appears to be on the rise.

In a study to be published in the journal Pediatrics, more than 40% of boys in middle school and high school said they regularly exercised with the goal of increasing muscle mass. 38% said they used protein supplements, and nearly 6% said they had experimented with steroids.

“There has been a striking change in attitudes toward male body image in the last 30 years,” said Dr. Harrison Pope, a psychiatry professor at Harvard who studies bodybuilding culture and was not involved in the study. The portrayal of men as fat-free and chiseled “is dramatically more prevalent in society than it was a generation ago,” he said.

Just as girls who count every calorie in an effort to be thin may do themselves more harm than good, boys who chase an illusory image of manhood may end up stunting their development, doctors say, particularly when they turn to supplements — or, worse, steroids — to supercharge their results.

Unfortunately these images are primarily female focused and pushing someone else’s idea of beauty.  Now that my children are young adults, I see how powerful advertising along with peer pressure has affected them.  As parents, we did everything to make them aware of how they were being marketed to. 

Fabulously “Flawed”
As an adolescent, I frequently asked my daughter why she thinks that putting on makeup makes her any more beautiful…and she truly is gorgeous.  She answered that it makes her feel good.  Really?  Who told her that…because it wasn’t me.  Who’s to say you need make up to look beautiful?  I admire Dove and Seventeen magazine for forging the way and showing what true beauty is.  No makeup.  No photoshopping.

Check out other real stories at “The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty”  http://www.dove.us/#/cfrb/  or www.withoutmakeup.org

My son can’t stand when I stretch out my hairy legs alongside his.  His response is usually “that’s gross”.  I retort “According to whom?”  It becomes a discussion about how in many places of the world women do not shave (although it seems to be less and less).  How did Americans get to this point?  Then I move on to how men and women are both born with hair so why are only women expected to shave their legs and pits?  Of course, he’s also the first to comment when I DO shave my legs!

Two ranks on body hair.  Those being plucked, shaved, tweezed used to be looked at as overly obsessive, narcissistic, and faux.  While those who don’t shave all their body hair off are looked at as unclean, unkempt, feral and tribal.  Bit by bit we’ve been taken over by the hairless ethic…including this generation of young men!

Magazines bombard us with images of male’s representation of beauty.  The media’s idea of sex and women changing to meet this “ism” has men responding to an image rather than a real person, real flesh.  The feminine is not valued in this society.  Studies also show the more TV a boy watches, the more sexist his views become; this is training them to expect girls to be sex objects.  The common theme in our society is undervaluing the feminine and overvaluing and institutionalizing the masculine, patriarchal culture.  Women have been denied, devalued and denigrated.  This has created misogyny of young women.  We should feel outraged and overwhelmed!

In an interview with Jada Pinkett-Smith, she shared her outrage about how the degradation of women has resulted in problems for both sexes.  Here’s what she said:

How is man to recognize his full self, his full power through the eyes of an incomplete woman? The woman who has been stripped of Goddess recognition and diminished to a big ass and full breast for physical comfort only.

I am sure the men, who restructured our societies from cultures that honored woman, had no idea of the outcome. They had no idea that eventually, even men would render themselves empty and longing for meaning, depth and connection.

He doesn’t recognize that the [creation] of a half woman has contributed to his repressed anger and frustration of feeling he is not enough. He then may love no woman or keep many half women as his prize.

He doesn’t recognize that it’s his submersion in the imbalanced warrior culture, where violence is the means of getting respect and power, as the reason he can break the face of the woman who bore him four children.

This abuse is pervasive. With men, it is death by one blow. With women, it is death by a thousand cuts.   Maybe, eventually, it could evolve to the death of the ego.  The exposure of the truth is a way of ripping off that protective layer. Forcing us to grow.

In yoga we describe the veiling power of the mind as maya.  Maya is the illusion that our mind creates telling us that something is real when, in actuality, our perception is a function of the "software" our mind uses to create sensory perception.

As women and girls, we have this history in our collective that our value as females has so much to do with our appearance and our beauty.  These ideologies impact our sense of self and identity.  Plus we identify our roles as wife and mother when not all women are doing that now.  This outward appearance shapes the core sense of self.  A lot of our biases are covert.  Are you making yourself “more than” or “less than?”  Do you have an inner mean girl?  How long have you been thinking that negative thought?  (I’m poor; I’m fat; I’m overweight.)  Where did we get this idea that we are deficient and need to improve ourselves?  We got if from looking outside ourselves and comparing ourselves to others.  We’ve allowed well-meaning parents, teachers, religious leaders and peers to tell us there is something fundamentally wrong with us.  Many children have a sense that they are just being tolerated, not celebrated.  How horrible is “tolerating” differences.  We should be accepting and celebrating them.  Looking for the beauty and all the colors of the rainbow (or beliefs).

This is a mind virus that’s infected us.  That negative virus infects our “computers” (unconscious minds).  We need to keep our anti-virus software up to date (i.e. what FEELS good to you and what you want, that which is in harmony with your desire).

Society offers a system of salvation (i.e. yoga, meditation, religion).  It’s exactly that social mind/human thinking that is the root cause – not any individual person (or even Christianity).  We give power to these cultural heroes over ourselves.  Who is this assumed authority? 

Vivekanananda said: “We are under the false notion that we are deficient.  The more you focus on what is “wrong”, the harder it is to see what is right and perfect.  The act of trying to improve ourselves causes us to believe there is something wrong with us in the first place.  You cannot improve yourself because there is nothing wrong except the beliefs about yourself and the way life works.  As the divine grows within you, the ego/false self will dissolve”.  You can be a host to God or a hostage to your ego.

This thinking has been impressed on society over thousands of years.  We’ve all been affected by those systems.  We’ve forgotten how to think for ourselves.  Most people don’t want to think so they look for authority that tells them what to think.  They question nothing and accept everything they’re told and follow like sheep.  We’ve lost the skill to think!

I don’t really care if you do or don’t wear make-up.  I don’t care if you are hairy or hairless.  I just want you to think about whether or not your decision is really your choice or is it based on someone else’s belief/values.  Especially if your decision was because someone (or something like the media) makes you feel “less than” without their solution.

Solutions create the problem.  There was no problem in the first place!  Your essential nature is perfect and faultless but years immersed in this world, we’ve forgotten our roots.  We need to cultivate and nurture a loving relationship with ourselves…”I am enough!”  We are God’s form on earth.  You are beautiful already. 

Society needs a reintegration and revaluing of the feminine ways of being.  Not just leaders from the heart; it’s using the wholeness of our being, inner knowing.  What we have been beaten up for and repressed for is the thing we need most to bring forward.  “Yes, I’m emotional.  Yes, I feel things in my intuition.  My body knows this is true.”  That’s what the world needs from us right now.

You can’t value others if you don’t value yourself.  If you are completely fulfilled in your connection with the source, you can be sitting in a beautiful garden or in a jail cell and it makes no difference!

Each person has their own greatness and it’s your job to discover it and share it with the world.  Ask yourself, “Who am I outside my role as mother, sister, daughter?”  Give yourself permission to greatness!

I am very lucky to have a husband who “sees” me.  I love what Mike Meyers says as the Love Guru about intimacy.  It means “Into Me….See?”  Intimacy is really seeing the person as they are…perfect, whole and complete. 

We are an imprint of uniqueness not like anyone else and if we are not that person, no one else on earth can be!  Each of us came into this world with a unique assignment.  An assignment that was tailor made for us.  However our potentials and destinies is a team sport.  We need each other.
 
I will sum up with lyrics from Lady Gaga, I Was Born This Way: 

      There's nothin' wrong with lovin' who you are
      She said, 'cause He made you perfect, babe
      So hold your head up, girl and you you'll go far
      Listen to me when I say


I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Now go and kiss that mirror reflection