More and more research shows us that a calm mind is the first thing we need to cultivate to be able to heal our various ailments. Most indigenous cultures knew this and would have the spiritual healer talk to the patient before even looking at their physical health.
Unfortunately today’s manic pace of living does not lend itself easily to cultivating a calm mind. Financial stress, poor quality food, chemicals in the environment, relationships and family stress plus electromagnetic radiation is causing us all to not only be physically ill but to be emotionally and spiritually ill as well.
Paul Pitchford, in Healing With Whole Foods, says “at the beginning of any course of treatment, it is wise to first calm the mind and balance the spirit.” We are all suffering from mental hyperactivity and information overload. Worrying thoughts in excess can cause fever, headache, irritability, insomnia, mental disturbances and eventually cause physical changes in the body including a lowering of our immune systems.
Diet can either exacerbate a stressed out mind or help to calm it. We all know the culprits that cause us to lose our centre, become angry and irritable, lose sleep and generally make us feel yucky! They are refined sugar and white flour products like cakes and biscuits, alcohol, coffee, late-night eating, large meals, rich and spicy food, greasy, fatty and deep fried food, processed foods with artificial colouring, flavouring and preservatives.
So what can we do to quiet our minds and help us to cope more effectively with our lives? Here are my tips:
- Eat whole, preferably organic food with an abundance of local, in season, fruits and vegetables.
- Eat foods that are high in magnesium to help relax the muscles and nerves and to enhance calcium absorption. These are all the dark green leafy salad vegetables, as well as almonds and other nuts and seeds.
- Include foods that are high in calcium like tahini, sunflower and sesame seeds, parsley, organic yoghurt and white cheeses like cottage and ricotta.
- Add Reishi Mushrooms to the diet to boost your immune system – they can be added to soups or a tea. I add one to my morning pot of Rooibos Tea.
- Eat foods that are high in silica to support the nervous system like oat straw tea, barley, cucumber, celery and lettuce. Oat porridge for breakfast, especially in the cooler months, is a great start to the day and helps to strengthen the nervous system.
- Some herbs from the garden like basil and dill can help calm the digestion and hence the mind.
- Include apple cider vinegar with your salad dressings to aid stomach acids and help digestion.
- According to Chinese medicine, lemons calm the mind. Start the day with warm water and the juice of half a lemon.
- Drink chamomile tea before bed to aid sleep. Restorative sleep, both in quantity and quality, is essential for healing. A minimum of 7.5 hours is necessary and women generally need an hour more than men. Grow Lemon Balm in your garden and drink a couple of cups throughout the day instead of your regular tea or coffee to help calm nerves.
- Include organic flaxseed oil in your diet, 1-2 dessertspoons a day.
- A lot of nervous people are, according to Ayurvedic Medicine, of Vata Constitution. These people need to live in a warm, tranquil environment, away from wind and eat warm, moist foods.
- Lastly, awareness of speech, prayer, meditation, devotional singing, chanting, affirmations and silent contemplation on positive images are all helpful to strengthen the heart and calm the mind.
Let’s not just survive, let’s thrive! Calming our minds is the first step to take.
Suzanne Staples ND DBM
Naturopath Herbalist Homoeopath
Copyright Suzanne Staples