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Seeds of Wellness Blog

Getting Grounded with Your Root Chakra

Each Chakra is directly linked to your mental, physical and spiritual attributes. By understanding each Chakra and how to keep the energy flowing freely, you can achieve harmony within yourself.

Located at the base of the spine, the Root Chakra, also called the Base Chakra and Muladhara (Hindu), grounds you, influences your survival instincts, gives you a strong foundation and connects you to the physical world.

Root Chakra Information:Root Chakra location 

  • Color: main – red, other colors – brown, black and gray
  • Element: earth
  • Sound: C/Oohm
  • Identity: physical
  • Sense: smell
  • Body functions: elimination and sex drive
  • Organs: large intestines, immune system and all reproductive organs
  • Developmental stage: womb to 12 months
  • Incense: cedar
  • Herb: sage


Why Is a Balanced Root Chakra Important?

When the Root Chakra is in balance, you feel secure, safe and stable in your life. You let go of fear easily and worry less. Your connection with your physical body, environment and the Earth is strong, which allows you to harness courage and be resourceful. You know your place in the world and work with the world, not against it.


How Do I Know If My Root Chakra Is Out of Balance?

Your Root Chakra can be under- or overactive, which causes it to be out of balance. Review the lists below to see if your Root Chakra is imbalanced:
Underactive Root Chakra:

  • Neglecting yourself
  • Poor discipline, setting of boundaries
  • Depressed
  • Underweight, not hungry or able to eat
  • Disorganized
  • Insecure, anxious and nervous
  • Lack of energy and lethargic
  • Disconnected/not feeling you belong
  • Lack of sex drive


Overactive Root Chakra:
Like a tree you need a strong foundation for stability - Root Chakra

  • Overeating and unhealthy food cravings
  • Fear and/or paranoia
  • Addition to adrenaline activities
  • Hoarding and material fixation
  • Aggression and anger
  • Need to be in control, dominate
  • Over active sex drive



  • Constipation
  • Lower back, hip, leg, knee and/or feet pain
  • Rectal/anal problems
  • Frequent illness
  • Prostate problems for men
  • Bladder and/or kidney issues
  • Frequent illness


How Do I Balance (Open) My Root Chakra?

Physical Exercises:

  • As you inhale, contract the muscles between your anus and genitals inward, and relax these muscles as you exhale. Do this a few minutes daily. This exercise can be done while sitting, standing or walking.
  • Walking – as you walk concentrate on your feet connecting with the earth and feel your connection with your surroundings. Walk barefoot when possible.
  • Dance – turn up your favorite tunes and let your body move with the music as you feel the vibrations within your body.
  • Yoga poses – mountain, warrior, bridge

Meditation: Helps to ground you, gives feeling of safety, connects you to your higher self and provides a sense of peace and stability. As you meditate focus on the tip of your nose to help align the Root Chakra. It is also best if you sit on the floor to feel your connection with the earth.

Chanting/Tonal Sounds: The sound vibrations help the cells work together in harmony, and the Root Chakra harmonizes with the C note. The mantra sound for the Root Chakra is LAM – see the video below. These techniques can be incorporated into your meditation.

Gemstones: Lie down and place gemstones on the area of the Root Chakra for 15 minutes to help realign the Chakra. Garnet, Red Jasper, Ruby, Bloodstone, Hematite or Agate for underactive Root Chakra, and Black Tourmaline, Smoky Quartz, Onyx, Obsidian and Emerald when the Root Chakra is overactive. You can use one or many types of gemstones during this process.

Aromas, Herbs and Essencial Oils: Basil, cedarwood, cilantro, ginger, myrrh, patchouli, rosemary, sandalwood and/or white fir can be sniffed, diffused or applied to your skin (dilute when necessary) daily. You can also burn cedar incense or sage.

Color Therapy: Focus on a lit red candle, wear red cloths and paint your finger and/or toe nails red to activate your Root Chakra energy.

Food: Eat red food like red apples, strawberries, red cabbage, beets and tomatoes. Other foods to eat include ginger, root vegetables like potatoes and carrots and high protein foods such as eggs, meat, nuts, tofu and beans.


Need help balancing your Root Chakra? Call Seeds of Wellness to schedule a Reiki session with Lynne or Brenda. Also go to our Events webpage to see when Greg Kendzior can balance your Root Chakra and other Chakras using massage therapy and/or tuning forks.

Learn more about meditation, by attending our Monthly Meditation Group. Call to learn more.


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What Are Chakras?

The ancient tradition of Chakras originated in India, and the word translates to “wheel” or “circle”. What we know about Chakras today comes from the practice of yoga. Chakras refer to the universal life force (energy) that circulates through us. Each Chakra transmits and stores the universal energy as it spins.

There are seven Chakras, which correspond to different areas of your spine, major organs, emotions and spiritual being. The list below includes the name, color and location of each Chakra:
The seven Chakra locations in the body

  • Root Chakra (red) – The base of the spine, tailbone (legs, buttocks, colon)
  • Sacral Chakra (orange) – Lower abdomen, slightly below the navel (bladder, genitals, adrenal glands, large intestine)
  • Solar Plexus Chakra (yellow) – Upper abdomen, navel to breastbone (pancreas, small intestine, liver, gallbladder, spleen)
  • Heart Chakra (green) – Center of the chest (heart, lungs, lymphatic system, arms) unites lower and upper chakras
  • Throat Chakra (blue) – Just below the larynx (throat, mouth, neck and thyroid)
  • Third Eye Chakra (indigo) – Between the eyes at the bridge of the nose (brain, ears, eyes, pituitary gland, neurological system)
  • Crown Chakra (white/violet) – located at the top of the skull, or outside the body directly above the head (Central nervous system, skin, muscular system, pineal gland)

Many believe that blocked Chakra energy leads to illness and imbalance because the energy cannot flow freely. How the blockage affects you depends on which Chakra(s) are not in balance.

Imbalance can be noticed by paying attention to frequent issues in an area of the body. For example, reoccurring headaches shows imbalance and blockage in the Third Eye Chakra and constant constipation relates to the Root Chakra needing opened.

There are several ways you can bring your Chakras back into balance. Yoga, meditation and chanting (to name a few) help bring balance to specific Chakras or all seven Chakras without needing help from another person. Alternative healing practitioners of Reiki, tuning forks, acupressure and other healing practices help clear blockages from all seven Chakras and alleviate stress within the body through non-invasive healing techniques and remedies.

Seeds of Wellness provides Reiki, massage and tuning fork treatments. See our Services and Event web pages to learn more. We are also starting a monthly meditation group to explore different types of meditation techniques. Call us to learn more about the group and our services.


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Using Sacred Clearing Votive Candles

November’s votive candle of the month this year is Sacred Clearing, a blend of cedarwood, clary sage and pine oils, by Sacred Path Candles.

Sacred Clearing votive candleWe chose this candle because November brings family and friends into our homes during the holidays. When you place a Sacred Clearing votive candle in your dining room or living room, the aroma helps purify and keep negative energy out of the space. Put one by the door to prevent negative energy from entering your home.

Sacred Clearing candles also help protect and promote healing. As we transition from Autumn to Winter, our bodies feel the affects of the changes. This votive candle helps our bodies deal better with these changes and keeps us healthier.

Since Sacred Path Candles are aromatherapy candles, the presence of the Sacred Clearing pillar or votive candle is enough to clear negative energy and promote purification, protection and healing without lighting it.

Stop into Seeds of Wellness to learn more. We wish you all a safe and healthy holiday season.

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What Do Electronic Cigarettes Have To Do With Well-Being?

Many of you know that Seeds of Wellness’ mission is to improve your overall well-being. We hope the products we sell and services we provide bring you happiness, help decrease your stress and improve your physical body and mental state. So how do electronic cigarettes fit in?

Electronic cigarette accessories and e-liquid
Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, e-cigs and vaping pens, offer an alternative way for people to inhale nicotine without the tar, ash, smell and smoke. The main ingredients in electronic cigarette e-liquids (or e-juice) are water, nicotine, propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG) and flavoring, which amount to 15 or less ingredients. Compare this to the approximately 600 ingredients in a cigarette. These ingredients create more then 7,000 chemicals after the cigarette is lit.

So far research has shown that e-cigs are healthier than cigarettes. Chemical research of e-cigarettes shows that the e-liquid vapor contain less chemicals than cigarettes and similar or less chemicals to other nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) on the market. The effects of e-cig vapor on cardiovascular and respiratory functions are milder than smoking cigarettes. As for second-hand exposure, bystanders inhale minimal chemicals from electronic cigarette vapors. The main side effects reported by users of e-cigarettes are throat irritation and cough. To read more about the research results visit “Safety evaluation and risk assessment of electronic cigarettes as tobacco cigarette substitutes: a systematic review”.

E-cigarette and e-juice vaporHowever, like most of the things we inhale, electronic cigarettes are not 100% healthy. In a new study of e-cigs, they found that e-juice vapor with and with-out nicotine damages lung cells. Read more at “E-cigarette vapor, even when nicotine-free, found to damage lung cells”. More research needs to be completed to learn the long-term affects of e-liquid vapor on the lungs and other organs of the body.

While e-cigs are not healthy, so far research shows they are healthier than cigarettes. Therefore, when a person switches from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes, they are improving their overall well-being. Since we opened in 2010, several of our customers have completely switched over to e-cigarettes, and we know five of our customers quit nicotine entirely using e-cigs and have not picked up a cigarette or electronic cigarette since they stopped.

If you would like to know more about nicotine and e-liquid and its ingredients, please read our blog posts:

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Balancing Your Pet’s Energy Chakras Using a Pendulum

There are several ways to balance your pet’s energy. These instructions help you balance your pet’s chakras, energy centers in the body, using a pendulum. This process does not completely heal your pet, but it will help remove dis-ease from their chakras. By putting your pet’s energy in balance, your pet’s physical body’s ability to heal itself increases. Your pet also feels an overall sense of well-being.


Meaning of the Pendulum Swings

When the pendulum swings counter-clockwise, it is removing blocked or negative energy from the area below the pendulum.

If the pendulum swings clockwise, positive and healing energy is being channeled to the area below the pendulum to restore balance.

When the pendulum does not swing, the energy in the area below the pendulum is in balance.


Energy Balancing Instructions

Complete the following steps in a quiet location where your pet can relax. Your pet may sit, stand or lay down while you balance their energy. This process will not hurt your pet. Your pet may fall asleep during or after their chakra balancing.
How to hold pendulum
Most people hold the top of the pendulum chain (bead or fob) between their thumb and forefinger. Always hold the pendulum approximately 1- 2 inches above your pet.

  1.  1. Hold the pendulum above the tail
  2.  2. Move the pendulum from the tail towards your pet’s nose by following the spine
  3.  3. Stop moving the pendulum when you go past the entire body (This opens your pet’s energy centers)
  4.  4. Starting at your pet’s nose, move the pendulum slowly towards the tail
  5.  5. Stop moving the pendulum when it starts to swing
  6.  6. Allow the pendulum to swing over the area until it stops (if the swing was counter-clockwise, complete steps 7 through 10. If the swing was clockwise, go to step 11.)
  7.  7. Move the pendulum off your pet
  8.  8. Gently shake the pendulum
  9.  9. Return the pendulum to the last area where the swinging occurred
  10. 10. Allow the pendulum to swing until it stops
  11. 11. Repeat steps 4 through 10 until you have reached your pet’s tail without the pendulum swinging

Your pet’s energy and chakras are now in balance. You can balance your pet’s energy as often as you feel necessary.

If you notice any signs of distress during the steps – trying to leave, baring their teeth, raising hair on their back or other warning signs pause or stop the balancing session. Allow your pet to calm down or fall asleep before trying to balance their energy again. After several balancing sessions, your pet may become use to the process and may show signs of enjoyment or lying down when seeing you with your pendulum.

Note: The balancing of your pet’s energy should not be used as an alternative to veterinary medicine, but as a way to enhance your pet’s quality of life and well-being. If you are concerned about your pet’s health, please contact your veterinarian.

Onyx lying on futon


Benefits of Balancing Your Pet’s Chakras

Like humans, your pet will show behavior and emotional changes when their chakras are not in balance. After balancing their energy two or more times, you may notice the following changes:

  • Relaxed and calmer
  • Reduced anxiety, nervousness and stress
  • Increased happiness and energy
  • Easier ability to adapt to their environment
  • Better training sessions
  • Faster recovery from illness, surgery or minor health issues

These are only a few benefits you might notice in your pet after one or more balancing sessions.

You can balance your pet’s chakras at any age. In time you will notice when your pet’s energy is out of balance. If you are not comfortable balancing your pet’s chakras, look for a Reiki Master in your area who works with animals.

At Seeds of Wellness, we sell handmade gemstone pendulums and work with your pets using Reiki and pendulums to help balance their chakras. Both owners, Lynne Hamilton and Brenda Mayo, are Reiki Masters and willing to help your pet. Please give us a call for more information or to set up a balancing session for your pet.

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Make Your Own Insect Repellent Using Essential Oils

It is amazing how many chemicals are in commercial insect repellents, and what exactly is DEET. I don’t know about you, but I want to reduce the amount of chemicals I put into and on my body. So is there an alternative to these commercial bug sprays that work? Yes there is, and you can make them yourself with essential oils. Plants create chemicals to repel predator bugs and attract pollinating insects. There are several plants known to repel insects like citronella, clove, lemongrass, eucalyptus, lavender and cedar to name a few. Of course some plants repel certain bugs better than others as shown below (from Tasty Yummies): eucalyptus leaves and flowers

  • Mosquitoes – citronella, lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, catnip, basil, clove, thyme, lemongrass, geranium, lavender
  • Fleas – cedarwood, citronella, eucalyptus, tea tree oil, lemongrass, lavender, orange, pine
  • Ticks – rose geranium, juniper, rosewood, thyme, grapefruit, oregano

Make sure you purchase therapeutic grade essential oils for your insect repellent because they don’t contain any man-made toxins. Fragrance oils, on the other hand, are made using chemicals to recreate a plant’s scent. (See “Essential Oil or Fragrance Oil?” to learn more.) To make your insect repellent, you need the following:

  • 4 oz. dark colored spray bottle (preferably glass)
  • 2 oz. boiled or distilled water
  • 1 oz. vodka or witch hazel
  • Essential oils of your choice from list above

Fill the 4 oz. spray bottle with the water, vodka or witch hazel and 50 to 75 drops of essential oils from the list above (ex: 30 drops of citronella, 15 drops of eucalyptus, 10 drops of lavender, 10 drops of lemongrass and 10 drops of oregano). Because essential oils don’t dissolve in water, you must shake your bug spray before each use. Therefore, don’t fill the bottle completely full to allow shaking room. To reduce the strength of the insect repellent, reduce the amount of essential oils you add to the spay bottle. Apply your insect repellent to your skin every few hours for maximum effectiveness. Would you like your bug spray to contain a skin moisturizer? You can add coconut, olive, almond, grapeseed or jojoba oil to your mixture.

If you would like your insect repellent to be a lotion instead of a spray, put 8 oz. of your favorite oil in a dark colored jar, add 50-75 drops of essential oils and stir the mixture. Be sure to use a dark colored container or spray bottle (preferably glass) because essential oils deteriorate (oxidize) and lose there benefits over time when exposed to sunlight or continuous heating up and cooling down. Glass is preferred because some essential oils, like cinnamon, eat at plastic, which contaminates the oil. Read more about storing essential oils on AromaWeb. If you don’t want to purchase all these essential oils, we sell a proprietary essential oil that repels insects. This blend includes lemon eucalyptus, citronella and lemongrass as well as 12 other essential oils in a fractionate coconut oil base. Use this essential oil in the following ways:

  • Apply small amounts directly on your exposed skin.
  • Diffuse it into the air using a diffuser or by applying 1-2 drops on a string or ribbon and hang in the area where you want to keep out insects.
  • Make a spray by adding 2-3 drops of of the essential oil to 1-2 oz. of witch hazel or distilled or boiled water in a small spray bottle and shake well. You can apply this bug spray to your skin or small openings where bugs may be entering the area.
  • Dilute 3-5 drops in 1 tablespoon of carrier oil like coconut or olive oil and apply to your skin.

This essential oil lasts up to six hours when used full strength. If you diluted this essential oil blend, you will need to reapply it every four hours. It is always best to test your insect repellent on a small area of your skin to make sure you are not sensitive to the mixture. If your skin is sensitive to full strength essential oils, dilute them as stated above and test again on a small area of skin.

Your homemade bug spray can also be used on fabrics, carpet, plants and more. Watch spaying your repellent around animals. They may be sensitive to one or more of the essential oils. Please consult your veterinarian before using your insect repellant on any animal, especially cats. Due to the way cats process and filter what they eat, they are more sensitive to essential oils and can be allergic to them (ex. Melaleuca or Tea Tree Oil).

If you would like to try our proprietary essential oil or using other essential oils to make your own insect repellent, stop into the store. We sell this essential oil, oregano, lemon, lavender and peppermint in small bottles of 20 drops.

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Differences in Gemstones

We love gemstones, especially in jewelry, but what do you know about them?

Precious vs. Semiprecious Gemstones

Various GemstonesPrecious gemstones are diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. These stones have been considered precious since the min-1800’s due to their rarity. All the other stones are considered semiprecious. However, this does not mean that precious gemstones cost more than semiprecious gemstones. Some jades and opals have been sold for over $1 million.

Natural vs. Lab-created Gemstones

Natural stones are created in and mined from the earth. However, sometimes the natural stone’s color and/or clarity are enhanced through a treatment process, such as heat.

There are gemstones being created in laboratories which look like natural stones. Opalite, diamonds, rubies and other stones are created using the same composition as natural stones to make gemstones more affordable.

Neither of these gemstone types should be confused with imitation gemstones. These stones are made using dyes, paint, foil, glass and various other materials. Cubic zirconia is an imitation gemstone.

What to Look for When Purchasing Gemstones

Gemstones range in color, clarity, cut and caratColor – A gemstone’s color varies in hue like the different shades of paint colors (i.e., yellow can be bright to dark to pastel). Hue, tone and saturation are aspects of color. The primary color of the gemstone is the hue. The lightness or darkness of the color is called tone. Saturation means the intensity of the color. Gemstones best color consists of bright, intense, pure and vivid color.

Cut – The cut of a gemstone affects its appearance, maintains maximum weight and optimizes it color and brilliance. A well cut gemstone comes alive in the light as it dances through the many facets in the gemstone.

Clarity – All natural stones have imperfections that can enhance or decrease the beauty of the gemstone. These imperfections are call inclusions and affect the transparency of the gemstone. Inclusions include spots, cavities, cracks, and fractures. Three types of clarity are transparent, translucent or opaque. A diamond, amethyst and quartz are transparent while an agate, moonstone and aventurine are translucent. Opaque gemstones include jasper, bloodstones, lapis lazuli, malachite and hematite.

Carat – (gemstone’s weight) One carat equals 200 milligrams or 0.20 grams (1/5 of a gram). The more carats, the more the gemstone weighs, and the higher the price.
All of these gemstone description deal with its appearance. However there is more to gemstones than appearance alone.

Gemstone class - amethyst

To learn more, call and sign up for our “Gemstones – Properties and Uses” class on Thursday, April 9. Go to our “News” webpage to learn more about the class.

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What Benefits Might I Receive from Meditation?

Over the years I have heard people talk about meditation and the need to quiet your mind. I remember sitting on my living room floor without a single TV or radio playing and trying to stop thinking. It didn’t work, so I never tried it again.

Lately, I have learned that there are many ways to meditate, and they don’t all involve shutting down all thoughts. “Our brain is like a wayward puppy, out of control. Catching it and putting it back to the object of focus is the mediation,” according to Mike Brooks, an Austin, Texas-based psychologist*.


What Is Meditation?

Man sitting on floor meditatingMeditation, a simple, easy and inexpensive way to calm your mind and find inner peace, has been practiced for centuries. The practice of meditation started as a way to help deepen your understanding of the mystical forces of life. Today, mediation is mainly used to help you relax and reduce your stress.

What makes meditation so popular is its simplicity. No special equipment, specific location or a certain position is needed to meditate. It can be as easy as focusing on your breathe as you let go of each thought as it arises.


Is There More Than One Way to Meditate?

There are different types of meditations. A few of the popular types are listed below:

  • Mindfulness: Also called “Vipassana”, is the most popular form of meditation in the western world and originates from a Buddhist tradition. As you become aware of your breathing, you let your thoughts and emotions run, being aware of each thought and emotion without judging or focusing on it.
  • Transcendental Meditation: Comes from Hinduism. You sit with your back straight while repeating a mantra or sacred word. At more advance levels, you focus on changing your breathing to change your state of being.
  • Kundalini: You focus on the chakras as you concentrate on your breathing. While meditating, you start at the root chakra and focus on the energy while working your way upward to the crown chakra.
  • Qi Gong: (pronounced CHEE-gung) A form of Taoist mediation has you focus your attention on your breathing while you envision circulating energy in and around your body and spirit. It combines relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to restore balance.
  • Guided Visualization: Involves concentrating on an image or imaginary environment and many times is done while listening to a recording. Some recordings provide a method that you can use to meditate with or without the recording.
  • Heart Rhythm Meditation: As you breathe full, deep, rhythmic breaths, you focus on different areas of your body to feel your heart beat in that location.

You may also enjoy moving forms of meditation such as Tai Chi, Yoga and walking meditation where you focus your mind on a sound, movement, object or single thought.


Are There Mental Benefits to Meditating?

Meditation helps reduce information overload that can contribute to your stress. In doing so, you may feel the following:

Meditation helps your body get back into balance

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved concentration
  • Increased mental focus and memory
  • Stabilized moods
  • Handled stressful situations better
  • Increased happiness
  • Decreased negative emotions
  • Improved self-awareness


What Are the Physical Benefits?

The physical benefits are still being debated, but there is growing scientific support showing that meditating does have medical benefits. Some of these benefits include the following:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Decreases muscle tension
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Increases your energy level
  • Slows aging

Meditation doesn’t cure illnesses. If you have any serious illnesses, you should talk with your doctor about any pros and cons of meditation before you begin meditating.

To learn more about what happens to the brain during and after meditation, read this article on


Woman standing on the beach meditating

Overall, meditating helps you de-stress be releasing stress from your system and preventing stress from getting into your system simultaneously. This occurs no matter which type of meditation you choose to do. It takes only 20 minutes or less daily and can be accomplished almost any where.

If you are interested in being part of a meditation group once a month, please contact Seeds of Wellness at 440-933-7733. If we have enough interest and a common day and time, we will start offering monthly meditation sessions.


* article “Meditation Techniques for People Who Hate Meditation”.


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New Year’s Resolution? Let’s Try Something New – Intention

Let's New Year's intention instead of resolutionIf you are like me, you have given up on making a New Year’s resolution because you never kept it beyond a few weeks, if you start it at all. Why is this true for many of us?

Most of the New Year’s resolutions I’ve made and heard go something like this: I am going to lose 40 lbs., eat less sugar, quit smoking, etc. The resolutions usually focus on an aspect of ourselves we feel we need to change (fix) – something negative and in the past.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a resolution is “the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something; an answer or solution to something.”

My resolutions never included a plan or a solution and felt more like a test that I either passed or failed. I guess that is why they never happened. Isn’t there a better word than resolution that could help us focus on the future and be positive?

How about intention? After all intentions are the things you “plan to do or achieve : an aim or purpose,” as per the definition by Merriam-Webster. I think this fits much better and includes a purpose!

Intention is more about the journey than the destinationIntentions also allow for flexibility, are ongoing, can change as needed and focus on positive results. For example, I could intend to view exercise as a fun activity instead of a chore, look for something positive about each day and reduce my sugar intake by paying more attention to what I eat. Intentions are more about the journey instead of the destination.

However, you need to believe you can achieve your New Year’s intention, or it is as worthless as a New Year’s resolution. By keeping it simple and focusing on the bigger picture instead of a finite goal, you are more likely to get in touch with your feelings and desires. Remember intentions are not about failure or success, but the striving to be a better you.


Would you like to learn more about creating intentions for 2015? Donna Bretz will help us set our intentions; create affirmations and more by making vision boards to inspire us throughout the year. The two hour class takes place on Sunday, January 11, at 2:00 pm. Sign up online, call or come into Seeds of Wellness.

Only 7 seats available, so reserve your spot today!

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Snow Shoveling – How to Prevent Injuries

Our first snowfall is here whether we like it or not. It is time to find the snow shovel and the salt. While doing this, I remembered all the aches and pains I felt after shoveling, so I decided to find out if I can avoid that this year. Here is what I learned:

7% of injuries and all deaths relate to heart problems. Over 11,000 adults and children are seen in the ER each year with snow-shoveling related injuries. Many of these injures occur in the morning when our back is the most unstable because the back has not felt the forces of gravity for 6 – 9 hours.

This explains part of my aches, but how long should I wait before I go outside and shovel?

It is suggested that we do our morning routine for 30 minutes or more before going outside to shovel. This gets your back use to feeling the force of gravity and gets the muscles moving. However, who wants to get up that much earlier in the morning? I know I don’t. So is there an alternative?

Stretching helps prevent injuries while shoveling snowYes, stretching. By stretching our arms, legs and back before and after shoveling will help the muscles warm up and reduce muscle strains. This can be done by walking around, marching in place and doing a few warm up exercises.

Also, don’t drink that cup of coffee or alcohol before heading out the door. Coffee and other caffeinated beverages may increase your heart rate and can reduce your blood flow. Water or decaffeinated drinks like herbal tea will help hydrate our body before and after you shovel the snow. Fortunately for me, I never liked the taste of coffee.

I’ve warmed up my muscles and avoided caffeinated beverages and alcohol, so now what?

Dress in layers rather than just one large coat. The layers should allow freedom of movement, and you can remove the layers to avoid becoming over heated as you shovel. Make sure nothing gets in the way of your vision, like your hat or scarf. Ice can develop under the snow, so you need to be cautious at all times.

Make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear, gloves and head wear to avoid frostbite. You don’t want to be wearing loose shoes, shoes that aren’t water-resistant or footwear with smooth soles to prevent twisting your ankle, getting cold and wet feet or slipping on the ice.

I’m dressed in layers with the appropriate footwear and gloves, but how do I avoid injuries while I shovel?

Squat using your legs and hips when shoveling and avoid lifting the snow when possible. Keep your back straight, only bend at the waist and avoid twisting. Push the snow whenever possible. This helps reduce the amount of weight carried by your back.

Brush the snow off your car first. Start shoveling at the center of the area you are shoveling and work your way to the edges. This helps prevent having to move the snow twice. Always work the snow closest to you. The farther out you reach, the easier it is to strain your muscles and lower back.

If you must lift the snow, make sure you lift it using your knees and hips. Only put as much snow as you can easily lift, and lift the snow only as high as necessary. DO NOT twist at your waist or throw the snow over your shoulder. This could result in back and muscle injuries. Instead turn using your feet and face the direction you throwing the snow. Also switching the shovel from the right-hand to the left-hand and changing your hand grip periodically will help prevent overworking muscles on one side of your body.

Shovel the snow often during the snowfall to avoid heavy, packed snow and results in less chance of injury. Keep your back to the wind, so you won’t get a face full of snow. Work at a steady pace, about 15 scoops a minute or less, to avoid overworking your muscles. Also, if you are sweating, when you stop you could become chilled. Remove layers to avoid overheating as you shovel. Shoveling snow can take 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the area you are shoveling.

Enjoy the snow without injuries while shovelingIf the snow is sticking to the shovel, spray cooking spray on the shovel blade. If you don’t have cooking spray, car wax, floor wax and candle wax will work as well. This will help the snow easily slide off the shovel and reducing muscle strain.

Above all, don’t overexert yourself. If it is very cold or windy outside, make sure you take breaks when you become too cold, tired or your body is aching. A good rule is to rest for the same length of time that you were shoveling, i.e., 15 minutes of shoveling and 15 minutes of rest.

Most importantly – if you feel pain or anything not normal, STOP. By continuing, you can cause a more serious injuring or health issue. Consult your doctor if you have any health concerns before shoveling the snow.

I survived the first shoveling of the season. I did my warm ups, dress appropriately and drank plenty of fluid to keep hydrated. However, I still had a few aches. Is there anything I can do to limit the aching without taking pain medication?

If you are only have minor muscle soreness, treatment options include rest, ice in first 48 hours and a topical cream. Rest is, of course, the simplest treatment, but who has time to rest especially if the snow starts falling again. Ice only works soon after the soreness begins, but if you are heading off to work after shoveling, this may not be an option.

The topical creams, like IcyHot, BenGay, Biofreeze, etc., will help reduce the pain, but they don’t help the underlying muscles. However, the cream will help until you are able to use a more effective treatment. Our proprietary essential oil, a stainless and greaseless cream or liquid, is an effective temporary painkiller that soothe and reduces muscle soreness.

Simple Stretching Exercises: from Mayo Clinic, from Real Simple and from SparkPeople

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