|The Winds of Change
Always looking to nature for wisdom and inspiration, the weather of late - swirling winds and cooler temps - has got me thinking about the (often) fluctuating nature of our minds and experience. Specifically, what makes for a positive experience or happiness? What creates this condition in someone or in someone's life? How do we extend a positive experience of life beyond what we have previously known even if circumstances change?
As part of my practice, I have many people coming for help because they want to find natural ways to improve their experience of life that is otherwise filled with anxiety, grief, or depression. From a holistic perspective, fluctuations in mood can be improved through identifying physical causes that might have a negative effect (infectious disease, hormone imbalance, metabolism effects, poor nutrition, detrimental environment, as examples) and correcting that as much as possible through improved diet, herbal supplements, therapeutic movement and lifestyle changes. But many times we also need to work from the inside out and tend to our thought world as much as we tend to our bodies. How often do we actively pull out weeds of negativity from our inner garden and purposely plant seeds of positivity? How do we cultivate happiness? Many people - both scientists and spiritual leaders - have perspectives on how we can do this. Perhaps it is by merging the insight of these usually separate worlds that gives us the most useful answers. Below are some thoughts and resources that may be helpful to you along these lines.
Wishing you continued health and happiness -
Funda M. Gulmen, N.D., M.S. - Naturopathic Physician
2505 Main Street, Suite 224
Stratford, CT 06615
* Please note - my office has moved. Still located across the street from the Stratford train station in Stationhouse Square, however, now in the other building across the parking lot, on the second floor above Allstate Insurance in suite 224. The phone number is still the same. Wheelchair accessible. *
Integrating both traditional (nutritional counseling, herbal medicine, homeopathy) and modern therapies (pharmaceuticals, radiological imaging, minor surgery), Dr. Funda M. Gulmen is a licensed naturopathic physician who offers natural medicine for the whole family - children, seniors, men and women - through her private practice in Stratford, CT.
Additional services include: stress management, mind-body medicine, therapeutic movement, lifestyle counseling, cleansing programs, food allergy/lab testing, supplement reviews, annual physical exams, yoga/meditation instruction, Reiki and integrative medicine seminars/publications.
- Accepting Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Aetna, CIGNA and ConnectiCare healthcare plans -
Blending Science and Spirit to Overcome Anxiety and Insomnia
60 year old A had come to me because she had been dealing with anxiety and insomnia for over six months. The symptoms had come on suddenly while she was traveling overseas. She had been admitted to the hospital several times because of the anxiety, near panic attacks she was experiencing. She was on medication that helped to some extent but she was still experiencing difficulties and it was effecting her ability to do many things she often did like travel and take care of her grandchildren. I initially sent for blood tests to see if there was any physical cause that might be causing these symptoms. But also through our discussion, she mentioned she had always had a low level of anxiety that she had experienced even as a child, as she recalled. It also seemed that several people in her family had similar experiences which meant that there could also be either a genetic or learned behavior aspect of her symptoms. The labwork determined that she had an infectious disease that had not been previously indentified and needed to be addressed. I gave her a few nutritional and herbal supplements that improved the condition of both her immune and nervous systems. Within a few weeks she was feeling better. In the meantime, I suggested she start to take yoga classes so that she could learn some of the techniques they teach that help to calm the mind and anxiety levels. Following up with her a few months later, she said she loved her yoga classes, taking 2-3 classes a week and she had never been this happy before. She even said she almost didn't want to go on vacation because she didn't want to miss those yoga classes. For her, a combination of addressing physical ailments as well as encouraging learning of new lifestyle habits was what ultimately made the difference in her life and experience of it.
It is said that "art imitates life" but fortunately it can inspire it as well
in the Media
. At the very least, creative works can perhaps offer a new perspective on our life situation or experience as part of an integrated treatment program when someone is experiencing the blues.
"Listening to Depression: How Understanding Your Pain Can Heal Your Life"
by Lara Honos-Webb, PhD
click here to read an exerpt
I have turned to this book many times over the years because I appreciate its perspective on the experience of challenging times in life. Instead of seeing all forms of anxiety, depression, grief as an entirely pathological state that it can also be seen as a deeper calling for change and healing. That such experiences can be nature's way of causing someone to look within to adjust and correct thoughts, beliefs and ways of being that no longer serve them. It can perhaps offering meaning and metaphor for darker, tumultuous periods of life.
"Happy" - film, 2011 (on DVD)
This doumentary film brings together information from the science of happiness and interviews with people from around the world about the experience of happiness and how to create more of it. Both thought provoking and inspirational.
"Intouchables" - film, 2011
(now playing in theaters)
Tells the true story of a wealthy, physically disabled risk taker who lost his wife in an accident and whose world is turned upside down when he hires a young, good-humored, ex-con as his caretaker. Their bond proves the power and omniscience that love and friendship can hold over all social and economic differences. They each hold the key for the other to life a happier, more fulfilled life.
Kim's Journey with ALS blog
click here to follow
This is blog was created to share Kim’s journey after being diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gerhig's Disease) which involves decreasing ability to coordinate physical movements. She wanted to define her journey not by the disease itself but by the love and grace that has surrounded her during this time. This is a post by her husband, John, about his experience as her caretaker titled, "Practicing Loving Kindness":
"I woke up this morning in pain. I was tired and my body hurt after a night of many sleeping stops and starts from Jack and waking up to help Kim in the middle of the night. My emotions were frayed at the edges as I struggled to put on a good face for my family but had a hard time finding my smile. Spiritually I felt adrift.
Kim and I have a mantra for days like this. We came up with it within hours of her diagnosis: “The future is filled with fear, and the past with regret but this is a beautiful moment.” But what if it doesn’t feel like a beautiful moment? That can happen if I just let the moment “happen” to me. Some of them will be amazing and full of wonder and others will be brutal and painful – so how does staying “in the moment” actually help me? It turns out there is no such thing as the moment. You and I can share an experience and our memories and feelings of that time together can be completely different. Moreover, we can choose a perspective or lens to witness our lives through that is a product of our fear, anger, impatience, compassion, appreciation or love. We get to choose.
Imagine yourself in line at the grocery store. You tried to squeeze in grabbing a few items that you need for dinner that night before you pick up your dry cleaning and you know you are cutting it close before the dry cleaners closes for the night. You arrived in line just after a woman with a full cart and even though you only have a few items she did not offer for you to go ahead of her – in fact she completely ignored you. She doesn’t have her coupons ready, there is a question about one of her items and the red light above the cash register goes off signaling the manager to come over and she takes forever to write her check. What will you choose as your lens for that moment? I know for me I tend to become very focused on how things are not going my way, and I might even have some very unkind thoughts about that woman for not being more thoughtful or attentive. As a mean non sequitur I might even judge her for the junk food in her cart.
I could, of course, tell myself a different story. She could be distracted because her 3 year old kept her up half the night, she might have just gotten some life changing news that has rocked her and she is bravely moving forward – doing the shopping her family depends on and refusing to give in to the fear of what will come next for her. She may be the loveliest person anyone would hope to meet but today she is not at her best, today more than ever she needs the world to cut her a break. Even better, I would not need to imagine her life has fallen apart to be kind – I could just decide to embrace that extra moment of peace in my life and let it be, without judgment, without suffering.
Moments are textured and multidimensional. Living in the moment is an active, not a passive practice. If I am going to live in the moment then why not live in the best moment I can conjure? I need to manifest the moment, and as I spun these ideas around in my head this morning I was reminded of a meditation that Kim taught me years ago. The Metta Bhavana is intended to practice loving kindness and I am drawn to it because it helps me set an intention for my lens. If you’re not familiar with the Metta Bhavana I found this description by Jack Kornfield to be a nice primer. Essentially it is a meditation of practicing loving kindness towards yourself, a close friend, an acquaintance, someone who makes your life difficult, all four of them equally, and eventually the universe. I finished that meditation this morning and was immediately overcome with a renewed sense of purpose and energy. I reemerged from the back room with these three thoughts as my sacred intention for the day:
Today, I will go to the gym and play as hard as I can, not only for myself, but for those who cannot run, jump and lift – to honor that blessing in my life.
Today, I will work hard and make a difference in my job, not only for me and my colleagues, but for those who have not found their calling – to honor that blessing in my life.
Today, I will love my family with all my heart, not only for me and my home, but for those that are alone or find themselves estranged from the ones they love – to honor that blessing in my life.
It is not enough for me to let the moments of my life happen to me and then scramble to give them a loving or compassionate meaning. A sacred intention for my day sets my lens for all that happens next. For me, particularly when I wake up in pain, it has made all the difference. There are many things about my life I wish were different and they cause me pain and anger and they make me sad to the depths of my soul – but I am also incredible blessed and in this moment I choose to buoy my spirit and serve others by honoring those blessings. It is one very practical way I banish fear for Kim, and for myself. ~ John"
Doctor as Teacher:
In order to increase people's awareness of how they can take better care of themselves and achieve better health, Dr. Gulmen gives seminars to the local community. Recent presentations she has given include:
- Offering an introductory yoga class
for the public at East Rock Park in
New Haven, CT
- Dr. Gulmen has been invited to speak again to a senior group at St. Joseph's Church in Stratford, CT
If you know of a group or organization that could benefit from knowing more about natural medicine, Dr. Gulmen is available to create a health seminar or yoga/meditation class to address their particular needs and concerns. For a list of previous seminars, please visit: www.naturesourcecare.com/seminars.
The miniature bergamot citrus fruit derives its name from the town of Bergamo, Italy and creates the unique flavoring of Earl Grey tea. Bergamot oil has traditionally been used to offer gentle support when someone is experiencing anxiety, depression or nervous tension. Earl Grey tea can be made 2-3 times a day to offer benefit although if someone is sensitive to caffeine you might look for decaffeinated varieties. Bergamot essential oil can also be used daily by adding a few drops to massage oil, creams or the bath. Additionally, this plant has been noted to have an affinity for the urinary system and so many be helpful to people who have cystitis or urethritis. It has also been shown to have some anti-viral activities. Please note, Bergamot oil should always be diluted with a neutral carrier oil before any application. It also can cause a photosensitizing effect so extra sun protection may be needed.
Bergamot - as a tea or oil can offer a lift
"Mindful Flow" yoga class beginning
As of October 5, 2012 my office will begin offering yoga and meditation instruction.
This class provides a foundation in learning yoga postures while incorporating mindfulness - "meditation in motion" and is appropriate for beginning/intermediate level students. Instruction will be given on both inner and outer practices of yoga - postures, breathing, meditation. Dr. Gulmen is a 200-hr certified yoga instructor and has taught yoga classes at various locations throughout Connecticut. Private yoga/meditation sessions can also be scheduled. For class details and yoga updates, please visit: www.naturesourcecare.com/yoga
Receive a 30% discount off purchasing supplements
As of Oct 1st, 2012 Dr. Gulmen's registered patients receive a 30% discount off purchasing supplements online from www.emersonecologics.com.
The discount applies to every product, every day which includes quality brands you are familiar with. If you are a patient, please call the office or email email@example.com to receive the discount code and instructions on how to create an account. Dr. Gulmen has no affiliation with this organization, does not receive commission on sales and does not sell supplements out of her office.
"Rescue Remedy" is a Bach Flower remedy that may by helpful to people who experience emotional shock, trauma or anxiety. It is easy to administer as it comes in liquid drops, sprays, gum, lozenges. It is also safe enough to give to children and pets (alcohol-free forms are available) as there are no side effects and it can be combined with medications or supplements without contraindications. This type of product is most useful in combination with a comprehensive treatment plan and usually only provides short-term support during transitional times.
Homeopathy for Emotional Shock
A very simple practice one can adopt to learn how to refocus on the positive aspects of life is to begin and end each day by naming five things that you are grateful for. This could literally be anything -- from "I am grateful I have food to eat" to "I am glad that I have friends in my life". Some people find it helpful to be grateful for things they don't currently have in their life and "act as if" it were true to keep their minds receptive and open to the possibility instead of remaining in a disappointed or frustrated state. Also some people find that encouraging this habit starts to open them up to being grateful for even more aspects of their lives...they start to see more of the good. It can also happen that the gratefulness moves into a less conditional (and therefore less transient) form...instead of, "I am grateful for my breakfast/car/cat" it becomes, "I am grateful to be alive"...which is a pretty sweet spot :)
The Habit of Gratitude
Most people have heard about taking a warm bath to relax physical tension but not as often about a "neutral bath" to release emotional tension. A neutral bath is one that is the same temperature as your own body, roughly 97-99 degrees F. This is the temperature at which you can place your hand in a tub full of water and it feels neither warm nor cool. Bathing at this temperature is the most restorative because warmer and cooler temps stimulate the nervous system on some level. Neutral baths work because they do not provide any sensory input and allow the body to reestablish equilibrium. Warm baths, on the other hand, can be used to relax tight muscles but can be stimulating or draining energetically. Typically only 5-10 minutes in a neutral bath is required to soothe the nerves. Dimming lights and noise can also be helpful during this treatment to decrease sensory input and create a "water meditation". Caution should be taken by anyone who has a skin condition that is worsened by water, has trouble getting into/out of a tub, is pregnant or has a sensory deficit.
Hydrotherapy: Bathing back to balance via the neutral bath
It's that time of year when a bowl of piping-hot-something is exactly what the body and soul crave. Here are a few to enjoy for cozier days:
Red Lentil Soup
- 1 cup red lentils
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 3 large tomatoes chopped or 14oz Bionaturae tomatoes sauce (in glass)
- 6 cups of water
- 1/2 cup cooked brown or wild rice
- juice of 1 lemon (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
Rinse lentils three times with water so liquid runs clear. Saute garlic in olive oil in soup pot until soft. Add red and green peppers, stir and saute until also soft. Add tomatoes, stir three times then add water. Bring to a boil, add rice and salt then allow to come back to a simmer. Cook 40-50 minutes on low heat. Add more water if it becomes to thick for your liking. Serve with drizzle of lemon juice.
Lemon-dill-egg soup (Avgolemono)
- 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup cooked rice
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped dill
Bring broth and water to a boil, add rice, let simmer for 10 minutes. (If you would like a smoother texture to the soup, you can take half of the broth-rice mixture and puree it in a food processor then add it back to the original stock, otherwise move on to next step.) Whisk eggs together in bowl and gradually whisk into the hot stock, let simmer 5 more minutes. Stir in lemon juice and dill, stir three times then serve.
Mediterranean garbanzo bean rosemary soup
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 teaspoons crushed dried rosemary or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh
- 1 cup dried garbanzo beans
- 3 large tomatoes chopped or 14oz BioNaturae tomato sauce (in glass)
- 4 cups water
Soak garbanzo beans in 3 cups of water overnight and drain. Saute garlic and rosemary with olive oil in a soup pot until garlic starts to brown. Add tomatoes, stir three times then add water, let boil. Add garbanzos and bring to simmer. Simmer for 30-40 minutes. Serve with crusty bread or crackers.