Beauty: DIY Soothing Oat Mask

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One of the main reasons I came to natural health & Essential Oils was to clean up my skincare (& home cleaning) products. I knew my super dry, eczema-prone skin was not going to get better when there were unknown chemicals & fragrances in everything I was touching.

While I don't do much with my skin other than rinse with warm/cold water & heavily moisturize, every few days (at least certain times of year), it calls for some exfoliation. Most face scrubs leave my face super irritated, red, & splotchy (not to mention have so many toxic ingredients), so I figured I'd make one of my own.

I knew Oatmeal to be really moisturizing & gentle, & baking soda to be a great natural exfoliator, so in an effort to keep it as simple & minimal as possible, I decided to keep it to two ingredients with the option to add Essential Oils for additional skin-enhancing benefits.

While this is purpose made for sensitive & dry skin types, I imagine it could be really soothing & luxurious on any skin type.

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What you need:
3oz GF Quick Oats (not sure it matters what kind, but this is what I used)
1 oz. Aluminum-Free Baking Soda
4oz. Glass Jar
2-4 drops Roman Chamomile, Lavender, Frankincense, or another favorite skin-loving doTERRA Essential Oil (optional)

Use any sized glass jar you have, the ratio of Oats:Baking Soda is 3:1.

My recommendation is 1 or 2 drops of Essential Oil for each 4oz of face scrub, less is more!

What to do:
Blitz the Oats in a food processor until it makes a powder.

Add in appropriate drop(s) of Essential Oils & blitz again.

Add Oats & Baking Soda into jar & you're done!

To use:
I tend to use the face scrub in the shower since it's a bit messy. When you're ready to use it, add about a tablespoon to a small clean bowl (or the palm of your hand, but I prefer bowl.) Add drops of water SLOWLY & stir with your finger until it becomes a paste. You should see the oats begin to cream-ify. You can choose if you prefer a thinner or thicker paste.

Rub on face with a gentle scrub & rinse. If you want to use it as more of a mask, keep it on for a few minutes. Rinse with warm (not hot) water, then with the coldest water you can get (closes up the pores & creates more glowy, happy skin). While skin is still damp, moisturize your face!

I'd love to hear how you like this recipe. If you try it, please share your feedback in the comments below!

 

Featured on MindBodyGreen: 4 Reasons To Meditate On A Plane (And How To Do It)

Read the article below, or on MindBodyGreen here: http://bit.ly/1Qm5ZIC

Let me preface by saying that in my opinion, there's no "right" way to meditate.

You don't have to be trained or have read any special mystical books, nor do you need to be seated cross-legged on a cushion with perfect posture, nestled in some magical environment.

In fact, it's often in the most unlikely of places and at the most random of times, that dropping into a meditation on a whim can do a whole lot of good.

One of those random places in particular? On an airplane.

Here are four reasons why meditation is a must-do when you're flying, plus a few tips to help get you started:

1. There's nothing else to do.

With longer flights often comes boredom, there's just no way around it. After hours of sitting in one place, we might peruse through the in-flight movies or do some work on our laptop, take a nap or get some reading done.

If we're traveling solo or have a poor Internet or TV connection (not to mention no phone calls or texts), we can find ourselves getting bored real quick.

So why not pass the time by calming and centering your mind? You're already 75% of the way there — you're sitting still and in silence.

Now just close your eyes and take some deep, mindful breaths.

2. Flying can cause stress and anxiety.

A fear of flying and not being in control — not to mention encountering turbulence — can raise your heart rate fast and make you uncomfortable.

So try this mantra in your head:

Say to yourself "I am safe" with every inhale, and "I am calm" with every exhale.

Keep this going for as long as you like and notice your heart rate start to lower and your mind begin to calm.

If you have mala beads, you can incorporate them in this meditation:

Place the mala in your right hand. Beginning from the tassel bead, move along to each next bead with your thumb allowing the mala to slide through your hand. Each time you move to another bead, repeat the above mantra in your head.

By offering your brain these positive thoughts, you'll keep from thinking of worst-case scenarios, and will begin to tune in to the present moment where everything is indeed, OK.

3. You'll get in the right mindset.

No matter where you're headed or where you're coming from, taking time to meditate while you're in transit will give you perspective and clarity about your journey.

Are you going on an exciting vacation? Tune in to how grateful you are for this experience.

Are you nervous about heading to a job interview? Check in with yourself about the ways you're smart enough, capable and passionate.

Heading to a competition? Visualize starting the big game and how you're going to execute that first play.

Traveling takes a toll on your physical body, but also on your mind. So on your flight home, make sure to take a moment to close your eyes and breathe to reset back to baseline, before jumping back into your everyday life.

4. You're treating yourself to self-care.

If "being busy" and "not having enough time in the day" are your excuses for not taking time for yourself (or meditating) on a regular basis, here's your chance!

You know exactly how much time you've got on your hands, so make room for a small chunk of self-care for YOU. There's no way you're too busy to take a few minutes for yourself in some meditation on your flight!

So there you have it, you can meditate anywhere and in a number of different ways: repeat a mantra you wish to manifest, visualize your ideal scenario, remember ways you're grateful, or just simply, to breathe.

And don't worry about looking like a spiritual weirdo to those in the aisles around you, they'll just think you're sleeping.


My newest conscious collaboration...

Being conscious is not just a practice in eating well, but living well as a whole -- how we interact with others, treat ourselves, and even down to the clothing and jewelry we wear. 

As healthy eating is a balance, it's also a balance to find brands that are as equally stylish as they are healthy to the environment and their workers.

Which is why when I was approached by Mala + Mantra to be their first Conscious Collaborator, I was ecstatic to partner up with a company that I knew understood the importance of both looking good and feeling good about what you're wearing.

Focusing on mala beads and bracelets, the company was "Designed with intention. Consciously created. Fair, sustainable fashion. To nurture the soul."

And even better, all of the M+M jewelry is crafted at a social enterprise in the Philippines that provides sustainable income, pays fair wages, and provides a safe work environment for a women’s cooperative in San Manuel, Pangasinan.

The materials like rosewood and coconut shell are sourced sustainably, AND M+M has a growing Women + Wellness Campaign that empowers female artisans around the globe. 

Could a fusion of fashion and mindfulness get more awesome?

I'd love for you to get to know M+M more, so check out this interview below (or on the M+M blog here) where I asked the company's founder, Judith Perez Compton, some fun questions!

Meredith Nordhem (MN): Why is it important to you to introduce M+M to the yoga community? How do you see meditation + yoga going hand in hand? 

Judith Perez Compton (JPC): When I first created Mala and Mantra, I wanted to cater to three core audiences: the yoga, wellness, and spa communities. I felt that these three communities would be most receptive to the larger message behind the M+M brand—that of mindfulness, self-enlightenment, wellness, and empowerment. 

I see meditation and yoga as an integrated practice, as it is for myself when I practice every morning. Meditation is how I center myself through my breathing to create self-awareness, and yoga is how I integrate my breathing and body together. When I combine the two, I achieve a mind-body-spirit connection, which is what I think many people are searching for in their everyday lives.

 MN:  What's one feeling you hope people experience when they wear their M+M malas + jewelry?

JPC: Mindfulness, which essentially is self-awareness in the present moment, without judgment.

MN: How can integrating malas and consciously created jewelry, like the kind M+M make, into one's yoga + meditation practice enhance their overall wellness experience?

JPC: Mala beads, in particular, are a traditional meditation tool used to help keep focus and count mantras while meditation, so I think their connection to meditation is very real and powerful. I use my beads every day to meditate and stay centered, and I carry them with and on me throughout the day to help embody the properties of the particular gemstone or wood malas I’m wearing.

I think mala beads and other conscious jewelry can be very useful when practicing yoga, too, because they keep you grounded. They keep you focused on the present moment, on everything going on in your body instead of outside of it, and I think that’s one of the wonderful things about yoga in general. 

MN: If M+M were a yoga pose, which pose would she be and why?

JPC: The Prayer Pose, because mala beads are used for meditation or prayer. They also symbolize the mantra Namaste, which translates to "The divine light in me honors the divine light in you." It’s one of my favorites.  

MN: What can us yoga lovers expect next from M+M?

JPC: Lots of new things are definitely coming your way in 2015!  New collections launching this Spring + Summer 2015 include our Lariats + Layers Collection, the “I Am Me” Collection, our Crafted For a Cause Collection, and our much-anticipated Yoga Mala Collection, along with exciting introductions to our vetted Conscious and Creative Collaborators (and so much more)!

Learn more about Mala+Mantra (and check out their current super fun and vibrant Moda Mala Collection) here.

Featured on The Huffington Post: 7 Things I Learned on an Elimination Diet (and How They Still Keep Me Healthy Every Day)

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Read article below or hop over to HuffPo and read it here: http://huff.to/1yTKUep

Honestly, I'm totally averse to "diets."

I've never put myself on one because I think they often set people up to "fail" because they are not sustainable in the long-term. It's this really sad, vicious cycle of trying to find the next easy way to "get skinny" that ends up making people feel really bad about themselves.

But this one was different.

I recently started with a naturopath because I wanted to make sure I was feeling my absolute best, and to see if there was anything she could do about my eczema. I've had it my entire life, and it's more or less a daily aggravation. I've tried so many remedies, none of which have worked that well.

She suggested an elimination diet to see if food was playing a role. So I gave it a go.

What is an elimination diet?

An elimination diet is when you temporarily remove a number of possibly aggravating foods from your diet to check for intolerance. Then once you've totally cleared them of your system, you reintroduce them one at a time to see if any trigger a negative reaction.

For my particular prescription, I had to eliminate gluten, dairy, sugar, corn, soy, and alcohol for 21 days. Then test each one separately (other than alcohol and sugar). All in all, it was about a 35-day experience.

Sounds pretty rough, huh?

At times, yes. But it was on this journey that I learned a few unexpected lessons: the power of will power, the underestimated importance of planning, and the beauty of good 'ol real food.

Here are the seven things I learned through this experience that continue to help me stay healthy every day:

1. Surviving a wedding (or Halloween) without alcohol or sweets is possible.

The first weekend on my elimination diet, I attended a wedding. And here's what I learned: If you're on an elimination diet, or have any dietary restrictions for that matter, plan ahead for travel and events. You might not really be sure when you're going to be able to eat next or what will be served to you, so pack diet-friendly snacks and eat a little something before you go.

Had I let myself get ravenously and deliriously hungry, I might have messed up my diet or been a very cranky guest.

One of the last weekends of my diet was Halloween (I have great planning, right?). At this point I was a total pro at going out without drinking, and was the more excited and energized to stay out partying than everyone else combined. Plus, didn't wake up with a hangover.

2. Drink soda water at a bar and no one has any idea you're not drinking.

And once they start getting tipsy, they realllyyy won't know you're not drinking.

You'll start to watch their hangover develop and be totally stoked you're not drinking, too.

3. It literally takes seconds for cravings to go away if you don't give into them.

The first Friday night of my elimination diet I went to dinner with some girlfriends.

As my friends ordered their glasses of wine, I got a little bit antsy. I wanted to partake in the act of ordering. I wanted to have it in front of my plate. I wanted to take a sip.

But I refrained. And it was not more than 10 seconds later that the feeling was gone all together. I didn't think about it again for the rest of the night.

4. Naturally sweet things actually taste better than fake sweet things.

I've never been so excited for fruit as a desert, or making coconut whipped cream, or blending up frozen bananas with raw cacao than when on the elimination diet (and I totally love healthy desserts!).

The tastes of real food are literally so rich, I couldn't imagine eating nasty, fake sugary desserts instead.

5. Eat often, and eat a lot.

When you're eating healthy food, you can consume as much as you like!

Who's ever gotten sick from eating too many veggies? No one!

Get creative and have fun with what you can have, rather than focusing on what you can't. Imagine all the tasty options and I guarantee you will start craving whatever you're dreaming up.

6. You can do handstands after dinner without feeling like you're going to barf.

When you're eating super clean foods you don't succumb that sluggish, crappy feeling that often comes along with eating the processed stuff.

It's no surprise that when you keep your energy at the same consistent level (without slipping into a food coma zone that totally drains you) you stay energized. And feel great doing things like handstands.

7. Set yourself up to win.

Plan your meals ahead of time and keep plenty of healthy snacks (and none of the bad stuff) on hand.

Making enough for leftovers to bring to lunch is crucial, too. The hungry lunchtime, "Where am I going to eat? Nothing is on my diet! I want that cookie now," mentality just doesn't have time to creep up when you don't let your hunger get to that point.

Oh, and don't grocery shop or cook hungry. That's a sure-fire recipe for a poor impulse decision.

With any diet or restriction (be it medical or self-imposed): Set yourself up to win and you will win. If you go in cold, you might pull something (or in this case, go to town on the office doughnut box). Have a positive mindset. Get creative. And do it for yourself, not anyone else.

For tons of quick and easy recipes to get you on the path to feeling healthy every day (plus yoga, meditation, and healthy lifestyle tips), check out my instagram at @mere_jane, twitter at @bwyogalifestyle, facebook here, & website at www.bewellyogalifestyle.com.

(There are a number of ways, and for a number of reasons, doctors suggest elimination diets. Absolutely check with yours before embarking on one to see if it's a good idea for you.)



Featured on MindBodyGreen: Why We Didn’t Want A Wedding (But Had a Weddingmoon Instead)

Read all about "Weddingmoon" below, or on the MindBodyGreen website here: http://bit.ly/1EEdNQ4

After six years of dating, followed by four months of engagement, my partner and I slowly began talking about what type of wedding we wanted. The more we talked, the more we knew that we either wanted to invite everyone we knew, cared about and loved — or no one but the two of us.

We narrowed it down to what was most important: to create an environment for our marriage ceremony that would be relaxed, and that would make us feel excited and happy. 

Quickly, we realized that we just wanted the two of us at our marriage ceremony. We were celebrating ourselves, our connection, and our future together, after all. Plus, some of our favorite, most intimate and memorable times together have been adventures camping, canoeing and traveling. Why not recreate these experiences in the ultimate "wedding" weekend?

And so we did. And we dubbed it a "weddingmoon."

What's a weddingmoon?" you're probably — or definitely — asking. Well, it combines the intimacy of a honeymoon with the straightforward act of getting married. The rest is up to your imagination.

With just about a month of lead time, we booked a cabin on a remote mountaintop, told our families our plans (who weren't upset at their absence in our plans, nor were they even too surprised). Then we got to planning the rest.

So on September 25, 2014 we ventured up to Topsham, Vermont from Newport, Rhode Island to embark on our weddingmoon weekend. I wore a dress, we exchanged vows, there were beautiful flowers, we ate delicious cake, and the night was filled with dancing.

… but with a few twists. Our weddingmoon weekend went a little something like this:

Shooting stars. A cold lake dip. Scared runs to & from the outhouse (bears! moose!) Wildflower picking. Nature yoga. A quest for Heady Topper Beer. A gorgeous & uninterrupted mountain landscape. Leaf-peepin'. A sunset wedding picnic. A visit to the Harpoon Brewery. And a champagne-infused, blazing fire-fueled, record-playing dance party!

In short, we celebrated in whatever way we wanted to at each moment. We used our celebration to celebrate ourselves — and no one else. So how did we feel about not inviting our families and friends?

We knew there would be compromise no matter how big or small the wedding was. Our so-called "weddingmoon" wasn't about excluding anyone or not inviting people who were close to us. Instead, it was an exercise in staying true to what made us the most happy, a good first step for our marriage.

Our celebration was about slowing down — not about getting revved up or bogged down with party-details and logistics. It was about enjoying each other's company. It was about creating a space where we could be exactly ourselves and share it with one another. It was about starting our new life together the way that felt most natural, and for us, a weddingmoon captured exactly that.

The weekend turned out more exciting and more awesome than we could have ever imagined and we would do it again in a heartbeat. But will we also go on a honeymoon? You bet.