3 Ancient Healing Practices That Can Transform Your Life
Branded "New Age," oil pulling, sun gazing and earthing are actually older than an entire Western civilization.
As old as they are, these practices are particularly relevant today, when most of us are out of balance, out of sync with ourselves, and out of touch with nature. But fear not, my lazy, broke and/or skeptical comrades! They require minimal effort, cost next to nothing, and are actually backed by scientific research.
Cost: the price of oil.
Method: You swish around a spoon of oil in your mouth first thing in the morning for 20 minutes, before (not instead of!) your usual teeth cleaning. Try to incorporate it into your existing morning routine, like while taking a shower or checking your email. I do it while I'm walking my dogs in the morning.
Benefits: reduced plaque, healthy gums, fresh breath, whiter teeth, and a powerful systemic detoxification.
Side effects: the pulled oil can be dangerous if swallowed. Always spit it out and wash your mouth thoroughly.
1. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling (oil swishing) is an ancient Indian oral remedy with a powerful detoxifying effect.
It removes oral bacteria that causes tooth decay, inflammation, bad breath, acne, toxicity and other unpleasant issues, and it's infinitely cheaper than even a single visit to the dentist.
Essentially, it acts as a sticky fly catcher: Since most bacteria have a lipid (fatty) cell membrane, the fat in the oil binds them together, collecting thousands, even millions of harmful microorganisms!
Traditional Ayurvedic recipe calls for sunflower or sesame oil, but you can use any kind of oil as long as it's organic, cold-pressed or high-quality refined. Many people, including me, prefer coconut oil. It combines fantastic anti-bacterial properties with the best flavor. The only drawback is that in its natural form it has the consistency of lard, so you have to swish it around your mouth for a few minutes until it melts.
If you can overcome the initial ickiness of the process, the benefits of oil pulling far outweigh any discomfort you might experience.
After only 5 days of oil pulling I've noticed a difference: my gums didn't bleed anymore when I flossed. I also had more energy and mental clarity. After 2 weeks my teeth sensitivity decreased, and my tongue acquired a healthy pink color. Long-term practitioners claim all sorts of other benefits, from teeth whitening to complete purification of the body, and even WebMD - a very conventional medicine web portal, says this about oil pulling:
"Unlike some so-called natural home remedies, it's not a practice that's based on pseudo-science. Recent studies show that oil pulling helps against gingivitis, plaque, and microorganisms that cause bad breath."
Method: You gaze into the sun indirectly, only during certain times after sunrise or before sunset, when the sun is not at its brightest, and only for 9 months (you can find the specifics here). The timing of this practice is very important!
Benefits: long-time practitioners report a range of benefits, from improved eyesight to kundalini awakening.
Side effects: (temporary) blurry vision, headaches, nausea and other symptoms associated with detoxification.
2. Sun Gazing (Sun Eating)
Sun gazing is exactly what it sounds like: a practice of gazing into the sun.
The main idea behind sun gazing is sun is life. In many ancient cultures sun was regarded as a life-giving entity, a Supreme God that gives nourishment to all of creation. Most creator-gods are symbolized by the sun (goddesses are relegated to the moon), and sun gazing was the highest form of worship that only the priests and other selected groups could practice.
Fast-forward to now, the sun is the enemy. Sure, everyone still loves a hot day at the beach, but in our day and age the sun is demonized as the source of harmful radiation. People are conditioned to believe that the sun is dangerous, and that avoiding the sun as much as possible is good for the skin.
Now I'm not telling you to throw caution to the wind and stop using sunscreen (although I will tell you that the chemicals in most mass-produced sunscreens have been linked to higher incidence of skin cancer, so go figure), or not to wear sunglasses. But don't turn your back on the sun altogether, figuratively speaking. Vitamin D is essential to our well-being, and a recent major study confirmed that "women who avoid sunbathing during the summer are twice as likely to die as those who sunbathe every day."
Find the right time to absorb the sun energy consciously - breathe it in. Let that golden light fill you up. It's wonderful to meditate in the sun! When you're in the presence of this warm luminous energy, there's no denying that the sun is a spiritual being. So it stands to reason that sun gazing is a powerful technique that facilitates spiritual evolution, the activation of the pineal gland, and retrains your body to subsist on solar energy.
Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to live in Southern California where sunshine is in abundance, if not in excess. But even if it's not always warm and sunny where you live, you can still connect with the energy of the sun, like in the old saying, "Behind every dark cloud the sun still shines."
Method: You walk barefoot (or lay) on the ground or the grass, hug trees, or use grounded earthing mats for when you're inside. Skin has to be touching the Earth (or the mat).
Benefits (scientifically proven): improved cardiovascular health, drastically (!) improved sleep, less muscle stiffness, decreased organ inflammation, elimination of chronic pain, reduced stress, more energy.
Side effects: none.
3. Earthing (Grounding)
If you've ever gone camping, you know that even though you weren't that comfortable sleeping in a tent, you woke up early, feeling fresh and energetic, like you've been recharged. You smelled the crisp morning air, you noticed how beautiful the landscape was, and you've probably felt the most voracious appetite of your life.
If that's true, congratulations! You're already an earthing practitioner.
Earthing (grounding) is simply the practice of connecting to the Earth by walking barefoot, hugging trees etc. That's right, hugging trees. "Tree-hugger" is not a derogatory term anymore! Now many medical professionals confirm the powerful medicinal properties of earthing.
How does it work? It's all about the electrons. Our planet emanates a powerful electric charge that you "plug into" when you walk barefoot or otherwise ground yourself. Electrons from the Earth's surface have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect because they neutralize the free radicals in our bodies that cause chronic health problems. (Not surprisingly, most modern people have an electron deficiency in their bodies.)
Earthing has countless health benefits, and it's completely free, unless you want to be practicing earthing inside, too (I do, because I'm at the computer desk all day). In that case, check out some earthing aids here.
Doing research for this piece, I came across a phrase that struck me, from an article in Utne Reader Magazine. It said: "Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Earthing is the silence surrounding it." This has been my impression about oil pulling and sun gazing, too.
I'm not a medical professional so I do not recommend these practices in that capacity. However, it seems to me that given the wealth of scientifically verifiable information on these practices, not to mention the wisdom of ancient spiritual traditions, there is still so much distrust about these modalities. Maybe we need to pay for things to believe they're valuable?
The only one I would advise to be a bit cautious about is sun gazing, because it's not so much a holistic health practice as it is a spiritual regimen with powerful transformative effects that requires a lifetime commitment.
So don't do anything unless you're ready for it and your gut says "Do it!"
© 2015 Lana Zakinov
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