Monday, April 13, 2009

Someone You Should Know - Debbie Young

Debbie Young is most well known in the natural healing and raw food communities as Debbie Does Raw. Not only is Debbie a gorgeous, dynamic, humorous, inspirational, and captivating woman....she's also a wife, mother, step-mother, sister, daughter, cosmetologist (you know I love that!), athlete AND she is graciously and triumphantly living with and overcoming a cancer diagnosis through her healthy lifestyle and positive attitude.

I recently asked Debbie if she would make a guest blog appearance on Real Food Tulsa, and she generously delivered a post that couldn't be more timely. Be sure to visit her blog, Debbie Does Raw, and follow her on Twitter. I promise you, Debbie is absolutely someone you should know!

Let Sleeping Monkeys Lie: Why Raw Food Is Not Enough

Lots of people want to talk about what I eat. What? Well, yeah, I do call my blog Debbie Does Raw, so unless they think I am a nudist, they want to talk "tofurkey" with me. Which is great. I love my raw vegan diet, giving juicy tips on juicing, sharing luscious raw food secrets, drooling over food porn. But it’s not the whole story. Not by a long shot. Here is a direct quote from me, Debbie Does Raw, on my Crazy Sexy Life forum page: "Healing is a holistic endeavor that I approach in a multifaceted way. There is no magic bullet cure, only many many fragments that add up to vibrant health and a beautiful life here on earth." Wow, I must have been having a deep thoughts kind of day. So if food is just a facet of vibrant health what else keeps me going strong?
Relax. Yes, I said relax, and I mean it. Don’t make me come over there. One of the driving forces that sent me for a check up and led to my diagnosis of cancer was my incredible inability to relax, ever, or sleep for more than four hours straight. My mind was in constant overdrive, in fact, day and night. Some of my “best” thinking happened at 3:20 am, and it went something like this: “I’m awake now, how will I go back to sleep? I need to get up by 7 am and get Sam’s lunch made and the PTA meeting is tonight. When was the last time I got my teeth cleaned? Did I email everyone about the school garden? What will I make for dinner? Got to go to Trader Joes. Did Warner get those copies printed? I better check my bank account, I might be overdrawn again.. What time is it now?"

You get the Buddhist terms it is called Monkey Mind, a restless never still crazy train. I think my monkey was on crack. There’s something about being told you have a chronic, fatal, untreatable (by allopathic medicine) disease that makes you change a few things, just a few dozen things.

Ok, right, Everything.
Sleep became an art and science. I draped a dark sheet over the bamboo blinds so the room was pitch black, seems any light disrupts the immune function of the pineal gland. I started meditating, added yoga to the mix, and started doing Qi Gong, a form of Tai Chi known for it’s healing properties. I stopped trying to force my child to actually go to bed at a certain time with the story and all the bedtime stuff and let my husband do it. I became militant about my rest and meditation time. I was known to yell loudly “Leave Mommy alone, I am trying to MEDITATE!!!” That monkey was still hanging out in my head; he was obviously not fully rehabbed.

So how, pray tell, do you relax while Rome Burns or sometimes, your family’s vegan dinner? I have three techniques that I learned via the magic of
my Ipod and the Triangle Vegetarian Society podcast. The speaker was Larry Green, a 25-year vegetarian and kinesiologist. I tried these at around 4 am the other day, well, yeah; sometimes the Monkey still wakes me up. I use this time to shove that earplug in, squint into the face of the Ipod to choose a meditation or listen to enlightening fare like the We Like it Raw podcast by Dhrumil Purohit, or seriously silly comedy. It depends on my monkey’s mood. No one wants an angry monkey, trust me. Mr. Green shared three ways to calm the monkey right down, turn him into a good boy, and keep his chatter down to a low roar.

Here they are in no particular order:

One: The Hand to Forehead Movie
By placing your open palm across your forehead, you calm your mind and help your thoughts clear. Once you have your hand touching your forehead, close your eyes and play out a stressful situation, movie style. First time through, do it with exquisite detail, the replay it faster and faster, each time directing and editing it to result in the outcome you desire. I love to do this with encounters at the oncologist office, just imagining how nice it will go, how pleasant it will be and how friendly everyone will act. Works for me, the monkey falls right asleep when the movie starts.

Two: The Cook Hook Up
No, it’s not a new dating site. It is a way to calm even crazy chaotic children. Teach it to your kids so their monkeys don’t wake yours up.

Cross your left ankle over your right. Now, cross your left palm over your right, interlacing the fingers with the left hand on top, or in front of the right wrist. Stretch your arms, left wrist over right up over your head. Breathe in, touching the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Breathe out and drop the tongue. Keep doing this for a few minutes. Drop your hands to your heart area and touch the fingertips together. Keep your left ankle crossed over the right for another minute of the tongue trick. Enjoy the calm, relaxed stare your body and mind will be in. Teachers can use this to help de-stress hyper kids, teach them this technique if you want to be teacher’s pet!

Three: Alternate Nostril Breathing
This is a Hatha yoga technique. Lightly place your hand into a fist, then press your thumb against your right nostril and lightly place your index and middle fingers against the left nostril. Block the left nostril gently, breathing deeply in through your right side only. Breathe out, still on just the right side, then block the right side and breathe in using only your left nostril. Try for ten repetitions or however many it takes for you to feel relaxed. Raw food is not the end all and be all to a healthy life. Eating the optimum diet does no good if the vehicle you are fueling is run down and tired out. Harmony between body and mind are key facets of the healing diamond. Your monkey will thank you.
Debbie's beautiful daughter, Sam, at Golden Bridge Yoga Studio

Debbie, my monkey and I thank you for your wisdom did you know I needed that?
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