Category Archives: Holistic Healing

Using the Power of Ritual to Make Big Change

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Category: Holistic Healing

by Stacey Seacord-Peters of AWAKEN Higher Brain Living

The good news is that our brains love habit.

Habits are the things we do automatically, without having to think through every single step that’s required. We brush our teeth and get dressed and reach for a glass in the cupboard in the dark without even having to see what we’re doing. Our brain’s ability to store and simply re-use this information has a huge advantage: it’s super-efficient and frees up cognitive space in the brain for other more urgent things, like navigating busy traffic or preparing for an important presentation.

The bad news? Same deal: our brains looooove habit. In fact, the brain actively looks for ways to keep us in habits. The brain doesn’t really care all that much whether the habit is a healthy one or not; it just loves repetition, familiarity, and the path of least resistance. So, it fights change sometimes like a cranky two-year-old, kicking and screaming (neurologically speaking).

The way the brain entrenches us in automatic behaviors is through something called the habit loop. In the three phases of the habit loop, the basal ganglia communicates with the prefrontal cortex and basically takes a behavior and makes it a habit.

First, there’s the cue, the thing that “triggers” a certain behavior.  Next is the routine, or the behavior itself (the habitual action). Once the action is taken, the brain releases feel-good or reward neurotransmitters, like dopamine or serotonin; these signal the brain to store both the trigger and the action for next time, so that we can be prompted to do it again. (A reward is only needed to create a habit, not to maintain one – so once the habit is established, the reward can diminish, and we’ll still feel prompted to do the same thing. Sneaky, huh?)
So, in the game of creating healthier behaviors, we need to pay attention to the habit loop: What’s the cue? What’s the behavior or routine? And what’s the reward? What is it that our bodies, minds, and spirits are really craving? A great habit serves the deepest need of the whole person; an unhealthy habit might take the edge off or serve a surface desire momentarily – but it still leaves us wanting for something more, more fulfilling, more nourishing.

So how do we break the habit loop and make positive changes in our life? The key is in the routine because ritual is a perfect fit for how the brain takes in and uses new information via the basal ganglia and prefrontal cortex in the habit loop. Here’s how you can use routine to make changes:

1. Be totally mindful, totally present to what you’re doing because it really does alter the physiological structure of the brain. It is a powerful tool. Practice being aware of what you’re doing before, during, and after a desired (or undesired) behavior. Notice what influences your feelings and your actions.

2. Pay attention to triggers – internal and external – and use them to your advantage. Do you always reach for the candy after stressful meetings? Do you crave a cigarette when your co-worker gets out of his chair to go outside? Do you reach for your smart phone whenever you feel uncomfortable in public? Learning to identify the split-second feeling or event before you act is a huge step towards gaining control.

3. Lay it out step by step. In an order that makes sense and flows naturally, decide how you’re going to approach the new behavior. If you’re trying to quit smoking or checking your smart phone all the time – intentionally create a series of tiny actions that will lead you through those moments. Follow them exactly each time. Think of them like stepping-stones across a river.

4. Repeat. As with so many things, establishing habit just takes practice. A ritual creates the right environment and encourages focus. It’s not always easy but practice does make us better at doing it.

This is exactly how the brain takes simple, small behaviors and turns them into habits. The refreshing bit of good news is that we get a say in how all of that happens.

Lake Geneva Higher Brain Living will host a three-part event at Mimosa starting in August. Please click here to view this event on our calendar.

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Metaphysical Properties of Incense

by Cathy Douglas

Incense smells good, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying it for that reason alone. But as with crystals, incense — in all its different styles and fragrances — has metaphysical properties based on a long history of use. In fact, if you’re used to working with crystals, the nature of many incenses can to some extent be compared to the properties of specific stones: sandalwood to quartz, lavender to amethyst, rose to rose quartz, etc. Using a crystal with a complementary incense amplifies the power of both.

Most modern incenses are built around a sandalwood stick or cone, overlaid with perfumes, essential oils, resins or other sources of fragrance. (For more on the general types of incense and how they are made, please see our previous article, Incense Basics.)

As always, please remember that the healing properties of the incenses below are complementary to regular treatment, not a substitute. Use common sense and seek your doctor’s advice, especially if you are pregnant or suffer from respiratory conditions.

Common Incense Blends:

Nag champa: While there is a flowering plant called nag champa, the incense that goes by that name is actually a blend of sandalwood with floral scents that include the champa flower, ylang ylang, and others.Traditional nag champa formulations also rely on resin from the halmaddi tree (Ailanthus, or tree of heaven). It creates a soothing, relaxing mood. Uses: purification, creating sacred space, spiritual matters, meditation, enlightenment.

Aastha: Very much like Nag Champa, but a little sweeter. The name means “faith.” Uses: relaxation, meditation, religious occasions.

Aqua: A light floral scent with cyclamen and primrose. Uses: any kind of cooling, whether of temper, physical fever, or excess emotion of any kind.

Darshan: This traditional blend combines sandalwood, jasmine and vanilla. The word can mean “pilgrimage,” or may imply having a vision of a deity or holy person. Uses: concentration, freedom from negativity, reviving a tired mind or spirit.

India Temple: Since this is a brand name, the ingredients are proprietary information. The manufacturer will only say that they use “the finest fragrant woods, herbs, essential oils, and other ingredients of the highest quality,” and that it is designed to smell “just like temples in India.” Uses: connecting with Hindu traditions, ritual

Opium: This incense does not contain any parts of the opium poppy. It’s a blend formulated to resemble Yves St. Laurent’s Opium perfume, which is a blend of many typical incense ingredients, including sandalwood, cedarwood, jasmine, rose, cinnamon, and many more. Unsurprisingly, it turns out smelling somewhat like a store that sells incense. Uses: sleep, lucid dreaming, developing psychic skills, contacting deities and guides in dreams.

Plum blossom: This Japanese incense is actually a combination of floral and spicy ingredients, blended to evoke spring. As far as I’ve been able to discover, it doesn’t actually use plum. Uses: meditation, connecting with Zen Buddhist or other Japanese traditions, purity, feeling young

Individual Scents

The following are properties for single incense ingredients. Remember, though, that in in the real world most stick and cone incenses contain more than one ingredient, usually including a sandalwood base.

Amber: love, comfort, happiness, healing, past life discovery, connecting with the past

Benzoin: purification, clearing negative energy, balance, prosperity, dealing with negative emotions (especially anger, anxiety and depression), working through grief

Cedar: purification, clarity, enhancing psychic skills, love, preventing nightmares, respiratory infections *

Cedarwood: purification, protection, abundance, grounding, clarity, male virility, strength (including strength during a healing process)

Cinnamon: prosperity, success, healing (especially during winter), love and romance, amplifying the energy of spells or rituals, strength, cultivating power (especially for people who feel otherwise powerless, or as if they are in a hopeless situation)

Copal: Purification, protection, exorcism, finding true love, separating from toxic relationships

Cypress (including Hinoki): Strength, comfort, stress relief, confidence, will power, concentration

Dragon’s blood (resin from dracena plant): removing negativity, banishing unclean entities, protection (especially during magical work), enhancing power, male energies

Frankincense: Purification, consecration, meditation, resolving conflicts, speaking up for oneself or others, transforming a chaotic environment to one of peace. Often used in religious rituals, sometimes with myrrh.

Gardenia: Love, healing or maintaining good health, peace

Geranium / Rose geranium: courage, protection

Ginger: love & romance

Jasmine: attracting love or money, cultivating beauty (especially inner beauty), creativity (especially creating something that will touch other people), connecting with others emotionally, wisdom, dreaming (including prophetic dreaming)

Juniper: psychic skills, psychic protection & protection from the evil eye, breaking a string of bad luck

Lavender: relaxation & sleep, protection & purification, romance, cleansing (especially after a period of health issues), healing (especially from addictions), serenity

Lemon: healing, purification, love. An especially good scent to use during fasting.

Lemongrass: mental clarity, relief of respiratory conditions *

Lotus: peace & harmony, improving mood, concentration, focus. Very good for meditation, or to burn while studying.

Mesquite: disinfecting, digestive problems, enhancing the energy of spells or rituals

Musk: love & romance, courage, facing one’s limits (especially one’s mortality), connecting with departed loved ones

Myrrh: purification, consecration, exorcism, banishing negative influences, connecting with solar deities & powers. Traditionally burned during funerals.

Patchouli: attracting love ** & money, connecting with fae, sensuality, fertility, finding happiness

Pine: purification, banishing negative energy, removing curses, moving beyond outgrown habits and circumstances, strength & healing, finding a job

Rose: love & romance, fertility, emotional healing, enhancing beauty (including inner beauty), divination, house blessing

Sage: protection, purification, wisdom, balancing mind / body / soul, cleansing, creating & purifying sacred space.

Sandalwood: Protection, purification, sanctification, offering to any god, good luck.

Sweetgrass: Purification, space clearing, calls up beneficial spirits.

Vanilla: love & romance, decision making, study, power

Ylang ylang: Love, harmony, peace, euphoria

* If you use incense as a complementary treatment for a respiratory condition, be sure to use a very pure blend, and stop use immediately if the smoke causes any discomfort. If the condition is a serious one, consult your doctor before burning any incense.

** If you use patchouli to attract love, it might be a good idea to make sure the object of your desires doesn’t hate the stuff. Many people have a visceral, negative reaction to patchouli, in part because in the past it’s been used to mask the smell of pot or BO.

Aroma Reading with Dr. Christina Wilke-Burbach, PhD

Dr. Christina Wilke-Burbach PhD

Which ONE of the following essential oils do you like the most: Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Sandalwood, Lavender, Patchouli, Rose, Eucalyptus, Jasmine, or Tea Tree?

If you are not familiar with all of their scents, take a look at the picture below and choose which ONE of the 9 bottles you are the most attracted to or drawn to.  It’s ok if you are not quite sure why you are drawn to it. Don’t think too hard either….it should be the first bottle that pops into your mind.

aroma reading Mimosa article

Oils from left to right:

Bergamot: Symbolizes balance, particularly mental/emotional balance. Bergamot is the best oil for emotional conditions, anxiety, depression, stress, anger, etc. Bergamot is also associated with money and financial well-being. Have you been feeling a little “off” lately? Bergamot asks you to further explore your emotions…..are you in control of your emotions or are your emotions in control of you?

Ylang Ylang: Sacral Chakra Oil. Symbolizes sensuality, sexuality, and the balance of male/female energies. Is a potent aphrodisiac. Also symbolizes a kundalini awakening and the meeting of Shakti and Shiva. Ylang Ylang asks you to take a look at the role both male energies (yang, assertive, active, outward, heat) and female energies (yin, intuitive, passive, inward, contemplative, cool) play in your life. Are you a balance of both yin and yang? Why or why not?

Sandalwood: Assists to find spiritual purpose, ground, and center energy. Sandalwood helps to link the base chakra to the crown. One of the most important spiritual oils. Sandalwood asks you to further explore your spirituality and your “life purpose.” Why are you here? Are you doing what you are meant to do? Are you living or existing?

Lavender: The most popular essential oil/herb and perhaps the most overused. Associated with healing and the healing arts. Symbolizes integration, balance, healing, protection, and purification. Also associated with the third eye. Lavender asks that you take a look at your life path, goals, and aspirations…..are you clearly seeing the whole picture or just what you want to see?

Patchouli: Symbolizes Mother Earth, The Forests, and Nature. A Root chakra oil, patchouli is associated with foundation, trust, protection, and security. Patchouli asks you to look at your connection to earth….have you been spending enough time in nature? Is your energy stuck “up in the clouds?” Connect to mother earth in some way today.

Rose: Is the highest vibrating essential oil and symbolizes Divine Feminine energy. A very powerful heart chakra oil that represents love, self-love, and the higher emotions….compassion, peace, joy, harmony. Rose asks you to take a look at what type of emotions you have been experiencing lately….lower emotions like depression, anger, greed or have they been heart centered emotions? What do you need to do to shift your emotions to a place of love?

Eucalyptus: Is a potent throat chakra oil and symbolizes communication; both listening and speaking.  Are you speaking your truth? Are you an assertive communicator? Do you let others walk over you and take advantage of you? Eucalyptus also aids in healing and protection….physical protection as well as energetic protection. Eucalyptus asks that you take a look at your relationships and how effective the communication is in all of them. What role do you play and what can you do to make your communications efficacious?

Jasmine: An extremely feminine oil strongly connected to the moon and the mysteries of the night. Jasmine is symbolic of the bond of love and passion. Has been used in love potions for centuries. Are you a romantic at heart? Are you seeking a loving partner? Jasmine asks that you take a deep look at what or who you truly desire.

Tea Tree: Traditionally is associated with cleansing and physical healing medicinal properties, but has very powerful emotional properties. Symbolizes deep levels of emotional healing and past life issues. Have you just undergone a personal transformation? Tea Tree asks you to evaluate what burden you are carrying from the past that does not serve you a higher purpose. How can you release it?

Want Our Free DIY Aromatherapy Spa Recipes?

Interested in learning more about intuitive and metaphysical aromatherapy?  Please check out Mind, Soul, and Self LLC: Dr. Christina Wilke-Burbach PhD, is a Holistic Health Psychologist, a leading Aromatherapy Instructor in the Midwest, is a Business Member of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, and is committed to the safe and ethical use of essential oils. She also offers individual Aroma Readings, a technique she developed and teaches in her aromatherapy certification program. Classes start at Mimosa Books and Gifts September 6, 2014.

Click here to find out more about Christina’s aromatherapy classes.

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Holistic Healing with Herbs: Stress

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Category: Holistic Healing
Written by Mimosa
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By Dr. Christina Wilke-Burbach PhD, RMT

There are so many different forms of stress in our society nowadays that it is almost impossible to escape. A stressor acts like a trigger as it causes the body to go into fight or flight mode. The natural order in the body is disrupted and normal bodily functions and brain/body chemistry is interrupted. The point of these physiological changes throughout evolution was to enable the species to survive through fighting danger or running away from threats. But instead of physical danger, much of today’s stress is emotional. Individuals interpret situations as being beyond their control or perceive that they do not have enough resources to cope with the situation thus creating stress.

Stress is cumulative; it continues to add up and its effect can impact health. Stress increases heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and the inflammation response. Stress also increases the production of stress hormones and neurotransmitters. If these levels do not return to baseline, they continue to circulate in the body and do serious damage. It is estimated the stress is either directly or indirectly responsible for up to 85% of dis-ease and illness; particularly chronic ailments such as heart disease, headaches, autoimmune disorders, and digestive disorders.

One of the best ways to combat stress and counteract the health effects of stress is to utilize the healing gifts of Mother Earth. I personally and professionally have had the best results in herbal healing using botanicals to treat stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Nature has everything we need to promote health and wellness. There is no reason to reach for pharmaceuticals that bring on more side effects than the ailment we originally aimed to treat. I am an advocate for holistic healing; treating the entire person, mind, soul, and self. Let’s take a look at how to use herbs holistically to treat stress.

Physical: Everyone in the United States should probably be using an adaptogenic herb on a regular basis. Adaptogens are a category of herbs that buffer against and protect us from the effects of stress. They are often used as tonics. Adaptogens improve the immune system, have antioxidant properties, increase energy, protect the liver, and decrease our cravings for sugar when stressed. There are a number of Adaptogens, but I will just mention two, Asian ginseng and American ginseng.

Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) is a yang tonic. This means that it promotes yang energy (warm/dry energy). This adaptogen is appropriate for those with a cool constitution: chronic fatigue, lethargic, low blood pressure, cold, “lazy” energy. Suggested dosage is 200-400mg. Ginseng may be used up to 3 months at a time.

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), is a yin tonic. This means that it promotes yin energy (cool/damp energy). This adaptogen is appropriate for those with a hot constitution: type A personality, high blood pressure, aggressive, hyperactive, hard time relaxing, hot, etc. Note: This herb grows well in Wisconsin! Suggested dosage is 100-200mg, up to 3 times a day. Ginseng may be used up to 3 months at a time.

Emotional: There are a number of emotional symptoms of stress but let’s focus on using sedating herbs to reduce anxiety and insomnia. Please note, the herbs below should not be combined with alcohol or other sedatives such as sleeping pills or anxiety medications as they can compound the effects.

Kava (piper methysticum) is the most studied herb used to treat anxiety. It is a potent and significantly effective anxiolytic and sedative and has also been found to relieve insomnia and restlessness. Suggested dosage is 100mg up to three times daily. Do not take Kava on a daily basis for longer than 4 to 6 months. Do not use if you have liver damage.

Passion Flower (Passiflora caerulea or Passiflora incarnate) is a gorgeous vine/flower that grows well in WI. Scientific studies have found that passion flower is just as effective as benzodiazipines in relieving anxiety. Unlike benzodiazepines, passion flower is not addictive! Suggested dosage is 90mg.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) Valerian root is commonly used a sedative-hypnotic for insomnia sleep disorders. Most clinical valerian studies focus on sleep though it has been used for anxiety. Like most of the herbal anxiolytics, it is believed to work on the GABA system. Certain serotonin receptors are also implicated. Suggested dosage is 400-900 mg.

Spiritual: Stress also affects our energetic body; aura, chakras, etc. It’s important to clear away energy we may have absorbed from other people/environments, as well as our own energy that we are holding on to that no longer serves us a higher purpose. A great way to use herbs for spiritual and metaphysical healing is to create a smudge stick. Your intent, along with burning the herbs releases the energetic properties of the herb. Dry the herbs and then braid them together. Light one end as you state your intent for using the herb to the universe. Let the smoke purify your energy system.

Angelica (Angelica Archangelica) protects by both creating a barrier against negative energy and by filling it’s user with positive energy.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is purifying. Use to repel and rid negative energies and influences.

Tobacco Leaf (Nicotiana rustica) is sacred to the Native American Tradition. When burned as an incense purifies a space.

**Any of the above herbs in the physical and emotional section can be used as teas, tinctures, or capsules. Please consult with your physician or pharmacist before taking herbs if you are on medications to avoid potential reactions. Please remember, just because something is natural does not always mean it is 100% safe! The above article is not meant to be a substitution for regular healthcare.

About Christina: Dr. Christina Wilke-Burbach is a Holistic Health Psychologist, wellness consultant, Reiki Master Teacher, ordained minister, intuitive, light worker, and an Awakening Your Light Body Graduate. Her business is Mind, Soul, and Self LLC based in WI. She has her PhD in Health Psychology, a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, 2 bachelor degrees in Psychology and Cultural Anthropology, and a minor in Sociology. As a Holistic Health Psychologist and educator, she specializes in three areas of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: natural health, energy medicine, and mind/body medicine. She has presented at academic conferences and has taught hundreds of classes, workshops, and group sessions throughout the Midwest and beyond. She is a published author and award winning researcher and healthcare provider. She is an instructor in The Art of Healing School of Energy Medicine in Milwaukee, WI and was an instructor in the Institute of Intuitive Arts and Sciences in Madison, WI. She combines science with intuition. For more info, please visit:

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