Camille’s Gentle Cleanse

When was the last time you craved a salad? If you can’t remember, it might be time to realign your eating habits with a cleanse. One of the many benefits to a cleanse is that unhealthy cravings diminish afterwards. Even a short, 3 day cleanse is a reboot to your system and need not be difficult. Ready to take the challenge? Begin with stocking your house with the following ingredients:

Grocery List

  1. Kefir-Kefir is a fermented drink made with milk and grains. It has beneficial probiotic organisms that cleanse the intestine, balance the intestinal flora and destroy pathogens such as e-coli, and parasites.
  2. Flax seeds- Flax seeds are also excellent for cleansing. They absorb
    Golden Flax
    Golden Flax

    water and expand as they pass through the colon and literally scrub toxins.

  3.  Chickpeas (soaked over night)– Any legumes work and are perfect for a cleanse because they are filling and a savory alternative to meat. They are also an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium.
  4. Miso-I use miso as broth flavoring. The nutrients found in miso include vitamin B2, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium, iron, potassium, choline and lecithin. 

    Quinoa
    Nutty flavor and delicious.
  5. Quinoa-Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. Any gluten free grain can be substituted but choose organic.
  6. Vegetables of choice-for the soup.  Onion, parsley and celery are warming and aid digestion.
  7. Salad makings, lettuce, carrots, avocado, onion. Any favorite green choice is fine.
  8. Olive Oil & Balsamic vinegar & garlic for salad dressing.
  9. Cayenne, salt, pepper for flavor and to aid digestion.

Friday-Day One   Caution: Do not over eat in anticipation of the cleanse as the cleanse is short and you don’t want to spend the whole time recovering from a binge. 

Before bed. Mix the 1/3 cup of kefir with 2-3 Tbs. of freshly ground flax seeds. A coffee grinder works, or a pestle. 

Saturday Day Two

Breakfast. Start your day with a fruit salad of your choice. Whatever is in season. Add 7-12 almonds, 6-8 walnuts, 2 Tbs. of  dried coconut flakes and a sprinkle of freshly ground flax seeds. Pour the kefir over the fruit salad. You should be full when you are done but not stuffed.

Lunch. Lunch is your biggest meal and includes a delicious savory soup. Sauté diced onions and a head of celery in a small amount of olive oil until soft. (About 15 mins.)  Finally add 1/2 cup of chopped parsley, 3 cups chick peas, a quart of water, vegetables and seasonings to taste.

Dinner.  Salad and grain of your choice. I like a full avocado as it satiates my craving for fat. Other favorite salad fixings include onions, carrots, peppers, olives and anchovies.

Salad Dressing. Mix 3 Tbs.  of Olive Oil with 1 Tbs. of Balsamic Vinegar and 1 ground garlic clove. Pour over the grain and salad for a spicy flavoring.

Before Bed. Mix the 1/3 cup of kefir with 2-3 Tbs. of freshly ground flax seeds.

Sunday-Day 3 Repeat day 2!

Monday morning wake up and feel the difference.  Ease in to your week and listen to your body.

5 Beauty Industry Myths

camille 56 2
Camille Malcolm Spa Owner

Twenty-five years in the beauty and health industry have made me wary of promises made by manufacturers selling miracle cures for aging. The industry has very little regulation and in our pursuit of youth, we could be harming our skin and our health. At the very least we are wasting time and money. How to be a savvy buyer in an industry that is notorious for potions and lotions promising eternal youth?

These are just some of the things to watch out for when visiting a spa or esthetician.

Myth # 1 You get what you pay for. The more you spend, the better the results. This is simply not true. I have seen vendors come into Spa on the Plaza promising huge results if we buy their $25,000.00 machine. Upon closer inspection it was old technology, repackaged and rebranded at 8 times the cost! The same goes for product. The industry has tiers that have less to do about the product inside than the customer they are targeting. Caviar skincare anyone? Let’s put it in a glass jar and a gold top and charge $150.00 an ounce for the woman who has everything. A good esthetician and spa will steer you towards products that have results and will be considerate of your budget.

Myth # 2 Pigmentation. The promise that product will remove pigmentationFacial spots! After dozens of potions and peels, this is not my experience. In fact many of these treatments make your pigmentation worse. Unless you never let your face see the sun again, those dark spots come back and sometimes worse because the skin has been stripped of protection provided by its natural pigmentation. Instead, I recommend healing the cell with a micro-current treatment, an LED infrared light and an O2 infusion. Peels are over used and can make the skin thin and sensitive. Healing the skin with technological skincare, and healing touch is the focus of our estheticians at Spa on the Plaza.

Myth # 3 Facelifts are your only option. Not true! I recommend a monthly Micro-current Facial, which utilizes an electrical current to regenerate cellular activity. Used in the best spas for decades this is a very simple 5-minute treatment that is easily incorporated into a facial. Also, daily lymphatic drainage massage can make a huge improvement to your appearance. Facial massage is an ancient technique used by women for thousands of years because it works. Every facial at Spa on the Plaza includes lymphatic drainage massage but anybody can easily incorporate this into his or her daily routine. Finally, before you resort to surgery, I recommend Ultherapy. It is half the cost and has no down time. The results are remarkable and it looks more natural than most facelifts.

Myth # 4 Sun is bad for your skin. Not true! Early morning or late afternoon sun is excellent for our skin. It gives us our vitamin K and also a golden glow that signifies health and vibrancy. Get outside, move your body and you will emit a youthful appearance. The sun is good for us on many levels. Do not be afraid of it.

Myth # 5 Because it is natural, it is safe. Natural does not mean organic. Neither does it promise that the ingredients are safe. The ingredients in cosmetics are not regulated in the United States and yes, some are very dangerous for your health. Many ingredients used by the cosmetic industry have been proven to cause cancer and harm  the reproductive and endocrine systems. At Spa on the Plaza we do not sell or use any product unless it has been deemed safe by the highly reputable non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Be educated and informed with a healthy skepticsim and find an establishment you can trust.  We hope to see you soon at                     Spa on the Plaza.

Meditation Made Easy

meditatingI used to swim daily in the warm ocean waters of La Jolla California. I remember my body felt light, buoyed by the salt water and the lapping waves. As I turned my face into the cold ocean I saw  tendrils of seaweed reaching towards me from the dark recesses of the ocean floor. The rhythm of my breath was the prominent sound and my mind became singularly focused on reaching the buoy in the far distance. For years I practiced this daily ritual and yet if someone asked if I meditated I would say, “no, I can’t sit still long enough.” This rather narrow perspective was altered when I studied the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. He practices walking meditation and explains there are many opportunities throughout the day to reach deep meditative states by simply observing the subtle body through breath and mindful presence.

Years later, when I moved to the  Central California where the ocean water is an average frigid 57 degrees, I gave up ocean swimming for dance. Here too, I found an opportunity to go into a deep state of meditation. My teacher, Arjuna Vinn Marti, descInner Dancerribes the inner spiral and teaches a simple technique he calls the ABCDs. Assemble, Breathe, recognize that motion is Circular and when you are ready, Dissolve. Through this practice the dancer discovers an inner resonance unique to themselves which ultimately expresses itself in the dance.

Whether your movement is dancing, running or gardening, by bringing conscious breath and focused awareness to your activities, you can achieve deeper meditative states which can help to reduce stress, improve concentration, elevate mood, improve sleep…the benefits are multitude and varied but the proof is in, meditation enhances well being and changes brain function. So if, like me, you are a person in motion, stop, breath, pay attention and reach a whole new level of performance both physically, emotionally and spiritually. Namaste.

Like a Butterfly!

ButterflyWhat secrets do I hold in my deep subconscious?  What is that quagmire of emotions where things go bump in the dark! There, in the belly of my soul, resides all the anger and disappointments swallowed whole and forgotten.

I was the pleasing child, full of smiles and sunny promises. Like most children I lived in a demanding world of needs and expectations and I became “the adaptive child.” Somewhere in my pleasing manner I lost my roots, my center, my personal barometer.

As a woman who chooses to step into my wisdom, I say enough! I no longer serve the voices of my mother, my father, my sisters and the barrage of imagery and hidden messages which tell me to hold my tongue and to diminish myself. In this new found space I shift my focus, for the first time in my long life, solely upon myself. The  roots of my consciousness are there waiting and they eagerly meet me in this realignment of my essence.

One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Bill Little, often compared this phase of life to that of a butterfly, who up until this momentous phase, thought she was a caterpillar! And like the caterpillar I will go inward, into a cocoon of self knowledge and love, so that I may fly like a butterfly.

Happiness Challenge-Cherry Picked

The 7-Day Happiness Challenge was profound. Writing about gratitude every morning for seven days increased my awareness of the negative chatter in my head and enabled me to more easily shift to positive thinking. It was a challenging week personally and professionally and yet this simple tool acted has a rudder while I navigated difficult waters. Because of this daily practice, I am a different person. Stronger,  wiser and oh yes, humbler.

Here is  a cherry picked version of my Happiness Journal.

I am grateful for:

My mom’s advice. “Eat healthy food, think happy thoughts and exercise regularly.” My sweet daughter Mira, who is full of ideas. For all the young people in my life who expand my percFullSizeRender (1)eptions and show me the future. 

For the abundant Huckleberries this fall. My home, my sweet home on top of a hill overlooking a blue bay where sometimes I see whales swimming. The Monterey Pines. Those gnarled, beautiful trees that give me so much joy when I walk in the woods.

The blueberries in my cereal. You dear reader, I am so thankful for your presence. The incredible joy of moving my body to music, my dad with his guitar and sweet voice and my mother’s dance.

I am thankful for this practice and how it is changing me. It teaches me to see the sacred in all life’s experiences and that love is not found in achievements but in celebrating others.

For this day and for every breath I take, I am grateful. It’s a great day to be alive!!

Namaste

 

4-Step Morning Ritual

1. Begin the day with gratitude.

Turning over in my bed I watch the light of the sunrise fill my room with golden light and murmur my thanks for this new day, a thank you for my healthy body and my comfy bed. I rise in the still, semi-dark, a hushed time before most people stir and a time that feels sacred.

meditating2.Meditate.

I spread my prayer rug, light a candle and sit. I watch, a curious spectator, observing patterns of thought and following my breath. I begin a micro motion at the base of the spine. By focusing on the micro circular motion that moves up and down the spine, I can sit for extended time without pain.  I have learned there is no such thing as a static body but instead there is a beautiful array of micro motion that gives us the grace of a dancer even in a sitting meditation.  And so I sit, free of pain and without judgment.  I do not cast my thoughts away as pesky mosquitoes but rather view them as parent might observe a rambunctious toddler. I am finally at peace with my imperfections.

  1. Spinal warm up.

From sitting meditation I begin my kundilini spinal warm up starting with a mantra; Ong, Namo, Guru Dev, Namo, which means, I bow to the divine creator within. My breath is focused and my eyes are closed. Age is measured by the flexibility of the spine and so I begin with a spinal flex at the base of the spine. Holding the ankles I inhale and flex the spine forward, on the exhale I flex the spine backwards. The exercises move upward to the crown chakra utilizing the breath and full spinal movement to allow the “kundilini” energy to flow easily. It also has the added  benefit of curing me of all back pain. 

  1. Connection.

After the kundilini exercises I sit an additional five minutes in meditation and enjoy the fireworks! Pulsating vibrations and visions of electrical interconnectivity can often be felt and seen after this practice and upon opening my eyes I feel the possibilities of the day are limitlessness.

Namaste

Gourmet Backpacking in Big Sur

big sur coast
Looking South from Big Sur

We just got back from a gourmet backpacking trip in the Big Sur Wilderness  which was, in my expert opinion, the perfect spa vacation. It is low stress, great exercise and the solitude of the trail offers many opportunities for reflection. Why gourmet? You are rewarded for your exertion with two hot springs, delicious food, restorative yoga, 5-star views and excellent company!

The Pine Ridge Trail begins at the Big Sur Station just past the popular River Inn on Highway One. The destination is Tassajara, a Buddhist monastery deep in the Ventana Wilderness which offers lodging and sulphur hot springs. I recommend planning on taking four days, for although only 23 miles, the trail travels from river valleys to mountain peaks three times and can be very challenging depending on the weather and the conditions. Neck high brush and extreme temperatures are not uncommon on the eastern half the mountains. Also, it is nice to  relax in the afternoons and enjoy Sykes Hot Springs on the Big Sur River or have time to recover at Pine Ridge from what we laughingly call Agony Trail.

Tubs at Sykes Hot Springs

 

On day three we get up at  dawn in order to beat the heat as we climb a steep rocky faced path to Pine Ridge. Done in the early morning it is an easy three mile climb. If done in the afternoon, the brush, combined with the sun reflecting off the shale, can be agonizing. Hence the name, Agony Trail. This is when you begin to regret the extra granola you packed. Minimal is best when hiking this kind of terrain.

Wild flowers along the trail.
Wild flowers along the trail.
Pine Valley Overlook

There are rewards for at the end of this challenging hike however. The views and the wild flowers are spectacular from Pine Ridge and you can see vistas all the way to the Monterey. There is also a beautiful spring that comes right out of the mountain and is the sweetest water I have ever tasted. Restorative yoga, coffee and sweets are traditionally on the afternoon agenda.

Cave hands
Ancient Esalen Indian pictograhs

The next day is the trek to Pine Valley. An easy four miles that drops you into a low hanging valley covered in a field of lupine and poppies. Oak, Lucia Pines and Sugar Pines dominate the landscape and the sandstone cliffs harbor Indian caves where one can find mortars and ancient pictographs left by the Esalen indians.

The last day is a five mile run in order to make Tassajara by lunch. By day four a fresh salad and steamy bread are strong motivations to hike out early. Church Creek trail offers beautiful vistas of sandstone rock formations but is often poorly marked and brushy. No obstacles are great enough to slow down the pace as we imagine showers, hot springs and fresh food.

Monk crossing bridge.
Monk crossing bridge.

When entering Tassajara there is always a hush that comes over me. The monastery has a sacred energy due to the monks strong meditation practice. The lack of electricity and the constant gurgle of the river immediately soothes one’s soul. In the Japanese tradition the baths separate the sexes which leads to complete ease and fun conversations. The steam room is a testimony to the Zen aesthetic which combines beauty and simplicity. Lined in colorful river stones with solid redwood benches and a small window looking towards the river. It is by far the nicest sauna I have ever frequented.

I wanted to share this trip not only because it was so much fun but to remind people that a “spa vacation” can be inexpensive and free of the hassles of traveling in airports. We live in such an amazing state and have wilderness within short distances. The hiking equipment is lighter weight these days and the hike not only feels good at the end of the day but affords you privacy, a continual change of spectacular scenery and possible adventure!

 

Well Being & Health