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    There are as many different types of freedom as there are ways to experience freedom. Many can relate to the feeling of freedom a day off work brings, or a long awaited vacation. Some may experience the financial freedom of making that last car or mortgage payment. Others may know the freedom of letting go of a habit, belief or relationship that no longer serves them.

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    How often do you find yourself caught up in “either/or” thinking? You might notice yourself thinking everything in life is either a success or failure, that your way of doing things is always the right way, or that there has to be a winner and a loser. This approach of seeing life as a play of opposites is termed dualistic thinking. When we look at life through a dualistic lens, we tend to miss a lot of goodness in between.

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    Truth be told, how often do you honestly respond to the question “How are you?” For many of us, the response “fine” or “good” might simply come out of habit, without much thought to how we are really feeling. Some may face the common struggle of verbalizing thoughts and feelings.

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    It is not uncommon to treat your friends and loved ones gentler than you treat yourself. In fact, research demonstrates 84% of people are kinder to their friends than they are to themselves. In the energetic body, the seat of love and compassion resides in the heart chakra, known as Anahata in Sanskrit.

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    As we experience warmer temperatures, the sounds of birds singing, and the first spring blooms, we may also feel the desire for our own inner and/or outer transformation. Whether it is decluttering your home, engaging in a new self-care practice, starting a new hobby, or cultivating a new friendship, how do you spark the inner fire of “Yes I can.”

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    The oxford dictionary defines nourishment as “the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.” Have you given much thought as to what aids you to personally grow and be in good health? Truth be told, it is far too easy to live day to day on autopilot, without giving this question much thought.

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    When it comes to support, everyone experiences it in different ways. You may feel professionally supported by your supervisor or colleagues, personally cared for by loved ones, spiritually backed by your faith community. Energetically, we all contain a base of support via the root chakra, known as Muladhara in Sanskrit.

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    On a daily basis, you are probably pretty aware of your levels of energy. We often comment on having a lot of energy, or feeling like we could use more energy. That being said, how conscious are you of how you take care of your energetic body?

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    In our modern society, there is no shortage of routes to receive information. From cell phones to computers to smart watches, it is no wonder you might often feel like your senses are on overdrive.

    Sensory overload occurs when one or more of our five senses becomes overstimulated. For example, one’s sense of hearing may become overloaded when music is too loud or their vision may be impaired from overexposure to bright lights.

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    The topic of many conversations as of late is that of feeling fatigued. Defined by Oxford as “extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.” You might identify any number of current stressors contributing to this state. Whether your particular brand of fatigue is related to zoom, e-learning, social distancing, overwork or dealing with physical illness, the outcome is the same. Feeling chronically tired, hopeless, experiencing impaired decision-making, and aching muscles are just a few of the symptoms.

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    Take a moment to reflect upon your past week. Did you experience more doing, or being? For many, the answer is doing. We live in a fast paced, goal driven world, a society of doers.

    You might find yourself asking what it actually means to “be.” Being can be described as “resting in experience” as well as “fully present and aware of whatever is here, right now.” Being is a felt sense of an intimate experience with the present moment.

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    Here we are in the first full week of January and I have personally read the phrase “new year, new you” at least a dozen times. Whether you are a fan of making new year’s resolutions or not, I think many would agree, making personal change is no easy task.

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    While we may all celebrate different December holidays, what we share in 2020 is that this is the first time we will be celebrating during a pandemic. It is true that during any given year you probably have experienced joy as well as loss in some way or another. What is different this year is that as a society, we are experiencing loss on a grand scale.

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    We complete our journey of the koshas this week by exploring Anandamaya kosha, the bliss body. In Sanskrit, ananda means bliss. This is the most subtle of the layers.

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    The fourth of the five koshas is Vijnanamaya Kosha, the wisdom body. Vi means “inner” and jnana means “knowledge.” In Sanskrit, vijna means “to discern, to know rightly, to understand.”

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    This week we explore the third layer or sheath, the Manomaya Kosha. Mano means “mind.”  This kosha is the psycho-emotional body, which encompasses our thoughts and feelings. Many would agree that thoughts and feelings can often be challenging to deal with. As the pandemic rages on, national surveys find many people are faced with increased negative thoughts and feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression.

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    Today we turn our attention to Pranamaya kosha, the energy body. This is the second innermost layer, more subtle than the physical body. Prana is translated as “life force energy.” This energy sustains all of creation, and links the body and mind.

    In the human body, the breath is our source of prana. This kosha also governs the respiratory, circulatory, nervous, endocrine, excretory and reproductive systems. We receive prana by means of fresh air and water, natural foods, nature and sunlight.

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    This week, as we begin to explore the five koshas, we focus our attention on Annamaya kosha – the physical body. Anna means “food.” Each of the names of the koshas is followed by the word maya, which means, “consisting of.” As mentioned last week, the word kosha is translated as “sheath” or “layer.” Therefore, Annamaya kosha is the layer consisting of food.

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    One of the many things I enjoy about my work as a health educator is expanding knowledge about self-care. When teaching, I often joke that my students will get angry with me when they learn that I’m not just going to tell them to go to the spa. While many definitions exist, the self-care I advocate for takes a holistic approach, and often involves doing some of the “stickier” work of examining how aligned our daily actions and choices are with our goals, values and ideals.

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    This week we unearth the last of the niyamas, Ishvara Pranidhana, otherwise known as surrender. The practice of surrender reminds us to let go of what we can’t change, which in turn opens one up to greater possibility.