The Earthbody Blog

A curated guide to holistic wellness

Welcome to my journal. Each week I share a story that turns my mind with the insights, goof-ups, and lessons I discovered in the exchange. I also believe that the good life takes practice. Here's where I'll share resources in meditation, self care, daily ritual, wholesome nutrition, and the best in body~mind wellness. Thanks for reading and welcome to the family.

Denmo Ibrahim, Founder & CEO Earthbody.

The Art of Breathing

breathing The human body can survive for weeks without food. We can last days without water. But when it comes to air – around 6 minutes. The breath is the very essence of life. With a full inhale, we flood oxygen into the lungs. Every cell in your body also inhales oxygen and exhales carbon dioxide. In Vedic tradition, air is closely linked to Prana – the life force that flows through all living creatures – plant and animal. So if you've been feeling claustrophobic, unsettled, or just not totally there, it may just be that you haven’t been breathing well. You could think of it as an art – to breathe well requires focus and effort. The result of practice with the breath creates more interior space and supports all over health. If you've been waiting, here's your invitation to discover the breath, also called pranayama. Prana, commonly translates as the upward moving currents within the body, is a subtle form of energy. Whether or not the energy body is something you feel you can access, the breath is right here, accessible to each one of us. Yes, we naturally inhale and exhale but breathing consciously helps us to visualize, localize, be thoughtful and practice. In this way, the lungs, intercostals, and diaphragm strengthen; sending rich life-giving oxygen from the follicles of the hair down to the very tips of the toes. Through focused regular practice of simple breath work, we can feel the positive effects it has on our nervous system. Now, let’s quickly touch on the nerves. This nervous system has two parts: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic is the fight or flight response that prepares the body for sudden stress by controlling physical things like our heart rate, the adrenals and our breathing. In general, when we inhale, we activate the sympathetic system, our action oriented, heating, male energy. The parasympathetic system does the opposite – it prepares the body for rest, When we exhale, the parasympathetic system kicks in, awakening our intuitive, cooling and female energy. Focused, mindful breathing brings the nervous system into balance. So when fear arrives, consciously shift the body into the parasympathetic system through the breath. This part of conscious living – total attention to the physicality of your body - can occur by simply deepening the breath, even inhales and exhales, filling the lungs fully, and emptying the lungs fully. The breath can be one of the most therapeutic ways to calm the body mind when we need TLC a.s.a.p. 

Here’s a cheat sheet for when to try the Art of Breathing in your life: The first moment you wake In the middle of an argument When you’re in transit (car, bus, walking) While your waiting in line The moment you remember that you forgot to breathe

Finding Grace: Making Friends with Gloom

unplugged Things change. It seems like just yesterday we were pulling out our flip-flops and heading to the park for sunshine and summer. As our corner of the earth moves itself towards chilly temperatures, darker days, and rainy nights, most of us are reluctant to follow along. It’s times like these, if we are not mindful, depression can rear its ugly head. While we enjoy commiserating over the office coffee pot about how gross the rain is, or how dark it is by the time we leave work, it’s important to observe how our attachment to these stories often only serves as fuel for our gloomy moods. Maybe last year was difficult. You struggled through a grey November, or you felt the weight of the holidays looming ahead. As autumn winds down, you find yourself bracing for it—pulling that hood over your head and just waiting for those feelings to return. Maybe you even tell your friends, “I always get so depressed this time of year.” How can we work with sadness or depression? Is there a way we can actually use these states to inspire wakefulness and joy? The first step to combating the winter blues is to change your perspective. Feeling down is, quite simply, a part of the life cycle. Like it or not, it is a necessary space for us, an opportunity to find our integrity and grace, in the midst of sadness. Rather than tensing up and bracing for the worst, can we be open and accepting of these feelings? Can we learn from this space? What if we were to just get quiet and tune in? While it may feel like a bit of communal complaining is justified after all, by participating in this cultural boo-hooing, we end up chaining ourselves to the past. Our fear of depression hooks us before the weather even sets in. We tell our story, become identified with it, and poof, sure as rain, come New Years, we are depressed. This year, instead of complaining about the weather, try making it an opportunity for grace and gratitude. When that knee jerk response kicks in, stop yourself and say, I am grateful for this moment; it gives me an opportunity to practice grace, even in the rain/snow/gloom. I allow the rain/snow/gloom to cleanse and transform me. I leave behind the old and dead, and embrace new life. After all, it’s easy to be grateful for the sun. The next step is to plan ahead. Here’s the trick. While we do not want to be a slave to last year’s woes, we also don’t want to blindly fumble our way into the dark of winter, forgetting that it’s powerful grip on us has proven debilitating. Essentially, we have to hope for the best, plan for the worst. Now is the time to make a game plan. Be proactive. What does your body feel when it’s depressed? Sluggish and heavy? Agitated and anxious? Do you sleep too much or not enough? What helps? Make a list of the things that help you get to the other side as quickly as possible. A favorite workout or pastime you never seem to find time for when the weather is peachy keen. Rituals of self-love: a nighttime bath, a monthly massage, a weekly home facial. Ask for advice from your body worker, therapist, or friends. Commit to doing at least 3 of these things consistently throughout the next few months. Maybe even schedule a weekend retreat or get away in the middle to help break up the time. Take every opportunity you can to plug into the sensations of the body. In rough times, the body can provide a plethora of vital information if you choose to pay attention. Take the stance of the observer and try sitting with your feelings, letting go of any narrative you’ve attached to them and just try to find steadiness and comfort on the edge of your sadness. By remembering that, this too, shall pass, you may be able to give yourself some distance and take the opportunity to learn, be mindful and informed about how your body-mind copes with the blues. While we work to become friends with depression, by understanding ourselves better, we draw a clear path through the darkness. The key is not to avoid and reject the path, but to find efficient methods to embrace it gracefully. When we find better ways to move through the dark times, we spend more time in that which serves us and less in that which doesn’t. And that itself, my friends, is a priceless gift.

Ritual to Alleviate Depression

flower ~you are not alone ~

1. Get up.

2. Get out.

Go for a brisk walk. Get your body moving. Depression loves to flourish in dark corners of the mind. If the body is moving, it’s harder for sadness to take hold. Move your body.

3. Wash up.

Wash your hair. Clip your nails. Scrub your body. Cleanse your face. Be vigorous.

4. Lighten up.

Essential oils have a reputation for enhancing prana, nourishing ojas, and brightening tejas. These oils can be used alone, in combination, in spot treatments or in aromatherapy massage. Bergamot has a strong reputation for its ability to gently uplift. Bergamot combines the ability to both relax the nerves and refresh the Spirit; it is suitable for many types of depressive states. Try incorporating a body oil with uplifting essentials oils like infuse, our organic herbal oil of amber and bergamot to enrich the skin and wake the nose. Neroli comforts the mind and heart and is best suited for nervous and emotional exhaustion. Neroli uplifts the Spirit, releases repressed emotions and unifies a fragmented psyche. Neroli is specifically indicated for individuals who, in order to escape from emotional pain and suffering, cut themselves off from their feelings and senses. Try our neroli water for facial pick me up on the go or just after your morning cleanse. When depression is of an overly aggressive nature, it often involves an imbalance of joy and love - the root emotions of the heart and mind. This kind of depression afflicts the heart and involves a loss of one’s natural sense of joy. There is often an accompanied lack of enthusiasm and interest as well as an inability to become inspired. Rose Absolute may have a profound effect on this state. Rose is thought the Queen of essential olls, heart opening and deeply aromatic. Incorporate our simple rose water throughout the day to open the heart. Geranium can be used for spiritual practice and meditation as she assists one in connecting to the intuition and message of the heart. Known for its support in releasing negative and dis-harmonious memories, Geranium eases nervous tension and stress and is balancing to the emotions. An excellent oil for those whose lives are ‘lacking color’, Geranium is celebrated for its ability to lift worry and anxiety, clear stagnant energy bring motivation and strength to manifesting one’s vision. Try these powerful guides in oil for a self massage or a few drops in a warm bath or steaming bowl of water for a facial steam or deep inhalant – these oils can work wonders. You can also experience a trilogy of oils in our facial balm protect. With preciousness neroil, geranium, and rose in our facial balm protect to feed the skin and kindle the spirit day or night.

5. Brighten up.

Eat whole fruits. Cook leafy greens like kale and collards. Make your plate a work of art that is colorful, grains for a balanced diet. Wear bright colors.

6. Speak up.

Make a list of all the things you want to do, wish you could do, would rather be doing if money, time and external circumstances were of no concern. Keep each item to one sentence.

7. Step up.

Take your list and circle a single word. Go on, Select one word that jumps out.

8. Show up.

Can you make that single word happen today? Right now? For example, if I circled ‘write’, I could spend some time and write even if it’s not the novel I listed. If I circled ‘travel’, I could walk or drive somewhere I hadn’t planned, even if its not South Africa. If it was ‘money’ I could count, give, or draw images of money. The idea here is to engage parts of what you really want. Chipping away at your dreams could begin with taking in a single word. When you’re ready you’ll naturally take in the whole sentence. But today get lost in the word.

9. Shut up.

At the risk of sounding harsh, I would like to ask the part of you looping the negative tape of self-loathing, pity, and despair to kindly shut up. Enough is enough. You are a brilliant, highly creative individual who is stuck. It’s not personal. It’s physical.

10. Chin up.

Outlook takes practice. The first step in training is to hold the proper view. In Buddhism, we practice the Four Reminders to support right view. They are:

Precious Human Birth (i.e. you could have been a toilet seat. Be grateful for your life. Don’t waste it.)

Impermanence (Everything changes - the good, the bad, the best, the worst. This moment will change too.)

Truth of Karma (For every action there is a reaction. This is why it’s particularly important to fill your life with good deeds - It multiplies. Anything we have now is the result of the fruit of past actions.)

Inevitability of Suffering (When the Buddha awoke, he spoke about the three kinds of suffering: the suffering of pain, the suffering of change, and the suffering of suffering.)

Sit in a quiet space. Reflect on one reminder for a deeper understanding. This practice has proven to be extremely powerful for me. I hope these contemplations inspire you as well. If you'd like to share your story on ritual or the breath work, send us a note at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Take the Unplugged Challenge!

flower This month we invite you to a little challenge. Make a list of the ways you 'stay connected' and choose one thing to unplug from. Choose a time to commit to: 3 days, 7 days, 14 days, or 40 days. And then experience your life anew.

Make a list. Check it twice: List your bad habits. What part of your day do you wish you could change? Do you snooze for an hour before you get up? Are you addicted to Facebook? What ways do you diffuse your energy? Write it all down and own up.

(Here are some things to consider giving up: FOOD – caffeine, wheat, dairy, soy, refined sugars, processed foods ACTIVITIES— TV, smoking, drinking MENTAL STATES— complaining, aggression, not listening, not talking.)

Choose ONE thing on this list to give up. Choose one that will be a real challenge for you, or something you’ve been wanting to do for some time. Find a simple statement to remind you of your commitment, like “ Without wheat I am light and free” or “My need to check email (again) is really a need for space.”

Begin your challenge by writing a letter to yourself 3, 7, 14, or 40 days older and wiser. What do you hope to gain from this? How do you feel today? How do you hope to feel then? What are your obstacles and how will you move through them? Change, big or small, is tough— give yourself plenty of love.

As you move through your days, be aware of the pockets of time available to you now. Instead of surfing the net, tune in and listen to a 10 minute guided meditation. Use your evening tube time to go for a walk. The important thing is to have a plan when the urge hits so you can be ready to meet space with space.

When the going gets tough: pull out that letter. Intention is powerful. Know this.

How do you feel? What’s changed? It’s time to celebrate! Pat yourself on the back, do a victory dance, and keep up the good work. Go back to your list and pick a new habit! Success is empowering.

Now the reward! When you take the Earthbody Unplugged challenge, drop us an email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and tell us about your experience! Receive a free gift of nourish or purify facial mask travel size ($5) – for doing an amazing job!

UNPLUG: The Wisdom of Space

unplugged We’ve out done ourselves, you and me. We’ve stayed busy, engaged, and entertained. Everything seems to be peachy keen, until of course we experience a gap. What happens in those moments between this and that? When it gets quiet, when space arrives do we feel uncomfortable? Something must be wrong. Surely there's more than just this? It can’t be so simple. I should panic. Or shut down. I need to fill this emptiness asap. What is it about space that scares us?

In an effort to better understand this question, I made a list of ways I tend to fill up all that space:

• Eat when I’m not hungry
• Check email compulsively
• Surf the net aimlessly
• Rehash an old memory
• Sleep longer than needed
• Shop

Over the years, I’ve become better at noticing when I’m distracting myself from myself, but I still do it. It’s a natural part of human nature; that drive for ‘more’ has facilitated our evolution as a species, but sometimes, especially in this techno-saturated culture, we really need to clear a space for ourselves and unplug.

When we bravely claim those quiet moments in our life, we allow for perspective and reflection. If I’m always so involved in creating my life, how can I then see what life is creating? When I create a space to de-compress – a week retreat, a weekend in the woods, an hour of body time, a 10-minute meditation – whatever it is, I can return to life with more focus and a deeper sense of clarity. It’s okay to unplug. In fact, I’d say it’s vital for a balanced life. Carving out time to unplug makes the world a better place. We become grounded, more in tune. We have more energy, more patience, and more love.

So, the next time you find yourself filling space with insignificant tasks –notice it. Ask yourself, “Is this serving my life?” When we become aware of these patterns, we are empowered to change in a total and complete way.