The negative nellies of the social media world seemed pretty quick to bid 2012 a hasty goodbye this year. If you’re like me, and you noticed a barrage of “good riddance” messages to the passing year in your Facebook news feed, you may have asked yourself why. (Unless, of course, you too were thrilled to kiss this year farewell.) Read
The lessons learned since then have been extraordinary. A strange thing happens when you are forced to deal with trauma. The mind and body almost seem to slow down to process stimuli minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day until you get through it. It is completely living in the present. As my husband said, it’s “from frightening to enlightening.” Life and death become clearer than ever and everything is shown in their true nature.
Superstorm Sandy taught me some important points:
1) Nothing can take away your knowledge, your experiences and your peace of mind.
2) Anything that can be replaced is not worth much.
3) Be flexible, embrace change. Humans are highly adaptable.
4) Receive with honor and pay forward kindness and generosity.
5) Learn from children, who are by nature pure and brave.
6) Never sacrifice the present for the future.
7) Simply saying “I am sorry” is a generous gift.
8) There is always opportunity wrapped within a challenge.
9) Possibilities are endless. Never feel locked down to reality. You can always change.
There was a lot of magic in the days and weeks after Superstorm Sandy. Strangers and neighbors embraced like family and the feeling of “we are all in this together” permeated the city. Everyone humbly expressed their gratitude that it could have been much worse.
Since Sandy, my family has relocated to a very old-school Italian neighborhood and we have all found solace in the local coffee shop. It is a place where men sit huddled in small groups drinking espresso and discussing world events. It took me a full week to pay for my own cappuccino. In the words of Pauly, a local patron, “if you can talk about it then you got no problems.” Pauly had a point. “Fuggheddabout it.”
Many years ago, when my daughter Emma was small, we kept a gratitude journal, the two of us, for a whole year. Every night we’d each write down something we were grateful for. I’d like to pretend this was my idea, but it wasn’t. Emma, who was six at the time, was inspired by something she saw on the Oprah show and suggested it. At her insistence, I bought a large book to record our thoughts. When we began I had no way of knowing how much we would both grow that year. Emma learned to find something to say thank you for, even on tough days, and I developed a whole new appreciation for the art of appreciation. In fact, I think gratitude is one of the most powerful forces there is, because, as Christian Northrup points out in the above quote, the act of being grateful opens you up to attract more of the very thing you’re grateful for. Read
If you have tuned into Bravo recently, chances are you have caught a glimpse of the YinOva Center. Not only have our acupuncturists been treating the reality TV stars of Bravo, but it seems that television in general just loves acupuncture. The YinOva community, both patients and staff, are happy to spread the word about the benefits of Chinese medicine and we’ve enjoyed being part of several shows.
We were thrilled to see Real Housewives of New York’s LuAnn de Lesseps, who visited clinic director Jill Blakeway’s treatment room in her quest to conceive. Earlier this year, the stresses of selling real estate in Manhattan met with the wisdom of Chinese medicine when clinic director Noah Rubinstein treated Ryan Serhant of Million Dollar Listing New York on camera.
Noah’s appearance on Bravo wasn’t his first shot at the silver screen, either. In a well-known Sex And The City episode, Charlotte gets acupuncture treatments to better her chances of getting pregnant. An actor played the acupuncturist, but it was Noah who administered the needles; his hands were filmed doing the actual needling of actress Kristin Davis.Though acupuncture is long known to have benefits for those looking to relieve stress, quell pain or other ailments, and for those trying to conceive, each television appearance opens up a new audience to the world of Chinese medicine, and we at the YinOva Center are honored to be on Hollywood’s speed dial to treat the stars!
In this series, Michele interviews YinOva friends and wellness advocates.
The YinOva Center is thrilled to be the newest and only New York pick-up spot for Body & Eden‘s line of Tonics and Elixirs. Their nourishing tonics combine organic whole fruits and veggies and high-nutrient green superfoods, and their supportive elixirs, drawn from ancient folk wisdom, are based upon herbal healing formulas. Michele was lucky enough to sit down with a most enchanting, Aubrey Levitt, one of Body & Eden’s co-founders.
ML: How did Body & Eden hatch?
AL: In some ways I could say it started when I was thirteen years old and my mother had me in the kitchen making her “green drinks” as part of her alternative cancer treatment. Or even earlier when she turned our suburban lawn into an organic garden, complete with compost pile. Herbs, alternative medicine, whole foods, and ancient remedies were an active part of my upbringing. However, over time I started to disconnect from myself and my roots. Living in New York and working in marketing, my stress levels increased and I began to develop some health problems. An interest in health foods was no longer enough. I went on a full blown quest, trying every diet or cleanse I could get my hands on, talking to and receiving treatment from several different types of health care practitioners, and reading up on the latest health trends. Over time I learned what worked for me and what didn’t; how to listen to my body and trust myself.Body & Eden started out as a nutritional consulting venture. Friends started coming to me for nutritional support. At first I was hesitant to offer advice, thinking that we all find our own way. I then realized how grateful I was for the support I had received and it became clear that I had to offer my experience the same way others had generously offered theirs to me. I wanted to do this in a way that empowered the other person to feel what worked for them. Later I referred back to this for the philosophy and drink names of our company. As far as the tonics, Hillary, my business partner and best friend of twelve years, had always shared similar health concerns and we often shared notes on healing methods and remedies. We spent many nights discussing what we could and couldn’t find in the health market. I had been making several green tonics for myself and friends in Los Angeles. Hillary, working in the high demand publishing world in New York wanted a way to be able to get some healthy nutritional support that would help her manage her hectic lifestyle. That led us to bring our healthy tonics to New York.
ML: Why was New York a better fit for Body & Eden?
AL: In New York people don’t have as much time and/or space to be visiting the farmers markets, blending veggies, or infusing teas. They have a lot to get done and due to the proximity of people, the city really can function like a community. And, in a community its inefficient if everyone is a basket weaver.
ML: You recently moved from California to New York, are the stereotypes true?
AL: Completely, I really think of LA as the Yin and New York as the Yang. A little of both is great!
ML: How are you different than other juice places out there?
AL: We do not juice any of our ingredients. We combine herbal tea infusions, whole fruits and vegetables with super foods like chlorella and spirulina. Our aim was to create nutrient dense, blood sugar stabilizing formulas.
AL: We define a tonic as a balancing drink that helps promote health, including fruits, vegetables, and / or super foods. Our elixirs are more transparent and magical. They are drawn from ancient remedies and not necessarily food based.
ML: We love so many of your tonics & elixirs, how do you come up with your recipes?
AL: Many of our recipes were derived from custom tonics created with specific needs in mind. We took these recipes and tried to make them more universal. Our first goal was to create balanced formulas, highlighting certain functions. We worked with an herbalist to create herbal infusions that would support each recipe and intention. As far as the names, we approached our recipes from the back door, meaning we didn’t look at what would give you Energy. Our bodies already know how to create energy. So the drink, I HAVE ENERGY, was created to support the systems in our bodies that generate energy, hopefully helping us to access our abundant internal resources.
ML: Well that all sounds perfect, but come clean – ever have a concoction go horribly wrong?
AL: Completely! Not only have I made some ridiculous combinations, but if I have noticed that my mood and mindset can play a huge role in the outcome.
ML: Hmmm…not sure I’d want to be a guinea pig, do you have taste testers?
AL: Yes, everyone we know who has ever tried them is a taste tester! And a perk of the job; we all taste a lot of tonics!
ML: Not a bad perk, they have such nutrient-rich ingredients! Where do they come from?
AL: We are constantly looking for new sources. We work with farmers and vendors we know and trust. Our herbs come from Mountain Rose Herbs or Avena Botanicals in Maine. A lot of our super foods come from Essential Living Foods or HealthForce Nutritionals. We get our dates and almonds from a trusted farm outside of LA. We try and grab the bulk of our produce from the farmers markets and when they don’t have what we need we work withs small markets like LifeThyme in New York. Ideally we cant wait until we have our own farm.
ML: Eating from your own farm sounds divine. Speaking of eating, is your diet as pristine as the tonics?
AL: There have been times in my life that I have eaten cleaner than others. But when I look at my life as a whole, my mentality and my intention keeps getting healthier.
ML: What’s your favorite indulgence (food-wise)?
AL: When I am in LA irish moss pudding (it is amazing!), and New york cornbread from Angelica’s Kitchen. ML: Where will you be in five years?
AL: Body & Eden will have local kitchens in three or more cities. We will have extended our line to include other products (which we are already working on:) We will be sourcing many of our herbs and some produce from our own garden or farm. And, we will have created a family of employees and a name consumers trust.
ML: Those are pretty lofty goals! How do you find balance in your life?
AL: I have to remember that the time I take off is just as important as the time I am working. My friends, my father, and my business partner all help remind me of this. Also, yoga, swimming, acting, singing, and dancing. The more physical I am the more I can feel my body and the more I know what is needed for balance.
ML: How did you come up with the name Body & Eden?
AL: It happened organically. I wanted to express my desire to connect our bodies back with their true nature.
ML: Where do you see the greatest need for your products?
ML: Wow. That would be amazing! On the subject of medicine, what sort of role, if any, does Chinese medicine play in your life?
AL: I am an avid fan of Chinese medicine. I believe understanding the relationships between the elements and the internal and external balance between yin and yang helps to define and create the foundation for everything we do. We can learn everything from nature; Chinese medicine is based on this depth of knowledge.
ML: Of all the superfoods out there, what do you wish people knew more about?
AL: ALGAE. It is an amazing thing; the oldest and most adaptable organism out there.
ML: Juicing or blending?
AL: Both are great, but serve different functions. For me blending is nourishing. Juicing gives your digestion a complete break. However, if you are providing your body with the right nutrients it should have no problem detoxing and cleansing on a daily basis. We were looking for a sustainable way to transform energy, and that starts with our bodies breakdown and assimilation of the food we eat.
ML: What’s the single best thing you do for your health?
AL: Meditation. For me that encompasses more than sitting. At any point swimming, dancing, acting, painting can all be a meditation for me. Whatever gets me out of my head and into my body. And when I am in that space all the wisdom and knowledge is there.
ML: Any beauty tips?
AL: Breathe. Salt water baths. Infrared saunas! Body scrubs! Whatever keeps things flowing internally and externally.
ML: Can kids drink your tonics and elixirs?
AL: Always check with your health care provider. There are certain things like honey, which should not be given to children of a certain age.
ML: Aubrey this has been great! We are looking forward to working with you!
At the YinOva Center we’d like to support you to have a mellow Monday.
For a limited time* all new patient appointments on a Monday will be discounted by 25% and there will be a further discount of 10% for all Monday follow-up appointments.Jon Welch, talks about how he made his own Mondays more mellow with the help of our acupuncture team. Does your voice ever screech in reaction to the blaring alarm piercing the safe cocoon of your blanket? You hardly wake up when the bright beam of light peeking through the curtain attempts to blind you. It seems like you just went to sleep a few minutes ago, and to add insult to injury, you are five whole days away from being able to sleep past the alarm. That’s right. It’s Monday again, and things are already not going as hoped. Let’s face it: Mondays have a stigma. And not that stigmas are ever a good thing, but as far as stigmas go, Mondays have it bad. A British study conducted last year found that on average, people don’t even crack their first smile (depending on how one defines a smile) until 11:16 AM every Monday. I know a thing or two about this, because I have been there. In my life prior to moving to New York and working at the YinOva Center, I was a bank manager by day and actor by night. I remember feeling an imaginary cloud come over me every Sunday evening. The knot would develop somewhere in my lower intestine as I ran through the list of everything waiting for me in my office come Monday morning. The fact that I spent a Sunday with my friends, being outside, relaxing, or working on something creative meant little to nothing, because come Monday I would have a full week of office life from 8-5, heading straight to rehearsals/shows/auditions, and fitting in appointments for my car, teeth or body in between. Somewhere in the mix, I had to make sure I didn’t run out of underwear, dragged my way through the kitchen to cook lunch and dinner, and tried my hardest to breathe every once in a while. And for me, it all started on Monday. I’m not the only one who can’t trust that day judging by the songs, the lines in movies and on television, and all the cultural and miscellaneous references putting the idea in our heads that Mondays have a cruel and unusual way of hurting us. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Without becoming the one in the office to greet Monday morning with a song, smile, pep rally or activity that will bring the ire of your co-workers, there are many things that you can do for yourself to reclaim the traditional start of the week and turn it around. Mondays are manic, but by treating the day as a launching board into a great week ahead, we hold the power to make the first day in the week far less mundane. At the YinOva Center, our patients tell us they avoid scheduling their acupuncture treatments on Mondays because it’s the traditional start of the week, filled with uncertainty and an anticipated pile of to-dos we expect to be buried beneath. However every Monday, two of our finest practitioners, Laura and Dara, hear the stresses of our Monday patients and give them the care they need to start the week productively and with physical and mental clarity. Many months have passed since I last cried, screamed, or enacted violence against my Monday morning alarm. I now often get acupuncture on Mondays to bring the weekend to a close and get a relaxing leap on the days ahead. There is no more whimpering before I leave the door, and I crack my first smile of the day well before 11:16 AM. If you are anything like me, and want to try a new approach to starting your week off on a healthy foot, then give a Monday tune-up with your acupuncturist a try. Your alarm clock, battered and resented for far too long, will probably thank you.
Wishing you a healthy and prosperous Year of the DragonJanuary 23rd marks the start of the Chinese New Year. It is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. In China, it is known as the “Spring Festival” and it marks the end of the Winter season. Since the Chinese follow a Lunisolar calendar, the festival begins on the first day of the first Chinese lunar month. A long holiday, spanning 15 days, the celebration ends on the 15th day with the Lantern Festival.
While traditions may vary by culture, typically households will thoroughly clean their homes to sweep away negative qi in hopes of making way for good incoming luck. They gather together and celebrate the onset of the New Year with an elaborate feast. Traditional food will include such items as whole fish, pigs, ducks, chicken, dumplings and sweet delicacies. At the end of the night, the family will assemble to light firecrackers and many parents gift their children with money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone. Homes and businesses are decorated with red paper cut-outs using popular themes of “good fortune,” “happiness,” “wealth,” and “longevity.”
The Year of the DragonOften the symbol of Emperors, Dragons are the most noble and desirable sign in the Chinese Zodiac. They stand for power, strength, and good luck. Those born under the influence of Dragon are considered luckiest of all. Examples of some famous Dragons include: John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Al Pacino, Marlene Dietrich, Isabella Rossellini, Sandra Bullock and Matt Dillon.
Do you know if you’re a Dragon? You are if you were born after the lunar new year in 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000 or 2012. The Year of good fortune, the Dragon year is believed to be good for business and finances. And since it’s known to leave wealth & prosperity in its way, the Dragon always leads street processions during Chinese New Year. Furthermore, under the influence of the Dragon it is considered a Yang, as opposed to a Yin, year. This is also a water year in the 5 element system and Yang Water is like a flowing river rather than a stagnant lake. Things will move, ideas will flow, economies will boom (let’s hope so!), and love will blossom. It’s likely to be an exciting year indeed!
So, as they say in Cantonese: