Nutrition and FOOD – the tenets of healthy nutrition part 1.

Food – for some of us our diet is our religion – we can be passionate missionaries for our way of eating. A tangle of unconscious and conscious factors determine our relationship to food. discovering and establishing a approach to food that is right for us can be daunting in the face of ever-changing information but don’t despair! A few simple tenets can guide you towards a healthy and happy relationship with food.

Food! For some of us food is our religion – we can be passionate missionaries for our way of eating. Food plays a complex, four-quadrant role in our life – our personal emotional and sensory relationship to food, the nutritional factors involved in our health or disease, the complex web of economic and environmental factors surrounding food and what it takes to get a meal onto our table, and the rich tapestry of culture which interlaces community and family, spiritual and ritual with our cuisine. Our relationship with food is conditioned by a complex tangle of unconscious factors. This relationship can be healthy or unhealthy, inspired or insipid, vitalizing or demoralizing. For some food is simply fuel, for others it is creative expression and celebration – our relationship with food can be characterized by repugnance, disinterest, passion and even something resembling addiction – or, even more frequently a complex recipe of emotions, opinions, and habits.

Don’t despair, there are a number of important principles,  guides to follow to creating a personalized approach to food. One that is nutritious, practical, and suits your own particular tastes and health requirements while being founded upon the most up-to-date understanding of diet and nutrition for the prevention of disease (blood-sugar issues and diabetes, inflammation,  cardiovascular issues, cognitive decline, cancer and so on). In the following section we’ll explore some of the basic tenets of healthy nutrition/diet and guidelines for developing a positive relationship towards food.

This is part one of a series exploring the “Tenets of Health Nutrition.”

The Tenets of Healthy Nutrition


There is no one size fits all perfect diet.

In light of the diversity of human culture and genetics, the adaptation of the various branches of humanity to our worlds many geographical regions and climates, the individual differences in lifestyle, activity, work, constitution, age and gender,    and the impact of all of this in upon our metabolism and physiology it ought to be of little surprise that there is no perfect diet for everyone. There is a plethora of dietary fads out “on the market,” each of them trying to convince you that this is “the one” for you! Don’t buy it, when it comes to health and nutrition, guidelines are more effective than rigid rules, and finding what works for you requires openness, experimentation and perseverance, and (unfortunately) changes over-time. Yes, I’m still working on it, and have yet to find my “perfect diet.” This requires, as do many other lifestyle changes, unfailing adherence to the principle of joyful experimentation and curiosity. Be playful in your culinary explorations and keep it fun. Even the highly customized diets, such as Ayurvedic or blood-testing, if interpreted to strictly (religiously), will tend to fall into a number of shortcomings when applied to any given individual.

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Summer falling, Autumn rising

Hello Friends,

The summer has passed too fast! We are now gorging on this years profusion of black berries and I’m planning on harvesting and exploring the culinary uses of nettle seeds for the first time. Though the roots and leaves of nettles are frequently used in herbal medicine (and the leaves are one of the most delicious of wild foods) usage of the seeds is far less common. Nettle seeds function as an adaptogen, promoting overall health and supporting resilience in the face of stress, and also very specifically protect and restore the kidneys when their function is compromised due to disease or certain types of chemotherapy. I’ve been reviewing the experiences of other herbalists on the subject including some case studies with lab data on kidney function (Glomerular Filtration Rates) actually improving and mystifying the doctors. Very promising for integrative approaches to kidney disease.

We’re putting a final call out for our “Flourish – integral health and wellness retreat” from October 5th-7th. Bring whatever mental or physical health goals you have and leave with some personalised strategies for attaining them along with renewed motivation and vitality. We’ll be teaching and practicing a variety of approaches to reduce stress, build resilience and new ways to address the challenges in your life.

If you are interested please make your booking by September 20th. You can stay in the cottage (there are only 4 places) or the bothy or campsite.

In Chinese Medicine Autumn is the phase of the year where we let go of that which we no longer need. This is exemplified by a tree shedding its leaves. We are not letting go of our essential, deep self, but some of the no longer helpful (often problematic) leaves and branches which adorn us: for example old habits we’ve used since childhood to get our needs met or to keep us safe which are often no longer appropriate or attitudes and behaviors that no longer serve us.  We thereby enter into winter replete with the stored energy from harvesting the abundance of summer yet somehow lighter, clearer, freer from our old patterns and ready to enter into the next phase of the year — the opportunity for  deep introspection and metamorphosis while cocooned in hibernation during winter. Essentially Autumn supports us in letting go of that which holds us back and prepares us for the transformative potential of Winter. Our workshop is perfectly poised to catalyse this process.

For more information go to the EarthMind facebook page or send me an email.

yours truly


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The Explorer’s Kit – what resources do you need to explore the wilderness of the psyche?

Interested in embarking on a journey into your own interior wilderness? Curious or apprehensive? During Chaos to Quest, our wilderness adventure in Scotland this Septmber we will be spending part of our time exploring the region by foot and canoe, sometimes while incorporating some of the practices you will be learning. At other times you will be engaging in various nature-based practices on your own, or as a group. In the weeks that follow I shall elaborate upon some of what you will be learning and practicing during our six days together.

The Explorer’s Kit

Every explorer needs a kit. The kit is comprised of the gear necessary for survival in the natural environment. It consists of warm and weather-proof clothing, tents, good shoes and socks, hiking sticks, food, first aid kit, survival skills and knowledge, compass and maps. For those who wish to explore, or to guide others, in the wilderness certain essential skills and physical tools are required. A similar kit is just as vital when venturing into the realms of our inner-nature. Below we will present the primary elements of EarthMind Fellowship’s kit for exploring our inner and outer nature. As guides we wish to create a container for a safe, if not always comfortable, adventure into the wild. Our kit is comprised of many tools for guiding individuals in the wild and ultimately for teaching them how to explore safely on their own. Our kit is composed of our survival skills, outdoor experience, psychotherapeutic training, self-awarness skills, HeartMath and other essential gear we’ve gained in our own journeys. Most essential to a fruitful quest in the wilderness are maps. Just as a physical map can reveal many aspects of a landscape (topographical, political, economic, ecological) at many levels of detail (from a neighborhood to a solar system) we use many maps to explore the inner world. These maps help guide us through different aspects and different scales of the human experience. They range from the exquisitely detailed, small-scale, maps of buddhist psychotherapy, to the mid-scale maps of HeartMath, to the larger scale maps of WildMind and Integral Theory which helps us place the individual within the context of a human lifetime and even into an evolutionary and ecological perspective. Though part of exploration entails bush-whacking and occasionally getting disoriented these maps ensure that this experience is temporary, and that we shall eventually re- emerge into new territory bearing the discoveries and gifts of our journey.

We shall be delving into maps and kit in more depth in future posts. In the meantime…happy trails to you…

For more information about our workshops and retreats go to:

Basic Schedule for our September Adventure

Day 1: Arrival, intro to EMF, wild mind, heartmath.

Day 2-5: The Journey.

Day 6: Concluding day, integration exercise, closing ceremony.



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From Chaos to Quest – An Adventure in Nature

From Chaos to Quest – An Adventure in Nature

Explore nature, both inner and outer, during a 6-day adventure by canoe and foot in the Northwest Highlands.

Uncover the deeper narrative of your life while exploring the magical wilds of the North-Western Highlands.

Join experienced mountaineering guide Tim Hamlet and wilderness therapist Owen Okie for a journey of healing and inspiration. During this hiking and canoeing adventure you will reflect on your life’s journey, discover your deep purpose, and learn important skills that will help you to live a more authentic and meaningful life. After this deeply transformative experience you will return home more resilient and better equipped to handle the stresses and challenges of daily life.

Each day we will spend approximately 5 hours canoeing and hiking through the stunning landscape of Assynt, which will leave plenty of time for a range of wilderness therapy activities and self exploration. The trip is suitable for everyone with a moderate level of fitness. No previous experience of hiking, canoeing or camping is necessary.

If you have any further questions or would like to book a place please send us a message or get in touch via: 01854613240 or check out our EarthMind Facebook page:

For more information about Tim check out:

and Owen:

Facilitated by:  Owen Okie, M.Sc. Herbal Medicine, MCPP, HeartMath Provider.

Mountain Guide: Tim Hamlet, MIA.

chaos to quest flyer finished png

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On Suffering and the Kaleidoscope of Love | The Heart of The Healer

This blog, written by my dear friend Rebecca, is a testimony to the grace and courage with which she and her husband Jason, have taken head on one of life’s greatest challenges; cancer.  They have been a great inspiration to me from day one of this now 7 year journey.

With love,





Source: On Suffering and the Kaleidoscope of Love | The Heart of The Healer

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Allostasis – an integral model for health and disease and its intersections with Chinese Medicine and Karma.

Jay Schulkin’s book, Rethinking Homeostasis: allostatic regulation in physiology and pathophysiology, is s a thorough discussion of the concept of allostasis. The concept of allostasis as described by Schulkin is a useful model that integrates often disparate scientific realms from the biochemical, the genetic, the molecular, the organismal, the psychological level, and places them in a social, environmental and evolutionary perspective.  Schulkin’s book is extensively well researched, with a bibliography spanning over 100 pages. Schulkin suggests the following definitions:

Allostasis; ” The process by which and organism achieves internal viability through bodily change of state. Allostasis comprises both behavioral and physiological processes that maintain internal parameters within the limits essential for life.”

Allostatic state: ” Chronic over-activation of regulatory systems and the alterations of body set points.”

Allostatic overload: ” The expression of pathophysiology by the chronic over activation of regulating systems.”

Allostasis provides a vital new model for approaching health because it integrates different fields and levels of understanding into a coherent picture and provides a whole person (from his genetics to his environment) understanding of an individual that is completely absent from our current medical model. In essence the concept of allostasis provides the beginnings of a western scientific model comparable to the Chinese or Ayurvedic “energetic” models that integrates the artificially sundered concepts of body, mind and soul. It does so by showing how behavior, emotions, social status, life events, etc., can effect physiology and neural patterns and potentially lead to pathology at the clinical level. This is the place where the Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine believe illness begins; the “energetic” and “emotional” level. Chinese doctors traditionally looked not just at the individual but their place (whether harmonious or disharmonious) in their family and community. Schulkin addresses the importance of social setting and human communications and physical contact in health, as well as stressful or traumatic live events  (allostatic state and overload) and discusses their physiological effects, and the circle of how the physiological then effects the emotional and behavioral level and ripples outwards to the social setting and environment. The physiological and behavioral patterns discussed by Schulkin regarding states of chronic fear or angst, anxiety, depression,  the effects of allostatic overload in pregnancy and on the fetus, and in drug addiction are strongly reminiscent of the symptom patterns described in Chinese medicine where pathology at the gross, organ level (western pathological diagnosis) is less informative than the actual emotional and physical symptom pattern displayed by the individual which is the apparent information that provides the practitioner with the data needed to find the root imbalance. In Chinese medicine this is described using energetic terms. In Schulkin the imbalances are either deficient or excess secretions of hormones, neurotransmitters or neuropeptides which effect metabolism and cause a complex pattern of changes visible at the metabolic, physical and emotional and behavioral level, or, the creation of states of hyper or under reactivity(such as increased number of CRH receptors-could this correlate to ideas of so-called false-excess or apparent deficiency in TCM?). These patterns (physiological, emotional and behavioral) are self-reinforcing-the more they’re used the stronger they get. Even more interestingly they can be propagated through the generations; patterns of anxiety can be passed on by the mother to their offspring, and even at the social levels we can see different cultures contributing to such patterns by their moors, rules, behavioral issues, dietary habits and they’re methods of interacting with “strange” behaviors (psycho-active drugs both prescribed and self-administered, etc). This summons to mind the concept of Karma, sometimes described in Buddhism as the net sum of an individuals thought, words, and actions, and the use of meditation and “right thought, right speech and right action” to erase old patterns (“bad karma”) and create new patterns of good behavior and calmness and clarity, as well as Karma as inherited karma and family or cultural karma. Interestingly, Schulkin brings up that researchers on allostasis have suggested that people should do activities that promote calmness such as transcendental meditation and that physiological states of chronic anxiety or hypersensitivity (so prevalent in our current culture) can be corrected. He also states that “consistent and reliable positive human touch and contact can mediate long-term effects of trauma and perhaps influence pathways related to CRH activity.” Which is proof enough that we need more hugs and less drugs in our modern health care system. Hopefully one day the medical system of the USA will catch up with the concepts of traditional knowledge and the scientific knowledge that so beautifully explains it in the language of western science.

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From Chaos to Quest – An Adventure in Nature


From Chaos to Quest – An Adventure in Nature is a “wilderness therapy” adventure facilitated by Owen Okie, wilderness guide to our inner nature, and mountain guide Tim Hamlet.



Why from Chaos to Quest?

From Chaos to Quest is a response to the current state of the world, the possibility for something creative and new to emerge from stormy waters, and how your day to day action, when aligned with your core values, can benefit yourself and the world around you.

Deep beneath the turbulence of our times there move hidden currents of meaning. These mythological, archetypal and universal strands interwoven into a complex tapestry of life, evolving, both individually and collectively. How do the individual strands of meaning and purpose in your life interweave into a cohesive and unique vision that integrates into the broader tapestry of life? Without meaning we are lost, adrift in the chaos of our times, the violence, the numbness, the heart-rending rat-race pace of modern life. In nature our physical, emotional, and mental rhythms slow into a greater coherence within ourselves, between us and other, and us and nature. In this state of coherence creativity can emerge from chaos, clarity from muddle, inspiration from lethargy,  and vision and purpose from meaninglessness.

Has time spent outdoors supported you through difficult times? How have you benefited from the healing and transformative support of nature? What if you could learn to access this support as needed to uplift you and find clarity in troubled times or when in search of wisdom and inspiration? Let me know how nature has supported you.

Testimonial from a previous EarthMind workshop:

“I’d not done an exercise like this before and so had no expectations. It turned out to be a very profound experience that blew me away. Accessing Nature’s voice lead me far into the forest and further still into the heart of me. It helped me to debunk many recent fears by illustrating very strongly my life’s journey and my actions needed for resolution. I came away feeling like I’d had given my soul a spa treatment!”






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