29 March 2022 •Dr. White
Dr. Suzan White, DO
Written with Grandmother Mulara’s permission and blessing.
In 2015 I came across a wonderful book, “Traditional Healers of Central Australia: Ngangkari”, by the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council, which so riveted me I longed to learn more about the Ngangkari and traditional Aboriginal healing. A few years later, I had the good fortune to be connected with an Aboriginal Elder and Ngangkari healer, Grandmother Mulara, who allowed me to join her teaching circle where she shares oral wisdom passed down for generations. Grandmother Mulara gave me permission to share the following five simple and effective ideas from her teachings to help slow your roll when anxiety has got the best of you:
1. Hum as you go for a walk.
Ancient Aboriginal wisdom: calls upon people to “sing up” the land and by doing so, themselves. By connecting with the earth and humming its song through us we can learn to walk in synchronicity with the living planet that sustains us and ourselves.
According to Jan. 12, 2021, Mayo Clinic Connect publication by Michelle Graf-Radford, humming has the following benefits:
Reduced levels of stress
· Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
· Increased levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that promotes healing and widens blood vessels.
· Improved airflow between the sinuses and the nasal cavity and improvement of the health of your sinuses.
Humming is thought to be especially effective at calming the jitters since the vagus nerve, which is responsible for calming the nervous system, is connected to your vocal cords and the muscles at the back of your throat. Humming creates vibrations in these muscles which activate the long vagus nerve, the “rest and digest” component of the nervous system that puts the brakes on the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system-stress-fest.
2. Lie down outdoors on the ground.
Ancient Aboriginal wisdom says: Humanity must open its eyes and ears to hear the song of the earth. Feel the heartbeat of the earth and be in synchronicity with the vibrations. Let the earth sing to you. Remember how to ground.
Science says: The average American spends over 90 percent of their time indoors.
An immediate benefit to spending time outdoors is a scientifically proven good mood. A 2020 featured article, Nurtured by Nature, for the American Psychological Association by Kirsten Weir says, “Time in nature can improve our mental health and sharpen our cognition.” Time outdoors makes us happier. decreases anxiety, depression, and anger. The sense of connection to the outdoors is noted to confer benefit even when back inside. In addition to improvement in mood, the exposure to sun provides a form of vitamin D we need for our health. Be careful to take precautions in areas with ticks.
3. Sit by a fire.
Ancient Aboriginal wisdom says: Let the fire burn away your grief, your worries, and your anger. Let the flames symbolically burn away what no longer serves you. Allow the flames to help ignite your inner spirit as you are renewed.
Science says: A 2014 study by Christopher Lynn in Evolutionary Psychology, Hearth and Campfire Influences on Arterial Blood Pressure: Defraying the Costs of the Social Brain through Fireside Relaxation, noted a correlation between having attention drawn into flames while watching a fire and a reduction in anxiety. It was thought that the attention to the flames created a hypnotically relaxing experience that allowed study participants to let go of jumbled thoughts. This relaxation was also associated with a drop in blood pressure.
4. Bathe in saltwater.
Ancient Aboriginal wisdom says: Salt cleanses. It is easy to be affected by the negative emotions, actions, thoughts, or voices of those around us. It is important to allow the salt to absorb this negative energy. Allow the saltwater to draw away from that which does not serve you.
Science says: In a 2019 Healthline article written by Sara Lindberg and medically reviewed by Owen Kramer, MD., taking a sea salt bath not only helps you relax but it can also:
· ease achy muscles and joints
· stimulate circulation
· calm irritated skin
· Soaking in a sea salt bath before bed can also promote better sleep.
5. Look after yourself.
Ancient Aboriginal Wisdom says: it is so important to take care of your body, your mind, and your spirit. Many people have forgotten how to look after themselves, they are not eating right, they are not in the right balance with the land and they are neglecting the needs of their spirit. It is important to remember how to trust the divine spark of creation that is within, to remember the connection to all living things, and remember to trust ourselves.
Science says: The CDC cites U.S. obesity prevalence as over 40%, a major health issue related directly to behaviors that can be changed. In the October 2021 WebMD publication, How Spirituality Affects Mental Health, medically reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD, spirituality was found to correlate with the following benefits on mental health:
· You may feel a higher sense of purpose, peace, hope, and meaning.
· You may experience better confidence, self-esteem, and self-control.
· It can help you make sense of your experiences in life.
· When unwell, it can help you feel inner strength and result in faster recovery.
· Those in a spiritual community may have more support.
· You may work at better relationships with yourself and others.