Living Well Blog: Saratoga's Holistic Health Forum

December 2008 Archives

As we set the clocks back to reality, and delve into another season of cold and darkness, our energies draw further inward. Inward like the sap of a tree, like the critters that let go into their annual hibernation. However, while the bears are being and the bees are catching zzz's, we're hanging up lights by the billions and dusting off our full spectrum lamps. Unfortunately for us, we haven't the luxury of a few months of deep slumber. We therefore seek out our own coping mechanisms. No doubt, we've created little worlds dependant upon our busy-ness. We get by on as little sleep as possible rushing here and there, scraping the ice from the windshields of our fast machines all for the sake of the maintenance of our lifestyles, and for our dreams of inner peace and creature comfort. Even though some of us can't hibernate our winters away, or even sleep in on occasion, we can still find ways to help us draw inward to more closely match the energies that are so perfectly reflected in all the rest of nature during the wintertime.

Nature is at a point of absolute energetic decline during the cold months. It's in the quiet, deep and still part of its annual cycle. When we practice being still, even if for a few moments here and there, then like nature we are deepening our reserves and empowering our potential. The effect of this is what earned "Siesta" such high regard in so many cultures on the planet. As busy as our lives can be at times, it's not always possible to take a short nap in the afternoon. However, even closing our eyes and becoming aware of the breath for a minute or two at least once a day will rejuvenate and promote a renewed sense of clarity - like a little springtime. Every little bit helps. Many folks who rediscover rest find that they become far more productive in the rest their lives. When we become accustomed to the idea of conscious down-time, we might just feel more at home, and more comfortable in our skins when the scary dark winters come about. When we practice going deep by resting, our reservoirs fill up and we experience more energy, more potential, and more of the courage it takes to make it through.

Acupuncture treatment can make a huge difference in the quality, quantity and propriety of our experience of energy. When we're tired, it's not that we have "no energy", which is often the complaint. It might be that the energy we have is not being made available to us, or that we're in deficit and our body has thrown the tired switch in order to help us understand that we need to slow down, rest and renew. Acupuncture is effective in dealing with these kinds of issues, especially if supported by regular sleep and some conscious down time at various points during the rest of the week. Another benefit of acupuncture is that it actually helps bolster our capacity for down time. We become more settled, more still, more potent, and more able to spring into action when the time is right.

Happy Holidays, Dave

Want to know more about Acupuncture, Tui Na, and Oriental Philosophy? Visit "Informational Articles by Dave" at the "Traditional Acupuncture and Oriental Bodywork" section of the Living Well website. Scroll down and click on the link.

On Loss

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When I was 11, my father passed away.

This event forever changed my life. Everything that I had come to know in those 11 eleven years, passed away with him. Even the mother that I had known was gone -- changed by a circumstance that was completely out of our control.

For many years, I dealt with this loss by holding onto what was tangible and by not allowing myself to become too attached. I respected and studied paths that practiced this non attachment. I married a man who I was not completely connected to, somehow trying to ensure that if I lost him, I wouldn't lose everything.

I stayed passionate about my music, and it has followed me and led me - weaving a course of light throughout both the easy and the difficult. I had children early on and found that I couldn't limit my attachment to them, couldn't protect myself from hurt or loss and realized that when you love dearly, you don't care that you can't protect yourself.

As time went on, I began to learn a very valuable lesson: In order to "have" that which is most dear to us, we must be passionate about it. And, if we are passionate about something or someone, then we are connected and attached and we cannot shield ourselves from the possibility of loss. It's a paradox of life: great love is great risk. You cannot give all and hold back at the same time. If you're going to skate, you have to let go of the wall. If you're going to fly, you have to let go of the perch. If you're going to love, you have to let go of the fear.

Many people think about having a facial, or arrive at the center to have a facial, uncertain of the importance of this service - aside from its seemingly pampering nature. Truly, though, a facial is not a luxury, its benefits are far reaching. In order to understand why a facial is important, let's take a look at its components.

The basic parts of a facial are as follows:


  • Determining Your Skin Type: It's important for you and your aesthetician to understand your skin type. By knowing this, products and techniques used can be specifically customized to meet your needs.

  • Deep Cleansing: With the correct product, a gentle, but deep cleaning is obtained and, depending upon skin type, the correct pressure and movements can be employed to stimulate or calm. Steam and/or hot towels are often used to soften and expand the pores.

  • Proper Exfoliation: I say "proper" because you can over-exfoliate. Skin must be manipulated with awareness so as to not cause unwanted reactions. This exfoliation may be done manually or chemically with the use of an electric brush, scrub, enzyme or acid.

  • Taking Away: After cleansing and exfoliation, the skin is prepared for extraction - or cleansing of the pores.

  • Giving Back: Now the skin is ready to receive vitamins, hydration and minerals in the form of serums, lotions, creams and masques applied with manual techniques or massage appropriate for your particular skin type.

  • Additional Pleasures: During this process, you will often receive a hand and arm massage, a facial massage and a neck and shoulder massage.


Here's how I like to explain a facial: What is the one part of the body that is exposed most often? Your face.

The surface of our skin is dotted with tiny pockets called pores. These pores allow for the transfer of materials like sweat and oxygen into and out of the body. Oil glands, located within the pores, secrete sebum. Dust, pollution, free radicals, wind and sun are a constant source of irritants and debris that can stick to the oil or sebum on our skin. Since our skin grows from the inside to the outside, dead cells, though they act as protection from the sun, come to rest upon the surface too.

I like to compare the surface of our face to your stovetop. When you cook with oil and it spatters onto your stovetop, the surface becomes sticky and other matter - like dust - will cling to it. It works the same way with your face. Matter, including dirt, dust and dead skin cells, stick to your sebum, blocking the exit of your pore. The result is dull skin, or eventually a blackhead or pimple (pustule).

However, when you have a professional facial - that is, one performed by a licensed aesthetician - the dead skin cells, dirt, and debris may be removed. What's left is cleaner, shinier, healthier, newer skin that is able to breathe and do what skin is meant to do. The added bonus is a tremendous sense of well being and relaxation.

How often should you have a facial? Generally, every 8 - 10 weeks; however, you can certainly have them closer together, especially when working on a particular concern like acne, aging or sun damage. At the very least, it's good to try and have a facial once per season.

In conclusion, the answer to "Why Do I Need A Facial" is that generally, we aren't able to cleanse and exfoliate our skin the way that a professional aesthetician can, and the benefits are both tangible and esoteric.

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Reisa Mehlman is a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, Certified Lash Extensionist, Reiki Practitioner and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center located at 18 Low Street in the quaint village of Ballston Spa, New York, just a stone's throw from Saratoga Springs.

Happy-er Holidays!

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Shopping for gifts, making plans, hosting dinners, attending parties, cooking, cleaning, and preparations of all sorts go hand in hand with the holiday season. As fun as it is, it can also be a stressful time as we try to juggle our regularly scheduled program with the added festivities.

Luckily, there are some things that you can do to minimize the stress:

Take advantage of down time. If you watch television in the evening, keep a pad handy to make notes during commercials. Staying organized helps fight stress.

Pare down. Sometimes we can learn to be a little less hard on ourselves and not overdo it. We can practice simplifying. For example, instead of buying several small gifts, we can buy one or two larger gifts. Gift certificates allow gift receivers to make decisions and can take some of the pressure off too.

Practice awareness. Take a few deep breaths before entering that parking lot or store. Remembering why we are doing what we are doing helps keep our spirits up. Don't sweat the little things like finding a parking space, or losing a parking space. It helps to maintain perspective. I tell myself this: there's no one still waiting for a space from last year -- so everyone must have made it!

Make time to take time. It doesn't help to wear yourself thin. Try to get enough rest, eat healthfully, and keep a sense of humor. Mind, body and spirit are one. So, if you feed yourself, you will be better equipped to deal with the inherently hectic nature of the season.

Extra time is a bonus of using the measures suggested above. You can take advantage of the extra space created to treat yourself to a stress-busting activity like having a facial or a massage. Afterwards, you will be calmer and better able to deal with last minute situations and all the running around that seems unavoidable this time of year. All in all, if we insert a few preventative measures, we can ease a little bit of the stress and smile a whole lot more. Happy-est of holidays to all!

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Reisa Mehlman

As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, Reisa combines her love of spa services and healing arts to achieve optimum skin and nail health, create greater overall wellness and bring forth our optimal, individual beauty.

"I believe that the day spa should be an instant getaway; a place that is quiet without being stuffy, relaxed, elegant and yet entirely comfy. You should feel warm and welcome, surrounded by people who care about you and what they are doing. This is the environment we strive to create at Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa. Here, you are never just the "next" number; we allow ample time for your services, offer a flexible schedule and can be reached after hours. After all, to me, spa craft is not really a business, it's a lifestyle." Read more...


Dr. Sarah Lobisco

Whether the goal is to lessen pain, find an alternative to pharmaceuticals, or improve your quality of life, Dr. LoBisco's Naturopathic Medicine lets you get the best of both worlds conventional medicine, combined with safe and proven complementary therapies.

Dr. Sarah LoBisco has been involved in wellness for over 8 years. Her experience includes mentoring with holistic practices throughout New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. Read more...