I have to confess that as the holiday season approaches every year, I feel dread. Of course, I do really look forward to celebrating and sharing time with family and friends. Nevertheless, the reality is, holidays are a lot of work on top of the work we already have on our plates every day. If your plate is like mine, it’s already overloaded so holidays can tip us into a state of over-the-top STRESS.
This year, my plate included moving my 91 year old mother from Connecticut where she’s lived since 1958 to Santa Barbara to be near me. So instead of shopping for presents or getting the house ready for my annual Christmas party on the 23rd, I’ve been handling the movers and keeping her from stressing out as much as possible. In the process, I’ve been looking at how I handle stress and what I can do to reduce it.

My conclusion? It all starts in the brain with our thoughts. Yes, we can reduce caffeine, yes we can exercise, yes we can avoid sugar and junk foods, and yes we can try to get more sleep. All those things help, but if you don’t control your stress-provoking thoughts, you’ll lose the stress battle.

Relaxing The Brain

Our brains need to relax. Not just when we sleep or when we go on vacation, watch TV, play computer games etc. They need to relax in a way that shifts our attention from an objective, narrow focus to a diffused, immersed state of being.

We spend the majority of our time focused on whatever task is in front of us or whatever screen we’re gazing at. In the background, we run a continual stream of thoughts like never ending chatter. We keep our brains in a state of high attention just like a high fire alert, always anticipating what’s next or fearing something that could possibly occur even though it hasn’t yet.

Watching my mother during this move was great reflection for watching myself. A lot of time spent worrying about anything one could possibly worry about but with little useful result. In the meantime, the brain is telling our body to pump out stress hormones and keep the muscles tense in case of emergency.

After awhile, we start to break down. Physical symptoms appear. Moods get irritable or worse, hysterical. We get forgetful. Our brains feel foggy. It is clearly time to stop, but how to do so when there is still so much to do?

Open Your Brains’ Focus

Last March, I posted a blog about going back to sleep by using a new technique called Open Focus Attention Training that has been pioneered by Dr. Les Fehmi. Now I find that using it during the day, helps me relax my brain and recover from stressing about my stress!
It really isn’t hard and it only takes a few minutes away from whatever you’re doing. You can do it with your eyes open or closed.

Open eyes:
If you need your eyes open, start to notice the periphery of your vision. Instead of focusing on something right in front of you, notice the whole scene your eyes can see, especially what is at the furthest edges of your vision.

Then feel your body, relaxing tension where you perceive you’re holding it like in the shoulders and hands, solar plexus or buttocks. Do a quick body scan and take some deep breaths while you continue to take in the whole vision of what your gaze encompasses. Think of a cat or dog and imitate the soft focus that they have when they’re lying down just relaxing. Do it now while you’re reading this!

Closed eyes:
If you want to close your eyes, start to feel the space between your eyes. Then notice the space between your ears, between your lips and your nose, between your thumb and first finger. Keep focusing on space while you move your attention around your body and breathe deeply, relaxing your body’s tension wherever you notice it.

Note To Self

Do this more often! Today I’m going to set a series of reminders in my phone to open my focus every hour and give my brain a relaxation break. Do it with me! It’s all about finding a moment. We don’t have to meditate for hours though that would be nice. We don’t have to go on vacation, though we might wish we could. Let’s just create more relaxations moments throughout our day and keep our brains and thus our bodies, mind and spirit, nourished and refreshed by frequent baths of open focused attention!

I highly recommend Les Fehmi’s book, The Open Focus Brain, and the CD in the back will guide you through some great attention training exercises so you can experience what it feels like to relax the brain into a diffused, immersed focus.

One More Delicious Way to Relax Your Focus

If you’re sipping a cup of Teeccino, relax your focus by taking in the aroma of the brew as it wafts under your nose. Feel the warmth as it slides down your throat, and taste the sweet notes of Teeccino on the tip of your tongue and the bitter flavors around the edges of your tongue. Take in all the sensory information you can in a moment. This too will open your focus by having all your senses come alive to experience the joys of life!

Happy Holidays!

Taylor became a Teeccino Ambassador just a couple months ago and it’s been a whirlwind tour (literally!) ever since. Taylor discovered Teeccino while working at Bhakti Fest the last few years – and inquired this fall about our Ambassador program. Shortly after she applied to share samples at her first event – her graduation from massage school! – Taylor agreed to […]

Stan became a Teeccino Ambassador in April of 2015 and recently made his first request for Teeccino samples to share at his local Veg Society’s Thanksgiving dinner! Stan sent us such fantastic photos of the event and told us about the evening in his event report: “Thank you very much for the timely delivery of the Teeccino samples. It […]

Kay is a very active Ambassador for Teeccino. A certified health coach, educator and promoter, she did two events this past weekend! The first was in Clifton, NJ at School #16. Kay told us in her report –  “Dana M did a terrific job as the outgoing PTA President getting people to come out to celebrate the season […]

Jamila became a Teeccino Ambassador in September of this year and did her first event right away! She sent us a wonderful report about the  community event for about 75 attendees in the city of Oakland. Jamila told us:  “The recent event was held at the 81st Ave Library in Oakland…..9/26. Theme: Invisibility: Honoring Our Memorials…for […]

  Stephanie always amazes us with her unique and well-planned Ambassador events. An Ambassador since January of 2015, she started out with a fantastic Valentine’s themed event that we featured on our blog. This September, Stephanie shared Teeccino at yet another unique opportunity in her community – ‘Teen Maze’. She told us in her event report […]

Holly, a Teeccino Ambassador since March of last year, recently sent in a new event request for Teeccino samples for her church’s conference event. She told us her group would be “providing breakfast, lunch and snacks to attendees for a conference and we have many healthy eaters in the group. So we want to offer Teeccino either […]

Whether you’re steeping a Teeccino Tee-bag or brewing up a pot of your favorite flavor, you’re making a profound difference in someone’s life in a country you may never have visited. It always makes me marvel when I contemplate the interconnection we have with so many people in far off places through a simple cup of Teeccino!
70% of all agricultural products are still grown by small scale farmers around the world. By offering them the opportunity to devote their land to organic agriculture we improve their health and the health of their soil and thus our planet. By contracting for ingredients that provide better income than subsistence crops, we improve their family’s educational opportunities, medical care and nutrition.

If you’ve read the back of a Teeccino bag or the inner flap of a Tee-bag box, you’ll know that creating new trade has improved the lives of people in Central America and India through two of our ingredients: chicory and ramón seeds. Want to know more about how this happens?

The Quest for Organic Chicory
Here’s a sad but true statement about agriculture in America today: US farmers can’t grow organic chicory because they are now so reliant on Monsanto’s Round Up to kill their weeds that they no longer have cultivators to remove weeds mechanically. Have you heard that glyphosate, the ingredient in Round Up, is now being classified as a suspected carcinogen? Not only are crops being liberally sprayed with this chemical, but seeds are also being soaked in it before planting!

Here’s an important fact to consider: Americans consume 5% of our food as certified organic and our demand for organically grown food is growing 14% a year. However, we have less than 1% of our farmland devoted to organic agriculture!

With our commitment to providing the healthiest cup of Teeccino we possibly can, I went to India in 2006 to find small scale farmers who could weed fields by hand and thus grow organic chicory. Sometimes “buying local” just doesn’t work, but when it doesn’t, we have the opportunity to improve the lives of others even if they’re on the other side of the globe.
Our first crop ten years ago was a tiny 2.5 tons. This year, hundreds of small scale farmers in India are collectively growing 200 tons. We’re lucky to work in partnership with Organic India, a company that has a great team of agronomists in India who work with thousands of small scale farmers to grow both Tulsi tea and chicory root. My partnership with Organic India was founded on mutual cooperation that continues to this day. I designed their Tulsi teas and they committed to organizing the planting of organic chicory. It was a partnership made in heaven!

Creating new trade in India means farmers have the opportunity to grow a new crop that offers sustainable income to provide food for their families, medical care, and education for their children. I’ve heard farmers tell stories about how much healthier their families are due to eliminating toxic agricultural chemicals by switching to organic methods. They receive help from Organic India to improve their soil and thus the yield of their crops. It is a win-win for everyone from the soil in India to the cup of Teeccino in America.

Stalking the Wild Ramón Seed
If you’ve followed my stories on Teeccino’s website or in this blog, you’ll know that I’ve traveled the world since the early 1970’s in search of herbs that taste delicious and bring their healthful properties to a cup of tea. I’ve very proud to have discovered some amazing tasting herbs and foremost among them is the wild ramón seed from the Maya civilization.
My passion is preserving forests. They’re the lungs of our planet and one of the most important defenses we have against climate change. So when I found a 130ft tall, upper canopy tree growing in Central American rainforests that the Maya called the “corn tree”, I knew this was an ingredient I wanted to develop.

The seed of this tree’s fruit tastes like a potato when it is dried raw, but when you roast it, an amazing transformation takes place. Roasted ramón seeds taste like coffee and chocolate combined! The Maya ground the dried seed and mixed it with their corn to create a more nutritious food. Way before the Spaniards brought coffee to these shores, the Maya were drinking roasted ramón seed brewed into a beverage that they believed was so nutritious, it was given to pregnant women too.

Of course, I’m always on the look-out for anything that has a coffee-like flavor so I was really excited to taste ramón seeds. They allowed me to create a dark roasted flavor of Teeccino with deeper coffee notes than had ever been possible before!
It took many years to develop an annual collection of a wild harvested seed that only grows in remote forests and it continues to be a challenge every season. Yet I am devoted to this crop because I know the difference it has made in the lives of so many living in these remote forest villages where income opportunities are scarce. Of course, I’m also devoted to our Teeccino Maya flavors that depend on this seed’s roasted coffee-like flavor too!

In fact, by creating new trade and giving economic value to the ramón seed, we’ve stimulated the local food industry to bake with ramón seed. Now the Guatemalan government is providing ramón seed baked goods to school lunch programs. Teachers say the kids have less absences as they’re healthier.

Women are now feeding their families this nutritious food that is free for the collecting but was going to waste on the forest floor. Ramón seeds are very hard as they don’t contain any fat, so people had forgotten how to eat them. Teeccino has supported workshops to teach women how to make nutritious meals for their families using ramón seeds.

Studies have shown that not only are ramón seeds very nutritious, but they also contain active, water-soluble antioxidants comparable to walnuts, which have the highest antioxidant content among tree nuts. Ramón seeds though don’t contain any of the allergens found in tree nuts so Teeccino’s Maya flavors can be enjoyed by people with nut allergies.

The story of how we developed this harvest is too long for this blog post, but I promise to tell it another time. What I hope you take away from this post, is how connected you are to people around the world by the foods and beverages you eat. Buy local whenever you can. Buy organic as much as you can. Make choices that support creating new trade for unique ingredients and fair trade for commodities like sugar and coffee. Then sit back and sip your cup of Teeccino knowing you’re making a difference to your health and you’re improving the life of someone else!

Amanda, a Teeccino Ambassador since the start of our program in 2012, has recently launched a successful essential oil jewelry line – LowCountry Eclectic on Etsy, and via her own website. As a longtime fan of our herbal coffee, Amanda is now sharing Teeccino samples via her online store. For the past few months, Amanda has been […]

Dani-elle is a Teeccino Ambassador and a singer-songwriter playing Nashville and beyond. Due to the success of her single “Bye, Bye, Bye” Dani-elle and her band have played at CMA Fest and large venues. In fact, as of today Dani-elle is a semifinalist (#26) out of 7,900 musical acts entered in the NashNext country superstar contest! We featured Dani-elle last month on […]