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September 29, 2021 3 min read

By Galen Stoffers

Kava is a drink made from a plant grown in the Pacific Islands. Its roots are ground and dried into a powder for export. Pacific Islanders have used it for
ceremonial purposes. The drink has a calming effect on those who consume it. Today many drink it for is beneficial psychological effects.

In medical research, kava is known as an anxiolytic meaning that is works
to reduce anxiety. Kava brings more calm and relaxation to those who use it properly.  It eases tension on the mind without impairment unlike drugs or alcohol. Kava is not habit forming and works well to supplement a healthy lifestyle.

My job in healthcare is stressful and taxing. After work I sometimes feel
mentally burnt out leaving the idea of good sleep as an impossible dream. For years I have struggled with this problem. I often finish my shifts late at night carrying this stress home with me. After I am ready for bed, I hit the pillow with a heavy head unable to fall asleep or stay asleep. The next day, I feel drained and frustrated. Physical exercise helps me handle the stress in a healthy way, but sometimes at night I need a little more help to sleep well.

Around nine years ago friends of mine introduced me to kava. It has helped
me relax after a hard night at work without the impairment that accompanies other alternatives such as alcohol. Kava is gentle and soothing. It doesn’t hit hard. I prepare it in the traditional form of a tea. Like meditation I stop what I am doing to focus on the moment. During this time I drink the kava and listen to calming music. At first the effects are almost unnoticeable. After a few cups of the tea I feel the tension on my mind ease. Its calming effects slowly wash over my stressed out mind. My perspective shifts from the past to a calm present. I am able to hear the sound of my breath again. My mind willingly slides into a restful mode. Sleep comes much more easily with kava.

The first thing a new kava drinker will notice is the bitter taste. Kava is natural and unprocessed thus leaving the flavor unaltered. Traditionally prepared kava should have a strong earthy flavor. I have found that using a sweet chaser after each cup is the best way to balance the flavor. Some people like fruit or juices as chasers.

Proper kava use, like yoga, requires some practice. My Polynesian friends
introduced me to the kava root years ago. My first experience was unremarkable. I drank it but felt very little in the way of relaxation. I decided to give it another shot and to do it right.

The second time I sat down with my friends and devoted the moment to
relaxation. We played reggae in the background and turned off the television. Kava works by reverse tolerance. The more you use it the more sensitive you become to its effects. That night after taking my second cup I felt the soothing sensation from the kava. Each cup after that intensified the feeling of peace.

I learned that using kava is more than just drinking it. I practice yoga regularly. My first yoga class was not life changing but consistent, good practice of yoga is life changing. Kava, like yoga, requires good practice.

Good music, good friends, focusing on the moment, and no distractions made
for a relaxing experience.


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