Category Archives: meditation


mindfulness, the word of the year

The Word Of The Year – Mindfulness

Over the years I’ve developed a habit of choosing a word to serve as my intention for the year.  This year the word is mindfulness.  As I go through each year I reflect frequently on my word and see if I am meeting my reasons for having chosen it.  

Choosing a word

In past years it has sometimes been a struggle to come up with a word.  There are so many to choose from! And finding just the right one that resonates is not as easy as you might think.  Usually I wind up taking the time from Christmas until somewhere after the New Year to identify a word.

This year, as I worked on my new book on meditation I kept coming back to the word and it really resonated with me. Each time I thought about it, wrote about it, saw it on my desk or my computer it caught my attention and made me stop for a moment. 

I realized that it flows well from my previous word of Focus.

The dictionary defines mindfulness as

noun
1. the state or quality of being mindful or aware of something.

2. Psychology.

  1. a technique in which one focuses one’s full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them:
    The practice of mindfulness can reduce stress and physical pain.
  2. the mental state maintained by the use of this technique

 

Benefits of mindfulness

One of the things that appeals to me about choosing this word is how much it resonates with our need for self care.  When I work with clients I encourage them to be more mindful about their eating which, of course, has an impact on health. I encourage some sort of self care practice, breathing, meditation, yoga, all of which require a degree of mindfulness.

Moving forward into the new year there will be more of that.  Both for them and for me.  While I am a holistic health practitioner and I support others to achieve their wellness goals, I know I benefit from these practices as well.

The truth is that mindfulness is a very supportive piece of our overall health and wellness.  Studies have shown that it can help lower stress and reduce blood pressure. This, in turn, is good for heart health. [1]  Mindfulness can also help with nutrition, satiety, and even weight loss.  There are a number of studies about this and even a book on the subject

Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the year ahead I’m looking forward to deepening my own sense of mindfulness.   And I’m excited to share with others, supporting them to develop their own mindfulness practices as part of their wellness plan.

Words from past years

If you’re interested these are the words that I’ve chosen in the past.  I find it fascinating to look back at previous years, at the reasons I chose certain words and reflecting on the growth that brought to my life.

I’d like to encourage you to pick a word of your own. It’s an interesting exercise and can have some amazing results. If you want to take it one step further you can even go to OneWord365 and put it out there into the universe.

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Resources

[1] Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction for prehypertension 

 

On My Mind Monday 09.10.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition and holistic living.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

Meditation in the corporate world – According to this article more major corporations are recognizing the value of having employees take a break — to meditate.  Meditation is known to have a variety of health benefits including lowering blood pressure as well as allowing the mind to refocus.   While we don’t teach meditation techniques (and there are many) in the US, it may be something that becomes more and more common in response to this sort of corporate acceptance.

A new twist on urban gardening – in Chicago city lots are not just being used for urban farming.  Some are being converted to orchards where heirloom varieties will be grown.  The time investment to plant, nurture, and eventually harvest an orchard is significant.  The hope is that residents and even restaurants will be able to use and eat these heirloom fruits.  This will be an interesting project to watch, it could be a novel way for other cities to make use of public spaces.

Corn syrup in what? – This very cheap sugar finds it’s way into an amazing array of foods, even those that would not necessarily be thought of as sweet (such as pizza).  The only way to avoid it in your food is to read the label.  Another important thought to remember, corn is one of the most highly genetically modified crops in the US.  So any products with corn in them (unless marked organic or non-gmo) are quite possibly genetically modified.

National Yoga Month – is September.  And there are lot of different kinds to choose from.  Yoga is a great form of exercise for people who cannot do impact exercises all the way up to those looking for a vigorous workout.  It also offers a wide range of health benefits.

Calorie restriction may not extend life – starving mouse studies seemed to indicate that mice fed 30% less than “normal” lived as much as 40% longer.  There are a number of people who follow calorie restriction in the hopes that the results will be the same for people.  Recent studies appear to indicate that it doesn’t work for Rhesus monkeys.  However the monkeys did have a better quality of life with lower rates of diabetes and cancer.  I wonder what would happen if results were examined again to look at the quality of the food that the monkeys ate.

It’s back to school time.  Unfortunately for a lot of teens and older kids that may mean a temptation to reach for energy drinks to try to stay on top of their hectic schedules.  Unfortunately this is not a good choice.  Here’s a video from my friend Karen that talks about energy drinks and their effect on the adrenal glands.

photo:  mconnors

On My Mind Monday 4.30.12

news | photo: mconnors

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in health, nutrition, and holistic living.  Read what’s on my mind.

Beef Cattle Become Behemoths – Antibiotics are not the only dangerous thing being fed to our livestock (dangerous because the overuse has negative physical effects for us such as helping to breed disease resistant bacteria).  Many conventional farms also feed animals hormones and other drugs to make them grow faster, grow fatter, and push their development all in the name of profit.  Many countries around the world, such as those in the European Union, do not allow this because of concerns about it’s effect on the people that eat the meat from treated animals.  When that animal is slaughtered all the hormones and drugs do not go away, they stay in the meat and the fat.  If you eat it you then are consuming those products as well.  Building ” bovine Schwartzeneggers” is not in the best interest of anyone other than the company that sells these drugs.  Now it looks like in addition to co-opting medical schools with research dollars and propaganda, pharmaceutical companies are, and have been, doing the same with agricultural schools.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many good pharmaceutical formulations and they can have great benefit.  I just don’t believe that this type of drug oversale is an appropriate usage, nor do I believe it is healthy for the animal or for those that consume it.

Watermelon’s Wild Cousins – A watermelon that grows in the desert?  And provides reasonable nutrition?  Who knew such a thing existed.  This article highlights the Tsamma melon which grows, amazingly enough, in the Kalahari in South Africa.  The description of use and nutrition in this family of melons highlights why we need agricultural diversity and not genetically modified commercially motivated mono-cropping.  This idea is further highlighted by a recent article I spotted about Vietnamese farmers changing melon crops due to drought conditions.  My take from reading the article is that they were choosing a different type of melon rather than a GMO melon; an agriculturally and environmentally positive choice.

Calm.com – A wonderful guided meditation site with fabulous audio/video presentations.  Two minutes that can lower your blood pressure, re-center you, and help you to feel better.

Feeding a city is something that we don’t often think about. But as we move to cities our diet changes, demand for meat and dairy goes up. And there’s food waste and food imbalance (larger and larger number of starving people as well as those that are overfed). This video highlights how food moves into a city and looks at ways to help solve some of the problems that cities face when it comes to their food.

Four Foods You Probably Waste – I bring this topic up a lot.  Food is more than just access to good, clean, nourishing products.  It’s also about proper utilization of what we have.  That means not wasting it.  Even though rotting food can be thrown into a compost heap to be turned into beneficial compost, isn’t it best to eat it?  After all, you paid for it.  Here’s a few simple and delicious looking recipes to help you avoid throwing out some of the most commonly wasted foods.

What I’m Reading

Make The Bread, Buy The Butter – I picked up the copy at my local library.  By the top of the second page I was hooked.  I like her writing style, we think the same way, and I have already bookmarked several recipes to try.  I was most impressed with her bread which uses 3 1/2 cups of whey.  That’s awesome.  I have lots of whey hanging around from straining yogurt; although I use it, I confess sometimes it gets fed to the dogs because I have too much.  I am occasionally tempted to make ricotta cheese from leftover whey.  The trick is you need 16 quarts of the stuff and if I tried to squeeze 16 quarts into my side-by-side refrigerator I’m pretty sure my family would be upset due to the lack of space for food.  And that 16 quarts of whey?  It yields less than 2 cups of ricotta.  I haven’t gotten to that part of the book but I’m guessing she recommends buying it.  This bread however looks to be a great use for leftover whey.  And I’m planning a tea party just so I can make my own clotted cream.  I’m also looking forward to reading the rest of the book which is definitely on my “to buy” list.

disclaimer – cmp.ly/5

Aromatherapy Field Trip

Steve and I recently took a trip into Houston.  We were headed for the Museum of Natural Science but would up making a little detour before visiting the museum.  Across the street from the Museum, located at One Hermann Street, is a garden that is open to the public.  One part of the garden is an Aromatic Garden.  Filled with raised beds of mints, culinary herbs, rosemary and other aromatics it is truly a delight for the senses.


We wandered through the beds delighting in the plantings and stroking the different plants to release their scents, admiring how many different kinds of mints and basils and thymes, and more there are.  The smell, the texture, the setting all combined to make a very relaxing and delightful stroll.  I confess that my hands smelled quite delicious by the time we were done.


Next door to the Aromatic Garden is the Rose Garden.  Abounding with blooms of all sizes and colors we wandered from bed to bed exclaiming over the different colors and scents.  Some of the showiest roses had no scent at all while some were so overpoweringly perfume-y that one small sniff was more than enough.  


I could feel my blood pressure dropping and a sense of calm envelop me as we enjoyed both of these gardens.  It was a moment of mindful meditation.  Even now, thinking about them as I write I find a peaceful feeling rising forth.  Such is the power of scent and beauty that it can help us to slow down and enjoy the moment.  Not for nothing do we have the phrase “take time to smell the roses.”


While I have aromatic herbs in my garden I’m now considering adding some roses to I can recreate a small dose of the experience we had this morning for those days when I can’t get all the way into the city.  If you have a small corner of your garden available you might want to consider doing the same.


photo courtesy of Stan Shebs | Wikimedia Commons

Guided Meditation

It is important for us to take time out of our hectic, frequently over-scheduled lives to decompress.  For many people that takes the form of yoga, journaling, or a spiritual or meditative practice.  I often have people tell me that they don’t know how to get started or they can’t focus enough to take those few beneficial moments to re-center themselves.  Guided meditations can be a good way to get started if you are out of practice or just beginning a centering practice of your own.

I’ve come across this guided meditation at My Own Healing Power and it’s free.  Take a few moments to do something positive for yourself and check it out.

Fifteen Minutes

As a Nutrition Educator with a holistic focus to my practice I believe it is important to do more than just pay attention to the food we eat.  We need to nourish our whole being; that includes our brains, our emotions, and our spirits.


I recently learned about Spring Forest Qigong’s gift to all of us.  In the hurry and flurry of post-holiday time, as we settle back into our normal routines and recover from any holiday-induced stress, we need to remember to take some time for ourselves.

Master Chunyi Lin has created a free fifteen minute guided meditation that is wonderful.  You deserve to take fifteen quiet minutes for yourself to listen to this amazing gift.

Unexpectedly Serene

My aunt was here visiting us, and we loved having her here.  She used to live in the Houston area 35 years ago, so one day we wandered down to Houston to visit a couple of places.  On the itinerary was The Rothko Chapel.  The chapel was built as an interfaith chapel, and Mark Rothko was commissioned to create the artworks. 


My first response when we entered the chapel was “huh?”  Fourteen enormous canvases of black or purple which appear to be solid.  Very strange.   But when you take the time to sit and contemplate them, shadings of light and dark appear.  The whole experience is very spiritual.
  
We all need to take the time to find serenity and calmness within ourselves and in those quiet moments of our life that present themselves.  Part of living a healthy life is taking that time for meditation.  It is serendipitous to find a space that so fully imbued with the energies that lead to that sort of contemplation.

I fully intend to go back and encourage you, if you are ever in the Houston area, to visit the chapel.

Be well.