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Tag Archives: body mind spirit

Beyond the Plate: Mindful “Eating” of All We Consume

As we strive to balance our lives, so many of us have made significant adjustments to what we take in. The litany of possible diets can seem exhausting for people looking to find a healthy relationship with food: low-carb, vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, raw, Paleolithic, food combining, blood type, etc.  More and more, people feel the call to align what we eat to who we are. We understand that on some level the integrity and accuracy of the building blocks we give our bodies will help our resilience and vitality. As Hippocrates famously offered,  ”Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

From experience we know that what we eat affects how we feel; if I eat something heavy and rich, I’ll feel tired and overly full. But living as we do in a notoriously over-stimulating culture, we need also be aware that what we feed upon extends beyond merely our digestive systems: We should think of our eyes and our ears as other “mouths,” which take in a different kind of vibration in the form of light and sound waves. And we digest this intake through our nervous system. Just as our intestines break down and distribute the physical chemicals of the food we eat that make our bodies, the imagery and sounds we absorb pattern our own thoughts and understanding of the world and define how we relate to it.

A few weeks ago, I went to see a showing of Django Unchained. I was, fortunately, primed before I went to the theater, having watched a number of Tarantino’s previous films. I was prepared to expect the gratuitous, highly-stylized violence, prolific swearing, and intense situations. In that capacity, the film more than delivered.

On one hand, Django was an epic piece of cinema; it was brilliantly produced, the acting was superb, and the story was a cathartic saga of monumental proportions. But when I left the theater, I felt a density in my body that was atypical, to say the least, in my day-to-day experience of life (at least since I’ve been meditating regularly). There was a heaviness, an intensity, that I would parallel to how a lifelong vegetarian might feel after having eaten a huge, juicy steak.

Perhaps I’m oversensitive, and the traumatic horrors of slavery’s history cannot be denied; however, I still wonder how productive it is to string our systems through hours of such intensity. Obviously, I would never be a candidate for movies like the Saw series, but Django has since been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. I find myself caught in an artistic existential crisis in an intricate web of beauty and profanity.

Without question, violence in media represents a hot topic in recent decades. Aside from the buzz, we generally understand that our evolution as a species is intrinsically tied to moving beyond the harmful behavioral patterns we are still emerging out of. We understand that the correlation of environment and states of being predicate a level of discernment. As it is not my intention to advocate the censorship of content, we find ourselves in a situation that leaves the discrepancy of consumption as the consumer’s onus. For me, a movie like Django was a bitter pill: as much as I’m interested in witnessing high quality art, the trade off for the intense content is not worth the energetic setback I viscerally feel in the aftermath. So how can I best heed Hippocrates advice to let media too be my food and medicine? Is there a way to cultivate an integrity of exposure with a balance?

Having personally worked through a lot of previously-held judgements, I know how vital it is to authentically allow habits to fall off rather than fanatically oppose and repress. I love the way Neale Donald Walsh’s Conversations with God notes, “what you resist persists.” This motto has served to me as a gentle reminder to cultivate acceptance of what exists as I develop discernment for what is most symbiotic with my evolution, and it is with this caveat that we begin our inquiry.

Fortunately, our bodies have evolved to give us biophysical feedback about what nourishes us and what depletes. When I eat leafy greens, for instance, I feel light and nourished. When I eat a lot of chocolate, I feel craving and jitteriness. So to perpetuate a balanced experience, I generally choose to eat more leafy greens over chocolate…generally. We can take a similar approach to media, relationships and conversations to help navigate the biofeedback offered from our experience.

Let’s take a quick examination of the most prevalent “foods” in our lives with the top 5 media sources we engage with daily.

1) First, take a piece of recycled scratch paper, and turn it horizontally. Draw 4 vertical lines for 5 evenly-spaced columns.

2) In the first column, list the top 5 media outlets you interact with most often. These are anything from TV programs you watch and music you listen to, to the news outlets, Facebook, social media threads, movies, blogs, books, and magazines you frequent.

4) In the next column, write across from the respective medium the general content of what you engage with on that platform.

4) Then go down the list in column 3 and write about the quality of the subject matter you discuss. Is the content generally uplifting, emotionally intensifying, disconcerting, inspiring, defeating, negative, thought provoking, humorous?

5) In the next column, write how you feel when you peruse the information from this source. Are you usually excited, bored, nervous, amused, agitated, outraged, titillated, and engrossed?

6) Finally, take a minute to examine how you feel after you unplug. Are you left nourished?

Taking a step back from the exercise, what trends do you notice from these different sources? Are you getting a balanced meal through your eyes and ears too? For instance, I personally find that when I engage with Facebook, I often feel a subtle desperation and feel a bit depleted after I bounce through people’s feeds (an apropos naming!). Thus, I’ve gradually limited the time I bother scrolling and clicking through, and have made it a point to only post content I feel is a contribution or an inspiration. When I read spiritually oriented literature like The Bhagavad Gita or talks from the spiritual masters of Sahaj Marg, the meditation system I practice, I feel more buoyant and less dense than before I tuned in.

Some content’s healthiness is less obvious. I find Jon Stuart’s The Daily Show hilarious, but I notice a subtle frustration can build the light of ignorances the program highlights in various aspects of our culture. I’m not one for sticking my head in the sand, but I question the productivity of meeting opposition with opposition, albeit lightheartedly. These gray areas help us align to our own personal filters of homeostasis where we can be present to media without necessarily taking in or taking on the tone of what is offered.

Reflecting back on the trends of our most frequent dynamics, we can start seeing the patterns of how our outer world reflects our inner world. We can note if and how the subject and tone of the social and cultural content we choose to engage with regularly parallel our outlook on the world. As we notice habitual association that detracts from a balanced state of mind, we can deliberately choose how much energy we give them. We can reevaluate the time we engage with depleting content, and nurture our nervous systems with positively oriented sources that we can consider medicinal.

There is no doubt in recent years that there is more and more access to sustentative media. I trust that in the long run as we communally evolve, our fine-tuning will strengthen, and all that we intake (and produce) will become increasingly nourishing. Bon appétit!

Couldn’t agree more?  Share away!  Email, Facebook and Twitter away and share the love!



Guest Columnist: Emma Hawley

Since childhood, Emma Hawley has always asked the “million dollar questions.” She grew up in a family of thinkers and always found her comfort zone outside the box. Since graduating valedictorian of her class at UCLA,  she has found her footing in Los Angeles’  wealth of consciously oriented communities. Emma’s respite is in her daily Sahaj Marg sadhana: a form simplified of raja yoga meaning “Natural Path,” that has vastly transformed her inner world. Check out some of her musings on her personal blog, Spark in the Husk. Catch her tweets at @sparkinthehusk.

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Tiny Time Machines

Tiny Time Machines Stealing Time Back

by Garni Sohrabian.

once upon a time, before clocks told the time

not yet tomorrow, after yesterday
the time is now, the day today

the clockmaker made a big noisy clock
strange it was and said tick tock tick tock

the time bandit, one noisy day
heard so much noise he could not play

he broke the clock to be free
and made it look like infinity

Garni Sohrabian started a shoe company with a friend right after college. It grew into into nineteen countries and everyone thought he had it all on the outside, but deep inside something was missing. After seven years, he sold his ownership in the shoe company to travel, write, and do some soul searching. After finally finding his soul again, he started tiny time machines with his fellow time bandit friend Armen Mahdessian. Now they break clocks and remind people to be here now. Or as they call it, “steal time back” from the clockmaker!

Be sure to check them out on Facebook.

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Book Review: Mindful Movements: Ten Exercises for Well-Being

mind body spirit retreats, books, Mindful Movements: Ten Exercises for Well-Being is a beautiful little spiral bound book with an accompanying CD created by the Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.

This is one of several routines I have been doing everyday for the past five years. It is so simple to do that I even do it when I am on vacation or I am a bit under the weather. Some people are under the misconception that being mindful means sitting quiet and still with focused attention. These exercises demonstrate how you can have focused awareness while moving, promoting well-being through mindful movement.

Here is a Youtube video of Thich Nhat Hahn doing these exercises:

It may be hard to believe, but he is in his 80’s, yet notice the control he has over his movements.

The beauty of this book and CD is that young and old alike are capable of doing these mindful movements. As soon as our granddaughter is able to keep her balance on one leg, I plan to teach her this routine. It is never too young to teach mindfulness, and it is never too old to focus on our well-being.

To purchase this book, please click here (thanks for supporting Glad.is by purchasing through our Amazon store!)

Thank you to Paula Wilkes for submitting this book review. You may also be interestred in an article she recently wrote entitled “Do You Have a Spiritually Sensitive Child:” To learn more about Paula Wilkes, click here.

 

 

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Connecting Mind, Body And Spirit: Our Natural Way of Being

The attainment of “Body, Mind, Spirit” is not some far-out ideal only attained by eight hours of meditation a day, hours of intense daily yoga, or shaving your head and donning a monk’s robe.  It is our innate way of being.

Sometime in the early 1900’s, societies moved away from this natural state by creating an inner “split” or division of who we are as humans. The responsibility of the mind went to the government in the form of state education, our bodies offered up to the scientific and medical communities and the spirit to organized religion and  churches.

Let’s address the effects of that split within each area.

How we educate our minds.
In our modern educational institutions, the inherent wisdom of parents and family is removed from the equation. All the focus is on our mind and brains as a giant collective. There is no thought given to the unique needs of the individual’s creativity, emotions, or spirit. The cost of this neglect is a constant overriding of who we are innately. Children learn from an early age “don’t feel – just think,”  which is detrimental to our well being.

How we heal our bodies.
Doctors treat symptoms, not human beings.  If you have a problem with your liver, it’s not only the liver that needs attention, it’s the whole of who you are and the interconnectedness within your physical body as well your mind and spirit that needs to be addressed.  Let’s not forget that no two people are alike. We do need science to treat the symptom, but we should also look closer at the individual cause.  There are numerous studies that prove that our body’s biochemistry is inseparable from emotions and our energy. Our brain, glands and immune system are in constant communication.

How we connect to something bigger than ourselves.
Much of organized religion asks us to follow dogmatic belief and to completely cut ourselves off from our own internal wisdom.  Many religions ask their followers to believe that only god knows and ask us to succumb and surrender to an omnipotent being who is “higher ‘ above and separate from us, instead of teaching us to look within.  They give us instruction on how to “act in spiritual ways” rather than acknowledging that we are spirit.  Religion has put an emphasis on needing to relate, often fearfully, to God as other, instead of teaching that we are connected to, and indeed part of God.

The truth of our being is that you have all the information you need to awaken inside of you.

We’re not conditioned to talk about it, because most business models are based on invalidating and dis-empowering us in order to buy or use their services.  Yet within our core – our connectedness is there. It is underneath all the invalidation and dis-empowerment that we carry in our bodymind.

If you are looking to release the blocks of the bodymind, here are three steps to get started:body mind spirit photo

  1. Start looking at your internal talk. More than likely, most of your internal chatter is not serving you. You would never talk to a friend the way you are talking to yourself.  So inhale. Wave good-bye to the invalidation and say “Hello, validation.”  This is a process of letting go of all that old energy.
  2. When you notice you are stressed, angry etc, pay attention. Acknowledge the emotion. And STOP where you are. Yes, no matter where you are. Just say to yourself “Stop.” Then breathe five full breaths. Emotions might come up – let them. If you need to cry, great go ahead. If you are angry, just let that happen too. And breathe…
  3. Write down or think of 5 things you are grateful for and really feel them – even say them out loud.  You will quickly feel a shift in how you feeling.

This three-step process, validating your emotions, breathing deeply and harnessing the power of gratitude may feel awkward at first. In time and with practice,it will get easier and easier until it becomes second nature to incorporate these steps into your daily life. You are an amazing human being. Breathe in the essential amazing-ness of who you are. Enjoy.

 

It is important to create balance in your life by nurturing your whole person. Kismet Salem is an L.M.T., Somatic Trauma Resolution Therapist, Cranial Sacral Practitioner, Reiki Master, and Associated Polarity Practitioner. In this guide created especially for Glad.is readers, Salem outlines her unique technique to integrate energy work with structural body therapy and somatic emotional release.

Artwork by http://workisnotajob.com - a beautiful website full of meaningful art worth checking out!

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20 Ways Meditating Connects You to Your Higher Self

Benefits to Meditating

Just as we look to food and exercise for physical nourishment, we should look to mediation and prayer to nourish our spiritual selves.  In fact, meditation is spiritual exercise. It’s a daily workout that develops attitudinal muscles and keeps them strong. If left unattended, weak spiritual muscles bring up thoughts like anger, judgement and fear.

As “A Course in Miracles” says, “We are much too tolerant of mind-wandering. Miracles and miraculous shifts happen in meditation. It ignites our spirit. Deep inner peace, forgiveness and love all arise in a meditative mind. The busy mind can not create these circumstances.”

While it offers many physical health benefits, the spiritual health returns are undeniable.  Consider a 15-minute meditation your spiritual vitamin for the day.

Here are 20 reasons you might want to get up a bit earlier tomorrow morning.

Spiritual benefits:

1- It ignites our spirit.

2- Guides your internal compass and creates inner-directedness.

3- Increased self-actualization.

4- Increased compassion for yourself and others.

5- Grows wisdom.

6- Deepens understanding of yourself and others.

7- Brings body, mind, spirit in harmony.

8- Deeper Level of spiritual relaxation.

9- Increased acceptance of oneself.

10-Helps uncover forgiveness.

11- Changes attitudes toward life and provides peace of mind, happiness

12- Creates a deeper relationship with your God.

13- It’s the best path to enlightenment.

14- Helps us discover our purpose.

15- Helps us live in the present moment.

16- Creates a widening, deepening capacity for love.

17- Discovery of the power and consciousness beyond the ego.

18- Experience an inner sense of “Assurance or Knowingness.”

19- Experience a sense of “Oneness.”

20- Increases the synchronicity in your life.

Bonus:

21- Miracles and miraculous shifts happen in meditation.

But one of the best things about Meditation is that it’s completely free. If you need a guide, there are plenty of free meditations on YouTube. It requires no special equipment, and is not complicated to learn. It can be practiced anywhere, at any given moment, and it is not time consuming (15-20 min. per day is good). Best of all, meditation has NO negative side effects. Bottom line, there is nothing but positive to be gained from it. With such a huge list of benefits, the question you should ask yourself is, “why am I not meditating yet?”

If you need a point to start from, you should try a simple guide to meditation for beginners. This can provide you with a good foundation from which to begin your meditation practice.

We also love this heart chakra music meditation. 

It’s pretty simple -make sure you meditate.  There are quite simply too many positives to just ignore it.

 

How do you get centered?  A class, favorite YouTube meditation clip, CD collection?  Share your zen with us: 

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