One of my favorite ways of eating mindfully is to know where my food comes from and to work with the earth in its creation. Tending to my garden is a meditation for me and part of my own sacred time each morning. I find that taking a little extra time to myself at the beginning of each day makes it easier to live with intention while cultivating a center of calm with which to respond to life’s challenges. My family yard is filled with organic produce that I water each morning between tea and meditation. Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Asian pears, plums, huckleberry, kale and garlic. Corn, peppers, pumpkin and even a small pomegranate tree. But the one thing I await with most anticipation are the tomatoes. There is absolutely nothing more delicious to me than a garden-fresh tomato. Especially heirloom varieties with their multicolored flesh and extraordinary flavor. This morning I had the great joy of harvesting the first tomatoes and using them on my favorite breakfast of whole grain toast with flax seed oil and slices of fresh tomato. Tending to my garden I feel close to nature, a strong source of spiritual connection in my life. I take care to treat the earth gently by using organic veganic compost, and avoiding all chemical or animal derived soil amendments. I find that being surrounded by such a lush produce garden inspires me to eat those foods at every meal and my work in the garden automatically gives me at least 10 minutes planning for mindful eating.
Archive for August 2009
Eating mindfully means taking into consideration how the food you choose to fuel your life with is going to impact your body, your mind and even your spirit in both the short and long-term. The ME2 Challenge does not specifically recommend any particular diet but seeks to provide information to empower our community to make their own (mindful) decisions. While there are as many different approaches to a healthy diet as there are people and cultures, we can all agree that Mother Earth provides us with what we need to nourish and sustain optimum health.
Here are some steps to take as you make the commitment to eating mindfully:
- Educate yourself about all issues surrounding food and nutrition. Know where your food comes from, what those ingredients listed on the label are and find out how they can potentially impact your health. Some good resources to begin with include this blog, Food Inc, a recently released documentary, The Omnivore?s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.
- Get a complete physical and health evaluation by a caring, experienced physician that listens to you and gives you as much time as you need. Knowing where your health stands is an important first step in making mindful decisions about food.
- Focus on the beautiful foods you get to eat, versus thinking about foods you may want to avoid. Whole, fresh, organic produce should form a nutrient-rich foundation of any healthy diet.
- Pay attention to how you feel about the food you are eating and how it resonates with you. How do you feel after eating? Do your meals inspire your senses and energize you? Or do you feel guilty, tired or uncomfortable? Let your innate wisdom guide your choices.
- Grow your own food ? even a potted herb garden is a wonderful way of connecting with all levels of nourishment the healthy eating provides.
Just as I have a cup of tea to start every morning, my meditation practice always comes next. Recently I completed a 21-day commitment to mantra recitation and the habit of beginning the day in meditation is establishing in my life. Each morning I find a quiet spot and recite my mantra, making at least 3 rounds on my wrist mala. This practice has provided me with a center of calm with which to begin my days. Now I am working with new mantras and coming back to the first mantra whenever I feel the need.
The most difficult thing in the world may be to do or think absolutely nothing. This is not our human nature, but our true, divine nature is at home no matter what we are (or are not) doing. People who experience frequent anxiety and chronic stress may find it difficult at first to engage in a practice that requires us to tune out of the clamoring demands of daily life. Yet because their sense of stress and overload urges them to keep going at all costs, meditation is especially helpful, if not life-saving for people who feel this way.
Meditation is a truly holistic practice in that it provides benefits for body, mind and spirit. Clinical research indicates meditation can influence positive health outcomes such as lowering blood pressure and easing stress, tension and anxiety. Meditation keeps the mind sharp and focused by allowing the clutter of worry, preoccupation and negative thinking to fall away as we are centered in our selves, the source of generosity, love and compassion. Our spirits also thrive when we practice meditation daily. With consistent practice we clear out the pipeline to our true nature, much like healthful foods can clear clogged arteries, and soon this access to the divine, or our intuition is available all of the time.
Have you noticed how exercise leaves you feeling like you’ve hit a reset button? When we approach exercise as a sacred commitment to ourselves and seek activity that uplifts and refreshes us body, mind and spirit, a daily work out becomes a treat, rather than a chore. We know that regular exercise relieves stress and can help reverse diseases such as depression and type II diabetes. More than this, exercise flushes your entire body with fresh oxygen and helps metabolize stagnant hormones, leaving your body revitalized and renewed. A sound, healthy body, free of the distractions that pain and illness bring up and a peaceful, centered mind bring you closer to your deepest intentions. This is important for spiritual practice, as intention is everything!
Begin with a commitment to dedicating just 20 minutes a day to exercise. Building physical activity into your daily life is an effortless way to make time for exercise despite the demands of the busiest, overwhelming schedule. Taking the stairs, parking farther from your destination and wearing a pedometer and with a daily goal to hit a certain number of steps are all wonderful habits to cultivate. Approach these activities with intention and honor them as sacred commitments to your self.
Think of your daily 20 minutes as playtime – a recess from the over-thinking and over-doing of our culture. Head to the monkey bars at your local park for a great upper body workout or commute by bike to strengthen your heart and lungs and avoid the stress of traffic. Ask a friend, family member or neighbor to join the challenge with you and commit to exercising together. Practice sun salutations while your morning coffee or tea brews, take a brisk walk around the building on your lunch break or lift dumbbells while waiting on hold. Opportunities for meaningful, enjoyable exercise are everywhere once you make the commitment and begin looking.