Taste For Life Blog
Each year, I give myself the gift of a weekend meditation retreat held in silence.
I go with the intention of starting and sticking with a meditation practice. When the retreat ends, I meditate daily for about a month. Then I get distracted and move on to other things.
But I’ve stopped feeling like a fraud for attending weekend retreats even though I’m not a real devotee. Here’s why.
What meditation can do for you
Meditation can be a tool, whether you incorporate it into your life every day or squeeze it in when you remember to or whether you do it on a yearly retreat for a few days at a stretch.
Silence is nourishing. It’s good medicine, much like taking a walk along the ocean, listening to the waves. It’s primal, and we don’t need to understand its healing powers to know something good is happening.
Of course, this hasn’t stopped the scientists from trying to figure it out. Research shows that meditation lowers blood pressure, relieves stress, and improves mood.
The most recent research shows that the practice—even if only done 20 minutes a day for 2 months—delivers anti-aging benefits at the cellular level, protecting against the chronic inflammation that leads to cancer and heart problems.
But there’s another reason you should consider a meditation retreat. I guarantee you will meet someone you feel a connection to. That person will seem familiar, but you won’t be able to place where you’ve met. You’ll be intrigued by them, though, and feel sure you could be the best of friends.
That person, of course, is you.
Whatever brings you to a meditation retreat, whether it be stress at work or a need to break away from the kids to remember who you are, there is something about silence that delivers the gift of whatever is needed.
I never have the experience I think I will. I arrive with expectations. I’m convinced that I know the types of thoughts that will surface over the hours of meditation that lie ahead.
And yes, these issues do come up. You experience what the Buddhists call “monkey mind,” a storm of thoughts flitting about, jumping from subject to subject.
Through it all, you learn to notice your thoughts and then let them go. Eventually, you simmer down and the quiet space between thoughts grows longer. The charged issues that made you pay to sit with a bunch of strangers for an entire weekend? Those issues go away.
And that is when your soul starts talking. Now that it has your attention, it turns out it has a few things to say. These will likely be about issues you thought were long over, processed and dealt with, thank you very much.
Everyone tells themselves stories about their lives and the things that have happened. Sometimes we change a story to turn ourselves into more of a villain than we actually were. Sometimes we make ourselves more of a hero.
I’ve found that the days spent in silent retreat offer a third alternative—the truth. No spin. No hero, no villain. Just life.
The chance to sit with the truth in a state of true acceptance is a profound gift. When you leave the meditation hall on Sunday, you leave more fully yourself than you have been for a long time.
Have you had a good experience with a meditation retreat or just meditation in general?
The European Union (EU) recently voted to temporarily ban the use of certain pesticides. Many of their scientists believe that the pesticides—called neonicotinoids—may be contributing to the staggering loss of honeybees around the world (known as colony collapse disorder).
Neonicotinoids attack the central nervous system of insects—paralyzing and killing them.
The EU will use the 2-year moratorium to further study the impact of these pesticides on honeybees.
In contrast, a recent U.S. Agriculture Department and Environmental Protection Agency report blames colony collapse disorder on many factors, including loss of living areas for bees and pesticide use. But unlike the EU, the use of pesticides is minimized in the U.S. report, with much of the blame being pinned on a parasitic mite.
What do you think is contributing most to the loss of the bees?
Okay, we're on the brink of May. Spring is here, and you know what that means, don't you?
No, it's not time to get bikini ready. It's time to get smarter, healthier, and happier. All for free.
How do we do this? Well, the David Suzuki Foundation is betting that if you spend 30 minutes in nature every day for 30 days, starting on May 1, you will reap these rewards—and more.
The organization, which aims to protect the diversity of nature by inspiring people to act with nature in mind, is betting that by simply spending more time outdoors, our resolve to protect the planet will grow stronger. Talk about a win-win!
The foundation is Canadian, and this is a "Canadian" challenge, but that doesn't mean other nationalities can't join the ride!
Sign up for the 30x30 Nature Challenge. You will receive tips on how to get your daily nature fix throughout the month.
You can fill out a survey (at the start of the challenge and at the end) that the foundation will use to determine if more nature increases people's well-being.
Could it really be that the secret to happiness is just getting outside more often?
Let's get onboard to support this effort! Sign up and let us know how it goes!Comments
Get the 411 on what's in the foods and beverages you're consuming! April 11 has been declared "Read Your Labels Day" by consumer advocacy group, Citizens for Health (www.citizens.org).
Families are encouraged to read the labels on products in their kitchen pantries and refrigerators, and on grocery store shelves. Look for the "Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid," a list of today's most worrisome sweeteners, preservatives, and industrial chemical additives. These include high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and monosodium glutamate.
Take photos of these products and share them on Instagram using the hashtag #ReadYourLabels.
Through its website FoodIdentityTheft.com, the non-profit organization keeps consumers informed about food safety issues. On its blog, it has provided info on each of these 10 most controversial ingredients that can be found in hundreds of processed foods, including what they're used for and why consumers should avoid products that contain them.
"Harmful food additives can contribute to many serious medical conditions that include diabetes, obesity, and heart disease," notes Harvard MD, Dr. Eva Selhub. "Eliminating these 'top 10' additives from your diet is an excellent start to healthier eating."
While many shoppers scan the nutrition labels on packages looking for such things as saturated fats or sodium content, an independent study published in 2011 by the food and beverage research group Mintel reported that less than half of consumers surveyed read the ingredients labels on the foods they bought in supermarkets.
"The majority of us don't check the list of ingredients on food package labels," said Jim Turner, who chairs Citizens for Health. "Many of the big food manufacturers are counting on this. If we don't read or understand the ingredients in their products, they can put pretty much whatever they want to into our food."
Sick of recycling a seemingly endless stream of catalogs and magazine and credit offers?
Take a small green step and stop them from entering your mailbox for five years. Register with the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service and opt out.
Youll be glad you did!Comments
More good news for the Mediterranean diet! Researchers have found that olive oil increases satiety—that nice feeling of fullness that makes you stop eating sooner.
In a three-month study, people ate low-fat yogurt enriched with one of four different types of edible fats and oils: lard, butterfat, rapeseed (canola) oil, or olive oil.
The people who ate the olive oil-enhanced yogurt showed the highest amounts of serotonin—a satiety hormone—in their blood. This puzzled the researchers because rapeseed oil and olive oil contain the same level of fatty acids.
After more research, they found that olive oil has aroma components that help people feel full. These substances in the oil helped slow down how fast people's cells were absorbing glucose. (The faster this process happens, the sooner you feel hungry again.)
Of all the olive oils tested from Spain, Greece, Italy, and Australia, it was the olive oil from Italy that contained the highest concentration of the aroma compounds. So stock up and feel good about it!
"Olive Oil Makes You Feel Full," www.sciencedaily.com, 3/14/13
Whole Foods Market recently announced that by 2018, all genetically modified foods will be labeled as such in its 339 stores in the United States and Canada.
Company representatives say it is in response to consumer demand. Prop 37, a GMO labeling initiative was defeated in California in 2012. Major companies such as Monsanto and PepsiCo invested millions of dollars into the campaign to defeat it. Labeling legislation is now pending in 22 states.
Could this be the tipping point for consumers' right to know what's in their food?
You know you should be eating whole grains for maximum nutritional benefit. But that can feel like a challenge if you're trying to eat gluten free.
Let the Whole Grains Council help you!
You'll find a list of gluten-free grains and the trusted companies that offer them. There's also info on how to cook gluten-free grains and even how to clean the sticky bottoms of pans that you cook in!Comments
Have the pounds crept up on you over the years? You’re not alone.
A study that tracked more than 120,000 Americans for more than two decades found that people gain an average of 3.35 pounds every four years.
Well, they exercise less and watch more TV as they age. As far as diet is concerned, big contributors to weight gain include the consumption of red and processed meats, sugary beverages, and potatoes (as in mashed or French fries).
But the biggest weight-gain culprit is potato chips. “The coating of salt, the fat content that rewards the brain with instant feelings of pleasure, the sugar that exists not as an additive but in the starch of the potato itself—all of this combines to make it the perfect addictive food,” reports Michael Moss in the New York Times article “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.”
This is why no mere mortal can eat just one chip. The aforementioned starch spikes the glucose levels in your blood, which makes you want to eat more and more chips.
If you’re a potato chip junkie looking to wean yourself from your habit, try this vitamin-rich sweet potato chip recipe instead.
Favorite new instant oatmeal: Nature's Path Organic Flax Plus!
Low fat, great flavor, 37 grams of whole grains, 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, excellent source of ALA omega 3. What's not to like?Comments