The Most Important Meal Of The Day

Restoring balance naturally

Restoring balance naturally

 

Yogi Bhajan once said, “Some people ask me, “You are a Master, why do you do Sadhana?” I said, “To remain a Master!”

 

I experienced 2 injuries in the last few weeks. One left me in a heap on the floor and the other challenged each breath I took. I spent 3 minutes just trying to blow my nose this morning.

I was staggered at the events and my physical state with all my years of healthful practices: yoga, nutritious food and herbs, daily meditation. I had, however, neglected the healing practices that had helped me recover from a similar injury years ago. I’ve been in a great place for a long time and slowly let my practice go.

A client came to see me last week. I hadn’t see her in a while and she was not doing particularly well. I asked if she was doing any of her practices. She replied no.

We spend time finding and creating the practices that help us feel nourished and vibrant and whole, yet often when we get busy or feel good, we drop those very practices.

If something brings us such radiant well-being, why would we not make that the most central focus of each day. Why would we let those practices slip away until our state – mental, emotional, or physical – deteriorates enough for us to need to return to those practices?

The majority of female clients that I see share a common intention: self care. But we wait until we are struggling before we seek out methods of practice.

Don’t wait. Choose your form of self-care – whether it’s yoga, qigong, meditation, salt baths, aromatherapy, dance, singing, tea, the great outdoors, writing, painting, cooking, or self-massage – and make it your daily ritual.

Choose your practice. Make space for it. And allow it to nourish you everyday, as the most important meal of the day.

Eating Sattvic: Everyday Ayurveda

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Sattvic is a sanskrit word translated to mean purity. A sattvic diet was also considered a yogic diet. Ayurveda and yoga are 5000 year-old sister sciences and feed one another.

The foods consumed in a sattvic diet are light and easy to digest. They are reported to enhance focus, clarity, energy, harmony, and a balanced mind and attitude.

A sattvic diet is easy on the digestive system and nourishing for the body, mind and spirit.

Following a sattvic diet assists with meditation by calming the mind and easing digestion. It’s difficult to settle into silence when you feel like you have a brick in your gut. Likewise, the practice of yoga becomes easier with ease of digestion.

You can play with this one yourself. See how various foods affect your own practices.

A basic principle of a true sattvic diet is “do no harm”. Any food that caused the harm of anyone during its cultivation or preparation would not be considered sattvic. With this, meat is excluded from the pure sattvic diet.

One doesn’t have to be a purist in order to experience the benefits of sattvic eating. Begin by adding more sattvic food choices into your diet and your day. Make slow and gradual changes for simple and lasting effects.

 

Simple, sattvic suggestions:

vegetables (potato, sweet potato, lettuce, squash, cucumbers, pumpkin, tomatoes, spinach, cabbages, dried peas)

fruits (mangoes, figs, pears, lemons, grapes, apples, bananas, coconut, papaya, pineapple, raisins)

legumes (mung beans, lentils, kidney and lima beans)

cereal grains (rice, blue corn, wheat, barley, oatmeal, cereals)

ghee or butter

yogurt (lassi)

fresh milk

pure honey or raw sugar

pure water (spring water is an excellent source)

nuts (almonds, pistachios)

dried ginger

This rice pudding is a great way to begin incorporating sattvic foods. Try mangoes and honey with dried ginger instead of blueberries and cinnamon. Sattvic prefers fresh to leftovers. If making a fresh pot of rice makes this dish out of the question, leftovers will do.

Incorporate a daily sattvic smoothie, a spin on the traditional lassi. Add mango or papaya, perhaps banana and pineapple to yogurt, coconut milk, almond milk or fresh cow’s milk. Add honey and a pinch of ginger. A simple, nourishing breakfast.

 

Additional sattvic suggestions:

Eat only when you are hungry. Reduce snacking just for the sake of snacking. Enjoy water or herbal teas instead.

Moderation and balance is key. Eat until you are satiated, not stuffed. Taking your meals more slowly will assist with this.

Chew all food thoroughly and slowly. Enjoy both the preparation and the process.

If you can grow your own… even better. Happy garden, happy belly.

A Slice of Guilt with a Side of Shame.

The secret ingredient to good food.
The secret ingredient to good food.

The secret ingredient to good food.

It can seem hard enough to put a decent meal on the table for your family, concerned about whether they are getting enough nutrients and keeping processed, chemical-laden foods to a minimum. You read labels, you buy local or organic, you keep up on the latest information on diet and nutrition. Have you considered what your family ingests along with their well-prepared meals? Something that is entirely within your household’s control.

Have you considered the emotions they consume at mealtime?

The day can get away on us, leaving us feeling stressed, over-worked and resentful as we feel pressured to prepare a nutritious meal on top of it all. The atmosphere in the kitchen becomes less than appetizing. Work problems may follow us home, to be hashed out over chopping the dinner veggies. Frustration and exhaustion spice the meat while guilt of not spending quality time with the kids- let alone taking time for ourselves -seasons the rice.

How about the atmosphere around the table? Does your family joke, share interesting stories from their day and make eye contact with one-another, connecting over a good meal? Or do your kids get a heapin’ helping of disappointment over their performance at school, mixed with a serving of agitation because their singing at the table is making your over-stressed head hurt?

Carve out a time for serious family discussions outside of meals. Don’t make your family choke them down with dessert.

Do you even eat at the table, or does everyone gravitate to their respective places in the house and electronic distractions?

Healthy eating isn’t only about the food choices we make, but about the tone we set around mealtime. If you seem to have more calories on your plate than you’d like, here are a few ways to create a healthier meal:

  • Leave your work at the office and traffic on the road. Take a few minutes to leave your day before entering the house. Take a quick walk around the block, a few deep, cleansing breaths in the front yard or even in the car. Consider biking, walking, taking the train, or alternate modes of transportation that allow you to relax, read a book, or enjoy nature between work and home.
  • Grab a shower or bath. If you struggle to shake off your day before dinner time, enjoy a little hydrotherapy. Take a quick shower with a few drops of invigorating mint or eucalyptus oils or a restorative bath with citrus or vanilla. Toss the kids in too if they need a boost. 10 minutes is all you need.
  • Treat your kitchen like a spa, and food- the therapies. Breathe, relax, light a candle, put on great music, sing, or dance. Enjoy preparing food and lead by example. You’ll be having such a good time, the rest of the family will want to join in. Put love into the food and gratitude for good meals and great family.
  • Keep the tone light. If light-hearted conversation doesn’t come easy at dinner, initiate a discussion about the up-coming family holiday and what everyone is excited to do, or ask how everyone is and how you can help them. Don’t feel pressured to talk about anything at all, enjoy the meal in contented silence or listening to your 5-year-old explain the nuances of his latest Lego creation. Simply savour good food and a break in your day to connect as a family.
  • Don’t rush the meal. Remember, this is your time at the spa. Nourish yourself and your family: body, mind and spirit.

One of the best things I do in my day is bring both kids home from school for lunch. I am fortunate to be able to do it and we all enjoy it. They like a hot meal on often-cold days and I get my head out of work and connect with them and their worlds through good food. As I drop the kids at school in the morning my son will often ask, “Mom, what’s on the menu for lunch today?” He looks forward to our midday mealtime together.

Strive for quality, fresh, nutritious food but don’t stress about what you have planned for dinner. Sometimes it’s less important what you serve than how you serve it. The most beautiful, nutritious meal can leave a sour taste in my mouth and a brick in my gut if I have to eat it with a side of someone’s hostility. While laughing and sharing great conversation and funny stories with family can find me content eating a hot dog (and a nice green salad on the side, of course!)

Set your intention for an easy, happy, healthy meal as you set your table for your family.

 

 

 

Ask Bigger Questions

Feel Part of a Bigger Purpose
Feel Part of a Bigger Purpose

Feel Part of a Bigger Purpose

I previously wrote a piece entitled Ask Better Questions to help people shift from why me to what can I do. Although empowering, over time my questions began to feel small. It was still all about me, and though that’s been the focus of my practice and work, it seemed to keep me stuck in a small world of me.

I’ve eaten well, I’ve done my yoga and meditation, I’ve honed my daily practices and allowed creativity to blossom in my life, yet I still feel pulled by a greater purpose, a need for deeply satisfying fulfillment. I sat on my front step in contemplation and it hit me: What if the questions stopped being about me?

I thought of Einstein and how I doubt he asked: How can I get along better with the other scientists? How can I make money at what I do? How can I stop stressing about my health?

I saw him asking questions with the wide-eyed curiosity of a child and the stubborn drive of a determined explorer. Questions like: How does energy work and what is humanity’s relationship to it? What is light? What makes up the empty space? How can creative thought be fostered and expanded? What is the connection between space and time? Does the observer impact the observed?

Of course not knowing Einstein, I can’t say what his questions were but I assume they were bigger than him.

I started my composition of bigger questions. It took a few tries as they still seemed to involve me. How can I help people heal? Seemed bigger but felt like small in disguise. I tried again.

What can humanity do to help the earth thrive?

What can humanity do to help humanity thrive?

What is the relationship of our thoughts to our physical and emotional health?

How can we restore our oceans to pristine conditions?

How can all people have access to clean water? Great schools? Art? Nutritious food? Satisfying work? Health resources?

How can all villages, cities, and communities become vibrant places to work, live, grow, learn, and thrive?

What is the relationship between humanity and nature?

For ourselves we continue to ask how we can thrive. For humanity we need to begin to ask how the planet can thrive and us along with it.

Einstein made quantum leaps with his questions. It’s time for new quantum leaps, to ask the great questions of our time.

To discover greater fulfillment, reconnect to a bigger purpose, pull ourselves from our own bubble, connect to our community, global family and planet, and stir the cosmic pot of creativity, we must start asking bigger questions.

What kind of questions do you think these bright minds asked when they came up with their New York innovation?

 

I apologize for the image quality but wanted to share the photo of the banner that hung above the stage at my kids’ elementary school during their performance honouring Earth Day. Their question that day: What changes are each of you willing to make to support the earth?