This is Bliss - Fall 2007

For the first time in a long time I’m sad to see the summer go. When I was a kid the end of summer meant only one thing – back to school, lots of homework, no more playing jailbreak until 10pm, no more chasing after the ice-cream truck, and no more bike rides to the candy store…  When I became an adult, however, summer only meant going to work in the heat, sweating a lot, feeling low energy, and sick to my stomach most of the time. I couldn’t wait until the heat and humidity were gone and the cooler weather arrived.

This year, however, I took a different approach to my usual barreling-through-summer-just-to-get-to-the-fall tactics. I took advantage of summer instead of fighting against it: took advantage of all the wonderful fruits and veggies that were available, took advantage of the fact that both Jonathan and I were working a little less than usual, took advantage of the heat and humidity by escaping to the beach, shopping at the farmers market, and enjoying picnics.

Most importantly I transitioned into the summer months with a cleanse.  This cleanse was about eating well – eating simple foods that were nourishing and easy to digest. It was about eating with awareness, in a way that not only cleansed the body but also nourished it. 

Right away I noticed just how often I ate while working, while traveling from one place to another, or while I was doing something else, and I realized that there is something very comforting and calming about simply sitting and eating and making that the only activity. In fact, I even took to eating my breakfast in silence for awhile, which was inspired by my retreat to KripaluCenter for Yoga and Health. While there for only a mere weekend, I quickly noticed just how blissed out you can get eating fruit and cooked quinoa in silence, while looking out over the beautiful green mountain tops. Aaahhhh….

As my cleanse progressed, I became more mindful of the food I was eating and how I prepared and ate it, especially breakfast and lunch, which I usually ate out of an obligation to fill myself.  During this time, however, I looked at how I could nourish myself first thing in the morning to begin my day well, and how to keep the engine purring, so to speak, mid-way through the day.

I also paid close attention to how food and various food combinations affected me so that I could make more mindful choices each time I sat down to eat. I noticed what it felt like to eat more in tune with the natural rhythm of the season – savoring the summer fruits, zucchinis, tomatoes, and seasonal greens, rather than just reaching for the various fruits and veggies that are made available to us throughout the year, even though they may not necessarily be in season.

From that simple cleanse sprang forth the realization that just as we need to feed ourselves foods that nourish us, we also need to feed our spirits and souls. “Each time we feed ourselves is an opportunity to practice self love, compassion and reverence for our spiritual nature.” If the Buddha Came to Dinner p.156. This feeding ourselves is as much about the activities we do as it is the food that we eat. Are we creating and leading lives that truly feed and nourish us? Are we following our bliss so to speak, living our lives with passion?  And if not, why not?

“All aspects of our lives can nourish us.” If the Buddha Came to Dinner p.184. The more we “feed” ourselves, the more fully, mindfully, and abundantly we can live; the more we can deepen and honor our relationship with our spirit; and the more we can live more passionately, with zeal! When we feed that spirit, we live more spiritual lives – it doesn’t have to be about going to a place of worship; it’s about how we do the everyday things like cook, clean, take care of family, friends, pets, interact with others, even watch TV.

Nourishing ourselves is a process that encourages awareness. It’s a journey of making choices that takes care of us wholly - body, mind and spirit.

QUOTES

Nourishment means reestablishing your intimate connection to your body so you know when you are balanced, recognize when you are not, and understand how to respond to your ongoing needs for equilibrium.  From If the Buddha Came to Dinner, how to nourish your body and awaken your spirit by Hale Sofia Schatz.

BEST PRACTICES

Please sit down to have your meal and enjoy only your meal. Start by taking a moment to thank those who grew or picked the food. If you eat meat thank the animal who gave you that meat. Extend your gratitude to the truck drivers who brought the food to the store, the employees of the store who stocked the food and of course, offer your thanks to yourself or whomever prepared the food. Before you take a bite, notice the colors of your food, the smell of your food, the texture of it. Then notice the taste, even the sound of it so that you savor each bite and experience it fully in the present moment.

Treat yourself at least once a month to doing something that fuels you:

          Read a book or magazine that has nothing to do with your line of work 

          Buy flowers just for you

          Take a nap

          Take a “mental health” day

          Ride your bike or take a walk without your watch

          Call or spend time with the people that feed your soul

          I’m sure you can think of a dozen more…

Take a moment to think about your passions.

What are they?

Are they are part of your life?

How/where do they show up? – How/where don’t they - why? 

Can you change that?

If you are curious about improving your overall well-being check out nutrition coach Shannon Lynn Martin at shannonlynn.com, slnhealthytidbits.blogspot.com.  She offers a wide array of options for helping improve not only your eating habits, but your whole being by taking an integrated approach to healthy living.

WORDS OF WISDOM

With nourishment, I have seen over and over again that if we feed ourselves with intention and love, and with life-filled foods, our everyday lives become more infused with spirit and spiritual direction. It’s no longer just about getting up in the morning, going to work, coming home, and going to bed. The daily routine still exists, but every aspect of life is infused with a greater purpose. From If the Buddha Came to Dinner, how to nourish your body and awaken your spirit by Hale Sofia Schatz.

Remember that food is the most basic link with the source of life. Be thankful for it, pray over it, honor it. We are not just filling our belly; we are nurturing our mind and spirit as well. Eating with full awareness puts us in harmony with nature – not only with the external world, but also our own inner nature. Carrie Angus, as published in Yoga Gems, edited by Georg Feuerstein.

MEDITATION IDEAS

Place an object that has meaning to you on your altar or table. It could be a picture of someone or something, a flower or plant, a favorite painting…something that feeds your soul. Use that as your object of meditation, breathing in the energy you receive from that object; breathing out, sharing those good vibes.

To access more meditation ideas, check out www.yogajournal.com

POSE OF THE SEASON

Savasana (corpse pose)

Savasana, also known as corpse pose, is probably the most important pose of all the yoga asanas. The rest and relaxation it provides the body and mind are incredibly nourishing and healing especially since most of us are on the go all the time, suffer from stress, and don’t have a lot of time to rest and relax.

Finding that deep rest in savasana allows us to go into “off-mode” where we can slow down the muscular activity of the body, lower heart rate, and eventually quiet the mind. It also allows us the opportunity to withdraw from the input of the senses (pratyahara), so that the outside noises we hear, the smells we smell, etc. no longer affect us.

Savasana also provides us with the opportunity to reconnect with ourselves, which can be the last thing we attend to during our day-to-day activities. We live in such a fast paced environment that we end up losing ourselves by the end of the day. In savasana we can go inside and become one with ourselves, experiencing a sense of deep peace.

(If you have low back issues, are pregnant or experience digestion issues you might want to try savasana on your side (preferably your left). Also, you may want to avoid savasana on your back if you become overly anxious or suffer from depression.  As with any physical/exercise program you should always consult your doctor before trying a new practice.)

  • Start by simply lying on your back, knees bent. Feel the earth supporting your whole back body from the back of your head through your tailbone.
  • Feel free to place a blanket under your head and neck for additional support. Your chin should be slightly lower than your forehead, but not tucked in.
  • Extend one leg out at a time.
  • Feel free to place a blanket rolled up underneath your knees to help relieve any tension in your low back.
  • Close your eyes – make sure you are comfy and warm.
  • Breathe a few nice, deep, even breaths. Take notice of any areas of tension, breathe into those areas and consciously release them.
  • Eventually allow the breath to fall into an easy, natural rhythm.
  • Find stillness and rest.

Go Deeper

Foundation

Allow your whole back body to melt into the earth, and let the front body fall into the back body like a feather, light and easy. Separate the legs from each other and let them drop open. Release the bones into the muscles and the muscles into the earth. Allow Mother Earth to hold you gently as you take deep rest.

Pelvis/Spine

Notice the natural curves of spine, paying attention to which parts release into the earth and which parts rise up away from it. Allow the spine to lengthen and ease its way along the ground.

Arms/Shoulder/Neck

Let the arms slide a few inches away from your torso and turn the palms upward. Feel the collarbones spreading wide and releasing through the shoulders and down the arms. Free up the neck, finding a long, supple line of energy. Feel the space between the neck and the earth - allow it to rest there without overstretching.

Allow your body, your mind and your spirit to just be, without any movement, any chatter, any judgment. Enjoy the nourishment you receive from resting deeply, becoming quiet and turning your attention inward and becoming more receptive. Give yourself permission to give in and give over.

Thank you so much for reading the Fall 2007 issue of this is bliss. Please feel free to share any thoughts, ideas, suggestions, or comments. And certainly feel free to pass this along to anyone else you think might enjoy reading it. If you would like to be removed from the mailing list, please email and let me know.

Peace, Love, and BLISS!

Beth

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