A Sky Like Mind, Active Abs and The Art of Slow and Mindful Eating

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Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Have you thought about what pace feels right for you? At times I do have a need for speed and love the energy and creativity that feels supercharged in big cities like Manhattan. Right now, I feel the need to breath deeply, chill out and slow down to refocus. Not unplug, just down shift to first or maybe second gear.

Something clicked the minute I stepped off the plane at Providenciales. An assuring voice inside my head delivered a comforting message “a more intentional pace.” This slower island pace. Not the harried, brisk and hurried hustle of New York, but the more deliberate and intentional easiness, much like the gentle movement of the waves and soothing breezes of this island.  I am not describing a snail-like, creeping, lazy/boozy pace, but that of speaking, thinking, walking and working which is more conscious, considered and purposed. More thoughtful living. This is the pace for now.

And so it goes with meals, especially meals together. My memories of my youth bring me back to four hour dinners around the long outdoor communal table, under the grapevines, with my loud and excited extended Italian family. The never-ending conversations, the slow and relaxed experience of enjoying a meal together.

The Art of Slow and Mindful Eating begins with an intention to create an experience. Setting the mood, dimming the lights, selecting soft and slower music and smaller plates,  create an atmosphere for mindful eating.  Imagine setting a stage to enjoy and savor your meal. This mindful eating ritual can be extended to any meal – from breakfast to dinner. For more tips on mindful eating, check out Dara Rose, PhD, neuroscientist, foodist, author and the creator of Summer Tomato.

I start my meals by saying grace. Sometimes privately, sometimes with my family. Saying grace can transform a mere meal into an act of celebration, focus, and gratitude.

Listening to meditation talks from Tara Brach, I actually envisioned what she describes as “A Sky Like Mind“, a more expansive mind that allows me to open to the very healing, healthy and beautiful moment that is right now, this healing presence.  Tara’s podcasts and book, Radical Acceptance has really helped release the fear, worry and pain that stems from the mental swirl of anxious activity, the grasping and wanting that only proves to enslave my mind.

It is by meeting each moment throughout the day with radical acceptance for what ever is going on and holding those feelings that arise with a compassionate and open heart, a forgiving heart, this is feels like true freedom.

Reading
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Active Abs

With everything moving at a slower pace this week, I had the opportunity to try Pilates class for the first time. One of the slowest classes I have attended in a long time, a slight pick up from yoga, nothing about the Pilates Method is haphazard. The reason you need to concentrate so thoroughly is so you can be in control of every aspect of every moment.  The one reminder that I have walked away with today is Active Abs and focusing on my posture, especially when sitting at my desk for hours at end.  Two exercises to help you feel your abdominal muscles correctly.

Blue moon beach

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It is one thing to read and listen to inspiring thoughts, another to put in the effort to practice them. So if life is made of precious moments than I am inspired to create moments that spark joy. To write a better story every day. To live with more intent.

Everything we do brings joy.

Brushing our teeth, cooking our breakfast, walking in the meditation hall — everything we do, every step, every breath should bring joy and happiness to us. Life is already full of suffering; we don’t need to create more. Read Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh: 365 days of practical, powerful teachings from the beloved Zen teacher mise en scène A beautiful blue moon beach picnic in Bayville, Long Island, New York.  A toast to another  long work week endured. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset this photo turned out to looking more like a painting with the VSCO Cam filter. serving up Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Recipe for a crisp coconut & lime shrimp and mango salad. chop and toss the following ingredients with olive oil 20 jumbo lime-soaked shrimp 2 ripe avocados 20 cherry tomatoes (quartered) 1 red onion 1 mango 2 red peppers toss with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil 1/2 cup of shredded coconut 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts Serve with sliced pumpernickel toast points sweetness honey drizzled figs & cold ripe organic cherries The sounds Listen – Astronauts, etc; Glass Animals, Crystal Fighters, Chet Faker, etc . . .

spotify:user:madelinemariejohnson:playlist:3rXEYCjemsQsmGJr0UM6lZ

The late night flick Holy Rollers – free on SnagFilms. I discovered this free indie film site via Tiny Buddha

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Photos processed with Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Creating Headspace, Vagabonding and Living Well

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Every day is its own kind of hectic. Filled with lists, work, frustration, chores, bills, etc.  And as much as I’d like to take a leave of absence, a few days off or dare I say, go on a “vacation”, right now I’m satisfied with stealing daily moments of downtime, right where I am.

Near future plans for travel include far off adventures to the Isle of Skye in Scotland; Bahia, Brazil; Angkor Wat, Cambodia;Koh Rong in the Gulf of Thailand; Palau in the Pacific . . . . .wild and natural places, near and far.

The mindset of a traveler.

I’m currently listening to the audio version of Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. More like a guide book for freeing your life, it’s not just about tactical advice on own to make room for your own travel adventures, it’s about adapting a new way of thinking, living, working and exploring the world.

A sample quote –

“Vagabonding is an attitude—a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word. Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend. It’s just an uncommon way of looking at life—a value adjustment from which action naturally follows. And, as much as anything, vagabonding is about time—our only real commodity—and how we choose to use it.”

Read

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

A Meditation Vacation

Oh how I look forward to the adventures ahead, but in the meantime, I keep my mind in a calm, relaxed and summer vacation-like state with meditation. I began practicing Vipassana meditation about three months ago for about 10 minutes a day. It’s not easy letting go of all the racing thoughts and anxious emotions, so I looked for a guide.

I started with the Headspace App.  It’s an app created by Andy, a zen-like surfer who teaches you how to meditate. It really is genius. The first 10 minute meditation has you focus just on breathing and I found it to be incredibly soothing.  Get Some Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day

Becoming aware of the mind’s power to incorporate moments of calm and peace, the type of relaxed inner calm you might get on a vacation can serve to reduce stress in just a few seconds. It’s like a road trip for the mind.

For mere living is not good, but living well is another thing altogether. Reflect on the quality of your life, not the quantity. – Seneca
Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)