Health

Mindful Eating: Savoring Meal Time

Mindful Eating: Savoring Meal Time

As a New Yorker, I get it — we’re busy. I’m a long distance runner, and know that sometimes food is only fuel — calories consumed to keep our bodies in movement. I’ve squeezed plenty of packets of electrolytes in my mouth while running, and for lunch today I microwaved a burrito while taking a conference call and reviewing train times for my next appointment. But I also love cooking and eating. And, news flash: mindfulness is not a speed, it’s an attitude of curiosity and compassion for whatever’s happening.

Mindful Eating is often thought of as the classic “slow eating of a raisin” exercise made famous by Thich Nhat Hanh and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction training. It’s a wonderful way to pay attention to the subtleties of eating.

Building Routine Around Self-Care

Building Routine Around Self-Care

Showing kindness to ourselves can be one of the more challenging practices to commit to. Life happens, challenges arise, we get busy, and it is only illness, fatigue, burn out, and moments of overwhelm that ask us, with urgency, to prioritize self-care. Yet, by living in a human body we have every tool needed to support ourselves in sustainable well-being.

One of the simplest means of showing kindness to ourselves is to create personal rituals. Rituals are a single action or series of actions that are meaningful and performed the same each time. Rituals are tools that offer us space to pause, honor ourselves, and become present. 

Taste Each Bite: The Benefits of Slow Eating

In recent years, food has become less about community and artsmanship, and more about convenience. However, slowing down the fast pace of modern life is essential to wellbeing - especially when it comes to meals. Many studies have shown that eating slowly is tremendously beneficial for the body and mind. Although it can be instinctual to scarf down a quick bite between meetings or after work, taking the time to chew slowly and take breaks between bites can improve the entire eating experience.

The Health Benefits: Improves Digestion

Eating has everything to do with the mind-body connection. As you chew, your brain is sending signals to multiple parts of your body to prepare for digestion. When you eat slowly, you’re giving your body more time to realize what’s happening. In fact, it takes twenty minutes on average for your mind to signal to your body that you are full. Chewing quickly can override this mind-to-body dialogue because it all happens too fast. Often this leads to stomach cramps, bloating, poor digestion, or even acid reflux. Chewing slowly, on the other hand, allows your mind and body to be in sync. Together your mind and body can work more effectively by giving your mouth and stomach time to get the message.

The Experiential Benefits: Appreciate The Food

Food is good, so good. In fact it might be one of life’s greatest joys, so why not make the most of it? Rather than rushing through that piece of pizza, burger, granola bar or fresh apple, slowing down to savor it helps you get more than calories out of your food. When chewing slowly, you may notice flavors, smells, and textures you might have missed before. Eating slowly doesn’t just stop you from being hungry, it makes for a much richer experience.

The Social Benefits: Enjoy Your Company


Some of the healthiest nations in the world don’t actually eat what we might consider “healthy” food. Countries like France, Italy, and Greece eat a diet based primarily in breads and cheeses, and have some of the healthiest people in the world. What’s the difference? There are two main reasons. For one, these European countries eat socially. You’d be hard pressed to find someone eating alone. In eating socially, people also naturally slow down - this is the second reason. If you have trouble eating slowly, try eating with another person. The conversations you have make it easier to take breaks between bites, and think about the whole experience of eating, not just the food itself.

30 Minutes Outdoors To Clear Your Mind

Do you ever get brain fog? You know, that fuzzy-headed feeling where it’s hard to remember where you left your keys? When you’re feeling foggy, it can be hard to focus and make logical decisions. The good news is you can clear your mind by spending as little as 30 minutes outdoors. Why do you think it’s called “the great outdoors?” When you go outside, your body and mind undergo a physiological shift that provides a whole host of mind-clearing benefits.

Soak Up Some Sun

Going outside exposes you to the sun. If you were to take a 30 minute walk, or even sit outside in the sun, you may notice your mood improve. There’s a reason you feel so good. It turns out, the sun encourages your brain to release a healthy dose of your body’s natural happy chemical - serotonin. Higher levels of serotonin improves your brain's ability to think clearly. This hormone is also responsible for that relaxed feeling of love you get on a warm and sunny day. Even if it’s a cloudy day, many of the sun's rays still find a way down to your skin. As your body absorbs the sun’s ultraviolet light, it converts those rays into vitamin D. In just 30 minutes, your skin produces enough vitamin D to last you the whole day.

Embrace The Outdoor Experience

When you’re outside, you are seeing, smelling, hearing, and feeling a whole bunch of stimuli that are instinctually relaxing to human beings. Think about it - the human world, the one we built with skyscrapers, computers, subways and buses has only been around for about 0.0001% of the time human beings have inhabited the Earth. In evolutionary terms, that’s not a very long time to adapt to a new environment. The outdoors, on the other hand, has been around since the beginning of time. The experience you have outdoors is the one that’s built into your very DNA. Being outside is also one of those no-strings-attached activities. It’s free, simple, and doesn’t ask anything from you. This leads to a reduction in blood pressure, lowered cortisol levels, and reduced anxiety.

Surround Yourself With Green And Blue

Being outside is such a simple activity, and almost everyone has access to the outdoors in some way. Even if you live in the city center, a small park is usually just a few blocks away. It’s important to enjoy the nature of our planet. You could go somewhere with lots of greenery or a waterfront. Or maybe you prefer to reflect while staring at the clouds and sky. The important lesson here is that you take some time to relax your mind and appreciate the little things life has to offer. Next time you need to clear that brain fog, try using an ancient antidote and spend some time outside.

How to Stay Centered in Stressful Situations

Stress management is a lifelong practice. Whether it’s exercising, eating healthy, or learning to meditate, dealing with stress through a healthy lifestyle works wonders. What about those acute stressful moments though? It could be a fight with a spouse, a difficult conversation at work, backing up into another car, or any number of any “in-the-moment” stressful situations. Along with everyday stress management practices, here is a simple 3 step process you can use next time stress comes on suddenly.

Step 1: Take A Breath

You’ll hear this tip often when it comes to stress management advice, and that’s because it’s a good one. Breathing increases oxygen to the brain, while simultaneously reducing cortisol and raising serotonin levels. The simple act of breathing nourishes your mind, which helps put your brain into a chemically clearer state. Taking even a few deep breaths also gives your mind a moment to catch up with what is happening in your external environment. Acutely stressful situations can come on fast, so allow yourself to process what’s happening.

Step 2: Notice Your Body

When we get stressed, a few things tend to happen with our bodies as we enter into a “fight or flight” mode. At this time, you might find your heart racing, or your palms sweating. You might even feel a little shaky. That is because your body is producing adrenaline, which is normal and worth noticing.

As you feel your body, keep breathing deeply as you try to bring yourself back to a calmer state. Remind yourself with each breath that you are safe, strong, and capable. This is especially useful if you are in a verbal confrontation. Often times, stressful conversations move into hyperspeed, and both people involved don’t get a chance to take a step back. The few seconds you take to breathe and calm your body down also gives the other person a moment to consider the situation.


Step 3: Respond

By providing your body with relief, you have the opportunity to let that quieter, wiser voice in your head become audible again. During stressful situations, the primal fight or flight voice tends to yell from a place of fear, drowning out sense and reason. What is actually happening is that the amygdala (the ancient, fear-center of your brain) is taking over for the prefrontal cortex (the more developed, rational part of your brain). Although that part of your brain is trying to warn you to survive, it is not wise enough to know that you are safe. You are safe, and you are wise.

As your brains chemistry shifts back to normal, chances are you’ll hear a clear and calm response to the situation come up in your head. You’ll know when you hear it because it too will have a calming effect. Something like “I love my wife, and we will work through this, let me tell her that,” or “Okay, I need to write down this car’s license plate.” Start with that first rational action and go from there.

By responding in accordance to that wiser part of yourself, your body will continue to calm down. Try practicing this simple three step process next time unexepected stress pops up in your life.

Stress Less with This Simple, Easy Meditation

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Before you begin, find a comfortable position---seated in a chair, cross-legged, lying on your back---and a quiet-ish space (yes, your office bathroom stall counts).

Start by focusing on your breath.

We use the breath because it’s always with us, so we can do this anytime and anywhere. Focusing on your breath makes focusing your attention easier. Try it now.

Don’t worry if your mind wanders.

If you find yourself thinking about tonight’s cycling class or tomorrow’s deadline, don’t beat yourself up about it. Let the thoughts enter your mind then quietly leave. Don’t focus on them, but don’t try to force them away.

Gently return your focus to your breath.

Keep it going: Breathe and stay focused on that breath. Allow your mind and body to center, and then calmly, silently do it all again.

You can keep this practice going for one to 30 minutes, depending on your level of stress or need for balance. Next time you find yourself overwhelmed with all that life throws your way, return to this simple, daily meditation and find peace within.

Is There Power in Your Purpose? How to Bring More Meaning to Your Everyday

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1. Find your tribe and love the heck outta them.

Life is grand when you’ve got friends to go through it with? Somehow, with just a couple of trusty mates to confide in, lean on, complain to, and depend on, a bad date turns into a hilarious story, a scary new thing becomes your new favorite thing, and life starts to feel like it really makes sense. When you have people to share experiences with you’re more open to everyday opportunities, and to understanding how impactful your own love, trust, and loyalty can really be. Good friends will help keep you grounded.

2. Lend a helping hand.

No matter where you live, you’re part of a community -- an apartment building, a neighborhood, a school, a company. The more involved you become in your communities, the more empowered you’ll feel about your direction in life. Get out and help your fellow man, woman, neighbor, or colleague. Not only will you be supporting another person---which will always leave you feeling warm and fuzzy---you’ll be putting your own skills to the test and seeing just how purposeful you really are.

3. Stop worrying about things.

Remember when you were nothing without LA Gear light-up sneakers, Carrie Bradshaw’s Fendi Baguette or iPhone whatever or… The point is, things come and go (and come and go again and again). If you attach your happiness to a ‘thing,’ whether that’s a piece of fashion or a piece of technology, you’ll never find real fulfillment in the real world. Focus on valuable relationships and rich experiences instead of material things.

4. Prioritize what’s important.

You don’t have to know who you want to be when you grow up---*gulp* we’re still figuring that one out---to know what’s important to you right now. For some people it’s traveling the world, for others it’s building a home. Whatever it is you love---from cooking to gardening to singing karaoke realllly out of tune---make it a priority in your life. This way you’ll not only enjoy yourself but work towards honing a craft (yes, destroying the chorus to “Don’t Stop Believing” is a craft -- you heard it here first).

5. Be you!

Cliches aside, this is the best advice we can give for helping you feel powerful, purposeful, and meaningful in your everyday life. Authenticity is super-important to us and it should be to you. Being true to yourself is the fastest, easiest way to feel like you’re bringing value to the world. After all, there’s nobody out there like you. There’s a lot of meaning in that distinction: the you-ness of you. Don’t ever lose sight of that, and don’t ever forget to celebrate it.

3 Ways Meditation Can Improve Your Life Right Now (Yes, Right Now!)

When you think about it, 15 minutes a day isn’t a lot of time (that’s what we recommend for your daily Journey practice). In fact, 15 minutes is only 1% of your day. So how can it make such a big difference? Remember, big waves are generated by small ripples.

If you’re wondering what meditation has done, or could do, for you lately, look no further than these five benefits.

1.  Better communication with your loved ones and colleagues.

Next time your boss asks for the presentation a day earlier, meditation will be there to keep you calm and centered in the face of an all-nighter. With a meditation practice you can problem-solve like a rock star without losing precious time to stress and confusion. A quick, simple breathing exercise will clear your mind and open up your communication pathways.

2. More go with the flow.

We’ve all been there: the hotel lost your reservation or bad weather rained out your show. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, but it’s how you deal with the ups and downs that define who you are. Meditation provides you with the tools you need to stay balanced and flexible in situations that would otherwise drive you crazy.

3. Reconnect you with you.

In high school it felt like the clock moved backwards, like the end of 5th period would never come and you’d be trapped in an Algebra 2 black hole forever. But now that you’re an adult it’s like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Weeks, months, years fly by, and in the midst of it all you’ve got conference calls, boozy brunches and your mother nagging you about when you’ll finally settle down. But where are you in all of that chaos? Meditation not only helps you find yourself but it guides you to reconnect with your inner wants, desires, and values, whether time is standing still or flying by.

How Can A Company Cultivate Positive Employee Health? Enter: Meditation

Consider how much your company spends on health care and insurance every year. What if you could minimize those costs while deepening your commitment to every member of your team?

The benefits of meditation are multilayered, ranging from increased focus and elevated levels of productivity to positive emotions and a greater sense of well-being.

And they extend to nutrition. A literature review from UCLA found that people who meditate are more apt to make healthier, life-supporting decisions surrounding nutrition and eating. What that means for your employees is that meditation makes healthy living easier. What that means for your bottom line is that meditation helps to minimize health care and insurance costs. A win-win if we’ve ever seen one.

Maybe you already give your employees a gym membership or free training sessions, but how good are those physical interventions if the mind still needs adjustment? Research from the University of Paris Descartes states that the benefits of physical activity and exercise are enhanced with a meditation practice. There is a direct correlation between what’s happening in the mind and what’s going on in the body, and the sooner people can see and foster that connection, the happier and healthier (and more productive) they’ll be. 

Research also shows that meditation has a positive effect on our daily health behaviors. A study from UCLA shows that individuals who meditate sleep better at night. And what does longer, stronger sleep lead to? A happier, healthier person, someone excited by and committed to making the most of their everyday. (Don’t believe us? See what HuffPo wonder woman Arianna Huffington had to say about sleep in her latest book, The Sleep Revolution.)

This insight and research helps us understand the physiological benefits of meditation, both during and after. Cultivating good employee health starts by creating a trusted space for reflection and the calming aspects of mindfulness. Meditation is the path to guide you and your employees there.