Wellness

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. 

How Emotions Inspire Our Perspectives of the World

Our emotions affect how we perceive the world around us. How someone feels emotionally will influence the meaning we pull from different sensations, as well as past experiences and knowledge. This provides the power to reshape our perspectives by understanding the emotions within us.

To see how people are working to understand their emotions, we reached out to:

  • Dre, Customer Experience Ninja

  • Dadry, Creative Freelancer

  • Corri, Filmmaker

Here’s what they had to say about understanding your emotions. It all begins with emotional balance.

Understanding Emotional Balance

When we asked, what does being “emotionally balanced” mean to you, a common thread is to allow yourself to feel your emotions as they come and go, while “dealing with them in real time”. Dre highlights the importance of not letting yourself “become overly consumed with what may come and not judge yourself for feeling how you do.”

For Corri it means, “making a choice to take time for yourself and not allowing the fast pace of life to control your inner peace. Try creating a routine to keep this balance intact, such as making the bed, stretching, and taking a few moments to meditate. Find moments in the day to be grateful for your path and the world around you” - even the parts of life you can’t control.

Search For Perspective

The next question we asked is: How do you regulate your emotions when you’re feeling down or life feels out-of-control?

Taking a step back can help you put things into perspective. Dadry suggests, “slowing down and taking in the world around you. Cleaning is one way to physically fix the chaos around you. It’s about finding something new and calming to take your mind off the stress of it all.”

After taking a moment to breath deeply, Corri says, “I consider the consequences of my reactions. Do I spiral out of control or remain calm and think logically about the situation? I usually choose the latter. If I feel extremely emotionally charged and feel the need to express myself I try to do so as honestly and calmly as possible.”

Accept Your Emotions

Our final question is: What advice do you have for people who have trouble controlling their emotions, both in their own minds and when expressing emotions to others?

Dre suggests, “My advice to people who have trouble controlling their emotions would be to accept what comes. Don't avoid or try to suppress anything that might come up because it will come back to the surface eventually. Take a moment to positively respond to what you are going through instead of reacting immediately. Many times we react without thinking and it tends to not be the best plan of action.”

Dadry encourages you to “find a way to filter the mess. Music, art, exercise; any activity that is expressive - even something as simple as talking it out. Usually a stressful situation is one where there isn’t a firm sight of clarity. Talking to someone who is on the outside looking in might be exactly what you need.”

Corri often asks, “Who are your emotions affecting? When we become irrational we are not lucid. So you can not clearly convey your emotions and express your truest desires. In one’s own mind I would think about what is creating any distress? What’s the source? Can you control it or is it out of your control? You cannot allow things that are out of your control to disturb your peace. Take a few moments to breath and think about how much power you want to allow others or a situation to have over you. What outcome will expressing your emotions have?”

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.

This is Your Brain on Meditation. Any Questions?

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The human brain is an incredible thing. It has tons of memory capacity, can multitask with the best of ‘em, and has the power to transform the way people see the world.

Smartphones are great and all, but technology ain’t got nothin’ on your brain!

However, just because your head is packed with a well-oiled cerebral machine, doesn’t mean it won’t need a little jumpstart every now and then. That’s where meditation comes in. During and after meditation you probably notice a difference in how you feel. But do you know what’s happening in your head to make you feel that strong and clear?

Allow us (and science) to explain.

Reduced stress and anxiety.

Researchers affiliated with Harvard University found that people who meditated for just eight weeks were able to quiet the amygdala, the part of the brain that triggers fear. A study led by the smart cookies at Harvard also found that meditation led to decreased gray matter density in the amygdala, and that participants reported reductions in stress. Proof that meditation will help you stay sane next time your mother-in-law shows up for an unannounced visit.

Increased concentration and focus.

In a recent study, Harvard researchers found that meditation can literally change your brain, including the part associated with attention. A study team at Texas Tech University also found that after just 11 hours of meditation, participants had structural changes in the part of the brain tied to focus. See, shutting off your brain for a little bit actually makes it run better. If only you could go back and use that line with your 6th grade teacher!

Increased compassion and empathy.

More Harvard researchers again, this time they found that MRI scans of meditators showed a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and empathy. Further to that point, some brainiacs in Sweden discovered that meditation is accompanied by activation in brain areas involved with empathy as well as with happy and pleasant feelings. So, meditation thus far makes you calmer, more efficient, and happier. Meditators: 3. Everyone else: 0.

Improved performance and productivity.

Switchin’ it up here with a UCLA study that found meditators showed significantly larger volumes of the right hippocampus, which accounts for a meditator’s ability to cultivate positive emotions and retain emotional stability. Get this: Brain scans of meditators show a shift in activation and gray matter density from the areas of the brain associated with negative emotions like stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction to the areas associated with positive emotions like happiness and contentment.

Well, according to this research from some of the top medical schools around the world, meditation makes people less stressed, more focused, happy, and productive. Can your phone do that for you?

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.

Creating Space and Possibility: Response v. Reaction

We all do it all the time: react without thinking. It’s instinctive, and it can be really harmful in a close-knit environment like an fast-paced office.

How many times have you reacted in a way you later regretted?

All too often we let our ego and bodily sensations take over. Meditation slows people down (in a good way!), creating space for each individual to choose a response instead of engaging in an instinctive reaction.

With these tools in place, your employees won’t feel bound to the typical rollercoaster of emotions next time there’s a creative disagreement or HR emergency. Instead, they’ll be able to assess the situation with a clear head, problem-solving for a positive result versus wading in waters of fear.

When people respond to events they stay in their power, when they react they give that power away.

Journey Meditation is here to make your team stronger, happier, and more powerful.

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.

5 Common Misconceptions About Meditation (What Do You Believe?)

When you hear the word ‘meditation,’ what do you think of?

A tunic-wearing dude with a man-bun sitting peacefully on a hill in some far-off land?

A tall and trim blonde in designer gear with a $13 green juice in-hand?

Things that are new and different often seem strange and unwelcoming. But what if you put your preconceived notions to the side and opened yourself up to opportunity? You do it every time you forgive a friend or try a new food (remember when you thought you hated Brussel sprouts?). So why not do it with a powerful practice that can transform your mind, body, and spirit? (Yeah, it’s that good!)

There are a lot of misconceptions about meditation. Here are five of the most common.

1. Meditation is hard to do.

Got yourself? Check. Got a couple minutes? Then you’re ready to meditate! That’s right, all you need is yourself and a little time. Forget exotic lands, beachside cliffs and veggie drinks that cost half your rent. Meditation is about you, not your outfit, location or social status. So long as you’ve got you, you’ve got the skills to meditate.

2. Meditation is a religious practice.

Sure, there are people who use meditation to deepen their religious or spiritual commitments, however, many techniques (including our Journey Meditation practice) are non-denominational. Practicing meditation won’t make you a Buddhist, Scientologist or anything else, but it will give you clarity on who you do want to become as a person in this world.

3. It takes years to see results.

Meditation isn’t like preparing for the Olympics: it doesn’t take years of work to get in shape. Your mind is flexible, like a rubberband, and it responds quickly to mental workouts. Just one five-minute meditation practice can help you feel calmer, grounded, and more focused. If just a few minutes can do all of that, imagine the benefits of meditating everyday!

4. Meditation takes too much time.

A little bit of meditation can go a long way. If you don’t have 20 minutes, 15 will do just fine. If you don’t have 15 minutes, try getting in a quick ten. And if that’s still too much, take five minutes at the beginning or end of your day to just sit with yourself. Try this simple, easy Journey meditation, which only takes ten minutes, and see what you can accomplish in the time it takes to make your bed. [LINK TO A MEDITATION]

5. Meditation is the same as relaxing.

Meditation is an active practice. When you relax you turn off your mind, but when you meditate you focus your mind, typically on your breath. Meditation is a great way to tame those endless thoughts [LINK TO TRAINING THE MONKEY MIND]---like why does my dad still nag me about becoming a lawyer or how many times is my boss going to use the word ‘literally’ in today’s meeting---and that requires more effort than just hanging out.

Are there any meditation myths you believe? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

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.