Mindful Meals

The people you eat your meals with are just as important as the food you feed your body.  Being mindful of healthy foods is the first step, but being aware of who you are eating your meals with and where you eat, is just as important as the food you put into your body.

It’s during meal time that we can practice mindful eating.  When was the last time you actually tasted, smelled, or enjoyed your food?  We get so busy that its easy to just rush through a meal without even tasting it.

Next time you sit down to eat, look at the food that you are eating, look at the colors and textures, smell the aroma and take mindful bites.  Chew your food slowly and consciously, and finally enjoy the company you are eating with.  Surround yourself with healthy and happy people, as they aid in good digestion.

Eating not only nourishes our bodies, but it nourishes the soul.

Bon appetite!

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The Art of Detachment

I recently had the experience of watching Tibetan Monks create a beautiful mandala out of colored sand.  The Mandala is a symbol of the universe, created in a circular shape to represent universal connection.

After creating the mandala for several days or weeks, the monks mindfully and meticulously wipe the sand away, representing detachment as the lesson.

In life, we are continually faced with letting go, whether it be to a job, a relationship, or an unresolved issue or problem.  By holding on, the Tibetan concept is that we suffer, and suffering causes pain.

Unless practiced, detachment can be a difficult thing to do.  Think of something in your life that you can say goodbye to, let go of, or detach from.  What are you holding onto that is causing you pain, creating suffering or preventing you from truly being happy?

The art of detachment begins with acknowledgment of what is causing suffering, then making the conscious choice to release and let go.  Impermanence is a fact of life.  Today embrace what brings you joy and happiness, as no one is guaranteed tomorrow.  Through the art of detachment, we can free ourselves from unhealthy suffering and be in the present moment, a beautiful lesson from Tibetan teachings.

The Spiritual Path

After a long transition, I felt the call to quiet contemplation and spiritual direction and found myself driving to St. Anthony’s Spiritual Sanctuary, a Franciscan retreat center in rural Wisconsin.

I had no plans, other than to spend a day in silent prayer and mindful walking but shortly after I arrived, I met with the Reverend and spent some time talking to him about life transitions and spiritual practice.  I then roamed the Sanctuary and was mesmerized by the long hallways that hundreds of young men had walked before me as they prepared for a lifetime devoted to spiritual practice.

Sometimes we feel we have to journey far to find a retreat or place of solitude, but the sanctuary is closer than we think.  The silence, the serenity, and tranquility that we seek is within each of us.  Our spiritual journey is visible when we clear the weeds from our minds and step intentionally onto the path that we were given.  Sometimes the road leads us in a different direction than where we intended to go, but that is when we need to trust that we are being guided and that the new path will be smoother, lighter and brighter than the path that we chose for ourselves.

In life, sometimes we choose a path, and sometimes the path is chosen for us.

 

Sin City Mindfulness

Las Vegas is probably the last place where you would expect to experience mindfulness, but it is actually the perfect place to spend three bliss filled days of silence, inner quiet and peace.

I recently returned from an advanced mindfulness certification workshop where I spent my days going within, while the world outside was filled with chaos, honking horns, and swarms of people.  I found myself being able to center and ground myself from the days spent in meditation, mindful walking, and joyful practices when I walked outside onto the city streets and joined the madness of life, but I did not get pulled outside of my now present state of being as I had discovered an anchor.

On the rooftop of the Platinum Hotel, I practiced mindful walking, noticing the autumn breeze, the tiny feathers floating in the swimming pool, and the jet airplane that soared in the sky above.  The world as I knew it had come to a standstill and the stillness that I entered within, was a place of peace that I had never experienced before.

Now I find myself practicing moments of mindfulness throughout the day, walking, sitting and sipping tea.  Life is forever changed.

Mental Decluttering

I began the process of decluttering my life through the release of my collection of numerous worthless items during a recent relocation and sent them off to Goodwill for other collectors to enjoy.

During the process of simplifying my life and working towards my goal of minimalism, I realized that the material clutter was only part of the problem.  The real issue was going to be decluttering my mind and thinking process. As a thinker by nature, I realized that I could empty my house, but my head was still full of clutter, so I began a Zen practice and through sitting and walking meditation, I became aware that I carried too much mental baggage.

Although both processes of internal and external decluttering can be difficult, the biggest challenge is to change our thinking patterns. It is easy to dwell on the negative or to stay in a thinking loop that takes you nowhere.  I decided to get off that train, and now as I continue releasing my material items, I work on releasing stinking thinking, and other excessive thoughts that have kept my mind from having clarity.

Simplifying your life begins with the therapeutic process of both internal and external purging.  Both are necessary if you are to live an authentic minimal life, otherwise, it’s like cleaning out the basement but leaving the attic full of junk.