Raised in an anxiety-ridden home, it was stressful to live in the “now.” Far better to prepare for “what’s next,” I thought, even with its own undercurrent of anxiety.
A friend recently invited me to a year-long meditation but the voluminous information and instant marketing hype quickly drove me away. Unsettling. Like when I attempted meditation years ago in the standard seated position. Arduous. As soaking in a tub. Has this happened to you? Meditation offers many benefits but feeling stressed is not the goal.
Far more agreeable to me, are movement meditations such as hand drumming, walking, or being in the moment with Mother Nature. Fixed on berry picking, the smell of sun-ripening tomatoes and basil brushing my arm, or the infinite colors and textures of nature are far more relaxing and in-the-moment experiences for me.
One size doesn’t fit all. In many things, but meditation too. Giving myself permission to discover what works for me is key. Don’t know where to begin? Try leaving the cell phone behind and taking a walk outside. You may be pleasantly surprised by the calm in connecting with Mother Nature.
It’s been a relatively long winter. Of course, I always feel that way after half a year of Northeast cold and grey. And although Spring appeared on the calendar a month ago, it waits until about now to dazzle me with her show. Each day the bleeding hearts rise taller and taller, and more garlic greens dart through the earth, the scintillation sets my soul ablaze.
Kindling the grey winter landscape aglow in green, Spring wondrously ignites death with life. Saucer magnoliasspark purple blooms, smoky lavender clouds flicker above eastern red buds, and delicate pink weeping cherry blossoms shimmer in the wind while the glowing white flowering pearexplodes in the sky. Like yellow-suited firefighters, showy forsythias arrive first on the scene. Dwarf blue iris, orange-eyed daffodils and red tulips are next responders.
Intoxicated with Spring’s opulent beauty of textures, shapes and hues, I am mesmerized by the magic appearing before my eyes. And so grateful I have eyes to see.
I made this salad for lunch. Well, actually Mother Nature made it for me, I simply chose to partake of her delectable edibles that nourish me in boundless ways when I choose to look her way.
Convenience or Necessity — Which is it and What Matters Most?
Too often, I grabbed a bag or box of processed food because I thought it was quicker, easier. But, digging deeper I asked what am I trading off for this “convenience”? Being sold on “convenience,” I’ve found is often a cover up for something that is actually not so healthy like the increased health risks from Fitbit or extended cell phone use.
At one time I bought into the “fast” food trap, thinking it would save me time in meal prep. But when I noticed the long drive-through lines and realized I could prepare a steak, vegetable and salad within 20 minutes — AND relax at my table to consume it, rather than behind the steering wheel at a red light — I began to change my ways. It didn’t make sense to be handed a bag of virtually dead food tainted with GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and any other nasty ingredient that deteriorates good health when I could choose more wholesome and satisfying real “food.”
Thinking Behind the Goods
My thinking was lazy. Naively trusting big business and government I thought if products are allowed on the market they must be safe, right? Right. When the money trail of lobbyists controlling government, health and essentially our lives uncovered that fallacy, my thinking turned circumspect.
Taking Time for All of You
There’s truth in the time-tested saying, “If you don’t have your good health, you don’t have anything.” I had to decide what’s more important — rushing to a class or making a deadline by quickly eating bad food, or nourishing body, mind and spirit through Mother Nature’s generous offerings for vitality and vigor? The answer seems obvious, but those “self-imposed” time constraints often get in the way.
Think you’re too busy to grocery shop for fresh produce? To rinse the spinach, red oak lettuce and red raspberries? Not enough time to chop some red bell pepper, and slice golden beets to roast? Too overloaded you say to whisk some strawberry balsamic vinegar with light olive oil while toasting the pecans…then dabbing some Chevre cheese on top and adorning with dried tart cherries? Think again. The benefits exceed the eye.
Creating a salad like this satisfies more than the belly, while a box or bag of processed food harms it. (No coincidence that shelves are flooded with probiotics and OTC remedies for stomach distress these days.) Rampant busyness robs downtime, a necessity for mind and body regeneration.
Still think you don’t have time to support your well-being?
This salad is loaded with fiber, antioxidants, protein, and nutrients through vitamins and minerals like A, B6, boron, C, calcium, copper, E, folate, folic acid, iron, K, lycopene, manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, quercitin, riboflavin, selenium, thiamine, and zinc.
Additionally, pecans which are high in healthy unsaturated fat, help lower “bad” cholesterol. Golden beets also lower cholesterol and blood pressure, decrease heart disease risk, help prevent various cancers, and cleanse the kidneys. Tart cherries contain melatonin and tryptophan which can promote better sleep. Goat cheese offers anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and contains healthy fats, including medium-chain fatty acids that can improve satiety and benefit weight loss. These are only some of the “physical” benefits.
Selecting ingredients I thought would work together tapped into my creativity, while preparing the produce was an in-the-moment meditative experience. How divine to then taste each layer of color, flavor and texture. Raspberries and cheese melting in my mouth under the ying-yang, sweet-tart balsamic dressing and crunch of spinach and roasted pecans was far more pleasing — and nutritious too — than any bag of processed whatever I could pick-up. Mother Nature endows us with her riches. It’s simply up to us to accept the gift.
Mother Nature’s beauty often leaves me speechless. When you see some of the fascinating images by landscape photographer Greg Large you may feel the same way too. View Greg’s work via The Vigorous Beauty Of Trees in the Edge of Humanity Magazine. They are too beautiful to not pass along for your viewing pleasure too.
“To be still, get still,” popped into my head while feeling dizzily over-stimulated from noisy store crowds, parties, and meandering traffic this week. The holidays can drain anyone and especially with technology’s hastened pace and constant bombardment.
For many years I’ve chosen to celebrate the holidays through the beauty of the land. Whether it’s gathering aromatic pine boughs on the morning of Christmas Eve or breathlessly climbing a steep slope of evergreens to gain fresh perspective on New Year’s Day — intimately connecting with Mother Nature is my holiday spirit. It is the quiet, the crunch of my boots in the snow, the sun warming my face, and breathing in fresh pine, that speaks to me deep within. Glowing candlelight and a poinsettia paint the mellow ambience I love. Add in laughter, healthy food and hand drumming with friends, and voila’; I’ve created a non-traditional holiday out of love, not stressful obligation. And as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), I want for nothing more.
This year, I’ve received wise words from unexpected sources — women I’ve never met but with whom I share a Nature-focused spiritual path:
Particularly comforting in the midst of losing so many trees to pipeline construction are the words of a Yoruba priest: “Nature is resilient. The trees will come and go – some naturally and some by the needs and destructiveness of man. Don’t cry for the trees. They have served their purpose and they have planted their seeds. They have helped those of the earth in many ways – the humans, the animals, the air, the soil, and other nature beings. Their spirit is resilient and they will be reborn in other forms and once again, serve their purpose. Perhaps one of them lies in you. This is the nature of life.”
Find a pine cone and place it in front of you. Gaze at the pinecone for a full minute, then close your eyes and imagine the pinecone-shape behind your third eye. Envision the scales of the pinecone unfolding and opening to take in nourishment from Divine Light, and see your pinecone-shaped pineal gland energized and radiant. In this space, consider all the benefits of pine medicine and imagine this energy as a white light healing your mind, body, and spirit.
The wisdom of the land is why I love it so.It teaches me about living life.