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Archive for the ‘Quick Reads’ Category

image-header_long-e1447711621383This morning during a writing exercise, I found myself reflecting upon how frustrated I feel when I don’t have enough time for my creative projects. How painful it feels to start — only to end before I’m ready. Zooming out, I suspect that sometimes I might even avoid creative work because I don’t want to experience this uncomfortable, unpleasant dynamic.

Suddenly, I remembered words of advice that I share every day: I encourage others to show up and “savor” their experiences with food. We practice inhaling delicious aromas, gazing at our food, exploring texture, and holding it in our mouths to fully absorb flavors. By doing so, we experience the richness of each bite, each meal. We allow ourselves to feel more fully satisfied – and to discern what we like, or don’t like, and how our bodies receive these gifts, so we can make adjustments in the future.

So often, I forget that I can practice savoring many moments of my day. With food, and during other activities. I do remember to “show up” for some of the good stuff – a walk beneath a beautiful, smoke-free blue sky, for example; doing so fills me and helps to buffer difficult parts of my day. However, for those activities that I especially love (writing, as an other example) but experience with scarcity, I become fused to the story “not enough, not enough”….and miss what is happening, what is possible, even in the moment.

Is there an activity or connection in your life for which you desperately long? Can you experiment with showing up – with intention and curiosity – to its next occurrence, to explore what is available to you, even in a few brief bites?

 

 

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13972775576_ac7b8af48c_bA few weeks ago, I began reading The Book of Awakening, by the poet and teacher Mark Nepo. From the September 23rd entry, he writes:

“There is no expected pace for inner learning. What we need to learn comes when we need it, no matter how old or young, no matter how many times we have to start over, no matter how many times we have to learn the same lesson. We fall down as many times as we need to, to learn how to fall and get up…We suffer our pain as often as is necessary for us to learn how to break and how to heal. No one really likes this, of course, but we deal with our dislike in the same way, again and again, until we learn what we need to know about the humility of acceptance….”

We fall down as many times as we need to, to learn how to fall and get up.

To be human, is to fall. “Everything looks like a failure in the middle,” I heard a TED talk speaker once state.

It’s how we respond to the falling, how kind (or unkind) we are to ourselves, whether we are willing to get up – sometimes again and again and again, that can make all the difference.

 

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Rainbow heart of fruits and vegetables

https://newfoodeconomy.org/culinary-meal-as-medicine-mindful-eating-trauma-anxiety-disorder/

A must-read article, which explores the notion that “food, and the very rituals of eating, could also have the power to heal afflictions of the mind.” Check out the following statements by Jeffrey Zurofsky, the culinary director of a treatment center in California, who also sits on an advisory board at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts:

“It’s not just that food can affect and change emotions…but that the entire act of eating, the physical process—farm to table in the most literal sense—can be analogous to the trauma healing process.

We talk about understanding of, and comprehension around, what is the true healing power of this food,” he says. “The ideas around the transformative power of not just food, but the table, and the context in which we enjoy our food, and the memories we create, and the social connections that we make in that experience—how powerful that is to heal us.”

Zurofsky even has a name for the approach: the meal as medicine.

 

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For 2018

Love After Love

The time will come

when, with elation,

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror,

and each will smile at the other’s welcome

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you have ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.

 

Derek Walcott, Collected Poems 1948-1984.

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Inspiration

Wise words, torn from a magazine and pinned to the bulletin board above my writing desk:

“My favorite sentence of all time is: You’re not defined by what happens to you, you’re defined by how you handle it.” 

Each moment contains infinite possibilities – how will we greet and navigate through this moment, and the next?

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Family Eating BreakfastIf you are interested in learning more about the Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training program as it was developed by Dr. Jean Kristeller, Ph.D., and perhaps want to check out her book or related resource, her website is worth a visit. The Emotional Eating Worksheet (at the very bottom of the page), in particular, could be a useful self-monitoring tool to learn more about the relationship between your emotions, stressful situations, and eating habits. If you use this form to gather information, however, remember to bring lots of self-compassionate “seasoning” to your experience!

As Dr. Kristeller reminds us, “mindfulness can help bring balance into every aspect of how we eat. It involves cultivating a combination of “inner wisdom” (awareness of how our body and mind are responding), and “outer wisdom” (engaging nutrition information and recommendations to meet your own personal needs and preferences)…”

Enjoy!

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2370002698764This past month, I’ve re-read “Heal Thy Self: Lessons on Mindfulness in Medicine,” by Saki Santorelli, Ed.D., the Executor Director of the UMASS Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society. Dr. Santorelli is a long-time MBSR practitioner and teacher,  and I would add poet and philosopher to his impressive list of credentials, after moving through his book for a second time. And truly, I was moved.

Narrative medicine has been described as a way for healthcare providers to “…reach and join their patients in illness, recognize their own personal journeys through medicine, acknowledge kinship with and duties toward other health care professionals, and inaugurate consequential discourse with the public about health care. By bridging the divides that separate physicians from patients, themselves, colleagues, and society, narrative medicine offers fresh opportunities for respectful, empathic, and nourishing medical care” (Charon, 2001).

In Heal Thy Self, this author thoughtfully enters into an intimate exploration of his own experiences, personal and professional (as Saki himself reminded us during an MBSR training, the two are not separable, as much as we might wish to demarcate a distinction), over the span of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course.

More than ever before, healthcare providers and their patients are engaged collaboratively in efforts to improve individual health and well-being. (more…)

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