See the three previous installments here.
Scientific benefits of meditation are becoming well-documented. But the image of sitting for hours on end, cross-legged on the floor, can be a barrier for some. Mindfulness is a well-documented form of meditation that has ancient roots in yoga and Buddhism. It encourages the mind to focus on the present moment and absorb the impact of whatever is there, without judging or trying to fix anything. And the cool thing is that it can be done in any environment in which you live your life. It’s the shift in mindset that creates the meditation.
For example, flowers blooming outside can be your object of focus. A short walk in your local park (or own garden) where you carefully notice the depth of colour, fragrance, insect activity, patterns of growth, even taste (if you are sure the plant is safe to eat!) is an exercise in meditation. The key is to focus deeply on the little details and continue to push away other distractions like cell phones or planning or conversation or working, etc….. Click here for more details on Mindfulness practices.
Take up Yoga
Summer is a great time to enjoy the holistic benefits of yoga. And you can bring your practice with you wherever you travel! All you’ll need is a yoga mat (a beach towel works in a pinch), a beach blanket and your smart phone or tablet (or go old school and bring a book). This video teaches the classic sun salutation, a series of 12 postures that provides a complete workout. Repeat the routine about 3 – 6 times to completely infuse the body with circulation, sunny energy and relaxation.
Give Kraft the boot
With all the amazing fresh produce we enjoy in summer, salads are the easiest and healthiest thing to make for supper. Prepared salad dressings, however, can add too much salt, sugar and processed fats to your otherwise perfect meal. And homemade is so easy!
Fresh Herb Vinaigrette: In a blender, combine ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 T raw honey, salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 cup washed and chopped herbs such as parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano, chives. A blend is best and small amounts of mint or thyme could also be included. Whirl completely until smooth and adjust seasoning. Keep refrigerated if there is any left over. The olive oil will harden in the fridge but liquefy at room temperature quite quickly.
Healthy Ceasar Dressing: Pour one cup boiling water over 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds and soak at least 30 minutes or longer. Add all contents to a blender along with 1 small clove peeled garlic, freshly squeezed juice of one lemon, 1 T quality parmesan shavings, 2 – 3 T extra virgin olive oil and salt/pepper to taste. Process until very smooth. Vegan option: substitute nutritional yeast for parmesan flakes.
This concludes the series on summer wellness. Just incorporating a few little changes each week can create big changes long term. The key to sustaining healthier habits is to go slow and make the activities ones you enjoy.