Posted on June 1st, 2012 by in Nutrition

Nutrition Notes: Sprouts for Spring

The world awakens earlier, and life sprouts all around us now. Accept spring’s invitation to lighten up by cleaning out your pantry, your fridge, and your eating habits. Choosing the season’s young greens will give you the nutrient density (a high concentration of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, per calorie) to make the most of the lengthening days, and allow you to feel the energy of fresh local food.

Reconnecting with raw foods this season ensures that you get the most phytonutrition to keep your body’s systems operating properly. Phytonutrients have a wide variety of benefits, from cardioprotection, to antivirals, to antibacterials, and more. Cooking and processing often decreases phytonutrient activity, so having some raw fruits and vegetables in your diet ensures their phytonutrient potency.

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Posted on May 31st, 2012 by in Nutrition

Would You Eat Test Tube Meat?

It’s coming.

No matter which side of the go-vegetarian debate you’re on, there’s no arguing that the current methods of animal farming are wholly unsustainable. Animal farming currently takes up nearly a third of the earth’s land mass, the widespread mistreatment of animals has been widely reported, and meat production is extremely inefficient. Meanwhile, researchers predict that demand for meat will double over the next 40 years. We want burgers—currently to the tune of $74 billion a year.

Which is why a group of Dutch scientists has spent years developing lab-grown meat, which they recently announced will be ready for an initial taste test by the end of the year. Using bovine fetal cells cultured like bacteria, grown in a vat, and mixed with lab-grown animal fat, the scientists are working to create test tube burgers, sausages, and more, with plans to expand to dairy and other animal products later. Though the associated costs are currently high, the hope is that eventually the technology will feed more people more efficiently—while also reducing environmental, cruelty, and illness issues related to farming—and it’s so far gotten support from several avenues, including private donors and PETA. But do we really want to eat test tube meat?

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Posted on May 29th, 2012 by in Meditation

Awakening the Senses Meditation

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. –John Burroughs

This is a wonderful practice for spring! Remain receptive as you allow your senses to blossom.

Receive sound. Go outside. Stand or sit, and close your eyes. Touch your ears: feel the wrinkles and folds of the ears, lobes. Become aware of the ear canals, inner ears. Let sounds come to you. Allow your hearing to be soft, spacious, and open. Not needing to identify any sounds, let them make their way into your awareness as they will. Birds, insects, automobiles, an airplane high above, rustling grass, people talking. Welcome everything in.

Receive sight. Touch your eyes: feel your eyelids, eyelashes, surface of the eyes, centers of the eyes, eye sockets. Allow your eyes to open and remain soft. View the world with your peripheral vision. Like a deer or a butterfly, remain sensitive and open to the world around you, taking in all the colors, light, and shadow, form and texture. Not focusing on any particular thing, allow the world to seep into your eyes.

Flow with your rhythm. Begin to walk. Stroll aimlessly, following an inner rhythm without trying to get anywhere.

Receive fragrance. Begin to notice scent in the air, the fragrances surrounding you. Without needing to identify scents, and without needing to label them as “good” or “bad”, “pleasant” or “unpleasant”, be guided by your nose. Imagine you are a dog with a large nose who is guided only by scent. You may like to get closer to things to receive their fragrance more fully.

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Posted on May 28th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

Life Lessons: Spring Into Connections

Coming out of winter’s cold, the earth thaws and so do we. Winter naturally keeps us introspective. Spring, on the other hand, brings out our natural ability to connect and communicate with others.

Here is a simple and elegant system of conscious communication called co-listening, which supports both speaker and listener in clearer, deeper, more connected exchanges. In this model, one person agrees to be the speaker, the other, the listener. For three minutes the speaker simply speaks, expressing his/her feelings, thoughts, and ideas. The listener as the witness remains in silence. When the three minutes are up—use an egg timer or alarm—shift roles. Repeat this for two or three rounds as needed. Regularly used, new depth can be established.

Freedom is offered to both participants. Without comments from another, even well-intended ones, a speaker opens into a fuller range of expression. The listener is freed up to be present, rather than calculating a response. By practicing being present in the moment during communication, deeper connectivity can be reached.

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Posted on May 27th, 2012 by in Moment of Quiet

Moment of Quiet

Every Sunday we provide a space for quiet, calm, and peaceful introspection. Enjoy this week’s Moment of Quiet brought to us by Colors in Motion.

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Posted on May 26th, 2012 by in Meditation

Going Within to Let go

Anxious? Tense? Worried? Meditation is simple tool for self-care that can be done anywhere and anytime to de-stress, and with practice, you can reboot and find inner calm in just a few minutes. A main component of any meditation practice is focusing your attention. By creating a single point of focus, such as the breath, the multitude of distractions that overload your mind and cause stress can be cleared away. Meditation allows your mind to settle and your body to relax, creating a balanced state that benefits overall health and well-being.

Ready to try it? Find a quiet place to practice where you are free of distractions. Get comfortable, whether you’re sitting, lying down, or walking. Begin to breathe deeply through your nostrils, taking slow and even breaths. Focus all of your attention on the flow of your breath. Bring your awareness to the feelings, sensations, and sounds that occur as you inhale and exhale. Continue to breathe deeply and slowly. When your attention wanders, gently return your focus to your breath. Remember, meditation takes practice, so be kind to yourself. It’s natural for your attention to wander. When this happens, simply refocus your awareness on your breath.

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Posted on May 25th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Foodie Friday: Ahimsa in Action

This past weekend, on a visit to my soon-to-be mother-in-law’s house, I was remembering my first few years as a newly converted natural foodie. I was about 19 and heavily into macrobiotics. In those days (the mid-1980s), macrobiotics focused on a very simple diet primarily of brown rice, cooked vegetables, beans, and seaweed. Dairy in all its forms was completely out, as was any sugar–except that we were still using brown rice syrup and barley malt as our “binge foods.” Meat was off the menu too, except for the very rare occasion of having some fish.

Imagine my poor mother that first year I came home for Thanksgiving after leaving the nest now in what I lovingly remember as my “macro-neurotic” state.

There I was: refusing the turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy while asking to have the stuffing made with whole-grain bread and saying things like, “Mom, don’t kill me by putting butter or turkey stock in the stuffing! I won’t eat it!”

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Posted on May 23rd, 2012 by in Yoga

A Religious Experience

In yoga, one writer reconnects with the notion of faith.

Like most kids in my middle-class New England town, I was raised Catholic, though in my case it was something of a default option. My parents had both been brought up in religious households but, by the time I came along, they were largely non-practicing. My mother’s strict Irish-Catholic family—so devout (or stubborn) that they refused to acknowledge her secular college education—turned her away from the church, and my father, a journalist, had been trained to follow facts, not faith. While they wanted the decision of religion to be mine, they also sought to provide me with a base from which to explore, a base that would include Baptism, Confirmation, and 10 years of weekly after-school Catholic-education classes.

But while I made all the milestones, I neither connected with nor opposed their meanings. My given religion was never something to think about; it just was. Later, as a teenager, church on Sunday remained important to me mainly because to my parents it was not. (What a rebel, right?) But it wasn’t as if my friends were so pious: The annual Christmas-eve midnight mass was as much about socializing as it was about celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Throughout, no one I knew questioned what we’d been taught. We took the word of our teachers, and our priests, on “faith.” In those early years, “faith” meant believing that if you were a good person, good would surround you; that if you treated others well, you would be treated well in return; that if you followed the Catholic doctrine, you would be rewarded with peace while you lived and after you died. Faith, for the most part, did not include questioning authority. And, for a long time, I didn’t.

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