Taking the time to clear our mind sharpens our focus and allows us to be fully present to experience the happiness in our daily lives — the small moments we miss when we are preoccupied. If you start thinking about work on Sunday afternoon your mind is not free to absorb the joy of spending time with family and friends. So, what can we do to be more mindful of the present and reduce the chatter in our heads?
Conscious breathing, which can be as simple as bringing our attention to the breath as it enters and leaves our bodies, is a wonderful way to bring ourselves back to our bodies and the present moment. By taking deep powerful breaths we calm the nervous system, cleanse the lungs and increase our feelings of well being. Meditation can help us to become quiet observers of our own thoughts and emotions. Getting outdoors and engaging all your senses by observing nature is another respite from incessant thinking.
One interesting technique is to touch the frame of every door through which you walk. Physically touching the doorframe brings awareness to the simple act of walking through a door and away from thoughts of past or future. If you spend most of your days living “inside your head” try this exercise — it’s harder than it sounds!
Changing our thought patterns requires effort and practice but the rewards are great. We can say to ourselves, “I am going to enjoy this moment with my child and not think about work right now.” Breathing, meditation and nature are all tools that can help us take a break from our racing thoughts, restoring us and helping us to be more present.
Food Focus: Spring’s Bitter Greens
Spring is on the horizon and by gradually changing the foods we eat, we can help our bodies make a smoother transition from the cold of winter to the moisture and dampness of spring.
Bitter greens provide us with a natural way to cleanse and detoxify our bodies after a winter of eating heavy, warming foods. Greens like radicchio, arugula, chicory, endive (a relative of chicory), dandelion greens, cabbage and other wild greens are foods to increasingly favor as we move into the warmer season.
Spring greens clear excess mucus produced to combat winter dryness and cleanse and purify the liver and gallbladder. In addition to supplying us with an abundance of vitamins and minerals, greens contain chlorophyll, the substance responsible for their green hue.
Chlorophyll is a powerful internal cleanser that facilitates our body’s own “spring cleaning.” Other sources of chlorophyll are the micro algae (spirulina, chlorella and wild blue-green), which are available in powders and tablets, and wheat grass, which can be juiced.
The new season offers a great opportunity to experiment with some of these greens that may be unfamiliar to you. Dandelion greens are delicious sautéed and served on top of polenta or try the Belgian endive salad below. Whatever you choose, enjoy the renewal and freshness of spring inside as well as out.
Recipe of the Month
Belgian Endive Salad
Cut 3 or 4 Belgian endives into thin strips.
Mix with watercress leaves and some finely sliced apple or pear.
If desired, add some walnuts and blue cheese.
Make a dressing by whisking together:
1 Tbsp mustard
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp raw honey
2 pinches of sea salt
Pour the dressing over salad and enjoy immediately.
Recipe by Elbrich Fennema, Ode Magazine, volume 6 issue 2