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Finding Peace in Chaos
August 2015
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Finding Sanctuary in Unexpected Places

 
Jaymie Meyer AHIC NashvilleOf all the places to experience the power of meditation, the Exhibit Hall at the annual meeting of America’s Health Insurance Plans (an industry trade group) would probably not be near the top of anyone’s list.
 
Yet there I was in Nashville this past June as a Stress Management Specialist for the Ornish Healthways Program for Reversing Heart Disease. At our booth, I would sit with strangers for just a precious few minutes and take them through a guided meditation on the breath. 
 
Meditation and breathing are an integral part of the Stress Management component of Dr. Ornish’s integrated lifestyle modification program, which also includes gentle movement, deep relaxation, and imagery. It’s also what I always start one-on-one yoga therapy sessions with. Why? It’s the easiest place to begin. We all know how to do it.
 
If you’re alive, you’re breathing – maybe not mindfully or to your fullest potential, but breathing.
 
Everyone can start with the breath. It’s the cornerstone of all practice and well-being. And because breath is the bridge between mind and body, it can change our physiology in a matter of seconds.
 
Still, I had my doubts that anyone could benefit in such a noisy environment as the Exhibit Hall. Distractions abounded in that busy, cavernous space…
 
Sun-Tzu chaos quote

 


Wage Peace


Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings
and flocks of redwing blackbirds.

Breathe in terrorists and breathe out sleeping children
and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen
and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.

Wage peace with your listening:
hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools:
flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.

Make soup.
Play music, learn the word for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.

Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Don't wait another minute.

                                                               
- Judyth Hill
 
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fractal stereogram

Creating Calm Even in Chaos

The bustle and buzz of a convention. The rush and chatter of an office. A wrestle of rivaling demands at home.
 
There are some situations in which it seems finding a moment’s relief, let alone calm, can seem impossible. But as I show in our latest blog post, if you have the tools, you can create respite anywhere you need, whenever you need.
       
One of those tools is simple self-awareness – and with it, mindfulness – so you can recognize the moments when you need to step back, let go and regroup; or when you need a quick recharge to help you continue successfully through your day.
 
The free 3-minute breath meditation mp3 I offer in this month’s post is one resource. And of course there are tons of great resources online with quick and easy tips for spurring relaxation. Here are just a few we recommend:
 
Fractal stereogram via 3dWonderStuff

 

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Summertime Refreshment: Almond Buster Delight

The long, slow days of summer are an invitation to step back and relax a bit. And when the days start to sizzle, there’s nothing nicer than to kick back with an icy treat.
 
Growing up, one of my favorites was Dairy Queen’s Peanut Buster Parfait – a concoction in a very tall cup that repeated layers of vanilla soft serve with hot fudge and Spanish peanuts. They still make these today, but it’s nothing I would want to put in my body.
 
According to CalorieCount.com, my beloved Peanut Buster Parfait clocks in at 730 calories and merits a nutrition grade of D+. It has 99 grams of carbs, 85 of them from sugar – more than 21 teaspoons! It has nearly half your day’s total fat allowance and almost all your saturated fat allowance.
        
Almond Buster Delight   
Yikes!

 
But from this horrifying realization came my own healthy version: the Almond Buster Delight. The almond butter it uses is a healthier choice than peanut, yet the resulting treat has all the flavors I grew up loving, plus frozen banana for body.


The key to making it thick and creamy? Add less liquid than you would for a smoothie. You can always add more if it’s too thick. I prefer no-calorie water, but you can also use almond milk if you like. Try making it yourself from our recipe here.


I sometimes also add an ice cube or two, which gives it a little crunch. (Ayurveda purists will want to skip that step. Iced foods put out the agni, or digestive fire.)
             
Ingredients
1 frozen banana, sliced
1/8 - 1/4 c. cold, filtered water (or unsweetened almond milk)
1 tbsp. unsweetened crunchy organic almond butter
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder or a 1” square of 70% or higher dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I like Valrhona Le Noir Extra Amer 85% Cocoa.)
 
Add all ingredients to a NutriBullet or blender, and blend for 10 to 15 seconds. Check consistency and add more liquid if desired. Spoon out and enjoy! Yields 3/4 cup.

          

 

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Images by Brian Maleszyk and Arlane Hunter, via Flickr
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