Thursday, May 29, 2014

R & R

Re-treat:  the act of withdrawing or moving back.   It is absolutely necessary for us as human beings if given the opportunity to give ourselves the gift of going inward or retreating.   Just like a bear hiberantes during the winter, and is ready for spring with full energy, we too as human beings need to give ourselves that time to reflect, renew and rest.  This past weekend I had a wonderful opportunity of spending time at a retreat.   This was my time for centering, reflection, silence, and reconnecting for me with the Divine.  Ironically i did not pick up my journal during these three/four days.  I wanted to be immersed in things and just allow myself to fully be present without reflection.   As a side note,  a retreat does not always need to be spiritually based - if that is not your inclination, but for me it consists of reconnecting with the divine energy.  In fact, one of the realizations I had was that sometimes, instead of actually going away physically, the weekends are a form of retreat from normalcy and that i must make a commitment with myself to give time every couple of months of going inward - it doesn' t have to be expensive, it can be in the comfort of my own home - but i create the space and time for it. 
There were several messages that came to me that i have been pondering over the last couple of months - and little did i know that i would get some answers.   One is that of my true purpose in life - i used to think that my career is equivalent to defining what my true purpose in life was - i used to believe that if i have chosen this career path then i must be living in alignment with my true purpose.   But over time, I have come to see that my job is not necessarily my true calling - it is simply a means to making an income -and while it is important to enjoy where we work, we don't necessarily need to identify that as our true calling. 
Taking it one step further, I needed to ask myself that question - who am I? What makes me? What is it that gives me joy? What is it that gives me a sense of purpose? Where do i find true happiness?  What is it that drives me -that gives me passion?  What are my ideals? Asking myself these questions helps me live in accordance with my true purpose - and so regardless of where i may work, i must not forget what it is that drives me and gives meaning to my reason for living.   And ironically, one of the main themes of the retreat was recognizing your true purpose - that being born as a human being is truly a gift and we must not let it to waste - and must use our time wisely.  

I leave you with two journal prompt that I have used over and over again;

1.I give myself a retreat in order to_________________________
2. close your eyes and picture your ideal retreat setting.  Where are you? What is the natural setting? by the ocean? in the woods? Mountains? Who are you with?  What are you doing?  Visualize it. Take a couple of minutes to see yourself there.   Now write for about 5 minutes nonstop.

Happy Journaling!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mind over Matter

Food - a big necessity in life but also a need. So much of what we eat is dictated by emotional eating.  If we are upset, we look to food like chocolate, sweets, chips, to make us feel good for that one moment or that one hour.  If we are anxious, we may decide to go on a binge of eating our favorite choices.  If we are angry, we may deprive ourselves of food or do the opposite. And lets not forget drinking - we think it is a necessity, but it isn't - it is something we choose to do because of how it makes us feel.  

There comes a point in someone's life where they are forced to begin making wholesome choices about the types of foods they put in their bodies.  Unfortunately for most of us it ends up being becuase of a medical condition and we have no choice.  And then we have no alternative but to make decisions because of our health.  We end up resenting that and thus begin an unhealthy relationship wtih food.   It doesn't have to get to that point.   If you are one of those where you feel you are being deprived of certain things - reflect on what does healthy mean to you?

I strongly recommend a Food Log or Journal where you note down what you eat, the time you eat, and how you felt after eating that particular food.  It not only helps keep track of the kinds of food your are consuming - i.e. is it all carbs, is it all protein, is it more sweets, or is it just snacking? but it also develops a practice of understanding your patterns better.   Keeping track of your food consumption gives you an inside look into what you tend to gravitate to more.  For me, in doing so - i know my weakness is carbs.  I choose to use the journal as a way of exploring why more carbs.  What does eating more carbs do for me rather than eating a well balanced meal. 

Mindfulness and eating go hand in hand.   Last week,  Chef Rama from Wannabee chef put together a beautiful "mommy and me tea " at the spiritual center I attend in honor of mother's day.   The kids were in for a surprise.  She brought baby spinach, red peppers, cucmbers, and had the kids as young as four years old cut up the veggies-teaching them the art of enjoying what they make.  There were comments from children who were not very comfortable eating red peppers including my son.  But he cut, and what they ended up making were spinach tortilla wraps - it was a beautful spread.   Each of them had to have a bite - as Chef Rama put it - "they tried it, that's what mattered" and that's how we begin to have healthy relationships with food - by making it fun.  There was an element of fun involved in that but it also got me thinking - why is that that we move away so far from the things that are so good for us - why do we gravitate towards things that are toxic in nature like soda, like sweets, or rathe sugar, and wheat.   We grow up in a culture that supports it and endorses it .   And if our children are being consumed with it through advertisements in tv, or at school or when they go to the supermarkets, it makes it more and more difficult to make wholesome choices.   But it also made me once again see that these choices start from childhood.  And once we have reached adulthood, changing these deeprooted habits is a constant challenge.   But it is not a challenge that can't be accomplished.   It is about making choices - and ultimately choices that will eventually lead us making us feel good about ourselves.  

This week, my colleages and I, as well as my husband have gone on what I would say a full cleanse - It is a seven week cleanse which involves flushing out all the toxins with a prescribed diet for each day.  It starts out with eating just fruit and ends up with introducing brown rice and vegetables at the end of the program.   It has been a good cleanse.  My mind is alert.  My body feels energetic, and I feel good.   It also involves the act of actively eating - that means we taste, chew and swallow mindfully everything we put in our mouth.   It invovles preparation - so we are consciously choosing what we will eat during that day but we also make time to prepare the meals.  It involves willpower - so when we think we need to have something but we see we don't really need it because we are making a choice.   It is also about a mindset.  Has my lifestyle changed drastically in a week?  Not really - i'm still able to wake up at my regular time, still able to function effectively.  Have i become more irritable because i feel weak and think i need food - i don't think so.  Have I become resentful of not being able to eat certain things? for this week no.  But again  - it is a cleanse and a cleanse is abouf flushing out toxins that we put in our bodies.  

What have i learned?  Food is a necessity for nutrients and energy for our body.   We make choices about what we put in our bodies and much of the time we are mindless when we consume food - because our tongue likes the taste of it - we want it and then we want more and more.   I have learned that my mind is much more powerful than I think it is.  Just like i can train my mind to stick to this cleanse - similarly, i can in an instant train my mind to do the opposite.  The mind can make you believe you are your own worst enemy, and it can make you feel you are your own best friend.  So which do you choose?  I choose the latter.  

A Journal Prompt:
Have a Dialogue with your favorite food.  Yes - write it down - dialogue with wine, chocolate, doritos, bread, cheese- have a dialogue with that -let yourself dialogue it out and see where it takes you.   Have fun with it.   It will lead you places you didn't thing you had.  

Happy Journaling!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A mother's request...

They say that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”  Until
I became a mother, I really did not fully understand what that
actually meant.  But today, a couple of days away from Mother’s day, I
know in my heart what a huge responsibility that God has entrusted to
women.   From the very moment we feel that baby in us we unknowingly
fall into what I would like to call “an altruistic fold.”   Think
about the things you begin to do once you are pregnant that you would
not do otherwise.  I remember when I first got pregnant with my son –
immediately in my head, I knew I had to give up coffee.  Now mind you,
that cup of coffee is the first thing I need in the morning to start
my day – there is something about taking that first sip – so relaxing.
But because I had read about the effects many years ago , because I
knew that on some level too much of it may have an impact on this
baby, I simply stopped.  I didn’t think twice, I simply stopped.   For
nine months, no coffee.   For nine months, I walked/exercised
religiously because I knew it was good for the baby.  For nine months,
I ate right because I knew that it would give the baby vitamins, and
make the baby strong.  Where did that will power come from I wonder?
Of course having a baby in you and outside of you is totally different
because the tasks/responsibilities and tasks are different.
But it made me realize something: as tired as I was between working,
etc –as cranky I may have been, as picky I may have been with food,
and as strange as I my body felt as it kept growing I kept going
forward – I kept pushing.   I look back and reflect, and what I found
interesting was that because I had this being I was responsible for
inside of me and wanted to absolutely make sure that it would be okay,
I made a conscious effort to take care of myself.

As women, how often do we really fully take the time for ourselves
–there is always something else to do, something more to do, and our
list never ends.   And then when we become mothers, the list never
ends.  There was a video I watched the other day where candidates are
being interviewed for a position – and the responsibilities include
working 365 days a week, no pay, no lunch break, etc – and at the end
of the video the candidates ask “ Is there a job out there like that,
and they answer – yes, MOMS.”   How true it is.   I see my mother, my
aunts, my mother in law, my grandmothers, I am in awe of how much they
do for their children and how little they do for themselves – I say
Kudos to them.  I salute them truly.

But What I want to say to moms nowadays is this: What pregnancy taught
me and motherhood continually teaches me is this : IF YOU ARE WELL,
is something that I must continue to do no matter.   That our
self-care as mothers is as important as caring for the needs of our
children.   And Self-care is simply not physical – it is a
mental/emotional/spiritual make up of us as women.  If we don’t make a
conscious effort to fight the demons in our heads, to work on our
health, to savor the blessings in our lives, to be our own best
friend, how can we expect our children to do the same? Women have an
amazing capacity to LOVE unconditionally.  But how many of us love
ourselves unconditionally?  Think about all the things you do as a
mother/godmother/caretaker to someone you love and look at the many
selfless things that continue to dictate you because of the word
“LOVE.”   Mothers have this unconditional love in them that is like a
river – it flows and it flows and it flows- into a vast ocean.    But
this love must come back to us – we must love ourselves truly so that
we can give that love unconditionally to our children.

As women, we have been given this huge responsibility for a reason –
to help us as women become the person our creator wanted us to be;  we
live in our own shadows sometimes and being given a gift of a child is
a wakeup call to us to begin coming out of our shadows.

So for this mother’s day make a commitment to take the time for you –
for your soul and your spirit.   It is not a selfish act, but rather a
wise act because you are giving yourself “YOUR TIME” so you can share
your wonderful gifts with those that need it.

A Journal Prompt for you:

I make my time for me by ….

Make a list of all the things you love – not what you want to do –but
things you love and write them down.  How many of the things you love
are action oriented, how many of them are objects, notice what comes
up.  Now make a commitment to enjoy one of them.  You can do it as a
weekly habit, or a monthly.