When I was deciding on the topic of the week, I realized that I’ve only written one post with a Mind/Body Connection theme, which is one of five areas (categories, in blog parlance) that I intend to explore. That one particular post — focused on intuition — was primarily in the Purpose/Mindfulness category with only a touch of Mind/Body Connection.
So this week, we’re going full-on Mind-Body Connection and getting physical and mental!
Yesterday, as I made my way to the subway to go to work, I was in a good mood — enjoying the early morning sunshine, the pleasant temperature, and happy that I left the apartment in time to catch the earlier train to Rock Center. I have to take two to three trains, depending on which express train arrives first, and when they sync up, it’s not a problem. Unfortunately, as the NYC subway system ages and is becoming more unreliable every day, I usually arrive at my station with a little trepidation.
As I walked to my spot on the platform, (most New Yorkers know which car is most advantageous for their destination) my train’s arrival was announced and I was thrilled that it was actually on time…yay, an easy commute for a change! Well, my “thrilledness” dissipated quickly as I waited at the express transfer stop and could tell that the trains were once again off schedule — way off schedule.
Now, riding on a crowded subway is never pleasant but when you add the long delay, the slow moving train, and the constant stops mid-tunnel, I could feel the heat rising from the passengers around me — frowns, clucking of tongues, angry sighs….But the odd thing was, though I was annoyed, I wasn’t angry as I usually would be. I was cool, calm, collected, and honestly, surprised by it. It was then that I realized I had instinctively gone into one of my meditation practices — practices that I’ve recently been engaging in more and more. I breathed calmly and deeply, cleared my thoughts, turned on soothing music, and went with the flow.
Meditation is a common topic these days, but it’s interesting how some people are a bit intimidated to try it or just don’t want to learn what’s involved. There’s a misconception that there’s some strict regimen to follow to get it right — tweaking their body into strange and difficult poses, chanting phrases that they don’t understand, lighting incense…Well, I’ve got news for you folks, it’s not that difficult.
This misconception reminds me of a scene in Sex in the City where Carrie is visiting her high school boyfriend, played by David Duchovny, at a mental facility (just watch the episode — that’s not the point). He tells her, “There are great hiking trails all around here. Maybe later we can do a hike.”
Carrie: “Oh, I don't really hike.”
David: “Neither do I…but I’ll fill you in on something I discovered. Hiking…is walking.”
Silly comparison, yes, but, that’s the same thing with meditation. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s just shutting up, clearing your mind, and breathing. Easy, right?
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, and once the domain of yogis and other free spirits, it is now a very popular practice worldwide. According to the Art of Living website, “…your physiology undergoes a change and every cell in the body is filled with more prana (energy). This results in joy, peace, enthusiasm as the level of prana in the body increases.”
Scientific studies have also indicated that meditation improves both physical and emotional responses to stress, helps ward off illness, and contributes positively to overall mental and physical health. Even meditating for just 10-15 minutes can help set your mind at ease and get you back on track.
In my coaching program, part of my clients’ suggested Lifework is to try a meditation practice, preferably on a daily basis. The benefits of meditation are myriad and well documented and they should be incentive enough to start, but for my clients, there’s an even greater benefit. Meditation is an extra boost that helps them create a clear vision of what they want and where they want to be, generates a mindset that aligns with that vision, and empowers them to take the action steps required to get there.
There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques that have meditation components. Ways to meditate can include: guided meditation, mindfulness meditation, qi gong, tai chi, yoga, and many other alternatives, or as I inexpertly put it, “shut up, calm down, and breathe…”
Breathing is essential to life, and it’s an essential part of meditation. Think about it: It is the first thing we do when we are born, and the last thing we do when we depart. In between that time, we take about 500 million breaths. What we may not realize is that the mind, body, and breath are intimately connected and can influence each other. Our breathing is influenced by our thinking, and our thinking and physiology can be influenced by our breath. Learning to be conscious and aware of our breathing can be a valuable tool in helping to restore balance in the mind and body.
There’s a useful guide to meditation that was originally published in the New York Times. It’s a great place to start if you're new to meditation — it also covers mindfulness practices, which have similarities to meditation practices.
If there's a possibility that only 10 minutes of meditation can improve your focus and put you in a calm, contented frame of mind, why not give it a shot? Whichever technique you decide to practice, just do it…your body and mind will thank you.
To Your Success!
TIME TO DINE: Cooking for Joan
About 2 months ago, I was craving a noodle soup that had a lot of flavor but was also on the light side. Since I recently bought white miso paste with added dashi stock for another recipe, and it comes in a large container that would take me a year to use up, I thought I’d to make a miso-dashi stock soup with Udon noodles. I found this recipe on thewoksoflife.com site, tweaked it a bit and now it’s one of my favorites. It’s so delicious and pretty easy to make. The recipe calls for ½ chicken stock and ½ dashi stock, but I used miso-dashi only (no chicken stock). I also made it a spicy soup since I love my spice! Experiment with it and let me know what you prefer.
Spicy Udon Noodle Soup with Chicken & Mushrooms
Prep Time: 10 min | Cook Time: 20 min | Makes: 2 | Difficulty: Medium
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups miso-dashi stock (can also substitute just one of the stocks)
- 5 1 inch slices peeled ginger
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus 1 teaspoon
- 2 tablespoons oil, plus 1 teaspoon • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” pieces
- salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 4 oz. mushrooms, (shiitake was in the recipe, but use whatever mushroom you like) cleaned and sliced
- 1 tablespoon mirin ( or dry sherry, rice vinegar, dry white wine)
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 8 oz. fresh udon noodles
- scallion, julienned
Add the chicken broth, miso-dashi stock, ginger, and 1 tablespoon soy sauce to a large saucepan or pot and bring to a simmer.
Cover and continue simmering while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and add 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Mix until combined. Add the chicken to the pan in one layer and turn up the heat to medium high. Don’t move the chicken. Allow to sear until it’s browned on one side, and then stir.
Add the garlic and allow it to crisp up slightly in the oil for about 1 minute, but don't burn it.
Remove the chicken and garlic from the pan and set aside.
Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until they're tender. Stir in the mirin, sriracha and 1 teaspoon soy sauce and cook for another minute.
Stir the chicken and garlic back in.
Cook the udon according to package directions and distribute between two soup bowls.
Pour the hot stock over the noodles, and top with the chicken and mushroom mixture.
Garnish with scallions and serve.
Original Source: http://thewoksoflife.com/2016/...