Zen & The Art of the Mindful Diet

Zen and the Art of The Mindful Diet

Summer may be a long way off, but the image you have of your body is not a seasonal topic. It is with you every day of the year. Beneath those baggy sweaters and heavy coats in winter, it effects how you feel about yourself, how you treat yourself, and how you view the world that you live in.

You do not have to flash on the beach, for your body to show.  It is visible in how you feel every day of every year.  More important, those around you feel it in how you treat them and in your attitude.  After all, having a great body is not about fitting into a double zero.  It’s about being happy in who you are.  It’s about fitting into the body you already have perfectly.  So forget the extreme diets, forget the bathing suit and the stretchy yoga pants.  It’s time to find grace in the beauty that is you.

The Simple Truth to the Mindful Diet is that there should be no restrictions to living your life.  After all, living life isn’t about fitting into the right outfit, it’s about creating great memories wherever you are.  This is why your diet should not be about losing, but winning.  Winning balance, winning calm, winning happiness without carrying around the weight that so many people can throw on you.  Because that is what you carry around, not just pounds, but guilt, fear, and self-loathing.  It sounds funny, but when you change your relationship with the food you eat, you don’t gain weight, you shed the angst of your old life as you gain health.  And yes, that is very, very visible.

The Mindful Diet is a program created by the Modern American Monk, Jeff Cannon.  Jeff is a leading voice in the Modern Meditation Movement who has dedicated his life to applying meditative techniques to resolve the contemporary issues we all face in the modern world.

Jeff survived eight brain surgeries that collectively removed more than twenty tumors in as many years.  With each surgery he refined his own diet in an effort to slow down new tumor growth. Along the way, he removed carbohydrates and processed foods.  He incorporated caloric restrictions.  He also applied Modern Meditation to reduce his stress.  The results was not only slowed tumor growth, but a healthier, happier and lighter self.  He became more aware of who he was in the world around him.  As that happened, he became more confident and more secure.  And that is something everyone around him noticed.

The simple practice of mindfulness that he lives his life around today changed his relationship with food and eating on every level.  For Jeff, it left him with just 15% body fat.  He still enjoys food and an occasional cocktail when the event calls for it.  Now, he just does so mindfully – and that makes all the difference.

The Mindful Diet is his gift to you.  It will help you  live a richer, fuller life while helping you maintain a healthy balance in everything you do.  While you will lose weight along the way, the real benefit is to leave you feeling great in a natural, healthy and mindful way.

The Mindful Diet is not about counting individual calories.  It avoids the starvation/sweat mentality so many people rely on.  Instead it is about slowing down and enjoying life every minute of every day by simply being present wherever you are.  Some people have called the Mindful Diet the “un-diet,” because it does not matter if you were born strikingly slender or with rich beautiful curves.   What matters is that you breathe in a positive body image and breathe out the toxins that hold you back.  When you learn to do that, you learn to transform your body and your life for the better.

Why not start your own Mindful Diet with these helpful tips that will reduce your stress from your vacation and fill you with joy for years to come:

Mind Before You Eat

Food is sometimes more a habit than a necessity.  We eat what we are comfortable with rather than what we really want.  So slow down before you dig in.  Stop and take three slow, deep breaths.  With each breath in, feel your body slow down.  Be comfortable with where you are and ask yourself what it is that you really want.  It will help you get rid of the stress that social occasions often create and help you take the emotions  out of your meal.   The result is a calmer meal that you can fully without all the stress-laden extras.

Use All of Your Senses

Stop just eating and start enjoying.  Take the time to see and smell and yes even hear your food.  Don’t take a bite until you have run through all five senses and are aware of the full experience that is your meal.  You will learn to appreciate your food on a whole different level.  With all that joy flooding into your body, you will also eat less.

Slow Down & Enjoy

When your social calendar comes calling, it’s easy to rush into everything you find.  It is easy to forget what you are eating and drinking as you try to fit it all in.  Use your meals as a chance to slow down.  The next time you feel yourself rushing through a meal, stop, breathe and give yourself thirty seconds to come up with a good answer as to why you are craving what you are craving.  It will teach you to be mindful of your meal and to enjoy it a whole lot more.

Love Your Body

Don’t just accept your body.  Don’t just appreciate your body.  LOVE YOUR BODY!  Love your curves and your freckles.  Love your hips and your stomach.  No matter what shape you were born with, LOVE IT!  OWN IT!

Sure, you can lose a little here or there.  You can add some muscle tone and get in better shape.  You can even nip and tuck, if you want to go there – we all can.  But before you do  that, the next time you feel self conscious, take out two minutes to stand in a Superman pose – feet spread wide, hands on hips, chin up and shoulders back and smile.

Feel the self confidence rise up in you.  Feel your adrenaline rise and your cortisol drop – which means you will feel more confident and powerful no matter what you’re wearing.  And that helps you make the right choices whether you’re in a clam shack or the juice bar of some spa.

Learn to enjoy your meals mindfully and live life fully.  After all, this is your life.  It’s time to life it YOUR way!

 

If you want to learn more about The Mindful Diet – just visit us at www.simple-truth.com/mindfuldiet.

Modern Meditation Profile – Dina Proctor

Dina Proctor

From the start, Dina’s life wasn’t so different from yours or mine. She spent her 20s running after the same things everyone is after; a good job that meant something, a loving relationship, a sense of purpose, a sense of stability. But the more she looked outside herself for her answers, the more she realized it was the void within that she was trying to fill.

She did non-profit work in Africa, Guatemala, and with juveniles in jails – helping to heal others in an effort to heal herself.  She changed jobs every 9-months.  She changed boyfriends and moved just as often. Each time telling herself, “if I can just get a bit more money, if I can just find the right guy, if I just save one more person, it will all be better.”

It wasn’t until she moved into a new living situation in that her two worlds were forced together.  Her roommates were social drinkers and at first her life was a party. Then it spiraled.  Within weeks she became a daily drinker.  In months, she became a round-the-clock drinker.  After years of battling clinical depression and thinking, “if I don’t wake up in the morning, I’m okay with that,” she actually chose a date to take her own life.

That was 2008 and she had hit rock bottom. She did not so much pull back in that moment, as she realized she was sick of being sick of her life. She thought of suicide, but before she ended it all, she decided she at least wanted to see what real drunks looked like. That was the day she wandered into an addiction recovery meeting; “just to see.” Listening to them, she realized she was far worse than any of them.

At one point in her recovery she was introduced to meditation. She was asked to sit for 20 minutes. Her body was still detoxing, her head was spiraling, and sitting still for 20 minutes was physically impossible for her; she found she could sit still for about three minutes at a time. So she decided to sit in three minute increments until she reached the 20 minute mark. That was something she could do.

It was hard, but she was able to do it.  Then, about eight weeks into her meditation practice she had an out of body experience.  For the first time in her life, her mind was free from chatter, free from the inner voice that had haunted her. Everything she looked at was pristine and beautiful.  It was an absolutely full presence, a spiritual and physical moment that she remembers vividly to this day.

She had two revelations in that moment.  First, there is no such thing as time.  Time is something we transcend.  Second, everything in the physical world is just a reflection of the mind. At that moment she just knew that all she had to do in life was maintain the state of mind she experienced, and she could be grounded and open in the way she had always wanted.

She continued her meditation practice which eventually settled into three minutes, three times a day. In days she reached a point of ownership and non-resistance in her life. She wrote a book called Madly Chasing Peace: How I Went From Hell to Happy in 9 Minutes a Day, that turned into a best-seller, and now she teaches her style of modern meditation to hundreds of people who want to find the kind of peace that she discovered for herself.

Hers is a message of strength, empowerment and transformation.  It is one worth discovering for yourself no matter where you are in your life.

 

[learn_more caption=”See The Full Interview Here”] What drew you to yoga and meditation?

I don’t think I would say I was drawn to meditation – more like I was dragged kicking and screaming! At the end of 2008 I hit rock bottom in my life – I was suicidal and clinically depressed.  I was also horribly addicted to alcohol. I had tried countless changes to fix the emotional black hole I’d felt inside for years – moving cities, changing jobs, upgrading my boyfriends, individual therapy, group therapy, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications – you name it I tried it. But nothing worked to fix how I felt.

In hindsight (and obvious to everyone but me), I was constantly moving but always taking myself with me. Meditation was an instruction given to me when I finally fell apart. I remember balking at the idea of meditating for 20 minutes – wondering how on earth sitting in a floaty, wistful sort of way would do anything at all! But at that time I had run out of my own answers. So I tried it. And it ended up changing everything about everything (about everything!) about my life.

How have they changed your life?

There is not a single area of my life meditation hasn’t transformed. When I first started meditating I was in addiction-and-suicidal-thought withdrawal and could not physically or mentally sit still for longer than about 3 minutes at a time. Since my instruction was to meditate was for 20 minutes total I would sit for 3 minutes several times a day so I could meet my quota. After about 8 weeks of this messy 3 minute here, 3 minute there practice, I had an experience in what I can only call a state of higher consciousness.

For 3 entire days my conscious awareness was outside of my body – hovering above my body, yet tethered to it, everywhere I went! I had no thoughts in my head, absolutely zero mind-chatter, and everyone and everything was extraordinarily beautiful.

During that time I realized 2 things: that there is no such thing as time (really!) and that everything that exists in my exterior world – my body, my relationships, my financial situation – is simply a reflection of what was going on inside of myself; my world is basically a direct reflection of the quality of my spiritual life.

That 3-day experience profoundly changed my life perspective and I knew that these 3-minute meditations held the key to changing my entire reality.

At what point did you decide to teach others?

Teaching others was something I heavily resisted at first. About 8 months after my rock bottom point I had people approaching me asking me to teach them how I had used what had evolved into what I call 3×3 Meditation (3 minutes, 3 times a day) for the practical results I was achieving (a healed relationship with food and with my body, transformative relationships at home, work and with my family to name a few) and I didn’t feel ready.

I thought I needed to have it all figured out and picture-perfect before I could help guide someone else. But my mentor at the time advised me to share what I’d learned with others as soon as I was asked to – because only in giving it away is it something I can keep.

What do you find most rewarding about working with others?

There is nothing in the world more fulfilling to me than to share 3×3 Meditation with others and seeing them achieve their own results! I’ve recently started certifying people to become 3×3 Coaches and that is also deeply rewarding.

To share something I developed at my toughest point with people who use it to transform their lives is a rare and precious gift. I always knew helping others would help me help myself but when I was in my twenties I went about it all the wrong way. I worked at homeless shelters and third world aid organizations – went to the poorest parts of Africa and south America to bring food and supplies for students but even that good work I was doing did not fulfill me nearly as much as sharing a practice given to me by something greater than myself with people who are desperate to change their own lives.

What is your advice for someone just starting on their journey?

First I want to tell you that you are not alone! For so long, and especially at the beginning of my journey, I felt so isolated, so past the point of help. That feeling of isolation and hopelessness was killing me.

It stunned me when I realized that others had been where I’d been, had bettered their lives from the exact point where I stood. If you are just starting out, be gentle with yourself, accept and be open to the journey, and look forward to a life that is better than you could have ever imagined.

What should someone look for in a studio or an instructor?

The most important thing in choosing a mentor or teacher is feeling an emotional resonance. I’ve learned so much more from people without distinctions and degrees than I did from well-intentioned people who tried to help me from a more intellectual perspective. Don’t get me wrong – those who have knowledge and training are infinitely valuable and are of service to so many, but I didn’t experience my truest healing from all my doctor and psychiatrist visits – I experienced it from people who had been where I was. I will always have a mentor (or two!) and the first thing I look for – well, really feel for – is a sense of true, deep connection and a feeling of being completely understood and accepted exactly where I am.

What does the term Modern Meditation mean to you?

I would define Modern Meditation as whatever practice works for individuals as they navigate their everyday busy lives. Meditation is deeply personal – just as every workout isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, some folks prefer one meditation method over another. It’s so amazing there are so many to choose from. Modern Meditation means bringing a sense of calm, peaceful presence to everyday situations – being present as you shop for groceries or wait in line at the bank – it’s cultivating who you be not just on the meditation cushion but out in the nitty gritty of the real world.

How have you adapted traditional meditation and yoga in your life outside the studio?

Outside of my structured meditation practice (which of course only takes 9 minutes a day), I hold an intention to touch that space of inner space as I coach clients or write articles or record videos or wash dishes or clean the bathroom or eat lunch or reconcile my bank account or run errands. My life purpose is to be the fullest expression of my innermost self in my physical form, and to accomplish that I need to bring the space and peacefulness within my being to every aspect of my everyday life.

How has expanding and deepening your practice, improved your life?

It would be a much shorter list to make a list of how it hasn’t improved my life – because it has enhanced, improved and transformed every single aspect of my life. From healing addiction and depression to releasing weight to refreshing my relationships to writing a book to quitting my day job to teach this full-time and find financial stability, my meditation practice has been the key to every one of these achievements.

What is your Simple Truth?

My simplest truth is remembering and living from the perspective that my exterior world is only a reflection of what’s going on within me. If I don’t like the reflection I see in a mirror I don’t seek another mirror, I realize that I need to change the source that’s being reflected. It is all up to me.

Simple.

Empowering.

Liberating.

Inspiring!  

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Monday Moments – Touch The Earth

Every year life seems to rush a little faster.  It is as if the universe itself seems to speed up a bit, to spin a little faster each year.  It is why it is so easy to feel like you are spinning out of control.  Like a top, just one rotation away from toppling over.  It is also why it is so important to touch the earth when you can.

You do not need to have a secret ceremony for this.  You do not even need to cross your legs in lotus pose. You simply need to pause for a moment. To take a nice, slow breath; down deep into your lungs, and place two fingers onto the ground around you.

It is said this is what Siddhartha Gautama did just before realizing enlightenment to become the Buddha. It is how he answered the demon Mara, who attacked him with his armies of monsters to frighten him from his seat. When the demon asked the would-be-Buddha “who will speak for you,” Siddhartha reached down to touch the earth with his hand, and the earth itself cried out “I bear you witness!” As the tale goes, when the morning star rose, Siddhartha realized enlightenment and became the Buddha.

The act of touching the earth is an act that is called The Earth Witness Mudra. It is both grounding and revelatory that helps the man or woman seeking enlightenment to stay in tune with the fundamental structure of the universe.

But, even if you are not seeking enlightenment, it can simply be a reminder of where you came from.  It can be a way to balance yourself in your day, as if you were a Buddha.

You don’t need to meditate to do this.  Just breathe down deep into your lungs and smile as you touch the ground beneath you.  Then enjoy the feeling of calm as it creeps up your arm and fills you with balance.

After all, it is YOUR life.

Why not live it YOUR way?

Monday Moments – Passing Meditation on Thoughts

12,000 – 50,000 – That is how many thoughts researchers estimate pass through your head in a day.  That is how active your brain is, even if you do not meditate.

The good thing is, they do not all need to be a part of your life.

You see, your brain was not designed for today’s world.  It evolved over time, and its main function is still to keep you alive. Yes, the brain is a magnificent organ, but it was hardwired to:

  • Observe the world around you
  • Associate that input with all of the memories you have
  • Produce thoughts to keep you alive

That is what it does, it watches, it reads the signals, and it produces thoughts to help you survive. Most of these thoughts originate in the old, primordial brain.  That is why so many of your thoughts are based on fear, rather than the higher-level, creative thinking that is better suited for today’s world. This is also why it is so important to be aware of them, and to let them go. Simply – they were programmed for a different time.

It is not until you are in a safe place that the executive function of your brain is allowed to play. This is where your hopes and dreams and happiness live. So while at some point your brain can be a pathway to your higher self, for the majority of the time it is still an organ, and its primary purpose is your survival.

I am sorry, but that is just how the glorious structure of the human brain evolved.

Just remind  yourself, the next time you are feeling depressed or afraid or frozen in place, this is not you, and you are not your brain.  This is just how your brain is programmed to work.  Smile at its beauty, and then remember that the last time it evolved was 40,000 or 150,000 years ago, and you live today, now, in the present. 

You don’t even need to meditate to do this.  Just breathe down deep into your lungs and smile as you decided what it is that YOU want to do today.

After all, it is YOUR life.

Why not live it YOUR way?

 

 

 

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Q+A – Why Do You Meditate?

Over the past few millennia we have been introduced to meditation.  Our teachers have taught us how to become aware of our bodies and our minds.  This awareness has helped us foster a better understanding of our own thoughts and actions, both within ourselves, as well as with those, and even the universe around us.
Meditation has even allowed some to peer past the veil of existence to see what lays beyond.

Those same teachers have, through faiths like Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, taught us the art of compassion, love, and kindness. While their philosophies do not always overlap, they do interconnect through the paths of meditation and awareness.

For those of you who choose the path of meditation, you are often rewarded with an understanding and a sense of growing enlightenment.  Each of which enables you to grow beyond yourself.  The further you follow this path, the more you are able to move beyond the sense balance and calm you initially sought.  In time you may even find a level of insight which will free you to cultivate wisdom free from oversight.

It is this insight that opens up an entire future where you are free to explore.

Simply knowing this gives me hope for the future. While it is not in my hands, it is there in my heart.

Thanks to the methodology of Western science, the physical and psychological effects of meditation have been proven ad-infinitum.  With this approval, meditation is now being taught to children in schools and to employees at work.  Both of whom are showing greater compassion and understanding for those and the world around them.

It gives me hope that we are building a foundation of peace for the next generation. I do not say this lightly, but if it is not for you that you meditate, then it is for your children and their children after, that you meditate.  That with our energy, you can in fact leave the world a better place than when you arrived.

This is why it is so important to go beyond the self; to go beyond your own stress and unhappiness, and to look at the bigger picture – so that you truly realize how your actions are moving the world in a better direction.

So when I am asked by a student, “what is next?” I smile.  For that answer is not found in yourself.  It is found in everything and everybody around you. It is knowing that when you hit someone, you are also hitting yourself, a smack that you will carry with you for years to come.  It is found not just in one bottom line of Profit, but in a triple bottom line that balances People, Planet and Profits for the future.

“What is next?”  Next is using the stability and clarity that you have gained to develop your own wisdom and to share it with those around you.  And by wisdom, I mean the wisdom of the heart and the mind.  For it is in that wisdom that you will find your divine.  Not within yourself, but in the connections you enjoy with the those around you and with all of existence.

Keep that in mind if you ever ask yourself why you meditate.  Or more likely, if that 40,000 year old brain of yours ever asks you what you are doing, while shooting in some adrenaline and cortisol to get you worrying that you have better, more immediate tasks to do.

The next time you question what you are doing, simply stop.  Simply dip your toe in the water of meditation with three simple breaths.  Let those three breaths lead you to wade into the pool of calm as you leave the world crashing in the waves behind you.

Let yourself be carried away in the gentle currents of Love that you will quickly remember is meditation.

 

Meditate to Embrace Your Emotions

Embrace your emotions
Without feeling trapped in having to pursue them.
That is the goal and the path to the calm you seek.

Emotions are not the problem.  It is how you deal with them that is.

If you lose yourself to the emotions you feel, then they become your master.

The next time you feel an emotion rising.  Love or Hate.  Anxiety or Comfort.  Lust or Disgust.  Do not respond to it immediately.  Stop.  Breathe.  Separate yourself from whatever it is that is triggering it.  Train yourself to contemplate what you are feeling even if for a moment.  Acknowledge it, label it, contemplate it, and then ask yourself if responding is really what you want to do.  Or do you simply want to let it go?

It is not the emotion that is the problem.  That is simply your brain telling you something out there is about to effect you, in here.

It is up to you to decide how you want to respond.

After all, it is your life.  Living in a meditative manner is the difference between pain and anguish, Love and joy.