One of most essential relationships in life is with the food we eat. What we bring into our bodies affects our level of energy, ability to pay attention, and general well-being. That is why being mindful in our lives has to integrate the food we eat. Brandt Passalacqua, author of the audio program Being At Peace With Food, is also a speaker who discovered yoga and meditation after struggling with his weight, food and substance addiction, and serious illness. Since founding Peaceful Weight Loss™ Through Yoga, his personal journey has served as an inspiration to countless others looking to make peace with food. You can also check out his webinar here.
Today, Brandt talks to us about what our most impactful bad eating habits are, how he developed a healthy relationship to food, a meditation to get us started and a little advice at the end.
Elisha: Hi Brandt, to get us started tell us what some of the most impactful negative eating habits are that affect us today?
I recently led a workshop focused on helping us develop a wiser relationship to our technology (Smartphones, IPads, computers, television, etc.). In the beginning of the workshop I explained how as much as we feel that technology is a part of our lives, historically, we’re really just becoming acquainted with it. We talked about how in many ways, the people who came to the group were like “Digital Warriors,” at the frontier of optimizing this new wiser relationship to technology.
Here are a five benefits we found and one thing that surprised me most about what would come in life we practiced more digital awareness.
All of us have an innate desire to heal our suffering and step into a wiser and happier life. Today it is my great pleasure to bring a favorite author, teacher and psychologist of mine who is at the forefront of integrating mindfulness into psychotherapy and our lives. Tara Brach, PhD is author of the recently released and the soon-to-be-a-classic True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart, bestselling book Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha, and many more. Tara has weekly podcasts from her Wednesday night sitting groups and is senior teacher and founder of the Insight Meditation Communityof Washington. She embodies and emphasizes that beneath the turbulence of our minds and hearts is a loving awareness that as we learn to tap into over and again can reveal a source of resiliency, peace and genuine happiness.
Today, Tara will talk to us about her own journey through suffering that led to true refuge, the differences between true and false refuges, key practices to begin with this in our lives, how this applies to anxiety and depression and a final message for us to walk away with.
Elisha: One of the aspects of your book that I deeply appreciated was your personal journey from suffering to find your true refuge. Can you share a little of that with us here?
Life goes by quickly and it’s only later that we look back with nostalgia. In The Now Effect I write about the ability to create “Present Nostalgia” as a means to savor the moment. This is the practice of imaging yourself in the future in a time when things have changed and looking back to see what is precious about this moment. Then, in the present moment you can savor what you’ve been missing. However, in his recent inauguration, President Obama also shows us how savoring is done.
Here’s the clip to watch:
Our kids are our future and nowadays we are seeing them in them higher states of anxiety, impulsivity and other behavioral problems. In recent years mindfulness has been shown as an effective approach for children in lower stress and anxiety and even increasing states of feeling well. Susan Kaiser Greenland wrote The Mindful Child, I did an interview with Meg Cowan on her work with Mindful Schools, and Goldie Hawn has successfully started and organization called Mind Up. There is another very special organization started by two brothers Ali and Atman Smith and their friend Andres Gonzalez called Holistic Life Foundation. The three men made a choice to move back to their hometown and make a difference helping the kids transform their lives.
Today Ali, Atman and Andres talk to us about how mindfulness is helpful for behavioral problems, some key practices they have found to make a difference, why it’s important to help kids lead, and some advice for parents and teachers. Ali, Atman and Andres will be speaking at the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference in San Diego, Ca Feb 1-3, 2013.
Elisha: How is mindfulness helpful with kids who are impulsive, prone to behavioral problems and anger issues?
In the past few years we’ve seen a number of natural disasters. The latest being Hurricane Sandy and at the time of writing this post, we haven’t even seen the extent of damage that will occur. For those of us who aren’t in the eye of the storm, if we are mindful of it for a moment a naturally occurring healing element of compassion begins to emerge. Compassion is the feeling of imagining ourselves in another’s shoes with an inclination to help.
The Dalai Lama said, “It’s not enough to be compassionate, you must act.”
Here we are presented with that very opportunity not only for the healing of others, but perhaps surprisingly for ourselves too.
Engaging in compassionate action simply makes us feel connected to something greater than ourselves which ultimately gives us a sense of purpose and meaning in life.
This is a core element of feeling well.
First start by kindling that feeling by putting your judgments aside for a moment and engaging in the following practice of compassion:
Every day in my inbox I get a Daily Now Moment (DNM) that gives me something short enough to tweak my brain toward the present moment and to what actually matters. Here’s one that I received recently that I want to expand on:
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” ~ Robert Brault
What are those little things you can be on the lookout for today? A hug, a smile, the functionality of your body?
Sometimes it’s good to sweat the small stuff.
You may know by now, or maybe it’s news, that your brain makes thousands of decisions a day beneath your awareness about what’s good or bad, right or wrong, fair or unfair, important or unimportant, urgent or non-urgent. In The Now Effect, I borrowed Malcolm Gladwell’s terms “snap judgment” and “rapid cognition” to name this process.
It’s undeniable. The bond between human and digital device gets stronger every year. The average person sends or receives four times the amount of text messages since 2007. People are starting to feel their phone vibrate in their pockets when in fact there was never a vibration. This has been called “phantom-vibration syndrome.”
There’s a historical shift happening that we’ll only begin to understand years from now. With the wonderful things that the internet has brought us, it also hard to deny the ADHD and OCD-like qualities many of us are picking up as we continue to merge with our digital devices.
As you practice and repeat something, it becomes a habit, and whether the kick starter was a need to use the internet for business or social reason, the devices we have today are pretty good and getting us to use them over and over again. What do you need to be aware of?
I’m often on the lookout for progressive new effective therapies. This led my wife and I to go check out Denim ‘n’ Dirt in Santa Clarita, CA when we heard of the advances in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. I have to admit I was dubious that integrating horses and psychotherapy would be therapeutic, but putting my mindful hat on I walked in with a beginner’s mind and curiosity.
We walked up and met with Dr. B. Jane Wick and Steve Nelson, and without getting into too many details, by the end of a single session I was pretty amazed at the incredible overlap between mindfulness and equine therapy. I was also a bit blown away by the way the horses picked up on subtle cues and in ways that this unique form of therapy helped enlighten us to some important things that needed more mindfulness.
This is why it’s my pleasure to bring to you Dr. B. Jane Wick, a psychologist of 25 years, and equine assistant Steve Nelson of Denim ‘n’ Dirt to give us some more insight into the wonder behind this work.
Today Jane will be telling us what Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is, why it has such an impact in a short amount of time, a practical example of how it works and a tip and some thoughts on how we can go about finding this therapy for ourselves.
Elisha: Equine therapy seems to be gaining a lot of interest as a way of creating change quickly; tell us briefly what it is and why you think it has such dramatic effects?
When we’re babies and kids, everything is like new and captures our attention, but over time we become habituated to life and lose out on the wonder if it all.
The Now Effect says, “The way you wake up in the morning, do your work, eat your food, interact with your digital devices and engage with friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances and strangers over time all become routine. Our brains ability to make things automatic enables us to function, but when life itself becomes routine, we miss out on the choices, possibilities and wonders all around us.”
How about the fact that we can see color and not just black and white? Or what about the multitude of different sounds, tastes and aromas that are out there? When we really take a moment to ponder and pay attention to all of these senses, it’s not only amazing, but quite a miracle. Now, that may sound impressive, but how do we really get down to more practical matters?