5 benefits of meditation.

“Meditating” is still fairly misunderstood.  From the outside, it totally looks like someone is just sitting still.  Thinking about who-knows-what, trying not to slouch over, hoping to find inner-peace or whatever.  Yes, stillness is usually involved (doesn’t have to be! you meditate while walking) but that doesn’t mean that NOTHING is happening.  In fact, active meditation is very… well, active.  As neuroscience evolves, we are now able to see, quantify, and measure what is happening inside the brain and inside the body during  meditation.  Techniques that have been practiced for hundreds of years are now being ‘proven’ to have lasting health benefits.  And guess what!  Meditating can make you happier!  :)  Read on for 5 benefits of meditation.  (There are many more!)

1. Your Happiness. The more you learn to be ‘in the present moment’ the easier it is to feel content with what you have.  The easier it is to remember that the only reasonable response to life is gratitude.  The easier it is to be happy, and to cherish that happiness.  Read Sharon Salzberg’s “Real Happiness” for a detailed look at this phenomenon.

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“The more you learn to be ‘in the present moment’ the easier it is to feel content with what you have.”

 

 2. Your Attention and Focus. The first way we learn to meditate is through dharana, or single-pointed concentration.  Our brain is always working over-time, and we are accustomed to jumping around from thought to thought.  Meditation, even for 3 minutes, teaches us to be sensitive to the continuity of awareness.  Read Learn to Meditate: Your Way for some ideas on how to learn concentration.

3. Your Immune System. You got it.  Meditation can actually make you healthier! Studies have found that people who meditate can enhance their own immune system by decreasing stress responses.  In addition, people who meditate have increased antibodies, which are integral to the immune system response to outside agents.  Lastly, activating the parts of the brain which act as command centers for the immune system. Check out ecoinstitute for more articles.

4. Your Brain.  A recent Harvard University study found that the brains of people who meditated actually showed changes in the brain area (called the amygdala) which plays an important role in the management of anxiety and stress symptoms.  The study also found that meditation can increase the gray matter within the brain… that’s a good thing because your brain areas associated with self-awareness, introspection and compassion are strengthened!  Read more here.

 5. Your Spiritual Well-Being. Contemplative practices like prayer and meditation have long been an integral piece for developing a spiritual inner stillness.  It is in this moment of stillness that we can best commune with our sense of self, of Divinity, of creation as Divine.  Be well.   Read Tich Naht Hanh’s “You are Here.”

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when you meditate, areas in your brain that are associated with self-awareness, introspection and compassion are strengthened!

 

New to Meditation?  Great!  Check out this article: “Learn to Meditate, Your Way” to learn more.

Happy Meditating,

-lisa

 

 

incredibly healthy! carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread recipe.

carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread recipe.

We bought a post-apocalypse-pack of canned pumpkin from Costco.  That fact alone should explain my fixation with everything pumpkin this winter.  I truly think if it’s below 40 degrees outside, something should be in the oven baking.  It’s been interesting finding, tweaking and inventing recipes using pumpkin, which is low in calories and ultra-nutritious. I’ve made pumpkin quiche, pumpkin scones, pumpkin curry, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pancakes and now this, my new specialty: carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread (vegan!).

Feel free to add your special touches to this recipe: fold in pecans, cranberries, or raisins carrot pumpkin bread ingredfor extra crunch and flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 C oat flour
  • 1/2 C oats
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 C shredded carrots
  • 3 tbsp milled flax mixed with 3 tbsp cold water (or you can use 3 eggs for a non-vegan version)
  • 3/4 C light brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 3/4 C packed pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 C non-sweetened soy milk
  • 1/2 C walnuts

Procedure:

1.  Preheat oven to 325 and oil a 9 inch loaf pan with coconut oil.  (Place pan in oven as it heats to melt coconut oil so it will spread evenly across bottom and sides of pan.)

2. In a large bowl, stir together oat flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg.

3.  Mix in wet ingredients: carrots, flax, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla and milk.  Gently stir until well mixed and pour into prepared pan.

4.  Press walnuts on top of loaf.

5.  Bake until the top is golden brown, about 50 to 55 minutes.  Let stand (it’s really delicious when it’s hot!) and enjoy a bite.  Save the rest for breakfast!

carrot pumpkin bread

vegan carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread. you’ll eat the whole loaf in one sitting…

 

You will love it!  Super moist, hearty, and filling.

Let me know what you think,

-lisa