Thursday, April 16, 2009


I recently participated in a great visualization exercise. This is the second time I've done it, although it was slightly different than the first. The essence of the exercise is to imagine yourself 5 years into the future, living your dream life. You picture yourself living in the house of your dreams or the in the city you've always wanted to live in. You imagine your day - how and where you wake up, what you eat for breakfast, who you spend your day with and what you do for work (or not, as the case may be).

The first time I did this, I was then asked to imagine 4 years, then 3 years, then 2 and so on discovering the point at which I couldn't "see" the dream anymore. When does it feel like it's no longer possible? When does my mind start to say, "no, I'm not ready yet" or "that just isn't possible"? A very telling experience in itself.

Yesterday was a little different and equally as telling. We went to the 5 year place and as I imagined my dream life I was to think about how I felt about different areas, say work, home or family. I had a before and after for a little bit of comparison and what struck me as being most different was my sense of leisure in my dream life. It was peaceful, deliberate, purposeful. It wasn't rushed, frantic, panicked or hurried. In a word, leisurely.

In our lives we so often think that things will be better when. When I get a different job, I'll make more money. When I find the perfect spouse I won't be lonely. When things slow down I'll spend more time with my kids. Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is WHEN is never going to happen. The good news is, WHEN is NOW. And some things you can literally change right this instant just by changing your attitude.

For me, leisure has felt like something I'll get when. When the work season is over. When I finish this project. When the house is clean. blah, blah, blah. That's my old story. New story: I can do everything with this feeling of leisure I apparently covet so much in my dreams.

For today I'm going to take a deep breath before I start my car, turn on my computer, get dressed, brush my teeth, speak to my kids. Today I'm going to purposefully move a little bit slower. Today I'm going to talk a little slower, eat a little slower, drive a little slower. Leisure is the theme of the day. I might even go put on a leisure suit to celebrate. Well, maybe not.

Breakfast Smoothie Recipe

Many of my family, friends and students know that I have a smoothie every morning for breakfast. I am a huge advocate of eating breakfast and since changing my morning bowl of cereal to this smoothie I find I have more energy, energy for longer and don't get hungry as soon. In fact, this morning I didn't have it and I found myself hungry at 10am and wanting to take a nap. That's how I used to feel all the time.

Now, I am not a nutritionist (yet!) and I do want to give full credit to someone who is. This recipe is taken from The Fat Flush Plan, written by Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., C.N.S. Don't let the title fool you, it's really more of a cleanse or detox than your average diet. It does have the benefit of losing weight for many people. It's not something I do consistently but something I do parts of or, when I feel like I need to cleanse, do for several weeks. She is a (holistic)nutrition specialist and if nothing else, read the first few chapters to learn how our bodies get out of balance and why these ingredients are so important. I'll try to summarize where I can, but for more in depth info check out the book.

For those of you in the Minneapolis metro area, I've also figured out an approximate cost and calories per serving (this may vary depending on prices where you live, keep reading for some cost saving tips* too). I know some of the ingredients are costly when you buy them all at once, but each smoothie is cheaper than a medium latte at Starbucks (and a whole lot healthier).

2 oz. of pure (100%) cranberry juice [$1.25 per serv/25 cal] - for liver/kidney health
6 oz. of water (0/0)
1 Tablespoon of Omega-3 oil (flaxseed oil preferred, I use Udo's brand) [$.71 per serv/120 cal] - for "good" fat/essential oil/brain health
1 cup of fruit (I use frozen strawberries and blueberries most often, can also use raspberries, mango or cherries) [strawberries: $.75 per serv/50 cal]
1 banana (optional) [$.20 per serv/80 cal]
1 Tablespoon of ground flax seed [$.03 per serv/30 cal] - for fiber
1 packet of Stevia (an all natural sweetener from the Stevia plant, comes in individual packets) [.12 per serv/0 cal] - is also a source of fiber
1 serving of whey protein powder (I get Whey Factors brand and love the taste- be careful what you get here, some are not that great tasting) [$.86 per serv/80 cal]

Mix all ingredients in a blender, pour and drink. Enjoy!

*The biggest cost items are the oil, protein powder and fruit.
I based price of the oil and protien powder on the brand that I buy, which I get at Lakewinds Co-op. You may find cheaper alternatives that still fit your taste, or the price may be different based on where you shop.
Cranberry juice is probably the most expensive ingredient. You can buy frozen cranberries (about $7 for 20 oz.) and cook them with (4 c. water to 12 oz. berries) then strain to get 32 oz of juice or 16 days worth (26 cents per serving vs. 1.25 per serving for pre-made juice)
Fruit varies greatly in price. I based price here on a 4 lb. bag of Cub brand strawberries. I have found 6 lb. bags at Costco for the same price (25 cents cheaper per serv). During strawberry season I go to local farms and buy strawberries to freeze myself and that cost is considerably lower. I buy blueberries during that season at a low cost as well.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Can you be a beginner?

Beginners mind. It's something referred to in Zen philosophy and other eastern philosophies. It means that you approach a situation, or life in general, as if you are a beginner and know nothing. I think it it has many purposes. The most basic is that you know you are not living by your ego when you approach something with a beginner's mind.

Can you do it? When you go to work do you say to yourself, "I can do my job, I know this, this is easy" or do you say, "what can I learn today? what is new about his job?". When you are around kids, do you act ever the authoritative knowledgeable parent or can you stop and actually listen, eager to hear what is on young minds? Now here's my favorite. Can you attend a class, let's say a Yoga class, and do everything the teacher asks, the way the teacher asks as if you have never done it before in your life? Or do you just do your own thing because you know how to do it and don't need to wait for the instructions.

If you approach something assuming that you somehow know everything about it, there is resistance in you somewhere, there is ignorance lingering. There is a lesson for you, whether you know it or not. The good news is that you have great opportunity to learn.

I have realized that there are only 2 types of people who go to a teacher. Beginners and Resistores. You can't tell true beginners from those in a higher consciousness that are exhibiting "beginners mind". Everyone else is resisting. What, I can't tell you. That is your lesson to learn.

What are you resisting today?