Be Healthy / Be Happy May Issue

Mindfulness: Whats the Point?

We all have our ideas of what meditation and mindfulness represent. We hear words such as compassion, peace, love, and kindness so often that these words, which hold much truth and depth, lose their luster and become ''just words''. We hear how meditation can be viewed as a time for relaxation and a place to ''go away'' from ones troubles and anxieties. It begins to look like hocus pocus and a bit disingenuous. Let me say something that many of you might not realize about meditation. It is anything but easy and peaceful. Meditation is not about the suppression or repression of ones thoughts, emotions, or feelings. Meditation is the opposite. When one sits on the cushion and begins to just be in the moment, thinking does not simply stop. I was quite surprised to see what was coming up in my mind and from what place I was reacting. Sitting with feelings of anger, sadness, loneliness, or boredom is courageous. One begins to witness what is underneath our own sense of self. These feelings don't go away. They don't disappear because one thinks he or she is being a "good" person. Instead, we begin to see the impermanence (meaning inconstant or not lasting) of these thought processes and understand that many of our unhealthy feelings become habitual behaviors over time that make up our every day decisions in life. Taking this insight out into the world, we are able to understand our own confusion and respond (instead of react) to situations with clarity. Through meditation, we build compassion and kindness for the parts of us that we hide from others and, in doing so, cultivate compassion for others. THIS is the point of meditation. This is why coming to the cushion will be the bravest and most rewarding decision one can make. Try it out. What do you have to lose?

Here is a quote from Gandhi that may help clarify the importance of being aware of ones feelings and cultivating mindfulness. “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny".

A Meditation Practice

Below is a meditation practice that is helpful for beginners who sit for the first time and wonder what they should be doing. These are instructions given by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche (Head of the Shambhala lineage). Its a lot of fancy words basically meaning he is a meditation master in charge of many urban meditation centers in the West.

The first step is to sit with correct posture. Knees should be facing down to the floor below the hips with back straight and chest open. If this is not possible, use props such as extra blankets until you feel that you can sit without experiencing discomfort. Once you find your seat and your breath, begin the process below.

Feeling: Do not try to feel in any way. Allow feeling to occur. How do we feel? Attempt to understand it. This has a healing effect. It is present and promotes honesty and respect for oneself. Once one acknowledges a feeling, let it go by refocusing back on the breath.

Being: Allow oneself to be. This can be so hard for most people! How many things are out there to distract us from each moment? Just being with oneself can be courageous. This is where home is located. Coming to the cushion is basically coming home.

Touching: Touch an experience. Touch ones basic goodness.

Fitness:Erin takes on a few more adventures into nature and aerial Yoga

Hiking Reviews! This month I am reviewing two new spots that I loved.

1- Governor Dodge State Park- The Holy Grail of hiking around Madison, am I right?! There are so many trails to choose from, varied in difficulty and length. There's even a trail to a waterfall! Spoiler alert, I did not check that hike out. I wanted to try a longer one and chose the Meadow Valley Trail. This hike is 5 miles long and overall moderate difficulty; a few climbs and elevation but nothing too intense. The landscape features woodlands and meadows with accurate and thoughtful markers throughout the entire length which may not seem crucial but it is nice not having to worry about getting lost and never finding your way out. Is that just me?! Dog friendly and bike friendly, although not this path, but I saw lots of bikes around so somewhere close. This park is also great because it has numerous picnic areas and lakes for swimming. It's a great place to spend your day.

2- Donald Park- This park is a little gem over on the west side of town. There is a total of 12.3 miles of trails in the park. The most I have hiked is 4.6 miles. The route I took was a little varied as the trails lead one into the next. My advice is to just pick a direction and go with the flow. There are enough trail markers throughout that getting lost isn't really feasible. Landscape is combined woods and meadow. The majority is meadow which isn't my favorite. But the forest area includes brisk elevation climbs, (specifically marker 17), and cool rock formations. There is a random "caretaker" house/farm located centrally in the park which was a touch confusing at points. I thought "can I go through here or is this someone's house?". It's all good to walk on through. It's dog friendly & a great way to get your exercise in for the day!

I have practiced yoga for awhile and have been looking to spice up my practice. I decided to try a new style of yoga.

Aerial yoga is being suspended in the air held by silk infinity scarves (not really but that's what it looks like).

It was an interesting experience and felt a-maze-ing; talk about the best spinal decompression! The class is offered every Saturday at 10:30am-11:30am and is called Intro to Aerial Yoga. It is required to take this specific class before attending any other Aerial classes at this studio which is a good idea since you need to know 4 basic poses before advancing to more challenging ones. I believe the class is limited to 6 people. If you and a group of friends want to go together, (which is what I did and it was a super fun experience!), make sure to call ahead. The class is 25$ which is decent for a drop in especially with it being a specialized yoga class.

In the class you learn how to get yourself into the silk scarves safely, how to get into the 4 basic poses, and how to expand those poses a little bit. Honestly, I could hang in those silks all day. That's how good it felt. And don't think you need to be a yogi or super flexible to do this. There was a 70 year old woman in our class who just started Aerial yoga 1 week prior and was kicking ass. So if you're interested in trying a new experience for your brain and body, you should check it out!

Nutrition: Healthy local restaurants

Madison offers many restaurants with healthy options and affordable prices. We have listed some below along with a link to each restaurants website. Check 'em out!

1- Miko Poke: (Hawaiian): Give Miko Poké a try if you like sushi or just want a unique food experience! This restaurant offers a Hawaiian classic “Poké” with a variety of options. Poké is comprised of cubed raw fish on top of rice or baby greens, topped with various veggies, fruits, and sauces. All of the toppings and sauces are gluten and dairy free as well as free of charge. If you’re not a fan of raw fish, they also offer cooked seafood, chicken, and vegetarian/vegan options. Miko Poké is a big proponent of the ARTS: Accountable, Responsible, Traceable, Sustainable. They account, retain, and utilize all the fish they capture, which are logged daily for tracking and reporting.

2- Daisy Café & Cupcakery (Veg/GF): Daisy Café offers four great features. Cafe Breakfast and Lunch; Served from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM every day featuring inventive comfort food always made from scratch along with great Vegetarian and Gluten-Free selections. Try one of four signature breakfast egg Stratas or one of six specialty Meat Loaves. Dinner served Tuesdays through Saturdays featuring rotating Dinner Specials as well as 6 varieties of Meatloaf, Burgers, Soups, and Salads. They also serve beer and wine along with some classic cocktails. Cupcakery Cupcakes; Baked from scratch in-house daily. Quality ingredients, natural flavors--no artificial flavors or artificial colorings or preservatives. Gluten-Free selections daily! Also, they serve cheesecakes, tarts, flourless chocolate cake, and house-made pies! Coffeehouse; Serving locally-owned, fair-trade, BOOM! Coffee products and Madison's award-winning, fair-trade, organic Cha Cha Teas. Community; The Daisy is a great gathering place for everyone. Enjoy Porchlight Products on the menu and available for retail purchase. The Daisy is the largest customer of Porchlight Products in Madison. Free Wi-Fi!”

3- Luang Prabang (Lao/Thai): Luan Prabang is a Laotian/Thai food truck downtown that offers affordable and healthy southeast Asian food. This food truck offers plenty of healthy eating options from the burrito-sized avocado spring rolls to heaping freshly cooked portions of Pad Thai. Luang Prabang can be found around the Library Mall during the week. On the weekends, the cart migrates over to Capitol square on Saturday and the Northside farmers market on Sundays. Luang Prabang is the perfect complement to a sunny day downtown.

4- Banzo (Mediterranean): Banzo is one of Madison’s premiere Mediterranean restaurants and offers a variety of unique dishes and desserts. “This new age eatery offers a made-from-scratch menu is based on traditional Mediterranean recipes, with our own signature Banzo touch. Our focus is on high quality ingredients, which often come from local sources. Stop in for take-out, call us for delivery, or join us on our beautiful patio for lunch or dinner and a glass of craft beer or house-made sangria.” Shuk is Banzo’s second iteration that offers Mediterranean food with plenty of traditional dishes as well as unique one off creations. “You’ll find the same classic falafel, hummus, and shawarma along with new dishes that include batata (sweet potato) falafel, sustainably caught seafood, seasonal market veggies, and locally raised lamb, fresh off our char grill. Finish your meal with a turkish coffee or one of our home-made desserts, all made from scratch.”

5- The Green Owl: This primarily vegan restaurant, (one of the only in Madison), is located on the East side of town. It's whimsical atmosphere and love for owls will add to a delightful evening paired with delicious dairy and meat free options.

Quote of the Month

"We seem to be emotionally reactive around things like anger, jealousy, and envy-it's like they happen to us. The truth is we choose these reactions, and with practice and insight we can make entirely different choices when circumstances arise"- Jun Po Roshi

Credits:

Created with images by Swallowtail Garden Seeds - "Tulipa hort. - 1845" • r berndt - "Hyacinthe" • Pezibear - "painting landscape tree" • Sunja65 - "om spiritual spirituality" • Swallowtail Garden Seeds - "Root vegetables. Album Vilmorin. The vegetable garden (1850)" • chefranden - "Tree in a Meadow"

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