Be Healthy / Be Happy jANUARY ISSUE

MINDFULNESS : Mental Clarity; Morning Practice

Breathe In...and Breathe out... Upon awakening in the morning, allow yourself to connect with your own existence. Take note of your thoughts. What are you thinking? Place no judgement. Let the thoughts run their coarse and let them go. Feel your body. Feel your heart beating. How does it feel? Well-rested? Aches? Breathe in...Breathe out... Notice the natural energies coming alive within you. Feel grateful for being alive. You are alive. What does that feel like to you? This is Mind-Body Awareness. The mental clarity you experience is always present with each passing breath. We are simply required to slow down, breathe, and just be present. Let go of perceptions, opinions, ideas, thoughts, and just be. This practice helps with focus, improves thought processes, and provides mental stability throughout a day. Decisions are made with clarity as opposed to confusion. Basic goodness and kindness are cultivated which lie at the center of who we are. Clarity of mind can be experienced every day. Its accessible to us at any given moment. Be open to the clarity that exist within you.

  • The Science of Meditation: Acharya Fleet, a social activist/peacemaker, and Richard Davidson, the Founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison talk about how mindfulness can change society.

Inspire before you expire

Whether you have time to stop and smell the roses, or you’re busy and on the go, be mindful of your breathing! Being conscious of your breathing will help reduce anxiousness and help you better navigate chaotic life situations. Other than increasing your O2 saturation, breathing exercises can help:

  • Slow your heart rate
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Increase circulation
  • Reduce muscular tension and pain
  • Reduce stress hormones
  • Maintain and refocus concentration
  • Improve and maintain your mood

There is a whole gambit of breathing exercises a person can do to improve overall health. A way to get started is to be more conscious of your breathing at certain points in the day. Take note of your breathing and heart rate when you wake up, during your morning routine, when you are stressed, when you are calm, when you are emotional, and at the end of your day. By paying attention to your breathing at these times, you are able to figure out your “base-line breathing”. After figuring out your “base-line breathing”, try taking 2-3 deep breaths leading into or during times you feel stressed as well as times you need to be more focused. This practice will help you find your center and keep your perception in a mindful state.

In addition, the ancient Dravidian tradition of Yoga places high importance on breathing routines (Pranayama), the methods of which have been successful for centuries. Click the link below and give these 3 breathing exercises a try.

If you regularly practice this mindfulness breathing, a way to step it up to the next level is trying out the Wim Hof Method! Wim “The Ice Man” Hof has had great success with many of his techniques, especially his method of taking 25-30 power breaths. If you’re interested, click on the link and check it out.

FITNESS : Swimming

Stretching and strengthening exercises are a great way to keep the body limber and healthy especially in the winter months. One of the best low-impact activities one can do to maintain cardiovascular health while stretching/decompressing tissue is swimming. Swimming is an exercise that requires only your body. One is able to stay focused on ones body and breath without auditory and visual distractions while being mindfully aware of the body's energy. It can even be a meditative experience which is often times called 'meditation in action'. There are several local options to join a pool. Check out the “Corporate Discounts” on U Connect, select “Health and Wellness”, and explore your options regarding gym/swim memberships. If these facilities are out of your budget, dry land swimming routines can help give you similar benefits.

  • Below are videos on the basics of swimming for beginners. Form and breathing are very important when first learning how to swim.

Form

Breathing

Swimming etiquette is important to learn for beginners that are about to take a dive in the pool. There are many informal rules that experienced swimmers follow which can leave a beginner feeling confused. Click the link below to learn more.

NUTRITION : Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a great way to ensure you have nutritious vegetables all season long while supporting local farmers. A CSA is a program through which you buy a membership share from a local farmer. This share is a commitment to the farm for the growing season to help cover the cost of planting and farm operations. Then once the harvesting begins you receive a box of a variety of vegetables once a week. There are many local farms that have CSA options ranging from whole shares, half shares, bi-weekly shares, and even egg or poultry shares! Through CSA programs people can build a relationship with their local farmers and land. The vegetables received are seasonal and fresh. Each farm has a different program. Typically you will pay one lump sum to sign up. Sign up starts now and goes through the beginning of April. Then most shares are 20 to 24 weeks starting pick up in May once harvesting begins. Many health insurance plans, including Unity, will reimburse up to $200 a year for CSA membership. Most shares give you an abundance of vegetables! Some people have found it helpful to split a share with another person or family. UWHC has a few farms with pick up sites within the hospital and surrounding clinics. For this information please click the link below

To check out reimbursement options from Unity Insurance visit this site.

For more information about the history of CSAs, how they work, and participating local southern Wisconsin farms check out this website and video.

Joining a CSA allows us to realize how interconnected we are to each other for survival. The colorful vegetables we eat and crisp apples we bite into were cultivated by individuals with tremendous care for an entire season. We are fortunate enough to be a part of that process. We can begin to appreciate our food and its origins as we eat it in the present moment. We contemplate the long hours of planting, watering, feeding, harvesting, and shipping that went into making it possible to have a seemingly endless supply of fresh produce. We are able to learn about the different vegetables and fruits that grow at different times of the year. Most importantly, we develop appreciation for the many lives involved and lifestyles sustained because of this process of community involvement and awareness.

Healthy Recipes

MONTHLY QUOTE

"He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter." - John Burroughs

Credits:

Created with images by Unsplash - "woods snowy trees" • jarmoluk - "the stones stone on a white background" • Michaelmode - "swimmer ocean summer" • skeeze - "swimming competition swimmers" • artursfoto - "tomato cherry tomatoes" • jill111 - "snowflakes snow bokeh"

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