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How to Gain an Immediate Experience of Mindfulness


How to Gain an Immediate Experience of Mindfulness


Standing up for your Mind

As a way to gain an immediate experience of living and abiding in the moment, I have started to introduce the practice of Mindful standing in the live Meditation classes that I teach.

Mindfulness practice is sometimes seen as having to focus exclusively on mind training exercises that we engage in, when we’re sitting down. Of course this is an important element, however it can be more far reaching than this.

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If we are creative we can introduce Mindfulness training to all elements of our life, so our practice starts to become holistic and integrated. One formal practice that can help us to start this process is Mindful Standing. Learning this technique gives us an appreciation that Mindfulness is much more that sitting down and closing our eyes.

If we check our everyday life, much of the time we are standing. Standing up can sometimes seem like a bit of a chore, something that we have to do when we are waiting, or there is no seat available. With this skillful, standing practice we can learn to transform the times that we stand into a Mindfulness training. No longer will we feel the need to immediately look at our mobile phone when we are waiting for a train or bus, no longer will standing and waiting be frustrating or tiring.
The importance of this practice became apparent recently, when I arrived at Manchester train station and stood up from my seat awaiting to leave the train.  There was a delay of around three minutes with the opening of the door. I couldn’t go back to my seat and I couldn’t move forward. I just had to stand there.  It dawned on me that now is the time to practice Mindful standing. Rather than thinking about what I need to be doing in the future or getting frustrated with the situation, just simply take the opportunity to abide in the present moment.
So how did I practice Mindful Standing and how can we practice?

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Follow these tips to get started:

  • Stand up in a posture with both legs parallel to your shoulders and your feet pointing straight in front of you.
  • Bend your legs very slightly.
  • Feel the sensation of your feet against the floor.
  • Experience the sensation of being rooted like a tree in the floor.
  • Allow your back to straighten and your shoulders to relax.
  • Put your right hand in your left and place them on your navel (if you have something in one of your hands then simply place one hand on your navel.)
  • Spend a few moments, checking in with your body and noticing any sensations.
  • Draw your attention fully into your body.
  • Enjoy the experience and joy of being a human being, abiding in a human body.
  • Notice the movement of your hands – they arise and dissolve in time with your breath.
  • Follow this experience for a short time.
  • Allow your breath to bring you into the present moment.
  • For as long as you feel comfortable abide with this experience.

For me after doing this practice for a few minutes in Manchester while I was waiting for the train door to open, I was left with a feeling of presence, renewed energy and focus. With my mind and body having a recharge in this way, the shape of the rest of my day was altered and improved.

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If I am guiding this practice formally then I will usually have the entire session lasting five minutes. However with creative thinking this practice can be shortened to three seconds. Use it, if you have a few moments to wait in a queue. It’s like we’re taking a quick check-in to the present moment.

One brief Mindful standing practice could alter the course of our day, week, month, year, or even life.  Those moments when we get really frustrated or angry with someone, which can affect a relationship, position at work, someone’s faith of confidence in us, can be pacified with a few moments of Mindfulness.

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So rather than the times in our life when we are waiting, just being dead time that we fill with nervous energy, they become Mindful moments that bring peace, calm and focus into our world.
Also standing has a very beneficial effect on our physical health, in today’s world where much of the time we are sitting, companies and business are now encouraging their staff to stand, sometimes when working. With an growing increase in desks available that allow us to stand in the office.

So next time we hop on a bus, tram or train, let’s think twice before jumping for that seat or being distracted by our mobile phone, stand up for our mind and try a Mindfulness practice!

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on July 28, 2020

14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

Diet trends may come and go, but a low-GI diet remains one of the few that has been shown to include benefits based on science. Low GI foods provide substantial health benefits over those with a high index, and they are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

What is GI? Glycemic index (GI) is the rate at which the carbohydrate content of a food is broken down into glucose and absorbed from the gut into the blood. When you eat foods containing carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream.[1]

The higher the GI of a food, the faster it will be broken down and cause your blood glucose (sugar) to rise. Foods with a high GI rating are digested very quickly and cause your blood sugar to spike. This is why it’s advisable to stick to low GI foods as much as possible, as the carbohydrate content of low GI foods will be digested slowly, allowing a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels.

Foods with a GI scale rating of 70 or more are considered to be high GI. Foods with a rating of 55 or below are considered low GI foods.

It’s important to note that the glycemic index of a food doesn’t factor in the quantity that you eat. For example, although watermelon has a high glycemic index, the water and fiber content of a standard serving of water means it won’t have a significant impact on your blood sugar.

Like watermelon, some high GI foods (such as baked potatoes) are high in nutrients. And some low GI foods (such as corn chips) contain high amounts of trans fats.

In most cases, however, the GI is an important means of gauging the right foods for a healthy diet.

Eating mainly low GI foods every day helps to provide your body with a slow, continuous supply of energy. The carbohydrates in low GI foods is digested slowly, so you feel satisfied for longer. This means you’ll be less likely to suffer from fluctuating sugar levels that can lead to cravings and snacking.

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Let’s continue with some of the best examples of low GI foods.

1. Quinoa

GI: 53

Quinoa has a slightly higher GI than rice or barley, but it contains a much higher proportion of protein. If you don’t get enough protein from the rest of your diet, quinoa could help. It’s technically a seed, so it’s also high in fiber–again, more than most grains. It’s also gluten-free, which makes it excellent for those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

2. Brown Rice (Steamed)

GI: 50

Versatile and satisfying, brown rice is one of the best low GI foods and is a staple for many dishes around the world. It’s whole rice from which only the husk (the outermost layer) is removed, so it’s a great source of fiber. In fact, brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, improve digestive function, promote fullness, and may even help prevent the formation of blood clots. Just remember to always choose brown over white!

3. Corn on the Cob

GI: 48

Although it tastes sweet, corn on the cob is a good source of slow-burning energy (and one of the tastiest low GI foods). It’s also a good plant source of Vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron, all of which are required for the healthy production of red blood cells in the body. It’s healthiest when eaten without butter and salt!

4. Bananas

GI: 47

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Bananas are a superfood in many ways. They’re rich in potassium and manganese and contain a good amount of vitamin C. Their low GI rating means they’re great for replenishing your fuel stores after a workout.

They are easy to add to smoothies, cereal, or kept on your desk for a quick snack. The less ripe they are, the lower the sugar content is! As one of the best low GI foods, it’s a great addition to any daily diet.

5. Bran Cereal

GI: 43

Bran is famous for being one of the highest cereal sources of fiber. It’s also rich in a huge range of nutrients: calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and a host of B vitamins. Although bran may not be to everyone’s tastes, it can easily be added to other cereals to boost the fiber content and lower the overall GI rating.

6. Natural Muesli

GI: 40

Muesli–when made with unsweetened rolled oats, nuts, dried fruit, and other sugar-free ingredients–is one of the healthiest ways to start the day. It’s also very easy to make at home with a variety of other low GI foods. Add yogurt and fresh fruit for a nourishing, energy-packed breakfast.

7. Apples

GI: 40

Apple skin is a great source of pectin, an important prebiotic that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. Apples are also high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants, and contain a good amount of vitamin C. They are best eaten raw with the skin on! Apples are one of a number of fruits[2] that have a low glycemic index. Be careful which fruits you choose, as many have a large amount of natural sugars[3].

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8. Apricots

GI: 30

Apricots provide both fiber and potassium, which make them an ideal snack for both athletes and anyone trying to keep sugar cravings at bay. They’re also a source of antioxidants and a range of minerals.

Apricots can be added to salads, cereals, or eaten as part of a healthy mix with nuts at any time of the day.

9. Kidney Beans

GI: 29

Kidney beans and other legumes provide a substantial serving of plant-based protein, so they can be used in lots of vegetarian dishes if you’re looking to adopt a plant-based diet[4]. They’re also packed with fiber and a variety of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. They are great in soups, stews, or with (whole grain) tacos.

10. Barley

GI: 22

Barley is a cereal grain that can be eaten in lots of ways. It’s an excellent source of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), fiber, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium. It also contains beta-glucans, a type of fiber that can support gut health and has been shown to reduce appetite and food intake.

Please note that barley does contain gluten, which makes it unsuitable for anyone who is Celiac[5] or who follows a gluten-free diet. In this case, gluten-free alternatives might include quinoa, buckwheat, or millet.

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11. Raw Nuts

GI: 20

Most nuts have a low GI of between 0 and 20, with cashews slightly higher at around 22. Nuts, as one of the best low GI foods, are a crucial part of the Mediterranean diet[6] and are really the perfect snack: they’re a source of plant-based protein, high in fiber, and contain healthy fats. Add them to smoothies and salads to boost the nutritional content. Try to avoid roasted and salted nuts, as these are made with large amounts of added salt and (usually) trans fats.

12. Carrots

GI: 16

Raw carrots are not only a delicious low GI vegetable, but they really do help your vision! They contain vitamin A (beta carotene) and a host of antioxidants. They’re also low-calorie and high in fiber, and they contain good amounts of vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. Carrots are great for those monitoring their weight as they’ve been linked to lower cholesterol levels.

13. Greek Yogurt

GI: 12

Unsweetened Greek yogurt is not only low GI, but it’s an excellent source of calcium and probiotics, as well. Probiotics help to keep your gut microbiome in balance and support your overall digestive health and immune function. Greek yogurt makes a healthy breakfast, snack, dessert, or a replacement for dip. The most common probiotic strains found in yogurt are Streptococcus thermophilus[7] (found naturally in yogurt) and Lactobacillus acidophilus[8] (which is often added by the manufacturer). You can also look into probiotic supplements for improving your gut health.

14. Hummus

GI: 6

When made the traditional way from chickpeas and tahini, hummus is a fantastic, low-GI dish. It’s a staple in many Middle Eastern countries and can be eaten with almost any savory meal. Full of fiber to maintain satiety and feed your good gut bacteria, hummus is great paired with freshly-chopped vegetables, such as carrots and celery.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to eat healthier or simply cut down on snacking throughout the day, eating low GI foods is a great way to get started. Choose any of the above foods for a healthy addition to your daily diet and start feeling better for longer.

More Tips on Eating Healthy

Featured photo credit: Alexander Mils via unsplash.com

Reference

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