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7 Ways to Let Mindfulness Change Your View of the World

7 Ways to Let Mindfulness Change Your View of the World

As paradoxical as it sounds, mindfulness is a way to escape from your problems by addressing them. But contrary to what you might think, it doesn’t just happen in a quiet room. You can be mindful in any situation. Like a jedi, it helps to train yourself. Begin practicing in a meditative setting with no distractions. Then, take your practice into the world.

Immersive activities are a perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness. An immersive activity is one in which you concentrate on process. You’re putting one foot in front of the other. While you’re doing this, any type of thought might come knocking at your door, unbidden.

Don’t judge your thoughts. Thoughts, when they surface from the subconscious to the conscious mind, are equivalent to things that appear in the field of vision. This rock has its particular texture, its color, and its shape (even its taste!). That thought has its particular context, its substance, its subject, and its associations. A thought is not good or bad unless you judge it. If you judge a thought, hang on to it, and brood over it, that’s when it affects you negatively.

Try these activities and practice monitoring your breathing. Practice being mindful of your thoughts and setting.

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1. Write a poem.

writing

    Poetry facilitates mindfulness because it’s the act of recording your thoughts. In this case, the thoughts you write down can center on your surroundings — but they don’t have to. They can be thoughts about your thoughts. This act of poetry is an exercise of mindfulness, translated onto the page. Just as you don’t judge your thoughts, don’t judge what you’re writing. The more mindful you are of your body and surroundings, the more thoughts pop up. This is the wellspring of creativity.

    Having trouble getting started? There are poetry writing exercises that can help.

    2. Take a walking tour.

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    Venice_002

      Vacations can be full of frenzied efforts to do as much as possible. But on your next vacation, consider taking a walking tour. The slow pace will help you immerse yourself in the movements of your body and your surroundings. There are some excellent cities for a walking tour, such as Venice, which is primarily vehicle-free. Copenhagen, Seattle, Paris, and Florence are also well-suited for walking tours. New surroundings are excellent for mindfulness, because they don’t present old associations.

      3. Ride a horse.

      horseback

        There’s a reason why equine-assisted therapy helps people who suffer from PTSD, as well as drug and alcohol dependency. Interacting with a horse helps lower blood pressure and stress levels. It helps people cope with anxiety and anger. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) victims, in particular, can’t help but return to thoughts associated with trauma. Riding a horse helps them focus on the present. Take a horseback ride and pay attention to the feel of the animal, its muscular movement, and its breathing. Study the trail as it passes. Note your posture and how you hold the reins. This will improve your mindfulness.

        4. Adopt a dog.

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        Young_boy_petting_his_dog

          There’s been plenty of research on why pets make us happy. They make us more conscientious — more mindful — and more social. Specifically, petting a dog causes your brain to release the neurotransmitters dopamine and oxytocin, as well as the hormone prolactin. Dopamine and oxytocin are both associated with rewards and pleasure. In one study, adopting a dog helped bring down blood pressure levels in hypertensive New York City stockbrokers. The very act of petting a dog requires you to be mindful of the animal. Taking a dog for a walk will help you focus on the world as a dog sees it — and we all know dogs are some of the most mindful, aware animals in the world.

          5. Watch birds.

          birding

            Birdwatching (or “birding,” as some like to call it) is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the environment. You’ll concentrate directly on the plumage and movements, as well as the space where birds come and go — just like thoughts. In a way, birding is mindfulness incarnate. The Audubon Society has some tips on how to begin birding. It helps to consult a field guide to learn about the birds and where they live. Make sure you have binoculars. And most importantly, just go do it. I recommend simply immersing yourself in an area where you know there are plenty of birds.

            6. Take a hike.

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            hikingrocks

              This is the classic activity for mindfulness. Walking in the woods is great for your health. It promotes awareness of your surroundings and relieves stress. Like horseback riding, hiking is a form of therapy for PTSD. Take your time while hiking, observe the trees, undergrowth, and wildlife carefully. If your thoughts start to stray, let them. But let the woods bring your thoughts back to where you are.

              7. Plant a garden.

              16338-a-woman-enjoying-gardening-outdoors-pv

                If you’d like to know how to plant a vegetable garden, it’s key to find a good location that will get plenty of sun and has the right soil. Uproot weeds, and turn the soil about a foot deep. Make sure it’s fertilized. Plan where you want to put your plants. The point is this: all of these activities are helping you concentrate on the space. You’re focused on the process, and the practice of mindfulness encourages you to focus on that process. After all, if you focus on the results — the hypothetical future — you’re not there with the garden, growing with it.

                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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                8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

                8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

                Vegetarianism has been around for a long time, finding favor with many people, including Pythagoras clear back around 580 B.C. It’s been presented as one of the most healthy diets around, including being touted by the Egyptians to the point of abstaining from meat and animal clothing due to karmic beliefs. The vegetarian society (vegsoc.org) defines vegetarianism as:

                “Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”

                While it’s pretty obvious that there are multiple benefits to following a vegetarian diet, it’s always good to be informed about the cons of this dietary choice as well.

                Outlined below are several things you might want to be aware of before you say good-bye to meat forever. Whether you are a current vegetarian, or contemplating making a shift, keep in mind these 8 things to keep yourself healthy.

                1. You could suffer from B12 vitamin deficiency

                The B vitamins are especially important for stress management, adrenal health, and brain function. Vegetarians in particularly are at risk for B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is attached to the protein in animal products and without enough B12 you can suffer from depression, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate.

                Due to its attachment to animal proteins, B12 is the hardest for vegetarians to obtain when they don’t eat dairy or eggs in their diet. This essential little vitamin can be found in some algae and has been added to some yeast, but research doesn’t currently provide enough information to say whether or not these forms of B12 are of good quality and can provide adequate supplementation.

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                The body is unable to make this vitamin, meaning it has to be taken in through food or supplementation. Essential for making red blood cells, DNA, nerves and various other function in the body, a Harvard Health Medical report in January of 2013 found symptoms of a B12 deficiency can present in sneaky ways including depression, paranoia, delusion, and loss of taste and smell.

                2.  You could suffer from higher states of anxiety/depression, lower sense of well-being

                According to a CBS Atlanta report, vegetarians suffered from a higher rate of anxiety and depression than their counterparts. Read the full report here. Depression and/or anxiety can be a result of many possible deficiencies including essential vitamins and amino acids you can find only in meat products, including Omega-3s from wild caught salmon.

                Without the correct supplementation and proper understanding of diet, including the importance of micro and macro nutrients, depression and anxiety can become a serious problem, bringing down the overall health and well-being of vegetarians.

                Even though reports on health and lifestyle show vegetarians have a lower BMI and lower consumption of alcohol and drugs, it also shows they suffer from more chronic illnesses and more visits to the doctor than their meat eating counterparts.

                3. You could suffer from excess weight

                When you go vegetarian it opens up a lot of food, but just because there isn’t any meat in front of you, it doesn’t mean it’s necessary healthy. Though pizza and beer technically fall under the vegetarian diet, it’s not a healthy choice for your waist line.

                Just because being a vegetarian is associated with a healthier lifestyle in many cases, doesn’t mean it’s always true. Making bread and pasta your staples and not understanding where your protein sources should be coming from, can pack on body fat, which increases your chances of health issues such as diabetes and chronic inflammation.

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                If the choice to go vegetarian happens on a whim without the proper understanding of food control, portion, and nutritionally dense alternatives you can find yourself reaching for vegetarian foods, which could cause serious problems down the road. Nuts are a good example, but just because something is touted as healthy, it doesn’t mean, your should eat it in excess.

                Eating too many calories in fat will still cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in carbs will cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in protein will cause you to gain weight. See a pattern here? Not to mention you’ll miss out on important nutrients the body needs by over-eating in one area and under-eating in another. Re-read number 2.

                4. You could have a higher risk of heart disease

                Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables should be a goal we all strive for, but when you cut out meat, you also cut out what is known as complete protein, which you find in animal by-products. Complete means more than just the essential amino acids, it means those amino acids contain dietary sulfur. Without enough dietary sulfur, which is found almost exclusively in fish and pasture feed grass beef, the body will struggle with the biological activities of both protein and enzymes.

                The effects cascade downward, effecting bones, joints, tissues, and even metabolic issues. In short, a low intake of sulfur associated with a vegetarian diet can result in high blood levels of homocysteine, which may lead to blood clots in your arteries, blood clots raise your risk of stroke and heart attack. To read the full report click here.

                5. You could suffer from low cholesterol

                I know, at first you’re thinking, wait, low cholesterol is a good thing. Yes, it is, when it’s LDL cholesterol, which you get from eating an unhealthy diet, but low HDL (good cholesterol) can cause serious health issues. HDL, according to the mayo clinic, is in every cell in our body and can help fend off heart disease, not enough of it though, and too much LDL can go the other way, will be building up plaque in the arteries and leading to heart disease.

                Cholesterol, the good kind, is actually vitally important to the making of every steroid hormone in the body! There are six, and without cholesterol the body is unable to convert hormones, and it can cause damage in the endocrine system.

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                A vegetarian without a balanced diet, meaning enough protein, enough veggies, and enough good fats, could disrupt his or her adrenals, which are directly connected to the endocrine system and the body’s ability to make and synthesize the hormones your body needs. The six major hormones in the body help do everything from metabolizing carbohydrates, to the electrolyte balance, to making sure if you’re a woman you can carry a healthy baby through pregnancy.

                6. You could suffer from lower bone density and osteoporosis.

                Osteoporosis, the disease where the bones get thinner, weaker, and fractures become a high risk with day to day movements. It’s often associated with the older generation, but your risk for osteoporosis increases with a lower bone density. Bone density can be directly related to diet and lifestyle, along with many other factors.

                When it comes to eating a vegetarian diet it’s possible to miss getting enough of the right nutrients, causing the bones to begin to break down. If your vegetarian diet isn’t balanced and providing you with the correct nutrients and the means to absorb the correct nutrients, your body could begin to break down.

                Recently, Professor Tuan Nguyen of Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research led a review of both Australian and Vietnamese research around the bone density of vegetarian versus their meat eating counterparts. Helping Professor Nguyen was Dr. Ho-Pham Thuc Lan from Pham Ngoc Thac University of Medicine in Vietnam. The review was designed to sort though years of research surrounded by discrepancies and inadequate clinical data.

                At the end of the review, with vegetarianism rising to around 5% of the populace in the western continents, and with wide spread osteoporosis reports – 2 million in Australia and closer to 54 million in America – the decrease in bone density of vegetarians is a serious issue which needs to be addressed, if you’ve cut meat and animal by-products out of your life.

                7. You could be at a higher risk for colorectal cancer

                Cancer seems to be running rampant through America, and it’s within everyone’s best interest to do all they can to keep their body healthy and happy to prevent cancer from finding a place to grow. In most studies it’s been found vegetarians are at lower risk for cancer, but a European Oxford study with over 63 thousand men and women in the United Kingdom found the risk for colorectal cancer higher in vegetarians than in meat-eaters.

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                Extra care needs to be taken when establishing a diet to ensure the body is receiving and able to up take all the important nutritional benefits and requirements from food.

                8. You could end up eating more processed food

                Depending on how deep you choose to go as a vegetarian, it could create the need to substitute a lot of food and recipe ingredients in your diet, but what happens when you cut out meat, eggs, and dairy and your recipe calls for meat, eggs, and/or dairy? You have to end up using a “healthy” vegetarian alternative which include stabilizers, thickeners, and various other ingredients you can’t pronounce.

                Lauren from Empowered Substance puts it into a great perspective with her comparison of Earth Balance, a vegetarian approved butter replacement compared to butter. She points out the ingredients in Earth Balance consist of: Palm fruit oil, canola oil, safflower oil, flax oil, olive oil, salt, natural flavor, pea protein, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid, annatto color. Meanwhile, the ingredient list in butter, is much shorter. It’s butter.

                That’s only one example. To appeal to the vegetarian lifestyle food manufacturers have found alternatives which fall under vegetarian, but aren’t necessarily healthy for you. Consider baked goods, which though vegetarian can be filled with more sugars and binders than regular baked goods with diary products. It’s the same with vegetarian items like mac and cheese, without using real cheese you may just be getting oil and thickeners, without even the smallest amount of nutritional value.

                The reality is, most vegetarian substitutes contain the same junky alternatives which even meat eaters should be avoiding to remain happy and healthy.

                On one final note, whichever lifestyle you choose to work with, remember anything in excess – including protein and animal by products – isn’t healthy for the body. It takes a wide spectrum of food and nutrients to keep the beautiful body you travel around in all day running in prime condition.

                 

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