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23 Impressive Sights to Mindfully Experience

Photo courtesy of Pic Fix

I recently took a weekend trip to Washington, D.C. with my newfound dedication to living mindfully. It was, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable vacations of my life, and I credit that to the fact that I remained focused on staying in the moment at all times. My mind was blown by the number of things I had never noticed about the city before. I took immense pleasure from simply sitting on a bench that overlooked the Potomac River. I made a conscious effort to experience each moment for what it had to offer, without looking toward the future and what was next on our itinerary.

The satisfaction we can gain by mindfully approaching a wide variety of sense-stimulating destinations can significantly enhance and enrich our life experiences. Here are some excellent places to test your ability to live mindfully:

1. New York’s Central Park in the fall

2. The Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC

3. The view from the Eiffel Tower at night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


4. Lucy the Elephant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Dachau Concentration Camp

6. Lavender Fields in France at sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Portland’s Japanese Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Machu Piccu

9. Times Square on New Year’s Eve

10. The view of Bora Bora from the Thalasso Spa Resort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. The frozen waterfalls in Pamukkale, Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12. Longwood Gardens at Christmastime

13. A redwood tree in California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14. Mardis Gras

15. Ka Tao beach, Thailand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16. Miami Beach

17. Yellowstone National Park in the winter

18. The Black Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19. The tomb of Christopher Columbus in Seville, Spain

20. Niagara Falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21. The Met

22. One World Trade Center

23. The Statue of Liberty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3. Geofftheref
4. Amy_Kearns
6. Vainsang
7. ahp_ibanez
10. Pierre Lesage
11. Armando Lodi
13. Drburtoni
15. Narisa
18. LinksmanJD
20. ipeters61
23.
photosinframes

 

 

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Making Summer Memories that Last

Photo courtesy of Lin Pernille

Although it does indeed feel like the summer of 2012 is flying by faster than any summer that has come before it, we can still make the most out of the last few weeks of August. Let’s make some warm memories that will keep away the winter blues in a few months, while we still have a chance. I, for one, will be making a few last ditch attempts to suck the most life out of this summer that I can. The hot sun, the long days, fireflies blinking at us as we sit ’round the tiki torches in the evenings that seem to stretch on endlessly, well, that will all be gone in a few short weeks. Or, as it will most likely seem: the blink of an eye.

Even though the responsibility-free summers of our youth are gone, it is important to connect with our inner child more than we do. We need to breathe in this blissful season and take some time off from the daily grind! (And not run errands all day.)  As a friend of mine reminded me today, “Summer’s almost over,” I made a decision. I’m going to make the most out of the rest of it so that when I’m mentally fried during the middle of winter, I have some awesome memories to look back on.  Here are some of the activities I plan to mindfully enjoy in the next three or four weeks:

  1. Go to an awesome water park.
  2. Have a picnic.
  3. Spend 10 minutes outdoors every day before work.
  4. Read a book in a comfortable outdoor spot.
  5. Go boogie boarding in the ocean.
  6. Skip stones at the nearest pond.
  7. Hike through the wilderness and pick wildflowers.
  8. Go to the boardwalk and breathe in the awesome smells of summer fun.
  9. Play in an open air arcade.
  10. Do yoga outside.
  11. Fall asleep on the beach.
  12. Eat ice cream on the boardwalk.
  13. Be a tourist, even if it’s near where you live.
  14. Do a handstand in the pool.
  15. Go skinny dipping.
  16. Enjoy as much fresh produce as humanly possible.

As summer turns to fall and our tans begin to gradually fade, at least we’ll have these warm memories to tide us over until next year.  Be sure to be mindfully present in whatever you do so that you can recall the fun, warm times when the snow is falling outside your window.  What do you still have in store this summer?

 

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The REAL Reason You Shouldn’t be Eating at Chik-Fil-A

It’s amazing to me the number of people who have completely given up eating at a popular fast food restaurant based purely on a principle that has nothing to do with food.

Whether or not your opinions on gay marriage line up with Dan Cathy’s is totally up to you, of course, but personally I’d like to see more people deciding what to eat based on whether or not the food lines up with what the body needs.

It can be easy to make mindless choices when it comes to eating when the rhythm of daily life seems to demand it.  You can become zombified, mindlessely shoveling in food ordered through a window. You’ve got places to go, things to do.

Since food is what fuels the body and mind, you’ll soon have no place to go at all if you aren’t more mindful about how and what you eat. Reckless bingeing followed by disastrous dieting has led to copious amounts of obesity and a real lack of nutrients that healthy bodies need to succeed.

Mindful eating involves slowing down and checking in with yourself before diving in. Does your body actually need fuel right now or are you just bored, sad, or angry?  Making sure that you are eating for the right reasons is the first step to mindful eating.

If you have checked in with yourself and have decided that your craving for food is due to a mind/body need, the next step is to make mindful choices about what type of fuel you put in your engine. Make thoughtful decisions so that you eat a variety of foods every day, including fruits, vegetables and plenty of protein. If your check-in shows that you’re regularly craving sugar or fat, you’ll have to look into the reasons or factors for that and make some life changes accordingly.

Lastly, once you have made a wise food choice, spend extra time enjoying it. Eat slowly, and really contemplate the flavors, textures, and spices that exist in your food. Eating mindfully involves turning off outside distractions. Don’t eat in front of the TV or computer – the distractions keep you from knowing when you are adequately full. Eating in relative silence is actually the best idea. It allows you to focus only on the task at hand, and when your body is properly fueled, you will be able to recognize it.

Chew slowly while you eat, and spend time tasting each bite. Try to really appreciate the taste and sensation of each morsel before swallowing. Avoid having the next bite ready and waiting on your fork. Enjoy a bite fully, contemplate it, and then take another thoughtful taste.  I have to tell you – as research for this article, I began mindfully eating this past weekend. It was absolutely mindblowing. I have never enjoyed a meal so much, and I stopped with half of my plate still full. Amazing!

You don’t have to have an hour-long silent meal every day of the week – that’s just not practical for most people, but you can aim for a once-weekly mindful meal and begin making better overall choices before stuffing your belly. Only this time, make your choices based on the issue at hand – your health.

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As a Thank You to all of our loyal readers, this week we will be doing our first ever FREE GIVEAWAY!  To be eligible, you must be subscribed to DailyPath, and you can do that by clicking the sign up box on our Home Page. There will never be a cost to you and we will never try to sell you anything (unless we write a book, of course.)   :)

The winner will be mailed a brand new copy of the book Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food by Jan Chozen Bays. It’s a fantastic book and we wanted to be able to share it with a lucky reader. We’ll be drawing the random winner next Monday morning and the results will be announced here on the blog.  Good luck and thanks for reading.  We’re all in this together!

 

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Does Your Body Language Need a Translator?

Photo courtesy of Jose Goulao

Self-awareness is a huge factor in the equation of true happiness. Part of being totally in touch with ourselves includes realizing the effects we have on others, both good and bad. To reach our ultimate life goals, it’s likely that we’re going to have many interactions with people from all different walks of life. Today’s Mindful Monday focuses on being aware of what we’re saying to others…when we’re not saying anything at all.

I recently came to terms with how much my body language was saying about me. For years, I was told by anyone within a ten mile radius of my face to “smile more!” Another phrase I heard a lot was, “I’m sorry, you must be busy. I’ll come back later.” While I used to stand firmly in denial of the image my serious facial expressions and constant fidgeting were portraying, now I finally get it. My body language was causing me to be mis-read, and the translation did not look good at all.

Most people have a number of physical gestures they perform on a regular basis without even realizing it. For many, these gestures could be sending signals to other people,  causing them to draw inaccurate conclusions. To ensure that you’re sending the right signals, try being more mindful of some of the following body language:

  • Fake smiling (or not smiling at all) - Try not to force a smile when you’re just not feeling it – people can tell you’re faking it when you only use your lip muscles, but as you begin to feel happier in life, let it show with a crinkle in your eye and a big ol’ grin!
  • Biting your lips – In psychologists’ terms, this means that you’re uncomfortable with the situation you’re in. Resist the urge to bite, lick or nibble your lips too much. Try wearing chapstick or lip balm.
  • Avoiding eye contact – Not looking someone directly in the eye makes it appear that you’re lacking in the self-confidence department.
  • Rolling your eyes – I used to do this a lot until I realized how rude and arrogant it made me look. Now, to keep the temptation in check, I widen my eyes instead of rolling them upward to avoid insulting people.
  • Picking or biting your nails – If you want to look really meek, avoid eye contact and chew on your nails. If you’d rather avoid this habit,  try to keep your hands in front of you during conversations and touch your pointer fingers together as a reminder not to pick.
  • Acknowledging distractions – I know that someone is really interested in what I’m saying when they ignore distractions when I’m talking. If you regularly turn away from conversations to attend to phone calls or other interruptions, you are sending a signal of disinterest or disrespect.

When you send strong signals to others that you are truly interested in what they have to offer (by sitting still, leaning toward them, keeping eye contact, smiling and nodding), chances are good that they are going to respond accordingly by treating you well in return.

The saying goes that you get what you give, and if what you want is respect (from yourself and others), make sure your body language bodes well for your your success.

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Can You Really Make Yourself Smarter?

Photo courtesy of Hey Paul Studios

As we’re sliding into week three of our Memory Improvement Project, this week’s Mindful Monday is going to address some specific strategies to actually begin training your brain.

We started out by gaining some mental clarity, creating a blank slate of sorts for the work ahead of us. Once we had implemented some very important behavioral changes, we added some memory boosting supplements to our daily regimen.

Don’t worry if you’re struggling with the process a bit. As I previously mentioned, I have trouble getting enough sleep.  However, after doing a lot of reading on the sleep/memory connection, I had an ‘a-ha’ moment during which I realized that without adequate sleep, my brain will never function at full capacity. Getting eight hours a night has become one of my top priorities, and so far I’m noticing a real difference in my ability to focus on tasks.

Now that I have my brain running more optimally, I’m ready to take the next step in the process. We have billions of neurons firing upstairs and, as it turns out, we have a choice about some of the connections those neurons are making! We’re not on a wild goose chase here, people! We can actually change our brains. Here is what I’m going to try this week:

Make neuro-choices – When I say that we have a choice about what connections are being made in our brains, I’m not kidding. It’s been shown that the neurons that fire together, wire together, so to speak. In other words, “practice makes perfect.” The human brain has a great ability to adapt the way it works - called neuroplasticity – and I plan to use it to my advantage.

Walk my way to a better brain – Although getting physical in any way has been shown to boost brain power, walking in particular has a positive effect on the area of the brain that controls memory.

Play mind games -  Brain stimulating games like Brain Trainer by Luminosity increase blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex and are conveniently downloadable for iPhone and iPod Touch. I plan to play at least one level a day, right after I:

Indulge – Intake of limited amounts of caffeine can improve short term memory, so I’ve decided to take six ounces of caffiene each day immediately before beginning my brain training.

Listen to more music – Studies show that people who listen to music are smarter and have more emotional intelligence than those who don’t. Music strengthens the brain’s right-hemisphere.

Read – When we read, our brains have to absorb a lot of information in short order. This challenges our thinking and memory skills. I haven’t made much time for reading lately, and I plan to read 15 minutes of my book each day at lunch time.

We don’t have to sit idly by and watch our brain power fade, and there is medical research to prove it. By exercising our brains just like we exercise our bodies, we can increase our neural connections just like we build our biceps.

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