The leaves are gone. The cranberry-walnut bread is gone. Winter’s cold has sunk its claws into the leaf-strewn earth. It is fall here in Boston, but the temperatures have dropped dramatically already and I fear we have a cold, cold winter ahead of us. I love the beautiful fall colors, the cozy smells, and the seasonal flavors, (Pumpkin everywhere! Quick – get it before it’s gone!) but I hate to think that winter is coming.
Nonetheless it will come and with the passing of time so will the spring and then the summer. Life beats on and the sun rises and sets again and again. For now we must embrace all that we have and enjoy the moment.
Speaking of enjoying the moment, I have been reading about meditation lately in an effort to take a more holistic view of health. As a kid I always thought of meditation in the stereotypical way – sitting with your legs crossed and your fingers forming O’s in the air while you hummed “ommm” and reached a higher state of being. However, from what I’ve recently read, it seems meditation is not about reaching enlightenment in the way I may have originally thought. Meditation is about being present in the moment. It’s a practice that takes, well, practice, but can be used to enrich your life and daily experience. Meditation goes along with mindful eating. If you are present with your food and in the moment when you eat a meal, you are less likely to overeat and more likely to feel satisfaction from your meal. The act of meditation may not help you to reach Nirvana, but the act of being present and mindful may eventually give you more satisfaction with your life.
If changing what we eat does not fix our food woes, perhaps changing the way we think can. (Read this interesting article for a lesson on awareness.) Taking a moment to relax and reflect before a meal can help you to ease into digestion mode. Eating slowly and in good company will help as well. These are strategies to relax and prepare yourself for a meal eaten mindfully. If our lives do not satisfy, there are many things we may want from our food instead – comfort, companionship, acceptance – but we are unlikely to get them from the food itself. Practicing meditation helps us to live in the moment and be thankful and aware of what we are living and receiving right now. I am grateful for the cold weather that helps me to appreciate the warm weather.
With the cold weather brings the root vegetables. I love sweet potatoes in particular and beets I enjoy in moderation. Mostly I love their beautiful fall colors and their naturally sweet flavors. Check out those swirls in the beets! Since I’m always suckered into buying those root vegetable chips at the grocery store (like Terra or Trader Joe’s) I decided I’d try making my own. I sliced my veggies as thin as I could without slicing my fingers off (no mandolin slicer here), tossed them in oil and salt, and roasted away. They were delicious, but they didn’t get as crispy as I wanted them to without burning so I’ll have to play with the recipe more. Nonetheless they satisfied that sweet and salty craving and kept me from eating a whole bag of chips (not usually my weakness).
Being mindful and practicing meditation is sometimes easier said than done. On a daily basis there are so many things going on in our lives and going through our minds that it can be tough to remember all the promises we’ve made to ourselves every moment – eat less, lose weight, be kind, be patient. Sometimes being present in the moment is the best we can do.
Thanksgiving is coming. Be grateful.