It’s Time:14 New Practices to Nurture Your Body, Mind, Soul & Spirit

by Guest Blogger on January 16, 2014 · 0 comments

It’s Time:14 New Practices to Nurture Your Body, Mind, Soul & Spirit

By Chef Mark Cleveland of Avanti Cafe

1.) Share, teach and feel the joy of giving

The Dalai Lama once said:

‘Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.’  

This is true. Sharing grounds us with our fellow human beings and reminds us that we are social animals while boosting our self-esteem.  There’s a most interesting NOVA episode on PBS that proposes the theory that our desire to teach what we have learned is the core of what makes us human. And, of course, we all fundamentally know that it is through giving of ourselves that we achieve the greatest personal satisfaction, self- awareness and connection with others.  If you are not yet familiar with Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, CA – then you’ll enjoy hearing his interview on NPR’s, On Being. Teaching, sharing & giving need not be grandly academic. It’s a simple mind space of internal generosity that each of us can practice daily.

AW 2.) Eat healthy at least 60 to 90% of the time

We call this the Avanti Food Philosophy. Don’t stress over it. Start wherever you are now and nudge yourself methodically in a cleaner food direction. All the micro-nutrients you need to keep your body healthy are in the simple whole foods you’ll find in every grocery store and farmers market. But, you need to actually eat them to receive their benefits. There is no downside to this food philosophy. As you move in the direction of healthier foods, you’ll increasingly enjoy the taste all the more. Moreover, you’ll love the way your body feels: the glow in your complexion, the luster in your hair and the bounce in your step. Your digestion will improve almost immediately. You can still enjoy your guilty pleasures; just keep the healthy foods coming in at least 60% of the time and you’ll find nothing but pleasure at every meal.

Avanti HOT Tacos are a perfect example and a deliciously healthy addiction. Dr. Joel Fuhrman says 3 servings of cabbage family cruciferous vegetables a week can lower overall cancer risk by 41%!

3.) Breathe deeply and slowly at least once a day

This powerful exercise requires no special equipment and can be done virtually anywhere. Like stretching, it will change your life, health, mood and outlook almost instantaneously. Dr. Andrew Weil is a big proponent of simple breathing exercises. Watch his YouTube video HERE to learn more.

4.) Find a minute or two a day to delve into a moment of conscious intent (ie: a mini mediation)

Social media is a great place to start (believe it or not). Visit pages on facebook like Rawforbeauty, The Daily Zen and Practicing the Presence Through Mind and Meditation. If you’re new to being present in a single thought, there’s no need to be overly ambitious. Read a powerful message that resonates with you on one of the above pages (or, your favorite) and ponder it with a single focus for about 30 seconds. That’s all there is to it.  No woo-wooing, saffron robes or floating lotus positioning required.  Just one moment with a single thought. Also, make an effort to fill your Facebook and Twitter feeds with ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ that are uplifting and those that empower elevated mental states. Lao Tzu told us centuries ago to Go with the flow. Shouldn’t the same be said for our online virtual streams?

5.) Choose organic when it comes to eggs, dairy & meats

Yes, they are more expensive, but you’ll change the world a little bit each day once humane and healthy raised animal products become the mainstream. This goal is within our reach. Reject the idea of putting a life of misery inside your own body. Request organic animal products at your grocery stores and the restaurants you frequent.  Feel empowered to make a change.

6.) Ponder your environmental footprint and make a conscious effort to reduce it step-by-step

If we are alive we must consume resources, but we can also make conscious choices to be a mindful consumer. Occasionally treat yourself to luxuries, but look also for ways to recycle, re-gift, repair and re-joy things in your world.  Remember that most public libraries will gladly take your used books back and sell them at a marginal fee in their library store. If you enjoyed a beloved tale years ago, don’t keep the book in bondage on your shelf; release it and let it be told over and over again to new readers.

7.) Feast your eyes on your plate everyday

Make certain you have incorporated a wide variety of whole foods in your diet DAILY and look for color on your plate, Eat the rainbow. The various flavanoids in whole foods that cause them to be brightly colored are what give them their potent health benefits. Below is a photo of our plated Avanti entrée we served for World Food Day. Yes, food can be as delicious as it is gorgeous.

Food_Day_Special1

8.) “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”  ~Dalai Lama

It’s been said profoundly in so many ways:

“More tears have been shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.” ~St. Teresa of Avila. 

“I think God answers all our prayers.  It’s just that sometimes the answer is no.” ~Jimmy Carter. 

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” ~Lao Tzu

“When one door closes, another opens… ~Alexander Graham Bell

 “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

“Do you know how to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.”

Once we realize that total control is an illusion, the spirit opens and life can flow more freely. 

9.) Do legs up the wall regularly

If you’re not much of a yogi, at least incorporate the legs up the wall pose [Viparita Karani] into your life three or more times per week.  You’ll sleep better, your circulation will improve and it can help lower blood pressure, too. It’s likely your thoughts will be clearer and your back will thank you everyday.  It can be done at any time of the day.  If you have sleep issues, doing this before bed often induces a good night’s sleep. Similar to flossing & tongue scraping, once you start to a routine, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.  It’s simple. Watch it on YouTube HERE.

10.) Vote with your dollars daily

Realize that you are the change in the world.  Watch the film, Food Inc. and see how our daily purchase choices shape industry policy quickly and profoundly.  Only buy from businesses you want to see operating in the future and reject products from corporations that refuse to see the bigger picture, the greater good or the best interests in the long haul.  It’s all about our heartfelt choices.  Nothing is perfect, but in most cases, the choice is between something that’s more or less good for our lives and our planet and something that clearly isn’t.  Living in the realization that, as consumers, WE CONTROL THE MARKET is profoundly empowering indeed!

11.) Have {at least} three meatless meals a week

There’s no need to label yourself vegetarian or vegan; just give your digestive system a rest several times a week.  Meatless meals are typically higher in fiber and quicker to digest and you’re likely to eat more veggies when there’s no meat on the plate; it’s a win-win situation. Some opt for Meatless Mondays; a fun way to remember your plan and to encourage others to come along for the ride. But, any day will do. You can even mix it up with three meatless meals spread throughout the week.

12.) Reject processed foods

Become a label reader. If something contains several non- food ingredients apply the Avanti Food Philosophy and reject it 90% of the time. When eating, enjoy every minute and each bite.  If you are honest with yourself, does anything really taste so good that it’s worth jeopardizing your health, the environment and the future of the planet by buying it, supporting it and then ingesting it? Probably not. Say no the majority of the time and we will make the world a better place in short order. You’ll find a good read on the subject in Melanie Warner’s revealing book Pandora’s Lunchbox.

13.) Stretch everyday

Take 5 minutes –or, whatever you can spare – and explore your body. Release the pull of gravity. Don’t make it a chore; let stretching be a simple pleasure. Get up from your desk and stretch for 30 seconds. Do this at lunch and before and after you get in the car.  Short stretches throughout the day will make a world of difference in your overall health!

14.) Travel

Get out of your home territory regularly. Start with a visit to the book store & feast on travel guides to…well, everywhere. Nothing helps to put your issues in perspective more than simply being in a different physical location. Travel teaches us so much about the miraculous world we all share – and, as with all experiences – it reveals much about ourselves too. Each external journey is an inward one as well. Mark Twain said, Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. (Innocents Abroad). Who was the clever advertising exec back in the 70’s who coined the travel industry tag line See the world, before you leave it?  Remember, it’s a brand New Year. EVERYTHING can happen!

Photo Credit: Anne Watson Photography

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