I’m glad I started meditating a few years ago, BUT, I wish more than anything I’d had Dan Harris’ book, 10% Happier, when I started.
Frankly, the whole meditation thing would have been a lot simpler.
During my few years of meditation, I had my share of struggles. I sometimes wondered if I was doing it right (or well enough) in spite of the benefits I was experiencing.
I bought things to amp up my meditation “powers” like crystals, frog statues (see, Ralph, above), meditation pillows, and salt lamps. Lots of salt lamps.
I thought by having these things around I’d be better at meditating or my meditation would be deeper and more profound. I even tried meditating a few times balancing a crystal on my head. Yes. I did that.
Then, Dan Harris’ book, 10% Happier, came across my path.
I opted for the audiobook because he narrates it, and I love audiobooks.
Man, was that ever a great choice.
Hearing Dan Harris tell his story in his own voice made the journey through his book better, funnier, and just more enjoyable. I can’t speak on the experience of reading the book, and I expect it’s also pretty great, but I tell ya… the audiobook was special.
The reason this book is my favorite on meditation is because he broke it down!
By the end of the book, I knew everything I needed to meditate (which actually wasn’t much, funny enough), and it didn’t require crystals, uncomfortable seated positions, or super deep breathing.
I just had to sit (anywhere and in any position). Close my eyes (if desired). Breathe normally. And, every time my mind wandered, I simply had to bring it gently back to feeling or hearing my breath.
What I didn’t realize when I was learning to meditate in years past… was that the whole issue of “I can’t keep my mind from wandering” is actually part of meditation. Yes, it’s part of it.
Every time the mind wanders, and our minds all do, you notice it and bring your awareness back to breathing or feeling –> that’s meditating.
The back and forth of thinking and non-thinking is indeed meditating.
It can happen many times in a single 5-minute session and that’s many times you’re building your meditation/mindfulness muscle just like doing a bicep curl for the arm when building your biceps.
Huh. That’s simple.
10% Happier taught me this, along with the really entertaining story of his life including experiences with Deepak Chopra and Eckart Tolle that left me in a fit of giggles.
I can’t recommend this book enough whether you’re a seasoned meditator, an excited newbie meditator, or scared of meditating. It’s for everyone.
It’s been a couple of years now that I’ve had a focus in my life on meditation so that I could calm my mind, body, and soul.
In fact, two years ago it was the only goal I set for 2014 because it was THAT important.
I even felt it was probably more important than my healthy eating habits or exercise, because stress wreaks havoc on a body.
I figured if I could reduce stress and just go with the flow more and chill the f#*k out, that I would probably increase my longevity … more than all the best eating or exercising I could ever do.
That said, I knew a combo of:
- Healthy eating
- Living a calm life …
THAT would be the ultimate.
Well, I pretty much dialed in the healthy eating bit, eh? And exercise and moving? Heck, we got rid of our dining table and couch -> embracing the “furniture free” movement. Check!
Next, I needed to focus on calming my sh*t down.
I’m proud to say that I’ve come a loooong way and I’ve learned a lot the past few years including this post detailing how and why my family meditates, including our daughter (she’s 5 now).
Meditation has changed my life for sure. It’s helped me react less to stressful times. But, I found ways to cope when those stressful times still reared their ugly heads.
That’s what this post is about! I came up with nine ways to instantly chill out. Seriously, they work.
Oh.. And. This past year I found Taoism – WHOA – but that’s for another post.
In the rush of the *sometimes stressful* holidays, these are extra important. Warning: my mouth runs a bit foul in this post.
Here are my top 9 ways to immediately hack your stress and get calm.
The next time your feathers get ruffled, try one of these ideas and see how it instantly calms you. Over time, the more you do this, the more natural it becomes and the more calm you feel ongoing.
I strive to live a life that is Zen (mindful, non-judgmental, and in the moment).
And… I’m a work in progress.
To tell you the truth, I started thinking about this stuff about 7 or 8 years ago, but didn’t become serious until a few years ago, when I made meditation a top priority.
Fast forward to today, and I’m pretty damn Zen. Most of the time.
I create a mindful presence in the kitchen as often as possible, because it makes for the best kitchen experiences. And, would you believe? It helps me create the most delicious food ever. You’ll hear a lot of people talk about putting “love” into their food. I try to create “calmness” and infuse that into my food. (I put some love in there, too.)
Here are some tips to help you quickly get Zen in your kitchen starting today.
In spite of going to the gym for an hour a day, most days, I feel like my life is missing more movement. But, how could that be? I go to the gym almost daily. Surely that’s adequate.
Or, is it?
I took a look at our lives recently and realized there’s just too much sitting… whether it’s eating food at the table, working on computers, playing video games, watching TV, or reading, I had to admit that we’re members of the species homo sedentarius.
Sitting this much just doesn’t feel right. And research says that “sitting is the new smoking,” meaning deadly… even for people who exercise daily! Yikes.
So, on a whim I suggested to Greg that we get rid of our couch, which would make us move more. It was just an idea that made sense to me.
He wasn’t buying it. I mean, who doesn’t have a couch?
Well! Turns out, I’m not the only one to think about this. Apparently there is a movement (pun intended) known as “furniture-free” and I can’t help but be intrigued. There’s even experts on the topic. When Greg heard Katy Bowman, ummm, an expert, he realized it wasn’t just a crazy idea of mine – people are doing this.
Long story short, we got rid of our couch. (Gasp!)
I’ve been a fan of adding chinese medicine herbs (tonic herbs) into my drinks and foods for years. You can see it evident in the multiple recipes on my blog that use them.
See? I use tonic herbs in my life a lot.
So, the other night, I made a delicious decaf coffee elixir utilizing some powerfully relaxing reishi, and it was so effective that I had to share it.
For those of you who don’t know, reishi is basically a potent mushroom tonic herb with many potential health benefits, including some mega relaxation. There’s even a legend that women who consume reishi while pregnant end up having calm babies, known as “reishi babies.” It also has a long history of use as an immune health builder, cancer fighter, and overall longevity supporter. It’s known as the “Mushroom of Immortality” which pretty much says it all.
Um, yeah okay, I’ll take some of all of that.
Reishi Nighttime Mocha Recipe
- 8 ounces of decaf organic coffee
- 1 to 2 teaspoons cacao butter (or a little hunk of it solid)
- 1 tablespoon grass-fed unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons high quality reishi mushroom powder
Blend it all together in a high-speed blender and sip your way to relaxation and a happy heart.
I know I know.
I make a lot of beverages in the style of Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof goodness. Guilty. When something is good and works, why wouldn’t I? The Bulletproof -style drinks I make add more energy to my day, fuel my brain and body, are quickly made, and they get me through the early part of my morning.
- XOCO Bulletproof Mocha – a properly balanced coffee elixir
- Mushroom Coffee
- Turmeric Essential Oil Bulletproof Coffee with Protein
- Bulletproof Coffee Shake Ice Cubes
- Golden Coffee
- Coffee Shake
Today, I’m sharing an organic matcha tea that is created Bulletproof -style. Matcha tea is green tea, where the leaves are ground and consumed whole. It’s a beautiful drink, and the lush color reminds me of my recent trip to Kauai (more on that another day).
Tea is liquid wisdom.
Matcha is the Japanese tea ceremony beverage. I’ve been drawn to organic matcha for many months now, and I did a lot of research before selecting the brand I chose. I felt the highest quality would be from Yuuki-Cha because of their standards and my ability to pinpoint from exactly what region of Japan I wanted my organic matcha. This company addressed potential issues of Fukushima Daichi radiation and shared a helpful map to assist my selection. I trust them as a result.
When I bought my matcha I ordered small sizes and chose two (each hailing from a different place in Japan). I opted not to get the whisk or special drinking bowl because, honestly, I didn’t know if I’d like it so why invest in all of that. Matcha has a reputation where sometimes it’s grassy in flavor, which I’m not craving.
I was elated with the result of the Organic Yame Matcha. My first sip I knew I’d be drinking matcha for the rest of my life, and I didn’t even make it the classic way with the bamboo whisk since I didn’t buy those (yet). Instead, I heated my spring water on my induction hot plate, used an instant read thermometer to achieve 175 degrees F, poured the hot water into my blender, added the Organic Yame Matcha, and blended it. I’m eager to try the whisk, being all proper about it, as I yearn to experience “the froth of green jade.”
I haven’t tried my Kirishima matcha yet, but have confidence it’ll be bliss. UPDATE: I just tried the Organic Kirishima Matcha and it’s fabulous. I heated my spring water to 175 degrees F and then blended the hot water with 1/2 teaspoon of the matcha powder. AWESOME.
I chose to start basic by drinking the matcha plain, as in hot water and matcha to see if I liked the flavor. As noted above, it was wonderful. That said, I knew there were plenty of options for making matcha tasty in the event of grassiness. For example, I knew I could soften the matcha by making it Bulletproof with grass-fed butter and Brain Octane MCT oil. I also have some wonderful stevia extract in my arsenal. And, I knew I could always add it to my green smoothie in the event that drinking it as a tea wasn’t awesome.
Oh, and drinking matcha green tea iced can help make it more refreshing and less grass-like. I simply blended my spring water (175 degrees F) with 1 teaspoon organic green matcha tea. Then, I poured it over ice.
Iced Matcha Green Tea
In my search for a more calm life, I find myself immersed in books and teachings of the Tao.
While reading this week from the book The Tao of Daily Life (<— it’s so good), I came across the story of Empress Tz’u-hsi and the teaching of simplicity.
Essentially, the story told that if Empress Tz’u-hsi wished to experience the joy of simplicity, she had to reduce complexity in her life.
I took that to heart. So often I’m making recipes and adding a little of this and a little of that… then more of something else, and more of something like that. The result can be good, but the process elaborate and time intensive. And, sometimes, the individual simple flavors cease to shine as they become muddled and mixed with everything else.
The result was a delicious marriage where I effortlessly experienced both flavors, two of my favorites: watermelon and ginger. The drink was beautifully pink and vibrantly refreshing. It taught me that, yes, some things (probably most, in fact) are better left simpler.
I’m eager to apply this to other areas of my life outside of the kitchen. It bears repeating that The Tao of Daily Life is great. It’s one of my favorite books right now.
I have a big collection of herbs. It’s so big that it required its own big bookshelf case so I could put all the glass mason jars in one place. Greg calls it my dirt collection.
Today, Kamea is spending time at my mom’s so I was inspired to make some tea blends in an effort to consolidate my collection a bit.
When I first started on the path of herbal medicine, I was a bit eager, as is my personality. Hence, I ordered quite a bit (most of them from below are from one of my favorite sources for quality herbs at great prices, Mountain Rose Herbs). I’ve since learned that I really don’t require all of the things I bought. I’ve learned a few things:
Some health experts talk about the importance of balancing energies in the foods and drinks we consume to receive an optimal experience – not too jittery but not falling asleep either.
Well, I’ve taken that advice and present an energy balanced mocha, Bulletproof Style (of course).
Yeah, it’s awesome.
You see, coffee (caffeine) has a stimulating energy. It could be beneficial to balance that energy by adding an herb or component that is calming, such as the medicinal mushroom reishi. For that, I jumped to Four Sigma Foods (quality) reishi in the form of their XOCO product which also has chocolate in it (they’re called chocolate shots).
Ergo, I ended up with a mocha. Cool.
In fact, those smarty-pants guys over at Four Sigma Foods even make a mushroom coffee! It’s a genius little packet of instant medicinal mushroom (lions mane + chaga or cordyceps + chaga) plus coffee – all in one. Just add water, stir and drink. (I love those – oh hey, I’ve made it Bulletproof style here.)
I’ve written about why (and how) I use Four Sigma Foods products in a detailed post here. You should read it.
I have a whole counter dedicated to my coffee and teas. (Read this post to see how my whole kitchen is organized.)
Recipe: XOCO Bulletproof Mocha
- 2 cups quality hot coffee (I usually use Upgraded beans)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter
- 1 tablespoon Brain Octane MCT oil
- 1 packet XOCO with reishi
- 1 packet XOCO with chaga
- 1/4 heaping teaspoon turmeric powder
- few grinds fresh black pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons grass-fed collagen protein, optional
Blend everything until smooth and frothy. (I blend in a couple of raw, pasture-raised-happy egg yolks sometimes, too!)
Enjoy a day where you feel all zen and powerful at the same time.