It was our last mind-body skills group meeting, alas. We added a little movement to our repertoire of acquired tools, with some Osho Kundalini for shaking followed by dancing to the glorious Bob Marley, singing his Three Little Birds. As I was preparing to fade the music, the woman who had tears streaming down her face as she danced caught my attention. We’ll call her “Margaret” for privacy reasons. I watched as Margaret sat back down, wiping tears from her rose colored cheeks. She grabbed the heart stone, our “talking stick,” and spoke with pure joy, “I use to belly dance to stay in shape, but ever since my cancer diagnosis I disconnected from everything below my neck. Ovarian cancer does that to you. It robs you from feeling your abdominal area, or worse yet, it instills fear that you can harm yourself by moving. Today after shaking and dancing I feel that I’ve come home, back to my body. I feel whole for the first time in years.”
Our signature mind-body medicine technique is something Founder and Director James Gordon, MD calls “Soft Belly”, by way of encouraging each of us to relax — which few of us instinctively do these days.
We sit quietly, breathing in through our nose and out through our mouth, which both calms the sympathetic nervous system and awakens the parasympathetic nervous system, creating a feeling of relaxation in the mind and body. Dr. Gordon suggests we think “soft” as we breathe in and “belly” as we breathe out, reminding ourselves to relax our belly so we can take in full, healing breaths rather than shallow, tense ones.
Garlic Honey Mustard . . . isn’t that more like a topping for wings? Not when you’ve got mustard greens. I can’t resist them when I see them in the store or farmers market — bright yellow-green leaves, with delicate frilly edges and a spicy fresh smell. But the first time I brought them home, I couldn’t think of what to do with them, until I thought, “Well, honey mustard is one of my favorite flavors, so why not give that a try?” With zippy lemon and honey balanced with some fragrant browned garlic and earthy walnuts, this recipe is a lightly sweet take on greens I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I do.
Last week the esteemed British journal The Lancet Oncology published remarkable new research showing that healthy lifestyle changes may lengthen our telomeres — i.e., may begin to reverse aging on a cellular level — the first time anything has been shown to do this.