Fall signals the harvest season: a time to reflect on our original intentions for the year and acknowledge all our hard work so far. We may grieve how quickly the year has flown by and yet cherish the fall flavors and colors. The season is inspiring, poignant, bittersweet. Between school, work activities, and holidays, this is a season to reconnect with ourselves and our higher purpose, and to connect with others in a spirit of collaboration.
We often forget that skin is one of our organs and also the largest one. It acts as a barrier between our internal organs and the outside world with all its aggressions, and we should take good care of it. When we get sunburned not only do we damage our skin immediately (do I have to remind you about the pain, the burning sensation, the unbearable contact of clothes and sheets, the horrible looking peeling, etc.?) but also in the long-run. The long-term consequences are even worse when sunburns occur during childhood and repeatedly. We all know we have to use sunscreens and avoid the hours of the day when the sun is the strongest, and wear a hat and so on — but do we? Well, I am embarrassed to admit I failed the test not so long ago and got one BAD sunburn. I got it all wrong. Add first sun exposure of the year, no sunscreen, worst time of the day, and you get — the lobster woman.
The other day after my workout, I headed to the sauna to savor some quiet time to detox and unwind. Shortly after I got settled in to my warm cocoon and a meditative state, another woman came in to do the same, or so I thought. Wrapped in her terry cloth robe, she immediately reached into her pocket, pulled out her smartphone and began texting away.
I had to stop in the middle of eating my lunch just now because of how beautiful the colors are! This is a fall farm market feast, of small purple potatoes, crimini mushrooms, golden zucchini (!), squash blossoms, sweet red pepper and red onion with corn tortillas and arugula. Oh, YUM!
And easy. You may have noticed, that’s the only way I cook.
When did you begin meditating and why?
Which meditation practice(s) did you choose?
How has meditation affected your life?
I began meditating in 1974 right after medical school.
I was a psychology major in college and deeply influenced by Albert Schweitzer, who had doctorates in music and theology when he went to medical school as a path to lifelong service in Africa.
So, with this mind-body-spirit perspective, I was thrilled to read two groundbreaking articles that Herbert Benson and Keith Wallace published when I was in medical school. In both studies, practitioners of Transcendental Meditation (TM), silently repeating their word (‘mantra’), demonstrated physiological changes of deep rest while awake. Those changes were often even greater than those found during sleep. Benson called these changes the Relaxation Response, which has formed the basis for his work ever since.
Not long afterwards, I discovered that one of the pathology faculty members was meditating behind his closed door for 20 minutes each afternoon. He referred me to his TM teacher and I learned to meditate.
Continue reading →
Financial stress can be one of the most painful and debilitating experiences— something with which many Americans have become intimately familiar.Often, when we are dealing with financial stress, we feel the dual burden of shame for having gotten where we are and a lack of control over how to get out.
Relax and re-center with Dr. Gordon in this 11-minute guided imagery podcast:
Guided imagery is a powerful technique that uses the imagination to create a relaxed state that can help with healing, learning and performance.
This mind-body technique, which Dr Gordon has taught at professional trainings around the world for over 20 years, is effective at reducing stress, relieving trauma and increasing creativity.
Around two weeks before the start of any school vacation, the Counseling office experiences a cyclical peak of drop-in students. An influx of mostly third graders appear at my door with tears streaming down their cheeks, runny noses, and words that are difficult to decipher between hiccup-like breaths and broken syllables. They are usually accompanied by a friend who guarantees their safe passage to my office then departs, with the I’ve-been-there-too look and a silent nod saying it’s going to be okay.
Both my home & office laptops developed crippling problems within one week. Well, hello, Universe!
My office computer recovered. But I found myself in an Apple store, after a discouraging meeting with the tech at the Genius Bar, having a serious discussion with a young saleswoman about purchasing a new mac. I happened to mention that I had started experimenting with unplugging for long stretches of time– leaving my cell phone behind, limiting my computer time… She stopped what she was doing and stared at me, stunned. “I could never do that!” she said earnestly– her eyes repeatedly returning to mine, questioning, fascinated.
To paraphrase a CMBM alum, “When I heard The Center for Mind-Body Medicine would be offering a seminar called ‘Mind, Mood & Food’ at Kripalu, I felt like the heavens were bringing all my favorite things together.” The “trifecta”, as I like to call it, was a beautiful blend of relevant material taught by engaging faculty in a setting where what was being taught could be practiced. Imagine learning about foods that support brain health and then going to Kripalu’s dining hall where those foods are waiting for you on an abundant buffet. Picture completing a moving meditation with Jim Gordon and then going to Yoga Dance during a seminar break. Kathie Swift spoke about the benefits of being in nature for brain health, and I’m convinced Mother Nature was a seminar participant as the weather was perfect for walks to the lake. It was seventy degrees in mid-March in the Berkshires!
Mark Pettus, Jay Lomard and Chuck Parker offered a wealth of knowledge and fantastic synergy as they fed off each other’s energy and complemented each other’s work. A big round of applause goes to the hard-working staff at Kripalu. They were wonderful to work with and jumped right in to run the program like a well-oiled machine. Mind, Mood & Food at Kripalu is definitely worth a repeat!