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.
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Maria and her children waited in line with 400 others for our clinic gate to open at 8 AM. Our 5 doctors and 2 nurses were each waiting with their interpreter at 7 little tables in the one room church.
Maria was quiet and looked very sad. Her unhappy marriage was causing serious sleep problems. Medication made her feel bad and didn’t help. Her 7-year old daughter had warts on her hands and her 4-year old son was grinding his teeth during sleep.
This was my first mission trip. I had been told that our main service would be touching and loving our patients since our medication supply was insufficient to meet the needs of the people in this impoverished community. Stress-related conditions are common among these farm workers raising bananas, cocoa and other tropical foods. Maria and her children had symptoms often associated with stress.
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.
I’m proud to announce that my good friend, colleague, and CMBM board member, Dr. Mark Hyman has just released his latest book, The Blood Sugar Solution. This book is a must read continuation of his groundbreaking work with diabesity (the continuum of abnormal biology that ranges from mild insulin resistance to full-blown diabetes). It’s a book I recommend to all of you without reservation. Dr. Hyman has elegantly described the complex and precarious situation that many Americans have found themselves in–struggling with multiple forms of chronic illness with severe physical and psychological ramifications. He uses an intelligent and scientifically-validated approach to lay out a clearly guided roadmap for reversing this course.
Center faculty members Bob Buckley, Kathy Farah and Judith Pedersen-Benn , Certified practitioners Matt Erb and Julie Kilpatrick ,and Certification Candidate Noshene Ranjbar, worked with Lakota Indians on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota during November 2011. Here are excerpts from their report.
Our week at Pine Ridge was an exercise in flexibility, organizing as we went, practicing and teaching mind-body skills wherever we could, and being persistent but patient in the process. As word of what we were doing spread, more calls came in to have us work with various groups including the staff of the tribal police department. We learned quickly that if 30 people were registered for a group, this meant to expect 10 or 15!
We split up in various configurations and did a combination of workshops, series of groups, and sometimes one-time groups. In the end, we served around 165 people. We worked with teachers, counselors and students in the schools; the staffs of the tribe’s health administration department and the Indian Health Service hospital including the CEO, nurses, doctors and support staff. We worked with a non-profit that provides social services and foster care placement, and staff and clientele of a local non-profit substance abuse clinic. Each night we held a public group at the Jesuit-run Red Cloud School, open to anyone with interest that drew an eclectic mix of participants.
A reminder for those of you who know about it, and an epiphany for those of you who don’t: Magic Mineral Broth!
Food As Medicine Executive Chef & faculty member Rebecca Katz, MA, first published the recipe for this potent potion in her cookbook One Bite at a Time: Nourishing Recipes for Cancer Survivors and Their Friends– and has since generously offered it on her website rebeccakatz.com. She calls it her “Rosetta stone of soup”.
This time of year, with colds and flu swirling about, I feel naked without it. And that’s a simple problem to fix– a trip to the farm market or grocery store for a sack full of everything on the list, a few minutes to wash and chop, and several hours of cozy reading time while the broth simmers and the kitchen fills with a healthy, rich aroma– and you’re good to go. One recipe makes quite a lot of broth– see photo of results in the slide show– most of which I freeze for those moments when you need a mineral-rich broth to pick you right up. My kind of health insurance
Thank you, Rebecca!
I asked our popular Food As Medicine faculty member, farmer, teacher and author John Bagnulo, MPH, PhD, to take a few moments and view this thought-provoking slide show, Marketplace Photo Gallery: The value of a dollar, in which photographer Jonathan Blaustein photographs a dollar’s worth of various types of food.
This was one of the most popular dishes at Food As Medicine 2010– perhaps because it’s such a glorious eye-full?
In her book The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, from whence this recipe cometh, Rebecca Katz says, “…I set out to create the most colorful salad I could, using purple beets, orange carrots, and fresh mint. If I’d had a vegetable crisper instead of a box of crayons as a kid, this salad would have been the result.”
And not only beautiful, but brimming with antioxidants. We all know we’re supposed to be tracking those down and including them in our diets like crazy, right? Turns out, as Rebecca says, “Generally speaking, the right way to go is to cast a wide net instead of focusing on a single antioxidant.”
This is one stunning combo. As you see, the Capital Hilton kitchen did the colors side-by-side, and they are equally gorgeous tossed, with the green flecks of mint dancing amidst the shredded orange and burgundy. A great choice if you are looking for that wow factor for a healthy lunch or dinner dish. And beets and carrots are in season, in local farm markets (at least in the mid-Atlantic region), right now.
Photographs of Food As Medicine 2010 by Erin Goldstein
Shredded Carrot and Beet Salad
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup peeled and shredded carrot
1 cup peeled and shredded red beet
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Whisk the orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, ginger, and salt together
until thoroughly combined. Put the carrots in a mixing bowl, drizzle
with half of the dressing, and toss until evenly coated. Place the carrots
on one side of a shallow serving bowl. Put the beets in the mixing
bowl, drizzle with the remaining dressing, and toss until evenly
coated. Place the beets in the serving bowl next to the carrots for a
beautiful contrast of red and orange. Top with the chopped mint before
From Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, Celestial Arts, 2009.
Rebecca is a core faculty member and our Executive Chef for Food As Medicine, and designs all our food for the program. OMG. Eating like this for 4 days is SUCH a treat!
Thank you for sharing, Rebecca!
This is a guest post by Jerrol Kimmel, RN, MA, Mind-Body Medicine faculty member and Food As Medicine graduate. Jerrol has created a highly effective synthesis of the two programs called What Are You Hungry For? Her clients report remarkable results from doing carefully guided ‘root’ work with Jerrol: significant, sustainable weight loss balanced by what one client describes as mindful awareness around food that is , “…sacred and deeply transformative on many levels.” She tells her clients, “The way you do food is the way you do life.”
I know this from my professional life and my own personal challenges with emotional eating: all the information in the world about the “right” things to eat or the “right” diet won’t help if you don’t find another way to navigate life without turning to food to cope.
First, discover the difference between physical and emotional hunger and how to feed each of them in the right way. Once food finds its rightful place, to feed the hunger of the physical body, then the next piece is to discover how to feed the emotional hunger; how to express your feelings appropriately and get your underlying needs met.
It begins with a readiness to change and a vision of what you want. It’s not a number on a scale; it’s how you want to feel in your body – alive, energetic, healthy, whatever.
I have people do three drawings: their relationship with food, their biggest problem, and how they would like to be. I use imagery to help them embody the third drawing, so this feeling, this vision, becomes what they are choosing towards each time they want to eat.
Many people who have been on diets look to external authority to answer the question, what should I eat? It is never as simple as eat this, don’t eat that for those who have learned to use food to anaesthetize and edit life.
I help people listen to their own body’s needs through guided imagery. For example, I have each person imagine a wise being, a helpful guide, that can answer the question, what is one thing I need to remove from my diet or bring into my diet to help me move towards the vision of how I want to be and feel in my body?
Through this process of asking, each person discovers their own voice and begins to right their relationship with food in a way that reflects their own preferences, their body chemistry and their cultural and personal history. This inquiry and practice allows for a true transformation of their relationship to food that is sustainable for a lifetime.
Read more about Jerrol on the Center’s website. She lives and sees clients in San Francisco, CA, and via phone around the country.
James Joseph, PhD, was a highly distinguished research scientist– Director of the Neuroscience Laboratory, USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, at Tufts University– and he was also our friend. He passed away just days before Food As Medicine this June. My 18 year old son, attending Food As Medicine for the second time and who had heard Jim speak before, said the same thing I did on hearing of his passing: “No, no, no! Not Jim!” The thing about Jim was he was not only brilliant but endearing, and laugh-out-loud funny. What better way to convey the science than to have ‘em rolling in the aisles?
He always said that because of his USDA funding, we couldn’t sell the recordings of his talks, but that we could give them away. So it is with great pleasure that we offer you this treasure– a video of Jim Joseph’s lecture recorded at Food As Medicine in Baltimore in 2008.
Please do share!
Thank you, Jim, for a wonderful ride.