Jul

23

By megfiddler

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Categories: Uncategorized

A Serene Mind

“You cannot perceive beauty, but with a serene mind.”—Henry David Thoreau

I first saw this quote on a poster with a picture of a beautiful tranquil beach scene. The poster hung on a wall at the original Quiet Moments in Merriam, Kansas. I always thought it eloquently summed up the need to relax the mind, otherwise we miss the beauty in the world. Our individual corners of the universe become filled with deadlines, appointments, traffic congestion, pollution and constant motion.
We live out in the country on about 25 acres. The property is a mixture of pasture, meadow and woods. In the early morning hours our border collie Jack and border collie/mix Annie, head out into the yard to chase away the pesky squirrels and rabbits that are so bold as to trespass into their yard. I sit on the deck with a cup of jasmine tea. The air, even at 6:00am is already warm and hints at the oppressive heaviness that will soon make its presence known this July morning. But in these alone moments I listen to the birds sing their morning songs. I watch bright red cardinals perch on the feeder enjoying a breakfast of sunflower seeds. We have had so much rain that the flowers in the butterfly garden are still bright and perky. They offer themselves to the hummingbirds and monarchs that pass through our yard. The dense foliage from trees and other plant life provides a curtain for the deer and other wildlife that are exploring the woods beyond our yard. In the distance you can hear a mother cow calling for her wayward calf to return to her. These are the sights and sounds of a summer morning in the country. This is my time to sit quietly and be nothing more than an observer of nature. The world doesn’t extend beyond my vision during this morning ritual, no appointments, traffic, bills to pay, no questions to be answered, and no thoughts about what I will fix for dinner, just a serene mind and an awareness and appreciation of the beauty that surrounds me.
We each have within us the ability to create our own daily haven of tranquility. A place that offers respite from the world with its collective chaos, anxiety and problems. A place that gives birth to a serene mind and beauty is perceived.

Jul

14

By megfiddler

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Categories: Uncategorized

Go Team Chocolate

What does chocolate and massage have in common? They both release endorphins. These neurotransmitters, which can be found in the brain, including the pituitary gland and in other parts of the body interact with opiate receptors in the brain. The secretion of endorphins can help with decreased feelings of pain and also increase those feeling of euphoria. Go Team Chocolate!

Chocolate has also been shown to offer us other benefits. More and more studies are being conducted, including one in Germany that followed nearly 20,000 people for 10 years and found that those who ate the most chocolate had lower blood pressure and a 39 percent lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Flavanols may play a part in this. Flavanols, which are a specific type of flavonoids, are believed to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the heart and brain. Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate is rich in flavanols which also have antioxidant qualities. Most are aware that antioxidants help the body’s cells to resist damage caused by free radicals. These free roaming organic molecules are responsible for aging, tissue damage and some diseases. Team Chocolate is on a roll.

Finally chocolate is a delicious way to get a bit of magnesium into your body. Magnesium is essential to the functioning of the human body. It transmits nerve impulses, helps with muscle relaxation and is necessary for the development of healthy teeth and bones. Of course there are many ways to get magnesium into your diet; nuts, some fish, and leafy green vegetables are a few examples. But when it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and you need a little snack, why not pick dark chocolate? Choose a chocolate with a cocoa content of 65 percent or higher, without the addition of nuts, marshmallows or coconut. An allowance of 1-3 ounces is good, but you still have calories, which means you may want to make adjustments accordingly.

So savor the fragrance and rich flavor of your favorite dark chocolate. Enjoy the many benefits and leave the guilt behind. Go Team Chocolate!