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Maine Ready to Apply For More Broadband Internet Grants

The Practice of Pause

In the most recent issue of Newsweek magazine, Robert J. Samuelson wrote a column titled The Sad Fate of the Comma.

He says:

I have always liked commas, but I seem to be in a shrinking minority. The comma is in retreat, though it is not yet extinct. In text messages and e-mails, commas appear infrequently, and then often by accident (someone hits the wrong key). Even on the printed page, commas are dwindling. Many standard uses from my childhood (after, for example, an introductory prepositional phrase) have become optional or, worse, have been ditched. If all this involved only grammar, I might let it lie. But the comma’s sad fate is, I think, a metaphor for something larger: how we deal with the frantic, can’t-wait-a-minute nature of modern life. The comma is, after all, a small sign that flashes PAUSE. It tells the reader to slow down, think a bit, and then move on. We don’t have time for that. No pauses allowed.

My husband came home from work a few hours after I read the article and mentioned that a yoga instructor had visited his office as part of their Wellness Program.

“Did you learn anything?” I asked.

He said he learned that if people took ten minutes out of their day to sit quietly and relax, scientific studies show stress levels reduce drastically. In other words, he learned it’s important to pause.

He had a worksheet from the Mind/Body Medical Institute. Click here for the full set of instructions, but in a nutshell it simply says to sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and breathe (the easy part), as you clear your mind of active thoughts (the hard part).

Summers seems like an especially good time to incorporate the practice of pause because schedules can get so busy. You might be thinking: “That’s precisely the problem. I’m so busy I don’t have time to relax for 10 minutes.” But as the yoga instructor who visited my husband’s office mentions on her website, pausing will calm you down and clear your mind for better decision-making, ultimately giving you much more time.     Š

Man in the Mud

Panic.

It’s a “sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior” according dictionary.com.

I’ve certainly been guilty of it. But it usually doesn’t serve me well. Like the time I convinced myself I had appendicitis and went into such hysterics that I passed out.

I came across this story last week – a construction worker in China was buried alive in the mud with nothing but a gap of air in front of his face (his helmet slid down). He didn’t panic. He practiced meditation and survived two hours on an amount of air that should have lasted five minutes.

I wonder sometimes how I would react in certain situations. What if I was eating in Windows restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11? What if I was in one of the hijacked planes? I don’t think a person truly knows how he or she will respond unless in the situation. God willing, that will never be the case, but if it is, I hope I am like the man in the mud.

Healthy Snacks

My family members like to tease me about the fact that I don’t have a very high tolerance for discomfort. I claim to be “dying of heat” or “freezing cold” (rather than a little warm or a little cool). I’m either “bouncing off the walls” or “exhausted” (instead of simply awake or sleepy). And of course I’m never hungry. I’m starving (that is, when I’m not totally stuffed).

When I am starving it’s never a good situation. My hands start shaking. My mood turns sour really fast. I need food. ASAP!

When you’re trying to eat healthy, it’s important to prepare for emergencies. Otherwise, it’s too easy to grab the sugary, chemically-laden junk food that abounds in stores and fast-food restaurants and vending machines. So here’s what I do to prepare for the week: I usually bake some sort of muffins on Sundays (blueberry, apple oat bran, or other kinds where the recipe doesn’t call for sugar and refined flour). I also hard boil 6 eggs for easy snacking. I make a bag of trail mix: raw almonds, raw walnuts, dried cranberries and/or organic raisins. I keep baked tortilla chips in the cupboards and homemade salsa in the fridge. I love raw green beans (there I go being dramatic and extreme again), and I have been known to steal a handful of those as I head out the door. And now that fall is here, I’ve been stocking up on apples – such an easy, delicious fruit to grab on the go.

What are your favorite healthy snacks?

A Meditation Walk

“Let’s take a meditation walk,” my mom suggested when she was visiting earlier this week.

That sounded neat.

“What is it?” I asked.

My mom said it’s when you take a walk in nature while meditating on a word or phrase. As you walk you don’t necessarily seek out specific things, but you do open yourself up to whatever gifts or lessons nature has to teach.

My mom, dad, and I all piled on our coats and boots and headed out into the woods. When we passed the woodshed, we discussed logs. When we passed the garden, we discussed vegetables. We talked about family and food and the gorgeous day. Before long we had finished the loop. Not exactly meditative. Oh, well. We still enjoyed each other’s company and the crisp air of nightfall. That’s priceless in itself.

Meditation walks are probably best when each individual wanders off on his or her own path. This morning I threw on sweatpants and headed outside. I was still wearing my pajama top. I had yet to comb my hair or eat. But I wanted to be outdoors first thing.

I choose to meditate on the words: “I will rejoice and be glad in this day.” The wind brushed against me with affection. The pines played a rustling tune. The sky offered colors of deep blue. The sun poured forth armfuls of warmth. I don’t know what this day will bring, but good or bad, happy or sad, easy or tough, I rejoice in its beauty.Š

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