Meditate to Activate?

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A funny thing happened at the gym the other day.

I caught myself smiling as I pounded the elliptical.  In fact, this has been happening all week.

That’s not all.  These days, I’m actually looking forward to going to the gym.  It’s something I want to do.  And in just the last week, my workouts have become more intense.  I’m working out longer — 45 minutes as opposed to 35 — and at higher levels of difficulty.  Also, I’m not checking the clock every five minutes to see how much longer I have to endure.

So I asked myself:  Self, what gives?

I think the answer is:  Meditation.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been meditating nearly every day, anywhere from 10 to about 45 minutes, depending on how much time I have and my powers of concentration at the moment.  I took up meditation a little over five years ago, but haven’t been practicing with any real dedication or discipline until fairly recently.

I know it’s made a big difference in my emotional health.  And, although I can’t prove it, I think it’s making a difference in my physical well-being as well.

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Week 9: Getting My Mojo Back!

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Where have I been the last six weeks?  Seems like  here, there and everywhere.  Not that it’s been terrible, mind you.  You can’t really complain when you’re flitting about to places like San Francisco, LA, San Juan and DC.  (You could grouse a bit about Cleveland, Ohio,  but it was my own idea to go there for work, so I can’t.)

The point is that I haven’t had much of a routine lately.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that I have strayed from my mission.  You know, the whole losing 30 by 50 thing?

Which is why I am where I am today: 181.5 pounds.  That’s a full 4 pounds over what I weighed three weeks ago, when I was 177.5.  So my net loss after nine weeks is only 3.5 pounds.  Not very impressive. 

Not that I am surprised, given what I’ve been doing — and not doing — lately.

And yet, I have to tell you that I am not discouraged either.  Now that I am back home, with no looming travel obligations, I am psyched to be in my routine again. 

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Contemplate This: Eating Just One Potato Chip

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You really can eat just one.

My friend Nancy just gave me The Complete Tassajara Cookbook a lovely book of “recipes, techniques and reflections” from the kitchen of Tassajara, a Zen monastery in the Santa Lucia mountains of California, which I visited some years ago for a yoga and meditation retreat.  A beautiful, serene and remote place, Tassarjara serves up absolutely delicious vegetarian fare in a huge family-style dining room for guests who come for retreats and classes — or just to get away from the world for a while. 

The author of The Complete Tassajara Cookbook, Edward Espe Brown, is an American Zen priest and teacher, and a founder of the famous Greens Restaurant in San Francisco.  I’m looking forward to immersing myself in this delightful and wise book — and not just for the recipes.  In fact, one of Brown’s essays so enchanted me that I felt I had to share it right away.

It’s called “Eating Just One Potato Chip,” and it’s about, well, eating just one potato chip.  But with complete mindfulness — that is, with complete attention to the experience of eating  a single potato chip, like it’s “the only chip in the universe.”

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