Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

How Mindfulness Eases Menopause Symptoms

I’m wired to make people laugh. Business meetings, family parties, social gatherings—letting jokes fly is how I lighten the mood and diffuse my tension.

But something weird began happening when I hit my late 40s that nearly broke my funny bone. As soon as I made with the witticisms, my face, neck, and chest would turn beet red. I’d perspire so intensely it was like I’d taken a shower. In public. Instead of laughs, now I was getting totally mortifying sympathy stares.

I had no explanation for this super-uncomfortable phenomenon, but the dots quickly connected once I noticed other weird sensations. Unusual periods. Restless sleep. Roller-coaster moods. I hadn’t recognized the infamous midlife transition: menopause. Turns out, these sweaty, red-faced, in-public episodes were my body’s way of manifesting hot flashes.

The Season of Menopause

Officially, menopause occurs when menstruation stops and the ovaries stop producing eggs—but it doesn’t happen overnight (unless you’ve lost your ovaries and uterus to surgery or disease). Although we’ve historically thought of menopause as a women’s issue, anyone who has ovaries—including transgender men and nonbinary people—can experience menopause.

As the ovaries slowly stop responding to the hormones estrogen and progesterone, physical changes and challenges set in…

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How to Manifest Your Deepest Desires

If you want to be successful at anything, whether it’s being a more relaxed parent, quitting smoking, or running a marathon, setting an intention—and then concentrating on it mindfully—will give you the focus to help turn your dream into reality.

Intentions help you stay oriented toward your goal when strong emotions, exhaustion, boredom, or hunger threaten to throw you off course. Intentions connect deeply to your true heart’s desire, to what really matters to you, and use that rudder to set your course forward. 

An intention isn’t a wish or a fantasy. It isn’t a proclamation of who or how you think you should be. It comes from truly listening to what’s important for you to feel most alive and, well, yourself. 

Not an intention: I want to lose 25 pounds and fit into my old jeans. 

Intention: I am listening deeply to my body’s desire to be healthy and active, and my heart’s desire to feel vibrant and whole. 

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How Mindful is Your Milk of Choice?

Going dairy-free—for health or other reasons—used to require drastically altering your diet. Now, thanks to the explosion of the plant-based “milk” market, it’s never been easier. Coffee, frozen desserts, creamed soups, you name it: If a food or beverage calls for dairy, there’s now a reasonable substitute. While the FDA’s currently weighing whether these products should be allowed to call themselves “milk” (the EU doesn’t allow it), the plant-based beverage boom follows growing interest in alternatives to dairy.

A staggering 65% of the human population have trouble digesting lactose (a sugar present in cow’s milk), according to the National Institutes of Health. The highest rates of lactose intolerance occur among those of East Asian descent, but it’s also common in those of West African, Arab, Jewish, Greek, and Italian descent. Only about 5% of people of Northern European descent are lactose intolerant—some genetic experts believe this is due to a long history of dependence on milk as an important food source.

Aside from the health concerns, many people steer clear of dairy due to environmental concerns about the impacts of industrial animal farming. Conventional animal agriculture has an outsized carbon footprint, puts a massive strain on local water supplies, and…

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Original author: Kelle Walsh
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The Best Mindfulness Books of 2019

With topics ranging from learning meditation to supercharging leadership, investigating technology or parenting or social justice, here are 13 of our editors’ favorite picks out of all the books we’ve enjoyed this year:

1. The Little Book of Being: Practices and Guidance for Uncovering Your Natural Awareness

Diana Winston, Sounds True

It’s no small thing to take on the responsibility of teaching others how to work with their minds, no less teaching teachers to do that. (It’s not like teaching, say, tennis; it’s the mind after all. Nothing is subtler or more elusive). A meditator since she was a teenager, a meditation teacher for decades, and a teacher of teachers for quite a while, Diana Winston—director of mindfulness education at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center—writes from direct experience. What she has learned in all those years comes through in The Little Book of Being, which focuses on “uncovering your natural awareness.” 

At a critical point in her life, Winston says, she realized, “It’s time for me to relax, stop trying so hard, and recognize the natural awareness and goodness already inherent in my being—and in all beings. It was time to simply rest in awareness itself.” Highfalutin words, but Winston shows how to adopt relatively simple practices that allow one to gradually move from a more effortful approach to mindfulness to one that doesn’t consume so much energy, that has faith and conviction that we’re already aware and don’t need to be fixed.

This viewpoint alone allows us to stumble more easily on the kind of childlike mind that can simply appreciate the next thing in front of us: whether it’s as small as a ladybug, or as serious as someone telling us how much they hurt.

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Open Up to Gratitude

Remembering what we’re grateful for is key to savoring this festive season. Yet it’s all too easy to lose ourselves in worries about giving, or receiving, the “perfect” gift. When we direct our attention toward the good will, kindness, and generosity in the world, we become infused with a wholehearted sense of gratitude, which we’ll share with those around us in the year to come. 

Feel and spread the warmth of gratitude with these three tips: 

1. Find presence in letting go

Sometimes our busy and stressed-out minds—or even physical clutter at work or home—can get in the way of appreciating the moment we’re in. Clearing and refocusing with a favorite song, a happy memory, or some mindful movement can help us let go of what we no longer need. Try these five (quick) practices to declutter your body and mind.

2. Awaken your five senses with delight

One of the best ways to anchor in to the present is through our senses. This simple 5-minute guided practice helps you to discover newness and joy in the countless sensations that your body can experience, as you mindfully notice what you can hear, smell, taste, touch, and see.

3. Let your thanks flow outward

It may seem like the smallest thing, but saying thank you—when we feel it in our heart—is a loving gesture that can ripple outward to benefit others more than we know. Check out this gratitude exercise to begin practicing the art of authentic thankfulness throughout your day.

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