Chocolate can be a gift for body, mind and spirit – if used in moderation and meditatively. Americans’ love affair with chocolate tallies an astounding 3 billion pounds per year.
Given as a token of love on Valentine’s Day, it even loves us back – providing beneficial nutrients like iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium in addition to vitamins A, E and other antioxidants, dispelling our bad moods and literally providing food for thought by renewing our spirits and launching our meditations.
Dark chocolate, with its higher percentage of cocoa solids and the flavanols and antioxidants they contain, is particularly correlated with improvements in joint and arterial health and brain function, and lowering of hypertension and pre-menstrual tension. Chocolate has also been found to increase the level of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter associated with lifting depression. Eating chocolate meditatively can balance our heart chakras, opening us up to greater love and compassion.
To test the theory that chocolate enhances mood, a study was conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, with students consuming the actual product vs. pills containing stimulants found in chocolate. The real product provided the best results, suggesting that it is not the chemical ingredients in chocolate that provide the euphoria, but the sensory experience… the delicious taste, seductive smell and silky smoothness. The researchers concluded that perhaps the mood-enhancing chemicals are just the icing on the cake.
Chocolate is a product derived from the fruit of the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao that means “food of the gods.” This tree evolved in the wild in South America where the Aztecs, Mayans and other ancient civilizations used the roasted cacao bean to make a bitter drink that was considered sacred.
Today, chocolate comes in many varieties, most of them sweetened to make it the candy of choice. Holistically, chocolate can be seen as a symbol of the sweetness of life and enjoying it can remind us that love is what satisfies us the most. By paying attention to the things we love, and appreciating those we love, we can powerfully design our lives around what fulfills us and gives our lives meaning. In this perspective, chocolate is to the soul what a massage is to the body.
Visit Chocolate Therapy for a meditation you can do in the time it takes to eat a piece of chocolate.
The Author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman, has done it again in yet another book Called; The Warrior Athlete-Mind, Body & Spirit; Self-Transforming Through Total Training. Dan Millman was an Olympic Level Gymnast who over came his fear of heights as a child to become a world-class athlete. Dan gives us insight into the realm of Eastern Philosophy, Martial Arts and combines these with athletic excellence.
As a coach in later years Dan makes some astounding advice to athletes, trainers, coaches and those in all walks of life on how to over come their fears and seek success in any and all their endeavors. You can learn how to use these principles to overcome any challenge and they are so simple that it is hard to imagine anyone actually reading this book not doing these things to advance themselves, their family or their team.
In The Warrior Athlete-Mind, Body & Spirit; Self-Transforming Through Total Training, Dan Millman makes a rather interesting statement is made regarding the pressures on an athlete when he states;
“Give me this pressure, show it to me and then perhaps I can help you get over it”
Of course the athlete cannot show him the pressure or stress he is feeling and thus it is not real and if it is not real, then why worry about it. The athlete in question agrees and goes on to give a star performance. The book is filled with such tid bits of real world sports psychology. I would recommend reading this book twice.
Read it through once and then read it again and outline all the important points to help you in your life, sport, business, relationships or career. I certainly hope this article is of interest and that is has propelled thought. The goal is simple; to help you in your quest to be the best in 2007. I thank you for reading my many articles on diverse subjects, which interest you.
When you look out your window you see the evidence of Spring’s new birth everywhere. The trees are bright with green again, tulips are blooming and the birds are back with their songs. In harmony with nature, we wish to feel new again too.
It’s natural at this time of year to want to clean house. The cold dark days of Winter leave us feeling sluggish and unmotivated. Winter excess fades our skin and expands our waistlines. Spring allergies may indicate an overworked liver thanks to all those holiday celebrations. Unfinished projects and household clutter impede the flow of energy through our lives. The spirit is ready to wake from hibernation and enjoy new connections.
This article provides great suggestions to begin cleansing your body, mind and soul of the past. Prepare to have your best Spring ever.
Freshen Up Your Body
Spring is naturally the most popular time of year to begin a cleansing program. A cleanse can help us shed unwanted pounds and improve our energy. According to Chinese medicine, Spring is associated with the liver – an organ essential to digestion and the elimination of toxins. Some foods and drink that are especially troublesome for the liver include alcohol, chemicals, drugs, fried foods and meats. An overworked liver may cause low energy, stress, mood swings, and inflammatory conditions.
There are many kinds of cleanses to choose from, based on the needs of the individual. One simple recommendation is to do a few days of fresh fruit and vegetable juices, along with plenty of water. Increase exercise and sweating to help rid the body of excess toxins. Adding more greens to your diet now will help to freshen, cleanse and build the body. In Staying Healthy with the Seasons Dr. Elson Haas also recommends water with lemon, fresh organic cold-pressed olive oil, milk thistle herb and olive leaf extract to support and disinfect the liver.
Along with what you eat, how you eat your food is also important to your overall health. Eating a meal under stress disrupts the body’s ability to properly digest and absorb the nutrients the food provides. Before you begin to eat, take a few slow deep breaths into your belly. As you eat, chew well and stop when you feel full. These subtle changes can bring a great deal of healing to your body.
Clear Your Head and Home
In Winter we spend most of our time indoors and often this leads to a lot of clutter build-up. A cluttered desk, closet or room is usually an indicator for a cluttered mind as well. We hold onto material possessions that we no longer need and this creates a stuck energy in our lives as well as our homes. As Karen Kingston writes in Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui: “an ordered home means an ordered mind.” She suggests trying the clutter test on each item in your space. Ask: “Does it lift my energy when I think about it or look at it? Do I absolutely love it? Is it genuinely useful?” If you answer “no” or “sort of” to any of these questions, let it go. Trash it, give it away or recycle it. Make room in your mind and your space for the new. This same principle applies to the clutter of limiting ideas and memories in your mind. If they are not serving the purpose of your life, it’s time to say good-bye.
As you transition your wardrobe from cold weather to warm weather, fill some bags with clothes you haven’t worn and drop them off with your favorite charity. A general rule to follow is if you haven’t worn it in over a year, you won’t miss it.
Nourish Your Soul
The spirit or soul is what connects us with something larger, with Nature itself and with our innate creativity. Feeding your spirit is a very individual experience. For some it means religious celebration and being part of a like-minded community.
Others find inner peace through yoga, tai chi or meditation. For some, a spiritual experience can be as simple as a walk in the park, a day at the shore, an afternoon of gardening or laughing with a child. Whatever your preference, create the time to connect with yourself. Enjoy deep belly breaths, write in a journal, reflect.
Once the soil of your life is replenished, what will you plant? Allow yourself permission to daydream, an oft overlooked but extremely important activity. It is in daydreaming that you learn the most about your true self, your creative wishes and desires. Visualize the life that you want. Create an action plan and take your first small steps. The Spring rain will make your dreams grow and blossom, the Summer sun will give them strength and power, and the Fall harvest will bring you success and achievement. But only if you begin today.
Insights/Distinctions: Very important for me had been the concept of living a balanced life however in practice, I wasn’t entirely certain what balanced meant? How far do I need to move the needle…and I confess it was easier said than done! I learned why – in mind I felt that I was either pressing the gas pedal or easing off – when you’re learning to drive it can feel abrupt. I read Stephen Covey’s “The 8th Habit – From Effectiveness to Greatness” a few years back that helped frame a slightly different perspective. “At the core, there is one simple, overarching reason why so many people remain unsatisfied in their work and why most organizations fail to draw out the greatest talent, ingenuity and creativity of their people and never become truly great, enduring organizations. It stems from an incomplete paradigm of who we are – our fundamental view of human nature. The fundamental reality is, human beings are not things needing to be motivated and controlled; they are four dimensional – body, mind, heart and spirit.”
While he applies this to the workplace, I saw value in my own perspective of my own life. I didn’t need a gas pedal and brake – I needed to be concerned for each aspect concurrent and overlaying the others – taking all aspects into account always as every problem, issue, opportunity involves all aspects. In this regard, was I myself aligning my own values, commitments and actions to a whole-person paradigm of me? An obvious clue is in how we allocate our own personal resources – the investment that we make in ourselves with our time and money, in our relationships, and in our willingness for continual growth?
Here is a simple way that Stephen Covey organizes the thinking around the whole-person paradigm that can become a very effective framework and reference point for building on our enjoyment, satisfaction and success through 2010! A few years ago, I included this in my slide show “vision board” to inform my personal Ten Year Vision which I review regularly!
Four Human Needs
Body – To Live (Survival)
Mind – To Learn (Growth and Development)
Heart – To Love (Relationships)
Spirit – To Leave a Legacy (Meaning and Contribution)
So in order to simply and best fulfill our needs…
Body – Keeping arteries clear
Mind – Continually Learning
Heart – Involving others
Spirit – Living as though life is guided by a higher wisdom
Applying the Whole-Person Paradigm to how we see employees…
…and relating those to how we govern our own conduct and for those around us. In running your own business or working for an employer with responsibility for others, it is important to make the distinction between management and leadership which I will discuss in detail in coming months. A simple view for this purpose is that we manage things (budgets, plans, accounts receivable) and we lead people. Here you can think about your own personal leadership as it relates to your own professional and personal life.
Stephen Covey points out, “The new Knowledge Worker Age is based on a new paradigm, one entirely different than the thing paradigm of the Industrial Age…people have choices. Consciously or subconsciously, people decide how much of themselves they will give to their work depending on how they are treated and on their opportunities to use all four parts of their nature. These choices range from rebelling or quitting to creative excitement. One who is paid fairly, treated kindly, used creatively and given opportunities to serve human needs in principled ways – makes one of the upper three choices of cheerful cooperation, heartfelt commitment or creative excitement.” We choose to engage or withhold in personal relationships all the time. You can read about a very lovely young man who realized this for himself recently! How happy for his family that he had this insight!
And finally, Steven Covey suggests making these four simple assumptions to “immediately begin leading a more balanced, integrated, powerful life.”
For the Body – assume you’ve had a heart attack; now live accordingly
For the Mind – assume the half-life of your profession is two years; now prepare accordingly
For the Heart – assume everything you say about another, they can overhear; now speak accordingly
For the Spirit – assume you have a one-on-one with your Creator every quarter; now live accordingly
Personal Story: Whether you have teenagers, are married, are an employee, someone’s boss or partner, this is fantastic food for thought! I quit a previous job that paid me fairly (Body), used me creatively (Mind), however did not consistently treat stakeholders fairly (Heart), and did not consistently act in principled ways (Spirit). When we are clear about our own values and principles, we are sometimes called upon by our “whole person being” to make what can feel like difficult though right decisions. This is where we experience the largest personal growth when called upon to demonstrate personal leadership in regards to oneself or those within our family or community. Otherwise, we will continue to get what we are willing to put up with! The Abraham-Hicks teachings say that there are no limits to our joyous journeys to experience. Isn’t it time to begin creating the life we wish for?!
Quick Tip: I found “The 8th Habit” by Stephen Covey to be invaluable to me as a manager and leader responsible for highly productive teams and in charge of nurturing and growing my family. This book also contains fantastic information about Finding Ones Own Voice and then Helping Others to Find Theirs. I will discuss in future posts how we reach inside ourselves and others to discover and engage genius, talents and passionate engagement. This has very practical application to families, business and any of the communities we belong to. Enjoy!