Step 3: Now We Eat!

Flanders, Netherlands

Flanders, Netherlands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Breathing air and drinking water will only sustain us for so long.

We are not ethereal cloud beings. We need  to eat. The food we eat provides first of all energy to keep us alive, and energy to let us work and play. Food also provides what our bodies need to grow, heal, and thrive. Whatever goes into us – becomes a part of us.

In the previous post I hinted at the concept of mindfulness – the focus of ones awareness on this moment in time, and observing that which is around us. Mindfulness is something we should do when we are eating. Since eating is something we need to do to stay alive – we are ready and willing to engage in consuming whenever possible. Two of our senses are obviously engaged when we eat and directly make eating pleasurable – our entwined senses of  taste and smell. But there is more than taste and smell involved in eating. The sight of food can stir our appetites; or completely take it way. Food has texture and the tactile sensation of food in our mouth enhances the enjoyment of eating. Even sounds are part of enjoying a bite to eat – from a satisfying crunch of an apple to the sizzle of something cooking on the grill.

Think about a food you enjoy and the way it looks. Imagine it is about to be cooked on a grill. It slips onto the hot grill and sizzles and pops in the heat. The smell of  the cooking food primes us for eating – making our stomachs growl in anticipation and our mouths salivate in desire. We watch it cook and see the outside brown and char. Perhaps we sprinkle on some spices and get another waft of heat and desire. It is slipped onto a plate, and we admire the colour and look of the freshly cooked food. Finally we taste our labour of cooking – our mouths happily engaged by the flavors and textures of the food.

There is a sensuality to food that goes beyond merely meeting a need. In a world of abundance we forget how to enjoy food, and the cost of getting food to our tables. We forget that food takes a long journey through time and space as it is planted, grown, harvested, sorted, shipped, packaged, delivered, purchased, prepared and finally consumed. Even so called “fast-food” takes a lot of unseen time to actually deliver to the counter where we are waiting.

Next time you eat – take the time to focus on what you are eating. Appreciate the wonder of that food that is in front of you. And enjoy!

Don’t just eat to stay alive – be alive in your eating!



Step 2: After breathing we go drinking

Water is the driving force of all nature ~~  Leonardo da Vinci

There is more to say about breathing and breath and air. For now what I have written is adequate. This blog is about not worrying about the perfect, instead we will work our way to being adequate and enjoy the journey.

Breathing gives us life, and water keeps us living. Water is what fills most of our physical form, and just like breathing it is vital that we drink. Breathing we do constantly – and we do it without thinking. Water requires us to be active and aware of our own body and our own needs.

When you are thirsty you drink. But when you are thirsty you have already gone too long without water. Take a second and focus on your inner body. Take some deep slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Close your eyes and listen to your body. Hear what it is saying: most of those noises inside you are the sound of liquid moving. Your blood flowing, saliva being swallowed, your digestion working inside you.

You are a walking stream. Living water in motion. Take a glass of cool water and look how clear it is. If you live in an area that treats its water with chemicals let it set for 15 minutes are so. Then smell it.  Not much of a smell. Taste it. Feel the coolness of the water as it sits in your mouth and slides down your throat into your belly. Sip some more until the glass is empty. There is no hurry – enjoy the fact you are breathing air and drinking water.

Drink another glass. Water for refreshment is best when it is around room temperature.  Every hour you should drink some water to keep your body in balance. There is no perfect amount you will know what feels adequate.

There is nothing complex to drinking water – except it doesn’t end with just drinking water. Since we are a living flowing pool of water that water must eventually flow back out. Just as it is in breathing that we can not be well if we hold our breath – we do not do well if we hold our water.  Water leaves our body with every breath; water leaves our body as we sweat; and water leaves our bodies as we excrete.  As the water leaves it takes with it the wastes of living.

The flow of water through our bodies cleanses. Think about what you are drinking and how that liquid merges with your blood, and cells. Whatever is in that water eventually reaches your brain, and in turn affects your mind and your mindfulness.

Here is your challenge for this week. Every time you have an opportunity to have a drink of water – take a drink of water. Sometimes you will want a coffee or a tea or even a sweet drink – and you should enjoy that drink as a flavour treat and an energy boost. Just remember what your body really wants and absolutely needs is pure plain water. Water a simple drink that is adequate for keeping us alive!

Česky: Pitná voda - kohoutek Español: Agua potable

Česky: Pitná voda – kohoutek Español: Agua potable (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What Students Really Need to Hear

A post that captures the ideals of being “adequate” and not worrying about being the best, being perfect, being accomplished. Perhaps I look at the world in the wrong way since I see our culture is focused on “achievement” as a measurable event. Somehow it seems that we only really succeed when we are in the 98th percentile.
My daughter came home with what is called the “interim report” – not a report card but a report that flags concerns. Every entry said “progressing well.” And she was upset. To me that is a wonderful report but you see “all” of her friends had at least one “progressing very well.” And she didn’t.
Her take away was this: She is not doing “very” well. And that is simply not the reality of her life, but that is how she is reading that ephemeral piece of paper. And that is probably how all her peers read their bits of paper.


It’s 4 a.m.  I’ve struggled for the last hour to go to sleep.  But, I can’t.  Yet again, I am tossing and turning, unable to shut down my brain.  Why?  Because I am stressed about my students.  Really stressed.  I’m so stressed that I can only think to write down what I really want to say — the real truth I’ve been needing to say — and vow to myself that I will let my students hear what I really think tomorrow.

This is what students really need to hear:

First, you need to know right now that I care about you. In fact, I care about you more than you may care about yourself.  And I care not just about your grades or your test scores, but about you as a person. And, because I care, I need to be honest with you. Do I have permission to be…

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Start Your Life: Just Breathe

In the beginning was the word – and the word was adequate.

So how does one move from the path of seeking perfection to becoming adequate?

My own view is you are already there. You are adequate – you just have to accept that you are adequate. First you must BE.

The place to start your life is with a breath. We are first of all simply air. The first  action you took when you were born was to breathe. Every moment is another breath, and with your last breath all that is you will end.

Sit down. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Feel the air enter your lungs. Hold it for a second or two. Let it flow out of your mouth in an easy relaxed exhalation. Let it all out until you think your lungs are empty, and then let out a little more. Feel the void, the space of the world around you.

Now inhale slowly through your nose. Slowly filling your lungs with clean fresh air. Hold it for just a moment, savour the life and energy flowing into you. And then exhale as before – slowly, relaxed through your mouth. Do this 3, 4, or how many times you feel like doing this.

Realize there is no perfection in breathing.

We simply breathe to live. Without adequate fresh air we atrophy, wither, die.

We can have all the food, water, money, whatever in the world – yet without air we end.

So go ahead be alive – and  just breathe.

I Adequate

I Adequate. Say it with me. Come on you can do it: “I Adequate!”

Life is a struggle at times. We are each parents, children, lovers, professionals, athletes, artists, thinkers, dreamers and so much more. We are complex and unknowable. And we feel like we are never good enough. We are taught from day one that we need to be the smartest, the fastest, the sexiest, the whatever mega-ist. And so we try and try and try and sometimes we really are. And isn’t that grand? There is no elation like success.

There is nothing that beats triumph.

And there is nothing as heart-rending as coming up short. Yet more often than not that is exactly what happens – we come up short.  And we then kick ourselves for not succeeding and make ourselves feel even worse. Or even better – someone near and dear to us points out why we failed. Ouch.

Well here is a little secret to make it all better. It isn’t going to make you the world champion. This secret isn’t going to make you win every race. In fact it isn’t even a secret. It is simply a change of attitude, and a change in what we think is success.

We live in a competitive society that measures ourselves against each other. Bobby is smarter than Robbie. Mary is prettier than Maria. Time to change the focus. Make yourself the measure of you. Stop wishing to be Bobby or Mary or whomever is the current measuring stick of the moment. Start being you and enjoying your own life.

So where do we start? Well ask yourself this: “Am I smart enough to live my own life?” The answer is of course “yes”. You are alive and you  have made it this far. You have overcome obstacles and challenges and learned lessons that no-one else will ever learn or experience in the same way as you. Your life-story is unique.

So start with this:

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.