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Claire Symchysn

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Meditation – A Beginner How-To Guide

Meditation – A Beginner How-To Guide

One of the biggest trends out there right now is meditation and mindfulness!

These words get thrown around like confetti, and you may wonder what the big deal is. Perhaps you want to try meditation but don’t know where to start!

“Did I do the laundry?” “Are those papers filled out at work?” “I wonder what he’s doing right

now…”

These thoughts are totally normal and happen to everyone!

A common misconception about meditation is that it must be free of thought and done in silence, in a so-called comfortable seated position.

For many people, the seated position just isn’t comfortable-and I speak from experience! When I

first started meditating my back would throb as I forced myself to sit with proper posture and

attempt to quiet my mind.

I always left my meditation sessions feeling frustrated, like a failure, and nowhere near calmer!

So, what changed? My perspective. As a yoga teacher, meditation and mindfulness coach, I have learned and tried many ways of meditating!

What I have learned is that it is a different process for every single person. You may need to do a workout before being able to meditate as you have a lot of energy moving in your body. You may need to lie down comfortably and have silence, only listening to the sound of your breathing. You may even need to listen to a repetitive mantra and sit in a chair…

The HOW TO of meditation is really HOW TO relax your body, mind and soul-and this all depends on what works best for YOU.

Thoughts are going to come through the mind because humans are designed to think!

A thoughtless mind is not a human mind…therefore, when in meditation, one practices the witnessing of thoughts. This means that you allow the thoughts to come in, witness them, and release them with no attachment.

For instance, “I can’t believe I forgot to bring that container today” could be looked at with nonjudgement, a smile and an invitation to bring the focus back on your breath.

The goal of meditation is to pause the stream of thought and continually bring awareness back to the present moment. Focusing on the breath or a sound can help you come back to the moment of NOW.

There are many other meditation techniques and tricks that you can learn by participating in yoga classes, exercise regiments and even dancing! The mindfulness that you bring to any focused activity is the same mindfulness that you bring to your meditation!

Here’s an exercise you can try today for your own simple 5 minute meditation

Body Scan Meditation

Sit, lie down, stand, curl up, whatever feels best!

Begin to focus on your breath and notice the inhale and exhale flowing through the body. As you focus on your breath, start to notice your feet, beginning with each toe. Then travel up the leg, noticing how that feels, and continuing up through your stomach, back, arms, hands…and finally coming to your chest and head, making sure to relax all your neck and facial muscles as you breathe.

Allowing yourself the space to notice any thoughts that come through and simply watch them continue on, focusing back on your body and the parts that you are bringing awareness to.

Don’t feel bad if you fall asleep…that means you did something right!

 

Spaghetti Squash and Zucchini Parmesan

With the approach of fall, leaning towards cozy sweaters and comfort food is the norm- and nothing says comfort like spaghetti!

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy hot meals and delicious treats! It can be challenging to stay on top of healthy habits once the cooler temperatures set in!

It takes all of this author’s motivation to get up and go to the gym when the cold sets in! I find making meals with healthy bases helps me to stay on track, and not to mind so much when I don’t make it to that spin class!

Here’s a twist on a classic homemade meal that is one of my favorites-you know, the one your grandmother used to force you to eat more than 2 helpings of! This time though, it’s incorporating more plants, healthy fats and tons of good taste! I dare you to try this and not have 3 servings…at a fraction of the calories!

 

Spaghetti Squash and Zucchini Parmesan

When cooked, spaghetti squash separates into strings that can be covered in sauce, much like

pasta – a grain free alternative! It is full of fibre, vitamins and nutrients that help build up those

antibodies -definitely something that’s good to increase with the onset of cold season! The

squash and zucchini hold up well together, while the cheeses create a mouthwatering finish.

This warm fall classic will have you and your loved ones asking for more-make sure to double

your recipe if you like to have leftovers! The portions outlined below makes 4-6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • 1/3 cup caramelized onions (see below for these instructions)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parimigiano-reggiano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Pierce the spaghetti squash with a fork in several places. Microwave it on high power for 12 minutes, rotating every 3 minutes. Let the squash cool, then cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Scoop out the flesh into a large bowl. Add the zucchini, onions and tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into a shallow baking pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
  3. Remove the baking pan from the oven and turn the oven to broil. Top the vegetables with the grated cheese and place under the broiler until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Caramelized Onions

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced

Instructions:

Heat the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Add the onions and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often, until they are soft and brown. Let cool and then store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

These caramelized onions are easy to do and are a great addition for any of your favorite dishes! Add them to meals like salads, sandwiches and more!

Enjoy this plant based meal which is guaranteed to taste better the next day!

That is, if you manage to have any leftovers!