Meditation - An Oasis for the Soul

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Meditation is easy, anyone can learn how to meditate! It is a great tool for accessing greater self-awareness, peacefulness within and accessing your true self. Meditation benefits very aspect of your life and is the perfect source for renewing your body, mind, and spirit.

There are many ways to meditate. I am trained as a Zen Meditation teacher and so far, I have also been taught three other meditation practices. Generally though, meditation does not require any special lifestyle or diet, unless you choose this. However I am aware that there are many types of wonderful 'guided' and easy-to-access audio meditations, available to help you to get started.

Many studies have been done that show us that a regular meditation practice offers various profound mental, emotional, physical and spiritual benefits that include:

  • more restful sleep
  • stress relief
  • stimulates immune system
  • increased energy
  • more compassion
  • expanded consciousness
  • greater creativity
  • Deep restful relaxation
  • spiritual freedom
  • increased mental focus
  • more loving relationships
  • better emotional wellbeing
  • love and happiness
  • Develop your intuition

Meditation is a process that teaches you how to be still in the present moment by encouraging you to let go and practice a stillness of your mind. It is a natural and effortless exercise, which you may or may not find easy to access. Nonetheless, it may be helpful for you to consider what has motivated you to learn more about mediation and how you would like to utilise it in your life, since mediation will offer you an opportunity to become a silent witness, with ever-present awareness of everything in your life.

Here I want to focus on how meditation can lead you to experience greater spiritual awareness, from which at the same time, you can experience many of the other benefits which meditation has to offer.

We all need to start any formal meditation learning the practice from somewhere. There is a long and ancient history about how meditation traditions have evolved around the world. There are numerous ancient and contemporary meditation masters for you to access, either through reading, or attending on-going classes; but knowing which tradition to choose will depend on your reasons and preferences for your choosing meditation as a spiritual practice. Different spiritual traditions (and even within the same tradition), offer different approaches to teaching meditation, which can feel really confusing if you're not clear about what you're looking for and hoping to achieve.

For instance, many traditions teach you to focus your attention on a moving object like the breath, walking meditation, the flame of a candle, chanting etc., yet some other traditions will teach that you cannot meditate on a moving object, but yet both approaches have their value for creating better personal and spiritual alignment. Mindfulness as another example which is taught in numerous ways around the world. 

Over the years it's been my blessing to learn and study several types of meditation practice. The practice of 'mindfulness of breathing' so profoundly changed my life and also set me firmly on the path of spiritual seeker. It has meant unparalleled growth in my life unlike anything before, although I do now recognise that the life journey I have been granted, was undoubtedly always leading me in that direction, but understandably, I just hadn't recognised it as such.

There are so many great teachers to choose from. Apart from the obvious and various types of Buddhist or Hindu traditions, there are also Christian, Jewish, Sufi, African mediation forms, whether it's trough chanting, walking, singing, dancing, focused daily activity, prayer etc. the diversity available is thankfully immense.

My advice is to choose the spiritual or faith meditation practice and tradition you're 'drawn' to intuitively at first, learn the basics and stick to it until you get comfortable doing it on your own. It's at that point that you can make a decision about whether to join a sangha (community) and 'follow' the teachings of that particular faith or tradition for your personal spiritual practice.

An important thing to remember is that it can be helpful to approach meditation as a natural process that should never be forced. You can practice it anywhere, (except when you're driving our operating heavy machinery), briefly or for longer periods of time, but it's a good idea to establish a daily morning and evening practice.

As you build up your meditation practice, your experience of mediation will deepen and change, your brain waves will change as your mind becomes less active and chaotic. Ultimately, meditation is a vehicle that enables you to connect with the divine force that guides your life and to reach the attainment of your life-purpose. At it's deepest level and highest attainment, mediation is a path to true realisation or enlightenment.

Give up your attachment to the mind.
Strip it naked of the clothes of its thoughts,
And you dance naked, alone, radiant, and free.
Come join the ecstatic dance of silence
Into liberation Nothing.
You have nothing to lose
Except your mind
And the illusion that Truth can be found in the mind.
Surrender is never to an external guru.
It is giving up any position.
It is living with nowhere to stand.


-Dr Gabriel Cousens

Here are some basic preparation tips for getting started with a seated meditation practice:

1. Find a comfortable place and position in which to sit, in a chair, on cushions, on your bed...place your hands in a comfortable position.
2. Close your eyes to bring your attention within
3. Take a few deep breaths and allow your body to relax and settle, try not to slouch
4. Start your preferred meditation practice - If your mind wonders away to other thoughts, sensations, or feelings, gently return your attention to the focus of your mediation and any answers you are hearing from within you. 
5. Allow yourself to just be open and in the present. Try to surrender (give yourself to) to the process and continue your practice until the end of the time you have allotted for it.
6. At the end of your mediation practice, gentle move your body, you can stretch or wiggle your toes and fingers, then gently open your eyes, smile and stretch some.

Meditation practice can be applied to all aspects of your life, including sitting, walking, eating, speaking, listening, emailing, and working! 

Try an Eating Meditation
If you would like to become more mindful and appreciative of the food you eat, try this eating meditation.

1 - Select a piece of food (fruit, veggie, raw cracker).
2 - Find a comfortable and quiet space.
3 - Take 3 deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Sit up straight, but relaxed, try not to slouch.
4 - Pick up your food and really look at it, take in the colour, texture and it's shape.
5 - Closely examine the food, notice it's characteristic's. Is there anything you have not noticed before? Like bruises, variation in colour, an irregular shape or any bumps perhaps...
6 - Now it's time to take a deep breath in and out. On the out breath, release as much tension as you can.
7 - Think about the journey of this raw food. Did you grow or make it? Did you buy it, Where did it come from? Was it grown by a farmer, then picked and packaged for market or another country? How much energy did it take to produce this food? How much sun and water?
8 - Focus on feeling appreciation for the labour and care that went into producing this food so that it could get to you.
9 - Take a few more deep breaths.
10 - Take time to smell the food and to inhale it's fragrance, does it remind you of anything?
11 - Are there any pleasant or unpleasant memories associated with this smell?
12 - Honour those memories in your mind, without any judgement.
13 - Take a few more deep breaths.
14 - Now taste the food, move it around in your mouth, notice what thoughts and feelings come into your mind... 
15 - Honour ALL that you're feeling and enjoy the nourishment from this piece of food as you hold it in your mouth.
16 - Take a few more deep breaths.
17 - Now chew the food and notice the sound of chewing, the flavour and texture of the food, what do you notice thats different to when you usually eat this food.
18 - Now slowly swallow the food, feel the food slide down your throat, focus on how this feels, do you usually notice these feelings?
19 - Imagine seeing the food inside and it reaching your stomach, how does it feel?
20 - Take a few more deep breaths.
21 - Focus on feeling gratitude for the gift of this food and the energy and nutrition it will provide for you.
22 - Notice any thoughts and feelings about this food and about this meditation.
23 - Take a few more deep breaths.
24 - Smile as you focus on the gift of this food insight.
25 - When you feel ready, release this moment, stretch and move around.

(Adapted from UNH Health & Wellness)

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, often describes mindfulness as “being aware of what is happening inside and around you in the present moment.” The wonderful thing about meditation, whatever tradition or technique you may chose, is that it can become another lifestyle choice that will enhance your relationships, work life, personal wellbeing and community. It's your personal journey... 

Sistahintheraw aka Rev. Anita McKenzie is an ordained Interfaith Minister and certified Interfaith Spiritual Counsellor and meditation teacher.

Resource and Research:
https://www.dhamma.org/en/index
http://hippocratesinst.org/try-mindfulness-meditation-for-improved-mental-health

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/09/vipassana-meditation-retreats-enjoy-silence

http://thichnhathanhfoundation.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6_iA14i81gIVTpPtCh3hkgthEAAYASAAEgJNTPD_BwE

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201309/20-scientific-reasons-start-meditating-today

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/05/26/harvard-neuroscientist-meditation-not-only-reduces-stress-it-literally-changes-your-brain/?utm_term=.98c502c955eb


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© WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Rev. Anita McKenzie, is a Raw Soul Food and Holistic Health Lifestyle Mentor, she is founder of the brand "Sistahintheraw" and "Raw Soul Food" and a leading authority on Raw Food Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make healthier choices, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Sistahintheraw now atwww.sistahintheraw.com

Medical Disclaimer
Sistahintheraw.com provides information on this website as an educational service. This website does not provide medical advice. The information and reference guides in this website are intended solely for the general information for the reader. The contents of this web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. The products is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications and medical conditions.  

The Conscious Plate

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Food is a love note from God.”

Wow! I love this quote from Rabbi Gabriel Cousens M.D., it very clearly and succinctly conveys the truth of the matter. In the raw plant-based world, you are literally engaging with the blessings of conscious eating and spiritual food on a plate! We are raising our spiritual vibration and consciousness.

Don't let that put you off though...being more connected to yourself, the divine (whatever you may call it) and nature is a good thing isn't it? Let me explain...

As part of my personal spiritual development and professional training, I have been blessed to encounter great teachers and masters of plant spirit medicine, indigenous ritual wisdom and the Interfaith path. I don't tend to shout about it because I live with the gifts that opening to spirit has entrusted within me. This is translated into how I walk through the world right now, with an everlasting commitment to my ministry as a holistic health educator in it's interfaith sense. However spirit often reminds me that "Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it." -Bantu Proverb

It's not new thing to link food, faith and spirituality, it's a centuries old wisdom, with the most familiar these days being linked to fasting. However, thinking about consuming raw, plant-based food as a spiritual plate is not such a far reach either. Each day we can chose to enrich the quality of our lives with the elemental energy of the earth from the plants we eat, the energy of water from natural drinks and the electrical and warming energies of air and fire within our bodies, utilised to consume and process these life sustaining gifts of natural food.

Another way to think about it, is as sacred support for our journey through life, allowing us to generate s massive amount of self-awareness and energetic connection to everything around us (to each other and to nature). The ancients knew this and many spiritual seekers often eat in such a way as to allow for a feeling of 'lightness' within their body, so that their body is not over-burdened or weighed down by the process of digesting food and eliminating it.

You learn how important this can be when you practice sitting for 11 hours a day, for 10 days of silent vipassana mediation. Light food essential, as it is easy to digest and doesn't make you feel heavy and too full.

I remember my vipassana mediation retreat experience in India many years ago, the very light food was so easy to digest, it helped me a great deal, because the food passed through my system quickly, which helped me to be present in the experience of a powerful sitting meditation practice. Sometimes though, if you've been holding onto unresolved energies (feelings and emotions) in your life, this can definitely interrupt the flow of how food and digestion (constipation) can progress through your system, which your body will alert you to quite acutely. These energies can literally become 'blocked or blocked' and your digestion along with it.

There is a very clear link between the intention for an holistic raw food lifestyle and your capacity as spiritual human being. True freedom of spirit can only be achieved through a slow but sure evolving process, which allows our burdens and obstacles to start fading into the past, this is also true of the process for awakening to our true relationship with food and in turn, our health and healing.

We all know what it feels like when our senses feel clogged, our emotions blocked and our body feels too heavy, we can feel out of control; however when we feel connected to our lives in a dynamic and positive way, we feel light and joyful.

Spiritual practice connects us to the very heart of our being and eating the right type of food can add into that connectivity. Natural raw plant-based vegetables and fruit, that have not been overly processed is light and soluble and full of natural life force energy from the elements of the sun, water, air and earth.. When we consume these foods in their natural state, we are also receiving the electric energy they contain.

When we honour the energetic spirit that plants have to offer us as food, we eat with grace. So as part of that process, it's important to remember to bring gratitude to the table, for your food nourishment. Here are a few words of 'grace' which you could recite in you mind or out loud before eating, (or create your own):

1. "With wise reflection, I eat this food."
2. "Thus I let go of unpleasant feelings [of hunger], without stirring up new ones (of craving, overeating, etc).
"
3. "I give thanks to the many beings who helped this (breakfast, lunch, MEAL) become possible before me today. I vow to use this energy for only good. The Sun is in my Food."

When we can trust the elemental and nutritional value of our food, we change our relationship with that food and it becomes part of the love we can reply upon for our holistic healthful self-care. We begin to realise that by making a conscious choice to ingest food that allows us to love our body and receive the healing energies of nature, this daily ritual is mindfulness manifested and literally allows us to feed ourselves with love!

Conscious eating connects us with the centuries old, ancient wisdom that has at it's heart the understanding of the healing power of plants; it is a spiritual path which can open us up to deep cleansing and healing on all levels. Conscious eating also requires our mindful attention as to how we select, prepare and consume food, as well as how we dispose of our food debris.

"In the indigenous mind, fire kindles and sustains an animating and pervasive energy in all that lives. It is in the water that runs, it is in the trees, the rocks, the earth, and in ourselves. It is the mediator between worlds since it is very close to the purest form of energy. Fire is the rising force that makes us do, see, feel, love, and hate. Fire has great power, both outside of us and within us.” – from The Healing Wisdom of Africa

Having said all that and focusing on the positivity of the conscious eating path, it is important to remember that we must still do the work to educate ourselves about how we need to proceed on the path through life. We must learn as much as we can about how to make healthful choices, about spiritual practice and sacred support. Read the 'labels', as there are so many things (products) these days which are called 'spiritual', yet so many are a re-hash of ancient mindsets that have been re-packaged to suit our 21st century minds; often having lost much of their original essence and wrapped up in current day marketing speak for eye-catching prettiness. Be watchful, stretch yourself and go to the source as much as possible, this will enable you to make more 'informed' choices; and don't take my word for it, try it for yourself.

What we give power to in our minds and hearts, has power over us. If we choose to practice mindfulness (focused attention) on the work and ritual of conscious eating, just imagine the spiritual connectivity that we can achieve. Plus, we can call on healing of every part of our lives which becomes available when we make room for the possibility of on-going enlightenment. 💚

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Sistahintheraw aka Rev. Anita McKenzie is an ordained Interfaith Minister and certified Interfaith Spiritual Counsellor and meditation teacher...

Resource and Research:
http://treeoflifecenterus.com/gabriel-cousens-m-d/blog/
Book: Spirituality in Healing and Life by Brian R. Clement. SKU: 9780962237355.
http://www.bluedeer.org/teachers/eliot-cowan
http://hippocratesinst.org/spirituality-in-healing-and-life
 

Want to know more?

 Click to find out about sacred support.

Click to find out about sacred support.

Living Food = Vibrant You - Create healthier habits, try out one of our online wellness programmes, register here.

© WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Rev. Anita McKenzie, is a Raw Soul Food and Holistic Health Lifestyle Mentor, she is founder of the brand "Sistahintheraw" and "Raw Soul Food" and a leading authority on Raw Food Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make healthier choices, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Sistahintheraw now atwww.sistahintheraw.com

Medical Disclaimer
Sistahintheraw.com provides information on this website as an educational service. This website does not provide medical advice. The information and reference guides in this website are intended solely for the general information for the reader. The contents of this web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. The products is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications and medical conditions.  

May This Moment Bring You Peace - Sacred Journaling

“Faith and optimism can add years to your life. A bad attitude is like a flat tire. Until you change it, you’re not going anywhere.” – Denzel Washington

On reading this recent quote by Denzel Washington how do you feel? What thoughts come to your mind? Are they happy or sad? Does it remind you of past hurts in your life, or does it make you think of challenges you are facing right now?

Did you know that it is possible for you to process, ease or release them those thoughts and feelings, just by writing them down, then reading them back to yourself, out loud!

Using faith-based, spiritual and meaningful quotes and affirmations is a way you can go deeper within yourself to explore your inner world, which can help you to release stress and tension and create a more connected spiritual practice.

Questions and feelings about grief, sadness, anger, finances, relationships, work, family, war and oppression have been addressed by sages and the insightful for centuries and can be discovered in a myriad of their spiritual and meaningful quotes and affirmations.

Many faith and spirituality traditions teach us that we can experience relief in the practice of contemplation, not to dwell on our issues, but to transcend them. Sacred journaling provides a vehicle for such a practice. Write daily, or as needed, but be mindful that words (including your thoughts) have power, so try to utilise a position of 'up-lift-ment' in your writing. End each entry with a positive affirmation about what you would like your next steps to be moving forward. It can be as seemingly inconsequential as taking shower, or having a cup of tea, to preparing notes for your next book project, or planning a journey.

Try to make the process easy, as any rigidity could put you off. Equally though, choose an environment and physical position (if possible), that is conducive to the time which you have designated for yourself for this purpose.

Hearing your own words spoken out loud by you, creates a powerful resonance for inviting in the energy for change. Be gentle, take your time and May this moment bring you peace...

Blessings
Rev. Anita/Siatahintheraw


WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Anita McKenzie, is a Raw Soul Food and Holistic Health Lifestyle Mentor, she is founder of the brand "Sistahintheraw" and "Raw Soul Food" and a leading authority on Raw Food Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make healthier choices, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Sistahintheraw now at: www.sistahintheraw.com

 

Spiritually Raw

We are what eat, drink and think, holistically!

Early on on my raw food journey, my mentor pointed out to me that potentially, my spiritual awareness could expand and deepen on a raw food diet. This made sense to me, since I was already aware of a connection between consuming high ‘energetic’ food and our personal development and consciousness. That feeding ourselves with the best possible plant based foods on the planet, along with a commitment to active spiritual growth, together, can create a dynamic potential for increased  psycho-spiritual awareness.

There are many plant based health teachers and pioneers who recognise that this esoteric link is also part of the foundation of health and therefore acknowledge it’s importance in their work and teachings. This acknowledgement can not only help to encourage our commitment to our own personal growth and wellbeing, but also an understanding of our responsibility to support the promotion of moral and ethical, life sustaining food practices globally.

There are ancient health systems such as Ayurveda in India, that work on spiritual principles for creating life and health in balance. Thankfully we continue to benefit from these esoteric contributions which see life, health and spirituality as parts of a whole, that makes up who we are.

Food, health and spirituality are all part of the same journey to health and wellbeing. A direct link exists between what you choose to eat, how you feel and how much energy and mental clarity you have. For many of us, after a lunch or evening meal of starchy cooked food, often we feel drowsy or sleepy as our internal body system copes with the burden of digesting nutritionally depleted food. This can diminish our alertness and connection to our perceptive abilities. When we eat clean, nutrient dense foods, our body receives the cellular energy and energetic fuel it needs to be awakened on all levels, to what is around and within us.

For myself, I have noticed that over the past several years, the time it takes for me to connect with my inner awareness has become quicker and I put this down to the dynamic connection between my values, regular spiritual practices and physical exercise and of course my diet. By being committed to progress in my holistic personal growth, I continue to learn about what a life of balance means for me personally.  There are many daily discoveries about my needs, that are uncovered in my thinking, feeling and digestive processes; my body literally speaks to me in signs, as of what is working, or what needs tweaking. As I listen and watch, I have the opportunity to develop better lifestyle practices.

I’m always looking for inspiration and I read and research avidly. I walk and dance, meditate and am always trying to keep on track with my food nourishment. As a raw food lifestyle coach and spiritual counsellor, I help people to examine their values in relation to their lifestyle choices, in this way, we can create a roadmap for their desired health & wellbeing goals.

Not everyone is interested in spirituality and spiritual growth, but they will still benefit immensely from a making healthier lifestyle choices, including what they eat. For those who are interested, we are fortunate in this time to have so many experienced  raw, plant based food and spiritual role models and teachers in the world; they help and guide us on our journey. Several spring to mind, people like Gabriel Cousens MD, Leslie Kenton, Queen Afua, Derin Bepo and Dick Gregory, who have been out there leading us for many years by sharing their knowledge.

I also love the work of Deepak Chopra; and if you are looking for inspiration at this moment and you live in the UK, there’s another opportunity to go to his live workshop in London on 11th May, organised by Alternatives. He’ll be returning to his health and wellness roots, to bring an exciting new approach to holistic health that focuses on the hungers we experience physically, mentally and spiritually. You can book your place here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/1-day-deepak-chopra-seminar-future-of-wellbeing-partner-sistah-in-the-raw-tickets-11472206679

You can increase and deepen your sense of self through raw, plant-based nourishment and embrace the inner beauty that is you!

Love & Blessings
Rev. Anita - Sistahintheraw x



WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Anita McKenzie, is a Raw Soul Food and Holistic Health Lifestyle Mentor, she is founder of the brand "Sistahintheraw" and "Raw Soul Food" and a leading authority on Raw Food Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make healthier choices, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Sistahintheraw now at: www.sistahintheraw.com