abundantlifevegan

Spiritual Musings, Creative Inspiration, and Simple Vegan Recipes


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Why I am happier without Facebook (or at least less Facebook…)

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Of course this all started because of a conversation with my mother. Most of the time when my mother challenges me on something, I bristle at first, maybe get a bit defensive, and eventually come around to the conclusion that she is, in fact, correct.

About two weeks ago, my mother and I were chatting on the phone, and I was (as usual) complaining about how busy I am with my full time job, long commute and teaching several yoga classes a week. “I’m trying to meditate” I told her, but it still feels like there is not enough “space.”

“What about all the Facebook posts?” she queried. “Where is there room to be creative, to just think, to just be, with all the Facebook updates and sharing?”

Deep breath. Followed by several more deep breaths. Then the realization that she was absolutely, 100% right. Like many of us, I had access to Facebook on my phone, and on my computer at home, and literally every time I had a spare moment—I was checking Facebook or Instagram. Has anyone liked my post? Any good pictures to share? Have I been invited here or there? Etc. etc etc.

I decided at first to give it a week. One week, no Facebook, not on the phone, the computer anything. I admit—the first two days were very hard. I posted on my page letting people know I would be absent, and I was VERY tempted to check and see who liked it almost immediately! But after the first two days—I felt free. Yes, truly, I wanted to run around and wave my arms and shout “FREEDOM!!!” at the top of my lungs. Strange as it sounds—I was no longer tied down. It was so incredibly liberating to NOT feel obligated to check up on everyone’s life/ status/ baby photos/ vacation/ buzzfeed….

Some other things happened too. I was leaving the house earlier for work or the gym, because I didn’t have to check my phone first. I was enjoying the walks between the buildings on the campus where I work—because I was present, and not staring at the screen. I enjoyed the commute more, I either talked to my carpool buddy, or if she was driving, I slept. I felt more rested, more present, and that there was more “white space” in my head. When I got home from work, I would sometimes just sit, cup of tea in hand and (drumroll please…) DO NOTHING!!

In that same week, our desktop computer and my digital watch both died—as if the universe was coming together to say—“let go! You don’t need to be constantly connected, overwhelmed and burdened with the constant onslaught of information!” I even decided to take the Facebook phone app off of my iPhone. No more check ins, no more status updates. No one needs to know that I am at Durham Yoga Company for the 102nd time. Just sayin’.

After one week, I went back on— and discovered 4 messages, and 99 notifications. No way was I going to check all of those. And I had to laugh…there is also no way in hay am I that important! I made a commitment then and there to only check once a week. Just once a week. I would comment on or like things that were truly interesting, and then go. Go do something else. Connect with a real person. Breathe in the white space and feel grateful.

Thankfully, it hasn’t been that hard! I was worried that moderation would not be possible—but it is, and once you go off the Facebook for a little while, it becomes a whole lot less interesting.

To be fair, I am not fundamentally opposed to Facebook or any other social media for that matter. I love connecting with friends, and I DO enjoy seeing your baby pictures. (I also recognize the irony of sharing this blog link via Facebook. But I am grateful again that wordpress.com allows me to do that—otherwise most of you reading this would not see it, and would not consider possibly going on a Facebook diet. )

Changing my relationship with social media has changed my relationship with myself above all. I had become so hyper aware, hyper connected, and over informed—that my brain had lost the ability to truly pay attention. I had also lost the ability to just BE. Less connection with social media has helped me be more connected to myself, and with my priorities. And again, I am not against Facebook. But thanks to Mom, I began to see what I was missing out on in my own life while I was too busy updating my status.

Thanks Mom!

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Trail Running, Meditation and Homemade Chocolate

January has been a good month for me so far.  Along with sticking to a spending fast, I have also set a goal to return to a consistent meditation practice, as well as return to running (albeit in a different and way) than I have in the past.

Meditation is a practice that I have dabbled with for about two years now. In the past I have been consistent for a little while, then life would get busy—and I wouldn’t prioritize it any more. I know that I am a calmer, more grounded person when meditation is a regular part of my routine. I know that I am a sweeter wife and a more effective therapist when I simply start my day with deep breathing.

I have tried a few different practices, but finally two weeks ago—I found the key that makes meditation work for me.  I had the opportunity to attend a one day workshop on mindfulness, where I was introduced to the “gatha.”

In case you don’t know, gathas are short poems or verses that we can recite, regardless of where we are, to help us return to the present moment and to dwell in mindfulness. I finally found one that worked for me, and using this gatha as I meditate has helped me be consistent in my meditation for 10 days—the longest I have sustained a practice in quite some time.

The gatha I use is this:

Breathing in, I calm my body

Breathing out, I smile

Dwelling in the present moment,

I know this is a wonderful moment!

 

At the training we learned to practice like this, as you breathe say the words in parentheses silently:

Inhale (in)

Exhale (calm)

Inhale (out)

Exhale (smile)

Inhale (present)

Exhale (wonderful)

There are of course many variations of this, explained in Thich Nhat Hanh’s lovely little book, Present Moment, Wonderful Moment. I have found this little volume invaluable as I learn to practice mindfulness in my daily life. I am also learning that having a seated meditation practice is key for creating mindfulness in life. The other crucial piece has been choosing to meditate first thing in the morning, (rather than playing on my phone or on the internet, my usual morning routine!) Deepak Chopra calls this the “RPM” method—rise, pee, mediate. Trust me, it works. Some days I rise, pee, mediate, mindfully drink a cup of coffee, than meditate. But I am sitting, and practicing, and I can feel the difference.

One of the unexpected ways that my mindfulness helped me, was this past Saturday when I ran a 10 mile trail race—the first race I had done in nearly 3 years. It was a very cold, windy morning and I was wondering why I even signed up when we were waiting to start. As we started running, navigating single track trails, and alone with each other and the breath, I found myself reciting the gatha. And each step that I took was wonderful. I realized I had to focus as I ran in much the same way that I do when meditating. Each step, each breath, was something new. A new root, a new rock, a fresh patch of mud met me at my every step. I finished strongly (although I am not sure of my place or time—practicing some non-attachment with that!), and most importantly felt present throughout the entire run. I am eager to sign up for another trail race and practice my new favorite form of moving meditation.

One final piece to share—on my spending fast I challenged myself to make my own chocolate instead of buying the expensive “Endangered Species” chocolate bars I usually favor. I figured I could save money and probably make it healthier too. Enter the world’s easiest and healthiest homemade chocolate!

Dark Pecan Chocolate Bars

Ingredients:

½ cup cocoa (unsweetened)

½ cup coconut oil

1/3 cup coconut nectar

1 cup chopped pecans

Directions

  1. In a small pan, over medium heat, heat cocoa and coconut oil. Once combined, stir in coconut nectar.
  2. Once combined remove from heat and stir pecans in the mixture.
  3. Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper, pour mixture into the pan, and spread with a spatula.
  4. Place entire pan in freezer, and let harden for at least one hour.
  5. Remove, slice and enjoy!

I recommend storing these in the freezer if possible, I had to store mine in the back so I wouldn’t eat them all at once. You could easily sub 1 cup of any chopped nuts you would like, or add dried fruit, coconut, etc.

Happy January friends. Enjoy deep breaths, time outside, and plenty of chocolate until we meet again!

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