Elder’s Meditation of the Day July 23

Elder’s Meditation of the Day July 23

“…the greatest strength is in gentleness.”

–Leon Shenandoah, ONONDAGA

Our Elders have taught us many lessons about becoming a Warrior and how to think and act like one. We have been told about the power of gentleness. We have been told about the power of the stillness. Physical power is about effort. Mental power is the opposite. It’s about being effortless or less any effort. Gentleness is one of the greatest attributes of the Warrior and one of the greatest mental powers. It takes a lot of love to be gentle. Gentleness is not an ego word. Gentleness is the weapon of the Great Spirit.

My Creator, today I will be gentle with myself and with others. I will listen to the whisper of my heart and learn the power of being gentle.

July 23 – Daily Feast

July 23 – Daily Feast

Much is lost through misunderstanding – and often because we want someone to know we are angry. We choose to think they intentionally displease us, though we know nothing of their circumstance of what their thoughts really were. It must be an ego-building thing to believe that someone is trying to offend us. Somehow it gives an importance where there had been none. We have the uncanny knack of building a sad story with such realism that it makes us think we are more important than we are. It is not enjoyable to be the kind of person who wants to misunderstand – not only other people, but also life itself. It is painful to be unhappy and disagreeable, but some cannot resist the temptation.

~ It has come to me through the bushes that you are not united (agreeable); come to me when you are united. ~

BIG BEAR

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Daily Motivator for July 23 – Abundance of opportunity

Abundance of opportunity

There is no shortage of opportunity. The more you make use of the  opportunities, the more opportunities you make.

Opportunity does not get used up, no matter how many people make use of it.  When opportunity is followed and fulfilled, it expands.

Problems create opportunities. And then the solutions to those problems  create even more opportunities.

A meaningful, valuable opportunity demands much of you. When you give your  effort, time and commitment to the opportunity, it becomes even more valuable  and meaningful.

Don’t be envious or resentful when others create great achievements from the  opportunities. Those achievements bring increased opportunities with them.

Move forward with the best opportunities. And as you do, you’ll create even  better ones.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Create a Supportive Life Story

Create a Supportive Life Story

Empowered Storytelling

by Madisyn Taylor

We all have a story to tell, but sometimes we get stuck in that story and become our story.

We all have our own life story. It is filled with relationships and events that help shape who we are and what we believe to be true about the world. Depending on our perspective and willingness to grow, our experiences can become fodder for negativity and patterns of playing the victim, or they can fuel a life of empowerment and continued self-development. It is the story we tell ourselves about what happens that makes all the difference.

Take a moment to look at the life story you create for yourself on an ongoing basis. If you generally feel peaceful about the past and trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way, then you are framing circumstances in a manner that serves you well. On the other hand, if you retain a lot of guilt or resentment and often feel weighed down by life, you may want to start telling yourself a new version of past and present events. No matter who the characters are in your story or what they have done, you are the only one who can give their actions the meaning they will have for you. You are the only one who can define what role you will play in your own life. By taking responsibility for your story, you are able to learn and grow, forgive and find compassion, and most importantly, move on into a brighter future.

From now on, you can choose a life story that supports you. Let it be proof of your own resilience and creativity. Be kind with the roles you give yourself and generous with how many chances you get to learn what you need to know. When you remember that you are the author of your own story, you are free to create a masterpiece

Make Me Strong in Spirit

Make Me Strong In Spirit

Make me strong in spirit
Courageous in action
Gentle of heart
Let me act in wisdom
Conquer my fear and doubt
Discover my own hidden gifts
Meet others with compassion
Be a source of healing energies
And face each day with hope and joy

~ Abby Willowroot © 1998

8 Tips to Become a Morning Person

8 Tips to Become a Morning Person

by Samantha, selected from DivineCaroline

You don’t have to naturally be an early bird to become one. Make the  following changes to your daily routine and environment and give  yourself a little time to adjust and you, too, can be one who effortlessly gets  the proverbial worm.

1. Go to bed early.

Yes, it’s a given, but it’s important enough to emphasize; in order  to wake  up early and feel refreshed, you must go to bed early enough to  get a full  night’s sleep. Additionally, you should make your bedtime  consistent every  night in order to create a pattern that you will  instinctively follow if  repeated long enough.

2. Wake up at the same time every day.

Just as too little sleep makes you tired, too much sleep does the  same  thing. Plus, if you don’t create a pattern for your body to follow,  it will  resist your early-bird intentions. Wake up at the same time  every day,  including weekends, until your body adjusts and ultimately,  you may not need a  wake-up call at all.

3. Get a relentless alarm clock.

The yin to the above tip’s yang, you aren’t likely to get up early  if you  can perpetually hit the snooze button. Find a fool-proof way to  make sure you  wake when you are supposed to—without delay—and you’re on  your way to morning  person status.

4. Don’t drink caffeine or excessive alcohol in the evening.

All your good intentions will be foiled if you drink the wrong  beverages.  Caffeine obviously keeps you perky, which is great up until  the time you’re  ready to go to sleep. Don’t drink any after noon,  especially when you’re  starting out your new routine, to give you better  snoozing odds. Alcohol, too,  can foil best-laid sleeping plans. It may help you get groggy,  but later it disrupts sleep, causing exhaustion that lingers into the next  day.

5.  Exercise in the early evening.

While exercise gets the heart rate going and boosts energy, it also  helps  you get seriously restful sleep—so long as you give yourself  enough winding-down time after your workout.  Break a sweat right after work and you’ll have plenty of  time to get groggy before bedtime. Bonus: It  helps eliminate the stress that  might keep your mind busy when it should  be snoozing.

6. Eat healthy early evening meals.

Food hangovers happen all the time. In fact, most of us are  suffering from  one at any given time. Unfortunately, the kind of foods  you eat can disrupt  sleep, too. While you’re not likely to change your  diet just to accommodate  sleep, you can and should eat on the early side  so your body isn’t overwhelmed  trying to digest and dream.

7. Prepare for your day the night before.

Being a morning person doesn’t have to mean you bound out of bed and  whiz  around. Any sleepy shortcomings you have can be overcome with some  advance  planning. Get your coffee at the ready, lay out your wardrobe  for the day, and  make your lunch the night before. Then you’ll have less  to do as you drowsily  get into your new routine.

8. Reconfigure your bedroom for optimal sleep.

Sleep experts everywhere recommend that you make your bedroom a  sleep  sanctuary. That means you should keep stimulating distractions,  such as the TV,  smartphone, or computer, out of the bedroom and focus solely on soothing things  that are conducive to getting your snooze on.

10 Habits for Better Sleep

10 Habits for Better Sleep

by Molly, selected from DivineCaroline

Getting a good night’s sleep ensures more than extra spring in your step each  day.  According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, chronic sleep  loss can contribute to weight gain, high blood pressure,  and a weakening of the  immune system! Conversely, good sleeping habits  boost the ability to learn and  remember things, keep weight in check,  keep an upbeat attitude, maintain  cardiovascular health, fight off  disease, and avoid accidents caused by  drowsiness. If you struggle with  getting quality zzzs, the following tips can  help you develop sleeping  habits to live by.

Go to bed at the same time every night. One of the best  ways to ensure you get enough sleep it to create a  routine that you and your  body become accustomed to. And step number one  in establishing a healthy sleep  routine is setting and sticking to a  bedtime that allows you to get enough  sleep—but not too much sleep.  (The National Sleep Foundations claims  the “right” amount of sleep is  based on the individual and his or her age.)  Select a bedtime that gives  you between seven and eight hours of snooze time  and you’re on the  right track.

Wake up at the same time every morning. The yin to the  above tip’s yang, waking up at the same time each day  not only assures you  don’t oversleep. It also enables your body to get  into a rhythm, and lots of  studies have shown that longstanding  routine—as well as adequate sleep—has been  linked to longevity.

Nap if you go off schedule. Travel, deadlines, worries,  and all kinds of other routine  interruptions can put a damper on your sleep  schedule. But rather than  try to make up lost time by sleeping in, it’s better  to take a midday  nap when you can. Otherwise, you will throw off your new  routine.

Don’t drink caffeine in the evening. The drink that gets  you going in the morning is also the one that  will keep you up at night—if you  drink it too late in the day. Know your  limits and avoid caffeine too close to  bedtime. After all, the last  thing you want to do is tuck yourself in only to  stare at the walls as  your heart races thanks to an after-dinner espresso.

Don’t use technology in your bedroom. Your TV,  smartphone, and computer are all gadgets that get your mind  buzzing, not  relaxing. In order to calm yourself down, it’s a good idea  to keep all  distractions out of sight, lest you be inspired to click on  the news or check  your email one last time. In fact, your bedroom  should only incorporate items  conducive to sleep.

Create darkness. Your body is designed to take sleep  cues from darkness. So why not  help it out by making your space nice and dark?  Use thick curtains or  shades, cover or hide the clock, and help your brain  power down for the  night.

Use a noise machine if necessary. Some noises are  soothing, such as the sound of the ocean or the  whisper of the wind. But other  noises—like loud neighbors or honking  cars—can keep you from getting the zzzs  you need. Luckily, there are  plenty of noise machines on the market that offer  a variety of “white  noise” options. Even a fan can help drown out unwanted  decibels if  you’re in a pinch.

Eat on the early side. Big meals right before bedtime  force your body to digest rather than  rest, while especially rich or spicy  meals may cause sleep-depriving  discomfort as they make their way through your  stomach. Eat light and on  the early side and you’ll ensure your food won’t keep  you up.

Avoid alcohol before bed. Sure, alcohol can make you  drowsy and even help you fall asleep. But  it also tends to wake you up in the  middle of the night, lessening the  overall quality of your sleep. Steer clear  of libations, or go moderate  early in the evening, to increase your chances of  solid sleep.

Make sure your bed is comfortable. If ever there were  an investment worth making, it’s a quality mattress and bedding.  Yes, these  items are expensive. But consider them a preventative  medical  expense—seriously. A good mattress and comfy sheets and pillows  help ensure you  get the sleep you need—and all the health benefits that  come with it.

Be Cautious of Gluten-Free Labels

Be Cautious of Gluten-Free Labels

by Molly, selected from Experience Life

Think you can have your gluten-free cake and eat it, too? Not so  fast.  Despite the hundreds of products that sport gluten-free labels,  the FDA has no  official standards to regulate the claim. For those  striving to limit their  gluten intake, that lack of regulation can be  frustrating. But for those with  celiac disease, hypersensitivities to  cereal grains, or certain autoimmune  diseases like Hashimoto’s  thyroiditis (in which the body mistakenly attacks the  thyroid), a  “gluten-free” food with traces of gluten can pose a serious health   threat. Fortunately, new rules likely to be unveiled later this year  should  clear up the confusion.

As it stands now, the FDA only requires companies to state whether  common  allergens, such as wheat or nuts, are ingredients in a product.  Labeling  regulations are lax for products potentially cross-contaminated  with allergens  during the manufacturing process — something that  happens frequently in  facilities that process a wide variety of foods.  That means small quantities of  gluten can easily sneak into products  labeled “gluten-free.”

The FDA is currently evaluating the issue. Many experts anticipate  that if  the FDA does adopt new regulations, they will mirror those  governing product  labeling in several European countries, which allow  companies to label  their products gluten-free if they contain fewer than  20 parts per million  (ppm) of gluten. Many researchers assert that  those levels are tolerable even  for people with celiac disease, says  Danna Korn, founder of Raising Our Celiac  Kids and author of Living Gluten-Free for Dummies (Wiley, 2010).

In the meantime, you can eliminate the guesswork by avoiding  processed foods  whenever possible. “The best way to avoid gluten is to  eat products that aren’t  manufactured,” says Korn. “Most natural, non-grain whole foods, such as  vegetables, fruits, meats, legumes and fish,  are  inherently gluten-free.”

 

7 Negative Effects of Refined Flour

7 Negative Effects of Refined Flour

by Molly, selected from Experience Life

Flour is hard to sidestep come mealtime. Breakfast brims with  toast, bagels,  cereal, pancakes. Lunch is built around sandwiches,  wraps, pasta, pizza. And  dinner may come with its very own breadbasket.

Flours are produced by crushing grains into fine powders. And those  powders  form the basis not just for breads and buns, but for a huge  variety of  processed foods, from cereals, crackers and pizza dough to  cookies, cakes and  ice cream cones. As a result, the average American  now eats 10 servings of  refined grains each day.

As our national appetite for flour has inched up, so has the  incidence of  diet-related ills, such as obesity, heart disease and  diabetes. Coincidence?  Many nutrition experts don’t think so. When they  weigh the evidence linking  food choices and disease, they see the white,  dusty fingerprints of flour  everywhere.

“Now that trans fats are largely out of the food supply,” says David  Ludwig,  MD, PhD, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity  Prevention Center at  Children’s Hospital Boston, “refined carbohydrates, including refined grain products, are  the single most harmful influence in the American diet today.”

Flour started out as an ingenious fix to a vexing problem. Grass  seeds were  plentiful, but the tough outer shell (the husk) made the  seeds difficult to  chew and digest. Early humans outsmarted the seeds by  grinding them between  stones, crushing the outer layers to get at the  goodness inside. The result — a  coarse powder — was the first  whole-grain flour.

The downside was spoilage. Crushing the germ released its oils, which   quickly turned rancid when exposed to air. With the advent of  industrial  milling in the late 1800s, machines began filtering out the  germ and pulverized  the remaining endosperm into a fine, white powder  that lasted on the shelf for  months. And so all-purpose white flour was  born — along with a host of health  problems.

Beneath their rigid architecture, whole-kernel grains conceal an  array of  vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber. But when machines  pulverize  kernels into flour, even whole-grain flour, what’s left  behind is a starchy  powder capable of wreaking havoc on the body.

The White Menace

Flour, as opposed to whole-kernel grains, is easy to over consume  because  most flour-based foods require little chewing and go down rather  quickly. “It  is so much easier to over consume any food where the work  of chewing or  digesting or separating fiber from starch has been done  for us,” says  functional nutritionist Julie Starkel, MS, MBA, RD.

Over consuming flour can lead to a number of problems in the body,  including:

Blood-Sugar Blues. Smashing a whole-kernel grain to   smithereens means it digests faster. Rapid-fire digestion causes blood  sugar to  spike, which causes a rise in insulin. The result? Not only are  you hungry two  hours later, but you are also paving the way for insulin  resistance and  diabetes. “The difference between a whole-kernel grain  and a processed grain  all boils down to the glycemic index, which is how  quickly the body turns food  into fuel, or glucose,” says Gerard Mullin,  MD, FACN, director of integrative  gastroenterology nutrition at Johns  Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., and  coauthor of The  Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health (Rodale,  2011). Foods made with wheat flour are particularly damaging. A  carbohydrate in  wheat, called amylopectin A, is more easily converted  to blood sugar than just  about any other carbohydrate. Two slices of  bread made with whole-wheat flour  raise blood sugar higher than six  teaspoons of table sugar and higher than many  candy bars.

“If we were evil scientists and we said, ‘Let’s make the most perfect   poison,’ it would be wheat,” says preventive cardiologist William  Davis, MD.  (For more on why Davis advises against  eating any kind of  wheat —  including even whole-kernel grains — check out his book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path  Back to Health (Rodale, 2011).)

Inflammation. A diet high in grains stokes inflammation.   When blood sugar spikes, glucose builds up  in the blood like so many   standby passengers on a flight. When glucose loiters  in the blood, it   gets into trouble by attaching itself to nearby proteins. The  result is a   chemical reaction called glycation, a pro-inflammatory process  that   plays a role in a host of inflammatory diseases — everything from    cataracts to arthritis to heart disease.

Food Cravings. Over the past 50 years, the amber  waves of  grain our grandparents enjoyed have been replaced with modern,  high-yield dwarf  strains of wheat that produce more seeds and grow  faster. The result is a  dietary wild card, says Davis: “Agricultural  geneticists never asked if these  new strains of wheat were suitable for  human consumption. Their safety has  never been tested.” One of the  biggest changes in modern wheat is that it  contains a modified form of  gliadin, a protein found in wheat gluten. Gliadin  unleashes a feel-good  effect in the brain by morphing into a substance that  crosses the  blood-brain barrier and binds onto the brain’s opiate receptors.   “Gliadin is a very mind-active compound that increases people’s  appetites,”  says Davis. “People on average eat 400 more calories a day  when eating wheat,  thanks to the appetite-stimulating effects of gliadin.”

Metabolic Slowdown. Research shows that the body may  shift  nutrients into fat storage and away from muscle burning in the  presence of  high-glycemic-index foods. In 2004, Ludwig and his  colleagues at Harvard  conducted a study, published in the journal Lancet,  in which they fed  rats diets with identical nutrients, except for the  type of starch. By the end  of the study, rats in both groups weighed  roughly the same, but those eating a  high-glycemic diet had 71 percent  more fat than the low-glycemic-index  group.

GI Disorders. Studies show that the lectins in  grains  inflame the lining of the gut and create fissures between cells.  Also, when  whole-kernel grains are refined, 80 percent of the fiber is  lost, and gut  health suffers. “Without the fiber, you end up with  rapid-release carbs in  these grains, which is a bad thing for the gut,”  says Kathie Swift, MS, RD,  coauthor (with Mullin) of The Inside Tract. Plus, fiber helps sweep the  gut of debris and supports the body’s  critically important elimination and  detoxification processes, which  also play a role in keeping high cholesterol  and inflammation at bay.

Food Allergies/Intolerances. Wheat, in particular,  is one  of the biggest dietary triggers of food allergies and  intolerances. While the  exact reason is unclear, many experts blame the  higher gluten content of modern  wheat varieties. A type of protein found  in many grains, including wheat,  gluten gives dough elasticity,  trapping air bubbles and creating a soft  texture. Because soft is  considered desirable, wheat today is bred to have more  gluten than ever  before.

Acid-Alkaline Imbalance. The  body has an elaborate  system of checks and balances to keep its pH  level at a steady 7.4. A  diet  high in acidic foods, such as grains,  forces the body to pull  calcium from the  bones to keep things on an  even keel. When researchers  looked at how the diets  of more than 500  women affected their bone  density, they found that a diet  high in  refined grains, among other  nutrient-poor foods, was linked to bone   loss. A highly acidic diet also  chips away at our cellular vitality  and immunity in ways that can  make  us vulnerable to chronic disease. “Grains  are the only plant  foods that  generate acidic byproducts,” says Davis. “Wheat,  in  particular, is among  the most potent sources of sulfuric acid, a  powerful  substance that  quickly overcomes the neutralizing effects of  alkaline  bases.”

 

Take Smaller Bites! Why Bite-Sized Foods Are Better

Take Smaller Bites! Why Bite-Sized Foods Are Better

by Eric Steinman

 

So much of the recent concern and debate over nutrition and obesity has  centered on the issue of portion size. With much of the fast food/junk food  industry marketing bigger is better, it is hard not to conclude that the  opposite might be true – small is preferable. Maybe a slider is better than a  Big Mac, and a bite of chocolate is better than a whole bar. Now, seemingly,  there is conclusive scientific proof that smaller bites are better than a  mouthful.

Researchers at Arizona State University investigated how the size and  number of food pieces affected human satisfaction and the human reward  mechanism. The researchers found that smaller pieces of food are more  “rewarding” and lead to a greater feeling of fullness than one large piece of  food with equal energy values. A food portion cut into multiple bite-sized  pieces may look more voluminous and will elicit greater satisfaction than the  same portion presented as a single large piece. This means that a plate of cute  little pizza slices will be infinitely more rewarding to a hungry person than  just four massive slices of pizza. This is good news for the calorie-conscious  who want to provide a more satisfying dining experience – just cut everything up  into smaller, bite-sized, pieces (if only it were that easy).

While this theory does hold some water, it is not clear whether we are  looking at a future of mini-everything. Sure it would likely be better for  portion control and sensible eating (not to mention a boon to marketers selling  bite-sized pieces at a premium), but we humans are hungry animals with an  unyielding desire for the grand offering.

What are your thoughts on smaller portions of food being inherently more  rewarding than big servings? Have you found this to be true for yourself? What  are some of your favorite small bites?