A Valentines Message – The Sweetness of Life

Sweetness...hum mm... the word holds the promise of something...well...sweet. We know it as a taste experience, usually yummy and a scent, usually pleasant, yet it's more - much more. We say someone is "sweet", we use the word to define an act of kindness, or an action that melts our heart. In the experience of sweetness, we drop our guard, our defenses, our heart opens and surrenders to its feeling experience.

Our second energy center (chakra), located at the center of the belly, is our "feeling" center and its name  translates as "sweetness".  It holds the experience of "sweetness" as a "soul" quality essential to the human experience and to life. This sweetness is not sentimental or maudlin. It's an aspect of pure love that flows from our essence and it's powerful. Still, how many of us would characterize life as "sweet"?

There is no question that life can be challenging; yet challenge doesn't negate sweetness. In fact this quality can help us to successfully meet our challenges. If you're thinking that's a bit of a stretch, consider this. The heart is the center and balance point in the body, mind and spirit system. To meet a challenge we need full access to its resources. Given half a chance, the quality of sweetness can melt the biggest barriers and give us access to our heart and a soulful flow that nourishes and strengthens us at the deepest level.

Can it be that our lack of connection to this essential soul quality has something to do with our seeking sweetness, sometimes obsessively, through food? Do sweets evoke a memory of a much more essential and profound experience, and of our longing for it? I believe it does, and since this longing cannot be satiated through the temporary and superficial pleasure of sweets, we keep going back for more.

Since sweetness opens our heart, what would happen if we consciously chose to open our hearts and made that a life practice? In my experience, "sweetness" begins to flow like honey and with it a sense of wellbeing, clarity and deep satisfaction.

Valentine's Day is a celebration of the heart and the love and sweetness it holds. Perhaps this year, this perspective on the nature and power of sweetness can inspire you to open to that deep reservoir within your own heart Prto bring an endless supply of "sweetness" to your life. Below you'll find a simple practice to assist you in this process.

  • Sit comfortably with the spine long, the feet flat on the floor and the shoulders relaxed.
  • Bring your awareness to your breath, allowing its natural rhythm to emerge.
  • As you relax, bring your awareness to the center of your chest (heart chakra) and allow a memory of a sweet experience to come forth. Remember the details, make the memory as vivid as possible and let the "feeling" experience of the memory fill your heart space.
  • As you inhale take the feeling in, as you exhale send it into every part of your body, every cell. Do this for a few minutes allowing "sweetness" to permeate your whole being.
  • Gently bring yourself back and move back into your day allowing the experience of sweetness to flow into your actions and interactions.

Happy Valentine's Day Sweet Hearts!

Maria J. Garcia

 

10 Tips To Balance Blood Sugar and Boost Energy

Do you wake up tired even though you've had plenty of sleep? Do you need coffee or soft sugary drinks to keep you going? During your day do you feel cranky, tired, forgetful, weak or dizzy, if you don't have your regular caffeine or sugar fix? If the answer is yes, you may have a problem with your blood sugar.

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Knowing how to maintain balanced blood sugar is key to unlocking better health. You will naturally increase your metabolism, ward off unhealthy cravings, improve your concentration, have more energy throughout the day and might even shed a few pounds. With consistent blood sugar glucose levels, you will lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Some simple eating and lifestyle changes can make a huge difference improving your vitality and quality of life. Unless your condition requires immediate attention, you may want to introduce these changes over a period of some weeks, starting with the ones that are easiest for you to implement.

  1. Always eat breakfast - It is by far the most important meal of the day. Without the kick-start of calories provided by a healthy breakfast your body will burn off existing tissue including lean muscle mass in order to wake itself up and get your blood sugar levels within the required range. A healthy breakfast will stabilize your blood sugar naturally without putting unnecessary strain on your pancreas and liver.
  2. Eat a variety of protein - Beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds and fish are excellent sources of protein. Some beans, especially peas, lentils and adzuki beans contain both protein and slow releasing carbohydrates, which are essential to maintain balanced blood sugar levels. Beans are an excellent addition to soups and stews. Nut butters in small amounts (due to their oil content) on a wedge of apple are a delicious snack.
  3. Drink pure water
  4. Avoid all foods that contain artificial sweeteners
  5. Avoid or at least limit your intake of tea, coffee and soft drinks containing caffeine - Even without added sugar, caffeine can upset blood sugar regulation resulting in many of the same problems that come from eating fast releasing carbohydrates. Experiment with the many great herbal teas that are available I guarantee you will find one you love.
  6. Eat plenty of whole grains, vegetables and fruit - These foods have minimal impact on blood sugar levels, are fiber rich, digest slowly and provide the body with carbohydrates and energy without causing a sugar spike. As your Mother used to say eat your veggies.
  7. Include good fats in your diet - Olive oil, avocados ( also high in protein) and sesame oil are very good choices.
  8. Have plenty of freshness in your diet - Eat fresh vegetables for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yes, even breakfast! A fresh vegetable juice is a great addition to breakfast and a welcomed pick-me-up during the day. A blanched or pressed salad is extremely refreshing; as is delicious salad packed with micro greens, sprouts, baby arugula, fresh watercress, parsley, scallions and chives.
  9. Make sure your meals are balanced and varied - Three meals a day eaten at  the same time will help you align with your body's natural rhythm. Avoid eating three hours before bed as this helps the food to digest naturally before sleeping.
  10. Exercise - A brisk 20 minute walk helps balance blood sugar and stops cravings. Take a yoga class. Yoga has been found to lower fasting blood sugar in people with diabetes, as well as levels of hemoglobin Alc, a measure of long term control of blood sugar.

Don't be hard on yourself if it takes you a while to establish a routine. Create a support group. Find like-minded people who would like to cook or walk together. Take some cooking classes to learn new things and be inspired.

There are amazing natural treats that taste divine. Here is a family favorite that my kids absolutely love. For Valentines Day surprise your family, friends and coworkers with a delicious natural treat of Divine Almond Cookies. Enjoy!

Divine Almond Cookies - 12 cookies

Ingredients (I recommend organic)Cookies

  • 2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 cup of almonds ground into coarse flour in a food processor or blender
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 1/2 cup non-GMO maple syrup or brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • Strawberry fruit spread or jelly of your choice for the center of the cookies

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 360 degrees.
  2. Blend the almonds to a course flour in a blender or a food processor.
  3. Sift flour, add baking powder and combine with almond flour.
  4. Pour the oil, maple syrup and extracts into a bowl and whisk with a fork until thick.
  5. Gently add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing gently into dough.
  6. Form the dough into small, 1/2 inch high discs and place them on a cookie sheet, leaving plenty of room between them.
  7. Create a slight thumbprint indent in the center of each cookie.
  8. Place 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of fruit spread or jelly in the indent.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
  10. Remove and place on a plate to cool.

Note: You can substitute whole-wheat pastry flour with gluten-free flour or add your own mixture of flours to meet your health needs. A must try treat!

Yummy!!! Michele Dirks