Guided Meditations in Challenging Times

At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, our Saybrook University Mind-Body Medicine faculty felt called to offer support to our students, faculty, staff, and perhaps others beyond our university. How could we contribute to sustaining wellness through challenging times with only virtual connections? Self-care is the cornerstone of our Mind-Body Medicine graduate program, and we wanted to reach out to anyone who might benefit. With our diverse backgrounds in meditation and mindfulness, we chose to offer guided meditations offered virtually to the public.

Our faculty, alumni, and advanced students offered 15-minute Mindful Moments each weekday for the first few months, then three times a week. Since January 2021, we have guided meditations online twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays at 9:15 am Pacific time. The Zoom room opens at 9:00 am to gather and connect before our time together meditating.

Recorded Meditations

We record the meditations, and the audios are publicly available through Spotify on the Saybrook University Mindfulness Moments Podcast. You can also find them at Saybrook Insights. Videos of many of the meditations are uploaded to our Saybrook University Self-Care YouTube Channel, along with some 1-hour meditation circles and yoga classes. Here is the description on our YouTube channel:

Self-care is one key to good health and wellness that comes in many shapes and sizes. Some practices aim to support body, mind, and spirit with a simple routine, while other practices involve more extensive learning. In this collection, Saybrook University faculty, students, and alumni serve as guides in various mind-body based experiences. Visitors to this site are invited to sample a variety of mind-body-spirit techniques and return regularly for additional self-care practices.

You can find links to many of my guided meditations on my Meditations page. I invite you to use any of these resources and share them with others who might benefit.

Join us on Zoom

We welcome you to join our ongoing live Mindful Moments on Mondays and Fridays at 9:15 am Pacific time:

Zoom Link
Meeting ID: 965 5577 8825
Password: 182085
To Join by Audio Only and to find your local number:
https://tcsedsystem.zoom.us/u/ac2sGhpBw2

Wishing happiness, health, and peace to all!

Food not of my own making

1.31.2013 Selene's meals

I enjoy having food cooked and served to me, as long as it’s something that will make my body happy, something that tastes good and is healthy. It’s very disappointing to be offered food that isn’t really what I want or need. This past week I was fairly happy with most of the meals I had while away, though I would have liked more choices of protein for breakfast than hard-boiled eggs. Generally, though, I felt supported by the food provided. Today, traveling by plane without the opportunity to prepare or even purchase food for the trip, I was not so happy. Apples, leftovers, honey roasted peanuts, a protein bar, and a caffe’ latte were not really satisfying. I’m looking forward to cooking at home again, and some of my favorites that were not available, like Greek yogurt.

I want to be flexible and adapt to whatever situation I’m in. I want to be able to take good care of myself without that distracting from the experiences I’m having. Sometimes it’s difficult to balance those, and that becomes an opportunity to do the best I can and not get stressed about the parts that are not what I would choose in an ideal situation. But it’s good to be home!

1.30.2012 Selene's meals

1.29.2013 Selene's meals

1.28.2013 Selene's meals

1.27.2013 Selene's meals

1.26.2013 Selene's meals

1.25.2013 Selene

Traveling food

I took the time to prepare food for my flight, knowing that I would leave mid-day and arrive late in San Antonio, where I’m teaching and mentoring with Saybrook University’s School of Mind-Body Medicine at the residential conference. I made a big salad, a frittata, and a small chopped salad. I ended up eating the chopped salad for lunch, with a bag of baby carrots for a snack, then the big salad for dinner. The frittata stayed in the hotel room refrigerator and made a great breakfast this morning.

1.24.2013 Selene's meals

1.23.2013 Selene's meals

1.22.2013 Selene's meals

1.21.2013 Selene's meals

1.20.2013 Selene's meals

My experiment last week with saving all of my planned indulgences for one day and just eating what I wanted that day was interesting (see 1.19.2013, the next photo). When I’m generally avoiding bread and baked goods, that’s what I’m drawn to, along with high fat foods like halvah and cheese. I’m not sure it works for me to eat that much of those things all in one day. I may return to a more moderate pacing on planned indulgences, though so far this week I seem to be satisfied with just the healthy choices I’ve been making. I will wait and see how it goes over the next few days.

1.19.2013 Selene's meals

A Week of Mindful Choices

I have been careful this week in my food choices and amounts, and I am feeling more energetic and lighter in response. Looking forward to a bit more range in my choices on Saturday–a planned indulgence day! I am pleased to have made an accountability agreement with a friend to check in with each other by email each night about our morning self-care time and our day’s food choices. It really does make a difference to have that connection to support commitments we are making to ourselves.

1.12.2013 Selene's meals

1.13.2013 Selene's meals

1.14.2013 Selene's meals

1.15.2013 Selene's meals

1.16.2013 Selene's meals

1.17.2013 Selene's meals

1.18.2013 Selene's meals

Food for a Retreat

Salad, roasted broccoli & red onions, butternut squash & kale lasagna with hazelnuts

I rushed from the airport Wednesday afternoon (just arrived from visiting family in North Carolina) to the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market to gather produce for the women’s singing and yoga retreat with Heather Houston and Jaclyn Long at Skyote Mountain on Saturday. Lots of winter squash! And Happy Boy Farm still had the wonderful watermelon radishes I had shared with my family in NC last week.

Saturday morning I made chai for the group, perfect for the rainy, foggy day. I make my chai without the black tea or milk–that way each person can add what they like. I offered organic 2% milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or almond milk, along with honey, organic sugar, or stevia for sweetener. My mix doesn’t really need sweetener, as the licorice root and star anise sweeten it enough for most.

Chai

For 6 cups

2-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into thin rounds (you don’t need to peel it, just rinse first)

2 cinnamon sticks

½ teaspoon black peppercorns

½ teaspoon whole cloves

10 whole cardamom pods (crushed a bit in a mortar & pestle)

1 tablespoon dried licorice root

A few star anise

6 cups cold water

Bring a pot of water to a simmer with the spices in it and simmer for about 20 minutes. You can just put everything directly in the pot and then strain it out when it’s done. I usually use a large tea ball for the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, and licorice, then add the ginger and cinnamon sticks directly to the water.

When it’s ready, add as much milk or alternative milk as you like. If you are adding a lot of milk, you might heat it first so it doesn’t cool down the chai. The mix without milk can also be stored in the refrigerator and then mixed with milk before heating up.  If you want it with black (or green, or white) tea, just pour the chai over the tea and brew for the appropriate time before or after adding the milk. (Remember that the casein in milk may diminish the antioxidant effect of the tea–studies appear to be inconclusive on this).

The dinner menu:

Butternut Squash & Kale Lasagna with Hazelnuts

Roasted Broccoli & Red Onions

Salad of Happy Boy Farm Baby Greens with watermelon radishes, carrots, cucumber

Gluten-free Multigrain Miracle bread

Flourless Chocolate Cake & ice cream (plus pistachio halvah that Vladi brought)

Flourless Chocolate Cake with ice cream and pistachio halvah

Recipes

Butternut Squash & Kale Lasagna with Hazelnuts

3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk

1/4 cup gluten-free flour mix (I use a mixture of 2 parts brown rice flour, 2/3 of one part potato starch, and 1/3 of one part tapioca flour)

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup diced onions

1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

8 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

Cooking spray

1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb. kale, large ribs removed, chopped

9 cooked lasagna noodles (8 ounces uncooked noodles)

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese

1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook milk in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat; keep warm.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Melt butter in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; cook 2 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat; add flour to pan, and cook 5 minutes or until smooth and golden, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add about 2 tablespoons warm milk to flour mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add remaining warm milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, until mixture is smooth, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat. Mix in chopped hazelnuts. Cover and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Place squash in a large bowl. Add vinegar; toss to coat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; toss to coat. Arrange squash in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and thyme. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

Combine remaining 1 teaspoon oil, red pepper, and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add kale, about 1/3 at a time; cook until wilted, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Spoon 1/3 cup milk mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over milk mixture; top with kale mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, 1/2 cup Asiago, and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Arrange 3 noodles over cheese; top with squash mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, remaining 1/2 cup Asiago, and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Arrange remaining 3 noodles on top of cheese; spread remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 piece)

Adapted from a recipe in Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2006, by Krista Montgomery, M.S., R.D.

Salad Dressings

Kripalu House Dressing (I used half the amount of oil and it is still delicious)

Tahini Lemon Miso Dressing

1/2 cup tahini

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 cups water

2 tablespoons barley miso

1 teaspoons cumin seed, ground

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 clove garlic

1/2 teaspoon tamari

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in food processor or blender.

Servings: 12 (2 tablespoons per serving)

Calories 66.79, Total Fat 5.61g, Saturated Fat 0.78g, Sodium 231.42mg, Carbohydrates 3.01g, Fiber 0.96g, Sugar 0.12g, Protein 2.03g

Poppy Seed Dressing

1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt

1/4 cup light mayonnaise

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp poppy seeds

1 tablespoon red vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Combine in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Servings: 6 (2 tablespoons per serving)

Calories 29.2, Total Fat 1.59g, Saturated Fat 0.24g, Sodium 37.19mg, Carbohydrates 3.18g, Fiber 0.07g, Sugar 2.65g, Protein 0.8g

Water everywhere

Much water is flowing and the wind is swirling and moving the trees outside. I am making a commitment to myself to drink more water, as I know I feel better when I do. I’m actually making an effort to remember to have wine more frequently as well, having read recently about a study at Oregon State University indicating that wine is helpful for bone density.

Persimmons & Pineapple Guavas

I have finished the last of the nectarines, and there are just a few more plums in the fruit bin. Pomegranates and persimmons and pineapple guavas are taking their place as my daily fruits, and of course apples and pears. I am grateful that these new delights are here to ease the disappearance of the summer fruit.

Re-establishing routines

It does take time to pull out my cell phone and take a photo of what I’m about to eat, and to put them all together at night, just before bed. But I have come to appreciate that time; a moment to breathe before taking in food, 15 minutes to review my day, with eating times as landmarks. I really did miss it during the time I skipped my photo-taking, and the sense of “not enough time” affected much more than whether or not my food collages were part of my day. That was symptomatic of a larger sense of squeezing in too much, and finding time to re-establish this ritual is a message to myself that my self-care routines are worth doing.

Quieting Down

Back to my food collages after a month and a half break. Though I have not posted any since spring, I had continued creating them until mid-August, when my busy schedule interfered. I needed to solve a website space issue before I could get back to putting them up on the blog, but I’m back now, and looking forward to the stabilizing influence of this awareness/recording practice. Thank you to those of you who let me know you miss the collages! It’s nice to know that a practice that helps me is useful to you as well!

Traveling and family

My mom and step-dad celebrated their 50th anniversary this past weekend, and family and friends gathered from all over. Pictures from the past filled with family memories flashed above us, stories were told, and different parts of their lives had a chance to reconnect or even meet for the first time. I was struck, watching the slide show we’d put together spanning 65 years of their lives, at how quickly all of our lives seemed to go by. And it does seem that way to me more and more, that time has compressed. Amazing how much seems to happen in so little time!