Radiant Practice #2: Daily Outdoor Time

I consider this daily practice one of the most important ways to restore health and happiness. Being outside in nature does so much for your spirits and your body. When you develop a regular practice of spending time outside, you become more aware. Of the birds chirping, of the wind rustling, of the warmth of the sun shining upon your face. This awareness boosts our vitality, our presence in this world and actually changes the chemical balance of our bodies! When we spend time in mindful awareness, especially outdoors in a natural environment, our neurotransmitter levels shift, flooding our systems with serotonin (“the happy hormone”) and reducing our levels of cortisol (“the stress hormone”). This balances our GABA levels, allowing for more restful sleep and a stronger immune system.

On a more emotional level, getting outside (especially when you are down) can help tremendously with issues and problems you may have in your life. I know from personal experience, when I am feeling really depressed I don’t want to go outside. But those are the times that you should definitely be out and about! Taking a walk to my neighborhood park or by the surrounding area of redwoods by my old house (boy, was I lucky in Berkeley!) did wonders. When you participate in nature, you begin to remember our part in this Universe and suddenly, your problems don’t seem so soul-crushing anymore. It gives the great gift of perspective and when done on a regular basis, can restore your outlook on life in many important ways.

What about if you live in a city? Well, for me (now living in downtown San Francisco), finding just one spot that I can go to is all I need. I retreat to my (tiny) back yard and sit on a wicker chair. I close my eyes, bask in the loving energy that the sun radiates down to us and practice deep breathing. Being aware of all that is around me and of my place in the macrocosm of the Universe, I am able to process my emotions, feelings and experiences in a healthy and healing way.

So try it out. It may just be a walk around your block while you notice little flowers by the curb. Or it may be to sit in your favorite park, or the garden of your local house of worship. Even practicing this exercise while waiting on a busy street for the bus can be extremely beneficial, as the incredible gift of our planet is always and forever surrounding us with love and care.

 

[incredible photo of Oregon from Bliss Blog ]

motivational mondays!

hello there…

so today was a major health fail for me. i got stuck doing some serious grocery shopping in 90 degree weather (without any mode of transportation while wearing a long-sleeved sweater) which led to a looong journey to and from the store and complete exhaustion. when i finally got back home, instead of drinking tons of water and munching on a healthy snack to get me reenergized guess what i did? i plopped on the couch, ate a pretzel baguette+a vegan caramel and went into a sugar coma.

oh but that’s not all…

my husband came home after a bad day at work and so we treated ourselves to some dessert. as in, a big cup of ice cream with brownie bits and all other kinds of sickingly sweet toppings. the down side to living in a vegan paradise such as berkeley (wait, there’s a downside?) is that you have serious temptation to eat crappy foods everywhere you go.

so you can imagine that today i don’t feel so great. in fact, i can hardly stay awake while writing this so please, take my advice: when exhausted and dehydrated, don’t go on a sugar binge!

ok, enough about me. here is some virtual inspiration for your week:

 

this june mix over at poppy+leo put me in a great housecleaning mood. oh givers, be still my heart!

 

the amazing leslie over at crunchy betty brought the issue of xylitol to my attention this week. i have always been skeptical (any product that is processed with chemicals surely cannot be as “natural” as they claim) but she really set the record straight.

 

this salad with carrot ginger dressing looks great and i can’t wait to try these mochi croutons! what a clever way of sharing the salad-topper love gluten free style! the couple eats is an awesome blog by a vegan wife married to a meat-loving man, trying to keep the peace at their kitchen table.

 

the folks over at renegade health wrote a great list of seven things you can do right NOW to help your health. i personally love to do the tai-chi twist whenever i am feeling down.

 

 

and forget everything i said earlier, i would totally eat one of these vegan chocolate donuts if i had the chance 🙂 also, extra points to it ain’t meat babe for having the cutest vegan blog title.

 

ok, that’s all folks. sleep tight and have a great week!

[polaroid by patrick nagatani]