Do You KNOW Yourself?

Stress

When was the last time you let yourself truly relax? No, I don’t mean sit in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn, binge on Netflix for a day, or lay around the pool for an afternoon. I’m talking about TRUE relaxation, nothingness, complete silence. Have you ever let yourself do that? Just….be. In this day and age most of us haven’t. We’re constantly surrounded by the hustle and bustle of everyday life, living in big cities, surrounded by people all day long, looking for the next big thing to do. Not to mention the biggest player of them all, SOCIAL MEDIA. Even when we do allow ourselves to be alone, are we ever really truly alone? With the advent of social media, not really.

As I have recently taken up a more serious practice of meditation, I have come to realize the benefits of silence, being in the present moment, and simply being. Not worrying about the next thing on my list, not thinking about what everyone around me is doing, and not spending countless hours looking at OTHER people’s lives on instagram/facebook etc. Don’t get me wrong, to-do lists are important, and an active, working lifestyle is a healthy part of life, but from time to time we all need a break. Allowing ourselves to take this time for silence builds stronger character, patience, and a mindful demeanor. It allows us to approach those busy and stressful situations differently. It allows us to become familiar with ourselves, our thoughts, our values and morals. There is something to be said for pure nothingness. We are often so hyper-focused on everything around us and the sensory stimuli overwhelming our lives that we forget to look inward, contemplate our own lives and enjoy time spent with ourselves. What do your thoughts sound like when you’re alone? Do you look at the glass as half full or half empty? Do you talk to yourself in an uplifting, confident way or do you talk down on yourself and belittle your unique beauty? In many cases we are unsure of these answers, we do not allow ourselves enough time spent in silence to become aware of our conscious and subconscious thoughts. Introspection is a gift, you are your own person, unique, beautifully made, and not a carbon copy ANYONE else. I believe the overwhelming stimulation that has been thrusted upon our lives has damaged our sense of independent human beings. We see these images and videos of other people and in turn we try so hard to look like them, be as successful as them, and in extreme cases-to be “them.” Why? Why do we want so badly to mirror the image of another? Why do we want to spend our lives engulfed in the DRAMA of someone else’s life? What would it look like if we spent time with ourselves, connecting to our thoughts and bettering ourselves through quiet introspection.

I’m not saying it’s easy, my own troubles with this sparked me to write this post. At times when I sit down to have time to myself my heart starts racing, my mind wondering. I feel as though this is not right, I shouldn’t be sitting alone in silence. I have a to-do list, I need to be active, I don’t have time. But once I adjust and feel comfortable with myself in the present moment I am able to reach a higher state of consciousness, turning inward and watching my thoughts as they spiral through my mind. Reaching a higher level of consciousness allows for awareness of thoughts, and eventually the ability to cultivate control over the way you think. Introspection is important and for many it is a lost (or never present) art. It doesn’t have to be a guru-yogi experience. It can be as simple as setting your phone down 30 minutes before bed and not touching it for 30 minutes after waking up in the morning, or as extreme as spending a weekend alone, out of the city with no technology or distractions. Do what works for YOU, and maintain a conscious awareness of the types of thoughts and self talk you are feeding yourself.

 

 

Monday is for Matcha

Food, Stress

While I do have quite the obsession with tea I have to admit, sometimes it doesn’t cut it when it comes to early mornings and studying. It was not until this past semester that I gave in to the allure of coffee and unfortunately since then it has become a part of my morning routine. Coffee can be a fantastic tool to get moving  but for some of us it has unwanted side effects. I personally struggle with anxiety and even one cup will keep me on my toes for the rest of the day. It’s good in the sense that it gives me that extra boost and helps me to focus early in the morning but there’s just something about that burst of caffeine that sends my anxiety levels through the roof. I’ve been searching for something that will give me the energy boost from coffee along with the calming effects of tea.

My solution-MATCHA.

Matcha is finely ground green tea. Instead of submerging a tea bag into water you are actually drinking the tea leaves themselves. It appears as a light green powder and can be consumed with just about anything. I have been drinking mine as tea and in smoothies but i’m sure it would taste great in a host of different drinks and even food! This green tea is specifically native to Japan and has been used in Japanese tea ceremonies for hundreds of years. Monks are notorious for consuming the leaves to assist in meditation practices. It gives them just the right amount of concentration and relaxation.

After quite a bit of research I have found that matcha has a multitude of health benefits that exceed those of green tea. (It is to my understanding that this is because you are consuming the leaves directly). One cup is equivalent to 10 glasses of regular green tea in terms of nutrition and antioxidants. It is rich in fiber, chlorophyll and vitamins (particularly vitamin C) and has been proven to naturally detoxify the body and enhance metabolism. In addition, matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid responsible for relaxing the mind. The combination of L-theanine and a high caffeine content results in a sustained calm alertness. You basically get the active and alertness that comes from coffee but without the unwanted jitters. For anyone suffering from anxiety or unable to handle the intense effects of caffeine matcha is a great option. It has a compelling, almost creamy taste followed by a bit of a lingering sweetness. Matcha on it’s own can be strong and overpowering but when mixed with smoothies, milk, pastries etc. it has a more subtle flavor.

Matcha has made a world of a difference for me and I am excited to make it a part of my routine. For some people coffee is a must but there’s no hurt in trying something new, especially when it has a few extra health benefits!!

 

Tip-only purchase organically grown matcha from Japan. Other sources may be contaminated with pesticides and various chemicals. I ordered mine from Mountain Rose Herbs, I found it to be the best price for the amount.