Monday, January 23, 2012

Celebrating International Integrative Medicine Day- January 23, 2012

Today, January 23, 2012, marks an awareness day for the most interdisciplinary topic: integrative medicine. International Integrative Medicine (IIM) Day strives to promote holistic understanding, discourse, and practice of health through collaborative efforts of research and education about medicine. A brief glance at the list of partners and ambassadors on the IIM Day site demonstrates the wide variety of medical professionals who believe in integrating their knowledge for the greater good.

I celebrated today by fulfilling my morning pranayama and stretching routine, reading and studying for my biochemistry and neuroscience courses, and attending a Yin and Yang yoga class at Project Yoga Richmond!

Did you have a chance to celebrate Integrative Medicine today? If not, here are some ideas you could try this week/month/year/life:

Educate yourself: Preconceived notions of the unfamiliar are inevitable, especially when it comes to what you think you know about your health. This piece from The Atlantic last year aptly-- and somewhat objectively--describes the trend towards mainstream medicine meeting alternative methods. 

Try a local yoga or tai chi class: YouTube also has a number of demos if you want to try it at home!

Experience mindful meditation: The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center provides free mp3 downloads with instructions. 

Prevent winter sickness: I got that dreaded feeling today like a cold is trying to invade its way into my busy schedule. This means I will be upping the ante on my typical proactive routine: 1. Adding clove buds and honey to my morning tea. Yogi Tea "Throat Comfort" is also one of my favorites. You can find it at most Kroger stores, Whole Foods markets, and Trader Joes. 2. Increasing my neti pot usage from weekly to almost daily (be sure to use distilled water or boil your tap water to ensure clean water). 3. Increasing my normal daily Vitamin C intake. Bolthouse Farms C-Boost is incredible! 1200% Vitamin C is excessive, but the juice might be the closest thing to ambrosia you can experience. 4. Being more vigilant about getting the right amount of sleep (striving for 8 hours per night).

Eat a healthy meal (as suggested by IIM Day): Plenty more recipes and nutrition insights ahead. For now, here is a simple recipe inspired by yesterday's cold and dreary winter weather. Realizing my cupboard and fridge had enough inventory, I threw this meal together for lunch.

Carrot Tomato Soup
Toasted Kale and Cheese Sandwich

Carrot and Tomato Soup
6 oz. Tomato Paste (buy the kind with 100% tomatoes; no salt)
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 large carrot, shredded
1 cup vegetable broth (try a low sodium kind with minimal preservatives) 
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4- 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4- 1/2 tsp. coriander
1/4- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. flaxseed meal (optional!)

In a small to medium size pot on medium heat, add all ingredients in order listed and stir until well mixed. You might need more or less vegetable broth depending on your preferred consistency. All spices should be done to your taste preference. (Next time, I'd like to try an italian-inspired version with basil, rosemary, etc.) Adjust to lower heat once mixture begins to bubble. Cover pot and simmer until carrots are close to tender. Stir occasionally. Recipe yields about 4 servings.

Toasted Kale and Cheese Sandwich
2 slices whole wheat or whole grain bread
desired amount of kale, rinsed
shredded or sliced cheese 
cayenne pepper
Italian spice mix

I'm pretty sure you know how to put a sandwich together. The toaster oven at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes was perfect for toasted bread, just tender kale, and slightly melted cheese. A note on the cheese: I use an almond-based shredded cheese alternative out of personal preference. Should you desire regular cheese, try a low sodium, low saturated-fat type like part-skim mozzarella.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

"Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy."

At the impressionable age of 17, a close friend at the time gave me the gift of a journal. The greater gift was Max Ehrmann's prose poem attached to the inside of the front cover. The words, especially the last few sentences, had a profound impact on my view on life and the world. I wanted so badly to possess that cheerfulness at all times and spread it to those around me. Years later, my immersion into yoga (both asana and the overarching philosophical practice) slowly let this guidance resonate more meaningfully in both my personal and professional life. 

Defining Desiderata (meaning "desired things" in Latin) is a new chance to use Ehrmann's words. How? By sharing knowledge and creating dialogue about a variety of topics that support that crazy little thing called happiness. I am excited to share information on everything from science to philosophy to nutrition. Hope you enjoy it!