Chapter Four in Blissful Living Response Post
Please read chapter 4 in Blissful Living and post a response based off of the following questions:
Critical Thinking Template for Beyond Stress
Please, don’t forget to check for grammar, punctuation and spelling!
1 The most important information/key concepts we need to understand from these chapters are:
2 How can I use the information in the chapters to help me with my daily mindfulness practice?
3 In what ways will the material learned in these chapters help me manage my stress more effectively?
4 What are your thoughts and feedback regarding the information and activities for each chapter?
One journal entry page
MINDFUL AWARENESS REFLECTION JOURNAL
Choose one mindful experience as you begin your reflection.
Describe your experience
Describe what you noticed
Accept Without Judgment
Describe judgment; acceptance
Intention/willingness; new perspective
Mindful Mac Meditation
Describe your meditation experiences. What did you learn?
SUSTAINABLE LIVING AND CONSCIOUS EATING
By Lisa Schmidt
I am nourished by the earth
My food is alive with nutrients
My senses are ignited
My body is satisfied.
“The most effective diet is one eaten in the context of the principles that sustain the Tree of Life itself. This model for conscious living of a spiritual life includes meditation and/or prayer; cultivation of wisdom; good fellowship with other conscious people; right livelihood; respect for the Earth and its inhabitants; love of the family and all humanity; respect for all people and cultures; respect for the forces of Mother Nature; respect and love for our own body and mind; and love for the overall totality of who we are. ”
—Dr. Gabriel Cousens, Conscious Eating1 The Tree of Life.1
The following chapter will offer you an opportunity to reflect on the food you eat, where it comes from, how you eat, and what happens in your body the moment you take a mouthful. Your eating experience will most likely change for life as you mindfully acknowledge what your current patterns of nutrition; pay attention how you choose the food you eat and when you eat; accept your experiences and decisions without judgment and finally take action to make a choice for change. Be gentle with yourself and take time to absorb the information shared with you in “sustainable living for conscious eating” as you will most likely find that change needs to take place in your life, yet we mindfully need to take small steps as we become aware of the changes we need to make, take time to practice and develop new behaviors and attitudes toward our nutrition and finally, begin to integrate healthy and nutritious behaviors that will improve the quality of our lives. Let the journey begin!
Food has energetic properties, and learning how to use its effects to enhance health and well-being is an age-old practice. From the origins of mankind, hunter-gatherers learned about local plants, and knew which were edible and how to use others as medicine. This type of knowledge about plants and their medicinal uses formed the basis of Western herbal traditions and traditional Asian medical systems. However, the seventeenth century brought the Western view of man as machine and the body as subject to mechanical laws. Under this conceptual framework where Newtonian physics and pre-evolutionary biology project a mechanical view into a microscopic realm, the wisdom of food as medicine was lost in the West. Mechanics work in explaining machines, but the body cannot be entirely explained with this metaphor. In other traditions, the use of herbs and plants as medicine remains alive and vital. With a four thousand year tradition of food as medicine for humans, we can find written records of Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine practices with time-proven protocols. Reclaiming this wisdom and melding it with modern nutrition knowledge help us choose foods that encourage healthful metabolic processes. This allows us to use plants in nutritionally healthful ways that form our connection to Nature and all living things.
Moving beyond man as machine and seeing all living beings as a part of Nature that is interconnected changes our view of food and the act of eating. Nourishment becomes much more than just about what you and your family ingest for dinner. It’s also about the ripples that result from your need to eat, the entire world, and all of its inhabitants. We are all links in an enormous, complex food chain, and our lives depend upon our love and gratitude for all the other links. Buying organic spinach from a local farmer not only supports the farmer’s family; it also supports microorganisms in the soil, plankton in water, and less junk in the landfill. Making conscious grocery store decisions support the sustainability of all living beings, and our collective futures.
When we remember that the Earth is the provider of our food, we learn how to eat consciously: awake, aware, and alive. No packaged product, protein powder, or laboratory formula can offer the same vitality and sustenance as Nature’s direct offering. Nourished from within, we are able to give back to each other, our families, and our communities. As we sit down together and break bread in families, the food sharing ritual holds tremendous power. It is the spiritual glue that holds us together as families, friends, and communities.2
What we eat is linked to our awareness. Our food choices show our harmony (or lack of harmony) with ourselves, the world, and all of creation. The way we choose to eat and what we choose to eat makes us feel secure. This feeling of security makes it difficult, if not impossible, to change our diet unless presented with disease or pain associated with our current eating pattern. Many people are unwilling to make needed dietary or lifestyle changes even when their life depends on it.
Food as Energy
When we eat foods that are appropriate to our own individual needs we extract energy from our environment in harmony with the natural world. As we honor and respect our own body rhythms and eat in tune with our needs, we align with Nature and use food resources sustainably. Reducing waste, minimizing our carbon footprint, and maximizing finite resources, our bodies thrive. As we increase our connection to the process of eating and the world around us, we shift into harmony and make conscious lifestyle choices. We eat mindfully, consciously, and with love and affection for the Earth and ourselves.
Every day, we must meet the energy needs of our bodies despite fluctuations in the availability of the many nutrients the body needs. How do the cells of our bodies use fuel molecules, and what is involved in this process? The human body is dynamic and our cells have to switch between producing and using energy that we create from ingesting plants and animals. The body’s ability to adapt in the face of always changing conditions is crucial, and only possible because of its ability to self-regulate. As our bodies move between different physiological conditions like sleeping through the night, we “break the fast” in the morning which requires the body to change into a different metabolic state. At other times, we might be simply resting, or exercising. In all situations, the type and amount of nutrients available as cellular fuel changes abruptly. In order to provide the energy the body needs, we eat a variety of food, which the body in its amazing process converts into the energy we need to live. Through eating, we transform plants and animals into mitochondria, called our “cellular power plants” because they generate most of the cell’s supply of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is used as a source of chemical energy3 by all plants and animals, fueling all life functions. In addition to supplying cellular energy, mitochondria are involved in other tasks such as signaling, cellular differentiation, cell death, as well as the control of the cell cycle and cell growth.3
Let’s look at this transformation through the example of eating a tuna sandwich. How does our body accomplish this magic act of eating the mitochondria of plants and animals and converting them into our own mitochondria? The process of conversion is accomplished through the body’s process of digestion. Before we even begin the mechanical act of chewing, digestion begins in the mouth. Our salivary glands secrete fluid even when we think about eating, or smell food, or pick up the sandwich. This lubrication allows us to soften and break down the food for chewing, which grinds the sandwich into smaller particles (using the teeth), and saliva provides better interaction with taste receptors, making food more pleasurable to our senses. One type of saliva, salivary amylase, is slightly acidic, and it is perfectly adjusted pH helps break down starches from the sandwich (for example, the bread) and turns the complex starch molecules into single units—again, preparing the food for digestion. The mechanical (chewing) and chemical (amylase) process is the beginning of the metabolism of the tuna, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and bread—otherwise known as protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Let’s take a walk through the food processing experience.
The biochemical pathway of food—eating a Sandwich
The bread—a primarily carbohydrate source of energy—starts to break down into simple sugar units which can be rapidly transported by our mitochondria across the intestinal wall and delivered quickly to body tissues. This classic conversion of plant mitochondria (from the bread) into our own mitochondria is delivered throughout the body in a singular sugar unit called glucose, an important energy source in all living organisms and a component of many carbohydrates. Fat in the form of mayonnaise begins its breakdown into lipids. Lipids are a group of naturally occurring molecules that include fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E, and K), monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, phospholipids, and others. The main jobs that lipids perform in the body include storing energy, acting as signaling messengers to other cells, and providing structure for cell membranes.4
Not only does fat in the mayonnaise break down into molecules that help facilitate essential functions in our bodies like nerve conduction, hormone synthesis, and neurological transmission, it also provides a delivery vehicle for taste. Calorie dense, fat delivers twice the energy—in the form of calories—as protein or carbohydrates. It is also very effective in delivering flavors to the brain, enhancing the way processed foods taste, and encourage in subtle ways of our desire for more.
Next comes our assimilation of the tuna, the protein product that our body breaks down into amino acids. As the building blocks of protein, amino acids are the building blocks of life itself. Take a mindful moment and imagine eating the tuna sandwich, paying attention to what is happening in your body as it is assimilated. We use amino acids following digestion to help the body break down food, grow, repair body tissue, and perform many other key functions. The body can also use them as a source of energy, but it is a less efficient fuel than using sugars. Every cell in the body contains protein. It is a major part of the skin, muscles, organs, and glands. Protein is also found in almost all body fluids. The tuna in the sandwich provides about ½ your daily protein requirement. It is from an animal source (fish)—but we can also get protein from plants. In fact, this sandwich provides protein in the tomato, lettuce, bread, and even the mayonnaise. You do not need to eat animal products to get all the protein you need in your diet.5 The lettuce and tomato also begin breaking down into other kinds of carbohydrates:glucose and fructose.
What happens next to the broken down food? It moves by peristaltic waves stimulated by the nervous system to the stomach. Acid hydrolysis (hydrochloric acid, HCL) contributes to its degradation. HCL release is stimulated by a hormone called gastrin, which is released by the endocrine glands in the stomach in response to food; gastric releasing peptide (GRP), and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. HCL uncoils protein strands, and activates the stomach enzyme PEPSIN. Proteins from the tuna part of our sandwich are broken down into smaller molecules called polypeptides by the pepsin and HCL. The HCL changes the protein structure, and activates pepsinogen (another hormone), which activates the pepsin in the stomach. Pepsin cleaves (“cuts”) proteins from large polypeptides into smaller polypeptides and frees amino acids. At the same time, the partially broken down fats are assimilated by the breakdown of their chemical structure into smaller units. Churning action of the stomach mixes the fat with water and the stomach acid, further breaking down the food into smaller and smaller units.
There isn’t digestion happening in the stomach—so far, food is simply being broken down through this complex process into smaller and smaller usable units. In the stomach, only water and certain fat-soluble drugs are absorbed, as is alcohol. The sandwich keeps moving, and becomes acid chyme, moving further into the intestine for digestion. The sandwich is now liquefied, and passes into the duodenum, the first segment of the small intestine. Ten inches long, it performs the important function of neutralizing the liquid to the appropriate pH, protecting the sensitive epithelial tissue in the intestine from damage. More intestinal cells release digestive juices, which help to move nutrients from the liquefied food throughout the small intestine. The balance of pH is really important, and our bodies are designed to keep the pH at just the right levels. With pH calibrated, the pancreas releases amylase, CCK, and secretin (enzymes and hormones). The nervous system is involved too, and helps to control the right amount to complete the digestive process.
More splitting of polypeptides (proteins) continues as enzymes are activated. You could say that the small intestine completely liquefies and absorbs the proteins. A cascade of reactions involving other enzymes happens as the protein continues to degrade. Once the protein breaks down into the individual amino acids they pass through the walls of the intestine. These free amino acids are then distributed by the blood system to all the body’s tissues, especially muscle, where they build back up again into proteins! Any extra amino acids are broken down by the liver, which is converted into glucose or fatty acids (stored in the body), with part of the amino acid excreted from the body as urine.
The full digestion of sugars leads to their absorption into the body and conversion by the liver and other tissues into fatty acids, amino acids, and glycogen. This process is less complicated for the body than digesting proteins. Sugars in the form of glycogen convert readily into energy, and have a big role in providing fuel to the body.
What happens to the fats? Their digestion and absorption relies upon bile and pancreatic secretions. When fat enters the SI, the gallbladder receives a signal to release bile to liquefy the fat. Bile’s emulsifying action converts fat globules into smaller droplets that repel each other. Did you know what an important role your gallbladder plays? The myth that the gall bladder is an unnecessary organ is demystified here as we see its very significant role as the main liquefier of fat! Following the emulsification process, enzymes get easy access to fat droplets. The pancreas secretes other hormones, which release the fatty acid part of the lipid, breaking it down into usable components.
Small particles called micelles are formed. Fitting in between microvilli, the microscopic parts of cells that increase its surface area, the micelles then move products of fat digestion from the SI to the brush border of the intestine where they can be absorbed into the intestinal cells. Following their absorption, they are broken down into glycerol and fatty acids, which recombine into triglycerides. The triglycerides become incorporated into another transport vehicle called chylomicrons, which move into the lymphatic system. The chylomicrons then go to adipose tissue, muscle, and liver where the fats are deposited in the body for longer-term storage.
Anything left over from this amazing story will exit through the large intestine as feces. If all goes well, this final step removes indigestible fiber, some intestinal prokaryotes along for the ride, and bacteria. What a journey!
The Individual’s Relationship to Food
The wonderful thing about food is you get three votes a day. Every one of them has the potential to change the world.
Food and Our Emotions
How have you noticed the central role food plays in your life? From the time we are born we are developing deep associations between food and our emotions. As infants, our cries are answered with mother’s milk and Nature’s design, which combines a complete experience of receiving physical food with emotional connection and safety. Finding ways to nurture healthy emotional connections while feeding our bodies is the ultimate nourishment. We spend our lives linking food to our emotional needs in ways that attempt to recreate that early experience. Culturally, food plays a central role in life’s rituals. We celebrate occasions like weddings, holidays, graduations, and promotions, and food becomes a significant focus and strongly linked to emotions. Expressions like “drowning our sorrows,” “power lunches,” “chicken soup for the soul,” and even “swallow your pride” demonstrate how we use food to express, suppress, and manage love and many other emotions.
In light of these factors, we have many mixed feelings about food. Experiencing extremes with food are not unusual, including dieting, stuffing, fasting, gorging, starving, cravings, and even the bingeing/purging of anorexia and bulimia. We are a nation where one third of the US population is significantly overweight, and more than one quarter-24 percent of adult males, 27 percent of adult females, and 27 percent of children—are obese.6
In one sense, overeating leading to excessive weight is a disease of affluence. However, multiple factors are at play that include changes in genetics, major innovations that cause us to move around less (the automobile, television), an abundant, cheap food supply that is nutrient poor, and changing through technology plants and animals designed to feed us in perfect harmony with Nature. This manipulation of foods into “food like substances” is suspected to have negatively impacted our health in ways that have profoundly affected our ability to remain within normal weight ranges….
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