Greening our mental “meal”

Throughout my career as a clinical psychologist, I’ve attended trainings led by neuroscientist Dr. Dan Siegel, MD, who is well known in the popular media for his books on parenting and mindfulness. I encourage you to check out his current work in collaboration with leaders like Dr. Sara`King and the embodied social justice movement, as well.

I’ve long been fascinated by the “healthy mind platter,” especially as I’ve moved toward a behavioral health consultation model. This framework was introduced by Dr. Siegel and his colleague David Rock around the time that the USDA transitioned from the food pyramid to My Plate, and includes a set of seven empirically-supported activities – sleep time, playtime, time-in, downtime, connecting time, physical time, and focus time, all part of a well-balanced “mental diet” designed to optimize mind/body health.

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Healing through story

Every time we encounter a winding, country road, our family is transported back to the home we left. The land we loved. And the Tuesday morning when a driver fell asleep at the wheel, a mile from our house. And everything changed.

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The time is…now

There’s a poem that’s been running through my mind for a while. It deeply resonated as soon as I discovered it in the poet William Stafford’s collected works, many years ago; I immediately bookmarked the page.

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among

things that change. But it doesn’t change.

People wonder about what you are pursuing.

You have to explain about the thread.

But it is hard for others to see.

While you hold it you can’t get lost.

Tragedies happen; people get hurt

or die; and you suffer and get old.

Nothing you can do can stop time’s unfolding.

You don’t ever let go of the thread.

“The Way It Is,” by William Stafford (1914 – 1993)

What does these words mean to you? Some have offered similar opportunities for reflection.

As I read these words aloud again and again, I feel gently pulled by the unfolding, unyielding nature of time, and by the passions I’ve been too timidly cultivating for many years of my life.

“While you hold it you can’t get lost.” What guides, steadies, or grounds you?

Savoring water for wellness

In this newest Mindfulness in Nature guided video, we’ll explore our experiences with water and observe opportunities to savor this resource, as a way to soothe and enhance mind/body health.

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S is for summer (and savoring)

In previous posts, I’ve discussed the practice of savoring, which has roots within both the mindfulness and positive psychology fields. Savoring is available to everyone. We can savor memories of experiences from the past, bring mindful attention to pleasurable current experiences, and anticipate those headed our way in the future.

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Mindful writing with nature

How are you like a tree? A mountain? An ocean? What nourishes your soil? How do you know when you are depleted or in need of replenishment? Which seeds have you intentionally sowed in your lifetime – and which do you still long to grow?

Join Dr. Dawnn McWatters (licensed psychologist, community educator, and nature advocate) as she offers brief presentations on topics related to edible gardening and therapeutic horticulture, and guides class participants through a mindful writing exercise – cultivating curiosity, awareness, and compassion, with the support of nature-based prompts. While not intended to be a substitute for mental health treatment, nature exposure, mindfulness, and expressive writing have been shown to contribute positively to mind/body health.

Through Winter 2021, Mindful Writing in Nature sessions will be offered on the 3rd Monday of each month. Pre-registration is required. Once you sign up for a class session, you should receive the Zoom link details within 24 hours. And look for “sneak peeks” beginning in September 2021 as Dawnn features live IG “bites” that highlight seasonal topics.

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Worms make the world go ’round

I’ve written previously about vermicomposting and the value of cultivating a healthy worm system in your garden, but here are a few more resources I’ve come across in the past week. Plus, exploring the world of worms is a fun, family-friendly activity. And a good way to assess the health of your soil, if you’re contemplating a new edible garden or just wondering how well your garden is doing. All part of The SAVOR Project’s “growing healthy gardens, families, and communities” educational mission!

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Cultivating food community

Recently, I reflected upon how edible gardening’s many benefits extend well beyond mind/body health, and a sense of pleasure, efficacy, and empowerment, to directly impact the larger food system as well.

Over the past five years, I’ve intentionally created a life that centers the growing of food. In doing so, I realized how much I’m also financially supporting a wide range of organizations and industries that share my green passions. Here’s just the ones I came up with:

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SAVOR monthly digest

Welcome to the newest SAVOR digest – an appetizer plate of what I’ve been exploring (and recommending) in recent weeks. I’m continuing to feature educational content related to mind/body health, although I’m no longer breaking information into three categories (HEAL, GROW, and SAVOR).

This particular digest happens to focus heavily on mindful eating, therapeutic horticulture, and savoring. Pretend it’s a buffet and sample what you’d like. Enjoy!

Next month, I’ll return to a limited schedule of telehealth (online individual psychotherapy) services, focused upon stress management and women’s health. But this educational arm of The SAVOR Project will continue and eventually, after I’ve completed my second vaccine dose, I’m hoping to offer low-cost, socially distanced classes in various community garden spaces. Stay tuned.

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Food for social justice

For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a deep dive into the mindful eating literature. Although much is familiar terrain after nearly two decades of studying, practicing, and teaching mindful eating, I was delighted to recently discover Mindful Eating for the Beloved Community: Food for Social Justice, a collection of essays written primarily by community leaders of color. Below, you’ll find highlights from some of my favorite chapters, and if you are a teacher or practitioner of mindful eating, I highly recommend you purchase a copy of this book.

Throughout the book, personal stories about food, culture, and faith are interwoven with nutritional guidance, mindfulness and mindful eating instruction, and discussions about racial equity and food justice. A collection of prayers and blessings (from a variety of spiritual traditions) and delicious recipes are also included – integral parts of a truly “mindful meal.”

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