On The Light Side: A blank mind is not a bad thing


I wonder what the Atkins diet means as I chow down on some cheese and crackers. My nephew, who has lost 40 pounds since Christmas, said he was on it. I think it means you can eat meat and cheese, but no carbs. So, I'm eating an Atkins meal except the crackers are carbs, right?

They're bad, especially the cracker carbs, at least according to a woman who knows about health food. She says they're way low on the energy scales she has. She puts them on the actual scales - think bathroom scales - that indicate the energy level of the food. For crackers, the arrow goes way down to zero. Dang, and I love crackers. Maybe that's why I'm so sleepy right now or maybe it's the fact this is more like a midnight snack.

It's hard to gauge all the health and diet knowledge I receive. It's a bombardment of facts that I try to process and digest. I can't believe how quickly my health is beginning to slide. I'm taking blood pressure medicine when I'd prefer just some natural method to lower stress.


That's one reason I was all excited and a regular for free chair massages at a health food store. A 20-minute session made a big difference in melting all that trapped tension. By the time I'd gone a few weeks, there wasn't much left to work on in my back and we had to switch to hair pulling. Don't knock it until you've tried it.

It was along the lines of exploring more natural methods of lowering stress, that I decided to check out a meditation class. My only knowledge of meditation is some practices I learned to do at the end of yoga sessions.

It's not easy to clear the mind. Some little worry, some little task sneaks in.

I guess if yoga involves the breath a lot, then meditation involves the breath and mind. It's letting go of negative thoughts as you exhale and inhaling good thoughts. It's an exchange of energy. There are other methods, such as starring at a candle flame or breathing in and imagining a white light flowing over the body.

We're supposed to practice it every day until the next session, but I can't say I have. I rarely pause to clear my mind. Instead, I let it race wildly ahead of me, sometimes blurting out thoughts that should never have been spoken.

I guess running sometimes gets my mind clear. I do a little bit of jogging along the road, and it shakes loose some of the brain clutter. It just falls to the wayside as spring fields pass by in a blur of vivid green dotted with purple wildflowers. It makes me feel more alive, my sudden intake of green rushing by, so much more restful than the tiny words I stare at all day at my job as an editor. A good run takes me out of the future, out of the past.

Now I need to learn how to sit still and do that. It's hard to do that around people. People get all concerned when you let out those sighs and exhales. I used to love to listen to the agonizing noises one co-worker could make. Her huffs and puffs of letting off steam were hilarious. We've all been there but sometimes we just don't huff and puff enough. We hold it all in.

That's a lot of hot air just circulating in our bodies until we want to explode. So I think I'm going to hang onto this latest health tidbit about the importance of meditation. I'm going to exhale the negative and breathe in the positive. I guess I must caution those in close proximity not to be alarmed. It's just a little rush of bad thoughts or notions escaping. Nothing as dangerous as an unleashed carbohydrate on an unsuspecting carb counter.

Emily Toadvine is features editor for The Advocate.

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