Meditation Leads to Light Bulb Moments

Deepak Chopra has said “there is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.”  I just recently read this quote and it made me think about my childhood.  At a very young age, my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I replied that I wanted to be a farmer.  I remember thinking it had to be an awesome life, being up with the early-morning sun, feeding the animals and milking the cows, tending to the crops – the typical old-fashioned farmer in over-alls.

Fast forward approximately 10 years to high school when I took that nation-wide career path test. Oddly enough, it told me to go into the science field.  I believe the wording may have been “scientist” or “chemist.”  I scoffed at this.  I also scoffed at the fact that at one time in my life I wanted to be a farmer.  At that point in my life I was going to be a Broadway actress.  Not to mention that science was one of my least favorite subjects.  My teacher was the female version of Ben Stein.  I kid you not.  I wish I could have gotten a recording of her saying “Bueller….Bueller….”  But I don’t think she had enough of a sense of humor to get the joke. Anyway… I do believe that the career test may have been onto something.

I lived through 3 years of “quarter-life crisis” in which mental anguish ensued and my every day thoughts were consumed with where my life was headed.  After practicing yoga regularly for a year and meditating, the answer to this mental anguish seemed to bubble up and smack me square on the forehead.  I remember thinking “why hadn’t I realized this before!?”  Finally the light bulb turned on.

At first, I thought that I wanted to study nutrition because I wanted to enlighten others with my practice of yoga and healthy eating to cure diseases.  Yes, of course this is my goal but I didn’t think it went any farther than that.  Then I read Deepak Chopra’s quote and thought about those childhood experiences and realized that between the ages of 4 and 14 the door opened and my subconscious heard the calling to my future career choice.  Think about it, when food and farming is combined with science, you get nutrition, dietetics, food science, etc.  The answer was obvious my whole life, I just had to sit still and listen.  The power of meditation is truly amazing.

Thank you to everyone who is supporting me on this next step in my life.  I love you all.

Autumn Traditions

Fall literally came crashing in last Thursday.  It’s amazing how drastically the temperature dropped between 2:30 to 6pm that day.  I was out for lunch at 2:30 and it was beautiful.  I went back to the office and left at 6 and it was cold outside!

I know that fall doesn’t officially start until this Friday the 23rd and I am not looking forward to the cold months that lie ahead but I do look forward to this time of year maybe even more than I look forward to spring.  I love the seasonal traditions that flow throughout the next few months.  This time of year brings people together and it gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling.  Here is my top 10 list of traditions that I look forward to over the next few months.

1. Pumpkin Spice lattes at Starbucks (in moderation, of course – usually as a dessert w/o the whipped cream and only 1 pump of syrup…otherwise there is waaaaay toooo muuuuuch suuuuugaaaar);

2. Apple/pumpkin picking upstate at Wilklow Orchards;

4. Wine tasting out on the North Fork of Long Island;

5. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown;

6. An excuse to enjoy a good cup of hot tea wrapped in a blanket with a good book or movie;

7. Crunching through leaves;

8. Scary movies and The Nightmare Before Christmas;

9. Pre-Thanksgiving Holiday Party at my parents house with friends while decorating the outside with Christmas decorations;

10. Watching NYC transition into fall/winter mode. Has anyone noticed this?  I feel like NYC awakens in the fall/winter.  It becomes a different city and it started this week.

What are some of your traditions?  Leave a comment and let me know.

Epigenetics

Epigenetics.  Have you heard of it?  I had not until just a few weeks ago.  My yoga instructor and I were having a conversation about cancer and diet and I mentioned that genetically I’m not in a good position.  She said that may not be the case and informed me of the study of Epigenetics.  I have done some internet research and have found some interesting information in which I’d like to share.

Basically, as humans we have the option to modify the genes we are born with.  Not the genes that may cause deformities in some or give us our hair color but the genes that can cause cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, etc.  The choice to inherit those genes is in our own hands.  Through a set of chemical reactions, we can choose to turn on the genes that can supply us good health and turn off the genes that don’t.  Through a good healthy diet, emotional happiness and physical well being we can turn off the bad genes.  It’s that simple.

More interestingly, through living a well-rounded, healthy life the good genes will be passed on to our future generations.  In 2010 John Cloud wrote an interesting article for Time Magazine entitled “Why Your DNA Isn’t Your Destiny” which is about the passing on of our genes.  Cloud wrote about research performed by preventive-health specialist, Dr. Lars Olov Bygren in the 1980’s.  Dr. Bygren tested the genes of people who were born in the northernmost part of Sweden in 1905.  He traced back their parents and grandparents who lived in the same part of Sweden and experienced sporadic years of feast and famine depending on the results of the harvest.  This northernmost part of Sweden was so desolate that people either starved one year or overate the next because the crops were overabundant.

As it turns out, Dr. Bygren found that the children and grandchildren of these people that lived through the years of feast and famine were more likely to die at a younger age.  This, along with other scientific research, proved that the genetic code does not change but the environmental factors can cause our genes to alter and pass on to our children, even before they’re a twinkle in our eyes…even before our grandchildren are a twinkle in our children’s eyes…..you get the idea.

The epigenetic mark is found above the genome (hence prefix epi) and is what can switch genes on and off due to environmental factors and how well you take care of yourself and your body.  But, there is no change to the DNA itself.  That’s why we still come out with predetermined traits such as hair and eye color.  Those genes can’t be changed as well as deformities.  But we can change obesity, heart disease, diabetes, possibly cancer, just by taking care of ourselves.  It’s not hard; it’s just changing the mindset to focus on living a better lifestyle.

I’m not a doctor or scientist or even a skilled researcher in this field…yet. ;-) I only rehashed what I’ve read so far because I find this very interesting.  And it means that there’s light at the end of the tunnel for me and for many people who had no clue they are not genetically predestined to have a heart attack at the age of 50.  The outlook is positive and it’s time to grab hold of good nutrition and regular physical activity to live a long, happy and healthy life to the fullest.

Has anyone else looked into this?  Please feel free to comment and let me know any other interesting facts about Epigenetics you may have found in your studies or if I may be wrong about certain things.  I would like to continue to follow this study as it progresses.  Below are some of the websites that I have looked at regarding the study of Epigenetics.

http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/

http://www.drfranklipman.com/faqs-on-epigenetics/

http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1952313,00.html

http://www.sciencemag.org/site/feature/plus/sfg/resources/res_epigenetics.xhtml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics

I’m On My Way!

Hi everyone,

This week, I got a notebook, sharpened some pencils (which stabbed me, twice) and headed off to my first day of class.  It’s amazing how the same nervous butterflies came rushing back.  Those fears of walking into the wrong class, being left off the attendance list ,or tripping and falling over something and then everyone knows me as the girl who fell, all cause me major anxiety.  I had to remind myself to just keep breathing, breathing, breathing.  By the time I was in the classroom on Monday evening, learning about lab safety, I calmed down and could tell I was in a good, safe, educational, nonjudgmental environment.  Everyone seemed to be in the same boat as me, and serious about taking this class for a Masters program somewhere.

But this time it’s a new ball game and I’m studying sciences that I haven’t studied in years.  I can already see the importance of these classes and how they will correlate to my future Nutrition studies.  I’m excited for the challenge.  Wish me luck and here I go! …off to do some studying!

PS – I will post about some interesting things I learn along the way, so stay tuned.  :-)

Happy Labor Day Weekend!