100 Days of Meditation

100 Days of Meditation

On January 3, 2016 I completed my first 100 Days of Meditation marathon. It took me three attempts in seven months to finish this challenge. My parameters were to meditate 1-2 hours a day for 100 consecutive days. I used the Insight Timer app to track my progress.

Obstacles Create Incentives.

An Iyengar teacher once told me that whenever life gets busy our personal practice is the first thing to go. Before starting this marathon I anticipated that moving would be my biggest obstacle. After moving eight times in four months it felt like I was constantly trying to get back on track. I was determined to realign with the root of my practice.

In yoga we talk about the necessity of foundation. The root of our practice comes from consistent, comprehensive application. Foundation also relates to our basic survival needs – food, shelter, money, resources. It’s very difficult to commit to any kind of spiritual practice without a solid base to work from. For a practice to mature a good foundation is essential.

But there are times in life when we’re called to step outside our comfort zones and perhaps grow a thicker skin. As easy as it might be to lose track of our routines, these opportunities are the BEST times to practice.

Marathon Highlights

SO much happened in seven months. Just to review some highlights:

This marathon helped me take my practice to the next level. Each time I practiced it was like hitting the reset button of my whole being. My body healed in some extraordinary ways (you CAN be your own chiropractor!) and my mind became more resilient and flexible. Like the saying goes, “don’t sweat the small stuff,” this challenge helped me navigate some really big stuff. I did get shut down a couple of times while moving but I managed to finish in the midst of a week-long moving endeavor.

Good Advice

Now that we’re at the cusp of a New Year and resolutions are fresh in people’s minds, I’ll offer the same advice that I received before starting this challenge: “Just do it.”

And I’ll add my two cents: pick a goal that challenges you in a healthy way. Be stubborn about your goal but flexible in how you go about achieving it. Breathe through the tough spots. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you fall off the horse get back on.

One other tip: if you’re feeling really beat up after a super-long day and still want to practice, try washing your feet and put on a fresh pair of socks. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel.

100 Days of Meditation

To document this challenge I posted mini-milestones of my journey on Facebook. Much like how people will post updates for their runs, cycling routes, or check-ins at the gym or studio, I shared little updates on my progress. You can find these posts on my Facebook page along with the hashtag #100daysofmeditation.

Interested in starting your own meditation marathon? I’d love to chat with you. There are so many different kinds of meditation. We can discuss these options in your free no-obligation consultation: Book Now

Winter Retreat Recipe – Potatoes au Gratin

Potatoes au Gratin

When the weather’s cold and gloomy all I feel like doing is eating comfort foods. Potatoes smothered in cheese have been on my mind so I decided to whip up a batch of potatoes au gratin. This is one of my “go-to” winter recipes. The potatoes, cayenne pepper and onion are all “warming” foods and the sharp cheddar cheese sauce is full of good fats and protein. In the winter slow-cooked foods are where it’s at!

A few tips about this dish.

I used organic potatoes so I left the skins on. You could peel the skins if you wanted to but if you leave them on you’ll get an extra dose of fiber. I don’t recommend leaving the skins on if you’re using conventional potatoes though.

A great way to reduce your prep time is to slice the potatoes and onions in a food processor with a slicing blade attachment. Slicing by hand takes a lot longer and the pieces tend to be uneven. You can also shred your cheddar cheese in the processor, just switch to the cheese grater attachment.

Cayenne pepper is a powerhouse superfood.

I always use cayenne pepper instead of black pepper. Many people don’t know this but black pepper is mildly toxic. Cayenne lowers cholesterol, increases circulation and even strengthens the stomach lining [to learn more read: Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper].

It does takes a while to make this dish (about 2 hours) but it’s SO worth it! And your kitchen will smell amazing. For even more flavor you can garnish your potatoes au gratin with a splash of hot sauce. You could also sprinkle some chopped nitrate-free cooked bacon or lay a couple of fried eggs on top. Enjoy!

Potatoes au Gratin

makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 medium organic russet potatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • salt and cayenne pepper
  • 3 Tbsp butter plus extra for greasing pan
  • 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt + more for seasoning the potatoes
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 & 1/2 cups shredded extra sharp white cheddar cheese
  • Hot sauce (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 10″ x 8″ x 3″ pyrex baking dish.
  2. Cut the potatoes in half and cut into thin 1/8″ slices (or use a food processor).
  3. Layer half of the potatoes in the baking dish. Season generously with salt and cayenne. Set the other half of the potatoes aside.
  4. Cut the onion into thin slices and layer on top of the potatoes.
  5. Layer the remaining potato slices on top of the onion slices. Season again with salt and cayenne.
  6. In a medium-size saucepan melt 3 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add the flour and 1/2 tsp salt and stir constantly for one minute.
  7. Add milk and continue to cook and stir until thickened.
  8. Add the cheese and continue stirring for another minute until the cheese has melted.
  9. Pour cheese sauce over potatoes and cover dish with aluminum foil.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 & 1/2 hours (or until the potatoes are fork tender).
  11. In the last fifteen minutes of cooking remove the foil to brown the top layer.

Potatoes au Gratin Hot Sauce

So good with a splash of hot sauce!