Light

by Peter Ulisse

This poem was first conceived in trying to fend off the fast approaching darkness of winter – and all that symbolizes. But then, almost despairing, I looked to the top of the trees reaching for the sun and was awakened to the reality of light and hope.

It’s just a matter of perspective for us humans. We can transform through our inner vision. I was inspired to finish the poem on hearing about the theme of Copper Beech Institute’s “Connecting to Your Light” January 2016 retreat, a retreat I later attended.

I hope the light of my poem, illuminating the shift from autumn to winter, carries you in the present as we experience the transition of seasons again – from winter into the growing light of spring.

Light

Mid Autumn sun
sinks deeper in
an afternoon
sky.

Grass last week
glowing in beams
now in shadow –
thick trunks of trees.

I move my chair
frantically to follow
Light
and warmth –

mid yard,
end of yard till
I run out of
Space.

Almost despairing
the inevitability
of shrinking days
and frozen nights

I notice sky
still blue
and spot red
and yellow leaves

at top of trees
unaware of Time
and death
swaying with wind

stretching
dancing
reaching for
Sun.

To awaken inspiration and light in your life this spring, we invite you to visit Copper Beech Institute. Click here for all the ways we can help illuminate your days.

Peter Ulisse is a recently retired English professor and Chair of Humanities at Housatonic Community College. Former president of the Connecticut Poetry Society with over 100 poems published nationally, Peter is currently teaching a mindfulness-based “Conscious Aging” course at the Trumbull Y. He does Tai Chi and has practiced meditation for 30 years. Peter is a guest blogger for Awaken Everyday, Copper Beech Institute’s mindfulness blog. Copper Beech Institute offers more than 40 retreats, courses, and events to foster peace and resilience in everyday life.

Learn more about Copper Beech Institute I Follow our Awaken Everyday blog

Subscribe to our eNewsletters l Come to a retreat l Friend us on Facebook l Follow us on Twitter

Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

by Terry Walters

FINALLY A RECIPE FOR THOSE OVERRIPE BANANAS other than banana bread! Gluten is the protein in wheat that is quite sticky and helps hold baked goods together. In this wheat-free recipe, bananas bind the ingredients and also add significant sweetness so that only a small amount of maple syrup is needed.

2 bananas, mashed
1⁄4 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
1⁄4 cup maple syrup
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats
2⁄3 cup brown rice flour
1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut
Pinch of sea salt
1⁄4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In medium bowl, combine bananas, oil, syrup and vanilla. In separate medium bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, coconut and salt. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and blend until just combined (do not overstir). Fold in chocolate chips.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop batter by the heaping teaspoon onto sheet. There is no need to roll, flatten or shape the mounds. Place in oven and bake 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and place directly on wire rack to cool.

MAKES 11⁄2 dozen cookies

We invite you to jumpstart your CLEAN FOOD journey this spring with Terry at her Copper Beech Institute weekend retreat, Eat Clean, Live Well: Clean Food and Sustainable Health, March 18-20, 2016. Space is limited to 25 guests.

Terry Walters is the best-selling cookbook author of “Clean Food, “Clean Start,” and most recently, “Eat Clean, Live Well.” She is a James Beard Foundation Award finalist and recipient of the Nautilus Gold and Silver Book Awards. She is featured regularly on television and radio in print and Internet media, and is the author of the popular blog, Eat Clean, Live Well. Copper Beech Institute offers more than 40 retreats and programs to foster peace and resilience in everyday life.

Learn more about Copper Beech Institute I Follow our Awaken Everyday blog

Subscribe to our eNewsletters l Come to a retreat l Friend us on Facebook l Follow us on Twitter

An Interview with Dr. Maria Sirois

I stood on a small bridge, deciding if I should follow the path along the winding river that brought me to a familiar spot or if I should climb the hill to unknown territory. I stood quietly, and the sound of the brook babbling below helped me make the decision. Half way down the path along the river, I looked up and noticed a massive stone structure. My first thought was “I took the wrong path!” I had been enjoying my experience in the woods until I had glimpsed at the “might have been” reminder. I could only laugh at myself. Dr. Maria Sirois, nationally renowned clinical psychologist and inspirational speaker, might describe this as being able to move from a negative mindset to a positive framework. I recently spoke with Dr. Sirois about these concepts, her soon-to-be-released new book and her upcoming weekend retreat at Copper Beech Institute, “Mindful Authenticity: Giving Up All Other Lives Except the One That’s Ours.”

In our interview, Maria Sirois explains how choosing to come from ‘mindful authenticity’ will help us stay present on the path meant for us. “When we look at the question of authenticity, we need to ask questions about what is true for us now,” said Maria.“We make the mistake of living lives that were true for us ten years ago, or maybe we are living lives that were never true for us. Sometimes we need to consider that our lives would be much richer if we moved in a different direction, a more honest direction in the present moment. Authenticity requires that we seek alignment so that what we think, what we feel, and where we act from are all stem from within.”

Maria is a masterful storyteller and brings together scientific research, humor, and a fresh perspective on our every day lives. The first time I heard Maria speak to a group, I was immediately pulled in by her quick-wit and rich voice. She made me laugh, moved me to tears, and inspired me to take action on those things I was looking to change in my life.

Maria’s new book, “A Short Course in Happiness After Loss (and Other Dark, Difficult Times)” challenges the often-held belief that life at any one time is either good or bad, but rather each part is tightly woven together, creating a deep richness to the fabric of our lives.

“What we need to understand is that we will always have darkness, we will always have light, but the more we practice mindfulness, the closer we can get to what is true for us,” she explained. “We have the best chance for living in the paradox of light and dark coming together, if we have already cultivated vitality, joy and good health. All of these stem from mindfulness. And with these elements of resilient living our lives develop a deeper significance. We form a grounding that is strong and steady, and from that place, when life hits us hard, we are still rooted and we know with clarity who we are and what we want to bring forward in life. This is crucial to actually live well and die right when the time is comes. If we can accept that there will be high and low times, and that we need to be rooted and firmly planted in who we are, then we can rely on this as a resource to manage the next difficult wave.”

One practical way to put Maria’s wisdom to work in your own life is to choose to elevate one aspect of who you are. By focusing on this one aspect, “it gives you a foundation within yourself, so no matter what is coming your way, you know who you are and you can act from that place. Confucius said it this way, ‘Our rituals affirm us.’ If I have ritualized one of my signature strengths, such as the strength of generosity or compassion, I am affirmed in my day. I know what I am doing. This rootedness in the good within me makes a huge difference in terms of being in life and dancing with life versus feeling victimized by life.”

Maria teaches based on her years of experience from working with cancer patients and her extensive research in this area, but also from a deep desire to understand her own life. The next decade for her work is at the “intersection of art and science rising.” When I first heard Maria present, I noticed that when she illustrated a concept about alignment or transformation, her examples felt like she was addressing my own situation. Even though each of us in that room had walked a different path, she touched upon the threads of humanity that connect us all. I left her presentation feeling lighter, centered and more in control. Her work stayed with me long after her words were gone. Others have said after a full weekend with Maria, you will leave rested and rejuvenated with a clearer vision and practical ways to move forward in your one, true life.

We invite you to learn more from Maria at her Copper Beech Institute weekend retreat, “Mindful Authenticity: Giving Up All Other Lives Except the One That’s Yours,” February 26-28, 2016. For more information and to register click here.

Kimberlea Chabot is founder of  the hyper-local resource for holistic living, LuckyPennyFound. Please visit www.luckypennyfound.com for more information. Kimberlea lives in West Hartford, Connecticut and considers her husband of 18 years and their three children to be both her greatest blessings – and her greatest challenge to living mindfully. Kimberlea is a regular contributor to the Copper Beech Institute blog, Awaken Everyday. Copper Beech Institute offers more than 40 retreats and programs to foster peace and resilience in everyday life.

Learn more about Copper Beech Institute I Follow our Awaken Everyday blog

Subscribe to our eNewsletters l Come to a retreat l Friend us on Facebook l Follow us on Twitter

How To Meditate

by Sharon Gutterman, Ph.D.

In my last blog post for Awaken Everyday, I shared how I came to practice meditation. Now I’d like to share how to meditate. Let me begin with my favorite definition of meditation:

Meditation is the willingness to come back again, again, and again to an object of concentration.

Meditation is not blanking out the mind. This is not humanly possible. Rather, when practicing meditation, we notice the fullness of life coming and going. We are not tuning out; we are tuning in to the present landscape.

Meditation practice begins with non-judgmental observation of life as it arises and passes away from moment to moment. When you find that your mind is being judgmental (pushing away thoughts and feelings it doesn’t like) or clinging (holding on to that which it does like), simply observe that this is occurring. Breathe. Your breath is a convenient object of concentration, a place to return to, your anchor and home base.

And so, sit in a comfortable but still position, back straight but not rigid. Take a few deep breaths and make any adjustments you need in your sitting posture. Smile. Then begin:

  1. Becoming aware of the in breath and the out breath
  1. Being aware of any sensations in a particular area of the body
  1. Sensing the body as whole and just sitting
  1. Noticing silence and sounds
  1. Observing as best you can thoughts and feelings as they move in and out of the mind moment by moment, not getting involved in their content but observing them as thoughts and as feelings that move through your mind like bubbles.
  1. Gently bringing the mind back to attention in the present moment when you notice you are drifting into fantasy, memories of the past, plans for the future, stories, etc. Come back to your breathing. If it helps to focus, count the breaths or pair a calming phrase with each breath.

It’s helpful to set a timer and sit quietly in this way at regular times once or twice a day for 15-30 minutes. As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Practice as if your life depended on it because it surely does.” By meditating every day whether you feel like it or not, you encourage a sense of strength and balance to develop in your life which goes beyond moods, emotional turmoil, and busyness. A greater ability to be calm and mindful slowly develops. Your decisions and responses become more thoughtful and less reactive and impulsive.

For further instruction in meditation, or to help grow your meditation practice in community, we welcome you to Copper Beech Institute’s free-will offering meditation groups. For more information, click here.

To learn more from Sharon, we invite you to attend her upcoming 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Course this spring. For details and to register, click here.

Acclaimed and experienced mindfulness teacher Sharon Gutterman, Ph.D. guides people in how to live mindfully and with less stress. She is a Copper Beech Institute master teacher and founder of Mindful Wow! Wake Up to Your Life. This spring, Sharon will lead the daytime 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Course, beginning April 4, 2016, and the day retreat, Immersion in Mindfulness, June 10, 2016. Copper Beech Institute offers more than 40 retreats, courses, and events to foster peace and resilience in everyday life.

Learn more about Copper Beech Institute I Follow our Awaken Everyday blog

Subscribe to our eNewsletters l Come to a retreat l Friend us on Facebook l Follow us on Twitter

 

Tuscan Bean Soup

by Terry Walters

THIS SOUP HAS IT ALL – protein, calcium, minerals, and more! If you’re short on time, use canned beans. For a heartier meal, serve over pasta or grilled polenta. Add some garlic bread and you have a delicious feast.

SERVES 6

1 thumb-size piece kombu
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1⁄4 teaspoon dried rosemary
11⁄2 cups cooked chickpeas
11⁄2 cups cooked white beans
11⁄2 cups cooked aduki beans
4 cups canned chopped tomatoes with their juices
1 bunch kale or collards, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup red wine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Place kombu in bowl with enough water to cover and soak 10 minutes or until soft. Drain, mince and set aside.

In Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté garlic and onion in olive oil 3 minutes or until soft. Add basil, oregano and rosemary and stir. Add chickpeas, white beans, aduki beans, tomatoes, greens, kombu and stock. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Stir in vinegar and wine, season with salt and pepper to taste, cover and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from heat, garnish with parsley and serve.

We invite you to learn more from Terry at her Copper Beech Institute weekend retreat, Eat Clean, Live Well: Clean Food and Sustainable Health, March 18-20, 2016. Space is limited to 25 guests.

Terry is the best-selling cookbook author of “Clean Food, “Clean Start,” and most recently, “Eat Clean, Live Well.” She is a James Beard Foundation Award finalist and recipient of the Nautilus Gold and Silver Book Awards. She is featured regularly on television and radio in print and Internet media, and is the author of the popular blog, Eat Clean, Live Well. Copper Beech Institute offers more than 40 retreats and programs to foster peace and resilience in everyday life.

Learn more about Copper Beech Institute I Follow our Awaken Everyday blog

Subscribe to our eNewsletters l Come to a retreat l Friend us on Facebook l Follow us on Twitter