Q: Does meditation have a religious connection?
A: Meditation is the act of spending time in quiet thought, of pausing, slowing down and focusing inward. Meditation does not have to be a religious activity. Meditation is not “owned” by any specific religion, nor will it make you a religious person. Meditation is a very personal thing. It allows us to reflect and recharge inwardly.
Some of the meditation techniques practiced today have their roots in the Buddhist faith. However...practicing meditation does not make you a Buddhist. Today there are people of all religions and people who are not at all religious practicing meditation for a variety of reasons.
The benefits of meditation show us that meditation is a good practice for any and all walks of life.
Mindfulness improves both physical and mental health. Make the choice to live your life moment by moment.
We say that mindfulness is a "practice" because it is something that we should strive to continually do throughout our day. We may never be perfect at it, but if we continue to make an effort to be more mindful, the benefits are still there.
Mindfulness can help even the most stressed out people sleep better. Soldiers may especially benefit from practicing mindfulness before bed. Setting aside time to practice in the evening can be a good way to deal with heavy thoughts before trying to catch some shuteye.
Mindful eating is a great way to reduce over-eating. By paying attention to our senses as we eat, we become more aware. We will start to become more satisfied and full and enjoy our food more than when we eat without thinking about it.
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Featured Recipe: Bolognese with Pappardelle Pasta
Beef Bolognese is a classic Italian dish that originated near Bologna, Italy (hence “Bolognese”!). You may recognize it from the common North American version you see in restaurants – spaghetti Bolognese. As it turns out, this version is almost unheard of in Italy. The traditional way of serving this dish is with wide, flat noodles that hold more of the sauce in each bite. But we’ve found that it tastes just as good with whole grain noodles! Substituting whole grain noodles adds fiber and protein. The extra fiber and protein help you to feel full and energized.
This recipe takes up to an hour from start to finish (not counting prep time for the veggies), so it’s a great recipe to prep the night before and throw in the crock pot or instant pot. Cooking the sauce long and slow helps add to the flavor. The sauce will keep well as leftovers and can be used later in the week for another pasta dish, or even as a filling for a sandwich! (Italian Sloppy Joe’s on whole grain buns, anyone?)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided into 2 tbsp and 1 tbsp
- 1 pound ground turkey (93% lean)
- 1/2 cup carrots , 1/8-inch dice
- 1/2 cup yellow onion , finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup brown mushrooms , 1/4-inch slices*
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes , canned (San Marzano variety or vine ripened)
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano , chopped fresh, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/6 teaspoon black pepper
- 10 ounces whole wheat noodles
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves , chopped for garnish
- Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the ground turkey and brown the meat well, stirring occasionally about 5-7 minutes and using a large spoon to break up the pieces until the beef is no longer pink. Transfer cooked meat to a medium sized bowl. Wipe the pan clean with paper towel.
- Turn heat down to medium-low and add remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Add the carrot and onion to the pan and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, stirring often – about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for two minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for one more minute. Stir in the browned meat.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and oregano and stir well to combine. Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat. Cover the pan, leaving a small opening for steam to escape. Cook until the meat is tender and the flavors have melded, at least half an hour and up to an hour**. Stir every 10 minutes. Add some water if the sauce starts to look dry. Season sauce with salt and pepper, more to taste.
- About 20 minutes before the sauce is done cooking, bring a pot of water to boil. Cook the noodles according to manufacturer's direction.
- Divide the pasta amongst 4 bowls. Top with beef bolognese sauce and garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese and parsley.
*No room for mushrooms? If you’re not a mushroom fan, you can compensate for the lack of texture/heartiness with cauliflower or a little additional meat. Otherwise, feel free to leave them out. If you’re using cauliflower power, add it at the same time as the carrots & onions so it has enough time to cook through.
**Why is the cook time so long?? Cooking the sauce over low temperature for a longer time does two amazing things. First, all the great aromatics, vegetables, and meat flavors become concentrated as the liquid reduces slowly over time. Secondly, the heat and acids naturally found in the tomatoes tenderizes the meat and allows it to break down, giving a nice soft texture. You can easily let this cook in the crock pot or pressure cooker overnight.
Featured Exercise: Front squat