I recently got a healthy dose of mindfulness as Tess and I took a long weekend excursion to the Twin Cities to frolic and eat in a new city. Our appreciation for all things yummy extends well beyond pizza, we’re not self proclaimed foodies, but we love food and experiencing unique fare in new surroundings.
As we stepped out of the hustle of our daily lives, it became way easier to stop and live in the present moment. The native Minneapolis folksinger Mason Jennings (one of our favorites) sums it up perfectly: “Be here now, no other place to be.”
Meet the Bahn Mizza, our guide to mindfulness in Minneapolis.
While enjoying the “Bahn Mizza” (a Bahn Mi inspired pizza) at Day Block Brewing in downtown Minneapolis, I took a deep breath and tried to totally experience the pizza and the present moment. Mindfulness is a practice I’ve been working on for almost half a year and the “Bahn Mizza’s” spicy, sweet and savory asian inspired flavors were fun to sit back and marvel.
The pie had a light base of “gochujang mayo” which was subtle, but provided some background heat and sweetness. It was complimented nicely by a fresh topping of scallions, a pickled slaw, cilantro and maple-soy glaze. Vietnamese pork sandwiched between the crust and the fresh top layer was the star of the show. The meat was tender and had a glaze that provided nice texture.
The “Bahn Mizza” provided total proof that sweet and spicy flavors of the east make perfect sense on a charred pizza crust. Similarly, ancient eastern practices like mindfulness and meditation adapt well to our modern hustle and bustle, as they allow us to take a load off.
Breathe in pizza, breathe out love.
Meditation has a variety of positive benefits beyond just taking a breather from the daily grind. Whether it’s a spiritual guru like Deepak Chopra, or an esteemed medical establishment, there seems to be a consensus that meditation can help reduce stress, improve sleep and increase our level of happiness.
According to the Chopra Center website: “A landmark study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital found that as little as eight weeks of meditation not only helped people feel calmer but also produced changes in various areas of the brain, including growth in the areas associated with memory, empathy, sense of self, and stress regulation.”
Mayo Clinic goes one step further and says some research indicates that meditation can even help with illnesses like depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and chronic pain.
Finding a piece of mind.
- Guided meditation: I’ve used the app Headspace to meditate for 163 days and feel equal parts rejuvenated, relaxed and grounded. I do 10 minute sessions which are easy to make habitual and you can choose from different “packs”, I like the one on stress. While it’s not necessary to use tools like Headspace to meditate or practice mindfulness, it can certainly help starting out.
- Deep breathing: I’ve found it helpful to inhale for the count of 5 and exhale for the count of 5. Also, counting alternate breathes to 10 (1 inhale, 2 exhale) can help get you in the zone.
- Focus on your senses: One simple trick I use wherever I may be, is to start out by thinking of my feet on the ground. I think of the sensation of the carpet or my feet against the soles of my shoes. I’ll wiggle my toes. I then go up the rest of my body paying attention to how each part of my body feels.
- Find some silence: Turn off all distractions. Simply sitting and being still can help you focus on the present. I try to pay close attention to the details of my surroundings.
- Visualization: Picture your negative thoughts and emotions as a little cloud passing by. Andy Puddicombe the co-founder of Headspace who lends his voice to guide you, describes this visualization: “Our mind is a blue sky. Clouds come and go. We tend to get caught up in the clouds and forget about the blue sky”.
What pizza taught me:
Practicing mindfulness meditation is about acknowledging our thoughts and letting them pass. When we step into the present moment we can calm our nerves, reduce stress and find a greater appreciation for the people, places and yummy pizza that surround us.
What I’m eating: Bahn Mizza at Day Block Brewing; gochujang mayo, Vietnamese pork, scallion, pickled slaw, cilantro & maple-soy glaze.
What I’m reading: The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere -Pico Iyer
What I’m listening to: Mason Jennings “Be here now”