Archive for the ‘Tuesday Tip’ Category

Meditation 101

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

It’s no secret that meditation is good for the mind, but recent studies are beginning to show the positive biological effects of yoga and meditation as well. In addition to alleviating stress and helping to quell anxiety and depression, Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Denniger has found a physiological component to meditation. “The kinds of things that happen when you meditate do have effects throughout the body, not just the brain,” Denniger said of his study’s findings. With findings like Denniger’s proving time and time again that meditation provides myriad health benefits, the question has become not, ‘should I meditate?’ but, ‘what’s the best way to meditate?’

Spoiler Alert: there isn’t one right way to meditate. Some people like to meditate indoors, others prefer meditating outdoors. Some people find music relaxing, others distracting. While the picture of meditation might look like this:
meditation.png

The truth is there are tons of different ways to meditate. It is much more important to find what works best for you than to partake in the way you think you ‘should’ meditate. The most important aspect of meditation is that you are comfortable, whether that means sitting cross-legged on the floor, lying down, or moving around.

Focused Meditation. No surprise here, this kind of meditation requires you to focus your attention on an object, or “target” which stimulates one of your five senses, sound and smell being most common (incense, the sounds of nature or sound machines, metronomes, and fragrant candles are all excellent choices). The goal is to give yourself permission to let your mind be quiet; not to wander through your thoughts, but to simply be present in the sensations you are experiencing from your chosen object. Focus on your target and clear your mind for just a few minutes, allowing yourself to be present in your experience.

Mindfulness Meditation. Mindfulness meditation is probably the most well-known and popular form of meditation, and for good reason. Mindfulness asks the meditator to be aware and mindful of surroundings, asking us to be present regardless of our surroundings. Accept all the sensations around you, without critiquing or judging what you experience, simply experience who and where you are.

Movement Meditation. This form of meditation is ideal for someone who hates the idea of sitting still for more than a couple of minutes. Movement meditation ranges from yoga, to a serene walk through the woods, to gardening in your backyard, to painting in your living room. Again, the goal is to relax and be mindful of what you’re experiencing; whatever movement meditation you’ve chosen, focus on your breathing and the way your body is participating in the activity. This one more than any other technique is tailor-made to your personal tastes.

Guided Meditation. This is what I like to call an extrovert’s meditation. Guided meditation typically involves some other form of focused, mindfulness, or movement meditation, but is led by another person. This form of meditation often focuses on breathing techniques. Whether you’re meditating with another person or a recorded voice, allowing another person lead you through your meditation is often helpful for beginners.

You don’t have to alter your state of consciousness or leave your body to meditate. The ultimate goal of meditation is to relax and clear your mind, to learn to be present, and to experience your surroundings. Different people achieve these goals in different ways. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new techniques; see which mode of meditation works best for you. Meditation is simple, but it isn’t easy, so don’t get discouraged if you sit down only to find yourself feeling fidgety a few minutes later. Like any other exercise, meditation takes practice and persistence, but the wide array of benefits meditation provides is worth it for your mind and body.

Follow the Frog to Stop Deforestation

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

“You don’t have to go to the ends of the Earth to save the rainforest. Just Follow the Frog!” –Rainforest Alliance.

This past week, the Rainforest Alliance’s “Follow the Frog” campaign promo video went viral on YouTube. Although it was originally published on their YouTube channel in September 2012, it really gained ground this past week with over 3.5 million views.

So, why is this video getting this much traction? Four reasons: it’s brilliant, it’s hilarious, it spreads a positive message, and it calls us to action to stop rainforest destruction. Don’t believe me? TED shared the video on their website, and Nice & Serious, an “ethically driven creative agency”, examined the persuasive qualities of the video.

To backtrack a little bit, the Rainforest Alliance is a nonprofit conservation organization. They work to conserve biodiversity by protecting wildlife, curbing climate change, alleviating poverty, and transforming land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behavior.

“Products bearing the seal originate on—or contain ingredients sourced from—Rainforest Alliance Certified farms or forests,” according to their website. “These farms and forests are managed according to rigorous environmental, social and economic criteria designed to conserve wildlife; safeguard soils and waterways; protect workers, their families and local communities; and increase livelihoods in order to achieve true, long-term sustainability.”

Thus, products bearing the green frog seal are Rainforest Alliance Certified. Such products include coffee, tea, chocolate, fruit, flowers, paper, and even furniture. To find out what products are available near you, check out their product and brand locator.

 

So, how can you “Follow the Frog”?

  1. Watch the video (and share it!)
  2. Take the pledge
  3. Buy products with the frog seal
  4. Participate in Follow the Frog Week (September 15—21, 2014)
  5. Spread the word!

 

This is a guest post by Keen Communications intern Robyn Campbell.

Undersea Freshwater Reserves Could Provide Water for Decades

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Freshwater is becoming a scarce commodity on Earth. Only 2.5% of the water on Earth is freshwater, and only 0.0325% of that is accessible for drinking. As the population continues to grow, the amount of usable water is quickly disappearing. Some scientists predict a World War could be fought over who gets access to clean water, and water conflicts are already in process in Syria. Thankfully, newfound reserves could sustain the world’s water needs for a while longer.

Researchers announced this week that they’ve probed the extent of freshwater reserves under the sea off the coasts of South Africa, China, North America, and Australia. Scientists have known about the freshwater pockets for some time but only recently discovered how large they are. Researchers estimate the pockets contain about 120,000 cubic miles of water. Each cubic mile is equivalent to 1.1 trillion gallons, enough water to satisfy all of the United States’ present water usage for about 9 days.

Since it isn’t as salty as seawater, the reserves would be easier and cheaper to desalinate for consumption. The researchers say these freshwater reserves could sustain certain regions of the world for decades. However, these underground puddles aren’t perfect. The water is briny and will require a fair amount of filtering. Additionally, several problems exist.

The first issue, extracting water from the reserves would be a difficult task. Described in the Huffington Post, “drilling for the trapped water would be an expensive endeavor, and engineers have only two options to tap it. They can build a platform out at sea and drill into the seabed, or drill from the mainland or islands close to the aquifers.” Secondly, these reserves are non-renewable sources of water. Our existing aquifers eventually get replenished by rainwater, but these newfound reserves are completely cut off from the hydrologic cycle, according to a paper published in Nature. They won’t get refilled until the next Ice Age, when sea levels drop low enough to expose them at the surface.

Although the reserves will be a great source of water, it’s just as important to continue being conscientious of our water usage. The water reserves can only be used for so long until they are gone forever, which is why water needs to be used wisely. Conservation is key!

What’s the Most Important Thing Food Labels Should Tell Us?

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

The importance of food labels is a discussion that has been gaining importance over the past couple years. Voters agree that people have a right to know what they’re eating–if food is organic or if it contains genetically modified ingredients. While GMO labeling is at the center of the debates, there are other suggestions that many believe are worthy of noting on food labels.

Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota has three things he would like to see labeled.

“First, deforestation, yes or no?” he says. In other words, were trees cut down to grow this food? This has been happening in Indonesia and Malaysia to make room for palm oil plantations. According to Foley, he can’t think of a “bigger hammer to the environment” than deforestation.

Second, Foley continues, “How much water did it take, and from where?” Farmers around the world have been draining rivers and underground aquifers to water their crops at the expense of the land. “And No. 3, how much fertilizer did it take, and did you manage to keep it from running off?” Fertilizer runoff from farms has choked lakes and estuaries from China to the Chesapeake Bay. It contaminates our water supplies and damages the ecosystems with its excessive nutrient levels.

Another opinion from Tracie McMillan,author of The American Way of Eating, only wants to know if the people working the farms were paid a fair living wage. McMillan went undercover and worked in the vegetable fields of California to investigate fair wages for her book.

It would be great to see food labels on a grade basis of how farmers and the land are treated, but it is also important to keep labels simple and easy to read. There are several issues that probably should be labeled on food that would greatly influence what food we buy and how production of food is treated. But for now, the food label debate is still ongoing.

What are some things you would like to see on food labels?

Creative Recycling: Make Your Garden Stand Out

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

For the past several years, recycling has been an issue brought to our attention time and time again. From paper to plastic and even phones and batteries, there is something to be recycled. Unfortunately, many things that can be recycled aren’t and end up in landfills. That’s where creativity comes in.rainboots

After a while, our shoes begin to break and become unwearable. Fortunately, there are other uses for our shoes. For example, take a shoe or boot that has some garden potential; take some soil and fill up the shoe. Next, take a seed and plant a flower or succulent in the soil, water it and let it grow!

Whether outside or an indoor ornament, the design is one to be admired. Any type of shoe can be used, from rain boots to heels. Be creative. The possibilities are endless! Don’t fill a landfill. Do something different to make your home stand out.heels

Craft Green

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Are you a crafty person, but sick of wasting extra supplies? Go Green! There are so many green alternatives to put your skilled hands to work. Here’s a favorite!

Instead of buying costly fabric in order to make that perfect throw-over-the-couch-blanket, use old shirts, sweaters, socks, and/or shorts to feel the warmth of an old memento. In fact, it can make the perfect gift. A newlywed, high school graduate, college graduate, and the parents of a newborn would love this to hold onto.

Material Checklist:

1.)  Old clothing

2.)  Old sheet or fleece; Hint: use an old baby blanket!

3.)  Sewing machine or needle and thread

4.)  Scissors

5.)  Chalk

The best part about this craft is that it = $0

 

quilt

Here’s an example of the end result to a perfect memory blanket using old baby clothes.

Check out maidenjane.com for more examples and tutorials on how to craft green!

Recycling & composting in the modern age

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

I have been recycling for what seems like my whole life and stressing the importance of recycling to others along the way. It was only recently that I considered composting, and in my research to begin that process, I came across many very interesting and helpful articles and organizations. I want to be the best recycler and composter that I can be, and I want you to do the same!

The Mother Nature Network has offered some great advice on things you should definitely not compost or recycle. You’d be surprised at what should NOT go into your bins. Some things are common sense while others answer those long asked questions: I can just throw this in there and they’ll take care of it, right? Everything from motor oil and batteries to printed papers and pizza boxes is covered, with suggestions for what to do with those non-traditional recyclable materials. I know I’ll be printing this list off and taping it to the top of my recycling bin at home!

In addition, I have often found myself wondering how to properly dispose of cooking oil/grease from my kitchen. I knew that flushing it down the sink was most likely not the proper way (imagine how fatty foods clog our arteries–just imagine what repeated flushing down the drains does to the pipes in your home and through the city!), so I did a little digging. Am I able to just throw the grease in the trash in a sealed container? That didn’t seem right to me, but, it appears to be one solution. Another solution is to take your grease to a local restaurant (one that offers collection) for a larger-scale removal. However, the most sustainable solution to getting rid of your cooking oil/grease is to partner up with a local restaurant where you can take your grease and have them donate their grease to the Alternative Fuel Foundation. The AFF ‘recycles’ cooking oil and grease from restaurants and turns it into clean-burning bio-fuel! You can read more about the benefits of bio-fuel at their website. Very cool, and very green!

There are tons of organizations and companies that are recycling in creative ways, collecting hazardous materials, other recyclable materials such as light bulbs, batteries, motor oil, etc. throughout our communities. An example of just that is GLOBAL RECYCLE, a small company based out of New Orleans that is working to better the community with their local recycling program. The best thing you can do for yourself is to get in contact with someone knowledgeable on the subject: I plan to see if our local green grocer, Park + Vine, collects cooking grease. I’m sure that they can teach me all kinds of things about this, composting, and much more!

 

Green is the new black

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

This month I will be attending and covering Cincy Chic’s Eco-Fabulous Fashion Show.  I’m excited about this not only because Cincy Chic is a great Cincinnati online publication for women, but it will be a good chance to meet and mingle with some like-minded local ladies.  I’m interested to see what eco-friendly and fabulous designs the DAAP students have come up with and what materials they used to create their designs.

Make sure you check back at the end of the month for my total wrap-up of the event; I’ll make sure I take pictures.  Even better, if you’re in the Cincinnati area, you should come to the event.  It will be fun and it’s free!

orginal

forkheartknife

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

There is absolutely nothing I love more than good, home-cooking!  Already, Cincinnati is blessed with an amazing independent bakery/cafe, TAKE THE CAKE.  Not only do they make great wedding cakes and other holiday cakes to order, but also have an always changing menu from day to day in their open kitchen layout with communal tables, and when the food is gone, it’s gone (and believe me, it’s good enough that it goes quickly)!

Very recently another wonderful place just opened, and wouldn’t you believe it is right across the street from my last apartment in downtown Cincinnati (Over-the-Rhine).  Go figure!  The newest addition to the Gateway Quarter is forkheartknife, which has a truly inspiring (although heartbreaking) story behind its inception.  Co-owners Sierra Laumer and Leah Heisel Grande are mainly focused on catering but will be open a few days a week for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or late night snacks, to be decided (it’ll be a surprise).  Soapbox Media did a great piece on them where you can get some real insight into what they’re up to.  I know what I’m doing for dinner this Thursday, 6-10pm  – they’ll be open for dinner!

If you can look at their Website and not drool at the food pictures, I’ll give you a dollar.

That’s all for now.  I have to go find myself a snack after all this food talk!


The Importance of Physical Activity

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

AND getting outside – go green!

Getting outside and getting physical, whether it’s just taking a stroll through the woods or scaling a mountain wall, is one of the most important things you could do to keep yourself healthy!  Check out all the great benefits of staying active, according to the CDC.

I know this is information that just about everyone is familiar with, but still, with the shape America’s in, we could all use a little reminder every now and then.

About six months ago I did something healthy for myself and began walking to work.  It was great through winter, at some points we had over a foot of snow, I just trudged my way down the sidewalks in my snow boots.  Let me tell you, there’s nothing like being the only person out early on a snowy morning… so quiet and peaceful.  When it gets unbearably hot this summer, I’ll start riding my brand new Tonino Lamborghini Rapido bicycle to the office (not bragging or anything).

I also joined a local gym and regularly attend Pilates and Yoga classes.  I have been sleeping better, eating better, and all together feeling incredibly better.

To go green, however, I’m riding my bike to some local hiking trails over the weekends.  I’m lucky enough to work at a book publishing company whose biggest selling books are some incredible hiking guides.  You should check them out, there’s one for almost every big city in the country!  www.keencommunication.com

Tonight we are hosting an event with the Tri-State Hiking Club at a local pub.  Tammy York, author of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Cincinnati will be the featured author and will sign her book for what we hope to be TONS of interested outdoorsy folks!

THERE ARE ONLY 2 DAYS LEFT TO HELP SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT EARTH DAY AND OUR #green2010 CAMPAIGN!  Check out Think Green 2010 for more information, but don’t waste any time!