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Esalen's First Yoga Teacher — Teaching yoga since 1968


Shopping for Zen

by Nancy Portugal Jamello

Generally speaking, my goal is to go grocery shopping when I am not in a rush. Giving myself a huge big time frame allows me to slow down, wonder around the store, read labels, giving more time to our food choices, and respecting that what we eat matters. Also, I find that shopping 5 or 6 different stores allows me a more interesting journey and better quality of food. Often, I allow inspiration to guide me, finding one thing might lead me half way back across the store (creating extra walking) thus making the the outing a relaxing zen walk. All the while, taking cleansing breaths, breathing in and out deeply enough to cleanse your mind and body.

The number one way to enjoy grocery shopping is to allow way more time than you will need. Do not shop in a rush. Having extra time will allow you to daydream enough to see foods you may have overlooked. "Oh, great they have organic asparagus today, perhaps I should make a veggie soup." Make time to be inspired and to look closely at freshness and labels. Currently our household is on a very low sodium diet, but it is always good to read labels and to avoid foods with junk in them. Having extra time will allow you to examine the produce, not simply picking what is on your list, but picking the produce that is fresh, organic and local.

Personally, I prefer to grocery shop at several different markets, allowing for not only better food choices, but allowing for more entertainment (relaxation) for my mind. I enjoy being completely absorbed in the moment. For example: store A has the good, cheap (cheaper) organic extra virgin olive oil we like, store B has the best meat market with the most grass fed beef and no styrofoam containers, whiles store C has the best organic produce, and store D has the best location. Add a couple of farmers markets, a local fruit stand, and the warehouse store for bulk stuff like toilet paper and my mind has a virtual smorgasbord of entertainment to daydream on.

Walking is a great exercise. Slow walking is often called zen walking. When you allow more than ample time for grocery shopping you can slow down, get absorbed in the present moment and zen walk. By using meditation in motion, we can enjoy the movement, be fully present, get in a walk and eat better all by slowing down. Using food choices to inspire my cooking, I do not mind if I wonder around the store to add one more thing to my list. Also, not being in a hurry will allow me to wait in line behind a friendly checker and not simply the shortest line. While in line, I can read a magazine or gaze out the window. Naturally, I have parked in the farthest parking space allowing for the safety of my car and you guessed it / another zen walk.

By simply allowing extra time for your grocery shopping, you can actually relax, enjoy the moment, be fully present and get better food on the table. If you plan out your week, you can be more mindful. Being more mindful can increase productivity and add a feeling of well being. Allowing grocery shopping to be more fun may take a little extra planning, but can also reap good results. You might feel better and eat better. Being truly mindful allows us to "stop, look and listen," channeling renewed hope and renewed vigor.

Nancy Portugal Jamello is an organic gardener, environmentalist, grandma, and yoga instructor.