The Fascinating Backstory Behind Valentine’s Day Candy Hearts.

The history involved a pharmacy and

America’s first candy machine.

Conversation hearts, Necco hearts, candy hearts, Or Sweethearts, people use many different names to describe those tiny heart-shaped chunks of candy sporting short messages that are ubiquitous around Valentine’s Day.

The candy is iconic, and pretty much synonymous with the most romantic day of the year. But when it comes to actually eating real conversation hearts… well, let’s just say it’s a divisive topic.

But what are they even made of? And where did they come from? In honor of Valentine’s Day, we took a look at the history and process behind
conversation hearts.

The history of the hearts

The story of conversation hearts begins in 1847, when a Boston pharmacist named Oliver Chase invented a machine that would make it easier to produce lozenges.

At the time, apothecary lozenges (basically medicine mixed with sugar paste) were in high demand as a popular remedy for sore throats and other ailments. But making them was a labor-intensive process that involved pulverization with a mortar and pestle, kneading dough, rolling it out and cutting it into small discs.

Oliver simplified the process with his lozenge cutter, often considered America’s first candy-making machine.

The pharmacist then shifted his focus from medicinal lozenges to candy and founded Chase and Company, which later became the New England Confectionery Company or Necco. The candy lozenges became what we know today as Necco Wafers. In 1866, Daniel Chase, brother of Oliver, devised a way to press words onto the candy lozenges, using a felt roller pad moistened with vegetable coloring (usually red).

There are a few different theories about the inspiration behind these specially printed lozenges. One unverified legend claims that Union soldiers in the Civil War carried around Necco Wafers, then known as “hub wafers,” and the practice of sending romantic letters to soldiers sparked the idea for conversation hearts.

Others suggest that Daniel was inspired by the growing popularity of Valentine’s Day cards, which Massachusetts resident Esther Howland started selling in the mid-1800s. What seems like a more likely explanation is that Daniel drew his inspiration from cockles, a popular candy shaped like a scallop shell that contained a “motto” printed on thin, rolled-up paper. He decided to devise a way to print the messages directly onto candy.

UR SWEET: What they’re made of

Necco offers classic Sweethearts, as well as sugar-free, chocolate, “color your own” and “dazzled” varieties. The company website describes how the classic candy hearts are made.

Daniel’s “conversation candies” or “motto lozenges” were not heart-shaped until 1902. Around that time, the candy, previously sold as simple discs, also started appearing in fun shapes like baseballs, horseshoes, and watches.

Conversation hearts were a big success, and over the next century, other small candy companies started offering similar products. With the acquisition of Stark Candy Company in 1990, Necco says it became “the leading manufacturer of conversation hearts.”

Today, the company claims to produce about 100,000 pounds of Sweethearts every day from mid-February through January. It produces approximately 8 billion candy hearts each year.

Manufacturers combine sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, flavors, gums, and colors into a mixing machine to create a dough, which then goes into a machine that presses it flat, stamps it with sayings and cut it into hearts. After 30 minutes in a “drying tunnel,” the six different heart flavors are mixed together and packaged.

According to the ingredient list on the box, Sweethearts contain sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, glycerine, artificial and natural flavors, gelatin, vegetable gums (tragacanth, xanthan, and Arabic), citric acid, and artificial colors (red 3, yellow 5, yellow 6, red 40, blue 1). So, no, they’re not made of chalk.

 

TEXT ME: The sayings

Today’s sayings are on average much shorter than the original ones. Some of the original sayings are still in rotation including “Be Mine,” “Be Good,” “Be True,” and “Kiss Me.” In the early 1990s, Sweethearts began an initiative to update the sayings each year, retiring some while adding others. The first new phrase, “Fax Me,” gained a lot of attention from Sweetheart fans. Following this notable effort, each year Sweethearts receives hundreds of suggestions from romantics, candy lovers, and school kids. From old tech, “Call Me” to new tech, “Text Me,” Sweethearts phrases have reflected eras throughout history.

While most people love to eat them, Sweethearts have also been used in other ingenious ways over the years: to propose marriage, to teach children reading, to decorate cakes and to use as borders for picture frames. The uses for Sweethearts are seemingly endless!

 

Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/history-of-conversation-hearts_n_5a72a8e1e4b06fa61b4d60ef?guccounter=1&guce_

 

Winter Travel Destinations

Aspen
Aspen really has it all when it comes to a ski town. The beauty of this place is seldom matched, with expert ski slopes that flow directly into its impressive historic downtown. On top of that, there is skiing at three other mountains on the same pass: Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk.

If you’re more into shopping than skiing, Aspen is definitely your ski town. Famous brand name stores line the streets, matched by some of the country’s most premier boutiques. Kemo Sabe offers among the finest handmade cowboy boots and custom fitted hats, immortalizing the Old West.

Along with the “Power of Four” resorts, Aspen has lodging throughout its beautiful valley. Snowmass Village is another fun outlet for apres-ski entertainment. It also boasts the most ski-in/ski-out lodging of any town in the state. A free shuttle connects all the ski areas.

Breckenridge
Sitting at the base of the stunning Ten Mile Range, Breckenridge is known for its high altitude life. The former boomtown sits at 9,600 feet above sea level, making it the highest town on this list (Leadville, home to Ski Cooper, takes the cake for ski towns at 10,152 feet).

Breckenridge Ski Resort features five fun peaks to shred on Peaks 6 to 10. Some folks will complain that Breck flattens out and is a beginner mountain, but with 2,908 acres, if you can’t find the expert line you’re looking for, keep looking. Breck’s a party town that’s absolutely loaded with restaurants and nightlife. You can’t walk down the street for more than a few minutes without passing dozens of happy hour specials.

Telluride
Few towns can match the natural beauty of Telluride’s rugged box canyon. The Gondola rises directly out of its historic district offering unparalleled views and access to its internationally renowned slopes. The ski trails begin at 8,750 feet and rise all the way to 13,320 feet (with a little hiking). This happens in the San Juan Mountains too, some of the state’s steepest.

After skiing, this Old West town is just waiting to be explored. Low key restaurants serve up a world-class fare. A separate mountain village offers even more options. Festivals happen nearly every weekend, keeping the spirits at a high all winter. This added to Telluride’s remote location, make it a truly special place to be.

Steamboat Springs
Steamboat is home to the best tree skiing in the state, bar none! Combine that with Champagne Powder and an awesome mountain town and you get tourists that turn into locals after the season’s over. That’s the Yampa Valley curse put on the town by the Ute Indian Chief Colorow. So don’t expect to leave this western charmer without returning year after year. Steamboat’s 2,965 acres and down to earth amenities will please nearly anyone.

Downtown Steamboat has everything you need for an epic ski vacation, including two hot springs: Old Town and Strawberry Park. While in town stop by F.M. Light & Sons for an authentic Cowboy get-up. They have been outfitting Routt County for over 100 years.

Crested Butte
Crested Butte is often referred to as Colorado’s “last great ski town”. And for good reason, the town is sweet and the mountain scenery is spectacular.

The mountain makes the most of its 1,547 acres, with expert steeps and long, groomed cruisers. You can even ride its iconic butte if you hike a little. The Crested Butte Adventure Park will keep the kids busy while off the skis with tubing and mini golf. Downtown CB is as picturesque as they come, lined with colorful Victorian storefronts and homes. A separate base village provides additional dining, lodging, and attractions. Families will enjoy the frequent deals that combine lodging or airfare with free lift tickets.

Vail
Of course, the biggest ski area in the state has an equally impressive home. Vail’s Austrian inspired village is absolutely gorgeous around nearly every corner. In addition to its two striking base areas: Vail Village and Lionshead, the Vail Valley are dotted with places to stay and play, including plenty of cross country ski and snowshoe trails, as well as I-70, which divides the town.

Much like how Snowmass Village was combined with Aspen earlier on this list, Beaver Creek is combined with Vail. It’s a Vail owned resort nestled high behind a gate above its home in Avon, ten minutes from Vail on I-70. They also share a daily lift ticket so you can ride both in one day, but that’s unlikely given their combined 343 trails and 7,121 skiable acres. Nearly every business in both towns strives to deliver world class service and experiences. Stay at either the Ritz Carlton or Osprey in Beaver Creek and you’ll walk right out onto a chairlift. To escape the crowds, head into Minturn and grab a beer at the Saloon.

Winter Park
Winter Park is perfect for those looking for a reliable ski area, with a variety of things to do, but no attitude. Its relaxed personality is reflected in every beautiful town in Grand County, which all happily welcomes visitors with their western charm.

Combined with Mary Jane, Winter Park reps 3,081 skiable acres, including a wide bowl and backcountry gates. The tree skiing at Mary Jane is among the best in the state too. There are known to be a few ski shacks built by locals in the woods so keep an eye out for them. Winter Park is another resort with both a mountain village and a separate downtown. The village is quaint and charming, complete with a Cabriolet, or small gondola, that brings visitors to its car-free streets. The downtown may be less walkable than some, but it’s got variety in restaurants, affordable lodging, and easy-to-access recreation.

Keystone
Below Keystone’s steep slopes, you’ll find a well thought out ski village waiting to be uncovered. It has probably the best outdoor ice rink in the state. Like Vail, Keystone’s mountain village is also downtown. It’s not as busy as Summit County neighborhood Breck, but there are still plenty of places to eat and stay, and you can always find a deal if you look.

The ski area is Summit’s largest at 3,148 acres, with three incredible peaks: Dercum Mountain, North Peak, and The Outback. There’s also night skiing on weekends and holidays. If you get bored somehow, you can ski at Arapahoe Basin, which is also in the city limits.

Source: https://www.uncovercolorado.com/best-ski-towns-colorado/

 

Butternut Squash Soup

Source: https://healthylittlepeach.com/2018/01/24/butternut-squash-soup/

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 3 large carrots ((dice in big chunks))
  • 1 medium onion ((quarter the onion, big chunks))
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chicken bone broth
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pumpkin seeds or just plain seeds will work
  • cilantro

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425º. Line a large roasting sheet with parchment paper. Place the butternut squash cut in half lengthwise (removing seeds), carrots, onion, and garlic on a roasting sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add to the top shelf of your oven.
  2. After 20 minutes of roasting, remove the onions and garlic. After 45 minutes, remove the squash and carrots. Make sure it is fork-tender and allow it to cool before scooping out the squash.
  3. Once cool, start scooping out the inside and transfer the squash and carrots to your blender with your onions and garlic. Add 2 cups of compliant chicken stock and 1/2 cup bone broth to the mix (If you don’t have bone broth, just use regular broth). Depending on desired consistency, add more broth for thinner soup and less for a thicker consistency.
  4. Add in your ghee and coconut milk and blend until all ingredients are smooth.
  5. Add more seasoning to taste and top with bacon, pumpkin seeds, and cilantro. Drizzle everything with fresh coconut milk to make the
    flavors explode.

10 Survival Tips For Holiday Travel

Wherever you’re heading, if you’re traveling during the holiday season, you need to realize that everyone else in the world is, too. But don’t let invasive security scanners, terrible drivers and long lines at the airports get you down. We’re giving you tips to survive the holiday travel season without a Frosty the Snowman-size meltdown.

  1. Do your research.
    Plan alternative trips if traffic makes your way home too overwhelming. Is there a scenic drive that might be longer but has less traffic? Break up a long drive by finding a few places to stop that will get the kids more excited than a truck rest stop. When flying, make sure you check the airline’s restrictions ahead of time on carry-on luggage and fees for checked bags.
  2. Stay connected.
    Stock up on the latest travel apps before you leave home. GateGuru gives you approximate times you’ll spend in the security line. Heading out on the road? Find the cheapest gas with GasBuddy.
  3. Pack light.
    Avoid checking bags altogether if you can. You won’t have to wait for your luggage on the conveyor belt, and you won’t have to worry about your mom’s Christmas present getting lost in an Airport. If you do check luggage, make sure you have all your medications,
    important documents and a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage, just in case your checked luggage gets lost.
  4. Pack earplugs.
    Short of doing yoga in the airport, the best way to mentally escape your stressful surroundings is to turn the volume down. The easiest way to do that is with earplugs. Is there a crying baby in the next seat over on the plane? Earplugs. Sister’s music in the car driving you mad? Earplugs. If you really want to check out for a bit, bring an eye mask (as long as you aren’t driving)!
  5. Don’t get hangry.
    When your tummy growls, your mind can’t think straight, and you could unknowingly get in the wrong line, take the wrong turn, or worse, upset an innocent flight attendant. Pack snacks and drinks, so you and your family will be fueled up for a road trip. If you’re flying, definitely get some grub before you board the plane so you won’t have to rely on airline food if you’re sitting on the tarmac for hours.
  6. Ship gifts or give gift cards.
    TSA suggests to ship wrapped gifts or wait until you reach your destination to wrap them, as they might have to unwrap a present to inspect it. Ship gifts ahead of time or bring the gift that can’t go wrong: gift cards!
  7. Travel on off-peak days.
    The day before the holidays is always the busiest time to travel and can also cause you the biggest meltdown. A better option is to leave early on the day of the holiday and avoid the traffic the night before. Same goes with flying: If you fly on the actual holiday itself you’ll be avoiding the long lines and hoards of travelers.
  8. Travel early or late in the day.
    Flight statistics show that planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. If your flight is canceled, you will have the option of taking a flight later in the day and, there will be fewer lines at security. When is the best time to hit the road? When everyone else is asleep — early morning or late at night. You can always take a nap when you arrive at your destination or on the ride there (if you aren’t the driver, of course).
  9. Plan for the unexpected.
    Have only a half-hour before connecting to another flight? Traveling to Rochester, N.Y., during snow season? Think ahead and plan accordingly. Leave extra time before flights to deal with security, extra time between connections and, for road trips, pack tire chains for snowy conditions, flashlights, and of course, a few bandages.
  10. Inhale. Exhale.
    The overly friendly person next to you on the plane, the canceled flights, the luggage that fell off in the middle of the highway? All of it will make for great stories over dinner when you finally make it to your destination.

2019 Holiday Gift Guide

This year’s top gifts are all about gadgets, comfort, retro comebacks and products they’ll love and never realize they needed. Check out the hot gift items on everyone’s wishlist in 2019.

1. Polaroid Camera 

A modern twist on a retro camera, Polaroids are making a come back and are all the rage. It features simple operations for instant print pictures, plus automatic functions that pick the best camera settings. It comes in multiple colors, as well as gift packages that include film packs!

2. Smart Phone Portable Theater Projector

For the person who makes you huddle around all the time to show you videos on their phone, turn their smartphone into a portable theater projector! It’s not just for smartphones, you can connect a laptop, USB Drive or video game console as well. Depending on the model, most offer full HD resolution and up to a 100” screen size. What’s better than receiving a gift that allows you to watch your favorite shows and movies anywhere you like?

3. Wireless Mini Mobile Photo Printer

For the one who loves taking photos! With this photo printer, they can skip the hassle of ordering pictures, and instantly print photos at home via wifi or the free mobile app. Its small size makes it portable, perfect for taking it along on adventures to give photos to friends!

4. New Nintendo Mini Game Console

This gift is perfect for the gamer or retro-loving person in your life! Bring back memories with the 2019 Mini Nintendo Game Console that features 620 built-in games! Some of the pre-installed games include Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, PAC-MAN, Dr. Mario, Mega Man, Final Fantasy and dozens more.

5. Bamboo Bath Caddy Tray 

This versatile gift is perfect for someone who would love getting away to enjoy a good book, movie, or glass of wine while taking a relaxing soak. It features a wine holder, cup holder, soap dish, phone slot, and book/tablet space.

6. Monthly Subscription Box

Monthly subscription boxes are a great gift choice because there are so many different kinds of subscriptions to choose from! It can be anything from makeup, clothes, wine and cheese, craft beer, food, books, candy, pet products, and more! Subscriptions can be delivered weekly, monthly or quarterly depending on the brand and what they offer.

Some popular ones include My Coffee and Book Club, Ipsy (makeup), My Craft Beer Club, FabFitFun (women’s beauty, wellness and health), HelloFresh (weekly ingredients and recipes for healthy meals), Vinebox (wine), Barkbox/Kitnipbox (toys, treats and more for dog or cat in your family) and the list goes on.

This is a gift that keeps on giving all year long, that they will be excited to receive every month. Because it is delivered right to their door, there is no wrapping or hassle involved for you! Because of the huge variety of choices, you’re bound to find a box that perfectly fits each person on your list, right down to the family pet.

7. Weighted Blanket

Who doesn’t love getting plush fluffy blankets? But add in the feeling of a weighted blanket and you’ve got the ultimate comfort gift. These blankets are filled with weighted materials that create a calming effect and improve relaxation. They come in a wide variety of sizes and weights (from 5 – 30 lbs) and can be used by any age group. They can help improve sleep and can help with many different things such as stress, anxiety, restless leg syndrome, and more.

8. Bottleloft by Uncommon Goods

Make his bottle of beer float in mid-air! OK, not really. He’ll be magnetized by this set of two strips that help him save some serious space in his fridge (and it looks cool, too!). If you want to get him something he’ll actually want to show off to his buddies, this is the real deal. These super-strong magnetic strips will display three beers, making room for those drunken eats (or more beer). It’s the one product he’ll love and never realize he needed.

 

Must Do Fall Activities

1. Go to a haunted house
2. Go through a corn maze
3. Go on a hayrack ride
4. Go to a football game
5. Watch Halloween movies
6. Bake something pumpkin-flavored
7. Make homemade apple cider
8. Make a hearty homemade soup in a crockpot
9. Roast marshmallows over a campfire
10. Pick fresh apples
11. Go on a scenic fall hike
12. Eat a caramel apple
13. Celebrate Octoberfest
14. Try a fall seasonal beer
15. Make/try a new fall seasonal cocktail
16. Go to a pumpkin patch
17. Go to a fall festival
18. Go to a vineyard
19. Attend a wine tasting
20. Read a book outside
21. Read a scary story
22. Have a picnic
23. Drink hot chocolate
24. Make your home smell like fall
25. Decorate for Halloween
26. Decorate your home for fall
27. Do a DIY fall decor project
28. Do a DIY Halloween decor project
29. Make your own Halloween costume
30. Carve a Jack O Lantern or Paint a pumpkin
31. Bake pumpkin seeds
32. Bake a pie
33. Go for a walk on a foggy morning
34. Go to the farmers market
35. Try a new kind of fall produce
36. Visit a sunflower farm/pick sunflowers
37. Plant some flower bulbs for spring
38. Buy/plant fall seasonal flowers
39. Host a Friendsgiving
40. Tailgate for a football game
41. Make a fall floral arrangement

 

Pets of the Month

Say hello to this month’s featured furry friends!

Morty: Morty lives at LionsGate Apartments in Lincoln, Nebraska. He really likes to take walks around town, but his favorite thing to do is play with his friends and family. He is the chillest dog you’ll ever meet! I even have my own Instagram page: @adventure_of_morty

Gracie: Gracie lives at Kensington Apartments in Dallas, Texas. Her Mom says Gracie acts like a dog because she greets her meowing loudly at the door when she comes home, and then flops over for a belly rub when her mom comes inside. Sometimes Gracie even likes to play fetch! She craves attention and is addicted to cuddles.

 

Tips and Tricks on How to Beat the Summer Heat Naturally

 

Try these natural tricks to cool your body down during the hot summer months.

Some of us may enjoy the warm sunshine on bare skin, and look forward to spending the weekend playing outside. But no matter how much you enjoy the warmer months, everyone needs ways to cool down when the summer heat rises. There are plenty of ways to find that cool energy and seek cooler experiences without blasting the air conditioner. Here are 5 natural ways to help you balance your hot summer adventures with cool breezy activities.

1. Plan Your Day.

Depending on how hot your locale is, there are definitely certain times of day that are essential to capitalize on. Before the sun
rises and after it sets you have a few golden hours of cooler weather. Take this time to water your plants, go for a jog, or enjoy a meal outside.

2. Hydrate.

Invest in a Hydro Flask, S’well, or another brand of insulated water bottle that keeps water cold throughout the day. Hydration
during the warm months is crucial.

3. Essential Oils.

Peppermint and Spearmint Essential Oil both contain menthol which has cooling properties. Add a few drops to your
diffuser at home, or make your own body mist for when you’re on the go. You can even create event-specific essential oils by
mixing different scents together.

4. Swim!

Take a dip in your community’s pool or nearby beach/swimming area! There’s nothing better than
submerging in cold water on a hot summer day.

5. Eat Cool, Be Cool.

Consume foods that are cooling to your internal systems. Go for sweet and ripe summer fruits, fresh veggies, and foods that
are bitter or astringent rather than salty or spicy.

Patriotic Firecracker Centerpiece Craft

Supplies:

  • Pool noodle (preferably blue)
  • Glitter scrapbook paper (one sheet in red, silver or blue)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Red tissue paper
  • Decorative stems w/ red, white, & blue stars

Instructions: 

  1. Cut pool noodle to the desired size.
  2. Measure scrapbook paper to pool noodle and cut to size.
  3. Apply hot glue to one end of the scrapbook paper. Do not apply the hot glue directly to the pool noodle!
  4. Wrap scrapbook paper around the noodle and apply glue to the other end of the paper.
  5. Press the paper down to secure to the back of the noodle.
  6. Cut a small piece of tissue paper approximately 6 inches wide.
  7. Gather tissue paper and press in the center of the top of the pool noodle.
  8. Insert decorative stem into the center of tissue paper/noodle.
  9. Celebrate!
*Reminder for Richdale Residents: No real fireworks or firecrackers are allowed in the community.

 

Meditation 101 – Techniques, Benefits, and A Beginners How-To

Why Practice Meditation? 

Meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to the way that fitness is an approach to training the body. But many meditation techniques exist — so how do you learn how to meditate?

“In the Buddhist tradition, the word ‘meditation’ is equivalent to a word like ‘sports’ in the U.S. It’s a family of activities, not a single thing”. University of Wisconsin neuroscience lab director Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., told The New York Times. And different meditation practices require different mental skills.

It’s extremely difficult for a beginner to sit for hours and think of nothing or have an “empty mind.” We recommend using tools such as beginner mediation Apps or brain-sensing headbands to help you through this process when you are starting out. In general, the easiest way to begin meditating is by focusing on the breath — an example of one of the most common approaches to meditation: concentration.

Concentration Meditation

Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point. This could entail following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong, or counting beads on a mala. Since focusing the mind is challenging, a beginner might meditate for only a few minutes and then work up to longer durations.

In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than pursuing random thoughts, you simply let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it arises.

Through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns. Over time, you can become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge an experience as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. With practice, an inner balance develops.

In some schools of meditation, students practice a combination of concentration and mindfulness. Many disciplines call for stillness — to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the teacher.

Other Meditation Techniques

There are various other meditation techniques. For example, a daily meditation practice among Buddhist monks focuses directly on the cultivation of compassion. This involves envisioning negative events and recasting them in a positive light by transforming them through compassion. There are also moving meditation techniques, such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and walking meditation.

Benefits of Meditation

If relaxation is not the goal of meditation, it is often a result. In the 1970s, Herbert Benson, MD, a researcher at Harvard University Medical School, coined the term “relaxation response” after conducting research on people who practiced transcendental meditation. The relaxation response, in Benson’s words, is “an opposite, involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.”

Since then, studies on the relaxation response have documented the following short-term benefits to the nervous system:

  • Help lower blood pressure
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Lower heart rate
  • Less perspiration
  • Slower respiratory rate
  • Less anxiety
  • Lower blood cortisol levels
  • More feelings of well-being
  • Less stress
  • Deeper relaxation

Contemporary researchers are now exploring if a consistent meditation practice yields long-term benefits, and noting positive effects on brain and immune function among mediators. Yet it’s worth repeating that the purpose of meditation is not to achieve benefits. To put it as an Eastern philosopher may say, the goal of meditation is no goal. It’s simply to be present.

In Buddhist philosophy, the ultimate benefit of meditation is the liberation of the mind from attachment to things it cannot control, such as external circumstances or strong internal emotions. The liberated or “enlightened” practitioner no longer needlessly follows desires or clings to experiences, but instead maintains a calm mind and sense of inner harmony.

How to Meditate

This meditation exercise is a simple introduction to meditation techniques.

  1. Sit or lie comfortably on a chair or cushion.
  2. Close your eyes. We recommend using cooling eye masks or restorative eye pillows if lying down.
  3. Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
  4. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.

Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods.