How to Be Mindful While Eating Chocolate (Parenthetically Speaking)

Chocolate Meditation by Peggy

“Mindful eating is eating with intention, attention and awareness. The purpose of eating chocolate is pleasure. So when you are eating what you love, give it your full attention and love what you eat.” 

  1. Become aware of any feelings of guilt. (If you dwell on guilt when it comes to chocolate please skip this meditation and see a therapist).  
  2. Sit down to savor your chocolate choice without distractions.
  3. As you unwrap the chocolate, listen to the sounds and notice the aroma. (If you are an experienced meditator, buy a bag of unwrapped chocolate to go directly to the heart of the meditation)
  4. Take a small bite, then pause. Become aware of the textures and flavors on your tongue. (After the small bite, eat  the entire bag and focus on the subtle differences between gourmet and gourmond).
  5. As you begin to chew, notice how the flavors, textures and aromas change.
  6. Notice pleasure.
  7. When you have fully experienced your bite, swallow, then pause to notice how long the flavor lingers. (If you’ve already swallowed in step #4 return to step #1.)
  8. Slowly repeat steps #4 through #7 until your treat is finished.
  9. (Next,  make a batch of homemade dark chocolate for tomorrow – for optimal results meditate every day.)

Peta, a Green Global Trekker, shared her easy recipe for healthy chocolate.

“Add just enough coconut oil to get the cacao to being liquid. Approximately 2 tbsps cocoa to each cup oil, but as with the maple syrup it’s definitely trial and error and according to taste with the maple syrup. Can you tell I’m not the measuring type?”
  1. Raw cacao powder mixed with organic coconut oil.
  2. Add a pinch of salt.
  3. Add organic honey or maple syrup, to taste.
  4. Use freezer trays – put an almond, a piece of date, a cranberry, whatever you fancy, in your chocolate, then spread the liquid mix over the top.
  5. Freeze and pop chocolates out, “eat right away as they do melt quickly.”

Any questions . . . ask PETA!

Peta and Ben in Goa, India . Check out their travels.  It’s a great blog

Ben and “not Peta”

Peta Kaplan

Peta was born in South Africa and Ben was born in France. After twenty plus years living in the U.S., when their four sons finished high school and left home for college, they quit their jobs, sold most of their possessions and launched Green Global Trek adventure.

Peta is a painter, yogini and animal activist.  Ben is a strategist, personal and corporate “trajectory consultant” and sculptor.  Both are both committed environmentalists and increasingly focused on discovering solutions and advocating for climate adaptation.

Reposted from Curious to the Max

Psychopaths r not us

The closest we will probably ever, knowingly, meet up with a psychopath is reading the fascinating interviews in . . .

The Wisdom of Psychopaths – What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success by Kevin Dutton

Psychopaths tend to be fearless, confident, charming, ruthless and focused – qualities found in brain surgeons, fighter pilots, lawyers, fire fighters. CEO’s and meditating monks.

In this fascinating book Keven Dutton, a British psychologist, combines neuroscience research, interviews with psychopaths, psychological studies and his own mind-altering experience to explore the mind, motives of people identified as psychopaths or psychopathic tendencies.

We found the accounts of his encounters with psychopaths, those locked away, those fully functioning within and outside the “norms” of  society both chilling and intriguing.

One of the interesting interviews was with a U.S. Special Forces instructor for Navy SEALs (The guys who took out Bin Laden).  The instructor describes how they tests recruits to to break them using “torture tactics”.  The object is to determine if they are tough enough to qualify to be a seal (who, to a person, score high in  psychopathic traits).  Here’s the interview:

We did everything we could to break this guy.  He was orphaned at eleven . . .looking after his younger brother and sister by living on his wits. Stealing. Wheeling. Dealing . . . when he was sixteen, he beat someone up so bad they went into a coma.

White noice.  Sleep deprivation.  Sensory deprivation. Water. Stress positions .. . We threw everything at him.  Finally, after forty-eight hours, I removed the blindfold, put my face within a few inches of his, and yelled:

“Is there anything you want to tell me?” . . . he said yes.  There was something he wanted to say.

“What is it?.  ‘I asked.

“You want to cut down on the garlic, dude,” he said.

. . . It was the only time, in fifteen years as an instructor, that I let my guard slip.  Just for a second, a split second, I smiled.  I couldn’t help it.  I actually admired this guy.  And you know what?  Even in the disgusting, state he was in . . ., the son of a bitch saw it.  . .. he called me back closer to him.  And there was a look of sheer, I don’t know, defiance . . in his eyes.

“Game over,” he whispered in my ear.  “You’ve failed.”

“What?  I was meant to be saying that to him?  It was then that we realized he was one of what we call the “unbreakables.” The toughest of the tough . . .” And if he DID have a conscience I never saw it.  He was cold as ice.  At either end of a weapon.  Which actually, in this line of work, isn’t always a bad thing”

Research in the lab has shown that it isn’t so much the case that psychopaths don’t feel anxiety in certain situations, but rather that they just don’t notice the threat.  Their attention is focused purely on the task at hand, and extraneous distractions are ruthlessly filtered out. 

The psychopathic traits that most of us recognize are:

  • Failure to conform to social norms
  • Deceitfulness, repeated lying, conning others for personal profit or pleasure
  • Impulsivity, or failure to plan ahead
  • Irritability and aggressiveness
  • Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
  • Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
  • Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to, or rationalizing, having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

Dutton describes a scale of “madness” along which we all sit. Incorporating the latest advances in brain scanning and neuroscience, he explains that “functional psychopaths – different from their murderous counterparts – use their detached, unflinching and charismatic personalities to succeed in society. 

Furthermore, there is an overlap of traits shared both by those who have psychopathic traits (Narcissism, impulsivity, lack of conscience, manipulativeness, pathological lying, coldheartedness) and those who have spiritual traits (love compassion, gentleness, humility, faithfulness, trustworthiness):

  • stoicism
  • mindfulness,
  • fearlessness,
  • mental toughness,
  • openness to experience,
  • utilitarianism,
  • focus/altered state of consciousness,
  • energy,
  • creativity,
  • non-attachment


Here’s a synopsis, straight from the internet promo:

“In this engrossing journey into the lives of psychopaths and their infamously crafty behaviors, the renowned psychologist Kevin Dutton reveals that there is a scale of “madness” along which we all sit. Incorporating the latest advances in brain scanning and neuroscience, Dutton demonstrates that the brilliant neurosurgeon who lacks empathy has more in common with a Ted Bundy who kills for pleasure than we may wish to admit, and that a mugger in a dimly lit parking lot may well, in fact, have the same nerveless poise as a titan of industry.”

“Dutton argues that there are indeed “functional psychopaths” among us—different from their murderous counterparts—who use their detached, unflinching, and charismatic personalities to succeed in mainstream society, and that shockingly, in some fields, the more “psychopathic” people are, the more likely they are to succeed. Dutton deconstructs this often misunderstood diagnosis through bold on-the-ground reporting and original scientific research as he mingles with the criminally insane in a high-security ward, shares a drink with one of the world’s most successful con artists, and undergoes transcranial magnetic stimulation to discover firsthand exactly how it feels to see through the eyes of a psychopath.”

“As Dutton develops his theory that we all possess psychopathic tendencies, he puts forward the argument that society as a whole is more psychopathic than ever: after all, psychopaths tend to be fearless, confident, charming, ruthless, and focused—qualities that are tailor-made for success in the twenty-first century. Provocative at every turn, The Wisdom of Psychopaths is a riveting adventure that reveals that it’s our much-maligned dark side that often conceals the trump cards of success.”

A Mind Trick to Beat Procrastination

Some researchers say visualising your ‘future self’ can beat procrastination and drive better decisions.

 The act of visual imagery is well known for use in sports but can be applied to any part of your life where you’re procrastinating


The theory goes like this: most of us aren’t particularly good at picturing how our immediate actions will affect us long-term. But if we’re constantly picturing ourselves at a later point in life, and how our daily decisions affect this future person, it can help us make better immediate decisions because it’s easier to imagine the long-term consequences.


“Part of the idea comes from research by Hal Hershfield, psychologist and associate professor of marketing at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, who studies how our perception of time can alter decision-making.”

“In a series of four experiments, people were asked to interact with their “future selves” – digitally altered portraits which showed them in old age – through a virtual reality program. Hershfield found that those who interacted with their future selves were then more likely to allocate money towards a hypothetical retirement savings account.”

Imagining Future Woofer

Hershfield says we often behave in ways that can be detrimental in the long term: “It’s very similar to eating unhealthy today and suffering the consequences over time.”

But “when we help people visualise and more deeply consider their future selves it increases the tendency to act in ways that are more future-oriented.”

In one study 193 university students were assigned to either a present-focused meditation or a future-focused mental imagery meditation. Those who regularly practised visualising their future were better able to empathise with their future selves and experienced a so-called “future-self continuity” due to less procrastination “People who procrastinate feel disconnected from that future self.  The more you imagine yourself in the future the more emotionally connected you feel to that self.”

This idea is not always the key to ending procrastination or altering behaviour, because not all people who procrastinate do so for the same reasons. Instead, it’s important to understand the cause of procrastination.

For example, if the reason for procrastination is simply that you don’t enjoy doing a particular task or are afraid to fail, imaging yourself in the future may make someone even more anxious. “If you are procrastinating because you are really anxious that you are not doing that task well, then visualising the future self might exacerbate anxiety.”

Imagining Future Meowie


Srini Pillay, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of Tinker Dabble Doodle Try, has developed a method to foster this behaviour.

He recommends:

  • Decide on a scene that’s not only specific, but also believable so your brain can better process the visualisation. “Imagine something that feels realistic and congruent with who you are.”
  • The more vivid or detailed the picture is in your mind, the better.
  • Visualise the completion of an entire project by paying attention to every step of the task, not just the end result.
  • Try the visualisation both in first-person (where you are living through the scenario) and third person (where you are watching yourself experience it) – the two perspectives can help you solidify the scenes you are imagining, 
  • choose a time of day where the mind is in a “natural slump” such as the mid-afternoon, and devoting 15 minutes each day to the practice.
  • Don’t expect to master the visual exercise in one session. The task can be stressful for some people.  Repeat sessions until you feel more comfortable with the practice.

Of course, not everyone is capable of imagining challenges. The practice is also more difficult when the reasons behind your procrastination are vague or tougher to understand.

Ultimately, the exercise can help you understand why you’re procrastinating about something that you’re trying to achieve and help you move forward, says Pillay.

“Tinkering with your imagination turns on this unfocused circuit and helps you put together the missing puzzle pieces.”

What you see is what you get Charlie Brown

We humans tend to think that because people are capable of change they will change.  Most of us hope and wait for the other person to do the changing.

Maya Angelou said it most succinctly:

“When people show you who they are,

believe them.”

Lucy will NEVER hold the football for Charlie Brown in the comic strip “Peanuts” . . . because their creator is deceased.

The Write Way to help boost your immune system

“They were told to let go and to include their deepest thoughts, even if they had never shared these thoughts before. Four days running they did the same thing. It wasn’t easy. Pennebaker told me that roughly one in 20 students would end up crying, but when asked whether they wanted to continue they always did. Meanwhile a control group spent the same number of sessions writing a description of something neutral such a tree or their dorm room.”

“Then he waited for six months while monitoring how often the students visited the health centre. The day he saw the results, he left the lab, walked to his friend who was waiting for him in a car and told him he’d found something big. Remarkably, the students who had written about their secret feelings had made significantly fewer trips to the doctor in the subsequent months.”

Studies have shown expressive writing can reduce the amount of times people visit the doctor.

“Ever since, the field psychoneuroimmunology has been exploring the link between what’s now known as expressive writing, and the functioning of the immune system. The studies that followed examined the effect of expressive writing on everything from asthma and arthritis to breast cancer and migraines.”

“In a small study conducted in Kansas, for example, it was found that women with breast cancer experienced fewer troublesome symptoms and went for fewer cancer-related appointments in the months after doing expressive writing.”

“The aim of the study wasn’t to look at long-term cancer prognosis, and the authors are not suggesting the cancer would be affected. But in the short-term other aspects of the women’s health did seem better than for those in the control group who wrote about the facts surrounding their cancer rather than their feelings about it.”

There is one area where the findings are more consistent and that is in the healing of wounds

“But it doesn’t always work. A meta-analysis by Joanne Fratarolli from the University of California Riverside does demonstrate an effect overall, but a small one. Nevertheless, for an intervention that is free and beneficial, that’s a benefit worth having.”

“Some studies have had disappointing results, but there is one area where the findings are more consistent and that is in the healing of wounds. In these studies brave volunteers typically do some expressive writing, then some days later they are given a local anaesthetic and then a punch biopsy at the top of their inner arm. The wound is typically 4mm across and heals within a couple of weeks. This healing is monitored and again and again, and it happens faster if people have spent time beforehand writing down their secret thoughts.”

What does the act of committing words to paper do? Initially it was assumed this simply happened through catharsis, that people felt better because they’d let out their pent-up feelings. But then Pennebaker began looking in detail at the language people used in their writing.

“He found that the types of words people used changed over the course of the four sessions. Those whose wounds healed the fastest began by using the word “I” a lot, but in later sessions moved on to saying “he” or “she” more often, suggesting they were looking at the event from other perspectives.

They also used words like “because”, implying they were making sense of the events and putting them into a narrative. So Pennebaker believes that the simple act of labeling your feelings and putting them into a story is somehow affecting the immune system.”

But there is a curious finding which suggests something else might be going on.

“Simply imagining a traumatic event and writing a story about it also makes wounds heal faster, so perhaps it’s less to do with resolving past issues and more to do with finding a way of regulating your own emotions that makes a difference.”

Writing about your feelings doesn’t boost your immune system for life

“After the first day of writing most people say that churning up the past has made them feel worse. Does the stress cause people to release stress hormones such as cortisol, which are beneficial in the short-term and could enhance the immune system? Or is it the improvement in mood after several days of writing that brings the benefits for immunity? So far, no one knows.”

“Whatever the mechanism, despite several decades of research showing it works, it’s rarely used clinically. You could imagine a situation where people booked in for surgery are given expressive writing instructions in the preceding weeks, but very few studies have used clinical populations with real, surgical wounds, rather than giving healthy students artificially-induced wounds.”

“Also, it works better for some people than others, all depending on how well they engage with the process. What’s more, the effect is short-lived, so you’d have to get the timing just right. Writing about your feelings doesn’t boost your immune system for life. If the same people are wounded again a few months after an initial study, they don’t heal any faster than anyone else.”

But now new research from New Zealand suggests it’s not essential to do the writing before you are wounded. It can work just as well if you do the writing afterwards.

“This opens up the possibility of using expressive writing not just when surgery is planned, but for real-life injuries which of course we can’t predict. Kavita Vedhara from the University of Nottingham and her team in New Zealand took 120 healthy volunteers, and made them write about either a distressing event or how they spent the previous day. They did this either before or after a punch biopsy on their upper arm. The people from the expressive writing group were six times more likely to have a wound that had healed within 10 days than the people in the control group.”

“We’d need to have more studies conducted with real life patients, but maybe one day when we’ve had an operation, we might be told to go home with instructions on expressive writing.”

Back pain: Blue and White Striped Pills are Best

Could taking a placebo, a pill which contains nothing but ground rice, really help cure back pain?

To find out, Dr Michael Mosley with experts from the University of Oxford embarked on Britain’s largest ever trial to investigate the placebo effect on chronic pain. 117 volunteers, all suffered with bad backs for years and felt their conventional medication, painkillers from Tramadol to morphine, gave no substantial relief. 

Some were asked to act as a “control” group. The rest were told that they were taking part in a study – where they might receive the placebo or a powerful new painkiller.

What they weren’t told was that they would ALL get placebos, capsules containing nothing but ground rice.

The pills were authentic looking and based on years of research. They were blue-and-white-striped, because that has been shown to have a greatest painkilling effect.  They came in bottles, carefully labelled, warning of potential side effects and reminding patients to keep out of the hands of children.

After three weeks, the volunteers went through another round of tests and questionnaires. Nearly half of the volunteers reported a medically significant improvement in their back pain from taking the pills – even though they were fake.

Additionally, the time they spent with the doctor had a substantial effect on the outcome, with people benefitting from having a longer consultation with their GP.

The power of the mind.

Studies show that the placebo effect is more than just a medical curiosity. The brain is actually capable of producing its own drugs which can be more powerful than prescription painkillers.

The characteristics of back pain sufferers who responded best to placebo treatment, found those who were most “aware” and “open to new experiences” had the most benefit.

The researchers also carried out brain scans and found anatomical differences in the “responders” and “non-responders”.

Among other things they found subtle differences in areas of the brain, like the amygdala, which controls emotion and reward.

What exactly this means, no one quite knows.

But University of Oxford’s Prof Irene Tracey says: ” . . .  just because a placebo contains no active chemicals, does not mean the effects of taking it are not real.” 

“The average person thinks that placebo is something that’s a lie or some fakery, something where the person has been tricked and it isn’t real.  But science has told us, particularly over the last two decades, that it is something that is very real, it’s something that we can see played out in our physiology and neurochemistry.”

Research has shown that taking a placebo can trigger the release of endorphins – natural painkillers that are similar in structure to morphine.

Where does this leave modern medicine?

A recent article in the British Medical Journal suggests that it can be ethical to prescribe placebos, as long as doctors are honest about what they are doing.

It pointed out there is mounting evidence, from a number of small trials, that placebos can work even when patients know that they are taking them.

BBC2 Horizon programme: Can my brain cure my body?

Mango Tango

This exotic fruit can be found in almost any supermarket, and its price is reasonable – especially in light of all the benefits.

Mango Tango by Peggy

The pulp of mango contains huge quantity of nutrients, almost the whole periodic table:


Also mango is rich in vitamin a composition: A, B, D, E, K, PP and high-dose vitamin C.  In some types the fruit pulp contains ascorbic acid . . . even more than the lemon.

Mango is not only delicious fruit, but also healthy

Медики назвали эффективный фрукт для профилактики рака


1. Vision
Mango flesh can help the optic nerve as it contains a high concentration of retinol which can help lesson various ophthalmic diseases such as night blindness, chronic eye fatigue, dryness of the cornea.

3. Immune system
Fruit, like mango, with a lot of Vitamin C can help to protect against respiratory illnesses. B- vitamins can help protect the body from free radicals which contribute to ageing.

4. Nervous system
The fruit contains a lot of vitamin b which is good for the nervous system functions which regulates stress and improves mood.

5. Urinary system
Mango is used in India as a medicine. It is prescribed for those who suffer from renal dysfunction and to protect the urinary organs from cancer.

2. Intestines

It is useful to those who suffer from constipation.

Researchers at the University of Texas studied 36 men and women diagnosed with chronic constipation. Participants were divided into two groups. One group ate 300 grams of mango every day.  The other group consumed the same amount of fiber in additives. The diet of all volunteers had the same calories and was identical in essential nutrients.

Both groups of subjects by the end of the test experienced less constipation.

The scientists noted that those who ate mango had considerably improved the composition of bacteria in the gut and had reduced inflammation. There was no effect on other symptoms, such as inflammation, in the group who took the additives of fiber and did not eat mango

6. Losing weight
Mango is a great fruit for dieters. It has a sweet taste and tender texture, cleanses the intestines and low in calories.


  • Pregnant women shouldn’t eat mangoes in large quantities. Mangoes contain a lot of vitamin A, which in high concentrations can seriously harm the fetus, including congenital malformations.
  • Mango rinds can be an allergen.  If you are prone to allergies, they should be excluded from the diet or be sure to clean the fruit from the rind.
  • Unripe fruits should be eaten in limited quantities. Even the most healthy person can form bowel disorders and develop diseases of the digestive tract. In addition, unripe fruit can cause throat irritation.

How to choose a mango
Hold the mango, checking the fruit for smoothness and firmness when pressed. The peel color doesn’t indicate ripeness, but merely indicates a grade. Even dark green mango can be ripe.