Hello everyone. Did the title of this blog post get you? Sorry, it won’t be about the master of meditation but it will be about my thoughts and experience on meditation. Feel free to keep reading or if you aren’t interested, check out our other posts!!
Anyways, during my sophomore year in college, I had taken a class on religions of the world. Three fourths of the way through the class, there was an assignment that required us students to physically attend a religious event at a site of our choice. My friend, Nancy, and I decided to go to the Zen Meditation session at Bluestone Zen Practice Community (dedicated to the practice of Zen and the fundamentals of Buddhism). I never really thought about how hard meditation could be. It just seemed so easy, having to sit most of the time. After this session and lessons from class, I realized that meditation was more than just having your eyes closed and breathing.
Nancy and I entered the building not knowing what to expect. It was around 7am so there were no lights turned on. Curtains were not put up either so it created darker/dimmed lighting. Candles were lit and it was quiet, but in a way where everything just seemed so soothing and peaceful. The session finally started when it was time. We all sat on a pillow on the floor. There wasn’t much talking at all and so Nancy and I just did our best to follow along. The whole experience was eye opening, showing me that there is so much more to it. Having to clear my mind while meditating was so much harder than I thought. I kept talking to myself in my head and thinking about trying not to think. I just couldn’t seem to clear my mind, and still haven’t mastered it. In the end, I appreciated the art of meditating a lot more. I definitely saw how this could be a really good routine for my body and mind.
After reading the article written by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on lessons from meditating with the Dalai Lama, it made me feel a sense of comfort and happiness. He talked about how he had a personal one-on-one meditation session with the Dalai Lama. The part that I loved from his article was the part where he talked about how the Dalai Lama smiled and laughed while replying back with “After doing daily for 60 years, it is still hard.” I felt so comforted that someone as holy as the Dalai Lama was so sweet and encouraging. The overall article also talked about how Dr. Sanjay Gupta became a changed man because of this experience and the decision of applying what he learned to his everyday life routine.
Giving things a chance before judging was the reminder that came to me after this experience and again, after reading this article. Meditation is a way to calm the mind and help people with their body. It is just so cool to me now because there is such a deep meaning to it, and it helps a person in so many ways. Keeping the body healthy and staying in shape is so important but sometimes we forget to help the mind. Definitely give meditation a try. It won’t be easy but it will definitely benefit and satisfy you.
I highly recommend you to read Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s article. Click the link below to go directly to the webpage.
June is men’s health month and with that as a reminder to keep up with your health, taking initiative to maintain a healthy life style is one of the main ways to live a good life. So along with having a healthy lifestyle (eating right and having a fitness routine), getting regular check ups is also an important way to help and prevent any problems before they start.
It will be difficult to completely change your routine and quit any unhealthy habits; so with this, I recommend taking baby steps and changing for the better slowly everyday. When you feel confident and comfortable enough, try taking a bigger step!
Some tips to help with keeping you on track includes: having reminders around, support from loved ones, positive reinforcements, setting small goals, taking baby steps if needed, and writing down your progress to help you visually see your improvements!
Family Health and Fitness Day (September 24, 2016)
The goal of this event is to promote family involvement in physical activities and towards a healthier community.
“Local organizations throughout the country will host family-related health and fitness events at schools, park districts, hospitals, YMCAs/YWCAs, malls, health clubs and other community locations.” – http://www.fitnessday.com/family/
“September is Fruits & Veggies—More Matters® Month is celebrating Fruits & Veggies—More Matters® Month by promoting the many benefits of eating plenty of fruits and veggies. Fruits & Veggies—More Matters® Month highlights the importance of healthy eating in keeping our community strong and healthy.” – Rightful owner
Click on this link to find out why you should be eating more fruits!
“Every September, SAMHSA sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover.” – https://www.recoverymonth.gov/
“MPLS Pizza Club is a community for Pizza Enthusiasts with Minneapolis ties who eat, share, explore, create, & celebrate all things pizza. There is no official membership, the club is based on shared experiences, building community, and collaboration. MPLS Pizza Club was founded by Paige Guggemos in 2013.” – Rightful owner
With the holiday season around, it is easy to forget how to maintain a healthy lifestyle! So take this time of the year to review what you can do to improve your overall health. Also, it’s a good time to think about what kind of health goals you want to achieve now and in the future. But don’t worry, it is easier than you think. Here are 5 easy steps you can do to stay active and healthy:
Work out on a schedule! If you already have a work out schedule, try your best to stick with it. In this way, your body and mind will get use to it. Consistency is key to keeping your body healthy and active! But if you don’t have one yet, try to work out or go to the gym as often as you can. Then find the proper time that you are available each week to work out and try to stick with that schedule!
Stay warm! It is colder around this month with the snow and windchill, so make sure to protect yourself with appropriate clothing. If your body temperature drops, you can get ill or even frostbites! Ouch, nobody would want that!
Keep yourself healthy with healthy habits! Little things that you may do will affect your overall health and it is very important that you try to keep your life balanced. In between work, free time, sleep, being sanitary, and other things, being able to manage them will reduce your stress level!
Talk with friends and family! This is the season of gathering so not discuss things with your loved ones? It can help you destress, get to know people better, and you can learn new things. Having a social life is part of a healthy lifestyle!
Join a community event! It can help you stay active physically and socially! Whether it is a marathon, a fundraiser, or a social gathering, it is a great way for you to interact with your community.
Help improve your health physically and mentally by doing fun exercises! It’s never too late to take a step towards a healthy living lifestyle. Many studies all over the world has shown that people who exercises on a daily basis tend to be healthier and happier. Why? Exercising can help reduce stress hormones in your body like adrenaline and cortisol. It also promote your body to produce more of endorphins that can help raise your happiness, activity, and decrease your overall stress level. Here are some great resources to check out!
Want to know more information? The more information you know, the better you understand how your body works!
According to the 2010 U.S. Census the eighth largest Asian American populations in Minnesota are the Hmong, Asian Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino, Laotian, and Cambodian communities. Specifically, 27 percent of the total population identify themselves as Hmong, 15.5 percent are Asian Indian, 11.7 percent are Chinese, 11.1 percent are Vietnamese, 4.9 percent are Laotians, and 3.9 percent are Cambodians (Figure 2).
Minnesota is home to over 40 different Asian Pacific Minnesotan immigrant and refugee communities. Each community has its own strengths and challenges that may be unique to that ethnic community. The following is an overview of how the Hmong American community is faring in Minnesota.
Hmong American Community Overview
The Hmong American community is the largest AAPI ethnic community in Minnesota and is second to California which has the largest Hmong American population in the U.S.1 APA ComMNet was able to survey a larger number of respondents from the Hmong American community – almost three times more than any other ethnic AAPI groups compared to other AAPI groups. . APA ComMNet REACH CORE project staff and volunteers met with Hmong American community members and leaders throughout the Twin Cities to understand the community’s strengths, challenges and other social and environmental factors affecting its overall health and wellbeing.
Hmong American Community Strengths
In general, the Hmong American community perceived its quality of life in the Twin Cities as fair or improving. Hmong Americans stated that they are healthier living here in the U.S. compared to their relatives in Thailand, Laos and other areas of Southeast Asia. Several Hmong community members indicated that ample activities and opportunities exist for youth to be physically fit, reach their academic goals, and live to their fullest potential. Numerous participants also expressed that Hmong American youth of today hold more degrees in higher education and are expected to live longer compared to their parents’ generation. Furthermore, the Hmong American community pointed to an increasing number of political leaders, male and female, who assist in creating policies and programs that are aimed at improving the overall well-being of the community. Others also mentioned the large number of businesses and institutions created to serve members of the Hmong community. Such factors have created a positive perception of the how the Hmong community is faring in the eyes of its members. Many Hmong Americans state that their most important community assets include their strong family foundation, clan network and their value of having a good education.
A 2010 report found that the household size of a typical Minnesotan Hmong family is 5.4 members, the largest household size among all AAPI ethnic groups.2 Hmong community members interviewed for this project said that having a large family is an asset because they rely on their family for support and assistance. Chingla Thao, the Dean of Students at New Millennium Academy – a Hmong charter school in Minneapolis said he comes from a “community-dependent” community that values interdependence between members. Thao added that this interdependence and the value of having a large family might be traced from the Hmong’s agrarian culture. According to Thao, more family members provide financial security:
“The Hmong often want bigger families in an event of a crisis, so the burden is shared by more people. Having bigger families builds community and it helps us be independent in a way that we don’t have to seek for outside help. We can get that help and support internally, from each other.”
Education also is a priority for many Hmong community members who participated in this project. In recent years, more charter schools have opened its doors in the Twin Cities with a focus in providing culturally appropriate education to students of Hmong descent. When asked about the value of education, Thao stated that the Hmong community recognized early on that education was the “key and the way out of poverty.” He mentioned that a phrase young Hmong American children consistently hear from their parents is “Rau siab kawm ntawv” or “work hard in school.”
Hmong American Community
Some of the barriers to better health and wellbeing for the Hmong community are high rates of unemployment and poverty, limited English ability and unaffordable medical costs. Over 12 percent of the Hmong community reported that they were uninsured.1 Hmong community members who participated in the project indicated that uninsured members at times seek medical care from Shamans to alleviate their physical and mental health issues (See side bar). Hmong American families also use herbal remedies and may conduct healing ceremonies in the hospital and in the home. In addition, community members indicated that surgery and organ donation may not be acceptable as treatment for medical ailments and some members of the Hmong community believe that certain Western medicines may poison them, rather than help them.
While Hmong community members value physical activity, especially low-impact exercises such as gardening and walking, many Hmong community members identified the traditional diets as a health issue that needed to be addressed in the community. Hmong Americans have among the highest obesity rates in comparison to other AAPI ethnic groups (Figure 3). White rice and fatty meats are considered a staple for many Hmong families while vegetables are often cooked with the meats and not eaten raw. “Hmong people, in general, don’t know what food is nutritional and what is good for the body, but through word of mouth, more people are learning about it,” said a Hmong community member during his key informant interview.
1 Council of Asian-Pacific Minnesotans (CAPMN). 2012. The State of Asian Pacific Minnesotans: 2010 Census and 2008-2010 American Community Survey Report. St. Paul, MN.
2 Pierce PhD, Alexandra. 2010. Health Disparities in Southeast Asian and African Refugee Communities. Produced for the CAPI – Center for Asian and Pacific Islanders. Minneapolis, MN.
REACH CORE Radio Talk Show:
Guest P. Vang: Yes. A few have medical insurance. However, there are others who do not have medical insurance due to unemployment or is not eligible to apply for medical insurance through the state.
Host Yang: Without getting access to medical coverage, is there anything else to help you with your health, or are you still looking for resources to help you with this area?
Guest P. Vang: Yes, we do need help. There are those who are in severe pain and in critical conditions who don’t get access to healthcare and don’t get treated due to the lack of medical coverage. Therefore, the only alternative our Hmong communities fall back on is to perform cultural practices; such as performing spiritual activities from a Shaman. Plus, if evil spirits is the cause of the person’s sickness, then “spirit calling/healing” from a Shaman would work. However, if the cause of the sickness is due to diseases, then it is necessary to seek a physician and be hospitalized.