Tag Archives: siesta

5 Mindful Dining Lessons from an Italian Bistro

Pizza Salsicce close-up - Tiamo 2 AUD16.90 mediumUpon arriving in Bologna for a conference, I was determined to make every minute count: I checked into my hotel, checked my email, took a quick nap, showered and left for some sightseeing. At this point it was about 3:00pm and lo and behold, it was siesta (an Italian tradition when most businesses shut down for a few hours to ‘rest’).  As a result, I was forced to stop my touristic whirlwind and took my own siesta in one of the few open bistros, choosing to eat dinner early so that I could take advantage of my “Perfect Storm” of jet lag, hunger and nothing to do.

At RosaRose I ate local fare and watched the Fords, or shall I say bicycles and mopeds, go by. As a European, this time off is custom. As an American, however, this is foreign (pardon the pun). But yet, with no cellphone to answer… no laptop on which to type… no internet to distract… you somehow acclimate quite easily. So easily in fact, you quickly find yourself dreaming of this lifestyle as your own.

Although I clearly had other plans for my day, my new agenda was quite appealing and I was in no rush to leave my little Perfect Storm Haven. My storm became a calm: my jet lag seemed to dissipate, my hunger was satisfied and my ‘nothing to do status’ became my very own enjoyable siesta. After a couple of hours, I left recharged and ready for another several hours on the go. Maybe there really was something to this siesta after all!

In Italy, life seems less hectic… more simple. Undeniably, it becomes easy to think of adopting their lifestyle. Turns out, there were several life lessons to be learned during my time in a simple Bolognese Bistro:

  1. Take a Break: We tend to busy ourselves constantly and forget how important it is to take a break, decompress and relax. Being forced to stop and relax because there is NOTHING ELSE to do, gives you an opportunity to really understand how wonderful it is to do nothing.
  2. Eat GOOD Food: This means good in quality and in taste. If the quality is good, there is a good chance it is going to taste good too. The higher the quality of food you eat, the more likely you will eat less. My siesta meal was prosciutto, tomatoes and mozzarella…although a bit higher in fat than I would normally eat, as an appetizer it made me full for the rest of the day!
  3. Drink Just Enough: Often, I feel that many people over indulge in alcohol in the United States. In Europe, drinking is a social aspect of the culture. A glass of red wine with dinner is very normal. That said, you rarely will see binge drinking among locals.
  4. Slow Down: In the United States, especially in coastal cities, I feel that we run at a million miles a minute. Slowing down helps you enjoy more in life. For instance, when eating, don’t scarf…savor every morsel in a slow and purposeful fashion. You’ll feel satisfied on less food.
  5. Love the Ones Your With: During my time at RosaRose, it was apparent that people really enjoyed being together. They were smiling, laughing and chatting up a storm. Even the waitstaff were jovial. Whether it be friends, family or your partner, make time together special and fun.

Have you traveled to Italy or any other place in Europe? Did you have a similar experience? What valuable lessons did you learn from time abroad?

 

Originally published July 2012

Proof you went psychotic last night… plus why you should ask your boss for naptime

University of California Psychology and Neuroscience Professor, Matthew Walker, gives three good reasons to believe we all become psychotic when we sleep:

  1. You see things that simply were not there (you hallucinate).
  2. You believe things that could not possibly be true (you become delusional).
  3. When you wake up, you probably forget most if not all of what happened (you experience amnesia).

Watch the complete talk here

Matthew Walker is one of my scientific heroes. The man has literally it his mission to prove that midday naps are a vital to learning and that dreams aid in emotional processing. How cool is that?

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how in America (and much of the “modernized” world), we really de-value the importance of sleep in an effort to be more productive. In most cultures throughout history, there has been time set aside — usually right after lunch — for people to rest, digest, have a little siesta before getting back to work. Now, we’re seeing the American work-your-tail-off-9am-to-5pm model being embraced in developing countries all around the world. The underlying assumption is that skipping sleep and working more will make us more productive. But according to Walker’s research… that’s not necessarily the case.

I’ve always been taught that naps are for lazy people, something you only get to do if you’re feeling sick or have a lot of time on your hands. Sleep, however, appears to be a far more complex and integral phenomenon than we give it credit for. A thirty-minute cat nap can help consolidate memory, enhance cognitive skills, and support the integration of emotional experiences. As we learned yesterday, you’ll actually die from lack of sleep before you will starvation. Sometimes, you’re more productive with your head on a pillow than in front of a computer screen.

So maybe catching a few extra Zzzzzz after lunch isn’t such a bad thing after all, even if it does make you a little psychotic.

Photo Credit (CC): MediaSpin

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