Be Kind to Your Mind & Take a Rest
… preferably in Piemonte!
by Faustina Gilbey
At the end of autumn every year you can still follow Italy’s ancient and traditional animal migration – the transumanza – and this last weekend we went to welcome the herds back with a day of ‘thanksgiving’. Processions of cows, sheep, goats and donkeys were returning to their winter lowland pastures after a summer in the high mountain Malga.
The pace was slow as they reached the final lap home and some, exhausted and tired after their long walk, just had to lie down and rest – whether they’d won a prize or not!
But it’s about resting I want to talk about. Something I’ve learned over the years through cooking and working with recipes – is the importance of ‘resting’.
When learning how to cook an Italian risotto from my mother-in-law she told me to always let it sit for a few minutes before serving. After roasting meat you’re advised to let it ‘rest’ before eating and in fact most dishes – except ones like soufflés or stir-fries – taste better when they’re been allowed to sit for a few minutes. It ‘relaxes’ the muscles or cells of the meat or vegetables and gives all the flavours time to integrate.
As kids we always had a rest after lunch – complaining bitterly we went to our rooms to read….or if at school we lay on rugs and were read to. ‘Oh that’s when we were kids, it’s different now’, people will say….. ‘there’s no time, we’re too busy, we can’t stop’.
In the village where I live in Italy shops still close at 12.30 until 3.30pm to allow for a long lunch hour. OK it drives me mad from the shopping point of view but from a relaxation and digestive point of view it’s wonderful.
Why after a massage, treatment or therapy are we advised not to drive the car? And, when we do arrive home, why do we tend to collapse on to the sofa – and even fall asleep? It’s because the mind and body need to rest and relax in order to integrate or digest all the new information it has received.
The amount of information that is around now from the internet, computer, television, film etc is massive, so the amount of ‘stuff’ we are ingesting is equally massive. What’s happening to all this? If you think in terms of the office and business with all the correspondence and paperwork involved – it’s vitally important to have some ‘filing’ time for all documents and information otherwise chaos reigns.
The same with your brain, if we don’t give ourselves this filing or rest-time our minds get overloaded and stressed with random information whirling around in our heads without being integrated, used or discarded as necessary. We need time to ‘process’.
Did you know that nearly 90% of the brain’s activity involves working with gravity to keep us upright? That’s quite mind-blowing. So, if you can help your brain by lying down for a rest, thus becoming virtually gravity-free, then a large workload is lifted off the brain freeing it to file and sort away all that accumulated data.
Rest doesn’t necessarily mean sleep, it’s anything that relaxes your mind and body, but don’t watch television or read, it’ll only bring in more ‘noise’. Find a place – sofa, bed or floor – and lie down. Listen to soft music or just lie in silence…or lie down on a bench or the grass outside and enjoy nature wherever you are.
And if you do happen to be in Piemonte what a choice you have!…There are so many places to visit in Piemonte from valleys and mountains near Cuneo or Turin, vibrant autumn-clad vineyards and castles of the Langhe, to mirrored lakes of Maggiore or Orta, the vast plains of the Po valley…..and all set against a magnificent mountain backdrop.
It doesn’t have to be a long time, even 10-15 minutes of quality rest is good. But make sure it’s every day and makes sure it’s quality rest….switch all telephones off and just take that time for yourself and be kind to your poor overloaded brain and mind!
Follow this hiker’s example – on a sunny afternoon in Val Maira – get up from your chair, take off your shoes and lie down! I found this hiker after lunch lying on a bench gazing at the mountains – a man after my own heart (in a manner of speaking!). So, simply have some leisure time in Piemonte and there are so many beautiful places to do so.
About the Writer:
Faustina is English and now lives in Italy. Faustina moved to Italy to be with her partner, Fiorenzo, and they have a Feldenkrais, Floating and Food Therapy Centre: www.spaziof.org . She continues her love of food and research by exploring all the wonderful places and products here in Northern Italy; She is a member of Slow Food Italia and teaches seminars on healthy eating and juicing, as well as writing her food/health blog www.eatingcloudsinitaly.com