Most of us love nothing better than getting together with our family and good friends for a convivial dinner party. I, for one, love cooking and enjoy someone else’s efforts even more! And I must be lucky in actually relishing the prospect of yet another family gathering each Christmas because we’re a family that enjoys each other’s company around the dinner table.

One of my most enjoyable memories in recent years was probably one of the unlikeliest dinner invitations to come my way, a seder meal with an orthodox Jewish rabbi and his family in Perth.

Recently arrived from Jerusalem, the couple radiated good humour as we sat down to a superb meal of several courses all cooked by the rabbi’s wife according to custom and served by her with complete unflappability as her four very young children helped out in the kitchen. It was a lovely evening and what really struck me was the obvious bond between the couple who’ve since added twins to their brood!

As a non Jew myself I felt a strong rapport with the rabbi’s wife who told me as they walked us back to our car that, for them, every Sabbath was a honeymoon all over again. It was a time when they and all orthodox Jews turned off the radio and TV, tuned out the cares of the world and all its discordant noise and made their home a sanctuary of peace and love. I know it is a strong tenet of the Jewish faith that one hold no grievances or speak in anger towards another on the Sabbath – a philosophy that moves me deeply.

This lovely memory was sparked for me this month in David Arenson’s piece “Awaken Yourself” where he touches on the sense of disconnect so many are feeling at present. He challenges us to create a Sabbath from technology by unplugging all our devices at least one day a week. I think it’s a brilliant idea and I know it’s exactly what I need to do. Since my son pulled me up short a month or two ago when he called me a “mobile phone addict”, I’ve become aware of just how much I tune into news, emails, texts, the works – and just how much of it is a drain of energy. At least I draw the line in plonking my phone on the restaurant table so I can tut tut when others indulge.

I know David is right – the only way to beat this addition I share with zillions of others is to create a technology-free zone at least once a week and I’m sure I’ll be happier for it. I’d urge you to try it for yourself.

On a related subject, Peter Dingle this month in “Why Do We Overeat?” looks at the complex reasons behind our epidemic of obesity and so much of it seems to come down to emotions. Busyness, stress, boredom, low self esteem and low moods all play a part in dipping into the biscuit barrel or that packet of chips – he includes a fascinating study on which types of movies and TV induce us to pile on the kilos. See if you can guess.

It accords with very recent research suggesting that a diet of fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts and low in processed meats could ward off depression. The study of 15000 people showed that even moderately sticking to a healthy eating pattern produced significant benefits meaning we can get away with the occasional indulgence and enjoy it!

It seems the overall message from our writers this month is to take good care of yourself in every way and look for the positives so that you, in turn, can pass some joy onto others. Lao Tzu sums it up beautifully: “Truly, the greatest gift you have is that of your own self transformation.”

Margaret Evans

Margaret Evans has a background in teaching, journalism and publishing. She is the editor of NOVA Holistic Journal.

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