Last week, I spent a half day teaching at the Xit’olacw Community School in Mount Currie. I was part of a ?supercourse? on stress reduction. The class, made up mostly of male students, ages 13-16 : your typical captive audience for making concoctions out of flax, chia seeds, agave syrup and fibrous vegetables, or for connecting the omega 3-filled ingredients to the nervous system?s ?rest and digest mode?. But they were captive! This might have had something to do with the fact that all that week they had already spent time meditating, getting hooked on yoga, and learning how you can actually stop stress at the level of the brain stem. Who among you knows how to do that?!?

We made smoothies of all varieties, healthy snacks with veggies, Brown Rice Crispy Squares with agave, almond butter, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and cocoa nibs, instead of marshmallows, corn syrup, peanut butter and chocolate chips.

We talked about the nervous system ? the 2 modes: the ?fight or flight,? (stress mode) and ?rest and digest? (relaxation mode). They connected their daily activities to the appropriate mode. Then we discussed which foods activated each part of the nervous system. Stimulants like sugar, caffeine, and simple carbohydrates, and eating ?on the run,? activated the ?fight or flight? mode. Good fats and proteins (salmon, nuts, seeds), fiber foods
(fruits, vegetables, whole grains), and really chewing food, helped in the ?rest or digest? mode. They got it all right away. And I didn?t have to repeat myself, or juggle mangos and frozen berries and Chia Mr. T dolls to get their attention. It was quick and easy, and not stressful. I guess this info can be common sense when you are an adolescent boy?

Maybe it has something to do with being part of a super cool school that invites naturopathic doctors to talk about what health is, and what we can do to cultivate it. Maybe it has something to do with spending the week meditating and connecting to some of the traditional ways of keeping balance: stillness, listening and connection. These guys were such fun to work with. They were interested in what I had to say, and they captivated me with their curiosity, humor, sharing and openness. They were sharp and quick with the connections and self-awareness that really impacted me. I don?t see this much. There was a something there that made me feel good-and it wasn?t the antioxidants from the chia seeds coursing through my veins, or the laughter from my almond butter filled belly. It was the good feeling that comes when you realize that you just got something unexpected ?and it is good news. If this group of youth is part of the next generation, there is reason for optimism?and that helps me rest and digest. Pass the almond butter!