Author Archives: CroneUno

About CroneUno

We are delicious, juicy old crones who have earned their stripes. We are friends over time and space who decided to give back all the delicious information that at the Universe has given us. Some the wisdom of the ages and some from our stupid foibles. The purpose of our site is to share time wizened stories, recipes (some healthy; some not so much), holistic care and supplements from nature's storehouse, and humor...always humor. We want you to laugh with us, share with us, and enjoy the journey with us, whatever it may bring. Namaste

Diva Tasting: Salad with Asian Dressing…

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Dinner Salad:

1 lg Bag spring greens

1 Pt Cherry Tomatoes

1/2 LB. Snow Peas

1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries

1 Small Purple Onion Diced

1 LG Mango Diced

Place all ingredients in a large salad bowl and toss with Asian Dressing just before serving.

ASIAN GINGER DRESSING

Ingredients:

  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced

  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Ginger Root

  • 3/4 Cup Olive Oil

  • 1/3 Cup Rice Vinegar

  • 1/2 Cup Soy Sauce

  • 3 Tablespoons Honey

  • 1/4 Cup Water

Directions:

  1. In a 1 pint glass jar or larger, combine the garlic, ginger, olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and water. Cover the jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake well. Remove lid, and heat jar in the microwave for 1 minute just to dissolve the honey. Let cool, and shake well before serving. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Diva Musing: Breakfast at the Watering Hole…..

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After I meditate and leave for the day, I usually eat a light breakfast before work… as I often don’t get to stop, even for a comfort break, all day.  Recently I’ve started going to the Taco Bell near here.  I sit and send my morning motivational texts to friends and family, while listening to joyful music from the 50-60’s… which won’t mean much to you younger lot.  However,  I smile and enjoy some of the best coffee ever and ease slowly into my day; thanking the Universe for making such a great way for me to start my mornings. 

How about you my Divakind? Are you good to yourself from dawn to dusk?  Do you take the time needed to “smell the roses”, hug the pups or kids, enjoy the simple settings around you no matter what? 

I encourage you to try it!  Your day just goes better and you get more out of it.  Find a good local near you and try it. If you are a stay at home Diva then get the morning…”must do’s” done… sit quietly in your meditation space and enjoy your cup of coffee there.  Drink in the silence of your own safe space.  Feel the flow of your calmly beating heart and enjoy what the Universe offers each new day.. We love you….   Namaste, The Queen Cronista

Diva Tasting: Orange Chicken and Southern Peach Cobbler….

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Orange Herb Roasted Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 1 (4 Pound) Whole Chicken, Rinsed And Patted Dry
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, Cut Into 1 Tablespoon Sized Pieces
  • 2 Navel Oranges, Halved
  • Salt And Pepper To Taste
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, Melted
  • 2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 2 Sprigs Fresh Sage
  • 2 Bunch Flat Leaf Parsley Chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour the chicken broth into a small roasting pan, and set aside.
  2. Loosen the skin from the breasts and thighs of the chicken. Stuff the butter pieces evenly underneath the skin of the chicken, and place into the roasting pan. Squeeze the orange halves over the chicken, and stuff the orange halves into the chicken cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper to taste, then rub in the minced garlic. Drizzle the melted butter all over the chicken, then half the herbs and stuff half in cavity and lay the rest of herb sprigs onto the breast and around the legs.
  3. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and baste the chicken with the pan juices. Continue cooking until the chicken is no longer pink, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F, 1 to 2 hours. Baste the chicken every 10 to 15 minutes after you uncover it. Once cooked, allow the chicken to rest out of the oven for 10 minutes before slicing.
  4. Serve with cauliflower mash potatoes and Swiss chard. With Southern Peach Cobbler for dessert Below…..

Southern Peach Cobbler….

Ingredients

  • 8 Fresh Peaches – Peeled, Pitted And Sliced Into Thin Wedges
  • 1/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 Teaspoons Cornstarch
  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Chilled And Cut Into Small Pieces
  • 1/4 Cup Boiling Water
  • Mix Together:
  • 3 Tablespoons White Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine peaches, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips, or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined.
  4. Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of topping over them. Sprinkle entire cobbler with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.

 

Diva Musing: I found a good calorie counter….

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I was looking for an online calorie counter and found this great website below. I looked up the calories and fat in an apple fritter and almost stroked from seeing it!!!! I have got to do better. If you are on a …” I’ve Got To Do Better”….kick use this as a good tool to look up a few things that may lead to the dead butt like I’ve got now…..Namaste, The Queen Cronista….

Yup, dead butt syndrome is a thing. Also known as gluteal amnesia, it happens when your gluteus medius — one of your three butt muscles — stops working properly.

 

Most of us spent a good part of our day sitting down.  It’s. Just. Not. Good. For. You.
In addition to increased risks in health problems from sitting too much, you can also get “dead butt” syndrome.
Yup.  It’s a thing.
Think you’re safe because you exercise?  You might not be.  Runners, for example, are susceptible to dead but syndrome.
This Week’s Challenge
Get up off of that chair and get your rear in gear! And?  Do at least one of the exercises in the “
Dead Butt Syndrome:  How to Wake Up Your Butt and Get it Moving Again.”
You got this!
Are you on Facebook?  Come join me!  Check out these daily Facebook motivators.
Eat better, move more and believe in yourself,
Suzanne-
ACE-certified Health Coach & Fitness Nutrition Specialist
FitWatch – Eat Better. Move More. Believe in Yourself.
https://www.fitwatch.com

Our mailing address is:  FitWatch Inc.1900 Seguin;  Brossard, Quebec J4X 1K8;   Canada    https://www.fitwatch.com

 

Diva Tasting: CHICKEN WITH BALSAMIC REDUCTION…

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CHICKEN WITH BALSAMIC REDUCTION

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard, Or More To Taste
  • 2 Clove Garlic, Or More To Taste, Minced
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper To Taste
  • 4 Large Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast Halves
  • 1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
  • 1 Lemon, Zested And Juiced

Directions

  1. Mix balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard, and garlic together in an oven-safe baking dish; season with salt and pepper. Lie the chicken breasts in the vinegar mixture.
  2. Marinate chicken in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Roast chicken in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Add tomatoes to the baking dish and continue cooking until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 10 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F.
  5. Sprinkle lemon zest and drizzle lemon juice over the chicken.
  6. Serve with Cauliflower Mash Potatoes and roasted asparagus.

Diva Tasting: Solstice Halibut and Summer Fruit….

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Keeping it fresh for the solstice…..

Grilled Halibut with Spinach and Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 (4 ounce) halibut filets
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 garlic clove minced, or to taste
  • 2 cups roughly chopped spinach, or to taste
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil, or to taste
  • 4 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes

Directions

  1. Preheat grill for medium-high heat.
  2. Place fish on a piece of aluminum foil and season with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Top fish with spinach, tomato, and onion; season again with salt and black pepper. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over cod and top with mozzarella cheese. Fold foil over cod creating a packet, crimping the edges together making a seal.
  3. Cook on the preheated grill until fish flakes easily with a fork, 7 to 10 minutes.
  4. Serve with rice pilaf and garlic bread.

Whipped Ricotta and Summer Fruit

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 8oz Cream Cheese softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pint fresh peaches, halved
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, halved
  • 3 plums, pitted and sliced into eighths
  • 1/2 cup raw organic honey
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 3 sprigs fresh mint, or more to taste

Directions

  1. Beat ricotta cheese, cream, cream cheese, and vanilla extract together in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Spread ricotta mixture onto a platter; top with fruit. Drizzle honey over the fruit and sprinkle black pepper over the top. Garnish with mint sprigs.

Diva Musing: Summer Solstice….

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I, myself, honor the miracle of creation and the changing of the seasons that is a part of this glorious Universe we live in. It is a spectacular event, if you think about it.  Today marks the summer solstice and I thought we’d wax ethereally down that road together…Namaste, The Queen Cronista….
sum·mer sol·stice
ˈsəmər ˈsälstəs,ˈsōlstəs/
noun:  the solstice that marks the onset of summer, at the time of the longest day, about June 21 in the northern hemisphere and December 22 in the southern hemisphere

The Spiritual Meaning of the Summer Solstice; By Grove Harris

The summer solstice is upon us: Things to know about the longest day of the year

Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, the shortest night, and a tipping point: from here on out the days get shorter and the nights get longer. The solstice, sometimes called midsummer because by now farmers have long done their planting, is technically the first day of summer. It both ushers in the warmest season, and reminds that the season is short, slipping away day by day. For those who revere nature, summer solstice may be celebrated by a bonfire, and staying up to greet the dawn. Celebration may be a small private event, or a large communal event such as the Pagan Spirit Gathering held on beautiful rural land in Missouri, with ritual, prayers, altars and sacred space.

Celebration may be among a broader spectrum of people, such as the 35,000 who gathered at Stonehenge last year. BBC’s coverage of that event included an interview “with those who appreciate the solstice the most: ‘We believe it is very important for people to move with the cycles of nature, and actually feel them. If you get up early in the morning and you watch that special sunrise, you’ve been a part of it. The rest of the year is shaped by that. And we think it’s a really healthy thing to do, and a very spiritual thing to do.’” And clearly the large crowd shared at least some of this sentiment and journeyed to one of the world’s most renowned sacred spots to observe the sunrise. For those for whom this is a religious practice, there are variations on the rituals or traditions. Some will burn a Yule wreath in a bonfire; some will dance, drum, sing, and pray. The variations are endless — some rituals may be prescribed and ceremonial, while others will be more spontaneous: all are witnessing the turning of the wheel of the year. People attune themselves to the rhythms of the natural world and invite the seasons of waxing and waning, of birth, growth, death and renewal to reverberate more consciously in their lives.

Rituals for the day of longest light date back to ancient times, and Stonehenge is one of the most famous sites. Dating back to between 3000-1500 BCE, its main axis is aligned to the solstice sunrise. Many cultures and ethnicities have celebrated, from ancient Roman celebrations of Vesta to feast days in many cultures. In contemporary Goddess spirituality, the American writer Starhawk offers this litany for ritual:

…This is the time of the rose, blossom and thorn, fragrance and blood. Now on this longest day, light triumphs, and yet begins the decline into the dark. The Sun King grown embraces the Queen of Summer in the love that is death because it is so complete that all dissolves into the single song of ecstasy that moves the worlds. So the Lord of Light dies to Himself, and sets sail across the dark seas of time, searching for the isle of light that is rebirth. We turn the Wheel and share his fate, for we have planted the seeds of our own changes and to grow we must accept even the passing of the sun. (The Spiral Dance, HarperCollins, 1999, p. 205)…

While Pagans hold religious ritual on the solstice, there are many public celebrations that also acknowledge the turning of the wheel of the year. Summer is widely seen as a good reason to celebrate! In Detroit, the River Days festival culminates with fireworks on the solstice, meeting fire with fire. Such celebrations build community and focus on the pleasures of the warm season, but without a religious intention.

Honoring the solstice can remind us just how precious each day and season is, because the truth of its passing away is also acknowledged. Gifts need to be appreciated, not taken for granted. Some will use their religious ritual to raise energy for healing, for re-aligning and redressing environmental wrongs, or for strengthening the sense of being part of nature, not set apart and individual, but interconnected in a larger whole, including the past, present and future. Such is the power of participating in the turning of the wheel of the year.

Diva Rambling: Gossip Cures…

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I truly am on a kick to be a better Cronista!  However this morning I woke up and wanted to kick something.  Then I hugged my puppy who had been up all night chewing up the house and I felt better.  Then the day started ;~)  I wanted to rant about all the disorganized, non-visionary, unsympathetic, slanderous cows around me….STOP!!! RESET!!! Now I am at work and needing the tips below…Love to all….Namaste, The Queen Cronista

6 Steps to Recover From a Gossip Addiction

Here are some tips by Sarah Wilkins for monitoring and controlling your tendency to talk negatively about others.

1. Pick a gossip buddy.

One spiritual teacher suggests that you confine your gossiping to one or two people, perhaps your best friend, spouse, or significant other. If you have a designated gossip buddy, it’s much easier to practice restraint with the other people in your life. Choose someone who can keep secrets and who will support you in your desire to be more conscious of what you say.

2. Catch yourself.

Learn to notice when you’re about to make a snarky remark, and stop yourself before you do. If one slips out, apologize.

3. Notice the aftertaste.

Become aware of what it feels like after you gossip. It will be different for everyone, but for me the aftertaste of gossip feels like anxiety (tight shoulders, tight stomach) and what I can only describe as a worried, slightly sinking feeling that comes from sensing I might have said something I’ll regret. Note where you feel the tension in your own body the next time you engage in a gossip fest.

4. Just say no.

Turn down invitations to pick others apart. Try changing the subject when a friend wants to have a bad-mouthing session. Ask them (tactfully) to talk about something else, and tell them that you’re trying to break yourself of the negative gossip habit. You’ll find that many people will actually thank you.

5. Don’t rush to judgment.

When someone confides a piece of gossipy information about someone else, question it. Check the source. Don’t believe something unless you have clear proof—and the fact that a whole lot of people are saying something does not constitute clear proof.

6. Try a one-day gossip fast.

Decide that for one whole day you won’t talk about other people. Then, notice when that’s especially difficult. Observe what feelings prompt you to share news about someone or repeat something you’ve heard. Does your desire to gossip come from a feeling of emptiness or boredom? Does it come from a desire for intimacy with the person you’re talking to? What happens inside you when you deny the urge? How do you feel when you’ve gone through a whole conversation without once saying, Have you heard?

Sally Kempton is an internationally recognized teacher of meditationand yogic philosophy and the author of Meditation for the Heart of It.

https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/6-ways-to-stop-yourself-from-gossiping-and-why-it-matters

Diva Tasting: Braised Chicken & Vegetables…

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Oven-Braised Chicken Thighs with Fennel and Olives

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 3 Pounds Skinless, Boneless Chicken Thighs
  • Salt And Ground Black Pepper To Taste
  • 1 Bulb Fennel, Cut Into 1/4-Inch Thick Slivers
  • 1 White Onion, Cut Into 1/4-Inch Thick Slivers
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Dried Chile De Arbol Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 (28 Ounce) Can Whole Peeled Tomatoes In Puree
  • 1/2 Cup Pitted And Halved Green Olives
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Fennel Greens (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and black pepper. Brown chicken in the hot oil, about 5 minutes per side. Meat will still be pink inside. Transfer chicken into a bowl, leaving drippings in skillet.
  3. Turn heat down to medium; cook fennel, onion, and fennel seeds in the hot oil, stirring occasionally, until onion and fennel begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Stir garlic, thyme, and chile de arbol pepper into fennel mixture. Cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 more minute. Stir white wine into fennel mixture, scraping up and dissolving any browned bits of food on the bottom of the skillet.
  4. Pour tomatoes with puree into skillet and bring to a boil. Break tomatoes into large chunks with a wooden spoon; adjust salt and pepper. Add chicken thighs, any accumulated drippings from chicken, and olives to the skillet and stir to combine.
  5. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven until the chicken thighs are no longer pink inside, about 45 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with fennel greens, flat-leaf parsley, and lemon zest.
  6. Serve with roasted Seasonal vegetables and biscuits.

Diva Rambling: Stop the Gossip…

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In my ongoing efforts to be a better Cronista, I read this article to remind myself that words do hurt! You may take a couple of days to digest this one for yourself.  Then I’ll publish the 6 tips to avoid the gossip addiction.  I am particularly thankful to Sally Kempton at: 
https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/6-ways-to-stop-yourself-from-gossiping-and-why-it-matters   for giving us all these wise words to ponder.  Namaste, The Queen Cronista

6 Steps to Stop Gossiping + Why It Matters 

Gossip can cause trouble in your inner life as well as your outer life. Here’s how to rein it in.

Mullah Nasruddin, the famous Middle Eastern trickster figure, once—so the story goes—took a pilgrimage with a priest and a yogi. On this spiritual journey, they were inspired to purify themselves through mutual confession. They decided to confess to each other their most embarrassing ethical lapse. “I had an affair with my assistant,” said the yogi. “I once embezzled 10,000 rupees from the church,” said the priest. Nasruddin was silent. Finally, the others said, “Come on, Mullah, it’s your turn!”

Nasruddin said, “I didn’t know how to tell you, holy brothers. But my worst sin is that I’m a compulsive gossip!” This fable cuts right to the swampy heart of human nature. Most of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, will admit that we’ve been on both sides of the gossip aisle. I certainly have. I’ve been the one who confided an embarrassing secret to a trusted friend, only to discover a month later that it had gone viral. I’ve also, to my shame, been the one who couldn’t resist sharing a juicy bit of information, even when it meant betraying a confidence.

Gossip is one of our most widely shared—and, often, most unconscious—addictions. People rarely consider themselves gossip addicts, even when they’re filling the empty spaces in conversation with tales about mutual acquaintances. Someone like Adrian, who’ll leave a message on your voice mailwith the entire story behind John’s recent firing—now, he’s a gossip. And so is Susan, who considers anything you say to be fair game for her blog. But is that kind of compulsive sharing the same as your natural desire to talk to your sister about whether your other sister’s boyfriend is right for her? Or the pleasure you take in hashing over a public figure’s marital problems?

Maybe not. Yet, if you were to spend a day noticing how you talk about other people, you might begin to recognize a slightly compulsive quality in your desire to share the news. Maybe you do it to be entertaining or to lighten the atmosphere. Maybe your impulse is purely social, a way of bonding with others. But anyone who’s tried to stop gossiping usually finds out that it isn’t an easy habit to break. And that should tell you something about why the great yogic and spiritual traditions are so down on it. Any real yogic journey, any journey to spiritual maturity, will at some point demand that you learn to observe your own tendency to gossip, and then to control it.

Of course, only a committed hermit can completely abstain from talking about other people. After all, if we didn’t gossip, what would we talk about? Public policy? Yogic principles? Well, yes, but all the time? The evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar maintains that the gossip instinct is basically hardwired in us, and that language evolved because early humans needed to talk about each other in order to survive as social groups. He also reports having conducted a study on workplace sociability in which he and his colleagues found that 65 percent of the conversation in the office was people talking about—you guessed it—themselves or someone else. His point: We can’t help gossiping. What makes gossip problematic is not that we do it, but how and why we do it. Some kinds of gossip help grease the wheels of human interaction and contribute to human delight. Other types of gossip are more like junk food for the mind. And then there’s the nasty gossip—the kind that creates rifts between people, wrecks reputations, and even breaks up communities.

So, how do we tell the difference between good gossip and harmful gossip? When is gossip helpful, or at least harmless? And how can we engage in the harmless kind without stepping over the line?

Good Gossip: Understand the Nuances of the Human Drama

Gossip has three important social functions. First, it facilitates the informal exchange of information. Dunbar points out that gossip is indispensable to the running of institutions. In a university, or a yoga studio, students informally rate the teachers. When you’re trying to find a teacher, or get to know a new person, you ask around and find out what different people say about him. Is George someone I should work with? What did so-and-so really think of the meeting?

Gossip is also, for better or worse, a form of social monitoring. It’s one way society keeps its members in line. If a person or institution behaves erratically or unethically, people will start talking about it. The evolutionary psychologists describe this as the social need to control “free riders”—that is, those who contribute less than they take. The idea is that the fear of word getting out may keep people from, say, abusing their family members or exploiting their employees.

But my favorite argument for the usefulness of gossip is that it gives us insight into other human beings and helps us understand the nuances of the human drama. God loves stories, says a Hasidic proverb, and so do the rest of us. When you talk about other people, you often do it partly from the love of a tale and partly in a genuine spirit of inquiry, a desire to unravel the mystery of another person. Why do you think he said that? What does her behavior teach me about what to do and what not to do? Is that just the way he talks to people, or does he have something against me?

Bad-Mouthing: How to Identify Good vs. Bad Gossip

But then, of course, you step over the line. The good story becomes just too irresistible, and you find yourself offering up a detail you know a friend would not want shared, or saying, “Yes, that’s what I love about Ned, but doesn’t this other thing about him drive you nuts?”

When you’re addicted to gossip, even harmless gossip can be a slippery slope. Have you ever hung up after a gossipy phone conversation feeling wasted, as though you’d lost energy and time? Or felt depressed after lunch with a friend, realizing that you spent your time on tidbits of idle news and speculation—but missed the opportunity to connect in a more intimate way? Have you ever spent an hour dissecting Jeff’s character and then felt guilty the next time you saw him? So-called idle gossip can easily tip over into snarky put-downs, or sarcasm, or a recitation of your grievances against the person you’re talking about.

One sure way to know you’re in the realm of bad or compulsive gossip is by its aftertaste. Good gossip leaves a friendly aftertaste. You feel closer to the person you’ve been talking about, more connected to the world around you. Good gossip feels pleasantly informative, like catching up on old friends. It doesn’t leave you feeling out of sorts, angry, or jealous.

I first began considering these questions several years ago, after a series of conversations with my friend S. She and I were taking a walk when she began to share her dissatisfaction with another friend, whom I’ll call Fran. Fran is someone I’ve always loved and respected. She’s generous, smart, and fun, and she goes out of her way to help others. Of course, like most of us, she has her foibles, but certainly nothing that diminishes her essential attractiveness and good nature.

S and I started out talking about how much we liked Fran. But then S mentioned she was having a hard time working with Fran, that she found Fran to be careless about details and selfish about sharing. I realized that S was using our conversation cathartically, trying to work through some of her anger at her friend. So I tried to take a more or less objective perspective, defending Fran while doing my best to “help” S work through her feelings. Only in hindsight did it occur to me to suggest that S discuss these things with Fran herself rather than bad-mouthing Fran to me. For the next few months, S rarely let a lunch or a walk go by without a comment about our mutual friend. After a while, I stopped defending Fran. In fact, for a while I stopped seeing so much of her. Instead of a friend I adored, Fran had become someone I didn’t quite respect. Not because I had had any negative experience of her, but because I had allowed myself to get pickled in someone else’s negative gossip. That was when I began to consider how deeply other people’s words can skew our opinions and even our feelings for a friend, teacher, or colleague.

See also Deepak Chopra’s 4-Step Mindful Practice to Enrich Your Life

Stop the Spread: Harmful Speech and How to Avoid It

Yoga circles are like other communities: perfect arenas for newsgathering. Like other communities, they offer endless opportunities for spreading rumors. A spicy secret will sometimes start a game of telephone, in which slight distortions mount up, and by the time the story has made the rounds, it often bears only the slightest relationship to the truth. So when someone tells you that X is mean to people, or is having private meltdowns at odds with her public image, or inflating his credentials, you never really know if it’s exaggerated or downright false. And even if the story is true, there’s the deeper and equally serious question of how much harm you would cause by spreading it.

In some situations you definitely have a responsibility to say what you know about another person. If Amanda is going out with a guy known for his Don Juan complex, she might appreciate your passing the information on to her, especially if you preface it by saying, “I heard” or “Someone told me that…” rather than claiming it as absolute truth. When you know that the person Loren is considering going to work for cheats or abuses employees, you should tell him. But many tales, rumors, opinions, and even facts don’t need to be passed on to others.

That’s the point made in the Buddhist Lojong precept “Don’t speak ill of others’ injured limbs.” In the Jewish tradition, there is a specific prohibition against spreading negative information that is true.

This is the core of the ethical issue: Most of us wouldn’t knowingly repeat false information about someone else. But we don’t have the same prohibition against repeating something that happens to be true—even if it could cause deep and unnecessary damage if it got around.

Harmful speech, as defined in Buddhism and other traditions, is anything you communicate that could needlessly and pointlessly hurt others. It’s a fairly broad category, since we don’t even have to use words to comment on someone’s missteps or character foibles. The eye roll you give behind Larry’s back. The sarcastic or condescending tone you use to damn with faint praise (“Jim is such a cool guy”—said in a tone that conveys that Jim is exactly the opposite!).

This kind of gossip is like a triple-bladed ax. When you speak harshly of George—even if what you say is more or less true—you will probably affect the way other people think of him. But you will also make it hard for other people to trust you. As a Spanish proverb goes: “He who gossips with you will also gossip about you.”

The third edge of negative gossip is what it does to your own mind. I no longer see S—partly because I’m afraid of what she might say about me, but also because I always came away from our encounters feeling unsettled.

Negative gossip leaves an especially nasty aftertaste, whether you speak it or hear it. That aftertaste is the inner karmic effect of gossip, and it’s a useful indication that your words or tone have done some damage to the delicate fabric of your own consciousness. On the subtle level, you cannot direct negativity toward someone else without having it hurt you. Even so-called idle gossip can leave a painful residue, especially if you’re sensitive to the nuances of your inner state. Try reading an entire issue of Us Weekly, and then notice the feeling state in your mind. Isn’t there a subtle agitation, a feeling of vague discontent, a disturbance in the force field of your own consciousness?

Kick the Habit: Make Your Conversations Count

Perhaps you suspect that you’re a little bit addicted to gossip. If you want to change a gossip habit, it’s a good idea to start by taking an honest look at what you get out of it and what motivation lies behind your impulse. Part of the thrill of gossip—any gossip—is simply the pleasure of being in on a secret. With negative gossip, there’s another hook: It’s comforting to feel that you’re not the only person who makes mistakes, suffers losses, fails. Somehow, knowing that Jennifer Aniston got dumped makes you feel a little better about your own painful breakup.

Talking about other people can also be a way to avoid looking at something difficult or painful in yourself. A woman on a family vacation found herself complaining about her sister-in-law’s casual parenting style. Only later did she realize that her sister-in-law’s way of handling the kids had brought up her own insecurities about parenting, and that she’d used gossip as a way of keeping her maternal insecurity at bay.

It’s not always an easy thing to admit, but behind most negative gossip, especially when it’s about friends, relatives, or colleagues, is some form of jealousy. The German word schadenfreude describes one of the more shadowy aspects of human nature—the tendency to take just the tiniest degree of pleasure in another person’s misfortune. Gossip is a way of getting that feeling. Maybe you have a moment of slight satisfaction in hearing that a college friend was left by his wife, or that a professional colleague was passed over for a promotion. Nearly always, this feeling comes up when the other person is a peer and, thus, a hook for your sibling issues or your projected negative feelings about yourself. In other words, when there’s jealousy.

Most human beings have some insecurity about the amount of abundance that’s available in the world. Most of us also tend to measure ourselves against our peers. Sometimes, we even feel that another person’s success takes something away from us. That’s when we might find ourselves resorting to gossip as a political or social weapon to neutralize rivals, especially if we feel that they take up space in the world that we’d like to have ourselves.

Perhaps the darkest reason behind gossiping is a desire for, to put it bluntly, getting even. A lover leaves you. A teacher dismisses you from class or criticizes you more sharply than usual. You have a fight with a friend. You’re hurt or angry, and you don’t feel that you can clear it up by talking to the person with whom you’re upset. When you share the story, you discharge some of the pain. Of course, talking to a friend about your heartbreak or confusion can be genuinely cathartic: One reason you need friends is to have someone who’ll listen when you’re in emotional turmoil!

But there is a line between cathartic sharing and vengeful gossip. You know you’ve crossed it when you find yourself sharing only your side of the story. You exaggerate a little bit. You paint the person’s behavior as more unfair or cruel than it actually was. You don’t reveal that you had been making sotto voce wisecracks in the teacher’s class, or that you had spent years dumping criticism onto the friend who no longer wants to see you, or that your “unfaithful” ex-boyfriend had made it clear when you began dating that he didn’t want to commit to being in an exclusive relationship.

Instead, you impute dishonest or unethical motives to the other person, bring in gossip you’ve heard from others, theorize about their possible pathologies. “She’s a clinical narcissist,” someone says about a friend who refused to become a lover. “He has horrible boundary problems,” a man says about his former teaching partner. We do this, consciously or not, with the intention of getting the person we’re talking with to share our anger and validate our own feelings.

This is seventh-grade behavior, of course, but that’s not to negate its seriousness. This is the kind of gossip that starts feuds, creates wedges in spiritual communities, and dissolves reputations. A man I know is still dealing with the fallout from the breakup of his marriage. His wife had not wanted to break up. When he insisted, she mobilized all her friends and circulated a letter on the Internet in which she accused him of infidelity, of abusing his kids, and of failing to credit sources in his work. At no point in the letter did she mention her own contributions to the failure of the marriage. The stories have been picked up and spread through blogs, tweets, and word of mouth. As a result, many of the man’s students and friends no longer trust him.

We all gossip. We all listen to gossip. But it is possible, if you’re willing to exercise awareness, to begin to discriminate about how and when you do it. Like wine or chocolate, which can be good for you in measured doses, gossip can be delightful—but only when you are honest with yourself about what you’re saying and what its effect might be.

Obviously, you can’t cut out all conversation about other people, and you don’t have to. Instead, you can make your conversations more conscious, more disciplined, more measured. You can contemplate exactly why you sometimes feel compelled to bad-mouth a friend, or to spread a rumor that might cause harm. You can look into the feeling of emptiness that often lurks behind the urge to fill spaces in a conversation with gossip. And you can consider whether one of the greatest fruits of our practice is the ability to remain silent, even when you’re dying to share a piece of juicy gossip or justify your dissatisfaction with a friend.

Gossip can cause trouble in your inner life as well as your outer life. Here’s how to rein it in.

Mullah Nasruddin, the famous Middle Eastern trickster figure, once—so the story goes—took a pilgrimage with a priest and a yogi. On this spiritual journey, they were inspired to purify themselves through mutual confession. They decided to confess to each other their most embarrassing ethical lapse. “I had an affair with my assistant,” said the yogi. “I once embezzled 10,000 rupees from the church,” said the priest. Nasruddin was silent. Finally, the others said, “Come on, Mullah, it’s your turn!”

Nasruddin said, “I didn’t know how to tell you, holy brothers. But my worst sin is that I’m a compulsive gossip!” This fable cuts right to the swampy heart of human nature. Most of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, will admit that we’ve been on both sides of the gossip aisle. I certainly have. I’ve been the one who confided an embarrassing secret to a trusted friend, only to discover a month later that it had gone viral. I’ve also, to my shame, been the one who couldn’t resist sharing a juicy bit of information, even when it meant betraying a confidence.

Gossip is one of our most widely shared—and, often, most unconscious—addictions. People rarely consider themselves gossip addicts, even when they’re filling the empty spaces in conversation with tales about mutual acquaintances. Someone like Adrian, who’ll leave a message on your voice mailwith the entire story behind John’s recent firing—now, he’s a gossip. And so is Susan, who considers anything you say to be fair game for her blog. But is that kind of compulsive sharing the same as your natural desire to talk to your sister about whether your other sister’s boyfriend is right for her? Or the pleasure you take in hashing over a public figure’s marital problems?

Maybe not. Yet, if you were to spend a day noticing how you talk about other people, you might begin to recognize a slightly compulsive quality in your desire to share the news. Maybe you do it to be entertaining or to lighten the atmosphere. Maybe your impulse is purely social, a way of bonding with others. But anyone who’s tried to stop gossiping usually finds out that it isn’t an easy habit to break. And that should tell you something about why the great yogic and spiritual traditions are so down on it. Any real yogic journey, any journey to spiritual maturity, will at some point demand that you learn to observe your own tendency to gossip, and then to control it.

Of course, only a committed hermit can completely abstain from talking about other people. After all, if we didn’t gossip, what would we talk about? Public policy? Yogic principles? Well, yes, but all the time? The evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar maintains that the gossip instinct is basically hardwired in us, and that language evolved because early humans needed to talk about each other in order to survive as social groups. He also reports having conducted a study on workplace sociability in which he and his colleagues found that 65 percent of the conversation in the office was people talking about—you guessed it—themselves or someone else. His point: We can’t help gossiping. What makes gossip problematic is not that we do it, but how and why we do it. Some kinds of gossip help grease the wheels of human interaction and contribute to human delight. Other types of gossip are more like junk food for the mind. And then there’s the nasty gossip—the kind that creates rifts between people, wrecks reputations, and even breaks up communities.

So, how do we tell the difference between good gossip and harmful gossip? When is gossip helpful, or at least harmless? And how can we engage in the harmless kind without stepping over the line?

Good Gossip: Understand the Nuances of the Human Drama

Gossip has three important social functions. First, it facilitates the informal exchange of information. Dunbar points out that gossip is indispensable to the running of institutions. In a university, or a yoga studio, students informally rate the teachers. When you’re trying to find a teacher, or get to know a new person, you ask around and find out what different people say about him. Is George someone I should work with? What did so-and-so really think of the meeting?

Gossip is also, for better or worse, a form of social monitoring. It’s one way society keeps its members in line. If a person or institution behaves erratically or unethically, people will start talking about it. The evolutionary psychologists describe this as the social need to control “free riders”—that is, those who contribute less than they take. The idea is that the fear of word getting out may keep people from, say, abusing their family members or exploiting their employees.

But my favorite argument for the usefulness of gossip is that it gives us insight into other human beings and helps us understand the nuances of the human drama. God loves stories, says a Hasidic proverb, and so do the rest of us. When you talk about other people, you often do it partly from the love of a tale and partly in a genuine spirit of inquiry, a desire to unravel the mystery of another person. Why do you think he said that? What does her behavior teach me about what to do and what not to do? Is that just the way he talks to people, or does he have something against me?

Bad-Mouthing: How to Identify Good vs. Bad Gossip

But then, of course, you step over the line. The good story becomes just too irresistible, and you find yourself offering up a detail you know a friend would not want shared, or saying, “Yes, that’s what I love about Ned, but doesn’t this other thing about him drive you nuts?”

When you’re addicted to gossip, even harmless gossip can be a slippery slope. Have you ever hung up after a gossipy phone conversation feeling wasted, as though you’d lost energy and time? Or felt depressed after lunch with a friend, realizing that you spent your time on tidbits of idle news and speculation—but missed the opportunity to connect in a more intimate way? Have you ever spent an hour dissecting Jeff’s character and then felt guilty the next time you saw him? So-called idle gossip can easily tip over into snarky put-downs, or sarcasm, or a recitation of your grievances against the person you’re talking about.

One sure way to know you’re in the realm of bad or compulsive gossip is by its aftertaste. Good gossip leaves a friendly aftertaste. You feel closer to the person you’ve been talking about, more connected to the world around you. Good gossip feels pleasantly informative, like catching up on old friends. It doesn’t leave you feeling out of sorts, angry, or jealous.

I first began considering these questions several years ago, after a series of conversations with my friend S. She and I were taking a walk when she began to share her dissatisfaction with another friend, whom I’ll call Fran. Fran is someone I’ve always loved and respected. She’s generous, smart, and fun, and she goes out of her way to help others. Of course, like most of us, she has her foibles, but certainly nothing that diminishes her essential attractiveness and good nature.

S and I started out talking about how much we liked Fran. But then S mentioned she was having a hard time working with Fran, that she found Fran to be careless about details and selfish about sharing. I realized that S was using our conversation cathartically, trying to work through some of her anger at her friend. So I tried to take a more or less objective perspective, defending Fran while doing my best to “help” S work through her feelings. Only in hindsight did it occur to me to suggest that S discuss these things with Fran herself rather than bad-mouthing Fran to me. For the next few months, S rarely let a lunch or a walk go by without a comment about our mutual friend. After a while, I stopped defending Fran. In fact, for a while I stopped seeing so much of her. Instead of a friend I adored, Fran had become someone I didn’t quite respect. Not because I had had any negative experience of her, but because I had allowed myself to get pickled in someone else’s negative gossip. That was when I began to consider how deeply other people’s words can skew our opinions and even our feelings for a friend, teacher, or colleague.

See also Deepak Chopra’s 4-Step Mindful Practice to Enrich Your Life

Stop the Spread: Harmful Speech and How to Avoid It

Yoga circles are like other communities: perfect arenas for newsgathering. Like other communities, they offer endless opportunities for spreading rumors. A spicy secret will sometimes start a game of telephone, in which slight distortions mount up, and by the time the story has made the rounds, it often bears only the slightest relationship to the truth. So when someone tells you that X is mean to people, or is having private meltdowns at odds with her public image, or inflating his credentials, you never really know if it’s exaggerated or downright false. And even if the story is true, there’s the deeper and equally serious question of how much harm you would cause by spreading it.

In some situations you definitely have a responsibility to say what you know about another person. If Amanda is going out with a guy known for his Don Juan complex, she might appreciate your passing the information on to her, especially if you preface it by saying, “I heard” or “Someone told me that…” rather than claiming it as absolute truth. When you know that the person Loren is considering going to work for cheats or abuses employees, you should tell him. But many tales, rumors, opinions, and even facts don’t need to be passed on to others.

That’s the point made in the Buddhist Lojong precept “Don’t speak ill of others’ injured limbs.” In the Jewish tradition, there is a specific prohibition against spreading negative information that is true.

This is the core of the ethical issue: Most of us wouldn’t knowingly repeat false information about someone else. But we don’t have the same prohibition against repeating something that happens to be true—even if it could cause deep and unnecessary damage if it got around.

Harmful speech, as defined in Buddhism and other traditions, is anything you communicate that could needlessly and pointlessly hurt others. It’s a fairly broad category, since we don’t even have to use words to comment on someone’s missteps or character foibles. The eye roll you give behind Larry’s back. The sarcastic or condescending tone you use to damn with faint praise (“Jim is such a cool guy”—said in a tone that conveys that Jim is exactly the opposite!).

This kind of gossip is like a triple-bladed ax. When you speak harshly of George—even if what you say is more or less true—you will probably affect the way other people think of him. But you will also make it hard for other people to trust you. As a Spanish proverb goes: “He who gossips with you will also gossip about you.”

The third edge of negative gossip is what it does to your own mind. I no longer see S—partly because I’m afraid of what she might say about me, but also because I always came away from our encounters feeling unsettled.

Negative gossip leaves an especially nasty aftertaste, whether you speak it or hear it. That aftertaste is the inner karmic effect of gossip, and it’s a useful indication that your words or tone have done some damage to the delicate fabric of your own consciousness. On the subtle level, you cannot direct negativity toward someone else without having it hurt you. Even so-called idle gossip can leave a painful residue, especially if you’re sensitive to the nuances of your inner state. Try reading an entire issue of Us Weekly, and then notice the feeling state in your mind. Isn’t there a subtle agitation, a feeling of vague discontent, a disturbance in the force field of your own consciousness?

Kick the Habit: Make Your Conversations Count

Perhaps you suspect that you’re a little bit addicted to gossip. If you want to change a gossip habit, it’s a good idea to start by taking an honest look at what you get out of it and what motivation lies behind your impulse. Part of the thrill of gossip—any gossip—is simply the pleasure of being in on a secret. With negative gossip, there’s another hook: It’s comforting to feel that you’re not the only person who makes mistakes, suffers losses, fails. Somehow, knowing that Jennifer Aniston got dumped makes you feel a little better about your own painful breakup.

Talking about other people can also be a way to avoid looking at something difficult or painful in yourself. A woman on a family vacation found herself complaining about her sister-in-law’s casual parenting style. Only later did she realize that her sister-in-law’s way of handling the kids had brought up her own insecurities about parenting, and that she’d used gossip as a way of keeping her maternal insecurity at bay.

It’s not always an easy thing to admit, but behind most negative gossip, especially when it’s about friends, relatives, or colleagues, is some form of jealousy. The German word schadenfreude describes one of the more shadowy aspects of human nature—the tendency to take just the tiniest degree of pleasure in another person’s misfortune. Gossip is a way of getting that feeling. Maybe you have a moment of slight satisfaction in hearing that a college friend was left by his wife, or that a professional colleague was passed over for a promotion. Nearly always, this feeling comes up when the other person is a peer and, thus, a hook for your sibling issues or your projected negative feelings about yourself. In other words, when there’s jealousy.

Most human beings have some insecurity about the amount of abundance that’s available in the world. Most of us also tend to measure ourselves against our peers. Sometimes, we even feel that another person’s success takes something away from us. That’s when we might find ourselves resorting to gossip as a political or social weapon to neutralize rivals, especially if we feel that they take up space in the world that we’d like to have ourselves.

Perhaps the darkest reason behind gossiping is a desire for, to put it bluntly, getting even. A lover leaves you. A teacher dismisses you from class or criticizes you more sharply than usual. You have a fight with a friend. You’re hurt or angry, and you don’t feel that you can clear it up by talking to the person with whom you’re upset. When you share the story, you discharge some of the pain. Of course, talking to a friend about your heartbreak or confusion can be genuinely cathartic: One reason you need friends is to have someone who’ll listen when you’re in emotional turmoil!

But there is a line between cathartic sharing and vengeful gossip. You know you’ve crossed it when you find yourself sharing only your side of the story. You exaggerate a little bit. You paint the person’s behavior as more unfair or cruel than it actually was. You don’t reveal that you had been making sotto voce wisecracks in the teacher’s class, or that you had spent years dumping criticism onto the friend who no longer wants to see you, or that your “unfaithful” ex-boyfriend had made it clear when you began dating that he didn’t want to commit to being in an exclusive relationship.

Instead, you impute dishonest or unethical motives to the other person, bring in gossip you’ve heard from others, theorize about their possible pathologies. “She’s a clinical narcissist,” someone says about a friend who refused to become a lover. “He has horrible boundary problems,” a man says about his former teaching partner. We do this, consciously or not, with the intention of getting the person we’re talking with to share our anger and validate our own feelings.

This is seventh-grade behavior, of course, but that’s not to negate its seriousness. This is the kind of gossip that starts feuds, creates wedges in spiritual communities, and dissolves reputations. A man I know is still dealing with the fallout from the breakup of his marriage. His wife had not wanted to break up. When he insisted, she mobilized all her friends and circulated a letter on the Internet in which she accused him of infidelity, of abusing his kids, and of failing to credit sources in his work. At no point in the letter did she mention her own contributions to the failure of the marriage. The stories have been picked up and spread through blogs, tweets, and word of mouth. As a result, many of the man’s students and friends no longer trust him.

We all gossip. We all listen to gossip. But it is possible, if you’re willing to exercise awareness, to begin to discriminate about how and when you do it. Like wine or chocolate, which can be good for you in measured doses, gossip can be delightful—but only when you are honest with yourself about what you’re saying and what its effect might be.

Obviously, you can’t cut out all conversation about other people, and you don’t have to. Instead, you can make your conversations more conscious, more disciplined, more measured. You can contemplate exactly why you sometimes feel compelled to bad-mouth a friend, or to spread a rumor that might cause harm. You can look into the feeling of emptiness that often lurks behind the urge to fill spaces in a conversation with gossip. And you can consider whether one of the greatest fruits of our practice is the ability to remain silent, even when you’re dying to share a piece of juicy gossip or justify your dissatisfaction with a friend.