Sunshine and Anchor

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I used to think that mindfulness was meant to focus more on the happier moments in life, so it was enlightening to realise that that is not what mindfulness is really about.

Like the the rays of the sun does mindfulness shine and spread equally onto all areas of life, the positive, the neutral and the negative. It is not about judging or changing our feelings, emotions, sensations but to ‘simply notice’ them. To train the mind on an equal awareness on whatever we may feel exposed to in that moment; and to allow ourselves to feel that way!

Perhaps we can compare it like training muscles during sports
Mindfulness trains the “muscles of awareness, of the present” –
in a non judgemental way.

And for me a focus on the breathing can help especially during tougher moments. The breath can be seen as an anchor to support us to come back to the present moment. Similar like the boat anchor! The boat can float around, stand still in calm waters, can be pushed around in stormy weather yet the anchor takes the boat back to its place. We can train our breath to help us the same way, to embrace the good and happy moments and to still be able to feel anchored and save when we face stormy situations.

Stay at ease and aware

Have a lovely day

AK

Fish Fingers delight

The things you sometimes come across at the hairdresser – interesting cooking magazines (*). These salmon fish fingers quickly became one of our favourites.

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As usual, quick and easy – and healthy on top!

Salmon Fish Fingers
(for 2 servings)

2 tbsp ground flaxseed
2 tbsp fine porridge oats (I use the normal ones)
1/2 tsp garlic granules
1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs
2 large skinless salmon fillets
olive oil for coating
lemon wedges to serve

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 180deg C.
  • mix flaxseed, oats, garlic and herbs together (I mix it in a food processor as I use standard oats and they tend to be harder. Plus I get a softer coating). I also added Chia seeds to the mix.
  • cut the salmon into fingers, coats slightly with olive oil.
  • roll the fingers in the oat mixture until completely covered.
  • place them on a baking sheet and bake around 25 min or until coating is golden.
  • serve with lemon wedges, fries, salad, etc.

Have fun and indulge!

AK

(*) I am not sure about the magazine anymore, but the recipe was published from the Medicinal Chef: How to Cook Healthily by Dale Pinnock)

Thoughts and Bubbles

I already wrote a bit about Mindfulness on some previous blogs, and over the next few weeks I will go a bit deeper. Firstly, I do believe that we all can and should be more aware in our day to day life to get out of the ‘stress treadmill’ we often find ourselves in. Secondly, I started a Mindfulness Course and would love to share my main “take-aways” with you. Quick and easy food for thought that can be used by everybody.

So for today, let’s have a quick look into thoughts and what they mean for a mindfulness meditation.

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Would you agree that most of us tend to think that meditation often means to not have any thoughts at all, to have a stillness in our mind?! But that is not how our mind works, it is trained to think! So if you go into mindfulness meditation

the goal is not to be relaxed, thought-free but
to be fully aware of what is happening in that precise moment!

As per Jon Kabat-Zinn (*) mindfulness is

  • Paying attention
  • On Purpose
  • In the present moment
  • Non judgemental

That counts for our thoughts, emotions and body sensations. After all they are all linked, connected and influence one another! The good and the bad, the happy and the sad ones.

What we should avoid during meditation is to follow through on any thoughts, we should acknowledge them for what they are and then let them go. Think of thoughts like a soap bubble. See the bubble coming, acknowledge it and then pop it. And when a bubble floats back into the mind again acknowledge it and then pop it and so on.

Those “thought bubbles” will always come but by time and on certain days the stillness in between them may get longer. And this stillness, this awareness is what brings us really back to the present moment.

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Have a nice day and
Hopefully nice thoughts

AK

(*) Jon Kabat-Zinn is internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. Founder of MBSR ( mindfulness-based stress reduction).

More than “just” a rainy day…

Today we have one of those days – non stop rain. But there is a special beauty in nature when the raindrops fall, don`t you agree?

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So don’t just put it away as a rainy day instead

  • listen to the soothing sound of the raindrops falling
  • follow the raindrops as they make their path down heavy leaves and flowers
  • watch the circles the raindrops make in the puddles and let it calm your mind
  • observe the small “rivers” the rain creates along the streets and sidewalks
  • smell the clean fresh air
  • notice how the world around you seems to slow down a bit
  • enjoy the special light of candles when it is dark and grey outside

Don’t just put it of as a rainy day and
wait for the sun to shine;
a rainy day can be so much more! 

Have a lovely (rainy) day,

AK

 

 

 

Habit changes – not always easy! 

I am
an Obliger,
a Lark,
a Sprinter,
an Under-buyer,
an Opener and
a Novelty Lover,
Prevention Focused and
I strive better with Accountability
and when I take Big Steps.

I got a this rather interesting insight about myself from reading the book “Better than Before – Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives” by Gretchen Rubin.

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Habit changes – something some of you may relate to, too. May they be small or on a larger scale. Maybe we want to foster more of our good habits or like to get rid of some bad habits. Whatever way you want to go, there is no one-change-fit-all solution!

As with most things, we are all different and what works for one may not work for the other. Therefore it is important to have some self-knowledge about ourselves and what “tendencies we bring into the world” as there are “different solutions for different people”. If we are self aware and learn to see ourselves accurately we will be be able to find suitable ways to change habits. And that is were my above description about myself comes from.

With more than 400 pages the book is not short but it kept me entertained and interested. It made me laugh at some realisations about myself, I had some a-ha moments and got interesting insights on habits. I became to realise why some changes for me were easy while others did not stick at all.  And it will take time to break old habits but at the end it will be worth it. “The goal is to develop habits that allow us to have time for everything we value – work, fun, exercise, friends, errands, study – in a way that`s sustainable, forever.” Once we are aware about ourselves we can go deeper into the habit changes, find ways that work best for our type.

The tools of monitoring, foundation, scheduling, accountability are described. And as often, some work better for some others better for others. But what counts for us all is that by simply talking about something we wont achieve anything, “we must actually follow that habit.” And taking the first step is the most important one. Do you find yourself thinking, that now is a bad timing? Well, stop right there. Because more likely than not you will not find the perfect moment to start. Taking the first step is often hard. Stop waiting, stop making excuses, “don’t get it perfect, get it going.”

Ever found yourself putting things of to later and never ended up doing it, then you are in good company, too. “Something that can be done at any time often happens at no time, and waiting vaguely for the right time to start […] is very risky.” This, I had to admit to my physiotherapist this morning, too. I kept putting off my daily exercise to later and later until I was in bed and noticed that I had orgotten to do them yet again, several days this week!

Also, convenience, inconvenience and distractions play a huge role in any change. “The amount of effort, time or decision making required by an action has a huge influence on habit formation.”

Another important aspect to keep in mind is that “starting over is harder then continuing.” I think we all have found ourselves in that situation now and then. For me this is often related to exercise regimes. I know it yet I keep falling of the rail over and over, fully aware that getting started is so much harder! And have your ever given yourself some treats and rewards when you stuck to something, or achieved something? While it seems good to do so especially in the beginning there are some pitfalls right there, too. Having said that and I being aware of  it – I will still stick to some treats, as a cold beer after a good run on a warm sunny day never tasted better!

To ease some habit changes Rubin writes about “pairing” and I noticed that at times I do this already. Instead of listening to music while I run I started listening to my audio parts for my studies and to podcasts. A win-win, as I always find just listening to some audio/podcast by not doing anything takes too much of my already limited time away. I find this pairing works as well for all those dreading house chores, like ironing and folding those endless piles of washes!

And as with any goal setting as well a habit change needs to set a clarity – Rubin calls this a “clarity of action. The more specific I am about what action to take, the more likely I am to form a habit.” And if we are pushed by others or feel forced to change it will be harder to start or stick to a new habit. After all identity is a vital factor, too! Therefore it is important to be aware who we are, understand ourselves and what is important to us!

At the end of the day it all comes back again that
 “the only person we can change is ourselves.”

While I may not see myself in all aspects, I got a better understand of why some things and habits are easier for me than others and I am considering and already have implemented some of her ideas such as “Choice Time” and “Power Hour”. Curious and want to dig deeper into habits? Then go and get your copy of “Better than Before!”

Happy reading and happy habit fostering!

Have a lovely day

AK