“Slow-mo” moments

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Do you find yourself rushing through the day, the week, the weekends. Only to sit back in the evening asking where the day, the week or the month went and what you actually did?

We often just go and rush from one big thing to the next, trying to accomplish as much as we can during the day, overlooking the small things. Yet often it is the small that matters most!

My kids recently started to play around with the “slow-mo” movie on my phone.(*) While it is less flattering to see myself doing a cartwheel in slow motion (do I really look like that when both legs are in the air?!) it is a fun way to play around and to observe what really does happen around you at times!

Today we have a rainy day and I went out for a walk with my 8 year old daughter. Instead of bemoaning the weather we walked through the park.
We listened to and observed the different sounds the raindrops make.
We watched them dripping from the leaves and onto the ground.
We cuddled up under the umbrella, listening the different sound the drops make when we stand under a tree or in an open area.
We took time to observe the different shapes when the raindrops fall into the puddles.

And while it is no fun to get wet when you walk to a place, it doesn`t matter when you walk back home, does it? So, on the way home we tugged our umbrellas back in and let the rain fall onto our face, keeping the eyes wide open, observing how fast the rain drops down from the sky!

A slow motion video – a fun way to film things. But as well a good reminder to slow down now and then. To take time to really observe the life around you in “slow-mo”!

Have a lovely day,

AK

(*) due to my wordpress settings I can`t upload the video here but you can watch it on my At Ease facebook page if you like
https://www.facebook.com/ateaseandmore/

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Come and join my Bi-Weekly Mindfulness email

Time to start a new chapter to not let positive and well-doing-experiences simply pass by. Time to stop saying “life took over”. Life is not always easy and it is not about faking it. Being mindful is not about being happy all the time.  It is about allowing us to be in that moment. May it be good, happy, joyful, hard, exhausting, tough or sad.

Having attended a mindfulness training over 9 weeks was great.  And obviously having a teacher, and tasks and homework helped to stay focused. But as it happens so often, once the course was over “life happens”. And no matter how often we try, we lose track and put what does us good last, respectively even drop it.

This time I do not want that to happen to myself, and I want to help you to stay tuned, too!

Call it as you want – mindfulness, awareness, simply be, being in the moment, slowing down… Different wording but they all go the same direction and we all need it!

We are all busy, and I do not want to add an additional layer of stress with a daily email – a daily must-do. Instead my goal is to increase the sense of awareness, of mindfulness, with a bi-weekly email. I would love to see you becoming a part of this!

My email will be a little reminder to halt – stop. To become mindful and to focus on yourself, even if just for a short moment. It can be a poem, a quote, a text, an experience etc. The path is not clearly set in stone. But I want to create some “Food For Thought” to stay mindful in our day to day life. The emails will bring little teasers, glimpses, tasks to stay focused. Small things that we can easily incorporate into our day to day life.

Coming to an end of my intro and what my plan is, I will leave you with my first Mindfulness approach. I call it “A sip of Awareness”

Take a nice mug.  I bought this one especially for my “simply be” moment while we were on vacation in Sweden this summer.

While preparing your tea, coffee, cocoa, etc make sure to really be there! Be aware when you take and prepare the ingredients, when you boil the water or milk, when you pour it – when it all comes together.

Then do not just gulp down that first sip, take a moment to halt! Feel the warm mug in your hands, smell, embrace the moment of the first sip.

Feel, Taste and Smell – sip by sip until the mug is empty.

Be in that moment, let your thoughts fly and swirl around, acknowledge them but bring your awareness back to the cup – the one you are holding in your hands and the sips you take!

And only once the cup is finished take a deep breath let the craziness of life (slowly) take over.

I personally try to do this during the morning when everybody left the house. Or just before pick up time. Whenever I need a time out for myself or to create a transition point. It helps me to slow down, refocus, energise and breathe.

I hope you will enjoy your “sip of awareness” over the next two weeks!

If you want to receive the bi-weekly Mindfulness reminder directly into your inbox please kindly send me your email address to ateaseandmore@gmail.com.

Your contact will not be made public and be added to my personal email distribution list for this mentioned purpose only!

Finding balance

Balance – I am trying hard to not let it slip away in the hustle and bustle of day to day life. Not always easy especially when back in the big city life.

During the summer I found my balance at a lake in Sweden. Back here in Tokyo? I am still searching!

Where did you find your balance over the summer? Where do you find it in day to day life?

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I hope you have a lovely balanced day,

AK

The energising breath

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Often, and especially at Yoga, we talk about breathing patterns to calm us down, to help us to relax, to unwind. But we can use the breath to engerize, too. I tend to use it at times when I feel tired after a bad night sleep, struggling with jet lag or when I feel exhausted during a work out. It is kind of a quick-fix!

There are several “energising breaths” out there but here I will share my to “go-to” versions.

Attention:  Some breathing exercises may cause dizziness to some people, especially when new to it, or exhausted. If you start to feel dizzy – stop immediately and return to normal breathing!
Do not practise breathing exercises with a cold or when you encounter any other breathing discomfort!

Quick short breathing

  • Inhale normal (not actively) so that the muscles in the chest are relaxed, preferably through the nose
  • Exhale through the mouth with a quick, short exhalation, the upper chest will compress a bit
  • The inhalation will be longer than the exhalation (so an opposite to the relaxation breath!)
  • Depending on how I feel I repeat this quick breathing 10-20 times

I tend to use this breathing during exercise, when I need to get some energy back during a run and such.

Another one is the “Rapid Breath of Fire”. It is a good one to use when you sit comfortable, and need a “pick me up” while you work, study or simply have to go on with the day.

  • Sit comfortable, if you can try to sit tall
  • Relax the stomach muscles
  • Try to keep breathing in and out through the nose only, so keep the mouth closed
  • Inhale deeply through the nose
  • Exhale through the nose
  • Then begin to breathe faster, rapidly in and out
  • Focus on the navel area and pump that area in and out with each breath, pushing the belly button towards the spine with each quick exhalation
  • Repeat 5-15 times

The breath will be shallow to be quick.
Try to keep the in- and exhalation equally fast.

 

Wishing you a lovely day,

AK

 

 

Carrot cake ~ with cardamom ~

Carrots – not just for the rabbits!

While on holiday in Sweden my son and I tried several carrot cakes and most of the ones we tried in the Cafe`s had the special twist with cardamom!  It was a great treat to simply indulge, not too heavy, very fresh.

Three days back at home and we decided to give a new recipe a try and we found this one! It is delicious, light and just the right texture – and gets a lovely colour! Hope you will enjoy, too! Easy and quick at the same time!
I found this one on https://heavenlycupcake.se.
And if you manage to have some left over – it is still great the next day!

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Carrot Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3dl (*) sugar (I used a bit less and found it sweet enough)
  • 150gr butter
  • 5dl carrots finely grated
  • 3dl flour
  • 1 teasp vanilla sugar (I used 1 teasp vanilla extract)
  • 3 teasp baking powder
  • 2 teasp grounded cinnamon
  • 0.5 teasp cardamom grounded (I used a bit more for more intense flavour)
  • 0.5 teasp ginger grounded
  • 1 little pinch of salt

(*) 1dl – 100ml

 

Directions:

  • Melt the butter and let it cool down a bit
  • Mix eggs and sugar very well until white and a bit fluffy
  • Gently lift under the carrots and melted butter, best with a spatula.
  • In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients, flour, vanilla powder, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, baking powder and salt.
  • Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ones until just mixed, best with a spatula.
  • Spread onto a baking tray or baking form around 20x20cm

Bake at 150 deg C for about 1 hr on the lowest rack (check in between, e.g. with a wooden stick to come out dry

Remove the cake and let it cool down completely before adding the frosting.

 Frosting

  • 100gr butter
  • 200gr cream cheese
  • 1,5 dl cream (I did not add it but it will make it more “fluffy”)
  • 1 teasp vanilla sugar (I used vanilla extract)
  • 200gr icing sugar

I personally found the amount of frosting a bit too much and will reduce the ingredients by half the next time. But I assume this is personal preference.

  • Let the butter and cream cheese become room temperature
  • Mix only the butter until white and creamy
  • Add the cream cheese and continue mixing to a creamy consistency
  • Add the icing- and vanilla sugar (I used vanilla extract and added a bit more of grounded cardamom, too)
  • If you decide to add the cream, add it bit by bit and mix up to a fluffy frosting.
  • Spread it well into the cooled down cake.

 

Now, sit back with a coffee or tea, a nice book or friends and indulge!

Have a lovely day,

AK

Create a glimpse of mindfulness

Life can be stressful and hectic and we easily lose track of time and what does us good! Add to that the pressure of “you should” – exercise, meditate, be mindful, relax, sleep, read, educate further –  “at least every day for an x-amount” of time to succeed.

Don`t we all already have enough pressure and “to-do`s” in the day to day life? Why not simply embrace that we do something regularly but no matter for how long?

I often speak to others about relaxation, meditation, mindfulness or to simply be. But a lot are put off by the minimum time they “have to” dedicate every day to make it beneficial. I include myself here. I simply can`t dedicate 30-45 min daily. Already thinking that I “have to” makes me edgy – already working against the whole purpose of doing it. So in the past it ended for me in barely doing anything. Yet knowing that it does me good and I should do something. Leaving me frustrated. And so the dilemma begins. Can you resonate?

So instead of a time pressure I change my mindset and decided that: Doing something is better than nothing.

Until today I barely manage the 30-45 min recommendations but I benefit throughout the day from several “glimpses of mindfulness” as I call them. Just to simply become more aware in normal day-to-day situations and to take a moment to simply be, to notice small things like:

  • listening to the raindrops falling on the umbrella
  • watching the clouds go by and “name” their shapes
  • the smell and feeling of soap on my hands
  • be fully present when brushing my teeth
  • the way the water feels when having a shower
  • feeling my feet strong, firm and grounded on the floor
  • feeling the movement of my feet when I walk (and how it changes on different grounds, in different shoes)
  • simply gazing away into the nothing-ness
  • noticing the trees, the shape and colour of the leaves or the flowers when I walk
  • being really there while preparing a meal, while I cut the vegetables, stir the pot,
  • closing the eyes and really focusing on the sip of the coffee, tea, wine or water
  • experiencing the feeling, sensation and taste of the chocolate piece melting in my mouth
  • feeling the ice-cold drink and its condensation on the outside of the glass on a hot summers day
  • closing the eyes and feel the body sensation while going through the sun salutation sequence
  • or if I can do it I will spend 5, 10, 15 minutes to really meditate!
  • the list of small glimpses could go on…

It is not always easy, especially when one is out and about and busy. But I have a little rattle, a kind of bell in my bag and often when I walk I hear the little sound and it reminds me to slow down, to breathe, to be aware even if just for a short moment – for a little “glimpse”.

And it calms me down, no matter how hectic it is around me.  A moment of full awareness, giving me some great benefit without the time comittment, yet putting me at ease.

Of course a dedicated meditation or mindfulness practice is fantastic and super beneficial, there is no doubt about that. But striving for it during times when we may not be able to dedicate the recommended timeframe to it is wrong, too, I think.

To me, relaxation, meditation, mindfulness or how ever you may want to call it is not only about a certain time frame! It is not only about sitting upright, being still or lying down in a quite room. I won`t argue, that is often the ideal situation. But our situation is often not that ideal. And for me it is therefore so much more important to adapt and to become aware within my day to day life.

To be able to halt, stop, breathe, and to really be present in that moment, in the strangest situation and location! 

So stop looking for the perfect situation. Do not let the lack of a perfect scenario take away from the beneficial experience of becoming fully aware and “mindful” through your normal day. Rather learn to create your daily “glimpses of mindfulness”! No matter where or for how long!
Try it and you will hopefully see how even the smallest moments can put you at ease. 

Have a lovely day,

AK

Parmesan Crackers

My kids love crackers and when we noticed we had no more, what better way than making your own?!

All done in less than 20min. We may just stop buying them as the options for flavours seem endless and they are so quick and easily done!

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Below please find a recipe I found in a magazine sometime ago. While the dough itself is nice we tend to add a bit more salt, springle sea salt on top. And next time I will try to add chili! Also, playing around with the herbs will give various possibilities! Or try a different flour?!

But here the base recipe that works for us.

Parmesan Crackers

225gr plain flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried thyme

25gr parmesan cheese

125ml water

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

– preheat oven 230 deg C

– combine flour, salt, thyme and parmesan

– add water and olive oil and bring together into a dough. I find this easiest by hand.

– roll out 3mm or thinner if you like onto baking paper

– cut dough into squares, prick each square with a fork

– bake for 10min or until golden

Enjoy plain, with cheese, salami, ham, olives, salad, dips and whatever else may come to mind!

Have a lovely day

AK