Mindful Hearts

This week I came across a few “feel good” stories about people being mindful of the mishaps and tragedies of other people. They were truly heart warming. I wonder how these events come about. Is it that someone just happens to be at the right place at the right time? Is it a sudden awakening of kindness? Is it accidental? Was there a divine plan in the works because someone had to learn one of life’s lessons?

I believe that we can develop a mindful heart. I think it happens when you are surrounded by others that are constantly demonstrating how humans work because humans have feelings. I think a mindful heart is a lifelong experience. You show up and just pay attention to the needs of others. We see this a lot during disasters, and moments of human calamity.

Growing up I watched my dad being mindful of the needs of others. I remember he would take me to neighborhoods that were run down and where deep poverty was present. He’d donate loaves of bread and other foods to soup kitchens. He never walked by someone who asked him for some change or not offer a smile. He never judged and never questioned. He told me once that it was important to watch people and look into their eyes because eyes always tell the truth about a person’s situation.

When my dad passed I remember that many people came to the funeral service to pay their respects. Many of them I had never seen before. But every one of them had a story to tell about how my father had been kind to them. The stories made me proud.

I believe my dad had a mindful heart. He cared about people. He hated to see anyone suffering. He was compassionate.

I think we all need to look around and be more attentive to the needs of others. These days there seems to be so much bickering about this or that and we lose sight of the things that truly matter and that we need to help fix. It could be as simple as writing to elected official on a given issue. It could be that you become a little more passionate about giving and making your community a better place.

Just think; our hearts all beat the same way. When we are born our hearts are beating and had been beating from the start and when we pass our hearts stop the same way. Listen to your heart beat while you can and know that it may connect to someone else who may need a friend or a helping hand. February commemorates love and  friendship. I think this is a great time to start being a little more heart mindful.

How Mindfulness Can Lower Your Stress and Anxiety in 2017 — Psychology Benefits Society – This a great post I want to share.

It’s a new year and we know that 2016 was a stressful year for many of us. Thinking of a way to manage your stress and anxiety in the year ahead? Practicing mindfulness may be the answer.

via How Mindfulness Can Lower Your Stress and Anxiety in 2017 — Psychology Benefits Society

Getting Into The Rhythm of Mindfulness

Every exercise to become thinner, healthier or simply more at ease takes time and lots of patience. There is a certain rhythm and pace that you will need to develop as you become more mindful.

I developed a short-term plan for myself at the beginning of my journey. I think of myself as a spiritual person. I pray. I meditate. I like to read to become inspired.

The first thing I did was to go to the book store to get a few books on the concept of mindfulness. I found several books I liked and purchased them. (I will include a list later) I prepared index cards with quotes and ideas that seemed to fit my needs.  Then I started a journal. I outlined my journal to cover a period of 30 days or a month. This is my way of making a commitment to the goal I want to carry out.

I jotted down three questions that I would be obligated to respond to every day. These are my three questions:

1. How were you mindful today?

2. What did you learn?

3. How do you think you benefited from the experience?

I tend to be a worry wart. I worry about my kids and grand kids. I worry about things I see happening around the world. My goal to become more mindful was to learn to become more relaxed and “not sweat the small stuff” so much. I kept reminding myself that in general I was pretty lucky. I am grateful for my life and every day is a gift.

I wanted to also develop my creativity and become more mindful of my poetry and writing. As an educator for more than half of my life, I knew that one thing I wanted to do was to help other people in someway. I missed teaching. I felt I was loosing my purpose.

So after keeping a journal for thirty days I realized that I had been on the right tract with my goals and my purpose to becoming more mindful. What I needed to stop paying so much attention to the news. I had become a news junkie after I retired. The truth is that bad news is what gets people’s attention. I try to worry less and pay attention to living and raising my vibe every day.

I started designing the life I truly want to live. I know I still have a lot of things I need to do on my bucket list of sorts. I discovered I have passions for many things and that I need to figure out ways to tap into the resources that will help me become more engaged.

 

 

Mindfulness – A Habit of The Mind

Becoming a mindful person is a lot more than just becoming more aware. It is a habit of the mind. We all develop habits; some are good and some not so good. But when you set out to develop mindfulness, it is what you do and the way you do it. One has to be open to the idea that not knowing opens doors to experiences that are life changing. Therefore, we must learn to become at ease with moments that present uncertainty.

In the past year, I have had a few challenges. As one grows older it becomes evident that many things will change. For example, it is pivotal to stay healthy. We will need a better health plan that perhaps covers non-traditional coverage such as gym memberships or alternative medicine. Yet so many of us older citizens are at risk of loosing benefits. The uncertainty of whether or not we will be able to afford health care in the future is a great concern for many people.

Becoming more mindful under these and other life’s pressures can be difficult. Confidence in how you deal with a challenge is very important. The first action is to release any fears or stress factors associated with the challenge. The next action is to make sure that you have a support group or team that will allow you to focus on your goals. Write down your purpose for becoming more mindful. Get rid of any distractions. Stay focused and never give up. Learn meditation techniques. A continuous action is accept that sometimes a plan can go wrong.  Learn to accept that sometimes we need change first.

Mindfulness can become a habit of the mind once we learn how to structure the routines of our lives and live in the moment.

 

Clarity and Mindfulness

Mindfulness requires clarity. We all need clarity in order to focus. These days I am trying to stay as  positive as I can. Too many negative news interferes with the streaming of positive thoughts. This may be a result of conflicting reports or confusion about what it true or distorted.

When you want to become more mindful then clarity of thought must be present. Clarity is the best path to a mindful existence.

One way to begin on a clear path is to drop some of the heavy luggage we fill with social media posts, text messages, and other forms of communication. It is a way to detox.

Visualization is a great way to gain clarity. I try to visualize myself swimming down a stream or small fall of clear or crystal like water. Water cleanses the body inside and out. I sit in front of a large pitcher of water and try to think about or focus on the blessings present in my life. I take relaxing breaths. I may even listen to the sounds of a waterfall or the ocean waves and imagine myself there in their midst.  I then focus on one or two things that bring me joy. For example, I may focus on my grand-daughter contagious smile. That is a sure path to make my day and put me in a good mood. Sometimes I may focus on a clear and straight path to a goal for the day or in the long-term. I try to estimate the steps I will need to take to reach a given goal. But do not hesitate to change the number of steps or to restate the goal you set.

Another strategy to achieve clarity and ultimately become more mindful would be to write the things or obstacles you know might get in the way of achieving true clarity and then cross them out or erase each one. As you erase each obstacle you might want to say each one out loud or simply say go away. This may sound a little silly but it works. I also read the list of obstacles and shake my head “no”.

Clearing you thoughts of the negative things you hear and see every day is good practice to develop mindfulness and to be happier. The idea is to know that it is a process of mindsets.

 

A Mindful Coffee Break

I think that most people would agree that there is something wonderful about the aroma of fresh coffee. This morning I decided I would pay more attention to my morning ritual of preparing the first cup of morning Joe or Java. I love language so I also looked up synonyms for coffee. Most of them are slang; I never knew that coffee could be “brain juice”. C8H10N4O2 is actually the representation of the coffee molecule. I delved a little more into the secret life of the coffee bean.

I learned so much about the fabulous “energy bean” and the information inspired me to be even more mindful of the process I go through every morning. I went to a local department store and counted at least 15 different kinds and types of coffee makers. It is truly mind-boggling. I remember when my father brought home a coffee pot for me to give my mom one Mother’s Day. It was blue enamel ware and my mother loved it. I actually bought one similar to that one a few years back at an antique shop. It brought back so many memories. But before that my mother would simply boil water, add a few tablespoons of ground Espresso coffee and use a cloth colander as a filter as she poured her dark morning juice over frothed whole milk. I have not tasted coffee like hers ever. Everyone loved her coffee. So I have been very mindful of trying to recreate her cup of early morning brew.

I ground the beans first and the aroma wakes me up a little. I froth the milk. Today I used a French press but I have two electric percolators, three different sized French presses, one Italian Espresso coffee pot and yes a white cone-shaped cloth colander like the one my mom used. It is brand new because I do not want it to get stained and because I know that at some point I will not be able to find another one like it.

I want to get a manual hand grinder. I use an electric one and it is loud. The milk frother is also a little loud but it is worth it because it does such a great job. Both the milk and the coffee have to be almost as hot. I pour the coffee over the frothed milk, add coconut palm sugar, and sprinkle cinnamon.

I try to sip slowly and I look out the bay window in my kitchen as I watch the birds frolic from tree limb to tree limb. The sun shines through that side of the house in the morning and I always find the shadow of something or other.

I watch as my husband dips his toast or crackers in his cup. He always exclaims that the coffee is perfect. I can almost hear my dad’s voice saying the same thing. Its was a very mindful morning coffee time.

 

Here are some links that might interest those of you who love coffee.

Coffee Pots and Makers

https://goo.gl/images/vgCs4W

The Origin of Coffee

https://www.africaresource.com/house/news/our-announcements/21-the-history-of-coffee

The Long History of the Espresso Machine

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-long-history-of-the-espresso-machine-126012814/

Happy Coffee Time!!!!

 

 

Eating Mindfully To Stay Healthy

I really do not believe in making resolutions for the New Year but my decision to change some eating habits coincided with the beginning of January 2018. I figured since I am developing a blog on mindfulness it would be good to include eating mindfully as one of the components of the blog.

I recently suffered from food poisoning after dining at a local restaurant. No one else became ill so I am almost positive that it was the food I ate that day.  I have been recuperating ever since Thanksgiving so this is why I have not posted much lately. But I am back and feeling a lot better and energetic.

I’ve been keeping a journal of what I eat and try to plan my meals a few days in advance. My daughter gave me the idea. Planning meals and shopping for the ingredients should all be done in a meaningful and mindful way. I find myself paying more attention to food labels and looking for expiration dates. I write down my own recipes now, something I never thought to do before. I experiment with new recipes more than I used to before and reflect on the outcomes. I write about how the meal made me feel and if my family enjoyed it.

It is said that when we take our time eating and focus on how the food will fulfill its task of keeping our bodies healthy and strong the food id better digested.

I have always loved to cook. I learned at a very early age. I was a latch key kid and my mother taught me to make rice and other side dishes so that when she got home dinner would be almost half way done. I always watched her carefully. She too had a kind of love affair with food. I learned that food makes everybody happy in one way or another. She taught me that the main and most important ingredient was love. Food is the best path to the heart. We tend to remember and reminisce about the aroma of grandma’s cookies or in my case mom’s soups. The aroma was comforting.

For the holidays I decided to try my luck at making fruit cake. I know you either love it or hate it. I just happen to know a few people who love it. I looked for different recipes and looked at YouTube videos to make sure I followed procedures and directions. I finally decided on this one recipe. I must say I am not one of the people who love fruitcake but the one I made was simply sumptuous. The true taste test was by a dear friend and a relative that let’s just say they have had their share of fruitcake. Well, I received five stars. I felt so accomplished and so proud.

During the confection of this cake I was mindful and very careful because I truly wanted it to be the best. I remember gathering all the fruit in a large bowl and slowly pouring orange juice over the mixture. The aroma was amazing. I purposely did not add any brandy or other alcoholic drink. I used lemon rind and vanilla.

Every day I try to focus on one part of the recipe and try to use as many of the five senses as I can. Since cooking has now become a mindful adventure I cannot tell you how much more content I am after I make a meal. My husband is also a very happy camper.

5 Steps to Follow:

  1. Free your mind. Concentrate on the aromas or the shapes of foods that you put together.
  2. Plan your meal ahead and make sure you have all the ingredients.
  3. Be willing to improvise and be creative
  4. When you taste something, think about where it came from. For example, when you are making a pineapple upside down cake, visualize the fields and how the fruit was picked.
  5. Write down people’s feedback and write down your critique. Take photos of the finished product and keep them in your diary.