Since falling ill I've been learning – at times very slowly – how to be mindful.
Have you heard of mindfulness?
Basically it’s about being in the present moment. You're not thinking about the future, you're not thinking about the past, you're purely focusing on the here and now.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
But in today’s madhouse of a society I’m sure you will agree, it’s pretty darn hard to be in the present when you're constantly worrying about work, paying bills, exercising, running after kids, keeping up with social engagements, having meaningful relationships, paying off the mortgage, attending events and keeping up the appearance you have all the aforementioned goals ticked off.
Do you do any of this? I’m somewhat of a genius at keeping up appearances (maybe that’s why I find the British TV show so hilarious…although my keeping up appearances is a wee bit different). If you don’t find yourself doing these things you can stop reading now. You are perfect. For the rest of us less than perfect individuals it can be hard. And you don’t need to be classified with a mental illness to find life challenging to keep up with. But if you let this fast-paced crazy world get on top of you, mental health issues may be yours, they may be mild, but they may be yours to confront none-the-less.
For this reason I implore you to start a little mindfulness of your own. Start with five minutes a day. All you need to do is sit in your favourite chair (or any chair) with your favourite beverage in hand. First, think about how the chair feels. Is it hard or soft? Warm or cold? Can you rest back in the chair or do you need to remain firmly upright? Now bring your beverage to your nose, slowly smell, and tell yourself what it smells like. Be descriptive. If it’s coffee does it smell strong? Does it have nutty aromas? Does it make your taste buds dance? Take a sip of your beverage. Feel the liquid in your mouth, maybe even swish it around and be aware of the sensation it's making in your mouth. When you swallow feel it travel down your throat and into your stomach. Take note on if it’s a warm feeling or a cool feeling that's flowing through you.
Such a simple activity and yet did you find this one simple mouthful more enjoyable and pleasurable having taken the time to notice it?
Why don't we slow down and smell those roses we always mention as a cliche? It’s such a simple and free way to get so much more enjoyment out of life. Let me be a lesson to you if you think you're ‘too busy’. The Universe may just come and bite you on the backside as it did me.
So please STOP and take some time out for YOU because YOU’RE worth it (isn’t that an ad?).
Following is a great simple salad recipe to get you working on your mindfulness. Cooking for me is a great way to live in the moment.
My family and I enjoyed this salad with chicken on mother's day, but I think it would also go brilliant with a lovely piece of fish, don't you?
|Zucchini salad with seeds and a mint and lemon dressing|
Zucchini salad with seeds and a mint and lemon dressing
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller, February 2014 EditionServes 4
5 small green zucchini
2 tbsp mixed toasted sunflower, pine nuts and pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 cup firmly packed mint leaves
125 ml (1/2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
juice of 1 lemon and finely grated lemon
Slice zucchini into a bowl using a mandolin or a vegetable peeler, season with sea salt and stand until zucchini softens (about 2 mins). Drain well and pat dry with absorbent paper, then return to a dry bowl
For mint and lemon dressing, finely chop the garlic and mint. add to olive oil, lemon juice and lemon rind. Mix until combined. Season to taste. (Remember you had salt on the zucchini so watch how much salt you use. You can always add more to the combined salad). Pour over the zucchini and toss to coat.
Transfer zucchini to a platter, scatter with seeds and serve.