We do it all the time. Breath that is. Sounds easy enough, right? Here is a simple exercise to help you focus on being more mindful.
- Sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nostrils and hold up to 5 seconds then exhale slowly through your mouth.
- Tune into your body and try to relax any tense areas. Keep practicing your breathing.
- Feel your chest rising and falling, the air passing through your body.
- Notice your mind if it wanders. It is normal to be distracted for those stray thoughts, but when you notice them, gently return your focus back to your breathing
- Breathe mindfully for a few minutes and gently return your focus back to your whole body, relaxing even deeper. When you are ready, open your eyes and take a moment to appreciate yourself for the quiet time.
To practice mindfulness you have to work on re-framing your thoughts. For example, when you are trying to work on meditation or breathing techniques, you may find that your mind wanders. So instead of thinking ” Whenever I mediate my mind wanders” think, “It’s OK that my mind wanders. I will just acknowledge those stray thoughts and bring my mind back to now.”
You can’t ignore the thoughts, but instead, revise them. Usually we find that when we are stressed or have anxiety, our bodies reflect that negativity. So revising will allow not only your mind to relax, but also your body. Think about what is going well right now and focus on the good. Tomorrow we will walk through one of many ways to add mindful breathing. Through mindful breathing and re-framing your thoughts, you will have a great start to adding mindfulness into your daily routine.
3 Italian eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 medium red onion, diced finely
2 twigs of thyme
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 tomatoes, cored and diced
1 bay leaf
1 cup cooked basmati brown rice
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
1 tbsp chopped basil
¼ cup chopped walnut kernels
¾ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
3 tbsp fine breadcrumbs
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper brushed with olive oil; set aside.
Score the cut sides of the eggplants in a crosshatch pattern. Place the eggplants, cut sides down, on the sheet. Bake them for 10 minutes or until slightly tender and browned. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Scoop the flesh of the eggplants out carefully, leaving a ½-inch shell. Dice the flesh; set aside.
In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. When warm, add the onion and thyme, and cook for 2 minutes, without browning. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for another minute or two. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and the sauce is slightly reduced. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a bowl. Discard the thyme and bay leaf, and stir in the rice, herbs, walnuts, and Parmesan cheese. Stuff the eggplants with this mixture. Top with the breadcrumbs and feta cheese and place on the baking sheet again. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve with a side mixed salad.
This recipe also appeared in the October 2014 issue of Mindful magazine.
Recipes and photograph by Béatrice Peltre
What is mindfulness? The easiest way to describe it, is that it is being aware in the here and now. It is awareness with no judgement. No good or bad. It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. Mindfulness helps you to be more aware of your choices and progress towards your goals.
While mindfulness is instinctive, it can be accomplished while seated, walking, standing, lying down and short breaks we take in our daily activities. Combined with meditation, mindfulness can help you to manage stress, anxiety, sadness and more. Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash