Mindfulness

I am the most mindful person I know. And by that I mean that my mind is constantly full…yes mostly full of s$&*t but full all the same. I am that person that sits in a classroom while doing a million things. I sit & listen to the teacher & take notes…whilst surfing the net for food inspo on my laptop…whilst checking my work emails on my phone…whilst eating. I’m that talented.
 
I am the person who sleeps with earplugs every night to drown out any noise but the constant of my steady breath. I sleep with a notepad next to my bed because in the moments before I nod off I become someone else, I become a genius, I can write the essay that changes lives. I swear.
 
As a student completing a master of psychology I should know that mindfulness is an active state of open attention on the present (I.e. don’t let your mind wander from your current point of focus). But I’m guilty of being the person who can’t remember if she locked her car…I have even found my keys in the fridge at work (what the??!).
 
It is a lesson that may take me a lifetime to learn but mindfulness is not easy. There are probably only a few moments in my day when I am fully present & immersed in what I am doing. And as Buddha describes being mindful as one of the most important 7 factors of enlightenment I have better make a more conscious effort to make my mind less full. Mindfulness can also promote a calmness & control that many of us are lacking in our hectic & stressful work lives. Mindfulness is also used as a technique by psychologists to help alleviate anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, addictions & depression.
 
So how can I be more mindful?
-Make your mind present
-Pay attention to the task at hand
-If an interfering thought pops up, jot it down on a notepad & dismiss it
-Watch your breath (deep breathing in and out of the nose is very calming)
-Golden Rule: Always return your focus to the present.
Note- If you can even take 30 seconds to take a few big deep calming breaths it will make a huge difference.
 
For those of us that struggle to be mindful I have come up with some easy, healthy work snacks to keep you reaching for the chemical laden chocolate bar and chips.  These snacks have been devised to ensure you are getting a full range of nutrients to help keep your brain power up, keep you focused & energised even when that afternoon slump hits!

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Fruity Ideas:

Fresh cherries, grapes, apples or pears sprinkled with cinnamon (tastes delicious and helps stabilise blood sugar levels) or nut butter, oranges (stay in your work cupboard forever), bananas (my fav – make sure they are starting to spot as they are more alkaline when ripe), mandarins, strawberries, figs etc etc etc.

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Veggies:
Prepare some veggie sticks at the beginning of the week and dip into homemade or organic dips, tahini (sesame seed paste-full of calcium), healthy nut butters or smashed avocado. Carrot, red capsicum, cucumber and celery and my fav veggie sticks.

HEALTHY TREATS

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Brownie Balls
Ingredients:
– 1 C pitted medjool dates
-1 C walnuts
-1/2C almonds, roughly chopped
-pinch of salt
-1/2 C raw cacao powder
– desiccated or shredded coconut to coat balls

Method:
In a food processor or high speed blender (Vitamix or similar) grind walnuts to a powder.
Add a pinch of salt and cacao powder. Add the pitted dates and whizz away.
I now give you permission to use your hands and add in chopped almonds (and any goji berries or dried fruit/nuts your heart desires). Roll 1 tbs mixture into a ball and coat in coconut. These will stay in the fridge stored for a week or freeze for a month. Tip: I eat mine straight from the freezer.

Note: I also make Mint balls as a variation of these. Simply add a few drops (2-3) of peppermint essence and omit the salt. YUM! These are amazing for killing cravings.

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Homemade Hummus
Ingredients:
-1 x 400g can of organic chickpeas
-Juice of 1 lemon
-1 tablespoon of organic tahini paste
-1 clove of garlic
-50ml of olive oil (about 2 tbs)
-1/2 tsp of ground cumin

Method:
Whizz all ingredients in the blender.  Season with salt and pepper.  Enjoy with veggie sticks or sprouted bread!

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The Best Guacamole Ever!
Ingredients:
– 2 avocados
– jewels of 1 pomegranate
– juice of one fresh lime (or half a lemon)
– ¼ tsp pink salt (use good quality)
-1 large handful of fresh coriander

Method:
Mash avocado in a bowl with a fork, add lime juice, pomegranate jewels, salt and coriander.  Stir through and enjoy! (There are no real rules with this recipe so change to suit your taste).

Healthy Cherry Ripe Bars
Adapted from Aleven11.com

Ingredients:
– 10 cherries, pitted
-6 strawberries
-1/3C desiccated coconut
-3 tbs of coconut sugar (or agave/rice malt syrup)
– 6 tbs raw cacao powder
– ½ C melted coconut oil

Method:
 In a blender, pulse 1 tbs coconut sugar, with cherries, strawberries and desiccated coconut.
Press mixture into fun size cherry ripes squares and place in the freezer on some baking paper (on a container/plate/baking tray).
While mixture is freezing, melt down your coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat (do not let bubble), add cacao powder and 2 tbs coconut sugar.
Remove from heat.
Take cherry bars from the freezer.  Using a spoon dip the bars into the melted chocolate.
Freeze.  (I keep these in my freezer and take them to work and leave them in the fridge until snack time!)

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The Super Food Snack Attack
Ingredients:
– 1 handful of activated almonds, walnuts, brazil and pecans.
– 2 tbs goji berries, coconut flakes, pepitas, sunflower seeds, inca berries and mulberries.
– Chopped organic dried fruit (I like pear, apricot and mango). Commercial dried fruits are loaded with sugar!
– Raw chocolate.

Method:
– Place all of the ingredients in a jar (no BPA’s here), give it a good shake.
– Take to work and keep in the fridge to maintain freshness.

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Lettuce Wraps
Ingredients:
– Vegie sticks (about 4 of each stick you like)
– 2 tbs pomegranate jewels if you have them
– 4 slices of avocado
– a drizzle of tahini paste, lime/lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
– 4 beautifully clean cos lettuce or collard leafs.

Method:
In lettuce leaf place veggie sticks, avocado, a sprinkle of pomegranate jewels etc.
Drizzle with tahini, season if you wish.  Dig in!
Note: You can also add some slivered almonds or chopped nuts and seeds.

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