‘In today’s rush, we all think too much – seek too much – want too much – and forget about the joy of just being” -Eckhart Tolle
A few weeks back I was lucky enough to attend a mindfulness session at work, half educational, half practical, and a well-needed reminder to bring this practice back into my routine. The first chunk was informative – what mindfulness is and what techniques we have available to us. Whilst brief, only touching the surface of this topic, it was immensely enlightening. I learnt we have 50-75k thoughts per day, 5% of which we are actually mindful of. Our subconscious thoughts are constantly there in the background, humming, ebbing and flowing, unknowingly and sometimes unwillingly, influencing our feelings and actions, which in turn influences our thoughts. And so it goes.
In the last ten minutes we were taken through a guided meditation practice where we observed our breath and thoughts as they floated by. It was simple, yet so relaxing. I left feeling lighter and more present. For such a short commitment of time, the effect was amazing. It always is.
It then got me thinking, why don’t I practice meditation more often? Which inevitably led to similar frequently-had questions, like why don’t I exercise more often, or get up earlier? All things I want to do, each I know may benefit my health and well being, yet the commitment is too much. Empty excuses, coupled with ‘better things to do,’ are my most frequent responses. But perhaps there is more to it. Perhaps I am thinking, seeking, wanting, and doing too much. What am I doing today, tomorrow, next year? How can I be better at this and improve at that? My mind is racing, and life, probably like yours, is going at an intense rate. Perhaps I’m putting unrealistic expectations on myself in these busy times.
The brief, albeit useful, mindfulness session helped me see there ought to be a better way. There are many ways to be mindful, not just one. So it’s time I start small and shift my focus. Move it away from constantly wanting and seeking – wanting to meditate more, exercise more, learn more, wake earlier – putting unrealistic demands and pressures on myself. Because thoughts that lead to inaction just aren’t thoughts worth having. Instead I need to shift my focus to bring more mindfulness to my every day. To be present. To do more of what I love. It’s realistic, doable and something that’s helped me in the past. Being mindful naturally happens when doing things I love, like cooking. But also reading and writing, eating, and talking to my loved ones. Surely doing more of those things is not an unrealistic expectation!
This granola making was definitely a mindful activity. There’s little to it, just throwing a few pantry items into a bowl and a little mixing. Sure I could’ve meditated instead, but then where’s the deliciousness in that!? What I love about granola making is that there are no hard and fast rules. Use whichever nuts or seeds you like or none at all. If you don’t like coconut, leave it out (but I’ll probably call you crazy if you don’t like coconut). Substitute, mix it up and simply enjoy the process of creating something delicious. To help you get started on your granola making journey I’ve shared my recipe below :)
Toasted Coconutty Granola
Makes 14 quarter-cup serves
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds and walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup sunflower and pepita seeds
1/4 cup buckwheat groats
1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp rice malt syrup
Zest or chopped rind of half an orange
Preheat oven to 160C and line a large tray with baking paper. Melt coconut oil and rice malt syrup in a medium size saucepan, remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and spread out on tray. Place in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until your desired toasty-ness, turning the granola every 5 minutes.