This month, it came to mind many times how important it is to monitor and maintain our mental health. How can that be done? The practice of meditation gives us an opportunity to observe ourselves and our thoughts. If our thoughts are habitually negative, repetitive, obsessive or generally stuck on a loop(in the past or future)-it requires change, and the change may require the assistance of a professional should it prove challenging to make the change on our own.
Earlier this month, I heard the song Electric Love by BORNS and right away I thought of Gary Glitter Rock and Roll. I made a playlist with songs that had a similar drum and guitar line for my cycle class. In checking the song credits, I learned that Rock and Roll was featured in the movie Joker (which I had plans to see as soon as I learned I had just missed the premiere in Italy) and there was backlash due to Glitter being in jail for pedophile crimes. Glitter’s crimes were news to me and there is the view that his music should not be played, as that supports a pedophile in earning royalties. I had already made and shared the playlist for my class so I decided to go ahead and use the opportunity to raise awareness of the issues to child abuse and mental health, as we need every one to pitch in to improve the human condition.
I saw Joker last week and felt it was a well done film that provided a view of mental illness. There is a scene where Joaquin Phoenix in his brilliant performance as Arthur Fleck/Joker tells his social worker ‘all I have are negative thoughts’. While it is not possible to have only positive thoughts, it is an important practice for us to watch the nature of our thoughts and thinking:
Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
The above quote is credited to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu and there are similar versions in the words of others. The practice is the same, we need to monitor our thoughts and thinking to steer in a healthy direction for our mental health.
A couple summers ago I took on the challenge of ‘you need a trainer’ from an awesome trainer J.S. The sessions were at a gym where they measured your body composition as a marker for progress. It was uncomfortable getting on a scale that ‘analyzed’ your fat content with an extremely lean trainer and I am a fit person myself! I was reminded that we are all so much more than a measure of percentages of muscle, fat, and bone. I posed the question to myself, if I were to assign percentages, what kind of a human do I want to be?
I want to be 72% Wonder Woman, 7% ridiculous 7 year old kid and the remaining 21% is always up for development and evolution. Having a concept of what you stand for as a human being is actually very important, as it will clarify your dreams/purpose, which will inspire you on how to lead your life on a daily basis. Once you know who you really are and what you want to become, then all the various challenges you face in life can be seen as various tests of character and strength.
Ps. 7 year olds are among the most enthusiastic humans I’ve seen, so great to keep our inner child alive and well
I have been buying granola bars the past year or so to throw into my bag as a quick snack between meals in my busy schedule. The best part of the granola bars is it comes in a wrapper and is fairly indestructible, otherwise it felt like they could be healthier and more satisfying.
I looked at many recipes and decided to try the one from Oh She Glows, as the recipes do work. I made some modifications, adding a little honey makes for a sweeter bar, so here is an easy recipe for nutritious homemade granola bars:
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3 very ripe bananas mashed
8 pitted dates chopped
Honey to taste if more sweetness is desired
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnut or pecan pieces
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 by 13 inch baking dish or pan with coconut oil.
In a large bowl, mash bananas and add dates, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Stir in oats until well combined. Fold in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins, nuts and chocolate chips. Pat mixture into baking dish. Use a spatula to smooth out to even thickness.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly brown. Let cool and cut into squares or bars. Store in an airtight container or freeze wrapped in desired airtight packaging. Enjoy on the go!
I love sweet treats and sugar. I may the only fitness and wellness professional to publicly share this feeling. There is a spectrum of healthy sweet treats and indulgences. I have been working with some gluten free banana bread recipes lately and decided to make these coconut flour bites in a silicone mini muffin mold. There is a much higher likelihood of success in gluten free baking if smaller pans are used. I have enjoyed these little treats that are low in sugar and high on taste as a bit of fuel on the go to keep me going between meals.
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
2-3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon or less honey or to taste
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together bananas, eggs, coconut oil and honey. Add coconut flour. Stir together with a wooden spoon just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Spoon batter into mini muffin mold. Bake approximately 20 min or until tops are slightly brown. Cool and enjoy. Keeps in an airtight container for a few days refrigerated.
Recently a client gave me a piece of her favourite banana bread. Her absolute favourite recipe after many years of baking. Truly outstanding. She was kind enough to share the recipe and it comes all the way from Australia! I went to try the recipe and had eaten enough wheat in recent times, so I tried making it gluten free. First it was dry, then I forgot xanthan gum and on the third attempt, replacing the walnuts with chocolate chips, it turned out amazing! Here is the recipe, be sure to use mini loaf pans, the smaller volume increases odds of success, as gluten free baking can be finicky. Also check for doneness sooner than you think, as this banana bread goes dry very quickly while baking.
1 3/4 cups gluten free flour blend (I used millet, chickpea, sorghum, rice, banana and teff flour, more types of flour is better)
1.5-2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3-4 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together dry ingredients. In another medium bowl, mash bananas then whisk together with sugar, eggs and melted butter. Fold dry ingredients into the banana mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into 3-4 greased mini loaf pans. Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking for doneness at 15 min. Tops will be cracked, if a fork comes out sticky, the loaves can sit in the oven that is off for a few extra minutes to finish cooking. Enjoy at room temperature and store in an airtight container.
The start of 2018 brought to mind the concept and practice of gratitude. I practiced something of a gratitude journal and after some time realized gratitude is more of an attitude, a frame of mind, a form of consciousness. With the continual practice of placing focus on a more positive frame of mind, I noticed being grateful helps build strength towards being inspired.
As the sun sets on 2018, I’m taking stock of all the amazing things that happened and all that I learned. The challenging experiences I take note and consider how I can improve and learn. Every challenge in life is a test of what you really stand for-
Tomorrow, the first day of the year, I’ll take extra time to meditate and reflect on my intentions for 2019. Happy new year!
I celebrated my birthday recently by choosing a Wayne Dyer book for myself. I chose Real Magic and I have been loving the book. Essentially the message is we can experience real magic in our lives by choosing to align with our invisible spiritual selves first and foremost. Another way to understand this is to develop our intuition and use it to guide us.
Intuition is visible and invisible information experienced in the body as sensations that guide us. The discernment and application of knowledge through all of our senses and mind in combination with any extra information we perceive/sense is the effective use of intuition. Our first impressions are quite useful as a marker of our intuition. Be it a person or life situation, using our first impression as guidance can be helpful.
I discussed crystal balls and tarot cards at my last yoga class. I believe these are tools that can be used as guidance for yourself. We cannot know the future, however, we can clarify what our intentions are, which will guide us in the right direction. Developing your intuition through trusting it and taking appropriate action guides your spiritual growth to help you find the best path for yourself.
Recently I was asked what my most important value(s) are. It was a great question and I had to say it was my word. I’ve written a couple pieces over the past 6 years that reference the habit of saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Or being mindful of your speech. What we say can be meaningless or hugely meaningful. It is a powerful choice we can make. The concept is referenced in the bible-‘in the beginning was the word’
In Buddhism, the concept is right speech. Right speech can be practiced by asking the questions of: is it true? is it necessary? is it kind? can it be heard?
Before we speak. This is a level of mindfulness that brings about compassionate communication that is bound to bring positive change to the world-
The past few weeks I have found myself giving the unsolicited advice of making sure to take time on a daily basis to take care of yourself by being around or doing something that inspires you. The literal meaning of the word inspire is to breathe in-when we take in ideas that come to us in sparks and act upon them, we can learn the path of our spirit. Day by day, step by step we live our true purpose. Being happy and fulfilled in life is a lot easier when we are fuelled by what really inspires us and live aligned with our spirit, as our true self.