Mindfulness meditation: the key to inner peace, healing and equanimity

The past few years of my life have been rather difficult… to say the least. But if there has been one thing that has helped me cope (apart from the support from others), that would be mindfulness and mindfulness meditation.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness involves being conscious and paying attention to what is happening within the body and mind, in the present moment without judgement or reactivity. Being mindful means being aware of sensory impressions, thoughts, imagery emotions, urges and impulses and accepting these as natural processors of the mind. We become the observer, without identifying with the mind. It is like watching a stream of consciousness, without swimming in it and becoming involved and effected.

Mindfulness shares a number of core principles with the Eastern meditation technique Vipassana including equanimity and impermanence. These two notions or responses are really important to develop and understand.

Equanimity is a neutral response to our daily experiences. It is a state in which we are aware, balanced, calm and composed and neither feel disgust for unpleasant experiences and nor an insatiable craving for pleasant ones. The development of equanimity or an equanimous mind is important in living mindfully and being able to act less reactive and judgemental.

Impermanence is the notion and understanding of the changing and impermanent nature of all things including our own mental and emotional experiences. Realising and understanding impermanence leads to a less rigid view of life and oneself. This idea comes from one of the three marks of existence of Buddhism called Annica.

Quite often in life you do not have complete control over what happens and not all life experiences are going to be pleasant or go your ideal way (I am sorry to say), and this can evoke all kind of negative emotions. What we can control however is how we respond to these experiences, often this will be with anger, frustration, negative thoughts and emotions or we can learn to respond with more equanimity, calmness, optimism and positivity. This is obviously easier said then done, but surprisingly after a lot of training using a mindfulness meditation technique results have been quite significant for me personally. It does not mean you will never experience feelings of anger, negativity and frustration but you will not get caught up in these emotions and physically/emotionally react to them. You will be fully aware of these emotions, mindful, non-judgemental and non-reactive.

So how do you put mindfulness into practise?

You can simply make a conscious decision to become more aware, observant and present in daily life. Although this is a great start, practising mindfulness meditation is much more effective at training the brain to become more mindful. The daily training you do will eventually flow into everyday living. It will naturally become a part of how you live your life.

You can simply begin practising mindfulness meditation from the instructions found on the internet or by finding a mindfulness meditation group or practitioner. Or if you are really serious about training in mindfulness you can do as I did and do quite intensive training with a practitioner such a psychologist who specialises in mindfulness meditation training. Although I wasn’t very keen on seeing a psychologist, it was well worth the effort to have the support of someone through the intense 4 month training 40 minutes twice a day.

Another important part of understanding the notion of living in the present moment and detaching myself (as much as possible) from the ego (the mind) was reading the bookA New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Although living mindfully has not necessarily made a difference to the physical symptoms of my ME/CFS is has done absolute wonders to how I deal with it on a daily basis. No more crying, chucking tantrums and thinking dark, negative, destructive thoughts (which there is no doubt effect the body on a physical level.) Not only this but it has dramatically changed how I react to criticism, to my own thought processors and to daily life in general.

 

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Are you hungry for change?

The creators of the educational and eye opening documentary Food Matters James Colquhoun and Laurentine ten Bosch are about to release their new film Hungry For Change. This film features some of the worlds leading health authors and medical experts providing information on how to take control of your own health and heal yourself! This premiere is FREE so I thought it was well worth mentioning this on here. I personally think it will be a must see for all! Food Matters has done a superb job at getting the message out there of the importance of real nutrition for the mind, body and soul. Although I did not agree with Food Matters very strong raw foods message entirely, I still think that what the creators have done and continue to do is amazing.

You can sign up for the premiere here which will begin in about 4 hours and last for 10 days! Get on it.

Recipe: Chicken Liver Pate

Chicken Liver Pate is a rich, luxurious, nutrient dense food. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals including preformed vitamin A (retinol), B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin C, iron and various other minerals.

My recipe is inspired by Sally Fallon’s recipe in the book Nourishing Traditions. You may try different herbs and spices that tickle your fancy. I used coconut oil to make mine dairy free but traditionally the recipe would use butter or ghee.

Recipe: Chicken Liver Pate

Ingredients

400g approx of chicken liver

2 Tablespoons of coconut oil, butter or ghee

1 large onion finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or white wine

A bunch of chives

1/2 teaspoon of rosemary

1/2 teaspoon of mustard (I use Eden foods paste.)

I have also experimented with adding fresh basil, coriander and parsley

Sea salt

Method

Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, butter or ghee in a pan, add onions and cook until they begin to soften. Add the livers, garlic, chives, rosemary and cook for around 10 minutes.

Deglaze with vinegar or wine, add any additional herbs and mustard and cook until additional liquid has gone.

Season with sea salt and add an additional tablespoon of coconut oil, butter or ghee. Allow to cool slightly.

Process in a food processor or if you do not have one like me use a stab mixer. Blend until smooth. Place in a crock pot or chosen mold and chill well for a few hours or overnight.

I make bone broth

Bone broth is a truly nutrient dense, nourishing food that has been made by various cultures for centuries. It requires the simmering of bones and/or carcass from either poultry, fish or meat for approximately 12-72 hours. The cooking process breaks down the bones and connective tissues of the animal creating a broth rich in proteins, minerals and fat. The inclusion of an acidic medium such as apple cider vinegar helps to draw minerals from the bones. The longer you simmer the bones/carcass the more nutritious the broth becomes.

Bone broth is rich in collagen which is the building block of skin, hair, tendons, cartilage and organs. One fourth of the protein in our body is collagen. Gelatin, the food term for collagen is particularly beneficial for gut healing and provides amino acids glycine, proline and lysine. Bone broth is rich in the minerals calcium, magnesium ,phosphorus and other trace minerals. It also provides glucosamine and chondroiton which may help arthritis and joint pain. Bone broth is particularly helpful for those with digestive disorders, because it is easily digested the body can utilise the nutrients present.

The most detailed and well researched article I have found on bone broth is by Dr Allison Siebecker Traditional Bone Broth in Modern Health and DiseaseI usually make a bone broth once a week to sip on, make soups and braise meats. Not only is bone broth highly medicinal it has great flavour.

Here are instructions for producing your very own bone broth:

Source some bones and/or carcasses:

Fish carcass, chicken carcass, beef or lamb bones (raw bones, meaty bones, knuckles, ribs, necks or feet.) Choose only one animal.

Source enough water to cover the bones

Add in a large splash of vinegar (apple cider, balsamic or even wine.)

You may add in vegetables such as carrot, celery or any vegetable scraps. I usually have my broth plain.

When the bones/carcasses are covered with water and vinegar let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour then begin to heat to a simmer. Remove any scum that rises to the top. Now let the pot simmer on a very low setting (for chicken and fish 6 to 24 hours and beef and lamb 12 to 72 hours.) You may add in your vegetables a few hours before it is ready.

You may use the stove top or do what I do and after bringing the pot to the boil and removing scum transfer to a slow cooker.

When the time is up sieve the broth through a strainer. You can keep any meat and marrow remaining for soups etc.

Refrigerate or freeze your broth. It will last around 5 days in the fridge and many months in the freezer.

It is best to discard the fat of the fish or chicken broth as the fats are predominantly delicate polyunsaturated and monounsaturated and become rancid after cooking for long periods. The fat of lamb and beef is great for cooking and baking as it is highly saturated and stable.

Enjoy!

 

Do you make bone broth? Has it helped you in anyway? Or do you just love the taste!