Week 12. A Walking Meditation.

My garden

Do not dwell in the past.

Do not dream of the future.

Concentrate the mind on the present moment.

BUDDHA 

January 7th 2019

Christmas holidays we have been busy with family visiting from England and it seems to me running here and there to the next, must do, must see "with photo's" experience. I loved seeing everyone but I missed my "real" life.

Finally the holidays have finished and the weather has cooled. I slipped Jaspers head collar on and we headed out into our normal, suburban street - just the two of us again.. I didn't dash, I felt every footstep (until my mind wandered and I realised and brought it back.) I breathed in smells and admired the gardens. We stopped often for a sniff (well Jasper did!) and noticed any changes.

We wandered to the Wharf, a lovely high tide and a calm bay. I focused on my breath and noticed how happy I felt.

Back around the waterfront to collect fallen frangipani. The smell, is the smell of summer walks in Australia for me, beautiful.

I had to take some really long breaths as I passed the side of the house, noticing the mess my son had left, fixing his boat. He'll tidy it later.

A holiday is wonderful but nothing is better than a walking meditation around my place.

Week 13. A summer vegetarian breakfast.

- Fruit salad with seasonal fruit.

This one has red papaya and mulberries from the garden.

Abundant vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.

- Greek Yoghurt. 

Rich and creamy. It contains fat which is filling and helps you absorb all the goodness in the fruit.

Make sure you buy "live" yoghurt. This contains probiotics which help break down and digest your food. Low in lactose, the good bacteria or probiotics which create yoghurt from milk, eat the lactose. Those who cannot tolerate other dairy products may be able to eat yoghurt.

 - A sprinkle or dessertspoon of seeds which have been broken up in the nutribullet. My blend is sunflower, chia, pumpkin and linseed. For extra calcium add sesame seeds as well.

Once crumbled keep in the fridge for up to 4 days after which the oil in the seeds may become rancid.

 - Raw Organic Honey (optional)

The phytonutrients in honey are responsible for its antioxidant properties, as well as its antibacterial and antifungal power. Raw honey has shown immune-boosting and anticancer benefits. Heavy processing destroys these valuable nutrients.

Week 14. Growing Your Own Medicine.

Artist: Julie

Coriander a cooling herb.

In Ayurveda, summer is the time when the fire energy is at its strongest. This effects how we feel, hot and irritable, frustrated even angry. It affects our physical body too, often our digestive system and skin. 

There are many ways to bring us back into balance with cooling yoga, specific meditations which I will add next and simple and lovely lifestyle things like swimming.

Food and herbs are an important part of Ayurveda and are categorised energetically. At this time it is best to change your diet to foods and herbs that are cooling and eat a diet with more raw food and salads. To find out which foods are cooling, google, Ayurvedic cooling foods.

Coriander seeds are one of the few cooling spices that are recommended at this time.

I have just dried mine and been out in the garden throwing the seeds around my veggie patches and saving some for my cooling digestive mix. The seeds will germinate in March and I will have lots of fresh organic coriander leaves to harvest before it runs to seed again. 

I used to struggle with growing coriander but it is one of the herbs in my garden that self seeds spring and autumn. When you buy a pot of coriander from the nursery, you are usually buying about 40 little seedlings jam packed together. You cut off the leaves and the poor little things die due to overcrowding and not enough leaves. Split the plants, sometimes I am very patient and can grow and separate 20 individuals, other times I break into about 4 clumps. They run to seed especially in hot weather, the flowers are pretty, white and delicate and the insects love them. The plant itself is usually a metre high at this point. Insects in the garden are your best friends for pest control and pollination. Soon you will see the green seeds. I love these and eat them off the plant or you can wait till the plant is looking sad and the seeds are browning, pull them out, tie them upside down, place in a dark, cool place until dry. They are easy then to pull off and store or sprinkle back into your garden beds.

Coriander - continued

Coriander is good for any heat related illness.

These are the indications found in The Yoga of Herbs by Andrew Frawley.

Cystitis, urinary tract infection, urticaria, rash, burns, sore throat, vomiting, indigestion, allergies and hayfever. 

Use the fresh juice of the herb INTERNALLY one teaspoon 3 times daily or add a bunch to your smoothie for allergies, hay fever and skin rashes.

Use the fresh juice EXTERNALLY for itch and inflammation.

Use coriander seeds or make up a DIGESTIVE MIX of coriander, cumin and fennel.

This is a powerful but safe mix that can be chewed before or after food - forget those nasty ant-acids. It freshens the breath and increases digestive function and absorption. I fry it in butter with garlic and add it to my kitchari.

Week 15. Summer Meditation

Cooling and Calming.

This is a lovely time of year to tune into the sense of touch.

Lay outside preferably in the grass or sand.

Close your eyes, smile and feel the earth beneath you.

Which parts of your body are touching the ground?

Now become aware of your breath, just watching -  allow it to flow naturally.

Scan your body, can you feel any tension feel it dissolve as you breath out and let go.

Become aware of the air around you...feel the air as it gently brushes your skin...the coolness of the breeze ...keep your focus on this gentle touch.

Stay for at least 5 minutes observe how you feel, open your eyes and enjoy a walk or a swim. Or even better close your eyes again and sink deeper into your commune with nature.

 

 

Week 16. Growing Your Own Medicine.

A garden smoothie

Full of medicinal herbs, and nutritious seeds and green veggies.

Ingredients:

* A small bunch of green veggies. I add kale from my garden, which is bitter and improves liver function. 

* A small bunch of herbs. 

I love lemon balm or lemon verbena. As well as tasting nice they improve digestion are anti - viral and help with depression (uplifting)

Peppermint or Mint. Also great for digestion, they stimulate the liver and are also uplifting and good for headaches.

Your own favourite herbs, do some research on their medicinal properties and you will be amazed, don't underestimate nature !

* Full Fat Greek Yoghurt - A tablespoon. Vegans use coconut milk or cream.

Fat is good for us, It is filling and helps us absorb all the wonderful vitamins and minerals in "the buzz"  Make sure your yoghurt is live, that it contains acidophilus a potent probiotic.

*Seeds. Pumpkin, sunflower, linseed & chia.

A powerhouse of nutrition,  a sprinkle of each.

* One banana, don't go overboard on the fruit it is purely to add flavour and taste. I have experimented with different fruit but banana is the nicest. Conduct your own experiment.

Add everything to your nutribullet in the order above and give it a buzz.

P.S.

If you have never tried a nasturtium flower you have been missing out! They are sweet and a little peppery. The seeds are highly therapeutic. I call them bombs and many a small child has wandered into the garden and been dared to try a bomb. They clear your nose definitely and are great for colds and flu. They love Australia as I do and self seed everywhere. So many different colours, they brighten up your day. 

Week 17. Growing Your Own Medicine.

Zucchini - Let food be your medicine.

It's that time of year again...when my fridge is filling up with organic zucchini from my garden. Zucchini are very easy and rewarding to grow, it is best to have at least 2 plants. Every morning in summer I go out hunting for girls. These are the female flowers of the zucchini, you can tell the girls because they have a baby zucchini attached, just waiting to be pollinated. I don't know why but insects don't seem to like them and I have to pollinate them myself. I find a male flower (no baby waiting) and break off the petals and dust the pollen onto the girl flowers. Then I watch them grow and grow and grow.....They are big enough to pick in 3 or 4 days, miss one and it can turn into a monster!

 

Week 18. Zucchini Summer Stew

I have a lot of simple, nutritious and quick zucchini recipes, they can be sliced lengthwise and grilled on the barbeque, add activated almond pesto and watch the meat eaters don't get to them first! 

I make this stew for lunch often in summer, it is light and filling and delicious. (Serves 1)

1 medium zucchini

A small bunch of herbs (optional)

Seed crumble. Blended, Chia, Linseed, Pumpkin and Sunflower.

A large knob of butter (extra virgin olive oil for vegans)

1 tomato, maybe garlic

Grated parmesan to taste or yeast flakes for vegans.

Fry the zucchini in butter until it is softening and some of it has gone a little brown. Then turn down the heat add the tomato, garlic and herbs and put the lid on to retain the juice. While it is cooking I whizz the seeds and parmesan in my bullet and stir them in at the end. The seeds and oil make it delicious and filling but if I have sour dough in the fridge it's lovely to dip in.

Week 19. Meditation. What are you waiting for ?

Photograph taken by me in the Sydney Botanic Gardens

How much time do you spend in your life, waiting?

Meditation is the opposite of boredom.

Your life is now, in the present moment, where ever you are or whatever you are doing.

The past has gone and the future is always ahead of you, this is your precious moment.

I practice this meditation whenever I am in a super market queue or waiting for an appointment or if I start to feel restless.

Your eyes can be open or closed. You can be sitting or standing.

Start to focus on your breath, feel your chest gently lifting as you breathe in.

Focusing on the breath is meditation, it brings you into the present moment.

This moment is perfect just as it is, there is no need to change it and no need to wait for something better. 

You are breathing in energy, prana, chi, rejuvenation, wellness, happiness, contentment, strength. 

As you breathe out, smile and feel your face and shoulders becoming relaxed.

Time will cease to matter - enjoy life, enjoy the feeling of your breath.

Life can be simple.

Week 20. Growing Your Own Medicine - Chickens?

To be vegetarian, to be vegan, to be a meat eater. 

I decided to stop eating meat when I was 23, it was easy my boyfriend was vegetarian and an excellent cook and I have him to thank for my cooking skills and becoming a healthy eater.

I still don't eat animals but I eat chicken occasionally for example Christmas day to celebrate a traditional family Christmas.

I do speak up about animal cruelty particularly to pigs but I do not judge...infact as I grow older I have become aware that those that choose to eat meat are the ones that have the power to stop animal cruelty. They can choose to buy only free range or organic and I feel empowered when I occasionally shop for the meat eaters in my family and support organic, free range farmers even if it costs more.

I keep my own chickens and have done for 15 years. I love having them around and wandering my garden picking veggies for them and eating their eggs. I have discovered that chickens and veggie gardens don't mix, they live down the side of my house and all have different personalities.

Whatever you choose to eat. Eat real food, made with real ingredients that you have mainly cooked for yourself. Go through your cupboards, read the ingredients label and anything with a chemical name chuck it in the bin. Buy as much organic food as you can and help protect our earth, start to ask questions about how things are produced and make a difference just by choosing carefully what you buy and eat. Follow your heart and be happy and healthy.

Healthy Eating!  

Week 20. Growing Your Own Medicine.

Sprouts

If you don't have a garden you can still grow sprouts which are one of nature's superfood.

Sprouts have to be treated like babies which is what they are...they need some care. They have to be rinsed twice a day. It is important to find the time to grow real food.

I have tried many different types of sprouts and many different sorts of jars. 

The bigger glass jars with a mesh lid work the best. I bought mine from our local organic shop as well as the organic sprouts. They seem expensive but a little goes a long way and one small packet can keep you in sprouts for months.

A mix that works well together and tastes good is Alfalfa, Mung Beans and Red Clover.

Alfalfa sprouts are high in protein and chlorophyll, contain every essential amino acid and are rich in Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, E, K, Niacin, Biotin and Folic Acid.

Mung Beans are high in dietary fibre and contain 48% protein. As well as vitamins A, C, B6, Potassium, calcium and iron.

Red Clover is a special herb for breast cancer, cleansing the body and lymphatic system. It contains Vitamins A, B, C, E and K. Calcium, Magnesium, phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc

Do not think taking synthetic vitamins instead of real food, will keep you healthy.

Growing sprouts.

You can use any glass jar but a mesh lid makes it easier.

I place a teaspoon of Alfalfa Seeds, Mung Beans and  Red Clover Seeds into my jar and then pour in filtered water to cover.

The next morning I rinse them and continue to rinse them gently day and night and leave them in a bright spot in my kitchen.

At some point usually after about 3 days the sprouts lose the outer covering. Because this is not alive it will go mouldy. I run filtered water to the top of the jar and gently run my fingers through the sprouts, the dead bits float to the surface and are washed away. I then remove the sprouts and rinse them again in a colander, rinse the jar and place them back in.

They are ready to eat, you can put them in the fridge and they will stop growing and they stay fresh for about a week. If it is cooler weather leave them out and the next morning your sprouts have doubled. Eat some in salads or sandwiches; give them a rinse, if you see leaves they can be placed in filtered sunshine. Eat and harvest...any sign of slime or a funny smell throw them in the compost.

It is harder to sprout in hot weather as they grow mould quicker and in cold weather as they grow more slowly. If you are new to sprouting Autumn and Spring work best. 

Week 21. Meditation for depression

Meditation to Awaken the Senses

This meditation will help relieve anxiety too.

Lay down or sit anywhere outdoors. 10 breaths for each sense is the minimum.

Try to stay aware of your slow, calm breath. Breathe through your nose.

It is important not to struggle with your thoughts, if your mind is busy observe what you are thinking and then return to your meditation.

With practice this meditation can change your life. You realise the best things in life are free and start to let go of material attachments. You no longer need the company of other people to be happy.

1 Sound.

Close your eyes and begin to listen to the sounds around you. Move from sound to sound. 10 Breaths

2 Sight.

Open your eyes and choose to gaze at a tree, the sky, water or something else you find relaxing. 10 Breaths

3 Smell.

Close your eyes and feel the air flowing in and out the 2 nostrils. What can you smell. (with practice your sense of smell will improve) 10 breaths.

4 Touch.

In summer feel the cool breeze on your skin. Focus on where it touches your skin. You may prefer to be practicing in the water using the silky feel of the water. 10 breaths

In winter focus on the feel of the sunshine on your skin.

A wonderful experience is to get wrapped up and sit in the rain.

5. Taste.

How many times have you eaten without really focusing on the taste? Sip your tea, or enjoy a piece of fruit or a couple of pieces of chocolate. Enjoy and spend time on the subtle tastes.

 We can feel nourished and content by using our outward senses.     

  Namaste Julie

If you suffer from depression I recommend reading Lost Connections by Johann Hari