Mindful Cookies

How to meditate.  After attending a meditation class a few weeks back, I have continued to explore what it is to mediate.  Any given teacher will share a point of view and I tend to explore other avenues anytime I learn something.  I never follow one recipe for anything.  I generally read and try many different recipes to come up my way of getting to my desired end result. Meditation is stillness of the mind.  It is practice to focus the brain on the present moment instead of what you need to do tomorrow and what you forgot to do yesterday.  Another popular description is the practice of mindfulness.  I looked up the definition of mindfulness via my friend Google and found:




  1. The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. “their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
  2. A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Meditation is becoming more mainstream as research continues to show palpable benefits to physical health and well being.  I would venture to say it is as beneficial as exercise.  It is really western culture that is realizing the benefits of meditation as it has been popular in eastern cultures for more years than the U.S. has been in existence.  Common descriptions of meditation lean toward sitting still first thing in the morning and focusing on being mindful.   As a very general statement, with practice, good things will happen – this is how I understand the benefit of meditation.  It is meant to help clear the clutter, manage stress, and open channels of your mind.  A breathing exercise can help in a stressful, angst filled situation without a doubt. I find a guided meditation helps me fall asleep when my brain is overactive and I wake up in the morning without a task list running through my brain.  Getting into the habit of waking up before the sun to meditate is utterly unappealing to me.  My brain neither functions in my favor nor against me in the morning.  It works on autopilot and helps me walk and sustain bodily function until about 9am or when I get coffee.  In all my years, nothing about me has ever been a morning person. At this juncture, I am not forcing the issue since there is an alternative for everything.

Do you remember the stream of consciousness writing exercises in elementary school or at any point in your education?   I had no idea why my teachers made this part of classroom curriculum or what purpose it served.  In retrospect I feel it happens to be a good practice and wish I had kept up with it.  I recently started reading a book called The Artist’s Way.  One of the concepts covered in the book is a daily practice of stream of consciousness writing – 3 pages, no more, no less.  The book likens this practice to meditation.  You simply start writing and rather than focusing on or judging any thought, just let it flow from your brain through your pen to paper – and then put your notebook away.  Very similar to mediation in that you just let things float on by in your head while in your zone – without grabbing onto a thought and letting to steer your mind. I decided my writing exercise is as good as a traditional meditation.  It helps me focus to work through whatever is on my mind and uncovers thoughts in the back of my mind and I actually look forward to it every day.  Meditation opens the channels and creative pathways in your mind – as does writing in a carefree manner.

Another “free the mind” activity for me is baking – or cooking.  I have always found a kitchen project involving preparation of food to be a stress relief.  When I approach a recipe with focus, all goes well – things  just flow.  When I am distracted and unfocused, I usually end up burning myself or something (ever had a smoldering pot holder in your kitchen drawer?), spilling something (once a full jar of spaghetti sauce across the kitchen, all over the walls) or cutting myself .  In those situations, I have to stop myself and consciously shift my attention (to avoid disaster) and redirect my attention away from whatever thoughts are causing a distraction.   Recently my job was giving me anxiety on a Friday night, long after work hours. I decided to try out a recipe I had been thinking about for some time (from the cookbook called Paris Sweets). When I was done, whatever was bothering me was purged from my brain and remember thinking, “Wow I feel so much better!” (The cookies were pretty amazing if you like chocolate and do use the fleur de sel noted in the recipe).  There is something in the process of measuring and mixing and whipping things up that gives me great focus and calms my mind.  It occurred to me I have had some meditative practice all my life and never realized it.   I had this conversation with my Dad while we were painting my bedroom a few months ago.  He shared that feels painting is very therapeutic and calming which I translate into a meditative activity.   A focused, repetitive action that requires focus on the task at hand.

I do not discount the recommended approaches of the many gurus who have years (or generations) of meditation experience.  It was just a realization that there really are many ways to achieve a meditative-like mindset with activities that create a state of mindfulness.  It is my interpretation and may be a meditation expert would dispute my point of view but it works for me.  If there is something you enjoy that lowers your blood pressure and helps you shut down the hamster wheel in your mind, then you have found a very valuable tool.

Thank you for reading this blog!