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!

So That Happened – Random Thoughts

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel like you might be from another planet because you are unable to believe what is happening?  Several times today I figured there must be something wrong with me because I found myself thinking, “So is this happening…right now.”

Is George Clooney really engaged to be married?  The entire planet must know George Clooney’s marital status and he is now engaged? I feel like George Clooney is playing a joke on the media.  In the big picture it has no bearing on my life at all and I have never had an opinion about George Clooney’s marital status. I am not really even a fan though I really liked the Ocean’s movies.  George Clooney getting married is like a press release that Jane Goodall has developed a severe allergy and aversion to primates.  Could that really be possible?  I have checked multiple websites to see if it is true and it seems to be true (Clooney, not Goodall).  I have contacted friends who have confirmed they have seen this news.  I am really unable to explain my disbelief.  It just goes to show everything is subject to change.  Maybe George Clooney finally met a women who did not set out to change him or convince him to get married or maybe he has been taken by body snatchers or maybe this is a Danny Ocean move of some kind.  Does anyone have Julia Roberts’ phone number? She will be able to confirm the news reports.  George Clooney: a case study in anything is possible even if it seems really, really unlikely (because the media said so).

I got roped into a meditation class. I say roped in because class for meditation seems counterintuitive. Meditation is something that is supposed to take you inward.  A class seems very, well, “get it all out there and let’s talk about our feelings.”   And it was. What I also found amusing is a person who witnessed me getting roped in later sent me a text and said something along the lines of, “I am so sorry you got roped into that”  as if she knew this might not be the best thing for me.  I rationalized the class as a good way to validate I am meditating correctly.  My questions about whether meditation class is for me when the instructor shared he is a psychotherapist and uses meditation for his depressed patients, troubled teenagers and patients who are recovering addicts.  I am none of those things so wondered why the person who roped me in thought this class would be good for me?  When I overheard a participant touting her budding abilities as a medium (not quite like the Long Island Medium, she said), I wondered, “Wait, did I just overhear that?” And also I realized I recognized the voice of the aspiring medium – a coworker who probably wants to keep her side career a secret?  Or not?  That happened and I pretended I heard nothing.  Another deal breaker was when the meditation class leader told us to envision a happy place.  A what?  One of the participants said her happy place is sitting on the beach with her cat….and that was enough for me.  I was sure I had been beamed to another planet at that point.   There are some things about people that I  just never want to know.  To quote Russell Simmons, “Meditation lets your thinking mind take a break from itself.”  There was too much happening in this class to halt any thinking – people never cease to amaze me.  I may be better off on my own with meditation practice.

I discovered my friend has recently turned into a Mom Zombie when I  saw her at a party tonight.  I am not sure when this zombie thing happened exactly and wondered if anyone else noticed, thought did not broach the subject.   She recently had a second baby. Her previous abilities to have adult conversations while caring for a baby have gone goo-goo ga-ga on her and I felt kind of weird about it. Ok I realize I may sound unfeeling.  I have never had a baby so am unaware of the life changing effects of a baby.  However, this friend, pre-baby #2, would have told me to take action if she spent two hours at a dinner table talking to a 5 month old and trying to make everyone talk to the 5 month old as if she may respond.  Again I am likely unfeeling and insensitive yet I had to ask myself, “Who body snatched my friend? A pre-teething little baby gnawing on her fists has no idea something just dribbled on her pants.”  I sent my friend a text after dinner and told her we really need to get pedicures next weekend to see if she would understand the SOS.  She agreed and told me she has had way too much baby time.  Maybe not body snatched afterall, just needs a breather.  Note: I really have no idea how mothers work full time and take care of their children and everything else.  It is never ceases to amaze me.

I am sure something else happened today, however, these were the things I was compelled to write.  Yes this blog post happened and you must have read it.  I am not sure what the lesson is in all this – perhaps body snatchers do not actually exist?

Another side note:  my brother thinks I need more bullet points in my blog posts because I am so verbose.  I told him when I get an editor, I will add some bullets and interesting punctuation.  In the meantime, I will try to be less wordy…but so much happens every day it is tough for me!

Thank you for reading my random blog post!