Saturday, 21 April 2012

One Thing at a Time

I've been doing this Mindfulness course at the London Buddhist Centre recently. I had expected it to be a bit tree huggy but actually it's very pragmatic. I'm only two weeks in but I already feel I've learnt a lot.
Learning and Lecture Series
One of the key lessons so far is to limit how much your mind wonders. This keeps you in the now rather than letting you start to worry about what could be or over analyse what was. For me this is a massive effort. They have given us an mp3 download to do a guided meditation each day called a body-scan (not the same as a cat scan).
Cat Scan!
It guides you through your body, exploring how each part of you feels, and reminds you every now and again that if your mind has wondered off you just need to gently bring it back again. It's only 30 minutes but man, is it difficult. The clever thing is though that just by noticing your mind has wondered you're getting it right. It's not about relaxing it's initially about noticing how much your mind jumps about and then later it's about quietening the internal monologue that causes it to wonder. I think that's pretty clever.

The bodyscan is homework, but there are also two other things they have asked us to do. The first is to do one thing 'mindfully' every day. I tried making 'brushing my teeth' this mindful task.
Ha! Within seconds I realised that I never 'just' brush my teeth. In the morning I'm doing it while finding my shoes, keys, packing my bag, brushing my the evening I'm turning off lights, picking up clothes, getting undressed. That got me thinking about how often I do ever do just one thing. At the very least I'll be listening to music or an audio book while doing something like washing up or having a bath. For me - to watch TV without knitting in my hands is a waste of time. If I'm travelling I'm usually reading as well. So considering that perhaps it's no wonder my mind is always whirring away and finds it hard to be still.
spinning top
The other task was to recognise a moment of pleasure every day. On Wednesday that was easy. I met up with my Dad and we went to an amazing restaurant called Ottolenghi. They have got recipes on the website and it is a deli as well as a restaurant. The moments of pleasure were multiple. Firstly seeing my Dad for the first time since christmas. Then the excellent conversation we had. But also my first mouthful of the aubergine and wild garlic dish.
Stella di melanzana
I do adore aubergine and for a few seconds my mouth blissed out. Nom.

It's been a busy week both at work and home and I now have next week off. I feel amazingly ready for it. There is a funeral to go to on monday which naturally I am not looking forward to and then in quick succession I will be in Amsterdam by Tuesday lunchtime. I do have a note of various craft shops and will even have my laptop with me so there may be some blogging. It is due to rain the whole time I am there so expect soggy photos of tulips and canals.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Challah, playa!

I made Challah. For those not in the know it is a traditional jewish bread made with honey and it is really nice. It is another recipe from this book which is my all time favourite for bread.
Challah Homemade Bread
It tastes very fresh and clean with just a hint of sweetness. Definitely best eaten fresh but then my handmade bread does tend to always be that way which I guess is normal enough as it has no preservatives in.

I got a new phone this week and while surfing the app store I came across Instagram. I know - everyone has this already but I hadn't gone there but have now finally given in.
Alex on Instagram April 2012
I read a funny article about how its use is making all our photos look the same and really bad quality, but the filters do have a rather kitsch delight about them. So armed with my new phone and my messy hair I went off to Lewisham yesterday and got the rest of the fabric needed to finish my quilt.
The purple flowery fabric on the left is the backing. I spent ages looking for the perfect fabric and was just about to compromise on a cow skin print when I saw this one - and I love it! I have tacked the backing and the wadding to the front and it just remains to run a line of red zigzag around the central purple dots. Then the binding and it's done! Awesome.

Knitting is a difficult subject for me at the moment - I was happily making a pair of socks out of some leftover yarn when I realised I would only just have enough for one - never mind the second one. It has caused me to falter so rather than knitting this afternoon I decided to cut out more bunting.
This is my sister's wedding bunting. Yes, there is going to be a lot of it. It's a big room with a nasty ceiling I'm told. But it's no good. I'm going to have to go back to knitting soon. If only because I need to get a few projects ready for my trip to amsterdam in a week. What does one knit in amsterdam? Socks are just so portable but I always seem to be knitting them. Hmmm....thinks....

Nope. Got nothing.
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