A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Teddy Bear’s Picnic!

It never ceases to amaze me when inspiration arises at the most unexpected time, or in the most obscure of places.  It all began on the day of the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, which is a nice promotional day organised by the Talyllyn Railway where families take a ride on the narrow-gauge railway from Tywyn to Abergynolwen on the edges of the wonderful Snowdonia National Park in North Wales.

 

The weather was gorgeous and perfect for a picnic in the play area at Abergynolwen Station. Scarlett was already tucking into a tasty cool ice-cream! and cuddling up to her Teddy bear.

We had a great time on the picnic, and we were joined by a small pack of Teddy Bears that had joined the party on our table! 20180726_120109

You may at this point be wondering what the strange thing was that happened whilst out at the Teddy Bears Picnic? Well, it happened on the train journey back to Tywyn, as the Lub-Dub, Lub-Dub of the trains wheels on the track sent me into an almost hypnotic trance.

A Train Journey: Metaphor for mindfulness Practice

As I was gently swayed from side to side by the gentle rocking of the carriage I automatically slipped into a state of mindfulness. The gentle Lub-Dub becoming the focus of my attention as I became aware of how the gentle rocking was synchronised with the repetative sounds. I found this blend of sound and movement to be extremely relaxing.

At times my attention was grabbed by something within the passing countryside and my state of mindfulness was, for a moment, broken as the object of interest took hold of my consciousness. Sometimes I was able to relax my attention and return to the Lub-Dub sounds and the gentle swaying as the attention grabbing scene disappeared out of view. This reminded me of how in mindful practice, a thought, vision or sound could grab-hold of your attention and, without you even being aware that it had happened,  could hook your conscious attention. Before you know it you find yourself on a train of thought that takes you away from being mindful of the ‘Now’ moment. The moment you become conscious of this happening you have the opportunity to gently, without irritation of expectation, return your attention back to where you are. Becoming aware of your breathing helps you to centre back into the moment and once more allowing your attention to fall, relaxed, upon the current surroundings and what is occurring within the ‘Now’.

As I contemplated this process, and how the train journey itself was an excellent metaphor for the whole mindfulness experience, I realised that the things that grabbed my attention and ‘Hooked’ me were mainly sights or sounds that initiated some kind of emotional response within me. It really didn’t matter what the emotion was; be it Awe, Curiosity, Irritation, anger etc. the power of the emotional body to take control of your attention and thoughts was quite surprising and quite a revelation. Just like life itself the train journey had plenty of opportunities to grab my attention and take me on a thought journey away from the experience of the moment.

My next revelation was realising that my thoughts would often be taken, either forward along the track to possible future experiences or back along the track to what had already happened. This was another aspect that mimicked the process of mindful practice. Whilst practicing mindfulness I often find that it takes some time, and quite a bit of persistence, to let go of my thoughts about the future or the past and to just experience the moment of ‘Now’. This doesn’t require any effort or physical activity, but requires a letting go of attachment to whatever is driving this though form. Just like on the train where you can look back along the track to see where you have been or forward to where the train is being taken, it would quite easy to allow your attention and conscious awareness to follow these trains of thought and to become so engrossed in what has been, or the possibilities of what may be, that the beauty that exists just outside the train carriage is missed.

Looking out the window to the tantalising hint of the sea that appears through the trees it would be tempting to get drawn into the future and the past. Thoughts of enjoying the seashore when the journey is are in conflict with thoughts reaching back into the past as the memories, and the emotions related to the memories, come flooding back and clamour for my conscious attention.20180726_134948

At times the train was forced to slow down, or stop, for a minute or two and I was able to allow my awareness to fall onto the surrounding beauty. I had time to take in the scene and feel gratitude for the sense of calm and peace that nature often provides. Having no distractions at these times, other than my wandering thoughts, I was able to appreciate the moment and see aspects of the countryside that otherwise would be missed. These were like the moments within my mindfulness practice where I become fully immersed in the now and become acutely aware of all that surrounds me or what is happening to, and within, me. Those moments of clarity and pure mindfulness are like the metaphorical station stops along the train journey of life.

My message to you, the reader, is simple:

mindful train ticket

Have a mindful day!
Regards Chris /|\

 

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Chamomile & Lavender Tea: What a magical herbal mix.

The gentle breeze was just enough to take the heat out of the mid-day Sun while I sat watching the bees as they were busy coming and going from the hives. It was idyllic and I was lulled into a state of mindfulness by the warm breeze and the gentle hum of the hives. Just what the Dr. ordered for some spiritual recuperation 🙂

During my sojourn into the ‘Now’ the chamomile that grows around the hives caught my attention  as they swayed and bobbed in the breeze followed quickly by the subtle scent of the lavender encroaching into the periphery of my senses.

Not one to pass-up a message from nature I felt inspired to make a nice cup of Chamomile & Lavender tea. I’d have a look at the properties of these two herbs after I’d indulged myself in the brew.

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Chamomile & Lavender Tea

Properties of Chamomile (9 top Properties)

  1. High Source of Antioxidants
  2. Fights Anxiety and Depression
  3. Improves Digestion
  4. Has Strong Anti-Inflammatory and Pain-Reducing Abilities
  5. Helps Fight Cancer (in particular skin, prostate, breast and ovarian cancers)
  6. Relieves Congestion
  7. Promotes Skin Health
  8. Keeps Gums and Teeth Healthy
  9. Improves Heart Health

According to Dr Nasha Winters and Jess Higgins Kelley in their book, ‘The Metabolic Approach to Cancer‘, state the following regarding Chamomile:

Apigenin, a plant flavonoid found in Parsely’s stems and leaves (as well as in celery and chamomile tea) demonstrates cytotoxic activities)…

…its cytotoxic activity has been found comparable to that of doxorubicin.

Properties of Lavender

  • Antiseptic and Anti-inflammatory
  • Treats Anxiety, Insomnia, depression and Restlessness
  • Helps Digestive Issues
  • Relieves pain
  • Antifungal
  • Useful in wound healing

I’d say that nature was giving me a nice little helping hand there with its hint at making a chamomile and lavender tea! relaxing and calming properties plus anti-cancer properties 🙂

See below for a few sources to support the above, but there are loads more out there if you have a look.

Have a relaxed and chilled-out day, and remember to tell those you love that “You Love Them”

Peace and love
Chris /|\

Sources:

 

My day begins and ends with GRATITUDE and JOY – So Can YOURS

Affirmation of the Day

My day begins and ends with GRATITUDE and JOY – Louise L. Hay

I began my day, albeit a later start than I had planned, with my 10 minutes of meditation followed by a very enjoyable exercise session. I did my usual push-ups and sit-ups but have decided to add some flexibility and relaxation training into my regime. Therefore, I’ve decided to restart Tai Chi again after a 12 year break and have joined a local class teaching the Yang style 37 step form. This is different to my previous Tai Chi form which was the Lee style, but the underlying Taoist principles are the same. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to restart my practice and I’m looking forward to the next lesson on Wednesday. I can’t really define why Tai Chi is such a joy to do, on the surface it just looks like slow elegant moving but I find it so meditative and balancing.

We had a busy day planned and I was grateful for having the two weeks annual leave from work which will allow me to get quite a few jobs done around the house and the allotment, not to mention our trip to Bala and our planned weekend with friends.

The day started with working on the garden and the back yard. Weeks of Sun with no rain has left the ground extremely dry, but the bonus of the good weather is that our two bee hives are doing extremely well. Watching the bees fills my heart with joy, gratitude and appreciation for the hard work they do and the promise of a little honey later in the year fills me with anticipation. There’s nothing to beat the pleasure of tasting the sweet unadulterated raw honey from your own bee hives, but I don’t take too much as I keep bees mainly for the pleasure of watching them and knowing that we are supporting the bio-diversity in the area. Another bonus, for which I can thank the Sunny weather for, is the health of the grape-vine this year, looks like it’s going to be a bountiful year.

Later on it was time for family. Sue and I were meeting Christina with our grand-daughter Scarlett. We met for a drink at Pebbles, a local cafe on the promenade, they are well worth a visit if you’re visiting Tywyn. Here’s a link to their Trip advisor entry.

I am so grateful to be able to spend this time with my family, it fills me with joy and happiness. It’s surprising how the words “you have cancer” can somehow make everything clearer about what’s really important in life. Cancer, like many other life limiting conditions, is terrible but there is a flip side as it can be the stimulus to making you re-evaluate your life’s priorities. I think my diagnosis has sharpened my ‘metaphorical’ vision to be able to see, and appreciate, the joy that can be gained from the simple pleasures, like spending time with family. So I do at least have one thing to be grateful for from my illness. Every cloud has a silver lining, as they say LOL.

Later that day I spent 45 minutes listening to the healing cancer hypnosis video I’m currently using. I still can’t believe I manage to lie still for that length of time! I do appreciate the effort, and generosity, of people who produce material like this for free. Please visit their channel and give a thumbs up to help them out. Hypnosis: Deep Trance Cancer Healing

Well that’s a quick outline of my day and the joy and gratitude I feel. I’ll check in again soon.

Have a wonderfully joyous day filled with peace, harmony and gratitude

Matcha Green Tea: a brew to start the day

Affirmation of the Day

My Power exists in the NOW therefore, I acknowledge and forgive my past. For I know that NOW is the seed of my becoming.

Match Green Tea

 

I have started to incorporate Matcha Green Tea into my dietary regime. I consume two small cups a day which I find very enjoyable. I decided to try this particular green tea because it is promoted as having many health benefits, even greater than normal infused green tea. I’ll add some resources below if you want to research it yourself.

My Experience so far

I love the taste and find it quite refreshing. Luckily the caffeine content hasn’t triggered my palpitations, which are the signs my body gives me if I overdo the caffeine. I actually enjoy the process of making the tea as I try, if possible, to do it in a meditative state  like the Japanese do with their tea ceremony.

Is it improving my health? it’s too early to say at the moment but I’m happy to continue as I enjoy the experience of making and drinking it, but I will continue to keep an eye on the research and hopefully a few more studies might come out demonstrating the benefits of Match green tea.

10  Benefits of Drinking Matcha Green Tea

  • High in Antioxidants
  • High in Catechin, EGCg (The most potent and beneficial antioxidants)
  • Induces Calm – reduces stress
  • Boosts Memory and Concentration
  • Increased Energy Levels
  • Helps Weight Loss
  • Aides Detoxification
  • Boosts the Immune System
  • Improves Cholesterol Profile
  • Tastes Great!

Some of the Research papers involving Matcha Green Tea

That’s all folks!

Have a stupendous day, appreciate every moment and be Mindful.

Kefir Cheese: A really tasty probiotic cheese to make at home

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If you love soft cheese with a nice sharp taste as much as I do then I suggest you have a go at making this Kefir cheese. It taste wonderful, lovely and creamy yet sharp (you can reduce the sharpness if you prefer a milder taste) and full of healthful probiotics to help support good gut health. I like kefir drink but as I’m low-carb I drain the whey to make a cheese and to reduce the amount of any lactose that may be left in the kefir.

Ingredients

  • Kefir Grains (source a good supply to start you collection off – it’s worth the effort to get a good reliable kefir culture as it’s a one-off purchase)
  • Organic whole milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Any additional flavouring you prefer ie. Chives, Chilli Flakes, Parsley, Garlic etc.

Equipment

  • Glass container to ferment the kefir (use some muslin to cover the opening if not using a container with a suitable lid)
  • Butter muslin (don’t bother with cheese cloth, it’s not suitable)

Method

  • Place kefir grains into your glass container
  • Add your milk and stir or shake to mix well
  • Cover and place in a warm environment to ferment (the time it takes will be dependant upon the temperature of your room and the ratio of kefir grains to milk volume. Typically this will be from 24 hours to 36 hours depending on how acidic you like your soft cheese. I ferment until the curds and whey have naturally divided, as you can see in the following photograph.20180711_115602
  • When you have decided to separate the curds and whey you need to pass the kefir through a sieve (preferably a non-metal sieve or colander)
  • Keep your kefir grains for use in the next batch (I store mine in the fridge in a glass jar with a little milk )
  • Line your sieve or colander with the butter muslin and pour you curds and whey into the sieve or collander to begin draining (I collect the initial whey and repass that through the muslin a second time to collect the small amount that goes through at the beginning of the draining process)
  • Leave for 12 to 24 hours to drain (you can keep the whey for consumption or use in cooking if you wish)
  • When you are happy that no more whey is draining you can either use as is, or if you want a stiffer cheese you can wrap the curds up in butter muslin and leave in the sieve with something heavy on it. The cheese is usually stiff enough after 3 to 4 hours with the weight on. (I use a large heavy tin to weigh the cheese down)
  • Remove cheese from muslin and add your salt and flavourings to taste, mix well and place into a suitable container, preferably ceramic rather than plastic due to the risk of chemicals leaching out of the plastic.

Store in the fridge and consume at your leisure. Kefir is a live culture so, as long as you have been hygienic throughout the process it will keep for an extended period. Unfortunately ours gets eaten too quickly for me to say what the maximum life is LOL.

Happy Day
Chris /|\

Checking in with myself

Affirmation for Today

I have a powerful and efficient immune system that continues to heal my body every minute of the day and night.

Hi everyone, I’ve had a couple of days working on my Spiritual blog over at At The Hearth where I’ve been completing Names of God:part 2 of my discussion and exploration of Iolo Morganwg’s Names of God references contained with the Barddas. So I thought I’d better check in and continue my ramblings.

Morning routine

As far as my early morning activities go, following the suggestions in ‘The Miracle Morning’, I did lapse yesterday and had a lie in. I think having just completed my run of 12 hour shifts on the ward I was just too tired and made the fatal mistake of not getting up as soon as I awoke, Hence I fell back to sleep for a couple of hours. I still managed to do my meditations, affirmations, exercises and reading, but later than I intended and with less focus. I did come across a really good video on Youtube, it was a 45 minute hypnosis video related to healing cancer. The video was called Hypnosis: Deep Trance Cancer Healing, I was amazed that I managed the full session without even moving! it was very relaxing and empowering.

Turmeric Drink

I’ve started drinking a really nice drink in the morning, as well as my Matcha green tea, a blend of turmeric, cinnamon, almond milk (home made and sugar free), and coconut milk (homemade and sugar free). It’s based on a traditional Indian drink with my own adjustments. As I’ve said before Turmeric is a wonder spice with masses of healing properties, well researched and validated, see my post about my Anti-Cancer Cauliflower Rice recipe

Method

I heat up a tablespoon of home made organic ghee in a saucepan to which I add 1 tsp of ground dried turmeric and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon powder. I then make a sieved nut milk using about 7 almond and 2 tbls of dried coconut, using spring water and the nutribullet, I sieve the nut milk. I mix it all together and simmer for a few minutes then pour it into a cup and consume.

Progress with Cancer Treatment

On a less positive note, although I do try to give it a positive spin, I have only just managed to get the MRI referral sent to the Radiology Department after the Registrar failed to complete the form 2 weeks ago! I wasn’t best pleased about this delay, especially after I was told it’s a 6 week waiting list for the MRI. On a positive note, they have promised to back-date the referral 2 weeks so the wait may be nearer 4 weeks. But at least the process has started, at last! (Update – just had a call informing me that the MRI is booked for 24th July which is 2 weeks away, so that’s better news).

Looking at the NHS Referral to Treatment (RTT) targets for Wales I note that their target for Cancer is 62 days from referral to initial treatment of the cancer. As my referral was sent 5th of May it’s clear that Wrexham Maelor Hospital are missing their target by a mile! it’s a good job I’m aware of the need to chase up referrals etc otherwise the request for the MRI would still be sitting around somewhere unsent!

Gratitude

  • A wonderful family who are supporting me to the hilt. I thank you all
  • Had a lovely visit from my Mother-in-Law yesterday, it was good to see her. Plus she bought me a couple of bars of 100% Chocolate by Montezuma, Yummy and full of great Polyphenols and Anti-oxidants, see this Critical Review
  • The roofer has arrived on time as promised, so the roof repair will be done today, before the rains start LOL
  • The morning greetings from the two dogs, Seren and Bella

     

I have a load of stuff to do today, so will leave it there, so have a wonderful and joyous day today.

Blessings
Chris /|\

 

70 years of the National Health Service plus my anticancer cauliflower rice

Sun flowers

When I got home from work last night I saw a beautiful vase of Sunflowers that my daughter Rebekah had bought for Sue. I couldn’t resist taking a photograph to share on the blog. I think they are one of my favourite flowers at this time of year, a celebration of the Summer Solstice, the Sun personified.

As I wasn’t working today I had a more relaxed start to the day, I still got up at 5am but once I’d completed my physical exercises, meditation, hot and cold shower etc. I decided to go back to bed to do a bit of reading. The day was looking promising with the Sun shining brightly. I was glad that the day looked like it would be another dry warm day as the local hospital, where I work, was having a ‘Tea and Three’ party to celebrate the 70 year anniversary of the NHS and I expected a good turn out due to the promise of nice weather. As it turned out the ward was packed with visitors enjoying a cuppa and a slice of cake, they were also fascinated perusing the ancient medical tools on display that had been found lurking in the bowels of the hospital! all I can say is that I’m glad I wasn’t around in those times! Ouch…

Evening Meal: Immunity Supporting Recipe

As a change I thought I’d share part of the meal I prepared for this evening. I was looking to make my evening meal a Cancer fighting menu, in celebration of completing my 60 hour fast for Autophagy, if your interested in this fascinating process, in particular its use in cancer prevention and adjunctive therapy, the link to Wikipedia is a good place to start, followed by a general search engine to explore the research. I’ve chosen the following recipe as it was an experiment to add a new angle to the usual cauliflower rice that we usually eat.

Egg Fried Cauliflower Rice (serves 2)
  • 200g grated cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 eggs

I decided on an egg fried cauliflower rice flavoured with turmeric, cumin and coriander cooked in a little home-made organic ghee. There’s loads of research and evidence that demonstrates the anticancer properties of cruciferous vegetables and cauliflower is one of the most versatile members of this family of vegetables. Turmeric contains curcumin which has been shown to trigger apoptosis (cell death) in tumour cells and is also anti-angiogenisis (prevents new blood vessels from being grown by tumour cells). Cumin boosts the immune system and has antioxidant vitamins which help prevent oxidative stress that can lead to cancer. Coriander is anti-oxidant thus helping to protect against cancer. The eggs are a healthy source of essential amino acids and healthy fats.

I cooked the spices in the ghee for a minute or two before adding the beaten eggs. I allowed the eggs to cook for a while before breaking them up so that they held together in chunks. I then added the cauliflower and stir fried for a few minutes until cooked. I topped it off with a little soy sauce for a healthy source of salt and fermented soy.

Nutrition

  • Protein 11g
  • Net Carbs 3.8g
  • Fat 14.1g
  • Calories (I don’t count them but I’ve included for your benefit) 197 Calories

I had this with an organic grass-fed beef stir fry and a kale stir fry with ginger and Bok choy. It was delicious 🙂

Followed by a hot cup of Match Green tea – well worth researching for its health benefits, not mention it tastes rather nice.

Matcha tea

But don’t just take my word for it, do your own research. I’ve provided a few basic links but a simple search will lead you to lots of sites, many with links to published research on these topics.

Be well 🙂