The Beginner’s Guide to Journaling – 3 simple steps to develop a journaling practice

A Mindful Mantra's Beginner's Guide to Journaling

I never imagined that I would ever be one to keep a journal. I remember as a child and teenager trying time and time again to write in a journal. All my friends seemed to have journals, and I wanted so badly to be into journaling. The thing is, I just wasn’t.

I would write for a day or a week at a time and then abandoned yet another cute, colorful journal. Each entry was something like this… “Dear Journal, Today is [enter any date between 1998 and 2008]. Girl A wore spandex leggings under her skirt last week. She is super cool. Everyone is wearing spandex legging under their skirts now. I did it too today. I think I looked cool, maybe not, who knows. (Editor’s Note – Little did I know years later my job would consist of wearing spandex leggings and a tank top every day). Boy A is so cute. I like Boy A, but everyone says he likes Girl A – lame. Girl A is so pretty and popular. Am I pretty and popular…who knows?”

I think you catch my drift. It was a rambling of whatever happened throughout the day. The way that I journal as an adult is nothing at all like this – and that’s exactly why journaling has become one of my favorite self-care activities. A recent journal entry of mine sums up perfectly why I now love keeping a journal…. Continue reading →

Overnight Oats

A Mindful Mantra Overnight Oats

This is the ultimate quick and easy breakfast recipe. I discovered Overnight Oats a few years ago when I had a long early morning commute to work each day. I was in need of a simple grab-n-go breakfast. Overnight Oats were perfect. I could prepare them the night before and have them ready to go in the morning. So easy and delicious.

Today I’m bringing you a great overnight oats recipe that can be tailored to include your favorite ingredients. We’re starting simple with oats, milk, and raisins – and I’m leaving the toppings up to you! My go-to toppings are more raisins, a bit of honey, sliced almonds, and fresh berries. Though, the topping choices are endless – some other favorites are maple and brown sugar, cocoa and banana, and berries and greek yogurt. Continue reading →

8 Things I Learned from Ashtanga Yogi David Williams

David Williams Workshop - A Mindful Mantra
Photo Credit: Kathy McNames, Yoga Vermont

Last week I participated in a yoga workshop with David Williams, the man who brought Ashtanga yoga from India to America in the 1970′s. David learned the Ashtanga sequence directly from Pattabhi Jois, the creator of Ashtanga Yoga. David is close friends with my teacher Kathy McNames, Owner of Yoga Vermont, and I had heard a lot about him over the years. Though, practicing with him was so much greater than I could have ever imagined. David’s approach to Ashtanga Yoga, and yoga in general, is so simple and welcoming. Today I’m bringing you 8 things I learned from Ashtanga Yogi David Williams.

1. Yoga is meditation. Meditation is the space between the thoughts.

The physical practice of yoga is about cultivating a state of meditation. The point of yoga is not to stand on our heads, it’s to ease the mind and alleviate pain in the body. With enough practice the physical asanas of yoga actually become a state of moving meditation.

2. Meditation is not something you do. It’s the consequence of what you’ve done.

One doesn’t have to sit in lotus with their eyes closed every morning to meditate. This is, in fact, not the only way to meditate. By practicing physical asanas, mindfulness, and kindness to others (among other things), we can begin to live in a meditative state. We become more aware, more present. We can be here now. So if seated meditation works for you, do it. If it doesn’t, find another form of meditation that works. A few of my favorites are hiking, nature walks, warm baths, reading outdoors, and dancing to music in my living room. Like David Williams said, “I don’t have to meditate to meditate.” Continue reading →

Coconut Almond Wheat Berry Bowl

A Mindful Mantra's Coconut Almond Wheatberry Bowl

Breakfast or dessert – Why decide, am I right?! I first made this Coconut Almond Wheat Berry Bowl for dessert at our weekly potluck dinner with our friends. It proved to be a great success, but I made twice as much as we actually needed. The next morning as I was scouring the refrigerator for healthy breakfast options my eyes locked on the leftovers of this delicious dish. That’s when I discovered that this Coconut Almond Wheat Berry Bowl has two faces – sweet and savory breakfast delight, and super tasty and healthy dessert. That’s a win win in my book.

Before I went gluten-free I was absolutely in love with wheat berries. They are a hearty whole grain that serves well hot or cold. Wheat Berries are the entire kernel of wheat, minus the hull. This whole grain is cooked similar to rice and is chewy in texture and nutty in flavor. I absolutely love the chewy texture of wheat berries. It’s unlike any other grain that I’ve come across.

In the past I’ve always had wheat berries dishes that were prepared with fresh veggies and seeds and served cold as a side dish to sandwiches or backyard barbecue dishes. Being that I have sweet tooth and a sweet love for breakfast foods, I wanted to find a fun way to use wheat berries for a naturally sweetened breakfast. This Coconut Almond Wheat Berry Bowl does just that! Continue reading →

You Are The Love of My Life, But You Do Not Complete Me

A Mindful Mantra

I am in love with a magnificent man. He is one of the greatest men that I have ever met. I love him to the very depths of my being, but he does not complete me. And, he never will.

I loved once when I felt incomplete. I was 19, had just moved three hours from my family, and had no idea who I was or what I wanted in life. When a strikingly handsome, kind man with a witty sense of humor appeared in my life, I let him complete me. I had no idea who I was alone, so my sense of self quickly became defined by his presence in my life. With him I felt whole. With him I knew who I was.

I am forever grateful for his presence in my life and the love that we shared, but I have never been so broken as when our love story ended. The dependency and neediness I felt in that relationship was unlike anything I had ever experienced. My whole perception of life was dependent on him and the love he gave to me. Though he never asked for such responsibility, he determined my happiness, my sadness, my smiles, and my tears. Each thought, each sentence included his name.

He was my lesson learned. His love, and my losing it, has shaped the woman that I am today.

Not long after our relationship tanked, so did my health. Several months after our break-up I was sitting alone in a depressing doctor’s office when I was told that I had thyroid cancer. It was then, at 20 years old, that I chose to live. I chose to be whole and complete. I chose to kick cancer’s ass…alone.

On that sunny, July day nearly 5 years ago it all became so clear. Neither his love, nor his presence I my life could make my cancer disappear. I stopped wishing for his return. I stopped the cycle of helplessness and despair that ensued after our break-up. If I was going to be healthy, he could no longer be the center of my life. That sacred place, it’s reserved for me. Continue reading →