Category Archives: Buddhism & Meditation

Health, Happiness and Meditation

As most of you will be aware, I am passionate about meditation. I’ve been attending weekly meditation classes for about seven years now, as well as practising alone at home and in the great outdoors. Since 2010, I’ve also been teaching children’s weekly meditation workshops. Along with the shift towards a 100% plant-based diet, meditation has definitely been key in raising my levels of physical and mental well-being these past few years.

Today, I am delighted to share a guest post from Holly Ashby who works for the London meditation centre, Will Williams Meditation. Holly is a super talented writer, and she’s kindly offered to write a mini introductory series on meditation for Bit of the Good Stuff. We’ll be posting one article per month for the next three months. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do

In today’s post, Holly is talking about some of the benefits of meditation.

Meditation

by Holly Ashby

Continue reading

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Filed under Buddhism & Meditation, Guest Post, Meditation

Spring Break

Today was my last kids’ Buddhist workshop of the Spring term.  I feel so privileged to have been able to spend Wednesday afternoons with such an awesome bunch of children.  Aged between 5 and 10, these children are already so skillful at meditating.  And some of the discussions this term have been so profound that they’ve left me wondering who’s actually teaching who?  I’m sure I’ve learnt as much from them (if not more!) than they have from me.  With children like this around, the future could indeed be very bright

The children also produced some beautiful artwork this term.  Here’s a small selection…

WW Spring Art 2013

Since we’re about to embark on Spring Break, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to do a little work on myself 😉  For the next two weeks, I’m going to unplug (no mobile, iPad, laptop, pc, internet, email, tv) and focus on studying my Buddhist texts, meditating and spending quality time with my boys.

I look forward to catching up with you in a couple of weeks when hopefully I’ll be fully refreshed and revived 🙂

I bid you all a wonderful Spring Break xx

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Filed under Buddhism & Meditation, Holidays

Dharma 4 Kids Festival 2012 & A Chocolate Giveaway!

Hi everyone!

Here’s a few pics that I wanted to share from this year’s Dharma for Kids Festival. We went to this festival for the first time last year and enjoyed it so much that we decided to go again. Lil’ L had been looking forward to it all year!

The festival took place at the beautiful Nagarjuna Centre in Kelmarsh, near Northampton (about a 3-hour drive from Bath).

This place has such a relaxed atmosphere. It’s got a fantastic cafe with an outdoor seating area, where M and I love to sit, chat, and drink cappuccinos while Lil’ L’s busy having fun with his friends 🙂

The theme of the festival was ‘You Before Me‘ and, over the course of the weekend, there were workshop sessions, meditations and activities arranged for the children and teenagers based on the theme of ‘kindness’.

There was a dedicated art marquee where the children could make objects that they would like to see in a ‘Kind World’.

They made marzipan tormas and mandala sets out of paper and coloured rice. Here’s the results of Lil’ L’s torma making…

There was table football, table tennis, a karaoke marquee, bouncy castles, and gladiators.

And lots of opportunities for general larking about.

On the Saturday morning, I got a surprise call from my friend Nicky to tell me that her family were ditching their original plans for the day, and were going to join us instead 🙂 They got in their car and drove for 2+ hours simply to spend the afternoon with us (what total stars they are!) Seeing them at the festival made the weekend even more special for me. I wish I’d taken a few pics but I was way too engrossed in the chat. At that point, photography was the last thing on my mind!

We paid for day passes to the festival (M, Lil’ L and I stayed overnight at the nearby Travel Plaza) and I was happy to find that the passes included all meals. The food was fantastic! All veggie of course, which saved us having to sift through the buffet 😉

On the Sunday afternoon, the children had the option of taking part in a drama session, where they enacted ‘The Giving Tree’. I’m sure my American readers will be familiar with this story, but I’d never heard it before.

Lil’ L’s only encounter with the book till that point had been through reading one of the Wimpy Kid books. Apparently the Wimpy Kid is terrified of the author on the back cover. I have to say, I know what he means! You should have seen Lil’ L’s face when he realised that it was that book!

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‘The Giving Tree is one of those special stories that has very few words, yet leaves a great impression on the reader. I’m sure everyone that reads the story will have their own take on what it’s all about. Seeing that I tend to read everything from a Buddhist perspective, for me, the story is first and foremost a lesson in where happiness truly comes from. I’m sure there’s also some environmental messages in there. Anyway, I’d be interested to know whether you’ve read this story yourself and what you think of it.

The children at the Buddhist festival acted out the story beautifully. Last week I thought that I’d try it with my Wednesday Workshop kids too. We first read the story using a powerpoint version I found on the Internet, then we watched an animated version from YouTube (there’s many version of the story on YouTube but I thought that this one was well suited to the kids in my groups).

We then acted it out. It was a bit manic but the kids were so enthusiastic and had a whale of a time. We decided that a more suitable title for our version would be ‘The Crazy Tree and Mad Boy’!

Since then, we’ve followed on the ‘giving’ theme in our Wednesday Workshops and, this week, after a beautiful meditation, the children made bookmarks to give to a friend or relative, and I gave each of them a cookie 🙂

It’s Giveaway Time!

Continuing with the ‘giving’ theme, I think it’s about time that I gave something away to you, my lovely blog readers. It’s been a while hasn’t it? Does anyone fancy some of my home-made raw chocolate hearts? You do? Well, I would be very happy to share some with you!

There are four ways that you can enter, and each way counts as a separate entry. So, if you enter all four ways, you’ve quadrupled your chances of winning. Happy days!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave me a comment below
  2. Follow me on Twitter (@Goodstuffsharon) and leave a comment below to let me know
  3. Tweet the Giveaway and leave a comment below to let me know
  4. Follow me on Facebook and leave a comment below to let me know

The giveaway is open to everyone, regardless of where you live.

I’ll select a winner at random on Friday, 5th October.

Good luck everyone!

And have a great weekend xx

 

 

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Filed under Buddhism & Meditation

WIAW – I’ll bring the Carrot & Coriander Soup with recipe!


Hi everybody! I hope you’re having a great week so far 🙂

Well Autumn/Fall has definitely arrived here in Bath. It’s amazing how quickly the seasons change. One minute it’s warm, sunny and the mornings are bright. Then suddenly there’s a chill in the air, the sun’s gone and the mornings are dark. I find it so much harder to get out of bed in the mornings when it’s dark and cold!

With the cooler temperatures, I’ve ditched the salad lunches in favour of warming, home-made soup. Nothing beats a bowl of home-made soup on a cold, dark, wet day.

Back at the beginning of term, Lil’ L asked me whether he could start taking soups to school for his lunch. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? We bought him a shiny new stainless steel wide-necked flask, and he now takes soup to school every Tuesday 🙂

When M spied what Lil’ L was having for his Tuesday lunch, he wanted to take soup to work too.  So, for the past few weeks, I’ve got into the habit of making a large batch of soup on a Monday night, which serves us for at least a couple of lunches and/or  ‘starters’ before main dinners during the week.

So that’s another new habit that I’ve ‘fallen into for Fall’ 😉

Time to join the WIAW party! Thanks, as always, to our lovely host Jenn over at Peas and Crayons. For this week’s party, I thought I’d share my eats from yesterday. For once, I’ve actually got a day’s worth of photographs!

Here goes….

Breakfast
Large bowl of muesli, using my ‘pick n mix’ jars of nuts, seeds & dried fruits. Today’s muesli included: barley flakes, wheat flakes, oat flakes, raisins, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, chopped Brazil nuts, walnut pieces, and flaked almonds, onto which I poured some Alpro fortified soya milk. It was lush!

Lil’ L chose to have a mix of home-made granola and shreddies for breakfast; M had porridge with a sprinkling of nuts, seeds and dried fruits from our ‘pick n mix’ jars.

Lunch
For lunch we all had the home-made carrot and coriander soup. I had mine with a sprinkling of lightly toasted pine nuts on top. Lil’ L had sunflower seeds (due to the school’s nut ban). All 3 of us loved the soup! The addition of sweet potatoes made the soup thick, smooth and creamy, perfect for this season!

Here’s how I made it…

During the day, I made some vegan choc chip cookies and raw chocolates for my evening Buddhist class. I might have eaten one of each… purely for control purposes of course 😉

I also made another batch of these choc chip cookies for the kids in my meditation class today, and they got great feedback 🙂

The raw chocolates actually looked much better than in this photo (which is an old pic). They were super smooth and shiny. By the time I’d made them the light was appalling, so I didn’t even attempt to take a photo of them. Dodgy lighting is something that I’m going to have to contend with for the next few months!

Drinks
Lots of herbal teas today to warm me up…. Twinings Cherry & Cinnamon tea, Clippers Organic Nettle tea and Clippers Organic Mint & Nettle tea; 1 cup of coffee; water

After School Snacks
Lil’ L had one of the choc chip cookies, and we both had a large glass of berry smoothie milkshake. From what I recall, I made this one with a cup of frozen strawberry slices, 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries, 1 1/2 cups fortified Kara coconut milk, 1/2 cup Alpro natural soya yoghurt, 1 tbsp chia seeds (for an omega 3 boost), and a drizzle of organic agave syrup. Thanks to the frozen fruit, this one was like an ice cream shake. It was super creamy.

Dinner
At the beginning of September, I said that I was going to start meal planning in order to get a bit more organised in the kitchen. This still hasn’t happened! Since January, we’ve been on a ‘zero food waste’ mission, so I find that the evenings meals tend to be determined by what needs using up in the fridge, followed by what we actually fancy eating. I’m sure I could combine meal planning with zero food waste, but I haven’t had the time to get my head round that one yet!

After a quick scan of the fridge and the array of vegetables that desperately  needed using up, I made a veggie korma (based on this recipe). We served it on a bed of brown rice and Lil’ L had some toasted wholegrain tortilla slices to dip into it (I found the tortillas at the back of the fridge too!)

Dessert
For dessert, we had a mango hedgehog.

Before I dashed out to my class, I also gave them a raw choc heart each 🙂

Evening munchies
On Tuesday evening, I attended a special Buddhist ceremony called a ‘Puja’ which involved a food offering.

After a wonderful evening of prayers, meditation and visualisations, we had a little party and got to sample the wonderful food offerings. Even though I’d already eaten a ton of food today, it would have been rude not to take a plate… or two 😉  I stuck to the savoury bites and fruits, all of which were totally scrummy!

So that’s me done for another WIAW! I’m off to check out all the yummy eats over at Jenn’s 🙂

Enjoy the rest of the week everyone xx

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Filed under Breakfast & Elevenses, Buddhism & Meditation, Dinners

Lake District Camping, Mountain Biking & NKT International Buddhist Festival

We last camped three years ago. The three of us spent five nights squashed in my ‘3 man’ tent in the Lake District. It rained a lot, the tent leaked, I woke up to find my pillow was soaking wet and vowed that I would never camp again.

Three years later, here I am again, camping in the Lake District. It wasn’t exactly my preferred choice of accommodation but it was super cheap and all the B&Bs in the area were full (yep, as usual, I left planning to the last minute). 

We borrowed our friend’s slightly bigger tent and pitched it in the middle of a farmer’s field. After a night of relentless rain, I woke up to find that the rain had flooded in on my side of the tent and I was laying in a pool of water. You see, me & camping just don’t get along 🙁

But, despite the less than favourable camping experience, we had a fantastic time in the Lakes. Me & Lil’ L had a very special day at the NKT International Buddhist Festival in Ulverston. Thousands of people from all over the world attended the festival and the atmosphere was incredible. Everyone was so friendly. I never seen so many smiley faces 🙂

A lovely diary of the festival with video clips and photos is available at http://kadampafestivals.org/summer-2012/.

While we were at the festival, M went mountain biking. He had a fantastic day of exhilarating riding and beautiful scenery. 

Here are some of his favourite shots of the day…

When the three of us met up at the end of the day, we were buzzing from our experiences and had lots to chat about over dinner.  For our evening meals, we went to Ambleside which has an array of restaurants and cafes with menu options for vegetarians and vegans.

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 This small town has two highly popular vegetarian/vegan restaurants – Zeffirellis and Fellinis – and we sampled the menus in both.

The food was fantastic, especially in Fellinis. There are three dishes in particular that I’d like to try and re-create at home:
–  Sweet potato, broccoli and lentil sambar served with coriander and lime flatbread
– Chestnut, leek and wild mushroom filled pastry with baby roasted vegetables (Lil’ L loved this)
– Sweet potato and chickpea tagine with lemony couscous

We’re now back in the South where it’s actually been hot and sunny for a couple of days. It’s been perfect weather for the start of the Olympics. Let’s hope it continues!

I hope you’re having a great summer wherever you are. And if you’re camping somewhere in the UK, make sure you don’t forget your waterproofs. Next time I’m going to take waterproof pyjamas. Knowing my luck, I’ll need them 😉

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Filed under Biking, Buddhism & Meditation, Dinners, Vacations