I started writing an article about mindful living and pretty quickly realised that I was not the right person to be doing so. I could talk all day about the actual importance of mindfulness and the biochemical influence that this has on your digestion, hormones, weight, immunity, hormones, mental health, fertility… and the list goes on. But currently I don’t really feel like I am walking the mindful talk. Truly, I haven’t been to yoga in weeks, and I just took my first sick day in 4 years after trying to do way too many things at once, none of them very mindfully (or efficiently!). And I felt that if I preached about mindfulness then I would feel like a fraud. So I asked my lovely friend, fellow naturopath and eco-warrior Ally Stuart to write about it instead because, well, she’s got the walk down pat. She completely embodies mindful living which is evident just by looking at her! I asked her a couple of questions so we could all try and incorporate a little bit of her zen into our own lives…
Tell us, what drew you to naturopathy and the path of natural medicine?
To be honest, I like to think I intuitively picked it. It sounds very “woo woo” but I have no other real explanation. I had a friend who was studying nutritional medicine at the time, and saw a glimpse of the course outline for naturopathy and thought ‘I want to do that’. There is no story where I healed my life with natural medicine. Well, not before I did the course… the healing came later. It has absolutely changed my life and is my life now.
What does mindfulness mean to you?
People love to interchangeably use the words mindfulness and meditation, but I think they are separate. Meditation can be mindful but mindfulness isn’t always meditation. I am not always mindful but I try to bring it to everything I do. It makes me see the beauty in the little things, like focusing in on a hot cup of tea in winter, and seeing the big picture too. It also means being mindful of your effect on others and the planet, not just going by day-to-day without giving things a second thought. It means more than one thing to me.
How do you cultivate mindfulness in your day?
I incorporate meditation daily to bring me back to centre, which helps me bring mindfulness to all I do. I use Meditation with Mish, she is amazing and it’s the only way I finally got into meditation. Definitely limiting screen time is important for me – I find when I’m overusing technology my brain is all over the place, flicking through apps, back and forth – it has such a negative impact on my focus. I use an app called Onward which you can use to block certain apps at certain times in the day, and also to track your usage throughout the day which is pretty eye opening. I used my phone for 4 hours one day – can you imagine what I could have done with that time. I could know Spanish by now! But seriously.
Walk us through your ideal day…
I love doing this because it really shows what I would do in a limitless world. Then I’m like ‘Why the heck aren’t I doing that?’.
I would go for a skinny dip every morning. Spend my morning just painting the walls of my house and blasting music. Then I would pack up an epic lunch and walk up a hill and sit at the top of the hill and eat my lunch. I don’t know why, but I get so curious as to what it would look like at the top of hills. Then maybe on the other side there would be some waterfalls and I would go swimming under those. Then possibly go for a motorbike ride, wait, maybe I would ride to the hill. Then I would go to a nice place for dinner where I can see the sunset with my friends, and talk about some really weird and interesting topics, and some nice music is playing.
What’s coming up next in your world?
I’m on my way to India, to travel but also to do my yoga teacher training. I cannot wait to immerse myself in Ayurvedic medicine, I’m talking shirodhara everyday! I also have a few things in the works for when I get back. Watch this space.
You make the most incredible nourishing elixirs and tonics… Can you share a special recipe with us?
Absolutely! A classic is always hot chocolate. Chocolate tonics are my favourite because cacao dilates all the blood vessels so it helps facilitate all the goodies to your cells, and the recipes are able to be changed really easily depending on what time of day you are having it.
- 1 tbsp of cacao (day) or raw carob (night) powder
- 1 tbsp of coconut oil
- 1 tbsp of coconut butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp of reishi for night time sleepies (reishi is awesome for pre meditation too) or lion’s mane or chaga for day time (start with ½ tsp if you haven’t tried medicinal mushrooms before – I use SuperFeast or Teelixir)
- 1 tsp of cinnamon or 1 drop of cinnamon essential oil. This helps to stabilise my blood sugar while I sleep as dropping too low can actually wake you up during the night or throughout the day so I don’t go reaching for naughty snacks.
- Optional: 1 tsp of turmeric, a few chilli flakes, and the coconut butter is usually sweet enough but if you want that extra sweetness add 1-2 drops of stevia.
- Boil around 400 ml of water.
- Add around 100 ml of cold water to this water – just to make sure the water isn’t too hot and doesn’t burn your delicate raw ingredients.
- Put all your ingredients and water into your blender and blend for 1-2 minutes to get the full creamy goodness. This is key to making a yummy smooth tonic but you can do it over stove top, or I have also been known to shake my tonics by hand.
- This can definitely only be enjoyed in a weird, hand crafted, pottery style mug.
All photos by Ally Stuart