On Mindfulness & Thoughts like Popcorn

Does anyone love popcorn as much as I do?

Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.

~ John Muir

Ever tried to meditate?

As in, sitting quietly, breathing mindfully (no where to go, nothing to do), clearing your mind of your thoughts? It’s a giant challenge, and one I don’t do often enough for sure.

Now imagine in that harried moment a boisterous loud popcorn popper, bubbling over with abundant, freshly popped (thoughts) and corn. Many of you might relate to this as we try to slow the pace of our minds, and the thoughts that keep ‘popping’ faster as we try harder to slow them down.

Eventually, if you sit long enough, those popcorn thoughts will slow down. Eventually, with practice, they do stop.

“Stress is caused by being in the now but wanting to be in the future, reducing the present to a means to an end.”

– The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

I don’t think I know a soul in this life who doesn’t benefit from taking some time to slow down, to breathe, and to simply be.

With that, I dedicate today’s post to popcorn, and to mindfulness.

Quiet. Peaceful. Present.

Pardon me for the (perhaps even slightly corny, okay, alot!) metaphoric post, but I couldn’t help it!

Popcorn is a long time personal favorite and I think it can help anyone wanting to practice mindfulness in a few small ways.

First of all, if you are an avid snacker, then it is likely you already know the virtues of being the proud and shrewd owner of a popcorn popper.

Last I checked, you can pick one up for about $20. Popcorn poppers don’t break, or require any cleaning, or take up any space (really) either.

They produce fresh, warm, and good-for-you popcorn in minutes.

Popcorn is literally the cheapest snack on earth – last I checked in it clocked at less than a quarter or so per large batch (to satisfy 2-3 people), and it also happens to be the healthiest, too.

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

– Omar Khayyám

So, if you love snacking, chances are you love popcorn (though I have met those who detest it).

Fresh popped is far superior to anything microwaved (in taste, economic, waste, and health factor), and also gives fried, salted, and over-processed snacks like bagged and boxed chips a serious run for their money.

So, if you don’t have a popper yet, they can be found easily at a bigger drug store, or cookshop.

I buy large bags of popcorn at a time a store it in a jar for easy access and scooping. My girls adore it, and so do I.

Many a meal has been made of popcorn, carrot sticks, and re-run marathons of Friends. Precisely why we *sometimes* look forward to the husband’s business trips.

But we don’t tell him that. We wouldn’t want to upset anyone now, would we?! 😉

Hope is a waking dream.
~ Aristotle

The Less:

Less salted, fried, and packaged snacks, means less salt, oil, fat and empty, fattening foods in your life. Less worry about snacking means more enjoyment of those moments, and less guilt later about cravings, snacking, and eating in general. Less cost and less prep means snacking well is super easy, just breathe deep while it pops, and remember to stay present (or not).

The More:

More clean eating snack food means worry is banished. More tasty clean toppings means fresh flavor is abundant. More fresh homemade snack foods means the grocery snack aisles are history, and more high fiber popcorn means 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

Homemade Popcorn:

  • (1) electric Popcorn Popper
  • (1) scoop popcorn kernels (organic if possible)
  • (3-4) tbsp olive oil (feel free to also use melted butter)
  • sea salt to taste
  • other toppings to taste: nutritional yeast, chile powder, chile flakes, seasoning salt, black pepper, tamari, garlic powder…what are your faves?

Start by plugging in the popper and heating it for a minute or so to get it ready. Get a large clean bowl ready. Add the popcorn kernels, breathe deeply….exhale. Breathe deeply again……..exhale. Repeat until the popcorn starts popping! Add the oil in small bits as the popcorn comes out (yes, it is very interactive) – this will ensure even coating of all the kernels as best as you can.

Add your salt and seasonings as you add the oil. Once the thoughts, er, popcorn, are done cascading from the mouth of the popper, unplug and take one last mindful deep breath (or not).

Mix all with your hands. Choose your favorite show or movie, and enjoy!

Of course, if you don’t eat a lot of salt, or oil, or butter, you can eat popcorn completely naked too. It’s still delicious.

You can use one or all of these.

Sea salt,  nutritional yeast, olive oil.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”

― Thich Nhat Hanh

You can also try these: chili flakes, garlic powder, and seasoned salts of all kinds.

Another one of my favorite bloggers also tipped me off to one of her favorite childhood snacks a while back. I’ve yet to try this (mostly because I think it will be just too good), but she grew up enjoying cubes of sharp cheddar cheese cubes in her popcorn – thanks to Sharyn at thekalechronicles for that tip – one of these days I am surely trying that as the kids will love it, that I am sure! 

Have any of you enjoyed popcorn this way?

The power of imagination makes us infinite.

~ John Muir

Enjoy popcorn well, and revel in the simplicity of such an easy and economical way to scratch the snack itch.

After all that mindful deep breathing (or not), make sure to check in that you are not mindlessly scarfing the fruits of your labor. I think popcorn has an ever so valuable added layer of benefit for us – to make sure we are staying in the present moment long after the popper stops and we sit down eat it.

The present piece, the present bite, the present laugh.

I have observed this from years of popcorn eating experience, of course! 😉

“Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.”

― Louis L’Amour

That was a moment (or two) well enjoyed.

“The real pleasure,the real peace,  the real enlightenment is to give. The more you give the more you get. If you give 10, you get 100.”

– Bikram Choudhury

  • Are you a popcorn fan too?
  • What are your favorite popcorn toppings?
  • How do you meditate or stay mindful?

I’d love to share with you on this as it is a matter very dear to me (both popcorn and mindfulness), I’m always looking for ways to improve my ability to practice and enjoy both!

Let us know and share your tips if you will! Here’s wishing you all a super wonderful weekend!

Yours in Less,


Filed under Cheap, Children, Cooking, Family, Food, Lifestyle, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetarian

70 responses to “On Mindfulness & Thoughts like Popcorn

  1. I love homemade popcorn and you’re right, it’s far superior. I make mine in a pot on the stove, though – saved the cost of having to buy a popper. I’ve considered adding chili powder as seasoning, but haven’t actually tried it. Next time I will now that I’m not the only one thinking it might be good!

    • Awesome! For some reason I’ve always been super shy to cook it on the stove top – one of these days I’ll try it as I have friends who do it this way too! I love how anything goes on popcorn depending on the mood! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  2. I can totally relate to this post! Whenever I try to quiet my mind, it seems I have a million thoughts suddenly spilling over! I am getting better at quieting them though 🙂

    I used to hate popcorn- I worked for a video rental place called Jumbo Video when I was younger that served popcorn for free to customers and I started to hate the smell. But that time has passed and now I’m obsessed with it! Any flavour it good by me 🙂 Don’t have a popper though, jealous!

    Have a lvey weekend Shira 🙂 xox

    P.S. Love that quote by Eckhart Tolle. I’m writing it down!

    • Oh, that’s a great story! I am so glad you overcame the aversion – are you a stove top popper too? Geez, I am definitely going to have to try it, how do you do it without oil? I am so weird about not wanting to heat the oil….I’d love a tip or two!
      Glad you liked the quote too! Xox 🙂

  3. madisoncary

    great post shira! i love the comparison of mindfulness and thoughts and popping popcorn. so good. 🙂 i think it is so important to disconnect sometimes and actively tell ourselves to live in the present moment. we experience so much more of life that way!

    my husband and i LOVE popping our own popcorn! we do this in place of dessert a lot! just a little oil, sea salt and raw sugar, and you’ve got some yummy homemade kettle corn that is SO much better for you!

    • Thanks Madison! That kettle corn sounds crazy good – love it sweet too – we used to add maple syrup (a little crazy expensive) – love this suggestion!
      Happy you enjoyed the corny little comparison 🙂 it’s fun sometimes, even if it is (just a little) dorky! xo!

      • “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – THAT is my quote for today. Totally.

        As ever, your beautiful and colourful post is a burst of positive energy, even half a world away. Thanks, S

        Love Madison’s idea for popcorn as an after dinner treat… I think I’ll try that when we get home.

        Have a fab’ weekend. 🙂

      • Oh thanks J! I hope you love every moment of your time in NZ, and as always it is my humble pleasure to share with you – it is made all the more meaningful that our words make an impact from even a great distance! And also a reminder that good long distance friendships are alive, well, and totally possible! 🙂 speak soon! Xo!

  4. pop pop popping in to say hello! love popcorn! never thought of adding chili flakes….just used hot sauce instead! have a wonderful weekend, shira! 😀

  5. I’ve never meditated and I never will – my brain requires stimulation or I simply get annoyed. I’m not a very stressed person at all. I do a lot of reading whilst looking out over the sea, or sitting on grass etc… I suppose that’s my meditative process. You relly don’t need an electric popper for this by the way – I hate giving tips on other people’s blog, it seems very condescending (I really don’t mean it like that, simply as another method to your perfectly good one – we used to have an electric popper). To do it on the hob simply heat up however much popcorn you want in a little oil, once the first one pops put the lid on and shake until they don’t pop no more (grammatical errors undertaken on purpose, I wouldn’t like to tarnish my image…).

    Feel proud, I believe this is the longest comment I have ever written – testament to how much I like your blog.

    • Ha! You’re hilarious! You? Condescending? Never! Turns out a lot of folks are super pro stove top popcorn poppers…my folks (back to landers as they were) always used a popper…I think I’ve always been a little afraid of the hot oil – but must try it soon (you are also the 3rd commenter who does it!)..love your instructions (complete with grammatical errors ;)! I’ll let you know!!
      Feeling proud (*blushing*)….great almond cake today by the way! It looks amaze amaze!! I am crazy impressed!
      Now there is a long response…:)

    • Also, I like your meditation style too. I’m a pretty brutal meditator too, but I am always trying!

      • Thanks for the jolly good reply, Shira! Oh, and thanks for the cake compliment – it was SO yummy.

      • I would have loved a piece of that 🙂

      • Both of you are making me laugh. I’m horrible at meditating, but I try. The last ten minutes of yoga always feel like torture to me… And I don’t have a popper, but now I must find some local corn and give this stove top popping a try… Thank you both~ popcorn and almond cake might be snacks for the coming week 😉 Eckhart Tolle quote- thank you, Shira 🙂

  6. Loving your post and a lover of the popcorn:) Have a Great Weekend!

  7. Totally apt analogy! Popcorn is indeed my mind just as I (totally ready for major Zs) lay down my head to sleep. Mediation and I are on shaky terms – but I do try now and again. Maybe I’ll just have a bowl of popcorn tonight instead!

    • It is so hard to meditate – as in the actual practice – I did hit a yoga retreat a year ago and much of the weekend focused on the breath. After 2 days (that I was positive would never end), I felt incredible!! Hard to incorporate in life though, so hard! And popcorn is so tasty..!

  8. So sorry I didn’t save you any, Shira.

    • I guess that leaves to make it then, doesn’t it?! I’ll keep you posted..I’ll be using real egg – you actually have your own chicken? I kind of want one too. That is super cool.

  9. I love popcorn. My popcorn machine is a yellow dinosaur called the “Pop-osaurus: – the popcorn comes out his mouth. It’s pretty awesome.

    • That sounds crazy awesome. Man, I’d like to see that! Really, I would – I wish there was a way commenters could post photos 🙂 happy Friday Lou! Xo!

  10. We love popcorn too! I think we made it (on the stove) 4 or 5 nights a week when I was growing up. Now we go the easier route of an air popper. I like mine with nutritional yeast, the kids like it with cinnamon sugar. I’ll have to make some for eating while watching Deadwood tonight!

    • Awesome! Sounds like the perfect Friday night! I’m intrigued by the cinnamon sugar – just a mixture of the two? Sounds lovely!

      • Yep, just a mixture of the two (1/2 cup sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon) that we keep in a shaker to put on buttered toast and popcorn.

      • Awesome! I’m doing that as soon as I get back – you’ve got to love technology as I write this from the just boarded plane. Too simple – why have I not done this before? Thank you!!

      • It was a favourite childhood indulgence. That, and occasional chocolate sprinkles on toast – my german nanny used to put those on toast for me. Mmmm..

      • We had cinnamon toast too! We would sprinkle it on butter and honey..come to think of it I remember the sprinkles too, but only in the ‘other’ (better in our eyes!) houses, that had more treats than ours 😉 !

  11. tactlessgracewriting

    I adore fresh popcorn, and it’s so much fun to make. I have definitely done all the suggestion, cheese, cinnamon, hot sauce…I’ve always wanted to try fresh herbs like cilantro with maybe queso fresco for a mexican type popcorn- or curry powder with peanut for thai? that would be delicious I bet. Love the blog and the healthy living 🙂

    • I think you just might be onto something….cilantro popcorn? With a little ancho chile powder..I think that might be the best suggestion yet – and curry too awesome! Thanks for stopping by – and thanks for reading! Comments like yours make my day! 🙂

  12. Popcorn is my favourite snack! We make it on the stove and for some reason, it tastes better (at least in our opinion). We’ve put smoked paprika, parmesan cheese, chilli powder, and sea salt on it. What kind of taste does nutritional yeast add to the popcorn?

    In my opinion, this is the best pot to use to make stove-top popcorn: http://www.cheap-bastid-cooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/popcorn-popping-in-old-pan.jpg

    • I love your link – thanks! Second reco for smoked paprika – I am adding to my shopping list for sure! Yeast is really great and adds a very cheezy (I imagine like parmesan) texture to the batch – it’s awesome, and my kids adore it 🙂 Another pitch for the stovetop – I think you guys are outnumbering us poppers! xo!

  13. what a beautiful and creative post Shira! I LOVE popcorn 🙂 I’m usually eating it in the movies though! Meditation for me is getting slightly easier in yoga class, if the heat isn’t overwhelming. Deep breathing is the key 🙂 The Louis L’Amour quote reminds me of something my yoga teacher said today – not thinking about the future will diminish anxiety. So true. It’s all about the moments 🙂 Have a great weekend! (PS great food shots)

    • Thanks Marina! I do love the meditation of movement in Bikram’s, and one of my fave challenges in class is when you have to clear the mind to be fully present in the postures (and stay calm in that heat!) – can you tell I miss it?! One day! PS – I added that Bikram quote just for you! 🙂 xo!

      • Shira, how did I miss that Bikram quote? That wasn’t there yesterday was it cos I remember thinking, ‘i really like that last quote’ but it was the l’amour one 🙂

      • I think you know it by osmosis, your mind absorbs it without even realizing it! That’s a real Bikram yogi! 😉 xo!

      • ha! ok, I’ll leave it to that then Shira 😉 I did my class today and was so trying to think about nothing, and I feel accomplished that there were pockets of pure meditation. It was really cool 🙂 I think your post had a bit of an osmosis effect too 🙂

      • Yay! That makes me happy 🙂 I’m about to head out for a long run – I’ll hope to coast on your meditative pockets too! I’ll channel that as I am really looking forward to getting outside 🙂 Enjoy the bliss! xo!

  14. Popcorn is such a treat for me. My bf (who lives interstate) makes a big batch for our movie nights when I fly down to visit. I top mine with a bit of sea salt and a dash of apple cider vinegar…so good! And nice to know that it’s healthy too 🙂

    • Awesome Sarah – I love the idea of cider vinegar – yum! I’ll be trying that – you’ve got a great BF to be making you popcorn! Happy Saturday! 🙂

  15. Karina Inkster

    Unique and creative post! I, too, love popcorn. I make it on the stove in a large dutch oven with olive oil added to coat the bottom. I find this method adds so much flavour you’re missing out on with an air popper – you gotta try it! Top secret tip: throw in 3 kernels to start. Once they pop, you know it’s heated up enough to add the rest.
    I like my popcorn plain, or with a bit of sea salt and melted margarine, and/or nutritional yeast. Do you use smoked paprika? Man I love that stuff so much – I think I may have to try it on popcorn. Which I’m making tomorrow thanks to your post!
    As for mindfulness, with our larger apartment I now have space for a zen corner next to my office area: meditation cushion, essential oil burner, and lots of natural light. This will definitely mean more meditating! Right now it’s happening only every few days, but I’d like to work up to daily.

    • Thanks Karina for the awesome response! Wow, I am crazy impressed with your commitment to meditation – that’s amazing (I am slightly envious):)
      Enjoy the popcorn today! I love the idea of smoked paprika – going to have to get me some! And great three kernel tip – that’s awesome! xo!

  16. I had popcorn for dinner tonight, Shira, before I read this. We have an air popper, but I find that it produces a lot more widows than when I pop corn in a pan on the stove and lately I am missing the stove-popped corn of my childhood (which we ate with slices of cheese, by the way, rather than cubes), We also sometimes ate it with butter and Parmesan. I’ve never heard thoughts during meditation compared to popcorn before (mine are a little slower than that) — it’s a good analogy.

    • Wow – that’s a crazy coincidence Sharyn! Given the response here, I think it is high time I try the stovetop method – so funny I’ve never done it on my own! I like parmesan addition too – and will go for slices, not cubes 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

  17. biggsis

    What a lovely blog you have! I enjoy the tone and the pace – you’ve managed to make it somewhat restful to read your blog. We have been practicing meditation as part of our home Sunday morning service. My 11 year old is actually finding the ability to be quiet and still. Awesome. I do like popcorn, although I confess I have been known to slip some sugar in the oil to make homemade kettle corn. Very tasty. Going to try nutritional yeast flakes next time. That sounds good!

    • Thanks for that lovely comment Lisa! I am so glad you stopped in – (and maybe found a little rest or respite!) – I hope you’ll visit again!
      I like the sounds of a weekly meditation – and good for your 11 year old, that is impressive!
      I am so up for trying sweet popcorn next time *perhaps* even on the stove top, as I think I might just be missing out (just a little). 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  18. I haven’t had homemade popcorn in years, but you have inspired me to bust out my old popper! Thanks for sharing!

  19. I adore homemade popcorn! The taste is so much better than the boxed. And for me the biggest treat is a dash of white truffle oil and a glass of wine. Dinner! LOL!

    • Thanks Karista! Anyone who digs popcorn and wine for dinner is a friend o’ mine!! Love the truffle oil too – another GF of mine commented about that too – going to have to get some! xo

  20. Ooops! pressed the button before I was finished and wanted to say… a lovely post as always!

  21. My friend and I had some truffle popcorn last week and it was SO good! I can’t get it out of my head!!!!! You make it look so fantastic here 🙂

  22. Home-made popcorn is phenomenal! I don’t buy the pop in the bag stuff any more – it tastes too fake. I love it plain or with a little season salt or chili powder.

    Great reflection on our thoughts being like those little kernels waiting to pop. So often as soon as I try to quiet my mind, the thoughts decide to erupt. It’s frustrating and hard to wait them out, but if you let them pass, eventually that quiet mindfulness does come.

    • Thanks Sarah – you are so right – they do go away with enough persistance, for those of us who are so busy it is a big challenge, but so worth the effort 🙂 Thanks for the visit! 🙂

  23. I make my popcorn in a pot on the stove, the addition of olive oil is life changing! It is SO good!

    • Another vote for the stovetop Brit – you guys are changing the way I do popcorn! I’ll be reporting back – for sure! 🙂 Hope you had a great weekend!

  24. Shira…great analogy, popcorn and the unwanted ever-rising thoughts during mediation! I may never forget it. You sang the praises of the humble lovely corn so well. My favorite ways – good olive oil – and/or with a scattering of pecorino romano, or with a bit of truffle salt. Our popcorn maker in the fashion of a whirlybird but “country popcorn”…durable friend in time of need! (and I so get what you mean about husbands are taken away on business? I mean what does that really Leave us But popcorn? 🙂 )

    • Ha! Yes Spree, totally! It’s nice to take a break and let the popper do all the work 🙂 loving the sound of truffle salt – yum! Happy Monday my friend – thank you! Xo!

  25. Love this post Shira. I find it so hard to live in the present (so my mum is always telling me)! I think it comes from living in a fast-paced city, being brought up to always aspire to do better, and being part of the ‘have it all’ generation. I often find myself either feeling nostalgic for times gone by, or thinking that the grass must be greener elsewhere and striving to achieve/attain things that I feel are missing from my life instead of appreciating all the wonderful things I am lucky enough to do/have already. That’s sort of why I started my blog I suppose… to remember to look for happiness in my everyday life, instead of picking things apart and feeling dissatisfied. Thanks so much for reminding me why I’m doing it! 🙂

    • Oh Tess! You have no idea how happy this comment made me – I am the same in so many ways and started blogging for the reasons…for those of us fortunate to live the lives we do, we can find so much more by appreciating each moment and living in the now – you just summed it up perfectly 🙂 a great way to start the week, thank you! Xo!

  26. What a funny coincidence! I had popcorn for dinner last night . . . it being exam week, going out and finding ‘real’ food wasn’t high on my priority list. I enjoyed it with salt and oil spray, but I’ve been wanting to put my nutritional yeast on it!

    I also love the idea of the spicier popcorn–yum! I essentially just love it in every form. This past summer, I would heat down sugar with a bit of water and honey into a caramel and make salty sweet popcorn as a treat for me and my sister. Salty, buttery-esque popcorn with dark chocolate chips and Kashi Go lean cereal . . . swoon. One of my favorites.

    Great post!

    • Oh thanks! Turns out there are more than a few of us who enjoy a good popcorn dinner! 🙂 Loving the sounds of that sweet version – I’m going to be writing it down with all of these amazing suggestions! Who knew there were soooo many ways to enjoy it?! Awesome!

  27. Thanks for this! Very encouraging. I’ve tried meditating, different relaxation techniques, etc, but always end up more stressed out than when I started because I can’t still my mind! Perhaps I just give up too soon. My favorite way to eat popcorn — heat peanut butter and some sugar in the microwave, melt some chocolate chips, and then drizzle this over the popcorn. Maybe not too healthy, but delicious of course. 🙂

    • Sounds incredible! Especially after a loooong run! Thanks Becca – keep us posted if you make any progress, I for one would love to hear how it goes! xo!

  28. I love your Eckhart Tolle quote from the Power of Now- it’s one of my favorite books. Such an appropriate topic to go with making popcorn (I am in no way being sarcastic)! I haven’t made popcorn since I was a kid. I think I need to go find myself a popper! 🙂

    • Oh thanks! I am happy you get the *corny* metaphor, I am prone to them so it’s reassuring to know my readers don’t mind too too much! It looks like from the comments here it’s just as well to try the stovetop method – I think I am going to give that a go soon! xo! S

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