Thursday, April 28, 2011

Eat! #1 Vegi Face

One of the first books I remember reading on yogic lifestyle referred to food.  Right up my alley! Written by the controversial Da Free John it was called The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace.

I've since come to my own philosophies and guidelines for living a spiritually driven life, but never moved one inch from the recognition that a relationship with food IS spiritual and the way we approach it, embrace it, embody it and appreciate it is a spiritual discipline meant to be enjoyed.

I was recently asked to write a regular column for the holistic magazine Vitamin - the premier issue will be launched in August.  My column will offer tips, philosophy and examples of Conscious Eating and it got me thinking - how can I make the juice of this fabulous topic come alive in simple ways that can make an everyday difference to busy multitask-loaded people (like myself :)

I decided to take the next several posts here on Mystic blog and devote myself to the subject through a series called "Eat!"  I'll post some gorgeous pix of fresh fruits and vegis to get you in the mood - then go into tips about how it works for me in my household. I've literally devoted my kitchen life to thrifty, healthy, time saving ideas, and I definitely speak from experience. We've all been through hard times and some of mine are doozies.  My friend Heather reminisced with me the other day and made me laugh out loud.  She said "you can take a nickle, stretch it into a dime and make it look like a quarter."   I didn't realize it was so obvious!! I do have a passion for food though, especially whole grain, organically grown, feel good, great smelling, fabulously nourishing, awesome tasting food - and I can't remember a time when I wasn't devoted to it.

I have also been a busy multitasker since...forever...and some of the go-to qualities I take for granted in slinging food around the kitchen and having it turn out well might be a hard won victory for someone else, so I've decided to share some of what I do.

Comments are totally welcomed!!  I'm here to offer some thoughts and share with you what my own Spring menu is looking like as we go.  I've also got some travel on my calendar, so that will be an interesting perspective...

To get started, these are just some of my own ground rules:
  • mixing prepared foods (canned or jars) with fresh food makes sense
  • always read the labels; if you see preservatives in there, put it down.
  • mixing cooked food with raw food (like salads and fruit) also makes sense
  • mouth feel and texture do matter
  • so does color - the more the merrier!
  • buy a crock pot
  • add veggies whenever and wherever to whatever you can (called "add-ins" - more on that as we go...)
  • if you eat meat, make it the side instead of the main event
  • keep it to fish and fowl for the most part, or consider going veggie for a while
  • educate yourself about complete proteins 
  • if you do go veg... I did for 16 years and I was happy, healthy and strong...check out the attached article from Saavy Vegetarian and others like it:  "Vegans and vegetarians can't help getting all the essential amino acids, through eating different combinations of grains, legumes, nuts & seeds, vegetables & fruit several times throughout the day. Read more...
  • buy fresh - make plenty - freeze liberally
  • forget the concept of "leftovers"... pre-cooked food = "ingredients for the next meal"
  • think like a sous-chef and prepare lots of ingredients at one sitting
  • there is always enough time, enough choice and enough in the budget to eat extraordinarily well
  • if you can make it yourself, you can probably make it better :)
Once you give up the nasty habit of semi-nutritious eating, or plain old bad food eating (God forbid!) your body actually does know what it needs to nourish itself with.

Ok so here are my bon mots for today illustrating the "some prepared/some fresh concept"- as well as the add-ins which boosts interest, nutrition and variety.

Note - never turn on the oven for just one thing.  Scout around for what else you can prepare while the oven is on.

Main meal:
Chicken pieces marinated in a jar of Trader Joes Curry Simmer Sauce. (This sauce is particularly good - but you can find your own version most anywhere in the Thai section of your grocery - or your own cookbook.)

Add-ins - pineapple chunks, green peas and water chestnuts.  Cover and bake.

Brown jasmine rice. Make enough for more than one meal, divide and freeze.

Green salad with pumpkin seeds and raisins.  Oil and vinegar dressing.

Extra in the oven:
Frozen corn with a dab of butter, salt and pepper.  Bake until slightly browned. Unbelievably sweet.

Bonus meal:
Crock pot lentil soup - or stew - depending on how much water you add.

Rinse a bag of lentils, add twice as much water, can of tomatoes, any number of green fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, basil) chopped potato, garlic, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of sriracha hot sauce.  Pass the EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) over the top and go.  Add a splash of red wine vinegar when it's all done and stir around.  Serve with a good fresh grated locatelli romono.

Sage advise for the day:
Know what you can skimp on.  Don't make it the cheese :) 

Bon appetit!

What's on your plate??

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Handling World Events

I love scanning the New York Times online in the morning and taking in whatever dose of world news is tolerable to me at any one sitting...

Today the article I am reading is Japan Nuclear Disaster Put on Par With Chernobyl.

No surprise really. It is one month and one day since the earthquake and tsunami that started it all. Risks are escalating. Conditions are worse than previously reported. The whole world is affected. Not looking good. I don't mean to add to your freak out quotient - but rather to ask a powerful question...

What can we do? What can YOU do?

I know we all feel the same challenge tolerating news of worsening conditions.  How much bad news - how many challenging events - and what new world catastrophe can be absorbed without going into overwhelm or deep sadness or anger or hopelessness or - something.

Why do we react - or push it all away in helplessness or apathy?

We react because we care.

We shut down because we care.

We are bewildered and upset - or vague and apathetic - because we care.

You might hear a world of difference in opinion making regarding what should be done, who should be doing it, how stupid - or smart - we are, who is the villian, who the hero, and whatever else looks a diversity of approach.  Yet I guarantee you from the deepest part of the soul of mankind, we do care, each and every one.

If you are active in relief efforts - sending donations, writing letters, finding a passionate outlet - you may have diffused your own personal agony.

For most of us who are not wearing the hat of President or Minister or Billionaire though, it might seem like our offering is too small...too insignificant to even matter, or try.
Yet I tell you it is necessary that you offer something anyway... and that there is something we all can do successfully. 

So what is that you ask?

Big windup with drumroll...

Activate your sixth chakra and get on board with a simple solution to your own stuckness - and perhaps save the world in the process.

Here's the cliff notes on how the human energy system reacts to stress when viewing life through the lens of energy anatomy - and btw you can practically apply this mini-lesson to any circumstance or issue:

  1. As communal beings dependent from birth, we inherently reach for the idea that somebody will rescue us, and when our beliefs get crushed we feel betrayed. First chakra of the tribe is not the answer to what we can rely on with issues that are out of our control. 
  2. We move to "apathy" when caring becomes overwhelming.  This is second chakra movement away from nourishment and relationship when the nourishment of doing something significant about caring isn't available - therefore we say we "can't care so much anymore." 
  3. We look to ourselves for action and find we are individually powerless to make a difference. Third chakra of Self and the concept "I am able"  is distorted into "I am not able."
  4. We activate fear as faith in our surroundings breaks down. Fourth chakra of the heart. 
  5. We switch to active anger when boundaries are crushed and when we feel powerless with our will to have life be different than it is.  Fifth chakra territory activates, spins and spins and burns us out.
  6. We go back again and again to one or more of the above. 

It is exhausting.

We are playing energy anatomy pinball with the chakras. 

It is exhausting.

Are you exhausted??

Something new must be activated so that you yourself will have some grace and freedom to continue to create and breathe and smile.

Time to send in the special ops - onward to the Sixth Chakra!

On The Monkey Blog, a forum I created for discussing higher consciousness, quantum physics and other fabulous topics, I wrote about the work of Dr. Masuru Emoto and his dynamic water crystal research in the post Healing The Waters of Japan.  Even if you read it, follow me on this one...

You will find exquisite Sixth Chakra work in action.

Read the post and connected links to get more of the back story if you want some interesting mind food, but for now do tuck the exercise below into your Daily Bread Basket...

Dr. Emoto suggests that each of us engages in one achingly simple exercise. 

It is a prayer that  opens the door to the sixth chakra of insight and connectedness.  It affords individual and communal movement in the direction of healing.  It may seem too simple.  You may not recognize the power of something so mystical as a simple prayer - or you may say yes with all your heart!..yet skip the regularity of the action.

My post today is a reminder that this requires action in addition to awareness.

Continuous heartfelt action.

Routine action. 

Bigtime action.

I know, I know - if you're a regular reader you have seen me post this prayer on The Monkey, facebook, twitter, my Newsletter, my emails, and now here again on The Mystic - yet this is the venue that explains why the action itself is so important - and freeing.

Will you do it?

"To all people on the earth, we are water.

Let’s become one by offering love and gratitude to Water...

Water is what connects everything.
(Say to yourself)
I’m sorry,
Please forgive me,
I thank you,
And I love you." 

The brilliance of this simple action is stunning if you recognize the energy anatomy conversation and directional flow that marks it's foundation.  Not only does it activate the Sixth Chakra of insight and focused mind, effectively eliminating the pinball game I described above, but it leads us squarely to the seat of the Seventh Chakra where LOVE is all there is - not just in theory but in practice.

Get onboard kids!

Samadhi here we come!

For whatever support I can give you on the framework of the Chakras and a deeper explanation of the emotional territory, see Fundamentals of Emotional Freedom.  For a greater insight into the energy body pinball game I described, check out Anatomy of a Trauma. Commission a unique Personalized Audio Program scripted and produced for your own individual care and co-creation as the journey unfolds.

Whatever you do, we are all at the point where we must do what we can.

Love and blessings to each of you!  May you feel the relief of movement and energy expressed.

Give a comment and let us know how it works out.


Photo credit: Bob Alba

Monday, April 4, 2011

Nourishing Ourselves

Another installment on the blessings of a meditative mindset...

Last week I led a retreat on Long Island on the beautiful grounds of Planting Fields Arboretum.  The picture above is just a tiny slice of life from their main greenhouse.  Before we gathered in the room I'd set up for our yokibics movement and meditation program, we opened our day in the greenhouse, quietly moving through the different rooms, observing the blooming orchids, the shedding dahlias, the thorny and majestic cactus...feeling the humidity and breathing in the smells that surrounded us.  We participated with conscious awareness in the knowledge that our retreat had begun in the simplest of ways, and it could be nothing special without our full participation and awareness.

It was grand!

Lately I've been noticing more and more of what isn't so grand - weird expressions of "guilt" about being able to stop and smell the roses, as if we are stealing time from more important endeavors - as if we need to do it in secret.  This seems to be combining with an increased amount of pressure from the outside world to get going lickety split! 

I wonder when the pendulum swung so definitively in this direction that it feels normal to be stressed?

I especially love to watch the folks who play the "green light game" as if their lives depended on it.  You know the ones.  You're in your car stopped at a light and your attention wanders out the window for just a moment as you take a breath and look around.  The light turns green and as you bring your gaze back and begin the action to accelerate ... BEEEEEEEPPPPPP!!

Not quick enough apparently.  

Perhaps we need more coffee.  And 5-hour energy drinks. And don't forget the Pepsid...

For those of us at Planting Fields, each one described a feeling of deep satisfaction through the simple act of receiving fully what was already there. 
Once out in daily life, we continue to have the opportunity to nourish ourselves every day through what we see, hear, touch, taste and smell - for nourishment truly is the issue at hand.
One of my favorite topics for illustrating this is to consider the experience of conscious eating.  

In order to get a feel for conscious eating, try the following exercise as you imagine yourself sitting down to a delicious meal...

Relax your body. Unclench and unwind your legs, arms, belly, jaw, neck, back and face.
Deepen your breath… 

When you slow your breath you slow down time.  The meal in front of you is here for you to savor and enjoy.  

Notice if you feel rushed, “starved”, or ready to get going.  Focus instead on your readiness to nourish your body, mind and spirit.  Only your mind says “hurry now and eat…”

You need not have a lot of time; merely the sensation that you have all the time you need.  Slow your inhale, and enjoy this pause in your day. 

Exhale, and let go of all the thoughts and stresses you brought into this moment. …  If there is some aggravation you need to release, do it now before your meal. 

Focus your attention on the ease, family, and friendship surrounding this meal.  It doesn’t matter if you are alone or with others.  You are the favored guest! 

Center on what pleases you. Treat yourself well.  Allow yourself to generate a feeling of appreciation…relax even more deeply.

Lastly, feel your connection to the food you are going to eat, and acknowledge the nutritive value of your meal.

Take another deep breath, and smile.

Approach the nourishing moments in front of you with this frame of reference and you will be well on your way to a happier, more loving, more self-fulfilled you.

How can you find more roses in your day??