“Verily, this person consists of the essence of food.”

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Since I started seriously practicing Yoga, not just as a physical practice but as a practice of the way I live, I noticed my entire physical being change. It was strange, I realized, “Hey, I’m getting older in the clock world, but from the time I started practicing yoga as a lifestyle, my physical body (feeling at least, wrinkles are a beautiful sign of sunshine and laughter!) and mind has become younger and more able to deal with day to day situations. I could better do back bends, I could forward fold a littler deeper, and I could focus a lot better during my asana practice.

I may have a bias, coming from a mother who is a dietician and always being completely obsessed with the human body, but, I contribute much of this to the food I take in. This is part of the Yogic practice and a fairly sacred thing to most other cultures than the United States. Something else I believe is that we become what we eat, both on a simple level (if we eat a lot of fat, we will be fat, and so on) and on a much more subtle, energetic level, which I feel most deeply when I do eating meditations.

In Yoga, Ahimsa is one of the Yamas, a moral restraint. Ahimsa means nonviolence, nonviolence in thought, word, or deed. With that being said, I feel that if a cow’s baby is taken in order for it to keep giving milk, and violated by having metal objects draw the milk from it’s utters, the same as a woman’s breast to feed her child, then that energy transfers through that milk and not only am I taking part in a violent process but I am also taking in the negative energy that that cow experienced. Same goes for a chicken who never gets to roam free or has its eggs taken away.

Now, say that last paragraph is just not where you are at. You are just doing the best you can do get by in life in the way that you know is right. You are like, “Hey! I just want to know a healthy recipe!” That’s ok too, because we are all in our own process and reality that we create! I just wanted to offer this piece from my perspective.  There is a wonderful cookbook that offers recipes that are very healthy and good for the soul; really, the point of this post is to offer that up to anyone looking to alter their insides and live a healthier lifestyle. Along with tons of super yummy recipes, it offers some perspective from Yoga and eating clean as to improve daily life.

“In yogic philosophy, the mind is formed from the subtlest portion or essence of food. If the food taken in is pure, the mind has the proper building materials for the development of a strong and subtle intellect and a good memory. A yogic diet brings inner peace to the body and mind and encourages spiritual progress.

All of Nature, in including our diet, is categorized into three qualities, or Gunas: sattvic (pure), rajasic (overstimulating), and tamasic (purified). A persons mental makeup may be judged from the type of food he or she prefers to eat. Yogis believe not only that “you are what you eat,” but also you eat those foods that reflect your own level of mental and spiritual purity. As your life changes in a positive way, you will also see your food preferences improving. The yogic diet is based on Sattvic foods.”

Whatever you do, remember that your body is a temple, and you carry the divine within you already.

Who do you speak to?

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“How monotonous our speaking becomes when we speak only to ourselves! And how insulting to the other beings – to foraging black bears and twisted old cypresses – that no longer sense us talking to them, but only about them, as though they were not present in our world…Small wonder that rivers and forests no longer compel our focus or our fierce devotion. For we walk about such entities only behind their backs, as though they were not participant in our lives. Yet if we no longer call out to the moon slipping between the clouds, or whisper to the spider setting thesilken struts of her web, well, then the numerous powers of this world will no longer address us – and if they still try, we will not likely hear them.” 
― David AbramBecoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology

Vulnerabili-tea

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Life is a river of ebb and flow. I’ve recently been in an ebb, a ride out at sea looking around at the endless ocean with wonder. Tea time was a daily ritual these last few months, alone and in company. There is a reason there are hundreds of quotes from philosophers over the centuries of the preciousness of tea and time of contemplation possible over this ritual. It has become a place of deep contemplation, peace, and acceptance for me, I could almost say it’s a meditation.

I prepare the kettle of hot water, the leaves of tea call for my attention. They were harvested so they must be put to use in the most impeccable manner. So I sit, and I pour the water and watch them infuse the water, creating a mixture for the soul to consume. It becomes a symbiotic relationship where I must pay respect to the tea leaves by tasting the earth, the dirt that they were raised in and the knowledge they can pass on to me, but only if I listen.

Instead of posting quotes from others as I usually do, I am going to practice some vulnerabili-tea (I had to) and put up a poem that I recently wrote about this relationship. One of my own experiences with tea.

As the ritual becomes ritual (see definition below), everything in life tastes just a bit sweeter. I encourage you all to pick up this ancient practice.

rit·u·al
ˈriCHo͞oəl/
noun
  1. a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.

I am stripped down,

My conscious is naked.

I know nothing.

This is not Samadhi,

Or Unity, or Enlightenment.

It is the nakedness in a room full of 100 fully clothed people.

I arrive to another town,

Another distraction.

The bushes are trimmed so precisely

They take on an alien persona.

The moon is brown with smut,

And the humans take on this same alien persona.

I drink my tea.

I am kissed by the wind,

Mother says it will be ok,

And the birds sing me a song.

Some might say this is depression,

I ponder this idea,

And decide it is life.

It is a beautiful life,

As I can taste the fruits of the earth.

Nothing is Seperate. Simhasana.

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Notice something about these photos? We are not so different from these precious animals. See above lions pose; Lions pose  (sim-HAHS-anna)
(simha = lion) 
helps relieve tension in the chest and face, but also stimulates the platysma muscle and helps keep it firm as we age. The platysma is a flat, thin, rectangular muscle on the front of the throat that pulls down on the corners of the mouth and wrinkles the skin of the neck when contracted.

  I have long known that my practice is partly an attempt at finding the animal in myself, while being in this amazing human body. Yoga pretty recently became the madhouse of books that it is, but if you go to india, you see thousand year old sculptures of yogis in the mountains trying their best to embody and create an asana practice that is beneficial to the mind body and soul – it’s no wonder animals and nature played such a big role in this. Similar to the creation of Jazz in the forests of Louisiana, how sweet it is, how connected we are and our ability to affect and be affected by other creatures.

An Excerpt to close:

“Nothing is separate. To make separation is to introduce a false vision and to begin the process of deception which itself leads to a distorting of the universe.

We are, at one and the same time, one leg of the triad of heaven, earth and humanity, central to the stability of change in the entire universe, and we are just one aspect of the Tao manifest in the physical world – on par with mountains and insects, for we are all the same.”

– Martin Palmer; Yin and Yang

Like quirky autobiographies about children raised in the desert by rebel artists? You might dig this awesome read! The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls.

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This book is one of the first books I ever read all the way through, as an 18 year old. I simply could not put it down. Maybe because it reminded me so much of my own life, or maybe just because Jeanette Walls is an amazing writer who tells a very real experience. This book is a wild ride told from her perspective as a young girl and growing up with artist parents who refused to be a part of the system, and because of it had many electricity-less nights in the desert appreciating junk, the stars, family, and road trips to no where.  It begins in modern day with her seeing her mother in New York digging through a dumpster as the adult she became… and for me was near impossible to put down after that. Here are some quotes that I much appreciated… 

“Years from now, when all the junk they got is broken and long forgotten, you’ll still have your stars.”

“Things usually work out in the end.”

“What if they don’t?”

“That just means you haven’t come to the end yet.”

“We laughed about all the kids who believed in the Santa Clause myth and got nothing but a bunch of cheap plastic toys. ‘Years from now, when all the junk they got is broken and long forgotten,’ Dad said, ‘ you’ll still have your stars.”

“It’s really not that hard to put food on the table if that’s what you decide to do.”

“…dancing along the border between turbulence and order”

Invocation to the Sun, the Prologue to The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel

A must share piece of literature that a dear friend introduced me to! One of the most beautiful writings I’ve ever seen or heard. One I will think of every time I Surya Namaskara to the sun or meditate to sunrise.

Enjoy

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by Nikos Kazantzakis

O Sun, great Oriental, my proud mind’s golden cap,
I love to wear you cocked askew, to play and burst
in song throughout our lives, and so rejoice our hearts.
Good is this earth, it suits us! Like the global grape
it hangs, dear God, in the blue air and sways in the gale,
nibbled by all the birds and spirits of the four winds.
Come, let’s start nibbling too, and so refresh our minds!
Between two throbbing temples in the mind’s great wine vats
I tread on the crisp grapes until the wild must boils
and my mind laughs and steams within the upright day.
Has the earth sprouted wings and sails, has my mind swayed
until black-eyed Necessity got drunk  and burst in song?
Above me spreads the raging sky, below me swoops
my belly, a white gull that breasts the cooling waves;
my nostrils fill with salty spray, the billows burst
swiftly against my back, rush on, and I rush after.
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Great Sun, who pass on high yet watch all things below,
I see the sun-drenched cap of the great castle-wrecker:
let’s kick and scuff it round to see where it will take us!
Learn, lads, that Time has cycles and that Fate has wheels
and that the mind of man sits high and twirls them round;
come quick, let’s spin the world about and send it tumbling!
O Sun, my quick coquetting eye, my red-haired hound,
sniff out all quarries that I love, give them swift chase,
tell me all that you’ve seen on earth, all that you’ve heard,
and I shall pass them through my entrails’ secret forge
till slowly, with profound caresses, play and laughter,
stones, water, fire, and earth shall be transformed to spirit,
and the mud-winged and heavy soul, freed of its flesh,
shall like a flame serene ascend and fade in sun.
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3You’ve eaten and drunk well, my lads, on festive shores,
until the feast within you turned to dance and laughter,
love-bites and idle chatter that dissolved in flesh;
but in myself the meat turned monstrous, thewine rose,
a sea-chant leapt within me, rushed to knock me down,
until I longed to sing this song- make way, my brothers!
Oho, the festival lasts long, the place is small;
make way, let me have air, give me a ring to stretch in,
a place to spread my shinbones, kick up my heels,
so that my giddiness won’t wound your wives and children.
As soon as I let my words loose along the shore
to hunt all mankind down, I know they’ll choke my throat,
and when my full neck smothers and my pain grows vast
I shall rise up- make way!- to dance on raging shores.
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4Snatch prudence from me, God, burst my brows wide, fling far
the trap doors of my mind, let the world breathe awhile.
Ho, workers, peasants, you ant-swarms, carters of grain,
I fling red poppies down, may the world burst in flames!
Maidens, with wild doves fluttering in your soothing breasts,
brave lads, with your black-hilted swords thrust in  belts,
no matter how you strive, earth’s but a barren tree,
but I, ahoy, with my salt songs shall force the flower!
Fold up your aprons, craftsmen, cast your tools away,
fling off Necessity’s firm yoke, for Freedom calls.
Freedom, my lads, is neither wine nor a sweet maid,
not goods stacked in vast cellars, no, nor sons in cradles,
it’s but a scornful, lonely song the wind has takenŠ
Come, drink of Lethe’s brackish spring to cleanse your minds,
forget your cares, your poisons, your ignoble profits,
and make your hearts as babes, unburdened, pure and light.
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5O brain, be flowers that nightingales may come to sing!
Old men, howl all you can to bring your white teeth back,
to make your hair crow-black, your youthful wits go wild,
for by our Lady Moon and our Lord Sun, I swear
old age is a false dream and Death but fantasy,
all playthings of the brain and the soul’s affectations,
all but a mistral’s blast that blows the temples wide;
the dream was lightly dreamt and thus the earth was made;
let’s take possession of the earth with song, my lads!
Aye, fellow craftsmen, seize your oars, the Captain comes;
and mothers, give your sweet babes suck to stop their wailing!
Ahoy, cast wretched sorrow out, prick up your ears-
I sing the sufferings and torments of renowned Odysseus!