Truth.

I was recently asked why do we want to find stillness of the mind. Why has Eastern philosophy stressed this importance whereas Western civilization strives to do more, be more, think more? In stillness we are not attached to our thoughts. Thoughts are notions and opinion driven by our ego which is the lens in which we experience physical reality. Ego takes in all the sensory inputs from our body, our physical surroundings, and our present physical needs. Its job is protector and sustainer of the physical reality. It is the identity of self-contrasted from the world. And right now the world needs way more togetherness than division.

Consciousness on the other hand is the part of you that existed before you were born. Consciousness is that inner voice, that intuition, that is here to experience things and right now that experience is physically based. Consciousness is the witness, the neutral observer, to our experience. Ego is the needs and wants of our experience. When we operate from a sense of stillness, we become mindful of the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment. Good or bad. That process of stepping back takes us out of being submerged in our experiences and thoughts and sensory input and into awareness. It is through this awareness of genuine experience we awaken to our Self. Our true authentic Self in sincerity of action and character.

Truth resonates. It doesn’t need persuasion or manipulation. It relates harmoniously; it strikes a chord with us, in our gut, our intuition. We understand it immediately without the need for reasoning because it is a knowledge we have always known. A cosmic consciousness. Our ancestral DNA. Much of the social and political climate right now is about righteousness not truthfulness. About ego and not awareness. In stillness we become aware of truth, the second yama called satya. Shine on yogis, Namaste.

 

Chia Seed Pudding

I can’t get enough of this stuff.  It’s super easy to make and super healthy.  Chia means strength in the Mayan language and the fact these seeds are packed with fiber, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, protein and calcium it truly is an energy food. I love it for breakfast with berries, nuts or moringa powder…and for a treat with a little royal jelly and cacao powder.  There are endless recipes everywhere but I believe using 100% grass-fed organic greek yogurt makes all the difference because you will not need to sweeten it. Yep, it’s that good.  Maple Hill Creamery makes 100% grass-fed whole milk plain greek yogurt that’s absolutely fantastic.  I also prefer Silk’s unsweetened vanilla almond milk, but you do you.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup organic plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds

PREPARATION

  1. Combine all ingredients together well with a spoon.
  2. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. Enjoy!

Gratitude.

Today is the day of gratitude.  To have kindly thoughts of acknowledgement and appreciation in your life.  But what exactly is it to appreciate something? Appreciation is to value highly and to be fully conscious of it….to be aware.  Yoga is a practice of self-awareness so today I invite you to be grateful for yourself.  For all your body does, for your uniqueness and for your Light.

The probability of you being born is about one in 40 trillion.  You are a precious incarnation.  Love yourself.  Appreciate yourself.  Be the best you.  Saying “I am my best” is the power of intention.  It is inexhaustible.  Saying “I am the best” is rooted in fear and fed by the ego.  Through loving yourself and others you disarm the ego and starve it.  We desperately need to nourish ourselves with positive attitudes if we are to change the energetics globally.  Cultivate self-love and your presence will make a difference.

So how do we do this when our mind is conditioned to judge and analyze?  Calm the mind. Thinking wastes your energy.  Feeling conserves your energy.  Feel love and you will be love.  A flower doesn’t make an effort to send its fragrance.  It is it’s true nature. You are love for love is the living infinity.  Experience each moment as it unfolds and relish it. Love every moment.  Shine on yogis, Namaste.

 

 

Contentment.

The theme for the month of November in one of my yoga studios is contentment, one of the niyamas called santosha. A state of happiness and satisfaction, of being at ease with things as they are. As the Buddha says, “Peace comes from within”, and this inner peace is a result of a calm mind. For at that very moment the mind is relieved from the compulsion of constant thinking, from planning, worrying or striving, we experience peace and happiness. Our mind is able to fully experience each moment. In the now. And we are able to love every moment. In its perfection. And it is why we come to yoga practice again and again.

There are 196 Yoga Sutras which are threads of knowledge, aphorisms, that have been passed on for thousands of years. They were originally disseminated by word of mouth from Rishi to student until a great sage Patanjali compiled and articulated them into Sanskrit literature. In the second sutra, Yoga Sutra 1.2: Yogas citta vrtti nirodah, the goal of Yoga is revealed. Yoga is the restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff.  So do the yoga, our mind will be calm and we will become peaceful, happy and content. I’ll be the first to admit, way easier said than done.

Once we bring our awareness to our thoughts we can begin to acknowledge what they truly are, mostly habitual behaviors, opinions and judgments conditioned over time. A wise yogi once told me we don’t always have to buy everything the mind tells us. When we stop to observe and not respond to our thoughts, we can begin to truly experience what is happening in the present moment instead of living in the past or looking towards the future. The mind is calm, like a still clear lake, and we are able to then see our true Self in its reflection. We are free of the mind-stuff.

So what happens when it is tough to let go, to not attach to our thoughts? I struggle with meditation and completely relate to how calming the mind is hard work. Savasana (corpse pose) is one of the most difficult poses in my opinion. Fortunately Patanjali goes on further and has lots of options for us. One of my favorites is Yoga Sutra 1.36: Visoka va jyotismati. Translated it means concentrate on the supreme, ever blissful Light within. So try this…imagine there is a beautiful glowing golden orb in the center of your heart, like a lotus flower. And with each breath you fan the flames of that fire, the Light, so it begins to shine a little more brightly and more brilliantly. Your true brilliant Self. The Light in me sees the Light in you. Shine on yogis, Namaste.

Georgian Chicken in Pomegranate & Tamarind Sauce

I was recently turned on to The New York Times Cooking app and it has been a game changer.  Every couple days I receive an email with a handful of recipes that not only taste fantastic but are relatively easy to make.  You can save recipes to your Recipe Box and group them further in Collections.  It is incredibly easy to share with others via text so one can get a consensus quickly and decide what ingredients need to be picked up by whom on the way home.This particular chicken dish is a new favorite of mine.  I first made it for Rosh Hashanah dinner with friends this fall.  I found Tamarind Sauce at my local Whole Foods Market and used pomegranate juice instead of paste.  It takes about an hour and a half from start to finish and trust me you will not be disappointed.  Enjoy!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 4 medium red onions, diced
  • 2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika or cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind paste (see note), diluted in 3 tablespoons water
  • ½ cup pomegranate paste (see note) diluted in 1/2 cup water, or 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 skinless chicken thighs
  • 10 skinless chicken legs
  • Seeds from pomegranate, for garnish

PREPARATION

  1. In a large Dutch oven or in a pot with a tight-fitting lid, mix the onions, 1 1/2 cups cilantro, the garlic and the spices. Blend in the diluted tamarind paste, the diluted pomegranate paste, the ketchup and the salt.
  2. Add chicken thighs and legs to pot, and submerge in sauce. Cover, and cook on medium-high heat for 10 minutes, then lower heat, and cook for 1 hour. Uncover, adjust seasonings to taste, and continue cooking for 20 minutes.
  3. Transfer chicken and sauce to a serving platter, and garnish with remaining cilantro. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over platter, and serve hot.

Adapted from “The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking”.