Embracing Wisdom

Life, food, wellness and love


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Kitchari

Let’s face it being a red-head has some great qualities: unique coloring (only 2% of the world population has red hair),  we well-known for a spunky temper and we have an awesome sense of humor due to years of being teased.  Believe me, I have heard them all. The not so great qualities of being a red-head: well, that very same temper plays both sides of the coin and I pity the person dealing with the not-so-spunky side, red-heads have a much lower pain tolerance and even bleed more than non-gingers, and seasonal changes especially from summer to fall is incredibly difficult. The hot PITTA dosha that most red-heads are can be exasperated this time of year. With that said, it is a great time to consider a Ayurvedic porridge made from rice and mung beans. This amazing stuff is wonderfully seasoned with ginger, cilantro, cardamom and clove. Kitchari is considered is used to purify (and cool down) digestion and cleanse systemic toxins from the body.

I typically do this process in the spring and most certainly in the fall.  I try to make the day or few days to be quiet ones where my focus is to love my body.  I practice Yoga, meditate, take short walks in nature and drink plenty of water.  This year I chose to do a one day Kitchari cleanse the day following a huge hike up a 14,000 foot mountain.  My body was tired and empty from the exertion and I felt this would be a great way to move gracefully into the fall season.

Kitchari reminds me of a  creamy rice cereal and a light dal, or lentil soup. Great for warming the body on a cold day, but even greater the cozy feeling is the rest it offers your digestive system.  This blend of rice, legumes and spices provides all the needed nutrients one needs while resting the system and also provides the body needed energy. Ideally eating Kitchari for three days is ideal but a once or twice a month day is a great maintenance practice.  The morning of the “cleanse” I avoid caffeine and I enjoy unsweetened steel-cut oats with butter or ghee.  The process of making Kitcahri can be meditative if you are open to seeing the process as one of health and vitality.

KITCHARI

  • one cup yellow split mung beans (can sub red lentils if unable to find)
  • one tablespoon chopped ginger
  • two tablespoons shredded coconut
  • handful of fresh cilantro
  • one teaspoon cinnamon
  • one-quarter teaspoon each of cardamom, pepper, clove powder, turmeric, salt
  • three bay leaves
  • three tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
  • one cup basmati rice
  • six cups water

1. First, rinse split yellow mung beans and soak for several hours. Set aside.

2. In a blender, liquefy one ginger, shredded coconut and chopped cilantro with one-half cup of water.

3. In a large saucepan, lightly brown spices and three bay leaves (remove before serving) in three tablespoons of ghee, or butter.

4. Drain the mung beans and then stir them into the spice mixture in the saucepan.

5. Next, add raw basmati rice. Stir in the blended spice and coconut mixture, followed by six cups of water.

6. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook on low heat for approximately 25 to 30 minutes until soft.


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Meditation

For the beginning meditator, a great way to introduce the practice is to use mantra—a repeated word or phrase.  This form of meditation can allow the person to learn to focus on just one thing–the mantra–and quiet the noise of other thoughts. 

Sometimes referred to as Japa meditation, it is a beautiful thing to hold in your hands a beaded mala  and repeat the mantra as your finger slides over each bead. 108 times you will be repeating a word or phrase so be sure the mantra is positive, clear and concise. 

Some examples of mantra are:

  • I am
  • Om
  • I am love
  • I am health
  • Happiness surrounds me
  • I am worthy
  • Abundance is mine
  • Peace for all  

By starting out your day with mantra, you call into your life an awareness of what already exists in you. Try it and be amazed and the positive outcome you will have (and your furry meditating companion may also benefit). 

  


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Sacred Space

One of the most important things in cultivating a personal practice is to carve out the space within your home for yourself.  No forgotten toys, no unread mail, no clutter.  Truly a sacred space. Placing items that are special to you on a bookcase, alter, or even a breakfast tray is a great way to create the sacredness that will allow you to have a meaningful space to unroll the mat or come to stillness.

Turn an unused corner or area of your home into your space to connect with you.  Place items of meaning, books, and anything else that will be a reminder of the goodness that dwells within.  For me, I have rocks from a special place in nature, a mala that was made for me, candles to remind me of my inner flame, and a Ganesh (remover of obstacles).

What about you?

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Practice

I have come to learn that a practice can look like many things, not exclusive to Yoga postures, meditation or pranayama.  Rather, the practice can be in the form of steeping the first cup of tea, walking in the morning, preparing a wholesome meal or petting your furry friend.  Really a practice is anything that has the potential to become a mindful habit.

For me, I begin each day with a walk regardless of weather or commitments.  I choose to make the time to connect with nature and myself.  During the seasonal changes I find I am in most awe of my surroundings.  Witnessing the budding of leaves and the bright specks of color dabbled in a field is magnificent to the eye.  Each day that I mind fully walk there is more and more aliveness and more reminders of the moment.  This is practice.

How do you practice each day?

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Ditch the resolutions

I say resolutions are set ups.  A harsher description is that they are premeditated disappointments. Why would anyone walk into that mess?  Well, perhaps because the world is often about evaluating who we are (or are not) and attempting to redefine ourselves based on an outcome.

Be done with that.  D.O.N.E.

Instead, open up your heart to who you are today.  However, if you must follow suit, work to becoming a more polished version of you.  Your weight, your bank account, your home, or your car is not going to define who you are. Are you kind?  Are you authentic? Are you realistic?  Are you listening to the internal yearnings of your heart? Are you truthful? Do you love yourself?

I have found a great way to stay on the course of being the greatest version of myself is to follow a few simple life habits (not resolutions).  Check it out:

  1. Make time for silence every single day.  Turn off the TV, close the computer, lose the headphones, turn off the smart phone.  Be in the silence of yourself.  Explore the delicate caverns of your soul.  Listen to yourself speak.
  2. Journal. Record your thoughts a couple of times a week. Let the words flow effortlessly without a thought of right or wrong.  Doodle, draw or records words that reflect your mood and your internal self.
  3. Move. Walk, practice yoga, tai chi, or other rhythmic movement that links your breath to your body.  Find the connection mind and body, through the breath.
  4. Gratitude. Every single day find at least three experiences to be grateful for.  Look for the kindness in others, the bounty of color, seek out love.  Appreciate it all.
  5. Flow. Move effortlessly in your life.  Roll with the punches and flow around the obstacles.  Allow yourself to move with the continuance of your life.  Stay when you need to learn and then move on.

 

 


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The Journal Tool

Keeping a journal can be one of the best tools in your mind/body toolbox.  Why?

  • Writing down your thoughts can be a place to purge emotions, judgments and all the yuck in your head that has a hard time leaving.  Your journal entries can be as messy and scribbled as you racing thoughts, and that is okay. What matters is that the thoughts–and often worries–are moved from your internal state to an external state which often leads to release and the clarity.
  •  Reviewing where you have been can foster a sense of growth and accomplishment.  Sometimes reviewing what you were feeling during a certain time period can be refreshing to your current outlook.  I find that reviewing my journal a few times a year grounds me and reminds me of my goals and vision.
  • Taking the time to write down what you are grateful can be a wonderful reminder on those days when you feel hopeless or lost.  Simply seeing that on a previous day what you were grateful for can lift your mood and remind you of your purpose.
  • Begin with intention.  I take my time in choosing my journal for the year.  I am mindful about which journal calls to me.  It has to feel ‘right’.  Then at the start of a new year, I sit in meditation and get really quiet.  My intention for the meditation is to find a word that will be embedded into my coming year.  Usually this has little thought and is a much more a heart-centered intention.  Most times I have no idea how ‘the word’ will show up, but upon review of my year it is sometimes startling to see just how it did.
  • Journaling can help to cultivate your dreams and vision for your life.  Simply writing down what it is you desire can help you to bring those ideas into fruition.  Similar to a vision board, a journal can be doodles, words, or pictures of the vision you have for yourself.


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Starting my day

I have found that starting my day with certain ‘habits’ or ‘rituals’ keeps me healthy in my mind, body, and spirit.  These naturally occurring routines ground me physically, clear my head mentally, and nourish my spirit.  What are your daily habits? How do they affect you?

1.  Gratitude.  I review my gratitude for my life, for who I am, and for the day.  Doing this keeps me in the present moment of this breath. I am not drawn into a story of the future or the past.  I am here now, with gratitude. This helps my heart to stay open to all that life is.

2. Review the tasks of the day, and prioritize.  Sometimes I write these down but most of the time I spend about ten minutes per day checking my calendar and reviewing what tasks need my attention and make a list of prioritizing them.  This keeps me grounded and focused.

3. Wake early.  Waking up early is the foundation for the above items.  It allows me quiet space.  Additionally, being attuned to the Earth’s rhythm produces better sleep and research says this can be support one in having a more optimistic outlook.

4. Hot water and lemon.  Every single morning before anything else goes in my body, I drink a large mug of hot water with lemon.  This helps the body eliminate toxins in the body, balances the ph in the body, and nourishes the brain.  This is also great for skin. Every day.

5. Affirmation/Meditation.  This takes less than five minutes and is so powerful.  I close my eyes for about five minutes and I whether repeat affirmations; all is well, I am exactly where I am supposed to be, I am open to anything, I am willing, etc., or if I just sit in the quiet space and watch my breath. This helps me to live in the present moment and know that my life is unfolding just as it is supposed to.

6. Essential Oils. Each morning I apply essential oils to my feet.  In doing this I am not only helping my physical body stay healthy or keep pain at bay, I am taking the time to love myself and give myself the gift of self-care.  I am being a receiver of the love that I give so often to others.  That is a good thing.