Monday, September 29, 2008

Chocolate for Breakfast

Chocolate, only chocolate, for breakfast is just not a good idea, no matter how I try to justify it. Vegan, raw, agave-sweetened, no refined sugars. Going hours with only eating chocolate has repercussions. In the moment, though, there’s nothing better.

I really do think chocolate is a food group. A good one, too. I can’t really imagine going many days without eating some chocolate. But now I’ve been up for six hours and I’ve only eaten chocolate. It’s a weakness of mine.

I can give you all the reasons why chocolate is the Ayurvedically perfect food. It’s bitter and sweet. There’s antioxidants, minerals,magnesium.

And I know all the Ayurvedic reasons to have something else, something more. I have food at home. And I’m about to make salad with broccoli and pine nuts and leeks, lightly cooked. Until then, maybe one more piece of chocolate. But I will eat it consciously. Doing everything consciously, with intention, is part of my practice for today, as I try to open the boxes in my room that need opening, organize the receipts and financial paperwork. And that really needs chocolate.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mindfully being exhausted.
I push myself, often, even aside from my job, which in and of itself is demanding. (I’m always on deadline, always take work home, am always thinking about ideas, about what I could be doing, what’s hip, what’s hot, what’s new, what’s balanced.) And then sometimes I just hit the wall, like today. Where there were places I wanted to be, said I’d be, but between the loose ends and the massive migraine and the exhaustion, all of which were telling me to stay in bed.
This is where I get hard on myself. I shouldn’t be in bed. I should be at yoga class, I should be well, I should be at six events. No. Sometimes I can’t do it. I’ve noticed this, anytime I get sick, I can take all the herbs in the world, every remedy known to Ayurveda, and sometimes the only cure is sleep. And water. And quiet. So that’s what I did today, feeling I was on the verge of my body giving out and the only remedy was sleep. And water. And quiet. And to be compassionate with myself about it. It is after all, a human body.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wednesday: Taking a Break for Yoga

I had scheduled my morning meeting around getting to take a yoga class. It had been a week, and I was feeling the need do to something other than sit in front of a computer trying hard not to hunch over, or riding my bike to and from the office. This comes up for me particularly since I edit a yoga magazine, since I teach, since early that morning I had delivered a stack of magazines to the Exxon Mobil refinery where they were going to have a health fair and someone wrote me telling me that they had classes and could they have some LA YOGA magazines for their health fair. Could they? Of course.

So that I would walk my talk, or flow my message, on my way back to the office I drove right by Yoga Works South Bay, just before the next Yoga Works Flow class, taught by Casey Coda. I have to admit that I spent the first part of class feeling a bit impatient as we focused on our breath, strapped and blanketed, and then moved with the breath initiating all movement. Repeatedly. Then the rhythm made me pause, and moving, breathing, I found myself breaking a sweat, not that breaking a sweat is what it’s all about.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, it is better to work below your capacity, half your capacity is the recommendation. This doesn’t mean that you just laze around and do nothing, and never progress. In fact, if you work at half your capacity, or maybe two-thirds, consistently, you will get in better shape, have better conditioning and be able to do more with that half or two-thirds. And even better, your bodymind doesn’t think that you are in stressed-out emergency mode, firing up the adrenaline afterburners. When we fire up the adrenaline afterburners, it actually diminishes our capacity in the long run, even though we get this short-term buzz. It’s deceptive.
Casey’s manner was encouraging, soft, yet attentive. I could easily picture her teaching seniors for a research study, as her bio announced.

After I ducked out, it was meetings, work, meetings, cover choosing, proofreading, checking pages, finishing all the final loose ends for preparing the magazine for print which seem to take forever. But that time to breathe, to clear my head, was worth the time away.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday night

Biking away from the lights on the Santa Monica Pier on a Friday night after listening to Andrew Harvey talk at Exhale, I think about what it means to be radical. Radical. In one sense, what it means to me is that the world is a better place because I am in it. Better in a more conscious sense.

Dinner before the talk. Hot water with lemon and a salad, bread and butter. The butter and the salad dressing may be the most important parts of the meal, what with the fact that my life is in constant motion: more than constant motion. So through that, I have to do something to stay grounded, more than grounded. Oil and heat are two of the best ways to stay grounded no matter the day, so hot water for the heat, salad dressing for the oil. And after that, biking is easy; freeing myself from the tyranny of being behind the wheel of the car. So in negotiating a bike day in L.A., which in and of itself is enough to make a person feel ungrounded, and after driving to LA from Santa Barbara. After a day of meetings, and teaching and trying to get my class covered for tomorrow morning and writing a newspaper column, as if that weren’t enough to make a person feel scattered, its necessary to stay grounded. Through Ayurveda, its about oil and heat.

Why are we here? Andrew Harvey asked the Dalai Lama. To embody the transcendent. Embody, not have a conversation with; embody. What does that mean, to embody? It is a call to be radically, radically honest with oneself, because only that radical honestly is worthy of the divine.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I biked to work yesterday, and I’m getting ready to bike in again today. It’s a combination of the wind in my hair (through the bike helmet, of course), the mechanical feeling of my body pedaling, taking the long way there and back again to ride along the bike path and see the prana-infusing expanse of the Pacific. It’s also because, during deadline week, it may be the only exercise I get all day with feeling the weight of what’s looming over me.
And, on the way home, it’s easy to stop and duck in and out of stores without having to negotiate parking spaces. Yesterday, it was Lululemon to check out the new purples and then Santa Monica Co-Opportunity (one of my favorite places in this fine city) where I ran into a friend. It’s a amazing how a conversation over the merits of raw coconut ice cream and the vata-calming benefits of hot tea can turn into an impromptu Ayurvedic consultation where I’m dispensing advice in the grocery store aisles about adrenal exhaustion, building vital ojas—our immunity and reserves—and reminding her to spend some time each day with her feet on the earth.
So, even though I wear shoes as I bike, there is an aspect of it that is feet on the earth, propelled by my own muscular power. Fueled by vegetable soup and hot tea.
Ayurveda is the holisitic system of medicine native to India. Many say that it is a revealed tradition, passed down by the gods. Although this revelation is important, even more germane is the ability to tap into one's own intuition, to find one's inner revelation. I believe, at its heart, that Ayurveda is a wisdom tradition, and it is through tapping into our own inner wisdom, intuition, ability to look within and find our inner power of self-healing, that we can find true inner balance and health.This blog is going to cover my attempts, journey with integrating the ancient tradition of Ayurveda into a modern lifestyle, complete with beer, pizza, too many late nights, the challenges of adding meditation practice to already full days, and yoga to continuously unwind tight hips. I have found over the past 15 years that Ayurveda has been a part of my life, that it has allowed me more expanded health and well-being.