Monday, June 29, 2009

My comfort foods are spaghetti and chocolate milk. They have been for years. Not necessarily together, at the same meal. Especially not together since it would be a prajnaparada, a crime against Ayurvedic wisdom, since milk (the dairy variety) does not mix well with other things. They’re comfort foods because of the carbs and the subsequent serotonin effect, because they were both comfort foods for me growing up and have those pleasant childhood associations. And, in some ways, I suspect there’s a bit of the addictive allergy that may not be the best thing for me at play in my relationships with those two foods.

People often ask me about cravings: do we crave what will bring us into balance or do our cravings throw us further out of balance. The answer: It depends. It depends because it depends on our relationship with our ability to listen to ourselves, to our state of being in balance, to the nature of our body and mind’s innate intelligence.

So, when we’re truly craving something that is good for us, that we’re calling for from the depths of our being, and when we consume it, each cell in our body sings in a joyous symphony, well then, we’re craving something good for us, that is going to bring us back into balance, or keep us in balance in the first place. We can feel it, if we’re listening and being truly honest with ourselves.

On the other hand, if we’re craving something that merely makes us more out of balance as we already are, that exacerbates the condition of too much air, or too much fire or too much heaviness of earth, well, then that’s something to question, to stop and pause. To ask ourselves if we’re craving it out of mental habit, emotional desire or some convoluted need to ease some pain. Habit is a strong force, from an Ayurvedic perspective, and one which can pull us in directions we maybe shouldn’t go.

But then if we are craving something, we can look at what it is, and perhaps, what are some alternatives that could even be balancing. I’ve substituted chocolate almond milk today; it’s not as congesting or kaphagenic. I added freshly ground black pepper, fresh ginger root and some pine nuts to the pasta to heat up the wet and damp qualities of the wheat. And it’s been at least a couple months since I indulged in pasta, so for an experiment, I can check on how I feel. Tomorrow, it will be time to eschew the pasta for greens and not get caught up in the habit.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Today is a writing and editing day (after teaching morning Intention Yoga at lululemon) for me. Which means that part of the day involves work avoidance (my favorite pumpkin cookies at the Sojourner, turning down a movie but wandering into the Apple store and Borders with Shelia), and part of the day involves daydreaming and staring into space and part of the day involves searching for things on the internet like stainless steel rice cookers and vegetable steamers (since I’ve reconnected with my love of steamed rice but realized with dismay that my rice cooker is aluminum!). And, some of my day actually involves writing fueled by hot water and lemon accompanied by chocolate.

But chocolate and hot water are not enough to feed the muse and keep the fingers going on the keyboard. Searching for steamers became a perusal of recommendations on websites, the news of the day, changing the twitter background to green to support Iran and then the nodding of the eyelids. Writing, after all, is not really a mental gymnastic exercise. Like anything that we do, writing takes place in the body (even if we think otherwise). I began to get more done when I flung open the window, wider, to taste the breeze on my check. I walked out onto the balcony and shook the residual ash off of my Manduka mat to stretch out into a downward facing dog. I don’t write with my thoughts or even my fingers, I realized. I write with the extension of my left pinky toe.

When yoga teachers go of on what seem like tangential excursions into the placement of the right ring fingernail or the left tip of the shoulderblade or the protuberance of the right hip, it’s not because those obscure body parts have meaning, but because we need to do the pose with our whole body. Each piece is emblematic, symbolic and representative of the whole. And if we can bring our attention into what may seem like the dark cobwebbed corners of our body, then we are really doing yoga.

And when I am really doing yoga, I am writing. I’m in computer asana. But at the same time, I have a cup of steaming hot water sitting next to me, the fragrance of lemon peel stimulating my senses. I’ve oiled my feet and left them sans socks, wrapped in a cotton flannel sheet to feel both the grounded energy of the Earth element (kapha in Sanskrit Ayurvedic terminology). When I can become embodied then the words are there, existing in the alchemical play of the elemental forces I drink in through the open window.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I often spray it on my pillow at night; I keep a bottle of the essential oil in my car for the anti-road rage emergencies. I use it to cool and calm my often irritated skin.

The other day, I bent over, forgetting that the mug of just-out-of-the-teapot water was in my hand and it spilled over onto the joint around my thumb. It was the instant burning sensation that made me aware of my inattention. First I rinsed with cold water to take away the worst of the burn. Next, it was a dousing with the ever-present lavender oil by my side. It was the lavender oil that really changed things. After a few minutes, I could no longer feel the heat, even though the skin was still tinged pink. But the throbbing had stopped, the burning sensation ceased. Now, three days later, there is still a pink tinge, but no pain, no tightness around the skin, and it’s rapidly healing.

I know that there are a number of remedies for burns. Freshly picked aloe applied to the burn site as soon as possible is a good one. Without an aloe plant, aloe juice or gel is also a good remedy in the moment as well as after the fact on an ongoing basis to help the skin heal. The other day, I received a not on my Facebook page that another remedy for burns is to mix agnihotra ash (from the sacred agnihotra fire ceremony) with ghee to apply to a burn. All good ideas.