Friday, April 22, 2011


The season of cleansing and renewal is upon me; it may sound crazy but I have a real desire to eat those buttery blades of grass that have been growing noticeably longer with each passing day.  These sunlit days have awakened a higher reasoning power within my heavy winter body. I crave the fruits of nature and a lighter vehicle for play.

There may be no better time than spring to heed the maxim of eating seasonally. Did you know that spring is an ideal season to experiment with a RAW vegan diet?   The first thing that nature provides us with: the first shoots of life, light leafy greens and herbs, bitters and tart flowers all seem so masterfully designed to help us reduce winter burden, detoxify the tissues, re-calibrate our digestive systems, and do a little "spring cleaning".  While high-fashion magazines and the culture of consumption would have us believe that our body weight should remain steady, most women will notice that their bodies change, at least a bit, from season to season.  And some may notice that when they keep eating the same dense wintertime foods such as sweets, dairy, heavy carbohydrates and proteins, spring can become a time of pure misery as allergies begin to flare and winter weight becomes less than cozy. We want to fly in spring but our winter bodies keep us tied to earth.

In this Kapha (water+earth) season of heavy wetness we want to purify as much as we can.  In fact, many Ayurvedic practioners recommend a specific cleansing routine and re-calibration at the junction of every season.

Even those who are already eating a vegan diet can begin to cut back on winter staples such as faux meats, root vegetables, fried foods, and other hearty fare.  Increasing lettuces, watery vegetables, light grains such as quinoa and millet and favoring seeds such as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower over heavier nuts is wise.  Farmer's Markets are brimming with radishes, pea shoots, sprouts, mandarins, asparagus and other seasonal delights that will heal and nourish us down to the core. Green vegetable juices feel more at home in my body now than at any other time of year and I'm starting every day with a green smoothie.

The lightness of body that comes from this transition into spring is about much more than regaining bikini weight (if my body-enlightened readers would even qualify such a statement).  Toxins are notoriously good at hiding in the lipid (read: fatty)tissues of the body, so using this time to clean the tissues of the body is more than superficial, it's a way to clear out the toxins of modern life both chemical and emotional. 

Spring cleansing marks the gateway to the succulent summer adventures that are awaiting the clean boldness of our wild spirits. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's been a long TIME coming... Part !!

The last time I left you, we were stuck in the middle of a crisis of alchemy- trying to MAKE TIME.  But alas, you have probably figured out that TIME herself is merely the canvas upon which we paint our lives, and stretching her any further would certainly distort or break some crucial aspect of universal quintessence (despite what Christopher Lloyd would have us believe).

Queen TIME keeps moving, no matter how sweet or sincere our request for pause.

She creates the context for our lives, and we are loyal subjects to her royal consistency.

Time is not the problem!

What envelops us in chaos is the way that we have been taught to use and perceive our time.

Productivity, that dogma of time-based fervor, keeps many of us shrouded in guilt from the moment we hit "snooze".   Our personal allotment of universal time is borrowed against by our worldly obligations to the point of feeling like it isn't ours at all.  The world of reality would have us believe that time is no longer for BEING, enjoying, tasting, discovering, wandering, learning, and CREATING.  Time has become money.  They interchangeably represent that dangling carrot.  And guess who gets to play the ass again?

This could be an essay about so many things.   But I want to cut directly to the root of this mental anguish about time (regardless of what political or economic change we may see as necessary). We all have the same number of hours in our days. 

If time is a great white canvas, what are we painting on it?  When we look back at the end of the day, what does this artwork look like?  Does it look like some version of a Rorschach computer?  Or are there faces, connections, colors and light?  Is there passion?  Is there fulfillment, completion, contentment, delight?

Great stories are made out of adversity, as are great people.  Adversity is not the problem.  Some of the greatest people I know worked with their noses to the grindstone for most of their lives, but they still chose to BE laughter and love at the end of the day (As far as health is concerned, I'm sure you have heard... laughter truly is the best medicine.)  There are always going to be challenges to our time and our happiness.  How we choose to BE through those challenges says more about who we ARE than what we DO.  

In every moment, we get to choose.

And when we choose to BE happiness, it follows us into unlikely and un-natural habitats.

Monday, October 19, 2009

:: Making Time for Wellness ::

How often have you come to the end of the day, still overwhelmed with responsibilities and wishing there were MORE TIME?

Most of us live and move by the clock: fully, busily, and exhaustively.  With so many schedules running the show it is no wonder that we have little patience for illness. Instead of following our intuition, getting some rest and re-focusing on wellness, we find ourselves with just enough time to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy, have an extra latte in the afternoon, and nurse sick days with medicine that allows us to maintain productivity... because taking sick time means less pay for some, and being laid off entirely for others.  That itself is enough stress to impede fast recovery!

As a society we live in time deficit. Most of us don't get half of the vacation or sick-time as our friends in other developed-nations.  This is affecting our well being in profound and destructive ways.  As we strive to catch up, to make up for financial losses, to pay off debts, or in many cases to just get by, the monster of disease is catching up to us, and the statistics don't look good. More than 10% of the US population currently has diabetes.  And, according to the CDC, in 2003, approximately 37% of adults reported having two or more of six risk factors for heart disease and stroke (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, current smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity).  That was 5 years ago.

These types of lifestyle disease do not arise in a vacuum.  Stress, poor diet, and inadequate exercize are the indicated culprits of these chronic diseases, not chromosomal anomalies.  But with a lack of time come destructive habits of time management.  We choose quick comfort food instead of wholesome.  We choose TV instead of taking a walk.  We choose emotional drama instead of sleep.  We choose to believe what the so-called experts and professionals tell us, instead of doing research ourselves. And sadly it doesn't usually feel like a choice.  If after work you happen to find the time for healthy meals, nurturing relationships, laundry, shopping, housecleaning, exercize, education, sleep and creative (ad)venture, not to mention raising a family... you are the superheroes.  Because for most of the people I meet, something always slips through the cracks.

The real question is: how can we regain our full, vibrant health amidst the hustle to try and change the course of history for the better, all while keeping our loan payments current? 

In order to tap into the amount of energy that we are going to need to transform our world, it seems to me that we must take drastic measures bordering on the miraculous.

We are going to have to MAKE TIME.

to be continued...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Creating the Space for Yoga

Even though I am not a collector of things in general, I still find myself challenged by too much stuff.  And where I used to fancy myself some sort of ascetic, able to throw things out without a thought for their future use, in the past few years I've been more cautious. I've given those things a bit more time to prove their worthiness. Unfortunately, my Virgo organizational skills are not nearly so developed as my astrological tendency to disparage the untidyness.  I've been literally unable to put these things into order without digging them out of drawers and boxes in their entirety and mulling over their necessity in my life. As this sort of deep ontological reflection on my possessions is very time-consuming,  I often turn my cheek on those messes and focus on the things that seem more important in the moment.  But I sense the lack of spacial clarity and energetic vibrancy. I'm left unsettled and incomplete.  My space does not feel as harmonious as it could be.

If our couches and bookshelves could do yoga, they would call it vastu.  The Vastu Shastra is an Indian science of spacial-alignment older than Feng Shui.  And the Vastu experts do not have positive things to say about clutter.  Kathleen Cox, author of Vastu Living, says that "Physical clutter creates mental clutter, which leads to stress and tension... Clutter is harmful to our health. Vastu helps you determine where the clutter is in your life. Anything that does not connect to who you are, what you love or what you do, and anything that doesn't serve an ongoing utilitarian function, is clutter. It's wasting valuable space."

When I look at clutter in this way, taking on the practice of Vastu in my home becomes an aspect of my own yoga practice.  Cleaning the dishes is as useful to my mental health as downward dog and the proper alignment of my furniture becomes as important as the safe alignment of my knees.

Vastu asks us to align our environment for the optimal flow of energy, creativity, and abundance.  It is a powerful practice that can re-focus our minds so that our daily tasks are elevated to their own form of spiritual discipline.  Every moment counts.  So, give yourself a pat on the back if you made the bed today or cleaned off the countertop.  It's all baby steps towards awakening to our full potential.  Vastu teaches us that every action is deeply meaningful, even scrubbing the grout.

OM Bhagavataya Vastupurushaya Namaha.

I'm going to clean the house now.

*If you would like to learn more about Vastu, I highly recommend starting at Vastu Creations.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

OM Sri Ganeshaya Namaha! (or, let's start with the elephant...)

Everybody LOVES Ganesha.  Of course, it's more true in India than some other places, but generally speaking, even westerners find great affection for this round-bellied and elephant-faced member of the Hindu pantheon.  Ganesh, Ganesha, and Ganapati are all names for the same divinity and representation of life-force...  It is said that this Ganesh guy is a remover of obstacles.  So, it only makes sense that before embarking on any new venture, one would have a word or two with Ganesha.  We might pull him aside and say "Hey Ganesha, I have this really good idea, and it's going to make me a few bucks but mostly, you know, I'm doing it for the good of humanity so for goodness sake please please please please make sure things go well for me, ok? OM Gam Ganapataye Namaha!"  And then we might draw colorful pictures and posters; and make notecards, key chains and bumper stickers to remind us of remind us to keep calling even though sometimes his land line seems awfully busy.  So, that's one level.

On another level, Ganapati represents a foundational stability of consciousness.  He is an elephant after all, and when we take an elephant in to our mind there isn't room for much else.  Ganesha represents the earth element and the muladhara chakra, the sacrum, our connection to and seat on the earth.  It is said that the energy of Ganesha resides in this base chakra.

It is from this grounding of our awareness in the body that we begin any yoga practice.  We don't have to use his formal name to understand the consciousness he represents.  Calling on Ganesha means grounding out, slowing down, finding our breath, feeling our feet, remembering to root ourselves to earth and to take all action from this point of stability.  When we move in this way we are protected from all of those obstacles both mental and physical, that keep us from going more deeply into our practice.  With luck, we move beyond the obstacles that keep us from getting to yoga class in the first place.