Friday, August 24, 2012

Mind and Heart Are One

There are days that it feels right to just throw in the towel.  By this I mean times that feeling overwhelmed, stress, fear, anger, sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, self doubt, etc. seem to be all that is real in our reality.  This is ok!   Yes, I said it.  It is ok as long as we develop the capacity to not be pulled away by our suffering but rather to acknowledge it and take care of it.  Pushing it away or ignoring it will not help.  It will come back stronger and with a fierce bite.  We need to show it, ourselves, some love instead.  One way to do this is to trust in our own experience and become intimate with our suffering.  The key is to not drown in it.  Visit it for a bit and just be with it.  You have everything innate to be happy and so you have the capability to resolve and heal your suffering. 
It happens to all of us.  Even those of us who consistently wear rose colored glasses, identintify with the lyrics "you may say I'm a dreamer" and look for diamonds in the coal.  This past Monday I had one of these days and I just went with it.  This meant I cried for hours, literally.  That felt really good, honestly.  I went to my Sangha and felt instant renewal.  A fellow Sangha member needed some deep listening and I was able to provide that with a few words of encouragement.  During Dharma talk I shared my state and afterwards this person thanked me for giving him peace and ease even through my own pain.  That was really powerful.  His statement made a profound imprint on me.  The following evening I attended a Dharma talk given by 2 nuns and 2 monks from Deer Park Zen Buddhist Monastery in California and it was so amazing.  They addressed this very topic from the Zen Buddhist point of view which is what I am sharing in this blog.  That talk made me feel so grounded and powerful in my life.  One of the biggest points to me in our practice is that we need not seek from outside when everything we need is within us and recognizing that allows us to connect and inter- be with others and everything in our world like nothing else possibly could.   So as we help ourselves become a little more transparent we can help others do the same.  It starts with us and it ends with us.  We need to open our hearts to ourselves and to what others have to offer.  In so doing I believe that we can transform our suffering.  It sounds simple and in theory it is but in this reality it is not necessarily so because we are not used to being open and real with ourselves or others.  This world tells us to put on an act and don't show "weakness", vulnerabilities, happiness but just be "normal".  Normal isn't real or fun.  Let that "freak" flag fly.  I am not telling you to do stuff that will cause harm or trouble but rather to simply be as you are.  Try it on for size.  If you need to cry for hours, run around the block a few times or as my friend Linda likes to do dance naked around the cherry tree in her yard.  DO IT!  Linda's type of taking care might get you in some hot water  but I admit I tried it in my backyard after my husband died.  It felt good.  It was also about 10:30pm. 
Give yourself, all of yourself, some real attention! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cold Forbidden Rice Salad

The name is intriguing...Forbidden is not as naughty as its' name implies.  In fact it is good for you as some "naughty" things can be.  That is another topic entirely.
 Every Monday evening I have dinner with some of my friends from Sangha before we go to Sangha.  It is a potluck so they, often, are the taste testers of my kitchen experiments.  I do use recipes but I change them to make them my own.  I am usually successful as a result of my new found love of food and working with chefs for hours each week.  Last night I took a shot at a cold Forbidden Rice Salad and it was a hit.  The basic recipe comes from The Cancer Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz.  I use this book all of the time.  Forbidden Rice is purple which makes it fun and nutritious.  The purple color means it contains phytochemicals and antioxidants.  Normally this would be served warm and with a few added ingredients but today you are getting my recipe.  Give it a try.  It is simple.  That is a requirement in my kitchen.    I know that Whole Foods carries Forbidden Rice but I have not seen it in many other grocery stores.  Also, you need to soak the rice, preferably overnight as you should with most all grains.  Forbidden Rice has a soft, creamy texture when ready.

1 cup Forbidden Rice
2 cups water
3-4 small slices of fresh ginger
2 Star Anise pods
1 fresh lime, juiced
2 tbs. Brown Rice Vinegar
Approx. 1 tbs. freshly grated ginger (to your taste really)
4 Brazil nuts, grated
Raisins to your taste
Sea Salt

Bring the water to a boil and add the sliced ginger, star anise, sea salt and rice.  Lower the heat, cover and cook for approx. 30 minutes or until rice is tender.  Drain, picking out the star anise and ginger.
Juice the lime into a small bowl adding the rice vinegar and grated ginger.  Mix and drizzle over the rice.  Add raisins and grate the Brazil nuts over the top.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Rebecca's recipe calls for adding finely chopped cilantro, mint or basil and 2 tbs. of finely chopped red bell pepper.  I think that the mint and bell pepper would be fantastic minus the raisins. Also,finely chopped crisp apples with raisins would be lovely too.  I have not tried this, yet. 
Part of the joy of cooking is playing with flavor combinations and textures.  Buy a beautiful cookbook or raw foods prep. book and play, make those recipes your own.