Yoga with Mirella Nicholson

Yoga with Mirella Nicholson

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Food for the soul

I have so few childhood memories but the few I do have usually involve food. I remember one day coming out of kindergarten to find my father and my uncle Bob waiting for me. They walked me home from school. My Uncle Bob and Aunt Jenny had come for dinner. My mom was in the kitchen cooking. I can still smell the food. I climbed on a chair to help my mom bread the chicken cutlets.

This time of the year always reminds me of the ritual of making tomatoes sauce and roasting peppers and making pickled eggplants. These are my favorite childhood memories. My mom and my zia always cooking.

This past week-end I had the great privilege of co-facilitating a women's yoga retreat with a teacher who I love and respect. She introduced me to the Wise Earth Ayurveda sadhanas. These are beautiful spiritual practices that involve food and breath and sound. The blending of food and yoga has been a magical experience for me.

During our retreat, Padmashree introduced us to a mandala making sadhana. We used various grains and beans to create a mandala. Each of us added to the design, a few beans or grains at a time. While we chanted the vow of Ahimsa (non-harming) a beautiful image began to unfold. I was transported back to my childhood. The kitchen full of woman adding one ingredient at a time.

At the end of the sadhana we had collectively created a beautiful work of art. As we stepped back to admire the beautiful image it didn't matter who placed which beans where. It was through the effort of the collective working together that a beautiful work of art was created.

The practice had awakened in me that memory of my mom and my zia and even us kids cooking together and sharing a meal. All of us collectively, washing and cutting tomatoes. All of us collectively peeling peppers. All of us collectively preparing the food that would nourish us. When we sat down together at the table it didn't matter who added which ingredient or who made which part of the meal. The collective effort of the woman working together to create the beautiful meal nourished not only our physical bodies but also our souls.

I have so few childhood memories but the ones that I do hold on to usually involve food.  Food and a circle of women. The food always tasted so much better when it was prepared together and eaten together. It was infused with a little extra bit of love.

It is through the power of the collective working together, for the greater good, and without ego that beauty is created.

                                I take the vow of ahimsa
                     I make inner harmony my first priority

                               I take the vow of ahimsa
                        in my thoughts, speach and action

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Things are not always as they seem.

What does a baby possum, Robin Williams' death, and the Pele report have in common?  Here's another clue... Things are not always as they seem.

The baby possum was injured and dying....Not really, he was playing dead and escaped as soon as the opportunity presented itself.   Robin Williams had it all, money, fame, family, everyone loved him, he was a happy, fun loving guy....Not really,  he clearly was wrestling demons that no one on the outside knew anything about.  Yesterday's Pele report (astrological forecast) confirmed the theme, things are not always as they seem.   There's so much more happening than what we perceive on a physical level.

For some of you maybe this doesn't come as such a shock.  If you've been practicing yoga/meditation even for a short time you have probably gotten a glimpse of the subtle energy that shifts and changes when we practice.    For those you who haven't experienced it for yourself, well, now is the time to pay attention. 

For years I've been aware that at times what I'm seeing and hearing on a physical level does not match what I feel on an internal level.  This has caused me much anxiety and trauma.  I've also identified this as the cause of my self-doubt and also the source of my difficulty with trust.

Things aren't always as they seem.   It's hard to trust the sensory input but trusting our intuition is vital.
Now, more than ever, I feel that it is imperative that we pay attention to our internal world. It's time to shine the light into the deep, dark corners of our hearts, mind and soul.

The great meditation teacher, Eknath Easwaren once used the analogy of a driver who takes great care of his vehicle.  He washes it and waxes it and even has the seat belts embroidered but never looks under the hood to check the oil.   Sure, it's nice to have a beautiful external environment but what good is it if your internal environment is dilapidated from neglect?

I had to stop watching the news and reading the paper. I remember one day standing in the line at the grocery store. I saw an imagine of a mother holding her child who was dying of starvation.  The image affected me so much that nearly 20 years later it still haunts me.  The look of seer helplessness and despair on that mother's face was so powerful and it touch a place within me that felt that same helplessness and despair.  I was standing in line at the grocery store filled with food while a child lie dying of starvation and there was nothing I could do to help. 

The Pele report I watched this morning held the key for me. The message was loud and clear. I need to repair and clean up my internal environment.  In doing so it will have a positive effect on my external environment.  I can't help that starving child in the newspaper. Rather than wallowing in the feelings of helplessness and despair I can work on being more mindful that I don't waste food.  That I only take in what I need. I can share food with others in my community.  On an even deeper level, I can explore where in my life do I feel like I'm starving.  What am I starving for?

There isn't much we can do to stop the wars that are raging on but we can address the internal wars that have been raging for generations. We do  have the capacity to stop the internal wars. When we practice resolving inner conflicts then the conflicts with others won't be so difficult.  Violence and anger cannot be defected with violence and anger.  Have you ever seen a parent slap their child and say "We don't slap our friends!  that's not nice!"  Their actions say one thing while they attempt to convey the opposite message.

Ultimately, what I'm finally beginning to understanding on a deeper level is that everything we experience on an external level is a reflection of our internal environment.  When our inner world is filled with conflict we experience the external physical world also as filled with conflict.  

Things are not always as they seem.  Daily spiritual practice is the tool we need to remove the veils of maya that keep us from seeing the truth.  Turn within and begin the work of repairing and rebuilding your internal environment. Sometimes we need help repairing.  Seek help. In doing so, you are giving someone the opportunity to be of service.  It may seem like they are helping you but you might end up being the one who helps them.  Things are not always as they seem..