Saturday, March 23, 2013

Kitchari is an Indian dish, meaning mixture, normally of two grains.  In ayurveda terms kitchari is used to balance the three doshas, Vata, Pita and Kapha and bring harmony back to the body.  It is easy to digest and detoxifies the system, resting the digestive track from having to process different foods.  Its like a soupy porridge using basmati rice and mung beans, spiced with ginger, cardamom, coconut and other things, actually there are quite a few variations of this warming hearty meal so you can play with your recipe and see what suits you best.  Certainly when I eat kitchari I can feel the nourishment and the balancing effect on my system, it allows time for the body to restore itself and for healing.  For me it is grounding, calming and warming food.  Sounds good hey!  The digestive system can be weekend by poor food combinations, so by eating this we are giving that system a well-disserved rest and providing essential amino acids and kindling the digestive power.  If you are feeling a bit under the weather a bowl of Kitchari will do the job to make you feel better and restore lost energy.  Here is my recipe:

1cup of basmati rice.
1 cup of split mung beans that have been soaked overnight.
2 tablespoons of shredded coconut.
1 big chunk of ginger finely chopped.
½ teaspoon of cinnamon.
½ teaspoon of turmeric.
½ teaspoon of cardamom powder
½ teaspoon of cumin seeds.
Pinch of clove powder.
2 cumin pods.
3 small bay or curry leaves.
Ground black pepper to taste.
a tiny pinch of sea salt.
6 cups of water.

Add all the ingredients into a Nepali style pressure cooker, bring to the boil until the cooker lets of the steam several times, take off the heat and wait about 20 minutes.  Serve with some lightly steamed broccoli, spinach or any fresh greens.  Delicious!   Sometimes I add some kidney beans or other types of beans  or use instead of mung if I don't have any.
Using the pressure cooker for me has been a revelation and I am so pleased my neighbour Sunita showed me this wonder.  Not only does it reduce the amount of gas for cooking but it also keeps in all the flavours.  Everything I cook in it seems to taste better, dhal, soups etc and I wont be without it now.
Happy cooking everyone
May you find peace and happiness in your kitchari!
mangala / nicky

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pilgrimage to the heart.

So we have said in the last posting that to really discover ourselves we need to detach ourselves from our senses which expose us to the chaos of the outside world.  I have travelled so much of the world over the last 20 years, which has been a real privilege.  I have met so many different people, crossed the shores and climbed the mountains, but now the last and most adventurous frontier awaits; a journey within.  Stillness is what I need now in my life as Columbus crossed the oceans on a journey of discovery, I want to cross the ocean of my heart and find the reality that exists there.  We have said that the senses are what bind us to the external world, so how can we practice, pratyahara; the withdrawal of the senses, how indeed do we dive into our hearts?  Of course the key is in meditation, it is through this practice that we can explore ourselves and make union with the one divine consciousness.  One method is the use of Yoni Mudra, which is a gesture that allows one to withdraw and close off from the external.  Yoni means uterus or womb and through this practice we can journey back to the time we were in the womb when there was no external existence.  This practice puts you in touch with your inner sounds, relieves stress, relaxes the mind, regulates the nervous system, brings mental clarity and spiritual calmness.  There are two ways to practice, both can be very powerful and one should be of sound mind to do so or practicing under the guidance of a teacher.
Firstly sitting In a comfortable cross legged pose with the spine straight, chin dropped very slightly to lengthen the back of the neck.  To make the mudra, interlace your fingers bringing the index fingers together and the thumbs together, thus making the shape of the uterus, sit and bring your awareness to the breath and imagine yourself back in the womb, completely safe and secure and begin your journey within.
Yoni Mudra can also be practiced by covering the ears with the thumbs, the index fingers gently closing the eye lids as you internally look up to the point between your eyebrows your third eye centre, the middle fingers close the nostrils and the ring fingers push gently down on the upper lip to keep the mouth closed.  The tongue should be touching the roof of the mouth.  Before you close the nostrils inhale to a comfortable level in the lungs then close the nostrils and hold the breath for as long as is comfortable, never forcing anything.  Release the nostrils to exhale and repeat for several rounds.
This can be a very powerful exploration so practice gently and with respect to your body and mind, always start slowly for a short amount of time and build it up gradually. 
Enjoy your pilgrimage to your heart
Om Lokha Somastha Sukino Bhavantu
May all living beings find balance, harmony and peace.
mangala / nicky

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste and Smell.

Our eyes and our senses are the means of our knowledge; they teach us that something is there.  Through our five senses we gain knowledge of our universe; whatever is there is known to us through our sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste.  All that is in the world is knowable, you hear about a beautiful place and you have the desire to go there, you go and then you gain direct knowledge of that place, how it looked, what was there, how did it smell etc, we have the opportunity to gain that knowledge.
But how do we know that we really exist, we need not use a means of knowledge to prove our existence because we simply are, it is self evident.  We cannot say at any time that we are not here.  The scriptures tell us that we never die, the body will come and go, but ‘You’ will always remain.  Whatever our difficulties seem to be this is due to our ignorance of our true self, real knowledge about the ‘I’ is cause for happiness, that which we are all seeking.  And true happiness is that with no beginning and no end.  Through our senses the world is residing in our intellect, in awareness and everything else depends on this awareness, it is our senses that are causing this ignorance, they cover all reality.  So through our practice we must begin to learn how to withdraw our senses completely to find the lightness that eradicates the darkness.  Knowledge and ignorance cannot exist in the same location and we have to transcend our ignorance by the practice of withdrawing our senses know as Pratyahara. 
Learning may be both painful and enjoyable in many different ways, the mind can play a tug of war, but the painful thoughts are eliminated once the internal conflict is stopped by withdrawing the senses, and there is a complete concentration of the mind, if this state can be maintained then we can reside in a well of happiness and bliss. 
Recently a fellow Yogi asked me had I felt this state of complete bliss, if it is real, if it exists, how can we know?  Actually the very deep experiences we have shouldn’t be disclosed, as they are different for everyone and comparisons should not be made.  However to get to this stage in our beings we need to really dedicate ourselves to our practice, without dedication and discipline it wont come, you have to be ready and prepared for change.  You can be the master of your own destiny with self exertion, and with this you will get sign posts along the way and flickers of the real true ‘I.’  Without sight, without hearing, without taste, without touch and without smell, a difficult feat I hear you all cry.  But when the prize is pure joy then how can we not dive deep into our hearts for that and make the necessary changes and enjoy every breath.
Looking forward to seeing you all on the mat.