Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sharing the Dreaming

I just finished watching an amazing film called Whaledreamers. The documentary follows the story of the Mirning people of Australia, a native tribe who, like many under the crushing heel of imperalism, lost their land, culture, and even lives. The Mirning's connections to the whales was part of their cultural and spiritual heritage, and during the course of the film, shamans and holy folk from various cultures throughout the world gather to help the Mirning reconnect to the whale spirit.

One of the documentary's central messages, of course, is that only by coming together and supporting one another's endeavors of peace and love can we and the world survive. Not a new message, but certainly one that clearly needs repeated reminding.

When we connect to the primal elements of our world - the fire, the water, the earth, the air, the song, the dance, the relationship between ourselves and the animal peoples of this world - we are revitalized and walk the paths of beauty and peace.

Who doesn't want that?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Goodnight, Tyli'a

This past week in D.C. a trans woman and her friend were stabbed in the middle of the afternoon. One of the women, Tyli'a "NaNa Boo" Mack, died from the attack; the other woman lived. A full report of all the current information can be found through the Washington Blade.

What the fuck, right?

In trying to wrangle with this crime, I turned to paths of yoga, yet again.

Patanjali was one of the great yogic sages, and in his famed Yoga Sutra, he writes, "When [the yogin] is grounded in [the virtue of] nonharming, enmity ceases in his presence" (translation by Georg Feuerstein), or "By abiding in nonviolence, one's presence creates an atmosphere in which hostility ceases" (translation by Mukunda Stiles).

"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."

When struck with this news, I was deeply saddened, which was shortly followed by rage. Rage led to the desire to do something about it - put prayers in motion that would bring "justice" down on the heads of those who perpetrated this attack, yet I realized that this anger serves no purpose; the divisive "fuck those shitheads" attitude only feeds the deep and longstanding energetic despair around issues of perceived differences between peoples. Wasn't it this grain of separation that grew into a choking vine of hatred, wrapping its way around the heart of the person(s) who committed this crime?

I do believe we are all one, that the undercurrent of the Multiverse unites us all and therefore makes separation maya (illusion). Run through a different lens, look at the Web of Life, the Cosmic Web of Grandmother Spider: if all things are made up of the energetic action of this Cosmic Web, then there is no separation between me and you, me and the victim of the murder, me and the murderer. Of course, we make choices, and those choices lead to the manifestations we currently embody, but past all that shit (both "good" and "bad"), the baseline remains the same.

And that sameness is Divine.

When we speak to one another we are speaking to God/dess. When we touch one another we touch God/dess. When we do acts of service for one another, we do acts of service for God/dess.

In my better moments, I'm able to recognize that and see people's divinity radiating from their hearts, and I know that I worship at the feet of God/dess whenever I interact with another being.

May those who killed Tyli'a "NaNa Boo" Mack and those who contribute to cycles of violence at all levels come to this realization and have the courage to shift into new ways of being.

And, of course, that goes for me, too.

(Photos from top to bottom: 1. An image of Patanjali, usually pictured with a snake behind him because he's believed to be an avatar of Ananta or Sesha the thousand-headed ruler of the seprent people that guards the treasures of the earth; the god Vishnu also reclines on the giant serpent, who acts as a kind of couch for the deity. 2. A beautiful spider shot. 3. Tibetan Monks from Drepung Gomang Monastery in Karnataka, India, visit a museum in Tallahassee, Fla., and create a sand mandala for world peace.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Finding the Flow

After a two-week break from asana, the physical practice of yoga, I returned to it in a really wonderful way. I visited Catoctin Mountain, which is half-an-hour north of me, past Frederick, Md.

The park hosts one of the state's highest waterfalls, which cascades over 78 feet of sloping rocks that are easily scaled. I went to a fairly flat spot and reconnected with the physical flow while the waters poured around me - so amazing. When practicing near or in water, I'm really able to hook into the sahaja (spontaneous, natural) aspect of the yogic arts - no special sequence, no orthodoxy, just the inspiration of the pranic river as my only guide.

The rocks of the park felt really old to me, and reading a plaque later, I saw that they were the products of volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Catoctin Mountain is technically part of the Appalachian Mountains, which used to look like the Himalayas. The rocks seen at the park now are some of the oldest exposed rock formations in the world.

The Faery energy on that land is, of course, really bangin' and so delightful. The Fae have currency and legends from around the world in the oldest cultures of humanity (including India - they're even mentioned in Paramahansa Yogananda's seminal Autobiography of a Yogi).

I might be going back to the park this weekend - take your yoga off the mat!

Monday, August 10, 2009

When Cucumbers Attack

This summer, I've gotten an abundance of cucumbers from the lovely CSA through Dragonfly Farms, and although I find the crisp vegetables refreshing (especially a slice in water), up until the last month or so, I hadn't found them interesting on a culinary level.

In order to keep up with the influx I began making cucumber sandwiches (red onion, cucumber and mascarpone cheese) or little cucumber salads (sliced, with red onion again, olive oil, a dash of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper).

Well, after looking at another bunch of cucumbers, including a very strange variety that resembled a crook-necked squash with an unfortunate STD, I was completely uninspired. God love the cucumber sandwich, but I'd had it with that shit.

Luckily, yesterday I went to go see "Julie & Julia," which I absolutely loved, and there was a comment in there about braised cucumbers. After buying two bottles of red wine (Julia does drink throughout the entire film, after all), I rushed home and looked in Grandma Frances' copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Sure enough, there are a ton of cucumber recipes in there! I'd looked through damn near every book I had for some inspiration to no avail. ("Always go to Julia" is my new mantra.)

Today, I made Concombres a la Mornay - cucumbers with a jacked-up bechamel.

My husband, who loathes cucumbers, tartly remarked that if you butter and cheese the fuck out of anything, it would taste good, but this recipe was downright delicious!

First, I had to peel, seed, slice and salt the cucumbers and then allow them to drain for a couple of hours (which happened while I taught yoga at Sacred Space).

Then you bake them in a pan with butter for an hour. Meanwhile, I whipped up a bechamel, added gruyere and voila! Sauce Mornay!

Fold said cheesey-goodness into the cucumbers, top with a little bit more gruyere and broil briefly. It was downright revolutionary. The flavor combination was to die-for! I had it today alongside bruschetta topped with fontina, some lovely little tomatoes from the CSA and basil growing on the porch.

I still have Sauce Mornay left, so I might take the haricot verts and bake them in it.

After which, I'll commence lamenting the loss of my washboard abs.

C'est la vie!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Here She Comes!

I'm so ready for the "Julie & Julia" movie to come out!

Just this week I made ratatouille from Julia's recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking - my grandma Frances' copy. What a treat!

I've been really busy this week with lots of yoga gigs and will write more when I'm able.

Until then, have some wine, make some good food, and enjoy these harvest days of summer!

(For me that means that tomorrow I'm making zucchini fritters with a side of haricot verts with a dijon vinaigrette - yay!)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dance & Food - What Else Is There?

Although not exactly a "secret," I think Mamasita is one of the most incredible and underplayed spots in the Washington region. With bellydancing as the core of the studio's offerings, it has all kinds of physical arts from the African diaspora - everything from Afro-Cuban Orisha dancing to Samba. (The photo above is of a painting in the sitting area at Mamasita.)

While the instructors' knowledge is staggering, it's really all about the atmosphere they create. In bellydancing, it's never just about shaking the booty and making sure the hands are at a certain angle - the power of the dance as a healing and blessing to the world and the people around us is the foundation of the experience. Consequently, joy and love radiate from the very walls of that place, and every time I leave there, I feel settled more deeply into myself - yet not that small self wrapped up in the bullshit...more the transcendent self who knows that love, peace and ecstasy is what it's all about. Mamasita is a temple to all that's good in the human experience, and I'm so grateful to dance there.

This past weekend also saw some yummy treats in the kitchen. I cooked up some green peppers, onions and zucchini, folded it into some corn tortillas and topped it with a homemade salsa made of tomatillos, garlic, chili peppers and pumpkin seeds. I also sprinkled a mixture of corn, black beans and tomatoes over it and baked the whole thing. Really good stuff.

After that came another fig-walnut tart in a walnut crust. (Has anyone done a study to see if heroin is actually derived from figs? I suspect that smack and the fruit are somehow related.) Grandmother Bear helped with this one, as always. For more info on why this makes sense, go here.

The first photo is of the crust, which is blind baked in a deep-sided, fluted tart pan. The second is of the finished product, with the roasted figs inside - this time I added cardamom to the honey lemon glaze.

Below is an image of the lovely Lady Lakshmi taken at Mamasita. One of Her roles in India and throughout the world is as a provider of abundance. May She always grace our lives with an abundance of love and deep joy! (Oh, yes, and figs - let's not forget the figs.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summer's Bounty

For the next few posts, I imagine I'll be writing a lot about food. My CSA is really ramping up with all sorts of exciting goodies, so cooking time is what my free moments are all about.

This week, I created a peach and blueberry tart with a polenta crust. The peaches were sliced, drizzled with honey and then sprinkled with lavender blossoms. Such goodness.

Also, this week, at the suggestion of a good friend, I made a beet risotto, adding onion, goat cheese, and lemon zest to round out the flavors. Just divine.

Eat seasonally, locally, and organic, if possible.

Most importantly, cook and eat with love, because that's what it's really all about.