Detoxing – the path from dis-ease to vitality

In this post I am going to outline the whole enchilada as I know it, that is – how to get from poor health back to natural vitality, and the various states or stages involved – and in subsequent posts get into the details. Its been a long time since I was quite ill, deeply troubled, numbed, yet I am still working to stay as far away from that state as possible and closer to being fully acutely alive. Please do not consider anything I post here to be true. In the long honored tradition of monks and yogis, I invite you to find out if any of this is true for you.

a) ‘I’ am not my body
b) unaccountable happiness, clarity, connectedness
c) we are what we eat
d) 6 week detox inclusions and exclusions
e) 6 week detox tools
f) super foods
g) freedom and suffering
h) mindfulness
i) I am not my mind
j) the extraordinary miracle of this time, this place, this body
k) convergence
l) making a difference: vegetarianism and being vegan
m) the basics: what’s needed and not needed
n) fluid body vs blocked body
o) liver support
p) wheat and diary
q) caffeine sugar alcohol drugs
r) pH balance
s) let thy food be thy medicine – carcass versus live plant food
t) allergies, addictions & the anti-inflammatory diet
u) signals from the body
v) practicing yoga – body teaches mind
w) gentle yoga – traveling inwards
x) following one’s ‘destiny’ or path, and observing the journey
y) yoga, karma, imprints, past lives, incompletions
z) no boundaries, all is one

 

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Chana Shag with coconut milk – spinach and chick peas

So I am trying to eat more raw food these days – and it is a challenge to say the least! However on my good days – I avoid wheat altogether, I have a raw smoothie usually with cucumber and fresh spinach, maybe a little banana and coconut water mixed in, that’s really good. At least 2-3 servings of fruit, raw nuts in some form, (sometimes fresh almond milk) and a salad usually with avocado so satisfy my craving for heavier foods. Let me just say, I love this recipe and have made it many times but the sprouted spinach (leftover ends from the last batch I made) have been growing fast and are SO ALIVE!!! makes me think I must eat it raw from now on!  And thankful to have it either way!!!

spinach sprouted in bowl

 

 

This is a seasonal and easy recipe:

2lbs fresh spinach (or 2-3 large bunches)
wash well – and use stems
locate your favorite curry mix use about 2 tablespoons –
this one has salt already added so not optimal , but tasty
find your best fresh onion – doesn’t matter what kind – chop small
saute spices and onion in a generous amount of olive oil – (1/3 to 1/2 cup)
add chopped spinach and saute lightly – by the time I have chopped all the spinach and added it to the pot overall saute time is about 10 minutes
after spinach starts to wilt
add coconut cream (I use trader joes but other coconut milk will do fine)
add chick peas – you can cook from hard or use 1 small can – I remove skins to lessen the gas!
add salt if your curry powder did not have (most do not)

simmer for 10 minutes – serve with rice!

 

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Sri Dharma’s Sprouted Almond Milk and a Moment of Lightness

ingredients

 

Maya Tiwari, who turned to her ancestral knowledge of ayurveda to cure herself of cancer and grief, in her book ‘Ayurveda A Life of Balance’ says this about the milk of her childhood, …”The milk was delivered, buff colored and foaming, within the hour of milking. It was never preboiled. Milk was a vital and living food as long as the ancestry could remember. The cows were gentle and happy. They grazed in the green pastures of fertile and rich land. The roamed by instinct with their own rhythm. No one questioned why they should seek shelter from the blazing sun, or why they sat and gazed with those stupendous lotus eyes. …Years later, during my stay at an ashram in Pennsylvania, I was taking my daily walk past a cow pasture. I saw for the first time what I had so long felt in my heart: the abiding grief of these cows. I have walked through the valleys and shadows of death twice in my life and never have I witnessed such gargantuan grief. How can we in the West hope to rationalize or address the present state of unwholesomeness of milk as a food? The primary issue we must confront is the holocaust of these animals.” Pg 176

Ok, so that is not light. Her book is very good to read, she talks about the Vedic tradition, and how it holds all animals sacred, as they hold the memory of life on earth. ‘The cow is the keeper of the scriptural memory, and the elephant the holder of the first memory of plants and herbs on the planet. If either becomes extinct, we would not be able to maintain the memory necessary for the survival of the earth.’ She talks about the diseases of the food body and how the suffering of the cows is reflected in our own. ‘The mental agony of the cow is inherited by all those who drink the polluted ama, which used to be milk; we suffer the same conditions of fear, isolation, restlessness and melancholia. The cows subtle memories are blackened by their captivity, directly effecting the loss of our own memories of spiritual dharma.’

The lightness is this – Sri Dharma’s Sprouted Almond milk is our modern day vital and living milk. It has the sweetness and softness of unpolluted milk from happy cows. It has a food body memory that is sustaining, nourishing, and loving. It enters the body system like mama’s milk, soaking into the cells, filling them with prana and light. It is truly divine and I will never ever drink the box stuff again!

Here is how make it, easy, a little time consuming, 100% worth it every time.

1 ½ cup sprouted almonds or brazil nuts
4 cups filtered water
3-5 dates (or agave nectar to sweeten)
1 Tbs vanilla (or fresh vanilla bean seeds)
Pinch sea salt, agave, honey or maple syrup to taste

It takes me about 10 minutes to peel the sprouted almonds. See my post for sprouted almonds to see how to sprout) I hold the large end in my finger tips and squeeze, the nut slips out of the skin pointy side first into my palm. Rinse after peeling to remove any lingering toxins from the skins. (Note: some brands of almonds will not peel easily – I found the Trader Joes non organic whole raw almonds most reliably easy to peel, Costco’s depends on the bag)

Pour the nuts and water together into the blender. Close the lid and blend on high for a couple of minutes. The better blended the more nutrition you will gain from the nut pulp.

Any linen type cloth or very fine cheese cloth will do for straining. It doesn’t have to be a bag but that will make squeezing it easier. Make sure your bowl is large enough.

Pour the milk through the cloth into the bowl. When the sprouted nut meal pulp is still in the cloth you can dip, rewet and squeeze with your hands. This will yield more of the vital essence of the nut. You can add a little more fresh water into the bag as well to help with this.

You can also pour the milk through a second time, again its like squeezing milk from coconut pulp, the more you work it, the more comes out of the pulp.

Like anything that has vitality or prana in it, it has a visual aura, a luminosity.

Once you’ve done this to your satisfaction, then you are ready to pour the milk back into the blender without the pulp now, and add the dates (pitted), vanilla and salt.

About the dates, if you remember to do it, soaked for 10-20 minutes beforehand is better, if dry however, they soak themselves in the milk after blending and dissolve away leaving only skin that falls to the bottom.

After blending, pour into a glass container for keeping 3+ days in the refrigerator. Make an offering to your kitchen altar or deity and ask for it’s blessing. Shake before consuming, and add more sweetener to taste. I added a touch of maple syrup to this batch.

The Goddess Saraswati joined and gave me knowledge of the essence of this milk. Like this milk, she is both sweet and beautiful.

 

Posted in Delicious and simple food, Gluten free, healthy food on a budget, RECIPES - ALL, VEGAN, Vitality and love, Wheat free | Leave a comment

Asleep, waking up, fully awake and sweet potato ‘noodles’

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

Note: because this recipe is raw, it can go either way – towards being a savory ‘noodle’ dish, or a savory salad.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

4 large sweet potatoes (or yams) or several smaller ones – peeled and ‘spiralized’
2/3 to 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 head of shredded cabbage (optional)
2 Tbs Lemon juice – add the lemon directly to the sweet potatoes as you cut them it will soften them and keep them fresh.
¼ cup Nama Shoyu soy sauce
3 Tbs miso paste or raw tahini
¼ cup sesame oil

Combine the miso, oil and soy sauce, and then pour over the potato (and cabbage if used) and mix well. If you use tahini you may need to add additional lemon or water to keep it liquid. I used miso paste instead of the raw tahini, it is just a matter of what you prefer, both are good. More images and reflections below.

A spiralizer is easier that this method… and they look more like noodles if you have one…
I always ask for help in my food journey, and pray for the knowledge and determination to keep myself healthy. Remember to eat vegetables and fruits of different colors everyday for your health! Marinate for 1-2 hours. Serves 8 people. And voila. Take a moment to lay it at the feet of your kitchen god.

Sometime I wonder about how it is that I spent so much of my life asleep, and how then I eventually ‘woke up’. The great poet Rumi wrote a poem on this topic…

This is how a human being can change:

There’s a worm addicted to eating grape leaves.

Suddenly he wakes up, call it grace, whatever, something wakes him, and he is no longer a worm. He’s the entire vineyard, and the orchard too, the fruit, the trunks, a growing wisdom and joy that doesn’t need to devour.

So I can remember when I was that worm. I remember when I just ate the grape leaves, no questions asked. Or to use another analogy; I realize now that I have been in a grand play, but not aware that I could have any role in it; I could be actor, actress, director, the lighting, or audience to name a few. I was not conscious of being ‘an actor’ in my life at all, instead just delivering my part as it was already written – without knowing I could interpret the part or have a viewpoint about it. Pretty unconscious I would say. No judgment, I was just asleep. Asleep as in believing the thoughts in my mind were true, instead of something that happens automatically with language. Asleep as in being the feelings I had; getting happy, sad, angry, and not noticing that those feelings are not ‘me’, they are just a passing state that comes and goes. It was as I was awakening that I became aware of the trap I was in. Trapped in a limited view of reality that went no farther than myself. In hindsight, now that I have woken up for the moment anyway I can say – those thoughts and feelings were not and are not reality. And what a relief it is to know that!

By some grace, I began to awaken to something larger and so much greater than my own self. It was because of the many moments of what I call ‘convergence’ that happened in my life and the extra-ordinariness those moments, calling and raising my attention through that fog of sleep that I began to see the whole drama, with myself in it. I began to be the audience. It was then I began to wake up – and notice that there were miracles happening in my life, extraordinary miracles. Waking up was not easy either – the dream state did not quickly or completely clear up. But it did. Slowly over time, and now I can look back and see how it happened. And still, even after all these years I notice that I am still asleep to something. I am now certain there have been lives before this one, before ‘me’, and yet the memories of those lives are still mostly invisible. So I walk through this life as ‘myself’, yet who am I really? Who was I before, and why now this body, why this life? And most of all, why is that person, who is me, behaving like that?

And by the same token, why should anything else be the way it is? And is it (reality) the way it is because we are still asleep? Are we waking up yet? Do oceans and rivers rise and holy temples flood because so many of us are just doing what we do with no thought or witness to our role in this extraordinary drama that is unfolding before our eyes?

This is when I notice the ‘sleepiness’ I still carry around. The state of being fully awake is not solidly present. I expect that when I finally get truly devoted to my practice I will come to be fully awake, stay awake, and see these things more clearly.

And, what does food have to do with all of this? I believe a compassionate diet helps us wake up. I will say I am often shocked when I see how so many people eat foods that will make them ill, when they eat so much the body will become ill from overload, and then after when so much is thrown away. Many of us in the West have no true experience of hunger. Many of us have never gone without. Fasting as an act of devotion can awaken our compassion for others. Muslims fast during the Month of Ramadan simply to know what hunger is, so that they can maintain their compassion for what it means to be human and suffer hunger. It is a required devotion to feed the poor during these days of fasting. When one understands what this hunger is, whether by choice or circumstance, I believe it becomes an act of non-compassion to overeat or waste food.

I think it was in the film ‘Vegducated’ I saw the footage of a large fishing boat just spewing out carcasses of fish that were caught and killed by accident, that were not even wanted for food. To me this wasting of life and food in the face of so much hunger is utterly devoid of compassion. Eating plant-based foods on the other hand is an act of compassion. For every vegetarian and vegan person out there, there are many lives saved, much violence averted and the possibility of radiant health and compassion is present. So eat your plants at every meal! These sweet potato noodles is another recipe that made me happy. It was so good, and literally made the inside of my belly feel good. I was awake for that one!

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The Dharma LOAY (life of a yogi) carrot salad and on being resourceful

Carrots, lemon, honey, raisins, olive oil.

Carrots with grater, lemon, honey, raisins, olive oil.

What I love about this recipe is the ease and simplicity of it. Soak the raisins in a little water while prepping everything else, grate the carrots, mix the honey lemon and oil together for dressing, drain water off raisins, put all in bowl and mix!

I like to make it if I have to travel as it travels well – even if just into the office for a day, and it is also one of the recipes that can stand up to being made in advance. Based on several at homes trials, it appears to me that grated carrots seem to sustain their vitality for about 8 hours, so while it is always best to eat as soon as your food is ready, if you have to prepare in advance you can be pretty sure that you will still get the benefits of eating raw.

What I also love about this salad is that it costs about $2 to make a serving for 2-4 people. Now I base that number on having easily available organic produce, I buy most of mine at Trader Joe’s, especially for juicing. Their carrots are about 89 cents for a 1lb. pkg. and I use about half a pound. Once you have invested in the bottle of olive oil and honey the small amount you use for this is minimal, (maybe 50 cents worth) and the lemon is probably the most costly. Organic from TJ’s can be as high as 50-75 cents each depending on the size and how many in the bag. Raisins are also costly but the recipe does not call for a lot. From a $3.00 bag of organic Thompson raisins  I use probably 1/10th of the bag. So for those of you who are precise about these matters; .45 for carrots, .50 for oil and honey, .75 for a large lemon, and .30 for the raisins. Children also usually like this salad as it is sweet and crunchy, so now you have a ‘snack’ for kids that costs only a little more than your time. As far as time to prepare, I can have this one done in about 8 minutes, with 1-2 minute2 to get everything out, 3 minutes to grate the carrots, 1-2 to mix everything and 1 to wash up and put things away.

Honey, lemon, olive oil

Mix together honey, lemon, olive oil

Can you tell I am big on resourcefulness? Recently I also took an accounting for what/how we eat, and how we shop for clothes and how thoroughly we recycle or not. Mostly we buy clothes from the thrift store which is a good way to ‘recycle’. To put this in context for a moment – if our clothes are being made any where near a sweat shop – due diligence is called for to check and see what that company practices as far as protecting their workers, paying a living wage, and not using children in the shops. If I am not wrong there is an app out that will check whether a company uses child labor or not, I believe you scan the tag with the smart phone and it will let you know whether children are used to make the product. I believe it is the same one that defines certain pay rates as ‘slave labor’, and will also let you know about that.

Add raisins and salad dressing to grated carrots and mix. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before eating.

Add raisins and salad dressing to grated carrots and mix. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before eating.

With regards to reusing, if you find a good thrift shop near you – you can reuse a huge amount of the clothes to be found there, at a fraction of the price. Our society and culture has trained us well to desire name brand clothing in season.  As yogi’s I believe we are responsible for every choice we make; are we wearing leather shoes or coats and sleeping under down comforters? And when we chose not to do so any longer – did we make sure to give our old shoes and blankets away to Goodwill? Are we recycling 80-100% percent of our plastics, metals, glass, cardboards, papers and compostable foods? Are we using our goods until there is no more use in them or freecycling them? Are we being well trained consumers – buying the latest new thing just because we can or buying only what we truly need? Do we have more than several pairs of jeans in the closet? Are we eating a plant based diet? Do we spend money just because we have it? Could we change our ways and give the money to someone who needs it? That for me is the definition of resourcefulness, and it is also compassionate. Like gorging ourselves on a buffet, overconsumption is not responsible to ourselves or to the community. I’d probably get a C+ or B- if graded on these things, so I am still working on it.

Saraswati, Goddess of knowledge, blessing the carrot salad so that I may know what my body needs for health.

Saraswati, Goddess of knowledge, blessing the carrot salad so that I may know what my body needs for health.

 

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Green Cleanse Juice – a Sri Dharma recipe

Juicing, being a new Life of a Yogi initiate, and the path to self knowledge.
The Celery Cucumber Lemon green cleanse juice  Recipe by Sri Dharma

I am working on pratyahara, or control of the senses. To that end I recently gave up all alcohol, in any form, at any time. Next will be caffeine and sweets. I found if I practice discipline of the senses in one area it supports me in others. I also consider myself as ‘always a new student’.  I do this not only to protect myself from the idea that I already ‘Know’ something, but also because I am constantly straying off the path. The path of doing what I know to do, those actions my guru tells me will bring me further in my journey to self knowledge. What I mean by straying is that I eat foods I have a commitment not to eat, (dairy), I eat more than my body needs, and I eat without mindfulness. As a result my astral channels get clouded, my liver, kidneys and body have to work harder on waste removal instead of healing or strengthening, and without mindfulness I lose my compassion for those who are starving for even one bite of good food.

When it comes to juicing many people know that juicing is good for you and yet not that many people do it as part of their everyday routine. I certainly do not. I have a nice juicer, money to buy organic produce and good intentions yet I have to admit that I do not use it everyday. What a mistake. Raw green juice especially sends a particular message to the body, which in turns sends one to the mind, if only I would listen!  The message the green juice sends me is this: clear, clean, vital, light. If I listen further, by body tells me there is no need for caffeine, skipping a meal is a break for the body not a burden, live food/juice will not slow me down the way dead foods take my energy for digestion, to name a few. Further to this, the very act of juicing because I know it is the right thing to do, because it is an act that is congruent with the path I have chosen for myself,  my health and my life as a Yogi, reaffirms everything I believe in. Doing this my practice of pratyahara becomes stronger, my vitality is greater, and the juice purifies my intestine and my astral channels. Clearer and lighter, my steps become firmer. It is all one.

Green Juice cleanse
Celery, cucumber, lemons.

celery cucumber and lemon

 

 

Salt for water to wash veggies optional.
washcelery
Wash celery stalk by stalk in salted or ‘veggie wash’ water. Rinse well.
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Peel cucumber if not organic, otherwise it is a matter of taste. Cucumber peels are generally bitter and may not be that good to consume.
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For this amount of juice at least 2-3 lemons are needed. Celery is a hard vegetable for juicers, so use the high setting.
The color of this juice is amazing, the taste is even better.
photo-12

 

If you love lemon and your lemons are organic you can juice the peel as well,
otherwise better to take only the juice.
Add the lemon juice at the end.
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If you started with one whole large celery bunch and a large cucumber you will have about 36 oz of juice. Drink immediately while the enzymes are still living. Give thanks before drinking!

 

 

 

 

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In the words of my teacher what I do in the New Year sets the tone for the rest of the year

So I will not drink as part of the celebrations, & I will wake early to give thanks and prayers for the life I have, and the teachers in it. I will continue to find compassion in my heart and practice compassion with everyone including myself, I will deepen my practice and my training so I can better offer it to others. I will renew and revitalize myself by adhering to the practices that make up the Life of a Yogi, and find ways to share my knowledge of nutrition, how to follow a vegan diet, and how to use the practice of yoga
to reach self knowledge. I will also continue to send my best energy out into the
Universe with my earnest prayers to alleviate the suffering where ever it is.
Om Shanti Shanti Shantih. iStock_000005130576Medium.jpg

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A more simple life

What I have done in my life is complicate it to extreme. when I look closely I see very well that I do this at a great cost.

Once having seen this , I choose to do something different: I choose first to give up certain things that once I felt I could not survive without – my ‘career’ , recognition for what I might contribute, (pure ego) , security and power, I also gave that up. That is definitely an illusion.

What I turned t0 instead was what Sri Dharma calls ‘the back up light’.

For me that is letting go of (the illusion) of control and accepting that there are laws of nature that are far bigger than me…and that my job is simply to make sure that I am acting with integrity in my own life. I am following the rules of universal ethical conduct; I  am not stealing or lying, being cruel or angry, not being violent with others in word or deed, and most importantly, recognizing that when I surrender my will, acknowledging that I am not in control of what happens, I can actually have some peace. Said another way, the universe will send me what it will, and the best I can do is Surrender, and accept.

 

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What is real?

How does a yogi address this question?

The sense of separateness is not real, each of us is pure already , born and manifest in a state purity, and often to become polluted by our various afflictions, greed, desire, jealousy, stealing etc… but we are not separate, we are together, one humanity, one divinity with many names, and when we annihilate the sense of being separate we join together – as one, and in this moment, we know what is real.

 

 

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Copy your teacher physically and mentally!

Whoever your best teacher is, that is the person to copy! My Dharma Yoga teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra, always exhorts his students to copy what others are doing if they are doing it well. Copy mentally and physically. One of the best ways to learn! Needless to say he is usually the best one to copy!

Copying someone mentally is not so easy, what I do its try to understand the attitude they have or take on for each thing they do. Last evening during class Sri Dharma was teaching alternate side breathing, and he had set up a camera and screen so people can see him better.  He sat forward on his knees and close to his students in the first row.
The technique for alternate side breathing is easy to copy if you can see what he is doing and follow the cues. What the camera showed from above and what I saw in my teacher was a small and humble man who will teach on his knees, with an attitude of earnestness, determined to share this teaching with others, patience, and humility. It also showed and reminded me what it means to me to be on my knees. Being on my knees allows me to be small, and brings out in me humility, earnestness, and devotion…just that position in itself is an offering of prayer.

Physical copying is also important, each posture in yoga has a mental attitude or ‘spirit’ associated with it. When I take on certain postures, my body sends some message or learning to my brain that comes from the physical posture.  This way the body teaches the mind, usually it is knowledge that is beyond words. Shavasana is a good example of this – Shavasana is for total relaxation, and when I remain perfectly still, when my body stops sending messages to my brain, my brain can settle. It learns the attitude of quietness and stillness.

 

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