Tag Archives: consciousness

9 Buffet Tips That Can Be Applied To Life

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Even if the menu says ‘All you can eat‘, what you get out of the meal is largely up to you.  Much as is the case with life. Like the generous spread on offer at a lavish buffet, we are offered a wide variety of experiences.  And just as we can navigate the meal in different ways with varying consequences, so it is with life.  It has taken me a while to learn the ‘art of eating at buffets’ and I felt many things understood there are equally relevant to the way we move through life.  So here are 9 parallels one could draw between enjoying such meals and life:

  1.  Run a quick survey first:  Instead of loading up the plate from the start, an observant glance around the table will give a good idea of what is on offer.  While it may be tempting to think one can sample it all, going by the number of dishes put out on the average buffet these days, it would be wise to be more discerning.  Similarly, there are number of interests and experiences available out there, but realistically, we cannot sample them all.  Having a general sense of what you would definitely like towards the top of your list and what you can live without is a useful place to start.
  2. Decide what you don’t want:  The older ideas of sampling a spoonful of everything before deciding on the mains is now simply impractical.  You will either end up overeating or be too full to really dive deep into the flavors that appeal to you.  The body knows what it would like and what is good for it.  Those inclined can learn muscle testing to quickly and discretely discover what would work for them.  In life, mindfulness can just as easily guide us as to what would be appropriate for us.  The thoughtful pause is extremely useful in making conscious choice a way of being.
  3. All that glitters is not gold:  Attractive looking dishes may not make for the healthiest of food.  Artificial colors, additives and unhealthy ingredients can often look appealing but prove costly in the long run.  Which one of us has not had difficulty in resisting temptations in life?  But here too, short term indulgences can lead to expensive, long term consequences.  Sometimes the best things appear simple and you may miss their true merit if you go by appearance alone.  Weigh the pros and cons carefully.
  4. Don’t be afraid to explore: Bearing in mind the above, you can still experiment with the unfamiliar and unknown.  We tend to stick to old favorites, even checking the spread with an intention of finding what we liked the last time.  Be open to discovering something new.  If you never ask ‘What is good and new?‘, something fresh and wonderful may be under your nose, but you wouldn’t see it.  We often need to unlearn our old ideas in order to see radical shifts in our lives.
  5. Choose quality over quantity:  Anything in excess can prove detrimental to one’s health.  Selective portions of pleasing items can appease the taste buds and yet not be excessive.  We can practice the same discernment in life, displaying a wise moderation in our choice of activities and behaviors.
  6.  Make room for your favorites:  I have no qualms about having a sweet tooth.  So I ensure that I have a look at the desserts section at the very beginning and adjust my other intake accordingly.  I feel the same way about making room for sweetness in life.  There is no point in filling our hours with activities (or the lack of it) and depriving ourselves of whatever it is that really makes us come alive.
  7. Remember tastes differ:  One man’s meat is another man’s poison.  The beauty of having so much diversity on offer is that everyone is free to enjoy what suits them.  This is also true about diets, religion, philosophy, healing techniques and so on.  So live and let live.
  8. Value everything:  People seem to believe that the only way to get value for an expensive meal is to overeat.  Which implies that the only thing you are valuing is the quantity.  Whereas you are actually also availing of taste, ambiance, space, comfort, pampering and so on.  So don’t worry about stuffing yourself, but do make sure you appreciate the finer nuances of the dining experience.  Ever seen the modern day, typical tourist?  They seem so busy clicking pictures to take home ‘memories’ (or demonstrable evidence of their travels), that they forget to actually experience memorable moments.  Don’t pass through life blind to all the gifts it offers you.  The moment you widen the scope of what you value, you will find yourself appreciating each experience with a new depth and sincerity.
  9. Appreciate generously:  A lot of painstaking effort goes on behind the scenes, to make possible your heavenly dining experience.  If you like something in particular, do make it a point to pass on your compliments.  Look around you and notice how many people have contributed towards whatever joy you are experiencing today.  Have you thanked them for it?

What insights have you gained from your own buffet outings?  Do share your comments below.

 

Image Kind Courtesy: Marylou Falstreau (all rights reserved)

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Simple Living + Recipe Roasted Vegetables

A child of five could understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.” ~ Groucho Marx

Somewhere in our attempt at keeping up with the Jones, we seem to have lost our connection to the simple pleasures of life. Society and media encourage us towards more and more expensive, grandiose and pretentious tastes.  Whereas everyday gems are long forgotten, even dismissed for their ordinariness.  But that is the challenge that we humans face.

We tend to take our gifts for granted.  Unless they come wrapped in fancy trappings and are difficult to obtain, we seem to miss their intrinsic value.

What would it be like to actually appreciate the presence of the many unadorned gifts in your daily life?  The flowering of your terrace plant, the smile on your child’s lips, the appreciative glimmer in your partner’s eyes, the colorful sunset over a soothing sea? We starve ourselves of these daily blessings by failing to notice them. Instead, we are distracted by our impatient cravings for the rare designer label, the exotic vacation to far off lands, or more commonly, the validation of having provoked envy in others through the obtainment of such symbols of success.

Consider how your food preferences can remind you of all this.  Despite all the expensive restaurant meals, lavish parties, complicated recipes and exotic ingredients that you may have already sampled, your regular favorite is likely to be a basic, home cooked meal. Perhaps the jhunka-bhakar for the Maharashtrian, or the sambar-rice for the Tamilian. No matter which part of the world you come from, your own preferred fare will most likely be one of the simplest dishes of the region.  For example, one of the most popular pizzas in Italy is the original Margherita, which has only tomato, mozzarella, and basil.  Now, isn’t that food for thought?

So while I am not dissuading you from your ambitions and aspirations, what I am proposing is that you re-discover an appreciation for the day-to-day ordinariness around you.  You may be amazed at how much is going unnoticed.  If you need any help, as Groucho suggested, call for a child.

After all, they say God is in the details.  We just need to look.

This post was inspired by the extraordinary taste, nourishment and satisfaction provided by this uncomplicated dish… The slow cooking and light herbs proved ideal in bringing out the nuanced taste of each vegetable in generous deliciousness.

roasted vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients
4 cups                        mixed vegetables (bite sized)- Cauliflower, 
                                     Potatoes, Mushrooms, Yellow Pepper, French Beans
3/4th cup                cherry tomatoes, halved
4                                  small red onions – cut into wedges
8-10 cloves             garlic,  finely chopped
4 leaves                    garlic chives
4 sprigs                     marjoram
4 tablespoons        olive oil
3                                   lime leaves, broken
Salt
Dried Herbs (mixed)
Optional:  Small amount of crumbled cheese(feta) and paprika
Method
  1. Coat onions in salt and oil, roast for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix rest of dressing, toss and coat vegetables.
  3. Add roasted onions on top.
  4. Cover dish with aluminium foil.
  5. Bake at 230 C for 40 minutes.
  6. Optional topping of crumbled feta and paprika

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Don’t Get Caught In A Pickle

Caught in a pickle

Every family has their secrets. Some are the pink elephants of traumas, tragedies or other unspeakable tales. Some are the revered ones, such as traditional knowledge or crafts, that are guarded like the family jewels, passed carefully from one generation to the next. In the rich depository of such ancestral inheritance, what I considered exceptionally valuable, was a recipe for mango pickle.

Sounds innocuous, but if you had ever tasted this delicious sun-dried, spicy mango delight at my grandmother’s, you would understand. It seemed unlikely that any other preparation could ever match that taste.  After her demise, my uncle took over. As he got older, the preparation became my sister’s responsibility. An essential requirement is the stark, dry heat of Nagpur or Nasik. In my mind, this is how I rationalized the difference in taste from the other Maharashtrian pickles available in Mumbai. That and of course, the exceptional ‘family recipe‘. To me it was as precious as the traditional medicine for jaundice that is passed on in a cousin’s family. Or as notable as the anecdotes about another ancestor’s medical prowess. It was unique, and our own special inheritance.

A couple of years ago, I happened to be in Hyderabad for some work. Our hosts were kind enough to take us out for a sampling of the local thali meal.  I cannot describe my shock at finding ‘my’ pickle in my plate.  I was even more stunned to discover that this was the popular Aavakaya pickle.  Every Andhra household prepares this and my friends were confused and surprised at my excited reaction.  A couple of them offered to bring me homemade bottles, as most of them had it at their homes.  I was humbled and delighted, all at the same time.  I now had easy and limitless access to this delicacy.

But the irony was not lost on me. Despite having a liking for spicy food and having sampled many pickles, I had not ‘discovered’ that what the younger family had assumed ownership over was actually a given in a far larger collective. The rich variety and diversity of food and culture in India does make familiarity with all foods near impossible to the lay person.  (I have no idea how a South Indian recipe became a staple part of my centrally located grandmother’s recipes.)

But how easily we become proud and possessive of something that actually belongs to the whole world.
Just because of our ignorance.  Because of our limited knowledge and experience.

When one applies this across other subjects, the gravity of the repercussion is self evident and significant.  We debate over ideas and beliefs, one region against another, one religion against another, one nation against another.  Vociferously, righteously clinging to our claim over what are often universal truths and planetary gifts that we mistakenly believe we own exclusively.  Only because we view them from some historical, blinkered perspective, often relying on mythical memories to back our version of things. Makes me wonder, how much of the rigidity and conflict would dissolve – if we began to respect how much we all have in common and that  we have simply failed to see – nothing is ours alone.

The same also applies to what we consider our unique failings and challenges. In Marathi, we have a saying, “Gharo Ghari matichya chuli“.  What it implies is that every household that you visit, essentially faces the same challenges.

In a conversation about plagiarism,  I heard that some people deliberately do not attribute credit to the original source whose quotes or teaching they share.  Because if they have subsequently lived it,  they feel that they can now ‘own’ it.

Perhaps eventually, we will come to realize that all roads lead home and far enough down these roads – all paths are one.

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What Are Your ‘Memories’ Costing You?

Do we really tell ourselves the stories as they actually happened?

Our cherished memories are often retold in great detail, evoking the same emotions with intensity and recent familiarity. We also listen to the frequent narratives within our families, communities and so on, and with each retelling, the story seems to become more vivid for us.  This occasionally works to our advantage. So remembering a walk at the beach,  replaying the details of the sunset colors, the feel of the sand under your feet, the smell of the ocean breeze and the soothing sound of waves – returns one to a peaceful place.

Similarly, for years, I have associated the cinnamon smell of freshly baked apple pie, with warmth, motherly love and a sunny kitchen.  Whenever I ate apple pie, it gave me opportunity to discuss delicious recollections with whoever happened to be with me at that time.  A beautiful association with pampered, cared-for childhood days.  Sweet and nostalgic, isn’t it?

Only problem is, it never happened.  My mother made a lot of wonderful dishes, but I now know, Apple Pie was not one of them.  How do I know?  Because when I recently had the urge to make one, I tried to find a favored recipe.  There is no such recipe in her collection.  That led me to question my thoughts on the subject. As Byron Katie says, “You don’t have to believe everything your thoughts tell you.” And I was most amused when I realized that I learnt to make and eat apple pie in my friend’s kitchen, from her mother, well into college.  Prior to that, my extensive reading (including the delicious details from Enid Blyton books) in my early childhood had immersed me in worlds I had not really lived in.  Leading me to believe, that apple pie was a favorite childhood memory.

Now before you dismiss all this as one of my eccentricities, you may want to look up ‘False Memories’ or ‘Inaccurate Memories’ on the net.  Contrary to what most of us think, our memories are not accurate, factual accounts of things as they happened.  They are plastic and malleable, subject to suggestion, sometimes unknowingly borrowed from others through frequent discussion and so on.  There are serious implications to this when you add in the finding that ‘Remembering negative events can stimulate high levels of false memory, relative to remembering neutral events.‘ (~ see Source).

Further consider the following: “Marianne Hirsch (“The Generation of Postmemory”) writes, ‘Postmemory describes the relationship that the generation after those who witnessed cultural or collective trauma bears to the experience of those who came before, experiences that they “remember” only by means of the stories, images, and behaviors among which they grew up. But these experiences were transmitted to them so deeply and affectively as to seem to constitute memories in their own right. Postmemory‟s connection to the past is thus not actually mediated by recall but by imaginative investment, projection, and creation.’ (106/107)”  (~ see Source)

The implications of this are huge, both at an individual and collective level.

We often cling to our version of what we think happened and it can continue to cause a great deal of pain, anger and many other negative emotions, affecting our well being and relationships for a significant period of time.  It is not uncommon for the wounds and grudges to persist in individuals, families or collectives, without ever questioning the possibility that something in the story may have got a little different along the way.

Consider for a moment,

  • What if it did not happen the way you remember it?
  • Would you be willing to question your beliefs about this event/person/collective?
  • Would this help you be willing to let it go?
  • Would you rather be right, or free?

For those who struggle with forgiveness, starting afresh and seeing anew, if this article prompts you to look for means to be less rigid in the defense of your memory – there are plenty of tools that can help you.  Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and Emotion Code can both help in releasing the trapped emotions that keep our narratives locked in place. Ho ‘oponopono is also a wonderful way to correct the errors in our perception.

Fortunately for me, in this instance, I only had to laugh at my own fabrications, and happily enjoy the Apple Pie that inspired this post.   But, I hope this article helps someone question and release a troubling memory and also laugh at the tricks our mind plays with us, and how we buy into the drama all too seriously.

Apple Pie

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What does your cooking say about you?

Who you are shows up in everything you do…  

Consider this:  If its 2 minute noodles that you make when you have to cook – well, that could mean you like to get things done quickly, without a fuss, just meeting the basic needs of the moment.   If you add in the cheese, vegetables or the eggs – you probably have an interest in flavor, as long as there isn’t too much of a fuss.  Or you aren’t completely insensitive to nutrition and self care.  On the other extreme, if you enjoy preparing an elaborate 7 course meal, then this could mean a willingness for hard work, liking for details and an interest in sensual tastes!

This thought came to me as I prepared my nth salad in the last few months.  One of the reasons that I make them so often is of course the fact that I have found a great supplier for my greens.  But there is certainly a great deal of alignment between making Salads and who I am:

Salad

  1. Keep it Short and Simple : I have a preference for crispness, essence, efficiency and speed.  
  2. Start with what you have:  I rarely look up a recipe and go shopping for ingredients.   My cooking is usually a putting together of what ever is on hand.  My approach to life has been pretty much the same… if life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.  Or reach for the tequila and salt!
  3. Be Resourceful and Adaptable: I generally make things up as I go along, modifying the process as per what happens along the way.  
  4. Enjoy Variety:  A small number of ingredients can be mixed to provide a wide range of tastes.  Keeps things interesting!
  5. Make it Colorful:  The bright, radiant colors appeal to me not only in food, but in life.  I like to think its been a fun and colorful life.
  6. Be Health Conscious: With my personal life and work both revolving around matters of holistic health and well being, this is a given.

I could go on with this flattering list 🙂

But the point is to encourage a similar introspection for you…

  • What do your cooking habits say about you?
  • Do you now notice something you haven’t appreciated about yourself?
  • Do you now feel there is something you would like to change?

If you find this inquiry interesting or helpful in any way, do share your insights as comments!

Recipe: Iceberg Salad

Iceberg lettuce + Cottage Cheese + Yellow Bell Pepper +Black Olives + Cherry Tomatoes + Green Pepper
Tossed in Olive Oil + Salt + Paprika + Dried Basil & Oregano

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