Tag Archives: life

Dive in Deep

“When the smells from the kitchen
Overtake the awareness,
Reading the menu loses its appeal.”
Wu Hsin

Since I started sharing some food snaps on Facebook, several of my friends have been complaining.  They say I should be giving them samples of the dishes I prepare.  Simply tempting them with attractive photographs is unfair.  Providing recipes is not enough either.  They want the real thing.

There is no substitute for the experience. 

Because food is such a sensory experience, it is easy to understand their point of view.  From the sizzling sounds of a saute, the aromas of a curry, the vision of a decorated dessert, the texture of a perfect paratha to the overwhelming satiation of the taste buds by a delicacy – food leaves you no choice.  You are seduced into wanting to ‘know it’ and will not settle for less.  You will not settle for poetic descriptions or well captured photographs.  That is the power of our senses and their hold on us.

But there are matters of deep importance that do not present themselves as loudly, and yet remain a persistent voice in the background.  The  fundamental questions that lurk in every heart.  Such as:

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?  
  • What does all this mean?  
  • Is there a purpose?  
  • If so, what is it?  
  • If not, then what?

Your list may vary a little, but I am sure you get the gist.
More than looking to arrive at conclusions, exploring these in itself has great merit.
And as you pay attention, your answers will change over time.  As will you.

Most of us tend to park our inquiry aside for another day, but I choose to question this Retirement plan.  

The above quote from a non-dualistic teacher had me remembering how I used to feel that fully engaging with life and non-duality cannot go hand in hand.  But my experience has taught me otherwise.  It seems it is time to live from an awareness of the simultaneity of wave and ocean.  And for that, we cannot remain with intellectual discussion alone.

We read the books, we listen to the talks, we evaluate the newer teachers and choose our favorite points of view.
We debate for and against.  Succumb to the lure of captivating concepts.
And never test the waters.

Life is best understood in the living.
As Wu Hsin goes on to say,

“[Likewise,] one cannot learn to swim
While remaining dry.”

The nuts and bolts of everyday living test us and remind us throughout the day.  And if we are honest with ourselves, most of us on the path would find places we are still working on.  Its not as easy as it is sometimes made out to be.Where ‘awareness’, ‘unconditional love’, ‘forgiveness’, ‘letting go’, ‘allowing’, ‘accepting,’ and ‘Oneness’ are not simply intellectually and emotionally appealing concepts – but something you attempt to live in every moment.

When we fail to apply it, we become victims of our own jargon, reducing the wisdom to cliches that end up resulting in self sabotage.

So the invitation is to dive in deep – test the waters for yourself.
Theory only helps us  know about it.
To know it, we have to jump right in.

Whether hot or cold, calm or still, obscure or clear – I would like to experience this wave-ocean rather than simply talk(or write) about it.

How about you?  Wouldn’t you rather eat than look at the pictures?

🙂

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Image Source: BoardingPass.Gr

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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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Too Much Of A Good Thing + Recipe Apple Crumble

With all the emphasis on optimism, manifestation, happiness and positivity, we tend to focus our attention and desires on all that we deem to be ‘good’.  However, is it possible that there is something like too much of a good thing?

As a young child, my nephew was exceedingly fond of Gulab Jamuns.  On one occasion, he declared that he would skip the entire meal and eat only the dessert.  His insistence was indulged, because no one really expected him to eat as many as he did.  At the end of the meal, his relationship with his favorite dessert was forever transformed.  He did not eat another Gulab Jamun for the next ten years or so.

Food offers us a great lesson in diversity, balance and wholesomeness.  The success of any meal lies in finding the right blend of various flavors such that we enjoy a rounded, rich and savory experience.  If you happen to like spicy food, try adding too much chilly and you will soon see how a potentially wonderful dish quickly turns into a disaster.  Or add too much sugar to your dessert and you will find it makes you feel sick.

Yet, we often fail to apply this mindful balance to the happenings of life.  What if we recognized that it is the contrasts in our experience that lend such a rich texture and depth to our life?  That our habitual labeling of events as good or bad, and the consequent desire and rejection of the same lead to a never ending sense of insecurity, imbalance and incompletion?

What would it be like to welcome all of life, in it’s various colors and hues, without insisting on just one color, or disowning particular shades?

As I look back at this eventful year, I am sincerely grateful for all that it has brought.  For me, it has been a landmark  year in personal growth and evolution.  And no growth has ever come without it’s growing pains.  However, it has revealed within me a greater love and peace.  The ‘Sparkling Stillness‘ as I like to call it, seems deeper than ever before. So I am grateful.  For all that has happened, and for all the souls who made it what it was.

This Apple Crumble is rather representative of the wholesome balance I feel right now.  Richly textured, nourishing and nutritious, with just the right amount of tart, spice, sweetness, comfort and fulfilling satiation that comes from having fully lived all shades of life 🙂

Wishing you all a de-lightful New Year of enriching experiences!

Apple Crumble

Ingredients

3 Large Apples, cored, peeled and cut into small chunks
Little Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Cinnamon powder
2 tablespoons Sugar
1/3 rd cup Raisins, soaked in water and then dried

2 cups Swiss Muesli
80-100 grams melted (salted) butter
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar

Method

Toss the apple chunks in the sugar, lemon juice and spices.  Flatten into a buttered pie dish.  Sprinkle raisins over this layer.  Mix the Muesli, melted butter and brown sugar until it looks like bread crumbs.  Flatten this layer on top of the apples and raisins.

Bake in a preheated 180 C oven for about 25 minutes.

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Celebrating Life + Recipe Pineapple Upside-down Cake

Everyone has a different way of coping with loss.

Today is Christmas and it also happens to be my parent’s wedding anniversary.  My mother passed away nearly twenty years back.  Her loss was sudden and catastrophic for us all. Several loved ones have left after that.  Its been a long journey, and over the years, I have found that what brings me peace is focusing on the gratitude that they lived.  Instead of sinking into depression, I recollect the wonderful moments we had together and how  deeply they have touched and influenced my life and continue to do so.  So birthdays and anniversaries remain days of gratitude and celebration.  One month after my husband passed away, my friends and I celebrated his birthday with a wonderful party at our regular haunt.  We played his favorite music, ate his favorite food, clinked many a glass in good cheer and laughed at his idiosyncrasies.  The attitude took some by surprise, but to their credit – they joined in with whole-hearted support.  Several of them have told me how touched they were and how it helped them cope with his loss.

I have shared this approach with my clients as well.  Emotional Freedom Techniques has improved its efficacy.  Using The Choices Method in EFT, I ask them to focus on a mental snapshot of one of their happiest times together.  We tap for the grief, helplessness, etc.. , using an affirmation like: “Even though I am overwhelmed with grief, I am grateful __ was in my life.”  We then do another round focusing on this snapshot and then a last round alternating between the two.  I cannot tell you what a transformation it has brought about in grieving clients.

In this world of duality, let us embrace both realities of life – living and moving on are two sides of the same coin.

Today – I chose to make a modified version of an upside down Pineapple Cake, because my mom enjoyed it.  For my father, I made my version of Egg Florentine.  (Don’t ask me what the rose petals and almonds are doing on the cake, that was his idea!)

Merry Christmas to you all!  Let the good cheer spread far and wide 🙂

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

pineapple cake

Ingredients

Topping
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar (I used white)
1 medium pineapple (or 3/4th tin)
1/4  teaspoon Vanilla Bean scraping

 

 

 

Cake

1 egg
1/4 th cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean scraping
1/2 cup  milk
1/4th cup salted butter
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Method

Melt butter, sugar and vanilla together.  Add a little water if required.  Pour into a buttered cake dish.  Place Pineapple slices.

Beat the egg, add sugar, melted butter and milk, then the vanilla and sieved flour and baking powder.  Pour batter over the pineapple.  Bake in a preheated over (180 C) for about 40-45 minutes.  Take out and turn upside!  If you use white sugar, it will look like mine.  The more traditional one looks caramelized because of brown sugar.

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