No mud, no lotus

27_tantra_mooladhara_image_300_w
Mooladhara Chakra – Four petalled lotus.

“It is possible of course to get stuck in the “mud” of life. It’s easy enough to notice mud all over you at times. The hardest thing to practice is not allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by despair. When you’re overwhelmed by despair, all you can see is suffering everywhere you look. You feel as if the worst thing is happening to you. But we must remember that suffering is a kind of mud that we need in order to generate joy and happiness. Without suffering, there’s no happiness. So we shouldn’t discriminate against the mud. We have to learn how to embrace and cradle our own suffering and the suffering of the world, with a lot of tenderness.”  Tich Nhat Han

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Landlocked in Fur

Fellini by Alberto Cabrera Luna
Model Fellini Photo by Alberto Cabrera Luna

I was meditating with my cat the other day
and all of a sudden she shouted,
“What happened?”

I knew exactly what she meant, but encouraged
her to say more— feeling that if she got it all out on the table
she would sleep better at night.

So I responded, “Tell me more my dear.”
and she soulfully meowed,

“Well, I was mingled with the sky. I was comets
whizzing here and there. I was suns in heat, hell—I was
galaxies. But now look— I am
landlocked in fur.”

To this I said, “I know exactly what
you mean>”

What to say about conversations
between

mystics?

by Turkaram (c. 1608-1649)

A quiet mind

Sri Nisargadatta-Maharaj
Sri Nisargadatta-Maharaj

“A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part”

Nisargadatta Maharaj

Granola Tropical

Something that I love about granola is that it is healthy, nutty, delicious and it brings an element of splendour to your breakfast. I must confess that I don’t like raisins, so being able to make my own granola has been more than fabulous. I substituted raisins for dried mangoes, not bad hey! Not liking raisins and loving mangoes instead is certainly not the only reason why making your own granola is much better than buying it. I personally like to be generous with the nuts and I love the crunchy texture of this particular version. When I put it in the oven my flat was filled with a beautiful cinnamon scent that made me feel warm and at home. It has been 2 years since I moved to Edinburgh and having that feeling was just great. Home is where your oven heart is isn’t it?

90ml water

90ml sunflower oil

135ml honey

Generous tsp ground cinnamon

Scant tsp salt 340g jumbo oats

80g whole skin-on almonds + a few hazelnuts + a few macadamias

90g sunflower seeds

90g pumpkin seeds

100g dried mangoes, sliced if they are too big

Heat the oven to 160°C.

Put in the water, oil, honey, cinnamon and salt in a small saucepan and heat it till the honey (you can also use sugar) dissolves. Measure out the oats, almonds and seeds into the largest possible baking tray. Mix in the syrup thoroughly. Spread out the mixture evenly. Bake for 35 minutes altogether. Half way through, take the granola out of the oven, break up any lumps and mix it around. At the end, turn off the oven, prop the door slightly ajar, and leave for 15 minutes. When the granola comes out of the oven, thoroughly mix it again, adding the mangoes.

Raspberry Brownies

Maria, the lovely Californian lady who works as one of the managers of the Healthy Life Centre‘s rooms where I teach weekly Yoga classes, made these delicious brownies for a MacMillan charity event last year. What made the brownies so memorable was the tangy flavour and moistness of fresh raspberries. I asked her if she could teach me how to make them and she kindly invited me to bake at her kitchen. It was a fun day and I had the opportunity to get to know Maria more. She loves birds and they love her, we could see them flying outside the kitchen window. Apart from working as a manager at the HLC she is an artist (now we understand why there are always stunningly colourful flowers in the Yoga room). Her paintings have a fascinating dreamlike quality; you can see her work (and her world) here.

Back to the recipe, I strongly recommend to use the best quality dark chocolate you can find. Enjoy! Makes 8 chunky brownies

220 dark chocolate

125 butter chopped

40gr cocoa powder, sifted

200gr caster sugar

125g plain flour, sifted

1tsp baking powder 3 eggs beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract 200gr fresh raspberries

Icing sugar to serve

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (355F) Grease and line a baking pan with baking paper.
  2. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and hold over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate mixture is smooth.
  3. In a separated bowl combine the cocoa, sugar, flour and baking powder. Stir into the chocolate mixture and combine well.
  4. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract and with an electric beater beat until the mixture thickens. Add the raspberries and gently fold through with a metal spoon.
  5. Pour the sticky mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake for 25-30mins or until set around the edges. The brownie should be spriny to touch but slightly wobbly in the centre.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin for 15-20 minutes. Lift the brownie out of the tin and transfer the board.
  7. With a sieve, sprinkle with icing sugar. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Christmas in Mexico

Christmas is a lovely time of the year. There is joy, celebration and … intensity. I am truly humbled by my family and the challenges that arise whenever we meet up. I remember one of my teachers once told me that her family, her daughters, sons and grandchildren, were her real gurus. In a time when gurus have abused their power I have come to the conclusion that you do not need a guru for guidance, everyone and anyone can teach you a lesson in life.

My own family offers me plenty of opportunities to exercise all the different aspects of yogic psychology. No wonder Ahimsa (non-violence) is the first of the 5 Yamas (disciplines) according to Sri Patanjali. When we have the intention to be non-violent we establish a very clear path and direction in our lives. There is a softening and a letting go of beliefs (i.e. I want to prove my point, I want to prove I am right, they must know this or that, things should be this way or that way and not this way or that way etc). Ahimsa is a discipline and it is not only directed towards others but towards our own being.

When we have the intention to be non-violent towards ourselves we become more loving and accepting. We stop judging ourselves and others for not being perfect; that means to say we tolerate our imperfections and those of others; we start to get real and eventually we are able to recognise what matters the most. There is nothing wrong with being an imperfect daughter, mother, sister, cousin. As we learn to accept our imperfections we actually become less aggressive, less tight and fixed in “shoulds” and “woulds” and we start to feel free and more calm. At least that is what I experienced during these festive days. Now I am happy to embrace January and this New Year.

I love this photo next to the Christmas tree, it was taken by my multi-talented brother Beto Cabrera, who kindly and patiently took many other lovely pictures of his sister. I will share those with you in another post ;). As you can see, this posture offers a twist that helps to speed up metabolism. I must say I’ve become a Yoga twists fan and will be sharing lots of them in class with you this semester.

Lunge Twist or Equestrian Twist:

1. Practice 1 round of Surya Namaskar and warm up your ankles.

2. Take Downward Facing Dog.

3. Step the right foot forwards between the hands and drop your left knee down to the floor (use a blanket if you have sensitive knees).

4. Bring your left wrist to the right and press it to your right thigh. Twist the torso from the waist aiming to keep your hips as square as possible.

5. Extend your right arm back and gaze back. If this is uncomfortable for your neck, then gaze forward and maintain the pose for 2 to 5 minutes.

6. Untwist and take Downward Facing Dog.

7. Step the left foot forwards between the hands and drop the right knee down to the floor. Repeat the twist on the other side.

This is great way to release the back and it offers a gentle detox. Enjoy!

Allow by Danna Foulds

A beautiful grey day
A very beautiful grey day

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightening bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel. Resist, and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.

Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting it all in –
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.

In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.