“When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like the flame of a candle in a windless place.”
– Bhagavad Gita
“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.”
Here we are already halfway through June after a rain-drenched April and May. the sun is finally beginning to shine, the temperature is beginning to climb, flowers are blooming and the earth is green. Everything seems to be easier when the weather is mild. Winter aches and pains are eased or gone, cold weather gear is stowed, and boots are put away.
If only we could find a way to clean up and declutter our brain! The good news is that we can! If you are regularly attending a good yoga class, you know that part of the practice is to “quiet the mind: – Dhyana. In yoga, the word means contemplation and meditation. Dhyana is taken up in Yoga exercises and is a means to samadhi and self-knowledge.
So many people tell me that they have difficulty sitting still, and why not? After all, our culture has prided itself for years now on being “crazy busy”. Yet the feedback I receive in my teaching practice in both Cardiac Rehab and other hospital settings always ALWAYS ALWAYS is about the stillness, the quiet, the meditation. In fact, more people tell me this has changed their life than any other single thing that we practice in yoga class.
So let me suggest to you that you begin to try meditation.
When I googled “meditation” there were over 96 million results. WHAT? That’s crazy! How can something so very simple be so complicated? The truth is, that it’s not. What’s complicated is the self-discipline involved and cultivating the belief that this extremely simple practice will really help you. Please believe me. It will. With repetition, this becomes easier and easier.
1. Sit comfortably.
2. Close your eyes, or lower the gaze to an unfocused one.
3. Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
4. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.
5. Stay here for five minutes. When your attention wanders, (and it will) simply bring it back to the breath.
6. Take note of the thoughts that enter this space. This is where ideas are born.
7. Deep breath in. Repeat tomorrow.
Recipe of the Month: Ultimate Gazpacho
Prep Time: 25 minutes (plus 2 hours chill time) Yield: 4 Servings
This gazpacho recipe is the best! It’s a refreshing chilled summer soup, perfect for your garden tomatoes and cucumber. Be sure to make it in advance so the soup can chill for at least 2 hours. Recipe yields 5 cups, enough for 4 servings.
• 2 ½ pounds ripe red tomatoes (about 4 large or 9 small)
• 1 small Vidalia onion* (½ pound), peeled and cut into rough 1″ chunks
• 1 small cucumber (½ pound), peeled and seeded
• 1 medium red bell pepper, cored and seeded
• ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish
• 1 large garlic clove, peeled
• ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
• ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
To prepare your veggies, place your blender bowl, a medium serving bowl, and a small bowl on the counter. Core the tomatoes and cut them into rough 1″ chunks. Reserve about ¼ cup of the juicy tomato seeds and place them in your small bowl (we’ll use them as a garnish later). Add half of the tomato chunks to the blender, and the other half to your serving bowl. Add all of the onion chunks to the blender.
Cut off about one-fourth of the cucumber. Finely chop that piece and place it in the small bowl. Slice the rest of the cucumber into rough 1″ chunks, and divide them between the blender and the serving bowl. Cut off about one-fourth of the bell pepper, finely chop that piece, and add it to the small bowl. Slice the rest of the bell pepper into rough 1″ chunks and divide them between the blender and the serving bowl.
To the blender, add the basil, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt and about 10 twists of black pepper. Securely fasten the lid and blend, starting on low and increasing to high speed, until the mixture is completely smooth about 2 minutes.
Pour the contents of the serving bowl (the remaining chunks of tomato, cucumber and bell pepper) into the blender. Fasten the lid and blend for just 10 to 20 seconds, until the ingredients are broken up into small pieces. Stop there, or blend a little longer if you prefer smaller pieces.
Add a small pinch of salt to the small bowl of garnishes, stir, and store it in the fridge. Chill the soup for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.
Before serving, taste, and add additional salt (I sometimes add another ¼ teaspoon) and/or black pepper if necessary. To serve, divide the soup into small bowls or cups, and top with the reserved cucumber and bell pepper. Top with a few tiny or torn basil leaves and a light sprinkle of pepper. Leftover servings keep well, covered and refrigerated, for 3 to 4 days.
Contact me for information about yoga classes and the opportunity to work one-on-one together to find healing and stillness within yourself.