It is the beginning of spring allergy season in Atlanta and we are already experiencing record high pollen counts. Even if you don’t have serious allergies you may be experiencing the characteristic sore throat, itchy eyes, irritability and achiness that are signs of the ongoing attack on our immune function. There are some simple things that we can do to manage our health during the upcoming onslaught.
Wonderful Spring to you! The Equinox has arrived with many messages of joy! The flowers are exploding and the earth is rejoicing at the turning toward the sun. I hope you are finding time to smell the new blossoms and to enjoy the warming sun. Even as I am joyful in this return of energy and enthusiasm, I have to laugh each day as I head into Atlanta traffic and am reminded that I have a lot of work yet to do in the tolerance and patience department!
On the days when the sun shines and companionship abounds in support of our practice it’s easy to engage and be active in the outside world. On other days we may feel the need to turn within and isolate ourselves as we wrestle with our personal perspectives and internal resistance. In these darker moments we have opportunity to reflect that the only absolute is that everything changes and tomorrow will be a new day.
February 24, 2014
I hope you are finding opportunities to be outside during these lovely warm days while the clearing tinge of crispness lingers in the air and the sun opens the space in your heart. The birds have been singing up a storm, with cardinal, goose and hawk sightings in the nature preserve and the sound of Owl resonating evening and morning.
These early days of spring are such a time of alternation. Just as the weather goes from cold, damp and windy to crisp, warm and sunny, the internal landscape is one day positive, focused, active and directed, the next day reflective and broody while internal resistance to the challenges of the transformative imperative surface.
Spring is so much about transformation. This is the season when we take action, when we are driven to make changes. As we come out of the period of internal reflection and planning, setting goals, we have the impetus to begin to actualize the dreams.
What are your dreams?
Wishing you a wonderful 2014 Year of the Horse. I suspect that most of you have already felt the quickening energy of this new year and are feeling an acceleration which, while fast, feels good after the slow, almost sluggish energetic of the past year. Between now and the next full moon on February 14th, is the traditional time of celebrating the Lunar New Year. The fifteen day Spring Festival is one of the times during the year when people all across China go home to be with family. The two weeks end with the Lantern Festival, which is also the first day of spring by the lunar calendar. Already the songbirds are heralding the arrival of spring, as the warming days arrive and the nights grow shorter!
With spring arriving and the results of our winter feasting and sleeping showing in the body, it is time to start pushing the physical and exercising more. The consolidation effect of winter has now set up a harmonious condition for the detoxification of the body through heating and energizing exercise. It is time to engage in more rigorous physical pursuits such as hard qigong, Tai Chi Qi Gong 18 part 2, bone stretching, running or brisk walking, laying qi gong, etc. In March I invite you to kick start your daily practice with a Spring Tune Up/ Create the Qi Gong Habit class: 24 classes over 28 days in which we will focus on cleansing hard qi gong, building core strength, and creating a healthy habit! Details to follow...
In the vegetarian diet that monks and priests in both the Taoist and Vedantic traditions follow we try to eat food that is full of life force. Beans and seeds are the most powerfully alive of foods: just think, simply by adding water, you can trigger their ability to grow a whole new plant! Roots and tubers such as potatoes, carrots, beets, and such are right up there with seeds in their ability to bring forth new life under the right conditions.
A challenge of this diet is ensuring the consumption of adequate protein. In particular, beans are a nourishing replacement for meat, cheese and eggs in the diet. Often maligned because of the bloating and flatulence they can produce, here are some simple methods to reduce that effect.
- Starting with the dry beans of your choice, soak them in pure water for at least one hour and then discard the soak water. Cover again with pure water and now soak for at least 3-4 more hours. I generally soak them overnight.
- When you cook beans, as they come to a boil, foam rises to the top of the pot – skim this off and discard. (Don't worry if you can't get all of it.)
- Don't combine beans and cabbage (or bok choy) in the same meal – this is an explosive combination! If your system is sensitive, you may need to avoid combining beans and cruciform vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts as well.
- Do not add salt to the cooking beans until they are fully cooked. Once you add salt, they will not soften any more.
Five Element Bean Stew (Adapted from The Yoga Cookbook)
⅓ cup Lima beans (metal phase)
¼ cup mung beans (wood phase)
¼ cup black beans (kidney phase)
¼ cup red beans (fire phase)
⅓ cup chick peas (earth phase)
2 bay leaves (optional)
1 carrot diced
1 small butternut squash peeled, seeded and diced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried savory (optional)
2-4 tablespoons Miso
Soak beans in pure water for at least 1 hour. Pour off soak water and discard. Cover again with plenty of pure water and soak for at least 3 more hours (I usually soak overnight or longer). Discard soak water.
Place beans in a large pot with bay leaf, add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and boil hard for at least 10 minutes. Skim foam off the top of the pot and discard. Reduce temperature, cover and simmer 40 minutes. Check water level periodically and ensure beans remain covered with water.
Add carrot and squash to beans along with thyme and savory. Bring back to boil and then simmer until everything is tender – about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the miso.
Serve with rice, millet or fresh corn bread for a delectable treat.