True Beauty

“Always remember your true beauty comes from within, no matter what methods you use to beautify your body on the outside. If your heart is filled with envy, hate,  jealousy, and ugly, unhappy thoughts, it will discolor your aura for all to see. What you thought yesterday, you will live today. What you think today, you will live tomorrow. If you want to live a life filled with health, beauty, joy, and happiness, then think only of that which is beautiful, and you will be beautiful.”

-anonymous

….now how wonderful is that?

On Presence

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh

Well, I must say this has always been a rather difficult one for me….this whole “being present” thing. Along with my curiosities in yoga, happiness, and overall general well-being, the topic of presence always seems to arrive somewhere in the midst of these discussions. I am reminded everywhere from people like Eckhart Tolle and the  Buddha to facebook postings (thanks Laura!) that the power of the present moment is HUGE….. oh! and it makes you a happier person too. Who would have thought that the simple idea of being present could have such an impact on your life?

But sometimes its hard to be fully present, especially if you are not too familiar with what this feels like. Just the other day I had to acknowledge how truly difficult it can be when things got a little rough in my neck of the woods. But, I tried to stand back and observe (for the most part) and  learned about my actions and reactions, and thus more about myself. These times can make you stronger if you approach them in the present way. You know there will be times when things aren’t going exactly the way you want them too, people upset you, life seems out of your control, emotions are stirred….and for me, this is when it is truly difficult to be present and not get carried away with your emotions. Presence to me means dealing with emotions that come up (positive or not), recognizing and simply noticing them, and learning not to cover them up by the endless habits we are accustomed to. (I’m so guilty of hitting the chocolate chips!) And the more I practice this, the more I become aware of myself, and the more I grow. It is an unbelievable feeling to be an active participant in your personal growth, and to watch yourself evolve right in front of your own eyes. Magical, I say! It’s actually really empowering. So, where do I start? Get me there now you say? Well, here are some tips and tricks for  returning yourself home, to the present:

Focus on your breath: Your breath is always there. (Hopefully!) Just noticing the inhales and the exhales is an excellent idea to bring you to the here and now. It is especially helpful when you are in situations that are difficult. Approach your breath with curiosity… Wow, I am breathing faster and shallower! Maybe it’s because there is a man robbing a bank three feet away! You can learn so much by just watching your breath. Anywho, here are some useful breath techniques.

Get out into nature: I am a true believer that is is so beneficial to connect to the earth. Some surf, bike, garden, fish; whatever you enjoy outdoors…. do more of it! Returning to nature can create more peace and calm in your life, so you can thus enjoy the present ever so much more.

Use your senses: Do yoga and learn to feel your body and to listen in return. Buy fresh flowers that smell amazing. Look at beautiful artwork. Listen to music that you love. Engage your whole being in the world.

Mantras: It might sound weird or foreign, but just because its a little different don’t run away from something that might actually help you. When my mind is perturbed by something that is doing me no benefit, I try to recite a mantra. Or sing a kirtan verse or song line. This is a great way to be present because you can also notice your breath as you do it. Here is one of my favorite mantras: “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts and actions of my own life contribute to that happiness in some way.”

Meditate: I guess I couldn’t leave this one out! There are countless ways to meditate. You can learn ways via the internet, books, or even podcasts. You can also turn activities into a meditative practice. Washing dishes, cooking, cleaning the house can all be meditative practice. Just simply focus your attention on what you are doing, on how it feels in your body. It’s that easy…. or is it??

Sometimes when I am present in a hard situation, I try to remember I am learning, I am progressing, and that it will all be worth it. It might be hard in the moment but stick with your practice, and I promise… the results will be so very amazing. It is just something you have to experience for yourself..

What do you do to arrive in the present moment?

A Link & Workshop Info

Greetings from the unusually warm and summery weather in the Monterey Bay. I have to admit, the sunshine is helping me beam. It’s true that normally I’m a fog type of gal, loving the overcast cozy feeling it brings to my nature. But even I can’t resist the sunshine and its effects and contagiousness from time to time. I just find myself with more energy, more smiles, and finally having an excuse to grab an icy cold green smoothie. Love, love, love.

summer lovin’

A couple exciting tid bits I wanted to share with you. First, I have listed below my upcoming 2012 Fall Workshop schedule. You can also check out the “Workshops” tab above to find out more info. I am beyond excited to be teaching some more raw dessert recipes, as well as how to include more healthy super foods into your diet. So powerful they are.

Super Foods Workshop, Saturday September 22nd. We will be making raw almond milk and flour, raw chocolate bliss balls (delicious!), green smoothies, and learning how to sprout grains and seeds. A great chance to get started adding nutrient and flavor dense food to your lovely life.

Cozy Fall Baking, Sunday October 28th. A good fall seems extra complete with apple pie, banana bread, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, and mulled cider. We will making all those things while learning how to utilize whole grains and bake using mostly vegan recipes. Coffee, many baked yummies, and a vegetarian lunch is included.

Healthier Holidays, Saturday November 10th. Everyone wants to partake in the sweet fun of the holidays, but now we can learn how to make desserts that wont make us feel icky after. Actually they will help us feel great! Healthy, sweet and delicious finally meet when we make vegan chocolate macaroon truffles, homemade pumpkin butter, and raw pecan pie.

I am beyond excited for the upcoming workshops and I hope to see you there. 🙂 I also wanted to share with you the sweetest link over at a blog called Get Allergy Wise. Sarah Chuck is a faithful customer and supporter of Happy Girl Kitchen (where I bake) in Monterey, and has a great blog that lends great ideas and raises awareness about food allergies. She wrote such a kind post about her experience with my baked goodies… take a peak! It made my day.

Wishing all of you so many smiles and so much happiness…..

Inspiration

Somedays you don’t want to move. For me those days are typically called Sundays. And yes, sometime certain Mondays, Tuesdays, (you get the picture) feel like Sundays as well.

I have found that in a world that constantly pushes us to be productive and to push ourselves to be constantly doing, it’s no wonder that sometimes it feels as though one day to rest just doesn’t seem like enough. (especially when Sundays don’t even equal rest sometimes!)

But not I! I am a the queen of lounging. I love cuddling, cozy time spent on the couch, books and tea in hand, enjoying rest. Its a huge part of my wellbeing. I find that I get rundown from time to time and that it is the utmost importance to take rest seriously. When I am resting, preferably in a supine position, I find that it is also the time that I am most open to inspiration. Here are some great ways to combine the wonderousness of rest and inspiration….

Wellness Reads. I am continuously so inspired by authors out there who have found the best ways to lead their lives. I like to read all the books out there and then pick and choose what works for me. I like to call it my cocktail of well-being. Current reads? The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberley Snyder, Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr

My Google Reader. I fill my reader with people who are living beautiful, healthful lives. When I read their posts I am so delighted to be reassured how many people are out there doing amazing things. There are some who make me laugh, others who are deeply reflective, and many who inspire me with innovative recipes. When you read about people who are doing healthful things, you are more likely to feel inspired to be that way too. Some of my Google Reader favorites: healthy.happy.life., the Healthy Everythingtarian, Roost

Tea and OWN Network. Sometimes you are just too tired to read, its true. So why not watch something feel good, instead of the feel bad reality shows. (I’m so guilty of doing that too) OWN Network has some full episodes online that are geared toward better living in general. Recently I watched a Lifeclass with Bishop T.D. Jakes…. I laughed so hard I cried, and then I cried so hard because I was actually inspired. Well, ok, I didn’t really cry that hard, but it was entertaining and really uplifting. Ah yes.. and brew your nice self some yummy tea while you do it!

Restorative Heart Openers. SAY WHAT??? Don’t be afraid, it is actually very simple. Restorative yoga poses are like lying on the plumpest couch in the world but 100 times better. Heart openers bring yourself to a more positive, uplifted state, and you just simply feel great after. You just might leave the posture more inspired than ever. This is my favorite….

supported reclined bound angle pose

to get into the posture: Place a long pillow (or two) lengthwise at the base of your spine. Gently lower yourself down onto the pillow, making sure that your head and neck are supported as well. You should feel a slight backbend in your spine and your heart lifted. You may place blankets or other forms of support under your knees for added comfort and relaxation. Lay here and focus on your breath for 5-20 minutes. When you are finished, gently rolled over to your right side and then up to a seated position. Amazing!

What are some ways you like to restore and/or inspire yourself?

On Being Connected & a Salad

I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I’m this excited right now over a salad. A rush has just come over me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would normally classify myself as a strong salad enthusiast, a daily consumer of the fresh green stuff in salad, juice, and even smoothie form. BUT, I’ve never been this excited about eating it before….

glory

I hope I haven’t frightened you off too soon. I guess I’ll  give you a bit of background. I’m a regular meanderer of the farmers markets. Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and the occasional Sunday you will find me, canvas tote in hand, searching for my established favorites and finding the new stuff the season has to offer. Over the years I’ve graduated to regular conversations about weather and family with the walnut guy, the slightly creepy mushroom man, and the one who makes my weekly Monday night dinner. (Falafel man, I’m forever indebted to you.) I love shopping outside, the fresh produce galore that the central coast has to offer, buying flowers, familiar run-ins, and the list goes on and on. And on…

But today! Making my salad! From the farmers market veggies! And my own from the garden! (note: I am usually not an exclamation mark type of gal) I was not only thinking about what was going in my meal, but acknowledging the people who supplied me with the produce. It was almost like the joyousness I experience from the market was condensed into my bowl.  I began to feel thankful for everyone, thankful for my food, thankful for being able to enjoy a fresh salad. Wow! How often does that happen? People usually scorn their salads as too healthy and therefore un fun rather than sing their praises.  But no…as I started eating it,  the mint!, the thyme!, the summer cucumbers!,  the peppery arugula!, and  the avocados!, began to fill me to the brim with joy and connectedness. I guess the same connectedness that I feel with the earth and the community when I go to the outdoor markets several times a week. Forging ahead into my dish,I tasted nature, full of flavor in its pure form with just the tiniest help from the balsamic vinegar and curry salt Ben’s parents had gifted us. I was thankful for that too. Just simply acknowledging where this stuff was coming from completely changed and enhanced my experience. I felt full of love and gratitude, and was astonished that it all started with my salad.

summer cucumber power

I read this post right before I had the time of my life making and eating the best salad ever. (I know I’m a weirdo) It seems to make sense to be feel happy and grateful for the things that make your more whole and healthier in your life (cough…fresh greens…cough), but as with many things, we often just take them for granted. Eating closer to the Earth has brought me so much more clarity on myself and the nature that surrounds me. So in hindsight,  I guess I can’t help but get excited about it. In the end it’s not just the salad; it’s the connectedness to the seasons, the farmers, the nature, and fueling myself with mean and clean greens that gets me all too blissful.

Perfect Summer Salad

serves 1

1/2 avocado

1 large handful farmers market or self foraged greens

1 tablespoon fresh herbs such as mint, basil, thyme, or dill (have you tried growing them yourself?)

1/2 large cucumber, sliced

1/2 of a summer stone fruit (i.e. peaches, plums)

1 tablespoon excellent quality balsamic vinegar

sea salt, curry salt, or favorite salt to taste

fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a beautiful bowl and relish every last bite….slowly. 🙂

What has been an simple and/or unexpected joy in your life lately?