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Archive for May, 2009

Arboretum 016The first step is simple: Just do it… just drop it. We could argue that this is it; the buck stops there so to speak. And you might be thinking, “it can’t be that easy… my mind has been food obsessed, diet obsessed, “health” obsessed for so long I’m not even sure its possible to just drop it!”

From one perspective, this is it, and what we ultimately need to do in order to act out of a different paradigm. From another perspective we can see that there are endless reasons as to why we have trouble dropping the crazy mind when it comes to eating.

First of all we are toying with our survival instinct: there are primitive forces at work.

Second, we are overwhelmed with “what to eat and what not to eat.” What is deemed “good” and what is deemed “bad” in any given time frame is subject to ever changing popular trends. It can be quite dizzying and one is left with a growing sense of distrust. We can see the insidious nature of this distrust in relationship with ourselves (for example trusting consciousness, our Being to Know when and what to eat), and our relationship with “other” (for example a growing distrust in whatever the newest nutritional, or health recommendations are).

Third: We have no higher context to base our “food relationship” in. If everything is about calories, fat grams, protein, antioxidants (and all of the other micro-units that we can break food into), and about how we as an individual look and feel as a result of this protein bar, or that low carb diet, then how are we possibly going to be able to drop the crazy mind when choosing what to eat!?

Solutions:
1. Get clear that you are ready to embrace a new perspective. Aren’t you tired of food and body obsessions? Commit to putting your attention on something other than the crazy thoughts when they come up. This is where it all starts.

2. Follow some basic guidelines and do this because you know in your heart of hearts that this is the right thing to do: Eat as fresh, regional and in season as you can. Eat real food, and make it organic when you are able. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. And finally, put your attention on gratitude as you eat: SO much went into what goes into your mouth, and what goes into your mouth ultimately creates the substrate that is you. If you make these guidelines non negotiable then you are well on your way to cultivating an internal trust with yourself, a trust that guides us to right action.

3. Contemplate this fact: What you eat affects not just you, it literally impacts the whole. Your consciousness is impacted by the food you eat, then you impact others through interactions, and this in turns has impact on the very culture in which we live. Do you want to make the world a better place? Well then begin with yourself, and start with responsibly choosing foods that embody vitality and that are cultivated with respect. The higher context is this: We change the world through our conscious choices, what better place to start then with our relationship to food.

Love,

Tiffany

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chopin veggiesI love Amber’s line from the last post: “even if we’re making these wonderful and smart choices around food, it doesn’t necessarily mean our relationship to food is any different. It can still be convoluted with impure motivations and fraught with personal fears and desires.” 

One of the courses that we soon will be offering through Eating for Evolution will be focused on helping folks to transcend this “problem” based relationship with food. How that is needed! And we have a lot of work to do as a culture if we truly intend to lift ourselves out of what I like to call “food neuroticism.”

For now, start to notice all of the “voices” or thoughts that come up in your mind as you begin to decide what to eat. I want you to see and experience first hand how un-simple and downright disconnected from “body reality” our thoughts about food can be. Here are some of the common ones:
How much fat?
How many calories ?
s it cheap and fast?
What is the glycemic index?
an I lose weight if I eat this?
Will this make me bloated?
I want it but I shouldn’ have it.
Oh but I want it!
Oh but I REALLY shouldn’t have it.
Does this have enough fiber?
Is this “heart healthy?”
I ate ___ for breakfast, will ____ this be ok If I eat ____ will I be able to fit into _____?

And the list goes on. But notice that no-where up there are questions like “what does my body really need or want?” or “Am I hungry?” Where is the simplicity? I think that it gets lost somewhere in the complexity of our “knowledge” around “nutritionism.”

Now science has brought us many wonderful insights and I am most certainly a proponent of knowledge and forward progress. But what I ask is, is all of this scientific knowledge about food and nutrition actually helping us move forward? Open ended question, and open for debateŠ would love to hear your thoughts.

Being in the field myself, I have come to see that my increasing knowledge around the reductionist aspects of food (protein, vitamins, mineral, antioxidants), has simply served to re-enforce deep and time honored facts: Eat food, real food, as unprocessed and whole as possible. When you do this, you will get all of these fantastic micronutrients without having to worry about it! Eat lots of plants, and prepare them simply. Eat as many things that grow in your area as possible. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. And eat food that makes your entire Being feel alive and alert.

These are pretty straight forward guidelines and are fundamentally simple and good. They are important to embrace in order to shift our food neuroticism. Next post: “How to drop the crazy mind when choosing what to eat!”

Warmly, Tiffany

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simple green

Photo by Eric Schey

To add onto our theme of Spring posts I’ve been thinking about simplicity. For ages spring has been associated with simplicity. Following in Mother Natures footsteps we are naturally inclined to drop excess and take in only what we need to fuel our growth. This is a perfect time of year to lighten our load by detoxing the body by eating fresh and simple meals. Despite the hottest trends of eating local, fresh and organic, our modern lifestyle far exceeds the realm of simplicity. Perhaps this is because our motives are derived from fear of our current environmental crisis, or our conscious or sub-conscious desire to fulfill the popular “go green” image. It seems obvious that living a “green” lifestyle does not necessarily equate to living a life of simplicity, so I got to wondering, what does it really mean to live a simple lifestyle?

In our “go green!” culture simplicity seems to be a very misunderstood concept. We realize the way we are living now far exceeds the sustainable and moral life that we are striving for, but clearly it isn’t practical or productive to simply drop the way we live now and “go back” to living the way our ancestors did. Rather than regressing we need to find a new way of relating to simplicity. We’re use to thinking of simplicity as a something we do, an action we take to reduce complexity. For example, my husband and I use wind power electricity, we carpool or ride the bus when possible, we eat organically and of course, we’re avid recyclers. All admirable and necessary actions, but I think there is a deeper gem to be found in living simplistically. I think it isn’t something we do as much as it is something we become an expression of.

I am reminded of the ancient Taoists and how they understood the universe to be a process unfolding. They were acutely aware of the movement of qi and believed that nothing should be done to impede the maturation of the movement. They believed one should align themselves with the flow so as to not disturb the unfolding. As a result they lived simple lives in accordance with the spontaneous unfolding of the universe. But what about the times we’re living in now? We’re faced with an all time critically high crisis’s, problems our ancestors did not have to deal with. There is no question in my mind that our survival depends on us being able to find simpler ways of living, but just what that looks like is still a mystery. It’s possible we’ll come together through community, or create some new technology that will save us from extinction. The list of possibilities is endless, but unfortunately all too easy to push off onto the shoulders of others.

What I’m interested in exploring is what each individual can do right now to start living more simply. While I don’t have the answer, I do think it requires seeing the changes that need to be made and having the integrity to act on them. But perhaps more importantly, it’s about having the courage to make a declaration for something beyond the individual self. Like the Taoists believed, it’s about aligning ourselves with the unfolding of evolution.

I think examining one’s relationship to food is a great way to explore simplicity. As we begin to really look at our relationship to food and pay attention to what it is our bodies want we find that they’re hungry for simplicity. The body runs best on foods that are in easy to digest combinations and they crave foods that are local, fresh and organic. But I think there’s even more to it than that, because as I mentioned above, even if we’re making these wonderful and smart choices around food, it doesn’t necessarily mean our relationship to food is any different. It can still be convoluted with impure motivations and fraught with personal fears and desires.

Check it out
As usual, don’t just take my word for it. Check it out yourself.
Contemplate what simplicity means and what it really looks like to be an expression of it?
What does it look like to eat from this position of simplicity?

-Amber

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Spring Within

Preparing for Spring
Spring is the time of new beginning. Mother nature becomes vibrant with growth and renewal, just as we become more active and energetic as we begin to shed the blanket of winter. Just as the tender young plants are pushing their way out of the earth, there is this sense of emerging energy coming up and out of us. We need to channel this energy into more movement and creative endeavors for the spring.

Simple for Spring
The energy of Spring is powerful! It is a burst emerging from the stillness of winter. We naturally want to expand, and lighten up. Spring energy is about renewal, planning and taking action to accomplish tasks and dreams. In order to harness the beautiful energy of Spring and be available to contribute fully to the fulfillment of plans and heart’s true desires, our bodies need to be prepared. Because of the dramatic shift in energy qualities between Winter and Spring, Spring is a wonderful time to detox the body. Rid the mind/body of the heaviness that is no longer needed. While there are many ‘miracle remedies’ to help one detox, clean and simple diet is truly the best way to clear out the toxins and lighten one’s load. Here are a few tips on how to detox:

Less is more!

  • Lighten up and experience the Spring within!

To Detoxify

  • Eat more raw & sprouted veggies, seeds and grains
  • Soak your grains and beans overnight before cooking
  • Cook your veggies for shorter times and at higher temperatures or lightly steam them
  • Increase sour and bitter flavors
  • Eat very little heavy foods like cheese and meats

Sour flavors:
Lemon, lime and grapefruit
Vinegar: Apple Cider, brown rice, sour plum.

Bitter flavors:
Rye, Romaine, Spring Greens, Asparagus, Quinoa, Citrus Peel, Alfalfa

What to eat
· Local and in season foods. This is a great time of year to check out local farmers markets!

· Foods with ascending and expansive qualities of Spring

· Pungent and naturally sweet flavored foods

Pungent
Basil, fennel, caraway, dill, bay leaf, rosemary, garlic and onion

Sweet
Complex carbohydrates- grains, legumes, seeds and other sweet starchy vegetables like carrots and beets.
Things to keep in mind:
1. Our relationship with food mirrors our relationship to life.

2. What does it look like for you to nourish the “spring within?”

3. Play! As adults we get so busy that we forget to delight in the sheer joy of being alive… Right now take a moment to feel that joy bubble up, and experience gratitude.

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My last post was very serious… and I realize that we need that seriousness at times in order to counter balance our often too casual relationship to life.

I was watching a movie called “The Beautiful Country” the other night. It was beautifully done and what was striking to me was the truthful depiction of what people in many other countries experience as a way of life… things that we are so far removed from. The main character, a Vietnamese young man, went through an extraordinary journey in order to come to “the beautiful country” of America. I was watching this and reflecting on how many patients I see every week who are horribly unhappy with their incredibly plush life. Reflecting on our obsession with being thin when people in many parts of the world would die to have some food and clean water. The disparity is simply incredible.

So when I say that we often have  a “too casual relationship to life,” this is what I am referring to. We have it good, really good and, in general, we do not take this seriously. I am bringing this up because we need to wake up. I’m not suggesting that we wallow in guilt or engage in idealist thoughts of returning to the “good old days,” when we lived on the land. It would be fantastic if we started by taking responsibility, right now, for where we are at and where we want to go. I see our relationship to food as a fantastic place to start.

What to do?

Start with giving thanks. This has nothing to with religion and everything to do with what is right. So much went into what is on your plate in any given moment. Before you dive in, take a moment and feel the gratitude in your Being for the gift that is in front of you.

Pay attention to what is in season in your area, and eat those foods. This establishes a fundamental, biologic and energetic connection between that which renews your very being, and the Earth system from which that springs. If we are really going to create a movement that leads to a sustainable future, we are going to have to experience this connection (between Earth and Man) at a cellular level. There is no better way to do this than to eat what the local earth brings forth in season.

Right now it is Spring in the lush Northwest. Spring is the time of renewal and regrowth. This renewal happens in nature, and man/woman is not separate from that. When we eat foods in season we cultivate what I like to call “the spring within.”

I will post more on Spring Eating Tips in a couple of days. But for now I wanted to share with you one of my favorite spring recipes.

Sour Plum-marinated Asparagus

Vinegar from the Asian ume plum makes this marinate delightfully sour. The sour flavor can help to decongest the liver and gall bladder, which in turn supports the “spring within.” The juice from a ripe minneola, tangelo or orange rounds out the flavors and creates an inspiring movement of flavors in your mouth!

Serves: 4                                                       Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 5 to 10 minutes            Marinate: 1 to 3 hourIMG_4389

1 large bunch of asparagus

Marinade
⅓ cup unrefined, extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup ume plum vinegar
Juice from one medium-size orange or tangelo
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons orange or tangelo zest

Wash and trim asparagus. Place in boiling, salted water for 3 to 5 minutes (less time for thinner asparagus). Rinse in cold water and place in 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

Mix all marinade ingredients together and pour over asparagus. Let marinate for up to 3 hours.

Pour extra marinade over steamed brown rice and lay asparagus over the top…hot or cold.

Save these juices to marinade other veggies, fresh free range chicken, or you can make a tasty dressing out of it!

Tiffany

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See previous post for context.
What I experience with myself and with my patients is that we can have a cognitive recognition that this is true (what we eat affects not just us, but the “whole.”). But we don’t necessarily line our actions up with the fact that we believe this. So, either we don’t really believe, or we just don’t care enough. I think there is probably some truth to both of those.

So the question is, how do we take that on? “That” being our deeply, conditioned cynicism and our blinding ambivalence. You have to look into your own experience to see that these core beliefs/values are actually true about ourselves and the culture in which we live. So how do we change that?!

These are darn serious questions that encompass not just our relationship to food, but also our relationship to life. They will not be answered within this post. But we can begin to create awareness around them, and one way that we can do this is through a thoughtful inquiry into something that we are all quite intimate with… eating!

A good and practical place to start is by paying attention. Simply start paying attention to what you put in your mouth. “Listen” and find out if what you consume is helping to fuel not just your body, but also the conscious awareness that makes up the deepest aspect of who you are. If you really want to know the answer, I have no doubt that you will gain insight.

Once you start paying attention on this level, you will begin to see how food powerfully affects your conscious, and in turn has impact on the “whole.”

Tiffany

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I just finished reading an article “The Biocentric Universe” in the Discovery magazine, and while the whole article was fascinating, this one quote has stayed on my mind: “Today no one questions the immediate nature of this connectedness between bits of light or matter, or even entire clusters of atoms.”   The article goes on to discuss the nature of consciousness and the difference between our perceptions and absolute essence.  What I find so exciting about this, is not so much what the words themselves mean, they’re merely pointing to a truth that has long been understood in spiritual and philosophical realms, but the fact that they were published in a scientific magazine.  Surely this is the marking of a breakthrough in consciousness itself, but you may be asking, what has this got to do with food?  I dare to say the answer is everything!  

We are all aware of the affects food has on our body, mind, emotion and environment, but when was the last time we considered the affect it had on our consciousness?  I suppose before we could even ask that question we would have to know, to experience for ourselves, that food does indeed affect consciousness.  This past weekend I had a firsthand experience of this.  With relatives in town I spent the weekend eagerly showing them around town.  Because we were out and about so much we ended up eating out for most meals, and in turn my usual dietary habits were suspended and I indulged in unusual dining choices.   Early this week they returned home and I got back in the groove of work and school… or at least I tried.  I spent three days with brain fog so thick I struggled to see through it.  Directly affected my ability to communicate, make choices, discern, be active, plan, it was needless to say an uncomfortable few days.  But that was just on the surface.  By far the worst part was actually being responsible for hindering the emergence of consciousness.  I was literally taken out of the game by my own choices related to food.  

My point is that the choices we make around food, of what we eat and how we eat it, is not just a personal or environmental or even survival affair.  It has a direct influence on the ground of our being and our ability to manifest our deepest potentials.  But don’t just take my word for it.  I encourage you to check it out for yourself.  Here’s how you can do it:

1.        Notice how you engage with others after eating junk food, over eating, emotional eating or even under eating.  Pay attention to your ability to contribute to the conversations, generate ideas, and communicate effectively and authentically.

 2.       Compare this to the quality of engagement you have with others after eating a meal of high quality, pure and simple foods that are in more of a “whole” state.

As we strive to become more aware, more productive and conscious beings, we are faced with the challenge of living our day-to-day activities in a way that reflects our highest insights.  When we experience the truth of Oneness we can’t simply put this truth up on the shelf while we chow down on some grub and then take it down when we’re ready to engage spiritually or philosophically.  If we are truly interested in becoming more conscious, if it is our pure intention to evolve on the highest level, then we must come to realize that what we eat does not just fuel or hinder ourselves, it affects the whole.
 
Love, Amber

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