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Letting Go

A Diary About Weight Loss, Ayurveda and Buddhism.

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My thoughts on my thoughts

“When we recognize that we have a habit of replaying old events and reacting to new events as if they were the old ones, we can begin to notice when that habit energy comes up. We can then gently remind ourselves that we have another choice. We can look at the moment as it is, a fresh moment, and leave the past for a time when we can look at it compassionately.”

― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm

Last September I stayed in a farmhouse in Southwest France where they had a small meditation room full of pillows and books. I really enjoyed sitting there and meditating or reading some of the great books my host had.

Come January, I decided to be more disciplined about my meditation. I finally made a little altar on a shelf in my chill-out room (which I share with our cat Roosje) and I have been meditating away since then. Before I continue and mislead you, I have not actually meditated in said room very much because it’s too cold in the mornings. So my morning meditation is in the living room on a carpet and I wrap myself with blankets and my evening meditation tends to be in bed.

I find I have benefited from a regular practice (surprise!) and it is interesting to observe how my thoughts are like a grasshopper but then you find that space in between – and oh those few seconds of quiet, of space, are wonderful! But those thoughts… they range from fear to daydreaming to list making. I know from my previous practice to not be too harsh and just to corral your thoughts as if they were a group of wayward children. The fearful, anxious thoughts have been interesting to me to observe. Becasue they are very dominant.

The regular meditation sessions are now giving me more spaces between my thoughts. I have been faced with a situation the last 10 days which has pushed all my triggers and I have encouraged myself to sit with it and not do what I really felt like doing, which is to tell everyone and ask everyone what they would do. In other words to go outside myself. Instead I shared it with a couple of close friends and I am trying to look deeply at my fear about this situation. I have tried to understand where this irrational, paralysing fear comes from and why it can have such power over me (replaying old events and reacting to new events as if they were the old ones as TNH says). By letting my thoughts go by and just observing them, I am understanding them better and by understanding them better I can be more compassionate to myself.

My morning now feels off if I havent meditated before work. For someone who given a choice prefers to stay in bed until the very last second possible – it’s all the proof I need of the benefits of a regular practice.

 

Tuesday 23 February 2016

I’m tired of being tired. Tired of being fat and tired of being anxious about life.

Someone once said you’ll change when you’ve had enough and I think (I hope…) I’ve reached that point.

I function well with routine and with a plan. I have to be careful not too get too bogged down (typical kapha) and also do fun stimulating things with my life too however. But I need a plan, otherwise I spiral into some kind of confusion, lethargy and then overwhelm – do you know what I mean?

So here I am again, started yoga again and started meditating every day which has been great.

RECIPE: Red Lentil Dahl

I’m always trying to find the perfect dhal recipe and this one comes very close. Red lentils are great for reducing kapha as they are sweet but astringent. -CMM

Ingredients

  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • lemon juice from 1 lemon (or to taste)
  • cilantro for garnish
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Sift through the lentils for rocks.
  2. Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan.
  3. Stir in the lentils, garlic, ginger, cumin, cumin seeds, coriander, tumeric, cardamom, and salt, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently for about 45 minutes, until the lentils are tender and beginning to break down.
  4. Stir frequently toward the end of the cooking time, and add more stock or water as needed if the dahl gets too thick.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice, garnish with some fresh cilantro and pepper to taste; serve hot.

Adapted from For the Love of Food

RECIPE: Pulao Rice

I love this dish. It’s a great side with the Red Lentil Dahl. I never have saffron in stock so I just don’t use it and I’ve been known to use whatever basmati I have. -CMM

Ingredients

  • 2 cups brown basmati rice
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 11⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 cups water
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon saffron

Directions

Let the rice soak for 5-10 minutes. Add the oil to a large saucepan. Add the cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, cardamom, and cumin. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the water, rice, salt, and green peas. Bring to a boil, then cook, covered over medium heat until the water has been absorbed. Add the saffron, and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan with a lid. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, then remove from the heat, keeping the pan covered for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

Adapted from For the Love of Food

RECIPE: Spiced fruit compote

I have tried so many breakfast dishes because basically, I get bored. But I have to admit, this is one of the best breakfasts for kapha (me). It does not make me bloated which many store-bought cereals do, and it smells like Christmas. I make a double portion in the evening and heat it up at work for a couple of days. -CMM

From the book Eat Right For Your Body Type by Anjum Anand

Apples are considered excellent for balancing kapha – they say those with a kapha imbalance should start every day with stewed apple. In fact, once cooked, they are good for all doshas and help increase ojas (our vitality). Pears are great for balancing hormones and for energy. This dish is perfect for winter or summer mornings. It is especially good for pitta in winter, and they can add some flaked coconut and a little butter or ghee. Vata could add 1 tablespoon of ground almonds, some flaked coconut and a little butter or ghee. Prunes are a great source of fibre and vitamins. How long this dish takes to make will depend on how ripe your fruit is. If your pear is already soft, add it towards the end of the cooking time; if it is hard you can add it in with the apples. 

Serves 1 generously
INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 teaspoon cornflour
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 small apple, cored, cubed or sliced
  • 3 dried prunes
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or I use cinnamon powder)
  • 1 slice ginger, peeled (or I use ginger powder)
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1 small pear, cored and cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon maple syrup (I leave this out)
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon agave syrup  (I leave this out)

METHOD

  1. Stir the cornflour into the water to dissolve, then pour into a small saucepan. Add the apple, prunes, cinnamon, ginger and lemon juice and zest. Cover and cook on a low-medium heat for 5 minutes or until the apple is softening. Stir in the pear, cover and cook for a further 2–4 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until the fruits are soft and cooked and cradled in thick juices (add a spoonful of warm water if necessary).
  2. Take off the heat, stir in the sweetener to taste and serve.

From Anjum Anand from Eat Right For Your Body Type

Week 8 Kapha Meal Plan (22-28 February)

And….. she’s back.

Monday
On waking hot water with lemon
09:30 Breakfast Spiced fruit compote
13:30 Lunch Red lentil dhal with pulao rice
Snack if hungry fruit
19:00 Dinner Spaghetti Bolognese with braised green beans

Tuesday
On waking Surya Spa Detox Tea
09:30 Breakfast Spiced fruit compote
13:30 Lunch Red lentil dhal with pulao rice and braised green beans
Snack if hungry fruit
19:00 Dinner Barley Pilaf with Steamed Brussels Sprouts

Wednesday
On waking hot water with lemon
09:30 Breakfast Winter buckwheat porridge
13:30 Lunch Spinach Salad with honey mustard dressing
Snack if hungry fruit
19:00 Dinner Spicy Beans ‘n Rice

Thursday
On waking Surya Spa Detox Tea
09:30 Breakfast Winter buckwheat porridge
13:30 Lunch Spinach Salad with honey mustard dressing
Snack if hungry fruit
19:00 Dinner Vegetable curry with chapatti’s

Friday
On waking hot water with lemon
09:30 Breakfast Winter buckwheat porridge
13:30 Lunch Spicy Beans ‘n Rice
Snack if hungry fruit
19:00 Dinner Baked Eggplant Mediterranean with soba noodles

Saturday
On waking Surya Spa Detox Tea
09:30 Breakfast Winter buckwheat porridge
13:30 Lunch Vegetable curry with rice
Snack if hungry fruit
19:00 Dinner Taco Salad with Corn-on-the-cob

Sunday (detox Sunday)
On waking hot water with lemon
09:30 Breakfast Brown Rice Khichdi
13:30 Lunch Brown Rice Khichdi
Snack if hungry Smoothie
19:00 Dinner Brown Rice Khichdi

Week 5 Kapha Meal Plan (1-7 Feb 2016)

This week’s meal plan is fairly uncomplicated as we are leaving for Scandinavia very early this Friday morning and returning next week Monday. So the plan is – to have the fridge empty when we leave.

Monday 1 Feb
On waking Hot water with slice of lemon
Breakfast ‘Kapha’ Granola with soya milk
Lunch (12-13) In a Jiffy Bean Salad
Dinner (18:00-19:00) Broc­co­li and spinach pie

Tuesday 2 Feb
On waking Hot water with slice of lemon
Breakfast ‘Kapha’ Granola with soya milk
Lunch (12-13) In a Jiffy Bean Salad
Dinner (18:00-19:00) Broc­co­li and spinach pie

Wednesday 3 Feb
On waking Hot water with slice of lemon
Breakfast Kapha Gra­no­la with soya milk
Lunch (12-13) Soba Noodle Salad with Miso Dressing
Dinner (20:30) Five Spice Salmon Burgers with couscous and peas

Thursday 4 Feb
On waking Hot water
Breakfast Kapha Gra­no­la with soya milk
Lunch Soba Noodle Salad with Miso Dressing
Dinner (18:00-19:00) Surya Spa Dal

Friday 5 Feb (In Sweden)
On waking Hot water with slice of lemon
Breakfast Kapha Gra­no­la with soya milk
Lunch (12-13)
Snack (16:00)
Dinner (18:00-19:00)

Saturday 6 Feb (In Sweden)
On waking Hot water
Breakfast (8:00)
Lunch (12-13)
Snack (16:00)
Dinner (18:00-19:00)

Sunday 7 Feb (In Denmark)
On waking
Breakfast
Lunch (12-13)
Snack (16:00)
Dinner (18:00-19:00)

Ayurveda & How To Eat For Your Dosha

With the increasing popularity of yoga, more and more people know about Ayurveda. Recently one of my favourite websites GOOP, featured a piece on Ayurveda plus recipes and it was so clearly written I thought I’d repost the section pertaining to Kapha here. The rest of the articles relating to Vata and Pitta are here. As always, the featured recipes are really tasty! -CMM

Ayurveda, which comes from the ancient Vedic texts, is a 5,000-year-old medical philosophy and practice, predicated on the idea that we all are made up of different types of energy.

There are three doshas in Ayurveda, which describe the dominant mind/body state: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. While all three are present in everyone, Ayurveda proposes that we each have a dominant dosha that’s unwavering from birth, and ideally an equal (though often fluctuating) balance between the other two. When the doshas are balanced, we are healthy; when they are unbalanced, we develop disease, which is usually made manifest by skin issues, poor digestion, insomnia, irritability, and anxiety.

In India, Nepal, and other parts of the East, Ayurveda is considered serious medicine—with schooling that’s commensurate with a Western medical degree. But unlike Western medicine, a basic evaluation goes beyond a physical exam. An Ayurvedic doctor will take your pulse, check your tongue, and assess your appearance (among other factors), and then ask you a series of questions about how you handle and respond to various scenarios. It’s quite cool.

The resident Ayurvedic physician at Ananda, Dr. Chandan, shared some of the basic principles and qualities of the three doshas from Ayurveda, and how to eat for balance; meanwhile, Narendra Sharma, the executive chef behind Ananda’s award-winning wellness kitchen, shared some recipes.

From the Desk of Dr. Chandan

Prakruti

This is the principle that recognizes that each human being is born with unique combinations of doshas, and that this natural balance is what is responsible for physical, mental, and emotional difference among people. By identifying and maintaining an individual’s Prakruti, Ayurveda can help each person create his or her own state of ideal health

Dosha: Kapha (Earth & Water)

Kaphas tend to have heavier, earthier bodies than other types, and tend to store watery substances like fluids and fat more readily. They are naturally calm and attached; A Kapha speaks slowly and melodically. They sometimes have watery dreams, and tend to have elimination that is thick and heavy.

KAPHA QUALITIES:

Heavy, slow, steady, solid, cold, soft, and oily. Kapha governs the structure of the body. It is the principle that holds the cells together and forms the muscle, fat, bone, and provides immunity. The primary function of Kapha is protection.

Kaphas have a strong build and excellent stamina as well as smooth, radiant skin. They sleep soundly and have regular digestion. But when Kapha build to excess they can gain weight, retain fluid, and allergies manifest in the body. When imbalances, Kaphas may become overweight, sleep excessively, become lethargic, and suffer from asthma, diabetes, and depression.

EMOTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF KAPHA:

Kaphas are naturally calm, thoughtful, and loving. They have an inherent ability to enjoy life and are comfortable with routine. Kaphas are strong, loyal, patient, steady, and supportive. They love music, reading, and relaxing. When imbalanced, they tend to hold on to things, jobs, and relationships long after they are no longer present. They display excessive attachment. When imbalanced, Kaphas become stubborn and resist change.

When they feel overwhelmed or stressed, their response is: “I don’t want to be involved.”

HOW KAPHAS CAN STAY BALANCED:

  1. Follow the dietary guidelines in the diet below.
  2. Wake early (before dawn), sleep less, and avoid sleeping during the day.
  3. Indulge in plenty of physical exercise every day.
  4. Perform activities that stimulate and energize the body and mind, and build the metabolic rate.
  5. Allow for excitement, challenge, and variety in life.
  6. Break away from stagnation and clinging to old ways of thinking and behaving.
  7. Keep warm and dry.

FAVORABLE FOODS:

Warm, light, and dry food is favorable, or cooked light meals. Kaphas do best with lightly cooked foods or raw fruits and vegetables. Any food that is spicy is good for Kaphas such as very hot Mexican or Indian food, especially in winter. Dry cooking methods (baking, broiling, grilling, sautéing) are preferable for Kaphas over moist cooking such as steaming, boiling, or poaching. Foods such as romaine lettuce, endive, or tonic water are good for stimulating the Kapha appetite, while preferred spices are cumin, fenugreek, sesame seed, and turmeric.

FOODS TO REDUCE:

Kaphas need to watch the consumption of too many sweet and fatty foods, and need to watch their salt consumption as well, as it can lead to fluid retention. They should avoid deep-fried foods. A typical Kapha tendency is to overeat: The main meal should be at the middle of the day, and only a light, dry meal in the evening. In general, Kaphas should avoid sugar, fats, and dairy products, skip chilled foods and drinks, and use ghee and oils in small amounts only.

Kapha Recipes

  • Lemon Coriander Soup

    Lemon Coriander Soup

    Bright, healthy and clean, this soup makes a perfect mid-day snack or light meal.

    GET RECIPE

  • Brown Rice Khichdi

    Brown Rice Khichdi

    Brown rice and lentils pack a serious nutritional punch and the addition of veggies, spices, ginger and cilantro make this healthy recipe one that the whole family will happily chow down on.

    GET RECIPE

Dr. Chandanis a native of Bengaluru in Southern India, and an Ayurvedic Medicine & Surgery graduate. After his bachelors degree, he earned his Post Graduate Certification in Panchakarma from Manipal University in India. He is also certified in yoga by the Bihar School of Yoga. He practiced as a full-time Ayurvedic doctor and Panchakarma specialist in Bangalore for more than 6 years, and managed Ayurvedic clinics and hospitals throughout the country. He has been with Ananda for three years.

The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Goop, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should never not be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Finally got a Neti pot!

I have been meaning to get a neti pot literally for years? Why? Because I often have some allergy or sinus issue.

This year starting about April, I have been plagued with an infection of some kind in my left nostril . I tried rubbing Vaseline and precription Vaseline in my nostrils, which helped but then the next day, scabs would fall out of my nose (nice!)  it would get better, and then start again. My nose would start bleeding and you have to do your utmost not to pick at all those awful scabs. I was fidgeting with my nose so much that I’m convinced my nostrils have got bigger!

I’m assuming the reason for this strange phenomenon is the season change plus the dry climate indoors and at work. At home I have a humidifier in the winter because I get so stuffed up I cannot breathe. I also believe I am slightly allergic to my fur baby Roosje the cat. I say slightly, because I still can’t admit my mother was right when she would not allow me to have cats because I was asthmatic and allergic. Anyhoo, as I love cats it’s a price I am willingly to pay for the foreseeable.

IMG_1922

Growing up I knew Indian people who used neti pots so I kind of know how to use one. Finding one was another matter. I finally managed to purchase one on-line as finding a reasonably priced one in Amsterdam is harder than it should be thanks to the trendy yoga places marking prices up on ‘yoga and ayurvedic accessories’.

I’m very interested to see if it works and if so, how soon my nostrils get back to normal. It would be so nice to be able to breathe properly again rather than feeling like I’m always breathing through one nostril.

Please let me know if you’ve used a neti pot and what your experiences were.

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