Turn Toward the Light

correctedNew Years always seemed pretty stupid to me – a holiday in which people go out and get
loaded, and then immediately “resolve” to lose 10 lbs, pay off debts, or whatever it is. If we see it as a new beginning, well, every day is a new beginning! We can reinvent our lives any time. I think of how in Egyptian myth, Ra, the sun, dies and passes into the underworld every night and is reborn every day. That is us too, we all have that changing, self-renewing power within us. That said, this baby new year of 2015, this first month, really does feel new to me; I don’t know why. But I feel the collective turning towards the light, towards renewal, powerfully now, even as many around me are struggling with big life changes and difficulties, and there has been so much social unrest. I feel the heaviness of the dark time of the year, I feel the turning toward the light, and I feel the fire of transformation too.

Without getting too caught up in armchair gardening – do you know what armchair gardening is? It’s when gardeners sit in their armchairs in winter, perusing seed catalogs and planning their amazing spring gardens on a scale much more grand than they could ever possibly maintain – I do invite everyone who hasn’t done so already, to consider what life you want to create for yourself at this time. If your resolutions for the new year have already gone by the wayside, what got in the way? What can you do to change it? What stories are you telling yourself that are holding you back? About your health, your work, your relationships, about money? Most of you may know this great Marianne Williamson quote, from her book A Return To Love, but it bears repeating, arguably on a daily basis:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Bam! Thanks Marianne! Hold that in your heart as you contemplate what you want to create. I have contemplated this a lot recently, and I have gone and done something so out of my comfort zone, I am still surprised when I think of it: My partner and I joined a fancy fitness studio. (Not going to say which one, because the wheel is still spinning – we are giving it three months to see if we like it want to continue.) I have gone to an hour-long class about 4 times a week since December 31, and I’m starting to feel pretty addicted. (So good to have healthy addictions!) Cait and I were both feeling a bit out of shape and wanting something different, with some guidance and community support. I have a long background in yoga and different styles of dance, but I wanted something new, something more focused on building strength, and something that really took me to my edge physically and out of my comfort zone in terms of my habits. So far, this is hitting the spot. It feels like just want my body needs right now. It is also a sweet thing to work out in a room full of other go-getter women.

Yoga and dance can be a remarkable, deep, and soulful way to connect with the body and honor the body’s needs. A way to explore the inner landscape, the subtle and gross terrain that is our makeup. Last year, I attended a dance retreat (like, modern interpretive dance) with Margit Galanter, who is now my friend, and I was blown away by the peace I felt exploring movement in such a free and open way. We scooted and rolled around on the floor and did all of this group improvisation with our eyes closed, and I recall having the thought, “I have never moved this way in my life, at least not since I was an infant.”

That is the deep inner well that I draw from when I move now, whether it is walking, giving a massage, or doing 3 sets of 20 push-ups (most of them from the knee, obviously:)). Intense workouts aren’t worth anything if we aren’t feeling deep into our bodies and HONORING them, not trying to subjugate them to our will. Honoring our bodies leads to greater and greater peacefulness and freedom, subjugating them leads to burn-out and injury. And I don’t even mean to avoid the intensity! I’ll freely admit I’m an intensity junkie – I want to live life and really feel something. What I mean is, even in the heat of muscle-quivering, burning, I-don’t-know-if-I-can-do-this-for-another-ten-counts intensity, our awareness still stays internal, right in heart of that fire, and doesn’t go flying out into space, into a dissociative state. The party is right here, right now, this moment, forever.

So listen to your body, what sort of movement does it need now? It knows, even if your mind doesn’t. What fears are holding you back from your next step? In which ways are you playing small? Are you afraid to play big – to be fabulous, talented, et cetera – afraid to own your power? Are you afraid to be healthy because you have known disease so long it is comfortable and familiar? Are you afraid of looking foolish if you “fail” at something? Spend some time with these questions if they feel real to you! Start your life anew any time. Recommit to yourself right now.

by Mollie Moorhead

Big Questions/Sensitive People in Big Cities

GandhiOne of my heroes, Mahatma Gandhi (Mahatma means “Great Soul;” his given name was Mohandas) was a very quotable man. One thing he said has stuck in my mind for years, since I first read it. He said:

I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt or when the self becomes too much with you, try the following expedient: Recall the face of the poorest and the most helpless man whom you may have seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he be able to gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to […] self-rule for the hungry and also spiritually starved millions of our countrymen? Then you will find your doubts and your self melting away.

I saw a few really miserable-looking homeless people today, including a man lying on the ground in front of a bus stop with an enormous mass on his abdomen – not a big belly, but some sort of tumor. My heart ached – I felt it physically, in my chest – when I saw him. I stood there with my bike at the cross walk and waited for the light to turn green, feeling heavy and sad. It felt like there was an ocean of need swirling around me.

I have contemplated Gandhi’s words a lot as I have progressed on my path as a healer, especially when I committed to practice Ayurvedic medicine and body work full-time, quitting my (not very lucrative but still helpful) part time job. Many of us in the healing arts want to be able to help everyone, including but not limited to, the most miserable person we have ever seen. That’s why we studied healing in the first place!

When we move from theory to practice though, real-world constraints like paying our rent and being able to afford other things we need pop up in a big way unless we have someone else supporting us financially. This is not a bad thing. Money is not evil, and real-world constraints are not bad either. Money really is energy – now, more than ever, as we exchange money electronically, not physically, it really is pure energy! How do we help the most miserable person we have ever seen and still pay our rent?

Well, there are lots of different ways. I bet you can think of a few right now, and I could talk about this all day, but it is beyond the scope of this writing. The thing is, most of us aren’t able do it full-time. And, we help other people who are less obvious in their misery.

In my healing work, it amazes me the suffering people experience. It doesn’t seem to matter how much money they have, either, or even if they are in relatively good health or in a state of illness. I don’t see much correlation there. The same exact health condition is experienced very differently by different people, depending largely on their beliefs about it. And, all of our meat and bones are going to expire at some point – there is no cure for death, and that journey is not usually all too smooth, no matter your finances.

depressed-womanSome of my clients are from wealthy families, some are wealthy now, and they have histories of severe anorexia and attempted suicide! Most people have been abused at some point in their lives, physically, verbally, or sexually. Or all three. I rarely talk with someone who doesn’t have some some history of abuse or trauma. I don’t know if there are different rates depending on your socioeconomic station. I imagine there could be. But does that matter, if you are the person from the wealthy family who is struggling to integrate and transmute severe trauma? Of course not, you still need help, even if on the outside you hold it together really well and people can’t guess your inner pain.

In the work I do, I really get to see how this plays out in regards to food. People’s fear of nourishing themselves, eating only the lightest and purifying foods, like salads and green juice, or compulsive trance-eating late at night, or both, alternating. It fills my heart so much to facilitate a person healing from those wounds and accepting nourishment with a grateful heart, without fear.

If I only think of that miserable-looking man I saw on the street, it’s sort of like I have blinders on, and I deny the shared human experience of all  these vastly different people who need support.

image2I didn’t used to like that idea of dividing people into people who pay for hour-visits and regular care, and people who come once a month for the low-cost clinic day, for short visits, because it felt like it reinforced the social class structure as it is, which is unfair. Now, it is clear to me that it is so much more beautiful and complex than that. There are just so many other things going on there, primarily a person’s commitment level and belief system. (And, by the way, the reason I haven’t put together a  low-cost clinic day myself yet is just because I have a lot on my plate already and it hasn’t happened. For now the Monday Night Meditation is my by-donation offering. Stay tuned!) Also, oh man, herbs really are the people’s medicine. There are so many plants you can just go out and harvest yourself, even in and near cities, if you just learn how from someone who knows what they are doing. You can grow medicinal herbs in a window box or a small garden, or buy them at a low cost at lots of herb shops. At Lhasa Kharnak Herb Company in Berkeley, many herbs are $2/an ounce! Herbs are our natural allies – they can help us heal nearly anything. So, I really feel like healing is in reach for the person who makes a commitment to heal and works through the obstacles as they arise (and obstacles will arise, for anyone – whether those obstacles are financial, emotional, or otherwise). It is not your job or my job to save anyone else. Not only is it not our job, it is actually impossible.

We must consider, you are one person. I am one person. We can only do so much in a single day. AND, just because the positive ripples you make in the world appear smaller than those that someone like Gandhi made, and maybe your name isn’t in the history books, that doesn’t matter. On a certain level, I don’t think scale matters at all. We all just do our part. Gandhi’s thing was deep, big-picture social change from the inside-out. He said to “reduce the self down to zero” in order to get anything done that is of value. I think that really means to get out of your own way, and to focus on the action and not the result. Like, of course we want a certain result, but we are not in control, we have to just “do our work, then step back,” as it says in the Tao Te Ching.

I hope this has been helpful for all you other sensitive souls out there, healers and artists, weirdos and revolutionaries. We certainly don’t have to agree on everything – great minds don’t think alike, they think for themselves of course. And, I’m interested to see how this will evolve.

by Mollie Moorhead

Sadana: The Active Person’s Path to Inner Peace and Health Playshop

Sadana is the practice of doing ordinary things with spiritual awareness and love. Gals and guys, this is definitely for you if: 

You don’t live in a monastery, and you don’t have hours to spend on the meditation cushion every day – imagine that – but you yearn for more INNER QUIET, EQUANIMITY, and EASE in the body/heart/mind, and all the HEALTH BENEFITS that go along with being in a state of relaxation. In this playshop we will get to PLAY, learn, practice and enjoy the pleasure of embodiment and of giving legs to our spiritual aspirations. 

February 3, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
at Moon Rabbit Ayurveda
431 30th st. #100, Oakland

**IF YOU HAVE A MORTAR AND PESTLE, BRING IT! WE’LL USE IT!

I’m just using Eventbrite for the first time and have had some challenges getting it all to flow seamlessly for you guys, BUT, you can click this link to purchase your ticket: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/sadana-the-active-persons-path-to-inner-peace-health-tickets-15379092279?aff=eac2 We are keeping this group nice and small so buy your tickets now to secure your spot!

$20 per session or $100 for the whole series (super awesome prices!)

+ Bring a friend for FREE, just make sure you ‘buy’ them a free ticket!

Moon Rabbit Playshop Flyer image

2015 Self-Heal Playshop Schedule – First Tuesdays
Feb 3 Sadana: The active person’s path to inner peace & health
March 3 Self-Marma: Empowered healing using the body’s vital points
April 7 Top 5 daily herbs for health and how to use them
May 5 Food and Prana: Empowered Eating, personalized
June 2 Self-healing for the most common health challenges, part 1
July 7 Self-healing for the most common health challenges, part 2

 Want to learn how to create radiant health for yourself every day? How to correct the most common & irritating health challenges simply and effectively? How about all that in a fun and supportive community space?! In this Self-heal Playshop series, you will do all that and more, with powerful hands-on practices and sensory experiences drawing from the ancient science of Ayurveda, as well as other wisdom traditions. Empower your health, empower your self….This is nothing less than you becoming your most radiant self.

Hippie Cookies, Anyone?

This is a variation of the classic Nestle Tollhouse recipe. I hippie-fied it. Cuz sometimes you just need some hippie cookies.

IMG_0236

Ingredients

2 ¼ cup homemade gluten-free flour mix*

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened, OR sub one stick of butter for ½ cup almond butter

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup sucanat sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

3 total cups of mixed add-ins: semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chips (I crush a chocolate bar in a mortor and pestle if I have to), walnuts, gogi berries, cacao nibs and raisins

Ritual

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in one bowel and set aside. Mix butter (and almond butter if using), sugars, eggs and vanilla in another bowel, then gradually add in the flour mixture. I just use a fork, but if you like to use a mixer, do it. Then add in your yummies – chocolates, nuts, etc., and incorporate well. Drop rounded spoonfuls on ungreased baking sheets, allowing room for the cookies to spread somewhat. Bake about 9 minutes. Cookies ought to be soft-set and just slightly golden when you pull them out of the oven.

*I fresh-grind flax seeds in my coffee grinder and use about one tablespoon per cup of brown rice flour for all cookie, muffin and quick bread recipes. It works really well and tastes amazing!

Winter Recipe X2

These are my version of two great winter recipes. Both are deeply nourishing, delicious, and nearly impossible to screw up!

Bone Broth

broth pic

The idea is to cook mineral-rich bones (and egg shells if you have some) in water on low heat for a long time to extract both flavor and nutrients. Bone broths are….you may have guessed it: Bone tonics for us, as well as general tonics, indicated for folks who feel worn out, tired, have dry skin, constipation, insomnia, or anxiety. Crock pots work best because you can leave them plugged in on low and forget about them. You don’t need an actual recipe, but here is a jumping-off place -

Ingredients

*beef marrow bones or chicken backs, any other bones you can get from the butcher

*egg shells (from the last few days, stored in the fridge, or from whenever, if you freeze them.)

*a few pieces of kelp or other sea vegetable

*water

*for seasoning: tamari, bay leaves, cumin, garlic, onion, ginger, any other spice you like. Add salt and pepper at the end.

*a splash of vinegar

Ritual

Place the bones and egg shells in the crock pot along with the other ingredients and seasonings and cover with water. You use more bones and less water than you might expect. Turn on high to get it going, then once it is bubbling, you can turn it down to low and let cook for a day or two, checking water level occasionally.

Let cool slightly before straining, and then strain through a large sieve or colander over a bowl. Pour the broth from the bowl into glass jars and let cool, then refrigerate. Once it had chilled completely, you can easily remove the hardened fat from the top and use for it another purpose(sauteeing onions, for instance), or discard. Warm up the broth, seasoning as you like, and drink plain in a mug or make into a rich, brothy soup. A cup of hot broth is an excellent way to start a cold day!

~~~*~~~

Almond Energy Balls

date ball picThis is my variation of a recipe that circulates in the Ayurveda community. Dates and almonds are both tonic foods that nourish the tissues of the body deeply. Everyone has their own version of this recipe. Normally, most people add granola or rolled oats into the mix, and I have never understood why. It makes the balls unnecessarily dry and doesn’t add much flavor. This definitely is the sort of recipe that doesn’t require exact measurements though – or any measurements, really. The main ingredients are almond butter and dates, everything else is really up to you. Have fun, make them yours, you can’t mess up!

Ingredients

Almond butter (make sure it’s fresh – sweet-smelling, not sharp or sour)

Dates, pitted and chopped finely (I use scissors)

2 Tbs Ghee

sesame seeds

spices to taste, such as nutmeg, cardamom, clove, turmeric, anise

1-2 drops almond extract

Ritual

Put chopped dates, almond butter, ghee, spices and almond extract all together in a large mixing bowl.

Toast the sesame seeds lightly in a dry pan, just until they start to pop and release their aroma. (Watch them closely so they don’t burn.) Add the sesame seeds to the mixing bowl. Mix all ingredients together by hand, kneading like bread dough. If it is too sticky, add some more sesame seeds. This process will only take a couple minutes. Then pinch off small amounts of the dough and roll into balls between your hands. Once again, if you are having issues with stickiness, roll the ball in some more toasted sesame seeds to coat it and the stickiness goes away. If you run out of sesame seeds, use something else. I have used coconut flour with success. Place almond balls in a single layer to set in the fridge. They will firm up completely within an hour and you can store them in a jar or a tupperware at that point, still in the refrigerator for long-term storage. They are not highly perishable, however, so when you take a few with you to work for a snack, there is no need to refrigerate those. They make a great afternoon snack or dessert, much more nourishing and delicious than almost anything you can buy.

Speaking out making a difference?! (Follow-up to my angry last post)

A sort of amazing thing happened. I sent that super pissed-off, articulate email to CureJoy and got a response I found encouraging. Perhaps this marketing manager is just saying what I want to hear, and perhaps she is sincere. This is what she says:

Hi Mollie,

Thanks for your mail. Each day, we generally post around 24 articles on facebook and only one out of those 24 is obesity related. Since Facebook cannot show its users all the 24 articles, it filters out the articles based on the user’s previous clicks.

So even though only 4% of our articles are weight-loss related, the user comes across the same very often.

I totally agree with your point that the images used in the posts – “skinny ones in bikini” etc – hurt self esteem of the women and can depress the users.

I had a talk with my team regarding the same and going forward, we will make sure to use line images instead of the animated skinny/fat pictures. I really thank you for raising this point as it was definitely affecting a lot of users.


Going forward, expect no more  pictures that are harmful and hateful to women from CureJoy’s platform.

Really appreciate your views !

Let me know if you have anything else that you would like to discuss with us. Looking forward to have you in our CureJoy family soon.

 

Assault on Women’s Bodies in the Name of Health Infuriates Me

Today, I got an email from the marketing manager of CureJoy, which I don’t know too much about actually – it is a natural health-focused organization that used to be continuously in my Facebook newsfeed until I “unliked” it – asking if I wanted to join their team of wellness experts. This was my response:
Hi Anoushka,
I used to have CureJoy in my Facebook newsfeed. Some of the articles are very nice and interesting, but I became increasingly angry and upset by the fact that every single day, at least once a day, there is a CureJoy post that focuses on weight loss and features drawings of women’s bodies in some stage of weight loss, usually wearing bikinis. Usually the ‘fat picture’ isn’t even fat. And the ‘skinny picture’ is very, very thin – much too thin for most grown women to achieve while still being in good health.
The assault on our female bodies, and the pressure to lose weight and be thin is toxic to us, and to the men who live with us and love us. It hurts everyone.
I think it is very cheap that CureJoy preys on women’s insecurity and desire to lose weight by posting these images – in the name of natural health and Ayurveda, no less. Over half of the women I see in my practice have suffered from anorexia nervosa at some point, and with the clients I DO see for weight loss, we have to continuously re-focus on health and self-care and work with all the voices – coming from all sides, it seems – that are telling them to be thinner to fit some ideal, and fit into some box, or that they aren’t attractive unless they are thin.
So, if CureJoy changes their approach entirely to this subject and stops posting articles and pictures that are harmful and hateful to women, I would be happy to join your team of wellness experts. Otherwise, no.
Regards,
Mollie Moorhead

Rethinking the dark time of year

cozy winterWith sustainability in mind, I try look at what humans have done long-term, not how things have been since the industrial revolution or the past few years. In places with cold winters, our ancestors practically hibernated through the winter. Even in the last century, people were forced to stay at home or on the farm (without electric lighting, mind you) when roads were too snowy or rainy to travel on, and the main foods were local foods – meat from animals hunted or raised, vegetable foods that stored well, like grain, dried beans, and hard-shell winter squashes, cheeses, beer, wine and other fermented foods and drinks.

These are rich foods – not necessarily what we think of as ‘health foods’, but there is wisdom in these traditional winter foods in the form of dense nutrients, and in Ayurvedic terms, we want more heavy, moist, warm and stable qualities in fall and winter to help anchor us to the earth and counteract the chill and the wind. (You can also bet that nobody was eating salads, smoothies, or other cold, light foods during winter – that is a modern practice for sure!)

The trick is quality ingredients and portions. In terms of meat and dairy, quality is particularly important – you can ‘vote with your wallet'; support local farmers and ranchers who are raising animals as close to nature as they are able. Of course it costs more, and it is worth every penny in terms of your health, the animals’ quality of life, and sustaining a local economy.

And portions. Oh, portions. They are a challenge for most people – if something tastes good, we usually want to eat more of it. Imagine though, if you will, living in a time in which your family/tribe/village’s food supply had to last through the winter or you faced the real possibility of starvation. You would have to watch your portions, not to be ‘good’ or maintain a certain weight, but because it was a matter of survival for everyone.

So, the food might have been rich and nutritious, but it was in limited supply. And that, as far as I can tell, is the secret to a healthy winter diet. Rich, warm, cooked, nutritionally dense foods, in smaller portions.

In Ayurveda, we say to eat until you are satisfied but not full. (Could you eat more? Sure. Do you need to? No.) That, my friends, is the sweet spot. This is the most direct way to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, and an important way to support healthy digestion, even for people who are thin. (Because the stomach has to churn to get the most out of our food, and it can’t do that very well if it is crammed completely full.) We eat until we are satisfied but not full by slowing down and enjoying our food, so we stay present in the body and notice when we reach that sweet spot. It takes practice. If this is new to you, don’t expect to master it immediately.

So, many of us have access to an overabundance of foods from all over the world, and don’t have the option of hibernating to the degree our ancestors did, even if we wanted to. But, we can choose what and how much we eat, what we do in our free time, what time we go to bed, etc. We can definitely invite in a quality of turning inward and allow for reflection and relaxation, especially on these evenings when the sun sets so early.

Here are some time-tested ideas for nourishing, device-free, winter fun:

~ Play a game of backgammon or chess (by the fire is nice)

~ Learn a new song or two on your guitar/flute/etc. (or learn an instrument; no one is too old) and serenade the lucky people you live with, or visiting friends.

~ Bake something delicious. (This has the side benefit of warming up the house)

~ Have a hot bath with epsom salts and some essential oils (10 drops of lavender is nice)

~ Read books aloud with your loved ones. Choose a short, sweet book to start and see how it goes. I like to read myths and legends in this way, but anything is fair game. (A headlamp is good to have for this activity.)

~ Self- or partner- massage with warmed sesame oil is a classic Ayurvedic practice and Ayurvedic practitioners have been recommending it to their patients since forever. So nourishing and relaxing on so many levels! You can spend five minutes or two hours; you can do it every day or just whenever you think of it – whatever you want, and there is really no way to do it incorrectly as long as you are paying attention to your body or your partner’s body.

~ In a place you can easily see, build an alter that expresses your connection to Spirit. Light a candle there on dark evenings when you are home.cat by the fire

by Mollie Moorhead

The Less Messed-Up One

happy girl in a fieldFor folks in the healing arts in any capacity, there is this interesting dynamic that can play out with others: People expect you to be the Less Messed-Up One in any situation, and to be nearly perfect in the way you handle all your interactions and your own self-care. (And like we always feel like this woman pictured here!) When we can just come out and name that, it is so obviously ridiculous. We are all just people on our journeys! Generally healers, counselors, etc., are attracted to healing because they need it themselves, and are learning to give themselves that healing as they work with others. The patient and the practitioner are mirrors to each other, and when this relationship goes well, they both learn and grow together, integrating more and more of their wounded material and living in greater and greater harmony. The shadow aspect of this is when healers ignore their own pain, challenges and needs because it is easier to focus on and help others than help themselves, all the while hiding behind a mask of being already healed and having things figured out for themselves. This can even play out as having relationships with people who are actively addicted to drugs or alcohol, so the dynamic of being the Less Messed-Up One and The Compassionate Helper, is happening at home, at work, and socially.

There is real value to helping others when we ourselves are hurting sometimes – it is only when it becomes habitual and unconscious that it is negative. I have a profound memory of two different friends calling me up a week or so after my mom died in 2009, each with their own problems they needed support with. One had just been rebuffed by a potential love interest and the other was facing felony charges for having been caught with a bag of hallucinogenic mushrooms in his pocket, and they both felt pretty awful. I had been so enmeshed in my own pain and my mother’s pain in the last days of her life, as well as my responsibilities caring for her as she took her passage, and helping to organize the funeral and do the paperwork and so on, that to have the focus placed elsewhere for a while and get to nurture loved ones who were struggling with something completely different felt like a much-needed breath of fresh air. I was able to return to my own life and my own grief fortified and nourished by those interactions, feeling myself more deeply a part of an interconnected web of life, death, love and support – tasting the sweet, bitter complexity of life and not turning away.

That is a positive expression of getting to play the healer in our other relationships. It is when we over-identify with being a healer and being the Less Messed-Up One that a multitude of challenge can arise. A big challenge is that we can be too nice. Waaay too nice! It is not actually nice to be too nice – to do elaborate favors for people, allow debts to go unpaid, to be overly flexible and accommodating with one’s schedule, to let people walk all over you. It should go without saying that quickly leads to resentment. The resentment we feel in such situations is really towards ourselves, though, not the other person, since it is our own responsibility to stand up for ourselves. You have needs too, healers. You deserve to get paid, to get paid on time, to take days off and do nothing useful or helpful to others at all. And, it doesn’t hurt to be a little irresponsible every once in a while. You can set time aside for this, and set it up so no one needs you during that time and no one expects to hear from you. (I personally make a practice of this on a weekly basis – but I had to learn the habit from other small business owners who insist on the necessity of this for the sake of increased productivity, not from healers, who often tell their patients to take time out but don’t do it themselves(!))

Of course it is inappropriate for healers to talk about their own problems with patients during an appointment (the focus is on the patient; they are paying for this time), but healers can be real with themselves, and acknowledge their own humanness openly.

party picSomewhat on this theme, I went to see some great music in San Francisco last night and was up until the early morning. Do I do this regularly? Hell no – I’d be an absolute wreck! There is nothing like an erratic sleep schedule to quickly turn me into an emotional basket-case who cries over every small thing and feels overwhelmed by ordinary circumstances. Supporting folks to create regular routines for sleeping and eating is something I do in my practice all the time, and it REALLY works. Am I a hypocrite for breaking my routine last night? I don’t think so. I see it like this: I would be a hollow shell of a person, and a fool, if I never shook up my routine and stayed up late to see awesome music. If our focus is on our health at all, we must strike a dynamic balance between firmness/adherence to our regular healing practices and spontaneity/fun/special times that feed our soul.

Often we skip right to self-judgement when we see ourselves doing something that feels contradictory. I would suggest repeating nineteenth-century poet Walt Whitman’s famous words, “Do I contradict myself?….I am large, I contain multitudes.”

by Mollie Moorhead

A Fall Favorite: Quince – Apple Butter

quince 1 quince 3Quince grows abundantly here in the sunnier parts of the Bay Area, but many people have no idea what to do with these ancient and unusual fruits from the Near East, which were often planted by Italian and Portuguese immigrants when they came here in the last century. Berkeley and Oakland backyards are full of quince trees that fruit every autumn. Related to apples and pears, but hard and dry until cooked, when they soften up and release an intoxicating floral aroma, quince makes excellent jam, sauce, and compotes. Because I like to keep things simple whenever possible, my go-to quince recipe, below, is about as simple as it gets.

In Ayurvedic terms, quince is higher in the earth element than many other fruits, which we sorely need in the autumn when vata dosha is dominant. To counteract quince’s dry, astringent quality and render it more easy digested, we always cook it with some liquid and some fat (ghee is perfect) and add some spices to kindle the digestive fire. For anyone still suffering from summer heat and diarrhea, quince makes a wonderful, gentle remedy.

Quince-Apple Butter!

Ingredients

Apples

Quinces (equal parts quince and apple is good but not necessary, any proportion I’ve tried worked fine)

3-4 dates

juice of one lemon

raw sugar to taste

powdered cinnamon and ginger

ghee to taste

Method

Wash quinces and rub the fuzz off the skin with your hands. Quarter the quinces with a big, powerful knife and use a paring knife to remove the seeds from each section, then chop into smaller cubes. Place cubed quince in a saucepan as you go, sprinkling each new addition with lemon juice to keep them from browning. Do the same thing with the apples, then add the dates, chopping each date into a few small pieces and removing the seeds. Add a splash of water, a nice sprinkling of raw sugar (don’t use honey), powdered spices, and a nice blob of ghee (butter or coconut oil also works). Cover and cook on medium, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning, adding water in small amounts as needed. You may want to turn the heat to low at a certain point. All in all, cook for about 30 – 45 minutes. Once the fruit is uniformly soft and saucy, taste and re-season if needed with sugar, spices, and ghee. For best flavor, enjoy hot or room temperature.

Quince – apple butter can be stored in the fridge for several days, or if you have a large quantity and enjoy canning your seasonal bounty, add a touch more lemon juice and sugar to assure high acidity, and process according to your usual method or the instructions that came with your canning equipment.