Soup and Then Some
By Laura Mills
Something that says fall to me, nearly as much as leaves, pumpkins and Halloween, is soup. In my youngest days I loved good old canned tomato and chicken noodle. But my mom created countless amazing concoctions, too, the ingredients of which varied from pot to pot, and the older I got the more I grew to love what I now think of as “real” soup. Other than opening a can or reheating Mom’s care-packages, though, I have yet to make soup at home. In the past the process—the finding, chopping and otherwise preparing of ingredients, as well as the simmering of them all together—seemed to require more time and therefore more patience than I was willing to spare. But this year I’m thinking differently.
I need to make soup this year. I think it will do me a great deal of good. 2013 has so far been my craziest year yet; at this moment, as I think about it, my life could be said to resemble an array of cold, odd-sized pieces of different-colored vegetables strewn throughout a kitchen. Some pieces are already beautiful and tasty, but some pieces in their current state are also very coarse, and some are particularly bitter. Unless I allow these pieces to simmer together—slowly—and stir and season them with just the right loving touch, they will remain as they are: cold, odd, and messy.
So what better way to slow myself down and let things simmer than spending a day making soup? I don’t want a recipe. I’m going to make my soup the old-fashioned way: I’m going to wander around the produce section, choose some vegetables and anything else soup-worthy, prepare at my kitchen counter, and then stand at my stove with a big pot of water and my serving spoon. How reassuring, how healing to watch care and time transform a cold collection of odd pieces into something warm and uniquely delicious...the perfect comfort food, indeed.
Lessons From the Slow Cooker
By Laura Mills
In addition to holiday decorating, one of my favorite rituals at this time of year is making chili in my slow cooker. The day before, I chop and prepare the ingredients; the morning of, I empty everything into the cooker, add the appropriate spices, and turn the switch to “Low.” Every time I lift the lid to stir throughout the day, a wave of smells spreads across my kitchen, and by dinnertime the chili has transformed from a cold mass into a simmering stew. The whole process—from preparation, through cooking and dinnertime, and even through packing leftovers—proves itself quite the event. It is, I believe, an occasion that sets the mood for a cozy, happy, and festive transition from fall to winter.
Isn’t that the best thing about comfort food, the fact that we not only enjoy the flavor itself but also the total experience of it? Eating our favorite comfort foods seems to reset our ability to notice things that enhance our existence, like warmth, heartiness, the coziness of settling in, and the closeness we experience with others and ourselves. Comfort food, in a way, is like salt we add to the moments in which we anticipate it, prepare it, eat it, and clean up after it. It doesn’t change life’s flavor, just heightens our awareness of its tastiness.
By Laura Mills
Recently my husband and I discussed the change in seasons and agreed we’re both partial to the fall—and I know we’re in the majority at least among people we know. Why does fall delight so many? I’m sure the color changes evident in this part of the country are a major source of sentiment, but after considering the question, I thought of a few additional possibilities….
First, by the end of September more frequent cooler temperatures bring a unique excitement. While winter transitions to spring so gradually I barely notice it, summer transitions to fall seemingly overnight. And it inspires an annual ritual in my house: the digging out of sweatshirts and jeans, socks and blankets. Of course, we do experience that occasional unseasonable warmth well into the season, but overall fall distinguishes itself from summer quite dramatically.
Second, fall is particularly fun. It involves back-to-school, the culmination of baseball, the beginning of college and pro-football, and of course the anticipation of year-end holidays. Which prefaces the third possibility: fall lends itself to my most favorite comfort foods like soups, casseroles, and various pumpkin and apple goodies. More than at any other time of year, I can taste the effort and nurturing that went into growing and preparing what I eat.
Finally, and definitely most profoundly, watching the natural world progress into its final yearly stage makes me pause. The act of passing into dormancy, of drawing back into the earth, reminds me of life’s transience. And that in turn, more than anything during any other season, reminds me how blessed I am to be here.
WHY PRACTICE YOGA?
DECEMBER 4, 2010. We have lots of new friends in yoga class which I'm totally stoked about! And one of the greatest things about new students is how they teach us to really think about Why we practice yoga? Taking a step back lets just explain how cool it is that yoga is something we "practice". We are not trying to conquer it or complete it or perfect the crap out of it, we just show up and practice. That's all. And what is yoga really? Donna Farhi, Master yoga teacher and author says, “In its broadest sense yoga is a return to wholeness. There is an uncompromising belief in yoga philosophy that wholeness is our implicit birthright. But most of us forget our wholeness, or in yogic terms we forget our true nature, and we live in a kind of illusion that we are alone."
As a result we end up suffering from a kind of SPIRITUAL AMNESIA that makes us feel separate from our authentic selves, separate from others, separate from feeling better. Yoga is any practice that restores this original wholeness and sense of connection with the world.” And really the reason you practice or I practice is both the same and different. On the one hand we all practice yoga to feel better.
And how we go about it is unique and special to each of us. It could be we practice today for physical reasons (to lose 10 pounds), to relieve physical pain, to alleviate mental stress, to process our emotions or even to practice being more spiritual. All reasons are welcomed and all are good. Yoga is exactly what you need it to be for you. It's like taking a field trip to the ocean and we will all focus on one aspect more than another (the sun, the heat, the sand, the sound, the smell, the water).
My all time favorite definition of yoga that I take on as my own as well is by David Frawley, Yoga and Ayurveda:
“Yoga is one of the most extraordinary spiritual sciences that mankind has discovered. It is like a gem of great proportions, containing many facets whose light can illume the whole of our lives with great meaning. Yogic methods cover the entire field of our existence – from the physical, sensory, emotional, mental, and spiritual to the highest Self-realization. It includes all methods of higher evolution in humanity – physical postures, ethical postures, breath control, sensory methods, affirmations and visualizations, prayer and mantra, and complex meditative disciplines. Yoga understands the nature and interrelationships of the physical, subtle and formless universes into the boundless infinite beyond time and space, and shows us how these also exist within each human individual.”
So why you show up to practice is yours to cherish and my hope is that by the end of class everyone feels better. That the yoga works to helps us all feel more comfortable being ourselves. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
Join me on a spiritual adventure www.alchemytours.com or www.silviamordini.com
FULL MOON SALUTE: 18.6 YEARS TO REVEAL SELF
April 28, 2010 Today is a full moon! The moon as you know is a reflection of the sun. The moon's trajectory is very complicated. It follows the Sun's trajectory, only 6 months later; the full moon in winter comes as high as the Sun in the summer. And it takes the Moon 18.6 YEARS TO FULFILL ONE COMPLETE ORBIT!
Gosh if we were only so patient with ourselves.
We all have stuff hidden inside us. Who are we to think we are going to reveal this all in one yoga class or two or 10 or even 100. Heck the moon takes 18.6 years! But yet often we come to the mat as the quick fix. It's not going to work like that. Heed the words of Tantric scholar Christopher Tompkins, "Don't try to fix shit during yoga, just try to be with how you are now."
There is plenty of stuff to uncover by the time we start yoga. There is stuff of the past we need to heal and let go of, there are the future plans or goals we are afraid to actually speak out loud, there is actually being yourself as you are today. There is so much that I strongly encourage you to take your time. Allow what is embedded or hidden to be reflected as you feel comfortable doing. And believe me if you stay with this practice it will come out...it just takes time my friends. Quite frankly, let's all agree right now to give it 18.6 years at least.
Love and light, Silvia
YOGA IS LIKE DATING
NOVEMBER 2, 2009: If the first yoga pose you did you felt uncomfortable would you give up? It’s like saying if the first person you ever dated you felt a little uncomfortable with would you never date again?
We are really dating the poses, we try them out, some are good fits right away and others take a while to warm up and coax out of their shell. Just like people.
A friend told me this story of when they were in school studying psychology and an assignment was to write out the description of the ideal partner. Well one guy wrote out a serious paper of 100 various requirements in their ideal mate. Then fast forward 20 years and they are at a reunion and this guy is there and his class mates have to ask, “So did you find a person with all 100 things you were looking for?” And he said yes, he did. So guess what did he marry her? Nope, he didn’t feel a fit, even though they had all the qualities…there wasn’t an energetic connection.
Ok well it’s the same with these poses. You might think you know what you want and then come to realize there is a greater benefit to what you didn’t even know you were looking for but felt right. So give it time dudes.
We will build our practice tonight in a progressive way. This is like how we might meet or date people in our life that we learn from, might not be our life partner but we take lessons from them and apply to the next relationship. It’s like that with yoga: class to class, pose to pose. Enjoy it all and learn from each relationship, each pose and embrace your life more fully! Love in all ways, Silvia
SURRENDER INTO SAVASANA EVERY MOMENT
NOVEMBER 4, 2009: The practice of savasana is an interesting one especially today where we are all so good at promoting constant activity. Generally we are very good at getting new projects started and working ourselves ragged but how good are you at surrendering? Can you take a few breaths right now to empty the residue of your day and surrender to what it is happening right now. The quality of surrender is what we learn amongst other things in Savasana. So today we practiced Savasana, final relaxation, a number of times during class.
Savasana helps us in key ways:
1. To be ok with the non-doing which we talk about in yoga as BEING PRESENT
2. To embrace endings with as much gusto as we embrace beginnings. Art of CLOSURE (Pratikryasana)
3. To learn how to relax and self-comfort (this is the antidote to fight/flight response)
4. To recognize and admit to ourselves everything has an EXPIRATION DATE
So then what? How does savasana apply in every moment, every pose? It helps us notice that life is right now. There is no need to keep waiting to be happy, to keep looking for more or better but instead start enjoying the sweetness of our life right now. Ok so here's the thing I love lying down and being still. So maybe I was born to practice savasana but I think we all are, we just have to practice. I hope you can through savasana learn to be more present, put closure to open elements of your life so you can stay with the flow, learn practical ways to relax and make the most of this moment!
But remember we are only able to find surrender when we cultivate peace within ourselves. Shannon Gannon, Jivamukti founder says, “The practices of yoga create peace in ourselves, and that peace will be reflected in the world around us. If we truly want world peace we must begin by embodying that peace ourselves. The practice of yoga will end war, even wars of which we often are not even aware. Speak out for peace, live peacefully, think well of others, do what you can to uplift the lives of others. Find a way to live so that your own life enhances the lives of others. Give up the love of power for the power of love. Peace will come when we have given up hateful thoughts, cruel words, and violent actions in our own daily lives. Cultivate hopeful thoughts, sweet speech and kind actions. Don't wait for a better world. Start now to create a universe of harmony and peace. It is up to you.
Wishing you peaceful surrender, Silvia
BUMPING INTO OUR LIMITATIONS
Now we have a choice. We can stay in the “comfort” zone a little apathetic or not totally turned on by life. What a friend once had described to him as “flat lining” one’s life. You know how this feels. Everything is just OK. Spiritual practice implores us to live life more than OK. That we need not give up when we meet uncomfortable situations for that’s exactly when we are about to break free. The author Jaimal Yogis says, “the story you’ve been telling, you know the one, about the way you have to compromise that dream. Bend that rule. Cut the cornerstone of logic for breakfast. That story is old and tired. Do you see how FREE you are without it?
Please don’t compromise your life, this one life any longer. Be uncomfortable. Face the fear, the discomfort to live your life heroically. It is really the only way. As I wish myself my own best strength I offer you the same. Let’s all just go for living the adventure of life! Love to you, Silvia
“A man practices the art of adventure when he heroically faces up to life; When he has the daring to open doors to new experiences and to step boldly forth to explore strange horizons. When he is unafraid of new ideas, new theories and new philosophies. When he has the curiosity to experiment--to test and try new ways of living and thinking. When he has the flexibility to adjust and adapt himself to the changing patterns of life. When he refuses to seek safe places and easy tasks and has, instead, the courage to wrestle with the toughest problems. When he has the moral stamina to be steadfast in the support of those men in whom he has faith and those causes in which he believes. When he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints. When he has the nerve to move out of life's shallows and venture forth into the deep. When he keeps his heart young, his expectations high and never allows his dreams to die. When he concludes that a rut is only another name for the grave and that the only way to stay out of the ruts is by living adventurously and staying vitally alive every day of his life. By Wilfred Peterson. Source: The art of living, Albert W. Daw Collection
APPRECIATION OF THIS MOMENT
There is that tendency we have to want things to be different than what they are but spiritual maturity impresses upon us to learn how to find a way to be content with what is in the present for it is a gift. To help with this growth simply listen to your heart as you watch your thoughts. This study of oneself will open up channels of stuckness in both the physical body and channels to deep reservoirs of clarity and wisdom within our minds. This cultivates appreciation. And there is an inherent gentleness when we practice appreciation for who we are. Please make your observations not from a place of judgement but of understanding, compassion and self-love. Know that you dissolve negativity through appreciation for this is the real enemy of love. Practice appreciation and love triumphs!
So today take time to appreciate your breath, to appreciate your feelings (whatever they may be – joy, sadness, peace, frustration, love), appreciate being in your own skin. I know this is not easy. Just like the poses we practice on the mat are not easy. They are often very uncomfortable.
So I’m asking you to be uncomfortable. To actually stay with the discomfort of your reactivity until you can turn it into a loving response. With time you’ll find the action of appreciation gets easier and this is the answer to dissolving the negative from all areas of your life. And as luck has it life is going to keep giving us opportunities to evolve this practice. From one perspective what we are talking about here is Santosha, to be with what is and find the good, experiencing contentment within the situation, with the person instead of getting angry or having to change the thing, situation, weather or person. Now that’s the advancing of our spiritual selves. Let the door of appreciation open the way. Love you, love serving you! Silvia
EVERYONE NEEDS COMFORT
SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2008:
JULY 9, 2008: In yoga, there is a word for the sweetness of honey called “madhurya”. This idea of being able to really taste and savor all of our life experiences. To me it is the practice of falling in love with being ourselves over and over each day. I have not always easily embraced this as a life practice. There were certainly times growing up that being a little different (with parents that spoke English as a second language) that I was not comfortable being myself.
My yoga practice has put me at ease with being in my own skin. I credit in great part the movement of breath connected to asana as having changed me. I love the poses in all they have taught me about acceptance, patience and self-inspired self-confidence.
Keep seeking out the newness of experiences in your life. You are a love anthropologist and astronaut all at the same time!
One way I showcase my comfort in me being me is my musical tastes in class playlists as well as playful choreography. For sure I hope you enjoy the sweetness of both as I offer them to you from my heart!