Hunger is the worst of diseases ~ the Buddha

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hot Cross Buns, Magnum PI's Grin, & the Anger That Arises in Meditation (w Yin-Tangy, Not Quite White Icing)

*Please note: I am not including a recipe for traditional Hot Cross Buns here because, frankly, I do not have the inclination these days to come up with a gluten-free version of something I or the people I love do not love.  Plus, sometimes we make it worse by ruminating--or even, meditating--on a thing; there's the off-chance that sifting through the images and childhood memories of overprocessed, stale, storebought buns with criss-crosses of white sugar icing really will make me angry. And that is not what cooking meditation is about.

Maybe anger with regard to meditation is too strong a word--but soooo few people under the age of 40 know this usage of the word, cross, as in: "If you don't learn to just breathe and be in the moment soon, I am reaaallly going to get cross with you, Self."

The same people who know this kind of cross to bear also have a stunningly comprehensive brain backlog of complete Magnum PI episodes, as well as memory co-eds skipping across their hippocampuses toward get-togethers at The Regal Beagle, where Tom Selleck and/or John Ritter endlessly grin and use "buns" to mean, um, "sit-bones," that I thought I might clarify.

These people may recognize this feeling (which is just a feeling, mind you!--isn't that comforting?): Sometimes, when we are seeking peace in meditation, what we find is every single obstacle in ourselves to that peace, and they are not external--though they do tend to be exacerbated by other people's non-sitting grinning, I have noticed. 

This includes, but is not limited to: adorable husbands who don't have to sit for so long like you do, who can read Be Here Now once and chirp, "Hey, this is GREAT. I already do this!!"and walk away; children who are busy constructing catapults & launching stuffed animals and uncooked eggs into the kitchen because it's Saturday morning and they want you to play; and simply, your SELF: sitting too long, and having your buns/sit-bones go numb.

Because, maybe what I actually need to do is stand up and...stretch?

This type of anger, mostly directed at ourselves and our perceived shortcomings, has a real, well...stale storebought quality to it. You start to sense that it's not real, but a story you're telling yourself about yourself--it's got that exact tin-canned, fakey cinnamon roll icing taste to it. Sometimes your meditation feels stale, too, and once you stand up and stretch a while, you simply discover it's gone away, it's empty, a wasted white sugar aftertaste.

Okay, I lied:
Here is a pretty good recipe I just stood up and came up with for non-gakky white icing that you could put on all kinds of good things. Even Hot Cross Buns.

Yin-Tangy, Not Quite White Icing:
1/2 C. coconut milk
2 egg whites, beaten
1/2 T. agave syrup (more, to taste)
1/2 tsp. potato starch

This is a very loose recipe (literally and figuratively). It's tangy-sweet. If you're not into knowing where your eggs are from, or uncooked egg whites, it's not for you. However, it's not meant to sit.
You kind of have to use it in the moment, and then go on with your day.

Note: I didn't intend to make anything this morning, or to post; I just posted yesterday, which is not my, pattern. The recipe hit me as I wrote, and suddenly I was just whipping it up and snapping one (not 300) picture, and ready to hit "post."
I was suspicious: it just came together too quickly, too easily--and I expressed this concern to aforementioned adorable husband, who grinned and said:
"I never question it when things come easily."

Ah. There's the fruit or (coco)nut of this cooking meditation, wisdom which may never get stale--but no amount of sitting will get you there until you just experience it standing up.

That man is really, truly sweet.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Yolking It Together: from Play Therapy to Dancing With the Star Wars

* see endnote

Yesterday I discovered that my son, Otto, has been secreting egg after egg up to his room all this week, attempting to hatch them under a nest of bird-bodied stuffed animals and his blankets. 
When, covered in slippery yolk after a rare attempt at housekeeping (crrrraaack!--I apologize to my husband for both, which are surely news), I asked about his methods, he said: "I know I'm not supposed to be able to incubate them like a mother bird; I know it's not supposed to work, but I just had a feeling about it. Why can't I try?"

Yeah. Because it was quite a nest he'd made, in the blankets I'd made him, doing what he knew wouldn't work: the sweetest, tenderest, softest place you could imagine cracking open, if you are so inclined. 

And I did, a little more. Crack open. 
My heart understood, or remembered, having no limitations for what "should" be possible. 

I totally get that kid.

Now, the essence of my 9-year old daughter, Ava, is something different. Her totality hangs in her Easter Egg Hunting outfit: 
And yet, this is also me. Absent from the shot is the stack of science encylopedias teetering at the feet, the test tubes rolling across the uneven farmhouse floor, the eenciest of Legos calling, "come find me!" to barefoot arches, the pink tin flower hook, hammered & cut from an old barn roof. Also out of eyeshot is the pair of orange and pink camouflaged tights (camouflaged from whom?--the Lorax??), which we cut off at the bottom because, without adequate toe-spread--tights are miserably confining. 
Immediately, the outfit struck me as a "Totalitea Party Dress." That these would be the lightest of threads--those worn when we're engaged in genderless (and selfless and limitless) play.

With so much verbiage flying about this week over same-sex marriage, and so much in the news about gendered play and toys, it occurred to me that it's we, the supposed grown-ups, who have lost our true sense of sameness. 
Kids understand perfectly, that these are just clothes, and masks, and shells we wear around--that we are all "one in drag," as Ram Dass would say.  
Few things show our age as keenly as our sandbox-deserted sense of play. And for sure, we have lost sight of our childhood right to try-it-out, mix the roles, gender-bend, mix stripes and polka dots, and just play with form:

Corky St. Clair is funny not because Christopher Guest is playing him with stereotypical mannerisms, but because he is playing with it all (and he's a genius). And because we could all learn a LOT about our discomfort and our self-limitations--about being ourselves--from watching Waiting for Guffman.

For sure, we've lost our sense of wonder: The understanding that we can do anything because all of this external stuff, all of these worldly trappings, are just weird, itchy threads and cords. And that our real identities are 5-year-old-boy-at-the-pool-buck-naked and free, at home in our hearts.
As a mom and as always, I wiped a little more sand from my own eyelets this week--and I felt lighter.

I Griev(ous) this loss of invitations to the great Totalitea Party--where we can do and be it all at the same time. Not from society, with its usual, engraved expectations & letter-pressing conditions, but from ourselves
When did we stop extending the invitation to play with the idea of our totality to ourselves
When did we stop setting our shiny pink-patent leather aspects side-by-side with the dark, growling stuff under the mask?
About the time we got up from the Sand Box of our own self-healing--which is, I am finding with shock and wonder, still warm at sunset.

*Apparently, yoga (योग)  really does mean "yolked understanding." This photo was a happy "accident" sent to me by my mind- & heart-yoked friend, Annelies (who has a beautiful and keen lens for such moments). 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Wordplay, Hot Potato with Mr. A-Z, & the Besaurus: Where Everything's Just Another Word for LOVE

My top fears as a child were cannibals, mummies, and my throat closing up. Okay--and the fear of our Sun's impending status as a Red Giant; a fear which also (in a great display of the time-bending, cross-karmic palate) keeps my daughter up at night, her tongue glued to the roof of her mouth in cast-iron concern.

Recently I sat with these fears in my kitchen floor meditations, and a tender insight like a sheet of phyllo dough unfolded for me: these are all fears of consumption--and they are playing out to this day: literal self-consumption [cannibals]; consumption by rigidity into collapse and ultimate emptiness [and okay, maybe I'm afraid I still don't really get Buddhism's emptiness with a capital-E]; consumption by contraction and constriction [perhaps prompted by a General Hospital episode with the zebra of a lady whose throat was closing up, accidentally viewed while my mother ironed]; self-immolation [nothing says fiery consumption like a solar ka-boooooom!].

This is what I have to work with: my conditioning. 
Shrug. At age seven, I understood deeply allusions to Cassandra: baaaad things happen when you tell the truth, and no one will believe you anyway. So, I found ways to swallow my truth--first with food, then with alcohol, then, even here: stone-cold sober and aware that I am parsing the parsley to a cheery and distracting lifelessness. 

It's funny that I'm afraid of consumption of the self, when I know (at least much of the time) that the self is not who I really am. What is there to fear about things just as they are? Fear of expressing myself. Not "myself"--fear of expressing what is simply there.

Later on, after I discovered writing, my fear expanded like the Universe to become fear of not finding just the right word, in the right place, at the right time: lexinexichronophobia.
Perhaps, stylus paralysis is really the fear of having to some day eat my words--or being consumed by them--should they be the "wrong ones." 
Being afraid of the wrong word is a dreadful raisin d'être, let me tell you.

It's true that a conscious life can be consuming. For an earnest and still fairly new meditator with just enough zest for the brain science to know when she's choosing a path for herself that is not so neurally groovy, even the most basic, groceryrun-of-the-mill decisions can feel like a challenge to do it right-mindfully (and thus, there is an implied wrong-mindfully): "paper or neuroplastic?" Sigh.

And yet, a huge part of me longs to be consumed by it, exactly and totally. To dissolve myself completely in the path, to jump into the Insych--er-ator of practice.
But jump in the Insych--er-ator of Love & practice you realize that, not only is there no ground to land on (not to mention no grinding up), no parachute, and no actual jumper, there are no blades waiting for you, either. 
If only it were so easy to dispose of the negativity bias!
So...what is there to be so afraid of?

As you can see, my mind is like a cosmic kitchen sink that never "empties."  
This is very funny, given its daily proximity to the Buddha and where I actually sit.

You gotta get up off the kitchen floor at some point. Your legs will go numb, and it's a bad idea to attempt to operate the mandoline of insight without full sensation (Note: not what they mean by detachment).

You'll keep being dropped back onto the floor--and the real world--anyway, to do your householder's work.

"You're not a monk, Stacia" is leveled like a cup measure, fairly frequently around here, and it's true, I'm not a monk, although the idea of a nice, quiet forest or cave (with WiFi) seems enchanting when this mortal toil of breakfast dishes and lunch-packing and lecture-prepping and neural kitchen rewiring seems endless.
Sometimes I wonder how much earlier I could get up to meditate. Will there ever be a time when a 9-year old master of stealth rhetoric doesn't reel me in from vipassana (insight meditation):
[from the slit of one eye, I see she's got a test-tube] "So, Ma, are you meditating? Because I think I need one-quarter tablet of Alka-Seltzer, a cork, distilled water, and what's the right word for this property?--REACTIVITY? Also, I'm hungry--could you make one of your coffee cakes?"
That's not taking me away from the insight, people; that is the insight. There will be a time when no one interrupts my meditation--when no one needs my specific and delicate crumb of the language of Love. But that time is not Now.
I'm not a monk. I am, at very best--and in my best, expanded aspiration--merely the kitchen god's wife & sous chef. 
I can drop biscuits and cookies, but I can't drop out of the living because I'm not cooked yet, as Ram Dass might say. As much as I might like to live a life up in my head, it is only through this body--specifically, these cook's hands and this GI tract--that I will ever learn anything about loving and serving. 

So. I am trying to live not so much in my head, and more in my heart.
No, I am not trying, Master Yoda, I am actually doing

I like big books and I will not lie. They live in squirrel piles around our house. Words, pages, phrases, and a haze of ink like a dried berry stain all comfort me--or they have always comforted me all my life. You see, this is part occupational hazard and part conditioning to let go of. Like what worked in the past.
Recently, I've discovered that I, who always believed myself to be skillfully feeling feelings--am only describing them. Putting boxes (and other shapes) around them, to contain them--and make some space between my self and them. Mettāthud; sizzle: that's the sound of the astral plane hitting the causal pan. 

I have a pantry of half-finished posts, dishes made with great love and thought, and recipes that are going unshared--they're just too complex to be digested, even by me. You can whip yourself into a real frenzy trying to find the right word. And then, like a cosmic, comic game of Hot Potato, the music stops and you aren't wearing pot holders (okay, I never wear pot holders).
There is no right word, just as there is no wrong word--and perhaps there are only digraphs and diphthongs, spoken with either love & right effort or greed, hatred, and delusion. 
Maybe they're just words (holy smoke point, did I just say that???).
Perhaps the real fear, which is just an illusion is this: What would happen if I passed on perfection and ate my heart out? If I allowed it?
There is no perfect one as a separate entity, because it's all the perfect One. And a whole lotta space. One beautiful bowl, empty and available to be filled and filled again with new delicacies, all the flavors of the only nourishment there really is: Love. 

Surely surely, this is what Ram Dass meant when he said there are 10,000 horrible demons--and dishes!--and 10,000 beautiful ones. The master recipe, one you maybe only need a word to help you remember & don't have to write down, is Love. And what Neem Karoli Baba, Maharaj-ji, was telling for sure me when he said: Love everyone, and feed them. (I feel the "Don't choke them" is strongly implied here).

In a playful moment, I picked that book up off the squirrel pile, Thought and Statement. I didn't think, state, or read it, I consumed it--just what I'd been so afraid of. I used my ever-handy X-acto knife and I cut out the heart, stuck out my arm & gingersnapped this photo. 
I just guessed.
Look where the opening is: my throat chakra, the seat of spiritual communication, my gullet, my voice.
Suddenly, one word rose out of my heart and up into my throat and mind (bottom oven rack-up processing, for once): Besaurus. Not the word itself but the perfect essence of a word, soft and fragrant, full as bread baking. Right there in my throat.

The same place that closes up in me first when I am in pain, when I say NO to who I am really am and to the Universe--an ache that is choking (to this day, I can't wear turtlenecks) gagging, a bone in the throat.

But when I look again, I see that moment in the story of who I think I am has already passed. My conditioning holds no real substance or sustenance, and that a B(one) in the Throat is really just a challenge to "B One in the Throat." 
Oh, yeah. 

So that's the new blog, Besaurus. It's the tapas (which I guess is Foodskrit for "small plate of purifying fire") of Peacefoodlove. Besaurus: Where Everything is Just Another Word for Love.
First entry: Foie Grok, and it's fitting, as they'll be super quick posts, like Grace through a goose.
It's a place for me to remind you to remind me that no matter how wordy it gets, I really just need to remember--and serve up--the One.

No matter how many plates I spin, how much hash and conditioned rehash I sometimes forget and sling, I really do have the foolproof recipe. And so do you.
I know the way for me to get back, to Eat at Home in my heart. It only takes one or a handful of words and the just-picked out of the brambles of thin-air feeling: the Stop the car!-- berries-spied-by-the-side-of-the-road feeling. It's lila; it's play.

You know, I've been trying to write a post about dark matter, Bundt cakes and Jason Mraz's last album for months--but there are too many words in my way. As the Wizard of ooh's and ah's and fa-la-lafels himself might agree, it really is all about the play in the Wordplay

I'm no Mr. A to Z, but I do know something about being the Ms. Alpha to Omega 3, when it comes to icing yourself into the corner with your own words. Some day, I'm sure I'll get to the dark of the matter on that post--but for now, I'm after the heart and for me, too, it's all about the wordplay--heavy on the lila. I'll still wear my heart on my plate here for those who care to read, but I'll think less and play with my food more at Besaurus, loading up the astral game of hot potato. It's Peacefoodlove, pared down.
See you, and serve you, there. 

Pass the potatoes.