Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have to admit something — I am not a fan of following recipes. As a Health Coach, many of my clients request (and expect) recipes… and I often feel stuck in my response. I love preparing food intuitively, and the thought of a recipe seems restrictive. I also realized I have a belief that recipes are inherently ‘hard to follow’ or ‘too much work’…

That being said, I’ve had my fair share of ‘food failures’ due to not following recipes… so, I’ve been keeping track of what works, both from a taste, health and convenience standpoint. I think it’s important to combine intuition with structure…

My recent experimentation has led to my very own invention of the ‘RECI-FREE’! It’s a version of a recipe that allows freedom and creativity. Following a reci-free should feel expansive and simple instead of restrictive and challenging… and in my opinion, it is a form of meditation…

The following reci-free is SO EASY TO MAKE and SO HEALTHY, it’s almost ridiculous. In addition, it is completely free of dairy, sugar and all grains. When I think of the word ‘cookie’ I automatically assume there’s no way to make it ‘healthy’. Even a gluten-free cookie does not necessarily mean it’s healthy. Many people are sensitive to grains, even gluten-free grains.

I’ve been experimenting with grain-free flours in order to create these wonderful treats… without sacrificing flavor and texture… and VOILA! It worked! And, with less than ten ingredients and done from start to finish in 30 minutes.

Enjoy and savor mindfully!

What You’ll Need

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon fine Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 cup roasted almond butter
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (liquid)
  • ¾ cups honey, raw if possible but must be liquid
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks (I use Hu chocolate)
  • 1/3 cup raw walnuts, crumbled (optional)

What You’ll Do

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 
2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or stand up mixer, mix the almond flour with the baking powder, cardamom and salt at low speed until combined.
  3. At medium speed, beat in the almond butter, honey, coconut oil and vanilla until smooth (I just use my hands).
  4. Add the chocolate chunks and walnuts and beat until just incorporated.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 15 minutes.
  6. Take dough out of the freezer to warm up for a few minutes.
  7. Scoop 1/4-cup of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets and flatten into 1/2-inch-thick disks leaving 1½ inches between each cookie.
  8. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until they are lightly browned and firm around the edges.
  9. Let cool completely before serving.

 

 

7 Ways To Be Happy Everyday

Many would claim it is impossible to be happy every day, or for even a few minutes straight for that matter. And in a sense I totally agree. Happiness, as we tend to identify with it, is a passing emotion. Waves of sadness, disappointment, fear, anger etc. will inevitably enter our consciousness as long as we are human. The type of happiness I am referring to is the type of happiness the ancient yogic and Buddhist traditions speak of. It is an inherent peacefulness that does not and can not become disturbed among the sea of chaos, the wavering mind and life’s unexpected twists and turns.

This type of indestructible inner peace is fertile ground for true wisdom to emerge. According to the third yoga sutra, when the mind is still we have an opportunity to get clear with who we really are. In that spacious awareness, we have more connection to our higher self, our intuition and ultimately our life’s purpose. From this space of clarity, the fluctuations of the mind will no longer cause anxiety and we will be able to navigate the choppy waves of life with ease, compassion and love.

I live by the beach and while taking a walk yesterday, I read a sign that said:

‘You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.’

That’s what inspired me to share this with you…

Try these on, give it a week or so and notice the subtle and not so subtle shifts in your body, mind and life:

  1. Ritual– It doesn’t have to be spiritual to be sacred. In fact, you already have many rituals, don’t you? You may not consider them rituals since they are so much a part of your daily flow. Brushing your teeth, taking a shower, doing the laundry, going to work, eating, etc. These are rituals. Now, there’s a different between mindless and mindful rituals. AND there’s a different between external and internal rituals. External rituals are the ones we do outwardly, such as taking the dogs for a walk, grocery shopping, helping others in need, etc. Internal rituals are just for you and far too often fall by the wayside when life gets busy. The internal rituals are the ones that ultimately lead to happiness. These rituals, done mindfully, include cooking, meditation, yoga, burning a candle, reading, taking a walk in nature… just to name a few. It is important to schedule these into your day every day, even (and especially) if you don’t have time.
  2.  Intermittent Fasting– Your gut and your brain are one in the same. When the belly is full, the mind is full. One of the most effective ways to reduce inflammation, re-set your palate, reduce cravings and uplift your mood is intermittent fasting. The exact protocol is different for different people, but overall, the idea is to allow yourself a 12-17 hour window of NO FOOD INTAKE each day. Water and herbal tea are allowed. This gives your digestive system a chance to relax and your organs a chance to detoxify your system as they are meant to do. I typically stop eating by 9pm and don’t eat the next day until noon or 1pm. Of course this goes against what we’ve been told about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. If you can’t fathom the idea of skipping breakfast, try fasting between 5pm and 8am. Try it on for a few days and watch what happens.
  3.  Breathe- Oh wait, you are doing that already. Well… that’s the baseline. Yes, it’s keeping you alive and that’s a miracle. Breathing happens to be one of the only things in life we can control. Can’t control the weather, can’t control other people, but we can control our inhale and exhale. Deep breathing is not just a trendy stress-reduction practice. It is magic. It is medicine. The best type of breathing for mental clarity is deep three-part belly breathing. It is easiest done laying down. Place one hand on your belly and one on your heart. Play soothing music. Close your yes. Dim the lights. Take a deep breath and fill your lower belly with oxygen… elongate that inhale until you eventually flood your diaphragm and your chest with air… retain the breath for a few seconds and then gently exhale through your nose— releasing the breath from your chest downward and eventually squeeze your bellybutton towards your lower spine and hold the breath out gently for a few seconds. Then repeat. Even just five rounds of this breathing practice will reduce anxiety and create more space in your body and mind. This is a good breathing practice to practice when you are feeling fear or anxiety.
  4.  Dance- Every day. To your own music. In your house. Dance wildly. No structure. Let everything go. Let everything shake. Oftentimes energy can get stuck in our bodies and even our daily exercise routine may not move the energy out effectively. Shaking and breathing through your mouth and dis-orderly movement will give you more energy, increase mental clarity, make you feel light and definitely increase your happiness. Even just five minutes per day to your favorite music will re-set your entire system. This is a form of meditation. 
  5. Go upside down- Head stand, hand stand, play around, or simply lay on your back with your legs propped up against a wall. Inversions are energizing yet calming. They provide the body with a different perspective which helps tonify the organs by reversing the flow of blood. They also improve circulation and reduce inflammation. The calming effects on the nervous system are palpable after 3-5 minutes of being upside down. And if you’re wondering, there’s no such thing as being upside down for ‘too long’.
  6.  Eat more greens- Here’s your daily reminder that those little leaves contain more magic than it may seem. You may have heard about the food/mood connection… and if you haven’t, here’s an obvious example: drink enough coffee, you’ll be wired… drink enough alcohol, you’ll be drunk. What we consume inevitably alters our consciousness on some level. Oftentimes people eat the same types of foods on a daily basis so their baseline of functioning is familiar. Chronic conditions such as anxiety, headaches and irritability can be prevented and kept at bay with dietary shifts. The first step I encourage all people to add to their life is to eat more greens. These include: broccoli, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, collard greens, Swiss chard and more. Juice, sauté, steam, stir-fry, blend into a smoothie— just get them in any way that you enjoy the most. Green vegetables promote a light, flexible energy as they grow upwards towards the sun. Eating greens often may lead to feelings of inspiration and creativity. You won’t know until you try!
  7. Sing- I sing every day. Your voice is the portal to your heart. Who doesn’t love singing in the shower? Or singing in the car? Make it a daily ritual to sing, whether it’s devotional music or Beyonce. The path of Bhakti Yoga uses chanting as a way to connect with the divine. When I am in the midst of song, my entire being is involved. It is a total meditation and the mind is not part of it. The first time I chanted I started crying for no reason. I had no idea why tears were streaming down my face and it wasn’t until years later I realized how heart-opening and purifying singing is. Singing releases anger and stuck emotions, leaving us feeling elated and at peace. It does not matter what your voice sounds like. You are the only one with your voice. Allow it to come from the depths of your belly. From the depths of your being. Everyone is a singer. You are a singer. So sing.

You deserve to make yourself your top priority every day. By cultivating and embracing your inner spaciousness and joy, you will be more effective in all of your relationships and external pursuits. If we truly desire happiness, we must first create it for ourselves with ourselves. And now is the best time to cultivate that relationship.

If you’re looking for a re-set, more self care or guidance for the next chapter of your life, please join me in Bali May 26-June 1 for an adventure with a tribe of like minded souls. This wellness retreat will utilize holistic living practices including yoga, meditation, delicious organic meals, group practices and fun excursions to bring your entire system into balance and harmony. This retreat is designed to connect you to your purpose, your peace and your power.

Click here to learn more→ www.balilikeaboss.com

How My Yoga Teacher Training Changed My Life

I came across yoga by chance. Well, I guess nothing is by chance, but it was definitely not planned. While studying abroad in Australia during college, I took my first yoga class thinking it was supposed to be a kickboxing class. Initially, I wanted to run out of the room thinking, ‘this is going to be boring’, yet quite the opposite happened. I walked out of the room stunned, sweaty and perhaps for the first time, at ease with my being… even if for just a few moments. It just ‘clicked’. And from then on, I attended yoga classes daily until I returned to college in Rhode Island where I ventured to find a local yoga studio by the beach. It became my sanctuary. I was fascinated with yoga, and it seemed the furthest thing from anything I would do. I am originally from New Jersey and up until yoga, my ultimate desire in life was to be hair dresser. I resisted university. I was into partying, fashion and fast food. I spent over three hours per day in the gym (mostly checking out the guys and reading gossip magazines) and lived off of energy drinks for about a year of my life…

Yoga turned my existence upside down in a very subtle was, and I was hooked and fascinated. Not obsessive, but deeply curious. My yoga teacher in Rhode Island was deeply studied in yogic science, asana and humor. Through her teachings, I was able to experience peace in the face of challenge. Before that, I thought the only solution for the inevitable anxieties of life was a cigarette and a Corona Light (hey, at least it was ‘light’, right?) 😉

My sincere intrigue led me to inquire how to learn more about yoga. My teacher directed me to Costa Rica. She told me who to study with, and that night I booked my month long 200-hr Teacher Training at Nosara Yoga Institute. Not only did this choice not include any logic but it transcended intuition and feelings in general. It was an immediate ‘yes; an inherent knowing of my being that I chose to follow wholeheartedly.

As my training approached, I had few expectations, other than the fact that I would be learning more about the postures and would receive my certificate as a yoga teacher. How cool? How unexpected of me. It was another ‘school’ of sorts, and I was eager to be a student. And of course I was excited to travel to Costa Rica for the first time!

What I didn’t realize is that this training would shape the rest of my life in ways I could never have imagined. A yoga teacher training, especially abroad, is an opportunity to not only learn yoga through the mind but to live the practice. I re-connected with nature in ways I would have previously made fun of people for. The life force was so rich in Costa Rica and that oxygen had such a profound effect on my brain that to this day, almost twelve years later, my chronic anxiety seems like a distant dream. Practicing yoga in a beautiful natural environment allowed the teaching to truly sink in to my subconscious. And speaking of ‘teachings’, I had no knowledge of yogic philosophy before my training. I only knew how it made me feel, and I just wanted to know more about why it made me feel so blissful. Learning about yogic philosophy is what hit home. Everything clicked, and I was not the same person when I returned to the states.

Receiving my ‘certificate’ was merely a bonus of this life-changing experience. Personal metamorphosis was the real gift that I now openly share with others to inspire them on their path. I truly believe every human on the planet would benefit deeply from gifting themselves a yoga teacher training. It is ultimately a life training… and opportunity to re-discover our true nature, below the surface of the mind, the routine, the comfort zone, and even the body itself.

And now everything comes full circle. It is my mission to give back, and that is why this spring I have the honor of co-teaching a professional 200-hour YTT in Bali with my guru from India and other divine souls who have come together to co-create this opportunity. I literally have had to pinch myself several times in order to really believe this is happening…

If you are feeling the call, curious, intrigued, move with that feeling. Go with that. The moment is always truth. The moment is always the path. Click here to learn more about the training. I look forward to passing along the teachings and living yoga with you. Namaste.

Sweaty Skin Got You Down?

I’d like to dedicate this blog to reviewing my latest skincare routine. The reason I believe this topic is important is because I literally sweat for a living and finding products that are not only all natural but also effective is sometimes (actually, quite often) a challenge… but not anymore!

I received the 123FRE set from FRE Skincare (www.freskincare.com) and have been pleasantly surprised at how balanced and hydrated my skin remains, even after hours of sweat. I feel nothing oily and nothing too dry either.

My routine involves the facial cleanser Purify Me, followed by a light later of the deep replenishing serum Revive Me and finally a generous coat of the defense facial moisturizer Protect Me. 

These products are intentionally designed for women who sweat, which obviously made me quite gleeful… and also skeptical. But I can say in all honesty that the products are the real deal. You don’t need to use a lot for a lot to happen. If you do purchase the products, try to make it a daily ritual so your skin can adjust and you will start noticing the benefits within a few days. I noticed within two days and gradually my skin felt not only smooth and refreshed but also glowing.

Also, I don’t wear make-up so this product feels like it protects my skin and offers that authentic glow so no make-up is even needed!

I highly recommend this product as an alternative to your current skincare regimen or at least as an experiment.

Oh, and last but definitely not let, the mission nd mindfulness behind this product is epic! For every 123FRE skincare set that is sold, one Argan Tree Of Life is planted in order to empower women who harvest Argan in Morocco. SO not only does my skin feel amazing but my mind heart and soul feel inspired to know I am serving others by using this product.

If you feel called to experiment with this wonderful product, you will get 25% off your first set by using my coupon code ‘SHAYNAH‘ at checkout.

Holy Shiitake: The Sacred-ness of Satiety

Eating food is something holy. Swiss cheese would understand. Sorry vegans. Bad joke.

Before I go into detail, it’s important to know I am not writing this with the hopes of you adopting some sort of new ritual around food. I don’t expect you to bow down to your collard greens before chewing 108 times prior to swallowing. There are enough extreme dogmas and dietary theories being practiced at the moment, and in my humble personal and professional opinion, these seemingly strict behaviors, although disguised as ‘health trends’ are further disconnecting us from the true healing power of food and ultimately our inherent self-healing capacity

Food has the power to heal and sustain us not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. I trust this is not news to many of us. My guru believes that meditation is not possible until our food is correct. And by ‘food being correct’, he is referring to our relationship with food. Having survived and cured myself of Orthorexia, I have first hand experience of the mental delusion involved in glorified eating plans and how my excessive mental impact on diet took me further away from anything ‘healthy’. I was highly mechanical. I deluded myself into deprivation disguised as discipline. I was disciplined to follow a ‘plan’, not my truth. Not my instinct. Not my gut.

If I am not following my educated intuition around food then how is it possible for me to be aligned with my ultimate purpose as a human being? Perhaps a large claim to make, but let’s play with it for a bit…

First off, it’s important to define the term educated intuition. When I suggest that eating should be an instinctual natural act, many of my clients exclaim that if they were following their intuition, they’d happily devour a bag of Oreos. Habit is not intuition. Cravings are not intuition. In fact, the more we mindlessly stuff our bodies with unhealthy toxic food the further we stray from our center… from the proper functioning of our gut, which is the home of our deepest knowing. Educated intuition is a feeling based on moment-to-moment awareness and sensation as opposed to thinking, emotions and memory.

What we choose to feed our bodies with has a direct effect on the entire course of our lives. This is very important to grasp and consider. The process is a subtle process. When I chose to adopt a vegan diet at the age of 22, I suffered from severe anxiety and confusion as I literally felt completely different than I used to… both physically and mentally. I had different interests than I used to… and different thoughts than when I was unconsciously eating fast food and unhealthy food growing up. I would rather stay at home and read an inspirational book than go out to the bar and drink. I felt isolated. The transition was not smooth but eventually I found my tribe and realized I was not the only one. I chose to surround myself with like-minded people and have literally grown into a new person. I feel like I have lived more than one life in this body.

As sexual energy creates us in the first place, physical food is what sustains this temporary body we live in. The quality and amount of food we eat governs not only our bodily functions but also dictates our thoughts, feelings and emotions. We are only a small portion physical, and even the solid matter of ourselves is energy vibrating at a high frequency. Thoughts feelings sensations and emotions are also formations of energy that are effected by the food we eat, among other factors.

To overlook this miracle is to overlook our own healing potential. The answer to health cannot be found in a book or a system. All systems are of the mind. And the more we depend on the mind to guide our nutrition, the more the mind will be in charge of our worldly pursuits, whether it’s scrolling a dating app searching for love or subscribing to a job we dislike because we think we should. I’m not suggesting that any of the aforementioned pursuits are inherently ‘wrong’ in nature. Instead, I am attempting to paint a picture of how much more is available to us when we gently consider our magnitude beyond the thinking mind and physical body. We as human beings are complex mysterious biocomputers that depend on a deeply integrated sense of self in order to thrive.

When I was suffering with my eating disorder, I never felt full. Even during and after a binge, I  was not satisfied. I was always starving and incessantly thinking and fantasizing about food. There was no pleasure, no relaxation. It was unnatural. I have come to learn that this fullness we seek is something beyond food. Beyond mind. And beyond body. Through mindful eating, each of us has the opportunity to re-discover ourselves and live from a place of self-knowledge and true nourishment.

Tips To Stay Sacred:

  1. Eat fruits and vegetables (big surprise, I know… but do you know WHY?)

They come from the earth and are some of the most natural foods we can take in. The more natural foods we eat, the more we align ourselves with nature and the greater chance to tap in to our subtle body. Vegetables that from up from the earth such as leafy greens have a flexible strong center (like a spine) and are growing towards the light. Eating these vegetables on the regular will enhance creativity and inspiration. Similarly, ingesting grounding root veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes and beets provide a feeling of stability and support.

2.  Breathe while eating

Put your fork down between bites and take a few breaths. It doesn’t have to be a big deal but instead a gentle inner acknowledgement that you are eating. Enjoy the flavors. Let it be a joyful meditation.  Notice your thoughts and feelings. Smile.

3.  Avoid eating in front of TV or computer

Try both. One day, eat your meal in front of the computer. The next day, eat the same meal with no distraction. Take note of the difference. Many people claim their digestion is better when they eat without external stimulation. Also, you will likely eat slower and have more of an opportunity to be present and grateful with your meal.

4.  Don’t eat too much

I’m not suggesting you start a three-hundred-day juice fast. I am simply pointing, once again, to the fact that we are a very small part physical and what feeds us comes in many forms. Too much food can cause blockages in our physical and energetic systems. If you think you’re hungry, try taking a walk in nature, getting a massage or being with someone you love. Love nourishes us. Think back to a time you were in love. Re-visit the scenario in your mind. When you were with your lover, did time not cease to exist? Were you concerned with your next meal? Or were you in the moment? Completely fulfilled…

Nutrition comes in many forms, and eating physical food is only one. The way we nourish ourselves is evident in our relationships, career and self-care practices. If you’re hungry for more, please join me on one of my upcoming soul getaways and feel free to contact me directly shayna@shaynahiller.com. I look forward to serving you…

Why You Should Love Yourself Less

First off, one thing you may not know about me is I have an abnormal obsession with creating captivating titles…

The aside, I mean it.

You may have heard the term ‘self-love’ being thrown around as if it’s the secret recipe for an epic life. Well, that and broccoli. I’m not necessarily referring to narcissistic self-absorption but rather an approach to wellness that stems from fullness instead of emptiness.

Sounds pretty harmless, right?

Well, let’s take a deeper look… It seems like self-love has the potential to be the antidote to self sabotaging behaviors or compromised sense of self. Though this portrays itself as an appealing remedy, things may get tricky…

Who is this ‘self’ we are attempting to love?

For example, if I am an emotional eater and it’s causing health issues I may go seek out a Health Coach or read up on what I can do to bring myself back to a balanced state. Often, the holistic approach involves various lifestyle shifts; one of them typically being self-love. But if all I have known is self-hatred or self-denial or self-sabotage, then how in the world do I leap from one to the other? Of course it is an inspiring concept, yet the reality of it isn’t so clear cut or easy to navigate. If there is a part of my current ‘self’ I desire to release, then how can I love my‘self’ if that other part of my‘self’ is still present? Make sense? What a conundrum! Einstein was on point when he remarked that we cannot fix problems with the same mindset that created them in the first place. This is true…

The issue lies in the probable fact that we are identifying with our minds and not our true authentic self, which one may call our ‘Soul’, or ‘Atman’ as it’s referred to in Hinduism. It doesn’t matter what you call it, and in fact words are not enough to express the enormous capacity of our multi-dimensional nature. It’s beyond logical comprehension and intellectual understanding. According to yogic philosophy, we have integrated a ‘small self’ which is the ego, social conditionings, belief systems, labels, etc. and a ‘higher Self’ which is our true nature… our inner wisdom, our true purpose, and our light.

An example: The small self is the clouds and the true Self is the sky. Clouds are impermanent… shifting and changing form constantly. Our bodies are impermanent, as are our thoughts. This is important to reflect upon if we desire sustainable uninterrupted wellbeing and lasting peace of mind. The more we identify self-love with our physical and emotional selves, the further we move from our inner light… our immortal self. The more we get swayed around back and forth… repeating unhealthy cycles… The goal is not to push the clouds away for they serve a purpose, yet if we fail to peek behind the clouds or at the very least consider that there is a vast sky then we may feel perpetually unfulfilled in our personal aspirations.

Too much of the wrong type of self-love can result in fooling ourselves into thinking we are loving ourselves but we are simply avoiding going deeper inside. We are attempting to love the very part of ourselves which is constantly changing.

So the real work of self-love lies in self-acceptance. Without acceptance of what is, nothing can shift. The more we attempt to radically shift our perspective of self when it doesn’t feel natural, the further we veer from positive personal transformation… the further we move outside and away from ourselves instead of deeper within. Acceptance of what is does not mean holding on to it or keeping it. It simply means acknowledgment and awareness. Less resistance. Nothing can move or shift when there is tension and grasping. A released attitude… a gentle accepting attitude creates more room for change.

The Downside of Living as if it Were Your Last Day

You may have heard it exclaimed before, ‘Live as if it were your last day…’ or ‘Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.’ At first, the phrase may seem inspiring. Imagine having one more day to make every moment count, to be completely present and celebrate being alive? Sounds good, and also sounds like a lot for one day.

I do believe that being more present and grateful paves the way for a richer, more fulfilling life on so many levels, yet the concept of living as if it were my last day has never sparked my interest. If I knew it were my last day, I probably wouldn’t feel the motivation to enhance my current situation. That’s just me. The phrase implies a general consensus that we take life for granted, and if we knew we only had one more day perhaps we would shift our mindset. Regret, guilt, and sadness are the byproducts of a life taken for granted.

Why wait until the end? Why operate under the mentality that only when things come towards a close can we actually open our eyes? Instead, I would prefer to live as if it were my very first day. Yes, now we’re talkin’! You may not remember, but you were once a little baby. With no mind… in a completely new world… curious, open, innocent, and free. You had no ideas of right and wrong or good and bad… no judgments, no anxieties, no worries (besides perhaps when your next meal will be), no regrets and guilt… just a blank canvas… full of potential.

The inevitable accumulation of society’s conditioning has the potential to fog up the clarity of our soul, which is just as pure as an infant. The more we understand our minds and use them as the handy tools they are, we may come in contact with our ability to tap into that authentic state of wonder, no matter what our life circumstance is. I am often reminded of the miracle and reality of this childlike state of awe when I travel to new places. My mind is opened up to a place I have never been, and my internal operating system refreshes itself completely. I feel fully aware and alive. Refreshed and rejuvenated. Inspired. 

No travel is needed though. When we choose to recognize the miracle of each day, the ‘brand new-ness’ of each moment, we in return gift ourselves a daily rebirth. When we believe in the notion of ‘same old’, or ‘just another day’, then that reality shall remain true as well. It is simply a choice of how we perceive our reality. Our lives can be severely limited or endlessly expansive based on our minds. Pay attention the the small things.. the details, the sound of the birds, a smile, and a hug. Every moment is sacred, and when we learn to live as if it were our first day, anything is possible.

Home is Where the Moment is…

I’ve been in Bali for 4 days, though it feels like much longer. Since I’ve been here, several people have asked me if I live here. It seems to be standard protocol for any new interaction with a fellow foreigner.

As I observed myself responding to this recurring inquiry, I couldn’t help but notice that, though I’m fully aware that the place I came from and the place I plan to return to is Los Angeles, I actually do live in Bali… right now. This subtle yet important mental shift has radically transformed how I interact with my surroundings. It allows me to be completely in the moment. Fulfilled. Relaxed. Comfortable. Exhaled.

When someone asks me if I live in Bali, I can easily respond and say ‘NO, I live in Los Angeles’, but technically I only live in Los Angeles in the past or in the future. Much of linguistic conversation happens to be past and future oriented. We either talk about something that has already happened or discuss our plans for the future. Of course! If we were to talk about the present, what could we possibly say? We would just sit there and stare at each other, which is awkward so let’s distract ourselves through memory and/or anticipation filtered through vocal vibration.

To live a meditative life not only includes practice on the cushion but practicing mindfulness in aspects of life as seemingly insignificant as verbal communication. This way, we will feel ‘cushioned’ wherever life’s journey takes us.

Currently I am here, and therefore currently I live here… for I am living, and I am here. Simple. 

Wherever we are in the moment is home, for life after this moment is not guaranteed.

The Reason You Don’t Need A Reason

I am sitting on an airplane on my way to Bali, Indonesia for the first time (in this lifetime at least). Altogether, I’ll be traveling for approximately 24 hours. I am traveling alone. The seat next to me is empty, which makes me unreasonably gleeful. I have some friends in Bali, but all in all, this is a solo trip. My beloved is home, and boy was it difficult to leave his loving arms. But I knew I had to. Or should I say, I know I have to. For now.

Many have been asking why I am going to Bali. Is it for work? Is it for pleasure? In my world, work and pleasure are one. And that’s not because I am ‘lucky’ or ‘blessed’. I believe we all have an opportunity to be fortunate, by not only tuning into our intuition but honoring it, even when it seems illogical. By making choices that elevate our personal condition. By recognizing the immense value of accepting full responsibility for the creation and direction of our lives. Like a work of art. No one else can paint your picture. True fortune is not dependent on the exterior material world… it is an inner accolade. An inner treasure.

Would it be okay to say I am going because I am going? I am going because I desire to go? If there’s one thing I know for sure, this trip is not logical. It does not make sense in terms of timing, finances, work, etc. But I am still going. Consciously. 

Have you ever felt a force greater than just your thinking mind at play? A gut churning sensation? In my opinion, the mind is basically a storehouse of memories of the past and anticipations for the future (which are somehow projections of past memories). But ‘now’ is never in the mind. Now is simply now, which eventually will become a memory and will be stored in the mind. It’s actually impossible to be in the ‘now’, because the moment you realize that ‘now’ has occurred, it has become the past. In fact, you will need to lose ‘you’ in order to be completely present.

Presence is so delicate, it’s quite challenging to talk about. It’s very simple and mysterious and almost invisible yet absolutely all there is. The ultimate paradox. Have you ever woken up and exclaimed, ‘Wow, it’s tomorrow!’ Of course not. It’s just today. Always. Yesterday and tomorrow only exist in the mind.

I bow to my meditation practice which has put me in touch with a force deeper than my mind. I am aware that this journey to Bali stems from deep intuition, and I was justified as tears streamed down my face the moment the airplane left the runway! Tears of some emotion I have never felt before. I was also listening to one of my favorite songs, Om Purnam, by Deva Premal. Perhaps that had something to do with it. 😉

I spent the majority of my late teens and early twenties traveling different parts the world. Many of them were as far away from home as possible, yet familiar to my soul. It’s been nearly ten years since I took a trip by myself. For myself. Without any expectations. Without a plan, yet structured. Am I scared? You bet! That’s why I am going. I have learned that intuition and universal guidance are sometimes disguised as fear.

I credit my travels for shaping me into the person I am today. Not what my upbringing expected of me, not who my friends think I am, not who society sees me as, but who I actually am. Similar to discussing presence, trying to dissect and explain the ‘self’ is nearly impossible as it is a discovery you will have on your own… if you want it. If you don’t want it, you will not have it. And that is fine too. I am simply explaining what is possible in this human experience… or in mine, at least.

As a health professional, I firmly believe self-discovery is a crucial and somewhat underrated foundation of health. Understanding our authentic self allows our lives to move in the most fulfilling direction. It increases meaning and allows purpose to rise to the surface. In order to be able to serve from the fullness of our ‘personal love tank’, we must take care of and prioritize ourselves, not only physically and mentally. In fact, what blows your mind? Go there. What inspires you to the extent that you sense a vaguely familiar lightness stream throughout your entire body? What takes you out of your comfort zone? What makes your heart dance? You don’t necessarily need to get on an airplane to experience these life-altering and third eye-opening experiences. And you most definitely do not need a reason.

So that’s the big picture. And on a more grounded note, I do have some practical desires for this trip. One is to sharpen my meditation practice, restore myself in nature, absorb the spirituality of the sacred land, write an infinite number of poems that flow to me by the grace of the universe, and practice yoga with monkeys.

I look forward to sharing my journey with you. Namaste.

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{RECIPE} ‘UN-Chicken’ Vegetable Curry

I have been dying to learn how to make a good curry dish, but I stayed away because I thought it would be super challenging and time consuming. Plus, despite my knack for nutrition, I do not consider myself ‘chef quality’ by any means. And I’m okay with that. Give me some quinoa and an avocado and I’m a happy camper. So the fact that this recipe was a success says a lot.

I adapted this recipe from another similar recipe which calls for chicken and does not include any vegetables. I do not eat chicken but still wanted to crete a similar consistency and texture so instead I got creative with different types of mushrooms, mainly shiitake. The dish is outstanding, super simple to prepare, grounding and so incredibly healthy. It literally contains over ten of the healthiest foods on the planet which include a variety of immune boosting anti inflammatory spices.

Whoever thinks Indian food is unhealthy, think again!

Here’s to your new fave meal!

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • A small pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 large onion, sliced root to tip
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 14-oz can organic coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice, or to taste
  • 12-20 fresh basil leaves, torn roughly
  • 4 large shiitake mushrooms
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 4 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa mixed with basmati rice

DIRECTIONS

1 Mix the spices: In a small bowl, mix together the sea salt, ground coriander, cumin, ground cloves, cinnamon, ground cardamom, black pepper, cayenne and turmeric. You can alternatively use a ‘curry’ powder to make it easier, but I prefer portioning them out separately for the best flavor. Set aside.

2 Sauté onions, ginger, garlic, mushrooms, spices: In a wok or deep sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat. The moment the oil begins to smoke, add the onions and toss to coat in oil. Sear the vegetables for 3 minutes, stirring only enough to keep them from burning, but still allowing the onions to sear. Add the mushrooms, ginger, garlic and spice mixture and toss to combine, cook for 1 minute.

3 Add coconut milk, broccoli, simmer:  Add the coconut milk and broccoli. Stir the mixture so that the broccoli is coated in the coconut milk. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes or until broccoli is steamed. 

4 Add basil, spinach and lime juice: When veggies are tender, turn off the heat and add the spinach basil and lime juice. The spinach will steam quickly. Add more lime juice and salt to taste and serve over pre-cooked basmati rice/quinoa mixture.