Vikalpa

Recently, for the first time at a guided meditation I was asked to identify a Vikalpa.  I didn’t know what a Vikalpa was and was so glad to find out. At Yoga Nidra sessions participants are asked to identify a Sankalpa, something they want to manifest in their lives stated in the present tense.

You know what, for me anyway, identifying a Sankalpa is hard; I want, I embody, I am, I wish.  The challenge is not taking something that isn’t and stating it as though it is, the challenge is coming up with that thing in the first place. Weirdly it can be like choosing a nail polish color.  You agonize over the decision when really you’re going to wear it for a week and then choose another one. It’s just not that big a deal. That’s no way to manifest life changes.

Enter the Vikalpa.  One definition of Vikalpa associates it with division, disbursement, doubt or confusion.  Holding on to these things is not a productive way to go through life and yet most of us do, dwelling and holding on to what isn’t working out of fear or because it’s comfortable.  Confession, I know I am guilty of this. Conflict, self doubt, too many options all contribute to this sense of floating through life.

So, the next time you’re asked to identify a Sankalpa, identify instead your Vikalpa, the voice in your head that says, “I’m not,” “I’m not going to,” “I wish,” I can’t.”  See what resonates strongly and allow the opposite to become your Sankalpa.

Taking this path has allowed me to explore some insecurities and move forward slowly in realizing some goals.

It isn’t a magic notion but one that may make your Sankalpa last longer than your nail polish color.

Happy New Year!!

I’m never sure what to make of the new year.  New Year’s Eve, December 31 is a memorable date being the day before January 1.  As the day progresses towards it’s culmination at 12:00 AM people plan and endure innumerable hardships in an effort to make the moment memorable.  In the end, it’s just another moment in a string of moments. January 1 brings gatherings of friends and families as the new year gets underway. I prefer this sharing of the passing of time in a carefree and caring manner and still, it’s just another date.  I say all this while still holding on to the fact that I had my first date with my partner 20 years ago on NYE. That really was memorable and as a result I will not forget our anniversary.

Why do we let the calendar govern our behavior so?  You can set goals, make resolutions, soul search on any day but the auspiciousness of 1/1 overshadows them all.  I think it’s important to remember that just because a goal wasn’t set on New Year’s Day it doesn’t become any less or more important.  I believe in having permission to reset your clock at any time. If your goals get derailed, take stock, sit, think, prioritize and begin where you left off.

And then there’s life, that stuff that fuels and drains us.  Working to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads.  I always say that if I did every day the things one says you should do every day (play the guitar, practice vocal scales, stand on my head, eat three square, practice asana, meditate and practice pranayama, eat my veggies, etc.) I wouldn’t have time for anything else.  

I write this now as though I’m some kind of expert.  I’m not. In fact I’ve abandoned more goals than I’ve accomplished.  This does not make me unique. It probably makes me average

I guess the moral of the story is “don’t beat yourself up.”  Your Sankalpa isn’t going anywhere and chances are you’re pretty terrific just the way you are. The work, the adjustments made over time will serve to make you more so. Sure, I have goals and those goals aren’t made, kept, met or shifted according to the calendar.  They are reviewed and analyzed regularly. There is freedom in this.

Embrace that.  

Yummy, Crispy, Gluten Free, Easy as Fuck Crackers

Yummy Seed Crisps

For the graduation ceremony of the 200 Hr. YTT that I was privileged to mentor this past winter I made some crackers that were a hit.  I promised the attendees that I would give them the recipe so here it is.

It is so simple and nutritious and happens to be gluten free if that’s your jam.  It’s not mine but, whatever.

Feel free to riff on this basic formula with different seasonings and seeds.  I haven’t tried chia seeds yet but think they would be successful as is the flax meal.

1/2 cup flax meal

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1/2 cup flax seeds

2 tbs. raw sunflower seeds 

2 tbs. raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1 cup water

1.5 tbs Bragg liquid aminos or tamari sauce

1 tsp. garlic powder

Additional spices might include garam masala, bebere, cumin, cayenne. Feel free to experiment.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and stir.  Let it all sit in the bowl for 30 minutes.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Spoon the mix onto the parchment ant use an offset spatula to spread it evenly.  If you don’t have an offset spatula a knife or regular spatula might due.

Use a pizza cutter to score the batter in squares or whatever shape you like.  If you forget to score it, as I have on occasion, it’s no big deal. You can just break them up when they’re done.

Bake them for 45-60 minutes or until they seem sufficiently crispy.  They should be uniformly brown.  Under baking them will render a kind of chewy texture that is not so appealing.  You can tap around them to see if there are any soft spots.

When they’re done remove them from the oven and allow to cool before breaking and consuming.  While they cool they crackle like Rice Crispies.

Follow this link to the hummus recipe I served.  I add 2 tsp. of ground cumin to the mix.  It is so good when served warm, sprinkled with smoked paprika and drizzled with olive oil.

https://food52.com/recipes/22888-yotam-ottolenghi-sami-tamimi-s-basic-hummus