Sunday, January 29, 2012

A prelude, all the places you'll go...

As a little prelude to my forthcoming post about the places you fear to go, I present you with this awesome video of my favorite Dr. Seuss story of all time which was shot at Burning Man last year.  It's surprisingly relevant to the whole discussion to come on fear and trust, not to mention, I find it magical and inspiring.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Apple cinnamon hemp seed butter...

I did a little experiment the other day and came up with a super easy and delicious sweeter version of the savory pâtés.  One of my favorite things is almond butter with apple slices, and I wanted to see about making a hemp seed butter I can eat with fruit to satisfy my taste for slightly sweeter things.  This is a terrific variation for breakfasts or afternoon snacks that is lighter and easier to digest than almond butter, higher in protein, and maybe even tastier.  It goes great with the cinnamon ginger flax crackers I made a few days ago.  It is also great with my personal favorite, honeycrisp apple slices, for a nutritious, delicious, and optimal macronutrient balanced pre- or post-workout fuel.  It'd even be great for dessert with some fresh mixed berries.   

The measurements below make a good sized batch and could easily be cut in half if you want to make a smaller amount.  It has instantly become my new favorite go-to snack, so I made a big batch to have around for quick & easy yumminess. 

Apple cinnamon hemp seed butter
3 cups hemp seeds
1 apple (I used a medium sized organic honeycrisp)
2 T flax seed oil 
2 T lemon juice
1 T cinnamon
~1/2 T vanilla extract
a pinch of sea salt
1 dropper full liquid stevia* (I used vanilla creme flavor)

In a food processor with s-blade, process apple until roughly chopped.  Add everything else except hemp seeds and pulse a few times.  Add the hemp seeds and process until smooth.  It should be a thick, creamy consistency.  Refrigerate up to a week in the frig.  Serve with apple slices, or smeared on cinnamon ginger flax crackers with fresh blueberries and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

*You could also use agave or medjool dates to sweeten, or skip the sweetener altogether.  You may notice that I use dates and agave very sparingly, usually saving them for where they count - in desserts, or as instant simple carb fuel right before a workout or during a long run or hike when I need easily converted energy.  I also tend to stay away from the higher glycemic fruits and veggies like bananas, mangoes, beets, potatoes, etc.  I much prefer berries, apples, grapefruits, and a whole rainbow of yummy veggies that provide a sustainable, consistent level of energy.  I recommend reading Dr. Gabriel Cousens' research on how the body processes the natural sugars in food and the imbalances and dis-ease excess sugar can create over the long term.  (See his books Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine and Conscious Eating).  Very enlightening.

Bon appétit, mon ami!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hemp seed nori rolls...

Another fun and yummy way to use nut-seed pâtés is to make nori rolls.  Nori rolls are a great snack, appetizer, or a meal on their own when accompanied by a mixed green salad.  Sea vegetables are incredibly rich sources of vitamins and minerals.  Nori is particularly rich in iodine, magnesium, calcium, sodium, iron, folic acid, zinc, copper and selenium.

Nut-seed nori roll
1 nori sheet
1/3 cup nut-seed pâté (today I'm using sundried tomato basil hemp seed pâté)
1/3 cucumber sliced in long thin spears
2 handfuls of spinach 
any other veggies you like: avocado, carrots, sprouts, red pepper, etc.

Lay the nori sheet on a bamboo sushi roller or flat surface.  Spread the hemp seed pâté on one third of the nori sheet.  Cover with a layer of spinach.  Place cucumber slices and any other veggies you're using down the center.  Roll as tightly as you can, wetting the end of the nori sheet so that it sticks to itself.  Use a very sharp, damp knife to slice in 1/2 inch thick pieces.  To complete the meal, serve with a simple mixed green and cherry tomato salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar and topped with freshly cracked pepper.

Bon appétit, mon ami! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mediterranean hemp seed pâté salad...

Today I took the sundried tomato basil hemp seed pâté I made yesterday and made an incredibly delicious salad.  I like to make massaged kale salads because they keep well in the frig for a day or two.  Kale is also incredibly nutritionally dense and filling.  Mixed greens are yummy and quick, but if you're going to have leftovers for a quick grab n go meal the following day, it's best to go with kale.  When I make salads, I like the full spectrum of the rainbow to be represented in my veggie selection.  By eating a rainbow of colors, you insure you are getting the full spectrum of phytonutrients.
To understand more about the subtle nutritional and energetic aspects of food, check out Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine by Dr. Gabriel Cousens.

Mediterranean hemp seed pâté salad
2 bunches of purple kale
1 roasted red pepper
1/2 cup sweet yellow cherry tomatoes
1/3 cucumber
1/4 cup sweet onion
1/2 avocado
7 chopped kalamata olives
2 T bee pollen to garnish on top
1 t sea salt

1/2 cup sundried tomato basil hemp seed pâté

Wash and strip the kale from its thick center stem.  Tear it into smaller pieces and put in a large bowl.  Sprinkle kale with one teaspoon of sea salt and massage thoroughly.  The salt breaks down the cell walls of the kale and pulls the water out, giving it a marinated texture.  As you massage, you will feel the kale start to wilt.  It takes a minute to for the kale to soften.  Be sure to think joyful thoughts as you prepare your food so that you can assimilate the good vibes along with all the high quality nutrients.

Chop, slice, dice your veggies according to preference, keeping in mind how the flavors and textures will balance.  I like to chop the olives pretty finely so that the salty high notes are not too loud in the overall salad.  I like the onion in very thin slices so the flavor is not too sharp; same goes for the cucumber.  I like slightly bigger chunks of the delicious roasted red peppers and big juicy halves of the cherry tomatoes.  (Obviously roasted peppers are not raw, but I love them roasted.  Use raw peppers if you wish).  I love long prominent avocado slices on top that I can sink my fork into.

Lightly toss the veggies into the kale.  (I hold the avocado and bee pollen until the end to spread over the top).  Toss in the pâté so that it is thoroughly mixed in the salad.  Serve, topping with avocado and sprinkle with bee pollen.  Finish with freshly cracked pepper and flax crackers on the side.  Tastes best when enjoyed with good company.

Bon appétit, mon ami! 

Nut-seed pâtés...

I pretty much always have a couple of pâtés on hand, as they are super easy, tasty and very versatile both as a snack or part of many main dishes.  You can make them in a variety of flavors with a variety of fresh ingredients, and they keep well in the frig up to a week.  I usually have an almond pâté and/or a hemp seed pâté in the frig at all times.

Pâtés go great with flax crackers or used as dip with veggie slices.  One of my favorite things to do is use them in salads.  I'll toss mixed greens or massaged kale with a variety of veggies and a nut-seed pâté for a very filling, nutritionally balanced and delicious meal on its own.  Pâtés can also be used as the filling for chile rellenos or enchiladas or stuffed in mushrooms or used in nori wraps or sandwiches.

You can easily satisfy cravings with pâtés by changing the veggies and spices you use.  Depending on my mood, I'll make a spicy southwestern chile pâté, a thai curry pâté, a mediterranean inspired pâté, a ginger miso pâté when I'm craving asian flavors, etc.  Get creative.  Start by using ingredients in combinations you know you love and then be adventurous and venture out to try new ones too.  It's tough to mess up pâtés, you can always add more of something to balance out the flavor if you go overboard.  The trick is to add slowly and taste as you go, adjusting accordingly.  Remember that flavors continue to mingle after a day or two in the frig, and that's often when your pâté tastes its best.  Remember too, raw foods vary in their flavor and consistency.  So sometimes your chipotle or sundried tomato or fresh herbs and veggies will be more spicy or flavorful than other times.  Allow for these variations, and welcome them as part of the joy and adventure of raw cooking.  Also seek out veggies grown locally and in season to maximize the flavor and nutrition of your food.   
I tend to use hemp seeds and almonds the most for pâtés.  I also regularly rotate pumpkin seed, sesame seed, and sunflower seed pâtés too.  I very occasionally make a macadamia nut or walnut pâté.  In general, I think seeds have a lighter, more energetic quality to them and pack a little more nutritional bang for the buck.  Aside from almonds which I use in heavy rotation, I tend to use seeds more for daily eating and nuts more for desserts because they provide a texture, consistency, and richness you can't really achieve with seeds.  For pâtés, feel free to mix and match nuts and seeds in a single recipe (almonds and pumpkin or sunflower seeds go really well together) or substitute your favorite nut or seed instead of the ones I use.

Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet and one of the best plant based sources of protein.  Hemp seeds contain all essential amino acids and essential fatty acids necessary for healthy life.  The protein in hemp is complete, balanced and easily digestible.  Only spirulina and other forms of blue-green algae like marine phytoplankton exceed hemp's protein content, quality, and digestibility.  The nutritional content in hemp supports healthy brain and liver function, rapid recovery and regeneration from stress/trauma/exercise, building muscle and strong bones, and balancing blood sugar.  Hemp is a rich source of phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, lithium, iodine, and other essential minerals.

Almonds are arguably the most nutrient nut on the planet.  They are definitely my favorite.  They are nutrient and mineral dense, particularly rich in vitamin E, zinc, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.  They are also high in protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids.  They are incredibly versatile and suitable for all kinds of savory and sweet raw food recipes.  Always soak almonds for at least 6-8 hours, preferably 12 hours in order to release the enzyme inhibitors.  Rinse and recover almonds with filtered water at least twice during the soak time.  Never use the soak water in your food prep, and always do a final rinse before eating.  For all pâté recipes, you can simply use the wet almonds immediately after soaking and final rinsing, no need dehydrate.           

Sundried tomato basil hemp seed pâté
3 cups hemp seeds
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked
1/3 cup packed fresh basil
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
2 T lemon juice
2 T Vega EFA oil*
~1/4 cup + 2 T sundried tomato soak water

Lemon dill almond pâté
2 cups soaked almonds
1/3 cup packed fresh dill
1/4 cup + 1 T lemon juice
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 T Vega EFA oil
water as needed

*Vega EFA oil is a high quality oil with omega-3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. 
You can substitute an equal measurement of olive oil in these recipes.

For the hemp pâté, put 2 cups of hemp seeds plus all other ingredients in a Blendtec or Vitamix blender or cuisinart.  Blend until smooth.  Stir in a cup of hemp seeds and a little sea salt.  Keeps five days in the frig.

For the almond pâté, put all ingredients in a blender or cuisinart.  Blend until desired consistency.  I like mine a little textured, so I stop blending before it is entirely smooth.  You may need to add a little water to achieve desired consistency.   Keeps five days in the frig. 

Enjoy as a spread on flax crackers, as a dip with veggie slices, stuffed in mushrooms or peppers, or on salads, sandwiches, and nori wraps.  Check back for a series of posts this week that include recipes and ideas on how to use pâtés to build quick, easy, nutritionally balanced, and satisfying meals. 
Bon appétit!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Savory & sweet raw flax crackers...

Two super easy and delicious things I keep stocked in the kitchen at all times are raw flax crackers and at least one batch of a nut-seed pâté.  Flax crackers make a great snack to take on the go, and when I go on the road, I always take a bunch with me.  They are a great, crunchy, savory (or even sweet) snack all on their own, or to be spread with pâté, hummus, local raw cheese, salsa, or guacamole.  The possibilities are pretty much endless.  Today I'm making a few batches of flax crackers, and tomorrow I'll post recipes for a couple of my favorite pâtés.

All my flax crackers follow the same basic recipe.  The variations are endless, and again, use your imagination and sense of adventure to experiment with different flavors.  I like to make a few of batches at a time, each with different spice blends.  Today I am making a batch of rosemary sage crackers, a batch of sundried tomato basil, and a sweet cinnamon ginger batch.  You can easily double or quadruple these recipes.  For a general frame of reference, one cup of flax plus one cup of water will cover one Excalibur dehydrator tray with the appropriate thickness.  So if you want 3 trays full of crackers, use 3 cups of flax with equal parts water.  When dehydrated completely, flax crackers keep for a couple of weeks or longer at room temp in an air tight container. 

Flax seeds are the richest plant source of omega-3 essential fatty acids which are essential for healthy heart and brain function.  Flax is rich in fiber and also contains between 75-800 times more lignans (plant estrogen-like chemicals that act as antioxidants) than other plant based sources.  Flax is also said to help prevent breast and prostate cancers.  It also helps lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar.

1 cup whole golden flax seeds
1 cup filtered water
~2 T spices of your choosing 
sea salt to taste

1 cup flax seeds
1 cup filtered water
1 T rubbed sage
1 T fresh rosemary, finely chopped
sea salt to taste

1 cup flax crackers
1 cup filtered water
1 T dried or fresh basil
1 T ground sundried tomatoes
sea salt to taste

1 cup flax seeds
1 cup filtered water
1 T ground cinnamon
1 T ground ginger
2 droppers full liquid stevia, vanilla flavor

Combine all ingredients except salt in a bowl and stir.  Allow to sit until gelatinized, about an hour or so, stirring occasionally to keep the spices evenly distributed.  Do not rinse.  Spread directly onto teflex covered dehydrator tray, so that the flax seed mixture is about 1/8" thick.  It's best to put the mixture on one end of the tray and spread across in a consistent, uniform direction with a firm spatula, otherwise you don't get an even spread.  Once spread evenly, score to desired sized pieces.  Sprinkle with salt, to taste.  Place in dehydrator at 105 degrees until firm enough to flip, about 4 hours.  You'll know they're ready to flip when they start to curl a little bit, and when you can peel the teflex off without them sticking too much.  Flip flax crackers over onto the mesh of the dehydrator tray.  Continue dehydrating until completely dry, about 6 hours or overnight.  Store in air tight container or zip lock bag at room temp for two weeks.  Bon appétit!

Flax crackers are one of Skipper's favorite treats!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Raw vegan superfood chocolate...

Maca spirulina chocolate.
One of my almost-daily staples is raw vegan superfood chocolate.  That's right.  Chocolate!  Yum.  I make raw cacao treats with what I think of as the holy trinity of superfoods.  Cacao, maca, and spirulina.  There are other notable superfoods like hemp seeds, bee pollen, chia, goji berries, etc.  Today, though, I'm focusing on the holy trinity (plus a shout out to coconut oil).  At the bottom of this post you'll find an unbelievably easy and delicious recipe that I eat almost daily so you can try all this nutrient rich chocolatey goodness for yourself! 

Raw cacao is a superfood full of nutrients and minerals.  It is very rich in magnesium, which is often why women crave chocolate during their monthly cycle, because that is a time we are most likely to be deficient in magnesium.  Actually, some sources report that over 80% of the American population is chronically deficient in magnesium!  And, surprise!, raw cacao is the highest natural source of it.  Magnesium balances brain chemistry, supports strong bones, stabilizes mood, and supports healthy heart function.  Raw cacao is also rich in iron, antioxidants, and trace minerals.  It contains the 'bliss chemical' anandmide which is a neurotransmitter the brain releases naturally when you feel good.  It also has phenylethylamine (PEA) which is an adrenal-related chemical that is released in the brain when we are in love.  PEA also increases focus, alertness, and enhances feelings of wellbeing.

Maca is a root grown in the Peruvian Andes and is the highest cultivated food in the world!  I don't know why that interesting little fact brings me so much joy every time I eat maca.  Maca is nutrient rich, containing high levels of minerals like selenium, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, potassium, and silica.  It is also a great source of vitamin A, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E.  It contains 18 amino acids, essential fatty acids, and sterols.  It is high in protein and fiber.  Most importantly, maca helps rapid recovery from stress and exercise.  It is an endocrine adaptogen, meaning it corrects imbalances in the hormones essential for normal body functions.  For example, for some people, it may help them have normal sleep, while for others it may help them be more alert and energized.  It provides the nutrients necessary for your body to achieve normal balanced function.  If you experience a lot of stress in your life, or if you maintain a consistent and rigorous exercise program, I highly recommend adding maca to your daily diet.  If you've never tasted maca, you'll be happy to know that it has a delicious malty, butterscotch flavor that is great in chocolate treats, smoothies, yogurt, and sweet & savory dishes alike.

Spirulina is a protein rich (over 60% protein!!!) fresh water blue-green algae.  Pound for pound, it is the highest occurrence of protein on the planet.  There are only 3.9 calories for every gram of protein in spirulina, compared to 65 calories for every gram of protein in beef!  Spirulina contains all the essential amino acids in proper ratios and ten of the twelve non-essential amino acids.  Because of the simple cellular structure of algae, it is very easy for the body to digest and assimilate.  Spirulina contains high levels of essential and trace minerals, including potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, selenium, iron, and phosphorus.  The vitamin content is particularly beneficial to the body's metabolic processes and include biotin, B2, B6, B12, pantothenic acid, folic acid, inositol, niacin, and vitamin E. 

And now a big shout out to coconut oil, as it is the binding ingredient in the recipe to follow.  Coconut oil is composed of about 50% lauric acid, which is one of the 'good fats'.  Lauric acid is a rare medium-chain triglyceride found in mother's milk which is easily metabolized by the body and converted instantly to energy.  Coconut oil contains many health protecting properties and is anti-viral, anti-fungal, reduces inflammation, supports tissue healing and repair, supports healthy thyroid function, increases the metabolism, lowers risk of heart disease, promotes healthy hair and complexion, and the list goes on and on...

As promised, this is my basic raw chocolate recipe.  I often add other superfoods like hemp seeds, goji berries, inca berries, or bee pollen to the mix it up, and sometimes shredded coconut, almonds, or macadamia nuts, or even almond or hemp seed butter for a creamier consistency.  The possibilities are endless.  Feel free to experiment and see what is most delicious to you!
The ingredients.

1 heaping T of raw powdered cacao
1 heaping T of raw cacao nibs*
1 level T of maca powder
1 level t of spirulina
~11 drops of liquid stevia
~ 2 T of coconut oil
a healthy pinch of high quality sea salt

*I think texture is as important in food as flavor and nutrition, so I like crunchy little nibs in my chocolate.  You can always substitute an equal amount of powder instead if you prefer your chocolate silky smooth.

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl until well incorporated.  Add coconut oil.  Mashing it with a fork works well.  The coconut oil will soften as you mix it in.  You may need to add a little bit more until you reach the proper consistency.  It should be a creamy paste and able to be stirred around in the bowl without leaving much on the sides.  Spread flat, about 1/8" thick on a sheet of wax paper, or form into flat bite sized rounds.  Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon if it pleases you (it sure pleases me).  Put it in the fridge until solidified, about 20 minutes.  (Store in fridge as the coconut oil will melt at room temp).  Enjoy!
Before you add the coconut oil.
Mashing in the coconut oil.

For further reading about cacao and other superfoods, I highly recommend David Wolfe's books Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future and Naked Chocolate: The Astonishing Truth About the World's Greatest Food.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Life, happiness, and the pursuit of liberty...

One of the interesting paradoxes of ashtanga practice is that the more regimented and disciplined I am, the freer I become.  Somehow, keeping a strict schedule around the times I eat, practice, sleep, etc, frees up a lot of energy.  Maybe it's the virgo in me, or maybe it's a promise, a gift of making the commitment.  As the legend goes, many great philosophers, artists, scientists, inventors, athletes, etc. throughout history kept very regimented schedules and thereby eliminated as many mundane choices as possible for themselves in order to free up their energy to focus on the more substantial work at hand.  Having spent many years of my life sleeping and eating at irregular times, exercising irregularly, working at odd times, I can look back and see how enslaved I was by this 'freedom' to do what I wanted whenever I wanted.  Now that I'm disciplined and consistent in how I conduct and apply my focus throughout the day and where I spend my energy and mindspace, I feel legitimately at ease and joyful and approaching something resembling freedom.  I think part of this freedom is the result of making an internal shift in my intention for the practice from being a physical exercise to a devotional one.  I also think this freedom is in the quality of experience itself, allowing for much greater depth and opening a whole wide range of possibilities within the consistency of the framework I have created for my life. 

There is a saying, "Chance favors the prepared mind."  It is through consistently applied effort that we become open to chance, or grace, or any of the infinite possibilities to touch the awesomeness of the world.  And this reminds me of the Tibetan Buddhist and Bön view of Dzogchen, where a person is capable of achieving spontaneous realization, or enlightenment.  Some may make a cursory interpretation of that and reply that they'll just keep living any way they damn well please because if enlightenment comes spontaneously, what's the point of putting forth effort.  But dig a little deeper into the Dzogchen literature, and there's a huge emphasis on ripening ourselves through consistent practice, so that spontaneous realization is even possible.  This ripening and spontaneity are both deeply rooted and grow from our consistently applied effort.

The concept of ripening really resonates with me and is something I've thought a lot about in terms of my artistic/creative process and in terms of my experiences in life in general.  John Dewey's philosophical work on aesthetic experience is particularly relevant in this context (every context, really).  While Dewey talks in terms of art, he is really painting a picture of the possibilities for human beings in every area of our lives.  He argues that art is not some thing separate from us, that we put in special places like museums or galleries, but that it can be found in every moment of our lives, in the sunset and rainstorm and even in the act of cleaning our house.  For Dewey, we are capable of engaging our world in such a way as to cultivate very rich, some would say even mystical or transcendent, experiences.  There is a continual doing and undergoing which characterizes our interaction with our environment.  The more consciously we engage that process, the more those moments build up to a consummatory moment, or an experience.  According to Dewey, an exerperience is the sign, the result, and the reward of our active and alert commerce with the world.  He goes on to explain that what artists do when they make a work of art is express this consummatory moment onto canvas or page or whatever the medium.  He uses the term express as in squeezing forth the juice of a grape in order to make wine.  Think about that in terms of our experiences.  We gather up experiences over time in a continual process of doing and undergoing until those moments reach a crescendo and are expressed - squeezed forth - by us into some new form.  There is very much an emphasis on conscious cultivation of our way of being in the world so as to ripen ourselves and our experiences.  The process of ripening naturally entails a distillation of our experiences down to the most relevant and essential parts.  While art is a convenient and clear way to talk about this process, Dewey's view, I think, is ultimately a deeply spiritual task and one that, when applied consistently, can free us from many of the burdens and sorrows of the human condition.

So what do Dzogchen and Dewey have to do with keeping a disciplined, consistent schedule?  Consistency in our daily routines allows all those ten thousand little mundane things to fall away into the background static.  We don't have to concern ourselves with making those choices anew every single day, freeing an immense amount of energy and mindspace to focus on more substantial endeavors.  This sort of cconsistency paradoxically allows for greater spontaneity, because we become more tuned into the ever-increasing subtleties and nuance of our experiences where infinitely greater possibilities present themselves.  We see this benefit in the ashtanga practice itself because as we do the same sequence of asanas every day over a period of time, we become very tuned into the subtle shifts from day to day.  As our awareness of increasing levels of nuance is heightened, our experiences become even richer and more substantial, distilled down to the most essential parts.  The continuity of our sustained efforts, over time, nurtures the sort of ripening of experience that is central to both Dzogchen and Dewey.  Every moment becomes replete with a fullness that alternately emerges and falls away, like the breath's inhale and exhale.  Our engagement with this process is able to be sustained indefinitely over time, allowing the consummation of our efforts to bear even greater fruit and varied forms of expression.  And these experiences have a quality of freedom which was previously inaccessible to us.  Like experience itself is the sign, the result, and the reward for our active engagement with the world, this freedom is the promise and the gift of our commitment.

Sunset over the canyonlands near Moab. photo by Laura Lea Nalle
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, 
the chance to draw back-- 
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), 
there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which 
kills countless ideas and splendid plans: 
that the moment one definitely commits oneself, 
then Providence moves too. 
All sorts of things occur to help one 
that would never otherwise have occurred. 
A whole stream of events issues from the decision, 
raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents 
and meetings and material assistance, 
which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. 
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. 
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Blessings for the new year...

"Amidst a lifetime of learning, labors, loves, and sorrows - the small victories and harsh losses, momentary pleasures and indelible pains - echo the very birth cries of human consciousness:  "Who am I?  From where have I come, where am I going?  Why this suffering, this darkness, this confusion?  What is to be done, to be left undone:  what is to be said, and what left unuttered?  By what bond am I bound?  Is it all by cause... or without a cause?"

And with faith or doubt, hope or horror, the cycle draws each man and woman toward the finality of death, the waiting mystery.

The quest for happiness, for tranquillity transits through these fundamental conditions and questions.  All of the world's great religions and philosophies provide solace for the jouneyer.  It is the gift of Yoga to create that union of body, mind, and spirit capable of truly understanding and existing within the serentity offered by eternal truths.  Whether it leads to liberation from a karmic cycle of life and death may be a matter of belief.  Unquestioned is the possibility of obtaining freedom from the confusion and sorrows of the life we may be certain is at our disposal."

~From Health, Healing, and Beyond:  Yoga and the Living Tradtion of T. Krishnamacharya by T.K.V. Desikachar

Two ravens over the canyonlands near Moab. photo by Laura Lea Nalle