Archive for September, 2014

Date-Nut-Ginger Laddoos

Written by Heal Your Heart on . Posted in Heart Healing Recipes

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Date-nut-ginger laddoo
Serves 5
This is a super healthy dessert and sattvic for special occasions, especially if prepared lovingly.. This was prepared in a jiffy for Krishna Janmasthami.
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Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1.5 cups pitted dates
  2. 1 cup mixed nuts (I used almonds and cashews)
  3. 3-4 slices candied ginger (I used an organic brand)
  4. 0.5 cup coconut powder
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, add the dates, nuts and ginger and pulse until fine.
  2. Add a few drops of oil if desired.
  3. Take a handful of the mixture and roll by hand into tightly packed balls.
  4. Roll the balls in coconut powder.
  5. Viola!
Notes
  1. Candied ginger and coconut powder are not necessary although they add unique flavors.
Heal Your Heart Free Your Soul http://healyourheartfreeyoursoul.com/

The Delectable Monk Salad

Written by Heal Your Heart on . Posted in Heart Healing Recipes

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The delectable monk salad
Serves 4
Mung beans are my favorite to sprout - they are easy to sprout and burst with flavor "as is" or sautéed gently with spices. While I normally combine kale with quinoa for a filling meal, this salad substituting sprouts for quinoa is absolutely yummy!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup washed kale, torn into bite-sized shreds
  2. 1 cup freshly sprouted mung sprouts
  3. 1 tbsp peanuts (or almonds)
  4. Handful of cranberries/raisins or prunes
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Juice of half lemon
Instructions
  1. Heat a tsp of EVOO, and sauté peanuts.
  2. Add half tsp each of fennel and ajwain seeds.
  3. Pour over kale-sprout mixture.
  4. Add salt and lemon juice.
  5. Toss well, making sure the kale is coated with the warm dressing.
  6. Fold in the craisins.
  7. Let mixture sit for 30 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. A meal to be had in silence and solitude.
  2. Gratitude for life's bounty is sure to arise.
Heal Your Heart Free Your Soul http://healyourheartfreeyoursoul.com/

Multigrain Mung Khichadi with Greens

Written by Heal Your Heart on . Posted in Heart Healing Recipes

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Multi-grain Mung Khichadi
Serves 5
Sattvic, three dosha balancing, heart healthy and super easy to prepare.. My all-time favorite comfort food, the go-to choice during intense sadhana and energetic imbalance, as well as after long trips away involving frequent eating out..
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/3 cup each of quinoa, cracked wheat and brown rice
  2. 1/2 cup each of whole green gram and split mung
  3. 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  4. 1/2 inch ginger, finely minced
  5. 2 cups mixed greens (I used kale, spinach and mint)
  6. 1/2 tsp each of black pepper, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, coarsely ground
  7. 1 sprig curry leaves
  8. 1-2 dried red chillies (optional)
  9. 1 generous tsp turmeric
  10. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Wash quinoa several times in tepid water separately. Wash other grains together. Keep aside.
  2. Easiest when prepared in a pressure cooker - on sauté mode, heat a tsp of EVOO and add a few black peppercorns and curry leaves, red chillies, celery and ginger. Sauté until tender.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and sauté for 1-2 min and add 6-7 cups of water.
  4. Close lid and cook on choice of setting until tender.
  5. Open lid when ready, and mix in the greens.
  6. Serve hot.
Notes
  1. Best eaten in solitude and silence, savoring every mouthful
Heal Your Heart Free Your Soul http://healyourheartfreeyoursoul.com/

Dasha Mahavidya – Tripurasundari

Written by Heal Your Heart on . Posted in Tantric Practices

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In Tantra, no form of Shakti is as adored as that of Tripurasundari, the third of the Mahavidyas. Supremely radiant and beautiful, Tripurasundari is effulgent and bears the hue of the rising sun. Wielding a noose, a goad, a sugarcane bow and five flower-laden arrows in her four hands, she sits upon a throne the seat of which is formed by Sadashiva. The four supports of the throne are formed by Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and Isana. Wrapped in resplendent red, the three-eyed Divine Mother supports and transcends her creation with a playful smile. So magnificent is her presence that sadhakas of Sri Vidya long for nothing else, all desires eventually merged into a single one – for her Grace.

Brahman is the transcendent reality. In the nothingness prior to creation, desire is what leads to the first divine sound or vibration of manifestation, represented by Tara. Without desire, there would be no creation, or sustenance of it. Without desire, there would be no movement on the macrocosmic or microcosmic levels. The circular movement of the cosmos is driven by desire, as are the basic physiological mechanisms of life-forms. Desire is the prism through which the nothingness of the Supreme manifests as its everythingness. This primordial desire is represented by Tripurasundari. While this first desire as Tripurasundari remains untouched as pure love, it is distorted by refraction through vasana conditioning – as selfish clinging to me and mine, self-aggrandizing, greed, sensual enjoyment and endless chasing of sense-objects. However, this desire is also that which gives the impetus for spiritual seeking.  Thus, desire drives the divine not only to fragment itself in creation but also to return to itself.

As desire, Tripurasundari is known as kaamakala (kaama = desire). As the supreme driving force of creation, she is known as Rajarajeshwari (reigning queen of all). As the love that binds all creation, she is known as Kaameshwari. As the playful, Grace-bestowing mother, she is known as Lalita. As the source of all beauty, she is known as Sundari. As both the immanent and transcendent forms of the divine, she is known as Tripurasundari (tri = three, pura = cities, sundari = beauty). Tripura (three cities) is significant for it denotes the threefold mystical fields of Sat, Chit, Ananda representing the qualities of Brahman projecting itself into manifestation. The cosmos itself is said to consist of three upper worlds (janah, tapah, satyam) and three lower worlds (bhuh, bhuvah, suvah), connected by the seventh material world of mahas. Consciousness is often described in its three states of waking, dream state and deep sleep. Creation consists of the play of the three gunas – tamas, rajas and sattva. The body is said to comprise of the gross/physical, the subtle and the causal bodies. All actions comprise of the triad of iccha (will), jnana (knowledge) and kriya (action). In every experience, there is the triad of the experience itself, the experiencer and that which is experienced. The Divine Mother forms the points of every triad in her immanent form. As the fourth transcendent force (turiya), she is also the substratum for those immanent points. As desire, She gives rise to the divine spanda or primordial vibration represented by the bindu of the Sri Yantra, which then gives rise to the points of the myriad intersecting triangles.

Her form is the color of desire, red. The noose in one of her four hands represents the binding force of love. By the goad in the second hand, she spurs activity and movement. The bow in her third hand represents the mind and the five arrows represent the sense organs of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Seated on the throne borne by Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and Isana, she is the doer of the actions represented by them – creation, sustenance of creation, destruction and transcendence. She sits upon Sadasiva, forever entwined with Him and indicating that emptiness and form remain as one.

Sri Vidya (the supreme knowledge) is the sadhana dedicated to Mother Tripurasundari, where the knowledge of all the other Mahavidyas coalesce into the magnetic bindu of the Sri Yantra. The Sri Vidya mantra is considered as the sound form of Tripurasundari and the Sri Yantra, her geometric form. The Sri Vidya seed mantras correspond to the triple aspects of Tripurasundari – the vibrations of desire, love and force. Amplification of these seed mantras results in the fifteen-lettered panchadasi mantra and with addition of another secret seed sound, the powerful sixteen-lettered sodasi mantra. Like the form of Tripurasundari resting on Sadasiva, the Sri Vidya mantra consists of seeds pertaining to both Shiva and Shakti. In the physical world, while the sun represents the supreme source of light, the moon symbolizes bliss and love. The moon bears several names, one of which is Soma. Soma is the divine nectar of the Gods, with extensive reference in the Vedas and the Puranas and is said to be the stuff of the moon, inducing divine bliss. In sadhana, this comes forth as the minty sweet nectar that drips down from the activation of the ajna chakra and the pineal gland, sending waves of ecstasy and deep, lasting peace. A gift of Grace, this amrita or nectar is said to signify the union of Shiva and Shakti in the sadhaka and the opening of the thousand-petaled sahasrara chakra at the crown. While the sun symbolizes Shiva, the moon is the embodiment of Shakti as Tripurasundari. The phases of the moon are said to correspond to the syllables of the Sri Vidya mantra, the full moon bearing the fruit of the all-powerful sodasi mantra.

The sadhana of Tripurasundari calls for rejection of all undesirable and unattractive qualities within ourselves. This is most effectively accomplished through surrendering to Her will, the practice of equanimity, and through unceasing worship of her as the silent seed within the depths of our being as the soul-center. As our sadhana progresses and we have had a glimpse of the pristine soul as the “I AM” behind the veils of the mind and conditioning, our practice undergoes a profound change. Beyond the stage of witnessing where identification with the ego remains, there is a sudden shift in identity as we see with utmost clarity and certainty that we are not the body, the mind, the emotions or the person at all. In this “falling back” into the I AM as the very identity of being, there is a definite turning point in one’s sadhana or rather, a turnaround by 180 degrees.  The main practice is now to abide in the “I AM”, returning again and again to this “true” identity, from dwelling in the ever-changing reflections of the subject  (I AM) as mind-objects to the pristine subject itself. While all previous methods were aimed toward the evolution of gunas from tamas to rajas to sattva, there was still a certain clinging to the ego as one’s identity. The discovery of the I AM and further, this shift in identification to soul-consciousness takes us beyond the gunas altogether. The triune of experience, experiencer and the object of experience begin to merge into a single stream of “experiencing”, without a clear subject-object distinction. The goal of sadhana shifts to losing personal will by the simple practice of abiding as soul rather than a person, so that Divine Will flows through unhindered through the instrument of the mind and body.

Mother Tripurasundari eventually begins to dominate our triple states of consciousness of waking, dreams and deep sleep, pulling us by her noose into the bindu of the fourth still state, turiya. Gradually and paradoxically, the gunas within us continue to transform and evolve, and doership is slowly given up. All actions are seen to arise from svabhava, or the play of gunas; no personal gain or loss is sought or seen. The grander scheme of the cosmos at play is thus gradually revealed as the unfathomable vastness of the next Mahavidya, Bhuvaneshwari.

Image Source: theoktravel.com

 

 

Eating for Yoga and for Health, Part I – General Principles

Written by Heal Your Heart on . Posted in Heart Health, Yogic Diet

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As a cardiologist, I spend enormous amounts of time counseling patients about lifestyle changes. This is because cardiovascular disease as well as most other chronic illnesses are the result of lifestyle. Surgeries and procedures help tremendously in acute settings; however, studies have shown again and again that there is no substitute for lifestyle changes (and medications) in preventing illness as well as events such as heart attacks, strokes and repeated procedures.

As a yogini, my focus remains on changing the inner substance of being that then manifests in the outer in terms of lifestyle changes, disease, health and wellness. No amount of counseling works in many of my patients, whether it is about quitting smoking, changing their diet or exercising more. It is not that they do not understand the benefits of such changes; often, they know more about the damaging effects of their habits than those that do not struggle with them. Yet, there is inner resistance to change in the form of excuses, mental or intellectual reasoning to keep up their nonserving patterns, or the emotional seduction of the habit that is extremely difficult to overcome by sheer will alone. Some make changes driven by will and succeed for short periods of time, only to fall back into the comfort zone of the ingrained habits. Yet, some seem to suddenly wake up one day for no particular reason and find they have undergone an internal shift. Within a very short period of time thereafter, the specific change they have been struggling with seems to occur all on its own. They quit smoking once and for all, take up exercising, lose and maintain a lower weight, change their diet for good, and report feeling great overall. Such miraculous transformations are delightful to observe and share in and are the true rewards of my vocation. These observations have proven to me time and again that all meaningful changes must necessarily come from within.

Interestingly, dietary suggestions of yoga are similar to those for prevention and management of chronic illness as well. In yoga, every aspect of life is included in the practice. This involves how we talk and think, interact with others, express our emotions, go about our daily business, eat, sleep, maintain intimate and other relationships, etc – no aspect of life (seen or unseen by others) is excluded. Thus, when it comes to food, the emphasis is not only on what we eat but how we treat and prepare the food and its overall significance in a yogi’s life. While food has become the tool for celebration and grief alike, this is not so for a yogi. As with all other aspects, food is another vehicle through which the yogi finds the calm, inner stillness behind the veils of thought, personality, emotions and conditioning. Thus, the preparation and consumption of food is aimed for this higher purpose only. Living this way and aligned with this small still voice, lifestyle choices arise automatically to support health and well-being. The need for external guidelines falls away when the wisdom of the still center is listened and surrendered to.

A word of caution is necessary here. Many spiritual aspirants will assert that because inner wisdom trumps in choices, they need no external guidelines or “rules”. To the guideline of vegetarianism for example, some may vehemently quote the example that the Buddha ate meat. Yes, this may be true. But the point here is this – if one is already a Buddha, there is nothing more to discuss. Until we get there however, guidelines are helpful. At various stages of yoga sadhana, we may become highly sensitive to various foods where they affect the ability to dive deep within. At a very advanced stage of sadhana, the yogi becomes one with the entire cosmos. What he/she eats is not seen to be different or other than himself/herself. At this stage, he/she has the ability to consume anything and remain unaffected. The penchant to fool ourselves that we are already there is merely the demonstration of the mind’s power over us to prevent us from making a meaningful change and that of our slavery to the mind’s pull.  It must be emphasized that (with very few and rare exceptions), it takes months/years of dedicated practice to arrive at the still center and to be directed by this higher wisdom. Thus, the first obstacle in sadhana is the belief we are more advanced than we actually are.

The guidelines for eating like a yogi encompass different aspects of our beings. The body is said to be made up of the gross body, the subtle body and the causal body. The gross or physical body is made up of flesh and bones, the sense organs (eyes, nose, ears, skin and tongue) and the organs of action (movement, grasping, speech, elimination and reproduction). The physical body grows or shrinks in size and shape and decays and disintegrates in the form of disease and death. The physical body is dependent upon food for sustenance. The subtle body is made up of energy or prana, mind and intellect. It is where the sense organs and organs of action are registered – it is here that the external world is brought “in” through the sense organs (in the form of seeing, smelling, hearing, touch and taste) and reaction or response is sent “out” through the organs of action. These registrations occur through the complex play of the mind (manas), intellect (buddhi), past learned impressions/memory/habit patterns (chitta) and ego (ahamkara, or sense of a distinct “I”). The causal body consists of the root or the causal ignorance that in turn gives rise the subtle and physical bodies. Ignorance of what? Ignorance of one’s true nature. It is that which leads us to believe we are separate entities because our bodies, upbringing, culture and other influences seem different. It is that which gives rise to “me” versus “not me”. These three bodies can be imagined to form three “sheaths” or veils that cloud or cover our knowing of our true nature as Atman, soul or spirit. The aim of yoga is to part these veils so there is direct seeing that this separate self is indeed an illusion.

All lifestyle choices work on all three sheaths – the physical, subtle and causal. There is no action, thought or choice that does not permeate through all three, creating the cascade of what is to come in the form of physical disease or vibrant health (gross), mental happiness, peace or distress (subtle) and further tightening of the grip of separateness or its opposite, liberation (causal). This is why yogis eat and live in specific ways.

What does eating like a yogi entail? We will see in the next post.