Today is the coldest day of 2012…so far.
And we’re told that it will be much warmer as early as tomorrow.
What to do? What to eat? What to wear?
If there’s anything that will test our ability to live in the moment, it’s Chicago’s weather–one day 20, the next 57 and after that?
Many of us grew up with the prescribed hat and gloves and winter coat that we pulled out of the closet at the first frost and kept out until the winds of March began blowing warmer. But we’ll be sweating in that winter coat if we’re wearing it on Friday and the predicted weather is what actually happens.
Then there’s the adage: A sweater is what you put on when your mom is cold.
For the lazy (or anxious) among us, changing outer clothing and eating habits from day to day is a challenge we resist with all our might. We would much prefer to put on that wool hat and leave it on. Or not.
If it’s any reassurance to those among us who want stability and consistency, this temperature shifting can be considered a manifestation of imbalanced vata in our world–changeability, inconsistency, life!
So, we ask: “What to do? What to wear? What to eat?
If we’re eating according to our dosha and according to the season, we’re taking care to incorporate the vegetables that are freshly available to us. In the midwest, that means squashes and apples and pears, oh my! using the simplest cooking methods and the most grounding spices–cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger.
Soups and rice dishes can accommodate any manner of temperature changes.
The underlying need for centeredness in the swirling season of up and down and in and out means that we need to seek out those things that keep our feet sturdily to the ground. Our activity level needs to reflect that need–instead of a daily vinyasa yoga practice where movement is the focus, why not try a grounding, stabilizing practice of held poses where our intention is to draw the earth’s energy into our own. In fact, why not a restorative practice where our gaze is inward?
Respond to the season’s volatility with a demeanor of calm acceptance and a lovely cup of ginger-carrot or sweet potato puree. Savor the weight of the puree against your tongue and the scent of earthiness in its flavor. Take a long walk, dressed for whatever weather presents itself, mindful of each step as your foot plants firmly to the earth, lifts up and moves forward. Pause along the path to enjoy the sparseness of the changing landscape and the brilliance of the sun as they contrast each other.
Go to sleep a little earlier. Set your alarm for 10 minutes later. If you’ve not yet gotten into the habit of cleansing your nose with a neti pot, now would be a good time to start. (It’s a lot easier than you think…and not nearly as disgusting as you imagined!) Keep you ears, head, and throat covered and away from the wind. (Those new helmet-like caps look great for this purpose.)
Choose one or two things to get you focused. When we jump in and take it all on at once, we set ourselves up for failure. So, be kind. Do one thing this week. Add on next week or the week after.
And remember that, according to Ayurveda, our mind, our body, and our spirit are part and parcel of the same being. Our denial of that oneness doesn’t change their nature. Ayurveda is meant to help us live a long and healthy life of that mind, body, and spirit. Assess where you are today (age, season, constitution, etc.) and work with that.
And whatever you do, do it with joy!
Try this recipe from Amadea Morningstar’s “Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners.” (Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, WI, 1995)
Preheat over to 375 degrees.
2 fresh pears (ripened) 1/2 c fresh yogurt
2 tspns fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
1/4 c apple juice
2 Tbsps sunflower oil 1/4 c Sucanat
1 tspn baking soda 1 1/2 c rice or oat bran
1 c rice flour or whole wheat pstry flour or oat flour
1/4 tspn salt
Wash and dice: 1 1/2 c fresh pear, finely chopped
Mix together with: 2 tspns fresh ginger root
Beat: 2 eggs
Stir into eggs: yogurt, apple juice, sunflower oil and Succanat
Stir well into this wet mixture: baking soda
Add the pears and ginger, then: rice or oat bran, flour, salt
Stir well. Spoon into oiled muffin tin; bake until done, about 25 minutes.
Morningstar advocates keeping the bran in the recipe instead of using all rice flour because it helps keep the muffins smooth and without pasty lumps. I took her to heart and have always made them with the bran.
People with vata constitutions may want to smother these with ghee or butter.