Me and My Tree: The Healing Power of Nature

Me and My Tree: The Healing Power of Nature

One day I was going for walk at the nature reserve near my home. It was the path I walked almost every day and knew quite well. On this particular day, out of the blue, a small opening appeared along the track. It felt kind of magical and I was surprised that it had been invisible to me for so long.
The opening lead to a beautiful tree. The tree grew in such a way that I was able to sit comfortably on its trunk and look up at its beautiful canopy at the same time. I asked the tree if it was ok for me to sit with it. I felt the answer was yes.  When I first sat on the tree, I felt an almost immediate shift in my energy: more grounded, clearer and more peaceful. When it was time to leave, I thanked the tree and continued with my walk.
This became a regular activity for me and I grew excited to see the tree every time I went for a walk. I’m not sure how it happened, but every time I sat with this tree I would come away feeling completely different. I loved how the tree never resisted the changing weather and seasons, and it never fought the wind. It welcomed the birds that rested on its branches and the ants that crawled along its trunk. The tree seemed to welcome anything that came it’s way. Including me. And I was grateful.
The last time I visited the tree I had an intense desire to climb its trunk and its branches. When I asked the tree, I felt the answer was no. So I let it go and continued to sit.
The other day, I was going for my usual walk along the path. It had been very windy the day before but I didn’t think anything of it. As I was approaching the tree I got a shock to see that it had fallen in the wind. It’s trunk had snapped and it turns out it was hollow inside (I was grateful I didn’t climb it!).
I stopped in my tracks. I couldn’t move for a moment…it was like I didn’t quite believe what I was seeing. I slowly approached the tree. Tears started streaming down my eyes…This surprised me. I’d never felt this way about a tree before. I felt I’d lost a friend. I went up and touched it’s trunk. I said, ‘I know you’re not MY tree but for some reason I feel like you are. I love you and I am so grateful for our time together.’ This beautiful tree was off on a whole new journey. Perhaps this ending is actually a new beginning.
Why am I sharing this? Well, I’ve always loved nature and felt it to be incredibly healing. But I guess this was the first time that I felt a deep personal connection to a tree. There wasn’t a single time I walked away from the tree feeling the same. I always felt at home there, peaceful and connected. I understand now that all of nature is my friend. Nature is full of magic, possibility and healing energy. For this I am so grateful.
Much love,
Cara
P.S I just so happened to take the above photo on the last day I visited the tree before it fell.
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Breakfast Idea: Poha

Breakfast Idea: Poha

What is Poha? Poha is an Indian dish made from flattened rice. It is light and easy to prepare. You can find poha at Indian supermarkets.

I sometimes get bored with having the same breakfast everyday so I love finding healthy and yummy alternatives. It’s great for the digestive system to regularly change what we eat also.  This helps keep our digestive fire (agni) strong.

This poha dish provides a yummy, simple and healthy breakfast option. You can also have it for lunch or dinner!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of poha rinsed in room temperature water
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee (or oil of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander powder/seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4-1/2 a green chilli (chopped finely). Check the level of spiciness of the chilli to determine how much you want to add.
  • 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 inches of fresh ginger (grated)
  • 2 carrots (grated)
  • 1 stick of celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup of peas
  • 1/4 cup of rasins
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • Coriander leaves to serve (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat ghee in a frying pan on medium heat and add the cumin, fennel and coriander seeds/powder.
  2. Once the spices become fragrant add the grated ginger and green chilli and stir. Cook for 1-2 mins.
  3. Add the grated carrot, celery, raisins, pumpkin seeds, peas and turmeric powder. Cook for 3-5 mins, stirring occasionally.
  4. Turn the heat to low then stir through the poha. Once stirred through, turn the heat off (there is no need to cook the flattened rice).
  5. Add squeezed lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with coriander leaves on top (optional)

Enjoy!

 

Kichari

Kichari

What is Kichari? It is a delicious and nourishing meal made with lentils, rice, veggies and spices. The combination of lentils and rice forms a complete protein. Kichari is easy to digest, grounding and balancing for the doshas! As a bonus, its quite simple to make!

Ingredients:

1 cup basmati rice (washed)
1 cup washed yellow mung dhal (soaked for approx 3 hours). If using green mung dhal, soak for 9 hours.
1 cup of chopped veggies of choice (eg. broccoli, peas, carrot or celery)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 small piece of fresh ginger
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp ghee (or oil of choice)

A pinch of asafoedtida
1 litre of boiling water
Squeeze of lemon
Salt to taste

Heat ghee/oil in a saucepan. Fry up all the spices until they are fragrant (approx 40 seconds). Add mung dahl, rice and veggies then stir until coated with ghee/oil and spices. Add the water and cook on medium to low heat for 30-50 minutes (or until rice and dahl are soft) stirring occasionally. Enjoy!

Beetroot and Carrot Raita

Beetroot and Carrot Raita

Raita is an Indian side dish made with yoghurt and other ingredients. It goes well with curries and dhal, taking the edge off the spiciness. This recipe is vata balancing and is best eaten at lunch time. The colour of it makes it extra fun!

Ingredients:
1 cup plain yogurt. 
1 cup of beetroot.
1 big carrot.
2 cloves.
Pinch of cinnamon & asafoetida.
1/4 tsp salt & pepper.

  1. Grate the carrot and  beetroot.
  2. Mix the yogurt and slices together.
  3. Add the carrot and beetroot then stir.
  4. Allow to sit for 5 mins for the flavours to blend together.
  5. Keep refrigerated. Enjoy!

The recipe from Annapurna’s Prasad, Ayurvedic Cooking for Health & Longevity.

Self-Love: An Ayurvedic Perspective

Self-Love: An Ayurvedic Perspective

Giving ourselves kindness and love can be difficult. With the busyness and stress of life, it’s not always a priority. At times we may go through a health crisis, making it challenging (if not impossible) to go about our daily activities. This serves as a reminder of the importance or self-care and self-love. Yet, still it can difficult to give ourselves what we truly need.

So what can we do?

The Little Things

Surprisingly, the little things can make a big difference! Spending even 5 to 10 minutes per day on a self-love activity can have a powerful effect. Dinacharya, meaning daily routine, are the daily practices Ayurveda advises for optimal health. There are more than 12 activities recommended which can seem quite overwhelming! In my own practice, I do some activities everyday and some just when I can.

One simple thing I love is the kala krithya moment (meaning realisation). Before getting out of bed in the morning, I take a moment to contemplate gratitude. Gratitude for a new day, a fresh slate. Gratitude for the breath I’m taking. Gratitude for this life. Gratitude itself brings a sense fulfilment and even peace. This expands the heart allowing us to experience our own love.  This is also the time to set an intention or dedication for the day ahead.  For example, “I intend for my day to flow easily and effortlessly” or “I intend to give myself the love and kindness I am seeking”.

Self-Love Through Presence

It’s in the present moment that we experience love. Although we may think of an event in the past or project into the future, love itself is always in the present. Through cultivating presence, whether through meditation, types of pranayama (breathing techniques) or mindfulness, we begin to find the richness in each moment.

One way to do that is through loving every bite!

An exercise I enjoy doing is mindful eating. Ayurveda says that digestion does not only relate to the food we eat but also to how we digest life on an emotional level. When we eat, we are digesting the food, the feeling it was cooked with and the emotional state that we are experiencing when eating it.

Growing up with two younger brothers meant eat fast or miss out. I had carried this into my adult life unconsciously for a long time! Although I may not remember to do it all the time, I now try to be really present when I eat, enjoying every mouthful and experiencing all the different tastes while chewing properly. Noticing the emotion I am eating with, I work to cultivate a positive feeling while chewing. As I take a bite of the meal, I intend it to be nourishment for my body and give myself love through eating this way.

Self-Love Through Self-Massage

Ayurveda emphasises the importance of self-massage (Abhyanga). What better way to express love for yourself than through tenderly massaging your self with oil! This works on the physical level by removing dryness, improving circulation, lubricating the joints and improving the quality of the body’s tissues. This sort of massage calms the nervous system, improves sleep quality and reduces stress.

On an emotional level, touch allows us to experience our own love. Massaging your skin with this intention can have a beautiful effect. You can massage a different part of your body each day so by the end of the week, your whole body is done.

Certain oils are more suited for different people. This is determined by your Ayurvedic constitution or prominent dosha. If you are unsure of your constitution you can take the quiz on the Shining Wellness website or book in for a consultation.

Oil types:

  • For a vata body type use black sesame oil.  Vata types require more massage than pittas and kaphas.
  • For a pitta body type use coconut oil.
  • For a kapha body type use mustard seed oil or sesame oil. Use a small amount of oil only.

To end…

We develop self-love through caring for ourselves. This is not just care of the physical body, although this is very important. It is taking care of our mind and emotions as well. The little things, such as contemplating gratitude (especially for ourselves) and being present to the richness of each moment add to our experience of love. As we feel more love within ourselves we experience more love in our life and uplift those around us and the world we live in.

Questions to ask yourself….

What do I do daily for myself as an act of self-love?

What do I feel I can do for myself? Even for 5 minutes a day.

What connects me to love?

How can I expand love in your life?

Feel free to contact me if you would like diet and lifestyle consultation unique to your Ayurvedic constitution.

With love,

Cara