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Poem – Landlocked in Fur

gray cat sitting in the sun

“Landlocked in Fur” by Tukaram

I was meditating with my cat the other day 
and all of a sudden she shouted,
“What happened?!”

I knew exactly what she meant, but encouraged
her to say more – feeling that if she got it all out on the table
she would sleep better that night.

So I responded, “Tell me more, dear,”
and she soulfully meowed:

“Well, I was mingled with the sky. I was comets
whizzing here and there. I was suns in heat, hell – I was
galaxies. But now look – I am
landlocked in fur.”

To this I said, “I know exactly what you mean.”

What to say about conversation between mystics?

From: “Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West” (Ladinksy, 2002)

Photo: Shell Fischer

from Tara Brach’s new year talk.

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Roasted vegetable polenta lasagna

polenta roasted vegetable lasagnaI love root and other roasted vegetables. For this recipe, I roasted potatoes, turnips, parsley root, carrots, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and grape tomatoes. I use an olive oil balsamic vinaigrette with a bit of Dijon mustard and herbs for the roasted vegetables.

I then layered polenta slices with the roasted vegetables and poured on top a kicked-up béchamel sauce (made with some white wine, Dijon mustard, sage, and parmesan in addition to the usual stuff).

Granted, dicing and roasting vegetables is a bit laborious, but I am in L.O.V.E. with this dish.

I wonder what it would taste like if I used Thanksgiving stuffing instead of polenta…

This is inspired by a dish I ate at Duc des Lombards in Paris – where the béchamel sauce had a much heavier mushroom taste, and the other vegetable was spinach. We listened there to the lovely Cyrille Aimee – enjoy the song below, and may every day be a good day!

Simple savory bread pudding

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We barely beat a major snow storm on the way back from vacation and found ourselves snowed in with no time to stock up on groceries – with the exception of a gallon of non-organic (gasp!) milk picked up at a gas station on the way home from the airport.

We probably have a month’s worth of food in the pantry anyway, but this simple dish was inspired by a 10-day old baguette I found on the counter. I mixed it with some stuffing, a chopped bell pepper, shredded gruyere cheese and left-over vegetable stock in which I melted a bit of butter. Warm, savory, and easy.

Just watch.

Moods_clouds

I have been looking forward to this book since Alex first told me he was working on it (he was kind enough to agree to serve on the advisory board for a project I planned).

The book doesn’t disappoint. OK, that’s an understatement. It’s one of those books I wish I had written.

Even though this is a book about the dangers of technology use, it is not one of those panicked, hopeless, technology-hating arguments. It is a guide for making the best out of technology – for using it rather than being used by it.

The book’s premise rests in the idea of the extended mind, a concept Alex reframes as entanglement with technology. At its best, entanglement is a state of feeling the body and mind being pleasantly and seamlessly extended by technology – perceiving technology as part of oneself, just like a skilled skier perceives the skis as part of herself when zooming down a slope. This kind of entanglement has been happening since the beginning of history and tool use. Whether you use skis, an axe, a bicycle, a pen, a car, or a computer, you can have that sense of it extending your human abilities, being a part of yourself. However, there are times when entanglement goes wrong, and technology feels like a pair of broken, uncomfortable, awkward high-heel shoes. Then, it becomes an extension of yourself that hinders movement, an arm that doesn’t obey the brain’s commands; a cause of frustration and stress.

The book is grounded in solid Western empirical research as well as Eastern thought and practice. It combines the two to propose a guide for the positive kind of entanglement. In the last chapter, it offers 8 principles for doing so:

  1. be human
  2. be calm
  3. be mindful
  4. make conscious choices
  5. extend your abilities
  6. seek flow
  7. engage with the world
  8. restore your capacity for attention

The book ends beautifully and hopefully:

“You are the inheritor of a contemplative legacy that you can use to retake control of your technology, to tame the monkey mind, and to redesign your extended mind. Connection is inevitable. Distraction is a choice.”

The question remains, how easy and feasible is the plan proposed in this book? I find it feasible, but not necessarily easy. It requires some training of executive attention (aka mindfulness) that might take a while to develop, and demands commitment to regular practice.

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Reminds you to bring attention back to the breath 🙂

instructions by Sally Kempton

Recharging

Hand drawing of a rechargeable battery labeled me, a battery charger labeled yoga, and a plug point enabling access to the energy grid

 

My drawing classes are paying off 😛

I think music, a beautiful performance, nature, a good conversation with a friend are other ways to recharge… but what helps you plug into the Grid and recharge?

While I’m a technology lover, I do agree with the point of view that by using technology (especially cell phones) so much we miss out on or plain avoid the opportunity to be alone.

There is a lot of self-knowledge to be gained from being alone and free of incoming information. But it often hurts and is scary. So we avoid it by reaching for connection (aka cell phone). Sherry Turkle argues that the kind of connection we get this way is not always authentic and satisfying. It is a cheap replacement, like a cheap “nutritional” drink is a replacement for a healthy, nourishing meal.

Anyway, arguments like the one above are boring. But this comedian explains it much better on Conan:

Can you try to pay attention and notice when you are using your phone to avoid being alone? Can you try practicing being alone, just sitting there, without music or any other stimulus, for maybe 5 minutes every other day, and see what happens?

Why I’m vegetarian

Mutts Vegetarian

From Mutts Comics, my favorite comic strip EVER!