Suzuki Roshi said that Zen is like feeling your way along in the dark. I think this means – go slowly, go carefully. Keep all your senses open, feel your way with tenderness. Pay more attention to where you are now rather than focusing on the destination.
I’ve been hibernating of sorts lately and not doing much, or so it would appear. This is not that typical of me really, I am often more of a “get out of my way I have somewhere I need to be!” type of person, and how different it feels to take tiny steps (or no steps) instead of rushing forward. I can’t really say I am able to see any progress at all.
There is an expression in Zen – take off the blinkers and take off the saddle bags; i.e. you’ve arrived. Unpack. There is no further destination to focus on, your belongings can spill out of the saddle bags. Sit still. Take a look at what you’ve got. What serves you? What might actually be unnecessary baggage?
Cooking wise, I’ve been loving Emma Galloway’s latest book A Year In My Real Food Kitchen and have made many successful meals, led by her hand. It can sometimes feel too much of a stretch to try out brand new recipes when we’re low on energy, doubtful, but I also find that following the guidance of someone you trust feels very supportive, a way of being kind to yourself.
I’ve made Emma’s ginger-roasted pumpkin & quinoa salad recipe many times. Here’s the link to her recipe. I’ve recently discovered corn couscous which I sometimes sub in for the quinoa. It’s a gf alternative to regular couscous which you prepare the same way (soak in hot water for 5-10 mins) and it’s a wonderfully cheerful, sunshine yellow colour which makes it a winner in my book. It has a subtle/sweet corn taste and obviously takes very little brain power to prepare. Her chocolate/almond cookies, made with buckwheat flour, are my new winter favourite, very very delicious with my mid-morning coffee when I feel like a treat.
I’ve also developed a bit of a habit for turmeric chai, having been inspired by 101 Cookbooks recipe here. I add a pinch of nutmeg and a little cinnamon to the turmeric/honey paste, and use 50:50 almond milk / water warmed in a pan so it becomes more of a latte or chai than a tea. I’ve been thinking how it might be nice with a few drops of real vanilla essence, but you can be the judge of that. It tastes delicious, and is warming and healthy too. A cuddle in a cup.
Here is another very wonderful recipe, for ‘Life Changing Bread’ from Sarah Britton’s My New Roots blog. It’s suits those kinds of days where we don’t have the energy to knead bread and create yet more washing up, AND we want to feel nourished. You just soak ALL the ingredients (mainly nuts and seeds) overnight in the very loaf tin you will bake it in, then in the morning you just slide the tin into your warm oven, and slide yourself back under the duvet with a cuppa to watch the sunrise, listen to the birds, listen to your heart… and feel your way slowly and gently into another day.
I think what I’m trying to say is cook what nourishes you and feels right for the moment. Some days that might be oven chips. We don’t have to be a creative genius in the kitchen (or elsewhere) each and every day, especially when we are not feeling inspired ourselves. We can sit still and rest, but we can still take care of ourselves. And maybe lean on a good friend – I’ll help you, I’ll show, we’ll do it together. Step by step.
Take it easy out there.