• January 2012

Simple Wisdom to Help Determine "What's Next?"

By Jill Leslie
Owner and Founder
Kitchen Alchemy

“Every moment’s a ‘what’s next,’” says well-known yoga and meditation teacher Rod Stryker.

I like this idea, especially as my clients and I ruminate on what we’d like to manifest in 2012. To me, the advice is as logical as this perfectly simple adage: You are what you eat.

Originally written in a 1983 essay entitled, “Concerning Spiritualism and Materialism,” Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach wrote: “Der Mensch ist, was er isst.” That translates into English as, “Man is what he eats,” insisting that the food one consumes has a bearing on both state of mind and health.

What does today’s breakfast have to do with determining what’s next?

Here’s some food for thought:

1. The essence of who you are is not necessarily extra hot and spicy salsa or a bowl of peaches and cream. However, if you frequently indulge in hot and spicy food, you will increase the heat in your body. And, as the heat rises, you may notice your fuse shortens, and your temper flares. You literally get hot under the collar. Similarly, if you indulge in foods with loads of fat, sugar, and white flour, you will carry that “tub of lard” around your waistline.

2. Ayurveda, which is one of the oldest medical system known to mankind, espouses “like increases like” and “opposites balance.” As you conjure your “what’s next” plans for 2012, look closely at the things about yourself that you’d like to change. If your skin is dry, your hair brittle, and you feel like you want to “juice up” your life—forgo that bag of popcorn in favor of a ripe piece of fruit.

Just like grapes and plums wrinkle into raisins and prunes when dehydrated, dry foods will suck the juiciness from your body. Not only will you notice your body getting parched, your heart and mind will reflect these qualities, too. In my Kitchen Alchemy cooking classes, I demonstrate this principle by filling a glass with water and plopping in a few dried raisins. It doesn’t take long for the sapless raisins to transform into plump and succulent morsels of juicy sweetness. The same is true for you and your body.

3. Connect with nature gunas. If you aren’t familiar with this Ayurvedic concept, these are the qualities of nature, which are broken down into 10 pairs of opposites. The most important to keep in mind are: hot/cold, wet/dry, and heavy/light. Think about how your body and mind fit into these categories and experiment with balancing with the opposite qualities.

  • If you get cold easily: Keep warm from the inside out by sprinkling warming spices like pepper and cinnamon on your food. Enjoy ginger tea. Take a warm bath, and bring extra layers with you when you go out on a cold day so that your body stays warm.
  • If you feel bogged down: Or if you feel like you have “brain fog,” and are feeling a bit heavy in your body and mind, eat light foods that are easy to digest. Take a brisk walk, play uplifting music, and watch a good comedy to lighten your mood.
  • If you are feeling spaced-out and ungrounded: Eat more soups, stews, and root vegetables. And, be sure to spend time in nature where you can walk on the leaves, freshly fallen snow, or sandy beach. Touching the earth with your feet will most definitely make you feel more grounded.

In the words of Joseph Campbell: “The goal of Life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.”

Making this simple wisdom your reality in 2012 is available to you whenever you are ready to use nature as your guide—and bring balance into your life.

In a healthy nutshell: If you tend to have cold hands and feet, remember the guidelines (outlined above) for staying warm. If you tend toward heartburn and rashes, avoid anything that will increase the heat in your body. Congestion points toward a wet constitution while chapped lips is a symptom of dry. Feeling lethargic is a clue to “lighten up” while being scattered may show a need to slow down.

When you feel more balanced in body and mind, you will notice you can respond to “what’s next” with more skill and ease.

For more Healthy Living information, visit: www.Ayurvedaalchemy.com/recipes.


About Jill Leslie and Ayurveda Alchemy

Jill Leslie is a certified Ayurvedic practitioner, herbalist, wellness chef, and yoga teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area who, for more than two decades, has been immersed in the study and practice of natural healing.

The entrepreneur, who has owned her own businesses since graduating from the University of Maryland in 1986, founded the award-winning retail shop Milk & Honey in Sebastapol, CA, in 1999. She sold it in 2006 so that she could delve deeper into her study of yoga and Ayurveda.

As she discovered the life-changing wisdom of these ancient practices, she began sharing her knowledge at wellness retreats, yoga studios, and through cooking classes. Her passion for herbal medicine and nutrition, and her love of sweets, inspired her to found Ayurveda Alchemy, in 2008.

In addition to hosting classes and events, and providing consultations and dietary advice about Ayurveda, she has created a line of healthy and delicious confections, which are available online at Kitchen Alchemy Treats. “When I learned the adage of Ayurveda, ‘Let your food be your medicine,’ I put on my apron and said, ‘Let your medicine be delicious,’” she says. Learn more at www.AyurvedaAlchemy.com.

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