Today is the final day of Winter here in Australia, or I should say "Wiritjirbin" often called "Sprinter" by white folks here in Sydney. And tomorrow according to the (Sydney and surrounds) we are transition to "Ngoonungi" aka, early Spring. It's still cool but becoming warmer, and the flying foxes come out! Read more about Australian Aboriginal Seasons here.
This month we are celebrating all things growth and renewal through the lens of Sadhana/ Conscious Spiritual Practice.
While Cooking, Cleaning and Gardening may seem like the most average of day to day tasks, embedded within them, is the essence of healthy living, holistic nourishment and the possibility of living harmoniously, with intention, uniting our inner landscape and external environment as an expression of the divine.
As the weight of winter begins to melt away, we may find ourselves called to fling open the windows, let the light and the fresh air in; clean out our cupboards and turn over the soil and embrace all the Spring produce starting to show up at the market/ grocery store.
These days, with so many processed and fast food options, it’s easy to become disconnected with the origins of food and skip food preparation all together. Coming back to the slow art of cooking, brings us in to relationship with self, nature and the divine.
If the word God in the above passage doesn’t resonate with you, replace it with something that does, for example: “higher power”, “spirit”, “the divine”.
Food preparation and consumption is the stuff of LIFE, and given we eat each day (unless perhaps we are fasting or unwell) cooking is a wonderful practice to reconnect us with what it means to nourish our life and do it with reverence and gratitude.
At the most basic level, food allows us to experience full-bodied nourishment, and fulfillment of desire. According to Ayurveda the environment in which food is grown, harvested and prepared impacts the vibration of the food and therefore how well it nourishes us. This is worth considering with respect to your choice and power as a consumer to support ethical supply chains, and, where possible prepare cruelty free vegetarian meals.
Consider the following practices to begin to explore cooking as a conscious spiritual practice.
3 Practices for Kitchen Sadhana:
1. Clean out your refrigerator and pantry. Remove expired foods, left overs and foods, which do not for you, represent deep nourishment, in terms of both taste and nutritional profile.
2. Create a peaceful and sacred environment in which to prepare your food. Eliminate clutter on the kitchen benches and reduce external noise and distraction as much as possible so you can focus your energy and attention on the preparation of the meal. Perhaps chant or play uplifting, high vibration music to accompany the ritual space of the kitchen.
3. Consciously and mindfully cut vegetables and along their “lifelines”/ the natural grain and do not overcook them to maintain prana. As you cut the vegetable, be aware… “I am cutting the vegetable”. Engage the senses in the task. If the mind to wanders, bring it back to the sensation, sight, smell and sound of the cutting of the vegetable. This is mindful cooking.
The Yoga Sutras offer “Saucha”/ Cleanliness as the first Niyama. Niyamas are the yoga code of conduct for soulful living.
On any given day the practice of "Saucha" might look like minimizing the clutter in the home; cleansing the mind with meditation; clearing the internal landscape of negative thoughts and embracing the power of positive thought.
In essence, Saucha involves consciously choosing what you do and don’t want in your life; cleansing, renewing and purifying; letting go of the debris (internal and external) that drags you down so you can experience the world more vividly.
3 Practices for Saucha & Spring Cleaning:
1. In the Home: Fling open the windows, put on some music and get cracking on cleaning out areas you often neglect. Maybe you will chose to get a big bucket of soapy water and wash the walls or skirting boards where dust has collected? Or maybe you want to clean all the windows- inside and out? Or if the spiders crept in over the winter, take a long handled brush and clear out cobwebs in every room.
2. In your Closet: Pack up the winter clothes. For every item you put away for next winter, donate an item to charity. Stock your wardrobe and drawers with spring and summer clothes, for every item you keep, donate one to charity. If you have children, do this for their clothes too. Pack a bag of clothes that no longer fit to donate or give away. There is so much research now showing that the less choice we have the happier we are. Keep only the clothes that bring you JOY!
3. In your Inner World: You will need a candle, lighter or matches, paper and pen/pencil, a medium to large heat-proof bowl with soil or sand at the bottom. Carve out some time for yourself to do this ritual.
Light a candle. Take a few deep breaths to get grounded and centered. Speak silently “ I cleanse myself of all negative energy” 3 times.
Now write down all the things that no longer serve you, which you feel ready to let go of. Try not to judge what emerges. When everything you feel finished with this process, light the paper from the candle. Drop the burning paper in to the heat-proof bowl with the sand/soil. Watch it burn. Speak silently: “I cleanse myself of what no longer serves”
Tending to the garden, is a beautiful way to come in to relationship with nature's cycles, which in fact exist within human life too.
Both plants and human beings move through the following seven stages: seed/conception - sprout/baby – youth – maturity – flowering/fertility – fruiting/reproducing – the back to the earth as seed/death.
Not only is this cycle active on a macro scale in the life of a person, menstruating women move through these cycles every month. You may also notice your projects, work life and relationships move through these cycles. Identifying which stage you are at can be really helpful to know what is passed and what is to come! What activities you should be doing that relate to this phase and what activities can wait for another (more appropriate) time.
Over the past month I have spent, I’d estimate, over 15 hours in my garden, digging, weeding and pruning. It has been the most wonderful process for me personally to come into a physical relationship with the tail end of winter and the necessary clearing out the needed to take place (both in my own emotional garden and the back yard).
Initially when I decided I wanted to embark on project garden, my first step was to go and buy some seeds, but much to my frustration, I actually couldn’t plant them for weeks because there was so much work to be done to prepare the ground. My garden was still very wintery and overgrown and this stage needed proper tending before I could get the seeds in the ground. What a great lesson for life!
I look forward to exploring these themes in class with you this month!
PS. Book classes here.
Listen to "Wisdom" by Daheen and more on this months playlist below.