Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In the Now - The Practice of Being Present

Hi all, I'm officially back from my summer hiatus with this post and the one before it.

I'm reminded that the yoga mindset - being present in the moment - is helping me reground and stay calm as I focus on my search for a full-time marketing job.

I sit down at my laptop and immediately go to work writing to networking contacts. Soon I am reading articles on marketing, SEO and social media, scanning job postings and curious course descriptions, rethinking a line on my resume, checking LinkedIn, etc. I write a cover letter and edit it a third time. The minutes coast by. My promise to take a break and run outside or go to the gym have become delayed for another hour.

I look up and it's almost afternoon. I set little targets. Two or three resumes sent by noon. I remind myself that I'm not the only one allowing the clock digits on my mobile to spin faster and get away from me, nor am I the only one looking for a job.

I brace myself and start over.

This is yoga. Yoga is constantly coming back to the present, grounding and returning to center. It is not the final result, but the work to get there. It is giving your best effort in the moment.

Try a simple meditation at your desk:
  1. Feel your back against the back rest of your chair; feet are on the ground.
  2. Place your hands palm-side down on your thighs or knees; close your eyes.
  3. Wet a finger and touch it to the skin between your eye brows, above the bridge of your nose; bring your hand back to your thigh.
  4. Imagine that touch and the space approximately an inch behind the sensation of the touch - that's your third eye.
  5. Concentrate on viewing the third eye as a completely dark space; see how long you can imagine it and stay with it that way; let your breath calm and slow down.
  6. During this process, colors or bolts of light might flash and your thoughts will surely stray, but return your focus to the blanketing darkness.
  7. Keep trying to come back to resting your mind on the deep, dark space of the third eye. That is the work, that is the practice and that's all that a simple meditation ultimately requires of you.

    an you guess how many seconds it took before your 'monkey mind' began to jump around and you were no longer focusing on the desolate, black space of the third eye, but on a slice of pizza, an annoying colleague, or the new love interest in your life?

    What should you do to focus your mind? Same thing for everything!
    And then it all becomes a meditation…
As I say it to myself, I share it with you: Reset, restart and dig in.

Now about that resume work...I listen to that small voice driving my intentions. Ahh! I feel my energy shift back into gear. I return to alignment and tune in to my goals. I do not judge myself, nor do I blame myself. I just remain my organized, aware self - returning to the now - and success will come.

This post is dedicated to my friend David for his sage advice
and to the memory of Steve's mom. May she rest in peace.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Plum Cake. Smile :)

I love to bake and I love cuisine, so this blog will have many references to food.

Sometimes I'll share recipes like this easy-to-make Plum Cake. I baked it for a recent gathering of family and friends.

Now remember, as this blog is about Yoga intersecting with personal passions and pursuits, when I write about food or baked items, you'll notice it's influenced by my yogi-ness and how much I value good health and wellness.

Therefore while the cake called for butter, I did it a healthier turn by using Smart Balance. Smart Balance is a unique spread - a blend of all-natural fats derived from vegetables. It might even have the ability to help lower bad cholesterol (LDL).

I also used finely ground whole wheat flour, instead of pure white. You'll get more fiber in your diet with whole wheat. And that's like a healthy, yoga asana sun salutation for your intestinal tract! This whole wheat flour is so close to the feeling of regular white flour, you'll never notice a difference. Whole wheat has come a long way! I found mine at Trader Joe's.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9" spring-form pan with a circle of parchment paper. Then grease the parchment paper.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (try Smart Balance)
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted (try fine whole wheat flour!)
1 teasp. baking powder
pinch salt, optional
2 eggs
24 halves pitted purple plums (the small Italian plum variety!)
For topping: sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon

  1. Cream sugar and butter.
  2. Then add flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.
  3. Spoon batter into 9 inch spring-form. (other sizes can be used as well.)
  4. Place plum halves skin side up on top of batter.
  5. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice depending on the sweetness of the fruit; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon or however much you like.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Remove and cool. Note: The plums sink to the bottom.