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Ancient Wisdom, Contemporary Practice

April 4, 2011

Dear fellow life-travellers

Life isn’t always easy. The new year seems so promising; at the beginning of a year I often look back, releasing bygones, enjoying family and friends, renewing my faith, taking that first step into the unknown new year, excited about the possibilities. And inevitably, life happens. Things go awry. Hope gets squished somewhere between making ends meet and cooking the next supper (which is hopelessly boring – yet again). And the demands just keep flooding in.

This is where you stop. Hopefully because you were wise enough to recognise the signs, but maybe because you were literally forced to by life. And here is where the rubber hits the road. Do you sit down under a bush and pray for fire to come down or do you stand amidst the chaos and thunder, your heart torn asunder, and will yourself to find within you what makes it all worthwhile? It’s no small thing to be ripped apart and still be willing, trusting fully in the process of life.

Maybe you wonder what it all means and whether eating the right thing and continuing your own practices are worth it. What’s the big deal anyway? Well, that answer is for each of us to find. For me, continuing conscientious and conscious behaviour in the little things, especially when it’s tough, always helps me see the bigger issues with clarity again.

Last month we started looking at conscious consumption and what it means. This month I would like, with you, to investigate what the ancient texts have to say about this.

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali lays down the five yamas and niyamas (observances and restraints). The first of the yamas is ahimsa, or non-violence (sometimes referred to as non-harming). Of course there are gross and subtle forms of this practice which may affect our actions, speech and thoughts. It may start by making a decision not to eat the flesh of animals and then turn into true compassion for all sentient beings, including yourself. This, in turn, may lead to you finally be kind to yourself, releasing old anger and fears, finding your true purpose and giving back in that way to the world. Really, ahimsa takes your yoga practice out of the class and into the world.

Swami Prakashanada Saraswati (1987) explains it best for me. He says “Every animal that is slaughtered for human consumption brings the pain of death into your body. Think about it. The animal is killed with violence. That violence causes the animal to experience very intense pain as it dies. That pain remains in the meat even after you’ve prepared and cooked it. When you eat the meat, you eat the pain. That pain becomes lodged in your body, heart, and mind. That violence and pain which you consume will also eat you also. It consumes you so that you must experience the same pain in your life also.”

Eating should be joyful; it should nourish you and your family and serve as a symbol of the abundance of life. For this reason I have prepared and included a delicious karma-free vegan feast. I trust that you will think about your own practices and refine them as you feel comfortable. Every action counts. Every fine-tuning of your own life affects the world in so many ways. I wish for all of us the courage to open our eyes so that we may see and do what needs to be done.

Next month we will look at the other yamas in more detail. As always, feel free to write to me and share your thoughts at chants_za@yahoo.com.

Namaste`

Chantelle.

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Cold soup starter

Ingredients

1 avocado, skinned and pitted

2 heaped tablespoons red pepper hummus

1 red pepper

2 garlic cloves

¼ cup celery

1 tsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Sprouts or vegan cream for topping

Method

Mix together all the ingredients except the sprouts. Blend until smooth. Serve cold and top with sprouts or vegan cream.

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Chickpea flower pancakes filling

Pancake ingredients

1 cup unbleached flower (or chickpea flower)

¾ cup chickpea flower

¼ cup Maizena

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp canola oil

2 cups soy/rice/oat milk (I sometimes use a little more or less depending on the desired thickness of the pancakes)

Filling ingredients

1 onion, chopped finely

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch spinach, washed and torn into strips

1 punnet mushrooms, washed and cut into slices

½ cup black olives, diced

1 sachet of Ina Paarman’s sundried tomatoes (with the juice)

1 small can or sachet tomato puree

4 tbsp of the pancake ingredients (before you add the Maizena)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method (Pancakes)

Mix all the ingredients, except the Maizena, in a big bowl. Use a handheld blender to mix the ingredients until smooth. Put aside 4 tablespoons of the batter to use with the filling. Now add the Maizena and blend again until all the lumps are smooth. Set aside for 30 minutes before making the pancakes. You can prepare the filling in the meantime.  Once you have waited 30 minutes, use a non-stick pan to make the pancakes (in the same way you would make other pancakes).

Method (Filling)

Warm a little oil in a pan. Fry the onion and add the garlic. Next add the mushrooms and allow it to brown. Now add the spinach and let it wilt a little. This should take about five minutes. Once the spinach starts to wilt, add the tomato puree, sundried tomatoes, olives and pancake batter. Stir for a while, add salt and pepper to taste and then leave the filling to simmer. The pancake batter will form a type of white sauce. If it thickens too much, add some olive oil. While the filling simmers you can start preparing the chilli-choc sauce for the dessert.

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Dates with chilli-choc sauce

Ingredients

1 cup fresh dates (the fresher, the better)

300g vegan dark chocolate

1 tsp chilli flakes

Method

Using a double boiler pot, place boiled water in the bottom pot and the chocolate (broken into pieces) and chilli flakes in the top pot. The steam will slowly start to melt the chocolate. When it starts, mix all the ingredients together until the chocolate becomes a smooth sauce.

Place the dates in a baking pan on waxed or rice paper. Now cover the top halves of the dates with the chilli-choc sauce. Be generous – the combinations are delicious! Once you have done this, allow it to cool and place the dates in the refrigerator for 45 minutes. Serve with warm tea.

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ChantelleChantelle Roelofse teaches yoga in Muizenberg and co-owns a vegan restaurant, CLOSER, in the area as well. When she isn’t in an asana or thinking about food, she runs, plays piano and writes. She is interested in the philosophy of yoga and how we can incorporate it in modern living. Chantelle supports ethical living and veganism. chants_za@yahoo.com
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