It’s the 11th hour and you’re scrambling to finalize your gifts and preparations for the holidays. Ah the holidays – a time of family, food, gifts, parties and fun. And if you’re a human being, all of those things probably also have some pretty stressful aspects to them too. These can come in obvious forms as well as very subtle forms. Holiday gatherings and parties can be occasions where people who normally don’t spend a lot of time together or really understand eachother get together and spend hours and hours on end together. Then there’s the shopping and the crowds, the cold weather, the party-planning and the list-making, and a lack of time to get it all done to the level of perfection we desire, all while messing with our normal daily routine. Sound familiar?
Earlier this month, Oprah hosted Tibetan Buddhist nun and one of my favorite speakers/teachers Pema Chodron on her Super Soul Sunday show. On the show they talked about embracing difficult feelings like anxiety, stress, anger, and sorrow, and using them as opportunities to open up rather than what most people do, which is repress them or run away from them. They also talked about welcoming fear as a route to fearlessness. Although these ideas may seem totally counterintuitive and frankly, a bit nutty, to many people, I know from personal experience that they have helped me to be more open and flowing in a world that is constantly changing and not always going the way I want it to (does it ever? :)).
Check out this interesting article on “The Zen of Cooking” in Eating Well magazine. With families gathering and cooking for Passover and Easter this week, this is a great way to stay present and enjoy the richness of the simple things like food!
While some women were beating egg whites, I was beating opponents in court. As an overworked public interest lawyer, the last thing I wanted to do when I dragged myself home, I claimed, was slice and dice and tap my toes until onions glowed translucent.
The truth was I didn’t know how to cook, but after years of eating takeout, I longed for home-cooked meals. So I decided to sign up for a five-day Cooking and Meditation retreat at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, six hours south of my home in Marin County, California. I was familiar with The Tassajara Bread Book—considered a bread bible in some circles—which celebrates the miracle of dough rising, the sweet fragrance of loaves baking. Plus, not only would I have a measurable goal—surely, I’d learn to cook something—it would be relaxing. The Zen monastery sits in the secluded Santa Lucia Mountains. In the natural hot springs there, I could soak away the stress of “real life,” I thought.