Slow Sunday & instant raspberry jam
Early morning soft clouds and summer blue sky, I think it’s going to be a summery kind of day.
I was intending to write about autumn and Ayurveda, but yesterday we had summer and today where I live, we will have another summers day. And so I thought I’d write about how Ayurvedic seasonal advice is determined by the qualities the natural environment brings, when it brings them. This used to be more predictable, leading to Ayurvedic seasonal advice and dates, but we can’t always go by the dates anymore. For instance, when to carry out an autumnal cleanse depends upon when the seasonal qualities start to change to autumn, and this year is a strange one.
We need to respond to the changing qualities in the natural environment – when we notice them – because those same qualities are what we are made of, and continue to be made of through what we consume.
When you notice too much of the air and space qualities in your outer environment (vata dosha and autumn season), you need to consume less of them, to stay in balance. If you don’t and too much of the air and space qualities build in your system, you may start to experience symptoms that effect you nervous system and dry out your body. Anxiety, stress, restlessness, racing mind, waking between two and four in the morning, constipation, dry skin and joint pain are a few symptoms that can appear.
The foundation of any Ayurvedic healthcare plan begins with responding to the qualities within and without, in order to keep your system in balance. Our inner qualities are in flow and effected all the time by the qualities of our outer environment, increasing sometimes and decreasing at others.
The autumn season brings dryness, roughness as things dry out, wind, movement and coolness. And so, we need to balance these with the unctuous, peaceful, warm, grounded qualities that soups and stews bring, with woolly jumpers and hats, and hot drinks round a warm, cosy fire. But yesterday, although officially autumn here in the UK, this would not have been what we needed in southern England where the air was still and the sun was bright with temperatures of 22 degrees.
Ayurvedic healthcare is all about responding to the flow of life’s qualities, and we know how to do this instinctively.
I took the above picture in the height of the summer and every time I look at it, I instinctively want to start eating cooler, lighter foods and dressing in summer clothes; my body knows what it needs.
On the other hand when I look at this picture my body responds differently and my brain starts to let me know that I need other things, like warm drinks and stews and cosy clothes. The body knows, unless our minds have been filled with stress and addictions.
One of the key things to discover if you want to live a healthy life, a happy life; is who or what has control of your mind.writes a lot about the effect of the digital age on our minds. There’s lots of research out there that shows what a big impact digital devices are having on our brains. From an Ayurvedic view they can create imbalanced vata dosha leading to stress and a nervous system that is overloaded. writes beautiful posts about addictions of all sorts from the subtle to some of today’s major and untalked about topics.
Stress is an addiction that the body can very easily get hooked into. The news fills us up daily with stress and the brain doesn’t know the difference between our own stressful experiences and those we read about, it just stores the stress as our stress.
During my hypnotherapy course we learnt how the brain stores the stresses of the day in a metaphorical stress bucket, which gets emptied each night during REM sleep. Nowadays there is so much stress going into that metaphorical bucket the brain can’t process it all and the bucket starts to overflow. When that happens we begin to live from our survival brain, responding from a place of anger, anxiety or depression; and sometimes a mix of all three. This is when we can’t stop going over and over things in our thought processes, and only the negative neural networks fire up – the survival brain can only operate as a negative brain because it’s job is to look for what can go wrong, 24/7.
We live in a culture where this has become the norm. The answer, if this is effecting you, is to start living a simpler life, connect with nature’s rhythms, and feed yourself sattvic foods and experiences on a regular basis. Rooting your daily existence in this way, while phasing out the drama of today’s world.
Next week I will be writing about sattva and the Ayurvedic approach to bringing balance to the mind.
Easy low-sugar raspberry jam
Here’s a recipe for an easy raspberry jam that is made with chia, rather than pectin and lots of sugar.
On my allotments that my children and I used to go to I had lots of autumn raspberry plants. These can be costly, but at out allotment site we just shared the runners with each other until we all had a good patch of raspberries. This jam is lovely on toast and cakes and biscuits. It’s also good in trifle.
Ingredients (makes a tiny jar)
1 1/2 cups raspberry’s
1 tablespoon water
1-2 tablespoon brown rice syrup or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1 tablespoon chia seeds
Put all the ingredients in a pan and simmer for about 15 minutes - until you have a jam consistency. Keeps in the fridge for about 4 weeks.
So simple, and you could use other fruit.
As I sit slowly drinking from my warm morning mug, looking out of the half-opened windows; I see clouds of silken creamy white, layered by others which are charcoal wisps, almost transparent, floating in that early morning summer blue sky. There are no sounds, just peace, and I drink this in through my senses.
I consider picking up my phone and checking the Sunday papers, then think again and stare at the tree instead. The only movement, a tiny ripple at the edges of its outer leaves. I think of my sister reading a book in Vejer de la Frontera, before walking out onto the cobbled walkways that wind through that little town. I can hear the church bell in my mind and taste the tapas dishes. I can hear the fountain too and see it’s splashes, and remember the slow pace of the people there; backgammon and beer, evening strolls around white washed buildings on tiny winding streets. No one the slightest bit interested in filling themselves up with stress that doesn’t belong to them. The walls of this ancient city have seen it all over the centuries and they say, hush, enjoy the simple things.
Last night the sky was clear and I watched stars twinkle their way into being, to the sound of next doors cat pawing across the garden, down the little pathway and out onto the pavement for night adventures. During the day it had lain on a wall in the sun, its fluffy tail lazing across the warm stone.
Further along the road someone had been washing their car, and another neighbour was walking their dog. I passed them on my way to our local train station which is next to a park. It has one line and two little trains that trundle slowly back and forth. When you sit on the bench waiting for a train, all you can hear is birdsong and children playing. The view on the other side of the track, which you can almost reach out and touch, is trees, and bushes, and brambles and dandelions, wild flowers and butterflies and bees and birds. It is a treasure trove of nature. Reminding me of a land that existed when the pace of life was slower, more in tune with nature’s rhythms; but still exists today in little corners. Perhaps by focusing on this loveliness, it will spread. I think this is how it works.
This sattvic experience, fills the mind with nourishment. I’ll talk more about that, how it determines how we bring ourselves to the world and how, perhaps, that’s how our world gets created, next time. It’s a fascinating subject and it’s called Ayurveda and the gunas.
I’m going to dream of boats again tonight, and stars and a sky full of the sun going down, while the starry twinkles light up the sky like diamonds. Then I will remember warm Mediterranean seas near Vejer de la Frontera, and all the beauty I met on my trip over their.
These last two photos are of the old town of Jerez, on my way back to the airport.
Till Wednesday, warmest wishes,