Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Easy Chocolate Custard

Sometimes temporary can seem like a really long time.  It has only been four months since being hit by the aforementioned GMC truck.  In the scope of a life, four months is not much.  Yet it somehow feels like forever these days.  Four months of pain, displaced housing, lack of mobility, decreased freedom, and bureaucratic piles can turn into an eternity if I don't keep watch on my mind.  Time does not add up, right?  Time doesn't even exist.  I may have written that before, it bears repeating because we humans have such a habit of making time solid and eternal.  Four calendar months don't actually exist in this present moment. 

And yet I heard myself say the other day inside my head "I wish something really good would happen to me".  RED FLAG ALERT!  My next thought was "Oh no, I have slipped far from the path.  Best to tend to this now before it grows". 

Let us examine that particular sentence.  I wish something really good would happen to me.  Who is this "I"?  Just like time, you cannot find the "I".  Yep, doesn't exist except on the relative level where things are continually falling apart.  "I" is a construct of the deluded mind which does not see things as they truly are.  Oops.  There are different levels of "I" as taught by Tsoknyi Rinpoche and the only one we need to survive is called the Mere I.  Sadly, the "I" in this statement is not the Mere I, it is more like the Self-Cherishing I or the Reified I.  Part of the I, me, mine triune.  No bueno.

So this non-existent, self-absorbed I makes a wish.  Wishes are big trouble except when in the form of "I wish all beings could be free of suffering".  Otherwise wishes are the naughty cousins of hopes and fears; they are the playground of the egoic, habitual mind.  This kind of wish means "I cannot accept what is happening to me."  It creates an obstruction instead of an opening. 

Something really good would happen...When the egoic I wishes something good would happen, it means something materially comfortable. Anam Thubten reminds us again and again, don't take refuge in comfort. Take refuge in the dharma.  And, according to Buddhism, which clearly is the team I'm on, the best thing that could happen to me already did.  I have a human rebirth with a mind that functions and it is what we call precious because I have met with the dharma and the path to liberation.  Does it get any better than that? 

And finally back to "me".  I wish something really good would happen to ME.  Oh no, there it is again.  I is making wishes for me.  I absolutely loves me.  The problem is I only loves me.  I has completely forgotten everything else. 

When I took the time to look closer at what I was actually saying, I was a little embarrassed.  Which is why I'm posting it here.  Let it have lots of fresh air and sunlight.  Am I going to keep perpetuating the samsara in my mind, or am I going to break through and transform?  The choice happens every instant doesn't it?  Let's remind each other when we hear ourselves wishing only for comfort and temporary happiness.  The best thing that could happen is to be joyful no matter what.  No matter what.  And the choice is ours.

Thank you for your continued love and support.  Here is what's happening on the physical level...I am walking with a cane for the most part, and learning to walk on my own two feet some of the time!  I no longer wear a neck brace except in the car.  I am practicing turning my head and strengthening my neck muscles.  Physical therapy takes up a lot of my day.  Tomorrow I move to a different friend's house - thank you Carolyn! And I go in for another leg surgery on September 7th.  My knee is having a hard time bending so two screws will be removed to see if it helps. 

When we find ourselves feeling impatient, instead of wishing things were different we can make this delicious and quick Chocolate Custard.  It is so easy you won't believe it.  Share it with some friends and enjoy the moment!

6 oz dark chocolate, 70 percent organic fair-trade
1 1/4 cups half-n-half, organic (you can sub coconut milk if you like)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 organic farm fresh egg, room temp

In the bowl of a food processor, chop the chocolate to very fine pieces.  In a small pot, heat the half-n-half to just below the boil - you will see little bubbles on the edge.  Off the heat add the vanilla and cinnamon, whisk to combine.  Pour the hot liquid over the chocolate and let it stand for 45 seconds.  Process for 30 seconds.  With the machine running, pour the egg down the spout and continue to process for almost one minute.

Pour into little ramekins, juice jars, or cute cups.  Let chill in fridge at least 6 hours.  Can be made a day in advance.  Let stand at room temp 15 minutes before serving. 

Optional garnishes: whipped cream, chopped pistachios, toasted almonds, whatever you like



Sunday, August 5, 2012

Brave & Bendy

Bravery has become a central concept in my world.  Before this accident, I don't remember waking up and needing to focus on cultivating bravery.  I don't remember developing self-talk mantras aimed at helping me fearlessly face the day and tolerate pain.  "I am brave."  "I can do it."  "It's only pain."  "Whatever happens I can deal with it."  Or when the physical therapy leaves me biting a towel, whimpering, and crying, my favorite is "I am brave and bendy."  I say it over and over hoping the tight tendons in my knee will hear me.  I am brave and bendy.  I am brave and bendy.

Tsoknyi Rinpoche (above) has remarked many times that to be a good Buddhist practitioner we must have yak hearts.  And it proves true for this rehab retreat.  I must have a yak heart, no chicken hearts allowed.

The thing is...bravery works.  Bravery becomes a special force, a magical power, a source of strength.  In the morning, I start by saying "how does bravery feel in my body?".  Then I let the feeling permeate my cells. I want to marinate in bravery before going to the PT clinic.  Bravery is unique, it's a combination of openness, confidence, and willingness.  Sometimes bravery cries.  Sometimes bravery feels afraid.  But it keeps on going.  And not like a martyr.  But like a warrior.

My rehab requires that I engage in painful activities, it requires that the physical therapist push me beyond my limits.  I have to overcome feeling terrified to return to that clinic day after day.  I have to learn to walk again.  So bravery is essential.  And I think I'll be a better person for it.  I think intimacy with bravery opens my heart somehow.  It makes me want to encourage everyone...Be brave! You can do it!

Where in our lives are we shying away from our greatness, from our strengths?  Where do we need a little push?  Where is fear getting the best of us?  Can we be more brave?  Can we be more bendy?  How can we be more fearless, more flexible?

I encourage all of us to invite bravery into the day.  Whatever we think we cannot face, we cannot change, we cannot surmount, I think with a yak heart...we can.

Thank you to everyone who has inquired about my healing are some brief updates:

I am still in Santa Barbara.  I no longer wear a neck or leg brace!  I use only one crutch.  And I am slowly learning how to take baby steps on my own.  My main focus is on gaining flexion in my knee.  I am slowly learning to turn my head again.  I appreciate your continued love and support.  Thank you!