Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Coldykins



Boulder.  The high was 5 degrees the other day.  The high! That is Fahrenheit. I am on the verge of losing my mind.  How to keep softening, surrendering, and opening.  You only have to know me for about eight milliseconds before you discover how much I dislike winter.

I am so tired of feeling like life is against me.  A battle which I appear to be losing.  Of course, that is all in my mind.  The tightness.  The contempt.  The contraction.  Compassion is the balm for this ancient darkness.  There are places where it doesn't yet penetrate.  Muscles guarded by fear.

Everything has to be welcomed.  Nothing banished.  All of it massaged by the soothing hands of Mother Prajnaparamita.  

And yet I can't help think that I would much rather face my inner demons and dragons in the silent solitude of some sunshiney locale - unfettered by the contracture of winter's icy meanness.  My skin soaking up rays of warmth to melt my ego-clinging.  

In 2004 I moved back to Boulder.  How I could easily obsess about hating myself for returning to this town which refuses to let me go.  Of course, one doesn't make the best decisions under the duress of suicidal depression.  Still.  

Welcome the self hatred.  Give it a warm bath.  Spoon feed it something soft and sweet.  Tuck it into bed with a lilting lullabye.  Rub the back of her heart.

In the end, it all comes back to "what about me?" the root of all suffering.  

Can't just keep plucking the shoots.  Have to dig deep down into the cracks and crevices and find the tricky root.  The root of the root.  Clean it off.  Roast it.  Eat it.  

Holding on to the fantasy that at some point everything will come together and finally make sense.  That the pain and torment will have some higher purpose. 

Let everything tenderize my being.  Resist nothing.  Surrender to the flow of all events.  Create the causes for freedom.  Dissolve into my heart.

Spacious.  Kind.  And carefree.  

Less talking.  Less thinking.  Love and let go.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Winter Blah Humbug

I just ate a wonderful dinner.  Perhaps all foodies are this way...I feel compelled, since I ate alone, to share the wonderfulness of it with someone.  So here I am posting it on the World Wide Web.  I am sure no one really cares what I had for dinner.  Although it is a meal that busts a few myths, so perhaps that will intrigue to read on.  Or maybe, like me, you just love a good menu.

Braised Lamb Neck in Moroccan Spices with Pecorino and Fennel Risotto...lamb necks are surprisingly tasty and cheap.  You can get 100% grass-fed lamb almost anywhere.  Yum.  It sits overnight in a dry rub of cinnamon, ginger, clove, cayenne, black pepper, and coriander.  The risotto says cozy on a cold winter night. It is creamy and gooey with the sweetness of anise and the sharpness of pecorino.  Both plates got licked clean!

Okay, clearly the first myth is that Buddhist nuns are vegetarian.  I admire and respect the philosophy of being vegetarian.  I get it.  I've done it.  It doesn't work for my body.  To be honest, rather than people being vegetarian or vegan or omnivores or flexitarians or whatever, I would rather see people looking deeply into their food and making conscious choices.  Since I eat meat, I try to eat bigger animals which means less lives taken.  I don't eat what I call "One Life One Bite" such as shrimp or "One Life One Meal" such as lobster.  I also like to inquire after the animals' living conditions and diet.  I won't eat animals from feed lots or animals who eat GMOs.  I would love to buy meat only from farmers I know.  I hope one day that is a reality.

Second myth...people who live alone eat cold cereal and pints of ice cream for dinner.  Please cook a nice meal for yourself if you live alone.  Share some with a neighbor.  Invite over a colleague.  Deliver food to an elderberry.  It is such an act of kindness to make something special and nourishing...even if you're the only one at the table.  I made homemade chicken stock for the braise and risotto.  I marinated the lamb overnight.  I cooked it for 2 hours.  I stood at the stove and stirred risotto until it was perfectly cooked and creamy.  The secret ingredient to my delicious dinner?  L-O-V-E.  You are what you eat.

Third myth...risotto is hard to make.  Not.  This hearty and satisfying dish is simple and weeknight-friendly.  What a delight to stand in your kitchen, listen to some nice music, and stir a pot of Italian magic.  Please try it.

Fourth myth...you can substitute boxed chicken broth for homemade.  No and double no.  Some time ago, I put my foot down and said, "No more processed broth."  I also said no more store bought mayonnaise, but that wasn't in my dinner and is not topical, but it is delicious and I hope you'll try it.  Can you boil water?  You can make chicken stock.  It freezes well.  It is liquid gold.  Do yourself a favor and make some this weekend.

Well, I guess that's all I wanted to say.  I hope you are sitting down to a delicious meal, whether alone or with family and friends.  What a joy to commune around the table.  It sure helped beat my winter blahs today.  Let's promise each other to slow down, get into the kitchen, and eat with care.

Here is my meal prayer by the way, in case you are looking for one:  Thank you farmers, thank you lamb, thank you chicken, thank you workers.  May this food become my enlightened body, speech, and mind.  And, one day, may all beings have chemical free food.  ENJOY!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Gravity & Brevity



Who is in charge of your mind?  Your moods?  Your emotional reactions?  The government?  Your spouse?  Your boss?  Your dog?  No.  Of course not.  Each of us is uniquely in charge of our own mind.  What an incredible responsibility!  Can we embrace it for the benefit of all beings?  Can we take charge and become a loving witness and creative conductor of our inner world?  Buddha said "Become a lamp unto yourself."  Which by the way is more fun if you go to Target and get this certain light bulb which comes in strengths such as "reassuring, relaxing, inviting, and vibrant."  I chose the reassuring bulb.  Wanting to be a lamp unto myself, I turned it on and sat under the glow.  It did feel surprisingly reassuring.  I tested it out several times during the first day.  Walking to my entry table, turning on the reassuring bulb, and letting it shine on me.  Yes, I was beginning to understand.  Be a lamp unto myself.

As I progress on the healing path and the project of rewiring my brain and nervous system, the concepts of INSPIRATION and HUMOR are forefront these days.  I love a good project, don't you?  Brian Swimme, my favorite mathematical cosmologist and someone who I would invite to Sunday lunch, says that what inspires and delights us is the very same force of allurement behind the magnificent gravity that in its perfect way keeps everything in the universe in a superb state of tension.  Gravity is not a fortuitous coincidence and neither are your passions.  Our personal allurements are the universe's way of applauding itself.  What inspires you is not the same thing that inspires me.  We can honor our uniqueness by following our hearts.

If you feel challenged by your mind, your mood, your attitude, I invite you to first buy a reassuring light bulb at Target, then sit under it for a while and contemplate what you love in this world.  If you are not pursuing your allurements, then you are stunting the growth of the universe.  It is hard to be happy if we aren't doing what makes us happy.  And when we are happy, we can help others be happy too.  When we let our light shine, it effortlessly illuminates everything around us.

This is a primo reason to develop an interest in your own mind.  To learn to meditate and watch what in the world is going on inside your brain, heart, and body.  Gaze inward then listen to the narration.  My first therapist back in the early 90's said to me "You know, you don't have to follow every thought you have."  I was stunned.  Why hadn't anyone told me this before?  Why wasn't this pasted on billboards and broadcast on the radio?

What?  I can intervene in my thoughts?  I can choose my own thoughts?  I can dissolve thoughts with awareness?  Which leads to having some choice about my emotions and behavior.  Hello. Newsflash.  That sparked something in me that continues to this day.

Instead of being caught up with the swirlygig thought machine in the brain, how about dropping into the heart and pursuing our allurements, our heart's voice?  Be a lamp unto yourself.  Light yourself up.

One way to start, after the lightbulb purchase of course, is to start an INSPIRATION BOWL.  Choose a big and pretty bowl of your liking then start filling it with images and quotes and words that draw your attention.  I started mine a few weeks ago.  Every morning, or even several times a day, I choose a few clippings from my bowl.  Then I set them under my reassuring lamp (I'm not kidding, I really do.  You can come over and see it.)

Yesterday my inspiration was "Figs, Endless Summer, Retreat, Picnic".  Today it is a simple cut out that says "Now".  Tomorrow it might be "Delicious, Find your island, Mindful Silence".  Who knows?  The point is when I look at the images and words, it does something to my mind and molecules.  I remember something about myself.  I feel inspired.  My heart feels more open.  They are just words cut out of magazines and catalogs. It is that simple.

The second part of this current rewiring project is humor.  It goes along with inspiration.  It is a means of working with the mind.  Of cutting through the habitual negativity.  I have a couple cartoons placed strategically around the house.  They crack me up whenever I see them.  Then I have several funny lines from good movies stored in my memory.  I somehow work them into the daily mental proliferation of thoughts.  I smile every time at the same things over and over.  Here is a sure bet for a good giggle...when I say a certain planet's name I can't help from laughing.  Hint: it is not Mars.  Humor.  It is that simple.

Buddha was right.  Again.  Be a lamp unto yourself.  Ignite and delight yourself.  Inspire and surprise yourself.

I hope you will join me in Project Allurement, mingle gravity and brevity.  Imagine a planet aglow with inspiration.  Isn't that reassuring?

All my love, Thupten (the ''h" is silent)




Saturday, October 5, 2013

HEART CHAKRA SOUP



Isn't it funny that the heart chakra is green?  You'd think it would be pink or red.  But no, it's green.  You might have noticed I have a small obsession with the heart.  Your heart, the one beating now in your chest, is a powerhouse of esoteric, physical, electromagnetic, metaphysical, mitochondrial, and non-conceptual wisdom energy.  It is like having the best best bestest iPhone app in the entire seen and unseen universe.

The only problem is...most of us don't know how to use it.  Instead we are obsessed with the somewhat mediocre yet seductive app in our brains.  And the humble, noble heart doesn't mind.  It still beats.  It still shines.  It still listens to the needs of every cell and responds selflessly and lovingly.

What if you knew how to tap into that powerhouse of coronary amazingness?

With the help of meditation masters, neuroscientists, and mind-body therapists, I have devised simple and effective methods for just that.  The HeartMind Method.

But first...we eat soup!

During the cusp season of autumn, as the days meander from cold to hot, and we find ourselves in the bardo between summer and winter, it comforts the body to have some Heart Chakra Soup.  A green dream in a bowl.  Your farmer's market bounty will provide the right ingredients.  It is simple and fast to make.  Double the recipe and give half to a neighbor.  ENJOY! Love, Thupten

HEART CHAKRA SOUP
makes one quart

2 T olive oil
2 T butter
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, chopped
1/2 medium carrot, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
thyme and oregano, fresh or dried
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped

optional: 1/3 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche

1. heat the butter and oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  add the scallions, jalapeno, carrot, celery, herbs, and salt and pepper; sweat the veggies (sweat means cook but don't brown) for about 5 minutes, stirring a few times
2. add the zucchini; sweat for 7 minutes until quite soft; don't brown; add more salt
3. add enough water to just cover the zucchini-veg mix; cover and bring to the boil; lower heat to med and simmer for 20 minutes
4. turn off the heat; add the cilantro and parsley; cover and let steep 5 minutes
5. use immersion blender or blender and blitz soup until smooth; add cream or creme fraiche if desired

Note: always blend soups while warm, otherwise they will get gritty and lumpy.

Let the soup warm your heart.  May you be well!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Paradise


Stuck rhymes with duck.  Lately I feel stuck in this injured body.  Stuck in Boulder.  Stuck in my mind.

You know that scene in the first Star Wars movie when the characters, including Princess Leah, are being pressed upon by the crushing walls?  That is how I feel.  Not so much the bilateral swirligig hairdo, but more the "I am about the be crushed to death" feeling.

I am not able to work because of my physical and mental issues.  I was denied Social Security because they say I can move my arms and think for myself.  I can't find a lawyer to represent my appeal.  I was hit by a driver who didn't have enough insurance to cover my medical expenses.  He has no assets, so there is no relief there.  My health insurance plan is crap.  I was turned down by the Victim's Assistance Fund because PT and manual therapies are not considered necessary medical expenses, although they are healing me.  I have been stuck with this condo during a lengthy litigation and reconstruction process because of the developer's greed and speed.  Foodstamp benefits are decreasing because lack of federal funding.  My PTSD sky-rocketed after being hit by another car in another crosswalk on July 4th this year.  I just found out my leg and neck are still broken.  I can't walk more than two blocks and I can't lift more than a gallon of water and I can't travel by myself.  Winter is coming and I feel afraid.  I don't see the way out.

It is like rock climbing.  Being stuck on a sheer face of a multi-pitch climb.  You HAVE to go up.  But I am tired, and my legs are shaking.  I'm sweating and panicking.  My mind is myopic.  

Stuck rhymes with duck.

Anam Thubten says, "Paradise is the awakened mind".  How to wake up?

Go inside.  Pause.  Breathe with your heart.  Let the brain fall into your low belly.  Feel your whole body.  Lick your lips and say "Ahhhhhh" then "Shhhhhhh".  

Find your HeartMind.

Suddenly a teeny tiny microscopic rock reveals itself!  Put the tip of my toe on that and power myself up to the next hand hold.  Hooray!

Aren't options amazing?

I have options.  I know something about something.  And it doesn't have to do with Social Security, Social Services, lawyers, bureaucrats, insurance companies, agencies, realtors, builders, or systems.  

It has to do with the heart.  With the body.  This is the awakened mind.  Paradise lies within.  The body is always in the present moment.  Embody it.  The heart is witnessing every cell.  Become aware of it.

Be and know, without thinking.  That is paradise.  That is your HeartMind.  This is my little foothold.  And it's the only option any of us need.

Please join me in the coming months as I continue to offer HeartMind classes and individual sessions.  I hope it can help you.  I know it has helped me.  I wouldn't be here without it.

With love and gratitude, Thupten


Sunday, September 15, 2013

EMOTIONAL FIRST AID

EMOTIONAL FIRST AID
3-Part Class
Calming the Mind, Soothing the Nervous System, 
and Restoring Mental Balance

Saturdays 2-3 pm
Sept 21, 28 and Oct 5
North Boulder - $30
Register: 805.698.4712

This is a body-based, heart-centered class focused on teaching you how to manage emotional distress.  The methods taught are scientifically proven to get you out of reaction and into response.  These simple and effective tools are invaluable during 
times of overwhelm, loss, and shock/trauma.  They aid you in navigating
change and transition.

Each class includes guided meditation instruction for emotional well-being,
as well as tools for calming/centering yourself throughout the day.

Please feel free to share this email with your communities.

Join me in healing after the storm.
REGISTRATION NECESSARY: 805.698.4712
Thupten Tsondru Paldon

After receiving a Master's Degree in Somatic Psychology, I became a Buddhist nun.  It is my mission in life to share a synthesis of ancient wisdom, bodymind tools, and neuroscience discoveries with people who want to expand their hearts and minds.  One of my specialties is emotional first aid - both professionally and personally - I know these tools help.

If you cannot make the scheduled class, please call me regarding private sessions.
805.698.4712


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ouch!

Today I am utterly and thoroughly grief-stricken.  Heart broken.  Drenched in a watercolor sadness.  Usually when we feel something strong like this, our tendency is to want to run away or completely indulge.  The problem is we stop feeling and we start thinking, strategizing how to make the feeling go away or creating a story about how and why we feel so badly.  

For years I have been aiming to practice the Buddhist instruction of "don't act out, don't repress".  This is perhaps one of the trickiest parts to being human.  How do we just let ourselves feel completely the what is of the moment, and then like a passing thunderstorm, let it dissolve?

Descartes said "I think, therefore I am".  But he may as well have said "I think, therefore I am suffering".  Our obsession with our thinking minds leads us to create suffering upon suffering.  I could think up a million and one reasons why I feel the way I do.  Give you a laundry list of the sad and frightening things I've experienced. 

But what if I just let it be?  Whatever it is, just let it be exactly how it is without commentary?  What if I accept this gripping pain?  Tune into how it feels in my body, give it permission to move, to wash over me, to help me surrender to the moment.  Moment by moment.  

I don't have many other options.  Drugs and alcohol?  No.  Sex?  No.  Exercise?  No.  Death?  No.  Comfort eating?  No.  Television?  No.  Shopping?  No.  And my stories I've heard so many times before.  Plus I'm exhausted.  So perhaps I have been pummeled into the fortunate position of being completely alone with nowhere to go except inside, with no escape except learning to abide.  It's hard and it hurts.

Descartes was somewhat right, thinking does create the ego-sense of "I am".  Yet it's a fallacy, a misperception, the core illusion of our confusion.  The ego can't exist without the thoughts it generates.  "I am" falls apart in the absence of thinking.  Lost in thought is delusion.  Thought, and its naughty cousin, talking, keep us imprisoned.  We could get by on much less thinking and much less talking.

Drop the thinking.  Find your heart.  FEEL your heart.  Make space for emotion to move.  Let raw, naked emotions arise, crest, and dissolve.  Witness the energy and sensations.  

Let go of the urge to justify, analyze, compare, question, suppress, deny, act out, ruminate, wallow, quantify, stagnate, reject, exaggerate, minimize, modify, perseverate, review, fix, embellish, theorize, and judge.  

Look.  See.  Let it be.  Liberate.

This is how to master emotion.  Feel.  That is the big secret.  Sensation energy happens in the body in the present moment.  Resist making residue.  Love and let go.

Abide like the sky.

May we all find the fortitude to feel, to be human, to be gentle with ourselves, and to open our hearts.  Let this be our practice.  It is simple.  It is not easy.  Think less.  Feel more.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

How are you?


How are you?  It seems like such a simple, benign question.  Yet it almost always catches me off-guard.  Is anyone else as baffled by "How are you?" as I am?  I like the the memorized, robotic answer you practice when learning a new language.  Memorize the question.  Memorize the answer.  Como estas?  Muy bien, y usted?  How great is that.  When speaking Spanish, I am always very good.  End of story.

But in English, I get a little confused.  Do they mean how am I now, in this exact present moment?  How am i generally?  How am I spiritually, financially, psychologically?  How am I compared to how they think I am?  How am I compared to how I used to be?  Is the question rhetorical?  Metaphorical?  Casual?  Am I supposed to be honest? How now brown cow?

I get caught up in my own mind games just by being asked "How are you?". Sometimes it seems an invitation to list a bunch of complaints, or to list a series of accomplishments, or to list how many errands I have done so far today.  I'm perplexed.  And since it happens quite often, it seems time to face the demons.

To bring a complete end to this daily dilemma, I have devised a study.  We will call it the "How Are You Study".  It is longitudinal.  Which means it will last a long time.  Anyone can participate and you can opt out at any time.  Here's how it goes:

For the first ten years of the study, starting now, every time you are asked "How are you?"  these are the answers you can choose from...

1. Better than I've ever been.
2. Phenomenal.
3. Super deluxe.

Notice the responses you get from other people.  Write them down.

So that part lasts until July 21st, 2023.  The middle part lasts until 2033, it includes neutral answers.  Here are the replies for the years 2023 to 2033:

1. Beep beep.
2. Woof woof.
3. Oink oink.

Keep a journal of how the neutral responses make you feel when you use them.

For the last part of the study from years 2033 to 2043, we will experiment with "negative" answers.  Here are the choices:

1. Tired.
2. Overwhelmed.
3. Stressed.

But then go on and on, elaborating on why you feel that way and who is to blame for your feelings.  Write down how that makes you feel.  Remember:  you can opt out at any time.

Okay, then in 2043, we will all get together on July 22nd in a location of my choosing, probably the Canary Islands, and we will discuss our findings.  Briefly.  Mostly we will just enjoy each other's company in complete silence, watch the ocean, meditate, and enjoy delicious food.  

To officially enter the study, raise your left hand over your heart, feel its beat, breathe deeply, and say "I promise for the next ten years, when someone asks me how I am I will say either "Better than I've ever been. Phenomenal.  Or super deluxe.  I realize that all my feelings are valid and I will give space to them even when I am answering the question with the requisite answers.  For purposes of the study, I will stick to the outlined replies and see what happens."  Now walk up to a mirror and kiss yourself on the lips.  How are you? 


Friday, July 5, 2013

WOWGURT!

Reconstruction of mind, body, brain, and condo pictured above.  House and I are on the healing path...it is a daily effort and takes a lot of helping hands.  I bow in gratitude to everyone who is supporting my life, health, and happiness.  Thank you.  Merci.  And gracias.

Lately I have been pondering the myriad miracles of daily life.  I recently read "Pronoia" by Rob Brezsny and can't say enough good things about it.  The subtitle is "How the Whole Universe is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings".  The book helps turn the mind to what is working, what is good, what is inspiring, what is amazing.

How much WOW FACTOR do you have in your life?  I say bring it on.  Pile it on.  Become a hoarder of wow.  Actually it is easy.  For starters, just think that you came from a sperm and an egg uniting somehow and then a bunch of things happened and cells started forming.  And now look.  A full-grown human body.  And for all its problems, it is actually working pretty well.

My second wow element is to invite the BIG AND into your life.  Here's how:  I have PTSD and I am happy.  I am physically handicapped and I make jokes.  I have daily pain and I am cheerful.  I get triggered, frustrated, annoyed and inspired, uplifted, amazed.  AND.  It's the new but.  Try it.

If you really want to be wowed read "Journey of the Universe" by Brian Swimme.  His eloquent, short book of how the universe began and where it is now will knock your socks off.  I mean come on, the whole universe started out as a teeny, tiny speck and now look.  A full-grown, expanding universe.  All the elements, including the ones in your body were created from stars.  We are made of stardust.

The final wow...and this is going to require some kitchen time, is YOGURT.  I read that cultured foods are shown to help PTSD.  So don't you know I started making my own fresh yogurt.  It fun, easy, and yummy AND it will really wow you.  The first time I made it, I couldn't stop opening the fridge to look at the jar sitting on the top shelf, aglow in the light, like a little miracle right in my kitchen.  Even if you don't eat dairy, make some yogurt.  I promise you will have fun and you can wow your neighbors with a gift - add some organic strawberries for extra delight.

Here's how my wowgurt journey started.  Like all good things, there were dark moments, but...i mean and, in the end, wow won the day.

I had high hopes of using local, organic, grass-fed, raw milk bottled in glass.  This is not a simple wish as it turns out.  You would have an easier time securing medical marijuana than you would getting something as wholesome and natural as milk from a happy, local cow who dines on grass, not corn and soy.  And has never ingested anything made by Monsanto.  I called several grocery stores, dairy companies, and researched the world wide web.  In the end, I compromised.  I found organic, grass-fed milk in a carton.  For now, it will do.

You might live somewhere where it is easier to get the coveted local, organic, grass-fed, raw milk in a bottle.  Perhaps that deserves an acronym...OGFRMB.  Ogfrimbee.  We must all demand it, so it finds a place in the market!

Once you have your milk, here's what you need.  The directions are simple AND you have to follow them exactly, or you won't get wowgurt, you'll get yuckyurt.  Trust me.

INGREDIENTS
1 quart OGFRMB or other best milk you can find
3 tbsp plain yogurt with active cultures (once you have your batch you can use your own)

EQUIPMENT
2 quart stainless steel or non-reactive pot
Candy or deep-fry thermometer
Large stainless bowl
Small whisk
Wide mouth glass jar with lid
Large towel or small blanket

METHOD
1. put milk into pot over medium heat, bring to boil
2. when milk boils and starts to poof up, turn off heat
3. pour into bowl, put in themometer
4. let temperature drop to 110 degrees
5. meanwhile, whisk 3 tbspn yogurt in the bottom of jar
6. when milk reaches 110, pour a little into the jar, maybe 1/2 cup and whisk
7. pour in rest of milk, put on lid
8. wrap jar in towel, place in another bowl or box to protect
9. place in warm location and if possible, turn on a warm light above it
10.  wait about 5 hours and check, if it looks thick then refrigerate, let it sit up to 7 hours longer for thicker and tangier wowgurt

HOLY COW YOU JUST MADE WOWGURT!  Isn't it fun?  And no silly plastic yogurt container to recycle.  And you can use the milk you love.  You can make extra and give to a friend.  You can strain it for extra-thick greek yogurt.  You can add flavorings.  You can reflect on the gifts nature gives us to make things.  That somehow milk can become wowgurt.  That you are made of stardust.  That the whole universe is conspiring to shower you with blessings.







Wednesday, April 17, 2013

PESTO CHANGE-O!

Today is the year anniversary of The Accident.  Actually it is Accident #2, in 1985 I was in a small car that was hit by a big bus.  We all survived.  I broke lots of bones and didn't walk for a year.  Sound familiar?  Hmmm.  

Three weeks ago, I moved back to Boulder.  As it happens, my condo is also in a period of rehabilitation.  It is about to be deconstructed and then reconstructed.  I am not looking forward to living for months inside a construction bubble, sharing my space with saws, hammers, drills, and the workers.  Not my idea of a healing environment if you know what I mean.  

So there is plenty of material to bring to The Path.  This is the big time folks.  I find that if I practice Buddhism constantly then actually things are quite fine.  But then darn it don't you know I slip back into my ego and things go awry.  Oscillating between awareness and non-awareness, that's how it's done.  With a soft heart and a strong spine.

But I digress...I write today for two reasons.  One is to share a delicious and Spring-y pesto recipe that I know you'll adore.  And the other is to unveil my new name.  That's write, there's no better day than today to start fresh.  Out with the old and in with the new.

First pesto!  I encourage to make a trip to the nearest farmer's market or store and make this for dinner tonight.  Yum and double yum.  Everyone who eats this LOVES it and wants more.  Besides it can be gluten-free, dairy free and even raw.  Who said you can't please everyone?  P.S.  it will taste better if you use organic ingredients.

PESTO CHANGE-O
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (substitute Italian parsley if you like)
1 thingy mint, chopped
(the whole herbage should come to about 4 loose cups)
1 cup roasted salted pistachios OR raw almonds (I never eat non-organic almonds, they are sprayed with Hexane which is a neurotoxin)
3/4 cup olive oil
sea salt
pepper if you like

Just put everything in a food processor and blitz it up.  Pulse at first to get things uniform and keep an eye on it so you don't make mush.  Some texture is nice.  If you plan on adding cheese at the table, don't add too much salt.  It gets better with age.

Serving Idea
I like it with brown rice penne- add lemon zest and pecorino for extra goodness, and green peas!  Serve alongside some roasted zucchini and carrots.  Or toss a big arugula salad with a lemon dressing. Enjoy!

OKAY NOW FOR THE NAME CHANGE:
I noticed this subconscious gossip, as Trungpa Rinpoche called it, going on in my head.  Am I lucky or unlucky?  Everything getting weighed against this question.  Was that lucky?  Maybe it was unlucky.  Who knows might be lucky.  Recently someone was asking me about my trauma history.  When I finished, he said "Wow you're so unlucky".  Without pause, I retorted "No, I'm lucky".  

So there you have it.  I AM LUCKY.  I am Lucky Thupten-Tsondru.  Which when translated is "Lucky Zealous Holder of the Dharma.  You can just call me Lucky.  Really. In case you think I'm joking, I'm not.  Please call me Lucky.  

With that I sign off.  I think I'll have some pesto change-o for lunch.  Happy eating and happy spring.  With all my love, Lucky 



Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy New Year!


Look! I've turned into a big gray cat!  Not really.  This is Ramsey my new furry friend.  If I've turned into anything it would be a lizard.  And not because I like to bask in the sun.  More because over the last few months I have lost the faculties of the incredibly complex and useful part of the human brain, the neo-cortex.  I've come down with something and it isn't the flu.  You might commonly call it PTSD, but I like to call it a trauma reaction, trauma upheaval, or the trauma vortex.  Call it what you like...lizard-brain reality, human or not, strongly resembles darting around fearing for one's life.  In fact the lizard-brain in each of our heads learned what it knows through about ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION YEARS of conditioning back in the day.  150,000,000 YEARS!  That is a lot.  A lot a lot.  

And don't you know I sometimes feel that old.  Trauma is exhausting.  It is enough to deal with healing bones, chronic pain, physical therapy, transportation logistics, social services, social security, cooking, cleaning, laundry, learning to walk, learning to move my head but now I have to do it all with a brain that is telling my body that I'm often in a life-threatening situation.  Forget about the left-prefrontal cortex folks, I'm talking hippocampus and amygdala are running the show here.  

What does that look like?  Overwhelm.  Moodiness.  Lots of tears.  Fear.  Panic.  Helplessness.  Hopelessness.  Fatigue.  Did I mention I'm tired?  Heart beating fast.  Chronic muscle tightness.  Flashbacks.  Negative outlook.  Trauma is basically the anti-dharma.  Either that or the best, well-thought out obstacle to point one in the direction of dharma practice.  Ego loves trauma because it makes one feel so solid as if everything is very important that happens to the big M-E.  And so it hangs on for dear life.  And yet I want to let go.  The Mere I in me wants to let go, be free, be light, flit about, live in service, giggle, and rest in the nature of mind.  Ever see a lizard do that?

The thing is...trauma is not psychological.  You can't think or conceptualize your way out of it.  It's physiological.  So I have begun the arduous task of rewiring my brain and body.  Because what else can I do?  There is only one way out and it's through.  No detours. It becomes clear how people who have experienced trauma turn to drugs, alcohol, and suicide.  It is really painful.  It is isolating because the world seems sharp, abrasive, loud, over-stimulating, and dangerous. And it feels like most people don't really understand what it's like to live like this.

I write this to advocate not only for myself, but for everyone who is in the midst of the trauma vortex.  Trust me...every day you come into contact with one of us.  Or maybe you are one of us.  With these words I open a dialogue so that we can begin to soften and give each other safe, compassionate safe-havens for recovery.  Let us open our ears, our eyes, and our arms to those among us who need some extra TLC as a way to find their true nature which is always luminous and loving.   

It is possible to heal.  We live in a fortunate time when much research has been done on trauma resolution.  I am lucky to know several leaders in the field and I rely on them every day in my practice and contemplations.  If you are experiencing trauma upheaval, please seek out someone who can listen and guide you.  I will be adding links at a future time.  For now I hold you in my daily prayers, you are not alone.

Thank you to all of you who have inquired into my situation lately.  With gratitude I bow to you who listen, offer compassion, make me laugh, and remind me of sugatagarhba.  May your kindness benefit all beings.

As today marks the lunar new year, I wish you a blessed Year of the Water Snake.  May it be free of suffering and filled with inner world peace.