Sunday, August 10, 2014

Soba Space

Soba Space.  That sounds like a pop-up twelve seater soba joint in Brooklyn.  But it's not.  But if it were there would be a secret hidden 4 stool location in the back called Ramen Room.  Where you get mind blowing bowls of steaming ramen.  And just like a place I saw on a show about noodles in Japan, you have to enter and eat silently.  Soon silence will be the new noise.  Or at least I hope so.

But this is not a post about noodles per se.  It is a post about space and the soba part comes at the end.

Given the last post, it's easy to say, "OH NO!" and freak out a little bit.  Even for me.  But I remind myself that there's no emergency, there's no pathology, there's not even a problem.

Although it's INCREDIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE, actually nothing has gone wrong.  And in fact I have a pretty good life.  A much better life than the majority of people in the world probably.  Sure sometimes I feel like my brain has hoodwinked and hijacked me, but it's workable.  It's the whole chrysalis thing.

The minute I say or you say, "Oh no, I can't bear this any longer!" then we've lost touch with compassion.  And what's the root of compassion?  It's compass.  It points us in the direction we need to go.

The Buddha of compassion is named Chenrezig which can be translated as "eyes kept open".  Eyes kept open to witness the suffering of the world with tenderness.  Can I keep my eyes and heart open to this experience in its totality?

Can I bear witness to and not exacerbate my own and others' pain?  Can I look on it tenderly with empathy and spaciousness?  Can I allow it to dissolve and release?

All the Buddhist and HeartMind practices are about dissolving and releasing.  Loving and letting go.  They all bring inner space.  And space is love.

And as Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche said, "How far do you have to move your finger to touch space?".

When the experience gets so constricted and tight and dark that we can't find space on our own, then it helps to have a kind friend who touches us gently, picks up our dirty compass, washes it off, and puts it back in our pocket.

That's enough.  And it's a lot.

If nothing else, I pray this journey transforms me into that type of friend, a kind friend who radiates space and keeps her eyes open.

Here's the soba part...another way to be a great friend is to deliver homemade organic food to housebound folks.  Soba is lovely because it cooks in 5 minutes and it's good hot, cold, or warm.  Just remember: after draining, rinse the noodles well or you'll end up with a gloppy, sticky mess.

Compassion Soba Salad
4 servings - all ingredients are organic

1 pkg Koyo brand organic soba noodles (8 oz)
2 medium carrots from your favorite farmstand, julienned
2 handfuls sugar snap peas, string removed
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 bunch cilantro, chopped 
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
toasted sesame oil

2 tbsp mellow white miso (leave out if your friend doesn't eat soy)
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger root
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp sunflower oil
juice of one lime

1. Place a big bowl of ice water in your sink; line two baking sheets with big floursack kitchen towels.
2. Bring a big pot of salted water to the boil; drop in the veggies and cook for 3 minutes; remove with strainer or big slotted spoon.  Place veggies in the ice water to stop the cooking.  
3. Bring the big pot of water back to the boil; add the soba bundles (take their little wrappers off first); stir gently; cook for 4 minutes then check; keep checking every minute; don't overcook
4. When done quickly remove from heat and drain into colander; rinse well with cold water; lay on one of the towels to dry; take the veggies out of their ice bath and lay on the other towel
5. Then immediately pick up the noodles and place into big mixing bowl; drizzle liberally with the toasted sesame oil; toss gently with your hands
6. Place all dressing ingredients in wide mouth quart canning jar; blitz with immersion blender; taste and reseason to your liking with more tamari or vinegar or sesame oil
7. Take all the snap peas and slice them lengthwise on the bias (don't be tempted to do this before you blanch them or they will get too watery), then add the veg and the dressing to the noodles; toss well; top with toasted sesame seeds and cilantro.  ENJOY!