Healthy Kitchen

How healthy is your kitchen?

I’m not talking about how clean you keep your countertops or how many organic vegetables are neatly organized in your fridge; nor am I concerned with the state of the dishes, sink or your small wastebasket designated for composting. What I am talking about is how well your kitchen supports healthy food choices.

Yes, that is correct. Your kitchen makes decisions that affect your health.

The environment of the most important room in the house greatly dictates how one approaches food.

Traditionally, the kitchen was the center of activity in the home. In the Vedic science of establishment called sthapatya veda, the kitchen is the furnace from which warmth and life springs. In feng shui, the kitchen represents nourishment and prosperity, sustaining life. And in many other societies, the kitchen acts as a sphere of social, familial, and political connectivity. Literally, the center of life, the kitchen radiates heat, replenishes energy and connects society.

Today, however, the kitchen has become a wasteland of shiny appliances and unused barren spaces. Once the largest room in the home, the kitchen has now been reduced to a mere box. Barriers divide it from the rest of the house, keeping it segregated and confined.

The modern kitchen, rather than inciting words like warmth, comfort and love, is instead synonymous with adjectives like sterile and sanitary. It is no wonder we do not know how to feed ourselves. The very instrument used to create nourishment has been transformed into a metallic machine incapable of inspiring the brightest souls.

In order to reclaim our health, we must first reclaim the kitchen.

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How I love my kitchen.

If there is one thing I can always depend on, it is my kitchen.

I absolutely love cooking. In the kitchen, I am thrust into a ballet of organic symphony. A simultaneous unfolding of what can only be described as magic happens when I enter my kitchen. All the elements of the universe combine, forging a tremendous surge of creation that spawns in my imagination, at my fingertips, and in the air around me. I can breathe in the meal before I’ve even opened the fridge.

My passion is not just in cooking, but in living. The life of the kitchen is the pulse of my home. The beat of its heart is in the flames of the range.  The sound of its breath steadied in the sway of my knife. Each ingredient is an organ, playing its vital role in the development of something much greater than its components. The air is full of density, heavy with scent. Lingering notions of ingredients surrender their individuality for the greater good.

I can come into my kitchen and leave my life. Departure in the most serene sense. I become my meal. My body, my thoughts are no separate from the tiles I stand upon. Nor am I any different from the food I eat. My intentions are of love, to create a better world. There are so few moments of the day that are as tangible as the procession of creation that occurs in the kitchen. A timed and timeless unfolding of such ease and clarity is measured by procedure and translated through sensation. I must chop vegetables, heat a pan, and gain enlightenment.

In this process, my kitchen becomes an alter for which I am the priest. Both a servant and recipient of the wondrous bounty of unlimited energy. It doesn’t matter who I am, what I think, or how I feel. My kitchen always takes me in.

 

 

The Man With the Gun

We were now only three. We sat solemnly, silent with downcast eyes. The man with the gun continued to speak in foreign tongue, a language that resembled Portugese, but my ears could not be sure. Or was it my mind? Racing as it were, I was unable to comprehend anything other than the eminent fate that laid ahead. It was clear by now that this man had come to kill. He had already taken two. Now it was our turn.

The man’s friends stood by, cheerfully watching. There was no trace of remorse, guilt, or sympathy. To them, it was a game; a reason to avert boredom. I could see they were having fun. Out of the group a couple eyed the girl next to me, my love of a previous life. The woman spoke in tongues and gestured with her fingers. The man with the gun translated, “She wants you.” The woman crawled over the girl’s body with her filthy eyes, leaving their heavy impression on the soul of my love. She began to cry and although we had separated in another life, she grabbed for my hand, squeezed it and searched for the flame we had once let die.

In our last moments, she reclaimed the forgiveness and love of the universe. She lived in my eyes while confessions of love poured from her heart. “I love you,” she said with uncontrollable despair. She had already given up. I watched as her gaze began to distance, leaving this world in search for the next. With ample ambition, I intervened. The man with the gun was growing annoyed, his dissatisfaction was apparent.

“We will make it. Look at me, ” I called to her eyes, beckoning their return. A glint of recognition followed by a total release of identity. This surrender was ensued by words of the soul which battled for the present. Come back to me. Look into my eyes. If you can stay here it will be over. I watched as the color returned to her skin, the motion danced in her breath and the recognition of the self sparkled in her eyes. She had come to fight. And now it was my turn.

The man with the gun cocked his pistol. I closed my eyes. The person to my left was first, his head laid upon my shoulder. Three shots fired and I couldn’t tell if the universe had stopped. The weight of my eyelids was tremendous, so much so that I thought they would forever remain shut. I heard the air make way for barrel of the gun. I felt its long, blunted nose directed at my soul. I heard a click and I began to purge.

With all the force of the world, I cried; vomiting tears. Emotions born in my stomach were ejected up through my throat and out of my mouth. I was unable to stop the convulsions. I wanted them to continue. With each heave my being was lightened. I was transported into another existence where only I and myself existed. Spring cleaning of the soul. Anger fueled the roar, but by the time it was set free, I noticed there was only fear. As it floated out of my body, my tongue tasted love. Once released into the air, it was only love.

My hand was still grasped by the love of a life passed. I looked up at the man with the gun. He smiled. “Doesn’t it feel better?” I stood up and laughed, “Yes, it does.” I could see the rain had stopped. The pavement was wet with the remains of the evening. The sun had kept such an angle that it felt like breakfast, a beginning to a new day. I thanked him in all sincerity and he approached. We shook hands and he walked past. “Hasta luego,” I blurted in Spanish. He replied with only a warm glance. We would see each other again.

I took the hand of my lover and we walked into the morning.

—-

I awoke from Shavasana healed.

Changing Vibrations

If any of you have wondered where I have been for the past week, the answer is Mammoth Lakes, California. This beautiful safe-haven of endless mountain-scapes, relaxed country folk, and champaign powder snow is a one-time-a-year stop for me and some old college buddies. I am fortunate to stay in contact with such great people and even more lucky that we get to rendezvous in such a gorgeous, breath-taking place.

One thing about Mammoth is its vibration. Peacefully lethargic like being trapped under a large, comfortable blanket, Mammoth is the epitome of homeyness. Each visit, my host introduces me to old friends who have never strayed from the comforting shadow of the mountain. There is always that awkward moment awaiting imposed judgement, but unlike anywhere else in the world, the locals could care less. They boast of extreme pride: their love for their town is undeniable. And I can see why.

Spending time in Mammoth is like recharging your spiritual batteries. What’s even more spellbinding is that you don’t need to know what spirituality is to benefit from the penetrating vibrations of the town. Nature and its beauty only need be experienced to gain its wisdom. Happiness, calm, peace, and reverence are almost unavoidable in Mammoth. You’d have to be a hard-pressed pessimist to miss these waves.

Writing an article on Mammoth could easily turn into a book, but what I’d like to do is to expand on my experience returning to Manhattan.

The beautiful intensity of the city

No more separate than night and day, my flight from California to New York brought me across the threshold of environmental duality. Like stepping out of fire and into ice, my experience, my being was thrust into a completely different vibration. Although I had experienced a similar change going West, my trip back East was much more jolting. Traversing down hill is always much easier than heading up. And going to New York from Mammoth was like scaling a the face of an inverted skyscraper.

Once in the city, everything felt faster. People’s eyes were the first things I noticed. No one let their eyes relax. Scanning, pulsing, and shooting in all directions, eyeballs were going insane! No one could keep my gaze and everyone was too busy to stop searching their surroundings. Even patrons awaiting their flight—with ample time on their hands—were struck with an incredible eyeball immediacy. The next experience I noticed was my lack of involvement with the vibration of NYC.

Kind of like being left behind, I was a fish swimming downstream against an entire city of fish heading upwards. Bustling was the word. Everything was moving at the fastest pace possible. The energy was overwhelming and for the past two days I have been crippled by the weight of a sloth-like laziness.  Just moments ago did I finally feel like I’ve begun to shake of the binds of extreme relaxation. It would be safe to say that the vibration of Mammoth and New York have little to do with each other aside from the fact that they are both vibrations.

Mammoth's Breath-Taking Mono Lake

I find myself asking, why do I live in New York. And I see my answer as a duty. My life, my writing, and my passion is to help others and only in such a productive place as New York will my lump of coal turn into a diamond. Living in Mammoth, Fiji, or Costa Rica may be very enticing, but my purpose of existence in this life is not relaxation—at least not yet. And the vibration of New York is the most upbeat, exhilarating vibration of any place I have ever been. Getting work done here happens in your sleep.

To each vibration their own

What I’ve taken away from this mini-vacation is an appreciation for the inherent qualities of different locations. Like the people that inhabit them, each place brings a different vibration to the scene of experience. Understanding their subtleties (and sometimes no-so-subtleties) is the extravagant offering of life. Experience is the game and life is where is it played.