Love An Aul Protest Song!

Nonviolent Communication

Here’s where I’m at … running alongside to everything else I’m doing right now, I have this in my ear … Nonviolent Communication, the audiobook, and I’m loving it.

It is so helpful, interesting and USEFUL … I’m hoping that soon I will be making more time to contribute to my blog, but for now, I thought I would share this as a quickie, and would love to hear any feedback you have.

If you’re interested in improving your relationships in life, whether its with your lover, or your workmates, your children or your mother, or your relationship with YOURSELF … whoever! … If you’re open and ready, and willing to put in the work, this will change your life!!

IT’S CERTAINLY CHANGING MINE.  IT IS, IN FACT, ENRICHING MY LIFE!

Wishing you enrichment too!

Love Lila, xo

Lisa Mitchell.

I love her voice, and I’m CRAZY about this Like A Version cover, can’t stop listening to it over and over!

Compassion and Empathy

Compassion and empathy are often confused, and used interchangeably in that confusion.

A term floating around of late that you may have heard is ‘COMPASSION FATIGUE’, and from the compassion training course I did with Margaret Cullen and Dr. Erika Rosenberg of Stanford University, and attending a separate and wonderful talk by Dr. James Doty, I learned this, what I am about to and would like to share … I think I’ve got it correct to say:

Compassion is the recognising of the suffering of others, and it usually involves an emotional response in the witness, along with the desire to help or alleviate this suffering.

Empathy, as characterised by researchers, is the intuitive or emotional experience of another person’s emotions or feelings. For example, when you might cry when a friend tells you their story which is very sad – this is empathy.

SO EMPATHY IS THE RESPONSE TO COMPASSION.

Now if you have heard the term COMPASSION FATIGUE, which is used to describe a type of ‘burn out’, experienced by people in the healing industry, for example: counsellors, nurses and psychologists etc, you might choose to remember that compassion is not the thing that fatigues us, it is in fact an unhealthy and/or inappropriate application of empathy that wears us out.

And you don’t have to be a professional to experience this.  You might be the best friend that’s sworn to secrecy, and listens to all the problems of a friend, and about the suffering they endure, and perhaps you are then left with the residue of these sufferings, even though they are your friend’s experiences not your own.

I guess the reason I raise it, is because I heard it being used today, and I’m not sure I made as eloquent a response as I would have liked.  I feel I pointed out the difference in a way that looked like I was correcting the person and under the circumstances that was inappropriate and unsophisticated of me. That person may never see this but if nothing else, me writing it down here, is at least a practice for me to articulate what I feel is important to raise on the topic.  

And maybe at the same time I can bring some awareness about the importance of us continuing to practice compassion, without fear of fatigue.

Research suggests that teenagers are experiencing more depression and anxiety than they did a decade or more ago, with doctors reporting an escalation in the most severe cases.  One of the symptoms experienced, when people become depressed, and experience anxiety, is a sense of isolation.  A sense of having no one to talk to, a perception that nobody will understand, and a sense of guilt for the flat (at the very least) feelings these conditions bring.  And so it can create a vicious circle.

This is just one example of why it is important for me to keep practising compassion.  

Do we not, in these times of increased depression and anxiety, need to heighten our awareness of those around us, of those who may feel lonely or isolated, of those in need?  If you don’t think so, then what about this:  if the incidence of depression and anxiety is increasing so much, then is it not probable that it could be you experiencing this, or your child, or someone you love or care about?  Would you want them to experience these feelings of despair, and feel so all alone?

It really is a practice.

The pace of life seems to be getting busier and more frantic day by day, it is so EASY for us to say, I don’t have time to worry about others, or spend hours listening to so and so’s problems, I’ve got my own family to worry about, and that’s ok … I think a lot of people would like to be able to help but just can’t find the time that is required.  It’s understandable, it’s just the way things seem to be …

Image via mindful.org

Image via mindful.org

However, I just wonder that as humans, if we can really afford not to keep practising compassion.  

This is not just me being all ‘let’s-all-live-in-love-and-peace-like’!

Charles Darwin described how natural selection favoured the evolution of compassion, regardless of what originally motivated such behaviour;

Practising compassion is necessary for the human race to survive!

Even if we ourselves don’t have time or space or ability to practice the EMPATHY that may be required to help someone else, at least having the awareness that they are in need is a starting point.  Perhaps we can work in groups to work out ways to help.  Hell, maybe we could just say good morning when we pass them in the street, or pay for their coffee anonymously, which doesn’t cost much – in either time or money, but surely there will be SOMETHING we each can do, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, to make a little difference in that person’s world.  

Maybe it’s just about becoming a little bit more conscious of those around us.  That is where the seeds of compassion can grow.

So you see, it’s not the compassion we need to temper, for some of us it is the empathy.

As such, maybe let’s not continue to use the term compassion-fatigue anymore, because compassion is the seed we want to grow!

Whilst some of us are gifted, overqualified and overworked in the empathy department, that is a separate issue.  To label that compassion-fatigue may have disastrous effects for humanity!  

Learning how to draw boundaries on our levels of empathy, is vital to counter-act EMPATHY-FATIGUE.

I will be outlining some of those in a future post.  But for now, I just wanted to point out the basic difference between compassion and empathy, to encourage the practice of compassion, and to highlight the idea of empathy-fatigue over compassion-fatigue.

Because when I ask myself the questions:

Can we really over-practice compassion?

Is it likely we’ll get burnt-out emotionally or otherwise, by practising having awareness of a work-mate’s needs, or sensing disappointment in the girl who takes my coffee order every morning, or wondering what kind of a day the bus-driver’s having?

Is it helpful to me as a human in this world, where everyone and everything is connected, to cultivate a sense of separation from others, the inability to read the expression of those around me?  

I come back to the word I don’t like to consciously use too much!  –

NO!

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Compassion is just noticing, just a consciousness, an awareness, that step BEFORE having to actually DO anything.  Yes, it IS a verb, it’s a practice, perhaps it takes a discipline to cultivate it, but can this really wear us out?

Crucial

Once we are practising compassion, we need to be mindful how and when we apply empathy.

But let’s keep cultivating our compassion, after all, someday it will probably come back to us.

 

 

25 Things Skilled Learners Do Differently

Image via InformEd

What an interesting article!  Not just for academic students … but also for students of life!

If you’re interested in learning and growing as a human, then I think this provides fab tips!  And I see so many YOGIC correlations, which of course I like!

The article is taken from the fabulous InformEd and starts off like this :

“Imagine for a moment that all human beings had the same IQ, but that some of us knew how to tap into it better than others. How would we approach education differently?

For starters, we wouldn’t have to concern ourselves nearly as much with boosting students’ academic confidence. If a student knows she has the same capacity to succeed as her fellow learners, then she’ll be less likely to give up or drop out. In a similar vein, students would view test scores not as measures of self worth, but as evaluations of a chosen learning strategy. When Johnny sees that, despite his best efforts, he scored twenty points lower on the biology exam than Sally, he thinks, “I’m approaching this the wrong way” rather than, “She’s smarter than me.” And he then goes on to improve his memorization technique or ask more questions during the next unit.

The thing is, this “imagined” scenario isn’t far from reality. Human intelligence isn’t all that variable. For example, on the IQ scale, about 2 out of 3 scores fall between 85 and 115, and about 19 out of 20 scores fall between 70 and 130. Put another way, only 1 out of 20 scores differs from the average IQ (100) by more than 30 points.

What does vary–and widely, at that–are learning strategies. Many of us approach a concept with the same potential to learn it, but it only ends up sticking for some of us. Why is this?

Psychology offers several explanations. For instance, we know that the brain responds better to spaced practice than it does to cramming (at least in the long term), forced recall instead of review (quizzing yourself rather than re-reading material), and associative rather than isolated memorization (e.g. mneumonics).

We also know that people who think about their own learning, make a habit of asking questions, use what they’ve learned, teach what they’ve learned to others, and enjoy the learning process on an intrinsic level all become better learners.

The good news is, these are all strategies and habits that can be adopted through practice. Why some of us master them earlier than others is another topic, one that may have something to do with parenting, environment, and even genetics. But the point is, we’re all capable. The smartest, most successful people in the world wouldn’t be where they are today if they weren’t skilled learners. So let’s examine which strategies we should be perfecting and how they can serve us in the long run.”

Read the 25 Things Skilled Learners Do Differently HERE

True Love

A beautiful friend just sent me this fabulous piece of dialogue, between Ekhart Tolle and his partner Kim Eng.  A few of us will be attending a Mediation and Yoga workshop with Kim, that’s coming up in November here in Bondi.

It’s possible you might find parts of what he is talking about difficult to grasp … don’t give up, it is such beautiful truth, but I guess it takes a lot of work for us to be able to see it … and more to BE it!  But oh, such satisfying work!

CLICK HERE – THIS MIGHT HELP … I have  a limited number of DVDs of Eckharte Tolle “Awakening In The Now“, with 50% slashed off!   It is such a pleasure to sit and listen to what he has to say, and will go a long way to expanding your mind and your consciousness, I find it is such a huge help in the practice of living life with less suffering.  Personally, I find his teachings, comforting and exciting at the same time.  Mind blowing really!

I do not own this material.  This is from Eckhart Tolle’s Site.

Below I have taken his contribution to the dialogue for you to read at a glance.

Eckhart Tolle:

What is conventionally called “love” is an ego strategy to avoid surrender. You are looking to someone to give you that which can only come to you in the state of surrender. The ego uses that person as a substitute to avoid having to surrender.

The Spanish language is the most honest in this respect. It uses the same verb, te quiero, for “I love you” and “I want you.”

To the ego, loving and wanting are the same, whereas true love has no wanting in it, no desire to possess or for your partner to change. The ego singles someone out and makes them special. It uses that person to cover up the constant underlying feeling of discontent, of “not enough,” of anger and hate, which are closely related. These are facets of an underlying deep seated feeling in human beings that is inseparable from the egoic state.

When the ego singles something out and says “I love” this or that, it’s an unconscious attempt to cover up or remove the deep-seated feelings that always accompany the ego: the discontent, the unhappiness, the sense of insufficiency that is so familiar.  For a little while, the illusion actually works.  Then inevitably, at some point, the person you singled out, or made special in your eyes, fails to function as a cover up for your pain, hate, discontent or unhappiness which all have their origin in that sense of insufficiency and incompleteness.

Then, out comes the feeling that was covered up, and it gets projected onto the person that had been singled out and made special – who you thought would ultimately “save you.”

Suddenly love turns to hate.

The ego doesn’t realize that the hatred is a projection of the universal pain that you feel inside.  The ego believes that this person is causing the pain.  It doesn’t realize that the pain is the universal feeling of not being connected with the deeper level of your being – not being at one with yourself.

The object of love is interchangeable, as interchangeable as the object of egoic wanting.  Some people go through many relationships.  They fall in love and out of love many times.  They love a person for a while until it doesn’t work anymore, because no person can permanently cover up that pain.

Only surrender can give you what you were looking for in the object of your love.

The ego says surrender is not necessary because I love this person.  It’s an unconscious process of course.  The moment you accept completely what is, something inside you emerges that had been covered up by egoic wanting.  It is an innate, indwelling peace, stillness, aliveness.  It is the unconditioned, who you are in your essence.  It is what you had been looking for in the love object.  It is yourself.  When that happens, a completely different kind of love is present which is not subject to love / hate.  It doesn’t single out one thing or person as special.  It’s absurd to even use the same word for it.

Now it can happen that even in a normal love / hate relationship, occasionally, you enter the state of surrender.  Temporarily, briefly, it happens: you experience a deeper universal love and a complete acceptance that can sometimes shine through, even in an otherwise egoic relationship.  If surrender is not sustained, however, it gets covered up again with the old egoic patterns.  So, I’m not saying that the deeper, true love cannot be present occasionally, even in a normal love / hate relationship.  But it is rare and usually short-lived.

Whenever you accept what is, something deeper emerges than what is.  So, you can be trapped in the most painful dilemma, external or internal, the most painful feelings or situation, and the moment you accept what is, you go beyond it, you transcend it.  Even if you feel hatred, the moment you accept that this is what you feel, you transcend it.  It may still be there, but suddenly you are at a deeper place where it doesn’t matter that much anymore.

The entire phenomenal universe exists because of the tension between the opposites.  Hot and cold, growth and decay, gain and loss, success and failure, the polarities that are part of existence, and of course part of every relationship.

Kim Eng: Then it’s correct to say, we can never get rid of the polarities?

ET: We cannot get rid of polarities on the level of form.  However, you can transcend the polarities through surrender.  You are then in touch with a deeper place within yourself where, as it were, the polarities no longer exist.  They continue to exist on the outer level.  However, even there, something changes in the way in which the polarities manifest in your life when you are in a state of acceptance or surrender.  The polarities manifest in a more benign and gentle way.

The more unconscious you are, the more you are identified with form.  The essence of unconsciousness is this: identification with form, whether it is an external form (a situation, place, event or experience), a thought form or an emotion.  The more attached to form, the more unsurrendered you are, and the more extreme, violent or harsh your experience of the polarities becomes.  There are people on this planet who live virtually in hell and on the same planet there are others who live a relatively peaceful life.  The ones who are at peace inside will still experience the polarities, but in a much more benign way, not the extreme way in which many humans still experience them.  So, the way in which the polarities are experienced does change.  The polarities themselves cannot be removed, but one could say, the whole universe becomes somewhat more benevolent.  It’s no longer so threatening.  The world is no longer perceived as hostile, which is how the ego perceives it.

KE: If awakening or living a life in an awakened state does not change the natural order of things, duality, the tension between the opposites, what does living a life in the awakened state do?  Does it affect the world, or only one’s subjective experience of the world?

ET:

When you live in surrender, something comes through you into the world of duality that is not of this world.

KE: Does that actually change the outer world?

ET: Internal and external are ultimately one.  When you no longer perceive the world as hostile, there is no more fear, and when there is no more fear, you think, speak and act differently.  

Love and compassion arise, and they affect the world.

Even if you find yourself in a conflict situation, there is an outflow of peace into the polarities.  So then, something does change.  There are some teachers or teachings that say, nothing changes.  That is not the case.  Something very important does change.  That which is beyond form shines through the form, the eternal shines through the form into this world of form.

KE: Is it right to say that it is your lack of “reaction against,” your acceptance of the opposites of this world, that brings about changes in the way the opposites manifest?

ET: Yes.  The opposites continue to happen, but they are not fueled by you anymore.  What you said is a very important point: the “lack of reaction” means that the polarities are not fueled.  This means, you often experience a collapse of the polarities, such as in conflict situations.  No person, no situation is made into an “enemy.”

KE: So, the opposites, instead of becoming strengthened, become weakened.  And perhaps this is how they begin to dissolve.

ET: That’s right.  Living in that way is the beginning of the end of the world.

 

You can read the full article HERE

 

If you’re interested in the Meditation and Yoga workshop, you can book your ticket HERE

 

As always, would love to hear your thoughts on it all,

 

                                               Love Li xo

The Importance Of How We Breathe

So how are YOUR tubes?

I was lucky enough to attend a talk given by this man, Buteyko trainer Roger Price, at a Yoga Anatomy & Physiology workshop I did some years ago with Simon Borg Olivier.

It was fascinating.

I invite you to watch this 23 minute video, that gives a simplified version of how the lungs work, how we should breathe for optimum quality of life, and perhaps dispelling some myths we may have about it all.

This explanation expands on why, at Pure-Li Yoga, I emphasize the importance of diaphragmatic breathing and consciously taking in only small amounts of air through the nostrils in our yoga practice.  I am so excited and inspired to share what I have learned with Simon and indeed Roger.

Being conscious of how we breathe is where we start.

Noticing how we breathe on and off the mat, you might agree, is a worthwhile practice. If we are aware that we tend to breathe more, and shallowly, when we get stressed, we may be able to take control of that in the moment, and practice diaphragmatic breathing, in turn bringing ourselves out of the sympathetic nervous system, and so lessening the effects of stress and perhaps even the stress itself.

I recently experimented with this;

For two weeks, every night I went to bed with tape over my mouth, keeping it shut while I slept.  Despite the reactions of friends when I told them what I was at, I didn’t feel scared or trapped or anxious about it an any way.

Lise Shuts Up

On the contrary, I actually really liked it.  As soon as that strip sealed my lips, a strange sense of security and calm came over me.  Maybe it was my nervous system having an instant response to nostril breathing?  The familiarity from my yoga and meditation practice, the calming effect that these practices have on me?  I don’t know but whatever it was, I slept BETTER!

I went to bed feeling more relaxed and I woke feeling more relaxed.

It came about after one of my regular visits to my dentist, after a discussion we had on the benefits of nostril breathing and the negative effects of mouth breathing, to include dental problems!   He said it usually only takes two weeks of taping, to train the body to sleep with the mouth staying closed by itself.  However this was not so for me, I think I need to keep it up for a  bit longer!  It’s not, as it turns out, the best bedtime look, haha!  So perhaps the dark of winter is a good time to experiment with this folks!!

I’m sure there are those out there with an argument for the contrary, and there is nothing in this video about those who actually can’t nostril breathe due to an obstruction of some sort, but perhaps there would be more on that at the Breathing Well website.  And I would recommend Robert Price if you were interested in looking into it more deeply.  Results of nostrill breathing include: it stops bed-wetting in children, waking in the night with the sensation of a full bladder, snoring, sleep apnoea, tiredness, stress and lots more.

I can vouch for at least THREE of these (no not bed-wetting!).

For me, the outstanding reason to practice nostril breathing, is the dramatic effect it has on the nervous system.  

Would you like to improve the quality of your life?  Sleep better, stress less, feel less hungry so often?

Ask yourself – are you breathing through your mouth or your nostrils? Are you using your diaphragm to breathe?   And go from there …   I hope to bring more calm and less stress to your lives by sharing this post …

If we are less reactionary and more responsive in life, we can navigate our way through with less suffering and more awareness, and perhaps a clearer sense of reality.

 

Don’t forget …  I T ‘ S  A  P R A C T I C E !

 

And as always, have fun with it!

 

Love Li xo

 

Feel free to comment or ask questions in the comment boxes below!

 

My Chicken Casserole Recipe

"The Orange Version"!

Very organic indeed!

This chicken casserole recipe morphed from an old favourite, into whatever I had in the kitchen one day.  It’s a staple that keeps us warm & nourished on biting wintery nights.  It makes us very happy indeed!

So as I said, it sorta sprung and springs from whatever I have in the kitchen, you can really use anything, and it’s a great panacea to any over-shopping you might have done – chuck everything in, no need to waste a thing! Now I use a big cast iron (6.7litre)  pot to make this, as I take it to a simmer on the hob, then transfer it to the oven to finish. This is  what makes it a casserole not a stew strictly speaking, there is a difference. Stewing is done on the top of a cooker with heat being applied directly to the underneath of the pot; while casseroling takes place inside the oven with heat circulating all around the pot.  

Arah Semantics!  

Either way, the beauty of the dish is that the meat and vegetables cook slowly together, and all the nutrients and flavours are kept within the walls of the cooking vessel.  I also love that once the prep is done, I can go off and walk the dog, or get some work done, and not have to worry about keeping an eye on it.

I don’t see why you couldn’t convert it into a stew, leaving it softly simmering on the hob, if the oven was a problem for you. And you could also transform it to a slow cooker recipe too, just be sure to take it to the simmering point before transporting it to your already warm slow cooker.

But for this recipe you will need a large pot with a tight fitting lid, that can be used over a flame and in the oven too. You’ll notice that I use a lot of ingredients – I always make up a massive full pot of the stuff, the flavours just intensify day by day.  You might like to freeze some portions, I never seem to have any left to do that!  I take it to work for lunches and we are both happy to eat it for dinner more than once in the week!

Please see my post on Asafoetida, which I use here to make it extra healthsome.  And I prefer organic and free range chooks cuz I’m funny about anything less.  I buy thigh fillets with the skin off and sometimes throw in some drumsticks (again I prefer skin off, if possible), just to mix it up a bit sometimes.  I don’t bother to cut the thighs up, in they go whole!

This meal feeds about 6 people, maybe more, and is really quite economical – thigh and leg meat, and vegetables that are in season, are quite inexpensive, and are perfect for this method of cooking – it always falls apart beautifully – just mind not to let it boil for too long before putting in the oven, once it’s bubbling, then transfer it.

I’ll set out my most used combo, The Orange Version, and encourage you to keep on inventing!

The herbs I use are from the garden and vary according to my mood & what’s there for picking – you can use what takes your fancy/what’s to hand!  I also add some mustard seeds for extra nutritional impact.

Every now and then I make up a fresh batch of 3-day-simmered chicken bone broth, and keep it stored in the freezer.  This is quite concentrated and flavourful so I usually only use 2 – 3 cups and add boiling water if I need to top up the liquid content.

Life is unpredictable.

Sometimes I get home and realise I don’t have pumpkin or that something I thought I did … I try to play it by ear – after all, that’s how new things are created!  Check your freezer for frozen veg?!   The ingredient amounts are rough estimates, so feel free to follow your nose and make the recipe work for you how you feel best!  Sometimes I go mad chopping veggies and end up with too many to fit in the pot, so I just roast them in a pan alongside the casserole, and either save them for another days lunch/dinner, or I chuck them in on top of the casserole when it’s finished.

Also, it’s ok if some of the ingredients sit somewhat above the liquid, those lads will steam!

Ingredients:

2 medium – large sized sweet potatoes

4 -6 large/medium carrots

1/2 a  pumpkin (of your preference!)

2 -3  stalks of celery

1 fennel bulb

Large knob of ginger – I use a large, large, cuz I LURVE ginger & it works well here!

A few tablespoons of Coconut / Olive oil / ghee for frying & sautéeing

6 – 8 organic free-range chicken thigh fillets  (and maybe a few leg drumsticks)

1 tblspn Apple Cider Vinegar

2 tblspns Liquid Aminos

A dash of Worcester Sauce (Yes I know it contains sugar – a dash will keep us balanced) OPTIONAL!

1-2 tsp’s brown/yellow  mustard seeds (optional)

Approx. 2 cups of chicken bone broth or stock

Fresh sage leaves, marjoram & a couple of sticks of rosemary, or whatever you’ve got to hand

A few handfuls of spinach leaves or kale

Seasoning Mix:

2 tblspns gluten-free flour of your choice, or plain if your not bothered

2 -3 tspns of Turmeric

1 tspn smokey paprika

1/2 tspn Asofoetida (aka Hing)

1 tspn Himalayan rock salt

1 tspn freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 185 C.

2. Peel & chop your vegetables into large chunks – approx 2 .5 inches and leave to one side.

3. In a large pan or washable/re-usable zip lock bag, add the seasoning mix and make sure to shake it around to incorporate all the ingredients well.

4. Throw in the chicken pieces and shake ’em all about to coat each piece completely.

5. Heat some oi/ghee in the bottom of your casserole pot and when hot, add the coated chook in batches to brown it, or in this case, to orange it!  Careful not to let it cook – we just want some colour happening.  As each piece secures it’s colour, place it aside on a large plate.

6. Once all the chook is oranged, add some more oil/ghee, and lightly fry off the mustard seeds until they start popping then straight away add the sage leaves, sliced ginger and stir to get heat through the ginger evenly.  Gradually add the rest of the vegetables to sautée and I add in any remaining seasoning mix and stir to cook out the flour a bit.

7. Swish in your apple cider vinegar and again stir the melange around a few times, then add the fresh herbs, and reintroduce the chicken pieces back to the pot.

8. Pour in the bone broth/stock, top up with boiling water if needed, plonk in a whizz of Worcester sauce and the Liquid Aminos, stirring to create a flavourful liquidity.

9. Bring to a simmering bubble, then transfer to the oven to cook for approx. 55 mins.

10. Mostly we serve this as is, straight from the pot.  Last night, I added some leftover cooked quinoa to the pot at the last minute, as I was reheating it, but it really doesn’t require anything else, it stands up by itself as a wholesome & hearty, nourishing meal.

TRUE DETECTIVE

Can’t get it out of my head …  NEVER BEEN SO TAKEN WITH AN OPENING TITLE SEQUENCE!!  It’s F#*%kn pure brilliance!  Yeah.

The series ain’t half bad either, hey?!

 

true-detective

 

ASAFOETIDA or HING

Ohhhhh baby!  Well, here we are at my favourite lil spice.

I came across ASAFOETIDA or HING, when I did my first Yoga teacher training in Byron Bay.

It was used frequently in the beautiful meals that were prepared for us, as it is a common substitute for onion and garlic, which were not part of our diet there.

According to Ayurveda, Yoga’s sister science, garlic and onions are considered rajasic and tamasic foods, as opposed to sattvic.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click HERE to read Kurma’s essay on it.  I was lucky enough to do a cooking workshop with Kurma, and I’m a fan of his authentic work and delicious food!  But basically, yogans do well to eat a more sattvic diet – which in short refers to certain foods that assist in realising yoga, or a yogic state.

Anyway, while onions and garlic used to be for me, and seem to be for many, the basis of most meals, I now often leave them out of mine, and am happy to do so. While I can tell you I do enjoy how they taste, I am repulsed at how they make my breath smell and taste, even so the next day, the aroma – especially of garlic – lingers!  And in fairness, why stop at breath – they also make for tangy body odour, to which I have a very high sensitivity!!  I’m sorry, but I just don’t like to stink, nor do I like to smell other people’s stink if I can help it!

So for example, I would suggest a ‘private eye’ should steer clear of garlic, it’s like a built-in body app that tells everyone “I’M HERE!”  … within a 5km radius!!  And I’m not pointing fingers here, shur I’m guilty myself from time to time!

But there are other more practical reasons I don’t rush to use these fellas;

1. Garlic often can make me feel nauseous, depending on quantity and how it’s cooked,

2. Both onions and garlic seem to make me a bit bloated and give me an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach, caused by everybody’s at-least-one-time-friend  –  G A S !

I find it interesting that in Western medicine, garlic is heralded as having great antibacterial qualities, but I have read too that it also destroys beneficial bacteria, which are essential to the proper functioning of the digestive system.  So here we go on the merry-go-round again with all the contradicting views and rhetoric about what we should eat and what we shouldn’t … so I’m just bringing it back to my mantra – I mostly eat what mostly makes me feel good.  To me, it’s just about having a bit of self-awareness, or as my mother would say, “a titter of wit”!  Howaya ma!  If it’s gonna give me stomach pains, then I’ll think twice about eating it!  They won’t be on my menu, if I have to, say, wear an unforgiving dress, or share other people’s company in a small/enclosed space!, etc etc!  I think you get my drift (not waft!).

Having said all that, I haven’t cut them out strictly, let’s just say I tend to veer away from them.

ENTER ASAFOETIDA DOWN STAGE LEFT!

The name “asafoetida” is derived from the Farsi (Persian) word “asa” (resin) and the Latin “foetidus” (smelling fetid). Many unusual medical claims have been made for the resin, most stemming from the belief that it’s foetid odor acts as a deterrent to germs.  In my research, I have found comments where some people say they don’t really notice the smell of this stuff! 

WHAT?!  ARE THEIR NOSES DETACHED FROM THEIR BODIES???!!  This stuff  S T I N K S !  I do not understand how anyone could not notice it!  It is a most pungent odour that certainly stops me in my tracks!   It is also known as ‘Devil’s Dung”, so c’mon?!  But the cool thing about it is – it doesn’t make ME stink when I eat it!  Unlike the aformentioned!

It’s not just me – there are records that tell us the shock of the sulfurous smell was once thought to calm hysteria, and in the days of the American Wild West, asafoetida was included in a mixture with other strong spices as a cure for alcoholism no less!  Other early records mention that Alexander the Great carried this “stink finger” west in 4 BC.  So it’s been around the block, and for a while!

Hing 2

So what is it?  

Asafoetida, also known as HING, is a gum that is from the sap of the roots and stem of the ferula species, a giant fennel that exudes a rank odour!  It is grown chiefly in Iran and Afghanistan from where it is exported to the rest of the world. In India it is cultivated in Kashmir.  It was used as a spice in ancient Rome, and although not native to India, it has been used in Indian medicine and cookery for ages.  And indeed in Chinese cooking and medicine.  It is commonly found in Ayurvedic cooking and has reportedly many positive health benefits, especially for the Vata and Kapha dosha..  Which is, of course, why I love it!

In Ayurveda, it is used to aid digestion, cure colic, and stagnation in the gastro-intestinal tract.  Asafoetida burns ama (the sticky waste-product of digestion that builds up in the digestive tract when your digestion is either weak or overloaded with the wrong foods).

In western herbalism, it is used to reduce the growth of flora in the gut, especially candida, directly reducing gas. It apparently has anti-viral properties and it was used to fight the flu during WWI and it’s also been documented that in 1918 asafoetida was used in the Spanish influenza pandemic.

In  Traditional Chinese Medicine it is viewed as entering the liver, spleen and stomach channels. It stimulates the intestinal, respiratory and the nervous system. It can be used for food stagnation, weak digestion, intestinal parasites and flatulence as well as asthma, whooping cough and chronic bronchitis. 

It is also regarded in Ayurvedic, Chinese and Western medicine as an effective remedy for worms and other intestinal parasites.

Note: It must be fried before use, as raw and un-fried asafoetida may cause nausea and vomiting.

Other reported Ayurvedic benefits and uses of Asafoetida:

As I mentioned above it is considered to be pacifying to the Vata and Kapha doshas. (Do you know your dosha?!)

It is a powerful antispasmodic – useful in cough, asthma, intestinal colic, and uterine spasms and is nourishing to the nervous tissues in the body.

Asafoetida is also used to treat low libido, impotence, and encourages ovulation and fertility where the uterus is congested from Kapha. Curiously, it has also been used as a contraceptive, perhaps by employing the anthelminthic qualities topically to destroy semen.

NOTE: Asafoetida is abortifascient and should not be used in pregnancy or breastfeeding.


According to the website (with American spelling)  Drugs.com :

“Asafetida Uses and Pharmacology

Cancer

Asafetida is a potent antioxidant, and ferulic acid, a component of the resin, has shown promise as a chemopreventive agent, suggesting that asafetida may offer some protection against carcinogenesis. In vitro studies have shown some cytotoxicity against lymphoma ascites, tumor cells, and human lymphocytes.  Protection against the mutagenicity induced by aflatoxin B 1 has also been demonstrated; however, this effect was only evident against one strain of Salmonella typhimurium and was less than that observed with tumeric and garlic. The mechanism through which asafetida exerts its antitumor activity is unclear. Hypotheses include interception of free radicals, inhibition of natural killer cells, induction of enzymes such as glutathione S-transferase and quinone reductase, and inhibition of polyamine and DNA biosynthesis. 

Animal data

Administration of F. asafoetida conferred considerable protection against chemically induced mammary carcinogenesis in young female rats.  The reduction in the mean number of mammary carcinomas per rat (regarded as the most reliable index of mammary tumorogenesis in experimental animals) was highly significant in rats receiving asafetida as part of their diets (1.25% or 2.5% w/w). Long-term studies showed reduction in the multiplicity and size of palpable mammary tumors, as well as a delay in mean latency period of tumor appearance. The administration of asafetida in the diet did not affect food intake.

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of asafetida in cancer.

Other uses

Antispasmodic and hypotensive activity of the gum extract has been demonstrated in animal experiments.  Antiviral activity by sesquiterpene compounds of F. assa-foetida has been demonstrated in vitro against the influenza A virus (H1N1).  Molluscicidal activity of plant extracts has been demonstrated against snails, which act as intermediate hosts for the fasciola cattle fluke.”


Some of you will notice that most of the asafoetida products available on the market contain wheat, rice flour and gum arabic 

The handsome product in the picture at the top of this post, is one I picked up when I was in Mumbai earlier in the year.  Out of the few different brands I’ve used, I declare it to be my favourite as it is pure, with no additives, the aroma is super potent and I like that it is hand pounded.  And ok, I like the bloody packaging, but that’s last on the list!  The thing is, I have yet to find a way of acquiring it here in Sydney, so diddums!

I am looking at THIS product though, for when my lil jar above runs out, as it’s certified organic and has no additives.  Also HERBIE”S SPICES  stock their version and there is no added wheat, however the package says it may contain traces of gluten, (less than 20ppm), due to manufacturing practices.  I have used this product in the past and it’s really good.

So that’s it!  I just thought I’d share my super secret special sattvic sustenance spice with you!  

I use it mostly in my winter casseroles and stews, in my kitchari and I sometimes sprinkle it in with roast vegetables.  A pinch is plenty as it’s pretty potent and remember – you gotta COOK it! I’ve used it more frequently when there is tummy trouble in our house, and perhaps with blind faith, when there was a sufferer of stomach ulcers.  I’m a strong believer in it’s healing and positive power.

ALWAYS store it in a VERY well-sealed jar or container, to prevent contamination of the flavour to other ingredients in the pantry.  You’ll see what I mean when you get yours!

If you’ve never tried it, why not give something new (yet ancient) a whirl, and tell me all about it!

Love n sparkles!

Lila xo