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Remedies

Here some FREE food for thought for today and your week ahead:

There are some people who inspire me by something very simple: they seem to easefully maintain a soft and calm expression throughout their day. Even in times of stress, they appear centered and unruffled, as if they were carrying the expression, “This soon shall pass” in their hearts.

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I am inspired by the occasional stranger on the subway who centers me because they look so content and impervious to the rush-hour crowds, and the yoga student whose soft smile never waivers as she maneuvers from pose to pose.

Ever since I read the following quote of zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh a year ago, I’ve been making a more conscious effort to gently smile throughout my day. Doing so has been powerfully grounding.

As Thich Nhat Hanh so playfully shares in his small booklet The Long Road Turns to Joy:

“As you make the effort to let go of your worries and anxieties, please smile. It may be just the beginning of a smile, but keep it there on your lips. It is very much like the Buddha’s half smile. As you learn to walk as the Buddha walked, you can smile as he smiled. Why wait until you are completely transformed, completely awakened? You can start by being a part-time Buddha right now!

“The half smile is the fruit of your awareness that you are here, alive, walking. At the same time, it nurtures more peace and joy within you. A smile refreshes your whole being and strengthens your practice. Don’t be afraid to smile.”

Something so simple can be so strong and potentially transformational.

This week, I invite you to smile more on and off the mat. Feel free to share about your experience here.

(From a vanity point, smiling more, whether subtly or overtly, is an excellent way to prevent frown lines.)

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Finally, spring is arriving here in the Northeast, and crocuses are certainly a welcomed sight! I’m also so excited to experience the first of spring outside of NYC – Dan and I are moving to Connecticut tomorrow. This is what I wish I could make for supper tonight: Daikon and butternut squash soup, an excellent fix for any spring allergies settling in or winter colds still floating around.  Instead, however, I’ll be scrubbing away at the stove.

Last year, yoga practitioner, fellow life coach, acupuncturist, and Chinese herbalist Esther Hadasa suggested this excellent remedy for my pollen irritated, scratchy throat. I cooked up a batch that evening and must say, it was soothing, voice clearing, and delicious! As Esther told me, daikon releases mucus from the body and therefore helps the lymph system flow more efficiently, making it a great fix for allergies, colds, and gall bladder issues. I also added onion, ginger, garlic, bok choy, miso, a bay leaf, and thai red chili paste.
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The 5th episode of Doing It just hit the cyberwaves.  In this podcast, which you can subscribe and listen to for FREE on iTunes, Fannie Cohen and I explore the definition of attention.  We speak to a seasoned psychoanalyst named Dr. Bernstein, a humanities professor named Dr. Rebecca Painter, a cliaraudient and clairvoyant named Paul Selig, and Aikido master, author, and executive coach Wendy Palmer. One thing we really walked away with from doing this show is the notion that energy follows our attention, and our perspective on life is heavily influenced by how we focus our attention.  I believe we have a lot more say in how and what we focus on than we sometimes lets ourselves believe.  It’s a discipline… and a good and invaluable one at that.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the choice we have to be more attentive of and believing in our own self-worth and potential. I’ve also been thinking about the choice we have to cultivate a greater sense of harmony between breath, body, and mind.  It’s by taking small and tangible steps that we can begin to create a shift.  So, with that in mind, I have an invitation for you this week:

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I managed to catch a nasty cold that’s been circling around New York City.  And, I think I would have beat it sooner had I not ran all over town with wet socks on Monday.  If you are a New Yorker, you probably know all too well the mighty puddles that can pool up on street corners in the days after a hefty snowfall.  Add some rain and not quite waterproof shoes and you chances of keeping your feet dry are next to none.  Some might say getting sick from cold, damp feet it’s an old wife’s tale, but I’m not so certain.  The result for me: the cold I had almost kicked got worse, I had an awful headache, and I nearly lost my voice by Tuesday evening.

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Of course, I should invest in a pair good pair of rain boats as a future preventative measure.  Right now, however, I wanted to share a few relieving fixes I like.

First and foremost is one that’s very self-explanatory and cannot be substituted EVER. What? REST.

Secondly, here’s a cold-fighting tonic I’m fond of that I learned my friend and Chinese medicine practitioner Frances Boswell: hot water with ginger, garlic, lemon, and honey.  You can also add a little fresh horseradish or scallion for an added kick.

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The wind is starting to whip outside, the rain is turning back to snow, and I’m hoping my dream to cross-country ski from Avenue H to Prospect Park and back will be fulfilled.  I also hope all of you on the Northeast are staying safe and sound.

I was in the mood for a hearty lunch after trekking out to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn in the cold to teach and then doing my own practice.  I wanted something warming and flavorful… My solution was an adzuki (aka aduki and azuki) bean cassoulet kind of dish with collard greens.  (Ok – I also added some sausage from Brooklyn’s famous Los Paisanos that my husband had defrosted and needed to be used.)  Lunch was satisfying but not swell enough to blog about.  It did inspire the following thoughts, however:

  1. One day soon, I’ll make a real cassoulet.  A dish originally from the South of France, a cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole that usually contains meat, pork skin, and white haricot beans.  I’d like to invent a  vegetarian version, too.
  2. I was reminded how delicious, nutritious, and versatile adzuki beans are!  These small beans have been eaten for thousands of years.  In fact, it’s believed they were first cultivated during Japan’s Jomon period around 4000BC.  Though we are most familiar with red adzuki beans, white, black, gray, and mottled varieties also exist.

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I’ll be honest – I’ve been cooking far more food than I’ve been writing about lately! The dishes I’ve made over the past week have included white bean and Swiss chard soup, fragrant red lentils, and French style chicken roasted in a Dutch oven pot.  While I hope to share some of these recipes soon, I’ve had my hand in a few other pots.  I just completed and launched my new website www.CoachwithSophie.com. (Feel free to check it out!)  I’ve also been helping my husband with promotional materials for his new book, Love in the Time of Algorithms, which just hit the shelves on January 24.  Learn more about it at www.bydanslater.com.  And, Fannie Cohen and I are getting ready to roll out the first few episodes of our new podcast about modern faith and spirituality called “Doing It”. Stay tuned!

So, instead of sharing a recipe today, I wanted to repost a little thing I wrote on ghee and why I LOVE it so… especially when the weather is cold.

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Here you go:

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On a whim, I recently bought a small container of goat’s milk at Zabar’s on the Upper West Side. While drinking the earthy tasting, calcium-loaded substance, I was reminded of Mahatma Gandhi’s reference to goat’s milk in his autobiography “The Story of My Experiments with Truth.” After years of complete abstention from animal products in observance of ahimsa (the yogic self-discipline of non-violence) and frequent fasting, Gandhi-ji’s health was in jeopardy. His new doctor, Dr. Dalal insisted the emaciated Gandhi-ji add goat’s milk to his diet. After some resistance, he complied and his health improved in due time. Resentfully, Gandhi-ji committed to drinking goat’s milk for the rest of his life to stay strong.

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Goat’s milk is acclaimed for being beneficial for digestive health, loaded with vitamins and minerals, non-mucus forming, immune system boosting, having anti-inflammatory compounds, and fighting bone-demineralization. It’s also less allergenic than cow’s milk as it’s alkaline versus acidic, making it an option for lactose intolerant people. Likewise, it’s naturally homogenized, so nutrients and positive bacterium aren’t lost in the pasteurization process. It has a slightly higher fat content that cow’s milk, though the fat globules in goat’s milk are smaller and easier to digest. While reduced fat versions are available, I prefer to buy the full-fat version and drink it in small quantities.

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