That damn ahimsa…

mosquito1

It must be two o’clock in the morning. Jet lagging, I have now tossed and turned in my bed for hours. I just can’t get to sleep. I’ve done my deep relaxation exercises but they haven’t helped. Usually they work within a few minutes but now I seem to have too much on my mind. I decided to let the thoughts come and stay with them. Finally, dream like images take over in my mind and I welcome the long awaited sleep.

A faint noise comes closer becoming louder and louder. It resembles a small circular saw and it penetrates my consciousness like that sting this little mosquito is keen on making. Fully awake, ready for my counter attack, I wait until the insect is right next to my ear. I slap myself in the ear full force and the mosquito is dead. The pleasure of the kill lasts for a second. Then I remember that damn ahimsa…

Again, fully awake I start thinking if the principle of non-violence, or ahimsa in Sanskrit, is possible at all, especially when I think about mosquitos. I’m not feeling any better by understanding that I used premeditated violence and cold bloodedly killed an innocent living being right in my ear.  The date with the sandman is finished.

The degree of development of the human mind can be determined by the way we react to external stimuli in an unexpected situation. On one end of the line we have instinctive reactions and on the other the ones made with reason. An aggressive instinct is an example of the former. A negative relationship with anything in our environment is due to a primordial feeling of fear in our minds, which can make us consider things, beings or events threatening. Even mosquitos.

Bees, ants, worms, gekkos and all kinds of beetles (maybe excluding cockroaches) do no longer cause a shock like waving of hands and screams of help in me. I let them crawl and wonder around my little cottage here in the rainforest. At least the gekkos eat cockroaches. The fear of mosquitos is the one that lingers on. These little beasts usually leave me alone but there is always one, braving the way, ready to spoil my sleep. At every occurrence the following happens: Thought 1: Kill it. Though 2: Wait for the right moment. Though 3: Attack even if it hurts. At some rare occasions I manage to start reasoning before going to bed, turn the lights off and pull net early enough over my bed. But more often, after having tossed and turned in the sweaty sheets in the Caribbean night the role of the killer takes over.

I feel like Brad Pitt in “Seven”. Provoked enough I become a killer.

Ahimsa, non-violence, is not limited to physical violence. It also touches our thoughts. When we think badly about others, we fall prey of violating ahimsa. When we think badly about ourselves, we make the same mistake. With the guilty feeling (thinking badly about myself) of a mosquito murderer (hating the mosquito), I am afraid ahimsa is not possible for me.

Remembering that the road of spiritual development is winding appeases me. Sometimes we move forwards, sometimes backwards, or we just stay put. Yoga helps to move forward and the chance for a positive change is always there. Once I keep this in mind and keep on practicing mindfulness, acting out of reason, not out of instinct, there is a chance for me of not being a mosquito killer any more.

Broccoli pie

Broccolin-pie

Here is a perfect recipe for this season of vata when  nature tends to make you feel a bit dry and ungrounded. You might have noticed that your sleep is lighter or gets interrupted easily and that pains and aches have increased in your body. This recipe will certainly get vata grounded as it is nice and savoury but without strong spices. It is warming, heavy and with plenty of fats! Do not worry about the fats, especially in this period. If you eat with awareness you won’t be putting it in storage.

I make the pastry with ghee, which doesn’t mind heating. Ghee is a good fat, which doesn’t increase cholesterol and in fact, improves digestion and metabolism.

I also use spelt flour for the pastry as I try to take in as little as possible refined flours (and sugars). Try this, it is wonderful!

 

Pastry:

 

100g ghee

225g white spelt flour

2-3 tbsp water

Pinch of salt

 

Mix salt with spelt flour and then rub the ghee in with your fingertips. Add water and work until the pastry becomes smooth. Leave to chill for 30 minutes.

 

Filling

 

Half a broccoli

Half a cauliflower

2 small onions

1 garlic clove

1 tbsp ghee

100g mascarpone cheese

200g soft blue cheese

100ml vegetable stock

Thyme

Sage

Parsley

Black pepper

Cooked spelt spaghetti (optional)

Parmesan cheese

 

Cut broccoli and cauliflower into medium sized flowers and boil for 4-5min. Drain and wash with cold water. Chop onions to fine size and fry in a pan with ghee and garlic. Add mascarpone cheese, blue cheese and stock. Add either fresh or dry herbs and salt to taste.

Lay the pastry in the bottom of an oven tray, pour the cheese sauce at the bottom and lay the broccoli flowers and cauliflower on top.  Cut cooked spelt spaghetti into 2cm pieces and sprinkle some on top of the pie. Grate parmesan cheese on top and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 175 degrees until golden brown and crispy on top.

Moroccan Natural Cleansing

african_soap_lavender_250mlWe have a new product line in the shop for sale and we are so very excited about these. This line of products for cleansing the body and hair are completely natural without any addition of chemicals.

  • We have Rhassoul clay, which really is without rivals for face and body mask. It can also used to wash your hair leaving a wonderful feeling of softness and volume
  • The Rhassoul Wonder Bar is made of clay and oils and is a wonderful alternative to soap. In fact we think it’s even better as your skin is left squeaky clean after use
  • African Black Soap has really blown our minds as shampoo. Many say they don’t even need a conditioner after. Excellent especially for African hair

How to improve your digestion with three simple ways

digestion1

  • Start you day with a small glass of hot water with ginger, lemon and honey/agave syrup/maple syrup or raw sugar (depending on body type)
  • Drink a sip of hot water every 10 minutes
  • Drinking plenty of water at one go will dilute digestive enzymes and make digestion of food harder
  • Cold water slows down digestion and metabolism. Heat activates digestive enzymes which are essential for food to be broken down for absorption
  • Do not drink during meals.
  • If you do drink during your meal, take sips between mouthfuls. Never help food down with liquids

Work with the universe and the universe works with you

JA-grace

One of the most emotionally charged moments of my life was in a Himalayan ashram after I had just completed my degree. We, a random take of foreigners and Indians alike, must have been confined in this remote place already for three weeks when, as if by magic, during our evening satsang, we found the “Amazing Grace” in our book of chants. After having familiarised most of the devotional Indian songs of the book, the sudden discovery of a song so familiar from our pasts (and indeed, at that point, it all felt like it was from a very far distant past) created a beautiful godly moment where everything felt unified in the melody of this graceful song.

I met someone in the ashram who actually was from my neighbourhood in London. We became good friends and often have looked back at that time as the happiest in our lives. The fact that I met someone so far from home from so near and the fact that we could experience such carefree happiness were, as I see it now, acts of grace.

Grace could be referred to what some call luck. “Happy go lucky” indeed has a deep meaning. True happiness comes when you align yourself with the rhythms of the universe and follow the purpose you are here for i.e. your dharma. Once this is done you’ll notice how the universe helps you along the way and you find yourself in a graceful existence. You can’t force yourself feel it but it will most certainly come once you relax, take a moment by moment and just let the universe unfold itself in your way to higher states of consciousness.

Good autumn everyone!


I often feel that a whole new cycle of life is starting in autumn. This year especially has been quite something as the weather changed so quickly, at least here in London. Within a week we were the air had a completely different feel to it!

I also feel a new cycle starting because many of us are relaxed and energetic from the sun and holidays. We are full of ideas and enthusiasm for work and life in general. I find myself being most creative at this season and (TA DAA!) here is the first blog post I’m writing for our renewed website.

My intention is to share with you some great knowledge that ayurveda has to offer in order to stay healthy and happy. I intend to get some yogic magic along as well since those two are sister sciences and complement each other perfectly. There will be beauty tips and a recipe or two occasionally and ideas for improving everyday life. I am a keen cook and always eager to try what I can create using seasonal ingredients in my kitchen. I would be very happy to see you joining in creating some lively conversations around health, beauty, diet, lifestyle and spirituality.

Tip of the day

Autumn is the period when our bodies particularly tend to dryness because of the increase of vata energy. Dryness can be felt especially on the skin and mucous membranes. When the latter dries excessively they get irritated and start producing mucous. Therefore it is essential that we increase the intake of warm water and good oils (internally and externally) in this period to make sure our bodies do not get out of balance and resist illness properly. The skin and mucous membranes form the first line of defense in us and they need to be in good shape to stop bacteria, viruses and other pollutants entering our systems.

Here’s some simple advice on what to do:

  • Take a sip of hot water every 10 minutes
  • Oil your body with warm sesame oil at least a few times a week. Don’t forget to massage inside your nose as well!
  • After cleaning your face spray toner abundantly and then massage with face oil (check out our beautiful face oils by Pukka, ila and John Masters)
  • Cook only with ghee or coconut oil. Use vegetable oils only raw i.e. add only after cooking
  • Increase the intake of seeds and nuts
  • Have a massage regularly

Photo by Paul Bica