Tag Archives: diet

The Night the Rice Went Out in CoMO: How yoga taught me to wake up and get some freaking sleep.

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Okay, so I was going to embed a video of the song “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” but all that popped up at first was Reba McIntyre’s version with her lovely but weird jaw thing and then a bunch of losers saying it is a Tanya Tucker song and then way down at the bottom was Vicki Lawrence and I swear, if you don’t know it’s actually  Vicki Lawrence who did it originally and who deserves to be at the very top, well, I just don’t know what to think.  So, when in doubt, trust Julia Sugarbaker to bring it on home. 

Moving on…

Like most Americans, I had a love affair with sleep when I was younger.  I was in my early to mid teens when I finally dragged my sorry behind out of bed one day and declared that “Sleep is my friend and I like to visit it as often as I possibly can.” Little did I know that my visits would be fewer and further between until one day they would almost disappear all together.

A lot of things changed in my life as I aged and matured.  My hair and my waist grew thicker, my arms and my beliefs grew stronger, I became kinder and less rigid, and I stopped smoking, screaming, and I stopped sleeping.  Yep, I stopped sleeping.  What was once easy and assumed in my life became my biggest trauma – I developed a severe crippling case of insomnia in my mid-twenties. It started mildly enough: I’d fall asleep easily and wake a couple of times in the middle of the night for 15 or 20 minutes.  Then the spaces between waking up and going back to sleep got longer and longer.  There would be days when I would sleep fine and others where I wouldn’t sleep at all, but there was always an issue. For years and years.  I tried everything – yes, everything: no caffein, no sugar, walks, baths, melatonin, teas, yoga (!!!!!,) meditation, accupressure, Benadryl, NyQuil, sleep aids, Valium, Ambien, chanting, hynosis, massage, the works.  Things would work for a week or so, but even then they didn’t work completely.  It was awful.  Imagine it – we’re talking about 10 years of not having a good night’s sleep. Zombie bitch, that’s me!   For most of these years, there was something nagging at the back of mind telling me that there was a better way to fix this.  Something was telling me that if I made a change, everything else would change, too, but I ignored it.

Sometimes I can be really dense.

About a month ago things got to a point where I wasn’t functioning.  I was struggling to teach.  I was struggling to parent.  I was struggling to do anything.  I would be driving around and feel stoned out of my mind.  I’d end up in places I had no intention of driving.  Just … out of it.  I was a mess, but life goes on, you know?  I kept on keeping on and trusted that something would happen.  And then, one day, something really fucked up happened and it changed everything.

I was in Savasana after my home practice one day and I truly heard something say, “It’s not what you do, it’s what you eat.”  I’m telling you, sleep deprivation does some crazy shit to a person.  I dismissed it until a couple of days later when the exact same thing happened. “It’s not what you do, it’s what you eat.”  I desperately looked around for Shoeless Joe Jackson.

No baseball players arrived on my mat.  sigh.

It happened one more time and, as daft as I can be, even I don’t ignore the power of three.  I started paying attention.  On the nights I had the worst time sleeping, I could look back on the day prior and notice what I ate.  I’d like to say it was clear to me what the problem was, but I can’t.  The log wasn’t perfectly clear, but something kept telling me to cut the grains from my diet.  ALL grains, not just gluten. All of them – rice, oats, barley, wheat, EVERYTHING.  No pasta, no crackers, no chips, no rice, no breads, nothing.  I don’t know why this made sense to me, I don’t know why I was getting this message, I don’t know why it was so urgent and clear and insistent, but it was.  My yoga practice has taught me to listen to myself.  To trust myself.  That greater, higher things speak to me through myself, so I better listen up.  And I did. Finally.

Almost 2 weeks ago, I cut ALL grains from my diet.  Cold turkey.  Gone.  I have replaced rice and even pizza crusts with cauliflower (gross, right? I thought so, too, but you can do AMAZING things with cauli.) I do eat quinoa because it is a seed and I have even ground that to make “flour” for binding bean burgers, etc.  Eggplant and zucchini make incredible “pasta.” Lettuce or Kale leaves make the perfect “bread” for sandwiches.  Anything you’d put in a wrap can be put on a fork. It has been easy for me to do this, which makes me think it’s the right path.  What makes me KNOW it’s the right path for me is that I haven’t used a sleep aid in 2 weeks and I have been sleeping deeply, soundly, uninterruptedly, for at least 6 hours straight a night for the last 10 days.  6 hours might not seem like enough to you, but remember, I was going on 2!  Not only that, but I feel like I’m going to soon be able to sleep longer.  My dreams are vivid and reassuring, empowering, healing, entertaining. They are fun!

There has been another benefit from all of this.  If I can’t eat grains, I also can’t eat 99.9% of all convenience or fast foods.  I am eating almost exclusively whole foods made in my kitchen.  No cans or boxes.  It’s fresh.  It’s healthy.  It’s real and it shows.  My skin is clearer, my hair is even longer and thicker (sorry,) and the ridges are starting to leave my fingernails.  I didn’t realize this side effect until yesterday. My family went camping Tuesday night and I ate a bratwurst that we had grilled over the fire.  Tasted great, no problem.  Yesterday, however, I had the most blinding headache I’ve had in a long time – it was because of the processed bratwurst!  Eye opening, for sure.  When I put it all together, I laughed and laughed and laughed.  It’s hilarious to me that I was eating all that junk all those years and not only did they make me crazy, they made me sick and I didn’t even know it.

While yoga alone wasn’t enough to cure my insomnia, it was a key point in it.  Yoga brought me to the place where I could see the way out, just like it always does.  Yoga isn’t the light, y’all.  Yoga is the road that LEADS to the light.  Had it not been for my practice, I’d be sitting here drooling on myself in exhaustion.  Because of my practice, I am awake, alert, and aware.  Oh I am aware!  Yoga built it and awareness came and you can bet that tonight, when the lights go out, I’ll be just fine.

Namaste

IMPORTANT: This is just my experience.  I don’t know if you need to stop eating grains.  I don’t even know why it works for me!  Please please please don’t change anything you’re doing just because some wingnut (me) on a blog said that she stopped eating spaghetti and can now sleep.  And also insert all that other stuff that medical disclaimers state.

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Food for the Soul (White Lotus part 7)

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Special thanks to my brothers and sisters born on the mountain – I snagged some of your pics for this post.

Breakfast

Every time someone goes on vacation, they are asked a lot of questions upon their return.  Invariably, “How was the food?” is one of the questions most often asked.  Of course folks want to know about food – who doesn’t love food?  It’s part of our heritage, our experience, our connection to the universe… it’s amazing.  The food at White Lotus was incredible and worthy of it’s very own blog post.

I mentioned that I would be on a vegan diet for 16 days while at The Lotus, but as it turns out, it wasn’t all vegan.  Yes, there were entire vegan meals and always vegan options, but there were also days when some meals had a little cheese on them, milk was served with almost every breakfast (of course, so was rice, soy, and almond milk,) butter was there for bread, and there were times when hard boiled eggs were available for breakfast.  There was no meat, however, of any kind.  So, vegan no, vegetarian absolutely.

Beautiful Bountiful Beatrix

Beatrix Rohlsen made 3 incredible meals for us each and every day.  The food never ended.  There was a huge serving area and it was filled with beautiful platters containing gorgeous foods for us to eat in abundance at each meal.  We had fresh fruit, rice cakes, crackers, almond and peanut butters, and at least 4 different jams available for snacks through out the day.  In the afternoons, we’d see Beatrix walk in, often with Skye, Nina, or Cricket (her assistants,) with her arms laden with fresh greens, vegetables, fruits, breads, and unbelievable other yumminess.  Every meal became a mystery and we couldn’t wait to figure out what we would be eating next.  Beatrix runs a tight ship – there is a right way to do everything and any variation on that way is mindblowingly wrong – and the rewards of such discipline were reaped each time we grabbed our plate and bowl and stood in line for an amazing meal. We each had to do 2 shifts of Kitchen Karma: helping set out the meal and cleaning up after.  Each person washed his or her own dishes after each meal, drink, and snack.  It was a community, but Beatrix was in charge.

Lunch

 

As I have said before, the amazing staff at White Lotus knew exactly what we needed when we needed it.  One day, we all seemed to be brain-dead.  We had absorbed all we could absorb, given all we could give, and there just wasn’t much left.  On that day, right before our afternoon session, a vision of beauty and inspiration appeared right before our eyes: HOME MADE CHOCOLATES.  I would have taken a picture of them, but a) they didn’t stick around all that long, and b) I’m not sure the image could have been captured, kind of like the face of Jesus in a potato chip: you know it’s there, but you cannot really convince anyone else…

What I CAN show you is the tofu cheesecake.  Now, let me just say that I’ve not ever been a fan of tofu.  I have loved the tofu salad at Main Squeeze for as long as I could remember, but that’s about it.  16 days at White Lotus, however, changed my mind.  Beatrix did things with tofu that made me wonder if I had been slipped some sort of drug – it was everywhere and nowhere at the same time!  She used it in soups and entrees and desserts and most of the time you had no idea it was there.  Case in point, look at this:

And yes, I ate every last little morsel.  She made a berry and almond cream something or other with tofu that was like soup, but served off a plate and eaten with a spoon that made me weep with gratitude.  TOFU, I’m saying…. who knew?

There was Seitan, lentils, tofu, Quinoa, beans, rice, tempeh, polenta, granola, and oatmeal, apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, grapefruits, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, and melons, salad and bread and muffins and soups soups soups and more soups.  There was more food than I have ever seen … and it allllll got eaten.  There was no waste – what didn’t get eaten the first time was repurposed and made into something else for another meal.  There’s a lesson in that….

What was even more incredible than how the food looked and tasted, however, was how it made me feel.  There was virtually no harm in any of that food.  It was real, fresh, healthy, and harmless.  I slept better, I had more energy, I felt happier, I felt whole.  Food was fuel, not sludge.  I felt balanced and pure and alive and awake and aware… and full.  Very very full – and not just in my belly, either.  My soul was full.  My heart was full.  My mind was full.  And it still is.

I have been home nearly a week and I still haven’t eaten meat.  I don’t know that I plan on it any time soon, although I’m not ruling it out.  I do know this – I don’t think I will ever eat without truly thinking of the consequences again.  We spent a good deal of time talking about the physical, social, socioeconomic, environmental, karmic, political, and economic impact of how we eat, and we watched a film or two about the impact.  There are some things you cannot unsee or unlearn.  There are choices to be made each and every time we feed ourselves.  I am here to tell you that it can be done without hurting anyone or anything.  If you choose to eat meat, you can make wise choices: eat organic, eat grass fed, eat lower on the food chain, eat sparingly, eat local, eat mindfully.  It’s possible -and it’s not all that difficult, either.

It is not my place to judge anyone – NO ONE has that right – but you can make a difference in your life and making a difference in your life makes a difference in the world.  We’re all on this planet together.  The Butterfly Effect is real. What we do has an impact on everyone and everything.  We matter.  It’s not a scary thing, it’s a glorious thing.  We are connected, for sure.

Beatrix has a cookbook out that contains many of her recipes.  Check out her website above to order.  ALSO, you can find many of her recipes on the White Lotus website.

So, pull up a cushion on the floor, cross your legs under the table, and join me for a meal.  I promise, you’ll leave with a happy belly and a happy soul.

Om shanti!