The medicine of Oregon Grape teaches us to stand in our own power, and not rely on our environment or others to bring us happiness. This is especially poignant in the month of February when society tells us that, on Valentine’s Day, we must seek happiness and love outside of ourselves.
The root of Oregon Grape, taken as a tincture or tea, can help with digestion, and can balance many issues that cause stomach and GI upset. The flowers and berries are edible, but should be consumed sparingly.
Immense gratitude to all of the plant wisdom found throughout Ktunaxa Ɂamakis wherein Ishtadev Niwas Ashram and Farm is so blessed to find itself.
During the last week that I was there, I was honoured to be part of the Laxmi Narayan Aradhana, which was a tribute to Sri Swamiji’s (Swami Satyananda’s) Panchagni sadhana. Panchagni is a sadhana of endurance, of focus, of purification, and of Grace in which one sits surrounded by 4 external fires, with the 5th being the hot sun above, and temperatures often reaching 100 degrees Celsius!
During one satsang, Swami Satsangi (Swami Satyasangananda) told us how Sri Swamiji used to say that we are all doing Panchagni, that we are all slowly burning up in the 5 internal fires of kama or desire, krodha or anger, lobha or greed, moha or attachment and mada or intoxication with pride. She explained that panchagni sadhana is done by a Paramahansa (someone who is no longer bound by the reality of dualism, and who has control of the elements - so please do not attempt this yourself as it can be potentially fatal for one who is unprepared) to purify these 5 internal fires completely and permanently, thus resulting in a permanent state of Atmabhava, the experience of oneness with everything.
These 5 frequencies of affliction are inside us all, and that is the key word here. Inside. If we don’t identify with one of them, say, anger for example (or if it has at least been purified enough not to be a habitual response), then no matter what comes at us in life, it cannot be the root of our response. It takes a healthy dose of courage to see when these 5 traits are calling the shots on our reality but, with dedication and persistence, when the noose of habitual responses is finally loosened, we evolve into a functional perspective steeped in awareness, clarity, and swadhayaya - self enquiry, which to me are the corner stones of true freedom.
Later in the same series of satsangs, Swami Satsangi uttered a sentence that I found so multi-layered that it is still reverberating in my being today. She said that this year it was Rikhia's sankalpa, or resolve, and our own duty, to be happy. She didn’t say enlightened, she didn’t say selfless, she didn’t say compassionate, she said happy.
My western mind at once dismissed it, “you can’t just ‘be happy.'" “That's a lovely sentiment,” my mind offered, “of course you can be happy, you live in Rikhia!” But as I sat with this, and all the other things she was talking about, I realized that she was right. It is our duty to be happy. We are responsible for our own 5 fires, and accountable to do the work to purify their hold on our reality. No matter what the outside world is dealing us, happiness is a choice. It is not the result of everything on the outside being ok, it is the fruit of having the right perspective on life from the inside. Happiness is an act of inner strength and the result of purification, since happiness is who we are, and not what we feel. Consider all the tools, techniques, examples shown by the masters guiding our lineage, blessings of all the aradhanas that we have born witness to and been a part of. It becomes clear. YES, we most certainly do have a duty to harness all the blessings and experiences in order to spread that love around by being happy. Genuinely happy.
Now, it's not that we won't experience hardship, challenge, sadness, nor upsetting events. We may. But when our happiness is not dependant upon the outside world, there is a space, an expansion inside our consciousness that allows us to be present with our reality in the current moment, and to then choose to be happy at the same time. It is not that we suppress or negate the things that trouble us. This happiness does not limit the pallet of our emotional experience; rather, it is a frequency, a perspective of awareness that can simultaneously experience the ups and downs of the duality of this external realm, while not becoming disturbed at the deepest level of our inner joy, of our inner happiness.
So, after sitting with this mandate for a week or so, while I appreciate Swami Satsangi's words that as sadhakas it is our duty to be happy this year, I believe that what she was actually saying is that it's time for us to take responsibility and be accountable for the 5 fires burning inside of us, because those fires deplete our ability to hold a space of inner happiness while moving through this dualistic world. We need to step up our commitment to Self, become stronger in our resolve to know thyself, have the courage to face our inner fires, not reject them, and then cultivate the opposite of them. When so many of our impulses are to buy into greed, hold onto attachments, placate our desires and unleash our anger, may we instead strive to cultivate and express the ability to choose different, to choose the opposite; to loosen the noose and experience our innate state of happiness.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” You cannot drive out anger with anger, you must cultivate acceptance; you cannot irradicate greed with greed, we must learn to let go, to share, and to give; we cannot neutralize pride with more pride, we must be the example of humility.
So, as we step into this beautiful February of 2019, may you find some time, no, may you make the time to explore your 5 fires, to cultivate your positive traits, and to be unwaveringly Happy.
Om and Prem,
the size, color, purpose and growing traits! Seed companies usually include detailed descriptions and pictures for each variety, so you’ll know what to expect in the garden. There are three main types of seeds to consider when looking at varieties for purchase; Hybrid, Open-Pollinated, and Heirlooms.
Hybrids are the result of crossing two varieties to create a plant that contains the benefits of both parents, however it is not possible to save seed from hybrids, nor to locally acclimatize them to your growing conditions. Hybrids work great in large-scale and mechanized systems, however may not be the best choice for long term sustainability.
Open-pollinated seeds contain a lot of genetic diversity and although they show some variation when grown, this variation ensures that the crop can adapt to climate change and weather extremes. The seed saved from open-pollinated varieties will grow true-to-type, meaning you can expect similar growth, traits, and yields every year. The added benefit to being able to save your own seeds is that every year you will be saving from your best plants, and as a result will be acclimatizing the crop to your own specific micro-climate! Of course, you'll also have your own seed, which saves money and increases your self-reliance.
Heirlooms are also gaining popularity, and for good reason. Heirloom seeds are simply open-pollinated varieties that have been grown in a specific location for many generations. Passed down by family members, heirloom varieties will have significantly acclimatized to their region and will have developed a chosen trait over time, such as a purple carrot!
Whatever type of seeds you choose, there are many excellent companies that sell a large variety of high-quality seeds that will ship to your door. We encourage the use of open-pollinated seeds, especially heirlooms in order to preserve rare and valuable varieties.
We’ve had great success Saltspring Seeds, West Coast Seeds, and especially Rare Seeds.
So, what’s next? We have to determine how many seeds we need before we order! There is a valuable resource to be found in the book titled How to Grow More Vegetables. The master charts contained within the book outline the volume of seed required to plant a pre-determined area, as well as optimal spacing, and details on how to grow every crop from seed to harvest. Typical yields are also included, so if you are aiming to grow 100 lbs. of potatoes, you’ll discover how large an area is required to do so!
Seed shopping is one of our favorite tasks, and we encourage you to take your time and enjoy the process. Before you know it, it’ll be time to sow those seeds!
~ by James Christie-Fougere and Sharon Coombs
Priyatma and I recently concocted a beautiful (and tasty) korma paste and paneer dish last month. So much joy and happiness was experienced in cooking with a friend and fellow student. I’ve pieced together a tasty and easy korma dish, adapted from Jamie Oliver's and the Hare Krishna veg cookbook. Enjoy!
For the Paste:
Toast (in a dry pan) and set aside:
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
Combine in a food processer or blender the toasted seeds and the following:
• 2 cloves garlic
• Thumb-sized piece fresh ginger
• ½ tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 tsp garam masala
• ½ tsp salt
• 2 tsp melted coconut, almond or peanut oil (add more if needed to make a paste)
• 1 large tbsp tomato paste
• 3 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
• 2 tbsp almond flour
• Small bunch cilantro
For the Korma Dish:
You can now add the paste you made above with 1 can of coconut milk according to any vegetable curry recipe of your choice.
For example, try frying 1 large onion in coconut oil, toss in another thumb-sized piece of ginger, another bunch of cilantro (or the stems from the paste), some cubed paneer and butternut squash. When the squash softens, add in the paste and can of coconut milk. Once it starts bubbling, throw in 1 or 2 handful of peas.
Serve with rice, naan or cauliflower rice, sliced almonds and/or plain yoghurt. Serves 6.
Enjoy with friends and family!
- compiled by Om Shanti Pelkonen
Living Yoga Blog
Learn to LIVE YOGA! Welcome to our collective blog with Ashram life and traditional Yoga articles, musings and recipes for living Yoga every day.