Asian Vegetarian Dumplings & Dip sauce

Dumpling satsang

We call this dumpling-satsang–spending the evening with young yogis, Sarah, Mandy & Jody making dumplings, listening to chant and chatting!

DUMPLINGS: (for more photos see our facebook link–soon…)

Buy pre-made dumpling wrappers at Asian food store made with flour, water, egg and little else.(not wonton wrappers)

Make a slaw of shredded cabbage, broccoli slaw, carrots, and a substantial amount of finely chopped green onions & substantial amount of chopped cilantro into a big bowl.

In frying pan simmer in order:
finely chopped/minced ginger and garlic in grapeseed or peanut oil; after 3-4 minutes
add finely diced mushroom (king oyster, crimini, whatever…) after they cook down 4-6 minutes
add combination of any: finely diced (or shredded) -tofu, -red peppers, -sweet peas or frozen peas; when softened ,
add cabbage slaw mix, after it wilts add, salt & pepper—-stir until wilted and remove from heat

fill dumplings by holding wrapper, smoothing water on half the lip, placing a large tablespoon of filling in center and pinching together the dry lip to the moist one, lay out finished ones on cutting board, place cutting board in freezer for a couple of hours then bag up your frozen dumplings for the future.

Cook from frozen by simmering gently in small amount of cooking oil (grapeseed or peanut) till both sides are crispy.

Serve with DIP SAUCE, combine to your liking:

balsamic vinegar, chili oil, sweet thai chili sauce & soya sauce (getting a nice balance of a sweet & sour, spicy, salty taste)

Serve with side of sliced avocados on top of brown basmati, drizzled with the same dip sauce and sprinkled with multi-colored sesame seeds (white, toasted, black)


Creamy Tomato Veg Soup, Rice Bowls & Drizzles

1layering the rice bowls

Creamy Tomato Veg Soup Recipe

(This is truly a “clean out the fridge” soup….mostly made with food you might otherwise dispose of, and in truth I don’t know what it would taste like with brocolli or cauliflower florets instead of stems….I have made it 3 times and its so very tasty that it has already become a favorite)

rough chopped 5-6 cloves of garlic and 1/2 large sweet onion, simmer in butter or olive oil until tender
add 2 (non-msg) veg broth cube, salt & pepper
add peeled and chopped broccoli stalks (3-5, or couple of handfuls of broccoli slaw)
chopped cauliflower stems (handful)
big handful of shredded cabbage, about 1/4 head (when I made it without cabbage it didn’t taste as nice)
some celery if you have it
some carrot if you have it
some potato if you have it
simmer till softened

When softened slightly, add strained tomatoes (1 or 2 large tins, or glass jars–I like Italian Bella Tavola)
top with equal amount of water
simmer, till all is tender and blend with immersion blender till relatively smooth
add milk or cream (or not)
add small chopped tomatoes if you have some needing to be consumed
add good handful of chopped fresh or frozen basil
adjust salt
top with Parmesan or feta & cracked black pepper when serving

Avocado Rice Bowl

I like to make a few variation of Avocado Rice Bowl, but I always start with Brown Basmati rice. I love that it has all the extra goodness of brown rice with the delicious pop-corny taste of Basmati, the brand I buy is “India’s Own”, its gmo free and the large 10lb bag costs a very reasonable $12.

Cook your brown basmati 1:2 with water in the rice cooker. meanwhile…For the Rice bowl in the photo:

prepare chopped vegetables (baby carrots, brocolli, cauliflower, pepper strips, snow or sweet peas, chopped kale)
prepare cubed avocado
have pumpkin, sunflower & sesame seeds handy
have drizzle made up (see recipes for ginger-soy & creamy balsamic dressing below)

in a deep steamer basket place in peeled baby carrots (let steam for 3 minutes)
add layer of broccoli Or cauliflower (let steam for further 3 minutes)
add other vegetables if you wish (pepper strips, snow peas, sweet peas etc) (steam for 3 more minutes)
add thick layer of chopped Kale (put on the lid, let simmer for 1-2 minutes)

layer the veg in reverse onto the rice, begining with kale etc.
top with avocado cubes, and seeds
drizzle with dressing I recommend: Ginger-Onion Soy, or Balsamic Cream (recipes to follow–below)

Summer “Fresh” Alternative:
Top hot rice with any fresh mixed baby greens, fresh shredded carrot, lightly steamed broccoli
top with avocado & pumpkin/sunflower/sesame seeds & drizzle

Pesto Roast Veg Rice Bowl;

Cook brown basmati rice 1:2 with water in the rice cooker. meanwhile…

Grill on BBQ an assortment of vegetables tossed in olive oil & seasoned with salt & pepper
(zucchini & eggplant slabs, sweet spanish onion, mushrooms, red pepper, etc)

Cubed or crumble feta or chevre goat cheese
Get almond slivers handy

Make pesto drizzle:
crush 2-3 cloves of garlic with salt
Add 2:1 olive oil & lemon juice,
add small handful of fresh or frozen minced basil
(you can add whole basil and blend with immersion blender)
add a tbsp of mayonnaise for extra creamy texture

Top hot brown rice with a variety of roast veg, handful of almonds slivers (for protein, so don’t be shy) and goat cheese, drizzle with pesto and cracked black pepper.

Japanese Ginger-Onion Soy Dressing

1:1 hunks of ginger & sweet onion roughly chopped should make at least 1/2 cup of veg,
1 part rice vinegar (not “sushi vinegar”–it contains sugar etc. and won’t taste right–wine vinegar is a good substitute, or balsamic in a pinch)
2 parts Good quality Soya Sauce or Tamari
2 parts flavorless oil (eg: grapeseed )
blend with hand blender/food processor until a nice thick sauce is created, taste & adjust to get balance between vinegar & salty-soy flavor
add some black and white sesame seeds for interest
alternatives: nice with added dash of sesame oil &/or honey

Balsami Cream Dressing
1 clove of garlic
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1/3 cup soya sauce/tamari
2 tbsp Engevita nutritional yeast
blend with immersion blender
taste and adjust to your liking.

Recipes from the Heart

Over the years I have created innumerable unique recipes to feed our family, friends and guests and I am constantly being told “you should write a cookbook”; but for years I have delayed it, printing out my recipes and/ or teaching them directly in my kitchen instead. However, today marks a new day in history, this is the day I begin compiling, photographing and posting some of my most requested and successful recipes for others to enjoy.
(I knew recipe books would be obsolete one day!)

What I like about cooking as opposed to baking, is the freedom to forgo measurements. Cooking is an art, not a science…its about being spontaneous and feeling it out—and using up what is in the fridge before it goes off!! (–truly, that’s important, waste is a shameful indulgence of western culture…and doesn’t fit with my yogic perspective) So, I apologize for not always providing measurements…I suggest relative amounts, I work by feel & customize to my own tastes…I suggest you do the same and you will be amazed at the results! I hope you can work with my recipes (you can always ask for more specifics if you want) and if you make alterations, please let me know how they worked out for you–I am always open to new ideas!

We are vegetarian yogis, so I don’t promote the consumption of sentient beings (shame, I had so many tasty meat recipes in the past…) Of course we recommend using the most conscious products you can find or afford: organic, gmo free, vegan etc; but its understandable if you don’t, today’s world doesn’t make it easy. Personally we still consume animal products cheese, milk etc–but I am sure you will find suitable substitutes if you don’t.

A good meal is a good excuse to gather around and share friendship, laughs and good times. I love cooking healthy, REALLY TASTY food, food that makes everyone say YUMMMMM (or AUMMMM if I have done an exceptionally good job…) What I have found to be the most important ingredient in all my meals is LOVE–So, I recommend to cook from your heart; people you love are going to eat your meals and imbibe whatever energy you have put into it, so think happy thoughts, sing, chant, meditate…Cook with love, I am not being trite, if you cook with love it always comes out right!

divine Duncan yoga-fest

One day last spring,  I was sitting along the wall of a building on Canada Avenue soaking up the early sunset, waiting on Paul to finish up some business. While I sat there I meditated for a while. When I opened my eyes I had a vision of people doing yoga on the grass around  the train station…and felt a calling.

Not being a yoga instructor myself, I began to formulate a scheme in which I would “hire” a teacher to teach a free class on the grass. The paying of the teacher would be done thru a collective of individual or corporate sponsors who would be willing to each pay a portion of  the class, ensuring the teacher got at least $75. per class. The teacher could then put out a basket for donations and the class would be held on the grass, open to all who could or could not donate.

The nice thing about being one of the collective who paid for the class, would be knowing that you were giving a gift to the wider community.

(corporate sponsors could include: coffee on the moon, duncan garage, thrifties, insurance companies, banks…etc)

I also thought perhaps we could include several teachers, teaching different nights of the week (and offering different practices…including drumming and chanting and dance) and have it available every “nice weather evening” in the summer…just at sunset , or after-work or after-dinner.

I saw this as the first step to creating a whole new persona for the town of Duncan, imagine becoming known as Divine Duncan (better than Drunken…)

I also saw this as the first step towards creating a larger weekend Yoga Festival which “Sun Lotus” would sponsor and coordinate…this was before I saw Sun Lotus as a non-profit, but now it all makes so much sense!!

Reading up on the Tadasana Yoga Festival in Santa Monica recently has totally inspired me to revisit this concept.  I was called to host the little festival here 2 years ago, and I think that was just practice for the real thing!

This summer I would love to put this vision into action…and I wonder, would you like to join me?

As I finish this article, today May 2013 about 14 months after beginning it, I am astounded as to how life has unfolded in such as way as to make this vision come true.

Today, while working at Slice of Life Cafe, Longevity-John dropped in and I had a chance to ask about the prospects of doing free yoga on the grass at the train station. This vision is coming closer to reality since Paul is more than mid-way thru his 300hr yoga teacher training course, which we serendipitously won at the Victoria Yoga Conference earlier this year, and we have been operating as a yoga B&B for a couple of weeks with our first 3 very eager and encouraging participants from the UK. It has been an exhilarating experience to discover how much I love to teach yoga and meditation and how Paul is, in his own right, a wonderful yoga teacher with a unique laid back style. we have discovered so many new layers of ourselves already I cannot even imagine what the future holds!

Long-John was very enthusiastic, recommending that I begin with the advent of the summer festival which runs for 5 weeks and then hopefully continue on, he mentioned that it was good timing to talk to him as he is attending a festival planning meeting next week. This vision seems meant to be, and this seems to be the year it will happen…I cant wait to see it unfold and I hope to see you there!


…To Forgive Divine

What is forgiveness, and why is it an important spiritual principal in most religions? This is further proof that all religions are based on yogic thought.

Forgiveness relates to the three fundamental tenets of the YOGIC mental state, that of: non-judgement, non-attachment and non-resistance.

It has become an indisputable fact in our house that my trip to India was the best thing that we could have done for ourselves. I am much calmer, happier, and deeper into my practice. Paul has had  massive personal growth & habit change, as well as a huge spiritual break thru–which he attributes to the change in my vibration. Paul and Ginger’s relationship is infinitely better and Ginger has matured significantly–in fact, at this moment, I can confidently say that our whole family is finally on the right track and doing really well…everything on the home front has come together (the power of manifestation at work)—and, just in the nick of time!!

This week I must face the local government to request them to rescind an injunction against operating Sun Lotus whilst in the process of re-zoning. Later in the month I am to present the official request to re-zone; This meeting was supposed to occur 2 days before I left for India; but, at the very last minute, one of the councilwomen suggested that I attempt for an “institutional zone” rather than a “commercial zone”. This new zone makes provisions for spiritual retreats, health and wellness centers, public assembly etc etc…exactly what we currently needed; and in fact was a much better fit for both our (particularily, my) goals and our neighborhood. This put me in the position to begin to refer to ourselves as a spiritual center, rather than a commercial enterprise…It also caused a huge delay in the processing of my rezoning application.

While in India, the thought that when I returned I would, in essence, be forced to rezone and develop Sun Lotus into a legitimate spiritual retreat center–really struck me as “a not so coincidental coincidence”. The fact that I was in India while contemplating this, was also “a not so coincidental coincidence”…(if you read my previous post called “setting the stage”…you will see the tremendous amount of serendipity that enabled that trip to happen).  The state of affairs between Paul and I seemed very contradictory to the path that we seemed to be heading towards…how can we become a spiritual center, when clearly Paul was not feeling so spiritual…and our life together didn’t reflect the bliss that I know yogic life brings. How could Paul possibly walk the talk, and how could I stay the course when the going gets tough.

When I first returned home I was extremely peaceful feeling and optimistic however,  Paul was as nasty and cold as cold towards me. This pushed me to seek out meditation more and more. Whenever I felt slightly drawn into the negativity or emotionally burdened, I would retreat to my private room, and meditate. There were days I cried, because I didn’t believe I had the strength to withstand the emotional onslaught…I worried that I would not be able to maintain my equanimity in the face of such negativity. I naively thought that Paul was a sucking vortex I couldn’t escape. The first 10 days home were almost hell (in my own mind).

It took me quite awhile to recognize that his behavior was actually a blessing to me–but it was, It caused me to earnestly seek my inner depths in a way I had never done before, with tools that I never had before (given to me by the satguru Amma) This is when I developed my yoga-dance practice, made some great strides in my book and deepened my faith and meditation to a whole new level.

With my deepened practice, (and with the blessings I brought home from Amma) Paul could not maintain his negativity for long. Eventually he succumbed to the higher vibration. If you read my entry “Ma Aum” you would see the events that finally cracked him open. But, most recently, he sat and meditated with me and had a mind-blowing experience. He said that he felt he was visited by Amma, that he felt the connection to the 30 million people she has hugged, he felt he received messages from the universe, he felt the celestial love and he said, that everything was different for him now, all his values were different—he understands that he needs to live a life of service. Recently, divine guidance has taken over and an entire vision of our direction has become very clear to me, and now to Paul as well.  He whole-heartedly agreed with my most recent idea to make Sun Lotus into a non-profit. He said he saw it all!! (in truth, I have never felt so aligned with him as I do right now….despite my doubts along the way, I realize now, we are definitely on the same path-together…)

After we made this decision, many blessings began to flow to us very quickly; we were given a brand-new digital camera and a 5 year old Macintosh computer, found a fuel efficient working passat for only $500. (exactly the car I had been wishing for due to good mileage) and got approval for a remortgage of the house, and I spontaneously got an opportunity to host a Oneness blessing training session in exchange for the training. So last weekend I became an initiated “Oneness Blessing Giver”–this is the first time I have become publicly acknowledged or accredited in any kind spiritual practice. I feel it has come at exactly the right time, in short, I feel exactly on the right path at the right time.

When I look back over all the challenges, thru all the years,  that have brought me to this moment; a moment that I know is the perfect unfolding of destiny, I realize there have been many times when I have judged or resisted what was–especially when it comes to Paul. But, I did not have the full picture. This is where forgiveness comes in. How can I not forgive Paul for past behavior if it moved me (and ultimately us) in the right direction? Thats why forgiveness is divine…because it is ultimately the result of non-judgement, non-resistance and non-attachment–it is ultimately the recognition that no matter what the transgression is, it is in someway the unfolding of divine destiny…and we don’t know the “why’s and wherefore’s”.

This divine forgiveness must also be applied to myself when I think back over things that I could have done better, or things I could be doing better right now….I have had strange nagging guilt about silly little habits that I used to have…I sometimes have guilt about things I do right now.  I have needed to recognize I am growing, and as I grow and deepen my practice and spiritual understanding I come to  recognize these behaviours as wrong…so I change them, but I dont need to feel guilty about them...just accept, forgive, move on and be divine!

Inspired to dance

While in India, I visited several vedic astrologers at Ammas ashram, including winning a prized, last-minute appointment with the “ashram shaman” Mohan who gave me some very interesting details about my life and several curious directives;  such as to “donate lemons and limes whenever the opportunity presents”–strangely enough, every summer I have an abundance of lemons and limes from weddings and I do already donate them to people; he told me to put these words on my wall above my bed “this too shall pass”–coincidentally(?) I have had those exact word written in chalk on a beam above my bed since last spring (although Paul had erased it, while I was gone) –He told me to donate school supplies/paper/pencils, the like–and just the previous day, I had donated all my arts supplies: paper, pens, pencils etc to a kids peace/art project (….there was plenty more, but that’s another story…) Until I met Amma, I never believed in astrology; but, because I  believe in Amma, and her sanctioning of astrologers to practice at her ashram implies that they are purveyors of truth, 2 days before I departed I spontaneously decided to book several appointments to get readings for both me and my family.

In my earnest quest to move along a positive path, I decided that I would listen carefully, be very present, believe wholly,  and follow as many directives as possible. So, immediately after my appointment with this “Shamanic astrologer” I planted an old silver trinket  under a neem tree, gave away some small electrical appliances, donated green clothing to a dark skin person, bought that red powder from the temple, and attempted to feed a vulture at the Trivandrum zoo…One of the things the astrologers suggested, after knowing there were issues between Paul and I,  was that I had a lot of sexual energy and that I should practice dancing to spiritual music to work through it or burn it off. (I think I knew this already…too)

When we do wedding viewings on Sundays,  we  spend the whole morning cleaning up the main lounge and surroundings–then Paul takes Ginger off-site for some fun, leaving me to do the work of selling weddings. When my viewings are done, I look around  the perfectly clean house, crank up some tunes and dance my heart out…through the years this is what I have always referred to as my “moment of  pure bliss”.  Ever since we moved to this house I have been trying to create a way to bring dance into our life on a regular basis….although I am not much of a dancer, I have always been a firm believer in the power of dance to harmonize my mind, body and soul, and to bring me energy, health and happiness.   I have held the occasional small dance parties (equipped with belly dance attire) for my female-volunteers and friends; and have hosted a weekly kundalini dance class in the summer, I have invited Zumba teachers to use my space and I have even fantasized  about a weekly alcohol-free community dance party.

In the past I have experienced a very lame yoga-dance class; a phenomenal, but esoteric kundalini/chakra dance class; a really fun & energetic zumba dance class ; and several formal belly dance classes.   But I have not found the perfect dance class that suits all my criteria. Since studying & practicing  yoga,  I have had a recurring thought to develop and offer a totally unique style of  yoga-dance class. One that would fit all my criteria to make a perfect yoga & exercise class…bearing  in mind,  that I am no way a great dancer–nor a yoga-asana teacher…yet this thought has consistenly and persistently popped into my head on numerous occasions…so when the astrologer suggested that I needed to danceI knew he totally right.

So, since I’ve come home, I have been avidly listening to “Sacred Sounds Radio” during the day and writing down the names of  artists and songs that I would love to collect for this spiritual-dance-practice…and thinking,  “yes…, it would be good to deal with some of this pent up energy”–which I suspect is manifesting itself in an over-consumption of cheese products–oh yeah, I am also trying to get the hang of being  a dedicated vegetarian;  not only because the astrologer said so–but, he did put the final nail in the meat-eater’s coffin.  Besides, being vegetarian and dancing both fit well within this winter’s mandate of getting in shape! (44 is bearing down on me…only a few days to go…and if I want to move into yoga retreats this summer, I really want to walk the walk…)

I don’t have the money to go to hot yoga at the moment; and for years, I have been chastising myself for not being disciplined enough to create a personal practice that I can stick to. However,  since I’ve been home, I have been faithfully meditating every morning and faithfully using the elliptical trainer every afternoon–  Usually when I get on the trainer, I listen to “Radio Paradise” and breath my mantra MA AUM (with gratitude that  I can so easily pace this mantra  to my breath…) It’s extra motivation to get on the trainer, knowing I will be able to use my mantra and do some meditation at the same time.

Several days ago, alone in my living room with “Sacred Sounds Radio” blasting from the internet, and  heavenly-rose incense burning  in my plants. A remarkable set of spiritual songs came on that really got me dancing  and stretching and remembering the Astrologer’s suggestion. I cranked it up really loud, and for more than a hour, got totally lost in the dancing, stretching  and chanting all by myself, but feeling very tapped-in.  Suddenly a complete methodology for a  dance practice came to me.

I have since practiced this method every afternoon and am refining it daily.  I am finding the results both amazing and so inspiring that I am compelled to share it.   Keeping in mind that beyond the initial stretch series, there is no outside judgement, directives or corrections given, therefore I heareby “krish– en” this new, unique-dance practice as:

(to be announced)

MA AUM ॐ it’s that good!

Beware, this is going to get a little sexy.

When I was in India, I did not get a mantra initiated to me by a guru. While at Sivananda’s I wasn’t feeling called to request it; and whenever we were asked to “repeat mentally our mantra or any other sacred symbols” I simply used Sat Nam (this is used in Kundalini yoga, and comes from Sikhism, and is in the language called Gurmukhi) It is generally translated to mean something like, “there is one truth/one God” and in this application it further means  “I embody that truth” (…it is recommended by Guru Nanak to repeat Sat-Nam to realize the All-pervading Supreme Reality). Anyway, it was working for me, I would breath in Sat and breath out Nam…knowing that I was concentrating on evoking an image of the “true reality that involves me”.

After spending some time at Ammas, and meditating with her. I adopted the basic (but wholly profound) mantra they suggest at meditation (in her words–as expressed by the translator):

” Mentally breath in MA (as the syllable representing universal cosmic love) and breathe out Aum (as the symbol of universal cosmic light)”

When I looked up “Ma” in sanskrit, I found its relative meaning to be “Natural Mother”–I see the relationship–your natural mother is the source of ultimate compassionate love (or so she should be…) and natural mother can refer to the earth, or Mother Nature who of course, ceaselessly and tirelessly supports us everyday in everyway.

I assumed I understood the general meaning of Aum, but decided to research it again. Here is a brief summary of some of the most important points:

AUM/OM ॐ   ओम्     a long or over-long nasalized close-mid back rounded vowel[õːː])


AUM ॐ is generally described as all-encompassing mystical entity–and that’s what makes it so intriguing.

“Om is not just a sound or vibration. It is not just a symbol. It is the entire cosmos, whatever we can see, touch, hear and feel. Moreover, it is all that is within our perception and all that is beyond our perception. It is the core of our very existence. If you think of Om only as a sound, a technique or a symbol of the Divine, you will miss it altogether. ….. Om is the mysterious cosmic energy hat is the substratum of all the things and all the beings of the entire universe. It is an eternal song of the Divine. It is continuously resounding in silence on the background of everything that exists.”

Amrit Ray (Om Chanting & Meditation)

Before creation, there was “Shunyākāsha”, an emptiness or void. Shunyākāsha literally means “no sky”–BUT it is more than what we conventionally think of as “nothingness”–because in this void, everything existed in a latent state of potentiality.  As creation began, the Divine, all-encompassing Consciousness took the form of the first-original vibration,  and manifested as the sound “OM”.  AUM is said to be the primordial sound that was present at the creation of the universe. It can be called the Name of GOD, or the Vibration of the Supreme. It is said to be the original sound that contains all other sounds, all words, all languages and all mantras.

(How do they know this? Enlightened beings know everything–they become knowledge itself--but that’s another topic…)

The syllable consists of three phonemes,

“A” Vaishvanara, “U” Hiranyagarbha and “M” Iswara, which symbolize the beginning, duration, and dissolution of the universe and the associated gods BrahmaVishnu, and Shiva, respectively.

When taken letter by letter,  A-U-M represents the Divine Female-Energy (Shakti) uniting with its three elementary aspects: Bhrahma Shakti (creation), Vishnu Shakti (preservation) &  Shiva Shakti (liberation/ destruction).  Keep in mind that “Brahma/Vishnu/Shiva”  is the Divine Male-Matter.


“A”-kara means form or shape, like earth, trees, or any other object. “U”-kāra means formless or shapeless like water, air or fire. “Ma”-kāra means neither shape nor shapeless (but still exists) like the dark energy content of the Universe.

“AUM”  then, is the reflection of the absolute reality.   Essentially, upon full-enlightenment one is able not only to see existence for what it is–but to become one with it. When one gains true knowledge, there is no split between knower and known: one becomes knowledge/consciousness itself. In essence, Om  signifies the ultimate truth, that all is one.

Yet another translation:

Aum has three syllables. A represents the waking state. Urepresents the dreaming state. M represents the state of deep sleep. Aum in its entirety, plus the moment of silence which follows it, represents  shanti–the peace beyond understanding.

The first syllable is A, pronounced as the English word “awe,” but prolonged: “aaa.” The second syllable is U, as in “roof,” pronounced “oo” but prolonged: “ooo.” The third syllable is M, pronounced “mm” with the front teeth gently touching and the sound prolonged: “mmmm.” Each repetition is sounded for about seven seconds, with two seconds on A, two seconds on U and three seconds on M, with a silence of about two seconds before the next repetition. The three syllables are run together: AAUUMM (silence), AAUUMM (silence), AAUUMM (silence). On the first syllable,A, we feel the solar plexus and chest vibrating. On the second syllable, U,the throat vibrates. The third syllable, M, vibrates the top of the head. Thus, proper chanting of Aum also is a high form of yoga, moving energy from the lower chakras of the body up to the highest chakra, or energy center — the sahasrara chakra at the crown of the head.

For both Hindus and Buddhists this syllable is sacred, and so laden with spiritual energy, that it may only be pronounced with complete concentration…it is also recommended that you have a good understanding of its meaning.

Now that you do, I will remind you that it is said:

That one, uttering the monosyllable Aum at the time of departing the body (death),  attains the Supreme Goal (enlightenment).  

<Must remember that!>

Anyhoo…back to my story.

When you receive darshan, a blessing from Amma (in her case–a hug) you may attempt to talk to her, ask her questions, ask for a mantra, ask for a spiritual name, or have things or people blessed.  I believe I asked for a mantra 2 times from her, maybe 3?  I know for sure that the last time I requested mantra, I was more determined to get it and so I waited until the very end and was virtually the last person to go through. This I did, so that I would be around for when she gives mantras–which, if she sees fit, happens at the end of Darshan. She didn’t see fit…again!!! I must say I did feel a little left out in the cold…Apparently having a mantra initiated to you is like having a life-preserver…whenever you are in trouble, stressed, feeling disconnected from the truth and or your guru…a mantra will bring you back–save you, as it were.  In fact, chanting your mantra should become so second nature to you that even when you don’t think about it, it should be playing in the back of your mind….keeping your mind constantly tuned towards enlightenment and reducing the endless chatter of the busy monkey mind.
I thought, how could she let me leave her ashram without giving me a so-called “life preserver”?…Anyway, apparently you aren’t suppose to question what a Satguru does…they do everything for your own good and their only goal in life is to lead as many people as possible towards enlightenment. So, mildly concerned,  I left her ashram with nothing but “Ma Aum” to keep me warm at night!
I have been using Ma Aum, regularily. I am happy to report that I don’t believe I have missed more than one day of meditation since I have come home…I have most regularly been doing 5-15 minutes every morning, but on occasion have also done a little more during the day or at night before bed.  
At first I found Ma/Aum to feel inverted, I felt almost as if I wanted to Inhale Aum and Exhale Ma…even though the directives were the opposite. In my quest to perfect this mantra and use it to the best of its ability, I have added a  visualization to it. I inhale Ma and visualize sunlight coming into my head and flooding down my body. To keep myself from “thinking & talking to myself” I concentrate on  really “feeling” this as a sensation of “pure love”–characterized by that ethereal sensation of being awed & embraced by nature. Then on the exhale Aum,  I visualize myself emanating light & compassionate love primarily from my heart (chakra) center, thru my arms and hands–I try to “feel” it flowing from me and surrounding my family, friends and the world at large. With rather consistent practice over the last couple of months I have gotten much better at concentrating  and keeping focused.  
I have decided to attempt to keep a some distance between Paul and I; and one of the main steps was to create my own bedroom and little spiritual sanctuary out in the Studio. It has taken me until now to get it ready for habitation. I thought I would begin to stay in it as of next week.  But a very agitating blow-up with Paul’s mother drove me into it earlier than expected. I have now slept peacefully in my own space for 2 nights.
Before this however, I was still sharing a bed with Paul. It has been a very ambiguous time, in theory we are separated–but still co-habiting, and until now, still sleeping in the same bed…we still love each other in someway…not all ways, nor always…but some ways and sometimes;  And I,  for one was told by the vedic astrologers not to hold back affection for Paul despite the situation–“that love is always good”. So I came back with the mindset to continue to be affectionate and try to be loving no matter what–I also think it is in Ginger’s best interest to see her parents being affectionate.
The last couple of weeks sharing a bed has been a weird experience, especially since I feel so distanced from Paul, and yet so familiar–despite our troubles, my natural instinct has always been and still is, to curl up to him to steal some of his abundant heat, to caress his skin , scratch his back or to hold his hand.  It was clear from Paul’s icy cold approach to me, he wasn’t interested in being touched by me.  But it was difficult, unnatural and uncomfortable to refrain from this.  So sometimes while I was awake crawling-the-walls with the timeshift,  I would just sit up and meditate in bed “Ma  Aum” and hope beyond hope, that I could affect some positive change, some healing in Paul by virtue of his close proximity. Generally I didn’t register any noticeable success, until one day after about 10 nights of practicing.  Paul lay there fast asleep, I laid my hand upon his chest/heart and meditated with deep concentration and focus, I visualized Amma sending her abundant pure-love out into the world (as described above), I visualized myself receiving it while I inhaled “MA”  and then I exhaled “Aum” and visualized/felt love, light and healing coming out of my hand into his heart.  I felt myself sending him my equanimity…I managed to concentrate enough energy and focus to truly have a concrete sensation of this exchange. 
I based this experiment on something that I had read that very day in a book from Amma….apparently Amma just cured someone of leprosy and the devotee is staring awestruck at her…Amma says: you are wondering how I performed this healing? then she laughs…the devotee says: why are you laughing? Amma says: you have this power too, but you don’t know it.  Previously I had also read a book called the Intention Experiment and it contains many descriptions of how healers work; how they focus their energy and concentrate it into their hands…this is verifiable by various scientific machines which show the heat and light emanating from the healers hands…(yes, believe it or not,  our bodies, yours and mine,  all emit a low level light all the time…) 
Remarkably, within seconds of finishing and returning to my mind–Paul woke up, immediately begun to gently caress me and for the first time since I had come home…showed me some real affection (wink wink)
That is not the truly sexy part of this story though…The truly sexy part is an amazing revelation that came to me yesterday.  
As I said, I had this big blow-up with my MotherInLaw. It happened the day before yesterday; I didn’t say much, but she had some choice things to say to me–enough that I realized having dinner at her place was not really going to be very comfortable after-all and I excused myself and retired, for the first time, to my own little spiritual sanctuary…I like to call it my “cave”. The agitation that this situation aroused in my mind instantly caused me to seek my inner depths where I know the waters of my soul were still & crystal clear–so I did some meditation and successfully wrote a good chunk of  a chapter for the book, and felt initiated to my cave by a great night’s sleep!
The next day, Paul took Ginger out of the house. This left me time to think of the inevitable conversation I would have to have with his mother. I realized that I really desired some good cardio-vascular exercise, and since getting in shape is part of my mandate this winter…I thought I should jump on the elliptical trainer. I blasted tunes from Radio Paradise on-line, climbed on and began moving. As I began to rev up, I realized that without thinking about it, I had begun chanting Ma Aum in my laboured breath…then I realized that my breathing sounded the same when I used to jog…(even though I didn’t know it at the time, Jogging had become a meditation for me–it always made me feel terrific, my mind would feel clear and free…I always said it was like doing mental housework). Whats more though, I realized that my breathing sounds the same when, when,…you know…then…  By this time, I was fully immersed in movement, breath, rhythm and thought–my whole body from my head to my butt was swaying to the music …Then it hit me; the free-swinging arm on the elliptical trainer–it hit me in the head !! I had been lolling my head to and fro, completely oblivious to the moving arms of the machine,  I was holding the steady ones in the middle!  
But then this hit me; something I have always tinkered with in my mind, but have been reluctant to talk about. This suspicion I have that  finally reaching enlightenment is going to be like a giant cosmic/spiritual orgasm– leading to an eternal state of pure-bliss;  And the closer you get to it, the more fervently you want it…
This mantra,  Ma Aum can really sounds like the sounds of lovemaking…of the climb to climax (and based on its meaning, really are the sounds of love and creation–love & making). Also interesting to note is that Ma is a “bi-labial sound” (meaning it requires two lips) while Aum causes opens those lips.  Accordingly, Ma acts as the receiver ( the inhale) and Aum the giver (the exhale). 
(By the way, why do we call it lovemaking, when surely lots of us do it without  “Love” actually being involved?…maybe that’s a clue to the deeper spiritual association that we inherently know should be there…) 
Think about this too, it is a known fact that most people, from most cultures around the world, religious or not, ALL call out to God in seeking sexual climax;  and as we know, in English  it is usually preceded by “Aum”…as in “Aum-my-god”…sound familiar? (another side thought, I think many women, including myself make some kind of Aum sound when finally giving birth)
They say that enlightenment is a protracted state of ultimate pure bliss…therefore it is not inconceivable to relate it to the moment of orgasm and beyond, when shakti (female energy) meets male-matter, when creation begins,  when everyone squeals an ecstatic  variant of “Aum”; and then finally rests in  a perfect savasna-bliss.
“Enlightenment”…it really is THAT GOOD!!
(this could be mostly just blither that I wrote…)

setting the stage

Okay, so here’s the low-down.  Part of my reason for running off to India at this point was because my relationship with Paul right now is extremely challenged. Actually we had a very good last summer together, very peaceful, cooperative and before it ended (early September) we went on several very nice camping trips, just him, Ginger and I.  Although he has abandoned his yoga practice altogether, and mine was on hiatus (although I am always reading),  we seemed to be maintaining  a peaceable loving relationship and I thought we were actually doing very well. Then fall came around and we did the take-down for the season. Out of the blue, I noticed one day that Paul didn’t look like his usual self…it was apparent that he had used drugs, acid, in fact. I was disheartened, but let it go. Besides its so hard to be mad at him when he’s high on acid–with that gentle, loving look and demeanor that acid always imparts…his eyes all shiny, dilated and blissed-out.

In the meantime I was working hard to get everything done, so I could leave to visit my mother on October 1st for 2 weeks–she was having a long awaited and somewhat feared, gastric bypass surgery and I wanted to help support her transition back to the reality of life with a stomach as small as a golf ball. I would also be leaving Ginger with Paul for the first time ever. (although not excuses, these situations were weighing heavy on my mind). One of the main organizing chores about a week before I left was to remove all wedding decor and accessory items from the main room into storage in the bus. The bus is not a great storage solution, it gets heavy condensation all winter and most items are covered in mold and need washing in the spring. Paul took on this massive task with two workers. After some time, I went out to check how things were progressing and found to my surprise, Paul with dilated glassy-eyes coordinating events. Again, I had to let it go–but requested that he takes very special care to wrap everything, sort and store things well. He promised that he was “ON-IT”–yeah, sure,  I know what you are on!!!

Days before I left, I popped into the bus to check it out before I left. To my dismay, I found skis and boots mixed in with boxes of wedding decor items, and valuable loads of fabrics and paper lanterns and other delicate items left unprotected, and a general massive disarray.  I admit it, I lost my cool, all the years of yogic study and understanding when out the window–I totally became unconscious and reactionary–totally lost my center–fixated on the form, and became about as unyogic as possible–I found myself reacting exactly as I would have 4 years ago! I absolutely blew my stack–hit the roof!  Cursing all the way, I corrected what was needed, removed all the delicate items into the house and vowed that I would not do Paul’s dirty work anymore. When he got home, I laid into him like nobody’s busines. I was enraged, he became enraged (although I personally thought he had no right to be)–it was damaging. No apologies were made either direction before I left for Ontario days later.

While in Ontario, Paul refuse to talk on the phone with me. Giving me only the briefest of answers to any question and sometimes refusing the answer the phone when I called. By the end of the two weeks, I asked him what was up and surprising to me, he said he was still mad at me for “talking to him that way”…funny, I thought I was the one who had the legitimate grievance–and I had already let it go.

He sent his mom to pick me up at the ferry. When I asked how Paul was doing, she said he is very depressed, “you two should figure something out” and “that thing you got so mad about, Paul and Peja checked on it, it wasn’t really so bad, and you really overreacted…” Hmm, I thought. interesting. “Did Paul happen to mention that he was high on drugs when he did the chore and that I already fixed up the problem before I left?” There was very long silence after that.

The greeting from Paul when I got home was so cold and miserable–that I thought–I’ve got to get the hell out of here immediately and for a good, long time….I immediately thought I should go to India and write my book. I began researching ashrams that very night.

Fortunately, certain things were in place in a way they have never been before….the stars were aligned as it were.

1. The test of leaving Ginger with Paul for 2 weeks was successful.

2. Ginger would be in full-time school for the first time this year.

3. Peja was living here, so Paul was not actually going to be alone.

4. Paul’s parents, Omi & Opa,  are now living on site.

5. December/January is the lowest work time for me…and since we are in flux with rezoning I couldn’t upgrade the website. (my usual winter work)

6. We just refinanced the house and funny enough, had cash available–for the first time ever!!

7. We just made an application to rezone, but since it was an election year they wouldn’t be following up with anything before February.


After Paul adjust to the idea–he got right on board with it.  Before I left, I had meeting with the cvrd council and discovered that applying for commercial zoning would not fly well, but that another zone called P2 seems like an ideal fit…its for education, spiritual institutions, health & wellness centers, botanical gardens and allows camping as it pertains to events.  Thats it!! I  quickly changed our application to reapply as a “spirituality institution”…which met with a dubious and sarcastic reaction from the council–until, I mentioned  I would be indisposed until mid-January as I was going to an Indian ashram to study yoga. hmmm. perfect!

I quickly made a plan to stay at Sivanada’s ashram in Kerala, South India. I sent my passport to Vancouver for my Indian visa and was very lucky that they didn’t notice that I had neglected to sign it.  Then literally,  the day before I left, I sold our last 2 weddings, bringing us to 8–exactly what I already told the cvrd we were hosting next summer.

The stage was set…almost.

Just 3 weeks before I left, I hadn’t bought my ticket yet…and one night I had a complete nervous breakdown. I started thinking about my previous experiences in India, how the abject poverty & excruciating suffering  is inescapable. I vividly recalled women, seated on the sidewalks weakly tugging at my pant legs, begging for food and money with tiny starving babies in their frail arms…suddenly,  I thought–I can’t do it….I cant face that now, not now, after having a child of my own! I had a complete melt down, I lay in bed shaking and crying for about a hour–devastated by this sudden realization and the implications–I could never go back to India! It is times like this where meditation is so helpful.  Finally I got myself calmed down and meditated for about 7 minutes, shutting out all thoughts and reactions–just breathed.

When I came back to my mind, I recognized that whether I was there to witness it or not, the poverty and suffering would still occur. I realized too that  the last times I was in India I was 22 and 26; and at that time I gave away food and money and wanted to give away all my money, but I realized that if I did, I would not be able to experience that reality.  (I realized now that anybody I helped before has probably already died and has been replaced by hundreds, maybe thousands more)  Back then I vowed I would absorb the reality of the situation and someday do something about it–someday when I knew more, or had more.  Now was that time! I was going to study yoga, write my book and hopefully help set the world on a better course…I could look at the suffering, and although I would feel their pain, I could use that to motivate me even more–I could face the reality, knowing that I am trying!

Just days before I left, I had a thought that perhaps I should have a backup plan for Sivananda’s (since they have such a tough schedule…) so I looked up other ashrams in Kerala…and the one that I took note of was Amritapuri, led by the living female guru called Amma, known as the hugging saint. The ashram didn’t sound appealing to me based on the website, it had no formal yoga program, and promised to be very busy over xmas and new years–they also didnt state the price of accommodations. It sounded a bit mickey-mouse to me, a bit Disney-land of ashrams…but I wrote the information down in my little book, just in case.

The very next morning, Arwin my neice, came to visit Ginger and I noticed that she was wearing a little red ring with a face on it…the face, I recognized, was Amma. I asked her about it. She said that her auntie on the other side of the family was going to India for 7 weeks to see Amma–I said, hmm, well auntie Anita is going to India for 7 weeks and I might see Amma too…as I said this, I knew this was no coincidence and  I had to visit her too, at least briefly.

Now, the stage was set…









I am a Flower, I am a Song

I have just returned from 2 months in India; mostly I stayed with Amma (Shri Mata Amaritanandamyi Devi) a living satguru–I have not slept more than 12 hours in the last 4 days including my 50 hour journey time–I think this is what is keeping me awake… I did not receive this as a direct teaching from Amma, more like a transmission. I will write more about my experience meeting the amazing Divine Mother in the flesh, but for now, I want to share my encapsulated learning. This is a very important section of my book and I am so glad to have received it tonight. (please do not reprint it in any form–comments and suggestions are welcome) Not-coincidentally, I recall just now as I write this, that Amma doesn’t like people to pick flowers even to bestow at the feet of deities–a common custom in India. Overflowing with compassionate motherly love, she sees even that as an act of violence. Also, she says that singing devotional songs is one of the best/easiest ways to enlightenment…I sung many Bajans with Divine Mother and felt the incredible and unmistakable love in her amazingly poetic prose. There are so many miraculous ways that my The Book and Amma are aligned …I guess that’s why she called me home.


From space we are a single perceivable unit–Earth; from microscopic we are an infinite sea of molecular matter, space, and energy. From the mind we are “I”-ego, individual, seemingly entirely important and independant, perceiving and decisively reacting to an incredibly slim dimension of the impermanent illusion that masquerades as the whole of reality.

My spirit/energetic force can perceive and connect to the whole of actual reality if  “I” dissconnect from my mind’s limited sense perception. If I maintain that disconnection–and maintain the connection to the whole, then I achieve a higher conciousness–Enlightenment…and can live in a state of perfect-bliss, completely unattached to the illusion.

Simply unable to live unharmoniously because “I” no longer exist. “I” need nothing, want nothing, crave nothing.

Like a beautiful flower, I look to the sun and take from the earth only what sustains me.

When all others join me, the illusion is paradise.


Why is a flower beautiful? To support the bees.

Why are there bees? To support the humans.

Everything is here to support something else.

We are here to be sweet, harmonious chords in the magnificent, symphonic song of universal life.

(we are here to be beautiful flowers in the magificent, abundant garden of Mother Nature)

We are told by those who know, that song is Aum.

(we are told by those who know, that garden is Eden)

Why does Aum exist? Why not?

(why does Eden exist? why not?)

To have non-existence, there must also be existence.

(existence supports non-existence)

That is why we are here

To be.


my life is my message

We had become total mind-dwellers; disconnected from our bodies and our spirits—which leads to all kinds of neglect…

(written quite a while ago…only published now)

When Paul and I first met we were both more yogic, we both did lots of physical activity on a daily basis, he biked, I  jogged. Jogging used to be my “yoga” (I hadn’t labeled it as such)  but, I always felt really happy and alive–and totally got out of my head for a while; and while jogging I felt that I did my “mental housework”–because I always had an increased state of mental clarity following a good jog.

Being so busy with setting up business for the last 7 years had totally made us into mind dwellers.

Here is proof that your mind can think but not be conscious—a few months ago I stepped on a scale and was blown away at my own weight, sure I knew I wasn’t as small as I used to be, but really “that weight!!!” no way, that can’t be right…Paul went thru the same scenario just recently.

How out of touch with your body  you can become when you are absorbed with the mundane of life!! Sure our minds have actually been in overdrive for years, but our consciousness had not been functioning!!

And that led to all kinds of neglect. Neglect of our own bodies, our joy, spirituality and each other.

Back when we were both more yogic;  I remembered that I thought I looked great. Yes, I was in good shape and younger–but, mostly I thought it was because I looked happy…and that happiness shone through my eyes.

Last fall I realized that  I had to get back to that—inner beauty based on happiness shining through eyes. I was becoming fearful of getting old—

My looks are going for sure, my fitness is in decline—but I recognized that true inner beauty never fades and could continue to shine if I only could spend the time to cultivate it…

I just had my 42 birthday and I am  shocked at how happy I am about it. If you told me when I turned 40 that I would be so happy on my 42 I would have found it incredibly hard to believe—at 40 and 41 I was falling prey to the mental-hazards or growing old in a visually based society where youth is paramount. Today I see it completely different.

Every 7 years, your body is renewed–every single cell has been replaced–this year I take that to heart and perceive myself as having a whole new body- I have just been born into my 7th body!! And with my spiritual awakening, I have come to realize my bigger purpose in life; with yoga-asana (postures) practice I know I can keep my body from tumbling down the steep slope of decay…instead I will just slowly pick my way down like a mule,  resisting it the whole way, thank-you!

We recently just watched “The Secret” and realized that we had already been practicing the method in most areas of our life (except a few). In fact, we realized that we had indeed manifested everything–by strong mental visualization, and by proceeding to feel the reality of our visualization coming to fruition. We have crafted our lifestyle. We have been the architects of our reality.

I realize that I, quite literally, have created the universe I live in.  Since I seem to have a handle on this skill, I want even more—bigger and better things, but not for myself…I want to change the world at large. You might think that is impossible or that I am too puny. I beg to disagree.

I am effecting changes in my small sphere and beyond. I am creating Lotutopia, more than 2000 people a year will come in close personal contact with it thru weddings, hundreds more as customers; and  how many might read this blog? Later my book?  Attend the Yoga Festival–we are hosting, or take part in the Shiva/Shaki dance phenomena, or come to our weekly neighborhood yoga class? I putting it out there in every direction possible…and the changes will happen.

Paul & I had been seeing a Chiropractor for a few years, last year I encouraged the Chiropractor to try hot yoga class…which he did for a while and enjoyed…then his attendance dropped off.  This winter after Paul started yoga, he hurt his back putting ginger in time-out. He returned to the Dr. and told him his intention to do as much yoga as he could do this winter–the doctor told him he must take a week off–but that regular practice will probably permanently cure his back issues. The following week, I saw the chiropractor back in yoga class again…I guess he needed a reminder !!

Yoga was a seed in my brain that was waiting to germinate, I always knew that yoga was my calling—even when I didnt know anything about it—literally. (I might have picked up a book on it in India 20 years ago, I must have–but, I guess I wasn’t  ready to absorb it, because I don’t really have any recollection of it …but it left a dormant seed in my brain.)

My life is my message. I know this now.  I am making history. I know I will effect change (large or small)—so recording it now is very important, because I will be able to look back and see the lessons I learned as I did it, how I did it—then I can accomplish even more change.

When I write a book from this information it will influence even more people. And make me lots of money—money isn’t evil—money is good, and it comes easily to me, when I have needed it it has always been there—from all kinds of sources—now that I need more to really manifest this huge mission, more is coming to me. Enough will always come to me because I create my own abundance through thoughts and actions that are right-actions, in harmony with who I am and my life’s purpose.

Eventually, I will build an addition on to our house which will help us, live more comfortably and be more able to concentrate, and by improving the feng shui of the interior space we will also be able to sell more weddings & influence more people..that will allow me to make more money, to do more good—to buy solar panels, develop the organic gardens, have more time to write, get completely green, and influence people even more. I will be a microcosm of what I want everyone to have, to be. How do I know that I will make history? Because I already have, and because I have the power of manifestation.

I need time and space to work on it, I need to keep picking up new books and reminding myself of my innate power, and focus my attention on the abundance of my life—which I can truthfully say is overflowing!

I look out at my mini universe—which is paradise by many standards—Jehovah’s Witness’s for instance, use an image which looks like my property, as their goal–when I pointed this fact out to my mom a JW–she said–“yes, but your’s doesn’t last forever” how pessimistic, how sad, how “not living in the moment”….

By living in, and staying attentive to, the present moment– I AM living in eternity—because the present is eternal—and I am alive—therefore I live in eternity…past and future are merely theoretical, they are in your mind only—you never actually live in them. Ever.

I have never held out hope for my Mom or Dad, as they are both so closed minded. My mom by way of her religion, and my Dad, by way of his Samskaras (illusions caused by the mind, which hide the reality of the blissful soul)…However, lately I have thought I might actually be able to penetrate my dad’s crust of illusions…here is an example of a conversation I had with him which highlights just a sliver of the trouble that pervades his life….a life of solitude, dwelling in the past, hatred for mankind, feeling victimized and a perception that the cards are stacked against him…I usually don’  t talk to him, its been years. But in the past couple of months I have had a couple of good conversations where I have been able to quell his nastiness and guide him to see things differently…but its difficult.

“hey Anita, I dug out this old report card of yours, from way back when, grade 2 maybe…you know what it says?” I am well aware of this notorious report card, this is my dads prized possession…he has saved it all this time and had brought it out on numerous occasions throughout my life… The teachers told him that I was such an unusually bright or exceptional child that they could exactly give me a numerical grade like the others…instead they just wrote some comments (not all of which are entirely positive I might add…) Well this just filled his ego to the brim!  Now he brings it out to show me how I have failed to live up to the potential that the teachers recognized long ago. How I have not become a brilliant and rich lawyer…how I am not a success, since I am not rich (the only definition of success in his mind)”

I guess you can see the magnitude of my challenge with him. I only hope his rage and loneliness don’t kill him before he has a chance to change.

If you have read up to here, reiterating my reponse is unnecessary.

My Life is My Message.