Decisions are Beginnings.
The truth is this time of year is triggering for many. Many struggle this month around the heart. What's heavy in the heart for you? Are tears trying to move in that self-cleansing way? Is there a struggle to find the space or language to actually feel into it all and therapeutically convey in some creative way what is happening on the inside? Addictions of all sorts are included in a mass of coping skills we've masterfully honed over the years as avoidance tactics and they rear their head often this time of year in place of embracing dropping deeper into the heart to do some dusting and cleaning. Growth hurts. But the truth is holding on takes far more energy than letting go of heart pain.
As spring walks closer and stirs our subtler bodies, I know for me I feel this as either as a scattered way or a sluggish can't get focused way. Obsessive behaviors, irritation, anxiety, and poor timing crop up among my people too. Complaining and whining are at an all time high. So how do you clock this unique way in yourself and own that there's some simple good medicine for this? The number one medicine for this for me is to get outside, anyway, no matter what the weather is doing to re-calibrate with the natural forces. Bundling up for us cold weather dwellers means pulling out the hardy weather garb, again, but let's face it, 40 degrees feels like spring after this much winter and most of us don a thick sweater instead!
"Go to the Water" is the mantra of my ancestors and I seek this inside and out with hikes to natural water places and also through more spiritual bathing in the tub, and sauna. I also sit with my drum and rattle more, journey and make sounds that carry what I cannot find words for. And I paint for visual release and inquiry. Of late I've turn to our food choices too for my body is giving subtle clues to lighten it up. Salads, raw foods, and fruit look more appealing now. Here's another way that I like to re-calibrate on the inside. Jay and I are starting a Kitchari Cleanse this week, Cyrus is not so game for this yet but he's watching as we prepare for a short 3-4 day one to start. We'll go longer if we want to at the end.
This simple, soupy Ayurvedic cleansing dish is made primarily of rice, split mung beans, seasonal veggies and spices. Sometimes I have to start at the physical and walk step by step. This satisfies that in me. It changed my whole outlook on cleansing and transformed my relationship with food and my body. Instead of feeling deprived, it made me feel nourished. Instead of frazzled and delirious with a headache or nausea, I felt grounded, safe, and secure. Coming off it I feel clear and connected. The idea is to stimulate your natural cleansing processes in a slow, sub-radar like cleanse that doesn't stimulate chelation toxicity (releasing too much too fast for our elimination systems). This is hard for the body and a stress that is not good for us. Seasoned fasting lovers know that this is a muscle that must be exercised slowly or one pays dearly.
The beauty of this dish and cleanse is that you can eat. You can eat Kitchari for a single meal to give your digestion a break or do a full cleanse of 3-7 days where you really begin to release stored toxins and accumulation for safe release from the body. It’s a great introductory or seasonal cleanse because you still get to eat something throughout the day but at the same time it's the most effective tool I've found for healing and soothing the digestive system, increasing digestive fire, reducing bloating, clearing the mind, healing attachments to food, sleeping deeper, and kick starting the body’s natural ability to heal itself. While weight lose is not the goal, that just might happen too.
I follow this cleansing diet for days before the plant diet initiations I go to with my teacher where we sustain ourselves on a few ounces of a single plant elixir every four hours for three days and vision quest with one plant. Eating kitchari from one pot prepared each morning reduces our focus and energy demands on food. Think about how much time we spend on food alone from making the money to getting it or growing it, to planning meals, preparing, eating, and cleaning up. It's all good and communal supporting, yes, but a break to focus elsewhere is also so good for us. This eliminates much and frees up so much time. This is also a great diet for a day or two upon returning from questing or fasting of any kind to support integration and landing back in well.
Creating Your Kitchari Cleanse - Keeping It Simple Is The Medicine
- Begin to eliminate common foods that cause imbalances for you a few days before the cleanse such as alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar, meat, processed foods, and foods you know affect your unique physiology.
- Make kitchari daily (if possible) and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Seek organic ingredients and stock up.
- Drink warm water and warm herbal teas of nettles, red clover flower, oatstraw, milky oats, chamomile (deeply calming and clearing), or peppermint (gives a 'pep').
- Get plenty of rest and take time for self care (warm oil massage at the start or end of the day, warm baths, steams, saunas, yoga, meditation)
- In the mornings drink a cup of warm water with lemon followed by another glass of warm water to flush the system
- If you need to eat something other than kitchari try some fresh, seasonal fruit in the morning, handfuls of nuts and seeds, or cooked grains with ghee and a sprinkle of sea or rock salt
- Set an intention. Remind yourself of why you're doing this re-calibration cleanse and dig in for your higher purpose for this. For me, I like to set an intention to heal and connect to my deepest self. Often I observe myself swaying away from self and this whole practice reels me back in. Setting an intention brings the practice from the ordinary to the sacred.
- Clear out your calendar as much as you can and involve willing family or friends either to share with you or at least inform them of what you're doing. Let this be a time for total self-love, reflection, and connection. Having someone to share this time adds a depth to the process but is not a prerequisite by any means. It's amazing how much time and energy we have when we don’t need to think about food and preparing it! Use that time to connect to spirit, your Divine, and the deepest part of you.
I love adding the ghee and salt later in the process because it makes the flavor jump up more for me. I do this with simple tomato sauce too by infusing olive oil with garlic, basil, salt and pepper, and pinch of rosemary and stir in just before serving. It's amazing how these late additions retain and pull forth the essential oils in the dish.
This makes about 4-6 servings. Double it if there's more people in your home joining you or to eat throughout the week, though I do recommend making it daily if that's a possibility for you. To accommodate my work schedule I I make enough for 2 days at a time.
My Favorite Kitchari Recipe
- 1/4 cup split mung beans - these can be found at most natural food stores or online. You can use whole mung beans but I soak them over night, or at least for a few hours, in cool water with a little whey or buttermilk if you have. Discard that water in the morning and proceed.
- 1/2 cup organic basmati rice
- 1 3x2 inch strip of kombu (kelp), cut into small pieces
- 6-8 cups of filtered water
- 3-4 cups fresh, organic and seasonal veggies - use at least one green veggie and one orange or root vegetable such as carrot, sweet potato or squash
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed ground
- 1 teaspoon coriander seed ground
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed ground
- 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger root
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 1 cup loosely packed chopped, fresh organic cilantro and reserve some for serving
- 2-3 tablespoons ghee, coconut oil, or sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon rock salt and more to taste if needed at serving time
- fresh lime wedges for serving
- Rinse the rice and split mung beans in the 2:1 ratio of rice to beans and then put them in a pot with the kombu and water enough to cover by at least an inch or 2.
- Boil until soft 20-30 minutes roughly with the lid ajar. Chop veggies and cilantro and grind spices in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder dedicated to herbs (if using whole spices) as the rice and beans cook.
- Add the veggies (keep kale or quick-cooking veggies like zucchini out for now), add 2 more cups of water and cover. Cook 3-5 minutes or so until the water boils veggies are starting to soften. Add more water and adjust temperature as needed.
- Once veggies start to soften, add the diced ginger, coconut and spices of cumin, coriander, fennel, asafoetida and turmeric. Sometimes I add a sprinkle of black pepper in the Winter.
- Add the kale, spinach or other quick-cooking veggies and the fresh cilantro. Stir adding more water if needed.
- Then I turn off the heat and add the ghee, coconut oil or sesame oil, and the rock salt.
- Serve with fresh cilantro and coconut garnish and a thick wedge of fresh lime.
Enjoy! Thank you for coming in for a read and may your day be blessed and your re-calibration plans be underway as Spring approaches.
Much Love, Jen