Friday, May 31, 2013

Hanuman, Anandam, Memory, and Chickpea Ratatouille

Each month, my yoga teacher focuses on a different asana to deepen our practice, and this month's theme was hanumanasana.  Hanuman, according to Hindu scripture, was the deity who reunited the lovers Sita and Rama, symbolizing the role of public servant, and seeker of truth.  We're also thinking about the second of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and last night, my teacher was talking about the things that keep us from anandam, from bliss: the things that keep us from uniting with the truth.

One of these things, according to Patanjali, is reproducing memory, living as if what was true then is also true now.  Or distorting memory in ways that link it with other thought patterns.

I guess that's one reason that yoga has been recommended as a treatment for PTSD: to help us get closer to the truth of now, rather than inhabiting a past that our minds can embellish.  If we are focused on our breathing, on the position of our bodies in space, it's a lot harder to rehash the things that caused us pain; we are too busy with the process of reunification of self.

Mel posted the other day about refusing to get on an emotional roller coaster, and I could have sworn she was talking to me.  I've recently gotten back on a roller coaster that I thought I'd never get back on again.  It's a ride that takes me right back to where I was two years ago, with twists and turns and plummets into the depths that make me -- even now -- dizzy and sick: I have a strong visceral reaction to living in this space of memory.  I did it because I thought it would bring me closer to the truth.  I did it because I want, desperately, to do the right thing.  But sometimes it's hard to know what the right thing to do really is.

There have been a few times over the past few days when I look down at my daughter and realize that she is becoming this little person; I find myself wondering where this small, articulate little one came from.  I've been with her from the beginning, of course, but I will admit to being a very distracted parent over the past two years.  People have asked "are you enjoying your time at home?"  And I would have to answer, "well, sort of, but it's hard to focus on enjoying your time at home when you think you're supposed to be somewhere else."  It's hard to focus on being at home when you never know if and when you'll get a job, and you live in constant limbo.  (Sort of like being pregnant after infertility and loss.  Yes, you are happy to be pregnant, but you also know that at any moment you may lose everything, so you try hard not to attach at all.)  It's hard to focus on being at home when you feel like you're treading water.  It's hard to focus on being at home when you are depressed.  It's hard to focus on being at home when you feel like you are going to leap out of your skin at any moment, because this is not your life.  It's hard to focus on being at home when you are still stuck in the memory of what happened to you when this all started.

And now, I feel sad that I've squandered the time I had, the gift I had.  Not on purpose, but because I couldn't be present for it.  Still on the roller coaster, I try to drag myself back to the now, and notice the amazing little one before me.  Because she is what's real.

Om anandam, sachit anandam.  Welcome bliss.  Be present now.  And be gentle when the memories come.

Chickpea Ratatouille
This Mark Bittman dish from the April 2013 issue of Vegetarian Times is the sort of thing you can prepare and then step away from, so that you can spend more time being where you are, rather than where you think you're supposed to be.  This is not my mother's ratatouille.

1 lb. small eggplant, cut into large chunks
28-oz. can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
3/4 lb. zucchini, cut into large chunks
1 medium yellow onion, sliced (1½ cups)
2 red or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 t. salt
¼ cup olive oil
2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, onion, bell peppers, garlic, salt and oil in large  roasting pan.

Roast 30 to 40 minutes, or until vegetables are lightly browned and tender, and some water has released from  tomatoes to create a sauce, stirring occasionally.

Stir in chickpeas, and roast 5 to 10 minutes more, or until chickpeas are heated through. Stir in parsley, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
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1 comment:

  1. But you say it perfectly in the post: you couldn't be present. Therefore, the time isn't really squandered any more than your time is squandered when you have a sick day at home. You are meant, in that time period, to get better: not to do laundry or clean the house or read a book. The task your heart needed to take care of the last few years (and I'd argue that you probably were present in many more moments than you're giving yourself credit for) was what it took care of.


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