Breaking Your Stride to “Walk Like a Buddha”

One day while flipping through the pages of the Shambhala Sun, I came across a book with a dope title.  It was Walk Like a Buddha: Even if Your Boss Sucks, Your Ex Is Torturing You, and You’re Hungover Agai’ by Lodro Rinzler.  As if the title wasn’t interesting enough, what caught my attention was the cover art.  A trail of footprints all wearing shoes, each rocking a pair of butter timbs (okay, I made that part up), except for one who walked barefoot — presumably an enlightened being or at least working towards that path. Living in a big city where some of my favorite moments is to simply wander, taking in the cityscape and to people watch, I kind of felt like I could relate.

WalkLikeaBuddha

I was a little hesitant to invest in another book for fear my schedule (which has included lots of zzz professional reading lately) would relegate Walk like a Buddha to my “shoulda, coulda, woulda” pile of books only to collect dust bunnies.  So I didn’t. It wasn’t until a week later, while searching for local sangha – or Buddhist community, events that I stumbled across the cover again.  Lo and behold its author would be making a pit stop to DC soon. I put it in my Google calendar and planned to attend. But wait, I wouldn’t dare attend a literary event without even turning a page or having read one word.  Hey, I like to be prepared for these sorta things. So off to B&N I went and picked up my copy — and I’m so glad I did.

Walk like a Buddha is a compilation of 50 questions that Rinzler received throughout the years, particularly in the height of the tour of his first book “The Buddha Walks into a Bar…: A Guide for a New Generation”.  That book was born out of feeling his spiritual and social life were separate entities and his attempt to reconcile the two.  The questions in Walk Like a Buddha are divided into sections based on their subject such as Wake up Like a Buddha, Play Like a Buddha, Getting it on Like a Buddha *in my best Berry White voice*, Change the World Like a Buddha, and Work Like a Buddha.  Rinzler answers questions from a Buddhist perspective such what would Sid (yes, he affectionately refers to Siddhartha Gautama as Sid), say about Facebook, break-ups, how to choose a Buddhist lineage and tradition, drugs and alcohol, being single and feeling lonely, advice to married couples, social action and so much more. Many of the questions posed were questions I have asked myself at some point.

I loved how Rinzler addressed coming out as a Buddhist.  While I am never one to put a label on myself let alone my spirituality, this resonated with me.  I reminisced back to 6 years ago when I cancelled Christmas.  No, I didn’t really cancel Christmas but I was so profoundly immersed in the Dharma at that time.  I remembered how much unnecessary stress and anxiety the season caused.  It no longer served a purpose in my life.  So, I told my parents I would no longer celebrate the next Christmas in the traditional sense of exchanging gifts, tree trimming, or eating cookies and drinking pouring out a glass of milk that had been set out the night before.  This came as a particularly hard blow to my son and his father who likely viewed this change as cruel, selfish, or both. But instead I committed to doing what I felt was really important and authentic to me. That was to really be present with my loved ones, cook the sacred food that my grandmother and ancestors before her had done, and simply relish in day where every minute was my own.  I’m still not sure they totally got it then and quite honestly they probably don’t now – but they have respected my wishes and that is okay enough for me.

Rinzler answers are full of compassion and wisdom that far exceeds his years.  He was raised as a Buddhist in the Shambhala lineage.  He knew at a very early age that Buddhism would be at the cornerstone of his life.  But don’t get it twisted, just because he has been taught by some of the great masters, and is a teacher himself, doesn’t mean he is not relatable. He is after all, who the Boston Phoenix describes as “the cool kid’s Buddhist.”

Rinzler even lets go of a couple four letter words. At first I blushed, but that only adds credence to the rawness of the human experience that I believe he is trying to convey. In Buddhism we are already enlightened beings, it is through our meditation practice we can relieve ourselves from suffering, quiet the confusion in our minds, and realize our true and vast potential –  ultimately finding peace. As Rinzler quotes the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, “Nirvana is peace.”

WalkLikeaBuddha_PeaceHealthiness

So after attending his book discussion, my spirits were uplifted and I was set to wind down the evening with the last few pages I had left of Walk Like a Buddha. But first I had to read his inscription,  “Amani, Enlightenment by 40 or the kegs on me”.  Cool, hella cool indeed.

To find out more about how to “live with honesty, wisdom, and compassion in the face of whatever life surprises you with” check out this book. To learn more about Lodro Rinzler, who is based in NYC, please visit his website, the Institute for Compassionate Leadership, or his Buddhist advice column which appears on the Huffington Post.

 Namaste

My Fighting Weight

peacehealthiness

This will probably be the first and last time I share a photo like this with you. It’s not because you’re not my homies, but today marks the day I officially reached my “fighting weight”. I wish I had started to write about this sooner, but don’t worry dear friends, I promise to make up for lost time.

About 24 weeks ago I got serious about my eating habits. Although I was in the ideal range for my age, sex, and height, I started not to recognize myself. The reflection that I saw in the mirror and in pictures was not me – or at least who I wanted to be. A sedentary job and years of eating out at casual restaurants and fancy-pants dining had caught up to me. In addition being put on meds, whose side effects included weight gain, to deal with my injury didn’t help either.

Like a switch, I was determined to realign who I perceived myself to be with what I actually looked like. It wasn’t all about vanity though, long term health was an important factor. Having a father pass of cancer before his time and a mother who has a relatively great bill of health (with more energy and fervor than me I might add!) made me examine the dichotomy between the two. Although none of us are promised with the gift of tomorrow, some behaviors put us at risk more than others. The “we all have to go some time” philosophy doesn’t sit well enough with me to live life recklessly. I figure when I go, it will be up to the hands of father time – but it won’t because I intentionally sped up the clock. No way, I like it here too much!

But when I say “fighting weight”, I mean it because I fought for it. I declined dinner invites, discovered that pairing OJ and San Pellegrino with all it’s bubbly-ness is as good as any cocktail, ditched my beloved soda, and passed on cupcakes – yes even those! Of course I am over simplifying things a bit but I walked away with two keys to my success. The first was returning to a plant based, whole foods diet. I cut out processed foods. If I could not make it using fresh ingredients, I did not need it. I stopped eating meat, poultry, and pork but I allow myself to eat fish or seafood on occasion. The second was I learned to recognize the difference between physiological hunger and psychological cravings. I reached levels of discipline I never knew I had. Willpower is still something I work on daily, but for the most part I am more comfortable with my decisions. I do not punish or give myself a guilt trip when I make less than perfect choices. I know most of the time I do my best.

So, here I am today 35 pounds lighter. While I reached a numerical goal, I’m no where near the end of the tunnel. That’s how us humans work right? We are always striving to be better, do better, and we always want more. I often ponder the question of when or what is “enough”, but I know today, while it is a celebration marks the next phase of maintenance and incorporating more resistance training to keep things tight.

How about you? What changes or sacrifices have you made to reach your finish line?

On your mark, get set, GO!

A

Potato Leek Soup

Fall is here and nothing warms the soul (and bones) like hearty bowl of soup. This Potato Leek soup is a meal in itself and is always quite the crowd pleaser.

Quick Note: Whenever I post recipes, there is only one rule — there are no rules. In my quest to eat cleaner I’ve discovered the art of substitution. We all have our own dietary needs and should make it a point to listen to our bodies when something doesn’t feel right. That doesn’t always mean we have to forgo many of our favorite foods. Rather, let’s use it as an opportunity to challenge ourselves to find ways to make them healthier to enjoy.

photo (5)

Serves 8

Ingredients

8 cups of chicken broth (My favorite is Trader Joe’s Organic Free Range Chicken Broth)
3 lbs mix of roasted* russet and red bliss potatoes
4 leeks (whites only, sliced, and thoroughly cleaned to remove grit)
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 ½ teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and black pepper
1 cup of light cream or choice of milk

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 °F

*Cut potatoes into approximately one or two inch chunks. Place in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and evenly distribute. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet that is covered with aluminum foil. Bake in the oven for about 45-60 minutes or until potatoes are browned and crisp. (If your potatoes are slightly firm, that’s okay. We’ll take care of that in the next step)

Combine all the ingredients except for the cream/milk into a large stock pot. Add roasted potatoes. Let boil for 15 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a food processor or blender) blend the soup until smooth. Be careful – hot!! I like to omit a cup or two just to give it a little texture. Pour the soup back into the pot; add the cream/milk and simmer until the soup has thickened, about 20 minutes.

The picture above was for a non-vegetarian so I garnished with a tad of bacon, but I would opt for chives instead. Serve immediately.

Now, tell me what is your favorite soup?