Practice and Pesto for Peace
On Tuesday, I did a yoga practice and meditation for peace.
At first, I was frustrated.
I could NOT get my mind to stop.
My yoga practice seemed disjointed, out of sorts, unfocused.
And then I realized–it was ok. I did not have to practice ujjayi controlled breathing. I did not have to practice any specific pranyama (that’s yogic breathing fyi). It just mattered that I was breathing. Listening to the breath. I couldn’t get any kind of flow or perfectly aligned form in my practice. The poses did not seem to eloquently sequence from one to the next. There was no grace to my movement. That, too, was okay. I did standing poses that I felt like doing, down dog, back bends, not necessarily in the most amazing way. My transitions were not smooth. The poses were not even balanced from one side to the next.
And that was ok.
In times of sorrow, times of upheaval, times of emotional or mental stress, times of exhaustion. It does not matter if our practice is full of grace. It does not matter if our sequence is beautifully arranged. It does not matter if our mind never seems to stop racing when we try to meditate.
What matters is that we came to the mat anyway. My practice for peace may have seemed chaotic, but my practice was exactly where I needed to be. I was feeling disjointed and let my meditation and my yoga practice feel and express those feelings of disjointedness.
And when I reached savasana (final relaxation), I did find a moment of stillness. I felt a moment of peace. And I offered that brief sensation out to the world. It was the best gift I could provide.
But it helped.
Every little bit helps.
What matters is that, no matter the difficulty, no matter the scenario, no matter the disorder, that we keep practicing anyway. That we keep going ANYWAY.
And that we keep peace on our minds.
Following my savasana, I turned to my other method of finding and offering peace.
When I’m down, Mexican spices and foods are my comfort foods. Give me a tortilla. Give me AVOCADOS by the spoonful. Give me cilantro.
With our farmer market season in full swing, there is an abundance of available fresh, organic, local cilantro. After satisfying my avocado craving over lunch (where I did eat the avocado with a spoon), I turned to cilantro to help me make find a happy, peace-filled dinner. This recipe works best with the FRESHEST cilantro you can find. Wash just before using and remove as many stems as you can. It’s okay if there are still some smaller ones in there. No need to go crazy trying to get them all out. DO make sure the cilantro is thoroughly dry before you begin, however.
Also try to use the best chopped walnuts you can obtain. I tend to buy mine in bulk at places like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and high volume natural food stores, so that they can be as fresh as possible. Refrigerate the remaining walnuts make sure to use as quickly as possible. Stale nuts get a disgusting rancid flavor and should not be eaten. (Unless you like nasty tasting things!) Many of the conventional nuts sold at grocery stores have already past their prime and are stale in the bag. Buy the best nuts you can find.
Here’s my favorite variation of Mollie Katzen’s Cilantro Pesto
I recommended making it as an offering to the world–and be sure to share it with friends.
Adapted from Vegetables I Can’t Live Without
- 3 packed cups cilantro (mostly stemmed)
- 2 small cloves garlic
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
- 7-8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Note: Since I do not have a food processor, I use a small chopper and half the recipe. (Or make it in two batches.)
- Combine the cilantro, garlic, walnuts, and salt in a food processor or a large chopper with a metal blade. Pulse until thoroughly pureed and add the lemon juice as you go.
- Continue to blend the ingredients for a second time, this time adding the olive oil in a steady stream (or by tablespoon if you can’t eyeball the amount) until you reach your favorite pesto consistency.
- Transfer pesto to a container (one that seals extremely well) and smooth it out.
- Drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the top, both for flavor and to help the pesto keep for longer. Cover and chill.
You can use this pesto on almost any way you’d use a conventional pesto. I use it in omelets, for Mexican-inspired pizzas, on the top of burgers (salmon burgers especially), add it to soups, spoon it on top of eggs, use it in quinoa or polenta, really the possibilities are endless!
It will keep for one week or longer if you keep it covered tightly in your refrigerator and have that special layer of olive oil on top! You can also freeze it and then de-thaw for later use.