I didn’t care that I’d have to sit on the floor for months!

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It’s 2001.

I’ve just bought my first quaint place in the flatlands of Berkeley. It’s 850 square feet and I need to furnish it. First and foremost, I need a couch and a bed. But my heart wants something else. It needs art for the walls. Something that will speak to my soul.

My first purchase for my new little home was a large, wooden Lotus that was carved out of beautiful wood and made in Thailand. Yes, that was what I needed. I didn’t care that I would have to sit on the floor for months.

That lotus flower was the thing for my soul.

You see, I’d entered a whole new period of my journey. I was becoming a yoga teacher. I’d just done my first yoga teacher training and had entered a second one. Yoga was my life at that time. I was using it to rehab myself after a major car accident I’d been in just a couple of years prior.

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The Lotus Flower represented the calm I was cultivating within myself. It’s blushing pink beauty grows out of dark, swampy, mucky places and then dazzles the world. It was a great reminder that our own blazing light can only shine brightly if we own the shadow sides of ourselves.

I bought that heavy wooden lotus, hung it in my house and looked at it every day as a reminder of what was growing within me – calm, the ability to integrate my shadow, my own inner beauty, stability, and much more.

One might say we don’t “need” art because we can’t eat it, sleep in it, wear it (most art) or drive it. There is little “practical” use for art and yet, when we live life as a journey to open the soul, art and ritual objects become the most important things in our collection.

As the years have passed, I’ve collected pieces of art here and there. Each piece represents a time and place in my life and reminds me of my journey. When I can’t stop thinking about an art piece, it’s a sign that it is talking to my soul and will help me evolve the next place within myself.

So, next time you’re drawn to a piece of art, check in with yourself deeply. What IS it about that piece that calls you? What is the art saying to you? How does it make you feel? Do you want to live with the piece or is it enough to just see it once, or visit it regularly?

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If you keep thinking about the art you’ve seen, perhaps it needs to live with you.

Just like art calls us, there is often a time when the artwork has done its magic and it’s time to move on to work with the next person who needs the magic of the art piece.

I recently sold the wooden Lotus. I was happy to have it find a new home with people who were delighted to see what it had to offer them. Letting go of that piece opened up space for new art to come into my world….and recently I bought a piece from a friend of mine, and every time I look at it I think of her.

 

 


Saucha: The Great Spring Cleaning!

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Being a yogi, who’s down on the ground a lot, I’m particularly obsessed with clean floors. I’ll admit it, I’m somewhat of a clean freak.  I love to be able to eat off of any surface.

Cleaning gives me immediate satisfaction. When I vacuum up tiny crumbs, dog hair and little bits of I-don’t-know-what, I feel an inner sense of relaxation. I have this sweet satisfaction that some little part of life is in order, under control.

I can relax.

At least for a while.

Yoga gives us a built in cleansing practice called Saucha.  It is the first Niyama (the second of eight limbs of yoga). It means to purify and cleanse. Generally, the practice of Saucha invites us to examine what we take into our bodies – food and drink – but also what kind of energy we allow into our energetic fields, and how we may be “polluting” our inner landscape by creating inner clutter.   

Each Spring I ask myself what I want to clean up internally as well as externally, and this year my big task is to take on an old habit of mine called AVOIDANCE. I have the nasty habit of avoiding conflict, avoiding making “the phone call” to someone I may have to say ‘no’ to, and avoiding the uncomfortable feelings within. But the burden of Avoidance is high.

It starts to feel like I have a pile of tasks, conflicts or people I’m avoiding and I then hear the nagging voice in my head that says, “You’re gonna have to make the call. Or you’re gonna have to face that conflict, or crunch the numbers."

This year I say, “No more avoiding.” It’s time to face whatever I’m avoiding head on. What I find fascinating is that alongside the inner clean-out, I notice there is always the accompanying outer clean-out.

When I take on my inner work of cleaning out I usually find I also get a bug to steam clean my rugs, wash out all of the drawers, or do a deep clean of my closets.

In the past couple of years, this cleaning practice has lead me to change the products I use to clean my house. I’ve gotten rid of pretty much all of the store-bought products and replaced them with three simple household products that work really well for cleaning.

What are they?

Baking soda (bought in a large back at Costco)
Distilled White Vinegar (also bought at Costco)
Dr. Bronners Castile Soap

These three are the foundation of all of my cleaning products now. At first, I was skeptical that these products would actually do a good job. To my surprise, they work great. I just cleared out an oil clogged shower drain with white vinegar (with a quite a bit of help from a friend!)

But why do this, you might be wondering, when the other products work just fine?

As I’ve traipsed down the yogic path for the past 20 years, I’ve become more and more sensitive to chemicals, smells, and their energetic impact. I love knowing that the products I use  to clean my house are safe to ingest,  and I feel happy that the products I use are all environmentally safe and made with love.

When I spray down my kitchen counters now, with my homemade All Purpose Surface Cleaner, I have a smile on my face and I just feel happy.

So, if you’re interested in this part of the journey, I’ve got a few home cleaning products listed below, and some ideas on how to use these three household products to clean your home.

Happy and Clean Spring to you all!
 

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All Purpose Surface Cleaner 

Ingredients
funnel
2 oz distilled water
6 oz distilled white vinegar
Spray bottle: glass 8 oz
8 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops lemon essential oil

What to do
Using a funnel, pour water and vinegar into a glass spray bottle.
Remove the funnel and add the essential oils. Put spray nozzle onto the bottle.
Shake well to combine, and use on any surface. Works great on stove and kitchen counter tops.
 

Wood Cleaner

Ingredients
funnel
2 cups distilled water
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
spray bottle: glass 16. oz
10 drops lemon essential oil
8 drops cedarwood essential oil

What to do
Using a funnel, pour water, white vinegar and olive oil into a spray bottle.
Add in the essential oils and shake to mix.
Shake before using to mix the ingredients. 


Where’d that Meat Come From?

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A few months ago, I wrote a blog piece about being a meat eating Yogi and how I can’t survive on veggies alone.

True.

What I didn’t say was how important it is to know the source of your food. We actually are what we eat, and we are also what the animal we are eating has eaten. If the chickens and cows we’re eating are filled with hormones and corn, and raised in places that cause them anxiety and fear, we are ingesting those chemicals, corn and fear. Not to mention any other issues.

What we eat has a huge impact on our health and how we feel.

One of the best ways to insure we are eating happily raised animals who have lived healthy lives is to know your food source and where and how the animals were treated.

In this blog piece I want to introduce you to friends of mine, who are yogis and who raise cattle in the Inland Northwest: Frankie and Bill Browning, who run a family ranch in Spangle, WA. Their cows live their entire lives happily grazing pastures, and are hormone and anti-biotic free.

I met Frankie in a yoga class I was teaching 7 years ago, and soon after met Bill and we’ve become friends. Here’s my interview with Frankie and what she has to say about their journey:

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Why did you get into the cattle raising business?

Bill was already in the cattle raising business when I met him. He always wanted to do it. He grew up on horses and roped, so it was in his blood.

How did you start out?

We started out as sport and hobby – roping cows. I was the one who was more into the food idea.

Before I met Bill, I was a borderline vegetarian. I certainly didn’t eat beef. But, I also had this affinity towards Native Americans and their stewardship of the land, and how they offered prayers and blessings when they sacrificed an animal for food.

What lead you to raising cattle that graze in pastures?

We had an incident that changed everything for us in how we raised our cows. One of our cows had a traumatizing birth situation. The mother and calf should not have lived, but we intervened and ended up saving both mother and calf. It was truly a miracle.

The mother cow could never give birth again, and we just couldn’t send her to the feed lot to have a horrible life and die. So, we gave her a new life in our pastures and later, we sacrificed her life with much gratitude and she fed us. We kept her skull, and her hide (which is still in our house) and gratefully nourished our bodies with her meat.

That was the turning point for us. We then decided to raise cattle to sell for beef, and to raise them with love and give them a good life before becoming our food source.

As we started keeping more meat for ourselves and selling it to friends, people began to notice how good the meat tasted and we began to pay attention to how the animals lived and how the land was managed and impacted the cow’s lives.

How did your business grow over the years?

When I met Bill, he had 20 cows. That was 13 years ago. We now have 150 cows. The growth of Browning Beef has been an organic process. The cows are all raised from birth on our property. They are all grass fed and grass finished. We don’t give them any grain, no GMOs or hormones. All of our hay is bought locally.

Why is your grass-fed beef not tough?

Well, it’s super fresh. It hasn’t traveled or waited anywhere. It could also be the Longhorn influence we have in our breeding. The lean flavor of the meat resembles bison.

Why did you start eating meat again?

I started eating meat again because I knew where the meat came from and how we raised the cattle. And it’s so delicious.

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How does being a yogi influence your business?

Yoga continually reminds me of the connectedness we have with all living beings. Having a first-hand connection to my food, and being able to share this with others is a gift.

What are your biggest challenges raising cattle?

The nature of raising cattle is that you don’t get to go anywhere. It is a business that grounds you. We’re also dealing with the seasons and their mercurial nature all of the time. There’s also the temptation to make your calves weigh more and use grain. But that’s not what’s best for the animal or the environment, and it doesn’t support our values.

From a fiscal perspective, I’d say it’s challenging to get people to understand why it’s worth spending more for grass fed beef that has never touched grain, corn or bread, been in a feed lot or pumped full of hormones. We take a cut in that the hanging weight because the weight of a grain fed animal can be between 800-1000 pounds where our grass-fed cattle are 400-600 pounds. Sometimes, doing the right thing requires sacrifice.

What do you see as a major benefit of raising cattle this way?

There is a symbiotic relationship with cattle and the pastures they graze – the pastures literally come alive and are happy with grazing cattle. They look like green parks.  Noxious weeds are naturally controlled with mindful grazing practices.

The food we are producing is super clean, and is a healthy source of beef for our community. We know that people feel great when eating our beef.

The major benefit is that everybody prospers.  The land flourishes, the cattle are happy, people who eat the beef are healthy. It’s a win/win all the way around.

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Our philosophy

Being so reliant on the Earth for our lively-hood keeps us highly attuned with Mother Nature. We graciously do our part, staying in harmony with the environment by creating multiple ecosystems on our ranch. Despite "loss" of grazing land from our ecosystems, doing the right thing to help the Earth and future generations is both and honor and a duty.

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Where can we buy Browning Beef?

Directly from Browning Beef 509-953-2062, Call, Text or Email: browningbeefllc@gmail.com
See website for updated farmer’s market schedule: www.browningbeef.com
Petunia’s Market, 2010 North Madison, Spokane; 509-328-4257
Golden Gem Mercantile, 18805 WA/27, Rockford, WA 99030; 509-291-3600

Get and EXTRA Pound of Ground Beef for Free

Buy 5 pounds of ground beef and get an extra pound for free. This promotion will last until March 1st. Use the Code word: YOGA to indicate you are getting the promotion through this email or blog piece