Last spring I went to the Tassahara Zen Center for three days. It was a deeply transformative experience, but in an odd way. I definitely meditate more regularly, and remember to take deep breaths in times of abrupt change. But I lazily did these things before. Then, I was going about my normal non-eventfull kind of week and it hit me hard: I have adopted the voice of the friendly monk who taught our course as my personal tutor. His biggest message? Just be a person being a person. Stop attributing meaning to everything. When I am whining to myself about cleaning the bathroom or going to work I personify him whispering in my ear to get off my high horse and just be a person. When trying to motivate myself through basic tasks: writing to-do lists, doing laundry thats been sitting for three weeks, falling over when skiing anything remotely steep, making breakfast late for work again, sorting through relationships, filling out tedious hospital privileging applications; there he is, giving me a gentle reprimand that I am all worked up for nothing. Just be a person skiing. Just be a person upset. No need to be a person upset that I am grumpy, tired, and sore from three minutes straight of push-ups the gym coach decided were perfectly suited to tuesday morning at 6am. Just notice: just be. That said, I don’t think picking up my own personal zen master fantasy was what I was supposed to get out of the workshop. Its like having your own personal coyote you pray to to get you away from bears on long runs or talking to your dream-catcher about your dinner options or something; my personal zen master life coach imaginary check-in has become a totally ridiculous daily ritual. At least its not sexual. I think I am committing buddhist sacrilege, but life has become more calm. Just being a person with another fake person helping me be just a person. Oh my.
Don’t want to travel to california to pick up your own zen master but still want a to have a nice simple morning? This baked oatmeal. Give yourself more time to just be a person drinking coffee, reading the new yorker and watching the spring birds make a cautious return? I have started making it at night and sneaking it into the microwave to start my morning off right. But, its better fresh and would be perfect for single folks wanting to have a fancy morning one day while having some leftovers to get you through the rest of the week in style (or if you are lucky enough; its perfect for having friends over for sunday brunch!).
Someone asked me for more photos. So, if the meditation talk isn’t floating your boat here are some images from a simple quietly lived week; skiing, running in the snow, working, cooking, dreaming. Recipe after the jump. Happy Sunday! Thanks for stopping by.
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day
2 cups (200 grams) rolled oats
½ cup (60 g) walnut halves, toasted and chopped
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ to 1 ½ cups (90 to 185 g) blueberries
1 banana, cut into tiny pieces
2 cups (475 ml) whole milk
1/3 cup (80 ml) maple syrup
1 large egg
3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Toppings: Yoghurt, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, more fruit.
Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the top third of the oven.
In an 8-inch square baking dish, mix together the oats, the nuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Scatter the bananas across.
In another bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, about half of the butter, and vanilla. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Gently give the baking dish a couple of thwacks on the countertop to make sure the liquid moves down through the oats. Sprinkle the berries on top and give a little stir to mix them all in.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for a few minutes. Eat with some yoghurt, more fruit, and a scatter of hemp seeds if you want.