Loving Kindness: Shining Light on the Shadows

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I have heard from many people in the past few weeks who are struggling with significant fatigue and depression. Although these feelings are common any time of year, they seem particularly heightened lately. I suspect that this has to do with many factors afoot in the world right now.

In Autumn, as the days get shorter and the nights get longer, it is naturally a time of going inward. As we watch the seasons change and the abundance of spring and summer fades into the stillness of winter, we can be reminded of our own mortality and the fragility of life. And in the stillness when we reflect on our lives, we might not always like what we see. When our expectations for ourselves and others do not align with reality this can cause great stress.

We are also nearing the end of a bitter election season, where much ugliness and turmoil has been brought to the surface. As we wait to see what is in store for our country, there seems to be a great deal of fear and distrust on all sides.

Now, more than ever, it is a good time to work on understanding, accepting, and ultimately transforming shadows. Shadows are those parts of ourselves that we dislike, the parts that embarrass us, the parts that frighten us. These shadows are also seen in the larger world in the form of hatred and violence. One of my favorite ways to deal with shadows is with a practice called Meta, also known as Loving Kindness Meditation. This is a wonderful way to shine light on ourselves, our loved ones, and even those we may consider enemies.

The Equinox and Striving for Balance

FallEquinox2016.pngToday is the Autumn Equinox and it has me thinking about balance.

The equinox is a single moment in time, which occurred today at 7:21am PST. The equinox happens twice a year and it is the moment when the Sun shines directly on the Equator and the length of daylight and nighttime darkness is equal.

Similarly, balance is not a quality that we can reside in, because it can never really exist for more than a moment. Whether we are talking about balancing lightness and darkness, happiness and sadness, health and sickness, or strength and weakness; we may strive for balance but it often seems just out of reach. Cultivating balance is a life-long practice and it requires patience, and ultimately compassion and forgiveness. We will never find a state of perfection and so we must keep moving forward toward an ever-changing target, always adapting to a new reality and letting go of our past expectations.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Herbed Turkey Hash

acorn-squash-938936_1920This is one of my go-to recipes for Autumn dinners and it is always a favorite in my house. The hash is also delicious for breakfast over a bed of sauteed greens and topped with a fried egg. Acorn squash is a wonderful seasonal vegetable that contains lots of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and Magnesium.

Serves 2-4

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey (I prefer dark meat for this recipe, but white meat is fine too)
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper + small pinch for the squash
  • 1/4 tsp salt + small pinch for the squash

Preheat oven to 375 F. Carefully split the squash in half length-wise with a sharp kitchen knife. Scoop out the seeds and discard or reserve for roasting (they are delicious and taste very similar to pumpkin seeds!). Place the two halves of the squash in a glass or ceramic baking dish, cut side down. Bake uncovered for 45-60 minutes or until the squash softens. Use a fork to test if it is done.

While the squash bakes, heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion, celery, and carrot for 5 minutes or until the vegetables soften. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking and to prevent burning. Set the vegetables aside in a medium bowl and mix in the sage, thyme, marjoram, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1 tsp of black pepper.

Using the same skillet you sauteed the vegetables in, cook the ground turkey. Break up large pieces and stir occasionally until the turkey is cooked through and no longer pink, approximately 4 to 6 minutes. Mix the cooked turkey into the vegetable mixture and set aside.

Once the acorn squash is cooked, remove from the oven. Turn them over and drizzle a small amount of olive oil over each half and then season with salt and black pepper. Fill each half with a portion of the turkey hash and return them to the oven to bake for 5 more minutes. Each half can easily feed two if served with other vegetables or another side dish.

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