THE WELLNESS MERCANTILE
Let Reiki Guide You Into The New Year
Welcoming 2017 with Grace & Ease Be Your Own Alchemist
Beauty Resolutions Crowding Out Caffeine
THE WELLNESS MERCANTILE FEBRUARY 2017 WELLNESS Let Reiki Guide You Into The New Year Interview with SAMAYA Co-Founder, Liz Sung Be Your Own Alchemist + 4 Other Resolutions That Don't Include Dieting 6 Ways To Deal With EVERYTHING Diving Inward: A Floatation Tank
NOURISH Mushroom Lattes & Crowding Out Caffeine The Warmth Of Sharing Meals
Let Reiki Guide You Into The New Year words by Erica Joy Dunn @ericajoydunn
Reiki has been a powerful tool to help me regain my inner strength, gain clarity and find balance. If you asked me a couple years ago, what is reiki, I wouldn’t even know how to pronounce the word. This beautiful practice has given me so much light and naturally has me thinking about what’s to come in the New Year.
In a reiki session, you will experience clarity which can help with decision making and strengthen you communication with others. Reiki is given by an attuned practitioner, so give yourself the opportunity to turn inward and connect with your higher self by booking a reiki session.
Reiki has the ability to bring us back to our natural and whole state. So, let reiki guide you into the New Year by adding this gentle healing practice to your self care routine. If you must make a resolution, use this opportunity to reconnect with yourself and clarify your values. Be very specific as to what you want the new year to bring. Give yourself the time and space to let go and absorb the energy within you already.
You will explore what you want to let go of and leave behind. This is where the reiki practice will honestly guide you to a place of discovery. When we turn inward, we notice where energy blocks are held within the body and how to release tension while creating balance at the same time.
Become curious about yourself and ask why is there a need to make resolutions in the first place. How about just solutions? Reiki will help you gain insight and self-awareness which will reveal something much deeper than what we think we want or need to achieve in the new year.
Set yourself up for success and think about New Year’s resolutions differently this time around. If you have been making the same resolutions for years, take this opportunity to truly connect with yourself. A reiki session will help you transition into the new year with grace and ease.
There are some women that we meet and instantly jive with; you know the kind, impossibly cool but down to earth and we’re adding one more to the club: Meet Liz Sung, cofounder of SAMAYA. SAMAYA is an emerging lifestyle brand centered around meditation, home, and design. Based in New York City, it was founded by fashion designer Liz Sung and tech engineer Alan Weissman who were searching for a better meditation cushion, and began to make their own for their home practice. SAMAYA evolved from a deep love and study of meditation with a purpose for comfort and design. Taking long used tools and adapting them with a modern aesthetic, we serve a generation moving towards a mindful and conscious way of living. All products are currently made in the U.S. with an ethical approach to sourcing and production. Co-Founders Liz Sung & Alan Weissman
From start to finish what would be your perfect day
I’m honestly not sure what a perfect day could be. So much happens in a day. I can have the most difficult experience and the most beautiful experience all in one day. I suppose that itself is a perfect day — if I can get through the difficult experience to have the beautiful experience on the other side.
What s your morning and nightly routine
My morning routine starts with meditation, sometimes guided or un-guided. I have zero commute to work thanks to our loft doubling as our live and work space. I never developed a taste for coffee so I just have a large bottle of water and sometimes a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to balance the stomach pH. I generally don’t like to eat much in the mornings so I usually have something simple like fruit, oatmeal or half of a whole wheat bagel with tofu scallion spread. If I’ve planned out my day well enough, I’ll get to either a late morning or evening class at my favorite yoga studio Kula Yoga Project. Typically in the evenings, I’m having dinner with my romantic and SAMAYA business partner Alan at home. I’ll either cook something quick, easy, and vegetarian or we’ll get take-out. We live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and are fortunate to have access to so many great food spots and a brand spanking new Whole Foods. Once or twice a week we go to a meditation and dharma class in the evening at Three Jewels. I’m so grateful to share a spiritual practice with my partner – it’s made me a better person. One thing I always intend to do at the end of the day, but don’t always do, is reflect and rejoice in the meaningful contributions I’ve made that day, no matter how big or small. It’s the most important and most difficult part of my practice to help cultivate love and compassion for myself.
Five things you re coveting right
Time is an illusion yet I’d say the main thing I’m coveting lately is more time! I’m also curious about these Himalayan salt lamps everybody’s always talking about.
Why meditation cushions
From the beginning of Alan and my relationship, meditation was a big topic of discussion. I mostly used my couch when I meditated at home, and Alan had a cushion set he’d bought on Amazon that was plain and primarily functional. I was living alone at the time and being a designer, I loved designing and curating my space. As I started shopping around for my own meditation set, the idea to create our own formed as I wasn’t able to find anything I liked aesthetically that still provided comfort and support. Alan had years of previous experience running an e-Commerce business he founded, and his experience and knowledge was essential in starting SAMAYA.
How did you get started
We started by making our first round cushion with a patternmaker I used to work with while I was a womenswear designer. He was making couture gowns and high end contemporary clothing for some of the most well known designer brands in New York City so imagine his reaction when I came in asking him to make us a simple meditation cushion! After the first cushion, we made a small assortment of more, took photos, and created a website. It all happened inside of a month.
Where do you draw inspiration from
I have mood and inspiration boards from things I see on Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, and just what I see on the street in New York City. We also look at our sales and see which styles are most popular, and that usually starts to kind of tell us what people out there are liking. There are things that I love and want to create, but ultimately we want to give people what they want as well so it’s really important to consider that.
What does your meditation practice look like
I was first introduced to meditation years ago when I started getting into yoga practicing at different studios and going on yoga retreats. I mostly did it to cope with immediate stress or unlock creativity for work. But my real meditation practice didn’t begin until I started a dharma practice centered around Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. I'm still just a baby learning to see in my practice. What I meditate on now depends on what’s going on in my life at the time. The teachers we go to provide several meditations in class that I experiment with at home. Lately I’ve been meditating on intention to help direct the thoughts behind my actions so I can be in the world in a more focused, happy, and productive way. While meditation itself is important, it’s essential to apply the things we learn in meditation to our everyday lives. It’s an incredibly challenging study and difficult ongoing experiment that I undoubtedly mess up all the time.
What does wellness mean to you
My idea of wellness has shifted a lot in the last two years. Before I used to be really into the commercial and hype side of wellness – I was all about the coolest athleisure brands, the newest detox diet or juicery, mystic healers, and the hottest boutique fitness trends. And while they all certainly have their allure and significance and I may still have curiosity about some of them, wellness now is really about my spiritual practice and the self care rituals I’ve devised for myself that are informed by my spiritual practice. I replaced aggressive fitness routines with a compassionate yoga practice at a studio I feel a real connection with. I find grounding in the teachings of profoundly wise dharma teachers, and pursue deeper self study in my meditation practice.
What are parallels you see between wellness and design
I’ve noticed that both wellness and design (within wellness) have gotten a lot more simplified. People are so bombarded visually and mentally, and it feels like we have less time to figure out or bother with complex regimens or processes. I see wellness brands lately focusing on simplified rituals, multi-purposing, multi-tasking products with more casual but straightforward messaging and clean design.
Best advice you ve ever received and advice you d give your younger self
“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” I’m not sure where or who this quote is from. I have perfectionist tendencies which often work against me as I can spend an eternity just fretting over small details. This quote is something I think about a lot to help bring me out of that unproductive cycle of judging myself, being too afraid to execute and share my work. This is all way easier said than done, of course. Spend time feeling good about the good things you’ve done. Don’t be afraid to admit what you want. Forget your ego. Love yourself deeply.
Advice to women being hard on themselves when looking in the mirror in the morning
This is tough as I’ve totally been there whether it be about body shape, skin, getting older, or just feeling really disconnected from myself. The best thing I’ve found to do in this case is to really nurture myself. Think of yourself as if you were your own precious child, or imagine how you would treat someone you love deeply (ie. your sister, your mother, your best friend, etc.). With that in mind, give yourself things that are really good and nurturing for you. Start with small things like a nice warming bath, a good wholesome meal, good sleep, going to a restorative yoga or meditation class, a massage, a night all to yourself. Just do nice, healthy things for you – let yourself have them without guilt or shame, and enjoy them. Gradually build up to bigger and more meaningful gifts to yourself that give you a deeper sense of joy. It’s important to do these things with the intention of loving and nurturing yourself. When you’re not liking what you see in the mirror, it’s easy to distract yourself or try to remedy it by buying new clothes, splurging on expensive beauty treatments, or beating yourself up with aggressive dieting and exercising, etc. But those things only feel good for a moment (if they do at all) and you’ll just be back to not feeling good about yourself. Show yourself deep love and care, most especially when you’re not liking yourself.
Be Your Own Alchemist + 4 Other Beauty Resolutions That Don't Involve Dieting words by Fern Olivia @fernolivia
Oftentimes, the New Year brings forth an immense amount of pressure to shape up, perform, and "finally do things right." We're often really, really hard on ourselves when it comes to our resolutions. Let's change that, babes. We're doing the best we can! Furthermore, there is immense pressure and expectation around the holidays, so although there is beautiful sacred symbolism embedded in the New Year celebration, it can be quite overwhelming, and oftentimes, it's the time we begin to be incredibly hard on ourselves and our bodies. The truth is, it doesn't take a whole year to create conscious and sustainable change, and it takes a lot less than a year to fall off the wagon and break the promises you made to yourself. Does that resonate with you? I've seen it happen time and time again with myself—and my clients. Through my desire to change this so we all can feel more empowered, I discovered a new way to approach resolutions, without the shame or expectation around the "perfect body" or "losing the 10 pounds you gained this year." Here are five simple and easy-to-stick-to intentions that will bring you back into alignment with who you really are—so you, too, can begin to start feeling empowered and powerful this year!
1. Love thyself This year, unapologetically accept yourself. No more berating, no more self-deprecation, no more self-judgment or self-loathing. The antidote for all the mean things you've been saying to yourself: 11 minutes of dancing in front of the mirror daily, naked. It's intense—I know this because when this assignment was given to me during Kundalini training, it took me two months into the course to actually start doing it every day. Dance to a song or a mantra that makes you feel alive and beautiful. Be sure to look into your own eyes, feel your soul. Look at your gorgeous body. The curves that make you you. You may laugh. You may cry. Each day may bring up a new feeling, of appreciation, of understanding, of compassion. I promise you this will be the most powerful ritual you do every day. 2. Go au naturel Say farewell to processed foods, refined sugars, and anything you can't pronounce. This goes for foods and beauty products. Your body is your temple—treat it with respect, and it will respect you. The weight gain, the hormone imbalances, the weak digestion, and poor immunity are all tied to environmental toxins and chemical load on the body from the food we are eating and the products we are using. This is precisely why I love making Ajai, my own essential-oil-based beauty and self-care products. I have made a conscious decision to use only organic botanical ingredients in order to free my skin, and I have had the best skin I've had in years, I've lost stubborn weight around my belly, and my thyroid is much happier. I always ask, if you wouldn't eat it, why would you put it on your face?
3. Kiss Mother Earth Our precious Mother Earth cannot stick around forever if we don't step up and treat her with more love. Let us all recycle, bring our own reusable bags to the market, use rags instead of paper towels, and pick up trash on the beach. These are just a few of the very easy conscious choices we can all make to kiss the ground we walk upon, so she can kiss us back for generations to come. I notice that when I clean up my external environment, my internal environment shines, too. 4. Be your own alchemist. This past year, I began experimenting with essential oils to nourish and support my thyroid (I have the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s hypothyroiditis), and as I learned more about the incredible healing potential of nature's medicine cabinet, I began to create my own blends. I became empowered in my own self-healing, adopting holistic rituals to support my vitality. The simple self-care ritual of rolling lemongrass and peppermint on my neck every day while repeating a mantra has radically changed my life. I also created Grace Alchemy, a rose and patchouli blend that makes all men within a 10-foot radius swoon. There are hundreds of powerful essential oils that can promote healing from conditions ranging from thyroid disease to chronic congestion, fatigue, weight gain, and hormonal imbalances. When you're choosing your essential oils, be sure to research the source—I swear by certified-organic, therapeutic-grade essential oils sourced sustainably, supporting the livelihoods of our growers around the world.
5. Stay committed Remember that change doesn't happen overnight, and the longer we have been stuck in subconscious patterns —maybe even those that date back to our mothers or grandmothers—the longer it will take us to dig ourselves out. When you stray from the essence of your intention, don't berate yourself. Instead, gently remind yourself of your commitment, and at the same time, stay firm in your resolve. In order to really see changes in my body and relationships, I learned that I needed to commit to my daily practice—every day, not "almost every day." Because if we only commit "almost every day," we will "almost have the relationship" or "almost have the career" or "almost feel good in our bodies." It doesn't have to be a two-hour daily practice—it can be something so simple as repeating the same mantra to yourself before bed every single night or starting your day with the same meditation or breathwork practice. What works for me is writing down my self-care routine at the top of my daily action plan, so I do it before checking social media or emails—because we all know where that leads…. Stay committed to yourself, because you are worth it. We are at a critical time on this planet, a time when there is massive fear and suffering, and I believe that in order to create a shift, we must treat ourselves with kindness, compassion, and dignity. And instead of treating the new year as a time where we beat ourselves up and feel really guilty for everything we didn't do this past year, let's resolve to be more conscious and more inspired. So this year, I urge you to get cozy with a cup of tea and look at where you can find more creativity in your life, where you can be more mindful, where you can become your own alchemist, and where you can love yourself more. Then get out your calendar and plan to set aside some time on the next full moon and new moon to revisit your intentions and praise your efforts. You have everything to gain by going deep.
Mushroom Lattes & Crowding Out Caffeine words + recipe + images by Alison Marras @foodbymars
Have you heard of Chaga? How about Cordyceps? Reishi ring a bell? No these aren't cities in foreign countries, they're types of medicinal mushrooms!! They all have their own 'special power' as I like to call it, depending on what you could use the most support in or just depending on what taste you like best. I realize we are talking about drinking mushrooms by the way... but go with me here. Coffees are beans, and people drink that all the time! (Not the same? okay, whatever.) I used to be a 1-2 cup of coffee every morning or I don't talk to anyone type of gal... I'd get a headache on the weekends when I woke up later than I did on weekdays because my body was craving my daily dose of caffeine. I was completely addicted and reliant on the stuff and I hated that. In the past, I had tried so many times to give it up but that headaches were too much to bear and watching everyone around me drinking it was such a tease! I'd eventually cave in, it was always all or nothing.
Here's what changed. Once I started to experiment with other drinks I could have as my morning ritual instead, the options really opened me up! We have been thinking way too small, people. Thanks to Chaga (this was my gateway into drinking mushrooms), I realized I was able to live without caffeine, AND moreover - liked how I felt so much better when I wasn't a caffeine addict. My energy increased and it wasn't a jittery kind, and without thinking about it too much, I found I was getting sick much less. Win-win. These lattes are my favorite way to drink medicinal mushrooms and I've had a lot of trial and error. The tastes are deep and earthy, and the health benefits are nothing short of incredible. As someone living with an autoimmune disease, I need all the help I can get... and I absolutely can attest to the magic of mushrooms and herbs. If you're someone who could use an immunity boost (and who couldn't?!) and some natural energy, while maintaining a morning ritual you'll want to check these out. Coffee is delicious and all, and I'll enjoy it from time to time, but there's a whole world out there of possibilities! Who knows, you might soon trade in your daily cup of joe for some fungus in a cup some days... I'm also adding in a couple of other adaptogens that I've also grown to love, I've noted which ones are optional for recipe-sake. I love adding ashwagandha for even more benefits of supporting stress and adrenals, as well as my hypothyroid (under-active), it's also wonderful for healthy hair. The addition of coconut oil and collagen are great of hair, skin, nails and so much more - this combo also helps it to froth up even more! Put that morning drink to work for you.
Spiced Chaga Latte This deep and dark mushroom will keep you strong and healthy, ready to tackle anything that's thrown your way! The optional addition of maca will give an extra boost of energy and alertness. Ingredients (serves 1) 2 oz hot water 1 serving Chaga extract (I use the Chaga Elixer from Four Sigmatic) 6 oz almond or coconut milk 1 Tbsp coconut oil 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp ground cardamom 1 tsp maca powder (optional) 1/2 tsp ashwagandha powder (optional) 1 scoop Vital Proteins Collagen powder (optional, omit if vegan) Directions Heat milk with coconut oil for 3-4 minutes on medium heat on the stovetop until coconut oil is melted and milk is hot (small bubbles, don't boil). Add hot water to your blender with the rest of the ingredients. When milk is ready, add to the blender and blend on high for 20 seconds. Foamy bubbles should form at the top like a latte! Pour and enjoy right away.
6 Ways To Deal When You Feel EVERYTHING (An Empath's Survival Guide) by Sydney Campos @sydneycampos
Ever feel like you're reading the minds of everyone else in the room? Like you actually experience what they're thinking and feeling, sometimes to the point that it feels like you ARE them? Do you ever feel immensely drained after conversations with certain people or with big groups? Maybe you've always felt like you pick up on energy in an instant and read people right away—almost as soon as you come into contact. If you answered yes to any of the above, chances are you may be an empath. Empaths are people who can feel what other people are feeling and experiencing without actually being in the same circumstances themselves. It's like being a psychic of sorts but with more emphasis on experiencing others' emotions. Before I knew I was an empath and before I came to learn about all the tools and practices that help me feel balanced and taken care of on a regular basis, I used to feel like I was going crazy. How was it that I could feel so deeply and so much at once? Under the guise of having fun and partying, starting at the age of 14 (when my sensitivity began to heighten), I turned to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate. I didn't want to feel so much. That worked for a while. Until one day, about a decade later, self-medicating simply stopped making a difference. So, I sought support in finding and forging a new, better path. Initially, getting sober opened the floodgates to feelings I had repressed for years and years. Everything flowed in at once, making an already arduous lifestyle change even more challenging. But eventually I evened out and began to explore alternative healing modalities and transformational work for further clarity.
Learning that I am an empath changed my life forever. I know myself. I love myself. Most of all, I understand how profoundly useful my abilities can be in helping myself and others heal, transform, and grow. I often wonder how many people, in any given moment, are struggling with their own empathic abilities, unaware of their gifts and their unique capacity to connect with the world. Here are a few life-changing practices and tools that have made all the difference to my efficacy and well-being as an empowered empath: 1. Treat self-care like it's your job. Because it is. Getting pumped about self-care will change your game. Treat yourself like your own favorite project. How well you take care of yourself is how successful, connected, happy, and free you are every day. Care for yourself on every level: mind, body, and spirit. Nutrition and healthy eating are huge. The cleaner you eat and the better equipped your physical body is for optimal performance, the clearer your intuition will be and the stronger your abilities will be. Physical activity is also crucial for moving energy and releasing any buildup or blockages that you might be storing from absorbing other people's "stuff" along the way. There are plenty of options, there's no one-size-fits-all method. But the baseline routine is striving to eat organic, to consume more plant-based foods than otherwise, to take in less sugar and fewer processed foods, to eat only consciously raised animals (if you eat any), and perhaps to switch to minimally processed dairy (if you use it at all). Moderation and balance are key. Self-care should never feel like a limitation. It shouldn't induce stress or anxiety. It should be fun, creative, expansive, and supportive. And if you ever need help with this, there are plenty of resources to turn to, including yours truly.
2. Meditate, meditate, meditate. Get into YOU time. Even if you've never meditated before, there's no better time to start than right now. For so long, my empathic nature made me want to take care of everyone else first. I thought that as long as the people around me were happy and taken care of, I'd feel that way, too. I found it unbearable to sit still—being alone with my thoughts wasn't even an option. Think of meditation as YOU time. It is a catalyst for clearing out everything that is not yours and strengthening your connection to intentions and intuition. It's training time for your empathic abilities and provides a space in which you can release the energy you may have absorbed during the day. Whatever you do, commit to a practice. This is your time to refuel and nourish yourself after you've given a lot of yourself to others. 3. Give aura cleansing and visualization a try. Next-level guided meditations rocked my world as soon as I became curious about trying them. Plus it helped to listen to someone else's guidance, especially as I was getting comfortable with my own practice. You can try searching YouTube for "Empath Meditation" and "Aura Cleansing Meditation" to get started. For aura cleansing, set a timer for a few minutes and get comfortable in a seated position. Start envisioning a cleansing white light dripping over you in all directions. Picture the healing light removing anything that no longer serves you, clearing your energy field of anything blocking you from connection with your true self.
Consciously release anything that is not yours, whether it be thoughts, emotions, or experiences that feel like they originate from elsewhere. 4. Get in touch with your own feelings as much as possible. This is how you'll start to discern between YOU and everyone else. You can start by asking yourself (as often as possible but especially in social situations), "How am I feeling right now?" "How is this situation affecting me?" "How are the people around me interacting with me?" "Do I feel nourished?" "Do I feel drained?" This simple practice will strengthen your connection to yourself and to your intuition. From here, you can start to separate your own experience from everyone else's while also discerning whether the people you're associating with are nourishing you or draining you. 5. Cleanse your life of toxic, draining relationships, activities, and environments. What brings you down? Can you stop doing it? What do you do that leaves you totally exhausted and empty? Who makes you feel this way? As I became more aware of my empath tendencies, I noticed that I attracted energy vampires—people that exhausted me. Are you going anywhere on a regular basis that makes you feel drained, where people take more from you than you get in return? Identify these places and people and begin to erase them from your life. Say "no" more often.
6. Reject things that don't align with your spirit. photo: Lift/Next Level Floats
Anything that doesn't feed your soul, that you might be doing to please others, has to go. If a single bit of you feels unaligned with an activity or plan, say, "Thanks, but no thanks." I used to be so uncomfortable turning down invitations. I wanted to say yes to everything because I was so grateful to even be invited, and I wanted to make sure I didn't miss out on anything. Well, news flash—FOMO is not a real thing. Practice saying no more often, and it'll become much easier for you to respect and tend to your own wants and needs. I've deeply connected with the beauty of my empathic inclination to help everyone, to feel deeply connected to humanity and all living things, and to want to use my abilities and experience to help as many people as possible live incredible, fulfilled, happy lives. That intention has manifested in magical ways—some of which I could never have predicted. When I reflect on all I've accomplished in just a few short years, my life sometimes feels like a dream. So let me ask you: How do you want to show up in the world? What is your gift? How are you called to make an impact? Your unique talent—your vocation—is utterly, urgently needed. Know that by simply living in an optimal state of well-being your presence is healing and brings a vast lightness to everyone who comes into your path. By embodying your most authentic self and living vibrantly and happily you inspire others around you to do the same. And just like that, we stop pulling everything in from elsewhere and instead start pushing authenticity, healing, and our true power out. Together we create an immense ripple effect of empowerment, healing, and connection that elevates everyone and lights up the world.
Diving Inward: A Flotation Tank Experience by: Gabrielle Gray @gabriellegray_
My first adventure floating in a pod wasn’t as trippy as I’d hoped, but it was definitely other-worldly. Flotation tanks have been around for quite a while, but it’s the latest in my quest to expand my wellness routine. The thought of what weightlessness might do for my spine made me jump at the chance. And stories of psychedelic experiences had me nervous and excited to induce some sort of mind-blowing experience. When I arrived at Lift/Next Level Floats in Boerum Hill, my mild case of nerves was eased by a luxurious waiting room and clearly explained safety precautions. It’s basically impossible to drown, since it’s loaded with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt, and you have total control over the lighting, music, or lack thereof. You can get out at any time. The center has two different options for floating. There is a pod that just fits a human and has a lid, and there is a small room float for the confirmed claustrophobic, which is pleasantly lit by starlight on the ceiling. I chose the pod, because I wanted to go all-in on the sensory deprivation aspect for my first time, and could dial the intensity back if need be. The giant pod lid lifts like the hood of a car, and made me feel like I was preparing my body for a journey lightyears into space. When I laid down in the smooth and somewhat cloudy water, I sort of understood all the hype. My hair was flowing around me, my body was warm and relaxed, and you cannot sink. You float in the nude, so there is literally nothing touching you but the water.
photo: Lift/Next Level Floats
In the first half of the session (I estimate… there’s really no way to keep time, which is wonderful) I mostly just needed to mentally and physically acclimate. The only downside was the fact that because you’re floating, you can bump into an edge of the space at any time. So I would get into a meditative place and then get pulled out of it and brought back to my body and the space. Meditators are no stranger to distraction, so I found it easy enough to relax the mind again. But there was quite a bit of back and forth in the front end, which I think stood in the way of me having a drug-free trip. Near the end of the session, I noticed a marked physical relaxation in my upper back, neck and jaw. My body was so relaxed, that I started to experience dull pain. It was like my body didn’t know how to handle the lack of tension. I’ve had similar pain after a great chiropractic alignment. Before I knew it, the session was over and it was time to shower and get back to real life. The neck and jaw soreness was still lingering, but when I went home that night, I slept deeply and woke up pain free. I had a deep physical and energetic release. On top of that, my hair and skin felt smoother than ever! My session was a good lesson in non-attachment. The meditative stretches were peaceful and deep enough that I downloaded some meaningful tidbits, which I journaled afterward in the waiting room, but I didn’t get the wild mind-ride I was hoping for. Our spiritual experiences can be found everywhere, but we can’t really force them. Just be open to what may happen and accept anything you receive. In this case, I received some nextlevel relaxation, which is probably just what I needed in that moment. I trust that the universe knows best.
The Warmth Of Sharing Meals words + recipe by Linda Sarris @thecheekychef images by Katie June Burton @katiefresca
I started working in the culinary world when I turned 25. Leaving an office job and transitioning into something that really made me happy was a big leap. Two things that I am discovering in my growth as an entrepreneur are that you need to take care of yourself and you need to foster relationships that strengthen you. Freelancers get caught up in the hustle (especially in New York City) oh too often. We have to hunt, search, and scrap for jobs. Every day is different but that is what makes it terrifyingly exciting. Taking care of yourself could mean a balance of eating well, exercising, positivity and self love. Being my own best cheerleader, even when I think I'm bullshitting it, just keeps me moving forward. Surrounding yourself with strong people who lift you up is the second part; whether it's a mentor, a lover, a partner, a client or a friend -- we can't do it on our own. After cooking school, I was lucky to receive a scholarship that sent me to Sicily and into the hands of my mentor, Fabrizia. But it's no longer luck that keeps the adventure alive, it's the choices I'm making that allow me to build relationships, continue learning and growing. While traveling in Sicily this fall, I had an opportunity to work the olive harvest in a town called Sambuca di Sicilia. What comforted my heart while being away from home was of course the satisfaction of eating local and seasonally but also the combination of warm Sicilian sun and even warmer people. Whether I was sitting on the ground in the shade of an olive tree splitting a panino and some pomegranates with a farmer or cooking together with friends sharing the meal with their family of perfect little loud Italian children in the comfort of their homes, eating together is a ritual that I love more than any other.
Most of the time, I'm the one in the kitchen but sharing meals or cooking together is the best way to comfort yourself, thank friends, cheer them up or celebrate! I usually save it for date number three with new guys. Risotto is something I make when I need to wash away the winter blues. I can whip it up with items from the pantry and it's always a crowd pleaser. The recipe is simple but requires focus. You need to dedicate your time and cannot be distracted with other things. In this vegetarian recipe, I use broccoli rabe paired with a new harvest Italian extra virgin olive oil and some stinky strong cheese on top. I like to add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end to brighten it up. The balance of bitter greens with high-quality oil and salty cheese are guaranteed to warm your belly. Linda Sarris is a private chef who splits her time between Brooklyn and Italy. She finds inspiration from her badass female CEO clients and cooking mentors abroad. Linda travels often for research and work-study programs including an upcoming Sicilian food/wine tour with guests from May 6-12. Follow her culinary storytelling through instagram @thecheekychef and lindasarris.com.
Broccoli Rabe Risotto serves 3 1c. arborio or carnaroli rice (1 espresso cup per person) 1 small red onion, finely diced 4T extra virgin olive oil 1/2c. white wine 3c. vegetable stock 2 bunches of broccoli rabe, 6c. of trimmed sprigs 3T unsalted butter 1/2c. parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated sea salt and flakey finishing salt black pepper funky cheese like pecorino, taleggio or an earthy castelrosso to finish the dish
Trim tough stems from the broccoli rabe and remove large outer leaves. Add the florets to a pot of heavily salted boiling water, cooking until bright green and softened. Blanch in ice water to stop the cooking, drain and set aside. In a wide flat-bottomed pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil on medium. Add the onion, cooking until softened and translucent. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable stock in a separate pot and grab a ladle. Add all of the rice to your risotto pan and stir to coat with the oil and onions. Toast for a few minutes then add the white wine to deglaze the pan. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon so the rice doesn't stick to the bottom, allow the wine to absorb a little bit into rice and burn off the rest. Start adding 1 ladle of broth at a time until fully absorbed. Lower the heat to just simmering and always keep stirring. The whole process should take about 20 minutes. Cook to your desired doneness; the rice should stick to your teeth (al dente) but not feel too crunchy. Stir in the broccoli rabe for a few minutes just before the rice finishes cooking. Turn off the heat and finish with butter and grated cheese for the "mantecatura" step. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. The butter and cheese will melt and make the risotto creamy. Finish with a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil, flakey sea salt and a few bits of funky cheese. Cheeky's Risotto Notes: Measure 1 espresso cup of dry risotto rice per person. It's the perfect amount. Chop your onions smaller than the size of the rice. Wine, olive oil and salt are very important. Don't skimp on quality. Serve right away; both risotto and pasta waits for nobody.