Building the Yin

Me cooking at the thoroughly enjoyable “building a home for your heart” weekend

So in my last entry posted just before the “Building a Home for your Heart” weekend workshop I typed about the heart being represented by the eternal flame within us. That this flame is our unique, divine consciousness, our “shen” in Chinese medicine, and needs to be nurtured and protected, not allowed to rage out of control, fuelled by the externals of thoughts, judgements and emotions. Finding an activity such as meditation, swimming, walking in the park, singing, jogging or watching the waves on the beach as I am doing now allows us a healthy distance from our thoughts and emotions and reduces the power they can have over us so we don’t literally take them to heart. In this post I will list points and foods that can further support this Yin in the body and enhance peace within us. The first two recipes are for my favourite loaves of bread. Don’t be put off by baking your own bread – I promise it’s really easy and these loaves don’t need kneading, a big wooden spoon and you are away. Being able to bake your own bread gives me a connection to my kitchen and a real sense of accomplishment.

The first loaf may be a little controversial as it is wheat with extra added wheat and abit more wheat. Many people have developed an intolerance to wheat, it can bring on bloating and/or IBS. It’s unfortunate as wheat in its unrefined state has a positive effect on the heart, its underlying bitter flavour and fibre content can bring health benefits and a sense of grounding to the body. It is one of the few foods that can calm the mind and build the yin. I believe that we have over used and over-refined wheat and that is what has lead to many problems. It is so good at building up the body that if you hold onto weight or are prone to developing growths or tumours move on to the spelt loaf. If you are convalescing, need building up, calming down or are recovering from a broken heart, here’s the loaf for you.

Wheat Soda

• 175g wholewheat flour

• 75g cream flour

• 50g wheat germ

• 50g wheat bran

• 50g porridge oats

• 50g soft brown sugar

• 2 tsp bicarb of soda

• Pinch of sea salt

• 1 egg

• 450ml buttermilk

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl ensuring the bicarb is well sieved through. In a jug mix the buttermilk and egg. I often use soya milk or goats milk for this recipe. By adding the juice of a lemon the milk or soya will sour and work as buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix, when combined pour into a buttered loaf tin. As this loaf is quite wet, bake for at least 75 mins at 170 which is a fairly long cooking time but I once heard a man say “if you don’t have time to bake bread, you don’t have time to live”. When I heard that I thought, with a strong dose of internal sarcasm “yeah …. right” but now when I cut the bread for my kids school sandwiches I get it and he was right.

Spelt Bread

Spelt is a very ancient grain that hasn’t changed much in over 4000 years. It can be tolerated by those who cannot normally eat wheat because its especially thick husk, which protects it from pollutants and insects also keeps it fresher and prevents it from becoming rancid. It is very high in protein and water soluble fibre which also allows for easy digestion and assimilation. This is the bread I started with and I still make it at least twice a week. The honey in the mixture gives the crust a real chewy sweetness. Try adding a couple of handfuls of pumpkin seeds for a very professional artisan bread.

• 500g Organic Wholewheat Spelt Flour

• 1 tsp salt

• 1 tsp fast action yeast

• 14 fl oz warm water from recently boiled kettle

• 1 tbls honey

• 1 tbls olive oil

Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl. Dissolve the honey in the warm water and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir together well, adding the oil at the end to loosen the mixture. Grease a bread tin and pop the mixture in, cover it with a cloth and leave it to rise for about half an hour depending on the warmth of your kitchen or until it reaches the top of your bread tin then put into a preheated oven for 45-55 mins at 180°C

Building the Love

A good point to build yin and help the mind to settle into the healthy heart would be Heart 7. If you place your thumb at the top of your little finger and draw your thumb in a fairly straight line down to the crease on your wrist, you will find an indentation there, that is Heart 7. Hold your thumb there until you feel the energy come and meet your thumb or if it feels very solid or strong wait until the energy subsides and softens. Sometimes I hold this point for at least a minute or so.

And my favourite point which works for all occasions CV17. This point is really for balancing energy (Ki) within the body but I also find it calms and focuses the mind knowing that all is well….. all is well ……. So how to find it, draw an imaginary line from nipple to nipple, where that crosses the sternum/breastbone is CV17. Often there is a small dint there, just the right size for the middle finger to sit into. Again don’t press too hard just meet the energy with your finger and allow, feel the expansion as your rib cage softens and the energy settles.

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