Ayurveda in quaratine

I’m not feeling comfortable to post the occasional weekend photo of the food I’ve made. At home and preparing my meals every single day, I cannot help but to reflect upon the fact that quarantine is a privilege. I have all that I need to stay home, not only because there are those working to provide those essentials, but because there is a Universe, an Order, at work around all of us – in spite of us — and everything indicates that we’ve violated it and have received a penalty, the red card.
By no means do I intend to chastise all the happy pictures of people discovering, or rediscovering, the joys of food, cooking and playing house. Actually, I quite like seeing them, if not for the fact that I know such endeavours will lead to much more than pleasure.
As anyone who has cultivated a regular discipline knows, the same discernment employed in your practice starts to seep its way into many other things you do. That is why my normal passion for food has pervaded into the cleaning of my house, starting with washing my spice tin, realising that often the most untidy things in our life are not only right under our nose, they are often in the little corners of our mind that we never bother cleaning.
In doing so, I am also so grateful that I not only learned to cook well, but that I cultivated a certain discipline in my life. I fast regularly, which means I have a grasp on the difference between hunger, thirst and anxiety. That alone is a very useful thing in this moment. I also know about the most basic medicines our ancestors used when there were none. They observed the elements: fire, water, earth and air. I think no other culture has systematized this knowledge better than India. Even just a little knowledge of ayurveda will teach you when and how to reach for fire to put into your food and when to to cool it with earth for your own good. Ayurveda will also teach which of those elements predominates within you, creating a potential problem, thereby teaching you the humbling experience that the things you like, your taste, are often not the things that are good for you, regardless of the gymnastics of the mind to justify them.
All this to tell you to take full advantage of this quarantine, finding sweetness in the bitter, how sour can be soothing, and all the other polarities between red chilis and tumeric. Activating all the taste buds in a meal — bitter, sweet, salty, sour, umami — promtes a lingering satisfaction that will keep you from agitation and seeking further distractions. You might even discover that once you know how to manipulate and spice the bounty that grows from the earth, you might need very little of the animals that walk, swim and fly around it.

Not only the treatment of the animals with whom we share the world, but how we have treated one another is most certainly behind the Referee’s call to throw us out of the game and back home.

So, health permitting, skip dinner. If it hurts, drink water. If it still hurts, just go to bed. You’ll be fine. Keep your lungs warm and wet with ginger and lemon tea. Don’t forget those that produce, transport and distribute the vegetables for your quarantine, and try preparing the green things you might not necessarily like. 😉

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A native of Chicago, Ricky Toledano has lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for over twenty years as a writer, translator and teacher. [a]multipicity is multi-lingual collection of reflections through the humanities.

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