Thursday, October 6, 2011

1st Year Anniversary!!

Exactly 1 year ago today I said Goodbye to USA and Hello to Turkey. I had lived in USA for 13 years, 9 of it in Boston. I didn't have much idea about what was going to happen when I moved to Turkey, similar to when I moved to USA as an 18 year old, I had the blind courage of leaving and moving away. Although this time it was more like leaving and moving on, rather than moving away. Plus when I was moving to USA I knew it was mainly for the purpose of education. Moving to Turkey had no clear purpose whatsoever, except maybe I wanted some change and adventure.
Today, during my meditation, I strongly felt the real reason of me moving back to Turkey, more specifically to Istanbul. Before I get to that, I want to write about what happened during this first year.
As I'm writing I'm eyes getting slightly wet with tears that have been coming out since my morning yoga/meditation...and I'm nervous for no specific reason that I'm aware of at this moment...Am I nervous for sharing these with you, maybe?
I bought a 1 way ticket to Istanbul (never bought a 1 one ticket before). I flew to Istanbul on the 5th of October, arriving on the 6th, 2010. I had sent my belongings as in 25 boxes via a shipping company which was to be arrived in 2 months or so. So once I arrived home (or rather my parents home) in Istanbul I was exhausted from packing and saying goodbyes. Within a week or 2 I flew to Bodrum in the south of Turkey where we have a summer house. This was also a 1 way ticket from Istanbul. As I tried to relax and enjoy the off season emptiness of the South, warm days and cool nights, I found myself meeting locals, making friends and planning on living in Bodrum without returning to Istanbul. Ha! Remember I had no clear purpose of why I was moving to Turkey. I did want to eventually live in a quiet place away from the city, in nature, but I hadn't thought about Bodrum and imagined I would stay in Istanbul at least for a while. But life was moving on in Bodrum and I was loving it the more I stayed. I stayed there for 3 months and returned to Istanbul end of December only because I had to go and fetch my boxes from customs. I didn't plan on staying in Istanbul for too long, I was planning on living in Bodrum, for real! But then I started yoga classes in Cihangir Yoga and then Acupuncture therapy and then decided to continue in Cihangir Yoga with their Yoga Teacher Training...still thinking I'll go back to Bodrum every month or so. Then I found myself with job options in Istanbul and I was making friends. But I was very very unhappy in Istanbul. I was thinking the only reason I'm living in Istanbul now is because my acupuncture therapy is taking long. I was waiting and waiting to move away from Istanbul again...I even thought I would move back to USA if jobs in Bodrum didn't work...I was really unhappy in Istanbul for several reasons. One, living with parents after 13 years of independence was really challenging. Second, I didn't feel like I belonged to Istanbul, I felt like a foreigner...and so I acted like a foreigner. All this time I was continuing my acupuncture therapy and yoga teacher training. Then, some things started to change. It was the time after my brother and his girlfriend came to visit us and we were 5 people in the house. I found myself going mad...seriously I was like a madwoman! The house was too crowded, not to mention the 13 million crowd of people living in Istanbul that I had no interest in knowing because I didn't give them a chance or myself a chance to really look. I was like a lunatic American, afraid of Turkish people...split between an unknown Turkish personality and strong American personality. I was irritated and angry all the time. I quarrelled a lot with my family. I didn't like what had become of me and my life in Turkey. I was so frustrated not only with the chaotic city and my family but more with myself. What the hell was going on? So, one of those days when I was extremely frustrated, I decided to sit in meditation. Meditation was not something I liked really, and we hadn't studied it much in our yoga training so far. But for some reason, I felt the urge to sit in meditation. So I did. And once I sat still and closed my eyes I felt at HOME! There was craziness and ugliness outside and no place I could call Home, but I felt at HOME in meditation. It was an amazingly beautiful feeling. I don't remember if I cried during my first meditation or how long it lasted, but after that I decided to give myself homework to sit in meditation every day and see what happens. So I did. And eventually I fell in love with meditation. Few weeks later my yoga teacher gave us the same homework; to sit in meditation everyday because we had studied it now. I continued and have been continuing it ever since, every day, sitting in absolute stillness for 5-30 minutes. The more I meditated the more I was able to sit still and tolerate life. The life as it is. I just watch and observe my thoughts and feelings that pass during meditation. I sit still even though my back, or hips or knee hurt sometimes. As I continued meditation every day and my yoga teacher training and added my own yoga practice to my day...I found myself being calm, quiet and peaceful throughout the days. During this time, somewhere around June-July my acupuncture therapy was coming to an end, but suddenly my right knee was in a lot of pain. It limited my yoga practice so much that I cried from frustration. I refused to be seen by a doctor other than my Acupuncture doctor. But the knee cried in pain every day. Then I decided to try Family Constellation. I did a session in Bodrum. I felt even more peaceful after that...but that only lasted until I came back to Istanbul and faced my parents again. Meanwhile I got involved in a very short but extremely upsetting love story which lead me to crying for unknown reasons during my daily meditations. I cried during every meditation for about 2 months. The love story wasn't the reason I was crying. The love story was a vessel that lead to deep holes inside of me and stirred it all up. In a way I was cleaning up the dirt inside of me. I also did another Family Constellation session, this time with my yoga teacher, Zeynep Aksoy, in Istanbul. Again I felt more at ease and peace the days following this. But I think there was something else, maybe I still couldn't accept some things or whatever that was supposed to happen after the Family Constellation seemed taking too long. Later, I decided to stop expecting something, and just let life be itself and tried to continue working on accepting life as it is.
I don't know how to continue writing, but so many little things were happening these past several months...making really good friends in Istanbul, getting to know the Turkish culture, accepting the fact that I too am Turkish, visiting Budapest, visiting Bodrum again, and deciding to settle and live in Istanbul and not Bodrum, preparing a house to live in Istanbul...somehow little by little I found myself more and more tolerating and accepting life and especially my parents as they are...and accepting myself the way I am. Istanbul became a livable place for me, and I actually was enjoying the fact that I could stay calm and at peace while life in Istanbul continued to be chaotic! And my knee pain was a lot less, although now I seem to have a neck injury, but no worries, I'll get over that one too...
Then in September our yoga teacher training ended with a retreat in the Kaz mountains which was an amazingly beautiful experience. I was sad when departing from my group of yogi friends, but I also knew that now I have a community, a place where I belong in Istanbul. We had shared so much that I'm sure it is impossible to stay apart now, although we may not live in the same city or see each other.
So now, I am a Certified Yoga Teacher, Dietitian and Breastfeeding counselor. Already giving yoga classes at a gym and have plans for my new home.
I still continue my daily yoga and meditation practice. Yesterday, during my practice I saw myself back in Boston, I saw myself with my friends there and then I saw myself with my yoga teacher Jenn Pici in Boston. Her warm smiling face sent warm feelings to my heart and suddenly I was filled with courage to accept myself as a yoga teacher and go and start teaching.
Today, I designated as a holiday for myself since its my 1st year anniversary. So, I slept in and when I woke up did some gentle yoga and in the end sat for a 20 minute meditation. During shavasana, the last resting pose, I again felt myself in Boston and found tears rolling down my face, and then as soon as I sat in meditation it started again, small and then huge tears rolling down my cheeks wetting my hands, clogging my nose and throat. I was thinking, am I missing Boston, or am I sorry for leaving? That did it. I cried harder..and harder..and harder..I couldn't sit still anymore, I was bending over my legs, head on the floor crying like a madwoman...this is what happened: I had the urge to keep saying "I'm Sorry". Then I felt and then saw the reason, the unknown purpose to why I came back to Istanbul. My Mother! I was sorry to leave and keep leaving things behind and ignoring the fact that I have to face my order to move on with my life as it, during meditation and in between crying I faced my mom and said: I am Sorry! ...And this went on for about 30 minutes. I realized very clearly that the main reason I moved back to Turkey is so I would learn about Family Constellation and do this yoga teacher training and have my own Family Constellation sessions done so that I can face My Mother and unravel all the knots in our we can continue our family tree with tolerance, love, peace and harmony. Once I realized this I started shivering. So this must be the reason. And I am happy that all of this happened. It was not an easy process, but this is a big step forward in my life!
Thank you for reading. This was very openly written, but I felt the need to write it and share it.

(The photograph is me and my family camping in North of Turkey. I am around 16 years old.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Yama Niyama Asana - Bhagavad Gita

Hint kültürünün temelini oluşturan Yoga, aslında Patanjali'nin Yoga Sutraları denen metindir. İnsan beden-zihin için bir kullanım kılavuzudur. Bu yazım Cihangir Yoga merkezindeki Zeynep Aksoy ile olan yoga eğitimimden mezun olabilmem için anlamam ve yapmam gereken son ödevdi. Artık bende bir Yoga Eğitmeni olarak bu bilgilerimi paylaşmak istiyorum.
Patanjali'nin Yoga Sutraları'nda sözünü ettiği hayat düzenleyici öğretilerden olan Asthanga'nın, yani yoga sürecinin sınırları ya da kolları olan ilk 3 öğretiden bahsediceğim; Yama, Niyama, ve Asana, ve bunların sunduğu 10 İlke:

1.     Yama: (her durumla ilgili evrensel ifadeler)
Ahimsa- Duyarlılık, Şiddetsizlik, şefkat, sevgi (yoganın esası ve temeli)
Satya- Dürüstlük
Asteya- Açıklık
Brahmaçarya- İçtenlik, Samimiyet
Aparigraha- Çömertlik

2.    Niyama:
Saucha- Sahicilik, Saf
Samtosha- Güven, Memnuniyet
Tapas- Tutku
Svadhyaya- Farkındalık, kendini bilmek
İshvarapranidhana- eylemin doğasına yakınlık, kendiliğindenlik.

3.    Asana – bedenle ilişkili bir oluş şeklidir, teknik değil.

Yama ve Niyamanın sunduğu 10 ilke veya net görebilmek için olan lensler ve Asana arasındakı bağ nedir ve nasıl kuruluyor?

Bunlar sırayla Patanjali’nin yoga sutralarındaki ilk 3 öğreti. Bu nedenle geri kalan 5 öğretiye devam etmek için veya onları anlayabilmek için bir yol gösteriyor. Yani Yama Niyama ve Asana’nın ortak özelliklerinden biri üçünün de yol gösteriyor olması, veya bakış acısı ya da net görebilmemiz için lens sunuyor olması. İnsanların, yaşam veya bilincin (evrenin) doğasını net bir biçimde görebilmeleri için Yama ve Niyama ile 5’er tane lens sunulurken, Asana’da beden bir lens olarak sunuluyor. Başka deyişle, söz edilen 10 nitelik ve beden bir araç olarak kullanılıyor, doğal olana daha yakın olalım, daha derinden ve net olarak görebilelim diye.
Yama Niyama ve Asana arasındaki bağ da bence Yama ve Niyama’nın sunduğu 10 ilkenin Asana, yani fiziksel haraket hali sırasındaki durgunluk ile birlikte kullanılması. Örneğin, bir fiziksel yoga pozu olan Uttita Trikonasana (Üçgen pozu) sırasında fiziksel bedenimizle ve kendimizle dürüst, içten, cömert, güven, farkındalık içinde, vs. olmamız. Belkide tüm 10 ilkenin kullanılabildiği anda Asana’daki gerginliğin olmadığı, ikiliğin ötesindeki durgunluk oluşuyor. Yani yama ve niyama yoga uygulaması için bir temel oluşturuyor. Ve bir bakıma yama ve niyama, olanı geniş açıyla net görebilmemiz için 10 tane lens sunduğu gibi asana da bedeni lens gibi sununca, olana daha derinden, daha yakınlaşmak ve net görmek mümkün olabiliyor. Bu hem bir fiziksel yoga pozu sırasında hemde yaşamımız için de geçerlidir. Bunların (yama, niyama ve asana) sayesinde yaşamda daha da derinleşmek, daha da yakınlaşmak ve evreni daha da geniş bir açıyla net görebilmek mümkün.

Bir de Bhagavad Gita diye bir metin vardır Hint Kültüründe. Bu sanskrit dilinde yazılmış kutsal bir metindir ve dil nedeniyle yorumlaması çok zor olduğundan tarih boyunca çok çeşitli şekillerde yorumlanmışdır. İnsanlığın başlangıcından da önceye dayanan bir Bilinç, ya da Bütünlük, ya da benim yorumumla Doğal, Basit Yaşam kılavuzu gibi. Var olmanın farkındalığı. Hiç bir amaçı hedeflemeden, kuralsız, ızdırapsız Doğal Yaşam. Ödevimiz Bhagavad Gita'dan bizi en etkileyen bölümü seçmekti. Bizdeki yorum aydın Ramesh S. Balsekar tarafından yapılmış. Öncellikle şunu söylemeliyim ki en etkileyici, en sevdiğim bölümü seçmesi çok zordu. Bize verilen bölümleri eğitimin sonunda ikinci defa okurken hepsi anlamlı ve rahatlatıcı geliverdi, halbuki bize verildiği eğitim başları zamanında çoğu çok anlamsız ve dini gelmişti. Şimdi Bhagavad Gita’da yazılanların bir din amaçlı olmadığını anlayabiliyorum ve din neymiş sanırım onu ilk defa anlayabiliyorum. Biri herşeyi olduğu gibi kabul et ki ızdırabın azalsın derken diğeri din olan kural koyarak kısıtlıyor olanları ve başka gereksiz ızdırap çıkarıyor. Bendeki Ramesh’in yorumunda Tanrı kelimesini ilk gördüğümde otomatik olarak bu dinden bahsediyor diye düşünüyordum ama sonra yoga eğitimimde derinleşince ve bu metine geri dönünce fark ettim ki bu bir yorum ve başka yorumlar da olabiliyor, Tanrı yerine Enerji, Bütünlük, Bilinç, Evren denilebiliniyor. Bu beni rahatlattı; çünkü Evrensel Enerjinin varlığını hissedebiliyorum, ona inanıyorum ve güveniyorum. Bunları Tanrı olarak yorumlayanlar için de din gibi olduğunu sanmıyorum çünkü bu yorumda günah veya sevap yok, kural yok, yani sonunda gerçekleştiremezsen suçluluk duygusu içinde olucağın kurallar yok. Sadece olanı olduğu gibi kabul etmek var, Farkındalık var. Fakat, Bhagavad Gita’da yazılanların tıpkı dinmiş gibi farklı yorumları olduğunu biliyorum. Daha önce Hare Krishna gurubunun bana verdiği Bhagavad Gita’yı okurken sonlarına doğru baya sıkılmış ve rahatsız olmaya başlamıştım. Şimdi Ramesh’in yorumunu okurkende gerçi ilk defa biraz rahatsız oldum ama o sanırım Tanrı kelimesiydi beni en çok rahatsız eden, ki bu da bendeki yorumda bile farklı yorumlanabiliyordu. Yinede ne kadar çok Bhagavad Gita’yı okumak artık rahatlatıcı ve güzel gelsede, o huzur içinde olma hissini sürdürmekte hala zorlanıyorum. Yani hatırlamak için sürekli olarak bu yazılara geri gelmek ve yogaya devam etmek geriyor sanıyorum.
En etkileyici bölüm: Bölüm IV-18
Eylemin içinde eylemde bulunmamayı (inaction), eylemsizliğin (non-action) içinde eylemi gören kişi bilge kişidir. Eylemin içinde olduğunda dahi ağırbaşlılığını koruyabilir.
Biraz anlaması zor gelmişti ve Ramesh’in yorumu da çok daha fazla açıklayıcı gelmedi. Fakat benim için bunun anlamı şöyle: Bhagavad Gita’da bir sürü kez belirtilen bu konu; eylemde bulunmamak değil eylemsizlik içinde olmak önemli olan diyor. Bu bölüm ise bana göre sanki bu konuyu en iyi özetleyen bölüm. Yani ne yaparsan yap veya ne yapıyor olursan ol ama sonunda fark edebilirsin ki, bu senin elinden geliyormuş veya gelmiyormuş gibi görünsede, gerçekte senin kontrolünde değil hiç bir hareketin, eylemin, veya hiç bir şey. Çünkü bir eylemin veya eylemsizliğin çok fazla faktörü var, genetik, yakın ortamdaki ve evrendeki diğer enerjiler, vs. Bunu eylemi gerçekleştirirken bile fark edebiliyorsan o zaman eylemsizliği veya tam huzuru hissedebiliyorsun muhtemelen. Ve eğer bende olduğu gibi bu farkındalık sürekli olarak gidip geliyorsa bile, eylemi gerçekleştirirken hafif bir sakinlik, dinginlik veya ağırbaşlılık içinde olabilmek mümkün. Ve bu bölümün beni çok etkilemesinin nedenlerinden biri de bunu hissedebiliyor olmam. Küçük küçük anlarda eylem içinde eylemsizliği ve eylemsizlik içinde eylemi fark edebiliyorum, ama bunlar saniyelik anlarda gerçekleşiyor. Yinede o bir kaç saniye içersinde kendimi çok huzurlu ve dingin hissediyorum. Bhagavad Gita’da bunu gören veya fark eden kişinin bilge olduğu yazılı. Benim açımdan bilge kişi dediği, yaşamda ne oluyor olursa olsun, sürekli olarak huzur ve dinginlik içinde olabilen kişi demek. Ve sonunda da yorumda deniliyor ki dinginlikten de eylemsizlik olan eylem doğar. Yani eylemsizlikte bizim kontrolümüz dışında olan bir eylem aslında, çünkü insanoğlu hareketsiz kalamaz zaten.
Yorumda bulunan Taoist aydının yorumu da çok hoşuma gidiyor.
"O, cennetin ve dünyanın bir aynasıdır, her şeyin yansımasıdır. Boşluk, dinginlik, huzur, sadelik, sessizlik, eylemsizlik (non-action) - cennetin ve dünyanın düzeyi budur. Bu, mükemmel Tao'dur. Bilge kişi burada dinleneceği yeri bulur. Dinlenerek bomboş kalır."
Burda benim yorumum huzurun veya huzur ve dinginlik veren enerjinin (boşluk, dinginlik, sadelik, sessizlik, eylemsizlik) dünyanın bir aynası ve herşeyin bir yansıması olduğu söyleniliyor. Bilge veya huzur içindeki kişi burada dinleneceği yeri bulabiliyor ve rahatlatıcı bir boşluk hissedebiliyor.
Bunun sonucunda çok hoş hisler içindeyim. Aynen, boşluk, dinginlik, sadelik, sessizlik, eylemsizlik, ve huzur hissediyorum. O yüzden bu çok etkileyici bir bölüm.
Ve o yüzden yoga eğitimim beni duygusal ve fiziksel olarak çok etkiledi, ruhsal acıdan dönüşümlere, ve psikolojik acısından ilerlememde yol verdi. Seviyorum Yoga'yı ve yaşamı olduğu gibi (iyisiyle ve kötüsüyle) kabul etmeyi...

Not: Fotoğraftaki yoga pozunda ben ve bir arkadaş, Kaz dağlarındaki eğitim sonu inzivamızda...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Erik the Fruit, not the Man:)

Erik means plum in Turkish. Can (pronounced chan) Erik is a kind of plum which I've only seen in Turkey. They are not like any other kind of plum. Eric is an American name used for males, also the name of one of the vampires in True Blood. So you see Eric is Erik in my mind. They sound very similar. Whenever I hear the name Eric I automatically think of Erik and wish I had some to eat. Funny but it wasn't one of those American guy names I was fond of because I keep thinking of Erik the plum, not the guy. And they are so delicious, the fruit Erik I mean:) Especially the kind Can Erik is harvested only in early Spring for a short period. So in Turkey, we can eat it only once a year. I lived without Can Erik for 13 years in US, occasionally some Turkish markets would import it, but coming all that way it wouldn't taste the same really. Still was great to see the real Erik, not Eric or the regular plums in markets.
By the way I'm not the only one, most Turkish people I would say are fans of Can Erik and can't wait to have some once a year. They are sold in markets now, but also they're a great street food. You just pop it in your mouth, suck and swallow the juicy flesh and spit the pit out (I mean in a container to throw away later, not on the street). Of course best to wash them before eating since its hard to imagine organic and street food being related but while on the street I say it's ok to pop in some risk...
Once, one of my friends, even more of a Can Erik freak than me told me that she was bringing some Can Erik from Turkey and since plants including fruits are not allowed to pass through customs in US she was caught and was told to let them go! Oh No! She was so upset, she actually sat there at customs and tried to eat as much of Erik as possible before letting it go to waste. I mean come on! What else could she do, obviously she isn't a terrorist trying to bring in a toxic plant or something. It's food and it's going to waste!
Anyway, I wanted to write about Erik the plum, especially Can Erik before the plum season is over. There are no more Can Erik now, it was all eaten by June, but we still have some ripe red plums in season.
Note: I ate the most Can Erik I possibly can this year, the year I moved back to Turkey and had dreamed of Erik for 13 years:)
What is so special about Can Erik? These cute golf ball size green hard & juicy plums are not only nutritious but also delicious, full with a unique sour flavor. This Can kind of plum is actually the unripened plum which is why it's so tart and sour. But plums are one of those rare fruits that can be consumed before ripened. Best consumed when chilled and some people like it with salt (to try it with salt you would eat the plum as you dip it in a small container of salt with each bite). I personally like them the way they are, and would recommend eating without the salt or just a few with salt since too much salt can cause bloating, and worsen heart and lung problems.
The online Turkish store Tulumba describes it as: This special plum (Erik) is like nothing you had before. It has a unique tart and sour taste and, unlike other plums, it is very hard. Its fans can't wait for it to arrive each season which usually starts in mid-April and ends in mid-May. The April batches are smaller and the size grows gradually throughout the season.
So when April arrives you can order them from Tulumba or ask for them in a nearby Turkish store if you don't live in Tukey.
How nutritious? Well I actually couldn't find scientific facts on the nutritional quality of specifically Can Erik, but plums (Prunus domestica) in general are low in calories, high in vitamin C, fiber (with the skin of course), and is a good source of vitamin A, K, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and potassium. They are also a good source of antioxidants which help prevent cancer and fight against anemia. The more ripe the more antioxidant. They shouldn't be eaten with current kidney or gallbladder problems because they are high in oxalate which can cause oxalate crystals related to kidney stones. There are 2000 varieties on this planet, mostly known as either Europe originating plums (originated near the Caspian Sea before the Romans) or Japanese originating plums (originated actually in China). They are relatives of the peach, nectarine and almond, and are considered "drupes," fruits that have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds. They come in a range of colors, best known for red, green, or purple plums.
When plums are dried, they are known as prunes, and when dried they are more concentrated in fiber which can be more effective in treating constipation (with a glass of water).
So, enjoy a bowl of plums now...and remember April is the season for Can Erik, and check out your nearest Turkish source!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Good and The Bad

"If he was a good person he wouldn't have lied and wouldn't have cheated. He's bad because he lied and wasn't honest. She was real nice, she behaved real good and handled the situation pretty well. It is difficult to understand why she is still thinking about such a bad, cold, and dark person. Maybe it's not him she's thinking about, she thought he was a good person as naive as she is because she is such a kind, loving good person herself. It is almost impossible for her to think badly of someone, although she knows there can be evil people. Or, there is something else effecting her, prompting her. In either case; She was mistaken. He is bad and evil."
My Story.
I was prompted to write about good and bad by one of my yoga teachers while thinking about what to write about. Then, I started to think- What is this good and bad? -and realized that not only me, but we all think of certain things, people, etc as good and bad every second of our lives. Such as...'what a bad tomato and how bad that guy was trying to sell me those awful tomatoes...or 'She gave me a big tip she must be a good person' or 'Oh, they got a divorce, oh no how awful!' etc...It also seems to me people have an inclination towards seeing or labeling things more in the 'Bad' category than the 'Good' which also bothers me. Why do we have to label something or someone as good or bad? Is there really such things as good and bad or is all just good or just bad? And could there be a reason why even Michael Jackson has a famous song singing "I'm Bad." (I love him and this song by the way) So, I have no idea what this all means yet.
But this book I just finished reading (and I love it) also made me think about good and bad.
" Takahashi: After I'd been to the court..and observed a few cases...I found myself less and less able to see these as other people's problems...They're a different kind of human being...Between the world they live in and the world I live in there's this thick, high wall...I'm a pacifist, a good-natured guy...As I sat in court, though, and listened...I became a lot less sure of myself...there really was no such thing as a wall separating their world from mine. Or if there was such a wall, it was probably a flimsy one...the second I leaned on it, I'd probably fall right through and end up on the other side. Or maybe it's that the other side has already managed to sneak its way inside of us, and we just haven't noticed..This system..'trial' thing began to take on the appearance of..a giant has this tremendously powerful life force..moving through the darkness of the ocean..nobody knows where its heart is... There was this case of arson and murder..the guy was sentenced to death..the obvious sentence...all of a sudden..everything got one step darker..colder..Why did I have to lose it like that just because that guy got the death penalty?..Between him and me, there shouldn't have been anything in common, no link at all..and yet, I had this deep emotional upset...What I want to say is...any single human being, no matter what kind of a person he or she may be, is all caught up in the tentacles of this animal like a giant octopus, and is getting sucked into the darkness. You can put any kind of spin on it you like, but you end up with the same unbearable spectacle."
Haruki Murakami - After Dark
After Dark (Vintage International)
At this moment, I'm inclined to think that yes there is good and bad and both good and bad is part of each individual person, situation, thing... Just like there is nothing Perfect. Or if there is we can't comprehend it. I have to admit, in the beginning of my journey of writing this I first thought no matter how bad it may seem, all is really good, (trying to think positively) but now I see that no matter how bad it is, there is also always good in it. In other words, this is all about accepting the little bits of good and little bits of bad crumbles on our path because my crumbles could seem like needles for someone else and theirs could seem like diamonds to me. I feel that these crumbles that on occasion could be perceived as good or on another occasion as bad, actually lead us the the unknown perhaps, but it is the way or the road we as individuals are supposed to be on. So, the good and bad in each person works for them, not to mention the percentage of good and bad probably varies all the time. A person with a certain percentage of good and bad may not always work for me or the good in me might not work for someone whereas the bad in me might work for that person...such and seems it is really just accepting everything as it is, with the good and bad in it, whatever percent they appear as, and decide if it works for you or not...But of course, this is all so ambiguous.
Later, this same yoga teacher noted: If we said good to something just because it says it's good, then there wouldn't be any bad (non-good) things left. If we were to say bad to something that says bad to something else, then there wouldn't be any good (non-bad) things left.
So there is no good nor bad! Noooo
Aaaaaa! All these notes, my story, part of Murakami's story and other stuff piling up in my head. And all this time the murderer from the movie Infamous is in my head. Is there any need for all these? I mean why and how can we be effected by such unexpected and unknown sources? I feel sadness and a bit of fear thinking I too have some bad as well as good just like each one of you. I don't know the percentages, but that varies I suppose. How and Why? These could be unnecessary questions. Isn't that the mystery of life...or is it a miracle? Think it's simply Gorgeous!
It is hard to explain, and this is all so confusing and maybe even silly to think about for some people. But confusion can be a good prompts us to pull back and to look within for a better perspective that give us peace of mind.
To find this peace of mind, I end with some beautiful words by Rumi;
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.

So, let us all meet There...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hello, I Just Called To Say I Love You...

...I just called to say how much I care...and I mean it from the bottom of my heart...yee
Oh I grew up listening to these kinds of songs and many French songs and very little Turkish songs. So, yes I'm weak in the Turkish music, but I'm learning more every day.
I'm going to try to write short because this month is really busy for me, but I didn't want to ignore my blog and my fans either.
So, This is a page from my diary:
July 12, 2011
Was difficult to wake up this morning because of an irregular sleeping pattern. But I still went up to the terrace to do my yoga and meditation as I promised myself. Anyway I did my standard supta padangustasana (leg stretches lying down) and a few Sun Salutations and then realized I have to limit the time for my meditation since I woke up later than I planned and had to leave by 11 to go to Acupuncture. Aaa how I had hoped for at least 30 minutes of meditation. I set my alarm to 20 minutes. Several things that passed my attention...oh how much I love my meditation practice..wonder where that empty bucket is, the one I have been feeling right in my diaphragm area, is it related to the 3rd chakra like she said..who was saying that...or is it the 4th chakra, the heart chakra, don't know, I haven't felt that odd bucket in past few days...I guess its my 15th day or something of meditation since my heart was broken and then I started feeling this odd empty bucket in me which seemed to be related to me crying during meditation...I still don't know what its all sadness today...oh wait maybe there is still some left..but without an urge to cry..I think I'm I'm good..of course I'm good..Life is too need to imagine things...oh I'm feeling some sensations in the 1st chakra area, around the genitals, hmm...what is this about...interesting..I love doing this, watching my thoughts..I love meditation.. Time's up!
Later..I'm on the ferry going to Acupuncture in Kadikoy as tears flow down my wind chilled and sunny cheeks I write this in Turkish and then in English:
I'm continuing to strip into more nakedness, taking off my layers as if peeling an onion. My thin, delicate and slippery layers are peeling, coming off one by one..and they bring wet pearls with them, flowing out of my eyes.. Wow how beautiful is Istanbul...Wow I'm in love with Istanbul...Wow! I can't believe this..just a month ago I hated this place....But just a sunny and blue ferry ride and some meditation is all I probably needed to fall in love with this city I'm going to be living in..Istanbul!
Daha da Soyunmaya devam ediyorum, bir soğanın kabukları gibi...ince, narin ve kaygan zarlarım soyuluyor birer birer ve her seferinde gözlerimden yaşlar, ıslak ıslak inciler akıyor...Vay be ben İstanbul'a aşık olmuşum, bir vapura binip mavi dalgaların serin serin sallanışı ve güneşin parlattığı manzarayı izlemek yetiyor galiba, ya da meditasyonlar eşliğinde aşk kıvamına geliyor...Vay ben artık İstanbul'da yaşıyorum!

I just wrote to say I love Uuuuuuu, Looove Liiiife, my Reconditioned Life...:)

I started with a song by Stevie Wonder and I'm ending with the song I was listening to on the ferry while writing, by Nouvelle Vague, O Pamela:
This is a page from my diary..the 15th of November..what happened that day I don't remember...but I do remember..I wrote this world..and then we read..slowly to myself without emotion..although the feelings changed the world is still all the same..I have no soul, I'm as cold as hand was shaking as I wrote this the door and let the rain pour in...O Pamela says oh look at the time...believe me that's the least thing on my mind...will you take a walk with me in the sunshine...before its too late...will you take a walk with me by the ocean...

Hehehe...Lay Lay Lom...Life is an Open Mystery...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Üstündekileri Çıkar ve Çıplak Ol!!!

Çıplak Olmak. Nedense, bu ara bu konuyu çok düşünür oldum ve sonra fark ettim ki çıplak olmayı seven, açık ve paylaşan bir arkadaşım var, hemde bunların ihtimalinin olmadığını sandığım ya da ümidimi yersiz yerlere koyduğum bir kültürde (genelleme yaparak tabiki yargılayan Türk toplumundan bahsediyorum). Sonra, yoga eğitmenlerimden biri, Mey Elbi, bu konu üzerine yazdı bloguna, ve ben kendimi başkalarıyla hatta o anda yeni tanıştığım insanlarla bu konuyu konuşur buldum (hani yabancı diyebilirim ama öylede içten bir konu konuşuyoruz ki:)) Derken, kendimi tutamayıp bende yazıyorum, bu ayın 3 Tutulması ve özellikle 15’indeki Dolunay/Ay Tutulmasının getirdiği olağanüstü tahrik edici enerjiyi hissederek.
Peki, nedemektir çıplak olmak? Kıyafetlerini çıkardığında, yani soyunduğunda kendini çıplak olarak düşünüyor musun, veya birine (arkadaşın olabilir) bir sır söylediğinde, veya birine utandırıcı birşeyler söylediğinde, ya da başkalarıyla nadiren paylaşdığın bir şeyi paylaştığında?
Valla, ben diyorum ki, çıplak olmak zaten bunların hepsi. Yani gerçek anlamda kıyafetlerini çıkarmak, ya da maskelerini, rollerini, davranışlarını, vs. çıkarmak da çıkarmak, soyunmak da soyunmak!!!
Ve bence bu harika bir şey:) Bi düşünsene nelerde giyiyoruz. Yani sadece kıyafet değil ki giydiklerimiz, bir de aslında istenmeyen, çirkin maskeler var suratımıza, vücudumuza, duruşumuza yapışmş olan, hatta belkide derinlerde, içerlerde sıkışmış olanlar da var, acıyan kaslar, ağrıyan kemikler gibi... Bazılarımız bunların farkında bile değil, o halde muhtemelen şu an hiç bir şey anlamıyorsun...ama okumaya devam ediyorsun:)

Bazı külürlerde pek de az kıyafet giyilir, muhtemelen bunlar kabile hayatlarında sınırlı. Üstelik bunlar genelde trans içinde şifa verici ve spiritüel tören veya etkinlikler de uygulayanlardır. Trans içinde, yani olağan sınırların çok ötesine geçerek. Gerçekten de bu törenler sırasında kendileri oldukları gibi; kendi aralarında ruhlarıyla ve evrendeki başka enerjilerle birleşiyorlar. Bu törenlerin bazısı içimizdeki gizli saklı travmaları ortaya çıkarabildiği için gerçekten de şifalandırıcı özellik taşıyor. Yoga, meditasyon ve hatta diğer terapilere (modern insanlar bu terapilere alternatif terapi diyorlar, mesela akupunktur, ayurveda, şamanism..) benziyorlar. Bir Kabile (Tribe) internetteki İngilizce sözlükten çevirmeyle şöyle açıklanıyor: Ortak soydan gelen bağları, ve gelenek, görenekleri ile birleşmiş, bir araya toplanan herhangi bir insan topluluğu; başka insanların olduğu bir bölüm. Biz, modern insanlar olarak bu kabile insanlarına çıplak oldukları için acayip diyoruz...öyle değil mi? Çünkü biz daha iyi biliriz, çünkü bizim araştırmalarımız, verilerimiz, tıbbi araçlarımız, silahlarımız, vs. var. Biz biliriz hayatın nasıl olması gerektiğini, ‘Normal’in ne olduğunu...
Ben artık böyle düşünmüyorum. Aslında daha öncesinde bile böyle düşünüyor muydum emin değilim, ama şimdi fark ediyorum ki bende çok giyinik bir şekilde yaşamışım, çok taşımışım, artık sadece kendim olmak istiyorum, Amerika’da yaşarken tanışıp sevdiğim, aşık olduğum kendim. Peki, bu kendilik niye Türkiye’ye taşınmaya karar vermiş, yani kendisi olmaya çalışırken kendini sanki aç kaplanların ortasındaymış gibi hissetiği bir ülkeye? Ya hiç sormayın, bu hala çok belirsiz:)

Artık, kendim olabileceğimi hissediyorum. Kaplanları o taraftaki bir bölgede oldukları güzel hayvanlar gibi kabullenebilirim ve onlarla sadece uzun mesafeli bir ilişkimiz olur. Ben, kendim, artık yoluma devam edebilirim; başka bir bölgede kendileri ile barışık olan, çıplak olan, benim cinsimden yeni arkadaşlar edinerek yakın ilişkileri olan bir topluluk (community) oluşturabilirim, tıpkı bir kabile misali. Topluluk internetteki İngilizce sözlükten çevirmeyle şöyle açıklanıyor (İngilizcedeki 'Community' kelimesinin karşılığı tam aynı olmasada bir Topluluk veya Çevre anlamlarına geliyor, çevre edinmek gibi): Ortak özellikler veya ilgiler paylaşan ve aynı zamanda kendisini içinde var bulunduğu  asıl toplumdan, halktan, ayrı gören sosyal ya da başka bir gurup.
Sanki bir kabileye benziyor değil mi? İstanbul’da tam da ihtiyacım olan buydu zaten. Mutlu Son!
Evet sonunda çıplak olmak, açık olmak, kendin olmak demek. Yani gerçekten kimsen o olmak, sadece sen, ve bunu sevsen de sevmesende kabullenmek,  istediğin gibi de paylaşmak. Başkalarının sana zorla istemediğin bir şeyleri giydirmesine izin vermemek. Bu aynı zamanda fiziksel çıplaklık anlamına da geliyor, yani insan olduğumuzu, güzel vücutlarımızın olduğunu, ten, duyular, ve duygularımızın oluğunu da kabul etmektir! Bu Senin vücudun ve zihnin, o halde bununla Sen ne istiyorsan onu yap. Sal Kendini, bırak akışa...Zaten o orda, zaten olman gerektiği gibisin. Eh! ne duruyorsun o zaman, ister hayal kur, ister çıplak güneşlen, ister seviş, ya da o hep istediğin yere git, veya daha önce kimseyle paylaşmadığın bir şeyi biriyle paylaş, veya daha önce hiç yapmadığın bir şey yap! Ya da basit bir biçimde hiç bir şey yapmayıp kendin için bir mola ver, kendini hissetmek için, çıplak olmak için:)
Sanki sadece Siyah ve Beyaz...Sanki sadece Beyaz Karın içine aktığı Berrak Su gibi...

Not: Çeviriyi yapan: Bendeniz K.  Medium Türkçe bilen ama İngilizceyi Süper bilen ben:)
Orijinal Yazım: Take Your Clothes Off and Be Naked!!!
Türkçe çeviride hatalar olabilir lütfen dikkate almayınız, daha öğreniyorum:)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Take Your Clothes Off and Be Naked!!!

Being Naked. For some reason, I have been thinking a lot about this concept lately, and then I realize I have a friend who is loving being naked, who is so open and sharing in a culture I thought was not possible to be like this or I might have misplaced my hope (in the judging Turkish society of course). Then one of my yoga teachers, Mey Elbi, wrote about it on her blog (in Turkish, Çıplak Olmak), and I found myself talking about this topic with others and even people I just meet (could be considered a stranger but then we talk about such an intimate topic:)) Then, I can't help myself but write about it, feeling the extraordinary exciting energy of this month, with 3 eclipses and the Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse coming on June 15.
So, what does being naked mean? Do you consider yourself naked if you take your clothes off, or when you tell someone (could be a friend) a secret, or tell them something that is embarrassing for you, or something you hardly share with others?
Well, I say, being naked is all of those things. In other words, it's literally taking your clothes off, or taking your masks, roles, acts, etc. off off off!
And I think it is a great thing:) Just think how much we are wearing. It's not just clothes we wear, but all those unwanted, ugly masks that are stuck to our faces, our body, our posture, even possibly tangled up inside, our aching muscles, sore bones... Some of us don't even realize these masks, and in that case maybe you have no idea what this is about...but keep reading:)
In some cultures there are hardly any clothing, possibly that is limited to mostly tribes in which also transcending healing and spiritual ceremonies or activities are practiced. They are truly being themselves, connecting their souls with each other and other energies in the universe during those ceremonies. Some of these ceremonies actually have healing power as they unravel hidden traumas. It's similar to yoga and meditation or even other therapies (modern people call these alternative therapies). A Tribe is described in the online dictionary as any aggregate of people united by ties of descent from a common ancestor, community of customs and traditions; a division of some other people. We, the modern people, call these tribal people weird because they are naked...don't we? Because we know better, because we have research, data, medical tools, weapons, etc. We know what life should be like, what 'Normal' is...
I don't think like this anymore. I'm not even sure if I did think like this before, but I'm realizing now that I've also lived with wearing too much, I want to be just who I am, who I met and loved while living in US. I grew into myself in US. And why did this self decide to move to Turkey where being herself, naked, is like jumping in the middle of hungry tigers? Don't ask me, that is still unclear:)
I feel now I can be myself, I can accept the tigers and let them be the beautiful animal they are on that side of the territory and just have a long-distance relationship with them. I, myself can move on to make friends who are themselves, naked, in a different territory, forming a community, and have a close relationship with my kind; in a tribal fashion. Community is described in the online dictionary as a social or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists. It seems to be similar to a tribe, don't you think? Just what I needed in Istanbul. Happy ending!
So, in the end, being naked is being open, being who you are. Who you really are, only you, and accepting this whether you like it or not, and sharing this in any way you feel like. Not allowing others to force you to wear anything that you don't want. It's also being physically naked and accepting that we are humans, we have beautiful bodies, the skin, the senses and we have feelings! It's Your body and mind, so do what You want with it. Let go of yourself, let if flow... It's already there, you are already happening the way you're supposed to. So, dream if you want, or sunbathe naked, or make love, or go to that place you've always wanted to go, or share something with someone that you've never shared before, or do something you've never done before! Or you may simply do nothing and take a break for yourself, to feel yourself, and be naked:)
Just like Black & White...Just like the White Snow melting into Clear Water...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Late Morning in Bodrum...

So, I woke up this late morning and instead of doing yoga I started reading a book in bed while birds provided me beautiful live music and I realized how much I've missed reading in bed in the morning...later mom calls and as we're talking.. I say "People have started to come to Bodrum, and I'm realizing its going to be really crowded here in the summer, I like it empty, calm and quiet..." and mom says " Well then maybe you should go to Iceland or maybe Montana was good for you with 3 horses and 2 humans"...and as I'm laughing I'm thinking Iceland isn't a bad idea:) Wasn't that what I wanted; calm, quiet and peaceful nature? Yes that is still what I want, and I thought it is impossible to have that in Istanbul, a city so overwhelming and dense as descibed in Defne Suman's book, but I'm also happy that I've been able to reduce the uncomfortable effect of the density or intensity in Istanbul. Of course this happened by doing yoga and meditation everyday, and later with the help of some new friends, Istanbul become a livable place for me, an option. Does this mean I've adjusted or maybe started to adjust to Turkey? No idea. But I'm thinking I still need to go back and forth from Bodrum and Istanbul...Then I'm not sure yet, could be Iceland...:) Well, later I did do my yoga and breakfast and now I'm writing as the refreshing rain is stopping and birds are starting to sing again as the sun starts to smile...:)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Meditation and Handstands

I am in love with meditation as much as I'm in love with practicing handstand these days. Never did I practice these on a daily basis, but it is a fun journey! These 2 practices used to be pretty difficult and a bit scary for me and I usually chose not to do them, but now I realize I was scared because I lacked the self-confidence and courage. Now that I'm actually learning the proper way to meditate and practice handstands I can't stop doing them every morning. Adho Mukha Vrksasana (downward facing tree), the Handstand is so fun:) OK, so every day I get my legs and hips straight up there somewhere, but then I gracefully fall back down. I can't stand upside down on my own and I don't like doing it with a wall because for some reason that scares me too, maybe I prefer the comfort of a person not a wall. So, this yoga pose is said to improve your sense of balance, calm the brain and it helps relieve stress as it provides you with energy. So, great to do it in the mornings, followed by a long and deep meditation, definitely reenergizes me. The common barrier is the fear of falling since humans normally don't stand upside down, but that's what makes it fun actually. Just watch some kids and you can see they love poses that seem absurd to adults because they have no fear and they love to play. Why can't we all do the same?.. For the adult body who is tangled up with stress (from simply living on this planet) you would need to be comfortable and correctly do Downward facing Dog and Plank poses as preparation for practicing Handstand...If you don't know what I'm talking about then don't even try this yet...Then when you're ready, from Downdog, as you inhale, step one foot closer to your hands (lets say the left foot) and allow your shoulders to stack right on top of your wrists, (similar to coming towards plank pose) gazing down somewhere between your hands, neck relaxed. Exhale and as you engage your core (the bandhas) straighten the other leg (the right) and flex the foot as you kick up. You may want to just kick up with that straight leg for a few times. Then, rest in Child's pose for a few breaths...and start again. This time as you kick up, bring the other leg along to stack your hips on top of your shoulders, and if you can stay like that great, if you fall or are afraid try it facing a wall or with someone holding you at the hips. Once upside down need to remember to keep the legs close and straight and the feet flexed...and keep doing this until you're tired, then rest in Child's pose before continuing your practice. By the way, flexing the foot is stretching your toes towards your head. Check out yoga journal for detailed info.
Funny that I actually was going to write about Meditation and how my life has improved with Meditation...I find myself writing about Handstands as well:)
So, I'm just in love. I can practice yoga and meditation all day and I'm just limiting it to my morning for about 3 hours of practice which is easier to do here in Bodrum. I had given myself homework about 2 months ago while I was in Istanbul to practice meditation every day and see what happens when I do it in the middle of chaotic Istanbul life. Well well worked so beautifully:) I couldn't manage a routine every day, but I did manage to practice meditation somewhere in the day whether it was 5 minutes or 15 minutes (tried harder to do it in the mornings as it sets my mood for the day). Even just a few minutes if I was in a rush would help me internalize and remember that everything that is important, everything that I need is inside, not outside. No need to get angry or hurry or judge, life will happen as it is supposed to. All the love and peace is already within me ever since I was conceived, it just takes a few minutes of closing your eyes and sitting silently without moving to remember this...Even if there is a traffic jam, mean guys yelling for no reason, kids screaming, impatience, unrespectful people, pain or confusion or a nice atmosphere around only takes a few minutes every day, just close your eyes and watch!
Well, after a month had passed I was so happy and thought yes I figured out this Meditation. Haha! Then my knee started to hurt again and became a limitation to my yoga and meditation practice. It became more painful to sit in meditation. I didn't want to go to yoga classes, I wanted to practice on my own. Then (just when I needed the motivation) we were advised to start our own practice during our yoga teacher training...oh how I missed practice for hours every morning on my own. So I tried harder to practice myself at home..and was going to Bodrum where I can easily practice on my own anyway. Before I left, one of our yoga teachers was giving a meditation course. So I went. He said it's common for people who don't know meditation to think that people who meditate have no pain, but they actually do and they are able to tolerate the pain. I was translating the teacher who spoke in English to a crowd of Turkish yogis and when I heard him say this I couldn't help myself and say "Really?" and in my mind I'm thinking, 'I had no idea. How did I think I knew meditation' and 'That must be why I didn't like meditation before because I didn't want to tolerate pain? Huh? But what about my knee pain, I thought pain in the knee meant the start of an injury?'. So, when you don't know and sit in meditation and feel pain you may quit or think you aren't able to do it. But my knee pain? He said if you feel like it's an injury then you may change your sitting position, otherwise you need to sit without moving for 30 minutes, eyes open gazing on the floor in front of you. Hmmm
Later, I continue to practice meditation every day. I start to think: Could there be some psychological pain? Maybe. I feel the pain. I accept it. I don't ignore it and I'm not pushing it away. But I want to understand it. I think I am ready for Family Constellation (Aile Dizimi) a meditative therapy method to help unravel difficult family entanglements. I realize there is some unfinished business in my family's life. I may have solved some of it while living abroad away from family, but it's not complete yet. I want to continue, I want to bring it out to the open!
And we'll see what happens next. I've come so far to accept life as it is with the help of Meditation. I also now feel I can actually live in Istanbul. I can see a community there too, and some work. Maybe Bodrum isn't my only option. Wow! Change never stops right...transformations never stops! That is the beauty of life. And even more beautiful is watching these changes with your eyes closed happy in your core:)
Thank you for reading, it was long but beautiful I hope:)
I finish with the words of one of my fave songs by Donna De Lory, Bathe in These Waters:
Lost. Criticized. Hard to reach, hard to find. You will rise, I'll watch you fly. You will time. Bathe in these waters..bathe in these waters..and wash it away...wash it away...
Far..far from grace..wearing the past..on your face. You will change. Nothing stays the same. You will find..your way. Just Bathe in these waters..bathe in these water...and wash it away...
Hara Hara MahaDeva Shambo..Sharanam...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Gold of the Incas

Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) a Super Whole Grain, was considered the gold of the Incas and is mostly grown in Peru and some other South American countries. Not only is it a rediscovered ancient whole grain, and the Mother of all Grains, it's one of the best protein choices for vegetarians because of its complete amino acid content meaning it is as close as you can get to the high protein quality of meat. Probably even better than soy protein since soy is highly genetically engineered nowadays, because it's very cheap to produce and easily fed (however unnaturally fed) to the excessive amount of animals that are brought up to supposedly feed the world! Anyway, by now you probably know how I feel about these genetically engineered foods and poisonous ways of growing food; I don't like it, so let's get back to Quinoa which is my favorite grain.
Once cooked quinoa has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and nutty flavor which I love. I mentioned it's high in protein, but it's also high in fiber, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and minerals such as manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. So, it's good for pretty much anyone, but especially for heart health, bowel issues and helps to control blood sugar levels as well as satiety. Quinoa grows on stalks with large seedheads that can be almost any color, from red, purple and orange to green, black or yellow. It's been designated a "super crop" by the United Nations, for its potential to feed the hungry poor of the world because it's drought resistant and NASA has proposed quinoa as an ideal food for long-duration space flights. Pretty cool I think!
Read more about Quinoa here.
The only problem with Quinoa is that you can't get it local, unless you live in South America, but still I think it's worth buying because of it's high nutrient content, especially if you're a vegetarian. You can find it in most Natural or Whole Food stores. I was told it's not found in Turkey and that I have to order it from Europe or US and so I have been asking friends who visit from outside of Turkey to bring me as much of Quinoa as possible:) But I found it in Istanbul, actually my brother found it in the store called Safran in Nisantasi, Istanbul. Yeeey! It's a great Natural Food Store I highly recommend you visit (Address: Valikonagi Caddesi, 58, Nisantasi, Istanbul). The quinoa they sell is not labeled as organic and they apperently import it from Russia who probably imports it from South America, so it comes a long way poluting the air. But, at least someone thought of importing such a wonderful grain that's not grown here, so I'm still happy with what I've found. So now I can cook it whenever I want or maybe I'll try to grow it here by sprouting:)
And here is my easy recipe you can use to try Quinoa. I added some Turkish words to clarify some meanings.
Quinoa with Veggies
Serving Size: 1.5 cup
Makes about 3 servings.
1 cup Quinoa
 2 cups water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 green bell pepper (2 tatlı biber)
1 red bell pepper (2 tatlı kırmızı biber)
1 cup of sliced mushrooms, any kind
1 cup of chopped zucchini (about 1 large zucchini)
4-5 strings of green onions or chives

1.      Wash and then cut up the vegetables into cubes, except for the mushrooms.
2.      Place the quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
3.      Reduce to simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed, for about 10-15 minutes.
4.      While the quinoa is cooking add the oil and chopped vegetables (except for the green onions) in a pan, cook at medium heat and stir the vegetables every 30 seconds or so until they become softer.
5.      Once the vegetables are cooked, add the chopped green onions and stir few times to cook all vegetables together.
6.      Once both the vegetables and quinoa are cooked add the vegetables in the pan with the quinoa and mix.
7.      You may choose to add a pinch of sea salt and/or black pepper to the dish, but I usually cook without them. So I suggest try it without salt and then add salt if you really need to.
8.      Serve warm. Enjoy!

Note: Best part of this recipe is that you can choose any kind of vegetable you like to mix with the quinoa, and you can really chop them up any way you like. You can either mix other vegetables with the ones I chose here or you can choose your own vegetables, such as eggplants, spinach or broccoli. Also you may choose to eat the vegetables raw, in that case, just chop them up and mix them with the cooked quinoa and wait until the dish cools down for a cold quinoa salad.
Images are from Google.
Let me know about your experiences with Quinoa. With Love. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Do You Need to Bottle Feed?

Another breastfeeding related online article of mine after the 'Why Six Months Exclusive Breastfeeding' article. Just click on the title and the website with the article should come up. Hope it's useful to some!

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Am From Venus!

Yep! Lately, I feel like I am from another planet, such as Venus, living in Istanbul on Earth. If I was coming from the planet Venus to inspect Earth, I would probably say this world sucks (pardon me), the living creatures here have no humanity although they call themselves human. Although, would it be easier to inspect this world and the creatures living on it as an outsider (as in someone from another planet) or insider (living within the community)? I consider myself as an outsider, foreigner living in a new community. I can't tel you where I'm from really, at least not one place, and I don't think I can call any place home anymore. This makes me so insecure about where I'm living now...dah!
But, guess what happened...I finally got myself to sit in silent meditation! (ok! it's been only 2 days in a row now, but it's been awhile since I did it). I had tried this before, maybe several times a year during a yoga class, in the beginning I hated it, was so painfully boring, and then after 6 years of yoga practice, my yoga teacher training required me to do that everyday for a month and somehow I loved it then and promised (huh?) myself I would keep doing it everyday, but of course I didn't do it once we got other assignments. But it has been always on my mind, "I have to meditate today or I have to do my own yoga practice at home today"'s not like I hadn't done it before, but my mind is so good at finding excuses and getting angry ever since I'm living in Istanbul.
I'm reading a book in Turkish called Mavi Orman (Blue Forest), by Defne Suman, a Shadow yoga teacher living in US and Turkey. And I'm thinking I'm so good at picking the book that exactly matches my mood and my needs at that time...this has been going on for about a year (cross my fingers!). I decided I love this book from the first page I read. Actually I love the title too! It's making me think a lot, reflect on myself and the changes in my life. I feel my yoga practice is supposed to be doing this to me, not this book, but maybe I needed the extra kick of inspiration from this book.
Actually just when I've been thinking..."I think I've learned everything I need about yoga" I am being bombarded with all these new concepts, techniques, ideas about yoga that I had no idea existed or for some reason I had been ignoring them for so long. Now I know the more I practice and the more I experience life, searching and learning never ends!
So, going back to my life in Istanbul being an alien from Venus.
I don't like what I have become while living in Istanbul with my parents. I don't feel like myself, it feels like all my self-work, from doing yoga and growing in US are gone to waste which feels like a nightmare coming true!!!
So, this is why I feel alien to a culture, house, people that supposedly I could say I'm part of, but I don't think I am really. Also, what's the point in forcing it so hard? Yes I know life is hard anywhere whatever you're doing, but I don't have the same desire to go on as I did when life was hard in US. Maybe it's the lack of a community, a safe place for me to feel welcomed and at home. I haven't found this in Istanbul, not with old friends or with my family and can't say much about new friends since it's too soon....but I have hope for Bodrum, I had the feeling of a community where I belong there, so Seriously! I just have to get settled there as soon as I can.
Anyway, I forgot to mention what happened after the meditations...I felt so comfortable, safe and at home while sitting in meditation, I felt it within me, I was IT, the safe home. And once it was over I was able to carry that feeling throughout the house and into majority of my day. Wow! This is amazing! Could I possibly do this everyday? Since, I have definitely decided to live in Bodrum and my time in Istanbul is temporary and we know the ecstasy mood after yoga and meditation is real easy to continue when you're not in a chaotic living space, Can I do this in a chaotic living space? or in other words, Could I meditate everyday in my chaotic life in Istanbul and hold on to the safe home ecstasy feeling right in the middle of chaos? I know I can do it in a full hot Baptiste style yoga class where the person literally next to me is dripping their sweat on me (and mine on them), so why not in a super crazy, smelly and crowded city like Istanbul when even living with my parents seems so crowded to me? This is going to be my homework to myself while I live in Istanbul! If I can do this then maybe I won't have to be so irritated and angry in Istanbul, I might learn something very important. Or maybe I am really from Venus and they're going to come back for me and save me from this planet:))
We'll see...I'll write to you from Venus:)
I love these words from a teacher, "Take a deep breath, and let the moment go." It makes it easier to end things when you don't want to end it but know that you have to.
Love to you all:)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Confusion or Confucius!

Again, it has been a long time since I wrote. My life trying to adjust to living in Turkey and blogs being banned kind of made me stay away from my blog. (I will try to transfer this blog to wordpress so look for me there too). But later I realized how much I missed writing, which is so therapeutic to me. And then I realized how confused I am with my life at the moment, which somehow made me think of Confucius and led me to search him and go deeper into my thoughts. Just remember I'm no expert in philosophy, just searching myself.
Confucius, Master Kong (551-479 BCE), according to Chinese tradition, was a thinker, social philosopher, political figure, and educator. His teachings, form the foundation of the Chinese education and comportment of the ideal man, how such an individual should live his live and interact with others, and the forms of society and government in which he should participate. All these things, (education, how to be an ideal person or what is an ideal person and how should they interact with others, in a society with a government) are exactly what is nauseating my mind right now, so no wonder why my mind went to seek Confucius. He believed that people live their lives within parameters firmly established by Heaven—which, often, for him means both a purposeful Supreme Being as well as ‘nature’ and its fixed cycles and patterns—he argues that men are responsible for their actions and especially for their treatment of others. We can do little or nothing to alter our fated span of existence but we determine what we accomplish and what we are remembered for. Huh!?
His philosophy largely revolves around the concept of ren, “compassion” or “loving others” which involved deprecating oneself. This meant being sure to avoid artful speech or an ingratiating manner that would create a false impression and lead to self-aggrandizement. So, those who have cultivated ren are “simple in manner and slow of speech.” This is demonstrated through the practice of the Golden Rule: “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others;” “Since you yourself desire standing then help others achieve it, since you yourself desire success then help others attain it.” Also, it's added that practicing rituals are important to express respect. Subjecting oneself to ritual does not, however, mean suppressing one's desires but instead learning how to reconcile one's own desires with the needs of one's family and community. So, it is by experiencing desires that we learn the value of social strictures that make an ordered society possible. Mmmm! Interesting! Could it be related to the yoga philosophy or am I just confusing my mind even more...

Ok! As I continue my yoga practice and yoga teacher training with an injured knee and confused mind, I feel upsetness dawning on me and my inability to find a word for my latest attitude is annoying. I'm getting frustrated with my life and this realization by itself is frustrating because I'm not sure I can just be an observer of my life and surroundings. Woaaah! I have no idea what this means, but this is how I feel. But then I found Confucius said: 'When anger rises, think of the consequences.' and 'When we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.' This helps me to relax. Turning inwards and examining ourselves is not so different than the yoga philosophy. And I'm forgetting that Hey! Life, our body, our mind changes constantly, it is impossible to control it. This is a scary statement for me and I can't believe I just said this but think about it; what have you been able to control? For how long? So, if we can't control anything what should we do, just observe life passing by? or observe it and participate in it? The Answer: I have no idea, lets just turn inwards and examine ourselves and this meditation will give us the answer. Again I have no idea, not yet. I'm trying to meditate and it's a wonderful feeling but I'm still confused!!! I guess this is the way it is:)

'Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.' said Confucius, and I usually like to think that following the heart is the way to go, which again seems to relate to the yoga philosophy and the energy of the heart chakra (center) where universal love and transformation may be found.
Funny, I didn't expect to be doing or thinking most of the things that I am doing and thinking right now which is also why I'm confused. I'm realizing ok yes I'm still in some transition or transformation trying to adjust to a new culture which seems close-minded and chaotic, and in this environment I'm trying to stay relaxed and focus on my own personal development, my future, my own feelings, my own yoga practice and my own ideas of the work I want to do so I can have a flexible schedule, which unexpectedly is taking up all my time and now I'm thinking...maybe a full-time job with a set schedule and steady income wasn't so bad. Another self-realization: I'm trying to adjust to a new culture (which I'm still not sure if it's a good idea, this Turkish culture), AND I'm trying to adjust to the life-style that I wanted; flexible hours with different work opportunities.
'Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star' says Master Kong. Oh, I can't imagine life without the moon or stars. The moon and the stars are part of my favorites in life, which by the way, tend to be ignored because we don't look up to the sky every night to feel the energy from up there. So, maybe it's about seeking, learning, looking inside ourselves and Love!

Alright! That's it! At the moment I'm so thankful to the internet, for my life and my ability to write and think...because I feel so relaxed and less confused now. Thank you for reading:)
'I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.' Master Kong

Sunday, March 6, 2011

DOUM - Birth

DOUM is a new center in Istanbul that provides Childbirth preparation courses, Doula services, Nutrition counsultations, Lactation Consultations and Prenatal yoga and pilates, baby yoga and Hatha yoga and more. I'm the Dietitan and Lactation Counselor and I'll provide some Hatha yoga classes. Don't worry you don't have to be pregnant to utilize the services, there are services for everyone, just check out the website. So, if you're around Istanbul, come and visit DOUM:)

No Comment!

Some sad news from Turkey: our goverment has blocked the public from entering blogs through blogspot so I can no longer update my beautifully done blog....maybe one day I can again. Please, if you don't live in Turkey, keep checking my blog so it doesn't vanish out of the internet. I will miss writing on my blog, so help me keep it alive while it's unavailable from Turkey. Let's hope that I can transfer to wordpress soon. You can also follow my group on facebook:
If this link doesn't work, search for Food. Mind. Body group on facebook.
Lots of love to y'all:)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Patience is Golden!!!

Dear Everyone, I have been so out of it, haven't felt like myself or in balance or 'normal' in any way all through the month of January. I spent most of January, one of the most important months of the year for me, being sick with some unknown cold/flu in bed. I stayed mostly at home in bed, even on my birthday I was at the doctor. I had no energy, not even to think and I was so desperate to try anything to heal myself as I had never been so sick like that. I had no idea what hit me, or how it hit me, but it felt like 50 trucks hit me and pasted me on to my bed. I couldn't do any yoga, I tried but didn't help much and because I had to go give up all the things I loved for several weeks and just sleep I was feeling worse and worse. (Even sleeping which I love was becoming too much but that was all I could do). So when it did pass, although many times I thought it wasn't going to, I was able to start thinking and planning again. It made me think, maybe I'm not as patient as I thought I was, or is this sickness part of my adaptation to the Turkish environment? because if it is I don't like it and why should I force my immune system and body through such torture? Finally once my head stopped hurting but I still didn't feel good enough to go out, I ended up watching TV (yes TV and its useless shows!!) and procrastinating and then did more of it. I haven't watched TV probably for at least 3 years, (I only watched rented movies) because I realized it's useless for me when I can spend more time in nature or reading, and there is the Internet anyway, and I had promised myself I won't watch it again, even if I'm in a house where others watch it all the time. And it was going well until I had to lock myself indoors and now I'm finding it's a difficult habit to cut. So, what's going on? I'm thinking this transformation/transition mode that I seem to be stuck in is getting boring. The worst may be that I've been thinking a lot more of how it isn't working out in Turkey, or maybe it's the city Istanbul with its chaos, it's making me miss Boston and my life, my freedom there so much that I have been seeing Boston in my dreams since the beginning of January. Oh! I said my freedom in US! Hmmm. Do I have to be in US to be free, or do I have to live on the top of a mountain isolated or do I find freedom within myself? One thing I know for sure is that my yoga practice (now with the help of my yoga teacher training) is helping me learn how to find these answers and solve the mysteries of life.
Anyway, as I still struggle with these thoughts and doubts about life in Turkey and life in general that feels like torturing my mind now, I received some wonderful inspiration from my yoga teacher Jenn Pici Falk from Boston/Cambridge. It was so well written and reminded me that I'm not alone and nor is any of you. We go through the troubles and struggles and the worst and the best of life together even if we are not aware of it at all seconds. I also want to thank all of my other friends who have tried to help me and send me positive vibes through this difficult time. But Jenn's message I couldn't let go, so I am including her words below. Maybe I should also note that she is pregnant, almost due:)

For most of you, it's not birth that you're storing energy for, but it's most likely something. On this Aquarius New Moon (and Chinese New Year), I send you all strength to liven up your life here in the middle of winter! Do something that will get you out of that rut. Try a new healthy food, try a new yoga class or teacher, treat yourself to a day of beauty or wellness, go to that music concert, read that book that you've always wanted to, or better that trip to the place you've always wanted to. It's that time of the year to step out of our personal boundaries and embark on something that will bring back your zest for life!
Something I've been seeing in the media and thinking about lately, is discovering what works for you, personally. This means in all areas of life. You see, it's not so much discussed about in our world how we should go ahead and do this. It's that everything is judged in the media and our society.
So, this got me thinking as to why people aren't talking about the fact that every person is on a path to their own lifestyle discoveries. On NPR, in the New York Times, on Oprah, on network television, (can you tell I've had more time on my hands?)...there are discussions about how you should eat, yoga rebels, relationship choices, political dilemmas (which are never compassionate), and everything else you can imagine. And most of the time, there is only one side of the story told or simply not enough information given for listeners or viewers to decipher a solid feeling about the topic. However, I seem to think that our society and our media continue to shape the way people DO think. And this is what troubles me.

The "Yoga Rebel" article came a couple Sunday's back in the Times about NYC teacher Tara Stiles. Apparently she leaves out any spirituality aspect of yoga and uses the practice as a main form of physical exercise and wellness. And her teaching has been getting attention because she's beautiful, fun, knows how to market herself, and is gaining in popularity. This article (among others published this year) brought some debatable discussions in the yoga community. Tara doesn't like to follow a specific "style" or branch of yoga. She plays pop music a lot. She's getting flack from "true yogis" in her approach. And then there was the On Point interview/discussion about the new book, Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses. The author is a middle-aged mother who discovered life lessons on the yoga mat, and wanted to talk about the pressures of motherhood in our society. As a mom-to-be, I already feel some of those pressures! That right there shows me more about our society. And even about the yoga community.
And yesterday's Oprah episode showed Oprah and her staffers trying a week-long Vegan challenge. Plus, Michael Pollan was on, and they showed a beef processing plant. It was an eye-opening episode for probably most of her viewers. I found it to be a bit fluffy (what can you expect from just an hour long Oprah episode?!), and the vegan expert they had on was not even a nutritionist and didn't really do a great job at discussing the proper way to cook really delicious whole food meals. Michael Pollan was way better and I just wish he would have spoke up more to America's people about the importance of shopping at Farmer's Markets for meat instead of the big chain stores, etc. (Perfect example of my own choice and opinion). In the end, at least Oprah enhanced the thought that everyone needs to be more conscious about their eating habits and do what is best for them, personally.
Which now brings me to my point. There is no "true yogi." There is no "right" way to eat. There is no "perfect" way to parent (or birth!). We are all on a path to find our own way. Yes, there are hard-core yogis. There are those who truly take the practice to another level and it's part of their every cell and being. But, there are also those that practice yoga at a gym after lifting weights, or running and they don't want to get any deeper into it than that. They might already have another outlet for spirituality. Some yoga teachers play kirtan music or no music at all. Some play Lady Gaga. And some are somewhere in between trying to find a nice balance in the midst of it all (that would be me). ;)
Of course there are better ways of eating for your health. But, who is to say that someone who is mindful of the meat they eat, and who eats whole veggies and grains as well, is any less than a vegetarian or vegan? And same goes with parenting. Of course there are pressures to buy acceptable toys, foods, clothes for your children and then also have time for yourself. But, who is to say that someone who uses cloth diapers, makes their own baby food, or home-schools their kids are any better than someone who doesn't?
These are all things I miss about teaching right now. Offering up the energy and discussion and awareness to people that it first comes from self-acceptance and discovering your own awareness before you can decide what, in our conglomeration of choices in this world, works best for YOU. So, keep on living day to day and practicing your yoga in whatever form, so that you can figure out your own sense of being. Find out more about something that you're interested in. Don't let the media do the thinking for you. Find out why you like and do the things you do, and then either keep doing them or make that change. We will fail many times and we will change our minds. The important thing is that we are doing it and we are understanding why we are making the decisions that we are.
Whew! Okay, now that I got that out there...
My pose recommendation of the month is to do any hip opener that you love. It's that time of year when we become super tight due to less activity, the coldness in our bones, and the stress. Get down into your favorite lunge, lizard pose, half pigeon, double pigeon, cow-face pose, thread the needle, frog, or anything that (once again) calls out to YOU.
Final note from EKC: Hip openers are my fave poses! So maybe you can try one and maybe you can consider watching less TV and or even stopping to watch it and find better, healthier ways to listen to yourself, what you really want to do. I know I will:)