Krishna Das and Ram Dass asked their wise Indian guru Maharaji how to awaken the kundalini. He responded, “Feed people.”. When I heard this my thoughts shifted to me as young girl with my mother in the kitchen. “Stir. Stir. Keep stirring or it will get lumpy.”, my mom would say while she motioned the proper stirring technique with her arm. Eager to learn and happy to be around her, I was a humble and devoted assistant.
My mother did not chant Om Namah Shivaya, but she prayed the rosary often. She did not formally meditate, although I watched her travel to different space when sitting peacefully in the sun in our backyard. And the beautiful yellow in her eyes warmed all around her. She did not read Tich Nhat Hahn’s books about mindfulness or Dalai Lama’s “The Art of Happiness”, however the bible sat on our coffee table next to the Redbook magazine and she did not miss a detail of anyone’s life. She knew what was important to each person and when you were in her presence your heart felt a deep sense of love and peace. And my mom certainly did not practice bound bird of paradise. Her heart was already soaring and she preferred simple walks in nature as a form of exercise. I was not raised vegetarian, but our meals always included two vegetables that often were grown in our garden. “Mare, head out to the garden and pick a bunch of lettuce, a few zucchini flowers, and two big handfuls of green beans.” she would say. I would grab a paper bag, stroll to the garden to collect the veggies and then find my myself sitting at the table cutting the ends off of the beans and snapping them in half as she taught me. My maternal and paternal grandparents loved to cook large meals for their family and friends. They were serious chefs in their own right and passed the torch to my parents. From what I could see, my parents enjoyed it just as much. Childhood memories included family gatherings with my moms 5 siblings and all of my cousins. There was music, laughter, commotion and plenty of food. When my Dad was in Navy, the captains got news that he could a mean sauce, took him out of battle duty and assigned him as their personal chef. Except for the liver that my brothers and I would hide under the seat cushions, we were grateful for the nurturing meals my parents prepared and for the time eating together as a family. My Italian upbringing naturally related food and love and I have come to enjoy cooking traditional dishes, and creating new ones for my family and friends. I am committed to sharing this passion with my children and know that the family recipes they enjoy will warmly connect them to tradition and family.
A few days ago, I asked my 2 sons if they wanted to help make meatballs. They jumped at the opportunity to learn something new and get their hands dirty in the kitchen. I told them that preparing food for others is a way to care for them. And then I told them that there are two rules before entering the kitchen to prepare food 1) they have to be happy 2) their hands must be clean. They beamed with joy and raced to the bathroom. In a heartbeat they were back in the kitchen with clean hands. Next we followed Grandma’s meatball recipe instructions. I gently guided and my sons performed the steps. Alex carefully cracked the eggs into the meat making sure no shells followed. Michael measured and added the right amount of secret seasoning and breadcrumbs. Alex added the Parmesan cheese. “A little more Alex.” I encouraged. Now it was time to mix the meat. Their hands rushed into the bowl. “Enter gently”, I said. “Never rush or over mix. If you rush or over mix the meat or anything else in life for that matter, it can become tough.” They listened, and seemed to get the deeper message. Their small hands mixed with great care and rolled the perfect size meatballs. “Great job boys. Now off to wash your hands.”. That evening, they proudly served their love balls atop a nest of spaghetti.
This holiday season, invoke your own kundalini and enjoy feeding and dining with loved ones.
Mary is a native New Yorker and grew up on Long Islands peaceful east end. Her love for dance and interest in health and healing lead her to the fitness industry at the age of 15 where she began teaching classes and studying the body working at physical therapy practices and hospitals. She continued her journey and moved to NYC in 1993 to complete her masters in occupational therapy and postmasters in gerontology. She is a nationally licensed Occupational Therapist with specialties in physical dysfunction and sensory integration and a certified Gerontologist with a specialty in trauma recovery. Mary is the owner of a private occupational therapy practice, NYC Pediatric OT, since 2003, treating patients privately with physical dysfunction injuries and sensory disorders.