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The Monkey and the Latkes

As an assignment in my YTT, for one week we were to keep a log of our daily activities and record whether they were energizing or an energy drain. This was a self-study of brahmacharya, or “right use of energy.”

“Entering this realm of more pervasive exploration, we must still bear in mind that anything in excess can cause distress and lack of focus. The remedy, however, is not repression, but rather a watchful and moderate engagement.” (Arguetty & Budreski. Nourishing the Teacher: Inquiries, Insights, and Contemplations on the Path of Yoga.)

This was an interesting and valuable study in the analysis as I learned several things:

*Activities I wanted to do were nearly always energizing, regardless of the actual energy expended during the activity. I guess it’s kind of like a car… as energy is expended while driving, the battery is also being charged. My personal alternator is working pretty well. I have a lot of energy!

*Activities I “have” to do are energy depleting regardless of the actual expenditure of energy of the activity. Hmmmm… why?

Resistance. (I’ll write more about that later.)

*Multitasking is an energy drain. I engage in multitasking when I lose focus on what I’m doing. Most of the time it’s because something “takes too long.”

It reminded me of a favorite movie reference. In Christmas Vacation, Clark’s boss, Frank Shirley, bellows into his phone to an off-screen assistant, “Get me someone! And get me someone while I’m waiting!” This is me, well not really me; this is Monkey Mind, who doesn’t wish to be still and wait.

What about the latkes? It all started on Thanksgiving, the ultimate day of “nonmoderation” of food (which only comes once a year, so technically it’s moderation in nonmoderation, right?). There were lots of leftover mashed potatoes… the good kind with real butter and cream cheese whipped into a fluffy oblivion. What to do? What do do? I know! Latkes! Potato pancakes! Except I didn’t know how. So, I Googled a recipe that made a dozen latkes and went to work. 10 minutes prep time. 10 minutes cook time. What I learned was latkes don’t cook as fast as regular pancakes… they take 3-5 minutes per side. In my opinion, as a non griddle owner, making them in a skillet, the recipe writer made a serious mathematical error. She forgot to multiply the cook time by the number of latkes. 90 minutes later I was done (apparently my latkes were more generously sized). The cook time for each side, was more than I could mindfully attend to and I found myself multitasking in a major way: eating lunch standing at the counter (the first few latkes), unloading and loading the dishwasher, cleaning the kitchen, taking the trash outdoors, checking Facebook, etc.) This was while monitoring the cook time and condition of the latkes in the skillet mostly effectively, with a few panicked returns, running to the skillet to flip them in time.

About 7 latkes in, I realized I was engaging in the energy zapping multitasking and decided to be mindful with the cooking process. I tried to interest Monkey Mind in watching as the potato mixture slowly bubbled and eventually gained enough stability on the bottom side to allow the spatula to gently slide under the pancake and balance the deliciousness just before releasing into a perfect 180 flip and landing evenly on the opposite side to finish browning. Ahhhhhh….

Well, if you are expecting this story to end with an epiphany about focus and mind control, you are going to be disappointed. What I learned was, I am not there yet. Even, when patiently trying to engage Monkey Mind with curiosity and wonder, I was fighting distraction and wander.

But, no latkes were harmed in the making of this story. Well, except the first one, but everyone knows that when making pancakes, the first one is the “sacrifice pancake.” Not so beautiful to look at, but it was still tasty.


Is this your first time on my blog? Click the photo to read my intro post!

Published by retiredgirlbeautifulworld

Admirer of beauty. Seeker of fun. Lover of outdoors. Driver of convertibles. Educator. Writer. Editor. Photographer. Runner. Yogi. Hiker. Paddler. Dancer. Adventurer. Observer.

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