Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture

I opened up my new issue of Yoga Journal this morning to find a fortuitously-timed article on baking and meditation. Lavinia Spalding writes about her entry into the world of bread-baking and how it drew her more deeply into her meditation practice:

"Always eager to incorporate more mindfulness into my daily life, I fancied the art of baking becoming a natural extension of my formal sitting practice. Even without having made bread before, I could easily intuit why people the world over regard the activity as meditation. Baking not only demands concentration and presence but also offers a bit of sanctuary. After all, who'd expect you to answer email, elbow deep in dough? Baking bread comes with its own "push, fold, turn, push, fold, turn" kneading mantra, and the undertaking itself - turning a sticky, formless gob of flour and water into a supple ball of dough - evokes the transformation of the mind from messy to manageable."

It's a sweet, almost poetic little rumination on the connections between body and breath, mind and spirit as found in the very embodied process of kneading bread, watching it rise, letting it rest in the "slow rises" and the "fundamental in-betweens" that are so necessary to making a loaf happen. Spalding goes on to quote several noted Zen priests and cookbook authors, who reiterate the intuitive connections between the breath and creating a product to which you can have little attachment to outcome, only patience and presence and good intentions.

A nice articulation of some of the thoughts I've been having these recent mornings spent elbow deep in bundts. The article's not yet online, so pick up a copy of the September issue at your nearest independent bookstore. Or just borrow mine.


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