Spread the Love: Metta Edition

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My second attendance at Buddhism club consisted of a 20 minute reflection, discussion about Metta, then a 40 minute guided reflection.  The first definition we received of Metta was love and kindness, but we went on to dig deeper.  Metta is the idea that as humans, we crave connectedness to each other.  Metta is the ability to feel empathy for another person.  It is an attitude rather than something you feel.  It is being friendly and showing others compassion.  When there is no Metta, one feels ill will towards another person or is selfish.  We should do our best to dissolve these feelings to make room for Metta.

A cool idea my facilitator brought up was that we do not have to fight negative feelings like ill will or our selfish needs, but merely let them go.  It doesn’t have to be a war within you, where good is always fighting the bad.  Innately humans want to be good, sometimes bad vibes just creep into our minds.  Try to dissolve the negative feelings and thoughts.  Don’t hold on to them and let them fester.  Let Metta fill you up!

I have an anecdote that I think many can relate to that will help illustrate this idea.

Last week, I was sitting in a dining hall after finishing my breakfast, trying to get some last minute reading done before my next class.  Next to me, a girl sat talking to her dad on the phone.  She was complaining about a bad grade she had received.  At first I tried to ignore the conversation, but found myself getting annoyed at her anger and frustrations.

She was overreacting.  Her negative vibes were impending on my good ones.  It was just one grade.  Couldn’t she see that it didn’t really matter?

But then she proceeded to get even more worked up and started crying towards the end of their conversation.  I felt badly and started to think that maybe I didn’t know the whole story. She could be having a really bad week.  There was something that I did not know.  I was judging her from one conversation.  I was not in her shoes.

I thought back to the previous week, when I learned to center my thoughts with good intentions vs biased judgments, and I was doing the latter…  So, after she hung up the phone, I made sure I wasn’t intruding, and asked if everything was ok.  The obnoxious girl before my eyes transformed into a warm friendly person, and immediately said thank you, and that she knew she was getting worked up over nothing, but sometimes schoolwork just got to her.  It was such a visible transformation and it really helped explain the idea of Metta to me.  The annoying object that I had labeled was actually just another girl, like me, who sometimes overanalyzes the little things in life that don’t really matter.  By letting go of my preconceived judgments, I allowed compassion in, to put myself in her shoes.  For that small moment in time, us two strangers were connected by Metta.

When you reach out to others and show them compassion, you are acknowledging their worth, and their story as an individual.  That is Metta.  When you degrade them and label them as “obnoxious, annoying, or overreacting” you are not giving their person any value and do not give them a chance to tell their story.  That is not Metta.

Just like anyone else, I struggle with managing frustration when people or things don’t go my way.  But, by recognizing this, we can work at bettering our reactions.

So, the next time a stranger, friend, or loved one gets under your skin, try to dissolve the negative feelings you have towards them, and step in their shoes.  A biased judgment, perspective, or stereotype is not necessarily untruthful, but it just doesn’t tell the whole truth.  It also allows you to be a little bit more connected and receptive to whatever comes your way 🙂

 

 

Don’t Be Blue: Food Edition

Pizza.  A hot, cheesy, saturated, carbo loaded, all American meal.  An easy crowd pleaser, it shows up at birthday parties, casual gatherings, meetings, and early mornings after a night out.  While I am all in support of a $5 cheese pie at Comellas, we are here today to talk about the finer things in life: Pizza with prosciutto, fig, and blue cheese to be exact.

Over the past several months I have sampled three varieties of this pizza to show you its whereabouts in Boston because it is one of my favorite combinations.  We will take a look at Locale in the North End, Figs in Beacon Hill, and Teatro in the Theatre District.

Locale 

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Out of all three restaurants this was my favorite.  The pizza was called Parma Due and had Prosciutto, Arugula, Mission Figs, and Gorgonzola.  The crust was thick enough to support all of the ingredients, while still being thin enough to keep a good dough to topping ratio.  None of the ingredients overpowered each other, while allowed the flavor combinations to meld well.  The prosciutto had a salty bite, the blue cheese added a funky rich note, the figs a sweet punch, and the arugula brought freshness to the dish.  However, what really set this pizza apart was the bottle of balsamic glaze the waitress brought to the table to drizzle on top.  Reduced balsamic vinegar brings a deeply sweet, slightly acidic flavor, which balanced the rich blue cheese very well.

Figs 

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Pardon me for the less than stellar picture quality, but the lighting in Figs made it difficult, and I remember being very hungry, so my patience was not at its highest level.  Figs had a much thinner crust than Locale, and the fig and blue cheese were almost combined together like a spread before the pizza was baked off.  This pizza did not have any balsamic reduction to top it off, but the flavor profiles of the prosciutto, blue cheese, and fig were spot on.  Fig’s atmosphere was also the best out of all three restaurants.  Located on Charles St. our party was seated looking outside of a beautiful window, greeted with old brick buildings, Christmas lights, and people passing by.  Figs’ small size creates a very romantic and intimate feel, but also makes it hard to get a table, so make sure that you get there early.

Teatro

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Lastly comes Teatro’s pizza, but don’t get me wrong it was still a stellar pie!  The presentation of this pizza was probably my favorite, and when it came to the table it really looked like a work of art.  The reason this was my lowest ranking was because the blue cheese flavor was not that strong and was lost among the salty prosciutto and sticky fig jam.  The blue cheese was actually labeled Gorgonzola Crema on the menu, which may explain the diluted flavor since it was transformed into more of a sauce.  As a side note you must order the parmesan truffle fries at Teatro.  To die for.

I hope you try all of these wonderful spots in Boston and let me know where your favorite pizza places are!

Me, Myself, and I: Social Edition

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I wake up and expect to have a couple of text messages leftover from the night before.  2-4 is a generally a nice number.  Before I even get out of bed, I check my email, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.  I have 1,005 friends on Facebook.  My college email account is linked to the 10,000 other undergraduate students, let alone professors, graduate students, and people outside of the college network.  My Snapchat has around 100 people.  Some of them I have not seen in years.  Some of them go to my college, but I never see or talk to.  I have multiple Instagram accounts, that link me to another huge database of people.  This means before I have even nodded hello at my roommates, I have check four social media avenues where I theoretically am linked up with thousands or millions of people.

I am so connected.  I am surrounded by people.  I should never be alone.

But what does this really mean?

I think this hyper connectedness encourages people to be connected all the time.  People are supposed to be with other people, whether this in person, or via social media.  You are NEVER supposed to be alone.  You should be extroverted and introversion is frowned upon.

At college, not only am I very involved in social media, but I am also constantly surrounded by people.  After I leave my dorm I move from food gatherings, to class, to extracurriculars, to parties, to adventures, to yoga class, etc.  Even my home is 1 room with my 4 wonderful roommates.  I am never alone.  When I describe my alone time to people, it is usually at yoga, where I am actually in a room with 30 other students, but since it is quiet, I perceive it as such.

While I am so grateful for the chance to study at college, and have had so many life adventures and deep conversations with people here, I also have realized throughout this year that I need alone time.  I can be alone with myself and actually enjoy it!

I love to take long walks, read in a cafe, or go on a run.  I love cooking by myself, listening to country music on my bed, going into Boston to study at the public library, or people watching outside.  I love my own check ins, without the constant surge of social media and other people’s input.  Yet, at college I tell myself I don’t have time for those things, since there are so many wonderful people here, and I have difficulty setting time away for myself.  If someone wants to get lunch with me, how do I justify saying no?

However, this year I’m going to try and add alone time to my life.  Maybe it is only once a week, but that’s more than I usually do!  Instead of eating with someone during all 21 meals of the week, maybe I’ll bump it down to 20.  Instead of constantly checking my phone for updates and news, I can turn it off for the last couple of hours before I go to bed.  When I step away from the hyper connectedness, I am able to feel how I am actually doing.  By becoming more at tune with myself, I can better fit in my world of others.  Maybe this will even add more energy and enthusiasm to my check-ins with other people because I am rested and not overwhelmed by the constant go, go, go.  It’s funny because although I definitely come across as an extrovert, I know my introverted self needs attention too.

Think about the ways in which you are connected with others and whether they drain or nourish you.  Then try to incorporate more fulfilling time with yourself, and those you care about!

Also, I will completely acknowledge the irony that I am writing about disconnecting myself, while proceeding to share this article to my blog followers and friends 🙂

 

The Big Three: Allston Edition

How is it that one street in Allston can have three of my favorite finds?  Sheer wonderful goodness I guess.  Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, Whole Heart Provisions, and FoMu are lined up perfectly next to each other, making it very easy to have a food fest choosing items from all three.  I’m going to give you the lay down of what to order at each place.

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I’ve already written about Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, but will reiterate the general themes I touched on before.  The french fries are a definite order here.  Crispy on the outside, with a  light and fluffy inside you MUST order these.  You can have them truffled up or even make them poutine style, which adds on a slathering of gravy and cheese curds.  Lastly, since you are going out, don’t just order their classic grilled cheese sandwich, which I am sure is amazing, but order something a little more out there.  AKA their Allston.  When in Rome, right?  It is composed of the sweetest gooiest fig jam, tangy herbed goat cheese, decadent caramelized onions, and fresh arugula.

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Next door, Whole Heart Provisions appears to be only for vegan connoisseurs, but trust me it is not for the faint of heart.  Load up your salad with added falafel, avocado, or miso BBQ tofu, and you will walk away feeling full and nourished.  I always order the Viet because of the wonderful peanut dressing and crumble on top, but any of the salad combinations look divine.  Grab a side of the Crispy Old Bay Brussels which will leave your senses feeling fired from the Old Bay seasoning, lemon, and spicy crema.

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Lastly, need to cool down your mouth after the fiery brussel sprouts?  Never fear, this is when you MUST head over to FoMu.  Another vegan find, FoMu makes their ice cream from coconut or nut based milk.  Genius I know.  I am in love with all of their peanut ice cream, AKA the peanut addiction again, whether they add in fudge swirls, chips, or brownie pieces.  But, my favorite desserts are actually their baked goods.  Grab one of their humungous nutter butters and/or 7 layer bars and you will be blissfully content for the rest of the day!

Make sure to check out all of these wonderful finds, and if you are coming from BC, simply get off the B Line at Allston St. then walk around 10 minutes to heaven.

 

The Little Things: Karma Edition

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Last night I went to Buddhism Club for the first time.  I was intrigued because I love meditation at the end of yoga, have learned snippets about Buddhism through theology classes, and have a couple of friends involved in the club.  We started off with a 30 minute meditation centered around feeling our bodies, breath, and releasing the negative energy or tension built up inside us.  Then our facilitator led a discussion about Karma.  He asked us what Karma was and many of our interpretations came from pop culture.  We phrased it as the law that will “bite you in the butt” if you don’t do “good” things.  But in Buddhism, Karma has a much deeper meaning than this.  Karma literally translates into action driven by intention.  These actions are physical actions you take, but also mental actions, such as thoughts or judgments.  Any action you take will lead to good or bad results, also known as karmic fruit.  The takeaway I got from the discussion, is that every single intention you have, has the possibility to make a positive or negative difference in your future or the world has a whole.  Every door you hold open, every friendly smile you give to a passerby,  will add more “good” karmic fruit to the world.  This is such a wonderful idea because it demonstrates the amount of power we have as humans to make the world a better place.  I think it also gives us added responsibility, since we need to think more about our intentions before we take action.  We are responsible for the type of karmic fruit we bring into the world, so by paying more attention to the ways in which we do this, we can focus on giving more positive energy than negative.  We ended the night by setting goals on how we are going have better intentions this week.  Think about ways you can send love to your parents, kindness to your friends, or even respect to yourself, so there is more good karmic fruit out there!  Lastly as a side note, by creating positive karmic fruit, this does not in turn help you in any way.  Karma is not about doing good so you are rewarded.  It is about doing good because it is good.

 

Cook

Cook in Newton, is a modern American restaurant with a really fun atmosphere.  It’s menu is classic fare dressed up, but it is casual enough so diners feel comfortable.  It serves dinner, lunch, and brunch on the weekends.  I’ve been to dinner a couple of times, and brunch after my half marathon this past fall.  My most recent visit was dinner on a Thursday night, and the place was hopping.  They take reservations so I suggest calling ahead, especially if you have a larger party.

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I ordered the Fattoush Salad with added salmon, and it was delicious.  The salad consisted of spinach, cucumber, tomato, olives, feta, pita chips, and a sumac vinaigrette.  The olives and feta both added a briny element to contrast the cool cucumber and tomatoes, and the pita chips provided a necessary crunch.  The salmon was cooked perfectly at medium rare, and flaked apart when I cut into it.  As a side note, the truffle fries are a definite must.  Cook has a whole section of “Snacks” that are perfect to order and share with the table.

Lastly, for dessert I had the cheesecake bites.  Two frozen squares of cheesecake were enrobed in a chocolate shell with a chocolate chip cookie crust.  The cheesecake was very light, and did not have that strong of a flavor, which made it almost taste like ice cream.

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Cook is a wonderful place to go to with friends.  Not only is the food delicious, but the menu is also expansive, so everyone will find something to order.  The environment is energetic and vibrant, and the staff are welcoming from the start.  Definitely give it a go.