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MUSIC, YOGA & BOOZE: What’s Inside the Cluster?

Is there a remedy for strange days, when is silence loud and does bubblegum go with wine?

John William Waterhouse

Music

Strange Days

Have you ever felt like your parents didn’t prepare you well enough for all of the bullshit?

Not that they or anyone can, but damn if it’s not frustrating.

Whatever your beliefs, these days we’re living through are strange the world over, and with technology enabling us to know of every issue, conundrum or catastrophe in any given moment, it’s no wonder we’re overwhelmed.

There are many songs embodying this kind of exasperation, here is one of my favorites. What’s yours?

 

John Lennon’s Nobody Told Me

I first remember hearing this song as a teenager, questioning the status quo and frustrated by the lack of inspiration in my elders. They’d lived through the hippie era, they’d tried to make a change, they knew the struggle and (I guess) were over it. I wasn’t. And John Lennon spoke my own frustrations through his music.

Everybody’s talking and no one says a word
Everybody’s making love and no one really cares
There’s Nazis in the bathroom just below the stairs

Always something happening and nothing going on
There’s always something cooking and nothing in the pot
They’re starving back in China so finish what you got

 

It’s chilling how pertinent these lyrics are again today. Extremism is running rampant, wars seem endless, people are starving and equality is continuously at stake.

These songs and stories, our history ancient and recent, serve to give us endless examples of the same struggles we face today. Through them, we can better prepare for and cope with all of the bullshit and maybe even make a change ourselves.

What I love about this song is that it doesn’t try to offer answers, it doesn’t even lend a figurative shoulder to cry upon, it simply states the truth. And sometimes, that’s enough.


Yoga

Maxfield Parrish

Room for Silence

How loud is your silence?

There have been times in my life when illness has taken my voice. This week it’s happened again and, as always, it’s forced me to listen to my own silence.

Sometimes silence can be loud

The temptation is to fill the silence with things: films, music, podcasts, reading — even reading is loud inside your imagination… but it’s also a good practice to listen to the silence, without the distractions.

There was a time at university when my voice disappeared without illness or warning for about two weeks, and I became very adept at listening. Just as hearing heightens with the blind, it works the same for the mute. What was fascinating was how much people assumed and misinterpreted whenever I attempted to communicate. I bonded with one of my best friends to this day because she was one of the only people to actually listen.

It became a kind of experiment: instead of writing down all I wanted to say, I decided that unless it was urgent, I wouldn’t say anything. That’s not to say I became passive, but if my space for allowance was originally the width of my body, it broadened to fill the room. I made more room for other people. Inadvertently, I became more generous. Because of this, an interesting thing happened:

In my silence, I was heard

At a school meeting, discussing the trajectory of our year, I had a point I wanted to make. At this state, I could speak in a raspy whisper, strong as a down feather. The whole school year and head faculty, about 85 of us, collectively held their breath to listen. Because they all knew of my condition and because my condition had forced me to be succinct and only whisper if truly needed, I never felt more heard in my life. My silence made me loud.

Instead of just writing off my idea among the sea of voices, they mulled over it in discussion. I don’t even remember what we were discussing or if they sided with me, but none of that matters. I was heard, considered and respected in a profound way.

Drunk with the power of that, I haven’t spoken for years! (That’s not true) But I have since valued silence with far more gratitude.

 

Yoga Challenge: This week, your challenge is to make your silence loud through listening

 

Next time you find yourself in grouped company, instead of speaking as much as you normally do, listen instead. Don’t be creepy about it, gauge the room. But when people are conversing, really listen to them instead of planning what you’ll say next.

 

  • Maintain a mindful breath throughout
  • In a state of allowance, observe the people around you
  • Really listen to what they’re saying and not saying, in their words and body language
  • Instead of driving the conversation to you, ask questions to actively listen to and learn more about them
  • Let this be an exercise in generosity: listening with your heart and giving them more room to be themselves with complete allowance
  • Ask yourself how can I give them more space to be who they are? How can I listen to them even more generously?

We get so wrapped up inside our own minds, waiting with baited breath to jump in with our own story, to share our own perspective and tell our own truths. Making room for others to speak and share can release the need inside of us to be right. Since we are more generous when we feel listened to, the louder your silence, the more you can hear and be heard.

It’s possible to make more room for others by using silence to truly listen


Booze

image by Wine Folly

B is for Beaujolais

When does bubblegum go with wine?

It’s better to spit out your gum before sipping, but if you’re a die hard chewer, grab a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau (the freshest batch of this French, dry wine) and see if you can detect the subtle notes of candy shop gum.

Fresh, lively and light, most Beaujolais is designed to be enjoyed while young. Named for the province of its birth located at the southern tip of Burgundy, France, Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape using a unique fermentation process called Carbonic Maceration. This process distinguishes this wine from any other, and gives it the oh-so-unusual hint of bubblegum and banana. Here’s how:

Annabelle Sing at Decanter
  • Gamay grapes are hand-picked from the vine in whole clusters
  • Grape clusters are put in covered, steel vats to undergo carbonic maceration
  • The grapes clusters on the bottom are crushed by the weight of the grapes on top and the trapped carbon dioxide and lack of oxygen create an anaerobic environment for fermentation with natural yeasts found on the grape skins
  • Within the whole berries, intracellular fermentation occurs, ie: fermentation takes place inside of the grape, which eventually explodes!
  • After 4–8 days, most of the juice is racked off (free run) and the rest is pressed to separate the juice from the skins
  • The juice is then combined to finish the fermentation process, which is known for being quick. Much Beaujolais is designed to be drunk less than a year after harvest

You can often tell if a wine has undergone carbonic maceration due to the kid-in-a-candy-store flashback. Along with the notes of bright berries and violets, a Bazooka Joe comic should accompany this young wine.

Tasting Notes:

  • Raspberry
  • Cranberry
  • Banana
  • Bubblegum
  • Violets

 

The 3 Classifications of Beaujolais wine:

 

Beaujolais AOP: lighter and more vibrant table wine, raspeberry red in color, with bright acidity and low tannin

Beaujolais Villages AOP: village wine with more depth of flavor and color, and more notes of minerality and black current

Cru Beaujolais: varied terroir (aspect, soil, climate) give greater depth and nuance to these wines, generally adding more earthy notes and the ability to age. There are 10 Cru in the region

 

Expect to pay about $12 for an AOP, and the really good stuff doesn’t break the bank either: $20-$25 for a Cru from Morgon or Fleurie.

Beaujolais is dry, vibrant, low in tannin and alcohol (10–13%) which make it incredibly smooth and easy to drink. Best served slightly chilled, the cranberry notes go deliciously with roast turkey or pork chops. And if you actually go there, the Beaujolais province is located close to Lyon, the capital of French Gastronomy — add it to your bucket list!

 

Beaujolais, France | photo on winerist

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