Not feeling good? Let’s change that

February 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

Just in case we didn’t know, scientists have proof now that listening to music that inspires us has wellness benefits. It will be redundant to post that article, but just click on the cool Nina’s picture to listen to science in action.

Nina Simone’s Feeling Good.

So God Made A Farmer

February 5, 2013 § 2 Comments

I actually didn’t see this commercial during the Super Bowl, I must have been too busy watching Miss BEY during the Half Time Show.  But when I saw the commercial in a blog about the power of religious language, it stopped me on my cyber-tracks. Where do we place value in our society?  Who do we identify with success and  who are our idols?  Bravo,  Mr. Paul Harvey, bravo, to the photographers, and bravo to the producers and creators of this TV Commercial.

Here are the words:

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say,’Maybe next year,’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse with hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, during planting time and harvest season will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, put in another 72 hours.” So God made the farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to yean lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the leg of a meadowlark.”

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, and brake, and disk, and plow, and plant, and tie the fleece and strain the milk, . Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his son says that he wants to spend his life doing what Dad does. “So God made a farmer.”

Spread Your Wings; enjoy your day

January 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

Flying birds

In all my studies of anatomy, philosophy, design and yoga there is the common thread of observing nature’s pulsation.  This idea of contraction and expansion permeates our surroundings, our bodies, our minds and spirits.  When we are able to tab, connect, ride, touch or pulsate with the overarching pulsation of God, then we experience an authentic life that moves us closer to the sweetest experience of life itself.  I found this poem by Rumi, which evokes beautifully what all great teachers are trying to cultivate in us.

Birdwings by Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
if it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
and expanding,
The two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.

 

Words of Wisdom for Hope and for Moving Forward

December 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

HKG2005011836125My heart felt condolences to all the families and the victims of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.  Our hearts are broken.

Not that long ago, I was listening to On Being’s radio show about the mindfulness of anger, the talk was offered by  Buddhist Master, Thich Hhat Hanh and in times like this when our own thoughts can’t possible offer an explanation, we must turn to the wiser ones,  the stronger ones, knowing that in our hearts those qualities abide too.

 I found light in this passage from the Buddhist master, I hope you do too.  It is particularly poignant:

“…there is a seed of anger in every one of us. There are many kinds of seeds that lie deep in our consciousness, a seed of anger, a seed of violence, a seed of fear, a seed of jealousy, a seed of full despair, a seed of miscommunication, a seed of hate. They’re all there and, when they sleep, we are okay. But if someone come and water these seeds, they will manifest into energy and they will make us suffer. We also have wholesome seeds in us, namely the seeds of understanding, of awakening, of compassion, of nonviolence, of nondiscrimination, a seed of joy and forgiveness. They are also there.

What we see, what we hear, what we eat, always water the seed of violence, the seed of despair, the seed of hate in us and in our children. That is why it’s very urgent to do something collectively in order to change the situation. Not only educators, but parents, legislators, artists, have to come together in order to discuss the strategy that can help bring the kind of safe environment to us and to our children where we shall be protected from the negative watering of the seeds in us. The practice of transformation and healing could not be effective without this practice of seeking or creating a sane environment. When someone is sick, you have to bring him to a place where he or she can be treated and to heal.

If the human person is affected by the poison of violence and anger and despair, if you want to help heal him or her, you have to bring him or her out of the situation where she continues to ingest the poisons of violence. This is very simple. This is very clear and this is not only the job of educators. Everyone has to participate to the work of creating safe environments for us and for our children.”

Tea Time

December 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

detailsbcb78a4402b13eefeea2Perhaps it’s the chilly winter days that are approaching or perhaps it’s the impending beginning of a new season of Downton Abbey ; the truth is that tea season is upon us.  The bitterness and sweetness, perhaps it is its resemblance to the essence of life that make tea such a pleasurable experience.   So here is some basic information I found helpful in my own tea journey.

What is Tea anyway?

All “true” tea comes from the same plant, called the Camellia sinensis. Any leaf, root, fruit or flower that comes from a different plant is considered an herbal tea. For example, chamomile flowers and peppermint leaves are considered herbal teas because they do not come from the traditional tea plant. It is important to distinguish between real tea and herbal tea since the flavor, health benefits and nutritional characteristics vary from plant to plant.

THOUSANDS OF TEAS, DIVIDED INTO 4 CATEGORIES
There are thousands of different kinds of teas, each with their own individual appearance, taste and aroma. To make sense of all the variations, “true teas” (those made from the tea plant, or Camellia sinensis, versus herbal teas which come from other plants) can be categorized into 4 major categories: white, green, oolong and black. Generally, these categories refer to how much a tea is oxidized. The more oxidized the blacker the tea. See table below.

tea-oxidation-chart

How to brew the perfect cup of tea?

Once you know the basics, brewing the perfect cup of tea is easy! If you can boil water, you can make tea. Fine tuning the flavor is essentially a game of manuvering and adjusting 3 elements: water temperature, steep time and amount of tea used.

With just a little practice, preparing a great tasting cup of tea is easy and will quickly become second nature. The right brewing equipment can also further simplify the process.

BASIC DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring fresh, cold water to a rolling boil. Always start with the freshest, purest source of water available as this will heavily impact tea’s flavor … it is the main ingredient, after all!
  2. Add tealeaves to a teapot, fill-your-own teabag or infuser basket. Use 1 teaspoon – 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) per cup (8 oz) of water depending upon desired strength. Adjust to taste.
  3. Pour boiling water directly over black, oolong and herbal tea. Allow water to cool slightly before brewing green tea, white tea or yerba maté. Cover.
  4. Infuse (steep) leaves for 2-5 minutes; 3.5 minutes is a good standard steep time that works well for most teas. Do not oversteep or tea may become bitter. If you prefer strong tea, do not over steep; simply use more leaves.
  5. Remove tea sachet, bag or infuser from water or strain leaves.

How to Clean Your Tea Kettle?

To remove mineral deposits, boil equal parts white vinegar and water inside kettle. Remove from heat. Let sit several hours; rinse. Hand wash the pot’s exterior with a gentle pot-scrubber sponge. Let tap water run for a few moments before adding it to the pot.

Now brew yourself a delicious cup of tea.  Enjoy!

A Prayer of Thanks to Nature

November 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

We may tend to attribute ego-driven behaviors to Nature (i.e., wrath), but I know that Nature is Love, because God is Love.  And Love has no Ego.   As we prepare to gather for Thanksgiving,  I want to share this beautiful prayer that was written a century ago, but its connection with Grace and Gratitude is permanent and as relevant today as it will a hundred years from now.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Prayer for Nature
by Walter Rauschenbusch (1861–1918)

O God, we thank you for this universe, our home; and for its vastness and richness, the exuberance of life which fills it and of which we are part. We praise you for the vault of heaven and for the winds, pregnant with blessings, for the clouds which navigate and for the constellations, there so high. We praise you for the oceans and for the fresh streams, for the endless mountains, the trees, the grass under our feet. We praise you for our senses, to be able to see the moving splendour, to hear the songs of lovers, to smell the beautiful fragrance of the spring flowers.

Give us, we pray you, a heart that is open to all this joy and all this beauty, and free our souls of the blindness that comes from preoccupation with the things of life, and of the shadows of passions, to the point that we no longer see nor hear, not even when the bush at the roadside is afire with the glory of God. Give us a broader sense of communion with all living things, our sisters, to whom you gave this world as a home along with us.

We remember with shame that in the past we took advantage of our greater power and used it with unlimited cruelty, so much so that the voice of the earth, which should have arisen to you as a song was turned into a moan of suffering.

May we learn that living things do not live just for us, that they live for themselves and for you, and that they love the sweetness of life as much as we do, and serve you, in their place, better than we do in ours. When our end arrives and we can no longer make use of this world, and when we have to give way to others, may we leave nothing destroyed by our ambition or deformed by our ignorance, but may we pass along our common heritage more beautiful and more sweet, without having removed from it any of its fertility and joy, and so may our bodies return in peace to the womb of the great mother who nourished us and our spirits enjoy perfect life in you.

So, Deepak, what is Meditation anyway?

November 7, 2012 § 1 Comment

As we walk in our Yoga Practice inevitable we’ll encounter the path of Meditation and even though I believe that no one can teach you  meditation; I do believe that there are tools that can help you  find it and that there are great teachers that can guide you with these tools.
In case you live under a rock, and that is my favorite place to live  sometimes, Deepak Chopra issued a 21 Days Meditation Challenge.  As an introduction to this program, Chopra defined some basic terms and I loved the way he was able to define and explain it so I am sharing with you.  You can find out more visiting the 21 Days Meditation Challenge site.
Disclaimer, I pasted my notes on it, so the words are Mr. Chopra’s but I highlighted words that resonated with me.  Feel free to share which one resonate with you. 
“What is Meditation?

Deepak Defines Meditation – Everyone thinks that the purpose of meditation is to handle stress, to tune out, to get away from it all. While that’s partially true, the real purpose of meditation is actually to tune in, not to get away from it all, but to get in touch with it all. Not to just de-stress, but to find that peace within, the peace that spiritual traditions talk about that passes all understanding. So, meditation is a way to get in the space between your thoughts. You have a thought here, a thought here, and there’s little space between every thought.

According to wisdom traditions, this space between the thought is the window, is the corridor, is the vortex to the infinite mind – the mystery that some people call the spirit or God. We don’t have to use those terms, but it’s your core consciousness. And the more we learn about this space between thoughts, we find certain things to be true of it:

  • It’s a field of infinite possibilities – infinite possibilities, pure potentiality.
  • Everything is connected to everything else.
  • It’s a space of infinite creativity, infinite imagination.
  • It is a place where there is something called observer effect, or the power of intention, which means intention is very powerful when brought to this space and it orchestrates its own fulfillment – what people call the law of attraction – so those are wonderful qualities of your own spirit.

In meditation, we get into this space so we find ourselves infinite possibilities, infinite correlation, infinite creativity, infinite imagination, and infinite power of intention. That’s what meditation is really about.”

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