Monthly Archives: August 2009

Why Cook?

In the last weeks several media moments pose the same question or seek to fully answer it for today’s generation of Ready-to-Eat food purchasers and eaters.

Michael Pollan tackled the issue in the New York Times. The movie Julia & Julie teaches us that the pioneer cooking efforts of Julia Child were inspired by a desire to “do something” matches it with the same desire in a young woman today. My mother delving through her vast cookbook catalog to aid me in a recipe request for a seafood paella passes along to me “The Seasonal Kitchen” by Perla Myers…and I read about a chef in 1973 touting the benefits of locally grown and seasonal and the “return to fresh foods” for taste benefits (not health ones).

What I found interesting in each of these pieces is the common theme of wanting food to taste good. And savoring that taste. And of wanting to be passionate, involved, connected – not just to our food, but to those eating it, including ourselves.

Perhaps the takeaway message, the answer to “why cook” is simple – we should earn what we eat and in doing so our food will give back to us much more than a quick fix of energy or a boost of antioxidants – it will give us triumph, sensual pleasure, the slowing of time, a creative outlet, a chance to share our personal style…Perhaps “why cook” is truly the answer to optimal health we’ve been eating our way around?

Join me in cooking something this week. My paella is going to be divine!

Struggling the Question

Struggling the Question


I have a new acupuncturist. His name is Scott Cedeño*, and he’s supremely gifted, one of those healing artists who came to Earth for the express purpose of practicing his healing arts. We’ve done two sessions together, and Scott is optimistic about being a part of the team I’ve assembled to help me get the message of and release Type II Diabetes completely.

On Thursday when we did our second session, Scott asked me a question:

Are you willing to marshal all your resources to finish this imbalance?

He was quiet for a bit, and then he said gently, “I sense a little resistance to it.”

A little?

Since Thursday I haven’t been living with the question, I’ve been struggling with the question. My emotional reaction is, to put it mildly, argghhh. No other way to say it.

So even though I prefer to write on this page once I’ve already realized what I need to learn, I’m ignoring my preferences for the moment to make a point about human process.

I woke up this morning and had to tell my sweetie that something was bugging me, that it wasn’t/isn’t her fault, and that I didn’t/don’t want her to fix it. I just wanted her to listen to my thoughts as I spoke them aloud. It was less for her to hear than for me to hear myself. I need that sometimes.

So here’s where I am with Scott’s question:

I don’t know if I’m willing to marshal all my resources.

What does that look like? Are we talking … money, time, focus, energy, talent, what?

Here’s what I do know:

I’ve marshaled plenty of resources toward this imbalance in the past and 20 years later, it remains my daily companion.

I also know that allopathic medicine doctors caused this imbalance and that I’ve had to do some mammoth forgiveness work to let that go, which I have, except for the moments I haven’t.

I also know that I’ve spent a fortune on various alternative treatments that have improved my experience of the disease but not allowed me to release it.

I also know, and I don’t like admitting this, that I’m lazy in some areas.

There are things I could do right now to change the course of this dis-ease forever.

I could learn to cook vegan and completely change my diet.

I could quit eating dairy, meat, sugar—forever.

I could devote more than the hour I already do to exercise every day.

Here’s what else I know FOR NOW:

I don’t wanna.

That’s it. Nothing complicated. Nothing bizarrely motivated. Nothing that makes sense.


Do I have to do these things to marshal all my resources and release the imbalance?

I don’t know, but I do know this: I’m struggling with the question and have been ever since Scott asked it. I also know that I totally appreciate the fact that he asked it.

I’ve already begun doing one of Noah St. John’s famous afformations about the diabetes: Why am I free of diabetes?

I’m considering using another one:

Why is it so easy for me to be motivated to marshal my resources to release this imbalance?

The thing is that my conscious mind knows that eventually I’ll be able to eat sugar again. Eventually, I won’t have to exercise more. Eventually, eventually, eventually means that the commitment that’s being asked of me is only FOR NOW, and I still don’t feel motivated. Or, I’m still resisting being motivated. I don’t know why, and it’s not important.

What’s important is the essential nature of the question Scott asked me.

I plan to struggle with the question, wrassel it to the ground, hang with it, pummel it, wonder about it until I, like the poet Rilke recommends, can actually live the question, someday, right into its answer.

*If you want to work with Scott, you can find him at Visions Medical Center in Wellesley, Mass 781-431-1333. I cannot recommend him highly enough.

 

For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso’s website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. You may also follow her on Twitter @ PeaceCorso :) See you there!

God’s Dictionary: Garbage

Garbage 

grabeller = to examine precisely 

      Well, here’s an extremely everyday word, one we all have to deal with at one time or another. It seems to me that it is only humanity as a species which creates garbage. I’ve never heard of a pride of lions discussing what to do about the local landfill, have you?   

      Interestingly, the Old French root of this word means to examine precisely, and isn’t this what we are doing as we commit more and more to reduce, reuse, and recycle? Indeed, garbage becomes increasingly complicated in this day and age of recycling. The point of recycling as a discipline is to look genuinely at what we are creating as garbage and to make deliberate choices about how we use our resources.   

      I have a nylon shopping bag that zips into itself, which I carry in my purse.  Because I use it nearly every day, I, by default, avoid using many plastic shopping bags. It’s part of my commitment to how I deal with the garbage on earth.   

      You’ve heard the expression, I’m sure, “One person’s trash is another one’s treasure.” Take a moment to look at the things in your house. Do any need recycling? Do it. Circulation is basis of prosperity in the universe. Ask:  How can I examine precisely what I need and what I don’t today? 

Infinition: 

      I take a look at the garbage I create in my life consciously and I recycle what I no longer need so that it circulates and blesses others today. 

reprinted from God’s Dictionary (Tarcher/Putnam 2002)

 

For more divine definitions, visit the God’s Dictionary blog! For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso’s website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. You may also follow her on Twitter @PeaceCorso :) See you there!

Learning

I continue to be surprised and delighted to discover how each moment of life has so much potential for growth, beauty and creativity. However, what I am constantly at odds with is my desire to be the one that grows, produces beauty and creates.

To be still. To delight in what others achive. To listen. To behold. To taste. To know that sometimes the universe is best served when  I keep my hands off of it! 

Why Emotional Pain Doesn’t Have to Lead to Suffering

Physical feelings of pain are familiar signals to us all. In general we note the discomfort and naturally make attempts to correct the cause. This is our innate intelligence at work. And when the pain is simple, and simple corrections are made, all is well. The sensation of pain is forgotten until the next time it is needed.

Emotional pains are usually not simple, and when they grow into emotional suffering, they can influence the entire worldview of their host. We either know directly from our own experience or through our empathy with others’ experience that some really terrible things happen to hurt people emotionally. Unjust things done to innocent people. Things we cannot in good conscience blithely dismiss as "perfect."

It is natural that a story arises with emotional pain. There is usually an event or a person that "causes" the pain. It may be initially important to tell the story and learn the lessons, or take whatever action is appropriate. Quite often that event or person also echoes earlier versions of emotional pain with similar stories. As legitimate as the story (or stories) may be, when they are played and replayed in the thought process, emotional pain grows into emotional suffering. The pain then becomes a signal of all that has gone or could go wrong, rather than a simple signal for correction. And yet when emotional pain is met without the inevitable story that arises with it, it too disappears from memory in the same way simple physical pain does.

Often we believe that to stop retelling the story of emotional pain is to somehow be disloyal to ourselves. We feel that in staying true to the story of our hurts we are being true to ourselves! Because of this (false) ideal of self-loyalty, we then begin to define ourselves by our emotional pain. To define yourself by your emotional pain is to suffer unnecessarily.

Pain that is met consciously does not grow into suffering. To suffer we need time and a continuing story. "My mother…." "He or she or they…." "I am or am not…" To continue the story guarantees the birth and continuance of suffering, and the avoidance of the pure feeling underneath all internal dialogue.

The "correction" for emotional pain may initially feel counterintuitive. Rather than moving away from the pain, we must meet emotional pain directly and intimately. It is an intimate meeting. Only you and your pain are present. And that requires that all other characters in your story of causes and betrayals and injustices be temporarily erased. It requires the intimacy of becoming one with the pain. Not in an indulgent, dramatic version of "Me Being One With The Pain," but a simple and sober quiet merger of attention into the sensation of pain.

Where do you feel the hurt? If you let your full attention fall into that area, leaving behind any part of any story about what caused it, even leaving the names pain and hurt behind, you discover pure energy. When we don’t judge this energy, even if it feels uncomfortable or worse, we can get even closer. We can get so close that we are actually one with it. And we can stop there. We can simply be there, in the spaciousness of the endless open mind.

The challenge then is to give up the identity of the one who was or is being hurt. That giving up only requires us to stop retelling the story of how we were hurt, who hurt us, how badly it hurts, why it shouldn’t have happened, and on and on and on.

In simply refusing to tell that story again, you have the immediate opportunity to meet directly the pain underneath the story. That’s all that is needed for the suffering to be finished!

If the emotional suffering reappears, there is some story attached to it. Again, you have the choice to release the story and intimately meet the pain.

Pain that is unmet becomes suffering. Pain that is met is not pain.

Please see for yourself and let me know!

Gangaji will be in Boston for a  public meeting September 12th, and inWoodstock for a public meeting September 14. She will hold a seven day retreat at Garrison Institute, NY, beginning September 16th. Read more about Gangaji’s events and catalog of books and videos online.

Are You Doomed By Your Circumstances?

Last week, I wrote about ways to find your source of inspiration and asked you to write with questions and comments. Many of you did, often referring to my hypothetical question, "Am I doomed by my circumstances?"

As I said last week, that’s a really important question. So many people complain about the hand life has dealt them, especially in these challenging economic times. In my coaching work, I often find people who feel somewhere between helpless and hopeless.

The biggest challenge I see in all of this is that each of us gets to be right, regardless of our point of view. Henry Ford often said something to the effect: it does not matter whether you believe you can or you cannot – you are probably right. The logic? If you believe you can, you will probably keep on trying until you do; if you believe you cannot, you may well give up before even starting.

There are hundreds of clichés on this subject. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Or, if at first you don’t succeed, keep on trying until you do succeed. And many more. Here’s what Courtney had to say, and my response:

I’ve had this feeling so many times but you have to pick yourself physically and emotionally out of that thinking quickly, when it happens. In the last 5 years, two siblings and 6 friends have passed away. I was in grief counseling for a year and a half. Then this past fall, my work visa in the UK was denied on a technical error (which is still in the appeals process after 7 months) and I had to quit a perfectly good job and move back to the States. I am glad to be home but now have been unemployed since moving back. It has been the hardest and best few years of my life. I have countless times asked, "Why is this happening to me?" I think the saving elements, for me, has been to focus on what many blessings I have been given in life. Simple pleasures are where it is at for me: hearing a beautiful piece of music, the electric red sunsets in Texas, getting kisses from my puppy, and remembering sweet memories of those who have passed away. I have so much to be grateful for…my health, good friends, a great Mom, etc. What I am trying to say, very inarticulately, is I think the key is getting outside of your own head without denying your own feelings. What I mean is, accept and embrace your own emotions and allow yourself to express them but also, go outside, do something nice for others, try learning something new like a new language. Don’t let yourself dwell in a rut. The rut will get deeper and harder to escape.

So, there is just my two cents.

Read more on www.huffingtonpost.com

 

Group Cycling Class Generates and Captures Clean, Renewable Energy

With our human-powered conscious generation today, a new group cycling workout can now make a real difference generating renewable energy. A group spinning class generates about 300 kWh, according to Jay Whelan, founder and president of the Green Revolution, www.egreenrevolution.com. Green Revolution helped set up the new system that captures and stores energy at Ridgefield Fitness Club in Hartford, Connecticut, using Schwinn stationary bikes, which are connected to a cabinet that functions as an inverter connected to the club’s grid. On average each class member generates between 50-100 watts when exercising at a moderate pace for about an hour.
 
The entire group cycling studio, comprised of 17 indoor cycles, is connected to the club’s electrical grid through an inverter, so that human electricity can be used to power all aspects of the facility. Any excess electricity generated from the club has the potential to return to the power grid for others in the community to use.
 
A typical group cycling class with about 20 bikes has the potential to produce up to 3.6 Megawatts (3,600,000 Watts) of renewable energy per year. This is equivalent to the amount of power needed to light 72 homes for a month, while also reducing carbon emissions by over 5,000 pounds, according to Whelan.
 
*Note www.KineticCycling.com, a new group cycling center located in Brentwood, CA, has a few Green Revolution’s bikes, and are testing their popularity within the group cycling experience.  So how about lighting a bulb and lighting a fire under your butt to get movin’:)?
 

  

Gardening is Good for the Heart and Soul

It’s taken me almost half my life to discover a fabulous gym outside my door. Turning compost is essentially lifting weights. Raking is like using a rowing machine. Pushing the mower is similar to walking on a treadmill. Our exercise machines are post-hole diggers, shovels, rakes, push mowers, and wheelbarrows. Our running track is the yard and garden.

 
The health benefits of gardening are impressive. Gardening uses all the major muscle groups–the muscles that do most of the calorie burning–in the human body. Your legs, buttocks, shoulders, stomach, arms, neck, and back all get a workout. Gardening also increases flexibility and strengthens joints.
 
Gardening is also good for the soul. I often lose myself in the garden contemplating all of my issues and concerns, having conversations with the butterflies and lizards, playing hide and seek with the cat as I work the soil. The earth gives back to us as well when we treat her lovingly and with care. And what beautiful color and graceful movement I get back in return from the plants!
 
I find that if I do activities I enjoy that move my body I can get in my exercise without even knowing I did.  Things as simple as walking the dog gets me physical.  Cleaning the house and dancing to the radio or your iPod is totally free exercise.
 
Motivation is probably the one thing that challenges me on a regular basis.  The thought "I have to exercise" is NOT a motivator for me.  But thoughts like, "I think I will explore that new park with the dog this morning." makes the activity much more enjoyable.
 
I look for activities where I can loose myself doing them so I don’t think of them as exercise.  It’s a mind game – but one where I usually win!
 
Now get out and get physical!
 
Doreen, aka The Garden Goddess

 

 
 

Exercise: Movement that Matters

Exercise boosts the immune system, prevents or treats many diseases, improves focus, elevates mood and stabilizes it for at least twelve hours. After a sluggish summer, fall is almost here with its fresh, new energy providing you with an opportunity to discover individualized movements that you enjoy while you harness your power.

Many people don’t exercise because they are
* Ashamed of their appearance – others will sneer at  the gym or dance class
* Afraid of failure – if you don’t try, you can’t fail.
* Fatigued by stress and unhappiness

However, when you perceive exercise as grounding, self-healing and generating positive energy, you will stay motivated and become habituated. Consider that your workout has a spiritual component:  a series of holy moments to strengthen your body to house your spirit. To get physically fit address the basic needs of your body and mind: strength training, aerobics and stretching.

Strength training teaches you to operate at full strength by tightening a loose mind. I always say, “Lift weights to lift your spirits” and you can quantify your personal improvement with the weight of the dumbbells or kettle bells that you use. You can use machines at the gym which keep you in proper posture for execution, or you can use free weights for core stabilization or even use your own body as resistance. Aim for at least 2 strength training sessions a week for 30 minutes – and you are never too old. Here’s what you can do at home with your own body:

* Push-off with a push up using your body’s own resistance and for a wonderful total upper body workout strengthening your chest, triceps and abdominals. You can do them on the floor, full body or modified, off the wall, or off the kitchen counter.
* Get grounded with squats. They are a total lower body workout which you can do even by getting up from your chair. Just don’t use your arms when you rise and push off your heels.
* Add some lunges. Begin by doing them in place, alternating legs, and then do walking lunges. You will strengthen your legs to walk to your next happiness.
* Visit a gym or community center and learn the basics of using dumb bells, stability balls and other equipment.  You can take it from there.  You can sign up for group classes and find some workout buddies.
* Watch exercise videos and follow along.

Aerobics workouts are so much fun that we get addicted to the high: Our bodies are moving, good energy is generated and our minds break out of a worry loop to become carefree. Follow your heart and do it for at least twenty minutes 3 times a week. Use upbeat music (periodically change it) and try:

* Speed walking or jogging – alone or with friends for accountability
* Dancing – salsa, belly dancing, zumba, or make up your own
* Boxing/ martial arts – process-oriented
* Bicycling
* Swimming
* Join a sports league
* Gym equipment like ellipticals, stationary bikes, treadmills, rowers
* Housework counts if you do it with alacrity!

When your workout gets easier, you can change: speed, sequence of the exercises and intensity.  Change promotes muscle stimulation. You can incorporate aerobics with strength training by doing short intervals in between your weight lifting moves, like marching or jogging in place.

Stretching will elongate your contracted muscles and keep you flexible. Stiffness leads to chronic pain as you age. Stretching encourages your mind to be more flexible about its preconceived notions and self-justification. You will learn to breathe and be still with yourself. Yoga is excellent for returning to your breath, centering yourself and stretching yourself into new realms of possibility. Aim to stretch after workouts (when your muscles are warm) for a few minutes or in longer sessions a couple of times a week.

Don’t overdo it! Muscles need to recover between workouts by resting. Don’t pound your body into submission. Use exercise as a spring board for overall quality self-care which includes eating healthy foods. Always check with your doctor when exercising for the first time or if you have a special condition.

Exercise can be a moving meditation. Give your workouts a specific intention or affirmation, so you think it and do it. Ultimately, you will become it. Conceive, believe, achieve.

Sow the Seeds of a Higher and Happier Life

To sow spiritual seeds means that we do spiritual work. Spiritual work is always interior work first, even if, as a matter of course, this work becomes manifest through exterior action. What is this interior work by which we sow the seeds of the celestial within us? Following are four ways to sow the seeds of a higher and happier life.

1. We must work to not burden others or ourselves with past regrets, disappointments, or fearful future visions, even as we learn to ask truth for more insight into those unseen aspects of our present nature that are reaping their regrets even as they sow more of the same dark seeds.

2. We must learn to sit quietly with ourselves and wait patiently for the light of God’s peace to replace those dark, noisy thoughts and feelings telling us that we have too much old baggage to make the journey home. Each time we sow these seeds through some quiet meditation, we reap the strength that comes from realizing that this silence that comes to us is our true home.

3. We must deliberately remember our intention to start our whole life over every moment we awaken to find ourselves reliving some past conflict. To cultivate this refreshed outlook, born of remembering that our true life is always new in the Now, is to let go of who we have been and to begin reaping a life free of anger and fear.

4. We must learn to look our fears, weariness, and anxiety directly in the eye, and instead of seeing what is impossible according to their view of life, sow the seeds of a new self by daring to doubt their dark view of things. Our refusal to identify with self-limiting negative states reaps us the reward of rising above their inherent limitations.

If we wish a life that is whole and loving, one that is filled with new light, then we must sow these eternal seeds within ourselves; that is our work. Make your own list of ways to work at sowing the seeds of the higher life. Set your self to the task of being an inwardly awake person and watch how you begin to reap the awareness that makes all things possible.

(Excerpted from "Let Go and Live in the Now" — Red Wheel/Weiser)

Guy Finley is the acclaimed author of more than 30 books and audio programs on the subject of self-realization, several of which have become international best sellers. His popular works, published in 16 languages, are widely endorsed by doctors, professionals, and religious leaders of all denominations. Among many others, his popular titles include: The Secret of Letting Go, Design Your Destiny, The Lost Secrets of Prayer, Apprentice of the Heart, Let Go and Live in the Now, and The Essential Laws of Fearless Living. Finley is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for self-study located in Southern Oregon where he gives talks four times each week. Visit www.GuyFinley.org for a wealth of free helpful information, free audio and video downloads, and to request your free Self-Improvement Starter Kit. 

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