yoga is a way of life.. For inner peace and good health, practice yoga

yoga is a way of life.. For inner peace and good health, practice yoga

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Declaration of Human Rights

Have you felt how much is going on in the world? I don't mean nature-wise necessarily, but the energy and dust being kicked up by humans in an ever-increasing way. The politics in this country are angering and frustrating a great many average citizens and our over-crowding is starting to have a serious impact on our ability to peacefully co-exist in a clean environment. In today's The New York Times, I read a startling article about how the earth's inhabitants, in digging, drilling, and tearing up the earth for its resources like minerals, oil and other fuels, is creating a climate for military leaders to gear up for future conflicts in order to protect our share of these earth resources in the name of "national security."

Human activity is reaching and devastating formerly pristine areas in the rain forest, the Arctic, under the sea, inside mountains, everywhere practically. Nothing is sacred. Except our consumer way of life. Be grateful for the (gulp) clean water available right now because it might not last. Make sure you don't run the tap longer than you need to! Most of us feel this information is "old news," yet it is persisting to a greater degree. We are not cutting back on this sort of devastating activity--it is going on and on and on.

I don't need to mention the economy and the astonishing and overt level of greed that is sinking our country from under us.

But in defense of the greatness of the United States of America, there was a time when we had some outstanding citizens.

Over sixty years ago, Eleanor Roosevelt helped form the League of Nations which became the United Nations. And this body, with her involvement, created a "Universal Declaration of Human Rights." Did you know this existed? I didn't until I read a biography of Eleanor. I have included a link to the United Nations site with the entire declaration. I implore all of you to read it thoroughly. It's amazing that this document exists and yet it is not honored fully, still, all these years later.

How will peace prevail on earth? It starts with YOU.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The "Pain-Body": Never Too Old to Learn

My birthday is coming up this week (Dec. 9th) and I'll be 54 years old. Holy crap! Oops, sorry. I really don't mind having birthdays since the only way to escape aging is to croak. So, since I am a living being aging comes with the territory.

But none of us is too old to learn about ourselves. I have spoken several times in the past about reading the books of Eckhart Tolle, a current spiritual teacher and writer, and not to go on and on about his teachings like I'm obsessed, I find that the way he presents his very knowledgeable ideas resonates with me. He describes the human condition in a way that I experience and recognize it.

On a fundamental level, we humans are subject to being driven by our egos and are living as "pain-bodies." Sounds kind of like "the Borg," doesn't it? There is the collective pain-body which consists of horrible things we humans have done to each other throughout history such as waging war, torture, raping and pillaging, and utter destruction and violence that bring pain and suffering. This stuff is in our DNA. Then there is the pain and suffering we inherit from our parents who have their own share of pain, as well as the environmental experience we have as children at home and in our society. Some people are born with dense pain-bodies and tend to be sensitive, empathetic, and of course very disillusioned with our dysfunctional world made up of others with their pain-bodies. Some people have egos that feed on the negativity and do a good job of inflicting their pain onto others.

I find that there are certain "triggers" that touch off a spiral of anger first, then morphing into feeling like a victim, then lashing out at others, basically inflicting pain because I am in pain. Being in the grips of my pain-body is the height of unhappiness. My ego then tells me stories about how worthless I am, how my life has no value, how other people don't care about me, how horrible the entire world is, etc., and this feeding frenzy of negativity is what the ego wants most. Finally, I discover what is going on and it diffuses the ego's grip and I find it was all a bunch of self-created hooey.

Triggers can be family members (for me, my mother) or friends who are in such emotional pain themselves, so out of touch (unconscious) with themselves that they inflict their pain onto you in the vulnerable spot in your soul or psyche that hits like a poisoned arrow. Triggers can also be expectations about events or experiences or people who let you down.

As the Oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece was inscribed over the doorway, "Know Thyself," there is no greater power of life-force than being conscious of who and what you are about. I know I am not too old to keep learning about myself in my quest to be happy, of course. Ah, but then happiness is only one component of the ultimate state of being: Contentment.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

World Wide Web

The Web, as we know it (the Internet), celebrates an anniversary: 20 years ago the term was coined to describe this sharing of information, for its "likeness to a spider's construction." I was immediately reminded of how apt that is today, as we learn the positive and negative aspects of our world-wide web of interconnections, and how amazing it is that we are able to talk about it here, via the Web! We are connected in a way that is stupendous, unthinkable not long ago.

Chief Seattle is a noted American Indian leader who gave a famous speech in 1854, and I wanted to share with you this call-and-response text from a church service I attended a few years ago and kept the page from the program to share one day. It is a beautiful example of how we are part of a whole, interconnected as if by an invisible web:

Minister: Every part of this earth is sacred.
Congregation: Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing, and every humming insect is holy.

Minister: We are part of the earth and it is part of us.
Congregation: The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle – these are our brothers.

Minister: The rocky crests, the dew in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, humans – all belong to the same family.
Congregation: This we know: The earth does not belong to humans; humans belong to the earth.

Minister: This we know: All things are connected like the blood which unites one family.
Congregation: Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of earth.

Minister: We did not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand on it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
Congregation: What are humans without the animals?

Minister: If all the animals were gone, humans would die from a great loneliness of spirit.
Congregation: For whatever happens to the animals, soon happens to humans. All things are connected.

I truly believe that when each of us is healthy in body, mind and spirit, it affects us so positively that we can't help but affect those closest to us for the better, perhaps inspiring by example. Each thread in the web gets stronger and easier for us to connect with each other. If you think your poor eating habits are your own business, and you are ill, think of those who care about you and are unable to enjoy you more. If you think your lack of rest doesn't matter, think of how crabby you are to people around you. If you think eating animals who are treated cruelly in factory farms doesn't matter, try putting yourself in their position and consider how awful it must be for them. If you act selfishly without considering what is sacred, you spoil things for everyone. If you act "selfishly" in order that you might keep fit and fed in healthy ways and allow yourself to feel the sacredness of life, you make a positive impact on the world-wide web we all share.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

You Are Welcome

On Friday I took my regular yoga class after missing it for two weeks while allowing my injured heel to heal (no pun intended!). At the end of the class, as we all were laying on our backs in the very relaxing svanasana (corpse pose), the teacher went student by student to gently push our shoulders down into the matte which releases that last bit of tension from the body. With my eyes still closed, I said, "Thank you," to her and she softly said, "You are welcome." Perhaps because she is from Colombia and has an accent, she didn't say, "You're welcome," but "You are welcome" in three distinct words. It struck me that the meaning is so different from the response we say automatically when someone thanks us.

Here I had missed the class for several weeks and felt like I would be out of shape, even though I know yoga is not meant to be competitive, and found I was still very strong and capable. It was great to be in this nurturing environment again and how nice to have this special "ah-ha" moment at the conclusion. You Are Welcome. I wish more people stated this in the beginning of our encounters with each other! Imagine walking into a store and the staff greeting you with, "You are welcome!" You would feel special and enter knowing your presence is important.

I had read in yoga texts a number of years ago that it is good to walk through every doorway as if entering a temple. It immediately reminds me that I am a divine being walking through life with respect. I can extend a warm welcome to those who enter my home or step into the space I am standing wherever that may be, treating that person with friendliness, hospitality, and respect.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, we will either host a dinner or be a guest, and have the opportunity to say, "You are welcome" or feel welcomed in someone's home, walking through their doorway into a temple. This alone is worth giving thanks as it is foundational for how we can all live together in peace in this world. I give thanks to my yoga teacher Francesca who has allowed me to see the value of three little words.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I have awakened to the reality that we are living in a time when our government is no longer "of the people" and our society is distracting itself from this reality.

Driving from my home to visit a girlfriend early last evening, the main highway I-95 was backed up in both directions the entire way, mile after mile after mile. There was no accident, no construction. Just volume. A Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Were all these people shopping? What is with the traffic getting more and more choked? Is this our future? If we continue along the path of more and more and more, I suppose that is exactly what we will get: more.

We have been lied to and manipulated by Washington for decades and now we are seeing the results. From legislating in favor of the wealthy and powerful, to ignoring the science of global warming in favor of corporate ($$$) interests, to using war for agendas we may never really know, and systematically destroying the middle class, our elected officials have created a completely corrupt machine.

Our society worries me. We scramble more and more to cram school, sports, college and expectations down our children's throats and at the end of all that pressure and fortunes spent, are there jobs for them? Is this competition healthy? We shop. We shop and consume and want more. If we don't spend, if aren't good consumers, we aren't good Americans. We are advertised to via every available surface, and we fall for it! A song I used to listen to warns that this is "participation in our own manipulation." Most of mainstream media exists either as an advertising delivery device or misinforms us depending on who sponsors or owns it. This media is not a voice of the people any more. Consumerism--all this "stuff"-- cannot continue indefinitely. The earth's resources are getting depleted and we are destroying ourselves by continually raping it for profit. There is such a tiny percentage of potable (drinkable) water left that it is laughable! Does anyone know this?

How does this tie in with Peace and Health? We must awaken and be conscious human beings, not live blindly from day to day in a semi- or unconscious way. To awaken allows you to understand finally that we are all interconnected, "one" with each other, the animals, the plants, the earth... that to destroy or mistreat or distort or corrupt creates a life of misery for ourselves in the end anyway. Our actions ripple out in hundreds of ways that can bring harm if we are not aware of the repercussions of those actions. I hope you will join me in awakening perhaps by studying the ancient teachings, by absorbing what is going on in the world, taking the time to acquaint yourself with the issues and players, by speaking out against injustice, by being "charge neutral" in the face of angry situations, by eating healthy, resting, being compassionate to yourself and therefore to others.

I do have faith in some of the young friends I have made, like Erin whose wonderful blog "Let's Be Self-Sufficient" is right on track. We need thousands of Erins to make the difference in whether we will thrive in the future.

And faith in my elders, like my Uncle Dave who keeps me on top of what is truly corrupt in government. Here is a link he just sent me about what the federal bank is up to lately:

A film you can stream on Netflix, called "The Age of Stupid," is a documentary about global warming and what the near future might hold for us. Here's the trailer:

Another good documentary you can stream on Netflix is "Iraqi War: The Untold Stories."

Thanks for listening to my rant. Now I'm REALLY awake!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Less Daylight, More Insight

After a long hiatus, I'm back on "Peace and Health." A number of you were wondering why I hadn't been writing my posts and the answer is that I have been living and thinking and experiencing and that is what it takes sometimes to be thoughtful in my communications. I don't want to blather away or preach. I want to share what is perhaps of value in making the world a teensy bit more friendly.

Today is the first evening of Eastern Standard Time and we now have the spectre of sunset at 4:30 and those long, cold winter nights ahead for a very long time. Boring? Sometimes. Crabby feelings from lack of vitamin D? Absolutely.

Here is what I have learned and applied from traditional Chinese medicine: We are all familiar with the concept of yin and yang, the opposites, in Chinese philosophy. The fall and winter are the yin time of the year, the feminine, introverted, quiet, the days short, animals hibernating and the earth going into its roots to survive the cold season ahead, everything in a state of near death. I have been putting away my summer clothes, as I'm sure many of you have been as well, but also my diet has been changing to include more seasonal foods like acorn and butternut squash, soups and other hot cooked food like breakfast grains. I have closed up my garden, brought potted plants indoors, and have accepted the fact that I will be less active for now, slowing down my social schedule and gym workouts. I have learned that I get sick, get headaches, feel edgy when I try to do too much. Deciding what is "too much" is what is most important.

My doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, who introduced this yin-yang season concept to me, says it causes illness and dysfunction when we live contrary to nature. In the fall and winter we need to be quiet, go inward, not rush around and not get enough rest. We need balance. In the spring and summer, it's the yang time of year, masculine, extroverted, expansive. Lazing around indoors in the summer is going against nature as it's the time to be outside and active.

So, it's okay to be sleepy and sluggish right now! It's okay to enjoy the long evenings in your sweats with your dog or cat on your lap, reading and sipping tea or enjoying a pleasant conversation in the comfort of home. It's okay not to drag yourself around after a long day of work. Go home and flop on the sofa and take it easy. Spend long moments thinking, writing, reading, listening to music. Insights abound at this time of year. Fatten up for the winter like the squirrels do. It's good to go with the season! Give yourself permission to simply be this fall and winter. It's only natural.

Here's a recipe I want to share, one I tore out of Yoga Journal recently. It's wonderful, simple to bake, and I hope you all will try it. Let me know what you think! Happy autumn. Let's all enjoy it and make the very best of it.

Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake
4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly oil a 10-inch loaf pan and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a hand mixer (or whisk by hand) for 30 seconds. Add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is very foamy and pale in color. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Gently fold in the rosemary.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Pour the batter into the pan.
4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool briefly in the pan, and then tip the cake out onto a rack to continue cooling.

I serve this cake warmed and sliced with a generous dollop of goat cheese with honey (they sell this at Trader Joe's) on top! Yum!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fear Can't Exist in the Now

Hello everyone. I have been writing every 3 weeks here at "Peace and Health" as I find that I accumulate experiences I wish to share on that schedule.

With the end of summer (sniff, sniff), with the anniversary of the still-sad events of Sept. 11, with the continuing bad economy (good for a few, bad for most), and a desire inside myself for more knowledge and skills in order to live life joyfully, I have studied 2 interesting books recently which I would love to share, as well as recommend a most amazing film which touches on many big, universal human themes. I also want to give you a simple exercise to try.

The first book is entitled, "There is Nothing Wrong with You," by a Zen teacher named Cheri Huber. It is a charming and helpful reminder that we are not who we have been conditioned to become through our early experiences of surviving within a family, getting "educated" in school, and following societal expectations. We are each perfect as we are and are connected to each other and the universe, not separate from each other and all living creatures.

The second book, "The Power of Now," by Eckhart Tolle, is a masterpiece explaining that it is possible to live a life with less fear and suffering if we live it in the present (now) instead of dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. This is what Buddha taught, and there are many references to this concept in ancient religions and philosophies. Tolle says, in an excerpt from the book:

"...Most people only shift between ordinary unconsciousness and deep unconsciousness. What I call ordinary unconsciousness means being identified with your thought processes and emotions, your reactions, desires, and aversions. It is most people's normal state. In that state, you are run by the egoic mind, and you are unaware of Being. It is a state not of acute pain or unhappiness, but of an almost continual low level of unease, discontent, boredom, or nervousness--a kind of background static. You may not realize this because it is so much a part of "normal" living, just as you are not aware of a continuous low background noise, such as the hum of an air conditioner, until it stops. When it suddenly does stop, there is a sense of relief. Many people use alcohol, drugs, sex, food, work, television, or even shopping as anesthetics in an unconscious attempt to remove the basic unease. When this happens, an activity that might be very enjoyable if used in moderation becomes imbued with a compulsive or addictive quality, and all that is ever achieved through it is extremely short-lived symptom relief." Tolle talks about the limited life we lead when we think we are our minds, or our thoughts, staying in a small loop of problems that keep us restricted and tense. Our identities are not derived from our thoughts; mind machinations that dwell in the past and worry about the future. When we bring ourselves back to the present moment, we are free to live and be fully awake to reality.

The film I watched is "Madadayo" by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. It was his last film and is a tribute to the good fortune any of us has to find a cherished teacher whom we can emulate. I felt while watching it the other night that it is so superb that I wish I could give a copy of it to all of you, and dream that all school children could be shown this film (along with their parents, but with the parents in the back of the auditorium and children in front to experience it for themselves). It is a tender, funny, humane story and I just adore it.

Here is a simple exercise, a "Prayer to Being in the Now:"

I hope you enjoy it, and I hope we can all find peace and health together. Everything is possible that way! Right NOW.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Going With The Flow

A yoga teacher once shared with my class a Zen koan that I was reminded of yesterday while out walking in the woods with my husband Serafino. We hiked on a trail that follows a pretty river, a stream really. The river had natural dams forming placid ponds and small areas of gentle rapids with the soothing bubbling sound that immediately puts you in a relaxation. A koan is a story illustrating a concept that is accessible through intuition instead of intellect.

I sat on the bank of this stream yesterday and watched the water flowing around a large smooth stone. In the koan, we are the stone which is solid, immovable, strong and unending, allowing the water to flow past us, allowing it to go by without attachment or hindrance. We are also the flowing water which is light, fluid, effortless, and when encountering the stone, we simply continue on our way, flowing past and around the stone, unaffected and neutral. So, in the stream of life we are both the stone and the flowing water.

In my recent readings, particularly on the site, I have been struck by how the contrasts of life are not to be negated or avoided, but can be consciously brought into balance. These contrasts, these yin-yang "opposites," such as male and female, darkness and light, good and evil, need each other to exist. We might strive not only to balance these opposites within us, but to seek a third way, a way to neither negate one or the other, but to incorporate both and in essence create a new, or third way of being. We can be as strong as a stone which yields to the flow of life, as well as go with the flow when we hit obstacles. And go even further, a third option which is to be both at all times. I believe that being both the stone and the flowing water, being both the good and bad, dark and light, male and female, we will come to understand each other.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Coming Home

What a wonderful weekend I had at my high school reunion in Ithaca, New York! I'm still processing the many faces, hugs, conversations, ideas and energy which washed over me. Not only did I attend the reunion events, but I also reunited with a number of family members, some of whom were in town to reconnect for the same reasons. I didn't realize how important it was for me to reconnect with my family, with my classmates, and with my hometown. My soul feels grounded and that is what is so gratifying and pleasantly unexpected.

My graduating class (Ithaca High School Class of 1975) had nearly 700 students, yet only a fraction (50 or so??) attended this reunion which spanned 4 days. I want to thank them all for being brave and present for this effort. Everyone looked terrific: Happy, healthy, comfortable with him or herself. I'm so impressed with how far some people traveled in order to reconnect, and how far they have traveled in life experiences. Even though I haven't seen my fellow classmates in many years, we became instant friends over the past few days and now I really miss them. We have in common shared experiences of growing up in the same town, in the same schools, with each other. That puts a special spin on our relationships to each other. We are all under each others' skins. In today's world where it's difficult to connect with others, how nice to have had the opportunity to be reminded of the true bonds between people.

And Ithaca, beautiful Ithaca. I hadn't been back since my last reunion in 2005 and was wondering if I was exaggerating in my mind how incredible Ithaca is. It was tugging at my heart for the past few years and I was curious to see if I would feel excited about being back there. Oh yes, absolutely, and in fact, I want to live there again! The weather was perfect, and everything was idyllic. The geology is so ancient, prehistoric, with endless exposed sheer cliffs of shale, gorges, creeks, hills, ledges and waterfalls – not to mention Cayuga Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes – glacier age relics which invite one to be outside in nature more than where I live now (crowded and frenzied metro NY area). The town is the same (pretty much) as it's always been and I feel at home there with its hippie-ish, natural vibe. I'm grateful to have seen, touched, danced and laughed along with so many courageous classmates and experienced the landscape of a very vibrant city where I grew up and long to be again. In that spirit, I want to share with the IHS Class of '75, and all my "Peace & Health" friends, this traditional poem from Ithaka, Greece (with shades of Odysseus' voyage):

When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
Do not fear the Lestrygonians
and the Cyclops and the angry Poseidon.
You will never meet such as these on your path
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your body and your spirit.
You will never meet the Lestrygonians,
the Cyclops and the fierce Poseidon
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not raise them up before you.

Then pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
that you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure, with such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds.
Buy as many pleasurable perfumes as you can.
Visit hosts of Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge.

Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for long years,
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.
With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,
you must surely have understood by then what Ithaca means.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gross and Subtle

The past few weeks have involved a period of intense lessons for me, ones I have invited into my life, I realize! That's certainly a way to bring change about and move to another (hopefully higher) level, instead of waiting for life to just happen. My concern lately has been twin: Taking care of my outer, "gross," body, and my inner, "subtle," body.

When I want to seek balance in my health, I look around and when a practitioner or treatment resonates with me, I go forward with it. My "directional" points me and I try to be open so I can see it and follow it. I am in excellent health, but I want to maintain and make adjustments in relation to the seasons, and to the phases of my life. In April, I joined a gym and have enjoyed splashing about in the pool during the Aqua-Fit classes which are wonderfully fun cardio workouts. The yoga classes at the gym are very physically challenging, lacking a bit in the mind and spirit components (yoga is supposed to be an equal number of all three), but I am happily keeping up. And my personal trainer kicks my ass which is the most amazing thing in my life right now. I never thought I would have the "muscle memory" to start again the sort of vigorous program I am undertaking. I hope any of you who feel it is behind you will try again.

What is kind of cool is that my personal trainer, a young guy in his mid-twenties, loves to hear about the many forms of yoga and exercise that I have practiced. I taught him "The Five Tibetans" (simple but powerful repetitive exercises, each done only 21 times), meditation encouragement, and balancing postures. We talk about healthy diets and stress management. And one practice that my old yoga teacher taught my class, to keep the spine supple. I will close this blog with ways to do this. "It will keep you young!" she would tell us.

The other amazing thing in my life lately is my nightly ritual of watching lectures by Joseph Campbell on DVD. Joseph Campbell is the renowned scholar of mythology who masterfully links all cultures and traditions historically, observing that we are all "one." I knew deep down, but Campbell reminded me, that we humans living in our modern society are not in accord with nature. Humans since the beginning of time lived in tune with nature. They had to, to survive. We think we are so clever that we can live above or without nature, but look at what is happening. In speaking about the history and philosophy of yoga, Campbell illuminates on the concept of how we have a gross body, that is, our outer body, our external and superficial selves represented in the tangible body that is our machine, and our subtle, inner body, the soul and authentic self that resides deep in our center core. We can't escape our gross body. It is susceptible to illness and reacts when we treat it well or badly, and ages and dies eventually. But when we take care of our gross body, accepting its phases and imperfections, it allows our subtle inner body to blossom and present itself to the world. That is a joy for others to behold and how lovely if everyone could cradle their physical bodies with love and care and thus frolic in this life with others whose inner souls are allowed to shine!

There is so much more, but I will save it for another blog.

For the care of the spine which supports our gross physical bodies, as well as opening nervous system pathways, keeping the spine supple and youthful, move it through all 6 ranges of movement:

1. While standing, drop your chin to your chest, and slowly, one vertabrae at a time, roll your body down so your hands are near your feet. Keep your knees soft. Breathe in and out luxuriously, and slowly roll your body up, with your head coming up last.
2. Next, bring your hands overhead and breathe in. On the exhale, slowly stretch up and back protecting your neck and lower back by emphasizing showing your heart to the sky. Come back to standing upright.
3. Clasp your hands overhead, breathe, and exhale first stretching to the right and holding briefly.
4. Do the same to the left.
5. Stand with your hands on your hips. Reach your right hand into your left hand on the left hip, stretching your face and eyes to the right, so you get a nice twist in the spine.
6. Do the same to the left.

So, the spine's range of movement is forward, backward, side, side, twist, twist. Six ways. Do this everyday. It will keep you young!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Patience and Faith

These are tough times indeed. The reason I have not written on "Peace & Health" for over three weeks is because I have been very preoccupied with the precarious situation in which I find myself economically and therefore socially. I have felt quite low, disconnected from others and unsure of my self-identity lately. I have been more aware of finding the patience to go with the flow that is not in my control, and have faith that things will not always be this way, that they get better someday soon.

But, through it all, I have learned an immense amount from those with whom I am connected despite the limitations. For instance, my angelic friend Megan tells me how fascinating these times are and what an opportunity we each have to explore and experience new ways of living. That puts such a positive spin on things! It validates how I truly feel which is quite happy and content within the more narrow world I am living within. Within the boundaries I have set up, I am staying physically healthy, mentally active, and finding it is possible by degree to "drop out" of the materialistic, consumeristic dictates of society. As my other red-haired friend Leslye says, "Simplicity is freedom!"

I am driving less, spending less, and have cut off cable TV, memberships to public TV and radio, my gym, and eventually my subscription to The New York Times and cell phone. I am asking friends and family to please stop inviting me to do things as I don't have an extra cent to spend. Instead, come and visit me! I'll always have the essentials, like delicious coffee, healthy snacks, good music, thoughtful conversation and laughs. Hopefully this is temporary. I am holding onto as much of the American Dream as I can right now. But my grip on this expensive lifestyle rope keeps slipping and I am dropping down, down, down. It gets easier as I loosen my grasp and little by little let go of all the stuff.

I know I am not alone. Many of my friends and acquaintances are experiencing a similar vibe. Our government is dysfunctional and actually detrimental. A lot of people are out of work and it is affecting more and more of us in this country. Things are falling apart--institutions, infrastructure, common courtesy. Megan suggests that it can mean a rebirth when the social order is forced into making changes. This is one positive outcome certainly.

In view of Peace & Health, I have found it is necessary more than ever to find ways to experience life as a fascinating adventure no matter what the circumstances, and to act from kindness towards others because we really are "all in it together." Patience and faith are not easy to maintain, but I am finding this challenge, well, fascinating!

Please let me know how I can help any of you out there, and be in touch as it will help me stay connected. Peace-out!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Let's Get Philosophical

I spend quite a bit of time thinking. I love to think. My grade school teachers all said the same thing on my report card evaluations to my parents: "Audrey loves to daydream." My husband says that at heart I am a philosopher, so right now I'm just goin' with that! This past week, I did an overview of some of the great philosophers throughout history. Their understanding of the human condition is extraordinary, and their views could be written today.

At the root of peace and health is a universal understanding of the self and others. Here are brief viewpoints of a group of important philosophers, views that are new to me, and I would like to share them with you:

469-399 BC
Socrates believed that "improper conduct can only be a product of ignorance rather than a symptom of weakness of the will." (As a note, ignorance is in Yogic and Buddhist beliefs one of the "kleshas" or afflictions that obscure freedom).

427-347 BC
"The things we perceive with the senses remind us of things we knew when the soul was out of the body and could perceive reality directly."
(Reincarnation, past life regression, being close to the divine while meditating are all examples of how everything and everyone is connected to the universe).

Soren Kirkegaard
(Considered the father of existentialism)
"To have faith is at the same time to have doubt."
"Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom."
(Perhaps we keep ourselves trapped in a cycle of suffering because we can't handle the risks inherent in freedom??).

Friedrich Nietzsche
He felt that "Non-rational forces reside at the foundation of all creativity and of reality itself, and strongly instinctual, wild, amoral, 'Dionysian' energy is an essentially creative and healthy force."

As a means towards cultural rebirth, Nietzsche advocated "the resurrection and fuller release of Dionysian artistic energies--those which are associated with primordial creativity, joy in existence, and ultimate truth."
(Everything is so politically-correct these days that we need to be authentic, and freely expressive again!).

Albert Camus
(Originated the theory of The Absurd)
"The absurd is our desire for clarity and meaning within a world and condition that offers neither. We value our lives and existence so greatly, but at the same time we know we will eventually die, and ultimately our endeavors are meaningless."
(Today I read in The New York Times an article about a study showing that baby boomers are happy as well as suicidal. Hmmm...).

The more I exist in reality (my reality, of course), working towards seeing clearly, acting mindfully, and observing non-judgmentally, the happier and more content I feel. I see a world around me full of stress, frenzy, hostility, impatience, and neglect, all symptoms perhaps of our modern society. It's a difficult task to focus on one's good health and acts of kindness in this sort of pressure cooker called American life. I try to take time to evaluate what is bothering me in my life, what is not working, and figure out options to eliminate these things if required. Certainly making changes. I can make changes on a personal level, and the huge problems on a national and international level are in my thoughts at the same time. I learn a tremendous amount by listening, reading, absorbing what others have to say. The best thing any of us can do is forgive ourselves, dust ourselves off, and try again. I am enjoying studying the great philosophers right now. Less TV and more time pursuing what enlarges the soul is my M.O. for this summer!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Five Mindfulness Trainings

It's been two weeks since I last wrote, and hope you have enjoyed getting acquainted with the Yamas and Niyamas ethical guidelines from the ancient Yoga Sutras teachings. This week, I want to introduce the "Five Mindfulness Trainings" which are part of Buddhist teachings. I find it a tremendous reminder to revisit these simple teachings now and then, and I strive to live them even though I am not perfect. None of us are, but we can try to live according to some basic values that are common to all people as we strive for peace in this world.

The First Mindfulness Training: "Reverence for Life"
Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I vow to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life.

The Second Mindfulness Training: "Generosity"
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I vow to cultivate loving-kindness and learn ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I vow to practice generosity by sharing my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in real need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. I will respect the property of others, but I will prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on earth.

The Third Mindfulness Training: "Sexual Responsibility"
Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I vow to cultivate responsibility and learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to protect couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training: "Deep Listening and Loving Speech"
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

The Fifth Mindfulness Training: "Mindful Compassion"
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I vow to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest food or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.

These Five Mindfulness Trainings are taken from, "Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames" by Thich Nhat Hanh. I highly recommend locating and reading this fine book about getting along in the world. I hope very much that each and all of you enjoy feeling what is possible in these teachings. You might want to share this blog entry with others you care about, even copying and pasting and printing them out for yourself and those close to you to read when you feel it's time for a reminder.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Yamas and Niyamas

No, not the Mamas and Papas. These are the 10 constraints/ethical guidelines set forth in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. They are so integral to daily life, and flow into so many areas, that I feel compelled to share them with you.

Not much is known about Patanjali as a person, but he was a seeker in India around the third century B.C. His teachings, codified as the Yoga Sutras (yoga, from the Sanskrit YUJ meaning "to join" or "unity; and sutras meaning "threads") are a collection of verse that have endured through the Buddha (who studied yoga) and his teachings, and the many threads of religion and philosophy that developed and spread in that part of the world. The Yamas and Niyamas are part of the Eight-Fold Noble Path. I hope you enjoy reading and incorporating them into your daily life. Already, you are practicing Svadhyaga!

1. Ahimsa, "Nonviolence"
Practice harmlessness to self, others, and all beings.

2. Satya, "Truthfulness"
With honesty comes developed intuition and living fully.

3. Asteya, "No Stealing"
Taking credit is wrong when privilege is unearned. Do not steal time and energy from others.

4. Bramacharya, "Celibacy"
Avoid manipulation by desires, preserving energy and enhancing tenderness.

5. Aparigraha, "Nonpossessiveness"
Detachment from past and future, as well as material objects creates balance and inner strength.

1. Saucha, "Purity"
Honor the body through right food, exercise, cleanliness and rest.

2. Santosha, "Contentment"
Be happy with all tasks, of being where you are.

3. Tapas, "Discipline"
Self-control, self-knowledge and ethical behavior bring growth of self.

4. Svadhyaga, "Study"
Read about and reflect on great saints and sages, learning from those with wisdom.

5. Ishvara Pranidhana, "Remembrance"
Recognition of the non-dying part of the self and unity with all life and the universe.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Know Thyself: Stay With What Resonates

As the oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece advised, "Know Thyself." Self-knowledge implies a labor of love, an empowering position in which to walk through life. I have been in search of myself all my life, aware of this effort I guess since college (the time when many of us "wake up"), and expect to continue on a life-long search for self. I have made mistakes, have experimented, have found success, all in learning to know myself.

I meet people now and then who are on their own quest, feeling something is not quite right perhaps with their health and seeking answers. I have discovered in my own experience that the answers I seek are sometimes not with experts, but reside in me. At present, I feel healthy and have no illnesses, aches or pains (except occasional headaches, but more about that another time) and have relied on a range of practitioners along the way towards balance. The body wants to exist in a state of balance and it's what we do in our daily lives that leads to or strays from that balance.

What diet should you eat? What sort of doctor or practitioner should you see? What supplements are best? How do the latest health claims on the news affect me? These are valid questions, and congratulations if they have been on your mind. It's the beginning of "knowing thyself."

A diet is not just for losing weight. A diet is a collection of meals that are right for YOU. Finding the right diet for you is a matter of trying foods in season and at your current stage of life, by starting where you are. Same thing for lifestyle changes such as the form of exercise or downtime that allows your body and mind to be more attuned to each other, telling you that all is well. Using common sense and allowing your gut instincts to flourish brings good health into your life if you are willing to make changes or small sacrifices towards that goal. If you feel you need assistance because a health issue seems beyond your ability to remedy, talking to friends and researching on your own will lead you to the help you need. The important thing is to decide what RESONATES with you. You don't have to jump on the latest fad diet, and you don't have to make appointments with every practitioner someone recommends. Take in the information and seek out the assistance and advice you need because it speaks to you. For me, a supportive group of people who follow a healthful lifestyle is key. I find that as my life progresses, there are more like-minded people in it. There's nothing formal about it; we keep each other on track by making good health a focus of our lives. Publications like Yoga Journal, Natural Awakenings, The New York Times, and books like Louise Hay's "You Can Heal Your Life" are on my daily reading list. I need many doses each day of spiritual and practical guidance! It's out there for you, to discover and use as your tools.

What I eat and how I live my life is right for me. If I'm a healthy example, I'm glad always to share what I have found helpful! It has taken many years of fine-tuning, and constant fine-tuning each season and year that goes by because my body changes and my lifestyle changes, too. I'm willing to play. The reason I'm writing this blog, truly, is because I wish for all of my friends and family good health and inner peace so that we can all play together for many, many years to come!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

We're Sorta Screwed

I know all of you have heard about the recent disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico near Louisiana. It might well be the worst thing mankind has ever done to the earth. And to know that the crude oil is gushing uncontrolled, poisoning such a vast amount of water and killing the wildlife is sickening. It's not just sickening to me, but I know it is sickening to you, and everyone who is aware of the situation. On a basic human level, no, on a basic earth-lifeform level, we know that this sort of catastrophe marks a turning point.

We are operating our human society at a level that is not worth the risks. The risks are too great. Regarding energy, if we keep poking holes in the earth (for oil or coal), we run risks like the results we have right now which is an absolute DISASTER (BP oil spill and recent mining explosions). Regarding our economy, and the now-intertwined global economies, we can't seem to self-regulate our human nature away from its tendency towards self-interest and greed. And regarding our government (and most others around the world and throughout history), it is clear that corruption is total, overt, in our faces and in bed with business interests. When any of these major societal systems fall apart, it spells dire consequences not only for people, but now, for the very first time on this scale, the EARTH.

Climate change is still debated, but what's with these beastly winds here in the northeast? Perhaps mankind has affected the climate of the earth, and we might not know for certain. But there is no question that the ecological disaster off the coast of Louisiana was caused by us, we humans. We are capable of pretty terrible acts. Take the atomic or nuclear bomb. Wars in general. How about nuclear energy? It's clean! It's efficient! It's also deadly if something goes wrong. And the way we humans operate, something will definitely go wrong and it will be a terrible situation.

But. I doesn't look to me like humans will stop driving gas-powered vehicles anytime soon. It doesn't look like Wall Street and the financial masters of the universe will stop trying to suck every last dollar into their own hands. It doesn't look like Washington will be anything but bought by big business. The weather is really weird and I feel it. You feel it. We all feel it. The winds of change have an edge to them, of anxiety. I know it: We are screwed.

There is a feeling of euphoria for me, knowing I'm screwed. I am free and empowered to live my life by example, as Gandhi preached. I still bring my cloth bag to the grocery store. I still plan out my car trips to use the least amount of gas. I keep trying to earn enough money to buy a "smart" or electric car and solar panels. I would love to walk or bike to do my errands, but am stuck here in suburbia. The American Dream is killing the planet. My efforts at reducing my carbon footprint are a tiny drop in the bucket with what's going on out there on such a huge level that no one knows what's really going on anymore. There is no human capable of controlling what appears now to be really out of control. Not the Pope. Not Obama. No one. How do I want to live my life going forward? As happy and healthy as I can, with all the compassion and assistance and energy I can give to making life on this planet as peaceful and beautiful as possible.

Let's all send a prayer to poor New Orleans, still struggling after the last insult of neglect following Hurricane Katrina. Let's say a prayer for ourselves, and a very special apology to our poor Mother Earth, on her day.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Month of "Yes You May"

It's May! And as they sing in "Camelot:" "It's May, It's May, the lusty month of May..." After a very long cold winter, I find I'm turning my thoughts to the magic of spring. The renewal, the miracle that flowers and other plants somehow survive the frigid temperatures and harsh winds of winter to pop up into the sunlight in glorious colors with the most exquisite petals and leaves. Robins and mockingbirds and all sorts of wildlife are reappearing. Wonderful!

We humans have survived, too, and like the flora and fauna around us, are celebrating. Here is a link to the film version of "The Lusty Month of May," from "Camelot" with Vanessa Redgrave as Guenevere. The rituals of the Arthurian legend period, the ninth century, correspond to the cycles of nature, and speak to me in the here and now as they are a natural way for us to express what is happening around us. The sun is warm and the air is sweet! "Spring fever" swells our hearts and brings the excitement of new possibilities!

(I apologize that this blog doesn't allow me to make web addresses like this as a "hot" link, so copy and paste into your browser and you'll enjoy the lyrics and facial expressions).

In Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" with Kenneth Brannaugh and Emma Thompson, they sing a very exuberant "Hey Nonny Nonny" at the conclusion, an impossibly happy, festive, joyously tear-inducing spectacle devoted to happiness and love and the lust for life during this time of the year. To me, the meaning ultimately is when we feel woe, that is the time to sing "Hey Nonny Nonny" to cheer ourselves up. To take life lightly. To those who know me well, this is a real challenge for me. I am a perfectionist, a cynic, hyper-aware of human frailties and negative aspects, and it's difficult for me to be happy much of the time. So, I am trying to lighten up. This a great time of the year to practice.

The choral work "Carmina Burana" by Carl Orff is music for hundreds of voices (men, women and children) written in 1936 and taken from medieval texts in Latin full of the love of life. One chorus sings:

Behold, the pleasant and longed for spring
brings back joyfulness
violet flowers fill the meadows,
the sun brightens everything,
sadness is now at an end!
Summer returns, now withdraw
the rigours of winter. Ah!

Now melts and disappears
ice, snow and the rest,
winter flees, and now
spring sucks at summer's breast.
A wretched soul is he
who does not live
or lust
under summer's rule. Ah!

Bill Moyer's last journal program on PBS (tonight) featured a guest who shared his observation that people today are reserved about expressing joy and passion with each other because they find it difficult to trust the world. It's hard to be intimate with others when we are cautious. I'm talking even about the most simplistic communication, that it's a beautiful day for instance. If the sun makes you want to throw your arms up into the air with your eyes closed, in sheer reverence, I say, do it! If we find success in connecting with others in joyous abandon, that is terrific! Flop down in the grass and watch the clouds float by. Breathe and be grateful to be alive. We only live once. I for one will keep hoping that the happiness I feel at this time of the year — the excitement about new beginnings and possibilities, this state of grace — will catch on like wildfire and have us all dancing around the maypole, saying "YES!", feeling free to frolic as we imagine and experience paradise on the earth now in our lifetimes.

Come dance with me! Let's sing together! Let's trust that it's safe to express joy. I can't do this alone.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

We Are Not Separate

A number of readings, teachings, and experiences in my life lately have reminded me of what the great sages have attributed to the reason we suffer in life: We feel we are separated from each other, animals, and the earth.

I hope some of you were able to catch "Food, Inc." on PBS last week (metro NY area). I knew things were bad in this toxic mix of profits and large-scale handling of our food, but had no idea how bad. Food grown on a homey kind of country farm is now a myth in this country. I tried to shield my eyes and close my ears to the scenes of cruelty to our traditional farm animals – chickens, pigs, cows – but did accidentally see a poor cow unable to stand any longer after being fattened up so much (from forced feeding of corn and things cows don't naturally eat) pushed and hit by men trying to shove the poor creature towards its slaughter. The cow was crying and suffering. That is among the most inhumane acts I can think of. I wonder how humans have evolved to the point where we not only produce food that is like poison for other people, but have no regard for the dignity or suffering of beings that we share this planet with.

But as a contrast, I was fortunate to be treated by my radiant friend Margot to a performance yesterday at City Center in Manhattan of Lori Belilove's Isadora Duncan junior dance company known as the "Beliloveables." (Isadora Duncan's young students were known in her day as the "Isadorables"). Lori's work with these young girls, 6-16 years old, is remarkable for the polished technique enabling the dancers to express the noblest virtue through movement. They show their hearts to the universe, they pass a warm glow to each other, they touch their foreheads and hearts gently, they regard the earth, they joyfully whirl around each other smiling and acknowledging each other in friendship. I felt honored that Lori selected inspiring music by Marjan Mozetich which I introduced to her for one piece, and was flattered to see she put something I said in the program notes: "Seeing the Beliloveables perform restores my faith in humanity." It's true! Look at the photo above! To learn more about the Isadora Duncan Dance Company and Foundation and their extraordinary work:

When we see ourselves as separate from our families, our neighbors, our community, our country and the world, even nature, we are miserable. We are connected by a universal energy. Everything vibrates at a frequency which is part of the entire field of energy we exist in. To think we don't need one another, to think that our actions don't matter, to think that we can deny or hide from the suffering of others is perhaps because we cannot admit that we suffer nor care for ourselves enough to alleviate our own suffering.

In the Yoga Sutras, there are 4 states of mind known as the brahmaviharas: "By cultivating attitudes of friendship toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness." In the Buddhist tradition, the brahmaviharas reflect on social relationships and the interdependent nature of all beings. The Tao teaches that the earth is in essence a reflection of heaven, run by the same laws – not by the laws of men. The more man interferes with the natural balance governed by universal laws, the further away harmony retreats into the distance.

When I discover an ant walking around inside the house in early spring, I put a glass over him, slip a postcard underneath and escort him gently outside. He and little spiders don't mean to be inside our homes. They seek warmth and food just like we do. I don't kill them because of this. They don't mean us any harm. They might look at us and see a huge ogre and are we? I love my cat Margarita and treat her with respect and love, as I would do for any animal. I can't eat them. I can't kill them. I will live fine without killing animals, yet they must die for us to enjoy the taste. To me, it's not necessary to eat meat any longer. Not when we are treating them like inanimate objects for insatiable profit. There are so many of us humans on the earth now (the population of the United States has DOUBLED since I was born) and we can't keep going like this, raping the earth, putting helpless animals into prisons of death, poisoning the earth and ourselves. How will you treat our garden?

In closing, a little verse to start each day:

Waking this morning, I smile,
A brand-new day is before me.
I aspire to live each moment
And to look upon all beings
With the eyes of kindness and
May you, and all other beings, be
happy and free from suffering.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Food, Inc.

Many of you may have heard about "Food, Inc.," an Academy Award nominated documentary about the food business in the United States. I haven't seen it yet, but lots of people I know have and say it's very powerful. I'm mentioning it because on Wednesday night, 4/21, PBS Channel 13 (NY-metro area) is airing it at 9:00 p.m. and I will definitely tune in to watch. And I hope all of you in my area will do so as well! The description of the film: "A revealing look at the U.S. food industry and corporations that put profit before consumer health. This sweeping, shockingly informative documentary recounts how sick animals; environmental degradation; tainted and unhealthy food; and obesity, diabetes and other health issues are only the more obvious problems with a highly mechanized and centralized system, like America's, that touts efficiency as the supreme value in food production."

Sounds like China!

In fact, a news report I heard recently says the fish offered for sale in supermarkets comes largely now from Asia where regulations are loose and is contaminated. Charming, non? Why do we allow this food to enter our country?

I am grateful to have a winter farmer's market here in Norwalk that offers local, fresh food. (See above photo). The produce is grown about 20 miles away in green houses during the colder months by a farming family. The eggs are from a local farm and are a bit smaller and more delicious than what I get at a regular grocery store. The fish was caught the day before and brought to the market by a Maine fisherman. I'm eating in a way that is sustaining both for me (local food which is macro-biotic) and for local business people, not some big corporation here or in Asia. I KNOW where the food comes from. I KNOW it is not tainted. I am eating mostly plant foods, grains, and a bit of fish now and then. I feel healthy and strong.

How does this relate to peace? By not exploiting animals by treating them like they are commodities instead of living beings, nor polluting or clearing land and thus degrading the environment to raise cattle and other animals for food on a mass-production scale. By encouraging everyone to eat local and environmentally-friendly foods to support good health and businesses in their own area. Human health and animal health, both physical and mental, is tremendously important as we all try to live together in ways that bring harmony with each other and with our world. It's hard for people to live up to their personal potentials if they are sick.

As the author Michael Pollan says in his new book, "Food Rules," if it's a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant (factory), don't eat it. Processed food is sort of like plastic. It is food stripped of its nutrients to one degree or another. It's sitting on a shelf for a long time and I gotta wonder what keeps it from going bad. We are not automatons conditioned to think that food comes from a grocery store. We have to remember it is grown in the ground. We can become empowered about our food. What we can't do is sustain all the billions on this planet the way things are going right now. Just because it comes from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, nothing is the same as eating fresh foods and cooking it yourself. When you eat in a restaurant, Lord knows what's on that plate.

Check out my friend Erin's blog:
She and her husband built a small chicken coop, grow herbs indoors, and find ways to economize on natural ways to keep healthy.

Human beings come up with unbelievable ways to go bigger, faster, cheaper. Since we don't grow our own food any longer, we sacrifice our self-sufficiency and knowledge of what is right for us to eat unless we wake up and research ways to get food that really nourishes us. However, we can tend our own small gardens during warmer months and try to support farmer's markets and KNOW that the food we are fueling our bodies with is local and fresh, full of nutrients. We each deserve the very best for ourselves. We are each worth the time and energy. I enjoy how I feel eating this way!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hippocrates: Still Hip Today

With the recent passage of the health care reform bill, the topic of medicine is on many people's minds. We have heard the good, bad, and ugly about modern medicine and how it's managed. My Dad told me once that in his opinion, good health is balanced in three ways: One third by Western medicine, one third by Traditional (natural) medicine, and the remaining third by Ourselves.

Hippocrates, the "father of medicine," seemed to embody this three-fold approach in his teachings. A Greek philosopher and physician born in 460 B.C., Hippocrates based his practice and theories on physical and rational observations and rejected the views of his time that considered illness to be caused by superstitions and by possession of evil spirits and disfavor of the gods. He felt the body should be treated holistically, not just in individual parts. Much of his "prescription" was self-directed.

On his list of methods leading to, and maintaining, good health:

Good diet of fresh foods, in moderate amounts
Walking and moderate exercise
Fresh air
Proper Rest

Here is what Hippocrates said:

“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”

“Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.”

“To do nothing is also a good remedy.”

“Walking is a man's best medicine.”

“Let medicine be thy food, and food be thy medicine."

So sensible, simple, logical! And amazing how far today's medical community has strayed. Hospitals like sealed boxes where patients go days and weeks without exposure to fresh air and sunshine; prescription drugs with powerful and toxic side-effects; doctors who specialize in only one body part as if it was disconnected to the rest of the body; no discussion of massage and other natural treatments; limited time to be heard by your doctor; little regard for the inter-relationship between disease and lifestyle; etc., etc.

A few times, I have mentioned to doctors what Hippocrates taught, and they look at me like I'm nuts. I think today's medical establishment would do well to reexamine what the father of medicine established as the basis for human health. I realize I have been following much of it for years and I feel really good. I'm still working on my inner life, but at least my body is in tip-top shape! I encourage all of my friends and family to resist processed foods, go for a walk or swim, get plenty of sunshine, fresh air, and lots of rest. In the end, one third of our good health resides within our control and TLC. That is very empowering, encouraging, and do-able. Please stay in touch and let me know your success in taking your health into your own hands.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April 4: Prince of Peace Day

Today is Easter, a day celebrating the rebirth of Jesus Christ in the mix with pagan agricultural rituals (thanks to Constantine). It is also April 4, an important date for Martin Luther King, Jr.: When he delivered his important anti-Vietnam War speech for which he was vilified in 1967 and assassinated in 1968. Some say that it was the speech that lead to the assassination, a year to the day. Martin Luther King was a Prince of Peace for Americans, modern Americans, in an age when it matters most.

I keep thinking about Martin Luther King. Perhaps because I saw a moving documentary on PBS this past week about the Vietnam speech, read a very powerful OpEd piece in yesterday's NY Times, and watched the ever-intelligent Bill Moyers Journal on Friday night (PBS) with two scholars talking about MLK's legacy. But I think the reason he is in the forefront of my mind is because I have woken up to his message. His message is relevant today. His message is of course for peaceful, nonviolent means to, well, peace! Peaceful coexistence. Too bad he didn't leave longer. We might be further along on the evolutionary trail. I could say the same thing about Christ, but to me, Christ has a different flavor, more of a mythologic/symbolic figure people have created, but to my mind he is a place where we put our hopes and dreams and requires an unsure leap of faith which is more than my rational mind can make. MLK lived when I was alive. He is in my experience, in my cells.

Martin Luther King, Jr., of course, is known as the civil rights leader in the 1960s who brought (successfully, though hard-won) attention to the second-class status of black people in America. Things really changed in this country back then. White people kicked and screamed and there was violence, but not from MLK's corner. Like Gandhi (who he admired), he resisted violence. Most importantly, MLK brought JUSTICE for black people. For this, his family endured death threats, the bombing of their home, and he was stabbed. Talk about "terrorism!" (One scholar interviewed this week said that poverty is not the opposite of wealth; poverty is the opposite of justice. What a concept!). Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize. Shouldn't we have listened to him? Shouldn't we study and listen to him now?

But once civil rights for blacks was in motion, MLK's conscience became focused on the war we were engaged in, in Vietnam. How wasteful ($) in contrast to the poverty that existed then and still exists today. His awareness of the violence and waste of war really ticked off his supporters, the government (including President Lyndon Johnson), and many others who pigeon-holed him as just a civil rights leader--What was he doing coming out against the war? MLK was accused of being a communist. Imagine, this man, MLK, a man of depth who started to connect the dots between racial inequality, poverty, a government spending precious capital on a violent war overseas being accused of sedition. MLK apparently spent that last year of his life as an outsider, depressed, not understood. Then he was killed. God, it's like Christ. Two men of peace, killed. Like Gandhi. Like RFK. Like Lincoln. Like John Lennon. Always the same. The ones we need the most. The peace-makers. They are too much, we can't handle them, and so we kill them.

If you would like to read Martin Luther King's speech, "Beyond Silence," delivered at Riverside Cathedral in New York on April 4, 1967, here is a link:

Having read the speech (only a portion of it was covered by camera), I come away seeing that Martin Luther King saw plainly where we were--and where we were headed. What he said then, in 1967, could apply to where America is today, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Where we are with the uber-rich Wall Street robbers and the sinking middle class. In the PBS documentary I was lucky to watch last week, one scholar said that Martin Luther King, Jr., is the most important American we have ever produced. That's a huge statement, but I think it is the truth! He kicked ass. He was da bomb. And he acted entirely in peace. That is really huge. How he managed to be peaceful, that is the important part. Talk about will power. We all need to think carefully about America's place in the world. We have been war-mongering violent people. We have feared speaking out in favor of peace. Ask, "Can I go beyond silence?" I suppose, I just have!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Resting Is Important

Usually I write a new blog entry on Sunday evenings, but here it is Monday afternoon on a rainy day.

Although I have a swirl of ideas, feelings, emotions, and thoughts I'd love to share, I am resting/recharging lately and allowing the mental/soul activity to settle before I plunge back into expressing myself here.

It really is important to rest. Sometimes we are forced into it (illness, depletion) or find we rest because we are just feeling a bit blue and that's just how it is. That's when we know that a change is under way. As is appropriate for springtime: In a cocoon, eventually a butterfly!

Will write again soon...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Justice: Reacting to Indignities

Everyday indignities seem to be in my field of awareness right now. I've always been one to speak my mind when I sense an injustice against me or another person, but have noticed my reluctance to voice my opinion for fear of not being "politically correct" and because I am weary of what feels like an endless stream of new and innovative ways we humans inflict misery on each other.

What brings this to mind is the "latest" in medical technology which I was introduced to the other day when I took my mother for an outpatient hospital procedure. I walked in the patient area to find a 1/2" x 2" metallic label stuck on the middle of my mother's forehead. I asked her what that was and she said she didn't know. She laughed it off, but I could tell it offended her, wearing what looked like a UPC code across her forehead (left on for a few hours). Finally, a nurse explained it is a thermometer. Well, that is certainly innovative. In our "self serve" society, not having to take a patient's temperature is convenient for the medical staff but damned undignified for the patient! Like those stickers on raw fruit and vegetables that seemed shocking at first and are now ubiquitous, putting a sticker across a person's forehead is to me very disrespectful. As a friend says, as if branded like cattle and ready for slaughter.

In many cultures and religions, the forehead is a sacred part of the body. In yoga, this is the "mystical third eye" area, where we allow vision, clarity, enlightenment, higher thought to flow. In India, married women paint a red dot between the brows. In Judaism, teffilin (black leather boxes containing sacred scrolls) are worn above the forehead by devout Jewish men. There is symbolic significance to the forehead in Buddhism, Taoism, gnostic texts, and western wisdom teachings as this is the location of pineal and pituitary glands. There is also the connotation of "dunce" or being marked as an outsider. The next time my mother has one of these things stuck to her forehead, I will speak up (with her permission) and ask to have it removed. In a hospital setting, patients get cowed a bit, I think, as you are trusting the staff to do what is "best" for you, and maybe don't feel able or allowed to speak up.

One should always trust one's gut. It never lies. If we see with our mind's eye as well, we become more aware. If we have a voice, we can speak out against injustice (even small indignities) and not stand aside but stay true to ourselves and our beliefs. We can look out for ourselves and for others who might need our assistance. I for one am tired of following "political correctness" and pretending to smile while inside I am angry about another slight, another indignity. We have so much to celebrate, too! But there is a balance. I know in my gut and have seen with my mind's eye that I get more bees with honey than vinegar. That is a way to peace in the world: Speaking with kindness, but speaking what is right!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Movement: Where Is It?

A current topic of conversation for me lately has been whether this country is going down the tubes or not. For me, the answer is yes. But within the spiral downward, I am happy and optimistic about my life.

My husband and I were watching a PBS special tonight about Peter, Paul & Mary. They sang out against injustice in the early 1960s when the civil rights and the Vietnam War movements created a huge social rift. The program showed footage of them singing "Blowing in the Wind" at the 1963 March on Washington when Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. The audience was a wave of people holding hands in the air, displaying a feeling of solidarity, of hope. Where is this sort of movement now?

Perhaps we have too many social and political problems in this country nowadays for any movement to grow up past grassroots efforts into a national presence for change. It seems that in my lifetime America has gone from the most prosperous country in the world (in terms of the average person living a quality middle class life) to a fractured land of too many opportunistic individuals focused on money and fame. I feel powerless, unable to express my frustration with the corruption and neglect I see around me, wishing there was a movement that I could join with my protest sign, singing "We Shall Overcome" or other anthem of change.

But, there is no movement. The children of the 60s haven't done much to make the world a better place. Every year we graduate millions of college students and is the world a better place? President Obama and Congress seem ineffective, "bought," or silenced by the Washington/Corporate Machine. Are people too busy to get out into the streets and protest like the old days? Too stressed? Afraid? Plugged into their iPods? I believe we are all trying very, very hard to hold onto what we have in fear of losing all that we have worked so hard to attain: Home, meaningful work, creature comforts, a safe community, education, transportation, recreation. With the economy the way it is, with people losing their jobs and homes and savings, I have to wonder how we can get ourselves--and this country--out of the situation we are in now. If there is a movement, please let me know. I want to join!

Today's entry on is perfect for this blog. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Decide to Be Happy

I have been thinking a lot lately about happiness. I realize I am very happy. When I consider all of the energy I used over the years being unaware of how simple and easy it is to be happy... well, I'm not sure WHAT I would've done! Traveled more? Had children? Been less self-critical? You might say that these are three things that are my decisions. Aren't they? Who has to give permission for me to travel more? Me, that's who. Happiness is this way, too.

When the Dalai Lama's book, "The Art of Happiness," hit the shelves a few years ago, I ran right out and bought it, ravenous to read through and glean the "secret" I felt had eluded me for so long. The book is an interview with the Dalai Lama and even though he was fine with answering the many questions posed asking him to elaborate on happiness, he insisted throughout that it was really very simple. Are you ready? The secret to happiness is: YOU DECIDE TO BE HAPPY. That is what the Dalai Lama says. The interviewer didn't seem to get it, I guess, because he kept asking complicated questions as if trying to squeeze all the juice out of a lemon.

Have you ever seen the Dalai Lama? Of course you have seen the smile he always has. He is ALWAYS SMILING. Why is this man smiling? He had to flee his country of Tibet within inches of his life, traveling an arduous route through the Himalayas. His fellow monks left behind have endured decades of torture, death, and the Chinese efforts to destroy Tibetan native culture. He has not been able to return to his country since the 1950s. The Dalai Lama has many reasons to be unhappy.

I'll bet you're saying to yourself, "Right!!! Happiness is not a decision. My life is complicated and this is childish." So, does that mean happiness comes from outside somewhere, like from outer space? Is it inherited? Is it given to you, or does it reside inside of you already, repressed perhaps and desiring to come out and play?

Bliss starts right now, right here, from wherever you are in this moment. You can decide to be unhappy and miserable and blame everyone and everything for your problems. Or you can simply accept how things are and have some fun. Do whatever you want. You have permission! No one will mind! In fact, you will attract more positive people and experiences into your life by being happy and upbeat. Not falsely. It can be genuine. You have one life to live. You can live it as a sour puss or you can be a glowing ball of happiness. This is important for peace: Everyone has a gift and your authentic self is crying out to shine and be free, and this spreads person by person. This is not a myth. Let's have a party!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Teachings: A Respectful Being

In the past few weeks, I have noticed a flood of wonderful teachings come my way and I want to share some of them with you. I find they interlace with each other and have a common bond, which is respect: acting from an awareness that everything is sacred and our bodies and the world are the same temple.

When visiting the Rubin Museum of Art in the city (which specializes in art of the Himalayas) on Valentine's Day, there was an exhibit of Jain Images of Perfection. Jainism has an ancient past and is one of India's three classical religions together with Hinduism and Buddhism. According to the brochure, "At the heart of Jainism is an ethic of nonviolence, ahimsa, and a respect for all living things. Ahimsa continues to guide the daily lives of all Jains, who are strict vegetarians. An ancient faith emphasizing the sanctity of all life, Jainism was an influence on the nonviolent political movement of Mahatma Gandhi."

In this month's Yoga Journal, a short article is centered around having respect for all things, living or not. Showing respect for your home by removing your shoes when you enter. Not slamming doors. Hanging your clothes instead of dropping them on the floor. Being grateful for a warm blanket. Leaving a place better than the way you found it. The author says, "When I respect my wife, she is kinder to me. Likewise, with loving care, a tree will bear us sweeter fruit. If we do not respect other people, they will not be willing to help us when we are in need. If we do not respect the planet, it will not remain habitable."

An article I read in The New York Times Magazine recently talks about a new theory in psychology, called "ecopsychology," which is dedicated to the relationship between environmental issues and mental health and well-being." Glenn Albrecht, a professor in Australia, writes about the term he devised called solastalgia, a word that comes from Latin and Greek and is defined as "the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault, a feeling of homesickness while still being home." Albrecht estimates that solastalgia "is a global condition, felt to a greater or lesser degree by different people in different locations but felt increasingly, given the ongoing degradation of the environment."

And in my "More Language of Letting Go" daily reader, the entry today shares a few words about work. You can do an average job of it, or really put your best into it and make it a wonderful, rewarding experience. It shows a tremendous amount of self-respect when you take charge and give your very best to everything you do. I have success with it when I do... clients respond, work seems to pour in more and more, and I feel more fulfilled with my career.

I find that when I have respect for the tiniest of creatures (I always escort ants and spiders outside in a glass and never, ever kill them), for my home, for my body, for those close to me, for strangers, for my work, for the earth itself, I feel better about myself because good energy goes out and returns to me. I have much more I would like to do, like walking more instead of driving/polluting, being more compassionate when out in the congested area where I live. It certainly is challenging to find peaceful solutions in our complicated modern society. But I think it is the many small efforts of respect we make that add up to truly living in the present moment, and when we live in the present moment, we find the luxury to be in harmony with all that is.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Body: Spring-Cleaning

My niece Laura just joined as a follower of this blog, and I am thrilled! For her 21st birthday this past December, I gave Laura a necklace that her Uncle Joe (my late husband) had given me. It is a pretty chain with a silver pendant that is inscribed, in Chinese, "Bone & Spirit" and I wanted Laura to have it because she is a girl who exemplifies being able to exist with "her head in the sky and her feet on the ground." A very balanced individual, she is! Welcome Laura, to Auntie Audrey's blog world.

All this rain and hearing the birds singing is giving me confidence that spring is just around the corner. When the seasons change, my body wants to change, too. I know this because my taste in foods changes and I am itching to move around more. I promised you all the cleansing diet, "Jumpstart Detox Program," passed along to me by my sister in law Adele, and will post it at the end of this entry.

Adele and I had attended a workshop last spring that introduced springtime foods and the concept of eating a seasonal diet. It makes so much sense to be in tune with our natural surroundings! Macrobiotic diets are basically made up of local, seasonal foods. Why do we eat tropical fruit in the middle of winter in the north? It is contrary to our natural existence. But we do indulge because we can, living in a global village where goods are available to us from far-flung places in all seasons. For me, I keep these regional/seasonal oddities to a minimum.

The detox diet below is not the one and only answer, but it is perhaps a start towards cleansing the body of toxins that have built up after being indoors too long without enough exercise, and living in a polluted environment. Adele and my niece Victoria both took on this week-long diet and I think were aided by having each other as a team. Victoria, who is 20, showed amazing willpower and even took some "ribbing" from friends who seem both impressed and horrified by her ability to be so healthy in the face of Taco Bell and other tempting junk food that her pals eat regularly. In fact, Victoria found new energy to get up in the morning more refreshed with plenty of vitality all day long. She glows with good health and that is rare in someone so young to embrace a healthy lifestyle. She says she is trying to stick to the diet as much as possible because it makes her feel so good!

The diet might be difficult during the first couple of days, but you will find your rhythm and start feeling lighter and brighter. As you can see, it is not a starvation diet! It might encourage you to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and fewer processed grains or sugary and fatty foods. As Michael Pollen says in his new book, "Food Rules," if it's a plant, eat it. If it's made in a plant (factory), don't eat it. I don't eat frozen foods at all except for pesto that I freeze after making it from my garden herbs. I avoid food that comes in cans (except sardines) since cans have BPA leaching out of them. I cook from scratch every night or make batches that I can eat as leftovers within the next day or two. Fresh, baby, FRESH!!! I like knowing exactly what I am eating.

I hope you will enjoy either embarking on the detox diet, or contemplating it. Read through and see if you can at least make changes along the way. Awareness is the goal. There is no pressure or competition here! They say, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." A healthy, natural diet is important to health. Finding the right diet for YOU, at this phase of life, is the most important thing. If you are not feeling as good as you'd like to, then you can make changes. You will thank yourself! Good health is important for inner peace and vice versa... and leads to peace everywhere.

"Jumpstart Detox Program"
Duration 1 Week
Dietary Recommendations:
1. No sodas, alcohol, gluten (wheat, rye, oats, barley, spelt, corn, soy) or dairy foods (milk, cheese, yogurt) or any foods NOT listed below.
2. Start your morning off with hot water with fresh lemon 1/2 hr. before eating. Drink at least 64 oz. of fluids/day.
3. Have 1 or more servings of 1 teaspoon flax meal in 8 oz. of water in between meals. Drink 3 hrs. away from any medications or supplements.
4. Organic ingredients are always best.

"Fabulous Fruit Smoothie" (see recipe below), or veggie omlette with 1/2 cup berries on the side, or 1/2 hard-boiled egg with celery stalks and 1/2 cup berries on the side.

Mid-Morning Snack:
1/2 to 1 cup low glycemic index fresh fruit (apples, blackberries, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, oranges, peaches, pears, raspberries and strawberries) and nuts (raw, unsalted, no peanuts--almonds are a good choice): 5 nuts for women, 10 nuts for men.

Start with 1 cup Alkaline Broth (see previous blog post, Feb. 18, "Healthy Broth: Listen to Your Body" for recipe). 1 or more cups mixed greens and non-starchy vegetables (avoid primarily beans and potatoes) with olive vinaigrette and 1 teaspoon flax meal. 4-6 oz. of protein (turkey, chicken or fish--no red meat) or eggs if vegetarian.

Mid-Afternoon Snack:
1 cup raw veggies with 1/4 cup guacamole or salsa (no sugar, low salt).

Similar to lunch: Start with 1 cup Alkaline Broth (see previous blog post, Feb. 18, "Healthy Broth: Listen to Your Body" for recipe). 1 or more cups mixed greens and non-starchy vegetables (avoid primarily beans and potatoes) with olive vinaigrette and 1 teaspoon flax meal. 4-6 oz. of protein (turkey, chicken or fish--no red meat) or eggs if vegetarian.

Throughout the Day:
Drink decaf green tea, herbal tea, or warm water with lemon.

"Fabulous Fruit Smoothie"
Organic ingredients are best
1 cup fresh fruit ( berries, peaches, pineapple, etc.)
1/2 banana
1 scoop protein powder ("Whey Cool" is a good brand)
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
8 oz. cran-water or plain purified or filtered water
Big dash of cinnamon
Dash of vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Mix until rich and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. To make cran-water, fill a 32 oz. container (glass or stable plastic) with 4 oz. unsweetened cranberry juice and 28 oz. of pure, filtered water.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Affirmations: Connecting Peace & Health

Sometimes at bedtime, or on Sunday night, I like to read soothing wisdom that both helps me make sense of my day and prepares me in a positive way for the day/week ahead. We all have successes and failures each day and I find solace in readings that acknowledge the journey. Again and again I discover how intertwined good health is with inner peace, and how our thoughts and actions ripple out into the world. These affirmations, more than anything else, help me be kinder to myself. I actually feel myself sighing as I read because I feel I have permission to stop being so hard on myself for what I did or didn't do "right."

My life coach Joy ( shared with me and other students in our teleclass a set of affirmations from Bellaruth (a guided imagery pioneer and psychotherapist), 30 in all, which flow in a sequence that is to me relaxing, full of inner truth, empowering, and reminds me of the important connection between peace and health. I hope you will enjoy reading these simple and powerful affirmations. You can copy and paste them into a document to keep by your bedside, as I have done! Please share them with your friends, and the recipes and entries on my blog. That's why I write to you! My next blog post will feature the detox cleansing diet of which the Alkaline Broth is one component, this week.

"Affirmations from Bellaruth"

I know there are times when I become worried, pressured, angry or sad and I accept what I feel as my inner truth of the moment.

I know that the more I can acknowledge and accept my feelings without criticism or blame, the more I allow myself to become peaceful, calm and well.

I know that the more I clear my mind and set aside needless worry, the more I allow myself to become peaceful, calm and well.

More and more, I can release the thoughts and feelings that disturb my inner sense of balance and peace. I can send them out with the breath in the interest of my own well-being.

More and more, I can let go of worrying about things I cannot control and focus on my own inner peacefulness.

More and more, I am in touch with the peaceful stillness at my center… sweet, balanced and steady.

I know that when I can soften and let go of harsh expectations and unrealistic demands on myself and others, I allow myself to be peaceful, calm and well.

I know that when I can forgive myself and others for errors of the past, I allow myself to be peaceful, calm and well.

More and more, I see that when I can love and appreciate myself and take time to care for myself, I am giving my body a powerful message to be calm and well.

I understand that the time to be motivated by guilt or fear or mindless pressure is over. Now is the time to do things out of love and celebration and the joy of self-expression.

More and more, I can appreciate my body, respect it and take good care of it.

I call upon my intention to bring more calm and well-being into my life.

I engage my powerful will to help me with this.

I invite assistance from my friends and loved ones – past, present and future – to lend me their support and strength. I see myself surrounded by their love and caring and I feel it all over my body like a warm wave.

The blueprint that I hold in my mind’s eye is the picture of myself – vital, strong and active… focused, joyful and fulfilled.

I see my body for what it truly is, my oldest friend and my steadiest companion.

I am no longer willing to push and pull myself around without regard for my own health and well-being. I’ll show the same love and concern for my body as I would for any dear and valued friend.

More and more, I can consider the possibility that my body is trying to teach me something useful and that these times of stress are simply signals to slow down, focus inward and be kinder to myself.

More and more, I can notice when muscles tense and tighten in my body and I can soften and release them with my awareness and my breathing.

More and more, I can soften and relax tension in my scalp, face, neck and shoulders.

I know that when I stay connected to my body when I am truly conscious of how it feels, I allow myself to be peaceful, calm and well.

I know that when I can live in the present taking pleasure in the beauty and aliveness of each moment, I allow myself to be peaceful, calm and well.

More and more, I can see the beauty of others and the beauty of my surroundings. More and more, I can see the beauty of my own being.

I can see and feel radiant sunlight entering and warming my body, penetrating into the places that are tight or tense or sore, and loosening, dissolving and dispersing them.

I can see and feel a powerful blue-green wave of peace and healing washing through me from head to toe, clearing out tension and taking it out with the tide.

I can see and feel a warm, pulsing, glowing blanket of magical comfort surrounding me, enveloping me with a feeling of peace and safety as it soaks its healing warmth into me.

I salute my own courage, commitment and strength in my efforts to take charge of my own health, calm and well-being.

I know that I have things to do, gifts to give, purposes to accomplish, and I require a strong, health body and clear, peaceful mind for this.

More and more, I know I will look after myself, not out of fear of illness, but out of love and respect for myself and my life.

More and more, I know that I am held in the hands of the Divine and I am perfectly, utterly safe. And so I am.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Healthy Broth: Listen to Your Body

When you have nothing to say, best not to say anything. That's how I've felt the past week, but here I am again! I go through periods of activity/inactivity, as we all do, and take time to process experiences and feelings before feeling ready to share my thoughts.

I have been inspired in this post to share a wonderful, super-healthy broth recipe passed along by my sister in law, Adele, which I hope many of you will want to try making... and enjoying. Adele has spent many years in her own health quest and has been a constant source of helpful natural remedies and food knowledge, and I am very grateful to her for this as I feel healthier as time goes on.

Our American-style diets tend to include foods that are on the acidic side (coffee and tea, vinegar, sweets, dairy, meat), so it's good to balance ourselves out by consuming foods that are alkaline. (You can Google acid/alkaline charts to see what foods to eat and/or avoid). The broth recipe that follows is an Alkaline Broth (the photo above is my soup pot last evening with everything ready to start simmering before I put a lid on it). It's really easy to make from common ingredients, and you drain everything and keep only the broth. I made a batch last night and drank several cups of it today and I feel great! There is nothing but the vegetable juice--no salt or olive oil or anything added AT ALL. It's very pure in other words. A good way to de-toxify, too! You can drink it hot, warm, or cold, and sip it during the day. Adele suggested drinking a glass before a meal and that way you are partly filled up and won't tend to stuff yourself as much with your meal. I can see the value of making this broth before each new season, to cleanse the body.

After you go through a few days of drinking this special and pure broth, see how your body feels. Check in with it and see if it responds favorably... More energy? Feel lighter? Is your body thanking you for this gift? After all, you really are giving it a gift and that intention is full of positive energy in your self-care. Paying attention to the needs of our body and showing it respect is important as this is the shell we exist in all the days of our lives. For me, protecting my health is my primary job. Without my health, everything is more difficult. With my health, everything is possible.

Bon appetit! Please, let me know how you enjoy this simple and yet powerful "elixir." Thanks, again, Adele!

3 stalks celery or bok choy
3 carrots
1 large onion or 2 garlic cloves
1 cup spinach leaves
6 red-skinned unpeeled potatoes

All veggies should be organic. Cover vegetables with water in a big non-aluminum soup pot. Let cook until broth has a rich flavor (approx. 2-3 hours). Strain and discard vegetables. Drink hot or cold.

(Notes: I put in a small handful of carrot greens since I didn't have many parsley sprigs on hand. I also used both onions and garlic. After straining, I kept the cooked veggies to puree and either use as a thicker soup base or sauce).