Sunday, July 26, 2009
Like a ball batted back and forth, a human being is batted by two forces within.
-- Yogabindu Upanishad
How apt is that Yogic scripture in describing the reality of my daily life. I'm constantly called upon to make decisions between instant gratification and choices that truly serve me, between mediocre and masterful, between going with the status quo and looking deeply and choosing wisely.
Eknath Easwaran, one of my teachers for many years, with whom I gathered with many others each week in Petaluma, California, is an amazing wordsmith, using his enlightened mind/heart to communicate Truth succinctly and lucidly--
"As human beings we have a divided nature â€“ partly physical, but essentially spiritual. We are constantly batted by two conflicting forces. One force is the fierce downward thrust of our past conditioning as separate, self-oriented, physical creatures. Yet built into our very nature is an inner drive that will not let us be satisfied with a life governed only by biological laws. Some inner evolutionary imperative is constantly exhorting us to grow, to reach for the highest that we can conceive."
May this be a day of aligning with the force that helps me to grow and continue "to reach for the highest" in every choice -- from food, to how I choreograph the day!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I'm headed out of town for a few days. My friend Robert's mother, who is also dear to me, has had a severe stroke. Her life has always consisted of serving others. In recent years, because of many factors (not her health, though, which has always been excellent), she has not been able to be out-and-about, so this simple woman, a saint really, chose to become a Prayer Warrior. For many years she has devoted the first two early hours of the day to prayer for those in her immediate circle, and ever-expanding circle.
This seems an apt commentary to dedicate to her and her life of service. The commentary is for all of us though, really. Easwaran's words of wisdom tell us the truth so lucidly in our journey toward wellnesa of body, mind, and spirit.
Use the light.
Come home to your true nature.
Don’t cause yourself injury:
This is known as seizing the truth.
-– Lao Tzu
As human beings, we have been born with the capacity to make choices. No other creature has this capacity, and no human being can avoid this responsibility. Every day, whether we see it or not, we have a choice of two alternatives in what we do, say, and think.
These alternatives are: what is pleasant and what is beneficial. The first pleases us now. The second may be unpleasant at the beginning, as anyone who has begun a physical fitness program knows; but it will improve our health and contribute to our peace of mind.
Both choices promise satisfaction. One we get immediately, but it comes and goes; the other requires effort, but its benefits stay with us and often benefit those around us as well.
-- Eknath Easwaran
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I'm giving serious thought to going to this one-day program on Saturday, September 26. I would drive up to Cincinnati on Friday (like 10+ hours of driving) and drive home Sunday and that's not at all daunting, since I'm a veteran driver after 11 years with the sweater co-op traversing the country. I live about an hour north of Little Rock, in Conway, Arkansas, off of I-40. If anyone wants to discuss carpooling, let me know! Here's the route -- I-40 East to Nashville; I-65 North to Louisville; I-71 North to Cincinnati.
The cost is $50.00 for registration prior to August 31, 2009. After August 31, 2009 the price goes up to $80.00. I joined the "Spark Your Life" Convention Cincinnati Team to keep up with all the developments. www.sparkpeople.com/myspark/groups_i
Here's the convention agenda which I find quite appealing, both in terms of presenters and topics: www.sparkpeoplestore.com/cincinnati/
In prior years I've actually set up at the Greater Cincinnati Convention Center, where it's being held, and sold sweaters!
AND I just discovered that sisters Tracy ("T" or "Tee") and LynnAnn will be there, and Carolyn is THINKING of going. The three are Thanksgiving Community Team members.
So WHO ELSE might be going???
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I am so aware of how the waxing and waning of the emotions affects every part of my life. For example -- if someone lets me down I become sad, then my energy flags, negativity can sneak in, I have less motivation for self-care, and the downward spiral continues, ad naseum.
The Bhagavad Gita (Easwaran's translation) speaks precisely to this dilemma and the importance of training the mind as the way out in Chapter 2:50:
"When consciousness is unified, all anxiety is left behind. There is no cause for worry, whether things go well or ill. Therefore, devote yourself to the disciplines of yoga, for yoga is skill in action."
My goal is to live life skillfully and in balance in spite of the rocky moments and difficult situations that come my way. That is the best way to care for myself on all levels -- body, mind, and spirit. Stevenson and Easwaran explain it beautifully:
Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.
-- Robert Louis Stevenson
When the mind gets agitated, we do not see life as it truly is, as one. It is the constant agitation going on in our mind that deludes us into believing that you and I are separate.
The question we may well ask is, "If we are to have neither pleasure nor pain in life, are we not likely to become insensitive to the joy of life?" This doubt arises from a wrong assumption, that there is only pleasure and pain and nothing else. Always cutting things up into two classes -- everything must be either this or that -- is one of the fatal weaknesses of the intellect. Because of this dualistic trap, we find it difficult to understand that the rare person who is able to receive good fortune without getting excited, and bad fortune without getting depressed, lives in abiding joy.
-- Eknath Easwaran
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Important information! I'm just gonna' copy-and-paste. It's from the Organic Consumers Association newsletter (which I HIGHLY recommend) --
1. Sodium nitrite
2. BHA & BHT
3 . Propyl gallate
4. Monosodium glutamate
5 . Trans fats
6 . Aspartame
8. Food colorings (Blue & , Red , Green , Yellow )
10. Potassium bromate
11. White sugar
12. Sodium chloride
There are many reasons that some people choose to shop and eat a completely organic range of foods, but the primary reason seems to center around the additives in various non-organic food items. Those additives have been studied and linked to various diseases, and instead of taking the chance that unhealthy preservatives and flavorings might be integrated into grocery store items, people often opt for the strictly organic route so as to avoid them altogether.
But everyone cannot afford the prices of organic foods or the time it takes to shop at specialty markets for them. Thus, becoming informed about the additives in everyday food items can make for an easier shopping experience and healthier items being ingested by everyone. In addition, a mass boycott of foods that contain such additives could prompt food manufacturers to remove such harmful ingredients from their products in the future.
Thanks to MSN Health & Fitness contributor Jean Weiss, a list of the most medically questionable and harmful additives in everyday foods has been compiled to educate the masses. There are several that may be recognizable due to news reports and popular opinion, but others may be new to some and worthy of notation.
One of the most common additives in food is the preservative, which can come in different forms. Sodium nitrite is one of them, as it is added to not only preserve food but to add color and flavor to meat products, most commonly bacon, ham, hot dogs, sandwich meats, and smoked fish. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydrozyttoluene) are other preservatives added to foods like cereal, gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils to prevent them from oxidizing. And propyl gallate has similar de-oxidizing values and is found in meats, chicken soup base, and gum. All of these preservatives have been found to cause cancer through certain types of food preparation, such as cooking meat at high temperatures. Though the studies are not conclusive and mostly conducted on animals, all of them contain reactive compounds that can be harmful.
As far as flavoring, monosodium glutamate (MSG) used to be a very common amino acid used in restaurant foods, soups, and salad dressings, though most food preparers and manufacturers have removed it from their list of ingredients. Beware of canned and frozen foods that still may attempt to use it, as MSG can cause migraines and other adverse effects. Trans fats are also being eliminated from most foods, as the studies linking them to heart disease, strokes, and kidney problems are widely-accepted.
Sweeteners are another item to avoid when possible. Aspartame is found in products like Nutrasweet and Equal as well as diet foods and soft drinks. And acesulfame-K is a newer sweetener used in soft drinks and some baked goods. These products, only preliminarily linked to cancer, have the same negative nutritional value as white sugar, all of which should be minimized in any diet.
Many food colorings have been banned by the FDA but some can still be found in foods that require a particular color. And Olestra is a product also discouraged by health food organizations that is rarely used anymore, though was common for a time in potato chips as an additive that prevented fat from being absorbed in the digestive system. Each of these items should be avoided at all costs, as the food colorings have been tied to cancer and Olestra simply blocks vitamins from being processed through the body and blocks the digestive process from functioning normally.
Potassium bromate is sometimes added to white flour, breads, and rolls to increase the volume of the products, but there are cancer-causing properties that have prompted some states in America to actually require a label to that effect.
Finally, sodium chloride is also known as salt, and though it is a common additive in many—if not most—foods, it can be dangerous if not kept to a minimum. Large doses can lead to heart and blood pressure problems, as well as strokes and kidney failure.
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