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.
Monday, July 06, 2009
It's scary (big surprise) how quickly the structure of careful eating and enthusiastic exercise can become history...from one day to the next. I woke up this morning, discouraged by my weekend *performance* and feeling like continuing with the down hill slide.
And then I began reading this morning's poetry offering, written by an ancient Greek philosopher. And I read it a second time, startled at how deeply it resonated with me. And I looked within and realized that I have been given a new day, ready to be choreographed as I choose. So, I am going to stop giving myself needless trouble, I am going to give my best to fully inhabit the situation I am in now. I am "not some disinterested bystander" -- this is my life!
CARETAKE THIS MOMENT
Caretake this moment.
Immerse yourself in its particulars.
Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed.
Quit the evasions.
Stop giving yourself needless trouble.
It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.
You are not some disinterested bystander.
Respect your partnership with providence.
Ask yourself often, How may I perform this particular deed
such that it would be consistent with and acceptable to the divine will?
Heed the answer and get to work.
When your doors are shut and your room is dark you are not alone.
The will of nature is within you as your natural genius is within.
Listen to its importunings.
Follow its directives.
As concerns the art of living, the material is your own life.
No great thing is created suddenly.
There must be time.
Give your best and always be kind.
(ca. 55-ca. 135), Greek Stoic philosopher
(Epictetus: The Art of Living, a New Interpretation by Sharon Lebell.)
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The world is going totally bonkers and I'm ready for some *serious levity.* Who better to deliver it than Rob Brezsny --
PRAYER OF GRATITUDE TO THE TRICKY GODDESS OF BENEVOLENT MISCHIEF
All hail the Tricky Goddess of Benevolent Mischief, also known as the Cosmic Instigator of Healing Trouble. Let us praise and ratify her ingenious plan to turn the status quo upside-down.
The vivid exposure of greed, corruption, and delusion among the top echelons of the American political and financial hierarchy is a blessing on all of humanity.
The eruption of fertile chaos is making it difficult to carry on with business as usual, and we could not have received a more energizing gift.
Oh Wise Trickster Goddess, You Compassionate Conjurer of Relentless Change, You Righteous Rascal in Charge of Keeping a Steady Flow of Sacred Uproar Pouring into Our Lives:
Please continue to influence the masters of plutocracy and war and their media minions to be ever-more obvious as they spin out their perversions of your glorious creation, so that more and more of our sleeping tribe will wake up to the Open Secret.
Inspire the enforcers of mass hallucination to display their hypocrisy in an ever-escalating melodrama of spittle flecks and sour faces, as in a slapstick morality play from the Middle Ages, so that we, their captive audience, may convulse with purgative guffaws that shatter the mass hallucination.
And if you don't mind, Sweet Divine Rebel Goddess, please allow us to nurture a spark of hope that the breakdown in the Way Things Have Always Been Done will lead to fresh, hot, tidal-wave breakthroughs of beauty, truth, justice, equality and love everywhere we turn.
-- Rob Brezsny (from his book Pronoia, the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings)
Friday, June 19, 2009
I truly consider smart care of this *bag o'bones* to be part of my sadhana, my spiritual practice. To eat consciously, to keep my heart and bones healthy, are aspects of the stewardship of this "body-temple" to which I've been entrusted.
It's the work of a lifetime. I have failed miserably many times, but slowly, slowly I'm learning and applying the lessons of this lifetime for greater body-mind-spirit health!
As usual Sri Easwarn captures it beautifully. And the initial quote of St. Teresa is awesome as well! Consider:
Do not be dismayed, daughters, at the number of things which you have to consider before setting out on this divine journey, which is the royal road to heaven. By taking this road we gain such precious treasures that it is no wonder if the cost seems to us a high one. The time will come when we shall realize that all we have paid has been nothing at all by comparison with the greatness of our prize.
-â€“ Saint Teresa of Avila
Those who offer instant enlightenment mislead us. After all, we have to bring the mind itself under control, and there is no more difficult task in life. We should be prepared for a lifetime of challenge. But then, we need challenges, or we stagnate. If you want to judge your progress, ask yourself these questions: Am I more loving? Is my judgment sounder? Do I have more energy? Can my mind remain calm under provocation? Am I free from the conditioning of anger, fear, and greed? Spiritual awareness reveals itself eloquently in character development and selfless action. Authentic spiritual experience changes the way you see the world and the way you live.
-- Eknath Easwaran
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