Monday, September 21, 2009
By Cait Johnson, author of Earth,Water, Fire, and Air (SkyLight Paths, 2003).
We are often urged to practice peace with every step. But how closely do our behaviors match up to this ideal?
Here's a fun quiz to give you an idea of where you fit in on the spectrum of peace. You may want to share it with your friends and co-workers! Take the Peace Quotient Quiz here to see how well you practice peace in your daily life:
Which of the following is CLOSEST to the response you would usually have to the following situations?
1. When someone tailgates me, I usually:
a. Mouth obscenities at them or flip them the bird.
b. Slow down to really, really aggravate them.
c. Pull over so they can pass me.
2. When a salesperson is really snippy to me, I usually:
a. Snarl at them or make rude remarks to them.
b. Report them to their supervisor.
c. Make an effort to be especially friendly, since they must be having a bad day.
3. When a serious misunderstanding crops up between me and a friend, I usually:
a. Yell at the person or write them a nasty note.
b. Talk behind the person's back to our other friends, to make sure everyone is on my side.
c. Suggest a meeting so we can talk the problem through.
4. A loved one is very upset with me for something I did. I usually:
a. Remind him or her of the obnoxious things she or he has done in the past. The best defense is a good offense!
b. Get back at them by giving them the cold shoulder and punishing them with silence.
c. Empathize with them for feeling upset.
5. After an especially grueling day at work, I usually:
a. Take it out on those nearest and dearest to me. I can be a real bear!
b. Pour myself a stiff drink or flip on the television.
c. Take a brisk walk, meditate, or take a soothing bath to wind down and de-stress.
6. In my group of friends or relatives, I am usually:
a. The cause of conflicts, or at least at the center of them.
b. The one who keeps conflicts going by talking about people behind their backs.
c. The person others come to for advice on resolving conflicts.
7. The following most clearly sums up my attitude to life in general:
a. Nuke 'em. Or, sue the bastards.
b. Trust no one. Everyone is out for themselves.
c. We're all in this together, so we may as well do our best to get along.
If you answered mostly "a," you tend to be a bit belligerent and pugnacious. You might benefit from an anger management course! And have you had your blood pressure checked lately?
If you answered mostly "b," you are more passive-aggressive. You usually avoid direct confrontation, but you're not exactly promoting peace, either. You might want to get some assertiveness training so you can be more direct without being aggressive.
If you answered mostly "c," congratulations! You are doing your best to being peace and understanding to your little corner of the world.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
OMG! If ONLY I could truly integrate and LIVE this I would be at my goal weight and living each day with joy, presence and mindfulness:
By Susan Corso, Ode Magazine
Acceptance is the key to change, and the key to peace.
"On the other side of acceptance is where peace exists, where the solutions are," says Ariane de Bonvoisin, author of The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Making Any Change Easier, quoted in the August 2009 Guideposts.
In 27 years of counseling, I have found that what Ms. De Bonvoisin says is always true. Always. No exceptions.
Do you believe me?
The opposite of acceptance is resistance, and strangely, resistance is what magnetizes to us exactly what we don't want. In facing whatever we don't want, and accepting it as it is, we are then able to reach peace around whatever the 'it' is.
Try this scenario: You really dislike your current job. Really dislike it. You want to quit, but for various reasons, you can't. Rather than continue to resist the job, begin to find things you can appreciate (and therefore accept) about it. I've seen it work over and over again. When acceptance comes, change can happen.
Think of the thing you most resist in your current life. It could be a relationship, a task, an assignment, anything. Notice your own resistance to it. Begin to switch your resistance to appreciation, and you will find yourself living into acceptance of what is. Once you accept what is, it's pretty easy to change it.
One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is that we actually resist peace on this planet. We make peace a when/then possibility. When I lose 15 pounds, then I'll be at peace. Why not be at peace with the 15 pounds, and let them melt away?
When there's a Republican/Democrat in the White House, then I'll be at peace. Why?
When I'm out of debt, then I'll be at peace. Why? Why wait to be at peace? What do you get from waiting, from postponing peace? I don't think we get any benefit from it.
Like the gift of the present moment, peace can only exist in this momen--now. And then the next now. Delaying it doesn't help anyone.
Try acceptance if you want peace.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
...by my teacher, Swami Satchidananda:
"We do not know how much we have done before and how much we have to suffer to undo those deeds but the karmic law knows it. Sometimes, to us, it may seem to be terrible suffering; still, we should accept and undergo that suffering. There is no intention to destroy a person by giving him or her more hardship. The intention is to purify the person, so the suffering and the hardship come according to the capacity of the individual. If you face it with all courage, even the suffering becomes very mild. It is up to you. In fact, pain becomes stronger or milder according to how one faces it.
"OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti."
I understand that the Law of Cause and Effect impacts, and is impacted by, every aspect of life, from my manner of living and caring for myself and others, to my interest in and success with conscious living. It's rather mind-blowing in its implication. EVERYTHING I do (Every cause), good or bad, conscious or unconscious, has an effect. So it behooves me to make strong effort to, "Do good and be good," as the great teacher Master Sivananda recommends.
Friday, September 18, 2009
(and on the filter!) Here's why:
Last year Americans spent 15 billion dollars on bottled water and the sales estimate for 2007 is 16 billion dollars. One can argue that itâ€™s money down the drain because the truth has been watered down by some of the largest bottlers. About 24% of bottled water is just filtered tap water; like Aquafina and Dasani.
You can achieve exactly the same quality of water by installing a filter on your faucet at home. If the cost ($100 or less) of purchasing a filter for your home causes you to hesitate, consider this; you can buy a half-liter of bottled water for $1.35. If you filled this same bottle with filtered tap water once a day, it would take roughly 10 years before you spent that $1.35. However, if you purchased one bottle of water every day, after 10 years you will have spent $4,927.50.
GET OFF THE BOTTLE
Besides the incredible savings that you get with filtered tap water, there are environmental and socially responsible reasons that just strengthen the case for the tap.
Environmental Reasons - Plastic is a petroleum based product. The pollutants associated with the manufacture and transportation of these plastic bottles is unnecessarily damaging to the environment. Of the 50 billion plastic water bottles used last year, about 38 billion went straight to landfills. The plastic in those landfilled bottles is worth around $1 billion. 12 billion bottles were recycled, but remember that plastic doesnâ€™t recycle into the same quality plastic. It can only be recycled a finite number of times before it can no longer be recycled.
Socially Responsible Reasons - Like other water from pristine ecosystems, Fiji bottled water is collected from natural sources and shipped halfway across the earth to the US where we already have clean drinking water in every home. Unfortunately, Fiji doesnâ€™t have a great public water system and last year Fijians fell ill with typhoid casued by contaminated drinking water. When over 1 billion people in the world donâ€™t have access to safe drinking water, buying bottled water with all its associated financial, environmental and social costs seems irresponsible â€“ especially when a home filter gives you the same or better quality water than bottled water.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
OMG! I've been struggling ferociously with my will, my senses since school started. Though I'm managing to handle the assignments well enough, I'm not handling anything else well...my eating is out of control, I'm not exercising, my living space is chaotic...what's going on??? A friend I spoke with the other day suggested that returning to university after 25 years of being in an academic environment amid a group of young adults 45 years younger than me requires some gentleness with myself. I'm adapting, she said, to a whole new set of behaviors and requirements and she thinks I'll return to greater balance with time...?
What's clear in any case is that I'm still not "master of my life." The lifetime process of learning to train the out-of-control senses continues. Perhaps Sri Easwaran's words will provide a platform for different behavior on this new day! I have yoga ahead and plan to stay for cardio on the elliptical. Baby steps. Here's to pursuing the "healing we took birth for!"
Even as a tortoise draws in its limbs, the wise can draw in their senses at will.
-- Bhagavad Gita
What a marvelous simile! Just imagine a tortoise being approached by a group of school children with sticks in their hands. He sees the children coming, and the command is given to the limbs, "Retire!" Immediately, the head, the tail, and the four legs withdraw into the shell. The children come; they tap on the shell with their sticks, trying to get the tortoise to come out. He is safe inside.
After the children leave and all is quiet, the tortoise ventures to stick his neck out, then his tail and legs. He continues his journey, unconcerned. He goes where he likes.
If we want to live in freedom, we must train our senses. We learn when to welcome an experience, and when to withdraw for our own safety. We become masters of our lives. Then we will be like the giant tortoise I saw at the zoo -- wandering freely while all the other animals were in cages. A notice on his back read: "I am free. Don't report me to the management."
-- Eknath Easwaran
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