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
Monday, September 07, 2009
I'm juxtaposing two pieces that show the great potential of the human spirit for GOOD or EVIL...and how far we still have to go. I begin with Eknath Easwaran, a favorite teacher, as any of you who read my offerings can testify. I then segue into an excerpt of a difficult-to-hear piece by American cultural critic Henry A. Gireaux, a portion focusing primarily on movies and television.
We really need to wake up before it's too late, beginning by doing the difficult and ongoing inner work of removing the hostility within ourselves and purifying our own hearts so that we can be forces for peace.
Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
-- Martin Luther King
All of us can play an important part in the conquest of violence. We can do this by throwing our full weight behind peaceful, effective programs for eliminating the situations from which violence arises. But just as importantly, we need to do everything we can to remove every trace of hostility in ourselves.
The violence that is flaring up on our streets and in many corners of the world is the inevitable expression of the hostility in our hearts. Hostility is like an infectious disease. Whenever we indulge in a violent act or even in hostile words, we are passing this disease on to those around us. When we quarrel at home, it is not just a domestic problem; we are contributing to turmoil everywhere.
A teacher of meditation in ancient India, Patanjali, wrote that in the presence of a man or woman in whom all hostility has died, others cannot be hostile. In the presence of a man or woman in whom all fear has died, no one can be afraid. This is the power released in true nonviolence, as we can see in the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Because all hostility had died in his heart, he was a profound force for peace.
-- Eknath Easwaran
And now the excerpt from the Henry Gireaux piece,
Living In A Culture of Cruelty: Democracy As Spectacle
Americans have grown accustomed to luxuriating in a warm bath of cinematic blood, as young people and adults alike were seduced with commercial and military video games such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "America's Army," the television series "24" and its ongoing Bacchanalian fete of torture, the crude violence on display in World Wrestling Entertainment and Ultimate Fighting Championship, and an endless series of vigilante films such as "The Brave One" (2007) and "Death Sentence" (2007), in which the rule of law is suspended by the viscerally satisfying images of men and women seeking revenge as laudable killing machines - a nod to the permanent state of emergency and war in the United States. Symptomatically, there is the mindless glorification and aestheticization of brutal violence in the most celebrated Hollywood films, including many of Quentin Tarantino's films, especially the recent "Death Proof" (2007), "Kill Bill" 1 & 2 (2003, 2004), and "Inglorious Bastards" (2009). With the release of Tarantino's 2009 bloody war film, in fact, the press reported that Dianne Kruger, the co-star of "Inglorious Bastards," claimed that she "loved being tortured by Brad Pitt [though] she was frustrated she didn't get an opportunity to get frisky with her co-star, but admits being beaten by Pitt was a satisfying experience." This is more than the aestheticization of violence, it is the normalization and glorification of torture itself.
If Hollywood has made gratuitous violence the main staple of its endless parade of blockbuster films, television has tapped into the culture of cruelty in a way that was unimaginable before the attack on the US on September 11. Prime-time television before the attacks had "fewer than four acts of torture" per year, but "now there are more than a hundred."  Moreover, the people who torture are no longer the villains, but the heroes of prime-time television. The most celebrated is, of course, Jack Bauer, the tragic-ethical hero of the wildly popular Fox TV thriller "24." Not only is torture the main thread of the plot, often presented "with gusto and no moral compunction," but Bauer is portrayed as a patriot, rather than a depraved monster, who tortures in order to protect American lives and national security. Torture, in this scenario, takes society's ultimate betrayal of human dignity and legitimates the pain and fear it produces as normal, all the while making a "moral sadist" a television celebrity. The show has over 15 million viewers, and its glamorization of torture has proven so successful that it appears to have not only numbed the public's reaction to the horrors of torture, but it is so overwhelmingly influential among the US military that the Pentagon sent Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan to California to meet with the producers of the show. "He told them that promoting illegal behavior in the series ... was having a damaging effect on young troops." The pornographic glorification of gratuitous, sadistic violence is also on full display in the popular HBO television series "Dexter," which portrays a serial killer as a sympathetic, even lovable, character. Visual spectacles steeped in degradation and violence permeate the culture and can be found in various reality TV shows, professional wrestling and the infamous Jerry Springer Show. These programs all trade in fantasy, glamorized violence and escapism. And they share similar values.
As Chris Hedges points out in his analysis of professional wrestling, they all mirror the worst dimensions of an unchecked and unregulated market society in which "winning is all that matters. Morality is irrelevant.... It is all about personal pain, vendettas, hedonism and fantasies of revenge, while inflicting pain on others. It is the cult of victimhood."
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