Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I call meditation "sitting practice" since when meditation is actually mastered, the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita says that "the mind is as still as the flame of a candle in a windless place" and I DEFINITELY am not there! *I* (the witnessing consciousness -- the soul) wage a daily battle with my mind and sometimes the soul wins and sometimes the mind wins.
Even the more mundane aspects of the practice are BIG, as described by Sri Easwarn below...so that in itself should sufficiently motivate me. But no! I'm stubborn as a mule, and good habits seem to come to me only with great and constant struggle (consider, for instance eating moderately and consciously...get the picture?!).
In any case, this "Thought for the Day" from Sri Easwarn spoke deeply to me of the value of sitting practice and I decided to share it, since it is totally related to our journey toward optimal wellness.
Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength. . . . It is therefore able to undertake all things, and it completes many things, and warrants them to take effect, where one who does not love would faint and lie down.
-- Thomas a Kempis
Without a tank full of gas, no car can drive very far. The mind, too, needs a full tank of vitality to draw on for patience, resilience, and creativity. Filling that tank every morning is one of the most practical purposes of meditation. The test of your meditation is: How long can you be patient with those around you? In the beginning, you should aim to make it at least to noon acting like the proverbial angel.
Most of us, however, even if we start with a full tank, have little control over the thousand and one little pinpricks that drain vitality as we go along: worry, vacillation, irritation, daydreaming. By lunchtime the indicator may be hovering around empty.
Then it is that you have to be acutely vigilant. The tank is nearly empty, but by sheer effort and deft defensive driving, and using the mantram, you manage to coast through to the end of the day without any serious accidents.
The more effort you make, the more endurance you gain. The next day you may find the tank itself a little larger; you start the next day with a greater capacity for love and patience than before.
-- Sri Eknath Easwaran
Monday, October 26, 2009
...that is my heart's desire.
a song with no end
when Whitman wrote, "I sing the body electric"
I know what he
I know what he
to be completely alive every moment
in spite of the inevitable.
we can't cheat death but we can make it
work so hard
that when it does take
it will have known a victory just as
~ Charles Bukowski ~
(The Night Torn With Mad Footsteps)
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Tellin' it like it is, and it ain't purty, but denial is NOT "where it's at." Though I'm a vegetarian, I feel deeply affected by this. And we're not EVEN speaking to the issue of genetic engineering and the Monsanto Monster. Hearing from Will Allen, organic farmer, visionary, activist and author of *The War on Bugs* may help us to better see the severity of the problem and to know why doing nothing isn't an option --
Will Allen grew up on a small farm in southern California and served in the Marine Corps between the Korean and Vietnam wars. He received a PhD in Anthropology (focused on Peruvian tropical forest agriculture) and taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, before being fired and sentenced to a year in jail for civil rights and antiwar activism. He returned to farming and farm labor full time in 1972 and has been farming organically ever since in Oregon, California, and Vermont, where he now co-manages Cedar Circle Farm. He founded the Sustainable Cotton Project in 1991 and served as its executive director for thirteen years. He is currently a co-chair of Farms Not Arms, is a policy advisory board member of the Organic Consumers Association, and serves on the board of Rural Vermont. Allen says"
1. Farming Messes Up the Planetâ€™s Air
In 2007, the US EPA figured that agriculture caused 18% of the US carbon footprint. This doesnâ€™t even include the chemicals, the fuel, the shipping, the power, the heating or even the greenhouse gas emissions. If you count those thingâ€™s itâ€™s 25-30%. A third of the pie ainâ€™t no laughing matter.
2. Fertilizer Runs Into Streams Making Dead Zones
Dumping too much fertilizer to make lots of food really fast means you have some running off into lakes, rivers and oceans. Then it makes lots of other plants in the water grow really fast in huge amounts. Result? When all those algae plants die, they suck the oxygen out of the water (thanks to water bacteria).
What else happens? No oxygen means fish die off and nothing can live in it. In 1995 there were 60 "dead zones" worldwide â€“ now thereâ€™s 405 in 2008.
3. Body Poison in Your Water
Pesticides can poison the body and the mind. Along with antibiotics and hormones, you can find pesticides everywhere. They have a nasty habit of sticking around for a very long time (i.e. like 100s of years for DDT)
Other interesting facts to remember:
- over 12,000 wells in the US, giving water to 100 million people have way too much arsenic and lead. Both are bad even if you get a little (it builds up over time).
- nearly 30,000,000 (30 million) people in the US are drinking water contaminated with DDT poison related chemicals.
"All these DDT relatives caused cancer and multiple birth defects in tests on laboratory animals. They continue today to greatly damage bird populations in farm country."
4. Weâ€™re Still Using Too Much Poison Everyday
"Factory farmers continue to use enormous quantities of the most toxic poisons. In 2006, four of the six most used farm pesticides in California were among the most dangerous chemicals in the world. Farmers applied more than 35.7 million pounds of four pesticides: Metam sodium, Methyl bromide, Telone II, and Chloropicrin."
5. Is Anyone Watching?
Apparently no one cares to know how much poison weâ€™re spraying out except California. Theyâ€™re the only guys except maybe New York who are keeping good records.
You know things are bad when you hear that:
"We must begin these reductions because cancer and birth defect clusters are now common in most U.S. farm communities and people are being exposed to multiple pesticide residues on their fresh and processed food and on their clothing."
6. Stick Animals with Steroids, Now Eat â€˜Em!
Our animal farms are so filthy with so much antibiotic and hormone use that theyâ€™ve become places for super bugs and diseases to grow fast. Think of it like a cut that just wonâ€™t close and then gets infected, turning purple and green and â€¦ You get the picture.
Frankly a lot of people in our society are eating way, way, way, way too much meat. Take a look at some of the US statistics.
2008: 11 billion animals for food in the US
2008: 95% of 69 million US pigs were raised factory farm style (like crazy filthy and with enough pig waste to drown thousands of people â€“ I joke not)
2008: 300 million (300,000,000) chickens were raised in cages too small for them to move
2008: 10 billion (10,000,000,000) meat chickens (the ones youâ€™d use for KFC, Burger King or McDonaldâ€™s) and 500,000,000 (500 million) turkeys were raised in pens so crowded that you likely couldnâ€™t see most of their feet â€“ it would be like a carpet.
Okay if I go any further Iâ€™ll go crazy â€“ I think you get the picture and we havenâ€™t even gotten to the cows.
"About 33 million beef cows and 9.7 million dairy cows spent their dreary days in disgusting feedlots and dairy barns. These facilities and their meat products are rife with disease that the public is advised to combat by thorough cooking. In December, 2008 Consumer Reports found that 83% of the 525 meat chickens they studied had salmonella or campylobacter. With deadly diseases on all but 17 chickens out of 100, customers are asking: What about the salmonella on my drain board or my hands? No wonder there is so much food borne illness!"
"In December, 2008 Consumer Reports found that 83% of the 525 meat chickens they studied had salmonella or campylobacter. With deadly diseases on all but 17 chickens out of 100, customers are asking: What about the salmonella on my drain board or my hands? No wonder there is so much food borne illness!"
7. Fixing Factory Farming Is Like Trying to Fix a 100 ton Rock With 1 Finger
Two studies by The Pew Charitable Trust, Johns-Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Union of Concerned Scientists have found that factory farming is so much of a loose cannon that it threatens to blow our health away. Kind of like Dirty Harryâ€™s magnum with all of the attitude. Right now, you, the guy paying taxes is forced to pull Dirty Harryâ€™s trigger to wreck your kidâ€™s future. What a way to go!
Thatâ€™s what happens when we do only cheap food and pay people nearly nothing to be able to buy food. Got to keep making it cheaper and that means farming has to cut corners.
8. Toss Out Factory Farms, Do It Different
People are fighting for local organic food as we speak. The best way to say it is: good, clean, local and fair. Will Allen talks about chemicals and government regulations.
Heâ€™s right â€“ weâ€™ve got to cut out the chemicals and the poisons. Government has a big role to play â€“ theyâ€™re supposed to protect the people and to date theyâ€™ve failed to look out for the little guy.
At the same time however farmers, business and government arenâ€™t the only ones who have to change their thinking. Every person on this world has to realize that all this cheap food, using farming that cuts corners is just part of the picture. Itâ€™s about the way we view and value food AND people AND ourselves.
The real reason we started using so much chemicals and so much factory farming is that no one wanted to do hard work, everyone wanted food cheaper and faster. Now weâ€™ve gone too far. Now we donâ€™t even value people who make that food. Our health suffers because we donâ€™t value ourselves (yes, donâ€™t forget exercise or being a couch potato) or our food.
The first step for real change is to change yourself and then the world.
Original Source -- excellent in-depth information from Allen for those who want to know more:
"Taxpayers are demanding that government enforce existing regulations and create more stringent rules to limit the excess and greed in banking, insurance, housing, and on Wall Street. But, in the rush to regulate, we canâ€™t forget to oversee industrial agriculture. It is one of our most polluting and dangerous industries. Like the financial sectors, its practices have not been well regulated for the last thirty years. Let me run down a few of the major problems that have developed because of our poorly regulated U.S. agriculture." cogtoronto.wordpress.com/2009/05/12/
Friday, October 23, 2009
Ok, OK!!! I know my poetry posts are peripheral at best to the expressed purpose of SparkPeople. But, ya' know, if the soul is *fed delicious, nutritious sustenance* will it not contribute to our overall lightness-of-being, and thus to our goal of optimal wellness of body-mind-spirit, I ask?
Consider the swans:
over the dunes,
they skimmed the trees
and hurried on
to the sea
or some lonely pond
or wherever it is
that swans go,
the heat of their eyes
and then away,
the thick spans
of their wings
as bright as snow,
inside my own body.
How could I help but adore them?
How could I help but wish
that one of them might drop
a white feather
that I should have
something in my hand
to tell me
that they were real?
this was foolish.
What we love, shapely and pure,
is not to be held,
but to be believed in.
And then they vanished, into the unreachable distance.
-- Mary Oliver, Reference
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
THE SEVEN OF PENTACLES
Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.
Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.
Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.
Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.
~ Marge Piercy ~
(In Praise of Fertile Land, edited by Claudia Mauro)
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