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Inspired? Helpin' out?

Friday, April 16, 2010

By doing service, you purify your heart. Egoism, hatred, jealousy, ideas of superiority vanish. Humility, pure love, sympathy, tolerance, and mercy are developed. Sense of separateness is annihilated. Selfishness is eradicated. You get a broad outlook of life. You begin to feel oneness or unity of life. You develop a broad heart with broad, generous views. Eventually, you get Knowledge of the Self. You realise the 'One-in-all' and 'all-in-One'. You feel unbounded joy.
-- Sri Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh
Based upon my own path and philosophy of life, I have found that as I help others my own joy expands. That's not to say that self-care gets kicked to the curb. I've learned that loving others begins at home...and unless I serve myself in a loving way, my service to others is paltry at best and doesn't ring with the authenticity and joy that *beginning at home* will lend it.

So, I share this week's KarmaTube offering in this spirit, that as we serve ourselves we are better equipped to reach out to others.

The music is wonderful and the message is powerful:

I also have profound respect for the work of Paul Farmer in Haiti, whose life I have previously shared with you:

Argh...yet another book I must get hold of!

Here is KarmaTube's presentation about Dr. Farmer:

I challenge us all to balance serving ourselves and serving others in order to find the sweetness that life can truly offer us. There are many ways to serve locally and globally and they all are important and they all count!

Blessed be!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MEDDYPEDDY 4/20/2010 2:04AM

    Service for me is a two-edged sword - if I do it to earn the right to excist it´s no good for me, if I do it as a part of the community it helps me to let go of my ego... but of course the world does not care, it prospers from my good deedswhatever my motive...

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CORPUSANNIE 4/19/2010 7:08PM

    As always, wise words from an emoticonfriend.

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FRAN-SOLEIL 4/19/2010 3:52AM

    Thank you for the post.

I love the new profile pic too!

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SANTANDERE 4/17/2010 11:34PM

    Pay it forward... Nothing like it emoticon

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LBIMAMMA 4/17/2010 10:10AM

    Hi Maha,
Thanks for the reminder to take care of "me" so we can continue to help others in the best way possible.
Mary Beth

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GINABUG 4/17/2010 10:01AM

    My dear, Maha! You give back in SO very many ways! Taking care of ourselves is a critical part of that and one that we often forget!

Thanks so much for this blessed offering to remind us all how much we can do and be!

Blessings and love to you, dear friend!


Comment edited on: 4/17/2010 10:03:21 AM

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COSMIC_ENERGY 4/16/2010 11:38PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DDOORN 4/16/2010 9:12PM

    Great points...! Can't serve others if we run our personal well dry by neglecting service to ourselves...!


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    Great blog! Thank you for sharing your insights!

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WATERMELLEN 4/16/2010 6:26PM

    I agree, we need to "balance serving ourselves and serving others": it's impossible to draw from a well that hasn't been filled.

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    Enjoyed that and those! emoticon

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WALKINGANNIE 4/16/2010 4:21PM

    Blessed we are Maha. Many thanks for your words and for sharing your wise thoughts as well as the links.

Service to others is love, love, love in action. It makes the world a better place and us better people. In helping others, we also learn so much.


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HAPPY0408 4/16/2010 2:27PM

    What a Powerful message! Thanks for sharing. I am recently struggling with this since my hubby just broke his leg and needing me to take care of him. I put myself last then my body was wearing down. I was totally exhausted for a few days I slept on and off. I am still working at putting myself first and have started to but I still have a ways to go. This life experience taught me how important it is to take care of yourself first so you can care for others.

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BRIGHTSPARK7 4/16/2010 11:36AM

    One of my teachers says that caring for self and caring for others is like the in-breath and the out-breath. Both the inhalation and the exhalation are necessary for a healthy, authentic life.
Thank you, Mahalakshmi.

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LYNNANN43 4/16/2010 11:36AM

    What a powerful message you shared with us, MAHA!

I'm starting to get back into volunteerism. Before the MS, I was super involved in everything!

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DEBRA_T 4/16/2010 11:18AM

    I was just reading a chapter in a book about service to others -- synchronicity! My author adds that (kind of like Spark), you should start small and pay attention to your experience. You may have to try several ways of giving back before you find the one that fits. But, there is no question that helping others can be a powerful way to connect to yourself, other people, your spirit and a sense of being in the world.


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A PLAN...imagine that!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Strength does not come from physical capacity.
It comes from an indomitable will.
-- Mahatma Gandhi

Leaving campus yesterday, thinking about my plan!

Dear SparkBuds,

Here's the SparkTime I'm allowing myself for the week starting today:

~ Exactly one hour per day, for this week which ends next Thursday.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

Yep, takin' *off* for the week!

This is what's going on:

~ I'm in a struggle (as you know) for control of my time/life AND
~ I have TWO mid-terms, TWO papers, and a complex oral presentation, ALL next week
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I LOVE "Pink" Bud (I'm with LessBigBob on a campaign to rename the not-Red Bud), this tree in my neck of the woods. I'll take more time to smell the flowers...

...and bushes, like this exquisite wisteria (swoon), also in my neighborhood.
emoticon's my plan:

~ 30 timed minutes of SparkTime in the morning (or as/when able) to spin the wheel and post gratitudes, and communicate with friends as able within that time

~ two additional 15-minute periods of online time each day

~ study, study, study! AND:

I am continuing with my weekly Sun through Sat April Baby Steps Goals:

~ minimum of 20 min. of aerobic activity 5 days/wk.

~ minimum of 20 min. of strength training 3 days/wk.

~ minimum of 15 min. of hatha yoga 3 days/wk.
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I have been consistent with all of them except for strength training this first week, which I haven't done at all. Tomorrow I intend to do a session, which means I will have one day of ST this week, instead of none!

Here are a few campus photos between Irby Hall, where all my classes are, and the parking lot.

Irby Hall, where I sit for my three classes -- Composicion espanola avanzada y analisis textual, Civilizacion Latinoamericana, y Linguistica espanola

Can't avoid 'em (as if I'd want to)...I pass these on the way to Irby. The campus is literally bursting with blooms of flowers, bushes and trees.

My first campus view (Irby's back right) as I cross the street from the parking lot.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
-- Bob Marley, Redemption Song

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SANTANDERE 4/14/2010 10:20PM

    Estudia mucho... Si tienes algunas preguntas, mandame un correo electronico.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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_VALEO_ 4/14/2010 6:15PM

    El equilibrio de lo imperfecto es lo que hace a este universo perfecto.

Spring is the time of all the possibles, we should make this month the first month of a new year. You're in the action, now and here. Keep on 'blossoming' physically and intellectually!

(I'm trying hard to read your bumper stickers, the only one I could read is "sell your TV" emoticon)

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FRAN-SOLEIL 4/12/2010 10:44AM

    Que bueno!

Sounds like a wonderful plan. I'm inspired by your holistic approach to wellness, and really enjoyed reading your page.

Enjoy the journey.

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CARLI_MAE 4/11/2010 8:49PM

    Just buzzin' by to see what you're up to ...

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WATERMELLEN 4/11/2010 8:15PM

    Lovely lovely blog: sending indomitable will (surplus to my own requirements? maybe not!!) to assist with your plan.

I often think that TS Eliot's "April is the cruellest month" was particularly suited to the realities of the academic year: just when campus is most glorious, papers are most pressing!!

Wisteria WILL NOT grow in my neck of Ontario -- only further south, around Niagara-on-the-Lake -- but that vanilla smell is glorious. Take a sniff for me, please: inhale deeply!!

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NORLANA 4/11/2010 3:01PM

    Oh my ... what a great plan! I am so happy for you and once again can take from what you are giving. I just said to G-Man, I am taking a leave of absence in May ... to which he replied "WHAT???- ARE YOU NUTS!!" LOL ... good thing I truly am the maker of my own calendar. Planning time needed for me to get it together.

Have fun, my friend and don't worry, we'll all be here when you get back, eager to hear all about your fabulous adventure and taking excellent care of you! xoxoxo

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COSMIC_ENERGY 4/11/2010 2:32PM

    Go for it--you are trusting your gut to do what you need to finish classes giving it all you got. I'll be holding you in thought with your eye on the prize.

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DRAGONFLY7149 4/11/2010 1:31PM

    Don't know what I'm more impressed with -- the PLAN or the wonderful blooming pictures...tough choice for someone like me! Currently, don't have the former and my focus is somewhat diverted by the latter, but you -- like all the spring beauty unfolding around us -- are an inspiration. Think I'll contemplate a plan while out dividing and transplanting a zillion perennials this crisp sunny day!

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GBOOMER 4/11/2010 8:04AM

    I enjoyed this post: getting a picture into you and your life, getting inspired by your plan... thanks!!!

I am having to plan anew. My knee situation is requiring me to think fresh as the old plans are not useful at the moment. That's why reading your plans right now are particularly inspiring to me.

have a great Sunday!

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GINABUG 4/10/2010 9:40PM

    Ooooooooooh, SO very beautiful! And the flowers are nice, too! :-)

My fabulous friend, thanks for making a plan and then sharing it with us. As STLRZGRRL says, I've been doing my Three-Dimensional Time today! Hoping for more tomorrow, but the allure of this community is strong, and oh, so good for my spirit when I do it right!

I'll be sending you all the hugs and wonderful, positive energy I can muster for your big finish this semester! You are an amazing inspiration!

And for you who has rolled up your sleeves and dug right into the work pile:

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls, and looks like work." -- Thomas Edison

Love, love, love...and hugs to match!


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MAZZYR 4/10/2010 5:30PM

    It's a plan! Go for it!

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BRIGHTSPARK7 4/10/2010 4:30PM

    Wow Ms. Maha! You look fabulous in your latest pic ... in resonance with the beauty blooming around you.

I am SO delighted to see you freeing yourself from mental encumbrance with an ACTION plan. Keep on taking positive action that supports your authentic inner focus, my friend. You can do it. I am in awe. Truly amazing.

Now I'm off to finish cooking a feast for a friend coming to visit. Okra, bitter gourd and lentil daal. I'll be thinking of you!
With affection,

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    Yes, spring is here. And with it, all the hopes for new life. The rebirth of your spirit and desire to "bloom" is not surprising, now that the doldrums of the cold and cloudy winter are subsiding.

Good plan, my dear.

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PENNYAN45 4/9/2010 9:17PM

    Your plan is good! Good luck to you on those papers and the oral presentation. And don't work too hard.

I LOVE the photos!

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DDOORN 4/9/2010 8:05PM

    I've been losing my focus, losing my plan lately...need to get myself back on track again....thx for the inspiration and ideas!

Great to see how beautiful things are in your neck of the woods! :-)


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    Great plan - love the pictures!

You can do it!!

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WALKINGANNIE 4/9/2010 4:11PM

    I REALLY like this plan - and love the photos.

I might borrow some of your ideas.

Thanks for providing such a good example and for a cheering glimpse into your life.

Annie x

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FRACTALMYTH 4/9/2010 4:11PM

    You are looking well :D and such a beautiful spring setting! SOmetimes we really do need to step back from even the most enjoyable things to get done what is needful. It is certainly something I struggle with daily - and am struggling with RIGHT NOW lol... Good luck, enjoy, and achieve your goals!

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JESPAH 4/9/2010 3:36PM

    Well-considered. I'm trying to figure out where Irby is. Is it part of Tulane? No rush re answering -- use your time well -- need not be to answer me. :)

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STLRZGRRL 4/9/2010 3:04PM

    I haven't figured out how to talk myself into the ST, either... I don't know what it is...

But if I could make myself stop the Sparking... I'd at least have the time to be doing it!!

TV's DO make your brain get mushy... and a computer is just a tv screen with a trillion channels...

Ok... Imma taking this weekeend to do THREE-DIMENSIONAL STUFF!!!

You have motivated me, Maha... (while I sit here... staring at a computer screen!!! S'ok. I'm at work.. that's what I do for a living!...)


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BAREADER 4/9/2010 3:03PM

    I love a good plan, I couldn't survive without them!

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SLASALLE 4/9/2010 2:51PM

    You GO, girl!!! Trust me, I KNOW full well how difficult it is to try and juggle these crazy busy lives we all lead. I'm going to have to come up with a NEW PLAN sometime soon that allows for LOTS MORE R&R, but with an emphasis on FUN exercise!!

Thanks for sharing ...

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CARRAND 4/9/2010 2:00PM

    I love your pictures, and I love your plan.

My time at work is so planned. It's the only way I can keep up with my employees and my boss, too. So I am less planned at home. I don't like to feel like all of my time belongs to someone else, or has to be structured.

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LYNNANN43 4/9/2010 1:38PM

    What a well thought out plan!

I need to make me one of those to deal with my next few weeks responsively!

And all of those beautiful pics had me swooning!


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SAGE150 4/9/2010 1:11PM

    It's always good to have a plan. It's also okay to be flexible with yourself and adapt the plan to whatever comes your way each day and make the plan even better or simply different if it turns out a slightly different approach will work for you on any particular day.

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GENKI_WARRIOR 4/9/2010 12:42PM

    ooohhh~~~! this makes me want to get out and take pics of budding-ness too : )

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DARKTHOR 4/9/2010 12:40PM

    Gorgeous pictures, what a joy that looks like! I think your plan is awesome! It sounds like a very balanced and healthy approach. Now you have the plan, now is the part where persistence comes in. ::grin:: You can do it!

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PUDLECRAZY 4/9/2010 11:57AM

    Great pics to accompany your blog. I think you have a very wise plan. It is easy to spend too much time on SP, therefore missing out on great exercise opportunities. I find this huge dilemma; I like to check in with my SP friends, but so many are precious to me, it is hard to check in on everyone and still have time to be active.

What classes are you taking?


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BECOMINGONE 4/9/2010 11:56AM

    I dreamed about Wisteria last night .... seriously ... and soon you will have to take a short break to come and see my primrose arbor ... it will be a riot of color in just a few days ....

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AZIMAT 4/9/2010 11:41AM

    Baby steps? Wow, give yourself some credit warrior woman, that's a great plan.

Thanks for sharing your life with us.

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MISS_VIV 4/9/2010 10:08AM

    Awesome plan. I know you can follow thru. My thoughts are with you as is my heart. Make it sweet, make it beautiful.

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    Yes! Emancipation is an ongoing thing for me! Wonderful plan! Keep it up, girlie, and win!

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LIVIN-N-LEARNIN 4/9/2010 9:56AM

    doesn't it feel great to plan things out??! sounds like a great one too!!
it is just BEAUTIFUL where you live and go to school!!

I think spring is my favorite season :-) keep up the good work and positive thoughts!!

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The slippery slope of careless habits

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The slippery-sliding slope of careless habits is so easy to fall back on...and unfortunately I've landed there with a big *PLOP.* That's part of why I'm cutting back on my Spark time. Ironic isn't it that the site that offers me so many resources for vibrant good health is also the temptress (because of all the peripheral toys and SparkFriends to play with) that cause me to "while away" valuable time that could be better spent FOR INSTANCE on my Trek or doing strength training.

But I certainly can't give all the blame of having found myself 20 pounds over my goal weight to my excessive SP time per crazy out-of-control mind is hugely culpable as well. Controlling the monkey mind is my big challenge in this life. If I control it, it is my best friend, if it controls me it is my worst enemy, as the Bhagavad Gita so wisely says in chapter six (and I love Sri Easwaran's translation -- )

Eknath Easwaran's Thoughts for the Day are a huge source of pithy wisdom for me. Yesterday this arrived in my InBox:

"The first wealth is health."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here is Sri Easwaran's commentary on Emerson: "When you regard your life as a trust, you realize that the first resource you have to take care of is your own body. This can be startling. Even your body is not really your own. It belongs to life, and it is your responsibility to take care of it. You cannot afford to do anything that injures your body, because the body is the instrument you need for selfless action. That is the fine print of the trust agreement: when we smoke, when we overeat, when we don't get enough exercise, we are violating the terms of the trust.

"If you want to live life at its fullest, you will want to do everything possible to keep your body in vibrant health in order to give back to life a little of what it has given you."

I must also share today's Thought, because like the preceding commentary it too is SO on-target for me here-and-now:

"If one who enjoys a lesser happiness beholds a greater one, let him leave aside the lesser to gain the greater."
-- The Buddha

Easwaran comments: "The Buddha, the most practical of teachers, says that wisdom is essentially discrimination -- the precious capacity to see what is important in the long run and then choose our course of action accordingly.

"Most of us are vigilant when making big decisions, but less so when dealing with little ones. We forget the cumulative effect of all those missed "little" opportunities. It is precisely on those thousand little occasions, and over a period of time, that the mind is taught to be calm and kind (and make everyday wise choices) -- not instantaneously or by great leaps. In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives."

The instant gratification of short-sighted behaviors has gotten me into this *trouble.* Getting my eye back on the goal, which requires that I release those immediate pleasures that ultimately result in long-term grief is what I'm about these days.

This means, for instance, that although I will appreciate and profit from any and all comments that these words might *Spark* I may not be able to take the time to respond. I need to be smart about my priorities if I intend to reach my long-term goals.

Gotta' say though, that the friendships I've made here on SparkPeople are amazing and strong and just as important to me as my dear 3-D friends (and at least nine SFriends have transformed to 3-D friends all across the country, with more to follow hopefully during my summer camper adventures!!!) Bowing in gratitude to all of you for all you offer as we tread this path to better health of Body*Mind*Spirit together!

Blessed be!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUDEAUX 4/17/2010 5:16PM

    Thank you for your honesty about too much SP and not enuf working the program. Some people wouldn't even cop to it.

I sometimes *reward* myself with stuff (more free time, computer time) after I finish my walk, yoga, etc.

Just don't vanish on us now that we've gotten to know such a neat person as yourself.

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SUCHAHOOT 4/10/2010 11:15PM

    Balance, balance, balance. It's so tough to maintain. Have a rest and a hug. I just stopped for a while myself. It's so easy to while away the hours here.


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CARRAND 4/8/2010 9:18PM

    Your blog is so true. I am tempted to avoid the treadmill so I have more Spark time. But I get so much out of being on Spark People! Balance is the key.

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MAZZYR 4/8/2010 10:45AM

    Well, this blog speaks to me as do the comments that follow. Thank you for sharing YOU and your thoughts.

Take good care of you... with loving kindness and Hugs from me too.
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STLRZGRRL 4/8/2010 9:54AM

    Ya, ya, ya... What I could USE is a little cooperation from this body, ya know!?!?!

I think it's testing me to see if I really mean to take care of it this time... My body is such a child... crossing its arms and steadfastly shaking it's head "NO!"


I guess ONE of us has to be the adult around here... Come here, Body... Imma give you a BIG hug now...

And one for Maha, too!!!
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Comment edited on: 4/8/2010 9:54:51 AM

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AZIMAT 4/8/2010 9:24AM

    Timely words. Thanks so much.

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LYNNANN43 4/8/2010 9:10AM

    Maha, take all the time you need, dear friend.

And if you happening to be traveling to the northeast, please consider stopping by to visit me & Tee:D


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XINIXINIX 4/8/2010 8:07AM

    I *just* finished writing about my own slippery slopes having turned into slipper Mt. Everest(s) your blog was a *must* read...and I DO so appreaciate it.

Thank you!

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LYNNANN43 4/8/2010 7:41AM

    Maha, take all the time you need, dear friend.

And if you happening to be traveling to the northeast, please consider stopping by to visit me & Tee:D


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DDOORN 4/8/2010 3:53AM

    Yep, balance in ALL the aspects of our lives, SparkFamily included, is so important and such a challenge at times!


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_VALEO_ 4/8/2010 3:17AM

    So right to the point, once again.
Prioritizing, managing our time, and Living our life is so important, I'm still a "newbie."

Wish you to enjoy at the fullest all these precious "little" moments.

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LEOLO_1 4/8/2010 12:14AM

    so true! emoticonmy sister straps her laptop onto her treadmill and walks for an hour while she does email and watches videos...

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BABYFACE26 4/7/2010 11:24PM

    Great blog, Maha, and great wisdom. For me, its been a Facebook addiction! But either way, it's too much time at the computer. The way I look at - taking care of my that, it's my main job. Because if I don't do it well enough, it will affect my quality of life and the quality of the contribution I make to this world. Be well, my friend. You are such a good writer!

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WATERMELLEN 4/7/2010 10:05PM

    No need to response to all of our responses: just know that we've benefited from reading what you've written, and focus on your MAIN goals! (for me: MAINtaining!!).

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BRIGHTSPARK7 4/7/2010 6:39PM

    Please take excellent care of your body, dear Mahalakshmi. It is doing so much service and deserves your best and kindest attention. Excellent blog. I hope you go back and re-read it.

Less is sometimes more.

Comment edited on: 4/7/2010 6:42:25 PM

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WALKINGANNIE 4/7/2010 6:12PM

    Wise as ever, Maha.

Do what you have to do. Be who you have to be.

You will still be present in our thoughts as one of the 'bold sisterhood' and I will think fondly of you until we 'meet' again.

Be healthy

Annie x


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    Yep. Monkeymind is a plague!

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PENNYAN45 4/7/2010 2:46PM

    Thanks for all the wisdom in this blog today. I especially like the advice to take care of my body because it is my responsibility and because it is the instrument for "selfless action."

Many of us probably spend too much time on SP. As long as I am successfully losing weight, I can justify it to myself. That is so even though much of my time on SP is spent just interacting with people that I like and enjoy.

I am only now beginning to spend some time learning from the many nutritional resources on the site.

I share your feelings about SP friends -- many of them are as important to me as my 3d friends. (You are one of those for me, Maha.)

Now that springtime has arrived, lots of folks here are talking about spending less time on SP so they can enjoy the out-of-doors. We will probably all do that to a certain degree.

But we can all check in now and then to keep in touch.

Have a great time!!

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BAGGYPANTS5 4/7/2010 1:49PM

    And I thought I'd said something to offend! Don't worry, that's just my paranoia speaking. Go and do what you have to do, and we'll all be here cheering you on and waiting, but do come back!! We'll be thinking of you.
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    SparkPeople is definitely addictive!

I am constantly reminding myself that I am not exercising when I am sitting at my computer online.

We are here for you when you can work us into your schedule!


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WANT2CHNG17 4/7/2010 1:37PM

    Oh, so that was YOU I slid past on that slope!!
I've been doing the same thing, except that I've been sucked into the Facebook time warp. UGH.
Great blog (as always), filled with much gentle wisdom. Time to grab onto the rope and pull ourselves UP!

~Mary Ann

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LBIMAMMA 4/7/2010 1:01PM

    It is indeed a slippery slope. Liked this---- "the precious capacity to see what is important in the long run and then choose our course of action accordingly".
May we continue to make good choices!

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DARKTHOR 4/7/2010 11:53AM

    There is something to the idea of too much SP time can equate to too little time spent 'just getting moving'. Do what you need to do for your own health and happiness.

BTW, I finished Joy Harjo's 'How We Became Human' and am now in the middle of 'Three Cups of Tea'. I am loving this book! Thanks for turning me on to it. Have you ever read 'Ishmael' by Daniel Quinn? I would highly recommend it. It changed how I looked at people. Cheers!

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FRANCESCANAZ 4/7/2010 11:28AM

    Oh we love & appreciate you too! I wish we were closer so we could both take out our Treks and go for a nice long ride together. I totally get what you are saying about the time spent on SP. emoticon too but I have got to do less typing and more exercising.

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    Oh I so love this blog!!!!!
It's all so darn true!

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PONDERTHIS 4/7/2010 9:55AM

    Thank you for a very thought-provoking post. NNTR = no need to reply. :) Just know that you do have friends who missed you.
Love and light,

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SHANTRA 4/7/2010 9:36AM

    "If one who enjoys a lesser happiness beholds a greater one, let him leave aside the lesser to gain the greater."
-- The Buddha

Thank you SO much for sharing this with us, I love it. It is now one of my favorite quotes because it is very relevant to where I am too.

Lot of wisdom in this blog, good luck with focusing more but please let us know how you are doing even if you only blog.

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MISS_VIV 4/7/2010 9:21AM

    Thank you this morning for this beautiful blog. A wealth of information and one that hits right in the heart of the matter. I so totally agree with you and Easwaran's thought for the day. I find that my days are becoming so full of little things now that I have gotten away from spending so much time in the sparking.

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DEBRA_T 4/7/2010 9:18AM

    Struggling a little myself the past week, I commented to a priest-psychoanalyst friend of mine that sometimes knowing how we're all on this speeding bullet train called life and that each of us in turn will be thrown off the train at some unspecified future date, I think why deny myself pleasure now? He said, well, we're always denying ourselves something. What gets denied within and without you so that one can have the pleasure of eating is a question well worth thinking about.

Cheers, Debra
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Wabi-sabi anyone?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience. The phrase comes from the two words wabi and sabi. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete". It is a concept derived from the Buddhist assertion of the three marks of existence, specifically impermanence. Note also that the Japanese word for rust, is also pronounced sabi, and there is an obvious semantic connection between these concepts.

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, modesty, intimacy, and the suggestion of natural processes.

A Japanese tea house which reflects the wabi-sabi aesthetic in Kenrokuen Garden, Honshu Island, Japan

Wabi-sabi is the most conspicuous and characteristic feature of traditional Japanese beauty and it "occupies roughly the same position in the Japanese pantheon of aesthetic values as do the Greek ideals of beauty and perfection in the West. if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi. It (wabi-sabi) nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

The words wabi and sabi do not translate easily. Wabi originally referred to the loneliness of living in nature, remote from society; sabi meant "chill", "lean" or "withered". Around the 14th century these meanings began to change, taking on more positive connotations. Wabi now connotes rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness, and can be applied to both natural and human-made objects, or understated elegance. It can also refer to quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction, which add uniqueness and elegance to the object. Sabi is beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs.

From an engineering or design point of view, "wabi" may be interpreted as the imperfect quality of any object, due to inevitable limitations in design and construction/manufacture especially with respect to unpredictable or changing usage conditions; then "sabi" could be interpreted as the aspect of imperfect reliability, or limited mortality of any object, hence the etymological connection with the Japanese word sabi, to rust.

My 1984 camper backed up to the Yellowstone River, is sadly susceptible to the wear and rust and entropy of all material objects. But in its own wabi sabi way it is exquisitely beautiful.

A good example of this embodiment may be seen in certain styles of Japanese pottery. In the Japanese tea ceremony, the pottery items used are often rustic and simple-looking, e.g. Hagi ware, with shapes that are not quite symmetrical, and colors or textures that appear to emphasize an unrefined or simple style. In reality, these items can be quite expensive and in fact, it is up to the knowledge and observational ability of the participant to notice and discern the hidden signs of a truly excellent design or glaze (akin to the appearance of a diamond in the rough). This may be interpreted as a kind of wabi-sabi aesthetic, further confirmed by the way the colour of glazed items is known to change over time as hot water is repeatedly poured into them (sabi) and the fact that tea bowls are often deliberately chipped or nicked at the bottom (wabi), which serves as a kind of signature of the Hagi-yaki style.

Black raku wabi-sabi tea bowl

In one sense wabi sabi is a training where the student of wabi sabi learns to find the most simple objects interesting, fascinating and beautiful. Fading autumn leaves would be an example. Wabi sabi can change our perception of our world to the extent that a chip or crack in a vase makes it more interesting and give the object greater meditative value. Similarly materials that age such as bare wood, paper and fabric become more interesting as they exhibit changes that can be observed over time.

Those of you who have seen my caption and the accompanying comments on this image of me with Coach Nicole in my SparkPhotoGallery know why I have included this photo in a wabi sabi presentation!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 4/7/2010 8:25AM

    Sweet. It's the evanescence of the world.

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BRIGHTSPARK7 4/2/2010 12:19AM

    I LOVE this blog. Read it a coupla days ago and have been reflecting on it when I take a walk. Have been sketching the last two days and loving how imperfectly expressive it is. I keep catching my tale (pun intended) -- what fun!
emoticon Mahalaksh!
(Maha laksh is 'noble goal')

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AZIMAT 4/1/2010 5:55PM

    How lovely, thank you.

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FRANCESCANAZ 4/1/2010 11:35AM

    Hey I like that camper! And I love your face!!! emoticon Have a great Spring amiga!

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GENKI_WARRIOR 4/1/2010 6:34AM

    yaaay for serene melancholy ;D
i enjoyed this blog very much indeed!

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SUNPANTHER 3/31/2010 4:33PM

    I am in the middle of reading Lisa Dempster's Neon Pilgrim. A wonderful story of a young woman, battling depression and illhealth, deciding to walk one of the many Japanese pilgrimages. Your blog has complimented it well. Thanks. Rudolph Steiner must have been very wabi sabi orintated too!

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DARKTHOR 3/31/2010 4:59AM

    That was a very interesting read, thank you for that. I think I took a lot out of that. I sometimes really enjoy looking at photography of urban decay, rusted and overgrown buildings, etc. I think maybe it is their wabi-sabi that I am drawn to? Cheers.

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BAGGYPANTS5 3/31/2010 3:19AM

    Thank you for the blog. It makes you realise how completely different cultures can be.

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WATERMELLEN 3/30/2010 10:38PM

    I am "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete". So: what a relief to know that this is a good thing!!

Lovely blog, thank you.

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MISS_VIV 3/30/2010 9:29PM

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh a great interpretation and explanation of some very colorful words. Makes one want to take a trip to Japan (?) And I LOVE the pic of you and Coach Nicole.

Comment edited on: 3/30/2010 9:34:46 PM

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STLRZGRRL 3/30/2010 9:25PM

    *nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.*


Are you SURE?


I suspected as much...

Well. That being the case... have some tiramisu... I managed not to eat the entire thing myself!

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DDOORN 3/30/2010 9:17PM

    Thx for the geo-artistic-philosophical lesson du jour...! :-)

That is a WONDERFUL pic of you with Coach Nicole! Did you catch up with each other at a convention...?


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CARRAND 3/30/2010 8:22PM

    I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you.

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    Great blog! Is that you and Coach_Nicole?

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2BFREE2LIVE 3/30/2010 7:31PM


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Friday, March 26, 2010

In the midst of my happiness and anxieties, machinations and lack of planning, successes and starts-and-stops on the path toward wholeness of body-mind-spirit, there remains...always and indubitably...Spring (within if not without) AND Mary Oliver. In this I can freely and endlessly find joy:

Grizzley Bear in the Rockies


a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her --
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.

-- Mary Oliver
(House of Light)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOANNA2 3/30/2010 9:24AM

    Thank you for the beautiful poem.

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KLEONIKI 3/29/2010 3:41PM

    Enjoy spring-time at its full dear co-sparker!
Good luck!

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LOPEYP 3/28/2010 5:44AM

    thanks for sharing.

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PENNYAN45 3/27/2010 12:39AM

    I think I have become a fan of Mary Oliver too!!


Happy Spring, my friend!

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DDOORN 3/26/2010 11:50PM

    Wonderful words to echo the joy in our hearts this springtime...!


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CARRAND 3/26/2010 9:23PM

    Beautiful blog, beautiful poem. Thank you so much for sharing.

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KALIGIRL 3/26/2010 1:07PM

    ‘Perfect love’ – to be what you were created to be…
Wonderful – emoticon

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FRANCESCANAZ 3/26/2010 11:52AM

    Ahh me encantan la naturaleza y la primavera! emoticon

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BRIGHTSPARK7 3/26/2010 11:42AM

    "her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love" resonated with me, this morning. LOVE Mary Oliver's specificity. She is like a breeze at dawn. Thank you, Mahalakshmi!

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LYNNANN43 3/26/2010 11:13AM

    Another soothing poem, MAHA:D

Thank you for the beautiful imagery!

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