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!
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!
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.
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
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.
SOOOOO...here'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.
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
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 se...my 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 -- tinyurl.com/ye2w76p )
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!
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!
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.
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring
I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
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
of the trees.
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 perfect love.
-- Mary Oliver
(House of Light)
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