Sunday, March 30, 2014

love


this is it folks … THE big word
in the kitchen of our South African home, we had a notice up on the wall:


love was not put in your heart to stay
love is not love until it’s given away

we have to love … love each other, love ourselves, love creation, love our planet
send love to people we find difficulty with, love animals, love this day, love the food we are eating, love beer, not just love but show love to the people near and dear to us, love the stars and planets, love that beautiful flower, hug and love the tree that we pass by, love the warmth of the sun.

the more love I give out the more I seem to have
there is a never-ending source of love in me … or so it seems

Reggie Ray in his lecture of Buddhist Tantra, quotes a study, where terminally ill patients were interviewed. They were asked the question 'Is there anything you regret in life?'
Ninety percent answered 'I wish I had been loved more' and ten percent answered 'I wish I had loved more'.
It is a pretty telling study, don't you think?

meditation



                                    A mind that is quiet is naturally attentive.
                                 And a mind that is attentive is naturally quiet.
                Although Buddhists regard formal meditation practice as necessary,
          it is not the form of the meditation that is the key, but the act of focused attentiveness
                 - that which happens when you give yourself completely to a task at hand,
                                         whatever that happens to be.


Source:  Quiet Food - The Buddhist Institute of South Africa ISBN 1 919930 62 0

i’ve tried to make meditation part of my daily life. i say ‘tried’ because it certainly is not as much a part of my daily life as i would like it to be - i miss meditating on so many days, but i keep trying.
i’m trying to achieve a sense of being in the moment. and only that.
i believe it has been useful to me in slowing down the headlong rush of my life, the habit of always looking ahead and often thinking of the past, to the neglect of each moment. i feel that life slows down and time seems to stretch when i’m in the moment. when i’m absorbed and ‘in the flow’ as i’ve heard it put


i was given a book 
Meditation in Action by Chogyam Trungpa ISBN-10: 159030876X
which i found really good. this book is all you need to understand meditation and to start practicing


Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book Wherever You Go, There You Are ISBN-10: 1401307787
says - quoting the Amazon.com Review: “… meditation is important because it brings about a state of "mindfulness," a condition of "being" rather than "doing" during which you pay attention to the moment rather than the past, the future, or the multitudinous distractions of modern life.”


more recently, i was accepted as a novice monk at Wat Pah Nanachat , a monastery in the
Theravada Forest Tradition, situated in the northeast part of Thailand in Isan Province - see the image at the head of this blog.
the monastery aims at providing English-speaking people the opportunity to train and practise the ancient lifestyle that the Buddha taught his monks in the forests over 2500 years ago.
for the three weeks of my stay, i was able to participate fully in the life of the monastery and this experience has profoundly influenced my life. i was able to practice many hours of sitting meditation in the salle and walking meditation along the many paths meandering around the grounds of the monastery. waking call is at 3am, followed by chanting and meditation, leaf-sweeping and then on to the alms-round. the single meal of the day is at 8am. question and answer sessions and other opportunities to enquire about Buddhist practices are provided, though no mediation instruction is given.


Movement is good for the body, and stillness is good for the mind.
~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


stop !


this hardly needs introduction. it's a blog by Mark and Angel who Hack Life ... many many good articles here.




we keep doing these things ... it's time to stop!
30 Things to stop doing to yourself



Monday, April 1, 2013

Drs Gabe and Diana Mirkin

i’ve been following Drs. Gabe and Diana Mirkin for a few years now. i am so taken by the way they weave scientific information with down-to-earth facts and create articles that are understandable to me … they make so much sense. they research topics that have real meaning and hold importance for me to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. one of the most admirable things they occasionally do is to go ‘out on a limb’ by saying things like … ‘this may not have scientific proof but all indications are that ….’. they dare make intelligent suppositions and sometimes draw logical conclusions when common sense indicates the correct way to think or correct way to act.
to put it more simply: if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck … it is a duck!

The website

Stay close to nature
Here, a series of articles explains how we evolved to eat the foods we eat. The articles explore and explain why we need food, the components of food: protein, fats, carbohydrates and so on.

Good food guide

Nutritional supplements
Use of nutritional supplements may be harmful say Dr Gabe Mirkin and Diana Mirkin. Fish Oil Pills Associated with Increased Prostate Cancer Risk.

What You Eat Is More Important than How Much You Eat
This article follows a 20 year study From Harvard School of Public Health that shows that telling overweight people to "eat less and exercise more" rarely helps them lose weight. Includes:
o Study surprises
o Foods that caused the most weight gain
o Foods that caused weight loss
o Lifestyle factors

Nutrition
Here is a collection of articles on important food issues, such as ‘How much water do you need’ or ‘How much protein do you need’ and ‘What to feed children’ and many more.

Health Reports
Another invaluable collection of health reports on varied topics of great importance.

Fast Foods Cause Diabetes, Heart Attacks and Premature Death

White Rice, like Flour, Increases Risk for Diabetes

Habits That Prevent Heart Attacks Also Prevent Cancers

The Good Food Book
You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips here

Intermittent fasting
Apparently very good for you




Tuesday, October 30, 2012

attitude

This has to be the biggest word in life. Well … perhaps not the biggest. Perhaps LOVE is an even bigger word. Love and attitude, closely followed by energy, enthusiasm and curiosity are all intertwined and are huge words to live by.

   attitude
                   love
                            energy
                                         enthusiasm
                                                             curiosity

attitude

I think this word should be written up in the sky.
It should be up there, every day, drifting in and out of clouds like a huge message banner being pulled by an airplane.

You know what I mean by the cup being either half full or half empty. The same damn thing, thought of different ways can make a HUGE difference to the way we perceive the world. consequently our stance to everything that impinges on our consciousness will be coloured by our attitude. Everything.

I’ve seen people fall into the trap of choosing what they don’t want rather than what they want. you may think that I am being unreasonable here … what’s the big deal you may wonder? What’s the big deal about saying - I don’t want to go there rather than I want to go here?

This is the thing: slowly and surreptitiously these thoughts can take us over. By looking at what we don’t want directs us to focus on the negative and keeps that negative aspect in our minds and we could dwell on it and chat to our friends about it and think about it over a cup of tea. I don’t know where I heard the saying ‘That to which you give your attention, grows’ but it’s true. By thinking negative we become negative.
If only we would be thinking of what we want, be thinking of something positive, then these thoughts would give us impetus and energy and happiness. So I try to choose the path I want and try quickly to let go of negative things. For instance, when I get a parking ticket, I pay it immediately - the very next day if I can. because the longer I see that ticket on the table the longer it’ll bug me and it’ll keep bringing my thoughts to reproach myself of how stupid I was not to put money in the meter and so on.
I pay it and it’s done.

This morning i met someone in my fav cafe, les co’pain d’abord café on Boul Mount Royal
We had such an interesting discussion. it went on for hours and one of the things that we discussed was motivation. How do we motivate ourselves? Should it be - We are not trying hard enough, we need to try harder? Or should it be - We are doing great, even though we haven't yet reached our goal, let's keep trying?

I like the way that this is tackled in a that little book entitled: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. In the book an elder seagull Chang is teaching Jonathan, the young student seagull and demonstrates by example what he means:
Chang moves a distance from Jonathan in an instant - without apparently moving a muscle (or a wing :-)
Jonathan is amazed and asks Chang how did you do that? Chang replies:
“To fly as fast as thought, to anywhere that is” he said, ”you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived”

I personally prefer this way of thinking and I believe this can also motivate us.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

nakedness and nudity




i see these two as being quite different.

nakedness for me applies more to our love partner and the family whereas nudity i see as being in a public space without clothes.

nakedness is shedding clothes and looking at yourself with a certain sense of acceptance. i will not go so far as to say with total acceptance, because that is pretty tough i think, well it's certainly tough for me. maybe for you it's easy. but even a strong sense of acceptance is healthy enough. i think we need to have a love for our bodies to be able to roll around on the bed with someone and feel comfortable in our skin. to look, to touch and feel good about the other looking and touching. nakedness to me is feeling free and unashamed to look at each other within the family - accepting a healthy dollop of reservations here for exceptions or certain age-groups.

working towards accepting our bodies 'as is' i think is crucial. and if for some reason we're not happy with being this way, we don't like what we see in the mirror then perhaps embracing and not denying or rejecting, the impetus that this unhappiness may bring to help us set out on the road of healthy changes.

as for nudity ... i believe certain changes, certain growth can only take place once we shed the armour of clothing. to me this is huge. clothing is something to hide behind, something to give us 'a look', the look that we might have cultivated for years. it keeps people out and keeps us from feeling as vulnerable as we ought to feel in order to make profound changes to our thinking. once the initial embarrassment is over i sense a deeper connection with those around me. shed the clothing and walk out with other people who are not clothed and there is nowhere to hide.

i've experienced such stupendous revelations when interacting with others in this way. to witness the rainbow of gender expression that is to be human (real life it is not as most forms would lead us to believe ... tick one or the other box :-); to see the human form 'warts and all' and to see power and beauty reflect in the faces of people who have survived cancer operations led me to look deeply within myself and understand some of my own weaknesses and negative preconceptions.

i've been humbled by the strength people have shown in their nudity.
reducing the anxiety to be seen without clothing also reduces tensions in ourselves that can manifest in different ways. of course we may not all have the opportunity to be nude in public, we can't take our clothes off and kinda walk out into the neighbourhood park, can we? but perhaps by looking around you might find a place, or group where this is possible. if a chance occurs for this, then take it. you also might find such an experience positive.

 :

Sunday, April 3, 2011

profound videos ...


sometimes i come across something that really holds meaning for me.
these are amazingly powerful:


Why do people succeed? Is it because they're smart? Or are they just lucky? Neither. Analyst Richard St. John condenses years of interviews into an un-missable 3-minute slideshow on the real secrets of success.
8 Secrets of success

What should we eat? A powerful example of what food can do for us.
Dr. Terry Wahls - Minding Your Mitochondria

Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.
The paradox of choice

Gil Hedley: Fascia and stretching: The Fuzz Speech. Gil Hedley answers some questions on why we need to move, why we need to exercise and to be active. He shows us on a human cadaver, the physical changes that occur in the body, if we do not exercise.
Fuzz buildup in our bodies

Clogged arteries for Dummies is a video created by Dr Michael Clapper: He shows us exactly what arteriosclerosis looks like in the artery. He delivers a powerful demonstration of why we should eat the correct foods.
Clooged arteries for Dummies

At his Stanford University commencement speech, Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple and Pixar, urges us to pursue our dreams and see the opportunities in life's setbacks -- including death itself.
How to live before you die

TEDxHouston - Brené Brown, vulnerability, joy, creativity, belonging, love
Vulnerability, joy, creativity, belonging, love

Sharing powerful stories from his anti-obesity project in Huntington, W. Va., TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver makes the case for an all-out assault on our ignorance of food.
Making the case for anti-obesity

William Li presents a new way to think about treating cancer and other diseases: anti-angiogenesis, preventing the growth of blood vessels that feed a tumor. The crucial first (and best) step: Eating cancer-fighting foods that cut off the supply lines and beat cancer at its own game.
Can we eat to starve cancer?

Louis Schwartzberg presents a project he is working on: Happines revealed from the point of view of a child and an old man.
Nature, beauty and gratitude



 :

Monday, March 28, 2011

life will be better ...

life will be better ...

this is one of those articles that arrived as an email attachment … you know the ones … the ones i usually delete :-) but this one lives to see another day. the author is unknown.

i’m adding a post-script … a very poignant, personal post-script that i hope will resonate for you and give what is written here a special significance.


We convince ourselves that life will be better once we are married, have a baby, then another. Then we get frustrated because our children are not old enough, and think that all will be well when they are older.
Then we are frustrated because they reach adolescence and we must deal with them. Surely we’ll be happier when they grow out of the teen years.
We tell ourselves our life will be better when our spouse gets his/her act together, when we have a nicer car, when we can take a vacation, when we finally retire.


The truth is that there is no better time to be happy than right now.
If not now, then when?
Your life will always be full of challenges. It is better to admit as much and to decide to be happy in spite of it all.
For the longest time, it seemed that life was about to start. Real life.
But there was always some obstacle along the way, an ordeal to get through, some work to be finished, some time to be given, a bill to be paid. Then life would start.
I finally came to understand that those obstacles were life.
That point of view helped me see that there isn’t any road to happiness.

Happiness IS the road.

So, enjoy every moment.
Stop waiting for school to end, for a return to school, to lose ten pounds, to gain ten pounds, for work to begin, to get married, for Friday evening, for Sunday morning, waiting for a new car, for your mortgage to be paid off, for spring, for summer, for fall, for winter, for the first or the fifteenth of the month, for your song to be played on the radio, to die, to be reborn… before deciding to be happy.

Happiness is a voyage, not a destination.

There is no better time to be happy than… NOW!

Live and enjoy the moment

my post-script:
when my mother was diagnosed with cancer, the doctor came out of the consulting room to give me the diagnoses. he asked whether i wish to break the bad news to her or whether i’d like him to do it. i chose the former, planning to gather the family together and so we could all offer mutual support.

she had worked hard all her life, scrimped and saved and went without, to the point that life became a journey of frugality and self-sacrifice. i can fully understand this, since she came from a poor family, had to gauge out a living and did have to make sacrifices. life was hard for her and she raised her children with determination and overcame the constant struggle to put food on the table.

at the time of the diagnoses, she was in a really nice seniors’ home and had put her name down for a particular apartment that overlooked the harbour. it had a panoramic view over the city and the prospect of living there pleased her so much. we had only just moved her in and it must have seemed to her that she had finally arrived at some glorious point in her life, when the family gathered to break the news of her liver cancer.

she took the news in her stride and asked “so how long have i got … two, three years?”.

“no, only three months” was the bad news we had to give her.

i remember the moment well … she looked away, almost absent-mindedly, paused a few seconds and said “and i was just about to start living”.

 :

Friday, March 25, 2011

any moment

i found this poem hidden in an amazing book that’s full of truths:
Thus it is by Martin Exeter
Published by Foundation House Publication Inc.
ISBN 0 935427 23 6

for me, this poem seems to stab to the very core of meaning in our attitude


        Any moment of hating
                Any moment of lying
        Any moment of resentment
                Any moment of dying


        Any moment of loving
                Any moment of giving
        Any moment of thankfulness
                Any moment of living


        All our moments add together
                Like digits in a sum
        And the answer tells us plainly
                Whether life or death shall come

 :

Sunday, May 10, 2009

what’s important

some years ago i went on some courses in south africa run by dr. baruch banai

i attended Turning Point, Joyspring and The Mile, organized by by insight training center

i thought they were powerful. they were really good for me and i have no doubt that the way i am now has been affected by these workshops. i ‘d like to share one simple but hugely important item that sticks in my mind from one of these courses:

be clear on what is important to you

in its simplicity, this is saying to us that we can’t have things both ways. if we need to cross the stream and there is no bridge, we have to accept that we will get our boots wet. if it’s more important for us to keep our boots dry then we don’t cross the stream. simple. there is no compromise here.

in life we often come up against similar situations. we want something but can’t let go of something else. we often cause concern and anguish for ourselves simply because we don’t accept this simple fact. there’s a decision to be made … this or that … not both. we hang on and hang on and try all sorts of things to keep both. be clear on what is important to you.

once we’re clear on what’s truly important to us; what it is that we really want and then let go of the other thing, then life becomes so much simpler.