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.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Sex is like air … it’s no big deal until you’re not getting any : - )

I’m starting with a joke because I don’t want this blog entry to be too serious. Sex is a huge subject and very much up there in the forefront, alongside the subject of love and it can have a big influence on our wellness.

But people are divided. To some people, like me it’s very important but to others, it may not be. If you’re happy the way you feel then all is well. I’m not making recommendations one way or the other. For me sex is a beautiful gift - a gift from the gods. For me it can be used in many ways: to make us happy; to show each other love; to bond a relationship; to play on a sunday afternoon; it can be the most wholesome and beautiful thing between people.
It can be many things depending on how we feel, who we are with and what the moment brings.
a Previous partner would wake me in the middle of the night to have sex if she couldn’t get off to sleep - she swore that it was better than a sleeping pill. It can be strong and aggressive, it can be playful, it can be loving and dreamy, it can be casual, it can be with the intent of making babies – wow! can it be more wonderful than that?

I see two aspects of sexual expression:
the play, the touching, fondling, kissing part with a partner and/or the orgasm with or without a partner. Both make us feel good - one strokes us on the outside and one strokes us on the inside. They can go hand in hand or not ... it doesn't matter I think but what matters is that we engage in it (if that is your propensity - as I mentioned in the previous paragraph) and abandon ourself to it and enjoy it. it is so satisfying and feels so good that I think it must have a deep wellness component.

I would take the following tongue-in-cheek but  Live Science Magazine
reported some years ago that if you can't make it to the gym, try fooling around. Your heart might thank you. A study of 2,500 men aged 49 to 54 found that having an orgasm at least three times a week cut in half the likelihood of death from coronary heart disease.

Of course we bring a load of baggage with sexuality -  our mother’s and father’s influence, our early experiences, our fears about letting go, our fears about our bodies and being naked, our adult experiences – often having been let down or having been disappointed or even hurt. For me the never ending performance anxiety. I could go on and on. Such a complex area of our lives is bound to affect our wellness.

if however, you are one of those people for whom it is not high on the list, then don’t  read further.
Be truthful with yourself though … we must not pretend it’s not important if in reality it is, but our many failures (or what we perceive as failures though in fact they may not have been failures at all) have convinced us to pretend that we don’t care about it. That’s not a good idea. The thought will only continue on a much deeper level in our minds and it can spread poison into other areas of our lives.

I can’t even suggest that you ‘be yourself’, because I can see how I’ve changed over the years. When I look back on my own sexual path which started in such naivety, I see that I’ve learned so much from every person that I’ve met on that path. I try not be hold back, to go into each relationship with as much hope, openness and honesty as always and just keep on … trusting, loving, experiencing, and having fun.  

Friday, May 8, 2009


am I happy? i don’t know … i think half the time it’s not knowing what level of happiness i should be at that stops me from saying – yes, i’m happy. i wonder if others are in fact much happier than i am? should i be feeling happy? isn’t there something more?

it reminds me of tree-planting, when rookies get cream. let me decipher this language to some of you who may not be planters … as a beginner planter, you (like everyone else) get good, bad, terrible or sometimes very good ground that we call ‘cream’. so when a new planter looks at their ground and doesn’t realize this is the best they are ever likely to get, they just start planting in the ordinary way – plant for a bit, sit down for a rest, eat a sandwich, have a smoke, plant some more.

when experienced planters gets cream they goes crazy! they know that if you don’t plant this quickly, soon enough others will start coming onto your land to ‘help’ you to finish it. there’s not much cream usually and it goes quickly. so the experienced planter pulls out all stops! no sitting down! nothing but plant, run back to bag up and plant like there’s no tomorrow. an experienced planter knows that this IS cream.

so knowing that yes, this IS happiness is a big thing.

but what IS happiness? does money bring happiness? well the scientific answer (and we so love scientific answers don’t we?) is that it’s the little things in life that govern whether we feel happy or not. for the purpose of the study, rich people and middle and low income people were given little bleepers and throughout the day at various times when their bleepers went off, they were asked to enter whether they felt happy or not at that precise moment.

the results of this study concluded that in fact, whether you were rich or not had nothing to do with your level of happiness. researchers found that the link between wealth and good mood to be “greatly exaggerated and mostly an illusion”. it was little things, like the joy in the cup of tea you were drinking, or whether you felt good after your night’s sleep, or whether any number of small seemingly insignificant things made you feel good at that particular time that determined your overall level of happiness. “even a life-changing event like winning the lottery or suffering a disabling injury doesn't preoccupy most people for ever” researchers said. “eventually, rich or poor, we all go back to focussing on how good our breakfast tastes and what's on TV.”

my good friend mary holding posted on facebook recently: ‘for the first time in my life, I'm not waiting for anything to happen so that I can be happy’.

don’t you just love what she said?

ps. this is an interesting analysis: The Economics of Happiness
Wednesday 31 August 2011
by: Jeffrey D. Sachs, Project Syndicate | News Analysis

Thursday, April 30, 2009

just ordinary tea

Another little gem from The Orange Book - which I found lying on the table at a most unexpected place. Yes … when the student is ready the teacher will come.

Just ordinary tea – enjoy it!

Live moment to moment.

For three weeks, try: whatsoever you are doing, do it as totally as possible; love it enjoy it. Maybe it looks silly. If you are drinking tea it is silly to enjoy it too much – it is just ordinary tea.

But ordinary tea can become extraordinarily beautiful – a tremendous experience. Make it a ceremony: making tea … listening to the kettle and the sound, then pouring the tea … smelling the fragrance of it; than tasting the tea and feeling happy.

Dead people cannot drink tea; only very alive people. This moment you are alive! And don’t think of the future; the next moment will take care of itself. Think not of the morrow: for three weeks live in the moment.

Source: The Orange Book, The Meditation Techniques of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Sunday, April 5, 2009

regular exercise

regular exercise
one of the major hurdles in exercising regularly is time and money. time to go to the gym: to get our gear together, pack it in to the car, drive there and back … it takes so much time and money. how many of us has decided that - this year, we will exercise? how many of us have exercise bikes, or weights that are gathering cobwebs in some remote corner of the house. that’s the problem with gadgets. they seem great when we are full of enthusiasm. the gym sales people love us in january, but often don’t see us from february or march onwards because we get bogged down with other things.
so the best way of overcoming this difficulty is to not go to the gym – which means exercising at home. i find this the best way because there are no excuses – there are no gadgets, no travel time. ask yourself if you are worth 11 minutes a day to keep healthy? the answer has gotta be YES!
so here’s the deal:
there’s an exercise program that was developed in the 60’s by the canadian air force. no gadgets, no travel time, it can be done in your home, in the bedroom or any spare room. i’ve been doing it for many years and it works. 5 basic exercises for men and 10 basic exercises for women (don’t ask me why it is 10 for women … i too am puzzled). these exercises hit all the major body parts, the upper body, the big muscles of the leg, the stomach. they can be done by anybody whether you are totally unfit or whether you are close to being an olympic athlete. no, i am not kidding, these 5 basic exercises are even good for the superfit person – check out the star-jumps in exercise 5, page 29 of the Chart.
the thing to do is to start doing them and develop the habit of exercising. i find the mornings are the best for me, my stomach is empty and i do them as i roll out of bed (unless someone is sharing my bed in which case i don’t feel like just rolling out :-) check out the original booklet which gives you charts for different fitness levels.
start with the level that is recommended for you – check with your doctor if you feel you need to.
start now. read my blog ‘until one is committed’ if you’re hesitating.
ps. these exercises were developed in the 60s, and show straight back sit-ups and not crunches. i don’t know much about these things but i believe, it is crunches we should be doing to exercise our stomach muscles and we should also be doing them obliquely (cross over – left elbow to right knee) and not with straight backs: raise heads first, shoulders and then upper body in a smooth rolling motion.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

our correct weight

we are organisms - many celled, largish, intelligent, but for all that, still simply organisms. as such, we have a certain build, a certain weight that is the correct weight for our organism.
i feel much better if i have to climb a few flights of stairs and my weight is correct – if my muscle to weight ratio is correct. when i go hiking and have a hefty backpack to carry: the tent, the spare clothing, and the food - the going becomes much more difficult, i’m out of breath easier and i get tired quicker and need to rest more often. the weight i have to carry (the backpack plus my body weight) is not in balance with the heart. the heart has not only to be fit (and i’ll talk about fitness in another blog) but also has to be the correct size for the organism – and that’s me.
regular size heart working hard all the time to pump blood to a large body = trouble.
Sportspeople - long distance runners, climbers, talk of their muscle to weight ratio as being crucial for participating in their particular sport. Every pound of weight we put on is 5 miles of blood vessels. If your heart beats 100,000 times a day, that's 500,000 miles a day for one pound of fat,– see discussion here
body mass index (bmi) is a is a tool used to assess our weight which in turn helps us to learn about our health risks. are you at your healthy weight? you can either look up your bmi on the chart below or find out fast here

Thursday, March 26, 2009

exercises for the back

Chronic pain is debilitating, both by making you feel terrible and by stopping you from doing other things: things which will generate energy and enthusiasm and are fun to do. If you have backache, you don’t feel like exercising and you’re not in a position to go for a jog or climb a mountain or go skiing or even play with your children. These fun pursuits give you energy and they create a social atmosphere of interaction that makes you feel good. Social, physical interaction in my opinion is a positive contributory factor for wellness.
As will be apparent on reading my other wellness posts - I strongly believe that there is a physical component to wellness; in feeling physically good, feeling strong, feeling healthy, having a positive body image … all these things can help promote a feeling of wellness. Note well that i am not saying these are prerequisites … only that they can contribute!
What then can we do about persistent backache?
These are the exercises given to me by an osteopath many years ago when I had back problems. I had an accident which put my back in a bad way; the hospital had given me a corset to wear (for the rest of my life they said) but the osteopath said "if you do these exercises every day for the rest of your life, you will never again have backache".
He was right.
I've added 4 exercises (the ones without numbers) to the original list. With one exception these added exercises are yoga exercises, which I found over the years. They feel particularly beneficial for me - perhaps they might also be beneficial for you, so leave them in or take them out? The exception is the chiropractor exercise (I call it this because it was recommended to me by a chiropractor); apparently helps to keep some of the bones of the lower back from becoming immobile.
Every day for the rest of your life - less than 10 minutes a day - no backache
Sounds like a good deal to me

Monday, March 23, 2009

until one is committed

Let me recount the story of how I got hold of this bit of wisdom. My daughter Karen and I were heading treeplanting and stopped at OceanIsland Backpackers Hostel in Victoria. Coming down to breakfast next morning, we found a sheet of paper with the photocopy of this quote from Goethe at each table in the kitchen area. I was gobsmacked by the quote, it made an tremendous impact on me - not only the quote but that someone would have the generosity of spirit to making all those copies and placing them on the tables. I wonder how many lives have been touched, enriched and perhaps improved by that single, simple action. So here it is for you to ponder:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative (and creation).

There is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too - All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come his or her way.

Whatever you can or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Saturday, March 21, 2009

nutrition in a nutshell

this might sound trite ... to simplify something to this degree but when i came across this quote in this book i was gobsmacked at the beauty of it, the trueness of it and the utter simplicity of something that can be made to seem so complicated.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Note of explanation: The author explains that by ‘food’ he means basic foods, such as: fruit, wholemeal grains, meat, vegetables, potatoes, eggs, cheese, milk and the like, that we usually find around the perimeter of a supermarket and not the processed, prepared foods that we find in the centre isles.
Source: In Defense Of Food by Michael Pollan

this i believe

‘This I Believe’ is a CBC Radio project that engages Canadians in writing and sharing the core values and beliefs that guide their daily lives. It is no longer operating.
I wrote this essay within the guidelines of the CBC radio project. You may read the background information to This I Believe and the 50+ essays that have been submitted and broadcast by the CBC at the following links: Description of the project here Contributions broadcast by the CBC here
This is the essay written by me on the lines of the This I Belive project:

       I believe in the promise and the beauty of each new day!

I am sitting in the kitchen of my apartment, looking expectantly at the trees in the lane behind the houses. It’s early morning. The shadows are still deep among the green wall of leaves facing me but the sky is a clear blue vault overhead. The point where the sky meets the tree-line is about to explode into light. The golden orb of the sun is peeking out, sending yellow shafts flashing in my direction, bathing the plants on the windowsill in the palest lemon imaginable. I can already feel the warmth on my face and I breathe out, I relax. What shall I do - how shall I make this day, I ask myself?

For me, every sunrise offers a brand new start - like turning a notebook onto a clean page. Even if I messed up the previous pages, here and now I can start again. Something that I have neglected: perhaps to write a letter to one of my children rather than the usual quick email. A letter which is long overdue, to tell them how much I love them. Perhaps today I can try not to let the traffic get me down. Perhaps from today I will try to be more organized and have some friends round for dinner – something that I have been putting off for far too long.

I have learned over the years that so much of how the day goes is within my power to affect. Not all days start sunny; many seem very ordinary and humdrum, yet by focusing on little pleasures, even those days bring me joy. Noticing the pure colour of a tomato, or being conscious of the smell of ironing or the smooth texture of an avocado in my mouth, somehow revives my spirits and stops me from feeling depressed. There are so many moments of enjoyment in a day, if only we would look up from our busyness and make a habit of recognizing them.

To me, each day is filled with promise; each morning gives me the chance to start afresh. To start with new enthusiasm, new energy and do what I have vowed to do before but never got round to. To be open to new ideas; to be on the lookout for something brand new to add some spice and excitement to my life. Each sunrise not only bathes me in golden light but also reassures me that this beautiful earth is here to enjoy, and I have been given yet another day to do just that – to enjoy my life, to smile at someone, to feel the wind in my hair.

And if for some reason I did not do everything that I should have, and the day is ending; well then, I always have tomorrow. That’s one of the most wonderful things - knowing it’s never too late; I can start again with each sunrise and ask myself yet again – how shall I make this day?

For This I believe, I’m János Varga in Montreal.

about me

I've been thinking about wellness and trying to live in a way to promote my own wellness for a long time. Been collecting snippets of information, links, quotes and wisdom for years. 
Sometimes when I found something, it would just hit me … that particular time was the right time for me to find it and then and only then did the meaning come through. Have you heard of the saying ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will come’? I might have seen it before but it had just passed me by. 
Many quotes, bits of wisdom that I’m reproducing here or offering a link, can be found elsewhere on the internet. I clearly show the source of all material and it is not my intention to use other peoples thoughts as my own. If i quote something here, it is because I found it significant for me, 
I found that it helped me in my life and who knows, you also might find it significant in your life. I would like to share these snippets of wisdom with you. 
As Barack Obama would say ... yes, we can :-) … I believe wellness is within our grasp

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

the secret

This is the secret. 
THE secret: De-automatize. 
Walking, walk slowly, watchfully. Looking, look watchfully, and you will see threes are greener than they have ever been and roses are rosier than they have ever been! 
Somebody is talking, gossiping: listen, listen attentively. When you are talking, talk attentively. 
Let your whole waking activity become de-automatized. 
Source: The Orange Book, The Meditation Techniques of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Sunday, March 8, 2009


are you starting to read this with a frown ... wondering what kind of disclaimer i am putting here? what could i be disclaiming? well you need not frown. i want to tell you a simple but important thing - i am not a guru. 

i don't know a lot of things and most of what i write in this blog are things that have worked for me. no training in ... well, let's say little training but lots of experience. my writing here is spontaneous - i am not doing drafts and revisions, so if there’s a mistake of some kind, please go ahead and let me know. i foresee me adding to, changing, revising most of what is here on an ongoing basis. 

my thoughts change with time, maybe my thoughts are not so clear in one area they often only crystallize as i'm putting them down, as i am talking with someone. i am only stumbling through all of this myself.

and no, i’ve not reached any destination, i too am on a journey

defining wellness

what is wellness?

such a difficult thing to define … is it the way we think? - yes, partially.

is it affected by the way we look? - can be.

do beautiful people possess wellness? - not necessarily.

can a poor person possess wellness? - yes.

what about a rich person, someone with loads of cabbage ... are they automatically in the club? – no!

so it is nothing to do with money? – well now … this is a difficult one … let’s say that there is a threshold above which money has nothing to do with wellness. but let me also add that this threshold is pretty low and it varies from country to country and we (i count myself here too) in the more fortunate, wealthier part of the world place this threshold much too high … much too high.

can a person who is really old and in poor health possess wellness? - yes.

can a youthful person in good shape feel that they do not possess it? - yes.

so it has nothing to do with age! - that’s correct.

what about being sick … can i possess wellness if i am sick? - yes.

so we tell the doctor we are not well but can still possess wellness? - yes … as crazy as that sounds, the answer is yes.

nothing to do with beauty, little to do with whether we are rich or poor, nothing to do with age, nothing to do with the health of our bodies … sure is an elusive thing to define … this wellness.

to complicate matters, the english language does’nt make it easier for us. some words are used interchangeably and we have to be clear that being well or unwell (as we would tell our doctor) is not the same as possessing wellness. and i don’t for the life of me know what the opposite of wellness is … it’s not ‘unwellness’ that’s for sure.

do we have to define it right now? - not really. why not just read the notes, go to the links, look at the things other people have said and perhaps the meaning will reveal itself for you.

each of us define our own wellness. what wellness is for me, is not wellness for you. each of us have different ways of being well, so don’t think i am providing a blueprint for it in this blog. no!

i’m providing ideas for you to think about; ideas which you will either ignore or incorporate into your life. ideas that might provide answers or provoke actions. but please remember that these not just wishful ideas – they’ve been proved. they’re tried and tested. they’ve worked for me and they might work for you.

i really believe wellness is within our grasp.