Self care Sunday – Time Out

This is my first post in a week

You may have noticed or not because everyone is caught up relishing the joys of Summer.    It’s normal for me to cut back posts from mid-July until the end of August.  Time to wind down. I become more lazy, take time out for myself,  spend more time outside and quality time with others.

However at present I am devoting my full time and energy to a very difficult family situation.  Eventually I might write about it.  It’s the first time in a loooong time that I find it hard to concentrate on more than what is at hand.  It’s been emotionally draining and I must look after myself on top of it all because…

Simple pleasures: it’s strange to note that something as unexciting as changing the bed sheets give me a simple boost of pleasure.  Something as habitual as sitting down with my morning coffee to check e-mails is more relaxing than normal and a fifteen minute afternoon nap is heaven sent.  I don’t function well when there is chaos around me and my surroundings need to be relatively clean and tidy.

Which brings me back to what it means to take time out.  It’s important to not totally deplete your energy. And we don’t need Denis Waitley (best-selling author of the audio series “The Psychology of Winning” and books such as “Seeds of Greatness” and “The Winner’s Edge”) to tell us so.  Although he did say:

Time and health are two precious assets that we don’t recognize and appreciate until they have been depleted.

Food for Thought

 

 

 

 

 

Health and Happiness

I’m so happy to be reporting again about happiness and health going hand in hand.  It’s really everything you need to live a good life.  And it’s always timely because…health2

Good health and happiness: to achieve one, you need the other, but bumps along the journey can get in the way of our goals.

“Without good health it’s hard to be happy,” says Michelle W. Book, holistic nutritionist for the Canadian Health Food Association.  “Focusing on a few key pillars can make all the difference.”

Understanding your nutritional needs is for everyone to consider, not only Canadians.

Ideally, we’d all be eating balanced meals rich with nutritious, organic foods.  Reality is, many people often eat convenience foods because of their busy lives or treat “cheat days” too kindly.  As a result, they aren’t getting the necessary nutrients.

Most of us don’t consume enough minerals like magnesium, calcium or potassium, and fail to get enough vitamin D and fibre in their diets.

Strengthen your immune system

Getting sick is the worst.  Sickness motivates an entire pathway inside our bodies that can lead to something called “sickness behaviour.”  This can lead to confusion, lethargy, social withdrawal, anxiety and depression, the result of our immune system cells releasing tiny chemicals, called cytokines, which impact the way our brain sends signals and can slow us down and depress our mood.  Keeping our immune system in good working order can help to reduce the severity and duration of illness.  A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help as taking a good multi-vitamin to fill in the nutritional gaps.

Keep Stress at Bay

Stress increases our need for nutrients.  Heightened stress increases the breakdown of carbohydrates and protein, which rely on Vitamin C and B to be broken down, meaning you use up your store of these nutrients more quickly.  Finding time to eat a healthy, balance diet when you’re stressed can often be difficult.  When dealing with stress, it’s important to ensure your body’s mineral needs are met.  High stress levels deplete the magnesium in the body, which can result in a “downward spiral” in one’s ability to cope with stress.  Mineral supplementation, including magnesium and zinc, may improve psychological measures of anxiety or stress.

Here are a few other foods you may want to consider to improve your immune health:

Nuts: Include nuts in your diet, which provide you with a perfect blend of immune-boosting nutrients, including protein, vitamin E, zinc and selenium. Cashews and pecans in particular are some of the higher nut-based zinc sources, while Brazil nuts are high in selenium.

Kimchi: This fermented cabbage dish from Korea is rich in vitamins C and E, carotenoids, and antioxidant enzymes. It’s also a healthy whole-food source of probiotics, the good gut bacteria that keep your immune system in check.

Garlic: This member of the allium family has been shown to reduce cold symptoms and improve immune cell activity.

Probiotic supplements: Lactobacillus probiotics in particular have been shown to improve the immune systems of both our gut and our entire body.

Mushrooms: Reishi mushroom extracts contain bioactive compounds called “lectins” that increase the activity of our white blood cells.

And Mindfulness is of growing importance:health3

A nasty unexpected virus attacked me while traveling which was of major concern.  I don’t know where it came from and don’t remember ever having taken antibiotics before but I was willing to do whatever it took to get rid of it, or discontinue the trip and go back home. I felt like the worse version of myself. Anyway, the reality is that while it took at least one week to clear up and feel almost back to normal, the worst part lasted for only two days. Not bad considering.  I can only attribute it to an overall healthier way of living.  Granted I did get sick in the first place but I guess it could have lasted a lot longer. I suppose you can call it being more mindful in general. So I’m right on trend.

A growing trend to de-stress is practicing mindfulness. There’s research connecting the benefits of stress reduction through practicing mindfulness with the health of our immune system. Practicing mindfulness has a number of positive impacts on the immune system, including reducing inflammation markers and stress hormones, and has also been shown to increase some immune cells and improve activity in the areas of the brain responsible for coordinating the immune system.

“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.” ~Sharon Salzberg

Incorporating mindfulness into your lifestyle can actually help to minimize the occurrence, length and severity of the flu or common cold. Some aspects of mindfulness can be simple to include in your everyday routine, such as paying attention to your breathing, tuning into your body’s physical sensations and practicing mindful meditation.healthy1

I like this quote:

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

Source: Canadian Health Food Association

Mindful & MindLess

Middle Space

yoga exercise abstract

Think about it. It’s that stage in meditation when you’re in that place…in between sleep & wakefulness.  Meditation is kind of tricky if you’re not used to it.  It sounds easy enough but it takes practice…and more practice to be able to clue out all the surrounding clatter (there’s always distractions) and be completely still without actually falling asleep while remaining conscious.  At least that’s my unprofessional opinion – a*Yin & Yang effect. 

We can learn from our feline friends. I think everything you need to know about meditation can be taught by observing cats.  They are masters at relaxing and stillness while remaining alert.

Jia Jia likes to escape & meditate in his little hideaway spot.

Jia Jia likes to escape & meditate in this little hideaway beside the courtyard.

I’ve been contemplating meditation for several years but only recently experienced it.

I have a long way to go but I’m positive that over time I’ll be able to achieve this.  The very first time I was asked by the coach (yes, there’s a coach for starters) how I felt afterwards.  My answer: “it reminded me of napping in kindergarten except for hearing the rattling of dishes, people talking in another room and general outside disturbances.  Is there any way you can let them know that we’re in a practice so they can keep quiet for the duration?”

That’s when the coach replied that the whole purpose of meditation is to be able to quiet your mind even through the little (& larger) everyday outside distractions.  The next time I was much better at it and I’ll keep getting better.  Then I saw this:

Meditation & the big “O” – The Secrets of Orgasmic Meditation

We might just be the last people to this particular pajama party, but I recently found out that there’s an entire meditation practice that revolves around orgasms. Nicole Daedone—the creator of Orgasmic Meditation (OM) and the founder of its rapidly growing organization, OneTaste—explains it in broad terms: OM is to sex, as yoga is to fitness.  The goal of the practice? Experiencing more connection, happiness, vitality, and fulfillment—all possible, according to Daedone, when you have the power of Orgasm with a capital “O.” As Daedone explains below, she distinguishes the Orgasmic state (a larger state of consciousness) from the conventional definition of orgasm as climax (fleeting physical pleasure).

Daedone has studied Zen Buddhism, mystical Judaism, and semantics, and the practice of OM combines distinctive elements of her diverse background and expertise in surprising but thoughtful ways. Her company, OneTaste, has a presence in 30 cities around the globe, with tens of thousands of participants. Daedone is also the author of Slow Sex: The Art and Craft of the Female Orgasm. Check out her SXSW talk that explains how Orgasm and the internet share a common purpose. (Yes, you read that correctly.)  Here she answers some questions:

Q:   What is the practice of Orgasmic Meditation all about?

A:  It is a practice that combines the power and attention of meditation with the deeply human, deeply felt, and connected experience of orgasm.

When I first tried OM, I had a life-changing experience. It was so profound, so, “Oh! This is what is supposed to be!” that I began to investigate the question: what would happen if we rebuilt sex from the ground up, but this time included consciousness and spirituality. The same way that we have been moving from processed to whole foods, from mere fitness to yoga, OM shifted sex out of the dark, under the covers, from the shameful and often consumptive places where it used to be, and into the light. Here we can have experiences that foster our well-being. We take the most powerful impulse, the orgasm impulse, and approach it in an entirely new way. OM offers a practice through which we can harness this impulse that is a deliberate, repeatable method for accessing the orgasm state.

And there’s an important distinction that’s worth making here. I differentiate between climax and the orgasm state. Climax is a few seconds of physical experience, whereas the state of orgasm is continuous—more akin to an optimal state of consciousness brought about from the activation of the sex impulse. It’s that feeling of being so completely absorbed in an experience that there is no psychic chatter, no being “stuck in your head”; a falling away of the ego. When this happens, our sense of limitations falls away as well. In the orgasm state, we feel totally present and connected, as if a deeper intuitive sense has awakened. The state occurs both in the practice of OM itself, and it has cumulative positive effects that carry over into everyday life.

Q:  Why do you believe so many women are conflicted about orgasm? And why do you think it’s so difficult for so many women to achieve orgasm?

A: I’ve worked with tens of thousands of women and I’ve not once seen a woman who couldn’t access the orgasm state. I’ve met women who can’t climax in the way a man does, but I’ve never seen a woman who isn’t capable of entering the state I’m talking about. And women are conflicted because the options available to them are not the options that suit their bodies! They’re based almost entirely on a confining definition of climax. For instance, reading arousal in a woman’s body is often more challenging than in a man’s. We’re conditioned to think “orgasm” can only be present when there’s a huge peak and release of energy (with all the attendant thrashing and moaning). But a women’s arousal can be so much more subtle. You can tune into it through swelling, juices, contractions of the vaginal walls, pulsing, buzzing, tingling, and so many other sensations. Many women may have these experiences, but discount them because they don’t conform to the conventional definition we have of orgasm.

Not only that, but women also contend with a much higher vigilance center—you know that part of the mind that’s always on the lookout for threat or danger. To get our minds to relax, root into our bodies and simply feel, is a much more challenging task for women than for men. We’re thinking about picking up the kids, the meeting at work tomorrow, how our bodies look, and on and on. So to have a practice that allows a woman to soften and shift her attention to how she actually feels is invaluable. It’s like she gets to have a sober blackout, to totally relax, and come back refreshed and with a whole new perspective.

Q:  How can we incorporate some of the tenets of OM into our sex lives?

A:  There are 10 key tenets of OM that we can take into all areas of life. For instance, at One Taste, we say, “let your desire lead.” As women, we are often taught that our desire is indulgent or selfish, but true desire is at the foundation of all great things—from relationships to innovation. It’s the only force powerful enough to pull us out of the everyday routine of life, or the muck and mire we sometimes get stuck in. I’ve always noticed that beneath every complaint is actually a desire, so we train women to go straight for speaking the desire. And you know what? Women are positively shocked to discover that their partners are dying to hear specific instruction. I had one couple come into an OM class who had given up after 17 years of a fairly challenging sex life. We did a simple exercise, “Just instruct him on what you desire, the pressure, the speed, the intensity.” At one point in the session, the husband began to cry. He said all along he had just wanted to know how to have her feel good. Desire, it turns out, is vital for human connection; and we often discover that what seems selfish is, in fact, anything but.

Another tenet is “feel over formula.” Bookshelves are overflowing with books on sex techniques, magazines are chock full of “How to Please Him in Bed” articles, and yet no one seems to be finding what they are looking for. The reason is that what they are looking for is not in the technique. What makes yoga invaluable is not just a series of postures, but the added dimension of awareness one develops. That “something extra” is what we are looking for in intimacy as well. So what we teach are processes that train people how to viscerally sense each other. An example is touching for your pleasure—showing people how to touch for the pleasure in their own hands, not entirely unlike the way that they would stroke velvet or their pets. Not to get an effect, but to be present in the pleasure in your own body and with each other. The small miracle is that when we are actually there with each other fully and leave behind the toys and the feather boas or the complicated lingerie, we discover that the simple connection is what we’ve actually been craving all along. And we can begin to extend this into our whole lives. We learn to take pleasure from the experience. Not living from a formula, but from how good something feels.

Q:  Your first book is called Slow Sex. What is slow sex, and why do you believe it’s better?

A:  I was super turned on to the Slow Movement when I wrote Slow Sex. The Slow philosophy is not merely about doing everything slowly, it’s about doing everything at the right speed, in their tempo giusto, or exact time. It’s about savoring experience rather than rushing through it. And, most importantly, it’s about taking the time to nourish. I often talk about the Western Woman’s Mantra: “I eat too much, I work too much, I give too much, and yet there is still this hunger that I cannot feed.” It just so happens that this hunger is only fed in the slowness of human connection—coming back to basics, reprioritizing our well-being over our “doing.”

As far as being better, I have an interesting vantage point in the world. When people ask me what I do, I say, “I teach about orgasm.” Immediately following the “wow” (it usually looks like their circuits are a bit blown), they will often respond with some variation of: “ah, thanks, but my sex life is just fine,” or, “my sex life is good.” And after 20 years of practice, and after having been one of those people myself at one point, I want to say this: fine and good is not good enough. Inside your own body, you carry the most powerful drive on the planet that can be used not just to feel good but to evolve you as a human being, to incline you towards empathy, connection, and generosity both as evidenced scientifically and experientially. My wish is that our old-guard view of sex as recreational or indulgent gets replaced with the perspective that it can be used for personal and collective evolution in the most real and practical way imaginable. To use a Buddhist expression, we can turn poison into medicine. We can shift from sex as consumptive, porn-riddled, and denigrating, to a practice that heals, connects, and empowers.

Q:  Is there really such a thing as a 15-minute orgasm?

A:  Well, I hesitated to say four hours, because I didn’t think anyone would believe me…

I remember the first time I tried OM. My partner was stroking and nothing happened. As per usual. I was thinking this whole thing was either a very strange or very stupid idea. Or both. I had a typical range of scattered thoughts: I must be doing this wrong. I shouldn’t have eaten, my stomach is poochy. He’s kinda creepy. I wonder if we’ll get married…

Then something else broke open and I was immersed into a totally different psychological dimension. Suddenly, I started crying. I felt like something that had built up inside me—something I didn’t even know was there before—was suddenly thawing. I felt a hit of genuine empathy in that moment. Keep in mind that I had experienced universal connection in sitting meditation, but now I was experiencing it while connected to another human being. And once you have that experience everything begins to rearrange itself. Everything that blocked connection fell away and what had previously been a spotty glimpse of what was possible, was now simply on.

It was my first visceral experience of the orgasm state. And the more I practiced Orgasmic Meditation, the more my capacity to know and understand intuitively what was happening with people, to feel them, and to actually have room for them, increased. Dramatically. I was cultivating the capacity to maintain stillness of mind in more and more intense situations, which in turn allowed for presence of mind in all situations. It was not additive growth, though; it was exponential. It became something I could feel everywhere.

Q:  If you could change one thing about our common perception of orgasm and sex, what would it be?

A:  To date, we have been squandering one of our most powerful resources: the sex impulse. We have been using it, haphazardly, recreationally, to blow off steam when, if channeled correctly, it could be used to light up the entire power grid of connection. Orgasm—capital “O”—is so, so much more than the brief, fleeting climax we have been taught to think of it as. When we harness our sexual energy, we change the whole of our lives and become more empathetic, connected, loving human beings.

I want people to truly understand that how you get where you are going profoundly affects what you get when you arrive. We have not been taught simple ways to access what we are looking for that contribute to our overall well-being, restore pleasure, and in the process make us better human beings. Orgasm has a big promise: union. Tibetan Buddhists use it as a metaphor for enlightenment, and yet we have not seen it deliver. Until now.

Q: You’ve said that orgasm has the ability to increase our bandwidth for connection and attention. How does this extend outside of the bedroom, and is there science behind it?

A:  OM changes the way we respond to sensation; it changes our brain. It strengthens the parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”) as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”). And it affects our metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and brain chemistry, and brings about a state of extended deep relaxation. Similar to other mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga, these changes make it possible to develop attention and access flow states—the ability to be “in the zone.” (Recent research in Los Angeles and Philadelphia found that just three months of OM can help put you into the same alpha brain state as three years of transcendental meditative practice!)

OM also shifts our center of intelligence from the cortex system to the limbic system—which allows us to feel things like intimacy and empathy, and which has a flexible capacity—expanding our appetite for connection.

Maybe most significantly, OM bolsters the “happy hormones”—like oxytocin, dopamine, and prolactin—that are known to make us feel good (minus the less sweet side effects of medication). Oxytocin, in particular, plays an important role when it comes to how we bond with others. Symptoms of low levels of oxytocin include everything from poor social involvement to low libido, sleep disturbances, weight gain, and depression—and low oxytocin seems to be playing a big part in the breakdown of human connection. Friends who are scientists have suggested to me that female orgasm may actually exist solely for the purpose of human connection. There are two scenarios in which a woman’s body really pumps out oxytocin (which is often called the bonding hormone): childbirth and orgasm. In terms of biological evolution, it may just be that we need oxytocin in order to keep us bonded to one another, to keep our culture together.

Q:  We heard you were once going to be a nun…

A: It often surprises people that on my way to becoming a Buddhist, I discovered this practice. In actuality, both are about developing consciousness and connection. Now they just call me “the nun that gets some.”

Ommmm….this sounds more like my kind of meditation!   

Source: GooP

*Yin Yang  

the short version:

Being and non-being produce each other.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low oppose each other.
Fore and aft follow each other                                                                                            

from the Tao Te Ching

UPS – (you will see this from time to time on my posts).  It means I will be delivering an upcoming post soon on a specific topic.  I want to delve deeper into Yin & Yang because it’s an interesting ancient philosophy about contrary forces which may actually be complementary. Yin Yang is perhaps the most known and documented concept used within Taoism).  Stay tuned….

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness RULES! – Part Two

Following yesterdays post re the ancient philosophy of Vedantamind2

Peace of Mind is the most important factor for feeling grounded and achieving happiness.

What disturbs your peace of mind?

No external factors can disturb you except yourself. You make yourself, you mark yourself. The world cannot disturb you.mind1

Rule #1: If you operate on likes and dislikes, you will face the consequences thereof.

A man picks up a cigarette and finds so much pleasure in it; another guy can’t stand smoking. A man goes to a lawyer to divorce his wife, and he finds great pleasure in getting rid of her; another guy is desperately waiting to marry the same lady.

This happens everywhere: The lady produces joy to one, sorrow to another. Therefore, it is not in the object or in the being—it is in how you relate to it. It’s your mind that wreaks havoc on your peace, not the external world. It is a mistake to believe that joy or sorrow is in the external world.

The mind is replete with likes and dislikes. So when you’re operating at the level of the mind, you do what you like, and you avoid what you don’t like. And when you’re dependent on your likes and dislikes, it’s miserable. For example, an Indian comes to the United States and he only likes rice and dal, but you give him pasta. What is this pasta? Meanwhile, the pasta-lover doesn’t like rice. If you operate on likes and dislikes, you’re dependent on the world. The world is in a flux of change. It can’t cater to your likes all the time. Therefore, you will be frustrated. If you only like summer, you will enjoy three months and suffer for nine. When you operate on likes and dislikes, you operate on the mind. But when you operate on the intellect, you choose the right course of action.

See, what is pleasant to you in the beginning is not so in the end. Junk food is pleasant in the beginning, but not so much in the end. You don’t like exercise, and you avoid it, but it becomes a problem later. What you like is detrimental; what you don’t like is beneficial. This is not to say that you shouldn’t do what you like—I’m only asking that you examine whether it is proper.

One Indian man heard my lecture and he went home and he looked at his wife. She said, “Why are you looking at me like that?” And he said: “I was liking you very much, but Swamiji said that I should throw out my likes and so I’m going to throw you away.”

Crazy! I didn’t say that! For heaven’s sake, don’t throw your partner away! All I said is to examine your likes and dislikes. If you don’t like exercise, you can’t just throw it away. If you like junk food, and you eat it all the time, there are consequences.

Rule #2: Know the mind has a tendency to ramble.

When I’m talking to you, it’s impossible to follow everything I say, even though you might want to follow. The mind rambles. It’s natural. It rambles into worries of the past, and anxieties for the future. That tires you. Action doesn’t tire you. Action can never tire you.

Therefore, you are making the biggest blunder by getting away from action for weekends and rest. In my entire life, I’ve never taken a vacation. Every day is vacation. At the Institution, students are in a three-year course. They’re up at 4am and we go until 9pm, 365 days a year. There are no breaks for weekends or vacations. Come and examine the students—nobody wants a break.

If you don’t find rest in action, you will never rest by getting out of action. In fact, you’re working for weekend and vacations. But if you don’t know how to control your mind and act in the present, you will always feel tired.

Do you want proof? Examine your own children. Your children are never tired. They are bristling with activity. Because of the simple fact that children have no worries of the past and anxieties for the future, they’re happy. But you all have the worries of the past and anxieties for the future, and it tires and fatigues you. So you need rest. It’s as simple as that.

Rule #3: Uncontrolled desires create havoc.

Without desires, you can’t live. You can’t survive. So what do you do with desire? You have to monitor and control your desires, because when unmonitored, desire becomes lust, greed, and avarice.

That’s what happened in 2008—the greed mounted to the point where there was a crash, and crash after crash. But if you control your desires, it becomes an aim, an ambition, or aspiration, and that is alright. You have to watch your desires before they mount to greed.

Rule #4: Preferential attachment is deadly.

What you pass off as love is nothing but preferential attachment. And preferential attachment is deadly.

When there is love, I serve you.
When there is attachment, I look for your service; what can I get out of you?

The husband says: This is my right, I married you.
The wife says: This is my right, I married you.

It’s more a life based on rights than on duties. It’s because of preferential attachment. It’s passed off as love.

Love + Selfishness = Attachment

Attachment – Selfishness = Love

Get that straight!

I’m not against love, I’m against this deadly thing called attachment.

The home should be the center, not the boundary of your affection/love. It becomes the boundary when you can’t see anything or anyone beyond it.

When you change yourself, you change the world

You cannot change the world without changing yourself. Everyone has the ambition of changing everything except for themselves.

All the great prophets, they changed themselves, then changed the world. If you change yourself, you change the world. If you want to change your children, you need to lead by example.

There is an inscription on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in England:

When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.

But it, too, seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.

If you want to change the world, you must change yourself first.

Source: Goop.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feel-good Friday: Value the Moment

You certainly don’t need me to tell you that living in the moment and being fully present is the key to a successful life.  brad&kiraEasy to say when your life is full and you don’t have health or money issues… but when it’s not going so well – those times when you feel hopeless and feel like you’re living in despair, broke, hungry, out of work, and can’t make ends meet or see the light at the end of the tunnel.  THINK again:

Take a moment to think about those who lost their lives in the recent Paris shooting.  Innocent victims – mostly young and just out enjoying a normal evening.  Never thinking that their lives would end…in such a barbaric manner. Think about the freedom we have and how lucky we are to have the kinds of choices available to us like we do in North America. Our world is changing and we have to adapt and get used to these new changes.  We have to remain strong and we need to prioritize.  I am as guilty as anyone for taking some things for granted and wallowing in some things I don’t have the control to change.  It doesn’t do any of us any good.  But still we do it because we’re human.  Sometimes we need a reminder.brad&kira2

Food for Thought:

The secret of health for both mind & body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly – Buddha.

Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future and not enough presence.  Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.   Eckhart Tolle

Have a lovely weekend and value all the good that you now have and try to change what is not working for you