Tuesday, August 28, 2012

All Beings Just Wants to Be Happy

I'm in a kind of mood today. It's a quietude - a little harassed because of work, but still, I sense a stillness within me about some things that used to pain me. I was reading this article on elephantjournal earlier ... and I felt it. It's about pain - it's about acceptance. Everyone who hurts you really just wants to be happy. All the pain they caused, is just a misguided way of trying to be happy. There comes a time, when the pain simmers to a sweetness. You learn maturity - although you may still slip and act up in the future. You learn acceptance, and you see - that the other person is just trying to be happy. And it's ... so human. Forgiveness no longer is an issue then, because you understand. You understand that this is what you do. This is what we do.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Why Twinkies cost more than Carrots?

I have been coming back to cooking my own meals lately. Some of you who read this blog from my early days might remember that I used to be a vegetarian for about six years. I have been eating meat the last three years, and to be honest, I haven't been as healthy as I used to.

It's all water under the bridge, as they say. I can choose to eat healthier any time I want. I just have to make it a priority. Since I returned to my yoga practice, that urge to eat healthier, to add more vegetables to my diet has returned. I just need to find the motivation though. It takes a lot of energy to get up earlier in the morning every day to prepare lunch. Eating out with friends becomes more complicated when I was vegetarian.

But that's digression. What is happening is my thoughts are on food lately. How to cook, what to cook - and what's in our food? I am embarrassed to say I have not read Michael Pollan - I have read about him. But I really respect him for speaking so honestly about food politics as it is. In the video below, he asks a simple question: Why does a package of twinkie cost more than a bunch of carrots? It's all because of government food subsidies. It all goes down to food policies.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Learning Morals through Stories

Coles believes one of the most powerful ways we learn morals is through stories. Literature and poetry bring us deeper knowledge of ourselves, life, and the world. “The whole point of stories is not ‘solutions’ or ‘resolutions,’” he writes in The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination, “but the broadening and even a heightening of our struggles.”

- from Robert Coles and the Moral Life

Sunday, August 12, 2012

From Wild: Fear

It was a deal I'd made with myself months before and the only thing that allowed me to hike alone. I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I ws brave. Nothing could vanquish me. Insisting on this story was a form of mind control, but for the most part, it worked. Every time I heard a sound of unknown origin or felt something horrible cohering in my imagination, I pushed it away. I simply did not let myself becomes afraid. Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn't long before I actually wasn't afraid.

- Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

Wait: The Useful Art of Procrastination by Frank Partnoy

Reading this month.

Write up from Brain Pickings here.

Love is Love

This photo of a man holding his dog in the water made its rounds on the internet. I didn't know the full story at first, so it didn't quite stay with me until now. Huffington Post has the story on this.

The dog in the photo, Schoep, has arthritis, a condition that causes him a lot of pain and he has trouble sleeping at night. John Unger, the man in the picture, adopted Schoep when he was just a 2 month old puppy. John realises the buoyancy of the water helps take the pressure off Schoep's arthritic body. This alleviates the dog's pain and helps him sleep. So he brings Schoep out to Lake Superior every day and holds Schoep in the water. There is so much tenderness in this. So much love.

How many people in this world would do this for their dog? How many would do this for another human being?

Love is love. Sometimes I need stories like this to remind me of our human capacity to love another being.

Note from the Photographer:

This 19 year old Shep being cradled in his father’s arms last night in Lake Superior. Shep falls asleep every night when he is carried into the lake. The buoyancy of the water soothes his arthritic bones. Lake Superior is very warm right now, so the temp of the water is perfect.

I was so happy I got to capture this moment for John. By the way, John rescued Shep as an 8 month old puppy, and he’s been by his side through many adventures.

To purchase a print – go here: http://lakesuperiorcards.com/p96728378

If you would like to make a donation to Schoep’s care – you can contact Bay Area Animal Hospital at 715-682-8865 with a credit card number or mail a check to 3601 E Hwy 2 Ashland, WI 54806. All donations are going right into Schoep’s account at the clinic. Thanks!!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Just Do Things Differently

"We act out because, ironically, we think it will bring us some relief. We equate it with happiness. Often there is some relief, for the moment. When you have an addiction and you fulfill that addiction, there is a moment in which you feel some relief. Then the nightmare gets worse. So it is with aggression. When you get to tell someone off, you might feel pretty good for a while, but somehow the sense of righteous indignation and hatred grows, and it hurts you. It's as if you pick up hot coals with your bare hands and throw them at your enemy. If the coals happen to hit him he will be hurt. But in the meantime, you are guaranteed to be burned."
- Start Where You Are, Pema Chodron

I am just thinking about how often I act out. Like a child, I act out because of perceived hurt, and I end up damaging the relationships that meant a lot to me. Lately I have been doing better. But you don't always get to go back to undo your mistakes. You just move on and try to do better.

But from time to time, you do look back, and wish things were better, wish you could be allowed a chance to make amends.

Do something different. Continue walking forward, one step at a time. Ignore the distrustful looks, let go of those that remind you of how you screwed up in the past. You cannot undo the past. You can't allow the past to define you. And give up hope of trying to change things. Give up hope that people will see how you have changed and come back in your life.

Just do things differently.

I promise you, it will be worth it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

I need this

I find myself slowly falling part today. I am struggling to remember Ani Pema Chodron's teachings, and they came to me, the lojong teachings that I need right now.
Whichever of the two occurs, be patient.
Whatever happens in your life, joyful or painful, do not be swept away by reactivity. Be patient with yourself and don’t lose your sense of perspective.
Train in the three difficulties.
The three difficulties (or, the three difficult practices) are 1) to recognize your neurosis as neurosis, 2) then not to do the habitual thing, but to do something different to interrupt the neurotic habit, and 3) to make this practice a way of life.

Monday, August 06, 2012

How to Keep Good People Close

I was surfing the net last night and came across this blog post by a yoga teacher, on how to keep good people close. This is a subject I have been pondering lately. 2012 has been a transformative year, especially in the areas of my relationship. The post list out a series of practices - because relationships are as much a practice as spirituality:
  1. Use honorifics: Mentally, vocally, written out. I say dear, teacher, darling, etc not for another's benefit but for ME, to sweeten the pot, "to see heaven on earth." Sharon said.
  2. Think/Reflect on the good they have done for others. Dig deep if necessary. Have this in my mind. We cultivate our own perceptions, and choose to perceive the highest around us.
  3. Think/Reflect on the good they have done for ME.
  4. Say "Thank You." Say it mentally, verbally, etc. Acknowledge that someone gave me something. This is all for my own benefit.
  5. Give offerings. Tuition. Gifts. A kind word behind their back. We call this enlightened self-interest. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras say 'When you give, you will never be impoverished."
  6. Take care of things for them anonymously. When we pay attention to others, we'll find many opportunities to make their life a little easier.
  7. Ask your teachers to teach you. Continue to cultivate good seeds with the people who benefit you so they remain in your life. Extend yourself. Don't assume they'll be around forever.
  8. Ask the people you care about to please stay in your life.  Never think another being like them will come along. 
I may not be able to keep those that have left, but let me practice honouring those that are still in my life, and those that will come.

A Reminder To Being

Pain is a great teacher. It sharpens us, so that we truly pay attention to the lessons that need to be learned.

I have always been a do-er, a controller. Someone who has to "fix" things, or have things happen the way I dictate them. In certain context, this has worked for me. In some, it has not.

I am reminded of this song by the Beatles recently, "Let It Be".

The simple task of just "Being" is so painful to me, because I lack trust. I struggle against the flow of life as it comes, because I have difficulty with radical acceptance, with trusting that what I need to know will be unveiled to me when the time is right. My only duty is to show up and do the work - everything else is not my business. Results, the fruit of my labour, is not mine.

I accept the flow of life. I sit with the emotions, and let them be. I am not lost. I am exactly where I am right now, seeing everything with new eyes.

Let It Be.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Gore Vidal and the Greek Book

Gore Vidal's reading list for America. Makes me interested Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War again - a book I keep trying to finish.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Steve McCurry's portraits of reading

Steve McCurry posted a series of photographs of people reading. I love it, and I would totally recommend that you take a look for yourself here. My favourite is the one of Aung San Suu Kyi reading.