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The Japanese Tea Ceremony – the sacred in every day life

japanese tea ceremonyI love to look for the sacred in every day life. And there may be no better example than the opportunity offered by mindfully drinking a simple cup of tea, as in the Japanese Tea Ceremony.

Whether gazing out the window, or going through the formality of a Japanese tea ceremony, there is tranquility and grace to be found there.

I only became a tea drinker very recently, which is interesting since I’m Irish and they are great tea drinkers.

But I try to stay up do date on all health news and when I learned that a cup of green tea a day was good for us, and someone gave me a box of tea for my birthday a few years ago, I was off and running.

Ironically, once I started having a cup of green tea a day, I learned the latest prescription was four cups a day! Oh, well.

I don’t really want to drink four cups a day, but have been pretty steady at having one cup a day of either green, white or red tea, all of which are said to have great healing properties.

The Japanese are reputed to have the lowest rate of heart disease in the world. Diet is a big part of that, but also, 50% of Japanese drink three cups of green tea day!

And there are over 1000 studies showing that green tea helps prevent heart disease.

 The Japanese Tea Ceremony

The Japanese tea ceremony, also known as The Way of Tea, is a beautiful example of finding the sacred in every day life.

What’s in a name? The shameful case of the “Washington Redskins”

washington-redskins-logoHow is the “Washington Redskins” team name still in use in this day and age?

Most of us have heard the term, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?”

Did you ever believe it was true?

Not likely, because we all know words have power and can hurt.

In fact, there is ample evidence that negative thoughts, feelings and words, can be harmful to the body.

It follows that everyone, be it an individual or a national sports team, should be more conscious of their use of words.

THE HISTORY OF THE TERM “REDSKINS”

The Washington team has tried to defend its name choice by saying that the term “Redskins” honors Native Americans. But that view doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

The Winter Solstice – why it’s the true new year

Winter solsticeWinter Solstice is the day when light is reborn out of the darkness of winter. Our days start to become longer and lead us back to the beauty of spring and the warmth of summer, stretching towards their peak at the Summer Solstice.

Most ancient cultures celebrated this return of light and life with feasting, music, light and fire, and for many, it was the true beginning of the New Year.

It was so important to the pre-Celt ancients of Ireland that they spent over 30 years building a monument to the returning sun: Newgrange.

Older than Stonehenge and the pyramids of Giza, it was designed so that on the Winter Solstice, the rising sun shines directly along the long passage into the inner chamber and for 17 minutes illuminates the chamber floor and the symbols etched on the back wall.

What did the Ancients know that we don’t?

Save the wolves, save ourselves

White wolf at the nightListen to the howl of our spiritual brother, the wolf; for how it goes with him, so it goes for the natural world.” Oren R. Lyons, Spokesman, Traditional Circle of Elders

Your family plays, forms loving bonds and social hierarchies, raises children and works to sustain itself, just like every other family.

But on a regular basis, your family members are slaughtered, just for being alive in the world today.

I could be talking about any minority group, anywhere in the world. But today I’m talking about wolves.

Mysterious, mystical, misunderstood wolves.

A Native American Thanksgiving Prayer

GratitudeI have published this prayer for the past two years during Thanksgiving week. It is timeless and appropriate at any time of year, but particularly now.

Thanksgiving prayers are common to most religious groups. Native Americans had entire ceremonies just for the purpose of expressing thanks – sometimes the ceremonies lasted for days.

This Thanksgiving Prayer comes from the Seneca Nation and is at least 500 years old.

It is traditionally done around a fire, with spiritual food on the altar. I have adapted it to be used as a Thanksgiving Prayer on our national holiday:

Seneca Thanksgiving Prayer 

And now we are gathered together to remember the Great Mystery’s first instruction to us: to love one another always, we who move about on this earth.

And the Great Mystery said that when even just two people meet, they should first greet each other by saying: “Nyah Weh Skenno” which translates to “thank you for being” and then they may take up the matter with which they are concerned. 

[Nyah Weh Skenno more literally means: “thank you for being alive in the here and now and not adding to the confusion of the world.”]

The Great Mystery gave us our lives and requires in return only that we be grateful and love one another. The purpose of this prayer is to pass on those instructions and give us the opportunity to express our gratitude.

So the first thing we will do is give thanks for our lives.

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