I 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.
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!
Perhaps there’s something to learn from that and, in particular, how>/b> they drink tea.
“The Sacred Fire used to heat the rocks represents the eternal fire that burns at the center of the universe.” Dr. A.C. Ross, Lakota
I don’t believe I have ever been to a Native American ceremony that did not incorporate Sacred Fire.
Fire is a gift from the Creator. It is spirit made manifest.
It is untouchable yet touches us with it’s warmth and light.
When we learn how to communicate with it, our lives are enriched.
Just as the sun provides warmth and light, and allows growing things to flourish, Fire warms our homes and cooks our food, and lights our way in the dark.
Even without looking for deep, spiritual meaning, fire is certainly mesmerizing. What is more relaxing than sitting and watching a fire?
DOES FIRE HAVE A CONSCIOUSNESS?
I think the answer is, “yes.”
“Surround yourself only with people who are going to take you higher.” Oprah Winfrey
Do you sometimes wish you had someone to answer all your questions and tell you how to run your life?
Tell you which path to take when you’re at a cross-roads?
I’ve wished for that many times.
When life seems confusing and hard, it would be so nice to have someone we respect just say, “Here, why not take this path. This is what you should do.”
Well, the fact is, we all do have people like that in our lives. They’re called role models.
This is a guest post by David Nelson, PhD
A few months ago, Molly and I were having supper together in a real nice little vegan café in Madison, Wisconsin. We were exchanging stories of our ways of helping people cope, and I relayed to her one of the experiences I had in teaching people how to relax.
I also explained how many counselors today are just very boring in their professions, and need to spice it up a bit.
You see, about 10 years ago, a gentleman came into my office stating that he had chronic pain in his lower back. He explained he was a carpenter and that the only thing that seemed to help him manage his pain was smoking marijuana.
He turned to me and said, “I heard you do hypnosis, and I was wondering if you could hypnotize me to be stoned all the time? I don’t want to lose my job with a dirty urine analysis. I figured if I could hypnotize myself to be stoned, it would manage my pain and I could keep my job.”
My first thought was, “Is he kidding?”
Then it dawned on me, “Why not?”
Ancient cultures throughout history have celebrated this time of rebirth of Mother Earth. But what does it mean for us?
The earth is comprised of 70% water and, on average, so is the human body. That alone is a giant clue as to how interconnected we are.
What happens to the earth’s energy also happens within us, therefore we can experience more harmony if we work with the earth’s cycles instead of ignoring them. It’s not just another day.
Here are some of the aspects of the Spring Equinox and how you can incorporate them into your own life so as to better communicate with the spiritual forces of the earth.
Do you struggle with staying positive?
Are you someone who sees the glass as half empty?
Research shows that people who practice positive thinking are less likely to be unemployed and more likely to be physically healthier and live longer.
That should be some good incentive to try to think more positive.
Yes, it does take practice. But the good news is that anyone can learn to do it.
I used to be chronically sad and depressed. All the clothes in my closet were navy blue because I had the “blues” all the time.
Then one day a friend I hadn’t seen in a month asked me how I was and I started saying, “Well, I’ve been having a hard time lately…”
When someone cuts you off in traffic, do you feel indignant?
If you’re like me, your answer was probably “yes.”
For many people, the first reaction in that situation is a negative one.
But given the state of affairs in the world, wouldn’t it be a good thing to put out a higher vibration?
To add good vibes where they’re needed?
To make the world a better place?
I’m sure you agree. But how does one do that?
I believe practicing compassion is one of the very best ways to do it.
[Tweet “Compassion is the radicalism of our time.” — Dalai Lama]
We never know what challenges and hardships another person may be dealing with that might cause them to act in a way we don’t like.
My friend Teri told me this story about herself:
Tuesday morning I arrived at 8:27 a.m. for my 8:30 yoga class and found all the students standing outside in the parking lot.
I live in Michigan, and it was snowing and the wind chill temperature was 3 degrees. I couldn’t have been more mystified to find everyone outside!
I was told the outside door was locked and the teacher wasn’t there.
One student said she had a key and we could go in and practice yoga on our own, or at least get out of the cold. No one moved.
And no one checked the door to make sure it was really locked. We all just relied on the report of the first person to try it.
While I texted the studio owner, someone else called her to see if she knew where our teacher was. The owner in turn called the teacher, who was actually inside and hadn’t realized the door had locked behind her!
She immediately popped her head out the door and let us all in!
Now, this all took place over the course of just five minutes. But, at 3 degrees, it was a very long five minutes.
I reflected during class on the irony of the fact that we all readily assumed we were locked out when one of us even offered to unlock the door, and the teacher was inside the whole time.
No one even double-checked that the door was really locked.
This was a prime example of assumptions leading us astray.
If you’re like me, you’ve spent your life slathering on sunscreen every time you were out in the sun.
Everyone said to do it. It was a no brainer, right?
Well, guess what? As with many pieces of health advice, “everyone” turns out to be wrong!
The latest research shows that if you apply sunscreen every time you’re in the sun, you’re blocking the body’s ability to produce Vitamin D. Adequate vitamin D may reduce your risk of up to 16 different types of cancer, including: pancreatic, lung, ovarian, breast, prostate and skin.
Vitamin D contributes to healthy bones, lowering blood pressure and protecting against a host of other diseases. Yes, you can take a supplement, but it will never be as good as the direct source of the sun.
In the USA, vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic levels. Ironically, vitamin D deficiency can lead to aggressive forms of skin cancer. A ground-breaking 2011 study published in Cancer Prevention Research suggests that optimal blood levels of vitamin D offers protection against sunburn and skin cancer.
“The Sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.” Galileo Galilei
The ancients have always known that the Sun is the center of the universe, yet how often do we wake up in the morning and greet it?
How much do we even know about it?
The Sun grows our food, brightens our days, affects the earth’s climate and our health. But we don’t think about it much except to cover ourselves in summer with toxic sunscreen that we don’t really even need [see next week’s post on that].
The Sun is also a great force of spiritual energy and spiritual teaching. So we should take the time to learn more about it!
Clearing clutter. We read about it all the time.
But it’s more than good housekeeping. It’s a key to self-healing.
When I was in graduate school working on a Masters Degree in Economics [yes, I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true], I got tired of Economics [that seems much more believable] and instead took film courses.
This was at the University of California at Los Angeles [UCLA], which at the time had one of the best film schools in the country. [It still does].
The film classes were excellent, covered a variety of topics, and were like balm for the soul of true film lovers like me.
One of the best lessons I learned was from a casual comment by our teacher about the Alfred Hitchcock film, “Psycho.” It was a lesson that has served me in work and in life.
How 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.
I was recently asked by a reader how to maintain positive thinking. He said, “every time I’m positive, or at least I think I’m positive, then negative things happen.”
Having struggled with that very issue, I promised him an answer.
I agree that when stuck in negativity, it can be hard to pull yourself out. But not impossible.
First, accept that we all go through negative thinking some of the time; the trick is to not dwell there. Like driving through a bad neighborhood, you want to get out as soon as possible!
Here are some of the things that have helped me:
As we begin a new year, many bloggers are writing about goal setting for 2015.
I have done that before and you can read my previous post.
But aside from setting goals and intentions, if we want to bring about something new in our lives, we have to change what we are doing, or how we are doing it.
If you keep doing the same old thing, you will get the same old results.
Today I’m going to propose one change to your life that may make a surprising difference: more rest.
WHY GOD RESTED ON THE 7TH DAY
We’ve all heard the phrase from the Bible, “And God rested on the 7th Day.” But what does it mean, really?
Winter 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?
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.
This post contains a 4-minute video on how the presence of wolves has a cascading effect on ecosystems by changing the behavior of deer, regenerating forests and stabilizing rivers. It’s almost miraculous. Wolves restore ecosystems by their very existence.
I 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.Continue reading
“What to do when life hands you lemons” is not the post I had planned for this week.
But I got handed a bunch of lemons – figuratively – by being stranded for three days [going on four] just three hours from home due to a blizzard.
When life throws us curves [the proverbial lemons] we have choices: to fret and moan and sulk, or make the best of it.
I thought I’d share the lessons I learned, which can be applied to most any surprising situation.
Well, I’m embarrassed to report that, after posting three weeks ago about my great start, I now get to report on lessons learned failing the “30-day no sugar challenge.”
Technically, I wrote about a 10-day no sugar challenge proposed by the documentary Fed Up, but I was undertaking 30 days of no sugar.
But whether 10 days, or 30, I failed.
However, I did learn a lot [about myself and sugar] which I felt was worth sharing.
The goal, set by my friend Gary, was to avoid anything with sugar in it for 30 days.
HERE’S WHY I FAILED
Like many people, I’ve always been uncomfortable with anger.
I don’t like to get angry, and I don’t like to be around angry people.
True to my Irish heritage, I’m slow to anger but when I do, watch out!
And over the years as I’ve meditated more, and done more self-healing, I’ve been rather pleased with how calm I usually am.
So imagine my surprise at finding myself angry quite frequently over the past month.
Mind you, there have been things going on in my life that many people would say justify being angry about.
But that is not an excuse for someone like me who is trying to live her life at the highest vibration possible.
Healing from our anger can be one of the most powerful ways to move our lives forward.
WALLS BUILT OF ANGER
Best-selling author Wayne Dyer, Ph.D., tells the story of holding onto anger toward the alcoholic, abusive father who abandoned him and his family when Dyer was just an infant.