Seek quality not quantity

Being healthy is about quality as opposed to quantity. Quantity is unhealthy, quality is healthy. Now that sounds really weird coming from us living outdoors, eating rice and beans, sleeping in tents and riding scooters. There is nothing expensive with that lifestyle. That’s the whole point. Quality has nothing to do with money or brand. Quality is about healing, about feeling that what we do and say is good for us in the long term. New studies show how diseased the richer countries are compared to the poorer countries. Fifty years ago it was the opposite. We have sacrificed our health for earning greater quantities of money, then we have to buy health care to gain it back. How many sofas, tops or gadgets did you really need anyway and was it worth your health? The earth´s health?

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A study about feeling healthy claimed that those around the world who owned more than 100 items are more likely to be unhealthier than those who owned in between 10-100 items, kids included. Is it that easy? Well, I guess so, at least in my life I can clearly see that the more I earned and the more stuff I had, the less healthy I was. One part of having a lot of stuff is the competition it invokes, better to not even enter that league. The competition doesn’t end with money and stuff bought with it. There is materialism in anything; intellectual, artistic, muscular, looks and books. Gosh, we really compete on everything.

How many events haven’t you been to where you feel the competition about wearing the hippest brand, the latest gadget, the finest shoes, to being the most intellectual, the funniest, the most drunk, or the least drunk, and when you finally get out you feel exhausted and not empowered but rather you feel like a looser. Those moments are not quality, only quantity. That’s what our society is built on and teaches us from the very start. It’s called market economy. If you would feel good with how you look and with your functional gadgets you wouldn’t buy new ones. What would you do then, work less and buy less and seek quality not quantity?

When you start identifying the moments of quality you realise that they are often free. It’s moments feeling (intimacy and connection with) other lives, moments of tasting (the newly picked fruit), moments of a beauty (looking at nature), moments of touch (holding someone’s hand), moments of listening (to sounds that awaken your soul).

 

Why a man (me) celebrates International Women’s Day.

Well, that’s easy.

First, I wouldn’t be here physically had a woman or women not preceded me – in that I was born– and second, I wouldn’t be here where I am now intellectually had a woman or women not preceded me – in that I was educated – and third, I wouldn’t be here where I am now emotionally had a woman or women not preceded me – in that I was nurtured – and fourth, I wouldn’t be here where I am now flourishing had a woman or women not preceded me – in that I was encouraged, and fifth, I wouldn’t be here where I am now spiritually had a woman or women not preceded me – in that I was inspired – and seventh, I wouldn’t be here where I am now creating had a woman or women not preceded me – in that I was mentored – and eighth, I wouldn’t be here where I am now physically had a woman or women not held me in her arms when the entire world disintegrated and no one else was there to hold me together, piece by fragile, frightened, fragmented and forgotten piece. Fact is, without women, or rather, at any given time a very specific woman, I would never have existed in the first place, or be here now to reflect upon just how grateful I am, and lucky I have been.

I imagine that applies to many of us men, too. It’s a wonder then we still only pay them 75-85% of what we earn, commit acts of violence against as many as 1 in 3 of them worldwide, rape 85,000 to 1.3 million a year of them in just one country, mine, discriminate against them in terms of politics, religion, technology, household, relationships, society, property inheritance,  athletics, and – depending on where you live – even the right to go out in public unguarded by a male relative.

Is it 2017 or 1017?

 

 

 

 

 

I sleep outdoors and do Yoga to just be

When I see the 9,096 visible stars under the background symphony of the jungle noises, or when I contemplate the 602,200,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms (wow!) in each breath reaching the 40 trillion cells and many more molecules of my stretching body, as I savour a ripe mango, as I float in the Gulf of Thailand listening to sand under the water, I recognise the elements of the universe in me, are me. I feel a feeling I can only poorly describe in words as being, or awareness of my being.

My cells open fearless to everything. Peaceful moments like these heal, me and all around me. I notice it days after too. Stress can’t get to me. It’s one of the most healing practices I experience.

I’m totally calm, but also totally focused. There is nothing sluggish or slumbering in me. My senses feel as they receive, without judgment or fear. It’s as if they somehow take a shortcut through my frontal cortex, my ideological inheritance. My thoughts cease. I start to open and I trust. Nothing is wrong. Nothing is right. It just is. And that’s when it comes to me. The feeling of being an extension, an integrated part of life itself. It’s like I cease to be a drop and I realise I’m the ocean. I’m the unified charge of all the electrons ceasing to contain isolated atoms. I’m a part of something so huge, so beyond me and my capability to understand that I reach simply being, as in existing. After I always come back with the same sense of immense appreciation, and of being immensely appreciated. I almost always inevitably end that moment of bliss by feeling my hands or feet unite, with gratefulness, in what most would call a prayer in peace.

It’s not my fault. It’s only my possibility.

I believe I can feel the 13.7 billion years of existence since matter began to form after the big bang, after cooking in the universal pressure cooker, until they would explode, creating clouds that then collapsed into stars and solar systems with planets and moons. From that same stew of universal matter, the atoms miraculously found each other in just the exact miraculous ratio to create miraculous life, in all the forms it takes here on Earth. Life, as seen from a mathematical standpoint, is said to be statistically impossible. And yet, it exists, the Universe as our Mother, and the Earth the womb of life composed of the same base elements – carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen – charged by our Sun, the origin of all energy here on Earth. The exact same elements that created the universe are in all of us right now. There will never be more of those elements, a constant number on Earth, all but randomly part of the equation of life and death in the ecosystem.

The specific combinations of the billions of atoms in the universe become different life forms – microbes, plants, insects, animals – and each form makes them alive as we define it. The different forms appear to our human senses, giving us the illusion of us not being one and the same. It’s just one truth, the truth of the senses. But we are all connected in what quantum physicists call the unified field. That field can be felt, but by most of us, not seen. It is what I feel when I feel nature, and the stars. It can always be felt, anywhere anytime, but always in inner stillness. Now, the question I ask is, can we change the charge of the field?

I believe we can, at least by my definition of the field. We know that we can change our own field, but can we change other fields. What if 5 billion people did?
We are eternally and infinitely connected since the origin of the universe through a charge we can feel and use, or not feel and abuse. The first will flow without friction, the later will not. We are all shaped by elements with a plan we can’t even comprehend, just trust.

It’s not our fault. It’s only our possibility.

Sources:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart…/there-are-372-trillion-cells-in-your-body-4941473/

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-resources/how-many-stars-night-sky-09172014/

http://www.haydenplanetarium.org/tyson/

 

Feel the smoke, to stop smoking

Whatever you don’t want to do but do anyway, do with awareness. Whatever you don’t want to feel but feel anyway, feel with awareness. And finally, whatever you don’t want to think but think anyway, think with awareness. When you “get it” for real you’ll probably have had enough of whatever it is you don’t want anymore.

breath you are alive

The awareness of having had enough comes with the breathing. Take a few deep breaths during the moment, relax, be aware, and let whatever it is pass. Repeat this as many times as you need, and if it doesn’t feel bad, then you might consider not stopping what you thought you should stop. If it takes time, let it take time. Just breathe.

For example, if you smoke and want to stop, smoke with awareness. Take the cigarette and look at it for a while, come to awareness of what it really is, see the tobacco, the filter, the paper. Smell it, then slowly light it while feeling it touch your lips, feeling it in your fingers. Taste the filter, then inhale deeply. Taste the smoke, feel it go down and fill your lungs, and release it. Look at the smoke coming from your mouth. Be aware, feel the smoke go down, and in, and up, and out. Feel your heart, your lungs, your throat, your teeth, tongue. Smell your fingers. Look at them. Look at your teeth. Really look. Feel, really feel.

Think about what the smoke does to you (and feel it). Think about what it does to the environment. If you don’t know how devastating the tobacco industry is, here are a few facts. Read them and breathe in awareness:

  • 5,800,000,000,000 cigarettes are produced each year, through which smokers breathe at least 4800 identifiable compounds such as ammonia, methane, isoprene, butadiene, ethylene, formaldehyde, 3-vinylpyiridine, 23 other aliphatic amines, methanol, volatile ketones, acrolein, etc.
  • 60 million trees are cut down each year in just one country (thus to smokers rob the earth inhabitants of oxygen too),
  • child labor is prolific in the production process,
  • 480,000 people die each year from smoking,
  • the US alone spends $300 billion per year (including medical costs and loss of productivity due to death and second hand smoke)

*https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/  http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=3992

Awareness is the best way to get healthy. If you still keep doing it, you probably didn’t want to stop in the first place.

Meditation – the 5th pillar in Yoga

Meditation – In latin meditare means to reflect upon, the opposite of trying to silence your thoughts. But there is a huge difference in between having a thought and the thought having you. If there is a thought be with it, and when it passes just be. As opposed to relaxation meditation is done with a very conscious mind, with as much awareness as possible. The more awareness of your being (in time) the deeper the meditation. The form is irrelevant, as long as you can get to the point of awareness. It can be done sitting, while doing something, or with technics like the Zen, Mantra, or Vipassana (awareness of breathing) meditation. Yoga is another form/technic of meditation, or focusing on our body’s movement. Golf can be meditative when you focus your body to only have the ball in sight. Biking, racing, washing dishes, listening to music, looking, listening, thinking, eating, touching, digging…anything that you do with as much awareness as you can, is meditation. We teach you to integrate meditation in all you do, to live a life more aware, more there, and more here. Why? Because it is one of the most healthy things we can do. Chemically it lowers the stress hormones, after smoking the main cause of certain disease.

brain waves meditation

A meditation practice is highly rejuvenating, and has to be a natural part of a healing lifestyle. It’s a way of concentrating to the point of allowing us to transcend time, space and causation. Beyond sleeping and resting it heals our minds profoundly and quickly. The senses are used during meditation to receive subtle messages that we otherwise would be unaware off. As with running, writing, playing golf, or listening to music, any other form of high concentration, we free ourselves from conventional forms, or the belief systems we have internalised. Meditation steers the concentration away from that which has been internalised to that which is external.

The ancient yoga tradition teaches us to practice “awareness” of what is, non-judgment, and compassion to understand ourselves and everything around us in our everyday lives. When we become aware we can change what needs to be changed, a process of respect and connectedness, and ultimately reach a state of oneness (samadhi), or what is considered the highest form of being. This is the part of the ancient Vedic texts that was explained by Kabat-Zin as Mindfulness, a word that is so popular today, but also very wrongly understood as something that “has to be done”. No, nothing has to be done. Just be, and awareness comes with the practice of just being. Samadhi can be described as the spiritual, physical and mental awareness of being part of everything, like the drop becoming aware of being in the ocean. What stops the drop from being aware is the Ego.

 

 

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Ego = Distance to God

d (distance) = rt (rate) and (time) 

Just as in physics we can describe Distance (d) as a result of resistance, or a measurement of mass and friction, velocity and time. When the shift of awareness arrives it is bliss, and simply awesome and so freeing 🙂

 

Rest – the 4th Pillar of Yoga

Rest – Relaxing is equally important for the whole of us (body, mind, and energy). Sleep is one form of rest, but to keep a healthy body and mind we need to meditate/relax too. It’s very clear from science to reduce all types of illness and stress. The moral value of being lazy if we rest, in combo with a hyperactive society, creates an overload of stress and in the long run a higher risk of disease. A relaxed body and mind really lives, a stressed one is barely alive but doesn’t live. Stress in this sense is not the same as having many things to do or a rich life. Many thrive when they are busy, and boredom can be equally stressful. Yoga teaches all of us to rest in a healthy way by stretching muscles to relaxation, followed with sitting in stillness; meditation. Rest can be done in other ways too. Find yours.

change perspective Olive R

Meditation has been done for as long as we have existed (as long as evolution.) Look at animals and how they spend a lot of time in stillness and silence. It’s as healthy for us as it is for them. With the beginning of civilisations and writing, long before the great invention of vehicles, phones, internet, and other modern triggers of stress, the Rishis (sages or seers) and Yogis of yore devised very powerful techniques of deep relaxation. All religions have some form of ‘relaxation’ during or before prayer. It’s the best way to centre oneself and feel connected to oneself and the environment.

Many modern stress-management and relaxation methods borrow extensively from these traditions. Today we know that by deeply relaxing all the muscles the Yogi can thoroughly rejuvenate the nervous system and the organs and attain a deep sense of inner peace. It’s one of the most efficient ways to reverse disease, any disease it seems, and rejuvenate. Studies have shown that by simply meditating 30 minutes a day organs stop ageing, and even rejuvenate.

When the body and the mind are constantly overworked, their natural efficiency to perform work diminishes. Modern social life, such as dinners in large groups, work events, and even entertainment such as video games and clubbing, makes it difficult for modern people to relax. Many have even forgotten how to relax, and when disease knocks them out they have to take expensive courses to learn something we have always done as natural beings. Rest and relaxation are nature’s way of recharging. We even see that while trying to rest, many expend a lot of physical and mental energy through pushing themselves into a specific form of relaxation and when they can’t relax in that particular way or form, for example to still the voice in their heads, they beat themselves up for not being able to relax in the “right” way, and the vicious circle is created with even more stress to follow. Much of the body and mind’s energy is wasted uselessly while trying. We say that there is nothing to try and there are no forms. We either relax or we don’t, just as we do yoga or we don’t, we sleep or we don’t, we run or we don’t. Start relaxing your muscles and the rest of the body follows. If the mind is active engage in the conversation and figure things out, or just listen to it and sooner or later it stops talking.

More of our energy is spent in keeping the muscles in continual readiness for work or order than in getting the actual work done. Multi-tasking is the contrary to good performance. It’s a terrible invention and any good manager knows that performance is lower when their staff is stressed. Many great minds like Einstein or Edison ensured the importance of the rest or meditation for their work. Our own Ray at Olive Retreat did the same. When having very tight timeframes he would meditate on a task most of the time before doing it. Several studies ensure us that the concentration level and the performance is quicker and better when proceeded by a meditation.

Remembered that in the course of a the 24 h cycle, our body usually produces all the substances and energy necessary for the whole day. All these substances and energy may be wasted within a few minutes by severe  anger, sadness, disease or intense irritation that is much more likely to burst out by stressed people. That’s why we feel exhausted when physically ill or after bursts of mood swings. The process of eruption-repression of strong emotions often grows into a regular habit. The result is disastrous, not only for the body, but also for the mind. To still theses ups and downs we meditate/rest, we save “Prana”, or life force, and we stay physically and mentally healthy.

In order to achieve perfect relaxation, three methods are used in the Yoga tradition: “Physical”, “Mental”, and “Spiritual” relaxation. Relaxation is not complete until the person reaches that stage of spiritual relaxation, or Samadhi, which only advanced spiritual aspirants have experienced.

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1 – Physical Relaxation
Just as the mind may send a message to the body to act, like contracting a muscle, the mind may also send a message to bring the same muscles to relaxation. We can send messages, any message, to our organs as well as to the muscles.

Physical relaxation begins with the toes and then moves upward, like a Body Scan. It is like a mental massage of oneself, passes through the muscles and reaches the eyes and ears at the top, with the possibility to step into the body and also relax the organs. You can feel the lungs and the heart slow down, and the same happens with the kidneys and other internal organs. It’s the best form of treating IBS. The most common pose for this relaxation is Savasana, or the Corpse Pose. If you want to continue with Mental and Spiritual relaxation it’s easier to find a comfortable sitting pose as you otherwise lean on the spine and easily fall asleep, which is not the awakened and alert relaxation that meditation offers.

2 – Mental Relaxation
When experiencing mental tension, it is advisable to breathe slowly and rhythmically for a few minutes and relax your physical body. Soon the mind will become calm too, and the body follows. You may experience a kind of floating sensation. It’s best done sitting in lotus. If your hips or knees are stiff you might need to sit on a chair or on cushions until your knees are at the same level as the hips. Only then you can sit with a straight and relaxed spine. Mental relaxation is done with a totally relaxed body, easily achieved after physically stretching like in yoga, Pranayamas or after the exhaustion of running.

The mind is awake and very alert. It can either take in the environment by listening, smelling, tasting, feeling or looking, or it can stay within oneself by turning the awareness of one’s heart beat, breath or other sensations. These techniques are many and the most practiced are probably Zen meditation or TM meditation.

3 – Spiritual Relaxation
The Yoga (and the Buddhist) tradition explains that one may try to relax the mind, but all tension and worries cannot be completely removed until one reaches spiritual relaxation. This is a state of mind and goes beyond the time of practice. It is a state of mind that comes and goes, and hopefully stays longer and longer with the practice. Buddha finally reached a constant state of Spiritual Relaxation – Samadhi.

As long as a person identifies with the body and the mind, there will be worries, sorrows, anxieties, fear and anger.  These emotions, in turn bring tension. Krishnamurti’s famous quote “Identification is Violence” explains this. Yogis know that unless a person can withdraw from the materialisation/separation, or the body/mind idea, and separate himself from the ego-consciousness, there is no way of obtaining complete relaxation. This doesn’t mean that the Yogi or even the Buddha is never angry, it only means that the anger doesn’t have the Yogi, the Yogi has the anger. This is a huge difference. When we have the feelings/emotions/thoughts instead of them having us, we are free to act on them or not. The Yogi is not adverse to feeling, on the contrary we acknowledge and go into the feeling and let it pass. We don’t try to obstruct it. We feel it, accept it and take care of it. Many of the feelings that come to us can teach us a lot. To take action upon a feeling like anger, could be to start an NGO to stop the abuse that made us angry. To the contrary of what many think Spiritual Relaxations is not passive acceptance (to the verge of denial).

The Yogi identifies with everything in total, consciousness Oneness with great gratitude, and a sense of care and love. We know that the source of all power, knowledge, peace and strength is in the self, not in the materialism, or the body or the mind. We don’t identify with the achievements anymore and we don’t feel the kick of any materialism wether it is belongings, intellectual, or even spiritual materialism. We don’t even identify or even “own” our body or mind, but we are grateful to have been given those for a short time, to use as fantastic and loved “tools” for growth.

We tune into this Spiritual Relaxation by asserting the real nature of All. We become all like we become the sea and not the isolated drop in the sea, we become the light and not the single beam of light, etc. This Oneness or this identification with All has many names depending of the tradition and description; pure self, pure consciousness, enlightenment, one with the source… This is just language. This Spiritual relaxation is beyond language, just as it is beyond the mind or any form. This awareness of Oneness completes the process of relaxation.

Exercise – the 3rd Pillar of Yoga

A healthy body is a flexible, energetic and strong body. The same goes for the mind. Yoga Asanas (the postures) is an excellent method to get all three at the same time. It strengthens the muscles, makes the body flexible and with the correct breathing is a good cardio workout, too, like running. Often we are the obstacle to our own exercise and health.

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Kranti Londhe, Pune India

Our bodies want to be used, but not abused. They cooperate with us and help us adapt to our environment. A cell that is not used is “told” to deteriorate and reintegrate with the ecosystem. We are meant to move and exercise in a gentle way. Some of us might feel good doing extreme sports, but the fact is that too much of them create inflammation. Not many know that marathon runners or triathlon trainers run a higher risk of certain cancer forms than the general public!

The yogic way to exercise is to listen to the body during the exercise, whatever it is, and also after.  How do you feel, sleep, digest, etc? It should be pleasant but mostly it should just be done. Find the time and if you haven’t got much time, do it at home. Run on the spot without going out, or dance wildly to your best beat. Running is time efficient and if you can’t run and it feels awkward, this is how you get started: walk fast, run for 30 seconds or until you hyperventilate, walk fast, run again, walk again, etc. Before you know it you can run for 30 minutes without having to walk and that’s all you need per day. This is called interval-trying, when you train your heart gently and not reach the point of loosing your breath for long.

Which type of exercise we like depends on our Dosha (metabolic type). Only lifting weights at the gym doesn’t seem to do much for our cardio health, and if one doesn’t stretch well after each machine it makes us inflexible too. Muscles need to carry us, to get a good safe posture, not make us stiff by putting pressure on joints and the spine. If you still want to do weights, make sure you stretch well after every machine, and don’t forget your heart – run!

Yoga regards the body as a ‘vehicle’ for the soul on its journey towards connection. Yogic physical exercises are designed to develop not only the body but also the mind, and in doing that the energetic part of us grows. The Yogic physical exercises are called Asanas, a term which means ¨steady pose.¨ This is because the Yoga Asana (or posture) is meant to be held for some time. However, this is quite an advanced practice. Initially, our concern is simply to increase body flexibility.

The body is as young as it is flexible. Yoga exercises focus on the health of the spine, its strength, flexibility and posture. The spinal column houses the nervous system. By stretching muscles and other tissues, it can let go of toxins. Circulation is also increased and the cells are ensured their supply of nutrients and oxygen. Asanas done with respect affect the whole of you, internal organs, the endocrine system, the brain and your awareness of life. I love it!

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