Saturday, June 9, 2012

Water, water everywhere, Life's Connective Tissue


Yesterday I took an all-day trip through the Florida Keys. What an amazing part of the earth! And quite a feat of our species to create a way to travel over so much water. We crossed the seven mile bridge and many other bridges to get to Key West. In Key West the journey moved from bus to catamaran for many of us where we went snorkeling over one of the worlds three largest barrier reefs.
The earth is covered over 70% in water. A human body averages 60% water with the brain being over 70%  of this liquid. Water has some very special properties. It exists in all three states: solid, liquid and gaseous. Water is a "universal solvent" meaning that as it travels it takes many things along with it. Having a high density, water is a great conductor of sound, allowing sound to travel great distances, like a whale call across the ocean.
Maybe that's why during the trip through the keys, I made so many connections. By the time we returned to South Beach I felt I had made quite a few new friends, from all across the globe: Melbourne, Paris, Pittsburgh, LA, somewhere in Sweden. There were many conversations about life and the choices we were all making. There was a general feeling of universality and a sense that since we are all inhabiting the same planet, we have the same concerns.
Along the lines of common concerns, here is a link to a site about the water crisis on our planet:
Water is the second most important element to life, a breath of fresh air being the first. Every day here in Miami and on Paradise Island I make sure I keep enough water around to stay hydrated in the heat and sun that I love so much.
I am thinking it's important now to pay more attention to what is going on with water in the world. Clean, plentiful water for all will enable the connections to expand between us and to continue for a long time to come.
Om shanti
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Life Question: Colloidal Oatmeal Soak, Loving Atman


Am I not, still, the gentle essence of a new born child?
Miami is steamy hot even at 9 AM in the springtime. I am not complaining, just stating a fact. I love the heat, even if, when the body rubs up against the hot, moist air it makes me sweat and creates a rash. Nothing too bad and only in those places on the body that tend to hold the heat: the arm pits.

So I went to Walgreens to search for a remedy. I found Aveeno Baby made of colloidal oatmeal. Oatmeal is such a good food with so many healing properties. And for the the past two evenings I have soaked in a warm, silky bath to sooth the irritation. As I was soaking tonight I started thinking about the relaxation I was feeling and how gentle it felt. Just like the gentle feeling that comes when you hold a baby in your arms.

That gentle, loving feeling I can have for a baby, is what I can have for myself. I can have this experience all the time when I come to know the experience of Atman, or the True Self. Through choosing to connect to that place within that is like the feeling I have for the baby, I can know my own eternal, blissful, True Self.

After all, was I not once in the form of a baby too?

Next time you take some time to care for yourself, I invite you to remember the baby you once were and the gentle truth of the eternal self you still are.
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Life Question: Peeled Avocado on the Beach, Decompress with Yoga


Life Question of the Day:

Is it really necessary to remove ourselves from the world to feel OK in the world?

One of the best things about being stateside is the easy access to so many of the things I realize I "need" to be happy. Avocado is at the top of the list. And this morning during my AM beach time I ate a beautifully ripe, Haas avocado on the beach, peeling it like a banana. Yum!

I have been here a week and am just now feeling relaxed and comfortable. That's how long it takes, even if the decompression is from an ashram and not NYC. To decompress fully we have to feel comfortable. Most of us live from the "flight or fight" response most of the time, constantly defending (thus activating the sympathetic nervous system and a variety of not-so-comfortable uncontrollable reactions by the body--see below* ) for what we believe is our right, our property, our stuff. Thus, many of us seek the ways and means to be in environments we believe we can control: our own home, our own car, communities of like minded people that agree with us or even gated communities that keep everyone else out. When we are on vacation we prefer to choose the expensive hotels, high end resorts and to pay people to look after our needs the way we want. But does that really work?

As noted, I have felt stresses since being here in Miami. I have felt my brain compress with thoughts about my security and safety, in Miami and back home in Brooklyn. What works to bring my mind into a new order, is to decompress with yoga. And by "yoga" I mean a variety of practices.

Sitting in meditation upon waking is a good start and a practice I have been making a routine here in Miami. I still find it very difficult to quiet the mental chatter during mediation, even first thing in the morning, or maybe particularly first thing in the morning. (Once I get settled into a new home, the first purchase will be a the perfect bed. Sleep is bliss only if the bed provides the proper support for the body.)What non-meditators do not realize, is that most people who have a mediation practice, experience this uncomfortable mind during their meditation at least some of the time.

After meditation comes coffee and a bit of work to calm all of the thoughts that reside in my mind. Next, on most days since I have been here in Miami, I do asana on the beach before the heat of the day descends.
Other practices I have been doing that bring me into balance and allow my parasympathetic nervous system** to take over are 1) Sound Yoga music practices and 2) Advaita Vedanta inquiry practices. Regarding the later, when I am feeling cramped by my mind and cannot see beyond a certain view, I begin to question the reality of what I am perceiving as true or not (see post called Life Lessons: Letting go, allowing the flow).

And now I can add a new practice to the group:
eating a peeled avocado on the beach …
Om shanti
*During "flight or fight" response adrenaline or noradrenaline, facilitate immediate physical reactions associated with a preparation for violent muscular action. These include the following:
  • Acceleration of heart and lung action
  • Paling or flushing, or alternating between both
  • Inhibition of stomach and upper-intestinal action to the point where digestion slows down or stops
  • General effect on the sphincters of the body
  • Constriction of blood vessels in many parts of the body
  • Liberation of nutrients (particularly fat and glucose) for muscular action
  • Dilation of blood vessels for muscles
  • Inhibition of the lacrimal gland (responsible for tear production) and salivation
  • Dilation of pupil (mydriasis)
  • Relaxation of bladder
  • Inhibition of erection
  • Auditory exclusion (loss of hearing)
  • Tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision)
  • Disinhibition of spinal reflexes
  • Shaking
**Sometimes called the rest and digest system, the parasympathetic system conserves energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract.

Life Lessons: letting go, accepting the flow



Sitting here at Starbucks Sobe I am working with all of the feelings and situations arising around the sale of my home in Brooklyn. Particularly the feelings of fear and sadness as things seem not to be going my way in this moment. I fully understand-- intellectually--the temporary nature of both my feelings and the external events that I perceive as obstructive to my desires. In my gut I have knots.

This is an opportunity to let go of my usual responses. In sending an email reply to the President of the coop Board, after a couple of re-writes, I was able to express my concern at the current turn of events without blame. This is huge! I really do not know what is going on and I cannot control the decision of the Board in a particular matter that affects the sale of my apartment. There is a part of me that feels entitled and angry that this situation has occurred that I perceive may adversely affect me financially. I do not know this either. It is all conjecture on my part, fantasy, projection into a non existent future. Definitely not being here, now, in the present moment. And in this present moment I cannot affect materially what is happening nor change what has yet to be decided. Once the Board informs me of their decision then I can take next steps if I choose.

Right here, now, I am sitting outside Starbucks Sobe in a comfy chair, drinking coffee. There is a light breeze off the ocean just a short walk away. I am looking at the sunlight on the 50's style beach buildings across the quiet street. I hear the easy conversations of those sitting around me including the giggles and gurgles of a young child. I smell eggs and cheese in breakfast wraps. This is what is real that I can experience now. Whatever is happening in New York is beyond my reach at this moment. I choose to be with what is here now-- at least for a moment
Om shanti