Friday, December 29, 2006

Sunrise & Sunset Digital Alarm Clock for Seasonal Affective Disorder treatment

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Sleep timer

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Air flight and the opportunities to buy into fear, or not

At the moment I'm flying home from visiting my family for Christmass. While many travelers are being affected by the snow in Denver, my flight is being affected by a completely different thing. The airplane is coming from St. Louis, and the airline intends to use this plane to take us to San Francisco. But the plane has been delayed, twice, due to mechanical problems, twice, in leaving from St. Louis to come to us in Chicago. We were originally scheduled to leave Chicago at 8:30 PM but the delays have slipped our departure to 12:00 or later.

It is these mechanical problems which is making for the lesson I'm seeing at this moment.

Many of my fellow passengers are understandably worried. Some are asking This plane has had mechanical problems twice and you're planning to let us fly in it? Are you crazy? The gate agent has been patient and understanding, and explaining how the mechanics check the plane and only allow it to fly if they're confident it is safe.

The lesson is, who to believe, and whether to let fear run the show.

It's easy to let the fear take hold here. We know there's a pair of problems with this plane, why would we want to trust it? On the other hand do any of us know the safety history of any of the planes we've flown in? No. Maybe all the planes we've flown in have had minor mechanical problems, which the mechanics fixed. I, for one, have had zero problems with safe airplanes and that's with three (now) international flights under my belt.

Can one carefully listen to the evidence before them and trust? It is a life and death issue, trusting that the plane will safely get me to my destination. On the other hand driving on highways at highway speeds involves a lot of trust, trust that the others on the road want to drive safely, that they will pay attention to the traffic laws, they'll pay attention to the lane markers, etc. Life involves a lot of trust in others in every moment of every day.

And then in the final analysis perhaps the fear and worry doesn't matter. The gate agent just announced the plane we are to fly on just landed, and that in St. Louis they had changed planes and the one we are to fly on is not the one which had the mechanical problems.

This is so much like many things we can choose to worry about. Often we don't have complete information, the specifics haven't been told to us, etc. In the absence of real information the mind wants to supply the missing information. For example we might hear a neighbor crying repeatedly, screaming, sounding like they're in a lot of anguish. The mind might make up a story without knowing the truth that the neighbors wife is beating him, and that's why he's crying and screaming. But do we know that's the truth? Similarly in this case we did not know the plane had been replaced, we only knew there were delays due to mechanical problems. The mind perhaps thought the airline is a big business, cutting corners, running unsafe airplanes, and we're all going to die because they chose to fly us in an unsafe airplane. But that's not at all what was happening, and instead the airline had responsibly grounded the airplane and sent us a better one.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Another Reason Not To Drink Soft Drinks

Another Reason Not To Drink Soft Drinks is a story linking to a video clip detailing a finding by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that soft drinks generally are containing Benzene. Which just reminds me of a recent story from India where Coca Cola was banned due to containing some hazardous chemical. Anyway, in this case there are two chemicals that are commonly added, Sodium Benzoate and Ascorbic Acid which, when mixed together and left in the right conditions, will do a chemical reaction that makes Benzene. The problem is that Benzene is a carcinogen, and these soda's are containing Benzene levels well above the accepted maximum amount.

FDA REPORT: Data on Benzene in Soft Drinks and Other Beverages

The results are preliminary and warrant further study. One detail is that the standardized maximum for Benzene levels are specified for drinking water, and are based on drinking 2 liters per day over a long period of time. I wonder how many people drink 2 liters of soft drinks per day? And it isn't known how often soft drinks end up containing benzene.

Soda Causing CANCER?

Friday, December 22, 2006

The boy who lived before

The boy who lived before is a story about a young boy in Glasgow who vividly remembered his former life, and kept badgering his family retelling stories from his life on the island of Barra, one of the Scottish Isles. He had an amazingly detailed recollection of that former life, of the house he lived in, the name of the family, and on and on. Eventually his current family brought him to Barra and was able to confirm everything.

This is not an unknown phenomenon. The article discusses a researcher named Jim Tucker who is investigating this phenomenon. Ian Stevenson also studies this same phenomenon.

Ian Stevenson: Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, Children Who Remember Previous Lives

Jim Tucker: Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives

Thursday, December 21, 2006

What would you do if you didn't have a job telling you what to do?

This is the thought that came to mind as I drove to work this morning: What would you do if you didn't have a job telling you what to do?

Like most of us I have fallen into this pattern where the corporation I work for determines what I do in my life. Working in Silicon Valley means living here, even though it's so expensive to buy a house I've never been able to get past sticker shock. Working in the job I have means performing the set of activities the boss wants me to do. For both there is the threat of being fired if I don't do what they say.

I feel highly motivated to do work that would affect the process of global warming and/or the political awareness of the fiascos brought to us by the Bush Administration. But working for a living in a full time job leaves little free time. And neither of those topics help the corporation I work for and therefore my boss would not appreciate if I spent work hours on those activities.

Then as I stayed with the statement another version formed in my thinking. What actions would you take if you were not in reactive mode?

In other words, I'm probably not alone in this, but the pattern I follow includes looking at the world around me and reacting to what I see. My life taught me to ignore the ideas flickering (or burning) inside me, and instead my life taught me to look at what others say or do, and then make sure that my statements and actions are compatible with my perception of what other people are doing and saying. It's a very subtle thing to notice and requires careful self-observation of the kind that meditators develop.

This, however, is like looking at life through the wrong end of the telescope. Rather than choosing my own destiny I've been letting others determine it for me. I know that I'm not alone in this predicament.

In Light Emerging: The Journey of Personal Healing Barbara Brennan discusses this predicament as one of the five character structures taught in the Reichian-inspired psychological theory she teaches. The Masochist learns in childhood to do anything they can to please other people, because one gets love and attention by doing as others say. The Masochist has poor self boundaries, and generally does not know their own essence. The Masochist also learned to stop the flow of their life.

Clearly as Barbara recommends in her book, the human need is to learn to be free to feel and express the self, and the spiritual need is to recognize ones core essence and to live it. The specific path she recommends is to first recognize those who use the Masochist character structure may well have a very complicated set of ideas to bring out. That it may take quite a while, several years perhaps, of carefully recording ideas and thoughts and piecing it together over time. She suggests writing ideas in a journal and to take ones time, that it might be two years or more.

I have found that idea, to journal and reflect over a long time, very helpful for myself. However I recently have been developing a practice which also helps one gain familiarity with their core essence. Inner Homeopathy is a meditative practice that helps one experience their divine self in an authentic fashion. It is a simple practice of breathing and calling from inside yourself the divine presence within you.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Contemplative Prayer

Consider the phrase Be still, and know that I am God. It's a popular verse in the Bible. It is one of the instructional phrases in the Bible, and is the core of a form of prayer known as Contemplative Prayer.

A recent DVD, Be Still offers explanation and examples of what is Contemplative Prayer. The movie is done as a series of interviews with Christian authors, pastors and educators, explaining this.

One way they explain Contemplative Prayer is as the difference between listening to God, and talking to God. If, they suggest, you want to hear what God has to tell you, then stop talking and listen. Very simple, eh?

The movie is presented very much in the mold of Christianity. This concept of stilling the mind so you can listen to God, that transcends Christianity just as God actually transcends Christianity. God is a universal being, so why would God be limited to being expressed through one religion? But I digress.

Several times the speakers describe the Bible as the Word Of God. Therefore, they say, the Bible is a means for God to speak to us. One describes a practice of leafing through the Bible and letting your eye alight on specific passages, a practice I know as a form of divination.

An analogy the speakers use is Benjamin Franklin discovering electricity while flying a kite. Specifically, Benjamin Franklin represents the human ego, the kite represents Jesus (probably), the string represents our prayer, and the storm and electricity represents God. In other words their model is that God is outside us, that we have to reach elsewhere in order to connect to God, that God is far remote from us, and perhaps that we require an intecessor to channel God into us, that we cannot reach God on our own.

They do not give explicit instruction for Contemplative Prayer. They describe the process in general as to find a phrase in the Bible you wish to connect with, and then "lean into" the phrase.

One speaker described becoming quiet, and then listening to the voices talking. I wish to raise a little caution at this moment. If one simply stops and listens to the voices they hear in their consciousness, most of the time that is the ego mind chattering away about concerns of the ego mind. The ego is clearly not God, so if one simply follows the face value of what that speaker said one might be hearing their ego chatter and decide that chatter is God. In some cases that can result in disastrous consequences along the lines of the Son Of Sam murder spree where a fellow kept hearing this voice that told him to kill people.

However, one can first prepare their space to be receptive to hearing the thoughts of God. Rather than simply become quiet and listen, one first spends some time praying, praying to connect with the highest, to connect with and be God. As you practice divine connection then it will be easier for you to hear the voice of God as you stop and listen. Over time you may develop discernment over which voice is the ego, and which is the Divine voice.

One branch of modern Contemplative Prayer is the work of Father William Menninger who found the medieval text, The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works, and from it developed a teaching he called Contemplative Prayer. The site includes discussion and tools related to this form of prayer.

Cloud of Unknowing @ Christian Classics Ethereal Library is an online copy of that book.

Websites related to: Centering Prayer, and Contemplative Prayer

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Deep compassionate forgiveness

Former Christian Peacemaker Teams Hostages Harmeet Singh Sooden and James Loney Remember Murdered Colleague Tom Fox and Explain Why They Forgive Their Captors is a Democracy Now interview and story which begins in November 2005, over a year ago. A team of Christian oriented peacemakers was kidnapped while they worked for peace in Iraq. They were held for 118 days, and one of the team members was killed by the kidnappers. A few days ago Authorities captured one or more of the people who kidnapped and held these people. The team members have, as a response to being asked to testify in an upcoming trial, called for unconditional forgiveness of their captors and forgiveness of all involved with the conflict with Iraq.

These people are giving us an interesting and very public demonstration of forgiveness in action. They were clearly "wronged" by the standards of any human. In the interview you can clearly hear their struggle between the desire for some kind of retribution, for the payment of the time during which their liberty was denied, and the depth of their spiritual stand.

Since September 11, 2001 this idea has returned to me over and over: Violence piled upon violence only begets more violence

The use of the word begets is purposeful, in that there is a biblical element to the struggle in the middle east. And as we think back over time we see how none of the retributions conducted for past aggressions managed to prevent future aggressions.

The principle of forgiveness is very well stated by the people in this interview. There is a futility in seeking retribution for some act of violence. Seeking retribution only continues the cycle of violence and it cannot erase the past act of violence. The moving finger having writ the deeds which occur now, move on and no act of Man can undo the truth of what happened in the past.

Consider ... something happens to you .. you seek "justice" and "retribution" .. you get to confront your attacker, smack them around a bit or worse .. and then, what? How do you feel afterwards? Have you managed to erase anything? Or have you instead stooped to the depths to which they sank in attacking you? What does attacking them say about you? Would they feel justified in attacking you again because you attacked them?

The continuing Israel and Palestinian war is a huge example of retribution gone awry. They are continually attacking one another over past grievances, and after nearly 60 years of conflict have not been able to resolve anything. An eye for an eye is quickly leaving them all very blind.

Instead forgiveness is a divine process of healing. You begin by realizing the extent of the harm done to you, and then you let go, you give up all thoughts of retribution or repayment.

It is a difficult path to follow. The human ego really wants retribution.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Re: How feminism destroyed real men

How feminism destroyed real men offers an interesting glimpse into male-female relations. Women don't like wimps is the writers claim. But I wonder if he's overgeneralizing.

In the 1990's it was popular for men to try and embrace their feminine side. As the author says, the idealized relationship was for the man to cry along with their partner while watching a chick flick and then cook up a decent dinner. But, he says, that merely created a generation of spineless and sexless men. Hmmm..?? Instead the "real man" is strong, powerful, decision-making, etc.

Some choice quotes: A true Amazon couldn't stand the company of a supplicant male, let alone marry one. Real alpha-women are the ones who can more than hold their own with an alpha-man...women love men who stand up to them, who won't be pushed around....women secretly long for a man with swagger, who is cocky and selfassured and has the cheek to stand up them and make fun of their feminine foibles...They long for the rakish charm of a man who knows there's a whole ocean of fish out there, who isn't afraid of being himself in case he is rejected....

What he's actually describing is power plays. In the Reichian-psychology inspired model I learned at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, this was labeled Psychopathy. To explain what this means, BBSH teaches a form of studying human characteristics based on how they disconnect with their true essence. One who practices Psychopathy tends to dominate others, generally with mental domination.

This is the kind of person who demands the other acknowledge them as the boss, who prefers to dominate the people around them. They think that if they are in control, then everything will be okay. That you assure the best outcome by being in control. One thing the Psychopathy practitioner wants is to be met in equal power. They want their partner to meet them (metaphorically) on the field of battle and be tested strength-for-strength. Reading that article is a great example of Psychopathy in action.

But what he says is not the entire picture of human relationships.

For example there are men whose authentic expression is to be a pushover, there are men whose authentic expression is to talk and talk and talk and be very emotional, etc. In fact the human characteristics are shared by both men and women.

Psychologists understand that all of us have both feminine and masculine aspects to our personalities. These aspects come in different proportions for different people. It's not that females are only feminine and males are only masculine. We both have each. The yin-yang symbol demonstrates this very well, with having black and white swirling around each other, but in the center of black there is a spot of white, and in the center of white there is a spot of white.

I would agree with him that any person who buries their true self. If someone's true self (as they understand it) is more dominant, then perhaps that's how they should live.

But what of those who dominate for dominations sake? Who let domination of others run rampant over the feelings and boundaries of those around them? This is one of the ways that relationships are a training ground for us to find our true selves. The overzealous dominator is a challenge to all those around him or her, for those other people to find enough power from within themselves to at least meet the dominator in equal power.

At the same time it is very likely the overzealous dominator is overstepping their own true self. As I said earlier, BBSH teaches about several character patterns, Psychopathy is just one of the five of them. These character patterns are ways in which humans disconnect from their true self.

The real quest is to learn to live from your true self.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Contemplative Science, bringing together scientific method with spiritual experientialism

Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism And Neuroscience Converge makes for an interesting line of thinking. In our modern times we think of Science and Religion as occupying two non-overlapping worlds of study. Science is to stay with its rigorous method of proof based on testable hypothesis, while Religion is to stay with matters of the divine, that transcend material existance, and deal with matters of ethics and the like.

But that split exists only in Europe and in relation to the Catholic church. In other regions of the world, at other periods of history, spiritual and religious seekers also studied the material world. The great flowering of learning in Islam, while Europe was in the clutches of Christianity imposed anti-learning dogma, was because the early Islamic practitioners were enamored with getting to know the Divine through studying the material world created by Allah. And what an amazingly intricate creation this world is. The detail in this world which has been revealed to us by science is truly mind-boggling vast in scope, depth, breadth, detail and in every other descriptive measure I could muster.

Another spiritual tradition of the world that did not split reason and spiritual practice is Buddhism. The Buddha himself told his followers "Do not take my statements to be true simply out of reverence for me. But rather, put them to the test." In other words he challenges Buddhist practitioners to test the teachings he presented to us, test them and prove them for ourselves.

In this Salon.COM interview, Buddha on the brain, B. Allan Wallace, the author of Contemplative Science is interviewed at depth about his proposal, Dogma and Science. The difference between Dogma and Science is a poignant observation here. Dogma is a ritualistic acceptance of what you are told, no critical reasoning, no testing, just a blind acceptance of what others claim to be truth. The Scientific method is all about testing everything, and a key aspect is the formation of testable hypothesis.

A testable hypothesis is refutable, that is you can prove the hypothesis is wrong, just as you can prove it to be right. The existence of God is, for example, an untestable hypothesis because you cannot disprove God's existence. In the realm of Spiritual experience there are many an untestable hypothesis.

An interesting idea to ponder is this:

At the same time, science is not just science. This very notion that the mind must simply be an emergent property of the brain -- consisting only of physical phenomena and nothing more -- is not a testable hypothesis. Science is based upon a very profound metaphysical foundation. Can you test the statement that there is nothing else going on apart from physical phenomena and their emergent properties? The answer is no.

Science is full of dogma, that is it's full of ideas that are accepted by rote rather than proved by scientific method. For example the idea of the mind and consciousness. Neuroscientists have found all sorts of correlations of emotions and chemicals or locations in the brain, but what have they proved? Have they disproved any claim made by mystics? Have they been able to form a testable hypothesis around mind and consciousness solely being a byproduct of the chemicals and brain activity? No.

B. Allan Wallace suggests bringing Buddhists practices of studying the mind into cooperative work with those who can drive the instruments of science. The Buddhists have a couple millennia of experience and teachings to draw upon related to a rigorous system of studying the mind. That is what Buddhists do as they meditate is to observe the function of the mind, and deep Buddhist practice has a lot in common with psychological theories.

It is my experience that the actions of spiritual practices are very real and can cause real effects. That is what healing is about. Healing is to access spiritual states and through spiritual practice bring about beneficial change of a physical condition. This tells me that spiritual forces are part of the world and ought to be measurable by appropriate instruments. Until now the appropriate instruments have been living beings such as you and me. But these forces ought to be measurable by other kinds of instruments, the kind that give objective measurements, that can be quantified, etc.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Aching back? Is it sitting posture? Or is it something else?

Aching Back? Sitting Up Straight Could Be The Culprit offers an interesting light on the problem of our aching backs. Some doctors in Scotland use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment to study the biomechanics of sitting posture to see if they could determine the optimal posture. They showed that sitting in an upright position places unnecessary strain on your back, leading to potentially chronic pain problems if you spend long hours sitting.

Their observation is that our bodies did not evolve in with a 90 degree body-thigh angle in mind. Instead the optimal body-thigh angle was found to be 130 degrees. In other words those kneeler chairs are pretty close to an optimal body-thigh angle. Another kind of chair that would be beneficial is one whose back reclines easily.

I'm having a hard time imagining a desk and chair arrangement where you can easily work while sitting in a chair that reclines to give you a 130 degree body-thigh angle. The kneeler chairs seem more feasible in this regard.

However let me offer a different consideration, which my chiropractor constantly is drumming into me. Stretching, walking, exercise, etc.

The problem, she says, is probably more to do with sitting for a long time. Modern life has most of us in work situations where we sit for long periods, perhaps in front of a computer. These force us to take body positions that are unnatural and leads to back pain and wrist problems like the carpal tunnel syndrome.

There's a simple solution, she says. Get up every 40 minutes or so, take a break, and walk around a bit. And, she recommends, stretch your muscles.

What I'm learning is, our bodies evolved through millennia to be physically active. Most of our ancestors did not work for long hours in unnatural sitting positions, like we do. Hence our bodies work better if they move around regularly and do strenuous things. So, why not incorporate some of that into your daily regimine?

There are some simple stretching exercises, or Yoga if you prefer, that can help you build strength in your muscles. And these stretching exercises act to loosen the muscles that may be learning to stay tight because you're sitting for long periods.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Choosing what direction you take in life

What is your purpose? Where is your life taking you? How do you decide the life you are going to live?

These are universal questions, ones I've been pondering very much lately. I had an interesting inspiration this morning I'd like to share.

Riding my motorcycle on the way to work I was in a curve I regularly take. Halfway through this curve there is an entrance into a parking lot, and today I was behind pair of cars, one took the turn into that parking lot, and the other did not. Which struck me as exemplifying choice. One went one way, the other went the other way.

Life is a series of choices. Where you end up in life is based on the choices you make. Constantly, choices. Every day you choose to go to work, or whether to call your boss and tell him/her what to do with that stinking job. And the choices are far more continual than that, because every step you walk, every breath you take, every word you say, every moment is a choice. Your life is made of those choices.

Riding the motorcycle exemplifies one aspect of life and making choices. When you're taking a curve on a motorcycle, inertia, centripetal forces, gyroscopic forces, the friction of rubber meeting the road, and more, all go together to place you in a delicate maneuver. On a motorcycle in a curve your choices are pretty limited so you had better look ahead and make your choice before entering the curve.

If we choose to fly, what keeps us anchored to the ground? There is more to life than simply the choices you make. The choices you make occur within a context, and the context acts to shape your choices into the results.

A few years ago I had been having these dreams about jumping off a cliff, and flying. Shortly after I found myself on a trip in Arizona, in a national park, standing at the top of a cliff, and thinking about that dream. If I had taken the dream literally I might have chosen to jump off the cliff expecting to fly. But I suppose if I had chosen that course I wouldn't be here typing this message to you, would I?

The context we live our lives in is this material world. It follows laws which the physicists call Inertia and Gravity which go together to say that if I had chosen to jump off that cliff expecting to fly, Gravity would have grabbed ahold of me causing me to plummet to the bottom of the cliff several hundred feet below.

Another context is our bodies. We inhabit human bodies and the nature of our bodies give us a certain perspective whereas if we inhabited the body of a household cat we might have a different perspective. The perspective and nature of the body we inhabit give our choices room to fly (in some cases, if we inhabit a bird) or they also limit us in some ways (for instance, birds do not have hands or arms).

Saturday, October 14, 2006

What are books on Divorce doing in the Business books section?

I had an idea to check out the business books sections for books about sustainable business. I didn't find much, instead the books appeared to be all about greed and making zillions of dollars. Like Find It, Fix It, Flip It!: Make Millions in Real Estate--One House at a Time, a book about making a zillion bucks by fixing up broken down old houses. Like Internet Riches: The Simple Money-making Secrets of Online Millionaires and other get-rich-quick schemes. Like Power and Persuasion: How to Command Success in Business and Your Personal Life and other books about dominating your way to the top.

A small percentage of the books are about being a centered and soul-inspired business participant, and I did buy one of those.

What shocked me was finding books on Divorce in the middle of the Business section. Not one book but 3 or 4 of them.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Living as if my decisions matter

What affect do we have on others? What effect do we have on the quality of society or environmental conditions we live in?

You and I are just one person. What can we do? How can we affect world issues? How can we make peace happen in the world? As one person, what can you or I do?

All sorts of decisions are made for us ahead of time. What kind of food can we buy and is it nutricious? That decision is made by the restaurents and grocery stores. Do the clothes we wear or the furnishings in our house contain toxic chemicals that are slowly poisoning us? That decision is made by the manufacturer and regulated by the government.

It goes on and on. In the U.S.A. we have a dizzying array of choices in the stores, and we have a lot of personal freedom. But there are limits and to a large degree most choices are predetermined by big organizations. They choose the quality of the air, the quality of the water, the kind of food we have available, the kind of cars we have available, the sort of transportation system in our cities, the way electricity is delivered and generated, the makeup of all the products, etc. All that is predetermined by those big organizations.

The "choice" in our stores and in our life seems to me to be an illusion. Any time a decision has predetermined parameters, you control the outcome of the decision. It's just like when one person is asking questions, the choice of questions the questioner asks tends to limit the respondant in their answers. By limiting the range of choice the big organizations tend to control the outcome.

The oil companies for example want to keep us from choosing alternative energy sources besides oil. So in cahoots with the car companies they've gone to great lengths to control the politics of the country and the beliefs of the people so that the only feasible choice people can make is to continue driving oil-burning cars.

Spiritual teachings say we have complete freedom of choice. We can choose anything we want at any time. Well, I suppose our power of choice is ultimately limited by the behavior of the physical universe. I don't know anybody who has chosen the ability to fly, for example.

Excercising freedom of choice offers a liberation, it offers choosing your own destiny rather than living by the destiny others have chosen for you. Where one goes in life is pretty much determined by the choices they make as they go through life. Obviously there are other choices made by other people which also effect where one goes in life. Living in this world is, after all, a cooperative endeavor.

Excercising freedom of choice can mean going against the status quo and perhaps facing ridicule from those around you.

For example take the alternative choice for powering your vehicle than oil. You can choose to ride a bicycle everywhere, you can choose several alternative fuels like biodiesel or natural gas, or you can choose an electric car. All those have their own difficulties and tradeoffs, but those are choices you can make which do not involve burning fossil fuel (oil).

Excercising freedom of choice can affect the choices others make. If someone sees you doing something, like driving an electric car, that might lead them to thinking an electric car is okay after all.

Excercising freedom of choice sends a message to the big organizations. It is your money and every time you spend your money on X versus Y that's like voting in an election. The dollars spent by all the purchasers of X tend to reinforce the manufacturers to make X and other products like it.

Monday, August 7, 2006

An herbal way to beat the heat

On my other blog site I've written an article about cooling off without having to run the air conditioner.

Air conditioners are useful in making our houses more livable. However, the cost to air conditioners is they amplify the advance of global warming. There's more details on the blog entry (linked above) but this acceleration of global warming happens because air conditioners effectively shift heat from inside buildings to outside, plus the electricity required to run the air conditioner adds carbon to the atmosphere directly affecting the greenhouse gasses and directly causing more climate change.

For the time being it's perhaps best to avoid air conditioners. Perhaps in the future humanity might develop a way to generate electricity without adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere. Well, some methods for that have already been developed, but the powers that be don't see it fit to actually deploy those methods. So for the time being the use of air conditioners will simply make the heating problem worse. It's kind of like squeezing a baloon, which just makes the baloon plump up elsewhere.

Anyway .. I want to discuss a little about herbal ways to cool off.

Air conditioning is a recent invention, which means our ancestors have for thousands of years been developing ways to beat the heat using other means.

I want to go over some herbal treatments to help one cool off, which come from Healing with the Herbs of Life

First let's discuss a general principle. Every herb or food substance has a heating or cooling nature. That nature isn't directly related to the temperature of the thing, but has to do with the chemical and energetic makeup of the herb or food. For example cinnamon is a heating herb, and the company that makes the Red Hots candy knows this very well because Red Hots are made from cinnamon.

If you ingest a heating food or herb on a hot day, that's just going to make your body hotter. Likewise if you ingest a cooling food or herb on a hot day, that'll make your body cooler. And, again, this doesn't have to do with the temperature of the thing, though a cold beverage of course will have an cooling effect. We're just looking at a way to amplify it by also using the right herbs or foods.

Cools and releases the exterior: These are said to be used for "wind heat" conditions that inlcude sweating and thirst, severe sore throat, intense headache, etc. Mint, peppermint, Lemon, Chrysanthemum, feverfew, boneset

Clear summer heat: This has to do with over-exposure to heated conditions, heat exhaustion, profuse sweating, fever, irritability, sunburn, sunstroke, etc. Diuretics and antipyretics are recommended, with examples being watermelon, mung bean, soybeans and cucumber.

There are other heat conditions covered in the book. However, just like the heating or cooling nature of herbs do not have anything to do with the temperature of the herb, so do the conditions that chinese medicine calls heat. For example inflammation is a heat condition, which you can see for yourself because the inflamed muscles are themselves hot to the touch. The herbal way to treat inflamation is with herbs that cool inflammation such as gardenia or bungleweed.

It's interesting that watermelon and cucumber are both popular summertime foods, and they are recommended as a method to clear summer heat. If you think about how watermelon or cucumber salad feels in your mouth, don't they have a cold nature? It's that cold nature that the herbalists recognize as producing the cooling effect in your body.

Mint is an interesting example. In the Middle East there's a traditional drink, senkajabin, which is made with mint. There's also the Mint Julep, a popular drink in the Old South. Even if you make a hot tea with mint, it will cool you off. Isn't that interesting?

Friday, August 4, 2006

Side Effects

Side Effects is a movie about the drug industry. Not the illegal drug industry, but the legal one, the one that controls the kind of medicine we can receive in order that they can continue selling us drugs.

You can buy it from who says: Plot Synopsis: KARLY HERT has spent the last ten years selling drugs...legally, that is. Although conflicted on a daily basis by the values within the pharmaceutical industry, and industry driven by profits at the expense of patients; Karly has been seduced by the golden handcuffs of corporate America. Enter ZACH DANNER, who convinces Karly to be true to her values and walk away from her lucrative but empty job. As their relationship blossoms, Karly devises a plan to get out. But leaving is never quite as easy as it seems...

A related movie is Money Talks - Profits Before Patient Safety. The maker of Side Effects raised so many concerns with that movie, that she turned to experts and produced this documentary. Plot Synopsis: Money Talks explores the many questions surrounding the ethical and societal implications of the marketing practices of the pharmaceutical industry. It is a gripping documentary that features interviews with key opinion leaders from Harvard, Columbia, UCLA and more. These experts frankly discuss pharmaceutical influence as it relates to consumers, physicians, research, the FDA and Capitol Hill.

Side Effects

Side Effects is a movie about the drug industry. Not the illegal drug industry, but the legal one, the one that controls the kind of medicine we can receive in order that they can continue selling us drugs.

You can buy it from who says: Plot Synopsis: KARLY HERT has spent the last ten years selling drugs...legally, that is. Although conflicted on a daily basis by the values within the pharmaceutical industry, and industry driven by profits at the expense of patients; Karly has been seduced by the golden handcuffs of corporate America. Enter ZACH DANNER, who convinces Karly to be true to her values and walk away from her lucrative but empty job. As their relationship blossoms, Karly devises a plan to get out. But leaving is never quite as easy as it seems...

A related movie is Money Talks - Profits Before Patient Safety. The maker of Side Effects raised so many concerns with that movie, that she turned to experts and produced this documentary. Plot Synopsis: Money Talks explores the many questions surrounding the ethical and societal implications of the marketing practices of the pharmaceutical industry. It is a gripping documentary that features interviews with key opinion leaders from Harvard, Columbia, UCLA and more. These experts frankly discuss pharmaceutical influence as it relates to consumers, physicians, research, the FDA and Capitol Hill.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Finding peace in difficult times

It's very hard to find or see or experience peace in times like we are having today. Today, as I write this, Israel has engaged in a war with the Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, and is bombing large parts of Lebanon. It is in retaliation for attacks by Hezbollah, but if you wind yourself back through the years you find a repeated series of attacks, one attacking the other, back and forth, as they each sought retribution for previous grievances done by the other.

How can we have peace with this fighting?

Okay, we can kick back another six pack and ignore the significance of the fighting. It doesn't have to be a six pack, as there are a zillion ways for someone to numb out such horrors. But suppose one is paying attention to the horrors, that they are aware of the significance of them, and they want to find a path to peace?

Oh, and just what is the potential significance of these events? Well, I see the clear possibility that the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah and Lebanon will merge with the greater conflict involving Iraq, Iran and Syria, and become a region-wide war. Already several world leaders are calling this the opening stage of World War III.

With that in mind let us get back to peace.

First, let me ask you just what peace is? Is peace the cessation of war or conflict? I don't think so.

I heard a wise man once speak about peace. He works with inner city gangs and in Kosovo with peacemaking work, and what he pointed out is that peace is not simply the cessation of conflict. To explain what peace is, he asked us to think about the woods, the feeling, the peace, that woods imbue upon an area. A lot of conflict occurs within woods, trees fall down, all sorts of life and death conflict happens between hunter and prey, but the woods remain a haven of peace.

After four years of pondering this idea I can best define peace as a force weaving throughout lives that creates a wholeness that contains those lives.

Now lets start talking about how we can find peace in difficult times like we have today.

The difficult times I'm talking of need not be just in the outer world, like wars or rape or robberies. We have difficult times in our inner world as well. Our job may be stressful, or our spouse might be angry at us, or we might not know how to handle our rambunctious kids, etc. Difficulties abound and it is part of living and being human to strive to learn how to handle difficulties in a wholesome and healthy way.

The method to dealing with difficult times begins with another observation about how the woods embody peace.

Think about some woods next to a busy highway. If you are in those woods, isn't it hard to feel that feeling, the peacefulness, that imbues the woods? Then think about woods that are not next to a highway, and isn't it easy to feel that peacefulness in those woods? The idea to share is that woods have a sort of capacity to imbue peace into their surroundings. The size of one disturbance might be within the capacity of the woods to encompass, but other disturbances might blow right past that capacity.

Like someone with a bulldozer wanting to clear some land by knocking down trees. That is clearly beyond the capacity of woods to imbue with peace. The busy highway is, as well, beyond the capacity of woods to imbue with peace.

That shows a route to finding peace in difficult times. One must carefully and purposely nurture peace, especially in difficult times. As you nurture peace within yourself, your capacity to remain peaceful in the face of difficulties will grow. Your capacity to encompass all your difficulties will grow as you purposely nurture peace.

It's best to first practice with finding peace for yourself. Later you can practice sending peace to others.

There are many practices that will help to find peace. A very simple one is to simply walk in the woods and see for yourself the example I have given. When you're in the woods, pay attention to what is going on. Notice how things happen, and then are quickly swallowed up by the woods.

The one I want to suggest is a meditation upon peace. Begin by breathing, and as you breath in and out speak "Peace" as you breath. As you speak "Peace", do it as a way of calling "Peace" from inside you. Have the intention that "Peace" will reveal itself to you as you breath in and out, speaking "Peace".

Keep breathing in and out speaking "Peace" and watch what happens inside you.

As you practice breathing in and out speaking "Peace" your inner turmoil is likely to rise up. You might suddenly remember an argument with a lover from 20 years ago, or you might remember an argument at work, or you might remember some small slight done to you in the past. This is your inner turmoil. As you call "Peace" from inside yourself, do not get caught up in this turmoil but instead allow the "Peace" to embrace the turmoil.

You may find it difficult at first to stay with your "Peace" while your turmoil bubbles up. Simply stay with the practice. Watch how you embrace your turmoil with "Peace". Do you smother the turmoil trying to extinguish it? Or is it a comforting embrace? It is the latter which I recommend you to do.

May peace be with you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Deepak Chopra on "Who Owns Christianity"

There is a wave of Fundamentalism that has swept through many religions. Primarily Christianity and Islam are the ones we know about, because it is fundamental Christian and Islam that is fighting each other so strenuously.

In Who owns Christianity? he makes some interesting points. Such as: Who are we to condemn gays if Christ didn't? In fact, who are we to condemn any sinner, since Christ didn't? Yet, the fundamentalists seem to thrive on condemnation, preaching how God is standing over us ready to damn us to Hell for our Sins.

Is that what is taught to us? Is damnation the act of infinite loving??

Just who created this God who Damns Us To Hell? And why are they forcing that God down our throats?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion"

Todays fortune cookie thought: "When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion"

There's many ways to take this, so let's try this one on for size.

It's said that we are each powerful beings, we are each representatives of the divine. In the New Testament it is said that we will do all the things Jesus did, and more. So, why do we not each live the potential it is said we have? Is that saying false? Or is there some way to explain it?

It's well understood that we each have self limiting beliefs. We may be eminently successful but inside us is a voice that nags with self doubt. The voice may or may be weak or it might even be unknown consciously, but it's there. It might not even be self doubt, explicitly, but each of us have beliefs inside us that act to limit us.

Some examples are:

  • "He's gotten too big for his britches",
  • "Don't get a swelled head",
  • "I can't do that",
  • "Nobody likes/trusts/etc me",
  • "They'll just laugh at me",
  • "They won't like that idea",
  • "They always reject me",
  • afraid of the limelight,
  • ...etc...

It may seem that each one of those beliefs are small and insignificant. Not unlike a strand of a spider web.

It's known that such beliefs have a source from some event, usually during childhood. In the source event some decision was made. For example you might have tried to make a joke, and all your friends laughed at you instead, which helped you form a belief they'll just laugh at you. You could easily have decided from that belief that you wouldn't try to make jokes again, or you might even be quiet all the time, all in an attempt to avoid having them laugh at you, again. The belief then gets carried forward through your life and you might have other events that reinforce the belief.

There are dozens of these beliefs inside each of us. Each are formed in the same way, and each are like a strand of a spider web. Each acts to bind or limit what you can do in order to avoid some unwanted result.

While each of these beliefs might be weak, they work together. The effect is that, together, they have the force to hold in check the awesome power it is said each of us have.

What can be done about this? How can we break free of these limits?

I think the first step is awareness, as always. Awareness that this is happening, that you are doing this to yourself. How can you prove to yourself that what I'm saying is true? Meditation.

One purpose the Buddhists have for meditation is so that you can learn to compassionately see your inner process. While sitting in meditation the instruction is to stay with the breath and not be attached to any chatter that happens. In effect you're learning to watch your inner chatter without being tied up in believing that it is true. It is the inner chatter which carries those beliefs, the more your inner chatter cycles around a given belief the stronger that belief is. It is said that by witnessing your inner chatter you can begin to have freedom from it.

For most people these processes of self limiting beliefs happens below the level of conscious awareness. It happens in what psychologists call our shadow self, the part of us we are not consciously aware of. Through meditation we learn to witness more of our inner self allowing more of our inner self to emerge from the shadow.

A concept to consider is: "What you give attention to grows"

If this shadow self is given free reign to focus on these self limiting beliefs, then it is those beliefs which will grow. Through meditation you can become aware of the habitual focus on these self limiting beliefs, and begin to choose to focus on other beliefs.

It's not just that we learn to see how we hold habitual self limiting beliefs which keep us from achieving our dreams and life purpose. There's another thing we can learn to focus on and give attention to.

It's said that we are each powerful beings, we are each representatives of the divine. If we learned to give attention to that part of ourself what might happen? Psychologists call this part of ourself the Golden Shadow, or the part of us we aren't aware of which has no limiting beliefs and is quite capable, beautiful and powerful.

One way I practice this is through chanting OM. This sound, OM, is said by Hindu mystics to be the seed sound of the universe. The idea I have is that through chanting OM it can serve as a portal which connects me with the divine plan for the universe, and that by having greater resonance with the divine plan of the universe all of my being can be in greater harmony and peace.

Another way I practice this is with a prayer taught by Ron Roth. It is very simply to, as you breath in and out, say to yourself "(breathing in) I am (breathing out) God breaths". In effect your prayer is "I am God, breath". In this practice it's not just the words, but it's the intention. For example you could experience being breathed by God. What is that like, to be breathed by God? Try it and find out.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Experiential knowledge versus head learning

The modern society we live in is thoroughly affected by Socratic and Aristotlean methods of reasoning. Science, reasoning, etc. The paradigm is that everything that all we can know we can find out only by means of our reason, and that truth is to be found by discussion and logical argument.

This is the essence of the scientific method. Clearly the scientific method has brought us wondrous toys and technologies, and great understanding of how the world works. But I feel it misses out on something important.

Let me start with an analogy ... does reading about or discussing sex give you a better or poorer understanding of sexual intercourse? I chose "sex" for this analogy because it's basically the ultimate in the experiential.

Theoretical reasoning about sex tells you nothing about satisfactorally engaging in sexual intercourse. Right?

In this post I'm contrasting between two ways of learning about the world: Experiential learning versus reasoning and discussion

Experiential learning involves, well, learning through experience. One goes into a situation, and in the act of being in the situation you learn from the experience of being in that situation. The reasoning and discussion route has you thinking or writing about the situation.

Practitioners of the scientific method seem to completely discount experiential learning. Scientists often brush off what they call subjective evidence, in other words experiential learning, and favor objective evidence. Objective evidence has the advantage of being independantly verifiable and measurable, allowing you to write about the evidence, make theories based on the evidence, etc.

But ... here's what objective evidence misses. It is not the real world. When you make some measurements of something, like an apple falling from a tree, you can only measure a tiny shadow of what's happening. Physicists from the time of Newton onward would say the apple has a certain mass, shape, size, hardness, density, and because it is falling from a tree on Earth it is subject to a known strength of gravitational attraction. All those attributes become mathematical equations that demonstrates the speed the apple falls from the tree, etc.

But ... the fact is they have not captured the event itself. Instead they have described the event. The description of the event is not the real world as it exists, it is a mathematical model for the world.

Having mathematical models and objective evidence is, as I've said, important if you want to build a theoretical model of the world with which you can reason about the world.

There is a very wise saying that comes to mind. One shouldn't confuse the map for the territory. When you look at a map of a city, do you understand the city? No. A city map is just lines for various things like streets, rivers, city boundries, etc. The map does not convey the human activity in that city, the work done there, the living, the play, the music, etc.

Similarly a mathematical model that describes how an apple falls from a tree is simply a map. Physics is simply a map of the current understanding by physicists of the functioning of the universe. It is a map, it is not the universe.

In particular scientists regularly discount any discussion about spiritual processes or practices. Energy healing, for example, is a spiritual process where one person is able to channel subtle energy, chi, to their client with the intent to help their client heal from a condition. All of the proof for energy healing or any other spiritual process is highly experiential. There is, to my knowledge, no machine or method for objectively measuring chi. This makes it rather difficult for scientists to use the scientific method to study spiritual processes like energy healing.

Yet energy healing proves itself to its practitioners. How? By the experience the practitioners have while giving healing.

When a healer waves their hands over a client, objective science would say there should be little or no effect. But, the healer knows through their experience of giving healings that effects do occur. The healer may sense a density in their client, and when they move their hands into that density the client begins sobbing and remembering a long forgotten memory. In healing after healing the healers experiential knowledge builds.

The map is not the territory. Relying on objective evidence, on reason and discussion, leaves one reliant soley on the map to find their way around.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Natural Health Web

Natural Health Web is a rather useful directory of web sites concerning healing and all forms of natural health.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Finding your negative intention

The shadow is the part of us which we don't "see" or "know". The human ego is willing to let us experience only a portion of ourself. There's a wide range of thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs and more which bubble inside us, which we don't always see or realize are there. Our friends probably see them very clearly, but our ego doesn't let us see them.

Some of the shadow is hurtful or harming. Maybe we don't want to admit to dominating or intimidating others. Maybe we don't want to admit to self destructive attitudes. Maybe we are scared of success, for whatever reason, and a part of us will sabotage any path towards success. But those aspects of ourself aren't pleasant to know about, are they? Therefore the ego will keep these aspects of ourself secret. This sort of shadow self is known as the dark shadow.

Another kind of shadow, the golden shadow, is the excellence we are unwilling to admit to. Maybe we are beautiful or brilliant or athletic or creative, and don't admit to this.

Last night I had an experience of the negative intention in my life, and wanted to share a learning about the shadow.

In thinking over my life a series of life-threatening, sometimes near fatal, experiences came to mind. A thought occurred to me that it was as if a part of me didn't want to live at all, and I'd rather die than live. A piece of my shadow, perhaps.

As I often do, I asked the divine guidance to help me see if there is a part of me holding this intention. That is, if a part of me really wants to die rather than live, or whether this is simply something my mind made up. The mind can create all sorts of scenarios and ideas, and it's always good to check the truth of an idea.

Well, we did find some truth to that thought, which I'm sitting with. But that's not the point that I'm inspired to write about.

The learning I spoke of, that I'm inspired to write, is this: It's that seeking out the shadow only leads to pain or suffering.

Yes, the shadow self exists inside us. It is an important spiritual quest to learn of this shadow, throwing some light on the shadow. It's by doing so that our shadow becomes less strong, over time.

However this is not done by seeking out the shadow. Instead one seeks out the light within. I once heard a wise statement: That which you pay attention or give love to grows, that which you ignore withers.

By seeking out the shadow, you are giving attention to your shadow, and your shadow will grow stronger.

This is why, instead, the spiritual practices of many traditions teach us to explore the divine. As we give attention to our positive aspects, the divine part of ourself, that part of ourself will grow. It's not that we would ignore our shadow, but that we would give attention to the divinity within us. As we practice our shadow will automatically show itself. As I said above, there is an important spiritual quest to learn of the shadow, and throw light on the shadow. By practicing the experience of our inner divinity, that's where we get the light to throw on the shadow.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

FDA Warns that Paxil Makes Depressed Adults Suicidal

FDA Warns that Paxil Makes Depressed Adults Suicidal is a rather alarming article about the supposedly anti-depressant drugs and a major side effect, namely increased risk of suicide. The author is Peter R. Breggin, M.D., a rather outspoken psychiatrist who has been researching and documenting the dangers of psychiatric drugs for years.

The story from mainstream medicine is that psychiatric drugs help, etc. Dr. Breggin's work has shown otherwise, however, only to be met by official stonewalling.

But, a recent study released by the FDA shows: Depressed people are 6.4 times more likely to become suicidal while taking an antidepressant than while taking a sugar pill. The study had a group of patients, one set taking sugar pills (placebo) and another group taking Paxil. Both groups had depression. The group taking Paxil were much more likely to have suicidal thoughts than the placebo group.

The article has a lot more details.

For some in-depth reading, may I suggest one of Dr. Breggins books: Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medications

"Don't give on the outside, give on the inside"

I was just at Whole Foods and saw this statement at the checkout stand: "Don't give on the outside, give on the inside" It was targeted to charitably minded people who would give food or money to the homeless people who congregated outside the store. Rather than give to the people who congregate outside, give to a charity who then gives to those people.

Interesting concept, but my mind took a very different direction from this.

The statement is very Buddhist in nature, even if the program is not. In Buddhist teaching we are told that everything we see in the world is a projection from inside us. Put another way, every part of the world is inside us, because the whole world is one identity, and our supposed separate identities is some kind of illusory madness.

For example, if you witness some kind of pain in the world the tendency is to go to that pain and try to fix that pain. That's an example of dualistic thinking, that the pain you're witnessing is outside yourself and therefore must be corrected outside yourself.

A Buddhist way of dealing with an "external" pain is to meditate on what that pain brings up inside you, sitting with it to learn about it.

What struck me as I walked outside and was approached by someone soliciting for donations is ... when I give to a charity, in a way it affirms or witnesses some form of lack in the world. They need money, therefore I will give it to them.

But, where am I needy inside myself? What part of myself feels it is lacking something? And, wouldn't it be more honest for me to find a way to satisfy that inner feeling of lack? And, wouldn't it be wonderful if everybody had a way to learn to satisfy their inner feeling of lack?

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Accepting the worst

This thought is in my calendar: "Peace of mind is that mental condition in which you have accepted the worst" -- Lin Yutang

What comes to mind is that having acceptance for "the worst" then you cannot be knocked out of peace.

I think this challenges the common belief of what is peace. So, what is peace?

Is peace the absence of chaos? The absence of war or violence?

I've thought about this quite a bit, and for me the analogy for peace is a forest. A forest is more than the trees contained in the forsest.

One time I was sitting beside a road going through a redwood forest outside Santa Cruz. Sitting facing into the forest, my back was facing the road. And I noticed this stillness in the forest, yet at the same time there's a lot of activity in the forest. What happened is that after any event, such as a tree branch falling, or an animal rustling, that the forest would quickly envelope that event and peace would reign. But some events could not be swallowed by the forest, because the forest was not sufficient to envelope them.

For example, when cars drove by on the road that disturbed things in a way the forest could not encompass. Yet when the road had no cars, then the road became encompassed in the forest.

I think that peace is not the absence of chaos, but instead acceptance or encompassment of chaos. The forest is not at all without chaos, instead any forest is a living thing which is in constant change. Yet, the forest is the very example of peace, so what's going on? I suggest what's going on is that the forest has acceptance of whatever happens within itself. And, to a degree, no matter what happens in the forest, the forest can envelope that event.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Your poison is your medicine

I had an inspiration the other day which I want to share.

In Buddhism, and many other spiritual practices, they teach compassionate self awareness as the path to enlightenment. The Buddha had a long series of teachings about this, but what's interesting is their meditation practice. One sits and stays in awareness of whatever is going on inside themself. But, instead of trying to change what you see inside, instead of trying to fix it, you're guided to have compassionate acceptance of whatever you find inside yourself.

No matter how nasty or how wonderful what you find inside yourself, compassionate self acceptance is the Buddha's guidance.

My inspiration is, this is just like homeopathy.

In homeopathy the remedies are usually made by taking a poisonous substance and diluting it. You dilute it, and dilute it, and dilute it, and dilute it some more, until there is nothing of the original substance left over. The dilution process is very specific to homeopathy. What results is a remedy for the condition caused by the original substance.

Isn't that just like compassionate self awareness?

If you sit and observe yourself, you will find various pains, doubts, fears and more. You have a few choices, don't you? For example you can try to change those things, you can reject them, you can try to cut them out of you and toss them off a cliff, you can try to give them to someone else, you can ignore them hoping they'll go away, etc. Or you can accept them.

When you accept your pain in love, it is absorbed in love. As you accept your pain into love, it will, over time, be diluted. As you accept your pain into love, as a continual practice, the dilution process will be ongoing, and over time your pain becomes more and more diluted. Until ... your pain becomes dilute enough to become the remedy for whatever caused the pain.

That's an idea for you to ponder.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Healing Experiment with Unconditional Love

The following event happened to me on the last weekend of September, 2003, while attending a class given by Vianna Stibal. The following experiment was done rather informally, though with good care to have fairly clear results. I believe it could be repeated in a more rigourous setting if someone chose.

In the room along with the class was a woman with a microscope doing "Live Blood Cell Analysis". The microscope also had a video monitor and VHS tape recorder allowing a record to be made. She also had pictures explaining various common blood conditions. The process was simple, she pricked my finger with a clean needle, collected some blood on a slide, mixed in a clear liquid, and put it under the microscope. I've since been told that in a clinical setting, live blood cell analysis uses multiple samples taken from different parts of the body. In this case the woman took only one sample, from my finger.

In my case the blood cells were clumped together in a way exactly matching one of these pictures. She explained this would happen through not drinking enough water or taking enough enzymes. Indeed, while I usually drink lots of water every day, I have phases of not drinking enough water, and that weekend in particular was another of these phases. Upon seeing my blood, and learning that I haven't been taking any "supplements", she offered me a spot in a little experiment.

They also choose a woman to also undergo this experiment, and she had some other blood condition than mine.

The next step was to bring us before the room and sit the two of us in chairs. A healer was chosen for each of us. The audience was instructed to invoke "Unconditional Love" sending it up into a cloud in the top of the room. The healers were simply instructed to bring the unconditional love into my body and the womans body, especially into the blood.

After doing this we went to the back of the room for another round of blood cell analysis. By the way, I really felt fabulous with receiving the unconditional love. I have had similar experiences at other times in other classes, and knew through experience that relaxing and receiving is The Thing To Do in such situations. It's not often that you have a chance to feel unconditional love beamed by a large group of people, and it's best to soak such chances for all they're worth.

In my case my blood "afterward" looked astonishingly different. Instead of clumped up deflated looking blood cells, they were nice and plump, perfectly round, and all flowing easily and freely through the blood. Further, I felt significantly better, more awake, more alive feeling, happier. And, I felt truly astonished to see my blood clearly so very different than before.

The woman had a somewhat different result. In the blood sample taken immediately, her blood showed the same conditions as before. Her and the woman doing the analysis sat together a long time working with issues and beliefs around accepting healing, and then they took a third blood cell sample from her. That one showed her blood as well changed to nice, plump, perfectly round and freely flowing blood cells.

In the woman's case this says even more than mine. Just think, they had two blood samples taken from her just minutes apart. The only difference, other than the 5-10 minutes, was that this working on issues and beliefs of being worthy of accepting healing. That's all it took, the clearing of beliefs, to cause the healing to sink in, and it showed up in the blood.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Office ergonomics, monitor stands and keyboard trays

We shouldn't have to damage our health in order to use computer systems. Wait, let me try and rephrase that in a positive wording. Computer use should be a healthy experience. Computer designers might do well to remember the Hippocratic Oath which starts with "First, do no harm...". Unfortunately computer usage requires confining yourself to a fixed position, that's very bad for ones health. Besides remembering to get up and walk around a little every so often, there's a few things you can do to have your workspace more ergonomically correct.

At the moment I'm looking at "Monitor arms" and "keyboard trays".

Monitor Arms

LCD monitors are light enough you can easily mount them on a flexible arm, giving you the freedom to position the monitor "anywhere". At least that's what the makers say you can do. Certainly the old style CRT monitors had far too much weight to do anything like this.

Unfortunately the reality doesn't quite match up with the flexibility implied by the picture. To explain I want to run down a few of them, but first I should explain my experience with one of them.

I bought an Ergotron Neo-Flex LCD arm. I didn't bother reading the fine print, unfortunately. I have a 20 inch Dell LCD monitor that's really nice. I installed the monitor arm, attached it to the Dell LCD monitor, and all that went together very easily. The VESA standard LCD mounting specification sure makes it easy. Unfortunately, the monitor drooped. No matter the amount of tweaking I did, tightening of screws, etc, the monitor drooped a bit. Then I read the fine print and saw, right on the box, it was rated to hold monitors up to 18 lbs weight. Finding the fine print for the Dell monitor, it weighs 18.76 lbs.

Kensington 60106 Desk-Mount Arm for Flat Panel Monitor It has nice strong arms, etc. But it holds monitors up to 20 lbs weight.

GMP STANDARD LCD ARM No picture so I can't judge it from that. The description says it's got a fully articulated arm, but its rating is for monitors up to 14 lbs weight.

Ergotron LX Desk Mount Arm - mounting kit This is a variant on the Neo-Flex I bought. The arm is very flexible and nice. I suppose if your monitor is light enough then it won't droop.

DualSwing Arm Desk Mount Judging from the picture it's clearly going to have a lot of freedom in positioning the monitor "wherever".

The attraction I have to these is not just the flexibility and freedom, but the possibility of decluttering the desktop. By holding the monitor above the desk, the space which would have held the monitor stand can be used for other things. But, knowing my habits, it would just collect random sheets of paper and other stuff. Maybe it's just as well.

On the other hand this really interesting 19 inch monitor, ViewSonic VA1912WB 19" Widescreen LCD Monitor, only weighs 9 lbs. Hmmm....

Keyboard Trays

One of the rules of ergonomics is to keep the keyboard fairly low, only slightly above your legs. This probably has to do with the natural resting position of your arms.

Yet another rule of ergonomics is to keep your screen at eye level. Seeing as there's quite a difference between the low level recommended for the keyboard, and the high level recommended for the screen, one wonders how to bring harmony.

One way would be to keep the desktop itself fairly low. But I find that not to be the best, as my knees tend to bump into the desk. Plus theres this dream I have of less clutter on the desktop allowing for more room for other items.

With that in mind I found at Office Depot a keyboard drawer that fits under the desk. It's relatively nice and does the job relatively well. But, it's made from injection plastic and isn't the sturdiest thing. As I use it the thing shimmys around and I'm sure it's going to break some day, and I'm really displeased with the whole experience.

Studying it carefully, what appears to be the problem is leverage. The part holding the keyboard is sturdy enough. Where it really shimmies around is the tray on which the mouse sits. That tray is waaaay over on the side, so when I rest my hand on it there's a lot of leverage to pull the tray around.

This gives an attribute that's desired in searching for a replacement. Namely, tray should be supported on both ends rather than just in the middle.

MASTER PRODUCTS DRAWER Looks to be the ticket. The size is wide enough for my preferred keyboard and has ample room to the side for mousing. Plus it's steel construction should be sturdy. Unfortunately the dinky picture amazon shows isn't clear enough to give me confidence in this thing.

WAVETECH Underdesk Keyboard Drawer with Wrist Rest Also looks good. Again the drawer is wide enough for a large keyboard plus mousing. Unfortunately the construction isn't described, and again it suffers from a dinky image.

Kensington Fully Articulating & Adjustable Underdesk Keyboard Drawer Certainly is very flexible. Unfortunately at 26 inches wide the drawer isn't going to offer enough room for convenient mousing alongside a keyboard.

Under Desk Keyboard Drawer - Pewter Metal Art Looks to be very nice, and is made from metal which ought to be sturdy. However the drawer doesn't even attempt to provide a space to mouse. What rock has the designer of this been hiding under? Mousing is a very important part of computing, and has been so for 20 years or more.

Select System Wing Platform, Keyboard & Mouse Platform, Memory Foam Wristrest Looks promising. At least it's wide enough for convenient mousing.

Premium Under Desk Kybrd Drawer Looks promising, especially as it has support at both ends of the drawer which should help the stability. Unfortunately at 25 inches wide it's too narrow for convenient mousing.

Other resources

The Human Solution offers a wide range of ergonomical products. Unfortunately their choices in the two product categories discussed on this page are pretty slim.

Ergo Works offers a wide range of ergonomical products. They have done a pretty good job in selecting good products. They have some monitor arms with relatively heavy duty weight capacity. Their choice in keyboard trays are pretty good. And more, such as nice chairs and desks whose height adjusts.

Hergo Offers a wide range of interesting monitor arms.

Flexrest Specializes in keyboard trays.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

God will give you everything that you want

Todays fortune cookie reads: "God will give you everything that you want"

Hmmm, I thought. Interesting coincidence with the prayer I've had for today. Here's a few thoughts that are wandering through me.

First, the phrase is very enticing. Lots of people over the millenia have prayed for X or Y or Z ... for example to be rich, to have women, etc. But I think the average person doesn't trust prayer, because they think prayers are never answered. So a promise like "God will give you everything that you want" seems hollow.

My prayer for today is inspired by teachings from Ron Roth, whom I've been listening to a lot recently. He suggests a form of prayer like "Divine Holy Spirit is my strength, Divine Holy Spirit is my health, Divine Holy Spirit is my life, Divine Holy Spirit sustains me...". It's a very positive statement said as if it were the truth.

The sense of it is very much in alignment with "God will give you everything that you want" ...

A couple things come to mind here.

First, is ... What is God? The typical Christian church claims God is a being sitting up in the clouds somewhere. As an individuated being, God is localized to a specific place (Heaven) that's far away from you or I. However I am understanding a different interpretation of what God is, and there are many spiritual teachings in alignment with this other view. Namely, that God or the Divine Presence is an aspect of everything. God is melded with every thing, every particle, every atom, all the way to every star and galaxy.

In our mind/ego we want to believe we are everything. We want to believe we can solve any problem that comes our way, that we can endure anything, etc. The stereotype for this are the movie characters like Max (of the Mad Max movie series) who is going through and surviving hell in the wilderness purely on willpower.

But what I experience over and over is the limit to what my mind/ego is capable of. It seems that it doesn't matter how brilliant or strong one is, there will always be challenges one will face which surpass your capabilities. What do you do then? Do you pretend to be capable? Do you hide? Do you escape the problem? Do you seek out help? Do you cry woe is me? Do you get strong and bulldoze your way forward? Do you pretend the challenge doesn't exist? All of the above?

What I am experiencing in these episodes leads me to an understanding of "God will give you everything that you want" ...

With God being melded with everything, being present in every action, then it doesn't matter what challenge you are facing. Even a challenge which surpasses the ability of your mind/ego to cope with the challenge, God is there. What I experience is if I first recognize that my mind/ego doesn't know how to cope with a specific challenge, and second I pray for the divine presence to offer a solution, that in short order a solution comes along.

On the other hand if I don't recognize the problem, or otherwise fail to pray for divine assistance, then I can struggle with the problem for days, weeks, even years.

The second thought that comes to mind is ... With God being melded with everything, then everything that you receive is in fact a gift from God. Every breath you take is God offering you air to breath with. Every step you take is upon earth provided by God for you to walk upon. Every bite of food you take was grown by God. That all is part of a viewpoint that God is melded with every action in the universe and every thing in the universe.

The last thought has to do with the "what you want" aspect. When you claim to want something, is that true? It's well understood that the conscious mind is only a small part of ones ego. That the subconscious mind is this vast sea of conflicting beliefs, emotions, ideas, memories, hopes, dreams, etc. It's very easy and common for someone to say "I want to be rich" (for example) and inside their subconscious being totally fearful of the responsibility (for example) that comes from being rich.

Whole libraries of self-help books have been written to show people how their subconscious often conflicts with their conscious self.

Any prayer you make, any desire you hold, is melded with your conflicting inner terrain. It seems to me that's what interferes with the success of prayer. The prayer is said with all of who you are, even the part that is in abject terror of the prayer actually coming true. The question is, which part of you is the stronger? The part that holds the conscious desire, or the subconscious part in abject terror of that desire coming true?

The thing is you won't know the answer to this until you begin practicing self awareness. To the Buddhists, self awareness is the desired end state from meditation. That by nonjudgementally witnessing your inner ego process one will have more and more awareness of the conflicts within you and begin to resolve them.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Quantum computer works best switched off

I wish I understood quantum theory a bit better so I could better understand this article: Quantum computer works best switched off. I want to read this as supporting spiritual or psychic awareness, but I don't know enough to quite follow the dots.

The article discusses what they call: "Even for the crazy world of quantum mechanics, this one is twisted. A quantum computer program has produced an answer without actually running."

Okay, so my first problem is I don't quite understand what a quantum computer is. The article discusses sending photons through some mirrors, and somehow that causes some database queries. My reading is obviously a little behind.

Where I connect this with psychic awareness is a little circuitous, so hang on.

It's fairly well understood among the spiritually aware that you can talk with reality. Spiritual traditions for millenia have talked about life in everything, and the universal consciousness of which we all are a part.

How does that fit with quantum physics? Simply because it's apparent to me that whatever it is the spiritually aware are doing, it is operating within the universe and hence could be understood by physicists if they'd only quit giggling. For example it's been shown that remote healing has an effect, and healing practices in general have a physical effect.

I'm a participant in an ongoing study being conducted by a researcher at the Univ of Arizona into energy healers and energy healing. The study contains a whole battery of tests conducted over a week-long period. One of the tests shows a clear connection between performing energy healing on a plant leaf (without even touching the leaf), and a physical response by that plant leaf.

Specialists in working with crystals claim they talk with the crystals. Shamans claim they take journies through the universe. Psychics say they can see long distances, see the future, see the past, etc. There's a branch of psychic awareness which picks up historical information about objects or places, supposedly from some left over resonance still present in the object.

What I'm getting at is an idea I've seen in some quantum physics books. That the material world is a computation device that provides us a sensory experience. What if our consciousness were able to directly interact with the computation that goes to creating the material world?

Just some rambling thoughts, I'm afraid, without real conclusion ...

Sunday, February 19, 2006 - McDonald's sued over fries ingredients - Feb 19, 2006

Seems that McDonalds just doesn't get any respect. People complain about them, how their food is causing an epidemic of fatty Americans, the amount of waste products that come from McDonalds, etc. And, now, it's the ingredients of their french fries.

Well, if McDonalds were a responsible corporation they might not be so badly beat up over what they do.

Now, about the french fries. They've quietly begun adding both wheat and milk products to the fries. And now they're getting sued.

Wheat is a problem for someone who has Celiac disease. Celiac disease is an intolerance to gluten, gluten being a protein contained in wheat and some other grains. Celiac disease can be life threatening.

Milk products are a problem for vegans (vegitarians who also avoid dairy products) and for people with lactose intolerance.

McDonalds admits it adds wheat and milk products to its french fries. And has a notice about this on their web site.

Where? On their web site??? So, let's see, you're in a McDonalds somewhere looking at the menu. Hmm, french fries aren't supposed to contain wheat, nor are they likely to contain animal products ... so you can easily see how celiacs or vegans would buy french fries only to be surprised later. And where is their warning? On a web site? yeesh

There's a principle being violated here. That is the "principle of least surprise". Least surprise means that when you're looking at some object, that it should do/be pretty much what it looks like it does.

An example might be a plastic lapel flower, that looks real. Your friend might lean over to sniff the flower, and then be surprised when you squeeze the hidden water bulb that squirts them in the face.

While the principle of least surprise can be a great joke, it can also be life threatening. For example what if someone were to rig their stove so it turns on the gas when you flip a light switch on the wall. Someone else could innocently look at the light switch, want some light, flip the switch, and curse when the light doesn't come on and start hunting for a new light bulb. In the meantime the kitchen is filling with gas, which could lead to a deadly explosion.

The same kind of surprise is here with these french fries. And it's not just french fries, but all sorts of food items have surprising ingredients. I have a mild gluten intolerance and in my hunt for gluten free foods I longingly look at the corn bread mixes in the store. But often as not, the ingredients list for corn bread has wheat as the first ingredient. Corn bread containing wheat???

At least in this case the principle of least surprise is easily alleviated because of the ingredients list on the box. In the case of the McDonalds french fries the ingredients list is inconveniently on a web site, far away from the person in line getting ready to make their order.

Source: McDonald's sued over fries ingredients

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

FREE, inspirational messages from Franklin Covey

Sign up for Motivational quotes from FranklinCovey!  Franklin Covey sells a series of planner and organizing products, and a nice thing about their planners are the motivational messages on each page.

Such as?

Change is the process by which the future invades our lives. -- Alvin Toffler

Be aware of undertaking too much at the start.  Be content with quite a little.  Allow for accidents.  Allow for human nature, especially your own.  -- Arnold Bennett

It's real nice to have these messages in my planner/calendar.  They always give me a moment of pondering and reflection that's worthwhile.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Manifesting as a way of self healing

In spiritual teachings there is the concept of Manifestations. Often this is taught as a method of wish fulfillment. For example one teacher I had years ago had a story, she was in the middle of teaching a manifestation class, they went on their lunch break, passed by a car dealership with a contest being held inside, she wanted a car, went inside, registered for the contest, and ended up winning the car. Manifestation, eh?

While that's a pretty cool story, I want to talk about an experience I just had using manifestation. But before I tell the story, consider these two pictures of a beautiful silk Sari.

I bought this Sari in Bangalore India for my fiancee. I thought, she's going to be my wife, I want something pretty for her, she likes India, she already owns a Sari herself but she's unhappy with that Sari because the color isn't "her".

Two days after I return home from the trip she announces we are splitting up.

What a journey of learning and healing it has been dealing with this. That will be a story to tell for another time, today it's about the Sari and what I just experienced.

The Sari had become a heavy weight for me. I couldn't give it to her, because she was not the person for whom I bought the Sari. If you're confused by that statement, let me say that I bought the Sari for my future wife. She was not going to be my wife, because she had already decided we were splitting up. Hence, she was not the person for whom I bought the Sari.

Every time I thought about this Sari, I could only think of the relationship which was lost. Hence, it has become a heavy weight for me.

I decided it would be best to sell the thing via craigslist.

A couple days ago I listened to a Gregg Braden tape: Lost Mode of Prayer. He talks about a mode of prayer that's also similar to the one taught by Ron Roth. The idea is to make your prayer one of joy, and one where you visualize the desired result happening in joy and peace. I'd also had a similar conversation recently with one of my teachers.

Gregg Braden also talked about a necessary stage of prayer being to have piece in your body, peace in your emotions, peace in your thoughts, and to make the prayer from that sort of peace.

Here's what happened shortly after I put the advertisement on craigslist. I have no idea if what I've done will manifest for me a buyer, what's important is the shift which has occurred for me.

I had the thought "maybe you can manifest a buyer" and I remembered the outline of manifestation I heard Gregg Braden talk about. I started saying, as a kind of chant, "Someone will buy this Sari, who will enjoy it, and for whom it will be a thing of beauty". Over and over, the same phrase. But what did I feel? Was I in peace?

Remember the context I described. This Sari had become a heavy weight for me. And that's what I felt, initially, as I made this chanting prayer. It was hard to say the chant because I so much wanted to cry, but I kept going.

Eventually the ideas and the feeling began to shift. A picture started to form, someone who would be happy with the Sari. My voice had been weak with the struggle, but it became firmer and stronger. And, now, I am happy. I know that someone will buy this Sari, and that they will enjoy it, it will be a thing of beauty for them, that it will bring joy to their life, and I am happy because the Sari will go to such a person.

Maybe the people who teach manifestation as a means of wish fulfillment are missing the bigger picture?

What I'm describing here is about healing. It feels very much like I've taken the heavy weight concerning the Sari, and transformed it to joy. And, maybe, it has shifted a little of the weight I'm feeling about the relationship's end.

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