not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Full power.

Did a yoga class with Olga and John, then drank a Green Power Juice (spinach, mint, cucumber, lime, ginger) at this epic little juice shop we found. Yeeew. Full Power!

Shiva Guesthouse.

I moved up the hill today. Love my room, love the space, love the quiet alley. 200rs a night cheaper, free wifi, free sunshine. Boom.

The Sun Rises, The Sun Sets...

Sunset.
Early morning "shower" in the Ganges.
Sunset meditation with Olga and puppy.
Lovely ladies, sunning in their saris.
Early morning shower and laundry in the Ganges.

And so my days in Rishikesh continue...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I was just thinking about how I am happy, but crying. And then I walked outside and saw that it was bright and sunny, but pouring rain (not sure if you can see the rain in this picture, but it's pouring rain).

Princess

Princess

Mom went to a Medium last night, and I called her from bed early this morning to find out how it went. For all of you on the "email list", I'm sure that you'll be getting a full blown description this week, so I'll save that for her.

It comes in waves for me...as I'm sure you all now know. Days of complete and utter contentment, and days when I really just miss my Dad. Forgive me if this seems a bit repetitive, but the blog has become my journal, so repeating myself again and again might not be best for the readers, but it's my Truth. What this Medium told my mom was amazing; my Dad said that he liked what she was doing around the house and to paint the walls. He said that the reason she slept so hard (the best sleep she'd had in 3 years) the night he passed was because he never could have gone otherwise. When he arrived, he was greeted by all of our dogs...raven, Kizzy, Chelsea and chino. He's in the forest now, which was the place he always said he was happiest. There were many other things, but this is my blog so I'll write about me now... My mom told him that I was struggling and she wanted the Medium to tell her about me. The medium looked up and told her that Dad responded with "My Princess!" (Which is what he has always called me). He said that when he was alive he was always a bit worried about me when I went on my trips, but now that he's seeing me that he's not worried at all. And he's so proud. There's so much more but I can't see my keypad through the tears, so I'll settle up here. I'd have been satisfied with "My Princess", because that right there let me know that he's here....

I started the travel bit of the blog for him years ago, and I was so upset that he wouldn't be able to read about my adventures once he passed- but I guess that he's right here, living them with me.


Cailin Callahan
www.cailincallahan.blogspot.com

Monday, February 25, 2013

"THATS MY BEST FRIEND!"

My bestest friend in the whole wide world just got married. I don't really have many regrets in this life, but I realized as I was looking through the photos that I really regret missing this. I love you bigger than the universe Julisa, blessings for a long and happy life with Your Man....

And I gotta say, how beautiful is she?!? "THATS MY BEST FRIEND!!"

Rocks? Yep. Rocks.

When I was a little kid I loved "rocks". One year for Christmas my Aunt Nelly had asked my mom what I was asking Santa for. My mom told her that I wanted rocks. "ROCKS?," my Aunt replied, "Really? Like actual rocks". Yes, rocks. I had heaps of them as a kid. I didn't really do much with them, I just thought that they were beautiful and unique. Sometimes I would pick some up when I was out in nature, and my Dad was one to always bring a special stone back from wherever he'd been. Well, as they say, most things come full circle. So here I am, 20 years later, collecting "rocks".  The book that I've been using, "Healing with Gemstones" by Pamela Louise Chase and Jonathan Pawlik has been super insightful on this path, and I want to share some of the inspiration I've taken from it...

"You need to begin to perceive all life as different frequencies and forms of energy. This energy can be experienced at the physical, emotional, mental an spiritual levels. Become more attuned to the spiritual levels of reality, where LIFE-FORCE ENERGY creates and balances our natural physical world.

*Everything in Nature consists of life-force energy vibrating at different levels.* On the physical level, life-force energy ultimately becomes matter. On the spiritual level, life-force energy is Consciousness expressed as qualities such as courage, joy, and compassion. Life-force energy is known to have healing qualities, and it is these spiritual healing qualities that we seek in the stones. Your thoughts have varying amounts of life-force energy, depending on how positive they are. When you combine the life-force energy in conscious positive thoughts or affirmations with the life-force energy of the stones, the healing potential is greater than the energy of either the thoughts or stones separately."

After reading through the gems and their specific energies, I selected a few that I could use at this time. 

*Celestite: "My mind is relaxed and open to connect with my Higher Guidance."

I got this one for Meditation. It is said to...clear "left brain chatter" so you can connect with your Higher Guidance. Calming, it helps to empty your mind for rest or meditation. Erases doubts. Discerns whether your guidance is coming from Desire or your Higher wisdom. 

*Amethyst: "I release all need for Self-Identity."

This stone prepares you for spiritual work. Helpful when used with other stones. Can help you remember that you are more than the actress in your life- You are indeed the Light. 

Aquamarine and Gem Silica I want to get for when I teach and do healing work....
*Aquamarine: "I am reassured and uplifted by the knowledge that my work is my Love made visible."
*Gem Silica: "I affirm my spiritual purpose in the world. I express my Light with Joy and Trust."

*Clear Flourite: "I release my personal will in order to purify my awareness."

I got this one to use with my tarot and oracle cards. They say that...You can hold fluorite before you work with the pendulum, tarot or other tools with which you are seeking guidance. Fluorite can help you release your own opinions in the matter. 

*Clear Topaz: "I joyfully expand the horizon of my spiritual understanding."

This one I think would be particularly helpful with everything I'm doing right now. They say...Utilize clear topaz whenever you are reading or studying in order to assimilate new spiritual wisdom. Topaz keeps you from being discouraged when you do not understand something. It helps to broaden your expansion of spiritual truth. 

*Rock Crystal (clear quartz): I bought three rock crystals yesterday. I got a raw cluster of them for Rochelle because it is said that if you put them at the head of your bed that they will absorb any nightmares (similar to a dream catcher). I got a pendulum, which is what I used to pick all of the gems that I got. And I got a crystal healing pencil for my own personal healing use. 

Rock crystal is receptive to all vibrations and can help you to let go of blocks which otherwise prevent us from being receptive. It has amplifying properties which make it a great stone to use in combination with others. 

*Rose Quartz: I got this one because it is recommended for healing work. It corresponds to the loving quality of the heart chakra, and all deep healing is achieved through the energy of this center. It is used for deep release of blockages and for healing physical and emotional problems. 

An unplanned addition was an opal. Pat couldn't believe that I was traveling without a "protective" stone, and he recommended that I carry one with me all the time. Sure enough there was an opal that *chose me*, so I added that to the pile. My total was 1,000rs, which is $18.90. Not bad for a beginning gem healer set. 

When I got home I was sure to "clean" my gems of all of the energy they contained. There are many ways that you can clean your crystals (burying in sea salt, soaking in sea salt, holding in safe smoke, breathing on it, putting gemstones out in rain, holding under running water, burying underground). I am soaking them in salt water, and to "charge" them I left them out overnight under the full moon. This morning, I asked my pendulum if they were clean and it gave mea definite "NO". And so, they sit and soak...


Now, could I do all of this on my own without the gems? Absolutely. No doubt about it. Will I be empowered by the life force energy of these gems? Absolutely. So, I'm giving it a go. I'm exploring all sorts of avenues to find out what resonates with me and what doesn't. You'll never know if you don't try. I have felt the powerful life force energy of the Ganges, and I have felt the healing effects of the ocean my whole life...so I believe that everything in Nature has a certain energy. As esoteric as it is, as crazy as it might seem- I truly believe that these different gems are beings all their own. Mother Nature is the closest thing that I can associate with God, so why wouldn't the rocks be included in that...







Monday Funday

So Rishikesh is a holy town, where everything is vegetarian and there isn't any alcohol. I don't mind this, I actually embrace it, but I miss eggs!! I'd been having this conversation with Deepak at Ganesha one day and he said "No problem ("Koi Baat Nahi"), I get you eggs." And so, we decided on Brunch at Ganesha on Monday for some Egg Curry! God Bless Deepak...he had to cook the egg curry underneath of the counter on a secret burner (if the Babas found out he'd be in trouble). I told him that it was no big deal, that I didn't need to have eggs, but he insisted- and I could tell that I wouldn't be able to sway him. John, Gary, Pat and I enjoyed our leisure brunch, and John + I took turns on my guitar. John is a brilliant professional musician from Australia, with a powerful and soothing voice and a badass bluegrass style of finger picking. Even Prakesh played us a song. As far as the meal went...it was delicious! I enjoyed the egg curry with banana chapati, and the sweet and spicy combination was all time! We spent a few hours passing time, reading palms, playing music, sipping chai, talking about spirituality and nutrition, and sipping more chai. As the afternoon progressed, we said our goodbyes and then I started off for Laxman Jhula (the other side of town) for some gems. Pat asked if I'd like some company, and he offered up that he knew a bit about gems (I later come to find out that he knows a shit-ton about gems, as well as a shit-ton about a shit-ton of other stuff!!!). He was INCREDIBLY helpful in picking out my healing stones and I learned a fair bit from him as well about how to use them. I ended my day sitting by the Ganges, chanting the Gayatri to the setting sun and doing a long meditation. I ended my evening with some kitchurri and conversation at Ganesha with Gary and Pat. It was an emotional night for me, several things having built up since the sun had risen that morning. So much stimulation, so much information, so much and so much of so much and, yeah, it was a bit too much. Slept it off and drank a dozen cups of tea this morning as I digested it through journaling. All good, onward and upward, and now to enjoy this beautiful, sunny day in Rishikesh....



Putzing, Soaking, Reading

On Sunday I putzed, bought more books, picked up some holy cow dung incense, soaked up the sun and read my new books on the roof of Ganesha, and took in the sunset with my friend John. It was a good day. Namaste. 









Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rainy Days and Palm Readings.

My brain hurt after a long morning with Mooji and a marathon evening with my reiki teacher. So I took the morning off to digest all that I've been taking in. It was pouring rain so after my morning flow and lots of tea I set up camp in the bookshop and bought MORE BOOKS. I now have a full blown library, and will need to leave all of my clothes to make room in my backpack! I also bought an Indian Tarot set. I was totally sold when the one I picked was "the Sun"...(this'll be another blog of its own. Been struggling with the concept of God and the closest I can identify is the sun, so I've become a bit obsessed with learning about the Surya lately). I braved the torrential downpour to have a meal at Ganesha, and both John and Gary were there. John had the best rain-getup, and gentleman umbrella...and Gary was doing palm readings. He has been studying it here, and let me tell you it's pretty fresking amazing! So books, food, rain and palm readings filled my day, and then reiki filled my night. Another blessed day in Rishikesh.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mooji Says : Drops of Nectar : Day 2

Mooji Says : Drops of Nectar : Day 2

- Feeling a deep peace, that anything can come, because in the state of awareness, YOU are the greater force.
- If you DO purchase a thought, don't try to overcome it or manipulate it, fully feel the emotion/thought. FEEL but not identify.
- ONLY AN IDENTITY CAN SUFFER A PROBLEM
- So locate and identify the tangible sufferer when you have these feelings. And you will realize that there is no sufferer, they cannot be found, only the *sense of suffering can be found. All of this is illusion. Simply stay present and open, don't force anything, and (in time) you will come back to center.
- Identity = ego. Attachments. What we say we are. Effort.
- Emotions and thoughts have no power, only the power that you give them, because you are distracted by the 'outside'. Find out who you are, until the (dis)illusion is exposed and you can release your attachment to it and it loses power. "You will come to see." Things are only as powerful as the importance that you give to them.
- Mind = Mine Field
- MAKE THE SHIFT FROM "PERSON" to "PRESENCE".
When you do this, there is more space in your being. Then there is no resident, no space for these feelings, emotions, your "personal story". The stories keep coming back because you offer them a stage to play. No ones story is that interesting! The sages view is that no one is special, or interesting. The sage only sees the "self"...and at our essence, we are all the same.
- Imagine the characters in a novel, secretly gathering amongst themselves, to talk about what the next chapter is going to say. How ridiculous! And that is what the mind does. We have an idea of "who we are" and "how things are going to go". We are trying to write the chapters of our novel. Don't write the story, just relax into awareness.
- Being, Conditioning, Identity << get rid of these
- Observance happens casually, don't force it.
Example "I am awareness", "I am observing":
Someone is eating dinner. And as they're eating you're saying "eat your dinner eat your dinner eat your dinner". And they look to you with a confused expression and say "I AM eating." You ARE awareness, you don't need to force this "I am awareness I am awareness I am awareness" mantra. You ARE awareness.
- Attention : wherever it goes, we are registering it as an experience.
Attention : turned inwards: Monks business
Attention : turned out : Monkeys business
- If you are in self-focus, everything slows down
- ANY JUDGEMENTS THAT YOU EXPERIENCE ARE BECAUSE YOU WANT TO SATISFY SOMEONE ELSE'S PROJECTION.
Be happy in yourself and in your dharma, don't compromise your hearts truth. HOLD TO YOUR TRUTH. Hold to your truth. Trust in your path and in yourself (authenticity), and remain open to meaningful exchange with people who aren't like you or don't agree with you - just be yourself. Be organic. Be the light. Be content. Be content in your beautiful place.
- The ultimate goal is emptiness. An empty being. Empty of identity, empty Of projection, empty of past and future.
- The ways of the mind are ancient, but you are timeless. Th mind requires you to exist, don't give it power.
- If you do what is true in your own heart, it will not turn out wrong for someone else.
- The Natural Joy Of Being : we are outwardly searching for something that resides within. In the presence of our own being is *joy*.
- PAIN IS A PART OF LIFE - SUFFERING IS MORE ABOUT *ATTITUDE* than *ACTUALITY*.
- You have to transcend your own psychological thinking. Within there is only pure...we have no enemies.
- We could write a big book called "AND THEN....". Don't write that. Be in the Now.
- People who are busy projecting opinions and interpretations are not able to "see" because they are too busy trying to write the story.
- We live in a "ghostly" life. We live in a "life" that doesn't exist. A story of "I am this..." and "I am that..." We make up theories and ideas, likes and dislikes, scenarios, emotions, etc. Come back to center, create spaciousness and let go of your story.
- It's not your words, it's your energy.


Sent from my iPad

Magic Mooji Mornings and Dosas!

Today I had an amazing self practice (which needs its own blog, which will follow) and then I had some chai in my room. It was cold and raining so I opted out of the long walk and instead decided to take a tuktuk. To save myself a few rups I looked around inear the tukky stand for some Mooji-looking folk who might be headed that way. I popped my head in a chai stand and asked if anyone was headed that way, and sure enough, Jesse and Dom from England were going. We shared a tukky and some good conversation before surrendering to the silence at the ashram. Mooji was amazing, as always. Two things he said that really hit me hard were:

"I'm here to meet the Buddha-
And in this meeting there is only one. 
I know you are here. 
You cannot hide from me,
You can only hide from you"

^^^this is meditation. This is the Self. 

And he also proclaimed that he doesn't have a sadhana (personal practice). He said that his sadhana is YES YES, and that we should embrace this as well. He said...

YES YES. 
You cannot hide behind Yes. 
Yes to the fullness of your own truth. 
Yes to your own self. 

After the satsang, I joined up with my friend Gary and we walked into the town of rishikesh (we are in Ram Jhula, on the outskirts of town, where all the yoga happenings are). In town we grabbed an awesome local meal of Masala Dosas with badgee. So so so yummy. It was nice to get out of the Ram Jhulas spiritual bubble and be "amongst the people" haha. Gary treated me to a ferry ride across the Ganga, which took a total of 45 seconds...40 of which were spent putting on our life vests and then taking them off. The shitshow of it all was well worth the ten rupees. Gary and I shared a few chai's along the Ganges as he examined my hands (he's studying palmistry here....pretty impressive stuff). I putzed around the bookstore, wanting to buy more to add to my library but instead practiced Asteya and stopped coveting all the wonderful reads, went home, and enjoyed the books that I have. I got my (hippie) armpits waxed and then enjoyed some masala tea and some Hindi chat with my esethician before heading to my Reiki 1 training. This was another event in my day that needs, deserves, it's own blog, so that'll follow at a later time as well. All in all a kick ass day, in a kick ass place, feeling blessed and excited and exhausted. Good night and namaste. Hari Om. 







Thursday, February 21, 2013

Waiting room and walk home along the Ganges....

Om Saraswati

Om Saraswati

A new addition to my meditation altar is a wall hanging on Saraswati. There are so many Hindu deities, Gods and Goddesses. And many of them are variations or reincarnations of another, so it's a very complex and confusing system. I picked up a great book in town the other day which has been extremely helpful in deciphering the madness, and I've also gotten some great info from Danny Arguetty's book " Nourishing the Teacher", which I'm reading as homework for my 500hr training (which starts in a month!). Saraswati is a goddess that I'd glossed over several times, because its much easier to connect with the ones you see all the time around town....Ganesha, Shiva, Lakshmi...the ones that tourists are familiar with and have on tshirts, bags and notebooks. Anywho, Saraswati is now part of my morning ritual and meditation altar because her symbolism really resonates with what I'm going through at the moment. Ill share a bit about her....

(from "Nourishing the Teacher"):

"Saraswati was first identified as the river goddess, who descended to earth to offer fertility, bounty and riches. Over time she also came to be known as the celestial guardian of knowledge, sacred speech, and creative arts. Saraswati embodies the process of acquiring proficiency and refining skill while staying open to the fluidity of the moment. Revered musicians and artists are deeply steeped in the sara ("essence" or "marrow") of their practice, yet they have the capacity to improvise with their own individual creativity and heart. When people embark on the path of learning a musical instrument, writing literature or sculpting clay,they must first learn the fundamentals before progressing into a more free flowing realm of their chosen practice. The dynamic balance represented by this sacred goddess is not only limited to the arts, as anyone successful has to achieve a certain level of competence before they can experiment with expanding the boundaries of their profession. Saraswati encourages us to embrace the seeming contradiction that both Essence and Flow can exist in the same breath. The cultivation of 'sara' provides us with a deep sense of stability.

If we get stuck in the theory or structure of a practice and never release into the flow of the waters, we miss out on the opportunity for fuller, richer understanding. Alternatively, if we only play freely and never take the time to slow down, acquire deeper knowledge, and integrate our learning , then we miss out on another vital aspect of experience. 

Illustrated, Saraswati is depicted seated on a lotus and playing the vina with...
- a white swan: conveys the paradox of essence and flow. Swans migrate along a relatively similar route each year as they follow familiar paths. The knowledge of migration is passed from generation to generation, party learned, partly genetic. The changing of light creates an internal shift that prepares the swans' bodies for the long journey ahead. The migration process supports the birds in maximizing the daylight hours of the summer months, while ensuring a reliable source of sustenance in southern latitudes during the colder ones. (Side note: I identify with this because I make my money in the summer to sustain my travels in the winter!). Although the swan exemplifies deep-rooted knowledge and consistency of action, it also demonstrates an ability to respond to the flow of the journey. Often, these remarkable birds will stop at the same exact ponds each year, but on some trips they will break at a different body of water due to weather conditions, predators, or human influence. As their voyage unfolds, there is always a backup plan poised as their instinct guides them through the sky. Thus, the completion of their annual expedition requires innate knowledge coupled with creative flexibility.

- the Vedas: representative of the importance of foundational knowledge as we endeavor towards creative expression

- the Vina : her love for rhythm and the dedication required to be fluent in a skill

- the peacock : represents seeing with multiple eyes and taking a broader view

- white sari : represents wisdom, a clean slate for learning and abundant knowledge. "

To me, Saraswati symbolizes new beginnings....moving into it with a firm foundation of knowledge (the Vedas) but being fluid with wherever the river takes you on the journey. 

The following popular 'pranam mantra' or Sanskrit prayer, Saraswati devotees utter with utmost devotion eulogizes the goddess of knowledge and arts:
Om Saraswati Mahabhagey, Vidye Kamala Lochaney 
Viswarupey Vishalakshmi, Vidyam Dehi Namohastutey 
Jaya Jaya Devi, Charachara Sharey, Kuchayuga Shobhita, Mukta Haarey 
Vina Ranjita, Pustaka Hastey, Bhagavati Bharati Devi Namohastutey 

The beautiful human form of Saraswati comes to the fore in this English translation of the Saraswati hymn:
"May Goddess Saraswati, 
who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon, 
and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops; 
who is adorned in radiant white attire, 
on whose beautiful arm rests the veena, 
and whose throne is a white lotus; 
who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me. 
May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance."




Sent from my iPad

Asteya

Asteya

Today is day one of Asteya, our week three Yama embodiment (notice how I said "our" and night "my"....). 

Asteya, the third Yama (Yama: regulation, mastery, control, "codes of conduct", general laws for living. Lessons in the laws of the universe), which means "NON-THEFT". 

"Asteyapratisthayam Sarvaratnopasthanam" II.37
(When abstention from stealing is firmly established, precious jewels come.)

So obviously Asteya means exactly what it states, non-theft....but that includes a lot more than just not stealing a pack of gum from the supermarket. It's abstaining of from jealousy, envy. It's getting rid of the thought that you are "owed" something. This is what you got, enjoy it. Be content with what is, instead of trying to grasp more. 

"The man who is truly rich, is the man who is poor of desire." -GhandiJee

So a few ways to practice Asteya this week are...

1. Not stealing (duh)
2. Practicing santosa (contentment)...not being envious or jealous of what another has
3. Taking a serious look at "want". What is it that you want? Do you really want it (a great time to practice last weeks Yama, Satya - truth). Often times we think that we want something but we don't really need it. 
4. Practice being humble....doing something without asking for anything in return. 



Sent from my iPad

Mooji Says...

Mooji Says

So, I'm starting to find a rhythm. Not that I didn't have one before....I guess I should say that I'm adding to my rhythm!  I've been completely content this past week to drink chai, read, write, and do my self practice. That was about it. I was taking Iyengar classes at night as well with the famed (and frightening) Usha Devi, but this week she is teaching a private intensive so classes don't start up again til next week. I'm still on a completely solo mission, but I know a fair amount of people in town now so it's nice to have a bit of familiarity amongst this enchanting town. And so my day goes....

4:30am : wake up, morning Kriyas: neti, vamana dhauti, tongue scraping, scrubbing gums with salt and rinsing the eyes

By 4:45/5am I begin my personal sadhana (practice). It begins with 11minute trataka (staring at candle flame), then a 20 minute seated meditation before getting into about 2 hours worth of asana (physical postures), which includes pranayama. I end with nadi Shodhana and a 25 minute seated mediation. 

By 8am I'm making myself a soy chai. You can only buy homogenized and pasteurized milk in the stores here, though Deepak did (over t my hangout, Ganesha Restaurant) offer to get me some of the raw, local milk that they use...I figured it'd be too much of a hassle. Anywho....I use my little plug in water heater to boil my water. In my mug I put some smashed, fresh ginger along with fresh spices....black pepper, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and cardamom pods. I throw in a black tea bag and a big scoop of cold pressed local raw honey. Half hot water, half hot soy milk (I boil water and place cup of soy into hot after cup...smarty pants). I sit and enjoy my chai as I write in my "spiritual journal"...recounting anything that came up for me in practice. 

By 8:45am I am dressed and out the door, en route to an ashram at the opposite end of town. It's a 30minute brisk walk along the Ganges, which flys by because I use this time to chant the Gayatri mantra (108x) on my crystal mala. I was chanting in the morning as part of my practice but that adds an extra half hour to my flow, and I don't want to walk up any earlier than I already am! Plus chanting it first thing in the morning on the sacred Ganges is quite nice, and all the little street kids who badger you to buy flowers don't bother you if you're chanting. 

Once at the ashram you sit silently in the waiting room for about an hour before being ushered into the main room to sit and listen to MooJii talk. It's about 3 hours or so of talking...questions and answers and anecdotes. MooJii is from Jamaica is a cross between Osho, Jesus Christ and Bob Marley (at least that's how I see him!). His face is warm and kind and you just want to get a bit bear hug from him (alas, this is not allowed. At an ashram there is a strict dress code, no touching, no hugging, no hand holding,etc.). MooJii mostly talks about Truth, and awareness. His delivery is amazing, and his patience and empathy is profound. Just being in his presence at these Satsangs is moving. He's said before that even if you are sick, come and lie down on the floor at the Satsang, because the energy is elevated, and will help to elevate your energy and spirit. He wasn't kidding....my ass hurts a bit after sitting for about 4 hours, but my energy is next-level when I leave,and I truly feel like my consciousness is running on a higher vibration on my walk home from Satsang. 

Here's some wisdom from the man himself that I jotted down the past few days....

MOOJII SAYS: (these are just drops of nectar from day one lecture. Ill be typing up my notes from other days as well and posting them)

- LESS PERSONALITY, MORE PRESENCE. 
- Stop trying to fix things, just Be with awareness (and they will fix themselves). 
- Focus on the love that you ARE, not the love that you HAVE. 
- When your insecurities become less, you become more open. More openness = less judgements. Then you can only see the SELF. Our likes/dislikes/etcetc, they are only the surface. 
- "I don't want to have just a few friends, I want to be friendly to all"
- A dog is eating a bone, you give it a steak, it leaves the bone for the steak. This is the sacrifice that we are making for the higher consciousness, in service of your truth.sometimes it's just hard to see it that way. It's not hard to give up coffee, unhealthy lifestyles, etc etc if you're making this sacrifice for higher consciousness. 
- There is no such thing as a personal problem - the problem is the person. 
- Don't go into "waiting mode" because then you make this moment a lesser moment. Be in the stillness, fully present, not waiting. No More Waiting. Just Being. Presence. 
- Absence of Personality > leaves room for > presence, spaciousness, awareness. 
- We feel that we are lost if our identity (ego) is not there. Enjoy the absence of the ego, you are in your True Self. 
- Don't be so obsessed with "living" life - you ARE life.
- Its s subtle difference between looking and seeing. Most of us have been looking and looking and looking...open your eyes and heart and start seeing. 
- IT'S NOT THAT YOU DON'T CARE, IT'S THAT YOU DON'T MIND. It's all just 'taking place'.
- If you are observing an emotion or thought, then there is already distance there. If you can observe it then you know tht you are Not It. So, no worries. Thoughts, emotions....they come, they go.
- If there is no interest (in the emotion or thought) , then there's no need for transcendence. Nothing sticks when you're in a state of pure awareness. 
- Do not try for repeats of any situation. Not running *towards*, but *opening up* (if you felt a specific emotion or state that you enjoyed, don't try to replicate it....because if you're running towards it you'll frustrate yourself. Instead focus your energy on simply opening up and the universe will provide). 
- (on Death): allow the grief to come, ALLOW SPACE FOR IT, to express itself, to exhaust that emotion fully, so you can heal and come back to center. 








Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beauty Begins with a Bindi.

Beauty Begins with a Bindi.

*Gush*....I love Indian women. They are simply beautiful.

If you drive past a field of garbage, you will most definitely see a family living amongst it. And if you look closely at that family, specifically at the women, you will notice them in a sari, with their jewelry and bangles on, with their hair pulled back, and a bindi on their forehead. No matter what class, the women here take time to look *nice*, which is much more than I can say for the backpackers scene or even for people back home. I love getting dressed up, which is one of the main reasons I love playing gigs out, because it gives me an excuse to wear something nice. Because in the states, you need an "excuse" to look nice. If you go to the bar any other night of the week you will notice everyone at the bar in sweats, with their hair carelessly thrown back. That's fine and good I guess if its your local pub, but it really really gets me when you are out at a nice restaurant and people are wearing their everyday jeans and a t-shirt. In India, they make everything sacred, and that's something that I'm really embracing. Even Usha Devi, my Iyengar yoga instructor, was yelling at some students in class yesterday, "What is this clothes you are wearing? (*Smack*...yes, she smacks students upside the head, and on the ass, and on the arm, etcetc). Why do you wear street clothes to yoga? Have you no respect? You walk around on the street all day in these clothes and now you come to practice yoga? Is there NO respect?!". Though I'm terrified of her and question most of her actions and outbursts, I couldn't help but to agree with her. Granted, it's hard when you're backpacking and only have a few items, but I want to make a point to have clothes that I put on for yoga, and have some respect for whatever it is that I'm doing...making everything "sacred". Its been nearly three months now that I've been living out of my little backpack....the clothes that I have are looking a bit run down and overworn, but luckily for me I am in India, where the shopping is amazing and your choices are endless. The shops around here cater to both local and backpackers taste, and I've found myself being drawn to the local fare. The key, I believe, is in the tailoring. At home everything that we buy is ready made. Here, everything is made for you at the tailors....so even the poor chai wallah or man sweeping the street looks more pulled together than a University student or professional back home. Today, after talking to Deepak, I headed to his tailor to get some clothes made. I picked out my fabric, I picked out my design, and decided on 6 tops. I am getting "kameez"s made, which are the long shirts that the women wear here in India if they aren't in a sari. The shirt comes almost down to your knees, with long slits up the side. I got four long sleeve and to sleeveless. Two of them I got with some fancy fabric around the bottom and the sleeves. The price worked out to be 2,380 rupees which is 45$usd. At first I was arguing with the man because of the high price, but then I thought about it...just over $7 a shirt....that is custom made from fabric of my choice, to fit my exact measurements. It's a bit more than the locals would pay, but in the end I was okay with the price. Adding to my look I have gone to a nice gem shop and purchased a mala made of Moonstone, which represents feminine energy and new beginnings.....both of which I am embracing at the moment. In the mornings before I leave my apartment I spend time pulling myself together.... I boil water and rest my head over its steam and then wash my face with carrot oil. I wash my body and then rub it down with coconut oil. I dress in my carefully selected outfit, I pull my Moonstone mala out of its silk pouch and put it around my neck, I pull my hair bak into s net bun and dab on some scent (usually sandalwood or lavender). I coat my eyelashes with some mascara and then before I walk out the door I put on my bindi...because in India, beauty begins with a bindi. And the best part of this "effort", is that it doesn't go unnoticed. Indian men and women so appreciate when you wear local clothes and the little bitty bindi....it makes a huge difference in the interaction you'll have with shopkeepers, restaurant owners, and passerbys. Ironically I have never worn *more* clothes and layers than I have here in India, and I've never felt more beautiful, inside and out.




Sent from my iPad

Busy "Being".

Busy "Being".

There is a Zen saying that goes, "When I eat, I eat; when I sleep, I sleep." This is enlightenment in action....to eat when you eat and to sleep when you sleep means to be completely present in all your actions. With that said, you could say that I've been busy "being" instead of being a "busy bee". I've actually made it a point to not be rushed to do anything or be anywhere: shanti, shanti. That's the vibration of India (okay, maybe not in Delhi, but most other places)....things get done when they get done, there is no rush, there is no running to the destination - there is pleasure in the journey. So even though Rishikesh is yoga, reiki, pranayama, massage, meditation, and healing central....I'm completely content to have lazy, fully wonderful days to relax into whatever it is I'm feeling....shanti, shanti. When I eat, I eat. When I sleep, I sleep. I take pleasure in simply walking around town; smiling to the friendly faces that I've gotten to know and enjoying a small exchange of "hellos" and "how are yous". I read my books if I feel like reading, I write in my journals when I feel like writing....if I want to sleep, I have a nap, and if I'm hungry - I eat. Sometimes I listen to music and sometimes I just sit with eyes closed and soak up the silence. I enjoyed a massage yesterday and I've been (over)indulging in shopping in the afternoons. I am constantly moved by the authentic kindness I've experienced every single day here in India, and I'm constantly laughing at the every day quirks I encounter as well....the (super) casual burping and spitting, the cows sharing (and shitting all over) the road, and the good-hearted-but-always-heated bartering dance that goes on almost every time that money is exchanged. My personal yoga practice lasts up to 4 hours, and I take in my evening Iyengar class just a short walk from my apartment. It's cold here, like late November back home....freezing at night, cold and brisk in the mornings and evenings, but warm and sunny in the afternoons. Ive bought some quality Tibetan blankets and scarves that I cuddle into most of the day and night, and I live in my knitted woolen socks.

The mountains and the sacred Ganges have an auspicious nature, and I'm feeling so blessed to be nestled between the two. If I could sum up what I've been feeling into one word, it'd be "content".....which is really the ultimate destination, right? Today I woke at 4:45....I did my morning Kriyas, and an hours worth of chanting and meditation - and then I went back to bed for two hours (this cold weather has my body in hibernation mode!!!). I woke, made myself some chai and then wandered outta town to listen to a Guru, only to find that he doesn't speak on Mondays. Caught a ride back to town with an older Australian gentleman, John, and then the two of us became quick friends as we chatted over chais and some lunch at my local eats. Deepak sat with us after lunch and we spoke for almost two hours about pujas, praying to god, temples, Shiva, the Hindu dieties, and chai. We departed and I came back to my room to read and relax....for several hours. Then I walked back up the hill to Ganeshas to see Deepak and have some more chai and some supper. I had palak paneer with rice and one chapati, and I was sure to order everything in Hindi. Deepak has been my unofficial Hindi teacher these past few days, and I'm picking it up pretty quickly. "Kapaya, muhjee palak paneer chai-yay. Ek chai beenacheenie ka, sahead Kay saat, deegeeA. Meh booKey-Huhn!" Ganesha is a locals hang out, and there is always a group of at least a half dozen men sitting around, shooting the shit and sipping chai (and burping and spitting, of course!). They are all entertained by my fumbling Hindi, but are impressed with my progress and offer up smiles and cheers of encouragement. Me, lots of old indian men, and rounds upon rounds of chai....that's my afternoon in a nut shell. And now, it's time for sleep. Kal phir me-langay (ill see you tomorrow)!


Sent from my iPad

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ayurveda De-Bunked : MILK

Ayurveda really pushes MILK. And right now I feel like there is a lot of controversy around dairy in our diets, so today - I took advantage of the cold rainy day here in Rishikesh and settled into the internet cafe to do some research about questions that I've been having. The first is about MILK:




"Modern Ayurveda scientists maintain that western researches have found milk harmful more because of their mode of intake. If taken cold, unspiced, homogenized, combined with unsuitable foods and in excess...it will definitely be bad for health. The secret to milk being a healthy food lies in the way it is consumed, prepared and stored.



To start with, Ayurveda recommends raw (never pasteurized or homogenized) milk. Boiling it before serving is also a must, because it denatures the protein in milk, making it easily digestible since it is broken into amino acids. The addition of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and black pepper can also help balance its cooling qualities.



Ayurveda maintains that while pasteurization does cleanse milk of the bacteria it starts out with, the process does nothing to offer by way of making milk more digestible, nor does it actually do away with the risk of potential contamination in other ways. Under the circumstances, modern processing of milk only takes away from it, making it more harmful that healthy. Unless milk is boiled well, anything at a lower temperature only serves to cause the partial breakdown of milk proteins, making them almost impossible to digest cleanly for the human system. Homogenization also does nothing to enhance the healthy properties of milk. This may lead to tendencies towards arteriosclerotic clots, causing severe heart problems. Then milk is blamed for it...when actually it is the processing that milk undergoes that is to be blamed.



Homogenization only serves to make it easier to pack, store and retail. So, the process has utility for the organizations that want to make profit by retailing milk, and it obviously overlooks the health issues. If these are the only objectives of processing and selling milk, obviously consuming a healthy food is not a priority. We can safely say that the cow's milk whose virtues were extolled by ancient sages and seers, and who pronounced it the complete food, is not the same milk that we are getting to consume today, so it will not have the same properties, nor the benefits.



Hence in this ancient Indian science, milk should not be tampered with, preferably boiled with spices, and not stored for too long.



Besides, Ayurveda recommends goats milk over cow's milk, since it is less mucus forming and easier to digest than cow's milk, also has much less tendencies to forming allergens than cow milk does. It is actually useful for calming and healing the stomach chemicals. It is rivaled in Ayurveda only by buffalo milk, especially for its excellent calming abilities.



Ayurveda recommends consumption of milk, if one really wishes to, in specific forms. One good idea is to boil milk with a half teaspoon of grated nutmeg, or 2 teaspoons of clarified butter (ghee) and one teaspoon of coriander powder. Another option is to boil a cup of milk and a cup of water with a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger and three or four cardamoms then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir with half a teaspoon of ghee just before drinking (drink while still warm). This drink will induce a calm sleep and help in digestion too."



So, YES, milk - when consumed the way that we do in the US - is bad for us! Yes, milk is super healthy for you if you are consuming it properly: spiced, warmed, and not tampered with (pasteurized and homogenized).



*Breaking down MILK:

Milk is a combination of fats, proteins, and water. When raw milk is left to stand for any length of time, the fat molecules typically float to the top. This creates a layer of cream that many farmers and raw milk aficionados use as a measure of the milk's quality: the thicker the cream, the better the milk. Many find the separation distasteful, however, if not an impediment to actually drinking the liquid.

*Why Homogenized?

Homogenized milk is any sort of milk that has been mechanically treated to ensure that it has a smooth, even consistency. The homogenization process typically involves high temperatures, agitation, and filtration, all aimed at breaking down milk's naturally occurring fat molecules. Once broken, these molecules stay suspended in the milk and resist separation. The process makes fat filtration much easier for manufacturers, and lengthens milk's shelf life.

Customer preference is usually only one of the reasons dairy farmers and manufacturers homogenize their milk. On larger farms, this process allows milk from many different herds to be blended together more easily. Simply combining milk from two cows or goats into a single container doesn't always produce a uniform result. Milks with different chemical make-ups often do not blend well, and the liquid may separate and doesn't always taste the same. When homogenized, however, even very different batches can form one unified whole.

Homogenized milk also has a longer shelf life because the cream cannot rise to the top and clump together; this allows it to be transported over greater distances. Large-scale dairies often find this to be an advantage, as it means they can do business with buyers in more places. Consumers, too, often appreciate longer-lasting milk. Homogenized milk will often last for a week or more once opened, whereas separated milk must usually be consumed within a few days.

*Homogenized vs Pasteurized:

Homogenization has nothing to do with safety, but is usually driven by aesthetics and taste preferences. It is entirely possible to have milk that has been homogenized but not pasteurized, or pasteurized but not homogenized. If both processes are to be performed, however, homogenization typically comes last, since the heat of the pasteurization tends to make the fat breakdown easier.

Most milk products sold in grocery stores in the United States are both pasteurized and homogenized. Though these terms tend to go together, they represent very different processes. In pasteurization, milk is heated to very high temperatures, then rapidly cooled in order to kill off microbial growth. Pasteurization tends to alter the taste of milk, but is considered by many to be essential in ensuring that the milk is safe for people to drink.

*Just a tid-bit:

Use of hormones and antibiotics, pasteurizing, homogenizing, and long – term refrigeration of milk changes the enzyme structure in a way that makes it almost impossible to digest. Low – fat milk products can’t be digested and have been linked to a number of different diseases. Poorly prepared dairy products from badly treated cows taken cold and in bad combinations at the wrong time increase mucus in the system and promote food and sinus allergies and candida.

It is not milk that questionable, but the way we receive or drink it. Here are some rules:

- Buy organic RAW whole milk from cows raised under gentle conditions.

- Boil it immediately, let it cool, and refrigerate. Boiling changes the enzyme structure to make the milk more digestible.

- If you believe you need low fat milk simply add as much water to the whole milk as you desire. It will decrease the fat content of your milk by keeping it digestible. Just remember that milk must have at least 2% fat for the gallbladder to release the bile needed for its assimilation.

- Milk should be taken warm, not cold as it increases its mucus forming properties and encourages the formation of toxins.

- Boiling milk with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves makes milk even easier to digest. Milk is usually best taken alone or as a meal by itself. You can also combine it with whole grains.

- Dairy products do not combine well with sour fruits and berries, bananas, melons, eggs, bread with yeast, beans, nuts, fish, meat, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, radish, and yogurt. Melon, yogurt, and banana with milk are the most difficult combinations.

- If you don’t have access to raw and/or organic milk choose the milk with the shortest storage term and not homogenized. Using dried whole milk and condensed sweetened milk is better than not drinking milk at all.

- Yogurt as it is known here is heavy and mucus forming and also promotes weight gain, not the weight loss it is thought to promote. Yogurt combines poorly with fruits and nuts. Lassi – the Indian variety of yogurt has the opposite qualities and not only tastes great but promotes better digestion when taken after meals

I hope that this offers up some insight to those that are confused about whether or not milk is benefiting our health!