Sunday, September 24, 2017
Saturday, September 2, 2017
Nearly all of us have heard how our bodies are made up of more than 30 trillion cells. What we may not know is that our bodies are home to nearly ten times that amount of microorganisms. These are non-human entities, sometimes referred to as our 'microbiome,' and they consist primarily of viruses, yeasts, fungi and bacteria. Though some may be pathogenic, we could not survive without the vast majority of them. They are a part of who we are, with most of them being bacteria. They live on our skin and in our intestines and are responsible for breaking down our food so we can assimilate it. Known as probiotics they are considered "helpful," because they keep us healthy. I've heard our gut tracts likened to a jungle, full of a wide variety of life forms all acting together in harmony to create the whole.
I have a little jungle in my backyard too. We have thirty different types of trees growing around our home. Years ago because of the sheer quantity of leaves, I learned from a friend how to make compost from them using the Rudolf Steiner method. To do this you first gather quite a few very specific types of plant material including: white oak leaves, chamomile plants, valerian roots, mustard stalks, pine needles, sea weed, oat straw, yarrow leaves, dandelion leaves, and wood ash. Apparently, each of these breaks down into varying strains of bacteria, fungus, yeasts and molds when layered onto the heap with some native soil and cow or horse manure. These microbes will then quickly convert all of your garden waste into rich soil full of nutrients that will support plant growth.
Once you've created this original compost, it becomes a great way to process garden debris because you don't have to stir or turn it. Instead you just place your varying garden leaves in layers, scattering a few shovelfuls of your original compost in between each layer. Then spray it with a little water, cover it, and within two or three months it has completely broken down and is ready to use. It will look just like a pile of leaves on top, but if you dig into it, 'voila,' rich new compost awaits you. And, your new compost now contains all of the bacteria that was present in your old compost and it can now be used to "seed" all subsequent compost piles. Scattering this compost on your flower beds or around your trees is just like giving your garden a healthy dose of probiotics.
Probiotics do for our digestion the same thing that my compost does for my garden leaves. These bacteria help us to break down our food into rich nutrition that we can easily assimilate. Referred to as "friendly bacteria," they are found naturally occurring in a variety of fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, pickles, kefir and yogurt. There is a reason why so many native cultures enjoy these "weird-tasting" fermented foods. They keep our digestive tracts happy.
Prebiotics are the fibers from plant based foods that we are unable to digest, but that feed the "friendly bacteria" in our intestines. As our bacteria break them down, the end products nourish our colon cells creating better health in our systems. Some of these prebiotics break down into fatty acids that improve our metabolic health. Commonly recommended prebiotic foods include: dandelion greens, oats, seaweed, chicory root, burdock root, apples, green bananas, nectarines, flax seeds, barley grass, asparagus, onions, leeks and garlic, some of which are the same plants that I used in creating my compost for the garden.
Our beneficial bacteria is originally transferred to us while we are growing in our mother's womb. We swallow them and we also take them in through our mouths during natural childbirth. Breast feeding further transfers even more beneficial bacteria into our systems. They then make their homes in our digestive tracts and in various other areas of our bodies. These bacteria are a natural part of who we are and we have shared our lives with them since the dawn of humanity. Just like we can't live without them, they can't live without us. And once we've got them, they can thrive in our intestines for a long, long time, hopefully from birth to death, busy at their friendly little jobs of tending to our health and breaking down our food for us so we can absorb it as nutrition.
However, a problem arises when we take large amounts of antibiotics or use them repeatedly, or consume them regularly in the flesh foods of animals that are routinely treated with antibiotics, such as restaurant meats, farmed fish, or commercial eggs and dairy products. Typically, a single course of antibiotics won't destroy entirely the whole scope of our variety of friendly bacteria, but because they are non-selective in killing bacteria, even small amounts of antibiotics taken over time can seriously compromise our intestinal flora leaving our internal jungle like one that has been clear-cut. When this happens we start to see all of those very serious digestive problems, like irritable bowel, colitis and Crohn's disease, where people can have a very hard time taking in nutrition. This is why a strictly raw vegan diet has such a huge success rate for healing these disturbances. The variety of whole, fresh, raw plant foods, fermenting in our intestines helps us to repopulate the jungle.
Some time ago, I had the very good fortune to travel to New Zealand. New Zealand is a beautiful country that sustains itself in the world economy by exporting goods. One of the products that New Zealand supplies is lumber. While visiting there I saw many acres of pine trees, all planted in rows. Though these looked like fairly healthy forests, they were not at all like the forests that nature creates. A natural forest is teaming with wildlife and though there may be a predominance of one type of tree, there are many other types of plants and even other trees all growing together, creating a vast cacophony of wildness. This is not the case in a mono-crop of trees planted for timber harvest. The soil with mono-cropped forestry can only sustain two or three harvests of trees before it becomes completely devoid of nutrients and the trees are unable to survive there. And though there may be a few varieties of birds living in a mono-crop forest and perhaps a couple of different species of animals, mono-culture is unable to sustain a wide variety of life.
Sadly the same thing can happen in our gut tracts. I've heard it said and I think it's true, that we Americans tend to eat the same ten or fifteen foods over and over again. And, the food chemists, who are hired by most of the manufacturers of processed foods, know exactly which foods or combinations of food-like chemicals or additives will trigger our addictions with the result that we come back for them again and again. They include these substances in their recipes so we will regularly crave them and become the good 'consumers' that these manufacturers would like us to be. The sad thing is that many of these ingredients can erode our good health because they are not only wholly deficient in pre and probiotics, but they also lack much of the nutrition that we need to regenerate our tissues. And they tend to pack on the pounds, which slow us down, not only physically, but mentally as well.
Most would agree that preventing disease is easier than reversing it and when we suffer from a diet deficient in nutrition and characterized by "junk foods," we tend to die very slowly, with a long spiral down into poor health where we become heavily dependent on medical treatments and drugs. Whereas, when we have a good diet, rich with nutrition and living foods, we are caring for our health and we become less likely to succumb to the management of disease. The difference between these two is what we call "quality of life."
When I was in my early twenties, I would often go to visit some very good friends of mine. They had a little daughter and lived together in a small, high desert town. Every day, at 3:30pm, they'd all three walk down to the corner market to pick up what they wanted for dinner along with their groceries for the following day. This always included a little bit of chocolate which they enjoyed together for desert after dinner. Their little girl would be with them as they circumambulated around the store. They'd start in the produce section, come round past the dairy, slip down an isle or two, pass by the meats and then progress to the check out counter. This was where the fireworks would begin, right there at the candy counter. Their little girl would start with begging and progress quickly to whining and crying. Then, she'd dramatically throw herself down on the floor, right on her belly and start kicking and screaming and pounding her fists into the floor. It was such a regular scene that everyone just let her have her tantrum, went about their business and paid for their groceries. Then her parents would patiently scoop her up and carry her home.
As their daughter matured, those tantrums passed, but I often remembered that raw demonstration of craving in action, over the subsequent years, as my own desires for the candies at the check-out counter would routinely rise up to my awareness. It almost felt to me like there were hundreds, if not billions, of tiny little voices that were inside of me saying, "Wait a minute, we're starving in here and we NEED that chocolate! Don't you dare leave this store without giving us our sugar fix." And guess what, that was exactly what was happening.
We can cultivate all kinds of bacteria in our gut tracts, the good, the bad and the ugly. The friendly flora, the healthy bacteria, helps us to digest our good nutrient rich foods, like fruits and vegetables. The bad bacteria thrives on refined carbohydrates like sugar, and white flour, candies, pasta, meats, eggs, dairy products and the likes. When these bacterial and yeast populations become overly large, they cry out to be fed, regularly. Do you remember that old childhood chant, "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream?" I do, and that is exactly what is happening. And we think it's us, our human cells and conscious awareness that are screaming. But, really, it's the conscious awareness of the unhealthy bacteria that is influencing our minds and demanding to be fed. This can happen with intestinal parasites too. They all want to be fed and they can't thrive on kale.
So, this brings us to the topic of consciousness and the infamous "Twinkie Defense." Perhaps you recall the terrible murder of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone by Dan White in San Francisco in 1978. During the following trial Dan White's defense attorney successfully argued that his client was mentally impaired, just short of insanity, and was thus compelled into a murderous state, due to his over-consumption of sugar laden Twinkies. Grant it, this is a very extreme case, but I think my point can be taken. Because, not only our health, but our moods and emotions are absolutely affected by what we eat. Our actions and behaviors are affected too.
Sometime ago, I wrote a blog here that I called, "No Food Cravings. Wow!" At the time I had started eating a small amount of homemade Kimchi every day with my husband After about a week of this we were both astounded by how we could walk into a grocery store and pass by the fresh baked crusty french breads, the wine, the cookies and cakes, even the pizza rich with gooey melted cheese, And, Not, Even, Notice, It. Instead, absolute peace of mind prevailed. We felt no pull, no addictive tendencies at all. In fact we didn't even notice it until we were out of the store. And that is one of the surest symptoms of beautiful health, isn't it? You don't even notice it when you have it. Your mind is clear and you are free to be who you are and do what you love.
So there's the truth of it all. We really are what we eat.
Monday, July 31, 2017
Saturday, July 1, 2017
We use the word consciousness in two different ways, but it is mostly recognized to mean just one thing, awareness. The dictionary meaning of the word is to be aware of something, to be cognizant of it, to be able to hold it in your conscious awareness. But we do use the word in another way too. We often speak of a greater consciousness, as in a group mind, world mind or universal consciousness. I often like to speak of the fundamental consciousness that pervades everything. This broader context certainly holds the first definition within it.
Perhaps the interesting thing of note here is that when we hold something in our consciousness, thinking about it, noticing it, bringing it to our awareness, it then enters a realm where it is possible for it to come into the awareness of our group mind. If several of us notice something, it might have a greater chance of entering our group awareness than if only one of us paid it our attention.
Here might be an example. Back in the 1969, the Cuyahoga River became so polluted with petrochemicals floating on its surface that it caught fire. This certainly came to a lot of people's attention. When attempts to put out the fire using the customary fire hose of water failed, it entered the awareness of not only the residents of Cleveland, Ohio, but it also entered the awareness of the citizens of our nation.
Back then someone who noted the situation coined the term, 'water pollution,' and that idea entered into our world consciousness. We all now have a global understanding about what water pollution means. And I think this degree of understanding goes even further than that.
Since consciousness seems to be able to increase exponentially from the level of an individual awareness, through group consciousness, to that of a much more extensive global perspective, why would it not go beyond?
Surely the animals who swim in our seas or live in our lakes and streams are aware of changes in their environments. The trees and plants that process the molecules of air and water arising off the land would also on some level of their physiological processes be in awareness of the changes required by the shift in the chemical matrix. All of the systems of life and even what we consider inanimate processes like evaporation or the hydrologic cycle of rain would, "notice" a change. Clouds that have been "seeded" respond.
What if we had a solar dimension to this where the processes of living things and non-living things responded and shifted according to changes in the field. Would we call that consciousness? I think we might. Changes in the solar winds are certainly registered by our earth's protective magnetic field, the magnetosphere. And we all become aware of this when the Aurora Borealis or the Aurora Australis vary from their normal parameters.
We also speak of a sub-conscious, conscious and super-conscious mind. The sub-conscious being that which we are typically not aware of in our day-to-day reality, but can access if we try. Herein lie deep-seated beliefs, habits and family or group patterns that often guide our lives. We may think that we are making all of our choices consciously, from our conscious mind's awareness, but often it is our old patterns that are running the show. Then there is the super-conscious, where our inspirations and true guidance lie. This is often thought of as our God-self or the part of us that is one with everything. If we bring all three of these, our inspirations, our day-to-day awareness and our habit mind into alignment, we become a unified force of awareness. As we do, we enter a very congruent and relatively rare Gamma brain wave state. Some refer to this as mastery.
As we come into a similar alignment, on a group level, like what happened with the Cuyohoga River, a large sector of the population got all parts of themselves on board to try to address the problem. When this happens big changes can occur. The situation is felt. On some level, it is perceived. It ripples through the larger field of awareness. Then insights and answers come into play and join in with our immediate reactions and our ability to choose.
Taking this back out to the global level and beyond into our solar system, whose streams of electrons and massive solar winds reverberate against our earth's magnetosphere, what if shifts and events in our group mind or global consciousness could be felt out there? As above, so below.
If I get a "bug" in my gut, that part of me that I am typically unaware of, suddenly rises to a place of great awareness in my mind. If a nuclear blast, the size of Hiroshima or a release of radioactive pollution the size of Fukushima's entering the ocean were to be likened to a bug in my digestive tract, how could that type of event not be 'felt' on a global or even solar dimension.
Similarly, as I take action to address a bacterial infection and start moving some charcoal through my system, perhaps the sun with its recent proclivity for huge solar flares might choose a knock-out blow that could seriously affect humanity. The coronal mass ejection following such an event could take out all of our missile systems, food inventories, communications and computing power in an instant. But the sun doesn't do this. It hasn't.
Despite all of the 'off-the-charts' solar flares in the past decade, our earth has remained relatively unscathed. The soar flares sent their subsequent massive streams of plasma and magnetic fields flying into the solar winds and out from the sun in other directions. But not toward us. Why is that do you suppose?
It could be simply luck. But I think that it is because we are all trying to find our balance, the good bugs, the bad bugs, all of it. Just like a father letting his progeny work things out amongst themselves, maybe our solar system is consciously waiting to see if we can find our balance from within.
But our sun is just one tiny little star in a distant "arm" of our galaxy, the Milky Way. What if the imbalances on earth are being registered by the consciousness of our galaxy, like a small hangnail on her baby finger as she dances across the Universe. Perhaps she is similarly in full awareness of every star filled muscle and sinew as she moves with momentum through space and time.
This makes me think that it's a good idea to frequently remember to consciously choose to enter into a sense of group awareness. We can pause anytime and embrace our state of oneness. This happens when we come fully into the present moment. We may notice the beauty of a flower or open our hearts in love and interconnectedness to those who are around us. If we choose to, through our experience of oneness, we can become consciously aware of the greater consciousness of mind, the fundamental consciousness, that I believe we all share.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Please enjoy this short video containing some simple natural remedies that you can use to draw out the poison and reduce the discomfort of insect bites and stings. You will also learn some nice tips on how to prevent these occurrences from ever even happening in the first place. Thanks for watching and have a lovely insect-sting-free summer.
Sunday, April 30, 2017
When it comes to manifesting joy, the trick here is that it is not really in our hands. The manifestation of our deepest wants and needs is the soul property of the highest good for all. Yes, we can let our desires shine to light our path. We can mine our sub-conscious minds to clear away any lingering obstacles, and let our sincere and heartfelt feelings guide us. We can hold our thoughts to the positive and speak out our affirmations with confidence. But the bottom line, when it comes to finding our joy is surrender. It is giving ourselves over in service to something greater, something beyond our own individual aspect of consciousness.
On the inside of my closet door, so I can see it every day, I have pinned up this quote by Mahatma Gandhi. "God demands nothing less than complete self surrender as the price of the only real freedom worth having. And, when we lose ourselves, we immediately find ourselves in the service of all that lives. Such service becomes our delight and recreation. We are a new person, never weary of spending ourselves in the service of God's creation."
Now, I realize that the word 'God' is a tricky one for many. There has been so much self-serving and irresponsible theology in the world, leaving death, doubt and destruction in its wake. So it can be a challenge to embrace the thought of 'God.' Because of this, the great spiritual teacher of how to heal our lives, Louise Hay, never uses the word 'God.' She uses 'Life,' instead. She'll say, "Life loves me." And I think that looking upon Divinity as 'Life' is a lovely, generative alternative to what has come before.
I also like Joseph Campbell's definition of God. He said, "God is a metaphor for a mystery that absolutely transcends all human categories of thought, even the categories of being and non-being.” What he is saying here is that trying to fathom the ineffable is simply beyond our limited human capacity.
Peace Pilgrim, who is probably my favorite spiritual teacher and perhaps our only true American Saint, also refrains from religious associations when describing or referring to 'God.' She speaks of her own entrance into a life-well-lived by sharing how she felt moved to walk out into the woods one night, motivated by a feeling of deep seeking for a meaningful way of life. And after she had walked almost all night, she came upon a clearing where the moonlight was shinning down and she found herself speaking aloud and she found herself saying, "If you can use me for anything, please use me." And she found herself feeling, "Here I am, take all of me. Use me as I am. I withhold nothing." And with that she felt that she had found what she was looking for. She experienced the complete willingness, without any reservations whatsoever, to give her life to something beyond herself. She said that from that time on her life became meaningful, because she began to live to be of service; she began to live to give instead of to get.
This is where the journey of manifesting a life of true and lasting joy begins. And, there is still a bit of road to travel until we actually experience the complete giving over of ourselves, the surrender of our life, to the whole.
In her experience of it, Peace said that this aspect of the journey seemed like a struggle between two parts of herself, what some might call the ego and conscience, or what many have referred to as 'my will' and 'thy will,' or what she called the low self and the high self. The two viewpoints are quite different. And each one of us must reconcile this difference before we step fully into a life of harmony.
While we are working through this stage, initially we get glimpses of our life lived in union with the whole. And as we progress, we find ourselves there more and more frequently. Then we start to really miss that immersion in pure love, when we find that we have slipped out of it. Finally, as we reach harmony, and as Peace says, "You will know your way from there."
With this, we can imagine the beautiful results that we are hoping for; and we let the way to achieve them gracefully unfold. We strive to do all the good things that we find ourselves motivated to do, to help make the world a better place. And we find that our life is characterized by a deep seated sense of joy; and it is that joy that unerringly guides us right onto our path before us.
I find it quite miraculous really to think that there is an energy or a force, a benevolent field that is attuned to our every thought, awaiting our alignment with the whole. And as we give ourselves over to it, more and more completely, motivated by love, we enter into the great cosmic dance of the river of life wherein we manifest whatever we need because it is completely attuned with everything.
These are not the wants and needs of the ego, trying to get ahead of others; nor is it the part of us that holds ourselves as separate, better or less than any other. No, this is not that analytical, critical thinking part of our self that feels 'a business plan' is the way to go here, oh no. This is the open, benevolent, expansive lover of all, that we each hold inside our hearts. This is the part of ourselves that unquestioningly reaches out a hand to save another, knowing that at our core essence, as Joe Campbell exclaimed, "You and the other are one!"
And from my perspective, 'The One' is vast! It includes not only all of humanity and Gaia, our planet, but also our solar system and the massive spiral arms of our galaxy swirling out into the unending space of the Universe. I'm talking here of the fundamental consciousness, that is not only in me and in you, but that pervades everything and beyond. This is the flow that we must tap into, (that we are already tapped into) and align with, (that we are already aligned with,) in order to really manifest what we'd like to see in our lives. And all of this is already fully accessible within us. All that is needed is a little shift in our perspective. Here we embrace everything with love, even the stinkers, and those who have not yet found their way. Here we serve all. And, incidentally, thereby serve ourselves.
Our good intentions, our desires, our inspirations and our feelings of deep fulfillment will all point the way. They are the compasses that help us to align. They are the keys that open the doors to the deeper meaning of life. But it is our surrender to our unique service in life, to our own pathway of giving, that brings us to our knees with Joy! And here we find that the Universe has lain the road open wide before us, bountifully bedecked with everything that we truly need.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
The late, great, naturopathic doctor and herbologist John Christopher M.H. said, “Red Clover is the antidote for cancer.” Penelope Ody in her book, The Complete Medicinal Herbal, said about red clover flowers, “In the 1930’s they became popular as an anticancer remedy and may still be prescribed to breast, ovarian and lymphatic cancer sufferers.” Enjoy this short video about the healing properties of red clover tea.