Ginger Tea

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Life is filled with small pleasures and locating a new one is a special experience. Ginger is a health promoting herb, it has many benefits including high levels of vitamin C, appetite reduction, prevention of alzheimer’s disease, and improved circulation.

What makes ginger different than other supplements I’ve tried is that the appetite reduction and improved circulation is noticable, and the tea delivers an internal heat upon consumption. I’ve been consuming the tea over the last month, and my stomach feels better, I’m more alert, and I feel much better..this might be borderline too much information, but my bowel movements have been excellent.

When prepared in a tea with honey, it’s also one of the most delicious things things in this world. Try this if you’re interested in the benefits or if you enjoy tea.

“Connected Enough to Love the Other”

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Strength flows from spirit full enough to nurture another, alive enough to act toward good, clear enough to understand, faithful enough to wait and see, fearless enough to reveal the truth, free enough to choose to learn, courageous enough to stand alone, connected enough to love the other.

 -“Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand, and Deal With People Who Try to Control You” by Patricia Evans

Daoist Meditation

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(written for Demystifying Meditation)

Daoism is an ancient Chinese religion (roots of Daoism go back to 4BCE) that places emphasis on developing your virtue, and places special value on the values of compassion, frugality, and humility. Daoist also seek to live in accordance with the will of the Dao, which can be translated as the “way” or the “doctrine”. Another way to describe the Dao is that it is the will of the living universe, which we are all aspects of. Daoists have many ways of better connecting themselves to the will of the universe, including their ceremonies, holy texts, and meditation.

 

Daoist meditation also preceded and contributed to Chinese medicine and martial arts, who have borrowed some practices and share common beliefs about the human body and the universe. This system focuses on what they call the “internal alchemy” of the body. The energies inside the body must be balanced properly and there is a special emphasis on the life force, or “qi”.

 

Buddhist and Daoist meditation have been entwined and interrelated since ancient times, and the “Guan” form of Daoist meditation is based on the concept of Buddhist mindfulness meditation.The major difference between Buddhist and Daoist practice is what each school focuses on: Buddhist practice focuses on the mind, and Daoist practice focuses first on the mind, then on balancing the body’s energy, and aligning oneself with the will of the universe. Some some it is most easy to learn Daoist meditation after learning the Zen style, because both focusing on emptying and stilling the mind, while focusing placing more focus on the body’s posture and internal energies.

 

In Western society, we have been introduced to variations of most of the main aims of Daoist meditation, even if the specific practice isn’t well known. Concentration, mindfulness, contemplation, and visualization are all used in Daoist meditation, making it a multifaceted and highly compatible addition to anyone’s practice. There are three main forms of Daoist meditation: Ding, Guan, and Cun.

 

Ding means to stabilize, fix in place or settle down. It is the primary form of meditation in Daoist meditation, meaning you must learn this style and become proficient in it before practicing other forms. This meditation is carried out in much the same way as the mindfulness meditation that we’re currently studying. The focus is mainly on the breath – either following its movement through the nose, or the contraction and expansion of the stomach.

 

Guan means to watch, observe, or scrutinize. It is much the same as vipassana/mindfulness, but is also has elements of samatha, which watches the breath. The goal here is to become one with the Dao, the will of the universe.

 

Cun means to survive or be present, and focuses on visualizing many different aspects of oneself, the universe, and all that’s between. The Neigun practice involves visualizing one’s body, mind, and organs, inner deities and thought processes.

 

I am definitely interested in pursuing Daoist meditation once I have mastered mindfulness and more mainstream Buddhist techniques. It seems like there is much more information available on the Buddhist techniques, also they focus much less on tradition and ritual than Daoist forms. What I’ve learned from the Daoist philosophy that more than mindfulness should be carried over into one’s day, but also the cultivation of virtue and a desire to do what is best for others.

“End the Drug War”

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“I’ll tell you what I reckon, Charlie. I’m thinking this is a health problem, not a crime problem…they’re all buckled up and emaciated…You know, the attitude of a criminal, there’s some kind of power in that, right? If you’re the sort of person that’s making dollar from your criminality. But, that…those people are just victims.”

-Russell Brand, “End the Drug War”

“End the Drug War” discusses the drug war in the United Kingdom, which persecutes and penalizes drug use.  It challenges the theory that addicts are addicts for life, and harm reduction techniques.  Methadone may reduce harm, but keeps the addict sick and weak. according to Russell Brand, a believer in abstinence-based recovery.

The narrator of the film, Russell Brand, is a former heroin addict. This allows light-heartedness, and keeps the tone from being condescending. Russel shares his belief that use is due to unprocessed psychic pain. By condemning users, they go deeper into a shame spiral.  If we desire to improve our society, we need to educate and uplift addicts.

Russell explores options for drug addiction treatment. For example, drugs are illegal in Switzerland; but there are clean, legal centers for drug use. Hepatitis C has been lowered in needle users by 38% in only ten years.He also talks to a woman who runs a center for  children. Addicts raise some of these children, exposing the children to stress and instability. Criminalization of drug use increases the chance they will enter foster care. These factors make it more likely they will grow up to be addicts. If you’re curious to learn more on current issues or experience addiction – first or second-hand in your life- watch this movie on the epidemic of our time.

A Few Forms of Meditation

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Are you interested in meditation but not super-knowledgable? Did you know you can meditate not only while sitting, but while walking or laying as well?

Here’s a few different forms appropriate to the beginner that have helped me, and guided examples between ten and fifteen minutes in duration:

Body Scan

This is the first form I was introduced to – first in rehab, and then by way of Israel Regardie’s book on spiritual awakening. It really helps you become more aware of your body, how you hold yourself, and gives you “something to do” while meditating, which is non-judgementally observing your body and mind. It’s a great first form of meditation.

Here’s a 10 minute guided form.

Visualization

Another nice first meditation, you are guided on a journey to peace while using your imagination. This example also uses affirmations.

Safe Place: A Guided Meditation.

Counting Breath

This trains you to focus a little more than body scan does (in my opinion), and re-teaches you to breathe fully and slowly.

Guided Meditation by “Stop, Breathe, and Think” here

Gatha

A gatha is a poem that gives you something to think about while controlling your breath.

Here’s a simple 12 minute gatha form.

 

 

Sobriety Week 3: Awareness and Balance

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…I am saying we can do ourselves and our society a great service—and be more effective and heard—by authentically, empathetically connecting with one another.

-Rachel Sklar, “10 Habits of Highly Successful Women”

Willhelm Reich used to talk about “body armor” – He theorized that where and how we hold our tension in our muscles shows what we’re avoiding feeling, and releasing the tension along with talk therapy helps a person move foreward. I tend to agree…Between releasing most of my muscular tension and the meditation event, I’ve become profoundly calm, but sad and prone to crying.

I’m practicing being aware, not judging, and letting the sadness run its course. Too frequently in my past I’ve blocked out emotions in a variety of ways, even while sober…having “subtle” emotions is a new experience. I do have a sense that everything will be alright, though, I just need to go through this.

This week has been a balancing act between nourishing others and self. I realize that I’m self-centered, but focusing on myself right now is better than a hamfisted mission to “fix” someone… So…I’m just quietly helping others in small ways, and practicing listening rather than “fixing” or “judging”, and spending most of my time on self-repair until I’m more capable.

A book on the sixth and seventh step showed up on Amazon. Made me laugh – that’s where I ended up
“taking a break”. Kinda grateful that all this happened. My faith in God is signficantly more solid rather than the nebulous thing it was before, and I “feel” my defects more in life. Lol, it’s like when a pimple is getting ready to pop…At first you don’t notice it, and then all of a sudden it’s driving you mad.

I feel like I’ll be able to work these steps “deeper” than I would have without the spontaneous broken leg and relapse. & even if I would have gotten to where I am without it – I can’t change the past, now can I?