It takes practice to set your own slower pace in a world that is hurried, stressed and frantic. Part of our collective stress can be found in driving patterns and increased volumes of traffic. (Bravo to those who don’t own cars and use public transportation).
If you own a car and drive / commute to work or drive in traffic at any time of day or night there is an increasing tendency to drive faster on interstates and secondary roads. There is a tendency to run lights that are yellow and red. It could be built-in to the predatory capitalism and a me-first attitude on the roads.
Rush hour is no longer just an hour. Weekends and holidays exacerbate traffic and impatience to get their first. “Half an inch, half an inch,” out of a Monte Python sketch or a Jerry Seinfeld bit of inching ahead in traffic at a stoplight. This is all a part of the out-of-breath frantic rev-up for more stress and anxiety fixed by a pill.
Smile and make eye contact
Breathe, slow down, hurry slowly, and practice patience.
Allow yourself 5 to 15 minutes extra time in traveling to your destination so you are ensured of being on time without a frantic dash to the finish line. Add extra time if you are traveling with someone else or with children. Begin by practicing slower breathing in tense situations, or in heavy traffic, especially bumper-to-bumper.
In lines of any kind such as the supermarket, the post office or in picking up your coffee shift your weight from one side to the other, bend your knees slightly and practice breathing slowly. Strike up a conversation with your line-mate if it seems right. Smile and make eye contact.
On this precipice of transformation the world seems entrenched in romanticizations of the past, which is producing unnecessary injustices pain and suffering beyond the pale of the ordinary.
as an empath I feel their pain
Survival is an interesting balancing act between feeling deep anguish,pain and suffering and a retreat into rationalizations and /or other protections of the mind. The danger of a continuous retreat into the mind is a numbing of emotion. Too much emotional distress that is left unprocessed leads to overwhelm and shock, suppression recycling unconscious processes that have alternating anxiety, fear, anger and /or depressive moods to name a few a part of the emotional strategies of coping albeit unbalanced.
something happens that seems like divine intervention
When I work with people who are in pain I acknowledge their pain, its truth and being and as an empath I feel their pain. It pushes up against the pain I have felt in my life and allows me to identify and bear witness to their pain and mine. Merely by bearing witness with an open heart, suspending judgment sometime something happens that seems like divine intervention. Their pain is slowly allowed to release a little in the moment. It doesn’t mean that the pain won’t return it just means that if I hold a respectful loving and compassionate space for someone without expecting any result the pain sometimes leaves. This is miraculous. It seems divine because it has to do with a force that is invisible in our lives – the neutral space, the place of the witness.From the witness the higher vibrations of love and compassion flows through me and amazes me because – although it seems a part of me it belongs to a greater oneness that is part of the essence, core or divine self. From many years of healing work it has become easier to release judgment and accept another person’s reality completely. This has been a gift (from the mystery of the Divine).
The Divine enters and is both me and not me
Surrendering ego is the push that keeps a boundary in place that may as well be a wall and that is extraordinarily difficult to release until it isn’t. In that moment when the “I” is released all compassion, love and/or the divine that is all round as it has always been. I have kept it out, me the ego. The release of ego is so simple in the act. Getting to the place of release, of surrender, of sacrifice is gut-wrenchingly arduous. The release is sweetness and freeing.
the light of relief is experienced in all its innocence
In that momentary place of release and holding space the healing empathic forces come into play. They come through me when I step out of the way in the moment.
The Divine enters and is both me and not me, is a child of mirth and wild play; and that which is greater acting through me. Still the ego in me would like to lift the suffering from the one who is with me. I, the ego, realizes this is a disservice to the person in front of me who is suffering. I have come to see that by holding sacred space and allowing the person’s pain and suffering to run its course that they are learning a new grace and wisdom of unwinding karma and releasing their pain. I feel privileged that I can witness a birth within another as suffering and pain go and the light of relief is experienced in all its innocence.
taking the pressure off of going to sleep by telling yourself your going for optimal rest.
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night try taking the pressure off of going to sleep by telling yourself your going for optimal rest. Then if you fall asleep during your optimal rest period it’s a good bonus.
I’ve worked for over 20 years in the mental health field facilitating groups on relaxation, meditation, and sleep hygiene.
caffeine can disrupt your sleep up to 11 hours after you drink it
Sleep is part of a daily cycle. Children and teenagers need more sleep sometimes up to 10 or 11 hours. Adults average about 8 hours up to the age of 55. Those over the age of 55 need less sleep – about 8 to 6 hours. These figures are not set in stone and there are always exceptions to every “rule”.
Since the time of the industrial revolution mainly the advent of electric light and more recently television, computers, smart phones and the internet the natural rhythms of our bodies have been disrupted due to light pollution.
Your bedroom should always be slightly on the cool side
Before Sleep – The Experts Report – Our bodies adjust to light dark cycles so if you’re having trouble sleeping at night you may want to consider making changes to your daily routine:
Exercise – in the morning or afternoon. Avoid exercise in the evening or at night this can signal your body to become more awake or alert. Exercise is important for a good night’s sleep even if it is a short or long walk in the morning or afternoon.
Caffeine – The experts report that caffeine can affect your body and disrupt your sleep up to 11 hours after you drink it. This can affect your ability to fall asleep and your ability to stay asleep.
Television, Smartphone or computer use – excites the brain. Sleep experts recommend to stop using these devices at least 2 hours before retiring
Snacking – Sleep experts recommend that you wait 3 hours after eating to go to sleep for a better night’s sleep.
Technique – If you do sleep poorly and assuming your morning is sunny you can re-set your body clock by sitting in the sun from 40 to 60 minutes in the morning.
Sleeping Timing – experts suggest going to sleep at the same time each night. I have observed that this has to do with body memory. Disrupting body memory where we experience a burst of energy hurtling passed our ordinary bedtimes usually comes from caffeine or a late night snack of sugary foods or refined carbohydrates.
No Alcohol Before Bedtime – I almost did not include this because many people already know that while alcohol can put you to sleep it can often wake you up several times during the night. A drink or a glass of wine with an early dinner is okay.
Minimize Electrical Gadgets in your Bedroom – a lamp is good with an incandescent bulb and is best for reading and a feeling of warmth. An alarm clock without excessive lights if you need one is okay but not an alarm on your electronic device. Watching television in-bed, surfing the net from your smartphone or tablet is bad for your sleep hygiene. Best to turn off your cell phone or tablet if you are keeping them in your bedroom.
Light and Temperature – Your bedroom should be as dark as possible, no light at all. But if you startle waking-up in a dark room, a light in a different room or a very dim nightlight is okay. If you have equipment such as a CPAP machine prescribed for your sleep then of course that’s okay. Your bedroom should always be slightly on the cool side, in summer and winter. Our body temperatures drop at night and by cuddling with ourselves under the covers we warm to an optimal sleeping temperature.
muse on your day, begin the letting go process
One to Three Hours Before Sleep – These are nightly rituals, that when I use them, they assist me in getting a better night’s sleep. Admittedly I don’t use them as much as I could.
As you begin to enjoy your beverage muse on your day, begin the letting go process.
Next take care of brushing your teeth and all those to-do things before laying down to engage in optimal rest.
If you get in bed before the 40-minute period before closing your eyes, plan on reading, listening to music or doing some breath work, but ideally this should occur after taking medications and/or supplements.
LET GO AND BREATHE
Thirty (30) to forty (40) minutes before lying down take any nighttime medications or supplements.
Here are the supplements I take at night for their sedating effects:
GABA – It’s an neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain. Its uses include but are not limited to: improved sleep, lowering anxiety, help with chronic pain and lowering blood pressure;
Calcium – most calcium is derived from a dairy product which may have a sedating effect
Sometimes I take:
Aconitum Napellus 30c – four to five pellets under the tongue – It’s for anxiety but it can aide in falling to sleep.
Immediate Preparations for Optimal Rest
These techniques can be used in preparations just prior to closing your eyes or if sleep doesn’t come.
The Body Clench – this is a systematic clench of muscle groups and their release in your body. Begin by scrunching up your feet and clenching your toes. Don’t let go. Next tighten your calf and thigh muscles, then tighten your butt muscles, your chest and abdomen. Next make fists and tighten the muscles in your forearms and biceps, stretch your neck by moving your head towards your chest and scrunch up the muscles in your face.
Then LET GO AND BREATHE.
Don’t beat yourself up because your suppose to be sleeping
The idea is to make your body tighter so you when you release the tightness tense muscles also release and allows your body to move into a more relaxed state.
Sleep experts suggest you sleep on your side. Sleeping on your abdomen (belly) inhibits your breath so not good for optimal rest.
Close your Eyes– (30 to 40 minutes after taking your medications and/or supplements) When you close your eyes there may be an automatic response for you to think about everything your worried about, or to criticize yourself in someway. Worry may manifest as thinking about something repeatedly (obsessing) – trying to figure it out. Or maybe you’re trying to solve a problem or review something that happened that day.
Let yourself do this for a few minutes. Make it okay. Don’t beat yourself up because your suppose to be sleeping even it goes on you five to ten minutes or so. Also you might want to engage in some soothing self-talk such as: “I’m a gentle person”, I’m applying compassion towards others and myself” “I like _____ about myself” or think of a peaceful scene in nature – a sunset over a lake or behind a mountain, floating or flying over fields, seeing waves at the beach.
It’s okay… it’s okay… I’m safe. I can let go.
Then tell yourself that it time to dive deeper into optimum rest.
Begin this next process by scanning your body with your mind for any areas of your body where your holding tension and imagine breathing them out (with your out-breath). Let go.
Next, focus on your breath. Usually, what happens when we begin to focus on our breath is that we take control. That’s okay. Breathing in this way soon becomes like work. When you start to realize that its work then begin to watch your breath as it moves in and out of your body without trying to control it. You’re just matching your thoughts with what’s happening in your body automatically, that can be a lot easier.
I may just practice watching my breath achieving optimal rest
Your mind may wander back to your negative or problem solving thoughts without you realizing it. If this happens let them go and move back to your witness mind watching your breath. The rhythm of your breath is similar to waves coming to shore. As you imagine your breath like the waves you may feel the peace of waves as you picture them in your mind.
Focus on your breath in this way for at least 20 to 40 minutes. Usually what happens for me is I fall asleep, but I only know this has happened when I awaken the next morning. I realize I have released and fallen asleep.
Sometimes it doesn’t happen and I catch myself on the edge of letting go and pull myself back into a wakeful and circular thought process – a knee-jerk response. Here I may do some soothing self-talk (silently saying to myself):
“It’s okay… it’s okay… I’m safe. I can let go. I can be a deep diver. I can let go. I am letting go, letting go…”
If after 20 minutes to an hour and I’m awake I may just let myself be satisfied with continuing to watch my breath and drop into a deeper level of meditation. Or I may get up and go to the bathroom and return to bed and matching my thoughts with my breath.
These are remedies that I’ve discovered or were passed on to me. Some of them you may already use or know about. (these are not meant as prescriptions and may or may not help you. You are encouraged to seek medical and/or healing advice from a professional)
Colds and flu going from mild to severe.
(Some of these remedies were passed on and some I uncovered myself. I welcome any more remedies you’d like to share. I would ask you not to share the remedies – through the comments that are commonly known – such as over-the-counter medicines etc.)
Salt Water Gargle:
At the first sign of a scratchy or sore throat gargle with warm salt water. I often say – oh I’ll do it later, to myself. When I force myself to do make the solution and gargle with it the sore or scratchy throat symptoms vanish.
Having some chicken soup (see link above – or you may have your own recipe). This is good for colds and flu as well as a source of good nurturing and health.
Atonic for sore throats, head colds and flu-like symptoms:
Add to mug –
½ Lemon (organic) – squeezed
1 teaspoon or tablespoon of organic local honey (if possible) [if Vegan – Stevia or Stevia Leaf and/or Mint leaves)
Chopped or sliced organic ginger root
Boil water and pour over – drink like tea
Peppermint Oil Steam:
A pot of water on your stove-top
Essential Peppermint Oil
Boil Water to a rolling boil and turn heat off. [CAUTION – When using Peppermint Oil do NOT get near or in eyes, even the steam is powerful – close eyes while steaming]
Put one to three drops of peppermint oil in boiling water. PUT TOWEL OVER YOUR HEAD AND CLOSE YOUR EYES AS YOU POSITION YOURSELF OVER THE WATER.
Breathe in peppermint oil infused water. Good for the lungs and breathing freely.
Peppermint Oil Directly on Skin:
Before moving forward make a test spot on your skin. If a reaction appears such as a redness – do not continue.
If you have a chest cold either put peppermint oil on a Q-tip, a finger or directly on your chest and spread around. [CAUTION – When using Peppermint Oil do NOT get near or in eyes] If you have it on your finger, wash your hands immediately.
Your skin will feel like it’s being burned off, but don’t be alarmed your skin is detoxing as well as chest cold and /or sinuses.
This treatment can be repeated for your sinuses just keep away from your eyes and wash your hands afterwards. [CAUTION – When using Peppermint Oil KEEP AWAY FROM EYES].
If have a fever. (If you fever is high over 102 to 105 – try cold showers or ER if fever does not come down) Make your bedroom warm. Put socks on your feet and a cap on your head. Put on mittens or socks over your hands. Get underneath the covers and sweat out the fever.
Nettie Pot Cleanse for Sinuses:
A Nettie Pot looks like a strange tea pot. Use a warm or tepid water solution with some salt dissolved in it.
Move the nozzle of the Nettie pot to your left nostril as you lower and tilt you head to the right. The water will pour through your left nostril up into your sinuses and out your right nostril thus cleansing your nostrils and sinuses.
I actually don’t like this treatment but some swear by it.
[This was a previously published post in Nov 2017 reprinted here due to a link error.]
My mother liked buying Christmas cards all year long. She had huge clear plastic bags of them in the cedar closet and elsewhere in our house.
I told people I was from the future.
In my 20s she invited me to take some to send. I took some, she said take more… So I selected bunches that were all the same painting. I wasn’t much into sending Christmas cards but I took them because my mom wanted me to have some. I think she was overwhelmed with the amount of the cards she had stored up.
Every year for many years I had many of these Christmas cards. It was impossible to send them all to people I knew – maybe I had over 100 cards.
Every since I could remember I longed for a better world as if I had a memory of this world. Perhaps I did remember a different world because I told people I was from the future. I could feel a world and people at peace with themselves, everyone in the community, not just locally but nationally and internationally. And not just with people, but will all the beings of Earth. Often we ascribe life to biological beings only, I saw and I see all beings, rock, water, air and our sun as beings.
There’s something magical about getting mail (snail mail) from yourself especially if you don’t immediately remember that you sent it.
Every year sometime in my 20s I would write a Christmas card to myself with 7 wishes written inside. Four or five were universal wishes and the other two or three were personal. There’s something magical about getting mail (snail mail) from yourself especially if you don’t immediately remember that you sent it.
I began practicing finding a sense of peace within myself
You retrieve it from the post box and look at the envelope. The writing / printing looks familiar. You rip it open and your remember that old mill in winter and your read the wishes. I stopped sending cards when I ran out and I had begun thinking that wishes were melancholy ways to stay stuck – keeping wishes as wishes that would never come true because they postponed the event into a future that didn’t exist.
Create the peace you want in yourself and be it in the world.
I began to visualize using all my senses to what world peace might feel, look, smell and be like. I began practicing finding a sense of peace within myself and finding threads that would connect peace feelings to others.
I invite you to send a snail mail card to yourself of your wishes and then visualize with your thoughts and senses and your emotions what you are creating now. Create the peace you want in yourself and be it in the world.
Cooking with love is easy and many of you most likely do this. Before elucidating the how – a story.
In the 1990s I cooked for my landlord’s wife in exchange for dollars off my rent. She had some severe food allergies. The aim was to make meals and prepare food to her specifications and keep food costs low. Her mainstay was chicken and I was a vegetarian at that time. I purchased boneless chicken breasts at Costco. When I began cooking the chicken I could feel how savagely the chickens had been killed. I had known – in the past this but had forgotten. Kosher chicken is the only chicken killed humanely to my knowledge. It was through directed love that I was able to ameliorate the effects of the violence done to these chickens – as much as possible.
I employed an exercise to activate the heart. Scientists have discovered neurons in the heart. The heart is an organ for sensing emotions, our cognitive brain givens language to delineate these emotions… The exercise is the “I-Am” exercise designed to activate feeling in the heart and allow love to expand. https://psychesweather.wordpress.com/2017/11/20/the-i-am-exercise/
I activated the “I-Am” and directed loving kindness to the chicken. Nora, my landlord’s wife reported that she felt the love in the meals.
Chicken Breast with White Wine Sauce, Asparagus and Rice (may be substituted with mashed potatoes)
These ingredients aren’t exact because it’s from memory – something I haven’t cooked for a long while.
Inner Prep Work:
Ground and pay attention to your breath as you begin and then periodically through the cooking process. Treat yourself and every ingredient with loving-kindness. As you handle each piece of meat and other ingredients infuse them with love and kindness. As you add the ingredients together project your love into them.
Long-handled wooden spoon for stirring
1 or 2 measuring cups
1 sauté pan
a table knife or spoon
a sharp knife
Gravy or sauce bowl
What’s in it:
2 to 4 boned and skinned chicken breasts (rinsed)
¼ to ½ cup white wine
½ to 1 stick of butter
1 pint of heavy cream
olive oil or butter
Some asparagus (rinsed)
Wild Rice or Brown Rice (rinsed) or 7 – 10 Yukon Gold Potatoes
What to do:
Thaw the chicken stock in advance
If you’re preparing mashed potatoes prepare them in advance while thawing the chicken stock and reheat in the microwave or oven when close to serving.
Brown the chicken in a skillet on both sides until golden brown using butter or cooking oil.
Pour in the chicken stock (liquid only) until it nearly covers the breasts and bring to a boil.
Once boiling turn heat down to medium or medium low and reduce by half.
Add butter and let melt and diffuse.
Start the rice. (Rice cookers are a good for this kind of cooking)
Pour or ladle out ½ to ¾ of stock to a small pan and add the pint of heavy cream, put on medium heat and stir occasionally. Reduce by half.
Pour mixture back into the pan with the chicken, add the wine and reduce by half or three-quarters.
While reducing cut the bottoms of the asparagus stems and steam the asparagus.
Take the breast out of the pan and place on a dish with the cooked rice and steamed asparagus.
Take the sauce or pan sauce and pour over chicken. Reserve the rest in a gravy bowl with a ladle
You can make chicken soup by making stock in advance and storing in the freezer. If you’re using more than 1 container for freezing your stock you’ll need to double up on some ingredients. I have always used one large ice cream tub. (You can substitute turkey for chicken but even for Thanksgiving I prefer Chicken over Turkey any day.) I suggest buying organically fed chickens that are “free-range”. Kosher chicken is best because they are killed in a humane manner.
Either a whole chicken or breasts, legs, wings with the bone.
1 – 2 medium sized yellow onion*
A few carrots
3-5 small boiling potatoes
Leeks and / or celery
A good white wine – Chardonnay – you can use non-alcoholic white wine or white grape juice**
4 to 8 whole cloves*
2 cloves of garlic
Dried herbs – oregano, basil, thyme, 1 or 2 bay leaves
Cooking oil – olive or grapeseed oil
Tap or filtered water such as Britta Water
A large pot with a lid
A large wooden spoon
Plastic containers (to freeze the soup in) and room in your freezer, of course
A measuring cup (unless you like improvisational cooking)
A sharp knife
A good cutting board
A mortar and pestle (optional)
What to do:
Wash the carrots, leeks and potatoes in tepid running water (cold is okay too). Or soak in a tub of water with baking soda dissolved in it. When washing the leeks cut at regular intervals and splay the sheaths open and wash thoroughly – they usually have sand grains in them and its good to get them out. Peel the onion and set aside. Peel the garlic and chop or crush in the mortar with the pestle. Chop the celery and or the leeks as desired.
De-bone the chickie and save the bones.
Pour ½ to 1 cup of the Chardonnay into a measuring cup and set aside
Coat the bottom of your pot with a generous splash of cooking oil and heat. You can tell if the oil is hot enough by running your hand under tap water or filtered water and dribbling the water into the pot. When it sizzles the oil is hot. Turn the heat on your stove down to a low flame or setting.
Add the carrots, potatoes, chopped or crushed garlic and sauté. If you using chopped celery (I don’t use it because it gets caught in my teeth –its stringy and brittle) add it last and sauté. Add the bay leaves. Add pinches of the other spices.
Next add the chicken and mix with the rest of the group, stirring it all together with the long wooden spoon. While it simmers – for 10 to 15 minutes on a very low heat go on to the next prep step.
Peel the onion and insert four whole cloves equidistant from each other in the whole onion.
Add tap, Britta or filtered water to the mix filling up about half way. Add the leeks, the onion and the bones from the chicken. Bring to a rolling boil. At boiling add the cup of good white wine (Chardonnay). Bring back to a rolling boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer and cover.
Let simmer until the carrots and potatoes are soft to a fork. Turn off heat.
Once cool pour off the liquid into the plastic containers and seal with the lids. Add the some of the chickie meat and vegetables to each container as well as some of the larger bones. Each container needs to have the onion with the 4 whole cloves stuck in.
Use the stock as a starter. – Add more chicken with or without bones, carrots, garlic – chopped onion, garlic and chopped red peppers sautéed in the bottom of the pot, add the stock including the onion with the cloves in it – or not. Add rice, barley, noodles or not.
I originally made chicken stock because I was planning on making a sauce with heavy cream, so bear in mind your stock doesn’t have to contribute only to chicken soup.
* When doubling-up on onions and cloves if you’re using more than one container for storage – remember you’re making stock – not soup. When you make stock it’s the broth you’ll be using as a base for soup or sauces mostly.
** When alcohol is using in cooking most of the alcohol is burned off but not all. So if you’re particularly sensitive to alcohol switch to non-alcoholic wines or white grape juice – not too sweet. Using good wine means you’ll have a good flavor. Use a bad wine or grocery store “cooking wine” it makes your food taste cheap and can spoil a dish.
On an early Sunday morning in February of 1983 my best friend Kent and I went to Sonoma and the Valley of the Moon.
I had moved to the Stockton area in 1982 to live and work with Bhante – the Dharmawara Mahathera and learn Vipassana Meditation in greater depth. However I rebelled against being a devotee – something he had wanted (not me) and moved out.
Hanging out at the Blackwater Café in Stockton I came to know Kent. We became good friends. He introduced me to the magic of Sonoma.
His introduction was replete with great wisdom and insight.
I am eternally grateful to him for opening the door to my home.
We left around 6 am in the dusk of a cold morning on that February. He drove his van with his dog and me across the delta towards Sonoma. He had a knack for introducing me to the magic of Sonoma and the Valley of the Moon with his mythic-poetic musings peppered into our conversations.
We missed Bill at perform with his guitar at the church. We met Bill and his wife Shirley at the First Congregational Church on West Spain Street in Sonoma at the tail end of the 7 am Service. Then Kent drove us to their cabin near the top of Moon Mountain Drive in Sonoma. We ate brunch and talked.
My third eye opened wide upon entry into the Sonoma Valley.
Kent and I took a short walk on the fire trail to the south of their house and he waxed on about castles in Europe appearing out of the fog – such as the fog in the valley.
Something quite unexpected had happened that day. I digress – that for the past 18 months I had been doing an inner exercise – a meditation in the morning to create light for the “soul’s body” and open the 3rd eye. My third eye opened wide upon entry into the Sonoma Valley.
I felt the town welcomed me, just as Mount Diablo “spoke” to me about becoming a healer. Of course the impressions didn’t come in English but I translated them into language for a better understanding. At first I explained the opening of my Third Eye by all the spiritual work that was done by others in the valley.
Many years after another answer came to me in a softer manner. It was the land herself, the configuration of the Valley of the Moon and the power center (the Plaza) of Sonoma Valley that has been a source of mystery and powerful transformation. I believe the way in which Kent introduced me to Sonoma and the Valley was replete with great wisdom and insight. I am eternally grateful to him for opening the door to my home.
Towards the end of this Field of Dreams film clip Burt Lancaster’s character Doc Graham makes a powerful statement about “home”. This is how it is for me in Sonoma.