Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Reflections on the season, finally living in the seasons. This is courtesy of one of my teachers, Diane Sherman, whose journaling courses I find tremendously inspiring.... “Whenever there is pain of any kind--the pain of aggression, grieving, loss, irritation, resentment, jealousy, indigestion, physical pain--if you really look into that, you can find out for yourself that behind the pain there is always something we are attached to. There is always something we're holding on to... ...After a while it seems like almost every moment of your life you're there, at a point where you realize you actually have a choice. You have a choice whether to open or close, whether to hold on or let go, whether to harden or soften... It requires enormous patience even to be curious enough to look, to investigate. And then when you realize you have a choice, and that there’s actually something there that you’re attached to, it requires great patience to keep going into it. Because you will want to go into denial, to shut down. You’re going to say to yourself, "I don't want to see this." You'll be afraid, because even if you're starting to get close to it, the thought of letting go is usually very frightening. You may feel that you're going to die, or that something is going to die. And you will be right. If you let go, something will die. But it's something that needs to die and you will benefit greatly from its death. On the other hand, sometimes it's easy to let go. If you make this journey of looking to see if there's something you’re holding on to, often it's going to be just a little thing. Once when I was stuck with something huge, Trungpa Rinpoche gave me some advice. He said, "It's too big; you can't let go of it yet, so practice with the little ones. Just start noticing all the little ways you hold when it’s actually pretty easy and just get the hang of letting go." (Pema Chodron)

Sunday, January 06, 2013

A happy new Year to all! As we trying to unravel the mystery of perfect health, one action that certainly would help in almost any case is adopting a good anti-inflammatory diet. Start the year right, and much health to you and yours!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Welcome to a new and highly anticipated blogger - http://cowcumbers.blogspot.com/ Shannon's wonderful work with natural materials and textures never ceases to amaze. I hope you bookmark and follow Shannon Donovan, ceramic artist and dearest friend.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

A link to my recent internet radio talk about Chinese Medicine - we discussed the basic diagnostic principles and tools of Chinese Medicine, the way various imbalances may lead to disease, and the way the patient and practitioner may form a partnership in working toward a better paradigm of health. http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TC-120341/TS-640654.mp3

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

And now... The much awaited River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh

River of SmokeRiver of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent sequel - lots of it is still about language and communicating and error and chance. It reads like a big vortex of historical, as well as personal events, but I feel it is more controlled and metered in its impact than Sea of Poppies, which was like a whirlwind of color, language and passion colliding over 500 pages of text. In fact, much of the novel is comprised of correspondence - between the characters, the political figures, the merchants and the government, to the point that it almost forms a novel within a novel. That creates an interesting contrast to the narration of the events presented as unfolding "in real time", without taking away the build up of the tension to the end of the part of the trilogy. Finally, some of the narrative is told or summoned up in pictorial form, whether by the lay person or the trained professional. This is probably not the place to delve into communication theory, but like the historical novels of Umberto Eco, Ghosh's narratives are multilayered and semantically complex, especially if the reader is inclined to dwell on issues of meaning and their consequence.

Another huge area of interest for me in this book is the history of China (being involved in Chinese medical arts), and little that I formally know about China's history, the book brings it to the reader in a vivid and engaging form that makes for a fine introduction to further study.

I am truly looking forward to the final installment of the trilogy - it is definitely some of the best and most fascinating reading of he past 2 years.


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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Real Food: What to Eat and WhyReal Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Many times, telling others that your current read is a book on diet and nutrition will only elicit a raised eyebrow or a jaw-breaking yawn. After all, everyone tells us what to eat, and what is not good for us. Yet, we all know that no matter how the dietary rules change, the prevalence, or as the common term goes, "epidemic", of obesity and systemic disease, never seems to budge even slightly. As we continue consuming our relatively healthy varied Mediterranean based diet, we occasionally wonder why...



This book was such an unexpected breath of fresh air that I spent weeks with it, highlighting, bookmarking and cross-referencing, while ignoring other exciting reads on my kindle and a stack of books on my desk. We all know that what we put in our bodies is important, but how often do we make the connections and finally see the big picture?Traditional food has gotten a lot of attention lately, but to actually come out and say that it's the fat and salt and the whole unprocessed content of it that make us feel healthy... Yet, it makes perfect sense. It is no wonder that patients do not thrive on hospital food, but the lucky ones to get the home-made stuff brought in by their families heal faster and fight off the ailments in no time. In Chinese medicine, my area of health care, cooking for the patient, or at least discussing cooking appropriate foods with the patient and family, is a requirement for successful treatment.



Nina Planck does it all: she takes every traditional food that has been vilified by the medical establishment for being a putative cause of every possible major health problem and rehabilitates it in the eye of the reader. While doing that, she also restores the rightful status of the farmer or artisan who produces it. And after that is done, she compares it to what it has been replaced with, often in the name of health, in the course of industrial food evolution in the latest century. This comparison inevitably makes one very sad - it turns out most food shoppers not know what real beef, chicken, egg, milk and cheese or for that matter, apple, corn or orange, taste like... Consequently, the nutrient benefits of these foods, however much touted, on the packaging and in the press, are completely unavailable to most of us.



Ms. Planck does not stop there - she shows exactly why the traditional, full-fat, cholesterol, salt, etc. foods are better for our health, and how all the nutrients work synergistically to protect us from disease, while the industrial improvements usually deplete these foods of their beneficial qualities and even lead to the development of many modern-age conditions. The book, not unlike writings on Chinese dietary therapy, makes a strong case for the omnivore diet, however, it does so without knocking down other ways to choose and combine foods, but rather through comparing potential benefits and hazards of both.



The chapters dedicated to the discussion of macro- and micronutrients contain references to some in-depth research; however, Nina Planck makes this research understandable and accessible to the reader by listing ways to obtain these nutrients from common foods, as well as by avoiding industrial food pitfalls. She also explains the politics behind the current dietary recommendations and demystifies the slow progress of popular nutritional wisdom, exemplified by the prevalence of fad diets and marketing tricks from mass manufacturers and fast food chains.



As if this was not enough praise for the book and the courageous author, who has single handedly taken on every single major food lobby in the name of Real Food, she goes on to provide a glossary, a research reference, a list of suppliers of organic sustainably produced food, and an extensive further reading list for those of us looking for answers to our modern ailments where it matters most - right in our own kitchens.



Nina Planck's book is highly recommended. Some recent research shows that close to 30% of people on this side of the pond do not know how to cook food... Part of it is undoubtedly due to the fact that proper real ingredients are unavailable to most of us, while the stuff commonly known as food, is not worth trying. Before that dying art completely disappears, leaving us sucking space meals out of the aluminium tube while dying of malnutrition and a host of other problems, let us try to reclaim what is ours - real nutrition, real nutrients and our health.... Educating ourselves about these elusive notions would make a nice first step.



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Monday, December 27, 2010


Again, months have passed since I posted here. I do have to say that it is not so much for lack of interest but for the sheer awe at the simple challenges of life that have come to meet my family head on in this passing year 2010. Sometimes we are compelled to verbalize our experiences, sometimes silence would suffice. I felt the latter was more in order. The issue is not what these challenges were or how they affected my family's private life, the issue is to carry on with awareness. If you are standing on your two feet you have been blessed. Take nothing for granted - be affected by everything. Cherish your friends - without them you are lost, believe me. Live every moment like it is THE MOMENT. You can talk about it in your yoga class, but it is not the same as being there for that MOMENT, and if you have, you will understand what I am saying (in fact, I have not been to a yoga class this year - the whole plane of existence is now my yoga class, as the trivial saying goes, "my practice off the mat"). Don't worry about the little petty things - they annoy all of us, but in the end, this will not define how you've lived your day - that is, unless you let them to...
Show compassion, because you may not know when you want some too from the cosmic vortex. Step slowly over the threshold into 2011 - and be grateful for every moment of grace with your family and loved ones, who may be near or far. Many blessings to all, and wishes of health and harmony in 2011. Om Namah Shivaya.