Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Free Distance Energywork to Simplify Your Life

I put together a free distance energywork blessing to help you clean up the clutter in your life on all levels so that you are one with your spirit in thought, word, action, relationship, and surroundings!


Check it out at:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Blessing for Healthy Skin and Loving Touch!

This is a free blessing for you and for the world!

And Did I Mention... Read the Labels...

Really, amuse yourself sometime. Read the labels on your food purchases. Read the ingredients. You will find corn syrup, salt, sugar, strange fats at the tops of the lists of most processed foods. From ketchup (even though it counts as a vegetable!) to salad dressings to "natural" fruit juices. Yesterday I was in a bread store selecting some mass produced bread for my sister. I eyed the high-fiber version, thinking that would be good for the family. Then I read the label. Corn syrup! As often when one thing is added or promoted something ugly rears it's head! The low sodium things have excess sugar/corn syrup. The low sugar things, have excess salt. The organic food movement has brought "cane juice", organic sugar, "sea salt". I find them easier on my body, though I still prefer to cook/make my own things the best.

"Sea salt" may not be that much closer than iodized salt to things like Celtic sea salt as far as properties. Myself I prefer to get my sugar for the day out of organic raisins or sweet corn... those are the things I use to sweeten my foods. As far as "processed" sweeteners, I think brown rice syrup or barley malt suits me best. I never use them in my own cooking.

I've lived for years without sugar in my kitchen... well when I had a kitchen! The other day, I wave of information came out on email lists about drug resistant staph infections. A friend of mine said he had combated an infection with herbal medicines. He discovered it was imperative to eliminate sugar from his diet. It took him a year to heal. What intrigues me is if he had to eliminate sugar from his diet to heal, how much does mass consumption of sugar impair our immune systems?

I feel the difference in what I eat. It's proportionate. If I'm burning a lot of calories with exercise and down an ice cream... I probably won't notice it. But if I start having ice cream every day, I find it wears my body down. I find if I have been away from processed foods and sweets, they taste horrible when I try them. Yet if I eat them a few days in a row, I get used to them.

My approach is to avoid processed foods. I can whip up a vegetarian stir fry from scratch (fresh produce) in about 40-60 minutes, and that will be enough for a couple of days. It feels good, whole, tasty.

Experiment with yourself. If you are feeling great, no need to change anything. Love what you eat, and eat what you love.

Meditate, Meditate, Meditate

Speaking of advice for myself and other wanderers, whether it's about the world or about your armchair, what I continually find as I try to surrender to where my silly Spirit takes me... is that conditions often aren't ideal, or don't seem to be. Like for me sitting in the suburbs. Drawn into my Mom's healthcare.

But there is always one thing I can do. Well this is one of those one things that's five things. Meditate. Feel the Reiki. Be the witness to my life and thereby tap into the Unconditional Love and Joy around. The trick is to do whatever it takes to find that place of BEING, and then carry that way of BEING into what you are doing. Meditation is not an escape. Reiki is not an escape. They are tools to be Present. The trick is to learn how to BE and carry that BEING into the eye of the storm.

And at the same time, remember your power. Stop and set some intentions. Remember what reality you are choosing with your thoughts and actions.




Move your body.

Break the cycle.






Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Resources for the Wandering Mystic

I was feeling down the other day. Feeling a bit sure that I wasn't really nurturing myself in the suburbs here, yet feeling called to still be here to somehow help with my Mother's health care. My vision of being a wandering mystic is to appear out of the mist into peoples lives with a laugh and a rattle. Do some magic. Be compensated or know the Universe will plop down what I need for me around the next bend.

The reality is I'm sitting in the suburbs which I despise... give me a city or wilderness any day. My magical appearing lovers are not here. My never ending state of bliss is not here. My leaping, jumping, climbing, running like a 20 something backpacker full of yoga, light, love, physical prowess is not here.

I find myself sucked into the computer to write this, try to make it make money for me... affiliate programs, adsense,... nonsense. Researching a new bank for my international travels. Researching a PDA or Asus Eee 4G-Galaxy 7" PC Mobile Internet Device ( 512 MB RAM, 4 GB Hard Drive, Webcam, Linux Preloaded) Black for my travels. Spinning in my head. Sitting at this electric box. Maybe I don't even want to "do the computer". Maybe I don't want to get into depending on this for a money income reality. I get so little feed back from these writings, I don't know whether anyone cares. I realize I need to market them much more broadly. Not sure I want to. Not sure my writings are good enough. Do I want to take the time to make them good enough? Trying to remember that I have infinite abundance when my bank account is at $1300 and I'm so far below the poverty level it ain't funny... except it is because I'm probably one of the most free, well traveled people in the USA... and certainly in the world, considering the billions that live in "third world" conditions.

I sent out a prayer request for my Mother. I wish I could just shake a rattle, snap my fingers, and witness her heal herself in front of me like so many other clients have. But my Mom isn't so open to alternative medicine. I did Reiki her once several years ago, but received no comment. My insecurities come up when I think of offering it to her now.

I wish I could walk in a room like Jesus or Buddha and watch people heal. At the same time having fun and enjoying myself.

I haven't mastered that yet.

And so I was sulking two nights ago. Yet I put out a prayer request for my Mothers health and for me to get in my groove. I lay down to sleep and awoke two hours later buzzing with energy. Things were moving. I saw my patterns of worry. I saw how rather than center my life on the computer I might just walk out and BE and let clients happen. There is even a possibility to blend... to use the computer when I want to. Like at this moment I am getting a charge as I write.

I awoke the next morning, groggy from a night of broken sleep. I checked my email and found a letter "from an admirer".. a woman I had met in India briefly. I had hoped to visit with her more. She shined bright to me... in the midst of a long fast, just down from the mountains. It turns out that I have inspired her with my wandering mysticism... or rather my blogs of self proclaimed attempts at being a wandering mystic.

She was turning down a $95,000/year job because it was no longer calling to her, and she felt called to the life of a wandering mystic. Yet she wasn't sure what a wandering mystic is.

And so I pondered that a moment. I realized I don't really have a role model. I have faint glimpses of a dream of an old man roaming around the world carrying nothing because he is too busy living to record his life, too busy trusting and manifesting to carry much junk. Lovers appear for him do what he will. Money, food, material needs are fulfilled for him do what he will. He is an outdoor adventurer. He is a healer and show up to where he is called to help who he is called to heal. He is a gardener. He is one with the Earth. Something like a cross between Peace Pilgrim, a shaman, Woody Guthrie, Pan, Drukpa Kunley, Christ, Buddha, Aron Ralston, Walt Whitman, and John Muir with a healthy dose of Radical Faerie Magic! I've embellished that description more than ever before. I have a sense that that is to be me. And yet I feel like I'm not doing that yet. I guess maybe I have a process to go through to learn it. Or sometimes I think that is just not really me. I don't know.

In the meantime, I have thought of a few books that strike me as inspirations for the wandering mystic:

Carlos Castanada's books on Don Juan.
The Divine Madman - The Sublime Life and Songs of Drukpa Kunley
Diary of a Tantric Priestess
John Muir. Not sure what I read... autobiography or biography of him.
Mutant Message Down Under, Tenth Anniversary Edition
Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words
The Songlines
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel
Leaves of Grass: The Original 1855 Edition (Thrift Edition)
The Wandering Taoist
The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want
Loving Comrades: Walt Whitman's Homosexual Loves (Garland Gay and Lesbian Studies)
The Wisdom of the Ancient One: An Inca Initiation

Koyaanisqatsi - Life Out of Balance
Latcho Drom
1 Giant Leap
Powaqqatsi - Life in Transformation


This group tours S.E.Asia on bicycles! Sometimes street performers are the best mystics, using theater to heal:

This man is making a moneyless pilgrimage based on the idea of sharing. His website promotes sharing space:

Magical Mystical Country Creamer

Continuing in the vein of the mystical in the mundane, I encountered some real magic the other day. My 12 yo niece (who became vegetarian at age 4 when she found out that meat came from animals) was making a “milkshake” the other day. She was using something called “Country Creamer” since there wasn't any milk in the house. When I scoffed at the idea of making a milkshake with creamer, my niece exclaimed “It's Trans-fat free and sugar free!” I laughed in disbelief. “No, it is. It says so right there!”, she exclaimed pointing to the carton.

Thinking she was joking, I said, “Where?” and picked up the carton. I started reading the ingredients outloud, “Water, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil. High fructose corn syrup, sodium caseinate (a milk derivative*), dipotassium phosphate, mono and diglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate. (*not a source of lactose). Then in bold print: 'contains milk'.” I didn't know if the “contains milk” point was a warning or an announcement.

“Where”, I exclaimed, “where's the milk? It must be in the caseinate, I guess.” I said to my niece, “No, it's not fat free and sugar free... it's full of corn syrup!” “Uncle Rob! It is so sugar free... look there!” she said... and pointed to the “Nutrition Facts” table on the carton. Sure enough, it said 0 grams of sugar! And 0g of Trans Fat. It did have 1.5 of total fat... nothing much. My jaw dropped.

I wondered in amazement at how this corn syrup laden cocktail could be sugar free. Now this is truly magic!

Meanwhile my nephew pulled out the mint, cookies-and-cream frozen yogurt. I considered indulging in some. Then I read the label: nonfat milk, sugar, cultured nonfat milk*, corn syrup, cookies (sugar, wheat flour, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oils, cocoa processed with alkali, corn syrup, corn flour, corn starch, chocolate, salt, sodium bicarbonate, natural & artificial flavor, lecithin), maltodextrin, calcium carbonate, cellulose gel, cellulose gum, mono & diglycerides, polysorbate 80, carrageenan, oil of peppermint, blue 1, yellow 4, vitamin A (*contains active yogurt cultures). I laughed at this magic... this stuff was more like milk and corn syrup with a dash of active yogurt culture! My mind went into shock worse than that from a cold mouth of ice cream at the thought of people who bought frozen yogurt thinking it was somehow healthier than ice cream.

Turns out the ice cream may have been the “healthiest” thing in the bunch made out of primarily milk and corn syrup.

My sister arrived home and was dismayed to learn that the Country Creamer wasn't cream and milk.. which is what one might assume “half and half” type products were. She happened to have another product other than “country creamer”, which called itself “half and half”. It's first three ingredients were nonfat milk, corn syrup, and cream. My sister was shocked to learn it wasn't simply milk and cream! She exclaimed, “I didn't know I was buying sugar or corn syrup!”

I grimaced at the thoughts of countless people buying these products, assuming they were simply milk and cream. I thought of all the diabetics who buy these things are are getting corn syrup without realizing it. Even sadder because the sugars somehow don't register on the nutritional labels. I thought of all the people thinking that this frozen yogurt was somehow healthier than ice cream. Reading juice labels makes me wonder how the FDA defines natural, fruit juice, and no additives. If you read your juice bottles, you will find it hard to avoid corn syrup. No wonder diabetes and obesity are burgeoning statistics. In researching proper water intake and hydration, I learned that drinking soda and juices is a major source of empty calories.

I thought of how these western products may someday overtake the third world, and how that might affect their health. Thailand and India already love their white sugar. Carnation sweetened condensed milk is quite popular in the street vendors of Thailand. In the Himalaya, a traditional soup was made with homemade noodles out of local grain flour. I noticed that in my recent trip I rarely found the homemade noodles in the soup... more often it was those little packets squiggly instant noodles. The homemade noodles fill me up... but those packaged ones don't stick to my ribs at all. Still, much of the diet in India and Thailand seems to be what I would consider “whole foods” made of fresh vegetables, meats, and whole grains. Corporate manufactured goods have made a few inroads with noodles and sauces, but the local vegetable and meat vendor still provide most of the food stuffs.

I don't know how I got started reading labels. I vaguely remember my mom telling me to check the salt and/or sugar contents on canned corn years ago. Somewhere along the line, I got so I always read the ingredients and nutritional content of whatever I buy. Somewhere I heard corn syrup wasn't so healthy and soon discovered that if you ruled out msg, excessive salt, sugar, and corn syrup, you would not buy much processed food. Even the “health food”, new aged vegetarian, and “organic” products are often full of “cane juice” or organic sugar. With the current understanding of fats, you might throw out the hydrogenated fats, and that would likely discard most of the grocery store. A year or two ago Hannaford Grocery started rating foods with a 1,2,3 star system according to the healthiest foodstuffs. It was quite admirable, as it pretty much dismissed the majority of the products they sold as being unhealthy! About the only thing that was considered healthy was fresh fruits and vegetables. I think pasta was neutral.

I thought everyone read the labels! I mean to me it's common sense. I want to know what I'm buying and what I'm eating. I learn interesting things about soymilks for instance. Filtered water is often the first ingredient. Second can sometimes be sugar or cane juice. Or it might actually be soybeans. I usually go for the brown rice syrup sweetened ones. Sometimes they are 80 cal/serving and other times up to 120 cal/serving. Some have more protein than others. So sometimes the bargain brands are just watered down! I especially enjoy reading the ingredients on things that say “just like Mom used to make”. They usually have something like modified food starch (which I've identified as a taste I don't enjoy), or di-postassium something or other that I never saw in my Mom's pantry.

I don't know how the FDA comes up with it's definitions. I read the ingredients on so called “natural” products and find things I wouldn't consider natural. Like cellulose in pre-grated Parmesan cheese; it keeps the bits of cheese from sticking together. I imagine cellulose also grates ones digestion! I've heard that “farm fresh” eggs can be up to a year old. I saw some goldfish crackers that said “natural”. They don't seem like natural fish to me! The flour in them is white and full of chemicals. Then they have baking powder, too. “natural” to me conjures images of whole grains, and simple foodstuffs. On a broader scale, it makes me think of things I could just pluck from the earth, though I am much too jaded now to expect that.

It's like the diaper service truck I saw that said “good for the Earth!” Like a truck and linen diapers somehow pamper Mother Earth? Now walking out and planting a tree, that might be good for the Earth! But extracting metals and chemicals to make laundry machines and soaps, and trucks and petrol, then burning coal to make electricity to pump the water out of the earth and spin the dirty diapers round and round, draining the soiled water into the ground, and bake them til they are toasty dry, to put them on junior's bottom? That's “good” for the Earth? I guess I'll go have a baby so I can help the Earth out! I know it's better than plastic disposable diapers. Just like “natural” gold fish are relatively closer to something that I might be able to produce on a farmstead.

I heard once that if you want something to have lots of flavor, you need salt, sugar, or fat. I don't think that's true. Look at a garden ripe tomato! But take a cardboard, factory farmed tomato, bred for storage and shipping qualities, and picked green, and you'd better add something to it! And so the food manufacturers do. If you ever take a break from processed foods, and reduce your salt, and sugar use, you will find that when you re-enter the world of processed food all you taste is salt or sugar. If you read the labels you will find, that the salt free things are laden with sugar, and vice versa. At first it will taste horrid to you. But if you keep at it a couple days, the processed stuff will taste normal to you. Plus they tend to be addictive... so you eat more and buy more. Ever wonder why it's hard to stop eating that bag of chips? There is even some evidence that corn syrup with it's empty calories keeps us hungry for more ( and

Not that I put much stock in the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA )since I heard it was based on what fattened rats up in laboratories (lately I read that it's recommended levels... not optimum levels), but if you look at (RDA) and the serving sizes of your chips or cookies, you will find you can easily get all the fat and salt you need, quickly! Not to mention, the serving sizes often have no comparison to how much people actually eat. If you really want your dose of salt, read the label on tomato and vegetable juices!

What gets me is things like why do they add sugar to raisins? I love plain raisins. They are naturally sweet. Like adding sugar to sweet potatoes. You take a perfectly good food, and smother it's flavor. Well, I'm afraid I know part of the answer. In vegetable seed production, it's known that shipping quality and storage life are inversely proportional to flavor and nutrition. Further studies have shown that chemically produced vegetables are less tasty and nutritious than their organic counterparts. And because our nation is addicted to having seasonal vegetables and fruits in all seasons from all corners of the world, no doubt the flavor is sacrificed. In other things, like peanut butter, the manufacturers sell off the highly valued peanut oil, and replace it with cheap hydrogenated fats. Americans can stuff themselves full of cheapened foods.

I don't really understand why the people making this stuff make it like that. Do they really think it good? Tasty? Healthy? Are they that callous? I guess I can understand if they really believe in their product. Like my sister told me of a major multivitamin that was reported to be un-assimilateable because of the binders. Why does the company sell that stuff? Don't they care about their customers.

I try to love what I eat. I realize that in the quantum paradigm I have some stories about food that may not serve me. And yet I feel like I usually feel better and things taste better if they are more simple and closer to whole, natural, identifiable ingredients. On one hand, I feel like if someone is vibrating in Unconditional Love and Joy, and really loving their boxed, manufactured cream pie that's full of some of DuPont's best chemicals for better living, then that's fabulous! They will live a long and healthy life. But if you are not believing in what you are eating, and you are not feeling well, maybe reading the ingredients and choosing things differently will help you feel better.

I'd rather have real cream, fat yogurt, and milk, than processed additive laden 0 trans fat mumbo jumbo. I do like yogurt, but am amazed at how hard it can be to find yogurt. The low fat stuff is full of chemical fillers, and often hydrogenated something or other. The fruit flavored yogurt is full of sugars or corn syrup. Give me the cream on top yogurt that is pure any day! It tastes real! Somewhere I read a few years ago that the homogenized fats simply pass right through the intestinal walls into the bloodstream, while the natural fats are too big and slide right through the body. And gee when I get some “real” ice cream or yogurt, it is satisfying.

A few years ago I learned that Celtic sea salt has the same mineral content as blood. Compare that to iodized table salt (sodium chloride). I was told that table salt strips minerals out of the body. Celtic sea salt is pricey, but it does taste different... more fulfilling. I compare how I feel when I eat a bunch of cheap chips versus homemade popcorn with Celtic sea salt... the Celtic sea salt feels better to me.

A couple of years ago, I went camping with some friends and was shocked at what they purchased in the grocery store. I would say we are shared similar political convictions, favoring sustainable, small scale growth. For me, a trip to the grocery store is about nurturing myself, and trying to support sustainable businesses. It is a form of political action. My friends went willy nilly through the store loading the card with cheap foods. I have a system. I read labels. I avoid msg, hydrogenated fats, sugar, corn syrup, excess salt, and corporate conglomerates. I read the price. I compare the quality and quantity of calories per dollar.

They picked out a some noodle soups, 10 for a dollar. I found some that were three for a dollar, minus the msg. Later I got a headache. I told one of my friends I thought it might be from msg. He looked at me, Mr. Empowerment, and said, “I am surprised at you. For someone so empowered, you have a lot of negative stories about food!” For several years I have pondered that. On one level, it is true. Ram Das' guru ate a sheet of LSD with absolutely no effect. The last couple of years I have attempted to transcend my food “issues”... to eat what comes my way. Yet in my travels I have found that I look young for my age and am quite healthy relative to other people. I have tried to trek and travel when conditions seem less than ideal. I have tried to pray my body into hydration, and nutritional bliss. I think what I have found is it doesn't work. That it is perhaps easier to just drink more water or eat more appropriately. And yet, I will admit that I believe that if I were truly vibrating at my highest frequency, I could transcend perceived water and food needs. The challenge is what to do when we aren't feeling that vibration?

I've run across similar challenges in other paths. At one point, I realized that if I truly wanted to live sexually transmitted love and joy, perhaps I ought throw away condoms. At one point, I realized that if I truly wanted to trust a loving universe and ingest only love, I ought to throw away my water filter and bottled water. It is the same with foods. The resolution I came to for such things was to be in the moment. If the room was vibrating in total love and I had no fear of STD or HIV, then, sure, throw away the condom. But if the back of my mind was more in the front and loaded with fear and worry, then keep the condom.

The water snook up on me. A few months ago I sat in a room in Rishikesh. My stomach upset, I popped a mint-gel cap in my mouth and realized I had no drinking water. My throat began to burn from the mint. Yet I was in the midst of a mystical state. My body vibrated in energy. I didn't want to run out for drinking water. A bottle of sacred water from the Ganga in Varanasi sat on my altar. A voice said, “Drink the Ganga water!”. I thought, “no way.” Then before my eyes flashed the vision I had held for myself to laugh at the idea of the loving Earth poisoning us with water. I realized that this was indeed the time to try it. I knew it was OK. Because I was in such a state that I had little doubt. I was feeling the energy of the Universe. I drank some Ganga water. I was fine. My stomach upset cleared.

And so it is with food. If you are happy and healthy, don't bother changing what you are doing! If not, you can change your attitude through meditation, or change your body with your food choices.

I sit and write this. I want to throw out my food judgments. I realize what I want to focus on is Being the Vibration. And yet there seems a dilemma in that. Making food choices that suit me can carry me into the Vibration from the ground up. Making mind choices, and Meditating can bring me there from the Spirit down. We cannot depend on outside sources for our joy, and yet sometimes they can catalyze us into our joy.

The secret is to be Present. Perhaps in one moment, the corn syrup product is the thing to eat... and another moment it may be the pure cream. You can take in the corn syrup and pray it perfect for your can love it. And you can also make other choices in other present moments.

And now back to our regular feature... the Country Creamer! I am truly amazed at how the Country Creamer can be full of corn syrup and yet contain “no sugars”! That is a modern miracle! Truly more mystical than my wildest Reiki session!

Enjoy what you eat! And read the labels if you dare! Be Mystical. Be Sensible. Be Either. Or Both!!!

Food Vitality - LOVE!

When I used to farm, seeds formed a major focus of my endeavors. In farming and gardening, it is common knowledge that seeds have a vitality. For many plants the newer the seed, the more vital. A packet of 5 year old seeds could be worthless. The seed storage conditions impact the vitality greatly: cool dry temperatures being the best.

I think the vitality issue carries right over into food. Oils can go rancid in a few days. Vitamins, minerals, and subtle biochemistries can change within a short time from harvest. In sweet corn, for instance, sugars change to starch during storage. Other crops, such as potatoes and winter squash store well for a longer period of time. Processing can affect storage characteristics. Dried sweet corn or popcorn for example will keep better than fresh sweet corn. Yet, grinding corn into cornmeal exposes the grain particles to air and reduces shelf life. Many flours and grains are processed to take the vital/vulnerable nutrients out of them and increase shelf life.

Modern vegetable hybrids are chosen for storage and appearance characteristics which are inversely proportional to flavor and nutrient content. Chemically farmed vegetables have less nutrients/minerals than vegetables grown in rich, balanced organic soil. Take a handful of humusy soil and think how much is going on there, compared to an aquarium like hydroponic medium. Pesticides kill life and reduce the complexity and richness of the plant environment.

Our modern American life favors quantity over quality. Mega markets offer us great quantities at a low price. I was reading that a major superstore was offering a gallon jar of pickles for $3! Who eats a gallon of pickles? Our pantries burgeon with bulk packaged cheap foods. When I lived in San Francisco, I was fortunate to have a local grocery where I could buy bulk items... meaning I could take what I needed from a bulk bin and pay wholesale price. I could buy a table spoon of cardamon. This saved me money and kept my food fresh. No five year old tins of herbs and spices in my pantry.

Living in East Coast suburbs lately has left me more dependent on chain stores and corporate chains. Marketers have picked up on the perceived lack of time in our lives and offer produce pre washed and chopped to bits in plastic bags. Whole carrots are virtually obselete, along with heads of lettuce, and bunches of greens. Sometimes they coat these chopped up bits with preservatives which may contribute to food allergies.

I feel a certain void with all this prepackaged, processed food. I've been trying to wrap my head around it. I know on one hand that freezing and refrigeration preserve things and some nutrients. And yet there seems some quality that lacks in a frozen burrito compared to a fresh made one. Even dried beans cooked fresh seem to have something over canned beans.

I see how easy it is to buy cheap food and store it in the pantry, freezer, and refrigerator. It's easy to eat a complete diet of food a year or more old! Without any standard of freshness we can't tell the difference. Enough salt, sugar, hydrogenated fat, and corn syrup can mask anything and make it all taste the same.

In the quantum paradigm, I wonder if it's all in my head? a victim of my own food wisdom and judgments? and yet I feel a difference in my body based on what I eat. I think of Ram Das' guru who ate a sheet of LSD and remained unaffected. And I think of my body and the glee it felt after eating raw food meals prepared by a chef and friend of mine. And then there are times when I've eaten frozen pizza or hamburgers and chips with such glee and run up mountains.

Probably when I've truly been happy and hungry, it hasn't mattered so much what I eat. And yet other times what I eat can fuel my appetite and happiness.

I think it can all be summed up in food vitality. There is life force and chi in our food. You can see it in the vibrant green of spinach out of the garden, and you can it's lack in year old frozen spinach quiche. You can feel in in viable almonds, and note the subtle difference in flash pasteurized almonds. I think there are subtle chemical compounds that are beyond the vitamin mineral contents determined by turning something to ash.

And on the other side, there is LOVE. The Love or lack of love that go into the food along it's path from garden to mouth. That Love can transmute a whole angry chain. A loving chef can transmute even lackluster ingredients into pure prana. And the lustful eater can transmute the whole food chain if their love is pure.

I think of the animals and plants that (in the empowerment paradigm) have chosen to give their lives for us. If we eat them with shame, fear, ingratitude, then we have not honored them at all. If we eat something with the consciousness that it will make us ill, then we are doing ourselves an injustice. Regardless of whether that plant or animal was raised in torturous conditions or at the hands of loving care givers, the final person in the chain has the ultimate say.

The single most important thing you can do with your food is Love it and be Grateful for it!

That can transform everything along the food chain. That is why the diet craze is so flippant in the effects of a given diet. Dieters are merely loving themselves by feeding themselves according to some plan that makes sense to them. There is great difference between eating fast food fries made by an frustrated worker with an acknowledgment that you know that food is not healthy for you, and eating homemade fries made with love from potatoes you believe are healthy for you. And even then, there is a difference for someone who loves their fast food fries without shame, guilt, or belief in their potential harm.

One of my friends gets acupuncture weekly and his acupuncturist got after him to change his diet. My friend, instead of changing his diet, took the approach of trying to love what he eats and eat what he loves. At his next acupuncture appointment, his acupuncturist thought he had changed his diet!

Our reality and science is confused as our quantum consciousness realities overlap with the cultural whims of the day. We see 30 yo smokers die from cancer while some 100 yo smokers survive. To confuse matters more, there is even evidence that newer generations are more resilient, more adapted to the chemical conditions of the times. Some people thrive on raw food, others on vegetables, others as omnivores, others on virtually all meat diets.

I find I feel and enjoy best eating the most "whole" foods I can. Sometimes I prefer cooked foods, other times not. I like most of my food to be something someone's great, great grandmother would recognize as food. I prefer the freshest least processed ingredients. I avoid corn syrup, white flour, and white sugar like the plague. And yet I try to let myself live and enjoy where I am. A scoop of ice cream doesn't bother me. A steak doesn't bother me. But eating steak and ice cream everyday I feel throws me out of balance.

The bottom line for me: eat vital food. The vitality can come from you, or the food, or both. Love what you eat, and eat what you love.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Conscious Consumering

I shook myself up a bit this week. I was showing my 12 yo niece The Meatrix. She decided she wasn't going to eat dead animals when she was 4 yo! After watching The Meatrix, she asked me and her family why we were eating poisoned meat. I'd slacked off my vegetarianism the last years, in part because I felt a need for different protein sources, and in part because of the challenges of restricting one's diet when traveling and visiting different cultures. I also have realized that factory produced vegetables are in many ways destructive to the environment and local animal habitats. Vegetables are as much a part of divine life and deserve respect also. My biggest preference is for small scale, local production whether it's for meat or vegetable.

After my niece went to bed, I went to the PETA website and watched a video on meat production. It was gruesome. It shook me up. All of my farm experience was on farms where animals actually had pasture and free range. And I guess I've been hopeful that what animal product's I've used have come from those type of farms. The video shows the other extreme to our pastoral idealized images of farms.

Funny, I first became vegetarian in my early 20s after reading Diet for a Small Planet. Then my choice was not for me, but for the world. I wanted to do something for the Earth. I was lacto-ovo-vegetarian... still eating dairy and eggs along with vegetables. Looking back, I didn't eat the best foods for me. One of my friends had gotten onto the low protein diet kick, and so I often ate bread and carbs instead of protein. I remember lots of cheap hydrogenated peanut butter, and white bread. My diet improved some as I got into farming and growing my own vegetables. Though I staunchly refused to use pesticides in my farming, I didn't really get into buying organic foods until I was farming in a major potato growing area in upstate New York. It was the worst place I ever tried to grow potatoes. The potato beetles flocked to my fields from my spraying neighbors to evade the death spray. I despised the fact that I had to live next to pesticide ridden lands and air. And I realized that when I chose to buy non-organic produce, I was cursing the neighbors of the farms producing my food.

I started putting my money where my mouth was, literally. I also grew much of my own produce. When I landed in San Francisco years later, I ended up in a vegan commune/shelter. And I became vegan for several years. I was never totally strict. If I were visiting someone, I'd eat what they ate to be sociable. But my groceries and cooking were vegan. I drifted back to lacto-ovo-vegetarianism.

In San Francisco, I was very fortunate to have Rainbow Cooperative Grocery. There I could find produce from local farms. And cheap bulk items. There it was relatively cheap and easy to buy organic. I could taste the difference. Organic banana's tasted quite different than the inorganic ones. In general, I found produce to be more flavorful. I also began to feel and taste the difference of quality food. Since farming, I knew how much better fresh produce tasted. In part do to all the minerals in an organically farmed soil, in part due to the variety of seed, and in part due to freshness. Processed foods also tasted different. An organic corn chip was much more satisfying than a heavily processed one. A bite of real ice cream was infinitely more satisfying than a cheap chemical ice cream.

Since leaving San Francisco, I have discovered how lucky I was there. Other places, it can be hard to find good produce period, much less organic produce. Although the organic foods movement is big now, in many places that has translated into industrial prepackaged foods from far away lands. I think I prefer local over transnational organic!

I've found my food preferences to be for fresh, minimally processed foods. I prefer raw nuts, raw organic cheeses and yogurts for high protein sources. I'm dabbling in tofu again. After 2 months in the USA I'm feeling saturated on processed foods. My sister was saying the flash freezing methods reputedly save most of the vitamins. I'm not sure whether that is ideal or not. There is a life force and prana from fresh food. Perhaps it is the phytochemicals or complex amino acids that aren't so often or easily measured. Seeds of Change: The Living Treasure : The Passionate Story of the Growing Movement to Restore Biodiversity and Revolutionize the Way We Think About is an awesome book, and seed company, that inspired me back in my farming days. Years ago, an eccentric acupressure practitioner told me that refrigerators make food dead within several days because of the electrical vibration. I think he was referring to leftovers. I thought he was crazy. Now I'm not so sure. I feel like the prepackaged bits of carrots and salads don't hold any comparison to whole produce. I find most leftovers taste dead to me after a couple of days. I feel empty after eating the bulk suburban quantity food bought months in advance on sale.

After two months of suburban USA living, my body feels stiff, and achy. After watching the PETA video, I'm not anxious to eat any more meat, dairy, or eggs here. It's one thing if it's free range. Another if its from feedlots and slaughterhouses. After researching nutrition a bit, I am remembering how much better I felt when I favored less processed foods... avoiding white flower, etc. I found my brother-in-laws Vita Mixer and have been making smoothie with grapefruits. The fresh food feels vibrant and alive! On the other hand, I also know it is all about love. If you love your food, you love yourself, and you will compensate quite a bit for "food quality". People smoke cigarettes and live to be 100 yo sometimes. So surely if you love your processed white flour cookie full of corn syrup, you can also live a long life. On the other hand, choosing a diet is a way of remembering to love ourselves.

The last couple years I have slacked some in my once vigilance "responsible" shopping. When I farmed and lived on $2000/year I dutifully shopped at the local hardware store in town, shunning WalMarts and other corporate stores. I knew the corporate stores channeled money out of the community. Since then, living in the city, and more significantly traveling about, my vigilance has waned. Allowing myself to slip into scarcity mode, I have shopped in such places as Circuit city, Best Buy, and Wal Mart in the last couple of years. Not alot. I live on less than $4000/year. I find in cities, it is relatively easy to avoid the big chain stores, but in the suburbs, it becomes much harder. I laugh at myself, because I realize it's all a matter of intent and action. Scarcity is no excuse! I've been officially in poverty all my life, and yet living a life of abundance. When I used to only shop at the local hardware store, I had less money than I do now; and yet I've somehow rationalized it's ok to shop at Walmart to save money! Silly me. It's all a matter of choice!

Part of my change has been because I strive not to live by rules and judgments but according to Presence. I know that anti-anything leads to violence. And I know that in one way the green revolution is as much a dream, a perception of reality as the optimist and pessimist. And yet we must live with ourselves. The best is to be in a place of Love. And if, your loving presence leads you into WalMart, so be it. Yet, Loving your Community and choice to support a local business may be more aligned with your spirit most of the time.

Several years ago, one of my friends was embarrassed to admit he was working at Starbucks. I told him, Starbucks needed people like him! What if Gandhi had worked at Starbucks or Walmart... there might just be a revolution from the inside out.

I saw What Would Jesus Buy? yesterday. It's a great movie, both entertaining and thought provoking. It documents Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Choir as the tour America to urge people to stop shopping and focus on the true meaning of Christmas. The statistics on what people spend presumably in the name of Christ for Christmas are shocking. Years ago I started joking that people honored Christ with another kilowatt for Christ! Reverend Billy doesn't have any ultimate answers, but he does offer suggestions for what you can do.

What can you do?

Try to buy locally produced goods.
Buy used goods (great for electronics and the like).
Research your choices.
Think about where your money is going and who you want to support? do you want to support your local family run store? do you want to have your local businesses disappear? Do you want to save a few dollars and thereby support sweatshop labor?
Love what you buy if you buy anything! Love makes the world go round!

I've come across these helpful websites to help make more informed choices:

Coop America's Go Green Listing of Green Alternatives:

Coop America's Responsible Shopper Profiles of major companies:

Coop America's 10 Things You Should Never Buy:

Cornucopia Organic Dairy Ratings:

The Eat Well Guide for your zipcode:

The Meatrix pro-veg videos:

Reverend Billy's Links:

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Magical Stone from Ghandi Tal and the Mysterious Monk

26.Sep.2007. Kedarnath, Uttarkhand, India

I clipped along up the rough path, higher above the already high Kedarnath. I practically ran. Rain started falling. I began to get wet and stopped to change from lungi to windpants and rainjacket. I debated turning back. But a group of young Indian men trudged past. So I decided to follow them. A couple of them were good at eeking out the shortcuts between the switchbacks. I was glad I perservered because in a few minutes we reached the lake. It lay about 30 feet below the path in a cloud bank. Moss green shown through from the rocks below the clear water. It was beautiful. I didn't dare photograph it in the thick rain/sleet for fear of my camera getting too wet. I made some prayers and tossed a piece of Bethlehem grid crystal into the beautiful abyss.

I barely finished my prayers and chants when a plastic covered figure came out of the mist. A monk from Bangledesh who had trekked over the glaciers from Gangotri greeted me. I glanced down to the ground and picked up a small stone that "spoke" to me, putting it my pocket. I continued with my "work" to visit a cairn that lay above me on glacial til. Not much to see there, I returned to find the monk waiting for me. I wondered where his guide and/or companions were. I learned he wanted to join me in the descent. I was a bit dismayed as I was happy alone, and was now bent on running down the mountain so I could get on to my other trekking destinations.

We made our way down to Kedarnath, where I visited the Temple and he continued downwards. The temple was anticlimatic. I managed to get through it with out buying a puja (ceremony) from the many priests. I then started jogging down the mountain. I was drenched. I was cold. I didn't fancy the clustered village of Kedarnath. And I was ready to head out to Hemkund the next day. Even in my jogging, I was passed by Nepali porters carrying the dandi's (chairs with passengers). I marveled at their synchronized steps and endurance. They jogged down the road with their loads. They seemed to dodge the raindrops while their passengers grew wet and cold. I marveled at their seeming comfort in simple cotton clothes that seemed to shed rain while I grew colder and wetter under my poly base layer and raincoat.

Just above Rambara I ran into my glacier trekking monk friend. I wasn't sure I wanted to end my solitude. We trod down into Rambara together. The rain kept us wet and cold while the lower elevation took a bit of the edge off the chill. In my mind, I mulled over the idea of staying in Rambara, but decided I wanted to head to Garikund so I could leave for Hemkund the next day. About 100 m past the guesthouse I'd stayed at in Rambara, I felt a twinge of pain in my left knee. Stupidly, I thought it silly to return up hill. Surely I'd cruise on down to Garikund in no time. Aches continued to spread through both legs with each of the 8 km. The monk tried to talk with me but my misery kept me removed. He shared some glucose powder with me, which I mixed with water. I began to realize I hadn't taken the best care of myself. Water and food I knew would go along way to rejuvenating me. I tried to drink more water. I felt a lack of time, in wanting to get to Garikund by dark.

We trudged onwards down the cobbled trail, stepping aside as ponies with cold wet riders clipped past us, sometimes nearly running us down. The monk went into a spontaneous spiel on the wonders of meditation and how if you meditate into pain it will go away. My ego made me feel talked down to... I knew all that from a Reiki perspective and wasn't sure I needed the free advertisement! Nonetheless, I tried to heed the advice... I don't think he realized how much pain I was in. I tried to meditate the pain away. Well, as well as one can when they are trekking down a mountain in cold wet rain. About as hard and fun as trying to do a sitting meditation in a room of mosquitoes! A few minutes later I grumbled to the monk that I was trying and the meditation thing wasn't working! He acknowledged the difficulty that we all face. He acknowledged his own challenges.

We trudged on through the rain and mud. I stepped off to pee a few times to let out all the water I was drinking in hopes of lubricating my knees. At one point, he asked if I wanted to stay with him in the ashram; he'd have to check with the manager of course. I never gave him a direct answer. The truth was I wasn't sure if it would be nurturing. Perhaps it would be better for me to take care of myself. Finally, he asked if I was going to answer his offer. I said I wanted to see how things went. He didn't know where the ashram was. I didn't want to walk any further than I had to.

About an hour after dark we finally reached Garikund. A hotelier asked me if I wanted a room as I went by... how much I asked? 100rs he replied. I was going to check it out, but the monk was upset that I wasn't going on to the ashram. He said it was near. I hobbled along like a spent race horse. The pain was unbearable as it had been for nearly 2 hours. We reached the ashram which was down by the hot spring. The manager did not permit me to stay. He told me to follow a boy, who led me to the hotel next door. The hotel didn't thrill me a bit. The manager led me all the way up the stairs to the fourth floor. I gimped up the stairs. He showed me the room. Grimy green walls and musty odor didn't impress me. He said it was 250rs. I told him I'd seen another for 100rs. He was shocked when I started following him back out. "Don't you want the room?" I said why should I pay 250rs for a room when I can get one for 100rs! He finally relented to 150rs. My legs were aching so much, I took it, top floor and all.

I gimped down to the hot springs 50 m around the corner, and found the "pool" emptied for cleaning. Uggh. I returned to my room for a cold bucket shower. I went for food. I risked ordering palak paneer (spinach cheese curry) from a priceless menu, thinking I'd treat myself to a favorite dish. It wasn't so good. Then I was charged 90rs which seemed outrageous. My feet hurt from rubbing on my sandal straps. My legs ached. I lay in bed. I went to a pharmacist for Tiger Balm. All he had was some chemical heating lotion. Not even anything like Ben Gay. I got some Vitamins C and B. He said I'd be fine after a day of rest. I wasn't so sure.

Miserable. I lay in bed. I yearned for home. "I want to go home!", I moaned to myself. A typical response to sickness in a foreign land. I tried to imagine home Images of the US flashed through my mind... my last domicile in San Francisco, my parents house, my Aunt and Uncle's house. But I couldn't really imagine going back and creating a home, setting up housekeeping, etc. And later sitting in the steaming waters of the public bath, a stone adorned tank similar to a swimming pool, I began to appreciate where I was. In India. In a public hot pool. Surrounded by men (women have a separate pool). It was comforting. And I began to see my confusion.

I want to go home. But where is my home? Fond images from all over the world popped into my head. Saunas of Thailand, and the familiar streets of Chiang Mai and Bangkok with their marvelous street food. The foggy hills of San Francisco and my faerie friends there. The stone lined streets of Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal, and the little disco that calls itself the Funky Buddha Bar. The hills of the Butternut Valley where my father grew up in upstate New York. The Clay Hotel Hostel and Washington Street in South Beach, Miami. The glowing energy of Joshua Tree in California. And my beloved Mauna Loa in Hawaii. The friendly people of Laos and tubing in Vang Viang.

I realized i have no place to call home anymore. My sense of place is shattered. I'm truly homeless. I've virtually shattered my identity. The only thing left to do is to be at home wherever I am. The only thing left to do is to be present with who I am in the moment.

I felt empty. I felt pain. I lay in my bed depressed. The pain and injury didn't fit into my plans. The balm from the pharmacist didn't seem to work. I was miserable. In 36 hours I'd gone from discovered my greatest joy... traipsing up the mountain... to loosing it. To top things off, I felt a cold coming on.

Then I picked up the stone I'd found by Ghandi Tal (the lake above Kedarnath). I felt the vibration and energy of the stone permeate my body. I grew excited. The "other" reality. The Reality of Reiki and metaphysics and energy healing was back! I thought to myself how years ago after getting into Reiki I had learned to disown the reality of having/catching colds. I had started viewing them as detox symptoms from my body clearing toxins. Why, that made sense now after my first big exercise in a month. Further I remembered how several years ago I had decided to quit having colds, and merely seen them as patterns of being that I could choose my way out of if I started to have symptoms. Then I realized my knees and legs were no different! Why was I projecting a self hypnotic future of not being able to continue on my treks? I started to remember my own magic. The power of empowerment I had shared with so many clients in my Reiki practice. I remembered how several years ago I would simply ask my body to release the pattern if I started to feel twinges of knee pain. And it would work. I remembered how one day riding my bike up a hill to work, I had felt a twinge of knee pain, and banished it off, saying "I don't have time for this now!"

I grew excited. I started setting intentions for healing for alignment. I started to envision myself going trekking at Hemkund. The next few days rained. I spent two days in that hotel room. I discovered the best sleep in months as the raging river made a beautiful melody that drifted in the bathroom window. I enjoyed dreamy sleeps that felt like streams of consciousness. Memories from my past bubbled through my minds eye as the rains bubbled through the hills. I felt the most relaxed I had in months. I felt good! I slept and napped and Reiki'd myself throughout the day. I found a dhaba that had the best all you can eat thali (only 35rs) ever! I ate there twice a day. The staff treated me like a king. In between I soaked in the hot sulphur waters of the public bath, enjoying the views of the other men. My pains indeed went away. And finally one evening I booked a ticket for the 6 am bus to Govindghat, the departure point for the Hemkund trek.

The magical monk from Bangladesh, who had popped out of the fogs at Ghandi Tal, I never saw again. I tried to find him the day after our descent, but he had left. I'll always wonder how he transversed the glaciers from Gangotri to Kedarnath, apparently alone in a lungi and a plastic raincoat. Like so many others we meet walking about the world, he flashed out of my life as quickly as he appeared.