mardi 31 mai 2011
It has been a long time since I have had such a sense of balance in my heart and in my life.
As my Hocank Sister would say, “without sacrifice, you cannot hope for harmony in life”. Without that harmony, peace of mind is not attainable, without that peace of mind, loving one another and experiencing affection becomes difficult.
I will summarize How to achieve this Balance. Without elaborating but just mentioning the places from where the people contributed to this Balance.
1. Gratefulness (Paris, France, Sister Jackie in Miami)
2. Asking for Forgiveness (Portland, Oregon)
3. Tolerance of the Old &
Acceptance of the New (Yoga with MunChing in Kuala Lumpur)
4. Giving of yourself without Expectations
(The American Indians)
5. Gift of Time
Spend time with Friends (Since April 1st, I have traveled to be with friends in:
Vancouver, Bellingham, Seattle, Portland, Eagle Pass, Muzquiz, Kuala Lumpur, Yangon, Cambodia, London, Miami). And always the American Indians(many many in different tribes: Hocank, UmonHon and Kickapoo, Meskwakia among others)
6. Accepting your position in this Universe
7. Learning not to judge people. (taught by American Indians but reinforced by M/Paris and R/PDX and MC/KL)
8. Respect others and If possible Love them.
(Told by Meskwakia Indians)
I have never felt so loved as I am now: all of those mentioned above plus my dearest friends in Cuba.
Once again thanks to my teachers (my friends and relatives among the North American Indians), thanks to my friends and lovers and my family.
I have just spent a few days with my sister Jackie in Miami and her husband Joseph. The unselfishness of M in France always touches my heart. I cannot have a better friend than MC in KL.
So, on this morning I am grateful that all of you are in my life. Introduction to Raja Yoga has given a better understanding of others and as Indians would say, just walk around people who are walking another path
dimanche 29 mai 2011
As Medical Students, we had a lunch time talk by a visitor (appropriately dark skinned), about Cross Cultural Sensitivity and we were told that we had to be sensitive about African People and a few words about East Asian Indians. So we learned about Reggae, Calypso and Curry. It was so superficial that it was pathetic. There was no mention of Cross Cultural sensitivity the rest of the time.
Move the clock around to New York 2011
176 languages are spoken in its Public School System. (how many of you can name 176 languages, I think all of us can name about fifty quite easily). But the interesting fact is that some of the Endangered languages have found their refuge in New York City. You may hear, in New York City:
Vlashki, from the mountains of Croatia
Mumuju from the island of Sulawesi
Aramaic, Chaldic and Mandaic
Bukhari from Uzbekistan where fewer people than in New York speak Bukhari!
Chomorro, familiar to the people who have visited Guam or read Oliver Sacks
Irish Gaelic is dying in Eire, but not so in New York, Kashubian from Poland is spoken here.
Upto 300 or 400 000 people whose mother tongue is one of the indigenous languages of Mexico live legally and illegally in the confines of the city.
Rhaeto-Romanic, Romany and Yiddish can all be heard in this city.
In fact, when we see a "latin face", an Indianness etched into the face, we think of Mexico and other parts of Indigenous America. and we assume they speak Spanish. But they may be one of the 400000 Indians from outside the borders who may not speak Spanish or English, but fluent in their Mixtec, Nahuatl, Chinantec, Otomi, Quechua. In California it is estimated that 150 000 people speak Mixteco! Up to 200 000 Garifuna speakers live in New York City.
In Staten Island, you can hear Chiananteco. South Bronx and Astoria, Queens claim Otomi. In fact National Geographic magazine had an article about a street in Astoria in which the most number of languages are spoken! A community speaking Trique lives in Albany. In Trenton, NJ one can hear Quiche, Paterson, NJ are home to soem Quechua speakers so is Queens, NY.
What about the old fashioned thoughts about "foreign Languages", we thought about French, Spanish and German. Now there are here by the thousands. Russian neighbourhoods and Punjabi, Marathi, Bangla food and language is no stranger to this island cheated from the native Indians a few centuries ago.. Japanese, no worries; Chinese, by the hordes.. Tamoul? Malay? Thai? Burmese?
In fact it is estimated that there may be 800 different languages spoken in New York City!
Perhaps the New World would offer some of these dying languages, a small chance of revival and hope for future speakers...
samedi 28 mai 2011
What is lifestyle Change for a patient with Diabetes?
A patient with Type 2 Diabetes is usually given a lot of information but rarely given tools to understand why they have to change. We have been given education, an Indian patient told me, but we never received it.
You can use your discretion and cheat, someone may advise but that is not a good advice. Avoid all that is bad for you.. If you dont understand your body, how can you succeed in your everyday life?
Today at a pool party at the house of an affluent young family (the husband was celebrating his 38th birthday), I saw a friend of mine using his concept of understanding his body and I could see why his Diabetes is under so well a control.
This photograph shows some of the food that was available at the party. Even not taking into consideration the cake and the desserts, the party was catered at around 30 dollars per person.
Every one was having the time of their lives, all sorts of drinks, lots and lots of food and thumping Caribbean music.
What was our friend, we will call him Papa J, doing?
Succumbing to the temptation of succulent food available? Imbibing on the various liquors?
Let me share with you his Laboratory tests from this last week
HgbA1c a measure of Diabetes Control 5.9 %
Total Cholesterol 106 mg/dl (2.74 mmol/l)
Triglycerides 144 mg/dl (1.62)
These values are absolutely normal and in a patient with diabetes indicate EXCELLENT control of the metabolic dysfunction.
He was practicing without him being conscious of it, his adherence to his knowledge of his body and weaning himself of the riches of the society which gave him Diabetes in the first place.
Attachment usually follows pleasure, the more an object/person gives us pleasure, the more desire for it. The sensation from the pleasure will sink into our subconscious mind as memory and craving. The more one has the I-sense (identification of oneself with external objects), the more pleasure he will seek or the more he will be attached to the external world.
Papa J has detached himself from the pleasures that he has made his body not crave, despite it being available, because he knows that it is that attachment that makes for a bad dysfunction of his body. No excuses were made, oh, this is a birthday, and I will have just a glass wine and a piece of cake and a piece of barbecued rib.
I watched him, keeping a good distance from all that was offered. Nor was he feeling isolated while the rest of us were digging into taste that would make us more addicted to the food that causes our metabolic dysfunction even worse.
Weakening of these bonds to the external world is the liberating experience. In case of Papa J, his Diabetes is better controlled than 99 per cent of the Americans, not to mention a Cholesterol level in an enviable range! (He is not on any ant cholesterol medications)
Understanding your own body is necessary for the welfare of your body. Papa J was not following any dietitian's advice but he knew he has to do this for the good of his body and the laboratory tests show and his own doctor cannot believe how well they are. Neither he nor the medications are given undue credit, the credit goes to Papa J and his Rejection of Ignorance about is own body
Papa J is an inspiration for all of us, including those people who have Diabetes.
vendredi 27 mai 2011
when talking about standards of living, GDP, Gross Domestic Product is often mentioned and most travelers realize that it is not a good indicator of the quality of life. Most educated people in this world know that Quality of Life measures much more than your income, even though it does count a lot. Availability of Leisure activities including Arts, Literature and Music count towards good living. Consumption in the form of Material and non material goods is taken into account. Personal Health is important to most people wherever they live. and all educated people would opt to live in a more equal society such as France,or in one with at least with some semblance of it, such as USA..
Beyond GDP? Welfare across Countries and Time
NBER Working Paper No. 16352
We propose a simple summary statistic for a nation’s flow of welfare, measured as a consumption equivalent, and compute its level and growth rate for a broad set of countries. This welfare metric combines data on consumption, leisure, inequality, andmortality. Although it is highly correlatedwith per capita GDP, deviations are often economically significant: Western Europe looks considerably closer to U.S. living standards, emerging Asia has not caught up as much, and many African and Latin American countries appear farther behind. Each of the four components we introduce plays an important role in accounting for these differences.
when thinking of Egalitarian societies, we dont think of Asia (with the exception of Japan) or Russia first, always think of USA or Europe. In fact there is a fairly good correlation between Egalitarianism and General Welfare and income of the countries: Australia, Sweden, Norway are on the top, while most Asian countries lag far behind. Even countries which have higher GDP such as Singapour, Brunei in Asia and the Gulf countries in the Middle East, fail to make the chart when it comes to a Good Quality of Life ..
In view of the current debate of Gross national Happiness, these revelations are of interest
mercredi 25 mai 2011
EAT HEALTHY SAVE THE TUNA SPARE THE GROUPER HAVE A KIND HEALTHY HEART AND SAVE THE PLANET
Among the ubiquitous proliferations, insulting to a Japanese sensibility to cuisine, has been the Restaurant Japonais, selling Sushi and Sashimi. These are usually run by cunning Chinese and Koreans who saw the decline of the Chinese Food among the Western Populations. In the USA at least, they don't call each and every Sushi joint, Restaurant Japonais but call it what it is, an American version of the Japanese food, Sushi, which in turn might have its origin in Inland China!
A few years ago, an intense interest rose among the Nutrition Science Community and the General Public when it was found that the Inuit who subsist on whale blubber and sea fish and no vegetables of note have some of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world. Before long Omega 3 fatty acids took the centre stage and now you can buy them at any convenience store in America.
The simultaneous rise in popularity of Sushi joints may not have been a coincidence, as Americans, proud of their Meat diet (however contaminated it is with Growth Hormone, Antibiotics and other injected substances) found a way to include Fish in their diet in the form of Sushi.
All the while the Japanese were clobbering whales to death in large numbers and the Chinese and Koreans along with the Japanese were denuding the seas of fish like Tuna. Not just the Asians, the feeding grounds for once numerous Nassau Grouper was being overfished by fishermen based in the Bahamas and Belize
Conservation of the Nassau grouper a keystone species
Nassau Grouper (Ephinephelus striatus)
The Nassau Grouper is commercially extinct throughout much of its range. It has been red listed as an endangered species by the World Conservation Union, and is a protected species in US federal waters. In the Virgin Islands,Nassau grouper were reported in 1900 to be “..a common and very important food-fish, reaching a weight of 50 pounds or more.” The fish is now commercially extinct in those same areas. The Bahamas and Belize have the last significant stocks of Nassau grouper in the world; it is up to us to ensure that we continue to have these fish for our future.
Groupers are very slow growing fish, and some species of grouper live to be over 120 years old. They are an important component of healthy marine ecosystems. Groupers have the unfortunate habit of ‘grouping’ together in the thousands to reproduce. These groups are called spawning aggregations. Nassau groupers form “spawning aggregations” at predictable places during the full moons in the winter months.
Fishermen have long known about these aggregations and have targeted them- in the past with sailboats and hand lines, but now with traps, spears, big nets and satellite navigation equipment, many more fish can be caught. Many of the fish caught at aggregations have not yet had the chance to release their eggs. Some Bahamian aggregations that once had tens of thousands of fish now only have a few hundred, or have disappeared completely. The primary factor responsible for this drastic decline has been uncontrolled fishing when the fish are spawning. Failure to protect Nassaugrouper spawning aggregations in Bermuda resulted in a 95% decline in the population, and commercial extinction of local stocks. Many aggregations have been lost entirely, and there is strong evidence that once an aggregation has been fished out, it will not return.
American sushi is LARGER in general. The individual pieces are usually too big to eat in one bite, and the sushi rice is a little sweeter. In the same way that other cuisines are altered in the United States, more emphasis is put on the quantity of sushi and less on quality and eye appeal. The world-famous American sweet tooth is catered to with a sweeter rice dressing and meal proportions have expanded to rival meals available at other restaurants. The traditional Japanese reverence for good quality food in small portions has dissipated in America, with sushi bars deferring to the American-sized appetite and attraction to colorful food in big portions. The difference is unperceivable to the untrained diner, but an American and a Japanese sushi bar are two very different things.
Don't expect to find much of the following in an American Sushi joint..
All seafoods in this list are served raw unless otherwise specified.
The list below does not follow biological classification.
• Aji (鯵): Japanese jack mackerel, Trachurus japonicus
• Aya-kagara (赤矢柄): Cornetfish
• Anago (穴子): saltwater eel, Conger eel
• Ankimo (鮟肝): Monkfish liver
• Ayu (鮎): Sweetfish
• Buri (鰤): adult Yellowtail
• Hamachi (魬, はまち): young (35-60cm) Yellowtail
• Engawa (縁側): often referred as 'fluke fin', the chewy part of Fluke, a flatfish
• Gindara (銀鱈): Sablefish
• Hamo (鱧, はも): Daggertooth pike conger
• Hatahata (鰰): Sandfish[disambiguation needed]
• Hikari-mono (光り物): Blue-backed fish, various kinds of "shiny" (silvery scales) fish
• see also Aji, Iwashi, Konoshiro, Sanma, Tobiuo
• Hiramasa (平政, 平柾): Yellowtail amberjack (Seriola lalandi)
• Hirame (平目, 鮃): Fluke, a type of flounder
• Hoshigarei (干鰈): Spotted halibut
• Inada (鰍): very young Yellowtail
• Isaki (伊佐木, いさき): striped pigfish
• Ishigarei (石鰈): Stone flounder
• Iwashi (鰯): Sardine
• Kajiki (梶木, 舵木, 旗魚): Swordfish
• Makajiki (真梶木): Blue Marlin
• Mekajiki (目梶木): Swordfish
• Kanpachi (間八): Greater amberjack, Seriola dumerili
• Karei (鰈): Flatfish
• Katsuo (鰹, かつお): Skipjack tuna
• Kawahagi (皮剥ぎ): Filefish
• Kibinago (黍魚子): Banded Blue sprat
• Kisu (鱚): Sillago
• Konoshiro (鰶): Gizzard shad
• Kohada (小鰭): Japanese gizzard shad
• Shinko (新子): very young Gizzard shad
• Maguro (鮪): Thunnus (a genus of Tuna)
• Akami (赤身): top loin of Bluefin tuna
• Ōtoro (大とろ): fattiest portion of Bluefin tuna belly
• Toro (とろ): fatty Bluefin tuna belly
• Chūtoro (中とろ): medium-fat Bluefin Tuna belly
• Kihada (maguro) (木肌鮪, 黄肌鮪, きはだ): Yellowfin tuna
• Meji (maguro) (メジ鮪): young Pacific bluefin tuna
• Negi-toro (葱とろ): Bluefin tuna belly and chopped green onion
• Shiro maguro (白鮪), Binnaga/Bincho (鬢長): Albacore or "white tuna"
• Mamakari (飯借): Sprat
• Masu (鱒): Trout
• Mutsu (鯥): Bluefish
• Nijimasu (虹鱒): Rainbow trout
• Noresore: baby Anago
• Ohyou (大鮃): Halibut
• Okoze (虎魚): Stonefish
• Saba (鯖): Chub mackerel or Blue mackerel
• Sake, Shake (鮭): Salmon
• Sanma (秋刀魚): Pacific saury or Mackerel pike
• Sawara (鰆): Spanish mackerel
• Sayori (針魚, 鱵): Halfbeak (Springtime)
• Shima-aji (しま鯵): White trevally
• Shime-saba (締め鯖, 〆鯖): marinated Chub mackerel or Blue mackerel
• Shira-did (白魚): Salangid
• Shiromie (白身): seasonal "white meat" fish
• see also Hirame, Ishigarei, Karei, Shima-aji
• Suzuki (鱸): Sea bass
• Seigo (鮬): young (1-2 y.o.) Sea bass
• Tai (鯛): seabream snapper
• Madai (真鯛): Red seabream snapper
• Kasugo (春子鯛): young Sea bream
• Kurodai (黒鯛): Snapper
• Ibodai (疣鯛): Japanese butterfish
• Kimmedai (金目鯛): Splendid alfonsino
• Tara (鱈): Cod
• Tobiko (鰩, 飛魚): Flying fish
• Unagi (鰻): Freshwater eel, often broiled (grilled) with a sweet sauce
Then you have to think about the Mercury in the fish:
Ahi (yellowfin tuna)
Aji (horse mackerel)
Buri (adult yellowtail)
Hamachi (young yellowtail)
Inada (very young yellowtail)
Kanpachi (very young yellowtail)
Maguro (bigeye, bluefin or yellowfin tuna)
Makjiki (blue marlin)
Meji (young bigeye, bluefin* or yellowfin tuna)
Sawara (spanish mackerel)
Shiro (albacore tuna)
Seigo (young sea bass)*
Suzuki (sea bass)*
Toro (bigeye, bluefin or yellowfin tuna)
Eat no more than six 6-oz servings per month
Enjoy two 6-oz servings a week
Akagai (ark shell)
Anago (conger eel)
Aoyagi (round clam)
Hamo (pike conger; sea eel)
Himo (ark shell)
Hokkigai (surf clam)
Ikura (salmon roe)
Kohada (gizzard shad)
Masago (smelt egg)
Mirugai (surf clam)
Shako (mantis shrimp)
Tai (sea bream)
Tairagai (razor-shell clam)
Tobikko (flying fish egg)
Unagi (freshwater eel)
Uni (sea urchin roe)
That brings us to the main point of this blog.
Not all fish are created equal when it comes to protecting your heart. Certainly Dark Fish, such as Salmon, mackerel and bluefish is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, when you compared to those of us, Japanese or otherwise who feasted on Tuna or white fish such as snapper and cod.
Grouper should not be eaten if you have any conscience about the future of Groupers in this planet. Viola, in one stroke you can save the Tuna, protect Grouper and save your own heart.
Eat Salmon, Americans, says your Heart Association. But how do we prepare it? Does it matter? Of course, Any FRIED FISH is more dangerous to your health than any other form of protein! Bake it or Broil it…but don't fry it..
So by eating Salmon or other dark fish and avoiding overfished species like Tuna or Grouper, in one good stroke, you can protect your HEART, schools of Fish who can be allowed to reach maturity, save the planet which needs a balance in such things, pay respect to Japanese culture by promising to avoid Sushi joints unless they are in Japan or owned by Japanese…
dimanche 22 mai 2011
LOTUS, GIVERNY, YOGA, DUTY TO MANKIND
On this Sunday, a short ride of less than about 60km from Paris, and you are at the village of Giverny, where the Impressionist painter of the 19th century, Claude Monet lived. He was a painter as most of the world knows, but also was an astute gardener and one goes to Giverny not to see his paintings (which are better seen at the Museum especially dedicated to it in Paris) but to see the gardens. The spring is here and the flowers are in bloom and it is a good time to see the flowers.
I had also a special reason to go there to see the LOTUS flowers, represented in many of the Monet’s paintings.
I have just from Kuala Lumpur after receiving my introduction to Raja Yoga and in a few days time I will be off to the North American Indians, whose ancient philosophy has so much in common with the Yoga Philosophy.
When we talk about Lotus, one thinks mainly of Hindu and Buddhist traditions, but I am very interested in the symbolism of what Lotus stands for.
Can always look to Don Pablo Neruda of Chile for some inspiration and the following bit of poetry is from Estravagaria, excellent translation by Alistair Reid. The extract is from the Poem: Emerging /Vamos Saliendo
And therefore when you sleep, you are alone in your dreaming,
And running freely through the corridors
of one dream only, which belongs to you.
Oh never let them come to steal our dreams,
never let them entwine us in our bed.
Let us hold on to the shadows
to see if, from our own obscurity,
we emerge and grope along the walls,
lie in wait for the light, to capture it,
till once and for all time,
it becomes our own, the sun of every day.
So much happens in the course of a few days. Time and distance intertwines, and a flower comes to symbolize a new beginning, an emergence from the humility of its origins, an opening of our minds.
The roots of a lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the heavily scented flower lies pristinely above the water, basking in the sunlight. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment.
Though there are other water plants that bloom above the water, it is only the lotus, which, owing to the strength of its stem, regularly rises eight to twelve inches above the surface.
According to the Lalitavistara, "the spirit of the best of men is spotless, like the lotus in the muddy water which does not adhere to it."
The opening of the Lotus flower is symbolic of our own minds opening towards new knowledge and acquisition of wisdom.
Lotus has been seen in other cultures and recently I received an email from Teheran.
Darius was considered a great King. In his hand he holds a Lotus which symbolizes cleanliness and without Guilt. (Dirt also used for Guilt in Persian language). The statue was made of a special black material in Egypt with writing on the platform: I have wanted the Egyptians to make this statue to show how far the Persian Empire once extended. The name Darius is written after, in Persian, Babylonian and Akkadian. This is the famous Darius statue without its head. Many other statues or frescoes show him holding Lotus with two buds.
Lotuses in Hinduism symbolize prosperity,beauty fertility, eternity and eternal youth. Like Buddhism, it also means purity and divinity. A lotus is often used analogously for how people should live. One book that does this is the Bhagavad Gita at 5.10, where it states: "One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.
I had just come back from visiting my best friend in Asia, who is the founder of MeherYoga for Better Living. She is hoping to bring the philosophy of Raja Yoga to those who are already awakened to the possibility of change in them.
When I visited the Chinese village she grew up in, the second largest Chinese village in Malaysia, I was reminded of the metaphor of Lotus, arising out of mud, clearing the murky water and rising above the water to shine like the sun.
As I was writing this blog, it was close to midnight in Malaysia and I received an email from her, which I thought was more than coincidental.
I am going to bed but completed reading chapter 11 of Gita which says that ... He who performs all his duties for my (god) sake, depends on me, is devoted to me; has no attachment, and is free from malice towards all beings, reaches me.
So, I am reminded of my duty again.
So, my best friend in Asia, the one who introduced me to Raja Yoga is truly the Lotus
And as Native American Indians would say, Mitakuye Oyasin, we are all related, so to me the events of the past two weeks are related to one another, over culture, religion and distance and that people who are ready to change can experience that change.
Giverny was just an added metaphor.
As it is written,
Yoga holds that every person is capable of having these profound, life transforming experiences. It provides a clear and correct understanding of the spiritual impulse. A detailed, elaborate technology is available to hold on to it and strengthen it to an extent. The life-transforming experience is the high ground where mysticism and Yoga merge together.
I wish all my friends and other lovers, from all corners of this planet, well… The gratitude list is long today, so many people to thank but today it includes two people who live east of Tel Aviv…by hundreds of kilometers.
jeudi 19 mai 2011
What is the image of Yoga in the western mind? Twisted bodies in contorted poses, clean studios where a group of people meditating or out in the open, preferably by swaying palms or poses which reminds them of something religious.
Yoga has the techniques of course, Asanas which are postures and Pranayama which are Breathing to enhance the oxygenation of your body and also parts of the body not usually oxygenated and further cleansing techniques of the Nose and Stomach.
If you are doing just this, are they valuable? What is important is the EXPERIENCE these bring to us, what does it do when we do the breathing exercises, does it bring you the peace of mind. Does the meditation bring you concentration? Do you feel more tranquil after harnessing the minds wandering nature?
When I was thinking of the above, I was very much reminded of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and his description of Phenomenology of Perception. I agree this is a thick description but not far from the ancient wisdom of Yoga.
Merleau-Ponty's existential-phenomenological epistemology and ontology can be seen as resolving the problem of Meno's paradox, and it does so by relentlessly demonstrating how both empiricism and rationalism fail to do so. Merleau-Ponty writes: "Empiricism cannot see that we need to know what we are looking for, otherwise we would not be looking for it, and intellectualism (rationalism) fails to see that we need to be ignorant of what we are looking for, or equally again we should not be searching." (Phenomenology of Perception)
"All consciousness is perceptual...The perceived world is the always presupposed foundation of all rationality, all value and all existence."
Those who have understood the philosophy of Raja Yoga would immediately understand what Merleau-Ponty was trying to say: Life is the Reality. And Raja Yoga trains a person to change that perception to become conscious of it while experiencing the reality of life.
While we think of Spirituality as more of an Eastern way of living, I feel that Spirituality is the same for all peoples, it is just that they arrive it using different philosophies.
Attachment or detachment is something you always come across when discussing Spirituality.
One very ordinary example I can give you. There are people who go to poor countries and live like poor people amidst them and try to make changes in their lives or even convert them into another religion. Whereas there are others, who have good understanding of the way of thinking of the local groups and try not to change them and also not go to the farce of living with them, knowing fully well that it would be just artificial. It is not necessarily to experience every kind of activity.
If you hear that something has happened to your inner circle of friends or family, you feel the pain, but you may not feel the pain if it happened in another country and to another group of people. But to feel the pain of all is advisable, not ignore the suffering but perhaps one learns with a higher understanding of the events, to another level of detachment. Decreasing desires is an important step towards inner happiness. Desires not only in the material sense but in other senses as well. Complete rejection of all pleasures and activities are not recommended, but that which disturbs your peace of mind has to be understood. Doing something expecting nothing in return, an altruism that I saw my own father practice, brings you pleasure and happiness.
There is a school of thought that expects you to express all your anger and fury, but it is not necessarily so. You can learn from your own experience and if you are wise you can learn from somebody’s experience. Those who are aware gain more understanding, also comes with acceptance of the other. While watching the action that give rise to anger in another person, you can control that anger and not participate in the reaction to that particular action.
Here we can also learn to accept the other person, we are not responsible for his actions but we are grateful for what they have taught us by their reactions and spared us the anger. Thus we can accept them for what they are.
We must also be careful not to try and change the other person, but learn to accept that person as they are. Change occurs when that person is ready.
One thing I had observed among the native americans, one of the many in fact, was that the practice of spirituality required no special place and very few rituals. The Medicine Man belonged to the community like every one else, being Spiritual carried no special status, they were involved in the life of the community like every one else. So it was gratifying for me to learn that at the Yoga Institute in Bombay, they teach that Yoga has to be practiced by those who are involved in Life.
mercredi 18 mai 2011
PLASTICITY AND THE BRAIN: A BASIS FOR YOGA CURE?
Brain was viewed as a static organ in the body until as recent as the 1980s. We can now say with confidence that the brain is an extraordinarily plastic biologic system that is in a state of dynamic equilibrium with the external world, says Dr. V. S. Ramachandran, author of an interesting book published in 2011.
The Tell Tale Brain
A Neuro-Scientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human?
This plasticity plays the evolutionary role in the human brain and makes it unique. The sages of Yoga must have recognized it in their time: How Yoga, especially Raja Yoga, can modify certain sensations and thoughts when placed on the platform of its philosophy.
In the western minds, there is a hankering for order while most of the western philosophy has elements of chaos. The Anatomy and the Neuroanatomy that we study at the Medical Schools in the west (and thus copied in the East) had been mapped by the westerners. They had the tools to do so at the time of enlightenment, but let us say, that they lacked the insight, into the philosophical aspects of what they were seeing, and labeled it static. As such, Diseases and Suffering have been left at the time of beginning of the Enlightenment and closure of the Dark Ages. A concrete mathematical model is proposed and followed, allowing for very little variation and plasticity. The medical practitioners in Miami or Kuala Lumpur are still under the influence of Descartes (16th Century) whose Cartesian dualism of Mind and Body we follow and not allow for an integration of Mind and Body in every day medical practice.
Are the medical practitioners and their allies in the Pharmaceutical Industries indirectly responsible for the current neglect of the relationship between the Mind and Body among the patients? Most overweight people do not recognize the gravity of their overweight or the necessity to follow any particular form of exercise and the necessity to eat healthy food rather than the packaged food. The Mind’s power over the Body is demonstrated by recent studies, which shows that Immigrants whether to USA or Malaysia, in their eagerness to “modernize” prefer to eat “bad food” rather than good food of their home countries. Such is the power of the psychology that they are willing to sacrifice the health of themselves for “acceptance” by the host societies.
Motivating patients with the old fashioned carrot and stick method of rewards have failed and that what we need to do is to stress on Internal Motivation which would translate into Cognitive changes in behavior.
Can you think of a better form of motivator than Raja yoga? Experiencing the sensation of Asanas (postures) and Pranayamas ( regulation of breathing) and other external means to modify our ways of thinking, which eventually make us a better HUMAN?
If you adopt this Plasticity of Brain in the practice of Medicine (or Health Care or Prevention of Diseases or General Wellbeing), you would see your patients getting better. Not only in their concepts of their bodies and Pre Diabetes not becoming full-blown diabetes and even such simple cases of environmentally induced Hypothyroidism when the dosages prescribed and the laboratory tests are not congruent.
It is nice for me to think that only South India could have produced a scientist of the curiosity of Ramachandran, it will become clearer to you when you read his biography, occasionally I meet potential Ramachandrans of India, not only in the field of Medicine or Science but recently in Malaysia in the field of Creative Arts. (A friend of mine from Lucknow working at Astro Entertainment Sdn Bhd keeps on winning international awards one after another; I joked that he might have to charter a flight to take all his trophies back home!).
Dr V.S. Ramachandran of Chennai/Madras is currently a Professor in California and it is nice to think of an ancient philosophical environmental connection of his native India, home of Yoga, to his brain and the brains he studies. I highly recommend his book.
Working in the field of prevention of Diseases, the idea of a changing brain is highly motivating for me.
mardi 17 mai 2011
HAPPINESS, ONE WAY TO ACHIEVE IT
Everyone, whether from the North or the South, from the city or the rural area, from a rich or a poor society, from a tolerant society or one that is intolerant. Under all the imaginable social situations. Wants to be happy.
But Happiness cannot be obtained as if it is a commodity; it is not separated form our own mind, society and in what the ancient peoples mind is defined as SELF
One reason the search for Happiness is so difficult is because most people are looking for it using wrong pathways or easy methods. It is neither easy nor a path easily understandable). Whilst there is no one particular way of achieving happiness, my own readings in Western Philosophy and residence among the Native Americans and Respect for the Buddhist Philosophy and Dalai Lama… all have repeatedly pointed out to one source of happiness to begin with.
A characteristic we associate with monks and religious peoples, can be present and achieved by ordinary people who neither religious nor spiritual, even though compassion is a path to spirituality. You would be surprised to know that Google Company has a separate division to promote compassion among its employees and harness that sensation of compassion that workers in that company feel, which led to the company giving 20 per cent of the time relieved of routine work. The Person heading that Division in the company is a Chinese, Engineer by trade but a devout Buddhist, not at all representative of the society that raised him.
Compassion can be learned and practiced and many of the hurdles towards achieving happiness would easily follow once compassion is practiced in every day situations
I understand YOU
I feel for YOU
What can I do to relieve you of the pain or suffering?
As you can imagine, in the corporate world where time is considered money, the driving force behind the ethics, many would be reluctant to think about compassion. They may donate to charity or attend a charity event but on an every day basis Compassion is not on their minds. Let the corporate workers recognize that more and more companies and even countries are adopting methods of Happiness.
Countries which have Democracy, are Tolerant, which look after the unfortunate among their midst have all have higher degrees of satisfied populations. When you think about it, isn’t it compassion on an institutional scale?
Achieving changes within your self is necessary to wash away some of the dirt accumulated by subscribing to the society’s rules to “succeed” in it? You cannot achieve that change without compassion.
I am fortunate to work with Native American Indians and I am reminded of what one of my teachers said early on in my encounters with them: Only good people would become Good Doctors so instead of trying to become a Good Doctor, try to become a good human being, Good Doctoring will follow.
As Dalai Lama has said
If you want Happiness in others, practice compassion
If you want to be Happy, practice compassion.
samedi 14 mai 2011
A Cut Above at Bangsar Village, Kuala Lumpur. Luxury with Friendship
For a person who lives on the other side of the world to KL, I am lucky to have a close friend living in KL. Each time we make plans to visit, she makes sure that I visit A Cut Above at Bangsar.
This time was no different, the usual pleasant welcome from the front desk, I have come to know their faces. Ushered and deposited to the nimble and efficient hands of the best pedicurist in the world, GS..She knows that my friend brings me here and pampers me with pedi/manicure and a haircut each time I am here.
As GS began working on my neglected feet, destroyed as it were, walking along irregular roads and fields of Cambodia and Myanmar just the week before, a new acquaintance arrived, Nadia who began to prepare my hair for the stylist Feiwen.
I have had others work on my neck and shoulders and scalp but this time it was very different. I can say without a doubt, it was the best preparation for a hair cut and I was almost asleep on the chair, feeling so relaxed with the massage of Nadia’s powerful fingers.
FeiWen, who is the chief stylist and a presence, is always a pleasant encounter and waving his magical scissors had transformed my hair in a few minutes.
All the while, my closes friend in Asia was hovering nearby, bringing me a nice warm cappuccino from the coffee shop downstairs (Delicious with its Burmese waitresses).
We had just had lunch (Dim Sum) at the Hotel Oriental with the Cuban Ambassador. Extremely pleasant a conversation and this visit to GS Feiwen and Nadia at A Cut Above was like Cream on the Cake…
This is not the time to think about the realities of Life but to enjoy the magic of life in Malaysia for me…
Written at Hotel Pavilion, Sussex Gardens, London after a very long flight via Singapour and Tokyo from Kuala Lumpur. I am already looking forward to my next visit to KL in September so, a bientot, GS, Feiwen and Nadia.
vendredi 13 mai 2011
MOTIVATION TO BEGIN RAJA YOGA
After having several discussions with Mun Ching Yong, Founder of a newly set up enterprise Meher Yoga LifeStyle Coaching in KL, I became very aware of the fact that many people look for short term solutions for their dissatisfaction at work, social life, health issues, etc. Many are allured into spending a lot of money falling prey to advertising gimmicks.
One best example I can think of was a stylish Weight Loss Company at Mines Shopping Complex in SKB, where white clads would help you loose weight. Most of the time, the loss of weight is temporary as they are not addressing the root cause of the weight issue which is due to many factors, among others lifestyle, stress, thinking habits, etc.
How can the PHYSICAL take care of something that is MENTAL and EMOTIONAL?
Why is that the Weight Loss Industry keeps GROWING, if their actions can produce long lasting results?
No one wants to face the root causes: Society and Self.
Who should think of beginning Raja Yoga?
Those who are struck with
- Unhappiness in Life
- Symptoms of Sickness or Illness or Not feeling well
- Depression and Mental Instability
- All the above have a connection to some thing more than just the body. So just trying to tone up your body will not remove the root cause.
- Another group, who are seeking self realization, let us call them SEEKERS would definitely benefit.
- An often neglected group in our society, Troubled Kids and Teenagers can be helped to bring Stability to their mind processes and taught to resolve issues on their own.
What is the immediate effect?
- Satisfaction that you have a desire to change.
- Satisfaction that you wish to follow a path towards self realization.
- Satisfaction that you have decided to follow a spiritual path.
We do not begin our lives planning to become wise and learned, but some of us, like Lifestyle Coach, Mun Ching Yong, saw the path clearly in front of her and has been fearless in, (a) following that path towards self realization and spirituality and (b) had the courage to leave behind the “secure” financial and corporate path which was mapped for her by her family, friends and society.
The Wisdom of Buddha (Dharmapada) Chapter XV on Happiness has the following sentence:
One ought to follow the wise, the intelligent, the learned, the much enduring, the dutiful, the elect; one ought to follow such a good and wise person, as the moon follows the path of the stars.
mardi 10 mai 2011
In these modern times, when changes are occurring at a mind boggling speed and technology and its benefits overwhelming us; why is that all of us, young and old, look to the age old fountains of Wisdom? In Religion?, in Faith? and in Philosophy? Greek philosophers still reign supreme in the western minds. Descartes from 15th Century still influences the philosophy of the practice of Medicine even though the technology is 21st century made. In the east, Buddha’s words of 2500 years ago still ring true to millions today. Age old every day problems of illusion and reality cannot be solved by modern technology; the ancient philosophies such as Yoga may be helpful. Unlike technology with its rapid pace outdates itself quickly, Philosophy does not change over time, but may evolve slowly over centuries. A compilation of Yoga Sutras by Patanjali is eternal in its message, filtered as it were from centuries of knowledge that existed before that time.
This path to self-realization is helped by the use of appropriate techniques of Yoga that would remove the obstructions or structural defects in the mind of the practitioner of Yoga. The Practice of Yoga may not make you Spiritual but it certainly heightens the spiritual awareness that is already present in the person. To remove the obstructions in our own minds, we need discipline and self-study.
All ancient systems of healing have one thing in common, whether it came from the American continent or Asian Continent: persistent, repeated practice (perseverance) in the context of a general well being of the body, achieved through a balance between the physical body and external elements: Food, Stress, Work, Family, Society. No one can claim that one shot of Insulin will cure Diabetes or one session of Ayurveda massage would cure Arthritis.
How to arrive at this balance through the improvement of oneself, achieved through self realization (which is Yoga)? Majority of the physical complaints have a psychological or emotional component, which can be traced to the imbalance in the Personality Complex.
Balance is a concept understood by all ancient civilizations.
Chitta or the Personality Complex consists more than just mind but constitutes: Ego, Mind and Prana. Mind is the coordinator of the five senses of perception and the five senses of action. Prana is the subtle bio energy, which helps in the metabolism of the body.
The 17 different components are in constant motion of “collecting” sensations and generating ideas, thus making it the repository of “Personality”. This process is very susceptible to imbalance. Yoga is a technique of achieving a balanced state of Personality Complex, amidst the challenges of every day life.
All of us who live in this fast paced modern life know that Perseverance is a necessary attribute to succeed. A task cannot be completed, whether at work or at home, successfully without perseverance. In Yoga, it is all the more important.
Yoga cannot be a half-hearted attempt. One must wait until one is ready to attempt Yoga, Starting, Stopping and Resuming is not desirable and would not be beneficial for the control of Balance. Like many “successful” people in every day life, the effort at Yoga has to be focused and continuous. In our modern world, most people are seeking Spirituality, that which transcends us and our immediate relationships and searching for our role in the greater Universe, which comprises humans, animals, plants and inanimate world. Yoga can help you achieve this state.
The practice of Yoga, this path to self-realization is a CONTINUOUS one and should be done without interruption once a momentum is created. It is also important, especially for us living in this fast paced materialistic society that it has to be done NOT CASUALLY or IRRESPONSIBLY, as if we are doing something mechanically. It has to be done with Feeling and Sincerity.
We are VOLUNTARILY trying to bring changes in ourselves. It is only possible with continuing interest on our parts. This is not possible without effort: strong, clear and continuing.
The students have to be warned that while the efforts are long, the results are slow in coming.
Changing one’s nature and personality is not a short-term process; any one who has attended sessions with a psychiatrist or psychological analyst would know this.
Over and over, in medical literature, life style changes have been shown superior to pharmaceutical therapy in the prevention of Diabetes, Obesity, Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure and the other scourges of our time. But then why is that the average person not willing to follow this non-violent, natural way of doing things rather than swallowing a pill? In a recent study, it was shown that most health care professionals were not educated well enough to offer lifestyle management.
If you are interested in changing the quality of your life, Raja Yoga demands that you bring to it, PERSEVERANCE, not just the desire but also a devotion to that desire, you should make your mind ready to accept the changes that you wish for yourself, by preparing the mind with faith and knowledge, Come prepared with a deep conviction that you wish to change and you would be rewarded with that change.
dimanche 8 mai 2011
just look what I have taste in just two days..
Crayfish fried with dried chili
Prawn cooked iwth salted Egg
Shark Fin Soup with Carb Meat
Stir fried sweet potato shoots with garlic
Steamed Herbal Chicken wrapped with aluminum foil
Char Keow Teow
Claypot preserved red beancurd vegetables
Oyster sauce chicken
Homemade beancurd filled with soy sauce
Fried Cod Fish with oats
Four seasons dishes on a plate
No wonder the Malaysian Chinese have better health statistics than the other two major racial groups in this country: The Indians with their highest rate of Diabetes and the Malays with their highest rate of Obesity. Malaysia now ranks the highest in Asia and one of the highest in the world in Childhood Obesity.
The Chinese Health Statistics reflect the care and the money the chinese spend in preparation and consumption of good quality food, whether in house or dining out which they do very often.
Their lifestyle in the commercial world does predispose them to High Bloo Pressure and some of the heart diseases, but the time would come when the Chinese Community would learn non western ways of preventing theses diseases which would make Heart Centers and Dialysis centers less necessary.
With changes in Lifestyle it is possible to prevent Cardiac Diseases and also to arrest the progression of Cardiac diseases. I wish my chinese friends well, so that they can be a beacon of hope for the Malay and Indian communities who suffer much more from Cardiac and Kidney diseases than the Chinese.
I am happy to be eating so well in the company of my chinese friends in Malaysia..None of whom would need a consultation with a Cardiologist! Hurrah..
All Efforts at Self Improvement is Yoga.
Men and Women are confronted by existential questions about Happiness, Tranquility in Life and question the Meaning of Life.
It is impossible to know whether these age old questions would ever be solved.
At this second decade of the 21st century, a myriad of self improvement methodologies are available, and it is so vast, so varied, so contradictory and so confusing in its claims and counterclaims. There exists no compilation of all available thought methodologies of our era. Nor can there be one, since all of us live in the context of Time Urgency.
Yet, at a time when Sages existed with devotion to knowledge and lack of time urgency, they were able to write that which had a purpose, more than the purpose of writing for its own sake or propagandization of ones thoughts as an ideology or religious faith.
One such sage was Patanjali, thought to have lived around 200 BCE, around 2300 years before our current era.
He set out to compile the variety of techniques of self discipline of that time, and wrote it under the title, Yoga Sutras. As the son of the founder of the Yoga Institute in Santa Cruz, Dr Jayadeva Yogendra, has stated: Yoga in Patanjali’s view was a process of complete control of one’s personality, so that any one may discover one’s own true self.
The cultivation of one’s consciousness, to transcend our normal mundane and routine existence and attain the experience of the absolute or a higher level of consciousness was the goal, then 2300 years ago as it is today.
All of us wish to better our lives regardless of our social, economical, educational status.
But the demands of Time on an individual makes this search very difficult. Understanding the importance of discipline, continuing study of the philosophy, makes Yoga an appealing method of attaining the path to self realization and its by products on the body and the mind: health and better living. Our objective is self realization and better health and better living are some of its by products. Better living includes, what the sacred text, Gita, had said: Yoga is Efficiency
I am being introduced to the teachings of the Yoga Institute, Santa Cruz, Bombay, India by one of its recent graduates. (pictured above).
My notes are commentaries on Yoga Sutras by Patanjali annotated by Dr Jayadeva Yogendra. Referenced to his work and commentaries..
Thoughts on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali