Finding Beauty Around


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Windy season – Chronicles of Vata

Palm-Trees_Hurricane-Wilma

I decided to write this down mostly for myself, but maybe someone else who faces similar  mmm phenomena in their life will find it interesting as well.

If you are familiar with Ayurveda, you know that there are five elements in nature  –  earth, water, fire, air and ether(or space).  Every individual has a certain proportion of  those elements in their system, in Ayurveda it’s called doshas and there are three doshas –   Vata= air+space , Pitta = fire+water and Kapha =earth + water.  You can read more about doshas

Although we all have our unique  proportion of elements that we get from birth, doshas in our system can go out of balance under the influence of environment, seasonal changes, food that we eat, our lifestyle.   For example my combination is Vata + Pitta, Vata is air and motion, and it is Vata that goes out of balance easier than other doshas.  Especially when the seasons are changing  (it’s usually February-March and August-September when it will be most imbalanced).  Also if you travel a lot, when you don’t have a regular routine, etc.   I ll make a separate post that talks more about all those details, today I just wanted to note some funny effect that imbalanced Vata has on our system and remind  (myself first of all!) what to do when it happens🙂

So, if you notice that –

–  You can not find your phone (keys, wallet  or something else), you start running around like crazy looking for it and then find it in the most obvious place where it’s supposed to be and it happens to you  again and again  around 5-10  times a day

–  Things start flying out of you hands! They are literally flying, you maybe standing in the kitchen and stirring the soup and then you observe how the spoon flies out of your hands, splashes soup everywhere and lands  on the floor🙂 You also drop jars and boxes full of tiny objects like fennel seeds or cotton buds that spread all over the floor

– You get really irritable and impatient because everything takes forever !! and you really can’t wait at all, it’s not a fiery irritation or anger, it’s more like you have an itchy mind, and the more you need to wait the more it itches🙂

–  You are trying to do a thousand things at a time,  you don’t know which one is the first to start with so you run around in confusion : )

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It means you Vata is out of balance, there is a Vata hurricane blowing in your mind  (and probably in the body too;), it does not let you concentrate on one thing and does not let you stop.

So the first thing I need to do when it happens, is to  stop, sit down and do something to end this madness🙂  Which is usually the last thing that Vata blown mind wants to do.

If you know a meditation technique or breathing technique or mudra pranayama  sit down and do it, it won’t be a time wasted at all (but so it seems to a crazy windy mind!)

You will notice such a big difference after just 15-20 minutes of meditation or breathing, your mind will settle down, you’ll stop loosing and dropping things 20 times a day and will have much more patience!

It is also a good reminder that all those “Vata manifestations” like irritability, scattered brain etc.  are not who I am, they are just caused by the changes in the environment and we can affect and control it to some extent.  Also if you are rarely affected  by hose things but somebody next to you shows the symptoms  mentioned above , don’t get mad at them🙂   They just need to remember to sit back and  help their mind to settle down.


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Negative emotions – are they that negative ?

angry-child

In our western culture, positive attitude and positive emotions seem to be  a highly sought-after commodity   How many times do you come across pictures and sayings in social media networks about  the power of positive thinking and positive emotions?  But is it all that good?  In a non dual approach, emotions are not divided into positive and negative, they are just emotions.   In the end emotions are impulses in the body and chemical reactions in the cells, but what makes them negative?    It’s when we block them off, trying our best not to experience them.   Isn’t it what we all secretly want   –    To  experience only  positive things  in life and to avoid experiencing “negative” things.

And it is often hard for us to  accept that our partners, family members etc.  are experiencing those emotions   –  partially it’s because we want them to be happy  and we are worried about them and partially maybe because we ourselves were denied a chance to experience/express our negative emotions without being told that “good kids don’t behave this way”.

Emotions are not even something we can control,  not in the sense that we can’t control how and when to express them, but in the sense that we really don’t know when are we going to experience which emotion  –  they are like waves in the ocean, they come and go, sometimes there’s a big storm and more waves are coming up, sometimes there is no storm,  it’s all so calm and quite.   Those waves are the impressions from the depths of our consciousness,  it’s good that they are coming up, but we only give them a  chance to leave us and go away   if we accept them and experience them with awareness.

The other thing about emotions is that they are like two sides of a coin –  you can’t eliminate one side and only have the other,  people who decided to never feel fear or shame can’t truly experience joy, unless they will let themselves go through those debris of emotions, they don’t want to feel.

All this information is not something new at all, but somehow  I felt it might be useful to go through it  again.  While I was doing some sewing the other day  I put on one audio talk from http://www.audioveda.ru , it was a talk about the nature of emotions and how to deal with them by  Ruslan Narushevich, who  is a vedic astrologer, psychologist and  family councilor,   unfortunately the talk was in Russian, so I’m sharing the essence of it here.  Below are some main points  –

–       Most people  in the process of growing up have been told/shown that experiencing fear-sadness-anger etc – is not good or is not appreciated by parents, we also started linking  ourselves with  the emotions and think that we are bad if we feel them.

–   In modern society, people aim  towards increasing comfort and material well-being  –   we want to enjoy, if we don’t feel joy anymore, we think it’s because we need to get more things or experiences  that would  give us more joy,   we try to squeeze joy out of life, but squeezing the same sugarcane again and again will not give you more juice.   What it means is that we need to  accept that in life there is a place for both “positive” and “negative” emotions, we accept them as natural cycle or rhythm of life.

–     It is a little bit ironic really, first we created  society where people need to control emotions all the time, then we discover that is’t bad for  our  health, so we have to come up with all the various  techniques to “release”  the emotions.   In fact if we can only get a chance to experience them in the atmosphere where it is safe to do so  (“safe”  –  means that nobody will judge you or explain to you that there is no reason to feel this way )  we will feel that emotions just  come and go, they don’t intend to stay with us forever.

–  It’s a duty of parents to give this opportunity to their children  –  so that they can  safely experience  ”negative” emotions, without being labeled as naughty or bad.  And children just like adults can experience negative emotions, that have the same intensity as our grown-up ones, and that come out of nowhere sometimes, just because we are tired, or because it’s a full moon, oh because we ate a strange food before.    This reminds me of Kate’s stories from   http://katesurfs.wordpress.com/ how she lets her kids cry in her arms.

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–  When it comes to  dealing with negative emotions in man/woman relationship it is  important to remember  about the differences in psyche  of  men and women.    While  dealing with negative emotions  men often need space, they need to zone out and to forget, immerse themselves in some activity that they like,  so they can clear their mind and go back to dealing with the problem next day.  For women it is important to just get it out of the system  –  often we feel better,  less stressed  or worried, just because we had a chance to talk about it, to tell someone  exactly how something  makes us feel.

So here comes the interesting thing  –  we, human beings, often think  that others feel/react/understand the same way  like we do, so men are often trying to give women some space and women are often trying to talk to men and find out  exactly how it makes them feel :)))   Like in that story when the fox invited a crane for lunch and served food in flat plates, which is very convenient for a fox but not at all for crane.  Crane returned the favor by feeding the fox from a tall jug :))     So we act a bit like  that crane and fox when:

– Women don’t give space to men (because women don’t need space when they are upset, they need supporting communication) and take it personally when men need to zone out and to clear their mind.

–   When women  are upset with something that their partner does or does not do, they  wait and wait till their partner will GUESS what’s wrong, because  if he loves, he should guess!  He does not guess and sometime does not  even notice.  (Not because he does not care, but because he does not have an inbuilt  ”function of guessing what’s wrong”)

–  Sometimes it’s hard for women  to express themselves  in a proper way when they  are upset, due to their emotional nature,  if they  could become aware of it before it will escalate and just say – ” I  need some support, I m feeling  this or that way”, trying not to blame the other side  –  there is more chances they  will find understanding.  (It sounds like a piece  of cake, but in reality when we have a strong emotion, more often it makes us feel that it’s the other persons fault, and before we notice we start blaming, our partner feels like he is being attacked and attacks us back, we fight ). I will  talk a bit more about this one in some other post , because it took me a while to start practicing it  ;))

On the other hand  –

–  Men don’t understand why women are so emotional and have mood changes so they say something  like  –  ”You should not be so upset about it!”  ( really because they would not be so upset about it themselves  so they   logically  explain why women  should not be so  upset.

–  For men it’s hard  to just  listen   without providing  practical  advice (which is  sometimes the last thing women  want to hear when they  are upset ). They feel responsible, so they feel that they need to fix something, but the best way to “fix” your  lady when she is upset is to patiently listen to  her telling how she feels and why  (sometimes over and over again LOL).

So, the proper way to serve food to fox and crane would be  :- )

For  women  –  give your man  some space  (it does not mean that he  would not talk about the problem at all, but he probably  would not go into the depth analyzing how he  feels and why)  and let him  know that you believe in him, you believe  he  will deal with all the challenges

For men  –   give your woman  a chance to talk about her  feeling and just listen,  let her  know  it’s ok to be upset and you are here for her, she is  safe with you.

oh, well it’ s such a big topic anyway, and i feel that i will write few more posts  to continue, but for now hope this was somehow helpful🙂


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My Love of Miso

Couple of weeks ago I found this new stall at our organic farmers markets in Miami –  Rice Culture,

They  sell Organic Miso  –  fermented product made from soy beans,

There only 4 items in the Ingredients on the label  :  Australian organic soy beans , Australian organic  rice, sea  salt and culture  (Koji starter), I like when things in the jars have only a few ingredients on the the list and when they all sound like  natural ones🙂   Yay!  Well this miso is not only Unpasteurized and Organic,  it is also hand made and it’s made locally,  here on the Gold Coast.

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I realize the photo would look better if the jar was full, unfortunately i already finished half of it :))

It turns out that Miso is quite an ancient food,   ” Miso’s origins can be traced to China as far back as the 4th century BC.  A seasoning, called Hisio, was a paste resulting from the fermenting a mixture of soybeans, wheat  and salt.    In Japan, miso was introduced in  the 7th century by buddhist monks. The process of making Miso was furher refined and it became a necessary part of the samurai diet.  ”

Miso is a paste that can be used in various ways in cooking, it’s a base for traditional Japanese Miso soup, you can add it in vegetables when you cook or make a sauce with it.  I even like using it as a spread on toast ! I just checked Rice Culture website and they have some  interesting recipes there  – Rice Culture

I like Miso because of it’s taste and it’s grounding effect on my system, especially if it’s cold or windy outside, of after I spent the whole day  running around , it really helps to settle down.  Miso is also quite good for you because it ‘s a product of natural fermentation process   –     ” Miso’s fermentation process enables the superior nutritional characteristics of the soybean to be assimilated readily by the body.  Miso is a rich source of proteins, fibre, minerals, vitamines and isoflavones,  (about 20mg/100g), saponins, soy protein (partly digested) and live enzymes (in non-pasteurized miso).”

Live enzymes  –  that sounds interesting ….There is a whole concept how fermentation process transforms the   nutrients in the grains and soy beans  making them more readily  available for our system to utilize.  They say that is the reason why all ancient breads were made with a cultured starter (I started making rye bread with a home made starter,  I ll make a separate post about it)

I searched  online  looking for more information on the benefits of fermented soy  products, another concept I  came across (I heard about it before as well) is this one     – ” All legumes contain phytate (also known as phytic acid) to some extent, but the soybean is particularly rich in this anti-nutrient. Phytate works in the gastrointestinal tract to tightly bind minerals such as zinc, copper, iron, magnesium and calcium, causing the deficiency.    In most legumes  soaking is enough to break down most of the phytate content. However the soybean requires that the enzymes be released in the fermentation process to reduce its phytate content to the point where it becomes fit for consumption. This means that fermented soy foods like miso and tempeh have the lowest levels of phytate and are the best choices for anyone wishing to eat soybean products. Tofu is also a good choice, as long as care is taken to replenish loss nutrients” (Source  –  Natural News). That’s something new for me…  Oh well, with soy products, like with any other “health foods” there will be the whole bunch of  opinions stating how it’s so good for you, it fights cancer, etc and the whole bunch of opposite opinions stating that it slows down brain function …

I guess the key is in moderation.  I remember I read once in one book on Ayurvedic cooking, how Western mentality can perceive  something as   only good or only bad, like yogurt is very good for you or yogurt is terribly bad for you. According to Ayurveda if you eat a little bit of yogurt (which is actually a cultured food too)  with the right spices it’s good, if you eat too much or late at night it becomes a heavy food.   “When fermented soy foods are used in small amounts they help build the inner ecosystem, providing a wealth of friendly microflora to the intestinal tract that can help with digestion and assimilation of nutrients, and boost immunity”.

How to use Miso

-Miso is a sticky paste and  it needs to be mixed with a bit of water if you want to use  it in a soup or in a sauce .

-To preserve the good bacteria  in Miso it  should never be cooked with the food but added at the end of the cooking.

-After opening a package of Miso it will keep for several months in the fridge.

And now it’s time for me to go and eat a toast with some  Miso paste on top😉

 


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sun-moon

Well, I was thinking of writing about  this one for a while now, it s a very interesting and quite practical thing,

See, according to eastern philosophies, energies of  man and  woman are different, female energy is a lunar energy, what does it mean ?    It means that  the power of that energy is peace and tranquility, it is soothing and comforting, it gives relief and rest.     Male energy is the energy of the sun –  it  means activity,  perseverance, overcoming obstacles.     Some eastern teachings say that a main task for a  woman is to accumulate and build up that peace and tranquility inside.

Why would we need to do that  ?  It comes really handy to have your own pool of tranquility in times when everything around is crazy. When you have that space of tranquility within, you can transfer it on to your partner, your family, when they need it most.   It often happens in the family that negative state or negative emotions of one person affect everyone else around  and it has a snowball effect, that’s when our “lunar” tranquility comes to a rescue.   And Please don’t think that spending time on yourself is selfish, in fact it s very unselfish, because it s your family who will enjoy having peaceful you around.  Who would not want their wife or their mum to be happy and calm ?

SO, some obvious and not very obvious ways of accumulating this energy for a woman.

1) Finding time to look after yourself   –   having a massage,  looking after your hair and nails,  I find it very calming to have a self massage with sesame or coconut oil once a week, including the head  massage  (and my hair love coconut oil!) Massage with warm oil naturally calms the system, it s good for our skin as well, and if you are familiar with Ayurveda,  it s good for balancing Vata dosha.    In some ancient cultures they used to think that hair is the storage of positive energy for a woman,  when your hair are looked after, beautiful and shiny  you will feel more positive and energized.

2)  Increasing the beauty in you and around you –  just notice how it makes you feel different when you have flowers in the house, or when you put on some skirt or dress that you really like,  everyone has their own, unique understanding of beauty, I m not going to inspire you to look like people in magazines or in movies, but I m talking about feeling  beautiful, and creating beauty in the space around you.

3) I especially love this one –  getting together with other women and spending time not doing anything “important” really, but just talking, cooking, making stuff together, even putting colorful polish on your nails etc.   is really really vital in uplifting female lunar energy  :)  Believe me, even if it looks like a complete waist of time, it s not!!

If there is no time  or for some reason there is no opportunity to catch up with friends too often  –  talk to your girl-friends on the phone, on skype.  You know women need that, they need to share their feeling and emotions and ideas with other people, I know a man can never understand how you can spend 1 hour talking on skype, but if we don’t talk and don’t share with our friends, then the whole flow of our feelings, emotions  and ideas will hit one person –  our partner, and no man can survive that  : )  Yesterday I spend couple of hours discussing  with my friend on skype how to make a nice skirt  and how to cook a yummy cabbage dish and other such things :))    Which leads us to our next point –

4)  Crafts –  creating things with your hands, knitting, sawing, crocheting,  making stuffed toys, anything you like   –  uplifts the lunar energy as well, if you can get together and do it with other women   –  even better  : )

5) Making food and feeding people  –   there is something magical about food ))  I love  making food and eating food with others, although I m still quite happy to eat my food by myself,   it’s an increased pleasure when you can share a meal with a friend  and enjoy it together  ;)

6) Growing your own vegetables increases lunar energy  –  I won’t be able to explain the “scientific”  part right now, but I m sure you know  how it makes difference when you start growing something in the pot on your balcony.

7) Having things pleasant for your senses around –  we already talked about flowers, maybe some candles and incense sticks ?  Or Aroma oil lamp ?   Or pleasant music.   Actually in Ayurveda they talk about the importance of proper food for our body and proper food for our mind – for the senses  –     it’s important for your mental health to “feed” your mind with nice impressions –  walking in the nature,  looking at the moon etc.

8) Your spiritual practice – meditation, yoga, other spiritual  practices  that help to calm the mind and release stress.   I find that Sudarshan Kriya  is  very effective and it does not take much time, which makes it easy to practice everyday.

9) Singing and dancing –    In many ancient cultures they had a tradition of singing while doing their daily things, singing to put children to sleep,  singing for special occasions  and  festivals.  Singing and playing musical instruments purifies and uplifts the energy.  Oh, that reminds me that it’s been a while since we had a Satsang here  (when we gather and sing  some chants in Sanskrit and some other songs and sometimes even kids songs )

It’s not a complete list of course, there is more to come on that topic  :)  and  those things listed above seem like nothing new, we all know about it and we all  do it, some more often than others, but  I wanted to write about it  because    we often think that all this is not important, there is something else  that is more important, we keep running around doing all the “important” things, we get tired and depleted, or  sometimes our mind tells us that those things is a waist of time and we have heaps to do, no time for making stuffed toys,  putting oil in the hair or chatting on the phone with a friend.

Also women have this habit to nurture everyone else around but to forget about  themselves, but the law of the nature is  –  you can give and share something when you are full, you can give  love, energy, support to your family when you have it inside.   So, on the part of being a responsible parent, wife, partner  –  it’s our responsibility to make sure we remember to top up our “pool” of lunar energy  :D

For me finding time to do those things regularly is a good investment in myself, and for me personally, it s a good reminder, that in all those things the result is not as important as enjoying the process, getting in touch with my “lunar” energy  and learning to be a  a more peaceful, balanced person.

Trains, taxis and improved communication

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One of the reasons why I wanted to start writing is because I wanted to share my experience in becoming a better wife  and making relationships work.  I was lucky enough to come across a series of talks by Ruslan Narushevich, based on modern psychology and ancient wisdom, so most of the things I will write here are based on his talks and my daily observations🙂

Well,  I believe some people must be wise and intuitive enough to know those things, but I was not one of them,   we don’t get this sort of information at school or in uni, neither  we get it from older generation, we think that if we just find the right person than  things will work out somehow, and part of it is true, with some people we find understanding and with others it’s way to hard to express yourself… and even now, after learning all those things, it is still good to have it in front of me as a reminder .. so, maybe I m writing for myself as well🙂

So I will start with a very basic thing  and that would be –  WE ARE DIFFERENT .   Sounds like such an obvious statement, don’t you think so ?   Of course we are different!  you can say.  But without understanding where those differences come from, we are bound do perceive  other person as an alien from a strange planet and sometimes we even take it negatively …

The biggest lesson that I learned  will be –  I can’t expect my husband to react to things and process things the way I do it.   Sounds pretty obvious again … but I figured out that if I don’t apply it in everyday life it becomes a source of irritation and causes fights, and it’s not because my husband is bad, but because my mind expects a certain type of reaction from him  …

Ok, here is a simple example, your partner is sitting in front of the TV or Computer or reading something, you are coming to ask him a question or asking to help you, and all that you hear in response is some moaning and groaning and no action required :))  This used to annoy me so much, just because I was thinking  –  what can be easier that taking your eyes off the screen and replying, at least say  “Ok, give me 10 minutes, I ll finish here and help you” . My thought was if I do that, then why can’t he do the same ?!  I kept being irritated until I found an article explaining the difference between female and male mind.   The mind of a man is like a train, it moves with a certain speed towards it’s destination, in other words  when a man is engaged in activity (Note – it can be any activity from a very important work to watching something funny on youtube) all the energy of his mind, all the concentration goes into that, other things around cease to exist :)  Feminine mind is able to  switch between the objects or tasks faster. It’s like a taxi  –  you can ask to stop the taxi around the corner just as it goes, you can’t ask to stop the train around the corner, it takes a while for the train to stop, breaking path  of the train could be more than  1 km!!

So when your man is engaged in some activity  and you are coming over to ask him for something, allow enough time for the “train to stop”.  And  the grumbling that you hear in response is the sound of a “stopping train”…literally, it means he is switching between the tasks… Another interesting thing is that if you ask a woman for help , she will only grumble in response if she absolutely  hates it, and because we are that way, we think that our partner grumbles in response because he really does not want to go to the shop or to help with kids, when in fact he is just “stopping the train”….

Ever since I heard this, I have an image of the stopping train in the situations like that, it does not annoy  me anymore and I just wait for the “train to stop”, if the “train did not stop”, I can come back after 5-10 minutes and ask again…

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Most of us are familiar with cold sore, it pops up on your lip when your immune system is running low, as far as I know the virus  (correct me if I’m wrong)  always lives in the body, but when the system is stressed and tired it comes out as a cold sore.

I don’t have them too often, last time was a few years ago, and there is a number of anti-viral remedies available in  the store, but ever since David (my husband) told me that I  can use ice to prevent it from developing, I m using only that.  First time when i tried and it worked i was quite excited, i thought it s like magic, who might think that something as simple as ice can make it disappear  and save me from going through an unpleasant process of having an inflamed blob on the lip.   (If only i knew about it back then when i lived in Siberia!)

What you need to do is –  as soon as you feel it is going to come out, put some ice (or a cold pack) to it and hold it for  few minutes.  Sometimes I do it twice.  And it never comes out and does not develop.