Monthly Archives: October 2018

You don’t need an act of congress to heal the Earth

There are scary headlines these days of how our Earth’s climate is rapidly changing due to CO2 emissions caused by the burring of fossil fuel. Go to any Facebook page and you will get shouted down if you express any opinion about whether climate change is real or not. In the past two years in Hawai’i, I have had enough hurricane close calls to allay any doubt. Climate change is here and now.

It is frustrating to watch the news and see inaction from political leaders. The good news is that we don’t need to wait for them to debate on whether to take action or not. We can take action ourselves. Probably the most radical thing you can do is plant your own food. That doesn’t mean you have to live off what you plant, as that would take a lot of real estate. Start small. The smaller the better. Start a small planter in your window sill or patio. The aim isn’t necessarily to grow sustenance for your family. It is for you to slow down and watch how nature works.

We have become so far removed from nature that we are not even sure how plants grow anymore. By starting to grow your own food, you see the process. You even make errors and learn from those errors. Every year you gain confidence to grow more. After a few years, you are growing enough to feed yourself and family from garden to table several nights per week. You don’t have to garden the way I do, explore what methods work for you. If you can’t figure it out, just take a pack of seeds and plant them on a place on your lawn. Nature will guide you on what to do next.

By watching how nature works, you tend to develop respect for her. That leads to a lot of other choices: use less fuel, turn off lights when not in use, limit plastic use, and vote for candidates who want a sustainable world for their grandkids.

Its not too late. But we do have to act and the sooner the better. I would like to keep things nice for the next generation.

 

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Sensitive to the changes of season

Yoga practice and gardening have much in common. The one thing that stands out is that one becomes very sensitive to nature and its forces. This is the time of year in Hawai’i when it is brutally hot and humid. The air is so thick, that senior teacher Joan White was giving a workshop this time of year and said the air actually had “weight” to it. However, there is usually one day in the month of October where the weather changes radically from hot and humid to constant rain. Just before that is the optimal time to plant seeds in the garden. You have to time it just right. Every night I am aware of any temperature drop and feel of rainfall. Once it starts, it doesn’t usually let up for a month or so.

To prep for this auspicious time I prep my garden area which has been overgrown with grass with a hand sickle. I cut back the grass and let it decay for a while which makes a mulch bed for the yet-to-be-sown seeds.

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Coming back from my trip a month ago has left me swamped with catch up paperwork at my regular job. Not to mention caregiving duties and surprise visitors. With the stress, the time change, and the weather, my immune system has lowered and I caught bronchitis. Lo and behold, at the peak of my cold, the time came to sow seeds.

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Not to be deterred, I plotted along and scattered all the seeds I’ve been storing for this occasion. Here are a few. I am trying a few “red” varieties this year like burgundy okra (seen above) red malabar spinach and red Kyoto carrots.

With all the seeds finally planted, I went back into my sick mode and saw a doctor. Turns out I have bronchitis. I have found a good remedy is Korean tofu stew. I usually can’t stand in due its intense hot temperature and spiciness, but its all I have been craving.

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As far as classes, I manage to teach as best I can in my state. It is very difficult to teach when you are not feeling well. However, I do feel that somehow teaching has gotten “easier” since I’ve been back. A lot of my students who have been a way for a while have been returning. There are a lot of injuries and issues, so I have to divide my students into groups. I never had to do that much before now.

We are on the second night of Navratri, and I can feel the grace of┬áBrahmacharini, one of the nine manifestations of Durga celebrated during this time. She was said to be resolute and did tapas for 5,000 years until she met her goal. I always enjoy celebrating and trying to keep up with the time difference between here and India to “catch” the right goddess on the correct night.

This is an auspicious time. A time of sowing, a time of celebration, a time of season change, and a time of recovering after a long journey.

Many blessings.

Can kindness be taught?

A while ago when I was attending weekly meditations with my teacher Tom, he said what I thought was a benign statement after our meditation. “Kindness is one of the rarest things you’ll find in the universe.” He is a kind man, so at the time I shrugged it off as just a normal statement you’d hear in any meditation group. Water is wet.

It isn’t until one has a few rough years under their belt when they realize how true and powerful that statement is. Kindness is one of the rarest things you’ll find in the universe. Even when I garden, I notice how certain plants attack each other for sunlight and root space. I notice how the insects prey on each other. I notice how the geckos prey on the insects and so on. At that level it isn’t personal, its just survival in nature.

As we are “evolved” human beings, we can discern whether or not we are kind to each other. More and more these days we are not. From rush hour traffic, to debating politicians, I doesn’t really pay to be kind in a competitive world. In fact, some may see it as a distinct disadvantage.

So at one point soon we have will to decide if this is the kind of world we want to live in. Do we just want to be nasty to each other, or do we want to at least get along enough to maintain our community?

It seems more and more that people come to yoga to find kindness from outside society. As yoga teachers, I feel it is our duty to provide a place for people to come and at least find some sort of respite from not only the outside world, but respite from themselves.

Can you teach people how to be kind? As a person with a background in psychology, I feel it is one of the most difficult things to teach. You can tell someone to suppress their unkindness, but you can’t make someone be spontaneously kind. From a Behaviorist standpoint, you can reinforce the behavior of people who do kind actions. But from the Person-Centered standpoint, one realizes that someone is kind no matter what the outcome and is not looking for a reward.

Now that 30 day challenges are new thing in yoga, I propose a 30 day challenge to find that side of you that is kind and make it noticeable to all around you with whom you interact. If rarity is valuable, and kindness is one the rarest thing in the universe, you will see your personal value leap quantumly.