2011 2018 kula Desa Seni, A Village Resort Volume # 29 · January · February · March
“Life is such a gift, I just say Thank you all day .” Natalie Cole
Meditation Cleans the Mind by Angela Perez
Allow the brain muscle to relax in the bliss of nothingness. Allow your soul to become one with all around you, to melt into the infinite wisdom of the universe, to be in the state of deep internal calmness.
MAHA DEVI YOGA
o meditate is probably one of the biggest challenges of the modern human being: to do nothing, to just observe, to just be, to sit down and be still, to settle down and observe. Sit, be still, and don’t react to the external or internal stimuli. The biggest challenges can be the simplest things at the same time: to just be, be here and now, completely present, and in the present moment. We must learn to use our minds as an instrument, and not as our unique “I”. We keep thinking that we are our minds; that we cannot change. We allow our minds to take over, telling us constantly about how good or miserable we are, making judgments about this or that, projecting to the future, remembering the past over and over. But, actually, our minds are nothing but an instrument. The mind is like the wild animal that we need to learn to tame. In the beginning, it is difficult to have control over the mind. The wild mind wants to run, jump, scream, to be quiet again, and specifically wants to tell you: “You can’t do this, you can’t tame me, I’m the boss” or “This is silly, you are wasting your time. We have so many things to do and think about!” Oh the mind – so like the small child that doesn’t want to take his bath everyday. We really need to train it in order to do a “cleaning” every day. In the same way that we take a shower each morning, and we feel much better afterwards and for exactly the same reasons that we clean our teeth after a meal, we need to clean our minds and our thoughts every day. This practice, cleaning our minds, is what we call meditation. And by doing this, we start to walk the path towards deeper meditation and a calmer mind. Meditation will help us to become aware of
the kind of thoughts that we have, and in this way, we are more able to select the ones that we would like to keep, to grow, to empower; and also select the ones that are not useful anymore. Meditation will help us to bring peace to our lives, to make space for our real being, to connect deeper with our intuition, and help us to heal our selves. On the physical level, the emotional level, and the mental level, by being still, observing the feelings in our bodies, our emotions, and our minds, meditation will help us to heal and forgive ourselves and others. The intuition that we have, and that we can develop even more, is simply amazing. We just need to listen, to stop our minds of the constant nonsense talk, and listen. Listen beyond hearing. Listen beyond the mind. Allow the brain muscle to relax in the bliss of nothingness. Allow your soul to become one with all around you, to melt into the infinite wisdom of the universe, to be in the state of deep internal calmness. To be able to achieve this state of bliss can take time. It will always be much easier with the guidance of an experienced meditator or teacher. Just being in the same room with someone that has a strong meditation practice will help you to achieve a deeper state of meditation. This is one of the reasons we continue to meet with teachers, gurus, or other meditators: we support and guide each other. If you want to tame your wild beast, you should always try to learn from the best wild beast tamer! To do it alone will always be much more difficult, especially at the beginning. For most people, its best to find some meditation classes and some guidance. This will make the process much easier! The practice of meditation will change your life. Even a short meditation of 10 to 15 minutes each day will bring a powerful shift in
the way that you are with yourself, with your partner and friends, with your problems, and even with your joy. You can try for a month. Just one month of 10 to 15 minutes of daily meditation will bring so many benefits to your life that you won’t want to stop! It becomes a habit like taking a shower, but this is a shower for your mind! And, in the same way that it is good to do a deeper cleaning of your body from time to time (a scrub, a steam bath, or a good workout), it is also important to do a deeper meditation from time to time. I would say that all of us should do at least one silent meditation retreat per year, even if just a short one. To learn to be in silence, without telephone or internet connection, meditating, going inwards, is a powerful, healthy habit. If you haven’t tried it yet, I invite you to consider it. Perhaps as a beginner, not a 10-day Vipassana retreat, which might be too difficult or discouraging, but rather try a weekend meditation retreat of 3 or 4 days. The effects will last for months and the magic of discovering the self is indescribable. The effects of meditation are seen during your daily life. It is through meditation that we can start to find answers to our questions. We will see our problems from different perspectives and find solutions more easily. We can find the roots of our pains and find the source of our joy. “Meditation is an adventure, adventure into the unknown, the greatest adventure the human mind can take. Meditation is just to be, not doing anything, no action, no thought, no emotion. You just are and it is a sheer delight. From where does this delight come when you are not doing anything? It comes from nowhere, or it comes from everywhere. It is uncaused, because existence is made of the stuff called joy.” ~ Osho
Science of the Chakras By Octavio Salvado
t’s happening. Cracks are appearing on the surface and an ancient light is shining through. Mindless vinyasa is dead. Asana practice absent of strategy, context and a deep honoring of the past is a ‘thing of the past’. The spiral has wrapped back on itself and the old ways are returning with new insights encoded. The ancient spiritual science of ‘living’ is re-emerging, led by a bright and burning battalion of yoga revolutionaries and new generation crusaders, all barreling down the hard wood floor wielding an irrepressible love for the practice like a sharp and shining bayonet. Yoga is too important and too precious to approach half-heartedly. The path of yoga is a science; there can be no doubt in this - an exquisite, precise, impeccably researched and well-documented science of being human. Whether it’s the way we align our limbs in poses, or minds in concentration, our breath in pranayama, or the way we align our tongue inside our mouth as sacred syllables slide through the gaps creating new vibrations and manifestation, the invitation is the same: be present. Embody ‘skill in action’, because it’s the science that creates the art; it’s the strategy - the commitment to align ourselves well, that creates the opportunity for light to pour in and out. Woven throughout yoga’s rich and fascinating historical tapestry we find radiant examples - men and women who dedicated their lives to building the diamond bridge between science and spirit, a bridge that will never complete itself, yet must be labored
over regardless. Yoga is evolving, not yearly, but with each breath, and as humanity is doing the same, the bridge stretches into forever. From the steel beams and hand-laid stones we gaze out across the expanse of time and although seeing only a fraction of the total scene, it’s nonetheless a sight to behold - we have recognized dancing patterns of light; patterns within patterns within patterns. We are remembering the holographic blueprint of life. We can access our lungs through the soles of our feet and our trauma through the pulse of our breath. What exists in one place also exists in another and another. We are remembering, and we are paying attention, both to the wisdom of the now and the wisdom of the past. When Pythagoras looked at the stars and calculated the distances between them he knew they were grand expressions of a musical scale, each planet humming a pure tone – a symphonic galaxy. He was right. And that same scale hums within us, within the wiring of the nervous system. When a child shines the sun’s light through a crystal, a rainbow emerges from the underside. This same fractal reality also exists within us, as us. We don’t often think of ourselves as particles of light, let alone a symphony. Yet we are. We are light and we are music, sounding and shining out from deep within this human appliance, our body. We are electrical. We are plugged in, charged up, battery operated, solar powered, life powered, God powered appliances. “Yoga is the manual,” said Swami Gitanan-
da - the Guru of my Guru. And he knew. After years of Sadhana as a youth alongsRam Gopal – the sleepless saint, Gitananda went on to study medicine in England. He became a doctor and medical surgeon and for 38 years practiced across Europe, America and Canada before returning to his homeland, India. There he built the Ananda Ashram and began his work in decoding yogic symbolism and subtle body references that were often shrouded in wild mythology and intentionally vague meanings. His dedicated work in unveiling the mystery of the Chakras was, and still is, invaluable for the western mind that works in a more linear, pragmatic way. Chakras are no great mystery. They become mysterious when presented outside of a scientific context. The truth is, they are concrete scientific realities – universal forces of nature working through us. There is nothing random or unaccounted for in terms of their symbolism, colors, frequencies, geometries or their psychological and physiological properties. For example, the force of gravity also works through our physical body. Within yoga, it is known as Muladhara Chakra. Every natural force in our world – gravity, cohesion, combustion, repulsion, electromagnetism, and magnetism all pool and express themselves somewhere along our spine in relation to nerve bundles, and then again in smaller quantities within every single cell. Muladhara energy manifests as the gravitational drawing inwards of contracting muscles that create physiological stability. It is expressed as every single cell’s capacity to draw towards it, the nutrients it requires for
Chakras are no great mystery. They become mysterious when presented outside of a scientific context.
health, nourishment and repair. It creates the density of our bones. Muladhara is the inner humming and shining of the sacral nerve plexus, a nerve group that sends nerve-cables down our powerful legs into the soles of our feet connecting us to the earth and our own sense of feeling grounded and stable, or lack thereof. Standing poses such as Virabhadrasana (Warrior) 1 and 2 empower this chakra, and therefore empower us. Information from the earth travels up the nerves through the soles of the feet. The more integrity our foundation has, the more we ‘root’ ourselves down, the cleaner the energy conduction and the more ‘charge’ we receive. Extra energy is drawn into the nervous system from the act of the muscles engaging and hugging onto the bones, increasing stability, which leads to an increase in proficiency which in turn creates increased confidence and self worth: two psychological components often spoken of in relation to the first chakra. A reporter in the 60’s asked Gitananda if he watched television. Like most great sages, Gitananda had a temper. He turned to the man and in a sharp, booming voice replied, “I’ve got my own vision!” Like the yogis of old, Swami Ji had cultivated a capacity to hear and see more of the electromagnetic spectrum than the senses left on autopilot will consciously detect. Through science we now have the capacity to do the same - see more. For example, if we look at our hand (or anything) under an electron microscope we see that there is nothing solid about the situation we are looking at. Solidity and therefore reality as
we thought of it, are an illusion or Maya, a sheath concealing a deeper truth: that life is vibratory in nature. Life is sound and light in motion - a combination of universal forces wrapping around each other creating the illusion of materiality. The way that these energies (electromagnetic waves) wrap around each other, the angles at which they cross, creates the variation in what we see. When the energy lines cross at angles of 60 degrees, for instance, life expresses as the water element. Look at a snowflake or a frozen water molecule. There will be an infinite number of brilliant and unique designs expressed on the periphery, yet one thing will remain constant; there will always be 6 sides, it will always be split into 60 degree angles. This is why the mandala for the second chakra has 6 petals. Just as the first chakra mandala has 4, relating to the 90 degree angles of intersection that create the building blocks of our ‘material’ world – the atom. Think Warrior pose again: “Bend your front knee to 90 degrees”. Why? Stability. Gravity. Grounded-ness. Swadhistana, the second Chakra is the subtle body component of the hypo-gastric nerve plexus. From here, nerves extend and weave themselves through and around organs that govern the movement of fluid through the body, such as the bladder. Bodily functions like ejaculation in men and urination are also coordinated via the help of these information tendrils flowing out from the second chakra nerve hub. There are no gaps in the science of yoga. Every number and minor detail is accounted for. The language of yoga, Sanskrit, is
equally as comprehensive. There are 16 petals surrounding Vishudha Chakra (brachial plexus), and there are 16 vowel tones in the Sanskrit alphabet. This is not a coincidence. There are 50 petals from base chakra to brow chakra and 50 characters in original Sanskrit. See the connection? Simply by correctly articulating different words in spoken Sanskrit or mantra, we switch on different combinations of subtle body sound codes, which in turn connect to the nervous system and then to the different glands and organs of the body. That is why chanting ‘SHI – VA’ provokes a different energetic response than chanting ‘KRISH – NA’. Every Goddess, every story, mantra and chakra is a scientific truth waiting to be embraced. The higher we move up the spine or ascend the musical scale, or the deeper we explore rainbow light fractals or the orbiting patterns of planets, the more we see the symmetry, the science, and the beauty. We see a group of forces expressing themselves within different contextual fields, different playgrounds - sometimes a cell, sometimes a human being, and sometimes an entire galaxy. Isn’t life incredible? That here in this world of light and sound the simple act of lifting a clear stone to the sun can tell us everything we need to know about who we are and where we came from? The truth is, even the smallest act can reveal the entire story, the complete song contained in a single note. Can you hear the melody? Its the sound of energy meeting...dancing....and remembering the source of its brilliant, luminous beginnings.
Each breath invites us to dive inward, layer-by-layer, through every fiber of our being, to come into a place of knowing beyond thought.
The whole world may give you support, but if your own mind shall not support you, you will not be in a position to do anything in life. Your own mind cannot be controlled and guided and give you the support until it is brought to a discipline”. - Yogi Bhajan Therein lies the jewel of sadhana: a daily practice or discipline designed to achieve spiritual objectives. Literally translated from its Sanskrit origin, sadhana is “a means of accomplishing something”. The something in this case is the wisdom, non-attachment, clarity, and consistency that comes from spiritual discipline. In the teachings of spiritual traditions, commitment and consistency are an imperative part of self-development. Commitment gives us the strength to sustain ourselves through the waves of life, to keep our focus, our orientation, when direction may become foggy. Consistency is steadiness through time, as time is a wave in and of itself. Each sadhana, each practice, is an exercise in this commitment and consistency to support us in order to transcend the following of ego-based patterns and thoughts of the mind, and to tune into the wise guidance of our highest consciousness. Opportune at any time of the day, Sadhana is most optimal and recommended in the “ambrosial hours” of the morning – 2.5 hours before the rise of the sun, when the world is still very quiet, before the hustle and bustle of the day. Rising early, while the veil between sleep and wakefulness is thin, the veil between night and day is thin, it is an opportunity to cleanse and purify the mind. My teacher used to say that just as we take a shower to cleanse our physical body, we must do sadhana to cleanse the mind. Spi-
ritual practice cleanses the mind and soul, purifies and energizes the subtle bodies. And what that gives us is the ability to meet our day in the fullness of our capacity, to think clearly, to make original decisions and creative contributions. We all have very busy lives, playing several roles that all come with different demands and expectations - be it mother, father, sister, brother, child, partner, community member, workforce member, activist, etc. It is very human to feel overwhelmed by the demands of life and the different predicaments and challenges they may pose. We run around quelling fires, dressing wounds, sharing creative ideas and inventions, manifesting dreams, and the list never ends. The question then is: how can we keep our connection and integrity to the thread of self that underlies our participation through these roles? How can we perform our duties, serve our roles and participate in the matrix of relationships through excellence, integral to the dharma, or unique purpose and offerings of our soul? Luckily, as humans, we are born with the unique ability to be conscious of our consciousness. We have the ability, if not the responsibility, to direct how we meet and participate in each role and action. We have the tools to connect to the pulse of our true identity, the one that underlies all the roles that we identify ourselves with in life. In the space of this pulse we tap into the awareness that can guide us to move authentically and intelligently in accordance with our highest consciousness. Revealing this clarity of truth and self definitely takes committed work. This work is called sadhana. The act of commitment to meet one’s self in a very direct and sacred space each day is the foundation for developing the strength of character to cultivate the patience, the hu-
mility, and the intuition to transcend the ego based patterns of the mind that lead us into confusion and commotion. Through sadhana we can gain the very concrete understanding of the working of the mind that comes from a place of deep listening within. Each breath of the practice is a moment of presence in the intimate breeding ground of the Self. Each breath invites us to dive inward, layer-by-layer, through every fiber of our being, to come into a place of knowing beyond thought. It is a time of devotion to the Self within the self, a time of self-reflection. In this time, we build up the cellular experience of resting in that space of self; awareness of the restlessness of the mind and how we can meet it; awareness of the place inside where we understand the choices we have at each given moment, and to build the capacity to choose from that space that will support our journey most beneficially. Sadhana is the organizational principle that connects us and supports us to align with a space of centeredness and self-reliance within, amid the sea of constant change that is life. The beautiful gift that sadhana can ultimately bring us, is the union of Self and action. With time, the separation between one’s spiritual practice and one’s projection and participation out in the world begins to dissolve. We become aware of the layers of thoughts and pulses that can draw us in different directions, yet there is a sense of home within that supports us to breathe through the distractions and hear the voice of the soul, the voice of the neutral mind that makes choices for the greatest good, that supports us to move and share in accordance with our dharma. The load thus lightens as our inner light brightens.
Sadhana By Daphna Dor / GuruWantKaur
Fears are perceived threats that exist in the future, so in order to dissolve fear, it is crucial to be in the here and now
Therapeutics By bernd Windhofer
ne way of looking at yoga practice is seeing two different ways in which to work. Granted, this is a little simplistic, and ideally both ways of working are present in any practice, but I find the model useful nonetheless. Firstly, we have the serious, dedicated practitioner, who travels the yogic path sincerely and with an element of passion and devotion to the practice, going deeper and deeper and deeper with each passing day, month, year and decade. For this practitioner, the practice will naturally become more complex and advanced on many different levels as he or she matures. This is a wonderful way of working, and certainly yields sweet, delicious fruits all along the way. However, yoga practiced in this way can feel a little bit like an exclusive club sometimes, and I am a big advocate for making yoga accessible to all. This is where Approach #2 comes in. The other way of working involves using the toolbox of yoga to address any issues you are currently facing, be they physical or mental. The fast growing field of yoga therapy addresses this approach with great detail, and this is where therapeutic yoga comes in. Letâ€™s take a little look at this yoga toolbox I mentioned a moment ago. Rather than looking at yoga simply as a linear path, where one practice grows out of another one in sequence, we can take whatever teaching is appropriate to us at any given moment and build it into our day to day routine in order to bring about positive change. This toolbox is really rather extensive! We include all the different asanas, including different, modern ways of working with them, plus the range of kriyas aka cleansing techniques, as well as breath work (both
classical pranayama and far more accessible exercises) and of course working directly with our mind. Therapeutic yoga aims to work directly with whatever problems you are currently facing in any arena of your life to bring about positive change. Here is a little example from my own personal teaching history. A few years ago, I was introduced to a wonderful Swedish lady who was diagnosed with chronic lower back issues. Her doctor had even told her that there was nothing she could do, she would just need to be far less physical than she used to be, and take a lot of medication. Thankfully, this didnâ€™t sound right to her, and she started looking for alternative ways of working with her body. It was at this point that I met her, and I after our initial session I prescribed a little routine for her to practice daily. She did it twice every day! And found that the change was instant. After the first session, she was without pain for a few minutes, the first time this had happened in a long time. By the end of our ten days together, significant change had taken place, she was walking far more comfortably, and generally felt a great deal more comfort in her body. The body has a remarkable capacity for self-healing, as long as we help it along a little, and encourage it in the right way, and this is something I do my best to impart when teaching yoga in a more therapeutic context. If you are not a regular practitioner of yoga, know that the world of yoga is full of transformative techniques that can make a massive difference to you. You may be working with a serious injury, like my student above, or perhaps are just feeling a little stiff and uncomfortable. Maybe you suffer from panic, worry, or general stress, perhaps you are desperately trying to lose weight but seem unable to do so, or maybe you just feel un-
satisfied in your life and have no idea where to even start. Working with yoga on a therapeutic basis will give you the means to start building up your own toolbox of techniques to start improving your quality of life, and will support any other medical or therapeutic regime you may already be following. If, on the other hand, you are already a dedicated practitioner of yoga, know that therapeutic practice can still be very useful. I only stumbled upon this way of working after nearly a decade of deep, dedicated daily practice, and it really transformed my own views surrounding yoga and its potential for change, not to mention given me a wide array of tools to help me go deeper in my own work. And when those injuries or issues come along, and they will as this is part of the nature of being alive and having a body and a mind, you have something at your disposal with which to work. I was afflicted with a serious back injury early last year. I canâ€™t even begin to tell you how disastrous this felt at the time. And yet, with the help of a very good physiotherapist, and my own work in the past with yoga as therapy, I found myself recovering really very quickly, and am now grateful for this, at the time, harrowing experience. The gratitude comes from having the wonderful effectiveness of yoga as therapy confirmed to me, and being able to share with others how to work with such a problem. The older I get, and the more I explore the wide array of practices and techniques yoga gives us, the more amazing and grateful I am to be immersed in this yogic world. And I always welcome and deeply love the opportunity to share some of what I have found, in my own experience, to be brilliantly helpful on so many levels.
Debunking the meditation myths By Jonni Pollard
common response I get when I first tell people that I’m a meditation teacher is “Ah cool job! You must be pretty chilled… you’d never be able to teach me though… I’m one of these people who can’t stop thinking. My mind never shuts down. I actually tried to meditate once and I was really crap. I could only sit for like 2 minutes before I started to go crazy trying to stop my mind from thinking. So I just gave up…I’m not one of those people who can meditate.” My immediate response is, “everyone can learn to meditate and actually learning to meditate is really easy if you have a good technique and an experienced teacher. I happen to be one of those teachers so you’re in luck”. The nature of the mind is that it effortlessly settles down when you create the right conditions for it to do so. The biggest issue people face when they first attempt to meditate is that they don’t have an experienced teacher to get them started or create a proper context for what they are about to experience. There are a lot of misconceptions and stigmas attached to the idea of meditation that stop people properly investigating meditation and giving it a go. I’m about to debunk a bunch of these right now in case you are one of these people who think meditation isn’t for you (because it is).
“You are only meditating properly if you are not thinking.” This is the one of the biggest misconceptions of meditation. Thinking is actually a very important part of the meditation process. The mind is a thinking machine and it’s impossible to stop the mind thinking about thoughts with another thought to not think… because, well, this is thinking. It’s like trying to put out fire with fire. Impossible. Thoughts in meditation are a natural byproduct of the body releasing stress. Excessive thoughts in meditation indicate that you are releasing a lot of tension in the body and are gaining great benefit from the practice. Thoughts themselves are no problem. It’s our relationship to thoughts that is the real issue. When we can allow thinking to be present, and effortlessly return to the technique (at the point of realisation that we’ve come off it)… then you are practicing perfectly. Thoughts and all.
“Meditation is about focus, concentration, and controlling the mind.” This is another misconception that causes many people to fall off the meditation horse early on the ride. Using concentration and focus to control the thinking mind is like trying to herd cats… impossible. Concentrated thought and focus doesn’t make other thoughts go away. It just makes them get louder. With a good technique, the mind is allowed to fall into quieter and more orderly
states of awareness naturally and effortlessly. When we relinquish control and allow ourselves to be led by the technique, the mind effortlessly dives deep and the body naturally settles down.
“Meditation requires years of practice to get benefits.” This is straight up nonsense. It has been scientifically proven that after only a couple weeks of meditation, you can clearly observe profound changes in the body and mind. These benefits include increased brain function, increased immune function, increased cognitive capabilities and noticeably higher energy levels, greater focus and emotional stability. The feelings of being stressed and anxious dissipate and if you stick with it, meditation will increase your resilience so the negative impacts of stress affect you less and less. Meditation is a powerfully easy way to gain access to deep self awareness which ultimately is the foundation of your well-being. Wellbeing is a the balancing act between your internal resources and capabilities to meet life’s challenges. Without self-awareness, wellbeing is always going to be in a state of imbalance. There are some fantastic meditation teachers that come through Desa Seni. Be sure to come and learn if you haven’t already. It’s the best investment you’ll ever make in your self.
MAHA DEVISTUDIO YOGA YOGA TRIMURTI
Yoga Nidra By bernd Windhofer
“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drives us crazy, can be our teacher” -Pema Chodron
n all my years, I can only think of one person who does not like sleeping, and I suspect she may have been lying. Sometimes, I enjoy sleeping so much that the mere thought of rising out of my bed to begin my daily practice makes me weep. Imagine my amazement, then, when, a few years ago, I came across the practice of yogic sleep! Yoga Nidra is a technical term for the yogi’s sleep. Nidra specifically refers to a deep, dreamless sleep state, where our brain waves are in a delta wave form. Most of us walk through our days with beta brain waves taking charge (14-30 Hertz per second), which is associated with stress and tension, and with a little practice, we can regularly rest in a state whereby we are in an alpha wave state (8-13 Hertz per second). When we are drowsy or half-asleep, our brains tend toward a theta wave state (4-7 Hertz per second), and deep sleep is characterized by delta brain waves (0.5-3.5 Hertz per second). The practice of Yoga Nidra, however, is far from just going to sleep; it is a practice of conscious deep sleep. Using a specific sequence of meditative awareness practices, while in Savasana (lying flat on the back, with legs and arms a comfortable distance from the body, palms of the hands facing upward), the yogi trains herself to go fully into a delta wave pattern, ordinarily only experienced in deep sleep, while maintaining full awareness and consciousness. This has now been scientifically proven to be an observable and true state of being. A
few decades back, a swami in the Himalayan yogic tradition, Swami Rama, had himself connected to an electroencephalograph, which measures brain waves, and according to all the data collected by the machine, seemed to be fully asleep, showing a delta wave pattern. However, upon “waking”, he was able to, word for word, repeat everything everybody had said in the room while he was in his apparent state of unconsciousness. Not only is this practice incredibly restful (most practitioners of Yoga Nidra profess to an hour of Yoga Nidra being equal to at least four hours of ordinary sleep), it has far reaching consequences for the yogi. First of all, one learns to deeply relax, the importance of which cannot be overstated. A relaxed body, a calm mind, and a soft heart are all vital when it comes to going more fully into spiritual practice, and are also necessary for the ability to lead a creative, vibrant, enjoyable life. When the body is deeply and fully relaxed, it is alive and vivid, and the mind and heart become clear and full of peace and joy. Yet, this is still only considered an early stage in the evolution of the practice of Yoga Nidra. Ultimately, the yogi employs conscious deep sleep to investigate his subconscious and unconscious minds. According to the teachings of many authentic traditions, all that we experience leaves an imprint, called a samskara. The more powerful or often repeated an experience, the more potent the samskara. A useful way to think of a samskara is as a seed that is simply waiting for the appropriate combination of conditions
to arrange themselves in exactly the right way, before bearing fruit. This is what occurs when the Law of Karma takes effect; our karmic seeds sprout and a result, dependent on the kind of seed stored in our deeper layers, comes about. Using Yoga Nidra, the yogi dives into the depths of her mind in order to find these seeds and scorch them before they bear fruit. The implication of this work, even for someone not overly interested in the spiritual quest, are staggering when considered fully. Imagine you are constantly ruled by a really unhelpful habit, or even addiction, that you just can’t shake; for example, every time it rains, you have an intense desire for chocolate cake, that simply will not disappear until you procure and digest a large slice of the afore mentioned cake. Through using the technique of advanced Yoga Nidra, you could actually go deeply into the mind itself, find where this habit pattern comes from, and gently remove it! This may seem a somewhat frivolous example, but it holds up for anything at all that holds us back from living a wholesome, enjoyable, vibrantly creative life. It is worth remembering that what I am talking about here is an advanced state, one that takes a great deal of practice for all but the rarest practitioner. However, even from the outset, Yoga Nidra brings us deep calm, relaxation and a sense of having fully rested. I would think that this, in itself, is something well worth cultivating.
Yielding. The beauty of giving & receiving.
by Tara Judelle - photo Gina Cholick”
“You can trip on a flat floor!”, my parents used to exclaim, reflecting my clumsy, gawky frame that shot up to 5’9” by the time I was thirteen years old. They weren’t wrong. The ground seemed so far away as my eyes increasingly climbed the pole of my being. While through dance and other sports I could exhibit tremendous coordination through movement, simply navigating space and gravity to hold myself upright, my entire self seemed as confused as a great dane puppy skidding across a slick tile floor. The negotiation of gravity and space is the primary issue of our moving. All body plans from geckos to kangaroos have uncovered a tremendous solution to work with the magnetism of earth through their uniquely formed structure. From the pronking of a gazelle to the waddle of a penguin, each creature carries the history of a few million years of evolution, evolving from cellular solution to matter in ever more elegant and sophisticated patterns. The human is the single bipedal creature. This evolutionary push has given us tremendous advantage, particularly with the use of our upper limbs. As we all re-enact this upright maneuver when we learn to walk, there is a tremendous developmental brain push and corresponding body mapping. Yet as we move away from rolling on our belly and up to the vertical discovery of walking, we can sometimes lose our connection to the earth. There is a longing reciprocity between the
earth and our feet, that is rather like the tensile support of two humans pushing hands into one another to balance weight. The sweet feeling of the equanimity of supportive forces is a concept that comes from the world of Body Mind Centering®. It is called yielding. Yielding is a meta-concept. It is a balanced push-pull between forces that is demonstrated elegantly in Tai Chi or Qi Gong, the float of a butterfly through space, or the sweet curl of a baby resting into its mother’s arms. We can see it most clearly if we look at its extreme opposites: propping, which is harnessing one’s body force against gravity, in the way a military posture tenses muscles into an artificial alertness. Or collapsing, the slumped fall of the body into gravity, like a small child that has not yet found its own sense of support. Yielding is the sweet balance between the two. I can look at my clumsiness in growing up as an extreme pendulum between propping and collapsing. If I look back at class photos, holding an erect, upper thoracic thrust forward in an attempt to appear alert and “sit up straight”, I see the superimposition of propping. Pulling myself against gravity in order to appear correct. Yet the minute my attention waned, I would find myself slouching my height, overruled by gravity’s pull. Yielding, just like the perfect slide into traffic on the freeway, is that balance between giving and receiving with the earth’s
pull. It is like partners balanced in a duet dance. In application it is not just one’s own body weight in relationship to the earth but also into the space around. The atmosphere of air. One’s hands can slide into surrounding space like a swan’s body glides evenly through water. One can yield into a room, both receiving the activity of what is in motion, and also establish enough presence to become known in the space. In asana we can give and receive our weight into the floor, bone into bone, body into space, pose into pose. In sharing the practice of yielding with others the invitation is to melt into the easeful dance of life feeling both supported and easeful. Where do we prop? Willfully holding ourselves against gravity perhaps holding the signatures of our families of origin, our dance teachers, our own thoughts using more effort that is necessary to navigate. And where do we collapse, losing our own bodies sense of integrity, levity and vitality, perhaps holding a slight tone of helplessness or defeat. This is the beauty of yield. My now self has made a main practice of discovering this balance between giving and receiving, and finally I have been able to feel the gift of the flat floor reaching up to support my height. I have been able to grow from an over-sized puppy into a more graceful entity traveling through space with ease.
“While growing up or trying to Not knowing where to start I looked around for someone who May help reveal my heart… …Know that the Lord is well and inside of you” ~ Crackerbox Palace, George Harrison
Yoga and Vedanta teach that each human being has three hearts: physical, psychological and spiritual. The physical heart is the organ in the chest. The psychological heart corresponds to the mind. The spiritual heart, while invisible, encompasses altogether the space amid the breasts, the space within and around the heart, and the mind. With profoundly engaged attention and sincere effort, we can realize the divine wealth that occupies the spiritual heart. The spiritual heart is also called the heart chakra, or anahata. It is considered the center of the body, the seat of knowledge and the core of God-consciousness. But many people believe God resides only outside of the body. That is a human-created limitation. Esoteric thinkers, musicians, poets and saints have told us for millennia that the human heart houses the soul; God inhabits the heart. With a title such as The Interior Castle, the 16th century mystic Teresa of Avila understood the concealed nature of that ethereal fortress: “It is true that sometimes these things are forgotten, yet the loving desires to enjoy God…return when the soul sees how little it serves Him. Soon it turns and looks within itself and at how continually it experiences His presence, and with that it is content…and it has no more fear of death.” In Sanskrit, the word for heart is hridaya, which also means “sacred center.” The nuances of the mind can become apparent here, and there are three ways of knowing
the spiritual heart. We can read about it in books, a competent teacher can teach us, or we can go directly to the source within our own heart. The Bhagavad-Gita tells us to consistently practice meditation and remember God. Only direct experience through meditation on the heart will bring answers to previously unanswered questions that neither books nor teachers could have explained. Open to the heart while in meditation and listen without judgment, keeping an open mind to the truth. Buddha also taught his disciples to focus on the heart. To illustrate, the esteemed Tibetan Buddhist mantra om mani padme hum translates as “the jewel in the lotus.” Its exegesis is that the great gem of truth lies within the spiritual heart, symbolized as a lotus. By focusing on the lotus of the heart, or heart chakra, the psychological heart and mind will become purified. This venerated tradition eliminates hurdles and unveils the spiritual nature within. The Yoga Sutras teach that if we practice sustained concentration on the spiritual heart, knowledge of the mind will be revealed. This refined practice, called samyama, involves deep self-analysis and precise discrimination. The symbol of the heart chakra shows twelve lotus petals, which relate to twelve conditions that require relinquishing the following from the psychological heart: shame, grief, arrogance, anguish, anger, anxiety, doubt, regret, fear, jealousy, lust, and greed. This preparatory self-control is required for the aspirant’s samyama to be sufficient enough for this developed concentration to open the gates and reveal the fortress of the heart. It is after one prepares the body, breath and mind, and when the conscience is free, that one can perceive the lotus of the heart.
Keeping the mind devoid of lower emotions and releasing attachments to them we remain clearer and more focused. Some commentators do argue that a reverse scenario is possible, that this process is not linear, but circular. That is, the spiritual mind could become focused in samyama first and then the psychological mind will relinquish its untoward contents afterward. But either way, the Indweller is there and awaits our arrival! The guiding principle is to think of the heart as the ultimate center of consciousness, the Self of All, Atman, our essential nature. The heart chakra is a focal point of various energies. It’s the juncture of lower and higher human natures. It joins human effort with the grace received from above, integrating all the lower and all the higher parts of human existence. The objective of Vedantic literature is to cultivate the desire for these inner connections consistently, regularly, daily, hourly, constantly. The Bhagavad-Gita teaches us to remain vigilant in our focus and not lose sight of our inner world and the search for truth. It recommends we repeat the practice of self-examination and self-remembrance throughout the day as one’s primary mental state. If we take time, several times per day, even if for just a few minutes, we can cultivate a concentrated, heartfelt routine. Practice non-attachment to the things of the world that mold and rust, but attach to the Indweller, God, with unswerving, targeted devotion. “Let’s all sing someday sweet love will reign throughout this world of ours. Let’s start singing of love from our hearts…” Stevie Wonder
Advanced vedic Techniques Thom Knoles
In Vedic Meditation, an Advanced Technique is designed to take one’s awareness to that stratum, that layer of consciousness that comprises the interface between thinking and pure silent consciousness. During meditation, sometimes we experience a state where the mind is as if virtually in the “no mantra, no thought” condition. And yet we are experiencing something that is so fulfilling – we may not be able to pinpoint what exactly it is — but nonetheless it is something. It is not the Absolute, not the pure silent awareness of transcendence. Instead, there is some faint thinking there, extremely subtle, but there nonetheless. The point here is that there is a layer in meditation in which our mind can think and also can simultaneously be (here, Being is the innocent silent witness to thinking). That condition has a Sanskrit name: “Ritam Bhara Pragya”, also known simply as Ritam. The word Ritam is expressive of ‘whole truth’. So Ritam is ‘the state of consciousness that contains the ‘whole truth’. What do we mean by whole truth? It is not the whole truth, that our true nature is limited to our body. This individualized mortal set of physiological functions with a history (when it was born, where it has been, what experiences it witnessed, etcetera). However, nor is it the whole truth that after meditation has revealed the Absolute state of Being, our reality solely is that immortal unboundedness of Being, the unmanifest source of everything. The whole truth, the Ritam, is that we are both these realities simultaneously; we are relative and absolute at the same time.
There is a place in our consciousness, a level, a stratum, deep in the least excited state in meditation where Ritam can be experienced; and it is right on the cusp of transcendence, in the super-subtle field, where thinking and other cognitive phenomena are adjacent to Being, just emerging from Being. With our “First Initiation” technique, the mind glimpses occasionally this in-between Ritam state, but the First Initiation technique is designed to cause the mind to jump into pure transcendence (the state of “no mantra, no thought”) quickly and to bounce back into the grosser fields of thinking, as the body releases its stress. An Advanced Technique is designed to take the awareness into Ritam (the in-between state) and to linger there, to familiarize the mind with Ritam. When the mind becomes familiar with Ritam, the subtle perceptual capability of the senses is very engaged; the state of Ritam is absorbing and the senses become enchanted by their experience, something akin to experiencing nectar. Simply the phenomenon, the mere process of experiencing is intrinsically fascinating to the senses. So, this fascination [experienced in Ritam, during meditation] gives the senses a naturally refined liking and capacity for discernment of the subtle. The senses develop an habituation to find that super-subtle layer outside meditation, in the eyes-open state. The regular daily experiences of that super-subtle value in Ritam hones the senses to a razor-sharpness, giving them acuity, an acuteness, of sensory perception with eyes
open, whilst engaged in activity. Now, outside of meditation (with eyes open) the senses will delve into their objects in order to locate that same level of satisfaction that they acquired inside meditation (with eyes closed). Consequently, one’s capacity for super-subtle sensory perception outside meditation is enhanced markedly. Possession of highly enhanced sensory acuity gives one the advantage of being able to detect subtle change occurring in the phenomenal world. At every moment, everything is changing to assist the inexorable process of evolution. All seeds of future events are available here in the present. If only we possess the sensory sensitivity to be able to detect change-in-genesis, then we are able to detect the future-in-the-making. When we can detect the subtle shifts that occur constantly causing progressive change, then, also, we will find that our expectations spontaneously align themselves with what actually is going on, rather than our relying utterly upon the shoddy guesswork of a speculating intellect, whose capacity for forecast and prediction is notoriously inaccurate. Our being blind-sided by changes that occur when we do not expect change brings about much suffering in life. This suffering makes it extremely difficult to understand how change is evolutionary, and this can cause deep sadness. However, when, through regular practice of our Advanced Technique, the senses gain that capacity for super-subtle perception of minute progressive changes, then we are more attuned; we are able better to sense probabilities, better
equipped to avert dangers before they become inevitable, and better able to be in the right place at the right time, to identify opportunities and to make the most of them. In addition, the greater joy of subtler, more acute perception in daily life increases our wisdom, our ready insight into and understanding of everything. Ultimately, one is liberated by ever-increasing degrees to enjoy life more and more, and thereby to fulfill your lifeâ€™s purpose. It is good after each successive year of regular, twice-daily meditation to learn the next iteration of oneâ€™s meditation technique, to enhance the depth and the regularity of the experience of Ritam. Advanced Techniques are available to be taught by specially qualified Initiators of Vedic Meditation worldwide. Love and Jai Guru Deva, Thom
Grounding with Kundalini Yoga - Ram Singh
“Sensing and feeling what is presently going on is the first step...” Many of the most memorable kundalini yoga experiences can be the kriyas that create elevation and expansion. There are kriyas designed for staying grounded as well. Grounding is another important and sometimes overlooked aspect to the practice as it allows you to be present in your body. From the aspect of healing, there are two primary exit points in the body. There is the feminine aspect, through the throat chakra, which works like that of a burning fire where the wooden logs turn into smoke and evaporate into the air as it moves up. Then there is the root chakra, which is the masculine aspect, which works more like a toilet that flushes down and out into the ground. Depending on what one is working on, either point can need attention at certain times. For every issue one heals, there is a feminine and masculine aspect to it. Both aspects are important given a situation and need to be explored for both expansion and integration. There is nothing easy in the healing work especially when dealing with past traumas, deep emotions, family baggage, etc. Many can gravitate more towards the elevation and expansion aspect as it can allow one to see past an event. There is a lot of value in that, but we still also need to stay anchored and present in the body to sense what is going on inside. Being completely present with yourself can be hard to do. When present in the body, you can immediately feel the unpleasant pain that can be in it. We can go through great lengths to numb ourselves from this feeling on a daily basis through our food choices, lifestyle and thoughts. Focusing solely on the higher realms of consciousness can also be used as an escape. You can find it many
times with children who experience abuse, for example. Some of the brightest minds can be a product of an abusive upbringing. To escape their present reality they can escape into the higher energy centers especially in the 6th and 7th chakras while avoiding the lower centers. This can cause one to have a wild ungrounded imagination and an overly developed intellect. An ungrounded imagination can cause one to not be able to see reality and an overly developed intellect can cause one to live in their head. It can take a lot to get grounded into your root chakra especially when you are used to living outside of it. Being grounded in the root chakra means that one has to feel everything. Sensing and feeling what is presently going on is the first step to actually discovering what one needs to work on and heal. Sometimes it can seem that there is nothing fun and exciting about being here now, but that is where we have to start. Being in this world as a householder is having both feet rooted in the ground while having the human experience. Being grounded also makes you committed to your path and helps put into action that which you see from the higher centers. When meditating on the higher centers, one can have profound experiences that can be psychic, past life, etc. These are amazing experiences that really can show one that we haven’t even scratched the surface of our human potential yet. Although grounding meditations may not seem so profound as they make you realize that you are here and you are aware that you are here meditating. It can seem a little boring, but it is essential for actually being able to integrate the higher conscious experiences so that they can be a part of your going forward. Otherwise
one can become like a balloon without an anchor and float away. We need to also have the ability to flex our grounding muscles on command as there are experiences that can unsettle us. Once this grounding muscle is established, healing can be quicker. You can locate yourself more quickly. Grounding isn’t just mutually exclusive to the root chakra either. It can be used with other organs and energy centers as well. For example, when feeling anxious you can put your hand over your heart and meditate on your root chakra to get to the root of what is behind the anxiety. Overall grounding will allow you to see through the chaos in daily life to the bigger picture without losing your footing. To help ground yourself, here are a few helpful tools: 1. Eat salty foods or even have some Himalayan pink salt directly. Avoid sweets as they are more yin and won’t help keep you grounded. 2. Eat grounding foods such as beets. They are very grounding. 3. Contract your anus or be consciously aware of this point. This is where the Root Chakra is located. It can also be helpful to visualize a square and the color red. 4. Meditate with the tongue tip at the back of the lower teeth and slightly push the whole tongue to the floor of your mouth. This will ground you. 5. Consciously feel your feet on the ground as you walk or stand. Try not to sit with you feet off of the floor. 6. Earthy smells are very grounding. Take a walk in nature and pay attention to the scent of dirt, leaves and wood.
FLY HIGH YOGA,
Hanging Around...Upside Down Experience the world upside down with the aid of gravity and the FlyHighYoga Hanging Belt. As the popularity of yoga grows, there is increasing demand from practitioners to bring their yoga experience to the next level. FlyHighYoga will do just that! FlyHighYoga is a form of aerial yoga where practitioners experience yoga postures in a completely new and deeper level. Suspended by the FlyHighYoga hanging belt, practitioners perform yoga poses with the aid of gravity for a dynamic and therapeutic practice. FlyHighYoga was founded by Jose Luis Jimenez in 2012 and is based on Iyengar Yoga. FlyHighYoga is gaining in popularity in the yoga community. Jose has conducted several workshops and teacher training sessions in Bali, China and Spain. FlyHighYoga classes focus on improving one’s posture, helping you find more length in your spine and increasing your strength and flexibility. For individuals with back and neck pain, many yoga poses and inversions, like headstand or downward dog are not an option. But when you are suspended in the air with the FlyHighYoga Hanging Belt, performing these poses doesn’t put any pressure on your spine or neck. The practice of inversion also helps to increase activity in the brain and generates benefits in almost every aspect, especially in the nervous and cardiovascular system. FlyHighYoga is an excellent complementa-
by Jose Luis Jimenez
ry discipline to any sport, especially sports where compression occurs in the spinal column such as running, surfing or mountain biking. The practice of FlyHighYoga is extremely therapeutic and is an excellent alternative for improving conditions in the spine. However, it is always advisable to consult a medical specialist before practice, especially if you have a recent injury. Also because of the time that is dedicated to inverted poses, it is not advisable to develop your FlyHighYoga practice during pregnancy. In addition to the physical benefits of practicing FlyHighYoga, classes also encourage practitioners to express themselves by laughing, clapping or shouting, of course in a loving way. You can’t help but laugh and have fun when you are hanging upside down, swinging on the belt and interacting with other FlyHighYoga practitioners. Along with having lots of fun in class, students are encouraged to help and support one another so that every person in class can achieve their highest potential. This shared interest and experience contributes to the growth of the FlyHighYoga family and community. The FlyHighYoga teacher supports students to continue having fun outside of the classroom...hang the belt from a tree on the beach, do yoga poses while having a barbeque, have a FlyHighYoga birthday party...so many possibilities of having fun with the hanging belt. Don’t
limit yourself! However, having fun and sharing experiences must be balanced with mindfulness. FlyHighYoga is a yoga practice which requires strong awareness of one’s body while focusing on the breath. Practising FlyHighYoga is all about being here and now. In order to fly higher you need to drop the burden of your conditioned mind. When you are hanging upside down there is a feeling of freedom from your monkey mind and you become more aware of your conscious experience. As your practice grows, so does your personal development in the spiritual level. For some people, FlyHighYoga will sweep them out of their comfort zone, forcing them to face their fears and go beyond their boundaries. With this purpose, courage is needed. With the aid of the FlyHighYoga hanging belt your fears will lessen, you will gain courage and confidence in doing yoga poses suspended in air. FlyHighYoga practice requires practitioners to engage and use muscles they didn’t know they had in order to attain the real benefits of the practice. One can go deeper in the yoga poses when using the hanging belt. In classes, students learn about having integrity in their FlyHighYoga practice. Students will also learn about alignment and biomechanics so that they not only have a safe practice but also have a deeper understanding of the benefits of the poses to improve their overall yoga practice.
arma is a somewhat abstract concept to many of us. There is a lot of confusing information on this non-religious topic – information which is unnecessary. So, we think it’d be helpful to paint a bit of a picture to help solidify the concept of karma. To do so, just a quick example is necessary. Say that we are all willing to go around and help people in any way we see fit – putting coins in expired parking meters, holding doors open for everyone, giving a couple dollars to a homeless person, buying someone’s coffee or tea, etc., etc. Now two questions: What is the possibility that the person we’ve helped will reciprocate, or “pay it forward”? What’s the possibility that this action created a positive source of energy? That’s a very basic example of everyday karma. Of course, there is negative karma as well. Gandhi explains such in a simple yet profound way: “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” Now that we’ve established a basic understanding of karma, let’s take a look at 12 of karma’s laws that can change your life. 1. The Great Law: “As you sow, so shall you reap.” The simple explanation of the Great Law is: our thought and actions have consequences – good or bad. If we desire peace, love, harmony, prosperity, etc. we must be willing to act accordingly. This is also known as the “Law of Cause and Effect.” Also, energy (thought, action) that we put into the world has a consequence, immediate or not. 2. The Law of Creation: “What we desire comes through participation.” The life we see around us was created by a
person’s intentions. As we are one with the Universe, our intentions determine the evolution of creation. Since what we surround ourselves with becomes part of us, it’s our responsibility to ensure these surroundings are conducive to our desires. 3. The Law of Humility: “Refusal to accept what is, will still be what is.” Acceptance is a near-universal virtue in many belief systems. Simply put, we must first accept the present circumstances in order to change them. In focusing on the negative instead of making changes to address the negative, we’re committing to a zero-sum result. 4. The Law of Growth: “Our own growth is above any circumstance.” The only thing we have control over is ourselves. The subsequent action (or inaction) of motive will yield either positive or negative circumstances in our lives. True change only occurs if we make the commitment to change what is in our heart. 5. The Law of Responsibility: “Our lives are of our own doing, nothing else.” When there is turbulence in one’s own life, there is often turbulence internally. If we’re to change our life, we must change our frame of mind and surroundings. 6. The Law of Connection: “Everything in the Universe is connected, both large and small.” Our past, present and future are all connected. As such, we must put in the work to change these connections if we desire something different. No step – first, intermediate or last – is more important in the accomplishment of a task. All are required. 7. The Law of Focus: “One cannot direct attention beyond a single task.” Relating to our spiritual growth, we cannot have negative thoughts or actions and expect to grow spiritually. We must direct full
attention to achieve any desired task. 8. The Law of Hospitality and Giving: “Demonstrating our selflessness shows true intentions.” Put simply: what we claim to believe must manifest into our actions. Selflessness is a virtue only if we’re accommodating something other than ourselves. Without a selfless nature, true spiritual growth is nearly impossible. 9. The Law of Change: “History repeats itself unless changed.” Conscious commitment to change is the only method of influencing the past. History will continue along an unconstructive path until positive energies direct it elsewhere. 10. The Law of Here and Now: “The Present is all we have.” Looking back regretfully and forward pointlessly robs oneself of a present opportunity. Old thoughts and patterns of behaviour negate the present chance to advance ourselves. 11. The Law of Patience and Reward: “Nothing of value is created without a patient mindset.” Toiling away cannot be circumvented through wishful thinking. Our rewards are claimed only through patience and persistence, nothing else. Rewards are not the end-result. True, lasting joy comes from the knowledge of doing what’s necessary in the rightful anticipation of a reward that is well-earned. 12. The Law of Significance and Inspiration: “The best reward is one that contributes to the Whole.” The end result is of little value if it leaves little or nothing behind. Energy and intentions are vital components that determine the significance of an end-result. Ideally, love and passion embody the motives of one that resolves to leave a lasting impression on the Whole.
Karma is the law of cause and effect – an unbreakable law of the cosmos. Your actions create your future. The reason your fate is never sealed is because you have free will. Therefore your future cannot already be written. That would not be fair. Life gives you chances. This is one of them. – “ The Tree of Awakening” By Thom Knoles
By Shervin Boloorian
e often hear the adage, all life is in a constant state of vibration; or as Heraclitus put it, “the only constant in the universe is change.” From celestial bodies to subatomic particles, every millisecond contains countless changes in the fabric of life. These infinitesimal movements create layers upon layers of what can only be described as music, some of which we can perceive but most of this symphony of the spheres is inaudible to the human ear or the senses. All natural vibrations are a reminder that human health relies on a healthy state of harmonious natural vibration-of cells, organs, blood, thoughts, emotions, actions etc: all of these start and finish with a certain vibration; and when in a healthy state, these aspects of our being ‘sing’ in total harmony. Indeed, many believe that conscious movement and meditation practices such as yoga, Tai-Chi, devotional chant, and chigong were designed by the ancients as a way to raise the frequency of humanity while being grounded in the body; to serve as a reminder to humanity to listen more intently on an ongoing basis to where am I? what am I doing? who am I? am I in my truth? simply being me?
After 9 years in Washington DC serving as a policy professional in the peace community among senators and congressman, I discovered that often enough it was when I was removed from knowing myself and my true nature, that I sank into sickness. And that world peace was hardly a concept I could grasp in my own personal state of turmoil. The music I was inviting into my life was anything but harmonious and I wasn’t alone. I was struck by what Shakespeare once wrote, “Above all else to thine own self be true,” Above all else, I was lost to my own self at this time. Many in the holistic world and the scientific community are turning to sound and sound energy practices because they effectively work to harmonize and support people in listening more intently, while empowering the body, clearing the head and encouraging personal responsibility for each person’s own vibration. Frequency can work on multiple levels as a “healing” force for the body and soul precisely because it meets each person where they are and what they need in terms of physical, emotional, mental or spiritual connection or all of the above; to realign with their purpose and regain their healthy vibrational rate. After leaving Washington and graduating from one of the world’s most r e s -
pected sound healing academies, I started a new life as a certified sound therapy practitioner. Trained in acupuncture, energy balancing, music theory, scientific principals, the voice and natural sound, I gained valuable insights and powerful techniques to home myself and my guests in on healthy vibrations based on a merging of many different modalities. No one can truly boast having ownership of the one true frequency for optimal health. Many different voices will posit different versions of the primary frequency, and this is where sound healing gets interesting as an exploration. But In my experience, there is no right or wrong frequency just as there is no right or wrong version of loving intent, or shade in the color spectrum, or day of the week. Variety is the spice of life and each person has a resonance with different aspects of life that are often not static. The only perfect sound is one that a person needs in the moment. This is why the Bali Sound Healers Collective was
The only perfect sound is one that a person needs in the moment.
formed. The first of its kind, the Collective assembles a number of different sound healing practitioners from different sacred music traditions or sound healing modalities to form Bali’s only ongoing community of sound healers. Concerts/meditations and demonstrations are held every week with guests experiencing a fresh collaboration between world class practitioners and music artists each time. Over the course of two years, the sound collective has presented over a dozen different styles of sound healing at different holistic venues and festivals including Taksu Events Pavilion in Ubud, the Yoga Barn and now at Desa Seni.
Sponsored by Bali’s Ashram Gandhi Puri and Bali’s award winning priest Br. Indra Udayana, the Collective’s primary aim is to create peace, community and sound health through eclectic harmonious music and classic sound healing or meditation instruments such as meditation bowls, didgeridoo, gongs, flutes, and much more. At any one concert you may experience didgeridoo and shamanic instruments, traditional Sufi sounds from Iran, Hindustani classical sounds, Native American drum journeys, live sound and breathwork combinations, crystal bowls, Balinese traditional chants, multi-instrumental TamaDo Sound Medicine journeys, indigenous world music, Solfeggio sound healings, African Kora, devotional heartsongs or a carefully crafted blend of all these. Members of the
Ubud expat and Indonesian community are also invited to collaborate at the monthly Spirit Night gala concerts the Collective presents. While presenters from the Collective are skilled musical artists, they share primarily therapeutic concerts designed to deeply relax, connect and harmonize guests through sharing of loving intent interwoven with healing sounds from all over the world. After facilitating hundreds of one-on-one sessions and sound healing concerts and seeing sound healing and the Bali Sound Healers Collective blossom over the last few year from just a few patrons to sell out crowds, I am reassured that leaving Washington to pursue peace through holistic healing, sacred music and sound energy was the right decision. Not only as a way to listen to my own personal calling at this time of great shifts, but also as what I believe to be the most effective way of spreading peace in the community and hopefully throughout the world.
Grounding with Essential Oils by Ka’Haiya Sophia
hese days most of us have heard the sayings “you need to ground, “come back into your body,” or “be in the present moment.” Grounding is easier for some more than for others. For me, a person with four astrological planets in air and a love for all things ethereal, the concept of grounding always seemed like a threat to my sense of freedom, akin to having my wings clipped and being put into a cage. But in reality, my affinity for residing in the higher luminous energies without a means to ground myself often rendered me quite ineffective. It compromised my access to the vastness of my creative and manifesting capacity. Eventually I came to realize the fullness of these capabilities when I began to utilize grounding tools in my personal routine. This is especially true of essential oils, which as I will explain, have been invaluable to me in anchoring self-actualization energies into my heart – the true point of one’s power. What is it to be grounded, and how does that exist for one’s self? Take a kite, for example. Unless it is anchored to the ground while soaring high aloft, there can be no realization of the joy it offers. It is wonderful to have inspirational, visionary ideas, but if we do not ground them we cannot actualize their potential and make progress in bringing about the joy of their manifestation. If we are not grounded within our physical body, or are not functioning in present time, then we do not have access to our creative capacity. Without an anchor, our full expression will not be made available to us. You could liken this to ideas and inspiration existing within our personal iCloud, i.e. our higher mind. Their potential simply remains there until we enter into a stage of integration by means of a grounding or “download” process. Gifts of the higher
If you have built castles inthe air, your work need not be lost;that is wherethey should be. Now putthe foundations underthem - Henry David Thoreau mind must first be grounded in order to be effectively shared outwardly into the world. I contend that the whole purpose of our existence is for sharing our gifts with the world. To be grounded is to have a wider, fuller experience of our sensual self - our feeling self - available for sharing. From there, we have GPS coordinates to the Now moment – a tether to the present with heightened intuition, awareness and a sense of ease that comes when roots are firmly planted. The plant kingdom is purposely rooted to the earthly realm. Essential oils are the life blood of this kingdom. Utilizing essential oils is partnering with the nature realm’s blueprint of perfection, and gaining access to its ancient wisdom. When using essential oils, they act as a type of psycho-spiritual technology for clearing us, for opening us, and for helping to make available to us all that is ours creatively. How does this happen? Well, in a nutshell, essential oils are way more than just their scent. They contain powerful constituents that cause the cells of one’s body to literally sing in harmony with the innate intelligence of the universe. The most effective grounding essential oils are by and large the tree, shrub, and/ or grass oils. They lend their earthy scents and stabilizing properties to strengthen and empower us. Examples such as Sandalwood, Black Spruce, Cypress, Galbanum, Hinoki, Patchouli, and Vetiver are some of the most effective of the grounding oil singles. In addition to these singles, Young Living Essential Oils has some magnificent blends that I have found are optimal for not only grounding but also spring-boarding
creative energies: Sacred Mountain, Grounding, and Present Time are a few examples. These essential oil singles and blends are spiritually uplifting yet calming to the body, balancing and stabilizing for the emotions, and help in activating the chakras. They assist in oxygenating the brain, which increases alertness while at the same time heightening focus. All of this assists us in responding to life from a centered place rather than being continuously in reaction mode. And when centered, we are better in touch with our “what” and our “why” as they relate to our life’s purpose. Using essential oils for grounding is easy and immediate: simply rub a few drops onto the palm of your hands, cup them together and deeply inhale their aroma. Then run your hands in a sweeping motion through your aura that surrounds the body at about 8-10 inches. Do so over your entire body as if you are wiping it clean. Additionally one can use a drop or two at the base of the skull and both sides of the temples to calm and ground the mind. For a deeply rooted experience, a drop of the same oil applied at the base of the spine enhances the connection. The oil can also be applied to the soles of the feet so as to create a stabilizing connection with the earth. Essential oils applied for grounding affect all the chakra energy centers by supporting their activation. When our chakras are activated, we are more receptive to the cosmic forces of Love flowing inwards from Source into the upper chakras. The crown chakra blooms, opening itself to the incoming rays of divine wisdom. The third
eye chakra perceives creative visions. The throat chakra begins to put the pieces of that cosmic information together, preparing it for expression through the power of our word. Source wisdom, vision and communicative power, when joined with desire (root chakra), passion (sacral chakra) and the fires of the will (solar plexus chakra), and guided by the power of our intention, cause a downward rush of the upper energies that conjoin with the upward rush of the lower energies into the chalice of the heart chakra. There, deeply grounded in that sacred still point of coalesced energies, the heart acts as a vessel to retain these potent energies until they are directed outward through loving intention, word and deed. I believe we all know how important our words and intentions are, so it is worthwhile to proclaim an intention when applying essential oils for grounding. An example might be, “I am sacred, strong and purposefully here to give the gifts only I can give. I am deeply grounded in my body and my love. The earth mother holds me and provides her strength to me. All of life supports me and I am deeply grateful that I am here doing this exquisite dance of creation.” Now you can pursue your heart’s desires with the clarity and courage to bring your dream into manifestation. When grounded and in touch with your LOVE and life force, you are the hero of your own journey. You are now feeling elevated from your heightened awareness and filled with gratitude while witnessing your gifts flowing out into the world.
Donâ€™t Try to Make Your Life Better (Try to Make It Beautiful-er) By Dr. Kelly Flanagan
The building blocks of Sophrology are relaxation, breath work and mindfulness.
I’I was at a loss for how to motivate my son. He was a week away from his classical guitar recital, and he said there was nothing left to practice. He said he’d “mastered” the piece he was planning to play. So, I listened. And I had to admit: he had the rhythm, he was keeping the tempo, and he was playing all the right notes. Yet, even to my tone-deaf ears, there was something missing. But I couldn’t find the words to explain it. Then, two nights later, I heard about how they teach cursive at a local school. They don’t tell the kids to make their penmanship better; they exhort the children to make it more beautiful. Apparently, the kids instantly understand what this means, and handwriting ceases to feel like homework. Writing class becomes art class. So I went home and told my son, “For the rest of the week, instead of trying to make your guitar piece better, try to make it beautiful-er.” And without hesitation, he smiled— the kind of smile you smile when something slakes your thirst or satisfies your hunger. He nodded slow and long. Sure enough, he knew exactly what I meant. Do you know what I mean, though? Because somewhere along the way, we tend to trade in beautiful for better. Better means impressing the right people. It means respect. It means moving up, gaining power, and wielding influence. It
means iPhones and Galaxies and a world at our fingertips. It means houses and cars and bank accounts. It means fewer chinks in the armor and fewer mistakes. It means a pristine life. But, in the end, better also means disappointment. Because no matter how perfectly we find the rhythm and how successfully we keep up the frantic tempo of life—no matter how many days we can go without missing a note—we begin to sense something essential is missing. Technical perfection leaves us longing for more. So we just keep trying to get better-er. When, all along, we’re really yearning for something beautiful-er. My sister’s family recently returned to the U.S. after a decade in Europe. One night, over dinner, they were telling us about the various cultures and languages in Europe and my niece referred to French as a romance language. My son looked at her and asked incredulously, “How can a language be romantic?” And without missing a beat, she responded, “It’s like a language in cursive.”
shocks us back to life. It’s the stuff that wakes us up. It’s the stuff that makes us good-ache, like easing off stiff shoes after hours on our feet. It’s the stuff that quenches. Beautiful is a million little moments. Beautiful is a young boy tenderly moving a caterpillar out of the driveway to safety. Beautiful is sixty years of marriage sitting in a coffee shop together, murmuring quietly, gently. Beautiful is a too-big tip for the waitress with the sad eyes and the smile she gave that clearly cost her more than you can fathom. Beautiful is the YouTube video of the truck driver stopping in the middle of the road to help the elderly woman hunched over a walker. Beautiful is the compliment you gave that you didn’t have to—and the one you received that you could have blown off. Beautiful is speaking someone else’s love language because you know they’ll hear it better that way. Beautiful is the story you listened to that you could have silenced. Beautiful is knowing you want to apologize and having the courage to actually do it. Beautiful is, in the words of Merton, becoming aware that “the gate of heaven is everywhere.” Beautiful is choosing to believe the gate of heaven is everyone. And beautiful is believing you might just have all of that beautiful within you.
Words can be written in cursive and languages can be spoken like cursive. What if our entire lives could be lived in cursive, too? And what if we’re here simply to make our cursive lives beautiful-er?
May they become more beautiful with each vanishing day.
Beautiful is the stuff that reaches right in, puts electrical paddles on our heart, and
Until the work of life becomes the art of living.
May we live our lives in cursive.
The secret to Self-compassion Is being nice to yourself considered selfish, self-centered, or narcissistic? If you are truly selfish, self-centered, or narcissistic, you will need to feel good about yourself all the time. In other words, you will need to have-it-all for yourself, constantly prove you are right, and always perform above average. Think about it. How is this sustainable? Being compassionate is all about accepting life’s ups-and-downs. No one can always be above average. That is why they call it the law of averages. Everyone, including you, will have ups-and-downs. Here is the secret, being compassionate is all about accepting the ups-and-downs. It’s not about pity or empathy. It’s about acceptance. Once acceptance happens, then compassion turns into action. Loving-kindness is an instance of acting on compassion. Most of us get it when it comes to being compassionate to others. What about being compassionate to ourselves , accepting yourself the way you are? Why don’t we get that? Are we afraid of coming off as egocentric? Why is being self-critical so much easier? One way to look at this is to use the ever-popular airline ‘oxygen mask’ metaphor. As the saying goes, ‘in the event that the airplane experiences a loss of cabin pressure, please place the mask on yourself first before assisting others.’ So if we want to help others, i.e. we want to be compassionate to our family, friends, colleagues, and strangers, then we better be in good shape to help. If we want to help others, we have to invest
in ourselves first – in a loving and caring way. Honestly, how can we be compassionate to others without being compassionate to ourselves first? If we try to “fake it ‘til you make it”, we will fail miserably. A lack of self-compassion is not an easy thing to hide – it takes a tremendous amount of energy to pretend to be nice to ourselves and others. In fact, compassion, like empathy, is a requirement for trust. If we want to help others, we have to invest in ourselves first – in a loving and caring way; but not in a self-aggrandizing or conceited way. Kristin Neff, the author of Self-compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, says, “A growing body of research indicates that self-compassion helps people sustain the act of caring for others. For instance, it appears that counsellors and therapists who are self-compassionate are less likely to experience stress and caregiver burnout; they’re more satisfied with their careers and feel more energized, happy, and grateful for being able to make a difference in the world.” Studies by Neff shed a little more light on this topic by showing that people with high self-compassion have a ‘healthy’ self-esteem, meaning they are on an even keel with their self-worth in good and bad times. There is a link between self-compassion and self-esteem. When narcissists don’t make the mark, they become upset, angry, or start finger pointing. People that have more self-compassion are less likely to be upset
or delusional about their performance. Being realistic about your capabilities is a key emotional intelligence skill. And the scary part is, a lot of us have to deal with narcissistic behaviour on a daily basis. The big benefits of being nice to yourself are reduced anxiety and conflict. Which conversely means a more loving and happier self. Relationships are easier. Collaborating is more fun and productive. More energy is made available to be used in understanding others rather than competing with others or needing to prove oneself all the time. We can finally rejoice in the success of others just as equally as rejoicing in our success. Being self-compassionate is the opposite of selfishness, self-centeredness, and narcissism. Being loving and kind to ourselves releases the burden of perpetual ego-trips, thus creating more space in our hearts for ourselves and others. Compassion Practice So you want to cultivate self-compassion, but you don’t know where to start. Here is a recommended 15-day, kick-starter, progression series: Week 1: Be less judgmental. Start by dedicating some time to observe your thoughts 1-2 minutes a day. This shouldn’t take up extra time. For example, practice this while you are in the shower, waiting for a ride, standing in the queue at the grocery store, etc. During this time, observe each thought that comes up. Avoid judging each thought by labeling or naming each thought as
is it all about me? good/bad, negative/positive, ugly/beautiful, etc. Practice this every day for the first five days, then take the next two days off. Week 2. Practice gratitude. Everyday for the next five days, think of three things to be grateful for. Try to do this once you wake up every morning while you are still in bed. Here is an example: I am grateful for having a roof over my head, that I ate three meals yesterday, and that I have a job to go to today. Make them unique so they carry more meaning. This also brings more awareness to how much we take for granted. Take the next two days off. Week 3. Practice loving-kindness: Day 1, when you wake up say this silently to yourself: “May I be safe. May I be happy and at peace. May I be healthy and strong. And may I have the ease of well-being to accept all conditions of the world.” Day 2, repeat this but then say another round while thinking of someone who needs some loving kindness by saying silently to yourself: “May you be safe. May you be happy and at peace. May you be healthy and strong. And may you have the ease of well-being to accept all conditions of the world.” Day 3, repeat day two then say a third set while thinking of someone you are not getting along with or someone who is frustrating you at the moment. Day 4, repeat day three then say a fourth set while thinking of a group of people who need some help. Last day, repeat day four then say a fifth set while thinking of someone who is very close to you.
by Mark Chaves
What are Macrobiotics by ella boekeman
FOOD / MAKANAN Applied to multiple areas of life, macrobiotics comes from Greek – ‘macro’ meaning great, and ‘bios’ meaning life. It’s not only a diet but a holistic lifestyle. Everything on the planet, including our bodies and food are made up of yin (outward moving) and yang (inward moving) energies. Both of these energies are apparent, although either yin or yang will be in excess. Our western diets are generally wildly out of balance, and tend to be acid forming – often leading to illness and disease. Based on an adaptation of eastern philosophies. The founder of maco diet was George Oshawa From Macrobiotics for Dummies “ In 1958, macrobiotic philosopher and teacher George, Oshawa met a distant relative of Hufeland and by 1959 began using the term macrobiotic to promote his teachings. During a New York visit, he took note of Zen’s popularity in America and, in what seemed like a savvy marketing decision at the time, added it to macrobiotics. Oshawa’s book Zen Macrobiotics attempted to capitalize on the popularity of Zen as taught by popular teachers, Alan Watts, and the works of Dr. Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki. Interest in Zen was high among the ’50s “Beatnik” movement, which evolved into what we now know as the hippie generation.” Back in the 1960’s when the term first started to become known in the west, macrobiotic bookstores in the US and UK were being raided by the FBI as they contained “illegal statements” such as that poor diet could cause cancer, and a healthy diet cure it. Misinformation led to the macrobiotic diet being dubbed ‘the brown rice diet’ by naysayers. In 1966 Prof. Frederick Stare of Harvard University wrote an article in Reader’s Digest calling macrobiotics ‘the hippie
diet that’s killing our kids.’ The term became shrouded in negativity. Fast forward a few decades and a great deal of research, it’s clear that macrobiotics is not a fad diet but a way to live your healthiest life yet. Emphasizing vegetables and grains - the food groups with the least pronounced yin and yang elements, the diet avoids high levels of sugar, alcohol and processed foods. The premise is simple, and when expanded into other areas of our life overwhelmingly positive for our health and wellbeing. Macrobiotic principles stem from an ancient Oriental philosophy, which suggests that all of life is a constant balance between yin and yang elements. Neither side is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but macrobiotic followers aim for a balance of five parts yin to one part yang, in their life and in their diet. Yin foods are made up of vegetables, grains, beans and seaweed. But also, alcohol, sugar, some fruits, soft cheeses, processed breads and honey. In life, expansive, lightweight and airy are elements that indicate yin. Yang foods meanwhile are animals and animal products, including fish, meat and eggs and salt, as well as hard salty cheeses. In life, actions that are condensed, contracting hot, heavy and material are yang. Yin and Yang can be viewed the same as the atom and proton, as well as being equal to the medical terms of anabolic and catabolic reactions. Cravings are a message the body is sending telling us its not in balance. Drinking cold beer (yin) brings a craving of salty dry foods (yang). There’s a reason those bags of crisps and nuts are available behind the bar! Any extreme yin or extreme yang is considered excess. Every front has a back, and everything exists in opposition to each other. Actions we take and foods we eat have opposing and
complementary aspects. Macrobiotics does suggest that extremes should be avoided, which is why sugar, extremely yin, and meat, extremely yang, are often shunned in the diet. As well as diet, there are a few universal life principals that are observed by those wanting to adopt a macrobiotic lifestyle. - The Principle of Opposites: Everything exists in opposition - The Principle of Change: Nothing is static - The Principle of Cycles: All beginnings have an end - The Principle of Non-Identity: Nothing is identical - The Principle of Front and Back: Every front has a back – the greater the front the greater the back - All things are differentiations of One Infinity A macrobiotic diet isn’t just about your weight – it’s about achieving balance in your life. It requires a change in thinking from a static view of life to a dynamic and flexible one. Macrobiotics as it is known today is the result of the tireless work and vision of George Oshawa (1893-1966). The two main figures who sprouted from Oshawa were Michio Kushi and Herman Aihara, who founded the Vega center in California. Michio Kushi was one of Oshawa’s students and one of the most well-known contemporary macrobiotic teachers, helping introduce it to the United States in the early 1950’s. Through the 1970’s he and Aihara were the key individuals to bring it to the west and teach it through residential study centers, lectures and books. Mr. Kushi died in 2014, but his teachings continue to be spread through the Kushi institute and his numerous followers.
ALKALINE STYLE LIFE
These days, we’ve got so much more medicine, but so much less health. More people, even children are suffering from obesity, asthma, autoimmune diseases and the three top killers, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, are on the rise. Something’s wrong, something’s got to change. Of all the balances that the human body strives to maintain, the most crucial is that between the acid and basic or alkaline. All medical texts belonging to the mainstream, allopathic fully agree in this statement. The human body moves heaven and earth to keep that balance. There are other balances as a constant temperature, water level, and blood glucose level … that the body struggles to maintain. All these balances can be included in what we call “internal Homeostasis”. We all have to realize that just as the earth has an environment that has to be kept clean and clear for pure water and fresh air, each of us has an internal environment that must also be kept clean and clear. We have internal rivers and streams, veins, arteries and lymphatic vessels running through our bodies that must also be kept running pure, the state of which are vital to optimum health. The environment they swim in will determine the health of your cells. Human metabolism and especially most catabolic reactions lead to acid metabolites. We can say that the human body is alkaline in its design but acid in its function, such as the digestion of fats leads to fatty acids, or the digestion of carbohydrates form lac-
tic acid or when we do a lot of exercise and known shoelaces are formed… If all these metabolic activity is added an acidifying diets, the acidity will be served in your cells, tissue, organs and blood even in extreme cases. Excessive acidification of fluids and other body tissues leads to underlying disease. The blood, tissues and organs of our bodies are kept in a delicate state of PH balance, which is set as alkaline at 7.365. When your body temperature changes, it is actually a sign that something is wrong. If your body PH changes, symptoms can occur. The blood is strictly held at its alkaline PH by keeping mineral salts balanced in the blood. Acids that build up can be held in the connective tissues and other body tissues such as the skin, muscles and organs. These acids can result in degeneration and disease. The PH of our blood is 7,365 and we have a whole system of regulatory mechanisms such as breathing, digestion, circulation, glandular functions working to maintain the acid-base internal balance. If that balance is affected blood begins to obtain alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium of our tissues, bones, cartilage, and muscles. When these minerals react with acids, they generate much less harmful substances. If it still is too acidic which continues to circulate, this acid is poured into tissues for storage, where the immune and lymphatic system will try to neutralize it. But unfortu-
nately to remove this acid in tissues, what we do is back to throw it into the blood, creating a vicious circle, creating stress, which can affect our main filters, liver and kidneys. On the other hand if the lymphatic system is overloaded or blood vessels do not work properly, a problem usually caused by lack of exercise, acid accumulates in connective tissue. This imbalance of PH of blood and tissues leads to inflammation and prepares the ground for discomfort and disease. Deposits accumulated acid in tissues can lead to deposits with names such as: polyps, fluids, cysts, stones, tumors, warts, lumps, moles, blisters … or skin diseases, by the removal of acids through the skin such as psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis… There are already studies showing the association of certain diseases with acid diet as a study published by Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, NSW, Australia, in which the acid load diet was associated with diabetes. In another study in South Africa entitled “Non-allopathic adjuvant management of osteoarthritis by alkalinisation of the diet” could be verified as a supplement based on citrate, significantly reduced symptoms in patients with osteoarthritis. The easiest way we have to alcalinizarnos is through our fuel that is through the food we eat and absorb; sometimes the problem is the healthy food you eat is not absorbed.
The Organic Shambollicks by John Leonard
It’s easy to play around with the meaning of words. With food descriptions, with interpretations of organic, local, or sustainable…… or eat vegetables and save the planet. As usual, the truth is always under the surface, just swimming out of reach, ducking under the boardwalks festooned with menus and cool restaurants and even cooler celebrity chefs. But behind the scenes its mud and calloused hands working hoes held together with tightened wires singing with every rhythmic strike into the unwilling planetary crust. Here rests food truth. Here is the truth behind the highly polished marketing of food that’s stuffed in our face every moment of every waking hour. Beyond such truth is the prancing,dancing stories of blindfolded word smiths regaling those who decorate plates with spits of lilac infused peppered sauce and creme a la don’t give a twat where this comes from. Food begins in dirt. The polite term renegades it as “soil”. So let’s keep calling it Soil. A living, planetary mucus of bacteria, fungi and multi complex organisms makes the Soil sing into a support structure for more flashy lifeforms. It’s out of sight of our limited human senses but it’s still the seething behemoth that bedrocks all life on our beautiful planet. We can’t see it, it’s not cute, big eyed or furry in the way many vegans often measure value. Yet it’s the one thing that underpins ALL life on this planet. Get rid of these guys and we occupy a martian world of rock. On
that same thought trajectory….. if we get rid of humans…….Nothing changes. I see no “save the Protozoa” campaigns out there. PETA doesn’t throw paint on those who can’t see the critical role of a gazillion soil bacterias in a spoonful of soil. Dirt has no worshipers. No trendy fads or movements flicking it to prominence on glowing screens of social media. You’ll probably find its only permaculture devotees and organic farmers who worship dirt. Yet it’s the most critical platform of life for our existence and I ask the question? What do we do as humans? Supposedly the “highest” life form on the planet, the mammal with the mostest of the most, and the bestest of the best? According to the human storyline there is no ideology of humility. According to our own human narrative, people and other key mammals are the only thing that really matters…..thats the endgame of all endgames in stupidity. Not long after humans discovered these living soil organisms, the earth’s apex mammal revolutionized their relationship with them. In less than 50 years humans worked out how to apply a myriad of manufactured chemicals to control the natural cycles and a billion years of Soil evolution. They invented factory farms and a nightmare of zombie life forms evolved in a few decades in direct competition with a balance in the web of life created by the planet over a billion years. So Yes, we are killing everything around us so we can make money rather than snuggle up to a beautiful living planet. It’s a human centered endgame that won’t end well. This is why food is important, because you make choices that define our relationship
with the Soil. You decide who your farmers will be. You choose fat cats owning industrial conglomerates or wrinkled hands tilling Soils. You choose which group you will support on each and every day that you eat. Fifty years ago people chose to encourage industrialized systems of food and since then we have seen fifty years of disconnection from the Earth’s heartbeat. Worshiping money rather than a living planet has brought the earth to its ecological knees. Each day you spend money on food choices. Those choices will define your commitment to the planet. Look at your food, it will link you to those farming warriors who work the Soil, or it will link you to abusive systems of food industrialization that are continually finding new ways of breaking the laws of nature. Unfortunately Bali is still in an earth friendly transition phase. In many parts of the world labels such ‘organic’, ‘free range’, ‘biodynamic’ are strictly monitored by the government system. It’s not quite like that here in Bali. There is an open season on using the words as a marketing tool rather than a reflection of the kind of relationship that exists between nature/earth -farmer/producer and customer/ consumer. There are many peddlers talking the organic talk, but very few actually walking the organic walk. In my estimation more than 90% of organic claims on Bali are completely unreliable. But “we totally use organic fertilizer” you hear them say (but let’s stay hush on the hundreds of liters of pesticide you drench the earth with). I have lost count of the number of farms I have seen with hundreds of meters of their Soil plas-
tered in black plastic. Yet their black plastic stripes are self declared “organic”. Yet these are not the biggest rorts. There are ‘farmers’ whose hands are not worn, or gnarled, or dirty. These farmers offer less than 1% produce from their show pony farm. More than 99% of their produce is bought as a middleman from god knows where…. And god only knows what kind of industrialized, chemicalized farming systems those farms support. But by the time those perfect specimens land on the organic sales table they are guaranteed more organic than organic. It’s the epitome of green wash. Thus far this is Bali’s main contribution to the organic lifestyle. Thankfully this may be beginning to change. So it’s buyer and nature beware in Bali. Choose your supplier carefully. Ask the right questions. Wait, watch and see if they are earth lovers rather than marketing businessmen peddling organics. We might delve deeper into this in another article. Tri Sutrisna is the owner and manager of one of Bali’s most successful pastured organic cooperatives. “Wanaprasta- return to nature” is renowned for its high quality pastured meats, dairy and fruits/vegetables.
Clean Green Machine
1 banana or avocado 1 cup chopped pineapple 1/2 cucumber Handful of spinach or kale 1 cup coconut water (or almond milk) Juice of 1 lime
1 cup chopped papaya 1 cup coconut water 1 chopped green apple Juice of one tangerine Juice of 1 lime Small handful of fresh mint
1/2 cup coffee 1/2 cup coconut water 1 Tbsp almond butter (Alternatively a big handful of soaked cashews.) 1 frozen banana
1 scoop protein powder Handful of frozen berries 1 Tbsp of nut butter 2 Tbsp of oats 1 Tbsp of spirulina, maca, or bee pollen
1 banana 1 handful of spinach
Place banana or avocado, or both, in a blender. Add handful of greens, cucumber, and chunks of pineapple. If you are adding some extra boosters now is the time to do so! Pour in the coconut water and lime juice. Blend until the consistency is smooth and creamy. Serve, sip and see how new found energy is pulsing in your veins!
Put all the ingredients into the blender and whizz it all up! Serve in your favorite glasses, share with your loved ones and have a great day!
Optional: 1 date Â˝ avocado 1 tsp of chia seeds Brew the coffee and allow it to cool down before pouring it in the blender. Add coconut water, peeled banana and almond butter. Blend until all the ingredients are mixed well together. For extra sweetness add one date and for a thicker consistency add avocado or chia seeds. If you are after iced coffee then add crushed ice and blend on high speed. Serve and enjoy this delightful caffeine fix.
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Cucumber Pineapple Gazpacho Soup (Serves 4)
3 Cups Chopped Pineapple 3 Cups Chopped Cucumber (seedless) 1/2 Cup Finely Diced White Onion 1 Cup Coconut Water 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice 1 Teaspoon Sambal 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Chopped Cilantro and Chopped Pecans
1. Combine chopped pineapple, cucumber, white onion and coconut water in a blender and puree. 2. Remove from blender, put in large ceramic bowl. 3. Add olive oil, lime juice, sambal and salt. 4. Mix well with a wooden spoon. 5. Let sit and chill in refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours. 6. Stir before serving and taste for salt. If needed, add a pinch. 7. Serve in individual bowls and garnish with the cilantro and chopped pecans.
Breakfast Smoothie Bowl (Serves 1)
1/2 cup blueberries (frozen) 1 banana (frozen) 1/4 cup coconut milk 1/4 cup coconut water 1/2 cup muesli 1 Tbsp fresh grated coconut 1/4 cup fresh papaya cubed 1 Tbsp bee pollen 1 Tbsp organic honey
Procedure 1. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a blender until smooth 2. Pour into a bowl 3. Top with 1/2 cup muesli 4. Put the papaya around the muesli 5. Grate fresh coconut on top 6. Sprinkle with bee pollen 7. Drizzle with organic honey
Kale Salad Serves 4
300 grams kale: stems discarded and leaves thinly sliced 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice Kosher salt 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly crushed 1 tablespoon brown miso 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 scallions, thinly sliced 1/4 cup unsalted roasted pistachios, chopped
In a large bowl, toss the kale with the lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt. . In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar with the sesame seeds, miso and sugar. Gradually whisk in the oil. Add the dressing to the kale and toss well. Scatter the scallions and pistachios and shave some parmesan cheese on top using a peeler. Ready to serve!
The most important chemical components of turmeric are a group of compounds called Curcuminoids Turmeric is known to be one of the most powerful healing herbs. It is great for bones and joints as it has anti-inflammatory properties. It prevents metastases from occurring in many different forms of cancer.
turmeric stain will vanish!
Turmeric is also a natural liver detoxifier and a kidney cleanser, and it speeds metabolism and aids in weight management. Plus it heals and alleviates conditions of depression, psoriasis, damaged skin, arthritis and more.
3. Fill a big pot with water, put peeled turmeric in and let it boil for at least 20 minutes until the water becomes a rich and vibrant marigold color.
For these reasons, turmeric is ubiquitous both in Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started: 1- 5-7 inches turmeric 2- 5-7 tamarind 3- 2 lemons 4- raw honey 5- water 6- blender 7- strainer 8- bowl 9- glass jar with lid 1. Peel turmeric. Your fingers will turn yellow. Don’t worry! All-natural dish soap gets it right out. If your cutting board or counter top get stained, slather on dish soap and rub it in. Let it soak in for 5 min or longer, then scrub with water and sponge. The
2. Crack and open tamarind. Make sure you get all the inner roots off, too. We’re only going to use the inner fruit.
4. While the turmeric water is boiling, get a pan and pour 1 inch of water in with the peeled tamarind. Move the fruit around with a wooden utensil, mix it in with the water so it can melt and dissolve into a jam like texture. More water shouldn’t be needed, but if it’s looking a bit dry, pour water in as needed. By this time, you should be able to see the little seeds coming out. When the texture looks soft, turn heat off and let it cool down. 5. Go back to the turmeric water. By now, the color should look ready. Pour a little bit of cold water to lower the temperature. Take the turmeric water and pour it into the blender with the turmeric. We boiled it so the root could soften and have more flavor, now it’s ready to buzz in the blender for even more flavor and richness! Blend, blend, blend. The color now should look like an extra fiery marigold.
6. Go back to the tamarind in the pan. Pour substance into the strainer that is placed on top of a small bowl to catch the tamarind. Swish the jam like substance around in the strainer with the wooden utensil-- we only want to use the soft bits of the fruit. No seeds, no peels. 7. Pour the tamarind that has been caught in the bowl into the blender with the turmeric water. Buzz it around again. 8. We’re almost done. Squeeze your lemons into the blender. Now take the blender and pour your yummy juice into your mason jar(s). Add honey to taste, close with lid, and shake it up to mix. 9. Store in fridge up to 3-4 days and drink daily!
Challenges of Eco-Tourism:
Protecting Delicate Aquatic Eco-systems By Susie Laing
he preservation of oceans, beaches, coastal regions, inland freshwater lakes and rivers is an important concern that is relevant to many industries, including energy, agriculture, manufacturing as well as the tourism industry. Conservation and preservation is a delicate balance in tourism, with many sectors struggling to reduce their environmental impact while maintaining a high level of service; nowhere is this more apparent than in industry sectors that access oceans and inland waterways. The cruise industry has long been of concern due to the sheer amount of energy consumed, and waste generated, by cruise ships. In response, the industry is steadily working towards improving the situation in a variety of ways: reducing waste dumping, on-board solar energy generation to reduce fuel requirements, water recycling to reduce freshwater usage, and treatment of waste water into a clean product that is safe to release into the ocean. These and other measures serve to reduce the carbon footprint of the cruise industry, and also help to protect the waters within which ocean liners travel. In response to the damage that can occur as a direct result of water-based tourism, and large ships in particular, some countries now restrict the passage of ships in certain locations. For example, ships that wish to cruise coastal Alaska must comply with regulations that limit waste dumping and
carbon emissions; in Italy, there are plans to limit the size of ships that can enter the Venice lagoon, due to concerns that very large cruise ships are a threat to the stability of the lagoon and the city’s foundation. Inland freshwater lakes and rivers are vastly more vulnerable to damage than oceans and seas simply by virtue of their smaller size; small aquatic eco-systems are incredibly fragile, and even a small change in activity can upset the balance to a considerable extent. One particularly relevant example of this is Inle Lake in Myanmar, where the newly burgeoning tourism industry is already having a significant impact. Myanmar’s tourism industry has flourished in recent years following a number of political and economic reforms that have made it a highly desirable and popular tourist destination, and the expansion of many major and regional airlines to include more frequent flights in and out of the country. Fewer than 300,000 tourists visited in the country in 2010, but in 2013, this figure had increased to more than two million. Myanmar’s tourism industry is struggling to keep pace with this massive growth, in particular with the enormous increase in demand for accommodation. According to environmental groups, however, the more pressing problem is that the rapidly growing tourism industry, and in particularly the interest in eco-tourism, may cause irreparable damage to fragile aquatic eco-systems. Just as the accommodation sector is struggling
to keep up with demand, so too is the government struggling to enact effective protections for the country’s most delicate ecosystems. Inle Lake, located on Myanmar’s Shan Plateau, is a highland freshwater lake, the shores of which are inhabited by people of several ethnicities. The people who live here fish the lake and grow crops nearby, but Inle Lake is an increasingly popular eco-tourism destination, and the tourism industry may have already contributed to irreversible changes in the aquatic environment. For example, a species of fish that was once a common catch in Inle Lake, the Inle Herring Barbell, is now such a rare sight that it may have disappeared entirely. Introduced fish species are contributing to the disappearance of multiple native species, a problem that has been noted by both villagers and environmental researchers. To further add to the problem, the demand for accommodation has led to the planned development of dozens of new hotels near the shores of the lake, in what was once a small farming town, and has now changed into something else entirely. There’s no question that Myanmar stands to benefit considerably from the rapid growth of its tourism industry; what’s at stake is the country’s unique eco-systems, and the question of whether or not effective protections can be put in place in time to prevent further damage.
Permablitz “As well as making edible gardens, there may also be workshops on composting or water filtration, perhaps a little live music, and definitely a lot of laughter”
I arrive at the Farmer’s Yard, a permaculture garden, hostel and community space in Canggu, to find a group – made up of foreign travellers and Balinese – planting beans and cucumber in garden beds, and adding the finishing touches to a newly built chicken coop. With a concept of “putting an end to careless tourism,” the space has been created on the principles of sustainable living, with the idea of connecting visitors to Bali with local neighbours and communities. The flourishing garden, filled with peppermint, eggplant, basil, cabbage and rosella was created during a permablitz, and I am here to meet Djuka Terenzi, who along with his friends, is the driving force behind Permablitz Bali. A direct action ‘green’ movement that sprouted in Australia and quickly spread across the world, permablitz combines “perma” culture theory with ‘blitz’ a sudden, energetic, and concerted effort. Essentially day-long gatherings that combine volunteer labour and permaculture theory, a permablitz aims to transform an unproductive backyard garden or urban space into a productive or edible garden. The concept is simple, a permaculture designer draws up a site-specific plan, volunteers provide the labour and the host makes lunch. As well as being a great way to get involved with your local community, joining a permablitz teaches you how to grow your own food at home using simple permaculture principles. The network runs on reciprocity so if you attend a few permablitzes, you then qualify for one yourself. Anybody can come, and everybody wins! The idea bloomed in the suburbs of Me-
lbourne in 2006 when a permaculture designer, Dan Palmer, met a South American community group. Joining forces one Sunday, Palmer and his friends provided seedlings, compost, plants and ideas, and the community group provided labour, delicious food, music and dancing. By the end of the day a bland backyard garden had been transformed with a worm farm, pond, vegetable plants, herbs and chillies. The seeds of the permablitz movement had been sewn. The movement spread, by word of mouth, from Melbourne right across Australia and on to Hawaii, Istanbul, Montreal, Uganda and, of course Bali, with the first permablitz taking place at Sunrise School. The network has gone on to transform a number of gardens, including Terenzi’s own and that of the Farmer’s Yard Hostel. He explains that the free, day-long events are open to everyone and aim to create something ‘cool and efficient.’ A site is chosen, a plan made, a date is set and then the event is posted on their Facebook page. As well as making edible gardens, there may also be workshops on composting or water filtration, perhaps a little live music, and definitely a lot of laughter. Permaculture is essentially about mimicking nature – integrating people and places in ecologically harmonious systems that provide a good portion of the needs of people living there, with things like water, vegetables, fruit, and eggs. Of course prior to industrialisation, most gardens were based on permaculture principles, but intensive farming, consumer demand for cheap produce, and the growth of cities saw people shift away from a natural way of living. Per-
mablitzes can reunite us with the land and are a great way for first time gardeners to learn some skills. “We are not just using energy, but creating it,” says Djuka. “It’s about being super efficient, it’s about creating a self sustaining eco system.” Edible gardens help conserve energy by reducing the need for food transport; they also use less water than agricultural farms, encourage composting and are generally organic. Keen to see more permablitz sites, I also visit Kaleidoscope house, a riotously coloured community house on the outskirts of Ubud, with yellow and green brick walls draped in psychedelic wall hangings. In the adjacent communal space a yoga class is under way, and another room at the back has bunk beds that house volunteers and visitors. Heading out back I find a nursery crammed with healthy seedlings, a garden bed edged in recycled roof tiles and sprouting with herbs, tiny cherry tomatoes, and kangkung (water spinach) rising from a watery pot. As well as being a Community House, Kaleidoscope serves as a base for Rumah Idea (Indonesian Development of Environmental Education and Agricultural Studies,) a Yayasan that works with local kids, teaching English, organic farming, bee keeping, chocolate-making, and dance. Back in the living room, sipping a delicious organic Balinese coffee infused with cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, my eyes rest on a sign on the wall, “Some want it to happen, Some wish it would happen, Others make it happen,” which pretty much sums up the Permablitz network. www.rumahidea.com and www.permablitzbali.org/ and www.farmersyardbali.com
Permablitz (noun): An informal gathering involving a day in which a group of at least two people come together to achieve the following: create or add to edible gardens, share skills related to permaculture and sustainable living, build community, have fun.
Everyone needs a friend, someone to look out for us, keep us safe. We’re stronger together, right? Plants need best-buddies, too, a pal to protect them from harmful insects. Some plants make great companions, but some are mighty Super Heroes that not only protect their friends, but also make them stronger and better (more flavorful). Plants are designed to live and work together. When you know which plants live and work well together. Top 6 Companion Plants to Defend Your Precious Veggies From Harmful Insects:
Borage is a friend to MANY plants, especially tomatoes and squash. But, Borage and strawberries are absolute Besties! Savvy strawberry farmers always set a few plants in their beds to enhance the fruits flavor and yield. Borage’s Super Powers are its knack for repelling tomato hornworms and cabbage worms, attracting bees and wasps, as well as adding trace minerals to the soil. Borage leaves contain vitamin C and are rich in calcium, potassium and mineral salts. It also makes a nice mulch for most plants. Borage is self-sowing, so after planting this annual once, it will reseed itself. Borage flowers are beautifully vibrant and edible. The plant itself is furry and gangly, and not edible.
Chives buddy-up well with carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, kohlrabi, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, strawberries, mustard–and apples! Chives’ super power is defending tomatoes from aphids and repelling Japanese beetles and carrot rust flies from your garden. Planting chives consistently for three years amongst apple trees prevents scab disease. Apple scab can ruin
a season’s crop. Pair Chives with carrots and tomatoes to enhance their flavor. Word of warning: It’s not recommended to plant Chive with asparagus, beans, peas and spinach.
Radishes are trustworthy companions to many plants–and they’re easy to grow. Plant radishes along side beets, bush beans, pole beans, carrots, chervil, cucumber, lettuce, melons, nasturtium, parsnip, peas, spinach to protect them from cucumber beetles and rust flies. Radishes draw strength and flavor from Chervil and nasturtium. To defend your corn crop against borers, plant radish with your corn, but let it go to seed for its protective power to work. If you don’t mind planting a few sacrificial radish, plant a few with your spinach to lure leafminers from your spinach plants. The leafminers will damage the radish leaves, but not the edible root. Radish’s super power lies in its uncanny ability to tell you something about your soil, like if the calcium levels are off. If your radish grows to produce a stringy root, your soil needs calcium. Word of warning: Keep radishes away from hyssop plants, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and turnips.
If you’re looking forward to growing any of these vegetables this season–Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower,Cabbage, Collards, Chard, dill, Kale, Kohlrabi, Mustard, Radishes, Rutabaga, tomato, Turnip–send in the onions! The onion’s super power is its strong smell which confuses carrot and onion flies and repels maggots away from carrots, lettuce, chamomile, beets, cabbage, and parsnips.
Word of warning: Keep onions away from peas and asparagus.
5- Marigold (Calendula)
Even though this number 2 Guardian Plant, marigold (Pot Marigold) isn’t a vegetable, it is edible…and beautiful…and easy to grow. It is a might adversary of any insect that dares to enter the garden. French marigolds repel whiteflies and kill bad nematodes. Mexican marigolds are said to “bug” many destructive insects. Scented varieties of marigold flowers are the best pest deterrents. One of Calendula’s super powers is its ability to be self-reliant.
Yes, garlic! It ranks Number #1 Super Hero Defender of Good because its powerful ability to defend fruit trees! Garlic is the perfect partner for apple, peach and pear orchards, or wherever borers are a problem. Garlic’s super power is its ability to accumulate sulfur, which acts as a naturally occurring fungicide. Garlic’s companion plants take-up take up the sulfur through their roots and pores. Garlic’s status as Super Guardian Defender stem from its ability to ward-off codling moths, Japanese beetles, root maggots, snails, and carrot root fly. Garlic is one plant you should plant throughout your garden beds. Plant garlic along side your tomatoes to prevent red spider mites. Diamond back moths won’t bother your cabbage when garlic is standing guard. Gardening is so much simpler–and rewarding, when you let the plants do the work for you. Now you know which plants which protect your crops from invaders is half the battle. It’s time to dig in and starting growing a strong, healthy crop of produce for your family. .
A Growing Interest in Seeds
Bali's 1st Community Seed Bank Initiative One of the most wonderful aspects of the natural world is it’s abundance. We often take for granted that nature constantly creates more than we need. It’s this exponential force that comes into play when nature reproduces itself. From one single seed there is the potential to generate hundreds, sometimes thousands of new copies of the original plant. Of course we’ve known about this for tens of thousands of years. In fact, gathering seeds, storing them, planting them and maintaining a garden were some of the behaviours of early humans that set the course to developing modern society. Early agrarian cultures needed to assign different people to look after their crops so other animals wouldn’t eat them while other people went off and hunted, gathered or fought off enemies. Now with the organic revolution taking place as a backlash to the ‘green revolution’ that introduced intensive agriculture, pesticides and artificial fertiliser, people are understanding that organic food is healthier than non-organic. Organic food is very popular now, but to label something ‘organic’ does not necessarily mean it is free of all the nasty stuff we are trying to avoid. This may be even more dubious in Bali where classifications like ‘organic’ are easy to apply. The only way to really know if something is organic is to grow it yourself in a garden that you set up yourself. To do this you need access to good, viable seeds that have been proven to thrive in local conditions. It was during the search for such seeds
that the idea for a community seed bank, with seeds grown in private backyard gardens, was born. After asking around, it didn’t take long to realise that there were many people living in Bali who would like a vegetable garden in their villa, but just didn’t have the resources to do so. It seemed that what was a natural solution to this problem was a collective depository of seeds that was provided by, and for, the very gardens that needed the seeds in the first place. Enter the Canggu Garden and Seed Network. The idea is very simple: people who want to grow their own food can ‘borrow’ seeds from the seed bank and ‘return’ them later when their plants have grown. Of course they won’t be the same seeds but rather the offspring of the plant grown from the borrowed seeds. Since nature performs so well at proliferation and abundance, the seeds are lent at an interest rate and the price of the interest is a multiple of the seeds first borrowed. For example, if you borrowed 5 seeds and grew 5 plants then you would be expected to return the seeds, as well as a multiple of the borrowed amount, say 5 times the borrowed amount - 25 seeds of interest and the 5 first borrowed, coming to 30 seeds. With this model the net seed volume will increase exponentially, within several growing seasons we will have a base reserve of seeds. In addition to just amassing seed volume, the community seed bank model artificially selects for better seeds and strengthens the biodiversity of the seeds stored in the bank. Each private garden where the seeds
are sown will have slightly different growing conditions (soil acidity, wind, sun, other plants, etc.) and each garden will have a slightly different mix of seeds growing in it. The resultant plants will grow according to their ability to thrive in these specific conditions and the plants that perform better will be the plants from which seed is collected. If this is done on a large scale with dozens of gardens across a large area of land, the net increase in seed quality as well as quantity can increase dramatically. Growing your own food makes you feel good, it’s a type of therapy. Saving and sharing seeds forms a strong community around a collective seed bank that will serve as a vault of genetic material for future generations. Keeping the seeds free, opensource and available for all will limit the ability of corporate agribusiness to establish a monopoly over what is our birthright and should never be privatised in the first place. The privatisation of seed by global corporations is currently a major issue. ‘Seed autonomy’ is now very important when corporations are able to sue farmers who collect seed and go against the intellectual property restrictions placed on the purchase of such seed. This has occurred here in Bali and all over the world. Let’s bring back the ancient practise of collecting and sharing seeds and maintain our birthright over the earths genetic material. To get involved in this initiative you can visit the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/canggugardenandseednetwork
DHARMA / COMMUNITY
With the annual wet season deluge of waste on our beaches, and an online petition, “Bye Bye Plastic Bags on Bali,” everyone is talking about plastic bags – and that’s a good thing! The aim of collecting one million signatures in an attempt to pass a law to forbid their use is certainly an ambitious one, but across the island people are finally realising that something has to be done. As Sam Miller, the enigmatic founder of Bombastic Plastix says, “It’s the practice, not the result,” and although we might not be able to ban plastic bags, we need to build momentum and energy around the idea that Bali is in serious trouble. Cheerfully handed out across the island, only to be discarded minutes later and left to smoulder in black smoky fires, or float down the island’s rivers and streams and into the ocean where they flow in and out with the tides, plastic bags are a major thorn in Bali’s side. A few years back, American-born Miller decided to do what he does best – and get creative! “I always had a thing about plastic,” he says, and recites a story about travelling by bus along a dusty old road in Bolivia in the 1990’s. Parallel to the road was a chain link fence that acted as a net for hundreds of thousands of plastic bags that had blown across the Altiplano. “I looked at that fence and thought, “There must be something you can do with those things.” Ten years later, having made the move to Bali, he came across an internet video for making a bag out of plastic bags. He was sold! Armed with a cheap iron and a vision, he set up shop on his kitchen floor and discove-
red a way to fuse plastic bags together to form sheets of plastic, onto which he could apply decorative motifs. And so Bombastic Plastix was born. “We are taking something that has a service life of about 30 minutes and converting it into something that lasts years,” he says. I first met Miller at his store on Jl. Mertanadi a few years back. Sadly the shop has now closed, but his funky accessories are still available online (www.shop.thepeoplesmovement.com/accessories.html) and at various retail outlets; and unlike some of the recycled gear you see around, which is well-meaning, but not exactly fashionable – this stuff is super stylish. Utilising technology and highly creative designs, he and his Balinese team fashion unique, eco-friendly accessories. He explains, “The celebration of beautiful patterns is in the soul of the folks here in Bali. Every offering is adorned with flowers, coloured rice and a hand-cut palm leaf design. All of the girls who piece our fabric bring with them that extraordinary talent.” Mention Bombastic Plastix to anyone and you will get the same response – that stuff is fantastic! With a loyal following across the world, Miller decided to take things to the next level and moved to China, but that’s another story, and after an absence of three years, he is back in Bali and still a man on a mission. He describes their method as, “Re-utilising plastic shopping bags, as opposed to recycling, which means the plastic must re-enter the industrial stream to be sorted, ground up, reprocessed, re-melted, re-dyed,
and remanufactured into new products. Rather, we take a plastic bag from the trash, melt it together with other plastic bags making non-woven fabric and sew the fabric into stuff.” There is certainly no shortage of used plastic bags here in Bali, and he tells me they are an ideal material to work with, as they fuse well and can be crafted into something highly durable. However, in the absence of strong recycling practices on the island, collecting and cleaning bags from waste sites takes enormous energy and people power. Upping production levels also means costly equipment upgrades. “We’re serious: we want to clean up plastic,” says Miller, but the truth is, in order to really have a serious impact, he needs greater support and allies – this may be an island filled with plastic, but no man is an island, no matter how strong his vision and determination. Ultimately, he has several other ideas for this plastic fabric in mind, such as landfill liners, which prevent contamination of the water table and which many poorer countries can’t afford to use, “We could actually solve that problem with material made right from the waste stream!” Bombastic Plastix is a true inspiration, and a fabulous example of a creative vision paving the way for a much-needed eco-solution. Check out the very cool website and blog at www.bombasticplastix.com And sign the petition @ https://secure.avaaz. org/en/petition/Byebye_Plastic_Bags_On_ Bali/?fbss
Project Protect A simple idea turned into reality
roject Protect has the mission to put a helmet on every child’s head in Asia, starting in Bali. The program is the result of the passion of 3 people, Josef Mayrhofer, his daughter Romana, and Irma Wulandari. They were very surprised when they arrived in Bali from Austria and saw many people on one bike and most people not wearing a helmet. When they found out that the children are the last to wear a helmet they were appalled. They had to do something and the result is incredible. Project Protect was born when they enlisted a company to donate the initial funds to create helmets for kids and get the project started. Recently, the Rotary Club of Bali Canggu got involved and things got even more interesting. Because of the reach and influence of Rotary (there are 16 Clubs in Bali alone!) they are in the position to get this message out all over the island. The idea is based on 3 E’s: Educate, Encourage and Enforce. Education is the beginning. It is not in the culture to wear helmets. This was the case 30-40 years ago in America and probably in Europe and Australia too. Back in the 60’s and 70’s women would drink and smoke when they were pregnant, drunk driving was not illegal or enforced, and kids never wore helmets or seatbelts.
Things changed, we learned and our habits followed. Now in these places you would never get on a motorbike without a helmet and if you did people would think you are crazy. Education is required. Project Protect is educating about why to wear a helmet, through a presentation and posters. We are concentrating on the youngest of children, (ages 3 - 5) and enlisting the help of the older children to help make the presentation and distribute the helmets. They will also hang the posters in their school to help spread the word. The next E is to encourage. The idea is to give away the helmets to all Kindergartens in Bali. There are 1,445 on the island and we want to reach them all but also do this every year so we help build the habit and encourage them to make this a part of their lives. It is going to take a long time to change habits and build new ones and we intend to do this by spreading the word on posters in schools, hospitals, shopping centers, businesses; basically everywhere we can! This is where the digital age becomes our best friend. This should be a social media homerun. Everybody will love to be associated with saving a child’s life and helping to incite change for the better. The idea to build this into a habit will also be reinforced with the giveaway of toothbrushes with every helmet. The children
of this country need to learn to wash their hands, brush their teeth, and always wear a helmet. So we created HELMET MAN to help excite the children. Helmet Man’s message is clear: “Wash your hands, brush your teeth, and always wear a helmet. And don’t forget to clip it.” So the children are encouraged to build these into lifelong habits and also given the necessary tools. The last E is to Enforce. At some point we need to get schools and local businesses to start demanding that students and workers show up with helmets. Eventually, the police would be involved, but only after a long period of education and encouragement. So now we get to the important part: how can we afford to do this. The cost to produce one helmet is Rph 50,000, so we are asking for sponsors to purchase 100 helmets and we will put their logo in 3 places on each helmet. This gives so much great advertisement and for a long time. Our very first sponsor was Desa Seni, A Village Resort and we are very grateful to them for their support and enthusiasm. We hope that you will pass this on to people that would be interested. All donations are welcome. If you cannot purchase 100 helmets, just think how IDR 50,000 can change a life and save a life. For more information, please contact Chris Sperduto at: email@example.com
low down, slow down or you’ll miss it! Come over the toll road to Nusa Dua, take a right, past the crematorium, past the big statue, then you’ll see the blue sign on the left YPAC but…go slow or you’ll miss it! Tucked away, off the road you’ll find YPAC
SLB D, a school for physically and mentally handicapped children. But don’t be deceived by the image that this title conjures up. If you spend any time with the staff and students here you will leave a much happier person and wonder why you felt just that little bit irritated when you didn’t get your latte this
morning or the gardener didn’t show up. YPAC is what we would call in the west a “Special School”. In the Indonesian educational system, SLB stands for Sekolah Luar Biasa. If you translate Luar Biasa you will find incredible, exceptional, extraordinary, remarkable, unbelievable, unusual, but I think INCREDIBLE suits best!
With a school roll of about 45 students from ages 8 to 22, YPAC operates both as a school and a residential home for young people with a wide range of disabilities, from autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual delays, physical birth defects, or the after-effects of polio or other childhood illnesses. Because of the long distance from their homes in Ubud, Gianyar, Singaraja, or Nusa Penida, approximately 20 of the students are residential while others attend as day students. Many travel daily with their parents by motorbike from the Denpasar or Kerobokan area - come rain or shine. There are 8 government funded teaching staff and this year the school grew to accommodate class SMA, the first senior class. The Yayasan, or Foundation, is run by Pak Putu and the lovely Ibu Tanti. Ibu lives-in and as well as teaching acts as a very nurturing housemother. Ibu Tanti recently completed her Masters Degree in Special Education in Surabaya and is a lady of endless patience. The success and development of YPAC is thanks to the hard work of the staff, countless volunteers, both local and international, and of course the financial and practical donations received from individuals, charitable organisations and local hotels and businesses, all too numerous to mention here. As the saying goes, “It takes a village”! Recent structural renovations, thankfully completed just before the heavy rains came upon us, were paid for by a group of long-standing and very loyal donors. In recent years these same supporters have also
paid for numerous projects including a new kitchen, computer room, beds for the dorms and…drumroll here please…the school’s very own mini bus!! But let’s get to the main event, our students! A great deal of emphasis is put on teaching them to be self-sufficient and independent. They are an incredibly resourceful group of young people from whom you will very rarely hear “tidak bisa/ I can’t”! The response to any new task or challenge is more often than not a very hearty “Saya akan coba!! / I’ll try!” The successes of our former students are proof positive of the confidence and skills they have been given at YPAC. Yuyun and Badra, who were funded by an American sponsor for the last two years, to attend college, have now joined the workforce and are on their way to earning their own living. Both these young people have overcome physical handicaps to get out into the world. Yuyun is currently training in an office for a group of villas in Umalas while Badra is working in the Pullman Hotel. Ni Nengah Widiasih has travelled worldwide to attend events as a weight lifter and placed in the Special Olympics in London in 2012. Ferdi is a talented artist. Although hearing-impaired, he has gone on to study at the School of Art in Denpasar. Some of his pieces have been sold to patrons in Australia and Holland and are on display in the school and in my living room! Our upcoming students also show great promise and with opportunities made avail-
able we hope that they too will be able to reach their potential. Sussilla, a victim of childhood polio, originates from Singaraja and has personally adapted his motorbike to gain independence. He is a keen sportsman and has taken part in competitive wheel-chair racing, basketball and surfing. He is also a complete charmer, so be warned! Komang Sri who is visually impaired, has been helped by a lovely Australian lady who has the same disability. With talking software she will be able to communicate online and learn to touch type. Our aim is to get her, her very own laptop. Our seniors Kadek Indari, Aziz, Fariz, Ayu, Sindi and Santi all have ambitions to go on to further education and will need support. It should go without saying that our YPAC students should be offered the same opportunities to develop their skills and fulfil their potential to succeed as adults. However, while the attitude to people with disabilities is improving, there is still a long way to go. It is for this reason that YPAC needs and relies upon the help and support from those of us who are able bodied, open minded, financially able and even more importantly, willing to give of our time and care. So “slow down, slow down” when you’re looking for YPAC on the road but don’t go slow in your offers of help! We’ll look forward to seeing you or hearing from you soon! http://www.friends-ypac-bali.org/
The Solemen have morphed into an organization with a serious mission that reaches far beyond their original goal.
ere you ever so poor that you had to walk 10 kilometers to school every day… barefoot? In Bali, many children still do and their plight was made famous by the Solemen, formerly known as the crazy people who walked barefoot all over Bali in sympathy with those kids and in order to raise awareness and money. Since their inception in 2010, the Solemen have morphed into an organization with a serious mission that reaches far beyond their original goal. They created a great outreach program to benefit the poor, the disadvantaged, the disabled, the homeless and the marginalized in Bali. Their goal is to alleviate the misery of extreme poverty by bringing hope and solutions; their focus is on individual cases that remain hidden from public view and hence are separated from easy access to medical treatment; they reach people who fall through the cracks and are not helped by any other available programs. Their cases range from children and adults with pernicious diseases or living in abominable conditions, to those who need ongoing therapy or medications not always available in Bali. Their caseload is humongous and new cases, affectionately called Solebuddies, are added every month. Due to the dedication and steadfastness of the outreach team, their success rate is phenomenal. They help people such as Ni Luh, a young girl with cerebral palsy who spent 13 years of her life lying on her back on the floor without proper medical care. Today she is in a wheelchair, receives therapy and has a more stimulating
and caring environment. Solemen certainly made a difference to a 45-year old man who was caged by his family due to mental illness. Today, after 2 years of ongoing treatment, holistic care and medical supervision, Made is free from his cage. One of their biggest successes was the rehabilitation of 2 families with 7 severely disabled children living in what Solemen founder Robert Epstone and Outreach leader Sarah Chapman called the House of Horrors. When they found a total of 29 people living in a dilapidated house in Denpasar in unhygienic and below-standard living conditions with seven children suffering from a severe form of muscular dystrophy, scoliosis and developmental delay, they sprung into action. Two of the boys had been lying naked on the concrete floor without any medical care or adequate assistance for over ten years. Solemen immediately started organizing fundraisers and provided medical care, therapy and customized wheelchairs to the afflicted boys, removed the families from that horrible house and into a newly built, wheelchair accessible duplex and started a state of the art organic permaculture garden where they are able to grow their own food. Not all of their Solebuddies require medical help; sometimes a family needs just a little push to get them out of an abject state of poverty and onto the path of self-reliance. Invariably the results are antithetical to the amount of money invested. Like Wayan who lives in a remote village in Bangli, is an excellent knife maker but was unable to provide for his family because he did not
own a motorbike to collect wood, steel and charcoal for making and then getting out to sell his wares. Solemen provided him with a simple motorbike and today Wayan is making a decent and sustainable living marketing his knives in surrounding villages. The story of Ibu Resa is compelling and an excellent example of how Solemen intervention can weave wonders for afflicted families. Ibu Resa’s 14-year-old son is totally dependent on her due to severe Thalassemia, a genetic and debilitating disease with symptoms including a grossly distended abdomen and enlarged liver and spleen. The boy is virtually bedridden, unable to attend school and needing around the clock care. His condition is life limiting. His mother is a skilled weaver and requested a loan to buy a loom which would enable her to work from home, earn a good income and care for Resa at the same time. The Solemen team immediately found sponsors from Australia who donated the money to buy a loom. Ibu Resa is now self sufficient and able to care for her son. All of those Solemen efforts need sustainable funding to be able to continue the momentum. As the workload becomes heavier and heavier daily costs rise in tandem. Thanks to donations, fundraisers and volunteers they manage to continue to do what they like to do best: ‘CHANGING LIVES FOREVER’. As Soleman Robert says: ”it is so much better teaching others to fish rather than just giving them fish.” Please help them to teach more and more Solebuddies to fish! www.solemen.org
Bali Children Foundation A 15-year-old boy from Tigawasa village is living alone in a tattered house made of bamboo and old tiles. His name is Putu. After the death of his father, Putuâ€™s mother remarried, leaving him. For income, he often works in a small bamboo workshop owned by his uncle, earning around IDR 10,000 (AUS$1) per day. When it is not enough, he
asks his uncle for food. A Bali Children Foundation representative visited Putu with the Head of the village of Tigawasa. As a result, Putu is now studying in the 9th grade of junior high school and he is highly motived to continue his education. BCF will now support Putu along with over 1,100 students in a similar position, by
paying for their school fees, transport costs, school needs, university costs, job placement and mentoring; and where necessary contributing towards living expenses, giving these children and their families an opportunity to break the poverty cycle. The Indonesian island province of Bali is famous worldwide for its ancient culture,
spectacular beach resorts, breathtaking landscapes that include steaming volcanoes, hectares of terraced, emerald green rice fields, tropical rainforests and the most warm and welcoming people - idyllic in every sense. However, Bali’s remote rural communities have been heavily impacted by both man-made and natural disasters and many families are caught in the poverty trap with little or no income. There is minimal government assistance and all education must be paid for. The dropout rate in rural primary schools is very high. Children frequently have no option other than a lifetime of working on the land for limited remuneration. Our vision, at Bali Children Foundation, is to provide an educational pathway for disadvantaged Balinese children – a journey leading to growth and long-term sustainability by providing: - community education in remote areas of Bali - English in the Village (EITV) and Computers in the Village (CITV) classes in 16 locations - educational opportunities to children at associated Children’s Homes - contributing to primary, secondary and tertiary scholarships to children in 40 communities In 2008, our work expanded to community education and the establishment of the village projects. Whilst we are happy to assist children’s education via sustainable Children’s Homes, we would prefer to have children living at home while they study at
school and in BCF education facilities. To achieve this, we developed a survey procedure, selected districts and started working with community leaders and families. With their support, we established our education projects in villages in North and West Bali and recently Nusa Lembongan. On invitation, applicants are invited to apply for a community education scholarship. To be eligible, the family must hold a Government Poor Card. Once identified, the potential applicant is “surveyed”. A typical community survey might involve a journey of 45+ minutes into remote areas where roads do not exist and the only method of transport to the family is by foot or motorbike. Typically we will encounter previously unseen poverty and hardship. For example, in one small group of dwellings – no electricity, sanitation or clean water - we found an entire family of six sleeping in one bedroom; in another one-room house five sleeping in the kitchen, a blind mother with a brain tumour, and young children living with hunger and malnutrition. The family profiles vary but most of the families are landless farm labourers who work for a landlord, receive shelter and food but very little cash income. The mothers either bead garments or make baskets to provide some funds for the household. Although the majority of parents have Primary School level education, many are functionally illiterate. Children of these families typically drop out after Primary School or early in Junior High School. However as Bali becomes more sophis-
ticated, prospects for uneducated workers are poor. We hope to arrest this pattern. By becoming involved at Primary level, we offer an education pathway for families who cannot afford senior education for their children. Putu is just one of so many children in the village who urgently need our support. On our last visit to Putu’s house, we found that in Tigawasa village around 700 households are currently living below the poverty line. This is almost 50% of the total population of Tigawasa. This discovery has encouraged BCF to start another online auction to help the children get the education they deserve. Our target in this auction is to collect IDR 165 Million (AUS$ 16,500) to start helping 50 children from this community. Join us in making a difference for all of the children, their families and the community of Tigawasa! You can help by liking, sharing and bidding on one of the many fantastic auction items posted on the Bali Children Foundation Charity Auction Facebook page - or if you have something to donate in Bali, Singapore, Sydney or internationally, please message us through the Facebook page. Alternatively, as an individual or a business, it is only approximately $330 per annum to sponsor an individual child’s education and break the poverty cycle for that child, their family and community. If you are interested please contact us through our website for more information - www.balichildrenfoundation.org. Thanks for your support!
MATAHARI TERBIT CENTRE - CULTIVATING THE FIRE OF COMPASSION A non-profit organization for children with Cerebral Palsy
n 2010 a teacher at Sunrise School and the mother of a handicapped child, with a group of other teachers and friends, made a decision that would ultimately change the perception of care for disabled children in Bali, especially children with Cerebral Palsy. We grew from a personal endeavour on Saturday mornings, into an organized community that is able to give our disabled children the best available care and the opportunity to grow and develop to their fullest capabilities. It started with one classroom on Saturdays, then 2 more classrooms were built for the MTC children, which unfortunately burned down soon after. With great determination, co-founder Susanna Roziadi took it upon herself to start over and with the fundraising event she hosted and her family and friendsâ€™ incredible support, enough money was raised to construct what is today the MTC Centre. MTC, Matahari Terbit Centre, came to life next door to Sunrise School (although not affiliated they do provide much support), hired a special education teacher, and solicited a group of dedicated volunteers to assist us in fulfilling our goal to cultivate the fire of compassion. From these humble beginnings, MTC was born. What first began as an outreach program to include friends and families with disabled children who couldnâ€™t find appropriate care for them, soon expanded into a genuine desire to include, educate and provide toolsfor low-income families in Bali. We strive to
make this a home away from home, a safe haven of love, care and healing for children with special needs. Aside from physical therapy, there are many activities the children take part in from arts to music to cognitive exercises, which we call the “Happy Therapy Day” on Saturdays. We provide a Conductive Intensive Program, meaning we have complete services such as physiotherapy, speech therapy, cranio therapy, occupational therapy, art therapy and a new addition of holistic healing therapy. We are the first and only foundation in Bali that caters to children with special needs in such a complete and professional way. Following is some insight into the therapies that we do. Physical therapy works to promote an individual’s mobility, function, and quality of life. Through a number of physical exercises, we work with individuals to overcome physical challenges. In our program, each child has a custom-made recovery plan that identifies the activities that best fit their needs. By improving mobility, relieving pain or other limitations, physical therapy becomes a key part of improving the lives of our children. A unique part of the physical therapy that we offer is the use of water. Swimming and movement in water increases function and is a great way to practice movement. Occupational therapy is the assessment and treatment of cognitive disabilities. It involves a focus on an individual’s environment, daily tasks, education, and self-motivation. This is a person-centered approach that seeks to improve the mental well being
of individuals through a focus on daily activities. A key part of occupational therapy is working with families on the best way to interact with their children. We believe in an involved process where everyone in the family works to improve the quality of life of our students. The main goal of speech therapy is to improve communication. It helps improve coordination of speech muscles through strengthening and coordination exercises, sound repetition and imitation. Improving communication between the brain and the body through visual and auditory aids such as mirrors and tape recorders. Another benefit is the improvement of fluency through breathing exercises. Enhancing the learning of language through language stimulation and the use of language through positive reinforcement. With Holistic Healing Therapy, a deep healing impulse transforms the body, energy field, and mind to bring all into the best possible order. The visible result for the children is better mobility, more joy in their life and blossoming of their abilities. We are proud of the progress of each child. Revo, for example, came to us from an orphanage at the age of 5 when his mother who was not able to handle his disability, abandoned him. He only knew how to crawl and had many scars from it. Three years later, he is able to partake in all activities such as swimming, sports, arts and crafts and is always ready to smile and hand out
hugs. We also have Agung who arrived as a very shy and withdrawn child who could barely walk but now cannot get enough of swimming and moving in general and his appearance has transformed dramatically in a very positive way. The therapies that are provided by the centre are managed and guided by Pak Fauzi who is a Therapist who also has his own practice. He donates his time to share his professional help. These experiences empower the children, our special friends, while enriching the lives of everyone involved. The volunteers share the priceless value of giving, the curative power of friendship, and the vital importance of integrating children with special needs into our communities. The parents and siblings receive much-needed respite and support from us, and all those who assist us. It is a non-profit organization so we rely on donations and from sales from creative art the children make as well as calendars that we produce. MTC has established itself as a leader in the disability community and as a strong voice for individuals with disabilities and their families. We are dedicated to offering a comprehensive solution and we need your help as well to always include and expand our services such as rehabilitative, educational, creative, holistic and social ones– and we do this within a dignified, warm and loving atmosphere that recognizes the children as individuals with abilities, feelings and needs shared by all human beings.
Things we love 1
Taking an early morning stroll through one of Bali’s enchanted water gardens, watching delicate lotus flowers, glossy with dew, gently unfurling with the rising sun. The flourishing gardens at Ubud’s water palace are one of the most beautiful, with sprawling ponds brimming with hundreds of slender pink lotus flowers rising gracefully from the shimmering water. Moss-covered stone statues flank the paths, and intricately carved temple gates are framed by ancient frangipani trees covered in golden-tipped flowers.
We e k end escapes t o A m e d ,
where steep rocky mountains dip to the sea, their parched red slopes strewn with boulders, brambles, black lava rock and wild grasses baked to a crisp coppery gold. Fishing villages nestle in the palm groves, and branches of bright pink bougainvillea frame the azure sea. Donning a mask and snorkel, or oxygen tank reveals a magical underwater world teeming with sea fans, red sponge corals, tropical fish and pastel-hued soft corals swaying in the current.
The sweet sound of silence as the island grinds to a halt and people retreat indoors for Nyepi, the day of silence. Whereas most cultures usher in the new year with raucous celebrations, the Balinese new year, which falls on March 31, 2014, is a day of peaceful reflection. The streets are empty, the waves un-surfed, the markets deserted, builders’ hammers lie dormant. Even the roosters seem to get the vibe and crow
at half pitch. No lights are allowed and the evening sees the island cloaked in darkness, snuggled serenely under a blanket of twinkling stars – until 5am the following morning when the island roars back to life in all its chaotic glory.
We also love the noise the night before Nyepi when Balinese Hindus follow the ritual of mabuubuu. As the sun sets people start banging pots and pans, beeping car horns and generally making as much of a racket as possible in order to awaken the evil spirits – those that cause chaos and mischief. These ‘bhuta kala’ are represented by ogoh ogoh – grotesque statues that are paraded through the streets by the light of flaming torches. Once the demons have been lured priests recite curses on them to banish them from the village, or in some cases burn them on great fires. The Balinese are then ready to retreat silently indoors and start the new year cleansed and purified.
about Bali 5
Lazy Sundays on the Bukit peninsula, with its soaring limestone cliffs, craggy black volcanic rocks, and white sandy beaches pounded by relentless waves. No longer the lonely outcrop it once was, the Bukit may have been ‘discovered’ but has lost none of its hypnotic allure – and you certainly don’t need to be a surfer to feel the thrill of the raw power of the ocean. We love settling into a warung (especially if there’s a hammock or two) high on the cliffs of Uluwatu on a clear sunny day and losing ourselves for an afternoon, watching one perfect wave barrel in after another.
We love the healing traditions that have made Bali the holistic heart of Asia, with its abundance of opportunities to retreat, meditate, salute the sun and expand our horizons in a multiple of guises. Each year top yogis and performance artists from around the world flock to the island for Desa Seni’s Yoga-thon, and the Bali Spirit Festival; and throughout the year hundreds of re-
treats and work shops are staged islandwide.
The simple things in life, like sunset at a beach bar in Seminyak, sprawled on a bean bag, our feet buried in the warm sand. When La Plancha opened a few years ago, its quirky colourful beach shack vibe heralded the rise of the bean bag in Bali, and we are so glad that it did! Bali isn’t quite the unspoilt Eden of years gone by, but life is still good in the urban paradise that it has become. The setting sun still streaks the sky in all shades of crimson, and is always well accompanied by a funky dj and a cocktail (or coconut) in hand. And once evening falls we can wander down the road for a world class meal. Who says paradise has to be deserted?
We love the colourful pageantry of the Hindu religion, which is so deeply entwined in every day life. The constant ceremonies,
ART & CULTURE
the daily rituals, the never-ending prayers and meditations all aimed at maintaining balance. Here we have a unique opportunity to tap into an intense and powerful energy, and learn to go with the flow. You don’t need to be a Hindu to get the vibe, and you will notice that once you discover the rhythm of Bali, anything is possible.
We love to meet kindred spirits who, like us, really care about this magical island, and truly believe that as a community we can make a difference. Indeed, that we should make a difference, by acting more sustainably, more responsibly, more respectfully, more communally. We love Bali and we want it to stay beautiful, it deserves it!
e r o l k l o F i l a B
n urban legend goes that a young prince and princess were deeply in love and engaged to be married. However, after becoming intimate with the princess, the prince suddenly decided to call off the engagement. He left the island, never to be heard of again. The princess was absolutely devastated and threw a curse upon the island, where unmarried couples who visited should depart and break up shortly after. This myth, ridiculous as it seems, still pervades the thoughts of those who are thinking about planning a getaway with their sweetheart to Bali. There are a few variations to this myth: 1. Some believe that only unchaste couples will suffer this curse, whereas those who respect traditional values such as sleeping in separate rooms, with no pre-marital intimacy, will escape unscathed. 2. Some believe that it is Tanah Lot Temple that is cursed, and not the whole of Bali. Couples, who watch the sunset together at Tanah Lot, reportedly also see the sun set on their relationship within 6 months. 3. Still others say that it is only couples who go alone who are affected, and those who travel with a group of friends and family go undetected by the curse. Countless people have come forward to tell the story of the demi-
se of their relationship after a trip to Bali. Horror stories claim of strong relationships that have collapsed, even after years of surviving long distance, and engagements that have fallen apart after a grand proposal at Bali. Still many others have claimed it is pure hogwash, giving more scientific or rational explanations for the cause of break-ups after a holiday. A trip together forces couples to be stuck to each other 24/7, and besides allowing couples to gaze at their significant other all the time, this also allows them to catch a glimpse of their sweetheartâ€™s less savoury quirks and habits. Bali is also a land that emphasises meditation, reflection and inner soul searching. Thinking deeply about what each person wants in the future may raise underlying issues that were always there but never brought up. Some couples may see that their future together is not for the best. This is sad, but if it is so, perhaps it is better to discover this earlier than later. What do you believe? Some couples, even those who do not fully believe in it, prefer to save Bali as a holiday destination to visit only when they are married, whereas other dating couples are still happy to go. Do you dare chance it yourself?
pelangkiran is a small wooden temple, usually suspended on the wall, for Hindus to pray and make offerings at, located in every room of one’s house. Pelangkiran, derived from the word “Langkir” means a place adored. But do you know the meaning and function of the pelangkiran? Based on the Lontar Aji Maya Sandhi story, when people are sleeping, Kanda Pat - a spirit from within comes out of the human body and wanders, sitting on the chest, abdomen, arms and so on, thus disturbing one’s sleep. Therefore there needs to be a pelangkiran to house this spirit which enables them to carry out their duties as a watchman. When implemented, people will sleep peacefully and soundly because they are being guarded from all forms of evil spirits. Pelangkirans have many functions depending on the location in the house. 1. For children from birth to 3 months, it is hung over the crib. It is Stana Sanghyang Kumara, son of Lord Shiva, assigned as protector of the baby. 2. In the kitchen, Stana of Lord Brahma, the creator. 3. For a well or tap water, to Lord Vishnu, preserver. 4. In a market, to Bhatari Dewa Ayu Melanting, goddess of economic activity. 5. In a shop or business premises, Stana to Bhatara Sri Sedana as the giver of prosperity to all people. 6. At the office, for Bhagawan Panyarikan or Saraswati, goddess of learning, knowlede and wisdom. Offerings are called banten in Bahasa Bali, meaning tribute, obligation or gift, possibly dervied from the word enten, which means to wake up or be conscious. Offerings are gifts. They are a means of giving something back. But of course, gifts obligate the recipient, and so the system creates mutual obligations and favours, even between humans and spirits. With offerings to the demons, however, the offeror does not expect a gift in return, just the favour that the demons will go away. Om Shanti Shanti Om
Masyarakat Gotong Royong Oleh Agung Desa Seni
Terik mentari tidak menyurutkan semangat dari sebuah team kecil, dimana mereka tetap tersenyum dalam kebersamaan.â€œ Gede Gede!! seru Made ke pada temannya, ya Made apa yang bisa saya bantu, sahut Gede ke pada made, kamu bias angkat linen yang kotor ini ke laundry!! Aku yang bersihkan lantai ini kata Made. Baik Made aku akan bawa linen tersebut. Begitulah percakapan kecil antara made dan gede dimana mereka selalu melakukan perkerjaan bersama dan saling bantu membantu. Mereka sudah lama berkerja di suatu perusahan dimana sifat bantu membantu dan gotong royong selalu merekan lakukan dan terapkan pada perkerjaan mereka sehari â€“ hari. Jika kita berbicara masalah gotong royong, mudah sekali kita menemukan budaya gotong royong tersebut dalam berbagai bentuk, di Bali khususnya budaya gotong royong sudah berakar di masyarakatnya. Mulai dari menanam padi, membangun rumah, melakukan kegiatan agama dan lain â€“ lain, budaya gotong royong merupakan juga ciri atau identitas masyarakat bali khususnya dan Indonesia pada umumnya. Oleh karena itu masyarakat Indonesia sangat menjaga budaya gotong royong tersebut hingga dapat di amalkan dalam kehidupan sehari â€“ hari. Gotong royong dalam bahasa jawa berarti
pikul atau angka, sedangkan royong berarti bersama â€“ sama, sehingga jika di artikan gotong royong berarti mengangkat bersama â€“ sama, gotong royong juga dapat di pahami pula sebagai bentuk kerjasama aktif setiap orang untuk ikut terlibat secara langsng dalam kegiatan yang positif dan konstruktif, dimana di dalamnya ada nilai â€“ nilai kebersamaan mental spiritual, penggabungan ketrampilan dan pemikiran atau nasihat yang sama yang dapat di pahami oleh masing â€“ masing orang. Kebersamaan yang timbul dalam gotong royong dapat melahirkan persatuan antar anggota masyarakat, dengan persatuan yang ada, masyarakat menjadi lebih kuat dan mampu mengahadapi permasalahan yang muncul. Gotong royong juga dapat mengajari orang untuk rela berkorban, dimana pengorbanan tersebut dapat berbentuk apapun, mulai dari waktu, tenaga pemikiran dan bahkan harta, semua pengorbanan tersebut di lakukan demi ke pentingan bersama, dimana tidak ada kepentingan individu, yang ada adalah kepentingan bersama. Nun jauh disana, di dalam lubuk hati masyarakat bali sudah tertanam sifat gotong royong yang mereka artikan juga suatu bentuk perilaku atau tindakan individu atau banyak orang tanpa mengharapkan balasan demi terwujudnya tujuan bersama adat istiadat
yang mereka pahami dan yang mereka yakini tersebut merupakan salah satu akar yang sangat kuat dan kental sekali azaz kebersamaan dan gotong royong, sehingga mereka dapat menjaga adat istiadat tersebut dengan baik dalam kehidupan sehari - hari mereka dalam bermasyarakat. Di jaman sekarng yang serba moderenisasi dimana kehidupan masyarakatnya cenderung individualis, gotong royong dapat membuat masyarakat kembali sadar jika dirinya adalah makhluk sosial yang dalam keseharianya harus bersosialisasi dan bergaul dengan masyarakat di sekitarnya. Bentuk gotong royong sangatlah masuk akal dan perlu kita tanamkan dan terapkan dalam keseharian kita atau melakukan pekerjaan kita sehari hari, dimana membutuhkan kerjasama yang kuat dalam membentuk team yang kuat demi terwujudnya tujuan bersama dan dapat menyelesaikan suatu permasalahan yang kita hadapi sekarang apakah kita mau dan setuju dengan kerjasama tersebut ini kembali lagi kepada individu masing â€“ masing dengan apa yang penulis sampaikan merupakan suatu harapan dimana dengan cara gotong royong itulah semua permasalahan yang kita hadapi bias kita selesaikan bersama demi tujuan bersama pula. Sekian dan trimakasih
CEREMONY BITS A symbol is something that represents something else. Balinese culture is very rich in symbolism. It seems that everything is symbolic and that even the symbols are symbolic. There are numerous examples. Sounds tend to represent different names for God. The most famous is OM, which represents Brahma or Sanghyang Widi Wasa or God. You will often hear priests intone this sound. The sound is made up of the letters which symbolize the Trinity, which is Brahma, the Creator, who is symbolized by the letter A, Wisnu, the Preserver of Life, who is symbolized by the letter U and Shiva the Destroyer, who is symbolized by the letter M. This spells AUM or OM. OM is the most important sound in Bail and starts every stanza of every mantra and prayer. The swastika represents the energy of the universe in the form of rotation. The four ends of the swastika plus the center represent the nine manifestations of God, as symbolized in the compass. The Nazi swastika rotates counter-clockwise, whilst the Hindu swastika rotates clockwise. Mountains symbolize the dwelling places of the gods. They also climb towards the sky. Temples, in their three divisions, symbolize the underworld of evil spirits, man and God, each courtyard being reached by a flight of steps, each set higher than
the previous one. Rice is symbolic of life. After praying in the temple, the priest gives the worshipers some grains of wet rice to press against their foreheads, temples, throats and to eat. Water cleans symbolically. Holy water is sprinkled on everything. It purifies. Holy water is used so extensively that Bali-Hinduism is called the holy water religion. Water has always been significant in Hindu culture. The king’s association with water and rainfall is a manifestation of both his power and his purity. In the Balinese dialect, umbrellas are known as ‘tedung’, which literally means ‘to guard’. The umbrellas are used in ceremonial parades and positioned around the compounds in alignment to various shrines that are orientated towards the sacred mountain of Gunung Agung. The colour of the umbrella normally reflects the type of ceremony that is taking place. Pure shades of white and yellow symbolize dedication to the Hindu religion and the different manifestations of God. Incense is used to purify and cleanse the body. “Rawabhineda” Poleng fabric, the black and white checkered fabric used everywhere reflects the second nature in nature opposites such as good-bad, highlow and dark-light. Men wear a headdress called an udeng.
It is symbolic of the Ulu Candra, which is a symbolic Balinese letter. The front winglike vertical appendage, called jambul, symbolizes Shiva. It is also a symbol for the male lingga. The lingga is itself symbolic of Shiva. The part wrapped around the head is like a half-moon or sun, the symbol of Brahma. Canang Sari is one of the daily offerings made by Balinese Hindus to thank the Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa in praise and prayer. Canang sari will be seen in the Balinese temples (pura), on small shrines in houses and on the ground or as a part of a larger offering. Tri Datu means “The three colours”: red, white and black, each colour having its individual owner from one of the manifestations of the godhead - Brahma (the creator), Wisnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer). Balinese attach the threads to their bodies, around the right wrist - a red thread, around the ankle - a black, and attached to the ear - the white. The use of the Tri Datu is to calm the mind so that it won’t be influenced by negative thoughts. The threads can also be wound together around the right wrist or placed on the crown of the head. No matter how the Tri Datu is worn, the threads are placed with prayers to endow the recipient with power, strength and longevity.
Indonesian Contemporary art is...... By Adrian Vickers
Are Indonesian artists political, commercial, abstract, traditional, conservative, contemporary, provocative, local or global? Contemporary art is… changing. Indonesian art of the twentieth century used to be political, but commercial factors are becoming increasingly important. During the repressive Suharto era (1965–1998), artists rebelled against the regime, creating satirical and ironic works. The time under Suharto was explosive. Indonesia was vulnerable to instability and fragmentation. To his credit, states The New York Times, Suharto achieved stability and economic growth, but these gains were overshadowed by intense corruption and a repressive militaristic state, Contemporary art is… abstract. and “a convulsion of mass bloodletting.” Despite the repression, many rebellious artists could be found working in a highly charged political and dangerous climate.
Their anti-regime art should also be seen as following the modernist trajectory, where the avant-garde overthrows the art establishment. In the 21st century, radical politics are not the only driving force for the country’s artists: religion, ethnic identity and economics are also helping to define today’s contemporary art scene. Abstract art was quite mainstream during the latter part of the twentieth century, as seen in the Bandung school based around the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). Abstract art was “promoted by the United States as part of the Cold War struggle against leftist realism, once a hallmark of Yogyakarta’s art school (now Institut Seni Indonesia, ISI).” North America used abstract art and artists in a cultural Cold War as various news agencies have reported. Abstract expressionism was promoted to the world through its various American embassies to show that American artists had absolute freedom and creativity, and by extension, how the United States was a great cultural power, says arts and politics website, The Clyde Fitch Report. This led to abstract art gaining a firm hold in Indonesia. The two artistic rival cities, Bandung and Yogyakarta, were notable for their abstract art. Although both worked with abstraction, the relative differences between the schools have today made Indonesia’s art scene vibrant, according to The Jakarta Globe: Bandung art schools’ allegiance to formalism produces works that focus on forms, lines, shape, volume and color, … Art in Bandung,… is produced for art’s sake. While in schools in Yogyakarta, art explores ideology, politics and the social, grounded in a sense of realism. Contemporary art is… local. Besides national art, anti-regime art and
abstract expressionism, there is also regional art in locations such as Bali and Ubud, inspired by its local traditions. Bali is the most famous for its localized art and its use of Wayang traditional painting, which was seen as modern in the 1930s but is now seen as tourist art. The difference between folk art and high art in the contemporary art scene could be labeled as touristy folk art, but it also plays an important role in the contemporary scene. Indonesian traditional art includes performance, carving, weaving, batik, and the shadow puppets, which some claim as being ethnic art. Islamic imagery also plays a role in Indonesia’s art scene Contemporary art is… not a man’s game. In 1991, when British-born Mary Northmore, newly married to Indonesian painter Abdul Aziz and living in Bali, realized that the Indonesian art scene had no women in it she decided to establish the Seniwati Art Space, which showcases art by female artists. Several women artists in Indonesia challenge male dominance of the arts. These female pioneers include Nyoman Sani, who runs Northmore’s Seniwati Art Collective, and ceramic artist Titirubi, who creates sculptures, installation, performance art, happenings, and paintings with themes of identity, gender, and colonialism. Contemporary art is… a private affair. Lack of public institutions, collections and support is a large issue affecting artists in Indonesia. With only a few art institutes, such as ITB (Bandung), ISI (Yogyakarta) and IKJ (Jakarta) focusing on training, artists need to seek financial support elsewhere. Without a national art collection, it is up to the private collector to support Indonesia’s art. As a result, many artworks disappear from view, only to be seen “reproduced in the expensive display books that private col-
lectors sponsor.” Contemporary art is… a sell-out? Due to lack of governmental support and the rise of private sponsorship, Indonesia’s contemporary art is becoming “highly-commercialised, where, with some notable exceptions, collectors act as a conservative force, steering the work of artists in the direction of paintings, particularly large and vibrantly coloured works.” Many Indonesian artists have benefited form this commercial upswing in the national art scene. The Telegraph notes that Nyoman Masriadi’s art is highly sought at auctions in Asia, and one of his paintings, valued at USD 13,000, sold for USD 130,000 in 2007. Contemporary art is… going global. Artist collective Punkasila is an example of how artists producing local artisan work can easily catapult to the global stage of art biennials. Punkasila’s founder, Australian Danius Kesminas frequently involves artisans, such as the painters of Jelekong, to create works for the group. The collectives punk band includes members who studied at the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) in Yogyakarta. Their hand-crafted mahogany guitars look like M-16s, AK-47s and other weapons while their outfits of hand-painted batik are also made to look like military camouflage fatigues. In Punkasila, art is simultaneously localized and globalised. Projects such as Punkasila signal how easily artists move from village-based locales to international biennales and triennials. These movements are stimulated by the increasingly close collaborations between Indonesians and their Southeast Asian contemporaries. Indonesia’s contemporary art scene cannot be reduced to a single trend, but its current diversity reveals undiminished creativity.
The Art of Awareness In the worlds of yoga, wellness, and spirituality, we quite often (understatement!) use the terms awareness and mindfulness both in practice as instruction or in casual conversation about yoga, meditation and the like. We talk about bringing our attention to this body part or that chakra, and about being mindful of our breath and posture, amongst other things. But lets take these concepts and practices a little further, off the mat, and into our daily lives. The awareness and mindfulness that we refer to in yoga is the perfect addition to a balanced and healthy lifestyle. If we can bring more attention and awareness to other aspects of our life, then the practice of yoga has achieved a big part of its goal. How aware are we really? How much attention and thoughtfulness (synonyms of awareness and mindfulness) do we bring to what we say and how we say it? Do we choose our words, or do we just say what first comes to mind? Do we think about how what we say affects or impacts those who hear it? Simply paying closer attention to what we say, whom we say it to you, and how we convey the message can generate so much good, compassion, and empathy. Some say, “Actions speak louder than words.” Are we aware of how our actions affect those around us? How mindful are we of the effects of what we do? This relates to both those around us and ourselves. Our actions affect our own well being. Our state of happiness is affected by what we do and how we think. Our behaviour, whether good or bad, thoughtful or selfish, without exception affects those around us and we need to be aware and mindful of this always. Bring that attention even closer - do we think about what we eat, or when, or how much? Are we mindful of the effects of what we put into our bodies? And as we are not just our mechanical bodies, we must also bring that awareness and mindfulness to our thoughts. Have you noticed your perspective lately? Is it skewed towards the positive or negative? Do you think this skew can affect your happiness and well being? We focus on mindfulness and awareness for the 90 minutes that we are in class, but we need to bring that consideration and reflection to the things we say, what we eat, how we behave, the practices we choose, how we play, the things we read, the organizations that we support, the things we give, the thoughts we focus on, the things we look at, the places we go, … so much in life is a choice and we must choose to be aware and mindful, thoughtful, and attentive, of everything that we do.
“If you are too interested in the result, the ultimate result– that you have to become famous, that you have to be the best painter in the world, that you have to defeat all other painters hitherto– then your interest is not in painting; painting is secondary. And of course, with a secondary interest in painting you can’t paint something original; it will be ordinary. Ego cannot bring anything extraordinary into the world; the extraordinary comes only through egolessness. And so is the case with the musician and the dancer. So is the case with everybody. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says: Don’t think of the result at all. It is a message of tremendous beauty and significance and truth. Don’t think of the result at all. Just do what you are doing with your totality. Get lost in it, lose the doer in the doing. Don’t “be”– let your creative energies flow unhindered. That’s why he said to Arjuna: “Don’t escape from the war… because I can see this escape is just an ego trip. The way you are talking simply shows that you are calculating, you are thinking that by escaping from the war you will become a great saint. Rather than surrendering to the whole, you are taking yourself too seriously– as if there will be no war if you are not there.” Krishna says to Arjuna, “Just be in a state of let-go. Say to existence, ‘Use me in whatever way you want to use me. I am available, unconditionally available.’ Then whatsoever happens through you will have a great authenticity about it. It will have intensity, it will have depth. It will have the impact of the eternal on it.” Osho
Percaya = Trust “The dictionary defines trust as being able to rely on others - their actions, abilities and character. When you trust, you are placing yourself in someone else’s hands. You are vulnerable, often emotionally as much as physically. Nothing stings quite so much as feeling someone has betrayed your trust. On the other hand nothing unites people - in marriage, friendship, teamwork - as much as trust.
Tell the Truth This is harder than it sounds. Most of us like to think of ourselves as truth-tellers. But it’s easy to round the numbers up, spin the facts, or conveniently leave out the evidence that doesn’t support our position. Keep Your Word This is where it starts. People have to learn that they can count on you to deliver on your promises. Be There People may not need you every moment, but when they do, they need all of you. Choose Your Attitude How do you respond? How do you deal with disagreements? Make Their Day Notice people for who they are and thank them for what they do. Ask people what they think and really listen to their ideas. Encourage people. Play It’s impossible to have a playful, enthusiastic culture without trust. Be Transparent People will not trust you unless you learn to share yourself, warts and all. Give Without Any Strings Attached Nothing builds trust like love.
Freedom We make countless decisions every day. Or at least we think we do. We behave in a certain way and we have our specific belief systems. We seem to choose what we do and how we feel; that we have choice over our actions and feelings. This choice comes from our thoughts and our minds. But are we really aware of our thoughts and of how our minds are operating? Are we really making those daily decisions or are we simply repeating patterns, listening to unhealthy cravings, running from things we dislike, towards those that we desire? When we become aware of our thoughts, we have more control of where they lead us and how they make us feel; we can create more positive realities for ourselves. By being aware of our thoughts we are able to operate from a place of gratitude rather than materialism; a place of freedom rather than fear. This is where the question of choice really comes into play in the most significant way. Of our countless thoughts, which ones are we going to focus on and pay attention to? Which ones are we going to choose? Which of my non-stop thoughts are healthy and serve me; which ones are based on old patterns and conditioning? Having recently attended a freestyle Vipassana retreat while becoming a non-smoker, I am experiencing this freedom of choice, with a new awareness of my thoughts. It is a choice, every minute of every day to think about cigarettes or NOT to, in exactly the same way as itâ€™s a choice to NOT mindlessly turn on the TV as soon as I walk in the door. By being aware of my thoughts I am actually making choices rather than operating on autopilot. I can see it so clearly with the cigarettes â€“ the automatic mindless ones when picking up the phone or getting in the car. An awareness of thought helps us to actually make those countless decisions every day, rather than just seeming to. This is where we truly have freedom. But how do we get there? How do I do this? It sounds easy: be aware of your thoughts - and it really is simple: meditate. The eyes closed practice allows us to see much more clearly when our eyes are open.
courage Life is about trying....we cannot always wait for the perfect time - sometimes we must dare to jump. We must have the courage to take chances and to initiate change. By making changes in our lives we are creating the opportunity for new doors to open and the possibility of a better situation. But it all starts with courage. Courage is needed to stand up for what we believe in and to do the right thing, no matter how hard it might be. Courage can be needed for integrity - to embody the quality of being honest and morally upright. Courage can be necessary in order to speak your truth and be honest about what you are feeling. It can be difficult to step out of our comfort zone and experience new things and for this too courage is needed. In Bahasa Indonesian it is called keberanian, and so often you here people saying: “tidak berani” meaning...i’m not courageous! But think about it...what’s going to happen if you try? Generally the consequences are not so bad. There is the possibility that you might fail but there is nothing wrong with that. By trying and failing, we learn how to do it better or what not to do next time. This is how we learn. As Winston Churchill aptly put it: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” By being courageous and trying something new, we are able to broaden our horizons and experiences. It will take courage to step out of your comfort zone but as the expression goes...this is where the magic happens.
It's your time
Everything that happens in your life - what you’re thrilled with and what you’re challenged by - began with a decision. Your life is the outcome of the decisions you’ve made and the actions you’ve taken as a result of those decisions. Different decisions produce different results. If you want to control the direction of your life, you must consistently make good decisions. It’s not what you do once in a while that has an impact on the direction of your life - it’s what you do consistently. Make decisions today about how you are going to live in the years to come. For your decisions to really make a difference in your life it’s imperative to decide what results you’re committed to - and know specifically how these results will transform your life. It’s equally critical to decide what kind of person you’re committed to becoming. Get clear about what you want to be, do and have, and what your life will be like after you accomplish this. With that clarity, you’ll find it becomes easier to make the kinds of decisions that will move you in the direction you desire. What are your standards? What will you demand from life? Decide today if you’ll accept life as it is or if you’ll live your life on your own terms, at the edge and at the highest level.
There are People Next to You... By Brad Korpalski
Perhaps this is a familiar image: a family of 4 at a restaurant, the two children locked on screens, ear buds firmly blocking out any distraction— you know, like mom and dad asking a question (though it’s likely mom and dad are scrolling as well), as surely an important email beckons. It’s irrelevant which part of the world you reside in, the scene is ubiquitous, occurring inside cars, homes, on vacation, in the park; a malady without discrimination. Futurists (whom I’ll conservatively define as people who lean on the side of technology) contend that the inclusion of gadgetry in our lives is a mechanism of universal connection and access to information: an unquestionable value to humanity and that bland epithet— progress. Namely, because I can say what’s up on WhatsApp regardless of our place in the world, or given the instantaneous knowledge of water crises in Mumbai or dolphin exploitation in Indonesia (and the ability to opine on such matters), I am somehow enriched. Yet, narrowing in on the tangible data of such a position, the details tell a different story. Close family and friends not interacting with one another in the physical, material world of our everyday, while locked-in on the tweets, grams, games, and newsfeed of our LCD reality is a symptom that we must consider. As a parent of two, small, burgeoning persons, I feel this sickness (sadness, really) when I deny them their right to me, and my loving attention, in lieu of some impossibly trivial screen-based distraction. If I catch myself, these moments of recognition come off as warning pangs, and I shudder at what I almost missed. We might choose to see technology as a sign of progress, evidence of our evolution-
ary path out of the confines of our biology, a path to which we must race forward/down into the great ether of tomorrow. It’s more likely (as with almost everything in the world we live in), that a measure of balance is required. We must ask: what are we losing within this “progress”? Are our electronic (and impersonal) platforms for communing simply poor replacements for the connection to each other (and place) that we require at our deepest core? Community used to be a tangible reality, traceable to place; be it the campfire, park bench, front porch, or corner stores of yesteryear. Now community primarily exists in a globalized fashion, a faceless realm where I’m free to comment how and when I choose, but where I’m never really seen or heard for who I really am. While our attraction to practices like yoga asana help remind us that we are beings greater than the economic consumers of reductive advertising rhetoric, what do we have to remind us of our placement within the world itself as indigenous, dependent, communal beings? How do we reclaim our capacity for intimate connection with one another? Or do we just bid it all adieu for a virtual reality where we can algorithm the desired outcomes of our fantasies and disregard real people, real places, real reality? We live within an interesting time, as the fact that this question can be asked—the testament. It’s on us. All of us. As a closing exercise, walk with me down this path. You’re on your deathbed. Your last breath is imminent. By a stroke of good fortune, you are granted a moment of clarity to trace the path of your earthly existence. What will stand out? What will draw a smile onto your lips? What will endure?
What is a spiritual goal on your bucket list? By Carmela
Currently I feel like I’m equally knee-deep in motherhood as I am head-high-in-theclouds yearning for spiritually enlightening experiences. My daily mothering practice looks like this (take a deep breath to read it super fast): 6 kilos of groceries to buy, carry, and put away, 3 nutritious meals to prepare, serve, and carefully cut up (only to find it all on the floor), 1 dishwasher to unload before I can load it with double its capacity, 2 trash bags to take out, 60 nails to cut, 48 teeth to brush, 6 ears to clean, diapers to change, outfits and heads to brush, 3 seatbelts to click, 31 items of laundry to hang and leave out in the rain, 3 storytime books to read, a sticky floor to wash, bath to draw, a minimum of 4 big arguments to have over the tiniest of shit, 4 apologetic hugs to give, industrial mess of toys to put away, Legos to get out of vacuum cleaner, toothpaste tubes out of the toilet, hair dresser/vaccinations/dentist appointments/parent-teacher conferences to book and remember to show up for (on time and preferably dressed)…” My spiritual bucket list includes dancing at a cacao ceremony, learning to give ‘astrological/iridology/ hand/ healing/Goddess tarot card/ insert anything’ readings, studying massage, breathwork, Chinese medicinal herbs, dried flower arrangements,
riding a motorcycle through Mongolia wearing a Native American feathered hat, studying with a shaman in New Mexico, doing a yin yoga teacher residency in Ubud, Ayahuasca in Peru, Ayurveda in India, walking El Camino de Santiago, living in Buddhist monastery in Thailand ... Sharing life with small humans is an easy excuse to temporarily postpone deeper yearnings. And the danger is that the temporary can last a very long time. And that long time is what future generations grow up seeing and learning from us.
A pledge for the yoga community This pledge calls on yoga teachers and leaders of spiritual communities to create safe and welcoming environments in which all practitioners can investigate their unique life circumstances with care and support. Yoga teachers and spiritual leaders are coming together to proclaim—without any reservation or hesitation—that we do not tolerate sexual abuse, sexual harassment, psychological manipulation, or the deliberate misuse of power. Those who stand behind this pledge offer their support to any victims of abuse and join a community of people striving to embody the ethical foundations of yoga. In accordance with satya, the virtue of truthfulness, we pledge to promote the following: • Safety for everyone in a spiritual community. Yoga teachers must create and uphold healthy, secure boundaries that prioritize practitioners’ well-being • Sexual harassment policies must be established and strictly upheld at all times. • Yoga studios, yoga schools, and spiritual communities must consider and investigate any and all complaints of sexual harassment and teacher misconduct as serious violations of trust, security, yoga tenets/ethics, and local laws. • Sexual harassment must be openly discussed and integrated into spiritual communities in conscious, thoughtful ways intended to educate and empower individuals and groups. • Sexual harassment training is critical and must be incorporated into yoga teacher training curricula. Liberation begins with cultivating awareness. We can only move forward when issues of sexual harassment and abuse are allowed to be heard. We should strive to create environments that are grounded in deep trust. Teachers should empower students to incorporate sound judgment and clear communication as essential components of their practice. When victims of abuse and mistreatment speak up, they need to know that they will be heard and action will be taken.
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Desa Seni & Community. Our aim is to bring focus to like minded organisations, people, practices, organic, health-yoga oriented, art-culture...
Published on Dec 29, 2017
Desa Seni & Community. Our aim is to bring focus to like minded organisations, people, practices, organic, health-yoga oriented, art-culture...