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What does October bring? For me it is always a time of looking forward, anticipation, of gratitude for what has passed. It is also the fall of the blossoming, growing and becoming and the moving into the seed, the dormant, the potential. Basically, winter is coming.

The environmental movement seems to also be moving into its fall and winter. We need to find the most probable ways to change and grow up in order to save our place on the planet, and soon. We need to stop looking outside of ourselves and start looking inward. Thích Nhất Hạnh’s book, The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology provides us with a road map of how we can do this. It is only through a profound personal transformation that we will have the ability to address the present environmental crisis we all face. It is inside, where we find our spiritual practice, that the map leads us.

We are like sleepwalkers, not knowing what we are doing or where we are heading. Whether we can wake up or not depends on whether we can walk mindfully on our Mother Earth. [...] We need a kind of collective awakening. There are among us men and women who are awakened, but it’s not enough; the masses are still sleeping. They cannot hear the ringing of the bells. We have built a system we cannot control. This system imposes itself on us, and we have become its slaves and victims. Most of us, in order to have a house, a car, a refrigerator, a TV, and so on, must sacrifice our time and our lives in exchange. We are constantly under the pressure of time. In former times, we could afford three hours for one cup of tea, enjoying the company of our friends in a serene and spiritual atmosphere. We could organize a party to celebrate the blossoming of one orchid in our garden. But today we can no longer afford these things. We say that time is money. We have created a society in which the rich become richer and the poor become poorer, and in which we are so caught up in our own immediate problems that we cannot afford to be aware of what is going on with the rest of the human family or our planet Earth. In my mind I see a group of chickens in a cage disputing over some seeds of grain, unaware that in a few hours they will be killed.

He points out that the American dream where everyone has to have a car of their own, a bank account, a cell phone, a television set, is not possible any longer, not even for the Americans who devised it. A sustainable economy was not created yet we all cling to this dream, depend on it, and believe it to be true. So how do we now become to see ourselves in another ‘reality?’

We have to have another dream: the dream of brotherhood and sisterhood, of loving-kindness and compassion and that dream is possible right here and now. We have the dharma; we have the means; we have enough wisdom to be able to live this dream. Mindfulness is at the heart of awakening, of enlightenment. We practice breathing to be able to be there in the present moment, so that we can recognize what is happening in us and around us.

The important thing is that we all act. The individual has to take action in their own life, we can’t wait any longer for the petitions, the politicians and the scientists to save the world. That is all looking outwards anyways. Violence, corruption, abuse of power, self-destruction, superstition and cruelty are just the outer reflection of what is happening within us when we are unaware and asleep. It is cultivating faith, determination, awakening and a big dream that can lead us to peace and hope. We have to learn to live with responsibility, compassion and loving kindness and to remember we each hold the power to decide the destiny of our planet. This means doing the inner work first, to awaken to our true situation, to initiate a collective change in our consciousness. To help people wake up to the fact that they are living in a dream. No one life is independent of all other life, each depends on the other in order to manifest and continue. We are outside each other at the same time as we are inside each other, in other words we are connected, whether we are comfortable with that or not yet, it is the truth.

Earth Holder is the energy that is holding us together as an organism. She is a kind of engineer or architect whose task is to create space for us to live in, to build bridges for us to cross from one side to the other, to construct roads so that we can to go to the people we love. Her task is to further communication between human beings and other species and to protect the Earth and the environment. [...] When you contemplate an orange, you see that everything in the orange participates in making up the orange. Not only the sections of the orange belong to the orange; the skin and the seeds of the orange are also parts of the orange. This is what we call the universal aspect of the orange. Everything in the orange is the orange, but the skin remains the skin, the seed remains the seed, the section of the orange remains the section of the orange. The same is true with our globe. Although we become a world community, the French continue to be French, the Japanese remain Japanese, the Buddhists remain Buddhists, and the Christians remain Christians. The skin of the orange continues to be the skin, and the sections in the orange continue to be the sections; the sections do not have to be transformed into the skin in order for there to be harmony.

Thích Nhất Hạnh suggests we follow the Five Mindfulness Trainings. Since they are non-sectarian and universal, they can be practiced regardless of religion, culture or ideology. They are one way to start the path of inner transformation and healing.

  • First Training: we vow to cherish all life on earth and not support any acts of killing.
  • Second Training: we pledge to practice generosity and not support social injustice and oppression.
  • Third Training: we make a commitment to behave responsibly in our relationships and not engage in sexual misconduct.
  • Fourth Training: we practice loving speech and deep listening in order to relieve others of suffering.
  • Fifth Mindfulness Training: Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I vow to ingest only items that preserve peace, well being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body and my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and the transformation of society.

The last training holds the key to the way out of the environmental crisis we are in according to Hạnh, by recognizing what to consume and what to refuse in order to propagate health in our own body and for the Earth and to reduce suffering for ourselves and others. I do hope we find a way to make wine and cheese that is mindful. I don’t feel we have to become a Buddhist monk to become an aware cultivator of a healthy planet. Yet we do need to all become environmentalists and to see that we are one family, all children of this planet and that we need to take care of each other and the Earth.

Love Letter to the Earth by Thich Nhat Hanh

~

Do you want to Quant it?

This new take on the electric car by the German company Quant runs on an electrolyte flow cell power system developed by NanoFlowcell. It can generate 920 horsepower, pop 0-62 mph in 2.8 seconds and whiz along the autobahn at 217.5 mph!

The flow cell battery is a beacon of hope because it is an especially simple and effective storage medium for electrical energy. Flow cells are chemical batteries that combine aspects of an electrochemical accumulator cell with those of a fuel cell. Liquid electrolytes circulate through two separate cells in which a “cold burning” takes place, during which oxidation and reduction processes happen in parallel and thereby produce electrical power for the drive train.

The flow cell battery offers up a greater range than lead-acid batteries or lithium-ion batteries found in current electric cars. The recharge can also be much faster. “All that is required to recharge them is to exchange spent electrolytes (which can be recharged outside the vehicle) for new, charged fluid.”

The car, which in the video looks like something only Batman is allowed to drive, debuted at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, is now approved for testing on public roads in Germany and Europe and will cost you $1.7 million to get on the delivery list. I am wondering how long it will be before a sustainable, electric car affordable to the masses will become available. A few dudes roaming the highways in tuxes is not enough to save the planet from the groan of fossil fuel usage by gas powered vehicles.

Everyone I talk to who just bought a new car decided going electric was still too expensive. The other sexy car maker, Tesla, also started out at the luxery level. Currently, their cheapest electrically powered car is the Model S which retails for around $70,000 and a proposed model for 2015-17 is estimated to cost $35,000. The Nissan Versa 1.6 S, a gas powered car, by contrast costs only $12,800. Infrastructure will still be an issue as well, for both salt water and electric fill ups. Anyone living in a city condo or apartment can’t go electric even if they could afford to since they can’t recharge their cars in the evenings if they have to park on the street. So for now, driving without polluting is only a rich person’s game and best left to the sexiest among us.

Happy October !

T. Dylan Moore illustration

There is a good kind of waiting which trust the agents of fermentation. There is a waiting which knows that in pulling away one can more wholly return. There is a waiting which prepares oneself, which anoints and adorns and makes oneself plump with readiness for love’s return. There is a good kind of waiting which doesn’t put oneself on hold but rather adds layer to the grandness of one’s being worthy. This sweet waiting for one’s fruits to ripen doesn’t stumble over itself to be the first to give but waits for the giving to issue at its own graceful pace.

2014 © Toko-pa Turner. Illustration by T. Dylan Moore.

~

Screen shot 2014-07-17 at 9.48.19 PM

The Renaissance of Homeopathy

I would think that any art so young would have its ups and downs as it matured and developed. Some of the principles of homeopathy have been around for a very long time however and now that science has started to glimpse an understanding of the immaterial universe, so too can the mystery of homeopathy start to gain acceptance.

This article written by Judyann McNamara, posted on June 19, 2014, explores the current resurgence of homeopathy.

“Today, homeopathy is the most widely used form of alternative medicine in the world, supported by the World Health Organization (1), which claims that approximately 500 million people worldwide receive homeopathic treatment. In 2004, the WHO submitted “Homoeopathy: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials”, maintaining that the majority of peer-reviewed scientific papers published over the past 40 years have demonstrated that homeopathy is equivalent to conventional medicines in the treatment of illnesses, in both humans and animals. …”

Homeopathy is poised for new growth from a strong foundation

Homeopathy is poised for new growth from a strong foundation

Ever feel like you are alone, on a desert island to fend for yourself. It is never actually true if you count all lifeforms and not just human companionship. Your body is made up of around ten trillion cells, but you harbour a hundred trillion bacteria. For every gene in your genome, there are 100 bacterial ones. Therefore the total number of genes associated with these other creatures exceeds the total number of human genes by a factor of 100 to one.  We are mini ecosystems teaming with other organisms. “We are in essence only ten percent human – the rest is pure microbe,” claims Dr Sleator, a Cork Institute of Technology lecturer who has studied human microbial populations. 

Graph of human and microbiome

 

The human microbiome is the official name for the population of more than 100 trillion bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that live in our gut, mouth, skin and elsewhere in our bodies. These microbial communities have numerous beneficial functions relevant to supporting life. They are needed to digest food, to prevent disease-causing bacteria from invading the body, and to synthesize essential nutrients and vitamins. What we do, in turn, affects them. Everything from the food we eat to the way we’re born influences the species of bacteria that take up residence in our bodies. With the advancement of genomic technologies, the capacity of this “second genome” to influence health can now be harnessed as a function of the whole community rather than as isolated bacterial species. Some scientists are even referring to a human and their inner community as one human-bacteria-super-organism.

Dr. Martin Blaser is the director of NYU’s Human Microbiome Program and their former chairman of medicine. He is an expert on the human microbiome and has written Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern PlaguesThere are many theories why food allergies, asthma, celiac disease and intestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease have been on the rise in the past couple of decades. Blaser speculates that it may be connected to the overuse of antibiotics as well as modern day birth practices that are killing the healthy strains of bacteria that typically live in the gut.

Martin_Blaser_working_in_his_lab_at_the_NYU_Langone_Medical_Center

Martin J. Blaser, MD, in his lab at NYU Langone Medical Center with Xuesong Zhang, PhD. Photo by Carl Glenn

“Since World War II, we’ve seen big rises in a number of diseases: asthma, allergies, food allergies, wheat allergy, juvenile diabetes, obesity. … These are all diseases that have gone up dramatically in the last 50 or 70 years. One of the questions is: Why are they going up? Are they going up for 10 different reasons, or perhaps there is one reason that is fueling all of them.

My theory is that the one reason is the changing microbiome; that we evolved a certain stable situation with our microbiome and with the modern advances of modern life, including modern medical practices, we have been disrupting the microbiome. And there’s evidence for that, especially early in life, and it’s changing how our children develop.”

He suggests there is a choreography going on inside us during the first few years of life that is important for the rest of one’s lifespan. Nature’s great purpose is to evolve to maximize health and create new generations and it is pretty good at it. Modern medical and scientific practices have started to disrupt that great work. One of the main changes is the very process of birth. Inside the body a baby is sterile, protected from the world beyond it’s mother’s womb and what is transferred through the umbilical cord. When the membranes rupture and the water breaks, the baby has to journey from inside the mother’s body to the outside world. And that is the first exposure to the bacteria of the world, the microbes lining the mother’s vagina, the bacteria in the birth canal. As a baby is born those microbes are ingested and and absorbed.

Mammals have been able to transfer the microbiome to their offspring that way for 150 million years. Blaser believes that when children are born by cesarian section, this natural transfer does not happen. “You could project that if they didn’t acquire these organisms or they didn’t acquire them normally or at the normal time, then the foundations might be a little shaky.” More and more epidemiologic studies are trying to determine if there are long-term health consequences of C-section births. As well there is the increased use of antibiotics. It has long been known in the alternative health fields that taking probiotics after antibiotics can help restore the microbes that are lost during the course of medical intervention. According to Blaser there are many types of probiotics available and that although they are currently unregulated and untested, they are generally safe to take and that it is better to take them than not to. “Right now, it’s the Wild West. I’m actually a big believer in probiotics; I think that’s going to be part of the future of medicine, that we’re going to understand the science of the microbiome well enough so that we can look at a sample from a child and say this child is lacking such-and-such an organism and now we’re going to take it off the shelf and we’re going to give it back to that child. … Just as today the kids are lining up for the vaccines, in the future, maybe the kids are going to be drinking certain organisms so that we can replace the ones that they’ve lost.”

If we don’t develop this theory and integrate it into our medical practices, we could lose the microbes we need to function as healthy humans forever.

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Based on the article by Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross.

Flexibility is power

I had this imagination a couple years ago, maybe three or four. It is obvious wind travels down streets lined with skyscrapers faster than it does elsewhere, so the best place to harness wind in an urban environment? On the side of buildings of course. And how to do it? By attaching millions of flexible rods along the sides of the skyscrapers that would bend in the wind the way cilia bend along our respiratory epithelium in the lungs. They could be about two feet long and collect their kinetic energy throughout the day to generate a building’s power needs. Being so far off the ground they would not interfere with traffic or pedestrians.

Belatchew Arkitekter did just this with their Strawscraper, an extenstion of the building Söder Torn on Södermalm in Stockholm, Sweden. “With its new energy producing shell covered in straws the building can now recover wind energy and thus works as an urban powerplant.”

belatchew_arkitekter_strawscraper-1The straws of the facade consist of a composite material using piezoelectric technology that can turn motion into electrical energy. Piezoelectricity is created when the deformation of certain crystals is transformed into electricity. The large number of thin straws produce electricity through only small movements caused by the wind. Or on some days, a light breeze since they are so sensitive. Because it is a facade, it can be applied to new as well as old buildings. It is advantageous to other power generation methods since it is quiet, unlike current wind turbine technologies, and does not disturb or cause harm to birds and other wildlife. Check out their video and you can see how the building comes to life with the movement of the straws.

belatchew_arkitekter_strawscraper-4The energy revolution is in full swing and as consumers, we need to start demanding it. Green, renewable, sustainable and affordable, nothing can stop our dreams.

 

 

What matters in attachments

I just finished reading Hold on to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté. An excellent book for anyone, not just parents, since we are all children on the path to maturity that depends on relationships to others and ourselves.

The premise of the book is based on the theory of attachment and how children are no longer orienting to parents and adults but are becoming peer orientated, looking for a sense of right and wrong, values, identity and codes of behaviour in each other. Children emulating children when they need to learn how to mature, develop and individuate from adults that have, or may not have fully succeeded yet, in this lofty task. This terribly misunderstood phenomenon has the disturbing effect of undermining family cohesion and developing an aggressively hostile and sexualized youth culture that is sailing forth without a compass that knows the way.

Basically, to orientate to a peer is to live in a permanent anxiety of needs essential to individuate and mature not being met. “Can I depend on this person? Can this relationship offer me unconditional, loving acceptance? Can I trust in this person’s direction and guidance? Am I invited to exist as I am and to express myself authentically?” With parents, most of the time anyways, these questions are irrelevant, they love their kids unconditionally and only want what is best for them.

“The love, attention, and security only adults can offer liberates children from the need to make themselves invulnerable and restores to them that potential for life and adventure that can never come from risky activities, extreme sports, or drugs. Without that safety our children are forced to sacrifice their capacity to grow and mature psychologically, to enter into meaningful relationships, and to pursue their deepest and most powerful urges for self-expression. In the final analysis, the flight from vulnerability is a flight from the self. If we do not hold our children close to us, the ultimate cost is the loss of their ability to hold on to their own truest selves.”

 Website: www.todoratanasov.blogspot.com

Image: Protection by nocameraz~Todor Atanasov

That is a mission to embrace for any parent! Children need to experience emotions of sadness, fear, loss, and rejection and yet when they become peer oriented they will hide these feelings in order to avoid exposing themselves to ridicule and attack. When this becomes their only experience they can develop emotional hardening, an invulnerability, and it is not an armour that one can remove and replace at will, it becomes a permanent condition. Their self-assurance and confidence is mistaken for what is genuine self-confidence, it is really their inability to be vulnerable and to develop an intimate attachment with another human being. The reason for this is that the wounds are too hurtful to feel, too overwhelming to bear, so they shut parts away, turn off what their undeveloped minds cannot fathom.

Peer relationships are inherently insecure and are not based on unconditional acceptance and they can have devastating long-term effects on a child’s development. The child protects itself from the stark reality of peers offering an insecure attachment. What if I don’t connect with my peers? What if I cannot make my relationship work? These children become obsessed with who likes whom, who prefers whom, who wants to be with whom. There are no possibilities allowed for missteps, for perceived disloyalty, disagreement, differences, or noncompliance. “True individuality is crushed by the need to maintain the relationship at all costs.”

Attachment to one’s parents and to other adults allows a child to experience their vulnerability to express their emotions honestly. The two authors point to the work of Julius Segal, a pioneer of research into what makes children resilient. He concludes that the most important factor to keeping children from being overwhelmed by stress was a charismatic adult in their lives who they could identify with and from whom they could gather strength. “Nothing will work in the absence of an indestructible link of caring between parent and child.”It is in the dependence of the attachment that the true independence of a child can develop.

~

Fast forward now to an adult seeking a committed, romantic relationship. Would it really be so different? Lion Goodman believes not. In his article he points out that human adults are still seeking what children need, with some added levels of intimacy, namely the ‘human super glue’ as Neufeld and Maté refer to it, sex. And great sex only comes with vulnerability and trust.

I wonder what is the real percentage of people who, thinking they have found their ‘soul mate,’ the one who can offer unconditional support and love, find instead an invulnerable stranger laying next to them. One sure sign of this is if you find yourself crying next to them, but into your pillow, secretly muffling your sobs. And in the process you have to put up some more armour, to keep living, but behind some thicker walls.

As children, when we were sad, we hopefully ran to our parents and not our friends and, according to Goodman, ideally this happened. “You cry. Your mother picks you up, and holds you close to her body. She looks down into your eyes with love and care, saying in a sweet voice, ‘It’s okay, honey. I’ve got you. I’ll keep you safe. You can relax now. Someday, you’ll learn how to take care of yourself. For now, you can count on me to make you a priority whenever you need me.’ This gentle touch, soft voice, and reassuring eye contact, gives a sense of safety and security. It allows the child to relax. It gives a feeling of security with a primal bond that the child can trust.”

He continues to say that when it comes to becoming adults, we never outgrow this primal need to depend on someone to hold and care for us. It is the neuroscience of real love so to speak. The same need for deep trust and secure attachment in order to keep the anxiety of insecurity at bay operates within adults just as it does within children, so it is really a human function essential to our survival, or at least, to our being able to accomplish our innate potential, becoming our true selves. And without it, passion also withers miserably on the vine. We can’t open ourselves, our heartfelt body, when we don’t feel safe. Vulnerability and trust is necessary to know what sex can truly be, a love making reunion between two people who care for each other.

After researching the neuroscience of attachment and how our current intimacy dynamics reflect our early bonding style with our parents, Goodman came to the following conclusion.

“It finally dawned on me what my partner wants: safety and security. She wants to feel held when she’s upset. She wants to be nurtured and cared for—not like an infant, but as a grown woman. It’s remarkably similar to my own needs and to those of a child’s—needs we never outgrow.

I began to practice reaching out for her when she got upset (instead of pulling away). I practiced caring more deeply (rather than giving up in frustration). I practiced holding her body and heart with care (instead of running in the other direction). And a miracle occurred . . . “

When someone cries in front of us, the instant reaction is either to fix what is wrong, or go numb because of the fear of not being able to fix it, or to assume it is a form of emotional manipulation. I think the hardest thing to understand is that when your loved one is feeling something and starts to cry, there is nothing to be done other than to witness and support the experience. There is nothing more powerful in the individuation process than to be able to go into our emotions in a safe, supported place and just let them ride themselves out. To go to the other side and to be able to let them go. We can’t do this when we sense judgement, discomfort or distance in our partner. Instead we shut our emotions down, to deal with them some other day, not knowing or admitting that they are slowly wriggling out of us but now likely in destructive ways. And when this happens our emotions often become the very source of unraveling of the relationship bonds. It is a well researched medical fact, repressed emotions and stress have to come out somehow or we get sick, and denial is not an effective override of our emotions any more than repression is.

We can’t let go when we are having sex with our partner either if we sense judgement, discomfort or distance in our partner. As least not the sex Goodman is referring to, the really Great Sex. So if your partner can’t hold you and support you without needing to do anything else when you start to cry, you need to ask yourself some very honest questions. Is this a safe attachment? Does this person offer me care and support? Are they capable of having an intimate, mature relationship with another adult? Will I be able to individuate, be independent and grow stronger while being dependent on this person? And if not, you either have some education to do or you need to seek your adult relationships elsewhere.

We seek freedom sometimes in the wrong places, in the being free of obligations, commitments, responsibilities, as if flowing without obstacles is what is meant by the actually possible human experience of freedom. Yet we are grossly overlooking the beauty in the freedom of letting go and in knowing our true selves. In becoming mature, independent adults, we can offer mentorship and guidance to future adults, and our most loving relationships can help us get there, both as children and as adults — but for adults it can be a lot more fun. :)

Fireworks by Clayton Kennedy

Image: Clayton Kennedy

 

 

 

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