Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Reminder to be Mindful (AGAIN)

"MINDFULNESS = Moment-to-moment, non-judgmental attention." --Unknown

It is often said that the spiritual journey is like peeling away the layers of an onion. You peel off one layer and you feel so good, so "done," only to realize that you have many more layers to go and - yep - there's a lot of yucky crap and bad habits and low vibe behavior in this layer too. Darn it! And then sometimes something from two or three layers back sneaks up on you and you think, "How'd THAT get in here?!"

This week I found myself doing something I used to do a lot, but haven't done lately and it surprised me.

On Monday I went swimming as usual and there weren't very many people at the pool so I had the slow lane all to myself. It was glorious - for ten to twelve laps - until not just one, but two people joined my lane. Crap!

I immediately started whining and hating on them. "Why'd they have to join MY lane? Oh look at her, she doesn't know what she's doing - why'd she wait and then slip in just in front of me. Oh great, now she's using the kick board, that'll slow things down for sure." And on and on and on. Just a constant flow of criticism. Yuck.

Finally I realized what I was doing and I stopped. I got curious. Why was I doing this?

The answer, of course, is because I was really enjoying having the lane to myself. I liked not having to adjust my speed or choose my strokes based on what anyone else was doing. It was nice. And, now it was time to let that go because that was no longer my reality.

After that I had a thought that changed everything: I bet I have more in common with these women than not. I started to notice - and to list - everything I had in common with them - we are all swimmers, we are all women, we are all "easy" swimmers in a pool full of faster swimmers, we are all brunettes.

As soon as I started listing the things we had in common I realized, wow, if we were to meet outside of the pool I would probably really like these women. So I decided to like them. And once I decided to like them, I didn't mind sharing the lane with them at all.

I am sure neither of them noticed anything different about me (or had any idea what was going on inside my head earlier), but to me it felt like the energy of our lane completely shifted and was a much more pleasant place to be. I hope they felt it too.

Our minds are such powerful tools that we so often use for evil (at least I do) when with just a little bit of mindfulness, we can use them for good.

Can you think of a situation in your life in which you can use your mind + mindfulness to change things for the better?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Celebration of Books

"A book is a link between the past and the future. It is a bridge between generations and across cultures. It is a force for creating and sharing wisdom and knowledge." --Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of World Book and Copyright Day

Today is UNESCO's World Book & Copyright Day 2016 and in celebration I would like to share with you some of my favorite quotes about books and reading (and writing).

I am also putting my book - Write Your Life! - on SALE starting today through the end of May. For the next five weeks you may buy a print copy for $9.99 (down from $12.99) and the e-book version for $0.99 (down from $1.99). 

I hope you will find a way today to celebrate books and their role in your life: Grab a book off of  your bedside table, flop down on the couch and just read. Take a trip to your local library or favorite bookstore and bring home  stack of new (to you) books. Or, if you have always wanted to write a book, START TODAY. Put pen to paper (or finger to keys) and just write.

However you celebrate, I wish you a very happy World Book & Copyright Day!

~  * ~
"God has written all the books." --Samuel Butler quoted in the book "You Can Write a Book in a Weekend" by Tom Bird 

~  *  ~  
"A story must be exceptional enough to justify its telling. We storytellers are all ancient mariners, and none of us is justified in stopping wedding guests unless he has something more unusual to relate that the ordinary experiences of every average man and woman." --Thomas Hardy, quoted in "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving
~  *  ~
"Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world." --Tom Clancy from the "Creative Writing Now" newsletter
~  *  ~
"I divide all readers into two classes: Those who read to remember and those who read to forget." William Lyon Phelps quoted in the book “Literacy and Longing in LA” by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack
 ~  *  ~
"...[W]hat matters are the true friends you make, the activities you throw yourself into, the books you read, the skills and knowledge you acquire. Those experiences - the ones that make you stronger, smarter, and braver - are what really matter...." --Michelle Obama in a magazine interview
~  *  ~ 
"Books have the same enemies as people: fire, humidity, animals, weather, and their very own content." --Paul Valery from a Good Earth tea bag
~  *  ~ 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Buddhist Story

"A violent dragon met a bodhisattva on the road one day. The bodhisattva told the dragon that he should not kill anymore and should instead adopt the Buddhist precepts and care for all life. The bodhisattva inspired the dragon and afterward the dragon became completely nonviolent. But now the children who tended to the animal flocks nearby, seeing that the dragon had become gentle, lost all fear of him. And they began to torment him, stuffing stones and dirt into his mouth, pulling on his tail, and jumping on his head. Soon the dragon stopped eating and became very sick. When the dragon encountered the bodhisattva again, he complained, 'You told me that if I kept the precepts and was compassionate, I would be happy. But now I suffer, and I am not happy at all.' To this the bodhisattva replied, 'My son, if you have compassion, morality, and virtue, you must also have wisdom and intelligence. This is the way to protect yourself. The next time the children make you suffer, show them your fire. After that, they will trouble you no more.'” --Maha Ghosananda, as retold by Stephen T Asthma PhD in his book, "Why I Am a Buddhist"

Dragon Purification Fountain - Kyoto, Japan
I'll be honest, I am kind of stumped for a post today. I have tons of ideas, but whenever I follow one it just seems to lead nowhere. So I am throwing in the towel and sharing this Buddhist story that I read recently and just really love.

Sometimes I think we get confused and think that being compassionate means we roll over or let others treat us badly or don't stick up for ourselves or defend ourselves. Nothing could be further from the truth. "Compassion for all beings" means compassion for OURSELVES as well.

For me that means to stop badgering myself about A POST! A POST! A POST! and post this story. What does it mean for you? Where are you allowing your compassion for others to undermine your compassion for yourself? Make a commitment to change that today and practice self-compassion. Have a good one!

Love, Lara

P.S. With thanks to the Universe for this confirmation: My "message from the Universe" today from TUT.COM was "Always keep in mind, Lara, that no matter what has happened, you did the very best you could. And so did those who may have let you down. Great Love, The Universe"

Sunday, April 17, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 28 - Lasting Change


“...[L]asting change only comes when we transcend the energies that created it 
[whatever the 'problem' is as we see it].” --Lauren C Gorgo

How do we make lasting change? Starting where we are. Being willing to be a beginner every moment. Questioning and Bargaining. Backsliding and starting over. Being honestly inconsistent. Putting one foot in front of the other until we realize - sometimes suddenly - that we no longer need to drink or yell or bite our fingernails or tell lies or overeat or whatever it is we do that gets in our way.

But what is it, exactly, that we are transcending?

I can't answer that question for you, but what I have realized for myself over this twenty-eight days is that what I need to transcend to make this change permanent is not my addiction to wheat, but my addiction to AVERSION.

According to the Buddha, there are two habits which get in the way of enlightenment, clinging and aversion. Both are present, I believe, in any form of addiction, but one may overshadow the other in terms of its power over a particular individual. In my case, aversion is the stronger of the two.

I do experience negative sensations relative to clinging - I WANT a croissant because we have them every weekend and I cling to this tradition and the memories it produces, I WANT salted rosemary bread because I remember how good it tastes and I cling to the sensation of warmth and happiness this good taste gives me - but I can most often override the sensations that clinging produces in  my body and abstain. What really gets to me is the sensation of aversion.

The sensations that I feel in my body when I am hungry, or denying myself something that I really want are not at all pleasant and I do not like them at all. In fact, I have great aversion for them and will almost always do whatever it takes to make them go away. Eat the croissant, chow down the rosemary bread, watch another episode of my favorite show, etc.

For some reason if I am simply clinging, I can abstain, but when I start to feel aversion to the feelings brought on by the abstaining, I have much more trouble not giving in.

So the problem is not wheat, it's the feeling I have when I "deprive" myself of wheat that I cannot stand. And it is this energy that I need to transcend in order to have a hope of lasting change. So what is this energy?

If I think about it, what comes to me is that it is the energy of "lack of control."

As a child I was not in control of my diet and there were many, many things that I wanted that I was not allowed to have - at least not very often - white bread, Doritos, soda, candy, chips. Now these are all good things for my parents to have kept me from eating AND something about being prevented from eating them triggered something in me which makes it hard for me to transcend this feeling of not getting what I want food-wise.

This feeling of being deprived sends me back to an earlier time. I feel like a four-year-old who wants to lie on the floor and tantrum and the adult me tries to do whatever she can - as fast as she can - to make this feeling stop. And so I eat the croissant or the rosemary bread despite the knowledge that I probably shouldn't. And as soon as I do I feel "okay" again. And then I feel sick and bloated AGAIN.

I find these twenty-eight day challenges a great way to work with these feeling and to begin to transcend these kinds of energies because focusing on this one thing for twenty-eight days means that I am not trying to deal with my aversion to feelings of deprivation in the midst of a million other things. I put it front-and-center so when these feelings arise, I can face them head-on and work with them.

I can feel the icky feelings and want to tantrum and reach for the bread and I can say NO instead and reach for an apple or some carrots, or I can take a few deep breaths, or I can go for a walk, or I can lie down on the floor and just feel how it feels not to get something I really, really want to eat.

And I can tell my four-year-old self that it's okay. That she CAN have that bread if she wants to, but that I am CHOOSING not to. And that makes all the difference.

~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~

I hope that you have enjoyed this twenty-eight day challenge and that it has benefitted you in some way. Starting tomorrow I will begin my next twenty-eight days of abstinence from wheat, hoping to build on the past twenty-eight days and ingrain a habit. These next twenty-eight days will be "silent" and I will not be writing about them.

Wednesday I will resume my normal once a week blog post, with an announcement for an upcoming class starting May 4th. I hope you will check back then.

In the meantime, have a pleasant Sunday and if you break your fast tomorrow, enjoy whatever it is you have been abstaining from once again!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 27 - Finding Awakeness

"Awakeness is found in our pleasure and our pain, our confusion and our wisdom, available in each moment of our weird, unfathomable, ordinary everyday lives." --Pema Chodron

Awakeness, I believe, can be found in abstinence because it stimulates our pain and our pleasure sensors, it causes us confusion and discomfort, it causes us to feel more deeply, to be more aware, to wake up a little bit more.

As I wrote on DAY 24, abstaining from wheat has somehow allowed me to recognize the unwell feelings I have when I eat corn and sugar. I think this comes from the heightened sense of "awakeness" it takes to remain abstinent. And because I am more awake, I am more aware.

How have you become more awake over the course of this challenge? What other moments of awakeness have you experienced in your weird, unfathomable life?

Friday, April 15, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 26 - Inconsistently, Honestly, Human

Nature: inconsistently, honestly, beautiful

"To be honest, one 
must be inconsistent." 
–HG Wells

This seemed the perfect quote to follow on from yesterday's theme of "progress, not perfection." The idea of progress and not perfection, of taking things one step at a time and leaving room for backsliding and imperfection, has been crucial to my own personal growth and spiritual journey. 

As a young child I became enamored with the idea of being perfect. I believed that if I always sat up straight, always listened to the teacher, always did my best and always got good grades, that would be make me "a good girl" and everyone would love me. 

Of course it is not always possible to always sit up straight, always listen to the teacher, always do your best, and always get good grades, but I made a pretty good show of it by subjugating my feelings and acting the part. 

I tried to do the same thing as a young mother - though being a perfect mother seemed to include more "nevers" - never use formula, never let my baby cry himself to sleep, never leave my baby with anyone who I hadn't known for at least ten years, never let my baby get diaper rash, never put my needs above those of my baby, etc., etc. After about two weeks of this I was strung out, exhausted and ready for the loony bin. 

I had to re-write the rules and, in fact, re-write the whole script of my life. I had to stop trying to be perfect. I had to throw out the words "always" and "never." I had replace the concept of "The Good Mother" and learn to be happy being a "good enough" mother (thanks Grace!). Because no one can do anything perfectly, least of all parenthood. 

I have not knowingly cheated on this challenge. I have abstained from cinnamon loaf and salted rosemary bread, I have eschewed cake and croissants, and I have passed up the chance to have what I can only imagine was some of the best fried chicken in the known Universe, but I have not rigorously questioned every waiter and waitress about every dish I have put into my mouth and it is entirely possible that I have eaten a bit of wheat in the past twenty-six days. And I'm okay with that. The point is not to be perfect. The point is to try to do something challenging, something uncomfortable, something healthy, and to be honest about the inconsistency inherent in any human endeavor. 

What about you? How have you been inconsistent over the past twenty-six days? How have you pursued progress and not perfection? Don't be afraid to be inconsistently, honestly, human. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 25 - Progress not Perfection


"When I leave my apartment I always whisper to myself, do no harm. I seek progress rather than perfection. I wouldn’t recognize perfection if it bit me on my ass. I just try to do better than I did yesterday." --Frank Ferrante, subject of the movie "May I Be Frank," an amazing example of the benefits of abstinence. (Check it out above!)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 24 - Get passionate!



"When one is passionate about a pursuit, one doesn't have to rely on forced discipline." --Susan Vreeland

As this challenge goes on I am uncovering more and more things that I need to abstain from. Somehow by letting go of wheat, I have come to realize that I also need to cut down on/cut out sugar and corn.

Just typing that makes me feel a little bit hopeless. I want to whine at The Universe, "Haven't I given up enough?!" But the answer, clearly, is "No." 

Not even for any spiritual reasons. (I didn't give up wheat for spiritual reasons, although I believe the process of abstaining from anything can be spiritual practice.) Somehow by abstaining from wheat I have been able to notice more clearly how my body reacts to sugar and corn - and the results are not good.

Although the reaction is not as strong as my reaction to the Pop Tarts I ate before I began the challenge, I do feel unwell after eating sugar and corn. Do I like this? No! Not one bit. But I have to accept that as my body ages, and as I become more conscious and aware of my body through meditation and spiritual practice, I can no longer ignore these unwell feelings. Rather I have to listen to them and make choices accordingly. Which brings me to PASSION. 

As I see it I have two choices: 1) resist the truth that is being revealed and whine about it or 2) accept the reality of my body as it is in this moment and get passionate about eating well for that body. Not the body I used to have or the body I wish I had, but the body I actually have right now. 

And I believe that this is a choice. Not an easy one perhaps, but a choice nonetheless. I can choose to hate and resist this process (and probably not make as much progress toward optimal health) OR I can get passionate about the foods that are good for me. And I have found that that is getting easier the longer I go without wheat. 

I am enjoying carrots and spinach smoothies and apples so much more than I have in the past. In the past I would eat them because they were good for me, but I am beginning to get passionate about the crunch of an organic carrot, the life I can taste in a green smoothie and the juice in a really good apple. And it is this passion - the same passion I once had for croissants and salted rosemary bread - that can make abstinence a joy instead of a chore. A pursuit instead of a forced discipline.

What about you? What is your abstinence challenge revealing to you? What do you want to get PASSIONATE about?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 23 - Discover the Ultimate Happiness of the Human Soul (and then share it with others...)


"For Socrates...happiness...does not depend on external circumstances or material resources, but on one's capacity to know what is good and true and to act accordingly. The philosopher's task is to lead the mind through its habitual patterns of deluded thinking to this life-altering knowledge. Having accomplished this for himself, he then becomes a compassionate 'gadfly' for others, pestering them to break through their false and limiting preconceptions so that they, too, can discover the ultimate happiness of the human soul." --Noelle Oxenhandler

Monday, April 11, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 22 - Outwitting Your Shadowy Behavior


"Having obscene amounts of money, power and status is just one kind of success. (And often a rather boring one at that.) Far more intriguing are the triumphs that come from outwitting one's own shadowy behavior and unconscious habits and from dreaming up ingenious responses to life's ever-fresh stream of problems. To accomplish these sorts of victories, there's no greater asset than a robust imagination."
--Rob Brezsny

Following on from yesterday's post a question: How can you use your imagination to support your abstinence practice? 

Yesterday we imagined that it was easy, how else could you use your imagination to help you sustain your abstinence practice? How can you outwit your shadowy behavior?

For me this means not allowing my questioning and rationalizing voices (the ones that say, "Do I really need to give this up?" or "I'll just have a little") to take up any space in my head. It means shutting them down as quickly as I can and moving onto something else. It means asking myself: "What can I do instead?" and then using my imagination to come up with a distraction that will satisfy my mind.

How does it work for you?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 21 - Make it Easy Today

"A good habit is as easy to develop as a poor one." --Dennis Mannering via @garyloper on Twitter

I am not sure that this is true, but I like the idea. Just for today, let's imagine that this is true, let's choose to believe that this is true and act accordingly.

Walk around as if it is easy to abstain. Talk to yourself as if it is easy to abstain. Talk about your abstinence challenge as if it were easy.

Does this change things for you? Does it make it easier? Maybe it makes it harder for you. Play with this idea today and see what happens.

Would love to hear about your experience in the comments!


Saturday, April 9, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 20 - The Path of True Awakening

"...[T]o stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge—that is the path of true awakening.” --Pema Chodron

Leave it to Pema Chodron to rock the addiction quote like she rocks everything else. This woman gets life in a human body. She just gets it. 

We had some family over last night and we ordered Chinese food. And there was General Tso's Chicken, breaded and sauced to perfection. And I wanted some.

My left hand was holding the platter, my right hand was on the spoon, and then I realized, "breaded" probably meant "wheat." Ugh.

I started to question - and then to bargain - and then I put the spoon down and stayed with the feeling of wanting and not getting. And, surprisingly, it didn't last all that long.

But what about when it's about something more than Chinese food? When your partner is sick, or your kid is in trouble, or your job is in jeopardy? Staying when the sensation lasts longer than a few minutes is not easy. It is hard work. Warriors' work

Abstaining from that which you want, from that which is doing harm to self or others, from that which to abstain from is bringing up feelings you may want to run away from, can be the training ground for deeper levels of staying - staying with yourself and your feelings when the sh*t really hits the fan. And THAT is path of true awakening. And you are on it.

Thank you for your efforts and keep up the good work!

Friday, April 8, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 19 - Stop Being an Octopus

"You can strip yourself, you can be stripped, but still you will reach out like an octopus to seek your own comfort, your untroubled time, your ease, your refreshment. It may mean books or music – the gratification of the inner senses – or it may mean food and drink, coffee and cigarettes. The one kind of giving up is not easier than the other." --Dorothy Day in The SUN magazine

Click here to read an old post about a time I reached out to seek my own comfort and regretted it.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 18 - Avoiding the Realities

Even a tree as tall as this one once was is not permanent,
AND from this stump now grows a brand new tree
"We all develop addictions as a way of avoiding the realities of impermanence and loss." --Satya Robyn

Impermanence and loss. These are the realities of our human life. And they are hard realities to live with day in and day out for decades (if we are lucky). I agree with Satya that it is out of avoiding these realities that we develop addictions and, ironically, I have found that it is only in facing these realities on a daily basis that we can begin to let our addictions go.

Facing the realities of life and beginning to absorb the fact of impermanence and loss, the constant shifting and changing, the impossibility of ever really grasping and holding onto anything (a job, a relationship, a friend, a home) is what ultimately allows us to begin to let go of our addictions and to truly enjoy our lives, every precious fleeting moment.

Today I invite you to ask yourself: What losses am I avoiding through my addictions? How can I work on accepting impermanence?

Breathe into the feelings that arise and know that no matter what you are safe in this moment. You are free in this moment. You are here in this moment.

Meditation is a great way to begin this work and I invite you to spend ten minutes today just sitting and breathing. IN and OUT, IN and OUT. Just allow yourself to be in the reality of this life.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

20 Days of Abstinence - Day 17 - Choose Serenity

"Do I want the hit or do I want the serenity?" --A friend of Anne Lamott's in Operating Instructions

Leave it to Anne Lamott - and her merry band of quotable friends - to tell it like it is. If you are feeling tempted today ask yourself this question: Do I want the hit or do I want the serenity?

If you need some support today, click here to read a great article on giving up drinking. Take each principle she outlines and apply it to whatever it is you are abstaining from. Having a plan can help improve your chances of success.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 16 - True Desires

"Addiction exists whenever persons are internally compelled to give energy to things that are not their true desires."  --May (from “Addiction and Grace”) in the book “The Journey of Desire” by John Eldredge

Ooh, another juicy definition of addiction to consider....Spend some time today thinking about your true desires. What are they? And what are you giving energy to that is not a true desire?

Monday, April 4, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 15 - Some Thoughts About Addiction

"An addict is someone whose actions while (or after) doing FILL IN THE BLANK harm themselves or those around them." --Unknown

Now that we have a few days of abstinence under our belts, or at least attempts at abstinence, I want to spend a few days exploring the topic of addiction.

When I think of the word ADDICTION it is in all-caps and with a lot of baggage attached, which is why I really like the definition above - it covers all manner of addictions from the smallest unhealthy attachment to, for instance, hair twirling (guilty!) or gum chewing, up to full-blown drug and alcohol addiction.

In fact, the original version of this quote was: "An alcoholic is someone whose actions while (or after) drinking harm themselves or those around them," but I think it works well for pretty much anything (food, substance, or behavior) as long as the harm clause is met.

When I first heard this definition - in a conversation with someone and I am so sorry that I cannot remember who it was! - it made so much sense to me and it also made me realize that by this definition I was (or am) an alcoholic.

I quit drinking regularly a few years ago for just this reason: I realized that I wasn't a very good mom the day after drinking. Even if I had only one or two drinks, the next day I was less patient and understanding, more likely to yell and punish rather than discipline, and I didn't want to be that kind of a mom.

More recently I have given up drinking completely because I realized that being that kind of mom just "once in awhile" is still doing harm to my sons. As I think about it relative to my current abstinence challenge (wheat) I see that it also applies.

The Saturday before I began this challenge we took our boys and a friend of theirs snowboarding at a local mountain. The friends' mom sent a bag of snacks along, including a package of strawberry Pop Tarts.

I can't remember the last time I had a strawberry Pop Tart, but it's been a long time. They were one of those foods I was never allowed to have growing up so when I was finally out on my own and buying my own groceries they were a staple. Since I knew this twenty-eight day challenge was coming up I decided - What the heck! - I'll have a Pop Tart.

It was disappointing. More plastic-tasting and overtly sugary than I had remembered, but nonetheless I ate the whole thing and I enjoyed it. Kind of....Until later that night when I got physically ill.

About an hour after eating the Pop Tart I had a headache, a bloated stomach, I felt nauseated AND I had a rash all over my chest and torso. Yikes! It seemed The Universe was seconding my decision to abstain from wheat and sending a clear message about Pop Tarts: AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

If I were to continue eating Pop Tarts after they made me so sick I would have no problem calling that an addiction. Fortunately I have no desire to eat a Pop Tart ever again, but wheat in general is a different story. If I find, as I expect to, that my body feels better at the end of this twenty-eight days and yet I continue to eat wheat I think it will be fair to say that I am "addicted" and that I have more work to do.

I don't want to misuse or overuse the word "addiction," but I fear the opposite is true: that we have a tendency to underuse the term in modern society. I think we all have habits that may fall under the above definition of addiction and that we try and convince ourselves otherwise. Addiction in some respects has even become a badge of honor as in "I am so addicted to Facebook" or "I just have to have my morning coffee or I can't function." I would argue that these addictions in many cases are not as harmless as we would like to believe.

Today I would like to ask you to spend some time thinking about this definition of addiction in relationship to your own habits and behaviors. Where do you see addiction rearing its ugly head? What other foods/habits/behaviors are ripe for abstention?

Being a Spiritual Warrior, I believe, means being willing to look honestly at your own life and patterns, even if you can't do anything to change them right now. I also believe that even the tiniest bit of awareness can shift things in ways that may not be readily apparent in the moment.

So take some time today to shine a light on those dark and addicted parts of yourself and then stay tuned and see what happens next: Maybe you will notice an increase in those behaviors. Maybe you will see the harm that is done when you indulge in a certain food (do you feel sick or irritable? are you rashy or tired afterwards?) that you did not notice before. Maybe you will become aware of how certain behaviors harm others.

Whatever you notice will be a clue as to your next step, your next "abstain from," your next challenge as a Spiritual Warrior.

[N.B. IF YOU REALIZE THAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY IN THE GRIPS OF A SERIOUS ADDICTION TO DRUGS, ALCOHOL OR ANY OTHER HIGHLY ADDICTIVE SUBSTANCE, PLEASE DON'T TRY AND GO IT ALONE. THERE ARE MANY AMAZING PROGRAMS AND GROUPS OUT THERE. PLEASE GET SOME HELP.] 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 14 - Listen to Your Body

"Your body speaks to you. LISTEN." 
--Inna Segal

Try connecting with your body again today through this meditation. What is the message your body has for you today?


Saturday, April 2, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 13 - Tread a New Way


"Your usual way of behaving has for once not worked and has got you into an unpleasant situation. Your usual problem solving strategy is not improving the situation, no matter how much you try. For a change, try dropping your usual approach and tread a new way!" --Julien Avram, www.dailyhoroscopes.net 

We decide to abstain because our old ways of eating, behaving or moving in the world are no longer working and we have gotten ourselves into some kind of an unpleasant situation. Abstinence is helping us tread a new way. Even if we return to the thing we are abstaining from fifteen days from now, it will be different because we will be different. The act of abstaining changes us and changes our relationship to our habit. Keep treading a new way and be amazed at what happens!

Friday, April 1, 2016

28 Days of Abstinence - Day 12 - This could be the beginning of something BIG!


"Social, big, huge change can come through personal change." 
--From the movie "2012: Time for Change"

I love this idea of huge change coming from small change, social change coming from personal change and, while it may not seem like a one month abstention from something could lead to something BIG, I say WHY NOT? 

Maybe this change will lead to a new career, a new passion, a new love, a new LIFE! And that change may lead to changes in others and THAT may change the world.  

Spend some time today thinking about what bigger, social changes may be possible from the personal change you have committed to this month. Let your mind go and consider all possibilities that come to mind, don't limit your thinking, really expand your mind. 

Here's mine: 

Letting go of wheat I am healthier in my body. This change leads me to eat healthier across the board and to eventually give up sugar as well as wheat. When I begin eating less sugar, my family also eats less sugar and slowly loses a taste for it. As our family begins to eschew sugar, we plant the suggestion in the minds of others and soon a few of our friends are also abstaining from sugar. Then like the old Faberge Organics shampoo commercial, they tell some friends, and they tell some friends, and soon more and more people are eating less sugar, forcing companies which sell sugar-laced products to either go out of business or start making great-tasting products without sugar. As more and more people eat less sugar incidents of ADHD, Diabetes and obesity go down, the general population becomes healthier and starts living longer. They also experience less aggression and stabler moods. There are less incidents of road rage, less fighting on playgrounds and less yelling in homes and marriages. As the "no-sugar" habit spreads across the world, there is less conflict, less gun violence, and more peace and happiness generally. 

Is this a fantasy? Absolutely. Is it completely outside of the realm of possibility? Absolutely not. 

How did the organic food movement or Alcoholics Anonymous start? With one person and one idea. And the changes these people have made have been HUGE. You have the opportunity to create big, huge, social change with the actions you take every day. And you have already started. So keep up the great work. And on behalf of all of us. Thank you.