Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The four approaches to problems: fight, flight, accept or suffer

The theory of radical acceptance (RA) states that there are basically four approaches to any problem (physical, emotional, global, systemic whatever...):
  • fight
  • flight
  • acceptance
  • continued suffering
Fight (which includes fixing and solving, preferably without violence or aggression) requires you to have the power, resources, knowledge, influence and general wherewithal to make the necessary change. Where I choose to "fight" is in my writing, influencing others, healing myself and helping others with my skills and knowledge.

Flight (which includes all forms of avoidance, distraction or altering your perception) requires you to take the safer path where the scary monster doesn't reside. Instead of riding the bicycle past the vicious uncontrolled Alsatian you can choose to take the longer safer path home. Wearing earplugs to block out unpleasant sounds is necessary for sleep at times. Distracting yourself with an activity you can immerse yourself in or focus on can get you out of thinking about the problem or the pain for a while - can give welcome relief and is good if it gets you out of rut but ineffective in the longer term if the problem is still going to be there when you finish distracting yourself. Before using this approach you should evaluate the consequences. Will it cost more, take longer, remove opportunities from your path, isolate you or become an habitual or addictive response.

Accept (pain is pain). Acknowledge the pain, it's there, don't try to change it, don't embrace it, fight it or run away from it - it's just there. Life will go on. You will survive this. This option works well with things you can't change or influence: traffic jams, global economic change, terminal illnesses, loss of a pet, friend or partner. If you can practice it on the traffic jams and other little things outside your control then the response will be may be more easily accessible to you when faced with life's bigger problems.

Suffer (suffering or misery is defined in RA as pain plus non acceptance).

All of us are faced with issues on a daily basis, from the big global ones like us and our planet being enslaved and milked for all we are worth by the half dozen individuals who run the planet, down to the limitations of life in general: death, disease, loss. In between we have the more ordinary problems like crumbling infrastructures that are too expensive to maintain (come across any councils ripping up the bitumen lately because its cheaper to maintain dirt roads), services that are no longer affordable and the increasing workload that exceeds the available resources, job losses due to cut backs and automation, rising costs and a stranglehold of red tape and regulation. A wise spiritual warrior needs to become skillful in knowing what to fight, flee or accept without ever opting for the fourth option of being beaten by the big and little realities of life.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Musings on making a gluten-free, raw food, vegan, ayurvedic pizza slice.

So a pizza with no cheese, onions, preserved olives of artichokes, hot peppers or a flour based crust. Tough ask - yes! But a worthwhile challenge to take on I think as my tastebuds will thank me if I get it right.

Did my research, looking at raw food, vegan and gluten-free info on the web. My problem is most sites only deal with one thing. Gluten-free vegan is becoming more common but even there people design recipes with things like mushrooms (big allergen for me), hot peppers that inflame and preserves that are liable to have molds, fungis and yeast (which my body treats like mushrooms and snarls at me). The Veggieboards forum has a lot of good ideas but no one solution. Breaking down the problem into its three component parts we have a need for:
  • a flourless base
  • pizza toppings
  • a cheese-less melt.
The base

You can buy gluten-free pizza bases but they may contain salt, sugar, spices, yeast and a type of flour you can't digest. I've opted to make my own. I have a dehydrater, a wood stove and a convection oven that will do low temperatures so dehydrating is easy enough. Tip: on a cool night do your dehydrating in the evening to warm the room, they choof out a fair bit of warm air. My first attempt at a base used quinoa sprouts which I blended with linseed and chia (my usual egg-replacement glue). I poured this into a flan base and dehydrated it.  I'd have to say the taste was strong on the palate but not unpleasant. I have two other ideas to try: an almond and herb base and a zucchini, walnut and linseed base. I'm tempted to try sunflowers as well. You can add asafoetida to the base mix if you want a slightly garlicy flavor. If you want salt use himalayan or sea salt or a dash of tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) or dulse flakes.

The toppings

This is the easy bit. There is actually quite a bit you can use. Raid your garden for what's in season. I made a bed of spinach, beetroot leaves and mizuna. Arranged some bell peppers, fresh pineapple (okay, not out of my garden but the rest was), Vietnamese mint, oregano and thyme on top.  I've yet to try nasturtium flowers but I think they might add a bite. Calendula petals would add colour. Water chestnuts might add a crunch factor.

The cheese-less melt

For my first attempt I used my tried and tested cashew, basil pesto. Just add Cashews, fresh basil, pine nuts, a dash of asafoetida to a blender then pour over your pizza. Dehydrate for a while to draw out the flavors of the veggies underneath.One alternative I'd like to try to this is the idea of thing slices of avocado added to the top of warmed pizza. Sounded nice.

Slice and enjoy.

I'll add to this post as I refine things.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The power of "One Mind" to create

The positive thinking movement tells us that we have the power to create and change our reality.  Choosing to be positive is within our individual power to do. By changing how we react to people events and life in general, changing the language we use to speak and thing about ourselves and others and simply choosing to be happy anyway can bring profound changes into our individual lives. There's a catch though. Its relative power is often limited or derailed by our subconscious insecurities, aversions and desires/attachements.

clearing our subconscious of its dross AND practicing a positive outlook takes us further. Techniques like relaxation, breathing techniques, yogic chakra releases, visualisation, acts of faith and forgiveness can all help with the letting go.

But the above will still only fix you. How do we fix the wider problems of the world. The violence, sickness, greed and misery that simply shouldn't have to be. We feel helpless in our individual capacity to bring about change. Prayers or focused intent can be directed at our external environment but again the affect is limited. The fact is you are one individual against the global consensus reality waiting for a tipping point number of people to believe the same as you before the global healing you wish for can spread like a benevolent virus embracing the world. So what to do?

We need to go beyond the individual. All of the above is worthwhile but something more is required for a truly global fix.

Gnostic traditions, those traditions based on direct experience, state that we live in an illusion that is largely of our own collective making. What we experience is governed by the limits of our biological capabilities and our programmed responses. We see and feel what we expect to see and feel. We see a world where we are separate from other individuals, other beings and the very earth beneath our feet. Conceptually at least we know this isn't true. Quantum science is no longer new. It's been telling us for some time now that the structure of the universe is not what we perceive. Take just one atom of one cell of your being. It's mostly just a lot of space with a few particles moving within it around a central core but the exact location of any particle can only be given in terms of probability. Everything else is space. We perceive a hard touchable surface to our skin. It keeps rain, leaves blown on the gusts of wind and anything else from passing into our body, viruses aside. But the surface is mostly space.

Space is the one boundless thing that truly exists in our dimension in our universe. Is it any wonder then that Tibetan's spend time staring at clear blue skies our finding their own inner skies inside. Space is a metaphor for all that is infinite, beyond naming or controlling.

Using the metaphor of space we can using our imagination to connect with our idea of it. You can enhance this practice with visualization, sound and breathing. Imagine the space that exists in the deep cavities of your body: your mind, your throat, your heart and abdomen. Imagine and rest in that space. Just sit with it without judging it. Explore within it. Explore the mind that is looking at it. Feeling the boundless nothing. And yet as we deepen the practice we do indeed find something there: a lightness, stillness, a vast silence. Going outside of ourselves we can imagine a connection to the space around us, space that is the glue that connects us with everything. We realise there is no difference between the inner and the outer space. We realise that each individual thing is within that space. As we connect with the space more and more we realise that the things are creations existing within the space. Our focus has shifted from the individual ego to the whole, to what Larry Dossey calls the 'One Mind'.

Connection with one-mindedness has profound consequences for how we see ourselves and act within the world. We come to see the individual bits of the relative world as temporary constructions. That is not to devalue those constructions but it does mean we start to see them as less concrete. We realise the relative is as it is. It in itself doesn't need fixing. What needs fixing is our connection with the one-mind. And it is from this perspective that everything resolves itself. For there is only one being. The only thing that is need to 'fix the world' is to reawaken to the one-mind and realise that there is only boundness light, love and joy and that what your individual ego in the relative world sought to fix was only its own creation.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Breakfast Fuel: Chia Porridge with Cherry Concentrate, Maca, Protein Powder and Linseed

Trying to keep the post-menopausal weight gain down and supply myself with enough nutrients to keep me going for the morning I've come up with this as my current breakfast. The added bonus is that it is low-carb, high in omega 3 fatty acids. It has a few things that are good for my joints as well as providing fuel for my morning run.

Take one small-medium breakfast bowl and add 2-3 heaped tablespoons of chia seeds (black or white, doesn't matter). Add boiling water to 3/4 fill the bowl. Stir until the mixture thickens up. Add one scoop of rice protein powder (one that tastes nice - some are plain awful), a heaped desertspoon of linseeds or LSA (ground linseed, sunflower and almond mix) and then sweeten with Cherry concentrate. If you need to balance the hormones then add a teaspoonful of maca as well. Stir the mixture again and enjoy.

A breakfast cup of ginger tea or Teccino goes nicely with this. You don't need to do anything special to make ginger tea just get some ordinary dried ginger, put a pinch of it in a mug and add hot water. It's a great way to kick charge the digestion for the day. But if you hanker after a coffee flavor go for the Teccino.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My experience treating my arthritic ankle with magnetic therapy, ayurveda and Trul Khor Tibetan yoga.

I was a little skeptical about whether magnetic therapy would work on my ankle but I was getting desperate. I'm only in my fifties and I'm not about to give into aging just yet. Getting up at night was getting to be a bit of a shuffle though. Not one for dosing myself with mainstream medication I looked at the alternative. To be frank I was a bit peeved to be getting the condition at all. I do yoga and eat vegetarian - why would I get arthritis? Unfortunately it is a bit of a family trait, it's just another consequence of those genes in my body involved with inflammatory processes..

Copper of course is good but it does leave a rather green stain on your skin.

Indian ayruvedic medicine said it was a Vata imbalance - groan - its alway Vata stuff with me. So making sure I put plenty of warming (but not hot) spices in my cooking: cumin, tumeric, coriander, fennel, asafoetida and small amounts of mustard seed. Energy blockages and poor digestion can aggravate the Vata element.

Warmth and movement are good.

Looking somewhat skeptically at magnets as a solution I found that Web MD actually said they might work for some arthritic joints. Worth a go then. I initially tried a couple of locally purchased Hematite/magnetite bracelets but despite their name and supposed metaphysical properties they weren't magnetic, not that I could tell anyway, and they certainly didn't do anything for me. I looked for something stronger and found The ankle bracelet they advertised that was combined with Carnelian, that the ayurvedic practitioners recommend, had a joiner with actual magnets so I go one to try. It only took a few days to come all the way from America. Within an hour of putting it on I noticed, with a great deal of surprise, that the pain in my ankle had lessened and I had more movement. Improvement has continued. I wear the anklet most of the time, even sleeping but take it off when I'm near water, swimming and showering etc. I'm thinking of getting one for my other ankle now which surprisingly has improved as well but might still benefit from one of its own. I'm not saying it would work for everyone but it certainly worked for me.

Looking further into the energy blockages I did what I've been meaning to do for some time and god Tenzin Wangyal's book and CD about Trul Khor (Tibetan yoga) "Awakening the Sacred Body" which is particularly good for clearing blockages. I as much impressed with the energy releases I've been getting from these exercises as I am the magnetic therapy. Together with a few dietary tweaks I'm back on top of things. Definitely more mobile and enjoying running, which I started doing after, not before, my ankles started packing up.

BBC article on the dangers of overly browned meat helping to cause brain plaque.

If you have the APOE gene that predisposes you to Alzheimers you may be interested in this article published on the BBC news site yesterday

For more information on the genetics of Alzheimers check out

Fortunately not a problem I have to worry about but since I have a fascination with genetics I come across these things.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sprouted Lentil Burgers with Cashew and Pine Nut Pesto

I invented this recipe for myself. It has no gluten, onions, garlic, meat, dairy, sugar, salt, tomato or hot spices but the few people I've tried it out on reckon it tastes great.
  • Sprout yourself a jarful of red or brown lentils, red if you can get whole red lentils. You'll need to sprout them 2-3 days until the rootlets start to appear. 
  • Place in a blender with about a cup of cooked carrot and/or zucchini (you can vary what vegetable you add - sweet potato or pumpkin would work just as well).
  • Add a large heaped tablespoon of chia seed and a similar amount or more of linseed. These two seeds are your glue and will hold the mixture together.
  • Add plenty of cumin, tumeric, coriander, fennel etc to taste. I usually add a heaped teaspoon of each. These spices help to balance what Indian Ayurvedic doctors call the Vata element which I need to balance so those are the spices I often use. These spices also help with digestion. Tumeric, particularly is a good all purpose anti-inflammatory. Check out Web Md for all the details on why you might consider using more tumeric in your cooking. Not good for everyone though so check it out!
  • Add about about a cup of water to the blender and mix. Add more water if the mixture "struggles" in the blender or if too sloppy add a little teff flour to thicken it once you've poured it into a mixing bowl. 
  • Spoon large dollops into a pre-heated fry pan and brown both sides. 
While they cook make your pesto as follows:

Rinse your blender then add
  • a cup of raw cashews
  • half a cup of pine nuts - or whatever amount you can afford - they're quite expensive
  • a good pinch of asafoetida Beware some asafoetida is mixed with wheat flour.
  • a handful of fresh basil

Put about two lentil burgers to a plate and pour a generous amount of pesto on top. Serve with any fresh edible flowers and leaves from your garden. For example marigold petals, mizuna, Italian parley, young kale - whatever is in season.