|August 20, 2014||Living and Dying||no comments|
|August 19, 2014||Tenderheart||no comments|
|August 14, 2014||What Will It Take To Have A Living Wage?||no comments|
|August 12, 2014||Modest but Zealous||1 comments|
|August 07, 2014||Ego In Oneness||no comments|
|August 05, 2014||Onto The Stairs||no comments|
|July 31, 2014||Let’s Not Tell Hamas!||no comments|
|July 29, 2014||An Oxymoron When It Comes To Jews||no comments|
|July 24, 2014||The Yogi’s Life Of Constant Change||no comments|
|July 17, 2014||Bad News For Us Fast Food Vegetarians||no comments|
There isn’t a one of us prepared and ready to die so when it does come upon us, it’s important to have resources.
The best innovations in the medical field are palliative and hospice care. The palliative care team supports management of pain and other symptoms, help navigating the healthcare system, and gives guidance through difficult and complex treatment choices. Hospice provides a caring emotional environment knowing that the illness is terminal.
For some spiritual guidance, allow me to introduce the Living/Dying Project:
Imagine facing death without fear.
Imagine using a life-threatening illness as an opportunity for spiritual awakening.
Imagine approaching the unknown with an open heart.
We often resist change as a natural part of life.
Strength and healing can be found in life’s most difficult situations.
The Living/Dying Project offers compassionate support in the spirit of mutual exploration to those facing life-threatening illness.
Here is one of their meditations. If this one doesn’t seem right, check out this page to find one that does.
Softening Pain Meditation
A GUIDED MEDITATION ON SOFTENING PAIN By Stephen Levine
© 1991 Stephen Levine
(To be read slowly to a friend or silently to oneself.)
Try to find a comfortable position and settle into it.
Slowly allow your attention to move toward the area of discomfort.
Watch what feelings arise as you let your awareness approach that place.
Let the pain just be there.
Is the mind and body at war? Much resistance? Is the mind cursing the body?
Is there any fear accumulated in the area of discomfort?
Notice if any old mind fears cling there, turning pain to suffering.
Resistance to hellishness.
Notice whatever feelings arise in that area.
Begin to soften all about physical and mental discomfort.
Let the skin, the flesh, the muscles, begin to soften all around the pain.
Let the fist of resistance and fear which closes down around the unpleasant slowly begin to open. Releasing tension around discomfort.
Letting go of the rigidity holding unwanted sensations.
Let go. This holding, this old resistance and dread turns the moment sour.
Let go. It is so painful to hold to the pain with anger and fear and hopelessness.
Let it go.
Let it begin to float in awareness instead of being trapped hard in the body.
Moment to moment sensation arises. Moment to moment opening.
Softening to each particle of sensation.
Let the muscles soften.
Let the flesh open to receive the moment as it is in mercy and loving kindness.
The fear, the anger, the sense of failure dissolving into the softness.
Each moment new.
Softening from sensation to sensation.
Notice how the least thought or subtlest holding reestablishes tension.
Soften. Moment to moment letting go.
Remembering the mercy that pain cries out for—soften again and again and once again.
Let the discomfort just be there, not holding to it, not even pushing it away.
Softening to the very center of each instant of sensation and feeling.
Meeting the heart of our pain in mercy and forgiveness.
Moving gently into it to heal, to release so much frustration, so much helplessness. Allowing at last the moment simply to be as it is with such mercy for ourselves and these sensations arising in soft flesh.
Soften the ligaments.
Soften the tissue all around each sensation. Let each sensation float free in this softness. Letting it be in the heart of mercy and kindness toward oneself, toward this moment, toward these sensations constantly changing.
Open all around sensation gently.
Push nothing away.
Let resistance melt from the body with a sigh. Let go of long-held fear and doubt.
And in the mind that holds to this pain, that prays to it and wars with it, that beseeches it, a deeper softening begins to permeate. The mental fist opens.
Feel the release of tension in the mind as it softens to the unpleasant in the body. Have mercy.
A moment of fear, a moment of distrust, a moment of anger—each arising and dissolving, one after the other. Each mind-moment dissolving into the next.
The spaciousness increasing.
Hard reactions melting to soft responses in the mind. The body softening to receive the moment as is.
Moment-to-moment softening all about sensations arising.
Softening the tissue. Softening the muscles. Softening around each moment of experience arising in the body.
Softening to the center of each cell.
Sending mercy and loving kindness into each moment of sensation arising and dissolving in space.
Each instant of sensation received in an awareness that gently embraces.
Letting go of discomfort.
Letting it float in a merciful awareness.
Letting the mind float in the heart.
Receiving this moment in the opening heart of mercy.
Receiving this softness in all the far-flung galaxies of the body.
In the vast body, such mercy, such kindness, receives each moment.
Softening. Opening with a merciful awareness we continue the path of the healing we took birth for.
When we have an openhearted attitude toward ourselves, we work with everything that comes- from insight to resistance, from boredom to enthusiasm, from tears to laughter. We are in the arms of the Great Mother who is all things, who accepts all things, and who moves all things toward completion.
The final insight of Buddhism is to be tenderhearted.
The final insight of Christianity is to be tenderhearted.
The final insight of Islam, of Judaism, of live itself is to be tenderhearted.
In the beginning of our search, we think we have to add this quality to who we are. At the end of the search, we come to the conclusion that we are this quality. Remember dear Reader: You are this quality, whether you feel it or not. Being tenderhearted is like having a nose: It is for other people to see!
Jason Shulman; The Instruction Manual for Receiving God; page 112.
There are some places where I say to myself- it would be really fun to work here. IKEA is one of them but could I afford to? They recently announced a new, higher wage structure beginning in 2015 that is based on the MIT Living Wage Calculator. The average hourly minimum wage will go up to $10.76, an increase of 17 percent. This is based on a single person with no children, the lowest wage the calculator offers. For an IKEA worker in an expensive suburb of Washington, D.C it will be $13.22 an hour. In Pittsburgh, where cost of living is much lower it will be $8.29 an hour.
The minimum wage does not provide a living wage for most American families. Families earning between the poverty threshold of $23,283 for two working adults and two children and the median living wage of $51,224 for two working adults and two children per year before taxes fall short of the income and assistance they require to meet their basic needs. A typical family of four with two working adults and two children needs to work more than 3 full-time minimum-wage jobs or a 68-hour work week per working adult to earn a living wage.
IKEA is making a small effort but is not even close to providing for the basics let alone any extras like a week at the beach or a dinner from Whole Foods. The whole situation is pitiful- really.
It’s my dad’s yahrzeit. He died in 1998 of a broken heart trying to care for my Alzheimer diseased mother, his wife of over fifty years.
Alzheimer's is a progressive disease. There's currently no way to reverse its progress or to cure it. A person may function fairly well for years in its early stage or may decline rapidly. In the beginning the behavioral changes are so slight, it’s hard to pinpoint the problem. Memory lapses are the first sign. Then the person becomes easily confused and has trouble finding their way in public spaces like malls and office buildings.
A few suggestions to help your loved one retain an independence quality of life:
People with early dementia may be aware that something's not right and blame it on aging, stress, or illness. Some people draw inward, others show frustration and shorter tempers. Try not to mistake moodiness for rudeness; it's a sign of struggle with the dementia. Gently encourage your loved one to name his or her concerns.
Get an early diagnosis. There are many possibilities include medications, environmental cues, cognitive therapy, and treatment for related conditions such as depression, once the disease is confirmed. Consider enrolling in a clinical trial or other research study on dementia at a university or memory clinic.
Help the person use supports such as lists, diaries, calendars, and notebooks to compensate for memory glitches. The key is to create habits around these behaviors. Encourage the person to carry a small book all times and refer to it. Spend time together labeling faces in old photos, organizing memorabilia or records, and doing other memory-based activities.
Look for ways to modify favorite activities rather than giving them up. Encourage the continued use of longtime skills, typing on a keyboard, handicrafts, or speaking a second language. Resist the urge to step in and do things for the person and allow more time and occasional errors. Erase phrases like Try harder or You're not concentrating enough.
Rely more strongly on routine. Shift the day so that meals, rest periods, active periods, and bathing come in the same order and about the same time. Label household or bathroom shelves, desk drawers, and other often-used storage places according to key contents. Consider introducing items for safety's sake that may be needed later: a shower chair, bathroom grab bars, door chimes to help the person get used to them. Start exploring alternate transportation options and find someone to manage the checkbook. Move credit cards and key wallet documents to a secure place.
Embrace the good days and prepare for stormy ones. No single individual can manage dementia care all the way through all alone. Find out now who can help. Regularly update family and friends; the more they hear, the better they can understand. Encourage them to spend time with the person to understand what is happening. Call your local Area Agency on Aging to find out what kinds of resources are available in your community. Join a support group for dementia caregivers. Later, it may be harder to leave the house, so start now.
Take Care of You. It's natural to focus only on the person with dementia when symptoms are new. Nurturing yourself does the person with dementia a favor. Healthy people provide better care. Live in and embrace the good moments with laughter and gratitude.
God has never made a mistake in creating individual egos over and over again. We make mistakes in not knowing how to integrate these egos and heal them.
Gratefulness is the heart of a well-lived life. Without gratefulness, our lives have no meaning. With gratefulness, we discover that all meanings of life come down to this ability to feel grateful. The human ego—when healed—is the best vehicle for feeling this central aspect of our being.
The Instruction Manual For Receiving God Pg. 19 Jason Shulman
The unified field of individualized self-consciousness personality, the ego, has many layers and aspects that make each of us a unique physical entity with a specific experience of reality.
The degree to which we identify with ego in any given moment determines our contracted or expanded awareness. Fighting ego is like trying to think about nothing. Deny it and it will remain a constant threat to the experience of joy, love, and peace.
Clarity begins with the awareness of the true nature of human experience: We are souls experiencing life through the physical and emotional senses of the body. Being Here Now does not eliminate desires or negative emotions or positive personality traits. Instead it co-exists with the ego in a very rich and dynamic relationship, both simultaneously present to delve into the nature of reality.
Try observing the continuous process of the thoughts that come and go. Notice each feeling associated with each different thought and ask: Where is this thought coming from –- my ego or my soul?
The goal is not to eliminate the ego, but to enlighten it. It’s a process not a product that is easier said than done.
Since 1980, obesity rates have doubled among U.S. adults and tripled among U.S. children making approximately two-thirds of U.S. adults and one-third of U.S. youth are obese or overweight.
Physical activity is critical to maintaining a healthy weight and lowering the risk of chronic disease. The Surgeon General recommends taking 10,000 steps in a day accumulating to 30 minutes of activity every day.
New York City’s Active Design Guidelines have been working to provide urban designers to promote active living through the placement and design of stairs, elevators, and indoor and outdoor spaces that encourage walking, bicycling, and active transportation and recreation.
You don’t have to wait for design changes in your neighborhood to take advantage of a nearby flight of stairs. Start climbing to crank up your heart rate, burn fat, and engage your lower body and easily achieve your 10,000 daily steps.
Five misfortunes befell our fathers ... on the ninth of Av. ...On the ninth of Av it was decreed that our fathers should not enter the [Promised] Land, the Temple was destroyed the first and second time, Bethar was captured and the city [Jerusalem] was ploughed up. -Mishnah Ta'anit 4:6
Tisha B'Av begins this Monday evening but let’s keep the commemoration to ourselves, not to give Hamas any hint of our divided and be conquered history. Instead, let’s use it as our opportunity to unite firmly in right over might and forge a peaceful path in the Middle East.
Legend has it Ernest Hemingway bet a group of friends that he could tell a story using only six words. He grabbed the nearest napkin and wrote: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. He won the bet.
The Six-Word Memoir® project began after 9/11 to encourage people to express small portraits of individual grief. It has continued on in many forms including Oy! Only Six? Why Not More? Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life.
People of the Book Need Words!
It’s been a long time since I mentioned my yoga practice but as with all things it’s path is quite unpredictable. I now have 200 hours of teacher training under my belt and have been certified to teach by Yoga Alliance.
Today, I went to my regular LA Fitness class (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:30) only to discover that my very favorite teacher will no longer be working there. Ugh! It’s like going to the pancake house and finding out they changed their pecan syrup to blueberry. My first reaction is to say, “Well that’s the end of LA Fitness for me.” but maybe it’s just possible this is just the change I need in my practice. After all, yoga is a process is it not? We will see?!??!
For sure it will encourage me to more regularly attend Yoga with Phyllis at the Squirrel Hill Library (Tuesdays at 5:30 and Saturdays at 10:00). Phyllis, the elder stateswoman of yoga, is the reason I have my teacher certificate. If you’ve never tried- this would be the place to start your practice and watch it grow.
Did I tell you I am now a teacher at Our Clubhouse (formally Gilda’s Club) subbing as needed and teaching Thursday nights at 6:00 when the Clubhouse is open? For anyone whose life has been touched my cancer, there is nothing better than a little gently yoga at Our Clubhouse to calm the nerves.
Healthy plants and trees yield abundant flowers and fruits. Similarly, from a healthy person, smiles and happiness shine forth like the rays of the sun. B.K. S Iyengar
I just learned that my favorite fast food: The Boca Burger is not healthy! How could that be? Because Boca Burgers are made from soybeans bathed in a product called hexane. Hexane extracts the oil from soybeans, a necessary step to making most conventional soy ingredients. Unfortunately, hexane, a byproduct of gasoline refining, is also a neurotoxin and an air pollutant.
The Cornucopia Institute has developed a Guide to Choosing Non-Hexane Meat Alternatives and the Guide to Choosing Non-Hexane Nutrition Bars to help us support the companies that have committed to hexane-free soy ingredients.
Like any food, there are good and bad choices. It’s time to start making my own!