Monday, January 30, 2012

Utopian by Nature


It’s very difficult for me to imagine a world without people who dream, who have a vision of what they would like to see. I can’t think of anyone who would say, “We’ve arrived at a perfect existence, so let’s retain it.” There are always things that are distressing and that we think could be bettered, so we imagine improvements. That impulse has not died out, and if it ever does, I don’t think we’ll have human beings on earth any longer. We’ll have some other form of life, which I can’t imagine. - Fritzie P. Manuel

By Jessica Roemischer

Human beings, by nature, are Utopian. We dream and we hope, and since the dawn of civilization, we have conjured notions of an ideal and perfect existence. From the bucolic realms of the Garden of Eden to Plato’s republic of philosopher-kings, from the island paradise of Thomas More’s Utopia to the libertarian collectives of nineteenth-century America to the counterculture communes of the 1960s, the ways in which utopia has been envisioned have changed dramatically over time. But whatever forms they have taken, Utopian ideals have helped drive forward an unfolding process of reinvention, a process whereby humankind has sought, through vision and experimentation, a new and better life. Indeed, Utopian visions, and the social experiments they inspired, are a product of our most freely creative faculty, the human imagination. They are an expression of the universal impulse to create the new - to reshape culture and even consciousness itself.

From an Enlighten Next editorial
Image source unknown but greatly appreciated


Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's All in Your Mind


There was once in China an expert archer. One day he went to a very high mountain with his bow on his back. While strolling on the mountain, he became thirsty and wanted to drink water. Fortunately, he found a small spring under a bush. He bent the bush and scooped the water with his hands. He drunk out of his hands until his thirst was quenched. It was only when he finished drinking that he thought he saw a snake crawling in the water. He immediately felt sick and wanted to spit out the water he had drunk, but the water would not come out. He became seriously nervous about the water in his stomach, feeling something wriggling in it. He was more than certain that he swallowed the snake. When he got back home he fell seriously ill. Numerous doctors gave him medical treatment, but in vain. Finally, he became nothing but skin and bones, resigning himself to die.

One day a traveler stopped at his home. Seeing the condition of the patient, he asked the reason. The patient told him that he saw a snake crawling in the water of the spring and that he had most certainly swallowed the beast. 

The traveler said that he could cure the illness if the patient would do as he told him to do, taking him to the same spring where he had drunk the water.

He told the patient, who was still bearing the same bow on his back, to take exactly the same pose as he had the first time he was there. The patient reluctantly bent over the water and was just going to scoop it up with his hands when he screamed out, that a snake was crawling in the water again. The man told him to be quiet and to observe the snake more closely. The archer got control of himself and found that what he saw was not a snake, but a reflection of the bow he was carrying on his back.

When the sick archer realized that the snake he thought he had swallowed before was only a reflection of his bow, he felt very relieved and soon regained his health...

We must recognize that our mind is the creator of our world and our fate. Our senses play tricks on our minds and yet, we live in fear of things that are not even there. Just as the dust of fear accumulated on the archer's mind and he become healthy again when he was able to wipe the dust away, we must scrutinize our beliefs that obscure the reality of our existence. Only then we will be able live fulfilled lives.

Image by Chris Tamdjidi

Image source here

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine


Countless volumes were written about the Chinese medical theory and the history of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Ongoing research in China and in the West is testing the efficacy of traditional treatments and the herbs used by the Chinese for many thousands of years. Chinese medicine finds new applications in the treatment of terminal cancer patients. Many chronic disorders that are hopelessly incurable in the West seem to improve considerably with the Chinese approach to disease. This article presents an introduction to a highly developed and complex medical system.
"When the mind is calm and stable, the vitality of life circulates harmoniously throughout the body. If the body is nourished and protected by this circulation of vitality, how can it possibly become ill?" From Huangdi Neijing also known as the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine
 

Chinese Traditional Medicine is one of the oldest systematized medical systems in the world. Its recorded history dates back to about 1,000 BC, but its concepts are much older and deeply rooted in the Chinese culture and the Taoist philosophical thought which originated in China more than 5,000 years ago. It is almost impossible to understand the concepts of Chinese medicine without a rudimentary understanding of the philosophy and cosmology of traditional China where immortality was considered to be the highest purpose of life. The Chinese medical ethics developed around this goal and physicians strove to preserve life and prevent disease. They received payment for as long as the patient remained healthy. 

Human body in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine regards human body holistically as a part of a greater whole. This attitude is based on Taoist philosophy and its understanding of the universe. Just as much as an individual has an effect on his or her environment, the environment in which he or she is immersed, has an influence on the individual. Everything we do has a consequence and manifests itself in the flow of energy. Our actions disturb the harmony in nature within and without. We must strive to restore balance and maintain the equilibrium. Symptoms of disease are seen in the context greater than the patient's body and are understood as a disturbance in the flow of energy. To heal means to restore the balance and harmony. 


The anatomical classification of a human body differs form the classification known to the Western medicine and there is no dichotomy between the body and the mind, and both, physical and mental illness, is regarded as a manifestation of an obstructed energy flow within the body and between the human body and the environment.

Key concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Qi (chi) is one of the most important philosophical concepts in Taoism. Qi literally means air, gas, or breath and is often translated as energy or energy flow. Although not really identical, this concept is often compared to the Greek pneuma or the Indian prana for a better understanding. Qi is the life force that permeates everything that exists in the universe. Obstructions in the flow of qi result in disease and illness. To restore health means to open energy blockages and restore the qi flow in the body.
  • Jing Luo* or meridians are the channels through which the qi energy circulates in the body. Disease occurs when the flow of energy in the meridians is obstructed. Complex techniques were developed to open blockages and restore the flow of energy.
  • San Bao or three treasures are considered to be the three elements sustaining human life. They are the Jing or essence, Qi or energy, and Shen or spirit, soul, or mind. Longevity depends on the properly nurtured body where everything is in balance and the essence jing is abundant. Depleted jing means premature aging, disease, and premature death.
  • Jin Ye or body fluids are generated mostly in the digestive system from the nutrition that enters the body. In the body the fluids undergo multiple transformations until pure fluids are separated from the impure or turbid ones. The pure fluids are transported upwards to the lungs and excreted through the breath. The turbid fluids are transported downwards and excreted through the bladder. Multiple body organs are involved in the transformation of the fluids.
  • Xue or blood is understood as a dense form of body fluids that are under the energizing influence of the qi. Xue does not only flow in the anatomical blood vessels, but also in the meridians because of its relationship with the qi energy. The Chinese developed a very complex theory of blood and its importance to health. Blood provides moisture and nourishment to the organs, bones, tendons, muscles, and the skin. Energized with qi, blood is the foundation for mental activity.
  • Yin Yang represents another ancient concept in Chinese philosophy. Yin and yang are complementary, interdependent aspects of a greater whole. They do not represent duality or dichotomy, although in the West they are often understood as such, but are rather understood as polarities in the non-dualistic Chinese thought. They arise together and the harmony in the universe depends on the balanced flow or interplay between the two forces. In Chinese medicine, health is understood as a perfect balance between the two forces. Because these forces fluctuate constantly, even a healthy body undergoes changes under the influence of the external and the internal environment. Shift in balance is natural. When it becomes pathological it manifests itself as a disease. TCM doctor has to determine the reason for imbalance and bring it back.
  • Wu Xing or the Five Phases also known as the Five Elements, is another concept central in the Chinese thought and was devised to explain the changes in the universe. In the Chinese medicine wu xing correspond with the organs of the body and represent natural cycles and patterns of change where one element affects another causing change in another one. The five elements are: earth, fire, metal, water, wood.
  • Zang Fu* theory divides the body into five zang organs and six fu organs. The zang and fu organs do not exactly represent the anatomical organs in the body, but are rather generalizations of physiology and pathology of associated systems in the human body. The zang organs are responsible for the production and storage of essence: qi, blood, body fluids. The fu organs receive and digest nutrition, absorb nutrients, and eliminate waste. Health is understood as the perfect function and harmonious interplay between the organs. To restore health means to calm overactive systems or to energize those that are failing to function properly.
Diagnosis and treatment of disease

Like in the Western medicine, the Chinese doctors examine their patients, make a diagnosis, prescribe medication and treatment. The anamnesis (or gathering of the case history) involves:
  • pulse diagnosis
  • tongue diagnosis
  • diagnosis of the feces and urine
  • examination of physiognomy
A doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine uses his senses to assess a patient's health. Everything that can be observed is useful for a diagnosis of disorder: skin color and texture, body odor, sound of the voice, breathing, etc. After the diagnosis is made, an adequate medication and treatment will be prescribed to restore the energetic balance within the patients body and with the environment. Medication in TCM is based on the more than 5,000 years old documented tradition. Chinese Materia Medica includes plants, minerals, and body parts of particular animals. A special diet will be suggested as certain foods may be detrimental to the condition of a patient, while others restore the balance and enhance the energy flow in the body.

Practitioner of TCM seeks to cure the symptoms of a disease and to eradicate the cause of it. Herbal medication may be sufficient in some cases, however to restore health, a particular treatment or a combination of treatments will prescribed by the doctor. Treatment may include:
  • Acupuncture is a method of treatment unique to Chinese medicine. It was developed and perfected over thousands of years. Because disease is understood as an obstruction in the flow of qi along the meridians, acupuncture is used to restore the flow and create a balance within the body. To achieve this acupuncturist manipulates the energy flow with the help of thin needles that are inserted into the acupuncture points along the meridians of affected organ system. There are twelve main meridians and 400 acupuncture points that are recognized by the World Health Organization. Depending on the patients condition multiple acupuncture sessions may be necessary to remove the energy blockage.
  • Moxibustion is a treatment in which mugwort herb or moxa is used to warm the area in the vicinity or directly on the acupuncture point in order to stimulate circulation. Depending on the diagnosis, moxibustion is used together with acupuncture to especially treat chronic health problems and health problems associated with aging.
  • Cupping is a therapy in which heated glass cups are applied to the skin in the area where the energy is congested and does not flow properly. The cups create suction and draw the blood into the area. This treatment leaves the patient with dark bruises on the area of application, but is very effective for treating cold and flu as well as muscle injuries and headaches. Bruising depends on the severity of injury or congestion and disappears after a few days after the treatment has been completed.
  • Tui na is a Chinese body work developed to restore the balance in the body. The therapist uses a wide range of massage techniques to manipulate the energy flow in the meridians. Tui na is often used in conjunction with acupuncture.
  • Qi gong is therapy that combines breathing, movement, and meditation. It helps to restore and regulate the flow of qi in the body and to promote overall mental and physical health. The exercises were devised to promote longevity.
  • Five elements nutrition is a diet based on the qualities of certain foods according to the Five elements theory. Depending on his condition, a patient is advised to follow a particular diet and to avoid foods that are detrimental to his condition. Emphasis is put on balance and energetic tendencies of certain foods and their interaction with the body systems.
  • Herbal medicine uses thousands of herbs, minerals, and body parts of certain animals. After a diagnosis is made, Chinese practitioner prescribes the most efficient herb or a formula. Over the millennia, countless standardized formulas were developed to treat diseases and conditions. They are all based on the same energetic principles that underlay Chinese medical theory and are meant to restore balance in the body of the patient. Herbs may be added to food and eaten with stews or soups. They can be drank as teas, used in poultices, as tinctures, or as pills.
Chinese medical system was successfully used for thousands of years in China and other Asian countries where the Chinese established their colonies. It was brought to the West with the influx of Chinese immigrants. Its efficacy is legendary and its popularity is growing. As a holistic system, TCM is not only interested in alleviating the symptoms, but most importantly, it addresses the causes of the disease and seeks to restore balance and modify behaviors that disturb the inner and outer flow of energy. All aspects of existence are being addressed to align the body, mind, and spirit.

By Dominique Allmon

*This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease

Glossary

*Five Zang organs: heart including the pericardium, lungs, liver, slpeen, and kidneys. Six Fu organs: the gall bladder, stomach, large intestine, small intestine, bladder, and sanjiao* which represent three different areas of the body. There are also extraordinary fu organs that include the brain, bones, bone marrow, blood vessels, and uterus. Although they are named fu, their function is similar to that of zang organs.

*Jing luo or Meridians. There are twelve standard meridians and eight extraordinary meridians. The twelve standard meridians extend along the arms and legs. They are divided into yin and yang meridians and are assigned to particular organ systems in the body. The eight extraordinary meridians are not directly associated with the zang fu organs. They are rather described as storage vessels for the qi energy and are of great importance to the cultivation of immortality by the adepts of the esoteric art of Chinese alchemy.

*San jiao or triple warmer or triple burner represents an energetic model of the human body in which the body is divided into three areas. The upper warmer corresponds to the thoracic cavity and is responsible for the respiration. The middle warmer corresponds to the dorsal cavity and is responsible for digestion. Lower warmer corresponds to the lower dorsal cavity and is responsible for elimination. 


Creative Commons License
An Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Year of the Dragon

Year of the Dragon

The symbol of the dragon in Chinese culture is very ancient and dates back to the fifth millennium B.C.

In the Chinese mythology and folklore dragon is an auspicious symbol of power, strength,  good luck, and happiness. In imperial China dragon symbolized imperial power of the Emperor. The throne on which the Emperor sat was called the Dragon Throne.

Dragon is usually portrayed by a long, lizard-like, scaled four legged creature that controls the realm of weather and water and is responsible for rain, floods, and hurricanes. Unlike European dragons Chinese dragons are not evil, but they may be tempestuous and very unpredictable.

Dragon is the fifth of the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac. He is the only creature that is legendary.  

Year 2012 is the year of the Water Dragon or Black Dragon. Water is one of the Five Elements in Chinese philosophy. In the Five Elements system it is represented by the color black. The water element brings such qualities like intelligence and wisdom, flexibility and softness and will calm the normally tempestuous nature of the dragon.

The Chinese geomancers associate Year of the Dragon with new beginning and good fortune. This is a good year to start a business. Any new venture, including marriage, is bound to succeed. People born under this sign are usually very gifted and very lucky.

Those less fortunate who suffered losses and misfortune in the past may expect some positive change. 

But no matter what the predictions for the Year of the Dragon may be, remember that you are the ultimate master of your fate.  

Wishing everyone Happy and Auspicious Chinese New Year - Dominique
  
新 年 快 樂 !

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Green Tea and Weight Loss


Most people understand that in order to lose weight they have to consume fewer calories than they are able to burn off during the day. But unless they exercise daily, it can take a long while to slim down. This is why most people who wish to lose weight are looking for a magic potion or at least a helping hand to speed up the process.

One weight loss aid with overall health benefits is the traditional green tea. Research has demonstrated that green tea has a positive effect on our insulin. It not only helps regulate the insulin levels in our body, but also helps lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides. green tea also has the ability to our metabolism. It makes us burn fat more quickly. Green tea also affect the hunger center in our brains. It switches off the receptors that gives us the urge to eat.

Unlike many other weight loss aids, green tea is a very healthy drink. It contains very potent antioxidants that help keep our bodies healthy and disease free by fighting harmful free radicals. A diet that is rich in antioxidants has been linked to reduced risk of cancer and heart diseases. So green tea will not only help you shed the pounds, but it will help you improve your overall health and protect you from degenerative disease.

So how does green tea work for weight loss? Studies have shown that there are three main fundamental elements in green tea that exert dramatic effects on weight.

Caffeine

Studies demonstrated that caffeine may help dieters to lose weight. However, there is no evidence that mega-doses of caffeine will accelerate weight loss. Green tea contains a much smaller amounts of caffeine than coffee or black tea. Moreover, caffeine in green tea does not appear to have the same detrimental effects as artificially caffeinated products. Green tea does not cause heart palpitations or tremors. It does however help speed up the metabolism. Studies have shown that people on a low calorie diet who include small amounts of caffeine in their diet on a daily basis will lose more weight than those who do not consume any caffeine. Caffeine in green tea, coffee and black tea is more beneficial than synthetically isolated caffeine in caffeinated drinks or caffeine pills.

Catechins

Catechins are polyphenols which display powerful antioxidant activity. They are found not only in green tea, but also in coffee, cocoa, garlic, various fruits, potatoes, and some varieties of nuts. Among the several types of catechins that exist, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) is the most powerful antioxidant, and green tea contains much more EGCg than any other kind of tea, such as black tea, or woolong tea. That's why green tea has received so much attention. Green tea is considered to be a much better source of catechins than black tea because the fermentation process causes some changes the chemical composition of these compounds. Green tea on the other hand, is not fermented and contains catechins in their natural state. Catechins are very beneficial to dieters because they are believed to help suppress lipid (fat) absorption from food. This also helps reduce cholesterol but also helps to combat the build up of body fat.

Theanine

Theanine is the main amino acid found in green tea. Theanine has a natural ability to alter mood and a sense of calm and balance in the body, it helps to release dopamine, the chemical produced by the brain that provides a sense of tranquility in the body. It also minimizes the side effects that caffeine can have on the body, which is why the caffeine found in green tea does not seem to have a great effect. While theanine in itself is not a weight loss aid, it may stop people from stress related overeating. It calms the nerves and induces a relaxed mood.

So if you need to lose weight, try green tea! In a cup or in a capsule.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ameritopia

The Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell

Tyranny, broadly defined, is the use of power to dehumanize the individual and delegitimize his nature. Political utopianism is tyranny disguised as a desirable, workable, and even paradisiacal governing ideology. - Marc Levin

Ameritopia is a new book by the acclaimed author and conservative radio host, Mark Levin.

In his book Levin discusses the Utopian visions of Plato, More, Hobbes and Marx and sketches the historical background of failed societies and their perilous visions of equality.

Each of these thinkers postulated what they believed to be an ideal society. Levin, however, skillfully demonstrates that each one of these ideals was no more than a plain tyranny. In order to achieve the perfect society an individual was stripped of his individual rights and had to submit to the tyrannical rule of a highly centralized government for the sake of the greater good. There hardly was anything noble or romantic about such dehumanizing visions of society.

In the second part of his book Levin discusses John Locke, Charles de Montesquieu, and Alexis de Tocqueville and demonstrates how their principles of liberty influenced the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Levin explains that the skillfully revived Utopian ideology is threatening the liberty loving America that was built upon the philosophy of Locke, Montesquieu, and Tocqueville. The various liberal and socialist movements disseminate ideology that is intellectually and morally spent.

The "shining city on the hill" seems to dwindle with every new rule and regulation imposed by the ever growing central government. The shrinking personal liberties and civil rights are the terrifying signs that something is horribly wrong in the land of the free.

In the year of presidential elections, Ameritopia should be a required reading for all American citizens. 

Dominique Allmon

Healing Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic condition that makes life miserable to those it affects. Some estimates put the direct costs of IBS between $1.7-$10 billion in the United States each year. One study suggests that IBS costs patients $5,049 in out of pocket expenses annually, and 13.8 hours lost per 40 hour work week.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a proof that life is not always fair. While most people live their lives in relative harmony with their gut, IBS strikes victims with pain and discomfort at the worst of times, be it at work, in public or out with friends. Symptoms include:
  • abdominal pain and discomfort
  • bloating
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • irregular bowel movements
Eighty percent of IBS patients are women. And with 14% of the American population complaining of IBS symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome has serious implications, to the patient and the economy. Although irritable bowel syndrome rarely progresses into a dangerous condition, it may be a sign of another, more urgent illness. Coeliac disease, parasitic infections (like giardiasis) and several inflammatory bowel disease are not uncommon in IBS patients.

Four Triggers of IBS

IBS is a highly unique disorder. What sets off irritable bowel syndrome in one patient may
leave another unscathed. Having said that, some causes of IBS are more common than others:
  • Lack of Hydrochloric Acid - Your digestive system is a delicate creature that requires an optimum balance of hydrochloric (stomach) acid and digestive enzymes. Without sufficient stomach acid, many IBS patients experience poor nutrient absorption, develop bacterial and protozoal infections and allergic reactions to partially digested food.
  • Inflammation of the Gastrointestinal System - Another common IBS trigger, inflammation of the GI tract begins an ugly cycle of food allergies, fatigue, toxic substances leaking into the bloodstream and, notably, gas, constipation and diarrhea. Gotta love those.
  • Stress - Studies suggest that up to 60% of IBS patients have a psychological disorder - often anxiety. And more proof that problems of the gut are linked to the brain: 95 per cent of the body's serotonin receptors are located in, you guessed it, the gut.
  • Bad Bacteria - Your gut is home to naturally occurring bacteria. Some, like probiotics, are beneficial. Yet, when dangerous bacteria take over, bad things happen, including IBS. Down the road, dangerous bacteria can cause weight gain, chronic pain and perhaps even cancer.

Treatment for IBS

You can’t cure IBS, but you can minimize its symptoms as part of a comprehensive, long-term ongoing strategy, of the lifestyle, dietary, stress-related, medical and psychological factors that can cause irritable bowel syndrome. The two foundations for this strategy are:
  • Maintain an open, long-term communication with your doctor, and
  • Keep a journal of your IBS symptoms, and its triggers
While it’s tempting to think that diet is the leading cause of irritable bowel syndrome, a variety of factors can cause IBS, including stress, lifestyle habits, even psychological issues. 

Healthy lifestyle habits can reduce IBS symptoms and make it bearable:
  • Exercise – regular walking, running, swimming and other exercises can reduce stress and encourage regular bowel movements.
  • Stress management – a common factor in irritable bowel syndrome is high levels of stress. Meditation, stress management and psychological intervention or counselling can reduce IBS symptoms.
  • Medications – while there is no one-size-fits-all medical treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, some medications can alleviate specific symptoms. Stool softeners and laxatives can encourage comfortable bowel movements and prevent constipation. Oddly enough, some anti-depressants can reduce IBS symptoms, but consult with your doctor before pursuing this route.

The diet connection

Dietary management of irritable bowel syndrome is usually a case-by-case basis, as foods that can trigger IBS in one patient might not affect another, and there’s not enough evidence of foods that cause IBS to craft a generic diet. That said, some foods tend to trigger IBS more than others. Therefore, dietary treatment for irritable bowel syndrome might incorporate the following guidelines:
  • avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • limit intake of fatty foods
  • limit dairy, fruit and artificial sweeteners (if constipation’s a problem)
  • increase daily fiber intake to 20 grams
  • avoid beans, cabbage and uncooked cauliflower and broccoli
Curiously, the countries with the highest rates of irritable bowel syndrome place a large emphasis on spicy foods in their diets. Mexico and Pakistan are among the nations with the highest reported cases of IBS, at 46% and 34% of their populations claiming IBS symptoms respectively. Considering this fact, those who suffer from IBS should consider consumption of mildly spiced food.

Irritable bowel syndrome is an ongoing, yet manageable condition. While it can cause pain and discomfort, remember that it’s rarely dangerous. Watch your triggers closely. Note your symptoms, talk to your doctor, and always seek medical advice if your symptoms change. Take notes, err on the side of caution, and use common sense. More likely than not, it’s not a life-changing problem, and with good planning and a bit of common sense, a minimal one at that.

Article courtesy of Digestive Science website

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dreamlands Beyond the Veils


The key to the hidden lands beyond those veils lies in the letting go of all hope, fear and expectation. The portal opens when one realizes that one no longer needs to seek it and must simply open to that which is already fully present. In that vastness in which nothing is hidden and nothing needs to be revealed, all is transparent, clear, and the doors, in response, open everywhere. - Ian Baker

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Critical Thinking

How can we survive in an increasingly complex world?
How can we survive in an increasingly complex world?

Critical thinking is essential if we are to get to the root of our problems and develop reasonable solutions. After all, the quality of everything we do is determined by the quality of our thinking.

Whereas society commonly promotes values laden with superficial, immediate "benefits," critical thinking cultivates substance and true intellectual discipline. It entails rigorous self-reflection and open mindedness - the keys to significant changes. Critical thinking requires the cultivation of core intellectual virtues such as intellectual humility, perseverance, integrity, and responsibility. Nothing of real value comes easily.

The world is swiftly changing and with each day the pace quickens. The pressure to respond intensifies. New global realities are rapidly working their way into the deepest structures of our lives: economic, social, cultural, political, and environmental realities - realities with profound implications for thinking and learning, business and politics, human rights and human conflicts. These realities are becoming increasingly complex; many represent significant dangers and threats. And they all turn on the powerful dynamic of accelerating change.

We cannot deal with incessant and accelerating change and complexity without revolutionizing our thinking. Traditionally our thinking has been designed for routine, for habit, for automation and fixed procedure. We learned how to do our job once, and then we used what we learned over and over. But the problems we now face, and will increasingly face, require a radically different form of thinking, thinking that is more complex, more adaptable, more sensitive to divergent points of view. The world in which we now live requires that we continually relearn, that we routinely rethink our decisions, that we regularly reevaluate the way we work and live. In short, there is a new world facing us, one in which the power of the mind to command itself, to regularly engage in self-analysis, will increasingly determine the quality of our work, the quality of our lives, and perhaps even, our very survival.

The question of how to survive in the world is a question continually transforming itself. Accelerating change, increasing complexity, and intensifying danger sound the death knell for traditional methods of learning. How can we adapt to reality when reality won’t give us time to master it before it changes itself, again and again, in ways we can but partially anticipate? Unfortunately, the crucial need for ever-new modes of thought to adapt to new problems and situations in new and humane ways is ignored by most cultures and most schools today. Short-term thinking leading to quick-fix solutions still rule the day. Critical thinking is not a social value in any society. Yet critical thinking is essential to dealing effectively with the problems we face and will increasingly face into the future.

Quote source here

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Government's Responsibility


In the last analysis, employment and prosperity are the function and responsibility of private enterprise. It is government’s responsibility to end the harassment, roadblocks, and regressive taxation and to offer, wherever practical, tax incentives that will help to provide jobs and a friendly business climate. - Ronald Reagan at the University of Southern California on April 19, 1966

Image source world wide web

Friday, January 13, 2012

Self-Discipline


"Discipline” is a difficult word for most of us. It conjures up images of somebody standing over you with a stick, telling you that you’re wrong. But self-discipline is different. It’s the skill of seeing through the hollow shouting of your own impulses and piercing their secret. They have no power over you. It’s all a show, a deception. Your urges scream and bluster at you; they cajole; they coax; they threaten; but they really carry no stick at all. You give in out of habit. 

You give in because you never really bother to look beyond the threat. It is all empty back there. There is only one way to learn this lesson, though. The words on this page won’t do it. But look within and watch the stuff coming up - restlessness, anxiety, impatience, pain - just watch it come up and don’t get involved. Much to your surprise, it will simply go away. It rises, it passes away. As simple as that. There is another word for self-discipline. It is patience.

By Henepola Gunaratna 


Thursday, January 12, 2012

You Are the Universe


You are the air you breathe. You are the food you eat. You are every human being. You are every blade of grass. You are every tree, every insect, every mammal. You are every fish and coral and crab. You are every grain of sand. You are every mountain range and grass plain.   You are the oceans. You are all the iron and nickel and silicon in the center of the earth.  In fact, you ARE the earth, intimately intertwined, connected, inseparable.  Every atom and all the cells and minerals and forms that they compose in this hyper-complex system.

You are every photon that hits the earth or leaves it. You are the sun. You are every hydrogen and helium atom, every electron changing energy levels. You are every gamma ray. You are every magnetic loop and filament, every solar flare. You are every little wave of light that has ever left the sun, traveling across the universe.

You are the icecaps of Mars, the storms of Jupiter, and the rings of Saturn. You are dust on asteroids, you are nitrogen ice on Pluto.

You are the suns magnetic field. You are interstellar hydrogen.  You are Alpha Centauri, you are Arcturus. You are Sirius and Procyon and Deneb and Alberio. You are Gilese 581. You are the Orion nebula, you are the Pleiades. You are the every star you can see in the night sky.  Every planet and comet and asteroid and atom that orbits these stars. You are all the stars that you cannot see, but that are still their, boiling with momentous energy. You are White Dwarfs and Red Giants. You are Neutron Stars and Black Holes.

You are The Milky Way Galaxy. You are Globular clusters. You are Andromeda and Triangulum and the Whirlpool galaxy. You are every galaxy. All the stars and planets and atoms and light and particles they contain. All the creation and destruction, all the alternate forms of life, every icy moon and gas giant billions of light years away.

You are every photon and neutrino and proton and neutron traveling in the space between galaxies. You are every quark and boson, graviton and gluon. You are the lonely stars and planets that have been cast out of their galaxies, wandering through nothingness for eternity.  You are electromagnetism. You are gravity. You are the nuclear forces. You are the fabric of space-time itself.

You are the hyper-dense plasma of the beginning of creation. You are the epochs of a thin mist of super-hot hydrogen gas. You are the first stars. You are galaxies forming, solar systems manifesting. You are the sun casting off its outer layers and cooling. You are the last star to form. You are the last proton that evaporates. You are the forever that happens after. You are everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen.

You came inexplicably from a single point. You are growing and expanding. You are a beautiful, four-dimensional self-influencing tapestry. You evolve through many forms. You become more complex over time. You create mechanisms by which you can know yourself. You are so large that everything that can exist, does.

You may think that you are small, that you are separate. This is just an illusion.

You are the cosmos. You are the whole universe. You are everything. You are infinite...

Author unknown but greatly appreciated

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Universal Consciousness


Infinite worlds appear and disappear in the vast expanse of my own consciousness, like motes of dust dancing in a beam of light. - Yoga Vasishtha

Each of us exists as a ripple in the field of conscious intelligence that gives rise to everything in the universe - our bodies, our planet, the stars, the galaxies...

Since we are an inseparable part of this underlying field of intelligence, we are also the source of all reality. In every moment of our existence we are co-creating our world with and in the universe. Everything we will ever know is a result of this creative process that takes place in our minds.

Both, the ancient wisdom traditions and modern science, tell us that our bodies, our minds, and the physical world around us, are projections of our consciousness. Only consciousness is real. Everything else is its projection. For better or for worse.

It is only the veil of illusion, or rather, and more properly, the veil of delusion - known in the ancient yogic tradition  as maya - that keeps us from seeing that everything is pure consciousness. We delude ourselves constantly. We mis-take our own experience for the reality out there. We experience ourselves as separate from all that is.

However, when we pierce this veil, when we begin to finally see through it, we discover that universal consciousness permeates everything. Only then, we will be able to access our own unlimited creative potential.

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon @2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

Healing Properties of Calcite


Cobaltoan calcite

Calcite is a calcium carbonate mineral which forms wide variety of trigonal-rhombohedral crystals. There are actually more than three hundred crystalline forms of calcite. 

The name "calcite" derives from the Greek word "chalix" which means lime. Calcite can be found in sedimentary rocks, especially limestone and its metamorphic equivalent - marble. It can also be found in some volcanic rocks such as carnonatite. Calcite is also a building block of egg shells and the shells of invertebrate organisms.

Calcite crystals are transparent to opaque and may occasionally be phosphorescent or fluorescent. A transparent variety called Iceland spar known for its strong double refraction and perfect cleavage has been used for optical purposes since the 17th century. Acute scalenohedral crystals are sometimes referred to as dogtooth spar while the rhombohedral form is sometimes called nailhead spar.

Dogtooth calcite

Calcite is easily found. The largest deposits are found in USA, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Iceland, Peru, and Brazil.

It comes in variety of colors. It can be white, pink, gray, blue, green, orange, red, black, or colorless. Its color depends on the content of various minerals during the crystallization process.

In esoteric circles calcite is regarded as a fire stone with an amazing ability to cleanse and purify. It is an excellent healing stone. It can be used to purify the aura and to align the chakras. For this purpose calcite crystals of different colors should be placed accordingly on the corresponding energy centers. Healing properties of calcite depend on the color of the particular crystal used in chakra therapy.


Calcite is known to dispel negative energy and to amplify the good one. This quality is very useful during astral travel and channeling as calcite enhances memory of the experience. 

This mineral helps establish connection between emotions and the rational mind. It promotes creativity and imagination, facilitates insight and learning, and helps crystallize and realize ideas.

Golden Calcite on Dolostone from Tennessee

It is a stone of confidence. It helps reduce stress, pacify the mind, and dispel fear. Lazy people or those who lost hope or motivation find new energy to follow their path. 

On the physical plane calcite is believed to enhance elimination of toxins from the body. It speeds up the healing process and soothes troubled skin. It may enhance the immune system and alleviate ailments of the digestive tract. It may also enhance the absorption of calcium. Calcite elixir is very effective in healing various skin conditions. It can be directly applied to warts, boils, or to festering sores.

Calcite is a very beautiful mineral that brings light to any space. It increases the energy flow and can be used to clear negativity from the environment. Stagnant energy begins to flow again. 

By Dominique Allmon 

*This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

         



Creative Commons License
Healing Properties of Calcite by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Adaptogens - From Russia with Love


Health Benefits of Siberian Ginseng, Chaga, and Rhodiola

Herbal Tradition in Russia

The use of herbs in Russia dates back many centuries. On the one hand, herbs were used in traditional folk medicine and by the shamans, on the other, herbal medicine was introduced to Russia by the Byzantine Empire together with the Orthodox Christianity. The early herbal tradition is not very well documented and it seems that by the early 16th century the healers in Russia experienced the same difficulty as did their brothers in trade in Western Europe. The Church condemned any use of herbs in healing. By the end of the 16th, however, many monasteries established herb gardens and revived the ancient Greek and Roman herbal recipes.

The Russian expansion to the Far East gave the herbal healers and doctors access to herbs and medicinal plants that were traditionally used by the native folks living in the steppe of Asia and in Siberia. Some of these plants were highly valued by the Chinese who incorporated them into their Materia Medica.

With time, the Russians developed a rich herbal tradition that uses hundreds of herbs, some of which grow only in the Russian territory. Today, herbalism is a highly regarded healing art in Russia. Herbs are widely researched and well understood. Most medical schools offer courses in herbal medicine and treatment of diseases usually includes pharmaceutical drugs, herbs and natural therapies such as massage and cupping.

A serious, scientific research of certain herbs began in 1947 when a Russian pharmacologist, Nikolai Lazarev observed that some of the herbs and plants were traditionally used as tonics in Siberia and the Russian Far East. These tonics were used to alleviate fatigue after long periods of exertion. Very often, these tonics were used before the taxing activity to increase endurance.

Dr. Lazarev coined the term "adaptogen" to describe the properties of these particular herbs. An adaptogen is a substance that is supposed to help the body better cope with stress, either mental or physical. Although botanically unrelated, all herbs researched by Dr. Lazarev and his followers had one important quality - they were all able to modulate the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.

Adaptogen research was taken to the next level by Lazarov's student, Dr. Berkhman who conducted wide ranging experiments and later prescribed  them to the Cosmonauts and the Russian Olympic athletes who were able to produce extraordinary results.

There are many healing plants in Russia, but probably the best known in the West are the Siberian ginseng, Rhodiola, and Chaga. Their efficacy was confirmed by the research in the West, but as with other potent herbs a caution is advised as some herbs may interfere with other medication.

Siberian Ginseng

Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), also known as eleuthero, has been used for centuries in Russia for centuries to prevent colds and flu, to increase stamina, and to prolong the lifespan. Despite its name, Siberian ginseng in not related to panax ginseng.

Studies conducted in Russia demonstrated that eleuthero stimulates the immune system. It is not only useful in warding off cold and flu, but also in reducing the duration of infection and the severity of symptoms. Its efficacy was also tested on people with herpes simplex infections. The herb is capable of reducing the duration and frequency of herpes simplex outbreaks.

Siberian ginseng is a well known and widely used adaptogen. It helps reduce stress and improve concentration and memory. It also helps reduce chronic fatigue. The herb is also used by physically active people to increase energy and physical performance.

Siberian ginseng supplements are made from the root which contains the active components called eleutherosides. Eleutherosides are responsible for the therapeutic effects. The root is also rich in polysaccharides which were demonstrated to improve the immune function and to lower the sugar levels in serum. Siberian ginseng is available in form of tinctures, dry extract, bulk powder, as capsules or tablets, and as a dried, sliced root that can be used to prepare infusions.

The recommended daily dose is 100 - 200mg  of standardized extract or 500 - 3000mg of root taken in form of infusion. Siberian ginseng is not recommended for children.

Chaga

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) also known as birch fungus, grows in the Northern part of Russia on birch, beech, and alder trees with the best specimens coming from the cold climate of Siberia. The medicinal chaga is harvested from birch trees.

The primary active compounds in Siberian Chaga are triterpenes, sterols, saponins, and polysaccharides.

It is used to stimulate the immune system and improve metabolism. This fungus also stimulates the central nervous system as well as the cardiovascular and the endocrine systems. It helps with respiration and digestion. It regulates blood sugar and lowers blood pressure. Chaga contains large amounts of the antioxidant SOD enzyme. It is also rich in betulinic acid which has very strong anti-cancer properties. It inhibits the growth of tumors and slows down the development of metastases in the body. Chaga is a very powerful antioxidant. It has the highest ORAC value ever measured.

Chaga can be taken as tincture or as a powder mixed in a non-alcoholic liquid. As with other herbs, there is no established daily dose. Healthy people should take 200 - 300mg of powdered extract for disease prevention. Sick people should take higher doses in order to stimulate their immune system. The suggested amount is 700 - 1000mg daily.

Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola rosea also known as golden root, is a Siberian herb with a very long history of therapeutic use. The main active compound is called rosavin. This herb is thought to strengthen the nervous system, improve mood, enhance immune system, increase endurance, enhance memory, aid weight reduction, increase sexual function, and improve energy levels. It has long been known and used as a potent adaptogen.

Rhodiola is used traditionally to prevent cold and flu and to increase physical performance. The herb is also capable of reducing mental stress and chronic fatigue. It is also successfully used to alleviate depression and fatigue syndrome.

Research shows that rhodiola rosea can shorten recovery time after prolonged physical exertion. The plant extract increases the level of RNA as well as the enzymes and proteins important to muscle recovery after exhaustive physical activity. It stimulates glycogen synthesis in muscles and liver.

Rhodiola also demonstrated some anti-tumor activity as it stimulates the immune system and the body's resistance to toxins.

Rhodiola can be taken as a tonic or in form of capsules. There is no established daily dose, but for the best results it is suggested to take 300 - 500mg of full spectrum herb.

Conclusion

These three herbs from the Russian Far East are well researched and show very good therapeutic results. They are powerful adaptogens and immune system modulators. A caution is advised as the active ingredients may interact with certain drugs. Please contact your health care provider before commencing self medication.

By Dominique Allmon


*This information is for educational purpose only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

Creative Commons License

From Russia with Love - Health Benefits of Siberian Ginseng, Chaga, and Rhodiola by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Agent Orange

Agent Orange dozing off in a bathroom sink

If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow,  but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much. - Mark Twain

Generally, felines are considered to be more graceful than dogs. I can imagine that the above quote describes most of the cats, but definitely not this young orange tabby sleeping in the bathroom sink. The only time he is gracefully quiet is when he is asleep. Other than that he is rather vocal. He loves adventure and always has much to say... Laud. Very laud. And quite outspoken.

Dominique Allmon

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year in Japan

New Year's ceremony at the Sensoji temple in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, Japan
New Year's ceremony at the Sensoji temple, Asakusa district of Tokyo, Japan

Like every year, on January 2, 2021 Japanese Emperor Akihito delivered a New Year's address to his nation. In his speech Emperor Akihito has expressed his hope for Japan’s recovery from disasters that devastated the island nation last year.

The emperor appeared on a bullet-proof balcony of the Imperial Palace with his family. He told throngs of well-wishers he shares in the nation’s pain over the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and hoped for the country’s recovery.

“I pray for the recovery of the disaster areas to continue and I hope that this year will be a better year for each and every citizen.”

Japan’s northeast coast was struck by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, the strongest quake on record in Japan, and a massive tsunami that triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis since a reactor meltdown in Chernobyl, Ukraine, twenty five years earlier.

Procession of Shinto Priesthood
Procession of Shinto priesthood

Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami left nearly 20,000 people dead or missing. In his New Year’s speech, Emperor Akihito said he felt sorrow for those who died in last year’s disaster, as well as those who were forced from their homes because of the nuclear crisis that followed.

“There are great concerns for the people who are still going through hardships from the disaster. As the rebuilding of the affected areas continue, it is my wish that this year will be a better year for each and every person of this nation.”

The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant went into meltdown after the tsunami destroyed back-up generators. Government officials have announced that the plant is now in a stable state known as “cold shutdown.” But experts say it could take decades to fully clean up and decommission the plant.

Southern Japan was hit by a magnitude 7.0 quake Sunday that caused buildings in Tokyo to sway, but there were no reports of injuries or damage, and no tsunami warning was issued as the events occurred unexpectedly. 

Article source here

 * * *

The year 2011 was marked by series of natural disasters, weak if not disastrous economy, and by a wave of social and political unrest that spread throughout the world. We were literally bombarded every day by bad news. 

With the beginning of the new year many people around the world hope for some positive change. Big hopes are harbored in spite of the predictions made by economists worldwide.  

As most people struggle with their own fate, the victims of the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami begin to fade out from our collective memory. But they are not yet quite forgotten. It will take many years to restore normality in the affected area. And it will take even longer to heal all the emotional wounds caused by this disaster. We can only wish them strength for the years to come. 

Dominique Allmon

Are You Prepared to Design the Future?


By Jacque Fresco

Although many of us feel we can prepare for our future by thinking, acting, and learning using present methods and values, nothing is farther from the truth - especially in today’s rapidly changing world. A newborn child enters a world not of his or her own making. Each succeeding generation inherits the values, accomplishments, hopes, successes, and failings of previous generations. And they inherit the results of the decisions made by those generations.

For the hundreds of thousands of years of human existence when technologies were simple or non-existent, this may have had little impact on human life and the earth that sustains it. Each generation of hunters and gatherers, then plowmen and pioneers, passed on tools to the next generation to help them survive. Change from one generation to the next was slow and hardly noticeable. In those days there was little understanding of science and how things worked, and explanations were not scientific.

This is no longer the case in today’s high-tech world where a change that affects millions may happen in a matter of seconds. A child born today inherits a world vastly different from that of its parent’s generation, let alone that from centuries ago. Previous generations left a legacy of, exploitation, occupation, and irrelevant values that present great challenges, but also opportunities to the people of today.

The application of scientific principles, for better or worse, accounts for every single advance that has improved people’s lives. Important documents and proclamations have been issued granting rights and privileges to members of societies, but at the heart of human progress - or destruction - is the rock-solid foundation of science.

The future does not just happen. Except for natural events like earthquakes, it comes about through the efforts of people and is determined largely by how well informed people are. You can play a role in the shaping of tomorrow’s world by asking yourself questions like, “What kind of world do I want to live in?” and “What does democracy mean to me?” There are many other options of organization for the future than those typically discussed today.

Here is a scenario for you to consider: Suppose you were called upon to redesign planetary civilization without any limitations based on how things are done today. The goal is to help rid the world of war, poverty, hunger, and environmental degradation, and to create the best world for all inhabitants, given the resources at hand, for the longest period of time.

Remember, you are free to rearrange society in any way you think will work. The only limitation is that your social design must factor in the carrying capacity of the planet, which means the resources have to be sufficient to support life on the planet.

You can rearrange the entire civilization to make what you consider the best of all possible worlds, bearing in mind that any unmet need for any segment of the population reduces the standard of living for all. This may include not only environmental protection, but also city design, transportation, interpersonal relationships and the restructuring of education, if you feel it is necessary.