Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Choose Goodness

By Ralph Marston

The time you spend living in fear is time you cannot spend living in love. The time you spend hiding and retreating from life is time you cannot spend growing and advancing and achieving. 

The hours and days you spend being annoyed or frustrated are times when you deny yourself access to life’s best possibilities. When you live in anger and resentment, you cut yourself off from life’s goodness. 

Sure, there are many bad things that can happen. Yet you can be aware of them, and realistic about them, without being obsessed and consumed by them. 

You may very well have good reasons for resentment, frustration and anger. But that doesn’t mean those negative responses are good for you, or that you must choose them. 

You can choose instead to live in the enriching, empowering light of your own highest visions. You can always choose to grow, to achieve, and to fulfill by immersing your awareness in life’s ever-present goodness. 

Every aspect of your life is greatly influenced, day in and day out, by the way you imagine life to be. Imagine the best, choose the goodness, and be a source of love and light for all to see. 

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

 Chia seeds

Chia seeds seem to be in everybody's mouth now, but this fame did not come overnight. There is a 16th century written record that chia, or Salvia Hispanica, was cultivated by Aztecs in the pre-Columbian era. It has been suggested by the historians that chia were as important a crop for the Aztecs as was the corn. 

To this day the plant is cultivated in Mexico and Guatemala where it is an important source of nutrition. 

Botanically, chia is a member of the mint family. The seeds are either black or white and are easily digested. They do not have to be ground in order to be consumed.   

The tiny seeds of the plant Salvia hispanica are one of the most nutritious superfoods known to us. They are an excellent source of 
  • complete protein
  • soluble and insoluble fiber
  • antioxidants
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • vitamins A, C, E, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, folate, and B12
  • minerals such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, boron, strontium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and zinc
Because of their nutrient content chia seeds have many important health benefits:
  • Chia seeds support digestion, detoxification and elimination. They are high in fiber and have the ability to swell up in the intestine. They soothe and lubricate the colon and help strengthen peristaltic action thus improving elimination. Mucin in chia also helps reduce inflammation of the digestive tract.
  • Chia seeds are great for weight loss and weight maintenance. Improved digestion and elimination are important for anyone who is trying to lose weight. But chia are also rich in essential fatty acids that directly contribute to weight loss as they boost metabolism and help build lean muscles. They are nutrient dense but, at the same time, very law in calories. Chia seeds can also give a prolonged feeling of satiation as they can absorb water nine times their own weight. Simply soak chia seeds in water for 15-20 minutes and drink the mixture between the meals.
  • Thanks to their law glycemic index chia seeds help stabilize blood glucose. Research shows that chia has the capacity to slow dawn the rate at which complex carbohydrates are digested and assimilated into the body. The soluble fiber in chia helps stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent glucose spikes. 
  • Chia seeds can improve cardiovascular health. They help reduce high blood pressure and have slightly blood thinning properties thus preventing dangerous blood clots. They can lower harmful LDL cholesterol and reduce triglycerides in the blood. At the same time they help increase the levels of good HDL cholesterol. 
  • Chia seeds have strong anti-inflammatory properties. They bring relief to people suffering from inflammation as the highly concentrated Omega-3 fatty acids convert into inflammation-fighting and pain-relieving prostaglandins. Moreover, Omega-3 fatty acids provide lubrication to painful joints. Studies demonstrated that people who consumed ca. 40 grams of chia seeds daily had significantly lower levels of the C-reactive protein - a blood protein that indicates chronic inflammation in the body.
  • The essential fatty acids in chia seeds help improve brain health and cognition. They make the cell membranes more flexible which allows better saturation with nutrients and better transmission of impulses between the cells. 
  • Chia seeds are an amazing source of energy. Already the ancient Aztec warriors used chia seeds to build up strength help, sustain energy and maintain hydration for long distance journeys on foot. Now athletes use chia to optimize physical performance, regulate hydration and maintain energy levels during intense workouts.
  • Chia seeds, especially the dark variety, are very rich in antioxidants. They contain high levels of chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol, and vitamins C and E. All these compounds are strong free radical scavengers and act both, individually and synergistically, to prevent oxidation.
As you can see, the tiny chia seeds are quite amazing. Anyone who wishes to delay aging and improve his health should eat chia on daily basis. They are gluten free and therefore perfectly suited for people with sensitivity or allergy to gluten. 

Chia seeds store very well. High levels of vitamin C and E and the cinnamic acid in chia seeds prevent the seeds from turning rancid.  

 The seeds have a slightly nutty flavor. They can be sprinkled on salads, added to a morning cereal, yogurt, puddings and smoothies, or used in baking recipes. They are easily digested and do not have to be ground, but you can grind them to a fine meal if you want to. 

When buying chia seeds make sure you are buying a superior, organic product. 

By Dominique Allmon

Recipe suggestion: Raspberry Chia Smoothie

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

Creative Commons License
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I’ve felt myself changed simply walking 
into shade along a street; I’ve come suddenly 
upon the scent of snapdragon or heard 
a distant car crash and found my every thought 
stalled at the gate.  And when I read 
that honeybees are dying in thousands, 
an epidemic no one can explain, I wondered, 
Have I forgotten something?  Who am I now? 
There are theories, there are whole histories passing away, 
but I can’t describe them.  So, from the next table, 
bits of conversation break into my soliloquy 
or my neighbor’s phone rings through the walls 
and I join a dialogue with a stranger.  To call any of it 
a change of scenery or costume is to misunderstand. 
The world is not a stage and the honeybee 
is not the soul it once symbolized.  This is why 
I’m fascinated by bricked-in windows, 
old tenement buildings throughout Jersey City 
with their view closed up, so I daydream 
about who, on a hot summer day, leaned on that sill 
breathing in the confusion of car fumes and flowers, 
himself daydreaming until his elbows ached 
and he remembered there was a clogged drain 
in the bathroom and he turned back, 
pausing for his eyes to adjust to the dark room.

By Michael T. Young 

First published in The Louisville Review, No. 68

To visit Mr. Young's website please click here
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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Interdependent Origination

The Buddhas of Pak Ou Cave, Laos

By Ajahn Chah

In Buddhism, the primary reason we study the Dhamma (the Truth) is to find the way to transcend suffering and attain peace. Whether you study physical or mental phenomena, the citta (mind or consciousness) or cetasika (mental factors), it is only when you make liberation from suffering your ultimate goal, rather than anything else, that you will be practicing in the correct way. This is because suffering and its causes already exist right here and now.

As you contemplate the cause of suffering, you should understand that when that which we call the mind is still, it’s in a state of normality. As soon as it moves, it becomes sankharasankhara;sankhara. If there is desire to go here and there, it is sankhara. As long as you are not mindful of these sankharas, you will tend to chase after them and be conditioned by them. Whenever the mind moves, it becomes sammuti-sankhara - enmeshed in the conditioned world - at that moment. And it is these sankharas - these movements of the mind - which the Buddha taught us to contemplate. When attraction arises in the mind, it is when aversion arises, it is

Whenever the mind moves, it is aniccam (impermanent), dukkham (suffering) and anatta (not-self). The Buddha taught us to observe and contemplate this. He taught us to contemplate sankharas which condition the mind. Contemplate them in light of the teaching of paticcasamuppada (Dependent Origination): avijja (ignorance) conditions sankhara (karmic formations); sankhara conditions viññana (consciousness); viññana conditions nama (mentality) and rupa (materiality); and so on.

You have already studied and read about this in the books, and what’s set out there is correct as far as it goes, but in reality you’re not able to keep up with the process as it actually occurs. It’s like falling out of a tree: in a flash, you’ve fallen all the way from the top of the tree and hit the ground, and you have no idea how many branches you passed on the way down. When the mind experiences an arammana (mind-object) and is attracted to it, all of a sudden you find yourself experiencing a good mood without being aware of the causes and conditions which led up to it. Of course, on one level the process happens according to the theory described in the scriptures, but at the same time it goes beyond the limitations of the theory. In reality, there are no signs telling you that now it’s avijja, now it’s sankhara, then it’s viññana, now it’s nama-rupa and so on. These scholars who see it like that, don’t get the chance to read out the list as the process is taking place. Although the Buddha analysed one moment of consciousness and described all the different component parts, to me it’s more like falling out of a tree – everything happens so fast you don’t have time to reckon how far you’ve fallen and where you are at any given moment. What you know is that you’ve hit the ground with a thud, and it hurts!

What takes place in the mind is similar. Normally, when you experience suffering, all you really see is the end result, that there is suffering, pain, grief and despair present in the mind. You don’t really know where it came from – that’s not something you can find in the books. There’s nowhere in the books where the intricate details of your suffering and it’s causes are described. The reality follows along the same course as the theory outlined in the scriptures, but those who simply study the books and never get beyond them, are unable to keep track of these things as they actually happen in reality.

Thus the Buddha taught to abide as ‘that which knows’ and simply bear witness to that which arises. Once you have trained your awareness to abide as ‘that which knows’, and have investigated the mind and developed insight into the truth about the mind and mental factors, you’ll see the mind as anatta (not-self).

You’ll see that ultimately all mental and physical formations are things to be let go of and it’ll be clear to you that it’s foolish to attach or give undue importance to them.

The Buddha didn’t teach us to study the mind and mental factors in order to become attached to them, he taught simply to know them as aniccam, dukkham, anatta. The essence of Buddhist practice then, is to let them go and lay them aside. You must establish and sustain awareness of the mind and mental factors as they arise. In fact, the mind has been brought up and conditioned to turn and spin away from this natural state of awareness, giving rise to sankhara which further concoct and fashion it. It has therefore become accustomed to the experience of constant mental proliferation and of all kinds of conditioning, both wholesome and unwholesome. The Buddha taught us to let go of it all, but before you can begin to let go, you must first study and practice. This is in accordance with nature – the way things are. The mind is just that way, mental factors are just that way – this is just how it is.

 By Ajahn Chah in Key to Liberation

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