Monthly Archives: October 2011

Take care of your tootsies

My cousin hates feet, as many people do. They find them rather repulsive and unattractive. Then there are others who find feet (at least, feminine, petite feet) to be erotic and exquisite.

Regardless of whether the aesthetics inspire you with pride, shame or indifference, you should show your feet a lot of love.

Most modern Americans encase their feet in socks and shoes all day every day and don’t give much thought to them. But, reflexology — which is, unsurprisingly, called a ‘pseudoscience’ by western medicine — teaches us that our feet are maps of our bodies. Therefore, by rubbing and stimulating certain parts of the foot, you can benefit the corresponding body part; enhance circulation; revitalize neural connections; and release tension and blocked energy. And of course, it just feels amazing.

Walking barefoot also naturally massages the bottom of the feet (if you are on the sand or on the grass or dirt) and provides beneficial energy from the earth (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XumPQLTzPWI).

My great aunt used to say that you could tell a person’s state of health by their feet (and once correctly deduced my mother was pregnant when she touched a certain spot on her foot and my mom jumped in pain). So if your feet are soft, warm and pink, you are probably enjoying great health. If you suffer from callouses and other problems, you might want to consider detoxing.

Try soaking your feet in epsom salts or in ion detox foot baths. At the very least, treat yourself to a pedicure or massage with essential oils.

Good health starts in the feet

By Chen Yujin (Shanghai Star. 2004-04-01)

THERAPEUTIC massage has a long history in China, and one of the most interesting forms of treatment is foot massage.

Chinese traditional medicine theory holds that as a tree has roots, so humans have their feet; roots perish before the tree dies and feet shrivel ahead of human aging. Therefore, foot massage is regarded as the most efficient way to keep the body healthy and stay young.

“Each part of the foot is reputedly linked to another, often distant, part of the body, with the influence extending not only to the muscles but also to the vital organs as well,” according to Li Zhiqin, a member of the China Foot Reflexology Association and general manager of the Shanghai Kangmeng Health Product Co Ltd.


What dreams may come

Ever since I was a teenager, I have been fascinated with the nature of dreams. Did you know that scientists still don’t know exactly why we dream? It remains largely a mystery. Sometimes it feels just like your brain is a computer that needs to be recalibrated, refreshed and reset. Other times, you remember a vivid dream that feels significant. I often check out dream interpretations to decipher symbols … and they often make perfect sense.

Apparently if you make a habit of writing your dreams down right after you wake up, you will begin to remember them better and to have more vibrant and involved dreams. I am going to try this out and see if my dreams have any messages for me — perhaps in conjunction with meditating and praying.

Check out 99 amazing facts about dreams. Aren’t flying dreams the best?

Two amazing documentaries

Last week I watched two documentaries that recently became available to view instantly on Netflix. Burzynski is about a doctor who discovered a potent, non-toxic cure for cancer — and was prosecuted for it by the FDA.

2012: Time for a Change was riveting. It interviews various scholars, scientists and deep, spiritually attuned thinkers to propose an alternate civilization, one where humans, nature and animals can thrive harmoniously. It’s a must see!

Doing it at work

Okay, it’s nothing too exciting. In fact, it is the ultimate in nerdiness: For the past few days, I’ve been listening to and half-watching documentaries while I work and on my lunch break.

I found a site, documentaryheaven.com, that streams them for free. They may not have the latest or the best (Who Killed The Electric Car? for example, teases you with five minutes — I had to order it via Netflix). But there is a tantalizing amount of knowledge at the ready, and it’s nice to take a break from Kanye West and your coworkers’ inane conversations and feed your brain for a bit.

Today I watched Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance,  which pairs affecting images (endless traffic patterns, zombie crowds, the organic splendor of nature contrasted with deadened industrial zones and overdevelopment, the Challenger spacecraft explosion) with haunting music by Phillip Glass; tonal chants of a Hopi prophecy complete the powerful montage. The prophecy, by the way, points to nuclear annihilation. The term “Koyaanisqatsi” means crazy life, life in turmoil, life out of balance, life disintegrating, a state of life that calls for another way of living.

The other I saw today is The Denial Machine, a fascinating, objectively presented, easy-to-understand explanation of the propaganda war on global warming. Watch it and decide for yourself who are the bad guys, and who the good.

What can we do?

Occupy Wall Street has made it. It’s popular. Talked about. A big hit.

I’ve been following it since the first people got arrested on September 17, back when no one had heard about it and no one knew where it would go. The people in Zuccotti Park and in public spaces all over the world should be commended for their willingness to camp out, to get out there and risk arrest. You can follow their progress here and admire their official declaration of demands here.

So where does that leave those of us who are lame enough to still be sitting comfortably at home, indulging in hot showers and dutifully showing up to work every day (like me)?

Well, you can find a protest nearby at occupytogether.org and participate in the big march on October 29th called for at adbusters.org. But you can also do something just as fundamental and far-reaching — take a critical look at your daily life and how you could be perpetuating the problems we face.

Of course, none of us are to blame for the major economic and environmental crises. But perhaps we can reevaluate the way we spend and consume, the corporations we feed (are they environmentally responsible? Where do they get their labor and products? Where do they dump their waste?). We can consider not patronizing the big-name financial institutions that may be, in part, culpable. We can be more conscious of how the proliferation of advertising (the average American is exposed to approximately 3000 ads a day) is affecting the way we spend our lives.

We can choose to walk and bike rather than drive everywhere; to buy local; to choose physical activity, activism, arts and culture over passively watching a screen. We can choose to recycle and to educate ourselves. And to do more than we are now; to do as much as we can.

Are you a conditioned consumer?

I, until very recently was (and probably somewhat still am).

Imagine that you were born in a completely different time and place. Ancient Rome. 19th century England. Or that you lived now somewhere in Africa or the Amazon rainforest. You would have a completely different worldview, set of beliefs, and method of interacting and operating.

So consider that your own mentality and behaviors are not necessarily ‘reality’ or ‘right’; they are partly a result of your immediate environment, the time and place you were born, and your upbringing.

I was raised as a typical upper middle class American, Generation Y. Being such, I was raised to shop, to acquire, and to always want more. We lived in a big house with multiple cars, and we were always (or at least the females in the family; the males concentrated on dirtbikes, boats, model planes and the like) seeking out new decor items, new dishes, and most of all new clothes, shoes, purses and beauty products. IT WAS OUR DRUG.

We are trained to believe we need, on some level, all of these things. And that, therefore, money, and credit, is paramount in life. The scary thing was, none of it was ever enough. Like an addict, it was difficult for me to walk by a storefront display or set foot inside the mall or Target without greedily surveying the wares. Once seen, I had to touch and try on. And if it met my approval, I had to have it.

I had bought completely into planned obsolescence. Last semester’s clothes were not good enough. There was still an empty corner yet to fill, a new lipstick to try, the latest accessory to have.

Not to disparage, at all, my hardworking and generous parents. My mother was the daughter of a much-absent, paycheck-to-paycheck single mother and my father was a Cuban immigrant who also came from a low-income household. They worked their way up and achieved much; the children of Boomers, they came of age in the ’70s and became  young parents in the ’80s. Before the ’50s, people lived much differently. Cheap mass production had yet to fuel the economic boom. And my parents, as I said, worked for years to amass what they had and would give me anything they could, which I deeply appreciate.

But over the past couple years — first out of financial necessity, and now out of greater understanding — I have broken the cycle, shattered the spell, and have seen the whole situation with a new perspective. Now stuff just clutters up the small space I have, rapidly depreciates in value (headed for Craigslist, the trash or the Salvation army), or, worse yet, costs me money to store in a storage unit.

Feng shui teaches us that you are in the best state of mind with minimal clutter, your house filled with only that is useful or truly beautiful. Who hasn’t faced a closet, box or garage filled with ‘crap’ that was once a necessity, and cringed at the overwhelming mess and disorder? Oh, and moving time! Oh, the cumulative crush!

Beyond being expensive, frivolous, distracting and wasteful, this sort of behavior/mentality is downright destructive. Destructive because it destroys natural resources to create all these silly products, and destructive because many of them end up in landfills or garbage patches in the ocean; plastic can last infinitely, by decomposing only into tiny pieces which then can be consumed by sea creatures — and then by us.

It also just feels so much better to live simpler, cleaner and smarter. To not buy into all the advertising (you need far less beauty products than you think!) To mend and repair instead of to throw away and buy new. To say ‘F U’ to the system, the crazed crowds trampling into Best Buy on Black Friday. To do more with less. To be frugal. Your mind is more clear, your pride and identity more intact, your time more free, your house more clean, your transitions that much easier, and your conscience that much more calm.

Could you be just as happy or happier with less? What experiences would you trade for the things you now own? Do you regret going into debt? Can you imagine yourself living in a tiny cottage if it, though humble, had a beautiful view and a garden and your life was filled with meaning and fulfillment? Would you choose to work less hours, be less “well off” but enjoy your precious time more? Do you feel the need to compete with the Joneses?

Watch The Lightbulb Conspiracy to learn more about how we are manipulated by the system into buying more, more, more (this focuses on planned obsolescence, but mass advertising, which is omnipresent, is its partner in crime).

And consider the words of a Romantic, William Wordsworth. Imagine his lament if he were to see the state of things today!

“THE WORLD IS TOO MUCH WITH US; LATE AND SOON”

          THE world is too much with us; late and soon,
          Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
          Little we see in Nature that is ours;
          We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
          The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
          The winds that will be howling at all hours,
          And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
          For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
          It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
          A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;                         10
          So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
          Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
          Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
          Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
                                                              1806.

Gross National Happiness

Earlier this week, a royal marriage occurred in Bhutan between a forward-thinking, down-to-earth young King and a naturally gorgeous, young student. I love their ultra-colorful, vibrant wedding filled with meaningful traditions.

Upon researching Bhutan, I found that they do not measure Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but rather Gross National Happiness. What an amazing, refreshing departure from how many ‘modern’ civilizations operate. What an even more progressive, holistic way to view a country’s goals and place in the world.

They currently rank as the 8th most happiness nation in the world, and are committed to protecting their environment and rich heritage.

“The Bhutanese grounding in Buddhist ideals suggests that beneficial development of human society takes place when material andspiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other. The four pillars of GNH are the promotion ofsustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment ofgood governance. At this level of generality, the concept of GNH is transcultural—a nation need not be Buddhist in order to value sustainable development, cultural integrity, ecosystem conservation, and good governance. Through collaboration with an international group of scholars and empirical researchers the Centre for Bhutan Studies further defined these four pillars with greater specificity into eight general contributors to happiness- physical, mental and spiritual health; time-balance; social and community vitality; cultural vitality; education; living standards; good governance; and ecological vitality. Although the GNH framework reflects its Buddhist origins, it is solidly based upon the empirical research literature of happiness, positive psychology and wellbeing.”

The above was taken from a Wikipedia article that is based off of many well-documented sources. It goes on to discuss the flaws inherent in the GDP-model and suggests seven better ways to discuss a country’s well-being (economic, environmental, physical, mental, workplace, social and political).

Bhutan may be small and technically ‘weak’, but it looks like the U.S. could learn a lot from this  spiritually powerful, culturally rich and colorfully diverse little country.

Navigating the modern terrain

It is so frustratingly — and dangerously — difficult to bike in many modern American cities. Bike-friendly cities do exist, but most U.S. cities are designed for cars. Including Miami. And if you attempt to ride a bike, you run the risk of getting hit and mauled.

Walking too, is an interesting experience. You walk through parking lots of big box stores, across busy intersections, breathing heavy fumes. And besides the beach, you are hardpressed to find anywhere you can go barefoot.

Here is a New York Times article explaining how shoes are unnatural and hurt our feet and how walking barefoot is beneficial, and another Care2 article discussing grounding.

It is sad that we have so few opportunities to connect with the earth through our feet and to get anywhere without getting in a gas-guzzling, carbon-monoxide-producing, impersonal vehicle.

In non-U.S. cities, the streets are full of life. Yes, they may be not as clean, shiny and new. Getting what you want may not be quite as sterile, 24-7, predictable and convenient. But the experience is rich; sensory; satisfying; stimulating; real. You meet and kiss the cheek of a stranger. Stop for afternoon tea in an outdoor cafe. Stumble upon interesting, locally owned shops full of unique and rare finds. Admire old-world architecture. A sudden soccer game erupts in a plaza as old men watch from a bench. Outdoor markets are bursting with dynamism and interaction. Music plays, couples dance. You breathe fresh air, feel the seasonal elements, and at the end of the day, you eat and you sleep well.

When I came back from Buenos Aires, this was striking: how our standard of living was technically much higher, but the quality was much lower. The streets were wide, but dead. The stores are all the same. You never interact with anyone, because everyone is in their house or in their car.

Give me the second or third world any day, if it means I can actually be one with my surroundings, surroundings that may be raw but are beautiful and authentically real.

Oh — and the billboards are disgusting! There was one displaying fungus-infected toes! And Target, Old Navy, Ross, Whole Foods, Borders, Olive Garden … why must I have to see the same exact places in every town I go to? It’s so boring, so unappealing, so deadening. I’m so sick of highways, strip malls, parking lots, buildings, big box stores and billboards.

Going global

Just want to say that it’s amazing to see the Occupy protests going global, just as adbusters wanted and planned for. I hope it continues strong and brings about real change!

La Bella Luna

Okay, the planet was not Venus, it is Jupiter … and it is huge and sparkly!

Check out this cool site that explains about waning gibbous moons, spring moons, comets and how in Alaska, the moon is rising before sunset (wish I could see that!)

Some day I will build a dream house with a glass ceiling and a hanging bed, a hammock, an outdoor shower and lots of windows (somewhere out in nature, of course!) That way I can sleep under the stars and the rain …

http://earthsky.org/tonight