As a peaceful warrior, I would choose when, where and how I would behave.
With that commitment, I began to live the life of a warrior.
~Dan Millman

Monday, August 30, 2010

Turning Inward

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The outer world serves as a mirror and our inner world has a magnetic force that draws to us what we need to evolve.

We spend a lot of our lives looking for role models, mentors, teachers, and gurus to guide us on our path. There is nothing wrong with this and, in fact, finding the right person at the right time can really help. However, it is important to realize that in the absence of such a figure, we can very safely rely upon ourselves. We carry within us everything we need to know to make progress on our paths to self-realization. The outer world serves as a mirror. Or to use another metaphor, our inner world has a magnetic force that draws to us what we need to evolve to the next level. All we need to do to see that we already have everything we need is to let go of our belief that we need to seek in order to find.

The path of the spirit is often defined as a journey with a goal such as the fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In this metaphor, a person begins a search for something they want but do not have and then they find it, and there is a happy ending. However, most of us know that getting what we want only makes us happy for a moment, and then the happiness passes until a new object of desire presents itself. Joy is a permanent aspect of our inner selves and is not separate from us at any point. We do not have to travel to find it or imagine that it resides only in the body of another. In fact, what the best teachers will do is point out that this very precious elixir is something we already possess.

So when we find ourselves on our path, not knowing which way to turn and wishing for guidance, we can turn to ourselves. We may not know the right answer rationally or intellectually, but if we simply ask, let go, and wait patiently, an answer will come. The more we practice this and trust this process, the less we will look outside ourselves for teachers and guides for we will have successfully become our own.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Matter of Priorities
Letting Go of the Little Stuff

When we stop worrying about unimportant matters we can devote more to what is truly important.

We experience numerous disappointments each and every day. Our expectations go unmet, our plans are blocked by circumstance, our wishes go unfulfilled, and we discover that our lives are subject to a myriad of forces beyond our conscious control. In some cases, our response is powerful because we must invest ourselves and our resources to overcome genuine hardship. In others, our reactions are far more passionate than our circumstances likely warrant. The tension that permeates our bodies and minds when we are late for an event, interrupted at work, or sitting in traffic is not inappropriate, but it can interfere with our well-being in profound ways. When we stop worrying about relatively unimportant matters, we can be at peace and devote so much more of ourselves to what is truly important.

The small frustrations and irritations wield such power over us because they rob us of the illusion of control. But every problem is a potential teacher—a confusing situation is an opportunity to practice mindfulness, and difficult people provide us with opportunities to display compassion. There is a natural human tendency to invest copious amounts of emotional energy in minor dilemmas and frustrations in order to avoid confronting those more complex issues that are largely outside the realm of our control. The intensity of our response provides us with a temporary sense of personal power that helps us cope with challenges that might otherwise overwhelm us. But it is only when we let the little stuff go that we discover that the big stuff is not really so devastating after all.

In the stress of a singularly tense incident, differentiating between an inconsequential annoyance and a legitimate challenge can seem a monumental task. Ask yourself whether the emotions you are feeling will be as vivid in a year, a day, or even an hour. As focused as you are on this moment in time, your reward for letting go of your emotional investment may be the very happiness and harmony of being whose loss you are lamenting. Needless aggravation is seldom worth the cost it exacts. You cannot distance yourself from life's inconsistencies, irritations, and upheavals, but you can relinquish your desire for perfect order and gain peace of mind in the process.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Compassionate Intensity
Balancing Your Warrior Spirit

When called to explore the way of the warrior, we can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness.

The human soul is dynamic, adapting readily to the changing conditions we encounter as time marches unerringly forward. Though we may use a single set of characteristics to define ourselves, we slip easily into contradictory roles when circumstances necessitate doing so. When we feel called to explore the way of the warrior, we may feel a strong sense of dismay because we have no wish to disavow ourselves of our softer side. Yet embracing the warrior spirit is not a matter of denying gentleness or compassion—all human beings embody all traits to some degree, and seemingly contradictory aspects can coexist peacefully within us. We can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness precisely because both are elements of the self and both have a role to play in the complexity of existence.

Balance is the key that unlocks the door of peaceable coexistence where opposing characteristics of the self are concerned. The warrior spirit, when allowed free reign, is overpowering and all-consuming. If it is to be an affirmative force in our lives, it must be tempered with wisdom and moderation. Our inner warriors are ready to react instantly to conflict, chaos, and confusion, while nonetheless remaining committed to a path of goodwill and fairness. They lie at the root of our dedication to integrity but do not drive us to use our strength to coerce others into adopting our values. The warrior may be nourished by raw emotions with the potential to cause us to lash out, but it channels that energy into positive and constructive action.

Your inner warrior is one source of strength you can draw upon in times of great need. When you employ your warrior spirit thoughtfully, it manifests itself as clarity, focus, determination, courage, constancy, and an unflappable zest for life. The warrior views roadblocks as evolutionary opportunities and is not afraid to pursue a purpose to its climax. There is more than enough room in the existence of the warrior for softness and benevolence, and the warrior's willingness to stand up for their beliefs can aid you greatly as you strive to incorporate these ideals into your existence. Exploring this unique side of yourself is a means of broadening your reality so you can internalize mindfulness while meeting life's challenges with an intensity of spirit that never wavers.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Fruit Abuse – Report it Here!
by Veronica Grace Patenaude

Oh beloved fruit, how I love thee. But these days I am noticing more than ever that you are not being treated properly or even very well in general. Something terrible has happened to our society. People have forgotten how to choose you, take care of you, cut you and serve you.

This has to stop!

To raise awareness for my dear friends I have compiled all of my best examples to help spread the word and educate people on this nonsense.

Here are some recent examples.

#1. The disgusting conglomerate “fruit salad”.
WHY do they insist on adding oranges or other acidic fruits like kiwi or pineapple into these “fresh” concoctions? It absolutely ruins the flavor of everything. Who wants to eat watery orange flavored melons and grapes. I wish someone would teach them some fruit sense! Not all fruits have to be combined to create a fruit salad, the more fruits the worse the taste.

Preventative measure:
If out at a restaurant, ask if the fruit salad is pre made or made fresh. If fresh ask that they only include fruits of your choice or omit the oranges. If at someone’s house where they’re preparing fruit salad tell them about the effects of acidic fruits on sweet fruits and melons and help them design a colourful fruit salad that won’t compromise the flavor of each fruit.

#2. The sad tale of the unripe banana.
Ever seen a co worker tote an unripe yellow banana to and from work every day? Sitting on their desk, and then going into the fridge and then back on their desk and then back into the fridge? Abandoned and unripe… It just never gets eaten despite their “healthy intentions” such a shame.

Preventative measure:
Ensure your friends and family know how to select a banana and when it is ripe to each. Tell them that the banana should ripen at room temperature for several days after it turns completely yellow and that it is ripe when there are brown speckles all over it. This is when the banana is at it’s sweetest and the starch has been converted into sugar by the enzymes in the banana.

#3. The overworked grocery clerk that slams your apples down on the scale at the grocery check out.
This is one of the most heartbreaking stories. You spent minutes, yes, MINUTES picking out perfectly ripe, unbruised apples. Each one a delicate work of art. Only to make it to the check out and have them callously tossed around and inevitably bruised before you even make it to the car. How could someone be so heartless?

Preventative measure:
Smile and say hello to your cashier. Ask that they be extra careful with your produce and you really appreciate it. Or just use self checkout and avoid the whole situation!

#4. The fruit bowl of death.
You might have seen this at your parents or friend’s house. The iconic bowl of fruit in the kitchen, yet no one is eating out of it. The fruit just sits there to get old and squishy and gets brought out to the table when guests are around only to disappoint them with a watered down lacklustre flavor. Grapes and cherries belong in the fridge people!

Preventative measure:
Talk about how much you enjoy eating fruit, how easy they are to eat and quick and satisfying. Make fruit sound appealing to those around you to include these in their diets every day. Comment on how you love keeping your ripe fruits (peaches, nectarines, grapes, cherries, oranges, lychees and other perishables) crisp and fresh. Let people know that counters are best suited for slower ripening fruits like bananas, melons and apples.

#5. The moldy produce drawer.
You open up the fridge at a friend’s house and notice they have some old decaying fruit or vegetable matter (you can’t tell at this point) in their produce drawer. In fact there’s more than a few abandoned things in here that have seen better days. Your host told you there was “some” fruit in the fridge… I think you’ll be going hungry at this point.

Preventative measure:
To prevent this catastrophe from happening to you inspect your fridge weekly removing any foul smelling or squishy produce. Compost it and make a mental note to only buy what you will consume each week. For friends with mouldy produce drawers tell them it’s too bad their food went to waste. Suggest some recipes or meal ideas for the foods that were spoiled so they have an easier time remembering what to do with them next time around.

#6. The tupperware of old fruit.
Your aunt always keeps some cut up fruit in a tupperware container in the fridge. The unfortunate part is that it never gets finished and keeps going from fridge to table every meal. The fruit is cut up but getting mushy and watered down by now and is past it’s prime. Sadly she does not know that fruit can be enjoyed a better way. (Do not abuse your watermelon this way!)

Preventative measure:
Consume cut fruit within the same day or at most 2 days. It is at its freshest and most flavorful the same day. Encourage everyone at the table to take a slice or two of fruit and make sure that it is finished that meal. For the next meal cut up some new fruit and serve it fresh and watch people wonder in amazement at the difference in flavor and texture! Insist that you eat a lot of fruit and enjoy preparing it fresh for each meal.

#7. Eating fruit at the end of a meal.
Quite often people want to end their meal with something sweet, whether it’s a dessert, coffee with sugar or some fruit. What they don’t realize is that eating fruit on top of heavy foods like meat, dairy or bread is really doing your body a disservice. It creates a poor environment for digestion and the fruit sugars begin to ferment on top of the previously eaten food items causing bloating, gas and blood sugar swings.

Preventative measure:
Eat fruit first before the meal or as a snack 20 to 30 minutes beforehand. This ensures your body has enough time to digest this water rich food and not cause any digestive upset or blood sugar swings. Encourage your friends and family to do the same. Let them know they’ll crave less heavy foods for their meal and inevitably be more energized and possibly lose weight too!

#8. The notorious garlic-onion fruit.
Have you ever noticed how the taste of raw garlic and onions permeates every food you eat? Especially fruit? Many times restaurant staff use the same cutting board to cut fruit on as they do garlic or onions so inevitably your “delicious” fruit plate ends up tasting like onion watermelon or garlic pineapple. TRULY disgusting.

Preventative measure:
ALWAYS use a separate cutting board for vegetables than fruits. Wood and plastic cutting boards retain the oils from garlic and onions and pass them on to other foods. Ask your waitress to ensure that the kitchen staff does not cut your fruit on the same cutting board as those items. Tell your family and friends to use two separate cutting boards when preparing foods for entertaining such as vegetable trays and fruit platters. Your taste buds will thank you.

So now you’ve been informed, help spread the word. Educate your friends and family about proper fruit conduct and how to enjoy fruit at its prime.

Let this be the beginning of a new day for fruits everywhere. A brighter tomorrow where there are more educated people who can handle you and appreciate you properly. Children who will know how to select and when you are ripe for peak enjoyment.

Have you witnessed any fruit abuse? Report it here!