Use Your Words like Your life Depended on them

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mindful Way - Ajahn Chah

Ajahn Chah with his resident Sangha.Image via Wikipedia

This is an informative video about the way of Forest Monks. Grab a cup of tea, and enjoy this British television program on Buddhism, featuring an interview with Ajahn Chah, a highly revered Thai monk. you won't be disappointed.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

An Interview with the Breath Lady

I had a lovely lunch with Sat Hari recently and she has given me permission to print this interview between her and Donna Hinda.

In the Spring of 2008 I invited a number of my girl friends to a workshop in my home on the "Ins and Outs of Breathing". It was an incredible experience. The techniques I learned that evening continue to enhance my life. I am pleased to be able to share this information with you.

This interview was published in Tone Magazine. Donna Hinda is a writer, book artist, and master communicator who lives in northern California. She’s been a group trainer and facilitator, teacher, editor, mail carrier, and outdoor educator, and her new career is battling US bureaucracies.

I’ve known Sat Hari Kaur Khalsa for twenty-five years. We’re each other’s neutral-minded sounding board whenever we need to prepare for a crucial conversation or compose an important letter. Our cross-continental conversations are long and legend. Being friends and both being writers, we work and play well together and have collaborated on some major projects, including her book The Ins and Outs of Breathing. As I edited her book and asked her to explain and justify, I came to learn that she has expert knowledge of the technology of yogic breathing. So when she said she wanted to write an article for Tone Magazine about breathing and the work she does and asked if I’d work with her on it, the format of conversation seemed natural, and I said I would be happy to interview her.

Donna: You’re doing a workshop on breathing at the MacLaren Centre on Sunday, October 30.

Sat Hari:
It’s called “The Ins and Outs of Breathing,” like the book, which is included for a take-home reverence guide. The workshop runs from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sunday, and there’s an introductory session on Friday evening from 7:00 to 9:00.

Let me play devil’s advocate and ask, since everyone breathes, why should people go to a workshop on what they already know?

Sat Hari:
There’s more to breathing than meets the eye. For starts, in my experience, most people breathe inefficiently or incorrectly, some of them for decades; and most of them are totally unaware of it. For those people, starting with the basics of coordinating muscle movements with breathing can be one of the most important thing they’ll ever learn. When the basics are handled – and even before they’re mastered – people can learn to use breathing as a quick and effective de-stressor and as a powerful vehicle for meditation and higher states of consciousness.

The breath can do a lot and a lot that nothing else can do. It’s the only thing I know that can simultaneously relax you and energize you. It massages internal organs, gets rid of toxins, and facilitates healing. It can make your brain sharp; get you high; reduce pain, fear, and anger; and put you in a state of self-hypnosis. It’s free, it’s legal, there are no bad side effects, it works immediately, and you always have it with you.

Learning to breath slowly and deeply allows us to think more clearly, and we feel calmer. It’s an instant and powerful de-stressor and antidepressant. If we slow and deepen our breathing for several minutes, our bodies show fewer physiological signs of stress. Our saliva becomes less acidic, which reduces tooth decay. We produce more oxytocin, the so-called calming and connecting hormone. That enhances the body’s natural healing powers, reduces the sensation of pain, heightens our awareness, makes us feel more loving, and can create a totally natural altered state of consciousness.

Yogic breathing increases feelings of aliveness, makes organs function better, facilitates calm and accurate communication, and puts one in touch with the true self. I’ve had asthmatic students in my yoga classes who told me they improved 80% from Kundalini Yoga and practicing only two or three yogic breaths. Are those enough reasons to learn about breathing?

Donna: That sounds so vast, How do you get all that into one workshop?

Sat Hari: There’s so much I could share that I always wish there were a few more hours. What I do in the workshop is to present techniques, principles, information, awareness training, and opportunities to experience breathing in a variety of ways. Within the structure, I like to allow enough flexibility to meet the individual needs of the people who show up.

If I can introduce several breathing techniques in the context of how the body works and give people a real experience of those techniques, then breathing becomes the teacher they’ll go home with, and I’ll have done my job. It’s people’s own experience rather than a workshop or a teacher that teaches and inspires them to keep up. And breathing is, I think, a teacher without equal.

Without giving away the workshop, can you give me and the reader a taste of it, maybe a breathing technique that we could practice and experience an effect from?

Sat Hari:
Sure. Once every hour take three to ten long, slow, complete breaths. Here are some tips for how to do that: Fill your lungs the way you’d fill a glass with water: Fill the bottom first, then the middle, up to the top. Reverse that order as you exhale.If you notice tension anywhere in your body, consciously relax that part. And notice yourself before and after you do it.

Is breathing an important component of the other work you do – your Kundalini Yoga classes and the counseling?

Sat Hari:
It is – because it’s such an important part of life, and the way we breathe underlies all our experiences, everything we do, and our very consciousness. But the emphasis is different in the different modes. In breathwork classes and workshops, the focus is on breathing, so all the work is geared to that. When counseling clients want to improve relationships or feel better about themselves, I don’t launch into an exposition of the physiology of respiration, but I’ll watch for breathing patterns and
often recommend or teach long deep breathing to reduce stress or heighten awareness.

In Kundalini Yoga classes breathing is integral to the exercises. But, because I was a reverse breather for nineteen years and because breathing taught me so much, I probably emphasize it more than most teachers do. I start with breathing and work with new students to correct any problems right off the bat. I give them breathing homework and then monitor them until the changes become habitual.

Donna: There’s another type of work you do – stress reduction training. Stress is a topic we can all relate to. I know you have a story about using breathing to handle dental anxiety that you love to share.

Sat Hari:
I had teeth taken out and three titanium screws drilled into my jaw bone. It felt like I had a jack hammer in my mouth. I had local freezing for pain but did the one-minute breath meditation to handle my freak-out level anxiety. I was so un-stressed that I was in an altered state of consciousness. The surgeon was so impressed with how relaxed and calm I was without drug sedation that he asked me to lead an in-service training with the clinic staff. And it’s not that I’m such an adept – I’m not – it’s that the technology works.

So: is breathing a cure-all?

Sat Hari:
I wouldn’t use that term, but it sure comes close. Full, complete breathing has a direct and immediate effect on what we call the body, the mind, and the spirit. Organs function better, the mind calms and sharpens, feelings of well-being and aliveness are heightened, pain is reduced, the body’s healing processes start to work, awareness and higher consciousness are enhanced, and breathing with awareness is a meditation.

So what’s not to love?! [laughter]

Sat Hari Kaur Khalsa is a holistic psychologist, a certified Kundalini Yoga teacher and teacher trainer, and the author of The Ins and Outs of Breathing. She practices yoga therapy and individual and family counseling and leads classes and workshops on yoga, breathwork, and stress reduction. She can be reached through emailing me.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Strawberries - Wow!

Wild Strawberry, also called Indian strawberry...Image via Wikipedia

I came across this blog linking from a blog I read regularly, and could not pass the opportunity to mention this story of Pema Chodron. The lesson it speaks to is about living life without the distraction of what the future holds, but rather savoring each moment.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Do you have an Angel

Guido Reni's archangel Michael (Capuchin churc...Image via Wikipedia

There are times when I’ve thought I must have an Angel, one who watches and protects me. I am not sure if it is true, or if Angels exist, but it feels right.

The other day while walking past this store. Just as we were about to pass it, I said, “let’s go in inside.”

We were greeted by a warm cheerful voice, "Hi, would you like an Angel reading?" Wow! Never would have imagined hearing someone ask me that question in a million years. I was not sure what it entailed. But, I thought, why not.

A wonderful insightful woman, Karen Forrest, was sitting on a couch at the back of the store. I liked her immediately, she had a nice warm smile and caring eyes. As it turned out she is the author of Canadian Angels by your side It is a wonderful book with many interesting short stories illustrating how Angels have intervened to help people. She gave me a short "Angel reading" which involved a general question, What is my life purpose? In less than five minutes she affirmed that I am on the right spiritual path. Who am I to argue with that?

Do you believe in Angels?

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

This is Nothing

Ajahn Brahm Inter-Viewed

I love Ajahn Brahm because his main lesson is not to take one's self seriously, and he leaves me with a genuine smile from deep within. Do you understand?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lakota Voices - Arlette Loud Hawk: Part 1

The simplicity of her message is so profound. We all have to live together and co-exist in harmony. Remember your dreams, you have choices, make the choice that will allow you to live a meaningful life.
She is speaking about the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1973.
( AIM is American Indian Movement )

I also encourage you to watch part 2.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

High Noon Crisis

Acedia. Acedia. Acedia.

You are feeling bummed? I mean really, really, depressed to the point where you feel that life is pointless and there is nothing you can do that will make a difference. Do you care? If, you don't care. Or if you don't even know that you don’t care? This is acedia, apathy, indifference, isolation, depression.

You don’t have to be a monk, hermit, or someone who lives a solitary life to experience acedia.

Ever since I heard the interview on CBC’s Tapestry with Kathleen Norris speaking about her book on the subject I’ve been thinking about the meaning of acedia. It is an uncommon word but it likely describes accurately how some people at some point in their life have felt. I’ve had conversations where this was definitely a state of mind for some people. A feeling of absolute apathy, and irrelevance. What do you do when this happens and how do you support people who are experiencing acedia?

Kathleen Norris says that action, like going out, visiting friends or some activity you enjoy will take you out of acedia. It is imperative that even if we feel this action is meaningless, we should force ourselves to do it in spite of those feelings. By our acttions, we find a conduit, which leads us out of the this dangerous fog. She further says an extreme case of acedia will only lead to suicide. If this is how you are felling please get some help.

Another interesting article on the subject worth reading, you may also enjoy this blog.

And yet another interesting read Noonday Demon.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What is your Story

In the wonderful city of twittervile I came across this blog. It is an inspirational blog and speaks to humanity's spirit. Moreover, you will meet many people interviewed in this blog who will inspire you with their courage and strength. Awesome!

I recommend you grab your favorite beverage and enjoy the dialogue between Phil and his subjects.
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Friday, July 31, 2009

Zen Master Sosan's Hsin Hsin Ming

Watch this video with an open mind. No judgment. The practice of non-duality.

The path is clear and it is not. Taking a deep breath and listening to this poem again. "Cease attachment from talking and thinking is to be awaken." "To have a narrow mind and to be attached to getting enlightened is to lose ones center..."

I listen to this first with a thinking mind and was further from the center. I listen to this again with a non thinking, non judgmental mind and just was.

Practicing non-duality - takes practice - and no practice

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

#1 use for my ipod

"Oh, I see you have been listening to your ipod. What are you listening to? " asks my husband.

"Nothing" I reply.


"Yes. I am literally listening to silence." I added.

He looked surprised, so I continued "I am listening to a podcast from Treeleaf which has a 20 minute, 30 minutes, and one hour silent meditation segments."

"You're the only person I know who has over a thousand songs and uses their ipod to listen to silence." He says shaking his head.
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

How To Meditate III - Walking Meditation

I have been asked about walking meditation, but found this video which explains it beautifully. If you find this helpful and want to know more about yuttadhammo .

Enjoy the earth as you walk, and remember to watch your breath and smile.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

To be a Spiritual Leader

Do you

  1. Think of how your actions will impact others before doing (Right thought/Right speech / Right action)
  2. Catch yourself when judging others, including yourself (non-judgmental/ compassion/ love)
  3. Release your attachment to be right (open mindedness)
  4. Smile and look into the eyes of the person you're with (Being Present)
  5. Walk your talk (lead by example)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Manifesting Feelings

I woke up this morning with a smile and feeling of joy emanating from within. As I meditated, the warm feeling radiated like embers.
Interestingly, the more one tries to control their feelings the less successful they are in controlling them. Therefore, after years of practice, I learned not to control my emotions and allow the feelings to occur spontaneously. It made sense that not being attached to my feelings is a healthy stress-free way of being. I found there are no positive reasons to hang on to an emotion especially if the emotion is anger, angst, worry, hate, fear, etc.

Feelings will come and go. Ebb and flow. I acknowledge my current emotion and accept that happy or sad, it too will pass. I found that to be nonjudgmental helps me release any attachment I may hold. No excuses and no justifications the emotion cover me like a blanket. Sometimes it is light, fuzzy and other times it is warm, cozy and comforting. I snuggle in it's warmth.

Recognizing my feelings connects me with the moment and crystallizes my present state. In other words, my emotions exist to connect me with my present.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thich Nhat Hanh: What Is Engaged Buddhism?

Being engaged is living fully in each and every moment. What is it about Thich Nhat Hanh's image that makes me smile?

Thank you Wil for your comment and link to further resources on Thich Nhat Hanh.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Does Natural law without Christianity Exist?

Dene elder, Isidore Deranger 1909-1993
Fort Chipewyan, Alberta

I recently traveled to Alberta to participated in a “Natural Law" workshop lead by Canadian First Nation elders from the Treaty 6 area.  But what actually occurred was confusing to me.

 My understanding of “natural law” is based on what I perceive as Indigenous Peoples' integral relationship with nature. Indigenous ways of knowing in my opinion is not religions; rather it is ways of life centered upon the complex relationships between Indigenous societies with nature (Mother Earth). Each Indigenous culture had its own holistic and sophisticated structure based on the laws of nature which existed prior to European contact and, more specifically, prior to contact with church missionaries.
My opinion is that christianity was transferred at initial contact to Indigenous peoples as a means to control and conquer them. Some people argue that the colonizers were “saving the souls” of the Indigenous peoples from a certain peril of hell, but in fact what resulted was a genocidal erasing of Indigenous peoples' beliefs that had served their societies for a long time. And I am not to mention the residential schools scattered across Canada who did so much harm it will take many generations to heal the inter-generational harm.

Christianity is centered on a hierarchy religion reflecting a European paradigm, where Indigenous beliefs on the other hand are non-hierarchical and egalitarian.
What I was hoping to learn from the teachings of the elders was 'natural law' without the Christian bits, but sadly, I left disappointed and confused.  The elder began his speech with letting  story of Adam and Eve and how we are all sinners. Are some of today's Indigenous elders   confused as a result of being indoctrinated by Christianity, and are seeking to explore their spirituality by collapsing Christianity teachings with anything that is organic and fluid, meaning spirit or energy?
Unfortunately, the indoctrination of Christianity is so well embedded and woven into the fabric of these Indigenous elders' teachings and is passed off as "natural law". What sadden me the most is that they seemed unaware that their teaching was in fact based on Christianity. This is what colonization looks like.

I am not judging Christianity as something that is bad. I was raised Catholic I know a little something about indoctrination. My mom is devote and many family members as well.   All I am saying is that I was interested in learning the true teachings of 'natural law' in the form of a decolonized (or better yet pre-colonized) and pure teaching, which I am positive continues to exist in First Nations country somewhere. 

 The photo above is a picture of a spiritual Dene man, my Dad, who had knowledge of 'natural law' as understood by the Dene people.  But I was too young and maybe too stupid (or at least too willing to believe in the lessons of priests and nuns) to accept his teachings had merit, until sadly it was too late.  

Monday, March 23, 2009

Drum Dance - Dene Artist, Roger Deranger

Drum Dance

deep within the Dene forest home
spirits dream wholehearted to roam
they dwell honorably during mystic time
when the heaven and earth vastly rhyme

upon a painted sunset, a silence broke
it was an ancient flame that spoke
and the drums mysteriously, exhilarate
altering each soul into a radiant state

chants and pulse, conjured, impulsively
blessing everyone into a circular flee
round and around they sacredly dance
drowning themselves into a joyous trance

poured with euphoria, the beings paced
leaving each step then majestically traced
within its midst, the fire proudly sing
drawing the ritual into a universal ring

the stars above also harmonized along
ensuring the divine hoop is kept strong
for every life is absorbed into solidarity
a movement of strength and reassuringly

the dance, song and heartbeat, all is real
giving the entire cycle a seed to heal
from dusk to dark, the spirits fly
until our dance has reached the sky

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bob Thurman: Becoming Buddha -- on the Web

Bob quite cleverly explains how to be compassionate in less than 15 minutes in a manner that makes me smile. I like that.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ram Dass interviews Thicht Nhat Hanh

Anger is an emotion people hold onto by choice unaware that with a simple breathing technique they will find peace. Being angry harms the person holding on to it more than the subject of their anger. Letting go of the anger through mindful breathing releases the heavy burden on your mind and body.

The choice is yours to nourish your emotion and transform the anger into understanding and compassion.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Libby the Wonder Dog (poem)

My friend Carol posted this beautiful poem after reading my blog "Its all in the eyes". She wrote it for her trusted companion Libby before she died. (get some the tissue because its really touching)

This is my dog, Bodhi, taken this afternoon, the snow is melting finally, and he is somewhat muddy. I left his coat long for protection against the inclement weather but it's time to take him to the doggy spa.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Ten Ox Herding Pictures

Where do your emotions live, can you point in your body where love, happiness, sadness, anger, is? Emotions live in the territory of the mind. Search for the mind - is what is called spiritual path.

Don't fight with your mind, accept it, and it will free you. Fighting with your mind drains you of your energy. Sit still and gradually your energy will increase and you'll find peace.

Say to yourself, "whoever I am, whatever I've done in life, the door to my heat is always open to me unconditionally. Come in." Accept yourself, be kind to yourself, love yourself, be at peace with yourself.

Take an hour and listen to the other jewels of wisdom in this speech from Ajahn Brahm.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

More than a Fish Story

Danny Fisher posted this Video on his blog and it is definitely worth watching. This story of the Eg-Uur Buddhist monks of Mongolia resonated with me because my people, the Dene, who are also struggling to conserve their land and culture. As caretakers of the land, their dream is to be able to restore the health of their land before it is too late.

It is certainly great to watch a dream come true for the Eg-Uur Buddhist monks. Meanwhile, the people of Fort Chipewyan are in a continued fight for their lives.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Is there a connection? I found a couple of articles while scrolling through twitter, again. You would be amazed at the resource in 140 characters or less you could find from this particular social network.

The connect between Darwin and Buddhism is in our relationship with the world, in particular, how we relate with empathy, kindness, and compassion. What does he say about our emotions?

Painting by a local artist.
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lovingkindness Instructions by Bhante Vimalaramsi

The sound is not too good, but worth listening to in spite of it. smile and the world smiles with you.

Also check out Mental illness:Meditation or Medication if you haven't yet. I found after reading the conversation, I thought of various people who I know would benefit from the wisdom shared here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It's all in the Eyes

Ever notice how your animal looks at you, of course you do? You’re almost certain you know what they are communicating. We feel that way about our family dog.

Bodhisattva (Bohdi) a standard poodle, is handsome as he is adorable. Sometimes I would be reading and feel this strong sense that someone is watching me. Then I will look up, and there is Bodhi looking at me with such intensity that I wish he could use words to describe what he wants. But instead, I have to gauge what kind of reaction I get from my tone, and words, by his body language for clues to what he wants. It always seems I correctly guess what he wants, because he seems happy for whatever I give him.

He can be surprising too. When Andrew was a toddler and had stuff animals all over the house, Bodhi knew he could not play with them. He had his own doggy toys. However, one day, Bodhi took his own toy and placed it on Andrew’s bed. Then he went to the shelf and took Andrew’s stuff bear for himself. I never would have guessed that animals could communicate on that level of sophistication.

I do know my family is connected with him, not just as a pet, but as a being. When I meditate, I feel our energies merge, and I can feel the calm that seems to emanate from him mingle with my energy causing a blanket of light energy to dance around us.

He absorbs our energy too, indeed, the exchange of energy flows from us to him. When he is having a bad dream, I sit beside him and rub his neck until his breathing returns to normal. He takes a deep breath, and continues to sleep. The least I can do for this silent but very communicative being.

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Imee Ooi - The Chant Of Metta - English subtitled version

I enjoyed viewing this youtube because I found it calmed and inspired me especially after my morning meditation. I hope it also touches you in some way.

With Metta

Monday, January 26, 2009

I am already who I am

Most years, I write resolutions for the up coming year. This year I decided to make spiritual resolutions instead of the usual lose weight, exercise more, travel, save money, etc. But each time I sat down to write, my task seemed too difficult. How can making spiritual resolutions be so complicated?

I thought about it for sometime before I resolved at the end of the day to be who I am, which is…
Listening carefully,

…and to remain true to myself through daily mediation. I am all these things, but not all the time. Therefore, my resolution is to simply be the best person I know I am.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mantak Chia DVD Six Healing Sounds Clip 2 -- Heart Sound

A New Year, a new beginning. Enjoy these two presentations...