Friday, May 31, 2013

Health Tip: Continue towards goals...

A way to encourage yourself to continue working towards your goals is to give yourself an incentive or reward. Treat yourself to a massage, bubble bath, concert, new clothes etc. to celebrate your successes toward your goal.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Calming the Spirit: Sigalovada Sutta

Buddha in one of his sermons, “Sigalowada Sutta” tells a young man named ‘Sigala’ about the discipline a laymen should have. (reference: The Buddhism.net)

This takes place when Lord Buddha encountered a youth called Sigala in his morning stroll. The young man, in drenched attire, prostrated and worshiped the four compass direction (East, South, West and North), plus the Earth (Down) and the Sky (Up). When asked by Lord Buddha why he did so, the youth Sigala replied that he had been told by his late father to do so and he thought that it was right to uphold his father’s wishes. Lord Buddha then, based on Sigala’s point of view, taught him on how a noble one (Pali: ariya) should worship the Six directions.
1. Avoid evil ways
Buddha first describes fourteen evil ways that a householder should avoid.
The four defilements of action:
  1. Taking life (killing other beings)
  2. Taking things that don’t belong to us (stealing)
  3. Having intimate relationships with people other than their spouses and having abnormal  sexual behaviors (sexual misconduct)
  4. Telling lies that would harm others, messing up their lives (lying)
The four causes of evil action:
  1. desire (chanda)
  2. hatred (dosa)
  3. ignorance (moha)
  4. fear (bhaya)
The six ways of squandering wealth:
  1. Indulging in intoxicants over and over again.
  2. Wandering the streets at inappropriate times over and over again.
  3. Frequenting public shows over and over again.
  4. Obsessive gambling over and over again.
  5. Associating bad friends over and over again.
  6. Habitual idleness.
2.Choose true friends
The Buddha then went into detail on the importance of having and being a true friend, as he described who true friends are; and who are not; and, how true friends will aid in attaining a blissful life.
According to Buddha, there are four types of true friends:

a)      Accommodative friend – Protects the friend and his wealth when needed, helps the friend when in trouble and provides resources when needed.
b)     The friend who treats his friend equally, both in health & misfortune – Guards the friend’s secrets as his own as well as tells all his secrets to him, doesn’t leave the friend in trouble and ready to sacrifice even his life for the friend.
c)      The friend who shows the correct guidance – Shows the way to a good life not only in this world, but, in the world after death. Prevents the friend from committing sins and shows the way to a better world by advising him on subjects he is ignorant of.
d)     Compassionate friend – Shows compassion to the friend like his mother and prevents others from criticizing him. Praises those who commend him. Happy at the friend’s success and sad at his failure.
According to Buddha there are four types of bad friends who act like friends, but in truth, are enemies:
a)The bad friend who becomes friendly to take, not give – Helps a little and wish for more. Formulates a friendship when he is in trouble to get out of it. He associates a friend only for his gain.
b) The bad friend who talks big and treat his friends only with words – He never ever assists a friend when in need. Tells about his own problems and evade helping the friend.
c) The bad friend who sides with his friend just to make him happy without thinking the consequences of the act – He approves and support his friend in all his deeds whether they are good or bad; but criticizes him behind his back.
d) The bad friend who gets friendly to do sins – He associates the friend to indulge in intoxicants, gambling and attend public shows frequently. Thus, taking his friend with him to the hell after death.
3.Protect close relationships
Finally, returning to the topic of the six directions, the Buddha described the Four Compass Directions as :
Parents (East)
Teachers (South)
Wife (West)
Friends and colleagues (North)
The two vertical directions as:        
Ascetics and Brahmins (Up)
Servants (Down)
The householder’s commitments and the reciprocal acts of those he honors, which make those directions protected, peaceful and secure as identified by the Buddha
East : Parents
Duty of the householder:   
  • To support the parents when they are old and feeble.
  • Protect and maintain the family name and traditions.
  • Be worthy of one’s inheritance.
  • Do meritorious deeds on behalf of the dead ancestors.
Reciprocal acts of the parents:
  • Preventing their children from doing bad deeds.
  • Guide them towards goodness.
  • Educating them properly.
  • Finding them a good spouse.
  • Handing over the inheritance at right time.
South : Teachers
Duty of the student:   
  • Arise from the seat whenever the teacher approaches.
  • Attend on the teacher thrice a day.
  • Listening carefully and eagerly to the teacher.
  • Serving the teacher appropriately.
  • Learning the lessons well.
Reciprocal acts of the teachers:  
  • Discipline the students advising about what to do and what not to do.
  • Teach properly without making mistakes.
  • Teach everything without hiding anything.
  • Introduce the student to their friends praising the skills and talents of the student.
  • Protect the student.
West : Wife
Duty of the husband:  
  • Speaking to the wife in kind words.
  • Never humiliating the wife.
  • Being faithful to the wife.
  • Handing over all household activities such as cooking to the wife.
  • Providing clothing and jewelry.
Reciprocal acts of the wife:  
  • When the husband fulfils his duties, a wife should also do the following in return.
  • Being well organized and finish the household chores on time, such as preparing food, tiding the house,…..etc.
  • Treating the husband’s relatives and friends properly with care and with affection.
  • Being faithful to the husband.
  • Protecting and managing properly the assets the husband earns.
  • Do the needful skillfully without idling.
North : Friends and colleagues
Duty of the householder to his friends:
  • Being generous towards the friends in need.
  • Speaking to the friends in kind words.
  • Always acting towards their welfare.
  • Never taking sides; but be impartial when a trouble arises among friends.
  • Always being honest with friends.
Reciprocal acts of the friends:
  • Protecting you when you arein danger.
  • Protecting your wealth when you are helpless.
  • Being a safe haven when you are worried and scared.
  • Not abandoning you when you are in a hardship.
  • Being devoted to your family and its descendants.
Up : Ascetics and Brahmins
Duty of the householder to Ascetics & Brahmins:
  • Treating them with gentleness.
  • Speaking to them with consideration.
  • Thinking about them with kindness.
  • Always keep the door open for them.
  • Provide them with the necessary material needs.
Reciprocal acts of the Ascetics & Brahmins:
  • Prevent the devotees from wrong doings.
  • Guide the devotees towards righteousness.
  • Show compassion towards the devotees.
  • Educate the devotees in matters they ought to know.
  • Answering and explaining the matters that devotees want to know.
  • Show the devotees the path to heaven or liberation.
Down : Servants
Duty of the householder to servants:
  • Assigning the servants to work according to their ability.
  • Paying the servants properly and adequately fitting to their labor.
  • Treating the servants with medicine and other necessities when they are ill.
  • Sharing special treats with the servants as and when he receives them.
  • Giving enough rest and a number of reasonable holidays to the servants.
Reciprocal acts of the servants :
  • Rising up before the master.
  • Retiring after the master.
  • Taking only what is given and not cheating.
  • Working hard.
  • Praising the master and spread his good among the people.
• To avoid domestic violence and lead a peaceful life one should follow the path of Buddha’s teachings. It is the greed and desire which bring all the problems into this world. The ignorance of this reality, according to Buddha, cause all the tribulations in a human’s life.
• Meditation brings peace to mind and teach tolerance. The Buddhist culture basically teaches a person to feel guilty and be fearful of the outcome of such a deed.
• Buddhists, believe in the theory of action and reaction. It is one’s actions which bring the result of their existence. It could be peaceful and harmonious or messy and disastrous.

Health Tip: Strength Training and Your Own Weight...

Using your own body weight for strength training is effective, inexpensive and can be done anywhere. Some body weight exercises to try are push-ups, squats, chair dips, walking lunges, abdominal exercises, jumping jacks, side jumps and pull-ups.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Calming the Spirit: 7 Rules of Life



  • Make peace with your past so it won't screw your present.
  • What others think of you is none of your business.
  • Time heals almost everything, give it time.
  • Don't compare your life to others and don''t judge them. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  • Stop thinking too much.  It's alright not to know all the answers.  They will come to you when you least expect it.
  • No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  • Smile.  You don't own all the problems in the world.

Health Tip: Slow loss of muscle...

Adults lose 7-8 pounds of muscle every decade. To slow down this loss of muscle it is important to incorporate strength training in to your weekly fitness routine.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Calming the Spirit: Supreme Qualities of the Buddha

Supreme Qualities of the Buddha

1. Arahant

Firstly, we must understand that our great teacher was an “Arahant”. An Arahant is one who has eradicated all bad conditions of the mind, which include: passion, lust, desire, hatred, ill will, delusion, and all other defilements of the mind. There should be an unshakable confidence about that quality or our Great Teacher. That unshakable confidence if developed by knowing that in this world, and throughout all worlds, there is no other teacher with this Arahant quality.

2. Samma Sambuddho

This second quality of our Teacher if “Samma Sambuddho”. Samma Sambuddho means that our Great Teacher understood the Four Noble Truths without anyone’s help. So our Great Teacher is really the one and only Teacher. What is the significance of the Four Noble Truths? These Truths explain the realities of life. Our Great Teacher understood the realities of life, without anyone’s help. By knowing this, we can establish an unshakeable confidence based on this second quality.

3.Vijjacaranasampanno

The third quality is “Vijjacaranasampanno”. Vijja means ‘true knowledge’. There are three kinds of knowledge. Firstly, the Supreme Buddha, our great teacher had knowledge of the past lives of beings. Through this knowledge the Supreme Buddha knew that this is a long journey through samsara (the cycle of birth and death). The second knowledge our Great Teacher had was passing away and the reappearing of beings. There should be a confidence based on both these kinds of knowledge. Because of that knowledge, we can be sure that if we do not try to achieve the Stream Entrant stage in this life, our next destination will not be a good one. The third knowledge that the Supreme Buddha had was knowledge of the destruction of all taints (the destruction of all defilements. So, with this true knowledge, our Great Teacher had excellent virtue, excellent concentration, excellent wisdom, and excellent liberation. And that is called vijjacaranasampanno – the one and only Teacher in this world.

4. Sugata

The fourth quality is sugata. Su means ‘the correct path’. Gatha means ‘followed’. Therefore, sugata means ‘following the correct path’. Supreme Buddha followed the best path, the Noble Eight fold Path, and achieved the bliss of Nibbanna (ultimate liberation).

5. Lokuvida

The fifth quality is “Lokavidu”. Lokuvida means ‘knower of the worlds’. It is one who understands the origin of all worlds, understands the cessation of all worlds, and understands how to escape from all the worlds.

6. Anuttara Purisa-dammasarathi

The sixth quality is “ Anuttara Purisa-dammasarathi”. Anuttara means ‘excellent’. It means ‘exalted’, there is no one else.Purisa-dammasarathi means ‘Buddha is the Teacher of the people to be tamed’. What is the way of taming? The Supreme Buddha’s way of taming is with virtue, concentration and wisdom, and without any weapons. Even today, we are tamed by those great qualities. We are following the Path of virtue (precepts and good discipline), we are following the Path of concentration, and we are following the path of wisdom.

7. Sattha Devamanussanam

The seventh quality is “Sattha devamanussanam”. Sattha devamanussanam means ‘the Teacher of gods and humans´. We have to clearly understand that our Great Teacher is not only the Teacher of humans, but also the Teacher of gods. If we are able to achieve the Stream Entrant stage in this very life, Supreme Buddha explained that we will be re-born in the heavenly world. The Dhamma, the Teachings of the Buddha, exists in the heavenly worlds.

8. Buddha

The eight quality is “Buddha”. Buddha means ‘one who has understood the Four Noble Truths without anyone’s help, and is able to proclaim the Dhamma to others’. Buddha means one who teaches without holding anything back; with great compassion and with great loving kindness, so that others may understand the Four Noble Truths and achieve real happiness.

9. Bhagava

The ninth quality is “Bhagava”. Bhagava means ‘the blessed one’. This means that our Great Teacher, is the one and only teacher who held all these qualities. These are the great qualities of the Supreme Buddha.

Because of these qualities, we can develop an unshakable confidence in the Supreme Buddha.

Worldwide Buddhist Information and
Education Network

Health Tip: Use Caution when combining perscriptions...

Use caution when combining prescription medications, over the counter medications and supplements. Ask your doctor or pharmacist first if they are safe to take together.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Health Tip: What's Your Alarm Clock Personality?

I read this report and from it I find that I'm trusting and a perfectionist.  Read on, what Sharron Tanenbaum has to say... About Your Alarm Clock Personality?

Whether you're a snooze-aholic or you rely on multiple clocks to get out of bed, how you react to your morning alarm offers some revealing clues to your personality as a whole.

It can be the one of most dreaded parts of your day: waking up. Before you were blissfully dreaming of unicorns and fairies (or maybe Louboutins and George Clooney), only to be rudely awakened by a disruptive, relentless beeping or an obnoxiously loud radio deejay interrupting your slumber with the traffic report. How dare he!

Whether you immediately hit the snooze button (and then again after nine more minutes of rest) or you leisurely get out of bed (your clock is set ahead of time, after all), chances are your morning M.O. reveals something more about your personality.

It can also be an important clue to your overall health, as a healthy sleep routine can boost your energy, improve your memory and learning, help you lose weight, and even lower your risk for a heart attack or diabetes. If you find your alarm clock attitude has recently changed — your early-bird routine has become more like a snooze-aholic’s, say, or anxiety or stress have you popping up 20 minutes before the buzzer goes off — it may mean your sleep quality or quantity is suffering.

Here, some of the most popular “alarm clock personalities” — and what they may really mean.

If You Hit the Snooze Button Repeatedly…
You’re an: Avoider
The dawn of the day could hold off a bit, if you had your way. So to push reality into the future, you hit the snooze button — and again after 10 more minutes of rest — as a result. Repeatedly hitting that button could also mean you’re a crisis-maker. “You wait until crunch time to get going, leaving yourself only two minutes to get dressed, out the door, and on your way,” explains Linda Sapadin, PhD, clinical psychologist in Valley Stream, N.Y., who specializes in time management.

If you find yourself suddenly pressing snooze more than you used to, it could be a clear clue that you’re having sleep problems. Insomnia is an obvious culprit, but even if you think you’re getting enough sleep, your sleep quality could be lacking from a condition like sleep apnea, in which frequent, temporary disruptions in breathing make for a poor night’s rest.
Pressing snooze because you just can’t bear the thought of getting out of bed could indicate emotional health issues like anxiety and depression.

If You Set the Time on the Clock Ahead…
You’re a: Crisis-Maker
Even though you know the clock time is 15 minutes fast (after all, you set it), it is possible to trick yourself for just a moment in the morning. In fact, that momentary flash of panic when you see 6:30 a.m. instead of 6:15 may be just what you need to get going in the morning. “If you need to get that adrenaline rush, it’s better that you wake up at a fake time rather than actually waiting until the real last moment to get up and rush to get ready,” says Sapadin.

If You Get Up Earlier Than You Really Need To…
You’re a: Perfectionist
A stereotypical “morning person,” you’re up and at ‘em before you really need to be, perhaps much to the annoyance of your partner, who’s still sleeping… and sleeping. “You want to make sure that you’re absolutely ready when you need to be so you set your alarm extra-early so you’ll never be late,” Sapadin explains. Whether you use this extra time to read the paper or catch up on household chores, it can be a productive, stress-free way to begin your day.

Another sign of perfectionism is a highly orchestrated snooze button routine, in which you first set your clock, say, for 5:45 a.m. so you can snooze for an hour before you really need to get up at 6:45. You know your body needs that wake-up period, and you carefully plan out how many times you can hit snooze before you need to get up and get going.

If You'd Rather Wake to a Beep Than Music…
You’re: Puritanical
If waking up to a jarring Beep! Beep! Beep! is music to your sleepy ears, then you may have more of a rigid personality than someone who prefers to rise and shine to more mellow music. “You’re more of a traditionalist and prefer the harsher option to jolt you awake,” says Sapadin.
You could also be classified as pragmatic, especially if you know that you tend to sleep through the alarm when it’s set to music.

If You Use More Than One Alarm Clock…
You’re a: Worrier
Do you have one alarm clock on your nightstand and another across the room? Here, you don’t trust yourself to wake up to the first cries of your alarm clock (perhaps you’re a deep sleeper), so you set up another one to reduce any anxiety about getting up in the morning. “You need a back-up plan in order to feel safe,” says Sapadin.

If You Rely on a Person as Your Alarm Clock…
You’re: Dependent
If given the choice, most would probably opt for a gentle shake to an abrupt alarm to wake them in the morning. But this behavior indicates that you may have a dependency tendency, even if it’s a finely-tuned system where you’re partner wakes you as he’s heading out the door. “You’re dependent upon someone else to take the responsibility of waking you up,” explains Sapadin.

If You Don't Have an Alarm Clock at all…
You’re: Trusting
If you’ve shunned your alarm clock in favor of a more natural wake-up call — your own internal body clock — then hats off to you. “You trust your body to get up on its own,” says Sapadin, who adds this luxury is usually enjoyed by people (retired, unemployed, and the like) who don’t have to rush in the morning. Consistently rising sans alarm could also signal that you’re well-rested and are getting just the right amount of Zzzs each night.

This report was written By Sharon Tanenbaum

Health Tip: A Natural Breath Freshener...

To naturally freshen your breath chew on parsley, mint, anise, dill or fennel seeds.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Health Tip: Eye Health...

Good sources of zeaxanthin are citrus fruits, corn, green vegetables, winter squash and eggs. Zeaxanthin is a carotenoid which is important for eye health.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Health Tip: Lutein...

Good sources of Lutein are green-leafy vegetables, kiwifruit and eggs. Lutein is important for eye health.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Going Vegan: Day 73

Did you know?

Today I went to the doctor to get some blood tests.  I wanted to make sure everything is in sync.

Since I've changed my diet to a "plant-based" diet, starting in January, I've learned that B-12 is an essential vitamin that doesn't get absorbed in your body without meat-based products. And I wanted to check to make sure I have a balance of vitamins in my blood based on the foods I am eating.

That was my intention going in...

Coming out, I find that Vitamin D is more crucial.   Turns out studies have shown that Vitamin D is one of the root solutions in for aiding in the prevention of cancer and other diseases.

For those of us who live in the midwest, it is important to either get 10 minutes of sunlight or take a 1000 mg Vita D supplement. And since, milk, cheese and fish are the key sources that provide this vitamin I am realizing that I need to re-look at my diet to ensure I have Vitamin D.  In the meantime supplements for me.

*Read up on Vitamin D and how it curbs disease.   

There, so now you have it, "the more you know"...

Health Tip: Healthy way to thicken soup....

To make a nutritious low fat cream soup, puree cooked root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips or turnips to thicken cream soups or stews instead of a high fat cream base.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Health Tip: Goal, Evaluate, Adjust, Plan....

When working towards a goal it is helpful to frequently evaluate your progress and update and adjust your plans as necessary until you reach your goal.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Health Tip: Create health goals...

To achieve any health and wellness goal, it is important to create specific goals and then take small steps towards that goal on a consistent basis.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Health Tip: Make fruits visible...

Research shows that when fruit is visible it is more likely to be eaten. To increase the fruit in your diet, place it in an attractive bowl on your kitchen counter or on the top shelf of your refrigerator.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Recipe for today: VEGAN style peanut butter cheesecake

Pulling two recipes together, first to create the actual VEGAN cheesecake out of cashews, then replacing the lemon with peanut butter (vegan style of course).  Here are the two recipes used to "create" in the kitchen today.


Matcha Swirled Lemon Cashew Cheesecake
vegan/raw, makes one 7-9" "cheesecake"

3 cups cashews, raw (soak/drain before blending)
1/2 cup grade B maple syrup (to make truly "raw" substitute raw agave syrup in place of maple)
1/2 cup melted organic virgin coconut oil (refine or unrefined both work)
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice**
pinch of zest (over top)

green swirl:
1/2 cup cashew filling blended with 1/2-1 tsp matcha powder

crust:
3/4 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup dates (optional)
1 tsp flax seeds (optional)

matcha sprinkle to serve (optional)

**when I first made this cheesecake I used 3/4 cup lemon juice. While I actually love the bright lemon flavor, I think the average person may want it scaled back just a bit. So 2/3 cup is plenty. If you want a more subtle lemon flavor you can even scale down to 1/2 cup or even 1/3 cup and add a pinch of zest to the filling mixture (which provides a more subtle lemon essence) and replace the omitted lemon juice with water.


Directions:

1. Soak your raw cashews. For quick soak, add nuts to a bowl and fill with hot water until covered. Add a pinch of salt and allow to soak for at least 30 minutes. I like to swirl the cashews in the water every few minutes to speed up the loosening process. For long soak: soak in water for 4-6 hours. Quick soak should only be used if you have a high speed blender and use very hot water to soak.

2. While nuts soak, start squeezing your lemons. You can also process your raw walnuts until fine and chunky - for use in the crust. If using dates, process those with the nuts and optional flax seeds. Grease your serving pan with coconut oil and press the walnut mixture into the dish until a loose crust forms. Place this dish in the freezer.

3. Drain you cashews. Rinse. Add cashews to your blender or food processor. Warm/melt your coconut oil and add it to the warm drained nuts in the blender/fp. Start blending from low to high. Add in the maple syrup too. Keep blending until a chunky nut mixture forms. Blend son high until it begins to thin out a bit. Then slowly pour in the lemon juice and watch as the mixture suddenly becomes creamy and white. Keep blending until this mixture is silky smooth. This will take a few minutes and high blending speeds at some point. Use your Vitamix tamper if using a Vitamix.

4. Pull your dish from the freezer and pour our 3/4 of the mixture into the dish. Smooth flat. 

5. Blend 1/2 - 3/4 tsp match green tea powder with the leftover mixture - until smooth and green. Pour this green mixture over top the white filling and swirl. Add lemon zest over top.

6. Chill in the fridge until firm enough to slice. Serve chilled. Eat within 2-3 days. Serve with a lemon wedge and some match green tea sprinkled over top.


Triple Peanut Butter Swirl Vegan Cheesecake
vegan, makes one cheesecake - used a 9" pie dish

16 oz. vegan cream cheese (2 standard tubs)
7 oz. virgin coconut oil
6 oz. liquid sweetener (I used maple syrup .. agave works too)
4 oz. creamy salted or unsalted peanut butter

swirl:
2 Tbsp peanut butter
2 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp liquid sweetener

crust:
3/4 cup crushed vegan peanut butter cereal
1 tsp coconut oil to thickly "grease" pie dish

Lighten it up:
 This is a rich dessert! A tiny slice goes a long way. But if you crave a lighter cheesecake, you can reduce the oil to 1/3 - 1/2 cup without compromising the taste at all. The texture will simply be a bit softer and less buttery.

Directions:

1. Add the vegan cream cheese, oil and peanut butter to a small bowl. Microwave until warm, room temperature. You want the oil to be almost melted or melted and the cream cheese and peanut butter to be at least room temperature. This ensures a smooth blend. And cold ingredients will turn the coconut oil back to its hard state and prevent a smooth blend.

2. Add the warmed ingredients plus the sweetener to a blender or fp. Blend until smooth.

3. Grease your pie crust and add a thick slather of coconut oil. Press the crushed cereal into the dish. (I crushed my cereal in my Vitamix) You want a fine powder.

4. Pour the cream cheese mixture over top the crust.

5. Warm the swirl mixture in the microwave until it is at a pourable state. Then drizzle it over top the cheesecake and around the edges however you'd like. Use a blunt knife or toothpick to further swirl the peanut butter into the cheesecake. Do not over swirl or the color will become muddled.

6. Place your dish in the fridge and wait! In about 1-2 hours it should be fully cooled and ready to slice. You can speed up this process by placing it first in the freezer for ten minutes.

7. Serve: I like to allow my cheesecake to warm up a bit before serving (if I use the full fat recipe above). If you used less oil, your cheesecake will probably be on the softer side. But if it is a bit hard, simply warm on the counter for 15-20 minutes and it will soften up nicely.