Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter Solstice Blessings

In honor of the Winter Solstice, this poem came into my inbox from  the Sisters of the Integral Way a group of women who nurture  and cultivate the study of the Tao in their lives.  It is an excerpt from the book, The Five Healths for a New Humanity by Hua-Ching Ni & Mao Shing Ni.  It is most gentle, very exquisite yet powerfully strong in its meaning.

玄 女 真 經 

The Teaching of the Mystical Lady

天 地 孕 育 生 民,

Heaven and Earth conceived and nurtured human life.

至 黃 帝 之 世,

Until the time of the Yellow Emperor, 

塵 世 大 亂.

The human world was in great turmoil. 

九 天 玄 女 乃 降.

A mysterious lady from the highest Heaven descended to Earth.

或 謂 玄 女 乃 北 極 玄 氣 化 形.

As it was told, the Mystical Lady was the manifestation of the

Chi, or energy, from the North Star, 

云: 輔 弱 冠 之 黃 帝 登 位,

Destined to aid the young Yellow Emperor to the throne, 

以 安 天 下.

That the human world might know peace.

黃 帝 純 質 聰 穎,

The Yellow Emperor possessed the high intelligence. 

啟 玄 女 曰:

He requested her, saying:

何 以 為 至 中 ?

How may one become truly centered? 

何 以 為 至 神 ?

How may one become most spiritually efficacious?

何 以 為 至 正 ? 

How may one achieve uprightness to the highest degree?

何 以 為 至 聖?

How may one become most sagely?

九 天 玄 女 曰:

The Lady of the Ninth Heaven said to him:

帝 位 為 至 中 ,

The position of the healthy humanity is the most centered.

帝 位 為 至 神 , 

The position of the healthy humanity is the most subtle and effective. 

帝 位 為 至 正 ,

The position of the healthy humanity is the most upright.

帝 位 為 至 聖.

The position of the healthy humanity is the most sagely.

何 以 為 至 中?

As to how to strike the true center,

發 心 若 發 箭,

Use the mind like a shooting arrow,

無 偏 但 適 中,

There should be no deflected attention,

一 舉 而 中 的.

But with one shot, it hits the target.

能 所 歸 一 處.

Concentration brings this about.

何 以 為 至 正?

As to how to be most upright,

帝 心 若 發 箭,

The heart of the emperor should be as if shooting an arrow.

不 上 亦 不 下,

Its aim cannot be too high or too low.

不 左 亦 不 右,

Nor should it be too far to the left or too far to the right.

不 差 毫 髮 適 中 的,

There should be no slight deviation from the target.

所 發 所 至 歸 一 處.

From shot to impact, the arrow’s flight should be one and precise. 

何 以 為 至 聖?

How can one be most sagely? 

上 天 下 地 人 為 中,

From the high Heaven to the Earth below,

People are the center.

上 頭 下 腹 心 為 中,

Betwixt the high head and the low belly,

The human heart is the center. 

五 官 百 骸 氣 為 中,

Among the five organs and the whole body structure,

The vital chi is the center. 

萬 般 思 慮 神 為 中,

Among all types of thinking, the conscious mind is the center.

若 能 懂 得 守 中 理,

The one who is able to understand high truth

Enjoys remaining faithful to the center.

宇 宙 一 氣 永 居 中.

The cosmos is but one energy that always remains at the center.

何 以 為 至 神?

How can one be most spiritual?

一 物 無 可 分,

It is something that cannot be further divided.

It is to be presented in metaphors 

有 以 為 光 明,

Some think of Light.

有 以 為 道 路,

Others of the Way.

有 以 為 生 命,

Some think of Life.

有 以 為 真 理,

Others of Truth,

有 以 為 永 恆,

Still others of perpetuity.

How indeed can one be the most spiritual?

合 者 為 之 有,

When things come together,

There the new can be created.

分 者 為 之 無,

When they are divided,

非 無 亦 非 有,

There can be nothing or no existence.

惟 此 是 至 神.

This is how to know the highest spirituality. 

帝 啟 曰:

The Emperor respectfully asked:

人 有 此 可 能 乎?

Can humans have this potential? 

玄 女 曰:

The Lady answered.

吾 有 中 空 理,

We have the principle to be empty centered.

且 看 離 中 虛,

Look at the trigram of Li[2],

空 明 歸 一 處,

Where the empty center stands for light.

從 此 識 初 氣.

From this, one can understand the source of chi.

帝 又 啟:

The Emperor again requested:

均 人 也 ,

If people are the same,

何 有 思 維 之 不 同?

How can their thoughts be so different?

玄 女 曰:

The Heavenly Lady replied:

人 貴 得 天 啟,

Thoughts are valued as coming from nature.

以 天 地 為 用 心 者 為 正,

Where thinking meets Heaven and Earth there is uprightness. 

失 之 私 心 , 則 不 正.

But to treat others according to personal preference,

That deviates from what is right.

發 心 通 天, 則 合 上 帝.

Set your mind on reaching the wishes of Heaven,

To concur with the will of God.

若 以 發 心 正 否 為 判.

Once the mind is made up

Right and wrong can be judged

By the resolve of the mind.

邪 正 可 分 , 道 魔 立 判.

Then right and wrong can be known

By the purpose of the mind.

帝 曰 : 天 啟 有 異 乎?

The Emperor asked: 

Does Heaven inspire human beings differently? 

玄 女 曰:天 啟 非 異,

The Heavenly Lady replied:

There is no difference.

心 有 邪 曲 耳.

But in the minds of people lie the differences.

帝 曰 : 若 以 發 心 為 上 帝 , 可 乎?

The Emperor asked:

To make the upright use of the mind the God-self, 

Can this be proper?

玄 女: 宜 其. 否 則 , 則 涉 妄 測 天 意.

The Lady responded: Yes indeed!

Otherwise, there can be wrongdoing to exploit the Heavenly will. 

人 之 所 能, 貴 其 行 其 正, 得 其 中 耳.

A human being is capable of being upright and centered,

此 為 履 踐 天 理, 自 合 天 心.

This means to realize the Heavenly Law,

To accord naturally with the Heavenly Heart. 

帝 謂 者, 此 云 天 地 之 心 耳.

That which is called the Heavenly God by humans,

Is simply the heartfelt expression of Heaven and Earth.

帝 曰: 人 為 何 能 久 生 長 年?

The Emperor asked:

How can people be long lived?

玄 女 曰 : 無 他 .

The Heavenly Lady replied: There is nothing other than

但 守 中, 知 節; 敬 事 上 帝.

To be centered, know things have their limitations, and

Respect the highest reality. 

In the universe,

There is only one great divinity that is God.

“G” represents Great,

“D” represents Divinity.

What does the “O” represent?

Whosoever knows to keep to the “O”,

God is with that

Li is the trigram of fire

in the I Ching. 下,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Each One a Shining Star

December 14, 2012 will from now on be  remembered as a dark day in America's history.  It is unimaginable the way someone's life can turn on a dime.  I am amazed and struck by the collective suffering this despicable event has caused as well as the incredible outpouring of compassion and human caring.  We are truly One....what happens to one of us affects all of us.

I am inspired by the advice of Mister Rogers to look for the helpers.  This darkness calls all of us to shine our light, our big light, our giant light and to spread our  love and our light  to our neighbors.   This darkness brings out the helper in each of us and  hopefully inspires us to drop our petty differences and draw closer to the ones we love.

Feeling somewhat hopeless on Friday afternoon....I read somewhere on the internet to make a star for those that lost their lives that day, so that's what I did.  I cut out gold stars decorated them with glitter and taped them on our front door.  It helps me to be reminded to pray for their  safe and peaceful passage to the next world, to pray for peace on earth and to never stop praying.

"As spiritual seekers, our responsibility is to pray for the suffering souls and even for the people who caused these situations.  All we can do is to keep praying and serve each other in every possible way."
                                                                                                -Sri Swami Satchidananda

Blessings of Love and Light!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Magic in the Garden

12/12/12 was a good day. After breakfast I decorated the mantle, then went for a walk where I found some special treasures...two pretty feathers and a heart stone.  I worked a little bit,  pampered myself and got a massage.  At 12:12pm  I went outside to breathe in the good energy of the minute and the know 12:12 ON 12/12/12! I spent a few minutes in my garden that was newly cleaned of leaves and decorated for the holiday season. I have to say my little garden really feeds my soul. It doesn't get much sun but I can grow flowers and herbs and lettuce and the birds and squirrels love it. I  adore the smell of earth and the untidiness of it all.  It can get pretty wild out there...but today it was awesomely was cold and crisp and slightly windy as the chimes were ringing. The birds were busy and I could see the holes in the soil where the squirrels had been searching for their hidden nuts. I started taking pictures so I could document the beauty I found there, beauty that I had a hand in creating.

It was a magical day and the sunset was breathtaking!  The magic and the beauty really fed my soul. These kinds of days,  and experiences are necessary and provide me with sustenance of a different form.  This is a self care practice that is vital to my health and wellness.  I'd love to hear some of the rituals in your life that provide you with food for your soul.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Rendering Pumpkin

This weekend I rendered pumpkin. I always turn the leftover pumpkins into mashed pumpkin to be used in puddings, soups, pies, smoothies, breads and any other recipe requiring pumpkin.  Some folks say that the big pumpkins, not the pie pumpkins, taste blah but I disagree especially if you roast the pumpkin like I do.  Roasting vegetables will always produce a more intense concentrated flavor and that's exactly what happens in the case of roasting pumpkin.

Before I tell you how I do this I want to say that pumpkin is an extremely healthy food. What is so healthy about pumpkin anyway?   First of all any brightly colored fruit or vegetable is going to be a healthy food as the food pigments also known as flavonoids supply many protective antioxidants.  Beta carotene which contains flavonoids gives the pumpkin it's extreme orange color . Pumpkin is also high in Vit A which protects  the eyes and vision, as well as  Vit C for the immune system and  potassium for maintaining electrolytes and keeping the muscles healthy.  A high fiber food, pumpkin is excellent for maintaining a healthy weight and controlling blood sugar levels.

So......let's get started rendering this amazingly healthy food substance:

                               First get a big sturdy sharp knife and cut the pumpkin in half.

Then get a big spoon and start scraping out the seeds and goop.  Take the spoon and literally scrape the inside of the pumpkin...this is the hardest part to this whole process.  Sometimes if I'm in the mood I will save and roast the seeds but this time I just discarded the seeds along with the stringy goop.

Take the pumpkin half and invert it onto a sturdy baking sheet and pour about an inch of water around the pumpkin half. Place in the oven and bake for about a 1 and 1/2 hours at 350˚ until pooped out.

Here is what a pooped out roasted pumpkin half looks like:

Then turn the pumpkin over so you can to scoop out the cooked pumpkin.  This one was so well roasted I couldn't turn it over so I peeled the skin off.   I couldn't stop munching on it, it was so sweet and delicious.  I think if you'd ask me what my favorite food I would have to say it is pumpkin and winter squash and sweet potatoes, I can't ever get enough of these foods.  I then put my cooked, mushed pumpkin in containers for  freezer storage. I put some in little snack bags that I folded in half so I can use those individual portions for adding pumpkin to smoothies or my morning oatmeal.

The next day I made pumpkin soup which I've been eating each day for lunch....I am so addicted to soup for lunch.  My husband found a pumpkin cheesecake recipe which I think I'll be making soon and a dear friend was raving about the pumpkin cheesecake she made for Thanksgiving so I think this is going to be in my future very soon...but I love pumpkin the best as is eaten with a spoon  right out of the container....My son thinks I'm crazy!

Have fun roasting pumpkin....and using your pumpkin throughout the winter.  Share your favorite ways of using pumpkin by leaving a comment below.

Lisa Olko RN is a Certified Health Coach and Lifestyle Educator, to read more about her and the services she offers visit her website.  To get a Free Health Consultation with Lisa click here.