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Archive for the ‘health and wellness’ Category

“One goes to a work of art a little bit more opened and also the interaction is one of immersion. For a while there you are living other people’s lives and you are paying attention to it with an empathy. Especially with books you have to imagine it yourself and you imagine what was it like to be in the Napoleonic wars and what did it feel like? Not the facts but the feeling. So it’s a very emotional business and once you get to the emotional level, you begin to process in a different level than when you are reading the news in a more cognitive sense.” (Kim Stanley Robinson)
Devouring the planet

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Dr. Fritjof Capra told us in his book The Web of Life our global crisis is a crisis of perception. I would like to build on that brilliant conclusion. Our consumption driven social and economic system dis-empower us by creating a warped perception of scarcity where we are led to believe we never have enough and we are never enough. We are not wealthy enough, not good looking enough (not enough boobs, butt or muscles), not successful enough, not courageous or free enough.

Global capitalism creates an illusion of inner vacuum which can never be filled. It was an amazing economic breakthrough, a Perpetual Motion Machine for the market moved by the ever thirsting egos of billions of consumers; an inexhaustible voltage of wants; an unbridgeable gap between we are and where must be. Most if not everyone who will read these lines can relate to the compulsive search to fill the vacuum we fill in our guts when we count the hours to complete our work day to the frantic weekend.

We try to fill this undeniable vacuum with that new car, next vacation, new extreme adventure, our dream home, possibly that new romantic partner or the marriage that will follow. Perhaps we will fill the vacuum when have our first born? Or will it be when we retire and we have more time to indulge in many more of these diversions.

Materialism and capitalism despite the progress and the quality of life that have brought to humankind, have also come at a very high toll: the disintegration of the world inside and outside of us from the processing and fragmentation of our food to the fragmentation of our psychology. All life on Earth including our very own species is was conceived and developed in a cradle of unlimited relationships, most of them synergistic. In fact if you want to look beyond the laws of biology and ecology, you can ask a physicist what is the essence of the universe. He or she will respond with more or less mathematical detail it is a dynamic flow of relationships.

Such notion of reality is in complete opposition to the ever fragmenting world the Cartesian-Newtonian materialism we are still abiding by. The compulsive categorization and break down of reality driven by such paradigm has divided the world into more and smaller compartments. Such event has literally fragmented the notion of our universe and our very selves. It is this culturally imposed sense of separation that has created countless disconnections between our believes, knowledge, emotions, our bodies, our fellow human beings, our sister life forms and the rest of the planet outside the lonesome voice of our ego, all of which used to be seamlessly connected sometime before we started looking at the world as a machine, and by default at ourselves.

Life is very complex and theories come and go but I am completely certain our prevalent profit and control driven notion of reality is fundamentally false. It is a psychological program designed to enslave us all. The future of humanity if it has one, is to overcome the current perception of ourselves and the world in which we have been imprisoned.

I highly recommend this article from Resurgence and Ecologist magazine. It offers a great insight on this topic.

The wolf of wall street

Image source: ‘Why Do We Like to Watch Rich People on TV and in the Movies?’

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I could not help going back to the time when this surreal landscape was inhabited

Of the many ideas I have had to create sustainability, there is one that keeps me particularly fascinated. It occurred to me while hiking in the stunning rocks shown in the photo. I was rock hoping in Red Rock Canyon when I found this beautiful cave which could have well been somebody’s living room ten centuries ago. It made reconsider how sterile and separated from nature our working spaces are. I could not resist the idea of someday bringing my office to a place like this. As bold and enticing the thought was the environmentalist in me could not even contemplate the idea of allowing me to invade such a pristine and protected environment.

So if I could not bring my working space to this natural surrounding maybe I could take the reverse action and get a similar result. That led me to an even wilder idea. I seriously contemplated bringing this landscape to our work space, our living space, and our overall human infrastructure. I know it is mind boggling but please stay with me.

This is a wild ride. It’s a sci-fi film where humans would stop conquering Nature and for the first time, the conquered would be become the conqueror. Of course Nature will conquer our environment if we stop containing it. We can see that when stop maintaining a lawn. It’s a matter of time before a prairie settles in. Unfortunately Nature takes much longer than us to take a territory. And that is why I am toying with the idea of accelerating this reclaiming of territory by Nature with our assistance. The very power we have used to take land, water and other natural resources from the wild could be used to help her recover it.

I cannot think of a deeper way to reconcile our broken relationship with Nature; to redeem ourselves from the damage and the pain we have caused to the wild; to restore our lost connection to the land than to allowing Nature to invade our socio-technical environment. Imagine waking up to the song of tropical birds, rock climbing to the water fountain, watching tree tops in your commute to work and falling asleep to the sound of a cascade. Hold on! This is not a vacation in Costa Rica. This is a work day in your city of residence in a not too distant future.

If you are bold enough to believe this wild dream can be designed into reality, I encourage you to read future posts. I am looking for examples of this bold concept already developed.

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13_53_21_prevGlobal warming inertia refers to the fact that if even we stopped global consumption of all fossil fuels today we have already emitted enough greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to continue global temperature  and sea level rise for at least another century. But this gloomy albeit realistic scenario must not discourage us from taking action. Neither must we put off mitigation in our efforts to discover the ‘perfect cure’ for global warming.

We just cannot afford to delay deployment of green energy because of the need for R&D to mature this technology and accelerate its market penetration. Both functions must be performed  simultaneously. The longer we wait to mitigate this issue the more the catastrophic risks will increase. We have to avoid the old intellectual trap of analysis paralysis. Our window of opportunity to prevent the worse effects of global warming is closing. This recent article illustrates how tricky the issues is.

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DSC00789We would not damage the environment if we realized it is a part of us in the same way we will avoid hurting our hands as they are part of us.  Humans need to expand their identity beyond the levels of individual, social group, and even species. The day we learn we are one with the rest of the Biosphere and learn anything else alive is after all a cousin, we will reconnect with Nature.

What barriers do we need to remove at the psyche’s level to understand the fact that we are still an element of the Natural Ecosystem? One of the most erroneous and deeply held believes is our socio-technical environment being separated and autonomous from the natural world. Despite the comfort, convenience and resources our manmade environments may offer, they all result from our life-sustaining system, Nature.

If we saw the myriad of interactions between our man-made environment and the natural environment such as the air we all breathe and the food we eat, we would realize the notion of separation is nothing but an illusion. But our Western cultural heritage makes us believe we are isolated egos fighting and surviving a world outside of us. Such notion is not just unhealthy but false. We are connected by blood, ethnicity, faith, ideology and other cultural bonds. Those who were at the Occupy movement protests in New York this year experienced something that cannot be reduced to a mere collection of individuals but far more than that: a collective psyche emerging from the interaction of the crowd and its protesting leaders.

Unfortunately despite how popular protests are in the environmental movement, they are still a long way from enabling humans to reconnect with Nature. The fact is that the same connecting factors that connect us in groups are ironically the very same ones that create the fragmentation that separate us from other human beings that belong to opposing groups. We make the old emotional and intellectual error illustrated by the expression ‘you are either with us or against us’. But in Nature and by default, in the outside reality beyond the human drama, it seldom is ‘either or’. Most times it is ‘both’ and ‘many’. Reality is a highly complex, multi-dimensional and interdependent living system where each one of us has something to share and build with every other human and non-human being.

Disciplines such as deep ecology and eco-psychology use the facts above as premises for their work raising (environmental) consciousness.

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LMP_2008_Reforestation_EffortAlthough we are all the same in not wanting problems and wanting a peaceful life, we tend to create a lot of problems for ourselves. Encountering those problems, anger develops and overwhelms our mind, which leads to violence. A good way to counter this and to work for a more peaceful world is to develop concern for others. Then our anger, jealousy and other destructive emotions will naturally weaken and diminish‘ (His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

I have always said that the best way to forget about our problems and addictions is to serve others. In doing so we escape the tyranny of our egos whose insatiable appetite for attention and external things prevent us from ever finding satisfaction, peace and happiness. Unlike movies and society tell us our purpose as humans is not to get, control, become, or to succeed, but TO SERVE.

We are here to serve a just and constructive cause; to take care of people, animals, nature; to stimulate knowledge and values; to settle conflict and mitigate suffering. In a few words we are here to raise consciousness in the act of servitude. That is what life is about, making a contribution, humble as it may be for truth, justice and above all for LIFE in this planet.

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As accustomed as we may have become, most of us nowadays feel rushed and literally out of breath. The so commonly known ‘rat race’ almost everyone experiences in our modern life makes us adopt unhealthy habits we literally become addicted to and what is worse, we take for granted. We feel almost as if we were on a non-stop mission. We even believe at a more or less conscious level we are some kind of  James Bond or special forces character. So we stress out for a false sense of achievement, glory or simply an apparent productivity we display to ourselves, our peers, family and friends. Stress has become a (dysfunctional) way to earn respect in modern society. Quite often if someone does not look at least slightly stressed, we tend to believe they may not be really in charge, productive or competent.

The truth is that anyone who studies this condition from the yoga teacher to the psychologist or the family practitioner can easily elaborate on the risks of its lifestyle and behaviors. But it does not look like the modern day challenges that trigger stress, our tight schedules and budgets, morning commute, competition and pressures at work, doom and gloom news, and other stressors are going away any time soon. Like my old yoga instructor used to say, you cannot change the chaos outside, only your reaction to it.

I have thus learned and continue to learn this simple yet difficult lesson every time I wake up. It is an increasing challenge. However there are effective countermeasures we can all take to create a buffer with the outside stressful reality. There is a number of psycho-physical practices we can use to maintain and restore our inner peace. Probably the oldest one and in my opinion , the best one is yoga, which has passed the test of time with an estimated 5000 years of history. The basis of the yoga is the art and control of breath, a process that has a direct effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, the portion of the nervous system responsible for our natural state of rest and calm. The parasympathetic system controls primary bodily functions such as salivation, lacrimation and digestion.

Our fast paced modern life has made our breath shallow and erratic preventing us from obtaining the proper amount of oxygen we need for the healthy operation of our psycho-phisycal unit. Think of it as running your car with a dirty engine air filter. Just like your car not getting enough oxygen takes its power away, insufficient oxygen causes us energy loss and fatigue, what can lead to number of health issues.

You do not have to hire a Yoga guru or a doctor to learn again how to properly breath. Like so many other activities in present day, you can learn to enhance and control your breathing from the comfort of your home through your beloved personal computer or smart phone.

A new digital health and wellness company called Saagara has launch an ‘app’ (software application) that will teach you how to breathe like a yogi using music and animation. You may learn more about it through my article at Examiner.com.

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