The Wandering Monk

Brewmaster Rysu – New Posts On Tuesdays


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The Middle Ground – Find Your Balance

Some time ago we talk about diet, pH balance, and adjusting the environment of one’s body.  Transforming our bodies from a toxic underground akin to the New York Hood, where police fight a losing and endless war against nefarious thugs who threaten to overthrow the entire ecosystem, to a growing, balanced environment where the cells in your body are nourished in their natural states and genetic structure isn’t mutated abnormally (which is the source cause of all Cancer).

One book, although seemingly written for the valley girl and the soccer mom, balls up these philosophies into a single book called ‘Crazy, Sexy Diet’, written by Kris Carr. Her backstory is an interesting one; she was diagnosed in 2003 with a rare and incurable stage IV cancer. She launched a campaign against the cancer, and absorbed as much about diet, cancer manipulation, and the truth about how our bodies operate, as most scientists, in probably a third of the time. She hasn’t done the traditional treatment and her Cancer is stable and controlled at last report. You can find out more about Kris Carr at her website.

From a physiological perspective, creating a hospitable environment in our bodies sounds fundamental when you think about it. For thousands of years, we’ve only had the earth’s produce to sustain us. Meat wasn’t always available and our bodies naturally found balance between the two kinds of foods (plant-based and animal-based). It only makes sense that the more we selfishly augment our food for commercial growth without an eye on the nutritional repercussions (the 50s-80s are to blame for this), the more toxic it is for our bodies. Eating food that’s got chemicals in it is no different than breathing air that does. You wouldn’t choose to breath in smog or exhaust, right? Believe it or not, that’s actually a choice that people make every day (See: SFCA, NYNY, and many other large cities who have a perpetual air-polluted cloud over them).

The great news is, even if you don’t decide to adopt 100% of the book’s ideals, you’ll see improvement. Hundreds of studies done from institutions all over the world agree that the body, when offered the chance to recover and thrive in a health environment, always recovers very quickly despite its’ damage, so long as that damage is capable of healing. More good news: Most of the ‘damage’ caused by bad diet decisions and poor body maintenance can be reverted very quickly, so long as the environment you introduce it to is a happy and healthy one.

Let’s talk about chemicals that our body produces. Have you ever wondered why we feel emotions? Not spiritually or mentally, but chemically, as an organism, what do emotions serve? Of course, fear drives us away from things that may eat us, happiness drives us towards things that we like, but consider this: A University of Pennsylvania study reported that emotions are a two-way street to your body’s natural responses to physical changes. What that means is.. if you’re unhappy with your body, and you feel sad about it, those emotions will actually make your body less capable of sustaining itself in the state it’s in. Conversely, if you are happy with yourself, then your body will naturally try to sustain such a physical state. As Thich Nhat Hanh said, “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.” — or more simply put, happiness begets happiness, so being happy makes you happy, which makes you happy, which makes you happy. Happiness is the way.

But something has to start that chain reaction right? Enter a positive mind, a healthy body, a productive and fulfilling lifestyle, and giving yourself time to perform regular true, honest inventories of yourself in order to assess your state. I mentioned Thich Nhat Hanh earlier; he’s a Zen Master who has written many books. Two of my favorite are Peace is Every Step and Peace is Every Breath, both of which offer methods for introducing meditation and mindfulness into our daily lives. This is not a religious book and, in keeping with Buddhist philosophies, is highly readable even if you are not a Buddhist because Buddhism isn’t a religion in the traditional sense; it’s a path of spiritual guidance and a way of learning and teaching.

Facing ourselves can be hard. There are many psyche-blocks we have designed to dissuade such an event. We have justifications and reasoning for how we treat ourselves or how we think. We have dodges that blame or accuse others, that deflect inspection under the guise of mental pain or what-have-you. But when you give yourself time — even just 10 minutes — to sit quietly with yourself and observe the contents of your mind as if watching a movie or looking through a crystal ball, you’ll find that your mind wants you to talk about things and show you things that you have yet resolved. It will ask you to observe them and you should — don’t push them away. When they show up, breath and listen to your breath with your awareness. Say to yourself, “Breathing in, I know there are tensions I must face. Breathing out, I let those tensions go.”

When we nurture our bodies, cherish our spirits, respect the Self, and embrace our minds, all as if they were a small child who we want to protect, we find ourselves in a profound state. A state that allows us to face any fear because we know we have the tools to negotiate it. A state that allows us to reconcile our anger, to step away from our emotional responses, and to fill ourselves with positive thoughts and joyful compassion. Spend 3 months like this; sitting with yourself for a few minutes a day. You will notice profound differences and you will give yourself a gift that will last with you for the rest of your life.

Image from The Science and Adventure of God

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Chaos and the Cycle of Silence

Chaos.

At first glance the word excites a certain perspective in our minds.  For me, I think of an explosion, or a large crowd of people that are rioting.  Strange, perhaps, but chaos can take many forms.  Not the least of which is the form of scattered, littering thoughts in your mind.

Yes, your mind.  Inside the sacred temple of thought whose permissible entrants are your deepest psyche and no one else, chaos can take root.  For most of us, it has not only taken root, but it is a permanent resident.  Each day we’re bombarded by the prison of the past and the daunting and fear-exciting prospects of the future.  Each day we wake up begrudgingly and fearfully, as if the past has whispers in ours ears even in our dreams and the future taunts us with impossible tasks.

Projects need completing, failures loom, and our every waking moment is a reflection of the past where the places we’ve been and the place’s we think we’re going converge.  The present moment is little more than the clashing of two giant waves of unavoidable failure, and we — poor little us — are doomed to endure such a fate each and every day.

But we soldier on, gritting our teeth and gripping with white knuckles the fearful moment, hoping the our grim prospects of the future aren’t what’s in today’s hand, and that the cards are buried somewhere deep in the deck.  Deep down, we know it must be dealt, yet we hope it isn’t today because, if it is, we may not know just how to handle it.

Sound familiar?

If so, you’re not alone.  Turns out this is the way many people think and many of those don’t escape it.  But you’re in luck — you can escape it.  How? What magical spell must I cast to rid myself of the confines of the ever-compression future and the ever-damning past?

Why, a change of perspective, of course!  But, this perspective isn’t just any change, it’s the realist kind. The kind where we don’t combat the future and past, but instead, allow them to be as they are and nothing more.  We live in the present moment.

Here, now, where we live, the past’s transgressions can no longer hurt  you.  Here, now, the future’s daunting and potentially imperial future can’t weaken you.  Here, we sit away from the specters that haunt us and instead, discover ourselves.

Our true selves, you see.  The selves that dispatch the future and the past with ease, because they dismiss the notion that the future is doom and unhandleable, and the past where our mistakes lie.  The past serves as a record of the various versions of the present and, assuredly, the present is continuously written.   The future is the foreseeable sum of all potentialities.  You’ve taught yourself both to dread and learn from the past and dread and fear the future.  Yet, you’ve never taught yourself to treasure the present!  Well, take a breath my friend, and start appreciating life!

Often, we tell ourselves, “I’ll be happy when I …” and we list a few check boxes that are left until we can finally be happy.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  Tell me, have you achieved any of those boxes?  Have you found eternal happiness?

What if I told you that happiness was less a distant destination and more a companion sitting silently by your side, waiting for you to notice them?  What if I told you that once you stopped your marathon trek towards happiness and waited, that it’d appear without your need?

Why, you’d think I was crazy!  Yet, that is precisely how happiness works!  It lives within you only when you have embraced it.  It exists only when you have committed to it now.

I’ll leave this post with a suggested reading:  Peace is Every Breath  by Which That Hath.

Ask yourself deeply before beginning:  Do I really desire happiness? Or am I bound by the mere pursuit of it?  


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A Break in Perspective

It’s been a while since my last blog post.  My Tuesday updates kind of tapered off as a major changes in my own life took root.  I want to say that I was so distracted by everything going on, that I didn’t have the time to sit down and write a blog post.  If I said that, however, I’d be lying.  I had plenty of time and, in fact, thought about it often.  I wanted to write many times — and had many ideas to write about!  But I didn’t.  At first, I couldn’t quite figure out what was holding me back.  But then, after I spent some time on the topic in my mind, I realized just what it was.

See, life is this funny thing.  If we view life like a classroom, we can draw many similarities.  Recent events in my life have been those hard course topics that draw a lot of my attention.  I knew that this time in my life would teach a me a lot and I think that it was my need to digest these lessons that kept me from writing.  

I’ve been writing a lot about the same or similar topic(s).  I believe in life and happiness, on empathy, on balance, and on the interesting and cohesive nature of all things being tied together yet inherently separated.  I’ve thought much about this and even composed a tentative blog post about the way human beings are in terms of needing to put things in nice, neat boxes when creation and reality isn’t so clearly defined.  About how we, as human beings, get so caught up when things that are supposed to be one way end up not being that way, when they aren’t in the right box, that it can drive us mad.  I still want to post that blog post, because I think it’s a wonderful thought experiment to go into.  

But even armed with a topic I was passionate about, I couldn’t will myself to sit down and begin typing here.  I couldn’t figure out exactly why until today.

I need a break in perspective.

I didn’t just need a normal break, I need my perspective to experience something wholly unique and to interpret it and adjust accordingly.  I needed the shift in my own cognative understanding and I needed to understand that it had happened and, once it had, how to interpret it all.  As if watching a metamorphoses but for a creature I’d never seen before.  I couldn’t write about it until I knew what it had become.  I needed the final result.  

Maybe I haven’t found it yet and I am still changing.  One could argue that we are always changing and never stopping — and I would agree with them — but I think that I have come far enough pause and think.  

The past month has been an interesting one.  I’ve traveled across a several states, reunited with people from parts of my life that I believed were over, and rediscovered a few lessons about life and about people that I had forgotten.  It’s has been a kind of nostalgic walk down memory lane.  Perhaps the universe is taking me down this path to ask me what I’ve learned and to see if I handle things differently or fall into old habits.  Perhaps I am being given a second chance to pace through situations where I had made my mistakes, and make amends.  Perhaps I am facing people from my past so that I can help them, or so that they can help me.  Or perhaps I’ve returned to these places because I willed it myself, since it’s familiar and easier.  

Whatever the reason, it’s a place that I feel happy with.  I have a few major life decisions to make but not ones that are stressing me out or causing me any kind of suffering.  Perhaps I will take steps as my intuition or the omens of the world suggest, and beyond that I’ll simply wait.  Or maybe I will forge my own path based on what I want.  

The lesson that I want to share in this post is one of many that I have discovered (or rediscovered), and that is one of kindness.  In the past — in a life that I had lead that was very similar to the one I am leading now — I was not as kind as I could have been.  I was not kind to myself, to those who were close to me, or to those that I worked with. I focused on the negativity that I could find and I broadcasted it to all those who would hear it.  I told everyone how bad things were all the time and upon my exit, I was aware only on the outskirts of my spiritual senses, that I had generated the energy — in part or in whole — that had sent many of those around me off in directions that caused them to exit my life. 

Friends went searching for new jobs, close-knit groups of professionals disbanded in the name of moving on with their careers, and friendships crumbled under the duress of their interdependent life stressors.  I pointed out how bad things were for so long and, as if it were a curse, the negative energy I put out disbanded the remaining good things that I spent so little time appreciating.  I look back on those times and don’t even recall the bad parts that I had been so vehement about.  I only remember my friends and our laughs, the lessons I had learned and how grateful I am to have learned them. 

Now I stand on some of the same floors I did before, as a person very similar to the one I was before in title and in point of view.  

It’s time to do things differently this time.

It’s time to wake up each day and take care of myself, smile, laugh, support others, and embrace positive things.  It’s time to develop those who need it and embrace those who try.  It’s time to accept others as assuredly as I would ask them to accept me.  It’s time to highlight areas for improvement with the mind to repair and build, not demean and destroy.  

Today I will take that step.  And all I needed as a break in perspective.