The Journey Towards Freedom

“Rise up nimbly and go on your strange journey to the ocean of meanings…. Leave and don’t look away from the sun as you go, in whose light you’re sometimes crescent, sometimes full.” Rumi

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I wrote this excerpt as part of The Path of The Unconventional, however due to the overall length of the entire blog, I decided to post it separately. Although, this blog is a component of living an unconventional lifestyle, challenging the ‘norms’ that we are all conditioned to accept, and to at least attempt to live a life that gives us greater meaning and fulfillment. Thus, to really make choices that facilitate this transition towards living a life of greater resonance with who we are, does not actually require one to be independently wealthy or even have that much financial stability. All that it requires is to have the focus, drive, and patience to strive for what we are seeking. In my own life I know this to be a reality, as I have been able to travelled extensively and educated myself in various fields, completely on my own with my own limited income. In life, there is both self-will and a deterministic component to life, governed by karma. Yet, we still have some aspect of free will to assert within the realm of our daily lives; to improve our inner being and to strive towards living the life that will inevitable fulfill us on a deeper level. “Destiny can be changed through austerities and spiritual practices”. Amma

To really scrutinize the terms of conditioning that we all are bombarded with is extremely important. I mention this point, as my husband and I decided to travel to India for a minimum of 6 months to go to do yoga, spend time in Amritapuri, get Ayurvedic treatments, and spend time on the beaches in Kerala and Goa. However, all of our family members questioned this extended retreat, wondering why we would give up the current life that we are living to go to India for so long.

The main reason behind this trip, comes from the reality that I used to live a life that was steeped in meaning, passion, and community that completely resonated with who I am as a person. To realize that residing in a very exclusive area of the city in which I am currently living, in an extremely beautiful property, and surrounded by very nice furniture and belongings does not bring the contentment or true happiness that I am seeking at this point in my life. Despite having a seemingly lovely lifestyle, its devoid of what I value, it feels sterile and empty. I understand that only true contentment can be found on an inner level and that the external world of objects is not where we will find any lasting peace. One could question the discontent with my current life, as the problem is always on an inner level. However, I strongly feel that we need to trust our guiding instincts that allow us to make the necessary decisions, allowing us to further our inner growth as human beings. After nine years in this city, both my husband and I strongly feel that our time here is now done, thus the transition of travelling and seeking out an external environment more conducive to our spiritual seeking, is what we have chosen to embark upon.

To live the life that you seek, you must be very clear as to what that may entail, as its you who will be living it. “When you do things from your soul you feel a river moving in you, a joy. When action come from another section, the feeling disappears.” ~Rumi

Perhaps, because I have lived with very little at certain points in my life and I have  also lived with beautiful materialism; I am able to be detached from the stagnation and trap of desiring and exclusively seeking materialism. The latter statement is a testament of the times we are living, as almost every member of my family and my husbands family are obsessed by materialism; its their god, their one and only true salvation, their only source of real joy, meaning, and status. However, underneath this false reality is a superfluous emptiness and spiritual poverty that is terrifying. To me, it seems ludicrous that anyone will ever find contentment by increasing their level of materialism, yet the entire world is brain washed to believe this fable; a very convenient product of consumerism and the hold that media and endless advertising has on everyone. 

Even though I am not free from the influence of materialism, nor do I condone materialism, I just know that ‘things’ will never bring the true contentment or lasting joy that I seek in life. I choose to live a life of unconventional dharma centered values, to embark on traveling for extended periods of time, and perhaps to move to another country to live. “Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?” Rumi.

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The Path of The Unconventional

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest–a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein

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It takes tremendous courage and self assurance to go against the grain of hegemony and the prevalence of conformity and homogeneity that we see world wide. It also takes a certain level of critical thinking, applied experientially to ones life, to really understand the necessity to live more of a counter-culture or subversive lifestyle. What I am talking about is not merely to be who you are in all of your unique authenticity. Actually, the implication that I am asserting is the importance of realigning our focal point of being aware of the greater society surrounding us. Thus, the motives within the consumer based cultural currency, the true value of life, and how to live a life of greater awareness and intrinsic value. Of course, we can not be fully aware of everything that is going on in society or at a global level, yet with the advent of the internet, if you are open to knowing the facts; they are abruptly visible.

The paradigm that I mostly discuss is based on holistic lifestyle, not merely a physical based paradigm of what we see as the mainstream use of ‘holistic’, yet a deeper reality of living a truly holistic life. Thus, to embody holism entails realizing that we are interconnected to all the other beings in this world, we are interdependent on our earth’s natural resources, and we are interconnected with each other. There have been numerous scientists studying the actual phenomena of interconnectivity, proving that indeed we are all interconnected, as one entity in existence. This reality has been understood throughout history by numerous holistic medical systems, healers, and spiritual practitioners.

To choose a lifestyle based on the suffering of any being or animal, is not a holistic lifestyle, as when you support a culture of death and killing animals to sustain yourself; you are living a lower conscious lifestyle where you are creating more karma for yourself, to inevitably deal with later. This concept, has been historically a prevalent and intrinsic understanding within the majority of people seeking spiritual enlightenment. To continue to partake in the suffering of any other living being only adds to ones own karma. Hence, to choose a diet and lifestyle that is based on non-violent principles, local organic foods which support the local small scale organic farmers, and to understand the principles of our connection to the natural world is a lifestyle of great value. I personally only consume, mostly local organic produce purchased from my farmers market, then I go to a locally owned store to purchase other organic items and organic-fair trade items. I avoid ingredients such as palm oil, due to the massive slaughter of Orangoutangs throughout areas where they are commercially growing palm oil. In addition, I also stay away from most ‘organic’ produce from California or other organic mechanical agriculture that is not as high quality as what I can find locally.

In addition, food and diet is only so important. Other factors, that I deem much more important are how we interact with other fellow human beings and all other creature that we share this planet with. Again, to show others kindness is something seemingly so rare, not just regular people but the less fortunate. I often will purchase food for the obvious drug addicts who beg outside of stores I shop in. I try to treat them like anyone else, even if I am uncomfortable by their behavior or appearance. I still try to make an effort to treat less fortunate people, as the human beings that they are. The reason why I practice this type of action is that I see how self absorbed we are as a society, how selfish and indulgent almost everyone has become (myself included, to some degree), thus to try to act selflessly, even if we are not completely ‘selfless’ is still better than not acting at all. The truth of the matter is that anyone could find themselves in a less fortunate position, alone, and without anything.

To really understand that we are all interconnected and that our actions and choices have a tremendous impact on others and the larger world is important to consider in our daily choices. I am always aware of what my resources are supporting, through the simple choices that I am making on a daily basis. Even though I am not the perfect ‘green’ individual, almost everything I use is organic or supports the organic movement and is produced without harm to other living beings, from my food, toiletries, and most of my clothing. To use our critical thinking, experiential knowledge, and sense of humanity for the greater good has a far more powerful and fulfilling affect, than to live a life knowing the consequences of our actions and choices, yet doing nothing to change them. Inevitably, only our actions truly affect us, therefore to at least try to create continuous positive actions and choices not only benefits us, yet many other people and animals that may otherwise suffer due to our choices.

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The Search For Truth

“The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” Thich Nhat Hanh

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In the ebb and flow of life, have you ever dreamed an amazing dream of creating a beautiful opportunity for yourself through traveling or spending precious time in some undeniably magical destination. In my life, as of the last few years I have strongly felt a deep draw to return to India, to submerge myself into the vibration of spiritual practice towards inner transformation. Several years ago my husband and I planned such a trip, we figured everything out and even asked Amma if we could come to India. She said, “come when you can”, thus as a few years went by this dream seemed to fade into something else. Lost, my one true dream of true longing and yearning; faded into the mirage of the life I was struggling through.

Like all of the most beautiful and lovely things in life, they often come when we completely let go and create a space large enough for their manifestation. Hence, I had planned a trip to New York to visit a friend, during the exact time Amma would be there and possibly a trip to Boston to join Amma for the retreat. Although, I kept getting such an intense feeling that was not a beneficial trip for me, in anyway. In the midst of this confusion, over whether to cancel this trip or not, during my morning sadhana I suddenly had an extremely intense feeling to go to India. The feeling was like a small flame being discovered, once my awareness went to it, it became like a huge inferno of flame, consuming me. As soon as my husband came home, before I had a chance to mention this intense urge to him, he told me that he was done with his current job and was going to quit. He was very calm and collected, through his own epiphany that day, realizing that one aspect of his life was done and he needed to create space for the next chapter to begin.

I mentioned the trip to India and we just plunged into the depth of going for it, as I booked our tickets the next day, we were completely committed. Like diving into the depth of an endless ocean, knowing that there was so much to organize before leaving in only two months! However, the exact feeling I had about going to India that auspicious morning was one of a physical sensation of just falling into an abyss of surrender, of completely letting go of everything and just going to India. In the experience of this sublime feeling, I also had images flash instantly before my eyes of everything that needed to take place before we left, yet I strongly felt that everything would be taken care of easily. The feeling was as crystalline clear, in that moment I remembered my longing to go to India, revived and renewed, a reality at last. 

On September 5, 2013 we will go to India to spend 6 months at Amritapuri, Amma’s South Indian ashram. We also plan on taking small trips around South India to some of the lovely beaches located between Kerala and Goa. It has been 14 years since my last trip to India, the feeling is like going home, more than to just visit. It will be my fifth trip to India in my life and one that I feel will be the most profound and transformational. 

The lesson that I seem to be learning in life, is that when you let go of all of the plans, instead surrendering to the essence of where we are suppose to be, rather than were we want to be; magical experiences suddenly manifest, allowing us to experience what our heart truly craves. In my case, to spend such a long duration in the fire of daily sadhana, is what I seek the most in this life, even if I have forgotten this numerous times throughout my life; I remember it now. 

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The Search for Holistic Health

“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos – the trees, the clouds, everything.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

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This is the first actual excerpt that I have submitted regarding what I think constitutes a holistic lifestyle; in terms of foods, supplements, and herbs. The reason why, is due to the fact that true Holism is not based on pure physicality, as we prevalently see today within the parameter of the words ‘holistic  health’. Through Sattva Holistic, my approach has been to focus much more on the actual paradigm of what constitutes a truly holistic approach to living. Thus, most of my articles focus on the underlying political, social, and moral issues surrounding the type of choices we should make regarding our choice of food and water, rather than just focusing on what one should eat. I choose to point out the deeper context of using one’s discrimination, rational, and intuition when it comes to focusing on what propels us into a much more peaceful, joyous, and harmonious life, through living holistically.

The basis of my dietary approach is focused on social awareness, thus I believe in supporting the small local organic farmers as much as possible, over larger corporate owned  businesses. My interest and quest for following a holistic lifestyle has been prevalent throughout my entire life, therefore eating an all organic vegetarian, whole foods diet is ubiquitous to who I am, rather than an interest that I have had for a duration of my lifetime. I often refer to my diet as being ‘whole foods’ based, rather than demarcating myself into some system of classification such as ‘raw’, ‘vegan’, or ‘vegetarian’. Over more than two decades I have experimented with numerous dietary paradigms, first by becoming a vegan vegetarian at age 17 after reading John Robins, “Diet for a New America’. Shortly following this I tried an all raw food diet almost 20 years ago, then macrobiotic diet, followed by eating an Ayurvedic based diet. However, at this point in my life I practice what I call a fusion diet, where my food is of a high raw percentage with a small portion of pre-soaked and cooked grains, such as quinoa, or black, red and pink rice. I consume very little processed food and eat a completely gluten free diet.

I am also almost vegan only using a very small amount of organic butter and once in a while some raw organic cheese produced locally where the cows are treated well and roam free. However, the main reason I don’t consume many animal products and certainly no animal flesh is due to the moral and ethical issues of eating an animal that has been tortured its entire life, then killed in a state of complete fear. I disagree with consuming anything that causes suffering to another sentient being on this planet. I could go on to list a number of other reasons, like health, environment, social or economic reasons, yet such reasons all pale in comparison to the brutality inflicted on animals for their meat and milk, its unconscionable, to say the least.

A day in the life of my holistic lifestyle starts with consuming fresh filtered spring water with added Oxygen Supreme from Health Force. Today, the spring water is still cold from being sourced from the original spring in North Vancouver, Lynn Valley yesterday afternoon. I have this water with 1 tbsp of Green Sage Protein from Health Force as the first product of the morning. Next I heat up a few cups of a tea mix I brew with predominately a chaga component.Today is my chaga brewing day, simmering the actual chaga for a little over 3 hours in filtered spring water. I then added the following all organic herbs: red reishi, eleuthro, holy basil, ashwagandha, schisandra, rhodiola, licorice, sarsaparilla, foti, guduchi, and olive leaf. I leave the herbs to infuse until my large brewing pot cools down completely.

After drinking the herbal brew, my husband and I have a breakfast smoothie with freshly made all organic almond milk, raw cacao, mesquite, lucuma, maca, vanilla, some coconut oil, banana, raw unpasteurized honey if needed, and Health Force Warrior Protein. This particular smoothie is very cacao rich and functions as the best breakfast option I have ever consumed to maintain my blood sugar until lunch. I also make a green smoothie that varies depending on what my husband and I feel like. Today we made one with all organic: blueberries (wild variety), wild purslane (large amount), large avocado, sunflower sprouts, and filtered spring water. This smoothie may be consumed before lunch, as a super healthy mineral rich snack.

For lunch and dinner we consume pre-soak and cooked grains as mentioned above blended with a variation of some steamed veggies (depending) with a large amount of mixed seasonal salad greens (mizuna, tatsoi, purslane, arugula, baby kale), fresh herbs (sage or basil), heirloom tomato’s, avocado, sprouts, etc. We consume varying omega 3 rich oils like chia, hemp, and flax seed oils. The most important aspect of this type of whole foods diet is that we are very flexible with what we eat, other than very little processed foods or gluten based foods.

I personally find a diet rich in raw foods much more energizing than a diet based on cooked food. My Ayurvedic practitioner recommended that I consume mostly cooked food, due to having a high Vata. However, after attempting to follow this dietary approach it never actually helped the underlying health issues that I was having. Once I took control of my own health and started to consume foods that gave me energy and allowed my body to detoxifying and balance, this brought my constitution back into full balance. In this case, I am not a staunch advocate of any rigid dietary paradigm, no matter how long it has been functioning historically.

I truly believe that the human body is bombarded by endless toxins, stress, and other unforeseen factors contributing to greater overall stress that most of the holistic systems that were formulated thousands of years ago did not take into consideration. Having said that, I still feel such systems are beneficial to understand the nature of one’s imbalance, yet there may need to be other factors taken into consideration for overall therapeutic treatment. Moreover, I strongly follow the theoretical premise of both seasonal eating and constitution when it comes to the choices made on a daily and seasonal basis. 

Copyright © All Rights Reserved 2013