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Dreams: A Royal Road to Knowing Thyself

 

The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind. -Sigmund Freud

We’ve all skidded by on our good looks and charm long enough. In this New Year, it’s time we use more of ourselves, not just to help ourselves and the world, but to know ourselves. That is, after all, why we're all here.

I contend that the subconscious mind is our most highly underutilized tool. We know our conscious mind all too well; it’s always chattering. The conscious mind is the analytical, logical, willful, judgmental, discerning part of ourselves. Necessary, but not who we are.

There is a “hidden” part, the subconscious mind, that holds deeper truths and vast untapped potential. And I don’t mean potential in acquiring things like in The Secret-type stuff. (Aren’t we beyond all that ego-driven “get, get, get” “me, me, me” mentally? That’s all just child’s play that keeps us stuck in the illusions of this world.) I mean, using this hidden part of ourselves that we know very little about to come to realize our true potential.

In short, the subconscious mind is the picture mind and feeling mind because it’s the storehouse of all of our memories—from this life, past-lives, even natal (womb memory)—and it’s the feeling mind because it is the seat of our emotions. It's also a wellspring of creativity, and a link to other states of consciousness and awareness. Through the subconscious we can even access the Divine, amongst other things.

If we use the perennial iceberg metaphor, the conscious mind is the small visible tip of the iceberg above the water's surface while the mass and strength and power and driving force of the iceberg floats below the water's surface. This is our subconscious. We can’t glimpse it with our conscious mind. We need a different type of vision.

Accessing this deeper part of ourselves requires going under the water’s surface. Two ways of diving into those bottomless waters and exploring the subconscious are hypnosis and dreaming. Both are natural states of mind that we experience within any given 24-hour period—one during the day, the other at night.

The hypnotic state is an altered state (as opposed to our usual conscious state) of awareness whereby we have bypassed the conscious mind. Watching television, daydreaming, driving on the freeway, being in the “zone” while playing a sport or painting or writing can put us into this state by collapsing, so to speak, the analytical mind, giving way to the subconscious. We’re no longer thinking critically, rather we are allowing, responding, receiving or creating from a stream of consciousness.

We also bypass the conscious mind through nighttime dreaming. Although both hypnosis and dreaming are natural states of mind that we don’t consciously conjure up, they can be honed and utilized as tools for self-realization, or to just help us find a misplaced sentimental necklace. The possibilities are endless.

Neither state needs to be taught, each needs to be cultivated. Today we will focus on accessing our subconscious through dreams. In a later post, we'll talk about doing it through self-hypnosis.

We all dream, we just don’t remember our dreams, at least not all the time. But that’s only because we don’t care to remember them. If we wanted to remember our dreams, we would. (On a side note, I have noticed in my practice that clients who smoke cigarettes or pot have a much more difficult time accessing their dreams.)

I encourage you to want to remember your dreams. Within your dreaming mind are messages, ideas, potentiality, dimensions of reality, creativity, connection with others, teachers, those that have lived before, time and space travel, your Higher Self, and the location of your lost necklace.

Don’t take my word for it, here is what

Seth

says about dreams:

When I speak of the dream world, I am not referring to some imaginary realm, but to the kind of world of ideas, of thoughts, of mental actions, out of which all form as you think it emerges. In actuality, this is an inner universe rather than an inner world. Your physical reality is but one materialization of that inner organization. All possible civilizations exist first in that realm of the inner mind.

And I like what

Edgar Cayce

says:

Man approaches the more intimate conditions of that field of the inner self when the conscious self is at rest in sleep or slumber, at which time more of the inner forces are taken into consideration and studied by the individual.... It is each individual's job...to understand his individual condition, his individual position in relation to others, his individual manifestation, through his individual receiving of messages from the higher forces themselves, thus, through dreams.

I have been studying and using my dream-state for years. For some reason, in the last couple of years, one thing that state has made me become psychically aware of is earthquakes. In May of 2008, I woke up and said, “There’s been an earthquake.” I turned on my computer and saw that 10,000 people had died in an earthquake in China while I slept. I said the same thing the morning of the Indonesian earthquake.

It might have to do with the fact that when I fall asleep at night I ask my consciousness to be of service to the world in any way it can to whomever needs me during my sleeping hours. Of course, this starts with the idea that 1. I am not my physical body and 2. that my mind is joined to the mind of every mind. In other words, there’s really only one of us here. My understanding of the nature of reality rests on these premises. My point being, we spend a third of our lives asleep, why not use it for healing ourselves and helping others?

I've also used the dream-state to communicate with people who can't communicate with me on the physical level, like deceased relatives, philosophers from times of antiquity, even a little boy I used to work with who had severe autism. He didn't speak, but in my dreams we conversed.

My friends, the resources are limitless.

Here are some of my tips to remembering your dreams.

Before falling asleep:

  1. Put a special notepad just for dreaming by your bed. Title it “Dream Journal.” And write the date. Start tomorrow. Jan. 1. 2010. Or if you’re serious, get a voice-activated tape recorder. They probably have an app for that. (No, I don’t know if they do or don’t.) But with voice activation you don’t have to fumble for a pen and paper or turn on the light. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written down a long, very important dream in the middle of the night only to wake up and find that I wrote over the same line twenty times. I thought I wrote a whole page of notes, but I scribbled one jumbled, illegible sentence.
  2. Tell yourself before falling asleep, “I want to remember my dreams and I will remember my dreams.” And feel that desire. It’s a desire to know yourself. We should all have a deep desire for that. In fact, that should be our deepest desire. Get in touch with it and say it with all the meaning you can muster.
  3. Then, if you have an issue that needs resolving, talk to your subconscious, “I ask my subconscious to help me resolve ________ through my dreams tonight.” Or “I ask my subconscious to help me know the right thing to do about _______ when I awaken.” Or "Give me the message in my dreams as to what is causing this illness, or how I can begin to heal it." Or something like that. You get the idea.

When you awaken:

Take a moment to check in with yourself. Be still and reflect on the issue that needed resolution. Notice what your instinct tells you to do to resolve it. Usually, it’s not what your conscious mind would say if you asked it after lunch. Upon awakening, your conscious mind isn’t quite back in full-

atencion!

-force; use that leftover dreamy link to your subconscious to know the right action.

Now write down what you remember from your dreams and analyze it. You don’t need a book. You are the best interpreter of your dreams. If you don’t remember anything write “nothing.” At least you’re putting energy in the direction of remembrance. Willingness is the key that opens the door to your subconscious.

If you just have a feeling, write that down. Start somewhere. Then ask yourself, “What is it about myself (or this problem) that makes me feel _______?” If you only remember a color, write it down. “Blue.” Then ask yourself, “How does blue make me feel?” “Calm” or “It reminds me of when I lived near the ocean.” Write it down.

If all you recall is a single symbol (symbolism, by the way, is the language of the unconscious.) write that down, “Tree.” What does a tree mean to you? List some descriptive words for a tree. How do trees make you feel? Do you have a favorite tree? What could a tree be a metaphor for in your life? Protection? Needing to be rooted? Nature?

Then title the dream, “Tree.” And turn the page for the next night’s dream.

Keep doing this and soon enough your sleepy subconscious will shake off the dust and get to work for you. It’s like a beautiful, luxurious car that’s been sitting in the garage for years while you’ve been trekking twenty miles in the snow every day to work because you forgot you had it. It may take a few tries to start the car, but once you do, it will open up a whole new, interesting and fun world.

Sometimes you won’t know the meaning of the dream until months or years later. You will be amazed to look back in your journal only to realize that a particular dream was actually a premonition, that the event unfolded exactly as you had dreamed it.

The subconscious is so much wiser than the conscious mind that the conscious mind doesn’t even know how much it doesn’t know. This year, seek to know what you didn't know you knew. "Know thyself," through dreaming.

Check out these books to learn more:

Edgar Cayce on Dreams

by Robert Waggoner

Interpretation of Dreams

by Sigmund Freud

12 Keys to Life

1. Do not be guided by fear.

There is nothing more detrimental than making decisions out of fear.

2. Seek not to be loved, but to be loving.

My clients are generally single men and women in their thirties and forties. And most of them are unhappy. The rest of my clients are in relationships, and guess what? They’re unhappy too. So who’s happy? Well, I know a few and their happiness has nothing to do with a partner or lack thereof. We have been programmed to believe that if we just find the right partner our problems will be solved. But I’m sorry to say it is an illusion. Sure, you can be fulfilled with a partner but you can also be fulfilled without one. What you seek is within. Everyday my prayer is the same, “Help me become more loving.” Let go of the need to be loved and seek instead to be loving. Only then will you find true fulfillment.

3. Pick a spiritual path.

And stick to it. All of our problems would disappear if we committed to daily spiritual practice. Truth is simple. You can read about this in an earlier post.

4. Read great writers and philosophers.

Studying people who are smarter than us is crucial because there is nothing more important than knowing we may not be right. Here are some books I like.

5. Listen to music.

Crank up one good song a day. Start with this video of Unity by Trevor Hall featuring Matisyahu

6. Clean yourself up

Release your past. Heal your addictions. Let go of debilitating emotions. And don't spend a ton of time and money trying to do it. Go through my $1.99 hypnosis MP3 downloads on a wide variety of topics and begin healing today! 

7. Surround yourself with people who can teach you.

This is easy and the pay-off is huge. Wise people push you. They hold you accountable. They don’t necessarily coddle you, they elevate you. There’s a reason a lot of enlightened people have gurus. Every smart person had a teacher.

8. Give away what you don't need.

Good feng shui and good karma. Your home, your closet, your office--it's all a  reflection of your mind.

9. Maintain integrity.

Your self-respect is all you’ve got. Treasure it.

10. Become vegan.

Becoming vegan is like volunteering. That's how I see it. There seems to be a sacrifice involved but it’s really a gift that comes back to you a hundred-fold. I have not experienced a single choice that has had such beautiful and far-reaching effects, not only in the world, the environment, and the animal kingdom, but in my own life and body as well. Start small. Educate yourself on what you're eating and where your "food" comes from. Check out Go Veg to get started.

11. Don't procrastinate.

The world awaits your gifts. We need your vision, your talent, your perspective, your ideas. I guarantee you, depression is inevitable if you don't apply yourself. Reread number 1.

12. Be of service.

Adopt a pet, or a child. Volunteer. In the least, smile and say hello to those you pass along your way. If there is no love or joy in your life it can only be because you are not giving love or joy.

All of these keys have one thing in common: they are challenging. In this world of complacency and complicity, we have gotten lazy. And it shows. I understand the pull towards indolence, I fight it on a daily basis, but it is a battle that must be fought. It is only through challenging ourselves that we heal, that the world become a better place, and that we achieve greater things. If not you, who? You are the who we are waiting for.


Yes, I Make My Dog a Stew

 
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.--Hippocrites (Greek, 460 BC.) Founder of medicine and considered the greatest physician of all time.

As I write this the crockpot stew I'm making for my dog Kansas, a five-year old Australian Shepherd/Lab/Golden Retriever mutt, is wafting through the house. Call me crazy. Call him spoiled. I call it good health.

Kansas has had hip dysplasia since he was a puppy. Vets have all said the same thing, "It's genetic. There's not much that can be done except hip replacement later down the road." Well, that answer was never good enough for me. I'm Scorpio Rising. We research. I embarked on my own investigation and came to the conclusion that canine hip dysplasia isn't genetic. It's nutritional. Mostly, a Vitamin C deficiency.

Vitamin C is necessary to build collagen, which holds bones in their joints. Hip dysplasia is more common in large breed dogs because their bones are growing bigger at faster rate, and without the proper vitamins and minerals their joints and tissues can't develop properly and do their job.

There is an interesting article by Sylvia Hammarstrom, a large dog breeder for fifty years, about this very subject here.

Partly to blame for hip dysplasia is commercialized dog food, not the poor dog's mom or dad. You see, canine hip dysplasia is relatively new. Before commercialized dog food, say fifty years ago, hip dysplasia was nonexistent. Back in the day, dogs ate scraps--fresh and nutritious foods. Today most canned and dry dog food is rubbish. We're asking dogs to survive on a diet of processed junk food. No wonder dogs have so many allergies and skin problems.

We wouldn't feed a child a can of processed food every day of his life or a scoopful of fortified cereal and expect him to be healthy. To me, it's simple physiology. Bones and tissues and blood and organs and nervous systems need vitamins and minerals that come from healthy foods--whether those bones are in a child, an adult, or a dog. A bone is a bone is a bone.

Have you ever read the label of some of those dogs foods? They say, "animal meat" or "animal byproduct" or "meat byproduct." Animal meat? Is the animal so abhorrent that they can't name it? Yes, it is. It can be ANY animal. A rat, a dog, a horse (commonly used), or roadkill. I once read about a woman who found a rabies tag in a can of dog food. True or false, I don't know. But I don't doubt it. I mean, think about what goes into a hotdog, and that's for human consumption.

Kansas went to a well-known holistic vet once and he said feed him people food. (Though I don't think he meant pizza, more like veggies, etc.) Interesting. Looking back, our family dog growing up, Sport, used to only eat table scraps. When we were done with breakfast or dinner we would put our plates on the floor and Sport cleaned them up. He lived a long healthy life, and I don't remember that we ever took him to the vet, not once.

One of my biggest regrets with my dog before Kansas, Mason, is that I forgot all this and fed him canned and dry food throughout his life. He developed numerous fatty tumors all over his body. I am sure it was due to his diet. And he died of kidney failure. Remember two years ago when there was that big pet food recall? The dogs who ate the contaminated food died of kidney failure. A life of processed food can't be easy on the kidneys.

Dogs are akin to wolves, being their domesticated subspecies. Wolves have balanced diets because they eat plants, fruit, grass, berries, and also birds, elk, fish, and all kinds of animals that are herbivores so they absorb what those animals have digested. And I'm pretty sure wolves don't have hip dysplasia.

All I know is that Kansas' hips are at least 50% better since I've been feeding him this stew. He's no longer scratching as much, his allergies have all but disappeared, he's spunkier, and he's walking better.

Here's my recipe. Although it's basically a hodgepodge of whatever I have on hand. Throw this all into a crockpot:

1 pound free range, organic turkey 

1-2 c. water (just enough to then be able to liquify it all in the end)

1 zucchini, sliced

1 yellow squash, sliced

1 yam or sweet potato or regular potato, sliced

1 tomato, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 c. green beans

1 c. peas

2 carrots, sliced

1/2 c. blueberries (optional, some dogs don't like it, too sweet)

sprinkle of flax seeds

Sometimes I toss in a 1/2 c. rice if his stool is loose, but you have to add a little more water. And you can also throw a raw egg on top, too. 

Also, this can be made vegan, which I do frequently. Kansas diet is 80% vegan (veggies, fruits, grains) and 20% meat (and that is only chicken or turkey). He does get some kibble, but usually it's vegan, and it's supplemental to his main meals. I give him high quality organic kibble only for the extra added vitamins and minerals he may need. 

Before including other veggies make sure to check their toxicity for dogs. I know there is some debate about broccoli, so I usually skip it. The ASPCA has a list of what not to feed your dog.

Cook on high for about 5 hours, or until everything is soft, then scoop it into a blender or food processor to puree. It usually lasts about a week in the refrigerator. I feed him 2 cups for breakfast and 2 cups for dinner (it's mostly veggies so there aren't many calories, you need to feed much more than usual!) or I'll throw it over a can of some outrageously expensive organic dog food. He always has kibble sitting out to munch on, too.

Speaking of which, I've had 3 dogs and none of them have had any "food issues" like stealing food, aggression over food or over eating, and I firmly believe that's because they always have a full bowl of kibble left out for them. They know there is an abundance of food, and therefore they never have to worry or wonder if another meal is coming. It has created, without a doubt, a calm, laid back attitude towards food. Your dog might overeat in the beginning, but once he/she realizes that there is always enough food, he/she will adjust to a balanced appetite. I find that dogs overeat because they do not feel there is enough food or they are missing nutrients from poor quality food or they're just plain hungry. 

Although cooking homemade dog food sounds indulgent it's just common sense. This stew is actually cheaper than buying high quality dog food. Plus, it has saved me a ton of money on vet bills. And it makes Kansas happy and healthier. Good enough for me.

(That's him above having just licked his plate.)

You can make this for cats as well, but don't add root veggies like yams and potatoes which are toxic to cats.

For more info visit:  Truth About Pet Food and click here.

The Quiet Mind

 

In quietness are all things answered, and is every problem quietly resolved. - A Course in Miracles

I have heard it said that prayer is asking for help and meditation is receiving the answer. If that’s the case, we are much better askers than listeners. Everybody has prayed, but few listen. That, however, is beginning to change. Meditation—the process of stilling the mind—has busted out of the closet it’s been hiding in for the last thirty years.

As far as I can tell, its rise in popularity is due to three things.

1. Information. Scientific studies “proving” the benefits of meditation with respect to our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing are making their way into mainstream media. Transcendental Meditation, for instance, is the most widely practiced and scientifically studied form of meditation with over 600 studies to date.

2. Desperation. I’ve always thought desperation was highly underrated. It has been a driving force for drastic change in my life on more than one occasion. When we’re desperate, we are willing to try just about anything to surmount our problems—whether it be stress, illness, or general life malaise.

3. Increased awareness. There is a rise in the collective unconscious moving toward all things spiritual. In other words, meditation is trendy. We can only hope it’s a trend that sticks. After all, it was in vogue in the 60’s and 70’s but definitely kooky through the 80’s and 90’s.

We see and hear about meditation everywhere now, not just in spiritual circles. Television commercials are even jumping on the bandwagon. I recently saw a commercial for yogurt that featured a woman sitting in the lotus position immersed in meditation. You mean if I spend money on eating dairy I’ll start meditating and become enlightened? Oh, don’t get me started….

Some medical doctors now prescribe meditation for their patients, and Fortune 500 companies offer meditation respite programs for their employees, even professional sports teams are participating in various techniques. These corporations and athletes may not be looking for peace as much as to cure ailments, produce happier employees, make larger profits or secure wins, but whatever the case, they have learned what the wisest among us have known for centuries—meditation makes us better.

When I was initiated into the Transcendental Meditation program, meditation was not commonplace. I learned the technique, but I wasn’t quite sure why I was doing it. I was only seven. I did know two things. 1. It somehow felt meaningful and 2. My family were the only meditators on the block—maybe even the whole city. Meditation embarrassed me. I told my friends it was just about “relaxing.”

Meditation is about relaxing, but it is much more than that. In quietness, we reconnect with our Source. Call that God, truth, love, universal consciousness, or your higher self--it doesn’t matter.

But in those moments something magical happens. We transform.

Quieting the mind redirects our worldly focus within. Through this process, we reach deep levels of heightened awareness. The attainment of this awareness is very important because it reminds us of what is true. Truth is not found in the world. Truth is within. The world gives us a false identity; we look within when we want to know what is real.

In those moments, we break free from the onerous chains of false ideas imposed upon us by ourselves, others, and society. The more we are reminded of that truth, the more freely we demonstrate it in the world. We become different; as a result, our life becomes different.

David Lynch is a good example. You know, the enigmatic filmmaker of Twin Peaks fame and movies like Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive. He’s different, for sure. And his creativity is beyond. Mr. Lynch has been practicing Transcendental Meditation for over thirty years. We get an insightful glimpse into his world through his short and immensely enjoyable book Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity.

As he says, meditation is the key to life, peace, and creativity.

I don’t believe we can achieve anything truly innovative, interesting, creative, lasting, worthwhile, or meaningful without first going within. In stillness, our mind expands. We tap in to a well of infinite possibilities, and we listen. Everything is realigned, giving us a proper perspective. When we come back to this world, we can’t help but make better choices because we are in our right mind. And by the way, meditation as I speak of it here is only one way to accomplish that.

Although we access what I like to think of as our natural state in meditation, it doesn’t come easily. First, you have to want it, and not many do. Second, you must place the quest for truth above all else, and only a few are willing. Third, it takes practice, which nobody has time for.

Stilling your mind feels counter-intuitive. We are taught to go out and make it happen. Take the bull by its horns. Be the fastest, the quickest. Get up and get going. The world doesn’t teach us to stop and meditate. This world is a world of ego, and the ego’s edict is Seek and do not find. It’s the opposite of truth’s motto: Go within and find.

If you are looking to quiet your mind, here are a few tips I've learned over the years. By the way, these tips are based on a mantra (word) style meditation, which I find to be the easiest.

  • Pick a time when you will not be disturbed and turn off the phone.
  • Find a comfortable place to sit. Always sit up. Otherwise, you will fall asleep.
  • Take a few deep breaths and with each exhale sink deeper down into relaxation.
  • After a minute or so, introduce a mantra or word such as “peace” “love” or the universal mantra“om.” (“Amen” is actually a mantra as well.)
  • Repeat the mantra in a friendly, relaxed way. Other thoughts will interfere, that’s fine. That's just what your ego and your conscious mind does. Don’t fight them, don’t favor them, don’t try to ignore them, don’t hope they go away, don’t get frustrated, don’t judge yourself, be with the thought, and then when you're ready, gently bring your mind back to repeating your chosen mantra-word.
  • When you get antsy and want to open your eyes, hang on and meditate for another minute or two. I find that’s when I go the deepest.
  • When you’re ready to stop, gently bring yourself back into the room.

Your smallest attempts will change you. Every effort is meaningful. Try at first to meditate for just five minutes a day. A Course in Miracles tells us that five minutes of a stilled mind will save you thousands of years. Begin there. Then extend that practice to as much as twenty minutes.

I think it’s better to be consistent for a shorter amount of time—five minutes every day—rather than longer durations less frequently, like twenty minutes twice a week.

And then forget about it until the next meditation. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder, along with Guru Dev, of Transcendental Meditation, says meditating is like taking a bath. When you take a shower in the morning you don’t keep thinking about the shower throughout the day. You have done it, you’re clean, now you are free to move forward and focus on other things.

Stilling your mind can be frustrating at first. The ego will constantly interfere, proclaiming your efforts a waste of time. The ego thrives on chaos because it disappears in peace. Meditation means death to the ego. And the ego will do anything to stay alive. When you make any attempt to loosen its stranglehold, it will offer all kinds of distractions. Taking out the trash becomes all-important. Do not be discouraged. Starting anything new is difficult at first. Quieting the mind is no different. It’s like building a muscle that has atrophied.

With time, you will see and feel the results. With consistency, meditation moves from being a chore to a gift you give yourself.

The problem is not one of concentration; it is the belief that no one, including yourself is worth consistent effort.
--A Course in Miracles.

Gandhi's Greatest Regret? Milk.

My copy of Gandhi's autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth arrived a few weeks ago and Holy Cow! I have a newfound appreciation for Mahatma. I knew he was a vegetarian (oh, and that in his spare time he liberated India from British rule and single-handedly established the civil disobedience movement) but I had no idea he was the central figure in pioneering the animal rights crusade in India.

Do you know what this spiritual and political leader writes as the greatest "tragedy of my life"?

That he ever drank milk.

You see, Gandhi had made a lifelong vow never to drink a cow's milk due to "the torture to which cows were subjected by their keepers." He gave it up after vacationing at vegetarian Leo Tolstoy's home in which a discussion ensued about the harmful effect of drinking cow's milk.

From then on Gandhi eschewed animal products and considered nuts and fruit the optimal diet. He attributed this dietary choice to his very healthy and fit life. However, in 1914 he contracted a serious illness that dropped him near death's door. The attending physicians told Gandhi he would die if he didn't follow their strict order and drink a glass of cow's milk, which was a popular treatment back then. Gandhi compromised and drank goat's milk.

Gandhi's wife, Kasturba, had made a similar vow. As did their sons. She and Gandhi proclaimed they would rather die than drink cow's milk. And they meant it. Total radical nonconformists.

I haven't had a glass of milk since my mom had to pour it for me, but I was surprised at Gandhi's staunch stance on cow's milk when facing death. Then, there wasn't much information. You'd have thought he would've listened to the doctor. Then again, there wasn't dairy industry propaganda hypnotizing the masses into thinking it's healthy either. Today it's super easy to abstain from milk with all the more nourishing substitutes.

Gandhi knew the truth. The whole "milk does a body good" thing is a lie. It's a marketing ploy. It's their dirty secret. They don't care about our bodies. I always feel sorry for those celebrities with the idiotic milk mustaches who are oblivious to what they're promoting. (Oops, I'm veering into previously blogged territory.....)

Unlike Gandhi's day, we now know milk does a body no good. Well, we know if we research the people who are researching it. Milk is being targeted for all kinds of ailments, certain types of diabetes and cancer, even mental illness.

I've always had really strong fingernails that grow too fast. I guess they're noticeable because people have commented on them over the years. I tell them it's because I don't drink milk. I heard early on that drinking milk causes calcium loss.

Humans are not meant to digest cow's milk. It's too hard on our system and forces the human body to produce a gastric acid to break down the milk. The body then steals calcium from our bones to neutralize the acidic environment left behind.

Studies are revealing that--are you ready?--consuming milk causes osteoporosis! Countries where people have very little dairy intake rarely see cases of osteoporosis. We're not often told that green, leafy vegetables and nuts and seeds are high in calcium. The most calcium rich food? Dried herbs!

Also, milk (unless organic, and even organic isn't immune to its problems) is laden with antibiotics and growth hormones, which researchers link to the cause of young girls developing more quickly and getting their periods, thus pregnant, at an earlier age.

There's a really interesting study on the effects of the Americanization of the Japanese diet. (By Kagawa, published in Preventative Medicine, 1978.) Before 1946, Japanese did not consume milk. After that, milk and dairy became staple foods.

In 1950 the average person in Japan ate 5.5 pounds of milk and dairy products. The average girl was 4'6" tall and weighed 71 pounds. She began menstruation at 15.2 years old.

In 1975 the average Japanese consumed 117.4 pounds of milk and dairy products. The average girl had grown 4 1/2 inches and gained 19 pounds! And she started menstruating at 12.2 years old! Keep in mind, this is not due to calcium but growth hormones.

This study was done 34 years ago. Frightening to think what these numbers are now.

Some researchers are linking the rise in breast cancer to the copious amount of dairy products we now consume. It's a fascinating topic. And serious.

You know something's wrong with this milk picture when the Director of the Department of Pediatrics at John Hopkins University School of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief at the John Hopkins Children's Center, Frank Oski, MD, writes a book and calls it Don't Drink Your Milk.

I didn't make the choice to not drink milk for health reasons. Though that would definitely be a factor if I were making the decision today. And I didn't give up milk because of the industry's calamitous impact on the environment, which would absolutely convince me today.

I don't drink milk because it's meant to fatten up calves, not me. (We are the only species to drink another species milk.) I don't drink milk because I find the idea disturbingly repugnant and, did you know, it's full of white cow pus. Uh-huh. No one says that in their ads.

Mostly, I don't drink milk, like Gandhi, because of the cruelty dairy cows are subjected to--constantly being impregnated to produce milk, having their babies immediately torn from them, chained to a cage day in and day out, never seeing the light of day or breathing fresh air, hooked up to a milk machine that painfully tears their udders.

The way I see it, what isn't good for an animal isn't good for me. It's going to have an effect. Somehow, someway. Lovelessness is going to show up, asking us to pay up. It always does.

To learn more: NOT MILK

Here's a list of my favorite dairy replacement foods.


The Really Inconvenient Truth

 

I glanced at the latest cover of Vogue with Cameron Diaz and next to her name was the headline “Queen of Green.” Here’s what I don’t get: How can a woman who goes on national talk shows telling us plebeians how to change our light bulbs to be more “green” not understand that by consuming meat (she is quoted as saying she “loves” hamburgers, and they are her “weakness”) she is contributing to the single greatest cause of environmental destruction on the planet? Meat production—the number one industrial polluter. I mean, how can I, a nobody, know that information and a woman who teams up with Al Gore for environmental initiatives not know it? Clearly she’s done her homework, right? How does she feel leaving a carbon footprint the size of Big Foot each time she walks out of a burger joint?

Forgive me Cameron Diaz, I am just trying to make sense of this. I’m sure you are a lovely well-meaning person, and maybe you’re just feeling your way through becoming more conscious in the public eye. That can’t be easy. Perhaps you really don’t understand the extent to which you hinder the progress of your own environmental efforts each time you declare your love for hamburgers in the press to all those devoted fans following in your ecological footsteps. You’re not the only one.

Jennifer Aniston wants us to take five-minute showers; yet as a meat eater does she not know that one hamburger requires the water equivalent of 40 showers? She is adding to not only the biggest waste of water on earth by consuming meat, but she's also contributing to the greatest source of water pollution! Sheryl Crow asks us to use one square of toilet paper per bathroom visit; yet she dines on beef—talk about a waste of natural resources. Julia Roberts is also “Green,” apparently she drives a bio-diesel car; yet I turn on the television and see her grilling hamburgers with George Clooney. And I ask myself, “Do they just not know?” Is that possible?

And Al Gore! C’mon. Seriously? The King of Green gave us The Inconvenient Truth, a documentary about a planet on the verge of self-destructing from global warming; yet as a carnivore, he partakes in the very act that creates more greenhouse gases than all transportation. I couldn’t bear to see his movie. (And I still haven't.) I was certain there wouldn’t be a whisper of whistle-blowing on meat production as the PRIMARY cause of global warming due to de-forestation, gas emissions, land degradation and air and water pollution. What the heck, man?

How could this inclusive documentary be so shortsighted? He needs to make another one and get it right this time and call it

The Really Inconvenient Truth: What I Didn’t Want to Tell You Because I Would Have to Fundamentally Change and I Would Have an Up in Arms Meat Industry Breathing Down My Neck.

I can’t imagine it’s because these people are not educated in their cause of choice. So what is it? Is it a fear that no one will see their movies if they really speak the truth? I get that. I’m pretty sure at least one of my three blog readers won’t be back. Or is it because it’s just a little too inconvenient for them to relinquish their hot dogs?

“To consider yourself an environmentalist and still eat meat is like saying you're a philanthropist who doesn't give to charity.” Howard Lyman, former fourth-generation Montana cattle rancher and now vegan activist.

It isn’t an easy choice to give up meat. We’ve been hard-wired to believe we need it. And we’ve been duped by a meat industry heavily invested in programming us to remain under its spell. It’s easy to recycle water bottles and forgo plastic bags. No one really needs plastic bags. That isn’t that inconvenient.

This isn’t about expecting everyone to be a vegan. (Though it would be nice!) My friends will vouch for my mum acceptance of their carnivorous ways. But if you are speaking from a celebrity platform of knowledge meant to enlighten us ignorant masses, then we expect you to know what you’re talking about. We can handle the truth. What we (and the environment and animals) don’t need are half-truths and easy truths. Sure, driving eco-friendly cars and recycling are helpful, but they side step the hard choice. The far-reaching decision that challenges our lives from a very deep soul residing place and asks us to think way outside ourselves and reconsider how we live on this planet.

When we do make that decision what we find is that the once derived "pleasure" of eating a hamburger dismally pales in comparison to the fulfillment of knowing we are making the single greatest impact a human being can have on the healing of the environment.

Not every celebrity activist can be Thom Yorke. I’m coming to accept that. That’s my lesson. But I believe in time, they’ll all catch up to him.

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” Albert Einstein

A few facts worth chewing on:

  1. 500,000 animals are slaughtered in the United States every HOUR for meat
  2. 100 acres of land produce enough beef for only 20 people, whereas those same 100 acres can produce enough wheat to feed 200 people.
  3. 440 million tons of grain are fed to cattle each year, while 500 million people starve to death in poor countries.
  4. One child dies of malnutrition every 2.3 seconds. If Americans reduced their meat consumption by 10%, one hundred million people could be fed using that freed up land.
  5. Half of the world’s rainforests have been razed for cattle grazing for beef. Most of these rainforests are in poor countries, and the meat is exported to wealthy countries like the United States. Half of Central America’s rainforests have been deforested to provide the U.S. with meat.
  6. 90% of the plant and animal species on earth live in the tropics, some of which have yet to be identified. Every day more of these species are brought to extinction as a result of Americans eating meat.
  7. High levels of pesticides, tranquilizers and antibiotics commonly used in livestock enter your bloodstream when you consume meat. Of all the antibiotics used in the U.S., 55% are given to livestock.
  8. It takes 14 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat but it takes 2,500 gallons to produce ONE pound of beef. If taxpayers did not subsidize these water costs, beef would cost $35.00 a pound.
  9. 85% of the four million acres of topsoil lost each year is due to raising livestock. In order to make up for this loss, we destroy forests. Since 1967, the rate of deforestation in the United States has been one acre every five seconds. For each acre cleared in urbanization, seven are cleared for grazing or growing livestock feed.
  10. Each time you replace a meat meal with a vegetarian one, you save at least 2.5 pounds of greenhouse gases.
  11. Reducing meat consumption by 20% (1 1/2 days per week) is the equivalent of switching to a hybrid car.
  • I gathered and saved these facts through various sources over two years ago. I tried to locate the proper sources but haven't had much luck. Some of the information came from the following website.

To learn more: CHOOSE VEG

This article was reposted at two very cool green websites: THE GREEN DOVE and Australian site PSYCHED IN STILETTOS. Thanks, ladies!


Widening the Circle

A girlfriend of mine pleasantly surprised me with an unexpected visit last week. She was on her way to Mexico for a conference and during a layover found out it had been cancelled due to swine flu. She rerouted her trip to the next warmest place, LA. She’s a psychologist, considers herself a hardcore scientist with “complete faith in mainstream science. If it hasn’t been proven, it isn’t true.” Need I mention she’s also an atheist? I’m none of those things. I enjoy an easy-to-digest book on quantum physics as much as the next layman, but I’m as skeptical of science as she is of spirituality. And I believe in a power greater than myself—a source of love. I call that God.

Nevertheless, my gorgeous friend and I do share plenty of common ground. For one, we’ve both been vegetarians for twenty years. She told me that one day she knew in her twelve year-old little heart it wasn’t right to eat animals and stopped. We also share a yen for hot weather, sunshine and swimming pools, so we hopped in the car and headed to Palm Springs. As the warm desert air breezed through the open windows and Kansas panted in the back seat, we got on the topic of spirituality, namely how “unspiritual” she is. I told her it didn’t matter whether she was spiritual or not. It only mattered if she felt something was missing.

She confided that one of her favorite childhood past times was trying to communicate with animals—squirrels, cats, dogs, and birds—but they never communicated back. I suggested that she can never really know they weren’t communicating. We laughed at the idea that perhaps it was the animals that told her not to eat them. I said, “To me, the definition of spirituality is really simple. It’s oneness.” She thought about it and replied, “That’s an interesting way of defining it.” I said, “And you exemplify that. I think you’re much more “spiritual” than you think.” She said, “Well, I do view the world as one interconnected organism.” Spoken like a true scientist.

Truth is true. As I understand it, all minds are joined. As she sees it, the world is an interconnected organism. The only thing true is that we are one. Nowhere does my energy end and yours begins. Einstein said separation is an “optical delusion of consciousness.” Well, here, I’ll just find his whole quote.

"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "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 to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."

Everything is moving towards oneness though it may not always appear that way. This is true in our own lives as well as in the collective consciousness. There could be no Obama without Bush. Oneness doesn’t require that we perceive it in order for it to be true. As Einstein said, it’s very difficult to be aware of it. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t happening or that it’s a free pass to sit around. On the contrary, we all have a unique and active role in the unfolding of that creation. Each of us has a special part to play in the “task” of healing. In fact that’s kind of what I was trying to say in the previous post.

My friend arrived at the understanding of connectedness through science. I came to it through more spiritual means of study. Someone else may learn it through worldly travel and another through volunteer work. Or golf. It doesn’t matter. We will all end up in the same place. My friend and I were brought together by the swine flu, and even that—swine flu—can be a means for shaking the sleep of separation from our eyes. Anything can be used to help us understand our oneness if we choose to see it that way.

We must change our worldview, as Einstein said, not only for the healing of the world but also for our “inner security.” The cruelty inflicted on a pig in a cage kills us as well. The child neglected by his or her parents and let down by a broken foster care system hurts us too. The question then isn’t how you reach that conclusion. The more important question is how you begin to experience everyone and everything as yourself. For quantum physics attests they are literally a part of you, only your “optical delusion” blocks that awareness. The answer lies in widening your circle of compassion. Within that is the liberation we all seek and the knowingness that there really is only one of us here.