Monthly Archives: October 2007

Chi and the Art of Smiling

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My acupuncturist is a really smart guy. He knows that wellness is more than just physical, and he always takes a few minutes during each session to assess my emotional state and how it may be affecting my body.

For example, today I told him that I had to deal with several annoying people this week and that I felt my energy sapped because of it. He validated my feelings by explaining that negative energy from others often does disrupt one’s own “Chi”, or vital energy.

In my own profound wisdom, I smugly stated the obvious: “I guess I’ll have to change my attitude towards those people since I sure can’t change their behavior.”

He laughed and then simply said, “Smile.”

“Excuse me?”

“The next time someone causes you stress, smile at them. Good energy changes negative energy. After a while, they will stop doing those things that annoy you.”

Pretty trite and simplistic I thought, and if he really knew me then he’d know that teaching me the art of smiling at irritating and obnoxious people is like teaching a squirrel how to drive a semi-truck. It’s going to take a very long time and a lot of people are going to get run over in the process.

However, I’m open-minded and agreed to give it a shot.

In the meantime, while I’m learning how to “smile”, I’m getting a t-shirt that reads: Don’t mess with my chi……

Image: “Qi Mandala”, 2006

Text: Lori G. (c) 2007

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A Taste of Pure Heaven

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I bought a tomato this evening at my local farmers’ market– a Japanese momotaro, deep red and as sweet as candy. I sliced it up, sprinkled it with a bit of salt and had it with my supper. It was like a taste of pure heaven.

As I might have mentioned in past posts, I’ve had a change in lifestyle in the last few months and I am, little by little, changing the way I eat. Before my shift in eating habits, I would visit the local farmers’ markets on occasion, usually to enjoy the outdoor entertainment and exotic prepared foods that are also featured at these markets. I rarely did my food shopping there; afterall, produce was much cheaper at my local supermarket. Futhermore, the notions of sustainability and eating local foods never crossed my mind.

This recently changed when I picked up a copy of the Whole Life Times, a local magazine about “green” and conscious living. In the September edition, I found an interview of Alice Waters, a chef and restauranteur who is credited with bringing about the “local eating” revolution in this area. In the article, she mentions her newest book, The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution. I acquired a copy of the book and spent a glorious weekend salivating over her minimalist, but oh-so-satisfying recipes. Her recipes emphasize eating locally-grown, organic foods and methods of slow cooking.

It was at that moment the light went on, and I signed on to this thoroughly sensible approach to food. Last Saturday, I did most of my food shopping at the farmers’ market. I even brought canvas bags so I wouldn’t look too much like a “localvore” newbie toting around plastic ones!

Yes, I spent a little more on the green onions and bundles of fresh rosemary and parsley. Yes, the squash and pears were not perfectly uniform in shape and size like the ones in the supermarket.

But I’m taking a wabi-sabi approach to my food: a little imperfection is not a bad thing. And by preparing my own meals for a whole week from these foods instead of grabbing something from the local “gag-in-a-bag” fast food place several times during the week makes up for the extra expense.

This revolution in eating has propelled me to do a little more research. There are more reasons than just my good health for eating locally and simply. I discovered a whole list of reasons: Ten Reasons to Eat Local Food. Take a look at this site and you’ll see what I mean.

In the meantime, pass me the tomatoes and a shaker of salt.

Text and Image: Lori G.(c) 2007

The Spirit of a Place

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Los Angeles artist, J. Michael Walker, has spent the last several years of his life researching the names of the 103 L.A. streets named after saints. From his research he has made a collection of ink and seriograph images along with poetry depicting the saints in unique and contemporary contexts. The culmination of this project will be an exhibition at the Autry Museum early next year and the publication of a book entitled All the Saints of the City of the Angels: Seeking the Soul of L.A. on Its Streets.

What I find intriguing about this project is the artist’s attempt to find the spiritual essence of a place, or, rather, to find his spiritual essence within a place. Perhaps this search is one in the same.

Whatever direction the search, I think it is critical that we, in order to be fully human and whole, need to find that place of “sacredness” where we can encounter and experience the realm of the spirit. This special place can be a physical locale, an established place such as a temple, church or sacred grove, or a mundane place that we have made “holy” for ourselves—a park bench where we rest and feed the birds or a cozy chair in front of a fireplace.

How do you find this place? May I suggest taking a few moments to consider a few questions. Ask youself:

What would my sacred space be like? Is it a real place? If so, where? Is it an imaginary place? Pretend you are describing this imaginary place to someone. Does the space ever change? If so how? What or who populates the space? What can I bring to this space to make it special? What do I take away from it?

Once you have established your space—either a physical place where you can visit or an imaginary one that you visit in your mind’s eye, make it your practice to get to that place as often as you can.

Wherever you go, find yourself there.

Blessings.

——————–

Some sources for inspiring you in your search for a sacred space:

The All the Saints of the City of the Angeles Project

Sacred Cartography (at the Soul Food Café)

Sacred Sites: Places of Peace and Power

Lori G. © 2007

The images above were taken by me at the San Fernando Mission, established in 1797. The mission resides on a street named after this saint.

 

Getting Back on Track

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As I said in the previous post, my parsley bit the dust, literally. I was about to chuck the whole experiment, but then I realized that even though this situation has thrown my apartment garden experiment off track, I need to go to the garden store, get more seedlings and try it again.

It may seem very obvious where I’m going with this: you get side-tracked, you get back on track and get moving again. The last couple of weeks I’ve been pre-occupied with some personal situations that have gotten me off track in terms of some personal goals I have set for myself.

I am not going to let such annoyances disrupt my physical and emotional well-being, my creative endeavors, or my social outreaches.

How does this work out in a practical way? This morning I have already created some art, redesigned a blog, and am writing this post. Later today, I’m going to outline some writing pieces and prepare for a meeting with some friends regarding a volunteer project in which I am involved.

I’m going to get out there and get my hands dirty.

Lori G. (c) 2007

Toxicity

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My parsley died. I sort of expected it. It was hard to get it to germinate. I tried watering, then not watering, wondering what conditions I needed to foster to get it right. While considering this situation, I realized that it might not be anything wrong that I’ve done; rather, it might be a certain level of toxicity in the soil. Nothing can survive within a toxic environment. Always looking for some lessons from my gardening experience, I spent a number of days considering how to parlay this experience into a practical application.

I began to examine the toxic elements in my life. Not surprisingly, I zeroed in on my relationships. I realized that I have allowed some of them to become toxic-perhaps it’s not the people who have become toxic, rather the toxicity is in the circumstances that I have allowed to fester around the relationships.

Now I really don’t want to end any of my relationships, so I wrote a letter, not inteded to be sent, to help me purge some of these toxic feelings. This is a classic technique for handling negative situations. Originally, I had the letter here on this post but after a few days, I decided to take it down. It has served it’s purpose and I really don’t want to risk anyone of the recipients actually reading it.

My thanks to those of you who read it and commented.

Seasons of Time: A Reflection

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The metaphor of gardening has often been used to describe the spiritual experience of women. Unlike a masculine model of spirituality, where the experience is often a linear journey striving to pierce levels of spiritual attainment and moving towards an ultimate end, women’s spiritual experience is often described as circular and organic. The female experience of the spiritual life is a garden, growing, flourishing, bearing fruit, dying back and needing to be planted again and again.

I remember so many times beating myself up for not achieving self-imposed benchmarks of my personal growth. I should have been more joyful, more generous, more compassionate, less irritable, less selfish, less anxious, et cetera, et cetera. That’s the linear approach. That’s the journey model.

Using the gardening model, now I see spiritual experience in seasons of time where there is growth, followed by barrenness. I till my spiritual garden, water it, weed it. It bears fruit. Often the cold winds of life sweep through and I dry up. But I don’t worry about it. Spring always comes.

And the fruit will be as sweet and full of juice as ever.

Text and image: Lori G. © 2007