Wednesday, March 28, 2012

There's Always Time If You Make Time For... Patience

My phone sucks. It keeps giving me error messages and I keep having to unplug it. My BBM doesn't work and the screen freezes randomly. It is extremely annoying and its difficult because my phone is my main source of communication with my family and friends. It has done this before and its been hard to get through the day (yes, I'll admit it!).
But, I am learning to be patient. Its proved to be very difficult, even over something as seemingly trivial  There are ways around it - Facebook, for example. At the time, you're so overcome by being annoyed and frustrated at your inanimate object that you don't think of alternate options - and when I say "you", I mean "me"... well, all of us.
What worked for me today (after I threw it against the wall and probably made it worse) was taking a deep breath, and letting that breath carry my frustration, annoyance, rage and negativity out of my body. It was actually fairly liberating!
Afterwards, I was able to think of alternatives when my head was clear and my emotions were rid of.
Slowly, but surely, I will learn patience. Patience with myself, with others, with my animals, and especially with my inanimate objects!
Slowly... but surely.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Daily Dose Of... Buddha

"The Dharma is the best teacher," he said, "even if I were to live for eons I'd still have to leave you because every meeting implies a departure, one day."
The Buddha died the way he lived, as a spirtual teacher, amazing compared to none other. Legend says that his final nirvana (death/ extinction) was on a night in May with a full moon, just as his birth and his enlightenment.
His life was, in itself, a teaching. We all have the capacity to live a life full of balance, joy, harmony, love, clarity, energy, tranquility and excellence if we embrace and become it.
We can all be Buddhas.


Today's The Day For... Forgiveness

My grandmother and I have never really been close; there's been conversations that we've had in which nasty words were exchanged and there were a couple of years that we didn't speak to each other.
The other day, my 12:30pm class was cancelled, and I did what I once thought was unthinkable- I called my grandmother.
I ended up going over there for lunch and tea and we actually... talked. Not about what had happened between us before, but about life and whats been going on with us recently - I actually had a very good time.
I had a good talk with my good friend, Stacey - a Reiki master and RMT- about everything and she had a really cool insight: she told me that this month it seems to be a "healing of the heart" month and that hearts are starting to heal from old wounds. I really took that to well, heart, and I guess I finally buried the hatchet with my grandmother. It feels good to have that weight lifted.
Forgiveness is something we can all attain- not easily, but is worth it.
 Once we open up to forgiveness, we can open up to ourselves and our inner truths!

There's Always Time If You Make Time For... Saving The World

A few nights ago, I was overcome with emotion (no, there was not a sloth near) and I thought long and hard about what I was doing with my life. I had one of those "If an asteroid hits the Earth tomorrow, would I be able to be a fulfilled dead person?" - yes, it was my actual inner monologe - stop judging!
However, I realized that everything is step- by - step, so, on my personal mission to save the world, I have decided to apply to become a Big Sister! In 2009, I did a practicum with Mount Royal at a local elementary school and a couple of the kids there were Littles and I got really attached to them. So, why I am applying now? I feel like now I've learned so much, now I'm ready to be a mentor and to teach somebody something good, something that will change their life for the better. Start small, right?
I'll keep updating on how it goes! I'm very, very excited to be given the chance to be a mentor and to make a difference in a young person's life!

This is me and my gorgeous niece Madeline; she is one young person I know I make a difference to, and that is pretty damn wonderful! I love you, Moo!

My Daily Dose of... Dharma

"Don't do as I say, be as I am." - The Buddha

Dharma, in Sanskrit, has many meanings (depending on context); "teachings", "system", "path","reality", "truth", "calling", etc. For many Buddhists, it refers to the path to the truth - the Buddha's teachings showing us the way - and in relation to everything as it is in life.

We all know this story (or a variation of it) : A woman is given away to a man as an arranged marriage and is expected to produce a male heir. When she finally gave birth, her baby son died. She'd heard of a miracle worker who could stare death in the face and death would back down. She clutched her dead son in her arms and ran to the miracle worker and begged him to bring her son back. The miracle worker smiled compassionately and said, "Before I do anything, go to the nearby village and bring me a handful of mustard seed. But, please, make sure the seed comes only from a home where death is unknown." The woman immediately ran to the village, clutching her dead child and asked for mustard seed. However, when she revelaed the miracle worker's stipulation, each home she visited had a story about a loved one's death. Suddenly, the woman got it.
This is largely attributed to Buddhist folklore; the woman's name as Kisa Gotami and the miracle worker as, of course, The Buddha.
The Buddha, as the miracle worker, hadn't told her to learn to forget the tragedy of her son's death and be happy; he showed her a way to look deeper into her grief and to see something larger than her own loss.
With wisdom and compassion, The Buddha realized suffering's origin and its end. Doing so, he also realized that others can achieve enlightenment.
We can all achieve enlightenment through the teachings of the Dharma, personal growth and commitment to The Eightfold Path.

There's Always Time If You Make Time For ... Tolerance

These days everyone's stressed and high strung; its getting harder and harder for people to stop "sweating the small stuff" and stressing out even more over the tiny things (there are starving children all over the world, after all). No one is immune to this; I am slowly, but surely, learning not to take things so personally, to let things go and to be tolerant. There is a zen proverb that basically tells you to take a feeling (good or bad) and feel it to the max and then... just let it go.
This takes practice.
In terms of tolerance, if you're having a problem with another person, just remember to place yourself in the other person's shoes; keep calm and think things through - this person probably did not think things through in the first place, and it might be an underlying issue within themselves. There are many possibilities, but the hardest thing to do is to not take it personally. Remember, no one is a mind reader, so make sure that you let them know why you're upset; sometimes this helps in that when you hear yourself talk it out and explain why you're upset, you realize how silly your reasoning for being upset is/was. I have done this several times, especially with Thomas. I've been so upset over something and when I tell him, I end up apologizing for being upset over nothing or, I realize that I sometimes do the exact same thing to him that made me mad in the first place. I think everyone hates a hypocrit, but its ironic because we all are hypocrits at one point or the other. Just remember that you are human, but so is the other person and that if you keep level headed and calm, you can work it out so that you both walk away with the fight resolved and lesson learned.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

- The Dalai Lama

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What We Can Learn From... Mass Effect

I don't know if anybody else has ever sat, watched and become pseudo-obsessed with a video game, but that's what's happened to me! But, saying this, I was the girl who fell in love with Dirk Pitt from Clive Cussler's books, so we'll blame it on my crazy imagination!
Regardless, I have become obsessed with the game, though I can't play the actual Xbox game, I've been looking up scenes on youtube and its been like my past love affair with bologna - I'll eventually overdose on it.
However, one thing I think I've pulled from Mass Effect is the rag-tag gang of aliens helping Shepard come together to fight one enemy threatening all organic (and inorganic) life in the galaxy. They've all been through the shitter and back, and yet they're sacrificing themselves for one cause... I wonder if that will ever happen? Its just interesting to think about what else could be out there; could there be other humanoid alien species out there? Could we ever travel into space, into new planets. But, most importantly, is there a Garrus out there?
I <3 turians!

Anywho, I'm gonna end my geek-out fest right away here. I'm in class and should probably be paying attention.... not blogging about my love affair for geeky things.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Homemade French Onion Soup: A Success Story

So, I did it! I made a great tasting French Onion Soup at home!
Thomas said he would give it a 9, and I would probably give it about an 8; too much brandy! Next time I'll ease up on that. I made it in our slow cooker, which was definitely a good choice, but it did take quite awhile. I'll probably just tweak the recipe next time and make it on the stove and carmelize the onions.
Here's the recipe; enjoy! (Remember what I said about the brandy)

3 tbsp Becel Vegan margarine
2 tsp olive oil

2 large sweet, white onions
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp gluten-free all purpose flour (I like Bob's Red-Mill)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (or, if you can find it, sherry vinegar)
2 tbsp brandy
1/2 cup dry white wine (or use a Guewertzraminer - tastes just as good!)
4 cups beef broth (or vegetable broth)
1 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp ground rosemary
salt and pepper
Daiya Mozzarella-style cheese
Daiya Cheddar-style cheese
Gluten free bread or gluten-free baguette-style bread

1. Put the margarine and olive oil in the ceramic cooking pot and heat on high for about 15 minutes until melted.
2. Add the onions to the pot and stir to coat in the melted margarine and oil. Cover with the lid. Cook like this for 2 hours, stir after 1 hour.
3. Add the sugar and flour, cook for 2.5 hours. Stir after each half hour. Add the vinegar, brandy and wine. Stir in the beef broth and season with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Cook for another 2 hours.
4. After 2 hours is up, you're ready to serve! After placing soup in the bowl, add bread and cheese; we cooked the bowl in the oven for a further 10 minutes to melt the cheese.

Delicious! Here's a not-so awesome picture of the end result:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

There's Always Time If You Make Time For... Meditation

Meditation. The word itself can be scary, intimidating, overwhelming, and some people just don't believe in it altogether.

That is absolutely okay. You must do what works for you; how can you succeed in something that you don't believe in?

Many people think that meditation is only for people with Buddhist or Hindu beliefs; they believe that meditation is better left to people following mainly Eastern world religions. This is not true. Meditation, though it is a fundamental part of yoga and many Eastern world religions, is just as beneficial for living within a Western world religion.

Meditation is focussed on breathing, relaxation and balance, but it is not limited to just that. Some people use it to even contact dead loved ones, some use it as a rejuvenating ritual, but many use it to relax and find inner peace.

Guided meditation can be a great start for beginners, just be cautious about what you will be guided in to. Make sure that you have established a strong belief in yourself, a religious deity, or (in some cases) a spirit guide that can protect you, especially if you plan on opening yourself up during your meditative trances.

I have read books upon books on different forms of meditation, but my favourite form of meditating is sitting in lotus pose, burning a cinnamon or cassia-scented candle, listening to my "meditation music" (Tom calls the songs Buddhist Lullabies) and focussing on my breathing. I use this time to visualize goals, achieve balance and become one within myself - it is a bit difficult to explain. However, meditation has become a pivotal experience for me and has really shaped the person that I am becoming... which feels insanely amazing.

My tip for beginner meditators:

Visualize a white light around you: this can be provided be your deity of choice, your profound sense and confidence in yourself, or your spirit guide - this will protect you from anything that may hurt you (when I say this, I mean emotional or psychological- ie. bad thoughts)

Get comfortable! You can't meditate if your butt is numb... just sayin'. This would also be a time to bring in comforting things; this is my list:
1. A glass of water - water is refreshing, cleansing, and protective. It will provide a harbour to keep things that may try to weasle in at bay, or, if you have an extremely soul searching session, you can drink it afterwards for replenishment and cleansing
2. A cinnamon or cassia- scented candle - cinnamon and cassia get my brain going, but the scent is not over-stimulating. Remember, you want to be relaxed, not focussed on your nostrils burning from an unpleasant scent. Another beneficial scent is vanilla - it relaxes and cleanses your mind and soul.
3. My yoga mat - I associate yoga with health, and, since I do yoga on my trusty mat, when I bring the mat into my meditation session, I bring the feeling and promote health and clarity into my session
4. Music - Make sure to listen to the full tracks before you bring this in to your session. Music can also help shape what you may or may not encounter in your session; if you listen to "Thriller" you may meditate on whether or not to wear your rhinestone socks to the party later

Breathe. Focus on your breathing and posture to begin with.

Visualize your goals, anything that will bring positivity and balance to your life.

Research. Look it up! See what works best for you - if you prefer a Zen approach, try it!

Cleanse. Drink water afterwards - you may not have been on the treadmill, but your energy will be depleted.

Meditate often. Practise makes perfect - even for 10 minutes a day.


What We Can Learn From... Channa

Channa, in Buddhism, was Prince Siddhartha's faithful servant - the one by his side through "The Four Sights", Prince Siddhartha's first realizations on the journey to become The Buddha and achieve Enlightenment.
Do you have a Channa in your life? Somebody who is faithful to you, not a "servant", but somebody who will tell it to you like it is? Somebody who will go against authority to help you see and realize the truth? This could help you discover your own sense of "Enlightenment" and become a better person in the process.
I am grateful for my "Channa's".