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Archive for the ‘yoga’ Category

Suffering With Meaning

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

A friend went to get inked today. He left a message saying he hoped that he would not suffer too much in the process. It made me think again about the idea of suffering. I believe we not only benefit from a certain amount and type of suffering, but I believe we  – knowingly and unknowingly – seek it out. Why?

Unlike all other beings and despite our comfort-seeking nature, humans have a craving for suffering with meaning. And, I think the allure of getting a tattoo is linked to the bit of physical suffering that we endure in the process.

You can apply this theory to things like extreme sports, or other uniquely human experiences like piercings, sweat lodge, fasting, and other pursuits.

In yoga asana, we twist and turn our bodies to explore our edges — or productive limits – that live somewhere between discomfort and pain. Our physical and mental edges blend together, it results in a genuine spiritual experience, freeing us from distraction.

Without the ability to reach that internal place of suffering, we can’t express our full creative potential. The task is to find a way to contact the dark but then bring it into the light. Suffering can have meaning.


Life Box – Save the Planet One Cardboard Box at a Time

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

This is what I’m talking about! People following their passions – living their heart’s desire, but working and molding those desires to move us ALL towards change. There’s so many role models out there now – it’s hard NOT to be inspired!

What am I onto today? Let me fill you in. Working in the nutrition industry for the past several years has allowed me privy to the lastest and the greatest health news and supplements. In the past, it was all about SELLING, but in recent years, I’ve seen a shift towards mission-driven ideas and actions. Many people and their companies are looking both forward towards innovation and science as well as “back” to basics, towards nature and common sense – for instance, more and more supplement choices are coming from REAL FOOD, albeit packaged to be convenient for consumers. Well, now the packaging itself is part of the plan —

Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti, loves mushrooms. So he studies, harvests sells them and their healing powers for humans and for the planet. But there’s more. This from his recent press release:

“PAUL STAMETS ANNOUNCES THE LIFE BOX SOLUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE ONE CARDBOARD BOX AT A TIME. Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti and author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, announces the Life Box. The Life Box re-invents the cardboard box. Within the corrugations of the Life Box are hundreds of tree seeds and thousands of friendly spores of mycorrihizal fungi. Once a customer receives whatever is shipped inside, the box is torn up, planted and tree seedlings emerge….Of the ten species of trees each Life Box hosts – approximately 25% will survive in 90% of the continental United All the space you need for the first two years is that of two lap tops.

It takes up to two years for a transplant ready baby tree to emerge, so you have that time to decide where to plant them. The Life Box Company also hosts a web site where you can enter your GPS coordinates – Wow. Cool.

We’re a smart, motivated a passionate species. Full steam ahead everyone.

Hostel In The Forest

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

by Tao, Carrboro, NC

There are many reasons I don’t enjoy staying at hotels while traveling, so I’m happy to see Hostels are making a comeback in the U.S. (read my previous post). So, I’m thanking my friend, Jo Jo for introducing me to Hostel in the Forest – to my surprise, it’s been operating in Brunswick, GA for 32 years! Get a load of this:

Hostel in the Forest began with Tom Dennard and consists of geodesic domes and 9 tree houses on 130 acres of forest and wetlands. Everything has been built and maintained entirely by volunteers. Over the years, the center has evolved into a spiritual retreat and educational facility which promotes and teaches environmental sustainability, teaching a “hands-on approach to a sustainable lifestyle through activities such as alternative building and organic gardening while complementing the processes of nature.”

The “rooms” are really up in the trees! How cool is that? Down below, there are composting toilets and outdoor showers. They serve nightly vegetarian dinners and a kitchen is available for guests to prepare other meals. The lists of events and workshops include all yoga, Tai Chi, fermentation, cobb building, and one that especially intrigued me – a presentation on “Optimism and Fortitude”.

Learning, sharing, nature, peace and quiet. You can’t find that at The Holiday Inn. ahhh. Georgia on my mind……

Here’s a link to some great photos.

Conveniently Off-Grid – a Summer Adventure

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

It’s beginning to look like I just might make it happen – an off-grid Summer. Since last year, I’ve been planning and hoping and dreaming about a low-carbon adventure in Vermont for the Summer. I’ve found a spot near Brattleboro – it has a small 100-year-old building on it which used to be a blacksmith shop. No frills, that’s certain, but a hopefully non-leaky roof over my head. The rest? Minimize and create is my mantra. Here are some of my ideas so far:

I’m ready to use a composting toilet, and solar shower, filled in a nearby pond. Bonfire and a candle lantern at night will be enough to get me through the limited hours of darkness during these warm months. I’m used to eating mostly raw food during this time of year so I won’t worry much about cooking, though some kind of makeshift root cellar would be nice for vegetables – I’m still working on that one, so if you have ideas, pass them on. Although I’ll be next to 100 acres of preservation and near a State Park, I will also be within a 6mile bicycle ride to town, so I can feed myself healthily without refrigeration by making the trip every few days.

Everything but the kitchen sink, right? Well, actually, I found a couple versions of that, too! If you’ve been to music or other festivals, you’ve probably seen the “Use Yer Foot” washing station, made here in NC. One soapy jug and one fresh water container is perfect for washing up on demand. I can also collect the grey water in the tub below to wash dishes. For the more portable “sink”, you can also try the collapsable nylon and cable versions holding between 5 – 20 liters by Sea to Summit. Fill at your nearest water source, then carry back to camp.

This one I’ve been waiting for – grid or no-grid. The collapsible Solo Pack, by Fozzils – a bowl, plate, cup and spoon, made from bisphenol-A-free plastic that fold perfectly flat and weighs only a few ounces. The cup is what I’ve really been after – something more convenient than a water bottle that I can have with me everywhere.

What will I be doing up there in the North East, you ask? Getting back to the basics, doing some outdoor yoga on used plywood, hiking with the dogs, and writing and dreaming about a simply sustainable life for everyone. After that, I’ll let you know!

Practice Anyway

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I hope that you are still following the blog of No Impact Man. He has a lot to say about changing the world. He also talks a lot about how change can make us happy. Lately, he’s been asking us to not just talk about change or to simply give up some of our excessive consumption habits, but he’s asking us to take the next step – to be pro-active. So, if you have already changed your lightbulbs, stopped eating meat and driving your SUV, but don’t know what to do now – read this post where NIM says, “When It Comes To Saving The World, Just Try, Try, Try.” (Then search the word, “happy” and see how often his efforts have made him feel that way.)

It’s something that’s been in my thoughts a lot lately. I’ve been teaching some new yoga students and I’m reminded of what it’s like to be a human trying to do something new – something that we know will benefit us in the end, but in the moment it mostly seems inconvenient, awkward and/or difficult. Because I’m the old-school trained teacher, I emphasize the importance of using discipline and will to move through the hard parts.

In fact, by watching and listening to many yoga students over the years, I’ve written my own account and philosophy of the 3 stages that we all go through. The first stage is Arrrgh  – the hard part, the second is Ah-ha, when things start to make sense, and the 3rd is Ahhh, when you find the ease in the effort – the happy. I’ve also emphasized that without the struggle, yoga would be useless. For example, one student thought she was simply not cut out for yoga, coming to me to say, “I’m not strong, I’m not flexible, and I can’t focus. I don’t think yoga is for me.” My response went like this:

“If you came to me and said – I want to do yoga because I’m strong, I’m flexible and I have great focus – I would tell you that you don’t need to be here.”

I’d also like to share one simple definition of yoga that comes from the ideas of the great and enduring teachers. Yoga is simply doing something you could not do before.

So, yoga, as life, is about growing up and out and not just accepting change, but making it happen – whether it’s within ourselves, within our communities or in the world. It is about the work. It is about simply trying. And in the end, it’s about the freedom and happiness that comes with discipline. That’s why when my students come to me with all the reasons they cannot fit yoga into their lives, they hear two words – “Practice anyway.”

So, I want to point out that maybe this changing the world stuff is not supposed to be easy. What we can gain – personally and otherwise – just might come from the fact that we had to try. If you struggle to drive less, try anyway. If you struggle to use less water and electricity, try anyway. If you struggle to do something you haven’t done before, like talk to your congressman about change, try anyway.

What you learn from a yoga practice translates directly into how you are in your life. And how you are in your life translates directly into how we are in the world. It’s up to us to make change happen and to make ourselves happy along the way.


Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

There’s a lot of us out here making some basic changes in our living and driving habits and finding out that it not only doesn’t suck, but it’s a whole new world of suprises that feel good. My friend, Jeannie (watch her weekly posts on this blog) reaping the rewards of small town life in a camper with a dog and a bicycle. Another friend, Greg, living car-free and self-employed in Asheville who contra-dances his heart out regularly in his community. Of course, there’s the abundant declarations of No Impact Man and his family, who experimented during a year of off-grid, off-stuff life in NYC and never went back to much more than a laundry machine and lights.

It was an article I saw yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle that drove this happiness message home for me. It describes a more conventional family of three, including a 12 year-old son, living small outside the city with lights but no television, a non-potable water supply for everything except drinking, a hand-crank clothes washer and only a fireplace for heating. Though one parent needs to commute to the city for work (he carpools with 2 others in a Prius), when the other was laid off, they decided that their cost-efficient lives could be supported on one income, stating, “Living simply makes it easier to weather what could otherwise be hard times.”

To sum it all up from the closing paragraph, written by journalist, Kevin Fagan:

The two say that if they suddenly became so rich that money was no object, and their impact on the environment mysteriously didn’t matter any more, they still wouldn’t change much in the way they live.

Good enough for me.

Feeling Vermont-ish

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

We were back in VT this past weekend, making more plans regarding our eventual relocation to Brattleboro. We had to fly again, and yes, I have some eco-conflict over that, but will now stick to visiting one/time per year for an extended period, making the road trip in my Hybrid and not driving when I get there. That’s an Eco-promise.

The local food co-op, located downtown, was once again a source of nourishment during this trip, for both my body and soul. Here’s some highlights:

The first thing we came upon after arriving on Saturday, was The Plastic Monster – a mean-looking, definitely UNgreen man made of plastic bags, standing menacingly at the front door of the Co-op. It spoke a loud and clear message regarding our country’s Death By Plastic. I can imagine  that the patrons who forgot their reusable bags in the car were readily walking back to get them. I’m certain this creative plastic presence will plant more seeds in others. Nice.

A Co-op event on Saturday was Member Appreciation Day, where they served local beef and veggie burgers for a $1 suggested donation – the money collected going to stock local food shelves. Sweet.

On Sunday, we returned for lunch to find a group of enthusiastic and adrenalized women outside the storefront, who had ‘Baked for Obama’ – offering up the homemade treats to passersby, in trade for a donation towards his campaign support. They tirelessly engaged people in conversation, asking and answering questions from all. When Hillary’s name came up, one of the Obama Bakers showed me her Hillary button, now retired under a layer of clothing. Smile.

Strolling past again that afternoon, a creatively designed bicycle parked outside caught my eye. Making a trip for groceries with his small daughter, this industrious dad had left the car at home and pedaled down on this awesome kid-carrying bike/cart. He told me a friend from Oregon makes them. Cool!

In many parking lots throughout town, particularly at schools, there are “No Idling” signs which asked people to tun off their engines when stopped. Ahhhh

On Sunday afternoon, we found a swimming beach secluded along the River, just a short bike ride out of town. Although it was obvious that this is a popular Summer gathering spot, it was clean and free of trash. And the water was warmer than I expected! Double Ahhhhh.

On Sunday evening, we sat overlooking the River with our new VT friends, and enjoyed watching some young Brat Boys below. There, in long shorts and shirtless, they did what young men do…when Summer comes North…and the River runs. Sigh.

Some things just feel right. OM

Recycled, mold-proof shower curtains – NO PVC

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

The curtain I wrote about last week, has arrived from Health Goods. I was first pleased that it was sent in minimal packaging, with NO promotional materials included. The good news just kept on coming when I read the cover sheet (which was printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based ink):

100% RECYCLED polyester fabric

Water-repellent and anti-microbial

Fabric and product made in USA

Requires no shower rod hooks – buttons made from sustainable  Tagua nuts

Each full size curtain saves 130,000 BTU’s of energy

It comes in 3 sizes, so I was able to get one for my stall shower without all the extra material. I’ve used it a few times now and it truly is water-repellent and has no smell whatsoever. I’ve been fighting mold on my hemp/cotton curtains for so long, that this is a thrill for me. This curtain will never need to be replaced – it’s heavyweight and obviously durable – what a happy thought!

To order or for more info., go here. Pass it on to your showering friends!

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