Archive for August, 2010

The Guardian: My hero: David Lynch

August 16, 2010

My hero: David Lynch by Paul Murray

‘He’s violent and original, but most of all he’s brave’

The Guardian, Saturday 14 August 2010

I was 15 when Twin Peaks, David Lynch‘s surreal murder-mystery-soap-opera, first aired on TV. Until then, I’d found the suburbs of Dublin where I grew up almost terminally boring. They were art-proof; there was nothing interesting you could say about them – or so I thought. Lynch’s dreamlike vision of suburbia uncovered the violence, mystery and dark magic of a world that I, in my naivety, had dismissed. Spectral white horses appeared in living rooms, detectives practised Zen; in the bravura opening sequence of one episode, a terrifying journey down a network of fibrous tunnels was revealed to be a close-up of an ordinary ceiling tile. Everything held an unknowable secret; for me, that was an invaluable lesson.

Beneath the surrealism, Lynch’s work abides by fiercely held principles. While in some ways he is an old-school romantic, with a fondness for beautiful ingénues and the kind of clean-cut heroes you find only on the screen, his films are defiantly unconventional. For all our postmodernity, we remain quite traditional in our regard for logic, and a film such as Lost Highway, whose antihero, without explanation, turns into someone else halfway through, is genuinely shocking.

Look Lynch up on YouTube and you’ll find a polite, soft-eyed man with a carefully swirled quiff and a dark suit, probably making a speech about Transcendental Meditation. I don’t know much about his life, but he seems a good example of Flaubert’s dictum about being regular and orderly in your life so you can be violent and original in your work. He’s violent and original, but most of all he’s brave. It takes real courage not to make sense. The scariest thing about making art is that you don’t know what you’re doing; the temptation to fall back on established forms is a strong one. Lynch has the ability to trust in nothing but his vision, and for all its weirdness, that vision is one of great beauty – the expression of an almost childlike fascination with and love for the world.

This article appeared on p4 of the Guardian review section of The Guardian on Saturday 14 August 2010. It was published on at 00.05 BST on Saturday 14 August 2010. Click here, to see the comments, and an unusual photo of David Lynch taken by photographer Sarah Lee for The Guardian.

THP: Keeping Your Prefrontal Cortex Online: Neuroplasticity, Stress and Meditation

August 12, 2010

Keeping Your Prefrontal Cortex Online: Neuroplasticity, Stress and Meditation

As we go through life, our brain is always changing and adapting, say neuroscientists. During the first 18-20 years of life the brain is developing circuits that will form the basis of decision-making for a lifetime. Brain researchers have found that unhealthy lifestyles can inhibit normal brain development in adolescents and lead to impaired judgment and destructive behavior that carries over into adulthood. Traumatic experiences, alcohol and drug abuse, growing up neglected in a broken home, living in fear of violence and crime, or even a bad diet can interfere with development of the frontal lobes, the brain’s executive system. This can cause behavioral problems. Brain researcher Dr. Fred Travis explains: “When a person’s frontal lobes don’t develop properly, he lives a primitive life. He doesn’t — and can’t — plan ahead. His world is simplistic, and he can only deal with what’s happening to him right now. Thinking becomes rigid: ‘You’re either with me or against me,’ or ‘Me and my gang are good, and everyone else is bad.'”

The good news: meditation improves brain function

Brain researchers have also found that the brain can be changed in a positive direction through healthy lifestyle choices. This ability of the brain to reorganize its network of neurons is called “neuroplasticity.” Studies recently published in Cognitive Processing show that brain development can be enhanced — not only during adolescence but at any age — through the practice of meditation, and that different meditation techniques have different effects on the brain. For example, during the Transcendental Meditation (“TM”) technique there is increased alpha coherence in the brain’s frontal areas. “Within a few months of practice of the TM technique,” says Travis, “we see high levels of integration of frontal brain connectivity. And interestingly, that integration does not disappear after meditation. Increasingly and over time, this orderly brain functioning is found in daily activity.”

When the different parts of the brain are better integrated they work together more harmoniously — our brain is healthier. Higher levels of brain integration are associated with higher moral reasoning, emotional stability and decreased anxiety, according to a 1981 study in the International Journal of Neuroscience. Research shows that world-class athletes have higher brain integration than controls. Brain integration is important because one’s environment and circumstances are constantly shifting, and you need a flexible, integrated brain to successfully evaluate where you are, where you want to be and the necessary steps to get there.

Keeping your prefrontal cortex “online”

The prefrontal cortex — said to be the brain’s executive center or “CEO” — plays a crucial role in higher judgment, discrimination and decision-making. When we are overly tired or under intense mental, emotional or physical stress, our brain tends to bypass its higher, more evolved rational executive circuits, defaulting to more primitive stimulus/response pathways. We respond to challenges without thinking, making impulsive, shortsighted decisions. When the brain’s CEO goes “offline,” strong emotions such as fear and anger can adversely color or distort our perception of the world. Interestingly, the brain’s crucial frontal area is where the highest levels of EEG coherence are typically recorded during TM practice, indicating improved communication between the prefrontal cortex and other parts of the brain.

When a person transcends during meditation (goes beyond the active levels of the mind), the experience is commonly reported as a state of deep silence and inner wakefulness, without particular qualities or attributes — just pure consciousness. According to research studies, such as the previously mentioned study in Cognitive Processing, it is this ‘transcendental’ experience that creates the more efficient, integrated brain functioning seen during TM practice. While focused attention and other mental processes activate local brain areas, the experience of transcending activates the whole brain, enabling different parts of the brain to function together better as a whole.

Helping kids grow healthier brains

Fortunately, transcending is easy — we’re hardwired for it. With proper instruction and right practice, anyone can do it, including students with ADHD. Experiencing the quiet, transcendental field of orderliness deep within the mind doesn’t mean conjuring up a new outlook on life or accepting new beliefs, nor does it require an attitude change. It’s a natural, universal experience that produces a healthy response in the brain.

With help from the David Lynch Foundation and other private benefactors, thousands of at-risk students are now learning meditation during structured, in-school programs around the world. Researchers monitoring the results are finding that meditation improves learning ability, memory, creativity and IQ. Findings such as these may be opening a new frontier of research — establishing an expanded, more enlightened view about what is possible for the human brain.

VIDEO of Dr. Fred Travis, Director, Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition in Fairfield, Iowa: Brain Plasticity and Transcendental Meditation with Dr Fred Travis.


Read More: Meditation, Neuroplasticity, Transcendental Meditation, Living News

Also see: THP: How Meditation Techniques Compare

Good article about meditation

August 12, 2010

Learning Meditation

Posted on, a free press release and article directory
10.08.2010 | Author: Nick | Posted in Education

According to some polls, 10% or more of all US citizens now run through some type of meditation. People of all ages, including ten-year old kids in their schools, are closing their eyes and going inward for self-development.

Reasons for education to meditate vary widely: relief from stress seems to rank high on the list, but improved health ranks as a very close second reason. During the much-sentimentalized 1960s, meditation became famous largely due to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the popularity of his Transcendental Meditation (TM) program. Maharishi was canny enough to take his authentic, ancient practice and have modern science verify its benefits. Thus began the introduction of meditation and the quest for enlightenment in the modern, scientifically oriented west, although both had long been intrinsic to culture in the east.

Once Transcendental Meditation courses became widespread, the media began reporting about it. After celebrities, like the Beatles, Donovan, and later Merv Griffin and Clint Eastwood, talked publicly about their benefits from the TM technique, other schools of meditation sprang up like wildflowers. Every time you turned around a would-be guru was touting his or her path, none of them significantly scientifically researched, but offering a myriad of results nonetheless. Eventually the phone book was filled with choices, publications on yoga and on meditation filled the shelves in bookstores, and your next-door neighbor’s eighteen-year old hung out a shingle and taught you to focus on your breath.

So what is it all about? According to the more profound texts about meditation, its purpose is to unite the conscious mind with the universal cosmic basis of life. This is the pure form of Yoga, which in Sanskrit, means union. The experience of transcending relative phases of perception to experience silent, absolute, non-changing existence is open to all, according to the texts and teachers. The value of this supreme realization of the silent Infinite is found in the finite routines of daily life. Self-realization becomes self-actualization—greater energy, intelligence, creativity, compassion, tolerance and bliss–when we open our eyes after meditation. The results are worth the trip down the path—it is just a matter of which is the most effective path.

According to some scholars, techniques that involve concentration can tire the mind and not produce the transcendent state that one desires. Although the transcendent state finds the mind highly concentrated, it is not the technique of concentration that is the means to that end. Methods that involve focus or concentration keep the mind bound and active in individual perception, disallowing unboundedness.

Contemplative practices, such as visualization, prayer, mindfulness and any method that involves letting the mind wander or involves being attentive to the wandering mind, all keep the mind actively engaged in thought. This is counter-productive to transcending thought.

One of the reasons the TM technique continues, for example, to be widely practiced is that it doesn’t fit into either of the categories discussed—it is neither contemplation nor concentration, and therefore easily adapted by persons of varied natures, ages, personalities and intellectual capacity. Because it involves neither religion nor philosophy nor change in lifestyle, it appeals to those who wish a secular self-help approach to self-development. Although no meditation program offers a quick fix, some are more likely to deliver tangible benefits more quickly.

If you are looking for the whole kit and caboodle—a package of belief, lifestyle and doctrine—every religion from Christianity to Buddhism has a meditation component. It may not be your preference to change your lifestyle and belief system, so do your research before engaging in something that might be far too consuming for you. The Internet has endless information (and misinformation) as does your local library and bookstore.

Whether you call it Nirvana, the Tao, the Self, or the Kingdom of Heaven Within, it is real; please enter.

The Green Parent: “Balancing the brain”

August 9, 2010

Here is a wonderful article, Balancing the brain, from the August/September issue of The Green Parent magazine. The article is based on a talk given in the UK last year by Fred Travis, PhD, brain researcher, and director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA. Written by David Hughes, it explains how a child’s brain benefits from the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. “The technique promotes a balanced brain and thus a stable child, well prepared to deal with the challenges of a rapidly changing world without picking up stress.” Since this issue of the magazine is not yet available online, here is a PDF of the cover and the article with photos: TM_TGP36

Spirit of Change: Ayurvedic Restoration

August 5, 2010

Getting Well: Summer 2010

“New England’s Alternative Health and Medicine Resource since 1987”

Ayurvedic Restoration View this in the digital edition

The most ancient of medicines is exquisitely restored at the pearly gates of the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center in Lancaster, MA

Lothar and Dr. Karin Pirc, Ayurvedic clinic directors, in front of the famous Maharishi Ayurveda Clinic in Bad Ems, Germany. Situated along the scenic Rhine River, home to many historic castles and fortresses, the clinic occupies the former German imperial palace of King Wilhelm II. Bad means “bath” in German.

Ayurveda is one of the oldest known systems of medicine in the world. Practices that predate written records, handed down by word of mouth, are believed to have originated in the second millennium BC. Literally, the word ayurveda translates into “science of life,” offering not only a prescription for a healthy body, but also a life of wellness and balance. Ayurveda continues to be widely practiced in India, where, according to the National Institute of Health, nearly 80 percent of the population (approximately 900 million people) use it exclusively or combined with conventional (Western) medicine.1
Ayurveda stresses a balance of three elemental energies or doshas within each body — vata, pitta and kapha — and outlines specific measures of healthful living known to correct dosha imbalances that are the cause of disease and toxicity. Treatment programs are tailored to each individual’s constitution and include a thorough Ayurvedic assessment, dietary and herbal remedies, detoxification procedures, specific recommendation for yoga/exercise and meditation. Patients must be active participants in their healing because many Ayurvedic treatments may require changes in diet, lifestyle and habits to restore balance.
Panchakarma, meaning “five actions,” is an Ayurvedic therapy that purifies the body by cleansing its deep tissues of toxins and opens subtle energy channels to increased life energy, health and immunity. A full treatment includes at least five different procedures over a period of several days or more, usually in a retreat or clinic setting. In countries where citizens enjoy more vacation time, panchakarma retreats are popular destinations allowing people to use their vacation time to de-stress, detox and rejuvenate on a regular basis.
Without the extended stay, individual panchakarma treatments can also provide relief from ailments and reactivate the body’s own self-healing and self-repair mechanisms. The images most popularly associated with Ayurveda — abhyanga (the two-person synchronized oil massage) and shirodhara (the steady stream of warm oil poured over the forehead) — lend a luxurious and exotic air to a medical system that is anything but mysterious. Thoroughly grounded in practical knowledge, Ayurveda provides a complete system of natural healing, disease prevention and enhancement of immunity for the human body regardless of race or location.
Nestled amidst 215 acres in the quintessential New England countryside, the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center Lancaster in Lancaster, Massachusetts opened its doors in 1985 when few people in this country had even heard of Ayurveda. Established as the first Maharishi Ayurveda clinic in the West, for years it was widely regarded as a health spa for celebrities, presumably attracted to the glamour of the extraordinary healing treatments imported from India via famed Beatles guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation program. As familiarity with alternative medicine grew over the next two decades, more people began seeking out the benefits of Ayurveda themselves, peering past its exotic aura to discover a complete and natural healing system of medicine noted for its success with chronic conditions.
Despite this increased interest, the Lancaster center eventually struggled to generate the resources required to update its facility. Enter Lothar Pirc, managing director, and Karin Pirc, MD, medical director of the famous Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center Bad Ems in Bad Ems, Germany. Founded in 1992, the center is one of the leading Ayurveda institutions in Europe. Dr. Pirc was the first European to receive the Indian Global Hakim Ajmal Khan Award of “Best Ayurvedic Physician 2006” for outstanding achievements in the field of Ayurveda.
Karin recalls, “Lothar was invited to consider taking over the management of the center in early 2009. It had been quite a famous place to do panchakarma, so we made trips and spent time looking over every detail of the property and interviewing all the employees. We were inspired by its beauty and the profound quality of the healing environment there. This opportunity revived an earlier interest of ours to begin developing clinics around the word, which was on hold while establishing our clinic in Bad Ems and raising our family. We became excited that the Lancaster center could be restored as a model facility for new centers around the world, so we finalized everything in May.”
When I visited the Lancaster center last fall to meet the new directors and sample Ayurvedic treatments there, it was obvious the Pircs had wasted no time in their restoration. A gentle aura of well-being permeates the beautiful acres of forests, meadows and lawns, carried indoors where every nuance of design and function gracefully emanates healing intention. During the visit no detail of my comfort was overlooked, culminating in the blissful three hours of purification during the warm, aromatic oil treatments of abhyanga and shirodhara. The Pircs were due to return to Germany the following day so I scheduled a phone interview with Dr. Pirc for a later date and floated home luxuriously relaxed and rejuvenated after my treatment.
One of the most experienced Ayurvedic physicians in the western world, Dr. Pirc opened the first Ayurvedic clinic in Germany in 1986 and has treated more than 20,000 patients from around the world. She is an MD with a Ph.D. in psychology, has authored eight books on Ayurveda and now serves as the medical advisor in Lancaster, while maintaining her practice as medical director in Bad Ems. Dr. Pirc engages Ayurveda with a systematic thoroughness that reveals both its practical, cost-effective simplicity for daily health maintenance and its effectiveness as a comprehensive natural medical system that is free from harmful side effects.

Carol Bedrosian: How did you come to be involved in Ayurveda?

Karin Pirc: I had the idea when I was a small girl that I wanted to help people with their body and their mind. So that was the first thing. I was very sick when I was a girl and at 19 years of age I started Transcendental Meditation. Gradually the whole disease went away so I was very interested in meditation and thought the spiritual dimension should also be included if you treat people. I studied psychology first at the university, and then I still had time, so I studied medicine.
When I was 33 or 34 I heard about Ayurveda, though I hardly knew what it was. A seminar for doctors was being offered in the Netherlands and I was in a situation where I thought I could try something new, so I went. After some days of training, I thought, “Wow this is exactly it.” I always had the feeling there should be something like this in medicine but maybe it will come in 2050, very far away.
The training was very systematic so I went home with all I had learned in those 4 weeks and started incorporating the new approaches with my patients. I was very lucky to have a place to start right away. I could give a lecture to about 800 people at that time and it went out right from the beginning and spread.
For about half a year I remember I would say to myself, “I don’t understand it. Everything is so easy.” I remember there was a lady who had functional heart problems, and they couldn’t treat it even with modern medicine. She was there in the clinic for 10 days and it was gone forever. Normally you have to prescribe strong heart drugs for these diseases. So then you sit there as a doctor and say, “What is this?”

Carol Bedrosian: So what is it?

Karin Pirc: How can it work? After the 6 months I was absolutely sure I would stick with it because of seeing these miracles everyday. In the next few years I did more doctor trainings to go deeper into the knowledge. It’s really great how much help you can give to people to really recover and understand what their body and mind are for and how to use them in a happy and healthy way.

Carol Bedrosian: Are you strictly doing Ayurvedic treatments now in your own practice?

Karin Pirc: Yes, because if you want to do something really, really good then you have to stick to it. And Ayurveda is so comprehensive. We have herbal preparations, we have rejuvenation, we have meditation, we have yoga, we have the purification treatments, and people can do the beneficial self-massage at home and breathing exercises. All these things are included in Ayurveda and I still don’t know everything. It’s a lifelong study and experience and I think it’s good if you concentrate on just one holistic health care system.

Carol Bedrosian: Can you tell me a little bit about your clinic in Germany?

Karin Pirc: The Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center in Bad Ems is very well known and patients come from all over Europe to be treated here. We are not a hospital, but we have the capacity to treat and accommodate about 40-50 patients at a time. They live in the hotel area and they can walk right over to the treatment area in their gowns. It’s very cozy for them. We have a large Ayurvedic treatment area and doctor consultation rooms, a yoga room, a meditation room and two or three lecture rooms. We give lectures every evening so guests can learn about their body, their mind and about Ayurveda so they are motivated when they go home to change some things in their lives.

Carol Bedrosian: What makes your clinic so successful?

Karin Pirc: I think it’s the successful treatments that are most important and also the orderly, structured and friendly way in which all the employees treat the patients. We are always improving our clinic. Just like in the United States, people have to pay for this themselves. It’s quite expensive because with Ayurveda you basically need two employees for every patient. So for 40 patients we have 80 employees; it’s not a cheap thing.

Carol Bedrosian: It’s very labor intensive.

Karin Pirc: It’s not only the treatments, but also what the patients don’t see in preparing things. Everything is freshly prepared — the herbs, the medicated oils and pastes — all these things sum up to a large labor cost. Sheets and the towels have to be replaced every six months because they are worn out by all the washing from the oils. The most important thing is the transformation and deep rejuvenation a person feels from the treatments.
The Ayurvedic purification treatment basically is ten days. You start with a gentle internal cleansing, and for that you need at least 3-5 days. You can take more but that’s the smallest time possible to start. Then after that there’s all these wonderful massages and detoxifying procedures. The ten-day treatment is a systematic way of loosening toxins, bringing it to the eliminative systems like sweating, the kidneys, the intestines and purifying all the organs. Once the impurities go out of the body, a person feels much better after that. There is just no chance you will go out of here and not feel better because you feel better when you are pure. It’s very easy.

Carol Bedrosian: Do people stay longer than ten days?

Karen Pirc: For people who are just tired and overworked and need some purification and refreshment, ten days makes a big difference in their wellbeing. If you are seeking more profound balance or have a chronic condition, 14 days or more is appropriate. After the in-residence program, the doctor will make personalized recommendations to use at home including herbs, exercise, diet and daily routine.

Carol Bedrosian: How is Ayurvedic health care perceived in Germany? Is it very popular?

Karin Pirc: It is quite popular. I would think that at least most people in Germany have heard the word, but we are a smaller country and when we first started with Ayurveda, nobody knew it. Now many hotels offer the wellness part of Ayurveda — not with the sophisticated quality that we offer — but it is quite well known. When you go to a sauna, many offer Ayurveda massage. It doesn’t really have much to do with Ayurveda, but at least they use the word!

Carol Bedrosian: Overall, how is the healthcare in Germany different than it is here in America?

Karin Pirc: We’re all forced to have health insurance in Germany, which is quite expensive. It can be a state run or private one, but you are forced to do it and it costs you many hundred euros per month. It is really a big part of your income. For that you get nearly everything free. Free means you pay for a recipe [prescription] just 10 euros.
But basically what you get is modern medicine only. You are forced to pay hundreds of euros a month and you are not allowed to decide what you get for that. There are three private insurances that pay for Ayurveda but the additional monthly premium you have to pay is much higher so I’m not sure if that’s a good idea to take it or not. So it’s basically like the US and people have to pay for Ayurvedic medicine from their own pocket, including panchakarma and other treatments that are expensive because of the labor and preparation involved.
But there are many things that anyone can afford. Sometimes just the right preparation can give you back all the energy, vitamins and minerals you need. For example, one patient who did not have much money, I was so glad about the success with his remedy I called my husband to tell him! He had hypertension, depression, diabetes, blindness from diabetes, and he hardly felt his feet anymore due to the diabetes. His improvements were so dramatic that he was able to reduce many of the modern medicines he was taking that may have been contributing to his problems.
And that’s what you see with Ayurveda. It was not expensive for this man so it was really worth it. For any of the major diseases, if people knew what great things could occur, they would try it — get their diagnosis and take the preparations. Normally, you’ll feel the first improvements quite quickly — after 3, 4, 5 weeks — and eventually the symptoms will reduce until they are gone. And that’s what we want. This other goal of modern medicine to just suppress symptoms for the rest of your life and tell people it is a chronic disease that cannot be cured is, fortunately, not true if you treat with Ayurveda.

Carol Bedrosian: I thought Germany was overall more progressive and holistic with their healthcare.

Karin Pirc: Yes, I think so. But all the pharmaceutical industries have tons of money and they go to all the politicians, so they have everything. They have the money to do the studies. The studies today are so expensive. A little study with 30 or 60 people will cost you millions and who can afford it? Nearly all the studies that are done here are pharmaceutical-sponsored. So in that case the US people are better off.

Carol Bedrosian: Why is that?

Karin Pirc: Because the NIH pays for studies in the US. I know they have paid about thirty million dollars for studies on the effects of TM [Transcendental Meditation] on high blood pressure and reduction of arthrosclerosis. In that part they are freer to go in a more holistic angle to see if there’s anything healthy we can give to our people to reduce all these modern problems.

Carol Bedrosian: Do these studies focus more on TM rather then other Ayurvedic treatments?

Karin Pirc: These big studies, yes, but we have some other Ayurvedic studies. A study was done in the US with panchakarma patients showing that approximately 50% of herbicides and pesticides that are stored in the fat tissues were reduced by up to 50% in 12 days. And that’s what the patients feel — this lightness and easiness in the body when they do the treatments. When all this mud goes out, you feel it. It’s not just something theoretical. That’s why I say it’s not possible for you to come out being less healthy than before you went in for treatment.


Drink hot filtered water. Boil your water for 10 to 20 minutes in the morning and store it in a thermos so it’s available throughout the day. This hot water goes more quickly through your cells walls than cold water and the purification is deeper. Drink this as hot or as warm as it is convenient for you. In a week or two, you will start to feel more lightness in your body. It also takes the edge off the feeling of having to eat a little chocolate here or a little bread there so you can more easily stick to three meals a day and not eat things in between. You can add some fresh ginger slices in case you feel extremely heavy and congested, which makes it more purifying.

Eat large meals earlier in the day. Eat as early as possible, not later then 6:00pm. Avoid heavy-to-digest foods like meat, fish or cheese in the evening. Keep it light, like soup, grains, cooked vegetables, noodles, fresh tomato sauce, etc.

Eliminate between meal eating. Drink hot water instead. It may be boring, but it works!

Liquid fast one day per week. If you want to reduce weight and your amount of toxins, take only liquid food one day a week, no alcohol. You can have fresh juice, fresh soup from vegetables or grains. Take this 3, 5, 7 times a day — you don’t have to be hungry — and have the hot water in between. The next day you will feel light, the way you should be. It’s very quick, but, of course, it needs a little discipline.
When you first begin and especially if you have lots of toxins stored in your cells or you have a diet where you eat meat two times a day and drink lots of cola or alcohol, you may get a headache after six hours or so. This is a good sign that the toxins from your cells are circulating in the blood and can be flushed out. When you repeat this fasting day for several weeks it gets easier and easier since the body doesn’t need to digest so much during this day and it can release all the rubbish from the cells. If you drink the hot water you will see in the first week the headache comes on after 6 hours or so, the next week after 8 hours and then 8 hours again until gradually it stops. The hot water is very important. It liquefies waste and toxins so they are easier to get rid of. The heat of the hot water increases metabolism, which increases purification. I could talk for 3 hours about hot water.

Avoid iced drinks. If you go to countries where there is a warm climate and the people have been there for centuries, nobody drinks cool things. They all drink warm things like teas. When it’s warm outside the body metabolism gets reduced because the body has to cool down as a natural reflex. So it starts with sweating. All the heat goes outside so you have less power to digest. You will also see in these countries they have many hot spices for their food, which they need to gain more digestive power.
But the American people didn’t bring the culture to this country to have warm teas. Now they want to reduce the outer heat with cold drinks that cool you down perfectly in the first moments when you drink, but it also cools down your digestive system so you cannot digest so well. I believe that a big portion of the overweight problem in the US is from people drinking ice drinks. Increasing the metabolism power inside the intestines with hot drinks helps increase weight reduction. It’s very simple and very cheap; you just have to do it.

1. National Institute of Health

Interviewer Carol Bedrosian is the publisher and editor of Spirit of Change with 25 years of satisfied experience using all natural healthcare. She can be reached at or 508-278-9640, ext 3.

Learn more about Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center Lancaster at or call 877-890-8600.

What Do Trees Do? Something to think about

August 2, 2010

Since we’re on the subject of trees, and comments about them, here’s something I wrote about 15 years ago when I was living in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I was renting an upstairs room in a boarding house. Looking outside my window onto the backyard I saw the tops of large evergreen trees. I remembered reading about the special qualities of trees, and with the destruction of forests, decided to tell their story in the form of a childlike rhyme—a nursery rhyme for adults. Something to think about……

What Do Trees Do?

What do trees do?
I wonder? Do you?

We purify water. We purify air.
We take all the stress out of the atmosphere.
We store up the knowledge of all of the ages.
We acknowledge the gifts of all of the sages.
They kept cool and rested under our arms.
We were their shelter from all of life’s harms.

We hold up your children as they swing on our boughs.
When it rains, we keep animals dry, especially cows.
We give you our wood to build for your homes.
We make room for squirrels, birds, elves, and gnomes.
We give you sweet fruits and nuts to eat
And rock your babies gently to sleep.
We communicate with stars and bring down their light
And make sure you’re sleeping safely all through the night.

So the next time you’re planning to cut us all down,
Just think; all the good things we do, won’t be around.

And eventually neither will you.
I added this ‘cuz it’s true!

—Ken Chawkin

You can hear me read this poem on Let Your Heart Sing Radio Show #70.

Also see: Willow Tree a tanka – from a tree’s perspective. I also read that poem on Sheila Moschen’s Let Your Heart Sing, Variety Show #61.

And: Friendshipanother tree tanka, which I read on Sheila Moschen’s Let Your Heart Sing, Variety Show #76.

Press-Citizen Editorial on Borderlines: Drawing Border Lives

August 2, 2010

Our View – Humanity behind immigration debate

Press-Citizen Editorial Board • July 21, 2010

One of the oft-cited limitations of contemporary American poetry — including the poetry produced by graduates of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop — is its inaccessibility. Readers often have to be as well-trained and academically astute as the poets themselves to appreciate all the nuances, sly allusions and small linguistic experiments. And the poets seldom offer a helpful hand to readers struggling to find meaning or purpose in the words.

That’s definitely not the case with the “Borderlines: Drawing Border Lives/Fronteras: Dibujando las vidas fronterizas” (Wings Press), a recent book project by poet Steven P. Schneider and artist Reefka Schneider. Not only have the husband and wife team paired every poem with the drawing that initially inspired it, but the book stage of the Schneiders’ broader project evolved from exhibits that the couple took on the road to schools and other educational settings throughout south Texas.

Steven Schneider, a 1977 graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop who now teaches at the University of Texas-Pan American, said the couple has long had an educational purpose in mind for the project. They describe “Borderlines/Fronteras” as a text — appropriate for use in high school and college classes as well as for everyday reading — that demonstrates how to cross the borders between:

• Art and poetry.

• Academically aware poetry and a broader, popular audience.

• English and Spanish.

• The physical border between the U.S. and Mexico and the different ways that imaginary line echoes symbolically throughout both nations.

The “Borderlines/Fronteras” project began in 2001, when Steven Schneider came to teach in Texas, and Reefka Schneider began to draw portraits of people on both sides of the border. Once Reefka had amassed more than 100 drawings, Steven chose the 25 most engaging and began a four-year process of writing poems in response to the visual images. He then worked with bilingual poet José Antonio Rodriguez to translate the poetry so that reading through “Borderlines/Fronteras” would be a dual-language, integrated-arts experience.

With readings scheduled in New York, Rhode Island, Florida, New Mexico and Iowa City (7 p.m. today at Prairie Lights), the Schneiders now are hoping to attract a broader, national audience for the book stage of their project. (Interested readers can follow the couple’s progress at

“The border has moved north,” Steven Schneider said. “There is still the Rio Grande, of course. But (through farm labor and working in meatpacking plants) the influx of immigrants from Mexico and Latin America has come as far north as states like Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota.”

At the very least, “Borderlines/Fronteras” is a helpful primer for anyone looking to improve their Spanish or English reading skills. At its best, however, “Borderlines/Fronteras” is a model for the type of cross cultural understanding and communication that needs to take place to ensure a healthy and comprehensive national debate on immigration issues.

Sandra Cisneros, a workshop graduate and MacArthur fellow who has spent decades urging writers to be more culturally relevant, describes the Schneiders’ poetic/artistic portraits as, “Ordinary folks rendered with love, compassion and intimacy at a time in which love, compassion, and intimacy are in short supply on borders, especially when it comes to the Tex/Mex border.”

Thus “Borderlines/Fronteras” also is welcome reminder that legacy of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop is not just the linguistically and formally challenging work of poets such as Pulitzer Prize-winner Jorie Graham. The workshop’s legacy also includes the poets and writers such as Cisneros and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove who continually call on literary artists to be more actively, socially and politically engaged in the world around them.

“Our View” represents the consensus opinion of the Press-Citizen Editorial Board — which includes General Manager Daniel W. Brown, Executive Editor Jim Lewers, Opinion Editor Jeff Charis-Carlson, Specialty Publications Editor Tricia DeWall and community members Shams Ghoneim, Angie Blanchard-Manning and Amy Sundermann.

Friendship – another tree tanka

August 1, 2010

I took this photo of these neighboring tree branches—a willow wrapped around a honey locust—by my front porch. They inspired this 2nd tanka.


Trees like to hold hands
Bending branches to link leaves
They forge deep friendships

Swaying with the wind—they dance
Under the moonlight—romance


Ken Chawkin
Fairfield, Iowa
August 1, 2010

Also see: Willow Tree – a tanka – from a tree’s perspective

And: What Do Trees Do?

Updated: Around 8-9 years later I would read this poem on Sheila Moschen’s Let Your Heart Sing, Variety Show #76.

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