All posts filed under: Wellness Journeys

planning & equipment, itineraries, activities, learning ~ for body-mind-soul integrated and holistic well-being

Timeless in Tuscany

It’s 3 o’clock on a Saturday. Saturn-Day, as in Saturn, the great teacher. We’ve arrived. The grandfather clock behind the reception desk stands still, frozen at some previous, unspecified 4 o’clock. Looking closely, I make out the phrase on its face: tempus fugit. “Sed fugit interea, fugit inreparabile tempus, singular dum capti circumvectamur amore”  Virgil, Georgics “Fugit inreparabile tempus” (It escapes, irretrievable time), wrote the poet Virgil — later expressed in English as: time flies. While time may fly, it can also stop for a spell. Also not flying on this day: our luggage — left behind by the airline along the way. We check in and then go to the center of this piccolo villaggio, hoping for a shop with swimsuits. Aha, a shop: Fata Morgana. This is the Italian name of the Fairy Morgana, the sorceress Morgan le Fay in Arthurian legend. Fata Morgana is also the name of a mirage of sorts, visible above the horizon, once believed to be fairy castles conjured up by witchcraft. Now known as an “optical phenomenon.” They are sometimes seen …

Lucid Dreaming

What distinguishes lucid dreaming from dreaming? What makes a lucid dream – lucid? Why explore and develop this skill? How could it contribute to better health and well-being?  To begin exploring this, let us first land upon a story shared in the Zhuangzi, by the master Zhuang. In the “Butterfly Dream”, Zhuang Zhou dreams of being a butterfly, happily fluttering around. He awakens from this vivid dream and – pauses, wonders – is he Zhuang Zhou who dreamt of being a butterfly? Or is he a butterfly, dreaming that he is Zhuang Zhou? “The Butterfly Dream” of Zhuang Zhou is a dream, recalled — and a portal through which we can move between the concepts of dreaming and lucid dreaming. Psychophysiologist Stephen LaBerge specializes in the scientific study of lucid dreaming. He describes lucid dreaming as “fully reflective consciousness during unequivocal (REM) sleep” — and also simply: “dreaming while knowing that you are dreaming.” When you become aware that you are dreaming, myriad new possibilities emerge in your dreams. Applications being explored by lucid dreamers include: …

Caveat Meditator

| INT. – A bookstore in Rishikesh, India – Afternoon | I am with a yoga teacher from the west. She is browsing the shelves for herself, but then remembers that I, her student, am present. She hands me a book. “Here, this is good. You should read this and practice the exercises.” The book she has handed me is on advanced breathing techniques. While it is a good book, it is not a good book for me at this stage. Curiously, she has not asked me essential questions about my previous training, interests, and goals; so how does she know that this is appropriate for me? Simple answer: she does not know. She has not asked me the questions because this retreat she has organized is not for me or other participants. It is for herself. And this book is not for me—not yet. What little I do know about advanced breathing techniques: they are powerful. One must proceed with proper training, adequate knowledge, and competent guidance. Otherwise, it could be dangerous. This book requires far more …

Hygiene and Wellness

When it comes to hygiene – personal hygiene – the cleanliness of body, clothing, and home environment are typically the focus. And while these are important, hygiene is much more: it is about maintaining health and preventing disease – and so that includes physical and mental cleanliness.  In the 19th century, the poet Robert Browning dropped us into the secret inner world of a monk who is enraged at “Brother Lawrence”. What exactly did this Brother Lawrence do? You might wonder, if you haven’t already read the fiercely gnarled interior monologue known as the “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister”. Well, for one, Brother Lawrence grew melons to share with the order. (The effrontery! The virtue signaling!) “Oh, those melons! if he’s able   We’re to have a feast; so nice!One goes to the Abbot’s table,   All of us get each a slice.How go on your flowers? None double?   Not one fruit-sort can you spy?Strange!–And I, too, at such trouble,   Keep them close-nipped on the sly!” This is a monk going through the motions of appearing pious, and while we witness his contaminated thoughts …

On the Waves of Thoughts

More than 14 million books Published over a period of 125 years (1855 – 2019) In 3 languages (English, German, Spanish) Add machine learning and algorithms that tirelessly seek and identify textual markers of “cognitive distortions” — thinking patterns associated with anxiety and depression — for researchers to analyze. And? They analyzed. And? The interdisciplinary team of researchers found that the language records show a surge of cognitive distortions since the 1980s. Suggesting? In fact, entire societies may be getting more depressed — and this may correlate with new technologies and “social” media. Aha. Before you say, “I knew it; I just had a feeling” — just consider if that may indicate a cognitive distortion… Find information on the cognitive distortion schemata used in the study here, and below a brief overview: 12 Cognitive Distortions 1. Catastrophizing Exaggerating the importance of negative events Examples: “will go wrong” and “will never end” 2. Dichotomous Reasoning Thinking that an inherently continuous situation can only fall into two categories Examples: “everything” and “nothing” 3. Disqualifying the Positive Unreasonably …

Kneipp*

Water always finds a way Have you ever wondered at how certain books seem to choose you, sliding into your life just when there is a specific longing and space for them, binding with threads of your destiny from the moment you choose them, too?  That’s how the young Sebastian Kneipp must have felt that evening when he returned from the library in Munich. It was at the end of the 1840s and he was trying to get through his university studies while suffering from a lung disease he couldn’t shake off. From a poor family, he had to rely on knowledge flowing to him from various, perhaps unexpected sources. Knowledge discovered. Knowledge earned by intellectual curiosity. And so one day in the library (was he trying to suppress his coughs in the studied silence of the reading room? Did he wander off into the stacks where nobody was, where he could cough into a handkerchief and not bother anybody?) he found a book by one Dr. Johann Siegmund Hahn — written a hundred years …

Social Light

| Photo by Vlad Chețan | There is an idea that responsibility is the inseparable result of power, known most recently as the Peter Parker principle: “With great power comes great responsibility”. If we consider “freedom” in this equation, it also holds: “With great freedom comes great responsibility.”  And yet, it seems that as many achieve greater freedoms relative to most others in this world, they are paradoxically trapped in a state of mind which shirks responsibility and chases endlessly after ego-gratification. Instead of being social lights, illuminating the best in others, they become self-absorbed socialites, which is to the soul as artificial sweeteners are to the body. So your assignment, dear reader, is to define what freedom means for you, then list the freedoms that you recognize in your life and consider how you can be a social light now – and what is furthermore possible, as your freedom expands. And remember, when you do contribute in this way to the world, it’s good to do so as anonymously as possible. Allow people to wonder where …