OUR EXPERIENCE: “it is what it is”.

Philosophers, spiritual leaders, our parents, mentors, friends and even our children will advise you on what is right and what is wrong about a given situation.

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How do you decide on what’s right? Do you go by what others tell you? Or maybe what you read in a book? What do you do if the advice given to you is conflicting?

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Our brains are designed by evolution to process information in a specific way. This processing is then influence by the genes we inherit, our environment, our culture, our friends, parents and peers.

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It is also influenced by how we feel when we are trying to decide. Our brain doesn’t allow us to see things as they really are; it only gives representation of what the reality is outside our heads.


It is only our awareness of our experience we can say, “it is what it is.” Our experience is our own; it is special and unique to us.


However, it doesn’t mean our experience will lead us to make the “best” decision. Remember it is colored by so many factors and even by our likes and dislikes. We tend to give more importance to qualities we like than those we don’t like. We value what we like, but what we like is not always “wholesome and good.”


In the final analysis its doesn’t really matter what the absolute truth is before we make our final decision; it only matters that we try to see what others see and think, while keeping in mind they too want to thrive in life.

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We only see from where we stand, so should we try standing in lots of different places to get the whole picture? I leave it to you,to decide.


Mindfulness workshop

We knew we were gambling for good weather when we decide to have a workshop on November 2, 2013 in a building out in middle of a big field, and with only small heaters powered by a generator as the heat source.  We knew Mother Nature has her own big plans for the whole universe and we must conform to her timetable.  She has a way of regulating the energy flow that keeps the cosmos functioning by maintaining nice delicate balance. She is not distracted by anyone’s plans.

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The day before the conference the weather was perfect, 10 above and sunny, but in the following morning it started with 5 above but gradually got colder and in the midday it started snowing, by the end of the day people were worried about the road conditions and driving home as the heavy snow lay on the ground. The fields and the trees magically got transformed and looked beautiful. Only those who were mindful fully appreciated this beauty as they went about doing whatever needed to be done.

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Mindfulness is a way of being and is cultivated by getting to know the workings of our own mind so we can regulate the flow of energy and information of our minds with awareness.  The flow of energy in our own mind gets manifested through our behavior, quality of ours thoughts and speech. This affects the quality of our relationship with our loved ones and beyond, including our relationship with all living creatures and the mother earth.  Our ability to control our minds energy will determine our level of suffering and happiness.  It was with these underpinning of our ability to be in awareness affecting health of our body, our mind and our relationship that motivated us to hold the workshop.

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In the workshop we looked at the ancient traditional practices to control this energy and information flow and how science is able to glimpse at what may be going on in our mind and brain when we practice these methods regularly everyday. Knowing the science of mindfulness may help the practice by it being another pointer to guide us along the path of mindfulness.. Ultimately one has to experience it.

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The Mother Nature and all the other forces in the universe will demand our attention but we can choose consciously where to direct it with mindfulness.

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Universal Love by Lama Yeshe

Photographs by Patrick Lukasewich


The Need to be Mindful of the Mind!


People of Christen belief are less likely to die 20 days before Christmas than after Christmas. People who believe in something higher themselves are more likely to live longer, generally healthier and more resilient than people who are non-believers. People who meditate are more to feel a sense of wellbeing and are generally happier.

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These statements are rooted in science and from them one may conclude that these people are somehow living and seeing the world in a different way that confers them some benefits.

What’s special about these situations and these people that causes them to experience these benefits?

Research seems to confirm the age-old suspicion that these individuals’ brains are firing differently! That is to say their mind is processing the world differently.  In a sense they are creating their own reality and their own happiness.


The Buddha realized the world is suffused with suffering and always advocated cultivating the mind to free one of suffering. Science is now discovering that cultivating the mind is indeed very important determinant of our health and wellbeing.


It is easy to say cultivate your mind but how does one do that? There are many ways, but none surpass the practice of training your attention, which really means meditating. The practice of meditation is a technique used for thousands of years to improve concentration and focus, which improves the control of  our awareness.

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When we are more aware, it allows us to “see and map out” our own mind.  This then allows us to see different aspects of our self. These different aspects of ourselves have different drives, they are all driven to fulfill our different needs and if these needs are in conflict with each other, then this will result in uncomfortable feeling of either chaos or rigidity within us, resulting in ill-health, relationship conflicts and feeling of depression.

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Sciences is now finding out that Practices like prayer, meditation, tai chi, qigong, yoga all help to cultivate our minds in a beneficial way. Even simple exercise is shown to help depression and improve neuroplasticity in the brain.

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So if you are doing any of these practices please don’t let them lapse and if you were thinking about starting, I wholeheartedly support your effort because the benefits are obvious.


The Mindful Brian by Daniel Siegel


My summer experience 2013

When I tell you what I have been up to in the last six months I hope you will forgive me for not posting anything for a while.


In early June I took few weeks off to bond with my brothers. There are four of us and I am in the middle, so I could boss my younger bothers and my older brother still bossed me. However, it was all in jest and building a stronger meaningful connection. We do this “bonding trip” every few years and usually no other family members are invited. This makes it very special and after each trip I feel as though I received a precious gift from my brothers.

This trip was suggested by my younger bother. It began with my brothers flying to Edmonton, two from England and one from Victoria. We drove together from Edmonton to all the to Tofino , BC but  with few stops on the way;  at Mt Robson just outside the jasper park boundary for the night , Kelowna for one week , Victoria for few nights and them Tofino for the rest of the time.  The holiday magic began as soon as we got into my vehicle and started to drive; every moment, every conversation, every meal, every hike, every quite time, and every winery we visited and every break by roadside was special.

We remembered our years of joy, success, failure and pain. With this remembering we build a narrative of ourselves that helps to make sense of where we are now, what gifts were brought along with our success and failure, what was worth the effort, what we still needs to learn and develop. We could do this with feeling of safety because we know we love each other unconditionally. This sharing of ourselves without fear or shame, brought out our emotional vitality in our relationship. This emotional vitality resonated between us during the whole two weeks we were together and allowed us to be free, maintain our autonomy, share our intimacies, extend ourselves into each other and reflect the past. Our connection between us was strengthened; our understanding of each other and ourselves was deepened. The whole experience was profound and left beautiful memories within each of us that will serve us well during our lonely moments and on our deathbeds. We will be able to say YES life was worth the effort.

After the trip I got busy with building a retreat facility where workshops could be conducted.

I believe this idea of a retreat centre was born out of my deep desire to connect to something larger than myself. I had been searching for it a while but not getting anywhere. I wasn’t sure (and I am still not certain) if the retreat centre was the right path but series of events led me to build it.  I like to think there was a invisible force guiding me, with which I would like to connect and this building is a bridge to that invisible, benevolent, larger than myself force. Furthermore this building would act as a bridge for other fellow travelers who are seeking.

While I was building the retreat my friend told me that the first nations refer to this whole area as the “medicine hills”. That intrigued me but it still didn’t make any sense why I was building it at the time. The building process continued almost by itself and it was mysterious in a way because things got done; when I needed  “a push” to get something done it come, when help was needed it come, when inspiration was needed it come too. We had our first retreat on Septembers 14, 2013 and it was only day or so before that we felt enough work was completed on the building to hold the retreat.

The first workshop was on drum making organized by my friends and colleagues Laurence and Karen. The instructor was Zinour and his wife Gayle; twenty-five people participated and the experience was magical. As we made our drums something very special happened. We started to interact and exchange energy that we gathered from the land, building and also with the energy we come with. I never seen such happy harmonious group working independently on their drums and yet connected.


After we finished our drums Zinour and Gayle treated us to a wonderful performance. Zinour used to have international dance company in his younger days and performed all over the world.  They give us a short performance of throat singing and dancing with the drum. There body movements, the drumming, the company and the surrounding all came together for everyone in their own way to experience something very special. For me it was heightened experience as though I was tapping into energy source much larger then myself. This source fed me for days afterwards because I felt happy and energized. I received several emails expressing the same experience.


One of the participants had done some shamanic work. She told me how profound the energy was as soon as she came to the workshop. She said she couldn’t figure it out at first but when she learned she was in the medicine hill it all made sense to her. She later related to me that she had a dream the night before in which elk had come to her. When she learned we were using elk hide to make the drums again she was quite moved.


We ended the workshop with a ceremony thanking the spirits and the elk that provided the hide for the drums. When Gayle finished the blessing ceremony she said she was called upon to leave the eagle feather and the sweet grass for me. I was very moved by this because I took it as though the spirits felt it was worthwhile project.

Our next workshop is on mindfulness on November 2, 2013.  May the good forces be with you always.

Hope to write bit more frequently now so keep checking in!


Drum Making Workshop Photos By Laurie Brooks.

Three Photos at the top by http://flickrhivemind.net

Lessons from Nature



It is common these days to hear that nature is healing, rejuvenating, balancing and grounding. Science has also confirmed these finding. It is wonderful how great writers like Hermann Hesse can express these dry scientific facts into a prose with which we can relate. I was reading a book “An Education in Happiness – The lessons of Hesse and Tagore by Flavia Arzeni. She describes how Hesse loved nature and how it spoke to him. He saw for example, a solitary tree as a warrior who fought his battles alone. He writes…” The world rustles in their branches, their roots sink into the infinite and yet are not lost in it, but pursue with all their strength a single aim – to realize the law that is innate in them; to bring their form to perfection; to represent themselves.”




At times we all lose our way trying to find ourselves, to represent ourselves with our own perfection. We often look outwards for help from others or go on a journey in search of ourselves. Hesse is reminded by the tree that there is no need for this because the answers are within us, the salvation doesn’t come from others but from ourselves; the homeland is not in some place in the world, but within ourselves. When Hesse feels despair and doesn’t know which direction to go, the tree transmits its lesson to him in this way… “Hush, now! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult!”

Tree buddha

Tree buddha (Photo credit: @Doug88888)



Hesse didn’t believe in adapting ourselves to external rules that we do not share; he thought there is no point in looking for short cuts or laboring under the illusion that others can make our journey for us. He said “say yes to one’s self, one’s own isolation, one’s own feeling, and one’s own destiny.”


He loved clouds because they were clouds and because of the thoughts they give rise to. He loved water because it was water and because he saw in it his own destiny. He loved trees and plants because they helped him live and survive. He loved fire because from the ashes mixed with earth, earth is reborn. Air, water, earth, and fire were his teachers.


This summer, take a contemplative walk in nature and listen to the lessons nature may have for you!or just enjoy and say yes to life.





Lose weight and Live Longer With Intermittent Fasting


Its been long recognized that low-calorie diet make mice  and humans live longer. Science is now understanding better why and how this might work. Here is a short video introducing the concept. Thank you Celeste for making me aware of this information.

Fast Diet Interview with Dr Michael Mosley – Radio 2 (Full version)

The Fast Guide to the Fast Diet – for people too lazy to read the book

Controlling Blood Glucose Without Medication or With Reduced Medication.


Diabetes has become a huge problem in modern times.  This is largely due to the difficulty we find ourselves in trying to lead a healthy life style in the society in which we live.

In trying to take control of the blood sugars we need to look at what we eat, how active we are when we are not sleeping, how much stress we are under and how effective are we at handling it, how good is the quality of our sleep, how good are we at avoiding environmental toxins and finally how we can use natural foods to lower the sugar.


We want to eat those foods that are converted to sugar very slowly; these are foods with low hypoglycemic index. Glucose has a GI index of 100, any food with GI index lower than 55 or lower are better.  The other thing to consider is how much sugar the food contains. The foods with high sugars have high glycemic load. Food with glycemic load of 20 have very high sugar load, glycemic load of 10 would be food with low sugar. The best foods for controlling the sugars are those that have low GI index and low glycemic index. They will release the sugar into the blood stream slowly and will not cause insulin to spike or over stimulated. High fiber foods will also prevent spikes in the blood sugar and insulin.

To check which foods have the best GI index and the glycemic load buy a book or look on the numerous internet site, here is one site you can start with to get some idea of these foods: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods.htm

These foods include green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, swiss chard; other vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, celery and baby carrots are also good. Other foods include omega-3 eggs and omega -3 fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and hearing. Lean meat such as free-range chicken and turkey. Fruits with low GI include apples, berries, peaches, pears, plums, oranges, and grapefruit. Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds. Foods high in soluble fiber include oats, bran, beans, and lentils.

I have already written about exercise. Generally one should be on their feet most of the day and about three times a week do vigorous exercise for 30-40 min. Check previous posts for more details.


Stress produces stress hormones in the body and that makes one crave for simple carbohydrates such as cookies, cakes and candy. These hormones also elevate the blood sugar too. Exercise, Meditation and Yoga has helped to control the blood sugars by managing the everyday stresses.


Studies have shown that those with less than five hours of good quality sleep have raise blood sugars and increased insulin resistance. They are at a higher risk for developing diabetes.

Environmental toxins are becoming more common without us even knowing about them. These toxins promote inflammation in the arteries with cause chronic diseases including diabetes. Plastic bottles contain BPA (bisphenol-a), one study showed farm raised Atlantic salmon had significantly higher levels of 13 toxins when compared with wild fish such as salmon or trout. Another study showed metabolites of organophosphate pesticide in children eating conventional diet, but when the diet was replaced with organic diet the metabolites were undetectable. These are just few examples of possible environmental toxins but here are many more resulting from what we put into our food chain.


Finally there are natural foods that are very good at lowering blood sugar. You will have to find creative ways to include them in your diet. These include Cinnamon, garlic, onions, fenugreek and vinegar.


If you have diabetes one needs to make a life long change in one’s life style to control the blood sugar and keep healthy.


In the next post I will put up couple of videos, which someone recently made me aware of them and it’s worth watching.  It’s about how fasting can keep you healthy.


The Science of Natural Healing – by Dr Mimi Guarneri



Some Things We Can Do To Reduce Our Blood Pressure Without Medication.


High blood pressure is often referred to as a silent killer because high blood pressure doesn’t always give you symptoms and so you may not know that you have high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure for long period with cause damage to the blood vessels, resulting in strokes, kidney failure and even myocardial infarction. High blood pressure is very common and probably under diagnosed. However, once diagnosed as having a high blood pressure it is relatively easy to treat and prevent future complications. The trick is to have your blood pressure checked periodically, especially if there is a family history of high blood pressure and if it is high to see your doctor for advise. The public health agency of Canada reports hypertension statistics as follows:-

  • In 2006/07, 450,029 adults were newly diagnosed with hypertension (22.1 per 1,000 population aged 20 years and older, 21.6 per 1,000 women and 22.7 per 1,000 men).

Here are some suggestions based on some evidence that they may be helpful, but the proof of the pudding is when your blood pressure readings become normal  after following these suggestions.


1. Decrease your weight, even by losing as little as 10 lbs will be helpful.

2. Daily aerobic exercise 30-40 min per day, combined with strength training three times a week.

3. Reduce or stop alcohol intake.

4. Reduce salt intake. We only need 500mg per day but our diets can have as high as 5000mg per day if it is mostly from canned or packaged or processed foods. Most restaurant food is also with high salt content.

5. Reduce oils with high ratio of omega -6 to omega -3, which include corn oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil; replace it with extra virgin olive oil or macadamia oil.

6. Increase garlic intake, four cloves every day. Can get the same benefit with 900 mg of aged garlic extract.

7.High quality seaweed 3 gm per day.

8.Lycopene in fresh tomatoes or lycopene supplement may also help.

9. Magnesium 500 mg per day , but people with kidney disease should consult their doctor first. Consuming generous portion of green leafy vegetables will give you the same benefit.

10. Vitamin D supplement helps lower blood pressure as well as many other benefits.

11. Four grams of Omega-3 per day also helps to lower the blood pressure.

12. CoQ10 deficiency can cause high blood pressure. Taking 200-400 mg per day can lower the blood pressure.

13. Stress management will also reduce blood pressure.

If you have high blood pressure try to adopt as many of these measures as possible and see if the blood pressure come down. ALWAYS work with you doctor so there are no conflict with medication, proper target of blood is achieved and the supplements are not doing any other harms.



The Science of Natural Healing – by Dr Mimi Guarneri

Lowering Cholesterol Without Medication


There are ways to lower your cholesterol without medications. However before you embark on this you should consult your doctor because there are situations where the cholesterol needs to be lower than normal levels to prevent strokes and heart attacks. In someone with diabetes or known coronary artery disease, for example, they need to have LDL levels lower than 2 or even lower according to some experts.

There are individuals who are sensitive to cholesterol lowering medication and they are unable to continue taking them and then there are those who are on high doses of medications and wish to reduce the dose to minimize the side effects. Some patients just don’t like taking the medications even though they know by not taking them they are at higher risk for getting heart attack or a stroke or both.

Your doctors will recommend you to reduce foods that cause cholesterol to go up and to exercise regularly. Most people know cholesterol lowering diet, which includes diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetable; low or no white bread, no white rice, no white pasta and no simple carbohydrates such as sugar, cookies, cakes, candy or ice cream; low or no   starchy vegetables such as potatoes and winter squash; avoid alcohol, fruit juices and pop; increase fiber by eating whole wheat foods like steel-cut oats or sprouted grain breads or by adding psyllium husks to the cereals. Minimize meat and full fat dairy consumption; get protein from plant source such as soya, seitan, tempeh, lentils, nuts, quinoa etc.



Exercise is important because it increases the good cholesterol HDL and increases the muscle mass, which in turn increases the metabolic rate and burn calories; exercise also reduces insulin resistant.

Diet and exercise alone may not be enough to lower the cholesterol. Here is a list of some natural food supplements that will help lower the cholesterol further; but they are most effective when used in conjunction with good diet and regular exercise as indicated above.

The list of food of supplements that lowers the cholesterol:

1. Omega -3 fish oil 4 gm per day has been shown to lower triglycerides.

2. Niacin 2000 mg per day can lower the triglycerides and increase the good cholesterol HDL; but it can cause hot flushes and the liver should be monitored.

3. Fiber 35 mg per day can also reduce the cholesterol

4. Artichoke extracts 500 mg tablet three times a day can lower LDL

5. Plant Sterols 2 gm per day can lower the LDL.

6.  EGCG is the active ingredient of green tea and 500 mg twice a day or two cups of green tea per day can lower the LDL.

7. Pantothenic Aciid 300 mg three times a day can lower the cholesterol.

8. Red Yeast Rice 600 mg four times a d ay can lower the cholesterol. But CoQ10 100 mg per day should be taken with it because the Red Yeast Rice lowers its levels.

It is important to work with your doctor to monitor the cholesterol and make sure it is lowered to the targets recommended. If there are any questions post a comment and I will try to provide the answer.



The Science of Natural Healing – by Dr Mimi Guarneri


Choose your community wisely.

Continuing our theme of enriching the soil for life long good health, in this post I will talk about the importance of our community in which we live. I will use the word ‘community’ in a wider sense than the usual meaning; it will also include sense of connectedness and formation of social networks with other individuals in that community. So this includes all of our relationships with each other, including family, friends,work colleagues, acquaintances and strangers; as well as the relationships with the broader world, to the universe and the  community in which we live. I am using this wider sense because we are social beings, and we as individuals can only flourish in a good, wholesome, fertile Eco-system.


Eco system that promotes stress will cause ill-health. Studies show living in communities that are stressful and cause unhappiness contribute to ill-health and in communities where there is happiness and contentment are health promoting.


Our Eco-system starts with our families and on that we may not have a choice. If possible we would want to experience in our family a wide range of emotions without fear of harsh judgement and with over all feeling of  happiness, feeling of being safe and supported;  and also having a sense of  unconditional love. In this kind of environment we produce less toxic hormone in our bodies. We are able to learn from our mistakes and grow. We can explore and can afford to be adventurous. Of course the opposite is true when our family environment is not supportive but is  judgmental and so resulting in us shutting down, unable to share our emotional life. The first situation as you can imagine is ‘life giving’ and the second situation is ‘stifling and life draining.’


Friendship can be mutually beneficial in different ways. The best friendship, according to Aristotle  is that in which both individuals are equally virtuous and never do any harm to each other, to do so would be against their nature; and they have mutual love for each other. Lesser friendships are where there is limited mutual benefit through the association.


The further away we move from our association with family and friends, to work associates, acquaintances and strangers our reasons for association become more limited but these associations still can have significant impact on us depending on whether the relationship is stressful or not.

The sense of the relationship to our neighborhood should be where its safe to be there without coming to harm from individuals, noise and pollution.

We also want to have the sense that we are not poisoning our planet and we want to leave behind a healthy planet for our children and many future generations.


Obviously we don’t have complete control to organize our community around us so that it allows us to flourish. We never the less need to align ourselves so that it causes minimal harm to our person-hood  This requires deep thought on what we value, practical wisdom and great courage to make a change. In the end, the change that results in less stress and more contentment will be healthy one indeed.

Interchange Blog

Interchange Blog

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