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.

10343033733_f6b2e1de06_m 10348945873_64929fac46_m 10346444146_aece7d7bbe_m 10346786525_eae4f918cb_m 10344181143_372b810698_m 10347870364_39b1bee744_m 10342239936_5b4a74fb37_m 10348252144_72e6e275da_m 10347490535_654e48b12b_m

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.

10349915386_a9764eef9c_m 10345903114_a5b10164ac_m

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.

10352183876_e2ccf05fab_m 10352621424_d76156043e_m 10348281094_c47de04d09_m

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.

10345400865_d327c501b0_m 10351724454_a418cc10d7_m 10349880493_de71bc4620_m

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

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:

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


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.

Paradise Within a Paradise.

I drove to the far east of the Island and found this deserted white sandy beach; it seemed like a gift just for me since my body was craving to do walking meditation in the hot sun.I felt blissful after I had finished. Here is the beach, the walking meditation you have to do yourself!




Walk Through Healing Garden In The Bahamas.


I was going to write about choosing wisely the community one is going to live, but life has other plans for me for the moment. I went from feeling hot whilst cross country skiing in Pigeon Lake, to Washington DC for a brief three day conference where the weather had been colder than usual according to reliable source – the local taxi driver; and so the cherry blossoms were not blooming, delayed by two weeks. Sad – at least for me because I will not be in Washington in two weeks. I am now in Bahamas trying to get warm again. I packed a sweater just in case the air conditioning is on full blast in the shops and at the restaurants. I do try to avoid them but one needs fuel up once in a while!

I have always been curious about the Bahamas ever since my neighbour, from long past, invited us to their estate because they liked the design of the house we had built in the vicinity. They obviously left a little impression on me because they could swing on a rope like a Tarzan from their bedrooms right into an indoor swimming pool in the middle of their house and they owned a private Island in the Bahamas. I am finally here and I am going to share with you taste of my walk in a Healing Garden in The Bahamas. Enjoy and be well.


IMG_2852 IMG_2850 IMG_2851

IMG_2853 IMG_2846IMG_2854




IMG_2838IMG_2844 IMG_2841 IMG_2840





IMG_2860 IMG_2857














Exercise for Healthy Enriched Life

8522221692_920b10c251_m8520169087_7481e414aa_m8520790009_bc32e276fb_m I talked about how plants need good soil and the right conditions to flourish, look good and bear fruit. We humans also need good soil and the right conditions to live well and flourish. We looked at enriching our soil by eating the right foods but that is not enough by itself. We can improve the soil even further with exercise. In societies where people are healthy and livelong lives exercise was an integral part of what they did everyday, it was a side benefit of what they did to meet their basic need. They didn’t have a particular exercise program and nor did they need special equipment; they just moved their bodies for most of the day. 8521078390_8d1935dee8_m8520994917_406851172a_m Studies have consistently shown moving our bodies and exercising is associated with not only good health but longevity. In our society we tend to think of exercise as work, it is much better and more likely to be done regularly if it is a by-product of something you enjoy doing or as part of work routine. It could be gardening, biking, swimming, hiking, skating, cross-country skiing or anything else you might enjoy as long as it gets you moving most of the day. I myself try to keep moving by taking the stairs in the hospital instead of the elevator, park my car further away as possible from the store and my job also requires me to keep moving by having to go to see patients from one room to another in my office and in the hospital. Part of my activity to be on my feet is intentional and part of it is built into my job. I augment my bodies movements by cross-country skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer because I enjoy these activities. 8521471342_1368219b13_m8523614874_b70333cb71_m The main physical benefits of exercise include increases in strength in muscles, bone, ligaments, and tendons; endurance; flexibility; and balance. Side benefits include weight control, improvements in the serum lipid profile (exercise raises HDL cholesterol), and reduction in blood pressure. Exercise can also reverse and possibly prevent type-2 diabetes. Exercise stimulates brain cells and tends to make people more relaxed. It creates opportunities for social connections and for connection with nature. In addition, exercise increases the muscle-to-fat ratio…[and weight-bearing exercises strengthen your bones].  Exercise is absolutely the single most consistent factor in staving off cognitive decline that occurs with aging. …Professor Anthony A. Goodman, Montana State University If you haven’t been exercising where should you begin? If you haven’t been active at all and you should start slow. You may even want to talk to your doctor before starting . Good indicators of fitness level can be your resting pulse rate, average is about 70. The other indicator is the recovery time. You exercise to 80 percent of maximum heart rate for your age and then see how long it takes to return to under 100. With low-level of fitness the longer it will take to recover. You can monitor your fitness improvement with this measurement over time. The maximum heart rate can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220. You can get more details on the recovery time on these sites :-

Set realistic goals. Consider your work schedule and other commitments you have. The aim is to move as much as possible everyday and then, at least three days a week, include some strenuous activity that gets your heart rate up and gets you sweating. During aerobic exercise, aim for about 80 percent of the maximum heart rate for you age group. In general, avoid training hard more than three times a week or every other day. Exercise and may you live long and with vitality.


Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at Any Age Course Guidebook Professor Anthony A. Goodman Montana State University

Related articles

%d bloggers like this: