Friday, August 27, 2010

Hey, this stuff works!

I recently did a few Feng Shui cures on my apartment in downtown Manhattan.  It's a very small apartment, an old tenement building turned into 1 bdrm (or so they call them) apartments.  It's in a wonderful location (Chelsea, one block from the West Village, one block from the Meatpacking District, two blocks from the Hudson River and Park), but it's noisy (Eighth Avenue) and not enough light (only the second floor).  I am very grateful to have had this apartment during my years in grad school as it is only 10 short blocks to school.  But I am about to open my new private practice in Classical Chinese Medicine and I am preparing my home and my office so that the Qi will flow amply yet smoothly through my life and work, and that is what Feng Shui cures do, they smooth the flow of Qi so it doesn't get hung up anywhere and doesn't flow too aggressively.

You don't have to believe in any Oriental philosophy for Feng Shui to work.  It is a science that understands the subtle energies in the universe, which was studied through an empirical process for several thousand years by Chinese physician-scientists.  They learned what worked.  We in the West are only now beginning to recognize the presence of these subtle energies and how they affect every aspect of life on Earth.

My point today is that only two days in, I am falling asleep and staying asleep.  I've had VICIOUS insomnia for many, many years now, where I can't fall asleep before 3 or 4 in the morning, or if I do manage to fall asleep earlier, I wake up 4 or 5 times, feeling extremely uncomfortable both physically and mentally, waking up so tired that all I can do is cry out of sheer exhaustion.  So seeing these simple, inexpensive Feng Shui cures already begin to have such a clear positive effect is delightful.  I am feeling so much more cheerful, and am looking forward to opening my new practice next week.  If Feng Shui does this much for my crappy little apartment, imagine what it will do for my beautiful new little jewel box of an office!  "Hooray Feng Shui!" (chant repeatedly)

May I suggest you look into Feng Shui to help the energy flow into and through your life and work as well?  These energies of the Earth and the Heavens are a free gift from God, why not accept this gift?  It was put there for your benefit.

In light and love, Karen-Lynette

PS.  Believe it or not, I did these cures based on "Feng Shui for Dummies," yes, one of THAT series of yellow and black beginners guides.  The author is funny and makes it very simple to understand.  If you don't want to read it all, just do the general cures for the most important rooms:  bedroom, kitchen (stove in particular), home office desk, and front door.  The cures can be bought for a couple of dollars each in any Chinatown.  Have fun!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Second verse, same as the first

I wrote a blog entry earlier today but decided not to post it.  It ended up being a political rant--quelle surprise!--and for health reasons, I'm not going there.  I am by choice a Taoist, and therefore I have no reason to complain about anything.  Everything is as it should be.  It just is what it is, and how can you complain about reality?  Reality just exists.  I am going to spend my energy and my time focusing and acting on things that come from my heart, not things that come from my head.  The reasoning here is that most of what comes from my head is tinged (or soaked through) with ego.  And only what comes from my heart, my truest self--that is, my soul--can possibly make me happy in any real way.

And that is the discipline I am choosing for my blog.  This blog is going to be a medicine that transforms me over time, each day requiring myself to focus only on what is coming from my heart and not my head, only what flows easily and naturally from my heart, not what I am striving to prove or to achieve.  Those are born from the ego, and do not lead to peace and contentment.

Lao-Tze is my model, the Tao Te Ching by bible.

I was raised a conservative fundamentalist Christian, a Seventh-Day Adventist.  I have a problem with the Christian churches in general, with pretty much all organized religion.  The institutions by their very nature go against what Christ's life as he lived it.  About the only true Christian I have ever read about was J.R.R. Tolkien, who gave away the money he made as a Cambridge don, to the point of living in penury.  Now THAT's a Christian, in my book.  If you're going to claim to follow Christ, then you'd better live the way he himself lived.  Popes with their silk robes in royal colors, ruling over millions of people.  That's so obviously NOT Christ-like.  Most Christians today would HATE Christ.  He didn't have a job, and when he worked a few days here and there he was a carpenter or a fisherman, a man who worked with his hands.  Although he was brilliant enough to be a rabbi, he eschewed everything that was for show.  He was homeless, in point of fact, relying on the charity of others for food and shelter.  What would modern Christians think of a teacher like that?  I think they would either laugh him off as a fool or have him swept with disgust off the streets as a vagrant.

Christ himself was an amazing being.  According to The First Coming, a book I read by a professor in the highly regarded Religious Studies Department at Princeton, a young Jewish rebbi showed up in central Asia, in the Himalayas, northern India, Tibet, Nepal.  And he studied with all the great mystics at that time.  He was enough of a spiritual genius that his travels and studies were noted in records of the time.  Well, that's my Jesus, the one who studied for 10 years with all the greatest Eastern religious thinkers.  Their philosophies fit in perfectly with the way he understood God and man, without the anger, fear and hatred found in the Old Testament and Pentateuch.  This Jesus understood The Way to be mystical, about an inner journey in which one finds Heaven on Earth, by fully embracing this moment as perfect in itself, not waiting or hoping or wishing for a more perfect future somewhere else.

That's my Jesus.  He's one of my circle of spiritual teachers, and well loved and respected by the rest of the circle.  Besides Lao-Tze, there is Li Dong Yuan.  I know him as the founder of the Earth School in the history of Chinese medicine, but it turns out he was also an amazing writer.  I came across some of his writing in an anthology of Chinese thought and literature, and I was shocked to find what an accomplished writer he was.  It was almost poetry.  Who else, who else?  Kiekegaard was a big part of my early training.  Stories from Native American storytellers and healers.  Chuang-Tze, definitely.  Some early American writers like Henry David Thoreau, maybe Hawthorne, certainly Emily Dickinson.

Time for bed.  More on this.  Dobre nocs.

Monday, August 23, 2010

This is like a mini-meditation just reading it! Enjoy . . .

If you find that meditation does not come easily in your city room, be inventive and go out into nature. Nature is always an unfailing fountain of inspiration. To calm your mind, go for a walk at dawn in the park, or watch the dew on a rose in a garden. Lie on the ground and gaze up into the sky, and let your mind expand into its spaciousness. Let the sky outside awaken a sky inside your mind. Stand by a stream and mingle your mind with its rushing; become one with its ceaseless sound. Sit by a waterfall and let its healing laughter purify your spirit. Walk on a beach and take the sea wind full and sweet against your face. Celebrate and use the beauty of moonlight to poise your mind. Sit by a lake or in a garden and, breathing quietly, let your mind fall silent as the moon comes up majestically and slowly in the cloudless night.
--  Sogyal Rinpoche

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cool your jets, baby girl

I am, by nature, just WAY too concerned with justice.  I believe that is a form of mental illness.  The world is exactly as it is at every single moment, and banging your head against Reality is simply not healthy.

I was raised in a conservative household, one that was entirely centered around the religious beliefs of my parents, Seventh-Day Adventists.  Even within their community, they were considered conservative.  They were fundamentalist's fundamentlists.  They taught me that because I was born with many talents and abilities, into a comfortable home and a family that loved me, I was responsible to take of those less gifted, less fortunate.  But one has to be careful not to try to change the world too hard, with too much effort.  And one has to be careful lest that desire for equality and justice prevent the experience of peace.  We were intended to live in blissful peace, "as above, so below."  "God is love."  "The peace that passeth understanding."

So how am I supposed to accept the harshness of the world?  The natural way is for animals to eat each other.  Why should I be surprised when people act the same way, using and ultimately crushing others so that they may have even more money than they already have.  Humans don't even have the excuse that they are doing it for survival.  They need very little to survive and even to live very well.  But the world is what it is.  There is no arguing with reality.  And that is the heart of the matter.

It doesn't mean I shouldn't try to make conditions better for all those who are oppressed or downtrodden.  But I must work with great discipline to remain happy and light while I do so, accepting everything as it is in every moment.  Lao Tzu, my favorite "old child," would say that there is no need to change anything.  Everything is as it should be.  It is all perfectly itself, not perfectly what I wish it to be, but perfectly itself.  And that is the way of the Tao.  If I am truly an eternal spirit, what does it matter what the physical conditions are on this Earth?  It doesn't ultimately matter.  It seems to matter, but it doesn't in any ultimate sense because we are eternal beings who can dwell in infinite peace whenever we really want to.  We will become nothing and then we will arise again and be something, which will divide into itself and Other, and then those two will combine to give birth to the Third of the Trinity, and then those forms will give birth to "the ten thousands things," all that exists.

The universe breathes, life begins.  The universe exhales, life ends.  The Big Bang was just a very large breath in and then out, one cycle of the universe's breath.  The universe is so large that we have only seen one cycle of it's breath, it moves so very slowly from our perspective.

Then why do I care whether people act justly on Earth?  All I have control over is my actions, what I say, how I treat people.  If I am bothered when some people seem not to respect others, then I can take that energy and examine myself:  Where do I not show respect to others?  If I am upset because the rich abuse the poor to get even richer, then I must look to my own life and see where I make choices to buy products from companies that enslave people to make a profit because it makes life easier for myself.  It's simple:  I don't need to buy those products.

I want to take Byron Katie's course so that I can help teach my patients how to "Love what is" so that their life will be peaceful and joyful instead of worried sick.


Old folks rock

Several of us who sing in a band together went to another band's gig because their lead singer is one of the singer's in our band.  Wow, that was convoluted.  Well, it was a really rocking band, tight rhythm section, two keyboards, two guitarists (one rather awesome lead), bass player and the lead singer.  Four other people in the band sing backup, so the vocals were interesting.  The audience was hooting and clapping raucously after every number, each song being well-written and well-executed.  I was impressed.  The band's name is The Shirts, who were a sort of "house band" at CBGB back in the day.  They're still together after several decades, and have put out two albums in the last couple of years, and all the new material is at least as good as their old stuff, and most of it is even better.  That's saying a lot.

What was interesting about that experience is that all the band members are around my age, which is solidly middle-age.  Half the band has grey hair.  They were all dressed very cool and had their own distinctive look, and they played and sang like they were 20 years old again.  The audience, I noticed, was also our age, and it was a nice feeling not to feel old.  I realized how interesting is is to be of my generation, rock was in its heyday when we were young, and I'm very proud to be a part of that generation.  Life was different then, and I feel sorry for young people today who grew up with AIDS and economic hardship that didn't exist back then.  We followed the sixties, when love was the thing rather than making big corporate bucks.  It was a different world, and I, for one, really love that I got to be a part of that.

I celebrate the values that we stood for, peace and love and brotherhood.  What do young people stand for today?  I can't tell.  They all seem so concerned with how they look, what brands they wear, listening to overly produced music that isn't the least bit original or interesting.  They most certainly are not political, as a group.  (Which isn't to say there aren't dedicated, very hard-working young people in the trenches of grassroots politics trying to change the world; there are.  And I bow to those young people with even more gratitude because it is not the zeitgeist of their generation, while my political activism was right in line with the prevailing social trends of my day.)  But why doesn't their generation care about corporatism and materialism and war?

Where are the student protests against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?  We were ALL over Vietnam in our day.  I was jailed at Stanford for protesting apartheid.  Why don't kids these days fight the power?  It is primarily young people who have the freedom, the time and energy to stand up in a vociferous way.  Where are y'all?  I guess Madison Avenue succeeded in seducing the last several generations.  But why aren't they interested in questioning authority anymore?  It isn't because they have everything.  My generation lived through the biggest economic boom in the world, a time period when the middle class and upper middle classes lived well for several decades.  Yet we felt the need to question those in power.  Why aren't they questioning now, when there is so much going so wrong?

Young folks, we need you to act like young folks, to be angry with the way things are, to protest war, to protest commercialism and materialism, to call for peace, love and brotherhood.  (I caught myself typing "brotherwood" - a great Freudian slip!)  I'm afraid it's almost entirely up to you, Gen Z.  Let your freak flag fly.

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Blog

I am done with school, done with national board exams, I have my license hung on the wall of my newly constructed (and sanded, painted, trimmed and furnished) office.  That means I have more time to do something other than study like a maniac.  My blog has been a big disappointment because I never truly blogged, I mostly just re-posting articles that provided important information on a topic of great interest.

However, that was the Era of Karen-the-Grad-Student.   I am back in the world of grown-ups, where people actually make money for all the hours of work they do, which students most assuredly do not.  In fact, students are paying someone else for the privilege of doing long hours of hard work.  (I should have been a student in Germany or France, where education is free, free, free!)  Now, I am truly going to blog.  I am, as of today, a blogger.

People have written journals since, well, since the invention of writing I imagine.  That must be tens of thousands of years ago.  A journal is a daily record of one person's unique take on life.  Famous journalists that I've enjoyed include Descartes, Mark Twain, de Tocqueville, Julie Powell. . . actually, I never read the book, I just saw the movie because I love Meryl Streep's work as an actress, and she did NOT disappoint.  I used to watch Julia Child's television show when I was a child (ha ha), and Meryl was a note-perfect reproduction.

As a young person, I kept a journal as a way to express my feelings as I tried (very hard) to figure out life.  I was raised in a very strict, fundamentalist Christian family, but an inherently artistic nature combined with incredible drive and a defining pragmatism led me first to reject that heritage (although not Christ himself, he was one very cool and spiritually accomplished dude).  But it was another decade and many semesters of philosophy and religion courses at Stanford before I began to find my own set of beliefs that I could test in the fires of daily human life.  Journaling was an important outlet.

True "journal"-ing would be an interesting challenge:  Can I come up with one truly original thought every day?  That shouldn't be too hard, not with my constantly simmering brain.  Ask my friends:  I bubble like a fountain, probably ad nauseam.  Ah, well, it is what it is.  I enjoy it.  There's no such thing as bored in my world.

My interests?  There will be socio-political analysis and commentary, of course.  And humorous observations (no, I don't write humor, that's the jurisdiction of my paramour, Thomas James Schecker, Jr.; I just notice what's hilarious in the human condition:  much easier and just as much fun).  And of course, observations on my spiritual progress through life, especially now that I am working as a practitioner of Daoist Acupuncture.  It's a very philosophical form of medicine, very poetic and very beautiful in addition to being very effective.  One has to self-cultivate with rigor in order to be a great medical practitioner in this style of medicine.  It requires the highest level of self-knowledge and the highest degree of compassion for each individual human being and their particular weaknesses.

Politics, humor and soul:  yes, I guess that's a pretty good summation of my interests.  If I hadn't had fibromyalgia for the past 17 years, I'd probably also write about the outdoors and my adventures in it.  But since that part of my life was pretty much ripped away by some virus yet to be identified (perhaps fibro is due to one of those new nano-bacteria they have discovered?), my outdoors adventures are pretty . . . uninteresting.  I will daub in the occasional critique of a film or TV show or opera or symphony performance.  Ah, yes, my previous life in music and theater.  Yum!  I've had a damn good life.  I truly have.

So, there you have it.  My new blog begins as of today.
"There's a party goin' on right here, A celebration to last throughout the years.  So bring your good times, and your laughter too.  We gonna celebrate your party with you.  Come on!"
Celebration.  Bis morgen, baby.