There once was a boy named Sonny who lived in a great desert. In a nearby field there was growing a rare apple tree. Every year the tree would grow new apples and each year Sonny would bring a ladder to the tree and would pick the apples that were ready. The tree was only watered through rainfall and for some reason it always looked healthy and happy. It produced more and more apples, even though it was in the desert. As the weather started to warm up, Sonny noticed a special looking apple that was starting to grow. It was golden in color and gave out a bright luminous glow! The other apples were still beautiful, but this one was different. Sonny said “I want to eat that one!”. As the apples grew and the seasons changed, Sonny was excited for apple picking season. He waited and waited, day after day, and said with a sigh “Are those apples ready yet?”, and he waited some more. Sure enough, when the whether was cooler and the apples were ready, Sonny brought out the ladder to pick the apples. He picked a few from one section and put them into a bag, and went on to the next section. He picked one after another. Finally he made his way around to the bright golden apple! He picked it from the tree with a smile and said “This is the one I’ve been waiting for, this is the one I would like to eat!”. Right there he took a big bite from the apple. It was delicious! He learned that it was worth waiting for such a tasty treat. Sonny smiled and said “Patience sure is a virtue!”.
There once was a beaver named Tank, who loved to swim and swim and swim. All of the other beavers watched in amazement as Tank would swim. “Tank is so amazing and such a good swimmer” they would say. Tank was one of the best swimmers that there were. The other beavers would ask “How did Tank get so good at swimming?” and the other beavers replied “Because that is all Tank ever does.” And they said “We think Tank should do other things that we do like build a beaver house.” So they asked Tank “Come build a beaver house with us.” And Tank said “I do not know how. All I know is how to swim.” So they said to Tank “Be like us and build a beaver house.” So Tank learned to build a beaver house and it took Tank a while to do so. At first, while Tank was learning, the beaver houses took long to build and were not so great. Once Tank learned how to build a beaver house Tank became a great beaver house builder, and because Tank knew how to swim, it made the beaver houses easier and faster to build. And all of the beavers cheered.
When all the plants were sprouting and starting anew, there was one leaf named Jangojane. Jangojane was a go-getter, a real quick grower strong as ever could be. Jangojane you are so great and as lovely a leaf that could be. Jangojane said “Hee” Jangojane said “Hoowi” Jangojane said “Steebi Oh Haw Kuzi”. Now as the seasons turned and the weather got cool, Jangojane said I think I want to go for an adventure. And Jangojane turned brown and jumped to the branches and meadow beneath her. Jangojane twirled and twirled and went “wiiiiild” with a laugh and a smile, as cool and sweet as ever! And when she reached the ground she found a place for her to lay and she enjoyed a sound slumber. And Jangojane dreamed of becoming sweet humic soil, dark and rich as could be. She dreamt of giving precious humic nutrition to plants to help them grow strong and reach their potential. So she laid and laid, and little by little turned to soil. Jangojane said “wheeee” Jangojane said “Heeooooo” and laid some more. Then more leaves joined her and lay up upon her and slowly turned to dark humic soil too! Year after year, the leaves joined her and the soil became rich and happy and healthy! And then one day in the warm spring, a plant started to sprout where Jangojane lay. The sprout said “My oh my, this is some fine soil here! I think I will grow to be a strong plant because of Jangojane and this sweet humic soil!” And Jangojane smiled and knew she had reached her goal! Jangojane you are so fantastic and lovely as soil could be.
As a meditation, pay close attention next time you fill up a cup to drink from.
Fill up the cup
and imagine that the cup contains the most sacred and divine ideas, teachings, and practices throughout time.
How do you feel knowing that the cup contains our greatest mysteries and the most divine presence?
Fill up the cup.
As you drink, meditate on the possibility of this idea.
Fill up the cup.
Hope is a spiritual concept meaning that one believes that a want or need is actually attainable and is possible to occur. An optimistic acknowledgement of possibility. From hope sprouts realization, manifestation, and actualization.
The phrase “Body, Mind, and Soul” describes an interconnected (interdependent and symbiotic) system between the individual and the multiple realms, and dimensions of life. Each dimension (component) affects the other. There are actions in which the individual could take to increase the health (wellness) of each component, as well as the entirety of the system.
The “Body, Mind, and Soul” model extends accordingly, on an individual level, an organizational level, and / or on a societal level. This model could be used on all forms of structure, whatever they may be. It too can be used on the most abstract form of connected nodes and fluid non-structures.
Applying this model on an individual level is the most impactful, and in turn, affects every other dimension of reality and life.
Serving as a foundation for the entire “Body, Mind, and Soul” system, the body is represented as the physical form of life. The body is what we see, what we can touch, and what we feel with. The body exists in, and represents, the physical realm and plane. The physical plane is the realm of material objects, such as trees, mountains, the sky, water, plants, buildings, and the earth. The physical plane is where manifestations occur (manifestations are the actualizing of abstractions, such as ideas). As an example, the idea of building something is actualized in the physical realm when it is built. (First the idea is created in the mind, next the idea could be expressed or communicated, and finally the creation is built – actualized in reality, the physical domain.)
What one does with the body affects the mind, and the mind, in turn affects the spirit (or soul). The movement that occurs is called energy, and energy is the only thing capable of moving between these realms. The movement is multi-directional and fluid which means that what one does with each of these dimensions affect each of the other dimensions.
The physical realm (body) is, out of the three dimensions, the most easily controlled, measured, and observed. As an example, we can see what we eat, and know when we exercise, and we could quantify our exercise movements. Quantifying such actions is a simple task, such as writing down how many exercises one does, or keeping track of what one eats, or keeping in mind the number of glasses of water one has throughout the day. Quantifying could be used as a tool to better understand actions, though quantification is optional.
There is a natural form of quantifying that is called sensing. One could decide how actions best affect the system through natural means (sensing) such as feeling, observing, tasting, smelling, listening, and seeing. Sensing naturally the effects of actions on a system is something similar to the concept of intuition.
Being kind to the body increases the health of the body and also the brain, and the brain is the physical representation of the mind. Good health of the body and mind will in turn affect the spirit (soul) with good health. This energy ripples beyond ourselves exponentially.
Pathways to treating the body well:
- Eating and drinking healthy.
- Adequate and refreshing sleep.
Eating and Drinking
There are certain principles of nutrition that have been agreed upon as to their benefit to one’s body. These principles include the concept of hydration and keeping a balanced diet.
Hydration is the practice of maintaining adequate levels of fluids in the body. Keeping hydrated will help to lubricate every process within the body, maintaining and increasing the effectiveness of their functions.
A balanced diet is achieved through eating and drinking a variety of sources. Doing this ensures that the body receives adequate and complete nutrition needed to function.
Dietary needs vary for each individual, however there are some foods and drinks that carry with them extraordinary health benefits. It is worthwhile to consider including these foods and drinks in one’s diet.
Fermented foods and drinks:
One might find it beneficial to be mindful of serving sizes, eating with purpose, and consciously enjoying the food being consumed.
When available, homegrown, local, natural, and organicly grown food and drink are preferred.
A continuous seven to ten hours of sleep on a nightly basis is beneficial for the individual. This allows muscle growth as well as recovery and repair of one’s mind and body.
Phases of sleep: There are two main phases of sleep: Non-REM and REM. Non-REM consists of three stages of sleep in which each stage is deeper than the last. REM sleep is “rapid eye movement” and this is when the sleeper is dreaming. Cycling through these stages of sleep naturally is beneficial for one’s health.
Circadian rhythm: The circadian rhythm is a consistent cycle in which your body goes to sleep and wakes naturally. Having a natural circadian sleep cycle is most beneficial for one’s health.
When possible, thirty minutes or more of exercise, every day, will greatly contribute to one’s health.
One purpose of exercise is to improve the functioning of the body. Exercise increases circulation which helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to the proper places throughout the body, among many other health promoting effects.
Warming up and cooling down is a concept in which one begins and ends an exercise session with low intensity exercises. This slowly adjusts the body to an increased or decreased intensity of exercise. Walking, jogging, and stretching are considered warm up and cool down activities.
There are many types of exercise to partake in, and it is up to the individual to decide which exercise best suits their comfort level.
To allow the body proper recovery from exercise, one to two days of resting the muscle group(s) that were used is recommended.
The body’s processes are highly intelligent, and learning to trust your body is part of it’s wellbeing.
Besides exercise, there are many activities that increase one’s health and well-being, which include therapeutic activities. These activities are nature-oriented, and among them are:
- Mineral bath
- Soaking in water
- Deep breathing
- Being in nature
Feed the mind as you would the body: with stimuli and substance that is beneficial to it’s health.
The capacity of the mind is vast and ever expanding.
The mind is naturally adaptive, flexible, self-calibrating, self-balancing and centering, impressionable, sensitive and intelligent, and with the concept of plasticity, one learns that the mind recovers, heals, and rebounds with natural elasticity.
Learning is a beneficial activity for one’s mind. Through learning one seeks the attainment of knowledge. Activities such as reading, mentorship, self-study, practice, and completing classes through educational establishments help to expand one’s horizons and opportunities.
“Will power” is the art of controlling where one expends their energies. “Will power” is a renewable resource. There is a limited amount of “will power” that is accessible until one has to replenish it’s supply. “Will power” is strengthened through intentional practice and exercise. To replenish one’s will power one must sleep or eat.
“Attention allocation” is the practice of choosing where one directs their attention. By allocating one’s attention, one creates experiences.
Experience defines reality. Through experience one gains knowledge. The knowledge gained from experience becomes an individual’s truth.
Imagination and visualization are both the practice of forming a visual representation of reality or non-reality in one’s mind. Imagination and visualization are considered processes in the act of creating.
There are many ways to use the mind and the most beneficial use will increase the health and well-being of one’s Body, Mind, and Soul. Through sensing one learns what the most beneficial activities of the mind are.
The Soul and Spiritual Health
Attaining spiritual health is accomplished through the practice of tuning your being to the spiritual realm. There are many paths one could take on their spiritual journey, and there is truth to be found on every path.
The teachings of Christ, among many other holy people, embrace the principles of loving one another and the golden rule. Every individual deserves dignity, respect, and human rights.
Consciousness is when an individual is completely aware of the spiritual world and it’s vastness. Being spiritually conscious opens up new worlds within and without one’s self. Every being is capable of achieving spiritual consciousness. There are multiple levels of spiritual consciousness, and the more active an individual is in exploring this consciousness, the more conscious they become.
In being compassionate, one sees the alikeness and similarities that all individuals on this earth share.
Every human emits spiritual energies from their being. These auras of energy have been conceptualized as energy centers within the body. Through prayer, meditation, and visualization, one cultivates these spiritual energies and learns how to interact with them.
The act of creating, in the infinite varieties of creation there are, is one’s wellspring of eternal life. This is because one gives of their self to their creation, which carries with it the creator through the life of the creation, and beyond, in a continually renewing cycle.
This explains why God is within, and throughout every living being. This has always been and always will be since the beginning of time.
A very simple and profound idea / story was revealed to me recently. It is this: God started creating because he needed something to love and something that would love him also.
I think every being could relate to this idea, I feel that this sense of love, and God, is in every being; an integrated, integral part of every being’s inner-being.
It is surely a natural urge and desire of being human: the need to love and be loved.
The act of creating might be a seeking to be loved, to give something of ourself in hopes of having love returned back to us.
Might this be true for every creation?
I have dreams. Dreams I would like to accomplish while I’m awake and alive. These dreams are just that… dreams. If I accomplish them, I would be happy that I did. I would like to start and raise a family of my own creation. I would have more offspring than most! All this would be with one child-bearer; a monogamous relationship for the both of us. If I had a relationship with that significant person, I would create a plan out of this dream. I’d work to provide for myself and my family. I’d do my best with the work that I’d been given. I’d try to be responsible and an excellent example. I’d make sure to take my family to some kind of spiritual activity and a community oriented activity that would guide us to being decent people. If I could afford it, I’d send my offspring to the best schools, where they could get a top quality education. This is a simple dream, a sincere one.
This November 14th marks a year since I’ve decided to, and have promised myself to adopt certain dietary considerations. Here is my original promise:
For a period of 1 (one) year, from November 14, 2016 through November 14, 2017, I promise to adopt the following practices:
- 🍲 Eat only lacto-ovo-vegetarian. Including:
- 🌿 Plant-based.
- 💧 Drink only water and lacto-ovo-vegetarian based drinks.
- Refrain from:
- Sweets and sugars.
I consider completion of the year to be a successful fulfillment of the promise to myself. While each individual’s diet is and should always be an individual’s choice, I have to admit that some dietary choices are more beneficial for an individual’s wellness than others – and eating this way was a definite benefit and learning experience for myself. I also acknowledge that health-wise, we affect one another. When one individual is making healthy choices, their wellness might influence others to make healthy choices as well. My purpose in writing this is to encourage others to be aware of how their dietary choices have an impact on themselves and others.
During this year of vegetarianism, I realized the benefits of healthy eating so much that I decided to go further and adopt a completely plant-based diet. At first I wasn’t sure that I could get a complete, balanced diet, and necessary nutrition through solely plants. Upon converting to veganism, I felt pretty good about doing so. There are more than enough vegan options now-a-days to maintain one’s daily nutrition through both eating out and home cooking (while I would always suggest the latter). I found that I was able to get the nutrients I needed to fuel whatever activities I undertook throughout the day regardless of the intensity. I also had a chance to contemplate the benefits of such a diet and found that I became aware of benefits besides the nutritional and physical aspects.
While such a diet is good for the physical being, I learned that there is a spiritual benefit to these dietary choices. Throughout this year, I contemplated the ethical and moral aspects of a plant-based and vegetarian diet and learned that I was more sensitive and compassionate than I would have ever imagined. While I, through previous experience, understand the appeal of other diets, eating plant-based is a certain freedom from any question of conscience. While I acknowledge this, it is important for me to acknowledge that I haven’t yet formed a definite opinion on the ethics or morality of diets other than plant-based. I feel that diets are, or should be formed according to the goals and needs of the individual. One person functions better on one diet and another functions better on another diet. The key, I believe, is learning which type of diet works best for your particular dietary constitution.
I’ve also learned that becoming aware of your individual dietary preferences is a very universally human activity. Since crops were first domesticated, people have done extraordinary things with their produce (such as the many things we humans have created through fermentation, and also the newer ‘gastronomy’ science of flavor. Or how was yeast, or vinegar, or kombucha, or yogurt domesticated?). The interaction of meals with the individual have been studied since ancient times. I think about the (spiritual-science) of Ayurveda in which the individual is classified according to a particular type where certain meal considerations are of benefit or not. There are cultures and organizations and groups that revolve around certain foods and dietary consideration. There also are important dietary considerations within every religion, and I might go so far to say that these dietary considerations might have had a major influence in the formation of such ideological structures. I compare this to our modern day eating choices between conventional, natural, and organic preferences. Some folks prefer one type of produce over the other – but even now after studying such things, I continue to ask ‘What exactly does that mean?’. I believe than the study of agriculture and farming (and plants and how they relate to the human) is much further advanced than most people are aware of, and in that domain of knowledge might lay the core principles and theory of our modern day food movements – and of course there is much more to it than simply that. How does the individual learn which diet is most beneficial for them? I suppose that experience is always the best teacher, though sometimes we could save ourself some effort through learning from another’s experience.
Another topic I gave contemplation to throughout this year was the effect beyond ourselves of our meal choices. I feel that I came to awareness of three distinct impact ‘zones’ of my simple food choices. The first ‘zone’ is the immediate environment. Here is where the individual feels the effect of having either a commercially produced meal or a home-cooked and home-grown meal on the table. How is the individual affected differently between these two choices? What in the immediate environment is different between these two meals? How are the senses affected? The next zone would be the community. How is the neighborhood affected through one individual having one type of meal or the other? Also, what should that matter? That individual should be free to eat whatever the preference is, isn’t that so? That is probably true, though it is worth the thought, in my opinion. And, finally the ‘outer’ zone would be further areas and effects of those choices such as: Which farmer did you support? What type of individual is that person? And the person or group who brought the food to the supermarket, what type of values do those individual’s have? What products do they support? Where do those products come from? Such thinking and consideration could continue indefinitely and knowing every single detail involved seems to be impossible, or moreso impractical. So also, throughout this year I learned to balance such sensitivity with practicality. Henceforth, sometimes it’s more practical to simply savor the meal you have and to simply be thankful that you have it.
I also became aware of ‘non-food’ eating, and this is a subject that I will continue to contemplate on. The concept of metaphorical and figurative eating. An example of this is someone who reads a book, or surfs the internet reading different things and looks at pictures, or going to the movie theatre to watch a movie. Only this year did I become aware that some perspectives consider such activities as ‘eating’ and ‘consuming’. I have not formed an opinion on such a perspective. This brought many questions about such as “Well if that is so, then what is education? Is education and learning just a form of consuming?”. And then arises the question: “what are you eating and is it beneficial for you and your system?”. How would the individual know what is?
I couldn’t tell you for sure, and I wouldn’t care to prove such a thing, but during this time period, once in a while I felt as I was looked at from above – some force with it’s own interest and then some force with my interest, and it was as if these two sides were in conflict with each other. And once in a while these two sides seemed to say “put this food in front of him and let him decide if he would like to eat it.” And from these perspectives I learned quite a lot. I learned to view myself from such a perspective. I learned what would be a wrong and right perspective from this viewpoint, while viewing such a simple individual such as myself from above. This is what I have to say: The wrong perspective would be a conflict over what an individual eats. The wrong perspective says “if he eats this, then he is on our team – if he eats that, he is on their team”. The right perspective from that angle is this: “what is most beneficial for him and his system to eat (and a philosophical question would be “says him or says us?” and “does he actually know what the effect of eating this or that is?”). And “What is his individual preference?” (Acknowledging individual preference.). Who knows if such forces actually exists, though this exercise in thought brought me a new level of consciousness, where I learned to view myself from above, and where I learned to take such a simple thing as diet, into a whole new perspective – taking into account others besides myself with an expanded perception.
The modern food system seems to be a lively eco-system. Looking at this system as if from above, I developed a new perspective, and from this perspective I learned quite a lot. I learned to view myself from such a perspective. I learned what would be a wrong and right perspective from this viewpoint, while viewing such a simple individual such as myself from above. This is what I have to say: The wrong perspective would be a conflict over what an individual eats. The wrong perspective says “if he eats this, then he is on our team – if he eats that, he is on their team”. The right perspective from that angle is this: “what is most beneficial for him and his system to eat (and a philosophical question would be “says him or says us?” and “does he actually know what the effect of eating this or that is?”). And “What is his individual preference?” (Acknowledging individual preference.). Who knows if such forces actually exists, though this exercise in thought brought me a new level of consciousness, where I learned to view myself from above, and where I learned to take such a simple thing as diet, into a whole new perspective – taking into account others besides myself with an expanded perception.
I encourage anyone and everyone to give vegetarian and plant-based diets a chance. Give up sweets, caffeine, and alcohol if possible. Doing so for an certain period of time, three months or more, simply to see if eating in such a way could be of benefit. It sure gave me some new insights and taught me more than I could have ever expected.
I am very appreciative to whomever has read this and I thank you for taking the time to read it. Though it is a task of great magnitude, I encourage every person to adopt the mind state of always being aware of their choices and decisions, dietary and otherwise – and all the while balancing out such awareness with the simple and practical delight in their choices. It is my intention that some of my experiences and thoughts could be of value to you!
Happy eating and stay healthy!
St. Francis is a excellent model for the concepts of ‘encounters as bridges’, compassion, openness, love, and hope. When a human such as Francis gives forth loving energy towards a bird, the bird becomes comfortable enough to stay in his hand. This act could be a metaphor for ‘God loves all creatures’, and St. Francis is the living manifestation of such an ideal. This openness to, appropriately, love all creatures reflects the important idea of ‘giving dignity to all’, whether bird or human. Such dignity serves as a bridge that surely brings hope.