This usually festive time of the year is dulled by covid. We just returned from a drive to downtown Austin and were struck by how different the vibe is despite the lights and decorations.
While we cannot make light of what is for so many their worst Christmas season ever, we also feel it is crucial to find some simple way to lift the spirit. We hope what we share in this video is taken in that context.
Recipe Ingredients: Cocoa or Cacao powder, sweetener, milk, and heavy whipping cream. Watch the video for an additional mystery ingredient.
Our prayer this holiday season:
In the name of all that is good, we pray for the health of all the people on our planet. May we achieve worldwide herd immunity to covid, and normal activities resume for us all soon.
In the name of all that is wise, we also pray for our planet's health, that we may be more attuned to her requirements for a sustainable ecosystem.
Last but not least, and in the name of all that is holy, we pray for health, protection, and continuance of all remaining species on our precious earth.
Finally, in the name of all that is joyful, (watch the video…)
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE
And Happy "Holydays" To All
Channukah, Kwanza, et al.
Russill & Asha
It's that time of the year, here in the US, to think about family. We like you to feel that that you are part of our extended spiritual family.
I am passing on a recipe to you originally inspired by Russill's mom that I've developed with my own unique flavor. Here are the ingredients. Watch the video below to create.
If you don't do eggs, you can substitute with an alternative, or enjoy it just as a mint sandwich.
Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving, or if you reside outside the US, a day of gratitude perhaps.
Love -- Asha
Please share your comments below...
Noted author and teacher Wayne Teasdale passed on that further shore on Oct 20, 2004. It was devastating for us. He was our best friend, and he was instrumental in our coming to America.
Part Irish and part Italian, his wit and wisdom came through almost every moment. He never missed a beat when it came to making a joke. "And there's truth in humor," he would add, with a twinkle in his eye.
Image 1: Not long after we arrived in the US (top picture), we lived with Wayne at Hundred Acres Monastery in New Hampshire. We were strict vegetarians at the time, and since Wayne had taken the vow of Sannyasa from Bede Griffiths, he said he would observe the same diet as we did. But Wayne loved chicken. And Jennifer, the monastery cook, made the best. Wayne said it was sufficient for him to smell it.
One day, Russill needed to use the restroom during the meal. The door was slightly ajar, and when pushed, revealed Wayne wolfing down a large leg of chicken. Russill called out to the rest of the community to come to check out the scene. There was gravy dripping all over the floor, and Wayne had sauce on his face.
But we thought you were vegetarian, Wayne, Russill teased him. Yeah, but only part-time", he quipped.
Image 2: We taught alongside Wayne all across the US, Canada, and internationally until he became ill with cancer in 2002. We moved to Austin to care for him but sadly, he died before he could relocate.
During every single one of our retreats, we created skits that we enacted together. Here, Asha is an air hostess for Air India with a crazy Indian accent. Wayne was cabin steward with an equally hilarious Indian accent and a bobbing head. Russill played an orthodox Brahmin who unknowingly ends up with a non-vegetarian meal and gets his mantras mixed up.
Image 3: Bede Griffiths came to live with us in Vermont after our Hundred Acres Monastery stint. Many famous people came to visit, including contemplative outreach founder Fr. Thomas Keating and folk legend Arlo Guthrie. We were all on a strict diet due to Bede's health condition. It was the time Asha was inspired to begin her lifelong passion for nutrition and holistic health. We sneaked out with Wayne sneaked for ice cream and fries.
We love him so much! And we still miss him terribly!
If you are interested in his books, consider reading The Mystic Heart or A Monk In The World. They are both inspiring reads. Click an image below...
"You can either be bitter or better about growing old" and I say this at the expense of sounding corny.
How, then, does one get better at growing old in a culture prone to ageism? That's what this blog is about.
If you type the word "ageism" in google's search engine, it pulls up over three and a half million results. Ageism, like racism, sexism, casteism, and most other ism's, is a crippling and ugly, worldwide reality.
Are you over forty and feel discriminated against due to your age? Do you find it more prevalent in your workplace? Or is it closer to home, with friends, children, or grandchildren? Or is it particularly pronounced when you are in public places, especially in a grocery store?
According to demographic research, until the 19th century, no country in the world had a life expectancy longer than 40 years.
Although our average life expectancy has more than doubled, it might be posited that our lives are emotionally shortened by age discrimination.
A question for you: Are you an ageist?
When you try and answer the question, keep in mind that your immediate mental response might not reveal the whole truth. So I suggest that you take the time to sit with this question.
And we do want the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help us, God, right? Sorry, I think a little levity might come in handy, as we delve into this sensitive topic.
Before objecting that you are not susceptible to being ageist, let me confess that, until two years ago, I was not conscious that I was one. I will expand on this with a delightful story later on in this blog. And just so you know, I am presently 52 years of age.
In our pop-culture society, once people become aware that they are in their elder years, they can begin to feel victimized. Self-pity and resentment start to develop in our minds, and this creates an insidious dis-ease, so to speak, within us. Unconsciously we begin to expect preferential treatments, which can lead to what might be called "entitlement traps."
Most of us, let us say about 80% to 90%, can do something about feeling victimized. For starters, all you may be able to do is to realize that you can do something to change your feelings around feeling like a victim. And believe me, that is an excellent place to start.
The next step is to be willing to examine your thinking and feeling, and this requires honesty on our part. Most of us would balk at the idea because it is convenient and less painful to point away from ourselves.
"The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude."- Oprah Winfrey
Just to be clear, the topic we are discussing is ageism. I do not want the above statement to be equated with the other nasty ism's, such as casteism sexism or racism.
Age, we sometimes hear, is how old we think we are. I would like to build upon this by asking you to examine how you think. FYI, I do this, too.
Examining our thoughts and feelings requires:
a) monitoring our self- talk, and
b) understanding the difference between mindless chatter and clear thinking.
When you start to pay attention to how you think, you become aware of what you think and how that affects you. This will reveal the negativity in your thinking.
Negativity predominantly enters into our lives in two ways:
1. Peoples' remarks, opinions, projections, and fears often come to our consciousness from well-meaning parents, teachers, siblings, friends, peers, etc.
2. Unmonitored negative self-talk and chatter that perpetuates paralyzing self-doubt.
The latter is far more dangerous than the former. Why? Because you and I cannot control what others say or do, including our loved ones. However, you and I can control our own thinking.
Controlling our thinking is not easy. Nevertheless, it is an art that needs to be mastered if we want to be genuinely happy. Controlling our thinking is also necessary to fulfill our soul's calling.
Regardless of how successful, influential, and happy a person may appear to be, all humans are affected by self-doubt, if not daily, at least from time to time.
Self-doubt is a human condition and a human affliction.
The best of the best among us see this condition for what it is, and they do NOT let their self-doubts stop them from living out their true potential. Nor do they make their fears drown out their dreams and aspirations from being achieved.
"Everything you want in life is on the other side of fear." - Jack Canfield
Growing old is part and parcel of life. It is a fact that our body ages! Changes such as wrinkles, age spots, and blemishes happen whether we cover it up with makeup or a facelift.
Wouldn't you like to feel comfortable in your own skin? To do that, owning and loving the aging process is essential for growing into a happy and satisfied soul!
Isn't that what we truly want, to age like fine wine?
In our celebrity culture and social media mania, most of us can quickly sink into feelings of envy, comparison, inadequacy, and become emotionally trapped in such beliefs.
Don't let someone's else reality be yours!
And never let someone else's achievement, including what you have achieved, limit your life.
Life is limitless! For life stems from the Source of all creation, which, although unfathomable, is teeming with abundance and intelligence.
"Our Conscious Intelligence Is As Much Of Life As We Understand." - Ernest Holmes
The things we take for granted today, such as our smartphones, a small device the size of our palm that has transformed our day to day lives, was unthinkable just fifty years ago.
A hundred and fifty years ago, such a device and today's technological advancements would have been assigned to the realm of magic or supernatural and would have been dismissed by most of us as unrealistic.
What is being realistic, anyways?
Being realistic, in our post-modern world, often borderlines on pessimism. Being realistic, however, is neither about being a pessimist nor an optimist. A realist can see things and situations for what they are. He or she knows that the future can swing either way, depending on one's choice, behavior, and action.
When we are told to be "realistic," it often comes from well-meaning people who are afraid or shy away from living their true potential. Even worse, it can come from mean people who do not want you to spread your wings and soar high!
Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt
Just so you know, I am not equating the above reframing of being realistic with not being responsible. This is a whole different subject, and it might require another blog to differentiate the two.
Are you ready now to hear my story about being an ageist?
My young neighbor, I will call her Mia for the sake of privacy, is about 5 years old. The incident that I am about to recall to you happened a couple of years ago.
When Mia first started speaking, a few years ago, Russill and I were amused, but it was hard for us to understand what she was saying. Exceedingly smart, she was also very engaging, making eye contact to share whatever was in her mind and heart. It was just the way the words came out: adorable, but utterly incomprehensible to me.
One day, as I was chatting outside with her mother, Mia tried telling me something that I simply could not understand for the life of me. Interestingly, she realized that I could not understand her. So she went indoors and came back outside sporting a child's sunglasses. She looked at me long and hard through them without a word, and then slowly took them off and hung them on her tee-shirt. It was as if she said to me, "You don't understand me, and that's just fine with me!"
For this was a bit of a zen moment. It dawned on me that I could choose to suspend my prejudices by recognizing that they are like a pair of spectacles that I can hang up when I want to.
Often, when we are older, we don't understand the norms that are trending. We separate ourselves from what we see and hear. This is part of the problem of aging. We forget that we've got our own sunglasses on. It would help to take off our sunglasses, a symbol of our bias, and appreciate what's trending without trying to understand it or press the need to implement it in our own lives.
We may not consider our playful, well-meaning, nevertheless restrictive attitudes and behaviors towards people younger than us, as being ageist. All the same, it is a form of discrimination.
The insight from my story: "ageism cuts both ways!"
I am not implying that the level of age discrimination between the different age groups is the same. But maybe it is time to start changing to look at traditional ways (that no longer serve us) of growing old and connecting with people younger than ourselves.
I am passionate about aging, particularly the biology of aging, which focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular processes underlying these changes and those accompanying the onset of age-related diseases.
Why is this important to you? Because research shows that diseases related to aging will pose immense social and economic problems in the future.
Do keep in mind aging itself is not the issue here. Still, it is a significant risk factor for developing numerous chronic diseases. And the double whammy is that certain diseases may accelerate the aging process, thus reducing functionality and quality of life.
According to the Mayo Clinic, "Age is the single most relevant risk factor for developing neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline."
And the good news?
Despite the naysayers, we live in the most promising of times. Research and development in all sectors of life are astounding. This is true of biological and neurological sciences as well, enabling us to dramatically improve the quality of our aging process.
I work with students from their forties all the way to those in their nineties. When my students start the process with me, they view their more evident issues (weight gain, hormonal imbalance, insomnia, etc.) as independent matters.
My job is to help them understand that this is not the case. These separate issues are part of a larger whole and that there are significant other areas they are not looking at.
Together, we start to look at these missing areas and create a blueprint for wholeness that we work towards. Each step of the way, I offer simple yet effective methods to assist their process and achieve their goals realistically. I also provide the tools to enhance their overall well-being and customized recipes for their particular tastes and needs.
If you are interested in coaching with me, I am glad to provide a 45-minutes free consult.
However, if you are looking for quick fixes or band-aid like options that might deceivingly look like solutions, I am not your person.
On the other hand, if you are open to exploring the potential of a whole new level of wellness, and willing to invest in your own well-being, please click the button below and express your interest in working with me and I will follow up with you.
"A stitch in time saves nine." - An old English saying since 1732
FYI, I am dedicated to my students' well-being and work hard to create a safe and nurturing space for them to transform their concerns into achievable actions.
"The groundwork of all happiness is health”
None of us can deny that we are at a point when the old way of viewing the world and ourselves is rapidly passing.
We may not know what the future holds for each of us. However, a new order and way of being for humanity as a whole are an absolute given, as never have we been compelled to view our world through the lens of life or death on such a massive scale. The number one issue on top of our minds is the health of our family and ourselves.
These are extraordinary times, and there are two ways to look at our current state of affairs:
a) from a fearful and pessimistic place
b) from a hopeful heart
I invite you to explore with me from the latter, that is, from a favorable perspective.
If you are wondering what this blog has got to do with myths about weight loss, read on.
The fact is that obesity has tripled around the world since 1975.
In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of U.S. adults (older than 20 years) are either overweight or obese.
The good news...
Obesity is preventable and reversible! And I dare say that this is possible regardless of your age, gender, and genetic predisposition.
Regrettably, our current worldview, when it comes down to weight loss, is mostly seen through a cosmetic lens.
Popular media, Hollywood, Bollywood, too, further enhance this mode of perception, making it appear that weight loss is an impossible and inconvenient achievement reserved only for a chosen few. And we unsuspecting consumers absorb these sentiments often unconsciously into our psyche with detrimental effects.
The main reason for this erroneous perception is that we are not adequately educated about weight and waist management. And this is regardless of socio-economic demographics or where in the world we reside. We are tragically unaware that waist and weight management is crucial for the following reasons:
1. Preventing and controlling severe health problems such as heart disease, stroke, many cancers, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
2. Longevity! According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, maintaining a healthy body weight along with good lifestyle habits may add more than a decade to your life expectancy.
3. Proper brain health and function. Research in neuroscience warns us that the more belly fat you have, the size and functioning (memory, attention, etc.) of your brain goes down.
"Prevention is better than cure."
Are you ready to start exploring the most common myths about weight loss? Here goes:
MYTH 1: Popular diets promoted on a massive scale by the media are the only or the best way to lose weight.
FACT: Diets to do not work! Why? Like a snowflake, you, I, and each of the seven-plus billion people on our planet are unique. Our individual biological makeup, also known as bio-individuality defies the one size fits all notion. In fact, diets can do more harm than good.
For weight loss to be sustainable, the approach needs to be holistic in a way that the body's innate intelligence respected!
Let me clarify what I mean by respecting our body's intelligence.
For 27 years, I was fanatical about my dietary preference. Before I turned 40, I was diagnosed with two serious diseases, and I refused to change my way of eating. My severe symptoms (brain fog, blackouts, muscle weakness, fatigue, etc.) lasted for seven long years.
Ironically, I believed that I was on a healthy diet while letting my beliefs override my body's intelligence, calling my attention to change via my symptoms.
This is a classic case of being sincere in our beliefs but wrong in our approach. Our ideology creates blind-spots that we are either unable to see, or refuse to see!
I would be lying if I told you that changing my deeply ingrained notions was a piece of cake. But once I started the process, my health improved dramatically. The difference was night and day.
MYTH 2: Weight loss amounts to a simple equation of calories in versus calories out. Meaning that it is all about restricting calories.
FACT: One of the most common ways of losing weight is by restricting the number of calories you consume. But this affects your overall health and can lead to severe and harmful conditions, such as reduced immunity, weaker bones, nutrient deficiencies, and fatigue.
Weight loss is not a destination, but a journey that needs to be sustainable for years to come.
Otherwise, you end up yo-yo dieting. If you are not familiar with this term, in the medical community, it is called weight cycling, which is a pattern of losing weight and gaining it back.
Research at Columbia University says that yo-yo dieting impacts heart health negatively in women who have had a history of weight cycling. To clarify, it has a similar effect on men, too, although women seem to be more subject to yo-yo dieting.
"As I see it, every day you do one of two things: build health or produce disease in yourself."
MYTH 3: Hormonal disorders makes weight management next to impossible.
FACT: Hormonal imbalance makes it difficult to manage your weight but not impossible. I know this because I am living proof, as are many others. If you want to know more about my story, click here.
Hormonal diseases are a significant concern in our world today. Hundreds of millions of people are affected, many of whom are unaware that their hormones are out of order due to being underdiagnosed. This puts people at serious risks, including heart disease. An estimated 60 million in the U.S. alone are underdiagnosed.
Here are some related facts:
MYTH 4: Drinking more water helps to lose weight faster.
FACT: There is next to little scientific evidence that drinking a ton of water aids weight loss. It is considered a self-perpetuating myth, and almost everyone buys into it.
Keep in mind that your body is designed to regulate water balance to perfection. A slight decrease in water content would secrete a hormone (vasopressin), which signals intense thirst. This would dramatically reduce the amount of water that would be excreted from your body in the form of urine.
While drinking water in and of itself is a good thing, paradoxically, drinking too much water is not, as this can lead to dehydration.
MYTH 5: Diet supplements are a safe option.
FACT: According to the Poison Control Center, most weight loss supplements are riddled with "ingredients that are contaminated, ineffective, dangerous, or actually illegal"! Mind-blogging, right?
The safe option is not popping pills, including herbal ones. It is with your knife and fork!
On this journey, your kitchen is meant to become your altar that honors your health on a day-to-day basis.
In conclusion, here are four takeaways:
I would like to end with a quote from a philosopher who inspired and influenced noted figures like Leo Tolstoy, Mahamata Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr.
"What is called genius is the abundance of life and health."
Wishing you vibrant ,
P.S. If you like to receive inspirational and colorful visual messages from me, please be sure to visit and like my FB page.
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Are you having trouble sleeping? Or do you go to bed without any issues but wake up after a few hours? If so, you are not alone.
Before our current pandemic, the magnitude of insomnia was a growing concern not just in the US but the world over. Many studies peg it at 10% to 30% of the world's population affected. Some research points at 50% to 60% of the entire human race suffering from sleep issues and disorders. Isn't that something!
But today, even those of us usually blessed with a good night rest, are affected otherwise, mainly due to our increased stress levels. Enjoyable and straightforward errands such as grocery shopping have become stressful today.
Regrettably, in our mainstream understanding, there appears to be a disconnect between sleep, stress, and a host of metabolic disorders (some examples are obesity, diabetes, hormonal imbalance). And there lies the rub, that sleep, stress, and metabolic disorders are dealt with independent of each other. Instead, they should be addressed in a relationship with one another, which is what I do in my health coaching program.
Then there is the complicated relationship between sleep and depression, anxiety, obesity, and high blood pressure. The list goes on and on. The solution calls for a holistic understanding and approach.
Sleep is an integral component of my coaching strategy. Now, not everyone who comes to me for health coaching necessarily has sleep issues. I can tell you though that sleep is much more involved than just having a certain number of hours, which, by the way, is essential.
If you are not sleeping at least seven hours, that's the first thing you need to look at. Why? Because, neuroscientists caution us that getting less than seven hours of sleep, is the quickest way to hurt our brain. In other words, it affects our brainpower, memory, and cognitive functions like decision making, attention span, coordination, etcetera. Further, neuroscience has established that chronic insomnia triples the risk of death from all causes.
Keep in mind that it is not just the number of hours of sleep, but the quality of your sleep that is of equal importance. So are dreams! Almost all ancient cultures knew the value of sleeping and dreaming as they believed we were given divine guidance and consul during these quiet periods. Remember the oracle of Delphi?
Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the renowned Huffington Post and one of my heroes, knew first-hand the negative impact of sleep deprivation through a scary personal awakening. As a result, she not only started writing about it but established formal nap rooms in her company. To me, this affirms the relationship between sleep and productivity, which in turn confirms the importance of a comprehensive approach.
Invariably, when I get into the subject of sleep with my coaching students, other factors reveal themselves. For instance, the way we deal with circumstances. This would be the way our minds and our emotions process conditions and experiences in ways that create excess stress in the body. Then there is food and drink. Do we tend to eat or drink certain things, as a result of the way we try to feel and release stress? Lack of optimal and restful sleep affects the way our brains process information, including our memory. Our habitual mental-emotional reactions create a negative loop that affects every aspect of our life.
Just last week, while driving with Russill (my husband), we were remarking to one another on noticing the increased number of trucks delivering alcohol to stores. Interestingly enough, the next day's news featured an article on the significant jump in alcohol sales during this time of crisis.
Beware of the wolves in sheep's clothing, namely alcohol, mistakenly seen as a sedative or relaxant, and sleeping pills. Both alcohol and sleeping pills can create unhealthy dependency and wreak havoc not only in our bodies but our minds as well. In the long run, these are not viable solutions.
Most importantly, don't be quick to buy into the myth and accept your sleep issues as the inevitable process of aging. This is far from the truth. How do I know? Because I have helped a diverse selection of people, tackle and reverse their decades-long sleep issues, such as:
I would like to conclude by sharing a simple method in the hope that it helps improve your sleep quality at this time. Keep in mind this is just a band-aid, not a way to deal with chronic sleep issues.
This is a method I regularly practice, especially before going to sleep. Take a moment to acknowledge whatever you can be grateful for as you lie in bed and do this despite your negative thoughts and projections. See if you can make a commitment to at least 21 days of being grateful at night just before you go to sleep. Remember all habits are set over time and be patient with yourself :)
If you have an interest in exploring my proven coaching method, I invite you to click the link below.
Click here for my proven method
This blog's purpose is to solely inform you about the intricate relationship between sleep, stress, and numerous other health conditions that ails our world today. Please note: It is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified medical doctor nor intended to replace medication of any kind.
Wishing you restful and peaceful sleep :)
Recently, Russill and I sat down to discuss addressing our fears amid the stresses of dealing with the current pandemic. Many years ago, I practiced a method to address stress in my body when dealing with a debilitating health condition. Once I overcame this condition (you can read about it here), I stopped using the technique. However, I continued sharing it with students I coach.
All through 2018 and well into 2019, my husband Russill went through a tough time as memories of childhood trauma resurfaced for him. For more than 18 months, this expressed itself in PTSD. Need I say more? I shared this method with him, and it helped him on many an occasion. Of course, his trauma therapists were essential to his process, but I offered my skills as well during this time. This technique was one of them.
Sharing a technique by itself can be dry, which is why the video offers some context and background as well. Additionally, given the need to be brief in the context of a blog post, a simplified version of the technique is shared.
So often, we try and approach stress through our thinking. There is value to that. Introduced to the power of the mind when I was barely in my teens, I know the importance of such an approach. However, when stress is activated in the body, we cannot just think it away. Even if we are not stressed presently, many of our friends and loved ones are. You can support them by learning the practice I share through your own calm presence.
I genuinely hope that what is shared in the video offers you something of value in these stressful times.
I look forward to your comments below ...
Love -- Asha