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I thought I would start this week’s blog post about something that all went down – a few weeks back – at my place of business: The story starts in the bathroom – I swear this is not where you might think it’s going – where my friend and I were leaving. This particular bathroom has two doors when you exit: the first door leads out to a garbage can, on the side of the little walkway area. As my friend and I were laughing about something, I ended up sneezing and took a napkin to blow my nose. As I was bent over – throwing the napkin out – the second door opened up abruptly. I had no time to react when the door slammed right into the top part of my head. The person – that ended up hitting me by accident – was a fellow co-worker of mine. He was highly apologetic – about the whole situation – but I told him not to worry about it whatsoever. I made a little joke about how I get hit harder in my Kung-Fu classes so it was nothing to worry about.
Initially – right after the boom heard around the world took place – I didn’t feel too much pain in my head region. That all changed – a few hours later – when I felt a throbbing sensation on the top part of my head. I told my friend – that witnessed the whole thing – that my head was starting to kill me. He followed up by reassuring me that I was hit particularly hard, so it came as no surprise to him that it was hurting. Luckily, the headache only lasted the rest of that day and that was it – for the time being.
So, fast forward a few weeks later and all of the sudden – the headaches were back in full force; the pain lasted for three days straight. It became so unbearable that I couldn’t do several of my daily activities: my martial arts training, write/blog, sleep or function properly, and I couldn’t even practice my musical instruments. I started to get a little worried that I ended up taking some headache medicine. I’m not a big fan of taking pills – and I can usually get rid of these issues in a more natural way – but the pain was so intense that I had no other option but to take the pill. The pain subsided a little bit but I wanted the pain to go away completely.
After the third day, I had enough and went right back to my tai chi/qigong/meditation training. I envisioned all this healing energy working through my whole head area: after about twenty minutes, the constant pain had totally dissipated. That is what is so amazing about this kind of training: it has helped me heal different ailments in my body on more than one occasion. Even if you aren’t involved in this form of training, you can still “focus” on certain areas to eventually try and heal them. I know mainstream medicine doesn’t push these kinds of techniques but next time you have some type of blockage, try focusing on the specific area and see what happens. It doesn’t cost anything and you’re not putting any harmful chemicals in your body – like many drugs and pills unfortunately have in them.
I took my first surfing lesson, this past summer, and learned a very important lesson my first time out; surfing is NOT, I repeat, NOT , that easy of an activity. When I first got to the beach, the instructor had me do some light stretching to get the body ready for the journey ahead. He then had me do some “popping up” drills, on the sand, to get me used to getting up when a wave started to approach. After about a half an hour, we set out for the ocean. I thought I wouldn’t be that intimidated, about what was to come, but I actually was.
There were five specific surfer films that, at least in my mind, that made surfing look somewhat easy to master: Point break, Soul Surfer, Big Wednesday, North Shore, and Blue Crush. Not so much that it’s an easy feat to accomplish but more so that it wouldn’t take that long to pick up. I’ve seen Point Break, a million times it seems, and I thought Keanu Reeves character (Jonny Utah) picked up surfing quite quickly. I said to myself if Keanu can do it, then the sky is the limit for me as well:)
I was under the impression that I would pick it up in a years’ time, no more than that. Again, I was highly mistaken and I realized the first minute I put the board in the water, and started walking out there, that this was going to be a lot harder than I initially thought.
There was even an art to how you positioned yourself on the board; I just thought you just jump right on the thing and start paddling like no tomorrow. That wasn’t the case at all and I started telling myself this thing, they refer to as surfing, will be a lifelong type of an adventure. The funny thing was that I truly didn’t care at all; every time I slipped off the board, I had a huge smile on my face and got right back on. I was just having fun being out there in the water and I was getting a GREAT workout, as a result.
After an hour and a half of a lesson, my surf teacher asked me if I wanted to try and catch a “wave.” My response was an emphatic, YESS. He had gotten me to face the board towards the beach shore. We had waited for a few minutes until he gave me the green light to start paddling like crazy; that is exactly what I ended up doing. First time, I got up half way and fell immediately. Second time, I stood myself up and jumped right off into the water; I think I was just ecstatic enough to have just got up. Third time, I not only got myself up but I also rode the wave for a few seconds; it was an absolutely exhilarating feeling that started to run through me.
I’ve been back out several times after and I’m definitely considered a “kook” and a “barney.” Those are terms for beginning surfers. When I first heard the term, “barney,” I was waiting for some guy to be riding the wave in a purple wetsuit to resemble BARNEY, the purple dinosaur that loves each and every person equally. I was totally wrong; now that I know what it means, I have a long way to mastering this art form and I’m ready for the ride.
If you ever thought about surfing, I would highly recommend giving it a whirl. If you’re a fan of Family Guy, the Rides-a-Ten-Speed-Everywhere-Guy will definitely say that it’s a great way to stay in shape:) Have a great weekend; until next time….
I just want to start off by wishing everyone a happy new year; hope you had a great time with your family and friends. I got to thinking, a few days back, of certain things I could improve about myself for the coming year. After I wrote a list out, of things I want to accomplish, I started to realize I want to do things differently this time around. I didn’t want to just go gung-ho for the first month and then slowly fall off track, like I’ve always done each year prior. I wanted to, not only keep on track with my goals, but I also wanted to maintain that focus for the rest of my days here.
The things, I wanted most to improve on, were mainly my overall health and eating habits. So, what I did differently this time around was write down all the things I need to work on. After I was done with my list, I made a copy of it and hung it up in my room.The premise for that approach is that I will be reminded daily on the goals I set for myself. I came up with about twenty goals that I feel need some vast improvement on my part. The other decision I came to was at any time I feel I need to add something to the improvement list; I will just go ahead and do that.
In other words, if I feel I need to work on something, and I figure this out in May or June, I won’t wait until the following year to write that down as a resolution; it will be added to my list on that exact day. I’ve just gotten to the point that I need to stay focused no matter what time, day, week or month it is. In turn, I know there might be some bumps in the road but like Rocky Balboa said, “Why do we fall? So we can get back up.” Thanks to the words of wisdom by Sylvester Stallone, I will approach every single day like that going forward. The most important thing is if I do go off course for a day, I will immediately jump back the next day like nothing happened. In the past, if went off my diet for a day or two, it might take me a week to get back on track; no more of that on my watch :))
I WILL STAY FOCUSED…I WILL STAY FOCUSED…I WILL STAY FOCUSED.
Driving around most major towns, you will come across a wide array of signs, buildings and advertisements. There was one place that stuck out in my mind; this place is called “HOT”BIKRAM YOGA. Over the years, I must have passed by this building a million times without even batting an eye. I’m starting to think the reason I became more aware of this particular yoga spot was because of my martial arts training. I’m also starting to think that because I already had the tai chi, kung-fu, qigong, meditation; there really wasn’t any valid reason for me to pay any extra money if I didn’t have to. Not only would it have been an added expense, to sign up for classes, but I wouldn’t have the time to dedicate myself to it either.
I was getting the complete package, so to speak, with my martial arts training already. I had somewhat of an idea of the basic premise of what yoga was all about…stretching. I already stretch, before any kind of workout, to get the muscles all warmed up. My thinking was why would I go there to stretch even more than I already do? When I thought about that question, I remembered something very valuable that my martial arts instructors told me; my techniques are getting better but I’m still lacking in the overall flexibility department. To be successful in any martial art training, you need to be flexible and limber and I needed that added boost.
So, I got to thinking and I decided to take my first “hot” yoga class, at the place I passed by for the past ten years or so. I went on a Saturday morning and I luckily had a friend that was willing to try it out with me. When we got inside of the place, we were told that one class was ten dollars; which included a mat, water and a towel. We took our shoes off and walked right into the “HOT” room, where the class was going to take place. I do not lie when I tell you that the room felt like going right from Antarctica, the outside, to the Sahara Desert, the inside, within a matter of seconds. I’ve been to Florida in August, at its hottest level, and never felt anything quite like the heat that was developing in the room.
After a few minutes of getting used to the transition in temperature, my friend and I started to stretch on our mats before the class officially began. I have to say that I was a little intimidated, initially, because the other students were putting their legs around their head and just lounging. I was lucky if I touched my toes and held it for a second or two. I kept telling myself that this person probably didn’t start out wrapping their legs around their head at first; they were probably in the same boat as my friend and I were when they started out. Like Bill Murray said in, “What About Bob?”, it’s all about taking baby steps!!!
At this point, the class had just begun and the teacher walked in the room. Before I got started in the various poses, I was a little distracted on what the instructor was wearing; he had on beach flip flops and a classic, B.U.M. Equipment tank top. As you can plainly see, it was hard for my friend and I to stay focused while the teacher’s wardrobe choice was actually taking place in real life. After about ten minutes or so, I finally started to focus on what I was there for in the first place. It wasn’t too bad for me, at least initially, because I’m used to hardcore, rigorous training at my martial arts school anyway. The more the class went on, my friend and I looked at each other like we were about to pass out, right on the floor. We kept stopping for sips of water and to get rid of the river of sweat coming down our faces.
After an hour and a half class, it was finally over. The teacher really put on a great class and kept us motivated throughout. No joke, it took about ten minutes for my friend and me to finally get up off the floor from pure exhaustion. I got back home and took a shower and felt very, very, I repeat, very relaxed afterwards. I will now do Hot Yoga from time to time, to get a great workout and most importantly, a quality stretch. It has also helped with my Martials arts training as well and I actually see how flexible I’m becoming, little by little. I definitely suggest anyone and everyone to get out there and checkout your local Yoga spots. You never know, you’re teacher might be wearing similar clothing as my instructor was. That is all the more reason to get out there and do some yoga.
I never thought that I would be devoting a weekly blog post to pay homage to a cereal brand, but here I am. Who would have thought? There are many reasons why I can’t get enough of this particular cereal brand; the taste is amazing, it’s filling, and it’s clutch for any time of the day. The brand, that I can’t keep my hands away from, is Kashi’s new line of organic cereal.
Sure, there are a number of cereals that have the organic label on them but this one is a little different. I found out the hard way, when I nearly scratched my face and neck off, that just because it says organic on it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s allergy-free. What makes it different is for the fact that this line of Kashi is made in a totally separate factory that “doesn’t” operate with tree nuts, peanuts, walnuts, and any other nut for that matter. After I read the back of the label, I just wanted to be on the safe side so I gave the company a ring on the phone to clarify.
The representative there had verified for me that the organic line operates in a totally separate facility. They went on to tell me that they have two factories; one that is allergy-free and the other not so much. After I hung up the phone, I was so ecstatic that I attempted to do a back flip right there in my kitchen. I’m glad that I thought this one through and I decided to just jump up and down in joyous bliss. This was definitely a safer alternative, not only for me but also for everything that was in the kitchen.
Going down the cereal aisle in the supermarket had become somewhat of a dread for me. I would see all these nutritious, tasty looking cereals and I couldn’t wait to get back home and go to town on them. The only obstacle in my way now is what the dreaded “label” has to say on the side of the box. Once I find a cereal that I like, I almost have to cross my fingers and hope for the best. Nine out of ten times, I will see the worse group of words for people with severe allergies could possibly come across…”made in a factory that handles all kinds of nuts.”
If you have food allergies, like I do, it becomes a hardship when you have to go shopping for cereal, and food all around. That has changed for the better now and we have the option to munch on something without breaking out into an itching spell. Another reason to attempt some backflips, or jump for joy, is that the Kashi Organics line has finally arrived in all major supermarkets. You no longer have to shop online and have your cereal delivered to your front door several days later. You can go right down the road now, whenever you want.
Another added bonus is that the line of Kashi Organics has so many different choices to choose from; Island Vanilla (All-time favorite of mine), Autumn Harvest, Cinnamon Harvest and Strawberry Fields to just name a few. If you suffer from severe allergies, give it a whirl if you’re looking for a change of pace and a top notch taste:))
Enjoy your time this weekend with your family and friends!!! Until next week,
When people first think of meditating, they usually associate it with having to sit upright with your legs crossed over one another. That is then followed by us taking our middle finger and connecting it with our thumb, as our hands rest on our knees. We will then start chanting something along the lines of, hummmmmmmmmmm, for several minutes. That is what most of us perceive as the “proper” way to meditate.
That is exactly what I thought meditation was before I started my Shaolin Arts training. I have started to learn, over the past five and a half years, that there is much more to meditating than just sitting Indian style on the floor. Shi Gung Gregg Zilb, my head martial arts instructor, has taught me that there are a number of ways to truly meditate. Believe it or not, you can actually meditate by just lying flat on the ground, in your bed or on the floor. The position almost resembles a snow angel that you make outside when you’re younger . Nine out of ten times, I will meditate right before bed in the lying flat position. It is one of my favorite ways to center myself before catching up on some zzzz’s.
In Tai Chi/Qigong classes, we also do what My teacher refers to as moving meditations. The main premise is to work on building chi, or energy, throughout the body while we are moving forward. My Shi Gung has also shown me how to even meditate while I’m standing straight up. After a few times of doing it standing, I went through some natural healing books that I have and they all say the same thing ,as what my teacher always says, that standing meditations are one of the best ways to meditate. Not only are you training your mind and spirit but your body is getting quite a workout and I can totally attest to that. After just ten minutes of standing, I will start to feel my legs and shoulders shaking like I’m doing some awkward dance maneuver or something.
There are other ways to meditate and focus your minds without having to technically sit and “meditate”, so to speak. Sometimes when I’m writing, especially at the current moment, I get so focused on what I’m doing that I feel I can write for days on end without stopping even for a second. Nothing distracts me and I just keep going and going. I also started to see the connection musicians make with their instruments they’re playing. They become so connected, and in tune, with that they’re doing that nothing can deter them. A good example of that is when Jimi Hendrix was doing his set at Woodstock ’69, also one of the most memorable performances in rock n’ roll history, where it seemed like he was so preoccupied with what he was doing that nothing could take his concentration away from his guitar during his entire set.
So, all in all, there are a slew of ways to feel connected and relaxed without having to be a so-called, avid “meditator.” In the case that you’re looking for a quality top notch caliber school in the Long Island area, then check out, http://www.shaolinlohan.com. You will not be disappointed and it will hopefully become addictive like a drug but a good, healthy one of course. I guarantee you will want to keep coming back for more and more 🙂
I’ve been going hiking, whenever I can find an hour or two, for the past few years. Initially, I looked at hiking as an extra calorie burn to my already intensive, daily kung-fu training. After a couple times of going to the various spots around me, I started to realize that hiking was more than just another physical exercise. The first thing I noticed is how inviting and peaceful everyone is that I come across when I’m walking by. The sad thing is that I only see people smiling at one another, being somewhat civil , when I’m out doing some hiking.
Throughout my entire twenty-eight years of living, I think I’ve seen more hellos, smiles, and friendly gestures in the past couple years hiking than I have ever seen at any restaurant, store, shopping center, movie theater etc. That is why I love hiking so much because, for me and most of my friends that hike as well, it’s an escape for us in one way or another. An escape from the everyday struggles, hardships and things like monetary stress, relationship issues or anything else that your mind is seemingly consumed by. I can remember once walking through some trails, with two of my good friends, and telling them to stand still for a minute. I told them to just listen and hear what is happening around us. After about twenty seconds or so, my one friend said he couldn’t hear anything at all. I responded by saying you’re exactly right, that is the point. All you could hear is the leaves blowing around and birds chirping in the distance. The rest of what you could hear was absolute stillness, nature at its finest. That is why I say there is nothing quite like a hike….
Over the past few years, there has been an abundance of documentaries focusing on what humans are putting inside their bodies. Thanks to the help of the internet, I have come across a slew of these kinds of films. There was none more informative than, “Food Matters”, that was released back in 2008. What I think puts this film apart from the others, especially for me, is that it focuses on the need to stop relying on pills, shots and creams for every problem. It was good to hear that because the Western culture has become a tad bit pill happy as of late. There seems to be pills for just about everything imaginable, even for things like having fun and laughing too much. There is a definitely a time and place for those kinds of approaches but not for chronic, lifelong issues. Throughout the roughly hour and a half movie, you start to see that all the interviewees come to the same conclusions…proper nutrition and exercise is the key to a healthy life. It seems like a rather simplistic notion but how many people truly understand what that really means?
The other parts of the film went on to talk about how our food is being cultivated. How many people are aware that a good portion of the fruits and vegetables, in all the major supermarkets, are being sprayed with synthetic chemicals, pesticides and herbicides. I didn’t realize that until I saw this movie and I’m glad that I found out now and not later.
According to the Organic Valley website, a good number of pesticides are known to pose significant, acknowledged health risks to people—including birth defects, damage to the nervous system; disruption of hormones and endocrine systems; respiratory disorders; skin and eye irritations; and various types of cancers.
- Exposure to persistent organic pollutants through diet has been linked to breast and other types of cancer, immune system suppression, nervous system disorders, reproductive damage, and disruption of hormonal systems.1
- Male Reproductive Development: Hormone-disrupting chemicals in commercial pesticides have been linked to testicular cancer and low sperm counts in men, and to birth defects in baby boys.2
- Public health costs associated with pesticide-related acute poisonings and cancer alone, add up to an estimated $1.1 billion dollars per year.3
- Parkinson’s disease has been linked to pesticide exposure. 4
Organic Valley goes on to state that organic growers use biological and cultural practices to handle pests, including crop rotation, the selection of resistant varieties, nutrient and water management, the provision of habitat for the natural enemies of pests, and release of beneficial organisms to protect crops from damage. A few years back, when I first saw this amazing documentary, I started to shop at specific grocery stores and only looked for the organic labels. They might cost a little more but my thinking is that I would rather put something in my body that does more good than harm.
All in all, I highly recommend this film for anyone and everyone. Even making minor changes in your diet might be all you need to feel better in the long run. I leave you with this timeless quote,
“Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do “practice”?”
― George Carlin
- “Nowhere to Hide: Persistent Toxic Chemicals in the U.S. Food Supply,” by Kristin Schafer, Pesticide Action Network North America, 2000 (www.panna.org).
- Sharpe, Richard. “Men under threat: The decline in male reproductive health and the potential role of exposure to chemicals during in-utero development.” Briefing by ChemTrust: http://www.chemtrust.org.uk/Press_and_Media.php
- “Promoting Sustainable Food Systems through Organic Agriculture: Past, Present and Future,” Christine McCullum-Gomez, C., and Riddle, J. HEN Post: Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association, Spring 2009. www.hendpg.org
- Costello, et al., “Parkinson’s Disease and Residential Exposure to Maneb and Paraquat From Agricultural Applications in the Central Valley of California,” AMerican Journal of Epidemiology, published January
We all get worked up, or anxious, from time to time. There is no definitive way of escaping this but how we go about making it better is the question that needs answering. When I was in school, I never really knew how to deal with my temper tantrums, rapid hearts, shakes etc. Whenever there was a situation, considered awkward in my mind, I would do everything to avoid them at all costs. It only took me one time and if I felt totally uncomfortable, I would tell myself to never get involved in those situations going forward. Awkward situations for me included things like being around highly attractive girls, a lot of people at one time, or even when I had to answer a question in front of my fellow classmates.
Whatever the reason was for my nervousness or anger, during those times listed above, I didn’t know how to calm myself inside and out. A little over five years ago, when I started practicing Tai Chi, Qigong, and stillness mediation, I finally learned how to channel my nerves. It was all through a simple technique that keeps all humans functioning…breathing. It’s kind of funny because my parents and friends would always tell me to “take a deep breath” , when they saw me getting somewhat agitated. When I was younger, I had a tendency of being hard-headed and stubborn. I never truly understood the importance of taking a breath and how it could truly calm me down. Who knew that doing some simple breathing could give me that momentary relaxation I needed to handle most “nerve-wracking” situations. It has also helped in the past couple years, especially when I worked in a sales job. Anytime the customer would get angry, I would remind myself to “just breath” and that two or three deep breaths helped me stay absolutely calm. There is nothing truly like a quality breath:))))