Monday, August 2, 2010

A True Relief

There are those who choose to notice
only sea, no sky

Nibbling the great underneath,
bumpy, wet, and dry

Seeing the ground below so well,
they look as though their head just fell

They look as though they were best friends
with the point at which their nose ends

Until one day a ladybug
sits cross-legged on their crown

And looking up in that instant
they forget to look down

A moment's gaze above
-- just enough to just amaze

How could they have been so focused
on something so contained?

The Earth is solid matter,
and thank God, is my belief

But the Universe is infinite,
and that is a true relief!



Sunday, August 1, 2010

Protein Mythology

The #1 question I get asked as a vegan is how do you get your protein?

The question is loaded with poorly researched assumptions.

While plant sources are perfectly great sources of protein--chia seeds and quinoa are complete proteins, leafy greens are excellent sources of a variety of amino acids that are easily assimilated into the body and will gladly transform into the clean building blocks we need for our bodies--that is not the point!!

Let me highlight some of the myths that our society propagates about meat, and hopefully clarify some points about protein... and why we don't need to worry about it at all!

Myth #1: You need to eat animals to build protein

The idea that you have to eat another animal's muscle in order to build your own, is akin to thinking you have to eat someone else's hair to grow long hair.

I do not need to eat toe nail clippings to have strong nails, nor do I need to eat a toothbrush to have clean teeth.

Protein is indiscriminately distributed to all life on planet Earth. And our amazing bodies create protein from a combination of amino acids in our food. Plant life is far more easily assimilated than another animal's muscle because our body doesn't have to go through the extra step of deconstructing another animal's protein to then recreate its own.

It's like trying to build a New England colonial house from remnants of an airplane. Why not just buy some lumber (one day, hopefully, some hemp or bamboo composite)?

Myth #2: We run a risk of deficiency
How many people on the news have you seen being rushed to the emergency room in the US for protein deficiency? Ever heard of a protein deficiency ward?

Now, have you ever heard of a cancer ward? How about high blood pressure, clogged arteries, heart attacks, heart disease, obesity?

It has been said before, but these are diseases of excess, not of lack.

Sadly, we were taught that we needed to eat meat, dairy and eggs to stay healthy. Now, we are over-consuming these once "special occasion" items, and we are suffering from diseases caused by our glut.

The only people who could ever suffer from a deficiency in protein are those who are starving, or eating only junk food. And in those cases, who even cares about protein... they are suffering from a severe lack of nutrients and calories!

Myth #3: Our natural diet is meat-eating, so vegans should model their diets after omnivores

We are pretty pathetic carnivores, or omnivores at that.

My first experience of questioning the assumption that we should eat meat, beef in particular, was in my senior year of college. I was trying to imagine myself taking down a cow with my bare hands. The image was quite humorous, and so I decided to stop eating dairy and beef. Cows were simply too big.

Then, I read Diet for a New America by John Robbins (run, don't walk, to read it!), in which I learned that our entire anatomy suggests we are made to eat mostly plants.

First we have no sharp teeth for tearing flesh, no sharp nails for killing. Animals that eat mostly meat have short smooth tubes for colons. We have a long corrugated coiling fun slide that requires fiber to "brush" everything out.

There is no fiber in animal products.

As an aside, I think that we are capable of eating small amounts of animal products, as we had to in times of shortage. But miracle of miracles! We are no longer roaming through the woods trying to survive. We have millions of choices at the super-market, which allow us to quite easily live a cruelty-free, eco-friendly lifestyle.

This message was brought to you by the protein myth buster foundation.

Thanks,
Sirgun

Wahe Pain!

Today is Day 34 of my Bound Lotus kriya-commitment.

I have decided to do my practice later in the day today, as it is Sunday. I "slept in" until 8:30am, which for most wouldn't be so exciting... but if you are in the habit of waking up before the sun has, you would have a different perspective I suppose.

I chose to talk about my commitment to do 1,000 days (or more?) of bound lotus now because I wanted to make sure it was something I wanted to continue doing before I shouted it out on the rooftops: "I am insane!"

1,000 is the traditional number of days one has to practice something before one attains mastery.

In a previous blog I had expressed my desire to master BL and also Camel Pose. For both kriyas, mastery means 1,000 days of 31 minutes of practice. No days off. No interruptions.

My experience in doing this kriya has been quite profound. Some days are extremely painful.

It's a different kind of "pain" though. It's so great and indescribable I have used the term "Wahe"--usually part of the expression "Wahe Guru," which means "Wow, indescribable is that force that turns all darkness to light!"

Indeed, this kind of pain is not like getting hit with a baseball bat, which leaves a bump or bruise, and hurts for a while after. I suppose that sort of pain could move you forward, but it would be a slow path to enlightenment... continually being hit by a bat!

No, I can only liken it to the way one feels fasting. It's pretty uncomfortable DURING, but AFTER one feels lighter, cleansed, and healed. There is a reward.

It is exactly that awareness of a "light at the end of the kriya" that gets me through 31 minutes in lotus pose with my arms wrapped behind my back, gripping my toes and bowing my head on the floor. I am still working up to that final expression, actually. Right now, I sit is lotus or half lotus, grab my elbows behind my back, and bow on the floor or a pillow.

I will talk more about the benefits of this kriya later, but for now I just wanted to shout on the rooftops: "I am insane!"

Blessings,
Sirgun

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