Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!



New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. - Hamilton Wright Mabie

As another year comes to its end I want to thank all of you for your patronage of my blog and wish you a spectacular New Year 2013. May all your dreams come true! 

With much Love, Light and Laughter 
Dominique Allmon


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Discovery of Heaven



Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, 
you are always right. - Henry Ford

Only a few days ago I met a colleague whom I did not see for a while. He wasn't doing well at all. In fact, I do not remember ever seeing him happy. He was in "hell" as things in his life seemed to have fallen apart  long ago and the regular dose of antidepressants made only minimal impact on his mood. He completely gave up on his life and hoped to die soon. He admitted that he was a coward and would never be able to take his own life, but to speed things up he started smoking again. He smoked the strongest cigarillos in hope that his heart would give up and his "end" would somehow come sooner.

This year wasn't "good" for many people. Economy, politics, natural disasters, terrorism, personal tragedies - there wasn't a month that wouldn't shock us with some horrible news. I can imagine that many people do not have much hope right now. But a new year always comes as a blessing. It always means a new beginning. We should look at new year not only with hope, but with new energy and determination to make things better.

If things were bad for us in 2012, we want to change them. If we failed, we hope for strength and new opportunities. We have dreams and new ideas. We make promises and write down our New Year's resolutions. 

No matter how bad things were the previous year, we do not want to give up without a try. We hope for change and understand that much depends on us and our beliefs about the world and our place in it. 

What struck me about my colleague was his complete loss of will to take control over his own life. Not that he did not have any options. He simply believed that all that happened in his life was his karma and he deserved it all. The misery he was in was a retribution for evil he must have committed in his previous lives. No amount of persuasion would change his mind. He created this hell on earth and deserved to be punished, but at the same time he admitted that he was exhausted and could not take anymore pain.

This was quite shocking to me. I do not have the right to judge anyone but it seems really odd to me that a rational person would relinquish control of his life to an abstract construct of a mind. Imagine, what if there was no such thing as karma? What if we had the power to change what happens to us? What if we could change the direction in which our lives were unfolding? What if we were free to choose "heaven on earth" instead of endless suffering in a self-made hell? What if we were always right no matter what we believed? What if our dreams could come true if only we had them?

As my colleague described his situation I realized that his problem consisted of many smaller issues that had to be addressed separately, one by one, something he did not realize since he saw his life as one big mess: failed marriage, depression and insurmountable debt. At least he still had a job. But this did not matter as he enjoyed it less and less and even considered giving it up...

If you consider yourself a failure and believe that there is no way out, you may be a living proof of your own believe. You are right! A self-fulfilling prophecy, a loser who only attracts disasters and does not even know that he can take control of his own life. 
 
Horrible things happen to many of us, but what makes us winners or losers in the game of life is our resilience, or lack of it, and our response to circumstances.

Some people have the remarkable talent to pick themselves up and start anew. The pain, the loss, the suffering will and should not be forgotten, but are looked upon as life lessons and opportunities for growth and change.

We can choose happiness. We have the power to create our own heaven on earth no matter what. If we believe that we deserve to be happy we will find the strength to deal with our  problems. We will be able to attract people who may suggest solutions where we've seen none. 

End of the year is a perfect moment to start anew. No matter what your current circumstances are, make a wish and hold on to it. And if you believe that you will succeed, you definitely will. Do not give up on yourself. Do not give up without a fight. Wish for more. Discover heaven. Dream.

By Dominique Allmon ©2012

         


Friday, December 28, 2012

Chopin's Small Miracles


Frédéric Chopin by Bogusław Orliński
 Frédéric Chopin by Bogusław Orliński

By David Dubal

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849), whose 200th anniversary it is this year, is the overwhelming favorite composer for the piano. He possessed the most subtle intuitions and fathomed the mysteries of the world. Oscar Wilde once said of him, "After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed and mourning over tragedies that were not my own."  

Most of the 24 Chopin Preludes were sketched out between 1837 and 1838. They are the ultimate miniatures. In an age when the symphony and sonata still held sway, writing these aphoristic Preludes was revolutionary. All except two contain a single musical idea, each boiled down to its essence. Never had brevity been so brief. Ten are under a minute in length; nine last just over a minute. Only the celebrated No. 15, the so-called "Raindrop Prelude," attains the length characteristic of a small piece, clocking in at 4½ minutes.

Fourteen of the Preludes are full of light, gaiety, serenity and a kind of happiness. Seven contain anguish, rage and fury. Three are simply sorrowful. No matter how tiny, the Preludes loom large musically. Each one is a masterpiece of compressed emotion blended with an unequaled pianistic ingenuity and originality. Many of them are horribly difficult to play. When Robert Schumann read them, he proclaimed Chopin to be the "proudest poet soul of the age."

What was the inspiration? As a child in Warsaw, Chopin was nourished on the then practically unknown preludes and fugues of Johann Sebastian Bach, composed in each of the major and minor keys and collectively known as "The Well-Tempered Clavier." Chopin was one of the rare pianists of his time who played most of them, and Bach remained his ideal. During the creation of the Preludes he was particularly obsessed with Bach, and took "The Well-Tempered Clavier" with him on a vacation to Majorca in November 1838, where the Preludes were refined and polished.  

Bach's preludes, some of considerable length, need their fugues, but Romantic composers did not often use this musical form. Each of Chopin's Preludes is self-sufficient, but they were composed, like Bach's, with one for each major and minor key. Since nothing follows them, one may ask what these works are a prelude to - certainly to another Prelude or, poetically speaking, perhaps a prelude to the infinite. We don't know if Chopin intended them to be played as a cycle, although today's pianists usually perform them that way in recital.

The completion of the Preludes formed one of the most harrowing episodes in the composer's short life. When Chopin and his companion, the novelist George Sand, first got to Majorca he was ecstatic. But he soon became nervous, as the piano his friend Camille Pleyel, the music publisher and piano builder, had promised to send him had not yet arrived. By early December Chopin had become gravely ill and the Majorcans, terrified of what was known as consumption (tuberculosis today), made life very unpleasant for the group. To make matters worse, the piano was stuck at customs for weeks, forcing Chopin to rent a wretched replacement. Pleyel's piano was finally delivered in early January, and the Preludes were finished late that month. 

In these tiny microcosms Chopin established the hegemony of the Romantic miniature. His Preludes would find progeny later in the preludes of Scriabin, Debussy, Rachmaninoff and others. 

Space does not permit a detailed analysis of all 24, but mention of a few may give a sense of their character: 

No. 1 in C major : An exquisite example of Chopin's devotion to Bach. Pulsating and agitated, it is over in half a minute, leaving the listener yearning for more.

•No. 2 in A minor: A lugubrious melody seems to hang in the air. Ingmar Bergman made impressive use of the piece in his film "Autumn Sonata." 

•No. 4 in E minor: A slender melody over rich, slow-moving chordal harmonies with the left hand. It, along with the B Minor (No. 6) and C Minor (No. 20) Preludes, was played on the organ at Chopin's funeral at the Church of La Madeleine in Paris on Oct. 30, 1849. 

•No. 7 in A major: Sixteen bars of pure grace.

•No. 8 in F-sharp minor: A highly textured polyrhythmic piece, the melody of this feverish, throbbing vision is played entirely with the right thumb. One of the greatest of the Preludes.

•No. 19 in E-flat major: Pure azure contentment in triplets for both hands, marked "Vivace." To play it through unscathed is an achievement. 

•No. 24 in D minor : Marked "Allegro appassionato," a tremendous discharge of despairing passion, concluding with three foreboding D's from the bowels of the piano.

Probably more people have come to great music through Chopin than from any other composer. In my case, growing up in Cleveland, I used to listen to a radio show whose theme music entranced me at first hearing but was never identified by the host. Although the show aired much past my usual bedtime, I would occasionally sneak down the stairs, turn the radio on at low volume and drink in the strains of this music, over so quickly that I listened with all my might. It was not until somewhat later, when I was taking piano lessons, that I found out that it was No. 7, the Prelude in A Major. Not too long after that I could play it myself, which was bliss! Only later did I find out that there were 23 more Preludes that I would love equally, and in later years would come to study and teach.

About the author:

Mr. Dubal is a professor of piano performance at the Juilliard School and the author of "The Art of the Piano" and "The Essential Canon of Classical Music." His radio program, "The Piano Matters," can be heard world-wide on www.wwfm.org.


         

Article source here
Image source here 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!



Christmas waves 
a magic wand 
over this world, 
 and behold, 
everything is softer 
and more beautiful. 

Norman Vincent Peale

Wishing everyone magical Christmas time ~ Dominique



Friday, December 21, 2012

Imagined Perfection


Happy Winter Solstice!

The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create. - Chuck Palahniuk in Choke

Image by Roman Shalenkin 
Image source here

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Timeless Universe


 The Frosty Leo Nebula
 The Frosty Leo Nebula

The underlying state of the universe is timeless. Before the first nanosecond of the Big Bang, there was only the potential for time in a dimension of all possibilities, after which quantum objects (energy, spin, charge, gravity), emerged. A potential doesn’t have a life span. It encompasses past, present, and future. The ground state of physics turns out to resemble the zero state of samadhi.

Once these timeless possibilities begin to collapse into space-time events, our connection to eternity seems lost. That is an illusion, though, fostered by our dependence on clock time. You have always been eternal; you still are. - Deepak Chopra in War of the Worldviews: Science Vs. Spirituality

Three thousand light-years from Earth lies the strange protoplanetary nebula IRAS 09371+1212, nicknamed the Frosty Leo Nebula. Despite their name, protoplanetary nebulae have nothing to do with planets: they are formed from material shed from their aging central star. The Frosty Leo Nebula has acquired its curious name as it has been found to be rich in water in the form of ice grains, and because it lies in the constellation of Leo.

This nebula is particularly noteworthy because it has formed far from the galactic plane, away from interstellar clouds that may block our view. The intricate shape comprises a spherical halo, a disc around the central star, lobes and gigantic loops. This complex structure strongly suggests that the formation processes are complex and it has been suggested that there could be a second star, currently unseen, contributing to the shaping of the nebula.

Protoplanetary nebulae like the Frosty Leo Nebula have brief lifespans by astronomical standards and are precursors to the planetary nebula phase, in which radiation from the star will make the nebula’s gas light up brightly. Their rarity makes studying them a priority for astronomers who seek to understand better the evolution of stars.

Image and description source here

    

Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter Reading



I believe that book lovers have a secret code. When it starts to snow in December the bookstores are filled with greedy buyers. Some books are bought for others, but most money is spent on books that we take home to devour by ourselves. And believe me, there is nothing better to do on a dark winter afternoon that to read a book in a comfort of a warm and cozy study. Or in bed.

One of the books I would love to read right away is an ingenious and clever book written in 1934 by Dorothy L. Sayers - The Nine Tailors. Set in the remote village of Fenchurch St. Paul, this mystery involves an unknown body, which has been disfigured and mysteriously buried in the same grave as a local woman, shortly after the New Year. Many years before, a magnificent necklace of emeralds was stolen here, though it was never found. Two men and a local woman were implicated in the theft, and both men served time in prison. Now the unknown body, the fate of the two men involved in the theft of the emeralds, the whereabouts of the necklace, and the involvement of seemingly upright citizens of Fenchurch St. Paul are all under investigation.

Here is another book that was published some years ago: The Archivist by Martha Cooley. This literary debut tells a story of a young woman who is after a sealed cache of T. S. Eliot's letters. The critics wrote that this an emotionally charged novel - a story of marriage and madness, of faith and desire, of jazz-age New York and Europe in the shadow of the Holocaust. Published in 1999, The Archivist was a word-of-mouth bestseller and one of the most jubilantly acclaimed first novels of recent years. To me the plot seems quite intriguing and I am willing to explore the universe  guarded by the proud archivist Mathias Lane.

Just like any reader I often dare to tread a new territory. By chance I stumbled upon a writer who was a complete terra incognita to me: an American writer Johnathan Carroll who currently lives and writes in Vienna whom critics compared to South American magical realists. I decided to pick his latest publication - a compendium of thirty eight extraordinary stories that appeared last November under the title The Woman Who Married a Cloud. A little magic and fantasy on a cold winter afternoon is probably what anybody needs right now.

Vienna! One of my favorite cities in Europe. As every year millions of people all over the world will watch the New Year's Concert performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The program takes the listeners on a journey to Austria of the Strauss Dynasty and the lightness of the operetta. Among many things, Vienna is a birthplace of exquisite pastries, Art Nouveau and of course, the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud. What would be more tempting than a mystery novel about the Herr Doctor's most famous patient's demise set in 1910? Published in 2000, The Fig Eater by Jody Shields has an intriguing plot: When a young woman's body is discovered in the summer of 1910 Vienna, the Inspector's wife is certain the figs found in her stomach during the autopsy are the clue to the identity of the murderer - for there are no fresh figs in Vienna at this time of year. What separates The Fig Eater from ordinary mystery fiction is the look it offers at detective work in the early 20th century.

Imagine Vienna forty, fifty years later. It is the time of Cold War and the neutral Austria is caught between two worlds. Vienna is a place where spies and diplomats peddle their "goods." And while the people in the West enjoy their freedom, those in Eastern Europe are forced to live under the heavy boot of Soviet Russia.

No one in the East expected that this was to be their existence after the brutal Nazi occupation, but the powers to be drafted their future at Yalta months before the war ended. What followed was a brutal subjugation of millions of people that lasted more than four decades. A fascinating new book sheds light on the events that took place after the fall of the Third Reich. Published in July 2012, Savage Continent by Keith Lowe is a must for anyone who is trying to understand how historical consequences of that period shaped the Europe of today.

As the year is nearing its end we not only have big hopes for the future, but we also try to make sense of what happened in the last twelve months. What would be better than reflect on the purpose of life on earth under the guidance of a prominent thinker? In his new book An Unknown World philosopher Jacob Needleman frames our role on this planet in a completely new and refreshing way. He moves beyond the usual environmental concerns to reveal how the care and maintenance of a world is something vital and basic to our existence as authentic human beings. The book is timely as winter is a good time for reflection.

Wishing everyone fascinating literary adventures this winter - with much Love, Light and Laughter - Dominique

      

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Winter



Yes, I was the brilliance floating over the snow
and I was the song in the summer leaves, but this was
only the first trick
I had hold of among my other mythologies,
for I also knew obedience: bring sticks to the nest,
food to the young, kisses to my bride.

But don’t stop there, stay with me: listen.

If I was the song that entered your heart
then I was the music of your heart, that you wanted and needed,
and thus wilderness bloomed that, with all its
followers: gardeners, lovers, people who weep
for the death of rivers.

And this was my true task, to be the
music of the body. Do you understand? for truly the body needs
a song, a spirit, a soul. And no less, to make this work,
the soul has need of a body,
and I am both of the earth and I am of the inexplicable
beauty of heaven
where I fly so easily, so welcome, yes,
and this is why I have been sent, to teach this to your heart.

By Mary Oliver


Thursday, December 13, 2012

What Is Wrong with the Christmas Tree?



Here we are again! The Christmas tree debate. This happens every year as soon as people start taking the Christmas tree ornaments out of their storage and Christmas trees start to appear in front yards and in public squares. And what can you say when the First Tree is no longer called a Christmas tree, but a Holiday Tree? 

Never mind that Christmas tree is a tradition cherished by Christians. Pundits all over the liberal media give us wise explanations how the Christmas tree is simply a pagan or a pre-Christian symbol, something the ignorant Christians who stupidly insist on calling it a "Christmas" tree, are not even aware of... 


For lack of better analogy, let me give you an example. How would you feel if your birthday was on December 13 and you wanted to celebrate it with joy just like millions others who were born on that day, but someone told you that you could not call it "your birthday" because by doing so you were excluding every single person on earth who wasn't born on that day? What if the only politically correct way to celebrate your birthday was to simply celebrate the Day of December 13 so that everyone who felt like celebrating this holiday could participate at will? What if someone told you that your "birthday" cake is a symbol of the womb and the seven layers of chocolate symbolized the shaman's steps to higher awareness? What if the chocolate on your cake wasn't simply a chocolate, but an offering to the gods? Would you still celebrate your birthday? Or would you rather allow your critics to suppress your joy and celebrate the December 13 instead? 

Like many other religions, Christianity incorporated symbols and rituals of the peoples that were converted to it. Churches were erected on the remains of Roman, Celtic, Etruscan, Slavic, and Nordic temples. Many converts retained their religious practices and beliefs and gradually incorporated them into Christianity. Many Christian symbols evolved from symbols as old the the human collective consciousness itself.

Religious syncretism is known to other religions as well. Take Buddhism, for instance: the Chinese Buddhism incorporated elements of Taoism; Tibetan Buddhism included elements of the Bon religion that it wanted to suppress; in Japan Buddhism had to compete with Shinto and made the use of its concepts of purity.

Religions may be the last bastion of conservatism, but they evolve as well. They adapt to new circumstances, cultural necessities and spiritual needs of the faithful. The change may be slow, but it occurs independently from what the scriptures dictate. 

No one dares to attack the Jews for lightening a menora. Yes. It is called menora and not a holiday candle stand. And no one feels "excluded" because the Jews celebrate "their" Chanukah even if we are not invited. So why is there so much noise about the Christmas tree?  

Christmas tree is a Christmas tree and not a "holiday" tree. This is why you do not see it when people celebrate Cinco de Mayo or the October Revolution. This is why people decorate their Christmas trees around Christmas and not in July. 

We are living in a modern world where heretics and apostates are not burned at stake any longer. We are free to chose our religion or to practice none. One would have thought the persecution of religion is a thing of the past, but how true is this when we live and let live until the December and wage a "war on a Christmas tree" as soon as we see one?

I don't know on which side of the divide you are right now and whether you celebrate Christmas at all, if you want to have a Wicca tree in your yard go for it, but let the people who love Christmas trees in peace. Take some time to reflect and simply enjoy the beauty of the Season with all its sights, sounds and scents.

By Dominique Allmon ©2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The World Will Not End on December 21



Mix one part science fiction, one part misunderstood Mayan history, one part Hollywood movie hype, and quite a bit of public credulity, and what do you get? A new wave of doomsday hysteria that is causing scientists to step forward to reassure the public that the world is not, actually, going to end on December 21, 2012.

The rumors flying around the Internet offer a number of ways in which the world may end, including a planetary collision and changes to the Earth’s rotation or magnetic field, but they all agree on that date of doom. You can bet that the viral marketing campaign promoting the upcoming planetary disaster movie 2012 has a little something to do with the recent uptick in paranoia.

“Two years ago, I got a question a week about it,” said NASA scientist David Morrison, who hosts a website called Ask an Astrobiologist. “Now I’m getting a dozen a day. Two teenagers said they didn’t want to see the end of the world so they were thinking of ending their lives". In response, Morrison put together a list of 10 frequently asked questions about the potential for apocalypse, and refuted them one by one. The clamor has grown so loud that Morrison coined a new word to describe the phenomenon: “cosmophobia,” a fear of the cosmos.

Still from a movie "2012"

The frenzy has its origins in a handful of fictional, mythological, and downright confused ideas. To take the fiction first: a writer named Zecharia Sitchin has spent his career promoting the idea that a rogue planet named Nibiru is on an extremely elliptical orbit around the sun, and in 2012 it will return to crash into the Earth - or maybe just to tragically disrupt its rotation or orbit. Devotees of the Nibiru notion suggest that NASA and the world’s governments probably know about this, they just aren’t telling us. But scientists wearily note that if there was a Nibiru heading our way, one of the 100,000 amateur astronomers on Earth would have spotted it long ago. “You have to be pretty dumb not to realize that Nibiru is a no-show,” Morrison says.

The mythological component comes from a misunderstanding of the Mayan culture, a pre-Columbian civilization that had a number of sophisticated calendars. One calendar, which is referred to as the “long count,” measures out a cycle of 394 years; the current cycle comes to an end on December 21, 2012, and some books and Web sites have suggested that the Mayans foresaw the end of the world on that day. Anthropologist Rosemary Joyce explains that the Maya never predicted anything. The 2012 date is approximately when the ancient calendar would roll over, like the odometer on a car; it did not mean the end - merely the start of a new cycle. As Morrison writes in his list: “I note that my desk calendar ends much sooner, on December 31 2009, but I do not interpret this as a prediction of Armageddon. It is just the beginning of a new year.”

The movie 2012 builds on all these ideas to create what looks like, from the preview, an excellent bit of disaster entertainment. But some scientists are worried that the movie’s viral marketing campaign will mislead the gullible. Sony has set up a fake Web site for something called the Institute for Human Continuity which uses scientific-sounding language to detail the upcoming shredding, torching and obliterating of the world from so many directions it makes your head spin (“large amounts of solar radiation will bombard the Earth and heat up the molten, semi-liquid layers beneath the lithosphere, thus allowing the crust to shift more easily”). The site lets people vote for the leader of the post-2012 world, and suggests that they sign up for a lottery that will determine who is saved when the crisis comes.

Among the other ideas being circulated for what will happen that fateful day: the direction of the Earth’s rotation will suddenly reverse, the planet’s magnetic field will fall away, or maybe the Earth will align with the sun or some other planets in such a way as to, um, destroy us all. But as astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson notes in a short video clip refuting such ideas, “It’s just Hollywood.”

Article source here

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Nuclear Winter



By Robert Lamb

Call it par­anoia or keen insight, but humans have long pondered the possibility that the end of the world won't come as the result of warring gods or cosmic mishap, but due to our own self-destructive tendencies. Once nomads in the primordial wilds, we've climbed a ladder of technology, taken on the mantle of civilization and declared ourselves masters of the planet. But how long can we lord over our domain without destroying ourselves? After all, if we learned nothing else from "2001: A Space Odyssey," it's that if you give a monkey a bone, it inevitably will beat another monkey to death with it.

Genetically fused to our savage past, we've cut a blood-drenched trail through the centuries. We've destroyed civilizations, waged war and scarred the face of the planet with our progress - and our weapons have grown more powerful. Following the first successful test of a nuclear weapon on July 16, 1945, Manhattan Project director J. Robert Oppenheimer brooded on the dire implications. Later, he famously invoked a quote from the Bhagavad Gita: "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."

In the decades following that detonation, humanity quaked with fear at atomic weaponry. As the global nuclear arsenal swelled, so, too, did our dread of the breed of war we might unleash with it. As scientists researched the possible ramifications of such a conflict, a new term entered the public vernacular: nuclear winter. If the sight of a mushroom cloud burning above the horizon suggests that the world might end with a bang, then nuclear winter presents the notion that post-World War III humanity might very well die with a whimper.

Since the early 1980s, this scenario has permeated our most dismal visions of the future: Suddenly, the sky blazes with the radiance of a thousand suns. Millions of lives burn to ash and shadow. Finally, as nuclear firestorms incinerate cities and fo­rests, torrents of smoke ascend into the atmosphere to entomb the planet in billowing, black clouds of ash.

The result is noontime darkness, plummeting temperatures and the eventual death of life on planet Earth. 

To read on, please click here

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Extreme Weather



The wind blew my words away from you. So while I told you I love you, the phrase was carried in the opposite direction and landed 333 miles away in the ears of a confused farmer. He was nice, though. He sent me a kind letter saying that while he was flattered, I wasn’t really his type. - Jarod Kintz in The Days of Yay are Here! Wake Me Up When They're Over


         

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I Heard a Bird Sing



I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

By Oliver Herford 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

On Vision



Both, what and how we see, are intricately interwoven with our conditioning. We see what we have learned to see. If we come out of our house in midday and see a yellow barn surrounded by a forest, that image becomes a part of our memory. Later, at the end of the day, when the evening sun is sinking over the horizon and the once yellow barn and green trees have been transformed by the fiery orange hue, we may miss that change. Our tendency will be to remember the yellow and green unless a deliberate effort is made to see things as they are. In the glow of twilight the house maybe have a pinkish tone. Trees will turn purple. Yet our mind, if we let it be controlled and fixed by our memory, will only see the afterimages of the past.

I sit here each evening and look at the same things and each evening find that I see different things. The renown Japanese Zen teacher and mystic, Eihei Dogen once asked, “Is it that there are various ways of seeing one object? Or is it that we have mistaken various images for one object?” His words come back to me again and again; ripples on the water expanding in widening circles, reaching out endlessly.

John Daido Loori Roshi

Image source here



         

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Biggest Sale on Earth!


Black Friday
Black Friday! 

The last year story of a Los Angeles woman pepper-spraying fellow shoppers at WalMart in order to get a better access to the goods she wanted to buy, may long be forgotten, but the Biggest Sale on Earth is once more the motivating force for so many people to get the one and only deal in the universe.

Even if, eventually, the deal is not as great as expected or the stuff is not what they really wanted, people turn to wild beasts right after Thanksgiving's dinner since many business open their doors on this once highly respected American holiday.

The psychology behind the phenomenon is simple and not very surprising. It is all about survival it the world of endless deals, sales and opportunities. And when shopping is considered a "therapy" we can only wish the incurables: Shop till you drop!

Shop till you drop because only in America people trample others for super deals exactly one day after expressing gratitude  for what they already have.

By Dominique Allmon

Did you know that you can do your shopping in the privacy of your home? Without the crowds and the stress? In you pajamas if you wanted to? To find out more, please click here
 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!


It's time to be grateful

We can always find something to be thankful for, 
and there may be reasons 
why we ought to be thankful for even those 
dispensations which appear 
dark and frowning. 

Albert Barnes

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving
 With Love, Light and Laughter

 Dominique

Image by Masahiro Makino 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Quote of the Day



The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly. - Richard Bach



Also of interest

         

Image source unknown but greatly appreciated

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ustrasana - The Camel Pose


 Ushtrasana

By Tysan Lerner

There is something very invigorating about the camel pose. Upon completion, the whole front of the body will feel long and open, while the back muscles will feel warm, supple, and pleasantly worked. The camel pose helps lift one’s mood, open one’s heart, and deepen one’s breath.

Despite these wonderful benefits, go cautiously into this pose. It is an intense back bend, requires tremendous focus, and can strain one if he or she has a serious back or neck injury. It is also not recommended for someone with high blood pressure or insomnia.

Preparation Exercise 

To prepare the body for this backbend, start with some gentle chest stretches and back stretches. One good preparation exercise is to roll out the back on a foam roller or small rubber ball. This will help warm up the back muscles and mobilize the vertebrae.

 Ustrasana

When ready to begin, kneel on the knees with the toes tucked under. Keep the thighbones perpendicular to the floor and in line with the hip sockets. Rotate the thighbones internally and gently press the hips forward. Reach both arms up until they are shoulder height. Lift up through the pelvic floor and lower abdomen while reaching the left fingertips forward and the right arm back toward the heels until it touches the right heel. 

Return to center and repeat on the other side. 

If this feels manageable, point the feet and repeat the exercise again. This makes the exercise more challenging.

Tuck the toes under. Place the hands on the back of the pelvis with the fingertips pointing down. Lengthen upward through the spine and begin to bend back while keeping the head in line with the spine. Keep bending back until hands can rest on the heels.

Stay here for five to ten deep, full breaths before returning the starting position. If that felt manageable, the next step would be to point the feet, pressing the ankles and shins into the floor, and repeating the posture one more time. 

To come out of this pose, lead with the sternum instead of the head.
  
Therapeutic Applications
  • Respiratory ailments
  • Mild backache
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Menstrual discomfort
Benefits
  • Stretches the entire front of the body, the ankles, thighs and groins,
  • Abdomen and chest, and throat
  • Stretches the deep hip flexors (psoas)
  • Strengthens back muscles
  • Improves posture
  • Stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck
Contraindications and Cautions
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Migraine
  • Insomnia
  • Serious low back or neck injury
If you have health issues you should consult you health care provider and practice yoga with a certified yoga instructor.


         

Article source here & here
Image by Barry Stone
 


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Veterans Day!


Polish-American World War II Veterans 

On November 11, we dedicate the day to honor all military veterans with the respect and gratitude they so richly deserve. Their legacy reminds us that selfless service in the defense of liberty is a hallmark of all our military members. -  Gen. James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps


Image source here

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Devil Dogs!


 The Few • The Proud • The Marines

There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: 
Marines and the enemy. 
Everyone else has a second-hand opinion. 

General William Thornson, US Army 


~ Happy Birthday US Marine Corps! ~