3/31/07

My parents


Here is a recent photo of my dear parents

Into Great Silence


I just went to see the movie "Into Great Silence." The Wall Street Journal's Pulitzer prize winning movie reviewer said that this movie was the rage in Germany. People leading hectic lives can be soothed by seeing the simple life of the Carthusian monks whose lives are shown in the movie. For me it has a greater significance because 30 years ago I seriously considered joining the order, in their only monastery in the Americas in Southern Vermont. With the exception of the celebration of Easter depicted in the movie, I basically experienced everything in the life of the monks shown in the movie over a period of two weeks.

The film is filmed at the motherhouse of the order in Grenoble, in the French Alps. Its architecture inspired the 20th century architectural master Le Corbusier, who drew inspiration for housing from how the charterhouse is laid out. Each monk gets a little house connected by a central courtyard. The house on the lower level has a garden and a shop for cutting wood that is used in the wood burning stove of the main room. The upper level has the window through which food is brought twice daily. There is a small ante-chamber, followed by the main room, which has a desk by a window, a bed, an area for prayers conducted in solitude, and a bathroom.

The meals of the monks are vegetarian and very simple, CR like. Eggs are allowed except for certain periods of the year during which the monks abstain from them. The meals consist of fruits, grain soups, steamed vegetables, and bread and butter.

I now practice Buddhist meditation in the Zen tradition. I owe that to my yoga practice and to having been interested in the Carthusians when I was younger. I do feel that I serve humanity through my career in architecture, so I do not presently feel the urge to join a monastery. Perhaps my ability to practice CRON also is aided by my past interest in the Carthusians, since the CRON lifestyle can be somewhat ascetic. Maybe we fellow CRONies don't feel we're being ascetic - we feel we're making better choices in what we eat and in how we conduct our lives. But to the outside world, we're probably seen as ascetic.

Thomas Merton was a philosopher and a monk in the Trappist order, which is similar to the Carthusian order. He wrote a book about the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity. It's just that it's not likely one would practice both simultaneously.

The official website of the movie is located here.

First Fervor

I must be going through a first fervor phase with blogging, posting too often.

An advanced student from another yoga studio joined us twice during morning practice this week. He just floats in the air in transition from one pose to another. It's nice to be practicing with him and with other very dedicated ashtangis. I feel a sense of reverence for my fellow practitioners. It's a difficult practice, because every day you face the challenge of your body not allowing you to do certain things, until if finally gives in. On Thursday Teacher said, "until your left foot stays by itself behind your back in Eka Pada Sirsasana, you should not go on to Diwi Pada." How many months will pass before my tight left foot will give in and just relaxedly rest there on the left side without assistance? I don't know. On certain days, such as Sundays, it does it just fine, but during the week the left foot is stubborn. It's easier to tense it up that to make it relax.

With respect to coming up to standing from Urdha Danurasana, I think I have acquired a lot of knowledge about what is supposed to be happening with the body. It's just that all of those component parts haven't formed a whole to make me do it. So your back and buttocks are supposed to be soft while in upper bow. The thighs are supposed to be strong. The hands are not supposed to be doing the work of bringing you up. The feet are supposed to bring you up. Your curvature is supposed to be really great and of such a dimension that the weight is supposed to be transferred from the hands to the legs to bring you up. So the legs are supposed to be brought back closer to the hands. The hands are supposed to be brought closer to the feet. It is okay to do a rocking motion, to give you the sense that you're to transfer the balance of the weight to the feet. The elbows are to be together. That is something the teachers repeat again and again. Strong arms. Straight arms. Make the thighs ground themselves and bring you up like they mean it. So your chest and heart is supposed to be rising. Those of you who do this and succeed in coming up to standing and then dropping back, know what I'm talking about. There is a lot of information to process. Now if the body would just do it and come up, and then go back down and come back up...

3/30/07

Architecture


Okay, so far I've written about CRON, yoga, but except for posting a picture I took of Union Square from the 9th floor of an office building, I haven't said much about architecture. Well, I'm passionate about it. I enjoy the website www.archnewsnow.com for links to the latest news around the world on the topic of architecture. If you like peeking at beautiful buildings, that is a good website to check out.

Like Hazel, I am really visually oriented. I need to have around me beautiful images from nature or great works of architecture. So maybe I'll post pictures now and then. The picture you see here is taken at Presidio Park in San Franciso, looking towards Sausalito.

Cake day

Once a month it's cake day. I started to type the words "cake" and honestly, the words "gake" came out first. Of course, the correct person that I am, I hit backspace and corrected my typo. But was it a typo? Probably not, since my mind was thinking "gak". I am behaving better at these cake days and I don't get upset about them because our office is super health concious. We have fresh fruits and juices available and rarely do people bring snack cakes or bagels to tempt the rest of us. On the rare ocassion that people bring sweets, they're gone quickly, since it' s human nature for everyone to eat them. But the cakes set me off CRON when they happen. It's a social thing - participating and enjoying the sweets to celebrate whoever had a birthday that month.

Applying CRON principles to other aspects of my life

I've made a lot of progress with my health and nutrition thanks to CRON. I've started to see how what I learned there applies to my personal finances. Some newsgroups pointed me to Dave Ramsey's books, such as Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace, so I've bought several and started reading them. Basically I want to break the cycle of using credit cards for buying everything. Using them leads to times when you don't pay them down and the debt piles up. Like with weight problems in the past, I've carried some consumer credit most of my life. Only for a period of three years when I lived super simply in another city did I live totally debt free. I want to live that way again and I think applying the principles in Ramesey's books will help, much like the advice of CRONies on nutrition help my eating style. If for about 10 years my weight has been under control, out of the roller coaster cycles in my past, the same should happen to my finances. It may require some drastic measures, such as selling some of the artwork I have collected, or finding in our expensive city, a different place to live. I'm hoping I don't have to move, since I like my apartment. It's close to work, close to yoga, faces south so it gets a good sunny exposure; it's quiet despite being in the middle of the city, it's close to all means of public transportation. It's just that it feels expensive, although the landlord has not increased my rent in the 3 years that I have lived here.

RLS like symptoms

Yesterday I overexerted myself physically. It was the day to practice the advanced yoga series. Then I bicycled to work, as I do these days. At lunch, a group of us walked about a mile and a half to tour the construction site of a 30 story hotel the office is working on. Then I walked part of the way to my apartment for lunch. I also worked late. I was feeling symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome, except that it was on my right bicep muscle. So I read up on RLS after googling, to remind myself of the nutritional deficiencies that cause it, and it pointed out to needing iron, calcium, magnesium and folate. I had supplemented with all of those in the morning. But I decided to supplement again before going to sleep. I never felt the muscle tinging overnight so the supplementation must have helped.

Regarding yoga, I feel as if I want to say, "today is the day that I come up to standing by myself without assistance from the teacher in Urdha Danurasana" (upward bow.) Well, anyway, it's going to happen one of these days. Once you master that, then you have to learn to drop back to the floor into an upward bow and bring yourself back up. Say it enough times, believe it, and it will become a reality.

3/29/07


This is a picture of me last Christmas visiting my family in Puerto Rico

One leg behind the head

Practice was good today. But teacher said that I can't go to Diwi Pada (two legs behind the head) until my left foot rests on my back without my holding it with my hand while on Eka Pada (one leg behind the head). That makes sense to me, but it's my tight side, so I don't know how long it will take.

I wonder if I eat a little less before practice maybe I will be better at binding and getting the foot behind the head. We'll see.

What I eat on a daily basis and my typical biomarkers

I'm primarily vegan vegetarian. A sample daily menu for me consists of:

Breakfast
8 oz grapefruit and orange juice 100 cal
30 g nuts (walnuts, pecans, 2 Brazil Nuts, filiberts) 175 cal
.33 cup granola (Galaxy Granola - Not Sweet Vanilla Mulch) 200 cal
123 g raspberries or blueberries or strawberries 65 cal
Chocolate Guar Gum Pudding with 30g Brewer's yeast 160 cal
Subtotal : 700 cal
Snack
2 triangular pieces of Dean's MegaLeather 60 cal
Coffee with soy creamer 10 cal
Subtotal: 70 cal
Lunch
125 g Sprouted Lentil Hummus
130 cal
75 g Sweet Potato Hummus 120 cal
1 Tbl Commercially Prepared Hummus 25 cal
1 Tbl Commercially Prepared Babaganoush 25 cal
1 Tbl Tomato Basil Tofu Spread 25 cal
1 Green Cracker (http://www.lydiasorganics.com/) 50cal
1 - 3" x 4" flaxseed cracker 55 cal
3/4 recipe Chocolate Guar Gum Pudding 120 cal
Subtotal: 550 cal

Snack
Tea 1/2 Megamuffins (Soy milk substituted for milk) 70 cal
Subtotal 70 cal

Dinner
Pumkin and Sweet Potato soup 2/3 cup, with
1/3 cup organic vegetable soup (http://www.imaginefoods.com/) 200 cals
4 grape tomatoes 3 cal
Romaine Lettuce, 1/2 cup
1 tbl Brewer's Yeast 60 cal
1/3 cup frozen cherries, w. 1/4 cup oat milk 50 cal
1 oz protein powder 95 cal
Subtotal 285 cal

Total cal: 1500 to 1675 cal
Protein 25%Carbs 45%Fats 30 %
Aproximately 20 to 25% calorie restriction based on 2200 calories for a male.
Current weight: 130 lb, Height 5'9 1/2", Age 50. When I started on CRthree years ago I weighed approximately 145 lb. Systolic BP 125 Diastolic BP 81 Heart Rate 61 Body Temp 95 F

3/28/07

Hip rotator muscle

I'm not sure what I am going to write about in this blog. I would like to write about yoga, the challenges and exhilaration of advances in my practice. I don't know if I can write about CRON every day because I'd bore people to tears since I basically eat the same every day. I can write about what that food is on a later post.

Today there were some old friends in the yoga shala, which gave the room a good buzz during morning practice. I only did primary series because I had been out of practice for a few days. Tomorrow I plan to do second series up until Diwi Pada, as my body allows. Officially that is where I'm stopping in Second Series until I get that one perfectly; then I can move on. But Diwi Pada is difficult because my left leg is tighter than my right leg when bringing it behind my leg.

My teacher is great and made me laugh this morning while we were figuring out which of my muscles around my waist or sitting bones are the ones that tense up and make me be lop sided in Navasana (boat pose) and in Urdhva Mukha Pachimottanasana. I guess I will have to mentally tell the left hip rotator muscle to ease up and not tense up.

Yoga

I haven't practiced yoga in 5 days, which is unusual for me. It is because I went to Yosemite last weekend and did some strenuous hiking and my body needed to rest. I did not gain weight although I ate somewhat ad-lib on Sunday. I'm hoping my practice today will be energetic.
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