Moving Towards Balance, Charting Territory

I have positioned my lifestyle to have its primary emphasis be on natural health: I eat primarily an organic whole foods diet, engage in energetic movement practices such as taiji and yoga, and maintain a daily awareness practice, all within the context of my living and working environment: a residential school of Asian medicine and bodywork. Our program emphasizes the “School of the Center”, the Sattvic path. I attempt to put these principles into practice in my daily life, with a goal of moving continually towards balance.

However, I fluctuate in my practices, at times abandoning organic foods for the immediate gratification of the service and richness of the restaurant experience, or forgoing movement practices in order to focus on employment or entertainment goals. Even now, my practices are not infallible, and I still experience extreme moods and attraction to intoxicants now and again. But more so now than ever before, I am able to witness and moderate these fluctuations, and herein lies my faith in my movement towards balance: in the past, I felt a victim to happenstance, unable to control or buffer my shifts in mood or desire. Yet with a continued commitment to a spirit-based lifestyle of service and practice, I continually feel more at home in my bodymind, able to sit in silence and meditate.

I keep my mind engaged, eager to seek out new experiences to learn from, and am not particularly plagued by foggy thinking or profound laziness. I have a fit and healthy body, though it occasionally experiences Cold and Damp and Yin Deficiency. I am able to maintain healthy relationship with others, and when I find myself being insensitive or selfish, I am usually able to take responsibility for my feelings and communicate my desire to find mutual contentment. My commitment is to a path of service based in the concept that all beings and things are interconnected, and the one true purpose is Universal harmony.

I believe that the most effective course of action for me to bring myself closer to total balance is to continue to apply the principles I already have: deepen my commitment to a diet of fresh and local organic whole foods as the foundation for a practice of mindful living, seek out teachers of medicine and the Tao who I can respect and learn from, and perpetuate relationship as a practice of service, supporting the people in my family and community.

Dear Reno,

I know my sudden departure may come as a shock to you, but in truth, it has been a long time coming.

Since I arrived, in fact.

I ought to have told you earlier in our relationship, but I’m not the type to settle down, and no sooner do I arrive than I am already looking at the exit door. It’s a pattern I need to work on, I know. Because we started some things together. Things that when we started, I thought I was ready to commit to. A real career, a real community. I took on a lot of responsibility for our growth together, and I saw early on that I got in too deep too quickly. That happens sometimes when we meet again after a long time apart, and the new traits make even the old familiar ones exciting again.

An adage I use often: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I suppose figures of speech become so because they speak to us on many levels, sometimes eluding us with simple complexity…

Anyway…

I got in too deep too quickly, and I tried to correct for that. I noticed you notice me withdrawing, and even as I did so, I was really intending to come back with fervor, stoke the coals and grow back stronger, but, well, that just didn’t happen. And I left you hanging.

I’d like to say, Reno, that “It’s not you. It’s me.” But it is you. You left me hanging, too. I thought you’d pick up the slack in our relationship, see that the distance I was creating was for my own protection, realize that you could keep us both safe by stepping up to the challenge of taking care of your old friend. But that didn’t happen. You stayed needy, quietly, and I just couldn’t keep feeding you all I had.

Reno, you’re a Gateway place, some intersection of laylines gives you purpose. The last place between lush free Pacific and desolate, barren dystopic desert – just look at all the “Burners”, those transhuman souls desperate to re-create the excitement of cosmic life who pass through you in droves on their annual pilgrimage to the psychotic other-land of their imagination, forced by the tight white collar of this doomed culture to flip out in the opposite direction, Reno is their gateway to that land. Also between the hot south Vegas Angeles and the cool north Portland Seattle, while not a pit-stop for most, Reno, you are the fulcrum.

Even more, Reno, you are a portal between above and below, the reality of the living and the realm of the discorporeal. I meet as many disembodied beings as embodied ones, searching for the warmth of connection with another soul, able to envelop and protect them from their own limitless hunger.

Take a look at yourself, Reno: you exist as transition fixed, progress frozen at each step. You amaze me with your progressive stationaryness. A lot of people, well, they need to spend time on the threshold – from here one can look forward and backward through time, peer at the notion of the soul, obsess over sureality – until they become ready to tip the balance of their own destiny in the controlled repetitive falling of walking forward.

Reno, I’m sorry to leave you. It makes me sad.  It does. I’ll watch you from afar, and check in, but I’ll miss all the games we started that we didn’t quite finish. Or really, even quite begin.

But it isn’t you, it is me.

I am thrilled for the future! One can only stand on the precipice of destiny for so long before being drawn in. Not that I believe in destiny, necessarily, or karma, but with observation the patterns of life are undeniable. Not sitting still says something about me: I am not complacent. I am not waiting for something better to come along, I am beckoning it. And consequently, my life continually improves, quality of life gets richer, growth and learning accelerate.

When I reunited with you, Reno, it was meant to be only a short time. That short time extended, and extended some more until I didn’t know for sure when we would separate. (I hope you didn’t get too comfortable during that time – I didn’t.) So the last half a year has been borrowed time… I hope you can understand.

I’m leaving you to be with Heartwood Institute again. Heartwood is a village, a school, devoted to healing arts. My students are here and there, but my teachers are waiting for me there. Accelerated growth, deepening of practice is the hallmark of that kind of life. For all of our amazing projects, I feel stagnant where I am.

It’s time for me to move on.

It’s both of us.

Let’s try not to have a drawn out farewell. I ain’t one for no emotional goodbye…

The Popcorn Situation

In case you didn’t already figure it out yourself, here’s the proper way to handle the popcorn situation:

I used to love to pop my corn in an electric wok cranked on high and a little bit of oil, with the lid cracked to let steam escape. But since I’ve learned about healthy oils and toxic oils and what happens to oils when they get heated and so on, I’ve developed a better system.

Firstly, get yourself an older air-popper popcorn machine. The new ones are crap. Spend two-fifty at the Reno Sparks Gospel Mission and get the grubbiest one you can find. Grubbiness indicates a long and healthy use. Pop your corn. I often use paper grocery bags folded over for popcorn; they’re mobile. Get the popped corn in the bowl or bag before adding the toppings, including and especially oil:

The best part is to use a lot of unrefined flax seed oil; it adds a delictible greasiness to the popcorn, and just so happens to be rich in essential fatty acids used by the brain.

For saltiness, my favorite is nama shoyu – raw, unpasteurized soy sauce – a nice probiotic. But for a kick I use ume plum vinegar – sweet and tart and salty, a real dynamic flavor sensation. For these two I put them in little pump spray bottles and mist the popcorn. Pretty clever, huh?

Optionally, add some nutritional yeast – or again more daring: spirulina or alfalfa powder!

Seriously, folks, you can turn popcorn into a uber-healthy superfood delivery system.

Upgrades

I am pleased to report that Tahoe Yoga and Wellness Center in Reno is up and running. The Center is absolutely beautiful, and a dream to work at every day. The first week was slow, but attendence has been steadily increasing and we’re starting to see some normal numbers. I’ve been facilitating tai chi every day for the past week, and, not surprisingly, I’m very much getting into the flow. For the most part, my only students have been my parents and Heather, and I am thrilled that my folks are taking to tai chi so enthusiastically. Constant tai chi and yoga practice is radically shifting my world. Between classes (when I’m not at the desk) I sit on the couch and drink tea or kombucha and talk about healing arts with other people hanging out in the space.
I’m taking direct steps towards the National Certification Exam for massage, because – although shiatsu is distinctly different from massage therapy – I need National Certification to get a state massage license to practice shiatsu. Maybe I’ll do massage for TYWC, but my real vision is the nutrition/shiatsu/tai chi combo based on Taoist Five Element model. It’s very effective and from what I’ve seen. no one else around here (Reno/Great Basin) is doing anything similar.
Heather and I are moving out; we’re getting out of the big house shared with my parents and brother Cheetah and moving into our own big house! If all goes according to plan. It’s a beautiful four bedroom on 3/4 acre in the valley. It’s one of the older houses in the neighborhood, totally bikeable around town. The place is bigger than we need (and heating will be an issue in the winter), but we’ll have lots of room for our various experiments and have plenty of space for meetings, potlucks, guests, and wrestling.
The place was a punk-rock flop house for years, run primarily by various combinations of the Salliberry sisters (3 brilliant and crazy young women who are long time friends); everybody who’s anybody in the Reno hipster scene has lived there at some time or another. Now, for whatever reason, all the roommates are moving out at once, and the place is up for grabs, including a fair bit of antique furniture and a lot of salvaged doors. Maybe a drum-kit, too. Heather and I are taking it, in two weeks.

This will be a very interesting experiment if only for one reason: for the almost 10 collected years that I’ve lived in Reno, I have always lived in this same suburban house with my folks. It’s worked out well, I’d say, but I’ve always felt isolated and dependent on my (lovely) car to get around. I’ve thought I’d like Reno much more if I lived in town, able to bike and walk to get around. Now I get to impliment that notion, utilizing a house reminiscent of Fight Club as home base.

We’re getting serious. Plum flower poles. Jungle gym. Slackline. Octogon?

UPDATE:
I can’t believe I forgot to mention: I’ve been appointed a position on the Great Basin Community Food Cooperative Board of Directors! I hope that I can now more effectively help provide leadership for our budding food store intoooooo the FUTURE!

And some good news and some bad news:

The good news is that my Magyar-Romanian friend Bori has been accepted into Oxford. I don’t know if she ever reads this, but she deserves congratulations!

The bad news is that sustainability hero Old Mill Farm manager Cas severely wounded his hand almost two months ago. He’s expected to make a full recovery, no thanks to our government:

After applying for workman’s compensation he was instead fined $15,000 for not having a guard on the table-saw, adding insult to injury. Does the person who made that decision sleep soundly at night? S/he’s certainly not helping anyone – this fine not only affects Cas and his family, but everyone in Mendocino who relies on OMF to provide beyond-organic meat and vegetables! I don’t often curse people, but this development makes me furious. Sorry Cas. I’m losing sleep over it, seriously.