Thursday, July 26, 2007

Go with your Gut

You're familiar with the concept and with it's phrases, "I have a gut feeling" or "Go with your gut!" or "What does your gut tell you?". In these cases, we are really talking about our INTUITION. Merriam-Webster defines intuition as (noun) "quick and ready insight" and (adjective) "a : immediate apprehension or cognition b : knowledge or conviction gained by intuition c : the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference".

How does your intuition affect you? Just last night I read a very interesting article about a cat that lives at a nursing home in Rhode Island and is referred to as a "furry grim reaper" because of his uncanny ability to predict the death of a patient within four hours. Just a cute little animal story, you say? Well, this cat's abilities made him the subject of an article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Yes, that's right. Western Medicine has an interest in this too! It can't be ignored. Also, last night, I had a friend who had a "gut feeling" about something he was about to do and decided not to do it. He mentioned that in the past he has ignored this feeling and "disaster ensued". So, this time, he chose to follow his intuition; to trust it and honor it. I think that is great!

And certainly you've heard of the bestseller "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell? Although it's been on my "To Read List" for a long time, I must admit, that I just started reading it this summer and am less than halfway through it. The subtitle of "Blink" is "The power of thinking without thinking". I love it! The author believes that when it comes to the task of understanding ourselves and our world, we pay far too much attention to the grand themes and far too little to the particulars of the fleeting moments we experience. He believes that if we all took our instincts more seriously, it would greatly change the world; the ways our wars are fought, the kinds of products we see on shelves, the kind of movies that get made, the way police officers are trained, the way job interviews are conducted and so on. I definitely agree with him.

What about Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s “gut feeling” about an increased terrorist risk this summer, that was talked about all over the news earlier this month? Was it taken seriously or dismissed? Why are we so quick to doubt things like instinct and intuition, when they are actually very reliable? Why do we need the "hard evidence"?

In school last year, one of my books was "Creating True Prosperity" by Shakti Gawain. She is a internationally renowned leader in the field of personal growth and consciousness. I think one of her quotes says it best:

"Most of us are in touch with our intuition whether we know it or not, but we're usually in the habit of doubting or contradicting it so automatically that we don't even know it has spoken."

My goal today, is to ask you to get in touch with yourself. Place trust in yourself and honor your feelings. Don't be so fast to judge or dismiss. Belief in yourself is key. Go with your gut!

For the story of Oscar the cat (aka "the furry grim reaper") go to

Friday, July 20, 2007

As Nature Intended

Yesterday I went to an organic blueberry farm in Epping, NH to pick some berries. Pick-your-own organic blueberries for $1.95 per pound. What a deal! Their season just began last week, so most of the berries are definitely ripe for the picking. To be able to pluck a berry off it's branch and pop it in your mouth, is truly the way nature intended. Nothing beats fresh fruit or vegetables, right off the vine and straight to your mouth (or to your kitchen first!). These days, most produce is picked, then shipped many, many miles, before they reach us. This negatively impacts the environment and the quality of your food.

To eat fruits and vegetables only when they're in season, is to experience the food at it's best. With modern technology, we are used to having all sorts of fruits and vegetables available to us all year long. But the quality suffers. Try to eat your produce when it is in season and you will enjoy a more intense flavor and quality.
The berries that I picked at Inkwell Farm yesterday were such a healthy powder blue hue and super sweet and tasty. It was amazing to see oil from my fingerprint leave it's mark on the powdery blue fruit. It was very nice to be "in touch" with my food like that..... as nature intended.

For fresh fruits, vegetable, flowers, herbs and more, find a local Farmer's Market! It's a great way to support local farmers (who practice sustainable agriculture) and to get all sorts of goodies that were grown on a small scale and that were recently picked (usually within 24 hours). There are several in Boston, including Copley Square, Government Center and Somerville's Union Square, to name a few. To look up a comprehensive list of Farmer's Markets in your area, go to http://http//

Recommended reading about seasonal eating include Jane Goodall's "Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating", Elson Haas' s "Staying Healthy with the Season" and John Douillard's "The 3-Season Diet". A great little reference book is Aliza Green's "Field Guide to Produce" which provides photos, descriptions, when and how to purchase, how to store and how to prepare over 100 fruits and over 100 vegetables.

Happy Summer Eating!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Smart Bells

No, I am not talking about intelligent ringing devices! I am talking about my new favorite class at the gym. Have you heard of Smart Bells? They are curved weight discs that you use in multiple ways (behind the head for abdominal work, on the foot for leg exercises and in the hands for upper body strength training). The class I took incorporates a fast-paced cardio workout using the Smart Bell for strength training during the entire class. Available in a few different weights, I used the 6-pound Smart Bell. Now 6 pounds may not seem like a lot; let me assure you, the class kicked my butt and I cannot wait to go again. It is definitely going to remain a part of my gym routine; I know it will yield great results. After all, Smart Bells have been used by Navy SEALS and Olympic Athletes, as well as in physical therapy. Curious? For more info, check out:

See if your gym offers a class! If not, ask if they will consider adding it to the roster. Some gyms may have the Smart Bell disc for gym use, but just may not offer a class that uses it. So learn how to use it on your own!

Come on, mix up that gym routine!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Peace Abbey

This past Sunday, I attended the annual Peace Abbey event with the Boston Vegetarian Society. The Peace Abbey is a very unique place, located in Sherborn, MA, about 30 minutes west of Boston. I urge you to read more about it at and to please consider making a donation, as they are in financial crisis and it would be nothing short of a tragedy if they were unable to continue their work, especially on their beautiful grounds, out in the country.

With many beautiful works of art (paintings, photographs, sculptures), especially busts of famous people who've worked on behalf of peace and justice, including Mother Theresa, Robert Kennedy and John F. Kennedy and more, it is such a peaceful and calming place to spend time. Both inside their two buildings and outside on the grounds, you see beautiful plaques, prayers and dedications, such as their beautiful Gandhi statue and their life size sculpture of Emily the Cow (which was dedicated back in June 2005). You can also go into their prayer room and see many spiritual books and pictures and quietly reflect. Outside on the grounds, you can meet some of their rescued animals, including Lilly the pony, who most certainly looks like a unicorn (sans horn) or their two sheep, two goats and their pig and cow.

It is truly a maginficent place, which has been visited by the likes of Mother Theresa, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Thich Nhat Hanh and Senator Ted Kennedy, just to name a few.

During our event on Sunday, we enjoyed a talk by Will Tuttle, author of "The World Peace Diet". Originally from Concord, MA, Will has been travelling the country since the early 1970s and lived for a period in Korea, where he was trained as a Dharma Master in the Zen tradition. He has a PhD from the University of California (Berkley) and has taught college courses in creativity, humanities, mythology, and philosophy in the US and abroad. He is a columnist for Veg News magazine (of which I am a faithful subscriber) and he is an accomplished musician and a published writer. Before and after his lecture, he played two pieces of original music he composed, on the grand piano and the sound was magnificent. He is truly a gifted, talented, dynamic human being and I was very inspired by him. To learn more, to order his book "The World Peace Diet" or to order his CD or to see his wife's amazing artwork (available for purchase too), go to

Consider a visit to the Peace Abbey! Guests are always welcome. It might just change the way you see things......

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lights on Lake Hibiscus

Last night I participated in the annual Lantern Festival at Forest Hills Cemetery, which is a beautiful 250 acre arboretum and tranquil sanctuary, teeming with extraordinary sculpture and natural wonders, in a magnificent landscape.

The Lantern Festival is a Buddhist-inspired memorial celebration held at Forest Hills for the last 9 years. Against a backdrop of multicultural singing and dancing performers, participants in the Lantern Festival inscribe paper lanterns with personal messages to honor loved ones now departed. Japanese and Chinese calligraphers inscribe an Asian symbol of your choice on the paper (love, peace, hope or eternal spirit) and then you decorate the rest of the paper lantern yourself. The paper is then put onto a wooden base and a candle is inserted. At sunset, the candlelit lanterns are released onto Lake Hibiscus, symbolizing the soul's journey after death.

I found it to be a very emotional experience and somewhat profound. Seeing thousands of people with their decorated lanterns - young and old - from all different backgrounds, with their messages to their loved ones drawn and written on the lantern, with lots of thought, feeling and creativity. Everyone of us had lost someone and expressed our feelings about it, on the lanterns. It was obviously a ceremony where love abounded and I could feel it. The energy was amazing. As we began to float our candles on the lake, a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace". It was perfect.

The Lantern Floating Ceremony is a time-honored ritual practiced in various forms throughout eastern Asia. At this time in mid-summer, ancient tradition holds, a gate opens to the world of the ancestors. In Japan's Bon Festival, people light lanterns to invite ancestors to visit their family. Then the lanterns are sent floating out to sea to guide the ancestors back to the world of the spirits. Prayers are offered so their souls may rest in peace.

At Forest Hills, the Lantern Festival offers us a way to remember departed family and friends. Through inscriptions on the lanterns and through the candlelight that transforms the darkness, we send our messages of love, peace and hope into the world and to those we love.
What a wonderful experience!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Dirty Dozen

Buying organic produce is very important to me. For those of you who still aren't convinced, please consider at least buying the following fruits and vegetables as organic:
  • peaches

  • apples
  • sweet bell peppers

  • celery
  • nectarinees
  • strawberries

  • cherries

  • pears

  • grapes

  • spinach

  • lettuce

  • potatoes

These are considered the "Dirty Dozen", that is, they are the most highly contaminated of all produce. This list is published by The Environmental Working Group ( Eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person to about 15 pesticides a day, on average.

So, please enjoy your fruist and veggies every day! But please consider buying ORGANIC.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Hot Stuff

During a hot summer day in New England, I think the last thing most people would want to do would be to spend time in a sauna, steam room or whirlpool. But guess what? My gym has all three of those things and I take advantage of them - yes, even in the summer.

You know how we're all looking for some "me time", some solitude, some peace and quiet to ourselves in a world that is constantly going, going, going? Well, what better place to lose yourself than in the steam room?

Today I spent approximately 8 minutes in the steam room. Well, by the time I got out, I felt like I just had a power nap! It was 8 minutes of being with just me, myself and I. It was 8 minutes to breathe, close my eyes and think (or not think!) and just be in the moment. A little oasis in the midst of an otherwise busy day.

Steam is great for your skin and a great way to clear nasal passages as well. It's not an oppressive or exhausting type of heat; it is actually relaxing, then invigorating! Next time you're at the gym, consider stopping by the steam room or whirlpool after your workout and simply exhale and enjoy the peace before resuming the rest of your day. It is likely you will be able to clear your head and tackle the rest of your day with a more calm perspective.

If you don't have access to a steam room, try this exercise: sit or stand, with one hand on your heart and one hand on your abdomen. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. If you find that you are taking shallow, short breaths, slow down and take deeper breaths and focus on it. Inside your head, repeat "No where to go. No where to be." Just take a few moments to be with yourself.


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Welcome to my New Blog "Buddhafly"

Thanks for visiting my new blog. I had thought of the name "Buddhafly" awhile ago, because of my fondness for Buddha and for butterflies. Butterflies are beautiful, elusive creatures that have transformed from modest caterpillars to flying works of art and that has always amazed me. Butterflies epitomize the wonders and mystery and breathtaking beauty of nature and will never cease to delight me. Butterflies live very short lives, so that also teaches us to be in the moment and savor the here and now, for tomorrow is never promised to anyone.

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."


Today I had a "a-ha moment" while stretching at the gym. Although I've always loved this song and have listened to it many times before, it really struck me today, as it came on my iPod, while I was winding down from my workout.... it is "Thank U" by Alanis Morrissette and the lyrics really hit me today and I realized how grateful I really was, here, in this moment and just in general, that I have so much to be thankful for. I was having some negative feelings about a particular situation and when I heard the lyrics "The moment I let go of it, was the moment I got more than I could handle. The moment I jumped off of it, Was the moment I touched down." I finally let go of the negative feelings I was holding onto and just released them. A tear came to my eye, I exhaled and just let it go. It felt WONDERFUL.

Here are the complete lyrics to "Thank U":

How 'bout getting off of these antibiotics
How 'bout stopping eating when I'm full up
How 'bout them transparent dangling carrots
How 'bout that ever elusive kudos

Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence

How 'bout me not blaming you for everything
How 'bout me enjoying the moment for once
How 'bout how good it feels to finally forgive you
How 'bout grieving it all one at a time

Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence

The moment I let go of it was the moment
I got more than I could handle
The moment I jumped off of it
Was the moment I touched down

How 'bout no longer being masochistic
How 'bout remembering your divinity
How 'bout unabashedly bawling your eyes out
How 'bout not equating death with stopping

Thank you India
Thank you providence
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you nothingness
Thank you clarity
Thank you thank you silence