Category Archives: Uncategorized

Asteya – Non Stealing

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The yama Asteya considers non-stealing or taking what is not freely given. This includes taking what belongs to another without permission, using something for a different purpose than it was intended for, or using something beyond the time permitted by its owner. I think it is safe to say that most people are not thieves and do not consciously steal as there are laws and penalties in place to prevent these actions. Socially it is unacceptable to steal. But consider the idea of taking too much. Is this a form of theft? Society promotes our separation from one another. The survival of the fittest and “dog eat dog” mentality creates constant competition to succeed in life by making money and consuming goods. Caught up in the rat race, the greed of taking more than we need is justified by the fact that we need to ensure our livelihood. We can make thieves of ourselves trying to fill all the lack created by the obligation to prosper and succeed. Generosity is challenged by the idea of getting ahead. When we see ourselves as separate we identify success with money, ownership, and attachment to things. Greed is perpetuated as we succumb to the story of the successful self.   In his book Ascent of Humanity, Charles Eisenstein addresses this:

“Indulging it greed only exacerbates the underlying need, because enclosing more of the world into the domain of mine separates us all the more from the connected interbeingness for which we hunger.”

 

Taking more than we need may provide some feeling of security but perpetuates the need to keep taking. Generosity, charity, and love are ideals that can shift this pattern. Witnessing how interconnected we are with our communities and nature can provoke us to give back and help others. Opening the doors of generosity, benevolence and the practice of non-greed promotes a deeper connection with others. As humans this is something we all crave. The opposite action of stealing is giving. As individuals we are all blessed with amazing qualities, talents and passions. These are our gifts to share.   Be the Gift.

 

The Practice of Ahimsa (Non-Viloence)

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The Practice of Ahimsa (Non-Viloence)

Sean O’Leary

The first limb of the eight-fold path of Astanga Yoga is Yama or ethical discipline.  The Yamas provides us with a framework that considers how choices and actions impact our lives.  The first Yama is Ahimsa or non-violence/non harming.  Ahimsa is a universal concept that requires us to live peacefully and intend no harm through word, thought, or deed.   Often Yoga and related spiritual practices are methods that focus on enlightenment where the separation of the practitioner from their surrounding world could be seen as an achievement.  Opposing the notion of total separation, what if enlightenment is to wake up to the interconnectedness of life and live skillfully in the world.  The mind can distract us from the realities of our actions but only through practice can we place a greater importance on discerning the effects of our decisions.  Only then can we live a fully engaged life.

As we practice yoga we learn to settle the elaborations of the mind and eliminate distraction. With these distractions aside we are then able to accurately identify connections and interrelations in our lives. We are not separate individuals.  Decisions and actions we make affects every person, community, and environment around us.  Becoming aware of our actions and their impact is important when considering the practice of Ahimsa. When the mind is quiet we can make decisions free from the attachments, ideals, and prejudices of our thinking mind.  With the awareness we achieve through yoga practice, it becomes our responsibility to realize our actions have implications upon the planet and its inhabitants.

The scope of Ahimsa is broad and can be applied towards all aspects of our lives.  The impact of our food choices are often over looked but question the notion that most grocery stores stock foods shipped from all corners of the planet.  Whether they be bananas from Costa Rica, olives from Israel, or soya beans from China, the shipping of food takes an environmental toll.  In addition, the techniques or pesticides used to grow food, and the treatment of employees harvesting foods can manifest repercussions from choices as simple as diet.  As a separate being we enjoy the convenience, abundance, and variety of food but choose to ignore the multilayered reality.  The Yogin is conscious of the connectedness of our world and considers the karma (causality) of his or her choices.  It is easy to be distracted by modern media and want to separate ourselves from the sensational world (war, political unrest, starvation) but these realities are happening to us by extension.  We are the world.  We are not separate from the violence and injustice taking place on this planet.  Learning to react skillfully to these events without adding more hate, anger, or violence to an already awful situation is needed to dissipate the situation.  Fighting violence with violence is not a practice of Ahimsa.  Fighting fire with fire is also an important consideration while debating, or engaging in any conflict.  Identifying to our ideals and preaching our beliefs could be taken to be a form of violence in itself.  Expression of our ideas and opinions is important, but it must be done in a tactful and reflective way as to not offend or hurt.  We must contemplate the impact of our lives during a time when the earth is unprecedentedly sick.  If we become conscious of decisions and actions that deplete the worlds natural commons and resources, we can make practical choices that will heal our planet. Driving cars, using electricity, and carelessly consuming have negative effects.  A consciously moderate lifestyle will assist in making the world more capable to support the abundance of our planet.

One can be overwhelmed by the practice of Ahimsa especially when engaging controversial and contentious topics such as vegetarianism, veganism, fossil fuel consumption, abortion, gay rights, religion, and spirituality.  There is no book written that explains how live perfectly. We are obliged to make choices relative to the circumstances in our life. In his book Yoga for a World Out of Balance, author Michael Stone reiterates this point, “Nor can any theory claim to be a universal canopy of the different norms and values across cultures, because doing good is always relative”.  As practitioners or yoga it is our duty to constantly consider the practice of Ahimsa and reflect on our relationship with the world and always strive to live a fully engaged life.

I encourage everyone to share their ideas, comments, and experiences on this topic.

I’ll end with a quote from Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar:

“Violence is bound to decline when men learn to base their faith upon reality and investigation rather that upon ignorance and supposition”

Seanuman Sauerkraut

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Lost is the art of fermentation.  This skill of the past is an amazing way to improve the digestibility of your food as well as increase the shelf life or storability of foods.  Fermentation makes use of micro-organisms to break down cellulose and anti nutrient factors to enhance assimilation and absorbtion of nurtients.  It literally makes your food come alive and helps to replenish the naturally occuring bateria in our guts ecology.  This plays a key role in regulating immune function.

In ayurveda fermented foods are used to treat bowel problems including constipation, diarrhea, gastroenteritis and also can be helpful in preventing ulcers.

Yes I realize leaving food out on the counter to literally start growing seems risky with concerns around botulism.  But don’t fret the good bacteria will far out perform the bad bacteria leaving fermented foods tasty and ready to eat.  Although if your final product smells like a rotting, stinky, spoiled slop of mixed mushy veg then there is a good chance your batch has spoiled.  It would be a crime against wisdom to eat it.

I’ll include the most ridiculously simple sauerkraut recipe that is a staple in my kitchen and fridge.

Ingredients:

1 large head of organic cabbage

1 large organic red onion

3 medium organic carrots

2 tablespoons of course sea salt

anything else you fancy (I never measure, I always throw in different veggies and or spices to see what happens)

The Method:

Chop or food process everything up into a fairly fine slaw (not that important chunks are fine).  Mix in the sea salt and combine/toss everything together.  Let sit for 15 min so salt starts to pull out water from vegetables.  Stuff into large glass gars so much that the extracted juices and water rise above the compacted mixed slaw.  Place some whole cabbage leaves on the top just to keep loose pieces down.  I usually place a jar or weight on top as to keep everything under the juices.  Let sit in a cool place (my counter in winter/my basement in summer) for 1 week from crunchy sauerkraut or 2 weeks for more tangy and slightly softer sauerkraut.  Keeps in fridge for up to 3 months.!!  Enjoy!!  Pics Below!!!

Try it cooked lightly in ghee with cumin seeds for a tasty addition to any meal.

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Yoga : Exploring your Truth!

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Yoga : Exploring your Truth

Sean O’Leary

 

What is Yoga anyways?  This question can be answered many different ways.  Before I write a 1 million-page article or tangent about my perspective about yoga I would like to clear up a few things:

 

  1. I am writing this to celebrate the abundance of Yoga we have access to
  2. This article is not stating the best/only yoga, or spiritual path.
  3. Yoga, while challenging, should be enjoyable

 

The word Yoga can be translated to mean union or intimacy.  Through different kinds of practices the goal of Yoga is to explore the connection and relationship between body (physical), mind (consciousness) and soul (universal consciousness).  When we deepen the relationship and experience between these 3 aspects of our selves there is a sense of contentment and bliss.  Through the intelligent awareness of body we can align ourselves into deep states of relaxation and experience profoundly calm states of consciousness without the constant chatter and fluctuation of the mind.  The nourishment and pleasure resulting from calming the mind guides us to adjust our lifestyles to experience it more often.  Finding a union or intimacy with this most blissful state of mind is the goal of yoga.

 

Everyone has heard of Yoga and its popularity has exponentially exploded into an overwhelming market.  Now sold as a service Yoga is branded into different stlyes like; ashtanga yoga, power yoga, bikram yoga, iyengar yoga, sivinanda yoga, kripalu yoga, Bob yoga, Jenny yoga, and thousands and thousands more styles and brands created all the time.  For the most part all of these styles focus mainly on the physical asana practice, or stretches and poses we do on the yoga mat. Also there is less attention paid to the more subtle experiences of yoga practice like states of consciousness and movement of energy.  A small problem is some of these practices are too strenuously fitness based or difficult in the beginning for the average person new to yoga to succeed in achieving the asanas (poses) correctly. The fruits (therapeutic benefits) of the practice are lost unless we can perform the practice with a balance of integrity, steadiness, and ease.  Lost in translation among the studio yoga offered is the point of yoga, finding a clarity in the mind.  The postures remember are just tools to help us be comfortable in the body to then focus on the mind.

 

Asana (posture) is only a small part of Yoga practice.  There are many different practices.  The 8 limbs of Hatha Yoga include Yama (ethical standards), Niyama (self discipline/spiritual observances), Asana (posture), Pranayama (breathing practices), Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), Dharana (concentration), Dyana (one pointed focus/concentration), Samadhi (enlightenment/bliss).  Outside of the hatha path there are other Yoga practices including Karma Yoga (yoga of selfless action/service), Bhakti Yoga (unconditional love or devotion), Raja Yoga (follows the 8 limbs of hatha yoga) and Jnana Yoga (Yoga of knowledge or wisdom).  Clearly there are more options for our yoga practices than just Asana (poses).

A point that must be made clear is every person is uniquely different and will need to find a practice that provides a progressive path towards physical and spiritual contentment.  In other words find a practice that is enjoyable and works. Traditionally yoga was transmitted in a one on one basis.  It was taught to the level, and ability of the practitioner.  Although guidance is necessary to learn different practices of yoga we need to tune in what practices are working for ourselves.  This means our Yoga practice should be completely adapted to suit our individual nature and support the lifestyle in which we live.

 

This shines light on the opportunity for us to explore what Yoga practice means to us, and most importantly, what works.

 

Yoga will be the topic for our 2nd Dharma night at Live Yoga in White Rock on February 7th.

The Rebirth of Community

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The Rebirth of Community

Sean O’Leary

            This Friday night, Live Yoga is starting “Dharma Nights,” which Amy and I are very excited to offer. This is an opportunity for members of the studio and other friends to talk, discuss, come together and create community. Community: something that I believe we are fundamentally missing in our lives.

This Friday, we discuss community as a topic. What is it? Why is it missing? Where did it go? How do we get it back? How can are our lives be more meaningful and connected?

What is community?  It is a really good question because in my opinion community has almost disappeared in our society.   It is almost foreign to consider being close to all the neighbors on your street, and also difficult remaining close to friends and family with our busy lives.  I tried to google the word community and the first 10 hits were about some American television show.  Even the internet has forgotten community.  How strange that we have boxed ourselves into such a sedentary lifestyle not requiring anyone’s help for anything, as if to say, “I’m an individual and I can provide for myself, make my own way, without your help.”  This way of thinking is ingrained in having a successful career and life.  I felt for years an urge to connect more with others, to help others or simply to be part of a group of people with similar interests and this yearning has remained.  It seems impossible to find community in most urban or suburban areas. In the past, being part of a community meant you had fellow beings to help support you through your life.  Members would gather weekly to visit and sing, and there would be abundant help during harvest time or when somebody was building their house, for instance. All would freely offer their time to assist.  I guess in the past people were just friendlier and more generous with donating their time.  Or maybe time was more abundant.

In the current society we live in, most people I know are too busy to take time for themselves.  40 hours a week in order to make ends meet.  After work a runabout of chores and activities fill the rest of our time.  Time has become a rarity and busy-ness a reality.  Time is Money.  Hmmmm That last sentence Time is Money.  Time is Money. Time is Money!  Money! Money!  Money!   This is the problem itself.  Our lack of community and ever increasing loneliness, as well as our despair about achieving success is driven by the very evil word, MONEY.  Most things we used to rely on our community for have now been turned into services that we pay for.  In fact any good business idea is just that, turning something people do for themselves into a service for a fee.  It paints a grim picture about the direction of our society.

In his book, Ascent of Humanity, Charles Eisenstein sums it up:

“…and so we find in our culture a loneliness and hunger for authenticity that may well be unsurpassed in history.  We try to ‘build community’, not realizing that the mere intention is not enough when separation is built in to the very social and physical infrastructure of our society.  To the extent that this infrastructure is intact in our lives, we will never experience community.  Community is incompatible with the modern lifestyle of highly specialized work and complete dependence on the specialists outside that work.  It is a mistake to think that we can live ultra-specialized lives and somehow add another ingredient called community on top it all.  Again, what is there to share?  Not much that matters, to the extent that we are independent of neighbors and dependant on faceless institutions and distant strangers.”

Ok so I realize this has been kind of a downer so far.  But it will brighten up from here, I promise!  The idea of the separate self should be abandoned so we can align with a more fulfilling way of life.  We have to need each other!  We must rely on the goodness within each of us.  We all desire to give and enact our gifts, and thus strengthen the bonds of community and create a more wholesome, organic and connected way of living.

There is another way, and it requires us to trust our true human nature.  We all have a goodness, a desire to be creative and make beautiful things.  A desire to meet, share, help and love others.  It is written in our genes!!  I do know something is perverted about our society, economy and so forth but as human we are all amazing.  Deep down our hearts all know we can live differently, and it will take some big changes to make the world, starting with our communities, a more beautiful place.

I think small changes are the most important for us to reconnect with the people around us.  Smiling and chatting with neighbours, cashiers and strangers you meet makes it more natural to be open with others.  Meeting in groups to enjoy like-minded ideas where everyone has an opportunity to share their gifts will harbour more connection between ourselves and others.  Living this way will develop relationships and over time those relationships can grow.  Living life with an open and loving heart will attract and sustain even the smallest seed of community, and seeds grow.

After searching more, I eventually found a definition of community on Wikipedia (the ultimate community project).

Community can refer to a usually small, social unit of any size that shares common values.  If community exists, both freedom and security may exist as well. The community then takes on a life of its own, as people become free enough to share and secure enough to get along.

This is an extremely powerful and intriguing idea.  How can we bring these community-focussed ways of living into our modern-day life to create more nourishing and connected relationships?

Let’s talk more about these ideas, and your thoughts about community, its difficulties and how to create more space for connection in our modern society! Dharma Night discussion happens this Friday night from 7:30-8:30pm. All welcome!

Yummy in the Tummy!!!!

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Sweet and Savory Chickpea Curry

 

Here is one of my favorite comfort foods for cold day where I’m craving something satisfying in my stomach.

 

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • mixed whole spices (fennel, coriander, black mustard seeds, cumin seeds)
  • 1 tbs ground garam masala
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 2 tbs of both garlic and ginger
  • 1 medium red/sweet onion chopped
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 3 medium carrots chopped
  • 1 head of cauliflower chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant chopped in ½ cubes
  • 2 red peppers chopped
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2-3 cups of stock (veggie or chicken)
  • 2 medium apples chopped
  • ¾ cup raisons
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 cups of love

 

note always feel free to substitute any local seasonal vegetables

 

Start by toasting the fennel, coriander, black mustard and cumin seeds in a frying pan with a dash of oil.  Toast until aromatic and mustard seeds begin to pop.  Remove from heat and grind in blender or mortor and pestal.

Soak chickpeas for 24-36hrs rinsing with cold water daily to germinate the legume.  Then boil in water until desired tenderness is achieved.   Set aside.

In a large soup pot heat oil, and add garlic and ginger.   Next add onion, mixed ground spices, curry powder, ground pepper, and garam masala.  Cook 5 min or until onions turn slightly translucent.   Option here if you eat meat to add chopped chicken breast or meat of your choice.   Next add Carrots and Cauliflower cook for 10 min stirring occasionally.  Now add eggplant and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Now add both the coconut milk and broth for a soupier consistency.   Bring to simmer and reduce heat.  Next add the apples and raisons.   Finally add the red pepper and reduce eat to min.  Let the pot mingle for at least an hour on lowest heat.   Add salt and pepper (maybe even a dash of brown sugar) to taste.

 

Serve with brown basmati rice

 

Enjoy!!!

 

The Healing Art of Thai Yoga Massage

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The Healing Art of Thai Yoga Massage

Sean O’Leary RYT-200

 

There is so much more to Thai Massage than massage. As with any healing art, there must be a strong passion present for the transmission to really impact the recipient.  Thai Yoga Massage uses Metta, or loving kindness, as its main source of inspiration.  When I began to study this practice I was always amazed that no matter what specific massage techniques were used, the recipient always left the session with a pervading sense of bliss, relaxation and a deep connection to the subtle (energetic) body.  I knew I had to continue my studies so that I could provide the benefits of this wonderful healing system to others.

I traveled to Bahamas to study at the Sivinanda Yoga Ashram with world-renowned Thai Yoga Massage teacher Kam Thye Chow.  It was such an honour to learn from a great master like Kam Thye.  Just as a yoga practice is a very individual system formed to work for the practitioner, it is the same for Thai Massage.  Each session is modified to benefit the needs and capabilities of the recipient.  As Thai Massage is just gaining popularity in the West, I am excited share this tradition and spread the healing properties of Metta to whoever will receive it.

I am often asked, “What is thai massage?”  Honestly, it is a difficult answer to put into words, because just like yoga poses or systems, there are thousands of variations. Not to mention, any one description seems inadequate to describe the overall feeling of ease, comfort and relaxation that occurs in a session!

I can say that Thai Yoga Massage is a healing modality that must be experienced to fully appreciate.  By blending yoga postures (asana), meditation, and the Buddhist philosophy of Metta (loving kindness), Thai Yoga Massage always seems to accomplish a healing and relaxed state.  It incorporates gentle stretching, breath work, traction, and compression, rhythmic motion, palming and thumbing along energy lines (sen lines and marma points), creating a slow flowing dance which leaves recipients feeling rejuvenated and relaxed.  This synthesis of yoga, ayurveda, and meditation, in addition to toning and stretching the muscles, improves circulation, relieves muscular tension and spasm, boosts the immune system, and balances the body both energetically and physically inducing and calm mental state.

 

The transmission of Metta is one of the most important parts of Thai Yoga Massage.   We have all experienced Metta at some point in our lives: consider a time when you shared a meal prepared with love and the best ingredients (also grown with love) and shared with friends, compared with a quick meal you order at a fast food restaurant – a huge difference! Or consider receiving a handcrafted gift made especially for you compared to a gift card for a big box store.  There is a huge difference in the quality or substance of things done with the heart!

 

Although Thai Massage is mainly practiced throughout Thailand and south east Asia, its roots can be traced back to the ayurvedic practices of ancient India.  The spread of Buddhism can be thanked for transmitting Thai Massage to thousands of temples (wats) in a vast amount of countries and cultures.  This means that today there are thousands of “spices,” or styles and variations, being practiced around the world.

So whether you call it Thai Massage, Laos Massage, Cambodian Massage, for the most part we could call them all ancient massage as they all take from the same lineage.

Jivaka Kumbarbhaka is said to be the founding father of Thai Yoga Massage, bringing his ayurvedic practices to temples throughout Asia.  He was called to treat kings, princes, and even the Buddha himself.  No wonder this wise sage would incorporate yoga asana from India into his healing massages!

Experience the numerous healing benefits of Thai Yoga Massage for yourself. I now run my practice every Friday evening from 4pm -9pm at Kushala Yoga and Wellness in Port Moody. I also offer my services in the comfort of your own home.

Have a specific condition or area you would like to emphasize? I work with a diversity of clients and can modify my approach and techniques, customizing the massage for each client.  Often I include some asana (yoga poses) recommendations to help with any tightness or energetic blockages I may have noticed during the session.

Because fall is a time when we all need a little extra love, stress release and healthy habits, I am currently offering a few promotions to help you experience the benefits of Thai Yoga Massage. Call, text or email your questions, or to book your session!

  • First 1 hour massage: $50.00
  • Referral Benefits:  Refer 4 people and receive a FREE massage
  • Package Deal:  5 – 1 hour sessions for $300.00 (massage only)
  • Thai Yoga Therapy Program: 5- 1 hour sessions including consultation for $350.00

 

Thai Yoga Therapy Program:

 

This wellness program is a more in-depth look at therapy for the client.  The 5-session program will introduce the ancient healing system of Ayurveda into daily life in a gradual and nonintrusive way that invites individuals to establish their own long-term wellness goals.  Beginning with an initial consultation, we will establish the client’s prakriti (ayurvedic dosha or “constitution”), as well as any potential imbalances.   Progressively recommending yoga postures, ayurvedic nutrition guidelines, and lifesyle tips to include in daily life, this approach provides an opportunity to get to know my clients on a deeper level over time and modify my massage approach each session to bring the most healing.  Each follow-up session will shine light on weekly progress and truly address any imbalances.