Today was a day filled with children and activities definitely outside my comfort zone. Today the Community Association held its Winter Carnival. Today I played with children of all ages. Some were three and some were eleven and the others were all the ages in-between.
Yes, I helped out at the colouring contest table sponsored by the Ogden Seniors 50+ Activity Club. We had a multitude of Christmas pictures to colour, crayons, and prizes to be won. The kids lined up at our table excited to spend a few minutes shading stockings, wreaths, and Christmas trees with the waxy crayons. A chance to win a five dollar McDonalds gift card was an easy enticement for many of the young people tagging along behind their Mom or Dad as they wandered from booth to booth. Alone in their zone, they chatted quietly about their schools, their ages, their siblings and in some cases current world events. “Yes, I am good with colour and drawing”, “My favourite colour is pink”, “I don’t live around here”. One young artist didn’t want to enter the colouring contest, he knew he wouldn’t be back this way again. Another so intent on her art, didn’t say a word. Quietly, she slid the crayons back and forth transforming the white paper to green, yellow and red.
The carnival, so much more than our little colouring corner tucked into the back of the hall. It is a gathering place. A place where old friends can reconnect after months or years of not seeing each other. I ran into a young woman I hadn’t seen is 10 or more years. I knew her as a cashier at Safeway working part time while in high school. It took me a few moments to shake off my past image of her and accept a new one. So grown up now. She has two children and is the imaginative creator of unique candy bouquets. This event is a hub where local entrepreneurs set up business for an afternoon, hand out their business cards in the hope of a future sale or commission. Where home based artisans can share their artistry, adding to the vibrancy of our community. The hall was filled with the soothing scents of peppermint soaps, chocolate arrangements, and the sharp aroma of herbal oils. My eyes were treated to the sparkle of semi precious stones strung into bracelets and necklaces, and the bright warm colours of knitted winter hats and scarves.
Christmas carols hung on the air and kids acted out their favourite Christmas messages on the 80 year old auditorium stage. The floorboards creaked as a Taekwondo team kicked and jabbed their way through their sparring program. Little girls dressed in mukluks, their faces painted as Hello Kitty, turned and twirled as they worked to figure out the hula hoop moves so easily managed by the older more flexible teenage girls.
The Calgary Multicultural Orchestra treated everyone to a selection Christmas songs including winter wonderland, jingle bells and the first Nowell. (that is how it was written on the sheet music) A beautiful and inspiring arrangement brought the sound of Christmas to our hearts.
At the end of the day everyone had fun, Christine and I tried our own hands at colouring, and four young aspiring artists won gift cards worth the price of a McDonalds Happy Meal.
December 2016 Cheryle
The question of when to meditate can be answered with a quick “whenever you can”. However that is an answer easier said than put into practice. In an ideal world our lives would have sufficient unencumbered time to do everything we want, when we want to do it. Today, that is hardly the case, we rush, from waking through the day keeping up with all of our obligations until we fall into bed at night and hopefully a restful sleep. With all of this busyness, when do we find time to create and maintain a meditation practice?
We have all been told how important it is to meditate daily. The benefits are well documented, the reduction in stress, anxiety, an increase in a calm wellbeing and the achievement of a tranquility we cannot obtain any other way. What wonderful attributes to aspire to. Unfortunately, aspiration alone does not bring about peace of mind. We have to exercise our intent through consistency, determination, confidence and patience.
Deciding to meditate or setting the goal to meditate daily is the very first step to creating a successful practice. Bringing that decision to fruition involves all of the steps we normally follow in order to accomplish any endeavour we undertake.
How long will you meditate? 5 minutes 3 times a day, 15 minutes, 1/2 hour an hour? How long do you want to meditate, how much time can you dedicate to meditation? How much time will offer you the benefits you are looking to cultivate? Once you determine how long you want to meditate make that an agreement you keep with yourself.
Decide when the best time would be for you to meditate. Does your lifestyle offer you the opportunity to meditate at the same time in the same place every day? Some people prefer to begin their day with a quiet meditation practice to gather their energy before facing the chaos. Others find that calming the mind before bed works wonders for a deep restful sleep. Would taking time during the middle of the day recharge and refresh you, make your more alert for your work and business?
Answering the when question occasionally involves answering the where question. Where can you meditate during your day? There are many opportunities during the day, many places that offer the quiet time needed to meditate in your room at home, your office, the bathroom at work, while waiting for a Doctors appointment, as a passenger in a car, taxi, on a bus,
or in the park outside your office at lunch.
Granted the Doctors office is not the optimal place to meditate, however it can offer you a quiet time to slow down during a day that is running on fast forward. Rarely do patients talk to each other while waiting to discuss their personal health concerns with the Doctor. You don’t need to sit in the lotus position. Quietly, sit in the waiting room chair, close your eyes and begin your practice. I usually keep my sunglasses on. Nobody even knows my eyes are closed. Set an alarm on your phone and place it in your pocket, it will silently alert you when the appropriate time has elapsed, without alerting anyone else.
While creating your meditation practice you may wish to consider if you prefer to meditate on your own, with a group or a combination of the two choices. Each option has it advantages. Give yourself the opportunity to attend a group meditation at one of your local meditation centres. See how meditating with others may expand and enrich your own private practice.
Be diligent and consistent in your effort. Return each day to your practice. Sit for the agreed time. Maintain your focus on your chosen object, gently bring your mind back when it wanders off to finish the shopping list, or think about that email you need to send to a colleague.
Follow the teachings you have been taught, give yourself time to develop and grow within your practice. Understand there will be days you will be frustrated, your mind won’t cooperate. It will open a multitude of doors, releasing all sorts of thoughts and images to crowd out any attempt at calm. Be patient. There will also be days when your concentration will be like a sharp knife you steadily hold on the object of your focus. Recognize and be aware of these small victories they will build your determination to continue, your confidence in yourself.
Be determined not to give in to procrastination, laziness, or other attempts to avoid your practice. Our mind can play many tricks on us in an effort to lure us away from meditation. Meditation is a way for us to exert control over our mind, over our emotions. It is a way to rein in the chaotic or looping thoughts. Our Ego doesn’t want this, it wants to be in charge, allowed to do whatever it desires with emotional abandon all the while wrecking havoc on our lives. Each time you overcome an obstacle to your practice you strengthen your confidence. Honour yourself – Keep your promise to yourself meditate everyday.
Be confident in your ability to continue, have faith in yourself. Practice daily. Step by step your initial attempts will become an anticipated and appreciated daily habit. You will overcome any barrier you may place in your path.
Be patient. The benefits won’t be noticeable right away. It will take time to build your practice and to see the positive results. Your friends and family may recognize the benefits before you do. Keep at it. Little by little you will become calm and experience more of the beauty in life.
Only you can experience your practice, reap its benefits, overcome the challenges. Only you can appreciate your effort and only you can know when is the best time for you to meditate. The first step is to decide to do it and then follow through.
Bring harmony into your life, begin your practice.
Your meditation chair or cushion awaits you.
Cheryle, October 2016
Orientation Day is coming and as usual I become more excited with each day counting. I volunteer as an Assistant Meditation Instructor for Willpower Institute North America, a non-profit organization that specializes in teaching Samatha Meditation. Samatha meditation is the technique used by the Forest Monks of Thailand to achieve tranquility and gain wisdom.
Each year, the six month Free Meditation Instructors Course begins with Orientation Day when the Venerable Meditation Master from Thailand, PhraDhammongolayarn Viriyang Sirantharo , speaks to new students about the 6 month course he developed as a way to achieve his vision of world peace. True to the heart of a Buddhist Monk, Luangphor does not require anyone to pay to attend the course.
Luangphor, the loving honourific by which we call PhraDhammongolayarn, is 96 and has been an ordained Monk since he was a young man of 20. It took him 20 years to translate his meditation experiences into the three text books, which form the basis of the theory portion of the course. In addition to instruction in theory, the course includes the practice of walking and sitting meditation.
Meditation increases one’s mind power which ultimately allows the meditator to exact control over the emotions, to maintain a distance from the everyday drama and chaos. It nurtures the mind, gives it the space to remember it’s true nature is love and compassion. Getting beyond the looping thoughts, past the stress of anger, resentment and greed, brings about a peace of mind that enables the meditator to move through daily life with ease and contentment. It helps to improve sleep, decision making, personal and business relationships and brightens cognitive activity.
Willpower Meditation Centres are also located in: CANADA: ALBERTA: Edmonton, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Vancouver, ONTARIO – Kanata , Richmond Hill & Niagara Falls UNITED STATES: TEXAS – Houston & Dallas, CALIFORNIA – Los Angeles. THAILAND : there are over 100 branches in Thailand. New centres have recently opened or are planned to open soon in a number of European countries, in China and in India.
I invite you to join me September 3rd at 7248 -25th St. S.E., Calgary to see for yourself how this simple meditation technique can benefit you. Click here to Register for Calgary Meditation Instructors Course 2016
Cheryle – August 2, 2016
I thought this is so very pertinent in 2016, I just had to share it.
An unusual event took place in the Ogden House auditorium on May 5th, 2016. For those members sitting in the lounge at the time, they heard and felt a rumbling never before experienced at the club. What could it be?
A drum circle, of course.
As we arrived, each of us looked around the auditorium, skeptically, and wondered what had we gotten ourselves into? The chairs were arranged in a large circle with a drum sitting in front of each spot. Jamie Gore, a Drum Circle Facilitator with Circles of Rhythms, greeted us and invited us to select a seat and a drum. There were colourful Cuban Tubanos, shapely Djembes, and graceful Frame drums, all waiting to release their voices with just a touch from a drummer.
Each drum style, is unique in the way it looks, the sound it makes and in the way it is played.
The Djembe, a goblet shaped drum from West Africa, is held between the legs, and is tilted slightly forward to allow the voice of the drum to escape through the bottom of its hollow body. The drummer beats the drum skin with their open hands or the drum rim with their fingers.
The community drum and the frame drums are used to keep the beat and set the pace for all the other drums. Historically, the frame drum is believed to have been styled after the original drum, which was developed from the grain sieves used by ancient agricultural communities.
As the short hour flew by, everyone had an opportunity to try out each style of drum, and to play one of the percussion instruments which had been laid out on the floor in the centre of the circle.
We drummed for ourselves, we drummed for each other, and we drummed for those fleeing the fires in the north. We energized our bodies, our minds, we played with our hearts and our spirits. The room vibrated and bounced to the sounds we made. Our faces broke out in smiles, our feet tapped in rhythm while our arms beat in time to each other.
I had a drumming good time and look forward to the next drum circle, but from the looks on the faces of the members sitting in the lounge as we left, the next circle will need more chairs and more drums.
Cheryle – May 2016
Originally published in the Ogden House 50+ Seniors Activity Club – June Newsletter
The topic for this post was suggested by one of the members at the Ogden Seniors 50+ Activity Club for publication in the April Newsletter . I delayed posting it here until after the newsletter had been printed and distributed. At the end of the post is a list of the articles I read as part of my research. I hope this is the proper format. I’m not a doctor or homeopath or any such person and want to make sure that my research is available for any one who wishes to check it out for themselves.
TURMERIC: TRUE GOLD
Put spice in your life and reap amazing rewards. You can improve your health and wellbeing.
Turmeric, a rhizome native to India, has taken centre stage in the healing and wellness arena. It has the ability to positively affect more than 160 different physiological pathways, able to cross the blood-brain barrier, and is able to make your cells more orderly
Historically, turmeric was used as a flavour enhancer, preservative, and a food colourant in India, South East Asia and Africa. Not only yummy it is beautiful too. Due to its golden yellow colour it has been called gold. It’s widely believed many of the ancient references to gold actually refer to turmeric, not to the soft yellow metal. Considered to be a holy spice for millennia, turmeric has been used in many religious rituals and ceremonies. Thousands of years ago, Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners began to utilize and prescribe turmeric for a wide variety of ailments, including stomach, respiratory, blood and inflammation disorders, and to treat ulcers and wounds.
Today, scientists, researchers and big pharma are all investigating the healing and preventative properties of curcumin and turmerone, two of the bioactive ingredients found in Turmeric. Curcumin, the more widely studied ingredient, has been found to have anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-spasmodic, anti-flatulent, anti-microbial and anti-mutagenic properties. Turmerone, a volatile oil, has protective and regenerative properties. Wow! These are just a few of turmeric’s qualities discovered, so far.
Studies report chronic inflammation is at the root of many illnesses and diseases, including heart ailments, rheumatism, and oral health. Curcumin and other ingredients found in turmeric have demonstrated anti-inflammatory action, which reduces the pain and inflammation associated with certain types of arthritis. This promises an effective treatment for illnesses in which inflammation is either a precursor or primary symptom.
Of its’ many properties, the two most specifically exciting are turmeric’s neuroprotective and anti-carcinogenic effects. Good news for anyone who has witnessed the degenerative ravages Alzheimer’s disease or has first-hand experience with such cancers as colon, breast, and leukaemia.
Recent research has determined that in addition to anti-oxidant properties, turmeric inhibits the accumulation of the destructive amino acid peptides which form the sticky plaques that are indicative of Alzheimer’s disease.
Due to a process called apoptosis, in which cells literally commit suicide, Turmeric helps to inhibit the growth of abnormal cells which prevents the rapid reproduction of cancerous cells.
Turmeric, on its own is difficult to absorb into the body, therefore, unless prescribed or taken by supplement, make the most of Turmeric in your cooking by heating it, eating it with piperine – an ingredient in black pepper or with healthy fats such as Virgin Olive Oil or Coconut oil.
In conclusion, Turmeric is a versatile spice with a long history as a trusted remedy for a wide variety of ailments. I suggest you look into the benefits of turmeric. Talk to your doctor, your homeopath, or healthcare practitioner.
References: include but are not limited to:
Turmeric: Doctors Say This Spice Is a Brain Health Miracle – from live in now Joshua Corn, Editor-in-Chief
-Turmeric and Curcumin: Biological actions and Medicinal Applications – Chattopadhyay, Ishita; Kaushik Biswas; Uday Bandyopadhayay; Ranajit K. Banerjee. Current Science (Indian Academy of Sciences) ISSN 0011-3891.
-Role of Curcumin in systemic and Oral Health: An Overview – Nagpa M. Sood S. 3 Nat Sc Biol Med 2013:4:3-7 http://www.jnsbm.org/text.asp(2013/4/1/3/107253
Turmeric: How to Whiten Your Teeth – fitlife.tv/benefits-turmeric
This is A Must Read before Ever Using turmeric Again – Feb 22, 2016 – Healthy food House – http://www.healthyfoodhouse.com/this-is-a-must-read-before-ever-using-turmeric-again/
Turmeric – Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia
April 2016 – Cheryle