7 Pounds Lost in 5 Days

13 06 2012

And so begins week 25 of my switch to a (mostly) plant based diet with increased exercise in an attempt to lose weight and get healthy. After 6 months, I’m down nearly 70 pounds. The last month or so has been a terrible struggle for me. I went off the rails for a little while and at one point gained about 11 pounds before shedding most of it. But the gaining can happen so quickly and the shedding is an awful lot harder. What I can gain in a few days, takes weeks to take off again. And a lot of the time what further complicates things is that I’m just not disciplined enough. I’m spread very thin with work, family and other endeavors and I don’t make enough time to exercise. I’m working at getting better with this.

Lately I’ve been trying acupuncture as a way to help get me through this plateau that I’ve been stuck on. I’ve also been incorporating some Chinese root tea and other medicinal supplements. It all tastes like dirt and bark to me but I’ve managed to lose 7 pounds in 5 days following the prescribed regiment – on my doctor’s scale anyway. That’s a whole separate issue. How the doc’s scale can vary so much from mine is a great and frustrating mystery to me. But as long as both scales are moving in the same direction, I’m happy.

My acupuncture sessions have been amazing. Despite often having a very unquiet mind at the start of the sessions, by the end I am in a near dream state. I really feel like these sessions take me places. I’m talking otherworldly here. Maybe they are just taking me deeper inside my self. Either way they are fantastically peaceful. During my last session, I felt energy traveling up and down my legs and through my gut. It was amazing. I felt like a living energy super highway. That’s not overstating the feeling either. I guess it is my energy meridians opening up. Really an amazing experience. This is how the healing begins. I’m so very excited for what the future holds in store for me on this journey.

A Little Inspiration

1 06 2012





9 05 2012

Positive self-affirmation of the day. Need to keep saying it. Need to believe it….



17 04 2012

Let me live among passionate people! It doesn’t matter if its a passion to make it as an actor, get a promotion or land a dream job. Maybe its a passion to become a renowned photographer, grow the largest tomatoes or to be the best at Parcheesi. It doesn’t matter what it is, the drive is the exact same.

Let me be around people who enjoy life. People who savor each and every moment. People who reach to obtain the seemingly unattainable. People who are perpetually on fire with excitement.

Let me be near strong, resilient people so that when I fall they will be there to remind me that I have to pick myself up and get back on track. Let me know people brave enough to walk through the fear and the pain in their lives. People who persevere long after the rest of us would pack it in. People who have the physical and emotional scars of life but recognize that in these experiences they have discovered their strength.

Let me know emotional people who truly “feel” life. Let me know men who can cry. People who can connect and empathize. Let them be close at hand for the times when I find myself disconnecting from life around me. For the times when I feel disconnected from myself.

When I check out, I want to know that I did a little bit of everything and that I did it as well as I was able. That I put pieces of me into everything I did and that I did it with pride and passion and love. That I butted up against every wall in front of me and tried my best to break through. That the times I met wih failure, I learned from it and did not give up. That time and time again, I surpassed my own expectations which I had set for myself. That in obtaining what I had sought, I appreciated it fully but was only momentarily complacent – wanting to strive further. That my life was interesting to me. That I lived the life I wanted to live and not the one that others expected I should live. That I had a little bit of passion in every aspect of it. That I did some good while I was here while minimizing harm to others. That when I did harm, people found it in themselves to forgive me. That those who truly knew me, didn’t judge me but saw me for the person I was. That I was able to see others in this same way. That I saw things not in black and white but in shades of grey.

Life is hard and its short. I just want to be able to say when my spirit separates from my body that I took the life that was given to me and I used it to its fullest. That for all of the times that I pissed my time away, there were more instances where I used it for something worthwhile. That after some years of stagnation, I finally stood up and inherited my destiny. That I actually LIVED.

Then I will rest peacefully.

An Interview with Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh

20 03 2012

Early in my college experience I became aware of the thought provoking teachings of  Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned Vietnamese  Zen Buddhist master, an author, poet and teacher.   Having published over 100 books and having been featured in many films,Thich Nhat Hanh is an extremely important figure in the ongoing development of Western Buddhism and likewise in the growth of  Buddhism throughout the world.  In 1967, he was nominated by Martin Luther King for the Nobel Peace Prize.  He continues to this day to advocate for peace and write extensively about ways to reduce anger and fear both in the world and in our own lives.

My initial introduction to the work of Thich Nhat Hanh came through way of a meditation audio tape entitled “Touching The Earth” which generally focuses on gratitude, mindfulness and coming to peace with some of life’s difficulties.  I don’t remember where I picked it up but I have always had a copy close at hand since initially listening to it.  This sometimes poorly recorded talk and meditation inspired me so much at the time that I began making copies for many people I thought might find it beneficial.  I remember listening to a portion of it with my brother while we were driving one night.  After listening to the main section of it, he said that in minutes what he had heard was more powerful than anything he had learned through our many years in Sunday school and in church.  I agreed that much of what a person could benefit from spirituality and emotionally could be found here on this short tape.  It encapsulated so much into a very short mindfulness mediation.  Years later I would buy it on CD and mp3 just so that I would always have it nearby .  This work (and a few others) became the initial jumping off point for me into the world of Buddhism.  And in more recent times I have enjoyed his very voluminous biography of the Buddha as well as his books on Christianity and Buddhism and the power of prayer.  The teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh are timeless.  They  are far reaching over broad spectrums of people with diverse beliefs, backgrounds and experiences.  I find them truly relevant in helping to solve some of the most vexing problems of today.

It is with this in mind that I reached out in early February to the students of Plum Village in southern France where Thich Nhat Hanh resides when he is not traveling , in hopes that they would help facilitate a short interview with him on the proper mental states of eating and dieting.  I recently received word by email that the students had brought my questions to their teacher  and had transcribed Thich Nhat Hanh’s answers for me.  I am very thankful for their willingness to do this for me.  The following is a selection from that communication.  (Some very minor edits have been performed for continuity purposes and greater ease of comprehension) :

JS: I have recently adopted a plant based diet as a way of trying to naturally reverse some health problems.  Historically I have had a poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle.  When eating, what should be my proper state of mind?

TNH: We are very happy to read and to know your effort to live healthier.  When we eat here, we maintain our mindfulness, in contact with the people around.  (We) eat in such a way that the happiness and joy can be maintain(ed) during the whole time of eating.   We also eat in a way so we can build brotherhood and sisterhood, to nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.

JS:  Are there any other eating practices at Plum Village that westerners could adopt?

TNH: We would like to invite you to come and eat with us, this is the best explanation we can give you.

JS: When faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge (in my case losing a tremendous amount of weight) how is it best to proceed? (Here I was again thinking of mental states but perhaps my question was not worded artfully enough and so I was given a literal answer which is still very good advice and probably timely considering my fixation on losing weight as quickly as I can)

TNH: Corcerning loosing weight, likely we need to do it slowly so the body will adapt to it slowly.  If you do it too quick then it will create a shock for you(r) body.


Reflecting on the answer to the first question has been interesting.  I think of how often I consume food just to consume it.  The monks at Plum Village though see it as an opportunity to “break bread” and be present in community with one  another.  I think that here in the west we often miss out on a lot of that.  I think of  my own meals and how I am often not fully present with those around me.  With the exception of going out to lunch with my brother once every month or two, every single lunch at work is a working one.  When I work late, the dinners are this way too.  When I work early, so are the breakfasts.  These are solitary experiences, spent in front of a computer monitor, often not giving much thought to what I am eating or how I am eating it.   For meals at home, you can frequently find me on my smart phone or with my head buried in a magazine or newspaper.  Even as I type this, I have eaten my dinner alone at the computer.  Not only alone, I have yet again failed to concentrate on eating at all but rather on typing.  Not very mindful, yet done while typing an interview about being more mindful.  Ironic.  It reminds me of the ancient saying “ideas like a horse and a mind like a monkey.”  Habits are hard to break….

Well now I need to figure out how I’m getting to France.  How amazing would that be?

Many thanks to Thich Nhat Hahn and the monks at Plum Village for their time and wisdom.  What a great honor and joy.

The CD/mp3 of “Touching the Earth”can be found through Sounds True or itunes among others.  I can’t recommend it enough. Thich Nhat Hanh’s books can be found at booksellers everywhere.

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