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Is Yoga Meditation

This is a common question. No. No. No, is the simple answer. But it can be combined. Yoga in its purest form is a form of physical exercise. The combination with spiritualism came later. So, can it be? That is the real question. Asana is supposed to prepare the body for meditation by getting rid of restlessness or muscular tension. When I practice I will focus on 15 min meditation, 30 min yoga, and another 15 min of meditation. This allows me to turn my focus away from work and turn my focus inward, maybe transition with more energetic breathing to asanas, then wind down with a body scan and quiet savasana. I know it sounds strange. For me, I define myself as a realist. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t look inward to center myself. To provide a real grounding. A friend of mine. She was very dear (and still is) introduced me to it. Had we not been close I would have brushed her off without giving it much thought. An event that would have left me very unhappy in life. She introduced me to Kriya Yoga. She showed me at first and then I went on to teach myself from there. I executed the kriyas incorrectly, I began experiencing serious mental consequences, such as very basic psychosis; unsurprisingly, the book warned readers of this, which is why it also strongly advised seeking out a teacher before assuming this form of yoga. I am now a student of someone whom I consider has walked the path much, much further than I. My teacher advises against sharing these techniques. From personal experience, seeing to the fact the mental damage it had done to me while performing certain techniques without supervision of a teacher, I know it is wiser to not entice anyone to perform them. Kriya Yoga is considered yoga focused on creating mental action or “kriyas”. It is like creating a hurricane of mental power, and it becomes like fire, and burns through levels of thoughts. Paramhamsa Yogananda is famous for having introduced this form of yoga in the United States in the first-half of the 1900s. For what it’s worth, I can say I never knew I would be involved with the things I currently am regarding yoga and meditation.
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Standing Like A Post: Zhan Zhuang

  For me a session needs to have a balanced blend of meditation and yoga. Or some other form of physical exercise. Physical work and vigorous exercise should be part of your training, and this can be performed just before sittings so your body will be more comfortable and you will appreciate the cooler conditions. Some yoga meditation centers will keep their rooms warmer. They tend to focus more on relaxation than on vigor, although the distinction is not black-and-white, and you’ll find variations among all styles. In the winter I often move to Zhan Zhuang. The cold will not have any negative side-effects on your meditation, not at all. I actually prefer meditating in a cooler place, because I think it helps keep me alert. But when sitting in the cold you should protect the vulnerable areas that can be easily penetrated by cold. When you meditate in the cold make sure to cover your upper back and the back of your neck, up to the base of your skull. This spot is notorious in Chinese Medicine as a place where wind and cold easily enter the body and create sickness. Keep your lower back well protected. Even if you don’t want to wear many layers on the rest of your body, the kidney area just below the ribs should be kept warm and protected against drafts. Although cold may not penetrate as easily there, the repercussions are more serious if it does. I once got a kidney infection by being exposed to the IL winter. When I later learned that this area is seen as the deep energy storage for the body, and its weakness is cold; protecting it became a priority to help prevent the kind of deep exhaustion and illness that otherwise can occur in winter. Cover your knees or wear thicker pants or warmers. The knees are another gateway where cold can enter, and they are connected to the deep storage area around the kidneys. As large joints they also don’t have as much blood supply circulating through them, so the joints themselves become vulnerable to injury. If it’s cold enough to warrant it, you may want to wear a hat, as some monks do. Zhan zhuang standing practice in Qigong can heat your body up very quickly, and can train your ability to allow flow within minutes; and flow means circulation, which means warmth.
Zhàn zhuāng, literally: “standing like a post“, is a training method often practiced by students of neijia (internal kung fu), such as Yiquan, Xing Yi Quan, Bagua Zhang and Taiji Quan. Zhan Zhuang is sometimes translated Standing-on-stake, Standing Qigong, Standing Like a Tree, Post-standing, Pile-standing, or Pylon Standing. It is commonly called a form of Qigong, despite the differences from other Qigong methods in Zhan zhuang’s orientation.
This is possible within a few weeks or months of standing practice, depending on your body and aptitude. This is useful because when we stay active outdoors; the body adapts to cold. It is even practiced here in the West. We just don’t realize it. By repeatedly exposing the body briefly to deep cold encourages cellular energy generation known as mitochondria activity. You can observe this with lumberjacks, who, may plunge their hands, feet, and face into snow to develop long-term resistance to cold, and some folks do regular plunges in cold baths or even icy lakes.
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Why Do You Love To Cook?

The joy of a home cooked meal. There is something about it. I can’t tell you exactly what it is, why it means so much to me, or what it means to you. All I can clearly say is that it is not something that I really appreciated until it was gone. My mother can cook. And while we didn’t live on a far, suburban Chicago still knows how to bake an apple pie. For me, cooking is freedom, meditation, and a treat. It’s good for clearing my mind after a long day. I don’t get to cook at home nearly as much as I would like, but when I do I feel right at home. I also find great satisfaction in efficient prep, kitchen chemistry and resetting the space ready for next time. It is easy if you are motivated. But as my friends say: “why would I want to spend time cooking.” If you want to enjoy cooking, and I mean really enjoy it, you need to start out with something that is rewarding to you. Something that you like to eat when you are out because it is too much effort to make it yourself. Learn to master your favorite foods first. This will give you more knowledge than you will first realize. Whether that something readily available like pizza it doesn’t matter. You can always make a better pizza than you can buy. You simply need to practice. And who doesn’t like eating their practice? As you become more experienced and you optimize/organize you kitchen/tools/food storage abilities, it will become less of a chore and become easier and easier. Knowledge of food safety is also important. I am amazed when one of my friends will tell me they aren’t feeling well. That is what happens when you leave your takeout out for days before finishing it off. I am thoroughly amazed that none of them have come down with a nasty case of food poisoning. Use good ingredients. Even when you are getting started. It will be so much more rewarding. When you know how to cook, you can make food that’s better tasting, healthier, and more affordable than what you can get at a typical restaurant (even when you splurge on the really expensive ingredients). What’s not to love? Everyone needs to eat, but compliments are the best.
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Geo What?

It’s called Geocaching. And as you might have guessed it is a website, you can find it under http://www.geocaching.com/. My friends and I play it sometimes. The idea is sort of like treasure hunting. For me the added bonus is that I get to spend time with my friends doing something fun. On top of that I have gotten to see a lot of places that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen. The gist is that people create and hide varying size “caches” and then upload the GPS coordinates to a website. Others than download the coordinates onto a handheld GPS like you phone you don’t need much. Just some time to go out and find it. Sometimes there’s just a log you sign, other times people will leave stuff to take. You can also log your finds on the same website. To date my favorite find was a Backstreet Boys album and a picture of MacGuyver.
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When in Chicago Do As the Chicagoans Do

Urbs in Horto

I moved away from our lovely city of gardens when I went to college. It was a big adjustment at first and I missed my city deeply, but it was one of growth as well. Because of that I feel like I lived up to our/your city’s motto fairly well. But it is always a little bit bittersweet when I visit and I have to return “home.” Which is really home? I often encourage people to visit. For one, it is cheaper that some of the other big cities, and it has a lot to offer. A trip to Starved Rock state park is about an hour and a half outside of the city, but feels very remote. Do you get that when you travel to NYC? If you enjoy hiking, Midwest hiking (there is a distinction), it is a nice experience. You will be treated to some lovely canyons and waterfalls there. And check out Matthiessen State Park as well. It is smaller, it amounts to about a a mile long canyon, but it is a fun experience when walk through it. One thing that I have begun to notice when I got back is that you will encounter many European tourists. They enjoy traveling the Old Route 66 from Chicago to Springfield, Illinois, making it sort of a day trip. Some of the bigger towns along the way make a special effort to welcome them. There are several organizations that provide information. But that is far from everything. If you like history, you can go to the Cahokia Mounds in Colinsville and on the return trip stop in Springfield, IL to see some sites where President Lincoln lived. Another fun trip is going to Galena, Il which has lots of history and great architecture. But be warned, the downtown has turned into pretty much of a tourist trap with all the “ye olde” stores there.

Outside of Chicago?

Something in Wisconsin might interest you. In fact it is where Chicagoans go to escape the concrete jungle. It’s a two day trip but it is where you go to see the great outdoors. For example, if you are looking for a true hike, you will want to explore Devil’s Lake State Park. There are some pleasant trails there. and some awesome rock formations that are usually occupied by true climbers. Definitely worth a trip, and you can hike from 5 miles to 20 miles before heading back to the city in the same day. It’s about a 3 hour drive, and you could stop in Madison for the night (it’s the capital city of Wisconsin). The area has plenty to offer.
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The Price of Knowledge

Knowledge is free, all one needs to do is make the effort to read it. I read and write a lot, which brings me a lot of enjoyment – when I read, I both enjoy the book, and analyze it for “tips” on how to improve the way I write. It can really eat up your time. <- Pun I was eating dinner with some friends the other day, and we kind of agreed that everyone else in our lives just didn’t get why we were spending so much time on our hobbies. They will not stop asking us to do things with them because they knew we’d be busy with things we enjoy. Even when we spend time with each other on regular basis. So is life. Learn, love, live!
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Floppies

My boyfriend likes to collect comics. Sure it is seen as childish by some, who cares, it is his hobby. And it meant a lot to him to share that with me. But like a little kid he is collecting the newest issues when they come out. He calls them floppies. When he finds some that he likes he will end up getting them as trade paper back. I prefer hardcovers. When I learned that they also came out in hardback collections I stopped collecting the TPBs. For one thing hardbacks look better on the shelf. They are also easier to read, and they’re more durable and long-lasting. The down side? The wait is bad enough if you collect TPBs, but it’s even worse with hardcovers. Especially with Marvel. They often take way longer than they have to. Take the current Deadpool run, for example. The TPB of volume 4 (issues #20-25) was published June 2014. They could have printed the volume 2 oversized hardcover (with issues #13-25) at the exact same time. They delay the hardcover printing so that you’ll double dip. It’s a year later, and the volume 2 OHC is only just now getting published in a few weeks. Another point is that I find them more collectible. The more of something you have available, the less “in demand” it will become. While this may not b entirely true. Fewer copies of every isse are being printed. This has been going on since the late 90s in fact – there are also fewer copies of books printed – than just about any time since comic books became a thing. More comics are being sold however. In general once an item is seen/deemed a collectors item by the general public and they are easily obtainable the collect-ability of the item for profit goes down. There are exceptions to the rule of course but mass production and the general public saturation most will not hold any value. For the floppies that I do collect I bag, board, and put them in binder sheets. I place them in a 3 ring binder and stand them vertically.
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In Yoga Terms

I didn’t realize how much a desk job would take out of me. My dad worked his whole life in construction. When I say whole life I mean it. His father owned a company and so he was right there in the thick of it from a young age on. He had aches and pains. And yet it never occurred to me that I would also ache after work. My legs feel a little fatigued sometimes right after sitting. I’ve gotten into the habit of doing a few poses of yoga to help aide in getting the blood flowing going when this happens. But the same can happen if I meditate, too long. It was because for a long time I wasn’t really practicing meditation or yoga. What we westerners call yoga is mere the 3rd step out of the 8 steps in classical yoga — asana or posture. Asanas (physical postures) traditionally is to make the body healthy and stable for meditation, wherein the yogi would have the experiences of the higher states of consciousness and eventually become enlightened. Even though westerners don’t actually believe in enlightenment, they found that the yoga poses – based on the yoga system of body energy – gives excellent results in terms of creating peace and health in the human body. For excample, studies have proven that yoga is more beneficial in reducing anxiety than other forms of exercise. The term yoga has meant union or yoking the individual consciousness with the experience of the entire universe. A yogi was one who had accomplished this union or at the very least was aspiring to it and using a systematic method of accomplishing his aim. A yogi named Paramahansa Yogananda came to the West in 1920 and wrote the Autobiography of a Yogi which became quite well known and inspired the careers of many well known yoga teachers. Classical yoga has spirituality as its base, which many of us are allergic to. I was pretty skeptical myself in the beginning, but through the yoga methods they taught I learned to prove to myself the value of these systems in a step-by-step systematic way. The organization he started explains the classical purpose of yoga here and goes deeper into explaining the eight steps of yoga. A good yoga set will get you closer a meditative state. You can meditate during yoga. But when you practice yoga first, it warms up the spine and quiets the mind. Stillness includes movement and movement includes stillness. The stillness of meditation requires a certain kind of circulation, an ease of body-and-mind. It can be quite difficult to focus on meditation while also doing yoga. I found it took me about 4 months of practice (doing yoga every other day) before I was physically adapted enough to be able to perform the poses without getting flustered, out-of-breath, etc. and I was then able to focus more on ujjayi breathing and drishti and be able to have a good meditation session while doing yoga postures. Classically, yoga is primarily focused on meditation, and asana is just a good preparation for that.