Introduction to Insight Meditation

Hello fellow bloggers,

Today I stumbled upon a series of 6 videos by Rodney Smith of the Seattle Insight Meditation Society. For quite a while now I have been curious as to what real results and or states of relaxation could be reached through meditation, so i decided to give the first video a watch. Part way through the first class, I was instantly taken in by the philsophy, science and art of the experience he was describing. I attempted meditation before and experienced a tiny bit of the calming effect.  But it was only today that I decided that I would aspire to make meditation a regular part of my life.

The first video really gives you an introduction to some of the expectations to have when beginning the practice of meditation.  Smith does an excellent job explaining how you only get out of it what you put in, and that it is an art form not to get right right away, but one that takes time and patience (another characteristic meditation will enhance). All I can say is everything Smith described about meditation promises to enhance your experience and understanding of yourself and your life, and allow you to live in the moment instead of the go-go-go mentality. For me the idea that we live in fast-forward and not the present,– to the notion of retraining your mind to experience every second of your life, without feeling like it is passing you by– really resonate with me.  I do shift work in the mental health field and certain days I am so caught up in my 6 appointments that I often could not recall what I was doing between appoiintments, or tell you the day of the week.  I instantly recognized how much of my time is spent preoccupied with schedules and ordinary routines, and how little time is spent enjoying the pure spirit of the moment.

To get you started Smith recommends an affordable meditation pillow set ($40-50) and a book which is also affordable($10-15)– both are optional. Smith suggests using pillows you have at home if they are comfortable enough for you and doesn’t deem it necessary to buy the equipment at all. Its your call.

So I leave you with that. He does an excellent job at explaning the philosophy behind this insight meditation and how it will alter your perception of the world– I could not speak to it as precisely as he does so I’ve posted a link to the video serie4s below. They are available for free, but you are able to make a donation at your descretion.

Introduction to Insight Meditation


Radicchio and Avocado Salad

I concocted a quick and nutritious recipe this evening for my supper. I Just thought I would start sharing the recipes I come up with. I try to use all organic vegetables but will substitute with non-organic when there is not other option.

No picture for this one–sorry! It was so delicious, by the time I decided to post the recipe I had finished the salad.

Radicchio and Avocado Salad

Combine the ingredients in the order listed:

~ 7-10 Radicchio leaves
~ 2-3 TSP balsamic vinegar
~ 1-2 TSP extra virgin olive oil
~ 1 clove finely chopped garlic
~ 1 full red/orange Sweet Peppers
~ half ripe avocado
~ 5-6 slices English cucumber
~ half serving of chopped almonds
~ sprinkle lightly with grated Parmesan cheese

511 calories*14g fiber, 14g protein.

45 calories (balsamic vinegar), 4 calories (garlic), 120 calories (olive oil), 140 calories (avocado), 18 calories (cucumber), 81 calories (almonds), 44 calories (cheese), radicchio (9 calories), 50 calories (orange pepper).

*Most calories are from healthy fats, and there is over 40% in just one serving.


E.I Changes Raises Questions

The government has to stop with the one size fits all regulations surrounding government programs such as E.I. The changes may be rectified for some individuals relying on the employment insurance system, but not for others. For example, for people who are employed seasonally, such as fishermen, it is unrealistic and silly to suggest that a fisherman, enjoying a modest standard of living, should have to possibly accept employment in a totally unrelated occupation at minimum wage. Such changes will raise concerns in the realm of worker satisfaction and possibly work-life stress.

These controversial changes to the E. I. system are fundamentally messing with the whole notion of worker satisfaction., which runs deep. With all the scientific literature that exists, we now know that people whose work is satisfying, experience a better overall quality of life. They call in sick significantly less often, their productivity is higher, their mental health is less often affected by work-related stress and anxiety, etc.

So in the Government of Canada’s [GoC] efforts to put Canadians back to work and improve their financial security, they may actually be taking more away from E. I. recipients than it is giving back.

Obama Publicly Affirms his Support on the issue of Gay Marriage: Election-grab or what?

 President Obama today announced that he now supports same-sex marriage, reversing his longstanding opposition amid growing pressure from the Democratic base and even his own vice president.

In an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, the president described his thought process as an “evolution” that led him to this place, based on conversations with his own staff members, openly gay and lesbian service members, and conversations with his wife and own daughters.

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told Roberts, in an interview to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday. Excerpts of the interview will air tonight on ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer.”

Whats your take on the news?

I am not suprised to see Barack Obama drawing media attention to publicly declaring his support for gay marriage.

Political elections specifically presidential ones, are strategically designed so that when support is at an all-time low, one of the top priority options is appealing to a new constituent group. This makes a lot of sense, but it is good for him to finally affirm his standing on this side of the issue.
Though his time as president is ending with the U.S in an even worse financial position, he was dealt a terrible deck of cards. My only hope (advice) is that the voting population base their votes on his decisions, making light of the circumstances of the state of affairs of the administration, when he took office.
The Bush Government did a terrible job running the country, and yes that was quickly apparent too, but many of the consequences of the decisions made by the Bush administration did not rear their head until President Obama took office.
Ron Paul seems to be the candidate with the best ‘plans.’

Link Found Between Routine CDC Vaccinations and Autism in Baby Monkeys

Vaccine Bombshell

While surfing the web today I discovered an article detailing a study conducted by Dr. Laura Hewitson involving monkeys that were administered vaccinations, and then underwent PET and MRI scans of the brain. Results of the study revealed baby monkeys that received multiple injections at 4 and 6 months, showed symptoms associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The injections produced a maturation abnormality, a shrinking of the volume of the amygdala, and an alteration in the binding capacity of [6-O-methyl-11C] Diprenorphine, denoted as, [11C]DPN: a neurotransmitter targeting the opoid receptor.

The amygdala is made up of a web of highly concentrated neurons located in the centre of the brain, and play a vital role in the regulation of emotions ( Frompovich, 2012).

Pretty interesting article. There definitely need to be more studies conducted in this area.  The results of the study are startling, as one blogger called the results a bombshell. Future studies could try to reproduce the same results in monkeys to either credit or discredit the reliability of the initial findings.

In the mean time people should push for the CDC to be held accountable and due diligence, and call for independent researches to replicate the research findings.

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I Write Like & Super Moon

Who do you write like?

So my friends over at Neowin posted an interesting article yesterday including a link to a website called “I Write Like.” The website analyzes your writing style to see which famous writers, to see which writer your most like. Go ahead and check it out. I have always wondered who my writing is most like. I had some text analyzed from a response I posted on Neowin to a forum asking the question, “What makes you proud about your nationality.” I responded, “I am proud to be Canadian because Canada is a land filled with multiculturalism, comprised of people from all ethnicities, so much so, that in major metropolis centres of the country there are far fewer Caucasian citizens that foreign ethnicities. That takes the cake for me: Canada’s wide appeal as a place where diversity brings people together as opposed to segregating them.

And of course most people have heard the “You know you are Canadian when…” My favourite one includes the one used in the Tide commercial:

“No self respecting Canadian says “let’s wait for a warmer day.” — Because much of the time, a warmer day is a long way off.”
“I Write Like” compared my writing style to that of the late David Foster Wallace, a writer of short stories, articles, essays, and a university lecturer.  Go ahead and give it a try and see whose writing style yours is most similar to.
 Also, consider what makes you proud about your nationality? Or are you even proud of your nationality? Think about some of the core (sometimes taken for granted) things you are proud of your country for. In the larger global context, what is in your mind, sets your nation distinctly apart from others?
Did anyone get a peak to see the closets approach of the moon last night?  Unfortunately I did not get a chance to see the super moon, although it was clearly visible across the continent. The sky was full of thick fog blocking the view of the moon from all directions. 

Super Moon in the skies over Muskoka, Ontario, Canada.

Super Moon in the skies over Muskoka, Ontario, Canada.

A so-called ‘supermoon’ shines brightly over a frozen lake in Muskoka, Ont., on March 19, 2011. Image Submitted by Michael W., posted online by

Known as the ‘perigee’-the moon mades its closet approach to the earth in orbit around the sun on May 6, 2012 at a distance of 356,955 km from the Earth. According to NASA the moon appeared 14 percent larger, and 30 percent brighter than other moons this year (CBC News, May 4, 2012).

For more stunning images showing the May 6 Super Moon check out the link below.